The Tin Shingle Blog - #LifeofBizOwners
Right around the time of Black Friday, in the midst of the shopping rush both online and on sidewalks, Tin Shingle made contributions to two charities affiliated with two of our members: Sidney Small for Women's Education Project, and Toby Tanser of Shoe4Africa. We pledge to donate a portion of membership sales to a non-profit affiliated with one of our members, and are grateful to be able to announce these donations to you:
WOMEN'S EDUCATION PROJECT
Young women of limited means but unlimited potential come to Women’s Education Project’s centers in South India to pursue college and career dreams. With energy, optimism and fortitude, they attend WEP’s college preparatory and personal development programs. WEP operates two centers in South India, “Sudar” (”light” in Tamil) in Madurai, Tamil Nadu and Ushassu (”light” in Telugu) in a village south of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh. Students come to these centers on the recommendation of their teachers, local NGOs, and often, their friends.
In her own words, Tin Shingle member, Sidney Small, CPA, is on the board because: "I believe in education as a tool to lift women and their families out of poverty. WEP helps the women of Southern India from the most poverty stricken backgrounds to get a college education. With a very small budget, this nonprofit has created a community of support for these young women. I love the work they are doing and I love the energy and enthusiasm of Zoe Timms, the director and founder of WEP."
Zoe Timms has informed us that our donation will help approximately five young women go to college and attend the WEP center in South India. For more information on the Women's Education Project, please click here.
How you can directly impact women of Southern India.
Shoe4Africa was started in 1995 with the idea to take something easily discard — used running shoes — and give to people, who through circumstance, were unable to afford their own. Founder and Full Time Volunteer, Toby Tanser, recognized a serious health component resulting from being barefoot: Hookworm. He organized a running team for vitamin/mineral deficiency and found that half of the runners tested positive for the HIV virus. Toby's insight and ability to be so in tune with the people he helps is what guides the Shoe4Africa mission into important areas of projects specializing in Education, Women's Empowerment and Peace, and Health. It started with the gift of a few pairs of shoes, and has grown into the completion of several large and small scale projects, from building a primary school to organizing fundraising marathons, and so much more. Currently, Shoe4Africa is fundraising to build the first children's hospital in Sub Saharan Africa.
Here is how you can click for a brick to help build the hospital.
Thanks goes to Tin Shingle members, who by joining Tin Shingle, made these donations possible.
We are wishing you a warm and wonderful Thanksgiving this year, a holiday spent giving thanks for your family, your friends and the support groups that are the invisible hands holding you up even if you're feeling uncertain. During times like these, we are thankful for entrepreneurial minds like yours that think fast on your feet and recognize opportunity, even when it's hiding in a shadow. We are thankful for the many ways that exist to connect and share information, to strengthen bonds with family and to create exposure for what you have created. We wish you few moments (or hours) of silence, when you can close your eyes and enjoy the sweet potatoes mixed with cranberry sauce, a bit of turkey, a glob of stuffing and a dip of gravy to bring it all together. In other words, we're wishing you the ability to enjoy the moment today.
PS: After today, we are promoting our member's special sales for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday. Tune in to our Facebook and Twitter @collectivee to find the fabulous deals from amazing businesses.
In February of 2009, we dreamed of having a nationally recognized Entrepreneur Day. Well, Inc.com has just reported that the Grassoper Group had the same thought and launched a Twitter campaign to try and convince President Obama to create a national holiday for Entrepreneurs.
Last Monday, Present Obama did sign it into law! Declaring the week from November 14 to November 20 as National Entrepreneur Week, and as reported by Inc.com, called for " “all Americans to commemorate this week with appropriate programs and activities, and to celebrate November 19, 2010, as National Entrepreneurs’ Day.”
We celebrate, and salute! Initially, we thought it a holiday in which entrepreneurs would be encouraged to stop working, just for a minute, to relax and recharge. But with this spotlight, the wheels are turning to create opportunities to help people "Buy Entrepreneur"!
So, years ago, we started a program called Buy Entrepreneur, to encourage all customers and potential clients to "Buy Entrepreneur" and support independent brands. Click here to see who of our membership supports Buy Entrepreneur, and please share with us in the comments below when you "bought entrepreneur" this week!
Ok, I'll start: I just bought a Tic Toc Tokei clock with deer on it for my daughter's room, from the Beacon, NY based boutique, Echo, hand-made by Rep-Air. Love it. And buying it felt so good because I supported two entrepreneurs at once.
