The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Meg Barnhart – The CEO Of The Zen Of Slow Cooking

Meg Barnhart originally began her career in the hospitality industry which eventually led to trade show management. One of her early careers was working on the Fancy Food Show on behalf of the Specialty Food Association. After she had children, she began her own business but by 1998 with the birth of her third child, she decided to put a pause on her career to look after her 3 children who were under the age of 5 and her middle son, Doug, who was diagnosed as developmentally delayed. Meg spent the next several years helping him learn how to navigate Doug’s world which eventually led to the creation of the “zen of slow cooking.”

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Meg to talk about her entrepreneurial journey and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I began my career in the hospitality industry which eventually led to trade show management. In fact, one of my early careers was working on the Fancy Food Show on behalf of the Specialty Food Association. After I had my children I began my own business but by 1998 with the birth of my third child, I decided to put a pause on my career for a couple of reasons. The first reason was the simple fact of having 3 children under the age of 5 and the second reason was my middle son, Doug, was diagnosed as developmentally delayed when he was thirteen months old.

I spent the next several years helping him learn how to navigate his world. In 2010, I started studying what life would look for him when he transitioned out of school and found that only 24.5% of adults with developmental challenges were employed. I couldn’t envision a world where he couldn’t shine his light and decided to create a business for him which eventually led to the creation of the zen of slow cooking.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

My business partner, Jane McKay, and I began the business in 2012 with the intention of helping home cooks find success and a little Zen while creating employment for adults with employment barriers. We have stayed completely focused on both of those dreams and am happy to say that is the source of our success. I wasn’t sure we would come this far when we began, but keeping our intention pure has made the entire journey very rewarding.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

We’re out in the markets all the time to build our retail channel. We are also working on a strategic plan to build a more robust presence online.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

We haven’t done anything beyond Facebook ads. We focus on supporting non-profits with product donations to spread the word.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

Aligning our energy with causes that we are passionate about. By simply staying true to our mission we meet all sorts of people who are interested in helping us grow.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

We spend a lot of time supporting other entrepreneurs and cultivating relationships with businesses that we admire. We feel passionate about conducting business and growing our brand in a meaningful way.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

We’re building a “speed scratch” category (slow cooking using slow cookers or electric pressure cookers such as the Instant Pot) that doesn’t exist in B & M, so creating a “clean” product aligned with our mission helps us stand out. We also sought our Non-GMO certification so our consumers know that our Slow Cooker spice blends don’t contain any fillers. We also became a Certified B Corp to demonstrate our commitment to business being a force for good in the world.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Determining the best path toward national distribution.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Design. We have very clean atheistic. We encourage other entrepreneurs to invest time in doing their own research before they employ a designer to bring their vision to life. We are fortunate after trial and error to have someone who is completely aligned with our mission.

What new business would you love to start?

I would love to create a business where I can help other people fund their dreams.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

At this point nothing. I needed to go through the hiccups of starting/failing with other start-ups, so that when I created the zen of slow cooking I had a clear vision of what I wanted to create.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

To have faith. When you begin a business there are always ups/downs and it’s easy to get distracted, lose hope or feel overwhelmed. Stay positive!

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

I love “Let my People go Surfing”, Sacred Commerce and Mission in a Bottle. I also love Pema Chodron’s book Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

My parents, especially my mother, encouraged my brother, sister and I to be principled, bold, conduct yourself with integrity, stand up for your beliefs and be kind.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Spend time asking yourself the “Why” you want to start your business. That question leads to many other ones which are really important in manifesting your dream.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Julie Dugoff Waxman – The CEO Of Baked In Color

Julie Dugoff Waxman is the founder and CEO of Baked in Color, a rainbow and custom colored chocolate chip cookies company. Launched in May 2016, Baked in Color now operates a New York City location and they ship their cookies nationwide. Their customers love their cookies and they are positioned for further growth to keep up with the demand.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Julie to discuss her journey to entrepreneurship and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

My name is Julie Dugoff Waxman and I am the founder and CEO of Baked in Color, a rainbow, and custom colored chocolate chip cookies company. Launched in May 2016, Baked in Color now operates a New York City location and we ship our cookies nationwide. Baked in Color offers the first rainbow and custom colored chocolate chip cookies. Happy, fun and delicious, these cookies can be customized by color for all of life’s special occasions: holidays, mitzvahs, corporate events, college acceptance, school spirit, sports events, birthday parties, you name it!

