The Business Women's Group
  1. Hot Topic Trends for Business Owners and Executives

    October 15, 2014

    Sponsored by Principal Financial

    An opportunity to hear from a weekly Forbes contributor

    Please join us as Steve Parrish shares his insight around Hot Topics for Business Owners and Executives.

    In his presentation, Steve will talk about current events, key person strategies, business valuation and buy-sell issues and a lot about taxes.

    Steve has more than 35 years experience as an attorney and financial planner; has worked with hundreds of business owners to solve problems, exit their businesses or retain their top talent. He works all over the country with financial advisors and business owners to help them better prepare for their financial future. He’s a contributor for Forbes; his articles and blog are focused on financial intelligence for business owners.

     

    Event Details
    October 28th, 4:00 – 5:30 pm

    Minnesota State University – Edina

    7700 France Avenue S., Room 340 Ste. D, Edina MN

    To RSVP or for more information, simply reply to Alyssa Kreutzfeldt

    Alyssa Kreutzfeldt
    Associate Managing Director
    (651) 287-5469
    kreutzfeldt.alyssa@principal.com


  2. Herlife Featured Member for August: Christine Frisk, ASID

    August 14, 2014

    Christine

    Business Name: InUnison Design, Inc.

    Years in Business: 27

    What is Your Core Focus?
    Interior design services and project management for residential, commercial, and non-profit clients with a focus on great design, fine art, and philanthropy

    What is a Milestone in your business that you are proud of?
    For me, my real professional badge of honor was earned between 2008 and 2012, when in four tumultuous years I rebranded my company, reinvented my business, managed to keep and pay my employees and grew my business in spite of the economic downturn and other challenges.

    What is your 5-year target?
    By January 2020, InUnison Design will be one of the Twin Cities most dynamic and influential interior design resources. My business will be located in a historic building in south Minneapolis, renovated by the InUnison design team in collaboration with a top local architect. InUnison headquarters will be home to the InUnison Design studio, as well as InUnison Home, a boutique showroom devoted to fine artisanal and vintage contemporary furniture and art by local artists, photographers and craftspeople. I will have a staff of talented design professionals and with their help, I project revenues of $3 million from both the design studio and retail/wholesale sales, with steady, measured growth throughout the next decade.

    What are Your Strategies for Reaching Your Goal?

    • Growing my client base by reaching out to individuals who share a similar profile to my best clients—people who welcome a collaborative creative process, appreciate the beauty of great design, have a passion for art, and support their community.
    • Actively seeking a commercial building to purchase and renovate.
    • Collaborating with my husband, a talented and experienced sales executive, to develop a vision and a business plan for a boutique showroom to serve retail and wholesale customers.
    • Analyzing my staff to determine how the growth of InUnison can be a mutually rewarding relationship, helping them to reach their own personal and professional goals.

     

    What Obstacle are You Trying to Overcome?
    The usual suspects: time, money, daily life, and garden-variety fears, but nothing I can’t handle!

    What is Your Definition of Success?
    I feel successful on a personal level because I am proud of my relationships with my family, my community and my clients. My children have witnessed a mom who’s there for them at home, but also demonstrates a rock-solid work ethic. I consider myself to be successful professionally because I find joy in my work, which is creating a collaborative process that helps my clients bring their dreams and wishes to reality. I listen well, create beautifully, implement flawlessly, and work hard to create lifelong relationships, which is the real reward.

    What Advice Do You Have for HERLife Readers?
    For women, life is a constant process of adding and taking away. As daughters, mothers, wives, grandmothers, and professionals, we’re constantly navigating a dynamic ebb and flow of children, friends, colleagues, and other relationships that come into our life, make a mark, and then change again. As a mother, an interior designer, and a business owner, I see each transition as an opening of the nest, a psychological expansion of oneself to new ideas, opportunities and experiences that previously there wasn’t room for. Using the language and imagery of interior design, I believe the concept of the Open Nest is a wonderful metaphor for designing a rich, rewarding life at any age.

    Why Are You a Member of The BWC?
    I really appreciate the opportunity to share the joys and struggles of being a business owner with other smart women. I find the power of the group to be constantly supportive, refreshing, and motivating. Among the many benefits of belonging to the BWC, I really value the concept of accountability among the members of our group. In my role as a business owner, I’m not accountable to anybody but my clients, but with my peers in the BWC, I’m accountable and I like that. I also value the development process that we are being walked through—the same process that Fortune 500 companies are using to support and sustain success.


