September 7, 2012

An Introduction to Sheila Moon, Founder and Designer of

Sheila Moon Athletic Apparel 

Sheila Moon takes her love and competitive spirit for cycling and translates it into cycling apparel for women and men.  This is not just any cycling apparel, meaning it has bright colors with interesting prints.  Sheila’s cycling apparel is not your run of the mill AND it is manufactured in the United States.  For people who want “Made in the USA” then Sheila Moon Athletic Apparel fits the bill.

Sheila is truly a role model for young female entrepreneurs.  She learned every side of the apparel design business from design to pattern making to construction along with sales and marketing.  Be sure to watch her video on the challenges of growing her business over the past eight years.  Read more about Sheila in our  Role Model Entrepreneur page. The video interview between Nashely Ruiz and Sheila Moon says so much about the influence of her love for cycling, tenacity and building a business in a male-dominated culture.

September 6, 2012   

Part 2

Chapter 2 “Attitude”: Your Attitude Impacts How You Operate Your Business

Change the way you view the world and there will be nothing you cannot accomplish with talent, hard work, and positive relationships

My Story on Attitude

There have been times in my past I had a fearful attitude and would not confront those people who caused me problems or disagreed with me. I wanted to be known as a “nice person” all the time and although people thought I was positive, I hid behind a mask of fear.  I ran from problems and difficulties and eventually lost good friends, respect and valuable time.  It was time I could have spent making choices to correct the mistakes and if I failed-well so be it. Quite simply, I was more afraid of what people would think of me rather than accepting help to solve problems.  My fearful attitude led to blaming others for my mistakes.  I had great visions and potential to bring the business ideas to fruition. My attitude and decisions led me away from the path I charted.  Unfortunately it was with three businesses over a period of about 10 years. That was a lot of wasted time and energy.

One example was when I had four college interns who sorority sisters.  The girls were talented and wanted the internship to learn how to produce events. I took recommendations at face value rather than spending time interviewing each one. Only one of the girls had ever worked at a full time job.  I let them work on the same days so they could carpool and save money.  I made several mistakes right from the beginning and rather than correct them, just let them slide. I was “afraid” it would upset them to the point of quitting.  What were the mistakes?

  • To have a four sorority sisters who were good friends. Sides were taken when the girls disagreed on behavior either while working or outside of the job. In other words, the girls would split off into two groups creating an uncomfortable work environment.
  • When there are four friends working together if one does not like her job for the day, the others usually support her.  In my case this resulted in my changing the planned schedule for the day rather than having an unhappy team.
  • I did not set clear enough ground rules in the beginning and also did not learn the strengths and weaknesses of three girls.  One of the girls, Marcie, was quite clear when she began as to her talents and then those things that were not advisable for her to do.
  • Taking recommendations at face value is not a good idea.  Close friends obviously are going to have glowing comments about each other.  By spending more time to learn the goals of each girl I would have realized there was one (Andrea) who was not a good fit.  Andrea was convinced she knew more about fashion show production than I did.
  • I did not want to confront Andrea about her attitude so as not to upset her.  If I had learned the best way to talk to her, either the split would have occurred sooner or Andrea would have changed her attitude.
  • Allowing them to work the same days to save money by carpooling was a big mistake.
  • If I had considered the potential problems I would have requested they make other arrangements or I would have given each a stipend for gas.  Instead I wanted to be nice and once again was afraid they might leave if I did not let them carpool.
  • Jamie was the first intern and needed her school vacation time to visit her parents.  I was unaware of it when she began.  We made arrangements for her to do some work while away and I gave her my database software program to download on her computer. She was going to work on basic data base entries, find models for the fashion show, and have a friend mix the music for the show.  What Jamie agreed to do never got done although she ended up with a copy of the database software on her computer.  Jamie did not keep in touch on a regular basis as agreed as well.  I let it all slide because I did not want her parents to think badly of me.  I also did not want the other girls to be upset either.  Unfortunately my decisions set a precedent from the beginning of being lenient.
  •  In Jamie’s case it would have been better for me to release her from the start. By explaining to the other girls why her disrespect and irresponsible attitude was not acceptable, I would have set a different tone for the future.  Jamie’s attitude seemed to change until the week before the show.  She was late to meetings and did not pay attention to what she would be doing.  The day of the show Jamie was one hour late with the coffee and breakfast items.  Jamie also decided to take over the fashion show backstage and questioned my decisions.
  • I was afraid to release her the week before and thought Jamie was necessary for the event to run smoothly.  It ended up a disaster the day of the show and later found out she was more concerned about talking to the Paul Mitchell hair stylists than doing her job. If I had thought ahead I could have made arrangements with the other volunteers to pick up Jamie’s responsibilities. The event did not come off smoothly.  Some of the presenters were very unhappy and will not work with us again. Items were stolen from the fashion show and we had to pay for them.  Jamie told her mother I was wretched to her and embarrassed her in front of others.  As a result Jamie’s mother lost her temper and threatened to contact the national sorority office.

