A Goldfish Swimming With the Whales – An Adventure at the INC 500 | 5000 Conference

By Veronica Jorden, Red, White & Blue Pages & First Page Last Page


goldfishjumpingWhen it comes to the world of business, I’m a goldfish. I’m not the CEO of a multi-million dollar company. I’ve never built a business so grand that a competitor makes an offer to buy. Yes, when you consider size and bottom line, I am happily treading water, but am living at the edge of the shallows. But not everything about me is small. I’ve got big dreams, whale-sized dream, even. And recently, I took the first steps toward that monumental growth by attending the 2013 Inc 500|5000 conference.


So I know what you’re thinking, how in the heck does a small-fry like me get an invitation to a conference like that? How does the goldfish get the horizon-expanding, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to mingle with the whales of business? It happened only because of the generosity and support of the folks from Inc. and the brilliant, purpose-driven mind of Natalie Thomas and her Military Entrepreneur program.


From the minute I scanned the daily agenda I knew my business life was about to change. I was about to swim in the same waters as business phenomena like Norm Brodsky, and Gary Vanderchuck, Marc Ecko, and Ben Rattray. I was flapping fins with the whales of the business world, the giants of industry and growth, and the best part was that I wasn’t hiding in their shadows…I had been invited. I was being welcomed. I was being taught and challenged to shed my tiny self and grow into something bigger.


I could literally write you a book about all of the amazing people, the tidbits of knowledge, the techniques and ideas that I can home with. But for now, I’d like to share a little bit about my favorite four speakers. Even weeks after the conference, their words and idea are still rattling around in my brain.


Profitability and social mission are not mutually exclusive.

Ben Rattray, founder of Change.org is not only helping to change the world through his website, but he is working to help change the way we think about business. His for-profit company was built to fulfill a social mission and he challenges other businesses to find ways to both make a profit and make a difference. For me, the idea that a business can both turn a profit and have a positive impact on their community, is one that we should all aspire to. Imagine the world we could live in if more businesses focused on their ability to do good while they are making money and worked to find a way to not sacrifice one for the other.


Empower people to high-level thinking and you can change the world

Jack Stack, President and CEO of SRC Holdings Corporation and author of the book, The Great Game of Business, operates his company by an open-book policy. Every employee, from the senior executives down to the janitorial staff, has access to the company financials. The idea is that by empowering people at all levels to a higher level of thinking, you allow them to own their part in the process. When every single member of your team understands that how they do their job has an impact on all the other moving parts of a business, amazing things start to happen. You create an environment that is strengthened by a sense of teamwork and allows those people doing the job to help you find ways to do it better.


“You are a brand.”

Marc Ecko, founder and CEO of Ecko Unlimited, has spent his career learning how to stay true to the ideas and reasons he started his business, while growing it into a multi-million dollar operation. In his book, (watch the video trailer, it's awesome!) offers a unique formula for finding success in business without surrendering the part of the business that is “you.” We are all a brand. And that brand starts in our gut and is a reflection of who we are and the vision we have for our company. If you want to be successful in business you have to be a creator and you have stop focusing on all of the things you don’t do well and give your energy to those things you can do well. But no matter what you do, make sure you are creating wealth that matters. Use your energy and your talents on impact and don’t lose sight of how what you do affects those around you.


“In marketing, helpful is the new viral.”

One of the most colorful speakers at the conference was Gary Vanderchuck. He is the co-founder and CEO of VaynerMedia and is the author of bestsellers “Crush It” and “Thank You Economy.” Gary is the Yoda of social media, he's the master. He has built a tremendous social media influence by following a simple approach, summed up in four little words: Listen. Learn. Care. Serve. Gone are the days when you can just push out your product and service to a captive audience. We live in the middle of the hum and buzz of almost constant messaging. To stand out in the crowd you either have to "write something worth reading or do something worth writing about." And as you grow your influence, you have to be willing to be generous to others. “Helpful is the new viral.” If you can figure out how to become the trusted friend and valuable resource for your customers, you will set yourself up for nothing but success.


