Planning for success


We’re already at the half-way mark of the month of October! The last quarter of the year always seems to go much faster than the first three for some reason. Sometimes I wonder if it’s just me because I always feel the need to end the year with a bang😉

One of the things on my current to-do list is to complete my plan for 2017. In the last 5 years or so, I have dedicated time in the fall to reflecting on the present year as well as putting together the plan for the upcoming year. I’m sure we’ve all heard it said that a goal without a plan is just a dream. I know that I personally haven’t been able to accomplish anything of real significance without a plan to make it happen.

Whether everything went according to that plan is a completely different story! If there’s anything I’ve learned in planning my goals and helping clients with their own, it’s that things rarely go exactly as planned. The reason for this is that we make the plan with a limited understanding of what’s possible, no matter how open minded we are. As we take action on our goals, receive guidance from others and test the waters, we learn new things that often alter the course, but never the final destination.

An important part of the plan for me is taking the time to celebrate our accomplishments to-date. We can sometimes downplay the progress we’ve made because we’ve set such high expectations of ourselves. I know from personal experience that it’s when we take the time to acknowledge the small wins that we can focus our energy on attracting even bigger ones.

Planning before the start of the year helps us set the tone for 2017. With an established plan now, we know exactly what to do when the New Year starts! It also gives us the opportunity to share our plan with people we know will support you and hold you accountable. It’s about really setting ourselves up for success, not only with the creation of the plan, but making sure that we have everything and everyone we need in place to support us in achieving our goals.

Take the time to start planning your New Year. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did! This doesn’t have to be a chore; you can have fun with it. Plan a girls’ night in and make vision boards. Do a family exercise where everyone shares one thing they want to achieve for the year and everyone brainstorms (in a positive supportive way) different options to make those goals a reality! Planning for 2017 is about creating your future, what can be more exciting than that?

If you want some support in creating your plan for the New Year, join me the weekend of November 11-13 for the Jump Start Your Year Retreat in Blue Mountain! Visit for more information.

Sandra Dawes is a certified life coach specializing in helping women who feel unfulfilled with their 9-5 follow their dreams and pursue their passions. She holds an Honours BA, an MBA as well as a certificate in Dispute Resolution. She has completed her first book,Embrace Your Destiny: 12 Steps to Living the Life You Deserve!


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Don’t Do Marketing & PR… Until you can answer these 5 questions


Marketing & Public Relations (AKA PR) should be an important part of your outreach strategy. After all, PR is defined as interacting with your public, and you need to do that to communicate your brand message to your audience. If you’re not trying to communicate with your audience, you are relying too heavily on the “if you build it they will come” strategy. In a world of social media and other online channels as well as all of the visual and informational bombardment on a day-to-day basis face-to-face, there is too much noise in the marketplace to wait for someone to notice you. You need to initiate the connection.

It can be tempting to jump on the first opportunity you see to get your brand “out there” without thinking too much beyond that you just want people to see you. However, just because it is the latest and greatest idea doesn’t mean it is the right one for your business.

You have a lot of options available to you when it comes to marketing and PR. The challenge for you as a small business owner is to pick the right options that will give you the highest return on your investment (of time AND money!).

Here are a few things you need to get straight before you jump on that latest and greatest idea you came across:

  1. What do you do? Be able to identify in detail what product or service you are selling.
  2. Who would be interested in what you have to offer? When you can answer this question, you will have identified your target audience.
  3. Why would your target audience want what you have to offer? This is an important step often skipped by entrepreneurs who are launching a business. You need to be able to articulate – in writing and when you are speaking to people – what makes your product/service so great. Along the same lines, identify what sets you apart from your competitors.
  4. Where does your target audience congregate? Do a bit of research to find out where they get their information from, what organizations they belong to, their social media habits, and what their buying habits are.
  5. What are your goals? Once you have identified who you are and who would be interested in what you have to offer, you need to set goals so you can identify what a successful marketing & PR campaign would look like for you. Is it sign ups? Website traffic? Awareness?

Once you have answered these five questions, you can sit down and use the information to decide what kind of marketing & PR strategy you should run. Your audience and your goals will dictate what channels you use to reach out and your product/service offering and differentiators will help you determine what type of content and messaging to use on each channel.

While it means you need to invest more time in the beginning to help set yourself on the right track, it is worth it in the long-term.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.

