Top 10 things Start Ups Need to Secure Before They Call Themselves Business Owners

So you want to be your own boss and make your own schedule and spend more time with your family? Let’s get you started the right way!!!

After registering your Business Name/s with the state and filing your business license/s, these are the top 10 things that you need to secure before you can start running your business, professionally. Being a business owner or entrepreneur doesn’t stop at having an idea and wanting others to buy into it. There are a few follow through steps and milestones you must achieve to be a respected competitor in your industry. Here it goes (and it is in no particular order)…

1. Quality Business Cards

We are not in high school anymore. Remember when our teacher assigned us a homework to create our business cards at home? This is definitely a NO-NO. Why? because (a) you need to invest in quality products; (b) there are plenty of inexpensive resources in the market for business cards and some of them offer it for free (click below to see a list of inexpensive business card design and printing services).

2. Domain Name

A domain name is used in URLs to identify webpages. For example – – “” is the domain name. With today’s technology, there are so many easy ways to obtain a website. First, search and see if the website name you want is available. I personally like using It’s free to create an account and you can type in the domain name and see if it already exist.  As far as suffixes go, I prefer the .com for commercial businesses and .org for non-profit organizations. Why? because they are most commonly used for those purposes, therefore, easy to remember. There are, however, other suffixes like .edu for educational institutions, .gov for government agencies,  etc…

Featured Offer - $2.99 .coms now at GoDaddy! Now through 7/9/2013!

3. Hosting

Now that you have a domain name, you’re a step closer to having a website. also offers hosting services but what I generally advice is figure out your budget and decide if you want to build your own website or hiring a professional to build it. Let me give you a few ideas of how much it may cost. First of all, a domain name on average will run you $12 annually on average. Hosting will cost $30-$60 monthly on average, depending on the capacity and features you are looking for. Hiring a professional to design your website will cost anywhere from $500- $2,500 depending on the intricacy of the design. There are options to do it yourself but I only advice this if you are tech savvy because the last thing I want to see is an elementary website promoting “high-quality” products. has a user-friendly hosting and web design template available. Another great option is Explore your options and see what will work best for you. Always remember: 

Just in case the above quote is vague, it simply means that hiring an amateur can eventually cost of a lot of money to repair things that should’ve been done the right way in the first place. 🙂 You get what you pay for.

4. Professional Email

If you have a domain name, you have access to establishing an email account associated to it, instantaneously. For example: I own and my email address is – make sense? In this day and age, clients/customers are really looking at these small details. Don’t sit back and think “oh that stuff doesn’t matter because I give great service” -> that’s only true for those who have received your service, but how are you going to attract new businesses when hundreds and thousands of your competitors have gone digital? Establishing an email that is associated with your website is a good practice for consistency. Personally, I forget what company names my contacts own but seeing the “” helps remind me.

5. Social Media

My top 6 recommendations are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LikedIn, Google+ and Youtube. No, you don’t NEED all six to start, but have at least two. Almost everyone in the world (not just in US) are using Social Media and needless to say, it is now a necessity not only a hobby. Set up your Facebook and Twitter first and make sure that you use the same name as your domain name for consistency. If by any chance, the name you want is not available, be sure to really sit and think about the next best name to choose. For example, my company name is Events in the City, which was unavailable on social media channels so I decided with EventsNtheCity – and yes, it is against one of my rules to purposely misspell names but it was a rule I chose to break due to the circumstance. I have fun with it and my outro on most interviews is usually “Check me out at and that’s events the letter “N” the”

6. Professional Headshots

Since the world has gone digital, photography has become more inexpensive. First go through your contacts and see if you know a photographer. It’s always great to use the services of people in your network. If not, go to your nearest shopping center with a photography studio. Yes, they still exist. Put on your best suit, take some other blazers and blouses with you for options. You want to make sure you have a few photos in a few different outfits. The great thing is that you are now able to view your photos right after and you can definitely ask them to retouch. Make sure to pick plain backgrounds – black or white is the best. Don’t use white blazers against white background or black against black… trust me it will be hard for your graphic designer to manipulate your photo later on. Just as an example, I posted a photo of me taken with a regular digital camera. I used to use this photo and crop it from waist up but that lamp shade in the background is so distracting. Finally, I decided to take professional photos like the one below and I prefer it because the quality is definitely more professional.

