It’s OK to Say NO

Time Face

Time is our most valuable resource, so it’s important that, just as we manage our finances, we know how to most effectively manage our time. We all have goals, and often we need to invest time (like we invest money) to achieve them. However, it’s important to recognize which activities are worthy of your time, and which are going to be drains on your day and/or your attitude. I understand that this may upset some people, but it’s ok to say “no” to people or activities that aren’t going to benefit your own interests.

Sometimes committing yourself to a conversation or activity that isn’t worthwhile to you can make you feel stuck since you’re not gaining anything from the interaction. Also- people can often tell when you’re not interested in being there. Even though you think you’re doing someone a service by taking the meeting, attending the event, or spending time doing something that you’re not interested in, your presence may come off rushed and ambivalent.

Additionally, that time could be better spent on things that will move you forward rather than being wasted on unproductive activities. Putting yourself in a position that isn’t worthwhile to you is only going to waste time, potentially cause resentment, and negatively affect the rest of your day. You have enough things in your life that cause anxiety, stress, discomfort, and displeasure, so why add more negativity by doing something you don’t want to do?

If it makes you feel good to say “yes”, then say “yes”, but it’s also okay to say “no”. Obviously it’s important to be a kind, helpful person, but you will become even more helpful and influential once you have focused on investing your time on growing toward your goals. Consider the old airplane safety adage: secure the oxygen mask on yourself first, then help others with their masks. Don’t feel selfish by turning down extra work that doesn’t directly help you along your path, because by designating that time to helping your own cause you can work toward being in a better position to make a larger impact down the road.

Understanding that your time is valuable, it’s okay to (nicely) say “no” to things that you don’t identify as a benefit to you or your ventures. This is something that can be difficult to do, and I certainly struggle with this on occasion because I want to be polite and helpful. The added stress, energy, sometimes gas expenses, and time lost is just not worth it. Learn to say no, and feel confident doing so.

 

 

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

Will you be my Friend? Getting Past the Awkwardness of Introductions

Regardless of the industry you’re involved in, networking is an essential activity that contributes directly to your success. Unless you’re a hardcore extrovert, networking and developing relationships with new people can be a bit daunting and/or anxiety evoking. Creating relationships with new people isn’t as easy as it was when we were young, when we could simply approach another kid on the playground and ask “will you be my friend”? However, making introductions with new people shouldn’t be as difficult as we make it out to be, and I’ll explain why.

handshake1. Everyone at a networking event is interested in networking. Greeting someone to introduce yourself isn’t an imposition on their time, it is exactly what you both are there for. Humans have an inherent desire to interact with other humans, and no one wants to stand alone at a mixer. In fact, the person you want to approach may be feeling just as timid and overwhelmed as you are. Typically people will be glad for the interaction, and will welcome your greeting warmly.

2. Nothing terrible can happen. In fact, only positive things can happen as a result of introducing yourself to someone new. You are practicing your networking skills and learning new approaches (or maybe practicing approaches that you may want to adjust next time). Each time you meet someone new you are building your network. Additionally, you may even achieve the desired result, whether it is creating a pathway for a new business deal, meeting a potential employer or client, having someone to sit with during the reception, etc.

3. Even if you don’t feel terribly confident, you can always fake it (‘till you make it). Tell yourself that you are the most confident, extroverted person in the room, and force yourself to go talk to someone. You will see that nothing awful will happen, and as a result, you will realize it’s not as hard as you originally thought. Then, the next person won’t be so intimidating, and each new introduction you force yourself to make will become easier and easier, until eventually the “fake” confidence becomes real.

Feeling confident in a networking setting isn’t something that happens immediately; it takes time and practice. By keeping in mind that it is a lot easier than it seems, and only good things can happen as a result, it will become more and more comfortable. So take a deep breath, keep your chin up, and go shake some hands!

 To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

How to be the Mind Behind “The Next Big Thing”

The overwhelming response I receive when I encourage hopeful entrepreneurs to pursue their dreams and create a start-up is “great- but how do I come up with an idea?” Starting a new venture isn’t as easy as simply deciding to begin; there needs to be a fabulous idea on which a business can be successfully built. Unfortunately, there’s no clear-cut process for stumbling upon “the next big thing.” However, there are a few tricks that great thinkers use to be receptive when inspiration strikes. Use these tools to innovate and develop your next big idea.

1. Carry a notebook with you everywhere. You  never know when inspiration will strike, so it’s important to be able to write down ideas and thoughts as they happen. You don’t need to spend lots of time developing them right when they happen, but if you write down your thoughts, you can refer back to them and spend time building out those ideas when you have time to focus on them.

