Tag Archives: san diego

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Hansol Hong @ Robolink

Hansol Hong Meet Hansol HongHansol was born in Seoul, Korea and came to California at a young age. He is working hard to assist Robolink students to become like Steve Jobs for the robotics industry. Hansol holds a bachelor’s degree of Management Science from UC San Diego. He runs the San Diego Robotics Club every week for local robotics hobbyists and professionals. Other than raising future stars of the robotics field, he loves playing sports, meeting new people, reading books, and finding good places to eat.

 

Sarah Nance: What is the name of your business and your website URL?

Hansol Hong: Robolink

http://www.robolink.com

http://www.robolink.com/community (Online educational site)

Sarah Nance: How did you choose the name of your business?

Hansol Hong: Robotics is such an interdisciplinary field that needs a lot of collaborations between many fields. Also, that makes it hard to get people started in robotics not knowing where to start. So we wanted to link the robot newbies to robotics field in the easiest way possible, and we wanted to link various fields professionals to robotics field as well in the future, that’s why we wanted to name it ROBOLINK.

Sarah Nance: What inspired you to create your company?

Hansol Hong: We wanted to do something fun. And a lot of my friend and myself are Kidults (Kid + Adult, Adult who has interests that traditionally expected only children have) People who likes to build small robots, or likes to fly drones, etc, would be in this category. But it’s hard to find a place where you can learn this, so we started the business in robotics education.

Robo Link

Sarah Nance: How and when did you start your business?

Hansol Hong: Started in 2012, my father is a serial entrepreneur, so I’ve been raised in the setup where we started talking about business at the dinner table since I was the age of 7 or so. I’ve always wanted create a company, and did right after I graduated from college.

Sarah Nance: Tell me about your professional background and experience.

Hansol Hong: As I mentioned,my father is a serial entrepreneur and my mother also invested in my father’s company when she was in mid 20s, so she is like angel investor for my father. Having this background, I had always wanted create a company, and did right after I graduated from college. My first company went out of business after 1 year since I started the company. It was Sports Media/Education business, but my partners and I couldn’t make it sustainable business.

Sarah Nance: What should your customers expect when they come to you?

Hansol Hong: People will buy a box from us, and learn everything they need regarding that box through our online curriculum and community at www.robolink.com/community .

From one box that’s around $140, people can make 12 different robots that we created, and after that, users can change the design to make limitless models to build and program those.

Sarah Nance: Is this your first time operating and managing your own business? If not, share a bit of history about another business you owned.

Hansol Hong: My first business was sports media/education business. Three things that we did during my first business:

  1. Created an educational app for pitchers in baseball (my partner was a former baseball star in Korea).
  2. Published an educational book.
  3. Sold Caribbean Winter League media right to a broadcasting company in Korea.

It was pretty fun doing it, but couldn’t make it sustainable.

Sarah Nance: What has been the toughest lesson you have been taught about owning a business?

Hansol Hong: It’s not as glamorous as people make think.

You have flexible hours (but probably have to work a lot more than normal people 60 – 80 hours/week).

Until a certain point, you have to live in the fear that you might run out of money (cash flow to the company is crucial)!

Sarah Nance: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Hansol Hong: My personal rewarding part is when kids scream something like “Coding is easy!”, “Oh, this is awesome, I love robots!”. The joy of students drive us to make our products and service better.

RoboLink

Sarah Nance: What are some of your specific marketing strategies?

Hansol Hong: Make good product and do your best to small clients that you have. After that, word of mouth will lead you to be successful.

In April, we will be doing crowd funding campaign launching our product to people outside of San Diego. (We’ve been testing our kit in the past three years and have been getting positive feedback 97% recommendation from 250+ users from Groupon)

Sarah Nance: What is your target market?

Hansol Hong: Elementary – College students who want to learn about robotics.

Sarah Nance: Do you have any specific books, blogs or podcasts that you recommend to other business owners?

Hansol Hong: How to start a startup video series:

Sarah Nance: Do you do much in person networking? If yes, what do you like and don’t like? If no, why not?

Hansol Hong: Yes, I love meeting new people, and currently organizing San Diego Robotics Club through Meetup: http://www.meetup.com/San-Diego-Robotics-Club/

We have 500+ members and talk about interesting topic every week regarding robotics. It’s one of the best places to network with people who love robots, and have been hiring through that network as well.

Sarah Nance: Has there been anyone in particular that helped motivate you to start your business? If yes, tell me about them and how they helped you

Hansol Hong: Didn’t think about anything other than starting my own business since I was very young. So potentially my parents.

Sarah Nance: What are your long-term goals for your business?

Hansol Hong: We will make our kits very simple and affordable so that anyone at school can learn robots without a fear. If all the schools can carry our kits it will give students a hands-on education at early age, I believe the way students think will change, and they can be more prepared to this fast-driven, technology-oriented society better.

Sarah Nance: How can people find you on social media?

Hansol Hong:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobolinkInc

Twitter: twitter.com/robolinkinc

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/3016895?trk=tyah&trkInfo=idx%3A1-1-1%2CtarId%3A1425924830477%2Ctas%3ARobolink

Sarah Nance: Share some fun facts about you!

Hansol Hong: I’ve backpacked Death Valley for 27 days straight. It was very interesting and inspiring trip, and made myself very tenacious.

Sarah Nance: Tell me a story about one of your favorite projects and or client/customer.

Hansol Hong: We have our students participate in some robotics competition throughout the year. And one of the teams, last year, had spent 30 – 40 hours/week working on their robots for last two weeks into the competition. All of the team members were first time doing the robotics competition, and they ended up being 4th best team in the world for (programming aspect) VEX IQ. Many of those students get very interested in robotics and I hear that our students want to be robotics engineers when they grow up. I think it’s very rewarding to hear that we are impacting on many of our children’s future and doing our best that we can make positive impacts to them.

If you are interested in being featured in this “Entrepreneur Spotlight” series contact Sarah Nance today!  

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Teresa Hall @ Kwan Yin Holistic Center

Teresa Hall
Teresa Hall

Meet Teresa Hall: 

For the past 4 months I have had increasing pain in my lower back. I mean some SERIOUS pain! Working from home without a proper office doesn’t help either. Well, that was until I had an appointment last week with Teresa Hall at Kwan Yin Holistic Center. For no good reason, I had been skeptical of getting acupuncture done even though I had heard it works wonders.

