Best of 2014 // December 31, 2014

When you are trying to launch your upcoming project, career, or business, Twitter is a great platform for networking. Because the majority of users are public, and anyone can read and interact with your tweets, it allows access to top entrepreneurs, motivators and mentors.

These are our picks for best Twitter accounts to follow in order to boost your business and entrepreneurial efforts.

Entrepreneurs

Eric Knopf (@ericknopf)

Knopf is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved with a variety of small ventures and startups. He is the co-founder of web technology startup Webconnex and his Twitter feed is full of tips and ideas to inspire and empower other budding entrepreneurs.



Penelope Trunk (@penelopetrunk)

As the founder of leading career development community Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk’s Twitter is a must follow stream, with tweets on balancing life, business, entrepreneurship as well as some humorous thoughts on life. Look to Trunk’s tweets for ideas on becoming a better leader and thoughts on how to live a more successful life.


Richard Branson (@richardbranson)

As the founder and driving force behind the Virgin Group, Branson is everyone’s favorite quirky entrepreneur, leading the way for workaholic entrepreneurs to “have their cake and eat it too.” Look to Branson’s Twitter feed for not only his thoughts and insights into business leadership and entrepreneurship, but also for his ongoing volunteer efforts, including eco-friendly, conservation and social good campaigns. Branson also frequently responds to followers, making him an accessible resource for insights on many different topics.

Information & Idea Sharing

Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady)

Looking for someone whose tweets are going to shame you into making your entrepreneurial dreams come true? You’re in the right place. Melinda Emerson is a Twitter favorite; Forbes even named her the #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs. She is an author on becoming your own boss and leads weekly live Twitter chat #SmallBizChat Wednesdays 5-6pm where her community flocks to discuss the latest and provide insights and tips for successful entrepreneurial and small businesses success.

Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki)

Guy Kawasaki is the Co-founder of Alltop, an information and headline sourcing powerhouse, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and a Twitter favorite with over one million followers. Kawasaki is a brilliant businessman and his tweets (lots of them) show his apt dedication to marketing in the digital age, social media and tools to power businesses and personal branding. His feed always keeps you guessing, as he will occasionally throw in some tweets on other subjects, llike politics, health and pop culture.



Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas)

Need some answers on digital marketing, social media or how to harness them for your business? Jeff Bullas’ Twitter feed is the perfect place to look.  Touted as one of Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, he tweets the latest on trending news, social media tips, case studies and insights into social media marketing to help power brands, and businesses.

Like what you're reading? Join Made Woman Mag's mailing list for updates, special promotions and more. Click here!

Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan)

Speaker, author, publisher and CEO/President of Human Business Works, Chris Brogan is helping power your career one tweet at a time. Brogan offers digital courses, mentorships and coaching, and followers get insights into his digital marketing, sales and self-motivating tips through his tweets. Keep tabs on Brogan’s feed for sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes photos and for responses to questions.

Motivators:

Sumaya Kazi (@sumaya)

Entrepreneur, speaker and thought leader, Sumaya Kazi has worn many hats, and followers get a peek at her insights and thoughts on topics like entrepreneurship, young leaders and professionalism, career development, non-profit work, social media, technology and diversity. But don’t be surprised if you spot a couple of tweets on family, college football and salsa dancing sprinkled in her feed.

Brian Moran (@brianmoran)

Business owner Brian Moran describes his work as “helping entrepreneurs and marketers navigate the small and medium-sized business space.” Moran’s followers get all of that and more. Moran tweets his experience as an entrepreneur and publisher and mixes his own views, as well as experiences, tips and advice from other established entreprenuers.

Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll)

As the founder and President for Status Creative, Jeff Barrett not only offers great insight into the developments of the digital world, including marketing, social media, PR and more, he is a great networking resource for entrepreneurs and the business-minded individual alike. He runs the weekly #BareItAll live Twitter chat on Wednesdays at 11 am - noon, often including a guest host and a discussion  on a range of food-for-thought topics on digital, social, PR and pop culture. Barrett also makes himself a resource for others to connect and engage with him.

Who are some of your favorite mentors and motivators to follow on Twitter? Share your thoughts with us and tweet us @madewomanmag!


Published in Business

Entrepreneurship // September 15, 2014

When it comes to developing your professional website to help sell your product or service what's your first natural reaction? Let me guess: overwhelm! I get it.