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

As a student at Cornell, I founded and ran a cookie delivery business, Quickie Cookie. We baked, packaged and delivered fresh cookies, with a quart of milk (think Insomnia cookies). I sold the company and spent the next several years working in Corporate Retail at Saks Fifth Avenue and Macy’s. While working for these companies, I developed my skills in business development, strategic and financial planning, merchandising, team building, negotiation, and marketing. After twenty years in corporate retail, I was excited to launch my own business.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? How did you get the idea to start Baked in Color?

Chocolate chip cookies are America’s #1 dessert and colorfulrainbow desserts are the #1 social media dessert trend. I was inspired most by the rainbow bagel. Rainbow bagels look incredibly cool but don’t taste great. I had a delicious recipe for chocolate chip cookies and knew that if I could figure out how to execute color, I would have something very trend right and extremely marketable. Thousands of test batches later, Baked in Color was born.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Social media has been the big driver for Baked in Color. We started posting our cookies on Instagram and were quickly noticed by food influencers who posted the cookies on their Instagram and Facebook feeds. Six months after our launch, INSIDER took notice and shot a feature for their INSIDER FOOD and INSIDER DESSERT platforms. The video went viral, receiving over 7 Million views on Facebook, in addition to millions of views on Instagram. Baked in Color was also featured by Today.Com, Huffington Post and Spoon University. The media exposure drove our sales tenfold, putting our brand on the map and driving corporate business, such as Goldman Sachs, Barney’s NY, and Time Inc.

Where/how can we get our hands on your cookies?

Baked in Color has a New York City location at TurnstyleNYC, the underground market at Columbus Circle, at 58th street and Broadway. We deliver throughout Westchester County and NYC and ship nationwide. We specialize in both personal and corporate events. Orders can be placed online at www.bakedincolor.com. In addition to our online offering, we customize cookie colors and packaging to make the perfect dessert or party favor for your special occasion or event.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

GO FOR IT! Be patient and stay positive. Work hard and move forward each day. Things will not always go well but don’t get discouraged. Some days will bring opportunities and others will bring knocks. Hang in there. It’s a long haul. Don’t take rejection personally just move on to the next opportunity, of which there are countless. Be aware of the competition but don’t get bogged down by it. Network, network, network. It’s free to ask so ask others for help; people are generally happy to help. You can learn from most people and often each meeting leads to another opportunity. Follow your instincts but pivot when things aren’t going well; cut your losses and move on.

5 Ways To Take Action And Get Organized This New Year


How do you welcome the year ahead?

New Year, like the sun, is almost shining its rays on us. Tonight, we will be celebrating the coming of new hope, new inspiration and a continuing triumph against the challenges in life. It is a display of loud and colourful fireworks thrown into the vast sky, a grateful celebration of the year we bid goodbye to and a hopeful invitation to a new slate in our life. But what does it really mean to you?

Every year, we are faced with heightened anticipation as we lay out our goals and plans for the year ahead. We think of it religiously in the promise of daily opportunities and 365 days of chances. The more it draws itself to us, the brighter we see ourselves in its glorifying blessings and exciting beginnings. We look forward and bombard the first midnight with endless wants and wishes that we sometimes tend to forget the sturdy platform where these plans of ours stand –our inner self. So how do we work on ourselves to be able to successfully map out an organized 2020?

Stay Focused

The way to an organized year entails hard work and conviction. There will be days when following all your set life draft may seem impossible and this is where staying focused on your vision comes in. Your self-productivity and time management play a lead role in keeping you present and motivated.

