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Women Entrepreneurs – Dream Big

August 8, 2017

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs, female business owners and small business owners

This is a repost from January 2016 but it was a really uplifting one and I loved the “wisdom” in the fourth paragraph. I hope it inspires you today to dream big.

Hearts are racing, hope is mounting, and dreams are brewing as the anticipation grows for tonight’s $1.5 billion dollar Powerball jackpot. I am positive high on the list of any Central New York winners waking up this morning might be escaping today’s arctic blast for the rest of the winter in the Bahamas or buying a second house in Hawaii where the winter winds don’t blow.

Tucked in the dreams of an entrepreneur winning the jackpot might be the same as the non-business owner or it might be filled with a long list of improvements to their company, hiring staff, buying the latest technology, and serving a much larger audience. Perhaps their dreams would include starting a non-profit foundation, donating money to cure cancer or financing the dreams of other people they care about. We would feel unbelievable if we could do all the things a billion dollar jackpot could provide to us.

If the numbers on your lotto ticket are not the perfect match to every red ball rolling out of the jackpot machine tonight, it doesn’t mean you can’t start some of your billion dollar dreams. We might not be able to give as much away or help as many people, but if those items were important to us before we landed the incredible sum of money, why can’t we budget some time and resources this year to do them anyway just on a smaller scale.

Today I challenge you right now to write down the list of things you would do with the billion dollar jackpot to boost your business, support more customers, serve clients better, give to important community efforts, and support funding for health related causes close to your heart. When you awake tomorrow morning perhaps not rolling in the billion dollar dough, I hope you will seriously consider doing what is on your list. We really don’t need $1.5 billion dollars to make a difference, do we? Sometimes it takes recognition of what changes we want to make coupled with the passion to make a change.

I know tomorrow will be like any other day for me as I market, promote and unite women entrepreneurs online and in person across New York State to help them increase their opportunities for sales and create new economic connections. If by chance I have the right six numbers, I will continue my dedication to the women I’ve served for 22 years but with some surprise free funding for them. Whatever the outcome tomorrow, let’s keep dreaming big together today and every day.

Monday Motivation: Focus on Sales

August 7, 2017

Business wisdom and advice for women entrepreneurs and women in business

Many times throughout the day I focus. I find myself focusing harder on small font sizes that keep getting smaller as I keep getting older. I focus on the quietness of a balmy summer morning. I focus intently when a woman calls me asking questions to aid her business. But the kind of focus I am trying to use more is the focus I gleaned from listening to a successful woman entrepreneur last week.

Creating a million dollar enterprise in less than a year is a feat many women don’t achieve. In fact, most businesses in America fail before their first anniversary. So when one of our members spoke about how she accomplished a really big sales goal in less than a year, I listened intently. What I heard her say was how important it is to “focus” on direct, targeted, persistent sales to achieve the goal. Not all women love sales, but this woman admitted her love for sales and her focus in landing major sales contracts which where the catalyst behind her company’s fast track to success.

One of the definitions of focus is the “act of concentrating on a particular goal and not wasting time or energy on other things.” How often do we get so overwhelmed with business responsibilities – large and small – that we lose our focus, concentration and energy to accomplish the most essential goals in our daily business life? As much as we don’t want to admit it, conducting sales must be a priority, a focus, an ever present high ranking priority to keep our businesses surviving and thriving.

Today’s post is to inspire you to focus on sales.

*Make sales a priority.
*Know your target market.
*Go after your target market.
*Ask more times than you’d like to ask for the sale.
*Be confident.
*Be assertive.
*Keep reaching out for new customers.

If you don’t, you can’t continue to prosper and achieve your largest dream for your business. Those dreams don’t have to be million dollar sales goals, but you must have a sales goal and work diligently every day to achieve it.

Just like a blurry image becomes clear once we focus on it (with or without reading glasses), sales goals will be achieved with more direct, targeted action if we focus on making sales our number one priority.

If you are in Central New York and want to join us on Wednesday, August 9th from 9 a.m. – noon for a speed networking sales program, go to www.womenties.com and sign up today!

Pros and Cons of Longevity In Business

July 26, 2017

Wednesday Wisdom for women entrepreneurs, female business owners, small businesses

As the 22nd anniversary of becoming a female business owner approaches on August 8th, I thought about my longevity in business. I brought up the topic with one of my business friends recently. We had a debate on whether longevity in business is seen as beneficial or harmful in the eyes of consumers.

