The Rule of Three

Here's another excerpt from Maria Ross' new book, Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press).

By Maria Ross 

Maria Ross is the founder and chief strategist of Red Slice ( a branding and marketing consultancy based in Seattle. She has advised start-ups, solopreneurs, non-profits and even large enterprises on how to craft their brand story to engage, inform and delight customers. The following is an excerpt from her new book, Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget (2010, Norlights Press).

When putting together your marketing plan, it’s important to know where your ideal buying audience goes. Try to be in those places. And so you don’t lose your sanity trying to promote and advertise everywhere, go deep rather than broad. By this I mean identify a few key publications, websites, or events that are exactly the right fit for you and create an integrated marketing package with each ad sales rep. Most small businesses don’t have the budget to do a lot of advertising and marketing in every single place their ideal customer might be. So pick a few partners and try to do as much as you can with each one, versus a one-time shot across many different vehicles.

I call this following the Rule of Three. In a given month or quarter, depending on your budget, focus on three publications, three website partners, three events, etc. Engaging in fewer activities, but more of the right ones, will be more effective for you than skipping a stone across the lake and barely making a splash with each marketing vehicle. For example, you might partner with a website that fits your audience profile and negotiate the following add-ons:

* a dedicated email to their subscriber base

* exposure at an event or webcast they’re sponsoring

* online ads in different forums over a three or six month period, rather than just once

* permission to write an article or blog post on a brand-related topic.

Many ad sales reps are delighted to get creative and you can put a multi-touch or integrated marketing program in place to get your brand and promise in front of the right people multiple times and in multiple ways.

Praise for Branding Basics for Small Business

“As someone who has worked with thousands of small businesses, I have seen a lack of a clear, focused brand strategy cause people to waste time, energy, money and flounder in the marketplace. Never fear, Maria breaks down branding so that anyone with a business, or who is thinking of launching a business, can understand why an investment in branding is make or break for creating a thriving business. Don’t launch without it!”

- Beth Schoenfeldt, Co-Founder, Collective-E, an Entrepreneur’s Agency and Community

“In today’s social economy, every business is a brand, regardless of size. And when Ross states that every new hire is a brand ambassador, she proves unequivocally that she ‘gets it’. The question small business owners must ask is if they want to be the ones controlling that brand or the ones left to salvage it. In this book, you’ll learn how to nail down your brand before you spend valuable resources on marketing and people that simply don’t fit your company’s core values.  Your brand is more than just a logo.It’s everything you are and the ticket to positive ROI.”

- Lisa Barone, Chief Branding Officer, Outspoken Media

“You’ve got such a wide and clear scope on what makes successful brands so… successful. Great coverage. And great inspiration to be true to your values and think big.”

- Danielle LaPorte, creator of, lead author of Style Statement: Live by Your Own Design

Shattering Five Branding Myths

by Maria Ross

Excerpt from: "Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget." 

When people think branding, they often just think it’s a logo or business card. Or they think of the opposite extreme like Apple or Virgin and assume they will never have the budgets to “brand effectively.” While dazzling branding is more than just pretty pictures, it also is something that is easily attainable, if businesspeople put the right thought and effort into it. Dispelling five popular myths about branding is key to starting that process and transforming your business.

Myth #1: Branding is hard

Branding is not rocket science. It simply requires focused thought about what you want your business to stand for and to whom, and then a commitment to communicate that message through everything you do visually and experientially. With my clients, I offer a simple 10 step process to building a firm brand strategy. But once built, you are never “done” nor do you ever stop being a steward for your brand once all the processes, websites and logos are in place. You need to constantly be vigilant and regularly do a “system check” on your materials, business practices, customer service and messaging to ensure your brand is clear and consistent. You also just need to commit to living your values and ensuring all of your employees and partners can verbalize and live those values as well.

Myth #2: Branding is expensive

Effective branding can be done on any budget. I’ve worked with $12 million dollar budgets and $1000 budgets. The real key to effective branding is making sure you have your ideal audience detailed out and that your business messages speak directly to their needs and the benefits they value. Once you have those thoughts together, you can then work more effectively with a designer to put together your logo or website experience and a writer to craft your brochure and website messaging.

Consistency and clarity in messaging (visual and verbal) is what makes a brand effective and creates rabid fans and evangelists, not how much money you spend promoting it. So if you can only spend $200 on a logo, you can still ensure it communicates exactly what you want to whom you want. True, you may not be able to do multi-million ad campaigns or sponsor extravagant sporting events. But with clear, consistent and strong messages, you ensure that even those 3 or 4 activities you can afford to do are laser-focused.

In addition, since brand is more than just your logo or advertising, you can live your brand through aligned corporate policies and processes. You can easily and cheaply craft a voicemail message or email signature that furthers that brand. You can extend the brand to free social media that captures customers with limited dollars. And you can ensure your product or service quality and price maps consistently to your brand promise. Those are all things you need to do anyway to run your business, so you may as well align them to a strong brand for maximum “oomph.”

Myth #3: Branding is Just Fluff

Brand equity can make or break a company. And if you think branding has no financial impact, just ask private equity firms who “buy” brands for billions of dollars, all for the brand cache or loyal customer base. It’s the reason people will pay 3 times as much for a white t-shirt at Nordstrom than they would at Target. Brand translates into bottom-line sales when done effectively. You can’t deny that if you build a strong foundation and communicate it to the right people at the right time, you will attract just the interested customer you seek.  In addition, a strong brand guides all the other marketing decisions that fuel your company’s growth: where to advertise, who to partner with, how to price your product, etc.

