Wisdom, advice and inspiration for women entrepreneurs and small businesses
A couple years ago I was asked by a local business organization to share 7 habits that made me a “highly successful woman.” Always with a business focus in mind, I shared my top 7 professional success strategies with an audience of 100 hoping it would inspire someone in the crowd. Today’s blog post I revisit those strategies to inspire you today.
1. “Have and Live by a Personal Business Mission Statement” – I wouldn’t be asked to speak so often if it wasn’t because I live by a very strong personal business mission. I think every entrepreneur or professional should have one. My mission is to help women entrepreneurs increase their revenue opportunities by expanding their local, state and regional marketplace in New York State because women still earn less than men. Having this strong and vibrant message has propelled me forward the past 11 years with my company Women TIES.
2. “To Be Innovative” – I think entrepreneurs are more successful if they are creating new ways of doing something within their industry. In my case, I created a new company that had a mission of doing something no other business I knew was doing. I wanted to create a “local, state and regional marketplace” for women entrepreneurs in New York State so they would do business with each other. I believe very strongly in the buying and selling power of women. To do more business with others we need to erase the geographic barriers between us and our economic neighbors around the state. Be innovative today with your own business.
3. “Embrace Education”- Education has always been a focus of my life after graduating from SUNY Oswego as a business major. I have taken post graduate classes to succeed professionally. And currently by producing 40 educational events a year for women to learn vital business information, I educate myself constantly. I believe all individuals – but especially entrepreneurs – should always be learning. It is the key to current and future achievement.
4. “5 Times Sales” Rule. These are one of those habits I have adapted after listening to a couple smart women entrepreneurs. I use to give up on a potential client or new member if they didn’t respond to my first or second sales call. Now I don’t give up the sales pursuit until after I’ve made the fifth call. Once I implemented this habit 3 years ago, I retained more members and secured new ones. I learned it’s not that someone didn’t want to take my call or commit to what I was selling, it was because they were too busy to take the phone call or call me back. Do not give up so easy on sales calls and make them an important part of your business day!
5. “Publicity Begets Publicity”. Being asked to speak is due to the publicity I’ve gained and a reputation I’ve earned as an expert within my industry. I embraced exposure in the media to market myself and my company through as many speaking engagements, written opportunities and public appearances as possible. Consider marketing yourself as a speaker more in 2017.
6. “Seek Advisors 10 Years Older Than Yourself” I have always looked up to women 10 to 20 years older than I was. I am enthralled with what they have learned and the wisdom they can share with me. When I started Women TIES I asked 10 women who were older and more experienced to be a part of an advisory board to help steer my company in the right direction especially in the beginning years. The great thing about women is they love helping other women. The advice I gained from these women, and continue to get from them today has helped me make very wise decisions that have made my business more successful. I suggest if you don’t have any advisors yet, to reach out and ask someone older and wiser than you for advice.
7. My final habit is to “Fail Forward.” My favorite quote has always been, “If you don’t try, you can’t fail. And if you fail, get right back up and try again.” I was known as a tenacious child early in life and it has served me well throughout my personal and professional life. No one likes failing. I personally hate it but what I’ve learned the past 22 years as an entrepreneur is sometimes you need to try to succeed at something more than just one time if it’s important. If I get nervous at times about stepping up or out, I just stop and look around at other entrepreneurs and tell myself, “If they can do, I certainly can do it!” And then I ask myself “What happens if I do fail? “ If I can live with the answer to that question, then the gamble is definitely worth taking.
So I’ll leave you with the thought that I hope you don’t let any level of failure keep you down too long and that you try more often than you would like – especially if there is something really important you want to achieve in business.
As everyone knows the #Debate2016 is tonight. Experts are anticipating over one million viewers tuning into this historic debate with the first female presidential nominee and a man with no previous political expertise. It would be fascinating to know what our forefathers would think of today’s election.
I remember in 1979 standing at a podium looking out through the dark auditorium of my entire ninth grade class as the first female to run for President of our class with three other women on my slate and two other male Presidential candidates. Our all women team were trailblazers back then too. When I think back about what made me want to be President of our class it was because I loved being in leadership positions even at the ripe age of 15, was a well liked person and thought I could win on popularity, and had the guts to try.
I know for a fact I didn’t do as much preparing as the two candidates for tonight’s debate because all I had with me were index cards with red ink on them to read on a darkened stage. I probably lost the election because I wasn’t prepared to speak without glancing at my cards for clues. I stuttered a bit but was also enthusiastic. In the end I remembered thinking, “Tracy you need to be more prepared next time you do public speaking!”
