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Entrepreneurs have a lot of different things to consider when they’re starting a new business. Not only do they need to sort through all of the legal requirements, manage inventory, and build a customer base, they also have to search for (and get acclimated with) tools that can help them handle the day-to-day aspects of running a business. After a while, the whole process can start to feel a little overwhelming.

That’s why, when the MailChimp product teams develop new features or educational resources, our main focus is on how we can help small businesses succeed. Similarly, when it’s time to look for new companies to work with, the MailChimp Partnerships Team keeps an eye out for companies that build technologies and services that will help our customers grow.

Today, we’re excited to launch a new partnership with PayPal and join their Business in a Box program. PayPal has long been a trusted solution for small businesses, building tools that make it easier for them to manage payments. The Business in a Box program goes a step further, pulling together everything an entrepreneur needs to start and grow their online business—all in one place.

Whether you’re just getting started or you’re a seasoned entrepreneurial pro, PayPal’s hand-picked partners—like Shopify and WooCommerce, for example—can help you manage every aspect of your business, from payment solutions to online accounting platforms to finance management. That means you don’t have to worry about finding the right tools for each job and your focus can stay where it belongs: on building your business.

Ready to get started? Sign up for your box today.

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Running a business is demanding. And with a lot of responsibility on your shoulders, stepping away from the office can feel scary.

But taking a break is just as important as hard work, and you’ve earned a vacation. Plus, time away gives you perspective. When you’re not in the thick of your day-to-day routine, you can look at your business through a different lens and come up with even better ideas for the future.

We rounded up a few ideas about how to prepare your business to succeed even while you’re away.

Get ready

Preparation is the name of the game when it comes to making sure you get a real break.

Once you’ve decided where you’re going and when, relay those details to your team. The more notice you give everyone, the easier it is for them to prepare.

Depending on the nature of your business, you might need to email your customers and let them know you’re going to be out of town. This will prevent them from feeling disappointed or frustrated when they can’t get in touch.

It will also help them relate to you as a person, not just a business. You might even inspire them to take a vacation themselves!

You might even inspire them to take a vacation themselves!

Send an email to your customers and clients and tell them:

  • How long you’ll be gone.
  • If you plan to check your emails while you’re out.
  • Whether there’s someone else they should contact.
  • When they should expect to hear directly from you again.

And whether you have a team or you’re flying solo, you can automate your marketing to keep things going and and take repetitive work off of your hands.

And whether you have a team or you’re flying solo, you can automate your marketing to keep things going and and take repetitive work off of your hands.

Before you leave the office:

  • Schedule . Even if you’re not personally emailing anyone while you’re on vacation, you can still send emails from your business that promote a product, share news, or tell a story. Create the email before you leave and schedule it to send while you’re out.
  • Set up Facebook and Instagram ads to run while you’re offline. Facebook and Instagram Ads can help you grow your reach on each platform, regardless of whether you’re personally logged in. Simply create and turn on the ads—then let them do the work, while you take a break from social networks too.
  • Launch Google Remarketing ads to sell more stuff, even on vacation. While you’re away, people might visit your site and leave before they buy anything. But when you build Google Remarketing ads in MailChimp, you can recapture their attention and bring them back when they’re ready to buy.
  • Turn on abandoned cart emails. People often put stuff in their cart but then fail to check out. When you turn on our abandoned cart automation, you can automatically remind shoppers what they’ve left behind and encourage them to buy it—that way you’ll make more money for your next getaway.

When you turn on these automations before you leave the office, you can reach your audience and grow your business, even when you’re off the grid.

Get set

When the you take time out of the office, it gives your team the chance to shine. Co-workers or employees can take on more responsibility and prove what they can do. Empower them to succeed while you’re gone—that way all of you can really relax and enjoy your vacation.

When the you take time out of the office, it gives your team the chance to shine.

Prepare your team for success

Before you catch a beach-bound or ski slope-destined flight, you should make sure your team and your tools are set up to run the show while you’re gone.

Your team will need a few things from you before you go:

  • A plan. Delegate specific tasks to specific people and give them the details they need to get the job done.
  • A way to get in touch. Whether you plan to check in regularly or only in an emergency, set up an app like Slack to make communication easy.
  • Access. Give your people access to the documents and tools you normally use, like stuff in your MailChimp account, Google Drive or Dropbox.

Fortunately, it’s easy to share access to your MailChimp account. Before you leave town, create multi-user logins in your account for the people you’re leaving in charge of your marketing outreach. You can even set up levels of permissions so that your co-workers access only what they need.

With all of this preparation, you can leave town with peace of mind. But just in case, be sure to download the mobile app on your phone so that you can check on everything while you’re away.

With all of this preparation, you can leave town with peace of mind.

Go!

After a lot of preparing, it’s time to kick back and enjoy the rewards of your hard prep work.

Still, you may want to check in on a thing or two from afar. If you’re going to work on vacation:

  • Set time aside. We recommend you use a method called timeboxing to ensure that you don’t get sucked completely out of vacation mode. Give yourself half an hour each morning, for example, to check your email and see how your campaigns are doing.
  • Use the mobile app. Perhaps you’d like to work from a beach chair or a ski lodge—the MailChimp app makes it possible. Check out reports from your various campaigns. Write a new email using the templates you already built on your desktop. You can even turn on abandoned cart in the mobile app, if you forgot to do so before you left.

Most importantly, get some rest and enjoy being where you are. You’ve earned it!