 

 

 

While I was getting poked with needles (I swear..it doesn’t hurt!) she mentioned that she works with a lot of women’s fertility issues with many of them getting pregnant. My response: ” Great! But I DON’T want THOSE needles!!” LOL

It’s been a week since my session and OH MY GOD!!!! Pain Free!

 

What is the name of your business and your website URL?

Teresa Hall: Kwan Yin Holistic Center

www.kwanyinholistic.com

How did you choose the name of your business?

Teresa Hall: In 1999, my last year of studies, I was blessed to travel to China. While there, I visited several temples and Kwan Yin came to me and I knew I would name my practice after her. She is also my healing Master and she works with me and through me. Kwan Yin is said to be the female Buddha, the Goddess of compassion!

Sarah Conteh: What inspired you to create your company?

Teresa Hall:  It was a natural chain of events. Entering into a 4 year program to study Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine, I knew the result would be opening my own private practice. Having worked for other people most my life, I knew I would be most happy and fulfilled working for myself!

Sarah Conteh: How and when did you start your business?

Teresa Hall:  I began my practice right after I passed the state licensing exam for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine. While waiting to see if I passed, I created 100 presentation packets and sent them out to local doctors and was very pleased with a 10% response. One medical doctor guaranteed I would see at least 10 patients a week, which turned into 40, in a short period of time. He paid me as an employee which gave me the money to open my private practice!

Kwan Yin

Sarah Conteh: Tell me about your professional background and experience.

Teresa Hall:  Having dropped out in 10th grade, I enrolled in the school of life for a bit of time. At some point I thought it was a good idea to get my GED and then one thing led to another! I spent 3 years earning my Associate degree in Chemical Dependency and Psychology, then was accepted into San Diego State University where I continued to study Psychology with an emphasis in Physiology and finally earned my Master degree in Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and Pacific College of Oriental Medicine.

Sarah Conteh: What should your patients expect when they come to you?

Teresa Hall:  I expect my patients will feel like they are being heard, like they are welcomed. I want my patients/clients to feel like I will do everything I can based on my knowledge and experience to help them feel better. I expect they can ask me anything and if I do not know the answer, I will research and find the answer. I expect my patients/clients will feel safe sharing information with me so I can better understand where they are coming from!

Sarah Conteh: Is this your first time operating and managing your own business? If not, share a bit of history about another business you owned.

Teresa Hall:  In my 20’s briefly for about 6 months had a cleaning business and decided cleaning up after other people was not fulfilling, it was allot of work and I did not charge enough for my service to make worthwhile.

Kwan Yin

Sarah Conteh: What has been the toughest lesson you have been taught about owning a business?

Teresa Hall:  Oh this is an easy one! I do not get any paid sick leave, no time off to grief when my parents got sick and died, no vacation time… and of course no steady, secure paycheck.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Teresa Hall:  I totally LOVE that I get to set my own schedule, no alarm clocks. I can take breaks throughout the day, as needed! Being of service and actually being able to help people where western medicine said there was nothing else they can do.

Sarah Conteh: What are some of your specific marketing strategies?

Teresa Hall: Being in practice for 15 years, I rely on word of mouth, also facebook and the South Park Walk Abouts. I also have an ongoing *Groupon* deal, many people find me that way and become long term patients. In addition, many insurances pay for acupuncture, so many patients find me through their network!

Sarah Conteh: What is your target market?

Teresa Hall: My target patient is anyone who wants to feel better!!! Be it someone in pain, someone wanting to lose weight, or anyone who is drinking or smoking too much or those who are looking to conceive and bring new life in. Also, work with many patients with Cancer, treating their side effects of chemotherapy. My youngest patient was four years old and my oldest patient was 95!

Sarah Conteh: Do you have any specific books, blogs or podcasts that you recommend to other business owners?

Teresa Hall: When I am feeling stuck ie: phone not ringing, no patients, I meditate and visualize and ask the Universe to send me people I can help the most. I also love listening to the channeling of Law of Attraction by Abraham, sometimes I will listen to the CD’s over and over to program myself of the ability to attract what I need, want and desire.

Sarah Conteh: Do you do much in person networking? If yes, what do you like and don’t like? If no, why not?

Teresa Hall: Over the years I have done much face to face marketing ie: LeTip, Referral Exchange, Gay and Lesbian Business Network, also paid to exhibit at peoples place of work and many street fairs. All of these endeavors attracted a few people, however not enough to stay with them. In my neighborhood, we have quarterly “Walkabouts” and I feel this has worked best! The next South Park Walkabout is on March 21st, be sure to stop by and say hi!

Sarah Conteh: Has there been anyone in particular that helped motivate you to start your business? If yes, tell me about them and how they helped you

Teresa Hall:  Of course, my parents. My father worked in the coal mines and when they shut down he opened his own very successful landscaping business in Tucson, Arizona. Both he and my mom had such a hard work ethic that inspired me to be the best, I can be and to be of service. Also my teacher, boss and mentor at San Diego State, Dr. Philip Langlais was very supportive when I realized I wanted to switch gears from Psychology to Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine.

Sarah Conteh: What are your long-term goals for your business?

Teresa Hall:  I never want to retire! My mantra for years has been do what I love and love what I do. My goal is to help as many people as possible to feel better. One goal that is currently coming to fruition is renting out one of my treatment rooms and this month has provided the “perfect” women to share space with! Sharna Langlais, a Reiki Practitioner, who coincidentally happens to be the daughter of my mentor at S.D.S.U. and Jennica Mills (who does amazing work at traumatic release work through yoga) will be sharing space here, beginning March 1st. More information about them at www.BeOneness.org. Also, planning to open a second office in South Bay, sometime soon!

Sarah Conteh: How can people find you on social media?

Teresa Hall: Twitter: Acupuncture4u

Facebook: Kwan Yin Holistic Center

LinkedIn: Teresa Hall

Sarah Conteh: Share some fun facts about you!

Teresa Hall: Okay, I think the best one is hitch hiking from San Diego to Daytona Beach, Florida with a boyfriend at 16, with a fake ID saying I was 18. It was the best experience ever and I learned way more then I would have learned stuck in a classroom.

