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Brainstorming Sessions that Work

brainstorming ideas - sessions that work for mompreneurs and women entrepreneurs

What do you do when you have to solve a problem or you need a killer new idea for your business?  Many business owners spend thousands of dollars on consultants when the perfect solution is right in front of them tucked away in one of their employee’s brain.  How can you access your employees’ great ideas?  Why not try a brainstorming session?  Here are some techniques that will help you hold a brainstorming session that is actually effective:

Don’t allow criticism.

The fear of criticism stifles creativity and makes people unwilling to suggest unconventional ideas, which is the whole point of the exercise.  Focus on quantity instead of quality.  Make it a team goal to come up with 75 new ideas.

Invite the right people.

Ideally, you would want to have between four and eight people at your brainstorming meeting.  When the group gets too big, people start to get intimidated.  Include a mix of people from different levels and departments.  You want to invite people who are willing to think big.

Make it a comfortable experience.

The space that you are working in matters.  Try to find a different room than the one that you use for your regular meetings.  Make sure that the chairs are comfortable and that people have room to walk around.  Select a time for the meeting when your employees won’t be too distracted by other tasks, and don’t forget to provide food and coffee.

Have an official facilitator.

You need someone to keep everyone on track and make sure that there is no judgment or criticism of ideas.  It is best if the facilitator is someone other than the manager so that the team members don’t become intimidated.

Plan next steps.

Clearly communicate what the next steps will be.  After investing their time and energy into this meeting, it will annoy your employees if all their ideas lead to nothing.

When handled properly, brainstorming meetings can be an effective team building experience.  It can get people talking in the lunch room, which is where the best ideas will come from anyway.  Your real goal as a business owner is to create a culture of brainstorming at your company.  If your employees are always thinking and are motivated to develop and share their ideas, it will take your business to some amazing (and interesting) places.

 


Written by Karen Bivand

Featured image via shutterstock.com

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Dreaming Bigger Than the Fear

Written by Darlene Gudrie Butts

dream bigger than your fears

Do you have this huge desire to do something big?

Do you take a couple of steps and then stop, paralyzed by “what ifs”?

I can relate.

I have always been a big dreamer and if I am not a little scared I feel I am not living fully. But, this year I made the mistake of dreaming so big that the “what ifs” have been pummeling me in a heavy downpour.

I decided two months ago to go on this epic journey to travel across Canada to gather stories for Canada’s 150th birthday. The 150 best ones would be put in a book.

Not a bad idea.

What??? CANADA is HUGE! The gas alone will be insane.

Here comes the fear…

What if I run out of money?

What if no one submits a story?

What if the stories suck?

What if I can’t get people and businesses to sponsor books for grade fives and my big dream goes kaput?

Then, I turned it all around and sucker-punched fear to the floor.

What if I don’t run out of money?

What if I do run out of money and don’t cover every province in person? Can I still write the book? Hell yeah!

What if the site crashes because so many people are submitting stories and I make the national news because of it, which in turn causes another crash?

What if I meet the sweetest, most amazing people and get to tell the stories no one would hear if I didn’t share them?

What if I get to inspire a whole generation?

Dreaming bigger than fear is easy. It is all about perspective. If you concentrate on all the wonderful things that can happen versus the negative, they will happen. I promise.

Whenever I get overwhelmed, by this project I stop and picture an email sent by a ten-year-old telling me how she read a story in 150 Canadian Stories and now she is inspired to do something big for herself and her country.  Her life will be forever changed by one story. Then, I take the next logical step.

Take that fear!

