Startup Roundup September 6th, 2015

Startup Roundup August 30th 2015

Baltimore Startup Spotlight: Loople

How many times have you had an idea and thought this would make a great app? It seems so easy, but then you think, how do you even begin to start building an app? Along with most of the population, Ryan Gutleber, Phil DiMuro, and I had no idea.

While attending college together, we spent countless late nights brainstorming about “the next big idea.” With no experience in developing an app or building a business, we had to use every resource to our advantage. Whether it was watching countless hours of YouTube tutorials or reading thousands of pages of testimonials, we taught ourselves what it would take to make our dreams of entrepreneurship a reality.

After graduation, we dove into Corporate America working in fields, such as sales, finance, and construction engineering. However, we did not let this stop us from starting Loople. While maintaining full-time jobs, we created the idea, developed a logo, built a business plans, found investors, finalized the LLC, trademarked the idea, created the marketing strategies, and managed development for a year and a half before launching Loople. Finally, we realized we had to devote all of our time and energy in order to make this business a success. We decided to take the ultimate risk. We left great paying jobs, security, and steady career path in hopes to create something bigger then ourselves.

Fast forward two years and we launched Loople in Baltimore in June of 2015.  Loople is a free GPS based mobile application that allows users to search for current bar and restaurant specials around them at any time of the day.  Also, it allows bars and restaurants the opportunity to market their product to the users and highlight the deals they run on a daily basis. Our goal is to simplify your social life and help you explore everything your city has to offer. 

Currently, Loople is only located in Baltimore, MD and 30 miles outside of the city. We plan to grow locally and plan to grow our business from this city.

We plan to strategically expand into new cities when we have perfected our system. In a month and a half, we have 3,500 users, but we are not satisfied. We need to show the Baltimore market the advantages of using Loople.

We plan to form local partnerships and host a series of events and promotions over the next few months to increase our user base. We have received 4.83 out of 5 in both the apple and android app stores. The product is there, we just need to sell it!

Over the past two years, there have been many bumps in the road. However, all of these experiences have helped us learn and grow. Loople has successfully launched and has plans to successfully grow in the future. We are extremely excited to see what the future holds for us. With our team at Loople, we know that our tireless effort, drive, and vision will make Loople a huge success.

For more information visit Loople's website here

This was a guest blog written by Dave Phelan and Phil Dimuro of Loople Mobile LLC


Startup Roundup August 16th 2015

Startup Roundup August 9th, 2015

Startup Roundup August 2nd, 2015

Confessions of an Event Planner: The Power of a Post It.

For those of you that don’t me, I’m an event planner. 

At times, the role of event planner gets a negative connotation. We often get, “Oh, you’re a party planner” or “Oh my, I would NEVER want your job” or the worst, “Geez, your job is so hard, you get to travel, check out awesome venues, seek out the hottest entertainment, make things pretty and have fun all the time”.

Well, my latest blog series lives to show the world, that yes my job is awesome, but it’s also extremely hard, physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and the ultimate test of strategic thinking, problem solving, and remaining calm under pressure. These stories are true, honest and pretty comical.  Enjoy.

The first of these stories, The Power of a Post It, took place earlier this month.

It was an extremely HOT weekend in Maryland. Intrinsic Events had just come off a Friday night wedding in Washington, D.C. and it was on to Round 2 of the weekend. A beautiful wedding in the Fells Point neighborhood of Baltimore, MD.  We had spent months getting to know this amazing couple, reviewed every detail, secured an amazing line up of vendors, walked through the timeline over and over again, and at one point, my business partner and I looked at each other and said, “This one’s gonna be a piece of cake.”  I spoke too soon.

Rule #1 in Event Planning: Nothing is ever a piece of cake. The moment you let yourself think that, that’s the moment when the unpredictable happens.

Let’s rewind to a few hours earlier that day. The wedding was supposed to begin at 4:30 p.m. and around noon, it was requested that we have the valet company arrive early. Sure, no problem. We pulled out our phones and called the Valet. And called, and called, and left messages, and sent emails, and sent texts, and called, and called again. What the heck? Why was no one answering? Our event was in 4 hours.

Ok, so no big deal, worse comes to worse, they won’t arrive early but they will arrive at their normally scheduled time of 4:00 p.m.

Wrong.

4:00 p.m. came and went with no valet in sight. Guests began to arrive, photographs were being taken, my business partner was on bridal party duty and I was supposed to make sure all other logistics were running like clockwork. That included the valet.

