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  • 5 Tips for Business Success

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    Martha Stewart

    It takes a lot to build an empire. Take it from those who’ve done it.

    Six of the best-known women in business sat down on Wednesday for a leadership roundtable at Martha Stewart’s second annual American Made event in New York City. The event serves as a venue for successful entrepreneurs of all stripes to network and showcase their goods.

    In their discussion, cosmetics bigwig Bobbi Brown, fitness entrepreneur Tracy Anderson and several other all-star business leaders including media mogul Martha Stewart herself, shared some of the keys to their success.

    Here are five tips that anyone – male or female – should know as an entrepreneur.

    1. Be open to change.

    Whether entering a new field or facing unexpected challenges on the job, entrepreneurship requires keeping an open mind. Martha Stewart started her career on Wall Street, while Tracy Anderson was inspired by her work as a dancer. When Fern Mallis, creator of New York Fashion Week, realized back in 1991 when she was working as the Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America that there was potential for a major fashion event in New York, it led her to a big career shakeup. She recalls thinking to herself, “I think my job description just changed.” From these changes, however, the panelists were able to achieve their greatest successes.

    2. Realize friends and friends of friends can help your business.

    When Mallis was setting up the first New York Fashion Week, she found support in friends and acquaintances that helped the idea take hold. Bobbi Brown, founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, did the same. “All I did was invite some friends, some models, some editors – and I guess that’s called marketing,” says Brown about the launch of her first lipstick. The panel itself was proof that friends and friends of friends can be brought together in unexpected ways: Martha Stewart had catered another panelist’s event decades earlier, while eBay vice president Richelle Parham uses fitness entrepreneur Tracy Anderson’s workout tapes and every panelist had some experience with Bobbi Brown makeup.

    3. Be naïve…

    “The reason I’m successful is I’m the most naïve person on the planet,” says Bobbi Brown. A common thread in the panel was a willingness to venture into uncharted territory. Martha Stewart created the idea of marketing a lifestyle with few guidelines to work from. Ditto with Mallis and Fashion Week. Rachel Shechtman’s gamble founding STORY, a retail and events business, has not yet established itself as a clear success in the same way other panelists’ efforts have. However, the buzz around STORY has shown that revolutionizing retail by focusing on theme instead of a specific brand or product can pay off – especially if no one else has tried.

    4. …But know who you can trust

    While entrepreneurs need to take chances to succeed, they also need to be careful in who they take these chances with. “Have people around you that believe in you,” says Tracy Anderson, who struggled to find trustworthy and helpful business connections early in her career. Even more established entrepreneurs need to pay attention to who they hire. “I wish I had focused more on the people I was working with,” says Martha Stewart, reflecting on whether she would have make any changes in her career. “Find people as entrepreneurial as you are.”

    5. Don’t dwell on the past

    “When bad things happen, as bad as they are, you never have to do it again,” says Shechtman. All six of the panelists emphasized the importance of thinking of the future instead of dwelling on the past. Entrepreneurship can be disheartening and exhausting. For women entrepreneurs, especially those balancing pregnancy and motherhood, it can be even more so. However, “You do it, you get through it,” says Brown. “Just like anything in life, [take parenthood] one second at a time.”

     

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  • 10 Tips for a More Successful Business

    Do you want your small business to enjoy a higher profile, greater success, more engaged employees and increased profitability in 2013? For a better business in the New Year, begin by making resolutions to improve in the 10 areas below.

    Have a plan. Too often, small business owners get so caught up in day-to-day operations that they neglect long-range planning. If you have a business plan, update it to reflect your current goals. If you’ve never written a business plan, do so—it will force you to think about what you want to achieve in 2013 and beyond.

    Take action. Don’t put that business plan in a drawer and forget about it. No matter how busy you are, set aside at least one hour a week to assess your progress toward the goals you’ve set. Together with your partners and key employees, create action steps and set deadlines for accomplishing them.

    Give your website a makeover. Does your business’s website reflect what you do, or is the information outdated? Does it look current, or is it sporting a design template from 1999? Does it load easily on mobile devices so customers can access your business wherever they are? Make the necessary changes to modernize your website.

    Take charge of your finances. If you’re not already using accounting software, make 2013 the year you upgrade. A program such as QuickBooks is inexpensive, easy to learn and makes budgeting and forecasting simple.

