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9 Tips for Transitioning to a More Sustainable Business

 

Written by Laura Newton

Every business owner can discover easy ways to be more sustainable, and it doesn’t have to be overwhelming! Whether you have a bricks and mortar store, or you work from your home office, making small changes can have a huge impact. Here are some simple ways to get started:

  1. Start Slow… 
    Don’t try to do everything at one time; identify the changes you would like to make within your business and set realistic goals for implementing these changes. Similar to building a business, your success will come from consistency so ensure you give yourself the chance to transition to more low waste business practices without overwhelming yourself.
  1. Go Digital
    Going paperless may not be an option in some businesses and may seem unachievable to others so approach it as being more “paper limited”. Pinpoint the places that you are able to reduce paper waste in your business and focus on those. Receipts, loyalty programs, gift certificates/cards are a few great places to start to reduce your paper waste. Source out the online apps that would support these changes within your business.
  1. Donate and Thrift
    Often when our offices need a redo or simply a freshening up we automatically source out new items to replace the ones we have. Try finding used items that will work in your space as they are or that can be repurposed to fit. There are so many ways to easily find items that are preloved but still have so much life left in them. Check online sites, FB marketplaces, buy/trade/sell groups or simply ask the people you know. In most cases when you have something to get rid of, finding a new home for your items can be done in no time by just posting online that it is available. In my shop I do this even with the cardboard boxes that we receive from all of our shipments; people are always moving or organizing or storing things and boxes are a big hit! The things you may think no one wants or needs are snapped up in no time and you can feel great that these items get a new lease on life and you haven’t sent them to the landfill.
  1. Support Local
    One of the most important principals of sustainability is getting items you need from as close to home as possible. When sourcing out products or services for your business, see who you can use from your own backyard.
  1. Speak With Suppliers
    When working with a new supplier, or after deciding to transition to lower waste options, be sure to let them know what your expectations are surrounding sustainability. Is there a way that they can reduce the amount of waste coming your way with your shipments? Can they use more eco-friendly packing materials? Can you piggyback onto another local business’s shipment to reduce the carbon footprint of the freight? Most suppliers are happy to make adjustments to meet their clients’ needs.
  1. Choose Sustainable Packaging
    Regardless of whether you use an array of take-out packaging or simply supply bags for your customers, there are so many sustainable options available these days. Most packaging distribution companies have these options available, so sourcing is not an issue. No Issue and Eco Enclose are both great companies that provide compostable options for mailers, envelopes and labels.
  1. Be A Genuine Example
    Even if no one else in your industry is following sustainable practices, be the first! It’s ok to go against the grain especially when it’s to take part in something. Lead the way for your employees by implementing eco-friendly practices into your business and educating them on the positive impact these will have on the business and the environment; for example, check out TerraCycle. The majority of people are not resistant to change, they just need someone to show them where to start. Most importantly, be genuine and transparent. It’s difficult for people to follow your lead if you aren’t being true to what you are asking of them. That also doesn’t mean you have to be perfect; just be transparent about that and don’t pass judgement to others for what they aren’t doing. Meet people where they are; whatever stage of the sustainable journey that may be!
  1. Find A Mentor
    Look around your community and find the people who are doing things for the environment the way you want to and ask the questions! What systems work for them, which ones didn’t and why? People who are doing good by the community, the environment or just in general are almost always happy to share in their successes so find those people and learn from them! If you’re looking for tips online or advice from others along the sustainable journey, be sure to follow hashtags like #ecoliving, #sustainableliving, and #zerowaste on social media.
  1. Shout It From The Mountain
    Right now there is such a shift surrounding sustainable living/working so why not use that to your advantage when it comes to your business? People are so much more aware of the climate crisis and the changes that need to be made so let them know you are taking action and leading the way; your positive actions are bound to encourage and inspire others to follow in your footsteps!

 

Got other ideas? Feel free to share your tips for easy sustainable practices in the comments below!


2019 Mompreneur Startup Award Finalist LAURA NEWTON of The Kind Matter CompanyLaura Newton is the Founder of The Kind Matter Company, helping to guide others through their transition into adopting earth friendly practices within their daily lives. The Kind Matter Company provides a quarterly, sustainable living subscription box service that focuses on eco-conscious, Canadian made products. The time between each delivery allows subscribers to comfortably implement practices into their daily lives before new ones are introduced. Laura’s flagship store is located in Milton, Ontario where she offers retail items, workshops, and more to help you along your sustainable living journey.

 

 

 

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Nicole de Larzac – Nicole de Larzac Consulting Inc.

Nicole de Larzac is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Oakville, Ontario. She is a product development and marketing coach, and is dedicated to helping women create successful product businesses so they can live a life of freedom beyond the 9 to 5. Nicole does this primarily through a comprehensive program that she created, called the Product Launch Lab, providing full support, coaching and done-for-you services from idea generation all the way to launch. Nicole also coaches women who have already launched a product, helping them to further scale their business success. We are thrilled to share Nicole’s Success Story!

mompreneur Nicole De Larzac

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
I am passionate about helping women succeed in business. After being in marketing and consulting for over 20 years, and having managed some first class global brands, I felt that I wanted to do something to make a bigger difference. I wanted to help moms, like me, succeed and build a life of flexibility and freedom to be with their family. This is why I started my business and this is what continues to drive me.

mompreneur Nicole De LarzacWhat inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
After having my first child, my perspective changed. I had been on a corporate trajectory, managing the marketing for some big global brands at Coca-Cola. But having a child forced me to think about other options that would allow me to be more present with my baby. I could see that running my own business was a way to achieve it. So I started one – in a field I knew nothing about … and grew it to $2 million in sales. I sold that business and, since then, have been building – and growing – brands as a consultant, mostly focused on working with entrepreneurial women.

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
I love learning and there is always something to learn when it comes to running your own business. Some people binge on Netflix, whereas I binge on YouTube videos about marketing, e-commerce and personal development. For me, I am happy as long as I’m learning and growing. Working on my business is a passion and not work.

