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Archive for the ‘Business Services’ Category

Erika Taylor Montgomery, CEO and Founder Of ThreeGirlsMedia & Marketing

Erika Taylor Montgomery’s BIO

 Erika Taylor Montgomery

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. What prompted you to start your Business?

Erika: I was tired of seeing how PR agencies took advantage of clients with fat monthly retainers, which almost always ended up benefitting the agency, not the client. I also realized that most PR agencies were set up to work with medium to large corporate clients, leaving a huge hole for the 80% of American companies that are small or micro businesses. I thought I could create a better PR model to serve those smaller clients, working on an hourly or project basis, and guaranteeing PR results for their hard-earned money.

Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a business that already has had enormous positive implications for the community. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a business that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you.  What do you share with him about your work?

Three Girls Media & Marketing Inc is an award-winning, boutique PR agency specializing in both traditional and social media. We serve small business – often the companies that need PR the most, but can least afford it. That’s 80% of businesses in the U.S., so there’s a tremendous market there for PR services.

Three Girls’ model is unique. Unlike most PR agencies that work on monthly retainers, we work on an hourly or project basis for our clients, providing them expert PR services for a reasonable cost. In the height of the recession we were flexible and developed a new Al la Carte PR Menu allowing clients to order individual PR services such as press releases or media advisories, Facebook & Twitter management and blog writing on a per-service basis. Our Al la Carte Menu continues to be extremely popular and sets us apart from the way other agencies work.

Three Girls is the only PR agency in the nation to literally guarantee editorial media coverage to our clients – in writing. We’ve exceeded our guarantees 100% of the time, and on average, 40-50% of the media coverage we secure is in Top or Mega-tier outlets with audiences of 250,000 to 1 million, respectively.

We have an amazing track record of success and fill a critical need for small businesses nationwide, making Three Girls Media and excellent investment.

2. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.

Erika:

  • 7-7:30am – Wake-up
  • Hit the treadmill for 45 minutes
  • Coffee!
  • Check Email
  • 9-9:30am – Daily phone meeting with Sr. Director of Publicity
  • Calls and emails with clients and prospects
  • Noon – Networking luncheon or lunch meeting with prospective clients or business power partner
  • Back to the computer for client work in the afternoon
  • Calls and emails with clients and prospects
  • 6-6:30pm – End of workday – Family time

3. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?

Erika: Bay Area News (The San Jose Mercury news app)
Scrabble!

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Erika: You must put things on a calendar and stick to the scheduled time. If you schedule a consultation and it’s supposed to be 30 minutes, keep it to 30 minutes! Let people know how much time you have to speak at the beginning of a call and don’t be afraid to end the conversation when time is up.

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Erika: Get it in writing…a solid contract is worth 10,000 words.

6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your company changed for the short-term and long-term?

Erika: In the height of the recession Three Girls was flexible and developed a new Al la Carte PR Menu allowing clients to order individual PR services such as press releases or media advisories, Facebook & Twitter management and blog writing on a per-service basis.

Our Al la Carte Menu was originally designed to be a short-term solution for the economic climate, however it continues to be extremely popular today and at least 80% of our business is now based on the menu, making it a long-term win. It also sets us apart from the way other agencies work.

7. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Erika: I’ve had several proud achievements. Three Girls and I have won many awards, including the prestigious YWCA TWIN awards for women in business which will be given out in May.

I’m always extremely proud when we secure nice media placements for our clients. It’s like getting the excitement of Christmas several times a month!

I’m also proud of staff achievements, such as my mentorship of our now Sr. Director or Publicity, Emily Sidley. Emily started with Three Girls almost 5 years ago as an intern. I’ve worked closely with her to build her skills and confidence and have promoted her through the ranks over the years. She’s now and invaluable part of our team.

8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Erika: When I started Three Girls, I worked 16-18 hours a day, 7 days a week. As the company matured, I realized that if I didn’t achieve some form of work-life balance I’d go crazy, or drop dead of a stress induced heart attack, so I made some big changes.

I always take at least 1 weekend day completely off – no computers, no email, no cell phone, no texting, no work of any kind!

I also stop working around 6-6:30 each night so I can have dinner and quality time with my family.

9. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)

Erika: I’m actually writing two books right now. The first which I’m co-authoring with best selling author Anolia Facun (Yes! The Secrets Work and Game Changers), is called Silicon Valley Life – Journeys & Transformations Beyond Technology and is due out July 1st. It’s a compilation of stories from newsmakers and entrepreneurs who share their thoughts about the ‘spirit’ of Silicon Valley – what makes this area unique.

The second book I’m writing is called Easy Do-It-Yourself PR – A Step-by-Step Guide to Public Relations for Small Business and Entrepreneurs, and is due out this fall. It will be the perfect guide and workbook for entrepreneurs who want to do their own PR and need simple step-by-step instructions to do so, with a lot of examples for them to utilize.

10. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Erika: Bonuses for employees – they deserve it, no question.

11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Erika: Three Girls does quite a bit of pro bono work. We’re currently supporting My Hope Chest, a non-profit organization that provides funding for breast reconstruction surgery after mastectomy to women who have survived breast cancer but are lacking insurance or the financial means to gain their desired reconstruction. It’s a cause that’s especially close to my heart as I’ve lost my grandmother and an aunt to the disease.

12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Erika: My husband who is also Three Girls’ CFO. He’s always been an excellent sounding board and advisor.

13. What’s your advice to someone interested in starting their own business?

Erika: I’d offer 2 bits of advice:

  1. The advice that was given to me when I started out – get it in writing every time. Have solid contracts that specifically outline your services and what you will – and will not – provide.
  2. Promote, Promote, Promote! You have no idea how many small business owners/entrepreneurs I talk to who have spent a ton of money on a website and collateral, and then have no money left over to actually promote the business. Make PR a core part of your business plan from the outset.

To learn more about ThreeGirlsMedia & Marketing, click the link below:

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Eliane Markoff, President of Art in Giving

Eliane Markoff’s BIO

Eliane Markoff

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. What prompted you to start ‘Art in Giving’?

Eliane: Art in Giving started with a painting my daughter Rachel created. She was 8 years old and she drew it at the Jimmy Fund Clinic at Dana Farber as she waited for her many doctors’ appointments.

A few years after she passed away, my husband and I established The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation. Its mission is to raise funds for pediatric cancer research and other initiatives to help families cope with childhood cancer.   As we looked for a logo for the Foundation, I redrew and painted Rachel’s drawings, three flowers on a sunny day.  Painting Rachel’s flowers was painful yet therapeutic at the same time.

As I continued to paint, I was encouraged to show my work at various venues such as the Wellesley Public Library and at Quebrada, a local bakery in Wellesley. Eventually, I moved my studio from my home to the South End Art District of SOWA at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston. For many years, only the proceeds from my work funded our Foundation. Then an intriguing idea evolved as I got to know many of the fine artists in the building several of them expressing interest in my concept of connecting art with philanthropy. I then engaged thirteen other artists to participate in Art in Giving LLC.  The artists have generously agreed to donate 50% of the proceeds of their art sold through the efforts of Art in Giving.  The model for Art in Giving is to encourage organizations, both for-profit and not-for-profit, to use art to recognize their employees, executives, board members, trustees and honorees.  This is done in the form of a piece of art  chosen by an organization that reflects its core values, or in the form of an Art in Giving Gift Certificate which can be used to purchase art from any of the 14 member artists.

 

2. Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a cause that has had enormous positive implications for the community. He wishes to offer $25,000 to a cause that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you. What do you share with him about your work?

Eliane: I would explain how Art in Giving connects philanthropy with business and the fine arts.  I would share with him the vision and hope we have in creating Art in Giving: that every organization use works of art offered by Art in Giving in any one of the following ways: to express appreciation to their clients, board members, employees, guest speakers, referral sources and others who played a role in the success of their organization as well as to beautify its physical surroundings.  Art if Giving presents a unique alternative to gifts of pens, clocks or crystal bowls.

Artwork offers a permanent reminder of the honor and the organization that honored. If presented with an Art in Giving Certificate, a person enjoys the added benefit of experiencing a cultural journey of selecting a piece of art that has personal meaning to the honoree.

Fifty percent of the proceeds sold through the efforts of Art in Giving are donated to a private foundation that dedicates itself to pediatric cancer research in collaboration with nationally respected scientists and the Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation www.rachelmollymarkofffoundation.org

3. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedule from start to finish.