Sarah Conteh: Tell me a story about one of your favorite customers.

Teresa Hall: Oh my, there are so many phenomenal patients! The first one that come to mind is a patient that came to me for weight loss, she weighed 371 at our first session and 1 year later weighed 190. Another patient was only 4 years old with asthma and set up to be on drugs for the rest of her life, it turned out she was really allergic to many things and we did “allergy elimination” and she did not need any drugs. Then there are so many women who have come to me for fertility with all kinds of diagnoses where they would never become pregnant, and they did!!!

Teresa Hall 2

 

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Wesley Hsu & Swingby

Wesley Hsu @ Swingby
Wesley Hsu @ Swingby

Meet Wesley Hsu: 

We’ve ALL been there. Sitting at home or the office feeling super hungry but don’t have the time or energy to run out and grab some food. Thanks to Wesley at Swingby you don’t have to ignore your hunger any more! I recently had coffee with Wesley in Kensington (San Diego) and was inspired by his passion to work with local businesses and provide a needed service to the community. Remember Swingby the next time you’re craving something from a local San Diego restaurant that doesn’t deliver! Enjoy my interview with Wesley!

What is the name of your business and your website URL?

Wesley Hsu: Swingby

You can find us at www.swingbyfood.com

Sarah Conteh: How did you choose the name of your business?

Wesley Hsu: It’s a great casual saying. “Can you swing by that Thai place and grab me a pad thai on the way over?” I like to think we’re a very friendly and personable business.  It’s not just food delivery from any restaurant, we’re like your buddy that’s coming over and happens to be passing by your favorite take-out spot.

Sarah Conteh: What inspired you to create your company?

Wesley Hsu: I’ve always wanted a service like it myself.  With the advent of crowdsourcing and the shared economy model, it solved one of the largest issues people told me I’d face: scaling and turnover.  Nowadays, it’s not crazy to expect a stranger to also be honest and reliable in driving you somewhere, providing you with a room to crash at, or in our case, delivering your food.

Swingby
Swingby

Sarah Conteh: How and when did you start your business?

Wesley Hsu: It’s all been bootstrapped so far.  I started just experimenting bringing food to friends and coworkers back in June of last year, working through the kinks for a couple months.  It was just me at first, and soon I realized I’d need a dispatcher, because obviously texting, driving, and looking up addresses and numbers is a horrible idea.  I come from a user interface and user experience design background, so I built the website myself.  I’d always envisioned it to be a pretty large platform eventually, so I knew I needed to have a technical co-founder.  I reached out to the startup community and the reddit community, and eventually met a fellow UCSD Triton who saw the same vision as me.  Together, we’ve managed to grow from less than a dozen orders a month to now over a hundred a month.

That said, we’re definitely open to talking with investors, as long as it’s the right fit.  We’re also planning to launch a crowdfunding campaign in late March/early April! So look out for that!

Sarah Conteh: Tell me about your professional background and experience.

Wesley Hsu: I come from a user interface and user experience design background.  I’ve worked in the museum field (Balboa Park) for a couple years now, designing websites, mobile experiences, digital exhibits, and conducting user testing on products and exhibits.  I’ve become fascinated by creating enjoyable and intuitive user experiences.

Sarah Conteh: What should your customers expect when they come to you?

Wesley Hsu: They should expect to satisfy a food craving and to have some great customer service experience! Our business thrives on building relationships.  We want to be more than just a delivery person bringing you food.  We’re neighbors that live and eat in the same places you do, so we hope that’s reflected in our customer service.  Feel free to text us or call us for any recommendations on food! We’re all about food.

Swingby
Swingby

Sarah Conteh: Is this your first time operating and managing your own business? 

Wesley Hsu: Yeah, I’d never set out to be an entrepreneur!  I don’t have a background in business, so a lot of this has been an incredibly steep learning process, and I’ve still got plenty to learn.  It’s exhilarating though, and I’m learning more every day.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the toughest lesson you have been taught about owning a business?

Wesley Hsu: For a business like ours, I think the toughest lesson has been learning the nature of marketing and how quickly people move on with their lives. Everyone loves food, and I think we provide a very valuable service not just to folks in the community, but also local restaurant businesses in the area.  That said, it’s not just a matter of letting people know about us, it’s also a matter of reminding people about us again and again, even if they’ve already seen us or even already used us.  It’s fascinating how much of marketing ends up being about reinforcement.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Wesley Hsu: I think getting to know the community has been immensely rewarding.  The relationships you build by reaching out into the community, and seeing the positive response, has made all this worth it.  We’re just starting to make it to the business association meetings, so we’re starting to meet other local businesses, many of whom have gone through the same struggles we’re going through now, and who are so willing to help out.

Sarah Conteh: What are some of your specific marketing strategies?

Wesley Hsu: Marketing has definitely been one of our toughest hurdles.  Social media has been helpful.  Specifically reddit, organic facebook posts and recommendations, and nextdoor.com.  We’re starting to work more closely with restaurants now so that we can act as their delivery team.  Through them, we’re able to help them reach those customers who couldn’t or didn’t want to come in to the store, and we’re also able to let customers know they can now get delivery from any restaurant in the area.

Sarah Conteh: What is your target market?

Wesley Hsu: There are definitely a few different ones.  Generally, customers are from the 18-35 year old range.  They are oftentimes either students, young professionals, or new parents.  They’re likely food enthusiasts, or just really crave specific types of food.  We’ve also found they’re generally technology buffs, food enthusiasts, movie lovers, and entertainment buffs.

Sarah Conteh: Do you have any specific books, blogs or podcasts that you recommend to other business owners?

Wesley Hsu: I’m trying to finish reading through “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries.  I’m also planning to read through “Without Their Permission” by Alexis Ohanian.  There’s also, of course, Paul Graham of Y-Combinator.  I also, honestly, get plenty of interesting and great advice from people posting questions on Quora and reddit.

Sarah Conteh: Do you do much in person networking? If yes, what do you like and don’t like? If no, why not?

