The Three Cs of Business Storytelling

Well, we had an absolute blast hosting some smart, supportive, wonderful women yesterday evening at our summer storytelling workshop. Witnessing the Enthuse Foundation community so engaged in offering help and guidance to one another and elevating the energy in the room is why we love throwing events.

We were led by Linda Grace Farley, a Toastmasters International District Director, business owner, facilitator, and author whose approach to coaching has a holistic flair.

If you weren’t able to join us yesterday, we’ve rounded up Linda’s speech about the three Cs of business storytelling. Hope to see you in September!

The Three Cs 

Conviction

If you’re telling a story you don’t believe in, your audience will know immediately. Take a little time to prod and poke the reasons why you’re doing this in the first place, then you’ll let people know who you are. 

“Exhibit your passion. What drives you? What is your why? Why do you want to do this? Those questions identify who you are. For as many years as you’ve been on this earth, you’ve had many experiences. Those experiences are the stories you tell. Those stories are your speeches, your pitches.”

“In business, your gut instincts are magnified. If you cannot stand up and say, with conviction and in the face of doubt, ‘this is mine,’ you have to ask yourself why not.”

“There’s competition out there, and it’s fierce. What’s going to make people want to come to you? Why this product? What characteristics make this the best? Maybe the answer is in your feedback, or in a ‘thank you’ you’ve received.”

“Where and how will this product make an impact in the world? You want to impact, you want to give back. If you think small, you’ll be small. You have to know that you can conquer the world.”

“You all have the innate ability that will help you succeed. Live, breathe, eat, and sleep your conviction towards your product.”

“Create some FOMO. Let people know what they’ll be missing if they don’t buy your product or service.”

“Who are you to not follow your gut? You’d do an injustice to everyone you might be able to help.”

Confidence

These stories have happened to you, and you’re the subject-matter expert. Our brains are wired for storytelling; when we show emotion and radiate authenticity, it’s engaging and persuasive.

“Why do I have confidence as a speaker? It’s because although I know you could sit there and judge me, I understand that’s your issue, not mine. It’s not for me to worry about saying something that you don’t like. I know I can’t please everybody.”

“Don’t be scared to say, “This is my product. I believe in it, and I’ll tell you why.””

“Show your passion and stand up and be counted. Allow the world to see the brilliance of who you are.”

“Sometimes we just try too hard. If you go into a meeting with a scarcity mindset–that this is your only chance to succeed–you’re unlikely to make the impact that you like, and if you do, they’ll rake you over the coals. An abundance mindset lets you say, “I understand this product isn’t for you. Thank you for your time.” and believe you’ll find it somewhere else.”

“What have you done in the past that will allow you to brag? Think about what you’ve done to demonstrate that you’re a force to be reckoned with.”

Clarity

Sometimes our enthusiasm for the fullness and richness of our vision can make articulating what we want difficult. To realize our dreams, we need to bring them into sharp focus.

“Repeat Dragnet’s, “just the facts, ma’am” to yourself.”

“Be respectful of the time of the person you’re meeting with. Don’t give away the whole story. You only need to whet their appetite.”

“Practice verbal bullet points, tall body language, and a great handshake. How will your product provide a return on investment? Prepare your timeline; tell them what you can deliver in one year, two years, five years. And have an exit strategy; whether you want to sell your company eventually or not, you have to let potential investors know when they’ll get paid back.”

Is it your time to shine?

There’s nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come. – Victor Hugo

Must B Nice: How You Could Benefit From Becoming a B Corp

The trend for more mindful consumption is ever-advancing. We’re reminded through social media, charity campaigns and from our most rad friends and family that we should vote with our dollars for the world we want. A Nielson global online survey found that two-out-of-three people will pay more for products or services from brands that make a positive social and environmental impact.

Brands like Unilever and IBM are leaning into this idea and have made significant sweeping commitments to minimize their footprints and create some good while continuing to make a profit.

If making a positive impact on the world fits your brand purpose and ethos, you might like to ratify your commitment by becoming a Certified B Corp. B Corps are for-profit companies that meet rigorous environmental and social standards by the nonprofit B Lab. As a B Corp, you deliver not just a product or service, but a new idea about what constitutes profit and success.

