Women Can Have Fun In Their Closet!!

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Pam Friedlander,

PamWardrobe and Image Consultant, Founder,  Positive Reflections.

Connect with Pam and send her a message or ask your question here.

Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

As founder of Positive Reflections, a wardrobe and image consulting company, I help women discover that they can have a wardrobe that works for their lifestyle and personality. During the process, women begin to see their New Vision, and develop a sense of confidence in building a wardrobe with polish and style. The stress of wondering “what do I choose”, and “how do I look”, is gone.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your business, your personal brand and your business brand?

Creating my wardrobe and image consulting business over five years ago was born from my own personal experience of losing and keeping off sixty pounds. When deciding on a name for the business, I thought of how good I felt when looking in the mirror. It is important to me that the name communicate what a change could do, and Positive Reflections was born… and my distinctive metallic mirror logo is my statement. My business and personal brand are intertwined daily, because I must be a reflection of my business. It is important for me to look and feel my best whether I am with a client, attending a meeting, or just out and about. I am always happy to give advice and tips when asked. When someone compliments me on an accessory or my outfit, I am flattered and happily give them my card.

Is your business your passion?

As an entrepreneur, I have learned to be resourceful, use my creative energy, and promote myself wherever and whenever I can. I have a passion and enthusiasm for helping women feel their best. It is not creating a fashion statement that makes wardrobe consulting fun and rewarding, but seeing the confidence women feel after working with me when they achieve their goals.

My workshops mirror my passionate feelings about how women can transform themselves . I am a member of the Association of Image Consultants, and throughout the years continue to take training and certification classes. I attend conferences annually, meeting wardrobe and image consultants from around the world. I am also a member of the Danbury and Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce.

What business tools have helped you the most?

The most valuable business tool for me has been my web site designer. At every turn in my business she has helped create promotional materials, mailings, and updated the web site when needed. Professional Women’s Networking organization has been the glue to keep me motivated and on target.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

Preparation. Practice. Perservance.

When I began my entrepreneur journey, I was encouraged by a business coach, who said “be absolutely sure that you want to be a wardrobe consultant”. I practiced and perfected my skills. I was sure that the average women who felt stressed when shopping, or just couldn’t find an outfit to wear in her closet, would need my help. Staying positive and persevering, and doing something for my business every day, has been invaluable in becoming successful.

Who has supported your most / least in your journey?

My family and dear friends have been a constant support in my business. When confidence is low or business is slow, I know who to talk to. My very first clients helped me launch my Fashion Therapy Workshops. They knew that if they enjoyed my service, other women would love attending workshops with the same tips and ideas.

Do you work from home? What is a “day in the life” like for you?

My business is home based, but my work is done in corporate offices, clients homes, trade events, as well as stores, boutiques and malls.

Whether preparing to go to a corporate seminar, Wardrobe Therapy event, or a client’s personal consultation, the day begins with packing the car with accessories, belts, jewelry, etc. (These are my wardrobe tools).

Personal Consultations, I arrive at my client’s home usually in the morning or early afternoon. After a conversation, detailed body analysis, and lifestyle questionnaire, we continue with the wardrobe consultation. This takes approximately 3 hours. We then schedule a Personal Shopping Day. I will “pre-shop department stores, boutiques and malls before her Personal Shopping Day, and will have several items available for her to try on.

Fashion Therapy Events is a presentation for 25 to 100 people; usually networking groups, women’s clubs, and private parties. Focus is on polish and confidence in getting dressed, whether for an important meeting or a night on the town, value of wardrobe planning, what are the necessary wardrobe pieces, accessorizing, body style, body image, body types, and more.

Corporate Events is a presentation designed specifically for business, covering a lot of the same areas as a Fashion Therapy Event, it expands on dressing for success. Corporate Human Resource personnel love these seminars because I cover dress issues that are important for employees representing their company.

Are there any words of advice, books or role models that really inspired and changed you?

“The Secret” was my inspiration. I believe in the power of attraction and positive energy. It really works!!

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?

I want to write a book and be know as the Wardrobe Consultant who really understands that women can Have Fun In Their Closet!!

I want my Fashion Therapy Workshops to be sought after throughout the USA.

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Do You Have a World-Changing Idea? Join this Member in Shanghai

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Eva HENDRIKS,

Eva Hendriks

Director & Founder, Impact

If you have a world-changing idea, apply now.

In which direction do you see the future of Impact heading?

The idea behind Impact is that we establish new projects in emerging economies. After Impact Shanghai, we are aiming to approach countries like India, South Africa, and Brazil to inspire new entrepreneurs.

What types of ventures would you like to see participate in Impact? What are you looking for?

The projects that we are looking for are: innovative, crossing borders, and are something we haven’t seen or heard before, ventures that address environmental and social issues. These projects are also specifically concentrated on the developing world. Impact is not focusing on sustainability in developed countries but targeting the people that need it the most.