Prioritize Big Things and Lift Your Littlest Ambitions

Maneuver every now and then to reckon if you’re doing the right thing at the right time. Are you caught up between the rocks of your short term goals and long term aspirations? Visualize yourself and maximize time by weeding off your life-destroyers and pick up the points that strongly contribute to your self-effectiveness and spectacular rewards.

Start a Healthy Financial Management Strategy

Know all your finances by heart and arm yourself with strong self-discipline and a realistic budget. File your bills accordingly and limit your credit card expenses.

Leave Unnecessary Things

Needless to say, de-cluttering may be one of the most neglected words we have but this year, be the difference that you desire and start by offloading stuff that you don’t actually need. This goes beyond tangible things since often, your negative emotions like anger and grudges take over your life. Release the bad vibes in your life and carve a path for a peaceful surrounding and stress-free day to day living.

Make Friends With Your Calendar

Mark important dates such as school and business appointments and devote a time that is solely assigned for you to face your to-do lists and accomplish those set-off goals.

The countdown for New Year begins with you. It’s a blank space waiting for you to take as you shape your destiny so take it, draw your vision of life, write your big dreams in it and get up to steal them. 2020 is here, embrace it!

How to Get More Facebook Likes And Followers: 5 Tactics That Actually Work

Since its inception, Facebook has become one of the most successful social media sites to advertise on. With just under 17% of the population of the planet signed up to Facebook, you can get a much larger audience than any other site to view your posts and engage with your brand. But to make any waves on Facebook, you need Likes and followers. A popular way in recent years to gain Likes is to buy them, but not only is this not authentic, it also doesn’t get your brand noticed by actual potential customers. So how can you get the Facebook Likes that you need, without paying for them?

Here are some killer tips for creating a successful Facebook page for your brand without spending a penny.

Fill out your page

Filling out your page may seem obvious, but a mistake that a lot of people make is not to fill out their pages entirely. You can add plenty of information to your Facebook page including links to other sites that you have, and all the information that a customer needs, and this is what they are looking for. A sparse Facebook page makes it look like you aren’t taking this seriously and may even make them question if you are a legitimate business in the first place.

Use Insights

Facebook insights is free to use and an invaluable tool to use when advertising on the site. You can access this through your business page on Facebook, and what it does is it lets you see what is working for your page. Which posts are seen the most, liked the most, what other pages your followers are interacting with and when. This is useful as you can schedule your posts for when the most people will see it, and also get an idea of the other kinds of things you could do in the future to gain popularity.

Use a great picture and heading

Appearance is everything these days, and even more so on social media. If you don’t already have a recognizable logo, you need to get one. Make your Facebook page look good, and people won’t mind liking and sharing. You can look at similar businesses to yours to see how they did theirs and how you can do better.

Invite likes

Make sure to invite those who like your posts, to like your page. This can be done by using other sites to drive traffic, or in your Facebook settings.

Share relevant content

Users like pages that share other things they want to see. If you can find videos or posts that are related to your area of expertise or your industry, users will find your page more engaging and entertaining, and thus, will interact more with it. Unless you are already an extremely popular brand, users will quickly get bored if you only ever share your own content. This can also help to build relationships with other users and businesses.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With SPIbelts’ CEO, Kim Overton

It all started in 2006 when SPIbelts Founder, Kim Overton, went for a run with nowhere to comfortably hold her key. Afterward, she went home and assembled the first SPIbelt. After months of hard work, development, and patenting, SPIbelt officially launched in February of 2007 out of Kim’s Austin, Texas apartment.

Eleven years later you can find SPIbelt products in over 40 countries. Despite SPIbelts international success, its headquarters remain in Austin, Texas where the majority of their products are still being handmade.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Kim Overton and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

My name is Kim Overton, I’m from Austin, TX and a mother of three young boys ages 2, 6 and 7. I launched my company, SPIbelt, 11 years ago after having the annoying experience of jogging with my keys tucked into my bra top. The idea for the SPIbelt hit me like a lightning bolt while I was on a run, I went home that afternoon and made my first prototype. Five months later I filed a patent and officially launched my business.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

After launching my company in 2007, I worked as many hours as I could until needing to hire help. At that time I hired my brother to help with sales. About one year after launch, I was featured on the Big Idea with Donny Deutsch, which gave us great exposure and lead to more press. Our brand took off quite rapidly after that.