You have so much value to offer and your job is to distill your greatness and share it online for people to understand in three seconds or less (yup, that’s the average time a person spends on your homepage).

You and I both understand that's not always the easiest task.

Today I'm going to share with you a little secret sauce to selling online (not to be confused with the secret recipe for your Aunt's questionable barbecue sauce). Three pages on your website will help you build relationships and turn online lookers into buyers.

Are you ready for them? Drum roll please.

The three pages are: the homepage (obviously), about page and sales page.

Those three pages are the best place to share your brand personality and get somebody to click the buy button or join your list. They point the reader to the most important things you have to offer and each page can be underpinned with elegant marketing strategies that make an emotional connection with your reader.

Let's break down those three pages, shall we?

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Homepage:

  • At the top start with the bomb.com logo and a tagline that reveals the results you can get for your reader.
  • Next are lovely photos that let your brand personality sparkle.
  • Do not forget your email list opt-in with a killer offer (if you’re not sure what this is all about then we should definitely talk).
  • On the right side bar you can have several button offerings: include a free offer that will entice someone into your sales funnel, a brief synopsis of what you offer and results you will get them and below that can be your best and brightest resources. Don’t forget to add any flagship programs that you offer.
  • Sprinkle in some social proof with client reviews or media badge mentions.
  • And remember the footer can include another list opt-in offer.

CLICK TO TWEET : How to Turn Online Lookers to Buyers @MadeWomanMag via @SarahGrear

About Page:

  • Tell your story and why you are in business paired with results you can get for your client.
  • Insert stunning images that let your brand personality shine.
  • Include your credentials and tell stories about your career journey.
  • Describe how you will leave the reader in better shape than you found them.
  • Include a banner for your list opt-in.
  • The same list opt-in footer can be included from the homepage.

Sales Page:

  • Paint a picture for the reader of what it would be like to work with you.
  • Include your package prices and give each package names that match your overall brand messaging. Don’t be afraid to have a little fun or playful when coming up with the names.
  • Your A La Carte products should be priced to build value into your packages.
  • Do not forget to compose any guarantees and your refund policy.
  • Make it easy for them to reach out to you with a form or your email address.


Phew— can you feel that? We just created the framework for three of the most important pages on your website.

Obviously, adding even more pages later on is fantastic, but in the beginning it helps to have high standards for those three pages before you roll out the rest.

Now I would like to hear how you plan on tackling your website tasks. Exactly what are the most important pages to you? Post them in the comments below.



Published in Entrepreneurship

30 Days of Made // April 25, 2014

This article was part of our series "30 Days of Made: Giving Back." In an effort to create social change, each day we will highlight one charity or non-profit organization, and provide information on how you can support them by giving back. Click here to read more!

When I decided to get a divorce over seven years ago my family was not supportive, so I felt alone, isolated, and disconnected from the world. I lacked the support that I needed at such a transitional period in my life, so I decided to do something about it. My personal need to connect and  my entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and I founded Women Empowered (WE) in 2008. The group initially began as a social support group. I simply wanted to make friends.  What started out so small began to grow rapidly. Women were learning about us through word of mouth and social media. Two years later, I decided to make WE more real and tangible and formed it into a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.   

Currently, I am the Founder and CEO and oversee the organization, fundraisers, and events , among other things. I wear many hats, so my day-to-day operations are always different, which makes for an exciting role. I love it because I am constantly being challenged. But more importantly, I love Women Empowered because it stemmed from such a personal space and other women got involved. Our membership base is so diverse. Women from all walks of life join our organization and all have one common goal, that is, to support other women. It’s really what makes us stand out from the rest of the organizations out there. The diversity and very hands-on approach to our volunteer work is unique and makes me so proud. We are also very personable. I’m from New York, so what you see is what you get. Thus, this motto is the foundation of the organization.  


The majority of our members are either entrepreneurs or are aspiring to be, and also include students and professional women. We host events that facilitate relationship building among our members, empower them, as well as foster their growth professionally and personally. Our programming and events are geared towards educating, connecting, and supporting women. Such events include professional networking mixers, personal development workshops, and panels on various topics. We also provide mentorship to at-risk teen girls in Boyle Heights, host volunteer days at the Downtown Women’s Center, and conduct health and fitness activities and workshops.  We aim to inspire our members to give back to their communities through our group mentoring activities with our mentees.  

