Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Leslie's 5 Big Growth Tips from the "Bare" Billionaire

Last week I had the privilege of meeting Leslie Blodgett, CEO of the billion dollar cosmetic empire Bare Escentuals, at our monthly NAWBO San Francisco dinner series and hearing her journey about how she grew the business, grew a son, kept her marriage intact and eventually sold the company for $1.7 billion. Yes, BILLION with a B!! 

 Of course I was thinking about all of you the entire time and made sure to note her biggest take-ways, so here are the best golden nuggets she shared to grow (and sell!) the business of your dreams: 

1. Be a rebel. 
Bare Escentuals’ primary product was a mineral based foundation to make the skin look smooth and even. At the time, popular foundations were liquid based, cakey and thick. Her product was a loose powder, light and silky. Even though her product was superior in many ways, the market was used to liquid and when she was told it would never sell, her inner rebel told her to keep going… all the way to the bank! She also bucked conventional wisdom when she started selling her products on QVC and infomercials instead of at cosmetic counters. Powdered foundation sold over TV where you can’t even test it? You betcha! In fact,a year's worth of in-store sales in less than an 1 hour, and the rest is history! 

2. Let the community build it. 
Once the company started getting traction with sales, Leslie started spending time in online forums where customers were talking about the products (think old school Facebook). She would literally stay up all night answering questions, getting feedback and new product ideas. Over time, the forums and message boards became so integral, she started naming products after top contributors or adding items based directly from their suggestions. Talk about crowdsourcing! At Bare Escentuals, customers had a real voice in creating products that they wanted and loved, and ultimately became raving fans, evangelists and loyal buyers of the everything the brand offered. 

3. Create a BFF experience. 
Once the online community had taken on a life of its own, she decided it was time to take the relationships offline and so they went on Lady Gaga’s tour bus (literally, it was Lady Gaga’s she said!) all around the country meeting their online community in person. It created an amazing experience for everyone involved resulting in what she called the “BFF experience”, when all of your customers feel like BFFs (best friends forever) of the company and each other. Pretty darn awesome. 

4. Distribution channels sell stuff faster. 
As I shared earlier, selling on QVC was her real tipping point. Bare Escentuals was a small bath and body company with 6 stores in 1994, and now has over 6,500 distribution channels – their own stores, retailers, and online – which are in essence thousands of salespeople offering their products 24/7. To grow big, you have to have multiple distribution channels – not just your own website. Hmm, think about it. Where else can you offer your products and services? 

5. Focus more on doing than planning. 
Leslie admits that now when people ask her for advice, she always tells them that they need a great plan, but confessed to us that she actually never did! She said that she was just passionately and tirelessly focused on DOING. Doing sales calls, doing customer interviews, doing product development. And as much as I love strategic planning, I have to agree! DOING, or executing, almost always trumps planning as long as you at least have a clear vision about why you are doing all that doing!

The entire evening was beyond amazing, but hands down, my favorite A Ha moment was definitely about letting the community build it. As an expert, there can be a lot of pressure to always create the right content or have the best answer, when sometimes, it’s just as valuable or even more valuable to listen and source ideas from your community – aka “there’s wisdom in the group”. 

Just this week I was on a call with a member of my Accelerate! online training and community for women entrepreneurs, and she was asking for my feedback on a book that she is thinking about writing. I was happy to share my personal experience and then at some point it dawned on me to ask her if she would like me a to create a new training module about how to write and self-publish a non-fiction book that becomes an Amazon bestseller, and she responded, "absolutely!" Each month I add 4 new modules (foundation, marketing, sales and money), so adding to the existing 25 modules with exactly what the community wants makes my heart sing! 

In fact, I would love to get you involved too! Post in the comments below the subject you would like me to create a module around (each 15 minute intensive module has an ebook, audio and printable download), and I will select the most popular request, create it for August, and share it with all of you as my gift! Also be sure to share your inner rebel stories like Leslie Blodgett’s below to get everyone fired up and on their billion dollar path (why not you too?!?), along with the module you want to see, and I can’t wait to create it for you! 

