Breaking Down Your Business | Small Business | Business Owners | Entrepreneurship | Leadership (business)

What’s In This Episode:

How long is a long break? In some industries, Brad says, you can take a really long time off. College professors can take sabbaticals. Some professionals can take up to three months! What does Jill think of that? Genius idea. It never hurts to give your brain a break. It's helpful every time. Could Brad take a year off? Well, he could, but he wouldn't have any income. But he's trying to incorporate some sort of sabbatical into his routine. He's going to try it and report back. Good luck, Brad!

"As somebody who's taken time off, you'd have to plan in advance. But there's a way to manage it so that it's doable." - Jill

Ruben Ocampo of Conic, an innovation consultancy, calls into the show to ask how to diversify his client base. For years, he's worked with Fortune 500 companies, but now he's looking to also work with smaller companies and non-profit organizations. He's worked really hard to market his brand, and it's finally starting to pay off. But where does he take the business from here?

Brad wonders, "Well, if you were one of your clients, what would you tell them to do?" Ruben has a clear vision of where he wants to go, but he's trying to work out the path to get there. He knows that he doesn't have to focus on the little things in business (he has an employee to whom he can hand off tasks!). Ultimately, he wants to establish himself as a thought leader.

The good news is that his business is doing well, so Brad suggests that if he wants to take on a business partner, he has to be careful because partnerships can be tricky. If he wants to become part of a larger company, the advantage is that he can get access to larger clients, but he needs to get to know the culture first. Find a place that will value his creativity. However, he might get the largest traction for his ultimate goal by just simply reaching out and saying that he's available for speaking and writing opportunities, and looking for possible projects to collaborate on.

"Saying no to this one is saying yes to the next one that might work." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 ways to plan for a long break:

  • Hire a virtual assistant or a part-timer to work remotely for you. Look at UpWork or IVAA or Founding Moms and keep things running!
  • Collaborate with someone in your field. Have them take the lead and cover for each other in periods of absence.
  • Utilize technology: have your technology take care of technology for you. Use Zapier or Drift. Auto-responders are magical.
  • Have a team? Teach them to handle things!
  • And the last thing? It's so easy...

Want to know what it is? Listen in

Guest:

  • Ruben Ocampo is the founder of Conic Group, a strategic innovation consultancy, established in 2011. He works with clients in different industries, from Fortune 500 companies to nonprofits and government agencies. He uses a unique approach to engage clients in meaningful conversations with their customers, workforce, and other key stakeholders in the value chain. This approach allows teams to create and deliver intuitive, empowering, innovative and delightful experiences that translate into healthier business results. Find him on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_236.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

Did you ever work with a workaholic? Jill did, and it was not fun. Brad considers himself to be a recovering workaholic, and now operates under the assumption that if you don't answer e-mails right away, the world won't end.

Michael Asare of FeeBelly calls in for help on how to convert the free users of his app to paid users. Jill suggests that Michael is giving too many keywords away on the free version, and so he can cut back on that and offer more information on the paid version. Brad says that for a B2C user who doesn't need to go through pages of loan documents every month, it may be worth it to have a one-time price for one document instead of someone who doesn't want to pay for a monthly subscription.

"Get some rest so that you can be more creative." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 ways taking time off makes you a better business owner:

  • You might be less of a work-addict. Addicts don't make good leaders.
  • Getting away gives you perspective and realize what's actually important.
  • Taking breaks makes you more creative!
  • When you take time off, you have to delegate.
  • And then there's that thing that's pretty irritating to those around you...

 

Guest:

  • Michael Asare is the founder of FeeBelly, an app that allows you to scan documents for the hidden fees that are often in the small print. It is available for download from the App Store.
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_235.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

Jill and Brad are continuing their series on taking time off. They discuss Thanksgiving, and neither believes that visiting family counts as a vacation. They don't think the occasion is bad, but Brad can't really talk about business while he's around his family, and Jill has to explain to hers why she doesn't eat turkey. She says that, as a vegan, sides are where it's at anyway. And she's making a supposedly delicious vegan pumpkin cheesecake, so maybe desserts are a close runner-up.

"Why are we encouraging working on a Saturday? Why isn't it Small Business Wednesday?" - Jill

They then talk about Small Business Saturday, which was created by American Express to get more people to shop local ... and therefore, get more of a percentage from the transaction. Jill has to admit that the marketing is clever. After all, it's not every day small business owners get to celebrate themselves. Brad's conflicted because it does get people to shop local, but it was created in self-interest which benefits a big corporation.