I had the moment of “Oh Sh*t, what do I do? The valet situation was a hot button for our clients, it was NOT going to be Ok if this became an issue.

Think Jessica, Think. So I did what any event planner would do and began to assess my surroundings and my resources. Sorry, I admit, there was no PLAN B back up for the valet not showing up. For a summertime wedding, Rain and heat exhaustion were my biggest concerns.

I immediately looked around and realized OK, well I have a parking lot. Then I thought, “Could I park these cars myself?” – Wait, no way. I’m not exactly the world’s greatest driver and the last thing I need is to be sued by a guest.  

Rule #2 in Event Planning: Never sacrifice yourself or your business liability to please a customer. A lawsuit is never a successful resolution.

Ok, what next? I realized I didn’t need to be a valet, I just needed to stall until the REAL valet decided to show up.  I also needed to make sure the guests were happy, made it to the ceremony on time, and believe that my Plan B was really Plan A.

So, I looked in my purse and found a stack of blue post-its.  LIGHTBULB!

I immediately had a plan.  I’ve seen hundreds of valet companies in action and I certainly was no beginner when it came to creating processes and efficiencies. I would simply create my own valet system with a pen, some post its, a legal pad, and an amazingly good photographic memory.

I told myself, I got this. But first, I had to make friends with the parking attendant for the lot so she didn’t let the guests driving in suspect any shady business. I walked up to her, introduced myself, asked questions about her and her life, then… told her my #WeddingPlannerProblems. She got it, she felt bad, and she immediately became my ally in this mission.  

Rule #3 in Event Planning: Be nice and kind to everyone you meet because you never know when you may need their help.

The first car pulled up, here we go. They were greeted by the attendant, she directed them my way, and I directed them to their parking spot, wrote the #1 on a post it, took notes of year, make and model for car #1, handed them the post it with a smile and a welcome, took their keys and sent them on their way.

And it continued, for 25 cars and 30 minutes, in 100 degree heat, in a black dress and heels, in the middle of a parking lot in Baltimore.  And yes, I did get some strange looks and maybe a little skepticism but no one said a word. They believed me and my process. They were happy because I was friendly and efficient and at the end of the day, all they wanted to do was park their car.

The “real” valet eventually showed up and the parking attendants and I had some fierce conversations. But you know what, it’s not their fault, it’s their boss and I knew that. We talked out how to remedy the situation and everyone left the wedding happy, with their cars in one piece.

And to this day, our Clients never knew there was an issue. I’m sure one day over cocktails, we will tell them the truth and have a great laugh about it all, but for now, it’s our little secret.  All because of the power of a post – it. 

Thank you Romy & Michelle for the invention. I will never go anywhere from now on without post-its in my purse.

Rule # 4 in Event Planning: Nothing is ever as it seems and you can’t stop the earth from rotating.

Life happens and issues arise. It’s a fact that events are stressful and unpredictable obstacles are going to be thrown our way. Yet, the real professional is one who can act quick, develop a workable solution, have confidence in their plan and who can ALWAYS project a fresh, happy-go-lucky aura to all those around them.

The truth is, whether you believe it or not, someone is always watching you. Looking frantic, nervous, tired, and stressed is not an option in our world if you want to be successful.  Crying, pointing fingers, and placing blame is also not an option because it does no one any good. It can ruin events, ruin your reputation, and usually never leads to repeat business.

A large part of an event planners job is to assess situations, maximize your resources, build relationships, prevent crisis, and maintain a (smiling) poker face at all times. It’s not an easy job, but someone has to do it. And I can honestly say, I’m so happy for myself, my business partner, my team, and my clients, that I am the lucky one who has decided to take on the challenge.

Stay tuned for more of my Confessions.  

FOLLOW my business @EventsIntrinsic 

Startup Sunday Round Up - July 26th

Startup Sunday Round Up

Every Sunday, we bring you the most recent developments in the Baltimore start up community. 



We're looking for Guest Bloggers! 
The Startup Soirée blog is a great way to share you story with other founder! 
Please email info@startup-soiree.com with your entry (less than 500 words)




All Fired Up: A Love Letter to the Future Me!

All Fired Up: A Love Letter to the Future Me!

