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Expert Advice

3 Ways To Build a Stronger Small Business During COVID-19

Entrepreneurs, how has COVID-19 impacted your small business? You’ve probably had to make some sizable changes that weren’t easy, like temporarily shutting doors or modifying your product or service. On the flip side, change and uncertainty can also lead to positive outcomes. As a result of this pandemic, small business owners are learning how to reach and serve customers in new ways, and some are even ditching their pre-COVID plans entirely in order to launch new ideas that are bigger — and better. Take small business owner Alison Weinlaeder, for example. Alison was furloughed from her speech-language pathologist job due to COVID-19, so she decided to start something new. Alison now runs Cardiomelon, an online, subscription-based fitness program designed to empower adults to take control of their cognitive and physical health through easily accessible brain and body exercises. Within its first 90 days, Cardiomelon is on track to meet its target of 100 subscribers. Madelle Kangha was also furloughed from her job as a result of COVID-19, which led her to start an e-commerce beauty product site for Black women called Elledam Beauty. Small business owner Alicia McEldon wasn’t furloughed, but her business was. Sci-Genius, a program that provides mobile STEAM (Science, Tech, Engineering, Arts, and Math) enrichment to local schools and the community in Northern Virginia, was put on pause when schools closed. Owner and founder Alicia McEldon was able to adapt and save her business by learning how to transition the program to an online format. Now Sci-Genius is reaching students across the country. These small business owners, as well as thousands of thriving small business owners across the country, all have three things in common: They Got a Mentor Each of the small business owners mentioned worked with a SCORE Mentor, who was able to provide expert guidance, support, and assistance. SCORE is the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert small business mentors, and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. In response to COVID-19, SCORE’s nationwide network of 10,000 volunteer mentors have been working remotely to help small business owners with everything from securing funding to targeting new markets and managing cash flow. You can request a free SCORE mentor based on your business question or location, and you can work with your mentor through the life of your business. Having a mentor is extremely beneficial for entrepreneurs, especially at a time when uncertainty has become the “new normal.” A recent survey by UPS found that 70% of small business owners that receive mentoring survive for five years or more — double the rate of those who do not receive mentoring. Don’t waste time googling answers to the wrong questions when you can get free, live help from a SCORE expert. They Received Resiliency Training Entrepreneurs are resilient by nature, especially when they have access to the tools and resources that enable them to pivot and thrive. Visit the SCORE Small Business Resilience Hub to take advantage of free educational materials and industry-specific resiliency training, and to learn more about the financial assistance opportunities being offered to small business owners, like SBA loans, or the small business grants being offered by companies like Facebook and Nav. Entrepreneur Lori Volk, owner of Lori’s Original Lemonade, said that when the pandemic hit, she was grateful for the Small Business Resilience Hub: “We hopped on SCORE's webinar series every chance we got, to see what we could do to mitigate the unprecedented situation and avoid financial collapse of our company. Not only was the series helpful, but we felt connected and not as isolated, as we were going through the most difficult time in our company's eight years.” They Revamped Their Business Plan Regardless of the type of business you own or the industry you’re in, your small business has been impacted by COVID-19, so you’ll benefit from revisiting your business plan. SCORE recently surveyed small business owners across the country and found that many are implementing COVID-19 communications and focusing on new target markets in order to better serve customers. You can visit the Resilience Hub and download free business planning and financial planning templates that will help you get started.  Don’t fall behind or miss out on an opportunity to thrive. How have you been prioritizing safety and communicating with customers and staff? How has your cash flow changed? Have you considered new target markets or methods of operation? These are important questions to consider, and the answers can significantly impact the future of your business. Conclusion COVID-19 doesn’t have to stop entrepreneurs from launching new projects, reaching new customers and thriving, but it will force small business owners to rethink how they do business for years to come. Connect with a SCORE mentor, visit the Small Business Resilience Hub and start revamping your business plan today with free, expert help from SCORE. Once you get the help you need, and master the art of turning obstacles into opportunities, the possibilities are endless. Bridget Weston is the CEO of the SCORE Association, where she provides executive leadership and works directly and collaboratively with the board of directors to establish the vision and direction of SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer, expert business mentors. Weston motivates, directs and provides guidance to SCORE’s staff, its 260+ chapters, and over 10,000 volunteers. For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Sep 2, 2020 • 4 min read
Expert Advice

