I recently had the honour of connecting with a powerful leader and an incredibly creative business owner and interior design expert, Allison Crawford.  Allison is an interior designer and founder of Hotelette, an award-winning collection of luxury short-term rentals in Austin, Nashville and Dallas.

In this interview Allison shares with us about a bachelorette trip that inspired her business, why we do not need to have a huge budget to be effective in our marketing, and why the interior design doesn’t have to be a “fussy experience”.

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In every sense of the phrase, Lisa Mandy Seskin is a true leader in heels. Quite quickly after founding her own shoe brand (worn by Bella Hadid!), she realised there was a highly committed market for vegan shoes. Not wanting to alienate customers, especially those who loved her brand, she developed her first entirely vegan collection. However, like many businesswomen, Lisa knew that having a great product simply wasn’t enough and thus she developed a strategy working with influencers, to raise awareness and sales. Read all about Lisa’s journey below.

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I don’t know about you, but it seems as though every day someone announcing that they started a podcast. From big brands to small business and even those trying to build a personal brand. Podcasting seems to be becoming a more and more attractive means to deliver your message. Which leads many to ask, “Should I start a podcast?”.

Podcasting began to catch fire around 2004 and has only increased in production and consumption since then. According to Edison Research [1] there are more than half a million podcasts and more than half of Americans have listened to podcasts.

I am a huge fan of Gary Vee, who is a digital marketing guru and advocate for content marketing. He is constantly hypothesizing that content that is consumed passively (like audio) is more appealing to the general public. Why? Well, because we are busy.

As a culture, there are many things pressing for our time. Stopping to read a blog or watch a video is becoming a commodity. However, we can more readily tune in to a podcast on the go or while we are multitasking.

Considering that this is how many of your potential clients are consuming content it is probable that as a leader and small business owner the thought has crossed your mind, “Should I start a podcast?

Should I Start a Podcast?

Yes.

Well, no.

Okay, maybe.

See how much help I was there? Before we can address whether or not you should start a podcast, let’s first talk about what podcasting is and isn’t.

Without getting too technical (I am not the most techie lady) a podcast is simply an audio show that listeners can download a single or multiple episodes of.

Itunes, Spotify, Anchor, Google Play, Stitcher, are just a FEW of the major podcasting platforms which can stream your show for little (or sometimes) no cost. After your show is “aired” there are opportunities to repurpose content across your social channels. This provides valuable content even to non-podcast listeners.

What I have loved most about podcasting is its ability to connect with people from literally all over the world. It is also an incredible way to bring a more relational element to your brand. You are actually SPEAKING to your audience. It is a cool way for them to “get to know” the person behind the product or the brand.

You Should Not Start a Podcast.

Whoa. What?

I just spent several paragraphs raving about podcasts and now I am going to tell you not to start one? Well, no.

I like to end on a high note, and tell you all the benefits of YOU starting your show. However, it would be a disservice to you if I did not share the not-so-pretty side to podcasting. My goal here is to paint a broader picture and help manage expectations.

Okay, ready for the cold hard truth?

  1. You will not get immediate results.
  2. It is a lot of work.

Sounds like fun right?

The reality is that ALL content marketing doesn’t yield immediate results and is a lot of work. So this should not come as a surprise to you to hear podcasting is the same way. However, I am still surprised at how many people start shows and get discouraged when the download number is not as high. Like with anything else, content marketing or not, results take time.

Of course, there are new tactics you can learn, and ways that you can improve your show, but more often than not it comes back to good old fashion grit. Another difficult aspect of podcasting is getting feedback from your audience. Unlike blogging or social media posts, it is harder to interact with listeners because they are consuming your podcast a variety of different ways through different apps, most of which do not give the option to comment on individual episodes.

The investment of podcasting

One more thing worth mentioning is the potential investment of podcasting. Before you spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, make SURE this is something you are committed to for at least a year before you quit.

Besides the investment in a good microphone and potentially recording and editing software (you can edit your shows for free using audacityteam.org)  you may decide to hire an editor, someone to design your show’s artwork and outsource promo material for your show.

You can, of course, do it yourself. I recommend doing it yourself at first just to learn the basics even if your long term plan is to hire out. Reason being, in the event that your assistant quits suddenly or is unable to produce your show, you are not left hanging and can still deliver your show on time.

Not to be discouraging, but realistically these are things you need to consider before taking the leap!

You Should Start a Podcast

Okay, here is the fun part, the reasons why you should start a show.

As mentioned before this is an INCREDIBLE way to connect with your current audience and be discovered by new audiences. Again, it is a long-term marketing strategy but has the potential to add SO much to your brand and reach.

If you decide to host solo episodes it can position you as an expert in your field. You can also share about your services (not too much because no one likes feeling sold to!) and even grow your email list by mentioning any free opt-ins that you have.