I have always been driven to work for myself and approach every idea and company with full passion and conviction. I knew early on that that SPIbelt was different, so I did envision mass distribution.

What is your main source of income?

SPIbelt sales through international distributors and domestic retailers.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

We are currently expanding our line for our customers to have more products to choose from.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

We utilize Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest for brand awareness.

What is your experience with paid advertising, like PPC or sponsored content campaigns? Does it work?

PPC works to an extent but the algorithms change constantly. We find that shared customer experiences on our social outlets are one of the driving forces for sales and awareness with our products.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

We appreciate the user experience the most. Anyone can pay for ad space and expensive marketing, but the real user experience is authentic and invaluable.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

We launched before FB was a viable platform for businesses, and not that is fading. So we have learned that staying flexible and knowledgeable about what our customer’s habits are is the best way to grow.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Our products are sleek but expand a lot! Other phone holders were big and bulky while our stays slim and tight to the body and looks good at the same time.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

How to divide my time between taking my company to the next level, and being a dedicated mom and wife. It’s a tough balancing act.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Investing in a marketing campaign that I knew little about and had little experience with. Early on I produced a mini commercial that the world wasn’t ready for, but cost me $30K.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

Try to not spend what you think you can sell. In other words, if your customers will buy about $10,000 worth of products in one month, you don’t need to have $50,000 sitting on the shelf for the month. Try to invest in what you think you can turn around in a short amount of time when you are in growth mode.

What new business would you love to start?

I’d love to start a business with my husband that allows us to combine our passions of being parents with helping others. We have one in mind that we’re currently working on! Stay tuned.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Nothing. I’m grateful for the journey I’ve had. But if I must pick, I would have let people go quicker than I did. Having the wrong people on the bus can really suck the life and opportunity out of your business. Learn to let people go when needed, you are also doing them a great big favor.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Meditate on a daily basis and keep an exercise routine consistent, no matter what.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

When starting out, “Think and Grow Rich”, when established, “Traction.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To remember, God made us with eyes in front of our head, not the back. Keep your eyes forward, look ahead! Don’t worry about the past.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

Identify your customer base and where they are. Go to them and test out your product, your concept, talk to people before spending too much time and energy in one direction just to find out that’s not what the masses want. And launch without waiting for “perfection”, because no one idea will ever be perfect for everyone. Launch when you’re as close to perfect as you can get for the real potential customers you’ve spoken with.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With “The Digital Dating Disruptor” Lori Cheek

Screenshot from TEDx Talks

Lori Cheek is an NYC based architect turned entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO of Cheekd that removes the “missed” from “missed connections.” After working in architecture, furniture, and design for 15 years, she came up with an idea that lead her into the NYC world of technology and dating. She has been coined “the Digital Dating Disruptor,” listed as one of 12 “Inspirational Women in Tech to Follow and as one of AlleyWatch’s 20 most awesome people to know in the NYC tech scene. She’s also a Shark Tank Vet, a TEDx Speaker and has been featured in Forbes, The NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Huffington Post, The NY Observer, Entrepreneur Mag, Fast Company, Inc Magazine and so much more.

When most people would have quit years ago, she only hustled harder to keep her dream alive! She could be the walking poster child for the age-old phrase, “what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.” It wasn’t an easy ride but she’s never been happier in her life. A lightbulb moment 9 years ago changed her life forever, she left her $120K a year (60 hour work week) design job and now she owns a business that Wired Magazine recently questioned, “Is this the future of online dating?” She has gone from 15 years of helping others build their dreams to a life finally dedicated to building her own.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Lori Cheek and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I’m Lori Cheek, an NYC based architect turned entrepreneur, Founder, and CEO of Cheekd that removes the “missed” from “missed connections.” After working in architecture, furniture, and design for 15 years, I came up with an idea that led me into the NYC world of technology and dating. I completely threw away my design career and I’m no longer building structures, I’m now building relationships.

