This week’s episode of Dragons’ Den featured the best and brightest young entrepreneurs from across Canada, and it was fantastic. Shining examples included Julian Marchese, a 14-year-old financial whiz kid who successfully day trades after school, Nathan Blok, a 17-year-old competitive racer selling ad space on his Formula Four car, and Julia Kirouac, a 23-year old nutritionist who’s developed a line of healthy, vegan, gluten-free snacks. Arlene Dickinson summed up the mood in the Den when she said, “I feel good about the future of this country knowing it’s in the hands of entrepreneurs like you.”
My favourite pitch of the night came from two grade nine students, Daryn Pancer and Cole Zeldin, who did not get a deal. Their company, “Heads Up,” is based on a Bluetooth enabled baseball hat they invented. The Dragons’ loved the innovation, but not the product, and encouraged the kids to keep on designing and developing.
The point that hit home for me is when Arlene said, “Not every idea is going to be a home run. Maybe this isn’t the one – the key is to keep trying.” Could any words be truer for the entrepreneur? How many ideas have we had, things that we’ve tried, that haven’t gone as planned? Or worse, flopped altogether?
When Danielle and I meet a super-successful entrepreneur, we always ask how she did it. More often than not, we learn that her successful business isn’t her first kick at the can.
Last week Danielle and I met a mompreneur working in a direct sales company. She oversees 150 sales associates and is making a pile of money. When I congratulated her on her success, she was quick to admit that this is her fourth attempt at direct sales. Imagine – trying once and failing, trying twice and failing, trying a third time and failing – and then picking yourself up and trying yet again. But the focus of our conversation was not about her past failures. Rather, and I truly believe this, we talked about how all of her past experiences are the reason that she is where she is today. She has leveraged all of what she has learned – the good and the bad – and made sure to apply it correctly this time around.
So if at first you don’t succeed, sometimes it’s a matter of trying again. As for all those Canadian student entrepreneurs – whether they got deals or not – the future looks bright.
Mystery of the world #879 – the line up for gas at Costco.
At my local Costco, the line up for the gas station is so long that it would take about 30 minutes to wait for gas. It’s cheaper, no doubt about it. It was $0.07 a litre cheaper than the norm the last time I looked. As I made my way across the massive parking lot with my newly procured oversized cartons, I had time to ponder this. I drive a minivan. (Before you judge me for driving a gas guzzler – I got the van to deal with work – it’s the official Admiral Road moving van!) So if I wanted to take advantage of the Costco deal, I could save about $4.90 (70 litres at $0.07). But I honestly can’t imagine waiting in my car for 30 minutes to save less than $5. Can you? You should know that I also refuse to go shopping on Boxing Day, I don’t line up for sales, and I rarely have the patience for clipping coupons. It’s not that I’ve got piles of money to throw away, or that I don’t love a deal. I just can’t bring myself to go to extraordinary lengths to get one.
Anyone who is self-employed knows that you don’t exactly get an amazing hourly rate – there are a LOT of hours we work that don’t directly generate revenue – and the hourly rate can be a bit – um – paltry. That aside, I’m pretty sure my time is worth more than $9.80 per hour - that's less than minimum wage! For goodness sake, I pay the young teenager down the street to babysit just a little less than that. So what’s the deal with the endless line ups for the cheaper gas?
What about you? Do you think about how much your time is worth or are you all about the deal? What motivates you to go for the deal?
Recently we met with a mompreneur who was feeling overwhelmed by the competing demands of her business and her family - something any work-at-home mom can relate to. We asked her where her office is located in the house. When she replied that she works from her bedroom we had an ‘aha’ moment. This woman is literally sleeping with her business. No wonder she feels stressed, she never gets a break!
Running your own business means there is always work to be done. Add motherhood to the equation and some days there’s barely time to catch your breath. What’s worse, when we’re trying to do it all, we can end up not being very efficient at anything. So what’s a busy mompreneur to do? We think that setting yourself up to provide as much separation between your ‘work life’ and your ‘family life’ is one of the keys to success. Here are some simple tricks for creating some sanity-saving, efficiency-boosting work/life boundaries:
Set up a Family Command Centre. If you’re like us, you’re totally inundated with papers, forms and e-mails that have nothing to do with work at all. We can never believe how much administration our kids require! Find a spot in your home where all kid-related things go. This could be a corkboard in the kitchen, a colour-coded file box in your office or even a front-hall organizer. Set aside 15 minutes each day to take care of the family admin and we guarantee it’ll make everything saner!
Set ‘office hours.’ It may sound silly, but taking time to figure out when you are ‘at work’ and when you are ‘home’ can not only make you a lot more efficient, but can go a long way in managing your family’s expectations. By coming up with your office hours and even posting them for the family to see, it’s clear to everyone – especially you – when you’re hard at work, and when you’re available to the kids.
Get the technology you need. Every mompreneur needs the right office equipment to keep things running smoothly. Having an all-in-one printer, like the Kodak Hero printers, that works with cloud technology and allows you to wirelessly print, copy, scan and fax can really help. Also invest in other tools that help you be in more than one place at once – like smart phones, laptops and cloud technology. After all, if you have to be at hockey practice, you may as well be able to squeak some work in at the same time. Mompreneurs are multi-tasking mavens and the right technology can help you squeeze even a little more efficiency out of your busy schedule.
Raising your family and your business is always going to be challenging – but by establishing some easy systems and making sure you’ve got the tools on hand, your multitasking might just get a little easier. Now if only there was a system or a tool that would make dinner!
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