Debunking 5 Cybersecurity Myths for Small Business Owners

According to Accenture, 43% of cybersecurity attacks target small businesses, yet only 14% of small businesses are prepared to defend against them. These incidents can have huge financial implications, with serious attacks routinely costing companies $200,000, according to the insurance provider Hiscox. That’s why Pamela Gupta, founder and president of OutSecure, is committed to helping businesses and organizations understand online risks. “Every 2.5 hours a company is hacked,” Gupta says. “Without a strategic program created to identify risk and exposure as well as a deep understanding of disruptive technology, organizations are going to have severe impact on business and society at large.” We linked up with Gupta to discuss the five most common cybersecurity misconceptions and ways small business owners might avoid them. Myth #1: "My Business is Too Small to Be a Target" In today’s cybersecurity landscape, everyone is fair game. You may not be directly targeted, but your business could be caught in the crossfire. “When perpetrators are writing scripts and programs to see what services are available on the internet where can they get a foothold into the system, they don’t care whether it belongs to Aetna — a big company — or another small business. They run automated programs to do these deductions. If they find it, they’re going to go in.” Gupta’s Solution: “The first thing to do is to take a look at your business and see what can be monetized by a perpetrator,” Gupta says. “Whether it’s your ‘secret sauce,’ your relationships with other businesses partners, etc., what are the key points in your business that can do you harm if they fall in the wrong hands?” Myth #2: "IT Services Are a 'Nice-to-Have' Not a 'Need-to-Have' for My Small Business" Small businesses with limited cash flow often prioritize everyday operations over information technology needs. But neglecting this important area leaves your business vulnerable to digital security threats. Gupta’s Solution: “In order to avoid the pitfall of not having the right resources or skill sets, small businesses need to allocate a budget for cybersecurity and not look at it as the cost of doing business,” says Gupta. “If they want to have email, or a website — even if they’re not doing e-commerce — they have to be aware that someone can compromise their systems or their data. They should have someone in the company that owns the security function.” Myth#3: "My External IT Provider Has Everything Taken Care Of" External IT providers can be convenient and cost effective, but it can be a big problem when bad actors have remote access to your systems through a third party. Gupta’s Solution: “Different companies face different threats, and every executive seeking to mitigate their companies’ cyber risk must start by understanding the cyber threats facing their company. Have someone that can take a look, and do the assessment on if there’s a risk in the way they’re operating their business.” Myth #4: "My Business Is Compliant, Therefore My Business Is Secure" You can be technically compliant but still at risk. In 2014, Target, which was PCI-compliant (Payment Card Industry Security Standards Council), experienced a massive data breach that cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Their CEO was even let go for the lack of risk governance. Gupta’s Solution: “You need to create a strategy that looks beyond compliance standards to ensure you’re not at risk of a significant breach,” she says. Myth #5: "My Cyber Insurance Will Take Care of Any Unexpected Situations" Cyber insurance can help pick up the cost if there’s a data breach ransom, but in order to get cyber insurance, you have to show them that you understand what the risks are in your company. Insurers will not extend your business coverage if you don't take steps to understand potential threats and do your best to protect against them. Gupta’s Solution: “Make sure you have security in place first,” she says. “Cyber insurance is a good option, but you have to be extremely clear on what kind of insurance you’re getting, because there are a lot of caveats. For example, they will not pay if there’s an act of terrorism. Be clear on the policy's terms and conditions.” For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Aug 31, 2020 • 3 min read
Expert Advice

