Tag Archives: solopreneur

How to Take a Vacation From Your Marketing

CHuntly

As a business owner, the most important thing you can do for yourself is take a break. It also happens to be the hardest thing to do if you are trying to run your business because the moment you go silent on the marketing front you will lose audience interest.

With the holidays right around the corner, it is the perfect time to take a breather from 24/7 entrepreneur brain. Taking both a physical and a mental break from your business (even if it’s a staycation) will help you avoid burn out.

If you’re looking to take some time off this holiday season, don’t let your marketing efforts suffer. Here are a few things to consider to keep that momentum going throughout your time away.

  1. Blog early: You should have a regular posting schedule for your blogs so your audience can come to expect content at a certain time. Keep that schedule going while you are away by writing your blogs ahead of time. Most blogging platforms will allow you to schedule each blog to go live at a specific day or time.
  2. Automation is your best friend: This requires a bit of planning, but if you work ahead of time, you can schedule content to go out while you are away. Work with a program like Hootsuite, Buffer, Mailchimp, etc. Try to stay away from the bots that automatically like and comment on posts as those can seem too contrived.
  3. Delegate tasks: If you already have a team in place, make sure you put someone in charge while you are away. Empower them to make decisions without you, but let them know that you are available for emergencies. If you are a solopreneur, hire someone you trust to look after things while you are gone. Start working with them at least a few weeks in advance so they are fully comfortable while you are away.
  4. Prioritize tasks: Not everything has to be done right now. Have a look through your to do list and rank everything by due dates. If there are things that need to get done before you leave, then get them done. If you have tasks with no due date or ones with later due dates, leave those to get done when you get back.

After taking some time for yourself, you will find that you return more refreshed, which usually leads to more energy to put into your business. Taking time away from your business will allow you to approach your business from a new perspective. It will make you a better business owner – and your marketing strategy doesn’t have to suffer.

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

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Why Female Entrepreneurs Need To Stop Apologizing

CHuntly

It’s no secret that women in positions of power often have to get there on a different track than their male peers. In 2011, only 15.5 percent of Canadian small and medium-sized businesses were owned by women. And that number doesn’t include solopreneurs who are trying to make their way on their own. The majority of those female entrepreneurs also have no business growth goals. Even if they do have growth in mind, female-owned businesses in Canada have lower growth rates than male-owned businesses.

Why is that? Well, as female entrepreneurs, we’re constantly having to apologize for appearing too harsh, too soft, too emotional, too masculine, too feminine, too unstable, too… everything. Of course, there are also women who want to own a business while having a family. We are constantly accused of wanting to have it all, but who says we can’t have it all?

As a business owner, I am constantly keeping myself in check, re-reading emails dozens of times before hitting send even if it’s a routine invoice reminder, a quick question about a project I’m working on, and just generally worrying that I would offend someone or, horribly, someone doesn’t like me.

A lesson I am learning on a daily basis as an entrepreneur is that not everyone is going to like you or how you run your business. Rather than dwelling on those people, focus on people who appreciate you. To stand out, female entrepreneurs need to stand up and use our voices. It’s OK to have an opinion. It’s OK to have ideas that are better than those of your peers. And it is definitely OK to talk about why you are so great.

The reality is that all business owners, men and women, should conduct themselves with a certain sense of tact and business etiquette, but stop apologizing for wanting to be a successful, female business owner. Set high goals for yourself and do what you need to do to get there.

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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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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6 things to consider before hiring an agency

CHuntly

When you are running a small business, it can feel overwhelming to try to “wear all the hats” to get things done. You have to be the new business development and sales manager, the accountant, product development, HR (even if you’re a solopreneur, you still have to take care of yourself!), marketing director, operations director, etc. You get the picture. It can be overwhelming to stay on top of everything while ensuring your business is growing at a rate you are happy with.