Myth #4: All Designers are the Same

All designers and branding firms are not the same. While you can save lots of money thinking through a brand strategy on your own before you engage with a designer on communicating anything visually, some designers get it and some don’t. And sometimes, you do get what you pay for in this regard. If you are talking to a designer who does not ask who your target audience is or what you are trying to convey to them through your visual elements – merely asking you what colors or concepts you “like” – you need to run the other way.

While you might be only spending $100 on them and think it’s a steal, you will lose more in sales and customers by not communicating the right message visually. Good designers understand how imagery, font, color and spacing impact the subconscious connections people will make about your company and what it offers. And they should be experienced enough to make some clear recommendations in that regard. It’s worth it to spend a bit more on this if you can and work with someone good who asks about your brand and your ideal customer.

Myth #5: Branding Works Immediately

Branding and direct response marketing are two different things. People need to experience your brand multiple times before it sticks.   You will need to have it out there, present in all of your customer touchpoints, before being able to decide if it works or not.  Branding is about awareness and “mindshare” – what spaces do you occupy in people’s minds when they see your logo or hear your name. This takes time to build. The Nike swoosh did not have meaning within the first 3 months it appeared.

Avoid the temptation to change branding every few months in an effort to chase quarterly sales growth. Yes, if you get feedback that things are not working, you should make changes, but hopefully, you will have put the upfront thought and effort into the brand strategy and messaging before implementing it, so that maybe only slight tweaks are required.  Branding and messaging can be refreshed over time – but not before customers get a chance to respond to it. And while you might be sick of your brand and messaging after 3 months, remember, your potential customers may not even have seen it yet, with all the noise that is in the marketplace.

© Copyright 2009-2010, Red Slice LLC.  All other companies or works cited remain the copyright of their respective owners.

About the Author: 

Maria Ross is the founder and chief strategist of Red Slice ( a branding and marketing consultancy based in Seattle. She has advised start-ups, solopreneurs, non-profits and even large enterprises on how to craft their brand story to engage, inform and delight customers. Maria is the author of,  Branding Basics for Small Business: How to Create an Irresistible Brand on Any Budget  (2010, Norlights Press).


Fey Ugokwe, Esq on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Fey Ugokwe, Esq. is the pioneering founder of Pink Purse International, a growing, high-tech multimedia and marketing networking group dedicated to the career, business, and personal interests of all women, and the dynamic host of its tandem, highly popular radio show, "The PPI Women of Power Hours", on BlogTalkRadio, ever the fave haunt of influential women Guests from around the globe.

Ms. Ugokwe is also an Attorney, Arbitrator, Mediator, and Coach who specializes in Divorce, Domestic Partnerships, and Family disputes. She received her B.A. in Political Science, with a concentration in Pre-Law, from the prestigious Wellesley College, in Wellesley, MA, a Seven Sister school for women, and received her J.D., with a designation as an Edward F. Hennessey Scholar, from the renowned Boston University School of Law, in Boston, MA. Ms. Ugokwe also notes her matriculation from Mount St. Joseph Preparatory School for Girls in Flourtown, PA as a guiding force in her rich academic experience.

A first-generationer on both sides, with a pioneering mother from global South America, and a father from West Africa, Ms. Ugokwe is personally influenced by the intersection of gender, race, and culture, and thereby remains ever dedicated in her mission to assist the aims of women in their daily lives.
Pink Purse International


Are You Ready to SHINE?

Presented by: Ali Brown
Date: Nov 2 - 4, 2010
Location: Las Vegas, NV

The core of the whole SHINE experience is the genuine, cutting-edge business training that's built in to the conference from the moment you walk in the door. With sessions like "Marketing 911 - Best Practices That Are Rescuing Small Business Owners in the New Economy" and "Branding YOU: Step-by-Step Secrets to Branding Your Business for Maximum Impact and Sales," you can tell that Ali is serious about backing you up with real, usable training that's backed up with real-world experience and results.

You can learn more here:

Take a look at the HUGE list of business-related topics they'll be covering with the main stage and breakout sessions at SHINE, including:

* Getting more clients
* Social media marketing
* Business models
* Developing information products
* Business systems for exponential growth
* Marketing in the New Economy
* Passive income streams
* Copywriting
* Hiring, managing and leading your team
* Reinventing your business
* Branding

You can learn more here:

It's like getting the best, usable parts of a college MBA in only 3 days. The networking, inspirational keynote speakers and real-world business savvy is like the sugar on top!

Due to popular demand, Ali's extended her Bring-a-Friend pricing offer a little longer. So you can have someone close to your business join you at no extra cost (and share the accommodation and expenses while you're there, too). Ali's doing everything she can to make SHINE 2010 a fantastic business resource.

Head here to get more info about the entrepreneurial event of the year:

How to Keep Your Business Secure

by Shannon Suetos

Every business has secrets they do not want the competition to find out about. These secrets are guarded through different methods. In the modern age, one of the most obvious ways to protect your information is to protect your computer. You are likely to have firewall protection as well as protection against viruses and other security threats. While this will help to protect a lot of your information, it will not do the trick to protect all of your information. If you are looking at complete business security, you will also have to do something to protect the security of your copier.

Office copiers have evolved since they were first invented. They no longer copy the image directly to the next piece of paper. They perform functions like collating, sorting, front and back copies and serve as network printers as well. The standard copier used in an office does far more than just copy papers. As the copier does more, there is more need for some kind of data storage. This storage capability – while beneficial to you when printing and making copies – can create a significant security risk.