2. Know your stuff. Many innovative ideas we have experienced in history came from a person (or team) who was incredibly knowledgeable in their given field. It’s critical to stay tapped into the latest developments, news, and trends that occur in your field so that you can identify patterns, weaknesses, and potential opportunities to revolutionize the industry (and make money as a result).

hand draws the big idea

3. Think about what frustrates you or challenges you each day. Focus on problems that are real; if they bother you, they probably bother other people. Therefore, if you are able to create a solution to one of these issues, you will likely have a market for your product or service. Solving a problem that people can relate to will ensure better chances of a successful business idea.

4. Utilize reverse engineering. Start at the end, and then work backwards. Sometimes it helps to visualize a problem already solved, and then take a step backward and analyze what needs to happen right before the issue is completed. Then, figure out what steps you need to take in order for that step to be resolved, and so on. By working backwards, you train your mind to look at a problem differently, and open up new ideas and new pathways of getting to the end goal.

5. Brain-dump. Throw out as many ideas and options as you can think of (even the wildly outrageous ones) and see what sticks. Never limit innovation by putting the kibosh on an idea before it’s been flushed out. Sometimes the craziest ideas are the most successful ones.

6. Think about using an existing platform or product in a different way. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to. Sometimes you can just use the wheel for something new in a way that people aren’t currently using it. This can save you time, money, and frustration, and can open up the doors to a fabulous new business idea.

7. Give yourself a break. Your mind does some of it’s best work subconsciously. You can’t force your mind to conceive “the next big thing.” Your brain is still working “behind the scenes” when your conscious mind is resting, or occupied with something else. Some of the best ideas happen in the shower, on a run, or even on vacation, so allow for some down-time, and be ready when inspiration strikes.

Wanting to be the mind behind the next “Facebook” or “Amazon” is a noble goal, and in today’s economy and society, it’s more achievable than ever. Don’t be too hard on yourself if the ideas don’t come flowing, because if it were easy, everyone would do it. However, by utilizing these tactics, and being innovative in your thinking, there’s no reason why you can’t be the mind behind “the next big thing!”

 

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

Why Your Goals Are Causing You to Fail

When I was working at a major online real estate network, my manager asked me what my sales goal was for the month. I told him my goal was $25,000, since that was my quota that month, and he shook his head. “No,” he said, “that’s way too low- I know you can do better than that.”

I was confused. I would be thrilled if I hit quota! It was challenging enough hitting my quota of $20,000 the month before, and that was my best month to date. I thought he was just putting pressure on me so our team might lead the sales floor in volume, and maybe that was what he was trying to do- but what he actually did was teach me an invaluable lesson in goal setting.

I responded that my goal would be $30,000 rather than $25,000, and he responded by challenging me and suggesting $40,000. Being competitive, I jokingly told him I would double my quota for the month and hit $50,000. He smiled, nodded, and told me to get back to work.

Goals On Dartboard Shows AspirationsThat month I doubled my previous (best) month in sales, and hit $39,000. Although I didn’t sell my arbitrary “quota” of $50,000, I breezed through my $25,000 quota and made a heck of a commission check.

So what does all this mean?

We place goals on ourselves that we view as a bit of a challenge, but still easy to achieve. We set goals that are comfortable because we don’t like to miss our targets and “fail”. In setting “comfortable” goals, we limit ourselves and condition mediocrity and a habit of settling. If I had stuck to my original “goal” of $25,000, I probably would have hit it, I certainly would not have pushed harder to get to $39,000. I wouldn’t have thought it was possible, and I would have been pleased enough to have skimmed by to quota.

However, when we push the boundaries of what we expect of ourselves, even if the goals seem out of reach, or even impossible, we can accomplish much more than we originally thought. Now, I must point out that the goals should be somewhat realistic and feasible (If I had set a goal of $200,000, I would have lost motivation and felt discouraged right from the start). But selecting a goal that seems just a bit out of reach can really create amazing results. Sometimes we don’t hit our goals right away, but with each attempt we inch closer and closer to success. More importantly, we train our minds not to sell ourselves short, and we switch our mindset from “here’s why this won’t work” to “here’s how this can work”. Now, as a small business consultant, I always tell my clients to be aggressive with their goals. It’s not failure if you are pushing hard and challenging yourself to achieve goals you think are just a bit out of reach. Perhaps they are (for now), but without trying to hit those goals, you risk the potential of never achieving them.

