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Help! I Can Barely Work My Computer!

Written by Karen Bivand

help with technology for mompreneursYou can’t do anything these days without being bombarded with hashtags, status updates, apps and SEO.  If you are not technologically savvy, you may increasingly feel like everyone else is speaking a different language.  When you are trying to run a business, your inability to use these tools can put you at a significant disadvantage.

 

Here are some strategies that will help you catch up:

Make a list of the tech savvy tasks that you need to learn.

These might include figuring out your email, setting up a Twitter account, creating a simple website, or using the calendar on your phone to schedule meetings.  Once you know what you need to learn, it will be easier for you to get the answers that you need.

Find resources in your community.

Look for resources that will help you learn about Twitter, Facebook, email, and mobile devices.  Many libraries offer free workshops on these topics. Continue reading Help! I Can Barely Work My Computer!

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London Business Expo

An Evening of Education, Networking, and Building Relationships – Open to all entrepreneurs in London & Southwestern Ontario!

Join us for the 1st Annual London Business Expo, hosted by Mompreneurs and sponsored by :

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Kate Childerhose

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Susan Brady


Attendees will enjoy:

Free! Admission, Swag Bags, Networking, New Business Connections, Door Prizes, Appetizers. Cash Bar…and More!

Tell us that you are attending by simply registering below and receive select perks & a ballot into a special door prize draw.

Attendees: REGISTER HERE!

Find out more information on this incredible upcoming event by visiting themompreneur.com/biz-expo-ldn/
Continue reading London Business Expo

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How to Hold a Promotional Contest

Everyone loves contests, but before you invest the time and money into holding one, you want to make sure that it will get you tangible results.  Not all contests are created equal; some are effective marketing campaigns, while others just amount to a waste of time.

Here are some tips that will help you ensure that your contest makes a solid contribution to your business.

Know your goals.

What are you trying to accomplish with this contest?  Brand recognition?  Increased followers on your social media sites?  More referrals from existing customers?  Who is your target audience?  When you are clear about what you want to accomplish, you are able to design the contest with your specific goals in mind.  It also makes it a lot easier to evaluate the success of this strategy. Continue reading How to Hold a Promotional Contest

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And The Winners Are…

It was truly a national affair as four women representing different regions from across Canada were announced winners in four categories at the 4th Annual National Mompreneurs® Conference and Awards this past weekend in Toronto. And what better time than on the cusp of International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements of Canadian women and moms who have developed businesses that innovate, improve and enhance the lives of people locally and around the world.

Over 300 women attended the conference that spanned two days in Toronto, packed with inspirational speakers (Debbie Travis, Natalie MacNeil, Erica Ehm, Julie Cole, Fay Chapple, Ruthie Burd), educational experts (from GoDaddy, TELUS, Sage North America, UPS Canada, Global Payments, and TruShield Insurance; as well as key speaker Colin Sprake), and fun activation areas for all attendees to make the most of their weekend!

The event was capped with the announcement of Canada’s four Mompreneur® Award winners, all equally deserving, and each honoured by the Mompreneurs® organization for their efforts in business success.


Announcing Canada’s 2016 Mompreneur® of the Year:

Colleen Dyck, Mompreneur of the Year 2016 for GORP Clean Energy BarsColleen Dyck, founder of GORP Clean Energy Bars from Niverville, Manitoba was named Canada’s Mompreneur® of the Year for 2016, and was awarded the esteemed Mompreneur® Award of Excellence along with a $30,000 prize package. Colleen has kept up the tradition of our winner innovation and creating a niche business in an area that is generating a need. Colleen started GORP as a need in her own life, for a convenient source of whole food, which started on her family farm and grew with increasing demand from locals who loved the taste, and the wholesome ingredients fresh from the farm.

