Tips for Home-Based Business Owners to Get Your Project Off and Running Fast

Gone are the days of needing a brick-and-mortar storefront and a traditional office space in order to run a successful business. If you have the right idea, a solid business plan, a smart company structure, and enough drive, you can make a home-based business just as successful as a traditional one. Here’s how to make sure you hit the ground running.

Don’t Delay on the Upfront Administrative Stuff

Once you have your money-making idea and a solid business plan, you want to get the ball rolling as soon as possible. You can’t wait for everything to be right before you start growing your business — that’s because there will never be a time when everything is right. Don’t put off setting your business up to succeed legally, financially, and administratively. This includes getting your employment ID number, registering your business name, getting your license, setting up your taxes, filing for any necessary permits, and more.

Find Solid, Long-Term Employees Early

Many small businesses lose money on things like employee turnover, hiring costs, retraining, etc. You can avoid these financial losses by hiring qualified, dedicated employees early on who have the potential to be long-term contributors to your business. In other words, take the time upfront to find the best employees. One way to do this is to hone your interviewing skills. A resume doesn’t always tell the complete picture; it’s the interview that lets you ask the right questions to figure out if the candidate is truly the correct person for the job.

Don’t Get Married to a Single Marketing Strategy

Without customers and clients, even the best business ideas will fail to thrive. Marketing and self-promotion should occupy a large majority of your time — especially at the beginning. You should employ multiple strategies for this; don’t get bogged down on just a couple. Try traditional strategies alongside modern, internet-based strategies.

The first task is to get your internet presence up and running — your website, various social media outlets, search engine optimization (for visibility), etc. However, don’t discount older marketing methods: sponsor local events, go door-to-door, send out a press release to local news outlets. The point is to find customers however you can.

Know How to Stay on Task and Productive at Home

The great thing about working from home is that you get to be at home. However, this can also be a detriment to your productivity if you’re not careful. At home, we are surrounded by easy distractions: make a snack, take a nap, watch a movie, do household chores. All of these things will prevent you from giving your business the same focus you would give it if you were in an office away from home. Increase your productivity by following these simple tips.

  • Get up and get dressed for success. Don’t just hang around in your pajamas. You need to feel like you’re “at work.”
  • Have designated office hours and office space. Don’t give yourself too much freedom. Have a time and place to get things done.
  • Make your home clean and decluttered. Clutter is distracting, and you don’t want distractions getting in the way.

Your home-based business can succeed as long as you treat it like you would any other, more-traditional business. There are differences, of course, but at its core, your home-based business needs solid employees or at least freelance workers, comprehensive marketing strategies, and a solid focus on productivity. “At-home” doesn’t mean easy, so put in the time and energy to get your project up and running fast.

Photo by rawpixel

Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.

The Big Picture: How Perspective and Incremental Progress Can Help You Manage Stress

As a seasoned business professional, it goes without saying that you knew stress would be a major factor in your life as a new business owner. But knowing it and coping with it are two very different things. After all, there are people depending on you to succeed — people in the office and people at home. Stress is a fact of life for any business owner, which is why it’s so important to develop a coping strategy. The stress is always there, and it can undermine your mental and physical health if you let it. Here are some ideas that have proven successful for business owners in many different industries. Hopefully, you’ll find something here that can help you.

Go Easy on Yourself

This sounds trite, but it’s essential to give yourself a break. It’s an idea that goes against the grain for many business people, as you’ve been trained to do whatever it takes to succeed, whether that means making personal sacrifices or working extra-long hours. It makes no sense to hold yourself to an impossible standard if it means running yourself into the ground and being unfit to perform as needed. If things don’t go your way, try using it as a learning opportunity. Some of the most successful executives have learned more from their failures than from their successes. Being unrelentingly tough on yourself will only leave you perpetually dissatisfied and unable to appreciate what you’ve achieved.

Financial Stress

For small business owners, finances are a constant source of stress because making ends meet while getting a business off the ground can be very difficult. Consider whether a small business loan, such as debt financing or equity financing, would help alleviate some of that stress by providing a “cash cushion” during leaner times. Unexpected expenses often crop up, like needing to replace equipment or staff members. Having the wherewithal to make it happen when needed is a tremendous relief, and it can help reduce your stress at work and home.

Take a Step Back

Maintaining your perspective is crucial for a business owner. Presumably, you took on the burden of running a business to benefit your family and control your own destiny. If you find yourself losing sight of those objectives, incorporate things like getting healthier or becoming more well-rounded into your thinking. That will help reconnect you with the “big picture.”

