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6 Popular Phrases Used By Failing Entrepreneurs

Business

Most entrepreneurs learn quickly that you need to stay positive in business, or you will give up. Positive thinking helps, but so do the words you choose in your daily interactions. Throughout my 20-years of consulting entrepreneurs and startups, I have observed many businesses go under.

I've noticed most of these failed entrepreneurs frequently repeat similar phrases as they discuss their routine operations. If you're trying to grow your business during tough times, here are a few phrases you should be conscious of using when times get tough.

1. “I combine my personal and business expenses."

Combining personal and business expenses make any bookkeeping complicated. It adds more stress and increases your chances for audits as you try to identify which expenses can be deducted and which are personal. A recent TD Bank survey revealed that 56 percent of small business owners use a personal checking account for both business and personal finances.

Businesses must provide the IRS with all records related to the operation of a business. The supporting business documents required at tax time range from gross receipts, purchases, expenses, assets, employment taxes to travel and transportation costs, entertainment costs and gift expenses.
When these documents are combined, it will require a lot of time and effort to separate them and the risk of human error increases. Mistakes made with regard to filing taxes can result in hefty fines. Using a simple expense tracking system like Receipt Bank can help business owners separate personal from business expenses.
2. “I'm not good at delegating."
Successful business owners know they must delegate if they are going to grow their business. When entrepreneurs do everything themselves, they are preventing the business from succeeding and growing.

Many inexperienced entrepreneurs don't know when to delegate and when to do the work themselves. Generally, a task should be outsourced when it's not central to generating revenue for the company. If a task doesn't increase a company's competitive edge or requires specialized knowledge, farm out the work. It will give you more energy to focus on growing your business. Accounting, payroll, website design and public relations are good examples of tasks that should be outsourced.

3. "I do my own accounting."
The majority of small business owners opt to do their own accounting to save money. However, in the end, this approach may actually be costing them more money. Accounting requires time and effort, and when a business owner utilizes their valuable time towards accounting tasks, they are not making the best use of their time. The opportunity costs of accounting are exponential. The opportunity cost is the loss of potential gain from other alternatives when one alternative is chosen, like focusing on growing and expanding the business.
Accounting can also reveal the health of a potential failing business. If the books are in disarray then a business owner can't properly evaluate the financial health of the business - which is the starting point of financial growth.
4. "I gave my client (or vendor) a financial break."
Entrepreneurs don't want to lose any deal, which is why many small business owners squeeze tight profit margins as a way to win the business. This isn't a smart approach. When I hear businesses say they gave a financial break to win the business, I know they are headed on the wrong path. Offering a client (or vendor) a financial break might be a genuine gesture, but it is not good for future business. The value of a product or service should reflect the quality of work. And by diminishing the cost, you are effectively telling the client your product or service is inferior. Entrepreneurs must be confident in what they offering, and giving financial breaks implies the opposite.
5. “I use Excel for bookkeeping."
Excel can be a great starting point for startups because it's easy to use, free, and chances are; you have it on your computer. But when businesses continue to use Excel past that initial startup period, they start to get into trouble. Excel provides many opportunities to make manual or financial mistakes in the books. Manually entering the formulas, filters and data connections in Excel is time-consuming and is prone to human errors. Excel also doesn't have the capacity to help you scale your business. As new products are introduced, assets are acquired and new employees join the team, books become more extensive. Excel can't keep up with these changes. Abandon Excel as soon as possible to give your business the foundation it needs to grow into a thriving organization.
6. “I was denied a Business Loan because my books are a mess."
This phrase is too common especially since today, we have online access to information with notes on preparing for a business loan application. A crucial point to remember as a small business is that most banks will evaluate the fiscal health of your business as well as the business owner's credit rating and personal financials. The best way to prepare for a loan application is to have a conversation with your Bookkeeper or Accounting Advisor. He or she can research what will be needed to accompany your application submission and get your books properly prepared for running financials the bank will want to examine like Cash Flow Projections, Collateral Schedule, and Outstanding Debt.
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Business

How Postpartum Mesh Underwear Started My Entrepreneurial Journey

"Steal the mesh underwear you get from the hospital," a friend said upon learning I was pregnant with my first daughter.


It was the single best piece of advice I received before giving birth in December 2013. My best friend delivered her daughter eight months previously, and she was the first to pass along this shared code among new moms: you'll need mesh underwear for your at-home postpartum recovery, and you can't find them anywhere for purchase. End result: steal them. And tell your friends.

