Entrepreneur Spotlight: Devin DuMond

What got you interested in becoming a marketer?

I got interested in becoming a marketer because I honestly believe in people. I love learning about what they have to offer, their talents and ideas. And then I want everyone else to know about it too! I know a lot about design and branding. I also love making connections. So when I work with my clients, I am able to apply all of my knowledge and experience and use those as tools to get their message heard. If someone doesn’t know how to get noticed, I am able to do that for them, and that’s the most rewarding thing about marketing.

What do you love about what you do?

I really love everything about what I do! Like, completely and wholeheartedly. What I do in my business — design, illustration, social media, consulting, managing, teaching — these are the things that come quite naturally to me. Nothing about it is forced. So when I work with someone who is frustrated or doesn’t have the time to do all of the marketing for their business, its actually fun for me. I get excited about it. And when I hear the success stories, it completely validates what I do.

Tell me a story from your work.

My husband and I started Hatch together. He’s kind of my go-to problem solver and the one I bounce my ideas off of. So when I told him that I was going to be featured for my expertise in marketing, I said, “But I don’t know anything about marketing!” He responded by laughing and saying, quite frankly, “Honey, that’s all you do is marketing.”

This conversation has been a total game changer for how I perceive the work I do, myself, and marketing in general.  In my mind, marketing is where a boardroom of suits are sitting around a table with a nervous guy in the front showing bar charts, diagrams, and statistics. This is NOT what I do.

My version of marketing is meeting one-on-one with a client, listening to them describe the message they want to get out into the world, and then me figuring out how to make that happen. I pay attention to trends in design and social media. I look at what other people do and think about what grabs my attention. Everything I do is very much based on my own experiences. I think, “Well, if I like (fill in the blank) then I bet others do too.” And then I tell my clients to go do it!

How has marketing been important for your clients?

I’ve worked with a lot of startups so these are people who are taking a risk, trying something they’ve never done before, and are often investing their own money into a visual identity or social media campaign. Having actual evidence that what I do for people has helped them succeed has been crucial in building that trust. When you are starting from the ground up, having a solid marketing strategy is everything. I spend a lot of time researching for my clients and want to make sure that I’m giving them the best information and guidance.

What do you suggest for your clients who want to try to manage their own marketing?

Pay attention!! Pay attention to what other people are doing and to what catches your own eye. And then try it yourself. I have found that marketing can actually be pretty forgiving. If you try something — let’s say an ad campaign — and you don’t get results, use it as a learning experience. Analyze it and ask why didn’t it succeed? And then do it differently next time. Its all about moving forward and not giving up just because one idea didn’t pan out. My husband and I have tried tons of different marketing techniques for Hatch and I can tell you that many of them were complete duds. But, we just don’t give up.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Chelsea Fox

Insurance is one of the most important things that Entrepreneurs miss when they start their businesses.  Often they don’t realize that it’s necessary.  This month, Fempreneur Chelsea Fox will be joining me in the Fempreneur Forum to discuss how insurance plays a role in all businesses and what to consider.  Join us.

What got you interested in becoming an Entrepreneur?

My interest to be an entrepreneur has been with me all my life.  My parents are self-employed where I watched their ups and downs of business.  At a young age customer service was my job at the family business, taking calls and saying hello to people as the came through the door.   At the age of 10 I had my first lemonade stand, by 13 I was babysitting full time, and by 17 I had started personal training at my parents gym.  I’ve always had an ability to find money-making opportunities.  I knew I wanted to be in business for myself for more than just the money, though.  I wanted it because to me it means a life of freedom not working for the man.

What first caught your eye in the Insurance biz?

Honestly, my intention when I began in 2014 was to be the customer service rep for the Allstate office next door to my gym.  I was still holding on to hope while struggling to grow personal training business I had at the time so I thought a second job would help me through the slow times.  Well, the office didn’t need a service rep, they needed a sales rep.  I took the licensing and passed on the first try so I saw that as a good sign.  After about a year at Allstate I was tired of only having one product to offer to potential clients and seeing many of them leave my office for an independent office because they had more options for them.  I began to research the differences between agencies and how they operated.  I was introduced to Michigan Insurance and Financial Services in late 2015 / early 2016.  What I liked most was I had the opportunity to be an agency owner.  It satisfied my want for more companies to sell insurance policies which meant helping more clients and, lastly, the ultimate goal for me to be in charge of my schedule and day to day operations.