Why should I get certified?

  • Be a leader
    Stay at the forefront of a progressive movement towards transparency and accountability.
  • Attract great people
    Finding and keeping qualified, hardworking people is often high up on the list of challenges entrepreneurs face. Value alignment can help keep the best people. Use B Corp’s job board to find candidates actively seeking to do good in the world.
  • Amplify your voice
    Use the B Corp seal tell an instant story about your values, differentiate yourself from others in your sector, and show that you’re dedicated to making a positive impact. 
  • Build your network
    You’re encouraged to connect with other B-Corp leaders through the online community, ‘B Hive.’ Meet other business leaders in person at events and connect with potential clients and vendors who share your values.

How do I go about it?

We won’t lie; the assessments take time and a real commitment. You can expect the process to take around six months with a lot of paperwork and evidence gathering.

Can you say ‘yes’ to the following questions?

  • Community: do you have positive supplier relations, diversity in your workforce, and are you servicing your community?
  • Environment: have you put a plan in place to be sustainable with your facilities, materials, emissions, and resource and energy use?
  • Customers: are your products and services promoting the public good?
  • Workers: are your workers compensated fairly and given benefits, training, flexibility, and ownership opportunities?
  • Governance: has your company adopted a social or environmental mission?

If so, you can start by taking the B Impact Assessment.

If you score well on the assessment, you can schedule a review call with a member of the B Lab team and submit supporting documentation.

When everything looks good, you have your full assessment call with B Lab (60 – 90 minutes) about your documents and clear up any outstanding questions.

Afterward, if you score 80/200 or above on assessments in the five areas, you’ll be invited to submit your final evidence supporting the practices you discussed on the assessment call.

Once you’ve done that, and completed a disclosure questionnaire and signed the B Corp Agreement, the nonprofit will do a final background check.

Phew! It’s a long process, but it’ll be worth it.

Any downsides?

If you’re an LLC, you do not need to worry. If you’re a C-corp or S-corp, you might need to become chartered as a benefit corporation. Although it shouldn’t cost you any more in taxes, it is a whole other process. B Corp has this requirement because traditional corporate law requires that directors place profit above all else.

Business Storytelling Workshop

When: Tuesday, July 16

Where: WeWork Grand Central, NY

Today, consumers are just as interested as the story behind the brand as they are in its products. Are you telling a compelling story? Linda Grace Farley of Toastmasters International will be leading a workshop designed to help entrepreneurs weave engaging brand stories that intrigue both consumers and investors.

Following Linda’s presentation, we’ll give attendees an opportunity to participate in a brand Q&A and receive feedback on how to weave brand storytelling into your answers.

Whether you’re just launching a business or are well-established, our pitch nights offer an opportunity to meet other women business owners, present your product or service, refine your pitch and technique, and receive supportive feedback from our community.

Event Agenda

6:00-6:15 Registration and Refreshments

6:15-8:00 Welcome and Brand Storytelling Workshop with entrepreneur, business coach, and Toastmaster Linda Grace Farley

8:00-8:30 Structured Networking

Register today 

Reclaim your independence through entrepreneurship

For most entrepreneurs, the aim of the game is financial, intellectual, and emotional independence. Being able to control your brand and when and how you make time for work means you can create a life lived on your terms.

But that assumes things are going just how you planned. You might be a necessity entrepreneur who works freelance because you can’t find a suitable job in your area and are struggling to pay the bills. You might be a first-year bootstrapper who always feels at the behest of a difficult client you can’t afford to lose. If so, it could feel like the life you wanted to build is a little too far away.

Try these six ways to take back control.

Take back your financial independence

Pay yourself first

Maybe you’ve been putting all of your money back into your business because you’ve worked so hard to build it and think your returns will be higher. It’s time to pay yourself first. Committing to your personal wealth shows investors you’re serious about your business as a viable, long-term way of making money, rewards you for the time you put in, and allows you to invest and diversify your income.

