This Week: Guest Posts at i.seeKissimmee!

If you’re wondering where I’ve been this past week, that’s easy.

You can find me at

Having heard from a good friend, Sarah Sekula (@wordzilla), months ago that the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors’ Bureau welcomes guest bloggers each weekly, I was thrilled to have been accepted to write for them.  You’ll find posts about the Florida Film Festival preview party, happy hours on Park Avenue, and a great upcoming series on a few of historic downtown Kissimmee’s offerings.

Wander over and check it out.  But come back soon for more posts here.

If you’re interested in my writing a guest post for YOUR blog, feel free to contact me at  After all, collaboration is better than competition!

New Year’s Resolutions: Vitamins, Dishes, Lists and Happiness

Almost everyone I know has New Year’s resolutions.  Before she had her daughter, in fact, my friend Lyndsay, used to have a series of them which she grouped by category and then deadline.  If you know Lyndsay, believe me, this makes sense.

In fact, this blog was the product of a 2011 New Year’s resolution, before The Leone Company even existed, when Heather Whaling at let me know that, like, Nike, I should “Just do it!” and get blogging already!

And so, more than a week into the new year, I’m laying mine out there.  Hold me accountable, please:

  1. Always put my dishes in the dishwasher before going to bed. (Dad, you’d be ashamed at the piles that we woke up to some mornings!)
  2. Take my vitamins every night.  (Yes, sometimes I count chewable Airborne tablets as my vitamins for the day.)
  3. Always work with clients and projects that make me happy. (Check out that rockstar list of The Leone Company’s clients here.)
  4. Keep a daily, running “To Do” list that, each day, must have items that have been crossed off.

The clients? This is more to keep me on track. I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of wonderful clients through The Leone Company this year, ranging from fundraising to community outreach to marketing projects.  Even contracts that have ended did so on a high note, and something I pride myself on.  Going into the new year, I always want to keep a focus on this.

The “To Do” list? It’s working out well!  Each day, I start out with a freshly printed list (on the reverse side of previously used paper, of course!).  A clean list makes me feel like I’m not bringing yesterday’s baggage into the next morning.  Each list has four categories:

  1. To Do: The Leone Company. (Remember my post about Dedicating Time For Company Growth?  Those are the items on this list.  Updating my website.  Working on potential new clients.  Blogging.  )
  2. To Do: Insert “Client Name” here.  Each client has their own list.  This gathers all of the social media notes, random thoughts I had in the shower, phone calls to return and tasks that require an action item in one place.
  3. To Do: Errands. Taking client packages to the post office.  Picking up dry cleaning.  And yes, even returning two lampshades to Lowe’s because, well, why not just buy three and decide on your favorite at home? (Don’t judge me.  Or my dishes.  Or the fact that I have the vitamin habits of a five-year-old.)
  4. To Do: Personal. You know what goes in this list.  Really, just send your cousins’ holiday gifts already!

After trying apps and other electronic options, I’ve found a hard copy of the list just makes me happier. But I’m always up for new things!

What are your resolutions this year? Send me a note, a tweet at @marashorr or leave a comment below!

This week, I’m a guest blogger at, the website for the Kissimmee Convention and Visitors’ Bureau.  Check it out!

FREE Budget Software:

I’m all about New Year’s resolutions. (And yes, I know I’m mentioning this in July.)

This year, one of mine was to give my personal budget a closer look. After all, I’ve been helping other organizations raise money to pay their bills and stay on budget for years, right?  After creating Excel sheet after Excel sheet, I came across, Quicken’s FREE online budget software which tracks and categorizes all of my expenses AUTOMATICALLY by linking directly to my bank, credit card, even mortgage accounts, tracking all spending, deposits and balances instantly.  Huge for the girl on the go.  And of course, they have a free smart phone app.

Every expense.  Standard and custom categories.  I was in budget heaven.  (Ask my friend Lyndsay, who held her wedding on a Wednesday and washes her newborn’s own cloth diapers.  There really is such a thing!)

So imagine my delight when, after starting The Leone Company, I know that I’m able to track all spending for the company, categorize, track, and budget.  AUTOMATICALLY.  Allowing me more time in the day for my clients.

I’m in love, and want to shout it from the rooftops.  Because that’s free too.

7 Players to Include in Your Network When Starting a New Business

Over the past five weeks, I’ve been working hard to get the main components of the newly formed The Leone Company together, and over the past five weeks, I’ve learned that having a strong team in place is absolutely key.

As a small company, this often means knowing who in your own network to utilize.  I’ve found the following are key:

