Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Choosing Your Logo Style

When pulling your logo together ensuring it’s high quality and using good colours is important. You also need to think about what kind of image you want to portray your company. Do you want to go abstract or do you want to be more realistic? Professional or comical? All of these things can affect your design. Let’s use the following companies as an example:

There’s quite the difference between these two! You have the professional and the more comic style. Both portray a completely different feel – and you have to make sure the style you choose portrays not only your company and its culture, but also looks appropriate for the industry.

The best way to help you make the right choice of what sort of a look to go for is to think of what your target clients would like. Do you work with corporate high-end companies or do you work with creative artists? A logo appealing to those two groups would be entirely different! A corporate customer would likely not appreciate, or take seriously, a company that had a very abstract and artsy logo. Keep your clients, or ideal clients, in mind when you make your logo – you can even ask them for their input, they would appreciate that you value their opinion if you ask!

Remember if you decide to go with a photograph in your logo to ensure that you start with the highest quality, largest file you can. Keep this saved, backed up, etc, in a safe place because every time that you re-save an image you loose quality, so make sure you always have one copy that no-one’s touching that you can go back to if you need to. That being said, using photos in logos is a bit dated, it’s more common to use computer generated graphics and the benefit is that they’re generally much easier to work with.

There are so many more important things to keep in mind with logos, always make sure you get other people’s opinions – be that your clients, staff, or a professional designer!
Anna Kouwenberg is the Owner and Creative Director at ARK Squared Productions where she offers web and graphic design services. You can connect with Anna about your logo and design needs via email at anna@arksquared.com, Twitter:@arksquared, or her website at www.arksquared.com.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Choosing Logo Colours

Photo by Thedalog
There are so many things that can make a company look professional, but one of the most common and often overlooked at times is a company logo. It can portray so much about a company, either through images or colours used. What colours can say about you and your company through something as simple as a logo is quite amazing!

The colours you use in your logo can end up being one of the biggest decisions a company can make. These colours are likely going to be the colours you end up using throughout your company – from letterhead to uniforms, business cards to the paint colour scheme in your office. So not only do your colours have to represent you well with their meaning – but you had better like them!

There are many different resources to help you learn more about different colour meanings, a few that I’ve come across are:
Those are just two of many great resources. If you look you will see that you really need to be careful what colours you choose – especially if you have a specific target client. For example, you have probably noticed that many companies that have primarily Chinese clients tend to use a lot of red because in their culture red is an important colour. At the same time you have to be careful that you also do not offend by using a “bad luck” colour.

Another example, if you’re working with money, using green will get people thinking about money. It can also reflect that a company is using “green” practices and have that positive swing to it as well. What about if you’re going for a high-end clientele? Purple, the colour often associated with royalty can be a good choice. Or if you’re thinking high-end corporate a colour like “IBM” blue mixed with greys can work really well too.

A couple examples of negative colours would be red and yellow – while sometimes they can be good representing luck with red or energy with yellow, the colours can also mean different negative things too. Red is also a sign of caution and yellow can make people be on edge or it can also represent being scared or afraid. If you’re wanting to come across with confidence and professionalism you will want to be careful how you use those colours!

Overall just make sure that you don’t just pick a colour because you like it, but research it and make sure that it doesn’t have bad connotations attached to it, particularly if you target a specific clientele. You need to make sure that the people and companies that you are targeting as clients would like the look and feel of your marketing material!

Anna Kouwenberg is the Owner and Creative Director at ARK Squared Productions where she offers web and graphic design services. You can connect with Anna about your logo and design needs via email at anna@arksquared.com, Twitter:@arksquared, or her website at www.arksquared.com.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Importance Of A High Quality Logo

When people think about starting up a company they tend to focus on getting their product or service ready and selling it to their clients. One thing that can get left behind is ensuring they have a consistent image to put forward in those efforts. How much more professional does, say a courier company appear when they show up in uniform, with a nicely logoed car? A professional image definitely makes a statement, and it can be one of confidence, intentions to be around for the long-haul, and the list goes on.

The key piece to any visual consistency in a company is the logo. Everything can come from the logo – colours used throughout marketing elements, a general feel for anything from business cards to websites. If you don’t have a logo, or don’t have a good one, you can find yourself having a tough time being consistent throughout various marketing mediums because you do not have a strong base.

There are a few key things to consider and remember when putting a logo together and one of the most important is ensuring you have a high quality logo. Some companies use photos in their logo, but most companies are tending to move away from that because a computer generated image is the easiest to keep looking the best. The reason is that photographs are made up of pixels, the higher quality/larger size the image is the more pixels (and thus smoother image) you get. So if you have a poor quality image and you try and use it for a billboard it will look rough and grainy. A computer based image can be done with vector instead of pixels and then holds its smoothness regardless of size. Let’s look at an example with a basic circle:

Original image:

Now let’s zoom in on the image, left is what it would look like if we zoomed in and it was a traditional picture file, right is what it would look like if it was a vector file:


Now think of some of the ways that you might use your logo. Sure business cards, brochures, etc, those you do not have to worry about too much. But let’s say you wanted to put a great wrap on your car, make a nice tradeshow booth, or maybe you wanted to do a billboard ad. When you enlarge your logo, is it going to be an ugly circle like the left or like the nice high-quality circle on the right? We all know which one we’d want anyway! So remember that when you get your logo designed – ALWAYS have a vector image available. You can save the file as the traditional “pixel” image for various uses, but being able to go back to the vector image for different projects is very important.