It is important to understand how digital copiers work so that you will understand how your information might be compromised. Modern copiers use hard drives so that information is stored while jobs are backed up or while multiple users send assignments to the copier to use it as a printer. The hard drive is designed to be temporary storage of information. The only problem is that the information is not always wiped clean from the hard drive. When large jobs are sent to the printer, they sit on the hard drive until a new job comes along to take up the hard drive space. This means that if someone looks at the hard drive later, they will discover your information.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the copiers used in most offices do not have any kind of firewall protection. They are susceptible to being hacked by anyone who wants to gain access to the hard drive. This is because your network is hooked up to the printer. This is done through the wires in your office, but they are accessible through the modem lines. Wireless copiers are especially vulnerable to attack.

Protecting your copier doesn’t end while it is in your office. Before replacing your copier, it is a good idea to either rewrite the entire hard drive or to destroy the hard drive. This is the only way you can be completely sure that the information stored on it will not be available to anyone else. This can either be through the company you bought it from or through third party industrial shredders. If you are unsure whether your copier has a hard drive, contact the manufacturer.

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as phone systems & VoIP service at Resource Nation.

Wellbeing While on the Go

by Janet Gomez

When you are on the go, for whatever reason, you are not in your normal environment or rhythm. These changes can produce a certain amount of stress in the body. It is well known that stress leads to a number of health and, especially, digestive problems.

What might start as indigestion may later lead to more serious dis -ease. on the go
In Ayurveda, indigestion is considered to be the basis of all physical disease.

My clients often  ask me for ideas of what they can do when they are constantly on the go to have a vitality-producing diet. Many travel a lot and frequently find themselves having to "make do" with the food on offer. The result is flagging energy, not the best way to spend the day in any situation but certainly not when you've got business clients to meet or simply want to enjoy the place you're visiting.

What's the key to having a better quality of health, even when you're on the go? It's simply all about preparation and planning. Let me guide you on this path with the following seven secrets:

   1. Educate yourself in advance by attending/arranging cooking classes, reading literature and/or working with a health professional.
   2. Reduce your intake of refined foods i.e. processed food, stale food, sugary food in excess.
   3. Eat until you are satisfied but not until you are full. According to Ayurveda, the proportions would be as follows- 1/2 food, 1/4 water/fluid, 1/4 empty stomach.
   4. Eat when feel hungry because you'll have more digestive juices to digest your meal (the best time for your largest meal is between noon and 2pm).
   5. Eat freshly cooked organic local food where possible to have a light and balanced feeling to and derive more energy from your food.
   6. Be thankful for every meal you eat - your attitude and intention are important in the digestion process.
   7. Remember everything can nourish (food, air, water, environment, sun) at a physical, mental and spiritual level.

Janet Gomez, nutritional consultant, produces the "Nutri-Jyoti News", a free bi-monthly e-newsletter for busy professionals. Feel ready to learn how to use nutritional strategies to manage your energy levels? Then sign up for her FREE e-course "5 Nutritional Keys to Vitality in your Life" on the Nutri-Jyoti home page now.

Copyright © 2010 All rights reserved Janet Gomez

Get the Media Attention You Deserve: No More Waiting to See Your Name in Ink

business woman holding a cell phone
by Kristin Marquet

Publicity is more credible than advertising because it isn't paid for directly by the company or person, while advertising space is. 

Public Relations specialists can't control the size of a write up as much as advertisers can.

When your product, service, name, or company is in ink, it can generate great media attention, which is why billions of dollars are spent on PR every year.

When targeting specific publications, you should not send out mass emails with pitches and press releases because it is considered spamming.  Each pitch needs to be tailored to meet the audience of the publication.

In email pitches and press releases, make sure the subject line is relevant because you want to make sure the email gets opened.  The press release is one of the most cost efficient ways to generating publicity when you have a targeted media list.

Keep the press release short and concise.  Don't use flowery and ornate language.  Media professionals want news; not to read the greatest piece of literature since Tolstoy.  Remember, editors/journalists have no obligation to run your story.

Make sure you press release follows the correct format.  Stay tuned for next week's lesson in formatting a press release.

As I mentioned last week, contact one reporter/journalist at a time.  In your pitch, reference an article the journalist/reporter wrote.  Recently, I was putting a publicity campaign for one of my new products.  I sent out four pitches to four different publications two weeks ago, and landed three feature story interviews.

Make your media contact's job easier by telling them how your company can help their audience or why your company is relevant to a certain trend.  If the contact doesn't use it right away, they may call on you in the future, when a certain trend becomes popular.

Conduct case studies from clients.  Ask your clients how your product or service has helped them.  Ask for testimonials.  Incorporate case studies and testimonials into your pitch.  This will make your release more believable and newsworthy as well as make the journalist's life easier (we will teach you how to draft a solid pitch in an upcoming lesson).

Never send a pitch or press release as an attachment, unless the journalist or reporter asks for it.  Send all text in a plain text email.

Make sure you follow up in a timely manner.

Test your pitch with one or two journalists. You can email or call the journalist. Keep the pitch to three or four sentences at most if you call. And a few bullet points later.

If possible, address the editor by his or her first and last name.

Remember, journalists find many of their stories from regular people/businesses, so it is your job to pitch them accordingly.  Just don't make your news self-serving.

With a no B.S. attitude, Kristin Marquet is the founder and managing director of Creative Development Agency (formerly award-winning firm, Marquet Media). Kristin also develops, manages, and implements various internal and external communication and social media initiatives. With a strong eye for creating memorable brands and a diverse range of knowledge, Kristin provides strategic counsel to clients interested in developing successful internal and external communication programs across all media platforms.

Kristin Marquet is a regular contributor to the Secrets of Success blog. 

Photo credit:

Magical Marketing - Learning the Ropes From Mickey

by Paula Pollock
After returning from a week in the heat and rain of Florida theme park hopping, I wanted to share my marketing take-aways from my consumer experience. Some are pretty obvious, but since we can all learn from other businesses I wanted to share something fun at the end of the summer. Here's my 2cents from my Disney, Universal and Cape Kennedy visits.


