OutBuro Voices Interview Christopher Berno LGBT Entrepreneur Professional Media Tech Startup Business Owner Video Interview Podcast

Christopher Berno – LGBT Entrepreneur Serial Startup CEO

In this episode of OutBüro Voices featuring LGBTQ professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders from around the world, host Dennis Velco chats with Christopher Berno, an LGBT entrepreneur serial startup CEO.

Christopher has worked in technology his whole career. He applies knowledge gained from past corporate jobs and past startups as accumulative wisdom to fresh and innovative startup. His entrepreneurial spirit thrives in dreams while rooted in the foundation of understanding dreams or ideas must have a practical application and solve some problems in order to gain traction In business. Investors today do rarely fund an idea. And entrepreneur must be able to either alone or through a team assemble an MVP (minimum value product) that gains traction and can be improved upon along the way. Just watch Shark Tank and you will see that investors want to know what revenue the company has already had to date. You must also understand your direct and indirect competitors as well as have a good understanding of the size of your achievable market.

Christopher on OutBüro >> https://www.outburo.com/profile/chrisberno/

Experienced Co-Founder with a demonstrated history of working in the online media industry. Skilled in Customer Acquisition, Sales, Contact Centers, Management, and Start-ups. Strong business development professional and leader of people, process and technology. 

City Screen TV

CityScreen TV Interactive Media Christopher Berno LGBT entrepreneur gay business founder ceo professional community leader mentor

Smart TV Advertising is the fastest-growing segment in the ad industry in 2019 because it sits at the intersection of your customers’ online and offline, physical worlds.  The CityScreen™ Smart TV Advertising Platform helps advertisers leverage this power and connect with their target audiences in exciting new ways from any connected smart tv. Location-based retailers and venues can grow new revenue with our Smart TV display ad applications.

Connect Beyond The Screen

CityScreen™ helps brands and advertisers connect with audiences in locations and in ways that until recently were not possible. We integrate the latest in mobile computing technology and Smart TV hardware with our spatial media platform to create new kinds of experiences. The applications for this technology are limitless, but we’re developing workflows that improve interactions between brands and consumers and better distribute ad spend across all participating parties – including the consumer!

Hyper-Local Display Targeting

Side-step the premium distributors and supply-side platforms that roll the dice with your marketing budgets and connect directly with the broadcasters running your ads on their public facing smart tvs. Broadcasters list business critical parameters about foot-traffic, customer demographic, peak hours and much more. Broadcaster information published in our Spatial Advertising Display Inventory where advertisers can search and purchase “Air Time” with the local broadcasters directly.

Engage Like Never Before

Consumers want experiences from brands and that’s exactly what you can deliver with CityScreen™. Whether you bring your existing media or start your spatial advertising from a new perspective, we’ll can help you deliver engaging, informative and powerful brand experiences that transcend the mundane and delight audiences.

BYO Content

We’ve had great success in 2019 repurposing our clients existing media content to function on much bigger screens and within highly interactive advertising apps. Use your existing S3, DropBox or other cloud storage service to source media files for distribution or start making new brand experiences that maximize all the interactive features that the CityScreen™ platform offers.

Interactive Add-Ons

Consumers want experiences from brands and that’s exactly what you can deliver with CityScreen™. It’s time to think BIG because you’re no longer limited to mobile devices, tablets and desktop screens. From large-format displays to gaming consoles and VR headsets, we offer an evergreen marketplace of interactive add-ons that will take your content to a new level of interaction and immersion.

To connect with Christopher find him on OutBüro here. https://outburo.com/profile/chrisberno/

Join me and Christopher on OutBüro, the LGBTQ professional and entrepreneur online community network for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer, allies and our employers who support LGBTQ welcoming workplace equality focused benefits, policies, and business practices. https://www.OutBuro.com

Would you like to be featured like this? Contact the host Dennis Velco. https://outburo.com/profile/dennisvelco/


Conversation Transcript

The below was created through voice to text recognition. We will strive to edit for accuracy as time permits. It may not be perfect. It is being provided for the hearing impaired to still enjoy the interview.

Unknown Speaker 0:02
Hi there. This is Dennis Velco with OutBüro at www.OutBuro.com. Thank you so much for tuning in to this episode of OutBüro voices where we have fascinating and interesting, impromptu dialogue with interesting LGBT professionals, entrepreneurs and community leaders. Today we have the privilege of being joined by Christopher Berno, who is a lifelong entrepreneur. So we’re going to have some interesting stories to get to thank you so much for joining us today, Christopher.

Unknown Speaker 0:41
Dennis, good to see you. Thank you for having me.

Unknown Speaker 0:43
Absolutely. Absolutely. And as I love to do is get right in and start talking a little bit about your history. So if you could just give us a little bit of background to help familiarize and set the frame for our conversation today.

Unknown Speaker 0:58
Yeah, sure. I’d be happy to Thanks again for having me today. I think the work you’re doing is so important for so many different reasons. And so I just want to at the very onset, just say, first of all, thank you. And it’s a real honor to to be a part of it. Thank you.

Unknown Speaker 1:12
Well, I appreciate it. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker 1:15
So, in terms of just kind of background in history, my career started right out of college. I went to school in southern Ontario. I’m Canadian, originally. And right after graduation, I got an undergraduate degree in psychology and immediately upon graduation got into the technical workspace, I guess I was brought on to work with Barnes and noble.com. And just to kind of give some context, and some timeframes here, we’re talking about the late 90s. So what did that look like in terms of technology? Well, cell phones were, I think, you know, I think my dad had his cell phone in his car at that point that was hardwired, right. So people were not walking around with their cell phones in hands like they are today. There was certainly no Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Not only was it there was no MySpace. Really the internet at that point AOL was was was happening I guess then

Unknown Speaker 2:13
I do remember that that era? Yeah, I think

Unknown Speaker 2:16
it’s really important context, right? Because if you’re I mean, I’m in my late 40s now so that context really matters because younger people watching this aren’t maybe you know, aren’t going to really understand what it meant to get into technology in the 90s. Like it meant getting into technology today. So that’s why I bring that up. But Barnes and noble.com was my first kind of foray into the technology world and what a cool time and space to be, I mean, but you know, Barnes and Noble is obviously a national brand obviously, a household brand name right. You know, when I say Barnes and Noble, you know, what they do, but back in the 90s that was it was time for a massive transition from, you know, selling books on shelves in iconic stores on Main Street. To transitioning that to the web and everything from the distribution, from the sale online too, you know, distribution and getting that book from point A to point B. So that was really my first kind of foray into tech. And I got to kind of work my way up through the ranks there. And by the time I left Barnes and Noble, I was the manager of distribution and e-commerce. So basically managing all of the touchpoints from the time the customer ordered the book online to the time that the customer received their book, and, you know, a lot of touchpoints back then. One thing I do want to say about that timeframe, which was kind of interesting is that you know, Amazon was not a household name then. Right, and just kind of looking back. It’s kind of cool to remember, and I was part of this too, and certainly, you know, hindsight is 2020. And I think Steve Jobs said, you can only connect the dots looking back but at the time, I remember actually Amazon being mocked by my superiors You know, that the senior leadership team at Barnes and Noble and I remember one particular all-hands meeting where they are saying like, oh, does anybody want a toaster, you know, with that bestseller. And what they were implying was that it’s just silly to have this place where you can go and get everything you need on one website, we’re going to focus on books and slowly books. And now history, you know, has a way of showing who the winner is going to be in those scenarios, right. And looking back, you know, it’s really it was really, you don’t realize that at the time, but you’re learning so much, you know, as you’re even if you do have a job with a company, you’re not ready to be an entrepreneur yet that you can soak up so much learning during that process of working for other companies and, you know, finding opportunity in other companies. But I belabored that, but Barnes and noble.com was an incredible learning experience for me. I got recruited out of there with a.com out of San Francisco, and it’s funny because.com used to mean something like, you know, it’s like kind of the, what we used to call startups that you working for a.com Right, right. We’re the the.com bubble burst of 2001 but it was a wireless company called Omni sky and what a cool I mean just going from, you know, a household major brand like Barnes and Noble to a startup that basically no one’s heard of before Omni sky.com and basically what they did as cell phones were starting to take on more popularity and more and more people were adopting cell phone technology and mobile in their hands. It was still it was only voice at that point in time so if you take a time machine back now to say to 1999 or 2000 cell phones were in people’s hands but all it was voice. So again, context it might be hard for someone like a millennial or you know, Gen Gen Z to wrap their mind around but a mobile device all it was voice there was no chat. You certainly weren’t sending files and you certainly weren’t watching video you were talking and that’s about it. And what these guys did back in 2000 was create a cradle if you want for your phone, which allowed you to connect to the internet and move data with cellular packets. So it was the very first time that you could actually transmit text data as we do now with text messages. And at that time, it was just so monumental. And it was an absolute no brainer for me to take that job. And I was managing their technical support operations. And so like I said, it was a San Francisco based startup called nice guy. And that was just such a great experience to in a different way. I’ll say one thing that’s, you know, a pivotal moment in my career was September 11. And, you know, it’s just I remember that day, I remember where I was, and we had so many of our customers were actually in, you know, the World Trade Centers and literally within two weeks of September 11 2001, we were, you know, we were closed

Unknown Speaker 6:51
Wow.

