5 Ways New Entrepreneurs Can Future-Proof Their Businesses

It’s no secret that many businesses took a massive hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, but while some were struggling, entrepreneurs were thriving. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 4.3 million new businesses were launched in 2020 alone — over 1 million more than the previous year — meaning that more people are launching new businesses than ever before.

While this is great news for the entrepreneurship community at large, that doesn’t mean these newly-launched businesses are in the clear. In fact, some estimate that as many as 50% of these businesses will fail within the first year without additional support. 

So what can new founders do to ensure their success? It’s easier than you might think.

  1. Establish yourself as a thought leader.

As business owners, there are few things more important than your credibility and reputation. As such, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your industry is vital — not only will this ensure that potential customers want to work with you, it can also lead to other business-boosting benefits like media inquiries, partnership offers, and more. 

You might be tempted to brush off thought leadership as a secondary priority, especially when you’re focused on getting your business off the ground. However, demonstrating that you’re a leader in your field is a fantastic way to build a safety net that can help your business stay afloat and even thrive. Building your personal brand and platform can help you create a strong foundation from which your business can grow, and it will help bring people to you instead of the opposite. 

  1. Don’t be afraid to pivot. 

Change is scary, especially when you’ve already stepped out of your comfort zone by launching a new business. As we’ve learned during the pandemic, however, the ability to adapt is key to many businesses’ survival. While there is definitely strength in persistence despite the odds, it’s also critical for entrepreneurs to understand when and how to pivot.

Don’t view it as giving up on your business or your ideas but rather as exploring new avenues of possibility. Studies show that businesses that are willing to adapt or change during times of crisis are more likely to be successful, which means your ability to think quickly and respond accordingly might be the difference between a business that succeeds and one that fails.

  1. Focus on financial literacy.

Money is the #1 cause of stress in America, and the same is true for entrepreneurs. While this stress can wreak havoc on our overall health and wellness — including contributing to anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, and more — it’s often far worse for entrepreneurs, who are more prone to mental health issues due to immense stress.

While you can certainly introduce stress-relieving tactics into your regular routine to help you cope — whether that’s exercise, mindfulness, meditation, or something different — it’s important to address the sources of that stress as well. And one of the best ways to worry less about money? Learn more about it.

Look for ways to level up your financial literacy as both an individual and an entrepreneur, and make sure to find ways to give yourself the financial education that many business owners aren’t able to receive in traditional schooling. There are plenty of resources available online for entrepreneurs who want to learn more about money, and the more you know the more confident you’ll be in handling your money and taking financial risks. 

  1. Explore alternate methods of funding.

While there’s nothing wrong with bootstrapping your business, lack of funding is one of the biggest reasons why new businesses fail. And while a small business loan from a traditional bank is an option for some, it might not be the best path for you, especially if you’re a first-time entrepreneur. 

Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box when it comes to funding your business. Crowdsourcing is a great option for anyone who is able to provide a physical product or service, and you might be able to raise money through crowdsourcing on Kickstarter or Indiegogo. Not sure if crowdsourcing is right for you? There are plenty of angel investors out there who are looking for new investment opportunities, and there’s no reason not to reach out to them. There are also new alternative forms of investors that are available on platforms like ClearCo that can help businesses scale without sacrificing a large ownership stake in their company. If your product is in the e-commerce or SaaS space, this might be the type of funding you need to get your business off the ground. 

  1. Get a mentor.

Mentorship might not be on your “top priorities” list as an entrepreneur, but it definitely should be. According to one survey, 70% of small businesses that received mentoring survived more than five years, which is double the survival rate of non-mentored businesses. Plus, business leaders who are mentored by a top performer are three times more likely to become top performers in their industry as well, meaning mentorship might very well be the thing that helps your business not only survive but thrive. 

Charlotte DeMocker is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer at Penny, an innovative digital media startup that successfully launched during the pandemic. Penny seeks to help ordinary people master their money. Follow Charlotte on Instagram @charlottedemocker and learn more about Penny @penny.app.

Meet The Woman Behind The Cover Of The July 2021 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Sue Turner

Photo Credit: Tony Palliser (Studio 49)

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Susan (Sue) Turner came from a wonderful family with a mother who was a head nurse and a beauty queen; her father loved to sing at weddings and was also known as an unbeaten famous boxer as well as a long-distance runner.

Sue has been married to Steven Turner for 31 years and together they have eight children who have grown up to be amazing adults. She’s also a proud grandmother of 12 grandchildren and has been a French bulldog breeder for 15 years. Her main profession is in the beauty industry – she runs her own beauty salon.

When Sue was only seven years old, she won the little miss MS multiple sclerosis pageant; this started her journey towards her passion as a beauty queen. From there, she worked tirelessly with her mother in many charities. In fact, her charity hours amount to around 60.000 hours and she has raised over $100,000.00 in 2018/2019 through various car shows. Some of the charities she supports include Domestic violence association Sydney, MS multiple sclerosis, Child’s vision Australia, Breast cancer foundation, Wesley mission, Salvation Army, Cystic fibrosis foundation, Starlight foundation, and Destiny Rescue.

