Five tips for creating a website that tells your story

It is always easier to tell someone else’s story. No wonder people have gossiped for centuries. Talking about someone else is the easy part!

Telling our own story can bring up all kinds of what if’s, not now’s, moments of intense clarity balanced with harrowing bouts of self-doubt. We know; we get it, we just went through it!

Here are some tips we swear by (not that we swear often but sometimes it just happens).

Unlearn boring– this is not the time to play it safe. You can stand out in the marketplace by simply not being boring and telling your own story! There are a zillion boring sites out there. Not being one of them is easier than you think. We are crying out to be fascinated by your story and someone did all the hard work to find you on the endless world wide web so don’t disappoint – it the worst kind of lunch bag let down. No excuses either, it does not matter what industry you are in. Trust me no one wants boring. If Tangerine could make banking seem fun and fresh, and turn a rather stodgy industry on its head so can you! (I mean whoever thought a bank named after my favourite food would be a success!)

Do the hard work. The hard work has nothing to do with fonts, colour palletes or menu bars. Those are important but you don’t have a chance of getting that right if you don’t do the hard work first. What is the hard work? Getting your story straight!! You have known since you were a teenager that not getting your story straight lands you in hot water.

Get started by answering these 3 questions:

  1. Here is the big one – What is your purpose?Why do you do what you do? What is your legacy? What is your impact for social good?

Let your heart and soul answer this question.

  1. What do you do? Here is a hint: this question is never answered with a product number or SKU and the answer has nothing to do with you. After all, we are a rather “me-first centered world”. We actually care less about the product than you might imagine. Because likely someone else has the same or what seems to be a similar type of product. If you can show me that your “what” is exactly what matters to me today, right now and in the future – you have my attention.

Let your visionary, vulnerable self answer this one.

  1. How do you do what you do? You are not like anyone else. DNA proved that long ago so shine a light on your weirdness and show me that your weirdness is just what I need. Let your brand personality fascinate me.

To get at your “How” answer this question: how do you value the bonds between you and your bestie clients or customer?

Let your ‘brave, self aware’ version of yourself answer this.

Answering these 3 questions forms a benevolent triad. Benevolent triads are steeped in trust.

Trust is the cornerstone of sustainable business.

So let it rip.

Be irresistible; show us your why, your what and your how. Live your story, the one no one else can live. Trust me we are gonna love you for it!

Mentoring works. Plain and simple.

We have just wrapped up the 6 month Mentoring For Growth program for WESK.I had the honour of designing and facilitating the program.

Sometimes something just hits you between the gut and the heart and you know that something big just happened. Well something big happened.

18 audacious, bright, committed, open hearted women business owners gathered once a month committed to growing their business and helping others to do the same.

And grow they did.

From the first meeting the boardroom at Path Cowork buzzed with the air of possibility.

Each monthly 2 hour session included some pre work, a guided framework for discussion and then break-out sessions that got to the heart of what each business owner needed help with now. Participants were both mentor and mentee, drawing on the collective wisdom and support of the group.

We were inspired by guest speakers who are out there now making their way and growing their own businesses. We heard about their challenges, triumphs, missed opportunities, and their ‘what is next’ dreams. How could we not love up that kind of inspiration! We soaked up their advice, their energy and their encouragement.

Some big goals were set back in January and in June we toasted our achievements: e-commerce sites were launched, expansions happened, strategic plans put in place, operations fine-tuned, taxes were paid, clarity, alignment and focus happened. Confidence happened.  And baby Leo was born!

And we are just as excited about the challenges ahead because we know there are 18 strong women who have our back and are cheering us on as we figure it out.

For the last session we asked each participant to share one piece of advice and a book that inspired them. This will be passed along to the next Mentoring for Growth session that begins in September.  Weaving the spirit, hopes and dreams of this session into the next. Quite a beautiful way to demonstrate that supporting each other in business is a movement not just a program.

Mentoring works. Plain and simple.

I was very humbled by this fabulous opportunity. I have always believed in the philosophy that it takes a village to raise a child and I certainly believe that it takes a village to raise a business.

I am so thankful for this village and I hope you find your own village that supports you as you build your business. A special shout out to Mona Bates the WESK manager who makes things happen! Her commitment to the ideals of this program, her calm and steady “we’ve got this” attitude is what put those 18 women business owners in the room every month. Her leadership bravely built this community and that is indeed something to be thankful for.

