Shoestring Budget Finds Innovative Financing

There are a number of articles and blog posts on how those with entrepreneurial aspirations can start their businesses on a shoestring budget. My question has always been, well whose shoestring are we talking about? A toddler’s shoestring is very different from that of, oh let’s say Shaquille O’Neal’s shoestring. Huge difference!

I’ve worked with startup entrepreneurs on tight budgets and I know their frustration. There’s so much they want to do to grow the business they launched on that proverbial shoestring budget but are limited in doing so.

What they soon found out is that operations, payroll (or 1099 contractors) and marketing…the stuff you do to keep customers coming in and keep current customers happy all require their own “shoestring budget.” Before you know it that shoestring is eight feet long!

That’s when these entrepreneurs begin to look at financing options.

Conventional Methods

SBA Loans are a tried and true funding source. These loans are guaranteed by the Government and require that you:

  • Have reasonable invested equity
  • Use alternative financial resources, including personal assets, before seeking financial assistance
  • Be able to demonstrate a need for the loan proceeds
  • Use the funds for a sound business purpose
  • Not be delinquent on any existing debt obligations to the U.S. government

You’ll also need to prepare:

  • Personal and business financial statements
  • Last three years personal and business tax returns.
  • Completed loan application describing the loan request and itemizing the use of loan proceeds
  • Signed authorization for credit and background investigation
  • Management resumes from owners and primary managers

The whole process can take a month or more. If you’re still in the startup phase, this process can seem overwhelming and then what if you go through the process and not get funded?

The Crowdsourcing Phenomenon

Some entrepreneurs and small business owners have found great success on sites like and These are crowd-funding sites that allow you create a profile about your business and raise funds for that business.

There have been several big success stories to come from this type of funding; one of them being The Glif. It’s a tripod for your smartphone. Genius right? Their original funding goal was $10,000 but they ended up raising $137,000.

A word on crowd funding…you can’t create a profile, set a goal and hope to reach your goal without a lot of elbow grease. There’s a lot of work to do on your part. You’ll need to promote your campaign heavily across multiple platforms and channels in order to reach your goal!


There’s Always SharkTank

OK, if you’ve got really big vision, you could subject yourself to the sharks on ABC’s hit TV show SharkTank. Just know you better know your financial numbers like you know your name!

Kabbage’s Innovative Funding Approach

Companies are coming up with innovative ways to serve the funding needs of entrepreneurs who may not be a good fit for traditional lending solutions. One such company is Kabbage. Money was called “cabbage” back in the day and the Urban Dictionary even notes its slang use for the word money so it’s a real cool name for the business.

Kabbage is interested in getting funding into the hands of entrepreneurs and small business owners. It’s obvious by their lending requirements.

Not like traditional loan requirements, Kabbage can use real-time business data from places you do business online like:

  • Square
  • PayPal
  • Intuit Quick Books
  • Sage
  • Etsy
  • Ebay
  • Amazon
  • Business Checking
  • Yahoo

Your credit score is not the only factor and that can be a huge saving grace for some business owners.

You can apply for loans as low as $2,000 up to $100,000. There’s a six-month repayment plan and you only pay for money you actually use. And again, Kabbage uses seller history and reviews to determine loan amount.

So as your shoestring budget grows…and it will…Kabbage makes it easy to fund your growing business.

A Scattered Brand in the Marketplace


I was having a conversation with a good friend and fellow business owner when she made the statement, “Lisa, you know my brand is schizophrenic in the marketplace!” That statement painted a very real picture for me.

First I understand mental illness is no laughing matter and it wasn’t a joke. She wasn’t be insensitive to those with mental illness. It’s a very real issue and both of our lives have been touched by it. It was a very real description of what she felt her brand, her business was experiencing in the marketplace and I get it. A lot of entrepreneurs and small business owners are experiencing this same phenomenon.

Soon after I launched my business, a very wise man told me that “confused people will not buy from you.” It’s important for every entrepreneur, every small business owner to understand what problem they’re solving in the marketplace and their solution to that problem. If you’re unclear or unsure, your messaging will come across confused and customers will respond by moving on to the next business.

It sounds easy enough—define the problem and state the solution but this is probably one of the hardest things some of my clients said they had to do.

