Experts Weigh In: How I Think Outside of the Cubicle

Experts Weigh In: How I Think Outside of the CubicleAh, summertime. Warm days filled with plenty of sunnin’ and funnin’… but you’re marooned at your computer in the office while seemingly everyone else in the world is outside having the time of their lives. If you feel like it’s time to shake things up this summer at the workplace, take the advice of these 17 entrepreneurial pros to step away from the cubicle and get the team hiking, biking, and zip-lining!

1) “At Clarke, we have garden plots on the campus for people to grow their own veggies as snacks. People line up for the chance to weed, water, and more! We have a day of giving, where we go out as a company and do things like harvest heirloom seeds and work in soup kitchens. We just began the process of converting our campus to having a natural prairie walking path one open to the community as well.”

- Laura McGowan, The McGowan Group

2) “We’re a virtual company so we get 100% of our work done from home and encourage our full-time employees (60+ people) to get up and moving out of their home offices. This summer, our Co-Founder Dennis Najjar instituted the 150 Mile Challenge, challenging employees to walk 150 miles over the course of the summer and rewarding those who complete it with $150 prize. The challenge runs from May 1st to August 31st and nearly half the employees joined in, using FitBits, phone apps and other tracking methods to log their miles. So far we’ve logged more than 2,000 miles! We’ve dubbed it #150ADCMiles!”

- Andrea Boccard, Marketing Manager, AccountingDepartment.com, LLC 

3) “Employees of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (Guardian), one of the nation’s largest mutual life insurers and a leading provider of employee benefits, hosted a flash event on June 11 to show support for The New York City Police Museum (NYCPM), which, like Guardian, was displaced from its home following the devastating effects of Hurricane Sandy. However, unlike Guardian, the Museum has yet to return to its home at Old Slip due to the extent of the storm-related damages. Over 100 Guardian employees performed a dance routine at Old Slip Park (adjacent to The NYCPM’s permanent home at 100 Old Slip) for about 3-4 minutes, then quickly dispersed. The official video can be viewed on YouTube here.”

- Ana Sandoval, Manager, Media Relations, The Guardian Life Insurance Company

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Experts Weigh In: How I Keep My Business From Burning Out

How I Keep My Business From Burning OutSummer is finally here, and for small business owners everywhere this is the time to relax and take a breather from last winter’s busy season, keeping up with resolutions from New Year’s, and filing taxes in the spring. But for some entrepreneurs, stopping to take a breather can easily mean just stopping… period. Before you burn out on your start-up, let our panel of 23 professionals fill you in on what you can start doing this summer to pump up your business and have a lot of fun, while beating the summer heat!

1) “We are based in gorgeous Santa Monica, CA, and are a walk away from the beach which means some of the most stunning work breaks you can think of. Given that this summer is the World Cup and we are a very diverse company, we encourage everyone to wear their country’s jerseys and will be showing major games in our movie room. We will also be sponsoring different meals based on the soccer teams playing that day! Every Friday during the summer, we break out the cocktails or head out to our local winery (bodega wine bar) to talk about the week over some yummy drinks for happy hour. For bonding, we have a monthly poker tournament which works well especially since we are growing and adding new faces often. It gives our team a great opportunity to bond with new members over a game of all in or fold.”

- David Daneshgar, Co-Founder, BloomNation

2) “We’re taking advantage of our green rebranding efforts to keep everyone psyched about coming into the office. Aside from bagel Fridays and get-to-know-your vendor meetings, Shoplet is instating an office-wide Share competition, whereby we motivate employees with fun, summer-friendly prizes to participate in our latest social media campaign Care. Share. Grow. (For each Share of a social media graphic, Shoplet plants a tree with Trees for the Future). The latest winner of our Share competition won tickets to a Yankees versus Red Sox game this September! In a way, the competitive spirit around the office unites us. It generates chatter and revs up excitement for our green initiatives.”