Anna Kouwenberg is the Owner and Creative Director at ARK Squared Productions where she offers web and graphic design services. You can connect with Anna about your logo and design needs via email at anna@arksquared.com, Twitter: @arksquared, or her website at www.arksquared.com.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Should Career Development Professionals Recommend Self-Employment?

"Our role isn't to prepare people for destinations; it is to
prepare people for journeys." Paula Wischoff Yerama
Leaping from full time permanent employment to self-employment wasn’t something I had put much thought into and it certainly wasn’t something I had prepared for. It was, for all intents and purposes, a reactionary decision. I made the decision to quit my job in isolation and set up my business, without a formal business plan, in a relatively short period of time. Somewhere along the line I took an online entrepreneurial readiness quiz. The results essentially told me I wasn’t cut out for self-employment. I went ahead and incorporated Career Designs for Life anyway. Did I do thinks the "right way"? Probably not. Was my decision the best decision given my situation? Not necessarily. If I had to do it all over again, would I? Absolutely – with a few adjustments! While admittedly I could have gone about becoming self-employed more effectively, the lessons I learned along the way were invaluable.

Whether to recommend or not recommend self-employment as an option to clients is a source of great debate amongst career development practitioners. As professionals we have a responsibility to our clients to support them in making decisions that are in line with their values, interests, and abilities; informed decisions. We also have a responsibility to be open with them about our scope of practice and expertise, and to connect them with the information they need. Self-employment isn’t for everyone but that isn’t for us, as professionals, to decide. Our role isn’t to prepare people for destinations; it is to prepare people for journeys. Self-employment is most definitely a journey, a journey that has both rewards and challenges.

In my role as a self-employed career development professional and the Chair of the Career Development Association of Alberta I have had the opportunity to talk about self-employment with people who are both envious and skeptical of my employment situation. Some of them were seriously considering self-employment before they talked to me, and some had never considered it as a viable option. I don’t have a firm stance on recommending or not recommending self-employment as an option to the people who ask me about my own experience and would never advise someone one way or the other. My story has been inspiring to some and discouraging to others. I don’t tell my story to dissuade or persuade anyone but rather to give them one more perspective to help them make an informed decision. That’s the key to making any decision isn’t it, to have as much information from as many different perspectives as possible?

I am certainly not a business expert, but my own experience with self-employment has taught me that self-employment readiness quizzes aren’t they ultimate perdictor of self-employment success. The best way to support our clients is to connect them with and guide them to as much information and as many resources as possible. When it comes to information and resources there are all sorts of self-employment courses and programs, checklists, inventories, quizzes, articles, workbooks, and blogs. Our role as professionals is make our clients aware of the resources, services, and tools that are available, help them to seek out the most appropriate sources of information, and encourage them to talk with people who have struggled, and succeeded.

We can best help our clients to explore self-employment by treating it like any other employment option and encouraging them to research self-employment like they would any other occupation. It is also essential that we be knowledgeable about the programs, services, and resources available to them and to support them in making those connections.

Wishing you all the best with your self-employment conversations!

Paula Wischoff Yerama is the President of Career Designs for Life Inc. and a Certified Career Development and Rehabilitation Professional with a passion for supporting and inspiring work searchers, career transitioners, and employees to be their finest and best every day. Her eclectic background includes experience in customer service, human service, career development, human resources, and team building. Paula frequently responds to requests for information interviews and shares the story of her self-employment journey with her clients and can be reached through her website, http://www.careerdesignsforlife.com.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Leverage Yourself As An Expert By Using Social Media [Infographic]

Have you been wondering how to get your name out there? What are the best platforms for leveraging yourself as an expert?  Social media has been the driving force of many successful careers.  Take a look at this infographic by Zintro about how to leverage yourself as a social media expert.  Click on the image below.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Preparing For A Networking Event

© cliff1066™
Networking is an essential component for businesses success. Not only will you meet potential clients when attending a live networking event, you will also meet your competitors. Keeping tabs on the competition is one way to ensure your business is involved in the right kinds of activities and you can learn from successes and failures as well. Networking events are also a great way to meet supporting businesses (i.e., your allies), ones that may refer you customers/clients or provide you with supplies, and vice versa. Establishing synergies and strong relationships with others in your field builds your reputation and your success. Don’t only network with those who will benefit your company now, be sure to connect with those who will benefit your company in the future too.

Getting connected with your local Chamber of Commerce or Board of Trade is a great idea as they may host local networking events. Besides attending, you could consider renting space to exhibit your company at a networking event. Another way to find networking events is through http://www.MeetUp.com.

To make the most of a networking event be sure to:
  • Identify what you hope to achieve by attending or exhibiting 
  • Research who will be exhibiting and possibly attending, and identify who your top “have to meet” people are 
  • Practice how you are going to introduce yourself to others. That oh so dreadful “elevator pitch” must be flawless 
  • Wear a name tag or logo’d shirt that identifies what you are in the business of doing and dress to impress 
  • Bring plenty of business cards, write on the backs of them notes to jog the memory of the person your giving it to (e.g., the guy you discussed ducks with) 
  • Collect business cards and be sure to write on them who you need to follow up with 
  • Follow up with the important people you’ve met either through a phone call, coffee, drop by their location, or social media (e.g., like their Facebook page, send them a LinkedIn invitation, or follow them on Twitter) 
What other ways do you find contribute to success of attending networking events?