Wesley Hsu: I do indeed.  I really like that the startup community and the local business community is so supportive in everyone’s endeavors.  That said, it can also be intimidating as a new entrepreneur to get into that space and feel comfortable.  I think the more you spend time as an entrepreneur, the more you realize, though, that it’s all about building relationships and chance encounters with the right people.

Sarah Conteh: Has there been anyone in particular that helped motivate you to start your business? If yes, tell me about them and how they helped you.

Wesley Hsu: Early on, I established a pretty good relationship with the owner of Twist Sandwiches, who I currently work with doing deliveries.  I think by building that relationship, I’ve been able to experiment with some ideas that have really laid the foundation in getting Swingby off the ground.  He’s been incredibly gracious and helpful in providing insight into the restaurant industry and how things run, and also giving me the opportunity to experiment with him.

Sarah Conteh: What are your long-term goals for your business?

Wesley Hsu: I’d love for Swingby to expand its coverage areas to all of San Diego as well as go to other cities.  We plan to launch a mobile app as well, so that’ll make ordering food even easier.  We intend for Swingby to ultimately revolutionize the food delivery industry, offering people a gateway into an entire city’s restaurant scene, which they can enjoy from the comfort of their own home or office or wherever they happen to be.

Sarah Conteh: How can people find you on social media?

Wesley Hsu: Our Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram handle is @swingbyfood!

Sarah Conteh: Share some fun facts about you!

Wesley Hsu: I can eat A LOT of food.  Maybe that’s not that surprising 😛 I also really enjoy rock climbing!

Sarah Conteh: Tell me a story about one of your favorite projects / customers.

Wesley Hsu: We once brought 50 In-N-Out burgers to a wedding after party all the way in Coronado.  It was one of the most memorable orders we’ve done, since she’d thought of the idea just 2 days before her wedding. It was such an awesome idea, and we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity.  We showed up dressed up in slacks, button ups, and everything.  It was awesome seeing her so happy.  Obviously, we took a bunch of silly selfies with her and put it all over social media!

Swingby
Swingby

If you are interested in being featured in this “Entrepreneur Spotlight” series contact Sarah (Nance) Conteh today!  

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Christy Nieto & My Lucky Dragon

Christy Nieto My Lucky Dragon
Christy Nieto

Meet Christy Nieto: This is an inspiring story of how Christy Nieto turned a life altering  tragedy into a business that puts a smile on people’s faces. You know that moment when you find that perfect, one of a kind gift for someone special? Not only does it put a smile on the recipients face, it makes you feel good!

My Lucky Dragon’s creations are beyond amazing! I can say this personally as a long time customer of MLD. Her business, My Lucky Dragon has customers all over the world and I am honored to share her story with you.

 

 

What is the name of your business and your website URL?

Christy Nieto: My Lucky Dragon

Www.myluckydragon.etsy.com

My Lucky Dragon

How did you choose the name of your business?

Christy Nieto: I’m a Dragon. My mother was big into Asian culture, we practiced Buddhism and we are big on Chinese horoscopes. My sign is the Dragon and in the Asian culture that is the luckiest sign. So my mother would tell everyone “she is my lucky dragon”. And I love anything dragon….so the business name is My Lucky Dragon.

 

What inspired you to create your company?

Christy Nieto: My mother. My husband. My life and boredom.

My mother was extremely creative and my dad is an awesome artist (I have always wondered if I had a creative bone in my body).

My husband being in the Navy was ALWAYS gone so I was bored.

I had been dabbling in natural body products while I was taking care of my mom and I was in the beginning of debating the idea of making it a full fledged business.

Then, a little more than 2 years ago, my mother committed suicide while my husband was out on deployment.

I was crying on the couch one day and watching Martha Stewart and she was making bath bombs and soaps. I said “I can do that shit, fuck yea!”. I went full force, just projecting my sadness and emotions into making everything I could, hitting every craft fair that would have me.

And this is how I started. Then I decided to add my love of desserts to the mix and made my bath products look like yummy treats. The rest is history.

My Lucky Dragon
My Lucky Dragon

How and when did you start your business?

Christy Nieto: I was kind of selling my stuff but more as a hobby before my mother died. Then about a month later I just went full force, so August 1st, 2012.

Tell me about your professional background and experience.

Christy Nieto: I was a human resources director and a bookkeeper. Worst jobs ever! I don’t look back… ever LOL!

Sarah Conteh and Christy Nieto
Sarah Conteh and Christy Nieto

What should your customers expect when they come to you?

Christy Nieto: They should expect excellent customer service, passion, kindness and a hint of smart ass.

My Lucky Dragon Soap
My Lucky Dragon Soap

Is this your first time operating and managing your own business? If not, share a bit of history about another business you owned.

Christy Nieto: Previously, I owned an organization and bookkeeping business, it was actually going pretty good until the economy went to shit.

What has been the toughest lesson you have been taught about owning a business?

Christy Nieto: Lack of time and money. Having a handmade business is a little more intense than offering services. Selling products involves marketing your products, keeping up with the bookkeeping, managing the shipping and receiving. You also have to post to your online store, take pictures, Photoshop, make the stuff, packaging and do events! Sooooo much work! But still, I would do this any day over working for someone else and sitting in an office with people you don’t like for 8 to 5.

What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Christy Nieto: That I get to say I have my own business and I get to honestly say “why yes, I do make all of this by myself”.

What are some of your specific marketing strategies?

Christy Nieto: I use a lot of social media and get referrals. I also do events which helps get my name out there.

What is your target market?

Christy Nieto: My target market is someone shopping for a unique gift.

My Lucky Dragon Soap
My Lucky Dragon Soap

Do you have any specific books, blogs or podcasts that you recommend to other business owners?

Christy Nieto: Right now I’m reading books on social media marketing and “how to sell on etsy” books.

Do you do much in person networking? If yes, what do you like and don’t like? If no, why not?

Christy Nieto: I really don’t think networking groups are my thing at all.

Has there been anyone in particular that helped motivate you to start your business? If yes, tell me about them and how they helped you.

Christy Nieto: Like I said, my mother’s death is what pushed me to start. My husband is the one that keeps me going, he’s my biggest supporter.

What are your long-term goals for your business?

Christy Nieto: To keep growing and to get wholesale orders.

My Lucky Dragon Soap

How can people find you on social media?