What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
There are a few people and experiences that have helped me along the way, but I’d say that my journey has been a collection of experiences. I credit my foray into entrepreneurship to my first business partner with whom I launched my business in Australia. He taught me a lot about the details behind owning a business. I also credit my coach who helped me realize my unique proposition. I didn’t see how I could help female entrepreneurs and she unraveled what I could offer based on all of my experiences. Lastly, my husband, who always cheers for me, no matter what. He is very entrepreneurial himself so he understands my desire to build a business.

https://nicoledelarzac.com/the-product-launch-lab/What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
I believe in integrity and hard work. To me, Integrity is doing what you say you’re going to do. I would rather under-promise and over-deliver than build false expectations. This is very important to me for building trust and I like to feel good about the promises I make. Hard work means that there’s no quick way to the top. You’ve got to earn it with hard work and perseverance.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I’m most proud of helping women who might not have known where to start or might have wasted time in the process. I know personally from having a coach that there is no way I could have done it alone. I think it’s the same when you’re building a product business. My clients tell me that they would have taken so much longer or would have made costly mistakes. When I see them create their dream product and get results, I feel so proud and connected with my purpose.

What does the future look like for you and your business?
I love this question because I always think the sky is the limit. I will expand my program into different offerings like online courses and masterminds. I’d like to build an agency for productpreneurs that offers complete marketing services. I’m really excited about my podcast (the Productpreneur podcast) that’s launching soon and I can see it becoming an amazing resource for female product business owners.

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
“If you can dream it, you can do it!” (Walt Disney)
Everyone has their self-doubts and we are our own worst critics. I struggle with it constantly! But, if we can just harness our dreams on top of our gifts, and take action, we will be unstoppable!

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7 Tips for Starting a Business

7 tips for starting a business - mompreneurs open signWritten by Shalini Dharna

Maybe the idea to become an entrepreneur strikes after you find out about an amazing opportunity that you just have to get in on… Or maybe you just can’t stand the 9-5 grind anymore and want to be your own boss. Whatever the case, going into business for yourself is scary, but it is worth it! Here are some tips to help set yourself up for success.

 

  1. Find the right product or service for you. There are a lot of companies you can buy into out there and each one has different rules and restrictions you need to adhere to. Or maybe you have a product you make yourself, or a skill/technical knowledge that you want to offer to others. Depending on what you are choosing to do, do your research on what is allowed by both company/industry regulations and government regulations. For example, you can’t just decide to be a real estate agent, you need to get your license and be part of a brokerage. You can’t just buy from Avon and sell it yourself, you need to buy a business kit and be registered as a consultant.

 

  1. Do your research. Don’t just jump right into your new business. Stand back and understand the requirements to succeed in your business. If possible, find someone already in the business and talk to them about how easy is it do business with your given product/service. What are the restrictions (if any) that you have to follow. For example, can you advertise? If so are there restrictions to how you can advertise? Can you work off commission or do you have to offer a fixed fee or hourly rate?Also understand where and how you can find clients. What is your target market? Where are they located? Depending on your chosen business, you need to figure out how easy is it for you to reach your audience.

 

  1. Develop a business plan. Even if you have a product that is in demand, take the time to set up a business plan. Don’t have a clue how to do this? Spend the money and get a professional to help you. Doing this wrong will not help you. Your business plan will help guide you as you build your business.  Your business plan will outline all the key facts you collected in step #2 but also factor in things like your financial budget, your operating structure, and other key topics. There are a lot of different free templates out there, and choosing the right one depends entirely on the users of the business plan. The user is the person who will be looking at your business plan and using it to make decisions – most of the time the user is an investor or creditor looking to lend money to you. Ask the user if there are any key items they want included in your business plan. This is where going to a professional can be beneficial to ensure your business plan is comprehensive and complete for your needs.

 

  1. Create a budget and try to stick with it. A new business means that you really don’t know how much you need to spend to succeed. And this is scary for all business owners. Again, hiring a professional to help with your business plan and budget can take away a lot of the stress of trying to figure out how to do it on your own. The easiest way to do a budget is figure out what are your unavoidable costs – these are called fixed costs. These are costs you have to pay even if you don’t make a single sale. For example: rent, utilities, the buy in cost for any product company you’re joining. Then you need your variable costs – these are costs that you can somewhat control. For example, you can spend $100 or $10,000 on a marketing campaign. The first few years of business your actual spending may not come anywhere near your budget as you need to have some trial and error in figuring out what works for you. This is where #5 is key

 

  1. Know your personal limit and do not exceed it. All businesses require personal investment of cash to get it up and running. You’ll either invest your personal savings OR you’ll take out a loan, which as a new business owner, will more likely than not be secured by personal collateral. You need to come up with your end-game number – this is the amount of money you are willing to spend before calling it quits. Obviously no business owner wants to start a business with the idea of it failing, but more often than not, people keep putting in their own money hoping that they will see a return on investment. They think… if I just put in $x,xxx more I’ll be able to turn it around and make back everything I’ve put in. Sometimes they’re right, often that’s not the case.  You’ll have a good idea within the first 2-5 years of trying whether you have a good business that will begin to generate income for you…or not. There will be growing pains, and financial mistakes along the way, but if you want to avoid putting too much personal money in, set a personal limit and live by it.

 

  1. Jack of all trades, master of none. In the beginning you will have to learn how to do everything yourself. You will become an IT, Marketing, Accounting, and HR master. But eventually, you have to spend the money to hire professionals to help you so you can focus on working your business. This should be built into your budget. The hours you spend learning how to build a website, or doing your own bookkeeping, are hours you can spend building your business by making sales. You need to figure out the value of your time and the hours you’ll spend learning how to do something properly vs hiring someone with the skills to do it right the first time. And especially in the case of accounting and tax, hiring a professional accountant to do your bookkeeping and taxes will make sure you’re not overpaying taxes and that you’re recording all the expenses you can properly!

