Dave and Mary Hopper

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Mary Hopper

The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues, as we introduce you to Mary Hopper of Natural Plus Nursery. Mary is your resource, when it comes to selecting the perfect plants, shrubs and flowers in North Iowa.

Mary Hopper Women In Business

Business Name:

Natural Plus Nursery

When Did You Start Your Business?

Natural Plus Nursery was started in 1978 by my in-laws, David and Linda Hopper. My husband and I bought the nursery from them in March of 2014.

Why Did You Start Your Business?

Dave’s parents were looking to sell the nursery in 2013, and both Dave and I were working full time jobs elsewhere. We had talked at length about wanting more freedom to do what we wanted, and to be investing our time in something we were building ourselves and our future family. The nursery seemed like the obvious choice. It was very appealing to move onto this piece of land that has been in Dave’s family since the time of his Great Grandfather. We knew the nursery and his childhood home would be a great place to raise our family, and we wanted to try our hand at being our own bosses and being in control of our own destiny. We both can’t imagine doing anything else now.

What Advice Would You Give A Woman Wanting To Start Her Own Business?

Just go for it. There are always going to be people that will tell you that you can’t. And sometimes that person will be you (that little voice in your head), but you have to set that aside and go forward. You’re going to have failures, and not everything is going to work out as planned. Often it’s in the failures of the unexpected, that you learn the most.

Who Has Mentored You Through The Process of Growing Your Business?

The fall before we bought Natural Plus Nursery, we attended the Launch & Learn Class put on by the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Small Business Development Center at NIACC. Since that class, we have met with them several times, and they have helped connect us with integral people in our journey. We are also fortunate to have Dave’s parents, who were right by our side. As we learned how to run the business, they have let us lead in our own way, but are still here to help whenever we need it.

Tell us about your family.

Dave and Mary Hopper

Dave and I have been married since 2013, and are adding a little one to our family in January 2017. We have a lovable pup named Lena.

 

Be Well God Bless

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Angie Huffman

Angies family

The North Iowa Women In Business series continues. I would like to introduce you to Angie Huffman of Be Well God Bless. Angie has a passion for helping others, as she is passionate about people, God and problem solving. If you have a business that needs a little help, Angie has a solution for you.

WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

The idea of Be Well God Bless has been growing for a couple years, it officially became a business in January 2016.  We started out in a beta phase tweaking the software and team members’ responsibilities. In July we have started our soft launch fully able to enroll new members, knowing we will still be perfecting our system and thus we have a discounted rate for membership.  January 2017 will be our full launch where advertising will begin and additional add-on services for members will be available.

WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

Since 8th grade career day I’ve been focused on wellness and recreation.  I was in my dream job in my hometown as director of the Cedar River Complex in Osage but realized I needed to let that go, and it was time for a change.  After I quit I wasn’t sure what my purpose was.  It was a rough spot in our life, and I got on my knees and asked for God’s help.  Soon after there were people in my life with services and products that gave me hope, healing, joy and love.  It was at this time in 2014 the idea of Be Well God Bless started to form. The idea of having a community of people to share their stories knowing it could positively impact others.  It would be free for anyone to come and learn, and there would be a paid membership for those that wanted to share.  I knew technology could provide tools to record and share people’s passion, but for many technology is a barrier because of time, money and know how.  Our team takes on the role of building the tools and shares them with a community of like minded people.

WHO HAS MENTORED YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS OF BUILDING YOUR BUSINESS?

There are so many people that have crossed my path during this process that have really helped develop what Be Well God Bless has become. The team is a group I constantly go to to get feedback, and I value all their thoughts.  I attended a class at UNI for launching a startup business, and our assignment was to call 100 people that would be considered our niche market to learn what is typical for them and what are their biggest challenges and struggles.  From there build your business to solve their problems.  It was very valuable to learn not to create something you think is cool and try and convince people they need it, but instead learn about a problem and create a solution. That certainly helped mentor me through this process. 