Patrick Rife Startup Soirée

Closing in on personal potential

I'm so stoked! There's little else to say. I'm so fucking stoked! Life hasn't always been this way. It took some getting there to get here. It took some furrowed brows; some glares in the mirror. Sometimes sober, sometimes not. But I got here, and I'm so fucking stoked!

I'm writing this letter to future me so I won't run the risk of forgetting what it felt like when I finally arrived. (or I was past me?) I'm happy to say I hold myself to high expectations. I've always wanted and strived for something just beyond my reach. It's not that I wasn't grateful for everything I had so much as truly knowing what my core potential is. And more importantly when I'm underserving it.

Some of the lowest points in my life have been the moments when I've stared at myself, bleary eyed and wondering how all of the potential I saw in myself shown so dimly to the rest of the world. It was an overwhelming feeling and one that I didn't think would shake free. I didn't know if I'd shake free.

I must confess, it took a few maneuvers and the right cast of characters to help me re-find the path. There's no arguing with the power of the right support coupled with awesome resources but I have to be honest when I say the magic had been there all along; I just gave it too much shit so it stopped fucking with me. I can't say I blamed it.

The thing is, I'd always been confident. Then I lost the path. Lost the nerve. Lost my swerve. I think for whatever reason my understanding that I could own 100% of my shit wasn't on lock. It was at like 60% and dipping. So I second guessed myself. Tail spin ensued. Smoke. S.O.S. and whatnot. 

Why all of this detail you ask? I get it, it's a little verbose but..... I want to splash it out in fuchsia paint so you can feel the depth because understanding that makes the light so much brighter, the air so much warmer. Confidence is a beautiful thing. Everyone should have it, and everyone should share it. If it weren't for the positive that lifted me up I can't say where I'd be. But I'm here, and so are you, so let's pay it out in buckets. 

The community of Baltimore has been through a lot these last few months, years, decades..... I think it's time we start taking things back. Lifting each other up. Setting the confidence in this city in the right direction. Carrying ourselves with intention. Channeling our energies with purpose. 

That's what I'll be doing anyway. If you need a hand or a chat let me know. If you want some positive light, I got you. Let's get coffee. Let's exchange stories. I can't wait for tomorrow.

Get in touch with me on Twitter and Instagram @PatrickRife!

Startup On A Shoestring E-Book

The Startup on a Shoestring E-Book

A young entrepreneur’s firsthand advice on bootstrapping your business

The entirety of Nic China's Startup on a Shoestring Series is now available as a FREE E-Book. 

DOWNLOAD YOUR FREE E-BOOK BELOW

Action vs Inaction: Conclusions

I started the Action vs Inaction column in January of this year as a vehicle to finally force my hand in the blogging arena. I had always wanted to write something on a regular basis but had never really had the need or POV. 

With this column I found an angle through which I could make fun of myself in an effort to bridge the gap until my confidence showed up. I used my wit and a few well played eye-winks to get through the dip. I'm proud to say I think it worked. I've been publishing work on a few different blogs and I've gained a few people who enjoy reading. Valhalla.

All of that said, anytime you establish a framework for carrying out a content creation process, you risk at some point having the work that framework produces becoming drole and lackluster. It's a bit of a bummer but it's also really great too! 

Why you ask? Because your writing needs to grow as much as you do. I'm trying to ingrain a commitment to keeping myself agile; keeping my mind and skills ready to shift their focus. I want to be able to adapt. To thrive. You know?

So with that said, I'm shuttering this jam. As of now, and I can and will always go back on my word, (at least in my own column, not in business; in business I am forthright and Reliable) I am putting the Action vs. Inaction series to bed in an effort to commit to the next chapter in my Startup Soirée writing. 

I'm excited to leverage some new ideas and perspectives that didn't fit well under the Action vs Inaction framework. I want to write pieces that come from the point of community. I want to highlight my city. I want to move the conversation out of my head. I want to write more stuff you want to read! This is going to be amazing. 

I hope to hear more from all of you. Let me know what you'd like to read more of in the comments below. I'll write back! Also, you can find me reigning in light on Twitter @PatrickRife! 

RECHARGE BEFORE YOU BURNOUT: A CRUCIAL PRACTICE FOR ALL ENTREPRENEURS

RECHARGE BEFORE YOU BURNOUT: A CRUCIAL PRACTICE FOR ALL ENTREPRENEURS

Seven-day workweeks, unpredictable work hours, business development constantly on the mind, and little to no personal time are just a few things every entrepreneur becomes very accustom to while enduring the hustle of starting and growing a business. 

