Tag Archives: Canadian Small Business Women

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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5 Ways to Make Your Audience Love Your Brand

CHuntly

Without an audience, it’s kind of hard to run a business. A growing customer base will drive your business growth. There are a lot of other brands out there, so how do you get your customers to choose you over your competitors? And once you have their attention, how do you build a loyal, long-term relationship with them?

Here are five ways for you to create a strong and loyal relationship with your audience. Five ways to get them to fall in love with you.

  1. Be authentic: If you are constantly selling and trying to put a spin on your sales pitch, you will come across like a pushy and dishonest salesman who will say anything to get the sale. Your brand should have characteristics that are attractive to your audience – values and ethics that show what you stand for. When you communicate with your audience, find ways to make personal connections with them that go beyond selling. Once they are loyal to your brand, the sale is inevitable because what you are offering will be top of mind.
  2. Talk with them, not at them: Many brands get stuck in a rut where they are constantly pumping out content, but they don’t take the time to interact with their audience. It should be about generating meaningful dialogue on your marketing channels, whether more traditional or digital. In many cases, brands could put out less content if they up the engagement factor with their audience. It becomes a case of quality vs. quantity. And if you are a small business owner wearing multiple hats, it’s about finding efficiencies in your marketing strategy that will get you higher returns on your efforts.
  3. Tell them you appreciate them: That feel-good feeling is pretty contagious. If your existing customers are happy, they will tell their friends. Create opportunities to show your appreciation through loyalty programs and content that is directed towards customers. The brands that do well are as grateful for an audience of 500 as they are an audience of 500,000. You will find that once you start appreciating each individual customer they will start multiplying pretty fast.
  4. Create an experience: You should showcase the positive experiences your audience can have with your brand through your blog, social media, and other channels. Take it a step further and create those experiences through public stunts and events where they can’t help but get involved with your brand. Not only will this showcase what you have to offer, but it will generate an emotional connection with your audience because you are making a direct impact on their lives.
  5. Love yourself: Self-hype can be detrimental if you ignore things that should be improved. However, you can’t make someone else love you if you don’t love yourself. You should always start out looking internally, getting to know your brand, and pointing out everything that is great about your brand. This will jumpstart any successful marketing strategy.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.

Connect with Candace

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

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Hanna Guerra: Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of August 2016

hg-round hanna

Hanna has a deep and varied skill set in the local and digital marketing arena where she specializes in putting together marketing strategies and implementing and executing lead generation activities for various franchise systems. Hanna is the Founder and CEO of 24/7 Virtual Marketing (www.247virtualmarketing.com), a company that helps entrepreneurs, small to medium sized businesses, franchisors, and franchisees get more leads and convert those leads into sales. Hanna is also a certified Get Clients Now! Facilitator and is excited to launch her Get Clients Now! 28-Day Program in mid to late September 2016.

A couple of years ago when Hanna dove in headlong into the exciting – and sometimes frustrating – world of marketing and business development consultancy, she’s already had years of experience building her own successful brick and mortar business from the ground up. Her early success was due to consistent analysis and adjustment of marketing activities as well as implementation of systems and processes.

While Hanna enjoyed the crazy busy hours of business ownership of a brick and mortar business with high six-figure annual income and double digits monthly expenditures, she felt the pull to change for her growing family. Hanna has a son and a daughter who are growing way too fast! With her current business development and marketing consultancy business, she enjoys flexible hours working in her home office and in a quaint office near Square One, Mississauga.

Though she believes that one can’t truly achieve work and life balance, Hanna is okay with that…as long as she is there for her kids and the kids know that no matter how busy business and life gets, they are her priority. For more information on Hanna’s marketing consultancy and group coaching programs, please visit her site: www.HannaHelps.com.

Our Q & A with Hanna:

*What inspires you?

I am constantly inspired by business owners who show commitment and grit to do what it takes to move their business, their vision, their goals forward.

*As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?

The day I started saying “no” to the wrong clients was the day my business started to really move forward!
*What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?