The SnackNation Recipe for Success with CEO Sean Kelly

SnackNation CEO and Co-Founder Sean Kelly started his business in 2014 to provide the sort of curated, better-for-you snack options that companies wanted in their vending machines. That concept has since grown into a marketplace serving hundreds of thousands of employees at firms from Amazon to Apple to Visa. Pivoting for Remote Customers The business has fared well during COVID-19, too. SnackNation was already piloting a work-from-home snack box, something that they were able to rapidly expand and accelerate to meet the shift to remote work. The company has also avoided supply chain issues by forging relationships directly with partners. "We need lots of bodies to develop those relationships, but it proved to be worthwhile," Kelly says. "We didn’t run into any of the distributor shortages that a lot of people ran into." [Hello Alice Guide: Learn About Food & Beverage Distribution] The company's robust direct-to-employee snack business has effectively balanced out the drop in B2B sales. "Right now we need to shift all of our focus and resources and strategy to what’s working," he explains. "The fact of the matter is that you and I can play amateur epidemiologists, but nobody really knows when people are going back to the office." That said, Kelly believes that employees will eventually return to their desks, at least on a part-time basis. And SnackNation will be there to serve its clients' needs, whatever and wherever those needs might be. Giving Back Part of the company's mission involves a social purpose. Each SnackNation box donates 10 meals to a family, with 6,143,237 donated so far through Feeding America. It's a cornerstone of the business, yet Kelly warns other entrepreneurs against overemphasizing this type of partnership: "This is controversial to some, but I think that for many consumers — most consumers — a social cause is a hygiene factor. It’s not a differentiated factor." This means that customers might like the fact that your brand is committed to a particular charity or mission, but they might not pay more for it. This makes it crucial to pick a cause that motivates yourself and your team on a personal level. Brand Positioning  That advice is the kind of information listeners will get from Kelly's podcast, Brand Builder. One powerful tip he offers to fellow F&B owners is to market strategically to set yourself apart in a crowded sector. "First and foremost, my priority as a first-time entrepreneur would be absolutely crushing it with brand story, brand positioning," he says. "What we primarily see in F&B is so many products but so few brands.  It’s important to have a brand story that resonates — that is sticky and inspiring." Content Marketing The best way to tell that brand story is through a sustained content strategy. Succeed there, and the ROI will exceed that of any influencer campaign or ad buy. "One of the only things that delivers a declining cost of acquisition over time is content marketing," he says. "If you have a good brand, you need to deliver content." Patience is a necessary component, however. Kelly says any content marketing effort will likely take at least six months to show results. SnackNation Recognition SnackNation has also been recognized for its commitment to company culture, with Inc. magazine naming it one its Best Workplaces in 2018. Much has changed with the shift to remote work, but Kelly is confident SnackNation's team will stay tight-knit and motivated. The key is to hire empathetic managers who maintain what he calls a "high care quotient." [Hello Alice Guide: Reinvigorate Your Company Culture] "We’re constantly testing new things," Kelly says. "We’re having virtual spirit weeks with prizes. We’re having a Zoom olympics. We’re making sure that people make space and have a time where you connect on personal levels. There can be an hour of nothing, where you’re all out walking as a team speaking about things that you miss. Make that space that used to happen in person so you don’t become robots." For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Aug 20, 2020 • 3 min read
Expert Advice