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7. Professional Products/Services Photos

So you own a store that sells products, or an online e-commerce store, or you provide services to other people? Please get your products or services professionally photographed. If you don’t have the budget for it, at least get a few of them done when you launch then study and learn the techniques of how to do it yourself. I used to be an assistant buyer for a jewelry department of a huge company and I saw how they set up boxes and laid white linens over them with bright lights pointing at the product. I don’t see why you can’t recreate this setting in your home. If you are not selling any products, you can still promote your services by hiring a professional photographer to take your pictures as you interact with clients at an event, speak in front of a crowd or simply posing in your office :). Here are a few examples from my last wedding client: click here. Customers want to see some kind of demonstration of your services. Seeing a photograph of your work or you at work is going to increase your chances of closing the deal. Here are a few of my examples:

Sweeney Mae and Thanhdi of Events in the City LA working a wedding
Sweeney Mae and Thanhdi of Events in the City LA working a wedding
Sweeney Mae Instructing the group about reception directions
Sweeney Mae Instructing the group about reception directions
Sweeney Mae helping serve food at the Celebrity Toy Drive Event in Beverly Hills.
Sweeney Mae helping serve food at the Celebrity Toy Drive Event in Beverly Hills.
Sweeney Mae attends The Plush Show 2013 as a Media and interviews the CEO of The Plush Show
Sweeney Mae attends The Plush Show 2013 as a Media and interviews the CEO of The Plush Show

8. A Well-Polished “Elevator Pitch”

 You might think you know your products/services very well because you created it, although this might be true, can you explain it in less than one minute? Try it, go ahead… don’t stutter and no pauses. Why do you need to get this down packed? Well, because people these days have short attention span! You want to get straight to the point. Imagine if you were in an elevator with a shark from the shark tank? You have 30-60 seconds to tell them why they should invest in your company. Better ready than sorry. Here’s my NOT so well polished Elevator Pitch. I put myself on the spot about a year ago and see what my elevator speech sounds like without practice:

Click here if you cannot see the video below:

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If I were to do that video over, here’s what I would say. “Hello, my name is Sweeney Mae, owner of Events in the City LA, a premier Event Planning & Marketing Consulting Services. My company has been around for three years and we pride ourselves with creating meaningful and tasteful events for friends, families, and professional settings. We also assist business owners with marketing, social media and promotional strategies. We are very experienced having coordinated over 600 events since inception and helped over 50 businesses and organizations. We offer free consulting for potential clients and you can find examples of our work at;

9. A Business/Marketing Plan

I don’t think I have to define this (do I?). The reason why there’s a slash between “Business” and “Marketing” is because I am realistic and I know that for some reason, everyone drags their feet to write it. A Business plan can really save you from trying everything and anything. I once learned that if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. If you take the time (5-10 days) to really think about your MASTER PLAN for your company, in that process, you will realize exactly what direction you need to go to get to your goal. You will realize what type of marketing strategy will work, what kind of budget you’re working with, what kind of profit you are planning on earning, what type of competition you have to face, what added value you must have to be different, the type of staff you have to hire, where your company needs to be in 5-10 years etc… Your Marketing Plan can be included in your business plan as well. Take that time to sit and marinate on how you are going to take over the world!

10. A System that Works!

Every business is different. There is no one master plan for all but you have to find something that works for you. How are you going to collect leads? How will you follow up? How will you close the deal? How will you qualify your leads? How will you collect customer data and what are you going to do with it? Do you need a loyalty program? How will you manage your expenses? How will you manage your time? How many hours will you work?

Quotes from Wise and Powerful Women

One of the things I do when I feel a lack of inspiration is to find what inspires others. Enjoy these quotes I’ve gathered from women who are wise and powerful. Knowledge is power and when someone is confident enough to spread wisdom, it definitely helps those who are searching for it.