Christy Nieto:

Instagram: @myluckydragon

Pinterest: @myluckydragon

Facebook: myluckydragon

Share some fun facts about you!

Christy Nieto: I was the most non girly person in the world until I started making soaps… now I’m just a little girly. I’ve always been a tomboy, hunting and fishing with my dad, I’ve just always related more to dudes than women. My mother always wished I was more feminine. I guess when she passed I subconsciously got girly for her? I don’t know it’s weird.

Oh, and I listen to rap music while I’m creating and making my products.

Tell me a story about one of your favorite projects and or client/customer.

Christy Nieto: My favorite clients and orders are custom orders. I love to make special things, especially things that are out of my element because it forces me to learn something new.

Sarah Conteh's Wedding Favors
Sarah Conteh’s Wedding Favors

If you are interested in being featured in this “Entrepreneur Spotlight” series contact Sarah (Nance) Conteh today!  

Entrepreneur Spotlight: James Hickey

Meet James Hickey: If you were to Google “San Diego Networker” I’m 97.4 % sure that James Hickey’s picture would show up! As both a master networker online and in person, he has taken these talents and created a business to help others. With all of the scams out there promising to get you 10,000+ Twitter & Facebook followers in one week (I personally get contacted daily by these frauds) it can be hard to know who to trust with your social media strategies.

No matter what type of business you own, if you don’t have a strong online presence you are at the very least limiting your possibilities and are behind the competition.

James Hickey has over 81,000 followers on Twitter, almost 5,000 followers on Instagram just to name two sites. As a person that has been his student (both in person and via webinars) I can tell you that he is the real deal! Be sure to watch his video at the end of this interview.

James Hickey

What is the name of your business and your website URL?

James Hickey: My main company name is JMH Marketing Group. My main two websites are: http://www.InternetMarketingTrainingCenter.Net and http://www.InternetMarketingCoahcingProgram.Net

Sarah Conteh: What inspired you to create your company?

James Hickey: After 18 years in the gas station and auto repair business, I was looking for a career change. I learned a lot of marketing my prior business during those 18 years and was also interested in Internet Marketing. So it was a fun and exciting transition to what I do now.

Sarah Conteh: How and when did you start your business?

James Hickey: I started my company in April 2008, for a few months before that, I was getting paid by realtors and other people to help them with their Internet Marketing. Once I saw how busy I was getting, it was time to form a company.

Sarah Conteh: Tell me about your professional background and experience.

James Hickey: Never went to college.Managed and owned up to 10 gas stations between 1990-2008. Once I made choice to become Internet Marketing Consultant, I started getting advanced training and got a mentor. From 2007 until current, I work with small to large businesses and start-up companies. I also created a course in 2011 to train people to become Internet Marketing Consultants.

Sarah Conteh: What should your customers expect when they come to you?

James Hickey: Excellent customer service and very trackable results.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the toughest lesson you have been taught about owning a business?

James Hickey: That you are your own boss and have to keep motivating yourself on a daily basis. I also believe in finding a mentor or a coach.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

James Hickey: Time. Freedom. Money.

Sarah Conteh: What are some of your specific marketing strategies?

James Hickey: Lead Generation, Search Marketing, Social Media Marketing

Sarah Conteh: What is your target market?

James Hickey: Start Up Companies and Large Business Owners that want more leads and sales from their websites. They also must want Online Branding with Social Media.

I also look for people who want a career in my Industry. People who want to become full-time Internet/Social Media Marketing Consultants.

Sarah Conteh: Do you have any specific books, blogs or podcasts that you recommend to other business owners?

James Hickey: The E-myth and Think and Grow Rich are some of my favorite books.

Sarah Conteh: Do you do much in person networking? If yes, what do you like and don’t like? If no, why not?

James Hickey: Yes, normally 1 or 2 business mixers per week. I love networking, especially because I can offer business owners something they need. More clients from their website.

Sarah Conteh: Has there been anyone in particular that helped motivate you to start your business? If yes, tell me about them and how they helped you

James Hickey: Yes, Jay Kubassak. He helped me change my career and embrace my entrepreneurship.

Sarah Conteh: What are your long-term goals for your business?

James Hickey: Larger business consulting clients and grow my training center for Internet Marketing Consultants.

Sarah Conteh: How can people find you on social media?

James Hickey:

https://www.facebook.com/jameshickeysdentrepreneur

https://www.facebook.com/internetmarketingbusinesscenter

https://twitter.com/sdentrepreneur

https://instagram.com/sdentrepreneur

https://youtube.com/sdentrepreneur

http://www.linkedin.com/in/sdccpro/

Sarah Conteh: Share some fun facts about you!

James Hickey: I am a tournament chess player, ranked in top 10,000 in the USA and I am also a Black Diamond Snow skier.

Sarah Conteh: Tell me a story about one of your favorite projects and or client/customer.

James Hickey: One of my first clients early one, was the inventor of the BOSU Fitness Ball. He was famous in the offline world but didn’t have an Internet/Social Media strategy in place. It was fun and rewarding for both of us.

 

If you are interested in being featured in this “Entrepreneur Spotlight” series contact Sarah (Nance) Conteh today!  

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Rich Yumul & Sage Tree Solutions

Owner of Sage Tree Solutions
Rich Yumul ~ Sage Tree Solutions

Meet Rich Yumul:

From Comic-Con to the USS Midway Museum, it’s highly likely that you have visited a website that Rich Yumul and his team at Sage Tree Solutions have created. Rich started his company (Sage Tree Solutions) out of a passion and desire to provide better website solutions and better customer service to business owners. His honest and transparent approach with his clients makes him stand out as a leader in his industry.

Keep reading to find out what motivates Rich as an entrepreneur as he shares his story and advice on running a business.

Sarah Conteh: How did you chose the name of your business?

Rich Yumul: It’s the name of the street that I live on. It was really impressive having your business mailing address have the same name as your business, before Google maps.

Sarah Conteh: What inspired you to create your company?

Rich Yumul: Craftsmanship. There were lots of examples of poorly executed web sites – poor design, poor engineering, and lots of unrealized potential. I thought I could do a better job, provide better service, so clients could stop wasting time & money on poor craftsmanship.

Sarah Conteh: How and when did you start your business?