Make it Easy for me to Buy -  Parents like photos of their kids having fun. Disney is the best at this, but they can get in your face a little. My favorite was the gal at Blizzard Beach water park who took photos of kids crossing fake icebergs under a rope bridge. She would place a rubberband with a laminated ticket for you to see your photo. No one is carrying a camera in a water park. Perfect!

Keep Sufficient Inventory - Every major ride ends in a themed gift shop. That captive marketing and lends itself to the immediate sale (not to mention the stores are air-conditioned.) One suggestions - keep them well stocked. We had to go to three different shops to find "Mickey gloves" not "Minnie gloves". And, all the  Hermione Granger wands were sold out.

Beat the Theme into the Ground - After standing in lines with thousands of sweaty tourists, anyone would need a drink (not in the Magic Kingdom - fyi). Eating, drinking and shopping in theme takes the edge off the blatent capitalism. My top three: Pommery Champagne in France (Epcot), Apfelkorn schnappes in Germany (Epcot), and Butterbeer in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - creme soda with a butter froth - that really does give you that thick foam mustache.


Be Honest - Some of these parks are not for younger kids. There were very few parts of Epcot or Universal's Islands of Adventure that young kids would enjoy. For Disney Parks, you can use the Fast-Pass system at some of the rides, but often if you don't get your pass first thing they are all distributed by 11am for every good ride. Universal's special pass that allows you to jump the line costs an additional $50 per person per day. The alternative is waiting 30-90 minutes per ride. That's not how to create brand loyality.

Plan Your Staffing - During the first two weeks of August, Orlando looses close to 32,000 employees who go back to their country and school (according to a 12 year Disney employee.) In this weak economy, they could have planned ahead for their exodus and have a trained team ready. Closing attractions because you're under staffed while still charging the same rates is absurd.

Used Car Tactics Always Annoy - Like lipstick on a pig, mouse ears on the Vegas strip doesn't cut it. Sadly both Universal City Walk Downtown Disney get C- for their attraction value. As a paying ticket holder you must walk through City Walk at Universal to get to anything. It's loud, in-your-face and sets the wrong first impression. Downtown Disney is less obnoxious and you don't need to go there, but they do count it on your ticket as a "Fun Plus" visit. The reason I don't give them both F grades? Their target is not me. It's the local teenagers with money who can come every Friday and Saturday night. It's their version of the Mall.

You're Never "Too Cool" to Market - Cape Kennedy was great...if you're a space/astronaut enthusiast or over 40. Otherwise, you have a lot of kids who couldn't care less. They ARE competing with Disney and Universal. These are children of the Internet and video games. (NASA: If you are listening. I can help you with your marketing.) While I know that the men and women who train, test and get blasted into space are some of the bravest people on earth my son doesn't get that. You need to create your next market.

Okay - so there it is. Marketing according to Paula, Mickey Mouse, Universal Studios and Cape Kennedy. Each have pluses and minuses. What we can learn is you can never stop testing your brand and your marketing. Your audience evolves and has new and different needs. If I had to pick a winner it would be Disney. They understand that the grandparents have the money. While the grandchildren drive the entertainment choices, they know how to appease the "wallet". Universal and Cape Kennedy need some lessons there.

Paula Pollock is CEO of the Pollock Marketing Group, further assisting good companies in becoming great through outsourced marketing services with her team of professionals. PMG supports business marketing at all levels from DIY, short-term projects and Virtual CMO/Marketing Department. You can sign up to receive her Marketing Tips newsletter at

CSS3: Too Early or Just In Time?

by Shanon Suetos

When it comes to web development, upgrades in code don’t come around often. It has been nearly 10 years since HTML got a revamp, and now HTML5 is finally making headway. With HTML comes style sheets, and now CSS3 is getting as much hype as HTML5 itself. But don’t be fooled, CSS3 is not HTML5.

A quick history in CSS will tell you that CSS compliments what HTML already does—and with two new upgrades it keeps getting better and better. Like with most industries, the web design community is always trying to streamline processes along with making things a step ahead of the rest. CSS3 seems to do this, and can actually cut out a lot of if not all Flash—which can be time consuming to build.

Browser Compatibility

CSS3 is a double edge sword at the moment. It offers new and exciting features, but it also isn’t compatible on all browsers. Because it is in a “last call” phase, not all browsers are compatible. For now only webkit browsers (Safari and Chrome) along with FireFox and Opera are compatible.

Photo Galleries

Transitions are getting upgrades with CSS3 and there are numerous ways to make your photo galleries stand out. One popular way is to turn your photos into Polaroids. If you click here, you will see a great example, and also get a tutorial on how to implement this into your website.

If Polaroid images aren’t your style, you can create a pop up effect for your images using HTML5 and CSS3—eliminating both javascript and Flash. A demo of how this works is located here, although again it works best in Chrome and Safari.


Web designers are going to be grateful for the ease of making buttons with CSS3. Before, if you wanted to have your buttons to have rounded corners for instance, you would have to create the image or use javascript. Instead, CSS3 allows you to create nice looking buttons with just two more lines of code in the style sheets.

If you aren’t an expert on CSS there are many generators out there to help you—even with CSS3. “This Button Maker shows you a live working version of the button you create, complete with :hover and :active states. It is done without attaching any JavaScript events to the button itself. So how is it done? I did it with a technique I ripped off from Doug Neiner who presented it (as small part of a totally different application) at jQConf.”


You can now use CSS3 to animate—again without using flash. One popular demo of this is located here, and if you are in a webkit browser you will see the demo best. Flash isn’t going anywhere for now, but it is nice to know web designers will be able to animate and do other great effects using another medium.

