More Than WE Know

Women Entrepreneurs sharing Information, Inspiration and Support

Archive for the ‘sales’ Category

WE Celebrate Virtual Women’s Day

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 15, 2007

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Thanks to Heidi Richards at Virtual Woman’s Day for adding MoreThanWeKnow to her list of  “great woman bloggers”. 

Heidi is the Founder & CEO of The WECAI Network™   – an Internet network of organizations that “Helps Women Do Business on and off the WEB.”

She created Virtual Woman’s Day™ to bring together women from around the globe to network together, learn together and grow together. She intends women to do this by encouraging one another to share resources, promote products and services, increase our circle of influence and have some fun in the process.

Heidi arranges a monthly event called 1st Fridayz in which women network over the internet, sharing their products and ideas and listening to great speakers.  September’s topic was on Blogging for Business. It was such a success that they are going to continue the topic and do “Blogging for Business Part Two” on October 5th.

This is a great low-risk networking opportunity.  You don’t have to leave your home, you can participate as little or as much as you want, and you can easily follow up with people via email after the event. If you would like to participate, register for the WECAI network, and more details will be sent to you.    Don’t miss the fun!

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Anita Roddick – Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 14, 2007

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One of the fortunes of being a Woman Entrepreneur in the 21st century is that we get to have role models to inspire us.  A generation before us, women were making things up as they went along with no indication whether or not what they were doing made sense.   As intimidating as that may sound, it had a certain appeal to singular, free-spirited, strong-minded individuals.  And it is to those bold, courageous women that many of us owe our inspiration as entrepreneurs.

One such inspiration for me has always been Anita Roddick, the founder of the Body Shop. Anita was one of the orignators of the idea of doing business to do good.  Ecological principles were a foundation of her business with its philosophy of re-use, re-fill and re-cycle. Later, she expanded her social activisim to include human rights, animal rights and sustainable environmental practices. 

Anita traveled the world to gain inspiration and to give assistance.  She was an author, a speaker, a teacher, and an activist.   She was an example for Women Entrepreneurs everywhere who want to achieve success and help the world to be a better place.

Anita passed away Monday from a brain hemorrhage, at the age of 64.  She lived every day of her life as if each moment counted – daring to do all the things that most of us only dream of.

In recent years, Anita maintained a blog that espoused her personal beliefs and strong opinions as well as represented her sense of fun and enthusiasm. 

Anita was a role model for those of us who continue in her spirit. In her words:

“Join me: I want to connect with people who share my outrage over the menace of global business practices, and who, like me, are seeking solutions. But I also want to tell – and hear, from you – stories that lift our spirits, that celebrate how glorious our planet is. Outrage and celebration – let’s run this gamut together.”

In the spirit of outrage and celebration, I invite you to journey with me as we build our businesses, create success for our families, and work together to make the world a better place.

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales, Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

How Green Can Your Small Business Go?

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 13, 2007

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October 15th is Blog Action Day.  On that day more than 5000 blogs will post on one topic – the environment.   Each blogger will add his or her own unique perspective – political bloggers will post on politics and the environment,  parenting bloggers will post on children and the environment, and small business bloggers will post on (you guessed it) small business and the environment.

On that day, I would like to talk about general ways entrepreneurs can help the environment by running their busineses more efficiently and consciously.  But I would also like to talk about specific women entrepreneurs who are contributing in a positive way by: reducing waste, promoting recycling, cleaning up the environment, educating others, etc.

If you are a woman entrepreneur whose business is environmentally conscious and would like to be profiled on my blog, please comment below or contact me directly by using the reply section on my “about” page.

I look forward to hearing about your efforts to go green!!

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales | 1 Comment »

Financial Freedom is Always in Fashion

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 12, 2007

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I recently met Cinnamon McCann in the new social network My Woman Owned Business.  With my new-found insight into expanding my social network, I quickly recognized Cinnamon’s potential to be a Mind Opener in my life.  

