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.
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!
Think back to the sixth grade. Remember all the trouble you used to get into? What about 7th and 8th grade. Oh, boy. Now imagine how bad things would have been for you (and your parents) if you would have had an iPhone, Facebook and Instagram during these…growth periods. Yikes. Well, kids these days (yeah, I just said that) have all of this and probably a few things we don’t even know about. With these distractions and all the other challenges they face coming up in America, (post-economic meltdown and “KimYe”) it’s not hard to see why trying to instill good morals and values in youths has become harder than ever. We all know it. But for most of us who don’t have kids yet—or even if you do--we feel there’s not much we can do about it.
Kelley Raleigh had a different reaction to this issue. While studying social work at the University of Missouri, she became a Big Sister to a 13-year-old girl and was moved to see the direct impact she had on a young life. The experience inspired her to outreach further and she began to mentor more young kids. Kelley realized pretty quickly that this was her passion and her mission became clear: reach out to kids in order to help them discover their purpose. She began to feel that she was making a difference but the challenges of her newfound passion became clear pretty quickly too, “I realized there was a fine line between wanting to encourage and forcing your ways on someone. I learned to be careful not to put my own ways on [the kids]. I didn’t want to interfere with what parents were teaching them.” Kelley’s passion for mentoring became her career focus after she graduated and she became a program director for the Big Brother and Big Sisters' group mentoring program, teaching college students how to be mentors. She taught the little kids arts and crafts for fun, and lessons like how to be a good citizen. She also formed a committee of teens to produce open mic events, dance performances, short films and art exhibits.
In 2003 Kelley moved to LA and began working with Teen Insight as the Director of Teen Insight & The Institute for Youth Leadership. More than just giving her pupils fun activities to do, Kelley honed in on inspiring them to look inside themselves and figure out what they had to offer the world. She created a four day retreat in Malibu with the goal of developing leadership skills by creating volunteer projects. For three years they met and had each teen volunteer group presented a plan to visit one place in the world they would want to go. The amazing part: in 2009, one of these plans was chosen by Teen Insight to be a real volunteer project! Kelley and her team of family, friends and these amazing young people raised over $120K to pay for their trip to Tanzania, Africa. Kelley and 16 kids, most of whom had never left the greater LA area, traveled across the Atlantic to visit an AIDS orphanage, build classrooms, teach English and give mini versions of the same leadership seminars they held in LA. They even learned Swahili! The trip was three weeks long and it was life changing for all of them. The American students were inspired to change the world in a very real way and many of them signed up to make the trip again in 2011.
Talking to Kelley about this, I was truly amazed. Her easygoing manner belies her deep-rooted passion for creating change through youths. She considers the young girls and boys in her group, and their families, all part of her own family since she has been mentoring them for years. A woman of many talents, Kelley now uses her production background to create rewarding experience for her students. When she left Teen Insight to focus solely on service projects for teens, she started Leading by Example, a multimedia company where kids create positive, message driven content. Recently, the group created a “Stop the Bully” video and held a screening at their school. “I want to ingrain the desire to help others in my students, give them a hands-on experience with making a difference in the world,” Kelley said.
It was a lot of pressure to plan an international trip with young kids, keep everyone safe and healthy, and provide an amazing experience, but she did it all again with her own company in 2012. This time around, Kelley's and her team of youth volunteers visited AMANC, a special hospital in Mexico City for poor children with cancer. There, they practiced healthy visualizations and yoga with the sick, and just spent time with them. The experience was much different, but no less rewarding for Kelley and for the teen volunteer group.
It takes a great leader to inspire others to do good works. Kelley has inspired hundreds of kids to lead better lives for themselves, and to be examples for others. Her dedication to instilling values and creating leaders makes me feel a little bit better about the future of our youth. Hopefully her example will inspire other Made Women to reach out and support those coming up behind us as well.
For more information on Leading By Example please visit http://www.kelleyraleigh.com.