To quote Michelangelo, “The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

Spotlight- Grace Torgoley and Torgoley Distribution

This month, in honor of summertime and BBQ season, we have a spotlight on distribution entrepreneur / “domestic goddess”, Grace Torgoley, and her business, Torgoley Distribution. With endless energy and an easy going, loving attitude, Grace brings a family feel from her company to your  dinner table. 

Grace Photo1. What inspired you to get started with your venture? What drives you the most?

In my early 20s I was living in Chicago working for a recruiting firm.  This job gave me the confidence and knowledge I knew I’d need in the future.  Learning from some of the best recruiters in the business I got a pretty good foothold on talking to people about their backgrounds, hobbies, where they’re headed and how they plan to get there.  I’m a people person and my personality definitely fits my career path! Now, after 10 years staying home and raising my kids I’m ready to get back out there and create a name for myself in the world of BBQ!

2. What are your goals for your venture? Where do you see your company in 10 years?

In 1997, I met Eddie “Hoboken” McCarthy of Hoboken Eddie’s Sauces.  I instantly fell head over heels for his BBQ sauce, love at first taste! Not only did I  love his sauces, I had many other connections to him.  Eddie has known my family for probably 30 years, since before he started his business. 

Over the years Hoboken Eddie’s Sauces have won multiple prestigious awards yearly, just this past January, his Apple Brandy BBQ took home 1st place for “Fruit BBQ” at the Firey Foods Challenge in TX.  

Currently Hoboken Eddie’s sells 125,000 bottles of sauce a year on the East coast.  My goal is to double that in the next 5-10 years.  I know with a lot of determination and leg work it’s definitely possible.

3. What were your biggest challenges (either getting started, once you got started, or both)?

Trying to decide what path I’d like to go down, I know that Hoboken Eddie’s line of sauces would knock the socks off of most who try them!  I’ve always wanted my own business and I know that distributing this line of sauces would be a great way to make that happen and what better to line to bring out to the West coast than these sauces that I’m so passionate about.  I wanted to start this business with a friend of mine, but I soon found out that our goals were very different and I felt that it was best to just do it on my own and with the support and guidance from my husband. 

It was great how it all came together.  After figuring out my business name, filing all my papers, becoming legal with the State of California, finding a catering company to store my first skid, 20 cases of 17 different types of sauces. I was finally ready to walk out the door and introducing them the public.  I am a vendor at the Orange County Great Park Farmer’s Market in Irvine on Sundays and the Surf City Nights Farmer’s Market in Huntington Beach on Tuesday Nights.  Its been a lot of fun and I’ve met a ton of great people.  The rest of my time is spent finding retailers around OC, Los Angeles County, San Diego County and everywhere else I can get within an hour drive time. I know its a great time to be in the BBQ business with the summer right around the corner and knowing that 1 out of every 4 people in the US BBQ on the 4th of July.

Torgoley Logo4. What keeps you going when you are faced with challenges?

I’ve been in plenty of positions where I wasn’t passionate about the product.  Hoboken Eddie’s sauces are my favorite sauces, and I know that people will be returning for them.  I’ve already had return customers and it feels great to be giving them a high quality product I really love. Passion is the key, and people that talk to me know I love these products and my excitement and the flavors of the sauces ultimately sell them.

5. What is one company that you admire and strive to emulate, and why?

CPS, Inc. in Westbrook, IL will always be my home away from home. Doug Christensen started his company when he was 33 years old with a small group of men and women.  Now, 40 years later his company has 8 divisions with 70+ employees, placing thousands of applicants all over the nation. Doug has always been fair and ethical, demonstrating all the necessary personal and professional qualities to lead a great company.  I hope to have something like him! 

6. What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur who wants to start his/her own business?

Everyone is always being told to find something they love and have a passion for, something that makes them happy to provide to their clients.  If you do that, you’ll have it made! Plan your day wisely, make and change goals often, and keep your nose to the grind stone especially when you feel like giving up, because just beyond that obstacle is a small victory waiting for you!

 For more information about Grace Torgoley or Torgoley Distribution, visit www.torgoley.com

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

7 Qualities Every Leader Should Have

Being in a leadership position for a company of any size comes with great responsibility. The title of “manager” is not just about the amount of work you’re responsible for, but it’s also about leading and managing a team and being responsible for their ultimate success.

I’ve had experiences with management who were great at what they do, but were not great leaders. If you’re in a leadership position (or desire to be), it’s critical to have (or develop) some key qualities that will contribute to the motivation, productivity, and happiness of the team.

