HER Magazine is an online women's publication featuring female entrepreneurs and content for women in business. Our main audience is the working woman, whether she’s an entrepreneur, freelancer, or rising up the corporate ladder.
Multi-award-winning editor Tatiana S. Riegel knows what it’s like to break down walls in a male-dominated industry. The veteran editor worked on “I, Tonya,” as well as some of the most original independent comedies including “Bad Words,” “The Men Who Stare At Goats” and “The Way Way Back.”
“Some studio people may not believe a woman editor can do an action film as well as a man,” she explains of obstacles she faces. “It’s silly, but I have come across it.”
In 2017, only 18% of all directors, writers, producers, executive producers, editors, and cinematographers working on the top 250 domestic grossing films were women. That’s an increase of only one percentage point, from 17% in 2016, according to a study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film by San Diego State University.
“Like in all professions, one may need to prove themselves more as a woman because we don’t fit an expected stereotype,” she says. “It can be difficult and competitive.”
As a woman we don’t fit an expected stereotype.
While the percentages of female writers and editors have actually declined, Riegel continues to shine in the industry.
She added several awards to her name for her work on “I, Tonya,” the darkly comedic biopic starring Margot Robbie. In fact, she was the only female nominated for Best Editing for this year’s Independent Spirit Award, Academy Award, and American Cinema Editors Award, for the film that follows Tonya Harding’s story from her abusive childhood to her shocking figure-skating career. She won both the ACE Eddie Award for Best Edited Feature Film (Comedy), and the Independent Spirit Award.
“The role of an editor has a huge impact on a film,” says Riegel.
The film “I, Tonya” maintains a tone that strikes a careful balance between pitch-black comedy and real-life tragedy. “The most challenging aspect of this particular film is by far the tone,” she says. “It’s a difficult mix of emotion, tragedy, and humor.”
She teamed up with “I, Tonya” director Craig Gillespie for the fifth time, having also worked with him on “Lars and the Real Girl,” “Fright Night,” and “The Finest Hour.” Together, they set a pace for the ambitious story while giving both the drama and the humor room to shine.
HER ROLE AS AN EDITOR
Riegel always knew she wanted a career in film, but at first, had no idea what she wanted to do. Through the process of elimination, she settled on post-production.
“Editing, as it turns out, is the perfect combination of both sides of my brain…creative and technical,” says Riegel, who enjoys the creative space afforded while working on independent films.
Although she doesn’t spend much time on the set, her work as an editor begins as soon as the shooting starts. She watches scenes over and over again, paying attention to every detail, the pace, the sound, the music — or a way to improve it.
“While in production (usually between 2-4 months depending on the project), I watch everything they shoot and begin the assembly by choosing performances, setting the initial tone as well as the pace of the film,” Riegel says.
Her advice for anyone wanting to get started in this field? Start.
She spends the next 6-10 months working side by side with the director refining the edit and also working with sound, music and visual effects.
Her advice for anyone wanting to get started in this field? Start.
“If you want to edit, edit. Cut everything you can get your hands on,” she recommends.
Forget whether the field is dominated by men — it’s up to you to begin.
For Kathrin Zenkina, success is inevitable. It’s part of her affirmation, where she believes “I am always on the right path.”
Dreaming of that new job? New car or more money? Say it enough, and according to Zenkina, it will come true.
“In the last two years, I’ve manifested the following: my soul mate, a 7-figure business, my dream car, being able to travel to any city or country in the world whenever I want, and other endless opportunities,” she says. “Magic happens when you open yourself to the power of your mind.”
“Magic happens when you open yourself to the power of your mind.”
The Master Mindset Coach, author, and founder of ManifestationBabe.com has a thriving business of courses and coaching programs. She is a firm believer in transparency and honesty and, as of this posting, has published her monthly revenue reports on her website through April 2018. Earlier this year, she hosted a Manifestation luxury retreat in Bali for women looking for their life purpose.
As a mindset coach and success strategist, she works for women who know they were always meant for more.
“I’ve had 490 students enroll in the very first round of Manifestation Babe Academy. I’ve also helped over 500 women transform their money mindsets via my signature money mindset mastery program, Rich Babe Academy,” she says.
Known for sharing her manifestation secrets and principles with her nearly 60,000 followers on Instagram, Zenkina believes anyone can and should achieve their highest potential. While you can see she’s manifested her dream life, it didn’t start so picture perfect.
HER LOWEST POINT HELPED LAUNCH HER DREAM CAREER
In 2016, she hit what she calls her lowest point. She was $25,000 in debt and living on her grandma’s couch, because she couldn’t afford rent in Los Angeles. At the time, Zenkina was trying to launch an online business — but wasn’t getting anywhere.
“I had always been obsessed with the human mind and its role in creating our realities since the film “The Secret” first premiered. Even though I knew how to change my life on an intellectual level, I didn’t actually apply the information. I would preach mindset, but I wasn’t walking my walk. I was afraid of taking risks at this time in my life,” she tells HER Magazine.
She started to believe she could actually achieve her wildest dreams.
So how did she get out of her funk? She manifested her way out — and started to believe she could actually achieve her wildest dreams. Now she travels around the world while continuing to invest in herself and her business.
That’s why she started Manifestation Babe — so she could prove to herself that manifestation works. She began sharing tips on how to manifest on Instagram and two years later, turned that idea into a 7-figure personal development company.
