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My experience fighting fear over the coronavirus situation as an entrepreneur (and as a normal person)

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I decided to write an article and share what I have experienced for the last 2 months during the Coronavirus situation about my fear. I published this article originally on LinkedIn and just wanna share it with you guys as well.

This was a challenging journey for me and it took me some time and lots of effort to get over with the fear that I had. With the increasing tensions around the world, I hope this article will somehow be able to help those who are in quarantine or those whose business is at risk because of this unfortunate event. It is a crucial time that we stay mentally strong especially now more than ever to fight it. Cheers.

——————————————begin of the content——————————————–
I returned to Shanghai, China on the 6th of February, 2020. My original plan was only staying in Taiwan for 5 days for the Chinese New Year with my family before returning back to Shanghai, and I end up staying with my parents for 14 days.

Before I flew to Taiwan I was in Japan getting my itch for skiing fixed, and despite the fact that the snow sucks this season I am really glad I did the Japan trip.

Because who knows, for the next 2 months, the world would fall into the crisis of Coronavirus.

According to https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/. As of today, 12 PM Beijing Time on March 23, 2020, there are 337.553 Coronavirus cases worldwide, with currently infected patients of 224,015, deaths at 14,654.

Now, let’s go back to the moment before I decided to fly back to Shanghai from Taiwan.

I remembered the news keep stating how serious and dangerous the virus situation was in China, and how difficult for those Taiwanese businessmen in Wuhan, China trying to return back to Taiwan but they couldn’t, due to the whole city lockdown policy. And my dad looked at me asking (more like telling me, so many people want to go back to their home in Taiwan to be with their family and they couldn’t, AND YOU wanna go back to where they were trying to leave?

At that time, on the TV and the news, China was the place with a very high risk of getting infected with the virus, and who knows, maybe I would get infected and never be able to return to Taiwan and see my parents again. But I set my mind to go back to my “home” for the last three years. I determined to see my lovely dog again, I had a business there to run, I missed my apartment. And I was confident everything was going to be ok as soon as I went back to where I belong.

I was happy to be back in Shanghai after 2 weeks staying with my parents plus one week in Japan before that. What I didn’t know was what would happen next.

This was before the term "Social Distancing" started trending. Everyone in Shanghai was asked to stay home and not going out to decrease the level of risk people infecting each other. Me as someone return from another country, in particular, was not allowed to go outside of my house for 14 days. When I was at home, the panic started kicking in, the virus situation didn’t seem to be better. There were more and more new cases each day. My mom calling me each day to ensure I was getting enough food and essentials so my immune system was ready to fight the virus.

When you are only one person in the house and not much to do, a lot of negative thoughts come into your head. What if I got infected? What would happen to my dog if I caught the virus? Who’s gonna take care of her? Would my business be able to survive with this “no office”, “work-from-home” policy? Do we have enough cash to make it to the Q2 if we don’t get enough revenue? Should I get out of China and take a break in other countries and wait until the virus situation better? Maybe Thailand or Europe? (this is before the outbreaks in Europe)

All of the above came from my fear and my doubt about the things I had NO control over with.

What happens next seems unavoidable – I started to fall into a deep depression with anxiety without knowing.

I have had depression with anxiety before, and it usually lasts for a couple of days and goes, happens once a month or every 2 months.

But this time is different. With the quarantine, the pause for the whole business industry, the “work-from-home”, the depressing news, the death toll all over the place. And the fear that I might have a chance to be infected that my dog AND my business could both be dead because of that, it was just so stressful and painful.

The depression leads to some symptoms such as: not able to get out of bed in the morning, can’t help but putting negative thoughts in my head whenever possible. Blaming myself for little things I didn’t do when I think I should. Not believing myself that I deserve to be happy. My life feels like it was meaningful-less, everything seems gray, every moment awake became unbearable. It was real.

I noticed how miserable I made myself feel and how I would end up drinking almost every night just so I don’t think about those depressing things. I even thought about start smoking. Both were bad for my health.

The fear of the virus is eating away the control I had over my emotions, and my actions. And this doesn’t make sense and doesn’t have to be. How can we be already beaten before I got the virus? It just doesn’t make sense.