Where did the idea for Impact come about?

Impact started from the need that we ourselves had as young entrepreneurs. When we started Globalinked in Shanghai, we realized there was very little support for young sustainable entrepreneurs in China. As sustainable entrepreneurship is still a relatively new phenomenon in China we wanted to promote this idea amongst young people.

What makes Impact a global project?

We are attracting young entrepreneurs from all over the world to Shanghai. All of the young entrepreneurs that are entering Shanghai not only have a vision to help social/environmental issues at a local level, but this is also something that they want to do at a global level. Their project would be able to move from one country to another and have the potential to reach huge target groups and make a large impact.

Why did you choose Shanghai as the location for Impact?

Shanghai is a rapidly expanding market and presents the potential for growth amongst developing economies. This makes the city inspiring and gives Impact a lot of potential. In this respect, Shanghai can serve as an example for the other countries we want to reach with the Impact project.

Apply Now

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From Wall Street to Social Media Marketing Consultant

Ask the expertDo you have a question about Social Media you’d like to ask? Janet will be answering your questions throughout the day on her Ladies Who Launch profile page. (Visit her page and ask a question by posting a message in the Message Box on her page. Please log in to ask your question.)

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Kathryn ROSE,

Kathryn RoseFounder, KatRoseConsulting

Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

I’m a collaborative marketing specialist. That is, I help businesses increase their search engine rankings; gain fans, followers, and connections; find leads; and even close deals – all through collaborative means.

Why collaboration? Because if you get the right people and networks involved, the results you’re looking for happen faster, and everyone gets to use their strengths to generate those results.

How does your organization give back? Describe your inspiration behind your “give back” story.

I’m helping to raise a million dollars for “Voices of Sept 11”, which is a non-profit organization that provides support services for the families of the victims of 9/11. The campaign is called “Give $11 for September 11”. Here is what’s involved:

To honor the tenth anniversary of the attacks, Voices is creating a “healing community” social network, which will connect everyone directly impacted by that day: survivors, rescue workers, first responders, and family members.

They also have an ongoing online initiative, “The 9/11 Living Memorial.” As part of that project, Voices employs social workers and archivists who sit with family members to offer support through the process of cataloging each artifact that the families provide, including wallets, purses and I.D. cards recovered from the site, articles of clothing, baby pictures, and family videos.

It costs approximately $5,000 per person to photograph and catalog all of this information. Considering over 2,900 people perished, you can imagine the money they have to raise to support this effort.

I’ve assembled a team (celebrities, social media connections, a publicist and an advertising agency) to support “Give $11 for Sept 11.” The campaign will run until May 4th, and the funds will go to the living memorial, the social network, and to other Voices’ initiatives.

How do you stand out from the crowd? What distinguishes your organization from the competition?

The main thing that makes me stand out is my heavy use of collaboration. Using collaboration means I’ve never had to make a cold call. I get my business through partnerships, referral networks, and affiliate revenue streams.

The same business-building strategies I use, I also teach to my clients so they can get word out about their offerings in a way that’s fast, effective, and friendly.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your organization, your personal brand and your organization brand?

I’m an accidental entrepreneur. In late 2006, I was eight months pregnant and got laid off from my job as an executive on Wall Street. While I was waiting for another Wall Street job to open up, my husband said, “You like to learn new things. Go learn something new.”

I got my real estate license, and went to work for a developer as a marketing consultant. We had to sell million-dollar condos in a down market, and our normal methods weren’t working. When I “googled” the name of the complex that we were trying to sell, it didn’t come up anywhere. I decided to find out why that was and what to do about it. So I started learning all I could about online marketing, mobile marketing, and social media. We applied what I’d learned . . . and sold all the condos in five months.

Since then, I have created the world’s first mobile marketing autorepsponder (MobiReply), have developed and executed social media strategies for brands large and small, and have written six books on social media marketing and online privacy (including “The Parent’s Guide to Facebook” and “The Grandparents Guide to Facebook”). I’ve also taught lots of people how to take back control of their careers and begin anew like I did.

How long did it take to get started and what business tools have helped you the most?

Through using collaboration skills I was able to turn a profit pretty quickly, I always had a steady stream of leads and clients. For instance, it is kind of ironic that I was the only SEO person hired consistently to help people rank their websites, but I didn’t have one of my own (I just launched mine in March 2011). All of my leads were word of mouth. Using tools like social networking and the ability to work remotely were very helpful in getting started. Some of my collaborators today are my first “twitter” friends and I haven’t even met them in person.