Unless you've been living underneath a rock or completely disconnected from any news source, you've seen the story of flight attendant Steven Slater's slide to job freedom earlier this week. Whether you agree with his departure style or not, it's hard not to think of topics job related topics from job satisfaction to the environment one works and its effect on attitude and mental health. I can tell you that the last job I had before starting Red Branch PR found me so miserable I too quit, which eventually led me to Tin Shingle as well (now that is a story for another day....). Long story short, though working for myself can mean long, seemingly endless days and wearing more hats than I ever felt possible, it's all worth it because I love what I do and who I work with, and if I don't, I simply do not work with them! Ah, entrepreneurial freedom!
That said, I ran across this article by Kiri Blakely at Forbes.com about this recent spell of employee's quitting jobs in a public manner, and job satisfaction in general, and thought I'd pass it along.
Anyone else leave a job they didn't love to pursue their great entrepreneurial dream?
I became familiar with Success Magazine both from my own reading (I'm obsessed with reading any magazines dedicated to entrepreneurship, small business and the like) as well as from working on stories about innovative entrepreneurs with them. When I discovered Success on Facebook I hopped and became a fan right away to be sure I didn't miss any useful articles. If you're not familiar with Success Magazine, visit them online. I personally find them both motivating and insightful they pride themselves in "providing a unique window into the lives, practices and philosophies of today’s greatest achievers—top CEOs, revolutionary entrepreneurs and other extraordinary leaders."
[Mini-tangent: If you are on Facebook (and if you're not we need to talk....) you should be sure to "Like" and follow magazines including lifestyle magazines relevant to your brand and business trade magazines. It's difficult to run a business and keep up with all the magazines, articles and trend stories popping up, but if you check out your Facebook feed they often post articles they believe readers will enjoy and it's an easy way, bite-sized way to keep up with them.]
That said, today in my Facebook feed I found a great piece on stress survival tactics for entrepreneurs. Anyone who runs their own business and says they aren't stressed from time to time (or often as the case may be for some) is lying to you. In this article Success Mag publisher Darren Hardy advises on how to keep your stress in check, which is also sure to keep your business flowing and in my opinion, make your mind a better home for creative ideas and strategies.
With that said, come on my fellow stressed out business owners, let's take steps to ending unnecessary stress and making use of those feelings when they do enter into our lives.
CHECK OUT WHAT DARREN HARDY SAYS ABOUT STRESS SURVIVAL TACTICS HERE:
Holy hot bananas! There is a fantastic article in the Wall Street Journal that is sure to get you lit if you were having overcast days about your business and the time you put into pursuing your ideas. I am extremely biased because this article includes my brother, which is why I read it in the first place! There are layers upon layers of reasons why I loved this article:
My brother, TJ Hellmuth, is a filmmaker and co-founder of RED Rents and Electric Orange Media. For years he has been taking job after job, honing his craft of filming while taking related jobs such as "grip" (aka big burly men who lug around lighting equipment on set to establish the lighting for the shot) and other such jobs that give him specialized experience and the ability to see scenes from different angles. Obviously there is an entrepreneurial spirit that runs in our family (ahem), leading him to invest in a special camera called the RED, which he decided to rent out to studios or individual filmmakers. He could have hemmed and hawed over the decision on investing in this particular camera, as industry talk can go both ways about which tools to use, but he trusted himself and dove in. He created different rental packages for the camera: rent the camera, rent the camera and the operator of the camera (my brother or his team), rent other equipment, and so on.
This decision led to a plethora of different jobs in different cities with different responsibilities. His latest job is for a film being made in Akron, OH about a true-to-life story of a soapbox derby that lost its funding and needed a bailout called 25 Hill. Producer/director/actor Corbin Bernsen spotted the story and wrote a script about the derby's struggle, after it lost most corporate funding in 2007 during the financial crisis when companies were being very cautionary about their return on investment, and pulling sponsorships. Not only did the derby lose funding, but it owed the bank $623,000, and the bank was calling the loan.