 

  1. Dive in and have fun! Now that you’ve done all your homework and developed your plan… go get em! You will have to come out of your comfort zone to sell your product or service.  Join some networking groups or mastermind groups to get ideas of how to succeed, and to make connections with other entrepreneurs probably struggling with the same things you are. You should be having fun along the way building your business. If you find yourself more often than not stressing and getting overwhelmed, take a break and remember why you made this decision in the first place!

mompreneur Shalini Dharna of Dharna CPAShalini Dharna is an Elite+ Mompreneur® Member based out of Mississauga, Ontario. Her company, Dharna CPA, is  a one-stop shop for all your accounting, finance & tax needs!

 

 

 

 

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Amber Dinda – Glen Abbey Decor: Chalk Couture Independent Designer

Amber Dinda is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Oakville, Ontario. She is the owner of Glen Abbey Décor, where she brings colour, creativity, and connection to others as an Independent Designer with Chalk Couture. Amber has been a member with our community since 2010, and we are so excited to share her new entrepreneurial venture with our members, through her Success Story!

mompreneur Amber Dinda with Chalk Couture
About Chalk Couture
Chalk Couture provides easy high end DIY home décor that even the most novice crafter can create. Chalk Couture is revolutionizing the home décor space. Now you can create beautiful items for your house to make it your home.

Three ways Chalk Couture can help you:
1. Complete DIY – Shop from our online store and purchase everything you need to make your own items.
2. DIY With Help – Attend a workshop or drop in sessions and I will help you create a beautiful project.
3. Complete Hands Off – Purchase a finished item that I will make for you. Completely customized to your needs.

Chalk Couture brings colour, creativity and connection to the world around us, making life a work of art and home a happy masterpiece.

mompreneur Amber Dinda with Chalk Couture

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
With 15 years of experience as an entrepreneur already as an Event Planner, making the change to home décor was not a big shift, just a different demographic and age group. From working with kids to now working with mainly adults (although some kids do participate), it has given me a different perspective. I love helping people create beautiful projects through my workshops and classes (the teacher/speaker in me loves teaching!). I also love mentoring people to start their own journey into entrepreneurship, whether they want to do it as a side hustle to make some extra money to pay for family expenses or save for a big trip or if they want to make it a full time venture, I love sharing my years of entrepreneurial experience to help them realize their dreams.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
When my children were young, I was looking to do something that still gave me a career and a purpose while being able to be there for my children. I was tired of the long commutes back and forth into Toronto. I was working long hours and felt like someone else was raising my children. I didn’t want to miss out on those precious early years that go by so fast. Now that my children are older (one has graduated and the other is not far behind), it is still just as important to me that I am available to my family. I wanted to build something that could not only provide for my family, but to show my children that if you work hard and believe in yourself, anything is possible. Being a “mompreneur” has been the perfect blend of both worlds – home and professional.

 mompreneur Amber Dinda with Chalk Couture  mompreneur Amber Dinda with Chalk Couture

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Doing what I love on my schedule and my terms. I chose how, when and where I want to work and who I want to work with. It frees up my schedule to make sure I am living my life alongside of my work, not just working to live.

What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
All of my years in the corporate banking/investment world did teach me a lot about business. So when I entered the world of entrepreneurship, I was not at a complete loss of how to run a business. It gave me the fundamental tools that I needed to get started. Yes, there was lots to learn along the way, but I felt more confident at the beginning having some sort of footing to get started on. Over the past 15 years as an entrepreneur, I have met many amazing business owners who have supported me or helped me when I came across difficult obstacles. Having a support network has been very important over the years to share accomplishments with and also failures. It’s during the hard times. that you need a tribe around you. My Mompreneur tribe I know has my back when I need them most!

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
Be true to yourself. You are never going to please everyone and it’s impossible to be everything to everyone. I have discovered what I excel at and that’s the lane I stay in and focus on doing that really well. I am happier and feel more successful.

mompreneur Amber Dinda with Chalk Couture

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
Helping others succeed. Teaching and giving others tips, tricks, tools, knowledge or whatever they require to be successful brings me joy. When I see someone accomplish something, I feel proud. Whether it was employing young adults in their first ‘real job’ and watching them learn about the working world and grow as an individual or helping a new entrepreneur start and grown their own business, I feel proud knowing that I am helping the next generation be positive contributors to the world around them.

What does the future look like for you and your business?
Bright and exciting! I love that tools and products are now available to help people make beautiful items for their home and life. You used to have to be a real artist to be able to create, now anyone no matter how ‘creative’ they think they are or are not, can craft something they can be proud of. And that people can build businesses to become entrepreneurs being creative, is amazing!

mompreneur Amber Dinda with Chalk Couture

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
Have set office hours: Just because I work from home, does not mean that clients can call me all hours of the day. If I was a store, I would be closed when the mall is closed. Not having set hours leads to a chaotic schedule and you will never feel like you have a break.

Be organized and focused: In the beginning you are going to be pulled in all different directions and want to try everything to get your business going. Stick to your business plan and be focused. I use time blocking to stay organized. I allocate certain times of the day to do certain things (i.e I respond to emails at 3 different times during the day, I work on social media at another time, etc.). Allocating small chunks of time to a specific task will help to keep you on track.

Take care of yourself: If you are not healthy and feeling well, how are you going to run a business? Make sure you take the time in your day to get some exercise. Make sure you get enough sleep and eat properly.

Set goals and write them down: … and celebrate when you achieve them! Goals that are not written down are dreams. Write down your goals and the steps involved to achieve that goal, no matter how small the goal. When you achieve a goal, reward yourself. You need to celebrate your accomplishments. You worked hard to make that goal a reality, now celebrate it!

Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Do not try to be a hero and do everything by yourself. We all need help at some point and don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for it. Don’t like accounting, then why would you do it? Get a bookkeeper/accountant to do it for you. Do you have small children and feel like you can’t get any time to yourself to get some work done? Setting up playdates with some other moms is a great way to get some quality work time and your kids get to socialize with other children. Once a week, your kids can go for a playdate and you get an afternoon of quiet focused work time.

Lastly, support other women. When women work together to lift each other up, amazing things can happen. There is enough business out there for everyone no matter what your field. Other women are not your competitors, they are you biggest cheerleaders. Collaborate and work together, we can all achieve more together than we ever could alone.

