Thursday, April 30, 2020

Why The Coronavirus Pandemic Should Motivate You To Start A Company And Eight Excuses That No Longer Matter

Written by: Bernhard Schroeder

This coronavirus pandemic will spawn new startup companies across the world.

What were you born to do? Were you born to be an accountant, a marketer or a project manager? Probably not. And who started the company that you are working for? The people that started the company at some point became entrepreneurial and asked themselves, “Why am I working for this person or company?” So, is this the right time for you to start a company?

Just like Uber, Slack, Square, WhatsApp, and Instagram were created coming out of the last recession, there will be many innovative companies spawned from this coronavirus pandemic. Quite a few talented people are being furloughed and, like you, they might be re-examining what they really want out of life. And there is reason to be optimistic. The good news is that more people are now actively seeking to become entrepreneurs. A new report from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM), sponsored by Babson College and Baruch College, finds that 27 million working-age Americans, nearly 14%, are starting or running new businesses. And Millennials and Gen-Z are driving higher interest in entrepreneurship as 51% of the working population now believes that there are actually good opportunities to start companies. So, why haven’t you considered starting a company?

There are several reasons for you not being more entrepreneurial but none of them are valid. Start to identify what is holding you back by examining and then mitigating the reasons/excuses listed below.

Fear of failure. While starting a business could be risky, so is thinking that you will have a company(s) that will take care of you and offer you employment for 30 years. Nothing in employment is guaranteed, you have to perform and get better at whatever you do or you will be replaced. Well, if that’s the case, that sounds riskier then starting a company where the control is in your hands. Life is an adventure, working for someone else for 30 years is not.

Few resources to start a business
. People like to believe have little to no money to start a business. They also do not know where to find the capital they need to start a business. So even if they want to start a business, the lack of capital is a huge stumbling block for them. Well crowdfunding exists today where you can raise money through pre-sales of the product or even get investors. And other cloud based services like Shopify for e-commerce, etc. allow you to get up and running for very little money. There has never been a better time to start a company.

Don’t know anything about entrepreneurship. You may have never been exposed to entrepreneurship so you simply don’t consider starting a business. You can change that by joining other networks of entrepreneurs or adding more entrepreneurs to your network. The more you meet and learn from these people, the more normal it will seem to start your own company. The more knowledge you acquire, the lower your risk factor.

Entrepreneurship can be stressful. Starting and managing a business can be very stressful. It typically means understanding the market, developing the right products that will address the needs of the target market, and possessing the skills needed to jumpstart and run the business. However, working in a job or career where you have different people managing you to their expectations is also stressful. Most people in life want the freedom of choice to determine the shape of their lives and what better freedom than to create your own company and be responsible to you.

You love your job.
You may actually love your current job, and there’s nothing in the world you want to do but work in your current job. You already feel that the corporate world gives you the challenging, exciting environment that you crave. There’s no reason to resign and start a business because you have already found the perfect job. Right up until the company is merged or sold and you need to start proving yourself all over again after ten years of hard work. If you love “what” you do, then you can do the same thing for yourself inside your company.

Starting a business is hard work. There are people who work 16 hour workdays, or work in two or three jobs (aside from their full time jobs). But despite the hard work and the long hours they put in, they still have barely make enough to live comfortably. They are living paycheck to paycheck. If they are already working that hard to earn a decent livable income, they think that starting a business requires double that effort, which they don’t want. Not true. It’s not about how many hours you work but the quality of those hours. And if you are going to work hard anyway in your career, might as well work for yourself. Plus, when you work on your own company and its something you love, it does not feel like work.

You fear selling. Whether you work in a service-oriented business or producing a product, being in business means selling. And, while you may not be in sales, whether you realize it or not, you have been selling your whole life. At a minimum, you have been selling you and perhaps even selling your companies products or services. At networking events, you are selling your company. When you truly care about your company and your products or services, it will feel less like selling and more like helping people.

