Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Eve of A To Z (There's So Much Anticipation, I Feel Like It's New Years Eve)

Today is the last day of March, 2012--one of the most life altering months I've undergone during my thirty years on this planet.

For one, I have experienced a huge shift and growth as an entrepreneur. I passed Hubspot's Inbound Marketing exam (it's official, I am a Certified Inbound Marketer, I do work hard to maintain the Jaclyn of All Trades title), I completed a "Build Your Business Online Bootcamp" (thanks Liz Dennery-Sanders), which, similar to exercise oriented bootcamps will need to be reviewed on a frequent basis. Gotta build up that business stamina to make it to Shark Tank someday.

This past month, I even published a few articles on my blog and other sites as a guest blogger. I connected with through Facebook and within a few days, wrote and published "What It Means To Be A Business Chick". I also signed myself up for a blog challenge I found through Twitter called the A to Z challenge where I will have 26 posts for the month of April, each corresponding with the letters of the alphabet.

Tomorrow, April 1st, is "A day" and I am excited to work my writing muscle. I admit, I'm not sure what I may post about the letter Z (feel free to offer some suggestions) but I'm trying to take it one day and one letter at a time.

My anticipation at the unknown seems to be a common theme for 2012. In addition to all of the professional accomplishments I have outlined here, there have been some personal challenges too. The first week of March, I got a call from my aunt in Florida advising me that my 82 year old grandmother had fallen very ill and was only given a few days to live. Now I must disclose that my relationship with my grandmother was one of the most sacred connections I had in my family. We were more like mother and daughter, best friends, buddies. By Tuesday March 6th, I was on a red eye flight from LAX to PBI (with a brief layover in NY). Grandma had been given four days to live.

I boarded my flight that evening, as I had often done flying, only this time I was in a daze. I drank a glass (or two) of red wine to calm my nerves. Then, at 5:00 in the morning or so, about 40 minutes prior to landing at JFK for my layover, I became increasingly sick to my stomach. Panic took over as I hopped out of my seat and headed to the back of the plane. I managed to tell a stewardess that I felt faint all before I woke up on the floor of the plane! That was the first time I ever fainted on a flight. Talk about perfect comedic material. To recover, I sat in the back of the plane, on the floor, ice pack around my neck, chugging Sprite and eating mini chocolate chip cookies. I kissed the ground when I finally landed in West Palm Beach, FL.

A day later on March 8th, at 9:09 pm, I held my grandmother's hand and watched her take her very last breath. It was a moment that will remain with me for the rest of my life. I felt honored, I felt heartbroken, I felt a new sense of urgency around our time here on earth. Death even took on a new perspective in my mind. It seemed a lot less scary and my fear of dying, along with all the stresses of being self employed, the frustration of being single, the self doubt at my ability to be the success I aspire to be, died too.

As I write this post now, on the eve of April 1st, my grandfather is in his final stages of life. After 66 years of marriage to my grandmother, he cannot go on without her. It has pained me this past three weeks to see him heartbroken yet it has been a privilege for me to wake up with him in the middle of the night, to tuck him in to bed, to watch Dancing With The Stars with him.

And so I dedicate this A to Z challenge to my grandparents, Adriane and Katch. The very two people who taught me as immigrants, entrepreneurs, lovers, role models and grandparents that we should face our challenges daily and rise to the occasion. Right now, the last thing I want to do is push myself, to go on without them, to break out of the awkward shell I've been in this past three weeks watching my loved ones leave this life. But this blog challenge is a great metaphor! I realize that our life stages are like the alphabet. You can't jump from A to D, let alone from A to Z. It just doesn't work that way. There is beauty in the sequence, in the order, in the progression from one letter on to the next.

No two letters are alike, no two lives are alike. And I know that no two blog posts in this challenge will be alike. I may blog about business, I may blog about disappointments in love, I may blog about my personal and professional aspirations. Who knows what will come as I connect my brain -----> to my heart-----> to this keyboard to the alphabet.

So, sit back and relax this April as I take you with me from A to Z. And if you feel so inclined or inspired, take the plunge and go on a 26 day journey from A to Z on your own.

