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Business Networking Tips for your Successful Start-Up



by Kyra

If you are the owner of a business or an aspiring professional, then business networking is essential for the success of your business/ career. But not all individuals/ entrepreneurs are good at it. Networking involves meeting people from different backgrounds and developing mutually beneficial relationships for the long run.

It has been found that professionals/ business owners across different sectors don't think networking is necessary and due to this practice, they are missing out on several career/ business growth opportunities. Networking can be considered a full-time job under which individuals, as well as businesses, should build a solid professional network, even before they require it.

How can a business network help individuals and businesses?

Business networking requires time and energy from both individuals and businesses. This will help to develop a good network of contacts which consists of professionals as well as firms. Networking may seem daunting to many, but it's a skill which requires an individual to be bold and confident while approaching a group of strangers, greeting them and starting engaging conversations.

In the beginning, it might seem difficult, but once it becomes a regular practice, the networker automatically improves his/her skill and this will, in turn, prove beneficial for career/ business opportunities.

Merits of Business Networking

Networking can produce exceptional results for individuals/ businesses:


For business owners:

• A business owner can increase their brand's visibility by visiting all social and business-related events which are conducted in their area or outside.

• A business owner should focus on developing an effective network of partners which will help them as well as their partners to identify new business opportunities for one another. After all, networking is a mutually beneficial practice.

• Networking is a great tool which business owners can use to conduct executive searches. This is done by approaching contacts directly or indirectly to get information about important individuals who have the potential/ experience to accelerate business growth.

• As a business owner, the focus should also be on making your presence felt in your community. A good reputation will also help in attracting and retaining talented employees.

• Try to create a diverse network of business people as well as professionals. This will help to share and learn creative ideas within that community.

• There are many business networking events which revolve around fundraising and volunteering. Such events are a great platform to build acquaintances with people working for the development of society and various other issues.

• Build a strong network with employees within your organization. This will help to get work done more smoothly and also create mutually beneficial relationships.

For individuals/ working professionals:

• Online social networking sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are a great way for individuals as well as professionals to build an online network of like-minded people. This medium will help people to share their views and ideas, and it is also suitable for those who are not comfortable in a face-to-face setting. It's up to you whether you want to create a local community or one which reaches people located all over the world.

• Build a strong network within your organization with co-workers. This will help to get work done more smoothly and also create mutually beneficial relationships.

• The best part about networking is that it also helps to build friendships. Yes, business networking is important, but making friends with that networking can help to build more trust and also makes the interaction more exciting and fun.

Final Words:

Successful business networking should never be done for achieving self-interests. While building strong network individuals as well as businesses should be focused on the needs of others and how they can be fulfilled. This will help to build trust and understanding between both partners. Also, you can rest assured that these efforts will come back to you in the most unpredictable and unexpected ways. Lastly, when the focus shifts towards others, then the networker develops a sense of self-awareness. This is the moment when individuals/ business owners can relate to the issues others might be facing, or they can also implement ideologies, strategies as well as the vision of other thinkers into their business/ career growth activities.

Author Bio:

Hiring Director at Alliance Recruitment Agency – an IT Recruitment Agency. She specializes in helping with international recruiting, staffing, CV sourcing, CEO Executive Search, HR services and Careers advice service for overseas and international businesses.

Facebook:- https://www.facebook.com/Alliancerecruitmentagency/
Twitter:- https://twitter.com/career_alliance

This is Why You Want a Woman as Your Real Estate Agent!

by Ashley Lipman

In addition to hiring a real estate agent who is business savvy and tech savvy, you should also keep one critical aspect in mind – their gender! In the current age, gender equality is being demanded increasingly.

In fact, there’s no denying that a couple of skills allow one gender to fare better than the opposite gender.

So, the question arises; what makes a female real estate agent more effective than a male agent? For starters, it’s dangerous to make blanket generalizations about genders, but you can’t deny that women make for great real estate agents. If you are still not convinced, maybe the top five reasons below on why you want a woman as your real estate agent will.