These are just a few of the MANY things CSS3 is capable of. It may be a bit too soon to start implementing them in your website with the limited browser coverage, but practice makes perfect. It is never too soon to at least getting familiar with the code.

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer time clock software on based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as time card software at Resource Nation.

Bridget Bardge on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Bridget Bardge

Ms. Bardge is a successful entrepreneur with nearly 10 years experience in the insurance industry. In 2006 her uncle lost his battle to Cancer and he didn't have life insurance!

While coping with the grief of losing a beloved uncle; family members had to divide the costs of the funeral and provide for the children left behind. This event propelled Bridget to pursue a career as an Insurance Broker to offer other families protection and wealth growth opportunities. She hopes to save other families from financial ruin while trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.Bridget shares her insights on how people can manage their money and take charge of their financial future. Learn more about her services at:

Carolyne McIntyre Jackson and Jodi Willoughby on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Carolyne McIntyre Jackson and Jodi Willoughby

“Growing up on our family farm just outside of High River, Alberta, our mother taught us the best baking always starts from scratch. It was a good lesson to learn early on. And for years we shared handcrafted baked goods with our friends and family - it was their encouragement that helped us start Crave.

We still love to bake and get an even greater satisfaction from sharing our indulgences with the people of Calgary. Our baking is still crafted the way we did on the farm. We only use real butter, still crack every egg that goes into our recipes and we think you will be able to taste the difference.”
~Carolyne McIntyre Jackson and Jodi Willoughby

Crave Cupcakes is owned and operated by sisters Carolyne McIntyre Jackson and Jodi Willoughby. In the Fall of 2004 Crave opened their doors to Calgary baking cupcakes, cookies and cakes from scratch. Calgary is now home to four Crave locations with a fifth in the works.

Carolyne McIntyre Jackson has a degree in Food Business Management and with the opening of Crave she has realized her dream of bringing something special to the people of Calgary. Still striving for the dream, Carolyne is balancing her career with raising a family and training for a half Ironman this summer.

Jodi Willoughby has a degree in Community Rehabilitation and has worked hard to build a brand that is truly a part of the community. Jodi has infused the business with a small town philosophy of creative simplicity, providing an honest product and remembering to give back to the community that supports Crave. Jodi and her husband, Chris, put their hearts into building Crave and raising their two boys.

8 Ways Your Mentors & Advisors Can Help You Grow Your Business

by Maria Simone

There are several distinctions that can be made when describing someone who is thriving, or has the potential to thrive, in business.

One of the things I look at is how well they’ve surrounded themselves with movers and shakers in their industry, influencers, investors, business experts, and so forth.

Having such a diversity of talent close by can help accelerate your success in ways beyond your wildest imagination. Here are 8 mutually-agreeable ways you can work with Mentors and Advisors to help achieve your goals. Access to quickly find the Mentor resources you need next.

1.  Let them share their experience of having made the journey.

Have someone on hand who has traveled a similar path in business and ask them to help you with future pacing. They can easily stay a few steps ahead of you because they’ve been there and know the trail. Knowing your options means fewer obstacles, less risk and acceleration to your goals.

2.  Allow them to offer Moral Support.

It’s imperative to have someone around you who can be your moral compass and/or provide emotional support. That will help you stay grounded and reduce the number of “what was I thinking” crazy kind of days that occasionally do pop up.

3.  Position them as a funding magnet.

Someone who has raised capital and turned it into profit or has achieved success in your industry can probably duplicate their efforts. This is a huge risk reducer and investors like that.

4.  Receive CEO/Leadership Development Support.

You’ll want support as you evolve your inner-self so that as your business grows, you’re able to effectively lead your team.

5.  Help understanding financial forecasting.

You may have “people” that manage your books or run your numbers but it’s also helpful to get perspective from someone who has managed millions or even billions in revenue if this person isn’t already on your payroll.

6.  Let the connectors open doors for you.

Why stand in line when you don’t have to. Let someone else make the necessary introductions to new business and other opportunities. Move past the gatekeepers.

7.  Ask the creatives to help you innovate.

Brainstorm with your creative and visionary advisors to come up with amazing new product or marketing ideas or ways to package it all.

8.  Allow the influencers to help celebritize you.

If you are associated with people who are highly regarded in the public’s eye, chances are your status will also be elevated as they make your connection public. Similar to what a book endorsement does for an author.

About Maria Simone

Maria Simone is a dynamic speaker, author, and transformational business strategist. As the “Passion To Prosperity Diva”, she helps entrepreneurs package their talents to create 6 or 7 figure businesses. Maria has started 4 businesses, has had online and offline success, and raised over $1.5 million in funding for various projects. She’s appeared on ABC News, Fox TV, and in Business Week, Success Magazine, and many other publications.

Author Carol Hoenig at Borders on August 21st

Join Women Entrepreneurs Radio show guest, author and publishing consultant Carol Hoenig at Borders in Saratoga Springs, NY. She'll be discussing her journey as a writer and answering questions about publishing.

Date: Saturday, August 21, 2010

Time: 2:00 PM

Location: Borders
395 Broadway
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866

Telephone: 518-583-1200 (Borders)


Feng Shui For Vision Boards -- Fire Up Your Goals

by Kathryn Weber

A vision board is a powerful way to visually represent the aspirations and goals you have for your life with images.

The images can either be pictures of what you would like, a house where you'd like to live, a car you'd like to drive, or can be a title you aspire to, such as writer, actor, president.

People respond well to images. They inspire us in ways that words don't. Combining a goals list with a vision board is especially powerful.

