Success Stories

Starting Up During COVID-19 storytelling and pivots – The Power of WE

Starting Up During COVID-19 | Lessons I learned launching a cleaning company during a pandemic + other tips and takeaways for authentic storytelling.

Authentic storytelling is the most important thing you can do for your company. No matter the size of your business, or the industry you are in, authenticity matters. Your ability to be authentic affects your brand’s growth and ultimately its bottom line.

Many experts often use the “Apple Effect” to prove this point. Apple isn’t the greatest innovator in their industry. They have competitors that often out innovate them, and beat them to market. What Apple does do better than anyone else, is tell an authentic story. Watch this video here with Simon Sinek for the full breakdown on the consumer behavior behind this “Apple Effect” theory.

If you stop reading here and take nothing else from this article, ingrain these 3 things into your brain:

  • People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
  • Stories stick. Learn how to tell yours.
  • Be authentic in how you tell the story of your business, but do it with your end user in mind.

I have built many brands and launched many startups throughout my career. You could say buying domains and dreaming up new businesses is a hobby of mine and my favorite dinner table topic. I once took on a challenge from the author of the $100 Startup, Chris Guillebeau, to take an idea from a concept to market in three weeks. I met this challenge and in three weeks was featured on The Next Web.  While I no longer consider myself a “serial entrepreneur,” I am still obsessed with bringing ideas to life and have learned many lessons along the way. However, I don’t believe there will ever be anything compared to launching a cleaning company in the middle of a pandemic.

I’m currently a partner in two brands, Plant Aid and CAUSE+MEDIC. I oversee marketing and brand development for both. One is a plant cleaning solution that’s marketed for farmers and growers in the agriculture industry. The other is a luxury CBD skincare company. These sister brands might seem very different at first glance, but they do have something in common: their ethos. At the core of both of these brands is the belief that we can, and must, create products that are free from toxic chemicals to take care of each other and our planet, which ensures a safer, healthier and happier future for all. This is in our identity, it’s what drives the brands and the humans behind it.

About seven months ago we launched a new product called Clean Republic. It uses a variation of the formula found in Plant Aid, and the same active ingredient – Hypochlorous Acid (“HOCl”). Through CAUSE+MEDIC, we realized there was a need in the spa and hospitality industry for an effective, yet toxin free, cleaner. We knew what we had with Plant Aid could fill this need. We had our chemists formulate two different products, a Disinfectant + Sanitizer and an All-Purpose Cleaner, which we branded as  Clean Republic, and officially birthed her at a high-end hotel in Maui this past December.

We were just gaining some momentum in the spa and hotel space when the pandemic hit. It was early March when we realized that this virus was here, at our doorstep. Our small startup was faced with the great challenge of scaling and expanding overnight. Without a team meeting, or really a discussion of any kind we all quickly put our heads down and pivoted. We pivoted faster than I ever knew was possible – expanding our messaging and marketing strategies beyond high-end hotels and luxury spas.  We knew we had a moral obligation to share our effective, yet safe, cleaning solution with the masses. We sought to provide an alternative to the harsh, harmful chemicals we knew everyone would be using in greater volume.

My partners worked on creating strategic alliances, calling on everyone they knew that could help us expand our distribution so we could meet demands. It was – and quite frankly still is – a daily marathon without a finish line. It’s exhausting but certainly rewarding. I believe we are the exact team that was meant to do the job, and we were all called together to get it done. Today we are helping families across the nation keep their homes clean and healthy. We’re donating toxin free cleaning solutions to hospitals in need. We’re working with businesses big and small across a variety of industries. From hotels to hospitals, to industrial warehouses and luxury spas, office buildings and universities, and so many mom and pops in between.  It’s our jobs, our moral obligation and our ultimate pleasure.

