The Importance of Giving Back

It’s widely recognized that entrepreneurs contribute enormous amounts of their time and energy towards building viable businesses. One lesser known fact, however, is that entrepreneurs are largely philanthropic, donating 50% more to charity than their non-business owner counterparts. What drives this philanthropic activity and what impact do entrepreneurs have on this sector of society?

Philanthropic drivers

There are three main reasons why entrepreneurs lead the pack in philanthropic contributions. According to a 2018 Fidelity Charitable Study…

  • Philanthropy is a part of their DNA: In fact, 79% of entrepreneurs say that philanthropy is a critical component of their identity.
  • Entrepreneurs are compelled to take action: When they encounter causes they believe in, entrepreneurs are motivated to roll up their sleeves and get their hands dirty.
  • Entrepreneurs embrace their role as leaders: Compared to about 50% of non-business owners, 62% of entrepreneurs want to demonstrate leadership within their communities by volunteering relevant skills to causes that move them.

The impact of entrepreneur philanthropists

In the U.S. today, with nearly 30 million entrepreneurs and nearly half a million new entrepreneurs each month, entrepreneurs are a large segment of our population. Couple that with their desire to enact change through philanthropic activities and the social impact of this powerful population segment cannot be underestimated.

As a whole, entrepreneurs are motivated to give back to such a degree that it even drives their exit strategies when selling or passing down their businesses. 31% plan to allocate a portion of their sale proceeds to charity while almost one-third of business owners arrange ongoing donations to charitable causes through funds or foundations.

Do you want to contribute to the greater good by building a business that leaves behind a legacy? We recently had the privilege of co-authoring, LEGACY, a book devoted to the what, why and how of creating a business that truly matters. If you are in the Miami area, we would love to see you at our upcoming book launch party Tuesday, August 20 from 6-8 pm at FrameWorks at Valmar in the Bird Road Art District!

For more information or to order your tickets, visit our Eventbrite link here.


What is Project Management and Why is it Important?

In today’s episode I share the definition of a project, the definition of project management and why this is important in the business world.

By definition a project is a temporary effort that has four clearly defined components.

The first and most important component is the scope. That defines the size, the goals, the requirements needed for the project to be completed.

Next we have resources, this component is defined by the staff needed, equipment and materials.

Third, and one of the most critical, is the time. Every project needs a start and an end. You also need to know the length of each staff’s dependencies, meaning certain tasks can not start until what previous ones are completed.

Last, and equally important, is the money. How much will the project cost. You also need to know contingencies. Typically this refers to the amounts that are held in reserve to deal with unforeseen circumstances. And of course we must know the profits.

All business projects requires some form of management. Project management is a powerful business tool that can deliver many advantages to business of all sizes. It gives the business repeatable processes, guidelines and techniques to help manage the people and the work involved in each one of those projects.

A project management system can increase the chances of success and can help deliver projects consistently, efficiently, on time and within budget.

I’m going to leave you today with an inspirational quote by Sir Winston Churchill: “Those who plan do better than those who did not plan, even though they rarely stick to the plan.”


Scaling a Business

There’s quite a buzz around the entrepreneur ecosystem developing in South Florida. Miami is specifically garnering national attention as a leader in business startups. While starting a business is relatively easy to do, scaling a business is another matter entirely. It is estimated that only 8% of businesses make it out of the foundational stage and develop an infrastructure that can support scaling – regardless of how long they’ve been in business. In this article, Jacqueline Bueno Sousa shares some insightful thoughts on scaling businesses. Similarly, Jody Johnson, managing partner of the local ActionCOACH Business Coaching firm, has witnessed many of these same points in working with business owners over the last decade to establish stable, scalable foundations.

Read Bueno Sousa’s Miami Herald article here!

Are you ready to scale your business or take it to the next level?

We can help! Check-out how we have helped other businesses like yours!



Make Time for Your Mid-Year Course Correction

It’s hard to believe that summer is already here! The kids are out of school and vacation season is in full swing. For business owners and their teams, it’s time for the mid-year course correction. June and July are the ideal time to review all your dreams, goals, plans, strategies, learnings and assumptions. It’s the time to take stock of what’s working and what’s not. Based on your findings, you can make course corrections to ensure that you and your team accomplish your goals and stay on track with your dreams. If you set aside the time and put in the effort for this process, it can make a difference this year and in the years to come. Here are seven things to consider and possibly modify mid-year.