In feng shui, when compass feng shui, flying star or another type of feng shui merge together, this is called "compounding" feng shui. The feng shui, because it's multiplied, becomes more powerful. The simple act of writing out your goals is powerful and then to compound it with a vision board makes it more powerful still.

Add feng shui to the equation and you have a vision board that can propel you to a whole new place. Are you ready for that? I mean, really, ready? Many people say they want something new, but new can be scary. Just be ready to move forward if you do this!

A vision board is a natural fit with feng shui.

Feng shui focuses on what is seen and unseen -- energy that is both intangible and tangible. We understand that at any given moment whatever we are surrounded by influences us. If we are surrounded by mess, we may feel frustrated, annoyed, and not know why. If sad pictures or painful reminders are in our presence, we may feel depressed and unable to move ahead in our lives.

Select symbols that are meaningful to you

Feng shui understands that symbols are influencers and important ones at that. When you are selecting symbols for your vision board, select symbols meaningful to you. That might include the number "13." Many people think it's a negative number, but if it's meaningful in a positive way to you, then include it.

Select symbols from the 8 Aspirations

These are the principles that feng shui is founded on. Each aspiration is tied to a particular direction. Career is the aspiration of the north, health is the east, travel the northwest. Next, using the directions from the bagua, place the corresponding aspiration is the appropriate corner.

Start with the north or career in the bottom middle of your vision board (or top middle like the board above). Then moving in a clockwise direction, add the aspiration symbol for northeast in the lower left corner. This could be a book if you're a student, a deity for spirituality if that's your interest or any symbol of general wisdom.

The next corner is the left, or east corner. Place an image of health, a lush plant, a picture of a woman jogging or any symbol that is meaningful for health for you personally. Continue going around your board in this manner. This clockwise movement adds stimulation to your vision board, going from yin (north/water) to yang (south/fame/reputation) and back to yin again.

Don't forget to add a spark of life

It's important that you have an energizing spark on your vision board. It should appear vibrant, active, interesting. Place your most important image in the center of your vision board. This can be the central theme of your board if you like. You can then use symbols that support that central theme and still follow the directions of the bagua.

Lastly, every item must be "energized" in order for it to imbue precious yang energy. To create this, simply add something red on your vision board. You could also loop a piece of red ribbon through your board or glue red paper to the back.

Place your vision board prominently

You won't get very far if you can't see where you're going.

That's why it's vital that you make sure you place your board where you see it prominently and often. This will help to encourage you and keep you focused on what you want in life and where you want your goals to take you.

© K Weber Communications LLC 2002-2010
Kathryn Weber is the publisher of the Red Lotus Letter Feng Shui E-zine and certified feng shui consultant in classical Chinese feng shui. Kathryn helps her readers improve their lives and generate more wealth with feng shui. For more information and to receive her FREE Ebook "Easy Money - 3 Steps to Building Massive Wealth with Feng Shui" visit and learn the fast and fun way how feng shui can make your life more prosperous and abundant!

Carol Hoenig on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Carol Hoenig

Carol Hoenig is a fulltime freelance writer and publishing consultant. Her novel, WITHOUT GRACE, has been awarded the Silver Medal for Book of the Year 2005 by ForeWord Magazine and given First Place for Fiction by the DIY Book Festival. Jada Press and the New York Book Festival also gave her novel honorable mention.

Her book THE AUTHOR’S GUIDE TO PLANNING BOOK EVENTS was named finalist by USA Book and Reader Views and given the Gold medal by ForeWord Magazine for Book of the Year in the category of writing. Carol’s essays, articles, book reviews and short stories appear in a wide number of publications.

Carol blogs for The Huffington Post at covering politics, culture, the publishing industry and the writing life.

Carol also contributed to PUTTING YOUR PASSION INTO PRINT, written by Arielle Eckstudt and David Henry Sterry. (Workman, July 2005)

Arianna Huffington invited Carol to contribute to ON BECOMING FEARLESS, (Little, Brown) released in the fall of 2006. Tory Johnson, ABC’s Good Morning America’s workplace contributor, also invited Carol to submit an essay for her New York Times Bestseller, WILL WORK FROM HOME (Penguin). Stephanie Gunning invited Carol to submit an essay on creativity for her anthology AUDACIOUS CREATIVITY.

Carol’s short story, Snow Angels and Somersaults, was a finalist for the 2007 Spring/Summer Glass Woman Prize, a bi-annual prize for women prose writers.

Carol is on the advisory council for Author Solutions and was on The New York Center for Independent Publishing advisory council and writer’s conference committee for five years before it disbanded. She was the Director and Writer-in-Residence for Old Forge Library Adirondack Summer Writing Workshop for 2008. She is Editorial Director for Worthy Shorts and is a member of the Women’s Media Group. Most recently she was tapped to write a monthly column for Digital Americana, the first literary magazine for the Apple iPad. She also covers stories for For more information, visit

Grabbing the Reins

by Miata Edoga

You've decided it's time to take control of your money. Bills keep piling up, creditors incessantly call, and now you know it's time to start. Sound familiar? You aren't alone. Over fifty percent of Americans have some credit card debt. The housing crisis still isn't over. The unemployment percentage hovers around double-digits. Many of us need to grab the reins and find a plan.

Where to begin, though? How do you start turning pennies into dollars, and dollars into ten dollar bills?  Here's step number one:

Let's get the word out the the way.  The dirty "b" word.


Yuck. A budget feels like work, doesn't it? It's nails on the chalkboard. It's the singer missing the high note. A budget seems like hours sitting over a spreadsheet, tracking every box of macaroni and cheese, every stick of gum, every coffee.

No thanks.

