About Us

StartupLadies provides a perspective on business and the associated lifestyle from two ladies who have started their own business and run this blog to document their experiences, share some advice, and occasionally vent some frustration. Running a business both requires and produces a different personality and skill set than working for the man. This is our journey...

The Reasons Women Do It

As a writer who focuses on women in the entrepreneurial industry, I am constantly inspired by the stories of women who are taking the leap and starting their own businesses. It seems

Dealing With Competition

With anyone who starts a new business, you are likely to have some competition.  Clearly, there are some cases where this isn’t going to happen.  For example, if you are starting a

Bending Weird

So, my back has been hurting recently.  I was going to a masseuse but it doesn’t seem to be doing the trick.  Well, let me rephrase; it doesn’t seem to be doing

Some gifts

My husband Brett’s birthday is in a few weeks and this year is no ordinary run of the mill year. He is leaving the 20’s behind her as he turns 30 years

Dating Can Be Hard When You’re An Entrepreneur

Right.  I’m not going to lie.  When you’re busy all the time working on a business, finding the right person to date can be hard.  I mean, you’re already doing all you


A Little Thing That Makes A Huge Impression

Some of you may remember an earlier post I did about coming up with a name for your company and how it can actually be quite a challenge despite seeming simple.  There’s another aspect of branding that goes along with choosing a name, and that’s creating a logo.

Now, those of you that are creatively-minded and artistic might jump at the chance to design your own.  In fact, I know there are some people who will actually enjoy that part more than the actual building of their business, but for those of us who have little artistic talent or vision, it’s probably best to leave your logo design to the professionals.

Think having a good logo isn’t important?  Think again.  How many logos you see on a daily basis?  Sometimes they’re incorporated with the companies’ name, but sometimes they just stand alone and you still recognize them.  Why?  Because the designs are easily recognizable and well done.  Imagine you’re at a coffee shop and the person sitting across from you is using a MacBook.  You can see the Apple logo on the top.  It doesn’t actually say “Apple,” but you still recognize it.

What about Adidas?  AT&T? Shell gasoline?  Audi?  VW?  You recognize all of these companies without even seeing their name.

Marketing consultants will tell you that this image recognition is a large part of branding because it has to do with getting people used to seeing your company, etc. etc., and they are absolutely correct.  And it can have the opposite effect, too.  A logo that is poorly designed, or even offensive, can push customers away and leave them with a negative opinion of you.

So back to the topic at hand.  What do you do if you’re like me and you need a design but you don’t have an artistic bone in your body?  You have two choices:

1) Try to design it yourself (which in my case means it will probably come out looking like a 5 year old did it)

2) Have a professional online logo maker like Logaster do all the design work for you so you can focus on running your business and leave the artsy stuff to people with talent

The way I look at it is it’s my business.  I want to make a good impression in all instances when people are exposed to it, whether on my website, business cards, advertisements, or letterhead.  Having a good logo is like wearing a suit to a business meeting; you don’t have to do it, but you might not make the impression you want if you don’t.


As you know I’ve written a few entries about how, as an entrepreneur, you sometimes have to give up things in the short term in order to hopefully get even better things in the long term.  For example, I talked about how living in a smaller apartment can help you save money that you can invest into your business.  Sure, you might be able to afford a bigger place, but do you need one?  Probably not.

Sure, you could afford to go out to dinner more often, but do you really need to?  Shouldn’t you be working, anyway?  It’s cheaper to make something at home and eat it at your desk.

Well, I was recently reminded of this “save now for future benefit” thing again.  A few of my friends are planning a surf camp vacation in Costa Rica this summer.

I will not be going.

And I am jealous.

I need to save money and as you may know, it’s hard to take a week off when you’re working on starting your own company.  Once things are up and running, maybe, but not in the early phases.  I’d be super behind if I did that.  And course, I need to save the money that I would otherwise spend on that trip.  Partying and learning to surf for a week definitely sounds like something I would be interested in, and was it ever hard to turn it down, but sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do.