Interviews are also very popular among hosts for a couple of reasons. One, it is another resource to provide incredible value to your listeners. Second, it gives you an excuse to talk to really cool people in your industry and ask them any question you want. Let’s just be real here, that is pretty cool.

Lastly, it is A LOT of fun. I know I went on about how much work it is, but if you enjoy listening to podcasts you will likely really like hosting one. It feels really good to put together something that you are passionate about and have people actually listening to YOUR show.

No, really? Is podcasting right for me?

All in all, I am an advocate for podcasting. To say it has changed my life is an understatement. It has connected me with amazing people from all over the world and helped me build a platform where I can share my message which I am passionate about.

There have been times, especially at the beginning when I felt discouraged and wanted to quit, but I think anything you do that is worthwhile will have those moments where you question yourself and wonder if it is worth the effort for you.

Not everyone is going to enjoy podcasting or would necessarily benefit from it. I think all in all it is a personal decision and ultimately needs to be something you would enjoy. If the idea of starting a podcast sounds daunting and you already struggle with being overwhelmed, and time restraints, it may not be the best idea right now.

However, if the thought excites you and you are willing to keep a big-picture perspective and have reasonable expectations with starting one, I encourage you to try. You never know what might come from your show.

Heather Parady should I start a podcastAbout the author

Heather is a regular Leaders in Heels contributor and host of The Unconventional Leaders Podcast. She interviews successful entrepreneurs who have overcome great adversity and built something great. Read more about Heather Parady

 

[1] https://www.edisonresearch.com/infinite-dial-2019/


It’s one of the most visited pages on many websites and yet easily overlooked by business owners. Often it’s relegated to the bottom of a website, and for other sites, it is missing. So, we’re here to share how to write the perfect About Us page for your website.

A client of mine recently confessed to me that after a year of putting it off, she had finally begun writing her About page. The reason for the sudden action? A customer had emailed and asked why she didn’t have one! That was enough to get her moving on it quickly.

For many people, it is the most difficult page on your website to write. It can be hard to know what to say when you live and breath your business every day. Writing their passion and brand story succinctly is a task many would rather avoid. However, done correctly it can have a massive impact on your personal brand and business.

Creating your About page

When thinking about how to write the perfect About Us page, it’s important to remember that people want to do business with people. A bright and engaging About page gives readers the opportunity to get to know the person behind the brand. A common mistake people make when writing an About page is thinking that it is a page about them. Instead, remember you are writing this page for your audience whether that’s your customers, client or readers. Consider what information your audience needs to know about you, to like and most importantly to trust you enough to want to do business with you.

First person or third person

Choose whether you will write your About page in the third person or the first person. There is no right or wrong, and both work well. Although there are many ways to write an About page, it should always be authentic and personable. Here is an excellent example from Time Stylers of an About page that is written in the third person but is still relatable and provides insight into the person behind the brand.

How to write the perfect about us page

Keep it short but informative

Many people find that they either have too much to say or not enough. If you find yourself wanting to tell your life story, consider writing a separate post specifically about your journey and provide a link on the about page so that those who are interested in reading more about you can do so at their leisure. If on the other hand, you find you are stuck for words, ask a friend who knows you well to help you identify the information you should share.

Tell your brand story

Include the brand story or the history of the business and how it has changed or grown when thinking about how to write the perfect about us page. Provide some insights into why you started your business and the values your business represents. The Thankyou company does a great job of using statistics and facts to share their brand story and passion for their cause as well as introducing the key players in the business.

How to write the perfect about us page

Explain the problem your product or service solves

Describe the people that you help, outlining the typical issues that they face and how you help solve the problem for them. Here is an example by Moxie, who make sanitary products. The note from founder Mia Klitsis effectively explains problems women can easily relate to when it comes to menstruation.

How to write the perfect about us page

Share something personal

To avoid oversharing and boring your readers keep it light, humorous and exciting. After sharing your story, you could try including five things your readers may not know about you!

Choose a conversational tone

Write as if you are speaking to a friend. A great way to do this is to shorten your words.

For example, I have not been in the industry as long as others, so my ideas are fresh.

can become;

haven’t been in the industry as long as others, so my ideas are fresh.

Keep the page engaging by breaking up the layout

Keep people reading your page by ensuring its design is pleasing to the eye. Avoid too much text, create intentional spaces and different elements for the readers such as images, video, breakout boxes and infographics.

Include an Image of yourself

An image of you is a must for an About page. Choose a high-quality image that is authentically you and demonstrates how approachable and professional you are. Photos of you doing what you love is always a good idea. If you are a gardener, include images of you in the garden. If you are a cook, then have some photos of you in the kitchen. Another option is to have a short welcome video on the page that people can view if they choose.