I don't like that type of budget either, so let's change the terminology. You need to change the language to change the behavior. I'll propose a new approach. We should start with the job you're trying to complete. You're trying to practice well with your money so you have funds when you need it. We should use a phrase that conjures up the image of taking control, practicing great habits, and achieving your dream.

Instead of a budget, let's talk about a money plan.

Much like a play well performed or a song well played, I like the practice that makes a money plan perfect. Simply put, a good money plan creates successful money performance. It creates the standing ovation from your wallet that you're looking for when you practice and perform well.  There isn't room here to detail the entire plan, but here are some important steps:

1) Write out how much money you earn in a month. Be conservative. You'll need to be able to live through those tough months when money isn't coming in.

2) List the expenses you can't live without. Financial planners call these "committed expenses."  We'll call them rent or mortgage, basic groceries, utilities, and costs associated with your work, among others.

3) Now write those expenses you can live without, but currently enjoy. Financial planners call these "discretionary expenses," but we'll just call them gifts, cable television, eating out, and other "lifestyle" expenses.

Now here's the fun part. Before we subtract your expenses from income, it makes sense to see if either of these areas can be improved, doesn't it? Here are some questions to ask yourself, to see if you may be able to save some money.

1) Are there ways to improve my income? I never know the answer when I ask a client this question, but, surprisingly, nearly everyone says "yes, I can." Everyone has a variety of thoughts on how they could earn more money. But before grabbing the first income-generating opportunity, ask yourself a more important question: "Is the way I earn more money going to detract from my artistic potential?" If so, search harder for ways to earn dollars that are congruent with your life goals. Don't create a money plan which is detrimental to your life plan.

2) Are there ways to lower my expenses? Most people begin by cutting discretionary expenses, such as coffee or ice-cream. Generally, this isn't the first place professionals look, because although there might be a few opportunities to save a dollar here, the large savings is nearly always in the committed expenses area.  Can you somehow change your rent or mortgage situation? Are there opportunities to lower utility expenses? Do you need both the land line and cell phone? How often do you watch cable television? Comb through each expense and ask yourself if there is a method to lower some costs without damaging your lifestyle.

Once you've examined both income and expenses it's time to do some basic math. Subtract your expenses from your income. Hopefully, there's money left over. If not, it's time to really sharpen the pencil and ask hard questions about income and expenses. If so, you're well on your way to working your money plan. Stay tuned to our website for that topic in a couple weeks!

©2010 Abundance Bound, Inc.

Abundance Bound was created to support actors, artists and creative professionals in the development of financial stability and independence. To learn how to begin the journey towards prosperity, register for the free resources available at

Do You Work In the Cloud?

by Shannon Suetos

Working in the cloud, or cloud computing, is when you are working with software programs that operates with shared resources, and can be accessed from one computer to the next without problem. One of the most common software options for working in the cloud is Google Docs, and Salesforce.

If you don’t use these programs, chances are in a few years you will be. A study conducted by Pew Research and Elon University has gone on record saying that, “71% of technology experts and stakeholders participating in the fourth Future of the Internet survey expect that by 2020 most people will access software applications online and share and access information through the use of remote server networks, rather than depending primarily on tools and information housed on their individual, personal computers. They say that cloud computing will become more dominant than the desktop in the next decade. In other words, they anticipate that most users will perform most computing and communicating activities through connections to servers operated by outside firms.”


Working in the cloud does have some advantages, one being its easy access across multiple computers. Because everything is stored “in the cloud” you don’t have to worry about remembering that jump drive, or CD. You can work and edit in the cloud at your office, and access the presentation at your client’s office.

Google Docs has been evolving since its inception in 2007. The best part about Google Docs is that it is a free service, and because it operates in the cloud, your documents can be accessed anywhere anytime.

Multiple people working on one document is much easier when it is in the cloud. Simon Mackie states in his blog that, “rather than emailing files to my colleagues and trying (and failing) to keep track of all the different versions, using a tool like Google Docs means I can have one document that everyone can access — it’s even possible to have more than one person editing that document at any one time, if I wish.”


Some people say that putting your “faith” into cloud computing is a lot like putting all of your eggs in one basket. Some of the respondents in the study felt that, “cloud dominance by a small number of large firms may constrict the internet’s openness and its capacity to inspire innovation – that people are giving up some degree of choice and control in exchange for streamlined simplicity.”

Putting your faith on something running on the Internet is also a touchy situation. If your Internet goes down during your presentation, you will not have access to it. This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen from time to time. If the presentation is very important, you should have a backup plan.

Even with these disadvantages it seems more companies are taking notice of the popularity of Google Doc’s—Microsoft in particular. Attached with Microsoft Office 2010 there is are cloud based applications for their desktop services. Microsoft named this addition Web Apps and it is a free service if you purchase Office 2010, or it can be used by itself for free.

Have you used cloud computing services? What do you think about working in the cloud? Let us know below.

Shannon Suetos is an expert writer on credit card processing based in San Diego, California. She writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as credit card processing companies at Resource Nation.

5 Steps to Thinking Big and Living Grand

by Ali Brown

I know what it's like to think that the lifestyle I want is out of reach. Just 10 years ago, I would lie on my bed in my tiny 400-square-foot studio apartment and flip through magazines, wishing I could have the luxurious lifestyles I read about.

Despite that negative, nagging voice in my head that reminded me I could barely afford rent, I'm now living a beautiful life I created for myself from scratch. Instead of moping around an apartment I can barely afford, I now have the means to travel and to inspire others. Last year I took a solo retreat to Maui, and this year I vacationed at an exclusive beach resort in Cabo San Lucas.

How'd I do it? By deciding not to settle for being average and thinking BIG. Changing your mindset can be a challenge, but the rewards are well worth the cost. Here's how you can get started...