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. Things every Human (especially Entrepreneurs) should do every day.

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff. Things every Human (especially Entrepreneurs) should do every day.

We all know there are certain actions, habits, and behaviors that we should be doing each day to be a successful entrepreneur. I’ve read countless blogs, listened to hundreds of podcasts, and observed my mentors on the subject.  I know that to be a successful and productive entrepreneur, I should be and need to be reading one great business book a month, exercise daily, drink water, wake up before 6 am, check emails before 7 am, eat healthy, find a mentor, plan your day, set goals, save money….and I completely agree with every single TO DO.

The Baltimore Startup 5: Volume III

The Need-To-Know Startups In Charm City

Back for round three of The Baltimore Startup 5.

Every few weeks, I’m giving you a bit of my perspective on who’s doing innovative & groundbreaking stuff in the Baltimore startup world.

The Startup 5 consists of 5 amazing young Baltimore area businesses that you should know about, if you don’t already.

So here goes, the third group of companies that made the cut in The Baltimore Startup 5.

REV CYCLE STUDIO

In just a few short years, Co-Founders Esther Collinetti and Rick Zambrano have turned Baltimore's first cycle studio into so much more than a fitness hub. REV is a community. 

I recently had the opportunity to get to know Esther through a mutual friend who mentioned that she was someone I NEEDED to meet in the Baltimore Fitness Startup Community. Esther blew me away--her drive and passion for her business and the culture she has created around it emanates from her. 

REV's mission reads: "REV Cycle Studio will inspire courage and help others build healthier and happier lives by providing the best indoor cycling experience in the world. We believe fitness is love made visible."

After experiencing the Friday 6AM class with Esther first hand, I can attest that REV Cycle Studio is holding to their mission. I was pushed beyond my physical limits by an incredible leader who was able to create a bond between every cyclist in the room. The core of this business is at the core of its product.

 Think you can handle it? Sign up for your first class!

Check out our podcast with Esther.

 

JAILBREAK BREWING COMPANY

As the wave of craft beer popularity continues to build, Jailbreak has come out of nowhere and in just 2 short years has built a beautiful facility and launched several popular (and a few awesomely creative) craft beers.

Co-Founders Justin Bonner and Kasey Turner were our gracious beer sponsors for the February Startup Soiree event...the night I was introduced to their Double IPA, aptly named "Big Punisher". I can proudly say I have been "Big Punished" (drunk off Big Punisher) several times since that night.

All jokes aside, these guys are on to something. They are growing rapidly and they've found a nice niche with their 150 person capacity in-house Taproom. Even better, all the local food trucks flock to them...so be sure to check them out. They're just a short drive from Baltimore, located in Laurel, MD.

This says it all: "Jailbreak is a freedom expression. Beginning in 2013 and becoming fully operational in 2014, our artfully crafted beer is meant to be an escape from whatever drama is present in your life. We are made up of professionals from various industries all brought together by the common desire to make something different and do something with our lives that has more purpose."

I can get on board with that.


Make Tribe

MAKE TRIBE founder Jessica D'Argenio Waller has found great success in bringing makers and creatives together by hosting a series of workshops where craft and conversation collide.

Jess has given MAKE TRIBE a voice, aligning with some of Baltimore's most refined brands and attracting a very cultured client base -- or should I say fan base! These expert-led skill sessions have ranged from topics such as bitters making to floral arranging to butchery to bookbinding!

This "maker movement" is growing fast, so get on board! The upcoming workshop on 5/28/15 featuring Michelle of Make/Do will teach the basics of pantry beauty: making simple and natural skincare products in your kitchen. Mix up coffee scrubs, oatmeal masks and learn more about making do with what you've got. 

Join the Tribe...check out the next MAKE TRIBE event.

And be sure to give our podcast with Jess a listen!

 

CHRISTOPHER SCHAFER CLOTHIER

Over the past couple years I've had the pleasure of getting to know Chris Schafer, founder of Christopher Schafer Clothier, and Seth Schafer, his son and partner in crime. 

Tailors by day, musicians and skaters by night, these two dudes have carved out a serious niche. With just a small team of two and a super-loyal client base, Christopher Schafer Clothier specializes in capitalizing on relationships. Their old school mentality coupled with their new school approach will continue to drive their success.