Trust Your System

It stands to reason that if you’ve become a business owner, you know how to manage your time and maximize your personal assets. Whatever your personal routine might be, it’s worked well for you thus far. Trust it. Don’t worry about fine-tuning how you prioritize, plan, and deal with staff. You’re successful because you’ve developed successful habits. The point of a routine is to help simplify things so the stress of hiring, making important decisions, and developing business plans doesn’t overwhelm you. Of course, don’t trust your system to the point of limiting your options. For example, if you’re new to the world of social media, don’t limit your ability to connect with clients by failing to investigate the benefits of advertising on Facebook or boosting your Instagram following. It’s all about finding that delicate balance and listening to your gut.

Hit Singles, Not Home Runs

If you’re swinging for the fences every time, you’re usually going to be disappointed with the results. Expecting home runs with every endeavor will only ratchet up your stress level. Instead, try to assess yourself in terms of measurable progress. You should have an incremental, not an all-at-once, mindset. It’s much healthier when it comes to controlling stress. In other words, think about how you’re doing today compared with yesterday. You’ll be able to look back on how far you’ve come and to determine where you’re headed.

Stress can destroy the dream of owning your own business if you’re not paying attention. You can’t devote the necessary energy to the task if you’re worn down, and you certainly can’t appreciate the experience if you’re never satisfied with results. Maintain perspective and focus on measurable, achievable goals as you move forward.

Ms. Morris is a life and career coach who strives to help others live the best lives that they can. She believes she can relate to clients who feel run over by life because of her own experiences. She spent years in an unfulfilling career in finance before deciding to help people in other ways.

Taking on Entrepreneurship: Leaving a Steady Job and Building “Community Connect”

Community Connect Consulting is a Chicago-based project management consulting company providing a consolidated approach to creating sustainable and dynamic organizations. Led by Becky Adelberg, a passionate connector and shining star of the Jewish non-profit world in Chicagoland, Community Connect Consulting will help you develop effective programming, foster community relationships and establish a long-term vision for your organization.

Following years working in the Jewish non-profit sector, Becky decided to fully devote her time to her own venture and helping other organizations thrive. Her clients include companies at all stages of growth – from the smallest start-ups to the biggest corporations. We talked to Becky about what it feels like to leave the safe waters of regular paychecks and to head towards the insecure albeit exciting unknown.

  1. How did you know when was the right time to take the leap and seriously commit yourself to your business?

I had the idea several years ago but then I was busy running an entrepreneurship fellowship and teaching entrepreneurship, so I didn’t have time to work on my own venture. Then, in January 2017, I did a soft launch of the business and saw that I was getting a few clients without marketing myself. In November 2017 I was presented with the opportunity to have a part-time job, which would have allowed me to focus on my business for the rest of time. Following my experience with launching a non-profit a long time before, coupled with my experience teaching entrepreneurship, I decided that I finally wanted to live this as well.

  1. What are the major considerations in making such a decision – leaving a steady job and devoting your time to building a business?

I think you need to be mentally ready and you need to know what kind of entrepreneur you are – there are some who go all in and there are some who do it part-time in addition to their day jobs. I always knew I was a combination of both, I needed to have some kind of consistent income while working on my business.

The considerations are that when you are on a contract, there is no guarantee, it is like a shift in your mindset. You have to become better at time management because your time is your own. At the same time you have to balance. I have always believed in work-life balance but when you are passionate about your venture, you can burn out easily so you need to take care of your time so that you don’t take it from the other areas of your life. Now I feel healthiest I have been so far but it constantly a work in progress.

You also have to set boundaries for yourselves – I could work until midnight but you really need to create a lifestyle that you want and you need to realize that there are going to be ups and downs to everything you do. Ask for support and try to meet with other people that do different things so that you are not silo-ed. 

  1. Were you consciously preparing for this decision ahead of time? Or did the stars align?

It was a combination of both. I had planned this for a long time, I had a vision and started putting pieces in place and then the stars aligned for this to happen. Then it was like …. that’s when you see that you have free will … but you have to make a decision so I took a chance. If it had happened earlier, I might not have been ready for this but I was ready now.

  1. And how do you know that you are ready for it?

When you weigh the pros and cons – but, there should be some scariness to it. It feels exciting and you get excited thinking about it and that’s what life is about, you need to take calculated risks 

  1. What single piece of advice would you give to someone who is considering leaving a permanent job to start their own company?