Last month I quietly opened a storefront in my office space on E. Main Street in Buena Vista, CO. Before this pandemic, we planned on opening our first flagship store for our CBD skincare company, coupled with a spa. However, with the state of the country, we decided to launch this shop with Clean Republic as well – to ensure these essential cleaning supplies are available to the community. The shutdown has pushed our grand opening back, but we still plan to expand our inventory and open our spa services in time for summer.  If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s that community, wellness and health should be our greatest priority.

To sum up, here are my 3 takeaways that I learned through launching a business during COVID 19.

KNOW WHEN TO PIVOT

This pivoting moment was of course loud and clear for Clean Republic. During my career however, I have had other cases where this transition wasn’t so matter of fact. In instances where it isn’t so cut and dry, you’ll want to look at your performance, poll your audience, and listen to your intuition. It can sometimes hurt or feel like you’re back peddling, but your future self will thank you for being honest for the sake of your business.

PUT YOURSELF (LITERALLY VISUALIZE THIS) IN THE SHOES OF YOUR CUSTOMERS

What pain points do your customers have and how can you help solve them? What are their fears and how can you help ease them? Here’s one recent example of this I can offer: as a business owner, I can imagine exactly what will go into reopening a business. Staff meetings, rehiring, logistics of hours, time, payroll, not to mention a new sanitation routine and new regulations you have to meet. So many things. And then you have to consider marketing and PR. Instilling confidence in your customers and employees, and convincing them your business is a safe place, will not happen without a thoughtful plan. I knew right away the marketing piece was something we could take off the plates of our clients,  by providing them with collateral that shows their business is clean and safe. I created “Certified Clean Republic Company” marketing kits that include window clings, stickers and postcards. We offer this complimentary to new accounts because we know these are pieces our clients will need, and if we can take this small but significant task off their plate, then we’re happy to do so. This has been a win-win because it drives sales, instills confidence and shows our clientele that we are happy to go the extra mile. Our ability to ease these growing pains for our clients allows us to serve them more successfully, which gives us purpose and gives our company wings.

DO NOT GO ALONE (PLUS IT’S WAY MORE FUN WITH MORE PEOPLE ALONG FOR THE RIDE)

I learned through hard lessons that you are only as good as the people you surround yourself with. We would not have survived without our team. We are small but mighty. We all bring something different to the table. When I hire someone, I seek out people that can help fill the areas where I am weak. We all have strengths and something to offer the world – and we also all have weaknesses and imperfections. Set your ego aside, hire the right people, and then get the hell of their way and watch them shine.

By Robin Vega – Robin is a native Texan with a degree in Communication Studies from Texas Tech University. Robin has over 15 years of experience in entrepreneurship, business, and marketing strategy. She’s worked with clients big and small across a variety of industries, including cosmetics, technology, food & beverage, agriculture, and cannabis.  Robin has a gift for helping businesses develop authentic brands and tell their stories through thoughtful design and intentional content marketing. In 2013 Robin’s marketing software company was successfully acquired allowing her to follow her arrow to Colorado and pursue her passion working with entrepreneurs and purpose-driven brands. Currently, Robin is a partner and serves as the Director of Brand Development for Plant Aid and CAUSE+MEDIC.

Social Channels:
https://www.instagram.com/vegagrams_/

https://www.facebook.com/hellorobinvega

https://www.linkedin.com/in/hellorobinvega/

Companies:
https://www.plantaid.com/
https://www.causemedicated.com/
https://clean-republic.com/

To hear more about this topic join Robn in a panel discussion “How Do YOU Bring Purpose to Life, Exploring Our Gifts & Sharing Them Through Authentic Marketing.” Held on June 15th from noon to 1:30pm. Register

The Power of We (Women Entrepreneurs) Forum Series, held monthly through the fall, will focus on heart-based thinking, the power or purpose, sharing one’s gifts, reimagining life/work via creativity and innovation and thriving by tapping into one’s authentic self and intuition.

To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.og

 

Your TRUE Purpose – The Power of WE

Right now we are being called to stand strongly in our purpose and higher calling.

