Starting a Business With your Spouse? Seriously?

Should you do it?

Should you do it?

One of the recurring questions I get about our business is, “How do you work together?” It seems most people at one time or another have worked with a couple that has started a business. Often, I hear horror stories of spouses shouting at one another while the employees search for another job before the divorce papers are handed out.

My husband and I have been in business for 16 years so I thought at this point, I could offer some good tips on how to have a healthy marriage and business.  A new business is like a very demanding child that requires constant care. You must feed it and tend to its every need. The business child tends to have severe behavior problems and you never know when it is going to spit up on you. As time goes on, you both develop and grow. The pride you feel when you step back and look at what you built can be amazing.

Starting a business with your spouse can be a great benefit. You know you always have someone who has your back (in business that is sometimes hard to find). If you use the steps below, you might have a chance at creating something great.

How committed are you?

When you are first deciding to open a business, consider all of the negative consequences it will have on your marriage. How will you balance your family? One (or both of you) will have to work a lot to get things going, who will carry the heavy load of the business vs the heavy load of the family? Are you both fully committed? A business won’t be successful without great sacrifice. What does that mean to you? The more questions you can iron out in the beginning, the easier the decisions will be when you get to them.

Decide who has the final say

Some people live an altered reality believing that they can always agree on everything with their partner. There are times that you won’t agree. One of you has to give. Things are a lot easier if you understand who the controlling partner of the business is. That being said, the controlling partner should always consider their spouse’s opinion and never take control for granted.

Have the same vision

What does success look like to each of you? What is failure? When do you call it quits? Make sure you are on the same page for how the business will grow.

Clear well-suited roles

In the beginning of the company, both partners typically do what it takes to make it happen. Natural roles begin to form. One person is better at sales, while another is good at administration. Know your strengths and weaknesses and those of your partner. Talk about what roles you think you would be best suited.

Leave the business at work

Ok, I admit this one is the hardest for us. We are a 24 hour business, so there is always something going on.  Try to the best of your ability, to separate work from home. I am chuckling to myself as I write because while I was in early labor with one of my children, my husband had a business meeting in the lobby of the hospital. The good news is, he had cleared it with me (it was early labor) and it was an important meeting – see what I mean about being on the same page? If we were not on the same page- I would probably still be seething in anger rather than chuckling.

The good news is that it is possible to have a healthy business and marriage. It is not easy, but life is not easy. It is a journey to be walked. Personally, I could not imagine anyone better to walk it with than my spouse!

Serena Ayscue and her husband Jeff created ByDesign Technologies. A software company that services the direct sales industry. They are currently in their 16th year of business and support companies around the globe. You can learn more at www.bydesign.com

Top 5 Ways to Help Your Start-Up Succeed

Every new company starts with a mission

Every new company starts with a mission

The statistics are shocking. Start-up companies fail much more than they succeed. What can we do to turn the tide? How can we create a win? At ByDesign Technologies we have launched hundreds of start-up companies. We have seen many succeed for the short-term (3 years or less) and some for a longer period (3-6 years). But then there are the special companies. Those that are start-ups with longevity. What makes those companies special? I hope by sharing some of the knowledge we have gleaned over the last 15 years, it might help you if you are considering starting a business.

For your start-up company to be successful you must have the following:

#1 – Competence

Competence does not equal intellect. You and your team can be brilliant and yet not understand what needs to happen for your business to succeed. You and your team (if you have one) must have good planning skills. You must have good financial skills. Some people will get money from their investors and not spend it on the right things. You must have strong accounting and you must not be emotionally attached to the pricing of your wares. You have to understand the market and how to make it work for you. If you want your company to get off the ground and move, you or someone on your team should have an intrinsic understanding of finance. Ultimately the success of a company is dependent on what money comes in vs what money goes out.

#2 – Experience in Business Management

It is important to expand at a rate that you can manage. There is a saying, “Go big or go home.” While this applies to a few businesses, it does not apply to most. The companies that stick around and generate good profits are ones that take time to build the infrastructure needed to support great growth.

#3 – Knowledge of Inventory and Supply Chain Management

An intimate knowledge of your inventory, where it is coming from and how quickly it can be made is vital to your start-up success. If a product is a great hit, will you have the flexibility to produce it without a backlog? People don’t like to wait.  If a product stinks, will you be aware and be nimble enough to make changes without having a garage (or warehouse if you are lucky) full of inventory that won’t sell?