Moving Your Business Online? Here’s Where to Start

Building your own website offers many functions to your business. It can tell your story, provide information about your products and services, and serve as a tool to sell online. And when thinking about the ways to adapt or pivot your business in the face of the pandemic, bringing your business online should be top of mind. “We live in a world where the first thing people do when they want to find something is search the web,” says Sarang Patel, senior product manager at Hello Alice. “During this unexpected time, with more people staying inside and spending time online, a website is a great way to make a first impression.” This first impression is key when introducing your business to new audiences. But how can founders create their own website? Website platforms like Squarespace, WordPress, and Shopify make it accessible for anyone to build a website without coding knowledge or software skills (as Hello Alice software engineer Karrie Cheng previously pointed out). And these do-it-yourself tools enable you to build the right website for your business — each with plenty on online support, whether from FAQs or via customer support phone lines. “Common web platforms support integrations, or extensions, to other useful tools like chatbots to interact with visitors, payment processing, and forms to collect information. These integrations make the site more useful without having to build it from scratch,” says Patel. Many website platforms also offer free trials, allowing you to test their tool before making the leap. And if you need more time trying the platform out, some may even allow you to extend it. “Consider reaching out to them directly to get an extension on your trial. You might be surprised what kind of help they provide if you tell them you need more time to learn the tool and want to make sure it’s a right fit for you and your business,” explains Patel. While website platforms make it easy to build a website, thinking about the possibilities of what your website could look like can be a stressor. But Patel, who uses data and feedback to enhance the user experience and value of Hello Alice for business owners, says that brainstorming can be helpful in the website-building process. “Before building a website, it would be good to write out what pages you want on your website, what content and media will be on those pages and how you would like to lay it all out. Look at websites of similar businesses for inspiration. Once you’ve outlined the pages on your site, you can work on building the more important pages first,” Patel says. Creating a website can be a daunting task. Time and energy may be heavily spent on setting up a website domain. Errors may be encountered when adding webpages to your site. But that shouldn’t stop you from building one. “Founders probably already know this from running a business that doing something new or different can be scary, but it’s a learning experience," says Patel. "My advice to founders with no product development experience is to do things in small chunks and don’t be afraid to mess up." For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
May 12, 2020 • 2 min read
Expert Advice

Partnerships Might Be the Best Way to Expand Your Customer Base

In this blog series, we’ll hear Team Alice members share their areas of expertise that can help you with your business. Small, independent businesses establish partnerships with other companies every day. Take a look at Texas Party Animals arriving with treats from La Grange bakery Keri’s Kookies to their alpaca bookings. Or take note of fashion designer Kim Shui teaming up with Fitbit to create sleek wristbands for the brand's smartwatches. But why should your business consider partnering? One reason is that it can expose your product or service to a wider audience. “Partnerships offer small business owners the ability to grow their potential audience or customer base,” explains Alise Crain, partnerships operations manager at Hello Alice. “Working with other businesses that have a base audience that would also be interested in your product or service gives value to all parties involved.” Partnerships allow businesses to expand their reach with potential customers. But your goal doesn’t have to be centered on the financials either — they could also help spread a common social mission. “There is an overlap between partnerships and sales relationships, but I think a key point is that partnerships are often non-monetary, which means sharing the ‘why’ of what you're doing matters, and the vision of the partnerships you'd like to build together is important,” she says. Crain, who manages and grows relationships with business support organizations, creates partnerships to help founders gain more access to opportunities. These partnerships enable Hello Alice and its partners to advance a shared mission of helping all founders launch and grow their businesses. So how should business owners begin their outreach? Networking may be the answer. “Get out digitally and meet people, share what you're passionate about, what you're hoping to build, what kind of partnerships could help you, and how you can help your partners,” says Crain. “While cold emailing does work to some degree, an introduction goes a long way.” There may be a lot of work that goes in to partnerships, such as growing relationships and negotiating agreements, but they’re more achievable than one may think. “There's no reason to re-invent the wheel. You don't need to be an expert in everything, or offer everything,” Crain points out. “Great partnerships complement each business owner's offerings. Own what you do and what you're good at, and let partners help in the areas that you don't specialize in.” For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
May 4, 2020 • 2 min read
Expert Advice

