The Art of Reinvention: One Couple’s Secret to Keeping Their Seasonal Business Thriving

The Art of Reinvention: One Couple's Secret to Keeping Their Seasonal Business Thriving

Nick Worsley stealthily hunts flies, bringing down the swatter in quick, deft strikes, punctuating the conversation I’m having with his wife and business partner, Amanda. We’re sitting behind the counter at The General – the couple’s new store in the bustling wine county of Prince Edward. The door is propped open, inviting out-of-town visitors, locals, and the unwanted buzzing guests.

It’s a Monday afternoon in the heart of the region’s high season. Only a month earlier, Nick and Amanda opened the doors on The General’s first permanent location.

The shop, as the name suggests, sells all manner of general goods – from novelty flashlights and hammocks to cigarettes and dish soap – aiming to fill the little holes in the offering of the growing community. Though the store is not the first venture for the couple, it’s their first in the area, a place they’ve called home for a little less than a year. As such, the General’s nomenclature was pure practicality – the name allows them to tweak the business while they learn the ins and outs, striving to support the community’s needs.

Photos by: Matthew Wiebe

This isn’t the first time that the couple employed resilience as a means to survive in business. Nick comes from a family of entrepreneurs, his parents running a long standing video business in Toronto’s West End. He grew up in the business, later managing it. That’s where he met Amanda. Unlike her future husband, her family tree was not replete with small business ownership.

“Both of my parents hated their jobs, and I remember being fixated on that at 11 or 12. I needed to figure out what I wanted to do and I had to love it. I had no idea what it was going to be, but I knew I definitely wasn’t going to be an entrepreneur. I thought, ‘I don’t have the guts for it, it’s too scary.’ I was raised by people who had jobs with salaries. It wasn’t until I married into a family of entrepreneurs that I thought, ‘Why not?’ It was so out of my imagination, you know? It seems like you needed millions of dollars or investors. The idea of opening a modest, small business that grows with your community is wonderful.”

It wasn’t until I married into a family of entrepreneurs that I thought, ‘Why not?’

Everywhere, video stores were shuttering their doors and after 20 years of business, Film Buff too struggled to stay alive in the changing times. “It was a little bit tough taking the reins in a dying industry,” Nick says, “I wondered, ‘Is it what I’m doing, is it my fault that the numbers are going down?’”

The family diversified, though, supplementing the dwindling sales with ice cream. Nick and Amanda eventually rebranded and expanded the food-focused part of the business, emphasizing coffee. Local Hero became its own entity within the video business’ retail space.

For Amanda, it was her first foray into entrepreneurship and she stepped away from her full time job to dive in. The couple soon discovered their personal compatibility extending to business.

“I love thinking big picture stuff – where we’re going to be, trying new things, sourcing. But Nick, he’s is as pleasant to the first person he serves as the last person he serves. By the fourth person, I’m touchy. It can be great, but it can also get to me. We have emphasis in two different areas, so that helps.”

Her words are still hanging in the humid air when Nick is suddenly in front of the counter, crouched low with a group of children, patiently explaining the mechanics of latte art. (Amanda, meanwhile, breaks from our conversation to quietly crunch numbers.)

Just a year and a half into Local Hero, the space’s lease was up and the couple faced the big question: what’s next? “We did the birth and death of a business,” she tells me, “without really getting to experience the meat-and-potatoes middle part.”

They weighed starting over in the big city, but rents were high, even in the up-and-coming neighbourhoods. To compete and be profitable, they had already been working 16 hour days, 7 days a week. And now, they have a two-year-old son.

“We started working on our first business when Buck was 10 weeks old. Small business ownership and parenthood is really just part of us – I can’t really tease them apart. They’re both all-consuming, they’re both so personal, so frustrating, so rewarding. So, it’s funny that I literally can’t have one without the other. He’s grown up in the shops. He’s here every day, grabbing things.”

Much like Nick’s own life, their son will be raised in the business, and entrepreneurship will be in his blood. But with a family came his parents’ desire for balance.

That’s when they began to consider the slow life. Amanda and Nick spent their very limited free time exploring rural communities outside of the city when they stumbled upon Prince Edward County. The area had been enjoying a burst of press attention in the past few years, recently gaining notoriety as a top wine tourism destination by Condé Nast Traveler. The Worsleys identified it as an area with plenty of growth potential, and a place to start a new life.

“I reached out to the County planning department and read their vision and strategic planning documents for the next 20 to 50 years, just to try to get a sense of where they saw this community going. They really were committed to small business. The view was amazing, the people were amazing. But it was all the small, independent businesses that attracted us the most.”

Along with Nick’s now-retired parents, the couple moved three hours outside of their comfort zone. They learned quickly that business in a rural area was very much a different beast.

“We decided last June or July that we were going to come, and then we spent the next six to eight months trying to find the space. It just didn’t happen. It turns out, what we didn’t know as city people, was that it’s just really hard to lock something down in the country because things aren’t listed online. It’s signs in windows, it’s conversations with people. Luckily someone in February connected us with Alex at The House of Falconer, who was looking for a café – that’s how we got started with the pop-up.”

Above: House of Falconer exterior, pop-up interior (photos by: Matthew Wiebe)

Though the initial intention was to start with a permanent retail space, Amanda says now that starting with a pop-up is a strategy she’d recommend to others in her place. The pop-up happened as a way to get into business quickly while they continued their search for more permanent digs.

“I encourage people, every time they ever ask: ‘Do a Pop-up, lower your overhead, lower your risk.’ But for us, it was really scary to move all the way out here with just a pop-up. It was a terrifying prospect.”

I encourage people, every time they ask: ‘Do a Pop-up, lower your overhead, lower your risk.’

Eventually, the duo secured a space on the main strip in Wellington, just around the corner from the much-revered Drake Devonshire hotel. The business strip in the town is racing to catch up for the boutique hotel’s tourist draw, a fact that benefits a business like The General – a business with chameleon abilities.

“There was an assumption that we would be a high end place because we’re from the city, and that it would be very expensive for locals. There was this kind of hesitance. But once we said, ‘we’re going to have cigarettes and candy, we’re going to have cheap beach towels.’, it instantly disarmed people and they were super excited about it. There’s no convenience store in town anymore so there was an opportunity for us to fill a gap here. We brought in organic, local produce and specialty foods, because you can’t get them anywhere. Also, the pharmacy closes at two on the weekends, so toothbrushes do really well because a lot of people forget that kind of thing. We’ve tried to compliment what was here already.”