Unknown Speaker 6:52
Yeah, really fascinating and it’s

Unknown Speaker 6:56
tragic and, but, but fascinating and great lessons. Well

Unknown Speaker 7:00
You know, what’s interesting is that, you know, yes, that was devastating to a building and several buildings around. I actually lived in New York at the time, and was just blocks. You know, I actually had people from that area, because I, one of my clients was Deutsche Bank. And it was right across the street. I don’t know if you recall, back when that was happening. On TV, there would be this big dark, almost black, it was very dark brown building that had the American flag on it. I do and they kept showing, well, that was the Deutsche Bank building, and so that I was there and I was there. I was working on that client during all of this. And so I had actually and then I had friends who lived right across the street, closer to the harbor area. And so when my ex and I we Got a condo apartment on 10th? And between 10th and ninth on 20. Oh, well, so you,

Unknown Speaker 8:08
Chelsea? Well, we were like considered Chelsea.

Unknown Speaker 8:13
Just as the galleries were going into that area moving up to that area and so actually had people walk because you couldn’t get a taxi you could obviously couldn’t do subway. And so they would they actually walked to our apartment. So, within about two hours of all of that happening, we had three people, three additional people. One couple who lived there and one guy that was work was on his way to work in the building, get diverted and going, Oh my god, I can’t go back all the way to Brooklyn where I lived. So can I come to your place? And we’re like, yeah, crazy. So but but what’s interesting is is that having that happen to us To that to that building and the surrounding area affected a.com so, so, so much that they had to close their doors, you know, you would think that those businesses like, you know, it didn’t shut down Deutsche Bank, it didn’t shut down, you know, those other businesses. So, you know, we don’t have to necessarily get into that. I just thought that that was very interesting that that event would have caused that calm to go under.

Unknown Speaker 9:25
Indeed, and I think it’s just things change. All right. I mean, things change things, change in global economies, things change in markets, things change in your home, things change in life. And I think, you know, I couldn’t have been on a higher high in my career at that point in time, right. And to go from just in terms of income, autonomy, excitement for the product for the future to unemployed, you know, in in San Francisco and really not sure what’s next because nobody was hiring that. I mean, I mean, it was, there are a lot of parallels to what’s happening happening today with COVID. I mean, I wouldn’t eat I don’t think you can’t go apparent, but in terms of just the amount of change that’s happening, I mean, I’d say that this is 100 times, September 11, in terms of change that’s coming down the pipeline as a result of it, but the world changed that day. And you know, as well as I do, and I’m sure people who are old enough to remember that here can relate to that. But it’s important the lesson and the takeaway from that is that things do change, right. And that can be great for in terms of creating new opportunity for new startups, you know, one thing leads to another and the rest of the story really is that’s kind of, you know, going through that September 11 experience and being unemployed, and really kind of propelled me into the work that I’m doing today and got me into, you know, the hosting industry, which was really, you know, in its early, early days, back then, if you, you know, even trying to explain something like a domain name to somebody back in 2000. You know, I would get it a lot like, Well, what do I need a domain name for? What do I need a web page for the Yellow Pages. You know, I can get a newspaper ad like I don’t need your you know, your Um, your witchcraft website stuff? Yes. Can you remember those times? I mean, it was real. I mean, that was silly today, but it was real back then.

Unknown Speaker 11:09
Oh, yeah, I can remember I’ve owned a couple of, you know, dot coms and have tried it, you know, the entrepreneurial thing was trying to launch things and having to try to explain to family members and friends. It’s like, well, you have your website, why do you need a domain name? Well, that’s the URL, the address that you put in? And then what is this hosting? Well, you

Unknown Speaker 11:33
already have a

Unknown Speaker 11:34
domain name you talked about, why are you Why do you need to spend more money on hosting because that’s where the files reside on. You know, it’s just like, oh, mg, trying to explain it. Getting back to your your, your point on for for the younger folks out there. Talking about the history, you kind of brought back a memory of mine like to share for a moment and came up in the military working in computers and helped open the very first technology calling center help desk or fifth corps military based in Frankfurt and so forth. And so I was working first on 286 is, and we were so excited when 386 has come out. Okay, folks out there, look it up.

Unknown Speaker 12:21
You don’t know what I’m

Unknown Speaker 12:21
talking about. I’m gonna have to look it up. I think 3d suck it up.

Unknown Speaker 12:24
Yeah. Well, and before that was a 286. It was a processor speed. Oh. And so you know, we’re talking back When, when, you know, there wasn’t even Microsoft right now. And so that was really funny. So I was used to using dos based commands to get things done and your your word processor was totally text based. There was no there was no mouse, there was no visual interface. It was all text on the screen. And I when I my ex and I came back from Germany, I started working for this company, I helped build their, their database in their marketing group. And I remember this one day, he and I went to some friend’s house. And Jeff and Jeff. And Jeff, they they say, Jeff, the hottie. He was also into computers. And he’s like, hey, Dennis, you know, because you knew I was into technology as well. He goes, Hey, Dennis, come up here want to show you something on my computer? And I’m like, sure. He goes, like this. It’s called Windows. I was like, Oh, my God. That’s that. That’s magical. I mean, it was, yeah, it was like Windows 3.1 or something. And so from that point on, it was like, Yeah, I mean, I remember the very day that I first got introduced to Windows And that was like back in 1991 or 92. So, yeah, we’ve come we’ve come a long way, haven’t we?

Unknown Speaker 14:10
Yeah. And I think that’s really important. Those are really important lessons. I think everyone’s you know, future focused, which is great. But at the end of the day, the technology’s changed. But humans haven’t. I mean, I’m not a I’m not a biologist or an anatomist. But our brains have not changed the way the computer chip has changed, right. Our processing power has not kept up with Moore’s Law, like what you just talked about. There’s no brain to 86 386 46 I mean, our our ability to intake information, process information and input information as humans really hasn’t changed that much, but the technology around us has. So that context that you’re talking about, that’s why history does matter, in my opinion, Dennis and that’s why, like if I could, that’s why I’m so passionate and so grateful to be able to be here because that’s the advice I want to share is that it doesn’t matter. You need to look back in order to be able to look forward well. You do need to look back like when the TV was introduced if you’re if you are looking to be an entrepreneur and you are looking to bring valuable products to market because at the end of the day, humans have not changed in the past 500 years technology sure as hell has. But we have not our brains to process the same way. So going back and understanding how societies took to the radio how societies took to TV how societies took to Sony Walkmans, how societies took the cell phones, to web to mobile, it really matters and it can really help you provide context and help you you know, formulate your plan and your products if you are looking to get into starting up a company. So looking back matters, and I think us old guys have a lot to offer in that regard. Because I think when I talk to people who don’t pay attention and don’t go look back,

Unknown Speaker 15:52
they’re missing an opportunity, I think, I believe,

Unknown Speaker 15:55
yeah, I totally can see that point. You know, having a little bit of an understanding of the sociology and psychology and you know that’s a, the more you understand and or yourself or the more you you read you listen to podcasts about it or you have someone on your team or within your realm of being a mentor or friend who has that kind of perspective is important because you’re right there has to be that point of understanding how it fits within the scope and the realm of products and services and also the the the adaptability but the adoption of products and services you know, how does this mesh with where we are today, and you know, unless you’re a real unless you have the money, you know, for you know, for example, Apple when they first came out with Their eye, their their iPod, you know, music in this tiny, tiny box was like the size of my, you know hand, right? Tiny, but you could store digital music. But no one knew you wanted to do that. Now, the good thing is, is that app, Apple had the bank account and the wallet to to

Unknown Speaker 17:25
create the demand.

Unknown Speaker 17:28
You know, if you’re if you’re a bootstrap startup, if you’re creating something that’s never been out there before, you have to see where the gaps are, and fill a gap. And then do really great, you know, bootstrap marketing and so forth to get there. But if you follow just on the cusp of the trends, and then create what’s called a minimum value product, to test that introduction of that product and then improve it over time, as as it gets adopted, and you start getting those Early, early customers, so let’s kind of transition into, you know, city screen. Tell us a little bit about that. And, you know, kind of the, the the why, what, what started that for you? I’m always interested in understanding the why because it’s the driver that keeps you focused and working on something even though that you might have naysayers.