But how do we know if our purpose is coming from our heart, or from our conditioning?

We talked last month about how our cultures and societies have shaped our language and how it makes us feel. I used the example of the words Success and Value. Our definitions, and the responses they bring in our bodies, come from the very paradigms that are being challenged and tested right now.

The world needs change, our communities need change, we need change. In the midst of this global unrest, the idea of change can feel overwhelming, unless the change we move toward is coming from our higher purpose.

Those ideas that won’t leave you alone, the nudging you feel to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do for a long time, the desire to move into work that fills you up – these are all coming from your sense of true purpose.

Everything we are feeling called to do right now, is coming to us because we have the capacity to bring it to life.

I want to share again the work of HeartMath. They have a meditation to help you tune into your heart and begin to understand what it feels like when the messages and ideas come from this heart space instead of our brains.

The heart messages are the feminine, while the mind is the masculine. We don’t favor one over the other, but we need to relearn how to listen to the feminine side of our beings to bring ourselves and the world back into balance. Our conditioning, education, expectations in the workplace have all been created within this masculine paradigm. We are seeing, in extreme situations, that these structures no longer work. Have they ever? For some – yes, for all – no. Why? Because they operate from the absence of the feminine. They discount and discredit the intuitive, deeper knowing that is a connection with the greater good working to emerge.

So, what to do? How do we recognize and move into action around our true purpose? The answer can be found within your heart. How to move forward will look different for us all, based on our strengths and gifts. Putting those gifts into action requires the feminine qualities of trust, acceptance, and acknowledgement that the light and dark exist within each other.

I invite you to sit quietly and take some long, settling breaths. Place your hand on your heart, close your eyes, and ask this space of deeper knowing, What is my true purpose?

By Laurie Benson – Laurie works with women (and men) who are curious about the role they are here to play in the world. Whether they already sit in positions as leaders of businesses and industries, or are just stepping into what leadership of themselves, and for their families, and their communities might look like, it all begins with inner awareness.

She knows that the road to change begins with heightened self-awareness. We must create change in ourselves before we can change the world. Laurie and her husband Joel Benson also own and operate BV Roastery and is Laurie is also the founder of The Village in BV. https://www.inwardboundwomen.com

To hear more about this topic join Laurie in a panel discussion “How Do YOU Bring Purpose to Life, Exploring Our Gifts & Sharing Them Through Authentic Marketing.” Held on June 15th from noon to 1:30pm. Register

The Power of We (Women Entrepreneurs) Forum Series, held monthly through the fall, will focus on heart-based thinking, the power or purpose, sharing one’s gifts, reimagining life/work via creativity and innovation and thriving by tapping into one’s authentic self and intuition.

To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.og

Your True Purpose Links & Books Enjoy!
HeartMath works
 

The Power of Purpose – The Power of WE

Redefining one’s true purpose often comes during times of great loss. Purpose can unfold profoundly during loss. 

I have personally experienced this fact of life through my own devastating losses. I think this could be because when loss happens change is inevitable. I have found that the more, I fight change the harder I’ve made it for myself and others. 

We can become stuck in the initial stages of the process of loss and grief: denial, anger, bargaining/blame, depression, rather than embracing change and moving into the final stages of acceptance (and “finding meaning”). Often times our complete focus is on the desire to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. In our minds this will stop the pain, grief, and loss – and it’s natural for us to believe this.

Yet loss, change and processing the stages of grief, by moving through them, often brings incredible opportunities for rebirth, renewal and a refocus on self-awareness. A chance to come out on the other side stronger, more resilient and even more content and happier in the simplicity of living life with an open heart. Change forces us into new forms of awareness and understanding, bringing out in us the strength within to survive and ultimately thrive. It seems when we get to the dark levels of what many of us call “rock bottom” – the moment that we believe we can endure no more – then something beautiful happens. Our true essence emerges and insights to our calling or purpose become clearer.  

