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Olivia Pope: PR Mastermind & Fashion Goddess

Olivia Pope has been handling tricky situations for the past four years on ABC’s hit show, Scandal. With the Season 4 finale airing tonight, its only fair that we look a back at all the Scandalous fashion statements Pope has made strutting down Washington, DC. Scandal withdrawal may cause some depression amongst fans but there’s no need to worry because actress Kerry Washington and her team are giving you the opportunity to channel your inner Olivia Pope with these pieces at The Limited. Now you, too, can be the powerhouse of your office!

Lace it Up

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Bring femininity into the office with this lace overlay skirt. The black and white contrast creates a bold statement but still allows you to play with the piece, pairing it with either a bright or neutral colored top. Who says business casual can’t be fashion forward?

Keep it a Mystery  

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Stay warm and chic on cool, spring mornings with this tailored trench coat. At under $120, this structured look can be all you need to pull your look together. The bright white adds freshness and confidence to your outfit while the length adds an elongating effect.

Day to Night 

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Don’t let your social life take a toll! Take your work outfit from day to night with this beautiful lace insert dress. The structured look shows off your curves while still maintaining professionalism. Wear it with simplicity or add a statement necklace to take this outfit from 100 to 110.

Power Up in Pants 

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Everyone needs a pant suit in their wardrobe. At just under $50 (whoa!), these wide leg trouser pants  can get you feeling like a Pope without the price. Perfect for busy days on the run, the right dress pants are an essential for any business lady.

There you have it! Master her strut, obtain some sass, and show off that bad-ass persona all at once with these perfect pieces for your professional wardrobe!

5 must-have tips to becoming your own boss

Being an entrepreneur is a dream for so many people; and, it was (and is) a dream I strive to realize every single day. The idea of being your own boss and working in a field that you’re interested in and passionate about is a luxury that many don’t get to live in their 9 to 5. The truth is, though, that a lot of new businesses fail within the first three years. So, I thought I’d share some personal revelations and experiences in planning my own entrepreneurial journey.

Is being your own boss right for you?

The first thing I needed to come to terms with is that not everyone can cut it. I needed to figure out whether or not being an entrepreneur was right for me and my family. Every successful business owner I know works above and beyond the 40 hour work week and more than conventional jobs. There are, of course, benefits to being your own boss. Every day, I put my own ideas into motion, and I make decisions that define the course of my company. I enjoy the limitless potential to create higher goals to attain and to earn more money. But, before embracing those advantages, I had to take the time to think it through. Make sure you’re the kind of person who likes to give yourself challenges taking on a new project and sees possibilities where others see problems. Dreams play a role, but what counts is action, and if you’re willing to put in the work, it is absolutely possible to influence your destiny.

Let’s develop your business plan

After making sure that I was prepared for and committed to everything that comes with running your own business, it was time to develop my ideas and my business plan.  This is where the work begins.  A dynamic business plan can help you determine the path you plan to take with your company, turn ideas into a tangible constructed business, and is even necessary in securing financing from lenders and investors.  It can help in identifying weaknesses in terms of capabilities or local competition, and can communicate your vision to potential colleagues or partners. If you want to be a business owner, regardless of the industry, your first capability should be your product or service, but your second capability should always be business itself. If you don’t know what an Executive Summary or an Operational Plan is, Google it, research it, and learn! It’ll be the first of many hats you’ll have to wear as a small business owner. Trust me.

Let’s think about your brand

Then came the logistics. I had to choose a name for my business — something unique and easy to remember — and register my business with the necessary levels of government. For me, that involved applying for a Business Number, which serves as my account number for dealing with the government regarding payroll, taxes, and other activities. It’s also what I used to open a business bank account so I could start keeping my personal money away from my business money. My advice is to do this right from the start to avoid potentially devastating complications down the line.

Where will the start-up money come from?

Financing is often the most challenging aspect of starting a business, but when I started out, I found that there were so many little known resources available out there to get your business off the ground. The government provides financing to help start-up businesses, some that need to be repaid and some that don’t. There are also various private sector financing opportunities that you might be able to secure. Do your research and take advantage of the resources that exist.

Take action!

The most important part, however, is what comes every day as an entrepreneur. Put your dreams into action, and get ready to roll your sleeves up and delve right in! This is your moment to shine and to build an empire out of nothing! It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t happen without some sleepless nights and stressful moments, but if you’re willing to put in the work, the sky’s the limit!

Good luck!

How to raise your net worth

Often when asked, it’ll take me a few seconds of thinking to remember my shoe size, my dress size, or my home phone number. Never my net worth; that’s always top of mind. Is that backwards? Considering my priorities and measure of personal success, I really don’t think it is. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t want to give off the impression that a person’s net worth is the be all and end all of how they should be valued and treated as human beings, but I do think it’s a significant qualifying factor to a person’s success in business. There are a thousand business people and entrepreneurs who can talk a good game, but at the end of the day, the numbers don’t lie.

Your net worth is basically how much money you’d be left with if you subtracted all your debts from all your assets. I put a substantial amount of thought and energy into increasing my own personal net worth, and the habits I’ve developed have proven to be beneficial, not only from a personal standpoint, but also for my business and for my family. The simplest ways to increase your net worth are to purchase assets and to pay off debts.

