Tag Archive | Small business

#CelebratingWomenWhoDARE | The 2018 AWP Network Power List is Here!

Farida Nabourema

#CelebratingWomenWhoDARE! A huge thank you to African Women Power [AWP Network], for celebrating and recognizing forty (40) phenomenal African women with powerful, inspiring, and influential voices. Kudos to all the phenomenal women who were honoured.

And a special salute to honour the resilience, beauty, enterprise, strength and courage of millions of African women across the continent and globe. We celebrate the unsung, and those in under-served and rural communities, who do so much, with so little, to make our society more just, equitable, safe and prosperous for all. And they do it all, with grace and grit, in the face of near impossible odds and barriers. #CelebratingWomenWhoDARE!

Congratulations to one of ours, -Whole WoMan Network’s co-founder, Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, for making the list.

To see the rest of the women honoured, click the link below:

The 2018 AWP Network Power List

[Culled from African Women Power; on January 3, 2018]

 

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To all ‘WomEntrepreneurs’: Stay the course and never give up!

You wake up one day and you’re two years shy of 40. You’ve reached a point when it’s no longer about the pay check or the title on the door. Something is missing. Then it hits you. It’s the desire for significance, to make a difference, to give back, to connect, to grow, to be fulfilled, to have time-freedom, flexibility, to ‘work-to-live’ and not merely ‘live-to-work.’ You want to thrive and not just survive in this new ‘Empathy-driven’ economy! You come to the realization that you would have to give up something(s) in order to get the time you require to pursue the life of your dreams.

And so, you give up that six-figure `safe` world. You take up a part-time, minimum wage job, and as you go through the repetitive motions of ‘work’, you hone your ideas and spend  lunch hours scribbling on now tattered papers. Of course, the people in your life look at you and even though they don`t say it aloud, you know what they`re thinking: `She is  absolutely crazy!’ You know because some days, you think so too. Still, you learn to practice selective hearing and  ignore the pitying glances.

Yet, the ideas won`t leave you. You glow when talking about your vision. Time flies when you work on your business plan. You know in your gut that this plan is also your life plan. And life doesn’t stop; commitments to Mr. Rogers, Madame Bell and Ms. Enbridge still need to be kept! So you make sacrifices, cut off cable, stop eating out, become a coupon collector and a bargain shopper. You build a strong bond with the local library and develop inhuman radar for store-wide neon ‘sales’ and get on every thrift store’s mailing list.

Yes, the ideas keep you up at night and so you pray harder and cry to HIM for guidance. And finally one day, you finally take the plunge! You start small, you whisper to a friend, and tell a family member and you ask them to tell others. You find a network of fellow ‘crazy’ people to motivate and guide you. Even with all that passion, fire, focus and hard-work, the butterflies won`t leave you, the nerves hit you again and again. But you just keep going…a little step forward each day because you no longer have a choice. You must either act or die a very slow death!

You worry about monetizing what you love. Will the clients ever come? Does it make any sense at all? You wonder if those voices are right after all  Perhaps, you’re really throwing your life away. You begin to question if you missed the easy turn to ‘Reality-Land’ and took the enticing but difficult turn to ‘La-la Land.’ You look around for resources to help small businesses and stumble upon an amazing group of life-business coaches: Crystal AndrusAli BrownMarie ForleoLisa Sasevich and Mike Klingler and their unique approach to ‘Collaborative and Value-based Marketing.’

And then suddenly, after years of slugging away, you wake up to find strangers calling you. Yes, you. Emailing, texting, begging to buy your products and services. They`re now your biggest and most passionate advocates and happily spread the word for you. You know you’ve hit the sweet spot when they pay you to speak, to share, to collaborate. You are glowing again. This time, it’s with the unique light of success.

And like a miracle, you, who begged and bugged friends and family to refer clients, utter these magical words: `I am not currently taking clients at the moment, but is it okay if I put you on my waiting list? ` And as soon as the words leave your lips and you hear their excited voices say: `yes`, you begin to sweat, to tremble, to shake. You double over with joy, with humility, with gratitude, with love and fall on your knees.  As the tears roll down, you whisper again and again: `Lord, I am grateful, Jesus I love you, Baba, I thank you, I thank you, I thank you!`

In that moment,  you realize that you must share this. You must tell other budding women Entrepreneurs like yourself, those brave souls around the world busy with  juggling life, chasing dreams, pursuing passions, going against convention, staying up at night, alone, with nothing but their dreams and ideas for company. You must encourage them to keep going, to never let up, to never give up because one day, they too shall say: `I am not currently taking clients at the moment, but is it okay if I put you on my waiting list? `

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The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Wealth Management Consultant & Lifestyle Coach at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is an avid Life Connoisseur and a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Investment & Financial Literacy for women. Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc

Ten ‘work-life’ principles I learnt as an employee.