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through www.LifeStrategies.ca.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Cold, Hard, Truth About Self Employment - And Some Crucial Advice

So you're considering becoming an entrepreneur?
Do you really know what you're letting yourself in for? 
Take some time to consider these cold, hard truths before you take the leap!

There are 3 main reasons why someone becomes an entrepreneur:
1 - They fall into it.  They're an 'accidental entrepreneur' through redundancy, lack of opportunity, remote location, etc.
2 - They are making a 'lifestyle choice.'  They want to work more flexible hours and call the shots - work on the beach, spend time with their kids, etc.
3 - They have the heart of a pioneer and can't feel truly content unless they are forging their own path. They have a strong need for autonomy and are never happier when the buck stops with them. These guys are often tough to manage in a corporate setting but they make great entrepreneurs!
But whatever has lead you to this point of decision there are a couple of truths about being an entrepreneur that you should be aware of before you step over the fence towards what looks like greener grass:

1. It's lonely

You're the boss. You make the decisions. It's all on you. Your spouse or partner will never really understand what you're going through (unless they are an entrepreneur themselves), and even with the great forums and networking groups out there, at the end of the day running your own business can feel like a pretty solitary journey.

2. You'll always be on a raw and painful learning curve

There are very few experiences in life that can make you feel as incompetent, scared, and under pressure as running your own business (parenthood matches it, but little else!) You are constantly having to course correct - making decisions every day that may turn out be wrong later down the line. And if you are ambitious this feeling of flying half blind is constantly present as you continue to push the boundaries.

3. You'll have to do things you don't like

One of the things that makes me laugh is when people say they want to start their own business "because they are sick of office politics". Well they're in for a shock! Believe me there's just as much politics in the self employed world as there is in any corporation. For example, if you're like me and decide to sell your services as an online expert, you'll soon find that there are industry giants out there with more experience, better websites, bigger lists, and far more clout than you can dream of. And, they all know each other. They endorse each others products and work as affiliates, generating more leads and more money for each other. It's a reciprocal relationship and if you ever want to make it big you're going to have to step into that arena at some point. Even if you're plans don't include this level of exposure or income, you will come across politics in almost every area of business from manufacturing of goods to offering services. There's competition. There's sales. There's politics.

My Advice:

HAVE A PLAN!! Please, please don't start a business with the "I'll just start it and see how it goes" mentality! Organic growth is messy, expensive and highly risky. Decide what you are playing for and plan for it right from the beginning. If you want to work a 4 hour week then you can't have a service business that requires you to be constantly engaged with customers. If you want to be earning $300,000 in 10 years then set up your business model NOW to allow you to deliver this kind of income further down the line.

I wish you all the luck in the world with whatever path you choose. And if you decide to take the leap into the crazy world of entrepreneurship then I'll see you on the other side!

Vicki Childs is a qualified coach and the founder of FISSION Coaching, where coaches go to release their ultimate potential. Vicki's mission is to help coaches build the tools and business processes needed to create an automatic flow of clients and income, allowing them to focus on their true power and talent - creating fundamental shifts in the lives of their clients. For more information visit http://fissioncoaching.com and be one of the first to receive my latest ebook '3 Fundamental Shifts In Thinking You MUST Make Before You Can Release The Ultimate Potential Of Your Coaching Business'

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

How To Create Loyal Customers

Direct marketing is a unique way for people to be in business for themselves but not by themselves. I spent a few years in direct sales and worked my way up to a leadership position with a growing team. I got started with the help of an AMAZING person – the FABULOUS Bev Burr. She is a ball of sunshine that encouraged me to work my business in a way that made me want to be successful because I knew she believed I could be. How did she do it? How does Bev continue to be successful in direct sales? I recently caught up with her to find out her secrets.

Q 1. What are the key concepts that drive product sales for you?

There are 3 Key Concepts I use to drive product sales:

1. Listen to the needs of the customer. If you don’t know what they like or want you can’t make a sale. Always ask open-ended questions, such as: what occasion would you see yourself wearing this?

2. Develop relationships. People are more important than the sales. If people know you like them, then they will feel comfortable to buy what you are selling.

3. Sell the benefits of the product. Let people know what the product can do for them and why they need it in their lives.

Q 2. What are the top objections you deal with in product sales?

The top objection is always cost. That objection is easily overcome when I show them the value of the products and the Host program. Every direct marketing company offers a host program where customers can get any product they want for FREE by having a few people over and having some fun. Actually, being a hostess was what got me started in direct marketing.

Q 3. How do you overcome objections and move forward?

Objections are just opportunities for a conversation. People are usually fearful of the unknown. If I can assure them of a positive outcome, they usually relax and become the customers I need and want. Putting the customer first, their wants and needs – and taking my wants and needs out of the picture, actually gets me what I want in the long run.

I never worry about the sales. I worry about making people feel comfortable, happy and valued. If I follow that plan, then what I want and need falls into place.