Know your strengths, know your weaknesses and find a way to develop processes and systems that address these strengths and weaknesses. And, truly, don’t undermine yourself.

*What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?

I am truly excited to launch my group coaching programs as a Get Clients Now! facilitator. My 28-Day lead generation marketing programs for entrepreneurs and small business will truly help them understand what they need to do and develop a consistent way of generating leads for their business.

 

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3 Reasons Self-Reflection Matters In Business

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In a life of business, it can become tempting to look forward and outward. You’re always striving for success, dealing with competition, and looking to better yourself, your company, or both. There are external forces at work, and there’s always someplace higher to climb. This is good. It’s a spirit of pursuit that drives some of the most successful people in business! But I’d also argue that it’s important for anyone who hopes to be successful in this kind of environment to learn the value of self-reflection. With so much focus outward and upward, here are three reasons I’d argue looking inward matters, too.

1. You Can Understand Yourself Better

The clearest benefit of self-reflection is that it can help you to gain a better understanding of your own personality or tendencies. This is true both in general and with regard to your performance in business. Self-reflection is the process of asking yourself questions to develop a deeper level of understanding about yourself, as stated in a blog post at a tech communications site. It’s actually one of the more effective definitions out there. You simply get to know yourself better, and you do so in a way that can allow you to better shape yourself as an business owner, employee, or entrepreneur.

2. You Can View Your Own Development

In addition to gaining a better understanding of yourself in a given moment or situation, self-reflection can also help you to better view how you’ve developed over time, and what that development might say about you. At an online coaching platform for MBA applicants, one student discusses the benefit of making sense of previous experiences while writing about himself. This in essence is another way of saying that through self-reflection, this student gained a more thorough understanding of what had driven him to a given point, including successes and failures. Feeling out your own history this way can help you to understand what works and what doesn’t work for you, and it can influence your actions moving forward in a very real way.

3. You Can Increase Your Leadership Capacity

It falls in line with the idea of understanding yourself and your own tendencies. However, an article at LinkedIn pointed out that self-reflection in a business environment can also help you to gain an increased awareness of problematic performance traits, the same way you might look to recognize them in employees or co-workers. With this in mind, you can actually approach self-reflection almost as a kind of performance review for yourself, particularly if you happen to be in a position of leadership. You can recognize problematic traits and address them so as to become a more effective leader and co-worker.

It’s always a good idea to look inside, perhaps particularly so when you’re in the middle of a fast-paced, competitive work environment. With too much focus on external forces and the drive forward, you can easily lose sight of what it is that makes you effective in your job, or what it is you might need to work on. Taking regular time for self-reflection can work wonders.

Patti Conner

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3 Reasons We Have to Learn to Say No

sandra

I’ll admit that there was a time when saying no was a problem for me. As a chronic people pleaser, I was always saying yes to things I should have been saying no to. It led to overwhelm, frustration and often times, resentment. This is why I feel pretty confident in sharing these three reasons why we have to learn to say no.

  1. You risk becoming a bitter b-tch

When we don’t have boundaries, there are always going to be people who take advantage of the situation. If you don’t want to feel like you’re constantly being treated like a doormat, you’re going to have to put on your big girl panties and start saying no. Sure it will feel uncomfortable at first, but if you don’t learn how to say no soon, you’re going to end up bitter and resentful. When it gets to this point you run the risk of saying no to things you should actually be saying yes to.

  1. There’s always someone else who will say yes

Many times we choose to say yes because we worry that if we don’t the person asking will be left stranded. Whether we want to admit it or not, we’re playing the martyr in a situation like this. We feel like we have to sacrifice our time and do what’s asked of us because if we don’t the world will come to a complete standstill. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but as wonderfully special as you are, you cannot possibly be the only go-to person for every favour request. Believe me when I say that even if you say no, it will get done – eventually 🙂

  1. You’ve got your own empire to build!

I’m sure you have your own list of things to accomplish, goals you want to achieve, dreams you want to make a reality. If you spend all your time taking care of everyone else’s needs, when do you find the time to get the things that are important to you done? You’ve got to find a way to balance it all. If you haven’t reviewed your priorities lately, then there’s no time like the present! If we don’t identify what’s important to us, then we don’t know where we should be focusing our time and energy. When we lack focus, it’s so much easier to get pulled in many different directions, none of them serving our needs in any way.