It has to be something that you want to work on all the time. If you don’t feel that excited, then maybe you should not be considering doing it full time. Balancing is very important because the work never stops. Be open to things shifting. In fact, they should be shifting because this means that your business is growing and moving. My business model has shifted several times, and even over the past year, I have pivoted several times. 

  1. What motivates you?

My dreams. Community. Passionate people making a change for the better.  Achieving things I never thought were possible.

 

 Becky Adelberg

Becky is the Founder of Community Connect Consulting.  She is highly experienced at business development and project management having launched two successful companies.  In addition, she has worked with dozens of organizations to expand their reach through the execution of large community events, strategic partnerships, volunteer management, leadership development, fundraising and travel abroad initiatives.  Becky has also overseen a social entrepreneurship program for four years, taught entrepreneurship to new immigrants and coordinated a teen summer program focused on entrepreneurship, while in turn, helping over a hundred entrepreneurs gain the skills valuable to apply to their own businesses. She is a frequent lecturer, serves as the Chicago coordinator for Reboot, a mentor at 1871 Chicago, a voice over artist and a meditation instructor.

She holds a BA in Communications from the University of Kansas, an MA in Jewish Studies & Education, from Siegal College of Jewish Studies and a Certificate in Jewish Leadership from Northwestern and Spertus Institute of Jewish Learning.  She has a track record for being a community connector, who thinks of and executes fresh, innovative and creative solutions to maximize a business mission and reach. In her free time, you can find her traveling, spending time in nature, doing yoga, writing and photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Katia Kobylinski
Katia Kobylinski is an avid brand strategist & social entrepreneur. To merge her passions for causes, stories and arts, she founded ‘creative: for good’ – a virtual ad agency that connects millennial artists and nonprofits for advertising for the good – at JCC Chicago’s start-up incubator Seed613. Katia loves city life, hummus & company.

The Art of Risk-Taking: Creative Strategies to Facing the Uncertain

Los Angeles last month saw the largest annual gathering of Jewish community visionaries, activists, and catalyzers of change in North America, led in partnership by UpStart and ROI Community, the Collaboratory.

This year’s topic of the Collaboratory was ‘The Art of Risk Taking’. The ability to navigate risk is one of the most useful skills to have in our professional and personal lives. No journey is risk free and being able to face risk, evaluate it and overcome it often differentiates between success and failure, happiness and unhappiness. According to difficulty is the reward, we read in Pirkei Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers), and risk adds to the difficulty.

Those who succeed take risks. In truth, “I wish I had taken more risks” is one of most common regrets people cite at the end of their lives. Many feel that the possibility of failure made them play too safe. They also felt that taking more risk and disturbing the status quo would have yielded a more fulfilling life.

Risk-taking is an art. And there is a science to this art. We make about 35,000 decisions per day – from the moment we open our eyes and decide (not) to turn off the alarm clock. As children, we only face around 3,000 decisions per day so adulthood is quite an upgrade to this gamble.

Knowing which risks to take and how to take them can be a powerful tool to stack the odds in our favor. Some of the basic pieces of advice to face the risk include to have as much information as possible, assess risk, and learn from failure. In order to hone your risk-taking skills more, here are a few guidelines from design thinking – an approach that uses creative strategies to problem solving.

  1. Challenge the assumptions: Think outside the box and challenge even the long-held beliefs. Sometime we fail because we cannot let go of the past but it is impossible to assess the future if we are only headed backwards. Learn from the past mistakes but move on.
  2. Ask why: Always ask why, even if you think that you know the answer. More often than not, you may learn that you actually don’t know the answer. The answer can also surprise you and expose the uncertain ahead.
  3. Identify inconsistencies: Sometimes what people say and what people do are two different things. Observe behaviors of those around you and be on the lookout for inconsistencies – they can flash out the potential risks.
  4. Be empathetic: Empathy is one of the key principles of design thinking. It forces us to imagine “walking in someone else’s shoes” thus revealing challenges and concerns around us.
  5. Encourage stories: Stories might not predict future risks well but they expose the breadth of the views and opinions in the world. Stories can unearth perspectives and solutions that have not been considered yet.

Life, in all its beauty and struggle, is unpredictable. Every decision we make has a margin of risk and the life we end up living depends on those decisions. While there always is a chance that our desired tomorrow will never come or the actual tomorrow will never come, there are risks in our professional and private lives that are worth taking because they are almost always necessary ingredients in the recipe that is success and happiness.