  3. Opportunities & Attitude

    May 15, 2014

    Lani and I attended the annual Women President’s Organization National Conference last week and the speakers were outstanding.  (See list below).  Their life stories and business success demonstrated the positive “can do” attitude of great entrepreneurs.  They pursued opportunities and went beyond their wildest expectations.

    That got Lani and I thinking about our topic for this year’s Annual Forum—Pursuing Opportunities.  So many of you have seen an opportunity and gone for it.  But, we know that isn’t always easy.  Fear, self-doubt, and limited resources can get you down.  As Dr. Applegate said, the data gathering is only one aspect of turning an opportunity into a gem.  It’s those with a positive attitude that make it.  Those who feel good about themselves and their abilities see possibilities. They are the ones who are open to building the relationships and willing to step into the uncertain. Those with negative attitudes about life give up before they start. They don’t trust themselves or others and fret about what could go wrong.  While there are many theories about how our attitudes are formed, especially for women, I believe positive attitudes come from the energy we give and receive from others. It’s contagious and transformative.

    The power of attitude hit home recently when I attended a funeral for a distant cousin named Bea. Surprisingly it was a nice tribute to a woman who really was a simple person but was extremely negative–always wringing her hands complaining.  Her children, moved away from home early to avoid the negativity, however, in their eulogy they did her proud with tales that moved me.

    Bea’s son told about how all of his mother’s life she was sad, depressed, and mostly miserable, while at the same time trying to be a devoted wife and mother. After her husband died she was lost. Her two sons sent her a ticket to visit them in California. While there she broke her hip and required surgery. She ended up in a senior citizen home, called Bright Acres, in California, where she resided for six years before her death.  At first Bea fought staying in “Bright Acres”, but her son’s told her that her option was to return to “Dark Shadows” in St. Paul.

    The amazing thing was that these were the happiest six years of her life. People reached out to her and suddenly she had many friends. They complimented her on her wardrobe of purple clothing.  In fact, she became the most popular kid on the block, sitting at table #1, which was the table where the “in” crowd sat. Bea was elected to head the entertainment committee, played Mahjong or poker several times a week, and was even a model at a fashion show. She also had a boy friend, Sid, who adored her. Apparently he was a funny guy and had a joke for everyone. Bea was laughing for the first time. Her daughter said that these are the only photos they have of Bea smiling. Bea went with Sid to movies, traveled for the first time, going on bus trips to surrounding areas, even Disneyland.  Her son said “thankfully” she didn’t call him for weeks at a time because she was “too busy”.  He also said that Sid was blind and couldn’t hear, which is probably why he liked her.  A few months ago, Sid’s family decided to move him back to Georgia and he left Bright Acres.  Beatrice’s heart was broken and she died six weeks later at 92.

    I love this story. It’s lesson is so simple.

    I think each of you can transform the lives of your peers in our BWC circles.  We can provide the positive energy that keeps each other going.  We can provide the laughs at our mistakes and the encouragement when someone is down or is listening to that little negative voice on their shoulder.  Our circles have shown that positive energy is contagious.  Let’s start an epidemic.

    Speakers from WPO 2014 Conference
    All have books, and several have TED or YouTube talks.

    Ping Fu, Vice President & Chief Entrepreneur Officer, 3D Systems
    Pioneer software programmer and innovator Ping Fu chronicled her path from a child in Maoist China to becoming the head of Geomagic, a company that has reshaped the world from personalizing prosthetic limbs to repairing NASA spaceships through 3D printing.

    Pavithra Mehta, Award-Winning Filmmaker & Author, Board of Directors, Aravind Eye Foundation
    Pavithra K. Mehta shared how the Aravind Eye Hospital defied conventional business logic with an innovative business model as a self-sustaining non-profit, from its beginning as a tiny clinic founded in India to becoming the largest provider of eye care on the planet.

    Simon Sinek, Leadership Expert & Author
    Renowned business expert Simon Sinek talked about how leaders willing to eat last are rewarded with deeply loyal colleagues who will stop at nothing to advance their leader’s vision and their interests.

