Category Archives: Business Savvy

The Power of False Doctrines

 

The earth does not revolve around the sun, proclaimed the Catholic Church leaders in the 1633 trial of Galileo Galilei.  Galileo was on trial for heresy, accused of reinterpreting the Bible which was forbidden. If convicted he would be executed.

Galileo had scientific proof that the earth revolved around the sun. The Church leaders had their own experts who cited the Bible and Church doctrine to support their earth-centric theory.  Why did the Church leaders cling to their false doctrine long after it was proven to be false?

The Catholic Church faced an existential threat in the 17th century on two fronts. On the scientific front, experiments conducted by European scholars were exposing fallacies in Church doctrines.  Meanwhile, the Protestant Reformation challenged the religious authority of the Catholic Church by exposing the Church’s corruption.

If the Catholic Church admitted that Protestants were right about corruption and Galileo was right about the earth’s orbit, what else was it getting wrong?

The Catholic Church leaders reacted as anyone would who faces a loss of prestige and therefore power.  They ordered Galileo to stop experimenting and to not talk about his discoveries on pain of death. Protestants were tortured and murdered in a forlorn effort to stop the spread of their teachings. The Church clung to its discredited doctrines in hopes of preserving its power, only to find its power and authority permanently diminished.

Now let’s fast forward to today’s debate about climate change.

The climate change deniers have staked their personal and professional reputations on the idea that climate change is a hoax. Over the years, several administrations and Congress have ordered government agencies to stop collecting and publishing data that might undermine their arguments denying climate change. They intimidate their opponents by withholding government research dollars.

Climate deniers face the same existential threat that the Catholic Church faced less than 400 years ago. If they are wrong about climate change, what else are they getting wrong?  Since the climate change debate is now inextricably entwined into our political debates, climate deniers fear an irreversible decline in power and authority.

The fear of lost prestige and power keeps doctrines alive long after they are proven to be false.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my new history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).

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And Then There Were None

Ain’t technology grand?  I had two laptops.  Yes, two.  One, a full size model, many years old with many, many miles.  As Fred Byrd, a Used Car Manager I worked with years ago said about a car I traded in, and it certainly would have applied here, “Well, you certainly have enjoyed your car.”  The other is a much newer, handy little light weight, very portable model.  In a matter of days, I had NO working computers.  And I have been used to always having technology at my finger tips.

So here’s how it went:  The old one had been running slower and slower.  Finally, it just didn’t want to work at all.  Oh, it would “boot up,” but that’s as far as it would go.  Later, a trip to the Geek Squad, who said “patience” was key (and all my patience has never gotten me any further with it) convinced me that it was time for a new computer.

What happened to the other one?  A mistake on my part, and one I want to share with you in hopes that I can prevent any of you from making a similar one, became an expensive lesson.  See, I accidentally deleted a couple of emails I thought were real important at the time, so I started on a mission to try to retrieve them.  It’s a long story involving my Gmail, my iPhone, Apple Tech Support, and what I thought from a Google search, was a bonafide Microsoft help desk that could help me.  The result was a very long lecture showing me, after I trustingly gave him control of my screen, that I had been hacked and someone in like Nebraska somewhere was accessing my computer.  Oh, they could help me get it cleared up alright, with a $400 commitment to use their security program.  Funny, I hadn’t had any trouble with this laptop until I called the number for help.  After what seemed like hours, I finally extricated myself from his clutches.  The next time I started my cute little “extra” laptop, I had an error message telling me an application was open on my computer and to call the number on my screen to resolve the problem.  I couldn’t get rid of it and I couldn’t open any programs.  What was the number you may ask?  Why, it was the number I had called for help of course.  I have now come to learn about “ransomware.”  Thence, the trip to the Geek Squad with two defunct laptops in hand.

The ransomed laptop was an inexpensive one, for sure, and I was able to get it “wiped,” but to the tune of about half what I paid for it when I bought it.  Yeah, I could have just given it up, but I REALLY wanted that bunch out of my world completely.  I did sign up for some security and tech support for this and up to about five more computers, which I will def apply to my new one.