“When people ask me how I came up with the name, Manifestation Babe, I always giggle. It was such a random download from the Universe, and I have no idea where it came from. A little bit earlier, I had an Instagram account called @fitrussianbabe. I changed the name because I never wanted others to think that I’m some conceited fitness model who calls herself a ‘babe.’ A few friends mentioned to me that they LOVED the “babe” in the handle and so I kept that in mind when creating my new Instagram handle,” says Zenkina.
MAKING YOUR BRAND SUCCEED
In the beginning, Zenkina says she had zero support from friends and family. At the time, they thought she was insane for thinking she could create a successful career online.
“Believe in where you are going, and the entire Universe will be on your side to help you manifest it.”
“It doesn’t matter if the world is against you. If you are on a mission, fully believe in where you are going, and the entire Universe will be on your side to help you manifest it,” she says.
Always a believer in herself, Zenkina focused on learning new skills every day to get her business running. By investing in personal development, marketing courses, seminars, books, and coaches, she was able to achieve her business goals. Let’s not forget she also continued to manifest success, which apparently continues to work for her to this day.
“I am always learning, experimenting, testing, and trying what I think will work. The difference maker for me really has been that I am NOT afraid to take risks. In fact, I love it. You never know what will work or won’t work unless you try it. I think that business owners should experiment more. They play it safe, and so they get safe results,” she says.
Another secret to her success: her business is not just work. It’s her obsession.
“I made it a part of my life. I called it life-business integration. This is where I don’t see my life and business as separate, but rather one entity existing together. This was the only way I could build it while working a 9-5 job, and then while traveling the world full-time,” she says.
Create a team that believes and trusts your vision. The people you surround yourself within your business matters. Find the right mentors who can help steer you in the right direction.
“A business is like a baby — it requires a ton of care in its early stages. You will find yourself giving all your energy to get it off the ground. However, once it grows up? It’s like witnessing the child that you birthed fully come to life. The more love you give it, the better it turns out,” she says.
HOW TO START MANIFESTING YOUR DREAMS
The “Law of Attraction” is the ability to attract into your life whatever you are focusing on. Zenkina claims anything you put your mind to, you can manifest into your life. According to her, it’s helped her achieve success both in life and finances. She even wrote a book about it, Unleash Your Inner Money Babe, a workbook designed to help you let go of limiting beliefs about money and unlock the mindset of abundance and wealth.
“It’s perfect for beginners who want to manifest their first $1,000 while up-leveling their money mindsets for even more money attraction,” she says.
How will you start manifesting your dreams? Let us know in the comments.
Jayna Cooke is CEO and founder of Chicago-based EVENTup, the largest online marketplace for event venues. (EVENTup was recently acquired by Gather.) Cooke was also former VP of business development (and one of the first employees) at Groupon, where she was the top global sales performer, responsible for the company’s two largest deals: with Nordstrom and Gap. Before that, she was the top seller at Echo Global Logistics. In 2012, Cooke started Closet Angels, a 501.c.3 foundation that collects and sells designer clothes to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital.
We reached out to Cooke to discover the secret to her success and gain advice on ways to successfully sell a business.
In the right place at the right time
When Cooke joined Echo Global Logistics, she had the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats. Cooke started in sales and trained new hires. She also helped to create an enterprise sales division, managed teams, and had a lot of other duties. “I was lucky to be there in such a growth period and roughly four years after I joined, the company went public on the NYSE,” Cooke says. “It was such an exciting time and the company really needed individuals that could be resourceful and move forward as fast as possible.”
I was able to spread my wings.
Her next stop was at Groupon, where she was VP of Business Development. Groupon had the same founders as Echo, so they knew how much value Cooke could bring to the organization. “Again, I was very lucky in the sense that so early I was able to spread my wings and explore numerous incremental revenue opportunities.” Since business development included sales and partnership from a variety of sectors, she was able to work with Oprah, Gap, and Forbes, among other big brands. “My goal was to help grow the company as fast as possible — which we had great success at doing,” Cooke says. “We experienced a tremendous rate of growth and I was there through the transition to a public company.”
After she left Groupon, Cooke was exploring her options, and says the opportunity arose to take over EVENTup. “I partnered with Lightbank (the VC firm by the founders of Echo and Groupon) and we took over the company in 2014,” she says. “We grew EVENTup to great heights and were approached with an offer to sell our business early this year — we decided the timing was right so we made that happen.”
Advice for successfully selling your business
If you’re thinking about selling your business, Cooke offers the following tips:
1. Start looking for a buyer on day one
“Start by making a list of competitors and other companies within your space,” she says. “Companies that are not direct competitors today — but have a similar customer base — are a great starting point because you never know their expansion plans.”
Cooke admits that might sound like a risky move. “You do not want to reveal your ‘secret sauce’ and have someone duplicate it,” she says. “However, it is worth a conversation and forging a relationship as once they decide to start offering a product similar to yours or expand into your space, you will be the first place they head for acquisition — which is often more cost effective than building from scratch.”
It’s important to maintain relationships.
Cooke says it’s also important to maintain these relationships. In fact, she says you should initiate contact with them at least once or twice a year.
2. Be ready
“It is easier to have a buyer approach you versus actively trying to sell your company,” Cooke explains. She says timing is critically important, so you should always plan ahead. “If a potential buyer reaches out with interest, hear them out right away, even if you are not quite ready to sell,” Cooke advises. Not only will you be able to gauge how serious they are, but you can also gauge their goals and motivation. And she says this will give you the opportunity to understand how serious the potential buyer might be and also understand their goals and what’s motivating their desire to buy.