As you can see my fearful attitude with even one event caused me many problems.  My business plans were set back and I lost time and money.  How did I change my attitude?  I went back to school surrounded by wise people who gave me great advice. I learned from my mistakes that in the long run it was better to face problems and challenges, especially with other people.

 My friend Susan Wilson Solovic; author of It’s Your Biz, The Comfortable Guide to Becoming Your Own Boss (AMACON, October 11, 2011) says,  “Most people would learn from their mistakes if they were not so busy trying to blame someone else.” 

Starting a business while in high school (and actually anytime) takes more than a good idea for a product or service and then creating your vision You may be exceptionally talented with an amazingly strong and creative entrepreneurial spirit. Your attitude needs to reflect your spirit and vision.  You also need a realistic expectation along with an ability to persevere and hold onto your vision.  Additionally there are so many activities you need to focus your time and energy on when starting and launching your business. Continually developing and keeping a positive attitude may be hard to do. In reality though you need to keep a positive attitude from the beginning, to help you assimilate everything necessary for accelerating growth as your business develops.  Think of it this way, as you grow your business (and for some of you when you start your business), you will have unforeseen challenges.

Some of those challenges may come from your clients or customers. Your relationship with your customers is only as good as their last experience.  A bad attitude undermines the best ideas, plans, strategies and locations. 

 Your Attitude Towards Your Customers 

You know you have an idea that outdoes your “competition” and the way you have created your product/ service is the best and most efficient.  You are set in your vision and the way you want to accomplish it; however, your customer feedback indicates it would be better to do something different.

  • When your customers make suggestions will you look at the feedback as opportunities to make changes to benefit your business? OR
  • Will you take offense to the suggestions and continue doing it your way? After all it is your business and you know what is best.

Most likely your customers are not criticizing you, they are simply giving you feedback so you can give them what they need or want. What do you think will happen if you take offense to their suggestions and continue to do it your way?

  • This attitude normally leads to a loss of business followed by discouragement and in some cases anger.
  • Are you seriously willing to lose business before you are pushed into the change or in come cases go broke?
  • Are you ready to spend time to look for new customers, which takes away from productivity and sales?

What would happen if you look upon your customers as stockholders?  If you look at your customers as investors in your business would your attitude towards them be different? Your customers are actually investors in your company.  They are investing their money into your business and trust you to provide them with goods and services they want. It is your job to make them feel they are heard. You want them to respect your business and continue to spend money with you.  If you take on an attitude they are not important and ignore them there will be problems down the road.  Remember, although you own your company, you work for your customers-stockholders.

Change the way you view your world and there will be nothing you cannot accomplish with talent, hard work and positive relationships.  How do you change the way you view the world?  How do you have positive relationships? 

 

Be True To Yourself

Sometime during your teenage years you will have heard the saying, “be true to yourself.”  If you haven’t yet, you will.  When you believe totally that your vision is right for you and the business you want to create is important you are being true to yourself.  Being able to tell people your vision is important to launching your business then continually building it.  This holds true with seeing your business as a success.  A positive personality attracts people and raises the spirit of those around them. If you want to attract people to you and your business and keep them there -have a positive, enthusiastic attitude about your vision and mission!

Now here’s the catch and the challenge about being true to yourself and attracting people to your business.  Your parents, neighbors, school instructors and even counselors may think differently.  There will always be naysayers and critics in your life.  These are the people who will question your abilities as a young entrepreneur. Unfortunately this is more likely for you as a female than if you were a male, especially if you are in high school or college.  It happens frequently to highly educated women who start and grow businesses in non-traditional industries and industries known for being male-dominated. Keep your attitude positive and ignore the naysayers who insist you cannot accomplish your vision, that it is an impossible.  These people are not going to be your customers. It is important you do not let their criticism dampen your attitude to a point where you give up.  You need to keep a positive attitude or those classmates who make fun of your idea will drag you down if you listen to them. You do not want their negativity to influence your creativity and business plans?

Think of it this way, it is hard to soar with the eagles when you stay on the ground with the chickens (or when you have to live with the turkeys).  Eagles fly above all the others. Turkeys and chickens wander around on the ground.  They cannot really get past their fenced in lives.  Your winning attitude will result in you looking at the changes as opportunities to grow and to keep you on your path to a successful business.

 Eleanor Roosevelt had this to say about being true to yourself:  “Do what you feel in your heart to be right, for you’ll be criticized anyway. You will be damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”  Do the very best that is in you, let change grow you and live your life consistent with your highest values and aspirations.

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Look forward to hearing from you.  We welcome comments about the post and the fact it is part of Chapter 2 “Attitude” in our new book, Realizing a Vision.

We are also looking for a tagline for the book.  Please let us know if you have suggestions.

Cheers and until next time,

Sylvia R.J. Scott, Founder and Managing Director

 

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