Thu, 29 June 2017
Hundreds of you answered our community survey (thank you!) and over the next several months we’ll be using that information to bring you the content you said you need from us. Seriously, I wish I could call everyone who responded and give you a business coaching session, a pep-talk, or a long distance hug! Since that’s not exactly practical, my team and I will do the next best thing. The next several solo episodes we release will my very raw and real answers to questions that came in through the survey. These podcast episodes are just one of the many ways we’ve got planned to use this survey to bring you actionable information.
One of our favorite questions we asked you was, “If you could ask Beth Anne anything, what would it be?”
And an interesting, often repeated reply was this cut-to-the-chase one, “Do you ever feel like giving up?”
My honest answer?
To be even more honest, I'll tell you that it’s not a feeling that ever goes away. There are certainly moments where I think maybe all the work and stress aren't worth it and it would be much more luxurious if I could just read books at naptime.
Especially for those of us who are fortunate enough to not require a second job for our families to make it, the temptation to close up shop can be incredibly tempting! It makes staying motivated to keep going that much more difficult.
In this episode, I want to offer a few takeaways and truths that I hope will help.
The Heart Behind Brilliant Business Moms
Something else you all wanted to know is how I stay so positive, perky, and happy. It made me happy to hear from a lot of different people that you get that perspective. But, once again, I may need to burst your bubble. I’m not that happy and perky all the time! This is real life, I’m a real person and I’m super flawed.
I’m a person of extremes. That super mellow, calm and steady type? That’s my husband! Me? I’m either super happy, or super frustrated. Believe me, there are tons of times my team gets to see the spitfire side of me. Don’t get me wrong, I truly am happy and positive a lot of the time, but not all the time. Because I have supportive people in my life who pick me back up, and I can be happy and positive for you all. Chris, most of all, and my wonderful team members are always there to encourage me when I’m feeling down about the business. I hope you have wonderful people like this in your life.
But the biggest reason I can stay happy and positive is because of my faith. I am a Christian, and I believe that there’s a purpose for everyone who exists on this planet. I believe that I’m called to more than just taking care of my own selfish desires. That is a huge part of how I stay happy and encouraged. I want to be real and authentic and I simply could not create this episode without sharing what’s at the core of my heart.
Another thing that keeps me going are the even bigger goals and visions for how Brilliant Business Moms can serve others. I want to use the income I bring in from Brilliant Business Moms to build orphanages in India and other places! Thinking about the ways we can minister to orphans and children with special needs totally keeps me going.
And while we’re talking about it, let me share a bit more about these future plans. To lay the foundation, income and profits are two different things. Right now, a big portion of my revenue pays my team and another chunk goes to Facebook ads to keep things growing. And then I take a portion for my paycheck. But there is SO MUCH MORE I want to do. I want to make giving back a huge part of my business. And to be honest that’s what can really discourage me the most. I want to see bigger growth, bigger profits. Not to pad my pockets, but to help others in bigger ways.
Right now, my primary job is to be a wife and mom. I can’t run myself ragged and neglect my own family in the process of building this business. But I do have crazy big dreams for the coming years. Stay here with us, and you’ll get to join along.
That’s it for this episode. I hope if you’re having a rough week or month, you’ll be ready to take a breather, or get right back up again! Know that you can use your business to make a difference.
Mon, 19 June 2017
Laura Clark of Whole Food Nanny is a busy mom of 3 crazy cute kids, and wife to Mr. Clark. Whole Food Nanny is dedicated to helping families make healthy eating part of their lives. She focuses on eating less processed foods - especially sugar - and a lot more whole foods. (I have to admit I need help with this!)
On the Podcast
1:15 - Eating Healthy as a Mompreneur
7:16 - Getting More Energy
12:20 - Simple Substitutes for Sugar
14:28 - Final Thoughts on Healthy Eating
16:40 - Custom Diet Recommendations for Me
19:50 - Turning A Passion for Healthy Eating Into A Business
27:24 - Course Idea to Creation
31:08 - Making Sales
32:40 - Laura’s Adorable Mom Moment
Eating Healthy as a Mompreneur
Before asking Laura how she started and grew her business, I wanted us all to benefit from her knowledge around healthy eating. So many moms struggle with making healthy eating part of our daily lives, particularly getting our children to enjoy healthy eating! What tips does Laura have for busy moms to get and stay healthy?
#1 Get away from packaged items at grocery store!
One of the biggest ways moms can set themselves up for health is to eat mostly whole foods, instead of processed. How? Ditch packaged items - it’s that simple, and that hard! Over the years, Laura’s family has found ways to seamlessly incorporate this choice into their diet - keep reading to learn how.
