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Holiday Sales Inspiration For Entrepreneurs

December 12, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom, inspiration, sales strategies for women entrepreneurs, women owned businesses and small companies

If there is one place to be in the world during the holiday season, it is New York City. Whether it’s for a holiday show at the Radio City Music Hall with the Rockettes, ice skating in front of the grand Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center or viewing the gorgeous Saks Fifth Avenue window displays, holiday spirit abounds in the largest city in the world! I remember skating on the glassy ice at Rockefeller Center one day in 1977 when my father brought me and my sister there to experience the wonder. It was just as fun returning this year with my husband who hadn’t seen the city dressed up for the holidays.

As a woman entrepreneur there were so many reminders of ways to approach sales during this time period when everyone is spending money during the highest grossing quarter of the year. Find inspiration today as you live my experience in staring at the elaborate window displays attracting the wealthy into Saks where an average winter scarf is on sale for $350 or from Tibetan men putting bracelets for $20 on spectator’s wrists, including mine, without warning as a way to collect fast money or perhaps like Union Square Holiday Market with a small merchant vendor booth lit at night under twirling white lights with the smell of evergreen and chestnuts in the air.

From high end department stores with lots of glitz and glamour to the small business owners in pop-up huts under the stars, shoppers had their choice of what to buy in every price range and every unique setting possible. We made purchases based on a combination of our holiday shopping list and a whim when we experienced a great salesperson or item that suited our fancy (like New Year’s Eve 2019 glasses for our sons).

So what can today’s Wednesday Wisdom inspire you to do as a woman entrepreneur selling holiday gifts and services with two weeks left until Christmas? Here are some suggestions:

* Get creative – deck your halls and attract customers with beauty and grace.
* Market, market, market – people must know you are selling and what you are selling.
* Get out where people are shopping – move to where you can be in the crowd to sell.
* Create the right atmosphere – light candles, set the stage with twinkle lights, offer hot cocoa.
* Be assertive with selling your products – even if it means placing a bracelet on someone’s wrist.
* Realize not everyone will buy from you – selling means you’ll get declined at times.

This is the time to also prepare your heart and spirit for giving and allowing your faith to be part of this shopping month, as we did visiting St. Patrick’s Cathedral to see the nativity and pray for our loved ones. You can be giving and mindful as well as assertive about selling fantastic products and services you know people will enjoy.

Don’t give up marketing until the clock strikes midnight on December 23rd and then rest and rejoice in the magic of season and also being a great saleswomen who deserves the peace to rejuvenate one’s spirit until the New Year begins!

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Saying Farewell to a Strong Woman

December 7, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs

Sometimes you just don’t throw away reminders of a period of your life because you think you’ll forget the memories, people and lessons. Four months ago, I was reorganizing a draw in my office when I came upon a July 9, 2003 Syracuse Post Standard Business Section newspaper. On the bottom of the full page of our city’s newspaper was an announcement of a new small business column called “Ask The Entrepreneurs” which would tackle small business questions. Next to the title was a photo of three local business women – Ann Marie Stonecypher, Julie Briggs and myself.

The column was an idea by two of us who approached our third woman business friend Ann Marie to join us in the endeavor. We were all tied into small business in Syracuse, New York and thought we had wisdom to share with others. The column would tackle business questions on diverse subjects with unique answers from the three of us. We never answered the question the same way. The column was written by women but addressed issues pertinent to men too although the three of us would have loved it to just relate to women’s issues in business.

It was a period in life when women really needed other women in business friends to succeed in their new entrepreneurial careers. There weren’t many of us at the time and local banks and colleges weren’t interested yet in supporting women entrepreneurs. The “women entrepreneurship market” wasn’t hot 15 years ago. It was just beginning. In those early days, women really needed and depended on other women experiencing the same career pros and cons and sharing the wisdom with each other. This is why the three of us were friends and why we felt the need to write a column in our local newspaper to help other small businesses – especially women running small businesses.