There’s no convenience store in town anymore so there was an opportunity for us to fill a gap here.

The pop-up shop, located 20 minutes from their new permanent location, will pack up business alongside the mass exodus of suitcases at the end of the summer. As for the store, The General is ramping up to face its first winter. Business has been bumping since the location opened, but with a drop in temperature comes an inevitable drop in sales.

The problem isn’t unique to businesses in the area. Elsewhere, ice cream stands and snowboard suppliers and Christmas decor stores alike are affected by swift seasonal tides. How will The General stay afloat until spring thaw? Survival depends on stretch and careful planning.

How to combat the lulls of a seasonal business:

1. Forecast – for newbies like the Worsleys, there’s no business history to help them plan financially for the low season. But they’re leaning on fellow businesses in the area for advice. If your business has at least a year under its belt, use it as a benchmark for hiring and scheduling staff, managing cash flow and inventory, and establishing sales goals for the high season.

“I didn’t know what the volume would be like out here, because there was no business like ours, so I had to create projections with no anchor, except tourist stats for the neighbourhood. We’re shooting past our projections but with winter it’s another giant question.”

We’re shooting past our projections but again with winter it’s another giant question.

2. Pare down – Nick and Amanda have hired staff for this busy period. Their choices have helped them plan ahead: both temporary employees will return to school in the fall, just as the pop-up closes and business slows.

3. Find other revenue streams – the shop’s coffee offerings promise some viability with locals in the winter, but The General’s owners plan to find other ways to draw people into the space. With a few tables shuffled, the store is large and flexible enough to accommodate small community events and workshops.

“These activities would work with families in the neighbourhood to bring people into the store, and create stuff to do for our son, too. We’re are here anyways so why not board game nights?”

4. Expand your sales channels – while managing the new brick and mortar store is already a ton of work, the slower cold months open up time to build the shop’s online presence, using an ecommerce store to sell to customers outside of the region

5. Use downtime wisely – reduce hours and use the dip in traffic to plan ahead for next season, get caught up on administrative and financial tasks, develop a content and marketing plan. Amanda is already getting ahead on sourcing.

6. Maintain contact – summer traffic may be predominantly the fair-weather types, but a great experience means they could be repeat customers next year. Collect customer emails in store and keep them engaged until cottage season rolls around again.

For now, the Worsleys have nothing to worry about. The General starts to fill with people, even though it’s a cloudy Monday. It’s mostly locals today, it seems, as everyone here knows Nick and Amanda by name. The customers seem genuinely invested in the shop, suggesting ideas and products to sell. For the couple, the advice is welcome – support from the community is the paramount secret to survival.

“Everyone wants to tell you how to run your business. But in small towns, you listen. These are the people I serve everyday and their advice is weighted.”


The Surprising Day Jobs That Set Up These 10 Entrepreneurs for Success

It’s 4:30 PM on a Wednesday. You’re on the clock until 5, but you’ve finished the all of the sweeping or checked out your last customer or filed the day’s paperwork. It’s prime time for daydreaming: what would it be like to be your own boss? You close your eyes, and you’re running a little beachside tiki bar, or taking that leather-tooling hobby to the next level. It’s a good way to kill 30 minutes.

Ahh, the impossible dream!

But then I started thinking: is it so impossible? Most of the entrepreneurs I know didn’t go to business school, or take over a family company. They had no formal training, or mentor to help them. These small business owners come from diverse backgrounds – retail sales and law school and the TV industry. Unconventional resumes for people who now juggle marketing and customer service and design and shipping, right? Maybe not.

What is the profile of an entrepreneur? What’s the required skill set? A pinch of fearlessness, a lot of drive, the ability to self-start, a knack for business? It’s a mixed bag, partially learned and somewhat innate. And these many-hat-wearing folks, for the most part, gleaned their knowledge through an eclectic history of experiences, and things picked up from past jobs.

Can your day job help you kick start your dream job, too? Consider the following:

  • Does your company have a program to help subsidize the cost of educational workshops, courses, or conferences?
  • Can you identify anyone with mentor-potential within your organization?
  • Is it possible to take a risk-free unpaid leave or negotiate reduced hours while you work on building your business?
  • What other skills can you learn and what resources are available to you?

I spoke to ten Shopify merchants who started their careers as beekeepers and models and bankers. Their resumes, on the surface, may not seem relevant, but these entrepreneurs draw from their past work experiences every day.

Ten day jobs that have entrepreneur training baked in:

1. Former Career: Zookeeper

Entrepreneur skills acquired: Multitasking, juggling irregular hours, customer service

“I worked a lot with animals but it’s also very important to provide an education and to acknowledge the visitors – I gained a lot of my customer service skills and experience in that profession. I learned how to make customers happy with compromise (“No, you really can’t pet this bird; but I can give you a peacock feather to take home!”). I think having a unique job with weird requirements and hours helped me to prepare for the one-woman show I currently run. At the zoo, I was always on my feet, doing different tasks – no two days were the same. It’s natural for me to juggle multiple activities at once. My current lifestyle is similarly a very active job, not a typical 9-5, which is what I’m familiar and comfortable with. I don’t think I could sit at a desk or computer all day, everyday.”

– Taylor Scarboro, Owner, Sugar & Succulents


2. Former Career: Case Worker, Social Development

Entrepreneur skills acquired: listening, customer service/care, versatility, problem-solving

“My job was to find a solution to people’s problems and at times they were life and death situations. I had to think fast under pressure while providing the best possible customer service. My time with the Ministry was the biggest training ground for me as I never had any formal education in business. Everything I learned, I’m able to apply to my business life: Spend more time listening than talking. In business if you’re not listening to your customer, you’re leaving a lot of business on the table and there is no room for you to grow and improve. Kindness and compassion – you may think this has nothing to do with business but I strongly believe they should be must-haves in all business cultures. At the end of the day without people, business is nothing, we are nothing. You need to be able to understand your customer from their perspective, you don’t need to agree but regardless you need to be kind and show compassion towards them. And, don’t be scared to try new things – in my previous job, things were never black and white, so I was forced to think of different ways to solve problems. In business you will need to get out of your comfort zone and do things you’ve never done before. Yes it can be scary but you will never know otherwise.”