Better Communications Skills


In his 1992 best-seller, “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” author John Gray argues that each gender’s communication styles are so diverse that it’s difficult for them to understand one another. Research goes further to reinforce this notion by indicating that women process language more fluently and effectively compared to men. Female real estate agents are more adept at tailoring their communication by mirroring their language, therefore easier for them to create a deeper rapport.



Further research indicates that women are better at interpreting facial expressions and voice tones. These traits help a real estate agent who is listening to you and figuring out the real meaning of the property you want from your spoken words – an essential skill in the industry.

An Eye for Details


Ok, some men do stop and notice their wife’s new haircut the minute she goes through the door. However, overall, women are much better at noticing the details. For example, women real estate agents can notice details in a simple apartments Frisco listing that men don’t.

Furthermore, women are more likely to remember their prospects’ coffee choice, hobbies and even names of their kids or pets. On follow meets and calls, they will use the details as conversation starters, making their clients feel someone is paying attentions – establishing a connection in the process. And these connections get sales.

Stereotypes Serve a Purpose!


Unfortunately, stereotypes about women such as they are thin-skinned, prone to mood swings and overly emotional are still prevalent. Therefore, a successful female real estate agent is likely to stand out, at least to some of their prospects’ perception, as having overcome these obstacles. If she’s able to keep pace with the real estate big boys, clients may reason (unconsciously) she is good.

Persistence


While location, location, location is the key to selling a home, persistence is the number one component to closing that deal. Did you know 80 percent of sales are never closed until after the fifth or more follow up? Fortunately, women are used to been persistence to achieve what they want. It’s a possibility that this natural ability to keep asking, trying and not taking no for the final answer is hardwired in women. Whichever it is, the persistence trait serves women well, particularly when selling houses.

The Need to Prove Something


By 2017, there were only 32 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies. No matter the industry, a woman has to work harder than men not only to get ahead, but to hold her ground. When a woman goes into real estate, a male dominated industry once, you can be sure that she’s working her hardest to prove she can win.

Conclusion


These reasons may be the reason why there are more female real estate agents all over the United States. Working with a woman agent ensures that you get more money!

"How To Overcome Self Doubt, Kick Fear In The Face And Go Big" with Business Coach Nadia Finer on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Show #480

Topic: "How To Overcome Self Doubt, Kick Fear In The Face And Go Big" 

Nadia will share:

- How to overcome self-doubt and embrace your uniqueness (a.k.a. quirk). -
Finer’s quirk? A voice so little callers to her home often ask for a parent!

- How to scale your business in a way that works for you—and averts burnout.

-Strategies include packaging services, launching a membership site, automating and delegating wisely (tip: never outsource your specialty), and raising prices.


Nadia Finer is one of the UK’s most respected business coaches. She's the author of "LITTLE ME, BIG BUSINESS: How to Grow Your Small Business, Increase Your Profits and Go Global (in Your Pajamas)" published in September 2018. She understands the realities of running a one-woman business from experience.  

Nadia knows what it takes for motivated, self-started small business people to make a very comfortable living, whether it be from the comfort of home or a workstation somewhere else. Rather than courting investors and raising start-up capital, she urges  independent business persons to focus, first and foremost, on themselves. 

Once a small business person gets clear what she does best and what makes her stand out from the crowd, she can then move on to building relationships, gaining clients, and achieving the ultimate goals for any business: big profit and big impact. Nadia has been featured in media from The Guardian to Marie Claire to BBC-TV.

https://nadiafiner.com/

https://twitter.com/nadiafiner



Your Career Won’t Wake Up One Morning and Tell You It Doesn’t Love You

by Heather Hernandez

How to Get Through a Divorce and Keep Doing You


When the process of divorce is in the early stages, there are a wave of emotions. You might feel vastly relieved. You might have even felt like your marital issues were putting a crimp in your style or sabotaging your business in some way.

Divorce is a two-edged sword: a sadness over a failed marriage and a relief that you can be you again. The divorce process itself is a time of healing. It is also a time for empowerment.

