Tisha Tracy, founder of the inaugural Ottawa Home Business Showcase — the first of its kind in the region — recently asked me to provide a few tips for small business owners. Being a part of this Showcase is such an honour for me. On September 10th, I urge you to come out, support local businesses, and learn about outstanding services, products, and highly talented entrepreneurs in the Ottawa community! I believe cultivation and collaboration is integral to our success as home business owners.
At Uplift! Consulting, I have the good fortune of working with many outstanding professionals. I provide advice, guidance, and a whole lot of inspiration to help business owners fuel mindful positive growth. Many entrepreneurs that I work with tend to be in transition and are looking for ways to create focus and clarity to better manage and grow their business.
A lot of the work we do begins with YOU! Being a business owner is challenging, overwhelming, and daunting at the best of times In fact, it can be a whole lot like a roller coaster ride. To add to this, home-based businesses have their own set of unique challenges. Basically, we need all of the support we can get! I would like to acknowledge that it takes a lot of courage to do what it is you’re doing — Congratulations Passionate Entrepreneurs!
The first thing I explore with my clients at Uplift is ‘Getting Grounded’. What do I mean by this? I use this analogy to explain: it’s like building a strong foundation for a house. We, too, need a solid foundation to truly flourish.
For small business owners, we’re it! This means we need a rock-solid foundation to support ourselves. It’s imperative to our success that we maintain our energy to not only manage business effectively and efficiently but at the same time be fully satisfied with what it is we are doing. After all, that’s the great stuff that fuels our passion.
Questions to ponder: What am I doing throughout the day that feeds my energy? What takes away my energy? What is the quality of my thoughts — are they positive and fueling great intentions for business growth and development? Am I getting enough rest and restorative time or am I lost in “I-have-to”?
- The more we quiet our minds, the less likely we are to repeat the same mistakes or ideas. Throughout the day, consciously find your breath and take several deep inhales and exhales or find a quiet space where you can sit in a comfortable position — try meditation. If you’re new to the practice, check out Sharon Salzberg’s new book, Real Happiness. I find her work to be exceptionally grounding.
- Fuel your body with good nutrition and remember to get outside during the day and move your body. Continue to watch and take stalk of the quality of your thoughts.
Fueling Mindful Positive Growth
Throughout our time together, my clients and I work hand in hand on fundamental elements that help fuel mindful positive growth. Here’s a glimpse:
Get to know yourself really well. Research shows that the better you know yourself, the more successful you will be. As Arlene Dickinson says, “money won’t make you happy, but knowing yourself will.”
We always have choices. Before jumping into the next great thing or the “I-have-got-to-do-this-now” tailspin, think about this: are your short-term actions supporting and feeding your longer-term goals and objectives. By simplifying things, and getting clear about who you are and what’s important in life and your business, you can accomplish much more.
Collaborate and stay connected with like-minded and inspirational people — i.e. find your tribe. This also is an opportunity to give back and help others. Practice good karmaJ
“Connection – brings purpose and meaning into our lives – it’s neurologically how we are wired and why we are here.” Brené Brown.
- Take stock of your personal as well as your business strengths and weaknesses. Begin to build a network that will help fill in the weak spots.
- Join a networking group that is in line with your values or create your own group.
- If you are home-based, leave the house and don’t isolate yourself!
- Set your intentions — both personal and business. Intention setting is a very powerful tool and a highly effective exercise.
- Put pen to paper — start a journal. The Artist’s Way is a great introduction to journalling and finding a sense of peace.
- What is the ‘Why’ of your business? What is its greater purpose? More than ever before, consumers are connecting to products and services where there is connection to ‘like-mindedness/similar values’. Bridgehead would be a great example of this style of ‘best practice’.
- As a small business owner, it is critical that you find your niche and identify what makes you stand out from the crowd.
Growth and Development – Working On the Business
One of the biggest challenges for small business owners is the balance of time spent ‘working on’ the business vs. ‘working in’ the business. As a one-person shop, it’s easy to get caught up in delivery and working in the business, wearing the multiple hats required to survive. To sustain the business for the long haul, it’s imperative to shift to working a percentage of your time ‘on the business’. The greater amount of energy you spend working on key elements of your business, the more growth and development you will realize.
Many small business owners get started but don’t necessarily have the ‘roadmap’ or the tools and support to get from point a to point b. But if you do, well done!
It’s important to have a plan. Here are a few questions to answer before you begin to build your business plan. What’s your vision? Your purpose? What are your values? What is it you are hoping to achieve? Describe your business and define your market(s). Identify what makes you unique. What gap or need are you filling in the market? Why should consumers purchase from you? Have you highlighted selling features and consumer benefits and does your message resonate? What are the trends in the industry? What are your competitors doing and, more importantly, what is it that they are not doing? This is an opportunity to fill a need or a gap! For other tips on writing a business plan check out: Pen to Paper.
- Build your team — enlist resources that compliment and capitalize on your strengths (accountant, lawyer, business consultant, etc.) Stick with what it is you do well and the things you love to do (strengths and passion) as this will keep you motivated.
- Focus on building quality relationships and strategic partners to help drive new business.
- Be sure your customers are able to find you — are you well represented where your target market buys? Is your marketing message communicating what it needs to do?
- Get creative with marketing — one the best and most inexpensive ways is online, through effective and targeted social media.
- With limited to zero available marketing dollars, be strategic with your time. Consider a certain percentage of time spent pro bono — it most often times leads to new business.
- Be an ambassador (and get others on board to do the same) to communicate your business values. Ensure you have a well-positioned ‘pitch’ that really radiates your business.
A few elements to ponder as you begin to grow and further develop your business and the work that you love to do.
Stay Inspired and continue to shine!
“Every moment of your life is infinitely creative and the
universe is endlessly bountiful. Just put forth a clear enough request,
and everything your heart desires must come to you.”
Thank you to Tisha Tracy for the inspiration. I hope you come out to the Ottawa Home Business Showcase. I’d love to see you there!
*Sept 10 photo- Smashing Magazine
Special thanks to Sunrise Editing