Gustavia Lui, Owner, Staavias

At the end of the day without people, business is nothing, we are nothing.

3. Former Career: Insurance Claims Adjuster

Entrepreneur skills acquired: organization, patience

“Working in insurance adjusting can be stressful in a catastrophe situation. For everyone. Most importantly, the people that’s been affected by a hurricane, flood or other natural disaster. You’re there to take care of them. Patience and organization is absolute key while you help someone get their lives back on track.”

Barcus Patty, Owner, Thrice

4. Former Career: Model

Entrepreneur skills acquired: photography, styling, marketing

“The way people should start businesses is to look at their lives and ask themselves, “What are the tools I’ve been given that no one else has been given, that add up basically to strategy where I win?” I modelled for Ford Models, and because of that, I know how to run a casting. I know how to run a photoshoot. I know what clothes look like on and off a person. And that’s the online marketing version of fashion.”

Leanne Mai-ly Hilgart, Founder, President and Creative Director, Vaute

The way people should start businesses is to look at their lives and ask themselves, ‘What are the tools I’ve been given that no one else has been given?’

Vaute Couture

5. Former Career: Business Development Manager, Food Industry

Entrepreneur skills acquired: curation, UX, branding

“Working in the food tech sector, my role was to identify key partners who would build and identify a brand then on-board them to our mobile apps, ready to promote to our customers. I realised the importance of curation. The importance to present customers with only the best products in an industry and brands can affect the UX for better or for worse. With my new knowledge of curation and my previous experience of onboarding brands I got to work contacting designers I wanted on our website in December and went from 15 to 50 designers in two months. I would say I am like most early business owners where in essence, you want everything to work right now, but I have learned through working with startups that the best thing to do is start slow, fix operational issues, push it a bit, fix more techy issues then push harder. A key bit of advice I was given when I decided to leave my job was to focus on getting people to love your brand than people to like your brand which is something I stick by and I am always reaching out to strike conversation with our customers. It helps me to really understand who they are but most importantly, they get to understand us, what we do and why we do it and hopefully start loving us!”

Lewis Phillips, Owner, The Pommier

6. Former Careers: Beekeeper / Tech Startups

Entrepreneur skills acquired: patience, perseverance

“I’ve been keeping bees since 2005 as my hobby and antidote to the stress of running several high-tech start up companies. Around 2008 my wife and I started experimenting with making lip balms and hand creams in our kitchen using the honey, beeswax and propolis from our bees. The main lesson I learned from my previous commercial life (and possibly the bees) was one of patience and probably stubbornness. I just knew in my gut that there was a market for our products and great feedback from our customers kept us going even though the business was not yet profitable – I sometimes think it’s a thin line between stubbornness and stupidity, but there will always be times where you will simply want to give up and walk away. Nothing comes easily and if you stick it out long enough,and if the product is “right” you will eventually succeed.”

– Simon Cavill, Founder, Bee Good Skincare


7. Former Careers: Brand Manager, Healthcare / Relationship Manager, Banking

Entrepreneur skills acquired: branding, networking, negotiation, accounting, communication

“It helped to have worked in 2 very different industries (banking and healthcare) and in different roles (finance and marketing). To run a small business, you need to know a little bit about everything. You also need to understand how the different parts of the business work together. I constantly draw on experiences that I had in my prior roles. Even though the industries were totally different from pet products, the fundamentals are similar. Accounting classes and my prior career in banking have been invaluable in teaching me how to forecast, budget, determine pricing, and run scenarios. You have to know what is driving sales, costs, and margins in order to build a business strategy and optimize your business.”

Diane Danforth, Owner, Pawdentify

To run a small business, you need to know a little bit about everything. I constantly draw on experiences that I had in my prior roles.

8. Former Career: Set Decorator, Film Industry

Entrepreneur skills acquired: sourcing, curation, networking

“My job back then was to source very specific things for films. They would say ‘We need a yellow couch’. I would go everywhere to find something that would do. My whole job was to familiarize myself with the city and all the corners, all the places. I began to know what’s in all the stores. I have fairly good visual memory because of that, and it comes in handy now. As I was doing that job, I was building my resources for film but was also finding interesting things that I was using in my own life. I said, ‘I want to get out of film. I want to use the skills I’ve acquired of taking the best options and creating something cohesive and beautiful and useful.’”

– Sophia Pierro, Owner, Present Day Gifts

9. Former Career: Broadcasting

Entrepreneur skills acquired: writing, photography, strategy, goal-setting

“For 10 years, I’ve worked for a major TV broadcaster, as a news and documentary script editor, narrator and occasional news reader. My training in strategic planning helps me envision the big picture, identify goals and the steps needed to get there (and switch gears, as necessary). We actually cut the cord with regular 9-to-5 employment some time ago and have made a decent living as freelancers, so our mindset is pretty entrepreneurial. The TV writing experience has helped me learn how to write concise, compelling stories and pick the right images to illustrate them. That helps when I’m writing blog posts and catalog copy. It’s made me a better visual thinker. And taught me that I always need to view what I’m creating through the eyes of the audience.

Virginia Sorrells, Co-Owner, Ajimi Ichiba

My training in strategic planning helps me envision the big picture, identify goals and the steps needed to get there.

10. Former Career: Real Estate Broker

Entrepreneur skills acquired: negotiation, hustle

“The cutthroat Manhattan real estate business was an amazing course in negotiation, hustle, and remaining focused on the end goal of putting together and making a deal work. These skills have come in very handy with suppliers, vendors and designers, especially in a start up with very little capital. Managing all the different personalities and finessing situations to get the deal done comes into play every single day managing Hamptons Glow.”

– Rachel Thompson, Owner, Hamptons Glow

The cutthroat Manhattan real estate business was an amazing course in negotiation and hustle.

Suddenly, mid-daydream, you snap back into a reality: you don’t have any clue how to run a business, right? But maybe you do. Inadvertently, your career is giving you the skills to forge out on your own.

Don’t quit your day job just yet, though – get paid to learn while you work on your side hustle.

What did you do before you were an entrepreneur? Share your story in the comments below.

10 Free Google Chrome Extensions Every Entrepreneur Should Install

As the app where you probably spend most of your time on your computer, your browser is useful for much more than just “browsing” the internet.

There’s a lot of features you can unlock by customizing your browser with extensions to better suit your needs—especially if you’re an entrepreneur.