Rich Yumul: I was doing freelancing on the side and then in 2005 I started freelancing 100%.  2008 I started hiring people to help out with Sage Tree.

Sarah Conteh: Tell me about your professional background and experience.

Rich Yumul: Started building web pages in 1991.  One of my first projects was the KidSat project, led by Dr. Sally Ride at U.C.S.D.  I helped build the website for the project, where a digital camera was put on the moon roof of the space shuttle.  Then, kids in elementary schools across the nation were able to schedule when the camera should take a picture (via the web), and then they could see the resulting images after they were taken.  It was really neat.

After U.C.S.D., I worked for 10 years developing web applications for a defense contractor, and started Sage Tree to do more commercial work in 2005.

We’ve done some really cool projects, where we’ve worked on high-profile clients  Comic-Con, Qualcomm, NetGear, ViaSat, U.C.S.D., Scripps Institute of Oceanography, and Point Loma Nazarene University.

Sarah Conteh: What should your customers expect when they come to you?

Rich Yumul: They can expect to talk to somebody with deep experience in developing web sites and applications, an understanding of business, and always has their best interest at heart.

They should also know that we call it like it is.  If their project/site is a ‘ugly baby’, we’ll have that conversation with them.  We strive to be very transparent.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the toughest lesson you have been taught about owning a business?

Rich Yumul: Managing people and the results for which they’re responsible.

Sarah Conteh: What has been the most rewarding part of owning your own business?

Rich Yumul: Having the freedom to innovate.

Sarah Conteh: What are some of your specific marketing strategies?

Rich Yumul: We provide free training sessions, we’re very involved in the development community and we also partner with other agencies & companies. I also do a fair amount of networking.

Sarah Conteh: What is your target market?

Rich Yumul:

– Medium to large size business without a strong web presence.

– Department heads at university (UCSD, USD, SDSU, etc)

– Non-profit organizations that need help w/ their online presence

– Associations

Sarah Conteh: Do you have any specific books, blogs or podcast that you recommend to other business owners?

Rich Yumul:

– Entreleadership Podcast w/ Dave Ramsey

– Start with WHY – Simon Sinek

– Anything from Seth Godin

– 5 Levels of Leadership – John Maxwell (and anything else from him)

– Double Double – Cameron Herold

– Wooden on Leadership – John Wooden

– Last word on Power – Tracy Goss

Sarah Conteh: Do you do much in person networking? If yes, what do you like and don’t like? 

Rich Yumul: Yes

Like:  Meeting people, the prospect of meeting somebody that can be your next big client.

Dislike: Having to give up my evenings with my family.

Sarah Conteh: Has there been anyone in particular that helped motivate you to start your business? 

Rich Yumul: Not so much…

Sarah Conteh: What are your long-term goals for your business?

Rich Yumul: Build it so it’s self running and provides a stable base of income for my family.

Sarah Conteh: How can people find you on social media?

Rich Yumul:

Personal Twitter: @rich_yumul

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sage-tree-solutions

Business Twitter: https://twitter.com/sage_tree

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SageTreeSolutions

 

3 Reason’s I Love My Life As An Entrepreneur

One thing I have always said about being an entrepreneur is that it’s not always easy but it’s always worth it! I’ve been on this entrepreneurial path for  almost 7 years now and it has been a roller coaster of highs and lows but I wouldn’t change it for anything.

Here are 3 reasons I love my life as an entrepreneur ~

  1. Versatility. My background (pre-entrepreneurial days) is in Accounting. I had worked as an accountant for about 13 years before I started my own company in 2006. So naturally, my first company was in the accounting field. When I first started my accounting business I had no clue how to run a company because I was used to sitting in an office with the door closed staring at numbers all day long. But once I got started (with help from my amazing business partner and reading and re-reading Tim Ferriss I quickly realized that this is where I belonged. Fast forward to 2012, I started a soccer academy, Conteh Soccer Academy. Yes, a SOCCER academy! Do I know anything about soccer? No! Do I know and have what it takes to run a successful business? Yes! The key to any entrepreneurial venture is to surround yourself with the right people and be ready for the opportunity when it presents itself.
  2. Never Getting Bored ~ Bored is one word that I have not used since 2006. Being an entrepreneur is quite the adventure! I have learned to be flexible with my to-do lists. It’s a rare day that I am able to get through that list with out switching tasks 324 times. Is owning your own business a lot of work? Hell yes! And yes, if I wake up at 3 AM I may check my many twitter accounts or might take a peak at my email but I have never once complained about being bored.
  3. Possibilities Are Endless ~ When I started my first business, we set up simple goals for our first year. Some seemed SO extreme at the time that we just put them in the “let’s hope” category. At our 90 day mark we had already exceeded 85% of our goals, even the “let’s hope” list! One thing that that is extremely important for an entrepreneur to be is FLEXIBLE. On a daily basis we come up with new ideas, new strategies and new goals. To become stagnate and set in your ways will completely limit your possibilities. Image

5 Ways to Grow in Any Economy

The following article, from Entrepreneur, list some very simple but effective ways to maximize your time and money. Here at All Star Accounting, we are HUGE fans of low monthly overhead. We have home offices, we love our coffee shops with free wi-fi and we take advantage of all the online collaborative tools that are available.  What are you doing to grow in this economy? I would love your feedback! ~ Sarah Nance  (www.allstaraccounting.net)

Sarah Nance
Sarah Nance

5 Ways to Grow in Any Economy

By Jennifer Brown   |   December 23, 2009

URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/growyourbusiness/businessstrategies/article204470.html

Even in tough economic times, small businesses need to find new ideas, develop original products, and engineer fresh market approaches. These are the pillars of good business, and each is made from a mixture of creativity and expertise. While it may seem counterintuitive, it’s entirely possible to implement strategies that drive not only employee engagement, but also innovation and, ultimately, sales–all without enormous investment in systems or people.

What can your company do to remain fresh, vibrant and alive–all without breaking the bank? Here are five ways:

1. De-emphasize office space
The traditional office space, where cubicles, the hum of overhead lights, and group politics preside, is not usually the most conducive environment for harnessing the most creative ideas. Giving employees the opportunity to perform some or all of their work outside the office can break this routine and cultivate an innovative workforce.