She is the director for the “I hear voices” parent support form for addiction and has worked alongside the justice system to help prevent criminal activities. She also has her own show car – a Subaru WRX my05. This car has been used in the event to raise much-needed money at various car shows around Australia.

Sue is a global mentor within the pageant industry to all beauty queens worldwide as a featured public figure influencer. She has also won many awards as a beauty queen including Mrs. Earth Air Australia 2017, Mrs. International Global Australia 2018, Mrs. international Global Australia 2018, Humanitarian International 2018, Woman of the World 2018 and AGSA’s International Beauty Queen of the year 2019.

Sue’s passion has led her worldwide, seeing firsthand many disturbing events such as famine and disease. Because of that, she helps many other situations around the world. Sue is currently the CEO of GEQ (Global Elite Queens) magazine and her vision is to give voice to those who inspire to become the best they can in their industry. MoneyCentral magazine recently caught up with Sue Turner to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

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

As a young girl, I grew up in the outback of Western Australia in 1979. My father as a youngster was a barber in the army and my mother was a nurse and an outstanding figure in her community. After school I was offered a part-time job, working in a hair salon. On weekends I worked at the local vets. I then decided after a few years that a job in the beauty industry would be my call. My parents then sent me to Victoria and set me up with an apprenticeship in hairdressing where I gained work at one of Victoria’s most prestigious hair salons then later at Bogart’s. At the time, Bogarts became my doorway to runway modeling. And then by accident, we were short of models at a fashion event in St Kilda Melbourne so I was asked to fill in, and this led to an exciting new venture into glamour and fashion.

For many years I enjoyed the limelight until I decided to take on another degree, a university degree in skin therapy. This led to an opportunity to run my own business in the beauty industry. My degree is grade 1 level esthetician skin therapist. For 22 years I owned my business growing and building a foundation with an outstanding perspective in the beauty industry. I maintained my business by being a leader in my field and also in a growing dominant industry by developing and growing my brand and sharing my platform to create a future I have passed onto my 2 daughters.

My business has reached its target in achieving what I’d set out to do and that’s to be able to share this wonderful opportunity with my own daughters giving them both the strategies and the opportunity to support their own business in the future with absolute success.

My daughter Alycia is now an internationally recognised Sfx makeup artist with her own brand and my youngest daughter became an international beauty queen also giving her the incentive to become a partner in the beauty industry.

Why do you think social media is important in business?

Being active in social media can lead to attracting customers, allowing you to get customer feedback and building customer loyalty. It can also help increase your market reach, including international markets and increase revenue by building customer networks and advertising.

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

As we all are suffering at the hands of the pandemic, we all have had to make a few changes in the way we run our businesses. Sadly there have been drastic changes in our industry with a loss in revenue. This has been the hardest decision I’ve had to face in over 22 years. Many people are in the same situation as me and these are tough times ahead for us all.

What new venture would you like to start?

I’m looking at expanding my horizons on a new venture working with missing persons. I have a current platform with crimes against humanity missing persons in Australia. This platform will enable me to work with the crime task forces in seeking closure for many families. Recently, last November, I was awarded the Mother Teresa award at the Australian parliament for her work with missing persons.

If you could go back in a time machine what would you do differently?

I love who I am so I do not think I’d do anything different. I’ve succeeded in the pathway I chose based on a future I envisioned for myself. I basically accomplished what I feel is a successful venture from a woman’s point of view. My target was to pass on my legacy to my children and in saying that, I’ve successfully done just that. Mission complete.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To never say never and always be one step ahead. Follow your heart and your dreams and it will eventually work out. Stick to your plan and do not look back because the future is yours. My advice to others ia be to remember who you are – no one can do or appreciate what you yourself has to offer. Be yourself and be content In who you are.

What advice would you give someone who wants to follow in your footsteps?

If you have a dream, follow it and do not be afraid as fear can take over so many baby steps one step at a time. Be vigilant – my all-time favourite saying is to be your own kind of beautiful.

Meet The Entrepreneur Behind The Cover Of The June 2021 Issue Of MoneyCentral Magazine: Aaron Villa

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Aaron Villa is a crypto analyst and a self-made millionaire – he’s the founder and CEO of A1PHA Trading & Investing. He is a cryptocurrency trader and blockchain expert, certified by the blockchain council. He has been a crypto coach since 2017 and is deeply knowledgeable. He has created multiple courses, formed mastermind groups, and shared a lot of informational tools and tips regarding cryptocurrency.

MoneyCentral magazine recently caught up with Aaron to discuss his journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?

I first realized my entrepreneurial flair when I was in college, I got involved with a lot of networking businesses. Also, I watched my parents build and grow their business as a child which influenced me to become an entrepreneur. When I became a Registered Nurse in the USA two years into my career I realized that it was not for me and that I did not want to work for someone else. I wanted my freedom and to be able to do the things I want to do whenever I wanted.

How did your life look like before being an entrepreneur?

Before becoming an entrepreneur I was working full time as a Registered Nurse. I did 12-hour shifts 3-4 times a week. On top of that, I also began my MSN degree to become an Acute Nurse Practitioner. And on my free time, I worked on learning and educating myself everything about investing in cryptocurrency and blockchain technology.