3. Know what you want
Cooke says it’s unlikely that you’ll get everything you want. “However, having a written list of what is important to guide you along the process is extremely beneficial,” she explains. “The process is exhausting and exhilarating at the same time and decisions are generally made quickly so you need to be prepared to negotiate on exactly what you want and know exactly what you are willing to give.”
No matter where you are on your career journey, the thought of outsourcing can be scary. When your entire business and income depend solely on you, trusting someone else to help fill in the gaps is stressful; most of us would rather do everything ourselves. We cling to responsibility — that ‘can-do’ attitude is what made us entrepreneurs in the first place, right? But the difficult reality is that holding so hard to every aspect of our businesses will stunt our growth, and ultimately burn us out.
The trick is to start small.
So how do you start outsourcing, especially when you don’t have a huge budget for hiring a team? The trick is to start small. Make a list of the parts of your business that stress you out. What do you hate doing? Even if you’re perfectly capable of doing your own bookkeeping, is it really worthwhile for you to do it if you dread it and feel nauseous while looking at the numbers? Create a list of stressful tasks that don’t require you to be the one doing them. Then start categorizing those tasks and try outsourcing one of them. And as is so often the case in our tech-driven world: there’s probably an app for that.
If you’re building your business while staying home with young kids, then you are a rockstar — but you don’t have to do it all alone. Could you hire help even just one morning per week to give you some dedicated work time? You’ll probably be surprised with how much you can accomplish when you have a few hours of uninterrupted time. Check out tools like Urban Sitter or Seeking Sitters to find affordable, safe options in your area.
Personal: Cleaning Service
Consider your quality of life.
Hiring a cleaning service doesn’t sound like a business expense, but consider your quality of life. If small house tasks like vacuuming and scrubbing the toilet eat up your precious time, your business won’t grow as quickly as it could. This is especially true if you work from home and constantly feel distracted by the sink full of dishes. Try hiring a cleaning service once per month and then work up from there — apps like Handy and Takl can connect you with cleaners (and other service providers, if you need some shelves put together!)
Don’t you hate sitting on hold with your insurance company or standing in line at the post office? You can easily do these errands yourself, but how much time do all those little tasks add up to? If your time would be better spent growing your business, consider hiring a personal assistant for a couple hours per week. Finding and hiring someone for this can be tricky; check with an agency if you want someone in-person. Otherwise, there’s always online options like Fin or Fancy Hands.
Business: Virtual Assistant
God bless virtual assistants! There are freelancers all over the globe who love doing the little tasks that bog you down, and they’re probably better at them than you. A virtual assistant typically has more expertise than a personal assistant, and can handle more business-oriented tasks. They could take over managing your inbox, researching your projects, editing your writing, creating your website graphics, and so much more. Finding a virtual assistant can be as simple as asking around your network or LinkedIn, but hiring can be stressful. Check out sites like Zirtual, or the more high-level WorldWide101, to connect you with just the right new teammate.
Staying on top of your business finances is crucial for growing your income, but so many of us avoid our numbers. If this sounds familiar, talk with an accountant or bookkeeper. This could be just a few hours per month but save you loads of stress and mental energy. There are less options for this virtually; accounting sites like Billy are great for solopreneurs doing it on their own, but if you’re looking for a dedicated bookkeeper, plan on spending at least a few hundred dollars per month. Dive into your network and get referrals from other business owners; this advice from Quickbooks can also help you find the perfect person!
Once you get started…
Once you decide what you’d like to outsource, start documenting your current process. This will help you get organized, and become a handy resource for your new employee or contractor. The more you can train them in up front, the fewer problems you’ll come across along the way.
Take your time and find what works for you.
Fortunately, outsourcing is not an all-or-nothing process. Take your time and find what works for you. When interviewing a potential virtual assistant or contractor, ask to start with a trial period. This will give you both a chance to make sure it’s a good fit and prevent you from pouring money into someone who can’t provide what you need.
As your business evolves and grows, so will your need for outsourcing. Take some time every few months or so to evaluate your process and ask yourself what needs to be tweaked. You’ll have a chance to see the return on your investment, and see the benefit of those dollars — before you know it, you’ll forget why you resisted outsourcing in the first place.
In the male-driven tech world, female entrepreneurs already face many more hurdles than their male counterparts. Finding out you’re pregnant on top of that might seem like the end of your budding startup.
A couple of years ago, I quit my 9-5 to create my own business in the beauty/tech space. Thinking that it wouldn’t be the best time to have a child, I started the process of freezing my eggs — only to discover I was already pregnant. Perhaps even more surprising — my cofounder was pregnant, too! So much for balancing the workload. But the benefit was we were able to support each other emotionally in a way no one else could — we both understood how strange it feels to be totally ecstatic while at the same time questioning everything you’d been working on up until that point: Could we do this? What extra challenges would we face as entrepreneurs and moms?
What we soon discovered was that having a baby and starting a company at the same time was actually the best thing that could have happened to us. That being said — we certainly learned a lot. If you’re facing this, these are the three questions you’ll inevitably need to ask — and how we responded to each issue.