Perhaps you have thought about hiring someone, but you can’t necessarily cover a full monthly salary cost. You could consider an intern, but they may not have the experience necessary to get you to where you need to be. One option you may not have considered is hiring an agency to take care of your marketing efforts.

Maybe you aren’t ready to work with an agency to take your marketing off your to do list, but if you are, here are six things to look for in an agency.

  1. Chemistry: Sometimes you will have the option to “date before getting married” if you have a smaller project you want to work on before signing a longer-term commitment. This isn’t always the case, but either way you want to make sure that you have a good fit with the agency. They should uphold the same business values and ethical standards that you do as they are representing your brand.
  2. Budget transparency: It can be easy to take a “budget” at face value, but make sure you clarify all that is included in the budget. One of the biggest issues to cover is whether you are working on an hourly basis or with a set fee. If you are working hourly, you may be surprised when you get your bill at the end of the month as it might be higher than what was quoted. Negotiating a set fee will ensure you don’t pay for any overages in hours worked.
  3. Nothing is guaranteed: Be wary of any agency that will “guarantee” you specific results such as “We’ll get you TV coverage” or “We’ll guarantee you xx number of media hits” or even “We’ll guarantee you 50,000 followers within the first month.” I have worked with many clients who have been attracted by these guarantees only to find that they are empty. The key is finding an agency who is as invested in your success as they are their own. It should be more like a partnership than two separate entities.
  4. Know what success looks like: Work with your agency to determine how you will know when your campaign has been successful. Every industry has certain metrics they track, and they all mean different things for brands.
  5. Check their track record: A great agency will be able to put you in touch with current and former clients who will sing their praises. At the very least, they should be able to provide you with case studies of clients who have similar goals to your own. Just because an agency has a lot of clients listed on their site doesn’t mean they are the best at what they do.
  6. Know your account team: Don’t be afraid to ask who will be working on your account. It is common in a lot of agencies to sign a contract and then have the interns working on the bulk of the work to create higher profit margins for the agency. If you are concerned about this, just ask. Again, this is your brand, and you deserve to know who will be representing you to your audiences.

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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Creating Creativity on Demand

Sheralyn

It’s hard to be creative on demand and planning creative time is almost an oxymoron. How do you plan WHEN to be creative?  Sure a deadline can be a great motivator but getting creative on a timeframe is often a challenge. Many artistic people will talk about “when inspiration strikes” or about waking bolt upright in the middle of the night with a brilliant idea. But how do you manage being creative when you’ve only a limited amount of time in your schedule? How do you create creativity?

Your medium (whether it be art, music, the written word, website design or creating great advertising copy) and the team that surrounds you (or lack of team if you’re a solopreneur) will influence how you go about flipping the creative switch to “ON.”  Today, you can troll the Internet for inspiration and certainly you can look inwardly for significant events that might be turned into working material. Blogging for a consortium of dental professionals I was able to turn a recent uninsured $1350.00 dental bill into two separate blogs: one on how to negotiate the financing of treatment costs and the other concerning the various pain management techniques used during dental procedures. So, writing from life experience is one way to get the creative juices flowing, especially if you’re alone in running your business. If you’re part of a team however, you have the luxury of huddling with them behind closed doors – engaging in “free-thinking” or “thought-shower” sessions – talk about generating creative energy!

With either method, creativity, like almost anything else, requires work. You need to put the effort in to get the end product out. You need to invest time, you need to fuel your mind, body and soul appropriately and you need to practice it like you practice any other skill. That might mean that while your “brainwave” struck at 3am, you need to work at the process of refining your great idea during regular business hours.  When working, you also need to ensure you are properly rested, adequately hydrated and running on a “full tank.” Sound familiar? Whether you are an athlete or in advertising, you’re still a human being and we work best when we take the best possible care of ourselves. It may sound simple but it’s also true. It’s hard to be creative when the tank is running on empty!