When we lean into change, hope begins to arise, self-awareness processes naturally begin to stir, one’s heart opens and the fundamental desire to live profoundly appears. Musician, Gloria Estefan, describes this as “coming out of the dark,” Yogi’s define it as bliss, many of us recognize these moments as the defining ones of our lives or an “awakening”. However, one internally defines these moments, they can be a moment in time in which more of our essential nature or character is revealed. 

Poignantly – amidst the Covid-19 pandemic – just about everyone in the world, internally and externally, is going through life altering, defining processes together. This pandemic brings with it devastating loss of what many of us held dear and, at the same time, incredible opportunities for reimagining life and work. Allowing each of us individually and collectively to tap into heart-based authenticity – for this is where our calling and power of purpose reside. Perhaps the silver lining in Covid-19 is an opportunity for each of us to reawaken, rediscover or reimagine our Power of Purpose.   

In Richard Leider and David Shapiro’s book “Work Reimagined – Uncover Your Calling” their dedication to its readers says, “To all those who have uncovered their calling to find a living worth living.” Maybe you have already been living your calling and your business is based on your purpose and then this pandemic stopped you in your tracks. These times still present to each of us the opportunity to reconsider what is important to oneself and our life’s work.

We are invited to reconceive ways to pivot and grow and connect more thoughtfully with our family, customers and community. Here is a great podcast to further unpack this idea: https://thebigknow.podbean.com/e/finding-purpose-in-times-of-uncertainty-richard-leider-episode-8/

Gregg Braden, American author, scientist and 2020 Templeton Prize Nominee emphasizes these ideals in a statement, “We’ve all heard the adage that the only constant in life is change. We’ve also heard that change can be one of the most stressful experiences we face in life. And it’s that stress of change that biologists tell us is the trigger for new ways of thinking and living—the evolutionary transformation that makes us better people, creates stronger families and communities, and ultimately promises our survival as a species. The formula is clear: the bigger the shift, the greater the transformation.”

He continues, “We’re living the shift from creating our lives based upon the way our MINDS see the world to a new way of thinking and living based upon the way our HEARTS and minds sense the world.”

To achieve this transformation, we need to get out of our heads and into our hearts. The Power of We (Women Entrepreneurs) Forum Series, held monthly through the fall, will focus on heart-based thinking, the power or purpose, sharing one’s gifts, reimagining life/work via creativity and innovation and thriving by tapping into one’s authentic self and intuition.

The current plan is to offer thought-provoking and helpful content (insights, internal or external development processes and work/life tools) via a blog/newsletter each week for three weeks in a row.  Then host a “Power of WE” free webinar with three panelists (one of each of the blog writers) that month. The writers and presenters will evolve and rotate.

Most importantly, we want and need to involve each of you on this journey. We want to hear your stories, understand your obstacles and celebrate your victories. We will be available online or offline to answer your questions or support you with additional resources. We really are in this together and it is a gift to each of us to collaborate and expand on varied opinions and experiences.

This journey begins May 18th and we ask you to participate through the polls and engaging with your questions and sharing your stories. We’ve set aside 30 minutes today, at the end of this webinar, to hear your stories of purpose, calling, reimagining work, your pivots and dreams for the future. Moving forward we will continue to ask for your engagement in a variety of forms including allowing interaction time after each monthly webinar. To view previously held WE Forum Series webinars email info@centralsbdc.og

By Jamie Billesbach, Central Mountain SBDC Center Director – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jamie-billesbach-9a122914/

We would love this series to spawn smaller discussion groups, mini workshops and perhaps even new, innovative, for-profit or non-for-profit concepts, to assist our communities. At the very least, we hope collectively we can assist each other to grow, inspire and encourage heart-based innovation in each other. Join us for upcoming We Forum Series click here for dates and registration links.

For handouts of Richard Leider’s Purpose Quiz and other tools click here. Recommend works: Work Reimagined Uncover Your Calling, The Power of Purpose both by Richard Leider. Gregg Braden’s works can be seen at this link. Why we work by Barry Schartz. The Big Know podcasts and Youtube. 