What do you love about what you do?

What I love most is taking the burden of finding a new insurance policy off of my client’s to-do list.  I work with many business owners who just don’t have time for one more paperwork issue or to send documentation to someone.  I love being the personal insurance assistant for them.  I correspond with the company, I take photos, I send in paperwork, I notify clients of payment changes, and soooo much more.  I also really love the process of meeting new people that will introduce me to others needing my help.

Tell me a story from your work.

A success story for me is that I used to be terrified of cold stops in businesses.  I felt like I was interrupting owner’s days and the rejection took the wind out of my sails every time.  However, after continued effort to overcome the fear, cold stops became easier and easier.  How so?  Well, first off, I started paying attention to what types of businesses that other agents were constantly going after.  Then I went to my companies, all 20 of them, to learn what other types of business, other than the most popular ones, they offered coverage for.  I also began looking at what businesses were primarily owned by men or women.  Naturally, I connected with contacting more women owned businesses since, why not, that’s my tribe.  Also I was able to speak their language, better – it all began to flow.  I launched my new approach in November 2017 and it took off like crazy.  I was booking coffee dates with interested prospective businesses I had no doubt I could insure.  It was like a light switch had turned on and I was gaining confidence.  Now, cold stops are a regular part of my weekly agenda because you just never know who you are going to meet and if they may need your services.  Plus, I really do enjoy learning about other peoples business.  It’s fun to hear an owner’s story of how they brought their business to life and what they are most passionate about.  I regularly host Facebook Live Business Spotlight episodes to promote the people I meet.  Check them out here https://www.facebook.com/ Shesellsinsurance/   Email me at [email protected] to set one up.

What do you suggest for any Fempreneur who is starting to scale their business?

I highly suggest knowing what you are covered for and what you aren’t.  As Fempreneur’s, we blossom with new ideas like spring flowers.  We understand that having a hair salon, with a tanning bed, with nails, with massage, and with tattooed make up services all goes together as a full service salon, but your insurance policy may not agree with you.  Always consult an agent before advertising your services.  Insurance companies check your websites, they look at Facebook and photos, to get a sense of what you offer.  When you are scaling your business you may need to hire more employees.  I highly recommend background checks and references to prevent hiring an employee with sticky fingers or one that doesn’t understand personal boundaries.  It isn’t a fun day spent in court trying to sort out a sexual harassment case or convict a prior employee of theft.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Bri Luginbill

Meet Bri Luginbill, coFounder of People Picture Co and Better Body Image Conference.  In order for her businesses to grow, she had to scale.  Here is what she learned.  Catch her tomorrow in the Fempreneur Forum for this month’s workshop on Scaling!

What got you interested in becoming an Entrepreneur?

I think I’ve always had an entrepreneur spirit. When I was in 5th grade, I started “The Animal Club.” We met bi-weekly and we had $1 dues each meeting. During these meetings we talked about our love for animals and what types of activities we’d like to do to help animals. We volunteered at animal shelters together and then we saved up our dues and donate $100 to one of the shelters. I guess you could call that my first business.

From there I always had part-time jobs in different areas from a clerk at a local consignment shop to serving at a restaurant. In college I then worked with special needs children and adults and then became interested in documentary photography and writing. I loved the connection with people and learning their story.

What do you love about what you do?

I’m all about the people. I love connecting with new people and staying connected with old friends and colleagues. I think what I love most about People Picture Co and now Better Body Image Conference is the mentoring. I really love seeing what people like to do and helping them grow in their skills. Whether it be my clients or my co-workers and contractors. The one things that’s hard for me is I can care so much that it’s hard for me to see people go through hard situations whether through their business or personal growth. I want people to succeed so much and I really care about them a lot.

Tell me a story from your work. 

Hipster Santa – one of my best PR moves. This year since I was more freed up to do business development and public relations, I worked with Abbey from the Paper Studio and others on my team to create Sessions with Hipster Santa. A Santa that you didn’t just have your kids visit, but adults, pets, etc. We wanted to show that there was a more inclusive Santa out there than the mall Santas – so we went to different communities and had him be photographed with people at the PRIDE center, the Hispanic Center and many more!