- Tony Ellison, CEO & Founder, Shoplet

3) “One way I plan ahead for the summer is by offering my employees a finder’s fee for each employee they refer. My argument is that there are no better headhunters than those who already work for you, especially because they are entrenched in the fast-paced environment every day and understand your business’ nuances, thus know whether the person they are referring can handle the pressure. After any prospective candidate is hired and works successfully for two months, I offer the finder employee a cash incentive of $50. It’s a tactic I’ve used for years and found that it’s been incredibly successful at combating summer turnover.”

- Dan Sacco, Owner, Pancheros Mexican Grill

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10 Declarations of Entrepreneurial Independence

Small businesses are an important part of the American landscape. They’re a major driver of the American economy – 55% of all jobs are created by small business - and the entrepreneurial spirit is as much of a part of our culture as baseball and apple pie. Here at MyCorp, we thought it’d be great to celebrate our upcoming Independence Day by featuring some of our favorite quotes about entrepreneurial independence!

Henry Ford

 

“If money is your hope for independence you will never have it. The only real security that a man will have in this world is a reserve of knowledge, experience and ability.” —Henry Ford, Founder of the Ford Motor Company

 

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Experts Weigh In: How Being an Entrepreneur Makes Me Feel Independent

How Being an Entrepreneur Makes Me Feel IndependentIn celebration of Independence Day this July 4th (and the three day weekend countless offices will be looking forward to), our MyCorp team decided to ask a simple, but significant, question to our small business base: how does being an entrepreneur make you feel independent? Meet our 105 entrepreneurial experts with the answers, or as resident expert Dan Fendel so eloquently described it as, “I hold these truths to be self-evident that all business people are NOT created equal, and some of us are endowed by our dreams and ideas with the ability to open new doors and create new ventures.”

1) “Being an entrepreneur gives you great independence and flexibility, but it comes with a cost of high risk and increased responsibility. Being in the CEO chair of a company puts all of the burden on me to deliver or else I’m out of business. For me though, after years in private equity and investment banking, it’s exactly what I wanted: all the responsibility on me. After understanding that, then it’s up for me to decide if I can go on an afternoon run or take a day off knowing that I don’t have a boss to blame if things go wrong.”

- Chris Good, Founder and CEO, Eventblimp

2) “Independence as an entrepreneur is as much a gift as it is a burden. You generally get to make your own hours, but at the same time you must be self-motivated, there is no one to push you but yourself. Essentially, just like in life, you get what you give.”

- David Drexler, My Coin Solution

3) “I love being an entrepreneur, the freedom of working at anytime from anywhere has opened an array of opportunity to spend more time with my kids and have a better quality of life while producing even a higher income that ever before.”

- Priska Diaz, Founder & CEO, Bittylab

4) “Being an entrepreneur makes me feel independent because I can work as many hours, or days as I want as I am my own boss responsible for my company’s success. Also I can work in my pajamas!”

- Haralee Weintraub, CEO, Haralee.com – Cool Garments for Hot Women!

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How to Handle Upcoming QETs

How to Handle Upcoming QETsIt’s that time once again: time to whip out the finance books and try to figure out just how much you owe for quarterly estimated taxes, or QETs. More sitting down at the dining room table, going over numbers, scratching your head trying to figure out what this abbreviation stands for…

Wait, you don’t know what this is about? Quarterly estimated taxes are a big part of the small business owner’s life as they’re constantly buzzing around just around the corner, ready to pounce and make a mess. However, many small business owners still manage to forget about them, leading to headaches and possible fines.

Instead of putting them off, read our quick guide so you can get ahead of the game!

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How Fundable is Your Business?

How Fundable is Your Business?Fund • a • bil • i • ty – [adj. Fuhnd-uh-bil-i-tee]

You won’t find “Fundability” on Dictionary.com, so don’t bother looking. Fundability is a phrase we’ve coined to describe how a business measures up in relation to the entire business lending and investing community.