After rigorous review from a panel of 8 esteemed judges of all Excellence finalists and their in-depth 7-page essays, Colleen came out on top. Each of the finalists had to answer and provide details of their businesses, providing judges the platform to assign points based on core business criteria, including product innovation, growth potential, revenue, community impact, and inspiration to others. While all finalists showed commendable attributes in each of the criteria categories, Colleen and her company GORP Clean Energy Bars stood out among the crowd for growth and scalability, and inspiration to others. These traits ultimately led to the Manitoba native’s win and title of “Mompreneur of the Year” Continue reading And The Winners Are…

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Words Can’t Describe…

Written by Maria Locker

It has taken me 2 full days to come up for air and really soak in all the amazing things that took place this past weekend at The 2016 National Mompreneurs® Conference and Awards. To say that I am in awe and wonderment of our amazing community would be a drastic understatement.

I wish I could adequately describe how proud and honoured I am to live this incredible life that I lead… how proud I am to be the wife of the most supportive, encouraging, and dedicated husband ever; to be the mom of the kindest and most patient two children you could hope for; to be the daughter of inspirational yet humble parents who teach me and guide me daily; to be the leader of a team that makes everyday knowing them and working with them feel like a privilege and a badge of honour; and to be at the helm of a community of women that not only raise each other up, but actually push each other into the spotlight when no one else will… it’s all a bit surreal, and most definitely not something I could have imagined had you told me 5 years ago it was in the cards for my future.

Every year, the National Mompreneurs® Conference brings together 250 of some of my best friends, esteemed colleagues, and valued members. It has truly become a family reunion, for the Mompreneurs® “business family” around the country. It always leaves me with nostalgia for days passed, and propels my drive to want to connect with more women in Canada so they too can join our crazy family.

This year marked a special hallmark in our business family history, as we celebrated 5 years since the incorporation of Mompreneur Showcase Group Inc., those first busy months where I thought that it could be fun and helpful to take my small idea and share it with others around communities in the rest of Canada. The people who have joined this journey along the way, whether as a licensee, a partner, a supporter, a member, a sponsor, or a cheerleader, will forever hold a special place in my heart, as they each brought something to the table and made this venture bigger and better just through their involvement, big or small.

If you haven’t caught up yet with our updates on the winners of this year’s Mompreneur® Awards, be sure to read up on our latest blog and get to know not only the amazing 4 winners, but also the stories behind their success, and the drive that pushed them to the winners’ circle. It was a tough year of competitors, the toughest yet in my opinion, and I’m proud to call each of the finalists and winners a member of our organization and a true testament to the power that a dedicated and passionate woman entrepreneur can possess.

Here’s to a year of continued success, connections, and empowerment for each of us – as Debbie Travis said at this year’s conference, you are all my ‘Wonderbras’… thanks for uplifting and supporting me, my team, and each other… Every. Single. Day.

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~ Maria xo


 

Maria Locker CEO Mompreneurs

Maria Locker is the Founder & CEO of Mompreneur Showcase Group Inc. She started the company in 2010, and incorporated on Valentine’s Day, 2011. The Mompreneurs® organization includes non-profit Mompreneurs® Momentum Enterprise of Canada; a roster of community chapters led by an amazing team of licensees; the annual Mompreneurs® Conference; the annual Mompreneur® Awards; and the quarterly publication of Mompreneur® Magazine. Maria lives in Milton, Ontario with her husband and two children.

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Get Your Website On Track: 16 Tips

By Jill Schoolenberg, GoDaddy Canada

We may be in the dregs of winter, but spring will be upon us before we know it. Now is the best time to give your website the boost it needs with a design and content makeover. Even if web design isn’t your area of expertise, you can still create an amazing website. Solid design will always outdo flashy or gimmicky pages. By following a few easy tips and building a solid foundation you can’t go wrong.

web design tips from godaddy canadaBefore you even begin working, look at what you already have. Ask yourself if your current setup communicates your brand effectively. Maybe your site only needs a fresh coat of paint, or maybe you would like a major renovation. Winter might be a terrible time for renovating your house, but it’s the perfect time to get down to business with your website.

Remember, you don’t have to tackle it all at once and if a full website makeover isn’t in the cards you might pick one small piece to focus on, such as improving your direct marketing or driving more traffic with SEO.

Let’s look at some of the best ways to improve your website in 2016.

