How to Be an Effective Parent and Scale Your Business At the Same Time

Keeping your business alive while parenting requires strength and a little flexibility

Working from home and running a business while parenting is no small feat. I went from trying to ensure that my children and my business grew efficiently, to trying to ensure that my children and my business survive. I never dreamed I would one day be responsible for managing millions of dollars in cash flow while also teaching third grade math — not just in the same day, but often in the same minute. And yet, here we are.

It’s noteworthy if I manage to have a call without multiple kid eruptions, so us parent entrepreneurs have little choice but to develop tools to ensure that both parenting and running a business are compatible. Needless to say, this is still a work in progress, but here’s what I’ve learned thus far:

Work when you can work.

There is no such thing as nine-to-five (was there ever?). And in this situation, you’re really going to have to figure it out as you go. What worked last week may not work this week. I am now working early mornings, helping kids with school mid-morning, then going back to work in the evening. If there is something I can’t miss mid-morning, guess who gets to watch ABC Mouse? This is uncharted territory for our kids, too. Most kids have little expectation, so try to schedule around what you need, and know that they will be OK.

Don’t be afraid to let some things go.

Perfection is not the name of the game right now. Figure out what can come off your plate, tasks that aren’t the highest priority for either your business or your family. At some level, you know you can’t home-scale and home-school at the same time. So don’t even try.

Teach when you can teach — manage what you can manage.

Try to find help if you can. We have asked enterprise companies if their employees might volunteer with us, we have brought back interns, and we have asked team members to do things out of their job description. At home, I got my dad on Zoom to help teach my kids math (which is not my strength). Even my co-founder and I put our four kids together on Zoom, when we need a minute to work. When it comes down to it, the best you can do is to be flexible, and just do what you can.

Remember that it’s okay to cross back and forth between work and home.

It’s inevitable, and it can be a pleasure, for example, seeing your colleagues’ kids on Zoom and getting to say hello. I have loved seeing their children more often. And seeing our corporate partners confront home-schooling challenges has brought all of us closer together. And I will always be grateful to run in and eat lunch with my babies during the work day.

There is much at stake, and there is no clear roadmap. There will be stress, and if you find you need help, take the time to talk to someone.


How to start a dropshipping

business in 3 easy steps

Now more than ever, a few extra hundred dollars per week would be incredibly useful.

In the age of COVID-19, instead of binge-watching Netflix, you can start to put your spare time towards making some cash from your couch.

One of the easiest ways to make this cash is through your own online dropshipping store.

Dropshipping is the process of buying and selling items online without having to actually buy any physical inventory upfront. This enabled me at just 15 years old to start my first online business and, three years later, have turned over millions selling online.

I certainly didn’t have any degree in eCommerce. In fact, I actually learned how to dropship through YouTube and articles just like this.

You’ll be able to sell a product to customers, learn how to use Facebook to advertise and spend little to no money getting started.

1. Pick your product

The first step towards selling anything online is picking what to sell.

Believe it or not, it can be pretty much anything you want. In my opinion, the best thing to sell would be novelty products. The wackier the better.

This can be anything from laser hair removers to unique dog toys.

I tend to spot trends in the current market. A great one right now is office accessories, which you could sell to the millions of workers being forced to work from home. The choice is completely yours.

Start your product search at AliExpress, which is a site where thousands of Chinese suppliers post their products, and every single one of them can be sold.

Spend an hour, pick a few and save them.

2. Start your shop

Now that you know what you want to sell, you have to build an online store.

The best place to start is Shopify. With no computer skills required, you can build your own online store within a few hours and for under $50

Once you are done, you can import the products you saved from AliExpress over to Shopify.

The only expense so far has been $50 for your store and the best part is, you never have to order inventory until someone orders and pays you for them through your Shopify store.

Now you are ready to sell!

3. Get marketing

So now you have some great products to sell and a good looking, functional and professional store to sell them on, you need some people to sell them to.

Marketing isn’t for everyone as it does take some skill but the best place to start is Facebook Ads.

Within an hour and for as little as $5 a day you can have a simple ad for your product being shown to thousands of people at a time.

