Category Archives: Canadian Small Business Women

Power of Women

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I spent the weekend at a Plan Your 2017 Retreat and it reinforced a thought that I have believed in all along: the power of Women.

As we sat in a picturesque cottage in a little town called Kimberly just north of the GTA, we all had one major goal in mind – to make a plan for success in 2017.  On day one, we were 4 women of different backgrounds, different professions and completely different goals.  By the end of the weekend, we became 4 women with one goal – to help each other succeed.

Bringing women together to uplift and support each other is a game-changer. What did we learn this weekend?

  • No matter how different we are, we have more in common than we think.
  • Empowerment can be misinterpreted
  • NO is a powerful word
  • Emotional support is a necessity
  • It’s OK to be selfish once in a while

 

Coming together with other women, in whatever format, can be beneficial to your business.  Retreats, Mastermind Groups, Networking, Accountability Groups, Workshops or any form of “togetherness” is an important part of building your network.  Having these support systems can help you achieve your business or personal goals.

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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Women On Top

 

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life as an entrepreneur versus life in the corporate world and how it has affected me as a woman. I am thinking in particular about my ceiling in both worlds.  How much success can women achieve in both worlds?  How far out of reach is the ceiling and have us as women found the magic formula to breaking that glass ceiling?

Let’s start with the corporate world.  In my case our corporate structure is that of the “good old boys club”.  Senior executives are the picture of corporate with not a woman in sight.  Middle management is made up of about 10 percent women.  On the bottom of the totem pole, the structure is as expected – a male dominated production group and a female dominated office group.  To excel in an environment as this takes a lot of game play and sometimes ruthlessness.  You cannot be too tough or else you are labeled as “bitchy” or “moody” and you cannot be overly nice or you can be deemed to office “harlot.”  You not only have to play the game, but you also have to continuously prove your knowledge and capabilities to the powers that be.  This part has me baffled.  Why?  I’m sure those powers would not have made you a part of the organization if you were not remotely qualified to do the job or if they didn’t feel you were well suited for the position and the company.  How far up the corporate ladder can women get in an environment such as this?  It’s a far climb for us and especially rough when obstacles are placed in our way.  My feeling is that we are fighting continuously for what we deserve – even when it is earned.  Not many of us know how to demand what we have earned.  In my case, I have set my goals to what my definition of success would be in the corporate world.  Do I want to be President of the company? NO!! What I want is what I have earned – nothing more and definitely nothing less!!

As an entrepreneur I have the opportunity to be the President, Owner, Assistant, Director, coffee runner, pencil sharpener…you name it, I am in charge of it.  More women are going down the entrepreneurial path without really understanding how much more work it takes to be successful. As a female entrepreneur, when I attend networking events that are male dominated I get a lot of pats on the back and “good for you”, “you’re a smart girl”, “you did this all on your own” from the male networkers.  It is as if I am not perceived of being capable of achieving all that I have or that I have or that it is a surprise that a woman can really be successful in their world.  There are also always a few men who are there to be the “saviours” or “messiah.”  I remember being told by one man in particular who came to a female dominated networking event that he was there to help the women.  Take note, he said HELP not SUPPORT. Now, I will be the first to agree that we all need to support each other, but what I do not like is the notion that women cannot find ways to help each other succeed.  We are a resourceful group and we find ways to dig our way out of a hole.  There is still that mental and societal influence that makes us feel like being solopreneurs is the pinnacle of success.  Why not strive to grow your business into a multinational corporation? Sky is the limit-not the glass ceiling.  It truly depends on what your personal goal is.

For me, I enjoy the challenges of both the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world.  Women will always have to work extra hard to break that glass ceiling.  For most of us, the ceiling is not made by others, but by our personal limiting beliefs.  Identifying what is causing these beliefs is the first step towards breaking the ceiling and allowing ourselves to strive for the highest of highs.  I know one thing – this woman plans to be on the top when it comes to the entrepreneurial game. I will not stop until my business is where I want it to be – Canada-wide.  I will not let being woman be a hindrance.  It is not a crutch.

 

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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Exhibitor 101: How to be an exemplary exhibitor at your next tradeshow

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Many business owners, like myself are always trying to find ways to promote our businesses.  One of the best ways to get face time with potential clients is through the tradeshow circuit.  We try to maintain our business presence in the community by attending tradeshows as an exhibitor.  We also host a minimum of 5 tradeshows each year and we find that there are a few guidelines that our exhibitors are usually unaware of.  Below are some tips that we have put together to help with determining what shows are right for you and how to get the best of your exhibitor experience.