Q 4. What attitude or outlook on your life and business has lead to your success?

I believe you need to come from a place of abundance. Give without expecting anything in return. Give for the joy of the gift.

I also have a positive attitude – turning lemons into lemonade. No one wants to do business with anyone who is negative, grumpy, or has a an attitude of “its all about me”.

Q 5. What keeps your customers coming back? Why are they loyal to you?

I believe my customers keep coming back to me because I take the time to get to know them. I ask questions about their family and let them know they are important to me by sending cards for important occasions. My customers are valued because they are not just about the sales to me – THEY are people and their lives come first. I have discovered that sales is all about developing the relationship first, and then you can sell anything when that trust is confirmed.

Bev Burr has been involved with the Direct Marketing Industry for the past 20 years – full time for the past 10. With her positive attitude and friendly demeanour, Bev has been able to develop a successful home business – not only with top sales achievements, but by also empowering and mentoring women to create their own successful business. Bev’s website can be enjoyed at www.liasophia.ca/bevburr.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

How To Break Through The Glass Ceiling

The glass ceiling is a phenomenon small business owners feel when they their business seems to hit a plateau, and they aren’t quite sure why they feel stuck where they are. Not moving forward. Not moving back. Just stuck. Recently I had the privilege of chatting with Cherie Hydzik, a long time Sales Director with Mary Kay Cosmetics. Here’s what she had to share with us about breaking through the glass ceiling and getting unstuck.

Q 1: Have you ever got to the point where you felt stuck or trapped under an invisible ceiling?

In my previous work I was an administrative assistant in cardiology at a busy hospital. It was a great position but didn’t fulfill me inside. I had been operating a home business as a hobby that started gaining momentum. I made the decision to leave my “real job” and manage my home business full time. I love meeting people, being a part of their lives, being there for them when they need someone. It also gives me the flexibility to help my in-laws who are aging and need more assistance.

I have been in business for 10 years but really working it for just over three. It has been a cycle of ups and downs. I wish I were one of those who jumped into it, and then bam their business is booming day after day! That’s not how it happened for me. Typically I would push really hard to get my business going and then the push would wear me out. I’d relax and tend to end up in la-la land, my business somewhere in the shadows. Have you ever been there? Then I finally recognized where I was at and how much momentum I’d lost. I’ve learned it’s much harder to prime the pump to get the water running again, than it is to just keep pumping steadily.

Q 2. What did you do to break through and push your business forward?

I had to go back to the basics of why I was running my business and start all over again. Yes, I had a customer base, but it wasn’t enough to keep the business going. I realized there are two options when you’ve lost momentum and aren’t going anywhere: prime the pump (in other words, start again from the beginning) or quit. I am not a quitter, so I invested my time and energy into getting my momentum back.

It can be depressing to realize that you’ve let your business go a bit. I found I could kick myself and condemn myself for losing some of my passion, but then it will only take longer for me to get back up and go again. I had to wrestle with the questions: What now? Is it really worth it? Do I really have what it takes to do this business? I learned that’s when I should be asking: Will the benefits of this business be worth the effort for my family and me? Where will I be 5 years from now if I DON’T go ahead with this business? Has it proven to be a good venture for others who have pursued this business?

Knowing why I was in business in the first place pushed me forward, out of my rut. I started over with a renewed passion, taking baby steps, and steadily doing the tasks that lead me to success in the past. It’s not easy. It’s very humbling. It is what it takes though: consistent work, daily steps, going forward little by little until the momentum is back.

Q 3. What is the key ingredient to your success?

When I have tried to move my business ahead on my own strength, it doesn’t seem to go. I have found that I need to take time every morning to ground myself spiritually. The days when I start the day doing this, fantastic things happen: I meet people that need what I have to share with them. The calls that I make reach the people who are interested in getting together with me. I pour my heart and time out to those around me, and it pays off. When I have a downer of a day, I realize that I skipped that very important part of my day; the time of reflection and realizing whom I feel is really in control of my life, my business, and my success.

Q 4. What do you now do to make sure you don’t get stuck in a rut or trapped under that invisible ceiling?

I start each day by creating my “6 most important things list”. I write down everything that needs to be done in the day and then I number them 1 to 6 in priority order. Then I make sure to get started on the most important things first. The things that don’t get done get pushed until the next day. This helps me to stay on track and not get side tracked with unimportant tasks. I consistently do those things each day that are needed to move my business ahead. I know if I stop – so does my business. It’s far more exciting to move forward each day than to fall into a sad, depressed state thinking, “I haven’t done this and that…” and to get stuck again where nothing is happening. It doesn’t take much – just consistency of the right things daily! 

Cherie Hydzik is a Sales Director for Mark Kay Canada. She is a wife and a mother of 3 young adults – AND soon to be grandma! You can connect with Cherie on Facebook or on her website at http://www.marykay.ca/chydzik.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Making IT Happen Isn't Always Easy – But It's Worth It!

Taking your vision and bringing it into reality isn’t always easy. Even harder is making the right connections to make it possible. After all, the most successful people didn’t make their success on their own. They brought in the right people, at the right time, to support their ideas.

It takes a lot of courage to make things happen, especially when the odds are stacked against you. Many businesses and initiatives fail within the first five years. Most don’t even make it off the shelf.