Also, the ability to self publish is a great asset to anyone starting a business today. You can establish yourself quickly as an expert by writing a book.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

I think the ability to plan and be patient. When I first started success came, but not quickly enough. I pushed myself and those around me to go faster. That was not the best strategy. Most people hate to plan but it is so important. Get the right people in place, attorney, accountant, etc. Planning your business is the single most important thing you can do.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

You need at least enough money in the bank to pay your lawyers, accountants and perhaps a support person. It is not wise to try and do everything yourself, this leads to burnout and significant funds lost. So many people starting out skip these important steps and try to do everything on a shoe string.

Also, don’t be afraid to fail, people never talk about their failures. I’m proud of mine. They have all taught me the lessons I know now that make me more successful. All successful people you see around you have failed one time or another, they just don’t wear it on the front of a t-shirt.

Are there any words of advice, books, role models, or mentors that really inspired and changed you?

So many people have helped and inspired me in this journey. Ladies who launch was a great help. I participated in an incubator with a wonderful leader and the group really helped me focus my efforts. Also, at the LWL global conference I met a wonderful friend and coach, Mark Levy, who has been instrumental in helping me with my positioning and message.
A great book that I just read is Marshall Goldsmiths Mojo: How to Get It, How to Keep It, How to Get It Back if You Lose It.

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?

The future dream is to teach as many business owners as I can how to develop the collaboration mindset, using as many tools as possible and grow their businesses. I would also like to do more work with non-profits to help them raise more funds and gain more visibility for their efforts. My goal for Voices of Sept 11th is to raise $1 million through our online campaign over the next two weeks. With over 160m people on twitter and 600m on Facebook, I only need 90,000 to donate $11 to make a difference. With everyone’s help, we will reach it I am sure.

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Learn How This Member Figured Out How to Travel the World “on business”.

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Virginia DeDAD,

Owner, Royal Service Travel

Virginia DeDad_220Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?
Full Service travel agency, American Express Affiliate Agency offering cruises, all inclusives, Europe, family vacations, honeymoons, destination weddings, multi-gen travel, with the most comprehensive customer service available!

What inspired you to start your business?

My passion for travel, having visited over 84 countries and sailed on 90 cruises and my ability to handle all phases of clients requests.

How do you stand out from the crowd? What distinguishes your business from the competition?

Totally my customer service and knowledge. I hand hold my customers from inception of their travel ideas to welcoming them home and keeping them abreast of travel opportunities in which they may be interested.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your business, your personal brand and your business brand?

To me, they are all one. If you have integrity, caring and organization in your personal life that automatically carries over to your business. I handle each client with the same enthusiasm and care as if they were my family. It doesn’t matter if their travel is short or extensive, everyone deserves the same amount of attention.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds? Is your business profitable?

The cost to start my business was 10,000 for the franchise and an additional 12,000 for the office equipment and start up.

How long did it take to get started and what business tools have helped you the most?

The first two years were spent familiarizing myself with the back office and networking to get my name out locally. As I had previous experience in the travel world, the accounting and internal office procedures were new to me.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

Faith, a tough skin and good work ethic.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Be prepared for the road of hard work, long hours and the ability to overcome downfalls.

Are there any words of advice, books, role models, or mentors that really inspired and changed you?

The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey is a book I return to all the time. The wisdom and insight if provides is timeless. Also, Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling has several tips and principles for great sales.

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?

My ultimate dream is to have several agents working for me that carry the same enthusiasm for my clients and to continue to grow my reputation as THE agency to go to.

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Need Help with Copywriting and Getting Your Business in all Media? Talk to This Member.

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Caryn STARR-GATES,

Owner, StarrGates Business Communications
Connect with Caryn here. Caryn Starr Gates

Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

Promotional copywriting that helps businesses get the word about their products and services in all media: print, broadcast and digital. We produce work for advertising, marketing and public relations assignments for a variety of clients and industries. From ad campaigns to press releases, brochures and table tents to expert byline articles, StarrGates Business Communications provides sparkling copy to market your message.

What does it mean to you to be “the entrepreneur of your life”? How do you integrate your life and your business, your personal brand and your business brand?

As the entrepreneur of one’s life, it’s essential to be in charge of your path, map your goals and target clientele—and go for it! To take the necessary risks, be sure to build up a strong support network of trusted advisors. Also become the hub of other people’s referral base, the go-to person for business colleagues—work together when appropriate for better results.

As far as integrating life and business/personal and business brand: I have found that my passion for volunteering in the personal realm has crossed over occasionally into the business realm; that my sense of fairness, integrity and authenticity in my personal life is no different in my work life. I think that’s the nugget right there – be authentic with everyone, be honest and sincere, professional in all dealings across all facets of your life.

Regarding personal and business brands—as a creative person I find I am able to express that creativity across many areas of my life, both in my writing and in other ways – whether helping others think through a solution to a problem or creating a delicious feast for friends or family.

Dressing with care and style at all times is another way I express my brand to the public; I am known for my large collection of hats, for example … and I have written articles in the past about the importance of dressing for success, no matter what position in business you hold or where you work (such as a home office)—I’ve often cautioned colleagues to make sure they never show up to a business or networking event looking as if they just finished doing housework! It’s all part of marketing.