The morning the article appeared in the paper, I called Ann Marie to check on her and ask her if she saw the article since she was in the hospital. I remember her telling me she showed the photo of the three of us to the oncology nurses taking care of her in the hospital explaining, “This is what I really look like.” She was ready for a double mastectomy to rid her body of breast cancer. She had cut her long, signature beautiful, auburn curls from her head anticipating the reaction to chemotherapy after the surgery. Ann Marie was a brave and confident woman who wanted to survive, live and get back to her business and life. I remember being proud of her for the way she handled herself before and after her surgery.

She returned to work and wrote the column with us for many years. Eventually she left the column to focus on her growing business AMS Models. I respected her for being able to walk away from our column to take care of herself and her enterprise. We ran into each other once in awhile at women’s business events. Over the years I heard she battled more health issues but our paths had gone separate ways. I was fortunate to see her a year and a half ago at an event to benefit Maureen’s Hope Foundation, a foundation created by my friend Susan Bertrand, who lost her sister to ovarian cancer. I wished her well and told her I would pray for her.

The last six months since I’ve been battling Alopecia Areata and losing all my hair, I have often thought of Ann Marie and how strong she was shaving off her hair, wearing wigs and not letting anything stop her during her illness. It was difficult to learn this peaceful, cold morning she lost her life. Knowing her spirit, I am positive she fought to the end with the same resolve, strength and hope as she did back in 2003 when I had the chance to know her best. I hope she lays in peace now knowing she has touched the lives of many people, including mine.

Lessons in Leadership – Thank You #41

December 5, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom and Inspiration for women entrepreneurs, women in business, small business leaders

The Google symbol is grey today – not as colorful as it typically is – because of our country’s national day of mourning for George H.W. Bush, our 41st President, whose services are happening now. I appreciate Google’s ability to notify its visitors when something special is occurring.

My thoughts immediately turn to one beautiful fall evening in Kennebunkport, Maine where my father and stepmother lived. My husband and I were celebrating our anniversary in an Italian restaurant called Grissini’s when an entourage of serious looking, larger-than-life men who came in all at once, checked out the venue and returned to the front door. In came Barbara Bush – and we were hoping President Bush – for dinner. She was with a friend and not her husband but from where we sat I could see her lovely white hair over the top of the partition she sat behind.

You can’t visit Kennebunkport, Maine and not drive by the Bush estate, with its brown buildings perched on the craggy rocks jutting up from the ocean. What a splendid place to reside. I can see why they loved visiting their magical New England abode with the deep blue ocean spread in front of their windows. What a treat it was for anyone who caught a glimpse of a Bush family member around town. I am glad I was lucky enough to catch one.

When I think of today’s ceremony for our 41st President, I think of the value of leadership and the sacrifice it takes to be a public leader giving oneself for a cause, population or place. In many cases leaders give up their privacy with the intention of dedicating their lives to something larger than themselves to make a permanent difference in life. Even though President Bush is not a female, and I typically don’t highlight men in my writings, today is a different day as Google so poignantly reminded me.

Leadership can be hard to define and that’s why on days such as today when we mourn a leader of our country, we look back to observe the unique way they established a distinctive direction to lead others forward with their vision, voice and vocation. Leaders can transform a time and place. We are lucky to witness diverse American leaders who motivate us through their actions.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom should have you contemplating the kind of leader you are within your entrepreneurial venture. Are you someone who leads by example? Do you share your vision for a better way of conducting business with others? Can someone easily share your mission and purpose in leadership with others? How do you sharpen your leadership skills?

As the 41st President of the United States lays in rest, never being able to visit his beloved Kennebunkport, Maine home again but only in spirit, I pledge to think of him and the importance of people like him who lead our country forward by giving their life to service of others.

Statue of Liberty Inspiring Women of Today’s Generation

December 4, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs, women in sports and females

The year was 1976 and as Halloween approached I decided to dress up as the Statue of Liberty. I was growing up in Rome, New York, the home of Fort Stanwix which was built in 1776. People from multiple states helped to rebuild and defend the fort during the American Revolution because it served as both a military post and place where people from 13 states forged a national identity. Perhaps ‘freedom’ was in my spirit growing up in a house that dated back to 1762 when our city was vital in our country’s fight for independence.