So I started to ask myself: Why do I have this fear? What am I really scared of?

What if I am fearless and I can do anything? What can I do to make myself feel differently?

I started to learn more about the virus, like the information about virus cases around my area. The measures I could take to ensure I was at less risk of being infected. I eat healthier to get my body ready and boost the immune system. I drink more water because I know I should.

I took a closer look at the numbers for my business. Making adjustments to make sure that we do have enough cash to survive a foreseeable future.

But most importantly. I started to take action to get my MIND to try new measures and be more open to the idea of “you are doing great and you will be ready to fight whatever is coming at you”. I used to be against the idea of “meditation”, “affirmation” and “telling yourself you are great”. But it is really helpful when I open myself to trying these methods especially when no one else is around me to talk about this. I became my best partner and my best friend to tell myself – you can do it.

I am still improving my state of mind each and every single day to be better. I embrace the fact that there are some things we just don’t have total control over with, like the virus. However, we CAN control how we look at things the way we wanted to. How I can believe and trust myself to handle the stress and fear the right way.

With the improving virus situation around China, our office in Shanghai has resume working and so are our clients. We are grateful to be healthy and alive to be able to be part of the future. And we hold gratitude for that every day

This article is dedicated to those who run a business, and those who are responsible for not only themselves but also others. Say no to fear, and love yourself first so we can be the strongest fortress when others need us.

For those who are interested, this is my LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/in/vickyhui0520/

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7-Step Ideal Customer Profile framework that helped me to generate $200k in sales opportunities after ABM campaign

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I've recently finished reverse engineering my process I use to develop an ideal customer profile. This exact process helped me recently to:

  • Improve one of my client's positioning, so they were perceived as a niche industry experts by their customers.
  • Create a hyper-targeted list of B2B prospects that are the excellent fit for their service
  • Generate $200k in sales opportunities after ABM campaign we ran

The kicker?

This client operates in highly-competitive space (software development) where they used to be a "one size fits all" vendor for many years.

Here are the 7 steps I use.

#1 – Select a specific market segment

ICP is the impersonation of your key customers from a specific market segment.

Lots of B2B companies miss this step and make the same mistake. They export all the data from the CRM and create a universal customer avatar.

As a result, they move to the "one-size-fits-all" approach and spray their efforts instead of focusing on specific segments. Keep in mind that for every market segment, you need to create a standalone ICP.

#2 – Choose 10 key customers from that market segment

All clients weren't created equal.

The Pareto Principle tells that 4% of customers might generate 64% of your revenue. Our goal is to find this 4 % and add them to the ICP template.

As a rule of thumb, I suggest selecting 10 best clients from a particular segment.

If you don't have this amount of customers, add as many as you have. It's always better to work with some data than just brainstorming.

#3 – Fill in the ideal client profile template

The next step is filling the ICP template (here is a screenshot: https://monosnap.com/file/aBmAuNYebkJYcT6ZfuerZjxm8zRLAM).

You'll need to analyze your accounts, their buying committee structure, and run in-depth customer interviews.

You can collect from your CRM the available data as sub-industry (e.g., software development or marketing automation software), location, revenue, our revenue (the total volume of sales to this customer), and team size.

#4 – Define the buying committee members and collect public info about them

Our next step is to define the buying committee. There are several ways how we can do it.

The first step is to analyze CRM and talk to sales.

In CRM, check who was in the email thread. Look for replies and CC. The sales team might provide you more insights. Ask them:

  • Did the Champions or Decision-makers mention anybody from their team whom they want to talk to?
  • Did anybody else from the client's team join the calls/meetings?

Once you'll figure out these people, open LinkedIn Sales Navigator, and find them. If you don't see them on LinkedIn, search on Facebook and Twitter.

Once you finally find the buying committee members, copy to the ideal customer template their job roles, approximate age, and social media activity (do they post anything? How often?).

As well, I recommend checking what websites content do they share in their profile, what influencers content do they engage with or follow, what communities are they in.