  1. Review your budget and forecast. Are you on track to achieve your projections? If you are ahead of budget, you must determine if sales will continue to exceed expectations. If you do exceed your sales targets, what will you do with the extra revenue? Is production on track? If you’re falling short of budget projections, can you honestly create the additional revenue to make up the difference? If not, how will you bring your costs down to remain profitable?
  2. Review all expense categories. Are all your expenses in line? Are the programs and processes you put in place achieving their targets? Are there any that are just not working? If so, what’s the cause? Does the program or process simply need more resources, time or attention or has it totally missed the mark? If there’s no chance it will be effective and profitable, stopping will free up resources for other programs that will give you a return on your investment. Has an unexpected opportunity come up? What will it take to make that work and keep the business financial goals in line? What have you learned?
  3. Analyze your cash flow. 
  4. Review all your product and/or service offerings.  Is there an offering that needs to be dropped? If an offering isn’t performing, what’s the source of that? Would more sales and marketing attention make a difference? Has your offering become irrelevant in the marketplace?
  5. Have you identified new opportunities? What resources will be required? What’s the timeframe? What benefit do you expect? Will additional funds be required? Where will this money come from?
  6. Take a look at your competitors. Where do you stand in relation to your competitors? What can you do to become more competitive? What sets your business apart from the competition? Are you living your brand promise?
  7. Evaluate your marketing programs. Review and assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategies. Which programs and campaigns are working? Which ones aren’t? Is there sufficient time and money to be effective? Should you outsource implementation?
  8. Bonus question: What do you and your team need to learn to course-correct successfully?

When your review and analysis is complete, you will be in a position to make helpful mid-year course corrections. Doing this will limit the money you invest in unsuccessful efforts, help you keep your goals front and center, and allow you to build on accomplishments from the first half of the year.

You’re halfway through the year! It’s time to make those goals and dreams a reality! Please reach out to us and let us know how we can help!


Case Study: Continental Global Services

The Background

Chinedu Okoro started Continental Global Services in 2014 as a compliment to his father’s commercial janitorial service business. His business was growing slowly and organically. When we first met Okoro, had just completed the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program and he’d learned a lot; however, implementing all the new information was a whole other matter. Okoro had two employees and was working days, nights and weekends trying to grow his client base and move away from dependency on his father’s business. He was working hard to fulfill orders, invoice, collect, purchase products and run the business, all the while seeking government contract certifications. Shortly after we met, his office admin assistant – pregnant in her third trimester with her first child – broke her foot. All the things she was responsible for then fell onto his plate as well. The way things were operating was simply not sustainable.

The Solution

We got clear on the processes for each of the different organizational functions and began systemizing the business. We set up financial tools to analyze the business and set profit margins and brought in professional help to get the books accurate, then outsourced the bookkeeping. We let go of a team member that wasn’t working out, or government contracting, we hired a new team member who was familiar with this type of business development and began training her to be an asset and free up Okoro’s time. We set sales targets and business goals and then we set up tools that allowed Okoro and his team to access company data remotely. Our coaching also provided a structure of accountability that helped move the business forward.

The Outcome

In December of 2018, Chinedu was called to Nigeria where his family was involved in a hotel development project. He remained in Nigeria until early June of this year. During his time in Nigeria, Chinedu ran his business remotely, growing revenue by 147.49% and gross profit by 107.42%! He attributes this success to the team and systems we put in place prior to his departure. Our actions granted him the freedom and flexibility to simultaneously pursue business endeavors in both countries and experience substantial growth.


Chinedu states, “Running a business is like having a child. If you let the child run wild, there’s chaos. Having a business coach is like the parent providing guidance – one who helps you by looking from the outside, one who is experienced at reducing the chaos. You stop running around doing this and that and formulate a clear vision and effective actions. Developing a clear vision and prioritizing what to do, when and how to do it, is the most valuable thing I’ve received from working with my ActionCOACH. Her guidance has been invaluable.”


Is Employee Engagement Important?

In this video I’m going to tell you why employee engagement is so important to you, to your business and to your community and world.

Hi! This is Jody Ann Johnson and welcome to another video.

