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Women Entrepreneurs Share How They Increased Revenue During Covid. And How You Can, Too.

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October 7, 2020 13 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

A recent report by Morning Consult highlights an unfair division of labor between couples when it comes to household work and homeschooling, even when both parents are working remotely. 

While nearly 50 percent of men say they do most of the homeschooling, a whopping three percent of women agree with them. When asked “Who is currently most responsible for housework, such as cooking and cleaning?” sixty-seven percent of women say they are, but only sixteen percent of men agree with them. This study not only points to an imbalance of responsibilities, it shows that most men — myself included — are completely unaware of it.

Parenting during Covid-19 is challenging enough as it is, but it presents unique challenges for women who are parents and entrepreneurs. I interviewed several of these women (while my wife, Domenique, so graciously watched our kids) to learn more about how they’ve been able to deal with the uncertainties that already accompany entrepreneurship while also making sure their children are cared for at home.

Our discussions went beyond talking about those color-coded schedules that everyone abandoned by the end of day two. I was able to uncover a common theme that allowed their business to not only survive but drastically improve during Covid-19:

The constraints of COVID removed so many options they were forced to focus solely on what they could do, which has not only led to meaningful business outcomes, it’s improved their personal life going forward.

Through their stories, you’ll find inspiration and tactic level advice on how you can do the same for yourself and your business.

If you can’t do (right now), teach

Patrice Poltzer is the founder of a video boutique agency, Poltzer Creative. Her work typically involves helping brands, businesses and entrepreneurs tell stories through engaging video content, which she and her team record onsite. As the pandemic worsened these opportunities quickly disappeared, at the same time she also found herself caring for her two sons who were suddenly home all day. Oh, and she’s pregnant with a third child.

Poltzer recalls what went through her mind as she took full stock of what was going on, and how she could adjust.

“At the end of the day, I looked around me and I realized so many people are starting businesses. . .and what is one thing that any new business needs right now in 2020? You need video, or you at least need to have some understanding of how to use video to grow your business.”

This realization led Patrice to go all-in on a concept she had somewhat considered in the past: starting an online boot camp where she teaches entrepreneurs and small business owners how to create engaging content themselves. She initially tested the concept by offering tips through Instagram stories and live videos. Fortunately, she discovered there was a market for what she had to offer and has since led several cohorts of her boot camp.

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Patrice speaks to some of her concerns: “It was weird because it was high pressure in a way where I felt like there was an opportunity that I had discovered that I just hadn’t even realized. I was forced to figure something else out, but because of that, I felt like I stumbled into this secret world that I really wanted to be a part of.”

Related: Covid-19 Will Fuel the Next Wave of Innovation

Yes, people will still pay for another Zoom call

Megan Riley is the co-owner and COO of Tippi Toes Dance, a franchise organization that teaches dance classes at schools and studios. So, what do you do when schools are closed, and social distancing is keeping people out of studios? Meagan and her team quickly came to the conclusion that offering virtual classes was the way to go. Although they had toyed around with this idea in the past, they were concerned about encroaching on their franchisees’ independent businesses. However, as has been the case for many entrepreneurs, Covid-19 stripped away many options and concerns, giving them clarity on the path forward: “We were in this position of, well, our franchise owners’ businesses would basically have to be closed. So what are they going to do? And then all of a sudden virtual is like the saving grace for them.”

They leveraged their pre-recorded franchise training videos and released them on a virtual platform for students within days. However, as you may have noticed, several businesses have started offering classes online. Megan speaks to her initial concerns and questions about this: “There was a concern of how are we going to connect, how are we going to make this different? But asking questions is important, as long as you’re asking questions, you’re going to keep finding answers.” Their solution was for teachers to send personalized videos, text messages and cards to students. “We knew that virtual is not the same as an in-person dance class, and because we were aware of that, we found other ways to try to bridge that gap.”

Although it’s clearly been challenging, this pandemic has created an entirely new revenue stream for Tippi Toes and allowed them to expand their mission by reaching students who don’t have easy access to a local franchise.

Related: 6 Tricks You Need to Know About Zoom

Increase efficiency and productivity by focusing on impact

As the founder of a Management Consultant company Khazana Inc., Suraya Yahaya relied on in-person events to build the level of trust needed for securing partnerships with clients. As COVID hit and in-person prospecting opportunities disappeared, Suraya deepened her existing relationships. Specifically, with other business leaders in her network who were also mothers. However, her intent was just to check in with them as she imagined they were both experiencing similar challenges.

