Member Event: Software Tools for Efficiency & Scale

Author Published March 28, 2018
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Finance/Raising $ Power Hours with Kelly Gast

Author Published March 25, 2018
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IT Power Hours with David Strom

Author Published March 13, 2018
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Marketing Power Hours with Kate Ewing

Author Published March 31, 2018
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Legal Power Hours with Mike LaBozzetta

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Tool Kit

What to Consider When Forming a Board of Advisors

Author Aimee Dunne Published March 27, 2018
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No matter how supportive your family and friends are, they might not always be the best people to go to for the advice or skills you need to grow your business. And if you’re a solo entrepreneur you might not even realize that you’re missing out on the experiences, feedback, and skills others can bring to the table. Entrepreneurs can get stuck in an “I can do it all” mentality, but we all need outside opinions to help us grow. A great way to do this is by seeking the help of a board of advisors.

 

Cultivating a board of advisors can provide the outside perspective and counsel you need to learn, grow, and succeed.  Advisors connect you with resources and help you gather information, which will lower your risk as you’re making important decisions. They help you broaden your perspective and lend an unbiased eye to what you’re facing (which is tough for friends and family!)  An additional perk is the mental and even emotional support a board of advisors can offer.  They’ve been there and done that when it comes to entrepreneurial challenges and will understand your journey in a way that your social circle might not be able to.

 

There are formal programs that offer advisory groups for entrepreneurs, but you can also cultivate your own board of advisors based on the type of support you are seeking.  And if you realize that you must stretch your network a bit to find the experts you need, that’s never a bad thing.

 

Consider the following when building and managing your board of advisors:

 

Think about expertise. You should recruit and select advisors based on their skills and experience. To do this well, you must identify your weaknesses and know what you need.  If you find you are confused about using technology to scale your business, look for someone who has that skill set specifically.  If you’re struggling with manufacturing and distribution, seek out someone with that expertise.  Early entrepreneurs might be tempted to accept help just because it is offered.  Knowing what you need and targeting your search will allow you to bring the right people on board.

 

Ask around. The knowledge you need might not be in your immediate network.  Don’t be afraid to ask around, an ideal advisor might be one connection away.  Reaching outside your own network has the important benefit of adding diversity to your board of advisors – seek counsel from people who don’t look like you, think like you, or have the same experiences that you do.

 

Set clear expectations. Think about what you’d like your advisors to bring to the table and let them know from the get-go. Be clear about how often you’ll meet, for how long and what you’ll discuss. Setting expectations early will help everyone feel useful and productive.

 

Build trust. The best advisors should challenge you. Yes, you’ll be sharing business information with them, so confidentiality is important.  But you’ll also be asking them to speak to your business in a way that is not always be comfortable. They might offer negative feedback on a product you’ve fallen in love with.  Or, they might push you to grow faster than you thought you could. 

 

Solicit real feedback. How often have you heard “that sounds exciting, great job!” from a kind friend or family member regarding your business? Advisors are there to offer real feedback, even if it’s not always what you want to hear.  Create a situation where all feedback is welcome, and don’t bristle or act defensively when your advisors offer it.  After all, that’s what you asked them to do.

 

Maintain the relationship. Like any good relationship, proper maintenance is key! Make sure you’re meeting regularly, offering frequent updates, and showing gratitude for their help.  Some advisors will be with you for a single challenge and some for much longer.  Open communication is key for a fruitful relationship, and you are in charge of setting the tone.

 

A board of advisors can help you overcome obstacles, connect with resources, and scale your business.  They can also offer a sounding board during tough times, normalize your experiences as an entrepreneur, and help you celebrate your hard-earned successes.  And once you gather a team of advisors around you, you’ll realize that you can do it all, but are better and stronger with a solid support system.

Meet Brazen Member

Meet Brazen Member: Catherine Nkonge

Author Catherine Nkonge Published March 20, 2018
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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!

 

Catherine Nkonge is a Licensed Professional Counselor with a Masters of Education in counseling from the University of Missouri Saint Louis. Her specialization and focus is in career counseling/coaching with substantial experience in providing career development services to individuals and in workshop settings.

 

Catherine is the owner of Hazina Career Services which prides itself in providing excellent career development services to individuals in workshop and class settings for groups. Their services address: career exploration, transition, fit, dissatisfaction, uncertainty, integrating career and educational goals, the job search process, resume development, interview skills and more. HCS strives to provide insight, knowledge, skills, and tools needed to tackle your career concerns.

 

What is the inspiration behind your business?
I love and enjoy helping career professionals gain the insight, knowledge, tools and skills to address their career concerns. It is energizing and fulfilling when a client realizes they can do something about their career concern and that they are not stuck. I tell my clients, “your career concern matters, let’s do something about it.” And working together we do! Helping others find meaning and purpose in what they do is the inspiration behind my business. I love it!

 

What is your favorite book?
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss.

 

Who from history would you most like to meet and why?
Nelson Mandela. He is a true man of integrity and character. He was a great example of personal sacrifice for the greater good.

 

One skill you’d like to learn this year?
Utilizing Google classroom, Zoom, Skype and also salsa dancing.

 

What is your favorite non-work related hobby?
Gardening, walking in the park, and leisure reading.

