(Featured Image from D Magazine) Noonan (Left) and Sepkowitz (Right)
One of the things that I want to begin highlighting are amazing and unique churches and businesses that I come across during my travels or through interaction via the digital space. For those of you who follow me on social media, you would have seen that I was in Houston recently. I visited a few spots that had very amazing behind-the-scenes business stories. If I’m enjoying a place as a customer, I love to research the story behind it. While in Houston, I went to Bowl & Barrel for a night of fun. It was definitely an experience. It’s like the southern version of Lucky Strike that we have on the North East. However, Bowl & Barrel is just one of the businesses within Free Range Concepts. When I read up on their other businesses, I was blown away. They have been truly creative in creating experiences for those who think that they are just coming for a bite to eat. It’s more than that if you’re stopping by a restaurant owned by Free Range Concepts.
Business: Free Range Concepts
Profile Description: FreeRange Concepts’ founders, Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz, have a combined 20 years of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, including hospitality management, operations, acquisitions, divestures, and new store openings for multi-million-dollar concepts.
Includes: Bowl & Barrel, Mutts, The General Public, The Rustic
Owners/Partners: Kyle Noonan and Josh Sepkowitz
Sector: Restaurant Management & Hospitality
Cities: San Antonio, Dallas, Houston
First Year of Operation: $350,000
Second Year of Operation: $6 Million
Now: More than $20 Million (reaching corporation status) #BizGoals
What I love about this company is that they proved that you can indeed do business with people who are close to you. They never made decisions unless they agreed as a team. Sepkowitz handles the financials and the real estate portion while Noonan handles the branding and the operations. Sepkowitz was an investment banker on Wall Street before partnering with Noonan. Noonan came from operating and opening up locations under the Pappa’s brand. So imagine what happens when two people with this kind of experience comes together? The numbers that they’ve reached then aren’t so surprising. The one thing that I really admire is how they have the ability to turn something really amazing and make it a viable business. Ever had an idea for a business and thought it was a really good idea? They figure out what those good ideas are and make them into multi-million dollar businesses.
The Concepts Broken Down
- Bowl & Barrel: Boutique bowling alley & tavern dishing locally sourced American eats, craft beers & cocktails.
- Mutts: Casual eats & craft beers served concession-style on a dog-friendly patio, plus an off-leash park.
- The General Public: Modern gastropub featuring elevated comfort classics, cocktails, wine & craft beer.
- The Rustic: Down-home venue with locally sourced American eats, Texas brews & an outdoor patio with live music.
- Use your experience and passion to do what you know you have the ability to do
- Research and use tools to make that good idea something that can position you for success. Just because it’s a good idea doesn’t make it a good business move. If you’re going to go all in and take that risk, make sure you have some backup via research, funding, and more to make a solid move. Don’t be an idiot.
- Approach the market with something unique and build the experience around your center focus.
Some of their secrets include the following:
- Talk to your customers to figure out what they desire as you create new concepts for business
- They stay in their lane when it comes to their roles as partners
Want to read more on Free Range Concepts?
Article #1: http://www.dmagazine.com/publications/d-ceo/2016/january/freerange-concepts-kyle-noonan-josh-sepkowitz
Article #2: http://www.dallasnews.com/business/business/2014/12/04/freerange-restaurant-owners-get-ready-to-roam
Question (#LetsTalk): FreeRange Concepts has proven that unique business ideas can work. How have you used your creativity to create unique aspects for your own business or church?
Here is my review of #MyPromoBox by VistaPrint. #MyPromoBox is a box of promotional goodies that VistaPrint sends you every month built by a profile that you setup on their site. You can choose colors, upload your logo, provide your tagline, address, and images that you upload representing your brand. Every month they will send you items built from that profile. These were the items that I received in #MyPromoBox.
What are your thoughts? Would you subscribe to a service like this for $29.99? Do you think it’s too high or too low or the perfect price? Do you like how they send you various items per month that they pick or would you rather be able to pick your items?