  1. Trends are your friend: Just like any industry, web design goes through phases. Before you embark on any changes be sure to browse around other sites in your field and read-up on what’s hot to get some inspiration — then make it your own!
  2. Set realistic goals: If your goal is to get a simple website up and running, you will be pleasantly surprised at how quickly you can go live. If you’re starting a more detailed project or looking to improve specific aspects of your business online (maybe you want to start a business blog), remember to set reachable goals so you’re not immediately overwhelmed.
  3. Domains (and TDLs) are fun! The perfect domain name might not be the most obvious. New top-level domains (TDLs) are being created all the time, and now is a great time to get a domain name that will truly set your business apart from others. Consider a unique domain name that really gets to the heart of your services with TDLs such as .expert, .guru, .studio (even .ninja!). It’s a memorable and fun way to add style to your site.
  4. Don’t forget security: When you purchase a domain name, add extra security with ID protection to help keep your contact information hidden. If you’re running an online shop, SSL certificates are essential for helping to keep your customer data secure.
  1. Make sure your business and contact information is up to date: This one is easy to overlook when registering a new domain name, or updating contact information for existing ones. Don’t forget to use a current email address so you can receive reminders about renewals. And make sure renewal notifications are coming to you, and not another employee, in case that person leaves your organization.
  1. Find a good web host: Do your research and find a host that can scale as your business, and website, grows. Check that they offer all the tools like email, analytics and content marketing that you may want in the future. Maybe most importantly, check if they have 24/7 customer support.
  1. Focus on navigation: Once you’re ready to get down to actually designing your site, one key is to focus on easy navigation. Even if you’re building a one-page website, plan for growth. Homepage layout is important as it is the first thing your visitors see. Whatever your design — keep navigation clear.
  1. Pick a consistent colour palette and stick to it: Whether you’re going with your existing business colours or picking something completely new, moderation is the key. Luckily, there are a number of online tools to help all the burgeoning designers out there.
  1. Get creative with images: Chances are your smartphone has a powerful camera. Use it to take some bright, exciting photos for your website. Original photography is often the best way to go, but if you’re not into taking pictures, you can get creative with some fantastic online resources.
  1. Write a brilliant call-to-action: Photos are great but you’ll need to keep your customers engaged with your website copy. Use an active voice when writing and explain to your customers what’s in it for them. For example, if you plan to offer a newsletter with exclusive offers, say so instead of asking them to fill out another boring form.
  1. Build for mobile first: Even if you don’t have a smartphone or tablet, building your website with mobile in mind is essential. Google even uses it as a way of ranking its search results. Building for mobile sounds scary but many tools, including the GoDaddy Website Builder, make it easy.
  1. Do analytics: Web stats used to be scary, with a lot of vague terms like “hits.” Today it has never been easier to get into analytics and see what kind of traffic your website is generating. Pick a few key stats to focus on at first like time-on-site and look for ways to improve.
  1. Love social media – on your terms: Social can be stressful but it can be an important driver of new business. Take it slow and identify areas where you can improve. You don’t have to be on every social network, it’s far more important to find a niche and grow your audience, if you can, drop the networks where you’ve been slacking.
  1. Go global: If you’re building a new website, it’s the perfect time to think about adding localization (language) options. Even if you have the slightest idea you’ll be expanding your business into new countries or would like to attract more international customers, it’s always easiest to start localization from the ground-up. Retrofitting an existing website gets much more complex.
  1. Save yourself time: If you’ve got some downtime now, put aside a few hours each week to work on new content you can post during your busy seasons. You’ll thank yourself later!
  1. Stick to the plan: If you’re not a full-time web designer, it can be easy to get off-track. If you need inspiration be sure to check out some examples of well-designed websites and browse some of the excellent online resources like the GoDaddy Garage for plenty more tips for both beginners and pros alike.

Jill Schoolenberg, Vice President Canada for GoDaddy

Jill Schoolenberg is the Vice President in Canada for GoDaddy. Based in Toronto, Jill is leading GoDaddy’s expansion across Canada.  Jill has an extensive business background with leading technology and small business organizations in Canada.