Father’s Day Blues… My Dad is gone, but I’m never fatherless

Father's Day BluesI can still remember the day I stepped out to finally wash a big pile of blankets that I have been putting off for 2 weeks. But, just before I left, I fed my dad his lunch. My dad was very ill, hallucinating from the medication that helped him cope with the pain from having lung cancer and emphysema.

Since only less than 15% of his lungs were functional, he was often out of breath, holding on to my arm and asking me if he could borrow my lungs for just a few minutes. The fact that I couldn’t do anything to help him get fresh air was devastating.

After feeding him, I went to the laundry mat to wash the blankets that my family had used when they visited (one last time) to spend time with dad.

As I was loading the blankets in the dryer, my phone rings. I looked and it was my mom. I knew, before I answered that it wasn’t good news. I picked up and when I heard my mom sob, my whole face dropped. Out of all the days I had, why did I pick that day to do that chore?

It’s a day I will never forget. I came back to the house and saw my mom and sister hovering over my dad’s emaciated body. I couldn’t cry. I was upset but I couldn’t cry.

I miss my dad and all his jokes and stories about his olden days. He had a special way of fathering me (as I can only speak for myself) that even when he is gone, I can still hear his voice in my head. When I’m out late, I can hear him tell me to come home. When I slam the doors, I can hear him tell me to shut it quietly. When I leave dirty dishes in the sink, I can hear him tell me to at least soak it in water. When I am too busy, I can hear him tell me to slow down. When I go to birthday parties within a few consecutive days, I can hear him tell me “You know, every day is someone’s birthday, if you know too many people, that’s a lot of birthdays to attend” —> this one is my favorite.

This father’s day, I wish I can have one day to just sit on the sofa and watch action movies with my dad.

I miss my dad.

The 2013 Plush Show (The Posh Little Urbanites Show) and my interview with the CEO, “MOMpreneur” – Jina Park

I had the pleasure of attending as a Media guest at the 2013 Plush Show and I must say, that it was so much fun to meet all the “mompreneurs” and “dadpreneurs”. It was a 3-day show that started with an early morning, private breakfast on Friday, June 7th, where Jina Park, CEO of Plush, announced a second show in Las Vegas and a strategic partnership with BFPA (Baby Furniture Plus Association), which produced a new organization called JRA (Juvenile Retail Alliance).

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jina Park about her story and how she accomplished it all as a Wife and a Mom of three.

Watch my interview with Jina Park:

How Jina Park got started. What was her vision?

Jina Park speaks on the importance of collaboration and business partnerships and how it can help decrease marketing expense.

Jina Park explains the growth of her brand from a small 45 vendor show to over 100 vendors now and how did she do it as a MOM and WIFE!!!

Jina Park talks about how she overcame financial challenges when she first started her business.

Click on the images below to see a description of the products and their website.

It was such a breath of fresh air to be surrounded by people who had a vision and worked hard to create a final product.

Chamber of Commerce Leadership Program

Leadership styles

Did you know that your local Chamber of Commerce in your city offers a Leadership Program?

I recently attended a Leadership (6-session) class in the city where I work. I learned all kinds of new information and most importantly, I met other Directors and Managers of big and small companies in the city.

Through these leadership sessions I learned about my leadership skills and personality. I got to know our Congresswoman and Senator and what they able to do for the businesses and residents of the city. I learned about how the Fire and Police Department operate. I got to learn about all the development projects within the city and what businesses are going to open soon. I was able to listen and understand more about what challenges the city face and what successes they celebrate.

Recently, one of our sessions featured the owner of Price Transfer, wants to remain anonymous. He is  living his dream and no one would ever expect what’s behind his wall! Price Transfer was owned by the Price Family back in the 30’s until our ‘anonymous guest’ bought it and grew it to be an industry-leading, multifaceted transportation and warehouse company serving the complex needs of the import/export community and nationwide domestic customers.

