October 29, 2009
Wish you could find the perfect sale rep? Wish Granted Fairy Godmother Sarah Shaw, of Entreprenette shares some fantastic advice, links for market centers, and even a sample rep contract.
As an up and coming Startup Princess you are probably doing all the sales yourself and either love it or hate it…….I’m good at it but don’t care for it myself. Sales reps can be a favorable choice if you need to expand your marketplace and ARE terrible at selling, or just plain ol’ hate it! Unfortunately, knowledgeable and experienced reps are hard to find……and it is a total guessing game to determine if they are the right one for you. You will need to trust your gut on this one. I do highly recommend going to visit the showroom and meet them in person. You will get a better feel for them and see where your products will be displayed which is important so you feel properly serviced. Most rep groups charge a showroom fee to help cover their overhead. This can often be negotiated depending on how much they want your line. You will have to determine how you feel about paying these fees – remember everything is negotiable!
Here are some tips to finding the right person for you and your company:
1. Where are they hiding? Finding reps can be tricky as I said above, as there is not a centralized website where they are all listed. You have to search by city – Dallas, Los Angeles, Atlanta and NYC. Once you get on these sites, you just have to slog through it all or ask someone you know for a recommendation. I seriously suggest visiting the showroom and meeting the sales reps before making any rash decisions…….seriously!
2. Where else are they hiding? There are three websites I know of if you are looking for independent sales reps, sometimes referred to as road reps. These are people who work from their home and drive around to service the stores in their territory so there is no monthly overhead. I have included the website for the NY gift show as they list sales reps on their site so that is a great hidden resource.
3. What will sales reps need from you? In general they require samples and catalogs or line sheets. A road rep is going to need only a few while a showroom is going to require the entire line. Each one is different so you need to ask that question each time you speak to or interview a prospective rep. Be sure to ask if they require anything else from you like tradeshow commitments, special appearances, or co-op catalog fees etc..
4. How much commission should you expect to pay? Most accessory and gift reps are used to making 15% commission on what they sell. This is a common fee that you may be able to negotiate down to 10 or 12% if you have a very hot item. A rep is used to being paid before the 15th of the month following the sales. This gives you time to collect as much money as possible for what they sold. It is NOT a reps job to help you collect money. And never pay a sales rep on money you haven’t collect yet!
5. Will my rep make me sign a contract? YES! And you should to protect yourself as well. As much as I love a handshake, this is not the time to rely on that. I have included a pdf download of a sample contract that I have used in the past. Feel free to use any or all of it!
Have fun researching the right rep for you! Sarah Shaw offers a variety of coaching programs for women entrepreneurs and specializes in product development, marketing, sales and distribution. SIGN UP for Sarah’s awesome weekly newsletter here.
October 28, 2009
What a pleasure it’s been for me to get to know Kim Flynn, one of our newest Startup Princess Fairy Godmothers sharing wisdom and inspiration! Kim’s also in our Utah County Royal Court helping to organize our events here, love her energy and vision. Talk about a bright and talented woman- WOW. Kim just blows me away because she’s the mother of 4 and owns not just 1 business but 3 (Tutoring Connection, Fabulous Living, and Real Estate) and consults as well. How does she do it? Kim has figured out how to start companies and let them manage themselves, she’s teaching me a lot about organizing and setting up systems so you can spend more time overseeing a business and not running one. Here’s a couple of her recent posts for Startup Princess. Enjoy getting to know Kim.
Current Residence: Cedar Hills, Utah
Education: BA, English Education, BYU
Professional Background (brief, please): Taught jr. high & high school English before starting a tutoring business.
What you wanted to be when you grew up: English teacher
What you are: Business Owner, at-home mom of 4, wife to luckiest man in the world
Brief Summary of your Startup: I started tutoring out of my home, and it grew out of control! We had 5 tutors at a time set up all over my house & cars parked up & down the street. The neighbors started to complain, so we moved to an office location. After almost 10 years of business, we started Fabulous Living, a division of Tutoring Connection that provides in-home classes for women. We currently offer a Kick Start to Fitness class and a How NOT to Dress in Utah Valley class.