How long did it take to get started?

This is a re-launch of my original career. I started my professional life as an advertising copywriter 30 years ago in Atlanta and then New York City. Since then I’ve enjoyed some other very diverse and interesting careers (professional cook, restaurant manager and then area supervisor for a national casual theme chain, professional organizer, gift basket designer/retailer). Throughout all these other careers, I’ve always had an opportunity to use my writing skills—creating an ad campaign for an employer, creating a new monthly newsletter column for a company, writing my own website copy.

About five years ago I approached some business contacts about my writing services and started freelancing while continuing to run another business. In the latter half of 2008 I decided to return to my writing roots full time. I registered StarrGates Business Communications at the start of 2009 and have been having a great time! All the tools I needed were already here—my writing skills, my ability to learn quickly and tackle different types of projects, organization, and a computer.

Is your business profitable?

Yes it is. It is a home-based business which helps reduce overhead. There is no inventory and I do not have any direct employees.

What adjectives would you use to describe how you feel most days when you wake up?

Anticipatory, cheerful, focused

What is a “day in the life” like for you?

I get down to my office early in the morning after walking my dog, around 7:00 a.m. and check emails for any urgently needed responses or tasks. I also use the early morning hours before 9:00 a.m. to try and handle responsibilities and tasks for my non-profit volunteer activities.

After getting my teenage daughter off to school by 7:45, I’m back at the computer ready to tackle the day’s assignments. It’s a typical work day as it is for so many other professionals—client phone calls and meetings, writing assignments, the occasional educational webinar or workshop in the morning or midday. Towards the end of the day my attention turns back to family commitments and needs such as getting my daughter to appointments or preparing dinner. Many evenings I am out at networking events, seminars or board meetings for my volunteer commitments.

As with many home-based business owners, I find I am always at work – so late night client emails are not unusual and it is not unusual at all to be working on writing projects at 10 or 11 p.m. because that’s when I can get some good work done (quiet time).

Who has supported your most / least in your journey?

My husband, Larry Gates, is—without a doubt—my biggest supporter in so many ways. I also credit my sister members of the NJ Association of Women Business Owners (www.njawbo.org), who have also supported me along the way as I made my transition from my former business to StarrGates Business Communications. It was through the projects I got from the organization and from a few members that I realized my goal of re-launching my writing career in earnest.

Is your business your passion?

It’s one of them! I love what I do and it’s so organic for me, it’s not really like working at all … it’s just doing what I do. But I have other passions as well; I’d say that in the last 10 or 15 years, the biggest realm has been community service and volunteerism. As an adjunct to that I would add building community. Some of this comes through my work with clients, some comes through my volunteer service.

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Get High-End Home Furnishings at Great Prices from Our Member.

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Sandra OSTER

Sandra OsterFounder, DecoratorTagSale.com

Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?
Inventory! That’s a difficult word in this economy. DecoratorTagSale.com is an e-commerce business, focused on selling high-end, custom, designer home furnishings, from elite interior designers, offered at substantially discounted prices. DecoratorTagSale.com was created as an outlet for fellow designers to sell precious goods they collected (not as a hobby), and attract the attention of a national and international audience, that was unimaginable before the Internet. This business not only appeals to consumers looking to satisfy their “inner decorator”, but to designers as well. Designers use the site to furnish their client’s homes, and gain exposure via their own “on-line boutique.”

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

I cannot stress enough, the importance of due diligence and commitment. Strategy and organization are priorities. Investigate the technologies necessary to run and grow your business. Make sure the platforms you’re using will evolve with you without a hiccup. Look at your competitors; how do you differentiate yourself? How can you create your own niche? Don’t get caught up in the “glamour” of being a business owner. It’s really hard work!

For example, if you’re starting a restaurant, don’t focus on the aesthetics of the décor and the beautiful table settings. It’s the lackluster room in the back that creates the glamorous face up front in business; cash flow, operations, logistics, inventory — all the minutia — and endless hours of hard work. Stay focused on your goal…whatever that might be! And surround yourself with people smarter than you, who are top-quality, intelligent participants, who have your best “personal” and “business” interest at heart — and want you to succeed because it is also a personal statement of their abilities and success.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

There isn’t ONE singular thing, well, an endless bank account would solve a lot! I really feel that it comes from within. A person has to possess:

* Extreme passion and desire for what they’re doing
* Willingness to learn to let go, when you must share responsibilities in order to grow
* Determination, motivation and the ability to multi-task like there’s no tomorrow
* Stamina, and endless amounts of Starbucks to get through the exorbitant amount of hours required
* Perseverance to work through every challenge
* Know your strengths and weaknesses
* The understanding that you will make mistakes
* Check your ego at the door and get ready for the ride of your life.

Is your business your passion?