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10 Steps to Launching your Own Product

Written by Nicole de Larzac

Have you ever thought about launching your own product? A product in any industry, whether nutrition, apparel, beauty, printable, or otherwise, gives you the ability to create something physical for others to use and allows you to have a bigger impact. If you have an existing business, a product launch can expand your range, give you residual income and help your customers even further.

Like many mompreneurs, you might be second-guessing yourself because you may fear your idea isn’t good enough or has been done before. Or maybe you believe that you lack the management and marketing skills needed to be an entrepreneur and don’t have the time to learn them considering your full plate as a mom. It’s time to stop second-guessing and procrastinating because I’m giving you a comprehensive guide to start your own product business and be your own boss in 10 simple steps:

Step 1:
Do your Research and Brainstorm New Product ideas

Where do you come up with a product idea? Ideas are all around you disguised as pain points or unmet needs. In the beginning, your job is to brainstorm a list of product ideas that solve these unmet needs. Do some market research with your target market and discover their pain points.  What product solution would make this person’s life easier? Which market trends or changing consumer behaviours are about to become mainstream? Ideate around themes like this to come up with at least 30 ideas.

Step 2:
Shortlist Your Ideas
Now that you have a list of ideas, you must next shortlist all your ideas to the top 5 to 10. It’s important to not just do this on your own but to also add a few people, preferably from your target market, who might have an opinion. You’ll get a sense of what rises to the top, and it might surprise you; often what we think our target market wants is not what we think.

Step 3:
Concept Test Ideas
At this point, you want to take the top ideas and test them with your target consumer to see if your consumer understands, wants or needs your product. You want to show them a strong visual of the product (e.g. a drawing, mock-up, or picture) and a description so that they can visualize it for themselves. Create a ‘concept’ for 5-10 of your ideas and test them with your target audience, testing for things like purchase interest and uniqueness. For a detailed deep dive into steps 1 to 3, including how to create clear concepts, download my free resource “How to Come up with a Winning Product idea that Sells”.

Step 4:
Your Unique Brand Positioning
Based on the winning concept, you want to define your brand positioning and strategy. This will be the basis of your marketing efforts. Here is a simple guideline to start:

  • Decide on your brand name and ensure that it is available for use by doing a trademark search
  • Define your positioning: XYZ product helps (insert target) do (insert benefit) so they can (insert action) because (reason to believe)
  • Define your unique selling proposition: how is your product unique vs. your competition?
  • Who is your ideal target market and how does your product fulfill their needs? Write about your customer avatar as if they are a real person, and get into detail about who they are, their habits, what their challenges are, etc.

Step 5:
Come Up with a Business Plan
You need a clear and comprehensive business plan to make your business idea a reality. Yes, I know what you’re thinking when I say “business plan” but you don’t have to be a business expert to develop your own business plan. You just need to be clear on the roadmap of how you’re going to launch your product and achieve your goals. A simple framework is the Business Model Canvas. I won’t get into the details here, but here are a few key things to think about:

  • Logistics: How will you get your product distributed? Who will produce it?
  • Pricing: How will you price your product relative to your competitors and to the costs that go into making the product (cost of goods sold)?
  • Finance: What do your financial projections look like? Remember not to be overly optimistic with demand forecasts! How will you get the necessary funding? For extra help here, check out my blog post “10 Sources of Funding For Your New Product Business
  • Legal/Technical: Are there any approvals required?
  • Marketing Mix: How will you achieve trial and awareness with your target market?

Step 6:
Product Development
At this stage, it’s important to minimize your risks and test out a live version of your product. You will develop a prototype or limited production model. You also want to have the packaging design and branding complete so that your customers and end-users are looking at a complete package.

Step 7:
Test Market Your Product
Now that you have a prototype, you can test with a small sample group. Speak to small focus groups of your target market, to get feedback on the product and the design. Then you can tweak your prototype based on the feedback you receive before launching your final product.

Step 8:
Present to Customers
If you’re planning on launching into retail or selling to distributors, then you will need to present your final product to potential customers. You’ll want to present insights about your product; for example, what is your unique selling proposition, how does your product fulfill an unmet need in the market, what are the consumer trends that support it, what claims or testing do you have to support it? Also, think about THEIR needs – why it is going to grow their business, how will you promote the product to help their sales, their numbers – margin, selling price, etc.? Be sure to share your story and credibility, your track record with this business and other businesses, and testimonials that you’ve received. This is a really important step as you only get one chance to present. If you’d like help in this area, click here to book a discovery call with me and I’ll be happy to assist!

Note: There is a difference between customers and consumers. A customer sells to the end-user, while the consumer is the end-user. For example, you may be selling to retailers (customers) who will then sell to the end users (consumers).

Step 9:
Prepare for Launch
Now is the moment of truth. You’re happy with the final prototype and you have a plan of action. If selling to retail stores, you will want to secure Purchase Orders so that you can plan for the initial production. Based on your forecasted sales, you will need to forecast an initial production run, as well as ongoing production. Website presence is also a must. Start developing your marketing materials, for example email, social media, in-store, trial, collateral, and displays. Additionally, you might want to get pre-orders from your end-users (Kickstarter campaigns are a great example of this).

Step 10:
Launch!
Now it’s time to launch! Before producing, you’ll want to approve the first production run. Also, monitor your supply and demand carefully, track your listings and weekly sales versus targets. Ensure that your marketing efforts are working for you by tracking performance, such as engagement and conversion rates. Marketing is not a perfect science and you might need to test out different methods to see what’s working.

I hope this guide helps you launch your dream business and live the life you’ve always wanted! I’m just skimming the surface in these steps, but in my new program, the Product Launch Lab, we will be going through these step by step together.  To chat more about this program, book a free strategy session with me anytime, by clicking here.