What inspired you? My dad is an entrepreneur extraordinaire wannabe— and he would be if he didn’t have a day job. As a kid, I grew up hearing about all the businesses he wanted to start. (One of his most recent is opening a tilapia farm).
How long have you been in business? Almost 10 years
How did you fund it? We grew the business internally—I probably spent $50 of my own money to start with my first client.
Do you have a Fairy Godmother (or Mentor)? No—but I cherish lunches out with friends who have a similar business spirit as mine.
Do you belong to any Business Organization or Networking Groups? Startup Princesses, of course! I also belong to Utah Trading Center.
Current Business Challenge? Marketing Fabulous Living in a different way than I have done for the past 10 years! I always did door-to-door marketing for Tutoring Connection, and in this economy it just isn’t cost effective.
What are you doing about it? I read Guerrilla Marketing & am going through it & implementing each marketing idea that I can do one by one. It is extremely labor intensive.
Favorite motivational quote:
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Family? 4 kids, age 9 to 9 months.
If so, how do you balance family and business? There is no such thing as “balance.” We are always searching for a magical place where work doesn’t run into family time and family time doesn’t run into work. It isn’t going to happen—we are only given 2 hands and 24 hours a day, so something has to give. A stay-at-home mother of 4 without a business doesn’t have enough time to get the laundry done, house cleaned & kids nurtured beautifully every day. Throw a business on top of that, and you are just going to have to accept that some things won’t get done. For me, the hard part is making sure the intangible duties of motherhood (looking my kids in the eye & giving them my attention) get priority over the tangibles (checking business duties off the to-do list). This is a huge challenge for me.
Favorite book? Fiction—Pride & Prejudice ; Non-fiction—Bonds that Make us Free
What do you do to relax? Read a junk (read—not a business) magazine in front of the fire
What do you want to change most about your world? I want to show women that they can give themselves permission to be more.
What are you most proud of? My marriage
What advice would you like to offer other Startup Princesses? Just do it. Don’t spend one more minute researching. Take that step into the dark, and then another . . .
Favorite Magic Wand (tool/resource)? Books in general
If you could design a tiara, what precious stones would you use? Anything but diamonds. My culturally responsible sister would not approve.
October 27, 2009
Amy Thompson of Progressive Pioneer spoke recently at the Startup Princess SLC Chapter. Here’s her amazing presentation, solid unique content about how to prepare and succeed as a blogger. This post is a treasure! Enjoy.
The first thing a would-be blogger probably wonders is, “How do I start the actual blog?” I’m going to take a step back though. I’m a firm believer in the notion that preparation and planning will always give you a better end result. So before you log onto Blogger or Typepad, I would recommend sitting down with pencil and paper and having yourself a little brainstorm session. Get all your ideas down on paper and then you can start sifting.
Some things you might want to ask yourself are:
• Why do I want to blog? List all the reasons, because this is only for you. Maybe you want a voice within the larger community, maybe you want money, maybe you have a cause you want to spread or maybe you love attention. List it all, because it’s all important.
• Ask yourself about logistics. How will you make time for a blog? Will you pay for a hosting service? Where will you get ideas to write about? Will you invite others to write on your blog?
• Ask yourself who you’re writing for. Who is your audience? How much will your readership determine how and what you write? How will you reach your audience?
• Ask yourself what you’re going to write about. Will you have regular weekly features? Are there certain topics that will be of-limits on your blog?
One of the most important questions you can ask yourself is “Where do I fit into the blogosphere?” There are a lot of blogs out there, a lot of great blogs. What do you have to contribute? As part of your preparation, do a lot of blog skimming. See what’s already out there that’s similar to what you want to do. Consider where there are holes that you can fill and where the market is oversaturated and it might be harder to get your foot in the door.
In my case, I was already writing a personal blog to keep the grandparents on opposite sides of the country in the loop. I also wrote a lot about our natural living lifestyle, but not from the perspective that I wanted to take as a woman of faith. In my time blogging I also noticed that there aren’t a whole lot of pretty blogs about urban homesteading, so I try to fill that space as best as I can too. So, spend some time getting to know your area. If anyone wants to get really advanced I can show you afterwards how to create a market map to analyze where the empty niches are. But really, all you need to do is get a feel for what’s out there and how you can fit in.