It seems as novice businesswomen it takes a lot of convincing and sales to prove our value in the marketplace. Then as we mature in length of years in business, our confidence and sales grow. Before we know it we have approached our 15th, 20th or more years in existence, younger businesses have come in and gained ground. Their fresh appeal can make any confident business owner stop and pause to consider whether the time has come to change or stay the course.

There seems to be a fine line between being known as a reputable, long standing company and a new, progressive enterprise. The world is made up of consumers who love both. As a woman entrepreneur with an accomplished and sustainable business it’s not a bad idea to periodically analyze where you stand. We can’t be afraid to be honest with ourselves and to make the changes we need to make to stay viable and keep up with the Jones.

The thought of change doesn’t mean we lose our original perspective or our recognizable brand. It means we step back to study and determine if it’s in the best interest of our company to stay the same, make slight upgrades or do a total overhaul. The answer is most likely dependent on how successful we are financially. If we are maintaining market share and our companies are growing, we will stay the course. If we are losing ground, we need to make moderate or major adjustments.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom suggests you ask yourself if you feel comfortable with where your company stands in the marketplace. If so, keep doing what you have been doing and let more people know about your company. If not, look at up-and-coming businesses in your field and figure out their edge. See what you might need to alter to stay relevant and attractive to consumers.

I don’t know many women who like getting older. But many do it by keeping themselves in shape, staying healthy and making changes in their lifestyle when they know it’s imperative like my friend Kathrine Switzer. It’s the same thing we need to do for our aging companies. We must give them check-ups, maintain their health, and make changes when it prolongs their existence.

Getting Comfortable with Customer Compliments and Complaints

July 25, 2017

Tuesday Thoughts for Women Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners

After hosting a national speaker who spoke on a new topic which I created for her she said after the event, “Thank you again for having the idea for this new topic. You really can’t imagine how much of an impact that decision is going to make on my speaking career.”

Recently a new member approached me at an event exclaiming how her membership had landed her a paid speaking gig because she listed herself on our Speaker’s Bureau of Women – which has become a popular place for members to be found and offered speaking opportunities. There was something about these two compliments that has stuck with me for a week.

As woman entrepreneurs we hope our products and services benefit others. We are in business to not only make money; but to provide positive assistance to our customers and the marketplace. It’s why we are so passionate about our offerings. So when we hear compliments or receive testimonials, do we take them seriously or just push them aside because we are too busy to soak them in?

It’s a proven fact that when a customer complains, we focus more on the negativity of their remarks and replicate them repeatedly in our minds. It also occurs when we personally experience poor customer service or a bad business situation ourselves. We will share the negative experience with many more people than when we have a positive customer experience.

Today’s post is meant for you to ask yourself, “Am I truly valuing the positive feedback, remarks and compliments I receive from customers or am I too focused on the negative critiques I receive periodically?” Do you keep a list of client testimonials? You should! Do you harbor criticism from your customers? You shouldn’t! Really ask yourself today, “Do I relish in my successes or am I stuck in client failures?”

What you choose to focus on every day will determine your outlook and positively or negatively affect your decisions. Choose wisely and take my suggestion to soak in those glorious compliments more often.

Suggestions for a Summer Slow Down at Work

July 21, 2017

Business inspiration and entrepreneurial wisdom for women entrepreneurs, female business owners and small companies

As much as I love my business and what I do, it is hard to ignore a truly blissful, beautiful New York State summer day out my window. You might feel the same way. Today’s blog post is to inspire you with suggestions to avoid a slower summer business season.

* Educate Yourself – Summer is the perfect time to enroll on an online business course (SUNY Oswego has some), a seminar or webinar (Women TIES has a special marketing event on August 9th). You can read books relevant to your industry or begin a mentoring relationship with a leader you admire.

* Take Someone to Lunch – If you are like me and don’t have time any other season to go out to lunch with people who ask, pick up the phone and make some lunch dates. Summer can be the perfect season to coffee dates or meetings.

* Host Your Own Event – Summer is the perfect time to plan a company picnic, lunch and learn program for customers, volunteer for a civic event with your employees or treat your best customers to a special summer concert. Live it up and invite your clients.

* Get Working On a Delayed Project – Have you wanted to start writing a book, organize your office, buy supplies or update your computer? When summer business is slow, set a day each week to accomplish one of your delayed work projects.

*Take Some Time Off for You – I have a long time Women TIES member who takes every Summer Friday off to give herself a break since it is her slow season. It is okay to enjoy time to yourself if everyone else is and you don’t have a long task list. Be deliberate about when you do work and when you take time off so you can be most productive……and relaxed.

