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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

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Win Customers With Your Blog

Your blog can be a valuable tool in engaging your customers, but it takes time to develop and maintain…

tips for a successful blog

If you are using a blog as a marketing strategy, you want to make sure that you are using it effectively. Here are some tips that will help you create a blog that actually brings customers through your door.

Content is key.

People are going to visit and revisit your blog because of its content.  If you post information that is useful and relevant to their lives, readers will flock to your blog.  Get to know your target audience and try to determine what motivates them.  Remember, you should be educating and entertaining at least 70% of the time and promoting your business no more than 30% of the time.

Be strategic.

You need to be clear with yourself about what you are trying to achieve with your blog.  Are you building your brand?  Are you engaging your customers?  Are you establishing expertise?  While these goals may all sound good to you, your social media strategy will be more effective if you zero in on one or two goals at a time and have a clear plan for how each post will contribute to it.


Social media is supposed to be about people, so make it human.  Respond to comments and comment on other blogs.  Post pictures and allow your readers to see the person behind the voice in the blog.

Be consistent.

As you begin to build a following, readers will start to anticipate your next blog.  If you have a regular schedule for posting, you make your blog a lot more reader friendly.  You can post every day, every other day, or on set days of the week.  The key is to be consistent with it so that your readers know what to expect.

Make it attractive.

Blogs succeed or fail based on the way that they look.  If a blog is not visually appealing, most people will just click past it.  Allow for enough white space and include pictures in your blog.  Blogs with photos tend to get a lot more hits than those without them.  If you’re not sure about how your blog looks, solicit feedback from people in your network. Continue reading Win Customers With Your Blog

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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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Announcing Elaine Tan Comeau as Mompreneurs® Ambassador: Coquitlam, BC

Elaine Tan Comeau, Mompreneurs® Ambassador, Coquitlam BC

We are excited to announce our first official Mompreneurs® Brand Ambassador, and who better to welcome than our 2014 Mompreneur® Award of Excellence winner ELAINE TAN COMEAU of Coquitlam, BC!

Elaine will be helping us welcome members and supporters from British Columbia, and we hope to one day soon bring an event to the area to further help our network of women in business!


About Elaine

Elaine Tan Comeau is an enterprising mother of three young children, a wife, and a former elementary school teacher who is the founder and CEO of the multiple award-winning Easy Daysies, a visual magnetic scheduler to help children and families with their daily routines. Elaine was awarded the 2014 Canadian Mompreneur of the Year and has received the Chamber of Commerce Award for Excellence in Business, as well as an Award in Teaching Excellence.  Her products are recommended by child psychologists, occupational therapists and educators.  Easy Daysies was named one of Dragons’ Den favorite deals by Mr. Wonderful Kevin O’Leary and was chosen by Ford Company as one the 2014 Dragons’ Den Driven For Success Companies that exemplified Ford’s Four Pillars of Success.

Elaine has been featured in the Financial Post, Maclean’s Magazine, Canadian Business Magazine, Huffington Post, to name a few, all wanting to know her story about being a mom entrepreneur. Her products have been featured on CBC, CTV, ABC, Breakfast Television, FOX32 News, KCAL-TV , WPIX, WISH-TV, XETV.  Elaine has been published in Educational Psychology (Allyn & Bacon Canada, 2000, and Pearson, 2015 IV ed.) for her insight on teaching diversity. She has written and published several e-books (2013), and she continues to be sought after for her sell-out webinars and speaking engagements on educational strategies for both educators and parents.  Elaine is a frequent speaker on educational topics, entrepreneurship, and continues to be a guest blogger for Staples Canada, Scholars Choice, Mompreneurs® and Creative Teaching Press (USA). Elaine is also raved about in both Kevin O’Leary’s and Jim Treliving’s latest books.


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Where It All Began: 4 Years of Incredible Moments

Today marks 4 amazing years since the very first “Mompreneur Showcase” in Milton, on October 16, 2010 – where have 4 years gone?! In true celebration style during our 4th Anniversary Party, we reminisced while looking at old photos, we laughed, we cried, and we indulged in some pretty amazing dessert in the process!

Many have asked how this whole ‘Mompreneur thing’ began – truly, I call it a journey, and one that I am so proud and fortunate to have been on for 4 years now. Here’s how it all began, and how this crazy journey has led Milton Mompreneurs and our entire Mompreneur network to where we are today:


July 2010: We’d just moved into our new house; the kids were 2 and 3.5 years old, and we were just starting our summer holidays. On our second day in new surroundings, I turned to my husband David and asked him what he thought of an idea I had: to put together a group for women who were in business but who were also mothers. His response: “what’s the worst that could happen?!”. So I put the word out via an online mom’s forum: any women who were moms and also business owners were invited to meet at Starbucks and chat about business casually over a grande latte. 12 women came out to that first event, and it was the start of something new and exciting and full of prospect.

October 16, 2010: Word began to spread of  our group – the “Milton Mompreneurs”.  The women who were initially taking part in our networking chats expressed an interest in showcasing their products and services – and so was born the first “Milton Mompreneur Showcase”. It was a whirlwind of activity and women and community members – 40 exhibitors, 400 visitors, and amazing excitement all around. For many of the women who exhibited that day, it was the first time they had told the world that they ran a business, and they first time they took part in exhibiting to the public!

