Thursday, December 16, 2010

Christmas and Your Business

How does Christmastime affect how you run your business?  Do you or your employees leave a smidge early each week, to attend parties or get tasks done?  I actually work harder now, because everyone else around me wants to leave early to get to social events.

Do you give thank-you gifts to your clients?  I am terrible at this tradition.  Even amongst my close friends, I almost always don't get around to writing thank-you cards.  I fantasize about hiring a card-writing service.  Besides not having lots of time, the other problem I have with this task is that I have a really creative mind, so I don't want to just churn out generic cards.  I want to hand-make and tailor each one to each special person.

Do you go to all of the holiday events?  I am actually going to a sunny, warm beach soon, so while wrapping up loose ends in my business, I don't have time to say hi and meet new people in local networks.  But if I was staying home, believe me I'd be attending as many parties as I could!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Flurry of Activity

I'm very excited with the increased amount of work I have been doing for Van Media.  Last weekend I attended a show and met a number of small business owners.  I was attempting to increase business by trying to find out if people needed photography done to market their products.

It's funny, I was not intending to buy anything at all.  But I walked out of that show with a small handful of products, for myself and for friends.  A (pleasing) cost of doing business, I guess!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Summer to Fall

This morning I was reminded, as I pushed piles of fall leaves off the sidewalk, that the beginning of a season marks a time to push forward with our businesses.  Many entrepreneurial colleagues are trying new ways to drum up new clients.  Some are innovative -- creating information booklets targeted to specific clients -- some are not so effective -- mass mailouts.

On the former point, I know someone who saw a need for a pre-fab product, to save money, time, and hassle for his clients.  He is developing his idea further by chatting with veterans in the industry.  He has also printed up manuals for clients, which he has dropped off for them to peruse.  This guy has the hard-working attitude and unique ideas, which will help him develop a small business venture.

For myself, I have decided to push for a larger networking base.  I have renewed my interest in attending social events, and meeting new people.  I will admit I had been working mostly behind the scenes, shoring up budget details and technicalities.  It is now time to venture out again, taking time to say hi and see what others are up to.

What is a new push that you are doing this Fall, for your business?
Looking back at summer 2010, this was one of the photography projects I worked on:

This wedding was shot at Van Dusen.  It was not too sunny, but there was enough light that I could just use a reflector.  Shooting with these clients was easy, considering I had joined them the week before the wedding, to scout locations.

From one season to the next, we can all look back and see if changes need to be made, to improve our work.

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Summer Office

With the incredible heat in our city lately, I have often wished that it wasn't a social faux pas to bring my laptop to the beach.  I'm sure it's for the best that I'm disconnected and enjoying people and nature.  However, sometimes the efficiency expert in me creeps up and says, "I could get so much work done just sitting here."

I will admit, my perfect office would have a 360 degree view of the water and sand, plus a nice cooling breeze.  Some sangria would replace my hot coffee.

What do you envision to be your perfect summer working environment?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I've been receiving junk mail from Shaw almost once a week. It is never directly addressed to me.  Instead, it says "Current Occupant".  I emailed Shaw and asked them to take my address off their list.  Their response was, if it was not directly addressed to my name, they could not do that.  It was something I could only do via Canada Post.

Call me dumb if you like, but although I know that there are ways to take onself off junk mail lists, I really don't like going through the trouble.  This does, however, put Shaw in a bad spot in my mind.  They have now made an impression as a company that does not care about the environment, by constantly sending me offers in the mail.  I don't watch cable television, and my internet is provided very well by another company.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Let Me Out

As previously posted, I do not enjoy it when people at networking events "vulture" upon my business card right away, without having asked in-depth about my business.  I usually suspect they want my card for spam purposes, and sure enough I am currently getting haunted by a business owner I met at an event last month.  I have been added to her mass email list, and am constantly getting updates about her networking events.  Her last email was a plea for people to inform her if there were any opportunities for her to get hired for her services.  I guess work is slow for her.  Unfortunately, in the email there was no option to get out of her email list.  Most good business owners supply that option, so for her to not do so is bad email etiquette, in my opinion.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Above the Rest

Looks like a major coffee chain is trying to save lost business:

We have so many coffee shops in this city.  How can each store make theirs stand out from the vast ocean of cafes?  I know that other types of businesses are trying to link their store to a current cause.  For example, I passed one beauty salon that had posters asking people to come in and sign their anti-HST petition.  It honestly almost made me stop and turn around to sign (I was hungry and just continued to steam home).  Another hair salon was featured in their local newspaper, because they are sending hair trimmings to the States to help clean up the oil spill.  Even though that salon is out of my way, I seriously considered going there for a trim the next time I was in that area.