Read more about paying yourself first

Protect your personal credit

Maybe, like many female entrepreneurs, you’ve had to rely on personal loans to finance your business. If you’re worried about the impact your business could have on your personal financial standing, try some techniques for building your business credit score so that you can conduct your business separately.

Read more about business credit

Take back your intellectual independence

Make the time

Maybe you want to make plans but find yourself doing administrative work and and answering emails all day, every day. Kerry Preston from Growtality told attendees of our March event to look back at your calendar and think about where you spent your time in the past five days. Was it doing busywork, checking a to-do list, or something that will help you reach your goals? Know what your biggest derailer is. If you don’t know what dragged you down last week, you’re doomed to repeat it this week.
Then, take at least one hour a day to work towards the things you can’t delegate, that can move you forward and produce a significant result: inspiration, research, making plans, and mapping goals.

Imitation does not flatter your brand

Maybe you want to create something unique, but look at the brands around you and think you can’t compete with their big budgets and agency teams. Brand strategist, Jasmine Bina, says, “Don’t play in someone else’s backyard.” Your competitors might have smart ideas and big budgets, but trying to replicate them doesn’t allow you to get in front of them or say anything unique. Bina goes on, “Box’s brand is a better version of DropBox, but that does nothing to differentiate them. Better is actually worse. Different is what matters.”

Read more about branding

Take back your emotional independence

Slay the dragon

Maybe you’ve been putting off a difficult conversation for a while, and it’s taking a toll on your outlook and the faith you have in yourself to manage a tricky situation. Forbes suggests tackling the conversation head on and:

  • be direct, get to the point quickly and forget about compliment sandwiches.
  • be specific, offer concrete examples about why things have got to this point.
  • plan out the conversation, think of questions the person may ask and have answers prepared.
  • offer a solution, if you’re breaking up with a bad consultant or letting your first employee go, still come prepared to offer suggestions that could help them in the future.

Chunk your problems

Maybe you feel so overwhelmed by having all bucks stop with you, that you haven’t been able to feel in control of your work life. Chunking is the process of taking those big, overwhelming problems and projects and breaking them down into batches of small, manageable tasks. Not only does this help to make the smaller portions feel easier to tackle and give us some optimism about our ability to get things done, but it’s also helpful for our memory.


We hope you get some time this holiday to take stock of how far you’ve come and make a toast to the future you.

Kerry Preston continued:

“When you consider your obstacles–depletion, tiredness, lack of credibility or funds–go home and make a list of everything you’re doing that’s sabotaging you. Then do the opposite. That’s your action plan.”

Beyonce performing Independent Women

Book Club: Grit, by Angela Duckworth

As an agency, education is the cornerstone of everything we do. That starts with our internal team.

So, we started a book club. A chance for us all to expand the way we think about our approach to work inside and outside the office. This month’s read was Grit, The Power of Passion and Perseverance, by Angela Duckworth.

Grit is a combination of passion and determination. According to Duckworth, the ability to focus on a task and see it through despite challenges that arise is a stronger predictor of high achievement than talent or intelligence.

Throughout the book, Duckworth explores the lives of grit paragons, people who exemplify grit. We thought it’d be useful to round up some of her research and advice, and fill you in on what we took away from the book.  

Why grit is important

In her work analyzing why West Point college had such a high drop-out rate, Duckworth noted that the aptitude-based “Whole Candidate Score” entry tests weren’t indicative of a student’s long-term potential or stick-at-it-ness. She finds that some people feel they don’t need to work hard if they’re naturally gifted.

Gritty people have the ability to feel satisfied being unsatisfied, resting in the squirmishness many of us feel when we’re not a natural at something.

In her observations, effort is paramount. She created the equation:

Talent x effort = skill…skill x effort = achievement

You put effort into building skill, but without an extra push, you won’t be able to turn those skills into achievements in an often unpredictable world.

She also notes that many of us have a bias towards ‘natural talent’. We love to indulge in the mystery of effortless talent so that we won’t feel so bad if we don’t reach our goals.

What we accomplish in the marathon of life depends tremendously on our grit—our passion and perseverance for long-term goals. An obsession with talent distracts us from that simple truth.