In 2008 I went to Nairobi, Kenya for a month. I met a beautiful and lively woman who I saw so much potential in. I spent most of my time there working with and learning from her. I taught her whatever I could, and she in turn taught me about the realities of life for young women in Kenya. She was articulate, bright, thoughtful, and determined to make a difference in the world. I am sure that at that point in time she didn’t know she would go on to do work that would support and enhance the lives of so many.

I left Kenya and returned back home to my work in Canada. Several months later I was sitting in my bed with my laptop one Sunday morning and I received an email from this young woman. She wrote about some recent experiences that quickly brought tears to my eyes. Not only had she lost her job because she did not have the skills necessary to be successful, but several weeks later she was kidnapped and raped by a group of men and left on the roadside.

This beautiful, intelligent, and strong woman had everything taken from her but her belief that she had a purpose. Broken and at a complete loss, she wrote to me asking for support. She did not want money. She did not want me to save her. She wanted me to support her in stopping this from happening to others. She asked me for more tools, more connections, and more resources. She was willing to put in all the work and time needed to create her own initiative.

And so I did.

And so she did.

Over the next couple years I continued to assist where I was needed. In 2010 I went back to Nairobi to do more work with young women, and I met with this young woman once again. Within two years she created her own vision. She brought in supporters, volunteers, and resources. Together they supported over 500 girls and young women in Kenya to have a voice, to share their feelings, and support one another. She took time each month to provide sanitary napkins, to support them to stay in school, she offered workshops based on Passion materials, and brought in other resources where needed.


There were and are many challenges that this young woman has faced and will face on her journey into self employment and fulfilling what she believes is her mission in this world. With the support of her community and her own internal resources she will work through them all.

A few things we can learn from this young woman’s story:

· Take time to get clear on what your mission is; envision it, dream it, feel it… THEN get practical about it.
· Align yourself with the “right” people not just anyone who comes along. Gget clear on your intention and theirs.
· Stay focused on the value you are creating for others and yourself
· When you put 100% into what you do and it doesn’t work out – don’t give up. If you believe in what you do, there is always a way to make it happen. But, it might look differently than you thought at first.

Loretta Cella is an International Facilitator, Advocate, and Life Enhancement Coach who has spent the last 11 years dedicated to the empowerment of individuals, families, and communities. Having worked with diverse individuals and groups in Canada, New Delhi, Kenya and Uganda, Loretta has developed a deep appreciation and passion for diversity and connecting the human spirit to purposeful action. Loretta holds her Child and Youth Care Counselling certificate, CCDP, and is currently working toward her Masters at Royal Roads University. You can connect with her at www.lorettacella.com and www.passionfoundation.org.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

An Interview With Erin Kelly

What skills and attitudes are required to be successful in online sales? Do successful business owners always believe in themselves, or do they ever consider quitting? I had the opportunity to ask Erin Kelly, founder of Karmin Hair Tools, a few questions about how she climbed the ladder to business success and what keeps her there. Here’s what she shared with me:

Q 1. What key factors made you decide to start your own business?

Erin: Several years ago my brother and I started selling items on eBay. We received a shipment of hair straighteners through a trade and decided to sell them on eBay too. They quickly became our top selling item. This was when the flat iron was becoming a popular, must have tool for home users and not just for salon professionals. We saw a great potential here and decided to start our own brand of hairstyling tools called Karmin. With this, we needed a website to market it on and it all grew from there. I currently own and run three websites, marketing to Canada, the US, and the UK.

Q 2. Why are you great at what you?

Erin: I enjoy what I do and that in a way makes me better at it. Not every aspect of running a business is enjoyable (adding new products to a website is a daunting task!) However, the enjoyable tasks outweigh the daunting ones. I would have to say that I excel most in the social and creative aspects of my business.

Q 3. How much of your talent is learned or innate?

Erin: It is definitely both. As far as the marketing aspect goes, it has taken a lot of learning, as there are constantly new ways to get my business out there and to reach my potential customers. As for the customer service, social, and communication aspects of my business, I would say it comes naturally; I have always been outgoing and enjoy talking with and helping others.

Q 4. Were you ever afraid of starting your business, was there a point you almost changed your mind/quit/or gave up?

Erin: Afraid no, quit never, but yes, there were definitely times at the beginning where I would think to myself, “Is all of this work worth it?” It turns out it sure was and continues to be. If you want to run a successful business of any type it’s going to take a lot of work, a lot of hours, and a lot of commitment, but in the end – it is worth it. There is nothing better than the sense of accomplishment, well besides getting to be my own boss and work from home!

Q 5. What has been the secret to your success?

Erin: A positive attitude is key! Believing in yourself and your goals is important and what will make you a successful business owner. I also found that surrounding myself with like-minded people, and reaching out to successful business owners was a great way to stay on track and continue to believe that I too, could do this.

Q 6. What have you learned about yourself through all of this?

Erin: I have more patience and determination than I thought in the beginning. Thinking about the last 6 years I realize how hard I have worked to get where I am and how much further there is to still go!