Who is Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham?

July 19, 2017

Who is Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham of Women TIES?

After writing this blog for the past 9 years, I thought I would list the “hard facts” and “personal information” about me since I had to fill this out for a new client of mine. If you are looking for inspiration in this post today, you might not find it but you will learn more about me and why I am so passionate about continuing my twenty two years of work to help women. Hey and by the chance if you know Dave Matthews, you could tell him he is mentioned in this post. Think about answering these questions for yourself and sharing them with your followers. People might want to know more about you.

“Hard Facts” – Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham

Nationality?

I am American but very proud to be second generation Italian. My grandfather came to America from Italy when he was 8 years old. He lived one mile from my house so I ate home cooked Italian food every day.Although I am also English and French on my father’s side, I identify being mostly Italian since the Italian traditions had the biggest impact on my life and because I live on tomato sauce – seriously I eat it by the spoon! Although my last name is not Italian, I am in my heart and soul and most certainly in my round face which reminds me of my Italian grandmother who was also born in Italy. My favorite phrase is “Life is too short not to be Italian.”

Place of residence?

I live in Syracuse, New York which is in the center of the state with my husband and two sons Thomas and Adam. Syracuse is 4 hours NW of New York City, 5 hours West of Boston, 5 hours NW of Philadelphia and 4 hours South West of Toronto Canada. We have access to fantastic American cities and yet I live in a smaller city with an abundance of beautiful lakes, green land, rolling hills and a lot of snow in the winter. Syracuse is one of America’s snowiest cities because of all the lakes that surround us. I don’t mind since I’ve been skiing since I was 5 years old. Syracuse is also home to 261 Fearless Founder Kathrine Switzer’s college – Syracuse University – where she was a junior when she ran in the 1967 Boston Marathon that made her a running icon!

Occupation?

I have been a woman entrepreneur for 22 years. I started my first company – an event planning company in 1995 – when my sons were 3 years and 3.5 months old. I become an empty nester officially on August 1st! Before that I worked in higher education planning events around the USA for a local Jesuit college. I created my second and current company Women TIES, LLC (Women Together Inspiring Entrepreneurial Success”) in 2005 to help women entrepreneurs connect across New York State and promote their companies so they can make more money. I am a feminist and love all things WOMEN. I am also oldest of 8 children – the first 6 are girls so I was destined to love females.

Personal Information

What makes 261 Fearless so special for you?

I met Kathrine Switzer fatefully when I typed in the word “fearless” when I was looking for a powerful speaker for my annual business conference. I had no idea who Kathrine was but an article written about her by one of my business acquaintances came up. Fate. I called my friend and asked her to introduce Kathrine to me. Kathrine and I connected immediately over the phone on our feminist feelings about empowering women first and foremost in life. I felt like I found a “sister in feminism” when we spoke over an hour. By the end of the call, she invited me to New York City to the first Train the Trainer. I had to think about it because I was scared of flying because a friend died in one of the 9/11 planes in New York City, but when Kathrine said to me, “Tracy when you are fearless, you’ll be free,” I said, “Yes, I’ll join you.” 261 Fearless literally reminds me every day to be fearless and feel free.

Also in the thousands of women who have crossed my path the past 22 years, Kathrine is the number one woman I believe has done the most to change the world for women in her own way. Number One!

When and why did you start running?

No laughing at this answer……I started ‘running’ in my pool in 1997 when I wanted to lose weight after having my second son but not trusting I would look good running! Silly right? Well I advanced from running in my pool when the snowflakes where starting to fall to running up and down in my house that winter since we couldn’t afford a treadmill or gym membership. When spring came, I started running outside after my cross country sister told me I had good running form. I have never stopped running in 20 years. I run on average of 3 miles a day, every day.

What’s your favorite running course?

Besides my swimming pool (just joking), it is the beautiful trails around Onondaga Lake which is centered in Syracuse. They have trails on both sides of the lake. I must admit now Boston is my favorite running course after running my first marathon there which is also my favorite American city.

What’s your funniest running story?

I think you would agree my pool running is pretty funny! Right?

Who/what has most inspired you to run/do sports?

Both of my parents were physical education and coaching majors who met in College. They graduated in 1963. My mother had to coach boy’s football and wrestling because they didn’t have enough coaches at the time. Her tall 5’1” body towered over her students (laugh). Later in life my father was really my inspiration. I loved him so much I watched and talked sports with him all the time. I can name every NFL football quarterback. I watch ESPN every day. I raised two sons who were talented in basketball and lacrosse just like my dad. I attend sporting events regularly. I am also trying to put more women in the seats of women’s sporting events for equality purposes. I have a Women’ Athletic Network attached to Women TIES. I also believe “Life is too short not to play sports.”