Eliane: I check my emails and respond accordingly. I would most likely have at least one to two meeting(s) a day to present Art in Giving or to host someone at the studio interested in the program. I place a few phone calls as follow ups to meetings or presentations. I initiate a few emails on behalf of Art in Giving. I correspond with one or 2 advisory board members. I communicate with one or two artists. I always find time to paint glass or work on a painting when time allows.

 

4. What are your “can’t live without” apps on your desktop/cell phone?

Eliane: Outlook, Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel and FreeCell.

5. What are your tricks for time management?

Eliane: Every evening, I identify and list the most important things I need to do and focus on accomplishing them the next day,

 

6. Best advice received when you started your career?

Eliane: The best advice I received is to

  • Do the right thing even if it may not be politically astute.
  • Be honest with colleagues and do not say things you do not mean
  • Have passion and believe in what you are working on. There will be challenges and disappointments both in life and in business. The passion will help offset some of these challenges.

 

7. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for building awareness of your work changed for the short-term and long-term?

Eliane: The current economic situation has been a motivator in becoming more creative in promoting Art in Giving.  We position our company as a recognition company that offers organizations meaningful alternatives to the standard gifts presented to employees, clients, board members, referral sources and others.  We will soon be targeting other markets including real estate companies, architectural firms, automobile dealers and wedding planners.

 

8. What’s been your proudest achievement as such an accomplished Entrepreneur?

Eliane:

  • Getting the support of my daughter and my husband.
  • Engaging several prominent Boston artists to participate in Art in Giving
  • Engaging wonderful people to be on the advisory board of Art in Giving
  • Securing my first clients and issuing 52 gift certificates to date
  • Being featured in magazines and newspapers
  • Being considered by Bill Brett for including in his book of Boston people.

 

9. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Eliane: Painting, Reading, walking, biking, listening to music, playing Pacman, traveling and solving Suduko puzzles.

10. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)

Eliane:

11. If you had an exceptional month and earned double of your average month, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Eliane: If it is money raised for the Foundation, I would sponsor more children to attend summer camps dedicated to children affected by cancer.

If it is through my consulting work, I would spend it on my daughter Audrey.

12. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Eliane: The Rachel Molly Markoff Foundation dedicated to helping families cope with childhood cancer. It is therapeutic and allows me to keep Rachel’s memory alive.The Schwartz Center for Compassionate Healthcare. I am passionate about compassion and have no tolerance for coldness and insensitivity.

Volunteering to help the elderly. I enjoy being with elder people and it reminds me of my relationship with my grandparents.

13. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Eliane: My husband. I also remember my maternal grandfather being always proud of any small accomplishment I had made. He empowered me to be confident

14. What’s your advice to someone interested in starting a business, especially within the arts?

Eliane:

  • Believe in what you have to offer
  • Have patience
  • Do not take rejection personally

To learn more about Art In Giving, please visit its website via the link below:

Lewis Howes, Founder of Sports Executives Association

Lewis Howes’ BIO

Lewis Howes

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?

Lewis: I knew that you had to have a passion for anything you do in order for it to be a long lasting run.  You have to create quality relationships and treat everyone with respect and kindness… and also be true to yourself at all times.

2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.

Lewis: Grind in the morning, hustle in the afternoon, take some time to workout and relax with friends in the evening, then back on the grind before bed.

3. What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?

Lewis: *Hootsuite, Screenflow, Firefox on the computer, LinkedIn, Facebook, Dailybooth on my phone.*

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Lewis: Creating lists with dates and specific times for completing things helps me most of the time.  It’s tough when you have so many projects on at once with many moving parts, so outsourcing as many tasks as possible helps a lot also.

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Lewis: Hustle and be passionate and the rest I’ll learn along the way.

If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?

I’d turn to the gym or an athletic field.  If I could compete in some type of team sport every day I would as I get my best ideas when I’m competing as you use your mind, body, vision, and awareness to do things differently.

6. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your companies changed for the short-term and long-term?

Lewis: Nothing has changed for me as my businesses continue to grow through this economy.  I focus on providing products and services that serve others and help them achieve their goals dramatically.  As long as I keep helping others, that’s where my strategy will stay.

7. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Lewis: Publishing a book and speaking on stage with some of the greatest marketing minds in the world.

8. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Lewis: Working out, going to movies, getting away from my office as much as I can, and salsa dancing like there is no tomorrow.

9. Two books you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)

Lewis: Influence by Robert Cialdini and 4 hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss. These guys are geniuses and every online marketer should read these books.

10. If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Lewis: Since I own my companies there wouldn’t ever be a surprise bonus. If I paid myself an extra bonus I’d increase my savings and investments that month and keep moving on towards bigger goals.

11. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Lewis: I strive to donate more and more of my income on a monthly basis.  I never had the option to do that before because I didn’t have any money when I first started out in business.  Now I feel more blessed to be able to help others, and give more freely on a financial level.  My goal is to start a scholarship fund for sports management students in the near future.

12. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Lewis: I’d have to say Stuart Jenkins, one of my early on mentors, and Chris Hawker, a genius inventor who taught me a lot about business and gave me a chance when I was just starting out.

*Click on the link below to order your copy of Lewis Howes’ book today!

To learn more about Lewis Howes, please visit his website at: LewisHowes.com.

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Claire Fenner, Co-Founder Of Heels and Deals

Claire Fenner’s BIO

Claire Fenner

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. How did you first become involved in the non-profit sector?

Claire: My friend Georgie Hearson and I first talked about launching a networking group for women entrepreneurs in October of 2008 as we had both launched our own businesses earlier in the year. As the economy became more challenging we both had to focus on keeping our businesses going.  My business was a free magazine for parents called ‘Easy Living – the Parents Guide to Dubai’ and as advertising spending nose-dived I had to work harder and longer than ever before to generate advertising revenue while at the same time keeping overheads and expenses down.  Georgie’s business ‘Jute Couture’, a range of ethical and environmentally friendly fun Jute bags was also affected by the economic downturn as wholesale orders were cancelled with many retailers choosing to order on consignment basis instead of the preferred wholesale basis.

On one particular day in March 2009 I spoke to three clients, all female business owners who all said they were having a tough time due to the economic conditions and were fearful about what the future held for their business. When I told them they weren’t alone in this fear they found a little comfort but I really felt they would be more empowered and confident if they shared their fears and celebrated their achievements with other like-minded women. So I called Georgie the same day and she felt exactly the same as me. It was time for us to step up and help make a difference.

After just 4 weeks, not very much sleep and a lot of caffeine later Heels & Deals launched. We’d originally expected about 30 to 40 women to turn up but when online registration hit 210 we were thankful for choosing a venue with plenty of space. On the night we were joined by 185 amazing entrepreneurial women!  Since then, the Heels & Deals community has grown from strength to strength. Today we have a membership of over 180 entrepreneurs from a wide variety of nationalities, ages and industries, and we have plans to grow globally. Women entrepreneurs can already network online on our social media website and we’re launching events in Hong Kong the capital of entrepreneurship in Asia in the autumn.

As a member of the Sr. Mgmt Staff in a mid-size NPO, I can appreciate that the leaders wear several hats in accomplishing day to day responsibilities. Please share with me how you manage your multiple responsibilities.

The partnership between Georgie and myself works extremely well because we are both passionate about our mission of helping women entrepreneurs succeed, but our skills, strengths and experiences are complimentary. We have divided the responsibilities in the business up to match these skills and strengths so I manage the marketing, finance and business development and Georgie manages memberships, the website and the events.

When we first launched Heels & Deals it was secondary to our existing business but as time has gone on the potential for Heels & Deals has become more evident so we’ve both put our original businesses to bed to allow us to focus on growing the business and empowering more women entrepreneurs.

Georgie and I are both mums to young children, my boys are aged 3 ½ & 5, and Georgie has a 6 year old son and another baby due this summer.  We spend our days juggling the demands of motherhood and business but because we are both in the same position we understand these demands and are able to support each other practically and emotionally when needed.