Security of a steady paycheck
. Starting a business can seem daunting. Sometimes you’re up and sometimes you’re down. This means that there might be days of strong revenue, but also days when cash flow is extremely tight, especially during a down economy. There are people who cannot live with the downs and ups of running a business, and instead prefer the stability and security of a job and a regular paycheck. The real issue is that unless you work for the government, there is no guarantee of jobs for life. Do you wonder why so many companies are started in a recession? They are started by people who got laid off from their jobs.

Assume you will have a long and great life. And that you will work 30-40 years doing things you love. If you are going to work that long at something you love, might as well do it for yourself. The freedom and reward for building a great little company is amazing.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

How Can a CFO Help in a Time of Crisis?

how can a cfo help in a time of crisis

Written by: Bill Palmer,

The current economic uncertainty has many businesses closely evaluating their current and future staffing needs. While some positions are being cut, especially in the hospitality and travel sectors, many businesses are strategically hiring financial professionals into executive leadership positions during the downturn.

Companies that previously had tasked their CEOs with handling finance functions are now hiring dedicated CFOs (or outsourcing CFO roles to reputable third parties) to ensure they will be able to weather the new economic storm. With ambiguity over how long businesses will need to keep their offices and storefronts closed paired with unpredictability in the stock market, business owners and CEOs are feeling increased pressure to make critical strategic financial decisions for the health of their organizations.

An experienced CFO can provide multi-scenario modeling to aid in tactical decision-making, offer an unbiased financial perspective, act as a confidential sounding board for the CEO, and handle negotiations with essential parties to benefit the overall organization.

Modeling & Planning

Unlike accounting, which is fundamentally about the past, finance is focused on planning for the future.

Seasoned CFOs can use current financial indicators and their previous experience to model and plan for the various scenarios that a business may face in the coming months and years. These plans can inform critical decision-making related to spending cuts, rightsizing the labor force, and timing planned business investments. CFOs can forecast the short and long-term impacts of these decisions to better position the company in response to economic shocks.

With new federal and state business relief packages being rolled out, new employee protections being passed, and additional financing options being offered by payment processors and vendors, an experienced CFO can help navigate the myriad options available to aid businesses in this difficult time.

In this way, a CFO not only mitigates the effect of a downturn of a business proactively but can also help right the ship when the company is struggling in a sea of a difficult financial conditions. 

A consulting CFO is a neutral, independent voice in the room. Experienced CFOs typically follow the facts without pushing a personal agenda or engaging in office politics anyways, but consulting CFOs are even more likely to provide an unbiased perspective. Business owners and executive leadership teams can be reassured that a CFO consultant is acting in the best interest of the company and its stakeholders (owners, employees, and investors) rather than for job protection or other personal agendas.

Outsourcing the CFO role also provides an experienced and confidential sounding board for the CEO, which is especially important in family-owned businesses. While all business owners and CEOs feel some measure of emotional isolation, family businesses exacerbate this situation by adding personal relationship dynamics into the mix. Business leaders at family-owned companies may find themselves needing to balance family relationships and business success, especially in times of crisis. In this scenario, a CFO can provide the confidential conversational space that a CEO needs to make difficult decisions and prioritize the health of the business. Additionally, a consulting CFO can even act as a scapegoat for unpopular but necessary decisions, allowing the CEO to preserve existing internal relationships.

Third Party Negotiations

Because of their experience a CFO can also add credibility to the perceived quality of management and build bridges with capital providers to gain acceptance of forecast projections and strategic plans. The result is a company with less perceived risk and a higher perceived value, which is crucial in establishing mutually beneficial financial solutions while working with external parties.

A consulting CFO has credibility with lenders and personal relationships with banks to facilitate negotiations with these key players. The scope of a CFO’s experience will also aid in negotiating with third parties like landlords, vendors, and customers through difficult times when financing and payment options may need to be changed.

The impact of COVID-19 on latino-owned businesses

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Testimonial Lore Greenberg, Feeling Fabulous

The Top 10 Mistakes That Keep Women Entrepreneurs From Scaling to $1 Million

Written by: Julia Pimsleur

Though women own 40 percent of U.S. businesses, making 'real money' is oftentimes more the exception than the rule. Here are some things getting in our way.