And the last piece of advice comes from the great French poet Rene Char:

“Trust firmly in your luck, cling to your happiness and dare to take risks. They will see you and learn to accept you.”

Katia Kobylinski
Katia Kobylinski is an avid brand strategist & social entrepreneur. To merge her passions for causes, stories and arts, she founded ‘creative: for good’ – a virtual ad agency that connects millennial artists and nonprofits for advertising for the good – at JCC Chicago’s start-up incubator Seed613. Katia loves city life, hummus & company.

Creating Events That Have Impact

Arts festivals have a way of making real impact and change on the sociological landscape. The International Shalom Festival, for example, has helped change the narrative in Scotland, by eliciting the public support of all three main political party leaders. The 2017 International Shalom Festival grew from a one-day event in 2016 to a three-day expo which brought 40 Israeli artists to the Edinburgh Fringe, the world’s biggest arts festival. 

In January 2016 the festival was only an idea. So how did it become the grand scale event that it is today?

If we don’t know where we are going, any road will do.  The key to successful event planning is having a clear vision. A team needs to be gathered, one that is conscious of the vision, commanded by it and committed to it. This should be played and replayed with cheerful relentlessness. Our vision was to have a crowded venue full of happy people enjoying the exuberance and diversity and richness of Israel’s culture: music, food, drama, craft, dance, literature. And that is exactly what we got.

The team needs to be motivated to realise the vision. It needs to be led by either a charismatic or competent figurehead, and ideally both! Small teams work best. Meeting frequently but relatively briefly tends to create more impact. Members need to communicate, cooperate and coordinate. We found that a WhatsApp group worked very well.

Many different skill sets are needed, but the most crucial skill is matching existing skills to a need. We divided up these needs into categories: artistic direction, executive functions, music direction, catering, security, PR, hospitality, accommodation, volunteers, and put a member of the team in charge of each remit.

On the tech and marketing side of things: We made sure we had an attractive logo, secured an illustrious patron, set up a Facebook page and off we went.

Our small team of 10, which we never called a committee, were all unpaid and gave enormous amounts of time pro bono. If any of us had charged the market rate for professional services there could never have been a festival. Some expertise had to be bought in: web design, PR in Israel, technicians, but apart from that, and one performer insisting on a fee (never work with someone’s agent!), this was a voluntary labour of love.

Love is central. We cannot give what we don’t have to give: people united by love for achieving a noble cause will stand up for each other. You will never hear a bad word against each other and be able to move mountains together. In our case, we wanted to be motivated by the only thing that would overcome the hatred of those who had driven out Jerusalem’s Incubator Theatre from the 2014 Edinburgh Fringe: ahava (love). Love for what is good, decent, worthy. Such a spirit is irrepressible, will catch and carry others in its brightness, and sustain through the inevitable times when there are sharp edges and it seemed like we would never get there. But we did.

One factor that we needed to devote more time to was fundraising. If you have someone who loves doing it, is good at it, or really wants to learn how to do it, then great. But we didn’t. This is one reason why Jewcer is so important, because it can carry much of this burden in an effective and attractive way. Money gives you so many more options, and this is why we have asked Jewcer to help us for the next International Shalom Festival later this year.

 

Nigel Goodrich
I spent twenty-five years in private and public sector middle and senior management in three different educational systems, following which I set up my own personal assistant services business. I gave up that business to establish and lead twenty Friends of Israel groups around the UK and found the International Shalom Festival. I now work full-time as an advocate for Israel building an effective network in the UK and Europe to promote the Jewish state as a modern democracy whose achievements are outstanding.

3 Tips for Balancing Work and the Jewish Calendar

Passover is coming, and with it, some serious anxiety about how it’s going to impact my productivity here at Books and Blintzes.

Now don’t get me wrong. I actually love celebrating Passover! It’s a holiday that requires me to do lots of experimental cooking (kosher for Passover recipes have come a long way!) and reading preparation (there’s always a new hagaddah to explore!). But the cooking and cleaning and actual observance of yom tov, not to mention taking care of house guests and a child on a school break, doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for checking in, let alone keeping up, at the office.

The good news is, that it IS possible to celebrate the Jewish holidays in a meaningful way while keeping on track with our entrepreneurial goals. Here are my 3 main strategies for striking the balance between a joyful Pesach and keeping my work on-track.