    Lauren Bush Lauren, CEO & Founder, FEEDFEED Founder and CEO
    Lauren Bush Lauren explained the undeniable power of conscious consumerism and how brands must
change their ways of doing business to satisfy consumer demand.

    Mark you calendars for the July 14 BWC Annual Forum
    Theme:  Pursuing Opportunities.
    Location:  The Marsh
    Time:  9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
    Fee:  $30 members $40 guests   Limit 50. Members get first registration.

    Why attend:

    • Interact with members from all BWC circles.
    • Spend a day working “ON” your business with peers who “get it.”
    • Engage with inspiring speakers.
    • Take home new insights that will apply to your business.
    • Enjoy sisterhood in a relaxing atmosphere.
    • SMILE!

    Registration information and more details will be out soon. MARK YOUR CALENDARS.

    Being an entrepreneur is–The relentless pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.  (Harvard definition of entrepreneur, Dr. Lynda Applegate)


  4. Herlife Featured Member for April: Nicole Thompson

    Nicole Thompson

    Company: Station 19 Architects, Inc.

    Years in Business: 35 year old business

    What is your core focus? Strategic Planning, Architecture and Interiors Firm that specializes in serving “Growing Quality Ministries”. Our resume includes over 600+ ministries located nationwide.

    What is a Milestone in your business that you are proud of? We have been profitable in the last three years during a difficult economy for most Architectural firms. AND we are working on some very exciting projects collaboratively and with joy.

    Where are you taking your business? We are looking to grow the business back to pre-recession size.

    What is your 5-year target? 5 Year target is increase our total billings by 2 times.

    What are you doing to reach your goal? Provide quality service to our clients with their long term satisfaction in mind – referrals. We are “refreshing” our marketing strategies and identity.  Increase our exposure through strategic networking groups, web, email and social media.

    What’s an obstacle are you trying to get over? Enough time in a day!

    How do you define success? At the end of a day doing “great work” – Is my family life healthy?

    What advice do you have for our readers? Love what you do each day while prioritizing family, they are the ones you get to come home to everyday.

    Why are you a member of BWC? I joined BWC for the peer support.  I know that I can go to a meeting and these women “GET IT.”  They are facing the same issues I am face on a day to day basis.  The added bonus has been the Traction Business, Personal and Family Planning that has come with it.  Priceless.  It has been just essential for me in business planning for the company last year and for 2014.  It has helped our company stay focused on our core values and goals.  Wonderful tools and support to guide a profitable business.


  5. “Small Stuff” With BIG Impact

    April 1, 2014
    Myrna Marofsky
    This article first appeared in the April 2013 edition of HERLife magazine.

    Remember the old adage, “Don’t sweat the small stuff?”  In the scheme of things that seems to makes good sense to business owners who are encumbered by “big stuff” all the time. Bills, employees, customers, family issues consume most of our time and energy.  Here’s a switch, take a new look at the “small stuff”–actions that can make a huge difference in three critical areas of Finance, Operations, and Relationships.  And that’s just the beginning.  I’m not talking about time wasters or procrastinators. We all know about these and practice them often.  It’s the small pivotal behaviors that, if intentionally practiced, can change your company for the better.  The best part is that they generally take under 15 minutes to accomplish.  When done repeatedly, these behaviors become imbedded in your operations and your culture.  It’s becomes the way you do things.

    Consider this question: “What quick action or small behavior change could positively impact your company right now? Then do it!

    This is a teaser to get you thinking.  If you have additions, send them to us at info@thebwc.org.  Note that each item begins with an action…a behavior that if done regularly becomes a habit.

    Finance

    Benefits: You and your accountant will be very happy at tax time. You will avoid risks of errors or overpayment.