They have a very broad view of their business and narrowing the focus proves difficult. Paring it down so they can answer that infamous question…what do you do…and it not be followed by a lengthy dissertation takes work. Unfortunately, these dissertations are usually met with a lot of weight shifting, eye rolling and time checking by the poor soul who asked.

So how do you heal your brand? How do you come across as a competent business owner and brand?

First, make sure what you’re offering is something the marketplace wants.

What You’ve Got vs. What They Want

In college I remember reading that it doesn’t matter if you make the finest seven-fingered gloves the world has ever seen unless you have a buyer for seven-fingered gloves. You can use the finest materials, hand stitch it perfectly but none of that matters unless you have market to sell them to.

Some of the entrepreneurs I’ve worked with have grand ideas. They want to change the world and many times what they think are viable for profit businesses are often nonprofit organizations. Bill Gates built Microsoft first, then came the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The profitable venture came first then he and his wife could help save the world.

[tweet_box]Give the marketplace what they want, not what you think they should have. [/tweet_box]

This can be a hard pill to swallow because aspiring entrepreneurs are told to build it and they will come.

They’re told to follow their passion and the money will follow. Well not if you’re making high-end six-fingered gloves.

Aspiring entrepreneurs who aren’t able to narrow their focus, see trends and be open and flexible won’t survive.

We start businesses to yes, share our gift and talents with the world but we’re also in this to make money. We have to earn a living! So knowing what the customer wants, knowing what problems they face and creating a solution is what will help you be a profitable and sane business in the marketplace.

Shhhhh! The Marketplace is Speaking

Business owners can get so excited about their latest product or service that they fail to listen to the their audience in the marketplace. We can get caught up in our own vision and plans that we miss opportunities to generate sales.

I’ll use myself as an example.

I knew exactly the kind of client I wanted for my creative agency and I knew the kinds of projects I wanted my team and I to work on.

What we got were a lot of calls for basic web design work and logo designs and potential clients wanted to know if we offered start-up packages.

I was insulted.

The calls didn’t match my vision for the company and I pouted.

Then I decided to listen.

There’s a real need for web work out there in the marketplace from reliable designers and developers. From startups to universities, the need is real. You wouldn’t believe some of the stories I’ve heard.

I listened to business coaches I knew. I listened to the customers that reached out to us.

I listened to the media that said women were starting business in the U.S. at twice the rate of men.

So instead of sulking I created a business and a product specifically for this audience. People who were starting businesses, needed logos and business cards and a website and bundled it all together at a reasonable price.

This new business allows me to serve this customer, make a profit and still follow my passion.

It worked. And since it’s a pretty automated system, I can dedicate my time to my primary business.

[tweet_box]If you listen and give the marketplace what they want with excellent customer service, they will reward you with the sale (most times). [/tweet_box]

Final Words

If you don’t want your brand or business to seem confused in the marketplace or be all over the place with service offerings, take a good amount of time deciding what problem you’re going to solve. Evaluate what you have to offer versus the needs and wants of the marketplace. Ask yourself if there is a need for your product or service. Who will buy it? Do they have a history of buying what you offer? Is your idea truly a for-profit business or is it a nonprofit organization?

Once you’ve answered these questions, once you can clearly and succinctly tell your audience what problem you solve and why they should choose you, then be quiet and listen. Your customers, the marketplace, even your colleagues (competitors) will tell you what’s needed/wanted and even how much they’re willing to pay for it.

The key to a lucid brand is being clear on what you do and who you serve, listening to that audience and being willing to adjust.

Aspiring Entrepreneur: Stay on your job!

True story. I started my business out of necessity. I had just left a nice job at a nonprofit organization for what I thought was a bigger and better opportunity with a new homebuilder. It was 2008 and the housing market was hot. Well, you know the story. The bottom fell out of the market and so did my job with the homebuilder. Had I listened to my gut I would have stayed at the nonprofit and rode out the recession with a steady paycheck.

I started my business as a means to survive the Great Recession. It wasn’t under the best of circumstances by any means. I was out of work like most Americans and whatever savings and unemployment benefits I had, all eventually ran dry. So this business was started on a wing and a prayer and it’s been hard.