This brings me to the next step…

So many choices!  I looked at so many laptops – I had to take photos to help me remember which I thought I might like (and could afford).  Did I want Intel or AMD, and what was the difference?  Did I really need a 15.6 inch screen again or would 14 inches do?  Oh yeah, and then there’s touch-screen or not.  How about a 2-in-1 versus a “regular” laptop?  You probably already knew this, but this one, I learned, converts to a tablet.  The list goes on.  And the price goes up.  I sure hadn’t planned on or budgeted for a new computer, but like everyone, I depend on it so much.

I’ve opted for the smaller 2-in-1 for now and, so far, I do like the touch-screen.  I have 90 days to decide for sure, one of the joys of being a COSTCO member.  Best Buy only gives you two weeks to change your mind.  Technology really is grand, I suppose, when it works.

About Jan Schim

Jan is a singer, a songwriter, a licensed body worker specializing in CranioSacral Therapy, and a teacher.  She is an advocate for the ethical treatment of ALL animals and a volunteer with several animal advocacy organizations.  She is also a staunch believer in the need to promote environmental responsibility.

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Recovering from the flu: Lessons Learned

flu

As I sit here writing this post, I am finally feeling more like myself than I have in a couple of weeks.  Two weeks ago, after a lovely weekend getaway with my husband, I got hit with a terrible bout of the flu.  I am not someone who picks up all sorts of little viruses from everyone I meet.  When I get sick, I REALLY get sick.  And this time was no different.  I had the fever, body aches, upper respiratory congestion, all of it.  And while my sweet husband tried valiantly to help with hot tea, soup and sympathy, there was pretty much nothing he could do to make me feel better.  My daughter, god love her, even sent an order of chicken soup from Whole Foods, along with a massive box of saltines.  And honestly, that was about the most helpful thing someone could do.  Mostly I just lay in bed trying to get comfortable.

So why am I engaging in this self-pity?  Well, this is the first time I’ve been sick while owning my business.  And that changed everything for me.  Much like a mom being sick while trying to care for small children, I had all the guilt and shame of not being able to care for my business “baby.”  Thank goodness I have a partner who could shoulder some of my tasks and was patient while I convalesced.  But honestly, no one could have been harder on me, than me.  And while I tried, I really did, to carry out at least some of my duties, I could barely lift my head off the pillow.  And as the week trudged on, I just kept beating myself up for not being able to do much of anything.

The second week of this flu, my fever broke and I felt less achy.  But the weakness and exhaustion continued for several more days.  I tried to do one big thing each day, and then spent the afternoon in bed.  I even tried to work out a bit, take a Pilates lesson, anything to get my body moving.  I haven’t felt that fatigued since I had mono as a teenager.  One day, I met with my partner, then had coffee with another business contact, and proceeded to go home and fall asleep on the couch.

Okay, I’m whining, I know it.  And while I’m also aware that my business can certainly survive a week or two of my absence, it was the unplanned nature of the absence.  Both my partner and I take vacations from time to time. But those are planned for and expected.  And of course, the randomness of getting sick also makes me feel out of control, and who likes that feeling?

So here I sit, feeling pretty normal except for a lingering cough, trying to figure out what I can learn from this situation.  Of course with any luck, I won’t be sick again for awhile, but there are other unpredictable situations that come up in life.   I guess for me, the biggest lesson is that it’s okay to be…human!  Getting sick is part of being human.  So is a family or pet emergency, a household repair or car breakdown.  In short, living life brings unexpected situations, both good and difficult.  Being a business owner surely complicates things, but if I’ve built a solid infrastructure, it can withstand these bumps in the road.  And I’m pretty confident that if I’d been a bit kinder to myself, I may have recovered a little quicker, or at least I wouldn’t have felt quite as fraught with worry.