What’s your favorite travel location?

By far my favorite travel location is the beautiful and tranquil Sanibel Island off Florida’s South West coast. My husband and I have vacationed there every year with our two sons since they were 7 and 5 years old. It is tranquil and balmy. It has the most seashells on any beach in the USA. It does not have any traffic lights either. I love it. I run, swim and bike while my guys fish!

What’s your favorite meal?

Do you think it is anything Italian? You are right!

What is something that people would never guess about you?

I appeared on the Oprah Show in 1998 after submitting a tape on how I loved to do daily meditation in the morning outside in my backyard to center myself before I started my business day. I had to send the show tapes of myself meditating – now that is hard to do unless you have a wiz of an 8 year old boy who can take a photo of you meditating. I landed on her show. The local news media picked up the story and wondered out loud how I did daily meditation in my backyard when there was a foot of snow on the ground. Wise guys! 

Who would you choose to be marooned on a desert island with?

Well, I know I am suppose to say my husband and two sons BUT if you knew me well you would know I would pick Dave Matthews! He is the singer for the Dave Matthews Band. I have been a fan of his since seeing him at Woodstock in Rome, New York (my hometown) in 1999. I am listening to him sing as I type this answer. I run to his music every day. I am never ever sick of his music. I ran with it in the Boston Marathon this year. I would love to meet him one day so if I could get stuck with him on a desert island, he could sing to me every day then I wouldn’t be sad without my music. (P.S. – My husband could guess this answer and then he’d marry a non-feminist for his second wife).

And last but not least…

Your claim to fame – Tell us something unique about yourself!

Well I told you about Oprah which is pretty unique and an event people remember. I love Mother Mary and have very deep faith. I ran with my rosary beads around my wrist in the Boston Marathon and said repetitive “Hail Marys” as I turned the bend to see the finish line. I knew if I was praying, I could get to the end and complete my big goal under 6 hours which I did. I never go anywhere without my rosary bead bracelet. I have statues of Mother Mary in many places. I thank my Italian heritage for that love.

I also took 110 women to the Women’s March on Washington because I believe more women should be in political office. I support as many of them as I can until our world had full equality.

How Iconic Are You or Your Business?

July 19, 2017

Business inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs and small businesses

Chicago’s silver Bean sparkled with reflections of visitor’s faces. The Freedom Tower rises 1776 feet tall in the New York skyline. The big green monster is Boston Red Sox’s recognizable sports field. The golden gate bridge stretches one-mile-wide across the seven-mile-long channel between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. These are all iconic images that place you in a certain place when you visualize them.

An icon by definition is a person or thing regarded as a representative symbol of something. The buildings above are representative images from specific cities. As you travel this summer to your favorite vacation locales I’m sure you pass a sign or landmark that informs you are arriving at your destination. One of my favorite signs is the one that greets me as I enter Maine, “Maine, the way life should be.” It is also a favorite slogan my father would recount when he greeted us at the door.

What does someone imagine or say when they envision the name of your company? Do they suddenly envision a specific logo, statement, visual or mission? Marketing specialists would hope so since successful entrepreneurs typically have a recognizable image. Will it be as iconic as the creative buildings speckled across our country? Mostly likely not but have you thought about whether you have or should create an iconic image for yourself or your business?

I used my iconic phrase about Women TIES twice last week; once in my New York State Labor Commission testimony and again around a table of 261 Fearless runners in Chicago. With my pink glasses, I reiterated my feminist motto of wanting women to ‘See Pink. Live Pink. Buy Pink.’ With 5 pairs of pink reading glasses, I wear them to remind myself and others of my personal mission to see inequality towards women and to spend money with women owned companies. I get numerous comments about my glasses and mission every time.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom should immediately make you consider if you have an iconic image? Think about Gloria Steinem for example, what comes to mind when you hear her name? Perhaps there are icons in your industry you immediately identify with and emulate. Could it be you have a specific mission clients use to introduce you to others? What iconic style, words or images belong to you and your business? If you don’t feel you have something identifiable, why not take this beautiful summer day to start creating one.

As I write this inspirational business post with my pink glasses on having just viewed the Chicago Bean and running along Lake Michigan with running icon Kathrine Switzer, known and loved by thousands of people, I hope you are inspired to share the images and words you want tied to you and your company.

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