  1. A great lawyer.  For me, this was established lawyer Larry Haber, located here in Central Florida who helped me create my LLC.  He walked me through the (admittedly fairly simple for most people) forms needed to created the company’s LLC, answering questions I had along the way.
  2. A savvy accountant.  I like to have things spelled out before I start; once I know the rules, I’m happy to follow them.  A simple meeting with the accountant I plan to use in the next few months (Howard Mofsen, of Pinchevsky & Mofsen, CPA’s) was incredibly helpful: knowing how much to put aside for taxes, what items I can write off (and what items just don’t make sense) and what I should expect come tax time are key.
  3. A business manager.  When you don’t necessarily need accounting advice (or to be billed the hours for the advice of a CPA), a business manager is perfect.  This person will fill in the blanks regarding billing, invoicing, and all of those “But, just one more question…” moments.
  4. A certain contact who does (more or less) what you do.  You know who that person is; they get you and your business, and do something similar.  Another freelance writer.  Another account executive.  Another fundraising professional in another arts organization.  Another photographer.  (If you’re just that cool… another underwater basket weaver. Okay, but this person is NOT reading this blog post, but I DO know a basket weaver, and he’s just ridiculously cool. )  They’ll have advice, tips and tricks on things that are now second nature to them- how they bill, how they organize their time, their favorite spot to meet clients, an invoice template, that issue they ran up against when they first started… you get the theme here.
  5. A graphic designer to help with a great logo.  Personally, I don’t claim to be a graphic artist.  Sure, I know my way around Paint, and even Photoshop, but that doesn’t mean I have the creative spirit when it comes to coming up with a fabulous logo.  (Give me the task with words or numbers and I’m in!)  Don’t fall into the trap of “making due” with your public image.  I was lucky enough to have the incredibly talented Amanda Armitage with Distinct Expressions do this for me, but I also love the folks at Lure Design, Inc.
  6. An editor.  You know, that friend who geeks out over make sure you don’t, in your excitement, end up with 500 business cards from the incredibly cheap VistaPrint that read “persident” instead of “president.”  One of my best friends, Ani Rodriguez, agreed to be my second set of eyes on future materials and double check my typos.  While I hope to be able to pay her at some point, right now, I’ll be covering her happy hour tab until 2013. (*Note: The Leone Company offers this service!)
  7. A fellow entrepreneur (or dozen) to inspire you… and help you fill in the blanks.  I’ve learned more about what I already know… and what I didn’t know I didn’t know… from having coffee/lunch/breakfast/morning power walks that included my two dogs with others who have changed career paths and gone out on their own.  I continue to build my toolkit and know what tools I still need from these wonderful people, and all for the cost of a cup of coffee/sandwich/pancakes/bottle of water on a hot Orlando morning after that walk around the lake.

WOW! Overwhelming support!

WOW!  Your support has been overwhelming.

On Tuesday, I announced my departure from my position with Enzian and the Florida Film Festival.  On that day, the number of people reading this blog jumped.  By jumped, I mean WAS SENT SKY ROCKETING THROUGH THE STRATOSPHERE, showing more than five times the number of readers even my highest read post had received.  I have dozens of new blog followers, and more words of support sent to me than I ever dreamed of.  (Not to mention a few new prospects!)

Thank you!

Over the next week, I’ll be meeting with potential new clients in the coveted early-morning-coffee, lunchtime, and drinks-post-office-hours time slots, all while working the same hours, if not more, in order to hand things over in a tidy package to my current employer.  (Really, they’ve been phenomenal!  I suppose giving six to eight weeks notice is appreciated!) While I had planned to take a bit of time off, I’m watching excitedly as my calendar fills up with prospect meetings, networking events (like “Wine, Women, and Chocolate, hosted by the National Association of Women Business Owners)… and enjoying every minute of it!


For those of you who have known me over the years, you know I have truly loved my position with the Florida Film Festival

However, after a career in the non-profit world, I’m excited to announce that I am making the decision to go out on my own, embracing the entrepreneurial spirit I have admired in others for so long. 

With this, I’ll  be picking up clients who need a number of services, including, but not limited to, marketing/communications, copywriting, proofreading, fundraising and project management. 

Does that seem like a strange combination?  Perhaps!  But one of the joys of a career in the non-profit world is that you learn to do more with less… and less is often less staffing.  This equates to my having worn more hats than most could have imagined over the years, and, in turn, gaining quite the skill set!

My boss, co-workers, family and friends couldn’t have been more understanding, supporting, and gracious if they tried, and have supported me every step of the way in this new adventure.  But now, it’s time to take the leap.

June 10 (next Friday) is my last day with Enzian and the Florida Film Festival, and I leave my favorite arthouse cinema with a smile, and hope to return with my MacBook Air, a glass of wine and future clients soon.

I would love your support in my efforts!  How? 

Sign up for my blog (form at right) and let others know of my services 🙂

4 Companies (and a Few Individuals) Inspiring Entrepreneurship

I’m always inspired when someone decides to stop doing what they “like”… in order to do what they LOVE.  Within the past few years, I’ve watched a few amazing people around me start companies that turn their passions into realities.  In the spirit of entrepreneurship, this post is for them.

  • Geben Communication. When Heather Whaling (@prtini) wanted to move back to Columbus, OH almost two years ago, she decided it was time to take nearly a decade of PR agency experience into her own hands.  Now, she rules the online (okay, and offline, too) PR scene. Mashable comes to her.
  • CageHero. Two MMA fanatics (who yes, are also best friends) Ian Parker and Mark Mastrandrea didn’t see a clothing line with a strong positive message.  What better solution than to start one?  Now, with approximately one dozen fighters wearing their gear, along with an extended women’s and baby line, this clothing line shows that yes, indeed, “The Hero Comes From Within.”
  • Centers for Animal Therapies. Originating from a vision by owner Jo Maldonado to offer the general public a complete program towards the  understanding of animals, preserving of natural and natural healing techniques, CAT now offers a variety of courses to Central Florida.  Topics include anything from animal business and behavioral classes to reiki and communication.  Essentially, if you can dream it up, there’s a class on it with CAT.
  • Sassy Sweet Treats.The most amazing cookie and brownie company.  Ever. Shipped all over the country from Jersey City, NJ, Chief Baking Officer Jennie Broderick turned her passion for a fabulous Chocolate Chunk cookie into a sustainable business nearly five years ago.  With product available online, as well as local delivery (hello, Whoopie Pies!) and farmers’ markets, this is perfect holiday/hostess/housewarming/just because gift.  And really, a Cookie of the Month Club to boot?!
  • Independent Writers and Editors (like Sarah Sekula and Ashley Cisneros). These ladies left their corporate careers with magazines and PR firms to freelance.  Now, they attend and cover fabulous events, take trips around the globe, and write intensely amazing human interest pieces.  Oh, and they get paid to do so.
Do you know someone who has left a job they “like” to do what they LOVE?  Leave a comment and share with the world!