And to give a quick definition, whole foods are foods that come from the Earth, are nutrient dense, and make our bodies work as they should. Foods with artificial colors and flavors disrupt our natural processes, and can sap our health and energy and are largely why we have so many health issues occurring today.
#2 Swap the Quick and Easy for the Whole and Healthy
Keep it simple. If you want a snack, grab an apple or banana. Grabbing a piece of fruit is just as simple opening a snack from the pantry. Not only will you feel fuller from the whole food, but you’ll get nutrients to help you and your kids feel good inside.
(Now that Holden is older, I can just give him a whole apple! It even tastes better to him than cutting into slices. It’s such a simple thing: but just eat the whole apple!)
Cook in bulk. Believe it or not, Laura hates to cook! She loves giving her family healthy food, but she’s ALL about not spending an entire day in the kitchen. One thing she does is always cook in bulk. So if she makes a batch of muffins, she will make more to add to lunches or use for snacks after school. (Make Laura’s Banana Blueberry Muffins!
Soups are a quick and easy dinner. It’s simple to put the leftovers in mason jars and freeze them for lunches another day. Laura’s family loves soup and I love that these dinner ideas aren’t gourmet, but they taste good and don’t take all day to make.
#3 Get your kids involved with meal prep.
Learning to cook teaches our kiddos basic life skills, not to mention saves you time! Feel free to give your children age appropriate ways to help: setting the table, helping with dishes, or cutting the carrots.
Really, we often just lack creativity or knowledge to make things simpler in the kitchen. This is where places like Laura’s site come in handy! There are so many great ideas and recipes at WholeFoodNannycom.
Getting More Energy
What mom business owner DOESN’T need more energy!? The number one culprit of our lack of energy is sugar. Really! But what sugar are we talking about, exactly? Added sugar. Not sugar straight from the cane, or the sugar found in fruit and dairy. What we’re talking about is any sugar added, either by you or a factory.
When you start cutting back on sugar, you’ll really notice how much better you feel. You might feel worse at first, because you’re going through sugar withdrawals. (Eeek! How bad is that!?) 90% of all processed foods include added sugar. And added sugar, well, adds up quickly!
Being a busy mom can make us tired already but believe it or not, over consuming sugar is making us even MORE tired. Not to mention we might be parenting unnecessarily badly-behaving kids who have eaten too much sugar.
Simple Substitutes for Sugar
What could we use instead of added sugar in our foods? Laura had several ideas for us.
Final Thoughts on Healthy Eating
It’s easy to automatically think of brownies or chocolate or sugar cereal when we mention cutting out sugar. But the reality is that there is sugar added into 90% of the processed foods in our grocery stores! That’s right, sugar isn’t even primarily found in desserts
Everyday items like flavored yogurts, spaghetti sauces, and crackers all have added sugars. Even inconspicuous items like breakfast drinks and protein shake powders are sugar culprits! It may not seem like much, but when you consume it all day long, it adds up fast. Laura says most diets we could consider to be “healthy” have quadruple the amount of recommended sugar because they’re full of processed foods with added sugar.
Laura provides an unprocessed grocery list you can use even at mainstream grocery stores, and that list is a great place to start--no weird items--at Get Eating Clean.
Custom Diet Recommendations for Me
Okay, so when Laura said yogurt often has added sugar, I had to press! I love yogurt, but I usually choose the flavored kinds. What would be a good alternative for me?
Laura pointed to Stonyfield brand as the most natural brand-- but make sure to get their plain kind as even a vanilla will have added sugar to bring the flavor. And Laura recommends full fat yogurt, as it is less process than low fat.
You can always check the ingredient list and nutrition facts to get the scoop on sugar levels in food.
But let’s be real, I may feel a little sad because plain yogurt wouldn’t taste great at the start, how could I change it up? Laura had great ideas!
The big idea here is that YOU are the one in charge of how much sugar and what type of sugar you’re putting into your food.
Turning A Passion for Healthy Eating Into A Business
Laura was getting more and more into working out and started listening to podcasts while she did. (Great idea, Laura!) She really loved Chalene Johnson’s Courageous Confidence Club, and it got her thinking maybe she could start a business too.
Like so many other SAHMs, Laura believes that moms need something for themselves. For example, before starting her business, Laura taught Zumba classes. And Whole Food Nanny was a project she thought she would really enjoy, and could make some money from at the same time.
The Clark family’s journey to whole foods started with Laura’s 7-year-old daughter. For an intense two-year period, Laura studied health and nutrition in an attempt to treat her daughter’s symptoms: asthma, ear infections, and debilitating food allergies.
