Tag Archives: small business owners

3 Reasons Self-Reflection Matters In Business

Reflection_1

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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10 Reasons to Tweet Today

Kelly Farrell - Teach Me Social -headshot (2)

When I talk about Twitter to small business owners, I am usually greeted by a look of trepidation before being asked, “Do I really need to be on Twitter?” Twitter has evolved from a simple social network since the first Tweet was sent in March 2006 to the global news source and intricate social sharing environment it is today. Recently, Twitter has even taken leaps into the future of live broadcasting by signing deals with large networks to provide live content via the platform.

With 310 million monthly active users, it is hard to ignore the power of Twitter for small businesses to reach an engaged audience. But, if you need more convincing, here are 10 reasons to start tweeting today!

1.FREE:  Twitter is free to use – The only cost is time and effort to send unlimited Tweets. Of course, like all social platforms, there is also the option to ‘promote’ your tweets with PPC advertising which has grown 208% year-on-year in 2016.

2.CURRENT:  Your presence on social media platforms such as Twitter shows that your business is keeping up ‘with the times’! Did you know that 1.3billion Twitter accounts have been created and over 500 million tweets are sent daily?

3.INDUSTRY NEWS:  Using Twitter can help you keep up with what is going on in your industry.  You can keep tabs on your competition and get the latest news by following relevant hashtags. (ie. #CSBWBiz)

4.QUICK: Twitter is a fast way to get a message out, especially about upcoming events or sales.  Printing, distributing and even website and email marketing take time and planning. Keep in mind that tweets with pictures get 150% more retweets!

5.NETWORKING:  Using Twitter gives you the chance to meet and talk with tons of new people, influencers in your industry, and the opportunity to discover leads you might not otherwise have made.

6.REACH: Twitter can expand your market reach through followers, re-tweets, and #hashtags.  People may stumble across your profile and tweets by chance and 55% of Twitter users admit they have taken action based on a tweet from a brand. (ie. clicked on a link)

7.COMPETITION:  Your competition is quite likely already on Twitter and tweeting away. 70 percent of small businesses are on Twitter and the average Twitter user will follow at least 5 businesses.

8.FEEDBACK:  The conversations, re-tweets, and favorites you receive in Twitter can act as great feedback as to what is popular and what is not in terms of your online brand, not to mention that 77% of users said they felt more positive towards a brand that replied to their tweet!

9.ENGAGEMENT: 80% of Twitter users have mentioned a brand in a tweet, and Twitter allows you to maintain customer relationships both before, during, and after a purchase and act as a constant reminder that you exist.

10.SHORT: With only 140 characters each tweet is short and sweet that allows you to share tidbits and updates without having to write an entire blog post.


 

Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over four years. Teach Me Social now offers services ranging from training sessions for small business owners and their teams to full-service social media account management. Visit teachmesocial.ca to learn more about our service offerings or to book a no obligation consultation, including an audit of your existing social media channels.

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What Is The Deal With Membership Sites?

Malene Jorgensen

A membership site as a business model is becoming a very interesting way of doing business. Many people have found that teasing some content in a webinar and then offering paid content to customers is a profitable way of doing business. For example, a personal coach gives a webinar on the importance of having a healthy life in all aspects.

Once the webinar is done, the creator will give a discount on a course or a membership deal that gives customers tools to get that ideal lifestyle. This can be PDFs, videos and other goodies, only accessible via a paid membership.

This is a business model that has grown tremendously over the past year. But as with any business model, this is not a guaranteed model. Even though some people have found success using this model, this is far from a successful one. Many people will simply copy concepts and information already used by professionals.

In addition, there are marketing hurdles, as webinars are best marketed on social media pages. But you will be competing with all other webinars and memberships available online.

If you can put your own twist on this membership business structure, feel free to try it out.

 

Malene Jorgensen is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Jorgensen is passionate about online content, blogging, online business development and e-commerce. She owns an international media publishing company and a design studio. Jorgensen has written several books that are sold in over 50 countries. She is also obsessed with coffee and Twitter. You can reach Malene Jorgensen at Website | LinkedIn | Twitter Instagram

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Lessons from social entrepreneurs for newbie self-starters

As an organization that helps socially conscious ideas come alive, our teams faces the same challenges faced by first-time entrepreneurs. Perhaps you can relate to this:

marisol blog image 1

Here are 3 tips from this #socent gal for all you lovely folks:

 

  1. It’s All In The Details

Many starter projects struggle through the infancy stages. During this period, projects are usually not fully developed yet, missing details, or are unable to fully guarantee success. During this stage, nothing is perfect. Money is tight, and manpower limited.