Introduce the team

If you have a team, then a picture of you with them can work well. The Big Group, a catering and events company, does this particularly well. They have included some fabulous fun images of their team in different working environments

How to write the perfect about us page

Include social proof

When you’re thinking about how to write the perfect about us page, remember it’s not just a bio. A great way to gain trust and credibility is to include some of your success stories, your best reviews, logos of companies you’ve worked with or awards you’ve received.

Call to action

Every good About page should have a call to action. This is a great place to encourage your readers to connect with you. A link to subscribe to your newsletter or an offer on your product or services works well here.

Don’t forget to share how your reader can get to know you better by providing your social media handles.

There is no time like the present. Its time to get writing and sharing with your readers an insight into why you do what you do.

Have you got any other tips you’d like to share?

Sarah Makris
About Sarah Makris
Sarah Makris is a Personal Branding and Communications coach based in Melbourne, Australia. She teaches clients how to upgrade their communications skills so they stand out in their industry and get the flexibility and rewards they want in their careers. Visit her website www.sarahmakris.com.au.

Choosing a business name is crucial as it is typically the first thing people will learn about your new brand. Although it is a challenge, these three steps will encourage you to get the most out of your business name. By the end of the process, you will feel confident in your decision (and not like you’re stepping off the edge of a cliff).

Step One: Mission and Vision

Consider your audience when choosing a business name

When choosing a business name, it’s important to know who you want the name to appeal to. The name should be a reflection of you AND your target audience.

For example, a fashion brand targeted at professional women will be nothing like one geared towards fashion-forward students.

The best names are the ones that target a certain audience and engages them with values and emotions that they connect with.

A great example of this is the subscription service, Dollar Shave Club. This company markets themselves as a disruptor within their industry, with a quality product that is mailed to their customers. Unlike many of their competitors, the Dollar Shave Club doesn’t market their razors to a specific gender. Their name implies that it is an affordable subscription service, which are two elements that attract millennial consumers.

Look ahead

It’s important to consider the future of your business and where you want it to be in five years. If you want to start a flexible company that could grow into new areas, be careful not to pigeonhole your business. In the beginning, you might be launching a tech company and creating a new social media app, thus deciding that the name Chit Chat could be a great fit. The problem is that if you plan to expand into other territories later down the line, like adding a photography element to your app, Chit Chat is no longer an acceptable name for your business. If you plan ahead when choosing a business name you can prevent having to go through an expensive rebranding process in the future.

Tip!

Try to summarise your brand’s mission and values in a short project statement. Here are some great examples of project states to get you started:  

  • We need a name that captures our innovative and unique approach to selling insurance.
  • We need an effective name that sets us apart as a modern, youthful brand.
  • We need a reliable name that hints at our environmentally-friendly practices.

 

Step Two: Get Creative when choosing a business name

The essentials

It’s a great first step to gather all of your brand ideas in one place and figure out what kind of name you want for your specific business. The fun part starts now; you can begin coming up with name ideas!

A solid brand name should be:

  • Simple to say.
  • Easy to spell.
  • Understandable when heard.

If people have difficulty sharing your brand with their friends and family then they won’t share it at all. This lack of sharing will likely stunt your brand’s rise to success.

Narrow your list

Once you’ve created a list with a wide variety of ideas, you can start crossing off names that don’t work. Keep crossing off name ideas until you only have five or six favourites left. This part of the process is an excellent opportunity to gather feedback from your friends, family and target market.

When approaching your target audience, frame questions neutrally by asking “Which brand would you want to find out more about?”. Rather than “Which of these names is the best?”. 

Keep working your way down by picking a name that you feel is unique enough to help you stand out and supports your business. Your business name is more than a word – it is a tool that can help support your growth.

Remember, when choosing a business name, it is more important to prioritise something that will boost your business over one that you feel emotionally attached to.

 

Step Three: Check your Boxes

Secure your domain

A solid domain name goes perfectly with a good brand name. Your website is where people will find more information on what you do, so it is vital to have your domain and business name match closely. When you’ve narrowed your list down to just a few names, try searching if there are any available domains for those names.

Conclusion

Choosing a business name can feel like a daunting task before you start, as a lot rests upon a name. The name summarises your brand’s identity and serves as the first point of connection between your business and your target audience.

If you feel like there aren’t any good names left for you to choose, don’t worry! Keep brainstorming and go through each of these three steps and you’ll find your perfect name in no time!  

 

About Grant Polachek

Grant Polachek is the Director of Marketing at Inc 500 company Squadhelp, a global naming platform, with customers from small startups to large corporations including Nestle, Philips, Hilton, Pepsi and AutoNation. 

 


The glass ceiling might be shattered in places, but plenty of shards are still there. According to research from Carta, despite women founding roughly 13 percent of companies, they hold less than half that percentage in equity. It’s a gap just begging to be addressed.