  • Before being an exhibitor, let us back it up a bit.
    • How do you source events?
    • How do you plan for your events? How many per year?
    • Budget
      • Event booth cost
      • Promotional product cost
      • Literature cost
    • You have booked your exhibitor space, now let’s prepare.
      • Ask about choosing your booth location
      • Swag bag opportunities (inserts and swag bag sponsors)
      • Advertising exchange (if you have a large mailing list, offer to be an advertising sponsor). Ask about sending a certain number of emails, tweets, Facebook posts, Google + in exchange for mentions at the event, logo placement in handouts, etc
      • Promote the event!! If each exhibitor brings 10-20 guests from their network to the tradeshow, imagine how many more potential clients will be in the room to help grow your business.
      • Ask the organizer if there are ways to make your exhibitor fee back? (affiliate ticket sales, affiliate exhibitor sales, etc)
      • Preparing your table/booth layout
        • Preplan what items you will display
        • Ensure that you have literature about your product or service pre-printed
        • Ensure that you have the appropriate display for your product.
          • If you are a jeweler, how do you effectively display your item
          • If you are a clothing company bring a model or offer to have certain pieces worn by other exhibitors
          • If you are an author how will you display your books
        • Decide if you will do draws/raffles at your table, how frequent and at what cost?
        • Will you offer an event only discount?
        • Wear comfortable clothing and shoes. Dress appropriately for the event and remember that you are your brand.
      • It is the day of the event
        • Be on time: You want to not only make an impression on the planner, but also on the other exhibitors
        • Spend your first moments setting up – not socializing with other exhibitors. Ensure that your space is set up exactly how you envisioned.  Stand back and look at it from every angle to make sure that it is visually appealing, but also that it meets your marketing expectation.
        • With your remaining time, mingle with other exhibitors, exchange business cards, discuss event partnerships (ex, cupcakes with teacups at an event) – clothing company partnering with a jewelry company to wear their clothing
        • Ensure that you have eaten prior to event startup. Try to have small snacks and beverages with you (in a bag under the table). Do not clutter your table with food and beverages.
        • Once the doors are open, smile and be ready to be somewhat aggressive. Work the room.  You don’t always have to be behind your table, just stay in your space and do not impede traffic to your other exhibitors.
      • The event is over. Next steps
        • Event feedback.
          • If the organizer has a feedback form/email, take part. If not, relay your experience to the organizer. Be truthful and constructive
          • Follow up with your contacts
          • Asses if you would take part in the event in the future and let the organizer know. Right of first refusal!!
          • Connect with other exhibitors to find out about events they normally attend.

You have your tips and now it is time to execute.  Enjoy your experience.  Ask us about our upcoming shows or find out more on our website.

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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The importance of small businesses blogging

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When blogging made its first appearance in the late 90’s, it was mainly used by individuals wanting to express their thoughts and feels towards various topics. However, over the years blogging has evolved and is now used as a main tool for many businesses to express ideas, pass along valuable information and is a means of keeping connected with clients. Blogging is one of the biggest, easiest and not to mention free marketing strategies out there. Entrepreneurs, whether established or starting up, need to understand the importance and value of this tool.

What having a blog site can do for you:

  • Boost your websites search engine optimization (SEO): by posting blogs frequently, Google and other search engines will be able to use the important key words, which are plugged into your post and your appearance on the search engines result page will increase.
  • Causes traffic to your website: by linking your blog site to your business’s website, you will increase traffic flow, along with creating more awareness around your brand.
  • Establishing relationships: end your blog post with a question and get conversation going, create a section under your post for readers to leave a comment or additional feedback. Being able to review and respond to their comments will give you some insight as to what your customers are looking for from your business.
  • Connecting to the brand: most outbound marketing techniques do not allow you to show off your personal side, blogging gives you the opportunity to show your business’s true personality.
  • Free marketing: whether readers share your post on Facebook, tweet it or email your blog to a friend, this is helping create more buzz around your business.

 

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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30 blog topics for small businesses

 

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For many small business owners posting blogs frequently is important because it gives them a chance to stay connected with their audience. Unfortunately, over time, their blog sites become inactive due to soul fact of not having any new topics to blog about.

Here are 30 potential blog topics for small businesses looking for fresh and new ideas:

1)    Our business: a background story of how it all started.

2)    Ask your readers what they would like you to write about.

3)    Do a round up of last year’s most popular blog posts.

4)    Recap or update on a pervious blog post.

5)    Most frequently asked questions by customers.

6)    How did your company get its name?

7)    A day in the life of your company.

8)    How do you hire staff?

9)    Confess a weakness.

