Friday, October 31, 2008

Tomato Juice Anyone?

I’ve been saying it a lot lately, but I really should read and pay heed to the articles I have been writing – particularly the one on going with the flow and being flexible.

Can you tell I have had a tough day dealing with the unexpected? In July we moved into the country and I think I have done really well coping with snakes in the bathroom, bats in the house. I’ve accepted that mice are just a part of country living and will always co-habit with you.

So what caught me off guard? I can’t even claim that it is only a rural phenomena, but one of our dogs got sprayed by a skunk. I was leaving for work at the time and so I bundled the dogs into the car and headed off to the office. Now it is 50 minutes door to door, not a long drive usually, but with a dog in the back reeking of skunk, I can tell you it seemed a very, very long way.

After advice from different sources, we decided to skip the tomato juice and went straight to the Skunk Off. Now it took three of us to tackle this job – fortunately my son-in-law was around and we looked a pretty picture in the back yard, wearing old clothes and armed with yellow plastic gloves and old towels, all holding the dog down as we sprayed and washed him with the solution.

Completely off his stride, the only way to calm Henry down (the dog, not the son-in-law) was to keep him in my office – door closed of course, so that the ‘eau de skunk’ didn’t totally permeate the place. And there we were all afternoon, my smelly friend and I. Amazingly, after a while I didn’t even notice the odour but maybe that’s because I was beginning to smell too! As I found at my dance class a few hours later. I was definitely not good to know.

And I definitely didn’t get too far in my “to do” list but I guess tomorrow is another day, and hopefully one without stinky dogs! Maybe next time, I’ll just make myself a Bloody Mary with the tomato juice, and all will be well.

Monday, October 27, 2008

When David Meets Goliath

I was interested to read a recent article – Mini-Power Play – in this month’s issue of Canadian Business.

Having heard some of the horror stories from members of negotiating with the big guys, it’s good to know that “negotiating with giants doesn’t have to be one-sided.”

While the author, Andy Holloway, acknowledges that the small company will understandably feel intimidated when dealing with the larger company, he offers some sound advice to protect the industry titans from stealing your ideas and secrets during pre-contract talks.

Never reveal more than you’re comfortable losing, he recommends, illustrating this point with a story of a Canadian farmer selling flavoured sunflower seeds who politely refused to reveal the secret ingredients. This strategy let him hike up his prices because the retailer couldn’t source his product elsewhere.

The key is provide enough information to spark the “giant’s” interest, without giving them anything that could be used to undermine you. Instead, he recommends you build a business case and provide enough evidence to convince the company that your product is worth the investment.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Dragon's Den

A small group of us gathered on Monday night to watch the Dragon’s Den. We had a vested interest in watching, because not only was Company of Women member, Marissa McTasney, one of the star pitchers this week, but several of us were part of her presentation. You’re allowed to bring props to the show, and Marissa chose to have 30women showcasing her hard hats, workboots, toolbelts and T-shirts.

It was fun to be part of that day, although I was glad no one asked me what type of handy work I do! The dragons interviewed her for over an hour. That’s a long time to be in the hot seat, but Marissa could answer all their questions, stood her ground and believed in herself. As I watched the extract shown on Monday, I was proud of her, and all the Company of Women members who gave up their day to be on the show with her. Now that’s women helping women.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Changing the Routine

This fall I decided to change my fitness regime. I was getting bored with the same old, same old and thought it was time to diversify. And if I am being truly honest, apart from the training for the 60K walk, fitness kind of took a back burner this summer. But I was getting too comfortable not working out, and I knew I had to do something So today, when I had my first training session, I realized I not only need to do this, but it felt good to stretch myself physically again.

Now you may be thinking – that’s all very nice but what has that got to do with me. Lots. Especially if you compare fitness to marketing.

It is all too easy to get stuck on the treadmill, producing the same tried and true marketing material to entice new customers. Complacency can lead to loss of business, so even when your business is doing well, you need to continue marketing. And just as I’ve chosen to change the mix on how I get my exercise, so too do you need to develop different marketing approaches to reach your target audience. Who knows, just as I was getting bored with the same routine, your customers or potential customers, are maybe getting bored with the same message from you.

So think about who you want to reach. Can you do that differently? What message do you want to deliver? When we embrace change, we open ourselves up to new territories.

You might be surprised at what you can accomplish, just by taking a fresh look at how you have been communicating. And just as I recognized the value of staying fit and active, in your business you need to stay nimble and quick on your feet, because then you can win the race.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Sometimes men are right, well occasionally

I don’t know about you but I really stew about tough decisions, especially when I know I may hurt the other person’s feelings. I put it off, and I talk myself into thinking it will work out – anything to avoid a confrontation. But I am learning.

And one of the things I am learning is that sometimes, just sometimes mind you, my husband is right. He has his own business too and so is familiar with the trials and tribulations of being an entrepreneur. However, I have been trying to run Company of Women on my own, without his advice, (read interference.)

However, he could see this situation was bothering me and gave me his advice, and for once, I listened and took it. Working in an all-female environment, I can get so caught up in the feelings, rather than the practical, business perspective. He helped me step outside of that and take a hard look at what I needed to do.

Now I wouldn’t want this to go to his head, but then there’s little risk of that – as I am sure he doesn’t read my blog!