As she researched, she found her daughter had a diet problem because, as she learned, food will always affect our bodies, either now or later.
Laura’s family decided to make small changes and those changes really started to add up. Laura wanted other moms to see the difference that sustainable changes, not crazy extreme diets, can truly make. We love her heart to help other real moms!
Course Idea to Creation
Much like her approach to whole foods, Laura’s approach to course creation is refreshingly simple.
She started by sharing this transformative information on Periscope (a live video social network), and this try at her beta course was very successful! She had a link in her bio to PayPal (so smart!) and was blown away by the response.
Next, Laura upgraded to a full website, and created a course on reducing sugar intake.
First, she outlined her course modules, then she filled out the content. She first sent it out as an ecourse, and once again the response validated the idea.
This fuller paid course does offer more hold handing to help people understand which foods benefit them and how students can practically implement those diet changes. Once again, Laura outlined her content, wrote it, and recorded her modules.
First she did her recording from her manuscript, then created her slides, and then purchased a place to house the course.
As we all know, there is a ton of trial and error with a business!! She got some helpful feedback from her initial students and has currently pulled off her course for editing, but it’ll be back soon.
Initially Laura took payments via a Paypal link on her Periscope bio. Is that still an effective way to make sales? Laura says, for sure, her best tool for making sales has been live video. It’s great to have a way to connect with people directly and sale your product. (Definitely! Periscope isn’t where I hang out, but I love Facebook Live and live Webinars are an incredible way to build a following!)
Laura’s Adorable Mom Moment
One Sunday Laura styled her hair differently for church, but felt really self-conscious about it all morning! Coming home, she asked her daughter if her hair looked good that day.
Her daughter replied, “No mom, it looks terrible. In fact, you should have asked me before church!”
Kids are SO brutally honest!
Connect with Laura
Site: Whole Food Nan
Mon, 12 June 2017
We appreciated the new perspective that Sarah brought to today’s show! Even if you don’t have your sights set on celebrities, her tips are great for any business owner wanting to grow through influencers.
Sarah Shaw is a 3rd generation entrepreneur, and she has done it all. She’s worked in the film industry, had a successful handbag business, and is particularly skilled at reaching out to celebrities to get her products more recognition and make more sales. She now teaches others how to do just that at sarahshawconsulting.com. In addition to all of this, she’s a single mom to 9-year-old identical twin girls (so fun!)
On the Podcast
1:10 - Launching A Handbag Business
Launching A Handbag Business
How did Sarah get started in business? What made her handbags a smashing success? She started her handbag company on a whim while working in the film business, doing costumes for movies. She had this random idea, which surprised her because she never thought she’d be an entrepreneur. “I am a third generation entrepreneur, but I thought no way would that life be for me! I want a steady paycheck and retirement!”
But when small business is in your DNA, it’s hard to fight! Sarah worked on this handbag idea during her nights and weekends, shuffling around her schedule to do it. She asked everyone she had ever met in her life for help! It felt a bit dumb, but she didn’t let the feeling deter her from trying.
One of her big early mistakes was that she didn’t have any insights on figuring out pricing structure. When you have a product-based business and are laying out money to create your items, if you’re not correctly pricing your work you’ll go out of business fast.
Service-based businesses have it a bit easier in terms of pricing. Their ROI is generally higher, and oftentimes the startup costs aren’t as steep.
As her business grew, Sarah knew she had to get on top of pricing. Let’s say a bag cost her $25 to make, she might be selling those wholesale at $50, while a store sold it for $100. She didn’t know how markups worked and her numbers didn’t add up. When she would sell bags person-to-person, she would maybe sell a bag for $30 or $40 and feel good about it because she just wanted her money back. Profitability was not on her mind, and it would have driven her out of business if she didn’t realize her pricing structure wasn't sustainable.
The one business aspect she totally DID get right off the bat was marketing. She wasn’t afraid to ask people, even those she knew randomly, if they wanted to buy her bags. Then, friends of friends started asking for a Sarah Shaw Handbag and word spread around LA. Some of Sarah’s friends worked on movie or television sets, and she asked if she could set up a table of her handbags at lunch. She sold a few more bags this way.
Over dinner one night, a costume designer friend of Sarah’s was lamenting the fact that she had to outfit Donald Sutherland in only Donna Karan clothes. (Donna Karan was a big name designer in the late 1990s.) Then Sarah had a lightbulb moment: I can get my products to celebrities and let them market for me!
Before the age of social media, what a brilliant way to get your product in front of more eyes!