Unknown Speaker 18:26
Sure, I think,

Unknown Speaker 18:29
you know, just in terms of the why, I know. Well, I learned you learn a lot right as you go. And part of that learning process to is learning what I what I like to do, what what I’m good at what other people thought I was good at, but also what kind of got me up in the morning and got me, you know, really jazzed about what I was going to work on that day, that week, that quarter. And over time in the in the hosting industry, I, you know, just was fortunate enough to have some great mentors, kind of helped me develop my leadership skills and as a result of that, you know, took on more responsibility. Growing teams globally working on different continents and working as an X pack just tons and tons of learning kind of lead up to helping me understand what really what mattered to me the most in terms of my career and what I wanted to do. And I really, I found, you know, as I was taking assignments working for in the hosting space, was that I got just naturally kind of thrown into the worst kind of problem situations that they had, right. And that’s where people just kind of put me and but it really gravitated to that I kind of gravitated to where the action was. I was not a maintainer, I learned that about myself, I was not about, you know, like a lot of managers these days are just about doing more faster, better, more faster, better, more, faster, better. And that’s great. But there’s, you know, diminishing returns on that at some point before you start burning people out and you start burning systems out and you start just burning out. I know. And the reason I’m an entrepreneur now and the reason I’m an I’m a serial CEO of startups, Yo now is because I like that that ramp. And that’s kind of you know, I totally agree

Unknown Speaker 20:06
I get it like

Unknown Speaker 20:09
To me it’s revealed to me that that build phase taking nothing taking absolutely nothing but an idea and creating a brand. They’re creating a brand creating brand recognition and seeing that take root, you know, take hold and take root and start to grow. And and knowing that all of your efforts are you’re seeing your efforts come to fruition I so rewarding. It’s like that is it and yeah, so sorry. I didn’t mean I don’t mean to cut you out. They’re just like, That, to me is like the most exciting thing when things get to be so routine. That’s why I’m a horrible employee.

Unknown Speaker 20:57
Bo

Unknown Speaker 20:57
duly noted the guys

Unknown Speaker 21:00
If it’s routine, I’m a fab. I’m a fantastic consultant. Like you parachuting in to problem situations in my past career I was really well known for that. So you can take the worst account with the worst personalities the worst situation where projects were way over budget under delivering and hostile clients I would parachute and within three months have it turned around and have them sign a new contract because they love the work but put me in the put me in the same situation where even working in a large corporation where I have to go to work every day. And and it’s doing the same thing processing the same kind of answering the same kind of questions routine, routine routine. Oh my gosh, you might as well slit my wrists and put me in the ground.

Unknown Speaker 21:54
But you know what, though, Dennis, you know, what’s important is that those people like I wouldn’t have the same level of success that I have to Without those maintainers right without though that is so critical in a business, right? It is those people who have that because you take some people and you put them into the startup scene, and they just go bananas, right? Like it’s late, they got it. It’s too crazy. So if there is people if there are people watching that are those maintainers and really good strong leaders that kind of take the torch and take it into the next five years. Those are the people that make us the money really, because they, you know, they rally the troops and keep people focused on the prize and the end game and moving towards that constantly improving. that’s invaluable to me. So those people are wicked valuable. It’s just not me. Or do apparently,

Unknown Speaker 22:39
yeah, well, well, and I don’t mind like like I could see out

Unknown Speaker 22:43
Euro in in you know, I have a growth plan as revenue comes on. But it’s it’s the to put it like my ex of 17 years. He was he’s he’s a software developer and hit you know, his idea of security is, is being employed by someone going in and sitting in a cubicle, where he has, you know, Suzy on one side and Joe on the other and he sees them every day. And you know, he’s working on a project that management has given him. And and that’s okay. I’m not that’s not I’m not trying to be negative. I’m just saying that that which is actually one of the huge contentions in our personal relationship because we’re, he is that kind of a person that had to have routine routine, routine, routine routine. And I’m the kind of person who thrives on change, and a risk taker. And so

Unknown Speaker 23:44
yeah, I’m not I’m not a good employee.

Unknown Speaker 23:48
It does take a village. I know that’s a no, it’s a political. I don’t mean to politicize anything here, but it does take a village really to grow an empire. It does. It does. And so, and a lot of one of the problems I find with a lot of startup communities is that they alienates you know, it’s all about that startup that idea. Ideas are worthless dentists, they’re worthless until they’re acted upon and to get them to a point where you’ve got traction in the marketplace. It takes a village, it takes a unique team. And part of being, you know, a great entrepreneur is assembling that team. So I believe startup community should be there should be just as many operations managers, career operations, managers, directors, you know, customer service people, I want those people on my startup teams, I look for them, because you can have 1000 idea people around you you’re not getting shit done. And I’m sorry, you can beat that out. Now. 1150 I need to take a two second break. Can we can we put a time marker here? I’m so sorry. But I’ve got a power issue and I need to. Yeah, no worries. And timeout. Yep, sure.

Unknown Speaker 24:47
I can just cut this out.

Unknown Speaker 25:01
So, that brings us I guess to you know, the project that I’m working on now. So as a kind of a serial startup CEO and that’s kind of how I positioned myself in the market. I selected this particular project to work on for a bunch of different reasons. But what basically we’re working on now it’s kind of mashing up if you look at you know, mobile phones today, you look at tablets, even desktop computers, laptops, there’s those screens have so much interactivity to them, you’re you’re either it’s either got touchscreen capabilities, or you know, we’re texting sending files, but our our biggest screens are TV screens that are in our living rooms, and waiting rooms and all over the everywhere we look really, they’re pretty much still a one way street in terms of transmission informations flowing from a central server, you know, out and the flow is going one way and what city screen does is create a kind of an abstract layer on top of the TV that makes your TV work a whole lot more like your phone or your tablet. And really kind of changes your living room experience. So by incorporating gaming functionality, transmitting information, really kind of socializing the entertainment space, more so call it like a second screen experience. So as you’re watching your favorite reality TV show, you can now watch it with your friends and family. And also creates a tremendous amount of advertising, really contextual advertising opportunities for brands and advertisers that want to connect, and really provide the audiences with really cool new experiences that were never possible before on TV. So it’s a really exciting space. It’s new, kind of, to your point a little bit earlier, Dennis, it’s it’s much easier when you have a budget to create the demand. I think that’s the term that you used a few minutes ago and that was very well put, I think that’s where you know, we struggle the most right now is creating the demand and the way you do that is by showing people what it’s capable of. So it’s um, it’s a really exciting space to be in right now. And, you know, hopeful that that the next three or four years are going to create a tremendous amount of opportunity. Um, if I may just one point I want to put remember we talked about a few minutes ago around change in September 11. And I think, you know, what we’ve gone through together collectively as residents of planet Earth, you know, COVID-19. And that’s their thing. That’s just another example of massive change. And one of the interesting things for us is, as we were creating, you know, interactive second screen applications for smart TVs or smart TV app, but COVID-19 has really changed. And we realized, you know, as we were down and you know, this year, we’re supposed to be about getting the MVP to market and really starting to connect with our audiences and our advertisers. I mean, that was all halted in March. It kind of took us back to the drawing board and really what we understood is that we’ve got a product here that allows us to interact with TV and in public areas and retail locations in doctors offices. In schools allow you to interact with much, much, much bigger screens at scale and interact with large audiences with big screens without any kind of touching, right? You don’t have to touch the screen. You use your mobile phone and interact with the screen, you can gain you can take coupons with you, you can download files from that big screen onto your phone. And so my point is that sometimes when it looks really awful, and another there’s a lot of Believe me, it’s hurt us. It’s we’ve had to go back to our board and our investors and explain, you know, what we’re doing with this time, it’s their money. Right? And but really kind of interesting, because now we can come back to the marketplace when the time’s right, which is sooner than later, I believe and show that we’re capable of a whole lot more than we even thought we were capable of as a result of, you know, COVID-19 and having some time to reevaluate.

Unknown Speaker 28:52
Oh, very, very interesting. I don’t know if it’s on your radar, but it just popped in my head, as which is how the Conversations go.

Unknown Speaker 29:02
But the not only, you know, the the

Unknown Speaker 29:06
one is, you know, like being in a doctor’s office and being able to, you know, have on the screen, you know, information, maybe the doctor, there was a doctor in Columbus, Ohio that is while sitting in the waiting room. He always had health information on, like YouTube channels of health information, and then he would come on and talk about it. But you know, like, in today’s time, too, you know, you probably don’t want to be sitting in the doctor’s waiting room if you’re even allowed anymore. You may have to be sitting in your car waiting. But you know, those magazines don’t touch them. Because you don’t know who’s who’s been there before and what what illness they had and it was, you know, now now in retrospect was kind of gross and creepy to begin with.

