The Power of Beginnings

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Carved pumpkinI wanted to write something about Halloween since it’s coming up so soon, but there’s another topic on my mind I’d like to share instead. So, I’ll leave you with the picture of the pumpkin I carved last year and move on to my topic.

Two meetings. Two very different outcomes.

I’m an entrepreneur virgin so I’m not aware of all the ins and outs of business social etiquette, but I got a big lesson this week that I’d like to pass along to other entrepreneurs out there.

I’m proud to be a part of Edmonton’s small business community. Most of the people are warm and inviting, answering my many questions with a smile. They forgive my faux pas, of which I’m sure there are many, and are interested in what I have to say. They’re a wealth of information and welcome everyone.

Well, most of Edmonton’s small business community.

I’ve become very active in local business meetup opportunities. It’s not only a good way to get new ideas, but you can find people to help grow your business. Of course, I’m in the initial phase of my business so money is a factor so I attend the ones where cost is minimal. If I order water, I look at everyone and smile. After all, I’m there to meet them.

The first meetup I went to this week was held at a local pub. Edmonton has some great pubs with a lively atmosphere so I wasn’t concerned. When everyone arrived, I learned I was the only woman. Okay. Time to turn on the charm.

I will leave out the details of the first meeting save to say that it did not end well. I’m outspoken and opinionated. Not without cause, those opinions I vocalize I have thought long and hard on and know what I am talking about. Is that arrogant? Perhaps. I’m also a writer and that is not a craft for the fainthearted.

In that meeting I felt uncomfortable and wished I’d never gone. I understood what they were trying to do; they were trying to build those deep connections that every business owner wants. However, those take time.

You know the kind I’m talking about. These are the connections that have taken months to build. One meeting at a time. One handshake at a time. One email at a time. One conversation at a time. They take work and perseverance. They don’t come overnight. However, if you do them right, they can last a very, very long time. These are connections that matter.

The second meetup I went to was a different as oil is from water. It was held at Cibo Bistro in Edmonton. Let me take a moment to sing Cibo Bistro’s praises. The food was amazing and fresh. The staff was friendly and helpful and the atmosphere was calming but modern. I was fascinated by a rack of wine up on the wall that not only stored the wine, but also doubled as a work of art. Anyone who likes wine will understand what I mean.

The people at the second meetup were professional and warm. They were as fascinated by me as I was by them. They had some great ideas and helped me to learn some fascinating things. I loved being able to exercise my mind and the feeling of being embraced into their community. Even though I was in jeans and a t-shirt and everyone else was in business attire, no one seemed to mind. For those who know me, this comes as no surprise that I would wear jeans and a t-shirt. I don’t do business attire any longer as it really isn’t me. I have been known to don a skirt now and again, but suits are out of the question.

The second meetup was so amazing that I immediately emailed the leaders and asked if I could go to more. I was kicked out of the first meetup group.

I’ve learned some valuable lessons this week for which I’m very grateful and it’s these I wish to pass along.

  • Always be yourself. If that means jeans and a t-shirt while everyone else is in ties, so be it. Just be genuine and avoid the 70s used car salesman approach. Just make sure that the genuine you is respectful and polite.
  • Listen carefully to others. Everyone likes to be heard. Make sure you hear them. If you don’t understand, ask a question. People like to answer questions, it shows you want to know them.
  • Speak up. If there’s something wrong or if you feel uncomfortable, it’s okay to say something.
  • Positives attract positives. It’s okay to get rid of the toxins in your life. It’s okay to only include positive people who will add to your life. This has nothing to do with building your business and everything to do with you. However, think about this; if your life is filled with poisonous and toxic people, how healthy will your business be?

These are lessons that I will carry with me for a very long time. As I go forward from this place, I will continue to make connections with people that I will build, slowly over time. In this instant world we live in it seems opposite to what we’ve come to expect. However, sometimes the old ways are the best ways. Slow and steady builds a sturdier relationship than fast and fleeting.

Thanks for That

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A tree in Edmonton full of fall foliage

A beautiful tree full of fall foliage in Edmonton

Robin Williams is my hero.

So, I did as all hero worshippers do and tweeted him to come and read my blog. Well, it makes sense to me. Of course, if he’s read a word I’ve written, I have no way of knowing it. I hope he has read this. How else will he know how amazing of a writer I am?

We all have heroes in our lives. People that save us from the world or sometimes from ourselves. This season is the time to reflect on our lives and be thankful for our blessings. As the year draws slowly to a close, it’s time to take stock of what we’ve done over the year and thank those who helped us get here. I’d like to take a moment and do just that.

  • Microbusiness Training Centre – I first approached them in 2012 but got nervous. After all, I wasn’t a business owner I’m just a storyteller. Then, in 2013, I finally grew a set and showed back up on their doorstep. They didn’t judge me or laugh, they welcomed me in to the next group of entrepreneurs. For the next nine weeks, I went through the classes and gave birth to a business. Without their guidance and coaching, though, this road would have been much harder to travel.
  • My friends – what is life without friends? Who else is willing to try and buy a bus ticket to “anywhere” on a drunken Saturday night? When I first approached them with my business idea, each one of them encouraged me. Although there have been some stressful times for me (starting a business is always difficult but rewarding), their support has never wavered.
  • My mentors – I cannot imagine where I’d be without mentors. I’m 46 years old and still need the guidance of others. I can only hope that as I begin to mentor others, that I will be able to have the wisdom to give them that was given to me. I encourage everyone to be a mentor in some form. Whether you coach a kid’s soccer team or you mentor someone new in the business world, take a few hours a month to do this valuable service. My mentors have answered my questions, listened to my concerns and given their valuable time so that I could grow as an entrepreneur.

As you come to the end of this year and reflect on where your business and life has gone, take some time to thank those who helped you get where you are now. Just a quick word of thanks makes a world of difference sometimes.

I’d like to send a call out to all my readers. Is there someone special in your life who has done something for which you’d like to thank them? Send me a comment or an email and I’ll post it on my blog.

New Beginnings

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Snow covered tree

Winter in Edmonton, Alberta

We’re coming in to a season that is a time of reflection and thanks. It’s not generally when we start new projects or make big life changes. The world goes to sleep and we drowse along with it. A type of hibernation takes place and life slows down.

Then there’s me.

This month my business has begun its start-up phase. It’s an odd time of year to start a business and there’s a lot of frustration, anxiety, humour and excitement that goes along with it. There’s a great deal to be grateful for despite the stress so I thought I’d start this series out in that spirit.

Each week I’ll be posting a different blog about things I’m grateful for in my life. Hopefully these will be business related, but we’ve all had those weeks where our imaginations get stretched to find something good in our lives.

As well, I’d like to invite you, my readers, to email me your own stories about your businesses. Maybe you’ve had a bit of good news you’d like to share or it’s enabled you to have more time to spend with your family. Perhaps you’re finally working at your dream job. Whatever it is, please send me an email and tell me about it. I’ll do my best to post your emails into my blog (please forgive me if I’m busy and don’t get to it right away) to share with others.

So, let’s start the adventure.

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