Work from home Christmas party!

Christmas Tree

If you work from home, you may be watching with envy as your friends go off to staff Christmas parties while you’re sitting in sweatpants watching television. Before you reach for another handful of potato chips and begin another season of Gilmore Girls, why not consider organizing your own Christmas party?

Look for networking groups in your area, if you don’t already belong to some — Facebook is filled with them. Join a few that seem to fit with your industry then send an email or make a post, asking if anyone would like to get together for dinner or drinks.

Try and choose a restaurant that seems to work for everyone. Self-employed people often aren’t rolling in dough, so stick with a range of menu choices. Once you’ve finalized the guest list and made the reservation, trade the sweats for a nice dress or suit and get ready to have some fun! And don’t forget your business cards, just in case — parties can still be an opportunity to network!

Merry Christmas everyone!!

Parenting as a Business Owner – Jill Setah

The third interview in our Parenting as a Business Owner series is with Jill Setah, owner and creative genius behind First Nations Fashion by Jill Setah. I convinced her to put her needle and thread down for a few minutes so we could chat about life as a mother and designer.

Q: How long have you been a designer?

I started designing traditional cultural wear for my children about 12 years ago. After a few years, community members started asking me to design for them. This is when my husband taught me how to use our sewing machine, as up until then I had been sewing everything by hand.

While working at the Friendship Centre in October 2010, I decided to take a fashion design program and the rest is history!

Q: What challenges did you face when you first started designing?

The two biggest challenges were learning to use our sewing machine and having the time to actually make the patterns, cut the fabric, and sew!

Q: Tell me about Paris!

When I first started designing, I was determined to make it to Paris. So, I decided to Google “Paris fashion shows” which is where I found the runway director’s email address and sent him a message!

The garments I’ll be showing on September 30 in Paris will be First Nations inspired, with different patterns and colours. This particular show that I’m involved in will be for industry professionals only, so this is an incredible opportunity for me!

Q: How many children do you have? 

I have 4 children of my own. 8 months ago I took my sister’s 3 children in as well. IN total, all the children range in age from 3 – 19. Having a house full certainly makes it challenging to design and sew, but when you have a dream, you find a way!

 

Q: What was your reason for getting into design – your “why”?

My reason for designing, to start with, was to provide culturally inspired garments for pow wows for my family, which then became designing for the community.  

Q: What advice would you give to somebody who wants to be a designer?

It’s a long road – definitely not easy.  You have to work your butt off and you don’t always get paid for your time. Prepare not to be instantly rich. But if you’re determined, you’ll find a way! 

 

For more information about Jill Setah and First Nations Fashion, please visit her blog and like her on Facebook!

Parenting as a Business Owner – Music and Movement for Children – Crystal Doughty

Our second interview in our “Parenting as a Business Owner” series is Crystal Doughty. Crystal is the owner of Music and Movement for Children, where she teaches Early Childhood Music classes.

How long have you been in business?

I’ve been teaching these classes for 6 years, and been owner of the business for 2 years. The previous owner, Jan Harvey, had been running the program for 35 years. I had been working with her for a few years, leading the baby and toddler classes, so when she was ready to retire, it seemed the right time to take over the business.

What programs do you offer?

I have various classes, beginning from age 6 months – 5 years. I also have a business partner who teaches an after school class that ranges in age from 5 – 7 years. I run 3 – 4 terms a year, with each term lasting 10 – 14 weeks. The classes are 45 minute long, with some being parent participation and some not. The 3 – 4-year-olds have the option to come on their own. They even have a little music workbook that they work through.

I’ve thought about offering piano for the preschool age, but I feel like at that age, their brains and fingers are just not connected enough. I find that teaching basic music concepts at an early age works much better – bringing music from the inside out. Things like rhythms, melodic echoing, and simple concepts like music going up and coming down – all these things will benefit a young child if they do go on to learn an instrument.

You were saying you have a partner?

Yes, Danielle Thompson (Miss Dani). She has been teaching an after school program one day a week for students in Kindergarten to Grade Two. It’s ideal for children who perhaps aren’t ready for piano lessons or they just want to keep going with the group style class.

Do you have a studio?

Yes! It’s on Bernard Avenue, right beside Starbright. It’s a nice big room with lots of storage for all the instruments I buy, which is one of my weaknesses. I have a waiting room for parents if they want to stay close by while their children are in a class.