“I called everyone I knew who had film connections and started to get bags into the hands of agents and publicists.”
As Sarah built business, she started an email list of people who purchased her bags. When she started her celebrity product project she sent an email to her list of 1,000 and told them what she was doing, letting them know that she was getting bags to celebrities. (This was a great practice run to some promotional emails she would be sending later!)
About 5 to 6 months after sending those initial bags, Sarah had an unexpected payoff! Liv Tyler showed up on the pages of InStyle magazine holding one of her bags she had sent over months and months earlier. Another day Sarah was waiting in an office and flipped open US Weekly to find Kristen Davis carrying one of her bags, too!
“I started sending those pictures to magazines, mentioning the celebrity holding my product, and they started writing about it. Not many people were seeding celebrities with products at that time, but it seemed logical to me. I was sort of a pioneer in that field.”
After that, her business took off!
She got her bags to over 70 A-List celebrities. She made bags specifically for Julia Roberts in Oceans 11 and America’s Sweethearts. Those bags were purchased by Bergdorf Goodman and Sundance Catalogue, respectively.
One of her most business-changing connections, Sarah was asked to make a bag for the Legally Blonde movie. Though the bag was never seen in the film, it did make the cut of an advertising poster. Thanks to the publicity, her company went from half a million in sales to a million that year. Nordstrom bought tons of bags, over $150,000 worth. And Sony Pictures was so excited about it that they sent over mini movie posters to include in each bag.
Sarah appeared on E! Entertainment and Access Hollywood. She found that success really builds on itself. “And I have to thank my lucky stars that my friend complained to me over dinner one night!”
Sarah is grateful for this unique way to have validated her product. “You need to make sure you have something to keep you going, and to know that you have something more than just you and your mom think is cute!” And Sarah’s celebrity endorsements certainly prove that.
How Do You Even Get A Celebrity’s Address!?
We had to ask, how do you even go about getting the address of a celebrity!? Sarah’s business started before Internet use really took off. Back then, she just called up agencies to ask who represented So-and-So. Sometimes she would write a letter or send the product with a note, “Could you please get this to Sarah Jessica Parker?” But there was no way to verify if her bag got into the hands of the celeb.
Now, Sarah recommends using ContactAnyCelebrity.com. This site has contact information for pretty much any famous person on the planet. Nifty!
Filling Huge Department Store Orders
A lot of moms listening are thinking that it would be a dream come true for a big store to place orders for their products! Does Sarah have tips to help make sure this mega-business dream would work out? Is it even profitable?
Sarah strongly cautions mompreneurs to take any relationship with department stores very slowly. “They’re not always your best friend. They could love you today and hate you tomorrow.” And one return of a mass order from a department store could easily bankrupt your business.
Sarah recommends to get a solid base of small stores (think boutiques and shops) who actually know and support you first. Then you could turn to department or mass market stores (think Costco and Target). Really think about working with those bigger retailers as icing on the cake.
Sarah explained that these days, most stores work essentially on consignment - though it’s more complicated than that. Usually in the small print they’ll have language referring to either a 30, 60, or 90 day period after which all of your products would get returned if they don’t sell through!
For moms who do want to pursue bigger stores, Sarah recommends you test the waters first. Either suggest or agree to a small test run of products before going big time. She says most stores will want to start small anyway, but really encourage it - and be thrilled with the chance! “If it doesn’t go well, it won’t be a financial disaster.” (Hard words to hear, but true!) Picture a store chain with 80 to 90 stores. You might suggest to test your product in their top 10 stores first.
Sarah also warns that working with the buyer can be SUPER important. You want to ensure they’re purchasing your best bestseller, not just their favorite product. (And you’ll have to listen to the podcast for a fun entrepreneur family story Sarah has!) Bottom line: you know your products best, and send what you know will work. You’re the expert on your product! Her wisdom was SO good, and applies to lots of areas of business.
Hitting $500,000 in Sales In 2 Years
One of Sarah’s businesses made an impressive $500,000 in sales during her first 2 years, with just one patented product!
“I’m kinda an animal when it comes to business!” Sarah says. She had lots of investors in her handbag company, but had to close the business in 2002 when she lost most of her investors after 9/11. She hobbled along in business for a while, but realized she couldn’t function without that investor money.
She tried a few ideas, but realized how much she didn’t know about running business. With Sarah Shaw Handbags, a lot of her day-to-day operations were hired out. So she started teaching herself Photoshop, email marketing, and website building.
In 2003 she created the genius idea of a handbag organizer. She patented the product and thought she’d have an easy time getting it into the hands of all the stores she once sold handbags to. Her attitude was very carefree, “I have all these stores who sold my handbags and they love me! I’ll sell a ton!”
