Last Thursday evening I took part in a seminar we hosted at the Centre called “Use Online Content Conversation and Persuasion to Build Your Business”. The presenter Kenton Larsen was enthusiastic engaged the audience and was very knowledgeable about all kinds of social media platforms ...Read More +
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Last Thursday evening I took part in a seminar we hosted at the Centre called “Use Online Content, Conversation, and Persuasion to Build Your Business”. The presenter, Kenton Larsen, was enthusiastic, engaged the audience, and was very knowledgeable about all kinds of social media platforms, issues, and trends.
We discussed the BIG question, “Should I be on-line?” Deep down we all know the answer is YES but many entrepreneurs continue to resist setting up a web page and using social media to promote their businesses. By doing so, they are missing out on opportunities and potential business.
The online business trend will continue to grow so the next question is where should you be on-line? There are so many options: your own webpage, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, along with a host of platforms I’d never heard of. The key is to figure out which platform your customers are using and engage with them there. Kenton suggested that you identify your five biggest clients. Are they on Facebook, do they Tweet, are they fully connected on LinkedIn? Find the top three sites they use, and start using those.
Content is so important. Once you know which platforms are most used by your customers, plan what you are going to say to them. LISTEN to what they are saying and respond accordingly. Find out what your customers care about, find out what they are up to and update them with what you are doing.
Two important questions came from the seminar participants:
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
I was recently on the problem-solving website FixYa.com. This is a place where consumers can ask for help with problems they are having with a product. Like many forums, the question goes out to the readers who then submit suggestions. It is fascinating to see the energetic and clever solutions that come back – all free of charge.
I’ve been ruminating about why so many readers respond to the questions. Is it for the sheer joy of helping? While most people like to be helpful, I think there is more to it than that. There is a very structured and effective recognition component on FixYa.com. The more problems you solve the more points you earn. The more points you earn the higher you climb on the “expertise” ladder, resulting in growing respect within this on-line community.
Small business owners know that employee recognition is a powerful force. While they must be accompanied by monetary compensation that is competitive within the job market, recognition and respect always form part of a successful compensation package. Happy employees note that they are appreciated at work and are recognized for their contributions. The form of recognition depends on your organization but the continuum ranges from a gold star to front page headlines. (I don’t respond well to gold stars – I think it has something to do with a bad experience in Kindergarten.)
Staff Appreciation Day has become an annual event at the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba. A few years ago, we each received an Appreciation Box. All of our staff is encouraged to place positive, hand-written notes into the boxes of their colleagues, explaining to them why they are appreciated. Throughout the year I hear comments like, “I need to pull out my Appreciation Box and read all those notes again”. It is immensely gratifying to see in writing the positive impact you have on your co-workers. In addition, there is great value in taking time to think carefully about your co-workers and crafting a genuine comment for each of them. The Appreciation Boxes have provided us with a simple mechanism for saying thank you to the people around us.
As an employer you have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of your employees. Small business owners can implement recognition programs that don’t have to be financially onerous. As you build a workplace with an appreciative culture you will undoubtedly see the rewards. While some rewards are intangible, others can make a significant impact on the bottom line. You may see lower hiring costs due to low employee turnover or your team may be more efficient and effective because they are highly engaged.
So back to the question about helpfulness. I think the answer lies in the respect and recognition it can generate from our colleagues and clients. I know that entrepreneurs are innovative. I encourage you to take the time to create an organizational culture that recognizes the contribution your staff makes to the success of your business.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Yesterday the Women’s Enterprise Centre hosted its second monthly Business Breakfast. We launched this event in October because we were looking for a way to help professional women build their networks as well as provide them with information that they can use in the growth and development of their businesses. We hoped that the breakfasts would draw at least 25 women – this morning there were 33 in attendance and ready to go at 8:00 a.m. at that.
While some people really love networking, for many it can be a daunting task. It makes my palms sweat just thinking about striking up a conversation in a room full of strangers. The fear of networking can certainly be a deterrent to business development. One of the goals for our Business Breakfasts is to provide participants with the opportunity to practice networking in a comfortable and accepting environment. Each month we plan an activity that gently pushes everyone to mix and mingle – who knew that Speed Networking would be so much fun!
Since most of the participants are working to develop and enhance their networking skills, we invited Angela Wittmann, a Business Account Manager at Assiniboine Credit Union and one of the best networkers we know, to provide some tips and tools that have helped her to build business from scratch. Here are some highlights:
It is really something to hear a group of women networking. The conversation, laughter and support are palpable. While it might seem like work at the beginning, the more you do it the easier networking gets. The more you network, the larger your circle becomes and the less likely you will walk into that roomful of strangers.
As our speaker said this morning, “It’s funny how the harder I work, the luckier I get.”
Friday, November 08, 2013
On November 7, 2013 Barb Gamey was the keynote speaker at the Women’s Enterprise Centre of Manitoba’s Power Hour Luncheon. She is the co-founder, President and CEO of Payworks, a Winnipeg-based company focused on total workforce management solutions.
In 2012, Payworks was named one of Canada’s Best Managed Companies and Barb was honoured with a Momentum Award at the RBC Canadian Women Entrepreneur Awards. This Award recognizes female entrepreneurs whose companies have overcome challenges and achieved at least three consecutive years of revenue growth of 10 per cent or more.
During the luncheon, Barb shared her entrepreneurial journey and lessons she has learned along the way:
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Peter Van Stolk, founder of the Jones Soda company, was the keynote speaker at the Take the Leap conference in Dauphin recently. I recall when Jones Sodas came on the market a few years back, and it’s not because I like soft drinks (I never drink the stuff). I recall it because it was different. Jones Sodas had a distinctly new look, which separated it from all the other soft drinks on the market.
Jones Sodas are brightly coloured soft drinks in the clear bottles with funky labels. The labels feature a variety of black and white pictures of people doing stuff, and it’s obvious these pictures are not professional photos. No, the pictures on the labels are photos that have been taken and submitted by the general public. Anyone (anyone, including you and me) can send in a picture that they’ve taken for the chance to have it printed on a Jones Soda soft drink bottle. And from the customer’s perspective, Jones Sodas remain interesting because every time you buy a bottle there is quite likely a new picture featured that you’ve never seen before. I recall thinking, when I first discovered Jones Sodas…what a BRILLIANT idea!
Obviously, I was not the only one that thought it was a brilliant idea. In its early years, the Jones Soda company did hugely well. It even got to the point where it was listed on the NASDAQ Stock Market and had become the soft-drink sponsor for the Seattle Seahawks NFL team. But somewhere along the company’s journey of business growth, something went wrong because on Sept 20, 2012, it was delisted from the NASDAQ.
Well according to the “What caused Jones Soda to go flat?” article posted on MYNorthwest.com on Sept. 20, 2012, there were a few things that went wrong:
These are the issues that happen with business growth. Growth can move your company into higher levels of profitability but only if it is well- planned and well-managed. Planning and assessing all of the elements that you need to consider relative to your company’s growth is precisely what our My Gold Mine program is designed to do. Production, distribution, marketing, human resources, financial capacity, target markets, leadership, company focus and brand…all of these elements need to be considered and planned out if you want to increase the probability that your business growth will result in greater company profitability. Planned, strategic growth is what converts BRILLIANT ideas into profitable companies.
For more information on the My Gold Mine program, contact the Women’s Enterprise Centre or visit our website.
To read the full article on the Jones Soda company visit: http://mynorthwest.com/646/740491/What-caused-Jones-Soda-to-go-flat