It wasn’t until 1977 that I visited New York City for the first time seeing Lady Freedom for the first time so my inspiration for the costume must have come from my hometown. As the tourist boat approached the statue one summer day, I remember being afraid of its size hardly being able to look at it. Now forty years later as I tour New York City’s harbor with my two sons who live in Manhattan, I still have a hard time glancing at her since that childhood fear even though I love what she represents.

Tuesday is the day I blog about women’s equality. When I was contemplating subjects, the Statue of Liberty came to mind. I’m not sure why on this cold and snowy day but she did. Then I remembered my tribute to her on Halloween as a sixth grade girl living in an old colonial town. If you know me, you know I love women and what women have done and continue to do for our country. I looked up some facts about this iconic female figure to remind you to fight every day for women’s equality.

Here are just a few things you might not know about Lady Freedom:

* She arrived from France 130 years ago after a vision of her came to her sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi.
* She is modeled after the Roman goddess of Freedom Libertas (a shout-out to my Italian grandfather’s hometown of Rome, Italy and my hometown of Rome, New York).
* Her torch symbolizes enlightment with its official name being “Liberty Enlightening the World.”
* She faces southeast which is how she became a welcoming symbol for ships like the one my Italian grandfather traveled on with his family in early 1900.
*She is barely struck by lightning although she is one of the tallest structures in New York City.

I hope the next time you think about the women who have changed the world with their presence; our beautiful Lady Liberty comes to mind. I also hope she inspires you to enlighten your community, fight for equality and welcome those you know or don’t know with open arms every day.

How Motherhood Effects Women in Sports and Business

December 3, 2018

Monday Motivation, Inspiration and Wisdom for working mothers, women in sports, women entrepreneurs

Becoming a mother is a big decision for any woman especially women in the midst of success in their profession. I remember walking down our country road one day saying to my husband, “We have to have a plan for our first baby because it will effect my professional career.” As much as I loved him, he didn’t get the need to plan so much from a career perspective. I didn’t blame him for it but I had to explain how nine months of pregnancy could affect career advancement, salary raises and my own professional career desires.

So it wasn’t a surprise to me to read an article called “Athlete-Mom Confidential: How the Pros Handle Motherhood.” Recently Serena Williams, US Professional Tennis Player who had her first child in April 2017, spoke openly about the complications that threatened her life after having her daughter, the difficulty she had returning to competitive tennis condition and struggles with postpartum depression. Serena had the spotlight on her outfit, temperament and score when she returned to the courts after giving birth. Women’s bodies do not remain the same after pregnancy and it takes discipline to overcome bodily changes.

Although I am not Serena Williams, I remember trying to get back in shape after having my second son. By the time I had him I was 30 and my body didn’t bounce back as easily as it did after my first son four years prior. I remember when the boys were old enough, running around the outside of our country home to get in my runs since I could see them through a window watching television! It might sound crazy but it worked and I was determined to get back in shape and stay healthy if I could. We didn’t have the money for a treadmill at the time so running outside and keeping one eye on the boys was the best I could do and it worked.

ESPNW surveyed 37 female athletes in an August survey about motherhood, returning to sport and how it changed their lives. One woman said, “I kept my pregnancy a secret for a pretty long time; a couple of the girls that I told first were either moms themselves or I knew they eventually wanted a family, so I confided in them. It’s definitely accepted, but not easy.” Another said, “I thought fans were awesome; you have these rogue elements that are like, ‘What are you doing? Your body will change and your life is ruined,’ but it’s like, ‘No, my life is just beginning.’ It was so fun to share the journey with others.”

Adam, Tracy and Thomas Higginbotham

One of the reasons I became a woman entrepreneur 23 years ago was because I had two sons, a three year old and 3 month old, and wanted to be a mother and working professional. Entrepreneurship gave me the flexibility to be both while using my free time to enjoy sports and partake in outdoor activities with my sons on their schedules. When it came time to watch them play sports in high school, my clients knew I was unavailable during late afternoons during basketball and lacrosse seasons. They didn’t mind because I always completed my work.

Today I hope if you are a woman contemplating how motherhood could change your career, you read this ESPNW article and talk to other working mothers who made the decision and made their lives the way they wanted it to be. I can tell you now with a son who is an Orthopedic Surgical Physician Assistant working in an all woman’s sports practice for a female surgeon, you might just influence your children beyond your own understanding while keeping yourself in the workplace and healthy.