And since Google Chrome has around a 71% share of browser usage, it’s no surprise that many of the most useful browser extensions out there have been built with Google Chrome in mind.

The following are the best Chrome extensions I’d recommend to scrappy entrepreneurs, letting you access more features directly in Chrome and customize your browsing experience to improve your workday in a big way.

A word of warning, though, installing too many Google Chrome extensions can slow down your browser. It’s best to only install and keep the ones that you would actually use on a daily basis.

With that out of the way, here are 10 of the best free Chrome extensions you should definitely check out. Schedule Meetings Faster chrome extension

Anyone whose days consist of jumping from meeting to meeting is all too familiar with the back-and-forth dance of finding a time that works for both you and the person you’re connecting with.

You can remove that struggle from the equation by using, a scheduling plugin that lets you check your Google Calendar directly in your inbox and select the times that work best for you.

Your contact can then click the option that works best for them in the email and that’s it—the meeting is booked.

Why You Should Use It:

  • You only have to ask once what time works for your contact.
  • Rescheduling is also supported.
  • Will impress your contacts with how efficient you are and how nicely the options are presented.

Save to Pocket: Collect Content to Read Offline Later

pocket chrome extension

“Looks like an interesting article. I’ll read it later.”

How many times has that been said and never done? A busy schedule shouldn’t keep you from reading and learning on an ongoing basis. That’s why Pocket is so great.

Pocket lets you collect articles—from links, tweets, even your favorite blog’s RSS feed—to read later at your leisure. And the Pocket Chrome extension makes it as easy as one click.

If you’ve got a long commute during your day or have specific hours when you like to consume content, Pocket is a better way to build your daily reading list.

Why You Should Use It:

  • Pocket is easy to combine with other apps via IFTTT and integrated into many blogs and social networks.
  • Choose between “web view” or a distraction-free “article view”.
  • Option to read offline or even “listen” to articles you save.

Clearbit Connect: Find Emails and Get Contact Info

clearbit connect chrome extension

I’ve gone through several “email finder” solutions, but Clearbit Connect has proven to be one of the best.

Clearbit Connect won’t just help you find the email for a specific person or role at an organization, but also see background info about a contact directly in Gmail.

It’s this combination of features that make it more useful than other tools like it.

However, like most free email finders, there’s a limit to how many emails you can find each month, which should be fine for most people. If you need more, however, try Anymail Finder as a backup.

Why You Should Use It:

  • You can search by company, by role at a company and by the name of the person you’re looking for.
  • View detailed contact information in the right sidebar of every email.
  • More accurate and up-to-date than many alternatives.

Streak CRM: Streamline Your Outreach Inside Gmail

streak crm chrome extension

There are a lot of Gmail plugins out there, but none are quite as powerful as Streak. In my opinion, it’s easily one of the best Chrome extensions on this list.

Streak essentially gives your inbox the best features of a CRM software for free. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you’ll never approach your outreach strategy the same again.

With Streak, you can build “pipelines” from a list of contacts and customize each email with info like your contact’s first name or company name. All you need to do is insert {{field_Name}}and {{field_Company}} into your email to make your outreach appear one-to-one even though you’re emailing many contacts at once.

From there you can track whether your emails get opened, make notes about specific contacts and move them through your pipeline based on their responses.

As an entrepreneur, email is your #1 business development tool. Make it more powerful with Streak.

Why You Should Use It:

  • Knowing when your emails get opened means you know when your leads are “warm”.
  • Create pipelines for all your outreach efforts, whether you’re looking for a supplier or an influencer to feature your product.
  • Create and store email templates or “snippets” that you can call upon with a click when the occasion arises.

OneTab: Keep Your Browser Tabs in Check I write this, I’ve got about 10 tabs open. That doesn’t just make it harder to find specific tabs—it actually slows down my computer.

If you’re a serial tab-opener like me, OneTab is one of the best Chrome extensions you can install.

Instead of closing all your tabs and dealing with the risk of losing a page you actually needed, OneTab lets you collapse all your tabs into “one tab” that speeds up your computer and lets you start again with a clean slate.

Why You Should Use It:

  • If you feel like you always have a hundred tabs open at any given moment, this is for you.
  • One click to hide all your tabs. One click to bring them back.
  • Reduce memory usage by up to 95%!

Block Site: Because Self-Control Is Hard

block site chrome extension

We don’t always choose to procrastinate—it kind of just happens.

Sometimes you end up on Reddit or Facebook without a clue as to how you got there.

That’s where Block Site comes to the rescue and helps you stay focused.

It’s simple. You add all the sites that distract you to Block Site’s list, and then enable it whenever you need to focus.

Any time you’re tempted to check what’s happening on Facebook or what’s new on Buzzfeed, you’re met with a page reminding you that you shouldn’t be there.

Why You Should Use It:

  • It tracks how many attempts you make to visit a blocked site (and with a sense of humor too).
  • It takes enough effort to disable Block Site that it’s much easier just to get back to work instead.
  • You can set a schedule for blocking all distracting sites during your working hours.

Buffer: Schedule Social Media Posts On the Fly

buffer chrome extension

You probably know Buffer as a tool for auto-scheduling posts on multiple social media accounts for the optimal publishing times and frequency.

But the Buffer Chrome extension helps you save even more time by adding the page you’re on right now to your Buffer queue. And with the ability to easily cater the accompanying message and image to suit each social channel you choose, it’s one of the best ways to use Buffer to share the same content across different accounts.

Why You Should Use It:

  • One-click access to Buffer’s post editor.
  • Customize your message for each channel (e.g. 140 characters for Twitter and longer posts for Facebook/LinkedIn).
  • Right-click on images to “Buffer” them directly to your queue or add text over them via Pablo by Buffer.

Effin Amazing UTM Builder: Track Your Links the Easy Way

effin amazing chrome extension

When it comes to online marketing, it’s important to track your every effort otherwise you’ll lose out on the insight that helps you better understand your traffic.

Proactively tracking your links might be an online marketing best practice, but it can also be a time-consuming one that’s hard to commit to.

Effin Amazing UTM Builder lets you add UTM parameters to any link in just a few clicks. If data drives your marketing decisions, as it should, then this is a must.

Why You Should Use It:

  • Presets let you automatically fill out the parameters for each field.
  • Integrates with to shorten your links and hide the UTM parameters.
  • Great for identifying traffic that comes from guest blogging, social profile bios, etc.