Often simply changing the physical working location to the café or tea house on the corner can produce a stream of new and valuable ideas. And many of these “third places” provide complimentary wireless internet access, have space for convening, and sell enough coffee to keep everyone alert. Writers and musicians know about the creative effects of a cafe’s stimulating and relaxing atmosphere–why not CEOs?

2. Virtualize your workforce
In addition to being ineffective at times, the office space may be an unnecessary expense. The cost of maintaining an office space is usually the single largest line item when it comes to business overhead. Many small businesses have eliminated the expense by ceasing to rent office space and setting up virtually. Transforming your business into a virtual operation creates the new opportunity to hire and retain talented people from outside of your geographic area and frees up funds to be invested elsewhere.

Keep in mind, though, that while there are many benefits to virtualizing a company, the reduction in face time also necessitates a change in management style. Much greater focus is needed on project expectations and deadlines, as well as clear and consistent communication.

3. Leverage collaboration applications
At the beginning and end of the day, your business is about people–the clients you serve and the staff that you employ. Connecting these people in the right way is essential to creating and running a great company, and collaboration applications are excellent tools with which to accomplish this goal.

Collaboration applications create new avenues of communication that effectively improve team cohesion and break down the invisible barriers within a company. Intelligent implementation can turn a stagnant, sluggish company into one composed of engaged employees, who contribute more of their “discretionary time” toward the success of the company.

One excellent collaboration application is GoogleDocs, which creates an online conference table where ideas can be put forward, discussed and implemented. Every document created within the application is saved, so it can be opened and edited wherever there is an internet connection. Novice computer users will find GoogleDocs easy to learn and intuitive to operate. Likewise, instant messaging programs such as Skype or MSN Messenger enable fast communication through chat groups formed around departments or projects.

CPS Creative, a website design company, is a great model for its implementation of collaboration software. The company, which is almost entirely virtual, requires all employees to use the same instant messaging program and be online at designated times. All of the employees assigned to a specific project join the same chat group. Also, at the beginning and end of each work day, all employees check in with their colleagues in order to let them know they have arrived and left.

4. Invest in the skills of current employees
On a regular basis, companies face a host of small but necessary tasks that must be accomplished, like creating a Flash graphic for the website, writing a marketing brochure, or drafting a press release. Yet smaller companies cannot afford a dedicated IT department, marketing staff or public affairs coordinator, despite the fact that many of these tasks, like maintaining a functioning and well-designed website, are essential to attracting new business and transitioning from a struggling start-up to a vibrant and growing company.

Hiring new employees with the necessary skills is not the only solution; invest in the skill development of your current workforce. Your staff most likely either has the requisite capabilities to accomplish these projects or can quickly acquire them. The additional skills will undoubtedly be very marketable, which satisfies your employees while providing for the needs of the company.

One resource to help accomplish this is the website Lynda.com, which provides online training in professional-grade applications like Adobe Dreamweaver and Illustrator–the required tools to build quality websites and produce stunning marketing materials.

5. Build cross-functional teams
Finally, one of the greatest methods for producing innovation in a company is to solicit contributions from the entire workforce. Taking your employees, who are the most knowledgeable experts on the company, and gathering them around a conference table will help your company develop innovative solutions with little investment.

CPS Creative once encouraged a non-technical member of their staff to try his hand at Flash design, something that he had never done before. After seeing his immediate aptitude for it, the company merged the product developed by the original Flash expert with the staff member’s design, creating a better product in the end.

Regardless of the condition of the economy, companies should always looking toward expansion. Growing while revenue is stagnant is a difficult, but not impossible, task. Consider these five ideas: shifting the workplace away from the office, virtualizing the workforce, using collaboration applications, investing in new skills acquisition, and tapping into the talents of existing employees. All of these strategies are inexpensive and cultivate the essential ingredients of successful small (and someday large) businesses everywhere–workforce engagement, innovation and, ultimately, sales.

Top Ten Bookkeeping Mistakes

We have noticed, in our years of consulting, these ten mistakes seem to be a recurring theme among business owners that “try” to do their own bookkeeping. #10: “Unless you have the skills and time, don’t keep the books yourself. No matter how much they despise and avoid the task, many small business owners insist on doing it themselves” Find a qualified bookkeeper that is detailed orientated and meet with them on a regular basis. ~ Sarah Nance, CEO All Star Accounting (www.allstaraccounting.net)Sarah Nance, CEO All Star Accounting

For many small business owners, bookkeeping is a part of the business that is often overlooked, or left until the last minute.

Bookkeeping is a task that many business owners hate doing, and is often rushed, left to the last minute, or carried out late at night after a hard day at the office or on site
Simple bookkeeping mistakes can become very costly, sometimes even thousands of dollars- cash that would be better seen in the bottom line. Incorrect bookkeeping can expose owners to substantial fines if discovered by a Tax Office audit

Top Ten Bookkeeping Mistakes

1. Not Separating business and personal funds.
Don’t mix business expenses with personal finances.

2. Leave an audit trail.
Record keeping will be much more effective and accurate using a bookkeeping system to easily and quickly retrace your company’s financial activities.

3. Ensure that bank and credit card statements have a month-end cutoff.Synchronizing the bank and credit card statements with the monthly cycle makes it easier to track expenses and reconcile accounts

4. Use a computerised accounting system
– or hire a bookkeeper to do it for you. Accounting software makes it easy to track income and expenses, produce monthly reports etc

5. Save receipts
Save receipts for all purchases, even those for purchases less than $75. While such receipts may not be required by the ATO, they serve as the perfect backup documentation for the many deductions you may claim.

6. Tracking reimbursable expenses.
Most small business owners pay expenses with personal funds or a personal credit card.

7. Reconcile the books with bank statements.
Reconciling the books is an important part of bookkeeping

8. Remember funds collected as GST is not sales income.
If you charge GST , you’re a tax collector for the ATO – it’s not your money to spend!

9. Petty cash.
Many businesses are careless with petty cash.

10. Don’t keep the books yourself
Unless you have the skills and time, don’t keep the books yourself. No matter how much they despise and avoid the task, many small business owners insist on doing it themselves

How valuable is your time?