Mic drop.


mompreneur Darlene Gudrie Butts of 150 Canadian Stories
Darlene Gudrie Butts
is an acclaimed author and speaker as well as a very proud Canadian and Elite+ Mompreneur member. She wanted to celebrate this country’s upcoming 150th birthday with her power skill, story-telling. Willing to leave her business, city and friends behind, Darlene is embarking on a three-month tour of this incredible country looking for ordinary people with extraordinary stories. Her big dream is to be able to get enough books sponsored to be able to gift them to every grade five student in Canada so that the next generation has the love and pride she has for this country! Find out more about Darlene’s journey at 150canadianstories.ca


 

 

featured image via shutterstock.com

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How to Identify Your Style Personality

Written by Christina Proctor

how to identify your style personality - written by mompreneur Christina Proctor

Personality types can be divided into five unique styles: classic, creative, dramatic, natural and romantic. To determine where you lie, read the descriptions below and take a tour in your closet. Can you see any trends in your purchases? Which category do they fit into?

You may find your style personality falls into several different types. You are a unique individual with a diverse lifestyle. Your style personality will reflect this and may change depending on the environment. For example, your style for work may differ from your style for play. Further, you may find your style has changed as you aged, as you changed careers, or as you altered your lifestyle in some other way (e.g. by having children). Determining your preferences will help you narrow in on the person you are and who you want to be, so you are better able to dress for yourself. Now that’s a beautiful thing!

“The Classic”

This style is traditional, elegant, and timeless, with items in tailored cuts. You may find an abundance of structured suits, jackets, pencil skirts and trousers in your closet, in classic colours like black, cream, brown, beige. Fabrics such as light wools, fine cotton, and silks make up the majority of your wardrobe and are easily mixed and matched. Accessories are made of traditional materials like gold, silver, and pearls, with simple designs. You choose a timeless hairstyle, accompanied by a safe and predictable makeup routine. Quality is valued over quantity and investment buying is preferred. Your style is best described as “understated,” “refined,” and “sophisticated.”

“The Creative”

This style values uniqueness and trend-setting above all else. Interested in runway looks, but always adding a twist, you combine interesting colours, textures, and themes into your outfits. You may find unusual silhouettes in your closet, with garments from a collection of different decades. Fabrics are glittered or shined, with exotic or geometric prints. With this style, you aim to stand out, as the dressing is considered a true art form. Jewelry is bold, costumed, and eye-catching. Your hairstyle is often long and curled, or short and dramatic, which is combined with an experimental and ever-changing makeup routine. Your style is best described as “eclectic,” “unpredictable,” and “one-of-a-kind.” Continue reading How to Identify Your Style Personality

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To Go “All In”

Written by Danielle Joworski

author Danielle Joworski - go all in

To go all in
Means to not look back
To fear what was, could be, or never will know

To have a belief
So strong in its roots
That shelters, supports, pushes and grows

To accept that life
Will present gifts of few and plenty
All in time, aligned with your true desires

To move from
Mundane and routine
To something that gives you a sense of passion and fire

To bring a dream
From ideas and thoughts
Into something you crafted, nobody else has built

Never knowing if a plan
Thought, checklist, or note
Will be what pays the bills, debt or guilt

Continue reading To Go “All In”

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How I Gave Away 1,000 Business Cards & Still Failed at Networking

Written by Tessa Kampen

networking tips

When I started networking, I was the best card dealer you have ever seen. If I came home with empty pockets, I thought I was a Rockstar because that meant I gave out 20 cards!

I don’t know about you, but for me that is what I assumed networking was – getting my business card into as many hands as possible. I want to show you why I was SO wrong and the 3 key things I learned about effective networking and how to win every time!

KEY TIP #1:

It’s Not About You

You know when you meet someone at an event and you introduce yourself and ask them what they do… and immediately they pull out their card and tell you all about the company they work for and how amazing it is? That was me. Another big no-no is going around to all the tables and slapping your postcards on all the place settings. Don’t do that!

When you attend an event, go with the sole purpose of serving other people. Instead of thinking to yourself “what are you going to do for me”, think instead about what YOU can do for THEM! Try this out at your next event – start up a conversation with someone about who THEY are and try to find a common ground. Ask them if they ever attended this event before, where do they live, compliment their outfit or earrings. Then ask them what they do and be genuinely interested in what they have to say. Make it about them, not you.  Continue reading How I Gave Away 1,000 Business Cards & Still Failed at Networking

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The 5 W’s of Outsourcing

How to Increase Your Revenue and Fall Back in Love with Your Business

Written by Michelle Callipari

The 5 W's of Outsourcing, tips from mompreneur Virtual Assistant Michelle Callipari VA

Hey You! Yeah I’m talking to you! Stop trying to do it all yourself!