When I first met the Schafers, their team was larger, but less focused and without a common goal. Since trimming their team down to just family, their company has really taken off and they don't show any signs of slowing down. 

I rarely wear a suit, but I can proudly say that I sport a custom CSC suit whenever I need to step my game up.

These are the best custom suits in Baltimore. 


HERSH'S PIZZA & DRINKS

Hersh's co-founders, Josh and Stephanie Hershkovitz describe themselves as "a couple of pizza-loving piglet siblings who love to feed people and liquor ‘em up as much as we love to eat and drink ourselves."

After getting to meet Stephanie, I can say that her I'm-not-afraid-to-fail attitude along with Josh's culinary wizardry is what drives this hip South Baltimore spot to always stay ahead of the curve. They stick to their guns. They're authentic. The look and feel of the restaurant is cozy and inviting. A great place to get drunk and laugh.

Like the others on this list, Hersh's has built a powerful brand in a short amount of time. It's been great to see it become a household name in SoBo. The local food scene could use more place like this, places that aren't just about the image or the location or the money, but focus on the most important things, like people, pizza and drinks!

 

I love you Charm City.

Follow Nicolas China on Twitter @Nico_C7.

Nic is co-founder and owner of Pixilated (@PixilatedPhoto) &Startup Soiree (@StartupSoiree).

 

5 Questions with Mary Gardella of 'Elle Photography

5 Questions with Mary Gardella of 'Elle Photography

Mary Gardella is May's Photography Sponsor and will be capturing Startup Soirée on Thursday, May 28th.

1. How did you get your start in photography?

It actually found me in college.  I took a photography class on a whim, the next thing I know I was Photo Editor of The Towerlight, Towson University’s paper.  What I was drawn to was the camera’s ability to help me tell stories of real life, real people, real events - to the get to the soul of community.  I knew then that photojournalism would be the first path I took with my camera.

I found myself in freelance & staff positions on daily newspapers all over the country. Like any path, there are twists and turns.  I found myself in 2004 taking a path towards entrepreneurship. And in 2005 I opened a photography studio, becoming co-creator/co-owner of the very successful Love Life Images, Inc. We used the heart & soul of photojournalism to tell wedding & family life stories.

It was an amazing experience to learn how to grow a business, be a boss, have employees, and work with a partner. It was my baby for 7 years.  I became a Solo-preneur recently with new a vision & most importantly, a new purpose - empowering women through portraiture.  This is something very close to my heart where the stars aligned at the right time and place for me and my business.

2. Do you have any advice for photographers who want to start their own business?

I could write a novel on this subject!  The best advice I could give you is to educate yourself on the steps it takes to start a business. Being the creatives we are, we don’t necessarily like to use right side of our brain. :) Surround yourself with people who are knowledgable on each step. Be willing to invest.

The worst mistake I made was to wake up one day and say “hey, I’m going to just start a business!” and then try to open up shop 24 hours later.  I had no business plan and no idea what I was getting myself into. I spent a ton of time back peddling, wasting time, money & energy.  

And don’t try to be an everyman photographer.  Find your niche within the genre, spend time perfecting it and become an expert.  It’s important to note that photography is an over-saturated market, we are competing with cell phones & the instantaneous world of social media. There’s been a huge shift in the market these past couple of years.  When I’ve sensed the shift is when I made changes.  Gotta go with the flow!

3. How would you describe your aesthetic?

My aesthetic has always been, will always be about capturing the beauty of truth - inside & out.

4. What's your spirit animal and why?

My spirit animal are cats, in particular my cat I had from college until just a few years ago - Catfish Jones - who lived until he was 22 years old (105 human years).  Why? He was kind, gentle, intuitive, sensible & beautiful from the inside.  

He understood love & commitment. Everyone and anyone who ever came in contact with him - even non cat lovers - was genuinely drawn to him.  He made you smile and feel grounded.  Good traits any human should live by.

5. Are you working on any photo projects or exhibitions right now? 

Yes I am!  I’m really excited about this project - it’s just getting under way and will be an ongoing project featured on my blog.  My goal for “In The Bedroom”, is to empower women and encourage them to be the best versions of themselves through a series of short and sweet interviews with empowered women. These are women who have been able to break down barriers to create their own personal successes. 

Why In The Bedroom? I want to photograph them in the place we let our guard down, kick off our shoes and dream big. I want the readers to connect with my empowered women on a more personal level, in a relatable way - woman to woman.   I’ll ask a series of questions pertaining to their empowered life and then ask them to nominate a women they feel lives an empowered life.  

