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.

 

 

Tips For Making 2016 Your Best Year Ever

The New Year seems to come and go like lightening speed. 2015 shaped up to be an awesome year for myself. I’d like for you to have your best year every in 2016. I am personally eyeing 2016, as I know it is going to be better than 2015! Here are some tips that helped me grow my business in 2015. If you do these things, you will have a great chance at making 2016 your best year ever. Find new partnerships and let the magic unfold.

Midwest Summit Team

BE YOURSELF

When it comes to you and your business, be yourself. People want to get to know you and who you are. You can look at things your competition is doing, but it’s never OK to copy them. I see this a lot. People want to be like someone else. Truth of the matter is the fact that these people are making things work for their customers, and you need to reach out to your customers in your way. Find someway you can make you and your business stand out. Look at what your competition is not doing and then see how you can find a way to implement that into your business.

Social Media

NETWORK

We all hear that networking matters. I’m here to tell you, that it does matter. When you attend an event, make a point to meet someone new. If you are attending a conference, challenge yourself to meet one new person in every session you attend. It’s fine and dandy to sit by people you already know, but in the grand scheme of things, it’s not going to help you grow your business. Make new connections through social media. When you nurture your online relationships, magical things do happen.

USE A VISION BOARD

A vision board helped me in 2015. In September of 2015, I checked off item number 9 of my 2015 vision board. I had met all of my 2015 goals. How did I do it? I challenged myself by setting goals that I knew I would have to work to achieve. This list eyed me daily. Place your vision board where you will see it on a regular basis and talk about it. You can reach all of your goals in the New Year. If you don’t, just add them on to the next year and ask yourself why you did not meet your goal. Change things up and meet that goal first thing in the New Year.

I’m excited about 2016 and can’t wait to see where it goes! I’ve loved helping several clients in 2015 reach their business goals and it’s also been fun to explore new travel destinations. I am so grateful for those that have supported me in 2015 and can’t wait to see where 2016 takes all of us.

When we work together, great things happen. I’m always looking for new ways to partner with other businesses, and 2016 is no exception. If you have a business idea, I’d love to hear about it. If it’s not a good fit for my business, I would love to help you make that connection.

So… tell me! What one thing would you like to see happen in your business in 2016? I’d love to hear about it and be a cheerleader for you and your business.

 

Lori Lite Twitter

How Social Media Has Changed Me For The Better

People often share why they have opted to hop out of the social media world and it makes my brain begin to spin. I hopped on the social media wagon long before many of my friends and neighbors did in North Iowa, but that’s ok with me. I managed to find business connections when many in my local arena, were not. Social media provided that avenue for me. A few years later, I realized that I had grown a business. I did not take my pedal off the gas, I kept pushing forward, and I still keep moving forward today!

Business connections through social media

Social media has shown me that there are many good people in this world. It is through Facebook and Twitter that I have been able to stay in contact with people that inspire me on a daily basis. It may be through a status update or a Tweet that inspires me to keep chugging along. I appreciate that!

Through Twitter I quickly realized that I could follow people that had the same interests as myself. I engaged, had a conversation and woooahhh, next thing you know, I was meeting people in real life. And that my friends is where the magic happens. Build a relationship through social media and then continue to build it offline. Had it not been for Twitter, I can tell you that Lori Lite, of Stress Free Kids, and I would never have connected. We took our relationship off line and magic happened. She spoke at a conference here in North Iowa this past Fall, all because of Twitter!

Lori Lite Twitter

Social media is a place where I can share a little insight into life on an Iowa farm, which is very important to me. A wise business coach once told me, “Why would you forget about where you came from?” True… Iowa is very important to me and I will keep Tweeting about Iowa and posting those status updates. Our state is not heavily populated, but we are home to more than 3 million people. And my little voice is heard, once in a while.

I do think about others more often because of social media and that my friends, is a good thing! Any business person will tell you that it’s not because of you, the business owner, it’s the people that you do business with that help you grow. Every single one of you that is reading this has made me a better person and I thank you for that!