I’m not saying this because I am a Virtual Assistant, but because we all have our strengths and we all have those things that we aren’t meant to be doing. We only have 24 hours in a day and at least 6 – 8 of those hours should be spent sleeping.

And let’s be honest here… there is at least one thing in your business that you absolutely loathe doing. Go on, tell me, what is it? Is it bookkeeping? Graphic design? Is it blog writing? Is it HST or taxes?Newsletters? Invoicing? Emails? I know, it’s Social Media isn’t it?!

I know there is something… and THAT thing is the thing you should be outsourcing right now!

Let’s take a quick walk through my version of the 5 W’s of Outsourcing… and I’m gonna throw in the How as well:

Who to Outsource To

Anyone who has a business or is in business has the opportunity (and need) to delegate and outsource.  To whom do you delegate, you ask? Well, typically a Virtual Assistant is a good place to start. Most VA’s have a specialty or a niche, or some are “generalists”, which means they do a whole lot of everything. Some freelancers don’t call themselves VA’s, like bookkeepers, graphic designers, web designers etc., so it’s best to have an idea of what you’re looking for.

What to Outsource

That thing that popped into your head just a moment ago! That thing that you despise doing or that thing that takes up way too much of your time. That thing that must get done, but is non-revenue generating. That thing you keep pushing to the bottom of your To Do List… Yeah, that thing! Continue reading The 5 W’s of Outsourcing

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Direct Sales 101

Written by Deborah Hilton

shutterstock_599744417

The basics of sales are the same within any industry around the world: you must be committed and consistent. Within the direct sales industry, there are a few key areas that will help you build your empire. There will always be other consultants out there that do exactly what you do, so don’t be the reason they look for someone else to buy their product from or build a business with! Future growth is waiting for you with a few small steps.

  1. Invest the time to develop a tracking system that you regularly check in with. Even a basic spreadsheet can provide you with a key spot to track your customer’s purchases, their favourite product, and when you last connected with them. Be consistent. We hear it all the time in direct sales: without follow up, you will lose business.
  1. Set aside dedicated time to follow up. And, pick up the phone! If a customer filled out a draw slip at a trade show, or placed an order with you, set aside the time to pick up the phone and call them. Texting and messaging is very convenient, but you can engage easier with them when you have a personal conversation. Sure, you might get a voice mail, and that’s okay. Leave a message. Even if they don’t call you back, it’s your desire to serve that will shine through. If you dedicate an hour or so each week to connect with your customers,, repeat business will be waiting for you. It might seem like a waste of time, especially when there are many points of contact, that don’t lead to an immediate sale. Direct sales is all about relationship building. It takes time. Be patient. It will come.

Continue reading Direct Sales 101

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Self-Care & Why You Need More of It

Written by Dawn Mucci

self care tips for mompreneurs - woman happy and grateful

 

Self-Care may seem obvious and necessary to most, but did you know that many of us could use way more of it than we are currently getting? We’ve all known someone or heard stories about business people and parents who end up burning out or having their health compromised because of unhealthy expectations, striving, coping mechanisms or lifestyle choices.

It is not uncommon for women to strive to do it all, manage it all and be it all.  “Super Woman syndrome” is alive and well, especially in the society we live in today. We are bombarded with distractions and extra pressure through social media and technology. Women bear most of the work load not only at home, but also in the work force; as a mompreneur and being the owner of your own business, you can easily imagine how much stress you are under on a daily basis.  Stress and being overwhelmed is a common thing among working women and it is not something that is often spoken about. The same holds true for men, but one thing women can count on is their ability to ask for help and to recognize when they need help.