1. Plan Ahead:

With tools like hebcal.com, Jewish holidays can be added to our work years in advance. While working for ourselves often means that our schedules are unpredictable, the Jewish holidays are not. My strategy is to ensure that routine tasks are identified and taken care of ahead of time, leaving me with the creative energy I need to deal with the surprises that will come up. Using social media posting services such as Buffer helps me to plan out my strategic content, giving me the flexibility to respond to more urgent matters.

The month before Jewish holidays are also an excellent time to double check your financial tools. I’ll be taking an extra look (and then another) at my cash flow and preparing all bill payments. The true meaning of freedom? The security of knowing that what you’ve been working on will still be there waiting for you. And on that note, make sure to schedule a back-up of your electronic files a few days in advance. Just in case.

2. Manage Expectations:

At work, at home, and in your own head, the Jewish holidays come with a whole lot of expectations. Whether you are traditionally observant and taking off for the chagim means being completely unplugged or you want to take the time to focus on something else, make sure you let your clients know ahead of time that things are going to slow down. While an out-of-office message on your voicemail, texts, and email are essential, help lessen everyone’s frustration by giving them a heads-up that you’ve got a couple of weeks that are not going to be business as usual.

Will you be traveling? Provide specific times and issues about which you CAN be reached. Does your family expect you to give them your unexpected attention while they visit for 10 days? Will you have additional community obligations? Now is the time to talk to ANYONE who believes they have a claim on your time and attention over the holidays. Spend some time thinking about what you will need from others (2 hours of uninterrupted computer or telephone time? unfettered access to a vehicle for client visits?) and what you can offer in return (grocery shopping? alternating child care with neighbors?). Setting these expectations in advance will prevent additional frustration and interrupted productivity when the holidays are in full swing.

3. Make the Holidays Work for You

For Jewish entrepreneurs, the holidays present an extra complication. Yes we want to take time to celebrate with our families and communities, but often our work load intensifies as we turn our efforts to ensuring that our customers and audiences have the tools they need to maximize their holiday experiences. This is when it helps to remember why we are so committed to our organizations. Ideally, our work encourages communication between ourselves and those we serve. What instruments have you developed to collect feedback from your customers? Jotform.com, Google Forms, Survey Monkey, and other programs can help you gather invaluable information to help you direct your efforts the next time the holidays roll around. Knowing that you are spending your time creating resources and providing services that meet your organizational goals and audiences’ needs will give your morale an extra boost to make sure that things get done!

 

 

 

Deborah Miller
A life long reader and food lover, Rabbi Deborah Miller founded Books and Blintzes to share her enthusiasm for the worlds of Jewish literature and cuisine. Understanding that the creative arts are one of the fundamental ways in which people express their connection to Judaism and that our diversity is one of the Jewish community’s greatest resources, she expanded Books and Blintzes to include all forms of art, and is devoted to the inclusion of voices from across the Jewish world. Rabbi Miller was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2011 and is a Board Certified Chaplain.

What Does Purim Teach Us?

Many a rabbi has pointed out the midrashic wordplay that indicates that Yom Kippur is, in fact “a day like Purim” (Yom haKi-Purim). Others have noted that some sources indicate Purim to be the holiest Jewish Calendar day of them all. At the heart of Purim does, in fact, lie the holiest deed that any human being can commit oneself to.

For all of us, Jewish or otherwise, the Book of Esther is a celebration of triumph against greatly unfavorable odds.

On the one hand, the King of Persia (whose name has perplexed people reading the text out loud in English translation for centuries) has a temperament that is difficult to predict and a personality that is very difficult to define. On the other hand, there is Haman, who deems himself very powerful, very worthy of respect and has step-by-step and concrete visions for a plan to kill all Jews in the kingdom.

In their midst to clandestinely thwart Haman’s efforts are Mordechai and Esther, who do not feel empowered by the circumstances at all and often speak between themselves in uncertain terms in realizing their plan to save the Jews (in contrast to Haman’s confidence).

Despite that, they always, ALWAYS act on a plan, even when the strategy or the circumstances may not be absolutely sound.The story is a very holy one because it indicates that paralysis from fear or over-analysis is the antithesis of divine vision, and that seizing the day, however the day may be, is a divine attribute, found in many other heroes of Hebrew scriptures such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Aaron and virtually ALL of the others.

Even when Esther thinks of the possibility of having herself and her people destroyed, she still presses onwards. Yom Kippur also contains very much a similar idea–that despite the numerous difficult circumstances created by our misdeeds–on a personal, communal and national level (if not in fact considering the whole human species)–we will nonetheless ask to move forward by being written and sealed in the Book of Life.