As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?

As an entrepreneur, I am motivated to prove to myself constantly that I can be successful in all aspects of life. Achieving those goals and growing as a person.

In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.

Exciting. My life as an entrepreneur has been exciting because every day I wake up knowing that I am going to do something I love and am passionate about. I get excited to create new things, connect with new people, see new places, and learn along the way. It also excites me to know that I can also spend more time with my family more as I pursue these things.

What were your top three motivations for starting your business?

1. Freedom to be able to handle my own time.

2. Passion, which allowed me to work day in and day out without getting tired.

3. To be able to create my own future by following my own timeline and pursuing all the goals that I set out to do.

What do you put your success down to?

My success is because of my passion, dedication, and consistency. Also having the right mindset and the right partner (my wife) who constantly guides me throughout my journey.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?

The three elements to running a successful business are first of all loving what you do, valuing relationships with people, and remembering your why. I also believe that the more you give, the more opportunities and blessings that come back to you. So giving back to your community is also important.

What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?

The biggest challenge at first was lack of time and dealing with uncertainties.

When I started A1PHA trading and investing I was also still working as a Nurse. I enjoyed teaching clients about cryptocurrency but I didn’t put much time in. Instead of focusing on doing what I wanted, I had to fulfill my responsibilities at my job. I was a bit uncertain about going all-in with my business because I was used to having a steady income coming in monthly as a Nurse. But as soon as I took that leap of faith to grow and really focus on my business, that’s when I realized that I could actually do this and quit my job. And so far I don’t regret my decision and I never looked back.

Does the loneliness of the entrepreneur really exist?

Yes, it can be lonely at times, but being alone while doing what you are passionate about can be addicting because I can spend countless hours doing what I love without any distractions.

As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?

Leadership lessons that I’ve learned are to delegate by outsourcing, managing your time wisely, and learning how to take breaks.

I want to see more small businesses being started and being successful because I myself support small local businesses. I find that in a way, I am contributing to my community and helping another individual no matter how big or small.

You can follow Aaron on Instagram via these links: Alpha Trading I Aaron Villa

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Find Out More About Bestselling Author And Speaker, Midori Verity

Midori Verity helps driven professionals break through the mental challenges that have slowed them down, and unlock their potential. She’s a best-selling author, speaker, and show host.

She has a degree in Communications and Sociology from the University of California, Davis. Midori is also a Certified Behavioral Specialist. She’s proud to be an Advisor for the global organization, Women Network, and an active board member for Child Parent Institute in Santa Rosa, CA. Midori’s been featured on FoxNews, CBS, Martha Stewart Weddings, Thrive Global, and many other media.

StarCentral Magazine recently caught up with Midori to discuss her journey in the industry and here’s what went down:

When did your entrepreneurial flair first reveal itself?

My mom had a flower-arranging business. She was incredibly gifted, but she was more focused on giving her products away. I remember wanting her to become successful. However, she was happier doing beautiful flower arrangements and sharing them with the world.

This experience probably was the igniter to my entrepreneurial path. I so greatly wanted to see her receive the financial value of what she produced.

How did your life look before being an entrepreneur?

I started working at around 14 years old. I always had the drive to learn all I could at every job I had. One of my first jobs was at Heller’s Baby News. I made the manager train me on closing out the books at night. I also soaked in all he told me about merchandising, pricing, and Mr. Heller’s business success.

As an entrepreneur, what is it that motivates and drives you?

I love the adrenaline of creating something of value and raising it to success. It’s really my only hobby and what I’m good at (laughs)!

I’ve learned to align my core values, motivations, and Zone of Genius (natural gifts) with my businesses. That has been a huge game-changer in my success.

In one word, describe your life as an entrepreneur and explain why.

Exhilarating.

As an entrepreneur, my brain never shuts down. I’ve learned to think bigger and push myself past boundaries. The thrill of the journey is what makes my life exhilarating.

What were your top three motivations for starting your business?

I’ll talk about my Mindset Coaching business because it was the first business I made sure was in complete alignment with my Personal Mission Statement, which states “My journey through life is uplifting and fun while using my optimism and skills to inspire others to achieve their potential.”

Core values: I help people breakthrough mental challenges and rewire their mindsets to unlock their potential

Passion: There’s nothing I love more than watching people who feel stuck, overwhelmed, or even depressed step into a more empowered and happier version of themselves.

Zone of Genius (natural talents): Inspiring others and showing them how to transform their minds and therefore transform their lives is a second sense for me.

What would you say are the key elements for starting and running a successful business?

Test, test, test! Make sure your concept is something that’s needed before launching. You can test it by simply going to where you think your clients hang out and ask them.

Make sure you factor in confirmation bias, which means that we often twist things around to confirm what we want to believe.

The second most important element is to get professional help in creating the foundation of your business. You can waste a ton of time, money, and sleep if you don’t have a solid business plan.

What are the three biggest challenges you have faced growing the business and how did you overcome them?

