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Growing as a Couple and a Startup

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Contributed by Lionel Felix, founder of Felix Media Solutions and a member of EO Austin. 

My wife and I both work full-time in our commercial audio-video (AV) company and it’s been very rewarding for our relationship as well as a strategic benefit. Our company, Felix Media Solutions, landed a spot on the 2019 Inc. 5000 list, but getting there came with many, many landmines that could have blown up the business—as well as our relationship.

I started the company in 2015 as a side-hustle with my old friend Mike Watts. We both had full-time IT jobs which paid well, but I wanted to save for a house and he wanted to bring home more for his family. When we found ourselves working through many of our weekends, our vacation days and (ahem) sick days from our main jobs, we both jumped in completely and cut the tethers. Our IT contacts helped us drive sales of video conferencing systems to our IT friends.

About the same time, I started dating Lindsey Rima (pictured at left). She managed the co-working space I was working in. She found what we did interesting and liked the idea of working with technology and making things work. She has BS in Biomedical Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology and she had worked as a product expert at the technology firm Zeiss. She soon donned a hard hat, filled a Husky bag with cable termination tools and started moonlighting on the field team terminating CAT5/6 cables, balanced audio cables and showing the guys how wire-management was supposed to look.

While the business grew quickly, she learned quickly and went into systems programming where she learned how to design and program complex automation systems from Extron, Biamp and RTI. We worked side-by-side and she moved full-time into system bidding, design, and programming. Within a year she had made herself integral to the field team as well as the sales team where she was bidding $250K whole courthouses, 100,000 square feet offices and getting us projects that were bid exactingly and profitably. I was relieved by not having to do all the bidding and programming. I was able to focus on business growth, business development, hiring and sales.

Growing Pains

By late 2017 it was clear there was a problem with our bookkeeping and accounts receivable (AR) was so backlogged we nearly ran out of cash, just in time for our bookkeeper to quit without notice. We had payroll in a few days, hundreds of thousands of dollars in AR getting moldy and not enough in the bank. I’m lucky to know people who can float me an entire payroll run while I get my house in order. Lindsey—who, at the time, was my girlfriend, programmer and designer—said, “I will take over the finance piece, you go sell and run the shop. I’ll handle this side of things.” And she just ran with it. She said, “I got this.”

With us working on different parts of the business and having ownership of our pieces, we didn’t step on each other’s toes. While I am CEO, I knew that she had total ownership of what she had on her plate so I never needed to “manage” her. That autonomy, respect and trust let us work on the things we knew we needed to get done. Our goals were aligned which meant we knew what needed to get done.

Instead of all of this coming from an employee, it was from the woman who I also went out to dinner with and was involved with. Our conversations often moved from things we cared about in our personal life to business strategy and hiring and finances. While work romances create many conversations about work and a relationship between two working people features work as a common topic, being at the helm together created a very strong bond between us.

Within three months of Lindsey taking on the organization’s finances, our AR went from an average age of 71 days to 21 days, our line of credit was at zero, our credit cards were at zero and we had two months of payroll in the bank. Lindsey had recently attended the EO Accelerator Cash Day where she learned about profit first. She worked with our new outside-finance person, Chelle Martinez of Tax Trailer, and we implemented the profit-first model—taking every dollar that comes in and putting it into discrete accounts, starting with profit, then taxes, operational expenditures, work in progress, and a vault account which became our internal line of credit to smooth out the bumps. (We are a project-based company and money comes in unevenly.)

Solutions Without Conflict

Over time we have been able to keep work discussions at home to a dull roar, but we love what we do. Working together taught us to have hard conversations because we were focused on the outcome and the future. That alone helped us a great deal.

Learning how to have hard conversations without conflict, just problem solving, was the most important thing we were able to solidify between us. We were more focused on positive, aligned outcomes than anything else. We learned to take nothing personally, which helped us move quickly to solve issues. We learned to grow and thrive without friction. Our partnership also manifested in a united voice within the larger team. There was no “go-ask-dad-if-mom-says-no” mentality, which often happens in family businesses.

How to Make it Work

For spouses and partners who wish to work together, I believe it’s critical that they work on different parts of the business and do so with autonomy. Hovering, correcting, holding them to different standards can cause problems—particularly in the optics within the company.

Lindsey and I are lucky to be able to do our best work in different parts of the business. That’s the tricky part. Can you both do your work and not have too many opinions about how the other is executing? Is the work style between the two people compatible? Are your vision, values and goals aligned? If yes, then give it a go. If you’re both wanting to be the chef, on the other hand, well, two-business households are great, too!