"Boredom does good things for your brain." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 ways taking time off makes you a better person:

  • Your stress levels go waaaaay down and you're less anxious about your business.
  • It allows you to step back, see the big picture, and see what's working (or not).
  • Travel allows you to learn things about other cultures and see how they run their businesses.
  • You start to realize that social media is maybe not the best habit to have. (By the way, check out this TED talk about Facebook being a dystopia)
  • And then everyone will do THIS...

Sponsor:

  • This episode is sponsored by Hubba, the largest network of brands, buyers, distributors, and influencers. They take all the activities that happen at a trade show and put it online. Brands get increased distribution; buyers find the right products for their stores. Join for free today and make connections that grow your business.
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_234.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

Jill and Brad are still talking about taking time off, 'cause business owners NEED it. They ponder the longest they went without taking a vacation. For Jill, her longest span was 2 years. Brad went 4 years without taking a bonafide vacation. If it's been more than six months, please, please, please book a vacation (or a staycation, or just a break where you don't do work). You need it.

"If you start small, you might accomplish all of the things you want to do." - Jill

Amelia Forczak of Pithy Wordsmithery calls in and has two related problems. She wants to be able to help the clients who reach out, but who can't make the investment that ghostwriting a book calls for. Secondly, she needs to figure out how to make her business scalable. She's thinking of starting a course for people to write and edit books on their own, but she doesn't quite know how to begin. Jill's advice: start small. Brad says that if she coaches clients to do the work, then that serves as practice for the eventual course Amelia wants to create. Overall, though, she needs to decide what market she wants to serve.

"I hope you get rich. And when you do, send us 5%." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 excuses for not taking time off:

  • There's too much to do. But remember, you're the boss. Set deadlines for things in the future, and go.
  • Time is money, and there's never enough. Starting a business costs money, we get it. Stay with a friend, and take a break.
  • DEADLINES. Once you meet your deadline, THEN you'll take a break. But there's always one more thing... But again, you're the boss. Go away.
  • "When I'm rich, I'll take a big vacation." You can't just wait... do it now.
  • And then there's that mentality that all business owners have...

Guest:

  • Amelia Forczak is the founder of Pithy Wordsmithery, which provides strategic ghostwriting, marketing, and consulting for authors and businesses. She is the ghostwriter of five published books, including two best-sellers. She has served as a content strategist or editor for a handful of other successful books. Amelia’s background in corporate marketing enables her to go beyond transcribing conversations with authors and putting commas in the right places. She partners with authors to truly understand their business, serving as a dedicated book-writing consultant.
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_233.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

Who needs a break? Jill 'n Brad are on a mission to make sure that business owners take more time off. Jill thinks that some people don't want to take time off because they don't want to miss anything (FOMO, anyone?). Others fear that the business won't survive without them. Or worse, people think that their customers will hate them if they take time for themselves. Brad also points out that it takes so much momentum to get started again once you've gone away for a little bit.

"You have to connect the dots and make sure that I know that if I'm spending money on you, you're going to improve my ROI." - Jill

Renee Epstein and Lisette Kreuzer of B-Well Wellness Events started their business three years ago and have been doing well in their primary market. They want to branch out and do more corporate events, so they ask Jill and Brad how to get more exposure. Jill suggests that they make a good 30-second video to avoid having 17 pages of e-mail testimonials in order to pitch to the right people, and follow up repeatedly. Brad says that corporate stuff always takes time to come to fruition because it needs to get onto budgets. He also points out that even if you have a contact in the business, or names of people on your lists, they may not be the right people to talk to. So you need to find a way in and then get to the person who cares. Lastly, he suggests they may want to check out wellness fairs (that's where that video would do REALLY well).

"It's like walking in a forest where you realize that you're a very small part of this large thing." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 reasons you need more time off:

  • You're getting stale in your business. You can't do this forever without taking a break.
  • You can't think outside the box without getting outside the box.
  • It's good practice to learn to let go.
  • On a basic level, it's amazing and fun and relaxing. (You're gonna love it.)
  • Oh, and then there's that thing that ALL business owners are guilty of, and should really stop...

Want to know what it is? Listen in

Guest:

  • Renee Epstein and Lisette Kreuzer began B-Well Wellness Events after realizing that teachers don't often take the time to practice self-care. They promote wellness events in schools and corporate settings in the Chicagoland area
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_232.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

What are your bad habits? For Jill, she says yes to things she doesn't need to say yes to (coffee dates can wait). Brad overschedules himself and has too many piles of papers on his desk. And while they both agree that social media is a bad habit, Jill thinks that's sort of a necessary evil for small business owners.