 

2. What are your favorite tools (tech or otherwise) for managing areas of your life that are most important to you?

Claire: We use technology to enable us to work on the move but at the same time we’re conscious of controlling costs, especially with only being in our third year of operation. Georgie and I both have iPhones which enable us to keep in contact easily through emails, calls, and messages and we use Apps such as Skype to help keep costs down.
In the UAE we are very fortunate to have the world’s first telecoms provider to create a special telecoms plan just for women entrepreneurs and professionals!  The monthly package is very cost-effective and even includes free calls between other women on the plan so Georgie and I get to talk for free which is invaluable!
We have a team from Microsoft speaking at our next event and they are going to teach us all how to utilise tools within Microsoft Office, many which we already have on our PC’s, such as Outlook, One Note and Office Apps to save time and make our lives even easier…we can’t wait!

3. Best advice received when you began leading your NPO?

Claire: “To stay true to our mission and vision”. Georgie and I felt compelled to create Heels & Deals for women entrepreneurs because we are women entrepreneurs.We seem to have hit the nail on the head so to speak with what women want from networking events; a comfortable, supportive yet fun environment with a professional purpose. Interest has and still does not just come from entrepreneurs but from women employees and although we could make easy money from allowing them to join, this would dilute our USP and deviate from our mission. The challenges, demands, triumphs and needs of entrepreneurs are different from those of employees and this is one of our USP’s. We’ve chosen long term sustainability over short term gain.

 

4. What’s been your proudest achievement at Heels & Deals?

Claire: Winning the Incredibly Innovative Approach Award at the SME Middle East Awards 2010 after only launching the business a year and a half before! Since launch we have not stopped innovating so this was great recognition. From turning the business model on its head to where it is today, to constantly developing the website to deliver better exposure, to keeping the events fun, fresh and beneficial…we keep on innovating!

5. If you had the opportunity to bring all residents of your city into one room, what message would you share with them?

Claire: With one of the worst records for injuries and deaths caused by road accidents in the world I would tell everyone to be more respectful of each other on the roads. The number of parents here who don’t use car seats or even seat belts for their children is absolutely shocking. Why would you be so careless about the most precious thing in your life?

6. What is the best way for our readers to support Heels & Deals?

Claire: Ha, easy! To help spread the news about Heels & Deals with women entrepreneurs they know or to join our community…please! The more members we have the more valuable the experience for every member. They can visit our website www.heelsanddeals.orgor follow us on Twitter @HeelsAndDeals and join us on Facebook at HeelsAndDeals.

7. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Claire: Funnily enough Georgie and I both say the late Dame Anita Roddick has provided us with a vast amount of inspiration. As an entrepreneur she made so many positive changes in the world but didn’t compromise on her values and beliefs for commercial gain.

To learn more about Heels & Deals, please visit their website and social media websites via the links below:

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Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, Co-Founders of Rent The Runway

JENNIFER FLEISS’S BIO

Jennifer (Jenny) Fleiss, President, is an entrepreneur at heart.  She started her career at Morgan Stanley in the Strategic Planning Group crafting long-term company strategy.  She then moved on to Lehman Brothers’ Asset Management Group where she was responsible for analyzing business growth opportunities through acquisitions, international expansion, and new product strategies.  A natural leader, Jenny founded an essay-editing and coaching service for college applicants, and built the company into an online tutoring service.

In 2007, Jenny began at Harvard Business School where she met fellow co-founder and friend, Jennifer (Jenn) Hyman.  As sectionmates, the two women would meet frequently to discuss entrepreneurial ideas, one of which was Rent the Runway.  Designed to solve the common “closet full of clothes but nothing to wear” problem, Jenn and Jenny launched Rent the Runway in November 2009.

Now a year into business, Rent the Runway has quickly grown to acquire 600,000 members and has signed on 120 top designer brands.  With an inventory of over 15,000 dresses and 4,000 accessories, and entry into new categories such as handbags and undergarment essentials (available for sale), Rent the Runway has become the one-stop shop for life’s special occasions.

Jenny received her Bachelor of Arts from Yale University in 2005 graduating Cum Laude, and her Master’s of Business Administration from Harvard Business School in 2009.

JENNIFER HYMAN’S BIO:

Jennifer Hyman has been the Chief Executive Officer of Rent the Runway since the company’s inception in November 2009.  She is responsible for all areas of the business including technology, fashion, sales, marketing, operations, customer service, and team management, while also serving as the company spokesperson.