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When creativity is one of your company’s core values, you get to work alongside some super-talented people. And when super-talented people have good ideas, things like Freddie’s Makers Market happens.

It all started with an email from Ashe, one of our Billing Coordinators. “I was thinking, as we get closer to the holidays, what if employees who have a side hustle could set up a table and bring in their goods for other employees to shop?”

MailChimp is full of creators and craftspeople who make awesome stuff outside the office. You can find them selling their wares on Etsy, at neighborhood festivals, and in local boutiques. Sometimes, they just enjoy making things for their friends. Ashe was right. We have a lot of creative side hustles going on at our company. What better way than to show them off and help them sell some stuff?

So on the Wednesday after Thanksgiving we hosted our very first Freddie’s Makers Market. We had 15 employees set up booths in our Coffee Hour space where they sold things from kids shirts to bitters, custom illustrations to nerf gun accessories. The first market was a success, names were crossed off shopping lists and, best of all, no one had to leave the office.

We didn’t want to wait a year to have another market, so we hosted a Spring version just in time for Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and graduation gifts. We realize our employees aren’t the only talented ones in the bunch, so we invited their significant others and family to sell, too.

Marketing Associate EQ invited her mom to sell her beautiful hand-woven sweetgrass baskets. Senior Talent Scout Chris assisted his wife Shauna, who designs jewelry for their Etsy shop The Lumen House. Art Director Ross sold enamel pins, while his wife Anna had some fashionable leather goods for sale. And you may remember Dorothy from The Cook Gallery—she was at the market selling the leftover prints from her solo show.

Now, we’re onto the next one. Freddie’s Makers Market will hold its third event on November 28. Wanna be a part of it? We’re always hiring.

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An interview can be a terrifying thing. The only way to get better at them is practice, but getting that practice can be tricky, too. In a 1:1 conversation with MailChimp’s VP of Development, Eric Muntz, I’d mentioned an idea for using my 16 hours of volunteer time. We’d been talking about an internal event we’d held last year, MailChimp Gives Hack. Over 2 days we worked with 3 local organizations to rebuild and enhance their websites. All of the volunteers loved sharing their technical knowledge with these organizations, and we wanted to host something similar this year but hadn’t planned anything yet.

I was thinking about holding community office hours for career coaching and letting folks practice some interviewing skills. As a Software Engineering Manager at MailChimp, I strive to hire a curious, kind, and thoughtful team.

But conducting interviews takes practice, too! When I mentioned the idea to Eric, he suggested we go bigger. Why not open it to the engineering community, create something that helps people outside of MailChimp’s walls, while also broadening our own perspectives? Just like that, we started organizing our first MailChimp Gives (Feed)back event.

We put out the call for volunteers, worked with our Facilities, Office Management, Recruiting, and Design teams, and started reaching out to the Atlanta tech community, mostly through women’s programming groups and the network of tech folks collected by our diversity employee resource group, The Mothership. We quickly “sold out” of our 50 free tickets and started pairing the mock interviewers with mock candidates based on their career trajectory and fields of interest noted during the registration process.

When the day of the event arrived, we were ready. Engineers, managers, directors, testers, designers, and writers from our Engineering team and across the company were all present for mock interviews, career coaching, group exercises, and general conversation. Volunteers from the Engineering team also staffed the espresso machines, serving cappuccinos, lattes, and americanos in custom-made mugs—gifts for attendees and volunteers alike.

MailChimp’s excellent recruiting team was on hand all day holding office hours. They gave feedback on résumés, portfolios, cover letters, and LinkedIn profiles, all while answering questions big and small.

As an after-lunch activity, we asked Jennifer Jackson, a Millennial Transition Coach, to moderate a panel about all the things to consider while on the job hunt. She got our MailChimp panelists (Loren Crawford, Junior Software Engineer; Lee Duh, Senior QA Analyst; Ethiopia Rabb, Software Engineering Manager; Maura Kelly, Senior Director of Engineering; Chris Turner, Technical Recruiter; and Eric Muntz, VP of Development) talking about a great range of topics, including how to approach questions when you don’t know the answer and how to dress for an interview at a more casual tech company.

But the best part of the day was getting to meet and getting to know the mock interviewees. So many of them were self-taught and transitioning to a brand-new career. A few even had their first technical interview in our mock interview setting. Everyone was excited to know that they’d get real feedback afterward, and not just a pass/fail response. Our interviewers all filled out a scorecard to grade on various criteria, including:

  • Demonstrates a strong grasp of core functional/technical skills expected at this level
  • Shows curiosity and initiative
  • Capably articulated an approach to a previous project
  • What’s something this person could improve for their next interview?
  • What’s something this person did really well in this interview?

Besides giving direct feedback on their interviews, we wanted to provide a setting to the mock candidates where they’d experience how interviews should feel. Interviews should be challenging, and maybe even a bit stressful, but the interviewers themselves should be kind and respectful. We hope that by giving them a realistic experience, they’ll be empowered to treat future interviews as a 2-way conversation.

At the end of the day, our guests packed up their notes and coffee mugs and headed home, awaiting the results of their interviews. Our interviewers put the final touches on their notes, and we started thinking about how we could offer similar events to other communities.

Looking ahead, our Recruiting team is organizing one such event in September at the Grace Hopper Celebration, which will focus on mentorship. And later this year, we’re working with Friends of Refugees to offer practice scenarios for interviewing at American companies. Here’s to making that process a little less terrifying, one practice conversation at a time.

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