Erin Kelly is the owner of Rylees.ca and co-founder of Karmin Hair Tools. The Karmin brand is currently sold online and has become one of the most popular brands of hair tools around the world. You can find Erin and keep up with her business ventures on Google+ under Erin Kelly.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An Interview With Kent Ridley

Photo credit ThomasofNorway
Have you ever wondered if you should take your unique talent on the road and actually go into business for yourself? Just the thought of what could go wrong scares some people to stay in their cubicles. Others embrace the thought and embark on a journey to becoming an entrepreneur. Kent Ridley is one who did just that. I caught up with him recently and asked him to share with us how he got started as an entrepreneur, and continues to be successful today.

Q 1. What is your top talent?

Kent: I believe that my top skill is being able to evaluate student athletes in an efficient manner. We are the only scouting service in Canada that reaches from coast to coast and that drastically increases the number of individuals that are in need of review prior to releasing a list to college coaches.

Q 2. How much of your talent is learned or innate?

Kent: There is a good portion of it that is natural over learned. I was raised in a family that appreciated athletics, so from an early age I was watching football, hockey, and baseball for more than just entertainment. When I was older and got involved in coaching myself, the learned portion came into play. Now I’ve read more books on how to coach, train, and teach than on sports themselves. There are some great sports mentors out there that you can learn from even if you never meet them in person, and there are some great sports people that are willing to take a moment of their time to chat, even though they really don’t have to in their position.

Q3. What key factors made you decide to turn this talent into a business?

Kent: I was coaching basketball in Airdrie, Alberta in a volunteer role and was contacted by my old college in regards to checking out a couple of potential players for them. After doing that for a couple of years, the college cancelled their athletic program. By that time I was enjoying scouting so much that I felt I could help more players with a few tweaks to the business plan. From there it became a potential business that would fit into my hectic life.

This fall will be 9 years since I took the first phone call from my college about a pair of basketball players that would never suit up for them, while I’m far from rich, so much groundwork has been done that our business is exploding.

Q4. Were you ever afraid of starting your business, or was there a point you almost changed your mind/quit/or gave up?

The “give up” thought shows up every few months of course. When you see money going out and not nearly enough coming back in, it can be really defeating. When you realize that you’re working more hours than you ever did back when you had a 9 to 5 job it can be really frustrating. When you notice that other businesses that aren’t as well run as yours are making more money than you – those are the moments when you just want to scream!

But then you think about all those suckers out there that are getting in their cars at 7am, to drive to a job and report to a boss that can’t figure out how to work their Blackberry, but is put in charge because of a piece of paper in a $2 Wal-Mart frame on the wall – and you remember it’s all worthwhile. The key to owning your own business is that you’re working at something that you WANT to be working at. Do not be afraid of being happy!

Q5. What attitude or outlook on your life and business has lead to your success, or what is the key ingredient to your success?

“Go big or go home is a motto in our house.” I’m thinking of painting it on our garage wall like a primitive cave drawing!  My wife is a country singer and living in Nashville, Tennessee where your lunch is cooked by an amazing guitar player and brought to your table by a fantastic singer. You can’t be timid about your area of expertise. Trust yourself that you do know your field and that your information or product is worth putting out there. Even if you start a business as a side project or as a hobby you have to believe in it and believe that it has a worth. You have value to the rest of the planet, you just need to find what it is that gives you that value, and who out there needs to experience it. Win the day!

Kent Ridley runs a Canadian organization called Ridley Scouting at http://www.RidleyScouting.com. His company is devoted to helping high school student athletes on their road to post secondary athletics. Ridley Scouting was the first scouting service in Canada to reach from BC to the Maritimes. You can connect with Kent through his website or his Facebook page http://www.Facebook.com/RidleyScouting.

Monday, June 4, 2012

What's Your Startup Style?

Entrepreneurs come in all shapes and sizes, from all corners of the planet. BizSugar.com put together this humourous look at what entreprenuers look like. Take a look and see if you can find yourself among the group!

Visit BizSugar for more information on startups.

Monday, May 14, 2012

I Must Be Crazy! What Am I Thinking?!?

So you’re considering entrepreneurship and thinking to yourself: “What am I thinking? I must be crazy!”

Starting a business seems so risky after all.

And maybe you’re like I was – almost mad at yourself that there isn’t some other way that you could be happy, doing something equally as gratifying without all of the uncertainty. Arg!

If only. If only starting your own business was even about that.

The only time to become an entrepreneur is when it’s a choiceless choice – not just an option.

(An aside: The other reason to be an entrepreneur is if you have lots of money to just go around trying stuff and if that’s the case why are you reading this?! Seriously. Go try stuff.)

And what exactly is a “choiceless choice”?

(I’m so totally glad you’re wondering and so glad we’re connecting.)

It’s a whole body decision.
It’s the world of feeling, sensation, intuition (gut) and bodily knowledge that wants and needs and craves giving birth to a business. And no matter if you are male or female – it is a birth if your heart is both in it and in you for the journey.

Manifested in a commitment to your business, is a commitment to yourself to take the first step to start. And then each one that follows. Without trying to make the steps different than they are.

What steps? Like what?

(Again, so glad we’re on the same page.)