As a lifelong techie with 20 years of IT and AV experience, Lionel Felix (pictured at left) is committed to building great solutions that are easy to use. Both he and his wife, Lindsey Rima, are members of EO’s Austin, Texas, chapter

The post Growing as a Couple and a Startup appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.



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Growing A Side-Hustle Into A Global Business with Lorraine Dallmeier

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This week I was joined on the She Means Business podcast by one of our amazing members from the Members’ Club, Lorraine Dallmeier.

As soon as she returned to work after having a baby, Lorraine soon realised that she was being held firmly back by the glass ceiling.

She had been dabbling with creating a side-income for herself, so when the opportunity came up to take over the online course company she had been enrolled in, Lorraine took the plunge. She had seen it simply as a side-hustle, but it turned into so much more than that.

Join Lorraine and over 5000 other incredible women in business over in our Members’ Club here >>

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A few years and a lot of hard work later, Lorraine has grown her business, Formula Botanica, into a global success, with almost 9,000 students across 161 countries.

Formula Botanica is an online training school for people who want to learn how to make their own organic skincare or haircare and how to then turn those products into a viable and profitable indie beauty brand.

In this podcast, Lorraine and I discuss:

  • How being held back at work after having a baby pushed her to start her own business.
  • Her journey from being a student in her own online education business to buying and taking over the company.
  • All the changes, updates and processes she had to put in place to revive and grow the business, the steps she took and the things she focused on.
  • The successful launch that helped her realise she could quit her job and work on the business full-time.
  • How she used customer feedback to change and improve the business.
  • How she juggled growing the business and raising two children and the lifestyle she has managed to create for her family.
  • The struggles she faced with getting herself and her business out there and what she did to overcome her fear of being visible.
  • Winning The Digital Achiever of the Year Award from Google among beauty industry giants.
  • How she got started with video and how her skills have improved over time.
  • The kind of success her students have achieved.
  • All the exciting plans she has ahead of her this year.

Lorraine’s top tips for success are:

  • Don’t be scared of being visible – just do it and keep doing it until you feel comfortable with it. It will get easier the more you try!
  • Be really consistent in whatever you do. Be realistic in what you commit to doing and then keep showing up!
  • Find what drives you and gives you your passion as that’s what will get you through the hard times.

Find out more or connect with Lorraine.
Website: https://formulabotanica.com
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/FormulaBotanica/

Join Lorraine and over 5000 other incredible women in business over in our Members’ Club here >>

The post Growing A Side-Hustle Into A Global Business with Lorraine Dallmeier appeared first on Female Entrepreneur Association.



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How to Connect at a Networking Event (Without Saying A Word)

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by Latrice Cole

We all know it’s necessary for growth professionally or personally, but let’s be honest, it can be dreadful, intimidating, and downright awkward. What do you wear? Do you suck it up and wear the four-inch heels? How do you sell yourself? Do you humble-brag about your degree, or do you grit your teeth and smile until the very end? The most awkward part of networking is striking up the initial conversation with a complete stranger. But what if you didn’t have to? With just a dash of fashion-savvy, you can skip the stress-inducing walk-up and the whole boring introduction speech with this simple trick I teach all my clients: Wear an ice-breaking accessory that’s a stellar conversation starter. Below is a list of accessories that will get people approaching you now – and long after the event.

1. Scarves –Try wearing a unique vintage scarf or a scarf that you bought while on vacation with a great story behind it. This will allow you to share the story while taking the pressure off you. There are several ways to wear your scarf. Close to your face is best (around your neck), but if you’re not comfortable with that tie it on your handbag, but remember the key is for people to notice it. So, if you are going to tie it to your bag, make sure you can showcase it.

 

2. Pop of color with your shoe or handbag – Wearing a classic or neutral outfit to a networking event is a great way to look polished and professional (think Little Black Dresses, pantsuit/pants, and blouse combo).  However, show a little personality by adding a great pair of shoes or bag in a print or color that pops (like burnt orange or red). You will surely gain compliments that can ease into a conversation.

 

3. Jewelry – One of my favorite ways to top off an outfit. Try wearing a stand out heirloom, like a ring or brooch or handmade earrings that boosts your confidence. Last October, I attended a fashion networking event, and I wore handmade earrings. They were a hit! People started conversations with me based on my earrings. It broke the ice, allowed me to engage with others, and exchange contact information.

 

 

4. Eyeglasses – Those who wear them use it out of necessity, but that doesn’t mean they have to be boring. Use your necessity as an advantage by stepping up your eyewear game with an interesting shape, color, bedazzle, or print, according to your personality. I wear glasses and depending on the type of event, I may switch my frames to make a statement. Glasses draw attention to your face making it easy for people to make eye contact with you.

