The 3 Lists Every Entrepreneur Must Make

November 21, 2014

Producer and Founder of

Starting a company is like a dream come true: no one telling you when to go into the office, you can pick and choose meetings and there’s unlimited vacation. Sigh — the life of an entrepreneur. So flexible, so fabulous. If only it was that easy.

Those perks were likely on the “perk” side of the pro and con list you made before going into business for yourself. But the real truth is that now you’re busier than ever. You’re likely wearing the hat of HR, IT, marketing and business development teams, just to name a few.

Structure and organization are key to success as an entrepreneur. I know because without my lists I could never get anything done at home, work or play.

For those entrepreneurs needing a little help in the organization department, here are three lists you should be making:

1. To-do list

You have to have one. I structure mine with daily tasks but you may find that a weekly list works better. Another option is to organize your to-do list by project or client.

It’s easiest to plan ahead and make sure not to include too much on the list at once. Try to really be aware of what is feasible given the time frame and resources you have available. I make my to-do lists for the next day before I leave the office at night. I run through everything that is coming up and what has to be handled the next day. I include any appointments and meetings on the list as well. Then when I come in the following day, I just refer to it as my roadmap and hit the ground running.

2. Outsource list

Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. I get it, control is a difficult thing to give up — especially when we’re talking about your business. You’ll do whatever it takes to make sure it’s successful. So why not give the to-do list to someone else?

Outsourcing will provide you the freedom to focus on the tasks you’re really good at — and hopefully increase your chances of making more money. So, make a list of all the mundane tasks that are necessary but that you don’t need to physically do yourself. Responsibilities like making appointments, booking travel, uploading your blog posts and maintaining your social-media platforms can easily be outsourced. Investing in the help of interns or virtual assistants will be worth the trouble, as the time you will save is staggering. Make sure to also make a list of all the projects you want to work on once you have some extra help to get the busy work off your plate.

3. To-become list

I’m a big fan of Oprah’s mantra: “You become what you believe.” Once you set an intention to do something it becomes so much easier to attain it. And taking it one step further and writing it down can really seal the deal. In fact, Dr. Gail Matthews, a professor at the Dominican University of California found that writing down goals will make you 33 percent more likely to achieve them.

This list can include anything that you want for your business and your life — daydreaming is definitely in order for this list. Think big. Even if you can’t figure out how exactly you’d achieve that goal, write it down anyway. Making a to-become list will get you motivated, hold you accountable and remind you of what’s important to you and your business. Keep this list somewhere safe and set a reminder in your phone every few months to check it out and see what you’ve become.

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Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week in the Shoals!

November 17, 2014

Celebrate Global Entrepreneurship Week in the Shoals!  Global Entrepreneurship Week is a celebration of innovation, creativity, and opportunity. This week is dedicated to those who create jobs, develop innovative products and services, and drive economic development.  The Shoals Entrepreneurial Center celebrates this week by partnering with the University of North Alabama, the Shoals Chamber of Commerce, and other community sponsors in hosting the Shoals Idea Audition.

You are invited to experience the first Shoals Idea Audition finalists compete for a $5,000 prize.  Eight or 9 finalists will be selected from 39 presenters. Part Shark Tank and part American Idol, the event showcases local entrepreneurs’ innovative business ideas. Several UNA students will be participating.  Join us at the Performance Center in the GUC at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov 18th and be one of the first to see the next great business idea!

More details at

Compete to Win $500 and a Fame Recording Studio Session as the First North Alabama All Star

October 16, 2014

facebook profile pictureNorth Alabama – Mudslide Productions is proud to present the first “North Alabama All Star” music video competition, sponsored by the University of North Alabama and Fame Recording Studios.   To enter the contest, aspiring song writers, singers, and music lovers can simply upload a Country, Christian, Gospel, or Blues music video to the website  Once a video is uploaded, contestants can share the video with their friends via an internet link.  The five videos with the most likes will qualify for the finals and will be judged by the Mudslide Production judges to determine the contest winners.

A grand prize of $500 dollars and a recording session at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals will be awarded to the first place winner.  Two runners up will be selected and each will be awarded $250.

The mudslide team will review the videos and post approved videos to the website and to the Mudslide YouTube channel, providing a link for contestants to share with their friends, family and beyond.  The earlier contestants enter, the longer they have to generate likes for their video, so contestants are encouraged to post their videos as soon as possible to enhance their chances of winning.

Every potential North Alabama All Star is encouraged to upload a video no longer than three minutes in length, singing any song of his or her choice, even original creations. The video must then be uploaded to the web site between October 15th and December 1st.  Voting or “likes” will be recorded from October 15th to December 15th.  The winners will be announced on December 16th.

For more information and contest rules, contestants should visit the web site and click on the Rules and Regulations tab at the bottom of the page.

From Cotton Field to Clothing Rack….

October 10, 2014

You’ve probably heard of “farm to table,” but how about “field to garment”? In Alabama, acclaimed fashion houses Alabama Chanin and Billy Reid have a new line of organic cotton clothing made from their own cotton field.

It’s not just an experiment in keeping production local; it’s an attempt to revive the long tradition of apparel-making in the Deep South. North Alabama was once a hub for textile manufacturing, with readily available cotton and access to cheap labor. But the industry all but disappeared after NAFTA became law, as operations moved overseas.

Now, Sue Hanback is again working a sewing machine in a cavernous building that was once part of the biggest cut-and-sew operation in Florence, Ala.