Momentum: The Best “New Tab” You’ll Ever Open

What’s the first thing you do when you get the urge to put off a task?

You open a new tab.

Instead of succumbing to the slippery slope of procrastination that follows, you can make use of that “new tab” by reminding yourself that you’ve still got things to do.

Momentum is all about that. With a more minimalist approach than other new tab chrome extensions like it, Momentum only shows you things that help you stay productive: the current time, your to-do list, an inspirational quote and image, and the goal you set for the day.

Why You Should Use It:

  • It’s beautifully designed and stays fresh with new images and quotes.
  • Forces you to confront the current time and your to-do list whenever you open a new tab.
  • Unlike most new tab options, it doesn’t prominently show your favorite links so you won’t get distracted by them.

Grammarly: A Spellchecker That Works Everywhere

grammarly chrome extension

Whether you’re sending an email or a tweet, spelling and grammar mistakes can harm your credibility.

You could hire a professional proofreader to check your words wherever you end up writing online. Or you can install the Grammarly Chrome extension.

With it, you’ll be able to easily spot misspelled words, grammar mistakes, and other issues in your writing at a glance.

Why You Should Use It:

  • It claims to be better than the traditional Microsoft Word spell checker many are familiar with.
  • Works through your browser so it checks your tweets, emails, comments, and wherever you write online to preserve your credibility.
  • It doesn’t just correct grammar, it teaches you about it too.

What Chrome Extensions Do You Recommend?

Whether you’re emailing a long list of contacts or trying to stay focused on the task at hand, these are some of the best Chrome extensions you can install to get more value out of your browser.

But this list only represents a tiny fraction of the useful Chrome extensions out there.

So let’s hear some of your favorite productivity-boosting Chrome extensions in the comments below.

How to Outsource Effectively and Earn Back Your Time

As an entrepreneur, you wear several hats. Some of them might even look good on you.

But there will inevitably be some parts of starting and running a business that fall outside your expertise.

On top of that, you’re one person: You’ve only got 2 hands and 24 hours in a day.

Just because you carry the weight of your business on your shoulders, doesn’t mean you need to shoulder all the responsibility alone.

Delegating responsibilities to other capable hands frees you up to focus on your vision and the things only you can do, whether it’s growing your business or even spending more time with your family.

When it comes to creating time and finding talent, ‘outsourcing’ is an essential practice for efficient entrepreneurs.

The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Contrary to some definitions, outsourcing doesn’t necessarily mean contracting work out to someone in another country. Instead, look at it as handing off or “farming out” work to a third party that specializes in its execution.

It’s easy to become a  control freak (in a good way) when you care deeply about your business, but that can make it hard to let go of aspects of your business in fear that someone else won’t do as good a job as you or won’t execute your vision exactly as you see it.

On the flip side, delegating too much or for the wrong price can increase your operating costs unnecessarily.

Effective outsourcing gives you back the time and energy you need to focus on higher impact things and maintain a good balance between life and work.

When contracting out a role or task you’ll need to consider:

  • Essential vs. nonessential tasks: Perhaps the most important thing to consider is whether what you’re outsourcing demands your attention and if that attention could be better spent on more essential tasks elsewhere (e.g. business development activities like creating strategic partnerships)
  • Long-term relationships vs. one-time needs: Outsourcing a process in the long-term requires that you build a good relationship with the contractor or agency you’re working with, so that they know your business enough to work better with you over time.
  • Your personal expertise and workflow: Look at outsourcing essential tasks where you don’t have the expertise to ensure quality work and find ways to offload nonessential tasks that consume a big chunk of your workday.
  • Look at automation and “botsourcing” first: Some things are far cheaper and more efficient to automate than to outsource (more on that later).
  • Costs: In many cases, you’ll choose outsourcing because it’s a cheaper alternative to hiring an employee full or part time. But consider whether you have the cash flow to support outsourcing costs and the potential return on investment (more revenue or time to focus on other things) that justifies it.

When in doubt, ask yourself how much your time is really worth. The simplest way to calculate the value of your time is based on the total number of hours you dedicate to work divided by the income you generate per hour you work. Then ask yourself if it’s worth paying someone to have that time back and what you would invest it on instead.



Delegating: An Essential Skill for Every Endeavour

“As all entrepreneurs know, you live and die by your ability to prioritize. You must focus on the most important, mission-critical tasks each day and night, and then share, delegate, delay or skip the rest.”

— Jessica Jackley, Co-founder of Kiva

The first time I farmed something out—a logo—I didn’t get what I wanted at all at first. It wasn’t the freelancer’s fault (they had a history of 5 star ratings). It was because I made the mistake of not communicating what I had in mind.

It’s easy to blame hired help for delivering poor work, but you should be mindful that the person you’re dealing with doesn’t necessarily understand your business, your processes or your vision.

Always appreciate the “curse of knowledge”— you know exactly what you want, but the people you’re working with don’t. Communication is key.

Here are some tips for effective delegation:

  • Define a clear outcome: Describe the result you want (and don’t want). If it’s a measurable result, then agree upon a way to quantify it. Make sure your requirements are clear and, if relevant, that your instructions account for obstacles (“If this happens, then do this instead…”).
  • Over-communicate: Explain why you want it done and what your venture is about. There’s no such thing as too much context or information around a task, so make sure you’re both on the same page.
  • Set deadlines: If there’s a clear deliverable at the end (e.g. a logo design) make sure both you and the contractor are clear about when it’s expected. If you specify a date but no time, the assumption is that it’s due at the end of that day (midnight). For creative tasks, be sure you leave enough time to account for revisions.
  • Be wary of time zone differences: When you’re working with remote help, it’s important to be aware of differences in working hours when establishing deadlines or meetings.
  • Establish a line of communication: Make it easy for both you and the contractor to get in touch with one another if the need arises. Email is usually fine for communicating, but consider using Skype or Google Hangouts since they let you send instant messages, make calls and share what’s on your screen. For more complex, long-term remote teams, employ a tool like Trello or Slack to better facilitate the flow of necessary information.

Help Isn’t Hard to Find: How and Where to Look For Talent Online

Today’s gig economy—for better or for worse—has made it easier to source talent online.

But that doesn’t mean all the challenges are gone.

There’s a lot of debate (among both contractors and business owners) when it comes to pricing. Should you pay per hour or per word (for writers), pay a fixed rate per project, a fixed rate paid out partially as certain milestones are met, or a combination?