All joking aside, how “Fundable” is your business?

Fundability is not just about your credit. It includes several components that determine how your overall business is seen by lenders, investors, insurers, suppliers, and more. Basically, we know that your business was worth the risk for you, but is it worth the risk for them?

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Experts Weigh In: I’m an Entrepreneur in my 60s+

Experts Weigh In: I'm an Entrepreneur in my 60s+It’s the last week of our entrepreneurs by the ages series here on the MyCorp blog! From teen entrepreneurs to entrepreneurs in their 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s, our final post celebrates entrepreneurs in their 60s and beyond as they share with us their stories about starting up a small business, the obstacles they’ve encountered, and the rewards that being an entrepreneur has given them.

1) “I began my professional career as manager of a Coronary Care unit and a Non- Invasive Cardiology Unit Supervisor in local area hospitals. In my free time I developed an interest in the science and art of chocolate. Gaining chocolate making skills through a blend of personal exploration and formal education I attended a Master Chocolatier certificate program that enabling me to learn techniques with Master Chocolatiers of the Tuscany region of Italy. My journey to becoming a Chocolatier led to my founding Donna & Company in 2005 and establishing my own chocolate brands, CocoaBee® Honey Caramels and Donna Toscana® Tuscan Style® Chocolates and Fundamental. My chocolates have appeared on the NBC TODAY Show, in the New York Times, New Jersey Monthly, Dessert Professional, Park Place Magazine and numerous other media outlets.  I was named Best Chocolatier by NJ Monthly magazine and Local Hero, Food Artisan of 2010 by Edible NJ magazine.”

- Diane Pinder, 61, Chocolatier/Founder, Donna & Company

2) “I’m an entrepreneur who is 74. I started my business at 55. After a long career in management in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, I was working as a consultant in a small firm. After several years I realized I had learned the “business” and was actually good at product development, marketing, and sales. My younger sister who had started her own business a few years before was my inspiration. So, as we say, ‘I stepped off the cliff and grew wings on the way.’ Over the past 19 years, I’ve reinvented my business several times as the needs of my markets have changed. I’ve added professional speaking, writing books, webinars, and digital products to my mix of face-to-face consulting. The best parts of being an entrepreneur at my age are: being able to use my creativity to craft new products and services for my customers and wider market, thus staying mentally active; creating my own work schedule to accommodate lots of physical activity including yoga, Tai Chi, and walking to stay physically and mentally fit; and living a life that is fulfilling on every level. I have cut back on my road warrior travel and allowed technology to help me communicate around the world more. I will never be isolated because I have made friends around the world and I keep up business and personal relationships with them. I have no plans to retire. I’ll just keep innovating, reinventing, and tapping into my imagination until it’s time to go.”

- Rebecca Staton-Reinstein, Ph.D., 74,  President, Advantage Leadership, Inc.

3) “Most of my career, I worked in administration. I am almost 70, and have now become a designer. I designed a protective bag, BORSAbag. I am in an unknown environment. The way I describe it is I feel as though I’m in a vast field of tall grass with a machete. I just keep whacking away to find my path.

At this stage of my life, I have accumulated some savings and am in a better position to finance my design. I feel secure in taking that risk, mainly because I am married, and know that if I lose my investment, I will still be okay. I have more peace of mind to take the necessary risks. I constantly think about my product, how to improve it, additional uses for various sizes, and how to introduce BORSAbag to everyone. The downside of being my age is I can’t afford to take too much time to make decisions. I  must think about it, address it, and decide, and then move on to the next step. I have made sure that my infrastructure is strong, I have my inventory, and now I must make an announcement from the highest mountain to get my word out there. Time is of the essence.