So I told my friends they better send me daily pictures and updates.  I have a feeling that might just make me even more jealous, though.  Here I am in my small apartment working and my friends are all out learning to surf in beautiful Costa Rica.  Ok, now I’m getting depressed, because I’m basically just taking a break to write this entry and then I’m gonna get back to working.

It’s kind of weird, though.  After a while you get used to saving money and being frugal and stuff and then it doesn’t really hurt that much to not do things because you really can justify that it wouldn’t be a good use of money.  My old roommate and best friend is one of those people who impulse buys like crazy every time she goes shopping.  You know how they put those impulse items in the checkout lines at the grocery stores?  She’ll buy at least one or two things from each trip.  I used to do the same.   It’s like, “that [insert candy or magazine] looks so good!”  And then you pick up the magazine to read the article you saw advertised on the cover (which almost always ends up not being what you expected) and realize that you’re about to spend $4.99 for a magazine.

Now I hate spending money.  Do I want to spend $4.99 on that?  No.  That’s a lot of money.  Who buys that stuff, anyway?

It’s empowering to feel that way.

I Think These Are So Cool!

I know I usually write about business type stuff but I’m just going to be a girl in this post!

I have always loved funky, unique pieces of clothing or jewelry. When I was in college, my outfits could be pretty wild and in-your-face! But now that I’m older, although I still love funky accessories or clothes, my taste is much more subdued and mature.

In fact, I prefer unique accessories over clothing itself—accessories are easily interchangeable and can be used or worn on a near-daily basis without making you seem like a hobo, like wearing the same clothes daily could do! I love searching out and purchasing one-of-a-kind or different accessories. In example, I found some hand-printed silk scarves made by an artisan last year—she only created a set number of each design. They were kind of pricey but completely worth the purchase! I also have all kinds of bags, for different occasions. If it looks unusual or really cool then chances are good that I will want it! Shoes are another love of mine—I have so many different pairs of shoes, each one of them unusual in some way that at home, they have overflowed from my closet to boxes beneath my bed. It drives my husband kind of crazy but to be fair, I don’t have that many clothes (well, relative to some women that I know, anyway). My clothing takes up maybe half my closet space and I will routinely go through my wardrobe to give away or toss outdated pieces.

Out of all accessories available to wear, however, I think that I love jewelry the most. I have countless pieces of jewelry! Some pieces are from my husband and friends, but most were purchased by me, for me, in my excursions around the World Wide Web. I especially like hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry, and also odd-looking jewelry. The weirder or more unusual the jewelry, the better!

The other day, I was looking around online during lunch at work and found something called a spoon ring. I had not heard of this before so I looked through several photos. It turns out that spoon rings are the handles of either authentic or re-created vintage spoon handles, curved into a circular shape (with the spoon head removed) so that one can wear it as a ring. The curved spoon handles are polished and smoothed down on the inside that they are comfortable to wear on the finger. I found several stunning, intricate designs that I would love to have in my jewelry collection. This weekend, when I have more time to browse, I plan to look online for more spoon rings and buy a few for both myself and friends!

When Your Mind Wanders Off

As you work to build your business, you may occasionally find yourself daydreaming.  It could be about a delicious meal (since you are living frugally while focusing on your business, right?), or maybe the car you want to buy when you sell your business, or maybe you’ve just been up working all day and are daydreaming about how comfortable your bed is going to be.

I’ve been daydreaming about traveling.  I want to go somewhere far away, somewhere exotic.  I want go somewhere where they don’t speak English and the food is delicious and every day is an adventure and there’s a bunch of fun stuff to do and the scenery is beautiful and I can meet cool people and not have to worry about work or anything like that.  There should be a beach where I can just relax and drink fruity drinks and watch the waves and the people and forget about everything that’s on my mind.  Somewhere like Indonesia.  It’s on the other side of the planet, everyone is supposedly super friendly, they have a bunch of (presumably delicious) spicy food, they have world-class snorkeling and beaches, and they speak Indonesian.  I’d visit the major islands, take in the sites, relax on the beach, eat some food, stay at a hotel Bandung, and just chill out for a while.

palm trees

Palm trees!