Best of luck to you bossmoms!


mompreneur Nicole De LarzacNicole de Larzac is a product development and marketing coach who helps women create products that sell, so they can live a life of freedom (and success!) beyond the 9 to 5. She does this primarily through a comprehensive program called the Product Launch Lab, which provides full support and done-for-you services from idea generation all the way to launch. She also helps women who want to scale their product business through coaching and marketing services.

Nicole has over 20 years of marketing and consulting experience, building new products and brands such as Sprite, Nestea, Delissio Pizza and Weight Watchers. She was responsible for everything from innovation to advertising for these brands. After her first baby was born, she decided that she wanted to start a business to give her the time and flexibility to be with her baby.  She started a product business in Australia (where she lived at the time) and grew it to over $2 million in sales. She is passionate about helping other moms like her succeed in business so that they too can live a life of freedom and flexibility. Whether your product is in nutrition, beauty, apparel or other, Nicole will help you get the fundamentals in place to start and scale your product business.

 

A version of this article previously published at nicoledelarzac.com

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Laura, Theresa & Donna – She’s Got Leggz

She’s Got Leggz is an energetic and fun social selling leggings and apparel company. What started in April 2015 at a dining room table as an opportunity for extra play money for the kids’ extracurricular activities and for family vacations, quickly took off to a budding enterprise with over 90 Stylists across Canada and a team of 3 amazing women propelling the company forward. We are so excited to share this amazing company’s Success Story!

She's Got Leggz fashion leggings and apparel founded by mompreneurs Laura Young and Theresa Place
Laura Youngs, Theresa Place, and Donna Pinsonneault

About She’s Got Leggz
All our leggings are designed in house by Laura, and then manufactured overseas. We provide sizing from children (2 – 14) and women from petite to curvy plus (00-24). All women of any shape or size can enjoy the comfort of our product. In the beginning, She’s Got Leggz had just 2 of us at the helm (Laura and Theresa), but as of May 2019 we took on our 3rd partner and CFO, Donna, who brings 20 years of CPA experience to our company along with a whole lot of love for leggz. We take great pride in being able to offer the opportunity to empower women through our business model, which works similar to Avon or Tupperware, allowing women to become their own boss. We have Stylists who have paid for their annual family vacations, and Stylists who have quit their full-time job and solely focus on their business with She’s Got Leggz!

She's Got Leggz fashion leggings and apparel founded by mompreneurs Laura Young and Theresa PlaceWhat is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
We loved the comfort and versatility of leggings and had looked into being sales reps for a couple companies but they already had people selling in our area and turned us away. We knew we wanted to do this and we finally reached a point that we wanted to create something of our own and something that our families could carry on. We didn’t want to look back wondering how things would be different if we didn’t go for it.
What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
Freedom, fun and prosperity… we never imagined it would grow to this level! Being an entrepreneur comes with a lot of risk, but where there is risk, there is reward. Creating something that is “yours” is the greatest reward!

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
Having the flexibility to be there when our families need us and showing them that hard work and perseverance does pay off. The sense of servitude. Helping others achieve their goals and create their own independence. Lastly, building our own dream instead of someone else’s.

She's Got Leggz fashion leggings and apparel founded by mompreneurs Laura Young and Theresa PlaceWhat impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
We have met numerous people throughout our years. We have been blessed to make the acquaintance of so many wonderful women entrepreneurs who have helped us on our journey. We have a wonderful friend and business coach in Julie Ellis (former co-owner of Mabel’s Labels) who has listened to our questions and concerns and guided us in the right direction. We have met with the fabulous Tonya Johansen, Founder of Steeped Tea, who helped us to realize the benefits of the Direct Sales model for us and for our Stylists. Lastly, but definitely not least, Monica Graves of Glam Julz, she has been a hard core entrepreneur for several years. We have done several fundraisers together and always bounce ideas off each other.

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
Our tag line and moto is “Be your own kind of beautiful” We encourage that … one pair of leggings at a time. EVERY woman, regardless of age, size or shape should always know they are beautiful. One of our greatest rewards is empowering women to be their own bosses through our direct selling business model. Our sense of team work and support has helped us create this amazing network of women.

She's Got Leggz fashion leggings and apparel founded by mompreneurs Laura Young and Theresa Place

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
Inspiring other women to become their own boss. We love seeing our stylists succeed and grow their business and find a sisterhood of support in this company.

What does the future look like for you and your business?
BIG! She’s got Leggz is looking forward to spreading our network further across Canada. Reaching new communities and regions is very exciting to us. We are expanding our line up to include collections – so sweaters and jackets may be on their way! We hope to offer the full outfit to women, as a one stop shop from the comfort of your home.

She's Got Leggz fashion leggings and apparel founded by mompreneurs Laura Young and Theresa Place

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
Do your research – know your market. Have concrete goals -right from the start. Find a mentor – another women entrepreneur and network with other women business owners. Sometimes you overthink the reasons you can’t or shouldn’t. You just have to take the chance, believe in yourself and JUST DO IT! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You can not do it all or you will burn out. Align yourself with the right skillsets to complete your puzzle and you will be able to focus on the things that make you grow.

 

 

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Three Important Test Taking Tips for Your Kids

Written by Cathy Thompson, Founder of Beyond the Classroom In-Home Tutoring

Test Taking Tips for children and for business ownersMy daughter was recently nervous about an upcoming test at school. She’d been studying for this test for days, but she couldn’t seem to shake the anxiety even though she was prepared. The tension began to rise, and I suggested she take some deep breaths to move into a calmer place. I emphasized that grades aren’t important as long as she did her best. These two things are typically things all of us say to our anxious kids, but they just weren’t working for my daughter this time around.

As a business owner, we are sometimes put in stressful situations where we need to make decisions and handle uncertainty. Just like us, kids get stressed about homework, assignments and tests. Now that we are in the swing of things with a new school year, here are some easy tips to share with your kids that you might not have considered before when it comes to taking tests at school, as well interesting ways to use these tips for your own business!