#4 – Good Relational Skills

When a business first starts, relationships are a key to success. Do you understand the needs of those buying your product? Do you listen to their feedback? Do you take it and use it to improve? What about other relationships? If stores are selling for you, it is vital to hear what they say about marketing your product. Businesses that listen well have a very high chance of success.

#5 – Tenacious Entrepreneurs and Understanding Families

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. It is very hard work. It requires dedication and many long hours. If your family is not supportive of your venture, it is likely that you will not be able to invest the number of hours needed for success. You must understand that the business depends on you to run it. Your software is not going to run it, your employees are not going to run it, your inventory manager is not going to run it. It lives and dies with you. Tenacity is required for the business builder and an understanding family is a key to success. It is a sacrifice. You must decide if it is worth taking.

Every business starts with a dream. At ByDesign Technologies, we want to see our client’s dreams come true. We want every business that uses our products to become a company that soars.

 

ByDesign Technologies provides mission critical software to the direct sales industry. They have had the opportunity of working with many start-up clients and helping them grow into industry leaders.

A Dog, A Parachute and a Kick in the Butt

Betty Feng and her dog Bing once he retired

Betty Feng and her dog Bing once he retired

In my last post, I talk about dogs that parachuted into war. Bing was a dog that was given to the army by 6 year old Betty Fetch and her family. They could no longer afford to keep him because of food rationing. He was trained with other dogs and on one of his early missions over Normandy on June 6th, 1944 heavy anti-aircraft rained on the plane. Bing became was so afraid of jumping out of the plane on that they pushed him out with an encouraging boot.

Upon parachuting out of the plane, he landed in a tree, had to be cut down and was later wounded in action. He recovered and went on to have many missions and save many people.
He saved countless Allied lives. During a second jump into Germany, Bing was sent on a dangerous mission to look in a house. As he approached the house, he realized that there were enemy troops and sounded the alarm. His human teammates surrounded the house, took the Nazis prisoner and Bing became a hero. He received the highest military honor an animal can win in the UK for his bravery. After his death in 1955, he was buried in a special cemetery in London. If you visit Duxford, you can see a life-size statue of Bing, complete with a parachute.

How does this dog’s story relate to us today?

We each have unlimited potential. Some of us need a good kick in the butt to get us going, but once we choose to believe in ourselves we can do great things! We are trained to do great things, but when the time comes, we cower in the corner. We forget how great we are. I am thankful to the people in my life that push me to be more. The world is waiting on your greatness. Bing was just a dog that someone had to surrender because they could not feed him. No matter what your past story was, your future can be great. Live it! Be brave! If you are a leader, encourage those around you to live to their potential. If you are growing into a leader, listen to what those around you are saying. Understand that they are pushing you for a greater purpose!!

There is a great page with photos of these dogs here: parachuting dog photos

Take the Jump and Face Your Fear

Did you know that during WWII, dogs jumped from airplanes with parachutes?? Doesn’t that sound crazy? I know a few of my friends (and family) that love the idea of jumping from a plane but for the majority of us the thought strikes fear in our hearts! Dogs instinctively like to be on the ground as well.

As June 5, 1944 transitioned into June 6, the 13th Battalion flew into Normandy. There were three planes, each loaded with 20 paratroopers and one parachuting dog. The planes bumped and creaked.  Heavy artillery exploded around the aircraft, but despite the explosions, Monty and Ranee (two of the dogs) remembered their training and behaved like veterans. However, the third dog, Bing lost his nerve and hid in the back of the plane, too afraid to move. Bing actually had to be thrown out of the plane! On the way down, his parachute got stuck in a tree, where he remained for two hours. He was wounded by German gun fire before troops were able to cut him down.

In life, there those who take the jump and those who don’t. What separates those two groups? I think it has to do with fear and how you handle fear.

Fear of the Unknown

You might not be happy where you are, but not being able to predict what is going to happen is super scary.

Fear of Failure

No one wants to fail, especially in front of others

Fear of Success

This one sounds crazy to me, but I know I have experienced it. What happens if this really blows up big? How will it change my life?

So how do you become more that Monty and Ranee (the dogs that jumped) rather than Bing. The one who got thrown out of the plane?

Here is some vintage video of some dogs parachuting solo!

http://https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A4zY1Bwdhic

Face your fears!