1. How will my team react?
The hard reality is that a few of our male engineers immediately quit when they found out we were pregnant. Seriously. As depressing as that is, I was honestly expecting worse. But, surprisingly, it didn’t create the ‘abandon ship’ effect I thought it would. Valuable team members stayed. And we now had one very clear way to pick the right team members.
The people you hire, especially the first ten members of your startup, will have a major impact on how your culture develops. We decided then and there that two of the most important qualities we’d be looking for in new hires would be open-mindedness — they had to be okay with our situation — and passion. We needed people to truly care about what we were doing.
You should already be thinking about company culture.
Even when you’re in the initial stages of creating your startup, you should already be thinking about company culture. What qualities will make up the perfect environment for your business to thrive? Then consider the qualities that could prevent your company from achieving its goals. Having a clear picture will help you hire the right people from the start.
2. Will being pregnant impact our ability to raise funding?
When we found out we were pregnant, our startup had just been accepted into the vigorous Y Combinator accelerator program. Some of our advisors warned us that being pregnant might actually scare off investors on demo day and convinced us to defer our entry to the program.
In 2017, female entrepreneurs only received 2.2 percent of all VC funding, demonstrating the strong underlying bias holding women back. At such a critical junction in the birth of our startup, we were concerned that being pregnant would add an extra layer to the bias we would already be facing.
Why can’t we be both?
What we found was that some people, like Odile Roujol (our advisor and former CEO of Lancome), were even more impressed with our drive and ambition to create a great company and be great moms. After all, why can’t we be both?
Making the right partnerships when it comes to investors can have an even bigger impact than hiring the right people. Investors will be there with you for the long haul. If you just chase after the money, you’ll be in for a lot of difficulties down the road. What you need are investors who really believe in you and your vision.
3. Will we actually have time to spend with our growing family?
They say when you’re an entrepreneur your business is your life. This doesn’t mean your family can’t be part of this life. My co-founder and I don’t distinguish between work and personal life; working in our own space we have the flexibility to combine both.
A startup is like a family, and that’s one of its competitive advantages. If you develop a strong professional and personal relationship with your team, you’ll be able to trust and rely on each other. But this isn’t just a one-way relationship; when you hire great people who are committed to helping you build your vision, you also need to give back by providing an environment that’s supportive and flexible.
Give back by providing an environment that’s supportive and flexible.
I really admire companies that have been pioneers in pushing for actual work/life balance options. For example, Patagonia has provided on-site childcare since 1983. Parents work right next door to where their children are playing and learning, making it possible to check in on them and have lunch together every day. Netflix offers new moms and dads up to 1 year of paid leave.
It’s initiatives like these that are helping to change bias against mothers-to-be. Companies lose so much talent by not providing the flexibility that enables both mothers and fathers to continue their careers; offering that support is just good business sense.
Our final lesson…
When you’re an entrepreneur, your company is like your baby. Rather than harming your image as a CEO, being a great parent should be a further sign of your ability to develop, grow and nurture your business.
There are so many CEO/fathers, including Elon Musk, Tim Cook and Mark Zuckerberg. Their ability to lead a company is never questioned based on their parenthood, is it? Even if we believe that as a society we have evolved our thinking to include women as equal members of the workforce, this is still not the reality. Women still receive this kind of bias.
Ultimately, my co-founder and I learned that the best way to break down the “maternal wall” is by pushing through it — and proving that you can build a successful startup and be a mom.
Ming Zhao is the Founder & CEO of Proven, the world’s first skincare line to combine machine learning and data science to create customized products for consumers. She holds an MBA from Harvard Business School and has over a decade of experience in business strategy, investing and business development. She’s on a mission to support and encourage more women to take on entrepreneurial roles.
I love problems. My goal is that by the time you finish this article, you’re going to get excited about whatever problems you are facing right now. Because when you see problems for what they really are — opportunities — you will start welcoming them rather than avoiding them.
I wasn’t always excited about problems. I used to dream of the day when I would finally “arrive,” and all problems would magically disappear. Sounds silly, but unless you have already reprogrammed your brain to love problems, you too may think that people you look up to never face them at all.
Social media, which I live, breathe and bleed professionally, is much to blame. Even the most transparent of entrepreneurs and public figures don’t put all their problems on social media — nor should they. However, this selective sharing suggests to onlookers that once they reach this level of success, problems disappear. When they realize that the problems only get bigger, a feeling of panic or failure often arises.
Understanding Your Brain
Before we can retrain the brain to love problems, we must first understand why the brain fears them. It’s not just society that teaches us to avoid problems. It’s already programmed in our brain; the amygdala, to be exact. This small, almond-shaped part of the brain is responsible for the fear we experience when, say, a client expresses that they don’t like our work.
Even a mildly worded dislike to the tune of “I don’t like the colors you used” puts us in a “fight or flight” response. We either want to battle them on the subject — or run away and never see that client again. That can snowball into being deathly afraid of opening your emails, or dealing with clients ever again. Both responses are as unreasonable as the initial fear they cause. But the amygdala doesn’t know that an email from an unhappy client is not a roaring lion chasing after us. To this ancient lizard brain, the two incidents are equal.
Keep in mind that the amygdala plays a crucial part in our survival. It helps us never put our hands on the hot stove — because we did it once and we know it hurts a lot. It helps us stay away from toothy, aggressive animals — because Betty the dog bit us when we were five, and we know it hurts a lot. While those are useful, the amygdala also “remembers” the sting of rejection, the discomfort of confrontation, etc. And it doesn’t categorize the level of danger. Therefore, a confrontation with your boss or client is the same to the amygdala as the confrontation with Betty, the toothy dog.