Where are the million-dollar women? In 2018, just 1.7 percent of women-owned businesses generated more than $1 million in revenue, and the challenges are even greater for women of color entrepreneurs. Why is it that even though women own 40 percent of all businesses in the U.S., making "real money" is more the exception than it is the rule? What's getting in our way when it comes to business ideas that make bank?

As a scaling coach and founder of Million Dollar Women, I work with hundreds of women across the country who are scaling up, and I interviewed dozens of successful female CEOs who built multimillion-dollar businesses from scratch in my book. In my experience, here are 10 of the mistakes that tend to get in our way.

Mistake #1: Doing it all yourself

Any entrepreneur who reaches $1 million in revenue likely knows how to delegate, and they usually have one or more full-time staff members, off-site contractors, virtual assistants and/or interns. In my experience, many women tend to be hesitant about delegating, in part due to perfectionism. Even when they know they’re stretched too thin, many women avoid delegating — they're afraid the job won’t be completed correctly, they don’t want to spend the money or maybe they don't have as much relevant experience in management. As a recovering perfectionist myself, I believe that until women learn to become “delegation ninjas," it's difficult to focus on work and effectively scale ups. In the Million Dollar Women community, we call this a shift from being the do-er to being the leader. 

Mistake #2: Lack of internal systems and processes

The secret to scaling up isn't usually about doing more of what you're doing and working longer hours. (You probably already work too much.) It's about working smarter, not harder. Finding the right internal systems and processes for your finances, marketing, sales and operations is crucial. While it can seem challenging to carve out the time to get these right, having good systems helps allow for rapid growth. To reach $1 million in revenue and beyond, we need to fine-tune the “moneymaking machines” at the center of our businesses. This means having a proven strategy, a sales playbook and functioning sales funnel, the right team and software the automates much of the work. 

Mistake #3: Not busting limiting beliefs

A quote often attributed to Henry Ford says it best: “Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.” We may think we're making rational decisions all day based on facts and figures, but in reality, our subconscious tends to drive the show. Many entrepreneurs think ramping up sales is the ticket to rapid growth, but without the right mindset, many entrepreneurs lack the belief in themselves required “go big.” In my view, it’s rarely competence holding women back — instead, it's confidence and a mix of beliefs about money, whether they deserve success and the fear of the potential sacrifices involved in going big. A powerful mindset is important because it's the foundation on which you build your mansion, and it's the number-one thing the women I interviewed for Million Dollar Women underscored as critical to their success. Replacing limiting beliefs with empowering ones can make it possible to truly embrace success. 

Mistake #4: Not understanding the scalable part of your business

Being able to identify the scalable part of your business can mean the difference between hitting a plateau and the “hockey stick” growth that we all aim for. It can also help make your company attractive to investors because your company could feasibly grow X times bigger without having to hire X times as many staff members (or spending X times as much on marketing or infrastructure). It takes approaching your company with that lens of “What is scalable, and how do I productize my services so I can charge more and reach more customers?" 

Mistake #5: Not working with coaches, mentors and advisors

In some ways, women aren't taught to invest in ourselves — we're taught to put other people’s needs in front of our own. But in my view, the fastest way to scale your business is to learn from people who have been there, done that and can show you the way. Of course you can find your way to success on your own, but it could take significantly longer. And more than 50 percent of small businesses go out of business within the first five years. Having the right coach or entrepreneur program is the way to make sure you avoid the crash and burn scenario and are on track for high growth.

Mistake #6: Insufficient financial know-how

Finances tend to be the “Achilles heel” of business for many women entrepreneurs I know, and this can result in not poor financial planning or management and running out of cash. We don’t need to have finance degrees or MBAs to run our businesses, but we do need to educate ourselves in order to create a cash runway, steward our money better and effectively raise capital when necessary. 