If you’re new here, and you’re looking for business tips on how to have your business run better, grow your team, make more money, then subscribe, and click the bell so you don’t miss a thing.

Why is employee engagement so important?

Well it’s really quite simple. When people are engaged, they perform better and your business grows.

That’s it. It’s actually that simple.

There is a massive investment in employee engagement and employee engagement programs, and many of them are not working.

So why has employee engagement become such a huge topic, and such a big industry?

Well, the reason it is, is because although it’s that simple, it’s not an easy thing to do.

You see, employee engagement isn’t a thing. Employee engagement is actually a feeling, it’s an emotion.

And, how do you tap into the people on your team’s heart and emotion? It’s actually quite hard to put in place, if it’s not already there. You’ll have to reverse however long a time, maybe years, of people feeling disengaged.

The statistics from Gallup say that only 3 in 10 employees are actually engaged at work here in the US.

That leaves you 7 that are either unengaged or actively disengaged, sabotaging your business.

That’s a scary statistic!

Every workplace has to keep working at it. Said another way it’s never handled. Because you’re not dealing with machines you’re dealing with human beings and human beings can be messy at times. Let’s just admit even ourselves.

Great growth is all about the engagement of your team. The venture capitalists call this the engagement advantage.

There’s real money being left on the table when employee engagement is not working in your business!

Companies that enjoy high levels of employee engagement outperform their competitors by significant statistical numbers. As high as eight times what their competitors are doing!

And that advantage is an absolutely critical aspect of you being able to navigate through the disrupt in every industry that’s unfolding in our in our world right now.

People don’t leave a business. They leave a manager or supervisor or a boss that they don’t like that they don’t trust, that they don’t feel has their back, that they feel is indifferent towards them. They’ll leave.

Let me tell you a story about two managers I had in the emergency department where I used to work, many years ago.

One of them’s name was Steve. I didn’t like Steve. I didn’t trust Steve. All the things I just said, all of that was real for me with him.

Lee on the other hand was the reason I came to work at that hospital in the first place. I had worked with her in another facility and she was great. I knew she had my back. I liked her. I trusted her. I respected her.

So when they needed somebody to come in for an extra shift, when they were really busy, or someone had called in sick, if Steve was on my phone I wouldn’t even answer it.

If Lee called me, I said “What time do you need me to be there.” That made all the difference in how that actual day would go and unfold in that hospital. Somebody willing to come in because they knew they were valued. They liked, and trusted, that manager, versus somebody who wouldn’t even take their calls.

One of the best books that was written, has been years ago now, is by Pat Lencioni on the ‘Five Dysfunctions of a Team’. So let me take you through those those five levels on the pyramid.

The first one, at the base, is called an absence of trust. It’s almost impossible to build anything in an absence of trust on a team.

The next level above that is a fear of conflict. When there is no trust, people are unwilling to engage in what we call healthy ideological debate. They’re going to sit it out. They’re going to wait and see. And they’re going to avoid conflict.

As we climb the ladder from trust and fear of conflict, the next level is a lack of commitment. When people haven’t had a say and they don’t trust, they’re not committed. They’re not committed to anything other than defending, protecting and kind of keeping in their small world being safe.

Above that level is an avoidance of accountability. When there’s no accountability in a business, It’s pretty much a free for all. Stuff gets done, but it’s really not building anything.

At the next level is an absence of results. The absence of results keeps a business either flat or dissolving, but building doesn’t happen.

Now, as I said earlier, people leave supervisors, bosses and managers that they don’t like, don’t trust.

The game changer in business, right now, really is investing in your people and actually driving Eemployee engagement.

The rules of engagement really are the rules of human interaction. And while it’s simple, again it’s not easy.

Let’s talk about some of the reasons why it’s important.

People who are engaged come to work with a smile on their face. Engaged employees are 87 times more likely to stay, than disengaged employees!

They don’t call in sick!

The statistics are actually 2.69 days per year versus a disengaged employee which is 6.8 days out of the year. So if it’s raining outside, a disengaged employee doesn’t even want to come in!

Probably one of the biggest reasons why is, because engaged employees treat your customers better! And you will never have better customer service from an employee, than the way you treat that employee!