Starting a business at a disadvantage did teach me a few things. I’ve certainly learned how to be resourceful. I learned there are people out there who will do work for five bucks and five bucks was definitely in my budget. Well sometimes. There were certain things I had to learn how to do because there was no way I could afford to pay someone to do it for me. I’ve got great new skill sets like audio and video editing because those things had to be done to launch my podcast. I’ve worked part-time jobs at Staples and Wal-Mart to help make ends meet. It has not been easy. I even tried to go back to work full time. I was the top candidate for one position…I was all but a shoe-in to get the gig and at the last moment they went with the number two candidate. I. Was. Mortified.

So after all I’ve experienced I’m very comfortable in telling aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners…stay on your job.

Yes that’s right. Stay on your 9-to-5.


As much power as lieth within you…stay put.

Take deep breaths.



Practice yoga.

Take up boxing.

Do what you have to, but stay put for a season.

Based on what I’ve experienced and learned…here’s why.

Business is built on relationships. Yes it’s true that people do business with businesses they know and trust and trust is not built overnight. There’s a phenomenon very similar to people watching called business watching. I can’t tell you how many people have emailed privately or called me to say they watched me first..for months…and then made contact. If you don’t have a big circle or influential circle, you’re going to put in legwork. You’re going to put in more than a few miles on your car to get out and start meeting people. Let’s be real…that means clothes to the cleaners, keeping your wardrobe presentable, washing your car, paying networking entrance fees, parking/valet fees, gas and wear and tear on your vehicle. You’re going to need business cards and if you’re smooth, your own personal name badge. And you haven’t landed your first client yet or made key connections. You’ll need a job or some kind of income to supplement all this relationship building and networking.

You will make mistakes. Some of them will be costly. As a graphic designer, there was nothing more painful than to have to “eat” a job. That means you have a client’s work printed and there’s a mistake and you have to pay for it. Well, you spent the client’s deposit as soon as you got it to pay the light bill. Sometimes these types of mistakes are enough to shut a business down. When you have no savings, no side hustle or supplemental income one seemingly small mistake can shut down your business.

The Steep Learning Curve. If you’ve never run a business before, trust me there’s a pretty steep learning curve. Pinning down your target audience is a big one. So many business owners start off saying everyone is their customer. I’ve said before and I’ll say it again…I promise you don’t want everybody as your customer. Take my class and find out why. As a startup you’re learning what works and what you should never do again. If a coach isn’t in your budget to help you through this process, go visit the lovely people at SCORE. All that gray hair will bless your life and your business. Retired and semi-retired experts will counsel you for FREE. If you live in Houston, go see Ms. Rita Leader. That woman is phenomenal.

There’s that funny thing about momentum. So much effort is exerted to get the wheel moving. O.M.G. Running a business requires that you’re consistent in your marketing efforts and;

Marketing is not cheap. Yes, there are some thing you can do on your own, but I promise there will come a time, when you’re ready to #Crush25K* and join the #30Percent** club, and #ClubOnePointEight***, you’re going to have to make a sizable investment in yourself and your marketing efforts. I promise you can’t do that on a shoe string budget.

They don’t make them like they used too. Stuff breaks and always at the worst opportune time.Computers crash, cars break down, the section of roof right over your home office has a leak during the rainy season. You will question your own sanity and will want to throw in the towel many a day but that entrepreneurial bug just won’t go away. You’re going to need a financial cushion to weather these kinds of storms. Cash flow is crucial.

I know this because I’ve lived it.

So I would advise anyone who’s itching to come off of their 9-to-5 that if they don’t have their financial ducks in a row to wait. You’re going to need to collect more than a few paychecks to ride out the self-funded startup roller coaster.

If I had to do over again…would I have stayed at the nonprofit?

Knowing what I know now…I most certainly would.

I just would have been one praying/meditating/power walking sister on my lunch in order to keep sane.

Whatever you decide, I wish you well and much success.

*#Crush25K – Seventy percent of all women-owned businesses in the United States have an annual revenue of $25K or less.

** #30Percent – The 30 percent of women-owned businesses that make above $25K in annual revenue.

*** #ClubOnePointEight – 1.8 percent of all women-owned businesses in the U.S. making annual revenues of $1 million or more.


Market Saturation: How To Stand Out


I recently conducted an informal survey on the collaboration habits of women business owners. You can read the report here and find the infographic here.