The timing of this is all too relevant. According to the Wall Street Journal article on the soapbox derby, "The competition began in Dayton, Ohio, during the Depression, when children started racing homemade cars. The first "All-American Race" was held there in 1934. It moved to Akron a year later. Derby Downs, the group's track, was built by the federal Works Progress Administration." And during this financial crisis, it's about to die, relying on donations and $500 licensing fees of the soapbox derby kits it sells. In the 1960's Chevrolet sponsored the race, and over the years, according to the article, "...big corporate backers brought celebrities, including Ronald Reagan, Rock Hudson, Evel Knievel, and O.J. Simpson. The late actor Jimmy Stewart attended six times." But that was long ago.
Enter Corbin Bernsen. He was attracted to the struggle of the derby, and the family feeling attached to the physical activity and passion in a time of digital connections. The derby has been trying to get creative about other sources of funding. Bernsen, for his movie, has signed a contract with Geico, the auto insurance company, according to the article. Geico will "play the role of the sponsor that comes to the rescue in the film." Additionally, Geico has agreed to sponsor the soapbox derby in real life.
Movie magic? Or a lot of hard work driven by a commitment to pursuing a dream. From my vantage point, this was the result of a lot of hard work and sticking to a vision. Not to mention the boost Akron, OH is getting for being the location of the film, as states try to create ways to attract films to spend their budgets in their towns to pump life into local businesses.
It's an all around feel-good story, with a moral: create your own luck. Work hard. Stay in touch with your passion.
Thanks again to Sabina for digging around the online news sources for PR angles, and stumbled upon this Op-Art piece from the New York Times for freelancers (which can translate into small business owners and entrepreneurs). Ha! Our favorites:
- If you do you not use Twitter, you do not qualify as a freelancer and may not use this form
- The deductions you got for using different Twitter symbols, such as # and RT
- If you have health insurance, you do not qualify as a freelancer and may not use this form (health insurance as a hinderance to small business and entrepreneurs for taking the risk is a particular pet peeve of ours...this is obviously a sarcastic fake form)
- The popularity of food blogs
We hope you enjoy.
Alright, entrepreneurs. I'm not a financial junkie, or even very good at it. What I am around here is the Chief Nudger of Retirement Planning & Tax Preparation. This probably goes way back to my mom instilling in me not to carry a lot of debt on credit cards, and trying to establish credit history for us while in college, so that we could benefit later on (it worked).
We at Tin Shingle are offering a financial planning course specifically tailored for entrepreneurs. Why tailored for us? Because we have to part with our own money. Nothing comes out of our checks automatically. We most likely don't have direct payment. We are paying our own vendors or employees, setting aside our own money for quarterly tax estimates, and setting aside our own % of what's left over into a savings account. Or at least we should be.
There is a method to the madness, and once the method is established, parting with this money becomes very easy. Let me address this word I just used - "parting". For me, putting money into a savings account or IRA feels like I'm parting with it. I can't use it. I can't invest in my business with it. I can't spend it on clothes. I think there is a mental block that we have against saving, that it will hinder our growth. Quite the contrary. It opens doors to larger opportunities.
I watch Suze Orman enough to know that most debt needs to be wrangled in, owning a home is generally good, but mostly, a system must be in place. Not sure if she would have "Approved" me on the home purchase (those of you who watch the show know how she likes to DENY).
Tin Shingle members get their everyday 25% discount on this 4-week telephone workshop to set up financial planning goals with Galia Gichon, who is bringing her Simply Money course/program online for the first time. It is not scary, I promise. It is baby steps. No personal info is shared, just to help you lay the groundwork for the big picture, even if you're far away from it at the moment. We can do it!!
I am in the workplace, yet work from a sunny porch. I'm not in a 9-5 job with an HR department mandating my vacation time and maternity leave, but when I found out I was pregnant, a little bit of fear for my job included itself in the celebrations. I am an entrepreneur, a woman who runs a lot of things at once (not a one-woman-show, but...) and I'm pregnant.
