Miriah Whitehurst

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Miriah Whitehurst

Meet Miriah Whitehurst of All Things Advertising. I met Miriah Whitehurst a few years ago and it’s been fun to watch her business evolve. As with any business owner, Miriah and her business  continue to evolve as she listens to her clients needs. One thing I really love about Miriah is her passion for helping others. She not only wants her clients and their businesses to succeed, she wants them to succeed in everyday life, as well. It’s evident that she is one busy lady and does not let much grass grow under her feet.

WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR BUSINESS?

All Things Advertising

WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

November 2013

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A WOMAN WANTING TO START HER OWN BUSINESS?

There will never be a perfect time to start your business. If you wait for your product or service to be perfect, someone else will.

Miriah can be found working with business owners and employees at different events throughout North Iowa.

Miriah educating others

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

We have so many great opportunities and people in our community who will support you in growing your business. The John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center, ActionCOACH Andy O’Brien, Polkadot Powerhouse and the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club are just a few.

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

I enjoy serving on the board for United to Serve, a nonprofit organization that focuses on building Leadership Education in our area, helps facilitate community involvement while helping to keep North Iowa on the map. I also enjoy volunteering on the Events Committee for the Mason City Chamber of Commerce and attending leadership events, where I was recently on Jeffrey Gitomers Sell or Die Podcast. I am also a founding member of the Polkadot Powerhouse Clear Lake Chapter.

Editorial Calendar

How To Remain True To You and Your Business

I have been in this online space for 10+ years and I’m always curious as to why people do what they do. The easy way out, in my opinion, is to do what everyone else is doing. In the grand scheme of things, who will want to do business with you if you don’t set yourself apart from the masses? You need to be you! Be you and you will go far and make a lot of waves where ever your business takes you.

Sara Tuckaway Shores

Fact: The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club exists because I saw a need for real-life connections, with folks with an interest in social media. It became such a hit that I even wrote an ebook on How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club.

FACEBOOK GROUPS

It seems these days that there is a Facebook Group for this and that, and many join every single one that pops up. This is an example of how not to grow your business and how to follow the masses. It’s no secret that Facebook Groups offer fabulous business opportunities, yet we each need to know why we are joining these groups. Remember that Facebook Groups offer a sense of security, and people often forget that these groups are still the world wide web. Understand why you need to be in these groups and make sure you are not in them to follow the masses because someone else is doing this. Tip: Never add people to Facebook Groups without their permission.

KNOW YOUR WORTH

It’s important to know your worth. If you don’t, how would you expect others to know your value? I see a lot of people going online and asking people what they should charge for this and that. In reality, it’s your business, your rates and you are in the driver’s seat. Why would you, the business owner, let others determine your worth? I’m still trying to figure this one out.

FIND YOUR PEOPLE

Now, this does not mean that you join every networking group on the planet because everyone else is joining this and that group. What this means is that you join a group that will support and help you grow as a person, which in turn will help you grow your business. I have found my people through the North Iowa Bloggers, Polka Dot Powerhouse, North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club, Midwest Travel Bloggers and the friends that have welcomed me into the auction world as the social media instructor at World Wide College of Auctioneering. When you find people to connect with in real life, that is where the magic happens.

Sara teaching auction school

The relationships that you form offline are valuable in our ever-connected world today. I’m a firm believer that there is a time and a place to connect online. But, time and time again, I continue to see the best movers and shakers in any industry are the ones that build offline relationships. How are you remaining true to yourself and avoiding the temptation to follow the masses? I’d love to hear how you have tackled this issue.

Jessica Tierney

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Jessica Tierney

I love it when I meet women that are rocking the business world in North Iowa. Jessica Tierney is one of these women that is a mover and shaker. Her passion shows through her love of what she does and I know you will enjoy getting to know her. There is never a dull moment when you are near this entrepreneur that is making a positive difference 365 days of the year, wherever her business takes her.

WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR BUSINESS?

North Iowa Women’s Self-Defense Initiative

WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

I spent 13 years working with victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse, which is what first got me interested in self-defense. I have been in the self-defense field for 20 years. I had gotten more into training other self-defense instructors across the country over the past several years and wanted to get back to my roots of working directly with women. I wanted to help them with personal safety and self-defense skills, which is why I founded NIWSDI. Violence against women is a prevalent issue in our society, even here in rural North Iowa, and I am passionate about empowering women.

Jessica Tierney

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A WOMAN WANTING TO START HER OWN BUSINESS?

You’ll probably be spending a fair amount of time and energy in your business, so I think the most important thing is making sure it’s something that you are passionate about, something that excites you and makes you happy. A strong support system is vital, as well; a group that is going to celebrate your successes and give you strength and support during the times it’s not going as well. Surround yourself with strong, positive, supportive women. Organizational skills and good time management are important as well. Your business should be your passion, but that doesn’t mean you want it to take over your entire life.

DO YOU BELONG TO ANY BUSINESS ORGANIZATIONS?

I am a member of the Mason City Chamber of Commerce. I am also a member of the Polka Dot Powerhouse, which is a networking group of businesswomen that has given me a ton of support and assistance. It’s an organization that I would definitely encourage every businesswoman to get involved with.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY:

I have been married to my very supportive husband, Jeff Tierney, for 24 years. I have 18-year-old twin sons, Drew and Xander, and a 113 pound dog named Turner.

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Reasons Why Your Community Needs To Be Instagram Worthy

My eyes were again opened to the fact that there are many places that are losing out on getting their name out there because they are home to a historical landmark that is not Instagram worthy. I was recently in a large city in the Midwest, traveling with two friends. One lives on the east coast and the other lives on the west coast. Many of you know that I pride myself on what we have to offer here in the midwest, but I will admit it, I was downright embarrassed when I took them to a site that should have been warm and welcoming. Lo and behold, the site was downright dirty and disgusting.

