Left to right: Donna Maria, myself, Lela and Kayla. Love these ladies!
Hello from the plane on the way back from 2×4 Live Workshop. Donna Maria Coles Johnson of Indie Business Network, Lela Barker from Lucky Break Consulting, Kayla Fiorvanti from Selah Press and I spoke and workshopped for two days about everything small business.
We had many types of small businesses in the room. Attendees included everything from make-up for redheads, to recycled pallet furniture manufacturers, to environmental strategy consultants, to tiny house experts to bath and body makers. It was a great group.
One of the first talks was a panel discussion. Upon arrival, each attendee was given a slip of paper to ask their most pressing question about business, marketing, social media or anything (!). There were generally three types of questions – on social media, on marketing and general business questions. We (the speakers) didn’t all agree all the time, proving that there are a variety of ways to be successful.
So many great business questions!
For example, someone asked about rejuvenating when you’re burned out. Donna Maria and Lela had exactly the same answer. They physically get on a plane or to a different place and totally unwind and unplug. Then it was my turn, and my answer was radically opposite. There is freedom in lists and systems; to help with burnout I take mini breaks by sleeping right, eating right and working out. Kayla’s was yet another variation of that: controlled chaos and learning to say ‘no.’ Clearly, these are three vastly different perspectives that all work.
Another area that we differed in was how to achieve focus. I’m a big Google Calendar/Paper Calendar hybrid girl. Kayla is a priority/tyrannies of the urgent. Lela has a ‘Top 3 focus white knuckle’ strategy of not opening her email until her 3 daily goals are done. Donna Maria is a Google Calendar fan and religiously schedules priorities.
There are many ways to achieve success around focus and time management and success; what works for one doesn’t always work for the other. Our panel was fun, engaging and lively. And, I learned from my fellow panelists.
My talk was on the power of the small and the beauty in the relentless trudging. I gave a variety of examples of businesses that looked impressive from the outside but really had had years of failure. For example, Dyson vacuum cleaners and their 5127 prototypes, Ray Kroc starting McDonalds at the age of 52, Colonel Sanders founding KFC at the age of 56. I shared some of my own failures and explained how every “no” leads you closer to a “yes.” It was high on inspiration and authenticity – which is why I led off the formal talks. The next three talks were more tactical in nature.
Donna Maria of Indie Business Network spoke about how to use technology to build brand awareness and optimize sales opportunities. She says, “Technology gives you speed and access, so if you want to reach your customers fast and repeatedly, you must leverage technology to do that in an efficient and cost effective way.” She shared specific ways that we can use Facebook, Blab, Periscope, Twitter and podcasts to build our businesses. It was meaty content.
Donna Maria of Indie Business Network shares her expertise on using technology to create brand awareness.
Kayla of Selah Press spoke about her entrepreneurial journey. She shared her failures, successes and the lessons she learned along the way. In Kayla’s experience the things that didn’t work included: starting a new new business without vetting it with mentors and salespeople who were not sold out and hanging onto the dead-end businesses and/or products.
What Kayla has learned worked included: reinventing ourselves regularly, marking hard choices and keeping our eyes on the goal, listening to their guts, and building with the end in mind. She talked about knowing if your fear is “false evidence appearing real” or not. The key to success is starting. Failure is not the opposite of success, it is a pit stop on the road to success. Kayla claims she is “hopelessly unemployable” and she encouraged others to find their own “why” if they want to be the same.
It was so fun meeting all the amazing small business owners at the Workshop! Hi Suzy & Nicole! =)
Lela Barker of Lucky Break Consulting brought the first day to a close with a passionate talk about how to market to your ideal customer. Lela knows a thing or five trillion about small business; she counsels and coaches small business entrepreneurs from all over the world to help grow their businesses, profitably. The manager of Handmade Beauty Box is taking one of her courses right now (!). She focused on how to find your perfect customer and then how to attract them. She says, “As a small business, you need to employ laser focus in order to penetrate the market and gain traction.” How right she is; and if you’re thinking to yourself, “Oooof, yassss; need that laser focus. Sooooo, how do I do that?!”, here is a great place to start: a downloadable worksheet from her blog on identifying YOUR target customer. Once you’ve fallen in love with that, mosey on over to her courses and see what she has to offer. I’m a fan.
Day two was focus on implementation; the group broke up into smaller focus groups and got 1 hour with each leader to work on systems, strategies, and plans. Stay tuned for when the next 2x4Live is. Right now, it’s looking like it will be West Coast and in June but nothing has been set in stone. =) Thank you to all who came and invested in themselves and for those of you watching from afar, I hope to meet you in person next year at 2x4Live.