The Power of Purpose Links & Books Enjoy!

Watch & Listen Richard Leider’s work

Authenticity in Leadership – The Power of WE

Authenticity is a collection of choices we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” -Brene Brown

Authenticity – What does this word mean to you as an entrepreneur?  I asked several women how they would define authenticity. From corporate execs to stay at home moms to professional peace builders, from wilderness guides to non-profit executive directors to school teachers, from small business owners to movers and shakers in a variety of industries.

Here are the common threads I heard. Authenticity is showing up as I am, speaking truth, trusting my intuition, being present in this moment, acting from a deeper knowing than my momentary feelings, embracing imperfection, tuning into my gut, holding onto my deepest truth no matter what others think or how scary that gets.

Most of these ideas revolve around one answer in particular: “Staying inside my skin.” In my work as an Integral Life Coach, I call this being at home in ourselves.

Vocabulary.com defines authenticity as the quality of being genuine or real…the state of being authentic, or legitimate and true. The same website defines authentic as real or genuine, not counterfeit. And it lists reliable and trustworthy as synonyms.

So how does this translate for us as women entrepreneurs? How can we express authenticity – show up as real and genuine – with our clients, customers, employees and colleagues as we develop our products and services? And why is authenticity as entrepreneurs even important at all?

Here are 5 things you can do to increase authenticity in your business(es):

1. Identify, define and write down your core values for yourself as an entrepreneur and for the vision you have for your business or organization – what is the “bottom line” for what you want to create and offer? (3-5 at most is recommended, otherwise you lose the power of this step).

2. Run EVERYTHING through these core values to see if your actions, choices and plans remain true to your vision and what matters to you as an entrepreneur.

3. Do personal work to cultivate your inner knowing and authenticity with yourself –  your connection to your innate intuition – as this will always tell you if you’re on or off track (with your message, marketing, products, services, roles, etc).

4. Get clear about your Yeses so you know when to say “No” – and SAY “NO” OFTEN in order to support your Yes(es) – your values and your vision.

5. Get clear about your Target Market/Niche and be “true” to them in the message you deliver, and in your products and services; do not try to speak to everyone, and understand that this means there will be people who do not “like” –  or may even hate –  what you offer (hint: they are not your target market).

So, why so much emphasis on “authenticity” for entrepreneurship? Because this is a point of departure for successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs. Choosing to be an entrepreneur automatically takes out the possibility for “safety” and makes us vulnerable to risk and failure.

In order to create something new and needed and bring it to the market, we will open ourselves and our work to scrutiny. There is no way around this.

Dr. Brene Brown, author of countless books including “Dare to Lead” observes, “If you trade your authenticity for safety, you may experience the following: anxiety, depression, eating disorders, addiction, rage, blame, resentment, and inexplicable grief.”

This is also true if you trade your authenticity for people-pleasing, the need to always be “right,” the feeling of security, and/or the need to always look or feel good.

Being authentic in business requires that we be clear about our message and our market. Identifying our target market/niche, coupled with a clear understanding of our core values, will help us sustain authenticity in our business relationships and offerings. 

Speaking our truth through our message will not work for everyone that message reaches and will even possibly anger or upset some people. This is why authenticity can feel threatening. If we fail to put ourselves out there – to make ourselves visible – then no one can hate on us. But then the audience we are trying to reach and serve with our products and services can’t see us either.

I once heard a successful entrepreneur say: “Love me or hate me – just don’t be neutral or indifferent.” So, we shouldn’t be surprised when “showing up” exposes us to negativity. Because this also means we are visible to those we truly want to engage with and serve.

And if we are being authentic with ourselves, we can drop in and care for our own hurt feelings without letting them shut us down, quit or withdraw from the courageous work of being an entrepreneur.