The problem, though, is that I’d probably either get a little too relaxed and end up staying there too long or wanting to move there and letting my business suffer, or I wouldn’t be able to relax enough because I’d keep thinking about work the whole time and be sitting there on the beach like “yeah, this is cool, I wonder how many emails I’ve gotten today.  I wonder if any of them are urgent enough that I should be responding to them now.  I wonder if anyone is trying to get a hold of me,” etc.  I’ve always been kind of high strung like that, so as you can see, I really need a vacation!

Of course once it’s over you come back to reality.  I’m not sure how I’d deal with that, and that’s part of the reason I have trouble relaxing in the first place; I always know that “real life” is waiting for me when I get back, so I have trouble getting lost in the moment.

That’s actually something I want to work on.  I’ve heard meditation can be helpful with that so maybe it’s something I should look into.

Only Three

My old roommate sent me this email earlier today.  She said I could share it here:

“I am never in my life going to get behind the wheel even after one drink. I say that because last weekend I got my first and only DUI. I went out after work with some guys that I work with and only had 3 drinks but that was all it took. I had a light lunch so I guess that is why but it wasn’t like I was sloppy drunk or even close to it. I got pulled over because I was on my phone like an idiot and forgot to put my turn signal when I changed lanes on the highway. I didn’t even see the cop behind me but he was in an unmarked car so I don’t know if I would have noticed even if I wasn’t on my phone. I did the whole field sobriety test and thought I passed but I thought wrong. The cop said I failed and then gave me an on-spot breathalyzer which I failed. I was then handcuffed and taken to the police station where I had to blow again on the big machine. I got processed and everything and after about two hours I was able to leave but a cab had to pick me up. I had to go the next day to get my car from the tow lot which was not cheap by anyone’s standards.

My next step is to contact one of the best DUI attorneys in Sarasota that I can and see what my options are. I am pretty sure that I am going to lose my license but I don’t know for how long. I am lucky because my coworker Jeff already said he would pick me up and drop me off if needed. He was out with me that night and he said it could have easily happened to him as he goes home the same way. I’m not glad this happened by any means but I am glad that it wasn’t worse. I didn’t cause an accident or anything like that. I know when that happens the court tends to come down harder on you. My ex-roommate John got busted for one years ago and he rear ended somebody and things did not go well for him. I forgot how much it ended up costing him but I know he had to move out and back into his parent’s house because of it.”



Meet My Friend, Coffee

When you become hyper-focused on your business, it’s easy to let some of your old healthy habits fall by the wayside.  As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes you end up skipping your workouts because you’re too busy.  That 15 minutes to drive to the gym, 30 minutes to work out, and 15 minutes to drive back home is more than you can spare.  Sometimes you feel like you can’t even take 20 minutes to go for a run outside.  Let me tell you, though, that you should take a break at least every few hours and do some stretches, especially if you’ve been sitting down the whole time.  There was recently a study done that basically said the longer amount of time you spend sitting each day, the earlier you are going to die.


So get up and stretch.  Learn a few yoga poses to do throughout the day.

You’ll also find that you dietary habits may change as you become busier and busier.  Let me give you some examples:

Do you drink caffeine?  I never used to.  But then one morning I was just dragging and didn’t feel like I had enough energy to be productive, so I made a small cup of coffee.  And let me tell you, as someone who doesn’t drink caffeine, I had no tolerance built up at all, and that small cup was enough to get me energized.  I didn’t want to make a habit out of it, but you know how it goes; you’re tired the next day and so you decide you’ll just have one more cup.  And then another one the next day.  And so on.

And now I’m a coffee drinker.

Speaking of coffee, I’ve also been looking at green coffee bean extract to help me lose a few pounds that I’ve put on from not going to the gym.  Unlike the coffee I’ve come to drink, this is made from unroasted beans (so they’re still green).  It’s one of those things where I know it’s happening (me missing my workouts) but I can’t really afford to not be focused on my work at this point, and I can tell and feel a difference from not going to the gym as much as I used to.  I know it’s just for a short period of time (“short” is relative), but I don’t want to get to the point in the meantime where I gain too much weight and then have to start from an even worse place when I finally get back to the gym.

