I visited United Way’s new digs yesterday and had a chat with Linda Brazier Lamoureux, Director of Learning and Innovation. United Way, like many of us non-profit organizations, is always seeking ways to develop revenue sources while continuing to serve the community. I was at United Way to see their Innovation Centre, also known as 580 Main – Hot Desks, because Linda thought it might provide some benefit to our women-in-business clientele.
The main floor of United Way has been designed as a shared space environment with an open section of desks and work spaces and a number of closed and private meeting rooms. These desks can be used on a reserved basis for a specified number of hours per month, or on a permanent, full-time basis, by small start-up businesses, social enterprises, not-for-profits, registered charities and artists who need an office away from home. What’s great for a new, small business is that the Innovation Centre can provide a place to meet with clients or have advisory board meetings. One of the major advantages is the benefit of a communal space rather than working on one’s own in a vacuum—which is often the downside of a home-based business.
I think it’s a good idea and could certainly see the utility for a new business that can’t afford a full office space in the downtown area. United Way offers free Wi-Fi, and low volume copier, printer and fax as part of the very reasonable rental fee. You can book meeting rooms, AV equipment, classrooms and have access to a kitchen. The Hot Desk area is staffed with a receptionist from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm Monday to Friday.
I’m not trying to be an ad for UW, but if you find this appealing, it could be a good way to get your business rolling without making a long-term commitment to rental payments and equipment purchases. For prices, rules and regulations, and further information, call Linda at 924-4225.
In my on-line walkabouts I occasionally come across a real gem of an article or blog that is so straight-ahead instructive and informative that it begs to be shared.
Most recent of these pure-diamond finds is Mark Schaefer’s blog Are These the 10 Best Corporate Blogs in the World?
I’ve followed him on grow and find his non-partisan, non-product, non-promotional offerings always entertaining and educational. There’s an innate humility but honest forthrightness that characterizes his writings, making them very engaging. This blog is a good example. He doesn’t purport to provide the world’s 10 best blogs, but puts forward the surmise that they might be, if you agree that they are.
Schafer’s big-company blog list illustrates what excellent blogs have and how they behave; information that can be easily transferred to small business use. Whole Foods blog exhibits how-to’s, best practices and product ideas; Patagonia, which sells adventure gear, tells customer stories; and a regional grocery chain talks about entertaining and recipes. Others make the list because of employee engagement, down-home problem-solving discussions, or encouragement and celebration of customer ideas.
Check out the list and be inspired to add value to your own blogs – making them more fun to both read and write.
Someone sent me a very funny U-Tube video describing a supposed new app that could alter your Facebook posts to make them ‘Mom friendly’. It could make you appear clothed if you had posted inappropriate photos of yourself, turn your major squeeze into a plush toy that you innocently clutched and other wonderful and amazing tricks that could save you from severe scolding or worse. What was once the province of the young has become a major communications phenomenon. Not only are parents of teenagers moving into the Facebook culture, a significant number of the over-60 crowd is using the site to be entertained, connect with friends and family, support their ‘likes’, and learn more about the world. My mom is on Facebook, too. My mother is in her 90s. Granted, she always was ahead of her time. An early email user, she was surfing the net and sending out multiple emails daily (mostly to me) before most of her contemporaries ever heard of the Internet. They thought she was making it up. “Your daughter writes to you twice a day? Who do you think you’re kidding?” Now this is really important from a business perspective. Social media marketing is no longer just to target youth. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you may be asleep at the switch.
Someone sent me a very funny U-Tube video describing a supposed new app that could alter your Facebook posts to make them ‘Mom friendly’. It could make you appear clothed if you had posted inappropriate photos of yourself, turn your major squeeze into a plush toy that you innocently clutched and other wonderful and amazing tricks that could save you from severe scolding or worse.
What was once the province of the young has become a major communications phenomenon. Not only are parents of teenagers moving into the Facebook culture, a significant number of the over-60 crowd is using the site to be entertained, connect with friends and family, support their ‘likes’, and learn more about the world.
My mom is on Facebook, too.
My mother is in her 90s. Granted, she always was ahead of her time. An early email user, she was surfing the net and sending out multiple emails daily (mostly to me) before most of her contemporaries ever heard of the Internet. They thought she was making it up. “Your daughter writes to you twice a day? Who do you think you’re kidding?”