Mistake #7: Not having a cash runway

I recall one of my advisors telling me, “You can be low on cash for a long time, but you can only run out of cash once.” Many businesses fail or start sinking simply because they run out of cash. In my research for Million Dollar Women, I learned that women are twice as likely as men to shut down their businesses because they run out of cash. I made some errors in the early days of one of my businesses that almost cost me the company, so this one really hits home. You can better avoid this issue by working with an advisor on your cash flow projections or finding a great accountant who can walk you through your numbers. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or say you don’t understand, and be sure to look at what you owe and what is owed to you on a weekly basis so you can have a healthy cash balance.

Mistake #8: Good on vision, bad on execution (and vice versa)

Every entrepreneur has a different skill set. Some are excellent when it comes to having a vision for their company but not so good at execution. Some are excellent at getting things done but lack the mindset for big-picture planning. Both are essential to your business success, so figuring out your strengths and hiring for your weaknesses (or creating an advisory council to help you) is imperative. Without good vision, how can we create one-, three- and five-year plans for our businesses? And without good execution, how can we build the systems and hire the teams that allows us to keep scaling up? Successful entrepreneurs learn to work on the business not just in the business (or during the work day) and to make strategy a priority. They learn to both “plan the dive and dive the plan” — in other words, take time for planning and make sure everyone knows their role in executing on that plan. 

Mistake #9: Improperly tracking marketing spend

One of the dangers of running out of cash (see #7) is runaway marketing spend. Between bidding on Google search terms, trying Facebook ads and other online and offline marketing, marketing is one biggest expenditures for fast-growing companies. There was a time at Little Pim where we didn’t track where our customers were coming from and didn’t know which marketing channels were performing and why. Eventually, we started keeping a closer eye on our marketing spend — that way, we were able to avoid falling into the money pit that marketing can be and begin getting excellent ROAS (Return on Ad Spend). We implemented what I call the "75/25 marketing budget rule" (part of the "moneymaking machine" we built that I referenced in #2). Figuring out which marketing channels work for you and rigorously tracking your spend is a key part of scaling up.

Mistake #10: Not investing in networking or personal growth

I snuck two mistakes into this last one. We don’t know what we don’t know, right? So the only way to learn what we don’t know is to surround ourselves with people who can help us stretch to the next level. Make time for personal and business growth, whether it’s reading business blogs and books, attending conferences, joining organizations for entrepreneurs, watching videos or finding the right coaches and mentors. I did all of these, and most of the women I've spoken to who make it to $1 million in revenue and beyond did some combination of the above. Make time for your business and personal growth, and it should pay off in spades.

If any of these resonated with you, now you know what to work on in 2020. Remember that "you can only grow your business as big as you grow yourself" — so here's to a year of exponential growth.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

Careers advice: stop telling women to talk like men – ask men to talk more like women

A therapy session illustration
A viral Twitter thread has explored an “unpopular opinion” about women in the workplace, and it makes a lot of sense.

The year is 2020, we’re all in lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and we’re using social media more than ever . As such, the internet is absolutely full of so-called “unpopular opinions” – perhaps more so than ever before.

One such “unpopular opinion” growing in popularity, however, is Dr. Charlotte Lydia Riley’s commentary on women in the workplace. And it’s one which we here at Stylist can 100% get behind, too.

“Apparently an unpopular opinion, but I don’t hate that I say ‘does that make sense?’ all the time in a professional context,” she writes, in a Twitter post which has been shared almost 20,000 times in under 24 hours.

“It lets other people into the conversation and gives them the chance to ask questions. Maybe sometimes feminised speech patterns are… good? Helpful?”

Continuing her train of thought, Riley adds: “I’m not keen on the way that all these things relate to language in a way to tell women to be more declarative, more dominant, more loud and assertive. Maybe it would be better for men to, I don’t know, listen more? Ask more questions? Leave room for doubt?”

It’s an opinion which is shared by author Ruth Whippman, who recently penned a careers advice piece for The New York Times entitled: ‘Enough leaning in. Let’s tell women to lean out.’