The Realities Of Starting A Business

Why do you want to be successful?

The first thing most people will say when answering that question will have something to do with money.

“I want to be rich!”

“I want a million dollars!”

Or they’ll say something that is somehow related to having a lot of money, like they want a maid, or a Lamborghini, or their own private island, etc.  They want to live like a baller.

Running your own business often requires you to do the opposite of living like a baller, though.  Especially at the beginning, you often need to be as frugal as possible for two reason:

1) much of your money will be getting put into the business, which means you might not have that much money to spend, anyway.

2) you aren’t going to be getting a regular paycheck, so you cannot count on getting a specific amount on a certain day in the future, so you have to try and make the money you do have last as long as possible.

Let’s talk a bit more about these for a bit.  Nearly any venture you undertake will require startup capital.  Maybe you’re franchising a restaurant.  That costs money.  Maybe you’re printing t-shirts for a clothing line.  That costs money.  Even if you’re doing something that doesn’t require any supplies, you’ll still need to spend money on advertising.  The less money you have because you’ve spent it on cool stuff for yourself, the less money you’ll have to put into your business.  Sure, maybe you could buy a BMW, but buying a used Honda Civic would give you a lot more cash to work with (the exception to this being if your company image somehow relies on the vehicle you drive, for example if you’re a real estate agent).

Number 2.  When most people transition from working for the man to being the man (or woman!), one of the most shocking realities is the lack of a constant paycheck.  People tend to base their spending around that regular paycheck.  Their budgeting revolves around it.  They’ll say things like “I’ll get that next week after I get paid on Friday.”  When you’re starting your own business, that doesn’t exist anymore.  You might go a period of weeks or months without any income.  Are you prepared to face the realities of that?  In order to survive during this time you may need to take some steps to become more frugal.  Eat ramen.  Move into a smaller apartment.  Sell your furniture.  Sleep on a futon.  Find the lowest car insurance rates you can find, or better yet, sell your car (if you live in a downtown city; I wouldn’t sell my car if I lived in the suburbs).  Cook food in bulk and eat leftovers.  Cancel your cable (TV, not internet).  Why are you watching TV, anyway?  You have a business to run.  Go to the $2 theater that shows old movies.  That’s your life while you’re getting started.

Is it worth it?


Backup Everything

This is kind of one of those things that everyone knows they should do, but few people actually take the time to do consistently.

Always.  Make.  Backups.

Now, I’m not even talking about how important this is for your home computer with all your person files on it.  It’s one thing if your hard drive crashes or whatever and you lose all your music and videos and pictures and papers that you wrote back in high school and whatever else you had saved on there for sentimental reasons.  And indeed, it’s a tragic thing.

But it’s something entirely different if you lose a hard drive with business stuff on it: client information, proprietary information, financial records, etc.  You are quite screwed if you lose that.  What if the notes for the project you’re working on for a client disappeared?  How would you feel if you had to call them and say “btw, we need to have that meeting again because I lost our notes”?  Or what if your expense record vanished?  Have fun doing your taxes when you no longer have a record of how much you paid for what things.

Always back everything up with multiple redundancies.  External hard drives.  Thumb drives.  Email things to yourself.  Online (cloud) storage.

Actually, that last one is the one area I want get into.  Right now, my backup process involves copying everything onto an external hard drive, and copying the important files onto a thumb drive.  I also email myself a copy of all the important files every so often so I have a copy of them sitting on my email server as well.  But I want to learn more about cloud storage.  If you’re not quite up to date like me, the “cloud” is just another term for “online.”  Storing something “on the cloud” means “on the internet.”  I don’t know why they came up with another word for it, but they did.  Anyway, what it means is you keep a backup of your files on a server so you can access them from anywhere.  Not only is this useful in case you need to recover your files, but you can also access them from wherever you have internet access, which can make business trips easier since you don’t have to worry about bringing the files with you.  But like with anything, there are a few different providers offering that type of service, so I’ve been reading some cloud storage reviews to try and figure out which one will be best for me.