Alternatively, you can try advertising your product in Facebook Groups: if you’re selling dog products, you’d advertise them in a dog-focused Facebook group. A niche Facebook group it’s where all the fanatics lie of who would be your best and most likely customers.

Starting any business is never a walk in the park, even online ones!

Business requires determination and a will to succeed, but if you follow these three steps, you’ll be well on your way to building a successful business for little-to-no money.

Not only will you make money but also gain a highly valuable skill set you can take back to the workforce that employers will pay you extra money for.

So stop reading, get going!


The Stoic Secret That Can Help Your Business Now

How do you recover when things don’t go your way? A classic strategy, from the book, “The Daily Stoic” can help you find power in any situation

The strongest creatives and business owners don’t wait for perfect timing, inspiration or conditions, but are constantly moving forward based on their habits. One of the smartest skills you can learn is turning a perceived loss into a win. This so-called “reverse clause” goes back to philosopher Marcus Aurelius. Here’s how it can empower your life.

How to turn an obstacle into a triumph

In The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday talks about the reverse clause, or turning an unplanned setback into a victory. If you are stuck at home with your kids, then you can turn that into an opportunity to grow closer to them. If your traditional work is on hold, you can find a way to pivot into services people need now.

As Holiday writes in his book: “When a technical glitch erases our work, our reverse clause is that we can start fresh and do it better this time. Our progress can be impeded or disrupted, but the mind can always be changed–it retains the power to redirect the path.”

Boost your gratitude

Sometimes it is easier to be grateful because of other habits. For example, by using a reverse clause, you begin to see the power of your current position–and automatically have gratitude for being in it.

I recently talked about the simple practice of replacing “have to” with “get to,” which ties directly to the reverse clause idea.

Instead of saying you “have to” go on the fundraising road show because your startup is burning through money fast, switch it to you “get to go” on the fundraising road show because my startup represents something you truly believe in, and you have faith this is something worth pursuing. Believe that you are the rare person who actually can put the time and energy into something you care about.

The goal, then, isn’t to wait until the tide turns your way. To paraphrase Warren Buffett, it is to maximize the wave you’re riding on.



How Businesses Should Handle the Coronavirus Outbreak

We’ve put together a handy guide on best practices companies and human resources departments should deploy to help their employees avoid exposure to the new virus strain.

Image credit: Pixabay

The World Health Organisation has named the new coronavirus out of Wuhan that has killed 1,100 people COVID-19, and said that a vaccine to combat the infection should be ready in 18 months.

Cities in China have been cordoned off, airlines have cancelled flights to and out of the country, and airports globally have started implementing thermal scanners to catch any infections early.

Till date, around 45,171 cases of a coronavirus infection have been reported, surpassing the SARS epidemic in early 2000s. According to Chinese officials, the rate of new infections is showing signs of slowing.

Till date, around 45,171 cases of a coronavirus infection have been reported, surpassing the SARS epidemic in early 2000s. According to Chinese officials, the rate of new infections is showing signs of slowing.

Source: Worldometer

With coronavirus still continuing to spread across the world, we’ve put together a handy guide on best practices companies and human resources departments should follow to help their employees stay healthy and infection-free.

Effective Communication is Key

HR departments should pull together information pertaining to the coronavirus to create a ready-to-refer instructional guide for employees that not only educates them about the viral infection, but also enlists ways to avoid it.

The communication strategy should be multi-pronged and use all channels of communication available.

“You are looking at bulletins, sticking posters on the wall, emails, chat groups, town hall, infographics, videos, and any mode of media that could help to effectively communicate the message to all employees,” says Adrian Tan, a veteran HR practitioner and APAC leader of PeopleStrong, an India-based Enterprise HR SaaS platform.

Information gathered should only be from credible and verified sources, such as the page, the CDC website, and reputable news outlets that clearly attribute their information to either statements made by governmental agencies, or health professionals engaged in researching the virus.

Check out this Bloomberg story that busts some myths and highlights false information about coronavirus making the rounds online.