The first day of work is like the first day of school. Both usually involve new clothes and lots of nerves. Take it from someone who just landed a new job a year after hardcore searching, first impressions mean everything. I worked my ass off to hunt for jobs, prepare a cover letter, research the company and complete a few interviews. After lots of intense waiting, one company made me an offer that was oh-so-sweet. I couldn’t refuse, and my first day was quickly upon me. Here are my tips for getting through the big first day with grace and a bit of style:
Early Bird Catches The Boss’ Eye
When my big day came, I woke up bright and early at 6:00 a.m, well-rested from my week-and-a-half break between jobs. On your first day it is more important than ever to get enough sleep and show up on time. Especially if you are driving somewhere new or through traffic, make sure you leave enough cushion to arrive a few minutes early and show up looking perky.
Dress for Success
On my first day I spent a little extra time on clothes and makeup. I even made sure I got a haircut. I skipped buying new business formal clothes as my new employer had a more casual dress code. Despite this, I wanted to look professional on my first day. I needed to prove to these people that they hired the right woman for the job.
Make sure you know the dress code of your new place of employment and plan ahead the day before. Once at work, take notice of what everyone else is wearing to get ideas of what is acceptable for future outfit planning and buying. Although my company does allow us to wear jeans every day if we so desire, I noticed that those higher up in the business dress formally. And you should always dress for the job you want, not the one you have.
The first day is often filled with information, orientation and tours. I am glad I chose the basic heels to wear, as some of my 3-4 inch high wedges wouldn’t have cut it with all the walking. When selecting a bag, you might want to consider a large tote for carting around all your first day items.
Brown Bag or Box It
There are a few essentials you should arm yourself with on the first day. If you don’t have time or are too nervous for a first day breakfast, you can always bring a smoothie to drink on the road or pack a protein bar in your purse. I made sure to bring a Skinny Water with me because I didn’t eat breakfast, and didn’t want my stomach grumbling while meeting people.
Luckily, my boss not only graciously offered to take me to lunch on the first day, but she also showed me around town. I used this rare one-on-one time with her to try and get to know her better. When your boss asks you about your old job, remember to take the high road in answering those questions. As much as I would have loved to share all the horror stories about my previous boss and co-workers over rounds of chips and salsa, I didn’t want to give off the wrong impression. I’m not a complainer. I’m not a gossip. And lunch is only an hour long. Answer as diplomatically as you can and save those stories for later. Like maybe the Christmas party … in three years.
Setting Up Shop
It’s always a happy surprise to see your name already on your cubicle/desk area (bonus points if it’s spelled correctly, too.) If you don’t know the size of your desk area in advance, I would recommend leaving the box of decor and office supplies in your trunk. You don’t want to be lugging a large box around while looking for your cubicle and have it mess up that outfit you worked so hard to iron out.
I don’t think anyone remembers the names of everyone they meet on a first day. Especially in a big company. It is really important to try and nail down your teammates, supervisors, and cubicle mates names first. Try and look at the details of people’s outfits, hair, or offices when meeting them to help them stand out in your mind. And always remember your H.R. person’s name and location. They will be your biggest ally in getting settled in. Give a firm handshake and try to ask questions that will help you make a connection. A smile and eye contact go a long way. You needn’t bombard your boss with questions either. Asking your coworkers questions too will not only help you figure things out, but it will help you break the ice with them as well.
It is a brave endeavor to start the job cycle all over again. Giving up your place high on the totem pole and no longer having a list of trusty contacts who can help at a moment’s need can be scary. Back at my desk all that awaited me was a computer screen with no saved mail folder keeping all the good work related jokes; no familiar screen saver. For a second I missed the familiar comforts of my old office. But then I realized that this was the blank canvas I had been dreaming of for a year. Try not to dwell on the comforts you left behind at your former job. Look forward with enthusiasm at what is waiting for you.
Talent can bring you fame and fortune, take you around the world, and, if you’re lucky, allow your wildest dreams to come true. It takes a true Made Woman to look past her own talent, and all it brings, and still be passionately inspired to help others. Adrienne Mari'ya does just that. No stranger to talent, she grew up watching her family tour the world in a group called The Honey B’s, witnessing firsthand what it took to be a successful entertainer. Adrienne had her first show at eight years old, dancing with Pebbles at the Universal Amphitheater. Adrienne went on to sing and dance in her first group at the age of 13 and this was when her talent as a dancer took center stage.
