Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Your Best Work {a series on entrepreneurship}

As I have been writing about entrepreneurship, I have been receiving great comments and questions about life as an entrepreneur. I have shared a little about why I chose this and how I shape my workday, but I want to start diving in to what I believe is the most important part of the discussion around entrepreneurship.

When I made the risky choice of being self-employed, I did it because I felt that it was the only way I could do what I am meant to do. A purpose, a calling, a talent, whatever it is to you, we all have it. We all have one thing (which may include many parts) that we are meant to do. At least, this is what I believe. I felt that this path was the only way I could truly pursue my life's work and fulfill my destiny.

I also know that everything up until this point has been a part of it. I haven't take a radical leap and dismissed my past experiences and choices. In fact, my past brought me to this moment where I get to live this life now. I was on the path all along.

When I talk to people about pursuing a passion or talent, I like to talk about doing YOUR BEST WORK. This sums up, for me, what a vocation can be. Our lives are about more than work and work isn't everything in life. I also like to think about being the best parent I can be. We are not just our work. But we still want to do our best work.

YOUR BEST WORK can be defined as work which utilizes your skills and talents, enriches you personally, and allows you the room to be challenged, to grow, to evolve, and to be better. Your Best Work is not a static target, but rather, it is an ever-evolving state of you achieving your potential most of the time. It is not a place we can Get To. We are either in it or not. We can make choices to be in it or not. We can do our BEST WORK anywhere at anytime if we want.

It took me many years to learn this.

This isn't about changing careers, although it could be. This isn't about radical life-shifting changes, although it could be that too. It IS about shifting your perspective and focusing on what you are meant to do and how you can make that true today.

YOUR BEST WORK can happen today. It can be something you make possible tomorrow. It is about examining your true self, knowing your purpose, aligning your life, and making choices that allow you to serve your purpose today and everyday.

So, how do we do that? This is big work and I am excited to share with you everything I have learned in my twenty plus years of business, my years of entrepreneurship and motherhood, and my insights since I discovered how to Love My Work.

Over the next few months I will be launching a new project which will allow us to connect and share and hopefully allow you to love your work and do you best work every day.

Be sure to stay connected by signing up for our newsletter and you will be the first to know of these exciting projects!

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Sunday, April 3, 2016

Entrepreneurship and Taking out the Garbage

Entrepreneurship isn't all pitches and parties. It can be, sometimes, and that is fun. But the truth is, entrepreneurship requires a commitment to do ALL the jobs at some point. Or at least know all the jobs, be able to train others for all the jobs, hire people for all the jobs, and most importantly, respect all the jobs.

I was discussing the reality of the small food industry with a colleague the other day and I pointed out that not only do entrepreneurs work long, crazy hours, but they need to be able to take out the garbage. When you're starting out, there's a good chance it is a one or two person operation. You have an idea, you work on it while maintaining another form of income, you have a life and a house and kids and whatever else, AND you need to be responsible for the ugly, dirty jobs like garbage.

Some food business owners keep their operation small and they juggle most of the work themselves. Some have plans to grow and expand and eventually hire people for various jobs. Either is good and in fact, I believe both models are essential to our local economy.

Kimberley's Kitchen is somewhere in the middle. I started out with me and my husband doing most of it, with help from family and friends. Then we expanded to hire seasonal staff and now have a regular staff compliment and outsource other business activities. Our experience in the restaurant and food-service industry taught us that we need to be willing to do all the jobs, even the garbage.

I believe it is really important to see all the work/jobs of our business as essential. Garbage is actually necessary and of course of vital importance to healthy and safety. So why does our culture look down on people who have this in their job description?

My husband and I now divide our workload based on what we are good at, what we love to do, and what we can employ others to do. And we don't just lead by example by doing things like dishes and delivery and recycling, we know that these parts of the work are as vital as marketing and sales and cooking. We are teaching our kids the business too and like many restaurants, they are starting with dishes. It is actually one of the most important jobs to opening your business every day. Without dishes, how can you run a kitchen?

We don't believe we are "above" taking out the garbage or any of the other dirty jobs. We feel immense gratitude to have customers to cook for and serve every day. We also feel tremendous responsibility for our impact on nature and our community. By literally taking out the garbage, we have learned what we are throwing out, what is being wasted, and this started us thinking about what we could do about it.