Finding clients. I had to do a lot of trial and error before I found what worked. Once again, learning my Zone of Genius was of incredible value because it taught me to focus on what I’m good at and avoid what I stink at!

Closing sales. I had sales scripts and went to expensive classes. All it did was stress me out. Once I threw the scripts out and started listening only with my heart did everything change.

Shiny objects. I’ve disciplined myself to stay uber-focused on my 90-day goals. I even use a system that Google, Intuit, and Bill Gates Foundation uses called OKR’s – objectives and key results, which has been a massive game changer!

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

Word of mouth and live interviews. People get to see my authentic personality when I’m speaking on camera or a podcast. Then they know if they want to work with me, or they can’t stand me.

As you grew the business, what have been some of the most important leadership lessons you have learned?

Have a clear mission and vision statement that your entire organization knows and lives by. I train my leaders to consistently question if new ideas are in alignment with our vision and mission.

Big Fat Hair Goals. This creates excitement for my team. We implement the OKR system to make this all work.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Delegate all that you are not gifted at or slows you down. Spend 80% of your time working on the most important elements of your business that you love doing.

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

This goes back to my earlier answer of test your concept and get a mentor.

5 Good Reason Why Personal Branding is Crucial To Career Success

Living in a digital world, it is incredibly important to focus on your personal branding. Your brand is something that will get people to talk about you. It’s what inspires people to turn to you for the particular expertise that you offer. Your personal branding is how others view you, making a significant difference in the likelihood of job prospects or selling your products or services. This will look at the top 5 reasons why personal branding is so crucial to your success.

  1. Building an Audience

In a digital world, your audience will actually determine your value to other potential customers. For instance, imagine a popular YouTuber. A good YouTuber, one that has a solid fanbase, has a massive audience. This audience attracts new people to their audience. The same applies in the business world. People will see your value thanks to your personal branding, which means that they will be more likely to hire you or trust you to provide the quality products or services that they are looking for. Once you build an audience, you can leverage them to be more successful.

  1. Have a Competitive Edge

There is a lot of competition in the digital age, so having a strong personal brand can give you the competitive edge that you need to stand out. They want to trust someone who is an authority in their specific field. You get the credibility that you need that will make customers more likely to trust you to offer the solutions they are looking for. A strong personal branding makes you more valuable than your competition, who may not have as strong of a personal brand.

  1. Create Relationships

Connecting with other people is so important these days. You need to network and market yourself to be more attractive to prospects. Through personal branding, you can connect with other people. As you connect with people and form relationships, you can spend time nurturing these relationships. Through developing relationships and focusing on them, you create creating loyalty to your brand and increase the chances of people returning to you for your products and services.

  1. Better Networking Abilities

These days, networking is so important no matter what your industry is. If you have strong personal branding, you will be more likely to get invited to events that allow you to connect and network with others. These events can often be so important to being successful and climbing the career ladder.

  1. Better Opportunities

Probably most importantly, personal branding can unlock amazing opportunities for you. After you have created an audience, built up your authority in the industry, and formed relationships, you can start unlocking better opportunities. You can capitalize on your personal branding to get a better job, achieve your goals of being an influencer, or start getting more sales.

Personal branding is essential to helping you become more successful and advance your career. This is why it’s so important to focus on building a strong personal brand.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Find Out More About Helen Getts, The CEO Of Topfoxx

Growing up without any influence to have a strong business mindset, being an entrepreneur didn’t come as an idea to Helen Getts until at a much later time in her life. Raised by young parents who came from a communist country, it’s not something that was really on the table for her.

Growing up, she had to be independent, which was a great life lesson for her but which also lead her to struggle during her teenage years and eventually drop out of high school. But that hiccup in her life didn’t discourage Helen at all. She managed to get her act together – she got her GED (General Educational Development) and continued her studies at a 4-year Business University, where she received high academic achievement.

While in college, similar to most students, she took on several oddball jobs. These jobs eventually took a toll on Helen which in turn pushed her to find a better way to earn money – and that’s through selling products she loves online. After a period of time, she realized she didn’t want to just earn from this side hustle – she wanted to turn it into an actual full-time business. As a result, she ended up dropping everything else and she has been working on the e-commerce sphere now for the last 6 years.

In the first two years of being in business, Helen failed in all the things she tried, followed by three years of struggling to break even. It was only really this year that her company Topfoxx got a big break. As with many startups, she had an apartment-turned-stockroom with only four sunglasses designs to start. In a span of four years, Topfoxx has now grown into an all-female team of eight and carries over 70+ eyewear designs in styles and colours made to fit every unique personality. The Topfoxx brand has also built a community of over 260,000 followers (Boss Babes!) on Instagram alone and their designs are loved by top fashion and beauty influencers. Celebrities such as actress Brittany Snow, Kardashian’s make-up artist Hrush Acheyam, country singer Raelynn, and more have been spotted in their Topfoxx sunnies. You can also find Topfoxx on notable fashion publications such as InStyle, Elite Daily, Bustle, and more.