Adrienne was soon working with acts like the Rolling Stones, Rihanna, Far East Movement, Madonna and even danced in a video with her idol, Janet Jackson. Her dancing career was taking off at a whirlwind pace, but Adrienne stayed grounded. A single mother of two, she felt a duty to her kids and her community. In 2008, she saw that her kids’ after school program was in jeopardy due to budget cuts, and she felt something should be done. When her daughters expressed a desire to enter a dance competition, Adrienne took matters into her own hands and became a volunteer with the program. With no money and no other qualified dance instructors to help, she started Urban Xtreme and Team Xtreme, meant to provide positive activities to kids in the area.
Adrienne used her God-given sense of showmanship and ingenuity to teach the kids in her program how to wow audiences. Her shoestring budget meant that she had to shop for costumes anywhere she could, including the thrift store, and from her own closet and she did hair and makeup for the kids herself. Despite the challenges, she provided encouragement and compassion to the kids every step of the way. “I’m not in the business of what can’t you do, I’m in the business of what can you do. I had one kid who could only do the worm, and I told him ‘if the worm is all you can do you are going to do the worm across the stage!’” Adrienne recalls.
The movement Adrienne started quickly grew. Urban Xtreme won third place in their first competition and second place in the next one. As the wins piled up, people couldn’t help but take notice. Donations started rolling in.The sets got bigger, the concepts more imaginative, and Adrienne found herself building full Alice in Wonderland sets and creating costumes for 20 children at each show. This alone would be a huge undertaking for anyone, but Adrienne somehow found time for this project, her own singing/dancing career, and her management/full service entertainment company, Entertainment Vision Group. The joy and fulfillment of passing on a love of performing arts and of being a part of her children’s lives kept her going. “I had never seen my daughters so confident,” she says. So when Adrienne’s daughters and a few others on the dance team asked for help creating a submission video for a competition show on the Disney Channel called Make Your Mark- Shake It Up, she couldn’t say no.
The motto she passed on to her kids was always “show up and show out!” To her, this means there is no right or wrong in creativity; just be present, do it and go all out. She made sure to stay true to it for the video. She and the other parents helped the kids take over Hollywood Boulevard. They created a 17 foot long banner and stood in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater, and then created all the routines. Click here to see all the cuteness.
Lo and behold, Urban Xtreme made the top 50 out of 100,000 submissions. They were asked by execs at Disney to quickly put together another video, and soon made it to the top six on Make Your Mark- Shake It Up, Disney’s highest rated show. Adrienne’s drive and dedication helped to push this team to over 30,000 followers on Twitter, over 100,000 views on YouTube and onto the cover of Entertainment Weekly alongside Justin Beiber. Adrienne, always the humble one, is clearly overwhelmed by the success of her team, saying excitedly, “It wasn’t even a thing! God uses the most unlikely people in the most amazing ways.” Urban Xtreme is now sponsored by Vlado Footwear and is working on their debut single with Grammy award winning producers. This has become a team effort with friends and family members of the dance team pitching in to make this happen.
In a beautiful example of reciprocity, God had more in store for Adrienne. One day she received a call to audition for the Michael Jackson This Is It tour. This non-technical dancer found herself on stage competing against 2,000 other dancers for a spot on tour with the best who’s ever done it. She had stayed up practicing all night before the audition, but she was still nervous: “I just asked myself, ‘what would Janet do?’” Adrienne killed it. She advanced first to the top 40, and then to the top 17 women. And then the big moment came. Michael showed up to pick the finalists. Adrienne took the same advice she had always given her kids – she showed up and showed out. Adrienne was called by name and was promised a place in future shows and the Vegas review.
When the King of Pop passed it was hard for Adrienne, who considers working with him the pinnacle of an entertainer’s career. But nothing will stop this ball of energy. She still commits much of her time and energy to Urban Xtreme, which serves as its own reward, but also continues to open doors for her. Recently, she opened for Dwele and does motivational speaking and hosting for the Urban Xtreme school tours. She continues to pass along the knowledge gained from years in the industry: “My mother told me Hollywood is 90% business, 10% talent, and there is no truer statement. Hone your kids’ craft and treat it like a business. Don’t just sign anything because a major label says so. Teach your kids to know their worth. And that if they aren’t likeable nobody will want to work with them.’” Adrienne Mari’ya proves that talent, rooted in good character, truly has no limits.