Now this is really important from a business perspective. Social media marketing is no longer just to target youth. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you may be asleep at the switch.
My mother was born before television had been invented. Today she is on Facebook. I think she is a role model for the kind of minds we all need to develop; minds that embrace and celebrate new technology and use it to make our lives more meaningful and our work more productive.
Is it safe for me to use my credit card on a website?
I am often asked this question when people call to register for one of our seminars, workshops or events.
I can reassure them that our site is safe because it was built by a very reliable local website company with expertise in online sales. In addition, it is regularly evaluated by an outside organization that ensures we maintain Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) compliance.
But how can you tell if other sites are secure? I did a little online research and found the following tips:
Verification - Shop at online merchants who indicate that they verify credit cards before allowing a purchase. Merchants verify the card by asking for the three digit code on the back. This is done to prove that the user actually has the card.
Secure Site - A secure website begins with "https" rather than just "http." Only give your credit card information on sites that are secure.
Research - Before giving your credit card information to an online vendor, take a few minutes to do an Internet search on the company to see if they have a history of fraud. The Better Business Bureau is a good resource for researching companies for fraud. You can contact the local office or use the Bureau's interactive website to research companies.
According to HowStuffWorks, you can defend yourself against identity theft by using virus protection software and a firewall on your computer. You should also make sure that you send your credit card information over a secure server, which is illustrated by a lock or key icon.
Hopefully these tips will allow you peace of mind when you conduct online transactions.
Thinking strategically requires that we understand the difference between strategies and tactics.
Strategies and strategic objectives imply long-term thinking. Sit back in a private place with a beverage and some music, or the sound of rain, or complete silence, and start your brain working to visualize where you want your business to be in five or ten years. That’s your ultimate and overarching goal. Some people call it a vision; it’s what you are aiming for across time – your business raison d’etre.
Now what are the five (three? seven?) most important things you need to accomplish before you are able to achieve that goal? Those are your strategic objectives.
Set those objectives in a priority or ranking system. Can they be achieved simultaneously or are they dependent on one leading to another. Now you have a bit of a longitudinal time component.
What is the environment like in which you wish to achieve your objectives? Here’s the time to do your SWOT analysis.
What paths will lead to the achievement of each of your strategic objectives? Ensure that they take advantage of opportunities, overcome threats, and take into account the internal strengths and weaknesses of your business enterprise. These are the tactical elements. What are the specific steps that you need to take to bring your tactics to bear on your objectives? Those are your tasks.
Add time lines. When should each task be performed – today, next week, next year? Attach tasks to the specific tactics to which they pertain.
Consider your resources. How can each of your tasks be accomplished? Ask yourself: What will I need in human and financial resources? What will I need in internal resources (strength, energy, attitude, education etc.)?
Now you have the beginning of a plan.
By ensuring that your tactical thinking has real-time tasks that you can do or delegate, you’ve turned your strategic plan into an action plan.
If you are a woman-owned or –partnered business in Manitoba, we can help you with this process through our advisory services.
Simplistic? You bet. But it’s a great way to get started. You’ll pick up what you need on the way.
Maurice McCarthy, a Business Advisor at the Centre, wrote a blog in early December about SWOT analysis and its important role in business decision making.
SWOT analysis is a key component of successful strategic planning, which I’ll bring up again in blogs-to-come. Right now though, being that it’s a new year and we are all thinking about new starts, I thought I’d go back to basics on this issue.
Consultants love to talk about strategic planning. I could spend a whole afternoon waxing almost eloquent about the advantages it gives your business, how you can’t get along without it, why you need to think about it at every step of your business development….blah blah. In fact, we did a piece on this in July.
Problem is there’s too much talk about strategic planning and not enough action. There are way too many folks charging big dollars and giving you formulas and templates without actually getting you involved in the process. In many cases you are left with a product you can’t actually use to chart your future and whose best function is that of a door stop.
A strategic plan shouldn’t be abstract or ambiguous or at such a high level that it doesn’t touch down at any point on what you actually need to be doing this afternoon to become a millionaire in ten years. A strategic plan, when it’s all said and done, should be a precious revelation, a treasure trove of both inspirational thought about what you want to do/be/have in your business as well as the map to get you to the doing/being/having in a timely fashion.
Interested? Stay tuned.