In February of 2008, I was out to dinner with an architectural colleague. He’d spotted an attractive woman at a nearby table and scribbled, “Want to have dinner?” on the back of his business card and slipped it to her as we were leaving the restaurant. He left with a date. I left with an idea. After over two years of brainstorming how to remove the “business” out of the business card, I launched Cheekd– a deck of ice-breaking dating cards with a unique code that lead the recipient to the privacy protected online dating profile of the mysterious stranger who slipped them the card where the two could start communicating online. It was like online dating but backward. We’ve since pivoted Cheekd into a hyper-speed mobile dating app that gives users the ability to never miss a real-life potential “love connection” thanks to a cross-platform low energy Bluetooth technology, which sends users an immediate notification when someone (within their criteria) comes within a 30-foot radius of them. It’s real-time and works on a subway or a plane without any cellular connection.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I’ve got a laser-focused vision to succeed and will do almost anything to keep this business flourishing. I’m actually not surprised by my determination because as long as I can remember, I’ve been extremely stubborn. When most people would have quit, I only hustled harder. I think my personal approach, passion, and dedication mixed with my relentless conviction that failure is not an option has been the recipe that has lead to my current success. I could be the poster child for the age-old phrase “what doesn’t kill you can only make you stronger.” No matter what… in the end, I’m going to have a magical story to tell.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

Social media and international PR coverage have both been our strongest tool for growth other than our epic brutal bloodbath on ABC’s prime time reality show, Shark Tank, over four years ago. It’s one of the most-watched television shows in America and not only did we gain an outrageous number of customers after it aired but our episode re-airs on CNBC all the time. We always get a blast of users downloading our app all over the world after it airs.

What social media platforms do you usually use to increase your brand’s awareness?

We’re on all of them but mainly use Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Pinterest, and Instagram.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware of your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

Over the past eight years, our business has been featured in dozens of the most prominent news and technology websites including The New York Times, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Tech Crunch, Inc, Fast Company, Wired Magazine, and countless others.” We’ve been very fortunate to have the press on our side. We’ve built a unique way for singles to break the ice. We’re giving our members a new real-life tool to use as an alternative to missed connections taking place every day.

While there are over 102 million single adults above the age of 18 in America alone, a 25-year-old online dating industry is experiencing serious fatigue and has failed to create a viable alternative to the existing online model. People want to make connections in the real world. We are doing our best to give our customers the most organic, unique real-life experience based on initial chemistry and that’s what has consistently made us stand out above the others.

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

I discovered early on that in a very saturated startup space, it’s crucial to make a splash. Creative marketing quickly became my forte. Not only has it paid off in so many amazing ways, but it’s also been loads of fun. I’ve managed to land myself in The New York Times, The Washington Post, TechCrunch, Fast Company, Inc., Shark Tank, Forbes and many many more publications all over the world. One of my favorite stories was from Dublin’s Web Summit when over 800 startups were exhibiting (90% of them were men) and I decided to stand out by wearing Angel Wings throughout the conference (I have a dating business). When I was checking out of my hotel, I looked down at Judy Dench on the cover of the Irish Times and there I was right next to her (me on my laptop with my Angel Wings— inside there was another 1/4 page picture mentioning my business). Ireland knew about Cheekd.com.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

Our dating app sets itself apart from our competing billion-dollar companies because it gives you the option to interact with a match before starting a virtual relationship with the compatible user. After setting up your profile and desired filters, Cheekd will then send you notifications when a potential match is nearby. Instead of encouraging users to continue to hide behind a screen, Cheekd pushes you to engage in social settings while paying attention to potential matches in the area. Our new dating app gives us the power to light the spark face-to-face first and leave the talking for later. And because Cheekd uses Bluetooth, it doesn’t require an Internet connection to function so connections can be made on the subway, a plane… anywhere— You’ll get a notification if someone who meets your criteria is within 30 feet of you. If you’re near a potential spark, Cheekd makes sure you know about it. It’s like online dating but it starts in the real world.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