Once you’ve gotten as much as you possibly can down on paper, write a mission statement. That may seem like overkill, but trust me, it will really help focus you. Having the idea in the back of your head about what your purpose and goals are will help keep your blog coherent and make into something rather than everything. If your blog is about how to be the fiercest coupon shopper in a suburban, a post about your sister’s new cute baby is perhaps not a good fit. If your blog is a humorous glimpse into the day to day life of a stay-at-home mom then perhaps the pictures of your sister’s kid and post wondering why she always gets the cutest stuff is perfectly appropriate. Your readers will come to expect a certain style, content and voice from you, that is in fact what they are reading your blog for. And if they don’t find what they’re coming for more often than not, they may not stick around. So, write that mission statement and reread as often as is necessary to make sure your blog stays just that, your blog with your voice and your style.
I would recommend giving yourself not necessarily a schedule, but perhaps a few points to hit on weekly, or however you want to think about it. Because, trust me, coming up with fresh content every day isn’t always easy. I do a book review every Friday. I read a lot and I have have a good book or two to share. Sometimes I’ll write an additional post about my normal topics on Fridays, sometimes I don’t. But I always know I can put up that book review and at least have something. And it becomes something that my readers know they can look forward to as well. In addition I do a weekly interview series and a weekly giveaway. In a less structured way I also try to vary my posts and make sure I’m hitting on gardening, attachment parenting, cooking and crafts pretty regularly because I know that some readers love the gardening posts and others love the sewing posts. You’ll figure out what works for you, but having some sort of structure helps you not to all of a sudden panic when you have one of those, “Oh my word, just how much can one person say about the joys of thrift store hunting?!”
I’m not going to talk about the technical aspects of starting a blog, they’re all pretty user friendly and pretty much everyone has a friendly neighborhood computer geek to call in a pinch. I use Typepad and pay a small monthly fee, which in my opinion is totally worth it. And their tech support is great, which is crucial for me.
Instead, let’s talk a little about blog design and brand identity. We’ll just call it brand identity because you are, in a sense, creating a brand, the brand of you. And you want that brand to be recognizable and consistent. So, when you’re placing art, text, a banner, advertisements, photos, links etc. on your blog, make sure they fit ideologically as well as aesthetically. I’m lucky to have my own live-in illustrator. My husband illustrates a new header for me each season and designed the Progressive Pioneer button. There are also a few t-shirts and other top-secret projects in the works.
When I accept an advertiser it’s always only if they meet certain criteria that fall within the values of my site. It wouldn’t make sense for me to advertise formula when I’m always posting about the virtues of breastfeeding, for example. And don’t think that would escape the watchful eyes of the readers either, they would be all over it if I gave a spot to an advertiser that didn’t fit within the identity of Progressive Pioneer.
A good way to keep the disparate elements of your blog cohesive is to simply pick a color that is your signature color. You can change the color that links and titles appear on your blog. So, if you have a pink-heavy header, why not make your links, post titles, blog rolls etc. the same shade of pink? It will give it a cleaner, more professional, more recognizable look.
Another thing that helps solidify your identity is a link list, or blog roll. To help your readers, especially in the early days, understand just who you are and where you’re coming from, give them some examples of blogs, companies and people who also espouse similar ideas.
You may want to come up with a tagline or a phrase or some such thing that gets repeated on your blog and becomes associated with you. On your all-pink product testing blog perhaps products get ratings with the highest compliment being that it’s “pinkeriffic!” Just an example! A real life example is that we often refer to my husband on the blog as “The Beard.” He occasionally guest posts and I always preface the title with that nickname. It’s just a simple thing that provides a little continuity.
So, now you’ve got this lovely blog with a mission statement to give it some structure, your brand identity is solid and recognizable, you know exactly what witty things you’re going to be writing Monday through Friday. But how do you let people know about this little internet gem? How do you get the word out? Luckily there are plenty of ways!