Purim is, above all, a celebration of risk taking, to which we as a species and Jews the world over (as well as other peoples) owe all of our accomplishments.

Purim and Yom Kippur also come at times of the year in which the seasons are waning away, in which winter despondency gives way to celebration and the mirth of the sun’s rays gives way to solemnity. In both holidays, despite everything, there is sadness and reflection on this sadness but never paralysis, and this reflects the type of determination that entrepeneurs, visionaries and resistors need to embody in 2018 and beyond.

As the head of my own company, I think of all of the ways that I have needlessly been hindered by my own self-doubt and limiting beliefs. Esther and Mordechai could have done the same, but then I wouldn’t exist and by extension the Jewish people would have been a memory.

On Purim I revel in the possibility that we will embrace who we truly are, with our primal optimism, and reflect the very best aspects of the human experience, unfettered by negative emotions weighing us down, that any Supreme God or human being would be very proud of.

Happy Purim to all you risk takers out there, and to all who have yet to take a chance. Go on, have the first bite!

jared.gimbel
Jared Gimbel teaches Jewish and Nordic languages and also sometimes works as a seasonal synagogue cantor. Having mastered 18+ languages spanning almost all continents, he also works as a translator from various languages into English. His new video game, “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures”, a cartoon adventure game set in contemporary Greenland, is set for release in 2018. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

Tu B’Shvat: The Jewish Holiday Intended for Everyone  

Most Jews in the U.S. today would associate Tu B’Shvat, the Jewish New Year for the Trees, with something like the American Earth Day. Even Jews from outside of the U.S. are likely to associate it with ecological awareness and environmental protection (possibly due to global attention rightly paid to these issues). In antiquity, far before humanity was aware of its ability to damage the biosphere, Tu B’shvat occupies an intriguing place in the Jewish calendar as a day of everyday agricultural workers.

The Pilgrimage Festivals (Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot) involved priestly ritual and the Temple in Jerusalem, as did the high holidays. Hannukah and Purim involve people in positions of power as the heroes. In contrast to these holidays, Tu B’Shvat is primarily a holiday about ordinary work and ordinary cycles, which is important to consider given that the priesthood and the royalty, despite being the Children of Israel along with everyone else, had a sense of detachment from the general populace. A lot of Jewish day school narratives, both when discussing Jewish history as a whole as well as the background for many holidays, focus on “big guys”, such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David and their families. Often what isn’t present is the fact that the entire story is usually, especially in the Five Books of Moses, on the Children of Israel themselves. Despite struggling with both their leaders and God, they are not just what makes the story, they ARE the story.

It is far too easy to lose sight of the fact that it is often the masses in Jewish history that have been the most important and influential, although seldom are any of them given a voice (as is the case in much of the world with any people group). In an age in which a lot of young Jews are clamoring for acceptance in communities, Tu Beshvat can help us think about how the Jewish experience has had many dimensions in which people of all trades were not only involved but very deeply involved. The Jewish story in the Bible isn’t only one about high priests and kings, nor is the one in the Talmud only about sages—it involves the whole of the people. While many other holidays may celebrate the Temple rites or singular Biblical heroes, Tu B’shvat is a holiday for those orchard laborers in Judah and Israel whose stories were never told.

From entrepreneurial standpoint, this understanding of Tu B’shvat is essential, especially now. Many entrepeneurs of contemporary times tend to focus on individual characters (such as CEO’s, bosses, well-known heroes and paragons of the craft) rather than big collectives that history may have not given a strong voice. But what about those lacking that strong voice? What can business leaders learn from partaking of a rite that resembles the life of the ordinary farmer?

Individualism and competition in the world, rather than collectivism, has sometimes been a toxic influence, and Tu B’shvat is about the wholesomeness of the human story as well as the agricultural and ecological experience. Above all, this holiday serves as a reminder that, despite our accomplishments, our ancestors were largely ordinary laborers and we owe a lot to them and need to learn from their example.

 

 

jared.gimbel
Jared Gimbel teaches Jewish and Nordic languages and also sometimes works as a seasonal synagogue cantor. Having mastered 18+ languages spanning almost all continents, he also works as a translator from various languages into English. His new video game, “Kaverini: Nuuk Adventures”, a cartoon adventure game set in contemporary Greenland, is set for release in 2018. He currently lives in Brooklyn.