As always, until next time...

Be Profitable & Be WELL! 

 XO, jgw

P.S. This Friday is the last day to sign up for SUMMER SUCCESS: Designed, Developed & Done, my private and customized program to make sure you have both a fun AND productive summer, and finish that pressing product, workshop, book or new business that you want to do but need someone to help you get it out of your head and into the world! Yay! To learn more and even watch the video again, click here.  
Friday is it, so if you’re on the fence… JUMP! And I’ll always be there to catch you! xoxo

Thursday, May 22, 2014

{Video} We're Talking Tactics! How to Grow Faster with a Peer Advisory Group

If you want to know the secret to my success over the last 7 years, click play to find out how you can use this secret to grow your business faster (and bigger!) too... Enjoy! jgw

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Promises Delivered! (Get More Clients, Bigger Clients & Hiring)

Promise delivered? Well, almost. ;)

My actual promise from the survey that many of you completed a few weeks ago was a live Google hangout to share with you my thought about how to gain traction on the feedback I received on the survey – including how to get more clients, how to get bigger clients, and how to hire. So today I am definitely going to give you action steps to start moving towards these important objectives, but please forgive me because  I'm going to do it in this less than sexy, but nonetheless effective, written post. Sigh.

However! As soon as I have time to get confident about doing a hangout without a million technical glitches (which have been downright excruciating for the participants AND the presenters I have witnessed), I promise to invite you to be my first attempt… but buyer beware!

Alright, let’s jump straight into my number one best strategies to get more and bigger clients, and how to hire. Here we go!  {You might want to print & save this one!}

My Number One Best Strategy to Get More Clients
Partner with non-competitors
that have the same target market.
When I grew my brokerage firm, I had 1 to 3 networking lunches with accountants and lawyers weekly to introduce my business and see how I could support their marketing efforts as well. Now, as I grow The WELL online, I am building similar relationships by offering my content to other online companies that have women entrepreneurs as clients but specialize in a different area or a specific area within my knowledge scope that they have deeper experience on.

For example, in my accelerate program, I am partnering with Pinnacle Business Services, a cloud based bookkeeping company, to provide monthly training lessons for our Money Module.  While I know my way confidently around financial statemenst, Elizabeth Whitehouse is a 10-year Certified QuickBooks Pro expert, so I am  thrilled to have her lead that section and also provide an opportunity for her to market her services.

Partnerships are a win-win if structured correctly and can put your business in front of a new and qualified audience much faster that you can attract on your own. But even beyond getting introduced to potential new customers, that introduction will come with an implied or direct endorsement from the partner which will move your relationship with that new customer from ice cold to very warm (and even hot if you do a great job!) in an instant.

My Number One Best Strategy to Get Bigger Clients
Determine how your products or services can be
sold to corporate and government clients.
The first step to working with corporate clients is to start with their diversity supplier departments to learn their requirements for getting on their preferred vendor list.  They may need you to be certified as women-owned, show your financial statements, demonstrate your capabilities in the area you are proposing to sell into, and prove that you have the capacity to fill the order without delay. All companies will have difference minimum requirements, so make sure you are clear about what they are before making any contact.

In addition to knowing what they will require to consider you as a supplier, make sure you do your homework on their current initiatives, so you can show that you understand their needs and that you are ready to partner with them to achieve their goals- basically what's in it for them.  To know exactly what they are currently focusing on, read the press releases posted on their website for the last 12 months. In those releases you will discover critical initiatives, success stories and shortfalls, and who the high-level decision makers - all things that when included with your pitch, will show that not only are you willing to be a supplier, you will go the extra mile to be a partner as well.

You can find the link to many corporations that want to do business with women entrepreneurs by searching “supplier diversity” plus the name of the company that you would like to work with.  You can also get certified as a women-owned company, through many agencies, so search “women-owned certification” to find the certifiers closest to your location.