CONFESSION #1: Assumptions
As someone who hires others for project-based jobs, and works with people on an ongoing basis in order to produce website projects for Tin Shingle and Katie James Pixelated, I have an awareness of children, and if children can affect deadlines I set for clients. The same goes for any life issue, and for any busy contractor who is managing several clients at once, but there is a certain assumption from others once "baby" or "pregnant" is mentioned, that you won't be available anymore, or for a while. My confession is that this does cross my mind that they might be right, despite my total support of mothers working (I don't even like calling it out because I see it as such a normal thing), and my total knowledge that mothers can handle working and raising a family. But the truth is, stuff happens that prevents you from working at your usual pace. And it's not like you can hide your pregnancy. People want to be happy for you, wish you well, and may need to know if you ate all of the wrong foods one weekend, followed by a stupid Wendy's cookie dough Frosty, because it explains why you "fell off the grid" one Monday when you got suddenly sick (what? no more fried fish and chips?). Or, the tests that come up, like the gestational diabetes screening test that takes an hour, requiring you to book projects on that day that do not require you to be online, but that you can work on (designing website mockups, reconciling Amex charges in QuickBooks, answering emails to keep jobs spinning, etc). So...you're still working, you're just working from an OB room, answering email on the iPhone and working with team members to get deadlines done. Not to mention the fact that that that screening test just led to the 3-hour confirmation test for a Tuesday morning at 8:15am, where you'd have to stay in the OB room for 3 hours while nurses draw blood once an hour while you've been fasting. Not to worry. This busy entrepreneur was raised by a mother who always packed her a back of goodies on road trips, so I will not be idle.
CONFESSION #2: Entrepreneurial Life at the End of the Tunnel to the New World
As much as I don't want Tin Shingle members and clients thinking I will disappear..., will I actually disappear? Will I find that iPhone app that turns the phone into a modem for a Mac (where is that darn thing??) This is a first time pregnancy, so I have no idea what my days and nights will be like, aside from stories people have shared. I confess that I do think my work life will end. I know this isn't true, because if it ended I would be twitching all the way to the kitchen. My mother raised me to have a career, which I have. The only difference is, I never wore all of those suits she bought me, and I don't work for a company that provides for me health insurance (I got that through the Freelancers Union, and now through my husband's union). So even though I know that I won't disappear and that my business will end, I have no idea what it will all look like (members and clients take note: this is just the fear talking... ;) I'm not going anywhere).
CONFESSION #3: Inspired by others I see doing it
One of the best benefits of my career and as co-founder of Tin Shingle, the entrepreneurs agency with community, is that I am surrounded by other entrepreneurs of like mind and lifestyle. They alone show me that I can do it. That I can raise a happy family and a happy career at the same time.
- Katie Danziger of nomie baby has three children and was so inspired by her experiences with them, that she created her nomie baby car seat cover. She just landed her product in Diapers.com and BuyBuyBaby.com.
- Cori Snyder Schuman of Celebrity Chef the Game has figured out how to distribute her board game for foodies through Amazon while raising her daughter.
- Outi Putkonan of Mugi Pottery Studio raises two rambunctious children while co-running an Upper West Side pottery studio in NYC, and she's filled that studio to the max with adult and kids classes, Date Night with Pottery, and many other ideas that she cranks into fruition. Our last phonecall was to dicuss website enhancements, which she conducted from the privacy of their coner of an ER while her son got stitches.
- Kathy Malone of the Brooklyn Indie Designers Market on Smith Street. Kathy raises her son, who sometimes helps run the booth, while achieving her dream of starting a weekly market - with a big red and white tent - for independent designers to sell from.
- Gina Papalia Stricks of Grasshopper Pilates in Soho, raises her two children, balancing her daughter's growing desire to mix and match her wardrobe to be as developed as her mother's, and Gina's new studio location and business partners (also first time pregnant!).
This list can go on and on.
The entrepreneurial lifestyle is not normal by any means, but it is liberating. One of my motivations for quitting my job and going out on my own as a website designer was to have my choice of vacation time. My husband works in the film industry, so while his working days can be very long and without break, his actual breaks can be for long stretches where he would take off on adventures. In theory, this is a great idea to tag along. In reality, I tag along, but I have permanent seats in different Paneras and Starbucks around the country that offer free wireless and an environment where I'm not saying "no, sorry I can't come" to family members who may be doing fun lifestyle things. The balance of life with work is maybe my biggest entrepreneurial challenge at the moment because they both bring me joy.
