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Opening a Door to Open Your Future

June 1, 2017

Inspiration for women entrepreneurs, small business, female business owners

As I walked through the back door of my house onto my lawn today, I was hit by the beautiful light of morning. For a moment I felt like Dorothy from “The Wizard of Oz” who had opened the door of a black and white existence to the brilliance of Oz. All of a sudden a hue of rainbow colors washed the screen, brightening the way for Dorothy to step out into unknown territory. This morning’s sun washed light over me the same way.

Living in New York State so far this spring has been like living back in Dorothy’s old farmhouse in the Midwest … bleak, grey, void of color. On a morning like today when the sky is blue again, the grass glistening green and the purple irises in full bloom, one appreciates what color can bring to the spirit – joy, hope, happiness, and contentment.

If you’ve been an entrepreneur for awhile, you know periodically business feels like being stuck in a grey environment. Nothing brilliant or new is streaming in the door, the finances can look quite bleak, and our energy level can be sucked out of us like the violent winds of a tornado. Whether you know it or not, the only way to move past the darkness is to open a door and step into a new place. It might be time for you to create some new colors in your business life, to renew your spirit, purpose and corporate mission.

Today’s blog post is meant to have you stop for a moment, look outside your window, relish the bright hues and sense how you feel. If you feel lighter, happier and more energetic, than use that sense to spill more of it into your business. Are there new products or services you’ve meant to launch? Are there new customers you should be meeting with? Are there other businesses you could be working with? Opening up a new door with a new business, innovative idea, new client or new creative vendor could be just want you need to bring color back into your business.

Before the rain returns again, I hope you enjoy the beauty of today and let it fill your mind and spirit with fresh new ideas to start implementing in your company. Open the door and walk into a more brilliant and colorful future. Today’s the perfect day to do it

Wednesday Wisdom: Women Getting Paid Their Full Value

May 31, 2017

Business advice for women, businesswomen, and female entrepreneurs

As I prepare to be on WCNY’s Insight television program talking about pay inequality facing women entrepreneurs, I conducted research on the topic. If you are alive and a woman with a generation of mothers and grandmothers, you know women haven’t earned the same income as men. We never have and frankly I wonder if we ever will. Being asked to discuss this topic from an entrepreneurial perspective, I wanted to be really prepared to not only give my reasons for working hard for women’s pay equality through Women TIES but what other studies discovered.

As I read the reasons business women earn less than men over their lifetime, it made perfect sense as I viewed my personal choices in the rear view mirror to serve as an example. Read and see if these reasons resonate with you.

* When I was due to give birth to my first son, I planned on returning to a 40+ week job until the moment I was faced with buying diapers to give to a babysitter to change him (and in my mind raise him). I returned to work and within two months created a part time job for myself at work so I could be with him more. I choose to lower my salary and diminish my retirement savings. I do not regret the decision. It was mine to make.

* When I tried selling my first ever entrepreneurial job and the person on the other end of the phone asked my hourly rate, I stuttered,”Um….$40 an hour?” I was not prepared to answer that question. My first real business contract was actually at $25 per hour since I downgraded my value based on not being able to answer the phone question. 3 years later after doing a full business plan, I raised my rates.

* After being asked to create a 4 day event from scratch with sponsorship levels, marketing exposure and staffing, I added up the hours multiplied by my hourly rate. I ended up decreasing the final price before talking to the client because it “seemed like too much money.” For whom was it too much? The client ended up with a $5,000 profit and weren’t willing to share the profits with me. If I priced right, the profit would have been mine.

An article I read on this subject proved what my examples just proved to you that women entrepreneurs pay themselves less than their male counterparts. The sentence that stood out was, “Systemic views on what it is like to be paid as a woman reach beyond what employers choose to pay her, and into the cognitive views society has placed on women for what she perceives is her full value.”

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom must inspire you at this moment to ask one simple (but loaded) question,”Do I get paid what I am worth?” In other words, are you charging what you think “YOU” are worth or what your position, expertise, experience, education, and the marketplace says you are worth? When was the last time you researched what entrepreneurs (not just women) in your profession are earning? Women tend to do market research when they start or update their business plans but not frequent enough.

I challenge you today to start valuing yourself more and asking the best price you should get for your talent level. You are worth so much more, so charge more.

Wednesday Wisdom: Rediscover What Unites Us

May 24, 2017

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

The headlines were full this morning with news from both ends of the emotional spectrum. On one end was the glee of winners from Dancing with the Stars and The Voice with balloons dropping, smiling faces, and victorious emotions. The other end of the scale was the solemn faces of parents, friends and relatives of the victims of the Manchester Concert bombing with images of crosses, tears and resolve. Although you might not think it, the word triumphant could be used for both images.