How often have you heard “Practice, practice, practice?” One of the best methods for encouraging “spontaneous” creativity and improving your creative potential is to do EVEN MORE WRITING.  Take note of every idea you have and jot them down. You can always review each one later to flesh them out and see if they’ve got “legs.” Not every idea will have merit and some should die a natural death. However, that idea you typed into “Notes” on your iphone when you saw a trucker pull his air horn for a bunch of school kids? You might well turn it into a humorous “Back to School” article about the iconic things kids like to do while riding the school bus.  Whether you use pen and paper or an electronic format, keep some form of ongoing diary or recording of your many ideas and one day, when your stuck for inspiration, a search through one of your “old” notes might prove fruitful.

The idea of being creative can be particularly hard on the entrepreneur who wears multiple hats while supporting their business.  If you’re multi-tasking, coming up with good ad copy, blog material or website content might seem daunting. My simple suggestion here is to “write what you know.” Throw everything you know about your product or service at the screen and once all the words are there you can start the process of weeding out what you don’t need and playing around creatively with what you choose to keep. It’s a bit like planting a garden: you sketch the plan, dig out the border, plant, tend and water and then – you occasionally have to pull out some weeds. It’s work and it might take some time to see the results of your creativity. So you can create creativity, it just takes a little planning, a lot of tending and some careful culling.

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!

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writingrightforyou@gmail.com

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Solopreneurship: reality or illusion?

sandra

I’ve heard the term solopreneur used quite a lot recently, and there was a time when I identified with it.  I am, after all, doing my business solo, am I not?  What I am now realizing is that just because I’m the sole owner of the business, it doesn’t mean that I’m really doing it “on my own”.

Whether it’s the business coaches I’ve worked with, colleagues I’ve masterminded with or the team that I worked with to have my logo designed, there is no way I can say that this has been a solo endeavour.  Not to mention the love and support of friends and family along the way!  My first workshop, ice storm ridden book launch parties and even my very first client wouldn’t have been possible without my support network.

When you don’t have regular employees, it can be very easy to feel isolated and have the mistaken belief that you have to figure out everything on your own, but this isn’t the case.  I know from personal experience that it isn’t always easy to ask for help.  Many of us consider reaching out to others to be a sign of weakness, but this isn’t true at all.  The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to know everything there is to know about your business, never mind be capable of doing it all!

We need to be honest with ourselves about what our strengths and weaknesses are, as well as be aware of what activities generate revenue and those that don’t.  You don’t want to be spending your time doing things you find difficult or challenging if it’s not making you any money!  Hire people to do the things that aren’t revenue generators and focus your time and energy on making that money!

As entrepreneurs and small business owners we can fall into the trap of believing that we’re saving money by doing everything on our own, but that isn’t necessarily the case.  We can be missing out on the opportunity to generate significantly more revenue in our businesses if we focus our energy on doing what we do best and hire others to do the same for us.  Being the sole owner of a business doesn’t mean that we have to do it all on our own.  It means that we must be willing and able to build a team we trust and delegate as needed so that we can provide the best service to our clients!

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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Establishing your dream team

sandra

Entrepreneurship can be lonely. Especially if you’re a solopreneur like me! You can be left feeling very isolated from the rest of the world, and if you work from home, it can make things that much more challenging. That’s why attending networking events is great. It’s an opportunity to get out of the house and connect with people in the flesh rather than doing it through social media from the comfort of your own home.

Sometimes, however, networking isn’t enough. When you’re at a networking event, there isn’t usually enough time to talk to someone about the challenges you may be facing and seek guidance on how to overcome them. Let’s face it; most of us are wearing a mask of some sort when we’re at networking events. I don’t think I’ve never heard anyone at an event talking much about what isn’t working in their business. Everyone’s “really busy” and business always seems to be “great!”

