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Keep your branding simple

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Keep it simple branding

The coffee house sketch that sparked the Bearded Brothers brand.

I can’t tell you how important it is to have great branding, and one of the keys to great branding is to keep it simple. In a sea of consumer packaged goods that are screaming for your attention, simplicity is often the best way to grab somebody’s attention. When every other package on the shelf is LOUD, when ever color demands your attention, taking lo-fi approach is quite possibly your best option. This was the idea that sparked the Bearded Brothers branding. Keep it simple, “the more simplistic the better” were the words a mentor scribbled on a Moleskine journal page! We maintain the same philosophy when creating products too. Keep it simple!

If you found this post insightful or plan on launching your own food business in 2015 you may want to sign up for my Food Launcher email list, and be the first to know when my new site launches (March 2015). Food Launcher will focus on inspiring food entrepreneurs and providing valuable information to help you get your product to market.

Food Launcher Coming in March 2015

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It’s a new year, which means new goals, new projects, and new adventures. I feel 2015 is going to shape up to be an awesome year for me. I have decided to take on a big personal project, a side business if you will. The project is going to be called Food Launcher. Food Launcher is going to be a website/blog dedicated to helping startup food businesses get their project off the ground.

I haven’t decided for certain what all the site will have, but rest assured the site will be full of useful content for aspiring food entrepreneurs, such as blog posts, interviews, podcasts, and even a valuable ebook. This project is starting out of my own desire to help other aspiring food businesses launch and get their product to market. I remember vividly still all the frustrations and struggles I faced when starting Bearded Brothers. My goal is that Food Launcher will make it MUCH easier for new food businesses to launch.

So with that said, please sign up for my email list and you will be the first to know when Food Launcher goes live!

Holiday gifts ideas for entrepreneurs

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Gift ideas for entrepreneurs
Holiday shopping can be a challenge. You have many people to buy for and, in todays day and age, there is a chance you know an entrepreneur. Here are some Holiday gift ideas for the entrepreneur in your life, all of which I wouldn’t mind getting this Christmas, myself! (hint, hint mom and dad, if you are reading this)

Moleskine Journal

Moleskine Journal

Moleskine Journal

Moleskine Journals and notebooks are elegantly designed, durable, and perfect for taking notes, brainstorming, or planning that next big project. There isn’t a single entrepreneur on the planet that doesn’t use/need a good notebook. This is one gift the entrepreneur in your life will definitely use, and there is no fear they will return it, because more than likely they go through multiple journals a year.

Premium subscriptions to their favorite app

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 6.37.43 AMChances are the entrepreneur in your life has a favorite app they use on their phone. There is also a good chance that app offers a premium service. Two of my favorite apps, Evernote and LeanKit both offer premium levels of service. Evernote is an app that a large majority of entrepreneurs use to organize thoughts and take notes – it’s a super deluxe version of a tactile notebook. Moleskine even makes a journal that is designed to utilize Evernote’s optical note capturing feature.

Smart phone car mount

Entrepreneurs are busy people, and drive to meetings, listen to motivational podcasts on their morning commute, and need a hands-free way to take phone calls while driving. Enter the smart phone car mount. Car mounts will help keep your entrepreneur safe by keeping their eyes off their phone inside the car, and on the road: making following GPS directions easier, and taking hands-free phone calls a possibility. This Mashable article lists several suggestions for smart phone car mounts.

Ticket to a conference or retreat

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One of the great things about entrepreneurs is they never stop learning! The greatest entrepreneurs read books, listen to motivational podcasts, and attend seminars, events and retreats to help them grow their business. An example is the Entreleadership Summit, which is hosted by business owner and financial guru, Dave Ramsey. There are hosts of others out there too, and chances are the entrepreneur you know already has one in mind they want to attend.

A gift card to their favorite store (or iTunes)

What entrepreneur doesn’t want to treat their self? Chances are, especially with startups, you have been spending countless hours serving others and scraping by to provide for the family. Get them a gift card so they can buy something they really love. If you are unsure of where to get a gift card, iTunes gift cards are an excellent option. Entrepreneurs love music just like the rest of the world, and often times use music is a tool to help them focus and get lots of work done.

Five project management tips

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Taking on a big project can be intimidating. Most big projects are not simple to manage. There are many pieces to the puzzle, and the workflow is never completely linear. Projects usually involve multiple people and have several deadlines that have to be met in order for the next part of the project to move forward.

Here are five tips to help you successfully manage your next big project and keep the ball rolling.

Visual Project Mangement software, DropTask.

Visual Project Mangement software, DropTask.