I believe the results of this small sample reveal a much larger trend taking place in the marketplace.

When survey participants were asked their industry, nearly 35 percent of respondents classified themselves as consultants or coaches.

The next industry represented was advertising/marketing/PR at 13.58 percent.

I thought about this. I thought about the 10,000 baby boomers who retire daily and those that forgo retirement and start businesses instead.

I also thought about the aftermath of the Great Recession.

How millions of people became chronically unemployed, fell off unemployment rolls and my best guess is became solopreneurs, entrepreneurs and small business owners. The U.S. State Department has no record or stats for these people.

I even asked Kristi Jackson of the Women CEO Project her thoughts on this phenomenon during our podcast interview. Kristi had some insightful things to say about this. You can listen to the podcast here.

So with so many people now throwing their hat in the small business ring, how do you begin to stand out in a very crowded or saturated marketplace?

Business Owners Got the Message

Small business owners understand the importance of social media and content marketing and we’re blogging and tweeting and posting content. So much so, the Internet has become this very noisy place and getting your message heard requires lots of effort to those not currently on your email list. We have all created posts that ask questions (Want more followers?) or offer tips (Move Up In SEO Rank in 3 Steps). There’s no shortage of content, good or bad on the world wide web. So then it becomes a matter of how do you get seen? How do you get your work to rise to the top of the pile?

Create Good Content and Get to Pitching

One of the things Kristi said in our interview was that even though your industry may be saturated, not everyone is producing good work. They’re what we called surface entrepreneurs; those hoping for fast money and quick notoriety. I believe good work will eventually rise to the top, just like cream. But producing good work alone won’t get you seen in and of itself. You’re going to need some help from influential people. Angela Simmons, business owner and daughter of hip-hop legend Rev. Run of Run DMC understands this and is committed to helping startups get in front of the right people on her site. You’ll need to learn how to pitch your work to the media and to experts in your industry to help amplify your message. Selena Soo and Susan Harrow are just a few of the experts in this area who can help you with your pitch.

Syndication Helps You Amplify Your Message

Another way to help amplify your message is through syndicated sites like Business 2 Community and Social Media Examiner. Work I’ve submitted to such sites has landed on Yahoo! Small Business Advisor and Microsoft.

Follow Through

According to Hendrik de Vries article, “Avoid the “Just Following Up” Email, the magic happens somewhere between the fifth and twelfth contact. Unfortunately only 10 percent will contact a prospect more than three times. [tweet_box]There’s no such thing as three strikes and you’re out when it comes to following up with prospects.[/tweet_box] If you want to stand out, you’ll commit to the follow through.

So yes, the marketplace may be saturated and the Internet noisy. However, the number of those producing good content, making pitches and following through is relatively low.

Do these things consistently and you’ll happen upon that clearing in the forest.

If you need help creating good content (infographics, articles, and so on) just visit PrettyWork Creative. We’ll have you pitch perfect in no time.

ShopTalk Ep 18: Growing Successful Businesses

What does it take to grow a successful business in today’s marketplace? There are as many answers as there are Justin Beiber fans. I appreciate the wisdom of Angela Simmons, daughter of hip hop legend Rev. Run of Run DMC and blogged about here. She said:

“Many people don’t understand that in order to be successful you need [a] strong team of unique individuals and an even stronger support system motivating you through it all.” – Angela Simmons, Feature Article, I Am Limitless, Urban Up Media

In addition to a great support team, Kristi Jackson of the Women CEO Project and founder of the Women of Power Virtual Summit, shares her truth about what it takes to be a successful business owner. Hold on tight, you’re in for a great episode.

Enjoy the show!

[pullquote align=”left”]Kristi-Jackson
Connect with Kristi!
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About Kristi: Kristi L. Jackson MBA is the recent winner of Houston’s 40 under 40 Young Business Professionals, the 2014 Women in Business Award and the 2013 Humanitarian Award. Kristi is also the Founder of Women CEO Project and was recognized by the White House as a Citizen Innovator and Entrepreneur for her work to better the lives of women through her company,  Women CEO Project. Kristi was 1 of 40 in the US, invited to the White House to participate on the Social Opportunity Series Summit July 3, 2012.