Some managers spend all their time looking at the numbers and they forget about the people side. Then you have other managers who spend all their time interacting with the people and forget about the numbers. A really smart business balances those two. They’re looking at the numbers and they’re tracking things ROI and things like that, but they’re also keenly aware that they live and die based on the engagement of their team.

When leaders talk to their people, listen to them, give them opportunities to grow, train and develop them, and keep them focused on the goals of the business and their own personal goals, they outgrow their competition. Hands down!

Let me talk a little bit about engagement, what it is and what it isn’t, because sometimes people think “Oh, it’s employee satisfaction,” or they have to be happy in the workplace, or they need or want more money.

It’s really not any of that!

They say, and I believe, that engagement is the emotional connection that an employee has to your organization. It’s the heart that they bring to your business. You can manage the body and the mind, but you really can’t engage the heart unless people feel that they are cared for.

And remember, in the beginning of the video, I was saying that engagement is challenging because it’s not a hard fast thing, it’s a feeling, it’s an emotion and that’s why it has to be tended over time. Because, as you know, even in yourself, your feelings might shift from moment to moment, certainly hour to hour, and throughout the day. So engagement is never handled.

If an employee is simply satisfied, they’ll take a call from that recruiter. If they’re happy, that’s not really enough, because they might be happy playing on their cell phone but that doesn’t mean that they’re actually producing the result that needs to happen in your business.

When someone is engaged they take ownership. They will give discretionary effort to productivity, to sales, to customer service, to being able to reach the company’s goals.

So, while all of this seems like soft stuff, it actually has a very hard ROI!

Employee engagement is the lever that can move the dial of your business.

It’s the secret sauce!

I think one of the most important things here, to get, is that disengaged employees cost your business in ways that you’re not considering. For one they take a lot more time to manage. They actually create greater and greater levels of tension between the colleagues in the workplace. They stir the pot. They will sabotage your productivity in ways that you may not be aware of. Maybe they won’t order the supplies that you need, so now you’re behind the deadline. They will do things consciously and unconsciously to create disrupt and upset in the business.

When you talk about an actively disengaged employee, they’re not just unhappy and difficult to manage. They’re actually resentful! And, they consciously do things to make things harder for your business to grow!

The good news is, that’s usually around maybe one to two out of that 10 employees, and, I’m sure that you know exactly who it is in your business, if you have one.

I want to give you a little bit of education into the biology of why this is happening, because you may think it’s all like emotions and such, but the important thing to realize is, that logic does not drive behavior.

The prefrontal part of our brain helps us to do thinking, but thinking doesn’t drive behavior. You may know the benefits of doing something, but, at the same time, go ‘you know, it it just doesn’t feel right.’

The limbic part of our brain, which is the aspect that drives behavior, is responsible for our emotions, doesn’t have access to language, that’s a prefrontal cortex attribute. So, in the feeling world, which drives behavior, we have to make sure that we’re considering the emotional environment that our team is operating in and manage that.

Another way of saying it is that, as a leader, your job is to manage the energy in the environment of your business, because that will drive behavior and behavior is what drives your productivity.

At the basic level of engagement, someone is asking themselves what do I get from being here. It’s all about, ‘What am I going to get?’

The next level of it is looking at, ‘OK, so what am I going to give?’ That’s the support level.

The next level is the teamwork level, and that is, ‘Do I belong?’ The feeling of belonging.

And the level after that is the growth level. It’s like, ‘OK, how do we grow?’

So you have these four levels, the Basic is what do I get, Support: what do I give, Team: do I belong. And then the last, Growth is: ‘All right, how can we grow?’ The first three levels are all about building trust. When the trust is intact, then people will give that extra energy to do the growth part.

I want to give you some statistics, I was promising you statistics, here they are. OK.

Highly engaged business units result in 21 percent greater profitability.

Highly engaged business units realized a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity.

Highly engaged business units achieve a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales.

Well, if you look at that, that might be the profitability and the revenue growth of your company that you were hoping for at the beginning of this year.

And this one I’m thrilled to be sharing this with you! OK.

Companies with engaged employees outperform those without engaged employees by 202%.

Their customer retention rates are 18 percent higher. So that reduces your marketing budget, which adds to your profitability.

I think the business case for engagement is really clear. I don’t think there’s any question that the business case for doing this is clear.

What’s unclear is, ‘How do we do it?’ And, ‘How do we measure it?’ Because we’re still of the mind where we need to measure the return on our investments, whether it’s money, time or energy. And those are the next videos that I’ll be doing.

