Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success

Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success (Women TIES)is successfully creating a regional marketplace for women entrepreneurs in Central New York. Women TIES is dedicated to promoting, educating and inspiring women entrepreneurs not only in CNY but nationwide. Women TIES provides a vehicle for the exchange of success strategies through a quarterly publication, weekly emails, seminars, luncheons and online directory.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Clarity and Vision

"On a clear day, I can see forever," are words from an old song that rang through my car this morning. It seemed appropriate on this cool, sunny day with crystal blue skies abounding. As a Central New Yorker you know, not every day is a clear one. As an entrepreneur you know, you must have a clear vision of your business to be successful. But entrepreneurs don't always know what they are doing, how their business is progressing, or what lies ahead. Some days the future of our company is as crystal clear as this beautiful morning, on other days it seems shrouded in midst. How do you feel today about where you are? How clear is your vision for yourself, your business, your future? Today's Women TIES wisdom, on this beautiful crystal clear day, provides suggestions to help you clarify your entrepreneurial vision.

Remember You Are Doing Something That Counts: Women entrepreneurs differ from men in many ways. One way we differ is in the type of businesses we choose to create and the true purpose in creating them. Women are generous, intelligent, giving souls. For the most part, we create businesses that we know will 'help' others. Whether it's a fantastic product or service, many of us had an altruistic reason for starting our business. Although growth, expansion, and income are all desired outcomes for an entrepreneur, women know doing something useful with our lives is really what counts. Remind yourself today how you and your company are truly making a difference in the life of your clients.

Accept Disappointments And Move On: Sometimes we can't accept where we are today because our vision is clouded with mistakes that have occurred that we simply can't get over. Each of us has experienced disappointments with a bad company decision, unfortunate business relationships, and failure to achieve corporate benchmarks. But entrepreneurs are people. People make mistakes. But as smart women we know, you can never go back, only forward. Think about a few business disappointments, realize what has occurred, accept them, and keep moving forward.

Dedicate Yourself To Your Business Again: An entrepreneur must be dedicated to their business to sustain it over time. It doesn't mean the business we envisioned ten years ago, needs to be the same business today. Life changes everything, everyday. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. A company changes as the world we live in changes. To sustain a successful business, entrepreneurs must dedicate themselves to their ever-changing company. Take an hour this week to analyze what has changed in your business for the good and bad. Revise your vision if you have to and dedicate yourself to it.

In entrepreneurial spirit, Tracy Higginbotham

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Strategic Planning Tips

As I sat at an event this morning on strategic planning,the presenter started the program with the following quote:"If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Many women entrepreneurs begin their entrepreneurial careers by creating a strategic plan. Strategic plans are essential to start-up, growing and mature businesses because the plan guides the company in the right direction. Unfortunately too many of us get so busy running our businesses, we forget how essential it is to review our strategic plan. A strategic plan shouldn't sit on a shelf once it is completed like it's a once in a lifetime project. A smart entrepreneur knows a strategic plan is an ever-changing, useful document that must be reviewed several times a year to be effective to the entrepreneur. Today's Women TIES wisdom provides some strategic planning tips for women entrepreneurs.

Review Your Mission Statement Once A Year: Your mission statement
which describes your corporate purpose should be reviewed once a year. As competition comes and goes, as new business opportunities present themselves, and as your business evolves, your mission statement might need to change. Find time during a slow business period, to review and update your mission statement.

Review Financial Projections Every 90 Days: In order to keep a company on track with its financial projections, an entrepreneur should review financials every 90 days. Look at your profit and loss statements and your cash flow tables to see if you are on track. Adjust accordingly if you aren't on schedule. Analyze why you aren't or why you are. Create a 90 day plan so the next time you take a look at your standings you hit your projections.

Create A Value Statement: A value statement should include the five most important values your company stands for. Your management staff or advisory board can define them, and then they should be shared with employees. These values should then be seen and felt by your customers.It's essential that the value statement really represents you and your organization.

In entrepreneurial spirit, Tracy Higginbotham, Women TIES

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Wisdom For The Week

Women have been learning from women all their lives. Whether it was in the kitchen of our grandmother's house, on the playing field with our athletic girlfriends, or in the classroom of female instructors, women have learned alot from other females. This is especially evident in entrepreneurship. Where the corporate environment tends to breed competition and the inability for women to share with each other, the entrepreneurial environment breeds openness and collaboration. Women are supportive, encouraging, and willing to share their knowledge with other women. It's the reason we are succeeding faster than men. Last week when I was in the midst of 500 women in two days, I walked away with more fortitude, strenghten and vision that I have had in a long time because women inspire me. Today's advice is based on three pieces of wisdom I learned from three special women over the past week.