Congratulations, Graduate! Now What?

SPRING HAS SPRUNG

May is one of my favorite times of year, especially here in Maryland. The weather is at its absolute best; there are tons of things to do outside (i.e. festivals, boating, baseball games). Schools are hosting their proms and college grads are gearing up to jump into the real world for the first time. The energy is contagious and I love it.

I can’t help but think of how I felt as a college graduate back in 2008. I was excited, nervous, scared and eager to figure out my life all at the same time. I didn’t know exactly what that life was going to look like but I was excited to figure it out.

FUTURE ENTREPRENEURS OF AMERICA

My business partner and I recently spoke to a group of students at our Alma Mater Towson University about the series of steps and events that led to us running our own business. They students were so interested in what led to what and many of them were also interested in becoming entrepreneurs.

The truth is when I graduated from college I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I knew I loved people, planning events, marketing and sales. I knew I wanted a position or job that I was proud of. But how was I going to accomplish that?

University does a great job preparing us for the real world for the most part. We learn the educational and social skills required to get out there and function as adults. What University does not prepare us for is life because life is uncertain and unpredictable. We control our own destiny for the most part and I wish someone had told me that you don’t need your 5, 10, 20, 30-year plan locked down as soon as you were handed that diploma.

Here are some things I wish someone had shared with me as a newly graduated college student.

1. COME UP WITH A PLAN, BUT UNDERSTAND IT WILL CHANGE…A LOT

It’s important to set goals for yourself as soon as you graduate from University. There isn’t a right or wrong thing to do when you are fresh member of the real world, but it’s good to try a few things and see what you like.

When I graduated I made the decision to move back home for the summer, work in a restaurant and save as much money as I could. Once the summer ended I knew it was time to find a job, so that’s what I did.

2. BE YOU

The world is filled with so many different personalities, which makes it so great. In order to find a job or opportunity that is in line with your passion, you have to be yourself or it won’t work. I witness too many young adults trying to be someone they’re not because someone else said so. As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned that being different and standing out from the rest is what makes you awesome. Focus on what truly makes you happy and the rest will fall into place.

3. FIRST JOB = EXPERIENCE

I was so naïve when I first graduated. I thought I would get a really cool job in the events industry somewhere in the city, have my own office and be able to jet set around World. When this didn’t happen, I have to say I was a little bummed. I landed a job in sales, in the city, had a cube and a very strict 9:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. schedule.

It wasn’t the most glamorous job in the world, but it gave me the most amazing real-life corporate work experience and helped shape the work ethic I have today.

If you’re lucky enough to land your dream job straight out of college, good for you! For the rest of you, use your first job experience as a tool to learn best practices in business and try to have fun during the process.

4. IT’S A MARATHON NOT A RACE

Success doesn’t happen overnight; at least not for all of us. It takes a lot of blood sweat and tears to become a master at something. And even when we become masters at something, we’re always looking for ways to improve.

Being successful at what you do in life will take a lot of commitment and focus on your part. Don’t get frustrated if you aren’t exactly where you are “supposed” to be at age 23. Don’t put a timeline on yourself. I remember I used to think I would be married with kids by age 26, and that sure didn’t happen. Instead, I’m having the time of my life building a business that I love, working with a business partner who is amazing and meeting some of the coolest people I’ve ever met throughout the process.

If you work hard and are passionate about what you do, you will get there. Don’t stress.

5. BE PASSIONATE WITH EVERYTHING YOU DO

 They say the average person will spend 30% (much more for entrepreneurs J) of their life working. So if that’s the case make sure you LOVE what you do. Too many people go through life unhappy with choices they make surrounding work and I never understood why. There are tons of different opportunities for work out there, be sure to find one that suits you and brings out your passion.

 No one wants to work with or have someone work for them who is a Debbie-Downer. Embrace opportunities and turn your work into your passion. Results will always be positive and you will be happier overall.

 I hope these bits of advice serves as some help to all you graduates. You should be proud of what you have accomplished thus far and excited about the next part of your journey you’re about to embark on. Always go through life with an open mind and heart.

 

Action vs Inaction: Restructuring

There comes a time in every business when you look around and say to yourself "This just isn't what I had in mind." Be it the culture turned out differently than you wanted, the revenues aren't what they should be or you just don't like where things are headed. There comes a time when you realize your business has outgrown it's structure; that your products have pivoted but your organization hasn't. 