In the piece, Whippman further explores the idea that the assumption that assertiveness is a more valuable trait than, say, deference is itself the product of a “ubiquitous and corrosive gender hierarchy.”

“Until female norms and standards are seen as every bit as valuable and aspirational as those of men, we will never achieve equality,” she notes.

“So perhaps instead of nagging women to scramble to meet the male standard, we should instead be training men and boys to aspire to women’s cultural norms, and selling those norms to men as both default and desirable. To be more deferential. To reflect and listen and apologise where an apology is due (and if unsure, to err on the side of a superfluous sorry than an absent one). [And] to aim for modesty and humility and cooperation rather than blowhard arrogance.”

Of course, gender shouldn’t be a factor in whether or not a person can be a great leader – a person’s leadership abilities should depend on their individual strengths and personality traits.

However, there’s no denying that women have been repeatedly told to embrace those traits which are still traditionally viewed as being more “masculine”: strength, courage, independence, and assertiveness. However, research has repeatedly shown us that those traditionally “feminine” traits (empathy, sensitivity, caring, and compassion) should be nurtured by all genders, as they lay the groundwork for better leaders.

Indeed, a 2017 study looking into personality and leadership identified the key characteristics of effective leaders (emotional stability, openness, sociability, methodicalness, and good communication skills) and found that women score higher than men in four of the five traits – thus concluding that women “are better suited for leadership than their male colleagues when it comes to clarity, innovation, support and targeted meticulousness.

The research, led by professors Øyvind L. Martinsen and Lars Glasø from the BI Norwegian Business School, assessed nearly 3,000 managers in the private and public sectors and pinned down the following personality traits of effective leadership.
  • Ability to withstand job-related pressure and stress (leaders have a high degree of emotional stability)
  • Ability to take initiative, be clear and communicative (leaders are outgoing, with a high degree of extraversion)
  • Ability to innovate, be curious and have an ambitious vision (effective leaders have a high degree of openness to new experiences)
  • Ability to support, accommodate and include employees (effective leaders display a high degree of sociability)
  • Ability to set goals, be thorough and follow up (effective leaders are generally very methodical)

Women ranked higher in initiative and clear communication, openness and ability to innovate, sociability and supportiveness, methodical management and goal-setting. The one area the study showed men to be stronger in was dealing with work-related stress; Glasø said the findings suggested that “female leaders may falter through their stronger tendency to worry – or lower emotional stability.”

However, he pointed out that the trait did not invalidate the other areas in which women excelled, saying: “This does not negate the fact that they [women] are decidedly more suited to management positions than their male counterparts.

“If decision-makers ignore this truth, they could effectively be employing less qualified leaders and impairing productivity.”

Martinsen said: “These findings pose a legitimate question about the construction of management hierarchy and the current dispensation of women in these roles.”

This evidence seems to prove that promoting “feminine” qualities such as deference, humility, cooperation, and listening skills will be beneficial to pretty much everyone – particularly businesses.

In the words of Beyoncé Knowles-Carter: “We need to reshape our own perception of how we view ourselves. We have to step up as women and take the lead.”

Of, to put it plainly, if we can disregard outdated stereotypes, learn from ourselves and from those around us, then we’ve got this.

Images: Getty

Sunday, April 12, 2020

6 effective ways to build a sustainable business

Written by: Samiksha Jain Former Staff,

Vanitha Narayanan is the Managing Director of IBM India Private Limited. While addressing the gathering at TiEcon Delhi 2015: Balancing the Act held on 16th - 17th October, Narayanan spoke about how startups can build sustainable businesses in future.

Most businesses don’t possess a deeper understanding about sustainability. From a broader perspective, a sustainable company is one whose purpose and actions are equally grounded in financial, environmental and social concerns. But unfortunately, the road to sustainability for most businesses is not easy. Hence, below listed six ways will enable business leaders shape a more sustainable future for the company as well as their community.