Unknown Speaker 29:59
It does seem like there’s that Funny, I was just thinking that the other day too is like something like, it just seems gross to touch that.

Unknown Speaker 30:05
Yeah. So

Unknown Speaker 30:05
another thing to just again off the top of my head is I recall reading a news article, probably now close to eight or nine months ago,

Unknown Speaker 30:18
where you know, like,

Unknown Speaker 30:19
sorry, McDonald’s but, um, you know, there’s those touchscreens that they have in a lot of McDonald’s where you can order your food, they, they did samplings of those, and the vast majority of all of them had, you know, fecal matter on it. So, you know, poop particles from people going to the restroom, and or not even there, but previously to that, and then, you know, using their fingers on those screens, and so that’s a touch point. Now, that could that we have recognized could also transmit COVID you know, in addition to that, other particles And so that would be interesting to, you know, as you’re looking at your technology in what you’re doing is, you know, possibly how to create an interactive menu for restaurants of all sizes. To take advantage of this and be able to, you know, to order while they’re standing, you know, in line or you know, beforehand.

Unknown Speaker 31:29
Yeah, just for the more technical people and even if you’re not if you want to research it, first of all, we’re city screen TV comm not to plug shamelessly sorry, Dennis, but no more your logos

Unknown Speaker 31:38
right there.

Unknown Speaker 31:40
More importantly, would be if you’re interested in the technology that drives it, we do work on open source we’ve assembled the open source technology in a way that creates a valuable brings tons of valuable value to the market. But if you want to research we’re running on socket.io. That’s kind of the open source technology that we’re using to power our Smart TV or Smart TV to mobile applications. So it’s socket IO technology and it allows you to create these touchless experiences. And you’re right, Dennis. I mean, yeah, I mean, I, those seems so modern last year walking into a Burger King or McDonald’s and seeing those screens and then, you know, just directed the order to that, but I wouldn’t touch that thing with a with your finger today, you know, like, no, and so yeah, I think the future is very, very bright. And it it that was not on our radar.

Unknown Speaker 32:30
Last year at this time.

Unknown Speaker 32:33
Yeah,

Unknown Speaker 32:34
this is opening up possibly, indeed new opportunities and creating, obviously then not only the opportunity for you to think about the the new fields, new new ways in which it could be used.

Unknown Speaker 32:51
But then creating the demand,

Unknown Speaker 32:53
right, indeed,

Unknown Speaker 32:54
you know, very, very, very interesting. It’s gonna be an interesting ride.

Unknown Speaker 33:01
So if you could, you know, as an as a serial entrepreneur, what has been some of the kind of the biggest challenges whether in this particular company city screen TV comm, or, or others that you’ve had, you know, so, you know, so maybe someone is, is out there and looking at this time and saying, you know, maybe they’re out of a job, or they realize the volatility of their employment. And maybe they’re saying, you know, maybe that idea I have is time to go for it. What are some perhaps, tips or things that you would you would say, you know, pay close attention to or be conscious of, or, you know, what kind of advice would you have for a budding entrepreneur?

Unknown Speaker 33:58
Well, first of all around ideas because that’s where it starts right?

Unknown Speaker 34:03
I said it earlier I said ideas are useless. And I said that a little bit flippantly. But at the end of the day, it’s it’s it’s very easy to get, there’s all these startup forums that are are flourishing, right. And they’re going to absolutely grow exponentially as a result of what we’ve been through with lockdown and stuff like that people coming up with ideas, getting into these communities trying to sell them. But the bottom line is that those ideas need to have plans formulated around them, teams formulated around them, and plans and put in place and then executed against in order for them to kind of get any value. There are people that will disagree with me on that. But my experience shows because I’ve failed colossally trying to pitch ideas in the heyday of kind of pitching right and, and did the circuit globally, which costs me and my organization’s dearly so learn from my mistakes, if you will. Don’t pitch ideas you need to pitch product so really understand the problem that your product is solving. I we’d encourage you, if you next time you’re talking to an entrepreneur or start, just ask them that simple question, what problem is out bureau solving? What problem is city screen solving? What problem is company x solving with that product? And you’d be surprised how many people get tripped up on that simple answer. So really understand that and then understand what the what the value of that solution is to that population of people or what, whether you’re making plant food or whatever it is, what what is the, what’s the market for that? How many people are affected by that problem. And if you can, if you can connect those two dots, then you can start to get really smart people paying attention to you. But so many people missed that point. They’re so hung up on the idea and get so emotionally attached to the idea. And then and then they can’t figure out why someone’s not willing to write a $3 million check or a $300,000 check for them and it just doesn’t work that way. People make it look very easy. You know, and I think that’s part of probably a marketing it’s not it’s not it. I’m not trying to make it sound harder than it has to be, but you really have to do the work.

Unknown Speaker 36:05
Oh, absolutely, absolutely is. You know, you always hear about the success stories, you know, in ink magazine and forbes.com. And it sounds like these companies just sprung up overnight and are an overnight success and they’re not. There’s possibly years and years behind them. And even even because an entrepreneurs journey is typically not one hit unicorn wonders, right? You typically like yourself. I’ve had a couple of companies myself in the past and different focusing on different areas. And but each was a learning opportunity. And you know, what I took away from serving fortune 100 fortune 1000 level or fortune 500 level companies and technology and business processing. I put into practice Here what I learned running in a state sale business actually where I had to attract both the home owner estate owner and a following of people in a city that would literally follow me every other week around the city, you know is like wow that’s like getting a following online. And because these folks would come out, snow, rain or sleet because they knew I always took the best best clients best homes. And they loved my all I tried to always have mid century modern, which is my thing, but any rate is a unique to see exactly a problem. And there’s there’s a lot of ways to kind of analyze that. And I encourage folks to check out several articles on out bureau comm Again, that’s OUT bu r o.com. There, there’s tips for You know, if you’d like to be an entrepreneur thinking about, you know, ideas, there’s an article on doing what’s called SWOT, that is your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, evaluating market space. It gives you great advice on doing that. And even give the example of you need to really look at all of your potential competitors and your competitors, you know, are are things you may not even realize. So, so we talked about that, for example, you’re also competing with as a gym, for example. So let’s say you want to start a gym. So part of your competitors is YouTube,

Unknown Speaker 38:48
and Facebook, because

Unknown Speaker 38:51
if someone is sitting on their couch just twiddling away on on Facebook, then they’re not in your gym. Now, you know, you might Like that, because they’re still paying their monthly fees, but but you know, so it talks about looking at your, your competitive space and really thinking about more than just your, your direct competitors, but your indirect competitors as well and even people who might think of you as a competitor, even though you don’t think of them and what that helps with all of that there’s also articles on creating a business plan.

Unknown Speaker 39:29
Looking at your marketing and so forth.

Unknown Speaker 39:33
And what I have found and I will admit, I am a

Unknown Speaker 39:39
as I’ve described it before, I’m a

Unknown Speaker 39:44
ready,

Unknown Speaker 39:45
shoot, aim. Kind of a guy.

Unknown Speaker 39:49
I had to think about that person. Ready, shoot, aim. Got it.

Unknown Speaker 39:55
Well, I’m there you know, one of the one of the things too, is You need to do your homework, you need to do your analysis. But sometimes people will get so in the weeds on analyzing that they then don’t take action. And so one of my statements that I have, which I’ve said in my interview with Larry, his magic and miracles happen when you have faith Believe in yourself, and you take action. That’s awesome because if you do not take action, nothing will happen. It’s just like, you know, I’m learning YouTube I learned something every single day. And so right now I’m taking the creating my my content stack through doing interviews like this. So there’s a video, which becomes podcast I’m out Bureau is now on 13 different apps, plus, I transcribe that into using AI into text well I could watch all the videos on how to optimize your YouTube channel, the YouTube channel, I could sit there and I could spend four hours a day watching you other YouTube videos on how to create an optimized YouTube videos, right? But if I don’t actually put it into practice and actually start doing it, nothing will happen. Right? And so, and I’m also being an entrepreneur right now of one being a company of one, self funded bootstrap and so forth. You know, I myself can get into oh my gosh, I have the LinkedIn group, I have the website, I’m trying to free content, I’m trying to do videos and so forth. But at the end of the day, every single day, I do something that moves out the road forward, something, whatever that is. And I think that’s a real lesson. It’s like if you do have your idea, you can be an idea guy. You can be an idea person, let’s say sorry, non gender binaries and females out there. You can you can be the idea person, and that’s fantastic. But unless you have unless you’re committed to that idea, and you begin researching the idea to your point to see is this viable is what problem does this solve? Why is this important to you? Why would this be important to someone else? Right? Because I could, I could have the the, I could have the next idea for a fantastic you know, coffee mug, but unless I unless I start putting it into practice unless I start actually working on it. All it is, is a bunch of ideas. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker 0:00
Like that, because they’re still paying their monthly fees, but but you know, so it talks about looking at your, your competitive space and really thinking about more than just your, your direct competitors, but your indirect competitors as well and even people who might think of you as a competitor, even though you don’t think of them and what that helps with all of that there’s also articles on creating a business plan.