We lost the election to an all boys slate of officers. I believe it was because it was 1979 and we were the first all girls slate to run for office in a time when female leaders weren’t quite rocking out in schools. I learned some valuable tips from that attempt to become President that can be applied in general business practice today:
* Preparation is a major key to success in most aspects of life whether preparing for a personal appointment with a client, interviewing a new staff member, conducting an annual presentation or organizing an event. You must be prepared. People also need preparation for athletic feats, community contests, running for the PTA or theater auditions. There is no such thing as “winging it” in important circumstances when you are “selling yourself” to people. Prepare, prepare, prepare.
* Just because someone that doesn’t look like or sound like you hasn’t won a position, made a team or succeeded in that one area you have interest in, don’t give up or shy away from the experience, try it yourself. You might be the perfect person at the perfect time to claim the victory. You never know unless you try! I never did run for a political position after that defeat but I became the leader of two companies and founder of a women’s sports network. I have also backed many female politicians and leaders. Keep trying because tomorrow might be your day.
* Achieving higher levels in any part of life takes a lot of hard work, action plans, partners, supporters and a community who believes in you. Politicians have an entire party behind them, experienced athletes have friends and instructors who work with them, accomplished actresses have coaches and take acting classes, and award winning business owners have mentors and advisors. If you aren’t accomplishing as much as you want as fast you want, think about placing yourself in a community of supporters including advisors, mentors and other liked minded people. Being part of a team produces powerful results.
As you watch the debates tonight, envision yourself – not as the next President of the United States (unless you want to!) but as the “leader” of something new you want to accomplish in the near future and start preparing, trying and building a team to help you. I bet you can win the “election” if you try hard to win.
“Acta Non Verba” was the name of my younger brothers’ band about ten years ago. The word Acta Non Verba means Actions Not Words. I never asked them why they choose that name but they were great musicians. I remember watching them play their first gig in their high school at a dance in 1998 in Kennebunkport, Maine. I was not only proud of them, I was also shocked when I walked into the gym and heard the overhead music playing “Stairway to Heaven” a song played at my high school dances in 1979. Great music lasts for generations.
After a morning run with woman entrepreneur Ann Sageer of CiawChowBambina.com, the first woman to sign up to run with me on a short distance towards my 261 Fearless Boston Marathon 2017 goal, she proved to me that Acta Non Verba can also be witnessed in business, sports and goals. The action of someone speaks much louder than their verbal support or written words. Running side by side with me on this journey proved to me that “women supporting women” is a truth in my life.
As my blog posts continue the next couple months, I will be regularly writing my typical small business posts to help women entrepreneurs and small businesses but I will also be highlighting some of the women who are running with me towards my goal to share their businesses with you and their success strategies as wisdom to help my blog followers.
Ann in a short period of time developed her blog http://www.CiaoChowBambina.com into an amazing amount of followers (more than anyone I know who blogs), increased her page views, and expanded her following to a global audience. Expanding Ann’s blog to an international audience has led her to work with national companies, to develop recipes and provide photos from their sites. She attributes her blogging success and monetization to unique, quality content, beautiful photography, good website design, cultivating and building relationships and the use of social media.
Thanks Ann for the run down the old Erie Canal Path in Camillus, New York and for the great blogging success strategies. I hope today’s blog post inspires you to higher levels of blogging success by following Ann’s strategies, taking another person along for your “bucket list” trips and documenting your own journeys. I say Acta Non Verba might be the way to succeed in life.
As a follow-up to today’s earlier blog post about goal setting, I thought I would take the blog post one step farther and record a video message to share with my blog followers, many of whom don’t know who I am, what I sound like or look like, to hear my reasons for training for the Boston Marathon with Kathrine Switzer’s 261Fearless.org charity bib team. Take a look at today’s video message and follow me not only on my blog for regular updates on business, sports and life but also on my Youtube Channel “Tracy Higginbotham.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1z5I_WM_rpM
Business advice for women entrepreneurs and small businesses
Sometimes driving through a local community you might see a tall sign in the shape of a thermometer with red ink inside it and lines on the outside. You know when you see the sign an organization in the neighborhood has set a fundraising goal. The sign is their way of both grabbing attention to the cause and showing progress towards their goal.
The word goal is best defined as an observable and measurable end result having one or more objectives to be achieved within a more or less fixed timeframe. People strive for all sorts of goals like weight loss, academic achievement, athletic aspirations, and learning new talents. Women entrepreneurs strive for various types of goals too like increasing income, adding more customers, creating new product lines and finishing client projects.
But lately I have been reminded by a number of women to use goal setting more frequently in business. Three of our first Retreat speakers mentioned the word goal setting. One reminded us we need a goal in order to strive for something much larger in life, another mentioned that only by having a goal will we stay on track of our progress and the third one stated without a financial goal we won’t achieve higher limits of success. Looking back on the event, the word “goal” was the buzz word at this year’s conference.