Keep Tweeting, posting those status updates, as you inspire me to make a difference in our sometimes crazy, chaotic world! Go out and be “that person”- the one that makes a difference in your community! If you are one of those that has opted to jump off of the social media world, I hope you will consider hopping back on. There are good people waiting to get to know you and inspire you to do good in the world.

 

Tony Halsted

What To Expect At The Midwest Social Media Summit

Marketing Midwest Logo

The Midwest Social Media Summit is slated for October 24, 2015 at the Muse Norris Center at NIACC in Mason City, Iowa. You may be wondering what this day is all about. Here’s a quick run down of what you can expect and what you can do to prepare for the day. It’s also important to note that lunch is included in your ticket price.

First of all, the Midwest Social Media Summit is being organized by Social Connections, LLC, NIACC John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, Clear Lake Chamber of Commerce and the Webster City Chamber of Commerce. We want folks in North Iowa to understand how to market their businesses when it comes to social media. Marketing today is much different than it was 15-20 years ago.

Just yesterday I read a quote that said that the seven most expensive words in business are- “We have always done it that way”. Can you relate? Like it, love it, hate it- Change is a part of our daily lives. When social media is used as part of your marketing program, your business can grow. Notice I said the word part. Social media cannot be all of your marketing, it’s a small slice, yet extremely important part of your marketing program.

If you think your community is to small for social media, think again.

Tony Halsted

Speaker Tony Halsted runs Hoover’s Hatchery in Rudd, Iowa (population 360) and his topic is: How we used social media to reinvigorate a 70-year old family business to multiple year-over-year sales growth greater than 30%. This is just one example of what you will learn while attending the Midwest Social Media Summit.

Attendees that want hands on help in setting up a Facebook Business Page, the North Iowa Bloggers will be on hand to assist. They will also offer tips on how you can be successful using your Facebook Business Page.

Want to learn more about Twitter and Instagram? We’ve also got that covered.  Lori Lite of Stress Free Kids  met with the sharks on Shark Tank during Season #1. Lori has used Twitter to grow and evolve with her business.

Lori Lite

Social media gives business owners the chance to have daily conversations with their customers. Come and learn how to begin the conversation and grow your business. We want to see you at NIACC on October 24th.

What to bring:

Business Cards

Laptop or tablet (especially if you would like some one on one assistance)

Notebook/writing utensil

A willingness to learn

There you have it! Be ready to have fun and learn. Social media is a fun and exciting topic and I look forward to meeting all of you on October 24th.

SM Breakfast February 2015

Tips For Making New Business Connections In Your Community

Making new business connections in your community should be one of the simplest things you can do. With social media and local coffee shops there is really no excuse for not making new business connections. The one thing that will stop you in your tracks, is you! Social Media Breakfast Club in North Iowa is one of the easiest ways to meet new people to do business with. We meet the fourth Wednesday of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m. at First Citizens National Bank(Heritage Room) in Mason City, Iowa. If you don’t have a Social Media Breakfast Club in your community, the best advice I can give you is to start one ASAP!

SM Breakfast February 2015

 

Fact of the matter is, if you want to get better at what you do, you will have to put yourself out there. And I mean that in a nice way. Join your local Chamber of Commerce, attend functions that fit you and your business profile and most of all, talk to people. Starting those initial conversations is easier than ever. Follow a new to you connection on Twitter and let the conversation happen. From there, take the conversation off of Twitter and meet up at the local coffee shop. Seriously, Twitter is where I have personally made more business connections than any other social media platform. By connecting online and then taking the conversation offline, magical things begin to happen.

If you are a blogger, introduce yourself to a local business. Chances are they have no clue what a blogger does. Show them your blog and offer to showcase their products on your blog. Once this local business sees that you are serious and you do have reach, you will more than likely find yourself working with this local business in some way, shape or form.

If you are still with me, you have probably picked up on the fact that this is not rocket science. It involves reaching out to people within your community and making things happen. You are your only stumbling block and once you take that first step, the doors will open up in ways you never imagined. When you take the necessary steps to put yourself out there, your business will grow through local business connections.

So, tell me- Are you involved in your community? I’d love to hear how you are meeting new people and making those business connections.