 

 

 

featured image of workspace showing web design page via shutterstock.com

 

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How I Went from Breaking Even to Turning a Profit

Written by Katy Takaoka

Truth time. When I first opened my business, it was actually to stop myself from becoming a bored housewife. I’d decided not to go back to my cushy, corporate job after coming off a medical leave for a nervous breakdown at 27. Once my mental state (for lack of a better term) started to normalize – and I felt like an actual human being again, instead of a useless, worthless lump – my energy and enthusiasm began to increase. I was restless but I knew I didn’t want to go back to a toxic environment in the worthless. I figured – naively – that opening my own business would be a nice, simple alternative.

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Here’s the thing when you run a business to stop yourself from being bored at home all day: it’s not a business; it’s a hobby. And that’s how I ran it. My revenue covered my expenses and that was it. It didn’t actually make me any money and, to be honest, I was alright with that for quite a while.

Someone pointed out to me that I was only “playing” at business and not actually operating one, because a business is an activity that you intend to carry on for profit and there is evidence to support that intention. That got my back up a wee bit but I couldn’t really argue with how the CRA defines a business! Continue reading How I Went from Breaking Even to Turning a Profit

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It’s All About the Cash Flow Plan

cash flow plan
Written by Kate Arnold

We have marketing plans and revenue plans, succession plans and exit plans. We plan our days and our weeks, with intention to follow our plans. We use methods like SMART to develop our plans and we write them down.  We review and update our business and life plans at regular intervals. As entrepreneurs, we recognize the value of a plan.  It is central to our success.

When we are so committed to developing plans in our professional life, how is it that half of us expect to retire in debt? How is it that, as Canadians, for every dollar we earn, on average we owe $1.65? Why have retired Canadians identified day-to-day money management as their number one financial priority?  Is this part of our plan?

In Canada, it has not been part of our public education to teach students how to budget or Cash Flow Plan.  In many cases, children do not learn this skill from their parents.  So how do we, as adults, manage our money?  Well, we rely on our established relationship with money, good or bad, to guide us, because most of us don’t know how to cash flow plan.

A personal budget or cash flow plan is not about buying items on sale or learning to use the ‘flip’ app.  A cash flow plan is a written document that identifies your income, expenses, debt, assets, priorities and goals. It is a map that shows you where you are and how to get where you want to go.  It is a reference point to return to when you lose your way or encounter a road block. It is a plan. A plan that can be developed using many of the planning methods you already use.  When the right amount of time and care is taken to create your cash flow plan, you can use simple strategies in your daily life, to help you stick to your plan. Continue reading It’s All About the Cash Flow Plan

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Value Over Dollars

value over dollars

Written by Alyssa Light

Often when I hear people say that things aren’t made like they used to be, I think to myself that this applies to attitudes, too. In an age when people are fighting chivalry, I find myself smiling when I see a person taking their partners’ coat or opening a door for a stranger. It’s not that we can’t do these things for ourselves: It’s that when someone else takes action because of what they see, they are freely and publically demonstrating their values.  What if we applied the same principle to sales?

People want to be understood and attended to, and excellent customer service means being attentive to what the customer or prospective client needs. Our responsibility, as entrepreneurs, is to create an experience that provides exceptional value – and dollars are a side-effect of the value you add: No value, no dollars. Continue reading Value Over Dollars

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Announcing Our Finalists for 2016 Mompreneur® Awards

Drumroll Please!  

The 2016 Mompreneur® Awards Finalists have been selected. This year the awards have been expanded to offer two new categories. Winners will be announced at the Annual National Mompreneurs® Conference on March 4-5, 2016 in Toronto.

Friday, January 15th, 2016 – TORONTO, ON –  Mompreneurs® and ParentsCanada Magazine have teamed up once again to recognize and reward the country’s top mompreneurs with over $30,000 in cash and business services designed to drive the winners’ companies forward to further success.

Voting began on November 9th and closed December 31st, 2015 for the 2016 Mompreneur® Awards, presented by TruShield Insurance. The Mompreneur® Awards recognizes the hard work and talent of busy female entrepreneurs who are making advances in today’s Canadian business environment, inspired by new lifestyle needs and armed with the education and talent to do so. Continue reading Announcing Our Finalists for 2016 Mompreneur® Awards