Chic Perk: Be Fabulous with Luax Cosmetics

Luax Cosmetics is offering all CWIB Members 15% OFF any orders , they have a fabulous selection filled with bright, edgy, sophisticated colors! Enter Coupon Code: CWIB, offer expires 8.01.12.  Visit www.luaxcosmetics.com

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Chic Fashion Inspiration for the CWIB

Whats your Business look? Are you modern, Chic, Daring with an edge, Clean Cut? As for me, I dont have a look Per se, I basically dress according to my mood and how I am feeling that day!  Check out the different Chic Inspirations and Tell me which one best fits you?

Edgy but Clean

Modern Chic

Soft, Neutral Tones

Business Savvy Chic

Whats your look? First Impressions are Everything when you’re trying to Build and Network your Business.  So youre not sure what your look is? Dont Panic! Fashion inspiration is everywhere, visit  Pininterst at http://pinterest.com/ or you can even create a LookBook, visit  http://lookbook.nu/ and find some Chic Inspiration!

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Chic Events

Chic Events has been updated, please click for more information.

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CWIB Network wants to wish Everyone a Happy Fourth of July!

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Chic Inspiration: Continue to Dream Big!

Chic Inspiration: Continue to Dream Big!.

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Chic Inspiration: Continue to Dream Big!

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Chic Tips to grow your Ecommerce Business

How important is ecommerce to your business?

According to reports from comScore, online sales hit $38 billion in the first quarter of 2011, up 12 percent from the same period in 2010; by the third quarter, sales had already risen to $48 billion. And the notoriously big-spending holiday season broke records this past November/December. On Cyber Monday in 2011, online shoppers spent a record-breaking $1.25 billion. By 2015, annual ecommerce sales are projected to hit $278.9 billion.

The ecommerce barrier to entry continues to get lower as more tools pop up to help even the most tech-aversive entrepreneurs go digital. “Almost anybody can set up an online store,” says Mark Hayes, head of marketing and public relations at Shopify, which helps business owners establish their own online stores. “You don’t need to raise capital or hire expensive designers and programmers. You can literally go from concept to commerce in just a few minutes for almost no money and with no technical background. It’s called the ‘democratization of ecommerce,’ whereby what used to cost thousands of dollars and take months of preparation is now more of an afterthought to the development of a product or service. This allows entrepreneurs to focus on doing what they do best and not worry about the complications of ecommerce.”

Hayes says that business owners can no longer afford to ignore the myriad benefits of selling online. “With an ecommerce store, your business is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. You don’t pay rent or the salaries of sales associates. You don’t have any geographical limitations that restrict your customer base, which means you can sell to any country in the world, any time zone and in any language. Also, with shipping companies like ShipWire and Amazon Fulfillment you don’t need to worry about storing or shipping your product. You can automate nearly every aspect of the business.”

So now that you’re convinced, what’s the best way to get started in the ecommerce world? Here are five things you need to know.

1. Understand that ecommerce transcends “products.”

If you’re running a business based on services rather than physical products, you may not think folding ecommerce into your business is relevant. While the concept of ecommerce started with physical goods such as books, CDs, DVDs, software, apps, games and other goods, it can now be used to sell all types of professional services too. “Small businesses offering yoga classes, graphic design packages or game tickets are using ecommerce as a payment collection channel for services that may never ship, but will be consumed in a separate physical location,” Joe White, co-founder, COO and CFO of Moonfruit, a company that helps entrepreneurs set up and maintain their business websites, says. “This opens up ecommerce to all businesses. So, if you don’t think it’s for your business, think again!”

Dave Radparvar, founder of Holstee, a clothing and accessories company that curates rotating collections of products founded in 2009, feels that small-business owners also need to go beyond just peddling products and sell their company’s values as part of the ecommerce experience, particularly when communicating through their social media channels. “We rarely post our own products on Twitter, Facebook or our blog,” he says. “Our customers can see those on our site. We use social channels to have conversations about videos, books or photos that represent our values. It all comes down to recreating the in-person sales experience and packing all our values, loves and goofiness into our online presence.”