This is a tough spot to be in for any business owner of any age. Why? Because as business creators and entrepreneurs we thrive on the innovation; on the Kaizen of the experience. Without that bait you risk losing the luster. I think this is what we call harnessing Intrinsic Motivation. Sometimes it gets out of whack. That's ok! What's important is having a process of alignment ready for deployment.

Dead-End Road In West Gee-Hossa Flat

The first step in getting yourself (Your Company) unstuck is determining what stuck actually is. Stuck is different for different companies. Stuck is different depending on the situation. Sometimes you can have a few different versions of stuck happening at the same time in different parts of your organization. So the important part is defining those pain points.

Is it deliverables that are suffering? Is personnel the route of the problem that is ultimately manifesting itself in poor office moral? Is there a lack of company culture because it isn't being influenced from the top down? These are all different problems that can be restructured; you just have to put the work in to really define the issue.

How Do I Get Out Of Here?

Often times we make the assumption that in recognizing a problem we begin the process of correcting it. Other points of view suggest that we just stop doing the "bad behavior" and by proxy correct the issue. I'm not so willing to place my confidence in such arbitrary tactics. For me the path to proper restructuring involves not only recognizing and ceasing damaging behaviors or actions but also in creating the perfect version of those behaviors or actions that will fill the void.

If we route out something that's negatively impacting our business but fail to create something positive and functional to put in it's place we'll ultimately find ourselves back in a similar dilemma. Something that has intention and embodies your businesses goals and ethics will create a windfall but you need to know what that "something" is!

Defining What You Want!

So.....now that you've extracted the problem it's your turn to imagine what the ideal version of that situation would look like. Now is the time to spitball ideas, pow-wow with your teams and ask yourself the hard questions.

This moment of brainstorming is one of the most critical in the Restructuring process. Why? Because it is in this place that we realize what the problem situation should have looked like all along. With that insight, we start to extrapolate how things will change in our organization if the idea is implemented.

The Hunt for Gold

Now that you know what you want the process/idea/overhaul to look like it's critical to find the right practitioner for the job. This is literally a hunt for gold. Since you've defined where the problem stemmed from, and what the ideal solution would be you have a pretty good idea of the types of personality and business traits that would excel.

We're only as good as the people we surround ourselves with so when it comes to driving change, to really restructuring, having strong leadership in place that understands the intention, has the confidence to inspire progress and the drive to see the job through will be critical. Hunt for that gold long and hard, be highly thorough in your vetting and then give them the reigns and smack the horse.

Create a Coat of Armor

Now that your team is in place and the initiative has been realized don't just send everyone to the front line naked. Make sure to take the time to build the proper processes around the work you've done. Put systems in place to help your team thrive and grow! Include their feedback as you go along; their POV is a valuable asset.

Take the time to implement and acknowledge the idealogical changes you're creating in your company. How  you communicate your vision for the future and how it impacts your team will be your defining moment. Leadership and politics are a heady brew; the visionary understands their role in everything but also that each need their own balance. 

Back to the Battle

So here we are! Are you done? No way. Remember, this is a process of constant improvement; raking the sand. A healthy methodology that supports the active restructuring of processes and intention in your company will prove to be one of the highest forms of ROI your business will ever receive. And it's Free; all it takes is your time.

Do you have any ideas about Creative Restructuring? I'd love to hear about them in the comments below. I'll comment back!

“So, What do you do for FUN?”

How many of you entrepreneurs out there hear the following on a daily basis?

“You work too much.”

“Do you have to work today?”

“Are you working this weekend?”

“So…what do you do for FUN?”

In the beginning, my responses were always a nod, half paying attention, half not caring and simply yes, yes, yup, uh-huh, ok.

But when it came to the FUN question, I tried explaining that my Work IS FUN. Building a business is so much FUN each and every day. Learning something new by meeting someone new is FUN.

But the reality is, non-entrepreneurs just don’t understand that concept. In fact, non-intrinsically motivated and un-passionate entrepreneurs don’t even understand that concept.

For those out there reading this who don’t understand where I’m coming from, let me just tell you the things about being an entrepreneur that are SO FUN every single day.

-       It’s like a board game, the fun isn’t in the end when you win or lose, it’s the anticipation of setting up, getting started, and going through the course that’s the fun part. Entrepreneurship is like one never ending family board game night…. Complete with tears and impromptu victory dances.  