Jennifer co-founded Rent the Runway with her Harvard Business School classmate Jennifer Fleiss.  After receiving approximately $15 million from Bain Capital Ventures and Highland Capital, they have quickly built the company to include a 900,000 membership base with 45 employees.  Rent the Runway is a members-only online fashion community that builds customer loyalty for designer brands by enabling women to rent dresses and accessories for all the special occasions in their lives.  As the “Netflix for fashion,” Rent the Runway encourages women to experiment with new designer brands and trends.

Rent the Runway was named as one of Time Magazine’s “50 Best Websites of 2010,” Fast Company’s “10 Most Innovative Fashion Companies of the Year” and Newsweek’s “21 Best Ways to Save in 2011.”  Additionally, Jennifer and her co-founder were named as Inc. Magazine’s “Top 30 Under 30,” Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology,” and Fashion Group International’s “Rising Stars.”

Prior to Rent the Runway, Jennifer was the Director of Business Development at IMG where she focused on the creation of new media businesses for IMG’s Fashion Division. She also ran an online advertising sales team at WeddingChannel.com and was an in-house entrepreneur at Starwood Hotels, creating Starwood’s first wedding business which was recognized on the Oprah Winfrey Show for its innovation.

Jennifer received her BA from Harvard University and MBA from Harvard Business School.  She currently resides in New York City where she enjoys the entrepreneurial lifestyle, neighborhood restaurants, and socializing with her friends and family.

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IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. What prompted both of you to create Rent the Runway?

JF: The idea originally started when my co-founder Jennifer Hyman was home during Thanksgiving break and her sister had a “closet full of clothes but nothing to wear moment.”  We started RTR so that women everywhere can have the rotating closet they’ve always dreamed of and access to designer brands that otherwise would have been unattainable.

Scenario: you meet a business exec who is looking to fund a cause that already has had enormous positive implications for the community locally and abroad. He wishes to offer $50,000 to a cause that is innovative in its thinking. He has 10 minutes available to speak with you.  What do you share with him about your work?

JH- We are committed to building a business that introduces the next generation of women to designer brands.  We have found that 90 percent of women who use RTR rent a brand they never owned before, and 80 percent report purchasing something from the brand they rented from.  RTR is a true gateway to retail and we are changing the way the female customer shops and manages her wardrobe.

2. For most successful entrepreneurs, there is no typical day so give us a sample of your schedules from start to finish.

JF: I am an avid runner so I try to go to the gym before going into the office.  Once I get to the office there is normally a team meeting.  My mornings consist of brainstorming sessions and discussions about continually improving our processes.  My afternoons are normally filled with answering emails and more meetings.  We are currently expanding our team so I’m currently meeting with a lot of potential candidates for various roles across the business.

3. What are your tricks for time management?

JF: I manage my time with lists.  I have a to do list for each day, and an agenda for every meeting I attend.  I also update my calendar constantly on my laptop and have it synced with my blackberry.

 

4. Best advice received when you started your career?

JH: The best advice I received was to pursue work that fulfilled me.  I had to ask myself what do I enjoy doing?  I get the most happiness leading a team, coming up with a strategy and being creative. That’s why I know I’d be just as happy being a soccer coach as I am running a fashion company.

5. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for building awareness of your work changed for the short-term and long-term?

JF: When we started Renttherunway.com we were in the middle of a recession and consumers were changing their spending habits.   They were very conscious of cost-per-wear.  Even though we’re slowing coming out of the recession we find that women are still conservative in their spending habits.

6. What’s been your proudest achievement as such immensely accomplished Entrepreneurs?

JH: We’re about to reach one million members so that will be a very proud moment for the Rent the Runway team as everyone has worked incredibly hard to reach this milestone.

7. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

JF: I think every entrepreneur naturally feels as though there aren’t enough hours in the day but I find it’s really about appreciating where you are in the moment and making time for those who are important to you.

8. Your top 3 book recommendations for our readers (and why?)

JF:Delivering Happiness” which is the story of Zappos success and “Getting to Plan B” by Randy Komisar who provides great insight into how having a bias towards action is a huge part of starting a company – something we live by at Rent the Runway.

9. What’s your advice to someone interested in starting their own business?

JH: Jenny and I had a rule from the very beginning of Rent the Runway to never write a business plan, because we think that’s a waste of time. Starting a business is a series of iterative tests. Each test eliminates some of the risks of starting a business.

Andrea Hansen, CEO Ivanka Trump Fine Jewelry

Andrea Hansen’s BIO

Andrea Hansen

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to be a solo business practitioner?