Which poses the question: how can a coffee shop make itself newsworthy, and stand out from the rest?

Monday, May 24, 2010

No Time for Hobbies?

Starting a new business can take over your life.  (I think I just typed the biggest understatement ever)  As recently as a few years ago, I recall having so much free time that I was bored.  I also remember that my days were lazy and relaxed.  My hobbies were: letting afternoons and evenings slip by while reading a book; learning to cook and bake; hanging out and playing with my cat; shopping for clothes and accessories. 

My best friends also recall how much fun I *used* to be.  We went out several times a week to eat 3-hour dinners, watch movies and concerts, and dance all night until the clubs closed.

I think what's happened is that now, my idea of fun has changed.  I still love to dance, I just don't necessarily close out the clubs anymore.  Instead of spending hours and money shopping, I spend time fixing old clothes or re-working them.  I can now afford to take vacations more frequently, to exotic places.  I love simple evenings at home, cooking a wonderful dinner and leisurely eating it in the sun.  When weather permits, you'll find me at the beach, indulging in the simplicity of a drink and a couple of friends. 

The hours I used to have indulging in lazy hobbies have been taken over by technology: email, editing, photography, and so on.  Sometimes, I look back and miss my old bachelorette life.  The trade-offs are a wonderful relationship, a comfortable home, and more money in the bank.

How do you find time to indulge in hobbies?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Business Cards

I have a pet peeve when I network.  When I meet a stranger at a business event, the first two questions are almost always, "What's your name?" and "What do you do?" 

My pet peeve is when, after finding out what sort of business I run, this person immediately asks for my business card.  I know it's likely so that they can add me to an email list of some sort.  I assume this, because they want my card before asking thoroughly what services I offer, or even disclosing what business they run.

After meeting lots of people all night, I tend to have no cards left.  I should be practical and always carry a pen with me, but what to write on?  Bar napkins just don't look professional.

When a person seems truly interested in my business, trading cards is acceptable.  But when a person pounces on my card within 10 seconds of meeting, I get annoyed.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

It was a sad newstip to see, but a necessary and very potent one:


Native Women's Association of Canada is having Mother's Day march to honour missing & murdered aboriginal women.

The mainstream public do not normally link Mother's Day with this devastating issue, but the NWAC was right to link it with this day.  Many victims were mothers; it certainly made me pause for a moment, amid the worries of planning dinner for tonight, figuring out what flowers to buy, wondering what gift to bring.
It also brought clarity and sombre to my anxious mood.  The children of these aboriginal women don't get to think about today the way I do.

Saturday, May 1, 2010


This one's for the ladies.

On a makeup forum, a woman posted a photo of her makeup, intended as her look for a job interview.  I personally thought it looked great, but many respondents suggested she tone it down, asking her to lean towards a more conservative look.

The makeup was not particularly outrageous, and I would have worn the same look if I was to be on-air or meeting a client.  It got me thinking: is the younger generation not as outrageous as we think they are?  Is being conservative still a mainstream idea?

Friday, April 23, 2010

Prolonging the Hurt: HST

Gordon Campbell's Liberals have a big mess on their hands.  They're convinced the HST will help B.C., but a lot of the province's citizens couldn't disagree more.  A lot of people in my circle are willing to drive out of their way to sign a petition.  Even this morning, while being driven to a job, my taxi driver referred to Campbell -- with many bad words.  Apparently the HST will raise taxi fares, amongst many other services (I have to pay even MORE to my hairstylist?).

Campbell's government has done some good work in the province, but the HST overshadows everything.  If Campbell would just suck it up, and yank off the band-aid quickly i.e. announce the cancellation of imposing the HST, it would hurt a lot less than slowly peeling it off.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Dress the Part

I have a personal interest in fashion.  I know many people do not, and that's fine with me.  Sometimes I feel my passion is "petty", when I hear my nagging voice say, "You should be more concerned about real issues, not about what shoes to wear today." 

The time anyone should care about what they wear, however, is when they will appear on-camera.  If I had a penny everytime I saw an interviewee showing up wearing the rattiest clothes and hairdo ever.... and I'm not talking about an economically poor person, or someone working a dirty job in the field.  Those subjects, I can understand their outfit, and it fits.  I'm talking about politicians, managers, representatives of organizations.  In my opinion, there is no excuse for these people to not wear clean clothing and shoes, and take one minute in front of a mirror to fix their hair, wipe crumbs off their beard, correct smudged makeup (or take off some).