As mentioned, I initially began the group to make friends. But what makes this group even more special to me is watching the growing friendship among the other members.  Seeing them collaborate outside of the group brings me so much joy. I cannot explain the feeling I get when I walk into a room at one of our events and watch the connections being made, the support given, and the smiles on everyone’s face. As humans, we innately are social beings, but to be able to facilitate those relationships is what I absolutely love about what I do. And to add on to that, our mentoring program holds a near-and-dear place in my heart. I personally mentor two young girls and to be able to make an impact in a young girl’s life is the most impactful way to truly  give back. It is how you make someone feel that goes a long way. So as a whole, our organization’s mission is  not only to empower our members, but to inspire them to give back to their communities.  And this is why I love WE! 

Support Women Empowered!

Show your support for Women Empowered using the buttons below. Or tweet at them at @WELosAngeles!


Shelly Ulaj is the Founder and CEO of Women Empowered, a nonprofit organization that educates, connects, and supports women of all ages and backgrounds, and inspires them to give back to their communities through mentorship, networking, and volunteerism.   Shelly is passionate about giving back and making a true impact in the lives of others, and as a result of her own personal need to connect with others, she found her calling as a nonprofit leader.  In addition to running and overseeing the organization, Shelly is a also a mentor to two young women.  Shelly is also a contributor to the Huffington Post, and has written articles for the Los Angeles Business Journal, Zocalo Public Square, The Daily Beast, and other publications.  She holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and has also earned her law degree. 

Published in Current

Business // March 24, 2014

When you are trying to launch your upcoming project, career, or business, Twitter is a great platform for networking. Because the majority of users are public, and anyone can read and interact with your tweets, it allows access to top entrepreneurs, motivators and mentors.

These are our picks for best Twitter accounts to follow in order to boost your business and entrepreneurial efforts.

Entrepreneurs

Eric Knopf (@ericknopf)

Knopf is a serial entrepreneur and has been involved with a variety of small ventures and startups. He is the co-founder of web technology startup Webconnex and his Twitter feed is full of tips and ideas to inspire and empower other budding entrepreneurs.



Penelope Trunk (@penelopetrunk)

As the founder of leading career development community Brazen Careerist, Penelope Trunk’s Twitter is a must follow stream, with tweets on balancing life, business, entrepreneurship as well as some humorous thoughts on life. Look to Trunk’s tweets for ideas on becoming a better leader and thoughts on how to live a more successful life.



Richard Branson (@richardbranson)

As the founder and driving force behind the Virgin Group, Branson is everyone’s favorite quirky entrepreneur, leading the way for workaholic entrepreneurs to “have their cake and eat it too.” Look to Branson’s Twitter feed for not only his thoughts and insights into business leadership and entrepreneurship, but also for his ongoing volunteer efforts, including eco-friendly, conservation and social good campaigns. Branson also frequently responds to followers, making him an accessible resource for insights on many different topics.

Information & Idea Sharing

Melinda Emerson (@SmallBizLady)

Looking for someone whose tweets are going to shame you into making your entrepreneurial dreams come true? You’re in the right place. Melinda Emerson is a Twitter favorite; Forbes even named her the #1 Influential Woman for Entrepreneurs. She is an author on becoming your own boss and leads weekly live Twitter chat #SmallBizChat Wednesdays 5-6pm where her community flocks to discuss the latest and provide insights and tips for successful entrepreneurial and small businesses success.

Guy Kawasaki (@guykawasaki)

Guy Kawasaki is the Co-founder of Alltop, an information and headline sourcing powerhouse, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine and a Twitter favorite with over one million followers. Kawasaki is a brilliant businessman and his tweets (lots of them) show his apt dedication to marketing in the digital age, social media and tools to power businesses and personal branding. His feed always keeps you guessing, as he will occasionally throw in some tweets on other subjects, llike politics, health and pop culture.



Jeff Bullas (@jeffbullas)

Need some answers on digital marketing, social media or how to harness them for your business? Jeff Bullas’ Twitter feed is the perfect place to look.  Touted as one of Forbes Top 50 Social Media Power Influencers, he tweets the latest on trending news, social media tips, case studies and insights into social media marketing to help power brands, and businesses.

Like what you're reading? Join Made Woman Mag's mailing list for updates, special promotions and more. Click here!

Chris Brogan (@chrisbrogan)

Speaker, author, publisher and CEO/President of Human Business Works, Chris Brogan is helping power your career one tweet at a time. Brogan offers digital courses, mentorships and coaching, and followers get insights into his digital marketing, sales and self-motivating tips through his tweets. Keep tabs on Brogan’s feed for sneak peeks, behind-the-scenes photos and for responses to questions.