She recalls one specific conversation “We connected on a personal level, not even talking about referrals, not even talking about how I can help some of her clients. She’s a mom with three kids under seven. I’m a mom with three kids under 11, and we were just like, how are we just getting through this?”

Fortunately, the woman she was speaking to is the head of an asset management firm, and the referrals and clients did start rolling in. This same scenario continued to organically play out with other women in her network and her business has continued to thrive as a result. “The strongest clients and my biggest clients right now happen to be clients where there are women leaders in the business and we’re all dealing with the same thing.”

Related: How to Build Rapport With Customers Online

Expand beyond brick and mortar (and borders)

As you can imagine, the need for more restful sleep has increased during COVID, especially for first responders, shift workers and others who have challenges establishing a regular sleep routine. Soda Kuczkowski provides relief as a Sleep Health Educator and founder of Start with Sleep.

Although she has a brick and mortar location, like many knowledge-based entrepreneurs, Soda shifted her business online as Covid hit. However, she came to realize that this pandemic provided her with a unique opportunity to serve an even broader, more international, audience. She explains “In places like Ireland you have to wait a year and a half to get a sleep consultation, and another two years to get a sleep study. So you have to wait four years to get medical testing in some other countries.”

Four years sounds like an awfully long time to get sleep challenges addressed. As a result of the “New Normal” we’re living in, that painfully long wait can now be avoided.

“Being able to provide those resources – which would be really delayed in other places – is great because you’re basically opening up the world. We had this online offering available before but I think people are a lot more comfortable with the telehealth model now, and they’re more willing to reach out and collaborate with people in other areas.”

Although Soda still maintains a brick and mortar presence, she’s continuing to explore additional opportunities to help people remotely.

Related: 8 Reasons Sleep Is Crucial for Entrepreneurs and Leaders

Focus on your mission, not just the money

Shawn Zanotti is the CEO of Exact Publicity and, unfortunately, she’s no stranger to adversity. Her husband passed away when her son was just 8 months old. Five years after that she lost her mother, and her father passed away in March of this year.

Like many PR professionals, her business has taken a hit due to COVID. As opportunities for her clients started to slow down, some of them had challenges meeting their monthly retainer. She speaks to how the adversity she’s encountered helped increase her compassion for the clients she serves and reinforces her mission.

“I had to go within and say, what is my purpose? Why do I have this company? Am I running this company because I’m trying to make money off retainers, or am I running this company because I believe in what this person is doing?” She decided the later is more important and is finding creative ways to continue working with these clients.

Zanotti also discovered removing herself from the hustle and bustle involved with running from one client event to the other helped her appreciate her son even more.

“I had no choice, but to sit in the house with the computer and the phone and go back to the fundamentals of basic PR and strategizing. And when it came to my child, I had all of this time in the day. I didn’t even realize what I was missing out on with him being at school and me doing all these other things. It’s been beautiful being able to spend time with him being able to watch him grow and mature.”

Prepare now, thrive later

Being a working parent during this pandemic is tough enough as it is. Now, imagine having challenges finding childcare because caregivers didn’t want your children interacting with other children.

Oriana Turley is the founder of Medicine Mountain Scrub company, a brand that offers sustainably sourced, ethically manufactured scrubs for women in the medical workforce space. As a Registered Nurse, she’s very clear on the problem her products solve. Her occupation also puts her on the frontlines of the COVID pandemic, which is why finding childcare is more challenging since her two-year-old daughter is considered high risk. As you can imagine, this compounded stress clearly has an impact.

Focusing on the controllables, she and her husband opted to keep their daughter at home, but she still needed to address critical issues with her business. After preparing for a year and half to launch, supply chains for her company completely shut down in May due to the pandemic. Oriana again identified what she could, and not control. She decided this was the perfect opportunity to gain an even deeper understanding of her audience by spending more time interacting with other healthcare practitioners on social media. She discovered – like herself – there was an increased need for self-care. Ironically, these professionals who compassionately cared for others often neglected their own well-being. This resulted in her creating a free Ebook which she offered in exchange for her audience’s email address. She explains

“I created the Self Compassion Workbook for Women in Medicine based on a need I was experiencing and witnessing around me, especially during COVID. There can be a culture of expected sacrifice in healthcare and I wanted myself and others to practice self-compassion.

This research and repositioning has been incredibly beneficial as the workbook is responsible for 90% of her email list, which will certainly come in handy as she launches her Kickstarter campaign this fall.