Andrea: While I am not an independent contractor, I knew from early on that I would have a position of leadership in the jewelry world. I started working in fine jewelry when I was 15 and became passionate about the product, the industry and what an important jewelry purchase means to the client and the recipient. What I knew for sure was that I wanted to be in a business that combines incredible artistry, a miracle of nature and the ability to create beautiful memories and mark special moments.

2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from start to finish.

Andrea: My mornings are quite crazy as all four of us – my husband, myself and two kids- need to get out of the house by 7:30. I am usually at the office by 8:30 and usually by then I already checked in on my business in Asia and the middle east. At the office I first try to spend some time with my production VP and my CFO early on, before everyone else arrives. The rest of my day is spent with the team working on our many fronts and new business development. I rarely take lunch, but often walk up a few blocks to Ivanka’s office and then to our retail boutique on Madison and 61st street. Those few blocks give me just the right amount of time to clear my head or work out some ideas or find a solution to whatever is up that day. I travel more than one week per month, so when I am in town, I am disciplined to work an intense day but leave the office around 6pm so I can be at home to do homework with my kids and have dinner together with my family.

3. What are a few of your “can’t live without” applications on your personal computer/smart phone?

Andrea: My social media deck, which combines all our social media efforts in one destination. My synchronized calendar with my husband and my team, and of course email access 24/7. Some people think it’s a curse, but as an executive working mother, to me it means a greater amount of flexibility and access to my kids whenever they need me.

4. What are your tricks for time management?

Andrea: I divide all actions and needs in three columns:

  • Short time frame AND generates immediate results to the company (in my case, direct impact on sales)
  • Not so urgent and has medium term impact on business
  • Important and necessary but results are long term – those things you need to get to at some point but others take precedence.

Once you train yourself to think of all tasks in those terms, it becomes clear and quite automatic which tasks require how much of your time and attention.

5. Best advice received when you started your business?

Andrea: Listen more than you speak.

6. If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?

Andrea: Networking with like minded individuals.

7. Given the current economic climate, how has your strategy for your companies changed for the short-term and long-term?

Andrea: Short term we are all doing more with less. Re-thinking the way we used to do business and being creative to achieve better results with less investment. In the long term we hope to strengthen sales and continue to grow but not forgetting the hard lessons learned over the past couple of years: be aggressive in presenting your brand but plan for a “rainy day”.

8. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Andrea: That my colleagues and my industry competitors think of me as successful, honorable and someone who is passionate and truthful.

9. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Andrea: My husband and I are proud of each other’s achievements and support each other. On weekends we head to our home in the Berkshire Mountains with our kids. There we have no internet or cel phone service, and despite whatever is going on in our professional lives, we make time for each other.

10. Two books you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)

Andrea: These two books are some of the best I have ever read. I think business leaders must have two qualities above all – creativity and the ability to inspire people to love what they do and become excellent at it.

11. If you received a surprise bonus equal to half of your monthly salary, what (if anything) would you spend it on?

Andrea: There’s not much I crave but I have been thinking for a long time about buying a really nice classic vintage watch. I might do that.

12. What are some of your most rewarding charitable involvements and why?

Andrea: I am proud to be involved with the United Nations Foundation Girl Up! Campaign. This global initiative seeks to improve the lives of 600M adolescent girls in under developed nations through education, health care and violence prevention. Girls are the future of our society and need to be given every chance to succeed. Learn more at girlup.org or ivankatrumpcollection.com

13. Who has been the most influential person to you as you’ve advanced in your career?

Andrea: Hans Stern, the founder of H.Stern for whom I worked for 24 years, who made me the professional I am and the woman I became.

 

To explore the Ivanka Trump Collection, click on the link below:

Social Media For The Ivanka Trump Collection:

Diane Danielson, Founder and Chief Social Media Strategist at Downtown Women’s Club

Diane Danielson’s BIO

Diane Danielson

IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW

1. Oprah Winfrey has been inspiring us each month with her unique approach to life and to creating our very best lives so, as a tribute to her, A La Oprah, what did you know for sure when you decided to embark on your business?

Diane: That I was filling a void for a group of people whose needs were not being met by existing networking groups.