So, here’s to a healthier body and a calmer, more forgiving (of myself) spirit.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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VOTE

Your vote your vioce

These past couple of weeks have been hard.  Attending the local vigil for the victims of the Tree of Life Synagogue mass murder, watching others on TV, reading the many stories of the victims and their families and talking about this horror with my friends have left me drained.  I am aware that my people has lived through this time before.  In fact, it seems to be our recurring theme.  But rather than relive the past right now in this column, I’d like to offer something else that has been repeated these last several days.  That is the notion that we, meaning the American people, have an opportunity right now, to make our voices heard.  We have the power of the vote to express our dissatisfaction and unhappiness, or for some, our satisfaction with the status quo.  The thing that gives me hope is that in our country, regardless of any administration, we have a peaceful outlet for expressing ourselves.  I, for one, have already exercised my right and voted early.  If you have as well, great.  If you have not, this is what I now implore you: VOTE dammit!  Today is Election Day!  Now is your chance.  Vote as if your life depends on it because it just might.  See y’all on the other side.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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Reflections on the Family Dinner

family-dinner-1

This last few weeks has been hard for me for many reasons. My business has shifted gears, in a positive way, but has resulted in long hours and many decisions.  My husband has been working on a big project at work, so we haven’t had as much time together as usual, leaving us both irritable and feeling disconnected.  The Jewish holidays have come and gone and, while spiritually uplifting, the attendant socializing and entertaining have me feeling somewhat depleted physically.  And then there’s the big elephant in the room, the circus freak-show going on in Washington, which makes me sad, depressed, angry and frightened.  I am not really a negative person, in fact most people would say I’m unnaturally optimistic, but this month has been a struggle, even for me.

But, dear reader, do not despair. I was hit with inspiration the other day during a random, casual conversation with some of my colleagues.  I had brought my lunch to a meeting and the discussion turned to cooking in general, cooking for families in particular.  I was the only person with children of my own, the others being considerably younger than myself, but each of us had something to say about our experiences with family meals.  I mentioned that, while my children were growing up, I made family dinners an every-night thing. As the children got older, had more activities and eventually were able to drive themselves around, attendance was not always one hundred percent.  But, at the proscribed time, dinner was on the table for whomever was home.

One of my colleagues mentioned that her mom didn’t know how to cook, so they ate out every dinner, or brought in food from somewhere else.  This led us to discuss what, exactly, constitutes a “family dinner.”  Did it have to be homemade?  Did it have to be at home?  Did it have to be dinner?  I was struck by the guilt the other felt that they didn’t engage in this daily ritual with their families.  They judged their parents for not making it a priority.  I, in turn, began to feel self-conscious.  I am not one to hold everyone to some random standard that fits me and in fact, I try to look deeper in these types of discussions.  Did each of their families make some sort of regular interaction happen?  Could they look differently at their family’s process and see what they did to maintain connection?  For my family, dinner was the available time, but for other families it may have been something else.

The discussion revealed to me the complex and intense relationship between families and food.  Not a groundbreaking thing, for sure.  But scratch the surface and you’ll find that even in today’s modern world where things move at lightning speed and dinner can be obtained with the click of a mouse, by opening an app or by a meal delivery program, there remains a longing for people in the same household to spend time together.  For most of us food is comfort and the comfort of eating with those we love, in our familiar surroundings, makes us feel safer and less alone in the world.

In these turbulent times, we all long for a way to make sense of things.  At the end of the day I still feel comforted by going to the fridge, taking out the fixings for a home cooked meal and beginning the preparations while my husband pours a glass of wine and we share our day.  When my children come home for visits, they ask for their favorite meals and we cook together, catching up and remembering what always brings us back together.

If you have a memory or story to share about your “family dinner,” please share.  I’m working on a collection of stories on this subject and would love to connect with you.  Leave a comment here, or email me at barbaradabpr@gmail.com  Bon apetit!

Bonus points if you can identify the family in the featured photo!

P.S.  Here’s one last picture from my Summer Garden.  Sweet Potatoes!  Just dug from the ground, ready to dry and store for Sweet Potato pie for Thanksgiving!