You can turn problems into progress.
This unreasonable fear makes problems seem undesirable. But by retraining your brain, you can turn problems into progress.
The Brain Doesn’t Know It All
Left to its own devices, the brain is a reactive machine. You give it a stimulus and it reacts to it. Hot stove — jerk hand back. Angry client — must fight (or run away). But as intelligent business babes, we know that responding to stimuli is significantly more effective than reacting to them. We must manually reprogram our brains to respond, which we will start to do in the next section.
One of the hardest aspects to reprogram is the practice of welcoming problems rather than fearing them. This is largely because we will always be surrounded by prophetic apocalyptics. The news will continue to tell us that another economic crash is coming, and how scary that is. Your friends and family will continue to tell you how risky your business idea is, and that you should get a “stable” job.
You can’t change them. You can only control yourself.
You can only control yourself.
Ironically, the fear that we create by spreading these types of news stories is, in part, what makes the economic crashes worse than they have to be. This fear makes people react; it makes them panic, sell their shares and the market tanks. Ultimately, it creates opportunities for people who respond, rather than react. The level-headed investor waits for these moments to buy shares, real estate and any market-effected assets at dirt cheap prices.
On a bigger scale, market crashes (a problem) also create opportunities for new economies, like the laptop entrepreneur movement, to arise (progress). Problems, big or small, present an opportunity for us to evolve. And evolution, or progress, makes us happy. Therefore: mo’ problems, mo’ happiness.
Problems are best tackled when we are excited about solving them, rather than fearing their impending doom. To get excited about our problems, we must first retrain our brains.
How to Retrain Your Brain
While we cannot go back in time and change those life-defining experiences, we can retrain the amygdala. Like a mother showing her child that airplanes are nothing to be afraid of — even when she dislikes flying — we must be brave and show the amygdala that the client won’t bite.
Get comfortable with F.E.A.R.
One of my favorite acronyms for fear is “False Emotions Appearing Real.” Unless your life is in physical danger, the fear you feel is just your lizard brain thinking you’re being chased by a lion. Anytime I feel that way, I like to thank my amygdala for trying to protect me and ask myself: what am I really afraid of? Pinpointing a past experience and its outcome allows us to realize two things: (1) Something similar happened before and I lived to tell the tale and (2) I am older, wiser and I can now resolve this better than before.
Learn to breathe.
Another thing our bodies do automatically is breathe — but they don’t always do it optimally! Many of us are shallow breathers. Mix that with a dash of anxiety and a splash of overthinking, and you have yourself a recipe for a panic attack. I am a shallow breather myself, so I’ve learned to breathe through my problems. As soon as I feel any anxiety or fear coming on, I breathe in on a slow count of 6 and exhale fully on a slow count of 8. I like to think of the exhale as expelling any fear I have over the problem at hand. In with the good, out with the bad.
As you are breathing, remember to relax into circumstances. Even though you may not want to be in that situation, you are in it and you are faced with a problem or an opportunity — it all depends how you approach it!
Get excited about your problems.
There is no trick to this one and it will feel awkward at first. But trust me: it will change your life. Any time a problem comes up, our natural reaction is something to the tune of, “Oh fudge! What now? Why me?” We need to change it to, “Heck yeah! This is my opportunity to learn and move up in life. Let’s get this solved!”
This is my opportunity to learn.
Making this transformation requires deliberate choices. Every time you face a problem and are about to have your natural reaction, you must deliberately switch it to the one you’re learning — excitement about the problem at hand! As I said, it will be awkward, but you must persist. It’s important that you do this every time as it requires compound effect to really work. The ‘compound effect’ dictates that if you do a small step consistently, it will equal big results. For instance, if you work out every day for 90 days, you will see much better results than going once a week for 90 days.
Be patient with yourself.
Your brain has been in “freak out” mode for however many years you have been alive. You will not retrain it in one day. You will slip up, you will get scared, and most importantly — you will succeed. But the latter will only happen if you keep working on it and give yourself a pat on the back every time you try.
Now get out there and face your problems with joy. You’ve got this.
With the new tax law mostly coming into effect this January, the Congress added a new Section 199A. This section allows qualifying tax payers to deduct 20% of their “qualified business income” for the first time. What this means is, at its most simple, a qualifying taxpayer who has “qualifying business income” of $100,000 would only pay tax on $80,000. But many requirements must be satisfied, and big changes still loom on the horizon.
It’s essential that you understand what this new law means.
While it might not be the most thrilling topic to read up on, it’s essential for your own success that you understand what this new law means for you and your business. Aside from the tax rate, here are four other areas of most people’s lives that are likely to be affected.
1. Self-Employed Persons – A Tax Deduction
One of the most significant sections of the recent tax reform is the addition of a Qualified Business Income Deduction, which provides a reduced tax rate to certain businesses. This deduction may be as great as 20% of the business net income.
Calculating the actual deduction can be complex.
However, calculating the actual deduction can be complex as Congress provided several factors, including income, the profession, amount spent on wages and property acquired as factors in determining the deduction.
2. Owning a Home
Owning a home in California, New York and in other high property value states has just become more expensive.