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

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

We are a company that goes beyond just selling eyewear – Topfoxx has become an online community of over 260,000. Our brand presence is strong because our message on women empowerment is strong. It resonates with our mostly-female audience, especially when we collaborate with women of confidence and inspiration. It’s also the ladies who share Topfoxx love with their community that aids in our brand’s growth. Even as we aim to inspire women, we actually get our inspiration from these women themselves. Supporting each other is part of our core and has helped our business grow with the community being with us every step of the way.

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

We engage a lot with our community on Instagram, which is where most of our audience are active users. Instagram is a visual and interactive platform, which is important for us as an eyewear company because we want to show how our frames are made to fit a diverse group of women.

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 make sure that our content is fun, fresh, and relevant to our community. Topfoxx is more than just a brand of sunglasses – with everything going on in the world, we want to be a daily dose of positivity for everyone out there.

Aside from engaging our audience with inspiration, we have only collaborated with influencers who share the same values as ours. Our only two collaboration collections were with individuals who give back and make an impact on their community like we do.

We know we can be very selective in who we work with because we want our partnerships to be intentional and in line with our mission to help in any way a startup business can. In this sense, we only needed to be true to our purpose to create the influence that we only hoped to achieve.

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

With the recent pandemic situation, we had to temporarily shut down our operations due to this. While we had the option to continue, the safety of our employees is a top priority. Of course, this had an impact on our day-to-day functions, most especially the timely delivery of our customers’ orders.

Eventually, as more safety measures were rolled out and we had more information on how to go about our new normal, we gradually set up a system where we can continue working without compromising our team’s health. Having the right perspective on the whole situation goes to show that we made the right decision before slowly restarting.

What new business would you love to start?

To be honest, it is not easy to build a business, let alone sustain it. At this point, I am very happy with how I’ve built Topfoxx, and to nurture this further is something I would love to do instead of starting a new one. But I do have some ideas in mind for the future; it’s not clear yet but I’ve been thinking about what I can contribute or create as an individual before I leave this earth that will be sustainable and will have a positive impact in the world. It doesn’t necessarily have to be a product—it could be a service, we will see.

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

As a business owner, I am very hands-on in almost every department. But one thing I would have done differently when I was starting is to learn how to delegate tasks. I enjoy being a part of each process, but it can be quite exhausting, especially wanting to do everything on my own at first to save up on overhead costs.

While old habits die hard and I still like to be involved in the nitty-gritty, I do have full trust in my team and I’m happy that each one has their own abilities/expertise that helps grow our brand. Each person is an asset and I value them for their unique contributions.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Don’t take things personally. When I started out, I would listen to every opinion—including criticisms— that came my way about my business and how I should be running it. Eventually, I learned to filter these and know when to heed advice. It’s important to be open to constructive suggestions and what others are saying, but you can’t let every word affect you. Someone will always have something to say, but no one knows your business as well as you do. What’s best will always be your decision.

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

Don’t be overindulgent when you start a business—get rid of all the frou-frou. It’s very tempting to go all-out: a prime office space, hiring a big team, getting upgrades, and living glamorously before the business has taken off can be a recipe for disaster. These add-ons can always come at a later time, but you need to focus on what’s important, which is to grow and sustain the business with your available resources. There’s nothing wrong with going big, but do make sure it doesn’t take the focus away from your main goal of sustaining what you have started.

Inside The Mind Of Lisa Wise: The CEO Of Flock DC

Lisa Wise is the CEO of Flock DC (Chief Flockster), a family of service companies with an innovative approach to real estate management and preservation.

Over the last 25 years, her professional experiences have all been anchored in empowering individuals as consumers, building stronger communities, and creating forward-thinking businesses. Growing up surrounded by love but short on resources, she sought security by building businesses from a young age, starting with her first enterprise, The Sherlock Holmes Detective Agency in her parents’ backyard shed.

In 2008 Lisa made a radical career change from the non-profit world to running a small boutique property management company. Today she owns a family of companies, employs over 50 people and her company manages 1.5 billion in residential real estate in Washington, DC. They do all of this while being a great place to work for and having a valuable role to play in contributing to the community. Her leadership style is about empathy, humility, and a fierce passion for justice. With her country amid a global pandemic, an economic crisis, and widespread protests for racial justice, she’s trying to step into this moment with bold and unapologetic leadership, personal sacrifices, and a commitment to caring for her team members and her community.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Lisa to discuss her journey as an entrepreneur and here’s what went down:

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

We are doing all we can to stay relevant, valued, and visible. We provide a residential rental management service. If a client or prospective client is looking for ways to trim monthly expenses – we’re low hanging fruit. But during COVID, we fine-tuned our systems, added new services, offered wellness checks for residents and virtual inspections, and maintenance. We’ve held town halls on the state of the industry, the economy, and the community every quarter. We’ve quadrupled our social media content, hosted fundraisers for front line workers, and volunteered our offices to be a “rest and recharge stop” during Black Lives Matter protests. We also launched a more aggressive ad campaign targeting clients that might want to switch management companies. This new business requires no physical interactions and people have more flexibility and bandwidth to make overdue changes to their management company.

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

We use all the channels but we use each one a bit differently. Our Insta presence is all about the gorgeous homes we’re marketing. Facebook is anchored in neighborhood and city news, politics, and more. It’s conversational but informational. And it’s NEVER about our industry. Because let’s face it – property management sounds dull as hell.