February 2011: Milton Mompreneurs connected with another local women’s networking group called Milton Area Female Entrepreneurs (MAFE), organized by Sandy Hatzis. The thought was that by putting our two groups together for networking events, we would be covering all our bases: women in business and women in business who are mothers! On a random Monday morning in February, we had 80 women attend our first joint meetup, and the energy was incredible. Both Sandy and I knew that we were onto something pretty amazing!  In that same month, on February 14th to be exact, I filed incorporation papers for what is now our “Mompreneur HQ” – Mompreneur Showcase Group Inc. Though it was initially my ‘5 year plan’ to open up other Mompreneur chapters, so many women were approaching me and asking how they too could start a group in their community – so I made it happen! It was a learning curve for sure, but in the end, by the end of February, we had 3 new Mompreneur chapters in other communities around the GTA.

April 2011: The 2nd Annual Milton Mompreneur Showcase took place – we upgraded to an Arena floor, went from 40 exhibitors to 120 exhibitors, and went from 400 visitors to just over 1,000 visitors. In just 6 months time, things were really picking up speed! Over the next year, we continued to host monthly events in the Milton community, while also opening new Mompreneur chapters and continuing to develop the Mompreneur brand and business platform.

September 2012: Another big stepping stone came into play, via the purchase of the Canadian trademarked word “mompreneur” – this now positioned our ‘little’ Mompreneur company as THE Mompreneur company for all of Canada! By the end of 2012, we had developed 15 Mompreneur chapters in various communities, all formed using the same model of our very first group in Milton.

March 2013: In 2013 we hosted the “Mompreneurs Conference” with CityLine‘s Tracey Moore, a national event that welcomed 200 business women from across Canada! At this event, we crowned our first winner of the “Mompreneur Award of Excellence” – a $30,000 prize awarded to one talented mom in business. I was also honoured in Milton by being named “Entrepreneur of the Year” through the Milton Chamber of Commerce – an honour that I continue to hold near and dear to my heart!

March 2014: The 2014 Mompreneurs Conference took place, with keynote speaker Arlene Dickinson of Dragon’s Den. To say that this accomplishment was huge for me is an understatement, as Arlene is, in my books (and the books of most women in business!), the quintessential “mompreneur” – it was a weekend that I truly will never forget.

That Brings Us to TODAY: Over the last 4 years, so much has been accomplished since that very first meeting at Starbucks, and that very first “Mompreneur Showcase” in the little banquet room of our local sports centre. As a collective community between the whole Mompreneur Organization, here is a look at our ‘numbers’:

  • We now have 18 active Mompreneur Chapters, all supporting business women in their unique communities
  • Our collective online community consists of over 14,000 amazing women in business across the country
  • Social media is HUGE for us, with over 40,000 collective followers on Twitter, and over 33,000 fans collectively on Facebook
  • There have been over 500 hosted “Mompreneur” events, both online and in-person, since 2010.
  • Collectively, Mompreneurs and its chapters have raised close to $100,000 in charitable donations for our communities
  • Milton Mompreneurs has raised over $30,000 through various events both independent and partnered, funding of which has stayed in full within the Milton community. We have been proud to support organizations such as Halton Women’s Place, Milton United Way, and The Sunta Caruana Music Scholarship Fund.



To the early supporters: David, Emily, Patsy, Mom, Kristi and Jonathan Budworth, Kyla Holt, Sheri Medina, Andrea Sadgrove, Lena White, Anna Maria Di Nicolantonio, Tammy Fitzgerald, Adina Ingram, Ilona Di Caro, Patricia Curto, Natasha Pearcy, Piri Darabont

To our collaborators:  Sandy Hatzis – MAFE,  Sam Kassam Macfie – Milton Momstown, Piri Darabont – Intact Marketing, Bridget & Shawn Saulnier – The Mohawk Inn, and the team at HalTech

To our consistent supporters of Milton Mompreneurs:

Bridget & Shawn Sauliner – The Mohawk Inn

Hedi Nowak – Harrop Restaurant & Gallery Upstairs

Theresa Brereton – Theresa Brereton Photography

Amy Leask – Enable Training

Deborah Hilton – Health Matters Home Care

Allycia Uccello – Art Camp

Julie & Shawn Creighton – Academy of Martial Arts

Michelle Hawco – The House Mom

Angie Wagenaar – Isagenix

Carolina Rey – Toys Trunk

The Lizzi Family – La Rose Bakery

The Town of Milton, Mayor Gord Krantz

Athena & David O’Connell – BANG! Creative Communications

Grace Moores, Jennifer Williamson, Suzanne Culley, Pat Cluett

Nicole Horn – Old Europe Duvet Co.

Dean & Allison De Fazio – SNAP’D Milton

The Teams at Milton Canadian Champion, Hawthorne Villager, and Discover Milton


Truly, I would not be the person I am today, as a mother or as an entrepreneur, if it wasn’t for the incredible support and network of powerful women I have been blessed to surround myself with – for everyone who has supported Mompreneurs past and present, and for those who continue to support us in future, I truly appreciate all that you have brought into my life. The many many ways in which you have shaped our group has changed the lives of many women across this country, and I’m not sure I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude.

While some businesses have come and gone over the last 4 years, others have flourished and taken off just the same. I have seen members go through so many life-moments: pregnancies, weddings, divorces, first-days of school, going ‘back to work” – through it all, I have found that the support we are able to give each other, no matter which life-moment we happen to be in at any particular time, THAT is what drives us all to success.

Here’s to many more years to come – truly, thank you to everyone!

xo Maria