Focus

Clear goals are vital to developing grit. You can use these four steps to prioritize and align your goals:

  1. List up to 25 of your goals
  2. Choose five that are your top priority
  3. Completely avoid the 20 goals that you didn’t select – don’t waste time or energy on them
  4. Think about how your top five goals are related. Be loyal to your top-level goals and make sure any short terms goals you create are in service of one of your top

Developing grit from the inside out

Additionally, you need these four ingredients to develop grit: 

  1. an interest in what you’re doing or striving for. This looks like: 
    1. experimenting with different interests and figuring out what you like and don’t
    2. giving new interests time, viewing challenges as fascinating rather than annoying
  2. a deliberate practice, focusing on improvement. This looks like:
    1. pushing yourself beyond your current skill level
    2. enjoying the challenge
    3. making your routine into a habit
    4. always using your full attention
  3. purpose, knowing that your work is important. This looks like:
    1. finding a problem that you personally have the skills or ideas to solve
    2. being true to your personal values
    3. finding people who inspire you
  4. hope that you can achieve your goals, that is resilient to setbacks. This looks like:
    1. positive self-talk
    2. growth-mindset
    3. avoiding fixed-mindset language

“Parenting” for grit

Parenting in this context just means supporting the next generation, whether it’s a niece, junior co-worker, son, intern or goddaughter.

Duckworth goes on to say that we all need to role model passion and perseverance and pursue our own goals in order to mentor grit in others.

Similar to the support/challenge matrix you might have seen at your corporate job, the parenting for grit chapter explores a supportive/demanding matrix that encourages potential grit parents to think about how to set high expectations in a way that’s supportive. 

She suggests developing “hard thing” rule, in which every member of the family chooses a difficult thing to try and sticks to it, only stopping at the natural conclusion, like the event day, season or semester-end, not on a whim.

Developing a culture of grit

“Either small environmental differences, or genetic ones, can trigger a virtuous cycle. Either way, the effects are multiplied socially through culture, because each of us enriches the environment of all of us.”

Our takeaways

We loved the story about running-phobic Will Smith who said, “You might have more talent than me, you might be smarter than me, but if we get on the treadmill together, right, there’s two things: You’re getting off first, or I’m going to die.”

Our managers took to the ‘sticking to something hard for a year rule’, so much so that they vowed to model that behavior in their own working lives for their teams.

We know that everyone hears a ‘no’ sometimes, and that’s OK, we want to continue nurturing a growth mindset among our staff.

We acknowledged how passionate our staff is, and how important our culture is to fostering that, no matter what the project is. 

Everyone works harder when it’s to the benefit of others, whether that’s work for the Foundation, or supporting people on our team who we respect and cherish. We want to keep those flames burning bright.

Criticisms and omissions

The book has come under criticism for its limited view of success. It makes no mention of creativity, the ability to think under pressure, or integrity being important for a successful life. And the people who might be in the right set of circumstances for building grit may well be in the same circumstances to develop those other traits seen in successful people. 

The New Yorker’s David Denby opined. “If grit mania really flowers, one can imagine a mass of grimly determined people exhausting themselves and everyone around them with obsessional devotion to semi-worthless tasks—a race of American squares, anxious, compulsive, and constrained.” —ouch.

If you’d like the chance to decide for yourself, get in touch. We have a few spare copies that we’d love to share with you. 

This Pride, Support an LGBTQ-Owned Business

Pride month is here and this year is special, June 28 marks the 50th anniversary of the Greenwich Village Stonewall riots, the launchpad of the modern gay rights movement.

We’re excited that love-is-love season is upon us, and while we know lots of big companies will be vying for our dollars with rainbow badges, water bottles, and french-fry cartons, this year we’re thinking about using our money to patronize local LGBTQ-owned businesses instead.

America has undergone a cultural transformation in terms of its attitude towards LGBTQ people. In fact, there has been a more rapid change in views on gay rights in the past 30 years than there ever has been in recorded attitudes in the United States on any issue. As Tan France would say, this is no longer the fight for tolerance, but a fight for acceptance.