2. Take us through a typical day with your schedule from wake up time until bed time.

Diane:

  • 6:30 a.m. – wake up and read NYTimes and HuffPo on my iphone and check to see if any emails need immediate answers (generally these involve my son’s busy sports schedule/social life).
  • 7:00 a.m. – get son up/fed/off to school
  • 8:00 a.m. – run with dog
  • 9:00-6:00 pm depending on the day, either work on Downtown Women’s Club stuff (2-3 days per week) or for Convengine (a social media consulting company I’ve partnered with to provide social media consulting for businesses needing a social media “jumpstart”). A few days per week I stop at 3:00 pm to be with my son if he’s home with me.
  • 6:00-9:00 pm kids/dinner/homework/family time
  • 9:00-12:00 pm – work

Of course if I have speaking engagements (several per month), this schedule is definitely thrown off.

3. What are your tricks for time management when there are just never enough hours in a day…?

Diane: Group “like jobs with like jobs” i.e. all phone calls on Friday morning. Try to arrange all meetings for the same day of the week. Schedule accounting/bookkeeping on Tues. Writing on Wednesday.

Each night I go through my “to do” list and rewrite it for the next day. With so manymoving parts (DWC, Convengine, speaking engagements + kids) it’s hard to remember it all without this list. And, yes, I do it the old fashioned way. I handwrite it in a spiral bound notebook. I haven’t found an online app that works as well.

4. Best advice received when you started out in your business?

Diane: You can’t please everyone. Find your sweet spot and focus on that rather than waste time trying to convince detractors.

5. When did you know for sure that your business plan was going to work?

Diane: I never operate under a 100% “sure” mentality because “disrupters” come from everywhere, especially when you are dealing with online communities and social media. This means that you have to feel comfortable constantly changing the business plan. Trying to stick to a plan when the environment has changed is not going to work.

6. If given an extra hour each day to seek new ideas and brainstorm, what are some sources you turn to?

Diane: My brilliant friends. I’ve cultivated a wonderful group of advisors/friends who give me inspiration and insights on every aspect of my life.

7. What is your business vision for the next 6 months? Next 3 years?

Diane: Six months: I’d like to be focusing 80% of my Downtown Women’s Club time and energy on our online premium members providing them with more resources like teleclasses, eBooks, and online mentoring.

Three years: I don’t plan that far out because as mentioned above, there are always disrupters which can send you in unplanned directions. Disrupters don’t just come from the business world or technology; often they come from your own personal life in the form of kids, parents, family and friends requiring our time and attention.

8. What’s been your proudest achievement as an entrepreneur?

Diane: Whenever I hear that someone has benefited from the Downtown Women’s Club. Especially when I hear it from someone who doesn’t even know that I founded it.

9. If you could re-start your business, what would you do differently and why?

Diane: I would have focused more time, money and energy on the online community of the Downtown Women’s Club rather than try to support the in-person clubs as much as we did in past years. Many of the people who join our local clubs were not interested in doing anything online and we spent a lot of time and money trying to convince them that online networking is not a bad thing. Instead, we would have been better off cultivating businesswomen who already “get” online networking. (Hence, I was not following my own advice I listed above). This is what we are doing now and why we view our role as “sponsors” of our local clubs but not actively involved.

10. What are some of the ways that you achieve balance in your life?

Diane: I don’t look at life as a balance, but more of a blend. When I can flow from work to family to friends and even time for myself, then I feel comfortable that things are working well in my life.

11. The one book you would recommend highly to our readers (and why?)

Diane: As someone who reviews books for Entrepreneur.com, it’s hard to pick just one. But I like Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. To succeed in business you need your ideas to “stick” no matter what you are doing.

12. What is your most rewarding charitable involvement and why?

Diane: Right now my pro bono work is focused on helping more women get elected to political office. If we can achieve gender parity in politics it should influence both business and culture in a positive way.

13. Who has been the most influential person as you’ve grown your business?

Diane: I’d have to say my son. As a single mom for 8 years, I grew the business around his schedule (it forced me to focus on technology and a business model that I could run virtually on a flexible time schedule). While this might have held me back some years in profitability, it’s a choice I would make again without a second thought; even knowing now how hard it was to make it all blend.

To learn more about Downtown Women’s Club, please visit their website and social media websites via the links below:

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