Know your purpose: No matter how hard we try, we will always attract people who are jealous or envious of our endeavors. If you are truly achieve your goals, insecure individuals will try to make you look small so they can look tall. The best think you can do is to: know who you are; know who your true friends are; and have a strong purpose. Your purpose is not defined by what others think of you, it is what you define for yourself.

Support from the old and the new: Women come in and our of our lives. Some stay for the long haul, some for a defined period of time, some for just a day. No matter the length of time, we learn something from every woman we meet. Old friends know our soul and new friends see our current energy. Both are important to sustain us.

Let go and follow your instinct: Sometimes the women in our lives push us to think bigger than we would have if we didn't meet them. Sometimes women alittle bit older than ourselves have the exact wisdom we need to rise above our difficulty. Never stop inviting these women into your life. The wisdom from someone with a few more years of experience can lend the right perspective to our day.

In entrepreneurial spirit, Tracy Higginbotham, Women TIES

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Trade and Bartering Can Increase Sales

To trade, barter, deal means to buy and sell; negotiate, bargain, exchange;
arrange, transact, or create a pact. Recent statistics show The National Trade Association, the largest retail barter company in the world, facilitates more than 50 billion in trade deals annually. Trade and bartering are used
by businesses to save money and foster relationships between companies.
Bartering exists when a business takes their excess products or services
and converts them into assets.Women entrepreneurs should consider
trading, bartering and deal making with other women entrepreneurs in order to
create more profitable and collaborative relationships for their business. Below is Women TIES wisdom on how to trade, barter or make deals with other women entrepreneurs.

Create An Inventory Of Assets - Before you can trade or barter you need to know what you have to offer. Take inventory of your product and analyze excess supplies or products you could trade. Create a list of your services and
analyze time effective services you could barter. Then create a list of services or products your business needs. This gives you the starting point you need to begin to barter, trade or deal.

Create A Partnership List - In order to barter or trade you need to create relationships with like-minded companies or businesses with beneficial products and services. Start by taking a look at the Women TIES directory
and create a list of other women owned businesses you could barter or trade with in 2007. Think of companies within your field. Think of companies with products or services you need.

Make the Connection - Create an introductory letter discussing your intent.
Follow-up with a phone call to investigate further interest from prospective businesses. Meet and discuss benefits of a trade relationship. Put your trade goals in writing. Create a simple agreement and have it signed by both business owners.

In entrepreneurial spirit, Tracy Higginbotham

Customer Service Essentials

During high school I worked at Friendly's as a waitress. It was during that time that I learned the importance of customer service. Our store was in a competition to win a national award as "the best Friendly's in America."
My boss was determined to achieve this honor so stringent customer service policies were announced, practiced and perfected since winning this award was based solely on exceptional customer service. We did in fact win the award and I not only walked away with $200 in free Friendly money, which helped feed me when I was a freshman in College, it also taught me invaluable customer service policies which have served me well as an entrepreneur.

Many business owners are educated in their profession, schooled in the latest technologies, and advanced in networking, but we forget that exceptional customer service is the most important entrepreneurial activity which
keeps us afloat, sets us apart from our competition, and leads us to financial success. Below is Women TIES wisdom on customer service for you and your business.

Deliver On Your Promise and Give More Than What's Expected - A smart business person delivers on their promise of providing the services and products they guaranteed their clients when they made the sale. Are you doing all that you promised? Not only do wise entrepreneurs deliver what is promised,
they go beyond what is expected. Are there ways you can add value to your business by going beyond what is expected for your clients?

Ask Your Clients For their Input - Don't assume because you've had a long-time client that they'll return to your business tomorrow. There is constant advertising, networking, and solicitations occurring every day. The best way to keep your customers happy is to make sure you are giving them what they expect and need. When was the last time you asked your clients this question:
"Is there anything I'm not doing that I could be doing to serve you better?"

Understand Why A Client Leaves - Clients come and go, it's a natural part of business. When you lose a client, do you understand why? As hard as it is to ask the question, it's essential in understanding whether or not you need to improve your customer service policies. When a client leaves make sure you ask why, implement changes based on their reasons, and improve services immediately for your current clients.

In entrepreneurial spirit, Tracy Higginbotham

Testimonials Can Aid in Marketing

As women we are not use to singing our own praises. We can compliment our children, husbands, families, business associates and best friends very easily,
but when it is time to give ourselves and our businesses accolades it is difficult. It's a proven fact that testimonials from valued clients, associates, and vendors
are powerful in aiding corporate sales. Yet testimonials are one of the most underused resource when creating a marketing message. We can talk at lengths about our fantastic corporate services and products, but when someone else provides a valuable testimonial and backs what we are saying it's more believable to the consumer. Here are some Women TIES tips for using testimonials to help your business grow.

Testimonial Basics: A written testimonial should be phrased to showcase a benefit of doing business with your company. A testimonial should have a more specific than general message. An impactful testimonial should cause the reader to want to take action with your company right away.