What else could you be doing to grow your business instead of doing your own book-keeping? A plumber may earn $80 per hour, but he can’t earn that if he’s spending 4 hours doing something that may take a professional bookkeeper less than half that.

So he has to weigh up $320 of lost income vs. $100.

http://bookkeepingteam.com.au/top-ten-bookkeeping-mistakes/

When to Outsource

Sarah Nance
Sarah Nance

We speak to business owners all the time that say they can’t afford to outsource certain areas of their business (i.e. IT, marketing,  bookkeeping etc). Our answer to that is – You can’t afford NOT to! Your focus should always be working on your business, not in your business. Surround yourself with qualified, trust worthy people and watch your business grow! (Sarah Nance, CEO, All Star Accounting http://www.allstaraccounting.net/ )

When to Outsource

5 tips for calculating the cost versus the benefit of contracting key business functions

By Amy Reinink   |   April 20, 2010

Michele Hanson-O’Reggio calls it the “lone ranger” mind-set: the tendency of small-business owners to assume they can and should handle all business functions in-house rather than pay to outsource those functions.

But Hanson-O’Reggio, founder of the small-business outsourcing and consulting firm Biz Success Partner, is one of many outsourcing and productivity experts to say that outsourcing, once seen as the sole purview of large corporations moving offices offshore, can save even the smallest businesses time and money.

In fact, Hanson-O’Reggio recommends entrepreneurs outsource non-essential functions almost immediately upon launching a business to let them focus on the functions they specialize in. “The expected return is greater than the investment,” she says. She and other outsourcing experts offer the following tips for determining the expected return for your business.

  1. Consider the overhead and non-productive hours. The first layer of cost savings in outsourcing comes from payroll taxes, insurance and benefits paid to full-time employees. Mark Loschiavo, executive director of Drexel University’s Baiada Center for Entrepreneurship, says entrepreneurs should expect to pay roughly 30 percent of an employee’s salary in addition to the salary itself for these overhead costs.Lunch breaks, doctor appointments and other gaps in working hours bring the actual cost of a full-time employee to nearly double his or her base salary, says Hanson-O’Reggio. Hanson-O’Reggio also says it’s important to consider the financial gains associated with spending time netting new clients rather than doing the bookkeeping or replying to e-mails.
  2. Know your worth and use that knowledge to determine when it’s worthwhile to hire someone else. Hanson-O’Reggio says solo entrepreneurs can compute cost savings for outsourcing certain tasks by comparing their hourly rates to the hourly rate of a contractor. For example, a business coach who makes $100 per hour can save $75 per hour by paying a virtual assistant $25 per hour to handle administrative tasks–and that’s not accounting for the fact that it may take the virtual assistant half an hour to complete a task that would take the coach an hour. That equation also doesn’t account for increased quality that comes from “finding someone who can do a given business function better than you can,” says small-business consultant Marc Resnick.
  3. Think beyond the basics. Increasingly, owners of small businesses in a wide variety of fields are outsourcing executive-level positions such as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer, seeking overall strategy solutions rather than single functions such as bookkeeping or graphic design. Entrepreneur David Walsh, author of Source Control, an e-book on effective outsourcing for small businesses, says entrepreneurs are learning that “outsourcing your CFO might mean a light monthly retainer with a retired CFO in the Midwest, or that outsourcing your legal might mean a bi-weekly teleconference with an attorney you couldn’t possibly afford to hire full-time.”Experts say the CFO position is especially ripe for outsourcing, as many entrepreneurs don’t feel comfortable handling high-level financials on their own. Paul R. Shackford, founder of B2B CFO, which provides part–time CFO services to businesses nationwide, says entrepreneurs often come to his firm when they find they can’t answer banks’ questions about issues such as cash flow projections or covenants. Shackford says outsourcing a CFO position can save an entrepreneur 20 percent to 30 percent compared with a full-time employee.John Gillespie, founder and president of Beyond the Bottom Line, a financial consulting firm that outsources financial services, offers the following calculation, which considers the fact that most small companies need a CFO’s services, but might not need those services 40 hours per week: A full-time CFO with a base salary of $175,000, plus an additional 25 percent for taxes and benefits, would cost $218,750 per year, or $18,229 per month. But he says most small companies might only need a CFO’s services for one day per week, at an estimated cost of at $6,400–a 65 percent savings.The trend isn’t limited to CFOs. Adam Atwood, principal of Kilman Atwood, which provides marketing strategy services to small businesses, says entrepreneurs can save anywhere from 40 percent to 60 percent by outsourcing the chief marketing officer position. “It’s an easy pitch when you can tell a business with $15 million to $20 million in revenue that instead of hiring a CMO for $150,000 a year plus benefits, they can pay about half that by outsourcing the position,” Atwood says.
  4. Get personal. Cost savings vary greatly from one small business to another, so many contractors provide free online calculators to help entrepreneurs determine how much they’ll save by outsourcing. For example, a calculator offered by Business Network Consulting, a Denver-based IT consulting firm, shows that a company with 10 employees that needs a “modest amount” of IT help and has a single 1-year-old server could save more than $6,000 annually by outsourcing IT functions. “Your potential cost savings are totally tied to the type of industry you’re in and the complexity of what you’re trying to do,” says Joe Kelly, CEO of BNC. “If you’re a 100-user company that only needs file sharing and e-mail, you may have the same costs as a 10-person company that offers financial advice and needs a redundant site and a lot of support.”
  5. Weigh the costs and benefits of offshoring. Advances in technology make it easy for even small businesses to connect with offshore programmers and they’re likely to realize cost savings by doing so, says Steve Mezak, CEO of  Accelerance, which connects small companies with teams of contract programmers worldwide. But Mezak says offshore contractors may require more time to manage thanks to differences in time zones, language and culture. Entrepreneurs might consider rural stateside contractors instead, capitalizing on the fact that a contractor in Maine or South Dakota is likely cheaper than a similarly qualified professional in Manhattan–and that any team of contractors is likely to be cheaper than a team of full-time employees. He says a programming project could cost $50,000 to $100,000 if farmed out to a team of contractors offshore, or about $100,000 to $200,000 to hire a team of contractors stateside, compared with literally millions of dollars to hire a team of similarly qualified contractors as full-time employees.