Cinnamon is the founder of Financial Fashion House.  Her business is dedicated to teaching women financial responsibility in a fun way based on “inspiration, laughter, creativity and hope”.  Cinnamon combines the dry and intimidating subject matter of finance, with the fun and frivolity of fashion, enabling her to convey powerful information to Women Entrepreneurs in a non-threatening way.

Her site offers classes, training and articles on topics ranging from economocial methods of starting a business to knowledgeable investments in the future.   Cinnamon’s site has video interviews, a new radio show and even fun t-shirts with slogans like “sexy entrepreneur”.   Her site is creative and fun and filled with valuable information provided in an engaging way. 

Cinnamon is an inspiring Woman Entrepreneur whose business is making a difference in the world. She is definitely a mind opener for me, who will stimulate me to think of new ways to connect with the world.

But don’t just take my word for it – watch one of Cinnamon’s insightful videos to hear one Woman Entrepreneur’s bold journey to financial independence. 

In this video, Cinnamon interviews Dawn Patrick-Wout,  Founder and President of About Interiors. About Interiors is one of the largest women-owned design centers in the Mid-Atlantic Region, specializing in commercial and residential interior design. Dawn has empowering advice for the budding Woman Entrepreneur, including “surround yourself with a great circle of friends who believe in you and will see you through when the times get rough”.

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Eight Roles That Friends Play for Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 10, 2007

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As we’ve been discussing in recent posts, part of the challenge of being an entrepreneur is isolation and loneliness. Much of our work is solitary; Being so focused on (some would say obsessed with) our business and our dreams, can further distance us from those around us.

However, a strong support system  is essential  to our success as entrepreneurs.  Surprisingly, simply having a wide circle of friends, or even one close friend, is not the same as having a strong support system.  According to Tom Rath, there are actually eight distinct support roles that we need in our lives to be our best selves:   

Builder – encourages us to be more and do more

Champion – believes in us; cheers us on; promotes our causes; says good stuff about us behind our backs

Collaborator – shares similar passions, interests, and ambitions with us

Companion – always there for us; friendships that can last a lifetime

Connector – socializer; can introduce us to the right people

Energizer – makes us feel more positive and motivated; fun to be around

Mind opener – broadens our perspective on life; introduces us to new ideas

Navigator – gives us advice; helps us keep moving forward when times get tough 

It would seem ideal, and certainly most time efficient,  to find a single person who could play all of those roles for us.   But many of us make a mistake when we expect our friends or families to be something that they are not. Just because they love us and may be great in one role, does not mean that they have the personality to behave in all of these roles. In fact, Tom Rath says it is a mistake to put that type of burden on any one person.    It is important to have a circle of friends who can fill the various needs we have in our lives.

I have to say that before reading this book, I had not clinically examined my relationships.   I tended to hang out with people who lived or worked near me, who I enjoyed and who made me laugh.

But since reading the book, I realize that the majority of my friendships are with companions, collaborators and energizers.  Left to my own devices, I would probably continue to build more friendships like these.  They are enjoyable and enable me to stay within my comfort zone.

But as an entrepreneur, I need some people in my life who are going to encourage me to grow.

After doing some analysis of my friendships, I realized that I could definitely benefit from more mind openers and connectors.  These people could help me see new possibilities and introduce me to new people.

I could also use some builders and champions.  Building a business can be hard work and it is easy to get discouraged.  Having more people who encourage me to take risks, and believe in me when I am down would help me keep from giving up when things get rough.

I also could use some navigators in my life – these are the people who can see around obstacles and help strategize around challenges.  They could help me create an action plan when I am feeling stuck.

Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m not going to go out and cold-bloodedly cultivate people with these traits or conduct screening interviews at my next networking event.  But I am going to give new consideration to my existing and prospective relationships. 

Instead of disregarding people who have different opinions than I do – I’m going to consider whether they can actually open my mind to new ideas. 