The photos below will show what the owner of Price Transfer has been longing to build. He said it’s his passion and there is no other purpose for it but just to keep collecting toys. And yes, he is a big fan of the 50’s.

This was definitely an inspiration to work hard then enjoy your success!

PLUSH – The Posh Little Urbanites Show… Open to all POSH parents

I have been on a trade show hunt for the last month. I want to discover and compare the trends and marketing strategies that trade show/conference producers use for success. I’ll be attending this cutsie tootsie little PLUSH show for my research.


This show is open to the public. Click on the link below to purchase your tickets.

This is the biggest baby show of the year and I’m going to attend to find out why! Right before the show, I will also be attending the breakfast conference where Jina Park, CEO and Founder of PLUSH will be making an industry changing announcement (read more…).



Stay tuned for my review, pictures, and exclusive interview with Jina Park.

Jina Park is CEO and founder of PLUSH LLC, and the driving force behind the luxury baby & toddler trade show, PLUSH and the all-encompassing parental resource website,  In the epicenter of celebrity mom-dom, Jina has become Los Angeles’ resident expert when it comes to the hippest and eco-friendly products, services, and lifestyle choices for modern parents. (see more…)

If you are interested in attending, you can purchase your tickets here:

Excuse me, have you met your customer?


This is a little test to see how well you pay attention to your customers. Moreover, I want to show you how you can use the information you have (about your customers) to your advantage. CRM or Customer Relationship Management is the best Customer Service practice you can implement. Get to know them and treat them well. After all, they help you pay your bills :).

  1. Are they family oriented?
  2. How many loyal customers do you have?
  3. Are they career-oriented?
  4. What kind of car do they drive?
  5. Are they health conscious?
  6. How old are they?
  7. Do they use a smart phone?
  8. What shows do they watch on tv?
  9. Who is their favorite celebrity?
  10. What Zip code do they live in?

If you can answer five out of the ten questions above then you are headed in the right direction. Knowing detailed information about your customers can really help you reach them and keep their attention and loyalty. Let’s break down each of the questions above with different ideas on how to use the information you know.

  1. Are they family oriented? – If you know the answer to this question, then you can plan promotions that speak to those who value their family. You can host kids’ event or offer free meals for kids (if you are a restaurant) or a family discount/giveaway.
  2. How many loyal customers do you have? – This can help you determine what kind of loyalty program you would need to invest in and how it will affect your bottom line. Do you have a database of emails and are they click-through your links? Or are most of them un-subscribing?
  3. Are they career-oriented? – the answer to this will help you find ways to accommodate their busy schedule and work towards offering convenient services that is suitable for those who work 9am – 5pm.
  4. What kind of car do they drive? – This can possibly help you determine what income bracket they belong in, which can help you understand the importance of your price and assortment.
  5. Are they health conscious? – Maybe you can host events that will help your health-conscious customers reach their health goals.
  6. How old are they? – This is an important fact to know about the people who do business with you. If they are in their 20’s and 30’s, it’s safe to assume that most of them are on Social Media Outlets with Smart Phones…. Etc … if they are older, you must do more research to see if they are “hip” to the smart phones. You want them to be able to get to your website more efficiently.
  7. Do they use a smart phone? – This can help you decide on investing in mobile apps, mass texts or e-blasts.
  8. What shows do they watch on TV? – This one is a little personal but important to know if they are into reality TV shows or educational shows etc… Will your customers enjoy a little trivia game for a free gift? Get them engaged!
  9. Who is their favorite celebrity? – You can learn what type of genre/culture your customers are into. Shall you customize your playlist in your store or offer tickets to see an artist in concert? Giving away prizes can give you an upper hand with what qualifications you. Will they be entered to win with a proof of purchase or maybe when they refer a new customer? It’s your call.
  10. What Zip code do they live in? – This can help you customize your ads. Some advertising platforms, like facebook, let you target the audience for your ad by zip code, which is a very powerful tool. You can advertise your loyalty program to the area where most of your customers come from and advertise more information (merchandise/services) to the areas you want to penetrate more.