CRMs for Nonprofits: Improve Your Constituent Relationships

The use of “Customer Relationship Management” or “Constituent Relationship Management” (CRM) systems is standard in for-profit businesses, however, many nonprofits are yet to embrace the power of CRM as a donor management tool. Many still rely on spreadsheets, or a loosely connected combination of various tools to track donor engagement, volunteers, campaigns, and other critical functions that sustain and grow nonprofits.

The benefits of investing in a good CRM—several of which are free—far outweigh the time and financial costs, as it simplifies daily operations and effective outreach.

Using CRMs opens up new ways of doing things more efficiently and more effectively. And as your organization grows, you can scale this essential nonprofit tech to suit current needs. These programs can serve both the small volunteer-based nonprofit to the multi-million-dollar international nonprofit organization. A simple spreadsheet cannot effectively handle such a scale of operation in a multiuser, multi-location environment.

Benefits of Using a CRM for Nonprofits

Coordinated Communication

Maintain an easy flow of information among volunteers, donors, board members and service recipients. Since nonprofits can have so many people to manage, using a CRM eliminates much of the complication and reduces the chances of mistakes in communications.

Efficient Processes

Time and money are essential to every nonprofit (and indeed, every business); streamlined processes available from a robust CRM help save both.

Preservation of Organizational Knowledge

As time goes by, your organization learns things about its supporters, its processes, and best practices. In most traditional settings, the knowledge exists in individuals. With a CRM, this knowledge gets preserved in the system, allowing the organization to keep running smoothly even when key individuals leave.

Visibility of Relationships

At the click of a button you are able to see all the relationship running across the organization. It shows a record of events, emails, volunteer contacts and donations, among other types of essential information. You don’t have to dig through tons of information (and cobble together multiple spreadsheets) to get to what you need.

Simplified Data Management

With a great CRM, you can create a new marketing campaign or plan an event with just a few clicks, even targeting specific people based on donation or participation levels. These tasks can be time-consuming if you work the “time-tested” way with Excel or Google Sheets, a separate email system and donation system.

In-Depth Knowledge of Your Benefactors

Using a CRM opens up a whole world of information about your donors, volunteers, and other contacts you track. You will get to know their interests, what they respond to, and even (with some systems) what they share on social media, so you can best appeal to them.

Features to Look for in a Nonprofit CRM

The landscape of online CRMs is getting crowded, with several big players and a lot of specialty systems created just for nonprofits. Whether you need all of the bells and whistles of the paid platforms or can use one of the free (and still powerful) ones depends on your needs.

Here’s a checklist of features to consider when choosing your nonprofit’s CRM:

Workflow Automation

A CRM that makes it easy to automate common processes like receiving donations, thanking donors, sending out mail-merge email campaigns to people who meet specific criteria, creating follow-up tasks, and sending weekly activity summaries can save the organization a lot of your most precious resource: time.

Collaboration and Sharing

It should allow all the employees to work on common projects and share both information and resources.

Easy to Scale Up or Down

A system that will grow with you, supporting a larger donor base, adding or eliminating functionality based on your needs.

Managing Overlaps

A good donor management application should be able to maintain and clearly show any overlap in the stakeholders. For example, a volunteer becoming a donor, a beneficiary becoming a donor, etc. Instead of spending hours sorting out duplications and comparing data, the organization can spend the time building relationships.

Simplifying & Unifying Processes Across Departments

Depending on what your nonprofit does (or wants to do on a regular basis), a centralized system for donor management, engagement, email, marketing, and even fundraising, allows the whole organization to work together seamlessly.

Access Control

Nonprofits rely on volunteers, interns and various staff members to keep things moving. Since many people might be working from the same database, the program should allow for restrictions to functions depending on the tasks and role of the user.

Data Integrity

Working from a decentralized (cloud-based) system can pose security risks, if your data is not properly protected. Some systems will allow you to install on your own server, but that could introduce added costs of hosting and maintenance.

Getting Your Nonprofit Started with a CRM

There are many options for CRMs out there, some more daunting than others. Choosing the right one for your organization depends on your current resources, technical expertise and, of course, your needs.

We rounded up a few top-rated platforms and outlined the uses, pros, cons and costs of each to get you started.

Civi CRM – Open source CRM, event management, donations/payments, volunteer management platform and more, for charities & nonprofits.

Neon CRM – Donor management, event management, donations/payments, volunteer management platform and more, designed specifically for nonprofits.