It’s okay to say no sometimes. Know that NO can actually be a full and complete sentence. You don’t have to give an explanation or justify it. If you feel you need to, go ahead. I’ll give you this warning though – no matter what the explanation is; there will be those that don’t want to hear it. Especially those who are used to you saying yes all the time. Some will even consider this change in behaviour a bit selfish. The good news is that most will respect you for it in the long run and your relationships will benefit as well. Like TD Jakes says, “greatness is contagious”. You might as well focus on your greatness so that you can lift those around you to the same level. If you don’t have the time to focus on you, how will you ever become the rising tide that lifts all boats?

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.ca

www.facebook.com/embraceyourdestiny

www.facebook.com/embraceyourdestinythebook

www.twitter.com/sandradawes

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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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Dealing with a negative review

CHuntly

You put your heart and soul into building your business. Whether you sell a product or a service, no matter how amazing it is, it’s inevitable you are going to run into a few negative reviews. They can crop up for any number of reasons: the customer is having a bad day; something went wrong with your product/service; what you offer really just wasn’t a good fit with the customer; or perhaps it was the ever-present internet troll (people who will do or say anything to get a rise out of someone).

Whatever the reason for the negative review, don’t take it personally.

Here are a few things to consider so you can come out ahead after a bad review.

  1. CREATE A PLAN: In fact, if you have protocols in place ahead of time, then you can be strategic about your response rather than rely on decisions that might be based on an emotional reaction. Regardless of the situation, how you respond shouldn’t differ.
  2. DON’T WAIT TOO LONG TO RESPOND PUBLICLY: Gage the situation – if it’s an internet troll, they are just looking for an argument. If it’s a credible customer situation, respond strategically within 48 hours. A quick response and an attempt at a positive outcome reflects positively on you. In many cases the review may be edited or deleted if they are happy, but never ask them to remove a bad review.
  3. TAKE IT OFFLINE: While it’s good for everyone to see that you are listening to your customers and are concerned about their experience with your brand, you don’t need to air all of the nitty gritty details of the situation publicly. Ask to move the conversation to private message, email, or even a phone call, depending on the situation.
  4. CREATE A DIALOGUE: A bad review is a great opportunity for you to build a strong foundation for a long-term relationship with a customer. You are both human, after all. Show a willingness to work with them, be truthful, but keep it neutral – keep emotion out of your problem-solving.
  5. Don’t pick a fight: STOP YELLING AT PEOPLE BY RESPONDING IN ALL CAPS! It just makes you look like you are ready for a fight. Apologize and move on.
  6. TAKE IT SERIOUSLY: Your customers and potential customers are always listening. A bad review can turn away customers and you may not have a chance to win them back. If more than one person has the same complaint, then you need to take a step back and review your approach – that many people can’t be wrong.
  7. ENCOURAGE CUSTOMER REVIEWS: A great loyalty program or contest can encourage your customers to review you. The goal is to outweigh the bad with the good. You can’t (and shouldn’t) have the negative review removed but the more reviews you have, the more credible you look.
  8. LEARN FROM IT: A negative review is a great chance for you to learn more about what types of customers you shouldn’t Refine your target audience by listening. You can also tweak your approach and potentially your product/service offering based on negative reviews. Remember, multiple negative reviews about the same thing means that you are doing something wrong.

A negative review doesn’t have to be the end of the world. How you choose to deal with it will either allow you to come out ahead or fall behind. The important thing to remember is that you can always work to win back favour from your customers if you do it in the right way.

Have you gotten a negative review and you’re not sure what to do, or maybe you handled it wrong? Feel free to reach out so I can help you find a solution that is right for you.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.