But none of those handbag reps wanted her new product.
‘It lit a fire under my rear end!” Sarah said. And she thought, “I’m going to show you all you’re missing something huge!”
And she set out on a mission.
Tenacity in Business
Sarah initially kept her focus on high-end stores found in the pages of fashion magazines. (Remember, this was in 2003-2004. There was very minimal search engine optimization and no social media!) Then she had a shift in her strategy. “I started looking for distributors overseas. I wondered what it would be like to work with mass distributors like QVC and Walmart.” She took a closer look and realized that the small stores were really making up the bulk of her revenue. She made enough to get personal revenue for herself, about 85 stores in her 1st year, and at end of 2nd year she sold in 400 stores
The business snowballed from there.
Much like her handbags, she got the product to media outlets and to celebs. She even made custom handbag hangers for Jennifer Aniston! She also scored a magazine feature in Redbook and sold about 900 hangers after that. “Living in Los Angeles you can get lost in celebrity magazines - the Marie Clarie’s and Harper’s Bazaar - but don’t think about the other magazines that actually have some of the largest reaches in the country.”
Needless to say, Sarah’s tenacity paid off. She called a minimum of 10 stores a day trying to get her handbags in. “I’d psyche myself up and gather all my selling materials around me, then I’d pick up the phone. I don’t take no for an answer...as long as they leave the door open, I’m going to keep putting my foot through it.”
Setting Your Business Revenue Goals
No matter your business, Sarah says you’ve got to spend the time on the avenue driving your business. “I don’t like to think about how much the company as a whole will make. What I like to do is figure how much money I personally want to make and go from there.” A $1M goal, for example, is huge! Take the money goal and divide it by how many products you have to sell to hit that goal. Maybe I need to sell 1,000 products to make $1 million. And you need 100 stores to order 10 units. If you don’t think you can get 100 stores in a year, and they each ordered 4 times a year, you’d still make the money. Break down your goal into more manageable bites and work on hitting those goals one at a time. (Maybe it’ll be something like every 10th store you call gives you a yes, then you know that you need to call 10 stores each day for 10 days to get the number that you need!)
In Sarah’s case, she wasn't getting anywhere with the stores she usually sold to. So what did she do? She found sales reps who could help her, and also help her product get licensed. “Suddenly I could turn my one product in twelve colors into something to support my family.”
Getting Your Products in Front of Celebrities
Sarah has carved out a real space in the marketplace for herself, getting businesses owners connected with celebrities to promote their products. I had to ask if she could give us specific advice on how other women in business can reach out to celebs and actually get noticed but getting products into the right hands.
Sarah had a few really solid tips:
I thought her comments about how to handle an unexpected windfall was SUCH a good point! I did something similar with a product in which I did a Kickstarter. I did preorders, and was able to then go place the big order with my manufacturer knowing I already had sales. It makes sense that if you get a ton of unexpected traffic because of a celebrity being seen with your product, use the momentum to take the pre orders or backorders, whatever you call it! That way, you have cash to make the product. Or if you’re a handmade business, now you have the cash to find your assistant to help you produce more product.
Calling stores in the blind can be really scary! Or maybe you’ve loved a celeb since you were five and are trying to send them free product. It can be intimidating! What you need is to boost your confidence. Get in the mental space of “We all eat, poop, and sleep!”
Celebrities aren’t any different from other people! Store buyers aren’t better than you and don’t know more than you. They’re all normal people with a job that makes them famous. We all know their face, but not really them.
Sarah told us a story of one time when taking her kids to the pumpkin patch in LA, Amy Adams was also there with her son. But just outside of the patch, there were tons of photographers standing on hay bales set up like a grand stand taking photos of them. “Celebrities can’t even go to the pumpkin patch without being hounded. It makes it more humbling to think of them as real person. They can hardly have a personal life that isn’t scrutinized.”
And of course, it is exactly being in the public eye that makes celebrity attention so valuable - but it’s good to keep this all in perspective.
Sarah's Adorable Mommy Moment
Sarah has identical twin girls. When they were around 3, they were at grandma’s house to celebrate her birthday.
Sarah’s sister said to one of her daughters, “Go and see your mother.”
And Sarah’s daughter said emphatically, “That is NOT my mother!”
When asked what she meant, her daughter replied, “That is my mama, NOT my mother!”
(Sarah said she’d spare us the diaperless twin story that ended up with poo all over their cribs! But safe to say, they never slept in just a diaper again!)
Connect with Sarah
Mon, 5 June 2017