And while this progress is wonderful, it can also be deceptive. The sad truth is that employment discrimination is still real and persistent in the LGBTQ community, particularly for trans and gender non-conforming people. Trans+ people are twice as likely as cisgender people to be unemployed despite being twice as likely to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. Shockingly, in 28 states employees can be fired for being lesbian, gay, or bisexual and in 30 states, transgender employees can be legally fired for their gender identity.

Entrepreneurship is a boon for any smart, ambitious person but maybe especially for people who also face an intolerant workplace.

And entrepreneurs in this community are creating good jobs and innovating industries, and are more likely to hire a more diverse workforce. A report by the NGLCC estimates that LGBTQ-owned businesses contribute over $1.7 trillion to the US economy.

So this June might be a good time to break out the Pink Pages and support the people who are holding it down in a sometimes hostile world.

Graphic by Out & Equal Workplace Advocates

Find support 

If you’re an LGBTQ business-owner, there are services that you can access to help support you in building or growing your company.

Become an LGBTBE

According to the NGLCC, “By becoming a certified LGBTBE, businesses are able to build relationships with America’s leading corporations, generate prospective business and clients, and collectively team with each other for contracting opportunities. As corporate America becomes more inclusive and further diversifies its supply chain, certification offers the opportunity for LGBT-owned businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors.”

TransTech

TransTech is an incubator for LGBTQ talent with a focus on economically empowering transgender people. It works to develop skills within marginalized LGBTQ communities and its members have access to an online community and training.

Out Professionals

NY-based business owners can join Out Professionals, the nation’s leading LGBTQ networking organization.

Start Out 

Start Out supports LGBTQQ entrepreneurs through educational events, networking, and mentoring. It also hopes to fight discrimination by promoting LGBTQ entrepreneurs in the media. Membership is free but you can also join its premium membership to use its mentorship or investor programs.

Reaching Out  

If you’re a student doing an MBA, ROMBA will connect you with other LGBTQ future business leaders.

Be a patron and an ally

If you’re a straight, cisgender entrepreneur there are a few other things you can do besides spending your dollars to be an ally to your LGBTQ employees, business partners, or associates:

  • be sensitive that a person’s preferred pronouns might not always be consistent with their appearance
  • hire more diverse freelancers to work on projects with you
  • make sure you have LGBTQ representation in senior positions across your organization
  • think about diversity programs and inclusive family-building options in your benefits packages
  • implement gender-neutral bathrooms at your place of work
  • be visible about calling out bad behavior in your network
  • listen to people who are part of the community and teach yourself about the issues

Building a good business credit score

Women are more likely than men to have to rely on personal credit to finance their businesses because *gestures broadly at the state of the world*. It leaves us with worse terms with suppliers and lenders and more risks to our personal assets.

If you run a company, you can use your business credit score to draw a short line between your personal finances and your business and protect yourself in case something goes wrong. While there’s no way to indemnify your personal credit against an unforeseen business downturn completely, you can take a few measures that will give you more control.

What is a business credit score?

A business credit score works in much the same way as your personal credit score. Lenders will look at your score to determine whether they’ll approve you for a business credit card or a loan. Suppliers may also use this score to decide whether or not to offer you trade credit. You’ll be given a number from zero to 100 based on your creditworthiness, taking into account factors like whether or not you’ve paid vendors and creditors on time, the length of your credit history, your company size, and your industry risk. The three largest credit bureaus will typically generate this number: Dun & Bradstreet, FICO® LiquidCredit® Small Business Scoring Service℠, and Experian. Equifax, one of the leading consumer credit bureaus,  also offers small business credit scores.

How do I build credit?

1. Establish your business. Get a federal employer ID number. You could also choose to incorporate or form an LLC if it’s the right time for your business. Set up a dedicated business phone line.

2. Get a business bank account and credit card and use only up to 25% of your credit line. Check Nerdwallet or Credit Karma to find good deals.

3. Make on-time payments to your vendors. (Annoyingly, not all vendors report payments to the business credit bureaus so it might be worth checking with yours when you start the relationship.) Dun & Bradstreet will also give your score a little boost if you pay early.

When you’re sending payments, opening accounts or getting loans, use only your company name and ID number; leave your SSN out of the picture as far as is possible.