Connect with Candace


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Six Degrees of Separation


Many years ago Will Smith, prior to his Men in Black days, starred in a movie called “Six Degrees of Separation.” I remember at the time thinking it was a pretty good movie and memorable. In a pre social media world it was a social commentary on how small the world around us really is and how we are all connected. After two recent incidences involving people with whom I was interviewing or working with, it struck home once again how connected we are. In one, I interviewed a woman who it turned out, actually knew the publisher of the magazine for whom I was working. In the other, the mother of one of my daughter’s besties invited me to attend an event featuring her old high school buddy – whom it turned out I’d had the pleasure of meeting to discuss business with just one week prior.  In the words of a song “it’s a small world after all.”

What these experiences emphasized to me is the ongoing theme of the importance of networking. It seems to be something universally loved or hated.  For some it’s intimidating, others see it as too “salesy” and still others both love and embrace the challenge of walking into a room full of strangers and starting a conversation.  Regardless of where you stand on the issue, if it’s of any comfort to the haters, invariably I would argue that within just a few minutes at any event, chances are you will connect with someone who knows someone who knows you. It makes having a conversation easier as you discuss your mutual common interests. It also means we truly are all connected and that’s why the value of networking and a willingness to act as a referral source for one another, cannot be overstated.

What six degrees of separation also means to me is that more often than not, networking often doesn’t take place at a networking event at all. Rather, it is when you are “out and about” in the world at large, conducting business, working, or attending a charitable event. Heck, it even happens in hockey arenas and over the bleachers at your kids soccer game. Networking is about relationships. Period.

Here’s what I mean: In the example of the subject of my magazine article, not only did she know the publisher (helping cement our burgeoning business relationship) but the more I chatted with her, the more it became clear how we could be of service to one another.  I knew several people that might be in a position to help the organization with whom she was working and she in turn was able to put me in contact with a great potential opportunity for my future development. That’s networking in action and we weren’t even at a networking event, just having a coffee while she shared her story with me.

Networking isn’t about handing out as many cards as you possibly can – it’s about fostering a relationship with others, getting to know them on a personal level and even if you aren’t in a business that is mutually beneficial, you might know or be connected with someone who is. If you’ve taken the time to develop that one to one connection – your referral is guaranteed because you know, like and trust the person and in this world – that’s very valuable.  Not to mention, just like in the movie – you never know who might know whom! It’s a small world indeed. Business can come from anywhere and we are all just six degrees (at most) of separation away from one another. Make sure you are always acting with integrity and not just with your own, but with others best interests at heart too. Then you can sit back and watch how opportunity will come your way!

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

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Dr. Helen Ofosu: Small Business Woman of the month of September 2016

Dr. Helen Ofosu Career Coach Outplacement Specialist Hiring Consultant

Dr. Helen Ofosu has over 15 years of experience in HR and Career Coaching in the public and private sectors. Part of what sets her apart is her foundation in Industrial / Organizational (I/O) psychology which is also known as work or business psychology. She brings her knowledge, sensitivity, and special brand of humour to her career consultations, outplacement, business clients, and speaking engagements. She helps her clients make the most of their skills, experience, values, and interests to build a satisfying and resilient career.  She’s also skilled at developing hiring processes that allow employers to understand what job candidates can actually do rather than relying only on what candidates say during interviews. This approach is based on competencies and behaviourally-based assessments.

Our Q & A with Helen:

*What inspires you?
Technology has leveled the playing field in many respects, but access to timely and
strategic HR advice on an as-needed basis saves companiesa lot of money and prevents many problems.

I am inspired to provide enterprise quality consulting services to small and medium sized businesses who would not have access to this level of service otherwise.
I understand that there are many coaching options available. In my experience, when the stakes are high, it’s essential to work with a coach who understands complex circumstances and can find an effective way forward. My MA and PhD training have given me the tools that are helpful when there’s no obvious solution to the problems at hand. I’m motivated to offer more than career coaching, it’s career psychology

*As a small business owner, what achievements make you most proud?
I love watching talented clients thrive when their success and professional fulfillment had been elusive in the past. This is true of businesses who had been held back personnel-related matters and it’s true of professionals and aspiring professionals who had been under-employed and unsatisfied in the past.