Deductions for state income and local (sales and property) taxes paid are now capped at $10,000 combined, which will profoundly impact taxpayers in states with high home values and property taxes. In California, for instance, the residents pay some of the highest state income taxes in the country. This means that their tax deductions for the taxes they pay are severely limited; thus, their tax bill will likely increase where applicable.
3. Having Children
Under the previous tax law, families could claim a $1,000 credit for every child under the age of 17. This credit began to phase out for couples earning more than $110,000 per year. The credit has now been doubled to $2,000 per child, and the phase out threshold has been raised from $110,000 to $400,000. For people who don’t earn enough in a given year to pay taxes, they can still claim the credit, but their child tax credit refund is now limited to $1,400 per year. Note that the new law also changes the guidelines for 529 education savings plans, which may now be used to pay tuition at private schools and religious schools, and to cover homeschooling expenses.
4. Getting Divorced
The new tax law makes a fundamental change in the way that alimony is taxed. In any divorce commenced after December 2018, the spouse paying alimony cannot deduct it and the spouse receiving the money no longer pays taxes on it. The IRS claimed that 361,000 taxpayers had claimed an alimony deduction in 2015; this new tax law eliminates that deduction. This may make negotiations regarding spousal support more contentious.
The new tax law gave much more than it took away.
All of these big changes may require additional effort as you look to filing next year’s tax return, but don’t panic — overall, the new tax law gave much more than it took away, if you know how to take advantage of it! The tax penalty for lack of health insurance is eliminated, and individual tax rates are lower across the board, standard deduction amounts and the child tax credit increase, leaving more money in your pocket. However, if you rely on itemized deductions for things like state and local income tax, unreimbursed business expenses, casualty losses and spousal support [alimony] payments — all of which have been affected — to reduce your taxable income, you need to know how these changes affect you.
Thirty years ago, Steve founded what would become Moskowitz LLP (www.moskowitzllp.com) to help businesses and individuals navigate the complex tax code. Today, Steve and his team offer top-notch client representation because they want the new tax law to work for you. Contact Steve and his team today at 415-394-7200, or visit www.MoskowitzLLP.com to schedule a consultation and learn how to use the new tax law to legally minimize or eliminate your taxes if you qualify.
The Small Business Administration estimates that a third of all businesses fail in the first year; half by year five. One of the main reasons for these failures is a lack of capital, causing short- and long-term cash flow problems.
It can be tempting for a new business owner to want to open a flashy new office to court clients and add legitimacy to the endeavor — it certainly was for me when I started KardZee.com. But I also knew that meant additional financial risk. I mean, it’s hard enough to start a business without adding unnecessarily to the inevitable startup costs, especially when receivables often lag behind the payables in the early stages.
KardZee was just an idea in 2015. It started out as a consumer app for handwritten cards that you could create on your smartphone and send it to friends and family. The idea morphed over time, turning into a full-fledged marketing company that now targets upscale businesses that want to build personalized relationships with their clients for increased sales and retention. Using our technology, businesses can integrate this into their automated omnichannel engagement platform to build their company.
A fluid business model is not unusual for a startup.
A fluid business model is not unusual for a startup, particularly in the technology sector. But costs can really add up as you change your vision, so you have to look at how and what you spend your money on in different ways, in order to reduce expenses.
My husband and I looked at lots of options. The one that kept coming back to us was that we could rent a home instead of owning one. We could also forego the office space and go with a home office concept instead.
A few years ago, this would have been a bit of a challenge. Property managers frowned on renters who wanted to run a business out of their home.
For our startup, it was a tall order. After all, we needed to make a statement about our new business. Where we called home was also our base of operations. So it had to be business-friendly, and offer the amenities we needed like broadband and meeting/entertainment spaces.
Where we called home was also our base of operations.
The Cove at Tiburon in Marin County fit our needs to a tee. It was also conveniently located right across the San Francisco Bay. We knew from the start that it was a smart decision, both from a business and personal standpoint. The property offered us a nice blend of residential and business amenities, such as a clubhouse where we could film videos and podcasts for our KardZee YouTube Channel and LinkedIn page. The media room provided space for meetings where we could dock our computer and use the large screen monitor. As we continued to build our business, we found that our new home allowed us to reduce our reliance on coworking office spaces in San Francisco. Purchasing property, rather than renting this living space, simply wouldn’t have afforded us these options!
All these capabilities were on our wish list, but it took some legwork to find a good match. One of the big selling points for us was the marina. The Cove had a private marina, and we had a classic wooden 1965 sailboat that we used for both business and pleasure. We were able to move the boat outside our living room, and we’ve used it often to close a business deal with clients, investors, and partners.
Living and working in the same place has had its share of surprises — one of them being the realization that other entrepreneurs also lived at the property. I ended up connecting with several women entrepreneurs and before we knew it, we had formed our own support group to discuss issues and create connections!
Renting a home was a no-brainer.
When it comes to maintaining positive cash flow, renting a home was a no-brainer. In our case, a low deposit and monthly rent payments were far less than a mortgage on a comparable home. Moreover, renting also gave us the flexibility and scalability we wanted, both in living and working space. Living in Marin County, we ended up paying far less than we did for a small apartment in San Francisco, especially since Bay Area apartments are much smaller than our apartment — we even had to buy more furniture to fill the space.
We also don’t have to worry about maintenance. Home maintenance can suck up a lot of time and money, something that entrepreneurs never seem to have enough of. As a renter, everything is included in the rent, from manicuring the grounds to keeping the roof in good repair and the pool clean. As such, we can budget more predictably, since there are fewer unexpected costs. And the profits can all go right back into the business.