When you first took over for Jan, what sort of challenges did you face?

There weren’t too many big challenges, as the program was already kind of a well oiled machine. I had already been working with Jan and because we have very similar music philosophies, it was a nice easy transition. One of the challenges I found was that I wasn’t Jan Harvey. People had known Jan for 30 years, so there were a handful that chose to move on. However, 90% of the parents have continued on with me, because they love our program.

What has been some big successes that you’ve had, since you’ve taken over?

I’ve had many successes, but my top three would have to be:

  1. Several parents have brought their children into the program, telling me how shy their children are. I tell them to just come and try and class, as there is never a moment where a child is forced to participate. Children take in information in all different kinds of ways, so if they want to sit at the side of the class and watch, it’s all good. These students, by the middle to end of the term, are fully participating in the class. They’re laughing, singing, and enjoying themselves. It’s amazing to see that transformation. And to see the parents say “I never thought my child would be able to participate in something, because they’re just so shy”. Seeing music bring that out in them is very cool.
  2. Another thing success has been the family classes. Seeing siblings make music together, where a 6 month old and their 4 year old sibling can make music together, watching the bonding between the siblings is magical.
  3. I started making videos last year, which I post on Youtube for parents and children to watch. What I used to do is send the music home with the parents, as there’s only so much you can remember in 45 minutes a week. I would hand out a sheet with the words to a song that we sang, and by the end of the year, I was looking at this stack of paper every week thinking “how many trees am I killing?”.

So I set up a Youtube channel and my families seem to love it. Parents can let their children watch tv, guilt free, and go make dinner. The children love it because they can sing along and they recognize me. This has changed the participation in class because the children know the songs better, so they’re more likely to participate.

Do you have children?

Yes, I have two boys, they are 7 and 10.

And you’ve been teaching throughout their childhood?

Yes. My youngest was 1 when I started teaching the classes. However, I’ve been teaching private piano lessons for 18 years, currently at the Kelowna Community Music School, as well as one day a week at the studio. When the boys were younger, teaching piano was awesome because I could spend the day with them and by 3 o’clock I was ready to leave the house and teach after school, from 3 – 8. This is when my boys would have dad time. Now that they’re in school, I knew that teaching from 3 – 8 each day wouldn’t work, as I wouldn’t even know what my kids looked like by the end of the week.

Do your kids think of you as a teacher, a business owner, or both?

When they’re asked what mom does, they say I’m a music teacher. I test everything out on them. When they were 4 and 5, I would have them try a song with me and give me feedback. They gave me the best ideas, because they know. They were my guinea pigs.

Do they see your classroom?

They have, but I try to keep it as separate as possible. Occasionally, if childcare doesn’t work out, then my kids come with me and become my helpers. They hand out the instruments, etc. My oldest especially loves helping, and calls the children “little ones”. It’s not a regular thing, but they know what happens in music class. And they both also went through Jan’s program, before I started working with her so I got to see it from a parent’s perspective, as well as from a teacher’s perspective. They loved the program and Jan so much.

Was there a reason you wanted to take on the business?

The timing was perfect. I knew that Jan was the best in the business and had a huge following. I also knew it was what I wanted to do – it’s my passion. All of those things put together just meant that if I had to suck up the admin part, then I would. I would rather just show up and teach, but admin is part of owning a business. Thankfully, the love of teaching far outweighs all the other things.

What advice would you give to somebody who has the opportunity to take over a business or start a business?

Jump in with both feet. If you’re one of the lucky people who find what they are passionate about, that’s what you have to do. There are so many people out there who go into their job everyday and hate what they do. Whether you’re a parent or not, life is too short. So if you find what you love and you can make money at it, that’s win win. Make it work. I know a lot of parents out there battle with the balance between home and work, but if your children see you doing what you love and following your passion then that is motivating for them. Even if it’s a few less hours spent at home a week or a day or whatever it happens to be. If they see that in you that’s inspiring to them.

Anything else you want to add?

Our classes are filling up fast, so if you’re thinking about registering your child, do so soon! The Monday morning family classes are full, but there’s some room in all the other classes.

 

What is your Digital Legacy?