When trying to win a government client, similar to securing corporate contracts, you need to visit the online portals of your municipal, state and federal procurement pages to learn what that "agency" is currently seeking, and how you can submit an RFP (request for proposal) to bid on the opportunity. While I haven’t sold to government agencies, many of my peers have grown multimillion dollar firms as suppliers to local city government as well as the federal government. If you decide to pursue this sales channel, know that it requires determination and a thick skin. There is an art to completing RFPs and there are even companies that specialize helping you complete them.  Also be aware that until you are proven entity, you may not be able to secure a contract on your own, but rather become a sub-contractor, supplying to an existing larger contractor that is already in place. This is an excellent way to get your foot in the door to establish yourself, and then later begin bidding on larger opportunities on your own.

With both the corporate and government markets, the application process can be challenging and the decision cycle long, but if you are fortunate enough to match what you offer to their direct needs, you can literally grow into a multimillion dollar company overnight.

My Number One Best Strategy for Hiring
Go deep and wide before adding to the org chart.
We hire when we run out of bandwidth or when we are pro-actively planning to grow. Hiring can be one of the most exciting, yet also terrifying activities we do as a business owner. Suddenly being responsible to someone else in terms of attention and income can feel scary, but as I have said many times, you have to let go to grow, and that means putting on your big girl pants on and start welcoming new people (not just your BFF, sister-in-law or some other low-risk person) onto the mother ship!

One of the best pieces of advice I was ever given on hiring was “hire slowly and fire quickly”. When deciding to fill a position, be sure that you do your thorough due diligence on that person, including checking 5 year of references (yes five). I’m not sure why business owners always want to skip this step and just go on their “gut instinct", because unfortunately, hiring is not a place to trust your tuition.

When it comes to people, most women entrepreneurs naturally believe that most applicants are good, good enough or trainable. But quite frankly, as a small but growing business, good, good enough and trainable are the worst people you can hire!  You don’t have the time or money to babysit or pay for someone to learn on your precious, hard-earned dollars.

You need staff that has experience in what you need them to do, is open to trying it your way as well, can ramp up fast, and has EXCELLENT references.  And yes, you can absolutely find that person in your price range. If you can’t afford to pay them the base salary that they want, propose a profit sharing program based on new results. Having transparency around financial goals will be great for everyone involved because they can see the path to success and added income, and you will be forced to map it out (instead of shooting from the seat of your yoga pants!) which will make it clearer and more attainable for you too.  Yay!  But wait a minute! What if they don't work out? Remember that advise I shared at the beginning? Let them go QUICKLY. If you've re-reviewed your expectations, re-trained and re-observed them in action and they still don't get it, it's time to free them up to find something that will be better suited for their current skill set. No judgment. Just not a fit. Bye bye.

And there's one last step before making your first or biggest hire. Make sure you sit down with your accountant to review your cash flow so you can feel confident that you will be able to pay them without waking up in the middle of the night in a panic the day before payroll is due. There’s nothing worse than adding someone and then having to lay them off because you didn’t do your homework in advance.  Same thing applies to independent contractors; although if your contract is written correctly, you should have an easy separation, but just in case, understand your cash before adding a big, new, painful to getrid of, expense.

So that’s the scoop!  Of course I could go on and on about getting more and bigger customers and hiring, but that’s plenty for starters! But as always, if you want to take your business to the next level, take a test drive in our accelerate! Business Growth Program for free and I’ll be there personally to help you zooooooooom to the next level!

Until next time, Be Profitable & Be WELL!

XO, jgw.

P.S. Here are some quick links to get you going and growing faster!

{Grow Faster!} accelerate! Program 14 Day Free Trial

Get Inspired!} Where is Julie Speaking Next?