1. Be an expert in your field. It’s critical that you know your job, your company, your industry, your clients, and your team inside and out. You need to be very knowledgeable and well-rounded in order to guide and direct your group in the appropriate way and relate to the necessary key players.

2. Communicate effectively and confidently. As a leader, it’s critical that you are able to convey messages to a variety of people; your direct reports, of course, but also your higher-ups, clients, media, and others. You must be able to communicate your messages clearly and effectively (regardless of which channel of communication you are using) so people understand what you need to tell them. You must also be confident when you communicate so that people believe in your ability to convey what’s necessary.

Leadership Signpost Showing Vision Values Empowerment and Encouragement3. Know how to motivate different types of people. Being a leader means being able to motivate your team to work toward a common goal. However, not everyone responds to the same type of motivation. What works for some won’t work for others, so it’s important to be able to identify which motivational tactics work best for whom, and be able to implement those motivating forces for each member of your direct and extended team.

4. Offer feedback, both negative and positive. When you’re in charge of a team, it’s not uncommon for someone to fail to deliver the level of performance that is expected of them. However, it’s critical to be able to identify early on when things aren’t operating as efficiently as they should be. Delivering negative feedback requires confidence, a calm demeanor, and an eye on the goal. However, remember to give positive feedback when it is earned. When a team member goes above and beyond their responsibilities, hits a tough deadline, exceeds their sales projections, or makes a positive impact, it’s important to recognize them, offer praise, and let them know they are appreciated and valued. This will reward and affirm positive behavior and increase team morale.

5. Know how to delegate. You can’t do it all, and chances are you don’t want to. You have a team for a reason, so make sure that you allow others to take on some of the work and grow their skills professionally. People desire to feel like a part of the team, and they like taking on more responsibility in their roles. So let your team handle work that is within their scope, and also give them the appropriate resources and support to be challenged with more difficult projects.

6. Be a collaborative and helpful team player. Being a leader does not mean dividing all the work among your team and leaving none for yourself. As a leader, you must be dedicated and work hard on projects and tasks in order to set a positive example for their team. Additionally, great leaders are always prepared to multitask, or put their work on hold while they assist the needs of their team. Offer your ideas and solicit the ideas of your group; collaboration is important for a happy and productive team.

7. Walk the walk. Great leaders don’t just guide and support their team, they also embody the qualities and traits that they want their team to display. Maintaining integrity, knowledge, discipline, passion, and other desirable qualities is important, but as a leader, you also need to hit deadlines, communicate effectively, and take responsibility for your own work. Be a role model for your team. Conducting yourself in a way you expect of them will quickly earn you their trust and respect.

By embodying these qualities, your proactive and collaborative leadership style is sure to yield positive results for both you and your team.

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

8 Reasons Why You Should Start-Up, Starting Today!

For many people, the idea of creating something out of nothing is an incredibly exciting notion, however, the thought of leaving the stability and comfort of a full time job (and all that it entails) quickly puts the kibosh on that daydream. If you are one of those hopeful dreamers with great ideas, and you are wondering if you should take the plunge on that business you have always wanted to start, I say go for it! There truly is no time like the present, and I’ll give you several encouraging reasons why you should start your start-up today.

First and foremost, when you are working on your start-up, you are in complete control of doing exactly what you love. Your passions drive your ideas, and if you can create a sustainable business based on your own interests and excellent ideas, you are truly winning at your own life. Not to mention, there are few thrills that exceed the pride and elation you will feel when you watch your dreams become a reality.

hand draws the big ideaSecond, the world has always relied, and will continue to rely on the new and innovative ideas of people like you. Invention and creation keeps society progressing. If you have an idea that you think will benefit others, or you can satisfy an unmet need, make it happen! Take pride in knowing that you are contributing to the constantly evolving and ever-changing world in which we live.

Another often stated but very relevant and exciting reality of creating a start-up is that you have the opportunity to be your own boss. The lifestyle associated with creating your own business, although it can be very time consuming and will require lots of hard work, is incredibly flexible, and will allow you to be the master of your own schedule. If you are able to handle the organization and time management required for starting and running your own business, you will be able to enjoy the benefits of a flexible lifestyle, and the satisfaction of working for the coolest boss- yourself!

What’s great about living in today’s world is that thousands of people have already successfully, and just as importantly, unsuccessfully, created their own business.That means we are privy to tons of information and resources that make starting up even easierPractically anything you may need to research about your idea, creating a start-up, getting funding, writing your business plan, marketing your business, etc., can be found in a simple web search. (One of my favorite resources for getting started is the Small Business Administration www.sba.gov).