Jot these down: facebook, stumbleupon, kirtsy, HARO, twitter, linkedin, blogher, and mommy blogs. That last one is just in general, not one specific place. But it’s probably the most important one. I’ll let you guys google the others and figure how they work and how to use them. It’s worth getting to know the various social media outlets; almost on a daily basis I get emails from people saying they found my blog via a friend who’s a fan on facebook or on their friend’s blogroll and I get steady traffic from stumbleupon. But the best traffic sources are from blogs similar to mine.
The first step in getting your blog out there is to be a good blog reader yourself. Comment regularly on blogs with reader demographics similar to yours. In other words, don’t waste your time commenting on auto repair blogs if your blog is about finding the ultimate cupcake recipe. But do comment on baking blogs, party blogs, and similarly-themed sites.
It’s generally considered poor taste to include a link back to your site within your comment. Though you might mention that you just posted a great recipe on your site. Eventually you might want to email people with similar blogs and let them know if you’ve added them to your blogroll. People will do link swaps, but I’m not into it; it seems disingenuous. But if people genuinely like your blog, they will link back to it. Start building connections. Maybe on that cupcake blog you can feature a recipe froma new chef each week. They will quite likely be flattered and mention the mention on their blog. Maybe award a bakery a “goody of the week” award and if the bakery has a shop, they will likely mention the accolade on their blog.
Now that you’re out making all sorts of e-connections, it would be a good time for a little safety check. I follow two basic rules. I don’t post any identifying information that might lead someone to discover my address. And I never post about vacations or times that I’m away from the house when I’m actually away. So, the cat is out of the bag; if you read about me being at the cabin on my blog, I was actually there last week. I got smart about that after reading about a family who was tweeting about their long car ride home while burglars were emptying their house feeling relaxed knowing the owners wouldn’t be home for X hours. In terms of how personal to be, that’s an individual decision I’d say. Take the blog, Dooce, for example. Hers is probably one of the most read blogs and she gets way personal, like icky pregnancy details. I prefer my blog a little cleaner, but clearly her readers love the nitty-gritty, up close and personal aspect of her blog. So, figure out where you want to draw the line and set some guidelines for yourself.
I worked for a company called Ziba Design and they used to say, “80% of new products fail, the remaining 20% have soul.” I’d wager that the failure rate is even higher for blogs. So, how do you write a blog with soul? I think the trick is in writing about something you’re passionate about and remaining authentic. If you try to ride whatever wave is surfing through the blogosphere you won’t develop a loyal following and you won’t develop your own unique voice either. There will be people with whom your original thoughts resonate. So, create your blog, share your thoughts, find those people and keep cultivating that relationship, because it is a relationship. You will come to know certain readers and regular commenters and you will look forward to their feedback as much as they look forward to your posts.
October 24, 2009
You’ve been there before…”burned out”. Loved ones might warn, “you shouldn’t do so much” or “you should get to bed earlier”, etc. yet no matter what people say, you keep moving forward Read more
October 19, 2009
Startup Princess’ blog grandpa is Phil Windley. How do I figure? Paul Allen inspired me, who was inspired by Phil. A bit of random trivia for you. Fun to reflect now three years later how a lunch discussion on blogging blessed my life and moved me forward on this path of Startup Princess. Recently BusinessQ Magazine featured myself/Startup Princess, Paul, Phil, Emily Cushing, and Peter Abilla in their Cover Story on Top Utah Business Bloggers, “All Keyed Up”. You can read our stories here pg 22-25.