*What advice would you give to other aspiring small business owners?
Always honour your obligations; do what you said you’d do to the best of your ability on the timeline and budget that you agreed to. When you consistently demonstrate that you’re reliable and can deliver the expected results, you’re bound to succeed.
*What new things can we look forward to from your business in the upcoming year?
(1) This year, watch for me to work with more franchise (business) owners to help them expand with fewer setbacks.
(2) A very pro-active service called “Right-Placement” as a better alternative to Outplacement
(3) Details on both will be available in my quarterly HR and Career Coaching Newsletter
Contact Helen:
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Intellectual Property is Your Business and “A rose by any other name …”



I remember my first exposure to Shakespeare in high school and the stress it caused when I realized that somehow I had to understand what looked like English, but which to me, might as well have been written in Klingon. I have witnessed the same stress in business owners when the topic and lingo of intellectual property comes up. The way to get through it, like anything else, is to start with what does make sense and go from there. So, with that in mind, let me recount to you the gist of two conversations I recently had with business owners about intellectual property and their business.


Do I really need to bother with intellectual property?

The short answer to that question is IP is always part of your business, so why wouldn’t you? Let’s also consider, however, the context for the question.

The question was prompted after a business owner received mixed messages from her board of advisors about the relevance of intellectual property (IP) to her business, an enterprise focused on educating young entrepreneurs. The different perspectives of her advisors ranged from “forget about IP” to “worry about it later”; focus instead on your “value proposition and managing risk”.

This thinking reveals some common misconceptions about what IP is and the role it plays in a business. The first was that IP can somehow be disassociated from managing risk and is extraneous to the brand, content, and expertise, at the core of her business. In fact, in this case, content is her product, and so the value proposition of her business is all about IP.  Selling her brand of content fundamentally relies on working with her copyrights and trademark rights. Whether or not she chooses to register these IP rights is another question, but even if she does not, she will still be using those rights in her transactions with publishers, distributors and customers.

Then there is the idea that you can put off addressing IP issues until you have some traction in the marketplace and some cash to spare. While addressing IP issues early on can indeed pull on meager start-up resources, suggesting you can cut IP out of the business incubation stage is like saying you can add yeast to bread to make it rise after you have baked it. In reality, you can make the most of the bread (and butter) of your business if you take the time to consider the legal nature of your creative assets from the get go. To do otherwise, is to risk not achieving the very thing you set out to do.


If I am dealing with intellectual property in my business, I don’t know it.

The business owner who raised this point works with a number of artisans and was thoughtfully reflecting on how business relationships seem to work fine without bringing intellectual property into the conversation. I get it. The more you talk about “legal stuff”, the harder it can be to get folks on board. The thing is, at the risk of being repetitive, IP is part of the equation even if not seen or acknowledged, and the math generally will not work in the long run if it is not somehow accounted for. So knowing this, would you rather address IP issues before or after they become a problem?

While the language of IP is not the most prosaic, understanding and talking about what something is, instead of around it, makes for clear, transparent and informed conversations, conducive to building solid business relationships. You can also save everyone the trouble of investing in relationships which are not a fit to begin with.

Whenever I have had this discussion with small business owners, I am reminded of my early days as a gardener, going to the nursery, buying plants and overlooking some of the details about how to care for them in different seasons. During the summer, flowers bloomed and there was new growth. In the fall and winter I would bypass a few steps to help the plants weather the colder days, and then when spring arrived, there was not much of a garden to speak of. Out of pocket and starting over, it was clear that there is no substitute for having a few targeted conversations and paying attention to the details.

And so it is with IP and your business relationships –  a more thorough understanding of your creative assets is always a plus and with this knowledge, the options for cultivating business plans and relationships become more numerous, adaptable, sustainable and reflective of the real value of your business.


Ariadni Athanassiadis is the lead attorney of Kyma Professional Corporation, which provides intellectual property (IP) legal services to help your business develop and benefit from the creative efforts and assets that make it distinctive. Whether it is your brand, product, services, designs, technology or business processes, Ariadni can help design IP legal solutions which let you make the most of what you give to your business.


Ariadni Athanassiadis

Kyma Professional Corporation

T: 613-327-7245



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Are you spending your time effectively on Facebook?


Kelly Farrell - Teach Me Social -headshot (2)

Are you spending time looking at the right parts of your Facebook business page? It’s so easy to get distracted by “shiny things” on Facebook, but as a business owner it’s important to stay focused on your goal to connect with your followers. Having a strategy for your social media marketing should also include regular maintenance on your Facebook page to ensure that what you are posting and sharing is actually connecting with the right followers.