What has Scaling meant for your career? 

Scaling has meant that I can focus more on Public Relations and Sales as well as mentoring and training our contractors.

What do you suggest for any Fempreneur who is starting to scale their business?

I suggest finding business partners, employees, or contractors that have different strengths than yourself. A company needs an assortment of personalities and skills to survive.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Lucinda Shair

Lucy Shair is a Financial Advisor in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and our guest for the February Workshop on Money Mindset in the Fempreneur Forum.  Join us at noon EST on Tuesday, February 27.  Here I interview her about her work and how Money Mindset can hold her clients back from financial success.

What got you interested in becoming a financial advisor?

I have a financial background, and when I worked for an accounting firm, I used to do taxes for lower income families, and I was always passionate about providing financial education and helping them sort it out.  I always had [advising] in the back of my mind as something I’d like to do, but I hadn’t done it because of the bad rap the industry has.  It’s a little like a used car salesman.  It’s very white male dominated, and it didn’t look like an industry that I would fit in.

Then I got cancer, and when you are faced with that, you stop caring about what other’s think.  I decided I’m going to make my place.  So right after I came out of recovery I jumped in with both feet and haven’t looked back.

Why do you focus on women?

I like working with women because, for one thing, I am a woman, and I get women.  I think it’s really important for people to see themselves when you need to have a trusting relationship.  Financial advice is so based in trust.  I wanted to be the person paying attention to the women.  There are tons of male advisors out there.  I like to think of myself as the financial advisor for the rest of us.  Because they aren’t going to come to me, and I don’t want to them to come to me.

What do you love about what you do?

It sounds really silly, but I love the people aspect.  I really love getting to know the people and what they’re really passionate about.  And the problem solving.  It’s really creative work.  Every person is different and every life is different, and what is important is different to each of your clients.  In each case you’re problem solving directly around them in order to improve their situation.  I really like that.  I love the problem solving – that’s left brain for me.  Getting to know the people is the rewarding part.  You can take them into a meeting and tell them jargon, but then I ask ‘ok why do you want this money’ and they change.  They go from a place of fear to a place of possibility and excitement.  So then I say ‘hold on to that, and let’s get you there’.

Tell me a story from your work.

I’m working with this client currently.  They’re very interesting.  They’re both financial professionals, but they don’t have time to deal with their finances.  They’re financial professionals and have so much money just sitting around.  Just losing money to inflation.  The woman is very much yes let’s [invest] and maximize our wealth and have this money work for us, but the man isn’t there yet.  It’s been a process of finding out what’s driving each of them and finding out how to bridge that gap.

So much of the money stuff isn’t about money.  It’s about feelings and blocks.  In this case she’s very [ready] and she’s getting angry at him because he’s on this other side of this chasm.  He’s like, ‘we worked really hard for this money and it’s ours.  Let’s not lose it,’ and it goes back to his childhood, I think.  It’s my job to take him by the hand a little bit, because you cannot beat someone over the head with logic when it’s emotional or fear based.  Yes, the best thing is to maximize the money and build the wealth, but we have to lead him around the block to the healthy choice.

It’s astonishing to me that the people who you would assume have their money most together are making unwise decisions.  The opportunity loss for these people last year was in the tens of thousands of dollars.

Expand on the ‘money mindset’ work you with your clients.

For the record, those words never come out of my mouth.  It’s a little too ‘woo’ for a financial advisor.  I tend to call it emotional baggage around money, which sounds a little more negative — money mindset is cute.

Don’t be afraid to invest in yourself, and the opportunities that will bring money to you.  We talk about the emotions we all have around money and how that can lead to not making the best choices.  Part of my job is to acknowledge where my clients are and gain an understanding of the emotional baggage of where their money mindset is.  Then help them come over from it to a place of health with money.  I don’t want to leave you with the fear.  I want to take you to a place of opportunity.  That’s how I do the best I can for you.

I had a client who said she doesn’t want to invest in anything risky because her parents lost everything and she wants to be secure.  I have to tell her that they didn’t have someone like me to help them, and walk her around the big chasm of fear.

What do you suggest an Entrepreneur do to safeguard their work financially?