1. Building your business on belief

One can change everything about your business other than your core beliefs. Building business on your beliefs is about value creation. Your business might be depending on what your beliefs are. If your beliefs are little specific, localise your business or if they are more time bound, then you must go back and revisit the business mission. But it has to be consistent with what you as a company are going to do to drive value.

2. Standing still and embracing change

When you change and act fast, you can be the biggest, boldest and brightest unicorn, but if you remain still and don’t change and adapt to the situation, then you are as close to extinction as you can.

For instance – In the 80s, IBM got as close to extinction. In fact, we were featured on the Forbes and Fortune cover along with Dinosaurs. So the idea is there’s no standing still every day. I may have a great idea which works, but it doesn’t matter how big is the idea until you actually find ways to take it to the market quickly.

3. Focus on creating value proposition

It’s not that great people don’t exist; it’s not that the technology built was not the greatest technology, but it’s about figuring your go-to-market strategy that drives value, in terms of what the client is looking for to his/her problems. So if you don’t get the timing right and if you lose touch with the value preposition, then you can get completely lost.

Don’t ever lose sight of the fact that in the end of the day the business purpose is to drive value for your customers. Focus on creating high value, high capabilities useful for people. This doesn’t mean that you need to be an expert at everything; it’s about creating value on the top end with the existing resources.

4. Growth and comfort don’t co-exist

We are not longer in 50s, 60s, and 70s era. Things are changing in the blink of an eye. IBM had gone through very uncomfortable times, and frankly speaking, it still continues to be uncomfortable. It’s no secret that our industry is going through the biggest shift ever. But it’s not just the technology industry, the shift in the technology industry are creating subsequent shifts in every industry.

For Instance – If you are a banker, your new competitors are completely different. If you are in retail, now everybody is a retailer. Similarly, if you have been in the mobile business, then you can see that it’s no longer an industry; it’s a platform, it’s a capability. So, IBM is completely changing the Payments, Retail, Banking, and Mobile industry since they all are becoming capabilities on cloud for everyone to leverage. Businesses should also focus on delivering value in innovative ways for their customers.

5. Focus on excelling in an area

It’s no longer about one company delivering value to every client at every place; it’s about being a part of an ecosystem. If you are not part of the ecosystem, then you are limiting yourself. You might have a successful start, but eventually it starts becoming difficult. Further in the bigger ecosystem, you are going to become a part of many ecosystems. In some, you might be a significant player and in others, you might be a small player. But in the end, it’s all about the contributions you are making in each of those ecosystems. So don’t try to be a big player in every ecosystem, rather look at how things work to drive the incremental value.

6. Focus on constant reinvention

When you are part of a company/single entity, then it’s all about constantly re-inventing what you do, it’s about reimaging how you do it and at the same time retaining a core belief system because you want your employees, your clients, and your partners to work with you and for you.

Friday, April 10, 2020

The Number of Latinx-Run Startups Is Rocketing. Their Funding Is Not. Here's Why That's a Big Problem

Written by: By Guadalupe Gonzalez Staff reporter, Inc

Unless we solve the "scaling gap," we're missing out on the opportunity to grow employment and GDP.

Latinx entrepreneurs have been starting companies at a record clip. From 2009 to 2019, a 34 percent increase in startups by these founders has made them the fastest-growing startup demographic, by a long shot. The number of startups by white entrepreneurs, by comparison, has decreased 6 percent.

So it would be reasonable to believe that Latinx employers--who are concentrated in growth industries such as transportation, construction, and leisure and hospitality--would also be enjoying funding and sales growth in the same proportion. But they aren't, and that's both a mystery and a shame. Only 3 percent of these founders have reached the $1 million mark in annual sales, according to the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative (SLEI), part of the Graduate School of Business. That's just a third of the numbers for the non-Latinx-owned businesses, an extraordinary gap.