Motivators:

Sumaya Kazi (@sumaya)

Entrepreneur, speaker and thought leader, Sumaya Kazi has worn many hats, and followers get a peek at her insights and thoughts on topics like entrepreneurship, young leaders and professionalism, career development, non-profit work, social media, technology and diversity. But don’t be surprised if you spot a couple of tweets on family, college football and salsa dancing sprinkled in her feed.

Brian Moran (@brianmoran)

Business owner Brian Moran describes his work as “helping entrepreneurs and marketers navigate the small and medium-sized business space.” Moran’s followers get all of that and more. Moran tweets his experience as an entrepreneur and publisher and mixes his own views, as well as experiences, tips and advice from other established entreprenuers.

Jeff Barrett (@BarrettAll)

As the founder and President for Status Creative, Jeff Barrett not only offers great insight into the developments of the digital world, including marketing, social media, PR and more, he is a great networking resource for entrepreneurs and the business-minded individual alike. He runs the weekly #BareItAll live Twitter chat on Wednesdays at 11 am - noon, often including a guest host and a discussion  on a range of food-for-thought topics on digital, social, PR and pop culture. Barrett also makes himself a resource for others to connect and engage with him.

Who are some of your favorite mentors and motivators to follow on Twitter? Share your thoughts with us and tweet us @madewomanmag!


Published in Business
Thursday, 09 January 2014 18:59

MW of the Month | Sarah Amos - Freshwire

Made Woman of the Month // January 13, 2014

The Internet never sleeps. Day and night, content creators are writing copy they hope you want to read. Smart entrepreneurs are recognizing that businesses seem incomplete without a blog or content portion as part of their business plans. Once such entrepreneur, Shawn Amos, keyed in early and started Amos Content Group in 2009 with a team of writers, producers, designers and directors. They provided businesses with branded digital content at a fast pace. Talent shone through and business picked up quickly. The company was soon purchased by Omnicom and re-branded as Freshwire. Business was great, and when Shawn needed a chief creative director, he called in his sister, Sarah Amos. Sarah -- then senior producer at the ABC News’ “World News With Diane Sawyer”-- seemed like a cosmic fit. She had been working her way through different divisions of ABC News, including “Good Morning America” and their national news desk. But with her brother’s company taking off, she decided to take the entrepreneurial leap.

For the majority of her career, Sarah had actually tried to avoid entrepreneurship. She enjoyed the challenges and perks that her job at ABC provided. “I didn’t think I would take the entrepreneurship route. Growing up, I liked theater and storytelling,” Sarah says. Her father, Wallace “Wally” Amos, had gone the entrepreneurial route when he started Famous Amos cookies in 1975. He left William Morris, where he'd worked as an agent, to start a cookie business that grew to be a national brand. Having seen the ups and downs that her father faced, Sarah ruled owning a business as “too risky.” Instead, she worked her way up through a huge news conglomerate, making a name for herself along the way. Unafraid of a big story, she covered Haiti's devastating 2010 earthquake, the 2009 “Miracle on the Hudson” plane crash and the 2008 Bernie Madoff scandal. Sarah even earned an Emmy for her field coverage of the 2007 wildfires in California on “World News.” She worked to bridge the gap between broadcast and digital news production while focusing on creativity and telling authentic stories.

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The team at "World News With Diane Sawyer" was soon knocking on Sarah’s proverbial door. For a young woman who graduated with honors from USC’s Annenberg School for Communication, this was a dream job. “[Diane] sets the standard on a daily basis. She really pushes people to go harder and tell the real story. Working to find the nuances -- the real characters,” Sarah remembers. In 2008, Sarah got to be a part of history, following Bill Clinton during the presidential campaign. “There are moments when I think to myself, ‘I’m really lucky to be a part of this.’ But I know I can always try harder, be a better producer.”

So when things are going so well, why move on? Sarah’s decision to accept her brother’s offer to join the Freshwire team speaks a lot to the state of modern news reporting. In an age where a single tweet can change everything, news sources have to be lean and quick. “You are going to see more brands as publishers and content creators… They can control what is being said, but in a fun way. The roles will continue to blur.” The Freshwire team was ahead of the curve, so over the years, they have become experts at churning out high-quality video, editorial and visual content. Sarah says that brands and corporations are hungry for this type of stuff: “For a brand to be successful they need to create content across multiple platforms and media.” Her seamless partnership with her brother works like yin and yang. She’s now grateful for the opportunity to try a new industry and challenge herself professionally.