Oriana speaks to an even larger takeaway from this experience. “The best part is the feedback I got from healthcare workers across the country, people were so thankful to have somewhere to start. It’s an incredible experience connecting with other nurses and healthcare professionals that are struggling right now, and work with them to feel empowered in their choices and help them work through changing their harsh inner critic to a more compassionate, supportive voice.”

If all else fails, put your kids to work

Many entrepreneurs start their first business while in grade school. Kasey Woods, President of Mecca Made Media and the mother of three children, isn’t leaving that up to chance. For the past six years, her children have been required to start their own business, complete with a business plan and a Shark Tank like approach to finding sponsors and partners.

Her oldest son, Treylin, is now a Freshman at Howard University. Before heading off to school he started a company, as required, but this time he did it along with his mother. Like most entrepreneurs, Kasey and Treylin started a business by solving one of their own problems, which was finding ways to entertain their family during the pandemic. Their solution, watching movies in their backyard on a large projection screen. As their neighbors began to inquire about how they could do the same, they knew they were on to something. They decided to create Movie Mayhem, a company that rents all the equipment you need to enjoy movies outdoors. Her son did all the research around sourcing equipment while she guided him on the overall business process.

She recalls “I thought this would be a great opportunity for him to really get to learn the ins and outs of the entrepreneurial world, financial literacy and everything that I do that he’s watched me do from a distance. I brought him in and let him learn directly from me and through experience.”

Realizing the weather in New York will eventually make outdoor entertainment a challenge, they’ve already made plans to continue operations in warmer southern states and potentially franchise the idea as well.

“It’s a really great opportunity for my son to learn more about entrepreneurship, but also has really brought us closer.”

It’s hard to imagine Kasey and Treylin being any closer. She had him when she was a Sophomore at Howard University and literally walked across stage with him on her hip at graduation. However, like many parents, she chose to use her children as a source of inspiration, allowing her to push beyond what could ever have been expected.

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Two Morgan Stanley executives will leave the bank after using WhatsApp against company policy.

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Morgan Stanley’s two most senior commodities executives are leaving the firm after the bank caught them using the encryption app WhatsApp against company policy and failing to monitor other employees’ use of unauthorized communication channels, according to a person familiar with the bank’s operations who was not authorized to speak publicly.

The news was reported earlier by Bloomberg News.

An internal review by the bank found that Nancy King, the global head of commodities, and Jay Rubenstein, head of Morgan Stanley’s commodities trading operations, had communicated over WhatsApp and had not stopped their employees in the division from using other platforms that Morgan Stanley has outlawed, the person said.

Neither Ms. King nor Mr. Rubenstein could be reached to comment.

Morgan Stanley found no evidence that anyone in its commodities division had engaged in wrongdoing while using the forbidden communication platforms, the person said.

Nevertheless, the division is being restructured. Its new leaders will be Jay Hallik and Jakob Horder, two executives who oversee fixed income trading at the bank. Ms. King is retiring from the firm, while Mr. Rubenstein is leaving.

The bank prohibits the use of certain apps and devices for communications related to sales and trading because it cannot see what is being said on them. Regulators require banks to monitor their employees’ messages to ensure that they are not doing anything illegal.

In the past, Wall Street traders have used chat platforms to skirt financial regulations. Over the past decade, for instance, authorities in the United States and the United Kingdom have filed criminal charges against major Wall Street banks after their traders were caught using instant messaging apps to make secret deals to manipulate markets in interest rates, foreign currencies and metals.

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Why Customer Champions Need to Be a Part of Your Marketing Strategy

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October 21, 2020 5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Customer champions are a tremendous asset for any organization. In most cases, people are far more interested in reading about your customers’ experiences than straight materials. Customers are more relatable, and they’re more credible, too. People want to hear from their peers before they buy your product or service. This “social proof” is the power that guides decision-making at sites like and

Related: Are You Sitting on a Customer Retention Goldmine?

Why customer champions are exceptionally powerful 

Trust is a critical plank in any marketing platform, since people do with those they know, like and trust. A solid customer champion program will help you build trust and credibility.  After all, it’s easy for you to talk about how great your product or service is, but you aren’t exactly an objective third party. That’s why customer references, testimonials and are so powerful. They provide prospective customers with a view into how your product or service has produced results in a real-world context. 