I know from personal experience how hard managing a business and family life can be. I have had my fair share of sleepless nights, heart palpitations and anxiety. I was under a lot of pressure to succeed and achieve, and I had a lot of responsibility. My desire to strive for success and my high expectations caused much of the stress and symptoms I experienced. I will admit that I went down some wrong roads while in the midst of dealing with my own stressors. The expectations I put on myself as a mother and business owner were way too high and my health suffered as a result of it. The price I paid was high: I smoked too much back then and perhaps had a bit too much wine sometimes at the end of the day. I forgot to eat most days and I hardly took time to take care of myself. I was always “go, go, go!” — until I was literally gone. Eventually my poor choices became more of a problem than the problems I was dealing with; I was at a breaking point, but fortunately I recognized this, and I asked for help.   Continue reading Self-Care & Why You Need More of It

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Will You Be Ready to Answer When Opportunity Knocks?

Written by Karen Bivand

when opportunity knocks for women entrepreneurs

Are you thrilled about a fresh new start in 2017, or are you stuck in a rut? Do you feel like ‘the sky’s the limit’, or do you feel like you haven’t quite reached your potential?  Perhaps you haven’t been in the right place at the right time. Will you be ready to move on to bigger and better things when the opportunity presents itself? Success isn’t just about being lucky.  It is often said that the average overnight success takes about twenty years of preparation.

Here are some tips that will you help you be ready when opportunity knocks:

Keep Your Eyes Open.

Opportunity is all around you, the key is to be able to recognize it.  Make an effort to pay attention and be curious about anything that catches your eye.  Ask questions and see if it is worth pursuing.  If you’re in a hurry, make a note and follow up on it later.  People often notice opportunities and then hurry by and forget about them.

 

Be Flexible.

If something looks easy, everybody wants to do it.  For that reason, the truly great opportunities are often hidden behind inconveniences.  For example, there may be awkward hours, difficult tasks, or a long commute required.  However, if you are willing to look past the small difficulties, you may be able to access opportunities that would not otherwise be available to you.

 

Take a Risk.

Often the only way that you can achieve something great is by taking a calculated risk.  If you truly believe in something, you have to put it all on the line.  Of course you’ll be smart about it, but nobody ever got rich playing it safe all of the time.  If you don’t get yourself off the ground, you’ll only be able to reach the low hanging fruit.

 

Try Again.

If you are attempting to push past your boundaries, you are going to fail sometimes.  It’s not easy, but you have to be willing to pick yourself up and try again.  Many people give up after their first failure but if you persist, you may be surprised by what you can accomplish.

 

Stay Positive.

When everything appears the bleakest is when you can be guaranteed that opportunities are around.  Unfortunately, most people are too focused on their problems to see them.  Those who are able to remain optimistic under the most difficult circumstances are in the best position to overcome them.

 

It has been said that opportunity comes in a flash and is gone in a heartbeat.  If you’re not ready to answer the door when opportunity knocks, you may not get the chance again.  By preparing yourself now, you can confidently throw open that door and see what the world has to offer.

Written by: Karen Bivand, image courtesy of shutterstock.com

 

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Are You Setting the Right Intentions for Your Next Event?

Written by Michelle Callipari

Setting Intentions

I’ve been learning a lot lately about intentions and manifestation. My friend and colleague Sara Clarke made me realize that the universe doesn’t differentiate between negative and positive words. For example, if you say “Gee, I hope it doesn’t rain”, the only word that gets through is the word rain. Did you know this? I had absolutely no idea! Duh, I’ve been manifesting incorrectly all this time!  What you should be saying instead is “I am looking forward to a beautiful, sunny day!”.

Interestingly enough, your thoughts also translate over to your events, and more specifically, how your state of mind prior to an event will affect the outcome of your event. I was taught years ago to always set your intention(s) before an event. When you have an event coming up, ask yourself these questions:

  • Why are you going?
  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Who do you want to meet?
  • Who can you serve and how can you serve them?
  • How can you get the most out of this event?

While they may change slightly, my intentions for most events are pretty standard: Continue reading Are You Setting the Right Intentions for Your Next Event?