1. Break the project up into categories or key components. More than likely there are parts of the project that can be worked on at the same time as others, and there will be other critical components that have to wait until others are completed. Let’s say you are launching a new product. One key component of that will be packaging design, and the other key component will be product design. Each one can be worked on simultaneously, but there are also certain aspects of the packaging design that can’t be completed until the product design is finalized. So, don’t let the completion dictate the start of one project when it can be started simultaneously.

2. Map out key due dates. Record every critical due date into your calendar. Going back to the product launch example. Many different things have to fall into place to get the product to market: product finalization, packaging finalization, turning in art work to the printer, producing the product, packaging the product, and delivering the product to distribution. All of these key time sensitive stages of the product launch have to happen at just the right time. So, recording down all the critical dates is crucial to a successful project.

3. Know who is responsible for what. Each key component of a project will have a person responsible for getting that done. It’s your job as the project manager to follow up with them and make sure things are moving forward. If getting packaging printed for your new product launch is a critical step you need to ensure proper communication is made with the printer to ensure they will be able to complete their end of the project on time. Frequent follow-ups are key to make sure a project happens on time.

4. Visual Project Management. I’ve mentioned KanBan in the past for visual task management, and I recently discovered DropTask for visual project management. I have been putting both of them to good use for the project I am currently managing. DropTask allows you to visually see each component of your project, assign deadlines, importance, and people to particular tasks. The white board method works well too in a small office, but the nice thing about DropTask is you can update it straight from your computer, make notes, and communicate with other internal team members involved with the project.

5. Communication is key. The most important component of successful project management is communication! As the project manager it’s your job to communicate with the team and make sure each aspect of the project is moving forward, and remind people of critical deadlines, and offer support if needed.

Project management can seem daunting, but as long as a bit of structure is put into place, managing the project will be easy. That doesn’t mean it still won’t be stressful at times, but with timelines in place, roles defined, and a visual course mapped out, your project is sure to be a success.

How to enjoy Thanksgiving as an entrepreneur  

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Family time on Black Friday

Family time at the park, last Thanksgiving: on Black Friday.

As an entrepreneur you are rarely not working. Even when you are not in front of a computer your mind is always thinking about work, your gears are always churning (thinking of new ideas), and you are likely obsessively checking your phone to monitor social media, your Black Friday sale, and to check email. All of those things can really put a damper on family time around the holidays.

You are likely hard on yourself about taking time off, but Thanksgiving (and the holidays that follow) should be the one time of year that you allow yourself a pass and take some time off to rejuvenate and spend time with loved ones. Being intentional about taking time off will help you recharge so you come back to work refreshed, and your family will appreciate it as well.

Here are some tips to help you enjoy Thanksgiving:

Acknowledge you need to take a break. Chances are you have been working long and hard all year long. You deserve a break, and what better time to take a break than when the rest of the business world slows down a bit? It’s the time of year that most offices close down for at least a day, some take off another day or two to spend with family. You have been working tirelessly, so realize that taking a break is a good thing. A little bit of time off just might be what you needed to go back to work refreshed and with renewed energy. We could all use a little bit of renewed energy, right?

Schedule your Tweets, Facebook posts, and set an email auto responder. The scheduling feature available in Twitter and Facebook will make your life much easier during the Thanksgiving holiday. Having a Black Friday sale? Schedule your Tweets and Facebook posts ahead of time, as well as your email blast. This way your not spending time in front of your computer when you could be sleeping in and spending time with your family. It will also help you avoid distractions such as responding to emails and working on projects. Set auto responders on your email accounts too so your vendors and customers know to expect a delayed response. Chances are they are at home relaxing anyway, so there isn’t much to worry about.

Quarantine your devices. If you don’t have the discipline to leave your phone in your pocket you might want to have a family member put your smart phone in quarantine for the day, or at least for a majority of it. Leave your laptop at home as well if you are traveling. Having your computer readily available will only increase the temptation to work. If you are traveling for an extended period of time and absolutely have to bring the laptop, be sure to set restrictions on how much time you will spend on it each day.

Plan activities. Don’t simply sit around all day. Sure, that sounds relaxing, but you will be numb with boredom and more likely to break our your phone to surf social media or respond to emails. Plan walks with your family, go for a hike if you are near some trails, play a game together. I’m a huge advocate of getting outside, no matter what the activity. Fresh air is good for the soul. Especially for the entrepreneur that spends countless hours behind a computer indoors.

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Thanksgiving is one of the best times of the year to take a step back and relax, as an entrepreneur. A little planning ahead will set your mind at ease and make it easier for you to sit back and relax. I’ve actually come to a point where I look forward to turning off the computer and being out of the office for extended periods of times. It helps me to truly relax, and as a result I return refreshed and ready to move forward full steam.