So while I am still a goldfish, I am absorbing the lessons learned by these mammoths of business. And thanks to Inc. and all of the mentors, attendees, staff, and speakers, I now have a real sense of how to move forward.


For me the most incredible part of the experience and all that I learned is this:


It doesn’t matter if you are turning huge profits or are a company of one, if you are selling cupcakes or providing high-tech information services, opening yourself up to learning from those around you can and will have a profound impact on your business.


To all of my fellow goldfish out there, don't be afraid to dream about being a whale, and don't be afraid to reach out to those who can help teach you. As entrepreneurs, true growth and success will only come when we are willing to tap into our business community and share and learn from each other.

Entrepreneurship: How to succeed from the start


By Jake Weatherly, SheerID


Believe it or not your role as a military spouse has molded you into a prime candidate for entrepreneurial success. Think about it. Have you ever managed to make a paycheck go that extra mile? Have you ever handled school, kids and your spouse’s deployment all at the same time? The list could go on. My point is whether you are the wife of a sailor or husband of Marine, your time as a military spouse has taught you budgeting, organization, stress management and numerous other traits required of a small business owner.


As a young entrepreneur I was lucky enough to learn a thing or two from those who were willing to guide me. In my experience, there are six key points to get any aspiring entrepreneur started on the right foot when entering the new business world.


Don’t be afraid to make mistakes

Hardships are inevitable on the path to success and making mistakes is a reality. If you’re new to the entrepreneurial space, you should embrace early mistakes, learn from them and move on.


Recognize the value of a small number of employees

A small team allows you to create a unique, well-crafted culture that is specific to your business. This will facilitate easy adoption by other team members and therefore ensure your business culture and goals are in line with each other. A small team will also allow you to take advantage of a fragmented business structure, drawing the best talent from key geographical areas that are beneficial to growth.  


Don’t feel obliged to move your business to an industry hub

When conducting business from an industry hub, competition for exceptional talent is stiff and it’s easy to get caught up in the status quo. Operating in a lesser-known area provides you the opportunity to standout and builds a business based on your goals and ideas, not someone else’s.


Listen to your client / customer

No question, comment or concern should be off limits. Your customer base may raise a question or identify an opportunity not originally envisioned by you and your entrepreneurial team. This can require thick skin but the benefits can outweigh the costs.


Practice pitching

More importantly, practice pitching your business to people who are unfamiliar with your product or service. This will provide you with valuable experience in speaking real-world language and help build the confidence you will need when soliciting investors.


Be diligent when soliciting investors

When the time comes to enlist investors, target seasoned professionals who welcome strategy discussions and have experience with the many ups and downs you anticipate going though. If done right, this can facilitate a smooth transition from the bootstrapping phase straight into the professional investor phase. 



With these six tips and the existing experience that comes with being a military spouse, feel confident in pursuing your entrepreneurial dreams.

Cliches That are Holding You Back


by Don Purdum


Avoid ClichesCould it be that you don't have the marriage or business you want because you got the one you deserved? What we get in life is many times a reflection of what we put into our minds which will determine the opportunities we take, the choices that we make, and the decisions we choose.


Over the years I've heard a lot of clichés about marriage:


* Love is blind

* Old ball and chain

* I've heard there are three rings of marriage: the engagement ring, the wedding ring and the suffering.

* Marriage takes 50/50

* If the Army wanted you to have a wife, they would have issued you one


The fact is, these particular clichés are damaging to the subconscious and the way you see your spouse, life, work, and business. When you hear and believe these things long enough, they will have a detrimental effect on your mind, relationships, and even work performance.


All clichés do are reinforce the views you already have and help you subconsciously justify your choices and decisions on how you will interact or behave with your spouse, thus, complicating the relationship even more if you’re already struggling. They help you prepare the way out as you scheme and plan and bait both yourself and your partner.