:: You will need to find a way to be comfortable with your self-worth and value what you offer with a dollar amount;

:: You will need to learn how to say what you do in a way that solves a problem for someone in a way that makes sense to that person (and you may need to hire a copywriter to help dig these words out of you);

:: You will need to create an enticing online platform or storefront (whatever that is for you) and you’ll need the resources to do that (whether it comes from the job you have now, your parents, your fundraising abilities, or somewhere else);

:: You will be challenged to “drop” or “re-frame” the “story” that marketing is “gross” in some way. Marketing will come to mean making your authentic self and your emotional labour business assets worth sharing;

:: You will need to choose your support network because it’s a journey that’s more fun with friends who understand and can relate to you in the present;

:: You may need to re-define love to mean more than just the words. Love is action and when people say they love you, but resist acknowledging and supporting your dreams and growth, you will find yourself creating loving boundaries to protect your investment.

Sabrina Ali is the author of the Bliss Kit. Her virtual home is MakeBelieveForReal.com for all things career with a modern authentic twist, on twitter and facebook (where you can find more inspiration for your real work).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

First Year Survival Guide

I always thought I would make a great entrepreneur because of my vast experience, skills, and education. I look GREAT on paper! Combined with the self-employment course I took – I envisioned an easy flow to my days. During the first year I learned quickly that looking good on paper doesn’t cover it all, nor did the course I took. Here are the top 6 “realities” I picked up along my journey. I wish someone had shared these with me to help reduce my anxiety and improve my efficiency:

1) The Golden Rule 

Everything will cost at least twice as much and take five times longer to do than what you think. Ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but do prepare your mind and your bank account for things not to go as planned. Technology will break down, traffic will make you late for meetings, and the one littletinymicroscopic admin thing will take you an entire day. A small business is a vacuum. Time and money seemingly disappear. Make a budget for both – then double it!

2) Get Your Systems In Place NOW 

Spend the money and take the time to do it now, then quality test it. Nothing is worse than being up until 3am because you’re trying to figure out how to get a promised invoice to someone before 9am and your software isn’t working properly. The first year you will be working ON your business more than you are working IN it.

3) Build A Mental And Emotional Support Network 

One other than close friends and family; they tend to be too emotionally invested and their support can be biased. Connect to mentors, other entrepreneurs and people you meet at networking events and social media groups, as all of this helps. I have heard from many entrepreneurs that they are SO surprised when people withdraw their support temporarily or permanently because you can’t make it to the game, or a dinner party, or the park…etc. You need additional outside support, and you will need it daily.

4) Networking And Social Media 

I LOVE social media. However here is the key – it is only the mortar that keeps you cemented to your contacts between speaking – not the bricks. The only way to truly make a contact of value is to do that face-to-face in person, on the phone, or Skype. Build a tribe of people you authentically connect to and know – building a list of people who neither care nor really know about your business is futile. Networking is all about creating a connection to people who like you and want to see you succeed.

5) Research, Research, Research, ACTION! 

 Getting three opinions or perspectives on a business activity is enough for you to marry that information with your intuition and take action. Results from action are the only things that will validate if what you are doing is on track. Make informed decisions, but also recognize that being an entrepreneur is all about taking calculated risks. There are no failures, only feedback and new information to shift your next actions.

6) Celebrate Your Accomplishments

Brag about them; let your support network know. This keeps your energy up and your mind programed to the positive and productive things. Successes may be thin the first year, so stretch them out.

Everyone will have their own unique experience; however the one thing that binds us together is that every day is a new experience. And even when we are in a challenge, there are rewards. The reward of experience, knowledge, renewed courage, and most of all – the reward of being able to share all of it! 

Connie Augustus is a Vancouver based Career Coach, Life Strategist and avid Neuroscience Practitioner. She loves connecting to business owners and continues her own entreprenuerial journey. She invites you to join her at http://www.connieaugustus.com.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tweeting About Self-Employment

Friday is a great day for chatting for career development practitioners, especially in Canada. Every Friday at 11am PST, career management professionals and recruiters come together on Twitter to chat through the hashtag #HireCAN about relevant topics. On Friday, April 13th I hosted the topic “Talking To Clients About Self-Employment.” I posed a series of questions and different people weighed in with their perspectives. Here are the questions and a summary of responses.

Research conducted by Life Strategies suggests the amount of career development practitioners (CDPs) engaging clients in self-employment discussions correlates with the CDP’s self-employment self-efficacy; how confident they feel to discuss it. Considering this,

Do you feel confident to support clients considering self-employment, why or why not?

  • CDPs who have been self-employed feel more confident to discuss the topic with clients 
  • Those with little or no experience tend to avoid the topic or refer to other professionals that specialize in self-employment 
  • The other option is for CDPs is to take an introductory course like Look Before You Leap which covers the top survival strategies of the successfully self-employed 
  • Does the idea of self-employment need to originate from the client or can it be suggested? 
  • Treat the topic of self-employment similar to other topics that come up with clients 
  • Encourage them to do some research, complete assessments, network with other professionals, and write down ideas 

How do you assess clients for self-employment readiness?

If a self-employment program isn't an option, and the client can't afford a coach, then where can the wannabe self-employed clients turn for help?

  • Self-employment doesn’t need to be a full leap; it could be in combination with other incomes while the business grows to a self-sustaining income level. 
  • A big obstacle for some is a family member’s beliefs and fears of the risks of self-employment. May be helpful for family to go to an information session on self-employment too 
  • Skills swapping is a great way to access supports for free and build collaborative relationships 

What key resources do you refer clients interested in self-employment to?