Others that I have always admired and looked up to as great entrepreneurs and business leaders that I connected with are Eric & Janet Sparrow who developed Milkhouse Candles, Jason & Alicia Trout who developed GoodBlogs, Steven Thompson who wrote “Sitting in the Rubble or Standing on the Wall”, Jim Anastasi who is a counselor, speaker and author, and Bob & Pat Kern founders of Generac Power Systems.  Each of their stories helped me put into perspective where we are at and what it takes to have success and also to help me better define success.  

DO YOU BELONG TO ANY BUSINESS ORGANIATIONS, IF SO, WHICH ONES?

I’ve recently been introduced and belong to Polka Dot Powerhouse in Cedar Falls which is for positive, action-forward business women.  The goal of the group is building relationships, celebrating one another, learning together, collaborating, changing the world and enjoying the positive perspective.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.

I married my high school sweetheart, Derrick.  We have 3 school age kids. Derrick and I partner with my parents farming near Elma, and Derrick also works at FMC landfill. We live in Osage and the kids are active in music, sports, dance and playing with their friends.  One of our favorite things to do is head to the farm, we jump on the trampoline, have a campfire, ride the four wheeler on our trails and hang out in the barn.  I have an amazing husband, kids, parents and in-laws, and without their help and support I would not be where I am today. 

I believe God puts us in certain places at certain times for a reason – To Learn, to Share or to Grow.  Be Well God Bless is connecting the people that want to Learn with those that want to Share and together both Grow.

I love connecting with people, learning about who they are and what is their passion.  It really frustrates me when I meet someone who has a great gift, but they don’t know how to share it with others so I created a system to record their story and build them tools so they can be understood by more people and ultimately use their gift to positively impact more lives.

World Wide Web

Tips For Breaking The Boredom When You Work From Home

Working from home has many good points, as well as challenges. At some point, boredom will set in and you will be trying to dig yourself out of a hole. Your productivity level will have plummeted and it will be evident that you need to turn things up a notch or two. Having been in those shoes a time or two, here are my tips for breaking the boredom when you work from home.

LISTEN TO MUSIC

Everyone enjoys music in one way, shape or form. Tune into Pandora and make your playlist. Find music that excites you and makes you want to get moving. Chance are, this will encourage you to do what you need to do to move your productivity level to the next level.

START A NEW PROJECT

Social Media

If the idea of starting something new excites you, why not explore a new one? If blogging is your thing, start a new blog, test out a new social media platform or even start planning an event. Event planning can be exciting and it will give you a purpose. There’s no reason to be bored when you start a new project. Your reward will come once the project is completed and you can reap your rewards.

NETWORK LOCALLY

Join your local Chamber of Commerce, attend social media breakfast clubs in your area and meet up with local folks that work in the same arena that you do. If there isn’t a meet up group with your profession in your area, start one!

TAKE BREAKS

I rarely work more than three hours at a time. I make sure I drive somewhere, take a walk outdoors or attend a Twitter chat to break up the boredom. In fact, when I make it a point to not stay glued to my chair all day, I am motivated to get my work done and get out the door.

I’d love to hear if you struggle with boredom while working from home. There’s no doubt that social media can divert some of the boredom, yet in all reality, we all need face to face contact. Find a career that you love and your days of boredom will be limited. I speak from experience, as I love what I do and am rarely bored.

Tackle the boredom now and embrace your passion. The only thing standing in the way, is YOU!

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Katy Flint

The North Iowa Women In Business series continues, as we introduce you to Katy Flint of Social Impact. Katy is a go getter and a huge supporter of North Iowa.

Katy Flint

When did you start your business?

I started my business “officially” in January of 2016, but had been working with clients since May of 2015.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?

If you want to do it, just do it. Start where you feel comfortable, but be ready for the successes and the failures. Be patient because it will take more time and energy than you anticipate, but it will be completely worth it.

Who has mentored you through the process of building your business?

Sara of Social Connections, LLC  has mentored me, as well as Donna Hup of Donnahup.com  and Liz Nead of Nead Inspiration. Having strong business women around me has driven me to reach for what I wanted.

Do you belong to any business organizations, if so, which ones?

I am an active blogger with the North Iowa Bloggers. I enjoy writing on my personal blog, Learning As I go.

