Thursday, January 27, 2011

bizwomen: HONEY - I'M HOME

bizwomen: HONEY - I'M HOME: "February is all about relationships - between Valentine's Day and Family Day, we clearly are supposed to focus on our loved ones. Probab..."


February is all about relationships - between Valentine's Day and Family Day, we clearly are supposed to focus on our loved ones.

Probably not a bad idea, as I know January was pretty hectic for us and in the rush to get everything done, it's probably our personal relationships that end up going on the back burner.

I think I need to start the month, saying "honey, I am home!" I always resolve, especially at the beginning of a new year, that I am going to balance my life more and start to say no.

Last November I started taking Fridays off - something I highly recommend if you can swing it. But of course, not used to downtime, I volunteered to be the editor of the monthly community newspaper.

Between editing the Pioneer, getting our March issue of Company ready and finalizing my book, I have been embroiled in commas and the like all month. All of which I normally would enjoy, but not all at once.

Frankly, it has been a lot, particularly when the timelines were almost the same for each publication and I have ended up working every weekend. Not something I would recommend at all as you don't start your week that refreshed and ready for work. It's when you fall asleep at your desk (which I did) that you know it's time to stop.

So yes, February is going to be about relationships and I am checking back in with my friends and family, before they write me off.

Friday, January 21, 2011


As part of our marketing strategy last year we signed up for Meetup, through which you can post your events, attract people to join your group and hopefully attend your events.

Sounded like a plan. However it was a lot of work to post the events each month, (we offer 10-12), do the follow up ranking of the meetings and keep connected with those who joined our group.

We ended up with 39 members, none of whom attended any meetings. So while posting on this site was perhaps creating awareness, it wasn’t generating participants, and definitely not recruiting new members.

So I cancelled the listing, informed the members of our decision and encouraged them to come to an event to check us out.

You can therefore imagine my surprise when I get a copy of an email that Meetup has sent out advising the 39 members that we have discontinued the group, not found an organizer to take over and so they are opening it up to the “membership” for someone to apply to run the Company of Women group instead. People had 15 days to submit their application.

I don’t think so. As I said to the folks at Meet Up, “this is my company, my business and I have chosen not to do business with you..“ End of discussion. From my perspective, they have no right to approach complete strangers to see if they want to run a group that bares the name of my company and would have nothing to do with us.

What do you think?

Saturday, January 15, 2011


I learned a tough life lesson recently. My ego can get in the way of doing the right and generous thing.

I had volunteered to be the editor of the local monthly newsletter in our community. As someone who has been paid to edit professionally, I believed I had something to offer and it would be a fun way to get to know the community.

But there lies the problem. I was seeing the newsletter as an extension and showcase of my professional skill, without giving too much consideration to the volunteers who dedicated their time to producing the articles.

I am known as a tight writer and editor, and nothing changed as I sat at the computer to edit the articles. Well, not everyone appreciated my editing style and I have already had a run-in with one volunteer whose pride was hurt, when I changed what she’d written.

Not a good start. But I am paying attention to the warning signs. I recognize that if I continue on this path of perfection, I will soon be writing the whole publication myself.

So I am letting go of my usual standards and working more to produce a publication that is truly representative of and written by members of the community. And I am eating humble pie as I try to woo back my disgruntled writer.

Oh the joys of volunteering. I have a feeling I am going to learn more than anyone, and hopefully not always the hard way.

Friday, January 07, 2011


Not necessarily.

But many new business owners are blinded by this belief.

Next week at the Toronto breakfast I am talking about how to find the ideal customer. A hot topic for small business owners.

When you start out, any customer will do as long as they pay and they pay on time. It’s all about keeping the financial wolves from the door and getting established. We also tend to offer a range of services or products in the hope that one will catch on and we will have found our niche. It is like a fishing expedition.

However, as time goes on, think about how much better it would be if you actually liked the customer, found the work interesting and yes, they paid on time. I don’t know about you but over the years, I have had some members who were, to put it politely “high maintenance” and when they didn’t renew for some reason, I was thrilled. That tells you something. How wonderful it would be if we could just work with people we feel connected to and akin with.

Initially we are just hungry for business, and so may not do the due diligence in determining who would be the “ideal customer.” Yet if we did, we could then be very focused in our marketing, and strategic in how reach and attract the perfect customers.

Being focused and clear on what you have to offer and who you want to serve is half the battle. It sounds simple, yet it doesn’t always happen and in fairness at the beginning, you just don’t know with certainty which of your offerings is going to be the one to take off.

I often compare this to the time we started a vegetable garden at the farm. We did not know what we were doing, but all enthusiastically we planted a broad selection of vegetables, many of which, I must confess did not survive.

One of the first to blossom and grow was the radishes. Now we don’t like radishes, so I questioned our wisdom in planting them in the first place. Likewise, when you start your business, you sow lots of seeds, not sure which will take off, but make sure you don’t throw in something that you don’t like to do.

Over the years at Company of Women we have narrowed down who we want to attract – from the broad definition of women, all shapes and sizes, to professional women in business (for themselves or someone else) who want to invest in themselves and in others.

Who’s your target audience? Be specific. The more you know about your ideal customers, the easier it is to plan a marketing campaign to reach them.