    Plan ahead for financing. How will you finance your business growth plans for 2013? If you can’t fund growth from profits, investigate options for outside financing, whether from bank loans, private investors such as angel capital groups, or your friends and family.

    Start socializing. No matter what your industry, almost any business can benefit from social media. If you aren’t currently using social media, resolve to try at least one social network in 2013. If you are active on social media, step it up a notch by learning more about your favorite social network, posting more often or adding more videos and photos to your mix.

    Delegate. It’s tough for small business owners to give up control, but delegation is essential for business growth. Give employees more autonomy so you don’t become a bottleneck in your organization. Try to structure operations so you can focus on your strengths and delegate the rest.
    Assess your HR needs. Do your employees have the skills your business needs to grow in 2013? Whether you need to provide additional training, hire new employees or outsource to independent contractors, think about how you will fill the gaps.

    Upgrade your equipment. Whether it’s technology tools like tablets and smartphones or a new pizza oven for your restaurant, small changes can make a big difference to your bottom line. Decide what investment would have the biggest impact on your productivity and profits, and figure out a way to make it happen.

    Celebrate success. No matter how busy you are, be sure to celebrate when you, your employees and your business achieve important goals. Taking time out to recognize results will re-energize you and your team for the next challenge.

     

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  • 12 tips for business success

    What’s important to the success of small-business owners and entrepreneurs? Knowledge, skill and talent.

    However, many competitors have the same traits you do. The key to beating the competition and achieving success is mental, reflected in one’s attitude, totally controlled by the individual and requires no cash. This holds true in most human endeavors besides business — in sports, the arts and politics.

    How many times have we seen the underdog team or player win over the more talented opponent? The difference is often attitude.

    These 12 attitude attributes can put you in the right mindset for achieving entrepreneurial success.

     

    1. Have passion for your business 
    Work should be fun. Your passion will help you overcome difficult moments and persuade people to work for you and want to do business with you. Passion can’t be taught. When it wanes, as it surely will in difficult times, take some quiet time. Whether it be an hour or a week, take inventory of all the reasons you started the business and why you like being your own boss. That should renew your passion.

     

    2. Set an example of trustworthiness 
    People have confidence in trustworthy individuals and want to work for them in a culture of integrity. The same is true for customers.

     

    3. Be flexible, except with core values 
    It’s a given that your plans and strategies will change as time goes on. This flexibility for rapid change is an inherent advantage of small over large business. However, no matter the pressure for immediate profits, do not compromise on core values.

     

    4. Don’t let fear of failure hold you back 
    Failure is an opportunity to learn. All things being equal, venture capitalists would rather invest money in an individual who tried and failed founding a company than in someone who never tried.

     

    5. Make timely decisions
    It’s okay to use your intuition. Planning and thought are good. But procrastination leads to missed opportunity.

     

    6. The major company asset is you 
    Take care of yourself. Your health is more valuable than the most expensive machinery or computer software for the company. You don’t have to choose between your family or your company, play or work. Maintain your health for balance and energy, which will, in turn, enhance your mental outlook.

     

    7. Keep your ego under control 
    Don’t take profits and spend them on expensive toys to impress others. Build a war chest for unexpected needs or opportunities. This also means hearing out new ideas and suggestions no matter how crazy they sound.

     

    8. Believe
    You need to believe in yourself, in your company, and that you will be successful. This confidence is contagious with your employees, customers, stakeholders, suppliers and everyone you deal with.

     

    9. Encourage and accept criticism graciously. Admit your mistakes. 
    You need to constantly work on convincing your employees that it’s OK — even necessary —to state their honest opinions even it if conflicts with the boss’s opinion. Just stating it once or putting it in a mission statement won’t cut it for most people.

     

    10. Maintain a strong work ethic 
    Your employees will follow your lead. It will also help you beat your competition by outworking them, particularly when your product or service is very similar.

     

    11. Rebound quickly from setbacks 
    There surely will be plenty of ups and downs as you build the business. Learn from the setbacks and move on. You can’t change the past.

     

    12. Periodically get out of your comfort zone to pursue something important 
    Many times you will feel uncomfortable in implementing a needed change in technology, people, mission, competing, etc. For the company and you to grow personally, you sometimes have to step out of your comfort zone.

    Many organizational and leadership shortcomings can be overcome or mitigated with the good attitudes described above. All can be learned except passion, which comes from within. Take time out of your hectic schedule to periodically reflect on these attributes. You may be inspired to act.

     

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