How did your March shape up? I want to know. Post a comment in the section below. If you want to challenge yourself, start your comment with the letter A.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Stepping Out With Startups and Stilettos™: Meet Stacy Reid, Founder of TINte Cosmetics

Startups. Some people see them in the technical sense, I see them in the goal setting sense. Personal profit, professional profit--I"ll leave the category up to you. Starting something new is never an easy task. It takes clarity, planning, execution and determination.

Stilettos. My devotion to the fictional series Sex and The City has led me to appreciate the feminine power and pizzaz of a great pair of heels (even if the ones on my manicured feet happen to be a size 10). 

Startups and Stilettos™: Women digging in, defining their lives, designing their outcome regardless of shoe size, geographical location, religion, race, marital status, even.....salary. 
After multiple spa, wine and traveling induced confessions from friends and female strangers alike about stagnation in life, I decided to listen to my intuition and begin what I believe will ultimately be my life's purpose: to create a community where women (single or married, employed or entrepreneur, fitness enthusiast or fitness rebellion) could be inspired to start something...whatever objective or goal their heart desired but their mind was lacking confidence in. And so, Startups and Stilettos™ was born. 

Luckily, I didn't have to search far and wide to find the initial Startups and Stilettos members. As a matter of fact, Stacy Reid, founder of TINte Cosmetics was one of the first to "jump in her pumps" at the idea of joining Startups and Stilettos.
No stranger to starting over herself, Stacy's story proves that the best things can happen when you're willing to let go and start anew. 

SO, congrats to our very first FEATURED Sole Sister, Stacy Reid. To honor Stacy (and allow you to pick up a smooch or two about entrepreneurship), we inquired about her personal startups and stilettos story. In response she created, and sealed with a kiss the storyboard below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Roundup Of Baby and Business Advice For Female Entrepreneurs From Recent Guest Post Contributions

I have a toddler--she is 15 months old, growing leaps and bounds everyday and is definitely changing before my very eyes at an unstoppable rate. Development is a beautiful thing to watch and I can assure you, parenting takes commitment, focus, dedication, nurturing and hard work.

You see, my 15 month old baby is my business.

How many female entrepreneurs can relate to my analogy?

We start off with an idea inclusive of a product or service, we establish pricing and promotions. Then we deliver that idea and watch it take on a life of it's own. Anyone up for a business baby shower? I sure could use an iPhone!

At my 15 month milestone, I can't help but look back and say, "Wow, where did the time go" which is often (quickly) followed by "Wow, so this is what the future holds." And while I haven't had to change any diapers for this particular "child", I have had to change a lot of other variables including my evolving business model, my organizational skills and even my thinking!

As a creative, I struggle between art, thinking outside of the box and interpretation vs, STRATEGY, SEO, and more STRATEGY but I manage the best hybrid approach for me (although it's taken some mastery). Practice makes perfect when changing diapers, rocking a baby to sleep and crafting your target market, business belief statement and revenue streams, year after year.

Fortunately, there has never been a better time for women in business. And whether we have children of our own or "business babies", we can all benefit from swapping stories and exchanging advice to ensure we create the most well-rounded, happy, pleasant.....legacies, whether they are children or businesses which stand for our values and contributions to the world. 

That said, here are some wise words I've learned along the way as I shift from newborn to the infancy stage. Each have been contributed to various guest blog posts over the past year.

If home is where the heart and office are wake up, change it up and punch in just a little bit before or right at 9:00 am.  

As I mentioned in Karen Leland's Two-Work-From-Home-Danger-Zones-And-How-To-Beat-Them article on, "The flexibility of working from home can sometimes alter your sense of urgency to get up and going by 9 a.m., but the more organized and structured you start off, the more likely you are to complete your projects on time and without errors."

And if you are working from home, most likely it's so you can save that money, honey. Here's what I suggest you do to Sacrifice For Your Startup Without Stressing.
Pick one thing you will allow yourself to keep as an incentive. Mine happens to be Starbucks coffee. I need one cup daily and I am not willing to cut that out. But that high-priced hair cut? Adios. I go to a beauty school instead and my hair is fine. What is your money must? The one thing that doesn’t give you a pit in your stomach or make you compute just how many hours you had to work in order to buy it? Allow yourself one money must a month. ONE. No more, no less.

Practice the “P” word daily. Positivity. There will be moments when you are fearful, stressed out and downright tired. But you would likely feel those things in your corporate career, too. Each morning, write down three talents you are thankful you possess. Remind yourself about your long-term goals and how the power of positivity will help you fulfill them.