Unknown Speaker 0:29
Looking at your marketing and so forth.

Unknown Speaker 0:33
And what I have found and I will admit, I am a

Unknown Speaker 0:39
as I’ve described before, I’m a

Unknown Speaker 0:44
ready shoot, aim. Kind of a guy. I had

Unknown Speaker 0:49
to think about that person. Ready, shoot,

Unknown Speaker 0:51
aim. Got it.

Unknown Speaker 0:55
Well, I’m there you know, one of the one of the things too, is You need to do your homework, you need to do your analysis. But sometimes people will get so in the weeds on analyzing that they then don’t take action. And so one of my statements that I have, which I’ve said in my interview with Larry, his magic and miracles happen when you have faith Believe in yourself, and you take action. That’s awesome because if you do not take action, nothing will happen. It’s just like, you know, I’m learning YouTube I learned something every single day. And so right now I’m taking the creating my my content stack through doing interviews like this. So there’s video, which becomes podcast I’m out Bureau is now on 13 different apps, plus, I transcribe that into using AI into text well could watch all the videos on how to optimize your YouTube channel, the YouTube channel, I could sit there and I could spend four hours a day watching you other YouTube videos on how to create an optimized YouTube videos, right? But if I don’t actually put it into practice and actually start doing it, nothing will happen. Right? And so and I’m also being an entrepreneur right now of one being a company of one, self funded bootstrap and so forth. Um, you know, I myself can get into, oh my gosh, I have the LinkedIn group, I have the website, I’m doing free content, I’m trying to do videos and so forth. But at the end of the day, every single day, I do something that moves out the road forward, something, whatever that is. And I think that’s a real lesson. It’s like if you do have your idea, you can be an idea guy. You can be an idea person, let’s say sorry, non gender binaries and females out there. You can you can be the idea person, and that’s fantastic. But unless you have unless you’re committed to that idea, and you begin researching the idea to your point to see is this viable is what problem does this solve? Why is this important to you? Why would this be important to someone else? Right? Because I could, I could have the the, I could have the next idea for a fantastic you know, coffee mug. But unless I unless I start putting it into practice unless I start actually working on it. All it is, is a bunch of ideas. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker 3:46
And platforms like this, like what you’re working on, create opportunity for us to take action, right. So like you’re creating a path for us to take some action and get the word out there about products and services that we’re working on. So that’s why that’s the value that you’re putting into the marketplace, right? Which is wicked valuable. And also, I would just also say is that don’t underestimate the, the value of this asset or these assets that you’re accumulating and sharing with other people. Right? Think of it you know, I somehow I doubt this will ever be the number one video on YouTube that you know, that crushes the server. However, the long tail kind of effects of something like this, even if it helps like four people, right, it was worth the hour we spent together in my opinion, and that would do it 100 times over again.

Unknown Speaker 4:29
Absolutely. For me, it’s it’s valuable to have visibility of entrepreneurs, professionals and leaders who happen to be LGBTQ so that other LGBTQ persons out there can see and hear from them and know that they can do it to

Unknown Speaker 4:53
100%

Unknown Speaker 4:54
and so on out bureau comm there is a group so if you create your profile file you can actually join groups similar to joining groups on Facebook or LinkedIn. There is an out startup group that’s ran by fantastic lesbian entrepreneur. Everyone is also able to create a group for themselves, their, their industry, their geographic focus and so forth. groups on out bureau can be public, meaning that they are open and searchable indexable by search engines, they can be private where you have to be a group member in order to see the content and they can also be secret so for example, you know if you if you want to work with your clients and communicate with your clients or create just a group, where you know, you and your people involved in your business and city screen would like to have a collaboration space but wanting to not use Other systems, that’s a that’s a capability, I would always like to also remind people that you are able to indicate whether you are open to being a mentor of other individuals on the site on your professional profile and indicate the idea of the areas in which you are open to being a mentor. And then you can also indicate whether you would like to be a mentee, you would like a mentor, and the areas and then using the search filters. Under the members search, you’re able to locate each other. But you’re also able to see when you’re searching for other people, whether that’s industry location, and so forth, you’re able to connect and friend each other just like similar to Facebook and LinkedIn. And once you do that you’re able to direct message. So it’s a platform in where you can create meaningful relationships. seek out opportunities and for example, you’ll be able to connect with Christopher on the site and learn More about the business and directly message him to find out how you might be able to use city screen solutions in your business. So so being an entrepreneur is also lots of work right? We spend lots of lots of hours during the day and sleepless nights. So what are some of the ways Christopher that that you kind of de stress, reconnect and so forth? What are perhaps maybe some of your hobbies or things that you like to do? I just I

Unknown Speaker 7:35
for the past year, I’ve been kind of by Coastal I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Los Angeles and my domiciled home based in South Florida and Broward County. But I’m in upstate New York right now in a farm kind of environment. I took a gardening this year Oh my God, I feel like so like as soon as I’m done work, which is never I’m like taking time out to go like water my plants and stuff like that. Dennis, I love it. I can’t tell you how much my partner is actually like like looking out in the eye. First of all, we’re not used to having this much space and this much green around us and my partner, you know, look out and be like, Oh my God, he’s out there watering the plants again, What’s his problem? I love it. So yeah, I think having hobbies and other things that kind of distract you, you know, as long as they’re controlled, right? And when you come back, you come back kind of refreshed with the open mind and able to you know, address the same problem from a different perspective. I think just honestly, my advice around this would be take such good care of yourself. No one else is going to do it for you. You know, the food you put in your body the rest you get. I know there’s all this talk about staying up all night, but that’s not me. I mean, I I am a seven hour sleep guy, and I get it. I get it. And if you have to wait for my deliverable, I’ll let you know responsibly but I get that sleep I get that exercise. I take really good care of my body. And especially you know, as I’m getting older,

Unknown Speaker 8:53
you know that that matters more and more.

Unknown Speaker 8:55
Yeah, absolutely. Well, definitely. So far, you know, the the outdoor garden is a big theme. So you know that it’s a connection of nature. It’s it’s something I can do. I enjoy it. I’ve always enjoyed it. You’re in my past. With my exes I would we have purchased homes. I always purposely purchased kind of the ugliest house in the best neighborhoods with the worst yards. And as my realtors would always be like, what you know, why are you doing this? It’s like, yeah, it’s because well, I probably won’t like if some if I bought a house with already the garden. The likelihood of me liking it all is slim. And so why, Yeah, why? Why would I be paying top dollar for something I don’t like or why would I be paying top dollar for a kitchen remodel? That isn’t my style, right? I’d rather buy a house. That, that practically just has good bones and needs everything done that so that’s one of my hobbies when I can when I’ve done it in the past, and I personally like to hike and walk a lot. So I average about three to four miles a day. Now that’s good stuff. Yeah, it’s great, great to connect. And you know, I can’t stress for folks, how, how often I actually solve problems while I’m on my Xbox. So sometimes I listen to meditative music. Sometimes I’m listening to you know, my beats my dance music, my EDM. Sometimes I’m listening to podcasts, about entrepreneurial ism, and so forth. And, but even if I’m listening to music, I’m often still thinking about my problem is I, as I have had to tell people, it might look like I’m not doing anything but I’m out. Working. Even if I’m just sitting in the city, I’ve had to tell, you know, neighbors, do you see me just sitting in the backyard, you can say hello. But unless I initiate a conversation, I’m probably working, even though it might not look like it.

Unknown Speaker 11:19
I can relate to that. I think that that whole, you know, work to your knuckles bleed Silicon Valley startups, I think it’s gonna die hard death over time and people are going to realize that you are, you know, your your can be a very well optimized machine yourself as a human right. If you treat the machine properly and maintain it, treat it properly, exercise it, give it rest and let it reboot. I think we’re going to find that that’s a lot more tied to success and going at burning the candle from both ends for decades.