    • Buy 12 file folders and label them for each month.  Then use them for all receipts, deposit slips, bills paid, etc. Include bank statements for easy reconciliation and record keeping.  The IRS has three years to audit you or for you to claim an error.  So keep these available.
    • Ask for receipts for everything and file them in appropriate files.
    • Keep receipts for large purchases in a safe place….just in case.
    • Jot down who you were with and the purpose of your lunch and dinner dates on receipts for events you pay for.
    • Review monthly credit card statements immediately to make sure there are no errors. You may only have 30 days to claim a mistake. Circle tax related items as you review.
    • Ask suppliers for a discount on early payments.
    • Deposit all cash and check payments in a timely manner to avoid losing track of them.
    • Copy all checks before they are deposited and file copies by month.  Include copies of your bank deposit tickets. They come in handy when there is an error.
    • Review past due invoices and call on any overdue balances.   Email doesn’t work as well.
    • Use online banking tools.
    • Only use technology that makes you more efficient. Then learn how to use it  or hire an expert. Keep a paper backup of essential documents, in case of a major computer glitch.

     

    Operations

    Benefits: You will save time and resources.

    • Cancel all subscriptions to catalogues, online newsletters, and periodicals that never get read anyway.
    • Save your work on the computer every 10 minutes.  (doing that now).Back up your computer to an external drive or the cloud at least once a week at a set day and time.
    • Use Google maps when heading to a place you’ve never been before.  Figure out where you are going to park. This may take a phone call in advance.
    • Walk around and then sit for five minutes to access the efficiency of space use, outlets, lighting, ventilation, etc. to determine changes that will make you more efficient.
    • Keep a database or simple notebook with notes on procedures or little tips for working through situations. (Think about the notes on a recipe card after you’ve made it once. ) Enter them in a detailed document at a later time.
      • Secure paper documents in locked cabinets and electronic records in password protected files.
      • Give yourself one hour at work before you check email.
      • Force yourself to deal with the email when it arrives — open it, delete it or delegate it.
      • Set up a couple 20 minute breaks to check email and/or work online.
      • Keep your passwords in one secure and easily accessible place, either on your computer or in a file.  Also, keep the answers to those irritating security questions someplace too.
      • Download apps that help you be more productive.  Beware some apps are more trouble than a pen and paper.

     

    Relationships

    Benefits: You will build loyalty and customer satisfaction.

    • Pick up the phone.  A five minute conversation can eliminate 20 emails.
    • Don’t answer the phone. Check caller ID to avoid calls that will engage you in a non-productive conversation.
    • Review the potential attendees before signing up for network events.  Then, if you choose to go, set a goal to have one quality conversation, not gathering a pocket full of business card.
    • Make an outbound follow-up call of gratitude or appreciation, to a customer, potential customer, or someone who has made your life easier.
    • Say “I’m sorry.”
    • Say “Thank you.”
    • Show up when employees or customers least expect you or when it’s the right thing to do.  (Attend a funeral of a member of an employee’s family and you will quickly learn how important this is.)
    • Check your Talk/Listen ratio.  Ask questions and then listen…really listen.
    • Speak in terms of “it” and “we” versus “us” and “them.”
    • Follow-up a transaction or encounter with a client to see how they are doing.  A call is nice (think about your dentist calling after a visit), but an email note will do.
    • Confirm appointments in advance to make sure all is set, including verifying the time and place.
    • Extend your Out of Office notice for one day longer than you are out for vacation keeping it as a catch-up day.  Then remove it.

  6. Move From Survival to Growth

    March 1, 2014
    Myrna Marofsky
    This article originally appeared in the March 2013 edition of HERLife magazine.
     

    Women owned businesses represent nearly 50% of privately held companies in the U.S., however, three quarters of these businesses are not able to grow their businesses past $50,000 in annual gross revenue. (Forbes, May 2012)

    Why do some businesses grow, while others languish or fade away? I don’t know the answer for every situation, but in my work with women business owners I have observed some patterns that are instructive. It’s these patterns that The Business Women’s Circle members try to break while coaching their peers through their blind spots.

    We know that sustaining a business is hardest in the early phases. This is when owners are working 100% “in” the business, leaving little time for thinking about growth. It’s survival. There is ample research demonstrating that growth begins when a business owner hires that first person, thus relieving the owner to do what they do best. For me it was hiring someone to do my bookkeeping. Ahh what a relief!

    Growth requires steady and steadfast attention to today and tomorrow. That means, time spent planning, producing, innovating, and building. It also means getting out of your place of business, turning away from the computer, and meeting other entrepreneurs from diverse businesses who will broaden your perspective, allowing you to visualize opportunities.