I know. It sounds crazy. It’s the truth though. Bill. Warren. Oprah. Beyonce. Sheryl. Sophia.
Anyone that you look up to who have made great strides in business eventually worked smarter not harder. I’ve seen many quotes that say “Beyonce or _____ has the same 24 hours as you” or something to that effect. We believe that if we negate sleep and “hustle” into the night that we will become successful. This is the farthest thing from the truth.
Point One: Wisdom and Application is what scales business not “hustle”.
It is a common fact that you have to work hard. We could talk all day but that isn’t something to applause or hand clap about. Hard work is the foundation. However, what happens past that? Past the networking, social media campaigns, great marketing strategies, ect. It’s the wisdom. The reason why many are frustrated when it comes to your business is that you’re discovering hard work isn’t enough. You have to get REALLY good at what you do and you have to make it appeal to enough people to turn your hobby into a business. Many business owners are working hard but their revenue stinks. Slaving into the night using the same techniques and strategies aren’t working anymore. It’s time to change the game plan. In order to do that you need to do the next step.
Point Two: Relationships and not just networking.
Who doesn’t love to network? If you’re a business owner or in corporate, networking is essential. Actually, everyone networks in some form or fashion. However, relationships are what build monumental partnerships. It places trust and builds something greater than just a handshake. You aren’t meant to connect with everyone. However, I truly believe in divine partnerships. I believe that there are people out there that have been “marked” as the keys to the next level in your business. Each level requires different relationships. You need to learn how to further your business beyond what you just see. You need to be with people who are thinking futuristically about the industry you are in.
Point Three: Scale, Sell, or Stay Where You Are (The Choice is Yours)
This is something that I’ve been talking about more and more. Not every business is meant nor created to scale. Every business is different. For instance the mom & pop shop that sells pizza down the street may never scale into a franchise. However, it wouldn’t hurt expanding to a few more locations. Maybe they don’t want to. It’s good to know what your end desire is and build it out from that. Many small biz owners that I know just want to make a few hundred grand as a “dream”. I know that because I look at how they work. They are working and building their business to stay as a small business with only a few employees. Watch how you’re building your business. Are you building it to grow or stay small forever? Do you want to be the one packaging all of the orders or just in one location or are you building with growth in mind. I believe that small businesses are the cornerstone of America’s economy. However, it’s important that we do learn how to scale our small into something that will last for a long time. Not every business has the goal to stay forever. Maybe your intention is to sell your company to a larger company. Is your company growing in that direction? Know what you want and grow it the way you have laid it out. Otherwise, you’ll stay in the same place forever. Who wants that?
Point Four: User Experience
The best companies in the marketplace have capitalized on ensuring that their customers/clients are having an awesome time. The greatest in business have learned how to give the customers what they want or create something that the customer doesn’t even think they need and turn it into an obsession. Learn how to do that. Learn how to make something people want and need in their lives. Businesses are meant to fill voids or create voids people don’t even know exist. That’s the goal. That’s how you build a business from a garage to a multi-billion dollar company. You create something that you’re good at and you work it until people can’t deny your greatness.
(Originally written for BusinessBabesOnline.com)
Hey guys! My goal is to upload and provide as much content as I can per week. With blog posts going out twice a week, I wanted to mix it up with some videos. I received a question from a friend who wanted to learn more about starting a mug and journal business. This video includes what I learned when I started my own business. If you haven’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, be sure to do that today!
Purchase Mugs & Journals in Bulk
(Look at total pricing, some companies charge for setup fees, ect.)