Two days after the Retreat I set a very, very lofty athletic goal for myself which I won’t know if it will come to full fruition until mid-November. The goal is to run on the 261Fearless Team in the 2017 Boston Marathon with Kathrine Switzer and use one of 261Fearless charity bibs. I have run for 17 years but never in a race as big as the Boston Marathon. The only way I’ll accomplish this goal is by including some other women in it as my “training partners,” pushing myself past typical limits, setting a daily and monthly action plan and believing I can do it. As Heather Losi of Impact Martial Arts/Team Feidt explained in her presentation, “In business and life we must establish an action plan to accomplish any goal.” After establishing the plan, you need mental toughness, training partners and never losing sight of the end goal to accomplish what you plan. This is true in entrepreneurship as much as it is in any personal goals.
Today’s blog post is a reminder to start using goal setting more often in your personal and business life. We need big calendars, small action steps, a timeline, partners who believe in us and confidence to achieve any size goal. If you don’t own a large erasable calendar yet, I encourage you to buy one and start using it for your own big goals. I have always used them for event planning and management and now it’s being used for my big personal goal. Break down your big goal into daily or weekly action plans and get started!
Sometimes in life we need to switch up the way we approach organizing it. Maybe today is the day you decide to start using action plans more often to keep yourself on track and set yourself up for success. Go get those big dreams!
Inspiration for women and women entrepreneurs
I opened my Facebook page today to two back to back video clips shared by two women entrepreneurs who are part of my organization Women TIES saying, “I knew you would love this Tracy. It is right up your alley.” As I watched the first video clip from Kristen Bell introducing Pinksourcing, where women are a bargain at the workplace, since you only have to pay them 77 cents on the dollar. The second one was about a female running a marathon while pumping breast milk. The point of today’s blog is not to shine a light on pay inequality or amazing ordinary women but to ask you if the people who know you, know your personal mission statement or brand? Do you get signs, comments, or people sending other people to you that are like minded?
I embraced my personal brand years ago when my youngest son came home from 2nd grade to tell me he had to describe me in three words to his teacher. As a passionate Italian mother, I wondered what words he choose. As I looked down at his cute face with shimmering eyes and bowl cut hair, I said, “Adam, what did you say.” He said, “The first word was loving,” to which I said that is sweet honey. “The second word is smart,” to which I responded “Thank you for thinking I’m smart sweetie.” Then I said, “What was the third word,” thinking it would be “nice” the way the other words were going. He said, “The third word was FEMINIST” to which I said, “Do you know what a feminist is?” He replied, “You think women rule the world!”
There I sat dumbfounded that my youngest son identified who I was before I could see it myself. I must admit, he has grown into a wonderful 21 year old male/female who loves shopping, playing lacrosse, wears pink and belongs to a fraternity! I hope my example of feminism in our household made him the perfect blend of both sexes.
My challenge to you today is to identify your personal brand. Do you have one? Do you know what it is? Does everyone else know what it is? Could your personal brand help you develop a company, take your business to the next level, launch a national speaking tour or change the world for a population? Life is too short not to be dedicated to one or more causes. I hope today’s blog reminds you to show up and identify your personal brand and share it with the world. Don’t wait until a bright, bubbly 7 year old tells you what your brand is. Embrace it and shine.
Business inspiration for women and women entrepreneurs
I woke up this morning to the beauty of another glorious blue sky day in New York State. The vibrant blue sky reflects my deep appreciation to waking up as a woman entrepreneur today and my deep love for being a part of a warm and enthusiastic community of women business owners the past 22 years. The photo of today’s Wednesday Wisdom is an “Oscar selfie” from yesterday’s “Inspiring Success: The Women TIES Retreat” taken by our keynote speaker Pat Mussieux. It was just one of my favorite moments from yesterday!
The other one is in this Facebook video taken at the Retreat of breaking a barrier. It is proof that anything……anything….is possible in business especially “breaking through” your toughest challenges (yes, it is the video of my exciting and probably award winning karate chop through solid wood that happened on stage yesterday).
The theme of the 2016 Retreat is worth restating today for all of you who could not join us – it was “Women Supporting Women: In Business, Sports, Equality and Life” the new Women TIES message going forward. I know for a fact when women are supporting women in business, sports, equality and life united in a common spirit we can do anything – break barriers, break financial goals, break personal goals and even break wood.
Women supporting women is a rich and vibrant community made to change the world for the better for women today and the girls to follow! We must stand united in spirit and action for women always – especially for women in business. Please choose to put your money in the hands, bank accounts and pocketbooks for women first and foremost and choose our website to find women to do business with.
I remain grateful for the joy, unifying spirit, music, laughter and conversations of not only yesterday but for future programs in all four areas of Women TIES mission. Today’s blog post is to inspire you to follow up with new action plans, new contact lists and new goals. Don’t let today pass without committing to a couple brave new journeys.