This year, Kimberley's Kitchen and Telkwa Takeout are embarking on a mission to be ZERO FOOD WASTE businesses. This is incredibly challenging and we are very motivated to reduce our impact and find a way to reduce food waste as well. We will be sharing some of our ideas and strategies and we hope to hear from you about what you would like to see. We have been working on this for about 6 months and we are excited about the progress we are making. We have also discovered some much-needed products that would make this possible for other food businesses. (Our recycling and composting has been a part of what we do since day one. As well as other initiatives with packaging and food waste).

So if we never took out the garbage, we may never have made the connection about how we can run our business smarter and better. We may never have sought options to reduce food waste, thus saving us money. We may never have realized that in reducing waste, there was an opportunity to be a more sustainable company that we can be proud of. Taking out the garbage has taught us a lot about business and what kind of company we want to be. We will never consider ourselves above this kind of work.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Crowdfunding Comes to Northern B.C. (a recap of the Crowdfunding Summit)

Photo by Magna Vita Photography

Crowdfunding experts convened in Prince George on March 16th to share their advice and inspiration to an audience of business owners and non-profit leaders. The Crowdfunding Summit, the first-ever in Northern BC, was hosted and organized by Community Futures and included speakers on crowdfunding, equity crowdfunding, and legal considerations for this relatively new financial sourcing.

The event launched the newly created Invest Local BC. A crowdfunding platform that focuses on local campaigns for small business and non-profits in BC. While the large crowdfunding platforms bring some social media opportunity if they notice you (such as Kickstarter's Staff Pick), Invest Local BC reaches people at a community level at a time when supporting local organizations is highly valued.

A full day of guest speakers including Daryl Hatton of FundRazr, Alixe Cormick of Venture Law Corporation, Sean Burke of FrontFundr, Roy Spooner, and many others shared their expertise and advice on successful crowdfunding in Canada. Myself and Leanna Carlson spoke about our successful crowdfunding campaigns as well.

Preparing for a campaign and understanding investors were major themes for the day. Robert Quibell of Vortex Social Marketing summarized the ideal crowdfunding strategy with a few simple questions that get to the heart of crowdfunding. Asking "who are you" and "why should people invest in you?" are the perfect place to start. But start early.

Quibell and Hatton both emphasized the need to plan early for a campaign. As early as 12 months ahead and often about 4 months ahead. There is a great deal of preparation for a successful campaign and then there is the pre-campaign, the 3 months leading up to a campaign (which ideally runs 30 days) wherein a campaigner will promote and gain some committed investors and possibly social media traction. Other pre-campaign tips from Charlene Tessier of CrowdGift included contacting fans and customers via email and social media as well as preparing for milestones throughout the campaign.

Leanna Carlson is a ceramic artist who successfully funded a campaign to build her gas fired kiln. Her charming story of crowdfunding showed how with passion and creativity, crowdfunding can boost our local economy.

I spoke about my Kickstarter campaign to Help Build Kimberley's Kitchen and shared my tactics for successfully raising just over $6000 to build my commercial kitchen for my food business. The questions I received made me realize that there is a need for more advice and guidance on how to run a campaign, especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs. The DIY and low-budget approach is not as well documented as the massive campaigns that get viral media exposure. And remember, the massive campaigns are not always what they seem to be. Many of them are start-ups that have been working towards the campaign for years and use the campaign purely as a marketing vehicle and even when successfully funded, fail as companies.

More realistically, small business owners and non-profits are looking for a boost or infusion to help grow their organizations. Often it is business owners like Leanna or myself who have a demand and want to finance growth without debt. Businesses and non-profits that are proven and have a devoted community are most likely to successfully fund a campaign under $10,000. Beyond that requires a more significant investment and team to achieve success.

The most inspiring idea from the day came from Daryl Hatton who talked about why people give. He explained that this new financial model allows people to give and have a sense of community. That when people invest in campaigns or help a cause, they feel as though they are giving to their village, who will in turn support them if ever they needed it. At a time when so many people are left finding ways to pay for projects, medical bills, and fund self-employment, crowdfunding has become easier and more accessible than ever. And now, with Invest Local BC, we can find campaigns and causes close to home so that we are literally helping to build our "village" right where we live.

Are you interested in learning more about my tips of crafting a campaign? I will be posting a series on Crowdfunding so be sure to follow for more information.