The data on funding is equally skewed. Although Latinx entrepreneurs apply for loans at the same rates as their peers, only a quarter receive the full amount they're asking for, compared with half of white business owners. Maybe that's the reason that some six in 10 Latinx entrepreneurs who wanted a loan didn't apply. Some of them simply assumed it would be denied, says Marlene Orozco, lead research analyst at SLEI. The difference in funding that these founders and white entrepreneurs receive "is what we refer to as the 'scale-up' or 'opportunity' gap," she says.

In January, SLEI reported that even when Latinx business owners get financing, it's under terms that are either risky or costly. For example, 47 percent of those who apply for financing get loans that are factored, which basically involves selling their accounts receivables to a lender at a discount. This means they never see the full amount of the revenue they generate.


34 percent
Increase in the number of businesses started by Latinx entrepreneurs from mid-2009 to 2019.

-6 percent
Decrease in the number of businesses started by white founders during the same period.

The scaling and opportunity gap isn't just a problem for one demographic; it causes cascading issues across the economy. How? Latinx companies now employ more than three million people and contribute nearly $500 billion in annual revenue to the economy, according to research by Inc. data scientist Arnobio Morelix in conjunction with SLEI. If these employers grew at the same rate as their white counterparts, Morelix reports, they would contribute a million additional jobs and another $410 billion in revenue annually. That's roughly 1.9 percent of U.S. GDP.

It naturally raises the question of why these founders can't get funded at the same rates as others. Peter Maldonado, the son of a Colombian immigrant who co-founded the dried meat brand Chomps in 2012, is an example of how this opportunity gap retards growth. When Maldonado needed $1.1 million to grow Chomps substantially in 2016, no bank would fund him.

Maldonado instead raised two short-term debt rounds from friends and family, and grew Chomps to more than $10 million in sales by 2017. The staff has grown from one full-time employee--Maldonado--to 18 today, and annual sales are now more than $30 million. But it took Maldonado more than five years to be able to afford a team and an office.

You could argue that Maldonado is a model of the perseverance that marks all entrepreneurs, but that misses the point. He's actually lucky, statistically speaking, in that roughly half of all new businesses fail within five years. His could have been one of them. Seeing the problem, some banks have now begun earmarking funds for outreach to founders like Maldonado.

There's one other gap that Latinx owners need to solve: awareness. They often don't know about resources meant to help them. Becoming a certified minority business owner, for instance, allows them access to government contracts. But the process requires lots of documentation that Latinx business owners may not have readily available. Likewise, businesses located in opportunity zones--which were created to push development in low-income areas--have higher-than-average growth rates. Though 14 percent of Latinx-owned businesses surveyed are based in opportunity zones, fewer than a third of them even know the program exists. Oroz­co says it's critical for Latinx owners to expand their mindsets to include large organizations like governments and corporations as potential customers, given their more relationship-oriented approach to business. Likewise, she says, "it is also important for the government and corporations to reach out and shed light on the path toward procurement."

Not every company that scales succeeds. But those that do can then boost their growth rate. Conversely, being unable to borrow and scale creates an unvirtuous cycle--Latinx companies can't scale for lack of funding, making them even less likely to get funding in the future. "If Latinx businesses continue to start small and stay small because the support doesn't exist, we'll be stuck in a holding pattern," Orozco says. "There's just going to be a new wave, a turnover of folks starting businesses and stalling them--and again not moving that needle forward."

With the economy bumping along at 2.9 percent annual growth, we need everyone moving the needle forward.


Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Testimonial Valentina Marquez, Athena Cleaning Services

Soledad Tanner: Entrepreneur Recognized


Thank you University of St. Thomas (UST) for Alumni’s recognition. “I serve my clients as a CFO-on-demand,” Tanner noted. “Nothing makes me happier than showing entrepreneurs and small business owners how their numbers work and creating strategies for increasing their profit and productivity".

 In the present pandemic crisis, she is invaluable, assisting businesses in securing their share of the government rescue funds for keeping employees through the economic downturn”. 