Those of us business leaders have to understand that the job of understanding the people on our team is just as important as the job of marketing to understand our customers. And, it’s just as multifaceted and just as complex. So, we’ll put a lot of time, attention and energy into understanding how to market to our customers. And, just as much time, attention and energy is required in looking at what is it going to take for me to create an environment where my team is engaged.

It all comes down to human interaction and the best thing is we’re all humans so we can figure this out.

Thank you very much for watching this video. Please subscribe and be sure you click the bell so you don’t miss a thing.


The Importance of a Strategic Narrative for Every Business

A strategic narrative is central to a healthy company’s branding and their decision-making process. It’s the lens through which your small business perceives itself and the lens through which outsiders perceive your small business. It shapes your culture and strategy, casting a vision for the future and illuminating a path to get there. Your strategic narrative is unique to your company’s DNA and sets you apart from industry competitors.

What is a strategic narrative?

A strategic narrative is a compelling, concise and yet comprehensive story that captures your unique history and your vision as well as the way in which you as the owner, your employees and your customers can participate as co-contributors towards your unfolding story.

On, one writer explains that this narrative “[shows] people your landscape around them and the horizon in front of them.” It gives everyone who engages with your brand a place to belong and a sense of purpose.

Why is a strategic narrative important?

A company operating without a strategic narrative is like a rudderless boat on the rough seas – easily tossed by the wind and waves and lacking consistency and vision. A strategic narrative is the rudder that brings clarity, direction and purpose and moves a company towards a bright, foreseeable future.

When your small business implements your unique strategic narrative…

  • You achieve greater alignment and success
  • You create a sense of welcome and belonging for your employees and customers
  • You inspire employees, attract customers and engage influencers

I want to write a strategic narrative for my business. What are the essential components?

A strong sense of your purpose fueled by your values:
Make sure your narrative clearly states your mission. Why does your company exist? What does your company stand for? What compels you to wake up every day and do what you do?

A clear vision:
Where is your business headed? How are you planning to get there? How can your employees and customers partner with you to move towards your vision?

A strong value proposition:
How does your product or service improve people’s lives? Be bold, specific and authentic.

A strategic narrative is…

  • Compelling – You want people to take ownership of your narrative. Make sure it’s something they can relate to and stand behind.
  • Authentic – Tell it honestly. Speak it and then live it day in and day out, at work and away from work. People are savvy and can sniff out shallow words and hollow promises. On the other hand, authenticity drives employee engagement and customer brand engagement.
  • Relational – When you craft your narrative, engage people in a relational way. Think of your narrative as a bridge between your employee or customer and your brand. Form a human relationship, not an institutional one.
  • Empowering – Employees and customers want a stake in the bright future of your company – show them how they can take a hold of it.

At Sage Group, we help you tell your story and grow your business. If you want help crafting your strategic narrative, visit our website to connect!


Progress on Sustainability Goal #8

The United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs created The Agenda for Sustainable Development. This Agenda outlines a plan for “dignity, peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and in the future.” These goals are set in 15-year increments and through a collaboration among business entities worldwide, nearly all of the goals from the past 15 years were accomplished.

Nonprofits and government bodies don’t have the structure to address many of the effects of global economic inequality but business people are nimble and innovative and as such, are able to make a profound impact. Take for example, TOMS Shoes who, for every pair of shoes purchased, donates a pair of shoes to a child or adult in need. As of 2016, TOMS donated over 60 million pairs of shoes in economically impoverished countries such as Argentina, South Africa, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Haiti and Mexico – and dramatically improved the health, safety and quality of life for 60 million people (and counting!).

A recent article in the Miami Herald, “Miami-Dade’s economic inequality is the nation’s second-worst,” acknowledges a “small and shrinking middle class and a large workforce dependent on poorly paid service jobs…on par with Panama and Columbia.” The article cites the disparity between Miami’s richest of the rich and, on account of an economy based largely on hospitality and tourism, the vast majority of the population who earn some of the lowest wages in the nation. On account of the high cost of living and service class wages, many Miamians struggle to pay rent or a mortgage and put food on the table.