#5 – Analyze the buying process

#6 – Enrich Ideal Customer Profile with in-depth customer interviews

In the previous steps, we collected the available public information about your key customers, defined the buying committee, and interviewed sales. Only this process should provide you great insights about your ideal customers.

Now let's enrich your ideal customer profile by interviewing your best customers.

The insights you'll gain not only will help you to develop a better ICP but amplify your value proposition, polish the company's positioning, and improve the efficiency of all marketing programs you are running.

#7 – Define ideal customer profile from existing data

The last step is the easiest one.

It's to analyze all the data you've collected from your best customers from the specific market segment and create an ideal customer profile. As you get it, ICP is a combination of patterns, features, and information about your best customers.

Sometimes you might be perplexed with what you should put in the ICP template. When you have concerns or doubts, take a look at the customers with the most significant share in revenue, and put the data you've collected about them into the template.

Hope this process will help you also to define the ideal customer profile and improve prospecting.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

If you'd like to get more details, you can read about the entire process here: https://getleado.com/ideal-customer-profile

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Demonstrating Persistence And Consistency In The New Global Culture by @coachlorimcneil

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by Lori McNeil

There are a few times in a women’s life that make such a substantial impact on them to which they will never forget. Your wedding day. Your first child. Your first love. Your first break up. The list could go on. However, as it relates to business there is one day that no one will forget. The day that the world changed globally. 2020 has begun with some amazing changes in how businesses are showing up for their clients, but more importantly, themselves and their families.

One of the greatest asset’s female entrepreneurs have is utilizing our natural ability to multi-task life into the business world. This new global culture is paying attention more intently than ever before, and women business owners have never been better positioned to lead this new economy.

Two concepts come to the forefront in order to accomplish this: Persistence and Consistency.

 

Persistence is Power

Persistence in its simplest terms is sustained action. Action creates movement. Momentum moves mountains. That movement is powerful. Alongside of that power comes influence. One of the purest emotions is influence because no one knows just how deep their influence goes. Because of that there is a sustained humility that often comes with persistency. Every entrepreneur knows the importance of influence and women take that emotion to heart in every moment.

For persistence to gain traction and momentum one must first show up. Remembering next to never give up. Accepting the fact that laziness is nothing more than manifested excuses and the end result of persistency is in how it blesses others, is a great leveling and positioning tool. Operating in the global culture demands for sustained action. This action fuels consistency.

 

Consistency Carries the Control

Showing up and pushing through challenges (there are always challenges along the way) is the fruit of persistence. In other words, is consistency lets others know your serious. The rhyme and reason for your consistency is your own. Whether you show up once a month, once a week, or once a day is not as important as just showing up. Consistency is like visiting your great grandmothers house knowing that each time you do she has hot, homemade cookies ready for you to devour.

Consistency says that you value other people enough to give of your time for them. As others see the value you bring, they will reciprocate. This is where the control is. Not a control as in power but a control that brings people into alignment. That alignment allows for relationships to grow and prosper.

 

The Voice Of Reason And Truth

The new global culture is screaming for authenticity and honesty from all four directions. What sets a person apart from another is their calling card. The stronger your foundation is, the easier it is to maintain the momentum of persistence.

 

Allow consistency to be your calling card.

Would you like to learn how to maintain persistence or create consistency? Let us know in the comments below. We would love to hear from you.

 

 

International Educator, Speaker, Author, and Business Coach, Lori helps entrepreneurs and organizations focus on foundational tools needed for sustained success. As a Curriculum Designer and Business Professor, Lori has helped grow hundreds of organizations organically to build a true, long-lasting purpose. Lori has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, & various regional markets. She has authored / co-authored several books and works globally to support literacy, cancer research, young entrepreneurship, and military programs. Helping raise over three million dollars for literacy, Lori was awarded the Lifetime Presidential Service Award for her work. For more info visit www.lorimcneil.com.

The post Demonstrating Persistence And Consistency In The New Global Culture by @coachlorimcneil appeared first on She Owns It.



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How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups

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There is so much confusion and misinformation out there about the government sponsored “payroll protection plan” loans to companies that the heads of every small business CEO in the country must be spinning. We have been advising a lot of entrepreneurs so I thought I’d “open source” some of the advice I have been sharing.