Life doesn’t come to a screeching halt because you have decided to make a change in everything that is normal to you. This is especially true when you have your own business. When you are in control of making your own living, things cannot come to a sudden halt because one part of your life changed. You still need to keep moving forward. Your clients need you. Your business needs you. The fact is, you need you. As many divorced entrepreneurs can tell you: your business might be your saving grace.


Change Can Be Good


While some people are unwilling to admit or accept this, marriage in and of itself changes you, or rather you change to fit your marriage. Did it strengthen or weaken you? Did you like the changes that it brought out in you? No matter how you answer those questions, they made you think. Now think about this: What part of your marriage changed you in ways you both did and didn’t like? Who were you before you were married?

As an entrepreneur, there is one more question that needs to be asked: Who have you become since you started your own business? This is the person you need to focus on. Chances are that the person who started the business is the one who takes center stage. You no longer need to focus on taking care of your marriage. You can pour more focus on your business and make it an even greater success. But if there were good things that came from your marriage that made your business better, then hold on to them. Learn from them. Incorporate the good and walk away from the bad.


Let Your Business Heal You


What is it that drove you to start your own business? For most people, it is something that comes from deep within. Perhaps you were unhappy working for others. Perhaps you knew that you would be better on your own. Whatever drove you to start your business is also what took hold and helped you succeed. This same drive can, and will, help you get through the divorce process. Just remember that you are an entrepreneur first and one of many successful divorced entrepreneurs second.

By focusing on your business, you have little time to focus on the other things going on in your life. Your business is a part of you. It is not going anywhere. It needs you more than ever now. By putting more energy into your business, you will find yourself healing from your divorce more quickly.

Your business would not be successful if it wasn’t your primary focus. Chances are that the issues leading up to your divorce took time away from your business. Now that those distractions are being removed from your life, your business cannot help but grow.

While going through a divorce isn’t easy in any way, if your business becomes more profitable as a result of it, you will find yourself healing much more quickly than others going through the divorce process. You would not be successful if you were anything less than driven. Use that same drive to propel yourself forward with your business. The less you focus on the negative, the more the positive can come through. Positive thoughts and actions mean more money to the successful entrepreneur. By focusing on the positive, you can feel better, hold your chin up, and succeed like never before.

Probably the most important thing to remember is that you will always be you. Being divorced just gives you a better opportunity to focus on you and your business.



5 Office Ergonomics Tips to Improve Your Workplace Wellness

by Victoria Hill

Ergonomics is to the process of arranging systems, furniture, and flow of a workplace in order to help improve both comfort and efficiency for you and members of your team. It actually plays a huge role not only in productivity, creativity and even safety, plus it can also help to improve co-worker engagement and increase their levels of happiness and satisfaction.

Another huge benefit of optimizing ergonomic processes is that it can save costs, not only directly, but by helping to prevent a range of ergonomic injuries in the workplace.

There is a lot of information online relating on how to improve ergonomics in the workplace. We've selected the most powerful office ergonomics tips that can be used to update your place of work.

These changes do not necessarily cost a lot of money either, in fact, many can be made on a small budget. These simple adjustments will save your business plenty of money in the long run. Implement some of the ideas listed below and you'll sure to notice a difference in how your employee’s work habits and productivity.

1. Understand Common Injuries in The Workplace


The first step to truly optimizing any workplace is to first understand the common injuries which typically occur in this type of setting.

For example, in offices, you can expect to see repetitive strain injury things like back pain from poorly designed chairs, as well as musculoskeletal disorders, tissue damage, eye issues, and even spinal disc issues.

Of course, the type of issues will vary depending on the type of workplace you have. So for example, office workers will be more prone to different injuries compared to people that work as mechanics.

Understand the issues in your sector and you will be much more likely to create an optimised and safe work environment for your staff and yourself. A great to research is to simply ask your employees what issues they are having at work, what could be improved, what do they think needs changing?

2. Pay Attention to the Four Points of Contact


Once you have identified the main challenges within the workplace, you can then go about creating solutions for them. One of the most popular models when it comes to ergonomics is called the ‘four points of contact’ model.