Does my business credit score affect my personal credit score?

We wish it didn’t—and it shouldn’t—but sometimes it does. Your personal and business credit reports are kept on entirely different databases, but Gerri Detweiler, education director at Nav, explains to Credit KarmaThere are a few business credit cards and financing options that may report to both commercial and personal credit. And there are some credit scores, such as the FICO® SBSS℠, that include data from both personal and business credit…It’s important for business owners to understand, monitor, and build both.”

Check a credit card’s reporting policy against all of its other rewards and services to determine whether it’s the right fit for your business.

Can I build good business credit with a not-so-great personal credit score?

Many lenders and business credit card issuers will look to your personal credit when deciding whether or not to accept you. But that doesn’t mean that they all do and that doesn’t mean you can’t build credit other ways.

One of the factors affecting your business credit score is how quickly you pay vendors. Try to find vendors who you know are reporting to the bureaus and are willing to give you goods or services with payment terms after you’ve received them. Then you can start to build up your credit from there.

How do I find out my business credit score?

Setting up a free Nav account will give you access to your scores from Dun & Bradstreet and Experian, plus your personal credit score from Experian. This is a soft inquiry so it won’t hurt your score to check.

Unlike your personal credit score, you aren’t entitled to a free report from each of the three main bureaus, but you can purchase them from around $50 – $100. A hard check on your business credit rating doesn’t tend to be as detrimental as the hard checks are to your personal credit.

It’s worth noting here that anyone can look up your business credit score: your suppliers, investors, or potential landlords.

A good way to increase your score is to check the reports include the right information and send back corrections to any errors that could be detracting from your score.

Keeping it in check

The relationship between personal credit and business credit can be frustrating when with some lenders it’s wholly separate and others it’s blended.

The best thing we can do is to keep an eye on both our personal and business credit scores and always check to see where lenders, credit cards, and vendors will be reporting.

Read more of expert, Gerri Detweiler‘s, advice on the subject of business credit.

The best thing we can do is to keep an eye on both our personal and business credit scores and always check to see where lenders, credit cards, and vendors will be reporting.

The Top 10 Podcasts for Female Entrepreneurs

One of the best things about the arrant over-connectedness of the late twenty-tens is that if you’re looking to learn, there’s someone who can teach you.

Business podcasts are a gift to anyone with a long commute and a thirst for knowledge. But with so many out there, how do you choose the best one? We listened to a ton and have rounded up the top ten, in no particular order.

BEST FOR BIZ NERDS

How I Built This

Guy Raz dives into the stories behind some of the world’s best-known companies. How I Built This weaves a narrative journey about innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists—and the movements they built.

What people are saying

“Hearing the story of how well-known brands came to exist, in the words of the people who created them, is fascinating and inspiring. This is one of my favorite podcasts!”

Standout episode

Sara Blakey, Spanx

At 27, Sara Blakely was selling fax machines and desperate to reinvent her life. So she came up with Spanx — hosiery that eliminates panty lines — and set to work building her business.

BEST FOR SPOTLIGHT DWELLERS

The Pitch

The Pitch is a podcast that takes you behind closed doors to the critical moment when aspiring entrepreneurs put it all on the line. Each episode delivers on the high-stakes promise of a live pitch without shying away from the nitty gritty details of what happens after everyone shakes hands and walks out of the room.

What people are saying

“I have enjoyed it from day one. It only keeps improving. Entertaining and I tend to learn something in each episode on how either investors or entrepreneurs think and react.”

Standout episode

Three Startups Enter. Only One Will Leave. (#40)

At The Pitch’s first-ever live show, three startups face off: Honeyfi, a budgeting app for couples; CBlocks, a cryptocurrency starter kit; and OpenBottle, an app to help people try high-end wines. But can the investors agree on which company should take home the prize?

BEST FOR READY-TO-TAKE-THE-LEAP-ERS

She Did It Her Way

Every week, host, Amanda Boleyn delivers fresh content on productivity hacks, different business strategies, how to confidently transition out of your 9-to-5 and become a full-time business owner.