{Rock Your World!} Book an Exclusive Private Acceleration Day with Julie

{Cash Out!} Thinking of selling in the next 5 years? Check out
my bestselling book, “EXIT!” in Kindle or Paperback


Thursday, May 1, 2014

May Day Clarity

Although Spring is already in full swing (my itchy nose tells me so!), to me, May feels like the official gateway to summer. And as we move forward through the second quarter, it's critical to focus on what needs to happen in order to make our business dreams come true this year, which brings me to one if my favorite topics - CLARITY.

Being concerned about clarity can seem fluffy, but in fact, clarity is the basis for all things strategic and powerful in your business.

When we lack clarity, we lose our way. We chase our tails. We think we are bored or uninspired. We might even go as far as to change our entire business model because secretly we think we are wrong. Wrong about what to do to grow our businesses- maybe even wrong for trying to be an entrepreneur at all. Sigh.

Last week I had the privilege of advising 8 incredible women entrepreneurs in private 1:1 sessions. Some were start ups striving towards their first $100K, some were established and trying to breakthrough their self imposed $200K limit, and some had mature multimillion dollar companies  in "post-recession re-invention mode" looking for a powerful plan for acceleration.

The interesting thing they had in common was that they had all lost their clarity.

Without clarity, they were frustrated, making things more complicated than they needed to be and down right stuck. However even with all of that, they were all still committed to their mission and eager to find their way "back" quickly.

Through my hour with each of them, it was very exciting to help them draw out the answers that they already knew but weren't trusting, and also contribute ideas and a filter to help then form clear, do-able and energy igniting plans... aka... Clarity!

The bottom line is that we all get stuck. We all lose our way.

When you find yourself spinning in circles, not taking action and maybe even feeling a little down, know that it's not the end of your entrepreneurial journey - you probably just need to regain your clarity.

So if this feels a little too familiar, I encourage you to reach out to a respected peer, a spouse or partner that knows you inside and out, or a trusted advisor to help clear the way. But whatever you do, do something!

And to help you take the first step, here is a link to a short talk I gave about clarity as the closing remarks of SYMPOSIA, my conference last January for women entrepreneurs. In the talk I share with you how I personally regained post-recession clarity, and how that clarity is the reason we are connect right now through The WELL. :)

Clarity Video Link: 

Julie Gordon White The WELL for Women Entrepreneurs

Again, welcome to May and if I can help you sharpen your clarity privately like the women above or through our accelerate! group program, don't hesitate to ask!

Until next time,

Be Profitable & Be WELL!

XO, jgw.

P.S. Be sure to bookmark the page with my video on clarity because you never know when you just might need a little breakthrough! xoxo

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Hello WELLies!  Is it just me or is the word FEARLESS popping up everywhere this week?  Maybe my "FearFree Radar" is personally off the charts, but images and words like COURAGE and LEAP seem to be showing up everywhere! Earlier this week I had the pleasure of an acceleration session with a very high level advisor (yes, even high-level advisors need high-level advisors!) that opened up a whole new level for my business. So that's probably driving my feelings of crystal clear clarity and excitement, but just in case you need your own micro breakthrough, I have an equally powerful session for you!

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the amazing, Jacqueline Wales, renowned author of The Fearless Factor.  During our conversation, we go deep on how to help women entrepreneurs move through their fears quickly to grow your business bigger and faster.  


In 30 short minutes (we could have gone on for days!), Jacqueline shares quite a few powerful tips, so click here or on the image above to listen and let me know what resonated with you in the comments below!

Enjoy & BE WELL!  XO, jgw

Monday, March 31, 2014

We're Talking Tactics! Important Question for You

I had the pleasure of being the featured speaker for NAWBO (National Association of Women Business Owners) Las Vegas and NAWBO Agoura Hills in Los Angeles last week.  When I give a talk, I always like to begin with a provocative question, so to get you thinking too, here it is...

So what was your answer - "Yes", "Maybe" or "No Thanks!"? Post it below and let's start a conversation around how to turn the maybe's and no thanks into yeses!  Comment now and I'll reply back right away.