This applies to anyone who works in some sort of office setting. The four points of contact are;

● The eyes to the source which refers to the way that the computer screen is positioned in relation to the office worker’s face and eyes.
● The body to the chair, and this is also related to the seating area.
● The hands to the input device which refers to the mouse and keypad.
● The feet to the floor.

3. Know What to Consider When Buying Office Furniture


Nowadays, almost all office furniture is labelled as ergonomic, so it can be confusing to know what would be best for your work as needs. However, there are a few things to take into consideration. You can take these considerations and adjust them into your own checklist.

● All chairs should be able to offer a height adjustment option.
● All chairs should offer padded backrest that can tilt both forward and backwards and has adequate lumbar support.
● Any piece of furniture that is in the workplace station should be adjustable and have enough space for employees to safely and efficiently perform their tasks.
● Standing on your feet too long can sometimes create a variety of foot problems, so be aware of this if you want to replace seated desks for standing ones. Consider using the sit-stand ones (sit-stand-active ones would be the best) that allow you and you team members to use both functions interchangeably.
● Make sure that monitors have adjustable brightness and contrast settings, and are free from any form of flickering which causes eye issues.
● You may want to think about bringing in some extra furniture such as footrests to improve comfort, headsets or even better lighting in the office space.

4. Educate Your Staff about Good Posture


You can also help to better your office ergonomics by training up your staff. There are a number of different types of training that can help to educate your staff on how to best use their equipment and their bodies to prevent injury.

It is important that employees know to frequently take a small break - even if it's just to stretch their body. Educate them how long to stand if they’re using the standing desk, how to use a sit-stand desk, as well as to mix up their movements so they're not doing the same thing again and again day after day is this it can cause injury regardless of what type of equipment they are using.

5. Add Some Light Workout Sessions


You can also try things like having weekly yoga teachers come in and teach yoga classes to help your employees move their body.

Pilates on the mat is also very good choice. Mat Pilates is a way to stretch and strengthen your body, primarily the muscles of the core, which span from your hips to your shoulders. This should improve the body composition and lessen chances of getting injured from sitting for long hours.

There are also things like meditation classes which can encourage more efficiency and productivity too.

Follow the above tips and you'll be making a huge change to your workplace ergonomics. And remember, these systems and techniques are continuously changing updating as more and more data on the study of ergonomics is released. So be sure to review and renew your systems at least on an annual basis.


About the Author: Victoria Hill has been writing as a ghostwriter ever since she was in college. Her favorite topics are human development, business communication, modern and pop art, minimalism, and self-development.

How to Get More Positive Online Reviews (and Deal with the Negative)

Whether you’re starting a new business or an established business owner with loyal customers, online reviews play an important role to success. Online reviews, whether positive or negative, can be the deciding factor for your customers to choose your business over another. Reviews give consumers the social proof to make a decision to purchase and trust in your business.

As a business owner, it’s important to maintain a positive review presence and take the time to respond and engage with your customers. Use every review as an opportunity to understand your customer’s pain points and discover how you can improve your product or service. You also have the opportunity to start a unique conversation with your customers and be honest and transparent to correct a mistake or situation. To help you get started, Valpak outlines twelve helpful tips to gain positive online reviews and helpful approach to respond to negative reviews in their visual below.



how-to-get-more-positive-online-reviews

Author & Chronic Pain Advocate, Nancy Laracy on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Show #481

Nancy Laracy is a writer and activist for the elderly and disabled individuals. She is a wife and mother who suffers from a mixed connective tissue disease and fibromyalgia.

An advocate and resource for the chronic pain community since being diagnosed in 1996, Nancy has written and been the subject of many articles on the topic of chronic pain as well as pet therapy. She is involved in formal bunny therapy at various rehabilitation centers & hospitals in northern New Jersey.

A former corporate recruiting and human resources executive, she resides in New Jersey with her husband Ward, son Christopher, daughter Julie, and her current bunny named Muffin.

Her book, "Bunny Boy & Me" is #1 on Amazon Books for the categories of Pain Management and Pets.

Bunny Boy And Me, My Triumph Over Chronic Pain With The Help Of The Unluckiest, Luckiest Rabbit is a memoir about the relationship formed between a house trained family pet rabbit and its owner who both suffered with the pain of autoimmune disease.