When we got covered in the New York Times nearly eight years ago, our site got traffic from all over the world until Cheekd.com crashed. Once the site came back to life, we got orders all over the country. The Cheekd business model was based on a recurring subscription model once users made their initial purchase. Soon after, we realized that our web developer (based in London) had the button ticked “OFF” that captured our user’s credit card information and was unable to enroll them into our recurring subscription. With hundreds of new signups, we lost nearly $30,000 from this simple mistake. I joke now that our London based web developer is lucky that he didn’t live in America at the time. We immediately got that button fixed.

What have you learned in the process of becoming wealthy that others can learn from?

My definition of wealth has changed drastically since I started my business in 2010. Cheekd has been the most powerful thing that’s ever happened to me. Building this business has been an incredible learning experience. I’ve taken a major risk (both financially & mentally) and surrendered my career in architecture & design, but my heart and mind are in this project every waking moment. I’ve never been more dedicated to anything. Despite the occasional overwhelming stress, it’s been loads of fun. I feel like I’m living the American Dream. I’ve gone from 15 years of helping build someone else’s dream to a life dedicated to building my own– Success to me is to be able to spend your life in your own way. I no longer have a job, I have a lifestyle and am miraculously always working but I’ve never been happier because I love what I do.

What new business would you love to start?

Aside from my mission in hopes of connecting people in the real world, my other passion is fitness. I, personally, am always looking to make workout buddies and can rarely get my own network to join me. My new app idea is to connect like-minded people that can connect to work out together. I think it’ll be such an amazing motivation for everyone to stay committed while making friends at the same time.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Having brought the wrong team on board when I first started building my business nearly five years ago. If I’d known what I know now… I wish someone had told me the importance of having a technical co-founder on board when I started out. I had a team, but the two gentlemen I brought on had the same exact background. I didn’t need two of the same skill sets. The technical aspect of my business has been one of the bigger challenges I’ve faced and it’s the one thing I definitely would have approached differently from day one.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

I wish I’d been able to tell myself that building a business doesn’t make for an overnight success. I believed so much in my idea that after our launch, I thought I was going to be a billionaire by the end of the year! Eight years into the entrepreneurial hustle, I’ve learned that entrepreneurship is being on a mission where nothing can stop you. It will take twice as long as you’d hoped, cost exceedingly more than you’d ever budgeted and will be more challenging than anything you’ll ever try but if you give it your all and refuse to give up, you can trust it will be the ride of a lifetime. No matter what… this has been the most rewarding journey of my life. My advice to other aspiring entrepreneurs is to be brave and follow your instincts. You can’t cheat the grind, but if you give it your all, you can trust that the payoff will be worth it.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

My favorite brain fuel right now is Smarter Faster Better by Charles Duhigg— an engaging read where the author shares all sorts of fascinating secrets of being productive in both life and business. He explains how in today’s world, managing how you think rather than what you think can transform your life. Not only has the book helped me reassess my daily motivation and goals, but it’s also helped me create some interesting new productivity hacks to allow me to get things accomplished smarter, faster and better.

As an avid guerrilla and creative startup marketer/ tech startup founder, another one of my favorite business books is The Purple Cow by Seth Godin. It’s all about standing out from the masses and transforming your business by being remarkable.

One of my favorite quotes out of this book::: “You must design a product that is remarkable enough to attract the early adopters – but is flexible enough and attractive enough that those adopters will have an easy time spreading the idea.”

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Surround yourself with the people you want to become.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

My strongest advice for others considering taking the leap is if you truly believe in your idea, give up excuses and doubt, surround yourself by a trusted and talented team, bulldoze forward and DON’T. LOOK. BACK.

The Life Of An Entrepreneur: Interview With Noel And Waseem Ballou

Foodeez is a boutique creative digital agency focused exclusively on creating content for food and beverage brands. The co-founders, Noel and Waseem Ballou, are brothers who have invested their own resources and bootstrapped their way to creating this full-service agency, without a single investor.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with these inspiring entrepreneurs and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started your business?