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

Paid advertising is easier to track in real-time with Facebook/Insta or Twitter. When we run ads on popular blogs, it can take weeks to get performance metrics. I suspect we break even when doing a cost-benefit analysis – but we’re also building more visibility for our brands which can’t be quantified as easily. Typically – the advertising spend for us is less attractive than supporting organizations that can fall in love with our values and become clients or residents down the line.

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 want everything about our brand to be attractive. From stylish language to stylish intriguing logos to stylish spaces. We’re compelling people to tie themselves to our family of companies. It’s a stretch goal for a property management company to act like and deliver a lifestyle experience, but that’s just what we’ve managed to do. From sponsoring large-scale public murals with the iconic Ruth Bader Ginsberg – to hosting fundraising events for grassroots non-profits – we do everything with purpose and authenticity. It keeps our clients engaged and our residents anchored.

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

We find the most impactful marketing dollar we spend isn’t marketing spend at all. Instead, we’ve built a philanthropy division that supports local organizations, artists, and endeavors that add value to our community. We’ll sponsor events, promote programs, volunteer time, space and resources as early and as often as we can. These philanthropic partnerships and activities increase our visibility and underscore the value of our purpose-driven mission as a company.

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

Furloughs. To keep my field team safe, honor public health, and stay solvent, we needed to furlough seven team members. Even though we offered each a soft and supportive landing, it was a heartbreaking decision.

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

We needed a larger reserve. We’ve prioritized profit sharing and investments in capital assets over building a substantial cash reserve. The contractual nature of the business insulates us from starvation – but not from the hunger that COVID generated. We’ve made massive spending/expense adjustments and we’re trending toward the safety net any future coronacoaster might lean on.

What new business would you love to start?

I dream of bringing skilled tradespeople into urban areas without necessitating people move or adjust to the higher cost of living in cities like DC. We can host exceptional co-living spaces and offer rotating schedules for in-residence technicians. They can work 3 weeks on 2 weeks off or other novel rotations that give them DC salaries without DC cost of living and lifestyle. I would also like to pair this program with an apprentice opportunity for returning citizens, young people eager to learn trades, and more. Not everyone is college-bound, but that shouldn’t limit opportunities and the chance to build wealth.

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

I don’t think I made any mistake that wasn’t worth it in the long run.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

I had a mentor who reminded me that you can have 100 conversations that seem fruitless. Then, over time, each of those connections will start to blossom somehow. I’ve gotten calls back from folks I met with a decade ago. When pitching or promoting anything you are passionate about, there is never a wasted moment.

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

Enjoy the early adrenaline rush. Don’t throw others under the bus. Don’t be afraid to say no. Wear your values on your sleeve.

The Five C’s of Successful Home Loans

Acquiring home loans is neither a walk in the park or a show of far-fetched wish-granting shooting star. It is a reality that can build anyone’s dreams given the right requirement and financial ability. While many have been declined for home loans, the chances of having one approved can be increased. It is something that you work for while anchored by a strong financial record and history.

Do you have what it takes to be granted a successful home loan?

Let’s lay out the Five C’s where lenders’ decisions are hinged to when it comes to approving home loans.

CHARACTER

When talking about home loans or any other type of mortgages, your character is your credit history. It is a large factor that determines your eligibility for a home loan or your application will be pushed aside to the nearest trash bin. Your credit history details your reputation in matters of handling previous loans. Most financial institutions also use credit score which is a numeric value that spells your credit standing which will help future lenders assess risk when dealing with you. The higher the credit score, the less risk involved.

CAPITAL

While you may depend on your household income that basically will be the major source of your monthly repayments, financial institutions also look at some other things just in case unforeseen events or setbacks arise. This capital includes your savings account, property investments, and other assets that characterise value that can help you bridge through your loans.

COLLATERAL

They say that the higher collateral value, the better it works for your advantage. Collateral can be anything of value like a home or auto that will secure the lender if in case you default on your loan repayments. Your pledged collateral will be assessed and evaluated. The result of this plays a vital role in the lender’s decision-making process.

CAPACITY

Have you started calculating your debt-to-income ratio? The comparison between your newly acquired debts and taxable income speaks volumes about the home loan process. You will go through a meticulous credit investigation to assess your capacity to pay and manage loans. Your financial stability will be dissected and your employment history will be studied.

CONDITIONS

Do you agree with the interest rates stated? How about the repayment plans? Perhaps, the most frequently asked questions when applying for a loan is what do you need a loan for. The purpose of your loan application is also one of the determining factors that will help financial institutions decide in your favour.

Getting ready to apply? Find the right lender and be prepared to answer their queries.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Introducing Annie Liao Jones – The CEO Of Rock Candy Media

Annie Liao Jones is the founder and CEO of Rock Candy Media, an advertising & marketing agency that is based in Austin, Texas – it has become one of the fastest-growing businesses in Central Texas. Under Annie’s leadership, the full-service content strategy, design, messaging, branding firm, and growth agency went from the ground up to grossing over seven figures a year.