STC Consulting is a Business & Financial Management Consulting firm that helps improve the profit & productivity of businesses. Services are CFO on demand for Corporations, Financial Management, Business Consulting and Financial Training for Business Owners and Startup Boost for Startups.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Go Ahead and Start a Business — But Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Written by: Dorie Clark

Many professionals dream about becoming their own boss — a full 62% of Americans, according to one survey. They often envision the classic image of entrepreneurship: triumphantly giving one’s notice, and then pounding the pavement to hunt for clients. But that “all or nothing” strategy is needlessly high risk and, almost always, is the wrong path forward. Instead, the correct answer to “Should I become an entrepreneur?” is two-fold: Go ahead and start your business. But don’t quit your day job.

Of course, there are some basic challenges to overcome — making time for a side hustle, and ensuring that your new venture doesn’t violate company policy. You should double check the rules, but most often, if you’re operating a different type of business — say, freelance writing when you work for an investment bank — there won’t be any perceived conflicts.

But once you get started, the rewards of building your own business, while being fully employed, are substantial. Here are five reasons to simultaneously pursue both and ways they can enhance one another.

“Failure” can benefit your career.

When you’re making a binary choice about entrepreneurship — “Should I quit my job to start my own business?” — the financial consequences of failure can be devastating. (The mortgage must be paid, regardless.) But when you have the safety net of income from your job, you can treat entrepreneurship as a learning journey: Even if the venture fails, you’ve still gained valuable skills that can enhance your career.

That was the case for Bozi Dar, a pharmaceutical executive I profiled in Entrepreneurial You. His first entrepreneurial idea — an app to help users change their moods — failed miserably. But he became smarter about sales and marketing in the process, and leveraged those lessons into multiple promotions at work.

You’ll have more time to validate your business idea.

In the entrepreneurial world, the most important initial goal is to find “product-market fit” — i.e., identifying the right audience and the right offering that they will pay for. This process can take quite a while, and without other sources of income, your clock will be ticking loud and fast. But without immediate financial pressure, you can take the time to truly understand your customer and their needs, leading to a far better and more successful product.

Entrepreneur-turned-author James Altucher started a web development company on the side and kept his day job for a full 18 months, even hiring a dozen employees in the process, before he left to run it full-time. That slow buildup ensured he could maintain his salary level and financial obligations with the new venture.

You can more easily stake out a premium position in the marketplace.

When you’re dependent on your nascent business to generate revenue, you’ll often have to accept low-paying or undesirable gigs. Early in my entrepreneurial career, I accepted plenty of short-term projects for a few hundred bucks. But if money isn’t your primary object at first, you can be far more selective, over-indexing on unpaid but prestigious engagements (guest lecturing at business schools or giving TEDx talks, for instance) and avoiding low-margin work or questionable clients that could taint your brand later on.

You can fund valuable professional development for yourself.

In the early days of an entrepreneurial venture, professional development funds are in short supply: All funds go toward creating or marketing the new product. The downside, of course, is that the company leader may be unprepared for certain aspects of the job, and doesn’t have the resources to get the help they need. That’s not true when you keep your day job, however.

I first met Sher Downing when she attended a mastermind retreat I organized nearly four years ago. She was still employed as a university vice provost full-time, and used the retreat to plan out a detailed, two-year runway toward starting her own business. Buoyed by the strategic connections and choices she made during her final years in her day job, she today runs a successful education technology consulting practice.

You can enjoy your professional life much more when you’re operating in both worlds.

An entrepreneurial side hustle adds spice to what might, at times, feel like staid or repetitive activities in your day job. And while you’ll certainly want to take your business seriously, the financial security afforded by your day job helps you maintain perspective: a delay with your new prototype, or a client who doesn’t renew, may be a setback, but it’s not life and death. Working in both realms enables you to tap into the creative joy of learning and experimenting, which can often get lost — quickly — when they’re overlaid with financial exigencies.

To many, starting your own business means leaving your job and your company behind. But many of the smartest professionals recognize that you can — and quite possibly should — keep both. The combination teaches you more, and faster, than would otherwise be possible, and enables you to custom-craft a career that’s uniquely interesting and meaningful to you.