  1. Tell yourself “I am excited”
    Even if they don’t feel it, I tell them to trick their brain by saying it over and over. We talk about why it’s exciting to be taking this test. In this case it’s because she’ll be able to show the teacher all that she has learned. She’s also excited to get it over with! Research suggests that by telling ourselves we are excited; it changes our brain chemistry that allows us to show up in a different headspace in stressful situations.
  2. Read the whole test over first. This tip I learned the hard way in grade 5. My teacher told the class to read through the entire test first in order to understand what was on it. I didn’t. I dug right into question 1 and kept writing … my classmates were done – already! The very last line on the page said to only put our names on the test and we were not allowed to do any questions. Wow. That was a lesson. The reason it’s important to read the test over first is not to look out for tricks, but more to get a sense of how to allocate time on questions. It’s also a great way to jog our memory by reading all the information, which can add to responses on all questions.
  3. Write something down for each question. Teachers love to give part marks. They can often sense what a student is thinking in their responses and will give part marks accordingly. I tell my kids to write something down even if they have no clue what the question is asking and to use information from other parts of the test.

You can even use these tips in your own business! Telling yourself “I am excited” before an important meeting or interview can help you feel great. Taking the time to read documents over in full, whether it be a contract or application, that way you are thoughtful in your responses. Finally, taking a step in a forward direction in your business is like trying for “part marks” – you are making an effort and that’s important.


 

2019 Mompreneur Award of Distinction Finalist CATHY THOMPSON, founder of Beyond the ClassroomCathy Thompson is an Elite+ Mompreneur member based out of Burlington, Ontario. She is the Founder of Beyond the Classroom, where highly trained and hand-selected tutors work with families to customize tutoring sessions for their children – providing exactly what the child needs. The sessions take place in the students’ home in order to meet the comfort level of the child and to give parents a much-needed break from the constant shuffling around to activities.

 

 

 

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Alison Brett – Clasp Magic

Alison Brett is an Elite+ Mompreneur Member based out of Oakville, Ontario. Alison is the Founder, CEO and Inventor of Clasp Magic, an innovative tool which offers its users the complete solution to Clasp Bracelet attachment. We are so thrilled to share Alison’s Success Story!

mompreneur Alison Brett - Inventor of Clasp Magic


About Clasp Magic
This patented device holds the clasp end of your bracelet secure and open. All you have to do is place your wrist down, connect the bracelet’s loop end into the open clasp, and press the quick release button. Bracelets attached in seconds… independently AND struggle free! Women of all ages enjoy Clasp Magic in their lives; young teens all the way to seniors, women with long nails, women on the go and busy mothers. It makes the perfect gift for women everywhere!

Clasp Magic comes with a built in jewelry box. Inside each jewelry box, there is an anti-tarnish insert to help keep your jewelry clean and safe when it is not in use. Clasp Magic’s drawstring bag offers further protection when travelling in your purse, gym bag, or luggage. Designed to be compact and lightweight to fit all of your lifestyle and travel needs, Clasp Magic works with bracelets that have spring ring clasps or lobster clasps of various sizes and shapes, eliminating the past struggle of clasp bracelet attachment without altering your bracelets in any way. With Clasp Magic, you can rely on its complete help and independently accessorize yourself anytime, anywhere!

mompreneur Alison Brett - Inventor of Clasp Magic

What is your “WHY” behind your business/being an entrepreneur?
During my hardest years as a stay-at-home mom, I remember living in the same yoga pants and t-shirts week after week after week. Yes, they were clean, but quickly ended up covered in spit-up and more. I felt very lost in my personal image and as a woman, and quite honestly, a bit depressed. Slowly, I turned this around by changing the outfits I wore, even if I never left the house. I would put on small bits of make-up and the biggest pick-me-up I found was wearing jewelry. It is amazing how a few pieces attached in the morning made me feel like an empowered mama. Few moms with young children have ‘extra’ time in the morning to get themselves ready, but with Clasp Magic, you only need a few seconds … and that amount of time can be fit into anyone’s morning routine. Women and moms need to start their days with confidence and empowerment, and Clasp Magic is a small tool that can help start off mornings in the best way possible. Bracelets attached in seconds, independently, every single time.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
It was August 2004 and I had just moved to Switzerland to start a new Kindergarten teaching position. I was going to my first work event and wanted to make a great first impression. I had recently purchased two Tiffany & Co. silver bracelets with the tiniest of clasps and chose both to wear. Alas, I knew I had no time to struggle alone in my new apartment, so I went to the work event early. I found a complete stranger to help attach them. In that moment, I had so quickly lost my independence. I was able to move to Zürich to start a brand new job knowing absolutely no one, yet I couldn’t independently attach two small bracelets! Right then and there, Clasp Magic was conceptualized in August 2004.

mompreneur Alison Brett - Inventor of Clasp Magic

I was always determined to bring this invention to life, however, life got in the ‘way’ for a few years. I met my husband Nick in Zürich (2006), we got married (2008) and had our first baby in March 2010. After moving back to Oakville, my hometown, we had two boys join our clan. Then, something happened and changed everything… I found out I was expecting baby #4 on the day of our 6th Wedding Anniversary, June 25th, 2014. That news, which gave me great joy and fear simultaneously, gave me the impetus to finally start this journey. Fear of providing for four children on only one income jolted me into quick action. I called various design firms in the GTA and found one who answered the phone, without any automation. Then and there, I booked my free consultation. My father drove me into Toronto, and my mother stayed at home while my three young children napped. My pitch was successful in August 2014 and at 7 weeks pregnant with my fourth baby on the way, design work officially started for Clasp Magic.

I have never liked to struggle with daily tasks. I did not like it back as a young 22 year old and I certainly didn’t have time to struggle attaching clasp bracelets with four young children! I also always wanted to find the ‘complete’ solution, as I was raised to never do a job less than 100%. For me, not offering women the complete solution wasn’t worth all the effort. I want to help women everywhere gain back time and independence in their lives and Clasp Magic can offer that!

What’s the best part about owning your own business?
The best part of owning your own business is being free to independently make all the big decisions! As CEO of Clasp Magic and without any partners, I am the entire engine! My husband, Nick and my young children are in this journey with me and together, we are ‘All-In’! I like to work hard and find that when you own your own business, you have to wait less for others to finish tasks. You are accountable for the majority of operations and I really like this reality! Plus, if you are willing to do the work, there are plenty of free or low cost sources of information to help when you find you do not know how to complete a task.