Instead of glossing over compliments as merely polite – I’m going to assume they are heartfelt and sincere and feel good about the way those people makes me feel.

Instead of keeping all my problems to myself and thinking I need to be the “lone ranger” – I am going to seek out advice from others and consider whether I could actually apply it to my situation.

I believe that being consciously aware of the value of these roles in my life, and being open to cultivating them,  will naturally help me to build them.

What type of relationships do you tend to build? What types of relationships could you benefit from? Please share your thoughts – I’d love to hear them.

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Friends are Vital to Small Business Success

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 7, 2007

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How engaged do you feel in your business? 

Do you get up every morning eager to start the day, or do you find yourself looking for ways to postpone the inevitable email, phone calls and paperwork? 

Do you look forward to serving your customers, or feel frustrated that they seem to grow more annoying every day? 

Do you find yourself wondering where the fun has gone?

I’ve been reading Tom Rath’s book Vital Friends which delves into research that indicates that the single most important factor in feeling engaged – is whether or not you have a best friend at work.  

In fact,  research shows that if you have a best friend at work you are significantly more likely to:

  • engage your customers
  • get more done in less time
  • have fun on the job
  • have a safe workplace with fewer accidents
  • innovate and share new ideas
  • feel informed and know that your opinions count
  • have the opportunity to focus on your strengths each day

Rath’s research focused on corporate environments. But it made me wonder about the implications for entrepreneurs, who many times work by themselves. 

Wouldn’t you like to reap these benefits in your own life?

In yesterday’s post we discussed how important it is to have a support system in order to see you through the loneliness and challenges of being in business for yourself. Today’s post demonstrates that a strong support system is necessary in order to give our best to our business, our customers and ourselves.

So, what can solo-entrepreneurs do to obtain the benefits of friendship in the workplace?

One method is to look for creative opportunities to partner with other entrepreneurs in similar professions:

  • collaborate with others on presentations, books, and workshops
  • swap ideas for marketing and advertising
  • create a mastermind group to focus on business development
  • volunteer with others in professional organizations
  • share publicity on community service projects

What other methods do you use to increase your connection to others? How does partnering with others on projects or presentations influence your mood and energy level?  

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Entrepreneurs Don’t have to Be Isolated

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 6, 2007

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One of the recurring themes with my readers and clients is that of loneliness.   Even if they don’t come right out and say the words “I’m lonely”, it is there between the lines.  They tell me that their “friends don’t understand why they don’t get a real job”,  their “mother is worried they can’t support themselves”,  and their “spouse doesn’t take their business seriously”. 

Building a business for yourself can be extremely isolating. There is no one who shares the same vision of the future that you do.  The dream you have for yourself and for your business is fragile.  It takes a lot of energy to keep that dream alive despite your own doubts and fears, let alone those of others.

Successful entrepreneurs are those who find a support system early on. Most are not fortunate enough to have one ready-made; Smart entrepreneurs make it a point to build one, even before they need it.  They know that having others who believe in them can help to keep their dream alive when their vision starts to fade.

Support systems are crucial to success because it is vitally important to have someone who you can share your concerns with and who will listen without judgment.  As Entrepreneurs we all  need a safe place to explore ideas, options, and possibilities.  We need to be able to express our doubts, fears, and worries without the fear that we will be shot down, ridiculed or simply patted on the head. 

Ideally we need someone who sees our strengths even when we no longer do, and reminds us of why we and our business are going to be successful.

So how do you find someone to be all and do all those things in your life?

The first place to look is within your existing circle of friends and family. Is there anyone you could reach out to who meets that criteria?  Don’t feel bad if there isn’t.  Many times family members are too dependent on our success to be objective and supportive  – they are afraid, too.  And while your friends want to help, some will discourage you because they don’t want to see you hurt, while others won’t be able to control their own feelings of envy because you are pursuing something they would like to do.