Tell us about your family.

I am married and have two amazing step-sons that are 12 and 16. We love camping, playing games together, and my husband and I love following all of our boys’ activities.

I have loved getting to know different business owners and helping them each achieve their goals through social media and blogging. I am always looking to meet new people and learn new things.

 

Michelle Hartman

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Michelle Hartman

The North Iowa Women In Business series continues as we introduce you to Michelle Hartman. Michelle is known as the “Crazy Tupperware Lady” all around the world. She is a go getter and never lets any grass grow under her feet. Michelle is a proud Star Director with Tupperware and she works as the leader of an organization with more than 160 consultants.

Michelle Hartman

When did you start your business?

I started my Tupperware Adventure in April 2008.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?

Starting your own business is so rewarding!  I choose who I work with & enjoy partnering with local organizations! I highly suggest getting involved in your local Chambers.  I am a member the the Greater Franklin County Chamber & the Clear Lake Chamber.  Having my own business has allowed me to have FUN with marketing & customer service.  I grew up with my parents running 2 home businesses.  My mom is the owner of Cathy’s Country Cook’n & yes this is where I get my LOVE for baking from!  I was always her right hand gal, from making cookies to making labels to helping her at local shows by selling cookies.  My parents also own the Carlson Christmas Tree Farm & have always allowed me to be part of the business, from selling Christmas Trees during the holidays to making the open house flyers and designing posters for advertisements .  This I feel has been a huge asset in me wanting to start & run my own business. One of the neat things is now I am seeing my daughters wanting to be involved in my Tupperware Business!  In fact I take my oldest daughter with me to some parties & I LOVE to see what she is learning just by watching me.  If I am busy she is selling & explaining Tupperware products to the ladies at the parties!  This truly warms my heart as you just never know the skills you learn as you grow up that will be so influential in your life & career!
Who has mentored you through the process of building your business?
I work with a great group of Tupperware Directors with-in my region and we learn from each other. I also enjoy listening to marketing and customer service trainers, both online and at local events.
Tell us about your family.
I am married to a very hard working man named Mike & he is a concrete foreman for Larry Adams Concrete.  We have two beautiful daughters, Hope is 13 years old & Ivy is 8 years old.  They attend West Fork School and are very active in sports, 4-H & Girl Scouts.  We are a very active family & love the outdoors!  We LOVE the Great State of Iowa & spend much of our summer vacation time visiting the neat places we have within our state from county/state parks to the Iowa State Fair.  We also enjoy ATV trips to Wisconsin.
SM Breakfast February 2015

Tips For Networking At The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Networking is a word that I get excited about. Did you know that the 4th Wednesday of every month, you can network at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club? We meet from 8:30-10:00 a.m. in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank in Mason City. Businesses sponsor the room and breakfast, waiting for YOU to show up and network! Do you want to sponsor this event? Message me, and I will get you connected with a month that works best to promote your business. Here are some networking tips to help you get more out of your 1 1/2 hours at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast.

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

 

BUSINESS CARDS

Business cards are often an ice breaker when it comes to meeting a new face. Make sure you have your business name, name, email address, website, and social media channels on your business cards. If you want to take phone calls, add your phone number to your business card, as well. Telephone calls do still work! This makes it easy to stay connected after the meeting.

SMART PHONE

Your smart phone can be your best friend at the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club. When you meet someone new, ask them if they have a Facebook Business Page. If they do, get out your smart phone and like their Facebook Business Page. Are they on Twitter? If your new acquaintance is, open the Twitter App on your smart phone and follow them. This makes networking at North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club super easy!

LEARN SOMETHING NEW

You will learn something new at every meeting with the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club, so come and be ready to learn! Our speakers are all open to your questions and want to help you grow your business, and as a person. Make it a point to learn something new, on top of all the new people you will meet. This will help you grow and you will be so glad you got up early to attend the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club.

Be sure to join the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club Facebook Group, as this is where you can connect with attendees that also have an interest in social media. It’s up to you to follow up with the people you meet at social media breakfast, not anyone else. When you make the time to go the extra mile, your hard work will pay off. It’s been pure joy to watch all of the amazing business connections that have been made out of this 1 1/2 hours every month.