However, if you are just testing the waters, but don’t have everything figured out, or feel a little insecure about your project – Don’t worry. Just make sure you are able to communicate your project ideas and the intended outcomes clearly. Being able to do so will already set you apart from many other entrepreneurs.

Amidst the unpredictability of starting off, use storytelling and visuals to minimize misunderstandings for your listeners. Moreover, try to engage your audience by carefully crafting your communications material ahead of time, and have someone else review it for you.

  1. Keep Growing Your Track Record

We all know it. Starting a business can put a big financial stress on business owners – no matter how well prepared they are. Plans can fall through, partnerships may crumble, economic climates will change.

When money is not falling from the sky, always remind yourself to be patient, and that clients seek out proven track records and testimonials. The more opportunities you have to prove yourself, the easier it will be to command the fees you want. Hence, look for opportunities to showcase your skills.  If you’re creative in demonstrating your abilities, the value of your product, and are not afraid to take risks (an essential part of the entrepreneurial DNA), clients will take notice, thereby making it easier for you to adjust your pricing in the long-run.

  1. Don’t Listen to Fear

People sense desperation and fear in email replies, when conducting meetings, or even when negotiating prices. And it sucks. Because if anything, fear is the last thing anyone needs – especially, when you’re already struggling to pay your bills.

Whenever you feel restlessness and desperation kicking in, just sit back, breathe and take a step back. Remind yourself of why you started. Acknowledge that failure is part of the journey. But most importantly, stop internalizing these feelings of inadequacy, and embrace the natural progression in your business.

And if all fails, be confident even when you’re not. If you have to, practice your pitch in the bathroom mirror until the words naturally glide off your tongue. Attend meetings with someone, especially if you know that person is going to fortify your presentation or overall standpoint. In other words, fake it until you make and don’t be afraid to own all the work you’ve put into your business.

Written by Marisol and Silvia Fornoni, Founders of JDC.

JDC supports socially conscious organizations with finding sustainable ways to tell their stories using visual design, engaging content and non-traditional media. We help you with anything from organizing fundraising campaigns to web design and social media management.

http://www.joint-development.com

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Why small businesses NEED to tweet at events

Evelyn

I recently attended a networking event for small business owners in Toronto. The theme of the evening was digital marketing. Overall the event was well organized with informative speakers, good raffle prizes and a nice mix of marketers and small business owners.

But what surprised me was how few people were tweeting at the event. Perhaps it’s just that I’m used to going to events packed with social media managers and non-profit communicators, but I was a little disappointed by the lack of networking being done online.

For me, events are always played out on two fields: the action happening live in front of me and the commentary on that action online. Often I find this commentary as interesting, if not more so, then the speakers I’m there to see.

Live-tweeting events is a great way to give your business a boost online. Hashtags organize the conversations taking place, making it easy to follow the action. Plugging into hashtags makes new followers, mentions and retweets much more likely than your average day-to-day Twitter activity, especially if the event becomes popular and trends.

But there are a few things you need to do before you even arrive at the event to make sure that you get the most out of your live-tweeting experience.

Know the hashtag. This seems obvious to those more seasoned tweeters, but it’s important to mention anyways. The day of the event the organizers are probably promoting the event online. Visit their Twitter account to find out both the proper hashtag and their Twitter handle. Once you have that information do a search on Twitter and save the search so that you can access it easily later.

Follow the speakers. Find out who the speakers are going to be (event emails and websites usually have this information) and then find out if they are online. Make a note of their Twitter handles and be sure to follow them. Then at event time you won’t have to scramble to find them or worry about misspelling their names.

Prepare some tweets ahead of time. This is a great way to let people know that you will be at the event and gives them the opportunity to follow you. It also increases your visibility once the event starts. Tweet about your attendance on the day and days leading up to the event. Shout out to the speakers how much you are looking forward to their talks. On the day of you can prepare some tweets to be sent out during the event so that you have more time to actually enjoy it.