Triumphant by definition means having won a battle or contest. This morning’s television contest winners definitely won their competitions and the people of Manchester England are hoping to triumphant over the evil that visited their community like so many other communities have done across the globe. Jubilation in the midst of an immediate triumph is seen in the first image and steadfastness and an eventual triumph is seen in the second visual. Whether people are facing bad or good times, there is always a sense of triumph carrying them through.

As New York City Cardinal Timothy Dolan said in a conversation with Chris Cuomo on New Day this morning, “Communities need to rediscover what brings them together.” As always the quote hit me in an entrepreneurial sense since I’m always looking for entrepreneurial wisdom in the ordinary expression of life. What that quote meant to me was that I want all the women who belong to our great New York State organization or follow us to feel triumph in both a jubilant and serious way at times but to also rediscover the sisterhood our organization presents to create a stronger, positive community for women running their own companies.

Don’t forget you always have sister entrepreneurs in your own cities, across this state and even across the globe hoping for your success and willing to support you in your business endeavors. If there is one thing I want to do more this year is to pull together more members in intimate or smaller groups to truly connect and “rediscover” each other in a more meaningful way to strength the “ties” that bind us.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom should inspire you to rediscover this sisterhood Women TIES has created whether it’s through live events, blog posts, social media connections or our buying directory. I encourage you to embrace all that Women TIES is and should be for you. It might mean coming together more often at events, like the crowds gathering together in good times and bad, to emotionally connect and bond towards a common cause. Our common cause is strengthening our financial ties and economic relationships so we have our own gallery of people cheering us on or supporting us during difficult times.

Don’t let a social or educational opportunity pass without contemplating the energy you can gain from the crowd of women gathered together. Women are the best sources we have for making it in this world.

3 Pieces of Advice When Customers Say Good-Bye

May 23, 2017

Wisdom, advice and wisdom for entrepreneurs, small companies and female business owners

As a cruise ship pulls away from a dock loaded with passengers setting off on a voyage, friends and family wave goodbye and cheer them on. When loved ones are departing from an airport, well wishes abound as family send them off on their journey. Even at funerals, a respectful adieu is bid by those who once knew the person who passed away. Ending any relationship with the proper words and demonstrations of good will are necessary for both parties in every situation in life.

In business, we must think about ending all our relationships as good as we can with utmost respect for the customer relationship we have developed. When I owned my event planning business where clients lasted on average 9 years with my company, I was not accustomed to departing clients, but with Women TIES a business that offers and renews yearly memberships, I needed to adapt to more frequent goodbyes based on the volume of members alone. Getting use to dealing with endings has become more regular in my business life today.

I have learned to focus on some key strategies to keep my eyes focused on my customers and myself that I hope help you the next time this situation arises to you:

* Remember a client is a client until the final moment a contract, service agreement or relationship ends. No matter how soon you might want to get out of a connection to a customer, you should respect the business and the agreement and offer assistance until the moment the contract expires.

* With emotions set aside, review the work and money you collected from the customer analyzing the positive influence the business relationship had on your company and bottom line. Don’t let emotions influence the business association you had by ending the relationship or work for the client too early. One wrong decision can negatively influence this customer’s testimonies to others.

* Not every business affiliation works out perfectly. Every entrepreneur faces criticism and insensitive judgment over their career. Make sure to walk away from any good or bad relationship with lessons learned and ways to improve or change future business bonds with other customers or vendors.

It’s important to make sure when you say “goodbye” to a customer you treat them with the same enthusiastic fanfare as the crowds near the cruise ship wishing them safe passage into their future. It’s the best thing to do for both them and you.

Entrepreneurs and Businesses Can “Graduate” Every Monday

May 22, 2017

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

People think of Mondays in various ways. Entrepreneurs jump for joy knowing the week brings unlimited revenue potential or grimacing at their “to do list.” Recent graduates, like my son, went off to work instead of learning in college since his studies are done. My husband strolled off to work wishing he had one more weekend day to fish. After witnessing many collegiate graduations since May began, I challenge every working person – woman entrepreneur or not – to think about “graduating” from the bleakness of a Monday morning to one of unlimited possibilities.

Graduating to most people is related to finishing an educational milestone but it also means to ‘move upward from one level of activity to another.’ It also means to arrange, modify, adapt or adjust. I love these other definitions of graduate/graduation because I have found it essential as a two decade business owner to always use Mondays to arrange my goals, meetings and plans for the week. Sometimes we have to adapt or adjust our normal schedule if a client demands action or if we land a new project. Other times Monday morning is a good time to set higher goals for ourselves and increasing activity in a certain business category.