MoneyCentral Magazine recently caught up with Annie 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? How did you choose the name Rock Candy Media?

I was born in Dallas, Texas but my parents were born in Taiwan and that makes me a dual-citizen of the world. I also lived in Taiwan while my parents finished college in the US from the ages of 1-3. That lead to the company name. I knew I was going to do things my own way from a young age, where I just didn’t think about other options. So instead of dreaming up jobs, because I didn’t dream about the white picket fence either, I dreamed of types of companies. Taiwanese desserts are entirely different because there is only a hint of sweet, and it’s because all the desserts are made from pure sugar which I called ‘rock candy’ as a kid. So it was going to be Rock Candy something. I’m glad it wasn’t Rock Candy Mountain, which apparently is a thing for a lot of people. I have issues with things that just should not be loud, especially if you think we sent someone to the moon: I have an aversion to leaf blowers and motorcycles, but I guess the latter says more about the person and the former is existential – don’t the leaves just come back?

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

By stalking people at Highland Mall in Dallas to see what they bought. I learned a lot about life doing that, and you think I’m joking. And I started working at the mall when I was 16 at a fashion-forward teen girl wear boutique named Judy’s, which is now called Rampage. I imagined I would be much more successful than I am actually. All I want is to wear PJ’s on MY PJ and I’ll call it a day. Oh, and real silk or cashmere ones.

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

I am pickier about who I vet because I can have the best of both worlds: I learn from clients smarter than me in their respective areas, have the time to streamline operations as my focus is solely on my reputation and the work we put out — I’m past the high number of employees and lack of control, it just isn’t me. Acute anxiety does not look good on me. And if I continue hiring smarter people, I’ll evolve as a human and get to that PJ lifestyle faster than you know it.

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

That is a mixed bag because there is visibility and then there is engagement and then there is sharing.

Visibility: I don’t care about the number of eyeballs, so the number of impressions in media land does not impress me. I care about the quality of those eyeballs and if they have a high word of mouth factor. So when working with a corporation who is starting a new division or who’s division is basically a start-up, I’d go for say CTO’s if it’s data security but I’ll make sure they are CTO’s in an alumni association, golf club, or country club as visibility only counts if your brand build is memorable. Ours is and I know because people will start to type in the company name into google instead of doing a google search.

Engagement: Many social media managers promote a post to get 20 likes but they never realize that they never had to like your page. Now that’s just foolish. And ‘like’ ads are $7 a pop easy. So put out quality content that will get you ranked AND people will want to read and they’ll opt-in on their own. Then you can pay for clicks at a much cheaper rate.

Shares: When is the last time you shared a post? I deem shares from our highly segmented audience builds (for example, the CTO will be segmented by 25-34 and then 45-64) the most quality, and any clicks that come from someone watching a full video (95% or more) to be qualified as a share. That is retargeting gold. So while clicks on Instagram Stories may be harder to get, I prefer that. If it is a CTO, I’d say a Facebook share. That means your content, your brand campaign, is something he is proud to represent and it resonates with him, or he learned from one of your client’s articles that your media relations lead worked his butt off to land.

Does paid advertising work?

It does when it makes sense and when it’s unique. For example, in addition to the usual PPC, if a million people are going to be at a tradeshow the client has always gone to and it’s a ‘must’, then I’ll make sure everyone attending at the respective hotels has a gift in their bag from said client and it’s such a rare ask that I have the negotiation down pat. In terms of sponsored content, earned media is much better.

What is your main tactic to make sure Rock Candy Media stands out?

Stay five years ahead. Don’t study your own industry trends; I never read those because I have to emote things. I read memoirs, I read client industry trends as the start-ups that make it, especially today when the landscape changes at five times the speed in one calendar year alone. I also like to remind myself and clients to never think you are infallible. I admire the head of GoPro and how he said early success can make you more prone to fail later. That stuck with me. We were in danger one time as a company and I literally just emailed our Managing Partner to change out an industry page background to a different image to test it out, and every month we review the most engaging content and go with who we targeted, and what resonated with them, to change out a client’s site. A website should never be ‘done’. It should evolve with you. It is your calling card, your reputation, what you stand for whether you like it or not. You should like it because you have control over it. I think the attitude founders have that never separated themselves from what they love to do is to try to make sure they can remain independent of any channel as possible. And that is the power of branding. For hospitality the enemy isn’t another hotel, the true enemy is a hotel booking site who is taking 30% of each head in each bed.

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

We only know one model: direct marketing of the digital kind. We have never been just in one industry. We started heavily b2b, had big years in e-comm and I always wanted a mix of both because we grow them where they are now as a hybrid of both. Direct to consumer is the same concept when applied to business that is a product, service, or distribution.

How does Rock Candy Media stand out from the rest of the other agencies out there in your niche?

I just keep my head down and give a lot of sh*t. So I try to hire for the self-taught (they have less of a fear of the unknown and will get their hands dirty to figure things out on their own) and not look at the competitors. My focus has always been on what I would want if I were a client from an agency. And I respect our clients – some of them can afford me when I couldn’t in the life cycle of my business, but all of them share one thing: We are an investment and they have to know we value their time and will always ask why they made a decision because success lies in collaboration. If it is important to them, it’s damn important to me.