The next place to look is within the network that you are developing. Remember networking isn’t just about finding prospective customers. Networking helps you find a circle of like-minded people who are on a similar journey.   Sometimes it is easier to share concerns with acquaintances than it is with family members. You are able to express doubts without being as emotional. They are able to listen more objectively.  And if they are also entrepreneurs, they will relate to your experiences. 

Most towns have a chamber of commerce, a rotary club or a women’s business organization such as ABWA, BPW or NAWBO.  If there are no network opportunities in your area, you can also reach out to online networks such as LinkedIn  or My Woman Owned Business network, forums or by writing comments on blogs such as this one.

A third option is a SCORE counselor.  SCORE is a national volunteer service providing free counseling to America’s Small Business from experienced entrepreneurs or professionals.  Many cities have a SCORE office but SCORE also offers online support.  Their support tends to be short-term and topic specific but they can help you to obejectively explore concerns when you have a crisis.

A fourth option is to hire a professional coach.  Coaches combine objectivity with a long-term relationship.  Coaches provide a safe, objective place to explore doubts, fears and options. They listen without judgment and help their clients seek answers. They remind clients of their strengths or point out strengths the clients didn’t even know they had. Coaches also have the advantage of perspective as they see many clients struggle with similar issues. Many coaches are also experienced in aspects of business and can help educate the client about choices without giving advice.

Coaching is most effectiveness when there is a strong relationship between a coach and client. Be sure to find a coach that you connect with. Most offer a complimentary consultation to determine whether there is a good fit.  Coach referrals can be gotten through the ICF, International Coaching Federation.   I occasionally have openings in my own practice, or know of coaches who have openings so feel free to contact me directly as well.

The key is to not remain isolated; businesses that might otherwise be successful can falter due to loneliness and isolation.  Building a business is hard; Being an entrepreneur can be lonely; But you do not have to be alone – there are 19 million entrepreneurs in this country, 10 million of whom are women. 

Reach out. Take a risk. Share yourself.  Don’t give up. Above all, Keep your dream alive.

What support challenges do you have? Who helps you keep your dreams alive? I’d love to hear about it – please comment below or reply to me confidentially on my About page.

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales | 4 Comments »

Work/Life Balance for the Entrepreneur

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 5, 2007

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In yesterday’s post I discussed the challenge of taking a break from working. Entrepreneurs are prone to becoming workaholics, especially when we have found something that fuels our passion.

But I heard back from several of you that your challenge lies in the opposite direction – you have trouble staying motivated.  Sure, you still love the idea of your business, but you tend to avoid some of the less appealing aspects.  Items that are less interesting or downright unsettling keep dropping to the bottom of your to-do list. Before you realize it, it’s been weeks since you balanced your checkbook, sent out a follow-up invoice, made a sales call, or pitched a workshop.

We even find ourselves putting off working on the aspects of the business that we do like. Maybe you love to create new designs or write articles or develop workshops. Even so, we put off these activities because we fear that our end product won’t be “good enough”.  We prefer the vision we have in our mind to the product we create with our hands.

The common theme between both challenges: working too much or working too little is balance; We need to find the right proportion of work in our daily lives.

One way to do this is to put more structure around our enterprises:

  • establish work hours – either specific hours that you work (ex. 8 to 3) or a specific amount of hours (ex. 7 hours per day)
  • establish goals for the week – make a list on Sunday of all the things you will get done the following week and by when 
  • partner with an accountability buddy – check in, in the morning to let them know what you plan to accomplish during the day and then check in, in the evening to let them know whether or not you succeeded

 I know that part of the reason you went into business for yourself is because you wanted the schedule flexibility that comes with it.  But sometimes, we need structure and consistency in order to focus our minds and our actions.  If we think we have all the time in the world to get something done – it may never get done.  Limits drive action; actions drive results.

So, between now and next Monday, decide what you are going to accomplish next week and the hours in which you are going to get it done.  Whether your goal is to get more done or to work fewer hours, establishing an action plan will help.