Know when to put the phone down. You need to balance the benefits of tweeting with real world networking. Send enough tweets and retweets to gain visibility and make a meaningful contribution to the conversation, but make sure that you also talk to people face-to-face. That’s the reason why you’re there!

Evelyn Senyi is the owner and chief marketer for Recurve Marketing, a Toronto-based digital marketing agency that offers creative, effective and affordable marketing strategies for Canadian small businesses and non-profit organizations. Follow Recurve on Twitter @recurve_ca and on Facebook www.facebook.com/recurvemarketing.ca.

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GTA EVENTS

March 21st

Twitter Bootcamp for Small Business Owners

Mississauga, 10am – 12pm

Teach Me Social

INFO: CLICK HERE

Visual Marketing Bootcamp for Small Business Owners

Mississauga, 1pm – 3pm

Teach Me Social

INFO: CLICK HERE

March 27th

Young Entrepreneurs in Toronto

Toronto, ON 6pm

INFO: CLICK HERE

April 9th

Social Media Time Management Bootcamp for Small Business

Mississauga, 2pm – 4pm

Teach Me Social

INFO: CLICK HERE

April 22nd

B2B Networking: Sales

Four Points by Sheraton Mississauga

Speaker: Julie Flippin

Info: CLICK HERE

Apr 26th

You Inspire Me Women Quarterly Event

Mississauga, ON

INFO: CLICK HERE

Apr 26th

TOR CAR

Red Rose Convention Centre

The Toronto Caribbean Business Expo 2015

Speakers: Various

Info: CLICK HERE

April 29th

FREE FACEBOOK CHAT

Vistaprint and Canadian Small Business Women

8pm – 9pm

Info: CLICK HERE

May 11th

im the boss

Montecassino Hotel & Event Venue

I AM THE BOSS 2015

Speakers: Various

Info: CLICK HERE

June 06th

Author Summit

Publisher Production Solution

Vendor Opportunity and Workshops

INFO: CLICK HERE

Aug 22nd

WomanLOGO_5b

Toronto Airport West Hotel

Canadian Small Business Women

VENDORS WANTED!!

Info: CLICK HERE

Nov 8th

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Toronto

Immigrant Women’s Small Business Expo

EXHIBITORS WANTED!!

Info: CLICK HERE

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Working With Disabled And Special Needs Clients

Martina New

What if you wanted to attend networking meetings and other professional events, and you physically couldn’t get into or stay at a venue because of stairs, doors, fixed seats, and inaccessible washrooms preventing your access?

At a recent networking event, speaker Lauri Sue Robertson, a disability awareness consultant, gave an overview of a plethora of challenges she herself has faced trying to get into businesses, event venues, restaurants, and hotels. She teaches people who aren’t disabled, how to work with people who are.

The Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) applies only to business owners who have employees. In that case, you are responsible for training your staff in customer service for disabled persons, and you need to make certain provisions for the hiring and assistance of employees who may have disabilities.

Even business owners without employees are well served to be aware and able to accommodate clients with special needs. In Canada, at least 15% of the population lives with one or more disabilities, so chances are you will encounter clients who are affected.

Lauri emphasised that what persons with disabilities want most is independence, dignity, and to be able to make their own decisions. This means if you plan to meet a prospect or client in a public place, for example a café or restaurant, and you know they have a disability, be sure to ask them for their preferred meeting location. If they use a mobility device or have a visual impairment, you want to be sure they can safely access the venue, move around comfortably inside it, and also be able to use the washroom.  If you are an event organiser, these aspects are also important and it is helpful to include mention of accessibility, or lack thereof, on your event notice and registration page.

If your client will be accompanied by a service animal, which apparently can be a dog or a wide range of other trained animals, Lauri says the onus is then on the client to alert you of the fact and ensure you don’t have a fear or allergy towards their particular service animal – because apparently even rats might be companion animals! (Although currently only trained companion dogs are permitted into restaurants and cafés.)

Lauri also pointed out that if your client needs to lip-read what you say, don’t exaggerate your speech or your mouth movements and don’t shout, as this makes lip-reading difficult or impossible. Speak normally, just make sure you’re looking right at the person.