Fortunately, DecoratorTagSale is just one of my many passions! The balance between my personal and commercial life are both filled with unending enthusiasm, and I think that this commitment in both arenas make for an all around positive environment! But in order for any business (my business) to be successful and not just succeed, one must have an inner passion and a dream. I have been so fortunate to have a positive attitude about life. No matter what the situation, my glass is always half full, and I like it that way! Personally, I believe each one of us is born with an innate persona. The ability to wake up every morning facing the challenges of an exciting and creatively demanding life is a “drugless high” that is born from within. The passion to push ahead for success is so energizing and positive – two key ingredients to success!

What adjectives would you use to describe how you feel most days when you wake up?

Empowered, Scared, Excited, Extremely Lucky, Apprehensive —how will I fit everything into one day? — Healthy, Positive…

Do you work from home?

As an Interior Designer, I have always been fortunate to work out of a small cottage behind my house; a creative studio for inspired design! When DecoratorTagSale.com was born, it was shaped by the same artistic dreams I held as a designer. I love working out of this space, but it takes concentrated effort and discipline to keep a focused work ethic.

What is a “day in the life” like for you?

It all begins at about 5AM and if I’m lucky, ends around midnight. My day starts in my home studio with a cup of coffee, reviewing my agenda for my interior design business, as well as for DecoratorTagSale.com — as I wear two distinctive entrepreneurial hats! Daily checking on hundreds of e-mails takes a few hours, but fortunately, at 5am there are few calls to interrupt the process!

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

I think you start with a dream. And then, you dream again. Being an entrepreneur is living a parallel life with your everyday commitments. You think about your goals and you never lose focus on the reality of what you are doing and where you are heading. You need to wear heavy mental armor and battle the forces that will try to knock you down: criticism, jealously, financial roadblocks, competitors, life diminishing relationships, insecurity and isolation. Each of these elements would alone be enough to discourage creativity and take you away from your goal. As an entrepreneur, imagine all of these hitting you at once! It does happen, but if you have that dream and you believe in that dream and commit to being successful, you can fight your way through the abyss — truly!

How long did it take to get started?

You’re never done “getting started” — you’re constantly evolving, reinventing, staying competitive; every day is a new start with the pedal to the metal. We conceived the concept of DecoratorTagSale at the end of 2009 and have been “starting” every day since

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Online Marketing and Social Media Consultant Will Answer Your Questions. Read This Member’s Story.

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Amy PORTERFIELD,

Social Media Consultant and Trainer

Amy Porterfield

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Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?
I’m an online marketing and social media consultant. I create online programs that teach entrepreneurs how to use online marketing strategies and social media marketing to grow their business and increase their online exposure. My goal is to keep it simple while teaching the strategies that get real results.

What inspired you to start your business?
I worked closely with Tony Robbins for over six years, managing his content development and marketing divisions. I had an amazing opportunity to learn business and communication strategies from the best of the best. Tony always talked about the rewards of creating your own business and I knew in my heart I wanted to create something on my own. After six years, I finally got the courage to take everything I had learned to step out on my own . . . and I’ve never looked back!

How do you stand out from the crowd? What distinguishes your business from the competition?
My style of consulting and teaching is unique because my goal is to keep things simple, yet help my clients be extremely strategic and smart in their overall online marketing plans. I know that social media can be extremely overwhelming, confusing at times and very time consuming. I teach my clients how to sift through all the online noise, focus only on what will get them results, and ultimately help them create a plan that works for their unique style and business goals.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds? Is your business profitable?
Because I started out consulting, it only cost me a few thousand dollars to set up my website, get incorporated and set up an online shopping cart to process my consulting fees. I also spent some money on training programs to make sure I stayed on top of the trends and was skilled in the best strategies possible in my field. Starting an online business does not need to be expensive, especially if you start out teaching and consulting and do not produce anything physical. I’ve run a very lean business from the beginning and it has been profitable from day one. I think I’ve been able to be successful because I only do what I know I do best (consulting, overall strategy, teaching). If I need something done that is not in my skill set, I outsource it. I make more money by focusing on what I do best and outsourcing what will take me two to three times longer if I try to do it myself. Time is precious and I am happier (and more profitable!) doing what I love.

How long did it take to get started and what business tools have helped you the most?
I was fortunate to make money from the first day I went out on my own, however getting things to go smoothly did not happen overnight! It took about a year for things to really start to click and start moving along smoothy. The saying “What you don’t know, you don’t know” is so true! As for tools to help me out, I invested right away in online training programs. I sought out the best of the best in my industry (and even some programs outside of my industry), and enrolled in whatever programs they had to offer. This massively propelled my business forward quickly. I firmly believe in learning from the best of the best… it’s the only way to go!

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?
Every entrepreneur needs the 3 Ps when first starting out: Patience, Passion and a Peer Group that is more successful than she is currently.