Long before I caught the exciting bug of Entrepreneurship, I was an employee. One of the very first jobs I held was a Management Trainee position at Honeywell Group. As a fresh engineering graduate straight out of University, I was excited about the challenges ahead and the interesting projects I would be involved in.  And of course, the fantastic experiences and skills that I would gain in the process.

Fast forward to almost thirteen years later (2012), and I realize that the most important things I remember from my first job are not projects or bonuses or awards, rather, the coaching I received from my professional mentor at the time-the wonderful catalyst of trans-formative change: Mr Alex Taiwo, Human Capital Advisor.                                                                                                            
These are the ten principles he espoused:

1. Be clear on what your values and principles are. Form habits in consonance with your core. Clarity makes for better choices in seemingly challenging situations and gives you a sense of direction;

2. An authentic  and curious spirit that encompasses self-leadership, respect for others, collaboration, accountability, responsibility and drive towards a common goal as key to productivity, creativity and long-term profitability;

3. Never join a clique or group. BE a team player. You owe it to yourself to be a loyal and goal driven employee and not a high school student. Create benign structures that support productivity and cohesion within teams and leave the drama at the entrance gate;

4. Avoid discussions on race, politics, sexual orientation, wages, bonuses and commissions with colleagues. If you need any clarification on these matters, ask the appropriate HR personnel;

5. Sincerity and Humility are never old fashioned; they will serve you well both at work and in life. Do not play the compare and contrast game; No individual is better than the team, notwithstanding his/her vast skill-set or experience. Everyone has an important role to play, respect all;

6. Understand the culture and values of the companies you work for. Know also that culture evolves but the underlying values may remain the same;

7. Do not gossip about others. If you must gossip, always play the ‘reverse gossip game’: saying as many wonderful things as you can behind someone’s back! Learn to shake things off, never take things personal;

8. Priorities and synergies change, new power blocks are constantly emerging. Be good and fair to everyone, from Founder or CEO to Gate-man or Janitor. Put your best foot forward, always;

9. Develop your problem-solving skills. Be the ‘go to’ person for solutions and become a value provider. Talk well but  learn to listen better. Be the one who gets the job done and not the one who gets all the praise. Do not make yourself a conflict generator or ‘crap magnet’;

10. Be a mentor to others because in coaching others, we learn new perspectives and allow ourselves to be guided too (reverse-mentoring)!

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The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Wealth Management Consultant & Lifestyle Coach at Whole Woman Network. This is a post from the YRSBiz Blogging Circle. The York Region Small Business Club helps small businesses in York Region connect online and in York Region. Their goal is to provide free or low-cost opportunities for local businesses to connect and engage with each other and ultimately to help small businesses succeed.
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I Hereby Pronounce You Business Owner and Entrepreneur!

How long did it take you to fully commit to being an entrepreneur?  Did you take one giant leap, or did it take ten tiny ones before you were able to dedicate all of your efforts to your business?

I went through many steps to get to where I am today.  I started my business before I got pregnant.  I wanted something to do on the side.  I worked on it through maternity leave and afterwards, worked in my career and my business at the same time.  I obviously couldn’t manage both, so I left my great paying regular full time job for a part time job so that ‘just in case’ something went wrong I would have something to fall back on.

It wasn’t until I fully committed to entrepreneurship that doors really started to open and opportunities presented themselves.  There was always a reason to not do something because I wasn’t 100% committed to the business.  Now that I am, things are flourishing. 

I came across a quote recently that really made a lot of sense to me.  I’m not usually one for long quotes, but this one rings true for entrepreneurship.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now. ”  ~ Goethe ~

I had to read it two or three times to really let it sink in. If you’re going to expend only half your energy in starting your business, then you’re not fully committed and you’re only going to get half the results.

It’s scary to fully commit.  It took me a while to make the full leap.  I wish I could have fully committed sooner as I know I would have seen the results sooner and I’d be a year ahead of where I am now.   But everything happens for a reason and I needed the security and I needed to build my confidence that I was making the right decision for myself and my family.

We are our worst critic.  We fill our heads with self-doubt and believe things that are really not true.  That little voice in our head that makes us hesitate and draw back so that we can’t let ourselves succeed can be deafening.

This quote isn’t just applicable to starting a business, but to any new idea or opportunity that presents itself.

What project are you waiting to start because you aren’t sure of the outcome?  There are no guarantees in life, or business.  Only calculated risks.  Do your homework to make sure risks are minimal and then take the leap.  Otherwise, you’ll only ever be where you are.

 BLOGGER BIO:

The preceding is a guest post from Sandra Eamor, Business Optimization Consultant at Seamor Consulting. This is a post from the YRSBiz Blogging Circle.  The York Region Small Business Club helps small businesses in York Region connect online and in York Region.  Their goal is to provide free or low-cost opportunities for local businesses to connect and engage with each other and ultimately to help small businesses succeed. 