 

What is your favorite quote?
“Commit to the Lord whatever you do and He will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3 

 

Which of your personal attributes do you think equips you the most to be an entrepreneur and why?
I am self-driven. You have to be able to push yourself to get things done because no one is coming around to make sure you get them done.

“You have to be able to push yourself to get things done because no one is coming around to make sure you get them done.”

 

 

How do you relax after a long day? 
Chilling out watching a favorite show like This is Us or Blackish

 

What do you love most about being the boss?
The creativity I am able to incorporate in developing the services I provide.

 

What is your favorite app/software that helps you with productivity?
Microsoft Word Suite.

 

What is your favorite piece of business advice?
Reading and applying marketing concepts from Book Yourself Solid (illustrated) by Michael Port.

 

What is your favorite business / startup book?
Book Yourself Solid by Michael Port.

 

What service does your company outsource?
Website design and hosting.

 

How did you hear about Brazen and why did you decide to sign up as a member?
I was part of the initial Growth Group cohort. I was just starting my business and thought the support of other women entrepreneurs would be great.

“I was just starting my business and thought the support of other women entrepreneurs would be great.”

 

 

How has being a Brazen Member impacted or changed your business?
It has provided me the opportunity to connect and network. It is empowering seeing other women work and go through similar challenges as myself. It helps me realize that I am not alone.

 

What is the #1 benefit you feel you receive as a Brazen member?
Opportunity to connect and network and exposure to resources I might not be aware of.

 

Connect with Catherine and Hazina Career Services on Facebook and Twitter, and check out their website at www.hazinacs.com

Event Recap

Be Seen Brunch: Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs of Color

Author Brazen Global Published March 13, 2018
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Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms increased by 45%, a rate 5 times the national average. 78% of these net new women owned firms are owned by women of color. Unfortunately, women of color received only 0.2% of all venture capital funding over the last five years.

 

Recently, Brazen St. Louis co-hosted the Be Seen Brunch Celebrating Women Entrepreneurs of Color along with the Hispanic Chamber, the BALSA Foundation, and DK Solutions, and with support from the JP Morgan Chase Foundation. The goal was to help historically underserved women entrepreneurs find new connections, resources, and inspiration to help them take their businesses to the next level. Because supporting female entrepreneurs means supporting all female entrepreneurs.

 

 

More than 120 attendees, including women entrepreneurs of color, decision-makers from the St. Louis investment community, and entrepreneur support organizations, participated in the Be Seen Brunch. 

 

As one attendee put it:

“Today, so many connections were made between women of varying nationalities, ethnicities, color, and creed. But most importantly, black and brown women were heard and seen.”

 

 

Following a keynote by speaker Rica Elysee, founder & CEO of BeautyLynk, attendees participated in business-first breakout sessions and roundtables with local experts. The event culminated with an elevator pitch competition, reviewed by a blue-ribbon panel of judges from the St. Louis investment community. Shayba Muhammad of Mahnal Jewelry won the competition and an award package that included a $2,500 cash prize, made possible by a generous gift from the Clark Fox Family Foundation.

 

In addition to at the event itself, our pitch finalists were seen and heard on Fox2Now TV (watch the 3 minute segment here) and on NewsRadio 1120 KMOX. 

 

 

We are energized and committed to making a meaningful difference and empowering women entrepreneurs of color in our region.  

 

To stay connected and learn about future events like the Brazen Be Seen Brunch and other events for female entrepreneurs, sign up for our newsletter (at the bottom of this page) or consider becoming a Brazen member.

 

“This was a great event. I left feeling “brazen” enough to further pursue my entrepreneurial goals and inspired by the positive energy in the room.”   

 

 

Photography Credit: Mena Darre Photography

 

Top Tips

What Would You do with an Extra Hour Each Day?

Author Brazen Global Published March 6, 2018
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Daylight Savings Time starts this weekend, which means we lose an extra hour of our day on Sunday. But what if we could all be given an extra hour in the day, every day? How would you spend the extra time?

 

We asked some busy Brazen Members what they would do with an extra hour of their day and do you know what the common thread to their responses was? None of their answers had anything to do with working yet another hour in the day! They all said the extra time would be put towards doing something for themselves or their families.

 

Maybe it’s a sign that we female entrepreneurs need to take some time for ourselves! Close those laptops, and turn off notifications. It’s time for you to relax and rejuvenate so you can wake up tomorrow ready to dominate the world.

 

Here’s what our members would do if gifted an extra hour each day:

 

“Read for pleasure.”
Cyndi Demick, Owner and President of Mamakea, Inc

 

“Prayer or quiet time in the morning before everyone else gets up in the morning. It would help me better prepare for my day.”
Susan Stewart, Owner of Perfectly Placed

 

“Read or spend time with family and friends.”
Katy Thomas, Founder of GiG{a}BiT Rocks

 

“Likely, sleep.”
Chrissy Fogerty, Owner and Designer of Fauxgerty

 

“Read Harry Potter to my kids.”
Kim Moos, Founder of Cotton Cuts

 

“Make art.”
Lindsey Obermeyer, Founder of LBO Studio

 

“Wrestle with my kids and my husband.”
Ronke Faleti, Founder of Korede

 

“Sleep.”
Mary Jo Gorman, Lead Managing Partner of Prosper Women Entrepreneurs Accelerator

 

“Yoga.”
Lindsay Austin, Founder and CEO of TapePlay

 

What would you do with an extra hour each day? Tweet us your answers @BrazenGlobal