Patience because starting your own business is HARD WORK and there is no way around it. You have to pay your dues, work at it with all heart and you must know that the success, if it is to last, will not happen overnight. Every successful entrepreneur I respect has a story of working toward his or her success for many years. You have to be patient or you’ll miss out on the big rewards.

Passion because if you don’t truly believe in what you are creating, you’re wasting your time, resources and money. Passion makes the difficult days worth it. Passion to succeed and see all my hard work pay off gets me out of bed every morning.

And lastly, having a peer group that is more successful than you is the best thing you can do for your overall success. I learned this one from my years working with Tony Robbins. Surround yourself with successful, passionate entrepreneurs you respect and admire. Put yourself in situations where the playing field is high. Consider spending the money to join a mastermind with people that are a bit “out of your league”–not only will you learn priceless lessons and strategies from them, but you will be pushed to step out of your comfort zone and do things you’ve never thought of doing before. My peer groups have truly been the secret to my success!

What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Stay with it! If you’re creating something you truly believe in, and you’re willing to do the hard work to get things moving, you will never look back. The first few years are tough and therefore perseverance (and a little faith!) are a necessity!

Are there any words of advice, books, role models, or mentors that really inspired and changed you?
It may seem too simple, but my words of advice are this: Be good to people. I think we’re all in the business of taking care of others, no matter what we do in our business. Come from the place that people are good. Try to seek out opportunities to make someone’s day, support others’ needs and help them out. When you do this, your success is inevitable.

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She Figured Out How to Launch an Active-Wear Line That Will Sail You Away.

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Carolann DEKKER

Carolann Dekker 250Founder, Top Dekk

Describe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?
Top Dekk is a unique social hub and apparel line for women who are interested in sailing and the sailing style. Whether or not you sail, own a boat or have even been on a boat the style of sailing and all things nautical will draw you into the Top Dekk Community.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Being an entrepreneur is a gift, being a little naïve is not a bad thing, it gives you the ability to see the dream without the barriers that a more experienced entrepreneur might let sway them. Persistence, patience and being resourceful are key attributes to being successful; I learned this from the women at the Ladies Who Launch Incubator events I attended in San Diego.

Are there any words of advice, books or role models that really inspired and changed you?
Every women entrepreneur I have ever met has inspired me, I learn a little from each one and that has contributed to what Top Dekk turned out to be.

How do you juggle it all?
I’ve learned that being impactful or effective is much more important than being efficient. This lesson has helped me learn to chose my priorities carefully and spend my time only on things that are the most important. I also chose not to spend time with people who don’t energize me and support my dreams. I’ve learned over the past few years that it’s the people in my life that can help make me successful or can also drain the energy and focus I need for my business if I let them. I no longer let those people take up time in my day. We all have or have had people like this in our life. This one choice has opened up a tremendous amount of time that allows me to focus on Top Dekk.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds? How long did it take to get started?
I was fortunate to have had a very successful career in marketing. I started in sports marketing with the America’s Cup, which included licensing apparel, then moved on to an online college community, packaged goods and ended my 20+ year employment history with 5 years working for the famous personal development expert, Tony Robbins. I decided to start my own business consistent with what Tony Robbins teaches to his very entrepreneurial audience. Once I left full time employment, I still needed to pay the bills. I leveraged my contacts and my marketing skills and started a marketing agency. I knew that the marketing agency was a means to an end. I wanted to create a business that was scalable, could run virtually with few employees and had something to do with women. I was able to fund Top Dekk with the money generated through my Marketing Agency. I worked on both businesses at the same time. Without having to spend time traveling back and forth to an office, time in long business meetings along with the other requirements associated with being an employee, I became extremely productive and worked 7 days a week to build Top Dekk. I was completely self-funded to build and launch Top Dekk including building the site, marketing costs and most importantly the manufacturing costs. Moving forward, I’ve just been approved for a line of credit and may look for Angel Investors or other types of funding as the business evolves and grows.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?
Entrepreneurs must be able to sell; it’s the most important thing we all have to do to be successful. We must be able to sell ourselves, our ideas, our business plan and ultimately our products or services. If you’re passionate and love what you do it’s much easier, but it’s a “must” nonetheless. If you’re uncomfortable with sales, being an entrepreneur will be very difficult!

What adjectives would you use to describe how you feel most days when you wake up?
Most days I wake up feeling energized and happy to face my day knowing that I’m building something that will create security for my family, meet my strong desire to build a business and hopefully create a positive impact on women. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that there have been a few days of anxiety and total exhaustion. I have been working six or seven days a week for 13-14 hours a day for over two years with very little vacation time. It’s a different kind of anxiety and exhaustion. I hope this doesn’t sound cliché, but working for yourself is truly a privilege and a little anxiety and being tired is just part of the journey.