So if networking events aren’t the place to talk about the challenges and obstacles you’re facing, where can you go? I’m lucky to have entrepreneurs in my circle of friends that I can talk to, but that’s not always enough. Mastermind groups are a great way to establish a formal team where each member supports one another in the pursuit of their business or professional goals (or both), a sounding board for ideas and a knowledge bank when difficulties arise.

If you’ve read the book Think and Grow Rich you know that a mastermind is what happens when 2 or more people come together for a common purpose. A mastermind group is like your personal board of directors. It’s about bringing the skills and knowledge that you don’t have to the table so that each member has something to contribute and can benefit from the knowledge at the table as well.

Creating a successful mastermind group can be a challenge. Everyone has hectic schedules these days and finding people who are willing and able to commit to meeting on a regular basis isn’t always easy. The mastermind group also has to be a conflict free forum. There can’t be competitors in the same group and everyone should be asked to complete a non-disclosure form. You want the members of the group to feel safe to share whatever they want and need to in order to help them and the rest of the team achieve their goals.

Putting together your dream team won’t necessarily be an easy task; however, once you have that team together, you’ll be amazed at the magic that takes place. The reality is that we can’t do it all on our own. As cliché as it may sound, the reality is that we don’t know what we don’t know. Putting together a team of colleagues with expertise that you each can benefit from accessing allows you to get varying perspectives. The team will ask questions you never considered, offer opportunities you didn’t even know existed, or have access to people you need to connect with.

“No two minds ever come together without a third invisible force, which may be likened to a “third mind”. When a group of individual minds are coordinated and function in harmony, the increased energy created through that alliance becomes available to every individual in the group.” ~ Napoleon Hill

If you’re interested in becoming part of a mastermind group, contact me for more information!

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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Dealing With Stress

sandra

 

 

As an entrepreneur stress can become a natural state of being.  There’s so much to do and not enough hours in the day to get it all done, and if you’re a solopreneur, the responsibility is totally in your hands!  This can be enough to drive the most efficient of us crazy, and in those moments of overwhelm, it can leave you wondering if having a desk job was really as bad as you once thought it was.

I’m no stranger to feeling stressed.  Even with meditation, yoga and a morning jog, there are times when I’ve had moments where I’m still left wondering where I will find the courage and strength to go on in difficult times, when the obstacles seem insurmountable!  Stress can take you right off track and take away your focus from the goal of growing your business and pursuing your passion.  It drains your energy, it takes a toll on your relationships and it takes up valuable time that you could be using to take your business to the next level!

Often, our main source of stress comes from fear.  Fear of the unknown, failure, or even success!  When we encounter obstacles, especially when we are starting out, it can be easy to consider these challenges a sign that your business isn’t meant to be.  If you’ve studied the stories of anyone that has achieved great success in their business, or life in general, there is rarely a time when barriers were not encountered.  What made those people successful was their ability to persevere and maintain their focus in spite of those challenges.  They have a strong belief in their vision and that is what gives them the ability to push through the obstacles and make their dreams a reality.

When you feel stressed, take a quick moment to ask yourself what exactly is stressing you out.  Is it the worry that the product or service you’re offering won’t attract any customers?  Are you taking on too much and need to hire someone, but you’re afraid you can’t afford it?  Instead of allowing stress to take over, take control of it and dig deep to find the root cause of your stress.  Only then can you find ways to minimize or eliminate it.

As entrepreneurs, we can’t allow stress to take away our power to make our dreams come true.  We all have a gift to share with the world, a purpose, a calling that is waiting to be fulfilled.  We have to believe in ourselves and have faith that everything is working out as it should (regardless of if it’s the way we want it to).  When we believe in ourselves and what we are doing, it makes it easier for others, including our future clients/customers to do the same, allowing us to grow our businesses from a place of authenticity and true service.

 

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 is working on her first book, Embrace Your Destiny: 12 Steps to Living the Life You Deserve!

Connect:
www.embraceyourdestiny.ca
www.facebook.com/embraceyourdestiny
www.twitter.com/sandradawes

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