Once you have an action plan, find an accountability buddy within your network or feel free to use this post. Just write in the comment section what your goals are and when you will achieve them and then let me know at the end of the week how you have done.  I look forward to hearing from you.

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Pain-free Networking for Shy Women Entrepreneurs

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 2, 2007

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I just learned about a great new social networking site exclusively for women business owners and “business owner wannabes”! It’s called MyWomanOwnedBusiness.com. It’s the brainchild of Kimberly Porrazzo, editor of OC Metro magazine. 

The site is great in that it combines the personalizaition and individual creativity of MySpace with the business networking focus of LinkedIn. The site just launched and membership is growing rapidly.

In her site profile, Kimberly explains her motivation for starting the site:   

I attended meetings of the Orange County chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO; http://www.nawbo-oc.org). I couldn’t help but be impressed by the willingness of women to share ideas about business with each other, even in a competitive situation.

I wanted to create a space where women could come together to ask questions of one another in a nonthreatening atmosphere; a place where like-minded women could ask for advice about a business situation or problem, for suggestions on how to grow their business – and, a place to shout out their successes in order to inspire other women. ”

I especially loved the part about “shouting out our successes in order to inspire other women”!  What a great vision of support.

I am particularly excited for readers of MoreThanWEKnow because I think this site will be a great opportunity for low-risk networking for shy and introverted entrepreneurs who are less comfortable with traditional networking venues.  What’s even better is that the site is intended to help both women who already have a business and women who are considering starting one.

Although in its early stages, it appears that there will be a wide geographic distribution as well as a diversity of business ventures.  This will enable all participants to develop a broader, more varied network. 

As we’ve discussed previously, there are approximately 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States. The potential network that Kimberly’s site is tapping into is huge.

So, jump over to her site, take 5 minutes to set up a profile, and don’t forget to invite me as a friend – I’ll be waiting to hear from you!!  

Posted in marketing, motivation, networking, sales, Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Networking Legacy

Posted by Liz Fuller on September 1, 2007

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Yesterday marked the ten year anniversary of the death of Princess Diana.   As many of you remember, Diana was as famous for her shyness as she was for her beauty and grace.  She struggled for years with her feelings of self-consciousness and inadequacy.  It was really only in the final few years of her life that she blossomed into the confident woman that she was.

There is a lesson in Diana’s story for many of us.  In our heads, we play the game of “if only…”  If only I were rich, if only I were beautiful, if only I were famous….then I would be self-confident.  But Diana had all of those things and still struggled with her self-esteem.

It was only as she became more aware of herself and the gifts she brought to the world that she became comfortable in her own skin.  It was only when she realized that her sincere compassion and empathy for others enabled her to touch their hearts, that she grew confident in her interactions.  

In the time following her divorce, Diana realized that she carried her gifts within her, apart from her royal title and trappings.  Despite losing her official place in British royalty, she had gained a permanent position in the world’s hearts as the “People’s Princess.”  Diana used her gift of heart-felt connection to help the world through her involvement with charities and worthwhile causes.  It is impossible to know  how her influence would have grown as she continued to mature into her full sense of her self.

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Like Diana, many of us are unaware of our gifts.  We think we need more credentials, more experience, or more knowledge in order to help others.  But like Diana, we all carry the capacity to influence within us. 

Perhaps our actions won’t touch millions, but we do affect those we come in contact with throughout our days – in our business, in our families and in our communities.  

We do not have to be rich or beautiful or famous to make a difference in the world. We just need to get in touch with our own strengths. We need to share the unique gift of who we are with those who come in contact with us. We need to believe in ourselves and in the difference we can make. 

The next time you go to a networking event in which you feel self-conscious and insecure, consider Diana’s legacy: Believe in who you are; Be willing to share yourself with the world;  Believe that others need what you have to offer; Reach out to touch them with compassion and concern; Give them your best self; Trust that it will be enough. 

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