What do you do to take care of yourself?
Exercise is the one consistent gift I give myself. I exercise most days first thing in the morning. It’s one of my biggest priorities. I also invite girlfriends to join me and try to make it as social as possible so that it’s fun and also gives me another way to see friends. I vary my routine and try all kinds of classes and work with a personal trainer two times a week. It helps me take care of my body and my mind at the same time. Exercise helps me concentrate and provide greater focus for my work.

What is your ultimate future dream for yourself and / or your business?
Top Dekk is designed to bring sailing style to all parts of the world through a unique product line, content, contributors and a growing online community. The apparel line dedicated to the unique nautical style will eventually extend to sailing gifts and inspirations for the home. The Top Dekk brand will be available in Yacht Club boutiques and other high-end resort boutiques around the world where sailors and those looking for the sailing lifestyle spend their leisure time. Eventually I plan to run Top Dekk from exotic sailing locations around the world.

Who has supported you most / least in your journey?
My husband has always been supportive of my career choices, but starting my own business has required him to take on new roles in my life. In additional to his continuous and unwavering emotional support, he has taken on the operations role for Top Dekk. His official title is COO, but he likes to tell our friends that he is my Chief “Go-fer.” I’m also extremely lucky to have a very supportive sister and friends, but my strongest supporter is also my mentor, Ruby Randall. She and I have worked together in several companies and she has been both an advisor and friend. Thanks to her strategic thinking, her ongoing support and advice helped me make the move from the comforts of traditional employment to go out on my own and create Top Dekk.

Is your business your passion?
Top Dekk is definitely one of my passions, after caring for my family and friends; Top Dekk is everything to me. I can’t imagine putting this kind of effort and time into something that I wasn’t passionate about. The sailing style has been an inspiration to me for years. I began sailing for fun in the early 90s, but really couldn’t find anything to wear. I loved the lifestyle and met many new friends, eventually meeting my husband who is a lifelong sailor. The women’s clothing for sailing has been typically based on men’s styles, much like golfing used to me. The clothing manufactures based the women’s clothing options on the men’s design and just offered it in smaller sizes for women without any effort to understand our needs.

After years of “making do” with what was on the market, I decided to launch the Top Dekk line with a pair of sailing pants for the active women sailor. I asked many friends, acquaintances and women sailors from around the world what they wanted in a pair of sailing pants. The answer was consistent: style, great fit, special features to protect her body and a design like a great pair of jeans. That was all I needed, I hired a professional sportswear designer to turn my ideas into reality. It took over a year, but the Top Dekk “Gigi” sailing pants were created and named after my girlfriend who first took me sailing.

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This Lady Merges Passion & Fulfillment with Financial Success: Learn How

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Caroline CENIZA-LEVINE

Partner, SixFigureStart

Caroline Ceniza-LevineDescribe your business in 3 sentences. What is it?

I help women find fulfilling and financially rewarding careers. I work with business owners, professionals and executives, and women who do both traditional employment and entrepreneurship. I use my 15 years as a management consultant and recruiter, advising Fortune 500 businesses and hiring thousands of people, to give my clients the best practices of successful businesses and careers.

How do you juggle it all?

I am a wife of 17 years, a mother of 2 daughters, a performer (improvisational theater and stand-up comedy), a volunteer at my church, a real estate investor and avid personal finance reader, in addition to being a business owner. My other passions for family, the arts, church and finance fuel my business. It would be great to have more time, but we all have the same amount of time, and it is enough if spent consciously on the things that really matter.

What did it cost to start your business? How did you find the funds?

I contribute half of my household income so when I left a big corporate job to start the business I had to make money from the business. I used my personal network to land projects quickly, some of which were outside of my exact business but still related to my expertise. I borrowed from the equity of my real estate investments. I used some savings. It is a constant hustle to watch the cash, so I do not spend lavishly on anything that doesn’t contribute revenue to the business.

How long did it take to get started?

I started a business based on expertise I gained from over 15 years in corporate. So while I am new to entrepreneurship, I am using skills honed over 15 years. I was able to start executing my services immediately. I had a steep learning curve in terms of pricing, sales, marketing, social media, even changing my printer ink!

Is your business profitable?

The business was profitable from day one. The business is a services business so there was no upfront capital investment, just my labor. However, it was only the third full year of the business that I matched my corporate income from the job I had before going out on my own. I also still have to replace the equity I took out to start the business, but revenues have been doubling each year for three years, so I am confident I made a great investment.

Do you have employees? If so, how many?

I co-founded the business with a former colleague who I have known now for almost 20 years. We have a virtual assistant, technical support, researchers, and associate coaches, but none of these are full-time employees.

What is the single biggest thing you would say an entrepreneur has to be armed with in order to succeed?

Entrepreneurs need to remember the Stockdale Paradox, named for James Stockdale, an Admiral and longtime prisoner of war in Vietnam:

You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.