10)       What is a lesson you learned in the last year?

11)       The latest trends emerging in your industry.

12)       A profile piece on a staff member or a long time customer.

13)       The biggest challenge your company has had in the last year.

14)       Discuss upcoming/recent events within your business.

15)       Do a product review.

16)       Run a content.

17)       Share upcoming promotions.

18)       New products or services being launched.

19)       Tricks and tips for customers to make better use out of your products/services.

20)       Best suggestion given to you by a customer.

21)       What you love about being a business owner.

22)       The biggest challenge about owning a business.

23)       Do a video tour of your company’s building/office space.

24)       Hopes and plans for your businesses future.

25)       What do you hope to accomplish through your blogs?

26)       Review a book or magazine article relevant to your industry.

27)       Post a tutorial or how-to video or written piece.

28)       Expose scams within your industry.

29)       How to turn an unhappy customer into a happy customer.

30)       What do you love about your industry?

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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15 free or low cost marketing ideas for small businesses

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1)  Communication: start up as many social media sites appropriate for your business; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, e-mail, blog site, live chat through your business website and a toll-free phone number.

2)  Business cards: leave them everywhere and hand them out to everyone!

3)  E-mail newsletters: collect e-mails and send out weekly, bi-weekly or even monthly newsletters informing customers about upcoming promotions or events.

4)  Business webpage: keep your website and social media pages up to date and fresh. Your customers need to see that you are active within your business.

5)  YouTube: create a video of your product or service, post the YouTube link of your video on all your social media accounts and on both your blog and business site.

6)  Stay connected: keep in touch with your clients by sending them a hand written thank you card and attach a coupon.

7)  Loyalty: reward your loyal customers with, for example, a 20 per cent off discount for their next purchase. Do not assume customers will keep coming back, acknowledge them and show them that you value their commitment to your business.

8)  Go old school: print out pamphlets, brochures or flyers and go door to door in your community and hand them out. You could also leave them on the windshield of cars in a full parking lot at a local mall.

9)  Get listed on directories: both Google and Bing offer free listings for local businesses.

10) Vendors: speak with the vendors from whom you buy products or services from and ask them if they know of any other businesses that could use your products or services. Also, check to see if they have a bulletin board where you can display your business card and ask to place yours up!

11) Offer to be a speaker: often volunteer organizations, industry conferences and local business groups are looking for guest speakers for their meetings. This will help you and your business gain contacts, name recognition and publicity.

12) Product or services: it does not matter what you are trying to sell, get out there, hand out sample size products and show off your work. This will help potential customers get a feel for your company and give them a chance to see what you have to offer.

13) On the go marketing: if you use a car or truck for your business ensure that your business name, logo and contact information are painted on the vehicle. For a less costly alternative use magnetic signs and place them on the vehicle.

14) Contest: run a contents through your business website or on Facebook. Ensure that the prize is desirable and that it relates to your business. Example: a coupon offering 40 per cent off a service from your business or a gift bag full of sample size products. *Note: this will also create traffic on your business website and social media sites, along with helping you gain more followers*

15) Community events: a fund raiser, festival or even a family day event, ensure you get out there and offer or donate your services/products to events within your community. This is a great way to get your brand out there and help you better connect with potential clients/customers in your area.

 

Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:

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The importance of using social media for networking

 

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Social media has changed the way companies and people network themselves because now a days it isn’t about who you know, it’s about who knows you. Marketing yourself through social media has become the norm for businesses and thanks to sites like Facebook and Twitter, interacting with your cliental couldn’t be more easy and beneficial.

 

  • Feedback: receiving supportive criticism could potentially impact your business in a more positive direction and help adjust your marketing strategy.
  • Constantly connected: social media provides you with the ability to view problems or concerns customers may have. In return this gives you the opportunity to respond and resolve these issues immediately.
  • Personal: social media to many can feel more like a personal connection and not just some business shoving out advertisement. Being able to read tweets or posts will give you the opportunity to learn what your clients have to say, which can become helpful advice in making improvements within your business.
  • Finding customers: using key word searches is a helpful way to find new clients. Using this tool will give you the opportunity to redirect them to your company’s personal website.
  • Connecting: join multiple groups through Facebook relating to your scope of work. Market yourself within theses groups by posting a link to redirect potential customers to your site; this will help create brand awareness.
  • Promote: media sites give you the chance to get your name out there. This can also help lead to clients recommending you to friends and family members through Facebook and helping create traffic to your website.
  • It’s free marketing: unfortunately we aren’t all rolling in money and have millions of dollars to blow on ad’s for our company. These media outlets are easy to use and manage, while giving you the opportunity to promoting yourself without any fee.