Keys to Building Your Small Business: Client Engagement and Follow-Up!

I recently attended an event that taught me some key business lessons such as delivering exceptional service, generating client engagement and creating a lasting impression. And most importantly, getting those unsolicited ongoing referrals from satisfied clients!

It was a special baby shower for a friend (her first baby at 44 years)! The event planner, who was her 23 year old niece, did a fantastic job of organizing everything perfectly: the venue, décor, food, music, exciting games etc. Some highlights of how she achieved this are:

  1. Prior to the event, she communicated with the guests (all good friends of the mom-to-be), a couple of times after the initial invite. She articulated her desire to provide an unforgettable and truly special experience for her client and solicited our help. Thus, she was able to get suggestions/ideas from us on what her client values and also got our total buy-in on the project. She did this effectively by creating a private Facebook group where she kept us all engaged, connected and shared updates;
  2. During the event, she introduced herself to each of the guest individually and shared her appreciation for our input. She made sure that each guest got a personalised gift bag with a thank you note;
  3. Post-Event, she followed through with an update when the baby was delivered and sent pictures on behalf of her clients to each of the guests who had attended the baby shower.
  4. She under promised and over delivered-the event itself was a great success but most importantly, she was wonderful in communicating her passion and enthusiasm for her craft;
  5. She definitely lived the mantra ‘Excellence is a habit, for how you do one thing is how you’ll do all things’. This is because although she was doing event planning as a hobby, she still took it seriously and gave each client her very best;
  6. The greatest business lesson I learned from her was that she saw the event as a networking opportunity and followed up with an engaging and well written letter. (I have her permission to share an excerpt below):

“It was a pleasure meeting you a week ago at the baby shower of my Aunt.  I have a small favour to ask. I’m looking to continually grow my services, and to build awareness and good-will, so I’m looking to do more events. So are you aware of any body that would be interested in my services and who would benefit from and be aligned with my  vision of  holistic event planning that I shared with you?

I can tailor the event to what they truly value, and still make it very interesting and unique.

If you know or come across someone who would be interested, do let me know. It would help me out a lot. If you don’t know of any group of people, that’s perfectly fine, and it was still a great pleasure meeting you this evening”……

Needless to say, like most of the guest I was enthused by the quality and level of service she provided: her professionalism, creativity, deep respect and understanding of the client and guests. And of course, her fire and positive energy!

We have all become strong advocates for her services and go out of our way to refer clients to her. Unfortunately, she is now back in school for her Master’s degree and has put the business on hold for now. However, I can tell you that she has a devoted group of satisfied clients, ready with wallets at hand, just waiting for her to say the words: ‘Open for business!’

Client Engagement and follow-up can be helped with the use of Social media. Examples of how companies use it today as a PR tool to create awareness, engage customers and drive sales abound all around us. In today’s world, every customer is truly King or Queen and they know it! A misstep to a client may cost you millions especially if that one client has tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr etc.

You must treat every single customer along your entire value chain (both internal and external), as if you were about to lose him/her i.e. that without them your business ceases to exist.

The end result is a devoted client base that is loyal in their patronage and become strong advocates of your brand/products/services.

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The preceding is a post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Wealth Management Consultant & Lifestyle Coach at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is an avid Life Connoisseur and a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Investment & Financial Literacy for women. This is a post for the YRSBiz Blogging Circle.  The York Region Small Business Club helps small businesses in York Region connect online and in York Region.  Their goal is to provide free or low-cost opportunities for local businesses to connect and engage with each other and ultimately to help small businesses succeed. 

Are you a reluctant Entrepreneur?

“Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.” ~Howard Stevenson~ 

Reluctant

This is a note for ‘reluctant’ Entrepreneurs!

To become a successful Entrepreneur, it is important to first establish what it means to be one. Most people erroneously believe that Entrepreneurship is limited to simply creating great and marketable inventions or running profitable businesses ventures.

You can be an employee with a regular 9-5 job and still be an ‘entrepreneur’. You can be in professional services and be an entrepreneur. Entrepreneurship is LESS about a one-off or meteoric success but more about your attitude and mindset.

It is about how you monetize your skills and talents, your ability to see what isn’t visible to other people, a knack for creating comparative advantages and an ability to lead the curve.

Most significantly, entrepreneurship is reflected in your approach to problem-solving and risk-taking. (Note that entrepreneurs do not necessarily take bigger risks than others, rather, they have a deeper understanding of the ‘risk-reward’ relationship and manage it effectively with better creative and monetary payoffs and/or outcomes).

Entrepreneurship is a consistent and persistent process that is more about the journey and the commitment to creating better solutions without the constraints of resources.