Working only in my home means that my children are also very involved in the process. My eldest asks me daily what I did for Clasp Magic and writes frequent letters and notes cheering me on. They have helped share my story on Instagram and the older two are aware of exactly what stage the business is in. I truly hope that this journey has a positive impact on their future careers and lives as well! Lastly, the best part of owning my own business is that it has and hopefully will always allow me to be home for my children too. I am free to take them to school, pick them up, take them to activities and be there during school breaks. I am able to work when they are not at home and have become quite adept at working all around the evening hours or in parking lots while kids are in a class as needed. I really love all of my jobs!

mompreneur Alison Brett - Inventor of Clasp Magic

What impact did other people/experiences have on you, and how did they help you get to where you are in your business today?
All the experiences of my past have helped build the path I have walked towards entrepreneurship. If any were taken away, I am not sure I would be here in the same capacity. A few experiences stand out:

As a young child, I was a figure skater. I got to quite a high level and was even a Co-Captain on the Queen’s Varsity Figure Skating Team. When you train as a skater, you are allowed to talk in the change room, but ice time involved one fifteen minute private lesson and then practicing for the rest of the ice time (45 minutes). I learned from an early age to organize my own training as I did not want to get in trouble for ‘wasting’ time. Talking at the boards, and in general, was forbidden and so we led our own practice and training before and after our scheduled private lesson. I believe this helped me learn how to schedule my time efficiently and to independently work and train for an end result. I learned to ‘do what needed to be done’. I did not have a group of friends cheering me on at all times, it was up to me. The past five years of Clasp Magic has involved this type of work entirely. I have had to figure out how to make progress, how to find the funds, and what tasks needed to be completed on my own. If at any time I gave up on Clasp Magic, that would have been on me… not many friends or even family members would have been too concerned.

I seem to pick the ‘hard’ way and have never had much handed to me. I have been told ‘not possible’ so much that I have learned to ignore this statement and turn it into my own ‘yes it is possible’! I was told I would never land any double jumps in skating; I could land five at the end of my ice skating career. I was told I should not apply for my desired University Program (ConEd at Queen’s) because someone else from my high school was applying; well, I did and received two separate acceptances. I was told ‘not at this time’ when I applied for my first teaching job at the Canadian School in Singapore; two weeks later, something opened up and I moved to Singapore by myself in August 2002. I was told the same exact news when I applied to teach in Zürich, Switzerland in 2004; a few months later, something opened up and I moved to Switzerland in August 2004. Needless to say, I have learned to tune out this negative response and discover my own way of converting it to a yes! This is very important when working on an invention, especially for Clasp Magic as it is a device that is one of a kind. The words ‘Not Possible’ have become a way for me to search for hidden paths. I have never been rebellious or rude in my approach, however, I was and am still confident about Clasp Magic’s future.

Lastly, there is a very special person I met, who changed my life forever and is an integral part of Clasp Magic’s start. She was four when I met her and she was in my first JK class in Singapore. This student of mine was in remission for Leukaemia when I met her and she relapsed five months into our school year together. When she missed school for treatments, I took art classes to the hospital. I took language and science activities and completed them with her after school in her home. The family, my dear student and I became very, very close. She received specialized treatment back in the USA in the summer of 2003; unfortunately it was not successful and I ended up flying out to be with her and her family during her last week of life (October 2003). When I arrived she was overjoyed. I was her only teacher and carried that responsibility with such pride. Two days before she passed she had changed her mind and shared a new dream for what she wanted to be when she grew up. To personally witness such a beautiful little life taken away far too soon changed my life forever. I made a vow the day she passed to never, ever live my life with regret. Watching my student not have the chance to live out her dreams made me absolutely certain I would live mine to the best I could. Not doing so, would have been a great dishonour to her, her spirit, and her memory. After August 2004, when the Clasp Magic idea was conceived, I knew I never wanted to wake up one day, old and grey and not have designed, built and launched Clasp Magic…

What values do you believe in and live by, and how do they shine through when it comes to your role as a business owner?
The first is hard work. It has taken me five years of work to get Clasp Magic manufactured. Most of the reason for this timeframe has been due to mom jobs being all-consuming and needing more monetary funds. My fourth child was born 9 months into my journey. Inventions are not cheap! I believe strongly in achieving at least one task everyday. As an entrepreneur, you cannot wait for others to solve your challenges, you are the captain and the ship will not sail without you… so, just make a list and complete it.

Second is patience. I am not a patient person by nature; I will always describe myself as ‘Type A’. However, when it has come to making sure all the revisions have been made properly and ensuring my manufacturer understands all my requests and revisions, I have learned to be incredibly patient. Sometimes, you truly cannot rush a good thing, or you might risk manufacturing your entire first production run with a flaw. That possibility has scared me into being patient through two extra revisions, and was the reason for my trip out to Asia in November 2018.

languageandfunLAF@gmail.comFinally, quality and perfection are values I believe in. I was raised to complete all tasks: homework, projects, exams and tests to the best of my ability. I will not manufacture Clasp Magic without ensuring quality and perfection. A business will grow organically through word of mouth references. I want my buyers to love and be so happy with their Clasp Magic that they want one for their sister, their mother, and every women they know! I do not want bad reviews, angry customers, or returned inventory.

What are you most proud of when it comes to your business/being an entrepreneur?
I am most proud of how I have been able to drive my business through so many unknowns whilst raising four young children. The first two years of work were done ‘in the dark’ – meaning I only told a few select people what I was working on, and when I was pregnant and raising a newborn. Clasp Magic is an invention, and in the beginning, I had no Patent Protection. This meant I talked to virtually no one about what I was designing; I was too terrified to. As such, I didn’t have regular friends asking me how things were going, I had no team members telling me my next steps, I had no retreats or staff events to attend… it was independent, quiet work in my hardest years as a mother with four children under five years old.