  • Suggest a client to get a business coach, someone with business start up insight 
  • Small Business BC is a useful site smallbusinessbc.ca, as well as Community Futures bit.ly/Ihy1PM 
  • The Look Before You Leap course and the corresponding workbook guide people through the process of preparing for self-employment. They are useful for CDPs wanting to learn more about how to support clients, and for clients themselves. There is also a PowerPoint and Facilitator Guide for those who want to use the Leap curriculum to host self-employment workshops. 
  • The local Chamber of Commerce will be helpful, also Small Business Canada http://www.canadabusiness.ca/eng 
  • The Leap website and blog have lots of resources 
  • The book “Business Model You” is a good read 
  • Understanding how to use social media effectively is key to self-employment success
  • Go to Twitter!  @lookb4leaping is there and sharing resources throughout the week

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Top Mistakes Of The Self-Employed

© Georgie Johnson
I was 23 when I started my first officially registered business as a wedding and event planner. I operated it for a year and I made zero; that’s nothing, not one paying gig. The problem was I opened the business before I knew how to operate a business. I didn’t take the time to look before I leapt into self-employment. Wedding and event planning was one of a number of different business ideas I tried before I found my current success in self-employment.

Next I became self-employed as an independent consultant of a leading direct sales giftware company. It was the type of business based on home parties and corporate support; I was sort of like a franchisee. Everything I needed to operate my business was handed to me in a neat little kit with bi-weekly training meetings with other independent consultants. I was a recruiting machine and grew a large team, but consistently was the lowest earner of the bunch. What was my problem?

I have my suspicions of where I went wrong. Take a look at this interesting article on the top 50 mistakes entrepreneurs make. http://business.financialpost.com/2012/02/13/fifty-ways-to-screw-up-your-business. Which one are you most guilty of?

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through www.LifeStrategies.ca.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who's The "Boss" Of The Self-Employed?

© cliff1066™
I’ve heard the phrase, “be your own boss” so many times that it appears to be synonymous with the term “self-employed.” But, is that really an accurate description? The formal definition of “boss” is, “an employer or supervisor” or “one who makes decisions or exercises authority” (Nelson Canadian Dictionary, 1998). Although self-employed people have authority over their business activities and make decisions on what work they accept, they still have to answer to a number of others. Let’s take a look at who else has some authority or influence on the work of the self-employed, the ones that keep the self-employed accountable for their business activities.

Clients: One of the largest influences of the self-employed is their clients. Without clients the self-employed are just working, which, in itself, does not generate any income. Business activity is only worth something if there is someone willing to pay for it and unless clients are happy with the product or service, they won’t buy it. Therefore, in a sense, the self-employed answer to their clients. I think of each client as one of my bosses; this keeps me accountable.

Family: The successfully self-employed know how much they need to make in a month to cover expenses and make a profit. The standard of living their family is used to will have some authority over how much money they need to bring in each month. Also, the demands of family responsibilities will impact the time the self-employed have available to dedicate to their business.

Colleagues: Observing the activities of colleagues and competitors can help the self- employed gauge if they are doing all they should be doing to run a successful business. Networking through events and social media is an effective way to keep up to date on their activities and glean feedback on business ideas and practices.

Accountant and/or Bookkeeper: Without reputable financial guidance, the self-employed could find themselves in a nightmare when tax time comes. The self-employed must submit to the authority of the revenue experts to find financial success.

Professional Associations: Joining professional organizations are an effective way to build a positive reputation in the marketplace. With membership comes the adherence to ethical codes of practice and the authority of the professional association.

Mentor/Coach: A coach or mentor is only effective if the advice is considered and acted upon. Without compliance to their subject matter authority, meeting with them is an expensive and timely fa├žade.

Investors: Some start-ups require financial backing of investors. Whether its subsidies, family, friends, or venture capitalist–they probably invested because of a convincing business plan. Therefore, the plan and the investors will influence the business decisions of the self-employed.

Board of Directors/Business Advisor: Similar to investors these people are committed to seeing the business of the self-employed succeed. Adhering to their guidance is paramount to self-employment success.

There may be other influences that have authority over the self-employed. Can you think of any others that keep the self-employed accountable?

Miranda Vande Kuyt is a self-employed project and communications consultant. She is also the facilitator of the "Look Before You Leap: Self-Employment Survival Strategies" online course through www.LifeStrategies.ca.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Leap To Self-Employment

© Eric Fernhout    
Understanding self-employment is more important than ever. Over 2.5 million Canadians are self-employed, making up over 15% of the Canadian workforce1 and the number keeps growing. As large as those numbers are, very few career practitioners understand what it takes to be successfully self-employed. Most career practitioners work within government-funded programs2, and for many, self-employment is not on their radar, for themselves or their clients.

However, we live in transformational times where job security is shaky at best. Self-employment is a very real option that should be considered by everyone facing a career transition. That is not to say that self-employment is the right option for everyone; characteristics such as knowledge and skills are important, as is the right attitude (e.g., passion, drive, vision) and proper preparation. Read More...

This is an expert from a recent Life Strategies article that was published in the www.ContactPoint.ca Bulletin.