Living and working in Miami, the local economic climate tugs at our heartstrings and at the same time, we know that small businesses can make a big impact. This knowledge fuels our passion! That’s why, at Team Sage, we align our mission with The Agenda for Sustainable Development – Goal #8, which “promotes sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.” As Miami-based business coaches, we help Miami business owners run better businesses and pay out better salaries – the living wages that their employees deserve. We are B1G1 champions and champion our local businesses for the benefit of our local and global economy.

If you would like to learn more about how small businesses are making a big impact in the Miami area or are interested in learning more about The Agenda for Sustainable Development, contact us through our website. We would love to speak with you!


Made In Miami – Ilo Gear

Jody: Hello everybody. This is Jody Johnson. Welcome to Made In Miami, where we interview small businesses here locally to learn more about why they love doing business in Miami, how they got started in their business and what their advice would be for others who are about to start a business or looking to grow their businesses. Today we’re going to be with Liz Nieves of Ilo Gear.

 Hi Liz. Welcome to Made In Miami.

Liz: Hi Jody. Thank you so much. I’m super grateful to be here.

Jody: We’re delighted. So tell me a little bit about how people can find you, the name of the company, and the best way for them to be able to find you once they know how terrific you and your business are.

Liz: All right. So we’re very heavily on social media presence, so definitely on Instagram, it’s Ilo Gear. On Facebook, it’s the same. We also have the .com as well. And then, we do have a physical store here in Miami, which is our flagship.

Jody: OK. So Liz, tell me how did you start this business and why did you start this business.

Liz: I started this business out of necessity.  I am an immigrant, a Cuban immigrant. I am an only child from a single mother. And when my grandmother had passed away, I was 20 years old going to the University, majoring in biology, believe it or not.

Jody: Really.

Liz: Yes. Everybody thinks that’s very funny. She, my grandmother, passes away. And we lived in a very small efficiency. She used to receive food stamps, this was a great help when my mom worked in the factories in the 80’s and 90’s in the factories in Hialeah. So, my grandmother passes away. My mom has a heart attack six months later and I was basically up to feed us and pay the rent within that month.

Jody: Wow.

Liz: Yes. So, thankfully, I had taken sewing classes in high school. I went to work Coral Gables High.

Jody: You never know.

Liz: Yeah. Thank God for those home ec classes. Actually, I ended up receiving a scholarship for actually creating garments. I had a home ec scholarship that I used for FIU and I had a lot of friends that were dancers. And, I reached out to them and said, “Guys, I’m in desperate need. Whatever you need, I’m here. I can make anything for you guys. I need extra money.” And, sure enough I started that way. And before I knew it, it was like, you should make business cards. And then, I was like OK. And then I was like, why would I make business cards, I’m a biology major. And they’re like, No, you should do it. And then, now we’re here. And then, after 2015, after doing a lot of custom work and really having a very small mom and pop, very local business, at one of a kind, custom made, we decided, let’s take this national. Let’s grow. This was implemented and, thankfully, we’ve had you guys to come and help us tremendously with that. We created Ilo Gear, and so Ilo Gear now is a national brand. We do sell internationally. We’re in a few countries now.

Jody: Yeah, you were just in Italy right?

Liz: Correct. And in London as well.

Jody: Right. So tell us a little bit about what you’re doing exactly, because my understanding is you’re still doing the dance wear for the young dancers, but you’re also doing activewear. So say a little more about that.

Liz: Correct. So one of the things originally, when we created Ilo Gear, I decided I really wanted to go out into the active world. I’ve been an athlete my entire life. I’ve done a half Iron Man.

Jody: I can see.

Liz: Thank you. I’ve run marathons, half Iron Mans. I’ve done track and field since I was in middle school, so my mentor said to me, “you know you’ve been in the dance world you already, have an audience. You all ready have a clientele. If you launch under an activewear platform”, I’m sorry “dance wear platform, you would be able to have a return on investment right away.” And, so now for this year we’re actually launching the activewear portion of it and we’re very very excited.

Jody: OK good. So tell me about a challenge in the business and how you’ve been able to overcome it.

Liz: One challenge.

Jody: One challenge. Yeah. I guess it’s not a very well worded question, is it. Most entrepreneurs have lots and lots of challenges.  But, what’s one of them that you had, a big one that you overcame.

