It’s not what you learn when you go to an event like the National Women’s Business Conference hosted by NAWBO; it’s what you take back with you and implement to positively benefit your business and life. That’s happening all across the country right now as the hundreds of women business owners who attended our breakout sessions on the most timely business topics are now putting into practice what they learned in Spokane, Washington. Here’s a look back at some of these session takeaways:
Nature, Leadership and Connecting With Those You Serve
- Every employee wants two things: To feel safe and relevant.
- The number one goal of leadership is to enroll others in your vision.
- Consider how nature can be used as a business tool—how putting people in a natural environment from their youth can create connectivity and build relationships.
- What blocks leadership? Communication and fear.
- Pause and understand that fear can be overcome if you come from a place of safety.
- Three out of four employees describe their work as stressful.
- Getting people in a passive, natural environment allows your people to do the healing.
- Health, happiness and hope all come down to nature.
- Ideas for you to take your team out in nature: kayaking, nature centers, sailing/catamaran tours, tree house retreats, parks, conservatories, botanical gardens and more.
- Doing outdoor activities like these creates a cohesiveness among your business team to move the needle.
Growing Your Business By Knowing Its Lifecycle
- Determine where you are in your business: Seed, startup, growth, maturity, expansion or transition.
- The reason businesses close is poor planning, inadequate capital and lack of business experience.
- There are three different ways to tell your story: Elevator speech, a pitch deck or know your business plan.
- Part of moving into a growth phase is remembering what you’re good at because things are going to get crazy.
- When you grow or expand, you need to be careful to not ruin what you already have.
- Women do not ask for money as much as men—they ask for 30 percent less and feel they have to be much more prepared.
- Start the conversation early to get money and judge your banker by if he/she is your advocate.
- The new 5 Cs of Credit: Credit history (how you’ve handled obligations in the past), collateral (your personal and business assets), capital (your personal investment and business assets), conditions (that affect your ability to repay) and capacity (how your business will generate cash to repay the loan).
Three Tactics to Deeply Connect and Create More Clients
- Generating sales/referrals without asking is key.
- There are two parts to the definition of referrals: A need has to be identified and a connection has to be made (you have to be trusted for one to refer).
- Be worthy to refer; do great work!
- Five steps to generating referrals include: Identify who refers (or should refer) you by determining your referral sources and who should be sources; follow an immediate “thank you” process (no emails; actual thank you cards/notes) to track referrals; create a one-year plan to build relationships through connecting; weave in critical language that shows gratitude and authenticity to plant referral seeds; and automate the plan and measure results.
- Focus on the relationship side of sales.
- Create a framework (introduction to what you do, curiosity about your business, discovery of what they need, proposal to demonstrate what you have that they need and then a close).
Show Up and Compete for Talent
- Establish your employer brand that will differentiate you during candidate interviews. What is it like to work for your company? Why do people come? Why do people stay?
- Glassdoor is an amazing resource for talent. Make sure your company is on there and see what people are rating and saying about you. Look at your competitors to see how they are positioning their brands.
- An easy place to boost your employer brand is on your own website,
- Sign up for/apply for best places to work lists (Cranes, Business Journals and Glassdoor all offer lists).
- Create a series of blog posts on what it’s like to work for your company.
- Ask Google what it’s like to work for you. If you don’t find anything, that’s something to think about.
- The perfect candidate does not exist. Talent does exist but you are stopping yourself from getting it by trying to check all the boxes on your checklist.
- Step back and look at what you can be flexible on (years of experience, skills, degree, etc.).
- Make the interview count; it’s an employee market so they’re interviewing you. You have to make as much of a good impression as they do on you.
- Ask questions to see if they’ll be a good cultural fit for your company, and let them ask questions too.
- If you like them, let them know it and move on your offer quickly…stop overthinking.
- On day one, two out of three people are already looking for a new job. That makes onboarding and engagement extremely important.
Speaking With Confidence: The Art of Public Speaking
- When women don’t have these skills, it holds them back more than men. We are judged by harsher standards.
- When women speak, we are not just speaking up on behalf of ourselves; we are speaking up on behalf of our team.
- Tiny little words like um, you know, just, kinda, sort of, I think, etc. hold us back. These are filler words and we use them to fill in the space before our next sentence. The worst minimizer is just. We are just the next company to get you through the next challenge.
- The anecdote to a filler word is a pause and breath.
- Three questions to ask yourself before you speak include: Who is your audience? Because when you know who you are speaking to, you know what language to speak. What’s your goal? Every speech is an opportunity to change people’s behavior and change the way they feel about your organization and about you. Why you? It’s why do you care? Why do you care about your subject? Why do you care about the work you do? Why did you start the business and what is it that keeps you there or gives you a sense of purpose in your work?
- Make eye contact to connect with people, vary the tone of your voice to bring out you at your best and use intentional body language.
Advocating For Access to Capital
- Use your voice for access.
- Know what to ask, how to ask and get it.
- Are you competitive? Who and what is your competition?
- Know your numbers.
- What are you assuming? Think before you go to an investor.
- What is your back-up plan?
- Keep asking.
- Know your worth and share it well.
- SBA programs offer loans and help (they work with all banks to know which are industry specific), they help make you bankable and get you there, they are the best advocate for you with the bank and help you connect with the right people.
- Good resources for loans: SBA, Exim Bank (working capital loan) and U.S. Department of Commerce (trade missions).