5 Clever Zoom Hacks for Small Business Owners

Stay-at-home orders have quickly pushed us toward digital tools to stay connected with our family, friends, staff, and customers. In particular, the face-to-face benefits of videoconferencing have propelled companies like Zoom from a position of corporate obscurity to hosting quarantine weddings seemingly overnight. Now small business owners must learn how to best integrate videoconferencing software to fit their specific needs. Zoom Benefits for Small Business Owners But why should you adopt these tools for your own business? Hello Alice Director of Marketing Sandra Crawford points out that they can help founders stay in touch with their staff and customers. “Business owners right now should definitely be using some sort of video meeting, so that they can keep in touch with their team members or external meetings that they have while we’re all sheltering in place and quite isolated,” Crawford explains. “Having that video component is really critical in keeping connected.” Crawford spends her days making data-informed decisions to ensure that our services reach small business owners. This includes hosting our regular business webinars and new Community on Call series, a twice-weekly meetup for business owners affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, live on Zoom. With the advent of COVID-19, many founders are now using videoconferencing in creative ways to take their businesses online. “As a lot of business owners are needing to translate their in-person businesses online, tools like Zoom and virtual meetings are a good way to migrate some of those service-based businesses,” says Crawford. “I’ve seen yoga instructors doing online Zoom classes. I’ve seen educational content going online. There’s a lot you can probably do with your business that might be out of the box to stay in touch with your customers.” Zoom Tips for Small Business Owners We’ve asked Crawford to share her best tips on how you can make videoconferencing tools like Zoom work for you. 1. Use Zoom’s Security Features Worried about someone “Zoombombing” your meetings? Zoom has added security features to protect your meetings from unwanted disruptions. “Definitely use the tools that Zoom has developed for security — enable the password, enable the waiting room. And make sure you check the admin controls before you go live, so you know how to boot anyone out that might be disruptive,” says Crawford. “It gives you, as an admin, all those controls so you can fix problems in the moment.” 2. Sharing Your Screen Sharing your screen is useful when talking to clients, hosting a webinar, or giving a presentation to your team. But make sure to manage participant settings so that only the host can share their screen if you are doing a public meeting. This feature also allows you to share only a single app you have open, like a PowerPoint slideshow you're presenting, so you don’t have to worry about revealing your entire desktop (and notifications) to your clients or customers. 3. Connect Your Broadcast to Facebook Many business owners are using Zoom to host webinars and events. Broadcast your message even further by hosting on Facebook, too. “There’s an integration that can simultaneously host [your webinar] on Zoom and on Facebook,” Crawford explains. Making your broadcast available on both platforms can broaden your reach with audiences. 4. Record Webinars or Meetings to Share Later Zoom enables users to record their meetings, making it easy to share webinars with your audience, even when the event is long over. “In terms of virtual events, we host webinars where we bring in multiple panelists and interview them. Zoom lets you do that quite easily and record it so you can repurpose and share that with people who couldn’t attend at the moment.” 5. Trim Webinars using YouTube If you’re using YouTube to publish your recorded webinar, Crawford recommends using the site's editor to trim the first few minutes of your video — the part when you’re getting ready to begin the event. “It’s really easy to use YouTube’s built-in editor to trim the beginning of the video when you’re getting everything set up,” she says. “Trim [the beginning part] until you say ‘Welcome.’” That way, you can cut to right when the webinar begins as the video starts. Of course, Zoom isn’t the only videoconferencing tool, and Crawford says there are other many platforms out there that might better suit your business. “Founders should explore what works for them and figure out a way they can keep in touch with video meetings and keeping that human-to-human, face-to-face as much as possible,” says Crawford. For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Apr 29, 2020 • 3 min read
Expert Advice