Perhaps the best way to attack this equality disparity is for female entrepreneurs to take charge of their own destinies with personal branding. Women are in a unique position to brand themselves and the companies they start. It all boils down to firmly knowing who you are and forging ahead without fear of barriers.

Earning a Place in Any Field

Ruth Bader Ginsburg knew all about pushing the boundaries and creating her own brand.

As a female lawyer in a man’s world, she rose through the ranks by ignoring the status quo and doing her job on behalf of everyone she served, including minorities. We all know what happened as a result: She received a coveted spot on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While I could only hope for Ginsburg’s recognition, I’m devoted to being just as stubbornly tenacious, and I encourage other women to do likewise.

My world is venture capital (VC), which is also traditionally male-dominated. Except it’s changing by quantum leaps — the industry has been shaken up by public sexual harassment claims. Add to those accusations the fact that 74 percent of VC firms don’t have a woman partner, and it’s plain to see the field is ripe for disruption.

This is an exciting opportunity for anyone willing to flood the venture capital realm with gender diversity. Forty-three percent of people think female corporate leaders create safer environments for everyone, according to Pew Research. It’s an awakening of massive proportions, and it’s fueling great innovations.

Of course, you don’t have to be in venture capital to make waves of your own or develop a strong personal brand. Almost every field is trending toward diversity. If you can create your own story and path, you can own a piece of your industry’s real estate.

If you’re ready to wake up and leverage your unique perspective as a woman in the business world, solidify your story (and your brand) by following these four tips:

Be consistent and persistent

Your company’s brand and your personal brand must work together to effectively support your messaging. This is especially important when you’re recruiting and bringing other people into your business.

Instead of hoping for confluence, construct a plan to ensure your business becomes an extension of you as a leader. Neelima Jain is a great example of a powerful leader who understands this point: As the regional head of Energy Efficiency Services Limited, Jain believes a woman’s personal brand is enhanced by unwavering persistence.

“Doubling the effort to achieve the organization’s objectives has enabled me to neutralize the gender divide in a technical field that is still predominantly male-dominated, even in mature markets,” she said in a recent Entrepreneur article. “Commitment to this belief has enabled me to grow as an individual and a professional, today leading the establishment of my company’s operations in the UK toward making this organization a formidable force for change in international energy efficiency markets.”

Make a memorable first and lasting impression

Many professionals — especially women — often mistake pride for cockiness. However, if you don’t sing your own praises and share your expertise, no one will realize your value. To avoid getting left in the dust, solidify your personal brand and highlight your strengths.

Creating content, for example, can boost your reputation as a thought leader by strengthening people’s overall impression of you and establishing your mettle. Case in point: I’ve written a guide to help other business owners take initiatives and avoid pitfalls, which allows me to help others while also putting my name out there.

Another method to establish your personal brand involves speaking at prestigious, cutting-edge events. To cement my role as a VC player, I’ve talked at events like Slush, Collision, APEC CEO Summit, and Davos World Economic Forum.

I have built my overall reputation and track record from the ground up, and holding these talks is just an added bonus. But securing these coveted speech spots did land me a place on Forbes 30 Under 30 and the 2018 Young Global Leaders by World Economic Forum. People recognize my work, my name, and, above all, my brand. And it’s because I’m deliberate in making impressions about what I’ve done and can do.

Achieve results that matter

You can’t talk your way into street cred; it comes directly from the outcomes you and your business generate. Your personal brand affects collaboration with your team and what your team can accomplish, which in turn spurs innovation. But how do you get closer to innovating?

Several studies suggest diversity can be a key. No wonder organizations across the country are adding people of all backgrounds to their teams. Perhaps they’ve read the North Carolina State University research, which reveals that diverse workforces have higher productivity averages and ingrained cultures of resiliency.

When recruiting, hire people who offer differing perspectives while supporting the company’s core brand. That way, your culture will become richer without losing the principles it’s grounded in.

Execute and deliver

From a client perspective, what could be better than working with a firm that offers consistent branding and predictable results? At Fusion Fund, our team works hand-in-hand to raise the bar and collaborate. For instance, we don’t babysit founders. We look for founders with clear solutions and wait for them to ask for resources when they need assistance.

Having this kind of reliable energy and operational foundation means a great deal to our clients. Even founders we’ve rejected have referred us to their friends — that’s the power of the credible brand, both corporate and personal, that Fusion Fund and I bring to the table.

Women are continuing to make the tech and VC industries their homes as rulemakers, not rule breakers. Those that find, explore, and embrace their individual brands early will no doubt shine brightly as they rise through the ranks.


Lu Zhang is the founder and managing partner of Fusion Fund, a company dedicated to promoting early-stage venture capital for entrepreneurs. She is also a member of Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list and was nominated as World Economic Forum (Davos)’s 2018 Young Global Leader.