Connect with Candace

Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/email/Website

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Let’s Play A Game

Sheralyn

Sometimes in this space we talk about communication. Well, ok – usually in this space communication is ALL we talk about!  Occasionally it’s tips and tools, sometimes it is general open-ended advice applicable to any business and today, we would like to share something we do each week in an effort to engage both new and existing customers. It might seem a little self-indulgent but we hope you’ll go along with us and possibly pick up some helpful advice along the way.

There are two things we do each week to engage and interact with our audience. If you’ve never followed the links at the bottom of this post in order to view our business facebook page, I invite you to do so, in order to see what it’s all about. Once there, you might consider how you can adapt the concept to best suit your business.  Perhaps you are hoping to drive more traffic to your website. Maybe your facebook page needs more likes. Either way, we encourage you to consider “having a conversation” with your customer, as a means to potentially increasing your bottom line.  In today’s digital economy, communication often takes on a new and unique meaning. Conversations don’t necessarily take place face to face and in fact, you may never meet your customer or client in person. How do you have a “conversation” without ever speaking a word? Well one of things we do at Writing Right For You is play games and share information!

Each week we play “Wordplay Wednesday”™ and “Fun Fact Friday.”™ Wednesday is an opportunity to engage followers in a challenging exercise usually involving homonyms. We interact with our audience as they attempt to guess the word of the day. Occasionally, a Timmies gift card is the prize. Playing our Wordplay Wednesday challenge drives traffic to our facebook page and website too. We engage and interact with both existing and potential customers in a light-hearted and fun way that involves absolutely no sales pressure whatsoever.  This is followed up each Friday with our Fun Fact word of the day where we share the weird and wonderful world of the English language, explaining the meaning behind such unusual words as “quidnunc.” (Yup, it really is a word!)

Not everything in business needs to be about “the sale.” By engaging customers in new and unique ways however, a sale might just be the end result. Consider what you can do to engage, interact and have a “conversation” with both new and existing customers, without ever picking up the phone. Stop by our page first….increase your vocabulary, share your new found knowledge with your own customers and hey, you might win a coffee while you’re at it!

 

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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Angela Boschee: Canadian Small Business Woman of the Month of July 2016

Angela at Runwayz
Runwayz began in 2005 as a home based business and has to grown to our current location in downtown Medicine Hat, Alberta. We are pleased to offer unique and hard to find gift ideas including general gift ware, baby and kids clothing and toys, ladies footwear and accessories, and home accents. We are thrilled to be soon celebrating our website’s one year anniversary! Our website isrunwayzboutique.com and we ship anywhere in the world.

Province

AB

Company Mission

We enjoy providing a great variety of hard to find and one of a kind gift ideas for everyone on your list!

Product/Service Description

Unique Gift Ideas
Ladies Footwear, Accessories, and More
Baby and Kids Clothing & Toys
Home Accents

Journey to Mompreneurship

Every since I was a little girl I dreamed of owning my own store someday. That dream combined with a love of shopping brought me to where I am today. I am thrilled to own my own boutique, balancing being a stay at home Mom with my store. I also love to host local small business showcases, continuing to offer small businesses such as myself a place to present what they have to offer to our community! I also enjoy supporting various fellow Mompreneurs by offering their products through our store,
Our Q & A with Angela
*What inspires you? 
I draw inspiration from many things including my friends and family, God, and fellow entrepreneurs that I admire.
*As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?
We are just wrapping up celebrating a milestone … 10 years in business!  I am really grateful to have reached the 10 year mark.  I am also very proud of all the work that has gone into creating our websiterunwayzboutique.com
Another thing that I truly enjoy is networking with other small businesses and hosting small business trade shows.  I truly enjoy helping others and am proud of the success of the shows that we have hosted.
*What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
Be open to continual research and change to stay in the running
*What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?
Some exciting new products in the areas of general giftware especially.
Follow us on twitter and like us on face book (as listed below) to stay in the loop!  We also have a newsletter sign up on our web page.
Like Angela’s page on facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/Runwayzboutique

Visit her website
http://runwayzboutique.com

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