1. Discount Mugs: (Mugs) https://www.discountmugs.com/
Discount Mugs (Journals) https://www.discountmugs.com/category/custom-personalized-journals/
2. 4Imprint.com: (Mugs) https://www.4imprint.com/tag/110/Ceramic-Mugs
Purchase Mugs in Small Amounts
1. York Photo: http://www.yorkphoto.com/SearchResultGrid.aspx?CategoryID=3340
Dropshipping + Print on Demand (Print & Ship)
1. Printful: https://www.theprintful.com/
2. Print Aura: https://printaura.com/
3. Spreadshirt: https://www.spreadshirt.com/ (Pays you according to their payment system. You do not receive your money immediately)
Self-publishing Your Journal
1. Blurb: http://www.blurb.com/
I’ll never forget it. Maybe it was about 10 years ago. My mother grabbed The World Is Flat and slapped it on the table.
“It’s time for family meeting”, she said.
At the time, I was 13. My brother was 12. I was trying to head outside and play. I had finished my homework and the sun was calling my name. However, that was the day everything changed our family dynamic. My mother and father introduced family meetings.
Family meetings are essential, at least in our family. You may call it old school but it has transformed how we function as a family. Even with life being different now, we still make time to all meet as a family and discuss everything imaginable. Here are some of the valuable lessons I learned through family meetings.
1. Family and business can mix if done correctly
Our family has a business in the education world. All of us contribute in some form or fashion. I left payroll about two years ago. However, in a few more years, I will return to take on greater responsibility as my parents get older. So even if I’m currently not there 24/7, I make sure that there isn’t a void that I am meant to fulfill. If you have children or work for your parents within the business, I’m sure we can relate in many ways. The one thing that I’ve learned is that lines must be established. Whatever role you serve in the office must be clear. I couldn’t pull the “Dad” card in the business meeting. My father always taught me that giving me the easy hand in the office would never make me the business woman I needed to be to run it in the future. When we had family meetings, we discussed everything pertaining to the office as a family. If we had ideas to contribute, we would present them to the group. There were several ideas that made it to the business side permanently like upgrading our site and implementing new marketing strategies. Even though my parents have a full staff, as a family, it’s still important to discuss these things as a private unit. It establishes trust in the tight bond that is there that only family can provide.
2. Family meetings are there as an outlet
There have been some “reality tv show” moments during some of our family meetings. However, that was what it was meant for. It was the permanent time in everyone’s schedule when we knew we could say exactly how we felt. Depending on how it’s laid out, we would have dinner together and have an agenda. We would have “open discussion” on the agenda at every meeting. That was when we let it rip. However, this was great because then we could also hear one another out and resolve our differences. Family meetings are a great format to resolve family issues and everyone is present.
3. It helped developed family culture
You may be great at developing a healthy company culture but family culture comes first. You can always start another business. You can’t start another family. The greatest thing that family meetings did was establish a sense of unity in where we were headed. Our lives as a family are all over the place. All of us are active in our own ventures along with staying together as a family. Getting everyone together in one room at a specific time can be challenging. However, it helped us become intentional about loving one another and respecting each other’s time. It helped us learn how to carry forth meetings professionally within the home. I’m not saying that we ran our meetings like a board room. However, we did pick books to read and my mother would print out pages from certain portions of the book and we would read it. John Maxwell became an easy family favorite. We also picked Malcolm Gladwell and have even brought in articles that were great family topics. We always focus on teamwork, communication, and love.
What if I don’t have kids?
The same things still apply. You don’t have to have children to set aside time with your partner and create some sort of family structure. Pick out a book to read as a pair and enjoy one another’s company aside from all the hustle and madness of the office. Discuss your schedules and your heart. What are you working on that you want to tell them about? What are their dreams? Are they still working on that idea they mentioned last week? These things matter.
Now what does this have to do with entrepreneurship?
Everything. Family dynamics are huge. At the end of our family meetings, we discuss what we have coming up for the week. If there’s an important event that one family member would like for us to support, we mark it. This is a great idea especially if you have a larger family. I remember growing up and seeing my mother build their business. Soon, my father left his high paying job to support her. When it became the both of them, they explained to us the time that was being put into the business. Because of the family meetings and the right to express our heart, we understood the sacrifice they were making. Even in some of our readings, our parents connected them to their business. It helped us understand why they were doing what they loved. They brought us into the office and we grew up becoming a part of the not just the family but the business. This is why family meetings are important. It helps your children have an outlet to express their thoughts and desires in life period. It gives you a chance to share yours as well. As an entrepreneur it’s vital that we make time for our families.