Right now I can go out and run without worrying about my sons being cared for, but I miss those days when I had to juggle work, running and motherhood. If women make their lives the way they want them during motherhood, all the other things we love to do in our careers and lives come right back. Love your life today!

Wednesday Wisdom: Ramp Up Your Cash Flow Entrepreneurs

November 28, 2018

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration and Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Women in Business, and Small Business

The snow is falling lightly outside my window this morning creating the backdrop for my computer as I turn it on. The snow is actually falling at a slower rate than the number of emails it received the last two days with Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday. You might be especially pleased today’s Wednesday Wisdom is only an inspirational message from me to you with thoughts of inspiring you this mid-week business day like I’ve done for fourteen years.

But if you were honest with me, would you admit you wished you sent out a Cyber Monday sales blitz to wrangle in new and old customers or sent a communication piece out if you are a non-for-profit? In fact, current statistics say Cyber Monday raked in a record-breaking $7.8 BILLION and $6.22 BILLION in online sales for Black Friday. There are not statistics yet for Giving Tuesday but last year it raised $274 MILLION in donations. So much for me making you feel better about the Thanksgiving weekend of shopping being over and missing out on it right? I’m sorry but these statistics are too much to pass up if you are a woman entrepreneur looking for ways to increase revenue.

As sure as the snow is falling so are more holiday marketing events to partake in such as President’s Day, Memorial Day, etc. You name it any small business can create any marketing pitch they want if they plan and schedule it. The best time to think about it is now until the end of the year when you are planning for 2019. Take a look at some of the specials that caught your eye this year and store the ideas in a marketing planning document for the New Year.

If you spend time right now – or every day – adding ideas to your sales and marketing calendars you will have enough time to reap the financial rewards soon just like millions of other small businesses. In fact, there is still 26 days or 3 weeks until Christmas to draft and market holiday and 2019 business specials. You just have to stop looking out the window at the beautiful snow to begin.

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to inspirationally whip you into action on creating bright, new sales specials to generate some green stuff in the next three weeks. Have you ever heard of last minute shoppers or bargain hunters? Don’t you already have a marketing platform with email lists and social media marketing sites to promote the bargains? I bet you also have time this week to plan what, when and how you’ll capture more money before the holiday season ends. What are you waiting for – the snow to end?

I promise next week’s Wednesday Wisdom won’t be full of marketing specials IF you get going today on ramping up your holiday sales. But just in case you wish this was only an inspirational piece today – here is the snow falling outside. Enjoy!

The Gifts to You this Giving Tuesday

November 27, 2018

Inspiration and wisdom for women entrepreneurs, women in business, women in sports

Upon bending down to unplug the sparkling multicolor lights on our fresh cut Christmas tree, a soft smell of pine rose in the air. It was so beautiful; I had to lower my head again for another whiff of its fragrance only gracing our house for the next month. The lights with their brilliance and differing hues always catch my eye and its prickliness scratches me when I am too close, but its smell had eluded me until this simple moment.

As I walked out of the room into my dining room, the all-encompassing warmth of my fireplace invited me to stop and rest for a couple minutes for a morning business break. Its rich orange and yellow flames gave me respite within a busy morning of trying to attract more women to an event on Thursday. My body tight from typing too fast, this sliver of heat stopped me in my tracks long enough to appreciate the fact I’m not cold on such a damp day.

When I returned to my desk, I saw many new “Giving Tuesday” requests for donations to support worthy causes, some of them with personal connections and others not. I understand fundraising monies help non-for-profits provide needed services and programs to the national and global community. As I felt sadness about not being able to give to them all, I concentrated instead on two of them which meant the most to me. I was quickly reminded of the $500 donated in my name to the Alopecia Areata Foundation on my November 7th birthday this year and grateful for the donors who contributed on my behalf.

I hope today no matter where you are or what you are doing and whether you are “giving” or not on this new extended Thanksgiving Weekend holiday, you stop to smell the ‘roses’ in your life, feel the warmth of the people involved with it, and be grateful for the generous gifts you ‘give’ year round to the people, customers and causes that mean the most to you.

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