CONFESSION #4: The Lifestyle Balance
Which brings me to my final confession: I am looking forward to the schedule mandates. In college, I watched one of my roommates be so busy, yet get the best grades, have fun with her friends, and work as the manager of a dessert restaurant to support her way through school. In my final two years of college, I stepped up and took on a slew of projects, including a job and studying. My theory was that because of her busy schedule, she had to be planned, and she couldn't procrastinate. She couldn't afford to, or she'd miss deadlines for papers, or be tired at work. I am a person who can meander. I wouldn't call it ADD, I would call it stimulation, which sometimes works in my favor to get other things done that maybe didn't make it to the list but should have. The baby will have needs that must be met. There is no putting off feeding it, like I put off my own lunch. Thankfully, I do have some preparation for this, in that I have a dog and two cats who I love, and it's my dog who I can make time for to walk or pet or feed, which takes time away from working.
Already this pregnancy is improving my work life. It is making me schedule in a way that I only thought about (sad...thinking about how to schedule). I have to take the plunge to bring on an ongoing assistant, a Digital Traffic Controller, that I've been putting off for a year. That is the next logical step in terms of investment in my business, and one that needs to be made, pregnancy or not. So you see, these are all good things!
There's not doubt it is and has been flu season across the country for quite some time now, and not just flu season, SWINE FLU season. This is bad enough because the flu is just not fun - it makes life physically and mentally challenging for too long - but when you are an entrepreneur/small business owner it can hurt that much more! Who's going to take client calls if you are a solopreneur? Who is going to finish projects even if you have a team (as you KNOW you are all wearing many hats)? Who is going to fill in the time you miss during the 12 hour days you often work? We as entrepreneurs rarely take sick leave! We just don't - often because we can't! I know an event planner who was back to work within a week of giving birth! Who does that !?! Entrepreneurs do. Many times because we can't stop - just ask CNN - they know it too! When you're sick and own a business the story is different! As their story mentions and is so right about - business owners don't really get sick leave.
Now back to our story.....With these questions abouot what will become of our businesses in our heads we ignore the nagging coughs, the growing fever, or the aching joints. I know I did. Here's a confession: I have felt sick on and off since October! I consulted my physician over the phone (read: I called my dad who is a doctor because WHO has time to go to the doctor) who told me to get some rest. My business partners at Tin Shingle and Red Branch PR both told me to go rest. But no, I decided I had work to do.
And then it hit me - full on flu. I was a mess. I had fallen (into the flu) and could not get up, and work stopped for me. Low and behold I was mildly laid up for a week on and off, and what I feared most did not happen: my businesses didn't fall apart, clients didn't freak out, and the world did not end. I will say I work on great teams and have great partners and systems and things continued as they should. I slept a bit but also emailed from bed when I felt better. I then talked to another doctor and told him I couldn't seem to get better. Yes, I admitted, I had been out to a few meetings while recovering, I had worked nearly daily (even if from bed under covers), and YES I did utter the phrase "from my cold dead hands" when my business partner tried to take away my laptop while I was working from home (he won).
My doctor informed me I had "the entrepreneur's flu". Basically: we work, work, work and then never pull ourselves out of our rut of feeling crummy and sick - sometimes due to the flu, and then the lingering after-effects we feel because we never heal, rest or recover. We beat down our immune system down with lack of sleep, bad nutrition, overworking and overstressing and then keep coming back to work and possibly infecting our teams. My response to his thoughts: "I should blog about this". Clearly, I had it bad...even my diagnosis was a business story.
That said, I held off, and now here I am discussing it. Yes I'm currently mildly stuffy again and losing my voice, though I attribute this to part real cold/part spending Thanksgiving weekend around kids/and part due to the fact that rest continues to be at times a mirage....But I've vowed to fight the flu, and I encourage you to NOT do what I did and work until you don't listen to your body anymore....The irony is, we try to work through it and not miss any work and we come to work as less than a team player, we put other team members at risk, and we don't work to our fullest potential. On top of THAT we prolong the illness! Not good for business or your personal life.
I've now made a pact with myself to remember 3 things, and I encourage you to actually follow these words of advice, I promise they make more sense than my first system of "working through it":
Repeat after me:
I (state your name) do promise to:
- Remember that my health is more important than my job. It impacts my performance, my clients, and my team. I will value it more than any project or assignment on my desk.
- Remember that lack of sleep leads to lack of health and lack of clarity. It also leads to lack of people wanting to be around you because you are so darn crabby.
- Remember that as Sabina's mother (and her inspirational books) always says "you can't strap a U-Haul to your hearse Sabina". And you can't! At the end of the day all that hard work means NOTHING if I can't live a healthy life that allows me to enjoy it with the ones I love, and the one that I love are are not things that I can plug in.
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