 

We all will leave a legacy behind – something that was unique to us. Did you know you will also likely leave a Digital Legacy? This type of legacy includes your social media posts, any past and present email messages you may have written or received, digital photos you may have taken, any blogs or websites you’ve started, as well as valuable loyalty reward points you may have accumulated.

Some social media sites offer a solution for those of us wanting to plan ahead for our inevitable demise. Facebook, for instance, offers its users the opportunity to create a Legacy Contact. I discovered this when my younger brother recently passed away. He was under 40 and had an active Facebook account. After his passing, I attempted to memorialize his account, but was unable to. Had he created a Legacy Contact (whether appointing me or someone else), his account could have been become memorialized.

Other social media sites, such as Instagram and Twitter, as well as email service providers, such as Hotmail, Google, etc, allow a relative to close the departed loved one’s account. Typically, a death certificate is required, as well as specific information about the person wishing to close the account.

If you have a blog or other electronic content that you would like future generations to see, consider creating a document that includes all passwords, usernames, web addresses, as well as your wishes regarding your content. Keep a hard copy of this document with all other important papers (will, healthcare proxy, etc).

If you have specific questions regarding your Digital Legacy, contact a trusted legal representative, especially if you feel the cyber information you’re leaving behind is complex and valuable to those not related to you. And be sure to appoint a trusted friend or loved one to be your Legacy Contact if you have a Facebook account.

 

 

Parenting as a Business Owner – Dogma Pet Services

Our first interview in our new “Parenting as a Business Owner” series is Tricia Jacoby. She is the founder and sole proprietor of Dogma Pet Services.

 

Q: How long have you been in business?

I have been working at Dogma Pet Services for 12 years; 9 years at 1880 Crosby Road, in Kelowna.

Q: What challenges did you face when you first opened?

My first challenge was getting my head screwed on tight. My second challenge that I really had from the get go was convincing those around me, those I was living with, that the space that I had was worthy of the business I was wanting. I had to make all sorts of reasons and validate why this had to be done this way, and that had to be done that way, so it was really about establishing a true sense of self, was the biggest challenge.

 

Where I was going to take this company within this market and industry was the first challenge. I wanted to be different, I didn’t want to be a cookie cutter. So I had to really think about what it meant to be outside of the box, and to really do things differently than everybody else in this industry. That was a big deal for me.

I also started Dogma when I was thinking of moving on in my relationship, and then I got pregnant, and became a mom, and evolution took over and I had to make decisions not based on what I would want, but what I thought was best for not just my family, my child, my future, and I had two children now. I had my children and I had the business. And they’re both very demanding children.

 

Q: How long had you been married before you started your business?

I was married in the summer of 2009, while pregnant, and had started the business in October of 2008, so you can imagine the back to back. Much of the concept of the business was constructed in September of 2008. I really wanted to be a stay at home mom, and originally thought of the business as being a stay at home mom position, with my husband looking after the finances. But then I got pregnant, and things weren’t so simple after that.

 

But when I started dealing with the business, it was really to become independent so should anything happen to my husband, I didn’t want to feel like I was dependent on anything. That was my motivation for having the business, but for continuing, especially when I was 6 months pregnant and leaning over a tub, the last thing I wanted to do was wash dogs. I didn’t want to go on, but I thought this is what I need to do to secure a future, and that’s what I did. The biggest challenge was trying to break the mold.

Q: What successes have you had in your business?

One of the things, the biggest success has nothing to do with my business, it has to do with me, and the fact that this taught me that YES, I CAN! There is no, “oh, I can take a sick day”, there is no “oh, I don’t feel like it”, YES I CAN is the only answer I had for every obstacle that came after Morgan while I was working. Yes I can, because I have to, there are no options, you have point a, point b, to point c, and you just keep moving forward. My biggest success was in learning about myself and the fact that I can do it.

With how far I’ve come, I know that I can go further. The second biggest success is the people I’ve met along this journey of entrepreneurship. Positive numbers coming at me, from people who are supporting me. That’s my second biggest success, to know that my company is being validated in more than just the financial but that it’s being bolstered up by people that want to see me succeed.

 

Q: Your daughter has been raised with a mom as a business owner. Have you noticed that she is affected by that in any way?

One of the biggest differences that I have noticed with her is she has become more independentand far more attuned to other people. She wants to help, she’s become more involved and far more sympathetic to other people’s issues than I think the average kid who doesn’t necessarily know what mom or dad does on a daily basis. The fact that she she sees how hard I work makes her want to work just as hard.