Stacy Madison On How Agility Can Be the Secret to Longevity

While many businesses are on pause right now, leave it to Stacy Madison to innovate amid a crisis. The longtime friend of Hello Alice is not only the name behind Stacy’s Pita Chips, but also the Stacy’s Rise Project, a partner affiliated with our WomanMade Food & Bev Community. Stacy’s Rise helps to fund women in that industry, and has so far invested more than $300,000 in fledgling businesses. Madison joked to Hello Alice co-founder Elizabeth Gore in a column for Inc. that the secret to her success is that is that she "loves to eat." But obviously, there’s more to it than that. Madison knows a thing or two about flexibility. Case in point? The birth of her chips. Stacy's Chips Origin Story Madison and her business partner Mark Andrus started with a sandwich cart in Boston. People liked the sandwiches, but became even more enamored with the chips that she made from leftover pita that she cut up and baked at the end of the day. She handed them out to the lines of customers at no charge to keep them happy. And that ended up being an understatement. Although the chips weren’t part of her business plan, her agile business mind saw an opportunity. She listened to her market and switched directions when she needed to. That pita chip took her from an annual revenue of $19,000 to $65 million in nine years. BeBold Bars The lesson to learn from Madison? Never stop innovating. The latest example is the launch of her BeBOLD bars, energy bars available in almond butter and peanut butter flavors. “We’re taking the same philosophy as when starting Stacy’s Pita Chip Company and applying it to redefine the bar category. Our success was built upon trusted ingredients and creating a great product,” says Madison. “There are certainly shelf stable bars that taste great and have been around forever, but we’ve taken that to the next level with fresh ingredients. That’s why BeBOLD bars are refrigerated and typically found in the yogurt, dairy, or produce sections of the store.” The plant-based bars are gluten-free, dairy-free, kosher, and have 18 grams of whole grains and protein from nut butters, chia, walnuts, and Brazil nuts. The bars were born at Stacy’s Juicebar, and they’re still sold at independent juice bars, but look for them in grocery aisles, too, probably the only protein bars in the refrigerator section. Final Thoughts All this is to say that now is the time for innovation. Whether it’s pivoting your business or launching something new and exciting, there’s no reason to be shy about your great ideas just because times are tough. Be careful as you proceed, but never give up on your big idea. For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Apr 20, 2020 • 2 min read
Expert Advice

Simple is Always Better When It Comes To Design

In this blog series, we’ll hear Team Alice members share their areas of expertise that can help you with your business. “We all love the products we love because of good design,” says Kate Muelle, Hello Alice's director of product design. From brand logos to the fonts on your website, design is an integral part of your business, its public face. While design may be used as a tool to enhance the aesthetics of a brand, it also serves as a way to communicate information to customers. “We learn new things, navigate around cities, and connect with other people through design,” Muelle explains. “Clearly communicating information and ideas is a critical piece of business and life.” When she’s not running Burning Man camps or playing ice hockey, Muelle is leading UX/UI and brand design on the Hello Alice platform. She studied graphic design in college and has worked 10 years in the industry. But Muelle shares that design is a process that takes time to develop — even for designers. “Learning more about design is a lot like learning about anything else, it just takes practice and time,” says Muelle. “Even with young professionals who come out of design school, it takes a while for your taste to catch up with your abilities, so have patience with yourself. How can founders get started with design? Muelle says there are resources online like graphic design tools and templates that anyone can use. “Check out the Noun Project if you need icons [or] play around with Canva to create some marketing materials. You don’t need to be making things from scratch. It’s also fun to float around on Dribbble to see what people are making, hone your interests and taste a bit.” And you don’t need to be a formally-trained designer to use principles of design in your business. The rule of consistency is one that all founders can use, especially when it comes to your branding. “As a new founder, I’d spend less time hemming and hawing over which font to use and more time making sure that whatever you pick is being used everywhere," says Muelle. "Even big brands have gotten away with terrible logos for ages, but to look like a polished, respected business, you have to be consistent in your branding.” The concept of “white space” is another essential rule in design. White space is the blank space surrounding anything that’s being designed like a postcard or an app. “Know that it’s okay, even beneficial, to have some blank spaces in the things you create,” says Muelle. “Give your logo room to breathe instead of having other elements right up next to it. It’ll make it more powerful and impactful.” And another design tip that all business owners should know? “Simple is always better. Always.” For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Mar 30, 2020 • 2 min read
Expert Advice

You Don’t Have to be a Web Developer to Create a Fantastic Website For Your Business