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About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

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Lessons Learned from Blogging

As a small business owner who blogs weekly, I field plenty of questions about my experience. Most of the questions are from other small business owners who are thinking about blogging to market their business. The most difficult conversations are with entrepreneurial sorts who are just starting their business and are looking for a quick way to generate revenue.

I know how they feel. When I started my human resources consulting business, I was transitioning from a career giving legal advice. I had no clients and a small network of contacts.  I began blogging when other methods of increasing my client base seemed to have failed. But after almost five years of blogging, I can’t tie a single dollar of revenue directly to my blog.

So my biggest lesson in blogging is that it won’t jumpstart the revenue stream of a business. What it has done is establish my company’s digital presence so potential clients know we exist and it keeps me in front of potential referral sources who are also loyal readers. That’s a return on investment that money can’t buy.

I continue writing my blog because I enjoy it.  It’s a wonderful way for me to demonstrate the scope of my knowledge on human resources and employee issues. It’s also a fabulous way to examine how humans work together in groups. Our relationships with our co-workers are the longest term relationships we ever develop outside our families. That means drama.

Drama can take many paths from bitchiness to physical violence. That brings me to my next lesson in blogging. Some drama is simply too controversial to cover in my blog.  Drama related to race, religion or politics is so polarizing that any conversation is immediately short circuited by the reader’s existing beliefs.

My readers reflect the diversity of our country.  If they want polarizing arguments, there are plenty of other bloggers who would love to have them as readers. But who wants an HR expert who causes workplace drama?

So I touch on these subjects very carefully while leaving the controversy to others. I prefer to look at topics that illustrate the absurdity of human behavior in common workplace settings.  I would never mock anyone’s behavior because that’s cruel and petty. But we’ve all seen (and will sometimes even admit to) creating workplace drama.  In hindsight, it’s often funny.

That’s the other big lesson of my blog. I want it to be enjoyable. HR is so boring if we only look at the rules and what is prohibited. If my blog is full of pontificating pettifoggery, no serious small business owner will want to hire my company to help with their problems.  But if the business owner has a chuckle about a situation she or he faces every day, they can face the day with a smile.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of HR, see my weekly blog HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which publishes every Wednesday morning.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

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You Are Being Watched

 

A now cancelled TV series began with a voice saying, “You are being watched”. The series was about a small shadowy group that used technology to achieve social justice. The final two seasons of the series were scary and depressing as another shadowy group built a supercomputer program that undermined our democracy.  The bad guys’ supercomputer system eventually destroyed the good guys’ supercomputer system.

The scary part was that we are under constant surveillance. We’re told that it’s for our own good.  Security cameras in buildings help catch trespassers. Cameras at intersections catch dangerous drivers.  Blinking blue lights in high crime areas tell the bad guys that their future criminal trials will feature photos or video showing them in the act.

We accept these invasions of our privacy because we trust the self-proclaimed good intentions of the private companies and government entities who invade our space.  Are we wise to be so trusting?

Consider Fitbit and similar devices which allow us to track our personal health. What if a health insurer uses that information to decide who is an acceptable risk worthy of their insurance coverage?  Who trusts Facebook after they proved that their profits are more important than the privacy of one billion daily users? Technology companies share our personal information with the government with or without a warrant signed by a federal judge.

The militarization of our society and its vocabulary means that everyone, including employers, wants to “surveille” and to gather “intel”.  Employers introduce wellness programs that help employees to live healthier lives; but really it’s about reducing employer losses due to low productivity caused by sick employees.

Employers also say they want to help employees work more efficiently in order to increase productivity and profits. That’s understandable; a lack of success means a lack of jobs. But how is technology being used to increase productivity? The newest tech toy for employers is described in the March 3, 2018 edition of The Economist.

Amazon has just obtained a patent for a wristband that would allow the company to track detailed information about each employee’s location and movement.  Amazon says this gizmo is intended to nudge employees into performing their jobs more efficiently.  Amazon is not using their new gizmo yet.

But what if employers treated their employees as the real assets that make the company a success?  What if employers rewarded employees for their productivity gains with better pay and benefits rather than blowing the gains on stock buybacks and pay raises for overpaid senior managers with golden parachutes?