If you don’t wear glasses you can always flip the script and admire someone else’s to get the conversation going.

The post How to Connect at a Networking Event (Without Saying A Word) appeared first on She Owns It.



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Not All SEO Problems Are Easy to Solve

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SEO can boost your search visibilityContributed by Jackie Carrillo, a content coordinator and contributor who writes on technology, marketing, business management and education. 

SEO is often touted as one of those essential business practices that are simple enough to do yourself. After all, you probably have the power to edit your business’s website, so you can stuff pages with keyword phrases, sprinkle links galore and alter other factors that could improve your performance on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Thus, you could conceivably save tens of thousands of dollars by going the DIY route — unless you run into some SEO trouble.

SEO is simple until it isn’t. Unfortunately, SEO can get exceedingly complex exceedingly quickly. To prove the point, here are a four relatively typical SEO problems that tend to be too complex for the average business leader to solve.

1. Your Website Indexing Is All Wrong

You can put all the care into optimizing your webpages—researching keywords, tinkering with metadata, etc.—but if Google can’t find your webpages, it is all for naught. Websites and pages don’t automatically join Google’s search. Google deploys digital spiders to crawl the web looking for new pages and content, and then the search engine indexes those new pages, or adds them to it search capabilities.

Some creators intentionally hide webpages from Google’s spiders or prevent Google from using those pages in search. In fact, this is a good SEO tactic if some of your content is lower-quality or non-vital to the user’s experience of your website, like archives of tags. Then again, many more websites accidentally prevent their pages from being indexed through shoddy coding. Unfortunately, you can’t tell your website developer to fix the problem because they don’t know what pages to index and what to leave hidden from Google.

If you are wondering what an SEO company is for, it’s knowing the difference between webpages that should and shouldn’t be indexed. You should work with an SEO agency to help you with indexing your website properly, so the right content has the chance to rank on Google’s SERPs.

2. Your Pages Are Competing Against Each Other

Many SEO DIY-ers use a tool like this one to research viable keywords, choose a couple relevant phrases and integrate those keywords into every bit of content on their website.

This strategy is called keyword cannibalization and it is not an effective strategy for getting multiple webpages on your site to rank. Instead of competing against other sites, your pages compete against one another, hurting the chances of all pages involved at ranking high on Google’s SERPs.

The solution is to create a keyword map, which will help you identify which keywords are used on which webpages. Then, you should strive to diversify not only your keyword phrases but also the topics of your content, so you avoid overcrowding. Again, you should work with SEO professionals to choose the best keyword phrases for your pages and compete with other websites, not only yourself.

3. Your Content Isn’t Structured to Google’s Liking

The number of backlinks to your website matters. The quality of your content matters. However, these factors matter a bit less if your content isn’t taking the right form.

Consider this example: You spend days developing a comprehensive, 3,000-word list of the best travel destinations for this year, replete with a few stunning, high-res images of a few destinations—but when you publish it, it doesn’t come close to ranking.

That might be because Google only deems content of this sort acceptable when they take the form of an image gallery with minimal text. You can determine this with a bit of research using keywords similar to your content, like “best travel destinations 2020.”

However, the differences in format between what you publish and what Google likes might be all but indiscernible to the average web user. Thus, you should rely on an SEO pro to perform thorough research on content styles before proffering instruction on content development.

4. Your Website Speed Is Embarrassingly Slow

Surprising to many SEO DIY-ers, website speed is one of Google’s top-ranking criteria. Google’s spiders don’t like wading through a slow website, and users hate waiting for pages to load, too. Thus, Google knocks points off websites that aren’t prioritizing haste and hustle, and that goes double for mobile.

SEO isn’t the only reason you should invest more energy into increasing your website’s speed on traditional and mobile platforms. Research shows that users will only wait about three seconds for a page to load before bouncing in search of a swifter page. Slower pages don’t just rank lower; they also are less likely to cause conversions because of their subpar user experience.

Yet, increasing speed isn’t as easy as it sounds. Typically, you need to tinker with exceedingly technical aspects of your site, like compression and code optimization, caching and content distribution. A simple speed boost comes from reducing the size of your images. Still, it helps to have a pro on hand to help you optimize your website for speed without compromising its quality.

Ostensibly, you can manage basic SEO on your own—but when your business encounters obstacles in its efforts to rank, you shouldn’t try to solve any problems without professional help. Your website is simply to valuable to harm with shoddy SEO practices.

The post Not All SEO Problems Are Easy to Solve appeared first on Octane Blog – The official blog of the Entrepreneurs' Organization.



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