BORSAbag is a simple, yet very unique product. It can be used to protect anything. The key is: Always Inside Out. The small pouch stays clean and dry, and can be stored safely in pocket or purse even though the large protective bag is wet or dirty. The Bag For All Seasons; The Bag For All Reasons®”

- Diane Piper, 69+, President/Designer, BORSAbag LLC

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Discover the Secrets to Successfully Leading a Small Business

Vision Driven: Lessons Learned from the Small Business C-SuiteHow does a successful top-level manager or CEO motivate employees and encourage productivity, while navigating the often-treacherous organizational waters? How do they surpass lofty expectations and deliver impressive results with pitfalls lurking around every corner?

Vision Driven: Lessons Learned from the Small Business C-Suite by Mallary Tytel reveals the secrets behind winning executives’ strategies for taking charge effectively of small organizations, both for-profit and nonprofit businesses. In clear, easy-to-understand prose that’s loaded with real-life examples, Vision Driven shows experienced and newly minted managers alike the dos, don’ts and don’t-even-think-about-its to take their organization to the next level.

The following are excerpts from Vision Driven: Lessons Learned from the Small Business C-Suite by Mallary Tytel, ©2009, 2013.

From the Introduction:

Being a CEO—or even upper-level officer or manager – is often a larger-than-life position and filled with questions that aren’t answered in an MBA education. Every challenge has multiple solutions, each of which can be right and wrong in a given situation. Therefore it is the questions and context we must pay attention to, and more often than not, that is where the learning and results come from.

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Experts Weigh In: I’m an Entrepreneur in My 50s

Experts Weigh In: I'm an Entrepreneur in My 50sAfter spending three weeks with teen entrepreneurs, twentysomething ‘treps, and entrepreneurs in their 30s and 40s, we’re taking a look at savvy entrepreneurs in their 50s! Our 30 professionals profiled today have plenty of pearls of wisdom that come with being in business including opting for triads over partnerships and that there is no glass ceiling when you work for yourself.

1) “So I’ve done a LOT! I’ve worked for companies, I’ve owned companies. The best part about being an entrepreneur at age 53 is that I’m in control of my destiny. Many of my friends are worried about their retirement accounts, for me, being an entrepreneur is like early retirement with a cash faucet! I can work as much or as little as I want or need. I don’t plan to retire, I do what I love and plan to keep on doing it.”

- Karen Yankovch, 53, Owner, Social Media Brand Strategist

2) “The best part of being an entrepreneur in my 50s is that I’ve already made a WHOLE LOT OF mistakes. I also have learned that nothing is quite as good or quite as bad as it seems, so I’m less panicked and more stable in my thinking. I’m also much more focused on working smart not hard, but often still do some of both!

Many people require structure and need to be told what to do and have goals set for them. The biggest challenge with being an entrepreneur is time management and making sure I get the stuff done that I don’t like doing, before I get into the fun stuff. It’s a scheduling thing, but here again, I’ve been doing it for quite a while, so I know when I need to just hunker down and clear off the desk.

One last word of advice for entrepreneurs – think triads, not just partnerships. While partnering with like minded and complementary businesses is great, developing triads is even better. If I can get two people together that can help each other, it’s easy for me to tag along, because if it’s helpful, they both have a reason to include me where appropriate. Win-Win-Win is better than Win-Win.”

- John Schaefer, 59, Founder and President, Schaefer Recognition Group

3) “After receiving my MBA in Finance I worked on Wall Street for about 20 years as a fixed income trader and proprietary equity trader before leaving to open up a company that originated commercial mortgage loans and then sold them to banks who turned them into bonds. When Lehman Brothers failed and the market seized I had the opportunity to open a title insurance firm which I jumped on. Six years later and we are doing great.

The best thing about being an entrepreneur at 50+ is the autonomy it provides to do and run things the way that you think best. The issue with being an entrepreneur at 50+ is the fact that if for some unforeseen reason the business does not work out, prospects for getting hired in the conventional job market are dicey. For that reason I just have to make sure that we succeed!”

- Mike Haltman, 54, Owner, Hallmark Abstract Service

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