I know, I already have 3 layers of backup, but since we’re talking business data that I really don’t want to lose, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with taking extra precautions.

Not to mention, I don’t want to lose all my music, either!

Dealing With Taxes

One of the things you don’t expect when you go into business for yourself is just how different your taxes are going to be.  For the most part, taxes as an employee are pretty easy and straightforward.  There are even free computer programs that will do them for you.  You just enter your income, your amount withheld, your dependents, any interest paid, if you had any investment sales or dividends, and you’re done.  Click the button and submit them online and do it again next year.

But when you’re self-employed?  Ha.  It’s not even close to that.

I remember the first year I had self-employed taxes.  Since I was doing everything myself, I decided that I was going to do my own taxes by myself as well to save money.  After all, I had done my taxes every year prior and I certainly didn’t see a need to pay someone to do them for me.  How hard could it be?

I sat down and got to work.  What were all these new forms I had never seen before?  How much of this stuff can I claim as expenses?  What am I doing?

I finally finished, or rather, I thought I finished.  It said I owed quite a bit of money.  Since I didn’t make very much money my first year anyway, I was pretty surprised to see that I might actually owe as much as I had worked out.

After deciding that this couldn’t be right, I decided it would be worth the money to hire an accountant to help me out.  Tax accountant Five Dock?  I need your help!

Fortunately for them, I did manage to keep really good records of everything.  I had all my receipts for business expenses in an envelope so everything was clear and easy to find, and I could show exactly how much I paid for everything.

Fortunately for me, my accountant knew what he was doing, and it turns out I was actually going to get money back rather than owing money like I had figured on my own.  So this alone more than made up for the cost of working with him, but it also gave me the security of knowing that everything was done correctly (as opposed to all the mistakes I made when I tried to do it myself).

So the best advice I can give for someone who is newly self-employed is to keep track of all your income and business expenses, and remember that every country has its own laws about what can be expensed, but you may be able to deduct supplies that you purchase for work, part of your rent or mortgage (if your office is part of your home), and part of your internet bill (assuming you work online). Basically, if you are spending money and it is related to your business, make sure you save the receipt for tax time.  Your accountant will know exactly what you can and can’t expense, but to do so you will need the receipts, so save them!

Also, be aware of estimated taxes, but that’s another topic for another day.


Keeping Fit When You Work All Day

One thing that can kind of be difficult when you’re running your own business is staying active when it comes to fitness.  Here’s why:

Your work can kind of consume you.  You don’t have a normal 9-5 job like most people; if you’re starting your own company, you’re basically working all the time.  Even if you’re not actually working, your life still revolves around things you need to do.  Maybe you’re watching TV in a little bit of relaxing time and you get a “new email” alert on your smartphone at 8pm.  You check it really quick and see that it’s an email from someone you’re working with, and it’s pretty urgent and you need to reply right away.  Even though it’s already the evening, business calls.  Back to work!

That’s just one example, but it’s pretty analogous to what happens on a regular basis.

As such, it’s hard to make room for fitness, especially if you’re the type who likes to go to the gym or go for a run for an hour or more.

For me personally, it has been a challenge to keep it up.  Recently I’ve decided that running helps keep me feeling better and keeps me more alert, and I perform better, so it’s something that I’m going to make time to do even if I have to move some other things around.  I used to be very active but since going into business for myself I’ve kind of let it fall by the wayside.  Not wanting to fall into any bad habits, I recently started running again last week.  I discovered that I needed some new running shoes, too, and being that most of my money right now is going into my business, I was lucky to find a site here http://www.getthelabel.com/fcp/categorylist/promo/trainers-sale with free international delivery (lucky for me since I live in California!).  On that starting your own business means being super frugal, but that’s another topic for another post!

So it’s one of those things that I kind had to take a stand and say look, I know that work is very important to me, but I’m probably going to go crazy if I don’t get my exercise in.  It makes me feel better, it makes me more alert and energetic, and it gives me a chance to take my mind off of stuff, even if it’s only for 30-60 minutes, and kind of unwind for a bit before I have to come back and get back to business for the rest of the day.

And now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going for a run!