These are some of my suggestions but I'd love to hear yours, too. What business advice can you pass along that you've learned over the past few days, months, years? Is your business the same as when you first "delivered it" to the marketplace?  

Feel free to post your advice in the comments section below or join this conversation on the Jaclyn Mullen Media Facebook page--  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Well, Hello Blog. It's Great To Meet Again. Today's Topic? Why Delegating For Your Small Business is SUPER Important.

The last time I blogged was in December, which may not be a big deal to some of you but it's a very big deal for me.

I feel like a hypocrite. 

I mean, I consult small businesses on the importance of creating and communicating content yet, I haven't created any blog posts in almost two months. (Well, I did enter a contest via a writing entry and I won. You can read "Breakfast and Business: The Power Of My Potential" here).


Because I, too, am a small business owner. Actually, a solopreneur to be precise. And I've known for months now that I've needed extra hands in the form of interns and a virtual assistant yet I have not taken those steps for my business.

(This photo is from 2 years or so...not much has changed, except now I have an iPad in my arsenal, too)

Second WHY of the day coming right up.

WHY HAVE I POSTPONED obtaining extra help? Because delegating, as well as the preparation for delegating tasks, requires a whole other level of responsibility--one I've been shying away from with Jaclyn Mullen Media out of fear and a hesitancy to change my day to day operations.

RESPONSIBILITY. Most of us truly learned of this word when we got our drivers permits or babysat for the first time. One wrong turn of the wheel and we'd drive over a curb or hit a mailbox like I did once. One look away while watching little Jimmy John and he's out the door. Whatever the lesson was, it taught us that our actions have consequences, both good and bad. If you want less of the bad consequences, the premise was you had to increase your responsibility. Makes sense.

So, why is it that so many entrepreneurs (small business owners, solopreneurs and established business owners alike) postpone delegating tasks and put off the extra responsibility of helping hands?

What is the true fear around additional responsibilities?

Well, for one delegating tasks requires that the chief in charge has to stop and step back. YOU MEAN, HAULT THE MONEY MACHINE IN MOTION? Yes. And I for one have used this excuse along with many other business owners I've connected with. We're too busy servicing clients, looking for new business and tweeting and blogging to really map out a plan. RIGHT?

WRONG. No longer. Not for me. And hopefully not for you. With that said, today, we're going to focus on "How To Prepare For Delegating Tasks And Expanding Your Team."
  1. It's likely that you are spending time on tasks that really don't generate the  most return for you as the owner.  Have you attended a networking event? Want to import all the contacts in a CRM and connect with them on Linkedin? Important, yes. But probably not the most effective use of your time as the owner/operator of your enterprise. Tasks like these are perfect for delegating to an intern or assistant. Data entry, filing, organizing, documenting.
  2. Determine what tasks you should continue performing. Julie Lacouture from Mom Corps LA had this to say about delegating tasks to other employees/team members: "What is it that NO ONE ELSE CAN DO but you? Write these things down and be honest with yourself." Sending an email is one thing but closing sales deals or interfacing with the media--whatever your strengths may be--are the kind of tasks we're talking about here. AGAIN, what is it that you and only you Now that you have a clear idea what you and only you can do, examine the other tasks you are performing that a team member can maintain. Spreadsheets of local networking events, prospects, emails, client services, appointment setting--someone else within your organization can assume these roles. 
  3. Develop Job/Project Descriptions. What are the goals of your business? Your clients? How do your tasks fulfill those? One of the last things to do before you begin your talent/team search is creating a clear picture through job and project descriptions with regard to what each role entails. How frequently should client reports be generated, benchmarks be measured? What is the policy for time tracking? What type of authority do these individuals have, i.e must all final client and company communications be signed off on or does this team member have discretion? Compile guidelines and job descriptions to help manage expectations all across the board and ensure dynamic delegation! 
These are my tips (which I hope to implement). Of course, many more exist. If you have a delegation success story or strategy to share, please feel free to include it in the comments section below.

And if you haven't done so already, I invite you to connect with my growing community on Facebook where I try to keep you inspired, informed and interested.

It's back to work for the Jaclyn Of All Trades. Here's to being bitten by the blogging bug, once again. I'll surely never delegate that!