Mompreneurs helps women across Canada find success in their independent business ventures. Each year, the Mompreneurs Conference brings together hundreds of women from around the country for two days of learning, inspiration, networking and celebrating the success of their members. During the Mompreneurs Conference 2017, we had a blast hanging out with Mompreneurs at our GoDaddy booth (selfies were a given).
What did we learn at Mompreneurs Conference 2017?
Here’s a selection of our key takeaways:
- On starting a business
- On time management and productivity
- On branding
- On influencer marketing
- On social media and content curation
On starting a business
Start by solving your own problems. If a solution works for you, it’ll work for others, too. Then, look at the bigger problems you can solve in that area.
Good timing is key. Good ideas often suffer from poorly timed execution.
Know who your customer is. Find your niche. Know who they are; know how you reach them; know how you acquire them; know how you keep them by constantly providing value.
Know your supply chain. This includes any sort of movement of funds and information. How do you collect money? How do you pay your suppliers or vendors? How do you provide your customers with the right information at the right time?
Know your numbers. Confidence comes from knowledge. Doing P&Ls teaches you to understand your business. It’ll make you more confident and comfortable. You’ll create a profitable business because you have control.
Manage and lower your cash flow expectations. Business owners forget about logistics and operational costs. Understand those risks and build in leeway. Lower your expectations on sales, and overestimate your costs and expenses.
Think about your invoicing cycle. Everyone bills at the same time (end of the month). You might have better luck if you ask for payments when others aren’t.
On time management and productivity
— Andy McIlwain (@andymci) March 3, 2017
Set up a family calendar and share it with everyone. Don’t just put items on a to-do list. Schedule your time and stick with your commitments.
Book your “me” time. The time you spend on yourself is just as important as the time you spend on your business and family.
Email yourself the night before. Review your plan for the day ahead and week ahead. Set priorities and put them in front of you.
Keep a tidy workspace. Accumulated documents, post-it notes and other items can and will distract you. Clear your desk every evening.
Have a morning routine. Start your day by taking care of yourself: meditate, exercise, whatever feels right for you. Protect your regimen and re-prioritize your tasks around it.
Find the right tool(s) to help you manage your time. Recommended tools include:
- Salesforce (for sales activities)
- Outlook (for scheduling and saving everything)
- Your phone (effective use after-hours, like learning, social media, face time)
- Any software that lets you share and collaborate (e.g., Microsoft Office)
- Video conferencing for remote teams (e.g., Skype, Zoom, Google Hangouts) to minimize email chains
Know your core competency. What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Take stock every month and outsource what you aren’t good at.
Get a website. Less than 50-percent of Canadian small businesses have websites. It’s a missed opportunity. Your website can help with marketing (e.g., appearing in search results), sales (e.g, collecting leads and inquiries via online forms) and customer service and support (e.g., FAQ).
Build a brand that has a purpose and a message. If you want to lead, you have to be worth following. How are you going to change the world?
Identify the role of your brand in people’s lives. Where do you sit in the hierarchy of needs? Are you selling an essential product or service? Or are you a luxury? What little piece of the world are you trying to influence?
Ask questions to understand the pain your customers are experiencing. We buy for pleasure, but more often, we buy solutions for our pains. How will you connect to that emotionally?
Define what makes you unique. Have confidence in your brand and message. “You gotta go hard.” Talk yourself up. Take what you like, leave what you don’t.
Think about ways to shift the perception of your brand. Lead the category you’re in by redefining it. Look at what everyone else does and do the opposite.
— Mompreneur®Vancouver (@YVRmompreneurs) March 3, 2017
On influencer marketing
Leverage influencers of all sizes. You don’t want satisfied customers — you want raving fans.
There’s a difference between influencers and content creators. Influencers share your message with their audience. Content creators work with brands to produce original content around their products.
Before you engage with an influencer or content creator, understand their metrics. A large volume of followers doesn’t mean you’ll get a lot of engagement.
If you’re positioning yourself as an influencer or content creator, know your worth. Don’t undercut yourself, and don’t let brands discount you. You shouldn’t feel annoyed when working with brands, and you shouldn’t let them micromanage you.
How do you decide on sponsor relationships? It’s a gut check. Is there alignment? Would you actually use the product or service you’re being asked to endorse? Is it really a fit for you?
On social media and content creation
Want to grow a social media following? Be consistent. Publish often. Follow a regular schedule. Publish images and videos. Be fast about it. Your content needs to be quick, shareable and engaging if you want any traction.
Go deep on three platforms to start. Go where your audience is. If they’re not on a certain platform, don’t use it.
Develop a communication plan. Know your culture (the mission you’re on), your community (your audience and how they communicate) and your conversation (the value you can bring to the community).
What about content editing and production? Hit up local colleges to bring on unpaid interns. This gives them a real-world learning experience. Scale up and pay them as your revenue grows.
Do it yourself in the beginning. Even if you have a lot of money, there’s value in knowing the experience and getting your hands dirty. Just do it. There are plenty of tutorials on YouTube. Get over the fear of putting yourself out there.
Don’t forget about accessibility. Subtitles, on-screen graphics, and other visuals help to make your content device and audio agnostic.
Everything changes. You need to be agile and flexible to survive. The platforms, the technology, your opinions, your methods. Try things out. Consumers move quickly. Your ability to react quickly is an advantage over big businesses.
— Mompreneurs® (@TheMompreneurTM) March 4, 2017
Bonus: Amber Mac’s top 10 tools under $100
At the end of her talk, Amber recommended the following tools. They all cost less than $100 together, and they should come in handy in your social media and content creation efforts:
- Namecheck.com — to see if your name’s available on social media sites.
- Buffer — for scheduling social media posts.
- Facebook Blueprint — free webinars for small businesses.
- Canva — for creating beautiful images.
- BuzzSumo — to see what content is getting shared (and who’s sharing it).
- Rev — to transcribe and add captions to your videos.
- PicMonkey — for touching up photos and headshots.
- Twitter Media Studio — for PR outreach.
- Sniply — to add a CTA on top of shared content.
- Portent’s Content Idea Generator — for blog posts.
And last but not least … Congratulations to all the Mompreneurs of the Year finalists!
— Teach Me Social (@teachmesocial) March 4, 2017
And a special congratulations to Dana Shortt of Dana Shortt Gourmet & Gifts, winner of the 2017 Mompreneur of the Year. We had a blast hanging out with you all at #MompConf, and we can’t wait to see you again in 2018.
Until next time!