Staff Spotlight: Nancy Brommell, Business Advisor and Idea Facilitator

As a Business Advisor, what is the most common issue that you encounter with new business owners?
The belief that “if you build it, they will come,” which is often then coupled with a lack of good quality business planning.

Many women business owners start their businesses because of a passion for the products or services, or skill sets that they have. So they set up shop without having done enough market research to understand who their target markets are, without writing a strategic business and marketing plan, and without understanding the financial elements that will position their business for profitability.

The basis of the marketing sessions of the Business Plan Development workshop series focuses on the importance of knowing your potential target markets. Who are your primary, secondary and tertiary markets? And the correct answer to this question is NOT “everyone.”

I encourage our women business owners to think critically about who is going to buy their products/services, and why. What will entice a customer buy your products and services over all the others that are available on the market? How will you differentiate your products/services from all the others who are competing for market position? Why would I buy from you? And the correct answer to these questions, for most small businesses, is NOT “price,”

An in-depth understanding of your potential target markets, their demographics and psycho-graphics, is the basis of a strong marketing strategy and leads the entrepreneur to shift their thinking away from “If I build it…” toward, “What should I build, so that they will come?” The real question an entrepreneur should ask is, “How should I design my business to meet the needs of my target markets?”

How would you define success for an entrepreneur?
In my opinion, success for an entrepreneur lies in setting measurable goals within given timelines, assessing how closely you came to achieving those goals and revising your goals based on what you learned from the process.

I once heard a speaker talk about how putting numbers in your goals stimulates the brain to achieve those numbers. This speaker was a guidance counsellor at a school, so he used the example of a student setting a goal to achieve 75% on a particular exam. I think this concept is transferable to entrepreneurs. By putting numbers in your goals, it makes them tangible and measurable. As entrepreneurs reflect on 2014 and plan for 2015, now is the perfect time to write out some tangible, measurable goals and the strategies required to achieve them.

To all our fabulous women entrepreneurs, if setting goals for your business success is something you want to do, make an appointment with one of our business advisors today. That’s what we are here for!

Is there an inexpensive thing that every business owner could do to improve their marketing?
Network. Many people dread networking and therefore don’t take opportunities to get out there and meet people. If that describes you, here are a few tricks that take the pressure off and may even turn networking into something you enjoy:

  1. Be able to confidently say who you are and what your business is. (As you’re driving to the event, practice saying your name and your business name.) Have a firm handshake, make eye contact and smile – this will make you appear confident even if you’re nervous as heck inside.
  2. Be prepared to succinctly answer the question “What does your business do?”  This is sometimes where nervous networkers start rambling. To eliminate this risk, practice being able to clearly articulate 1-3 major products and/or services that your business provides, and to whom. “At the Women’s Enterprise Centre, we provide business advising, training, and lending for women business owners and those interested in becoming business owners.”
  3. Change your mindset: It’s not about you. Tell yourself that networking is a wonderful opportunity to learn about others. Keep in mind that people LOVE to talk about themselves. So at networking events, encourage them to do so by asking open-ended questions. Use the 5 Ws: Who, What, Where, When, Why, (and How) questions.
  4. End the conversation and move on. This is another area that can be awkward. So practice saying something like “I promised myself I would connect with a few more people here tonight. It was so nice to meet you. Perhaps we will connect again.” Shake hands, smile and move on. If it’s someone you really want to build a relationship with, ask for their business card and suggest that you will follow up.
  5. Follow up if you promised to follow up, especially with those you want to connect with further. Don’t assume that just because they have your business card they will call you if they need you. If you want to build that connection, take the initiative to follow up.

Our last staff spotlight Maurice asks: What has been the most satisfying experience for you at the Women’s Enterprise Centre?
The most satisfying experience for me is seeing women move from the idea/passion stage to becoming confident, successful business owners. As they move from attending the Welcome to Business workshop, then onto the Business Plan Development workshop series, to the start-up stage of opening and operating their business.

From there, I see them move onto My Gold Mine because they are in a position to grow their business and increase profitability through efficiencies. Later in their business ownership journey I’m delighted to see them consider membership with WBE Canada and WEConnect International in order to leverage export opportunities. I feel so honoured to be a part of every woman’s entrepreneurial journey – at whatever stage our paths cross.

Reflecting back on your earlier question of how I would define success…I should add the following: Success is believing in yourself!

What question should we ask the next staff spotlight?
What is one of your goals for 2015?