I will begin by saying that everyone’s situation is going to be different.  I really think one thing that I see a lot of Entrepreneurs doing that worries me is they invest so much in their business but they forget to invest in their own future.

From my perspective as an advisor, when I recommend life insurance for people, I recommend it for people who have people depending on them.  Then look into term life insurance.  If you are doing something that requires you physically to use your body or you’re concerned you’re not going to have the ability to support yourself if you were to be injured or disabled, you could consider disability insurance, but it’s not my first recommendation.

My first recommendation is that you start saving early for the future.  I know it’s hard to carve out money from your business, but you can actually reduce your tax liability by paying into a step IRA or other options.  That will reduce the amount of tax that you owe.

The reason I say it’s so important, even though it’s so hard to set money aside during the nascent period of your business, the earlier you start, the better off you’ll be.  I know many people think they’ll sell their company and be taken care of in old age, but that’s not always the case.  In so many cases the business is themselves, and it’s not sellable.  So save for the future early so you take advantage of the time value of money.  It’s the whole idea of compound interest.  So if you invest 50,000 dollars over the course of your 20’s and then you don’t save at all before retirement, you’re still better off than someone who didn’t start saving until their 40’s.

If you are an Entrepreneur and you’re not making money yet, you can’t start saving out of your business.  However, if your partner has income, you can put money into an IRA.  So there are other options available to you if you have other income in your family.  It’s important to not forget about your own retirement.  This happens more often with women.  Women are more likely to take breaks from employment, and we are also less likely to earn less in traditional employment, and we live longer!

Join us in The Fempreneur Forum for our Money Mindset Workshop and other Monthly Workshops!

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Marcie Johnson

I was immediately drawn to Marcie when I met her at a networking event some months ago.  She holds herself with an easy poise, and is clearly open to others.  I was interested when she told me she’s a Wellness Coach and seller of Juice Plus, and hooked when she described the event that started her journey to entrepreneurship fourteen years ago.  I knew you would be inspired by it, too, and so I interviewed her for an Entrepreneur Spotlight.

When Marcie was 28 years old, she was diagnosed with stage 2B breast cancer.  I’m not much older than she was at the time, and the thought of my body going through that at this age is emotional.  It was during this time that Marcie discovered Juice Plus, not to sell it, but to use it for her own health and recovery.

Juice Plus is a line of whole supplements that started from the founder’s desire to support a family member with cancer, but had a hard time getting enough fruits and vegetables into their diet.

Marcie used the supplement line for two years before she decided to start her own Juice Plus business.  She told me it was her trust for the woman who originally introduced Marcie to Juice Plus (who then became her teacher during the transition) that made her feel safe in taking the leap.

This trust relationship became foundational to Marcie’s business and was reflected in everything that Marcie told me.  So often do we focus on selling as entrepreneurs that it’s easy to forget that we are simply interacting with humans.  Marcie has put relationship building ahead of selling in her business, and has found that both her personal and career life have benefitted.

For example, when Marcie reaches out to colleagues, customers, or friends, she leads with ‘how are you’ and truly listens, rather than getting straight to the point.

Three years ago, Marcie decided to add health coaching to her business in order to help her customers with their overall diet.  She sees this as a natural progression to the supplements she sells.  Health doesn’t just come from supplements, it comes from overall diet and lifestyle.  Her customers may make the choice to purchase Juice Plus without her coaching, but they definitely experience greater benefits from doing both, which is why Marcie doesn’t offer her coaching independent of Juice Plus.

What she loves about being an entrepreneur is what many of us love — the freedom.  But Marcie doesn’t want freedom for freedom’s sake.  She uses the flexibility to benefit herself and her family.

For example, a couple years ago Marcie was in a motorcycle accident with her husband that tore the skin from her foot, compromising her mobility.  Had she been working at a conventional job, her career would have been in jeopardy.  Instead, she could allow her body to heal at its own pace and neither her nor her husband had to worry about finances.  Entrepreneurship allows us that luxury.

Marcie’s Advice To Other Entrepreneurs

—  Allow people to be where they are.  This includes both employees and customers.  Pushing them will do nothing but aggravate them.  Empower your employees with the tools they need, and provide information to potential customers.  They will make their own way.