Your first business is your home.
Never forget that. The return on the investment is greater than anything you could even find here on earth. Here’s to wonderful family conversations and yummy dinners!
So…tell me about your family traditions. Do you have a way for the family to connect on a weekly or monthly basis? Maybe we can get some ideas from one another!
See you at the top!
(Originally written for BusinessBabesOnline.com)
So what does it mean to be a freelancer?
Definition: a person who works as a writer, designer, performer, or the like, selling work or services by the hour, day, job, etc., rather than working on a regular salary basis for one employer. (Dictionary.com)
Freelancers are those who provide services on their own terms as their own employer. That’s what it means in my words. I have readers who are coming into the profit side of their creativity. Hopefully articles like this can help you better understand how to make a real profit from your gifts and talents. When I became a freelancer, I didn’t have a mentor. Coming from a business that had several staff and more, I never thought about the small things. In business, the small things matter. Here are five things that I wish someone would have told me. Now of course, they may seem very basic. However, you would be surprised how we miss the “little things”.
1. Color Within The Lines
This is the first thing I had to learn and quickly! Many freelancers work from home or operate out of a co-working space when starting off. This tempts many to work all day and all night because where you work is only a few feet away. If your co-working space has a 24-hr open door policy this can be a very open field as far as your hours of working. However, just because you are your own boss doesn’t mean you need self-control. A good number of creatives are not great at time management or honestly any management of any kind. We hire people to do these things for us or teach us how to do these things because we care about the “expression” aka our gifts to be shared. However, we must learn for ourselves how to be a manager of us. If you can’t manage yourself, don’t go into business. You must learn how to set hours. Shut down the computer at a set time and unplug. Stop answering client calls past a certain time. Staples closes near me at 9 PM. Staples does not care about me calling them at 9:30 PM asking why they aren’t open. The phones won’t be answered because no one is there. Staples desires to serve me the best they can. However, management means knowing when to open and close.
The same goes for the space you work in. Have a set place where you work. Create order and a routine in your life. For me, I’ve worked from a laptop for years. I don’t really need a set office. However, there does need to be a HQ (headquarters) where I keep all of my important paperwork, files, ect. So even though you may travel around, there should be a “office home” for yourself. You need to have lines of separation. When you blur the lines, you won’t know when to stop working. This is unhealthy. Lastly, get yourself some sunlight. Open up the windows. This goes for those of you who have the ability to work from home. I work hardcore. For a long time, I liked the blinds shut, music blasting in my headphones, and would sit in one spot for 12-15 hours (sometimes longer). That was unhealthy. I ended up having dizzy spells, dehydration, and loss of sleep. Now, I can’t blame anyone but myself. It was my unhealthy schedule, poor deadlines, and more that created this storm. Nevertheless, you fix it. You do what you have to do for the sake of your sanity and you move on.
2. Your Piggy Bank Is Your Best Friend
So this may seem like an obvious one but track your finances. As a freelancer (even if you file as an LLC), the IRS sees you as a self-employed individual. Therefore, a single employee LLC does not pay taxes as the business but as the individual. With this in mind, receipts and a trail are your best friend. Don’t trust credit card statements because it doesn’t include what was actually purchased. You need to be able to divide what was a business expense and what was a personal expense. I learned this early on as a little girl. Let’s say for example you walk into Target. You see some things in the office section that would be perfect for the business. However, you also need to pick up some milk for home. When I come to pay for these items, I should pay for them as separate purchases (so two receipts). I would take the one for business and place it inside an envelope marked for that month (so example: Biz Receipts September 2016). You can of course use apps or technology that read your receipts and turns them into digital data and sorts them automatically. However, this is a quick old school way. So take into account things like gas for meeting clients or traveling for business trips. All of these things can be written off for tax purposes. Again, I know this may seem very simple. However, many mix up their finances. Why is this important? Well because when it comes to filing your taxes, you don’t want to go through the pain of having a receipt mixed with personal transactions and business transactions. You would have to go through every receipt to first figure out which one is it (personal vs. business). Do you have time to read every line? Do you remember if you actually bought the juice and fruit for a business meeting or if that was for a business lunch/event? Remember that your taxes are filed for an entire year so you need a complete year of documentation noting these transactions. Welcome to being a business owner!