Additionally, with constant advancements and growing presence in web resources, applications, software, and even labor, start-up costs are getting lower and lower. People are starting their businesses with little to no capital, and enjoying inexpensive options for the things that do require funds.

Furthermore, if your business does require initial capital, there are Angel Investors and Venture Capitalists who are looking to invest in you and your ideas. Investors are constantly seeking individuals and teams who are passionate and knowledgeable, and have innovative and lucrative business ideas. If you have a fantastic business plan and persistent determination, there are investors who will want to meet you.Hard Work Easy Money Signpost Showing Business Profits

Since we’re talking financials, let’s not leave out one of the most exciting perks of starting up. You can make a ton of moneySince you’re getting in at the beginning of a new business, a growing with it, not to mention you (as the owner) will have control of most, if not all of the equity, the potential financial upside is massive. If your idea is well thought out, and you have a clear and effective revenue stream, you have the opportunity to earn a very healthy living. Of course there are great risks involved, but without risk, there is little reward.

The most rewarding aspect to many people is the learning experience, and the opportunity to try new things. When you create a start-up, your hands are involved in every portion of the business- from executive management, finance and accounting, to marketing, operations, and everything in between. You are forced to wear many hats at the beginning, and the knowledge and experience you gain from the process is invaluable.

If you find yourself reading this article, chances are you have already considered creating your own start-up, or dreamt of being an entrepreneur. I have learned that most things that we dream about don’t just happen on their own, but with passion, determination, persistence, and a little luck, you can take control of those dreams and start-up, starting today!

 

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.

6 Things to Consider Before Starting a Business

For many people, trying to decide if an entrepreneurial venture is worth pursuing is like standing at the edge of a high dive- they question if they should dive right in, or climb back down. The harsh reality is that many failed business ventures began and ended as an idea that needed a little more thought, and a little refining. Before plummeting off the high dive and falling in to the unknown, there are several questions you will need to ask yourself in order to prevent a painful belly flop, and dive into success.No diving sign

#1. Is there a need for this product or service? You want to create a business that makes life easier or more enjoyable for people, so make sure your business concept is serving the need of someone, or some group. There is no point creating something that people don’t need, because ultimately, if people don’t need (or want) it, they won’t spend money on it.

#2. Is there a customer segment for your product or service? People often think they know exactly what their customers want, but rarely take the time to talk to them and find out what they really care about. Your business doesn’t need to serve everyone, but make sure it will serve a segment of people who legitimately see the value in what you’re selling, and are able to purchase it. Once you establish there is a customer base for your business, you can start learning more about them and refining your business to appeal even closer to their needs.

#3. Are you operating in a “blue ocean”? Picture an ocean with sharks in a feeding frenzy over a small school of fish- that’s not where you want to start your business. If there are lots of other people or companies that are doing the same thing as you (or something similar) and selling to the same customers you are chasing, you are in a “red ocean”. Make sure your idea is different enough, or catering to a different customer segment, so that you can begin your company in a clear “blue ocean”, with little to no competition targeting the customers you want.

#4. Is this idea profitable? It’s critical to have a well thought out revenue stream for your business, and realistic goals and projections. Being profitable immediately isn’t necessary, as most businesses start out (and remain) in debt for a long time. However, if you can’t see the opportunity to shift out of the red and into the black in a reasonable timeframe, you may want to rethink that business opportunity.

Business Plan Showing Management Growth Strategy Solution       #5. Do you have the skills, resources, and ability to get started? Be very honest with yourself regarding your personal skills and strengths. Are they aligned with this business concept? Are you knowledgeable enough about the industry, clientele, and start-up process to feel confident getting off the ground? Often times, extensive research is required, even for experts, to position the business for a decent start. Also, be realistic about the financial requirements of the start-up and maintenance of your venture. Are you in a position to take the necessary financial risks? If not, are you able to acquire the funds through other avenues?

#6. Are you management material? Even if you don’t want to be the President or CEO of your company, it will take a great deal of leadership and management skills to get your idea off the ground. You will need to be able to delegate tasks to your team, network with the appropriate people, seek out and secure necessary resources, etc.  It takes tons of time, effort, teamwork, and devotion- make sure you can handle it.

In my other article, “Why you Should Start-Up, Starting Today!”, I encourage hopeful entrepreneurs to follow their dreams. I continue to support small businesses and start-ups, but I also encourage a well thought-out idea, and a meticulously crafted business plan prior to diving in. If you find yourself saying “yes” to the questions mentioned above, it may be time to step onto the diving board and take the plunge!

 

To see more posts from Breanna Bremer, please view her article library here.