Sounds so easy right?!? There are many books that have been written on the topic of this and I won’t be able to address it all in a simple post, but here is my advice in three steps.

Identify what you are afraid of.

Logically mitigate any risks

Determine which fears are rational and which are not.

Make a move!

Decide if it is fear holding you back or if there are some good logical reasons. If it is only fear, push through it. You are an overcomer! The more you overcome fear, the better you are able to manage it.

(BTW Despite his injuries and the incident in the plane, Bing eventually distinguished himself in the field. I will talk about that in my next post!!)

The Empty Seat at the Table

 

Miss you!

Miss you! The empty spot at the table.

As we get ready to sit around the table the mood should be jolly. This is Christmas right?!? But this year, it is different. There is an empty seat. Several days ago, my beloved Grandfather passed on. It feels wrong to celebrate during a time of mourning. How is it even possible? Every place we walk, everywhere we look, there are memories; once reassuring, now haunting. No more hugs, no more laughs, no more sarcastic jokes or grumpy complaints. No more of the things we hated or the things we loved. No more.

It is my job to set the table for the family. Every year, we sit in the same seats in my grandfather’s home. Should I set a plate in his spot, even though I know no one will be eating there? Should I leave it empty? What should I do with the empty spot? I work my way around the table, carefully placing each setting. I contemplate how I should have prepared better. I should have planned for this moment. What goes in his spot? Perhaps something to honor him but I have no idea what would that be? A bucket of fried chicken that he always made sure we had at each celebration? A picture of him laughing? Some fresh oranges from his favorite tree in the grove? I move on from my thoughts and busy myself with different preparation chores.  Somehow, we are all moving forward. Who will say the prayer for the meal now? I suppose it will be my Dad but I have not asked. My grandmother seems amazingly strong…almost relieved that the suffering is over. She and my Mom busy themselves in the kitchen. It is a good distraction, but at some point soon we will be forced to sit at the table and recognize the empty spot.

More family arrives, we hug. Joy mixed with sorrow. Grief mixed with acceptance. Understanding that we are all in this together. We all have memories we carry with us and we are seeking to reconcile our need with normalcy with an understanding that our beloved one had suffered so much and was ready to move on. We each seek to deal with our own personal heartbreak.

The time arrives. We approach the table and sit. The empty spot remains. We look at one another, at the empty seat and close our eyes. We listen to a new person lead us in prayer. We are thankful for this time and for each other. We are grieved and know that this holiday is the first of many. Things will never be the same, but that is life right? We are all here for only a few moments.

We best honor our loved ones by continuing on. It is perfectly acceptable to grieve. The loss never leaves us, but we remember them by doing the things they loved. For my grandfather, we make sure there is always a bucket of fried chicken on the table. (or if the chicken placed is closed, we mention it) As time goes on, we begin to be able to laugh a little more. We begin to celebrate the memories instead of mourning them so much. There will be many empty spots at the table over the years. It is hard to face the empty spot, but we must.

As the holidays draw near, know that if you are facing an empty spot for the first time this year, my heart is with you. May you find the strength to enjoy the friends and family around you. Face life. Own it. I assure you, no one that loved you, wants you to stop living. It is hard…very, very hard. The closer you are with someone the harder it is to face the holiday.  Don’t stop living. You are important to others.

May your holiday season be full of love for those here and love for those who have passed away. May you make many new memories to accompany the old ones.

 

 

 

How You Can Help a Family With a Chronically Ill Child

jeffdOne day your child is fine and the next day they are not. This is typically how life starts for a family with a child with a chronic illness; the Doctor visits, the constant tests, the needles until there is a diagnosis. Then comes the living. The daily ins and outs. The dealing with this thing that you did not invite into the life of your child or quite frankly yours. A chronic illness is one that does not go away. It is a long-lasting illness that can be controlled but many times not cured. If you know someone who has a child with a chronic illness, the thoughts below may help you as you seek to know how to help them.

Sending a text, a card or a phone call is HUGE! Being a caregiver is tough. We try to make life as normal as possible, knowing that there is no such thing. Reaching out occasionally can change the course of our day for the better. We might not be able to stay on the phone for long or respond immediately but your effort is appreciated.

If you ask us how things are going, respond appropriately when we tell you. Life is not a picnic in our house. TRUST US, we want things to get better. When we tell you the truth, it is great to hear that you are thinking of us and care. Please don’t tell us your stories about so and so. Just tell us you care.