I thought I was doing quite well in my general awareness of how to acknowledge and work with someone with special needs, until Lori told us that web designs are often a large hurdle in terms of accessibility. I had no idea! Websites with photos and images without a text-only alternative are difficult or even impossible for a blind person to navigate with a “screen reader”. A screen reader essentially reads out the content of the website and helps to navigate from one page or section to the next. This requires a text alternative to your web content, as well as a good document structure, e.g. with headings, lists, and other structural elements that provide meaning and facilitate keyboard navigation.

According to Lauri, so much more needs to be done to raise awareness of how, and how not to act around people with special needs or disabilities. Most importantly, she says, avoid making assumptions about what the person is able to do, or may or may not want you to do or help with. The best thing to do is ask how you can help. And don’t be offended if any assistance you offer is politely declined.

 

Source: Lauri Sue Robertson, www.disabilityawarenessconsultants.com

Martina Rowley is the Chief VA of Beach Business Hub Virtual Assistance Services. She can handle many of your recurring or one-off administrative tasks, client and project management, organisational challenges and more. Let this VA give you a hand! Contact her at:http://www.beachbusinesshub.ca, on Facebook and on Twitter

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Personal Business Planning

Tamara 14 (1)

When you hear the term ‘Business Plan’, you may immediately picture the intense moment of pitching an idea to an investor, hoping to secure some funding for your growing business. In this moment, the investors are going to want to see all of your numbers; sales, equity offer, profit margins etc. All of which would be in a professionally presented ‘Business Plan’. What I am introducing here is a different kind of business planning that is created for you, by you. A Personal Business Plan.

Why, (you may be wondering) do you need a ‘Personal’ Business plan? I propose that writing a vision for your business beyond a mission statement (as well as creating a system to work though strategies for growth), will help keep you aligned to your ‘big’ picture of your business and it’s potential future. Whether you will need partners in the future – planning your business with a personal approach can help you reach those goals by laying a foundation that is specifically aligned to your skills, abilities and personal preferences in business (Note: this isn’t the plan that you would share with the bank. This one is just for you).

A ‘Personal Business Plan’ (from my perspective) still dives into the nuts and bolts of business. Covering all of the basics from defining your customer avatar to building a brand to planning a promotion. The difference is that the plans you make relate to who you are as a person and what you want for your future. Here is what I mean:

Within ‘Personal Business Plans’, I encourage you to ask yourself questions that only you can answer; instead of thinking about what someone else may think is ‘right’. These questions will help you identify the lifestyle and purpose around your business, which will inevitably increase personal satisfaction and intrinsic motivation in the long run. Using ‘Defining Customer Avatar’ as an example. Instead of just asking: ‘Who has the most money to spend in this category?’ (Which I still think you need to ask), I suggest thinking about how you personally relate and whom you want to work with. For example: If part of your life experience has included raising children in a rural community with no access to recreation programs – you would probably understand that particular population on a level that cannot be identified on paper. Lifestyle wise, if you are in a season of your life where you want to be traveling, this is where you would ask yourself ‘Will my ideal client/avatar be interested in attending VIP event across the country?’ .If they aren’t – are you willing to sacrifice that need of yours? Or do you need too? Only you know.

Asking questions is part of the process; the other aspect of Personal Business Planning is to reference your future vision with daily choices. When you craft your plans in a way that includes your ultimate goals it can steer you in a direction that you are going to be happy with in the long run. An investor may not know that you see yourself living in on a beach in Hawaii or helping to raise your grandchildren in how ever many years.

Personal Business Planning is a strategy that I have seen many successful female entrepreneurs embrace and I encourage you to try it out and see if it can guide you to the next stage of your growing business.

Tamara is the owner and designer at ‘Your Pretty Pages’ where she provides templates, planners, guides and resources for creative entrepreneurs to get and stay organized. To support your successful personal business planning, Tamara has just released two savings bundles of templates in her shop found here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/yourprettypages

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A Roadmap for your Journey

Sheralyn

Every day we are surrounded by the need to make decisions. The sheer multitude can be overwhelming, from the trivial “what should I make for dinner tonight?” to the triumphant, “should I invest in a storefront location for my home-based business?” When you’re an entrepreneur, these decisions are often made alone or in consultation with family or friends who while helpful, are not as invested (literally and figuratively) in the business as you are. Decision – making can be daunting.