2. Embrace the shift.

2011 was a particularly explosive year for social and ecommerce, with huge numbers of entrepreneurs relying on websites, mobile devices and Facebook shops to sell products and services. As online sales continue to grow, the market share of sales by the top 25 online stores fell to 67.7 percent this past year, which means opportunities are opening up for smaller retailers. Additionally, U.S. mobile commerce grew to $6.7 billion in 2011, up 91 percent from 2010. “In 2011, the priorities of small businesses progressed from controlling their presence and managing brand identity to boosting their sales,” White says. “Ask yourself how you would like your business to make money on the Web. Online platforms use a number of methods to focus on money-making: traditional ecommerce, where people can buy products or services online using electronic payment; ad-supported platforms, which offer a service or content funded by commercial advertising; paywalls and micropayments, which allow sites to monetize individual units of content.”

Craig Dalton, president of DODOcase, a company that makes iPad cases using traditional bookbinding techniques, adds that combining an online ecommerce solution with personalized offline manufacturing, marketing and sales techniques is also critical to seizing opportunities for growth.  “One way to maintain an advantage includes thinking about building local and using resources in your community that may be underutilized in a shifting economy,” he says. “The net result can be quicker time to market, superior quality and a story with legs.” Still, he warns business owners against trying to follow every trend that comes along. “Focus on a manageable number of initiatives in any given time period,” he says. “It is easy to see the 100 things you could be doing to improve your business. What is hard is picking the five things to tackle first and doing them well.”

3. Retain the bargain hunter, but avoid the cheapskate.

Historically, consumers have proven themselves to be bargain hunters. While focusing solely on price when marketing products — and particularly, on offering the cheapest, most rock-bottom prices around — can cheapen small-business owners’ products and services and attract disloyal customers that will abandon ship the second they see a lower price tag elsewhere, they still need to be aware of consumers’ tendencies to look for a “deal.” “Consumers focused on finding the best deals in 2011 and 2012 will continue on the same bargain-hunting path,” White says. “Buyers browse in stores to see and touch the physical goods, then search and purchase them online looking for the best price available. Small businesses need to take charge and be sure to retain customers by being accessible via mobile, social and Web channels and by ensuring their customers know the correct URL to visit in extending their physical store experience online. Don’t become a showroom for someone else’s sales!” But how, as a small-business owner, can you weed out the flighty cheapskates? According to Radparvar, it’s about being authentic and rewarding the best customers. “Find your most passionate and dedicated customers and fans and celebrate what they do as much as they celebrate what you do,” he says. “However, above all, be authentic. It is important to have an authentic voice and personality that your customers can connect with, and to be continuously fostering and keeping your finger on the pulse of those connections.”

Patrick Buckley, “chief DODO” at DODOcase, points out that in order to attract and keep customers and clients who will stay true to you, you also need to pay close attention to the different signals of client retention. “There are some amazingly powerful tools like Google Analytics that are imperative to learn how to use,” he says. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed by how much information these create, so hone in on the important signals. ‘Bounce rate’ is a great indicator of the interest level of your visitors. A high bounce rate can mean you aren’t attracting the right customers to your site or that you need to make some changes or updates to products or services to make the offering more interesting. ‘Conversion rate’ shows the amount of friction your customer is experiencing. If you have a low conversion rate, it can be helpful to walk through your check-out flow and see what can be removed to make it easier for customers to complete their purchase. And ‘average $ per visitor’ is a good ballpark figure that helps you understand how much you can afford to spend on driving a customer to your site and can be useful as a guide to making marketing decisions.”

4. Get social.

Social media outlets are an essential supplement to ecommerce because they add interactivity and share-ability to the traditional buy/sell structure. Studies from Nielsen and other professional research firms continue to show that people trust the recommendations their friends make them online more than they do other promotional strategies. To White, this makes sense. “Why would you trust an advert or even a third-party endorsement when you can access unbiased advice from the people you know in real life?” he asks. “Research found that more than 50 percent of Facebook fans and 67 percent of Twitter users are more likely to make a purchase from the brands they follow than from another brand. Data from our customers shows sales via Facebook stores at 5 percent of all sales versus 2 percent on mobile, so we’ve already seen it making progress.”