-       Succeeding through others brings extreme happiness.

-       A “To Do” list is the most exciting read of the day for me. It’s never a “To Do” chore, it’s an “I can’t wait to get this done” activity.

-       Meeting other entrepreneurs for the first time is like discovering a long lost friend or sister from another mister. There is an instant connection, bond, ongoing conversation and sense of comfort unlike any other.

-       The glass is ALWAYS half full with an endless water cooler supply sitting right next to it. It’s incredible to look at the day and the world in front of you and know that opportunities are endless.

-       There’s places you go where “Everyone knows your name.” If you create relationships, brand yourself, and consistently network yourself and your business, there is always somewhere you can go where everyone knows who you are, what you do and your name. That’s just fun.

-       Freedom is fun. Freedom to create your own choices and then make your own choices. Freedom to create a life you’ve always imagined. Freedom to change directions. Freedom to change schedules. Freedom to work with whomever you choose. Freedom to do whatever you want.

Don’t get me wrong. This ‘ship is hard. There are times I feel like I’m in college going through sorority “Hell Week” all over again.

Entrepreneurship takes time, money, emotions, physical endurance, strength, love, passion, and discipline.

But at the end of the day, it’s fun and we wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t.

I’d rather go through the entrepreneur “Hell Week” every week because it’s more fun and exciting than going back to the corporate desk job life I lived before.

You know what wasn’t fun? Having anxiety if I hit traffic going into the office. Having a weekend “off” but not enjoying it because my work bestie in accounting just got laid off. Being told I do an amazing job, but there’s no room for growth.

That’s NOT fun.

Whenever anyone asks me and my Intrinsic Events business partner, “So how has it been starting your own business?” Our first answer is always, FUN.

We know it’s hard for people to believe us, but I hope this blog gives some insight as to why entrepreneurship is fun. At least for me.

I’d love for you all to share what you think is FUN about being entrepreneurs.

Stay tuned on my next blog for some steps to take in order to ensure you are able to have FUN as an entrepreneur. 

FOLLOW @Intrinsicevents for more advice and of course, FUN!

A Test of Leadership: Crisis Management

CHARM CITY CRISIS

There’s no doubt that this week has brought out a lot of emotions in many people who live, work, and play in our beautiful Charm City. The series of violent events that occurred over the past week in Baltimore, MD are disappointing, scary and have wreaked havoc on the city and its people; sending many into crisis mode.

As I watched things unfold throughout the day on Monday via Social Media and on TV, I found it very interesting to see how different people manage a crisis situation. 

As an Event Planner, I’m not stranger to crisis management. That is what we do. We deal with issues as they come and are constantly putting out fires to ensure the event is a success and our clients are happy. As a small business owner, mastering this craft has been incredibly helpful. Things go wrong in business everyday. Crisis situations in business and in life are inevitable and unavoidable. 

BE AMONG THE GREAT

However it’s in these moments of crisis that define ourselves as people and most of all, as leaders.  I’ve seen many “leaders” be put in moments of crisis and forced to step up to the challenge of handling and managing the situation in front of them.

Through these situations, I’ve come to the realization that leaders are ultimately defined in their actions, not their titles. Crisis situations are those moments that separate bad, good and great leaders. Here are some ways to make sure you fall amongst the great.

STAY CALM AND DON’T LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT

When you are in a leadership role, all eyes are on you. Every move you make will be critiqued. So don’t give them a reason to give you a bad critique. Always stay calm in crisis situations. The crisis is problem at hand; the last thing anyone needs is for the leader/manager to freak out.

DON’T MAKE EXCUSES

When a crisis occurs in your business, you need to deal with it head on. Don’t sit there and make excuses and try to convince yourself and everyone around you that “it’s not that bad.” The longer you avoid the situation, the worse it’s going to be.

PROACTIVELY PLAN FOR THE WORST

You should always have an idea of potential threats that your business could face. It’s important to be aware of these threats so you can create action plans ahead of time if a crisis does occur. Being ahead of the game is a good thing.

TAKE ACTION…NOW

As a business owner and leader, there is really no place to hide in a crisis situation. You’re going to be faced with difficult and sometimes uncomfortable conversations, but that’s ok. You’re solving a problem; it’s not supposed to be easy. It’s your job to make sure things get handled quickly and efficiently. Instead of running away from the problem, attack it!