While the size of the company she works for has changed, Sarah’s daily struggles as a digital producer have not. Just like at ABC, she has to chase the breaking stories, push herself to create authentic representations and bring passion to the creative process. “My background is in creating a story quickly… I have to jump head-first into a variety of challenges,” she says. Sarah knows that preparation is one of the keys to success. She makes sure to have three contingency plans, her shoot schedules ready and extra interview questions to ask on the fly. “You can have vision and a great idea, but if you don’t have the backbone and structure, it will fall apart quickly.” For others coming up in the content production field, she also recommends going outside your comfort zone and being free and confident in your pursuit of creativity.

In a world where everyone is embracing digital, including the major networks, a huge landscape has opened up for content producers like Sarah Amos. Her dedication to authentic storytelling is what has made her success stretch across platforms and allowed her to connect with new audiences. “So many opportunities have come from me raising my hand… You have to believe in your own worth.” As someone who is never satisfied with the status quo, there is no limit to what she can attain.

Published in Business

Business // May 6, 2013 

Being an ambitious entrepreneur is a gift and a curse. On the one hand you get things done. You have a vision, you started a business and you’re making a difference in this world (and some money). On the other hand, your schedule is overflowing with client work, networking events and business opportunities. There is always something more you could be doing. The questions becomes: How do you fit it all in?

Here are some tips for managing your schedule as a busy entrepreneur:

Focus on the Big Rocks. Stephen Covey famously spoke about putting your “Big Rocks” first. Look at the mission of your business. What are you trying to accomplish? What is your purpose? Each day, think about the three most important things that will help you move forward on your business – your Big Rocks – and create a schedule to get them finished first. Once you’ve completed your Big Rocks for the day, you can move on to less important activities. And on those days that you’re only able to get one or two things accomplished – it happens to the best of us – at least you know you’ve tackled the most important things on your list.

Bucket Your Tasks. Set your schedule up so that you’re working on similar tasks all day. For example, I schedule all client meetings and coaching calls for Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Mondays are reserved for writing and planning. Fridays are my admin day. Creating a solid schedule helps in two ways: 1) you’re not constantly bouncing from task to task and 2) you know exactly what you’ll be working on each day.

Get Rid of the Fluff. Let’s be honest. There are going to be things that just never get done. If you take an honest look at your day’s activities, you’ll see that there are some activities that you’ve picked up along the way that are no longer serving you. Maybe you had a problem saying “no” or maybe it’s something that seemed exciting when you first took it on. Either way, if it is not serving your bottom line, it needs to go. Does this activity align with your purpose and move you forward? If not, then it is time to place it on the back burner.

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Figure out Your Energy Zones. Take a look at your energy levels throughout the day and schedule high energy activities when you feel the most alive. Are you a morning person? Crank through your to-do list early on. Do you find your stride after lunch? Schedule your tough mental tasks then.

Take It Easy. Part of the fun of being an entrepreneur is making your own schedule. Make sure to schedule breaks and down time so that you can refresh. That might mean hitting up the gym during lunch or simply setting a timer so that you take periodic breaks throughout the day. Don’t get too down on yourself for having an off day – we all need a break sometimes.

Keep it Professional. Full time entrepreneurs can find themselves slacking on the rigid scheduling. Early morning meetings are replaced with nooners. Business professional clothes are replaced with PJ’s... all day long. It’s fine to make your own rules if you are running the show, but try not to let all of your professionalism go out the window. Keep a clear, daily schedule even if you don’t go into the office everyday.

Once you are able to lock in a solid schedule, you’ll be able to focus on your revenue generating activities and really grow your business. Get laser focused on the activities that will move you forward and let the rest fall to the wayside. And when in doubt, take a little break!


Published in Entrepreneurship
Monday, 25 February 2013 04:30

Entrepreneurship | Checklist for Start-Ups

Entrepreneurship // February 24, 2013

If you’ve decided to try your hand at running a start-up, you’re brave. It takes a lot of guts to make a go of it on your own. But you’re not alone. Over seven million people make the leap and start their own business each year. That’s a lot of new businesses!

One of the fastest growing sectors of new companies are tech start-ups, where we’re seeing more and more women in charge. While the numbers right now aren‘t great – currently fewer than five percent of tech start-ups are run by women – that number is climbing rapidly.