Don’t offer advice unless you are asked. As parents, we have scoured the internet and talked to every person possible to try to help our child. We don’t need you to fix the problem, we have experts for that…we need you to listen and let us talk. (One exception:if you have walked in our shoes, then we desperately want to hear from you.)

If you want to help, offer something specific. If you tell us to “let you know if we need anything,” we are probably not going to call you. If you tell us you are going to go to the store and ask if there anything you could pick up for us, we might take you up on it. Be specific: offers to watch our sick children so we can spend time with our other children are greatly appreciated. Picking up the kids from school or running an errand that is not out of your way is a big help in time of need.

Don’t look at us with pity.  We don’t ask for your pity. We want your joy. It means a lot to be around happy people. Help us laugh, help our children laugh. It makes life a lot easier.

We are on a roller coaster that never seems to stop. Some days are good, some days are bad. Some moments are good and the next they are bad. Our child may be running around playing one day and horribly sick the next. Don’t assume we are “all better” because things appeared that way when you saw us last.

Understand what we can and cannot do. It is very frustrating to constantly turn down invitations to things we can’t do. If the child has a bleeding disorder, playing tag is not a good option. Pay attention!!

Understand that sometimes, we can’t deal with your problems. Sometimes, it is all we can do to mentally keep going. We are not trying to be a bad selfish friend, we just cannot handle any more. Getting mad or thinking we are selfish doesn’t help.

Don’t give up on us. Don’t stop inviting us to dinner or to do fun things because we say no. (This goes into the paying attention category…find out if we can’t because we don’t feel good today or we can’t because we really can’t….ever). We want to hang out with you…really. Sometimes we just are not up to it. Help us know that it is ok to say no, you are not going to be offended, you just miss us too!

Recognize that many times a chronic illness is not outwardly visible. Blood disorders, asthma, diabetes, gastroparesis, arthritis…the list is very long. Our children might look fine and you might not understand why we are so stressed. It took a lot of work to help our child look OK today…have compassion on them and us.

Having a sick child can put an incredible strain on the family. It is fine to ask how we are doing as individuals or as a family. It is even better to offer up a date night or some alone time. (I think I already mentioned that!! *grin*) Being able to walk away and be normal for a few hours offers healing.

If our child does not know you well, we will be very uncomfortable leaving them with you We know we need time away, but our children are typically uncomfortable being alone with people they don’t know. They have spent a lot of time in Doctor’s offices and hospitals. Strangers typically cause pain and/or discomfort. Also, as Moms we are afraid to leave our children. If you combine the child’s anxiety and our fears together, many times it is not worth it. (even though the offer was kind)

Understand that we have rearranged our family for this. Many times a parent has given up a job or changed their way of life. As adults, we are struggling to find our place in this crazy new world. Who are we now? Where do we fit?  Help us feel valuable. Remind us that we are important not for what we do or did, but for who we are.

Sometimes it is a physical challenge, sometimes it is a mental challenge and a lot of the time it is both. We are tired…. Always.

Living for today really means living for today…this moment. When you don’t know what your next minute holds, you try to appreciate the one you’re in…even if it is bad. We try to be thankful for each moment. Life is fragile and we are faced with that fact often.

Ultimately, living with a child with chronic illness is not a road we would have chosen. We love our child and would do anything to help them feel better. Watching a child suffer is the most heart-wrenching pain a parent can bear. Some of us manage caregiving better than others, but we all have times where we are a wreck. We wonder how we are going to make it another minute, much less another day. Then, as if on cue, we hear that child’s sweet voice and think of their beautiful face and remember that we are here for them and that they need us to be strong. We pick ourselves up, wipe away our tears and smile as we walk into our next moment. Will you walk with us?

2014 ByDesign Technologies Users Conference

bdtUserConf2014-037Our 2014 ByDesign Users Conference was a great day to welcome in 50 of our clients to ByDesign Technologies headquarters in Tampa. It was a day to celebrate companies that were just starting as well as those who had been in business for many years.  The valued clients traveled from as far away as California and the Dominican Republic to come and learn how they could get more out of their Freedom systems.