1. Eliminate negativity.

This includes negative self-talk, too. Why would the universe bring you a better life if you don't appreciate what you already have? Show gratitude for everything in your life now. Those seemingly bad days happen for a reason, so whenever you find yourself thinking, "I can't do this" or "that's impossible," reframe it as the opposite. "I can do that, that is possible..." You owe it to yourself to give yourself the love and support you need to succeed.

2. Document your dreams. 

Earlier this year, I wanted to manifest a new house, so I listed all of the qualities in my dream home: a 3-car garage, workout room, walk-in closets... (Don't censor yourself! Anything is possible, even if it seems silly now.) I also bought some real estate magazines, cut out pictures of homes I love, and created a collage. I'm constantly updating my "dream board," which is now proudly displayed in my new house!

3. Surround yourself ONLY with supportive people. 

I only shared my house dream with friends and family I knew would support my decision. (NOT those prone to phrases like "Are you crazy? Who do you think you are? Ms. Trump?") Your true friends and family will be happy to share in your dream. If you don't have anyone else to support you, then it's time to make new friends - join a networking group or a mastermind.

4. Decide, believe, and watch for clues. 

It's not enough to make a decision to work towards your dreams. You must also truly believe in them! Don't worry about HOW your dreams will manifest themselves. Watch for clues, and the HOW will find you, perhaps in the form of a new business partner or a new client. But remember that the dream comes before the HOW.

5. ACT on opportunities when they appear. 

Action involves risk. You might have to hire more people to help with a new client. You'll need time to research that prospective business partner. Or figure out how to hire that amazing new mentor. But it's up to YOU to take action when the path is revealed. The universe is supporting you, and each step will bring you closer to your dreams.

© 2010 Ali International, LLC

Self-made multimillionaire entrepreneur and Inc. 500 CEO Ali Brown is devoted to creating financial freedom for women globally through the power of entrepreneurship. To learn how to create wealth and live an extraordinary life now, register for her free weekly articles at

Natalie Jobity of Elan Image Management on Women Entrepreneurs Radio

Natalie Jobity

President of √Član Image Management, an image consulting company, Natalie Jobity is a premiere image consultant in the DC metro area. She works individually with woman, men and groups as an image consultant, fashion consultant, personal shopper, branding/style coach and more. She conducts Seminars & Workshops for a variety of organizations, companies, women’s groups, teens, and college students. Natalie has recently been interviewed on NewsChannel 8 on a Dress for Success segment, has been interviewed for IONMedia Network TV and has been a featured fashion and wardrobe expert in a variety of publications. She also has a column on titled, ‘Women’s Image & Wardrobe and her own blog on her website:

Natalie’s business tagline, ‘Presence with a Purpose’ TM encompasses her belief that our visual presentation should be a reflection of our internal beliefs and values, our tastes and preferences, and our innate personality and essence and help us move forward to achieve our life’s goals. With this foundation, image becomes a facilitator for inward change and growth and vice versa. Her approach incorporates all these components in her work with women and men so the end result is a unique visual presentation that is effective, authentic, sustainable and original.

With over 15 years of experience in marketing, most recently working as a VP of research in the financial services sector for a marketing research company, Natalie has often counseled corporate clients on understanding the drivers of their company brand reputation and corporate image and she leverages this experience at √Član Image Management.

Natalie is certified by the prestigious Association of Image Consultants International (AICI). She has also received styling and image training from the Image Resource Center of NY, an internationally recognizable training group in the image consulting field. Natalie’s formal education includes a B.S. (magna cum laude) in Accounting and Economics from Rutgers University, a Masters in Finance from Cambridge University and an MBA in Marketing from Baruch College, CUNY.

Public Speaking Fear - Will They Reject My Expertise?

Fear of rejection sometimes shows up as public speaking anxiety is when you're afraid they'll reject your expertise. You know - those doubts that sound like this:

  • Who would want to listen to me?
  • What if I don't sound as good as ___________ (insert other expert's name here)?
  • I must be kidding myself. Who do I think I am?
Do you realize these are common doubts and fears? Listen closely to successful people, and you'll hear them mention these concerns popping into their minds, too. So you're in good company!

What To Do
Those fears about your expertise don't have to derail you. And they definitely don't have to stop you from speaking up. There are steps you can take to help yourself to move past the fear.

  1. Use the question "Who would want to listen to me?" It's actually a great incentive to craft your talk more carefully. The answer to that question is this: People who think you can solve their problem are the ones who would want to listen. So speak directly to them, and only them. When you're writing your talk or elevator speech or video script, imagine your ideal client sitting across from you. Then write to that person. When you get to speaking this out loud, your passion will shine through because you're addressing your people, your targeted community.
  2. "What if I don't sound as good as WhatsHerName?" It's natural to compare ourselves to others. We all do it. But this particular question is NOT useful. Here's why: You're comparing apples and oranges. You are uniquely you. Your message and the precise way you deliver it is different from everyone else, because you're a different person. So you're going to sound different from her. And that's a good thing.
  3. There are more than enough clients and customers to go around. Always. And you want to connect with the ones who are the right fit for you. That's why it's so important to relax as much as you can so you can just be yourself. And let that unique you shine through to click with your special people.

So keep checking out others in your industry. Learn from what they're doing and how they're doing it. See what you want to try yourself, and what you want to avoid. Maybe you can form partnerships when you see how your offers actually complement each other. But stop comparing yourself, because there's nobody out there just exactly like you. And there are people just waiting to hear what you have to say!

From the desk of Janet Hilts MPH, EFT-ADV

Copyright © 2010 Janet Hilts, Speak Up & Shine | Clearing Pathways, Inc.
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