Implement Flexible Working Arrangement Plans, or BCP Protocols

For those in the thick of it – like countries that share a border with China, or have multiple reported cases of a coronavirus infection – allowing employees to work from home is the best way to prevent contamination given that human-to-human transmission is possible.

“By implementing flexible working arrangements, you are not just eliminating the possibility of transmission at the office but also during commute. This is especially so for densely populated cities such as Hong Kong where you are literally inches away from someone’s face in the MTR during peak hours,” says Tan.

This holds true for many other countries with packed urban centres as well.

“Given the better infrastructure that we have today, it is much easier to be “business-as-usual” with chat platforms, project management dashboards and other platforms that are online or on the cloud,” he adds.

This might not be possible for work that is location-dependent though, but the CDC and WHO websites have laid out ways to avoid viral infections by using non-invasive implements such as face masks, alcohol-based hand sanitisers, and maintaining good personal hygiene.

Reconsider Leave Policies

The last thing a company would want is for an infected employee to turn up to work because they didn’t have enough paid time off left. That not only hurts the sick employee who has had to stress him/herself out to get to work, but also their colleagues, as well as everyone and everything they encounter and touch on the way.

“If the company is results-driven, whether the employee works from home or in the office should not matter as long as the work is being delivered. Given the developments in technology today, there is a suite of solutions for companies to use such that meetings, discussions and day-to-day work can go on per normal,” Tan says.

For employees that are suspected of being sick, or start feeling ill during the day, particularly those that have been travelling, calling and notifying health authorities should be a priority. Fear mongering and forcing the employee into isolation, against their will, should be avoided at all costs, until advised by a medical authority.

Using Tech to Avoid Human Contact Might not be such a bad thing

Platforms that allow teams to collaborate and communicate effectively can be used during work-from-home days. Meetings can be done over Skype, Google Hangouts, or Zoom, while real-time collaborations can be done using free platforms like Collabedit.

(Read about more collaborative tools you can use here and here.)

Other HR Initiatives, Apart From Handing Out Free Masks, According to Tan

  • Beside provisioning free masks and sanitisers, the cleaning schedule of the office can be increased.
  • Senior management has to walk the talk to ensure they mask up wherever appropriate to.
  • Temperature taking could be incorporated so that everyone in the office would have a peace of mind and not be paranoid that their co-workers may be infected. Such information should be openly available so that employees have complete trust in the information provided.
  • Lastly, lunch could be catered so as to minimize employees exposure to crowded areas like the food centre.


8 Things You Need to Know Before Starting a Business

Nothing can fully prepare you for starting your own business—but you can learn from others who’ve been there. We asked eight founders and Advisors in The Oracles what they wish they’d known when they were starting out. Here’s what they said.

1. Realize entrepreneurship is a marathon.

The Nasdaq crashed one year after we started Bluemercury. For a year and a half, there was no way to raise venture capital and we had to figure out how to build our business with revenue and cash flow. Now the company has been through two recessions.

Many entrepreneurs focus on how they can exit their business in a few years. But things are always changing, and life rarely works out like you plan. Instead, focus on building a great company for the long term. Remember, entrepreneurship is a marathon, not a sprint. —Marla Beck, co-founder and CEO of Bluemercury, which was acquired by Macy’s for $210 million; creator of M-61 Skincare and Lune+Aster cosmetics.

2. Ensure there is a demand for your product or service.

Entrepreneurship requires working harder and learning more about yourself than you can imagine. It has lucrative rewards — but no guarantees. When things get intense, you’re running out of cash, and you want to quit, remember that sales may not cure all issues, but you can’t cure the issues without sales.

Companies that thrive focus on being consistently profitable so they can withstand unforeseen events like economic downturns. Before you start a business, do your research, know your numbers, and be certain there’s a market and demand for your product or service. Every sale should be profitable, ideally by 50 percent. Then you’ll have money to hire A-list players so you can focus on the work you want to do. Document everything and build systems as you go, so anyone could do your job tomorrow. But first, learn how to sell! —Matt Mead, founder and CEO of Mead Technology Group, EpekData, and BrandLync.