If you’re a woman thinking of becoming one of these pioneering tech bosses, kudos to you! But that doesn’t mean you can go out there without knowing what needs to be done. Once you decide to get into entrepreneurship, you need to assemble a Start-Up Checklist.

What’s the Start-up Checklist?

It’s every minor thing a woman must do if she is thinking of starting her own company. It’s easy to remember the Big Stuff: get an idea, get an office, get a loan. (Well, maybe not so easy. )

But what about the intangibles that aren’t required by law? Those are the ones  that entrepreneurs sadly overlook quite often. And it’s easy to do because you don’t often read about them.

Unless they’re on your checklist!

So what are these things that need to go on this list?

1. Decide what entity is best for you.

One of the most important decisions an entity can make is deciding how their company will be structured. Will you be an LLC? A corporation? Perhaps a partnership? Whichever one you pick, it will have serious consequences, both for how your business runs and how it is taxed.

Once it’s decided, then you need to draw up your governing document. For an LLC, this is called an OA. For a corporation, it’s called your bylaws. They’re essentially the laws of your company. And they are a necessity if you want to protect yourself.

Picking the best structure for your needs can be the difference between glory and ignominy. Once you organize, you need to get everything down in writing. Especially from your employees.

2. Get an NDA.

A non-disclosure agreement, colloquially known as an NDA, is possibly the most overlooked document that every start-up needs and so few have. It can save your company from losing what is often its most important aspects: that is, its ideas.

An NDA assures that employees can’t spill the beans concerning trade secrets and other sensitive information. But more than just making sure everyone keeps their trap shut, NDAs ensure that in the event that your intellectual property does get out there, you can be compensated for the damages. Otherwise, you might be left with a super unique, money making idea that everyone else has now too.

3. Draw up and employee handbook.

Employee handbooks don’t just tell employees what the policy  is for replacing the yogurt in the company fridge. Employee handbooks act as a way of ensuring there is zero confusion over what employees are allowed to do and what they are not. It clears the air concerning the rules and regulations in the business. And this can be invaluable if an employee ever sues you.

4. Draft an agreement for independent contractors.

The shift to using independent contractors is a trend that’s been sweeping the tech world for some time now. But the line between an employee and an independent contractor is often a thin one indeed. It’s not uncommon for workers classified as independent contractors to sue for the rights normally given to employees. If you haven’t had a worker sign something detailing what the arrangement is, you could be on the hook for providing all the perks to a contractor that an employee gets.

If you haven’t noticed, a lot of these tasks are in place to protect an entrepreneur from going into the courtroom. It’s because that’s the one thing start-ups never dream could happen but often does: legal trouble. Protecting yourself starts with getting it in writing. Of course there are a million things that a new entrepreneur needs to do before they reach success. But this checklist should help you have a smoother ride on the way there.

Published in Entrepreneurship

Made Woman of the Month // January 14, 2013

From the market crash of 2008 to the recent US presidential election, job creation has been at the forefront of political and economic discussions in the US and beyond. In this volatile economic environment, more and more people have ventured into entrepreneurship -- either by choice or by default; and local and national government has adjusted accordingly.

According to the Small Business Association’s (SBA) Congressional Budget Justification for the 2013 fiscal year, the SBA achieved an all-time record of $30 billion in lending support to 60,000 small businesses in 2011. And at a time when budgets are being cut left and right, California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, has created the Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) to help support this growth and integrate small business needs into the way the government is run.

In September of 2012, Barbara Vohryzek was appointed by the governor as the Deputy Director for Small Business and Small Business Advocate of GO-Biz. Barbara, who insisted I call her simply, “B” (she won me over with that fact alone), has always been drawn to small business. She credits observing her father’s business while growing up in San Francisco with giving her an inherent understanding of how they’re run. “I lived with the ups and downs of the business…I knew small businesses – I understood the agony and the ecstasy of that path.  It fit very well into my desire to help people, so the passion came naturally.”