Living from a place of true authenticity, what Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman calls “healthy authenticity” – or “our best selves” requires daily courage and a faith in ourselves to speak and provide what is ours to give. To be an entrepreneur we must be willing to share our voice and take up space.

We need to believe that what we have to offer is of value and can stand for itself. And then we need to do everything we can to stay true to that vision and be authentic in ourselves and our work. That is how we become (and remain) trustworthy to our clients and customers without burning out or losing ourselves completely in the process. With the Covid pandemic customers trust becomes even more critical – authentic businesses ensure trust.

By Heather Barron who has been an Integral Life Coach specializing in working with women on resilience, mindset, and self-care for the past twelve years. You can find her at Luminous-Life.com, and on all the socials @luminouslifeinc

To hear more about this topic join Heather in a panel discussion Leading from a Purpose Based Authentic Heart on May 18th from noon to 1:30pm. Register

Leading from the Heart – The Power of WE

What do you think when you hear that phrase?

Maybe leading with compassion, trusting your deeper knowing or intuition, leading in a way that aligns with your values. Whatever comes to mind for you is undoubtedly exactly right. And also most likely incredibly complicated. What does it mean to lead from the heart in our current business environment? How has this global pandemic changed what a few months ago represented business do’s and dont’s?

And even if you intellectually know what it means for you to lead from the heart, how do you put this into motion?  
The opportunity in front of us is significant. Our current structures and institutions began to crumble just a few weeks into COVID-19. Paradigms are shattering and they needed to. 

So, the opportunity is to redefine how we move through the world and operate within our businesses and visions.

An opportunity to trust our deeper knowing and bring it to life. Because it is from this place of deeper knowing – from the heart – that we receive the messages and ideas that are not only right for ourselves, and our businesses, but also elevate those around us and our natural world. The future we need to create comes from our ability to see our interconnection to all of life. The tools to do this have been with us all along. With every breath comes an invitation to connect with our strongest tool, our deepest truth, and the wisdom and trust to move things forward – our heart. 

There are some basic techniques for tuning into your heart that have been developed by an organization called Heartmath. They’ve spent years perfecting tools that are easy and accessible to all, and you will see them shared from the stage by individuals such as Gregg BradenDr Joe DispenzaDeborah Rozman and more.

It’s an easy entrance into somatic awareness – an understanding of what you are feeling and experiencing as you move through your day and how your response to these deeper emotions is impacting your interactions, relationships, and ability to act on your dreams, ideas, and inspirations. 

I’ve recently made access to my Somatic Awareness online course free. It’s a wonderful resource for scratching the surface of this deeper work. Work that will transform your life and illuminate the paths and opportunities you’ve been waiting for.

Leading from the heart is leading from the feminine. When I say that I don’t mean female verses male, I mean reconnecting with the feminine wisdom that lives within us all. We have lost balance and been taught how to function under paradigms and structures created simply from the masculine awareness. It is this lack of balance that has created this collapse in our communities, environment, economies, and more. (Learn more through the Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor)

The power to right the ship exists within each of us, and the opportunity is powerful and beautiful. The change we are seeking and wanting begins within. When we understand and remember how to lead from the heart we step into (to quote Charles Eisenstein) the more beautiful world our hearts know is possible, and we begin to see the path forward to creating this new reality. By Laurie Benson www.inwardboundleadership.com and owner of BV Roastery

 To hear more about this topic join Laurie in a panel discussion Leading from a Purpose Based Authentic Heart on May 18th from noon to 1:30pm.

Heart Intelligence YouTube Links & Books Enjoy!

Connecting with the Intuitive Guidance of the Heart, Deborah Rozman
WHAT DOES HEART INTELLIGENCE STAND FOR? | London Real, Gregg Braden
3 SECRETS To Unlock The Full POWER Of Your MIND TODAY, Joe Dispenza
Laurie’s recommended books:
The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible by Charles Eisenstein and
The Return of the Feminine and the World Soul by Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee