Be Seen Brunch: Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs of Color

Author Published February 26, 2018
Share

Tool Kit

How to Successfully Pitch at a Networking Event

Author Aimee Dunne Published
Share

Bringing your business pitch to a networking event can be a daunting task. Not only do you have to make sure you are explaining your idea well, but as a female entrepreneur you may often find yourself in a room full of men and feel unsure how to “break into” a mostly male conversation circle. So how can you make the most of a networking situation? How do you ensure the person you’re talking to really listens and understands what you’re working on?

 

Knowing your pitch and setting goals for the interaction will make you more confident as you engage people. Some other tips for breaking into those all-male conversation circles (or any kind of circle for that matter) include: start the conversation at the bar or buffet table, engage with someone that is on the periphery or angled outward, or smile and dive right in! But most importantly, know what you want to contribute to the conversation and know your pitch like the back of your hand.

 

Entrepreneurs are full of ideas and exciting ways to make things happen. As a business owner, it is your job to help people focus on what you most want them to know. If overwhelmed with detail, it’s easy for someone to say “That sounds nice, good luck!” and walk away. And then you’ve missed an opportunity for support, resources or even a client. To help them understand your idea, you need to:

 

Focus on the problem you solve. Your idea must quickly resonate with your audience. Tell them what problem you’ve identified and how your idea solves it. 

 

What makes your idea better. What makes your solution better than others? Be able to clearly differentiate your product or service and describe the value you provide. People understand benefits, especially if what you offer will benefit them.

 

Be big picture. The first time you meet someone shouldn’t be when you dump all the business details on the table. Stay at a high level and don’t dig deep into the minutiae, unless the conversation heads that way.  

 

Prioritize what you need. If you’ve gone this far, have an “ask” ready.  Let people know what you’d like to learn, resources you need, or types of people you’d like to connect with.  It’s not the time to ask for money or a big introduction (that might come later), but it’s a great chance to gain information and get connected to what you need.

 

You might use a Business Model Canvas or just a bulleted list to help you focus on your most important customers or activities.  Remember, people can only remember 2-3 things, so don’t pitch more than they can handle!  Most importantly, let your competence and passion shine through.  That way, people will walk away thinking: “She knows what she’s talking about, and I want to get on board!”

Meet Brazen Member

Meet Brazen Member: Katy Thomas

Author Katy Thomas Published February 14, 2018
Share

Welcome to “Meet Brazen Member” an exclusive Brazen series featuring our Brazen Growth Group Members. We are excited to share a little bit of their professional and personal stories with you!

 

 

Katy Thomas is the founder of GiG{a}BiT Rocks, a tour planning platform for independent artists. It can be utilized for a “power weekend,” national, and even world-wide tours. GiG{a}BiT Rocks’ method focuses on connecting artists to one another. They believe that having a solid local artist in each tour-stop city is key to touring success. A local artist understands their scene and can also bring out their fans while the touring group is building their national or regional presence. Everyone returns the favor and Presto! We have a big beautiful community of musicians elevating each other to the next level.

 

What is the inspiration behind your business?
My husband and all the wonderful musicians I’ve encountered as a result of him. Indie musicians work so hard. They are writing, practicing, recording, hauling gear, planning, and also holding down full time jobs to pay the bills. I wanted to create something that would save them time, create more reliable revenue and ultimately make being a full-time musician a reality. 

 

What is your favorite quote?
“Now if you are going to win any battle you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do. The body will always give up. It is tired morning, noon, and night. But the body is never tired if the mind is not tired.”

-George S. Patton

 

Which of your personal attributes do you think equips you the most to be an entrepreneur and why?
I’m a problem solver and very self-driven

 

What is your favorite piece of business advice?
Be productive, but don’t forget to have fun.

 

Besides social media and news sites, what website do you check often?
Entrepreneur.com

 

What do you love most about being the boss?
Being creative, listening to people and figuring out solutions. 

 

What is your favorite book?
Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

 

One skill you’d like to learn this year?
Learn French

 

What small luxury do you treat yourself to?
Facials

 

How do you relax after a long day?
Glass of wine and a good book

 

What is your favorite non-work related hobby?
I love checking out new restaurants

 

Your favorite vacation spot?
North Shore, Oahu

 

Favorite non-office space to hold a meeting?
Outside on a patio when it’s nice

 

What is your favorite game?
Scattegories

 

Who inspires you?
My family

 

What is your favorite sport or physical activity?
Running or sand volleyball

 

If you had an extra hour every day, how would you use it?
Reading or spending time with family and friends

 

 

 

Connect with Brazen Member Katy and GiG{a}BiT Rocks on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and check out their website at www.gigabitrocks.com

Tool Kit

Seek Out Feedback Even When It’s Tough

Author Aimee Dunne Published February 13, 2018
Share

Even though most entrepreneurs know they should seek out the feedback of others, it often seems like most people don’t understand what you’re working on and the feedback they offer isn’t very helpful.

 

Let’s be honest: feedback can be tough.  After all, your business is your baby and it’s you that works long hours and stays up nights thinking about how to make it happen.  Why should you listen to what anyone else has to say?

 

Here’s why: They might know something you don’t, they might represent what a customer would think, they might have experience you’re not aware of, or they might be able to help with a challenge that’s been slowing you down. 

 

 

Being open to feedback can make the difference between having an idea and building a business. Along with testing the feasibility of your idea, feedback is also an important piece of the entrepreneurial puzzle. 

 

Here are a few things that might make you more comfortable with accepting feedback.

 

1. It is vital to your business. Whether you’re just starting out and doing market research, or serving thousands of customers, being open to feedback is your lifeblood.  Successful entrepreneurs pivot and make changes, often based on customer feedback. Could you imagine a large company with “No thanks, we don’t want to hear from you” on their Contact Us page?  While it might not always be comfortable accepting critique, it is impossible to grow or sustain a business without it.  You might as well start now!

 

2. It can tell you what you don’t know. You are probably right that many people don’t understand the ins and outs of your business as well as you do.  But to dismiss their feedback is to miss out on a learning opportunity that might make your business even better.  And here’s a hint: even feedback that tells you that people don’t understand your business is a helpful tool.  It shows you that you need to tell your story better!  It’s not their job to understand you, it’s your job to be understood.

 

3. It looks good. Guess what? People that seem closed off and bristle at feedback are not people you want to be around, let alone support or invest in.  No entrepreneur can do it on her own, so you will need people around you.  Supporters, employees, advisors and investors want to work with someone who is open and willing to make changes where needed.  If it seems like you know it all, why would anyone want to help?

 

4. It isn’t law. While listening to and even (gasp!) asking for feedback is a good practice, you don’t have to accept the feedback you receive. You should make an effort to consider the feedback that is offered, but perhaps knowing that you don’t have to agree with it will make it easier to take in. You might even write it down, put it away, and come back to it at a time when you’re feeling more open to suggestions.

 

5. It’s positive in the long run. You are right – accepting feedback is hard. But know that what might sting when you first receive it can be useful to your business in the long run.  In the Brazen Growth Group Program, groups of entrepreneurs gather monthly to discuss business challenges and gather perspective and advice on overcoming them.  Eva Tucker, founder of co, admits that she left last month’s meeting feeling discouraged.  She had received some difficult questions, tough love and hard advice from her Growth Group Members.  But a month later she was excited to get back together with her group and tell them how she had tackled the issue.  Sitting with the feedback and implementing some of their suggestions had made a difference in her work.  She ended up encouraged rather than deflated.

 

Being open to feedback is one of the most important traits an entrepreneur can possess.  Whether you take it or leave it, please stay open to suggestions.  Consider them carefully against your business goals and challenges, and you might find that the feedback you get can help make your business stronger.  We hope we can convince you to ASK for feedback and change your sign-off to “Do Need It!

Event Recap

New Year Financial Management for Entrepreneurs

Author Brazen St. Louis Published February 6, 2018
Share

For entrepreneurs, financial management takes on a new importance as we think about managing both our personal and business finances. How can we be most efficient? What should we watch out for?  In January, Brazen St. Louis hosted a Member Roundtable to  discuss best practices for entrepreneurs managing finances in the new year to meet financial and business goals.

 

 

Brazen St. Louis members talked with our guest experts Kristin Thompson, a Financial Advisor at Renaissance Financial, and Natalea Simmons, a Wealth Management Advisor at Merrill Lynch and had a productive conversation that covered a spectrum of financial management issues for business owners.

 

Some key highlights from the Roundtable included:

 

BUILD A TEAM YOU CAN TRUST

First things first, who is your accountant? Who is your financial adviser? Who is your lawyer?  Do you trust and like them?  Do they understand you and what you need? If your accountant is talking over you, for example, it’s time to find someone else. Make sure that you trust everyone on your professional services team. 

 

FIND OUT HOW THE NEW FEDERAL TAX LAW AFFECTS YOU

There are a lot of questions these days about the new tax law and how it will affect businesses.  There are still more regulations to be written as the federal government implements the new tax law, but it’s still a good time to find out how the law may affect you and your business.  This may include reviewing how your business is structured.

 

THINK ABOUT THESE QUESTIONS BEFORE SETTING UP A 401K

There are a lot of questions as it relates to if/when you should set up a 401K or other retirement option for your company – what are the goals? To benefit you, or the employees?  Do you plan to pay the cost? How much are you trying to put away?  What kind of business do you have? How you are organized can affect your options and how you would set something up.  Meet with your advisor to talk through these questions and give you real options based on your business.

 

CHECK OUT THESE TIPS FOR STAYING ORGANIZED

How to people keep themselves organized on a monthly basis?  Various tools/tips included:  

-Keep business and personal accounts separate.

-Use Quickbooks – connect to your business bank account

-Use Paper ledgers, if that helps keep you organized.

-Have both a corporate credit card and personal credit card. Charge everything that is business-related to your corporate care and pull credit card receipts.  

-Keep track of you expenses by using apps, like mileIQ (for tracking mileage)

-Use PayPal, Square, or similar platforms that also allow you to send and keep track of invoices.

 

AVOID THESE COMMON MISTAKES
Natalea and Kristin both shared some common financial management mistakes they see from entrepreneurs, which included:

-Not having separate business and personal accounts.

-Not having advisors they trust.

-Failing to build a budget and/or not actually sticking to the budget they’ve made.

-Selling process: Not thinking about exit strategies in advance and not valuing company effectively.

 

Don’t forget that all our events are open to members. Login to your Brazen Dashboard to check out and register for future events near you!