As the seventh of eight sisters, she never felt that being a woman should hinder her in the business world. “[My mother] did not believe that there should be any barriers in any aspect of life simply because you were a woman. I function from this basic belief…aren’t we all human beings, after all?”  This powerful mindset was made evident when she was accepted into UC Berkeley at just 15.  “I was in a hurry, even then!”
Her personal life moved fast too. Barbara was married at 16, had two sons and went back to UC Davis at 22, thinking she’d be a doctor. That quickly changed after she interned at the UC Davis Medical Center ER and Sutter Davis Hospital. “I realized that, while I wanted to help people, working with their bodies in this way was not what I wanted – too much blood for me.” She was already on her way to a degree in Economics, so she decided to continue on that path.
After earning her B.A., she was unsure of what to do next. “Unfortunately, there was limited career guidance at Davis back then (this was 1979).” She had just become a single mom, so her decisions became even more strategic. She applied to graduate school at Davis and came up with a plan: if she could qualify for a teaching assistant job and live in student housing, she’d be able to support her family. And that’s just what she did.
In Barbara’s second quarter of the M.A. program, a chance encounter altered the course of her career. She ran into a friend at the grocery story who was working in the California Office of Economic and Business Development. “I asked if she could get me the roster so I could inquire about internships.” Her friend sent it over, and Barbara called the only woman on the Director/Deputy Director list, Joyce Flannery. “I wanted to call a woman because I was nervous.” Apparently, there was no need for nerves. Joyce asked Barbara to come in, and by the next week she was interning in the Office of Local Development. Just three months later, she moved to a paid internship position.  “I had officially moved into the field of economic development. And the rest is history.”

Since 1987, Barbara has had her hands full. She founded the California Statewide Certified Development Corporation and served as the Executive Director until 2009. She had a daughter from her second marriage during that time, and served as the president of Vohryzek & Co. from 2009 to 2012. In the latter role, she provided consulting services in a variety of areas for small businesses. She’s also served on a number of boards and committees since the ‘80s, including the California Economic Development Lending Initiative (CEDLI), and Somatic Experiencing Trauma Institute (SETI). Clearly, California’s governor knew what he was doing when he appointed Barbara!

Today, with GO-Biz, Barbara serves as the principal advocate in California on behalf of small business. Responsible for representing their views and interests to state agencies, she makes sure that small businesses are aware of the state programs which could benefit them. She advises small business owners to use the free and low cost resources available to them, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration’s website, www.sba.gov, and the GO-Biz website, www.business.ca.gov. “These are good places to begin the search for the expertise and technical assistance resources in [your] community or those that are available on-line.  Those resources can also assist small businesses in the search for the appropriate financing tool for their growth.” Fielding complaints from small business owners and helping them resolve issues is also part of her day-to-day position, in addition to advising GO-Biz regarding legislation and administrative regulations.

In the four months she’s spent in her new position with the GO-Biz team, she has been “learning the lay of the land and starting to map out strategies to address some of the issues which face California’s small businesses.” GO-Biz has launched an Interagency Working Group to create and implement strategies that help businesses to communicate with the State on business matters. They have several small business outreach events planned for 2013, all with the mission of serving California’s small businesses.

Clearly, this appointment is no small feat! But that’s not all “B” has under her belt. Did I mention that she also co-founded a community bank in 2005, now valued at $21 million? In addition to serving on the bank’s board, she serves on the Loan, Assets and Liabilities and Executive Committees. While I’m not sure when she sleeps, she appears to be taking it all in stride; remaining incredibly sweet and eager to help whenever we’ve spoken.

Of course, I had to ask this small business guru her advice on starting a new venture in this economic climate. As far as “It has been my experience that businesses started at the bottom of the economic cycle tend to fare better than those that are started at the top – it makes sense if you think about it.  A business that can survive difficult economic times has the tools to do very well. Starting today gives you that.” Still, she admits that entrepreneurship isn’t for everybody: “I think it’s a great time to start a business if you have the right product or service.  That is the tricky part, and that is what makes entrepreneurship the wild ride that it is.  Not everyone has the stomach for that ride.”

Whether you venture down the entrepreneurship path or not, Barbara maintains that, “you really don’t know what lies ahead – life has a way of moving in directions you could never imagine… Follow [your heart] as much as possible, and [don’t] get too beaten down by the obstacles or failures; sometimes our life’s greatest gifts emerge out of our mistakes and failures.”

Published in Business
Monday, 05 November 2012 03:42

Made Woman of the Month | Liz Norris

Made Woman of the Month // November 5, 2012

You can’t ever say enough about busy entrepreneurs. They juggle their professional and personal lives and (if they are any good at it) become successful. Usually it’s thoughts of self-sufficiency and dollar signs that get these go-getters through the hectic days and sleepless nights. But for Made Woman Liz Norris, there are other things that keep her going.