After receiving my first Utility Patent with the USPTO in July 2017, I started to share my story with others and then the world. This was very scary for me! Still today, I work on my own daily at my desk, in parking lots while my children are in a class, or late at night. I do not have team members, fun retreats, or staff events; it has been lonely. I am so excited to be a new member of this Mompreneur community as I need creative outlets and I need to be connected with like-minded women.

Finally, the impact this journey has had on my eldest daughter has made me so proud! She once made a toast to me as a ‘mom who is following her dreams all the way to the end’. The best lessons we can give our children are taught through leading by example. “Walking the walk” will teach them far more than telling them what to work for.

mompreneur Alison Brett - Inventor of Clasp MagicWhat does the future look like for you and your business?
My future will start with me growing sales through my online store. I am also hoping to retail Clasp Magic in local stores as well. I have had some past attention from both Business Insider and The Shopping Channel (TSC), so I will explore those avenues. I also have ideas for add-on items and a few more products to add to my line. I believe it will take time and effort to get sales rolling, but I believe in Clasp Magic! With my youngest starting full day JK in September, I will be able to have more daytime hours to work and drive my business. Everything becomes a little easier on the mom side of things as children develop a bit more independence.

Any tips for women thinking of starting a business?
My advice to other women would be to listen to your heart and ignore any ‘it is not possible’ comments. If you have a business you want to start, your passion will help get you there. Ask for help when you need it and be ready to work very hard. In the start-up phase, a lot of work will be needed. Creating your own ‘formula’ in order to build your business, maintain your home, and to take care of yourself is essential. Mothers will put themselves at the bottom of the list, but we are the centre of the family, keeping ourselves on the list is a priority too. Find out what you need on a daily/weekly basis to keep yourself refreshed, energized and working to your full potential! In summary, make your own path, take care of yourself and always ask for help when you need it! Good Luck!

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How PayPal Can Help Grow Your Business

As a mompreneur, Milli Fox has done it all. She has worked as a doula and a nutritional therapist specializing in fertility. Today, she is the founder of Junior Foxes, a booming business specializing in chic baby carriers and a verified influencer on social media who shares her message of self-love and girl power as a success coach across the country.

With her uber busy lifestyle as a boss and mom-of-one, she’s learned how to be efficient and maximize each minute of her time, especially in her business dealings. Finding systems that work is critical, she said. Using PayPal to get paid and invoice her customers is one of the ways she saves times every day.

“I log into my PayPal account all the time so I love that I don’t have to leave the platform to find another service to help me create invoices for my customers,” she said. “It’s really easy and user-friendly and makes it easy to do business.”

mompreneur Milli Fox uses PayPal for online e-commerce gateway

They are fully customizable, allowing business owners to include a company logo, applicable discounts, item descriptions, tip options and more. It also allows a business owner to pick a currency to issue the invoice in, which is essential for sales that are outside Canada. It’s free to send an invoice, you pay only when you get paid. A link on the invoice makes it easy for customers to pay, even without a PayPal account.

Managing invoices is also quite simple. Business owners can send out estimates, schedule invoices for future and recurring services and at a glance, take a peek at what’s been paid and which payments are still outstanding. Tax season tends to be complicated for entrepreneurs but Milli says she breezes through it with the life hacks she’s carved out for herself. “My accounting software lets me log in through PayPal to integrate my information which means it can access the invoices they need. It’s so easy.”

Finding a system that works is just some of the advice that Milli shares with fellow entrepreneurs. The most important thing she focuses on in her coaching business is reminding women to trust their instinct and to silence the voices that breed doubt.

“The biggest mistake women make is thinking they’re not ready. Also, analysis paralysis – taking too much time to research, believing you’re not ready or not good enough. These are the beliefs we have that hold us back from taking the next step.”

Running a business is a lot like parenting where a lot of the time, you have to take a leap of faith and believe everything will work out as it should.

“Just get going. Start taking action and you can course-correct along the way. Action is always more powerful than intention. Done is always better than perfect. Just get it off the ground and make it pretty later.”

For more expert advice and to get started on growing your business, visit PayPal.ca.

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What You Need to Know About Your Customers

What Mompreneurs need to know about their customers - woman in a flower shop

All successful entrepreneurs have at least one quality in common — a laser focus on their customers’ or clients’ needs. Make no mistake – without your customers, you have no business! The only way to persuade potential customers to choose you over your competition is to truly understand them. Here are five things that you need to know about your customers if you want them to keep coming back:

Your Customer Demographic:
Who are your customers? Are you selling directly to consumers or to businesses? How old is your average customer? Are your customers typically men or women? Do they have children? How much money do they have to spend? If you are selling to businesses, what type of business are you targeting? Who within the business makes purchasing decisions? What do you know about that person? The more that you know about your customer, the better you can target your product to their specific needs.

What Their Needs Are
This is your million dollar question. What problem is your customer actively trying to solve? What is currently at the top of their mind? If you can identify and solve their key issues, they will break down your door to do business with you.

When They Will Need You
When it comes to getting and keeping a customer, timing is everything. If you know when your customer will be ready to make a purchase, you can strategically reach out to them at that time. Give them a deal and make it easy for them to choose your company. Since everyone is so busy, if you offer your product in a way that is both convenient and timely, you will be bound to get a positive response.

What Their Expecations Are
Before you start working with a new customer, make sure that you are on the same page. If you don’t have a detailed conversation with them about their expectations, you are taking a big risk. You might find yourself in a situation where you are not giving them what they need, or you could later discover that what they are expecting is impossible for you to deliver.

Why They Like Shopping With You
What do your customers value? What makes them choose you over your competition? Is your company strong in community involvement? Do you have a high level of expertise in one particular area? Is the quality of your products better than that of your competitors? You need to know what makes you attractive to your customers so that you can protect your competitive advantage and possibly expand on it.

 

The secret to having happy customers is to truly understand their needs. If you feel like you don’t really know your customers, it might be worth spending some time with them. After listening to their feedback, you may find that you approach your business differently.


 

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