Here are a few “graduating” tasks you could do today that mirror my own “course load,”

* Create a list of 5 essential tasks and do them first not last when your enthusiasm has dwindled
* Review your past client list and pick 3 old customers to reach out to about new business
* Start a new client contract first thing in the morning to get your sales blood flowing
* Make 5 phone calls to existing clients to wish them a good work week (that’s all)
* Create an event for your company instead of just signing up for one
* Promote someone else on social media Monday morning not yourself
* Sign up for a new business course, hire a coach or sign up for after work athletics

I challenge you today to graduate from the common routine to a new routine every Monday morning giving yourself a fresh breath of air and feeling of accomplishment just like recent graduates have felt. We can graduate from the normal business routine anytime we need to or just before we think we do!

A Special Woman of the Week Interview – Policewoman, Entrepreneur & Community Member

May 18, 2017

Last year I stood on stage in front of 150 women and karate chopped through a piece of wood. No one was more amazed then I was that is worked. The video of me performing this feat can be seen on my YouTube page. If you check it out you’ll see my amazement and that of the crowd.

One of the women instrumental in helping me achieve this goal is this week’s Women TIES Woman of the Week Victoria Baratta of Team Fiedt. Not only is she a karate instructor she is also a retired police woman and now an entrepreneur. She is a fascinating woman like so many of the women I get a priviledge to meet and connect with as the owner of Women TIES, Women’s Athletic Network and Women’s Equality Division. Women are amazing and Victoria is no exception. Today read more about her in this short interview. We both hope her success strategies help you in business.

Women TIES: You are one amazing woman. Tell our readers a little bit about your professional background as a policewoman.

Victoria: Thank you! I proudly served as a Syracuse Police Officer for 28 years. I worked in several different areas within the department (Patrol, Community Relations, Investigations Division) but my favorite position on the department was as a patrol officer. Before I retired, I was a Youth Gang Specialist. It was fun, fulfilling and sometimes very sad. During my career, I saw things that people should never have to see, and dealt with situations that no one should ever have to deal with. On the other hand, some experiences were truly life changing in a positive way.

I met some of the best people I will ever meet in my life, and I am still friends with most of them. The camaraderie felt in doing this job made us feel like a huge family. I knew then, and I know now that anywhere I go, I am a member of a huge, loving and caring law enforcement family. The people that I bonded with weren’t only my fellow police officers, but also community members that I had the pleasure to meet and/or work with. I was tasked to be put in a position where I would see people at their worst and then some at their best. It was truly a blessing to be able to help people and effect change for people that needed that assistance. It hurts me at times to see and hear some of the sentiment that people have toward police. We go where they can’t, we do what they won’t. If not for us – then what?

They hate us because we arrest people – but our job is to protect and serve. We only do what we do to make the world a better place for everyone. Yes, there are bad apples in every bunch… But that goes for every profession. I swore to uphold the laws and protect the citizens and that’s what I did… I am proud of the job I did, but I am also glad to not have to do it anymore. It was great, but times are changing, and it was time for me to move on and fulfill my personal goals and dreams. I have realized that I am the kind of person that has to help others… I am still doing this even as a retired police officer.

Women TIES: What motivated you to become a woman entrepreneur after you left the police force?

Victoria:
I have always wanted to work for the best boss ever – ME! I always thought that you either needed to have large amounts of money or good connections to fulfill a goal like this. After having the security of a pension, I gained courage to step out of my comfort zone and find the business that I had always longed to have. I realized that I didn’t need to have huge amounts of money to start my own business. I found this business by accident. But when I found it I knew it was for me. I was at the right place at the right time, and the more I learned about this business, the more I knew I had to do it. I want to set an example for my children and other women, that you can have anything you want as long as you are willing to work for it. Living a good successful life means setting goals and achieving them. Staying focused on your goal is how you reach them. I want to build a team of women that also want to start their own business. I am ready to help them reach their goal of entrepreneurship and give the same support back that I received.

Women TIES: There are many jewelry vendors women can choose from so please tell us what is unique about Grace & Heart Jewelry.

Victoria: Grace and Heart is pure sterling silver (.925 sterling) – no nickel, no lead. The jewelry has a life time guarantee, and is truly gorgeous. It is as authentically beautiful and artfully individual as the women that wear it. It isn’t costume jewelry, it’s classic, creative and handcrafted. The pieces are made of sterling silver, semiprecious stones, pearls and brass. Our organization focuses on bringing people together to fulfill dreams, build businesses and create a sisterhood that supports women in achieving their goals and dreams. We don’t just sell jewelry, we also mentor, train and build a community.

Women TIES: Is the only way to order jewelry from you through a website or are there other ways?

Victoria:
You most certainly can order from my website, or we can have a get together one afternoon or evening where we share a little down time trying on the beautiful pieces and laughing with friends (while you earn free jewelry).

Women TIES: What lessons have you learned with your “job” as a woman entrepreneur selling jewelry that you never had to deal with as a police woman?

Victoria:
I learned that as working women and/or working moms, we never put ourselves first. We are always putting our families, our job, or our children before our own needs. We deserve some downtime to just be. We need to find that space in our lives where we can enjoy the company of friends, to laugh or share experiences and support one another. As I entered this business, I found that I didn’t enter it alone. The women in Women Ties were here to guide and advise me, and help me achieve my goal. I felt supported by the women I have met thru this organization, and I know that all I have to do is reach out and they will be there willing to share information, answer a question, or meet me for a glass of wine when needed! When I started on the police dept., there were only a handful of women. The male officers were not there to help me adjust to the life of a police officer. The initial transition into police life wasn’t met with support. Not a welcoming experience. Transitioning into the life of a woman entrepreneur I have found nothing but support, guidance and friendship. I feel that they are happy to help each other succeed and this has been a welcoming experience.

Women TIES: I know you also teach karate to help women with self protection. Can you tell our readers why self defense is important and how they can find out about your programs?

Victoria: Yes, I teach karate and Krav Maga. I feel that being able to defended yourself is essential in building a confident, assertive woman. My daughter started karate when she was 7, and my son when he was 4. I look at them as compared to other children their age and i realize that they have skill sets that are uncommon for people their age. They are confident and believe in setting goals and achieving them. Knowing that you can protect yourself in a bad situation, allows you to walk with a confidence that lets others know you are not a victim. In this day and age, it is important – especially for girls and women, to be mentally strong and confident and to know that you can have anything you are willing to work hard for. You are not anyones property and should not allow yourself to be treated in such a way. Being able to protect yourself and/or your family is important at this time in our country. I teach karate and krav maga at Impact Martial Arts and Fitness, on Rte. 57 in Liverpool, NY. They can look for our Krav Maga self defense program at cnysafetyexperts.com – come in and take a free class, attend a seminar, join us and discover your inner strength.

Women TIES: What are the 3 success strategies you live by?

Victoria:

1. Pray – I pray because I’m thankful for all that is good in my life. I feel blessed to have the family I have, the amazing people I have surrounded myself with, and my good health.
2. Take care of yourself – you have only one body. Eat healthy, exercise.
3. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated. Make eye contact and smile at EVERYONE that passes you by. You never know who that person may be, or what they may be going thru. Your smile and kind greeting may be the only kindness they experience that day.

Women TIES: How can someone reach you to find out more information about you and Grace and Heart?

Victoria: Find me on Facebook – Victoria Baratta, Independent Sales Consultant with Grace & Heart, Facebook messenger – @GraceandHeartVic. Website – http://www.mygraceandheart.com/vbaratta/

Monumental Moments in Business and Life

May 17, 2017

Inspiration, advice and wisdom for women entrepreneurs and small businesses

Blue. Orange. Tall. Short. Tassels. Gowns. Diplomas. Smiles. Cheers. Hope.

These are some of the sights and sounds of the Syracuse University 2017 Graduation ceremonies I witnessed over the weekend to celebrate my youngest son’s launch out of collegiate life into a brave new world of career and independent living. It took four long dedicated years filled with doubt, success, steps forward, steps backward, frivolity, seriousness, friends, books and mentors. If you think about it, as entrepreneurs we could paint ourselves into that same story.

Monumental milestones occur a few times in our lifetime including being born, graduating from high school, making it onto a sporting team, being chosen for honor society, choosing our career path(s), getting married, having children, and even starting a business (or two). Perhaps our life has 50 significant celebratory moments out of tens of thousands of minutes in our lifetime, so making the most of them is essential to our spiritual and mental health.

As many of the women in our organization embark on their own milestones of age, years in business, revenue plateaus, new business store locations, innovative product lines, and award recognition, stop like I did and illuminate your mind with the images of that success milestone. Recently my Boston Marathon moment included these images – women. hugs. friendship. miles. cheering. pain. elation. support. success. finish line.

If you had to write down ten words to describe your last significant moment of achievement what would they be? Are they related to your business success or personal success? Did you do it alone or with support? Who was with you in the accomplishment? What emotions did you experience? What happened that you did not expect? Write down the ten images that come to your mind followed by a period until you have ten in a row and then “study them.”

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you that every day might not be a milestone day but if it is we must acknowledge it and recognize the achievement. We move too fast through 24 hours, 7 days a week without stopping to notice the moments that can fill us up with pride, hope and accomplishment. Whether big or small goals, reaching them is meant for applause if even from ourselves for the hard work done and goal accomplished.

Today I want you to be both the graduate and the person applauding your success. You can be, and do both.

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