Without a customer ever trying your product, you can win them over or repel them forever. It sounds extreme, but that's how important a first impression is. And for many of us, that introduction comes from a website. That’s why having an excellent website is one of the most important things a founder can have. But you don’t have to be a web development master to create a site that will make an impact. As software engineer Karrie Cheng points out, “It’s fairly accessible in that all one needs to get started is a laptop and access to Wi-Fi.” When she’s not analyzing musicals or looking for the best pork belly burger in Houston, Cheng is building features at Hello Alice. Although she has a computer science degree under her belt, Cheng credits online tutorials as an important part of her journey — resources that any founder can use. “I personally used Codecademy when I got started almost eight years ago. It’s a great place to learn some basics,” says Cheng, “Udemy and Pluralsight have been other resources I’ve used to learn web development.” But how can founders use web development, even the basics, for their business? Cheng suggests that owners work on their businesses' search engine optimization (SEO): “If they are just building a site with their name, contact info, and testimonials, I would say that SEO is important so people can discover them and they can save money on ads.” And for more complex websites, like storefronts, she recommends taking another route. “While it’s easy to DIY it on static sites (sites that only show fixed information), it becomes a bit harder once things are dynamic," says Cheng. "If it gets to the point where you are spending more time learning about how to support these things, it’s time to use e-commerce software.” Many e-commerce platforms don’t require you to be an ace developer, making it easy for anyone to create a site just how you want it. “A lot of e-commerce sites like Shopify and Etsy have things called APIs (application programming interface) that allow you to interact with the site. Shopify specifically has the ability to automate certain flows for you, but you can build your own flows if you know some programming basics,” Cheng explains. There are other web platforms available like Squarespace or Wix that can help you create and host your website without being an expert developer. But Cheng assures readers that anyone can pick up software skills: “People think you have to be a certain type of person to be a software engineer. You do not. You’re not too old, dumb, or right-brained to learn software development. If you’re open to learning and problem solving, you’ll be okay.” For more small business tips and inspiration create a free account on Hello Alice or subscribe to our weekly newsletter.
Mar 16, 2020 • 2 min read
Expert Advice

Jen Keefe of Happy Healing Arts on Finding Your Bliss

When Jen Keefe chose the moniker Happy Healing Arts for her Norfolk, Massachusetts wellness practice, she meant every word. However, the first one holds special power. “Feeling happy did not always come easy to me, in fact it was probably one of the biggest obstacles that I’ve had to overcome in life,” she recalls. Now, she says it’s an emotion that everyone deserves, and her life’s mission is to share it with them however she can. Her business is a multi-pronged effort to make clients feel great. She offers a variety of services, including art lessons, meditation, happiness coaching, and energy and spiritual healing, such as hypnosis, mediumship, and reiki. She even uses a self-made, mandala-style coloring book called “The Art of Happiness” to train young adults to slow down their minds and focus on just relaxing into the moment. Keefe’s previous foray into entrepreneurship also had art at its heart, but possessed a very different soul. Her mural and custom finish painting business succeeded for eight years, but life, as it often does, sent her in a new direction. “Toward the end of that career, a major shift occurred in my personal life that sparked a deep curiosity about the universe and life’s bigger picture,” she says. As a result, she began to immerse herself in learning about energy medicine, quantum physics, metaphysics, and any discipline that touched what she calls “the healing arts.” That led to meeting her mentor, a woman who owned a healing arts learning and wellness center. “I credit her for giving me the little push I needed to start working with my somewhat newly acquired knowledge and skill set,” Keefe remembers. The vision for Happy Healing Arts came to Keefe early last year. “It wasn’t even something that was on my radar at the time, but I felt in my heart that it was something I needed to do,” she says. Since then, she’s shared countless transformative moments. That means seeing her clients embrace unmined artistic bents, but also watching herself grow more fulfilled by the day as her business swiftly expands and she helps more and more people. When Keefe summarizes what she does, she likes to reference a quote from Anne Frank, “Whoever is happy, will make others happy.” It’s a simple truth, she admits, but one that she wants to “radiate out into this world.” And that’s exactly what she does.
Aug 1, 2019 • 2 min read