My delivery and subsequent recovery were not easy. To my unexpected surprise, after almost 24 hours of labor, I had an emergency C-section. Thankfully, my daughter was healthy; however, my recovery was quite a journey. The shock to my system caused my bloated and swollen body to need weeks of recovery time. Luckily, I had trusted my friend and followed her instructions: I had stolen some mesh underwear from the hospital to bring home with me.

Unfortunately, I needed those disposable underwear for much longer than I anticipated and quickly ran out. As I still wasn't quite mobile, my mother went to the store to find more underwear for me. Unfortunately, she couldn't find them anywhere and ended up buying me oversized granny panties. Sure, they were big enough, but I had to cut the waistband for comfort.

I eventually recovered from my C-section, survived those first few sleepless months, and returned to work. At the time, I was working for a Fortune 100 company and happily contributing to the corporate world. But becoming a new mom brought with it an internal struggle and search for something “more" out of my life--a desire to have a bigger impact. A flashback to my friend's golden piece of advice got me thinking: Why aren't mesh underwear readily available for women in recovery? What if I could make the magical mesh underwear available to new moms everywhere? Did I know much about designing, selling, or marketing clothing? Not really. But I also didn't know much about motherhood when I started that journey, either, and that seemed to be working out well. And so, Brief Transitions was born.

My quest began. With my manufacturing and engineering background I naively thought, It's one product. How hard could it be? While it may not have been “hard," it definitely took a lot of work. I slowly started to do some research on the possibilities. What would it take to start a company and bring these underwear to market? How are they made and what type of manufacturer do I need? With each step forward I learned a little more--I spoke with suppliers, researched materials, and experimented with packaging. I started to really believe that I was meant to bring these underwear to other moms in need.

Then I realized that I needed to learn more about the online business and ecommerce world as well. Google was my new best friend. On my one hour commute (each way), I listened to a lot of podcasts to learn about topics I wasn't familiar with--how to setup a website, social media platforms, email marketing, etc. I worked in the evenings and inbetween business trips to plan what I called Execution Phase. In 2016, I had a website with a Shopify cart up and running. I also delivered my second daughter via C-section (and handily also supplied myself with all the mesh underwear I needed).

They say, “If you build it, they will come." But I've learned that the saying should really go more like this: “If you build it, and tell everyone about it, they might come." I had a 3-month-old, an almost 3 year old and my business was up and running. I had an occasional sale; however, my processes were extremely manual and having a day job while trying to ship product out proved to be challenging. I was manually processing and filling orders and then going to the post office on Saturday mornings to ship to customers. I eventually decided to go where the moms shop...hello, Amazon Prime! I started to research what I needed to do to list products with Amazon and the benefits of Amazon fulfillment (hint: they take care of it for you).

Fast forward to 2018...

While I started to build this side business and saw a potential for it to grow way beyond my expectations, my corporate job became more demanding with respect to travel and time away from home. I was on the road 70% of the time during first quarter 2018. My normally “go with the flow" 4-year-old started to cry every time I left for a trip and asked why I wasn't home for bedtime. That was a low point for me and even though bedtime with young kids has its own challenges, I realized I didn't want to miss out on this time in their lives. My desire for more scheduling flexibility and less corporate travel time pushed me to work the nights and weekends needed to build and scale my side hustle to a full-time business. If anyone tries to tell you it's “easy" to build “passive" income, don't believe them. Starting and building a business takes a lot of grit, hustle and hard work. After months of agonizing, changing my mind, and wondering if I should really leave my job (and a steady paycheck!), I ultimately left my corporate job in April 2018 to pursue Brief Transitions full-time.

In building Brief Transitions, I reached out to like-minded women to see if they were experiencing similar challenges to my own--balancing creating and building a business while raising children--and I realized that many women are on the quest for flexible, meaningful work. I realized that we can advance the movement of female entrepreneurs by leveraging community to inspire, empower, and connect these trailblazers. For that reason, I recently launched a new project, The Transitions Collective, a platform for connecting community-driven women entrepreneurs.

As is the case with many entrepreneurs, I find myself working on multiple projects at a time. I am now working on a members-only community for The Transitions Collective that will provide access to experts and resources for women who want to leave corporate and work in their business full-time. Connecting and supporting women in this movement makes us a force in the future of work. At the same time, I had my most profitable sales quarter to date and best of all, I am able to drop my daughter off at school in the morning.

Mesh underwear started me on a journey much bigger than I ever imagined. They sparked an idea, ignited a passion, and drove me to find fulfillment in a different type of work. That stolen underwear was just the beginning.