What people are saying

“Love, Love, Love! I started listening to podcasts at the beginning of the year and Amanda’s is the only one I have been able to keep up with and look forward to on a consistent basis. I also had the pleasure of meeting her at the She Did It Her Way Summit and she is AMAZING in person as well.”

Standout episode

How to Avoid Overthinking and Take Action with Christy Wright

Christy Wright is the #1 National Best-Selling author of Business Boutique, host of the Business Boutique Podcast, a Certified Business Coach and a Ramsey Personality with a passion for equipping women with the knowledge and steps they need to successfully run and grow a business!

BEST FOR STAR SHOOTERS

Masters of Scale 

How do companies grow from zero to a gazillion? Silicon Valley investor/entrepreneur Reid Hoffman tests his theories with famous founders and brings out some hilariously honest stories. Guests include Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg & Sheryl Sandberg, Netflix’s Reed Hastings, Google’s Eric Schmidt, Spanx’s Sara Blakely.

What people are saying

“I am thankful to my friend who introduced me to this. At my early 40s, this podcast series has become a mini-MBA for me. I am learning so much and someone who travels extensively, this podcast series has made my plane travel productive as I can use the time to really learn, take notes and apply them for my day to day ambitious programs.”

Standout episode

Check your blind spot w/Sallie Krawcheck (Ellevest).

If your company’s dominated by one type of person, you run the risk of tunnel vision. Truly scalable companies need a diverse portfolio of viewpoints to see the opportunities others miss. Sallie Krawcheck knows this well. She rose through the ranks of Wall Street and saw firsthand the challenges a lack of diversity brings.

BEST FOR INTERESTING DINNER-PARTY HOSTS

Fortune Favors the Bold

Fortune Favors the Bold is a podcast about the unique and changing role money plays in our lives—and about what happens when we take risks, take control, and redefine our relationship with it. Hosted by data journalist Mona Chalabi, the series will tell stories about the rules of the game when it comes to money and the people and organizations who are breaking them in ways that benefit us all.

What people are saying

“Great! It goes way beyond finance – Such great stories looped into each topic.”

Standout episode

Small Business Is Everyone’s Business

There’s a misconception that small businesses are overshadowed by big companies when it comes to driving the economy. The truth? Small businesses punch way above their weight, creating positive ripple effects far beyond their local community.

BEST FOR BALANCE SEARCHERS

Raising the Bar

A show for entrepreneurs, for anyone who wants to know about business, or how to have a life while having a business. Founders Alli Webb and Michael Landau speak to budding and successful business owners whose ideas they love. Alli started their business Drybar by driving herself around to homes in Los Angeles to give blow-outs to clients, but then their business took off. 

What people are saying

Beautifully honest! So good! Thank you, Alli and Michael- this podcast is so helpful for entrepreneurs!”

Standout episode

Sarah Michelle Gellar: From Vampires to Empires

When Alli Webb and Michael Landau started Drybar eight years ago, they had no idea what would happen, but that’s the life of every entrepreneur. Risk everything, and you could gain or lose everything. So they’re talking to business owners of all kinds – moguls and beginners alike – including Sarah Michelle Gellar. When she started FoodStirs in 2014, she had no idea what would happen, and even for Sarah Michelle Gellar, it hasn’t been an easy road.

BEST FOR ETSY SELLERS AND SIDE HUSTLERS

BizChix

Host Natalie Eckdahl helps women entrepreneurs own their role as CEO through her business trainings, on-air coaching calls, and expert interviews.

What people are saying

“Wow! She is captivating! I’m a new listener and am hooked on her style and her advice! Keep up the great work!!”

Standout episode

224: How to Work Full Time and Launch a Business [Advice from The Biz Chix Community]

The BizChix Community shares advice on how women can building a side business while still working a full-time job. This advice also applies to women who are building a business while taking care of small children full time.

BEST FOR INCOME DIVERSIFIERS

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“Love this show, straight up solid content. It’s obvious that JLD puts Extraordinary effort into finding guests that are authentic and truly care about being a positive force in this world. Thank you for making a difference.”

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223: Sarah Robinson of Sarah Robinson Co.