If you’re searching for a job, here’s something you already know: it sucks. There’s nothing fun about going through hundreds of job listings, tailoring your resume to each one and firing it off into the abyss, not knowing if it’s ever even going to be viewed by a recruiter. Looking for employment is a job in itself, and it sucks up time, energy, patience, and probably a lot of your sanity.
I was just like you. Applying to every job that even remotely related to my skillset and going months without so much as a “you’re useless” email in response. I had basically the same framework for a resume my entire time job hunting, but I only started getting hits for interviews in the past few months. So what changed? After a lot of trial and error, and rewriting my resume every single time I sent it out, I finally got it to a good place…started getting calls for interviews — a victory in itself in the overcrowded job market — and just recently accepted a job offer (hurray!). I spent a year tirelessly searching for a new opportunity, and if there’s some sort of instant, miracle advice to land the perfect job, I certainly don’t know it. But what I can tell you is that there definitely are some ways to get yourself noticed. Here’s how I got there:
Do NOT just make up one standard resume and send it out for every job. A generic resume that can apply to all sorts of jobs is not going to convince anyone that you’re a good fit for the job in question. You need to put in that time to read the job description and illustrate how your skills apply to it. Be specific. You should go so far as taking keywords in the description and literally putting them in your resume. Recruiters get hundreds upon hundreds of applicants for each job listing. Their eyes are going to skim over each application and look for the most critical skills. Anything that doesn’t have them? Trash!
I added a line at the very top of my resume that specifically mentioned the job I was applying to, and then listed several sentences underneath it about how I am that person. It doesn’t matter that my current job is something different; I can be that person you’re looking for and here are x, y, z reasons why. Your first sentence should be compelling and confident. For example, mine is: “Driven, efficient and customer service-oriented marketing professional with experience managing the social media presence of an online magazine.” I was mostly applying for jobs in marketing or social media related fields. This opening sentence flat out states exactly who I am and what I do. When I changed this sentence from what it was before, suddenly I started getting calls.
There’s a reason networking gets mentioned all the time. The more people that you talk to and let know that you’re looking for new opportunities, the more likely someone might actually refer you somewhere. Bring it up to everyone you talk to. Seriously! If you work in a big company, take advantage of it and try to set up informational interviews with people in fields you are interested in. Most execs are more than happy to talk about what they do and how they got there. You’ll get valuable insight, and they might also keep you in mind should something open up in their department. It’s good to have friends in high places, y’all.
Google is a beautiful thing: it makes finding things ridiculously easy. This can also come back to bite you in the arse. I Googled myself not long ago and was shocked to see that an essay I wrote in 6TH GRADE is actually online somewhere. When an employer Googles me, they get to read “What The American Flag Means To Me” by a 12 year old version of myself. Lucky them. My point is, you need to know what is out there about yourself. If you have a public Facebook or Twitter page, you’d better believe that you’re going to be judged by it. Either protect your accounts, or make sure that you don’t have anything up that might raise eyebrows.
You have talents and skills — show them off! Buy your own website under your full name and think about starting a blog. You don’t need to be considered an “expert” to do this. You can write or tweet about your thoughts on things relevant to your field. It will make you appear more credible and competent. If writing really isn’t your thing, you can also just buy some webspace and post your bio/resume on it. That way if people Google you (and they will), it will be one of the first things they see. It’s worth the investment of your time, and it’s really not as hard as you may think.
And there you have it! None of these are magic keys to a new job, but if you utilize all of them, you’re definitely going to increase your chances of meeting your goals.
Let me know if I missed any great tips that have helped you. And happy hunting!
British born, Barbara Sealy’s story is marked by many things. Pain and poverty, hurt…numerous trials and tremendous growth. But her story also represents the essence of achievement, of victory. Last week, I was honored -- or shall I say, “honoured”-- to hear some of Barb’s remarkable story first-hand. In her lovely English accent.
Born and raised in Forest Gate, a community in London’s East End that she compared to US’s inner cities, Barb had a rough childhood. Originally from Barbados (an English colony), she and the rest of her large family arrived in the East End of London in the ‘50s to find a new, diverse community with people from a variety of backgrounds. Growing up, Barb faced extreme poverty and abuse from her father, until her mother took on raising her and her brothers and sisters alone. From an early age, Barb loved music and started using it as an escape: she would lose herself in music and film, and she and her siblings would sing together to cope with their often tumultuous environment. As early as her teens, Barb had inherited a strong work ethic from her mother; she remembers vowing that she would do everything in her power to keep other children from experiencing what she had in her household.