As Howard Stevenson puts it: ” Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

‘Reluctant’ Entrepreneurship’ is a growing trend, especially in this period of economic recession. It is also a more common feature among ‘womEntrepreneurs’, this is because women are affected by so many other factors which make their career growth path in the labour force non linear. Some examples of such factors are: Maternity leave, unexpected job loss and downsizing, taking time off to care for elderly parents (sandwich generation), growing desire towards socially responsible businesses etc.

So ladies, if you are not quite certain whether you are a reluctant entrepreneur, here are some pointers to give you better clarity:

1. You always seem to have great business ideas and concepts but lack the resources, discipline and focus to follow through on them and if you do follow through you make unrealistic financial projections.

2. You are thoroughly dissatisfied with your current job but you are caught in a familiar dilemma: to settle for a steady stream of income/security or dive into uncertain waters, pursuing a creative and fulfilling path with zero guarantee of success, monetary or otherwise!

3. You are skilled at providing valuable solutions and solving problems for friends, family and colleagues but you are still very uncomfortable with the concept of monetizing your skills.

4. You are certifiably unemployable; constantly attending events and networking, always seeking and open to new opportunities, diligently researching the viability of different products and services. However, you haven’t quite found real sustainable success with the ‘one’.

5. The only reason that you’re even considering entrepreneurship is due to a downturn in the economy and the fact that your chances of re-entering the labour market is almost non existent. You hope to be in business temporarily until you find work again.

6. You grew up in an environment where success was defined as being a professional-Doctor, lawyer, engineer, architect, accountant etc and so you succumbed to family and societal pressure, went through decades of schooling, earned multiple degree(s), got the 9-5 gig but always felt unfulfilled because you failed to act on those seemingly ‘unpractical ideas’ you’ve nurtured and refined over the years…..

If you identified with at least 2 of these points listed above, you’re most likely a reluctant entrepreneur!

So now that we’ve established that, lets share some tips and strategies on how to take some simple, practical yet effective steps and help you get off the fence,  ‘own’ your entrepreneurial calling, ignite those dormant ‘passion’ business genes to dissolve your sense of reluctance and finally get you to be on the path of sustainable success.

Here are some simple steps to address the 6 points above:

1. Pick one of your business ideas, do your market research, test it, develop it, focus on it and run with it!

2. Work hard at your day job and work harder on your passion and/or idea. Continue doing both until the income from the latter surpasses the former or at least until your business becomes sustainable. Understand and use the different dimensions of time. Learn to leverage your resources (time, money, energy and networks).

3. Engage the services of a ‘life and business coach’ and turn your skills and passion into a money maker! (Tip: your local chamber or small business resource centre  most likely offers this service for free). Whenever possible, learn to also pay for critical services or solutions that will take you to the next level. Begin to view money as a medium used to exchange values.

4. Network meaningfully with purpose and keep engaging/building up your prospect list while you decide on the product or service offering for your business. Position yourself as a resource person; offer value and proffer solutions to challenges for free and then learn how to monetize your skills by understanding your true worth.

5. Focus less on ‘why’ you are an entrepreneur and more on the ‘how’ to be a successful one. A focus on ‘HOW’ will lead to solutions, resources and collaboration/joint ventures. Take disciplined, consistent and focused ACTIONS. Have an accountability system and measure your results.

6. Surround yourself with successful entrepreneurs. If you can, find a mentor. Remember that they may cut across many different fields-business, arts, e-commerce, social media, education, medicine, education, not-for-profit, sports, religion etc You reflect the attitude and actions of those around you. Model excellent behaviour in others. Understand the different business models in your industry and choose the right one to build your business upon. Think of what you want your legacy to be and let that be your yardstick to stay focused and committed.

Entrepreneurship requires sustained passion and commitment, especially during tough periods of growth in your business. You cannot have the success you desire if you are ‘reluctant’ about your pursuit. You cannot be lukewarm in your approach by sitting on the fence, you need to get off the toxic fence and choose one side of the entrepreneurial divide; to be or not to be! You have to BE a success to be a success. In the words of the Nike slogan: Just do it! And do it with everything you have, for as long as it takes. No half-measures allowed! Remember that whatever you focus on, EXPANDS! So focus! focus! focus! Welcome to success.

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Remember, you are not ordinary, you are divinely unique.

You are WOW (Wonderful One-of-a-kind Woman)!

w(H)olistically Yours,

© Whole Woman Network

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The preceding is a guest post from Juliet Ume, MBA –Wealth Management Consultant & Life-Coach at Whole Woman Network. Juliet is an avid Life Connoisseur and a passionate advocate of WomEntrepreneurship, Leadership, Investment & Financial Literacy for women. Her mission is simply to engage women, regardless of their levels of income,  to return to ‘wholeness’ and live Healthier, Sexier, Wealthier Lives using Faith-Based, Scientific and Common-Sense principles! Follow her on Twitter: @wholewomaninc, @julietumeinc