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.

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.

 

20 Things Your Software Company Wishes You Knew

163745682Within the MLM and Party Plan business, your software plays an integral part.  It keeps track of almost everything you need to do.  It keeps track of your product, your individual business owners, your commissions and your reports plus a lot more.  With so much of your business tied to your software, it is understandable why you can get frustrated.  Here are some tips that can help your business and relationship grow.

  1. Treat your software vendor like an extension of your business, not a necessary evil
  2. Embrace us as Subject Matter Experts.  If we tell you something you are doing goes against conventional wisdom, understand we have seen a lot of companies fail and succeed and we want you to be in the latter category.
  3. Be aware of terminology conflicts and technical jargon.  If your software company uses “sponsor” or “placement” or “enroller” ask what they are referring too.
  4. Know your compensation plan inside and out.  You need to communicate it well with your reps and your software company.
  5. Share your company successes with your software vendor, too often we only get failing company calls.  We want to celebrate with you!
  6. Plan, Plan, Plan!  It costs a lot to NOT plan and our industry is notorious for announcing something on stage before even telling your own staff, let alone your software provider.
  7. Don’t make assumptions.
  8. Ensure expectations are agreed to and understood
  9. During the software selection process or while doing custom programming ask tough questions.  Make sure you fully understand what you’re getting.
  10. If you are buying off the shelf software understand that no package does EVERYTHING you think should be a part of the system
  11. Understand we are on your team.  If you succeed, we succeed.
  12. Time=Money
  13. If your business is going down the tubes, don’t blame the software.
  14. Know what you want before you call.  If you are unsure of what you want, state that upfront so that we can plan our schedule appropriately.
  15. Software will not run your business, you have to do that.
  16. Send gifts!  We are always excited to see and touch our client’s products. Gifts are a great motivator.
  17. Don’t call everything a bug.
  18. Don’t let your internal software people say, “That is easy, it is only two hours.”  While that may be the expected time, sometimes one little change can be connected to a lot of moving parts.
  19. Encouragement goes a long way before you need something.
  20. Expect a timeline.  Understand it probably will not be as fast as you want.

ByDesign Technologies is headquartered in Tampa, Florida with offices in Utah and Singapore.  ByDesign’s mission is to empower direct sellers worldwide through industry expertise, innovative technology and unrivaled customer support. Their website is www.bydesign.com

ByDesign’s Worldwide Hunger Hackathon 2013

Singapore Team

Singapore Team

August 17, 2013 was a special day in the life of ByDesign Technologies.  It was our first Worldwide Hunger Hackathon.  What is a Hackathon you ask?  A Hackathon is a time when software developers, project managers and designers collaborate to solve a unique software problem.  The problem we focused on this day was hunger.   All three of our office locations participated to help end hunger in their local communities.  Though it was not intended, our teams were able to actually follow the lifecycle of food as it travels from an individual donation, to sorting and then preparation and service. Using our “follow the sun” customer support theology, ByDesign Singapore started us out.

ByDesign Singapore began the event with a food drive to support The Food Bank Singapore.  The Food Bank in Singapore was established on January 2012 by siblings Nichol and Nicholas Ng after realizing the need for an organization that can help arrange and distribute food for people in need. The organization accepts food donations and volunteer work. ByDesign Singapore Office started bringing items to the office and came down to the Food Bank. They donated cans of sardines, tuna, soup, luncheon meat, cup noodles, fruit juices, coffee, etc. They were able to meet Food Bank founder Nichol Ng on their visit. The Food Bank delivers the goods to their partner organization that prepares the food and brings it to beneficiaries such as disabled, children, elderly and abused maids.