Unknown Speaker 11:52
Absolutely. What I like to do in as folks will see in the writings that I do, as I define it, I say success as you define it because so often people get hung up in in you know the the trying to catch up with the Joneses trying to have is you know thinking that success is having the you know $4 million house that you see on the canal with the big million dollar boat behind it and so forth. But you know yeah and so it’s a you know, whatever, whatever your happiness is, and you know, you have to find that for yourself. So, so one plug on being on being healthy. If you have not seen the episode or heard the episode we unfortunately didn’t do the video at the time. There is the the episode four. Oh geez. My name My brain is blinking. The holistic eating health coach, Episode Three. Name is escaping me. I’m so sorry. But it’s Jason anywho go out do a link on it.

Unknown Speaker 13:15
Dr. Jason is I watched that. Yeah, I watched that. That was excellent.

Unknown Speaker 13:20
Oh, geez, I’m gonna have to Okay. Now I need to go back so that I have this here. I will do a link on the site. That is no Timothy Timothy sugar. Okay. So he’s a, a holistic health coach for eating healthy. So I’m going to be having additional books here as well as focusing on your life. But do take a listen to that as well. You have the opportunity. So Christopher, thank you so much for giving us a little bit of insight into yourself. Your journey everyone has a very, interesting journey, I think because it’s, you know, it’s a, it’s a thing of taking the choices and the opportunities presented to you and what you do with it. So, in some of your insights on the entrepreneurism journey, it’s so much to talk about there, that’s going to be the mainstay of our conversations moving forward. So, I would love to at any point, when you are ready, if you would love to come back and give us some examples, and maybe a demo of Sydney screen TV in action would love to see that maybe with some case studies of how some potential customers or how potential organizations could use that product as it is evolving. We would love to have you there perhaps we’ll be able to connect you up with some folks who are in the group. So Thank you so much for your time your days. Absolutely. Christopher Thank you so much. And again for everyone viewing and watching this is Dennis Falco without bureau comm that is OutBuro.com. If you would like to see past and future video interviews, please subscribe on YouTube, as well as check out out euro comm podcast page where you’re able to see all of the current 13 and awaiting more places where you are able to listen to this episodes on the go. Perhaps you’re at the gym, in the car, or so forth. Thank you so much for tuning in and we look forward to seeing you in the future. Join us now on out bureau.com where you belong and your voice matters. Bye-bye

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Beneficial or Lame? LGBT Business Page Reappears on SBA Site

The United States has an estimated 1.4 million LGBT owned companies. This number, however, is very hard to determine because still, so many professionals fear publicly being out. The United States Small Business Administration’s (SBA) came under fire shortly after the Trump inauguration (Jan 2017) for removing pages focused on content for LGBT entrepreneur business owner community. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and queer community face obstacles in the form of prejudice and exclusion. This bias has real business implications as limited access to capital to launch or grow their business, lack of mentors in many fields of business as most start-ups need along with other resources generally taken for granted.

LGBT business owners contribute over $1.7 trillion to the U.S. economy. LGBT business owners are innovators, job creators, taxpayers, and providers of essential services in the communities they serve.

Reps. Clarke and Velazquez, both from New York, who serve on the House Committee on Small Business, wrote a letter to SBA Administrator Linda McMahon soon after their disappearance inquiring about the reason for their removal from the SBA site. In August 2017 SBA officials promised the committee members the agency’s site was under construction “with strategies to launch the pages with a focus on LGBT business owners in the not too distant future,” reported Representatives Velazquez and Clarke.

Roma Daravi, the SBA’s acting press secretary, said: “SBA is an inclusive agency, proud to support all small businesses including the LGBT community.”

Terry Sutherland, the SBA’s media office manager, said “As you’d expect with any new government coming into office, government sites go through a review and reconstruction. the national as more policies have been developed the sites will soon be populated with much more info.”SBA - LGBT Business Onwer Page Added May 17 2018 - OutBuro - Employer Reviews Rating Gay Networking Professional Lesbian Entrepreneur Bisexual Transgender Queer Network Community

Beneficial or Lame?

So now a full year and a half after the removal of the SBA LGBT Small Business Page, the site due to Reps. Clarke and Velazquez pressure is back up. It took 17 months to create their page.  When the page appears to have taken a mere 17 minutes to type and post at most. This basic and scant content didn’t require a “strategy” to develop. That is clear.

Of the 77 LGBT Chambers of Commerce & Business Alliances Supporting Entrepreneurs OutBüro is aware of in the United States, the SBA site lists that it has a partnership with 6. That’s roughly 7.5% of the easily found known and in active LGBT Chambers of Commerce organizations in the United States.

Maybe the SBA in hast to put anything out they just slapped this together in 17 minutes. They could have taken another 2 minutes to put a sentence staying this is a growing list and ask the public to submit additional resources. Something. Anything to make this not come across as pathetic.  They simply provide an email for more information – (lgbt@sba.gov).

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Take Charge

We cannot wait or rely on the SBA to provide our community with the resources it needs. You can join the OutBüro community for free and begin leveraging the business and professional oriented content to build your knowledge and spark ideas.

Leverage the growing OutBüro community to network with other professionals and entrepreneurs. Add your company/organization to the Company Rating system as an additional internet business citation (SEO). Invite your employees to rate your business.

Use the OutBüro Job Portal to advertise your jobs to attract quality LGBT candidates.

We also need people just like you to share your professional and entrepreneur knowledge with the community. As a Premium member, you may submit articles as an author that become part of the OutBüro blog. You may promote your business/organization products and service as well as provide industry knowledge setting you apart as an authority.

Let’s Lead

Here at OutBüro w,e are actively compiling resource listings for LGBT entrepreneurs, professionals and students. Yes, it’s intensive work. When reviewing them if you find any information that needs correction or are aware of a resource not listed, please use the Contact Us form found under the Support menu and just drop us a quick message with a link to the company/organization main website or primary social media account.

In the works:

Are you aware of any company/organization that fits those categories or other suggestions? Please use the Contact Us form found under the Support menu and just drop us a quick message. We’d love to consider your ideas and contribution.

Note that we’re striving to provide global information. So anywhere in the world, you are and/or aware of please help build the resource lists by contacting us.

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LGBT Home-based Business Startup Productivity Tips

Some LGBT Entrepreneurs running a home-based business are skilled at juggling social life, dating, family life (life-partner, children, extended family) with work-life all while finding time for fitness. How do they do it? Dedication, structure, and a little self-forgiveness goes a long way.

Understand the challenge

It’s no easy task to juggle all facets of a modern LGBT active life with the time and effort required to run a business.  That’s particularly true if you have had a lot of demands, unexpected life hiccups and believe you have to be perfect in all things and to everyone at all times.  LGBT people are so used to being judged that we tend to overtax ourselves.

If you want your startup home-based business to succeed, it takes communication, planning, hard work, compromises, and the right attitude.

Get the timing right

The demands of work are very different to those of social and family.  Add children to the family makeup and they naturally require a tremendous amount of time and attention. All can be exhausting but in different ways.

Your startup business requires a keen focus on analytical behavior, thinking strategically and logically.  Looking after children also requires some strategy, of course. But it’s usually more free-form behavior, with less emphasis on deadlines and detailed schedules.  Add extended family and perhaps caring for an ill or disabled family member or other such family requirements needing your time and attention and it can be all to easy to get sidetracked tending to the home and the needs of others.  If no family members are in your mix, maybe it’s your life partner or your active dating habits and mingling strategy that turns you from a business laser to non-business fidgety.

Switching between these two modes of thinking can be tiring, stressful, and extremely unproductive.

The key is to be realistic with yourself and others.  Set house rules that include your workspace and privacy while still allowing you to be accessible in emergencies.  Be sure to define what an emergency is as well.

Starting a business typically requires much more effort, energy, and hours to get started and run in the early period than going to a job 30 – 40 hours a week working for someone else.  Do your life and extended relationship circumstances allow you the time right now in your life dedicated to a new home-base startup business?  Be realistic while still stretching yourself to reach your goals.

Are young children in your life?  Many successful entrepreneurs take time off to concentrate on their young children for the first few years. Then they return to the world of work – refreshed and ready to succeed.

If you find yourself under-stimulated and desperate to get back to work, then that might be the right thing for you. And if your kids are happy to be left in the care of others, then this is less likely to cause them stress.

If you’re not sure, start small until you’re confident you can balance the demands of a home-based business with your children’s needs.

2. Deal with distractions

You will be distracted when you work from home. You may be putting the finishing touches on a business proposal when your daughter bursts in with a grazed knee. Or you’ll be updating your accounts when your son opens the door and asks you to help color in a picture.

Knowing that this is likely to happen can help you prepare for it:

  • Block out times in your work schedule when your kids aren’t around. Use this time for detailed work that requires concentration.
  • Have a list of short, easy, admin jobs that can be done while your children are around. This should be work that doesn’t require a lot of thought.
  • Get some shared office space if your budget and time allow it. If nothing else, getting out of the house and going to an office can make you feel more professional and help you focus. And there’s the added bonus of making new contacts.