“I’m gonna five-thread this shirt,” she explains, stitching cuffs onto an organic-cotton sweatshirt.

Hanback was last laid off in 2006 when this was a T-shirt factory. Her husband worked in the dye house. She’s been a seamstress all her life.

“Ever since I was 18 years old,” Hanback says. “So that was like, 48 years.”

Keeping Cotton Local

Hanback is one of about 30 people who work at The Factory, home to Alabama Chanin, the fashion and lifestyle company founded by Natalie Chanin. The site includes a cafe, workshop and the company’s flagship store.

Chanin is best known for her flowing, made-to-order organic garments, entirely hand-stitched and inspired by the rural South of the 1930s and ’40s.

Read the rest of the story at

Win $5,000 to Help Start Your Business

October 9, 2014

Got a Business Idea?  Audition It!!

Would $5,000 help you start your business?  Aspiring entrepreneurs can present their business ideas to a panel of area professionals on November 18. The best idea will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize.  The Shoals Chamber of Commerce’s Idea Audition has been designed to help foster new businesses, help entrepreneurs polish their presentations, and introduce them to community leaders who might be instrumental in helping make their ideas a reality.

For more information and to register visit Shoals Idea Audition.

11 ways to stand out in a job application

September 29, 2014

Great Tips for Those Seeking Employment…………………..

11 ways to stand out in a job application

We recently advertised for a content marketing intern. We had over 100 applications in 1 week, some great ones some not so great. The main surprise for me was how few people made a strong effort to make their application stand out.

In this post I’ll run through 11 ideas to do that based on how I, as someone employing someone, looks at job applications. Of course everyone is different and others may not look for these things. These tips will be useful if you ever want to work for me or anyone like me.

For more tips visit



Attention Aspiring Entrepreneurs!

September 25, 2014

SHOALS — Aspiring entrepreneurs can present their business ideas to a panel of area professionals on November 18. The best idea will be awarded a $5,000 cash prize. The Shoals Chamber of Commerce’s Idea Audition has been designed to help foster new businesses, help entrepreneurs polish their presentations, and introduce them to community leaders who might be instrumental in helping make their ideas a reality.

“This is part ‘Shark Tank’ and part ‘American Idol,’” said Mary Marshall VanSant, Vice President for Investor Relations and Public Policy for the Shoals Chamber. “We’ll even help business people rehearse and polish their presentations to help them refine their ideas and make them into viable businesses. Five thousand dollars is a great reward for the best idea, but we’re hoping that the exposure to business leaders in the community will also foster some mentor relationships.”

The idea for the Audition came from a group of Chamber members who want to encourage entrepreneurs to create businesses in the Shoals area. VanSant added, “Our area has tremendous resources to support the business start-up, from the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center to the Shoals Chamber, and from the Alabama Technology Network to the Small Business Center at UNA. When we began brainstorming the idea of a business pitch contest, the UNA Business School stepped forward and offered facilities and expertise. That’s how this event came to be.”

Participants must register by November 11, 2014, but there is no cost to participate. Registration and contest rules can be found on the event website at

For more information check out the rest of the story at

In Loving Memory of Tom Sauls

September 23, 2014

The Shoals area lost a great man last week.  Tom Sauls spent countless hours volunteering his time for various organizations in the Shoals area.  Tom enjoyed giving back to the community and that’s exactly what he did after his retirement from Reynolds Metals Company.  He began volunteering with the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center in 1992 and continued until recently.  He volunteered with United Way, the VA Community Services Program, and SCORE.  Tom was also a member of the Exchange club where he earned a place in their “Book of Golden Deeds”.   Mr. Sauls’ death is a truly a loss for our community and he will be greatly missed!


Free Soil Testing for Small Farmers and Home Gardeners

September 4, 2014


An Event for Small Farmers and Home Gardeners:

Bring a soil sample and get a quick and free pH reading as well as personalized advice about USDA-NRCS programs from local NRCS staff:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Jack O Lantern Farm, 430 Garage Road, Muscle Shoals, Alabama

For additional information or to request special accommodations, contact Charlie Meek @ 256.383.1446 or Mike Roden @ 256.773.8495 or Matt Copeland @ 256.383.4323



Innovation Engineering

August 21, 2014

IE ClassToday marks history for the beginning of an excellent new program at the University of North Alabama. Innovation Engineering, the most recent addition to the College of Business minor degrees, broke ground in Keller Hall this morning with the first cornerstone class that the degree offers, Create. College of Business Dean Gregory Carnes and Janyce Fadden from UNA’s College of Business teamed alongside Giles McDaniel, the Executive Director of the Shoals Entrepreneurial Center and Mitch Hamm, the Center Director of the Alabama Technology Network to license and implement Innovation Engineering as an option to undergraduates seeking to become future entrepreneurs. The University of North Alabama is the first college university in the state of Alabama to offer this program to students studying any major or minor.

Innovation Engineering is designed to help students develop creativity and generate inventive ideas in any field of study. By the completion of the program, each student is guaranteed to graduate with valuable entrepreneurial experience, numerous company and community networks, and even a patented business idea. The implementation of Innovation Engineering as a minor degree aids in excelling UNA’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) departments to a competitive level with larger state universities.

Kate and I are ecstatic to be students of Innovation Engineering. Dr. Santanu Borah is instructing this first core course and has spent countless hours preparing and researching to engage us in innovative entrepreneurship. We are enthusiastic to see where this course leads future students and the positive effects this program has at UNA.