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“I wish I had more time” is heard frequently especially around the busy holiday season. We all have the same amount of time so instead of wishing for more consider some methods that will help you use it more effectively.   First and foremost accept how valuable ...

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The Value of Your Time

Friday, December 20, 2013

“I wish I had more time” is heard frequently, especially around the busy holiday season. We all have the same amount of time so instead of wishing for more, consider some methods that will help you use it more effectively.

 

First and foremost, accept how valuable your time is worth. I speak with many entrepreneurs who feel they can’t afford to outsource certain activities, such as bookkeeping, reception duties and cleaning.  Instead, they are burning the midnight oil trying to do it all instead of doing what they are good at and really love.

 

Think about your time through the lens of your gross annual sales projections. For example, if you anticipate making sales of $120,000 this year, you need to earn approximately $2,400 each week; $480 per day; or approximately $60 per hour. Is what you are doing producing $60 of income each hour?

 

It is also useful to think about how much you can earn in your business if you just focused on sales or your specialized service versus outsourcing these tasks because you are busy performing administrative duties. To illustrate, let’s look at your hourly fee of $60. A bookkeeper may charge around $30 per hour, which is half of your hourly rate. The same holds true for a receptionist who may cost you about $20 per hour or one third of your hourly rate. Many of the administrative duties can be purchased for significantly less than your hourly rate so outsourcing can save you money.

 

In addition to saving time and money, there are other advantages to outsourcing. You may not have any bookkeeping experience or training, and would like to avoid anything to do with debits and credits. Hiring a competent bookkeeper will ensure you are getting that important part of your business done correctly.  Of course the key is finding a skilled bookkeeper so be sure to get recommendations from other entrepreneurs, check referrals, and verify credentials.

 

While we can’t always avoid the tasks we don’t really like, think about how much more productive and energetic we are when doing what we love to do. It isn’t uncommon for entrepreneurs to ‘burn out’ because they are trying to do it all. Be sure to pay attention to your workload and the enjoyment factor so that you have energy at the end of the day for your personal life as well. 

 

In business, time is money, so spend it wisely! 

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Posted by Heather Stephens at 3:08 PM 0 Comments Blog - Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

The Big Question

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:

 

  1. How do you effectively manage your on-line time? We all know that you can spend a lot of time on social media sites with few if any results. Kenton suggested making note of when your customers/clients are online (during lunch hours, when they get home from work or once they put their kids to bed) then plan to be there when they are.  

  2. How do I learn all the tricks and techniques to using these social media sites?  There has to be a course out there. According to Kenton, just do it!  It is best just to sign up and start using the site. Learn slowly, observe how others are using it, like a few posts, and get connected. Millions of people have taught themselves how to use these sites, and most are relatively straight forward. There are help functions on the sites, but just through use, observation, and talking with your personal network, should give you adequate resources to Tweet, converse on-line, blog, and make a social media impact.
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Posted by Heather Stephens at 4:01 PM 0 Comments Blog - Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

What is the Connection Between FixYa.com and Employee Recognition?

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.

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Posted by Cindy Ruth at 2:53 PM 0 Comments Blog - Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

Business for Breakfast

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:

 

  1. Networking is about building relationships. It is a two-way street so remember to ask questions and listen to the answers rather than just talking about yourself.
  2. Be memorable. Rather than telling someone your job title, tell them how you “help people”. This opens the door for more conversation and questions.
  3. Ask for the business card. When you meet someone new, don’t forget to get contact information for them.
  4. Follow-up. Send an e-mail or better yet, send a hand-written card in the mail. Want to make it really memorable (see point #2), put a small token in the envelope that relates to the conversation you had. It could be something as small as a golf tee or a tea bag depending on what you talked about.
  5. Support your networking efforts with social media tools. LinkedIn can be really useful for staying connected with other professionals and reaching out to them when the time is right.

 

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.”

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Posted by Alison Kirkland at 9:40 AM 1 Comments Blog - Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba

10 Lessons for Entrepreneurs

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:

  1. There is no standard template for an entrepreneur.
  2. Know your secret sauce/recipe for success/value proposition.
  3. Identify your milestones for success; write them down and celebrate when you reach them.
  4. Entrepreneurs are naturally optimistic.
  5. The mission, vision and values of your business create the culture, and that starts from day one.
  6. Define the tenets of your business.
  7. Have a sounding board; 3rd party validation from a person or people you trust.
  8. Don’t dismiss criticism.
  9. Get your finances in order.
  10. Plan your exit strategy when you start the business.

 

Barb Gamey presents at WECM Power Hour Series

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Posted by Nancy Brommell at 11:16 AM 0 Comments Blog - Women's Enterprise Centre of Manitoba