Women CEO Project is a global think tank and virtual training company for women entrepreneurs, which combs the globe the find the TOP teachers, speakers and consultants to offer the women a diverse curriculum of over 40 business courses a year in planning, strategy, branding, negotiations, leadership and many more.


Please be sure to leave comments and if you’re listening in iTunes, please rate and review the show!

Mentioned on the show:


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Intro music by my nephew:  Justin Daniels Sanchez.

Cover art by PrettyWork.

Show airs biweekly.

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Successful Businesses Need A Team


“Many people don’t understand that in order to be successful you need [a] strong team of unique individuals and an even stronger support system motivating you through it all.” – Angela Simmons, Feature Article, I Am Limitless, Urban Up Media

This is a truth I’ve come to understand as a small business owner. Successful businesses have teams.

It is no longer enough to simply be good at what you do.

The number of people who do what you do, maybe even do it better than you (but never quite like you) can be in the thousands—maybe even millions when you start thinking globally. Global competition has forced a lot of prices down. There’s a virtual assistant in Pakistan who charges $5.47 per hour and is used by some pretty influential people. They’re listed on this VA’s site as examples of her work. I wonder if they know this? She’s obviously very good at what she does and she does it for five dollars and forty-seven cents per hour.

So experts and the search engine gods tell us that in order to be found online we need to create original content, packed with searchable keywords and phrases. This morning I read a great article about how to make your content stand out because everybody is creating content. You can read it here. We’re writing blogs, creating YouTube videos, infographics and memes. We’re writing white papers, ebooks, case studies, witty social media updates all in an effort to be seen and draw our target audience into our sales funnel. It’s noisy out here on the world wide web and no one wants to be banished to page three of any web search.

That’s why Angela’s quote really resonated with me.

It’s the truth I’ve come to realize.

[tweet_box]If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a team to build successful businesses.[/tweet_box]  I appreciate that influential people like Angela get this. According to the I Am Limitless article, Angela “understands the struggles of being unheard in the industry and not being able to be seen so she’s striving to help as many creative individuals as possible by market their brands on her site.”

If you follow Kristi Jackson of the WomenCEO Project, you know that she teaches her clients that you have to come from behind your computer and get out there and meet people. I wholeheartedly agree. In addition to being good, you have to do all these things and connect with influential people who can help amplify your message…people like Angela.

I believe this to be the new reality for all entrepreneurs.

With baby boomers opting to forgo retirement and reinventing themselves as consultants and small business owners and the millions of chronically unemployed during the Great Recession who turned to entrepreneurship, it’s crowded out here in the marketplace and on the Internet and certain markets are saturated.

I recently finished a report on the collaboration habits of women business owners and one of the findings showed that nearly 35 percent of all the women surveyed classified themselves as a consultant or coach. If we were to take a bigger survey, we might just find this industry saturated making it that much more difficult to be seen, heard and experience the success promised by many.

Entrepreneurs…small business owners, the rules of the game have changed and if we want to be successful we have to not only produce good work, we have to hire a team to help tell our story and amplify our message. That’s why when one notable bestselling author wrote you don’t need to hire a team to start your business I didn’t finish reading their book. Now granted, you don’t need a team to start your business; there’s a lot you can do on your own but to achieve the kind of success this author has, you better believe you’re going to need a team sooner rather than later.

I like Angela’s quote. A strong team for your business and an even stronger team to keep you motivated.

Herein lies the new way of growing successful businesses.

What can I bring to your team? I’m the one who makes sure your brand doesn’t go out in the world with the proverbial spinach in its teeth.

Collaboration: More Dream Than Nightmare

I’ve heard the stories.

I’m sure you have too.

They make great headlines and made for TV movies.

Sometimes when women in business do business with other women in business things can go bad. I mean really, really bad.

I know women who have vowed to never do business or collaborate with another female business owner ever again.

So badly burned are they that everyone is suspect and trust is an issue.

Are these stories the norm?

If they are, why do women have the reputation of being excellent collaborators?

Thankfully the joint ventures I’ve worked on have gone well. My last project with Kaira Boston, The Small Business Whisperer went extremely well. I have no hellish tales to tell so I wanted to find out for myself. I wanted to know how other business women felt about joint ventures.

So I conducted an informal online survey and 81 wonderful women from the U.S., Canada and the U.K. responded.