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

To let go of a lot more pieces of the pie I have no control over.

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

The one I try to block out is that in my first year I made so much that I got punished for not forming an LLC to the tune of $20K in taxes. I hope my then CFO does not read this.

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

Just be yourself, and the respect you want will give you the most satisfaction. The second you start caring what other people think is the second you become a commodity.

What new business would you love to start?

Well, you are going to find out soon ladies and gentlemen. This lady knows how to keep secrets believe it or not. Also, if I could live another life it would be floral arrangements. Or someone who makes perfumes all day. All my memories are scent-driven.

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?

This sounds really stupid, but I had a peer/mentor who said, “Annie you run so deep you do not do yourself justice in meetings dressing so casually.” At first, I was pissed but then I clarified with him that it was about respect. When I show up, my style is all my own and I am very much about textiles and “the closet overfloweth” as that is how I show to the world what mood I am that day. It’s art you can wear each day. I needed to ‘show up’ with some respect to client meetings and it took a lot of balls to tell me that and I’m pretty sure it backed up what I was saying with more authority. It sounds silly but it was a game-changer.

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

No, but there are profiles of founders by the best journalists and writers out there in Wired, Vanity Fair, and Esquire. For personal development, I learn from the words of the authors who have lived BIG, so I am huge into memoirs and seeing through another’s’ lens. I read all the time, 24-7, and usually have three books going at once. Right now I just have two: Val Kilmer’s memoir and a book Obama recommended called “Maid” that is changing my mind on what it means to be poor in America.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

To wear nice clothes in my closet with tags still on them. They not only disgusted me but they helped me with showing up, as mentioned earlier.

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

Do it before you accumulate ‘stuff’ and ‘big things’. Do it when you have nothing to lose and never stop making fun of yourself. Stay humble or you won’t learn sh*t. Surround yourself with smarter people. Be wary of ‘yes’ people, but keep the ones that support you and know you around as well. And with success comes haters, and I wish I could prepare you for that but it ties into not giving a f*ck what others think or else you’ll fail. Don’t let people you don’t know bring you down.

Tell us about your fashion style as an executive?

Definitely polished with an edge. I like good tailoring and solids but I like one thing to be a little ‘off” whether it’s my shoe color or earrings. And my Managing Partner & Art Director, Kelsie Singleton always compliments the most expensive thing I’m wearing – it is a true talent I’m telling you.

We hear you might have one of the biggest shoe collections in Texas, and your coworkers call you the “Imelda Marcos of Category Marketing” how do you store and keep track of all those shoes?

If guys have a man cave, well girls should be able to shop their own shoes damn it! I think the Bang & Olufsen television sound systems and plasma TV’s equal out to the same anyways.

4 Affiliate Marketing Tips for Beginners

Starting your own business can be an overwhelming experience. However, we now live in a world where building a business doesn’t need to be so overwhelming anymore. If you’re looking for a much simpler way to start your own business but with very little capital needed, then you should definitely consider affiliate marketing. Basically, this is where you promote other people’s products and services and in return, you earn a commission from helping out. You just need to find a product you want to endorse, promote it to other people, and you can earn money for every sale that you make. Since there are plenty of affiliate products and services available today, you need to find a unique product or service to promote. Just remember that your desire and determination to succeed are also equally important if you want to succeed as an affiliate marketer in the long run.

Find High-Quality Products

You need to choose high-quality products or services if you want to become successful as an affiliate marketer. If what you’re promoting is of high quality; then chances are, the customer support and supply chain process of the company you are promoting are also of high quality which will give you credibility as a marketer.

Choose Something You’ll Get Value From

You should always choose a product or service that you can see yourself using or getting value from. It should be an extension of you. The program you are affiliated with should offer value for all your efforts. You should also look for a program that provides valuable free gifts. Remember that online reviews and feedback can make or break your business. Once customers get free gifts, they will no doubt be impressed and give you great reviews in return.

Look for a Niche Market with Big Problems to be Solved

You should always look for a niche market with significant problems to be solved and provide a quality solution to these issues. If you are able to fix a problem, especially the big ones, you will gain the trust of your customers and that is no doubt a big plus for your business.

Variety of Products

Look for an affiliate program that offers a wide range of products so that you can encourage your customers to keep coming back for more. Variety helps build a solid fanbase, which is definitely good for business. For instance, if the affiliate program is offering ebooks that discuss weight loss, it is also a good thing if it provides supplements and exercise equipment. So, you should pick an affiliate program that offers a wide range of products so that your customers will also most likely recommend you to their friends and colleagues.

One of the best benefits of affiliate marketing is that you can promote as many affiliate programs as you want. This means that your earning potential is big as well. Some people give up their 9-5 job to focus on their online business. Another benefit of affiliate marketing is that you don’t need to leave your home just to promote a product or service. Even if you are in your pajamas, you can still work and sell online because you can promote the program on your website or social networking sites. Some affiliate programs even provide their affiliates with a website where they can promote the products or services.