Purchase Assets

One of the first lessons I learned, however, was that not every asset purchase you make will actually help you build your net worth. For example, a new car, unless it’s a collector’s item or vintage automobile, will depreciate faster than almost any other asset you could purchase. Forty thousand dollars spent this year could be worth $10,000 less next year. Any assets you purchase need to at the very least remain stable or ideally increase in value over time. I prefer to increase my net worth by way of real-estate, artwork and silver bars (a bit of a gamble, but I’ve found still more stable than gold). Others may choose to purchase rare coins, and my mother is partial to handmade Persian rugs. All these things will help in building your net worth.

Pay Off Debts

Another way to build your net worth is to pay off your debts—even if you have to start off with the small ones. Pay off your car loans, your student loans and your credit cards. If you have to prioritize, start with the high-interest debt first, or any other debt where the interest is not tax deductible.

Invest

It may also be worth it to use debt to build your net worth. This is especially the case when it comes to investing in real estate, where the debt you incur with a mortgage is being used to purchase an asset that will appreciate in value. This is always a risk of course, since there’s no way to know for sure whether an asset will actually appreciate, but there are lower risks involved if you focus on assets that have a habit of increasing in value.

As a business person, your net worth is an important figure to consider in your financial goals. Decide what your net worth goal is, and then do whatever needs to be done to get there. Work hard, make the sacrifices and ultimately, you’ll reap the rewards!

Here’s the first step in getting ahead in your career

Those who know me best know that I take a decidedly flowerchild approach to the way I conduct myself in business. As focused as I may be on success and financial rewards, I try my best to create and operate within a universally free-spirited domain, and I encourage those around me to do the same. I’ve never responded well to the rigidity and formality of the mainstream corporate sphere. So, it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to my little circle that one of the main contributing factors to my business success is also touted by new age, likeminded flowerchildren like myself as a means to living a successful and fulfilling life: visualization.

Visualization is powerful. In my own day-to-day experience, I find that visualizing my business goals is often a foolproof way to attract the outcome and energy that I want.  But the practice itself, at least for me, is not as free-spirited and whimsical as some might believe.  For me, it’s actually pretty practical and methodical.

Before I visualize what it is that I want, I really have to sit down and work out exactly what that is. I set concrete, specific goals for myself, and I always make sure to include timelines. Writing them out so I can refer to them whenever I need to is also really important to my whole process.

Then I just use my imagination! I put myself in the center of it all, and visualize everything as if it’s happening right now, in this very moment. I imagine what it feels like and looks like to have achieved the goals I have set for myself, and I picture everything to the tiniest detail. I know what colour my office walls are, I know what artwork I have hanging, and what plants I have on my desk. I picture myself doing work that I love, working with my ideal clients, making my ideal income, and having enough time off for my friends and family.  I think about how I’ll feel – the sense of security and confidence I’ll feel as my bank balance increases. It’s not a snapshot or a photo, but my own little mini movie that allows me to breathe in the positive feelings that I experience as I imagine my ideal life.

The result? When I take the time every once in a while to indulge in a little visualization, I often find myself more prepared, more confident, and more believing of the fact that I can achieve any goal I set for myself. I’m energized and completely ready to start my day!

Of course, the simple act of visualization is really just a starting point – actually, maybe a pre-starting point.  The real fun comes in activating that vision and turning it into reality.

3 ways to market yourself and your business

In adding a new capability to my firm’s services this year, one of the biggest tasks I have ahead of me is creating a buzz for this new venture while balancing any investments with potential returns.  I’m not naïve to the state of our economy right now – I hear the constant reports of doom and gloom that seem to permeate the airwaves these days, and my newest real estate project seems especially vulnerable to any sudden turn or drop on this economic rollercoaster.  While I’m an unapologetic optimist, I’m also a businesswoman, so the debate between investing in marketing and promotions and holding on to my cash is a very real one.

So my approach in moving forward this year will be investing in inexpensive promotional activities that offer a key value for the money being spent.

1. Online marketing

For one thing, most of my efforts will be focused on online marketing. The days of ignoring online marketing are definitely gone, and there are many businesses that wouldn’t survive, were it not for the money brought in by traffic to their websites. Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising is especially unique, because it allows you to pay only for potential consumers or clients who have actually received your message. Facebook has incorporated some unique PPC advertising methods that I plan on doing a little more research on. The added bonus for this is that it boosts your online presence and could even result in a higher appearance in Google’s organic rankings. Researching Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and seeing how I can drive new traffic to my site will definitely be near the top of my list.

2. Promotional gifts

Promotional gifts are not usually my cup of tea – the idea of spending money on an obscene amount of trinkets and handing them out to any and everybody and then seeing them strewn across the parking lot of an expo on your way to your car after an event is not fun.  (Sorry for the rant, personal experience).  But using gifts to maintain relationships with my best clients, that may be in the market for this newest service stream, could be well worth the bottle of wine and postcard.

3. Word of mouth

But the best type of marketing, I think, might just be the oldest: word of mouth.  It’s low cost, meets business objectives, and is the most compelling way to bring in new customers. Think about it: we’re bombarded with countless messages every day – print ads, radio ads, TV commercials, salesmen, spokespeople – and most of us don’t put much stock into what we hear from any of those mediums until we experience it ourselves. But word of mouth marketing is genuine, because the only way to effectively use it marketing is to deliver a kick-butt product or service. Putting my clients first and developing a continuous referral program where they’re encouraged to talk about my awesome service is something I’ll be putting a lot of energy and effort into.

The timing may be a little scary, but I’m focusing on the quality of my promotions rather than the quantity, and putting myself in the best possible position, even if the worst-case scenario should come true.

This article was previously published on February 7, 2012.