Until then, Be Profitable & Be WELL! XO, jgw.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

How to Become a Thought Leader in 4 Simple Steps

Before we jump into this week’s article, don’t forget that Charter Membership pricing (half off!) for the accelerate! Business Growth Membership Program for Women Entrepreneurs ends Thursday, February 27th at midnight!  

The members are loving the training modules, productivity tools, private Facebook group, and consulting calls, so if it’s been on your radar, I don’t want you to miss out.  For more info click here and I look forward to seeing you inside the accelerate! Member Portal along with the others very soon!  

How to Become a Thought Leader in 4 Simple Steps
By Julie Gordon White

At the recent annual retreat for my Women Presidents’ Organization chapter, I had the privilege of participating in an intimate workshop with nationally renowned champion of women entrepreneurs, Denise Brosseau. The workshop was based on her new book, “Ready to Be a Thought Leader? How to Increase Your Influence, Impact and Success”.  The forward is by Guy Kawasaki, so you know the book is excellent if Guy is willing to put his name on the cover.

In Denise’s workshop and in the book, she shares 7 excellent steps to accelerate your success by becoming a thought leader. Denise expertly explains the ideas behind each step with examples and exercises, so I highly encourage you to spend a weekend soaking it in.

Thinking about my own experience in becoming a thought leader as a champion for women entrepreneurs as well, there are 4 strategies that have helped me succeed as an influencer, so I'm sharing what has worked for me in hopes that it will support your thought leadership strategy as well.

1} Take a Stand
When I first started selling businesses, and before I began selling multimillion dollar companies, I was the queen of... flower shops! Really! My first year and a half as a business broker was literally spent selling 25 florists. When I started my companies, I established two firms -  BlueKey Business Brokerage M&A for the larger deals I knew I would do in the future, and Flowershop Brokers.  By taking a stand for florists and claiming the niche in the name of my company, I very quickly became the go-to broker to sell a florist in Northern California. And now as the founder of The WELL for Women Entrepreneurs, I am proudly taking a stand for women business owners.  I believe that when you are bold enough to not just state your position, but actually live your position, you get very clear about who can benefit most from your expertise, and potential customers can make a faster and easier decisions about working with your company as well.  When you decide to truly "own" your space, be prepared that you may initially feel limited, but in fact, the outcome is actually the exact opposite. Demonstrating to the world who you are and what you believe in has a magical way of attracting the exact clients, customers and partners that are perfectly aligned with your philosophy or expertise. And when all are in alignment, business becomes easier, more fun and more profitable.

2} Grow an Online and Offline Tribe
I can’t emphasize enough about the importance of building a tribe online and offline. Creating your online tribe through social and digital media, is the platform for your thought leadership. When you “connect, like and comment”, focus on supporting those in your tribe. On LinkedIn, connect with others who are in alignment with your stance through their business or group membership.  On Facebook, like and comment on pages that relate to your tribe. On twitter, follow and retweet posts from other thought leaders in your tribe. Similar strategies can be used for Google+, Pinterest and Instagram if that’s where your tribe hangs out. Also don't forget to post status updates with links to articles that would not only be of interest to your tribe, but would also establish you as credible source of important information. To grow a large platform, it takes a village, so when you support others in your tribe, they will eventually support you back. And even though it’s easier to reach out digitally, don’t forget the value of a good old fashioned face-to-face.  Nothing moves a relationship forward faster than meeting for coffee or at an association gathering of like-minded people. Online is faster, but offline is lasting, so spend time on both to build a tribe of your ideal peeps.

3} Write About It
Since you’re reading this now, you know I am walking my talk! Even in a 140 character world, we all still love information that creates shortcuts to things that matter to us.  So once you’ve declared your position, write about it on your own blog, and guest post on others.  If you are really committed to creating a legacy, write a book about it. Not only was my book, “EXIT! 12 Steps to Sell Your Business for the Price You Deserve” one of the best credibility boosters for my niche and helped generate tens of thousands in fees,  it is also a lasting legacy for my children and their children because they will always know that mom (and eventually grandma) had something to say in a bigger than usual way, which is pretty, darn, cool.