As an adult Barb visited the States on a vacation in 1987, and a year later she decided to make the move permanent. Whereas back home she had never been encouraged to think about career options (she was more focused on survival), she knew deep down that there had to be something more. By now she knew that she wanted to help people and be a philanthropist, but she wanted her work to be tied into music somehow. “Music lifted my spirits,” she reflects. “I said if I can help another child not feel isolated or scared, and show them -- through music -- that they can achieve what they want, it would be really cool.” And that’s just what she set out to do.
Barb’s first jobs in the US included working for companies like Disney, as an administrator in the Video Division, but she credits her time working with the Grammys as the biggest learning experience of all. As the assistant to Michael Greene, the President of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Barb was truly tested. “Because of how I was raised, I didn’t really have the social skills to help me to see how the corporate side of the world really works... I saw how somebody ran a company from the inside and it really set me up to do what I'm doing now.”
During this time, she met Robert (Bob) Brodhead, and they immediately clicked. They came from similar backgrounds and both had a mission to help young people. The two were asked to start the West Coast operation of the Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz, an organization that has been thriving in Washington, D.C. for years. In this role, Barb worked to bring the jazz program to inner city kids by building after-school programs and other ventures to keep music education alive. She spoke to music departments at South-Central schools like Hamilton and Washington and found corporate sponsors like Nissan and the NBA to help support the programs. At one point, she coordinated a multi-school jazz band with, Reggie Andrews of Locke High School, that would play pre-game and halftime shows for the Lakers!
During her time with the Institute, she put together a scholarship fund and raised well over a million dollars to help students go to college. “Kids who would not have the opportunity financially were able to attend UCLA, USC, the Manhattan School of Music and the Berklee School of Music. The Monk Institute was very successful.”
What’s more, she taught these students that a solid career in music is not about fame. “I always taught that it’s more about having a career and supporting themselves doing what they loved. Do what you love and the money will come. In the meantime, you must know how to run a business and balance your checkbook.” These weren’t official classes, but kids would hang out after the program and ask Barb and her team about these realities. “They weren't learning this stuff at home. Nobody told them what would happen if they didn't do these simple, but life-changing things.”
After the success of the Thelonius Monk Institute, Barb turned around an after school program called Colors United, and then she and Bob Brodhead founded Creative Counseling Network (CCN) in 2006. Both programs were supported in large part by Barb’s close friend and January’s Made Woman of the Month, Barbara Vohryzek.
With CCN, Barb and Bob created a program that offered performing arts training, as well as mental health treatment. “One thing we noticed when working with other nonprofits was that we were providing great shows and entertainment, but the kids still had to go back to their environments and lacked the mental tools to carry the positivity through.” Sanctioned by the Department of Mental Health, CCN offered psycho-social rehabilitation, and involved social workers and therapists.
After CCN, the unthinkable happened in Barb’s life. She experienced a huge health scare that left her bedridden and fighting for her life. During this dark time, her former students and friends gave her another reason to keep fighting. “I said, I can't just lay here or I'm going to die. Part of what kept me going is that many of my students, like Miles Mosley, had called me; they had graduated and gotten their degrees, but the music landscape had changed and they didn't know where to start. So it came to mind that I should create a music management company to represent some of the people that had come through my programs over the years.” So Barb decided she would See it into Being -- and created SB Music Management.
Barbara started managing multiple artists from her house, even though she struggled just to leave her bed each day. Many of her artists weren’t even aware of her illness, and knowing she had to make a call or send an email was what gave her the resolve to move from her bed, to at least her couch (“I contemplated calling it On the Couch Productions!”); this was literally the difference between her life or death. “Other people give you things to fight for, so you start to fight for yourself,” Barb recalls.
Today, Barb’s music management company is thriving, and she has seen artists like Miles Mosley, described as the Jimi Hendrix of the upright bass, grow to have hugely successful careers. Miles’ group, the West Coast Get Down, is a collective of jazz musicians who have traveled the world together, playing for people like Carlos Santana, Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, American Idol and the Voice.