I am not claiming to be the world expert on this. But I have been in close contact with the NVCA, many of the major law firms and many of the major VC firms. Along with my partner Stuart Lander, who runs operations at Upfront and is a former lawyer, we have scoured through, debated and helped scores of companies make this determination. So my only goal is to give you insights into the conversations we’ve been having in case you don’t have the same access or advice.

I am not a lawyer nor can you use my advice for the basis for your application but I’d rather provide more public information to help you have the right conversations so please take this posting for what it is (and accept that I may have typos or inaccuracies, which I will amend if pointed out).

Am I eligible for the PPP Loan?

If your US-based business is adversely affected by Covid-19 such that you would need to lay off employees imminently and having access to capital would enable you to keep more employees on the payroll then you might be eligible. You need to:

  • study the rules,
  • make sure that you don’t violate the “affiliate rule” (more later),
  • consult with your Company Counsel,
  • consult with your board and investors and then make your own determination.

If you do apply you must certify that your information and application are true and honest.

Who is this program for and why does it exist?

The CARES (Coronavirus Aid Relief & Economic Security) Act provides $2 trillion to businesses and individuals affective by Covid-19.

$350 billion of this money is dedicated to small businesses under a loan program called the PPP (payroll protection plan). This money is administered by the SBA (small business administration) and is obtained through an approved bank who reviews your application.

The goal of the program is in the name — payroll protection. The US government believes that keeping more workers employed, even if they’re not immediately productive due to WFH (work from home) or loss of revenue is better than all of these employees being laid off, where they will likely seek relief via unemployment insurance claims. There were 10 million claims in the past 2 weeks alone, the largest 2-week request in history. The government believes that it not only is better keeping employees in jobs where possible but also in helping these businesses remain solvent.

Am I ineligible since I’m VC-backed?

There is nothing in the rules that state that VC-backed businesses are ineligible. There are certainly some people who are publicly saying that VC-backed businesses shouldn’t take government money. There are some business people who think this is ethically wrong for a VC-backed business with a highly-educated founder and there are also likely to be some populist outcries that the money should have been reserved for Main Street workers and not tech workers.

This is a matter of opinion or belief system but not a matter of legislation or policy. The program is designed to keep employees on the payroll so ultimately it’s up to you to decide whether you are a worthy recipient and to weigh the benefit to your company and your employees against the potential perception the market may (or may not) have in the future.

One thing that is clear. If you plan to lay off employees and if the PPP Loan will help you to keep more people on your payroll and you ultimately believe that getting through the next couple of months will enable you to productively employ these people on your own dime in the future — this is precisely the policy goal of the US Government. Perception is not equal to policy or legislation. If you want to be perceived well in the future then make sure that your grounds for applying are sound and that you’re truly preserving jobs.

If the US Government didn’t want to support VC-backed businesses they easily could have excluded them and they knowingly did not.

I am hearing from all of my peers that everybody’s applying — shouldn’t I?

The short answer is “no.” Applying for a government loan that was created to serve US small businesses and employees in the times of an economic crisis is not something you should do just because all of your peers are telling you that you should. It is not “free money.” You should apply if your business is in duress, if the loan can help you preserve jobs, if you qualify and if you’re supported by your board and your investors.

Do I need to repay the loan?

You might. It depends. Below lists how the loan program is calculated. If you maintain your employment level at your current rate much of this loan can be forgiven but it’s likely that a portion of it will not be. If you do massive layoffs (RIFs) you can assume that you will need to repay your loan since the intent of the loan is to protect jobs.

Do I need to rush my application?

One of the most unfortunate aspects of the legislation is that it states that applications will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis. That means that every business who believes it qualifies is rushing in its applications, which doesn’t leave much time for reasoned discussions with your relevant stakeholders on whether or not you should and it means that banks and lawyers are being forced to rush things. I get that in a crisis the government needs to act quickly and fix things later. But this FIFO approach has created undue urgency. So sadly you do need to rush things if you want to improve your chances of being approved.

Why is there so much confusion about whether banks accept applications?