It really depends on the contractor, complexity of your project and the nature of the work you need done.

Regardless, scope out complex projects or roles fully before you agree upon a price.

One of the worst things that can happen when outsourcing a complex project is “scope creep”—having the needs of the project change as it develops, usually due to unforeseen circumstances or some misunderstanding with the initial agreement. Make sure there’s a clear record of the requirements of the role or project and establish a price according to that agreement.

With that out of the way, here are some ways you can find talent and places you can look.

Finding and vetting talent through your personal network

For many people, their first instinct when they need talent is to tap into their personal networks to find it based on the recommendation of a friend.

A mutual friend or connection could make it easier to establish a long-term relationship with a contractor. You can post your requirements on LinkedIn or search through your network for a mutual connection with the skills you need.

For creative roles like writing, video creation, and design, you can also reach out to people whose work you like to see if they’re willing to offer their services on a freelance basis.

However, this takes longer and could consume a lot of time, so it might be best to use a marketplace if you want to move faster.

Finding and vetting talent through a marketplace


Marketplaces have streamlined the way we objectively consider aspects like price, quality of work, customer reviews, turnaround time, and trustworthiness when evaluating talent.

While the inherent competition in a marketplace drives costs down across the board, you might not get to establish the same kind of relationship you would when hiring a solo contractor through their own platform.

However this is offset by the quick access you get to a diverse pool of talent with a fast turnaround that fits your specific needs.

Most marketplaces also handle payments via “escrow”—your payment is held by a third party account until both you and the contractor agree that the work was done. This gives both you and the contractor peace of mind throughout your relationship.

With a general marketplace like Fiverr, you get a really fast turnaround and a wide range of gigs on offer for almost anything you can imagine (get someone to make you a song or share your product in a list of forums). The gigs also offer more flexible pricing delivered in tiers, so can start for as low as $5 (hence the name, Fiverr) with the ability to upgrade your gig to get more as you see fit.

Upwork is a bit more expensive than Fiverr and offers less variety, but the talent is higher quality and more relevant to the needs of starting or running a business.

Some niche marketplaces take a crowdsourcing approach like 99designs (for infographics, logos, etc.), and Wooshii (for product videos and engaging short films) to harness competition, so you get more choices as to the creative direction of a logo or video. You’ll get higher quality results but for a higher price.

Shopify store owners can also check out Shopify Experts for developers, designers and store setup experts .

Finding content writers and copywriters

crowd content

I often hear that writers are hard to hire. Mostly because you need to account for not just whether you want a copywriter or a content writer, but also whether they’ve got the expertise and experience to work within your niche and brand’s voice.

If you want a writer you can work with long-term as the need arises, you can start by looking for existing content you would want on your own blog or website, and then reach out to those writers directly (find them on Twitter, LinkedIn or their Facebook page).

When you’re evaluating a content writer, especially how much you want to pay them, it’s worth looking at not just how engaging their work is but whether they have their own audience.

A writer with an audience might also promote the content they create for you within their own networks, expanding the reach of your blog. Or you can ask for ghostwriting services to publish under your own name, to build your own personal brand, instead.

If you need to produce a larger quantity of written content or copy that’s optimized for SEO, consider a marketplace like Crowd Content as it can integrate with and publish content directly to popular platforms like Shopify, Twitter, WordPress, and Facebook.

Setting up third party warehousing and fulfillment

Third party warehousing and fulfillment probably won’t be a good option for younger ecommerce businesses.

Even with the cash flow to justify it, there are logistics that must be considered when outsourcing an offline process that is core to your business’ operation.

If this topic interests you, I recommend you read Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Third Party Warehousing and Fulfillment to explore it in greater depth or read our Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping.


Hiring a virtual assistant for administrative tasks

Virtual assistants are a varied bunch. Some of them are great for handling administrative tasks, research, cold calling, and data entry. The best ones might even provide skills like writing, proofreading or design.

It depends on what sort of day-to-day tasks you want to take off your hands.

Zirtual is a popular solution for dedicated, highly useful VAs that are perfect for startups.

Fancy Hands, alternatively, is a much lighter subscription-based VA service that’s great for time-consuming research, finding quotes, posting to forums and directories, and even staying on the phone to negotiate your phone bill on your behalf.

Employing a virtual assistant isn’t just useful for an extra pair of hands—it’s also a great way to practice the art of delegating as you learn how to let go of tasks and clearly communicate your wants on an ongoing basis.

Automating and “botsourcing” to support or replace outsourcing

Automation is a cost-effective way to supplement or even replace outsourcing. I mention automation here, because outsourcing isn’t just about finding talent—it’s about having more time on your hands to re-invest elsewhere.

With If This Then That (IFTTT) and Zapier you can created automated processes to streamline parts of your business, so you can either make your internal processes more efficient or streamline the workflow between you and a regular freelancer.

For example, if you regularly order social media images off of Fiver, you can have them automatically sent to a Dropbox folder.

IFTTT Recipe: Upload my Fiverr ordered videos to a Dropbox folder connects fiverr to dropbox

Here are some recommended readings if you’re looking to learn more about automation:

  • 7+ Ways to Streamline Your Ecommerce Business With Zapier
  • 9 Clever Ways to Automate Your Small Business with IFTTT

Also, if you’re a Shopify store owner, be sure to check out the App Store—there are a ton of apps to build more integrated processes across your business.

“Botsourcing” lets you offload the execution of daily tasks to a virtual employee.

Hire Kit—your own virtual Shopify employee bot starting at $10/month!!

Chat with Kit via SMS, Facebook Messenger or Telegram to send personalized “Thank You” emails to customers or even run Facebook ads.


And Now, Over to You

Many entrepreneurs fled the 40-hour work week to pursue the freedom to live the life they want. So they started businesses of their own. However, running a business is no small feat and it’s not uncommon for many to end up investing a lot more hours in its day-to-day operation.

There’s always something to do, some way you can grow your business, and when your attention is always on the details of execution that keep your business going, you might lose focus on the things that will help you take it to the next level.

If you haven’t thought about letting go of tasks and making more time for yourself, then hopefully this has got you thinking what you can get off your plate.

If you’re already outsourcing tasks and roles, what are they? What sites do you frequent when you’re in need of talented hands? What are some clever ways you’ve automated your business?

Share your experiences in the comments below!