Related: 3 Keys to a Highly-Effective Content Marketing Strategy

Six ways to promote customer success 

An effective customer reference program gives your company more than just trust and credibility. It also can drive , provide great marketing content and help close faster. To accomplish this, there are many different formats and opportunities available for your customer champions to describe the experience and results they’ve seen with your product or service. The best choices for your company will depend on your target prospect personas and the interests of customer advocates. 

1. Online Reviews – These types of free opportunities, on sites like G2 Crowd and Gartner Peer Reviews, let customers share their experience with your company. Asking for and receiving feedback from customers helps in two ways. First, it reminds those customers why they like working with you, leading to retention. Second, positive feedback from customers encourages prospects to pull the trigger and choose you. 

2.  – Case studies that bring the customer story to life are an essential tool for marketing and sales teams because they generate demand and engage with leads. They can be particularly effective in the consideration phase of the buyer’s journey. A visually compelling document or video showcasing how you’re helping customers address their real-world pain points and achieve ROI can help prospects with their purchasing decision. Case studies include not just social proof but statistics and other measures that demonstrate the value of your offerings. 

3. Media Briefings – Just like prospects, the media needs third-party validation. Tech and business journalists will often ask if you have a customer they can speak too. Setting up interviews between your customer and industry journalists to provide real-world anecdotes for articles can earn tremendous credibility and visibility for your .  It also offers your customer champions a chance to showcase themselves as forward-thinking industry leaders and look good in front of their peers.  

4. Press Releases – A well composed announcement publicizing your customer’s success story, the new abilities they’ve gained with your offering and the results they’re seeing is a great asset for marketing and sales teams. Not only do press releases provide positive air cover for you and your customers’ innovation; they also can be promoted across channels –including social media and email outreach – to drive targeted leads back to your website. 

5. Awards – Many award opportunities are available for the purpose of showcasing how customers are achieving success with your offering. By acknowledging your excellent work, awards can help drive business for both your company and the customer who participated in the story or that the award was based on. Award recognitions provide third-party validation that can help create competitive differentiators, strengthen reputation and generate publicity. 

6. Joint Speaking Opportunities – Whether online or (eventually) in-person, joint presentations provide a platform to both verbally and visually bring customer stories to life in interactive formats. Allowing target audiences to hear your customers’ stories from their point of view through webinars, fireside chats, speaking panels and virtual speaking sessions is a strong way to build affinity and trust. 

Related: How to Weave More Empathy Into Your Marketing for Better Connections With Potential Buyers

How to identify and bring customer references on board 

Your customers’ workdays are just as busy as yours. So, even though they may love your brand, it’s likely not top of mind for them to promote you. That’s why you can’t be haphazard about gathering customer references. Be intentional; identify and go after your brand advocates. Focus on those whose success stories will inspire others to work with you. 

Securing customer willingness to participate can be tricky. It can often be much more difficult to get a firm “yes” to an open-ended request for participation. A better approach is to present specific opportunities to the customer that benefit their reputation as well as yours. For example, perhaps a customer wants to gain market share in a specific industry. In this case, bringing forth editorial opportunities from relevant vertical publications would be a strategic way to align with their goals and enlist their participation.  

Everyone’s success 

In an era where the average American sees 4,000 to 10,000 company messages a day, trust is what makes the difference between a mere ad and lead generation. Customer stories resonate with prospects because they offer hard evidence that your  is a tangible one. So, find your champions, find win-win opportunities and create that brand distinction that draws prospects in. 

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Purdue Pharma to Plead Guilty to Multiple Federal Charges

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The OxyContin manufacturer will pay the government $225 million and own up to misleading the DEA and incentivizing doctors to write prescriptions.

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October 21, 2020 1 min read

According to AP, OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma intends to plead guilty to three federal charges levied by the Department of Justice. The charges include conspiracy to defraud the United States — for misleading the Drug Enforcement Administration — and violation of federal anti-kickback laws vis a vis illegal incentivization programs with doctors. 

Purdue, which is owned by the controversial billionaire Sackler family, will immediately remit a $225 million fine to the government, AP reports. But that’s a small piece of billions in total criminal- and civil-liability damages Purdue may still be on the hook for, pending the outcome of a hotly contested bankruptcy hearing

Related: An Investment Opportunity for a Better Pharmaceutical Industry

The pharmaceutical powerhouse, which has innovated numerous prescription painkillers, has become emblematic of the opiod crisis that’s enveloped American lives over the past decade-plus. Opiod-induced overdose deaths more than doubled between 2010-2017, per the National Institute on Drug Abuse. As of 2013, the Sackler family’s worth was estimated at more than $13 billion.

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