You Can’t Fake Purpose

What a conundrum: we live is such a transparent world that often seems anything but transparent.

Social media has allowed us to see more than we want to see about people, companies and brands. If you or your company are not walking the talk someone will notice and likely call you out. That can scare brands away from being who they really are.

Fake news, fake Insta, fake FB. We are tired of all of it. A culture of impatience and a hunger to impact the greater good is surging.

And that is where the opportunity lies.

Brands that are purpose driven don’t hide. You can’t fake purpose and why would you? In repeated surveys and on every measure of business success, purpose driven brands outperform brands that either are not purpose driven, or cannot communicate their purpose.

Brave brands stand up for their why and are rewarded for it.

Is purpose driving your business?

Are you Resolute on Resolutions?

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Do you write them down? It is a question that either has people rolling they eyes or lighting up. There is no right or wrong reactions or thoughts.

I fall in the camp of absolutely loving to write down my resolutions.

Any kind of fresh start gets me going (I actually feel the same way each September too).  I have however learned a few things along the way: working out seven days a week is likely not sustainable ;). Making so many resolutions that I can’t remember them also doesn’t work.

For me, the years that I make a practice of writing down my goals, they seem to be more focused.  Science agrees with this fact. It turns out only 8% of people write down their goals for the year and by writing them down it helps our brain to “encode the process” and there is a greater chance of them being remembered and acted on.

If you write down your goal or resolution you have a 95% higher chance of achieving them. Why is that?

  1. Written goals bring you clarity and focus.
  2. They keep you on track.
  3. You become more motivated to take action.
  4. You are focused on what is important to you – answering the “why” you want to achieve this goal is key.

A few other key tips on goal setting or resolution making:

  1. Vividly describe your goals and picture them. Use a vision board, draw, doodle clip from magazines, any kind of visual commitment works.
  2. Write down your goals each week in your day planner or on your electronic calendar. It sounds labour intensive but this takes less than five minutes. Are your goals worth five minutes a week? If you really want to up the ante for achieving your goals say them out loud as you write them.
  3. Hold yourself accountable – there are many apps to help you do this. I love as there is something about getting my own words back to me in my own inbox that kind of freaks me out – in a really good way! Sometimes I am “wiser” than I think and sometimes not so much, lol! But it really does focus me.
  4. Make your goals sustainable and ensure they reflect your own reality, and define what your reality is.
  5. Break your goals into small achievable bite size pieces that are date sensitive.
  6. Gratitude can also be a difference maker. Being thankful improves your patience and lowers stress all of which can prevent us from reaching our goals.

The greatest resolution I made that I will be making again this year (it’s okay to repeat your resolutions) is to erase from my lexicon the expression “where does the time go”.  I want to know where the time goes! After all it is my time! I want to say “Hey, you know what January, yes, I know exactly what I did with you. I did not misplace you like a lost toque. I spent you. I totally used you up, no judgements on how you spent it, just know that you spent it. That feels empowering to me.

Are you ready to put your 2019 on paper?

Closing the Gender Entrepreneurship Gap

I have been part of this number for 25 years. It has not always been an easy ride. Trust me, it is a ride with twists, turns, steep climbs, sweeping descents, sweet victories and buckets of good humour. I am pretty sure that is why I love it so much. (But don’t ask me to ride a roller coaster!)

I like to think that in most things in life I am gender neutral. That entrepreneurs should be supported equally, and yet there is staggering research to indicate that the gender entrepreneurship gap is real. Do you feel that?

As a woman, I had some challenges, including the day the bank manager literally patted me on the head and told me to go back home and to stop dreaming about such a big loan! Needless to say his inability to share my vision was the end of our banking relationship. Taking no for an answer does not come easily to me. Smiling brightly as our sales surpassed our dreams (and his) did!

According to a WESK document called “Closing the Economic Gender Gap”, women are siting funding, lack of knowledge and experience as their barriers to success.

That is something we can do something about!

I am very dedicated to seeing entrepreneurship grow and be a profitable alternative for all women. To me, entrepreneurship is a movement that is not only about women running profitable businesses but also about women being in control of their destiny.

In 2011, an RBC report indicated that the aggregate contribution of women owned businesses in Canada was an estimated $148B. That is how economies get changed! And I want to be at the forefront. How can you close the economic gap and support a woman entrepreneur?

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