Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Jennie Wong of CartCentric

Dr Jennie Wong
This month I'm happy to introduce you to an inspiring and multi-talented entrepreneur. Jennie Wong, Ph.D. is a syndicated business writer, executive coach and author of "Ask the Mompreneur: Small Business Advice on Starting and Growing Your Own Company".  Her weekly writing appears in the Charlotte Observer and is distributed by McClatchy-Tribune

Jennie's latest venture, CartCentric, is a social product review start-up based in Silicon Valley. It solves a problem for online shoppers who want input before product purchase but who are wary of online reviews.  CartCentric ensures the feedback is from a reliable source- your personal network!


Tell us about your business and target market
CartCentric is a social shopping site that lets you ask your friends for product recommendations for anything you’re actively shopping for.  Your friends don’t need to login or be members.  It takes just a few seconds to specify what you’re looking for, like a coffee maker or a stroller, and then use Facebook or your contacts to pick the people that you want to ask.

Your friends will get a personal 1-to-1 email with a custom link where they can show you the one they have and let you know if they think you should buy it.  It’s a great way to save time and avoid fake reviews.

When did you decide it was the right time to take the leap into self-employment?
My husband started our first company 10 years ago, Limelight Web Development, and I joined him in growing and running that business 5 years ago.  At that time, I had been laid off from my corporate job so we decided to see if we could make it work.  We were also expecting our first child, which increased the risk, but also the potential reward.

Then, last year, we decided to try doing a tech startup, which is very different than running a service business, and required a tremendous amount of learning.

 What is the most challenging aspect about being an entrepreneur?
Keeping your priorities straight and keeping yourself focused on the right things is the challenge.  Working hard is the easy part, but managing yourself in a strategic way is a constant effort.

What is your #1 tip for balancing work and family?
Hire a great nanny and treat her like gold.  Running a household and running a business are one and the same thing.  The skills are vendor selection, hiring, supervision, leadership, project management, and strategic vision.

 What small business resource(s) can you NOT live without?

What advice would you give to a friend who was thinking about starting a business?
  1.          Can you achieve a larger goal through focused daily action?
  2.          Can you deal with lots of people and also handle the isolation of working alone?
  3.          Can you learn how to DIY a bunch of stuff, yet know when to ask for help?
  4.          Can you make a plan, follow a plan, and modify a plan based on feedback?
  5.          Can you keep selling, even in the face of rejection?
If you can honestly answer yes to all 5, go start a company!

Favorite social media site?
Facebook.  I’m an addict.

What book has been an inspiration to you as an entrepreneur?

When you’re not working, what is your favorite activity?
Fantasy football.

Where do you see your business in 5 years?
Harvard Business School will be writing cases about our meteoric success.

If you're a busy mom like me, I'm sure you rely heavily on girlfriends' recommendations which is why I'm excited to utilize CartCentric. Be sure and check it out and tweet Jennie your thoughts @CartCentric then visit her Facebook fan page to keep up to date on the latest!


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Forward-thinking: Small Business Planning

Fall is here y'all. School is in session, days are getting shorter and the air is crisp. My kids already have a countdown started for Halloween which means I'm busy working on my infamous hand-made costume-creations. I like getting creative, especially on projects that we can do together as a family. And there is nothing like getting started early and having it done with plenty of time to gorge on candy corn throughout the month of October without costume-anxiety.

Fall is also a great time to start thinking about January. JANUARY??!??!!!!  Yep, I said it. September brings 8 months of learning from your year. Ask yourself: What worked really well this year for your business? What marketing efforts produced a positive ROI? Which failures created great learning experiences? 

Review your business plan over a cup of hot apple cider and reflect on your mission statement, long term and short term goals. Are you on track? 

With early preparation you can hit the ground running in 2014- confident and ready to conquer!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Spotlight Entrepreneur: Simone McDowell of HoneeBee Gifts

Have you ever struggled to find the perfect gift? No matter what the occasion, Simone McDowell of HoneeBee Gifts is poised and ready to solve your gift-giving challenge. 

If you live in the Charlotte area you've probably seen Simone presenting her unique gift ideas on Charlotte Today along side some of our notable local TV hosts, or maybe you read about HoneeBee Gifts receiving the 2013 BOB Awards for Best Shopping/Style Blog.  

Simone McDowell
We are excited to share our interview with Simone!

Tell us about your business and target market. 
HoneeBee Gifts is a business that offers creative gift concepts and exceptional ideas to celebrate moments that mean the most to you through gifting. Established initially as a blog in July 2008 and expanded to include services such as personal gift shopping, one-on-one gift consultation and more, HoneeBee Gifts assists anyone who needs help picking out the perfect gift.
Elevating the Gift Experience

What is the most challenging aspect about being an entrepreneur? 
One of the most challenging to me would be the financial aspect—from various sides—I am a creative type so it’s hard to crunch numbers and it’s hard to continually tell people you are for hire, not for free.

What small business resource(s) can you NOT live without? 
I would say my cell phone…and I wish I could figure out Evernote…I probably couldn’t live without that if I could just figure it out.

Favorite social media site? I love Instagram (pre videos) because I am visual and you get a quick snapshot of what’s happening, captions or not.

What book has been an inspiration to you as an entrepreneur? 
Right now I am reading By Invitation Only by the Gilt Group founders and it’s inspiring to read how their business got started. I am also inspired by books like The Four Agreements and quotes that I come across...because sometimes all you have time to read is a quote. 

It may only be August, but if you are like me your mind is already thinking about those hard to buy for friends and family members for the holidays. Don't hesitate- reach out to Simone today!  PS: Especially for the Long and Short of It friends, subscribe to Simone's blog or link with her via social media to be first in line for upcoming promotions that HoneeBee Gifts has to offer.

Tweet Simone: @honeebeegifts
Facebook: Facebook.com/honeebeegifts
Link with her: Linkedin.com/simonemcdowell
Have fun Repinning her finds: Pinterest.com/honeebeegifts
Share some of your fave Instagram shots: @honeebeegifts