Employers who trust and value the contribution of every employee don’t need to spy on them to nudge performance improvements.  Or to put it another way, just because technology exists doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to use it.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy.  To read my musings on the wacky world of HR, see my weekly blog HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which publishes every Wednesday morning.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please….. Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

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Building the Boat While Sailing It

When I began my human resources consulting business in 2011, I had limited experience running a business.  I am a lawyer so naturally I believed that I could become competent if I just did sufficient research. Research meant reading a lot of business books, a category I normally ignore on my to the history (specifically military history) section.

I knew I needed help after doing countless coffee meetings but closing few deals. So I began reading books about sales and marketing.  Two of my favorites in this category are Integrity Selling in the 21st Century, by Ron Willingham and Getting Naked, by Patrick Lencioni.  The gist of these books is that fairness matters and it’s important to focus on what the client needs.

That sounds obvious, doesn’t it?   A few months ago, I went to a meeting expecting to talk about how we could do referrals to our respective businesses. Instead, the other guy and his boss ran through a PowerPoint of their company’s brilliant services. They never asked about my priorities. They insisted on doing the presentation as they’d rehearsed it.  I’m still annoyed at them for wasting my time.

My biggest business challenge has revolved around money.  I witnessed incredibly poor money management skills while growing up. I was also raised in a conservative Christian community where money was denigrated as the root of all evil.  In a nutshell, I have lots of misconceptions and phobias about money.

To overcome this handicap, I read Drive, by Daniel Pink which explains that higher skilled workers value autonomy more than actual pay. I also read You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life, by Jen Sincero. Her book is hilarious, scatological and blunt. I’ve re-read her chapter on money phobias several times.   I found it more helpful than Think and Grow Rich, by Napoleon Hill.

At the moment, I’m reading Good to Great, by Jim Collins with my savvy women friends. The book explains the importance of getting the right people in the right seats on the bus so that a company can evolve into being great.  I enjoy our weekly discussions of each chapter because we are a diverse group with varying perspectives. It inspires me to become more creative solving challenges with my company.

I’m also reading Traction, by Gino Wickham, which I consider a companion piece to Collins’ book. Traction provides step-by-step instructions in honing a company’s vision, marketing strategies, and administrative processes so that it can become successful. I had a lot of the pieces discussed in Wickham’s book. Now I’m organizing them into a coherent format that can be understood by the rest of my team.

The learning curve in business ownership was steeper than I realized but I wouldn’t trade this journey for anything.  I’ll admit, though, that sometimes it feels like I’m building the boat while trying to sail it.

 

About Norma Shirk

My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy.

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Business 101: A Savvy Woman’s Book Club

Book Club

A few of us savvy women are currently part of somewhat unique book club. Rather than reading the latest bestseller, romance or historical fiction, we are reading a business primer of sorts, focused on learning how some major US companies grew into some pretty great ones. The book, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins was written in 2001 and while some of the businesses profiled are no longer with us, the deep dive into the successes of these giants is proving to be both fascinating and moving.

The book details a multi-year study into 11 industry giants, which over a 15-year period, grew from being a good, solid business into a truly great company. Collins compiled a team of about 20 researchers who helped develop benchmarks against which to measure their subjects. They painstakingly defined the concepts of, “good,” and, “great,” compared the subjects to other similar companies, and what resulted is this book. It may sound dry, and I confess I was skeptical it would hold my interest, but to date I am about halfway through and I cannot wait to get to the next chapter.

One of the things that surprised me is how the characteristics, principles and practices that Collins and his team have uncovered in the great companies can be applied to most facets of life. Chapter Two, for example, looked at the five levels of leadership and defined what makes up each level. One by one, each member of our group began measuring herself against the top level and found herself coming up short. Our discussion that morning centered around how people in general and women in particular, judge ourselves harshly and often fail to see or acknowledge our own strengths and successes. The discussion led me to reflect on my own tendency to set a high bar for success and then when I don’t reach it, I feel like a failure. And this concept does not only apply in business. I can see it in my relationships with my children, my husband, friends and colleagues. I can see it in how I evaluate my own concept of success and failure.