Our 2014 Conference started with a great dinner the night before at the historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, Tampa.  Vendor Partner, The Connection, sponsored the dinner and the team was thrilled to showcase their partnership as well as enjoy the delicious Spanish food, from paella to flan, it was a delicious evening filled with great conversation and networking.

Excitement was in the air early the next morning, as the staff stood along the red carpeted walkway clapping and welcoming the clients in to a great day. Just as they are everyday, the clients were the VIP’s.  They were greeted with a great breakfast and the programming quickly began.

The day was packed full of information with as many as four speakers running at one time.Top areas of interest were J. Hilburn’s presentation on API’s, promotions and learning about the new Business Intelligence tool ByDesign launched at the conference.

During the CEO lunch sponsored by Meritus, incentive travel company DRP and Hard Rock Resorts gave away two 3 night stays as well as a cruise to our hard working executives.  This was an exciting time for our companies’ CEO’s!

Nothing was forgotten, from the networking break to the ToGo Boxes with snacks for the road, each portion of the day was crafted to provide the utmost value to our clients.Christina Hale with J. Hilburn stated, “It was so helpful to meet and connect with other clients. We were able to swap suggestions, ideas, previous challenges, etc.”

Ultimately, that is what we hoped for.  We wanted to create a day that would add value for the Freedom system, but ultimately, help our clients understand they are not alone.  The direct selling industry has a mighty voice if they can find it together.

 

 

ByDesign Hosts MLM and Party Plan Executives

MLM and Party Plan executives enjoy a Networking Dinner

MLM and Party Plan executives enjoy a Networking Dinner

Recently ByDesign Technologies, along with their partner The Connection, sponsored a networking dinner for MLM and Party Plan executives at the Historic Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, Florida.  As executives arrived they were greeted by the amazing architecture of the Columbia.  The Columbia is Florida’s oldest restaurant and the world’s largest Spanish restaurant. It has been named one of the Top 25 Restaurants in Florida since 1967. Executives from as far away as California and the Dominican Republic attended the dinner.

The guests were served a buffet consisting of various Cuban/Spanish specialties including Paella, chicken, black beans and rice, vegetables and of course the classic 1905 salad.

The executives were entertained by Flamenco dancers who brought great excitement to the crowd with their rhythmic dances. Jim Bailey, Business Development Manager for ByDesign stated, “This was a fabulous opportunity for ByDesign to showcase Tampa and for our clients to get to know one another better in a casual but classy environment.”

The evening finished with flan and chocolate Godiva cake.  There was not a slice left. It was a fantastic opportunity for ByDesign’s MLM and Party Plan executives to get to know one another and enjoy a great meal.

Networking Reception with Send Out Cards

At the Networking Reception, ByDesign partnered with SOC's McCabe Ave Foundation

At the Networking Reception, ByDesign partnered with SOC’s McCabe Ave Foundation

On March 3rd, ByDesign Technologies partnered with Send Out Cards to offer an evening networking reception and exclusive tour of the Send Out Cards Facility in Salt Lake City, Utah.  This event allowed invited industry executives an opportunity to experience an additional company tour while enjoying good food and conversations with like-minded individuals. The executives were divided into small groups to tour the facility so that each group felt as if they had a private tour and were able to ask whatever questions they wanted.   As the evening continued, Vanessa Hunter and Steve Shultz from Send Out Cards spoke and talked about the partnership with ByDesign. Sonya Cooper-Turner thanked Send Out Cards for their hospitality and presented a check from ByDesign to Send Out Cards Foundation, the McCabe Foundation.  The McCabe Foundation has a twofold mission.  They desire to help inner-city youth live their dreams and provide inner-city neighborhood improvements that enhance life experiences of the youth.

Upon leaving, each guest was given a bag with gifts from ByDesign, Send Out Cards and several invited vendor partners.  It was a great event and ByDesign is looking forward to having others.

 

Personal Responsibility

200171399-001Well, I am ashamed to say that life has gotten the best of me.  I have not posted to this blog since October.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  Lots of good things have been happening, I just haven’t taken the time to write them here.  But today I came across something so good that I felt I had to share.  It was on personal responsibility.

Kody Bateman, the president of Send Out Cards wrote a great blog. Personal Responsibility, it spoke to me.  So many times in life we blame others when things don’t go our way.  Surely we could not be responsible for doing something stupid.  But so many times we are, aren’t we?  Great leaders don’t blame others for life’s dissapointments.  They take them as they come and learn from them.