3. Divide your hours fairly

There will be times when your business needs you, and times when your children do. It can be tempting to think that your business is more important, but that’s rarely true. Emails may be marked “Urgent!!!” but in the long run they aren’t as important as your children’s development.

So be fair. Separate work time and family time, and stick to this rigidly. The actual division will depend on your goals, but here are some suggestions:

  • Work from the morning school drop-off until the afternoon pick-up, then stop.
  • Don’t work on weekends.
  • Maybe work an extra hour once your kids are in bed – but don’t make a habit of it.
  • Remember to take proper lunch breaks.
  • Don’t forget to make time for family holidays.

This may seem like a restriction on your business. But it’s vital to create rules of separation and stick to them. Otherwise, it’s too easy for your business to suck up all your time.

Running your business isn’t the same as building it.

Act like a project manager

You can get a lot done in a short amount of time. It all depends on how well you manage it:

  • Don’t use your email inbox as a way to manage your tasks with clients. That’s not what it was designed for – there are better tools for the job.
  • Use a project management tool such as Basecamp to simplify client management. This can help you reduce the overwhelming flow of information and make it more manageable.
  • Set timers for individual tasks and take a break when the timer ends. For most types of work, it’s hard to maintain solid concentration for more than about 35 minutes at a time. Taking short, regular breaks will help you be more productive.
  • Keep everything client-related in one place, separate from other tasks. This will help you create a clear, uncluttered environment.

5. Develop a consistent schedule for your home-based business

Running your business isn’t the same as building it. Both are important, but once you’ve reached a certain workload it’s easy to ignore business development.

So pick one day a week for working on (not in) your business. In other words, you might spend that day:

  • planning social media marketing
  • writing blogs
  • following up on sales leads
  • networking with potential new customers.

6. Automate wherever possible!

Computers were designed to make working life easier. With the right software, you can automate some of the work of running your business.

  • Standard email responses will let you respond quickly to customers while you think about a more detailed reply. A simple “Thank you for your inquiry, we will get back to you in the next 48 hours” will make potential new customers feel valued.
  • Use cloud-based software to save time and effort. If you make use of software that stores data online securely, you’ll make life easier for yourself. Lower IT costs, automated upgrades, data backups that are done for you – it all helps save you time.
  • Automate admin tasks. There are some things that all businesses need to do, including handling payroll and accounting for taxes. Get the right accounting software and you’ll be able to automate much of this work. That will leave you more free time to concentrate on building your business.

Learn from others

If you want to make the most of your situation, it helps to learn from people who have been there before. Luckily, there are plenty of stay-at-home parents who have written about their experiences.

You can learn from them. Find out what they did right, what they did wrong, and what they recommend for other entrepreneurs.

A simple web search will bring up plenty of examples. Many of them are women since mothers are still more likely to be stay-at-home parents than men.

Always remember that you’re not alone. If you get stuck with any aspect of running your home-based business, it’s easy to reach out for advice. Make the most of all the resources available – then you’re much more likely to succeed.

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Market Research for LGBT Business Startups

Ever thought that market research is just for big businesses? Well, small businesses can benefit from it too. We spoke to Keen as Mustard Marketing to find out how you can learn more about your target markets.

How market research can help small businesses

Knowledge is power. And whether you’re selling coffee, computers or conferences, it pays to know and understand your target market.

Big businesses do this using market research that’s usually quite costly. They have teams dedicated to interviewing customers, carrying out surveys, arranging focus groups and analyzing buying patterns.

While much of that work does require a big budget, it’s still possible for small businesses to carry out lean and effective market research – and there are good reasons for doing so.

When should you use market research?

There are certain times in a company’s life-cycle when market research can be particularly useful. For example:

  • To see whether a new business idea is viable
    You have an idea for a new business. Is there a market for it? Don’t just guess – use market research to find out.
  • When moving into new markets
    This is especially true when selling abroad. Different countries and cultures have different markets. What works in one might not work in another. The research will help you uncover the differences and adapt to them.
  • Before launching a new product or service
    You might think you have the perfect new product or service – your customers may think otherwise. It pays to get feedback before you launch, so you can make any necessary changes quickly.
  • When applying for funding
    Show potential investors that there’s a gap in the market – and that your company is the one to fill it.

Stay focused

If you’re planning to carry out market research, keep it tightly controlled. Concentrate on the key questions that matter to your business, then work out what information you need in order to answer those questions.

With that knowledge, you can decide how best to obtain the answers – with a focus group, online research, or survey.

Don’t be tempted to ask all sorts of additional questions. Stay on topic and you’ll get useful answers that will help you shape your business strategy.

Effective market research for small business – five top tips

If you want to make the best use of market research, here are five key points to bear in mind:

  1. Start researching early
    Whether you’re selling locally, nationally, or globally, it pays to know the potential size of your slice of the pie. Do your research before you start trying to sell in a new market.
  2. Don’t waste money
    Small businesses can’t afford to splash out on expensive research – and luckily they don’t have to. Small focus groups and surveys of your existing customers can be effective and inexpensive.
  3. Use existing research
    Someone may have done the hard work for you already. Check out online reports, field reviews, and magazine articles.
  4. Find out what your customers are saying
    The internet makes it easy to find out what your potential customers think. Read consumers’ blogs, watch their YouTube videos and vlogs (video blogs), and check out discussion forums and social media.
  5. Use the cloud and big data
    Companies such as Google spend vast amounts of money collecting research. Take a look at Google Trends and Google consumer surveys. Google Trends will let you see what people are searching for. For example, if there’s a large volume of people searching for glow-in-the-dark cat collars and no one is selling them, then there may be a gap in the market. Google’s findings are often free so make use of them.

Know the limits of market research

Market research will give you some information about your target market, but it can’t predict the future of your business with perfect accuracy. That’s because:

  • a small sample of your potential customers might not be representative of the whole market.
  • people don’t always say what they truly believe in surveys.
  • the research might not take new trends into account.
  • the way your business acts in the market will change the outcome.

That doesn’t mean market research for small businesses isn’t useful – far from it. But you should take the findings with a grain of salt and consider other factors too.

In particular, trust your gut instincts, because they are often based on the experience you’ve gained working in the field.

Market research is a useful tool

Doing some low-cost market research can really help you learn more about the market demand for your products or services. And while it’s not always a sure-fire way to predict whether your business will succeed, it’s a great way to get new insights and opportunities.

When you have a combined strategy that includes your own intuition and customer feedback, market research can help your business perform better and enter new markets successfully.

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How to Raise Money for Your LGBT Owned Business: Part I

Starting a new business can be expensive, so it makes sense to seriously consider investment options right from the beginning. However, first you’ll need to be well prepared for the obligation that comes with getting funding, the questions to ask, and the small print to consider. So how can you prepare for this?

Challenges faced by small businesses starting out

Some businesses can be launched without much capital. For example, if you’re planning to provide remote services while working as a sole proprietor, you may need nothing more than a laptop and an internet connection.

But other types of businesses need money to get started. If you intend to launch a business that needs significant capital expenditure (such as a retail or manufacturing business or a company that employs several other people), you won’t get far without initial funding.

Seven questions to be ready to answer

Whoever lends you money will want to know you’re serious about investing it to grow your business. They will also want to know that you’ll be able to pay back the loan principal and the interest.

Make sure you have the answers to these important questions at your fingertips when talking to a potential investor:

  1. How much money do you want to raise?
  2. Will you be able to provide any collateral? What are your assets?
  3. Are you looking for debt, equity or other financing?
  4. How is your business credit rating? You can check this yourself in many countries.
  5. How is your personal credit rating? This too ­– and yes, the banks will check.
  6. How long have you been in business?
  7. What is your revenue?

Use professional accounting software to prepare charts and forecasts of your costs and revenue. This will help convince lenders that you have a solid business plan in place.

Always read the fine print

The terms and conditions of most loan agreements include the option for the lender to call in the loan at any time. That means the lender can ask for all their money back, with little or no notice, and regardless of whether you’ve been paying on time up to that point.

This doesn’t happen often, but when it does it can be devastating. Unfortunately it happens most often during recessions, when banks and other lenders become more nervous about the likelihood their loans won’t be repaid.

This is just one reason why you should read the fine print of any loan agreement carefully. Get legal advice if necessary, and work with your accountant or financial planner to determine how much you can safely borrow. Make sure you understand all the terms of the loan before you sign.

Understand the cost of investment

When raising money for your business, you’re unlikely to get something for nothing. Your investors will want something from you in return for risking their funds:

  • For bank or credit card loans
    The cost to you is the interest rate and the risk of losing any collateral you’ve put up.
  • For angel investors and venture capitalists
    The cost is usually a percentage of ownership or control of your company.
  • For crowdsourced funds
    It’s whatever you’ve pledged to deliver in exchange for the money raised.
  • For friends and family
    It could be any of the above plus the risk of ruining a good relationship if things go wrong.