Hey, hey... don't kill the messenger here.  The lens is a harsh critic.  It only takes minutes of self-care to diffuse its analytical eye.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

When Are You Off?

I am not a full-time entrepreneur.  I do it part-time, while maintaining part-time employment for a media company.  I almost never have a day off, unless I leave town.  Even then, it's hard to resist the pull of occasionally checking email or voicemail. 

A year ago I thought about buying an HTC touch phone, with a data package.  At the time, I only accessed the Internet when I was at a computer.  It looked like a great idea that I could check messages while in line at the store, or waiting in an office for an appointment.  My friend reminded me that once he bought his HTC, he lost privacy.  He has never had a day when someone didn't try to contact him.  If he wants down time, he has to turn his phone off, otherwise his email signal starts pinging.

I never bought that phone.  What do I do on my downtime?  Read.  Slowly savour tea.  Play guitar, or with the cats.  Chat with someone in line at the store.

Has your choice in technology affected your downtime?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Gastown House

The Olympics are bringing unprecedented amounts of people to downtown Vancouver, and they are shopping.  Business is really good if you're situated along the corridors of Granville or Robson.  The poor older uncle, Gastown, is left on the outside looking in.

Until innovative entrepreneurs came up with the brilliant idea of naming their community "Gastown House", in light of the other Olympic houses that have sprung up in the city.  How is this "house" better than Molson House, Heineken House, or Canada House?  According to the people handing out the Gastown flyers:

  • no lineups
  • lots of beer from around the world
  • room to walk on the sidewalk
  • unique shopping: Canadiana, vintage, local designs, brand names
  • lots of restaurants that represent countries around the world
  • parking

These guys were brilliant, sliding up beside the main event and making a name for themselves.  Yet they didn't overstep boundaries and outright copy the Olympic houses.  Brilliant!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Moguls skier Jennifer Heil won Canada's first medal last weekend.  It was silver, not the gold that a lot of Canadians hoped for.  But she still happily accepted her bouquet on the podium.  Why? 

Because she WON silver, she didn't LOSE gold.  People need to remember she fell short of winning gold by TENTHS of a second.

Lesson: having a fresh perspective on things can make you instantly quotable in the media.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Olympic Effect

Have traffic re-routes affected how you are doing business February - March 2010? 

During the Vancouver Olympics, I am using transit and walking.  With the right weather gear, it is really pleasant to do so in downtown.  There's art and music playing everywhere.  It's also fun helping people not used to the transit system figure out what train they're supposed to take.

How is business going for you during the next few weeks?

Sunday, January 31, 2010

TV Colours

It's a good idea to have an outfit ready, in case of a last-minute television interview.  When a newsroom calls and wants you to speak on-camera, they usually give only 45 minutes to an hour notice. 

When putting an outfit together for this type of situation, take note of the colours.  Clothing to avoid includes too much white or black (unless it's a shirt underneath a blazer, for example).  Stripes or small zig-zag patterns do not translate well to video; they create unusual wavy lines, which distract viewers.  Anything excessively shiny may end up looking terrible.  Muted, conservative colours are best.

Look in the mirror before meeting the crew as well.  Is your hair sticking up?  Any crumbs on your face?  Ladies, wear some makeup, but don't pile it on, or else you'll end up looking like a clown.

For more tips on how to prepare for an on-camera interview, email VanMedia (contact information below).

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back to School

Ever notice, when looking for new work opportunties, that a new technology or skill pops up repeatedly?  For example, when looking around for videography gigs, I often see HD or Blue-Ray terms pop up.  For photography, clients want special lighting, Photoshop-ing, and website-ready pictures.

There are easy ways to upgrade your skills.  The Vancouver School Board's Continuing Education program runs year-round.  Some businesses hold private courses in the evenings or on weekends.  It's easy to learn at home as well, with the plethora of on-line tutorials and manuals.

The times are a-changing -- and fast.  Keep your skills up to date and you won't lose!

Monday, January 18, 2010

The New Year

January of any new year is exciting, for goal-making reasons.  It's a reminder for you to look at where your career is headed, and what steps you will take this year to make things happen.

Dust off old to-do lists from 2009; review the steps and see if you took them.  If yes, congratulations!  If there are steps leftover, determine which ones you can and can't do.  Understand your time limits, and cross off any unecessary tasks.