By setting her artists up for longevity, Barb is “trying to change the face of management and the music industry by showing artists that they can have well-rounded music careers.” Miles Mosley, for example, has also carved out a niche in the film and video game trailer world, composing scores for major film trailer houses, publishing companies, web series and multiple Viacom projects.
The amazing thing is that through it all, Barb has stayed true to her life’s purpose. She has helped countless young people not only overcome seemingly insurmountable odds, but to gain independence and thrive as well-rounded artists and individuals. “I wanted to teach people to become adults the best way they know how... Just because you came from a hard background, it doesn't mean that you can't have dreams. Young people need to see that they have a place in the world, regardless of their circumstances. But they also need to know that nobody gives you anything; you have to work for it.” If they’re in need of an example of hard work, they don’t need to look too far.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Happy New Year! There’s something so exciting about a brand new year. Whether you believe in making resolutions or not, there is something to be said about having a blank canvas to work on for the next twelve months.
Goal setting is awesome. And it’s totally necessary if you want to keep moving forward and creating an amazing life for yourself. However, during this time of year, so much focus is placed on creating new habits that we end up setting ourselves up for failure by creating unrealistic goals. Or we just talk the talk in January and don’t walk the walk the rest of the year. Let’s talk about how to set – and more importantly – reach your goals in the New Year.
First, let’s think about your theme for the upcoming year. If you could encapsulate 2013 in one sentence, what would it be? I’ll wait... Now let’s dive even deeper and reduce that sentence down to one word. What one word would completely sum up the next year for you? For me it’s “Breakthrough”.
Next find a quiet spot, close yours eyes and envision yourself a year from now. It’s December of 2013 and you’re reflecting on the last year. What has happened during the past year? What went well? What have you accomplished? Of what are you most proud? And what have you learned from your experience? Write down your feelings, accomplishments, and a-ha moments.
With all of this in mind, you’re going to set your goals for 2013. It may be helpful to bucket your goals into certain categories, like Personal Growth, Work, Health – whatever makes the most sense to you. For each category, set an overall goal followed by 3-5 specific tactics. For example:
Overall Goal: I will complete a marathon by October 31st, 2013.
Basically you are going to take your big overall goal and figure out what it would take to make that thing happen – those are your tactics. Make sure that your goals are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.
A note about goals – sometimes less is more. It is far more important to focus on making one major change and doing it right than it is to do fifteen things half-assed. Use your own personal compass to determine how many things you can tackle at a time. Goals don’t have to be boring or serious either. Maybe your overall goal is to have more fun this year or inject more adventure into your everyday life – those are both perfectly acceptable goals.
What are you longing for in your life? What would help you become the best YOU you can be? Set goals that will help you achieve this picture.
What is your biggest goal for 2013? Let us know in the comments below!
Brace yourself. I am about to divulge my morning routine. Perhaps when I find my one and only, I’ll spend my first waking moments staring at his handsome face while he sleeps. Until then, here it goes…
6:30am: Alarm goes off.
6:31am: Hit snooze.
6:41am: Hit snooze.
6:51am: Open eyes. Check text messages.
6:52am: Check missed calls and voicemails.
6:53am: Check emails.
6:54am: Check Facebook.
6:55am: Check CNN
7:00am: Morning run.
So, at least I get a morning run in, right? It’s pretty sad that the early moments of my day are spent “plugging in.” Truth be told, the only time I’m not readily connected to the Internet or reachable via text is when I’m sleeping. It’s the same way for many of my friends. No longer can we just turn our computers off and walk away from the mesmerizing Internet. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 90% of adult Americans have a cell phone, and 50% of them use it to browse the Internet. That, combined with the fact that more people are freelancing and becoming entrepreneurial, makes it almost impossible to disconnect. Who knows when they’ll receive an important email, a job offer, or god forbid, an emergency phone call?