Want to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of social media and the business world? Be sure to follow Social Connections, LLC on Facebook.

 

 

 

Barn at Enchanted Acres

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Shannon Latham

The North Iowa Women In Business Series Continues, as we introduce you to Shannon Latham of Enchanted Acres. Are you a woman wanting to start a business in North Iowa? Shannon Latham will inspire you, as she continues to change things up to meet the needs of her customers.

 

Shannon Latham
Photo Courtesy of: Shannon Latham of Enchanted Acres

When did you start your business?

For eight years, I searched for a suitable acreage. I made an offer on two different parcels. Each time one of those deals fell through, my hopes were temporarily dashed, but my dream never died. In March 2012, I went to a land auction and got the final bid. We spent months cleaning up the old abandoned farmstead, including the grove. You would not believe how much wire and junk was hidden under all of those branches and vines! Truckload after truckload of old building material and trash was hauled out while gravel was brought in for the lane.

A small pumpkin crop was planted around June 1, 2012. Because construction on our barn didn’t begin until late fall, we sold pumpkins from a tent in the middle of our hay ground. The basement was poured inside our barn the following spring, so the grand opening of Enchanted Acres was held in September of 2013.

Today Enchanted Acres is a place where all families can escape reality for a few hours and simply enjoy spending time together in the great outdoors. It’s that “happy place” where kids from ages 2 to 102, can channel Cinderella or Jack Sparrow. Enchanted Acres is a place where we all can dream about our happily ever after!

Why did you start your business?

When I became a mother, I wanted my children to experience everything I enjoyed most about my childhood. I was raised on a small farm in Butler County, where my family raises corn, soybeans, alfalfa and about 60 head of purebred Suffolk sheep. I spent countless hours outdoors with my pets, and I learned some of life’s greatest lessons by taking care of livestock. I wanted my children to know the value of a hard day’s work. I also wanted them to enjoy life’s simple pleasures like twinkling stars in the sky; sunsets painting te sky with rich hues of purple and magenta; appreciating wildflowers splash color in a sea of green grass; and feeling the summer sun kiss their cheeks and a gentle summer breeze trickle the back of their neck. I wanted my children to have a place where their imaginations could run wild, and that’s what started the idea of Enchanted Acres.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?

Take to time to write a business plan, including a marketing plan. Remember to go back and revise your plan as your business grows or as the market changes. There will be good days and there will some extremely challenging days! Keep your eye on the goal, and recognize each small step taken toward progress. Surround yourself with positive people, but also seek out those people that will challenge you because they genuinely want to help you become better at what you’re doing. Remember, you’re never too old to learn something new. Find a mentor; sometimes a successful person outside your industry can offer the sagest advice. Make time for yourself, even if “me time” happens at 5 AM or 11 PM.

Who has mentored you through the process of building your business?

My parents were small business owners, so you might say I was “home schooled.” I didn’t go to daycare, so I absorbed a lot of knowledge just by watching them. I got several lessons from my parents about providing great customer service and counting back change. While I was attending college, I got the pleasure of working with one of the most gracious female communications professionals in the business, and she was a true role model. I’ve been blessed over the years to work with some of the best bosses who were encouraging. Because there is no “direct report” for you when you own a business, I still pick up the phone and call one of my old bosses if I have a question.

What was the best advice you were ever given?

When my husband and I were making plans to start our own business, one of my former bosses encouraged me to have equal shares of the company. I believe that went a long way in establishing me as a true business partner, plus it gave me the confidence to speak up at times when my opinion differed from my husband’s. If I were going to give advice to an aspiring entrepreneur today, I’d tell him or her to carefully consider the business structure. If it’s not a sole proprietorship, I’d have three documents in place and signed before hanging the “open” sign: (1) a business plan including a marketing plan; (2) a succession plan; and (3) a buy-sell agreement.

Do you belong to any business organizations, if so, which ones?