What you tell about yourself says a lot about how you feel and think about others. That will have ripple effects throughout all areas of your life.


For example, you have been telling yourself that you wife is no longer into you. But, the truth is she is exhausted from work, taking care of the kid’s needs as well as yours. It isn't that she isn't interested; it's that she is exhausted. When we misinterpret actions or deeds and start telling ourselves stories that aren't true, we may build up mistrust, fear, worry, or lack of intimacy that erode the relationship.


Because you aren't communicating, you start struggling in the relationship and that will affect your mindset and choices. Perhaps you've lost sleep and now you’re tired and irritated as well. You are not yourself and as a result you don't interact the same way within your business. You take things out on your team and employees unnecessarily. Perhaps you've lost your edge with your prospects and customers and aren't as friendly or outgoing. This can and probably will hurt your business.


The stories we tell ourselves have HUGE impacts on the outcomes of our lives. We have to learn how to become transparent with ourselves.


What is below ground always controls what happens above ground. Farmers always know how to grow great fruit, because they know where the source of the potential is at.

What do you feed your root (i.e. your mind) to ensure that you get a great crop?

Farmers are masters at knowing what season they are in, planting, growing, harvesting, rest. Because smart farmer knows what season they are in, they know how to yield a great crop when it comes time for the harvest.

Every relationship has a season. Don’t allow the negative stories you tell yourself to define your marriage or business when the going gets tough. Perhaps you need to get rid of the disease or root rot that is destroying your relationship. Perhaps you need to better nurture your roots?

You can try to rearrange the seasons, but you will not yield a crop. Your life will still be in chaos. You cannot force it! You will go through your seasons for a reason.

But, whatever you do, do not allow clichés and untrue stories to play a negative role in your mind that corrupts your roots and stops your marriage from growing; or destroys your business.

Instead of allowing negative feelings and thoughts to capture your mind and take your relationship in negative places, try replacing them with good and kind thoughts about your partner that will enhance your marriage and relationship and foster respect, care, admiration, and love.


Instead of making assumptions, and you know what happens when you make assumptions, try going for a walk or get time away and just talk. Share how you are feeling and why you feel the way you do. You may be shocked at what comes back? Try it, I dare you!

Don’t you deserve better than clichés and assumptions? Doesn’t your spouse deserve better? Don’t you want better?


If you want different results, then you will have to change what you are doing. It all starts in your mind!



Don PurdumDon Purdum is a speaker, author, and radio host. He is a veteran of both the U.S. Navy and a former Chaplain in the U.S. Army National Guard. In addition he has owned five businesses over the last nine years and he and his wife Nicole discovered divorce rates among entrepreneurs and businesses owners are approximately 40%. We work with both aspiring and established entrepreneurs, businesses owners and their families to inspire them to happy marriages and successful businesses. You can learn more about Don at www.donpurdum.com

Business Succession Plan


Bob Hembd





Good Morning. My name is Bob Hembd. I have 25 years of experience in the financial services industry. Throughout this time, I have worked with hundreds of business owners in helping them solve the problems that can arise from being self- employed. These issues include taxation, risk management and business succession planning.

The area I would like to discuss today centers around business succession or continuation planning. In an entrepreneur’s early days of establishing a successful business, the focus is on doing everything they can to manage cash flow and profitability. Even though it is important, the thoughts of planning for the “what- ifs” are generally not on the entrepreneur’s mind. In my opinion, this planning is even more important for the military family business owner.

So, what is a Business Succession Plan?

Really, it is a tool that lays out your process to providing a strategic and comprehensive approach to managing and anticipating the life of your business and its transition.

It can be considered a live road-map, which allows you to make changes. This plan serves as a guide to manage change in your business. The succession plan should always be coordinated with your estate plan.


Why do you NEED a Business Succession Plan?