October 19, 2009
The Startup Princess Image & Media Academy originally scheduled as a 3 day event is now updated to be a 2 day with agenda modifications. The new date is November 13-14th from 1pm on Friday to 5pm on Saturday at the same original location, a beautiful 8700 sq ft Sundance Cabin in Utah. And the great news is that it will be more cost effective for Startup Princesses at just $225 per person. This price will include professional headshots by sponsor Russ Dixon Photography, Read more
October 13, 2009
The following post by Fairy Godmother Kim Flynn offers a great exercise. In my experience many of us just jump into business because we are excited about an idea and haven’t really thought about the “whys” (or the “hows”), I encourage you to take a moment to reflect your motivations and define your purpose, it’ll be time well spent. Read more
October 11, 2009
It’s amazing the life lessons that are connected to our projects. I’m not so great at giving my opinion with love, or so I’m told. Often when I share my opinion it comes off as “truth” rather than my opinion so you can imagine it’s a trait that doesn’t work well in close relationships. I’m aware of this weakness and have been seeking for ways to improve, but it wasn’t until my friend gave me her opinion with love last week that I truly got the picture. I’ll explain… Read more
October 7, 2009
So there we were at the sink at the Disneyland bathroom a week ago and I noticed the adorable mom next to me, Magdalena McClellan “One of the Kind Girls” and the cute hair clip she was wearing and I just had to ask about it. One thing led to another and we became BFF> I learned that not only was she the designer of that cute hair clip she also lived in Orange County (and formerly lived in Utah) and could attend our Startup Princess chapter there. Oh and she told me that I looked 26, so indeed she’s a very Kind Girl! I hardly wanted to separate paths but the Princesses were waiting for us to take photos with them and you hardly want to keep Belle and Ariel waiting.
Within a couple days Magdalena jumped right into Startup Princess and already attended her first meeting this week in OC. I love her enthusiasm, her vision, and of course her brand new product line already being sold at select boutiques in the Western US. Take a look! This is an inspiring Startup Princess with an exciting future ahead. I love her. You will too.
It’s my pleasure to introduce you to Startup Princess Magdalena!
Name: Magdalena McClellan
Hometown: Gorzow, Poland
Current Residence (City, State): Salt Lake City, Utah/ Irvine, CA
Education: Westminster College (Developmental Psychology)
Professional Background: You name it – from teaching dance for years to getting into law school. Funny where our roads finally lead us!
What you wanted to be when you grew up: a professional ballet dancer
What you are: a wife and a mother to one funny little girl
Brief Summary of your Start Up: It started as a fashion blog centered around kindness, and it turned into a business! I love bargains, pretty things and hand made accessories. There is so much out there right now, but not always at the right price. I decided it was time to change that one cute headband at a time.
Company Website? thankyouforyourkindness.blogspot.com
What inspired you? All the other hip/crafty/busy moms that I would meet
on a weekly basis – they were doing it – why not me? And the fact that I craved ownership and personal income.
How long have you been in business? since March of 2009
How did you fund it? It was rather inexpensive at first, now the business just funds itself.
Do you have a Fairy Godmother (or Mentor)? I do now – Startup Princess is fabulous!
Do you belong to any Business Organization or Networking Groups? I’ve just made acquaintances and friends through blogger, and as of late have discovered Startup Princess.
Current Business Challenge? Diving into something else besides hair accessories in order to expand and stay ahead of trends.
What are you doing about it? Currently, there is an adorable wrap dress in the works, as well as a few other ‘secret somethings’ you’ll see early next year.
Favorite motivational quote: “Your outlook on life is a direct reflection of how much you like yourself.” Those words are the swift kick in the pants that I need sometimes.
Family? You bet! I’ve been married six years to a total babe and we have one hilarious two-year-old together.
If so, how do you balance family and business? We stick to a daily schedule, that way there is time for work, play and everything in between. It also helps me to prioritize rather than procrastinate.
Favorite book? The Road Less Traveled, by M. Scott Peck
What do you do to relax? I need physical activity to have mental clarity – Yoga or Pilates class usually does the trick.
What do you want to change most about your world? I wish women were more kind to one another. Too many times we are conditioned to compete rather than aid in the success of fellow ladies. This is what I love about Startup Princess, it’s a definite start to solving this type of issue.
What are you most proud of? Not only coming from another country, but from complete poverty to the US. We had nothing when I was five years old and my family immigrated to a place where our dreams could really come true. And they did!
What advice would you like to offer other Startup Princesses?
Write down ideas, create vision boards, and surround yourself with reminders of what you truly want in life and business. This triggers the subconscious. If you do this whole-heartedly, it will come to fruition.
Favorite Magic Wand (tool/resource)? My fancy Nikon camera, it helps me capture the world through my eyes.
If you could design a tiara, what precious stones would you use? Diamonds – BIG ones!
October 7, 2009