Learning to unplug on a daily basis may be too large a task at the moment. But what about taking a periodic vacation? It should be easy to stop working, unplug and lay on the beach with a Mai Tai…right? Not necessarily. Checking email, texts and Facebook becomes such an ingrained habit that even a beautiful, sandy shore can’t distract you. So, for right now, here are a few suggestions on how to unplug during a vacation:
Alert Those Closest to You About Your Vacation and Why It’s Important
This goes for family as well as co-workers. Of course you’ll tell your mom, your best friend and your boss that you’re leaving town. But I’ve learned that dropping hints about said vacation and its importance will encourage them to leave you alone. Emphasize the aspects of your holiday that you’re looking forward to: relaxing, spending quality time with a loved one or exploring. When a couple goes on their honeymoon no one ever calls, texts or emails them. That’s because everyone understands the significance of the moment.
Set Auto-Response on Your Email
I’ve always believed you should never email when you can call. If someone has something important or urgent to discuss with you, they will call. If not, they will email. Setting up an auto-response about your limited availability will keep those eager for a quick response at bay. Auto-response will act like your personal assistant letting clients or co-workers know who to contact in your absence. Everyone else will just be inspired by your vacation.
Travel ‘Tech’ Light
Very rarely does anyone go on vacation without work to do. Figure out exactly what needs to get done during your precious down time and if you really need your iPhone, iPad and iBook. When I have writing to complete on vacation, I leave my computer at home and bring a journal. This helps reduce my urge to search for free Wi-Fi.
OK. You have work to do and there’s no way around it. May I suggest that you schedule time to plug in? Give yourself a time limit. Maybe you’ll work online from 8am to10am. Whatever you choose, once your time is up, it’s up. Shut everything down and go enjoy your day of freedom!
Vacations and holidays are supposed to be set aside for relaxation, adventure and/or family time. We usually allow ourselves a short break in discipline. So, of course it should be easier to break free from our need to be accessible during our time off. With that said, I do believe it’s important that we learn to set boundaries at all times. For the record, last week I found myself without a cell phone for an ENTIRE day. At first, I was uneasy. By the end of the day, I was relieved. Who cares that I’d missed 5 phone calls and a couple of texts. At some point, I’d forgotten about my nagging need to hit refresh on my inbox, and I took the time to be thankful for and enjoy the sun, my freedom, and the company I kept.
There are certain protocols all employees must follow while working in the office. The basics, such as, “business attire at all times, with the exception of casual Fridays,” are burned into the memory of all cubical dwellers. But what about those “unspoken rules”? You know, those rules that some co-workers never seem to grasp? In efforts to save us all from a major fall-out, we here at Made Woman would like to take this opportunity to enumerate some of the biggest office blunders:
1) Talking too much, too early in the morning. Excessive talking and office gossip is never desirable, as it prevents people from getting their work done and does wonders at pissing off your boss. And it is particularly annoying early in the morning. Most of us have probably experienced the one co-worker who doesn’t even allow you to pour yourself a cup of community coffee before they are bombarding you with information and stories that you are too groggy to even listen to. In short, A.M. silence is golden.
2) Never contributing to the office kitchen. You know all those miniature coffee creamers, Equal, and utensils? Someone bought them and brought them to the office. Or that box of donuts you discovered the same morning you woke up late with no time to eat breakfast? Someone bought those too. Try not to be the co-worker who never brings anything to the office kitchen, especially if you are using the supplies. Bake a batch of muffins, or pick up some bagels on your way in. Sharing is caring.
3) Playing your music too loud. If you are lucky enough to have a boss who does not mind you grooving to Pandora during the work day, don’t overdo it. You don’t want to be the co-worker who assumes that everyone loves Norah Jones as much as you do. If you have to bump your Mary J. Blige CD from 1992 on repeat all day, please purchase some headphones first.
4) Spilling your personal business. We get it, you had a great weekend that culminated in the greatest sex you have had in months. But is this really something you should loudly share with your co-worker as you exchange file folders with pertinent company information? Save the girl talk for lunchtime or happy hour.
5) Making long (detailed) personal phone calls. Sometimes, things happen during the day and you get the burning desire to call and tell someone about it. Or perhaps your latest boo is giving you a midday call and you can’t resist answering. Don’t be the person in the office who allows everyone to overhear a conversation they should not having during the workday anyway. Utilize that email or text messaging, girl! (You’re probably paying a boatload for it).
We know office blunders happen, but let’s all try to not make them bad habits. Have a great workday, Made Women!