I personally recommend using Quickbooks Self-Employed (only $5 per month). You can also get it with the tax bundle for $12 a year. I also recommend another platform called Freshbooks.
Click this link to start a 30 Day Free Trial with FreshBooks: Try FreshBooks Free for 30 Days
3. Charge Your Worth
Are you charging by the hour or by budget? Or are you designating flat rate pricing? Whatever you do, do not lower your pricing. There are enough $50 logo brands. Look at your business model/plan and see what your financial structure is. Have you asked yourself how much you want to make in a year? Divide that into months and then into weeks and then into days. From there, you can see what you would have to make in order to match that number. Now remember, that does not include expenses and taxes that you will have to pay. Nevertheless, look at what you are providing to the market and charge a healthy price. If you don’t believe that people will not pay for your services, then work on branding, networking, and connecting to the people who will pay that price. Of course, be realistic and see how you can make your skills and services/products desirable. Don’t overcomplicate your pricing. Have a back-end file that has pricing for your normal services. For custom products, know that providing a flat fee can be dangerous because you don’t actually know how long it will take. I used to provide flat fees and then I began noticing how a client would ask for 500 more things and being that I provided a flat fee without limitations, that was a problem. I’ve seen platforms include restrictions on their flat fee services. However, you have to remain firm if you do that kind of pricing. As I moved away from that, I went into hourly pricing. This is what the majority of professional freelancers do. However, please note that an hourly rate is not for those who want to get you for “cheap”. My rate was $100 an hour when I did hourly design services. Of course, I no longer design full time. However, these are just a few ideas of how to layout pricing. I truly recommend on not providing flat rate services and doing custom quotes for everything. This allows you to sell to the potential customer via email. Educate them on what they are receiving.
4. Brand Yourself
As a solo business owner, you have to brand yourself like none other. Show off your skills including behind-the-scenes of the process. Use your social media platforms and website to establish who you are as a service provider. People shouldn’t be confused about what you do. Make your online website a hub for readers to connect. Offer tips per week to showcase your knowledge of the services you provide. People have become DIY’ers. Who doesn’t want to save money? Teach your readers how to create DIY projects via your channel of knowledge. Show your personality on social media and engage with those who connect with you. I’m the most introverted person. I know that it does not seem like that. However, over time I’ve forced myself to enjoy social media and actually become a connector. Establish a brand kit for yourself, pick a set of colors, get a few photos in line for headshots, and start connecting with people. Travel and connect with people at different events. Be confident in your gifts and abilities. Have business cards ready in your wallet or business card holder. Be sure to build up an email list via your website!
5. Refresh & Stock Up on Creativity
This is just as important as running the business. Resting and refreshing on creativity is essential. I sleep a lot on the weekends. I watch my favorite shows on Netflix and break away from the world. When it’s after hours for your business, don’t answer the phone! Don’t answer any texts. You have to treat yourself like an actual business owner. When the business is closed, so is your files and task list. You can pick it up the next business day. Many freelancers burn out because they are broke and don’t get enough sleep. Guess how you can fix that? Charge your worth and set boundaries. Your creativity is an extension of who you are. If you’re running around drained out, you can’t provide your best to those who need your services.
So what are some things that you wish someone told you when you started your business? Are you a freelancer? What services do you provide? I would love to hear what lessons you’ve learned so far.