3. Know you won’t get it right the first time.

Don’t dwell in information-gathering mode. The only way to progress is to actually do it — take action immediately. Then you must be quick on your feet, analyze the results, and make changes if needed. You’re probably not going to get it right the first time — or even the second or third. But if you’re nimble, you can pivot.

Avoid heavy overhead. Look for ways to make cash quickly and get paid upfront. The more cash you have, the more you’re able to take calculated risks — which you need to do. You can’t have an upside without a downside. Invest in yourself and have confidence that you will deliver. When you “fail,” consider it feedback. Each time you test a theory in the real world, you’ll get feedback that shows you how to improve. The only way you’ll actually fail is if you give up. —Joshua Harris, founder of Agency Growth Secrets; teaches entrepreneurs how to start, grow, and scale marketing agencies that help businesses grow.

4. Be patient and make sure you have adequate funding.

Anyone starting a new business should fully understand the timeline and funding needed to survive the startup phase. I wish I had understood how long it would take to get to a revenue level that would allow my business to thrive and grow.

Nearly half of all small businesses that fail didn’t have adequate funding. Plan on it taking longer than expected to generate a profit, and make sure you have a backup funding source. Every startup’s timeline to profitability is different, and failure is always a possibility. But if you have adequate funding, you dramatically reduce the chances of failure. —Guy Sheetrit, CEO of Over The Top SEO, who provides customized SEO marketing solutions for e-commerce, local, and Fortune 500 companies.

5. Forget about what you want to sell.

Many entrepreneurs focus so much on marketing and selling that they neglect to deeply understand exactly what their clients want to achieve or solve. Profitable companies know their customers better than they know themselves. They sell the value, impact, and results their customers want to buy.

Become a student of the game. Don’t wing it or assume you already know the answers. Plan a listening campaign to understand your target audience’s problems and dreams. It’s never too late to pivot, expand, or adjust what you sell to exactly what your clients desire and demand. When you do that, you become that rare company whose products don’t need to be sold — they’re just bought. —David Newman, best-selling author of “Do It! Marketing” and creator of the Speaker Profit Formula; host of the iTunes Top 50 business podcast “The Speaking Show”; connect with David on Facebook.

6. Be prepared to pivot.

Business school can’t teach you the lessons you learn from founding a business. When you are dealing with people, ideas, and markets, hell breaks loose on the battlefield no matter how good the business plan is.

The first lesson is to vet your partners. Make sure they have the right personality, are financially stable, and are available for the long hours required. They must also have skin in the game. Second, don’t overcomplicate your business model or product line. Simple, well-executed, and elegant plans are best. Third, be prepared to pivot quickly based on changing markets and needs. Know your customer well and listen to what they’re saying. —Peter Hernandez, president of the Western Region at Douglas Elliman; founder and president of Teles Properties.

7. Listen to your customers.

Traditional thinking will tell you to start everything with a business plan and the product. But when we started The Boutique Hub, I learned the hard way that identifying the minimum viable product (MVP), implementing, and getting immediate customer feedback were most important. In our first iteration, I started with a plan and a product that made sense to me, but it didn’t fit the market. It nearly killed the business.

I started over and hustled to find what our customers really needed. Then I offered it, even without the right pricing, details, or layout. I did it for little to no cost, just to learn from them. Once we had a product-market fit, we added the details necessary to grow. Always remember, your customer decides if your business is going to work, not your business plan. Test your market first, then go all in. —Ashley Alderson, founder and CEO of The Boutique Hub; cancer survivor, motivational speaker, seven-figure entrepreneur, and host of “Boutique Chat”.

8. Solve a problem.

Always ask yourself what need or problem your product or service will answer. If there is no demand or interest from the market, you should rethink your idea.

I started my first business because I needed a tool to send automated, mass emails to my subscribers. I had some programming skills, so I built it. As it turned out, many others had the same need. More than 20 years later, GetResponse has over 350,000 customers. I built my second company, ClickMeeting, on the same foundation. At GetResponse, we needed to improve communication with our globally dispersed team. We couldn’t find a solution that met our needs, so we built one. Now ClickMeeting is in over 160 countries and serves over 100,000 customers. —Simon Grabowski, founder and CEO of ClickMeeting.