Chris Peters, founder of Opena Case, a company that designs cases for the iPhone with built-in bottle openers, says that he started building a social community through Facebook and Twitter before the product even launched, which gave the first customers a public venue to immediately start buzzing about the product and recommending it to friends. “Giving customers the chance to share with their friends that they ‘just bought the World’s coolest iPhone Bottle Opener case’ on Facebook or Twitter has 10 times the value of us placing a paid advert saying the same thing,” he says. “When a referral comes from a trusted source such as a friend or family, you’re way more likely to check it out and potentially purchase it. Before social networks you used to rely on friends recommending products and services by word of mouth. Let’s say you’re in the market for a new pair of shoes and a friend recommends a particular brand or model. When you finally make it to the shoe store, you will be more inclined to search for that brand — if you can remember the name of it. Social networks allow you to do the same, but with a wider reach and instant response.”

5. Go mobile.

Thanks to the explosion in popularity of smartphones and apps, mobile is becoming another valuable tool for business owners. Almost half of mobile subscribers in the United States own a smartphone, and savvy companies are reaching consumers wherever they go. “The popularity of mobile should not be taken lightly by small businesses, as 2012 is predicted to include an increase of device proliferation –- more mobile apps, more tablets and more Internet-connected devices,” White says. “Make sure you have a site that can publish to different devices or even develop an app of your own.”

But Radparvar stresses that keeping mobile and social media interactions as personal as possible instead of getting too caught up in the excitement of the technology is critical. “As an online shop, connecting with our community through social media has been paramount to everything we do at Holstee,” he says. “Since we do not have the ability to interact with our customers face-to-face in a physical location, social media has been an essential tool to recreate that interaction online. It is important for us that our customers can get the full scope of the Holstee experience and our personality through our social channels. For us, a significant part of building a brand and solid community support has come from these connections.”

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/23/ecommerce-5-things-you-need-to-know_n_1413544.html?ref=small-business

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Balancing Career, Family and Me Time

Do you Feel like your life is out of balance? Too much work on your plate? Too many  demands from your family? No time to do it all—let alone do it well or steal an  hour of “you time”? Then dont feel like you are alone! As a Business  Owner, Mom and Wife, I rarely have time to squeeze in for Me Time! However, I know the importance of having that me time,  so I make it a part of my schedule. Otherwise, Im left feeling overwhelmed, burnt out and unhappy.  According to Recent research has shown that women today are less happy than they have been over the past 40 years. There are many theories about why, but lack of free time can be a major reason. <— This  confirms the importance of taking time each day to do something for yourself.

But how can you make it happen?

Make Yourself a Priority

First, realize how important it is!  If youre like the other millions of women including myself, you may feel guilty putting yourself first, But think about it this way,  if you are not healthy, then you can not provide for your family. And besides, taking care of yourself will make you a better parent and partner and Business Owner.  Not only that, You’ll be more fun to be around and more responsive to your family.”

OK, so you’re convinced. It’s time to take time for you. Now, when can you fit it in? Don’t wait for the time to just magically appear. It won’t.

Schedule Your “Me” Time

Make your free time as important as the pediatrician’s visit, the conference call, and your meeting with the contractor. Treat it just like any other appointment.  Try to find at least half an hour to an hour every day for you. It doesn’t have to be all at once. And before you decide what you’re going to do with the time you’re building into your schedule, promise yourself that you won’t waste it.

Here are some ways you can incorporate “Me Time” in your schedule Daily!

If You Have 5-10 Minutes

  • Sit on the porch with a cup of coffee and the newspaper. Or a cup of coffee and no newspaper. Just watch the clouds go by. No phone or calendar allowed.
  • Call a friend to chat. This doesn’t mean planning the bake sale or organizing the neighborhood watch — just talk, without an agenda.
  • Move. Get up from your desk, stretch, and walk around the block or up and down a flight of stairs.
  • Breathe deeply. While you’re sitting in your office, car, or home, focus on breathing slowly and gently for five minutes. It’s OK if your mind wanders a bit, but don’t start planning what you have to do next — just follow your breath.
  • Pet your pet. Focus for five minutes on cuddling with cat or dog. You’ll both feel better.
  • Put on your iPod and hit shuffle. Then just sit and listen.

