Tuesday, December 29, 2009

New Year, New Goals

Happy New Year! 2010 - For the past few years, 2010 has been touted as the year by which there should be one million women entrepreneurs in Canada. Hard to believe we are here already.

That’s the good news. The bad news is we still are not as successful we could and should be. Why is that? In part I believe it is because our ideas of success are different to those of our male counterparts. So many of us start a business not with the goal of making lots of money, but more buying ourselves more control over our lives.

We also tend to be risk-adverse and not comfortable taking that monumental leap to the next level if it means putting what we have in jeopardy. As a gender we’re cautious, preferring to do our homework and not step over the edge. And yet, often that is what needs to happen to move ahead.

So what does 2010 have in store for you? Part of answering that question requires that you look back on 2009 and your learnings from that year. What worked and is worth repeating, and what failed and should be left in the past? Loaded questions, but taking the time to answer them should be illuminating if you are honest with yourself.

The new year is a time of reflection, a time to set goals – both business and personal – and a time to start afresh, grow, plan and move forward with confidence that you will succeed at whatever you set your sights on.

It’s 2010 and we are in good company. I wish you a successful, fulfilling year as you grow both professionally and personally.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

True spirit of the season

Tis the season to be jolly …. Or is it? For so many people this is a hard time of the year. Perhaps they have lost a loved one, or the family is split because of a divorce, a fight or just distance and can’t be together. It can be very lonely.

With the current economy, it’s been a tough year for many financially and this is when you really feel it when you can’t afford to buy much for your kids.

So as we all rush around full of Christmas cheer … let’s pause for a moment and remember those who are hurting. Perhaps you can leave some food for the foodbank when you do your next round of shopping, or drop off an unwrapped gift to the Salvation Army.

Be true to the spirit of the season and reach out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Winning Women

I always remember Linda Lundstrom saying that when she got the call to say she’d won the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year Award, she was sure they’d dialed the wrong number. Now a man, she jokingly added, would more likely ask what took them so long, but as women we doubt ourselves, even as we move forward to win prestigious awards.

Now that was several years ago, and clearly our view of ourselves has not changed because Cora Tsouflidou was just as quick to say that she often felt an imposter who would soon be found out.

It was so exciting to be at the Canadian Woman Entrepreneur Awards Gala this week, where two of our members – Cora Tsouflidou of Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch and the gals from Mabel’s Labels won the awards in their category.

How many organizations can boast two out of the five winners as members?? And a third winner who was a speaker at our 2009 conference. Now we’re not taking any credit for their success – they did that themselves, but it does to speak to the caliber of members at Company of Women.

As I listened to the acceptance speeches, there were some common themes: Several of the winners came from humble backgrounds but they recognized that this gave them the determination to succeed. All had a dream and the tenacity to turn that dream into a reality, refusing to take “no” as an answer. Often mothers were mentioned as role models and advocates which speaks to how we all have a responsibility to raise our daughters to believe they can achieve anything they want.

My congratulations once again to Cora, Julie, Julie, Tricia and Cynthia – we’re all so proud of you.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Do you have super staff?

We have a small but mighty team in our office. There’s three of us and while it is often hectic and demanding, especially when we’re doing nine events a month, I like to think we have fun.

So I was interested to read Brian Scudmore’s recent article in PROFIT magazine in which he identifies the seven traits of super staff.

The first was cultural fit – i.e. hiring people who share your core values. I know from previous workplaces, when you don’t share the same end goals, it’s hard to work together.

This leads nicely into the next trait a shared vision. You have to be using the same road map to be sure you all reach the right destination.

Scudmore in his third trait – fire within – believes that you can’t motivate someone to perform, they have to have it inside them. “Motivation, he says, comes from within and for it to be long lasting, there has to be a fire burning inside that drives someone beyond what any amount of money can.”

Setting goals is another trait. Look for people who on a routinely set clear goals and achieve them, he advises.

As the captain of your ship, you set the tone and atmosphere. A sunny outlook is key and Scudmore specifically “looks for people who are optimistic, positive and the see the potential in the company and its people.” We all know what it is like when you have someone negative in your midst – they can dampen enthusiasm quicker than anything.

Tenacity is the sixth trait and in our current economy, we’ve all needed a steady dose of this quality. You need people who will rise to the challenge.And last but not least, your staff need to have the ability to have fun.

In our office we have an ongoing joke about the way we can rapidly change conversation, making it hard sometimes to follow the train of thought. So following the lead from one of our speakers, Carole Bertuzzi Luciani, who poked fun at women’s conversations, we got a bell, which we ding whenever the topic has changed. May sound silly, but it creates a few laughs and helps us not to take ourselves too seriously.

Bottom line, none of us get to be successful on our own. We need a strong team behind us, no matter the size so it behooves us to take the time and hire people who fit the bill, who have these traits and can help you move your business to the next level.

I am lucky – I may have only two staff – but they have all these traits in spades.