Tampa Team

Some of our Tampa Team

ByDesign Tampa then picked up and sorted canned foods at Feeding America Tampa Bay. Feeding America is the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the country. They consist of over 200 food banks.  They work with partners like grocery stores who donate large amounts of food.  Volunteers are used to sort and package the food for distribution.  Partner food banks are able to come and shop for their food bank needs.  Feeding America Tampa Bay serves individuals across 10 counties in West Central Florida.    Across the country one in six people struggles with hunger. Of the 50 million people who are unsure where their next meal will come from, Feeding America Tampa Bay provides food to over 400,000 people in West Central Florida.

In the short time the ByDesign Tampa team worked, they were able to sort enough food for 6,700 meals!

Some of our Utah team serving food

Some of our Utah team serving food

Lastly, but certainly not least our ByDesign Utah team ended our Hackathon by preparing and serving meals at The Food and Care Coalition.  The mission of the Food & Care Coalition is to alleviate hunger and diminish the plights of poverty for those who go there.  Their primary objectives include finding suitable housing, teaching financial accountability, facilitating an elevation in personal morals and values, and helping each person achieve their full potential.  The ByDesign Utah team cooked and served 67 meals to those who were hungry!

It is a special feeling to know that can have an impact in your local community.  It is even more special when you realize that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.  Our ByDesign teams were able to help people worldwide by each doing our part in our local communities.  We encourage other companies to consider how they can make a difference.   It only takes a few phone calls and action.  Make a difference today.

ByDesign Technologies is a software provider for the direct selling industry.  Their software supports mlm, party plan and direct sales companies worldwide.  You can find out more about ByDesign by visiting www.bydesign.com

Direct Selling Companies Look Forward to Back to School

backtoschoolIt is nearing the end of summer here in the US and for the direct selling industry that is an exciting time.  Summer is typically a very low season, especially for small companies.  The Direct Selling Association reports that approximately 86% of the workforce is women.  Some are full-time and some are part-time, but throw in summer, with kids and grandkids out of school and a good amount of that workforce takes off.  This is the challenge of having a company with a flexible workforce.  One of the benefits of being involved in direct selling is that you can choose your schedule.  It just so happens that most choose to downgrade their work time in summer, or just take it off completely.

Many direct selling companies are working hard to encourage their members to stay engaged during the summer.  They have conventions or offer special deals.  These special events keep the interest going and gives the representative the motivation they need to continue meeting and selling throughout the summer.

Many representatives don’t realize that though summer can be more challenging because of vacations,it is a great time to share your business.  People have a little more time in the summer and if you can incorporate the kids, they are all in.  Hire a neighborhood teenager to watch the kids, while you demonstrate your product.  There are many ways to get around the summer down time!  Social selling is about being social.  There is no better time to be social than summer!

As we move into the new school year, direct selling companies rejoice with parents!  We all love having the summer off, but we look forward to the regular schedule. Direct selling companies will focus on rolling out their fall catalogs and new lines and representatives are looking forward to the new products.  School time is exciting!  As a software vendor for the industry, ByDesign is looking forward to school time as well.  We get an influx of new projects and ideas.  We love looking at the new and creative products our clients have come out with.  It’s time for school!  Are you ready?!?

Tax Time for MLM, Party Plan and Direct Sellers

200171399-001As April 15th draws near we all get prepared for tax season.  If you are an MLM, PartyPlan or Direct Seller, you should know that you might qualify for a tax deduction.  For the millions of taxpayers who work at home, the IRS has simplified the Home Office Deduction.

If you use a part of your home for business, you may qualify to deduct expenses for the business use of your home.  The IRS states that there are 6 ways to determine if you qualify.  Take the time to review what they have to say here:  http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Home-Office-Deduction:-a-Tax-Break-for-Those-Who-Work-from-Home

If you believe you qualify, the IRS has simplified the Home Office Deduction starting this year.  Home businesses can deduct up to $1500, based on $5 a square foot up to 300 square feet.  http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/Simplified-Option-for-Claiming-Home-Office-Deduction-Starting-This-Year

Take the time to check it out and discuss it with your accountant!  It might be worth some good money to you and it might save you a lot of time.  As we all know, time is money!!  Good luck!