If You Have 15-30 Minutes

  • Read one chapter of a book you’ve wanted to make time for. Keep a basket in your office or living room with a good book, magazine, crossword puzzle, or other short escapes.
  • Find a nearby park and go for a brisk walk.
  • Putter. This doesn’t mean cleaning the house or organizing your kids’ clothes. Instead, it means doing little things at home that you enjoy, like trimming the rose bush and putting together a bouquet for your office or kitchen.
  • Soak in the tub. If you’re a parent, make sure another adult is on duty to make sure no one’s going to yell “Mom!” Plan so you’ll have some fabulous bath goodies on hand. Don’t forget a glass of ice water or wine.

If You Have 30-60 Minutes

  • Get a massage, a facial, or a mani-pedi.
  • Take a nap.
  • Schedule a class that you’ve always wanted to take just for fun. For instance, Amy Tiemann took an improv comedy class to get a night to herself after her daughter was born.
  • Plan a long walk with a friend. Commit to it early in the week and honor the commitment. You’re not training for anything, you’re not trying to race-walk, you’re just taking a long stroll with a good friend and enjoying the day.

Add your own favorites to these lists. Whatever you choose to do with your “me” time, make it relaxing and restorative.

Feel free to leave some suggestions below!

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Grant Opportunity- $250,000 Sponsored by Living Social and Chase Bank

 What is the Grant?  What is the Grant Pool?

Chase has designated a minimum of $1 million and a maximum of $3 million (“Grant Pool“), with funds to be awarded to at least four (4) and up to  twelve (12) small business owners (“Grant Recipient(s)“), each Grant Recipient to receive $250,000 (“Grant“), selected in accordance with these Program Rules. The Grant Pool will be at least $1 million ($250,000 to each of four (4) Grant Recipients), and may be increased by an additional $2 million – up to a maximum of $3 million (each additional $250,000 increasing by one (1) the number of potential Grant Recipients) based on consumer participation in the Program. To be considered as a potential Grant Recipient, small businesses must submit the Application, be deemed eligible and receive at least 250 Votes, all as described below.   The purpose of the Grant is to enable a small business to execute a business plan that will result in expansion and growth of the small business, including for example, a new location, equipment, product or distribution channel.

To be eligible, you must meet all of the requirements below:

  • be a for-profit only organization organized and resident in the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia;
  • have been actively engaged in its current business activity for at least two (2) consecutive years immediately preceding the start of the Program;
  • be owned by natural persons who are  legal residents of the fifty (50) United States or the District of Columbia, and who are at least eighteen (18) years old (or as required by the laws in your state of residence)(Note:  A sole-proprietor shall be deemed a business and not a consumer for purposes of the Program);
  • have a valid employer identification number or taxpayer identification number;
  • employ less than one hundred (100) employees for the duration of the Program;
  • not be owned by an employee of Sponsors or  a company  wholly owned by  a Sponsor or Sponsor’s parent company (an “affiliate“); and
  • produce evidence of the foregoing upon request.

In the Application, you will be asked to provide, at a minimum, the following information:

  • business owner name;
  • business email and phone number;
  • business entity type (e.g., sole proprietor, partnership, corporation)and state of domicile;
  • years in business;
  • purpose of business;
  • number of employees ;
  • an Essay answering the questions described below detailing why you are applying for and how you would use the Grant; and
  • such other information requested by Sponsor to verify eligibility in accordance with the Program Rules.

If you believe your small business is eligible and wish to apply for a Grant, you must do the following:

  • visit the Program Registration site at www.missionsmallbusiness.com/registration and provide your business name and information, business address, industry type as well as contact name, title and email address, which will be posted on the Program Website;
  • read and agree to these Program Rules with the intent to be bound by its terms even if you are later found to be ineligible;
  • complete the Application and submit your Application;
  • obtain at least 250 Votes; and
  • be deemed eligible by the Sponsors.