Canadian Astronaut Chris Hadfield identified the ability to make a decision and stick to it as one of life’s five most critical skills. I couldn’t agree more and struggle daily to help instill this skill set in my children. Decision-making must be fostered from a very early age and parents should recognize that allowing a child to stomp her feet at age 4 and refuse to wear a coat in winter will help her to understand the consequence of that decision – that she’ll get pretty darn cold! Determining whether to attend College or University is more daunting than a coat crisis but the process remains essentially the same – it’s only the magnitude of the decision that varies.

My suggested Decision Making Model runs almost counter-intuitive to many other business theories that require a solid foundation upon which you should build your framework. That is, that in decision-making, you should be working from a top down approach. What is your ultimate goal or vision? If decision-making is about “identifying and choosing alternatives among several possibilities” (1) shouldn’t you know where you want to go first? It helps narrow down the field of choice. Once you have a clear goal, (your Destination) start determining all the necessary steps (your ROUTE) that you need to take in order to get there. Visualize this process as you would a road map. We know that we need to get to Indiana for a hockey tournament. Indiana is the goal. What steps need to be taken to get us there? Using a map we might plot several routes. We should ask ourselves questions to help more clearly define the route chosen based on criteria that is important to us: which route is fastest, do we want to see any sights along the way, will we travel during the day or at night? Knowing clearly and precisely what the final destination is allows us to make the smaller decisions required to get us there.

It’s the same with business decisions. Using our store-front analogy, if you run a cake business from home and your dream is a clearly visualized bakery window on a pretty main street in your home town, start working backwards from that to determine what you need to do in order to make it happen. There are a multitude of business models for decision-making but really, it’s this simple: “G.G.W.C.I.” – it’s not pretty as an acronym but the process is “Goal, Gather, Weigh, Choose, Implement.” Your goal is a storefront location. Gather means to collect information related to that goal – in other words, do your research. Is such a location available and if so what is the cost and should you lease or buy? These questions will lead you to undertake a full financial analysis. Do you generate enough income to cover the monthly expenses, how much take home income do you need to finance your preferred lifestyle and you’ll need staff, can you afford to hire someone? Once you’ve gathered all your facts, weigh your options (a good old fashioned “pro and con” list never goes out of style) then choose. Make your decision, implement and watch it flourish.

As an entrepreneur, being successful also means asking for help from experts. I’m not going to plan that trip to Indiana without consulting Google maps – why try to accomplish something alone when information already exists and is readily accessible? Successful entrepreneurs don’t just learn by doing, they learn from the success and failure of others. When you’ve got a decision to make ask for help, support and guidance from your financial advisor, your bank, even your local Small Business Centre. Certainly, one of the smartest decisions you can make when going solo, is to surround yourself with a “team” of experts that can provide this kind of assistance along the way.

Making a decision also takes time. If your GOAL was clearly defined in the first place, it will already have a timeline associated with it. Colonel Hadfield, in his book “An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth” also shares insight on the importance of being able to make a decision quickly. Sometimes, like when you are strapped into a rocket, you don’t have the luxury of time to make a mission critical decision. That’s the other reason it is so important to start practicing decision-making as a skill set from an early age. That and about a million simulator experiences will ensure you can make a decision in seconds flat if required to. For those of us just making the decision whether to drive to Indiana and not something as dramatic as flying into space, it could just mean knowing how to react to icy road conditions in an emergency. Regardless of what your decision is, the making of that decision is a journey. Having a clearly defined map will help get you there but only if you know where you want to go first!

Your G.G.W.C.I. “Road Map” – Sheralyn Roman

  • GOAL- Your Destination
  • GATHER – Do your research, pull out maps, determine who or what can help you get to your destination and how you want to get there, by car, plane, train? Having a firm timeline helps you not only to reach your destination but to do so effectively and efficiently.
  • WEIGH your options: Which route is fastest and meets all my stated criteria and plan alternate routes in case of road-blocks.
  • CHOOSE & IMPLEMENT– pack up the car and go! (Always plan for emergencies too by taking along your tool-kit. Literally and figuratively!)

 

(1) Wikipedia

and

Chris Hadfield’s “An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth.

 

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

LinkedIn / Facebook / www.writingrightforyou.weebly.com

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