Happy Amazon Prime Day! Heres What Other Articles Will Not Tell You About Today

So last year Amazon decided to celebrate its 20th birthday by having what is known as Primer Day. Amazon reported selling 398 items per second then.  So its no wonder why theyd want to have it again this year.


So here are some things to look out for and to think of when you are digging for these deals on Amazon:

  1. Do Not Buy Items on Amazon Using Prime Benefits to Resell on Amazon

    • This is against Amazon policy. And a lot of beginners don’t know that and might be tempted to buy something using their prime benefits to flip for nice profit right back on Amazon. (source)
  2. Use eBay, or craigslist

    • Use today to buy inventory for eBay, Craigslist, or maybe a local rummage facebook site.
  3. Search the Prime deals for items you can use in your business, like shipping supplies, office supplies, a new processing laptop, or anything else you can deduct as a business expense.
  4. In preparation, right now is a good time to reprice some of your inventory. With more people shopping on Amazon on Prime Day (as well as the days leading up to it), there is a greater chance for you to get increased sales. Be sure you competitively reprice your items to maximize your profits.
  5. Set a reminder on your calendar for July of 2017 and be sure you are ready for Prime Day next year. Even though this is the second consecutive year Amazon has planned a Prime Day, it’s still not for sure if this will become an annual event — but if it does, you want to be sure and be prepared.
  6. Have realistic expectations for Prime Day sales. An increase of sales is expected, but overall it will most likely be a nice bump in sales. While some people might have a day filled with tons of amazing sales, that probably won’t be the norm. Don’t get caught up with checking your sales every 10 minutes to see if you have any new sales. And don’t fall into the trap of comparing your sales with others who are posting online. Remember, comparison is the thief of joy. Just enjoy the nice bump in sales and then get back on track with your overall goals for your Amazon business.

Feeling Lonely? 5 Ways to Cure the Entrepreneurship Blues

I’m prone to squirreling myself away, binging on Netflix and hunching over DIY or writing projects without coming up for air. Suddenly, I’ll catch myself in a one-sided conversation with the dog. I lean introvert on the personality spectrum, but even introverts get lonely.

There’s plenty of proof that introverts make great entrepreneurs, and it can be assumed, more equipped to thrive in the isolation that comes with the lifestyle. Alone and lonely, however, are two very different things.

Loneliness has recently been linked with an increased risk of heart disease and cancer, and poor social networks can contribute to a number of other health concerns like obesity. Cabin fever, it seems, is a more worrisome diagnosis than I thought. And, it’s an epidemic: the rate of loneliness has doubled in the past 30 years, with 40% of Americans reporting feeling lonely.

Entrepreneurship’s “dark side” is the psychological toll that can put business owners at higher risk for mental health issues, and loneliness is a slippery slope.

Entrepreneurship can be Lonely

On Monday, I worked from home. I’d tell you it’s my preference – that I’m more productive, less distracted – but the truth is, after more than a day, I miss the energy of others (my dog notwithstanding). Frankly: I get lonely. At home, I don’t benefit from spontaneous group discussion, or connections made at the coffee maker.

“There is a huge difference between being a remote employee and being an entrepreneur or freelancer. Like, night and day difference,” my remote colleague tells me. He’s lived in both worlds.

It’s true – when I work from home, I still have access to Slack chatter, and can hop into regular meetings on Hangouts. There’s a desk waiting for me on the other side. For solopreneurs, the company safety net doesn’t exist and the networks don’t come standard. In both cases, combatting loneliness requires a little proactivity.

Business owners are at higher risk for mental health issues, and loneliness is a slippery slope.

Tom Hanks’ Cast Away character developed systems to connect to the outside world, and established a “social network” – a discarded volleyball with a face – to stay engaged and motivated. Luckily, the deserted Island of Entrepreneurship has more natural resources.

There’s no need to make friends with inanimate objects – beat work-from-home isolation with a few tricks from the entrepreneurs who do it every day:

1. Get Outside

Change the Scenery

For a lot of new small businesses, renting office space can be too costly. But there are happy-medium alternatives to the tiny workspace wedged into the corner of your kitchen: answer emails from a café, rent pay-as-you go hot desks at coworking spaces, or consider pooling together with other entrepreneurs to share a studio.

“I started my business in my basement. I would routinely try to do the laundry, dishes, and my bookkeeping at the same time. It saved me money, but I was wasting so much time that I’d end up working till 1-2am to catch up. Moving into a shared studio space has opened so many doors and helped me make so many new connections. When you work with other like-minded people, especially women, you help each other. You give advice and connect others with new projects, people, and opportunities, and every connection you make strengthens the support behind your own business.” – Sophia Pierro, Owner, Present Day

The new studio also helped Sophia with the lonesome blues:

“I have cats. They help with the isolation but are also super distracting. My new studio is cat-less but I now have studio-mates, which is much better.”

Betahouse Co-working Space Barcelona

Co-working space at Betahaus Barcelona

Breathe In

We’ve already told you that fresh air and nature are great for productivity and strategic thinking, but a good dose of green can also alleviate symptoms of depression, loneliness, and anxiety.

“If there aren’t built in reasons to move during your day, find excuse to move – for example, instead of eating lunch at your desk, walk to a cafe or sandwich shop.” – Jason Fried and David Heineneier Hansson, via Remote

2. Crowdsource Your Health

Keep Fit (and Social)

Think about it this way: you have the advantage of a very short commute – a slippered shuffle from the bedroom to your home office. Good luck logging 10,000 steps.

As a busy entrepreneur, that extra hour in the day could be put to good use: fulfilling orders, working on a social strategy, answering customer service emails. But it might be an hour better used to keep fit – studies show that fitness improves concentration and enhances creativity, essential attributes of a great entrepreneur.

Studies show that fitness improves concentration and enhances creativity – essential attributes of a great entrepreneur.

Desk yoga is great in a pinch, but a regular fitness commitment can pull double duty as a way to combat isolation. Join a run club, hit the gym, or sign up for group fitness classes – anything that involves other people. The positive impact on your heart and energy is a bonus.

Eat Well, Together

When I work from home, my meals sometimes consist of a spoonful of peanut butter or a tray of oven fries. It’s an easy habit to adopt when you’re busy – putting work needs ahead of your own.

Planning healthy meals can increase productivity, but it can also be social. For accountability, I use apps that help track eating habits, but also connect me with others. MyFitnessPal has a social component, allowing you to share your health goals with a supportive community.