Salsa CRM and Salsa Engage – Powerful online, mobile and social fundraising software and constituent relationship management tool.

GiveGab – An agile platform specifically tailored for nonprofit donor and relationship management.

Insightly – CRM that allows you to organize and track your current and potential donors.

Hubspot CRM – A totally free customer relations management tool that allows you to organize and track your current and potential donors.

This article was originally published on dotOrgStrategy.com

Boris of dotOrgStrategy.com
Boris is the founder of dotOrgStrategy, a platform for teaching nonprofits how to effectively use technology to achieve and expand their missions, without over-stretching their resources; and Speed of Like, a boutique digital agency focusing on small businesses, startups, and nonprofits. A storyteller and entrepreneur, Boris is excited to combine his passions for technology, storytelling, and making a positive difference in the world by helping organizations increase impact locally and globally, through digital tools including websites, social media, email, advertising and crowdfunding.

Top 5 Business Ideas for 2018

Whether you are a serial entrepreneur looking for the next big thing, or you are looking to make a change and finally start your own business, we think this list can help spark that creative energy for anyone looking to make it big in 2018!

1. Kid-friendly apps

“Tens of millions of kids are using smartphones and tablets these days, and there’s money to be made. In fact, three-quarters of children have access to a mobile device. That’s big business if you know how to develop apps—or if you’re creative and know how to hire people who do. Focus on health and wellness-driven apps first to get the parents on your side. Big opportunity.” — Multiple Streams research

2. Virtual Reality (VR) 

“Virtual reality (VR) is an impressive facet of modern technology. With a pair of goggles and the right computer hardware, you can immerse yourself in a variety of fascinating worlds using VR. If you aren’t the most computer-savvy person you know, never fear — you don’t have to be a programming genius to create a VR-centered business. In fact, most VR-related business ideas have nothing to do with the technology itself. Rather, you can start your own VR industry update website, where you write about new tech, games, software, and more. You can sell creative cardboard headsets (like Google Cardboard, but cooler). If you are good at the programming side of things, you can create your own games and software . . . or you can help car companies and real estate agencies create virtual experiences. ” — Entrepreneur Magazine

3. Affiliate Marketing

“Affiliate marketing is basically the process of earning a commission by promoting somebody else’s product. There are two main ways most people do affiliate marketing: 1. Information products. Here, you promote products like ebooks, membership sites, video series, etc. This type of affiliate marketing can earn you up to 50% or more in commission, has relatively low barriers to entry, and it’s easy to find products to promote. 2. Amazon partners. Many affiliate marketers have success with Amazon. There are literally millions of products to choose from, and it can be quite profitable. For more information, you can check out the Amazon Associates Program.” — Website Setup

4. Website Rentals

“It’s 2016 — these days, everyone calls themselves a web developer. But do you know what very few people tend to say they do? Rent websites. You read that correctly: creating websites from scratch for specific companies is now the old way of generating revenue from Web clients. Instead, Web devs are creating several websites at a time for a certain niche, then renting customizable versions of each site to local businesses. The businesses pay monthly for a website the developer maintains. It’s a great way to make passive income and expand your existing Web dev business — as long as you know what you’re doing.” — Entrepreneur Magazine

5. Tiny Houses 

“They let you travel the country without paying for pricey hotel rooms. Even with full amenities, they cost far less than a normal-size home — Tumbleweed’s tiny houses start at about $10,000. They’re cuter and more practical than RV’s, and they’re (almost) fully customizable…No, tiny houses aren’t just a fad you see on HGTV; they also make up an entire movement and an awesome business idea. Though a couple companies already offer them, those companies don’t take advantage of the full range of possibilities. Very few tiny houses are stylishly decorated, and even fewer are optimized for pets. Maintenance companies tend to ignore the tiny house demographic, too — that’s another business idea, right there.” — Entrepreneur Magazine

 

There are endless opportunities out there for those of you who have the passion and the drive! If anyone has any creative ideas out there, feel free to share with us as Jewcer is always around to help! We’d also love to hear about your projects, whether they are Jewish-related or not, there’s plenty to learn from you and to teach the incredible entrepreneurs in our community!

Shani
Shani is a photographer and content creator from Los Angeles. She graduated from UC Santa Barbara with a Communication degree, which she puts to good use by connecting with all the incredible Jewish organizations and the people who support them. With a deep pride in her Jewish roots and an Israeli background, Shani hopes to share the power and potential of Jewish innovation and connection with the world.