—  Allow the same for yourself.  It’s easy to compare yourself to other entrepreneurs, but each of us has our own path and it must be walked according to individual timing.  (I discussed this very issue in my blog titled “Stop Comparing Yourself to Older Businesses“.)

—  You don’t need to throw the baby out with the bathwater.  Looking at your past is a sifting process, and you have to find the nuggets of gold, even if the whole was less than desirable.

—  Consistency over time is the best way to build.  When Marcie first started, her business was really in support of her own use of Juice Plus.  Because she was consistent in her business model and relationships with others, her business has grown over time into a sustaining organization.

—  Don’t take rejection personally.  They’re saying ‘no’ to what you’re selling, not to you.

—  Expect that for every eight people you speak with, one will convert.  Of those that convert, every one in eight will become brand evangelists.

Marcie’s book to read:  “Go Pro” by Eric Worre

Find out more about Marcie’s work on her website.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Zoe Bruyn

Being in the Entrepreneurial world means a lot of networking and event-going.  It’s nice to get out of the office, though sometimes it can be disruptive.  When I heard about Dolphin Tank, a Shark Tank type event put on by the Michigan Women’s Foundation, I knew it would be the place to be in the Grand Rapids Entrepreneur World.  That it was held at my Alma Matter, Grand Valley State University, was even better.

I had no idea how many amazing ideas I would encounter that day.  In fact, there were two categories of presentations, with eight Entrepreneurs presenting in each.  Yet it didn’t seem like a long day.  I heard about a new nut butter not carried in America, beautiful custom digitally printed clothing, and an awesome children’s book company for teachers (being a writer, I’m a sucker for books).

One of the presentations in particular stood out.  I’m a sucker for causes, probably because my career started in the nonprofit sector, and this was a cause.

Zoe Bruyn is the founder of Stir It Up, a bakery that specifically employs people with disabilities — and she’s only 22.  Zoe grew up with three disabled cousins.  Two are Autistic and one with Down Syndrome.  She also spent much of her youth volunteering with YoungLife Capernaum, a branch of the nonprofit Christian youth organization that caters to those with Special Needs.  In all of this experience she noticed one very important issue — it is extremely difficult for a person with Special Needs to find gainful employment after school.

Like any Entrepreneur worth her salt, Zoe decided to take things into her own hands.  She piloted the idea by selling cookies made in her own home with the help of two employees.  They sold over 1500 cookies for Downs Month in March 2016, and another massive batch at the May / June West Michigan Miracle League games.  Such sizable production was unsustainable in her small home kitchen.  With the proof of concept a wild success, she began the search for a commercial kitchen.

Today she and her employees bake out of the Trinity United Methodist Church in East Hills.  They are already outgrowing that space, and she hopes to raise the money for a dedicated Stir It Up space in 2017.  Not only that, but Zoe has teamed with a local development firm to create software to walk anyone through the baking process.  With branded software and ease of training for people of all needs, Stir It Up may someday become a state-wide (or even nation-wide) brand.

I asked Zoe for advice she’d give new Entrepreneurs before we parted after catching up over coffee.  Much of what she said reflects my own experience.  Don’t be afraid to fail — that failure teaches you.  Personally, I misconstrued failure with a sort of death or stopping.  But to an Entrepreneur, failure is the lesson that shows you when to pivot and make a change.  We always carry on.

Try in baby steps.  You don’t need to have everything in place all at once.  The website doesn’t need to be up for you to make a phone call to a potential partner and talk to colleagues.  The logo doesn’t need to be done.  You don’t have to have five employees to have an idea.

Finally, Zoe hopes to mentor other Entrepreneurs so she might pass on the lessons she’s earned over the past year.  I certainly think she has a lot to offer.

Find out more on the Stir It Up website.

Entrepreneur Spotlight: Gwen Jimmere

I live close to Detroit.  Close enough that its entrepreneurial scene affects my work.  I’m a city girl who is a grump about driving, but 2.5 hours is actually not far.  So I get updates about the cool things happening in the Big D from time to time.

Last year, I read about the amazing work of Gwen Jimmere.  I can’t remember where I read it (probably in Entrepreneur magazine), but I do remember being struck by the work she was doing.  You see, not only is she the first Black woman to hold a U.S. Patent for her natural beauty line Naturalicious, she gives back in BIG way, and that’s what caught my attention.  She partnered her company with the STEP Program to hire people with special needs, plus she donates all mislabeled product to Dress for Success!