Deadline: June 30th, 2012

Source: www.missionsmallbusiness.com

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Act like a Lady, Network like Men

Part V
Gisele L. Kennedy, PYT

Hey MIT’s, sorry it took me so long to post.  I thought I would do something a little different, take a break from my usual format and take the time to answer a question from one of our readers.  It goes a little something like…

…I a single parent of two girls have always had the ambition to start my own business; but I work and run a full house with a hectic schedule…where do I begin? I have a circle of like-minded people. I have the confidence but do I have what it takes to go for it. I’m pretty sure I don’t stand alone…Help a single parent out!!!!

Single Parent, after reading your question, one statement sticks out like a Vegas billboard.  You say you have the confidence and the circle of like-minded friends, but in the same breath you turn around and say, “…but do I have what it takes to go for it?”  Of course you do!!   Unfortunately, what you have done in those eleven little words is totally contradict your own belief.  Despite reading your whole question, all I hear is “I don’t think I have what it takes.”  Unacceptable!

Let me remind you that the focus of this segment of Chic Women in Business is to help empower women with an entrepreneurial spirit to step out on faith!  Additionally, we want you to push past the limits sometimes placed on women because of gender discrimination.  It’s about stepping outside of the box and getting creative about attacking roadblocks.  To that end, I am going to ask you to go back and read or reread the previous posts in the Act Like a Lady, Network Like a Man series.  I am also going to ask that you make sure you check the email sent to you by the administrator of this blog outlining some of the steps to take in an effort to get your business of the ground.

The remainder of this post will list a few pointers for those business moms who are precariously balancing family life and everything else under the sun.  Before I get to that, I want to tell you that children are resilient and they don’t really require much.  However, one of the best things you can provide them with is a strong example of what hard work and perseverance can do.   Although I am not a parent, I happen to know on good authority that most moms would love their sons AND daughters to have the pride and confidence it takes to pursue their hopes and dreams.   Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could be that example?   Think about that for a minute.   Imagine that speech they may make one day while proudly stating, “I owe it all to you Mom, what a strong example you were!”   Feels good doesn’t it?   So Single Parent, no excuses, let’s get crackin’!

Family First

  1. Pick your battles with your girls.  Some things just aren’t as important as chasing your dreams.  Where you would normally spend an few minutes here and there trying to get them to organize their rooms like you would like, maybe a best effort tidying will suffice in the meantime.
  2. Try to find a balance.  I know this is as elusive as a unicorn, but your best efforts will ensure that you get to address both family and business as much as you can.
  3. Be firm with boundaries.  When you are working on developing your business, let your girls, work and anyone else that wants a piece of you, know that you cannot be everywhere at once.
  4. Say bye bye to guilt.  I think that is self-explanatory.  I really cannot tell you how to feel, but I think that as long as your children’s basic needs are met and their day to day schedules aren’t disrupted too much, saying no sometimes, or even more than usual, will not kill them.  Mom has things to do too!

Building a Business

  1. Sacrifice.  I know it seems like you are already sleep deprived, but you may have to sacrifice a few more hours of shut eye.  Remember in my initial response, I asked you to brainstorm on when you have extra time to dedicate to pursuing your dream.  When we slackers are sleeping, you may have to be working.  Just remember, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
  2. Network aggressively.  Reread previous posts hereJ.  This will be even more important for those of us with busy schedules.
  3. Become knowledgeable.  I cannot emphasize this enough.  Subscribe to trade magazines in the area you are trying to pursue, conduct research and speak to people in your industry.  Know everything that there is to know about what you are doing.
  4. Believe in yourself whole heartedly.  Without a shadow of a doubt this is the most important thing I have to offer you.  I had a college friend who used to always say, “Believe it, receive it, aaacccchiiiievvvvveeeee it!”  She became a mom, works a full-time job and started an event planning business.  IJS!

Additional Links for Help on the Subject

–         http://voices.yahoo.com/are-single-mom-want-start-business-no-money-2048596.html

–         http://www.ehow.com/way_5367829_grants-single-mothers-starting-business.html

–         http://smallbusiness.chron.com/assistance-single-mothers-wanting-start-business-22407.html

http://www.cdfifund.gov/what_we_do/programs_id.asp?programID=7

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