4} Talk About It
Once you establish your stance or expertise and you begin writing about it and then start gaining momentum with your platform, one of the most powerful things you can do as a thought leader is to speak about it... everywhere! You can book yourself at association meetings, retreats, teleseminars, webinars and now, Google hangouts. You can speak live or recorded as a video. The bottom line is be seen by your platform in person from a stage (and I use the term “stage” loosely), both off and online as often as possible.

The opportunities are endless with technology, so be creative, get out there and walk your talk so you can spread your message, inspire others, and become a thought leader to accelerate the growth of your business!

So let me ask you, what do you believe in? Who’s in your tribe?

I would love to hear what gets you up in the morning, so comment below and declare your stance!

Until next time, Be Profitable & Be WELL!

XO, jgw.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Are you an Owner, President or CEO?

Today we celebrate Presidents' Day, and it reminded me of a question I get asked by women entrepreneurs about what title they should call themselves.  

In today's world, I think titles are less about posturing and more about positioning. 

When I say posturing, I mean making yourself look bigger than you are to impress others which is so 80's, and so not now! (I know because I lived through the 80's "fake it till you make it" mentality, big shoulder pads, and even bigger hair...ugh!).

When I talk about positioning, I'm not referring to marketing in this situation, I'm referring to your entrepreneurial mindset. I think choosing a title is actually more for your benefit than the person who is reading your bio or business card.  Here's what I mean:

If you title yourself as the owner, you are a sole proprietor telling yourself and the world that you are courageous, independent and willing to accept responsibility for the good AND the bad. Further, you are taking the road less traveled and forging ahead to become economically independent and self-sufficient... Hear me roar!

If you title yourself as President, not only are you serving the world with your unique gifts and talents, you know that your growth path to success includes a team.  Presidents are leaders and by declaring, "I am the President", you are positioning your business to grow bigger, more profitable, and beyond what you can do on your own. Hail to the Chief!

If you title yourself as CEO or Chief Executive Officer, you have established your business as a corporation, you have a group of advisors or a board of directors (formal or informal), and you know that in addition to a team, you will need access to capital to grow a multimillion dollar business.  You may step into your CEO stilettos right out of the gate or after being on your entrepreneurial journey for many years. There's no right or wrong time to establish yourself as the CEO, so don't compare yourself to others, just step in and step up when "WAY bigger" feels best to you. 

For me, because my boutique M&A firm is a professional practice and a corporation, I titled myself "Principal & CEO". As a practice organized as a corporation with 10 team members and a vision of multi millions in transactions, the title seemed fitting. And now that most of my time is spent in pursuit of training millions of women entrepreneurs to grow bigger, more profitable and sellable seven-figure businesses, guess what my title is? CEO, of course - it's the only way I roll! 

So to wrap this up, my bottom line message is to choose your title thoughtfully.  It's more about creating a personal mindset to grow the business of your dreams than telling the world who you are, so choose your title carefully and then own it as a vehicle to manifest your vision. Who knew titles were so powerful?!

So what do you call yourself? 
Do you think your title represents your vision (current and future)? 

I would love to know your thoughts on titles and hear your story, so please comment below!

XO, jgw.

P.S. If growing a bigger, more profitable and someday sellable business is your manifest destiny, click to learn about our accelerator program - it's a proven road map with a personal guide to get you there! 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Your 1st Thing 1st Recording is Here!

Did you missed the call we had on January first on how to ensure a focused and accelerated first quarter of the year? If so, no worries! Normally the recording would only be available for a week, but here it is as my gift to you! 

The extra cool bonus strategy is to bookmark this post and listen to it at the beginning of every new quarter, and then watch your revenue skyrocket! 

OK, click below to start the recording, 
and then post your 1st Thing 1st in the comments below... 

Until next time, Be Profitable & Be WELL! xoxo, jgw.