The best part of reading this book, though, has been the group itself. Each of us has found something that resonates either personally or professionally and often, both. Our discussions are deep, funny, interesting, educational and sometimes frustrating, as we learn more about ourselves and our individual journeys. It’s exhilarating to be learning new things and facing new ideas in concert with others.

This savvy gal highly recommends you find a similar outlet. Books provide a springboard for so many wonderful discussions. Let us know your experiences with a book club or new experience. And if you haven’t already read it, try, “Good to Great,” by Jim Collins!

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

Like what you’ve read? Feel free to share, but please… Give HerSavvy credit. Thanks!

 

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Starting a Business: The First Year

Start_a_business_2_i

As many of you know, this past year I became the co-founder of a new Pilates studio business. It’s been a tremendous learning experience, as I’ve navigated a partnership, construction challenges in our space, working with instructors, clientele, etc. And now, another change is afoot. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Perhaps the most significant part of this process has been sharing this all with a partner who is also a good friend. Many people warned me of the pitfalls of working with a friend, but we plunged in nonetheless. We began with many frank, honest conversations about our goals, fears, strengths and weaknesses. After spending countless hours, gallons of coffee and some legal advice, we hammered out a written partnership agreement. As our lawyer said, hope for the best, but plan for the worst- case scenario. Oh, those lawyers! To date, I’d say our partnership is strong. We listen to each other. We support each other even when we disagree. We consult each other before making large decisions. We continue to share a common vision for our business. For me, the hardest thing has been separating our friendship from our partnership, and knowing when to change hats. My partner is someone I value and treasure and it’s been challenging to introduce the high stakes of owning a business. But, I have confidence that we have a solid foundation and will continue to grow as a team and that I will continue to grow as a business-person.

During the course of this first year, we have faced significant challenges with our physical space. Our historic building is being renovated and our ground floor location has been in the midst of a construction zone. We’ve had to create workarounds for heating and air conditioning, the bathroom is in rough shape and there has been constant noise, dust and other inconveniences. But through it all, we’ve managed to grow, albeit slowly, and we’ve worked hard to maintain our positive outlook and maintain our studio to our high standards. Our clientele has been supportive and appreciative, too.

But finally, and here’s the big news, a space has become available that is everything we have wanted from the beginning. In fact, it is a space that we’d eyed during our first visit to the building, but it was occupied. We have now snagged it for ourselves and at the end of the month, we’ll be movin’ on up! The rent is a bit higher, but within our budget, and we believe this new space will help us grow our business. It is in a completed section of the building and one with significantly more foot traffic. We will be in the midst of a more vibrant, creative tenant group and we are excited! I am also anxious about the increased expense, nervous about making the move work without interrupting business, the list goes on and on. But just as we took the leap last year to start this venture, I’m optimistic this will be just the thing to help us get to our next step.

So what’s the big takeaway here? I’d say to anyone thinking of starting her own small business, DO YOUR HOMEWORK! Take your time, write a solid business plan, get your financing in order, and most important, have your support team in place. We could not have made things work without the support of our families and friends. We also have a network of trusted advisors we consult regularly. My partner and I believe in community and in being a part of something bigger than ourselves. And that applies in business and in friendship.

About Barbara Dab

Barbara Dab is a small business owner, journalist, broadcast radio personality, producer and award-winning public relations consultant.  She is the proud owner of Nashville Pilates Company, a boutique Pilates studio in Nashville’s Wedgewood/Houston neighborhood.  Check it out at  www.nashvillepilatescompany.com.  She is also the creator of The Peretz Project: Stories from the Shoah: Next Generation.  The Peretz Project, named for her late father-in-law who was a Holocaust survivor, is collecting testimony from children of survivors.  Visit http://www.theperetzproject.com.  If you are, or someone you know is, the child of survivors of the Shoah, The Holocaust, and you would like to tell your story please leave a comment and Barbara will contact you.

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