Nancy pioneered the first branch of Bunnies in Baskets in NJ, a 5013c charity.  She is also a member of LAPAN, The Leaders Against Pain Action Network, a branch of the National Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Association.  She does national advocacy work and writes continually for publications related to chronic pain.  Her unique bunny therapy has expanded quickly and she now does big events for children through organizations such as Cancer Care, Camp Dreamstreet and several others.

Nancy has written for or been the subject of articles in magazines such as Arthritis Today, Pain Pathways, Pain View, Rabbits USA and Clio's Psyche.


https://www.nancylaracy.com/


Listen on Podomatic:
https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2018-11-28T04_00_00-08_00


Subscribe on iTunes:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/women-entrepreneurs-radio/id939410730?mt=2


Listen on Libsyn:
http://womenentrepreneursradio.libsyn.com/author-chronic-pain-advocate-nancy-laracy








Giving Tuesday - A Global Giving Movement

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.

Celebrated on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving (in the U.S.) and the widely recognized shopping events Black Friday and Cyber Monday, #GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving.

One of the best ways to get involved is in your own community. We've created a directory to help you find organizations, charities, events and more in your own community. - from the Giving Tuesday website https://www.givingtuesday.org/

Visit the website to find out how to get involved and see a list of participating organizations and global campaigns.


Listen to a Women Entrepreneurs Radio interview with Megan Shea, the Co-Founder of The Soulfull Project, a startup company dedicated to making high-quality, wholesome food available to those in need.

For every serving of their delicious multi-grain hot cereal purchased, they donate a serving of their 4 Grain Blend to a food bank in your region. Megan and Co-founder Chip Heim, were inspired to take action after witnessing firsthand the severity of food insecurity in our country.

The Soulfull Project hot cereal comes in cups and multi-serve re-sealable bags. Cup flavors include

– Cinnamon Spice, Blueberry Almond, Brown Sugar Pecan and Tart Cherry and bags come in 4 Grain Blend and Hearty Grains & Seeds. Every hot cereal is made with nutrient dense ingredients such as steel cut oats, rye, quinoa, nuts, flax and chia and are all Non-GMO Project verified and Whole Grain Stamp approved.

The company has donated more than 100,000 servings to food banks across the country and recently became a Certified B Corporation.

https://thesoulfullproject.com/


Listen on Podomatic:

https://www.podomatic.com/podcasts/dbcoach/episodes/2017-11-27T04_00_00-08_00


Subscribe on iTunes:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/women-entrepreneurs-radio/id939410730?mt=2


Listen to the archived show on Libsyn: 

http://womenentrepreneursradio.libsyn.com/megan-shea-co-founder-of-the-soulfull-project

How to Find the Perfect Mentor

The road to success is often not traveled alone. In fact, some 80% of CEOs say that they received mentorship in one form or another. How can you find the best mentor to give you entrepreneurial advice?

It only takes a few simple steps to finding your perfect mentor. First and foremost, you must define your goals and identify who you admire. Once you’ve completed this task, you can ask questions and evaluate whether or not a potential adviser fits your style. When you find a suitable candidate, strengthen your relationship with them and make the ask.

Whether your mentor guides you in finding small business funding or maintaining healthy client relationships, they play an essential role in the success of your startup. It was recently discovered that businesses who worked with mentors increased their revenue by as much as 83%.

There is no need to be nervous to ask someone to be your mentor. Mentorships usually evolve from professional friendships, so it’s likely that you already have a good rapport with the person you intend to ask. Furthermore, it’s common to have multiple mentors over the course of your career.

The visual below, provided by Fundera, explains the eight steps to acquiring a mentor. It also includes quotes from famous mentees, including Oprah Winfrey. Consider finding a mentor before you get too far into your business endeavor.



How to Find the Perfect Mentor

Support Small Business Saturday®


November 24th is Small Business Saturday®, a day to celebrate and support the local small businesses that boost the economy and invigorate neighborhoods across the country.

The Secrets of Success blog is proud to take part in Small Business Saturday, and we’re encouraging everyone to Shop Small® today!


Shop for Books

Visit my author page on Amazon.com to see my selection of business books, novels and audiobooks published through my indie publishing company, Bright Street Books.

http://www.amazon.com/author/deborahannbailey 


Shop for online courses for small business owners & entrepreneurs

Online courses and resources to support you in business and in your personal goals.
Visit the school to see the selection of courses available. I’m sharing my content and resources from my in-person and online presentations to business groups and non-profits.

https://secrets-of-success.teachable.com/



Recommended: Marketing Courses for Small Businesses by Melissa Forziat




"These courses are designed to address the beats of the questions I often get. They are presented logically and offer in-depth exercises and guided instruction with videos, blogs, visuals, and worksheets. They cater to all different learning styles. They are self-paced and accommodate your tight schedule.

This is why I developed online courses for small business marketers. I believe these courses will level the playing field for the small businesses – and microbusinesses – out there that want to succeed." - Melissa Forziat



Make today your day to Shop Small, and let’s make it the biggest day of the year for small business.



5 Tips for Setting Healthy Boundaries

by Chris Atley

Having boundaries in relationships are an important part of self-care, because what we allow ourselves to give and receive are crucial for our own well being and for that of others. It comes back down to self-love.

Boundaries are about taking control of your personal space, thoughts and time. We are allowed to give ourselves permission on how we spend our time, and whom we spend it with.

Having healthy boundaries means it’s okay to say no to relationships and events not in alignment with our values, and yes to people and experiences that fill us up.
Here are 5 tips to setting healthy boundaries.

1. Be okay with saying no. It’s okay to say no to others. I remember reading something Life Coach, Cheryl Richardson once wrote. She said, "if it’s not an absolute yes, it’s a no". It’s empowering to live by this motto when deciding whether or not to do something. Another great way is to check in to see if it’s in alignment with your values.

Take some time to figure out what they are first if you haven’t already, with some examples being; family, financial security, fun, spirituality, etc. It makes it easier to say no to something when it’s not in alignment with your values. I like to call this a gut check. You will know in your gut if it’s the right opportunity / experience for you to participate in. Don’t do things because you think you “should”.

2. Know that being afraid to say no comes from not waiting to hurt other people’s feelings and caring what others think. Having the awareness around this is key. It’s okay to take a stand for your own life and business. This is how you are going to create the life you are wanting. If others aren’t okay with you saying no, then they’re likely not people with whom you want to associate with anyway.

3. Find the language that will work for you. Decide on a sentence that will be your go to when you are not interested in doing what someone is asking of you. It could be something like, “I’m sorry that doesn’t work for me; or that’s not something I’m interested in, but I will think of others who might benefit”. Then practice it often. I remember when I first started coaching, one of our assignments was to say no at least once a week. It starts to feel more and more comfortable as you practice.

4. Your time is everything personally and professionally, and you need to spend it wisely. If you are looking to satisfy some type of dysfunctional need then you are not going to make the best choices with your time. Dig deep into what is really going on underneath the desire to say yes - ask yourself what you are really getting out of this? Is it the need to fix, be liked, etc.? Realize if it’s coming form a place of self-love or self-lack.

When you do say yes to an appointment or commitment, stay true to your yes and see it through. Do not let outside circumstances or other people’s agendas sway you. This is about staying true to yourself and your values, and this is why it’s important to watch what types of commitments you are making in the first place.

5. Value yourself enough to include time for yourself and your growth in your calendar. This will help you with your overall quality of life. Treat this time like it’s a plane flight you cannot miss! This way you will not create an excuse or story around not doing it.

Watch yourself thrive as you start to take control back over your time by setting healthy boundaries. You will feel empowered and realize it wasn’t as scary as you thought, and well worth it with the happiness it brings :-)

And when your cup is full, you will have more to give to others too! Just pay attention to what you’re filling your cup up with! Much love xoxo


Written by Success Speaker & Coach Chris Atley, CEO of Chris Atley LLC ~ Decisions by Design. For complimentary success tips for business and life, please visit www.chrisatley.com.

Picture credit:

unsplash-logorawpixel

How She Does It: Shirin Behzadi CEO, Home Franchise Concepts

Shirin Behzadi joined Budget Blinds as Chief Financial Officer in 1999, providing fiscal, strategic and operational guidance for Budget Blinds and the continually growing family of brands, including Tailored Living, Home Franchise Concepts, BB Commercial Solutions, Inspired Drapes, Concrete Craft and MADE Blinds.

She oversaw prudent management of the National Advertising Fund (NAF) across all brands, helping to ensure that the dollars worked hard for our franchisees.

Additionally, Shirin managed several departments and has been a critical member of the project management team, researching, planning, and creating Home Franchise Concepts and its subsidiary companies.

Today, as CEO of Home Franchise Concepts, Shirin leads the executive team to direct all aspects of the company’s operations to expand the family of brands to become the largest retailers in the home improvement space.

Deb Bailey: Welcome to the Secrets of Success blog, Shirin. How did you get started as an entrepreneur?

Shirin Behzadi: My “start” as an entrepreneur wasn’t necessarily conventional. I began my career with Ernst & Young’s financial services group as a CPA, working with the company’s financial services client base including multinational and national corporations and individuals. But, despite success in one position, I’ve learned as an entrepreneur to always be open to new opportunities.

From there, I went to an E&Y client, an Orange County, Calif., mortgage bank, to serve as CFO, where I was responsible for servicing a $1 billion portfolio. In attention to being involved in the operation of the bank’s 22 branches, I helped negotiate the sale and transition of the bank to a larger institution.

It was then that I realized my passion for helping to grow businesses – so I decided to fill a gap in the marketplace for professional financial management for small-to-medium-sized companies. It was in this capacity as an offsite CFO consultant that I was introduced to Budget Blinds in 1999. What began as a short-term consulting project grew into me becoming CFO and one of five Budget Blinds principals.

I’ve been involved in Budget Blinds – and eventually Home Franchise Concepts and our sister brands Tailored Living and Concrete Craft – ever since. In 2015, I oversaw the negotiations to secure an equity partnership for Home Franchise Concepts with a New York private equity company at which time I became CEO.

So, you can see the importance of being open to new opportunities, no matter where they may be leading you.


Deb: Are there any “lessons learned” that you’d like to share?

Shirin: There are three lessons that come to mind:

1) Recognize what’s most important to you and follow that. Being an entrepreneur means you have an opportunity to link your income to what matters most to you. This is something that most people don’t get the chance to pursue. I’ve found that my biggest success comes when I stay within my personal sweet spot – which, for me, is helping other entrepreneurs find the franchise opportunity that fits them best while striking the work-life balance that’s the cornerstone of my life. This is why we’re so eager to bring the same work-life balance or any other personal goals our franchisees have to fruition.

2) Don’t let others discourage you. Entrepreneurs and franchisees are a special breed of people that are comfortable with a measured level of calculated risk in exchange for financial and personal freedom and the prospect of something much better. Many may not understand or may be too fearful to pursue their own dreams. Often, these discouraging words are more about them than they are about you. Don’t take those comments to heart. Follow your path as paved by many.

3) Give Back. Probably the most valuable lesson I’ve learned is the importance of following your moral compass and doing right by others. I firmly believe that HFC brands have been able to meet aggressive growth goals precisely because they care about their customers, franchisees, employees and communities. We can never forget there is a very direct relationship between doing good and doing well.

Earlier this year, we launched Heart & Home, a long-term commitment to caring and giving-back to transform the lives of individuals through ongoing national partnerships and local, community efforts. The initiative is an extension of HFC’s long involvement with veteran causes and other nonprofit groups.

As part of this, HFC renewed its partnership with Home for our Troops (HFOT), to which it has donated nearly $1 million in products, services and cash gifts through a five-year alliance that began in 2014.

Beyond this corporate support, the company has inspired its franchise owners to donate to HFOT at the local level – with some franchisees contributing as much as $45,000 in a single year.
We also renewed our alliance with Wounded Warriors Canada to help even more veterans and others in need realize their dreams of obtaining work, career advancement, homeownership and the ability to transition to civilian life after military service.

In addition, we just launched Budget Blinds Cares (#BudgetBlindsCares) in October, a three-month long initiative under our largest brand that reflects our give-back culture and is the largest community service initiative in HFC’s history. It spotlights Budget Blinds local business owners who give back on three local levels – to their communities, customers and customers’ homes – and includes a video-sharing contest to celebrate the most caring franchisees in the company.

And finally, we launched a new effort with Working Wardrobes called Give Me $5, a fundraising program that provides veterans and others looking for work with career training, job placement assistance, professional wardrobe services and spending money to get to job training, workshops and interviews.


Deb: Who are your company's ideal clients?

Shirin: All of us at Home Franchise Concepts are committed to working with other enterprising individuals, even if they don’t yet consider themselves entrepreneurs, to empower then to realize their business-ownership goals. These would-be entrepreneurs are Home Franchise Concepts’ ideal clients – and they are open to the latest trends in the home products and service space that will fuel their future.


Deb: What are some of your successes and challenges?

Shirin: We celebrated our 25th anniversary year in 2017 by hitting some major milestones for each brand. We successfully reached our goal of 2.6 million Budget Blinds window-covering installations for 2017 (and 25 million installations since Budget Blinds’ founding year of 1992) at a record pace of 50,000 per week. Budget Blinds now operates more than 1,140 franchise territories across 10,000 cities in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

From its inception through the end of 2017, Tailored Living organized more than 245,000 lives and Concrete Craft installed more than 3 million square feet of decorative concrete.

I’m proud to be ushering HFC into its next chapter with Heart & Home. Our goal for 2018 is to impact 300,000 families by transforming homes and giving families a sense of calm, dignity and pride. This is a challenge that we’re excited to meet.


Deb: What inspires you to do the work you do?

Shirin: As an entrepreneur, I always knew I wanted to chart my own course instead of following the path of others. I’m especially motivated to help others with similar dreams move beyond the conventional 9-to-5 to take control of their financial futures and their lives.

Probably what inspires me most is the ability to not only change financial futures but to change lives. In addition to Heart & Home at the corporate level, our remarkable franchisees are regularly changing the lives of those in their communities. Our people prove it every day: there really is no place like HFC.”

I’m especially inspired by franchisees like U.S. Marine Corps veteran Sohel Gilani. On Veteran’s Day, Nov. 11, 2017, HFC awarded Gilani with a Concrete Craft franchise plus two-weeks training and $80,000 in operating capital. The new business package, valued at more than $300,000, represented the culmination of HFC’s “There’s No Place Like Home Veteran Partnership and Giveaway.”

Said Gilani: “Throughout my military service, I witnessed things that no one should ever have to see. It was a constant internal struggle for me and, honestly, I felt as through my faith in humanity was slipping away. But winning this HFC program has restored my faith in humanity and reaffirmed what I have always known to be true. When you stay true to yourself, the kindness of others will prevail.”


Deb: What’s your vision for your business?

Shirin: My vision is to work with my team to continue to offer our franchisees the ideal environment in which they can take control of their lives and futures to achieve their professional (and even personal) goals. We also envision adding to our 1,400+ franchise base with motivated individuals from all stages in life – from work-at-home parents and Millennials looking for an alternative to the 9-to-5 to seniors and veterans eager to transition into civilian life.

Beyond that, my vision is to continue to evolve as a corporate and franchise family centered on caring and making our communities vibrant and full of hope. At HFC, caring and giving back will also be in our DNA.


Deb: Thanks for joining us, Shirin. Please share website and social media URLs.

Shirin: Enjoyed it, Deb. Here are the URLs.

Website: www.homefranchiseconcepts.com
Facebook URL: https://www.facebook.com/HomeFranchiseConcepts/

Listen to Shirin Behzadi's interview on Women Entrepreneurs Radio: http://womenentrepreneursradio.libsyn.com/shirin-behzadi-chief-executive-officer-of-home-franchise-concepts


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