Enchanted Acres is a member of the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Healthy Harvest of North Iowa. As a mother, I understand that noting is more important that making the choices we believe is best for our bodies- and our families. Greater understanding happens when consumers understand the facts of food production. That’s why I advocate for food dialogues that allow producers and consumers to truly engage in healthy conversation, leading to greater understanding. I also want to help consumers engage in healthy food dialogue, so I’m an advocate for groups and initiatives like Ag In The Classroom, the Iowa Food & Family Project and CommonGround Iowa.

Tell us about your family.

I describe myself as a wife, mother and an entrepreneur. My husband and I, along with his brother, are proud to be the third generation to manage Latham Hi-Tech Seeds. Their grandfather started the family-owned seed company in 1947, and I enjoy my full-time job as marketing director. I especially enjoy meeting our customers, telling their stories and advocating for agriculture on our blog, “The Field Position.” I feel blessed that I can fit my work schedule, for the most part, around my family’s activities. My two kids are extremely active. My 15- year old daughter, Ellie, enjoys showing her horse throughout North Iowa. My 14- year old son, Ian, is passionate about basketball. He plays on the North Iowa Fire AAU team from spring through fall. He also plays baseball, football and basketball, plus runs track.

My weekends are filled with horse shows and basketball tournaments. We also are season ticketholders to Iowa State Cyclone football and men’s basketball. In between games and sporting events, you’ll find me with my nose in a book. I love to escape to faraway places on the pages of a book! I also love traveling and trying foods unique to the areas where I am visiting. I especially enjoy spending rare Saturday mornings in my kitchen.

My grandma, my mom and my neighbor lady were all wonderful cooks. I truly believe these influential ladies in my life showed their love to family and friends, by the foods the made for them. Their love of cooking prompted me to start baking at a young age, and I entered muffins I’d baked at the county fair for the first time when I was 9 years old. I earned a blue ribbon with my first food entry, and muffins are still one of my favorite things to make! I loved baking Sour Cream Raising Pies with my neighbor lady, and baking with others just brings back great memories.

What is one message you would love to get across to the general public about what you do?

Many of our memories are formed around food from childhood birthday parties to holiday gatherings. Other memories that we often remember are associated with trips we’ve taken and the experiences we’ve had while traveling. That’s why I want to help visitors to Enchanted Acres create positive memories around food and experiences. I want them to experience a slice of farm life that leaves them with a favorable impression.

Blogging

Tips For Finding A Job Online

You can find a job online. I found one, a few years ago, when I was not looking for one. Did you know that businesses have a hard time finding people that know how to behave online? I learned early on, that many do.

I hopped on the Twitter train several years ago. It was quite evident that a lot of Twitter users did not comprehend that Twitter was a doorway to the world wide web. Several people that I followed were swearing and being very rude. Now, what could be debated, is what is rude in the year 2016 and what is not. Respect goes a long way in my book!

I later had a discussion with the company that hired me. I asked them, “Why did you ask me to come work for you?” Their response was, “You were the only person that had been engaging with us that had a trail of clean Tweets”. Really? I was stunned. I do not swear on social media channels, simply because, it’s not going to get me anywhere.

Social Media

If you choose to swear on your social media channels, keep this in mind. Many reputable companies will not hire you. Business owners want people that will respect themselves and others. How you behave online shows your true colors. It’s true… look around, you will quickly see what I am referring to.  If you have an online business and are looking to work with other companies, keep in mind, your online behavior is the first thing they will be looking at.

I often hear millennials say, “It’s how we are.” OK.. I understand that. But, I can also tell you that I know several millennials that are getting some very nice jobs because of their positive behavior online. The ones that are not getting the jobs they desire, are the ones complaining that nobody will hire them.

Think about it…. I would not be where I am today had I started swearing on my Twitter account seven years ago. I was hired because of my positive online behavior on Twitter. At that point I had not hopped on Facebook, and Instagram was not even a thought in 2009.

If you are not getting the jobs that you are looking for, you may want to look at your online behavior. If it’s less than respectable, change it now. In today’s online economy, you need to be smart and safe online. If I was looking to hire someone today, the first thing I would do, would be to comb through their social media channels. Photos and words speak volumes. The Grandma rule matters! If you don’t want to share it with Grandma, why post it online?