Yes, there are some advantages to owning a home, especially on the tax side. But for many, renting can be a smart option when trying to build a business. Best of all, after a long day cutting deals and wowing customers, nothing beats the commute. While others are stuck in an endless snarl of traffic, a comfy bed is just steps away from the office. And that, perhaps, is the best thing about combining work and play in today’s hectic business world.
Keverne Denahan is founder of KardZee, an early stage startup that helps businesses build relationships with their clients via an app that allows them to connect with their clients in new and memorable ways, improving customer service and generating more leads.
In the world of entrepreneurship, if you asked one hundred different people why they wanted to open a business, you’d most likely get one hundred different answers.
I have my own personal reasons for becoming a “serial entrepreneur” but I am also happy to join in this unpredictable journey alongside my partner. Starting a business is no easy feat. By launching multiple businesses with my wife, I’m often met with questions on how we fulfill a balance in our relationship and what other entrepreneurs should take into account if they’re thinking about doing so too.
First, I’d like to start off with the many benefits of running a business with my significant other:
We get to do life together every day
We implicitly trust each other
We have each other’s back
We get to share the struggles and celebrate the wins together every day
We are best friends — and who wouldn’t want to work with your best friend?!
So if you’re ready to take on starting a business and keep your relationship intact, here are some tips to ensure you can have a harmonious relationship in business and in love.
Make Them a Priority
You’ve heard the quote about how rarely on someone’s death bed do they regret not spending more time at the office. Same is true for business owners — I doubt any will wish they spent more time cleaning the floors.
So, what do you do? How do you create space for those who mean the most to you?
Little moments make all the difference.
Make sure that your significant other is always a priority and getting their needs met first and foremost. We get up, have coffee, exercise, always eat dinner together, and we take gratitude walks (or rides on our golf cart with a cocktail) each night after dinner where we both say three things we are thankful for that day.
Little moments like this make all the difference to establish each other as a priority and have some down time together.
Play on Each Other’s Strengths
I tend to be very detailed, whereas Stacey is not as detailed-oriented — except when she’s catering (a 20+ year business/hobby), planning an event, or planning a trip. We both know this about each other, so we set our expectations accordingly.
We both have our fair share of weaknesses and strengths, so we know how to distribute the workload and cater to where we excel. By working together on various projects, we’ve learned how to work alongside one another without getting in each other’s way.
Take the time to write out a list of strengths and weaknesses.
Taking the time to sit down and write out a list of strengths and weaknesses will do wonders. As long as it is communicated in a healthy way, there should be no problem with determining which areas of the business will be handled effectively by who.
If you let yourself, you can always keep saying, “Just one more email,” “just one more class,” “just one more process to build…” Which means your partner just gets the leftover crumbs from your time. The work will always be never-ending. You’re a business owner, for crying out loud… that’s part of what being an entrepreneur IS. So push away from the computer. Walk away from the business. Put the To Do list down. And schedule in time for those who really matter. You schedule time for business, right? So schedule “date nights” for your person.
Be in the Moment
Now that you’ve scheduled in your date night and are committed to making your partner your priority, make sure to be present in those moments. It is easy for your brain to whizz through what else needs to get done, but this isn’t the time for that.
Make sure to be present in the moment.
Put your phone down. Look in their eyes. Ask questions. Get to know them. Even after 50+ years of marriage, my mom and dad are still learning things about each other — and they will tell you they are more in love today than they ever have been, because they were serious when they committed to each other way back when.
Deeply embrace and invest in your chosen one while you have the time, and do whatever it takes to love them like they deserve. Your business will thrive with your significant other cohesively working by your side. Even if it doesn’t, isn’t it better to have your person to do life with — no matter what life throws at you?
We certainly think so.
Julie Weldon is not new to balancing multiple business endeavors. As both personal and professional partners with her wife Stacey Pierce, they co-host their own podcast GSD Entrepreneur, manage a business and consulting company A Salty Rim, and launched a Kickstarter campaign in September for O.M.E. Gear.
Everyone talks about social media these days — everyone wants to ‘go viral.’ We think a viral video will solve all our problems, bring in an audience, bring in sales, help us grow. And all of that may be true — but most people don’t consider the cost of that growth. Sudden sales can be great, but too much too quickly can decimate a fledgling business. It takes a lot of preparation, hard work, and seriously agile thinking to keep up with the growth of a viral video. We should know; it happened to us.
It takes seriously agile thinking to keep up with a viral video.
With virtually no initial investment, here’s how we took one pillow product sample and a 26 second video (that we shot ourselves at home with our kids on our phone) — and turned it into $1 million in sales in 30 days. Yep. Really. But the hardest part was not making those sales — the viral video pulled those in. The hardest part was keeping our business afloat (and keeping our customers happy) in the process!
Our first product, a “mermaid pillow” for kids, existed only in our imagination in October 2016. The fabric, a soft, reversible sequin that ‘flips’ when you run your fingers over it, had existed for years, and “mermaid pillows” wrapped in this fabric had been created already. But we saw an opportunity to create a kids’ version of this “mermaid pillow,” so we sent an email to our manufacturer describing our idea — that we wanted these reversible sequins on the back of the pillow, and a soft cover for kids, with an actual illustration of a mermaid print on it.