Liz makes her living as an esthetician. She owns her own salon in Burbank, California and spends her days doing facials and beauty treatments for women from all around LA. She specializes in everything from waxes to lash tinting and prides herself on not only running a professional business but also treating her customers as friends. Liz got into the beauty business because she wanted to help other women feel good about themselves.  “I grew up with acne, and I thought if I could fix my own skin, I could help other people fix theirs.”

Liz in her salon, Vanity Private Studio.

Liz got her start working for others, first in a medical spa and then in various salons. It took some persuasion from a friend and a leap of faith to decide that she would be better off working for herself, and in 2004 Vanity Private Studio was born: “I wanted the freedom to dress how I wanted and make my own schedule…it was the best thing for me.” Today Liz’s venture is a success, and was even voted one of the Best Bikini Waxes in Los Angeles by LA.com. Her client list of over 1200 people continues to grow each week..and it includes yours truly. I trust my eyebrows to nobody other than her! (I have been going to her for 9 years!)

You would think it would be enough to start a successful business and achieve your dream. But after she found success in the beauty industry, Liz found her true passion in caring for animals. When Liz isn’t working in her salon, she is home in Santa Clarita on her 45-acre ranch where she has rescued over 70 animals! 6 horses, 2 donkeys, 4 dogs, 2 cats, 2 rabbits, over 40 chickens, 11 ducks, multiple turtles, a tortoise...the list goes on.

Liz’s selflessness and love for animals is unlike anything I’ve seen before. When I asked her why she felt the need to help so many she said, “[Animals] are helpless. Most people can get jobs and find ways to support themselves. They are at our mercy; they have no control over their life at all... I want to do anything I can to help them.”  And help them she does. Most of her time and money goes into supporting and caring for these animals.

While she has no formal training, Liz says she is becoming “quite the vet” after taking care of so many animals on her own. Her duties can range from nursing a rooster with a respiratory infection to hatching chickens, to dealing with injuries and administering medication. When she doesn’t know what to do she finds her answers through research and Google.  “Thank God for the internet,” she says.Liz, post accident, tends to her horses.

Not long ago, Liz faced a serious injury from a horseback riding accident that left her in a wheelchair.  You’d think that would have slowed her efforts down, but it didn’t. She would wheel herself around picking up bails of hay, balancing them on her lap in order to feed her horses. Every morning she would take her walker to the chicken coup to make sure the birds had food when she could hardly get around herself: “I thought of it as forced physical therapy,” she says.

Now fully recovered, Liz’s normal workday starts at 7am and doesn’t end until 1am. She has a 50-minute drive to and from her salon and before she can leave she has to make sure all of her animals are fed and cared for every day. As I mentioned before, I have been going to Liz for 9 years and I haven’t once heard her complain about it being too much. She truly loves what she does and it’s inspirational to see how one person can take care of so many things and still wake up ready to do it again the next day!

So what’s this Made Woman’s five year plan?  She says she would love to have a place where people can come on the weekends, bring their kids and spend time with the animals. She still wants to run her salon, of course, because she likes the balance of being able to make people feel good about themselves and then coming home to her peaceful ranch and her animals. For Liz, finding success meant becoming her own boss but her true mission in life is to help animals in need.

Published in Business

Enter to Win // October 22, 2012 

There are few things that we at Made Woman love more than seeing women support each other and grow their businesses together. So when we were given the chance to send one of our readers to the upcoming At the Helm: Women in Biz event free of charge, we jumped on the chance.

At The Helm will be held November 10, 2012 in Santa Monica and is a unique event for women in business. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, and community leaders from across the Los Angeles area will join together for a powerful day of learning and business growth. You'll even be able to catch presentations from two of our contributing writers--business coach Nailah Blades and health and fitness guru Christine Kwok.

It is sure to be a powerful day as a diverse group of decision-makers from around Los Angeles are brought together, with dynamic speakers in fields from sales and marketing to personal and business finance, as well as health and legal experts. At this special event, the whole woman will be addressed, as well as what it takes to grow and thrive in a challenging economy.

Enter today for:

  • Engaging discussions and panels
  • Critical advice for growth in today’s economy
  • Vital information on how to become more visible and profitable in a crowded marketplace
  • Quality networking with an inspiring group of L.A. area entrepreneurs, small business owners, and community leaders

Email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it now for your chance to win FREE entry!

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