Entrepreneurship is going to be brutal sometimes – lonely, scary, uncertain, volatile – and you have to be flexible to respond to the market, and your tactics may have to change. But what must never change is the 100% belief in yourself: you must have an unwavering faith that you can succeed.

Is your business your passion?

I have many passions. Business itself is a passion. I am drawn to the way business works, hence my first job as a management consultant. Coaching, teaching, speaking and writing are passions. I love these activities so I selected these as the cornerstones of my business. Professional development is a passion and so it is a focus of this business. But I am also passionate about family, the arts, church and investing.

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Meet the Ladies Whose Friendship Began With an Umbrella.

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Kerri GORMAN and Karen FOY

Founders Gorman Foy

Kerri GORMAN and Karen FOYFeatured Ladies Kerri Gorman and Karen Foy knew that starting a company with a friend was risky, but they’ve made it work to the tune of $1.7 million in annual revenue. Since meeting on a rainy day at the University of North Texas, the co-eds forged a best friendship that has successfully weathered the uncertainties of business ownership. After leaving their corporate jobs in 2001, Kerri and Karen launched Gorman Foy, Inc. – a printing and promotions business that now includes graphic design and copywriting, in addition to many other services. Gorman Foy has been profitable since its first full year in 2002 and boasts an impressive 90% client retention rate.
Immediately before launching Gorman Foy, Kerri was in sales and visuals for an interior design showroom in the Dallas World Trade Center. She was also a buyer for Harold’s, a chain of upscale women and men’s apparel stores and spent nearly ten years in the gift and gourmet business. Karen was an outside printing representative for The Odee Company – a commercial sheet-fed printer, who also specialized in digital imaging and specialty finishing. Previously, she was a sales representative for ABCO, where she sold offset printing, digital imaging, tabs and binders.

Despite successful careers, Kerri and Karen weren’t feeling fulfilled. “I wasn’t happy where I worked,” Kerri says. “And I kept hearing Karen talk about printing.” Even though neither woman admits to entrepreneurial aspirations, they decided to start a company together.

However, Gorman Foy wasn’t the ladies’ initial attempt at entrepreneurship. “Our first go at it was K&K Solutions, a custom gift basket business which Kerri and I started on the side of our careers,” says Karen. “It was craziness, outlandish hours and a lot of hard work.” Unfortunately, the company didn’t make any money, but they had loads of fun!

“It was a lot of stress, but also a lot of laughs, and I think that’s when we realized how much our personalities complement each other when it comes to business,” Kerri says.

That’s when the idea of Gorman Foy began to brew. “Our personalities and our backgrounds in printing and buying seemed like a perfect blend,” says Karen. “It just took a last nudge from our husbands for us to make that jump and we’ve never looked back!”

When pondering a name for their company, Kerri and Karen had the foresight that their business was going to grow and progress. Not wanting to be pigeonholed due to a business moniker, Karen and Kerri purposely named the company Gorman Foy utilizing “Printing and Promotions” as a tagline only, allowing for changes as their business evolved.

Like many small businesses, Kerri and Karen faced a challenge with start-up capital while trying to establish Gorman Foy. “We approached banks for a loan but were treated like little girls,” says Karen. So, each woman put in $20,000 – Kerri using a personal credit card and Karen borrowing money from her dad, which she paid back with interest.

In July 2001, with a portfolio of clients that Karen managed during her many years in commercial printing sales, the best friends launched Gorman Foy out of Karen’s house, which served as their office for the next nine months. Nine years later, Gorman Foy has progressed with the industry and its founders are proud to describe themselves as print, promotions and graphic communication experts. “We dare to call ourselves ‘enthusiasts,’ because we are truly passionate, even fanatical, about what we do,” Karen says.

“The printing business has changed over the past two to three years due to the economy. We added web design a few years ago to evolve our services,” Kerri says. “When we started, 80% of our business was printing and today it makes up 40%.”
Kerri and Karen know first-hand that owning a company with your BFF can be a great experience, but there are also logistical issues. “We can’t be pregnant at the same time or take vacations together,” says Karen. “We’ve had to switch off having kids.”

Both women are wives and mothers to two children. “I got pregnant nine months after we launched the company,” Kerri says. “The balance has gotten easier, but early on there were a lot of late nights and bouncy seats in the office.”
Today, Gorman Foy has five employees as well as several freelancers and boasts an impressive client list that spans a variety of industries.

What we learned from Karen and Kerri: “Being in business with your best friend makes for a real interesting combo.”

Live It
Karen: “You can have a career life and personal life. It’s OK to want both or just one. Don’t let society’s standards deter you from doing what you want.”

Keep It To Yourself
Kerri: “Try to do it on your own without getting any investors involved. Have a vision for what you want.”

This Featured Lady was profiled by Megan L. Reese, WORDrobe® Stylist for Her Write Image in West Grove, PA.

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