I came from a business management background. I started this business with my brother when we saw a need with brands lacking social marketing services and felt it was something we both truly understood. Together we both started this agency with the main focus in creating high-quality content with the appropriate brand direction.

Can you describe your journey to success? When did you start? Did you ever imagine you would become this successful?

I still don’t feel we’ve reached “success.” I always hit a milestone and feel I need to set a bigger and harder one to chase and set that as the new standard of success. It continues to push my brother, my team, and myself. Starting this company fresh out college, I had 0 income and felt that it’s now or never if I want to start a company and dove straight in – and there was no looking back. I never imagined the company to get to this size, I always envisioned it to be about 5-10 people, but we are at 30 people and working with over 75 clients every month.

What is your main source of income?

Our main sources of income come from our content creation and production departments.

What are you currently doing to maintain/grow your business?

I am always looking for new strategies to maintain lean operations yet maintain the high-quality output we stand-by. Aside from internal strategizes, we are always looking for new services we can provide to our current/potential clients as well as new avenues we can take the direction of the company that may have strong long term benefits.

What is your main tactic when it comes to making more people aware your brand and engaging your customers? How did your business stand out?

High-quality content with a fast turnaround!

What form of marketing has worked well for your business throughout the years?

Word of mouth. Ever since we’ve started our business has been driven by cold calls and referral business. Only recently have we got aggressive with our PR and digital marketing. But moving forward we are focusing our efforts on traditional PR and digital marketing.

How did your brand stand out from the rest of the other brands out there that is similar to your niche?

We solely do Food & Beverage and nothing else. A lot of other businesses who do production and content creation don’t specialize in it (they other their services to other industries i.e. fashion, lifestyle, fitness, etc). We have a team of true foodies that are the best in their fields.

What is the toughest decision you had to make in the last few months?

Expanding our office and scaling the team. As owners, we’ve really had to tighten our belts and make sure we can afford such a move. We’ve not only doubled our office space but have doubled the team to gear us towards an influx of work.

What money mistakes have you made along the way that others can learn from (or something you’d do differently)?

Budgeting and sticking tight to your budget. It’s so easy to swipe your credit card and get carried away. But budgeting is crucial. Oh, and save. There is nothing better than having cash on hand especially when you need it!

What have you learned in the process of becoming successful that others can learn from?

There is no such thing as an overnight success. I read a quote that goes “An overnight success usually takes 10 years”. Don’t expect to start a company and be successful tomorrow. It’s a lot of hustling & grinding, but the return of seeing the product you built is significantly rewarding.

What new business would you love to start?

Our own line of products… Which are actually in the works! Being in the food and beverage industry we’ve been able to partner with some of our clients in creating new private-label brands that will focus strictly online vs the traditional retailer route.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?

Save, save, and budget! The saying money doesn’t grow on trees is 100% true! Being a small company we’ve invested in foolish items. Looking back at it, if we saved that money and invested it in other avenues we could have been in a different place.

If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were first making a name for yourself, what advice would you give yourself?

Stay focused and don’t try to do too much at one time. Organize your tasks and projects and put 101% into each and everything you do. Don’t stress yourself over the little things, just develop a checklist and knock things off 1 by 1.

Do you have any favorite business-related or personal development related books that you can recommend to other entrepreneurs?

Sell or be sold by Grant Cardone. Everything in business and life is sales, make sure you’re always ready and looking for the right opportunity. If you don’t reach for it, someone else will.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Keep your head up and stay humble.

What advice would you give to a newbie Entrepreneur setting up their first business?

When you start hiring people, make sure you hire people that truly believe in your vision and have a passion for what you believe in as well. There is a lot of speed bumps in the beginning and you want them to be there with you helping push through the early barriers.

3 Most Underrated Things Successful People Do, Unsuccessful People Don’t Do

You’ve probably come to a point in your life wherein you’re wondering why other people have gone ridiculously successfully why some remained otherwise. With all the things that constitute a person such as financial means, education, childhood, talent, as well as skill – it seems that most of us are anything but equal.