You can read the full report here.

Below is an infographic highlighting the report’s key stats.

According to the report for every one bad experience, there were at least five more that were positive or neutral.

Women joining together to increase their market share and increase their revenues is more a dream than it is a nightmare.

To all those who have been hurt and disillusioned by the collaborative process, I encourage you to try it one more time. The right partner and the right project is certainly a worthwhile venture.

Below is the Women’s Collaboration Project 2014 Infographic highlighting key stats from the report.



Should You Raise Your Prices?

Today’s post is by an awesome woman I met through my collaborative project with Kaira Boston, The Small Business Whisperer. Kaira and I worked on a webinar together and then I invited her to be a guest on my podcast show. You can listen to the show here. The right collaborative effort can continue to payoff even after the project is done! Shana Lynn Yao, Your Marketing Mastermind, listened to the podcast because of Kaira’s Facebook post. Shana dropped me an email and I promise we’ve probably sent 50 emails since then! Shana is this smart and very in-tune marketer whose ability to see value and purpose is mind boggling. She’s part of the reason for me tearing down my site and rebuilding it in the last 48 hours. So please enjoy Shana’s post…”Should You Raise Your Prices.” Enjoy!


Whether you have a product or service based business, your prices and how well you communicate them, affect the clients you attract, the image of your brand, and your overall income. In other words, your prices are everything.

While most people know that what determines your price is the market – this includes your competitors, economic conditions, and geography (for brick and mortar stores), few people know that what really affects your prices is your personal value.

“Value?” you might be asking?

Yes value. Your perspective on your personal value and what you know to be valuable to you, is the base level indicator of the prices you charge and the perception of the value your customer receives.

Let me explain.


Value is not just about money. Value is who you are, what you offer the world, and more.

The dictionary definition is: val·ue 1. The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. 2. The material or monetary worth of something. 3. A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

Because your personal value is tied to how you were brought up, your family and peers, your experiences in the world, and the world as it is today, there is much to be confused about when determining what real value is. Take for example in the case of money.

In ancient times, things that had value included gold and barley – actual, tangible things that were traded for value. Today, we use paper and plastic, which has no real value, to represent money. A $1 bill and a $100 bill are exactly the same – only the message on the bill is different, and this results in a wide difference in value. So when we use paper money and plastic credit cards, it’s hard for us to judge it’s real value.

Anyone that has had credit card debt knows this painful lesson all to well. But that doesn’t make it any easier to determine true value when what we see (paper and plastic representing a dollar value) is not what we get (cars, jewelry, and other material possessions).

And what about time? Time, probably tops the list of things of value, along with friends and family, and life experiences.

We all get 86,400 seconds a day. It seems like a lot, but the days just fly by. And how often have you found yourself checking your Facebook page only to emerge in a brain fog an hour later thinking, “What just happened? I was just checking my page?” Or maybe you plop down in front of the TV and three hours later wonder, “What a waste of time.”

So you can see how we, as humans, could get a distorted view of what to value. Unfortunately, that doesn’t help us define our value to better judge our prices.


In order to base your price on the value you offer clients, you must understand what your value is. When you know your true worth – and this includes knowing the value you provide in your product or service, knowing what your client values, understanding the value you are able to create in your client’s life – you make smarter business decisions and better pricing decisions. Your life AND your business actually become better because of it, AND you are able to impact the lives of others to a greater extent.

The most valuable thing you offer your clients are not the product or service you sell. The most valuable thing is you. So, for example, say you are a health coach and someone comes to you to help them lose weight for their big wedding day. What you do is help them lose weight with your weight loss system, but your value is providing peace of mind to your client, trust that you will make the most special day of their life truly magical, and the confidence you give your client for a lifetime – priceless.

Now lets say you have a dog food store. The product is dog food with a predetermined market price. But what if your store has a nutritionist for dogs on staff for free consults, your clients can groom their dogs there and get a free massage, and every time you go in, the manager greets you and your dog by name and gives you A+ service? Could you charge more? Absolutely!

Price, then, is not only based on the actual item or service delivered, it’s based on the relative worth to the customer. And that is based on how you judge your own value and the value you set for your customer. You see, when you know your true worth and set your expectation high, you set a standard for your customer and essentially are helping them ask themselves, “are you worth it?”