Liz: All right. So I think for me one of the biggest challenges that I overcome especially in the apparel industry is finance. Financial, or getting, you know, having capital and cash flow to launch the next collection and be able to have the proper marketing. Staying consistent. Staying on top of the market with an ever, super quick, changing market, right now, where people just want new product out every week. So, as a small brand, that we still are, we’re faced with those challenges. So I think it would be, my answer to be, Finance.

Jody: Cash flow?

Liz: Cash flow, correct.

Jody: Yeah. OK. And so, about other challenges. What are some of the ones that you see in your industry? You know that are common.

Liz: OK. So, as for here in South Florida, one of the things that, I mean, when I spoke about factories being here in 1980 in the 90s and there were many factories in Hialeah, we had all these Cuban immigrants and all these people that worked in a factory. So, right now we have a huge scarcity of that. We don’t have enough of Made in America here in Miami. It’s more in L.A. or in New York. So, it’s just now starting to come back a little bit more, and we’re able to find a lot more sourcing and factories here now. So, we’re really hopeful that we’ll be able to, one, have these factories here, and two, start getting in the labor force that would be able to work in these factories and manufacture Made in America products.

Jody: Yeah, because the state of Florida actually incentivizes manufacturing here in South Florida, but we also have to have the workers.

Liz: Very important, exactly. I actually have had this conversation before with a few other people and I really feel that if we, through education, at any of the vocational schools, we can get immigrants that are coming here and have them be legal through the education system and incorporate themselves into learning how to do and work in America, and be legal here, and understand what it is to be an American, and then incorporate them into our workforce. That would be an amazing, amazing incentive. It would be amazing for people coming in. I mean, I’m that. I’m that story, you know, and I’m so grateful that we were able to come to this country. And, that my mom was able to work in the factories. I mean look at where I am now. Look at what that led to.

Jody: So as an entrepreneur you have to juggle many, many things. You’re a mother, you’re a wife, you’re a business owner, you’re a superstar, so, how do you manage it all? How do you stay focused?

Liz: Meditation. So, I’ve done it on and off. I’ve done mindful meditation, specifically. I’m currently doing a class at UM. Right now. An MPSR class.

Jody: What’s an MPSR class

Liz: So, that is mindful stress reduction program. I mean, it just sounds really complicated but it really isn’t. It’s just an eight week course that you take that provides you with tools on how to handle stress, how to be able to be living more in the moment. At the end of the day, that’s the class. The rest is the practice. The rest is how committed you are to practicing every day. How you implement everything that you learn.

Jody: You get up early.

Liz: Yes.

Jody: And you run.

Liz: Yeah, I do. I don’t run as much anymore. Now I’m lifting weights because I feel that I’m getting a lot older, so it’s time to pump up those muscles a little more. A lot less running now. No more than three miles now.

Jody: So Liz, if you only had a thousand dollars to invest in your company what would you invest it in?

Liz: Yes. I’ve had this question happen before and people have asked me that. And I think it’s advertising. Right now, I’ve always said it, I would be just a small little warehouse manufacturing anything in Westchester, Miami, and nobody would know how amazing our product is, everything that the company stands for, what our message is to the world. If it wouldn’t be through advertising and there’s a lot of very cost effective ways to do it now, more than ever, with social media. It’s so simple to start it yourself and really be able to grow with that. And then, eventually, you do have to hand it over to a company, but it is an amazing tool. And so, you could do it very cost effectively at the very beginning, so a thousand dollars would actually go a very long way.

Jody: On Instagram or something like that?

Liz: Right, through social media. I think that social media outlets allow us to to do so much. And then, we have a Shopify platform for our website, so with that, it’s all integrated and it allows us to be able to click and go directly into the shopping market of it.

Jody: So what advice would you give to somebody who wanted to start a business?

Liz: Business plan. Yeah. Sign up with you guys. So yes.

Jody: What is it about the business plan that you think makes a difference? Because, sometimes, people go like what do we need a business plan for? Why do you think it’s important?

Liz: Well, one, I started without one. So now, looking back, that’s the reason I’m saying it. That’s one reason I’m saying it. Number two is for more than any other reason, not necessarily for investors, or for people to see it, or to have, to say you did it, is because it structures your head. It really asks you and makes you face questions that are so important for you to answer, that once you are in the business you’re just running a thousand miles an hour. When you’re a small business and an entrepreneur, you’re doing 17 jobs in one day. You’re cleaning bathrooms at same time that you’re writing checks, and you’re designing, and picking fabric, and seeing customers, and that all happens within a two hour span.