    ————————————————————

    Five Factors That Inhibit Growth and How to Reverse Them

    1
    Women tend to start their business from an idea or passion. The “business” of running a business isn’t what’s fun and exciting to them. Their time and energy spent on “tasks” we call Urgent/Not Important…but easy or fun to do. Having a simple business plan establishes a disciplined approach, so time can be spent on the Important/Not Urgent growth activities.

    2
    As sales increase, so does the workload. Overwhelmed owners try to solve their problems with short-term solutions. They ask family or friends to “help out”, rather than find a contractor or employee with the skills needed to do the job. A bigger mistake happens when lonely owners give away a stake in their business to bring in a partner. This short sightedness leads to unanticipated problems that keep the business from moving to the next growth phase.

    3
    Sadly, many business owners stumble as they try to describe their business, let alone their Brand Promise. These are lost opportunities. Having a Brand Promise that clearly articulates what a business is and what it is not, is what drives people to you, and not your competition.

    4
    Getting the pricing right and then asking for it is a major stumbling block for women. Once the price is established based on a real cost analysis, including profit, then it must be asked for with confidence – no apologies. Too often women wiggle on price. They are quick to discount, negotiate, and give things away, then wonder why they don’t generate revenue.

    5
    Surprisingly fear of failure shows up in research on women owned businesses. I prefer to say “fear of success” caused by lack of confidence. Some owners are working so hard in their business they can’t visualize success. They don’t see themselves as a CEO, so they don’t act like one. I say, brag about your business. Let others know how proud you are. Your business is an opportunity to be amazing!


  7. February’s Featured Member: Lorri Weisen

    February 10, 2014
    Lorri Weisen

    Lorri Weisen

    Business Name:
    BeWISE Organics, LLC (formerly Greenbody Greenplanet Company)

    What is your Core Focus? What do you do?
    AHNESTI Professional Haircare:  My company creates and manufactures haircare and styling products designed by salon professionals and formulated with pure flower and plant extracts and 100% natural essential oils. All products are color protecting, sulfate-free, paraben-free, organically based, non GMO, non-toxic and safe for us and the environment.

     

    Her Company Focus:
    My company was created with a single focus in mind: The health and well-being of our hair, scalp, body and the planet—while never sacrificing personal style and beauty. I wanted to create high-performance haircare products for salons, stylists and consumers without the use of toxins and chemicals which are found so often in salon professional brands. Many think natural or organic haircare cannot perform as well as the big salon professional brands and I am out to prove that is simply not the case.

    What is a milestone that you have reached in your business that you are proud of?
    About a year ago I was focusing on expanding the line, when I discovered the trademark to Greenbody Greenplanet had never been secured. I chose to look at this as a great opportunity as I had originally started Greenbody Greenplanet as a ‘side’ company to my salon business, Hairs to You. This re-focus gave me the chance to really think about what I wanted for myself and for the future of my company and helped me to forge a well-thought-out, solid business plan.Looking back at what I have accomplished in the past 10 months, I can honestly say I am very proud. Here are a few highlights:
    • BeWISE Organics, LLC was formed this summer along with her flagship brand AHNESTI Professional Haircare
    • I hired Jay Miller from Imagehaus as my rebranding, packaging and design expert
    • I sought out a USDA Certified Organic manufacturing plant and collaborated with like-minded chemists to produce 4 new styling items that fall under my strict ingredient criteria of toxin-free, non GMO, natural, organic and biodegradable
    • I moved my office to East Hennepin Ave, and hired my first employee this past November
    • Strategically planned and implemented the phasing out of Greenbody Greenplanet and the phasing in of AHNESTI

    Where are you taking your business? What is your 5-Year Target?
    I want AHNESTI to be a household name and to be on the shelves of salons, spas and natural stores throughout the country. The company will monitor it’s growth closely and continue to grow organically for the first 1-2 years. Expansion is on the horizon but only after a strong, solid foundation has been achieved.

    What are you doing to reach your goal?
    Along with eCommerce, the AHNESTI website will provide education and resources for consumers and stylists wanting to live healthier, more toxin-free lives. We believe knowledge isn’t powerful unless it is applied and so we plan to create community outreach programs within the next 2 years. We will also be a self-distributed company. The first sales rep will be hired this spring to focus on B2B sales, i.e. salons, spas, and natural stores and more will be hired as growth continues. Monthly company assessments will insure we are always keeping the horse before the cart.

    How do you define success?
    Being an entrepreneur is at the core of who I am and I feel my business success is only mirrored by my personal success. If at the end of each day I have given love and respect to others, appreciated others instead of judging them for being different, spoken kindly about others and myself, chosen to see the beauty that surrounds me, woke up with excitement for the day and went to bed in anticipation for tomorrow —then everyday I have been successful.

    What advice do you have for our readers?
    Carve out your own path and follow it. If you are not living your own dream, you are just a part of someone else’s and may end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Ive had a quote hanging in my office for 15 years that I read out loud everyday: “Choose Your Destiny or Someone Else Will.”

    Why are you a member of The BWC? How does it help you?
    I felt the knowledge and expert advice I could receive and share with the other BWC members would help me bring my business to the next level. I love that there is structure and accountability to the meetings, without any judgement. I’ve learned how to set achievable goals and track and gauge my progress in a way that is easy and successful. As my company is growing, the tools and resources I am receiving from being a BWC member is invaluable!

    Anything else we should know?
    A salon owner for 14 years and owner of Fair Do’s at the Minnesota State Fair for 12 years, I have recently closed both business to focus on bringing AHNESTI to fruition. Go to www.AHNESTI.com for more information on the product launch!

  8. Strategy, Focus, Momentum, Discipline, Celebration

    February 3, 2014
    Myrna Marofsky
    This article first appeared in the February 2013 edition of HERLife magazine.
     

    These are the words that the successful women business owners I work with repeat as their themes each month. Five words that have become their guideposts to growing strong and sustainable businesses.

    Notice that the word action is missing. There is lots of action going on. The question is where is it getting you? What are you “so busy” doing? The trick is to spend more time working “ON” your business, so your time working “IN” is directed toward the outcomes you desire. That’s where the five words I opened with come into play. (See more below).

    Our curriculum centers around Strategy, Focus, Momentum, Discipline, Celebration. If these guideposts challenge you, you are not alone. That’s why The BWC exists. To offer you a circle of like-minded smart women who will keep you focused and hold you accountable. You will not be alone.

    ——————————————————-

    Five Guideposts To Working “ON” Your Business:

    STRATEGY. Design a roadmap for the next 12 months using three to five goals that reflect your company’s core values and the guarantee you make to your customers. The goals need to be realistic, written, reviewed, verbalized often, a stretch, yet achievable and measurable in small steps and big results.

    FOCUS. Keep your eye on your strategy. Use it as your compass and the litmus test for decisions and actions. The demise of many women owned businesses is the plethora of shiny ideas that distract them from their strategy.

    MOMENTUM. It’s hard to stop a woman business owner driven to “make it work.” Don’t look back. Don’t dwell on mistakes. Keep driving forward. Your plan will get you there.

    DISCIPLINE. Like a marathon runner training for a race, it’s the planned, repetitive, measured, activities that build your strength and endurance. The more you become disciplined, the better your end results.

    CELEBRATE. Who tells you they are “proud” of you these days? (My mother never understood what I did, so I never got it from her.) How great would it feel to hear “You rock!” from a woman who gets what a big deal your accomplishments really are?


  9. More on Big Data

    March 21, 2012

    Lani Basa

    John Jantsch recently posted an article titled “5 Ways for Small Business to Jump on the Big Data Train” on his website – Duct Tape Marketing. His article continues the trend we discussed about “Big Data” at our February Open Circle.  And, as John does – he offers great ways on how Small Business can take advantage of it now!

    5 Ways for Small Business to Jump on the Big Data Train

    By John Jantsch

    The idea of something that’s being called “Big Data” has definitely reached the trend tipping point. Tech firms like are all about it. PR firms are forming teams to promote it and consulting firms have their business technology teams all over it.

    Read the Rest at Duct Tape Marketing

     


  10. BWC Connection to Pinterest?

    March 19, 2012

    Lani Basa

    Well, maybe in a very roundabout way! Our own Sasha Westin of Fabuliss and member of Circle 3 was featured in a Fox9 News story that looked at the popularity of Pinterest – what it is, who is using it, how it is being used, etc.

    Click below to watch the story!

    What’s The Big Deal With Pinterest?: MyFoxTWINCITIES.com


The BWC