And when she asks what can I do during the day, especially in the summer time, you have to ask of them to be more tolerant. She’s been incredibly sympathetic, she knows that I am guilty for working so hard. And she’s proud, I see this drive when she talks about…she was asked by one of her teachers what she’d like to do when she gets older, and she said she’d like to be like mom.

Q: What was your reason for starting your business – your “why”?

Dogma had kind of been a dream of mine for a while, I didn’t want to work for somebody else, I knew I could do it better, with more compassion, and I wanted it, I had so many ideas, I knew I could do better. I ultimately, you think when you go through life that you’re stumbling along and you just pick up what’s most convenient. I truly believe this is my purpose.

Every time I try to veer away from animals, I keep coming back in some respect. This is beyond just logic. It’s beyond what can make me money, it transcends any of that. When I started doing it, I knew I was meant to be doing it. And it’s made my life complete.

Q: What advice would you give to somebody who is a mom, dad, or not even necessarily a parent, but somebody that says I’m sick of working for somebody else, I have a great idea and I want to start a business.

Do your market research. Make sure not only that you want to do it, but it’s an industry that you can be successful at and that you can start seeing results quickly. Nothing motivates people faster than seeing results. So anything that’s going to get you some level of results that you’re looking for, great, keep going, don’t stop, don’t let anybody tell you what you can or cannot do. Especially when you become a parent, they’re going to say your first priority is to be a parent, your first priority is to yourself.

Don’t give yourself nothing – you’ll get burned out. Don’t lose yourself when you’re a parent or struggling to be this entrepreneur. Be all of it, but don’t lose yourself in it. Always have a back door. It doesn’t mean that you’re not committed, you need to be smart. If you go balls to the wall and it doesn’t work out, some businesses don’t work out, if it doesn’t work out have a back door. Don’t commit 100%. I never committed 100% because I knew there was a fraction that needed my attention should something fail. I’m a parent, if I was single, with no children or other people I was needing to look after, sure, my business would be my everything. Spread it out but don’t spread it too thin.

 

From Resolution to Reinvention

Reinvention

Rather than making a resolution, create a reinvention. I spoke with a friend recently who mentioned she was in a period of reinvention. I will share her quote:

“I realized that I was having so much trouble moving forward because I had no idea what it was that I wanted to move towards”

Not having a specific goal in mind blocks our opportunity to take steps toward achieving success. If we don’t know where we’re going, how will we know when we arrive? I have always believed I would be a writer, even as a young child. I briefly put aside that belief and focused on a ‘realistic’ career — healthcare. I quickly realized that, even though I enjoyed caregiving, it was not the calling I had been sent here for.

Dreams give us a chance to look into the future and see possibilities. Go someplace quiet, paper and pen in hand, close your eyes, and take a deep breath. Exhale. With your eyes remaining closed, envision your life in two years. What do you see? Who are you?

Describe the future you in as much detail as possible:

  • What do you look like?
  • How do you feel about yourself?
  • What are your surroundings?
  • Where do you live?

Consider every detail of the life the future you is living and prioritize the steps you must take to get you closer to your goal. I see the home I will live in, the style of clothing I will wear and the types of souls who will surround me. I can also truly feel the love I have for myself, even when I’ve made a mistake or disappointed myself.

If you don’t see your ideal life and ideal self, what changes can you make today to have that life and become that person?

Many are stubborn in pursuit of the path they have chosen, few in pursuit of the goal”. Friedrich Nietzsche, Philosopher.

Life lessons learned

lesson

I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the years, including not to trust your big brother when you’re 3 and he offers you a chocolate bar or apple juice but you’re near cows. Or that just because I have a fear doesn’t mean that fear needs to pass to my children. The biggest lesson, by far though, has been that I am worthy.

I am worthy of my own respect, love, and kindness. I am not superwoman – though I have a coffee mug that says otherwise. My mind deserves intelligent conversation and time to read. My body deserves rest and nutrition. I have the right to remove hurtful people from my life. It is okay to embrace my talents – they are God given and I am safe to feel proud when others praise my abilities.

I am also quirky and unique in many ways – ask any of my friends. Those traits are what make me ME. I won’t try and be someone I’m not, because that is being dishonest to myself and the world. That’s not to say I don’t put on my extrovert hat from time to time, if the situation demands it. I do, however, honour my introvertness and allow myself ample time to recover from social situations.