 

Angela of Bee Happy

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Angela Stephen

Bee Happy Video Productions on the job

The series continues here… North Iowa Women In Business. The new year has been exciting here in North Iowa.  I’m excited to continue this series, as we introduced you to Donna Hup last month. Each month I will be featuring one North Iowa Woman that has a business in North Iowa. I hope you will be inspired and challenged to see where your business can take you.

February 2016 features Angela Stephen of Bee Happy Video

Angela of Bee Happy

When did you start your business?
October of 2015

Why did you start your business?
I have worked for other companies being a videographer and editor. I have also done some freelance video work for the past seven years and decided that I wanted to start my own business doing what I am passionate about.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?
There’s going to be lots of learning experiences along the way, and that’s ok, as we all have to start somewhere and learn as we go.

Who has mentored you through the process of building your own business?
Networking with other entrepreneurs has been a huge help in starting my business. It’s nice to be able to talk to people who understand and have been where I am now. These people have given me guidance for a successful business. My husband, Ryan and my long time friend, Libbey Patton with the Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, have both been a big help. Also, the North Iowa Bloggers have been very helpful with tips and advice.

Do you belong to any business organizations? If so, which ones? 
Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce, Mason City Jaycees and North Iowa Bloggers

Tell us about your family.
My husband Ryan works for the Cerro Gordo County Department of Public Health as the IT Manager and luckily for me he uses his IT skills to help me with my business. Ryan has been a huge support helping me get my business up and going and I can’t thank him enough. My son, Bryce, is 12 and is my pride and joy. I love watching him play sports. Bryce enjoys playing percussion and piano. He has also been a big support with my business and is always interested in what I am doing with the business. Both of my boys can always make me laugh. I want to thank all my family and friends who have supported and encouraged my business.
Anything else?
I received my AA at NIACC and my BA at Waldorf majoring in Communications with an emphasis in electronic and print media. I worked at KIMT, one year in production and four years as the marketing producer. I have also freelanced for multiple companies.

Bee Happy Video offers: wedding videos, videos for businesses, event videos, VHS to DVD transfers, and social media for businesses.
Connect with Bee Happy Video through the following:

Facebook

Website

Twitter

 

 

 
Donna and bloggers

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Donna Hup

A new year with new goals brings lots of exciting things to my home base, which is in North Iowa. I’m excited to start this series, which is called North Iowa Women In Business. Each month I will be featuring one North Iowa Woman that has a business in North Iowa. I hope you will be inspired and challenged to see where your business can take you.

January 2016 features Donna Hup of donnahup.com

 

  Donna Hup

 

When did you start your business?
About 10 years ago, although I wasn’t aware that I was starting a brand.

Why did you start your business?
I started as a blog for my family. I was a cross-country, over the road, semi truck driver with my husband. I was taking pictures and posting so my family could see where we were. not long after someone showed me Google Analytics and I found out that people were reading my blog. It just grew from there.

What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?
Do it! Seriously, if you have a dream or want to start your own business, do it. Do your research, take your time, and most importantly don’t listen to the naysayers.

Who has mentored you through the process of building your business?
I can’t say that it was one person. My husband is an entrepreneur an has always given me really good advice, as well as encouragement and any help I have needed along the way. I like to read and watch. I read a lot of books and watch other women in business in how they do things.

Do you belong to any business organizations, if so, which ones?
I’m on the board of our town’s Chamber of Commerce

Tell us about your family: Myles and I live in the small town of Northwood, Iowa. I love small town, midwest living. We also have two cats.

Anything else?
I’m also a volunteer with the Middle School and High School students at our church in Albert Lea, Minnesota.

I hope you have been inspired by Donna’s story. Donna is a go getter, as she does not allow time for much grass to grow under her feet. She is an active participant in the North Iowa Bloggers and is always willing to share her knowledge with others.

Feel free to connect with Donna on the following places online.

donnahup.com
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

I hope you enjoy this series, as next month you will meet another North Iowa Woman that is going places with her business in North Iowa.