"I'm really good at pretending that things are going well in certain areas when they're not." - Jill

Muhga Eltigani, creator of the fresh fruit hair care line NaturAll Club, calls in to ask how to expand her product line. Customers are asking for more product and since she promotes a subscription-based service, she's wondering how to best launch new product. On top of that, her product is refrigerated which might add a logistical problem. Brad suggests she uses a line of credit to introduce new products to select customers. This way her inventory doesn't get crazy. Jill suggests pre-orders, but Muhga is worried that they might not be able to fulfill the orders within a certain timeframe. The easiest way to get money is to sell things to people who already buy from you, and you don't need to tell them a timeframe - if they want the product, they'll wait for it.

"It's okay to adjust your scope to their budget, but you can't give away the whole shebang." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 things you should do less often:

  • Stop meeting with people. Use the phone first. Or do a video conference like Pluot.
  • Give up sleep. Sleeping less is not good for you!
  • Take over your team member's work and do it for them. You're only teaching them that you'll do their work for them.
  • Start new things. It gives you an endorphin rush, but if you don't finish anything, but you get no value from it. creator of the fresh fruit hair care line NaturAll Club, calls in to ask how to expand her product line. Customers are asking for more product and since she promotes a subscription-based service, she's wondering how to best launch new product. On top of that, her product is refrigerated which might add a logistical proble
  • And so many business owners do this one thing...

Want to know what it is? Listen in

Guest:

  • Muhga Eltigani is the founder of NaturALL Club, a monthly subscription service that delivers fresh handmade hair products. Want to try it out? Listeners of the Breaking Down Your Business podcast can use code NATURALL01 to get 15% off any order.
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_231.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

What do you believe in? Jill believes in the gut-check. Brad believes in giving in any interaction - that a client or a prospect walked away with more than they came with. Both are essential to business.

"As a business gets bigger, your gut gets disconnected with what's happening in the business." - Brad

Jared Hecht, superstar to his 11-month-old son and tech guru, calls in to talk about his new startup, Fundera. He's really proud of what Fundera has accomplished, and how they're helping people all across the country with small-business pitfalls. But he has a problem with hiring. Since the company is located in NYC, it's hard to compete dollar-for-dollar with the bigger-name companies out there (Facebook, Google, the list goes on). They want the best talent. Brad and Jill suggest that he look at the areas he can compete: the mission, the autonomy involved in changing people's lives - which you might not be getting at a major company -  and the mindset of employees when it comes to workplace culture and recognition.

"If you're able to create a fun story that your PR team will go out and tell, people will gravitate toward applying to you." - Jill

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 things you should never quit doing:

  • Clarifying your pitch for your business.
  • Asking for feedback. Ask differently. Ask other people. JUST ASK.
  • Getting people to subscribe to your mailing list. These people, essentially, help pay your bills. Get on it.
  • RAISING YOUR PRICES. If you're not raising your prices, you're not honing your pitch. Such synergy!
  • Oh, and then there's that thing that Jill refuses to do.

Guest:

  • Jared Hecht is the CEO of Fundera, a company that is transforming the world of business finance by replacing old school loan brokers with a smart and intuitive online shopping experience. Prior to founding Fundera, Hecht created GroupMe, which was eventually sold to Microsoft. 
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_230.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

Does practice make perfect? Brad seems to think so. Not only because we practice, but because the benefit increases the more we do something. Jill agrees, especially when it comes to business: the operations and managerial tasks get easier, as well as figuring out how to pitch properly so that you get a response! In fact, that might be the difference between a bad entrepreneur and a good one.

"Good entrepreneurs pay attention and aren't mindlessly doing the same thing over and over again." - Jill

Author and teacher Kimberly Johnson calls into the show because she doesn't have enough time and she's not the best at delegating. Brad says that you need to make a list - who can do things for you? Then write down procedures. Furthermore, Jill says to put a timeframe on it. If you write down 5 things, pick the first item and say, "I'm handing this off in the next 12 hours." And when you hand things off, you're actually allowing people to share in your success.

"You're more likely to get referrals the fifth time you ask than the first time you ask." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 things that are better the more frequently you do them:

E-mail marketing. The more frequently you e-mail, the more people respond.
Asking for referrals.
Communication with employees. You need to communicate more than you think is necessary.
Saying no. Do one thing, and do it well.
Oh, and then there's that one thing that business owners forget to do...
Want to know what it is? Listen in!»