To be able to say, at 43 years young, that I truly love who I am is a huge accomplishment for me. If you love who you are, pat yourself on the back. If you haven’t quite gotten to that point in your growth, you will if you want to. Rediscover who you are. And when you talk to your inner child, remind them that cows don’t give chocolate or apple juice.

 

 

Gratitude and your business

Gratitude

 

Gratitude is an acknowledgment of a benefit that one has received or will receive. This nicely sums up the reason that business owners would be wise to practice gratitude daily, especially in regards to their client base. Without people supporting your business, whether the benefits are monetary or otherwise, is it really a business or is it more of a hobby?

People who trust your ability to help them solve a problem are certainly something to be grateful for. These people could choose to contact someone else, but they’ve chosen you. When someone seems happy with your service, consider asking for a testimonial. Quite often, people look to the experience of others when making a decision regarding a service provider. If multiple people have nothing but negative things to say about your business, do you think it would inspire others to contact you?

There is also the aspect of referrals. When a past or current client refers you to someone, that other person comes into the picture trusting the referee’s opinon of you and your service. This is most certainly something to be grateful for, as it shows even more support for you and your business.

Have you ever thought about sending clients handwritten thank you notes, perhaps when referrals happen or simply as a thank you for their purchase? If you do send thank you notes, what has your experience been? Has sending notes positively impacted your business or caused you stress? What alternatives can you think of to handwritten notes?

Share your advice with us!

Let go

the_more_you_let_go_the_higher_you_rise_by_jennahisourgoal-d8vvhnu

 

Have you ever been told to ‘let go’? Perhaps you’ve been stewing about someone’s behaviour that you perceive as being defective, or maybe you had an unresolved argument with someone and it’s sticking in your craw. Being able to ‘let go’ is not so easily done by those of us with OCD. When something bothers you, the obsessive aspect of your disorder takes the stage and makes it almost impossible to ignore because of the shiny costume it wears. It demands that you focus your attention on:

  • What you should have said/done
  • What the other person should have said/done
  • The belief that your opinion was the right one
  • The thought that the actions of the other person were wrong

When you see injustice, deceit, and less than kind behaviour from others within your day, it’s difficult to ‘let go’. You feel as if it is your job to ensure those actions are recognized by the masses – you are the Kindness and Truth Police.

This obsession ultimately leads to more stress upon your heart than the people exhibiting the behaviour are worth. The ability to ‘let go’ and allow the masses to discover the truth for themselves boils down to showing kindness to yourself. Again, not so easily done by those challenged with OCD, but certainly something to strive towards.

Have you ever been told to ‘let go’? Were you able to? Share your secret…

 

What message does your business marketing send?

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You came up with a business idea, ordered your business cards, and started working on your marketing strategy. Congratulations! You are among the many fledgling entrepreneurs who roam the earth in search of prosperity, recognition, and time flexibility.

While being a business owner is a wonderful thing, it comes with responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is marketing. In some instances, your chosen field will restrict where and how you can market your business. Generally, though, your marketing plan should include the following:

  • Attending networking events to meet your audience
  • Direct marketing using brochures and/or flyers
  • Advertising through print
  • Blog articles to position yourself as an expert in your field
  • Publicity including press releases
  • Featuring your product or service at trade shows
  • Developing an effective website, including strong content

We’ve all seen examples of poorly done websites, filled with content that makes your eyes hurt. Consider this excerpt, taken from a web develoment company:

we are comminted to educating and assisting small and medium businesses (smb) identify internet-based, website solutions to enable e-commerce and effective marketing of their business online. we have over 15 years of expereince working with web projects. we combine innovative design with efficient code structure, resulting in improved search engine results and increased accessibility and web usability. 

The inability to use proper grammar and spelling shows the reader (potential client) that this business can’t be bothered to ensure their website content is error free. If they can’t pay attention to detail, what other aspects of their business will they ignore? They don’t seem to respect their reader’s (again, potential client’s) intelligence by ensuring their website content is error free. Would you trust their ability to provide website services?

You want your business to succeed. An important predictor of that success is the content of your website, social media posts, and marketing materials. Trust a professional to do the “wordy” workcontact me today!