So what makes others successful? Could it be the people that they know? Their high profile connections? While this can be true, it actually boils down to the fact that successful people do what an average person would not be willing to do. If you fail to get the gist of what I’m saying, then let me elaborate further.

Some of the most successful people and leaders regarded in our generation right now include Mark Zuckerberg, Brian Tracy, Anthony Robbins, and Zig Ziglar. We also have celebrity entrepreneurs in the likes of Sir Richard Branson as well as Oprah Winfrey. There are also countless nameless and faceless people in the society that we take for granted but are also very successful in their own rights. And the common denominator among all these people, regardless if they are famous or not, is the fact that they do the things that other people would never want to do. These are the same people who do the things that other people consider as time-consuming, unnecessary, too hard, or dull.

So do you also want to be successful? So here are some of the things that successful people do in order to maintain the level of success that they have but other people fail to do. You, too, can be successful just like them as long as you follow these steps.

Successful people create a routine

People who are successful have a daily routine that they follow. Most of the time, they wake up on a specified time (usually earlier compared with others) and follow a “to do” list. Their routines are considered to be non-negotiable, thus, barely disrupted by any distractions. For most people, this is just a routine. But for them, it is a way of life.

Successful people condition their mind continuously

This is often seen in most successful people. They all nurture their mindset with positivity all the time. They do not allow negative thinking to get the best of them. They make sure that they only nurture positive thoughts and do away with the negative ones. They do this not only by changing their mindset and perspective but through learning like reading books and listening to inspiring audiobooks.

Successful people have high standards and they follow it

As Anthony Robbins once said, “for one to be able to be successful, one must continuously raise the standards”. These people already have high standards but yet they even set the bar higher for themselves. While unproductive people are typically too scared to take a leap of faith, successful people, on the other hand, are willing to take calculated risks and reach higher into the stars.

How To Succeed In Business: A True Story Of Success

A lot of write-ups and books are available on topics about entrepreneurship, tips to become a successful entrepreneur and testimonials of successful entrepreneurs, among others. For some, there’s an impression that entrepreneurship is such a big word and an insurmountable ordeal. That it entails huge capital and a lot of machinery for one to become a successful entrepreneur. As explained well in books and write-ups, it is not a big word and only need simple elements to become a successful one. As being said, entrepreneurship is not a difficult ordeal to achieve. My take on this is every person can be an entrepreneur and a successful one in his own right. Having one’s own business even with a very small capital is already entrepreneurship. This last part is what I want to share as a successful entrepreneurship story of my close female friend.

My friend whose parents refused to support her college education made her way through college by putting a very low budgeted small eatery with some school supplies for sale with the help of some loan assistance and with the guidance of a business-minded friend. Her small eatery’s income was her main, and most of the time her only sole source of funds, that she used to pay for her tuition and other school fees. It also supported some of her family’s daily needs. There were also some desperate times where she needed to avail herself of small loans from loan sharks just so she can adequately finance her business and pay her tuition fees when her business income was not sufficient. Her limited finances and her being a self-supporting student did not discourage her a bit to pursue her college degree.

After she graduated from college with a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree, she decided to concentrate on her small business rather than become a mere employee to companies, big or small. With sheer hard work, love, and passion, she has now opened a new branch and so she is now operating two eateries that just started as a low budgeted business! Now, she is enjoying running her eateries and is now able to buy things with her business income which she could not afford during her college days. She is now so able to support her family’s needs and contribute to paying the bills.

My friend’s story tells that one need not have a huge capital to be an entrepreneur and be successful at it. I am truly proud of what my friend has achieved after all the obstacles and hardships that she had to undergo which others may not be able to surmount. Based on her story, it just needs guts, determination, passion, a sense of purpose and refusal to succumb to mediocrity to flourish into becoming your own boss and not just having a boss. Of course, hard work takes a big portion of the success pie. She is an example of a successful entrepreneur in its simplest and truest sense.