Two weeks later, in early November, we got a knock at our front door from our mail carrier. Our 5- and 7-year-old rushed to the front door and ripped upon the DHL package that, in less than 72 hours, had traveled from China to Omaha. A few anxious seconds later, they unwrapped what has since become our best selling pillow: our *Imagine Mermaid Pillow.*
For the next hour, our kids were mesmerized. They drew words into the sequins; they played tic-tac-toe; and occasionally they even shared it with their younger twin brothers (occasionally — they were having a lot of fun themselves!).
The sample pillow was almost perfect. While playing with the sequins, our oldest daughter Alayna cooed, “I love the way it feels….” It just sounded so joyful, so authentic, that we thought, “Hey — let’s get that on video!”
This led us to scripting, shooting, and editing a :26 second video “commercial” with our iPhone, capturing how much our kids loved their new mermaid pillow.
That same night, we uploaded the video to Facebook. When we woke up the following morning, the video had been watched over 50,000 times. Four weeks later, it had been watched over 5 Million times. It spread almost entirely organically: friends sharing with friends, commenting, and liking it.
We had a viral video! Every business’s dream, right?
We had a viral video! Every business’s dream, right?
But with the success of our video, we also had a major problem. We had tens-of-thousands of customers wanting to order the mermaid pillow — and all we had was a single sample.
This is where your choices can make or break your success from virality. If we had sat back, overwhelmed, and just said we’d try again later — we might never have had the same chance. We might never regain those customers or sales. We had to take the opportunity before us.
So we came up with a plan. Using the e-commerce platform Shopify, we created an “Imagine Mermaid Pillow” product with a message: “This pillow is available for preorder and will be delivered in 4 weeks.” This allowed us to sell the product, collect payments, and then use the money from these payments to pay our manufacturers to produce the pillows.
We were so proud of this approach — and it worked really well at first. Then, two weeks into taking orders, we faced another challenge that almost broke us.
By then it was only weeks before Christmas, and all the sales were almost exclusively Christmas presents. We’d only imagined the product sixty days earlier, and we’d already sold 20,000 mermaid pillows — we’d taken the orders, and customers had made their payments.
Then, we got the email: “We’re sorry, but we can only produce 5,000 pillows for you before Christmas.”
This meant that we were looking at the prospect of refunding 15,000 preorders, which would be a massive disappointment to our new customers, especially just ahead of Christmas. We could lose 75% of these customers and our new business might never take off. Again, we had to be agile. Which other companies could we engage?
After all-night conversations with multiple factories in the USA and China, the outlook was bleak. We even began putting together our own team of sewers and assembling the pillows here in Omaha. But getting the raw materials to Omaha, and getting the finished pillows to our customers before Christmas, was not realistic…there just wasn’t enough time.
Then, at the last minute, we were able to get commitments from four overseas manufacturers — and, incredibly, they worked together the following two weeks to get us the extra 15,000 pillows just five days before Christmas! Problem solved, right?
But one problem just leads to another.
We could have given up.
How were we going to get the product shipped from Omaha to our customers? With only five days? Again, we could have given up — but again, that would have been squandering a serious opportunity. So we dove in and pulled out all the stops; we recruited about a dozen friends, and friends of friends, to help us package and ship these pillows to our customers. In one day, we shipped 7,200 orders. The next day we shipped almost 5,000, and the remaining shipped out just three days before Christmas. Our entire 1,500 square foot office was packed with pillows, and the post office sent semi-trucks throughout the day to pick up the packages. When the last package went out the door on December 22nd, we were were ecstatic, and exhausted, and we could sleep easy knowing that our customers would get their pillows before Christmas.
Over the past 18 months or so, we’ve created dozens of new pillow designs: dinosaurs, superheros, unicorns and others. We’ve added accessory products, such as matching bracelets, which later appeared on NBC’s Today Show. Our girls, now 7- and 9-years-old, and our 3-year-old twin boys, remain active in our business. To this day they continue to help with scripting and shooting the “commercials,” shipping the pillows to customers, and even jumping in on customer service.
We’ve also made giving back a big part of who we are. Donating thousands of pillows each year to Children’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, and others has really given us even more of a purpose — it’s helped us shape our “why.”
Looking ahead, we’ve got a number of new products we’re creating, but I’m most excited about a product we’re calling ecommkids.com.
This is an online course, for kids ages 5-14+, that walks them through creating and selling their own mermaid pillow on our website. We’re having more fun with this project than any other in memory — it’s energizing working with these kids, and we’re constantly amazed by their creativity.
None of this — our business expansion, charity, or ecommkids.com — would have been possible if we’d looked at that video and said ‘we can’t meet that need.’ None of it would have been possible if we’d allowed the growth from our viral video to smother us — and it almost did. As you develop your marketing plan, consider how you might deal with virality. Let me tell you, things would have been a lot easier if we’d done some prep beforehand. Can you establish a plan with manufacturers? With your PR team? With your employees? Every business is different, so figure out ahead of time what the best strategy for you will be — and you’ll not only survive a viral video, you’ll thrive.
Tom Sailors, founder of Mermaid Pillow, invested time in mastering entrepreneurship. With each product they’ve released, he has been the mastermind behind marketing and advertising to core demographics. From researching what sells, to designing with both parents and kids in mind, to targeting customers via Facebook ads, Tom is the definition of an entrepreneur and wears every hat.