Ok, so I already thought Gwen was pretty cool, and wished I had a physical product so I could donate goods like she does.  As things tend to go, once I set the article down, I didn’t think of her again.  Until yesterday.

I admit I am sometimes oblivious about the events I go to.  I decide to attend, get my tickets settled, and then put it away until the day of.  This means I sometimes end up pleasantly surprised at the experience.

So it was with the Seeds of Growth Luncheon.  It’s a yearly fundraising event in support of GROW (Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women).  I spoke at the 2015 event, so I had a pretty good idea of what I was walking into.  Even so, I hadn’t given the roster much more than a glance.

Let me take a moment to say that if you’re in the Grand Rapids Area and need some technical help in starting your business (like finances, incorporating, or loans), GROW is the place for you.  It’s where I got my start five years ago when I was stumbling through managing my nonprofit organization after it gained 501(c)3 status (the application of which I figured out alone – don’t do that).  I chose GROW because they are also a nonprofit, which means their classes are affordable.  But I digress.

It should come as no surprise at this point that the keynote speaker for yesterday’s luncheon was Gwen Jimmere.  Boy, did she bring it.  She started with the feeling we all have — that entrepreneurship can be scary and lonely.  Actually, one of my favorite things she said was:

So.  Damn.  True.

She didn’t stop there.  She proceeded to offer five tenants to live by as an entrepreneur.  I wrote them down as fast as she said them so I could bring them to you.  Check this excellence out.

  1. Start where you are — that is enough.
    This is extremely important.  So many of us think that we need to have x, y, and z to start a business.  Where’s that MBA?  The $100k seed fund?  You don’t need it.  Gwen started her business with $35 to her name, and figured out how to apply for a patent on her own.  No excuses.  It’s time to start.
  2. Waiting is not a wealth strategy.
    This is something that Fizzle often mentions in its podcast.  So many entrepreneurs fail because they don’t even start.  They think they must wait for the stars to align (see tenant #1).  Even more, entrepreneurs get stuck when it’s time to pivot the business because they think they don’t have enough of _____.  Your business won’t grow if you sit on it like a nest egg, and it won’t become a nest egg, either.
  3. Ignore imposter syndrome.  If you weren’t supposed to be there, you wouldn’t be there.
    Lordy, who hasn’t dealt with this!?  Four years after I started my business I still have to tell myself that I know my shit and I’m doing the right thing.  We live in a society that tells us very specific steps for life, and when one deviates from those steps, all bets are off.  But that’s the beauty of it, right?  We can do anything once we walk away from convention!  That you had the ovaries to do it is confirmation you’re on the right path.
  4. Allow your business to tell you when it’s time to grow.
    Don’t get ahead of yourself.  A lot of people go into debt to grow their business before it’s ready.  Conversely, your fear may stop you when the business is begging for growth.  If the business is ready to grow, let it and believe in it.  Until then, keep planning.
  5. Work on the business, not in the business.
    Yikes.  Delegation?  Employees?  But it’s my baby!  Well, at some point you’ll need to learn how to teach others what you know so they can carry out its mission, and know that teaching is just as important as doing it yourself.  If you keep trying to do everything, including the client / customer work, you will go crazy and the business won’t grow.  I have trouble wit this, too.  Don’t worry.  Your business will kick you in the ass if you forget.

Finally, Gwen wrapped up with three book recommendations for all entrepreneurs.  I’d heard of two of these, but the third was new to me and I can’t wait to read it.  If you are thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, are in the first stage, or have been going at it for years, these books will help you develop further.  Check them out.

  1. Start With Why by Simon Sinek (People care more about why your business exists than what it is.)
  2. Purple Cow by Seth Godin (Being different is good, interesting, and will get you talked about.)
  3. Become Your Own Boss In 12 Months by Melinda F. Emerson (Even if you are your own boss already, this book offers some excellent tips — I’ll be reading it!)

I want to highlight amazing women entrepreneurs who both inspire you and do great work.
Know a Woman Entrepreneur that deserves the Spotlight?  Recommend them here!