3. Make Time for Face Time

Technology makes it easy to run a business without ever leaving your couch and sweat pants. Kicking it old school with some real face time (nope, not the app), though, keeps your communication skills sharp, and your social health in check.

Teach and Learn

Connect with other entrepreneurs and hone your craft by enrolling in workshops and courses. For more seasoned business owners, pay the knowledge forward by applying to teach.

“Now that we’re sharing a space, we’re putting a whole new plan into action. We’re starting community workshops, classes, and programs that are connecting us even more with our community.” – Sophia Pierro, Owner, Present Day

BrainStation Classroom

A classroom at BrainStation

Move Your Meetings Offline

No need to be lonely when you can squeeze human interaction into your day-to-day business tasks: visit your suppliers in person, deliver local orders by hand, and meet your designer over coffee.

Attend Events

Whether you’re treating yourself to a trip to attend a small business conference abroad, or popping into a local meetup, events are great for not only for learning new tricks of the trade – they’re also replete with other cabin-fevered entrepreneurs looking to connect.

Shopify Retail Tour Event

Networking at Shopify Retail Tour

Grow your professional support network quickly by attending events that have networking built in.

“I take advantage of the fact that I don’t have a long commute or have to get distracted by others around me. When I want to meet people who are also into fashion or online retail, there are plenty of fashion startup round tables here in Portland, so I try to go to as many as I can.” – Sarah Donofrio, The Jet Set

Networking events also offer opportunities to practice your pitch, source investors, and bounce new ideas off seasoned entrepreneurs.

Retail Therapy

Dabble in retail by taking your online business offline: participate in a seasonal market, open a pop-up shop, or rent shelf space in another merchant’s brick and mortar shop.

The Local Branch Pop-Up

Maker Market booth by The Local Branch

4. Stay Connected

Don’t vote yourself off the island just yet. Make some alliances in your industry if you want to survive.

Reach Out Often

Out of sight, as they say. You’re likely not interacting face to face with your business’ stakeholders or customers on the regular, and maybe your assistant is virtual. Be proactive about making online contact regularly.

“Make a point of reaching out to other people. It can be hard sometimes – I’m quick to assume they’re all super busy and I don’t want to bug them with chit chat – but it’s what keeps me connected.” – Stephanie Shanks, Social Support (Remote), Shopify

A more formal approach may work for you as well: schedule time into your calendar to make contact – it’s one of those items that might otherwise be put off forever.

Meeting Friends for Drinks

“Do a weekly hangout with people in your industry.” – Tommy Walker, Editor-in-Chief, Shopify Plus Blog

Join Online Communities

Even if you’re running a business from a small rural community, there are plenty of support resources in forums and groups designed for entrepreneurs:

Can’t find a group that fits your niche or personality? Start one!

“Online small business groups are great for after-hours assistance and feedback with impartial views.” – Melanie Hercus, Founder, The Local Pantry Co.

Make (Real) Friends

“I joined a few local networking groups of people my age, which have been incredibly beneficial for my business. And now I have a whole new group of friends! It’s impossible to run a business fully on your own, so taking the time (even if you don’t have any) to meet others in your community will, without a doubt, help you in the long run.” – Sophia Pierro, Owner, Present Day

But where do you meet friends as an adult? It’s a big, lonely world out there. There are plenty of apps that follow the swipe-right dating model, but are designed for platonic or business connections.

Try these:

  • Vina or Bumble to meet girlfriends with similar interests
  • Wiith for connecting nearby or at events
  • Weave for building business contacts

4. Stay Connected

Vina: how I met Kayla (I’m not a murderer)

Feelings of loneliness can occur because of non-existent social networks. But, they can also impact people with large networks of toxic or low-quality friendships. Surround yourself with people who support your business and your lifestyle.

“I designate time every single day to take a break from it all and connect. Whether it’s with my husband, my family, close friends or fellow moms in some of the Facebook Groups. This is something I learned to do after a year of fully neglecting my relationships (during our founding year). If I don’t, I just can’t focus because I’m browsing through social media all day long, looking to fill that space.” – Josie Elfassy-Isakow, Owner, MagneTree

Surround yourself with people who support your business and your lifestyle.

Expand Your Wolfpack

Offer an internship opportunity to a student or new grad – barter business knowledge and real world experience in exchange for low-cost help and human interaction. Contact local colleges for information on work placement and internship programs in related fields of study.

5. You Do You

Draw the Line

It’s easy, from home, to blur personal time with dedicated working hours, and you may find yourself bailing on girls’ night out to pack boxes or tackle invoices. Establishing office hours, setting deadlines, or scheduling tasks in your Google calendar can help with work/life balance.

Use tools like Trello or RescueTime to keep you on track. Walking a dog or other daily establishing events can also act as work-day markers:

“Coming back from the dog run in the morning is the start of my day, and I have that clear delineation where I will take her out again at lunch and after work. If an order comes in at 10:00 at night, I’ll take care of it if I’m free. But in terms of sitting at my desk, I try to keep regular hours, like 9:00 to 6:00.” – Valentina Rice, Owner, Many Kitchens


Get a Life

Kaitlin and Ryan Lawless try to save business conversions for after their first coffee. They take respite from their work life by focusing on their relationship over the daily morning ritual.

Allow yourself to step away from the business to focus on hobbies and friends outside of your industry. The effects can actually be good for your business. Studies show that some hobbies can improve communication skills and work ethic, and help you cope with work-related stress.

“In addition to running my store, I also DJ for OPB radio, and being an indie rock radio station, there’s no shortage of characters there. I always have concerts or pub nights to attend, and am surrounded by people who want to talk about music all night.” – Sarah Donofrio, The Jet Set

Think Positive

“Change the mental story you tell yourself. Remember that there are people who care about you; they may just be busy at the moment.” – Elizabeth Bernstein on loneliness, via WSJ

When lonely feelings come knocking, remind yourself of the benefits of working solo. Without the shackles of a cubicle and punch-card, you’re free to make your own hours or work from the road. Take your business with you while you check places off of your travel bucket list.

And remember, sometimes the grass isn’t always greener:

“As an entrepreneur working in the intense pace of Hong Kong, I would revel in the chance to experience some isolation and loneliness.” – Alexis Holm, Squarestreet

Take care of yourself. Your business will thank you.



Article was originally posted on Shopify