Banks have a difficult task. They don’t want to hand out loans and later learn they gave money to fraudsters. They have regulations that dictate things like KYC (know your customer) and AML (anti money-laundering) and other regulations designed to avoid abuse of our financial institutions. As a result, many banks are only taking applications from existing customers and in some cases only customers who have existing credit arrangements. Additionally, some Main Street banks aren’t able to process VC-backed applications because they are designed to handle individual owned, local businesses.

The two primary banks that service the VC industry are SVB (Silicon Valley Bank) and FRB (First Republic Bank) and both understand the intricacies of VC-backed businesses and are more easily able to assist you.

Everybody is talking about the “Affiliate Rule” — what is that?

Ok. Now things get complicated.

Step 1 is deciding “am I qualified for a loan under the rules” and step 2 is determining whether or not you can validly apply based on something called the “affiliate rule.” It’s complicated but essentially if a SINGLE VC can veto certain actions that are approved by the board then you violate the Affiliate Rule (or if a single firm owns > 50%). There is a lot of chatter about companies that own > 20%. This is completely unrelated to the Affiliate Rule. The application form states that any > 20% owners must disclose certain information in the application process so it often gets confused as being related. It is not. The NVCA (National Venture Capital Association) Guidelines are below.

Am I free and clear as long as no investor owns more than 20% of my company?

No. This is another misconception. The 20% threshold has nothing whatsoever to do with eligibility. It simply determines whether you have to provide additional information.

So to be clear, if a company owns 8% of your company but has negative blocking rights as outlined above in the NVCA guidelines, you are ineligible for the program unless you modify your legal governing documents.

How do I amend my legal documents so that the Affiliate Rule doesn’t stop me from applying for a loan?

For starters you will require investor consent to amend your governing documents and since some of these terms were negotiated to protect shareholder rights they may approve the changes and they may not.

I have found that it is easier to get VCs to amend the governing documents when there are several VC investors such that none has the overwhelming majority ownership relative to others. This is because the affiliate rule is only tripped if one single firm has blocking rights. Therefore you can amend the governing documents to a “simple majority of the preferred shareholders” can block one of the known affiliate rules rather than a single firm. I have found VCs to work collaboratively on these to help entrepreneurs in this time of need.

It’s slightly harder if you’ve only done an A-round and therefore have just one VC around the table who owns more than a majority of the preferred stock. In this instance they would need to give up the right entirely. If your company is in dire straits (let’s say you’re a transportation company or a hospitality company) then you’re likely to find an amenable investor. If you’re in a company where the investor views your application as more of a “gray area” then you may not easily receive consent for changes.

Finally, there are several discussions about how to “get around” the Affiliate Rule. Please be careful because having a “side agreement” (verbal or written) to “spring back” to the old agreement in the future is tantamount to fraud. You can expressly mention that the governing docs are only valid for the period of the loan but I believe this may open you up to the SBA second guessing the validity of your loan on a “look back basis” (meaning in the future they come back and state that you violated the rules).

If you’re going to amend, then amend. If you’re playing games — don’t apply.

When the $350 billion is fully invested will more be made available?

Nobody knows for sure. There are lots of discussions about the need for more stimulus and the lasting effects of the Coronavirus, etc. Ultimately whether there is a further SBA stimulus will depend on whether it was deemed effective, whether the crisis is longer-lasting and deeper than expected and whether handing more money to small businesses is deemed politically acceptable.

I’m getting so much conflicting advice, whom should I listen to?

Ultimately it is up to you to make the determination if the PPP Loan program is meant for you. You should have a discussion with your legal counsel first. You should discuss with your board second. You should discuss it with your investors third. If you are convinced after this that you are eligible and worthy, then the only remaining thing before applying is to decide how the markets will judge your actions in the future. If you saved jobs, saved your company and are a productive member of our economy and if you feel that this program played an important role in helping you succeed and you didn’t have other options that were as immediately able to help — you can at least sleep better at night believing that this SBA Program met its intended goal.


How to Make Sense of the PPP Loan Program for VC-Backed Startups was originally published in Both Sides of the Table on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.



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