As entrepreneurs, we determine our price and our value. So unless you are the owner of a $.99 cent store franchise, you need to be aware of your personal value and how you can infuse it throughout your business, in order to make the income you deserve.



yourmarketingmastermind-shana-yao-slide-about1About Shana

With an eye for style and simplicity, Shana Yao has a gift for transforming businesses and lives with personalized branding and by creating understandable and actionable steps focused on people’s connection to purpose and self-fulfillment.

Shana Yao is a business and marketing strategist, creative visionary, and Founder of, a website for entrepreneurs and small businesses that helps them create breakthroughs in their business and life to achieve greater success.

To read more, please click here. Follow Shana on Twitter @ShanaLynnYao



ShopTalk Ep 17: Collaboration For Business Success

I’m in the middle of conducting a study on women business owners and our collaboration practices. If you’re a female business owner and want to share your collaborative story…good, bad, or ugly, take this quick survey.

This has to be one of my favorite quotes about the matter. It’s from a man, small business consultant and strategist, Mr. Kenneth D. Steadman, MBA.

When it comes to female business owners, you may be right. From my experience, it appears that women don’t mine admitting what they don’t know and are more willing to form an alliance. Men, for the most part, know everything (or more accurately, THINK they know) so you can’t tell them anything, nor do they need help with anything.

Collaboration for business success seems to come pretty easily for women business owners. But women aren’t the only ones collaborating. Even head-to-head competitors work on joint ventures. There’s so much to be gained when businesses work together. You can better your industry and solve problems when you get great minds together (not egos mind you).

The Marketing Stylist™ and The Small Business Whisperer, Kaira Boston talk about a collaborative project that went well and some things to consider before you enter a joint venture project.

Enjoy the show!

[pullquote align=”left”]
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About Kaira Boston, The Small Business Whisperer: “I have always wanted to be a small business owner when I grew up. I wanted to be a successful sustainable business owner, like my dad. He was always able to arrange his schedule around the events of the children. I noticed and liked that flexibility. That meant late nights to finish up work that would be missed the next day as he traveled to a field hockey game or taking some work on our summer beach trip. None the less, I saw it as a win-win situation.” My experience throughout my 12+ years in corporate America has been about understanding user requirements and translating those into technical processes. My passion for organizing propelled me through the ranks to implementation manager. Combining those skills, I have been able to create systems that allow the small business owner to operate more efficiently affording more time for revenue generation.

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Intro music by my nephew:  Justin Daniels Sanchez.

Cover art by PrettyWork.

Show airs biweekly.

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ShopTalk Ep 16: Fake It Til You Make It?

I’ve heard this phrase used by lots of people in various scenarios but here’s what I know for sure, fake it til you make it has some serious consequences. Sometimes even deadly ones. Entrepreneurs are told to fake it til they make it and according to some experts this is very dangerous. There are a number of entrepreneurs who experience wicked mood swings; the highs are wonderful and lows can be devastating.

April is National Stress Awareness Month and I decided to talk to fellow entrepreneur and Your Mind and body Coach, Reba Charleston about the impact of fake it til you make it.

Fellow entrepreneurs if you’re feeling stressed out (there are times we all do), Reba and I want you to take care of yourself. Be good to yourself. Breathe. Yes, there are seasons where they’ll be some late nights but this should be the exception and not the norm! Listen to the show and you’ll hear our thoughts on this whole, “I don’t need but two hours of sleep” bull. Well, I kind of give away our sentiment but your health and well being are our concern.

Enjoy this week’s show and take care of yourself. Okay?

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About Reba Charleston: Reba facilitates what she likes to call Grown Folk Recess and does this as a fitness instructor in the Houston area. She’s also a life coach and is here to help you recapture your energy, joy, and zest for life. Reba says. “you’ve got a lot of fun left in ya” and it’s her passion to work with “busy women who are desperate to find energy and inspiration in their day-to-day living.”

Please be sure to leave comments and if you’re listening in iTunes, please rate and review the show!

Mentioned on the show:


Connect with The Marketing Stylist on Facebook and Twitter.

Intro music by my nephew:  Justin Daniels Sanchez.

Cover art by PrettyWork.

Show airs biweekly.

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