 

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Summer Blog Tour 2015

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It was a pleasure to be invited to be a part of IC Publishing’s Summer Blog Tour.  I am looking forward to reading about other entrepreneurs like myself.  I would like to thank Shery Andrunyk for inviting me to be a part of this blog tour.  Here’s a bit about Sheri:

Sheri Andrunyk is the founder of I C Publishing (tour sponsor) and the I C Bookstore, entrepreneur expert, mentor, and author of Working From Home & Making It Work and Hearts Linked by Courage. She is writing two more books this year, and is extremely passionate about providing more choices, resources, and high level support to other writers, business professionals, wellness coaches, and spiritual mentors.

Bites and Blogs: What are your tips for creating meaningful content for social media? How do you determine what blogs you’re going to write, and why? How do you remain consistent?  How do you know you’re on the right track?

With regards to social media, content is king.  My approach is the ever so popular 80/20 rule.  I try to follow this as closely as possible.  It states 80% informative and 20% promotion is the best way to keep your audience engaged.  Within that 80% of content, I try to use content from my blog site, which in itself is a “soft” way of promoting the site itself.  I am a believer in using all possible platforms to promote your business, so use whatever hidden or soft ways of promoting your business that allows the reader to have your business in mind constantly.

Blogging is a great way to get your point across without having to engage an audience for a long period of time.  I personally don’t blog, but I do have contributors who are experts in their field who blog on a consistent basis for my blog site.  I am very firm on consistency when it comes to blogging.  I require a minimum of 1 contribution per month for 6 straight months from all my bloggers.

There are many “hot topics” out there in the world of blogging for small businesses.  My selection is based on the topics that are a firm requirement to assist with starting and growing your business.  The resources we provide via our blogs are those that we find answer all the questions that are being asked by aspiring entrepreneurs.  We have been fortunate enough to witness our success over the past three years based on the increase in our readers.   Our numbers have increased each year by 50% and so has the interactions.  We have also been fortunate enough to have experienced blog contributors, who have written pieces that resonate with our readers.

Talks: What steps do you take to create new workshops, programs, or keynotes?

Creating workshops that resonate with your audience can be challenging.  You have to not only consider your guests and what they need, but you also have to consider what your competitors are offering.  Our workshops at Canadian Small Business Women are largely based on materials that are necessary for your business.  We also don’t focus on having ‘big name’ speakers whose main focus is to upsell to my audience.  There are a few requirements that I have:

  1. The workshop must be less than 2 hours long.
  2. The workshop host cannot spend more than 10 minutes introducing themselves and their business.
  3. The workshop must be hands on
  4. The workshop must have a “to do” list that allows the attendees to implement everything that was taught in their business.
  5. Do, feel free to upsell, but you cannot upsell throughout the workshop. The last 10 minutes are usually dedicated to that.

Books: Everyone has a story, some a book. If you’ve written a book, what was your creative process? What encouragement would you give others just beginning their book writing journey?

I have not had the pleasure to write a book, but it is in the works.  I am fortunate enough to be surrounded by inspirational authors who have encouraged me to take that leap in to being an author.  I currently have a title and a short outline.  I will just have to find the time to move forward and start writing.  I welcome any suggestions from our readers as to how to find my way creatively.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Wow!  I would tell my younger self to pay attention to the small details.  I am not one to regret any decisions made and I definitely live each day to the fullest.  I would definitely tell my younger self to learn how to let go of things sooner and to not be so high strung!

What are you working on now, and how can we, as a collective community, help?

We are currently working on the launch of our membership website.  Our goal is to have our members benefit from the partnerships we have made with many companies across Canada such as Vistaprint and Staples.  We would love the readers to join our network as well as to refer the network to others.  We can be found at www.canadiansmallbusinesswomen.ca

 

Passing the pen to next week:

Sandra Dawes is a certified life coach specializing in helping women who feel unfulfilled with their 9-5 follow their dreams and pursue their passions. She holds an Honours BA, an MBA as well as a certificate in Dispute Resolution.  She has completed her first book Embrace Your Destiny: 12 Steps to Living the Life You Deserve!

Connect: www.embraceyourdestiny.cawww.twitter.com/sandradawes

 

Tamara is the founder and creative director of Sweet Clover Studios. A creative space where design, inspiration and the desire-to-grow combines to produce purposeful materials. From surface pattern designs to children’s books, the process and personal insights are shared to create community and an example of multi-passionate creativity.

http://www.SweetCloverStudios.com  or Instagram : @sweet_clover_studios

 

Happy Blogging!!

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