Jody: Right.

Liz: So, that allows you to really be able to work, you know, on the business, not just in business. Right? So, I feel that that would be my advice to someone.

Jody: Yeah, because we often advise people to do the business plan, not so you have the book, or the document, but so that you’ve done the thinking.

Liz: Correct.

Jody: Because let’s say you do go to an investor, or a bank, and you’re standing there, they know, because of how you speak, that you’ve actually done the thinking, whether they ever look at the document, or not.

Liz: That is correct.

Jody: They’re investing in you and your ability to pull it off. So, Liz, to finish up, what’s great about doing business in Miami.

Liz: So as somebody who travels a lot, I’m gone eight months out of the year, 10 to 20 days. There’s not one single time, that I don’t want to come back. I love coming back home, not just because of the beautiful weather that we have or the food, but more importantly the mix of culture that we have here. It really opens you up to being more set, to have more acceptance towards people. It actually is an empowerment when you do travel, especially for someone like me, that I had never traveled anywhere. I mean, because of where I come from, we didn’t have the financial means, but yet, I had met people from a lot of different places in the world. So, I think that that would be one of my number one reasons, aside from that I think we do have the most beautiful people in the world.

Jody: A lot of people speak to the wonder of the diversity of people that live here in Miami, the mix of cultures, and how this kind of sleepy southern town has become a real international city where everyone is welcome.

Liz: Correct, and and I feel that it truly is. And whether someone’s aware of it, or not, it is an asset to you. Whether you use it, or not, everyday, you’re dealing with people from all over the world, with their culture and their idiosyncrasies, and you have to deal with that in the business world, and you have to honor certain things that are important to them, that, if you only dealt with people that are uni-cultural, you wouldn’t have to do that. So, I think it also gives you, on a greater scale, that insight when you do step out of Miami, and are starting to do business nationally, or even internationally of course.

Jody: Yeah. Liz, thank you for being with us. It’s always a pleasure to be with you. And that is Made In Miami.


How to Fascinate

Brand fascination may sound a bit mysterious but it’s actually something we are all familiar with in our personal relationships. Do you ever feel like you gravitate towards someone because of their personality or the way they communicate? The same can be said for business relationships. The way you communicate your brand affects whether or not people are drawn into a relationship with your brand. Therefore, positioning your brand to fascinate your audience and draw them in is one key to attracting clients and operating a successful business.

So what are some key components of brand fascination?

A solid understanding of your company’s identity

Take time to assess what beliefs and values your company is built on and how you are pursuing your mission. Instead of the tendency to conform to the values of your competitors, own your uniqueness. Your company is like no other so quit apologizing for it. Instead, fascinate your audience and create a sense of intrigue by operating out of your unique perspective.

A solid understanding of who your customers are

By crafting your ideal customer persona, you can keep your marketing efforts in line with your customers’ interests and needs. Consequently, customers will gravitate towards you and come to view you as an expert in your field. This is brand fascination at its finest and a sure way to grow a successful business.

A well-crafted story

Everyone loves a good story. What’s yours? Continue to tell your story. It is a huge part of your branding. Over time, your story, your logo and your mission will become more integrated and increase your brand fascination. Also, carefully consider which platforms you’re using to tell your story. The platforms you choose impact the way you share it.


Be who you say you are and boldly live out your story. This builds credibility and helps you grow a loyal customer base. When your brand is perceived as reliable, trustworthy and authentic, more and more people will gravitate towards you and choose to do business with you – and your company will experience the momentum of brand fascination.

At ActionCOACH Team Sage, we fascinate with trust. Trust underpins everything we do. It informs our business development, all aspects of operation and all of our business processes and functions. It’s not about how we see ourselves but about how others see us and how they see our clients. It gives us the verbiage to connect with our ideal clients and it helps our clients do the same. With this sense of clarity, we can help our clients market their businesses and speak to the people they are meant to serve. With this solid foundation in place, innovation can flourish and success is inevitable. If you want help digging into your brand and how you can fascinate to attract your ideal clients, we would love to help. Visit our website to sign up for a complimentary strategic coaching session.