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Three big brand rules you can break as a small business, and three that you should observe

Branding is one of those nebulous concepts that can suck you into all of its moving parts, and–several complicated Euler diagrams and Coca Cola examples later–have you thinking that there’s no place for your small business in the world of brand metrics planning or visual design systems. You do a lot of things yourself, so just kind of get it, you know?

Luckily, that’s your strength. You built this company because you get the space. Carnivores don’t tend to open vegan restaurants and introverts don’t tend to open party-planning businesses. Your unimpeded vision and intuition will give you a sense of authenticity that big brands are trying to construct and there are some traditional branding rules that you can feel comfortable breaking.

Brand guidelines or death

As a small business, it’s not likely that you’re running big ad campaigns. In your day to day, your digital presence might be your most prominent visual brand expression. It’s tempting to try and apply the rigid rules of your brand guidelines for consistency, but in our age of passive consumption, you need to create a few pieces of varied and break-through content every week, and sticking to a tight set of rules could stifle the creativity you need to make an impact. It’s a good idea to create posts that just represent the spirit of your business instead.

For example, here’s a selection of posts from noted co-sharing office space disrupter, WeWork. The posts don’t follow a strict visual template but express something about WeWork’s personality.

Don’t make moves without formal audience research

They say research is the linchpin of all good marketing, but agencies can charge thousands of dollars to draft questionnaires, make phone calls, and conduct focus groups. While, of course, it’s prudent to do market research at the planning stage of your business, you don’t need to spend much on audience research to make decisions about your brand or offering.

You could try:

– Some careful social listening: monitoring social media for mentions of your brand or any discussion that’s happening around your industry, competitors or trends, or general sentiments among your demographic.

– Testing tag lines on social media ads: create identical ads with different copy and do a simple A/B test to find out what your audience gravitates to more.

– Opening up a dialogue with your customers: you’ll be surprised at how much you can glean from having informal, honest conversations with your customers about who they are and not just what they’re into at the moment.

– Using Quora, Survey Monkey or Reddit to ask direct questions.

Your brand should be politically neutral to appeal to everyone

Big brands are typically afraid of putting their head above the parapet on divisive issues. But we’re more connected than ever, and brands are acting more like humans than companies online, so consumers have come to expect brands to speak on the issues that are important to them.

Sixty-four percent of consumers worldwide will make a purchasing decision based on a brand’s social or political position, according to the 2018 Edelman Earned Brand study. Belief-driven buyers are now the majority across all markets.

It isn’t to say that you have to be part of every conversation, it’s to say that if there’s something that you want to say that is truly authentic to your brand, you can make some noise. Big brands who do this well are Dr. Bronner, Patagonia, and Chobani.

And three to stay loyal to ’til the end

Figure out your brand personality

According to Investopedia, customers are more likely to purchase a brand if its personality is similar to their own. It says, “There are five main types of brand personalities with common traits:

1. Excitement: carefree, spirited, and youthful

2. Sincerity: kindness, thoughtfulness, and an orientation toward family values

3. Ruggedness: rough, tough, outdoorsy, and athletic

4. Competence: successful, accomplished and influential, highlighted by leadership

5. Sophistication: elegant, prestigious, and sometimes even pretentious.”

Think about what attributes fit your brand the best. Try and skip words like reliable and professional–it’s your actions that will prove that you’re dependable. Your personality is more about inviting your customers to relate to your brand.

Imitation will not flatter your brand

Brand strategist, Jasmine Bina, says, “Don’t play in someone else’s backyard.” Your competitors might have smart ideas and big budgets, but trying to replicate them doesn’t allow you to get in front of them or say anything unique. Bina goes on, “Box’s brand is a better version of DropBox, but that does nothing to differentiate them. Better is actually worse. Different is what matters.”

Stay true to your core values

In our over-saturated and heavily filtered digital media landscape, consumers–particularly Millennials and Gen Zs–seek out real stuff, real people, authentic things.

It might feel like the world is changing so rapidly and that it’s challenging to stay on message or to use trends to promote your brand. The key is to know that absolutely everything is up for reevaluation but your core values.

The key is to know that absolutely everything is up for reevaluation but your core values.