In other words, getting funding creates an obligation. It means you have a responsibility to make the most of the money you’ve been given.

That might seem like a challenge, but on the plus side it can help you to focus on your business and concentrate on making it a success.

Once you have the money, make it work for you. Use good quality accounting software to keep track of the amount you’ve borrowed, what you use it for and how much you pay back over time. Read Part II of this guide for eight ways you can raise funds for your small business.

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LGBT Entrepreneurs Leverage Key Performance Indicators in Your Business

How do you measure the success of your business? How do you find out where it’s performing well and where there’s room for improvement? KPIs (key performance indicators) can help you. Here’s how they work.

KPIs are useful tools to help you measure the performance of your business. But you need to use them sensibly.

Using KPIs can give you better business insight

Doctors use KPIs to measure our health and wellbeing. Our body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and cholesterol level are all KPIs that have a specific medical meaning. In the same way, business KPIs carry specific meanings too. Debt/equity ratio, receivables days, and gross profit percentage are all measures that have specific meanings in a business context.

Key performance indicators are used by businesses of all sizes. KPI measurement uses data to show how well your business is performing. They will be different for each business, but the basic idea is the same. That is, to measure the important features of your business.

On its own, your blood pressure reading only says a little about your overall health. When you combine this with cholesterol levels and BMI, you and your doctor get a more informed picture of your health. In the same way, a business KPI tells a small part of the story about your business. Looking at set of business KPIs or metrics tells a bigger story. Measuring KPIs helps you understand your business from top to bottom. You can use that knowledge to make effective, strategic decisions.

Choose what you measure with care

Think carefully about which areas of your business are suitable for measurement. Different sets of metrics are important for different businesses. Focusing on the right ones gives you early confirmation of success or early alerts to potential problems.

Your accountant will be able to help you decide which are the important KPIs for you. When they advise you about this they will consider:

  • the field that you are in.
  • your business size and location.
  • where you are in your business life-cycle.
  • what your short and long-term business goals are.
  • any unique personal circumstances you have.

What does a KPI look like?

A KPI is a metric, which means it’s a way of measuring your business. To be effective, it should be:

  • Relevant
    The best metrics are those that have the most impact.
  • Balanced
    Measure short and long-term KPIs.
  • Understandable
    Everyone in the business should know what the KPI means.
  • Shared
    Everyone in the business should know why it’s important.

Financial KPIs come from the data in your accounting system. Non-financial KPIs come from data outside of your accounting system, such as your website and your CRM system. This guide focuses on financial KPIs.

Here are examples of what you might measure:

  • Debtor days
  • Average margins
  • Inventory turnover
  • Debt ratio
  • Net profit percentage

Identify the key areas you want to measure

If you’re measuring key performance indicators then you need to concentrate on your key areas of business. There’s no point in measuring things that won’t make a difference to your business over time.

How many KPIs should you measure? It depends on your business. Small businesses may only need half a dozen or so. Larger organizations might have that many per department – or even per manager!

More doesn’t necessarily mean better, so don’t get carried away. Too many metrics can complicate the picture. Make sure you have just enough to give you a clear overview of your business. Your accountant will be able to help choose the ones most relevant for you.

Understand what your metrics are telling you

KPIs are useful tools to help you measure the performance of your business. But you need to use them sensibly. Don’t just take them at face value.

A sales dip recorded by a KPI might be due to seasonal variation. For example, people don’t buy much winter clothing in the summer. There’s not a lot you can do about that – it’s not the fault of your sales staff.

Similarly, inventory turnover might drop because you bought lots of inventory while a supplier had a sale. Normally a drop in inventory turnover would be a bad thing. In this case, you would monitor inventory turnover to check that it returns to normal as you sell the surplus inventory.

So it is important to understand what KPIs are telling you before you try to solve a problem. If you use common sense, key performance indicators are useful tools. Again, your accountant can really help out by interpreting the message the metrics are giving you.

Four KPI groups to improve your business

Effective key performance indicators can be organized into groups. Here are four groups that could have a big impact on your business.

1. Efficiency

  • Reducing waste and making the most of your resources.
  • Finding ways to improve staff productivity.
  • Lowering inventory days on hand to reduce storage costs.

2. Growth

  • Increasing your sales, measured by gross and net revenue.
  • Improving wealth, measured by business equity.

3. Health

  • Balance debt and equity levels to the best proportions.
  • Balance inventory levels with trade payables to get the best performance.
  • Optimizing trade terms to speed up receipts.

4. Resilience

  • Reducing credit risk by optimizing debt levels.
  • Improving profitability to increase interest coverage.
  • Reducing financial risk by increasing equity-to-asset levels.

These are just examples. No doubt you can think of others that might apply to your particular business.

Remember, you can use modern accounting software to track some of these KPI groups. And if that software is cloud based, you can keep an eye on your KPIs from anywhere and at any time.

Get a better view of your business

As you can see, key performance indicators are useful in all areas of business. But it’s important to use them in the right way and not just define a KPI and then forget about it. Make sure that whatever you choose to measure is reviewed and tracked on a regular and frequent basis.

KPIs will help you get a clear view of where your business is now – and where it’s going. Used properly, they help you take the pulse of your organization’s health.

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LGBT Small Business – 5 Rules for Managing Cashflow

Cashflow management is vital for a growing business.

A cash reserve provides the cushion you need to manage unexpected events. It also gives you the confidence and finances you need to grow your business.

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Get your invoicing right

Once you’ve delivered a product or service, don’t wait to invoice. That can hurt your cash flow and your business. You should get into the habit of sending invoices for payment quickly.

Consider sending invoices immediately, or on a daily basis, depending on the nature of your work. If you are providing a service, think about asking for a deposit upfront, or a payment part-way through. It’s a reasonable request.

A product or service that has been delivered is the closest thing your business has to cold, hard cash. The sooner you invoice your client, the sooner you’ll receive payment.

 

Five rules for managing your cash flow

Invoicing is only the start. To maintain healthy cash flow, you need more than just strong revenue. You need to be able to collect that revenue too. Here are five rules for managing your cash flow and getting your invoices paid faster:

  1. Keep your books accurate and up to date
    Your cash flow is only as good as your accounting and reporting. Don’t let this get out of hand. Make sure your accounting information is updated regularly. Then you can see the financial state of your business at a glance.
  2. Don’t be too lenient with your customers
    Be direct and fair without being a pushover. A clever but polite invoicing strategy will usually get you a long way. But don’t be afraid to take more formal action if you need to.Keep a close watch on your accounts receivable turnover at all times. If it’s trending up, it might be time to step up your efforts at chasing payment. As receivables age, their quality goes down, so you should act sooner rather than later.
  3. Keep your accounting simple
    If you’re not confident with numbers, hire a professional accountant. Use quality accounting software, so you always know your cash position. It will also help you forecast your cash flow for planning purposes.For example, maybe you’re expecting a big order next month. How will you know if you’ll have the working capital needed to expand payroll? Or be able to buy the necessary inventory? Many small business owners get caught out when a large opportunity turns up. They are unable to take advantage of it due to a lack of cash. Don’t let that happen to your business.What’s more, a reliable accounting system will help you track and report on key business metrics. These include accounts receivables aging, operating margins and inventory turnover. Having a good handle on these business metrics will help you manage your cash like a pro – and take advantage of new opportunities.
  4. Keep your business and your personal finances separate
    This is essential if you want to understand your business cash flow and forecast how it might change. Mixing your business and personal finances can leave you uncertain about business performance.So keep them separate. That way you’ll know how much cash your company is generating. Then you’ll be in a good position to properly pay yourself – and use excess cash to strengthen and grow your business.
  5. Build a cash reserve
    Access to cash will make or break your business. The ultimate step to managing cash flow like a pro is to build a cash reserve. A cash reserve provides the cushion you need to manage unexpected events. It also gives you the confidence and finances you need to grow your business.It’s not always possible to build a large cash reserve. But if you do, it can insulate you from the economic cycle and the whims of banks and other lenders. It will also let you take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves.For example, you may have the opportunity to pick up inventory at a deep discount, or take on a large order or new client. With a cash reserve, you can quickly take advantage of such events.Building a cash reserve puts you in a position of strength. It might mean paying yourself a little less in the short term, but in the long term it will put your business on the path to success. That ultimately means more money in your pocket.

Make cash flow work for you

“Cash is king” might be a trite expression, but it really is vital for small businesses. Following the five rules above will help ensure that cash serves you – rather than the other way around.

 

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