Listener question:

Will asks, "Do you have any tips for taking a break from your business due to moving?" Think about your clients. Will they go anywhere? You can bring on contractors to cover some things for you. Phone calls can be done from the road.

Guest:

Kimberly Johnson is the author of The Start of Something BIG:: Your Ultimate Guide to Writing a Dynamic Business Plan, now in its second edition. She founded U3I, a management and marketing consulting firm which provides business development, project management, and management/technical assistance to small, medium, and large private businesses, government agencies and not-for-profit organizations. 

Direct download: Breaking20Down20Your20Business20EP20229.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

What’s In This Episode:

Brad just wants to automate things - is that too much to ask? He loves Zapier. He wants to make things better, and optimize them, and make them run more efficiently! Over time, however, business owners need to keep in mind that your business will change, along with the perspective on your business. Jill says that the more efficient you get, the more you see where you actually need to do the work... instead of letting a computer do it for you. So there may be a thing as optimizing too much (sorry, Brad).

"Sometimes I'm working on the dashboard of my dashboard." - Brad

David Feinman calls into the show and talks about what "viral" means in the video space. To him, viral means getting the audience that they want to see the product at the right place at the right time. He's got a problem, though: His pricing. Two years into his business, he's realizing that while the quality of his product is better than his competitors, he's charging less than he should be. Jill and Brad explain that he absolutely should raise his prices because that communicates to the marketplace that you're more confident in the value that you're putting out. People want high-quality stuff, and if they want it bad enough, they'll pay for it. In fact, they suggest tripling David's current prices for his new clients.

"You need to take more time for yourself. Schedule a block a week. Center yourself and make more money that way." - Jill

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 reasons you should quit doing things that aren't working:

Do a gut-check, and put your focus elsewhere.
You could make more money (duh).
Make room to see what really matters.
Spend more time on the big picture. Or self-reflection.
Oh, and then there's that whole thing that business owners tend to spend too much time on...
Want to know what it is? Listen in!»

Oh hey there, memory lane:

As an added bonus in this episode, Rebecca Dengrove from Rebecca's Mom Leotards calls in to follow up from her podcast episode. Her terrible 1995-era website was redesigned based on Jill and Brad's advice, and consumers love it so much, she can't keep up with current demand! A better website really is magical, guys.

Guest:David Feinman is the co-founder of Viral Ideas Marketing, where they create to inspire. They believe everyone has the right to be fulfilled, they believe in shared creativity, and in the power of defining your why. His company shares this message through the creative process and through video. 

Direct download: Breaking20Down20Your20Business20EP20228.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST

What’s In This Episode:

Jill and Brad conclude their series on money and wonder aloud why talking about money is so weird. Jill remembers that she was offended the first time someone asked her what her money-making model was. She takes a much more private and personal approach to the topic because it's one that is a source of pride as well as a vulnerability for many. Brad thinks that if you just talked about pricing outright, things wouldn't be so uncomfortable.

Social entrepreneur Joanna Black calls into the show and talks about the impetus for starting her co-working space, SheWorks Collective. The times they are a'changing for Joanna's business model, due to the fact that the collaborative/co-working environment that kicked off her business two years ago is a bit outdated. She's trying to attract new members but finds that it might be difficult given her industry. Jill and Brad suggest focusing on community as well as possible work themes which might bring connection.

"Collaboration doesn't happen because you have a conference room or because you have a meeting. It happens in between meetings." - Brad

Jill and Brad then discuss the top 5 money hang ups business owners have:

  • Everything is too expensive. Instead, focus on what's valuable to the business.
  • Insecurity about the future, leading to either spend too little or too much.
  • "Everyone has more money than me!!!" This allows you to shirk responsibility about what your priorities should be.
  • "I don't want to pay any taxes." Think of taxes as a privilege. You made money this year!
  • Oh, and then there's that nit-picky thing about running a successful business...

Want to know what it is? Listen in

Guest:

  • Joanna Black is the founder of SheWorks Collective, a collaborative co-working space for female entrepreneurs. For more than 20 years, Joanna has been a leader in social responsibility, sustainability, wellness and women’s empowerment. She has consulted for some of the world’s largest companies on corporate responsibility and purpose; co-founded Hip-E Living, one of the country's first eco-lifestyle retailers; re-ignited environmental activation as managing director of Earth Day New York. Find her on Facebook.
Direct download: Breaking_Down_Your_Business_EP_227.mp3
Category:Business -- posted at: 3:00am EST