  1. Update the “About” tab on your Facebook Business Page regularly. Take a few minutes at least once a month to revisit and revise the fields with important information about your business. In particular, ensure that the Short Description, Long Description and all contact details are up-to-date and accurate.
  2. Review the Insights for your Facebook Business Page often to analyze what posts are reaching your audience and are engaging your followers. The Insights can help you identify the best time to post and can provide you with more demographic information about the people who engage with your Page.
  3. Monitor the interaction on your posts and be sure to reply to all comments quickly! The average social media user expects a reply within 1 hour to a comment that they make on social media. Be considerate of the time someone took to make a comment, and respond in kind, even if just to say Thank You!
  4. Share your involvement in local or online events and be sure to create event listing for events that your business is hosting. Invite your friends and contacts to join your event page for updates and event information. If you are participating in someone else’s event, you can add that event to your page’s event listing without creating a new event. This helps to connect your business page with others, thus increasing your visibility!
  5. Know when to spend money on boosted posts and promotions on Facebook and allocate an appropriate budget for this purpose. Keep in mind that you should first set up target audiences in Facebook Ad Manager before spending any money on promotions. The more time you spend to target the right demographic, the more return you will see on your ad spend.

To learn more about how to maximise the effectiveness of your Facebook marketing efforts, schedule a complimentary consultation with Teach Me Social. Teach Me Social owner Kelly Farrell has been helping empower Canadian Small Business owners through social media for over four years. Teach Me Social offers effective social media services which include training sessions and consulting as well as full-service social media account management.

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Women On Top


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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about life as an entrepreneur versus life in the corporate world and how it has affected me as a woman. I am thinking in particular about my ceiling in both worlds.  How much success can women achieve in both worlds?  How far out of reach is the ceiling and have us as women found the magic formula to breaking that glass ceiling?

Let’s start with the corporate world.  In my case our corporate structure is that of the “good old boys club”.  Senior executives are the picture of corporate with not a woman in sight.  Middle management is made up of about 10 percent women.  On the bottom of the totem pole, the structure is as expected – a male dominated production group and a female dominated office group.  To excel in an environment as this takes a lot of game play and sometimes ruthlessness.  You cannot be too tough or else you are labeled as “bitchy” or “moody” and you cannot be overly nice or you can be deemed to office “harlot.”  You not only have to play the game, but you also have to continuously prove your knowledge and capabilities to the powers that be.  This part has me baffled.  Why?  I’m sure those powers would not have made you a part of the organization if you were not remotely qualified to do the job or if they didn’t feel you were well suited for the position and the company.  How far up the corporate ladder can women get in an environment such as this?  It’s a far climb for us and especially rough when obstacles are placed in our way.  My feeling is that we are fighting continuously for what we deserve – even when it is earned.  Not many of us know how to demand what we have earned.  In my case, I have set my goals to what my definition of success would be in the corporate world.  Do I want to be President of the company? NO!! What I want is what I have earned – nothing more and definitely nothing less!!

As an entrepreneur I have the opportunity to be the President, Owner, Assistant, Director, coffee runner, pencil sharpener…you name it, I am in charge of it.  More women are going down the entrepreneurial path without really understanding how much more work it takes to be successful. As a female entrepreneur, when I attend networking events that are male dominated I get a lot of pats on the back and “good for you”, “you’re a smart girl”, “you did this all on your own” from the male networkers.  It is as if I am not perceived of being capable of achieving all that I have or that I have or that it is a surprise that a woman can really be successful in their world.  There are also always a few men who are there to be the “saviours” or “messiah.”  I remember being told by one man in particular who came to a female dominated networking event that he was there to help the women.  Take note, he said HELP not SUPPORT. Now, I will be the first to agree that we all need to support each other, but what I do not like is the notion that women cannot find ways to help each other succeed.  We are a resourceful group and we find ways to dig our way out of a hole.  There is still that mental and societal influence that makes us feel like being solopreneurs is the pinnacle of success.  Why not strive to grow your business into a multinational corporation? Sky is the limit-not the glass ceiling.  It truly depends on what your personal goal is.

For me, I enjoy the challenges of both the corporate world and the entrepreneurial world.  Women will always have to work extra hard to break that glass ceiling.  For most of us, the ceiling is not made by others, but by our personal limiting beliefs.  Identifying what is causing these beliefs is the first step towards breaking the ceiling and allowing ourselves to strive for the highest of highs.  I know one thing – this woman plans to be on the top when it comes to the entrepreneurial game. I will not stop until my business is where I want it to be – Canada-wide.  I will not let being woman be a hindrance.  It is not a crutch.


Dwania is the Founder and Executive Director of Canadian Small Business Women Contact Canadian Small Business Women:


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5 Ways to Make Your Audience Love Your Brand


Without an audience, it’s kind of hard to run a business. A growing customer base will drive your business growth. There are a lot of other brands out there, so how do you get your customers to choose you over your competitors? And once you have their attention, how do you build a loyal, long-term relationship with them?