80%-90% of businesses in the United States are family owned, and yet according to research (Family Firm Institute, 2005) only 3% make it past the third generation of family.

Organization and a succession plan are key components because they will prepare you as a business owner for the time you will retire, or in the case of unexpected circumstances that you have to sell your business. It allows you to address the issues of illness and death, and it allows you to secure the success of the business transitioning to a new owner. *Whether you are related to the person or whether it is being transitioned to another interested party.


Why should you include this with your overall estate plan? Because having a plan allows you to maximize your return and minimize the tax burden at transfer. All items listed are relative to your estate. Having the documents developed and organized will insure that your wishes are followed through.

Additionally, unexpected gift, estate and income tax will become an issue without a plan. Ultimately, the future of your business could be exposed.

To summarize a business succession plan, it will list the new owner(s), whether it is a family member, employees, a third party or a combination. It structures and explains an orderly exit for you from your business when the time comes.

Due to the uncertainty and constant change that comes with the military life style, the military spouse business owner needs to plan for all contingencies. These should include shorter lease agreements, thorough business partnership agreements and a buy-sell agreement. Addressing these issues will make certain that the business owner has provided themselves the most flexibility possible.

The shorter business lease will allow for the “store front” business to be re-located should that need arise. Having a partner in your business, though it may create other issues beyond the scope of this blog, would inherently allow for the sale of your business to a predetermined individual. Having a professionally drafted buy-sell agreement would allow you to sell the business at a predetermined price in any scenario; including death, disability, retirement or relocation.

I highly recommend that you contact a business advisor whom specializes in business succession planning, or check with the Military Spouse Business Association for any recommendations they have for people in this field.

If you have any questions in regards to personal and financial information organization, I would gladly speak with you. You may learn more about us at: www.mylegacymadeeasy.com. Our business is a military friendly organization that works to provide our services to people exactly like you!


Thank you for your time, and enjoy the balance of your day,
Bob Hembd, Founder


Bob Hembd is a twenty five year veteran of the financial services industry.  Specializing in life insurance and safe money retirement planning, he has helped thousands of professionals and business owners create a personalized strategy that is best suited for their planning needs.  More recently, he created the Legacy Planner, estate organizational tool, through his company MyLegacyMadeEasy, LLC.  The philosophy behind the Legacy Planner is to "help people organize their life's work".  It is  offered on a wholesale basis through investment advisors and independent agents nationwide and is also offered FREE to military personnel and Veterans through the MyLegacyMadeEasy Foundation for Veterans.

Day 30: OPERATION: Create Your Own Path

day30-dailyadvice -useyournetworkWe are so pleased, and yes, even a little sad, that our event is coming to a close. It has been an outstanding month, full of great advice and amazing military spouse business owners. Today's business owner offers some outstanding advice about how to use your network to help grow your business. She herself uses this advice on a daily basis, and has in fact written an entire series to flesh out this idea on her own blog.


This is another skill that military spouses often develop by default thanks to frequent PCSing. Getting settled in a new community and growing your business...both require you to use your network!



Amy Schofield

Schofield Strategies



"Starting a business is easy – maintaining it and maximizing it to the fullest potential takes work.


In my opinion, the most important aspect of owning a business is networking. You may think I am just saying this because I am a resume writer and I encourage my job-seeking clients to take an active role in networking for their job search, but the same holds true for business owners. Once you have the business groundwork and tools in place, you’ve got to make sure you spend time reaching out and developing personal connections with people. I have taken the time to get to know other business owners, yes even other resume writers, so that I can strategically align with people who will help with the growth of my business. I also work one-on-one with my resume clients; I do not outsource any piece of my resume-writing process, and I think that is key in developing that personal connection with my clients.


Part of this networking process also involves working with a mentor or joining a mastermind group, and I highly recommend anyone who is thinking about starting a business to seek those sources out."


Read more: Day 30: OPERATION: Create Your Own Path

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