If you are wondering why you need to work hard to get to know your customers more, then I hope this article clarifies the fact that you will not be profitable without happy customers.

The Phases You Have To Face (when working with effective Consultants)

change is the only constantChanges go through phases. If you’re in a position where you need to implement some changes to take your business to a new level, you have to accept the fact that it will not happen overnight.

Let’s say a boutique shop haven’t been able to meet their sales quota, naturally, they would want to take a closer look and see what changes need be made. The problem with most business owners is that they are in denial that they need help. Or even when they get the help they need, they worry about what it would cost them.


If you want the best results, you will have to hire the best consultant or even the second or third best. You want someone who has a track record of turning businesses around. When you find the right expert, then you want to make sure that your visions match. A good consultant is one with a plan or a formula for success as it pertains to your business. A great consultant is one with a plan that has been proven to work.

After finding the right consultant, you then have to realize that it’s a process to implement the changes that need to be made. If you’re sales are down, phase 1 might mean that you have to take a look at your assortment. Phase 2 might be improving your signage. Phase 3 improving your online presence. Phase 4 is re-training your employees. Phase 5 will be establishing a promotional calendar… and the list goes on.

The moral of the story is, if you’re business is not where you want it to be, then you will have to accept the fact that it will take time and resources to implement necessary changes to accomplish favorable results. Don’t assume that a consultant can come in and give you results in a short period of time. Weigh in the fact that it possibly took a year or two of consistent declining sales to get you to a desperate state. At that point, fixing a problem that has grown to the worst state will take a considerable time to correct.

Anticipate phases of changes and face your truth. A great business owner/leader are those who remain aware of how each move affects their business. Be wise and cognizant.

A better PERSON makes a great Entrepreneur… inspired by the Four Agreements written by Don Miguel Ruiz


Have you read the Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz? If not, then it’s time to fire up that kindle, ipad, iphone, galaxy s4 or whatever device you have and search for this book. It’s an easy read!

Don Miguel Ruiz talks about four practices and agreements that we need to make with ourselves so we can live a life that’s stress free, drama free, and best of all, have a peace of mind. I don’t want to give all the book away, but just to tease your imagination, here are the four agreements you must perfect:

1. Be Impeccable with your word

2. Don’t Take Anything Personal

3. Don’t Make Assumptions

4. Always do your Best

They all sound simple but the book breaks it down and makes you realize all the wrong moves you’ve made in life because you didn’t have these agreements with your #selfie :).

My favorite one is #2 DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONAL. Why? Because in my life, I’ve been angry, disappointed, upset, etc… with people, business partners and colleagues because I took it personal. I’m slowly learning not to… easier said than done but at least I am aware. After reading the whole chapter, I had a better understanding of WHY I shouldn’t take things personal. One reason, is that people act according to their mood. If someone said hurtful things to me, it’s not about me, but it’s about them. They must be hurting, or in a bad mood, or maybe going through some things. If I really understand my value, no one can ever tell me different. For example, if I know I’m beautiful, one person (who might be in a bad mood) telling me I’m ugly, will not change the fact that I know I’m beautiful!

I think that it’s valuable for Entrepreneurs and Business Owners to keep nourishing their mind, body and soul. Other’s call it “Self Help”, I call it “Soul Food”.

The new trend in Wedding Videography

Add your thoughts here… (optional)I coordinated the “Day Of” event for my clients Jehm and Jose last November 2012. I was most impressed by the videographer, who shot the ceremony video and edited it in time to show during the reception. It was beautiful! On another note, I haven’t done a wedding in 2 years and I’m now realizing this new cinematographic style of shooting the wedding scenes. It’s so much enjoyable to watch a 5 minute video compared to a 2 hour raw version of a wedding video. Simply stated, this was so cute!

Events in the City

The wedding of Jehm and Jose, Arcadia, CA on November 2012. Sweeney and Thanhdi of Events in the City coordinated the “Day of” Events to ensure that everything was flawless!

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