Here are five ways for you to create a strong and loyal relationship with your audience. Five ways to get them to fall in love with you.

  1. Be authentic: If you are constantly selling and trying to put a spin on your sales pitch, you will come across like a pushy and dishonest salesman who will say anything to get the sale. Your brand should have characteristics that are attractive to your audience – values and ethics that show what you stand for. When you communicate with your audience, find ways to make personal connections with them that go beyond selling. Once they are loyal to your brand, the sale is inevitable because what you are offering will be top of mind.
  2. Talk with them, not at them: Many brands get stuck in a rut where they are constantly pumping out content, but they don’t take the time to interact with their audience. It should be about generating meaningful dialogue on your marketing channels, whether more traditional or digital. In many cases, brands could put out less content if they up the engagement factor with their audience. It becomes a case of quality vs. quantity. And if you are a small business owner wearing multiple hats, it’s about finding efficiencies in your marketing strategy that will get you higher returns on your efforts.
  3. Tell them you appreciate them: That feel-good feeling is pretty contagious. If your existing customers are happy, they will tell their friends. Create opportunities to show your appreciation through loyalty programs and content that is directed towards customers. The brands that do well are as grateful for an audience of 500 as they are an audience of 500,000. You will find that once you start appreciating each individual customer they will start multiplying pretty fast.
  4. Create an experience: You should showcase the positive experiences your audience can have with your brand through your blog, social media, and other channels. Take it a step further and create those experiences through public stunts and events where they can’t help but get involved with your brand. Not only will this showcase what you have to offer, but it will generate an emotional connection with your audience because you are making a direct impact on their lives.
  5. Love yourself: Self-hype can be detrimental if you ignore things that should be improved. However, you can’t make someone else love you if you don’t love yourself. You should always start out looking internally, getting to know your brand, and pointing out everything that is great about your brand. This will jumpstart any successful marketing strategy.

Candace Huntly is the Founder and Principal at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take organizational and individual brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.

Connect with Candace


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Listen to Hear not to Respond



When I speak to groups of small business owners and entrepreneurs on the topic of communication, my message is consistent. Of the three elements needed for effective communication to take place; listening, writing and speaking, the most important of these is listening. Why? Because it is in the listening that we ensure there is understanding.

Listening isn’t just about opening our ears either.  It’s about being open and receptive, in principle, to new ideas, suggestions and considerations. Listening is ACTIVE. We must lean in, participate, nod our heads to encourage continued conversation and we need to ask questions to ensure clarity. Most of all however, we need to listen to HEAR not to RESPOND. What do we mean by this?

Listening to hear is about patience. It concerns the principle that we must be actively engaged in the conversation from the perspective of gaining understanding, not listening for the sole purpose of formulating our own arguments in response to what is being said. Listening to hear is about waiting for the “whole.” Waiting for the speaker to complete his / her thoughts, pausing to think about those words and then responding. Too often we are each of us poised and ready to pounce in response to something we heard at the beginning of a sentence, to the exclusion of all that came after it. That’s not listening, that’s debating. It’s a “point – counterpoint” approach to speaking that suggests a “Who will win this conversation” point of view.

Listening to respond is also about remaining IN the moment. Connected to the speaker and not connected to any of our many devices. Few of us can actually multi-task effectively and most of us are much better off to focus on one task at a time. Active listening means put your phone down. It’s time to be connected, to each other rather than our devices. Finally, from a customer service point of view it’s about listening to what your customer is actually asking for, rather than telling them what you think they need.

Active listening and listening to hear, not to respond, help bridge the gap between you and your intended audience. It is the key to effective communication. Let’s all put our devices down for just a few minutes and practice #beinthemoment. Make it your personal mission, starting today, to actively listen – whether to your kids, co-workers, spouse or customer. Drop the constant need to hashtag your conversations or to answer back in defensive mode.  Instead #GiveActiveListeningATry. (Oh the irony…..we just couldn’t resist!)

As Owner and Principal partner of “Writing Right For You” Sheralyn is a Communications Strategist – working together with entrepreneurs to maximize profit through effective use of the written word. Looking for web content that works, blog articles that engage or communications strategies that help you get noticed?  Contact Sheralyn today. Sheralyn is also the mother of two children now entering the “terrible and terrific teens” and spends her free time volunteering for several non-profit organizations.

Sheralyn Roman B.A., B.Ed.

Writing Right For You

Communications Strategies that help you GET TO THE POINT!

416-420-9415 Cell/Business

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