Where to Use Them: Testimonials can be used in various marketing pieces:
websites, brochures, sales packets, and press kits.Testimonials can be effective when you are trying to close a deal with a major client. A one page testimonial insert can be part of a proposal packet.

Securing Testimonials:
Create a list of your top ten customers, the ones who believe in your business 100%, and set a time to see them over coffee or lunch. Explain to them your interest in using client testimonials in your new marketing strategy and ask them if they'd provide a testimonial. Be prepared to give them some guidance on what type of testimonial you're looking for. End the meeting by providing them with an idea or lead for their business as a small token for their time in helping you.

In entrepreneurial spirit, Tracy Higginbotham

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Expanding Business Horizons

As I drove in earlier than usual to my office this morning,I saw the sun brimming over the horizon.It was beautiful to see the glorious sun appearing in the distance,turning the typically white clouds pink and orange. As I looked at the horizon it reminded me of the horizons women entrepreneurs have in front of them. Vast, glorious and endless.

How long has it been since you looked at the horizon? Have you looked far beyond your typical business horizon and found opportunities outside of your geographic area? Have you taken the time to meet other women entrepreneurs living in your region? Have you taken advantage of business possibilities that lie in close proximity to where you operate? Today we provide you with advice on glancing towards a new business horizon where unlimited potential and revenue lie.

Attend Regional Events: Women TIES mission is to create a regional marketplace for women entrepreneurs.
We are spreading the news,connecting with more women from all over CNY every day, so we can do more business together.Have you expanded your horizons lately and meet anyone new? If not, commit to attending a regional business event this Fall. Sign up for one. Meet and network with other women. Promote yourself and your business. Decide to do business with a regional women entrepreneur this month.

Bigger Market in Smaller Locales: Have you researched doing business in a neighboring city lately? Maybe your research would uncover a need for your particular service or product in another location. Challenge yourself this week to research two regional cities
where your business could benefit. Attend a chamber event there. Join one of their local organizations.
Do a trade show in the area. Reach out and revenue might follow.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Importance of Documentation When Dealing With Staff

At this week's Women TIES Success Seminar, a local female attorney provided valuable insight on how a business can protect itself from potential legal pitfalls in hiring, firing and maintaining employees. It was an insightful seminar which stressed the importance of documentation when dealing with staff. Today we'll share some tips we learned at this week's presentation.

Create and Maintain Employee Files: No matter the size of your business, or the number of employees you have, create and maintain a personnel file for each staff member. The file should hold their official, signed employment letter, performance reviews, and documentation on tardiness, unexcused absences or disciplinary issues. The file should also track compensation and benefits. Maintain these files for at least three years after an employee leaves.

Have a Written Nondiscrimination Policy: To minimize the potential for being sued on discrimination issues, every company should have a written nondiscrimination policy. The top four discrimination areas are: health, age, sex, and pregnancy. The first day of employment review the policy with the new staff member and have them read and sign the policy. Keep a copy of the signed paperwork in their employee folder.

Consider Having an Employee Handbook: An employee handbook can be helpful if you stick to the policies outlined in it. If you aren't going to follow the procedures and policies in your corporate handbook - don't have one. If you want an employee handbook but don't know how to write it, consider hiring a Human Resource company to write it for you. Once it is completed, it is typically sent to an attorney for review before giving it to you to implement.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Push Past Fear

Five years ago on 9/11 fear infiltrated our lives.
Our security was shaken,our world was altered,our perspective changed. We understood what we lost,how our lives were effected and how life goes on even when the worst of times are upon us. As women entrepreneurs we've felt fear before. We felt scared to start our businesses - afraid we might fail. We were nervous about financial challenges, uncertain on how we would grow our companies, and worried about really making it. But we survived. We conquered fear. We moved in it, through it, beyond it. Today’s advice focuses on taking new risks to grow our business.

Do Something You Have Been Afraid To Do:
What have you been afraid to do recently that might make a big difference in your business? Have you wanted to schedule an appointment with a business woman you’ve admired from afar? Have you avoided calling a CEO of a company you want to do business with? Are you afraid to seek financing from new sources? You know what you’ve been afraid to do. Consider today's message the catalyst you need to pick up the phone and do it. It might be the best thing you’ve done for your business this year.

Step Into A New Market:
Most established businesses have conquered a portion of the market. But what about the other parts of the marketing ‘pie’ you haven’t targeted yet? Is it time to take some risks to see if you can reap financial rewards by marketing to a different audience?

Network with People You’ve Never Met Before:
Most of us are comfortable in organizations and networks of people we know well. It’s much harder to meet new people and start all over. But you never know who you’ll meet, what you’ll learn, or how the encounter could change the course of your business.
Pick one organization you’ve always wanted to learn more about and go to one meeting or event this month.