Sticks and Leaves On Sidewalk

 

Here’s the issue at hand. I know that the general argument is, “We are coming out of winter.” My traveling friends from the east and west coast don’t care, they expected to take photos of this historical site, possibly write a story about it and even pitch it to a large magazine or newspaper. Due to the fact that it was so downright ugly and not Instagram worthy, not one story will be written or a photo shared on social media. Living here in the Midwest, we often become immune to how things look around us during the cooler months of the year. This photo that I took captured what the rest of the area looked like. If you live in the Midwest, I’m assuming you are thinking, “So what?” Well, it’s time we start turning the “So what?” into something that is Instagram worthy.

This should be a wake-up call to business owners everywhere. How many times have you lost out on a story, social media shares or positive conversations about your business at your local coffee shop due to the fact that you were not paying attention to how your business appeared? With more than 800 million people using Instagram it makes sense to have used a broom or maybe opened up a gallon of paint.

The irony of this particular place is that someone opened the gates so we could walk through this historical site. The windows that held clothing and other items worth viewing were so dirty that a one minute wipe down of the window would have done wonders. The person that opened the gates, in my opinion, could have used a broom and/or rake in places. Again, I’m sure there’s an excuse.

The point being, if you make excuses for everything that drives business away, in the long run, you will not have a business. So, my challenge to you is to look around. Does your business need a little tlc to make things Instagram worthy? If it’s not Instagram worthy, it’s probably turning business away.

 

 

Barn at Enchanted Acres

How To Keep Your Seasonal Business Active On Social Media 365 Days Of The Year

Seasonal businesses are seasonal. This does not mean that your business goes to sleep in regards to social media during your offseason. Here are some tips on how you can keep the conversation going, all year long.

BE PRESENT

Many of you have heard me say this over and over. It does matter! If you are not present, your customers will move on to your competition. Customers want to know that you are serious about your business and they want to know that you care. If you own a Christmas tree business, you are more than likely ramping up your social media game by the time October rolls around. For example, a Christmas tree farm waters their trees, they may have to mow around the trees, and they may even offer seasonal merchandise. A great way to drum up some conversation in the offseason is to ask questions that relate to your business. You, the business owner, can take that information and apply that to your marketing and products for the next season

ENCOURAGE REVIEWS

Encourage your past customers to leave you reviews during the offseason. You can incorporate this into your email signature. Incorporate your asking for a review in a blog post and share it through all of your social media channels. You may need to lead the conversion by asking, “What is your favorite memory of your day with us?” or “Share your pictures of your day with us!”

PROVIDE HELPFUL CONTENT

During the offseason, you can gain a lot of traction by sharing helpful information. For example, if you own a boating business, you could write blog posts about tips for storing your boat, tips for taking your boat our of storage, tips for keeping things nice in your boat while it’s in storage, or even offering stories about the best lakes and streams for boating in your area. If you own a pumpkin patch, such as Enchanted Acres, you may want to talk about how to choose the ultimate pumpkin during the offseason.

Enchanted Acres Iowa

Most importantly, make the time to grow your business during the offseason. The people that you meet along the way, will quite often turn into your biggest fans.

 

How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you someone that enjoys being a connector? A fun way to help connect people in your home town is to start a social media breakfast club. Here in my hometown of Mason City, Iowa we have been gathering to talk about social media for 3 1/2 years now. Our meetings are very simple and they bring people together. Each meeting is different an it’s not uncommon for us to focus on doing something good through social media for our community, as well.

Social Media Thrivent

Let’s face it, everyone is going this way and that way. Nobody wants to take the time to slow down and talk to their neighbors. Our North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is just that. We talk to each other, we share stories and we also talk about social media. Some of us do have our smartphones out and others have a notepad and paper. But, the best part out of the day is that people are making new business connections.

When people connect with others, they have more self confidence and their communities begin to thrive. The most rewarding part of leading our social media group in North Iowa has been the fact that businesses are growing, out of the contacts that they are making at these monthly meetings. It’s not uncommon for an attendee to walk away with a “paid” gig in their pocket and a new friend or two.

My phone started ringing a year ago and it was then that I started to write my experience down. Several communities are now hosting their own social media breakfast clubs, as many started based out of the model we have in North Iowa. If you would like to start a social media breakfast club in your area, here you go How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club is available for purchase at$2.99.

SM Breakfast Book Cover

As an entreprenuer, I have found that this is a great way to meet other people that are also working in their homes. Those that work from home are often longing for the opportunity to meet new people that think like they do, and this is the perfect opportunity. Go ahead, start your social media breakfast club and update me as to how it is going. I’d love to hear about it!

Cupcake Bakers

The 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown Was A Smashing Success

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club was recently home to the 1st Annual North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown. Several cupcake makers from all across North Iowa brought their cupcakes to share, and social media breakfast club attendees learned how online reviews work. This event came to fruition after a few of our attendees noticed that North Iowans were flocking to the out of town cupcake truck that comes to North Iowa. We thought this would be a great way to showcase what our North Iowa Cupcake bakers have to offer.

I would personally like to give a shout out to Sweet Tooth Cupcakes, Cupcakes By Ivy, Nameless Gourmet and taste by Unc’s Cheesecakes, Inc. and Happy Sweets Cupcakes.

cupcakes

Without these participants this event would not have been held. Pat Palmer of The Computer Guy put a program together that shared how online reviews impact businesses. He also hosted a Facebook for Business Class that was held a couple days before the event.

The North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club is a group of people that meet monthly to learn how to be smarter and safer online. From online safety to building your business through social media, several topics are covered throughout the year. Meetings are held in the Heritage Room at First Citizens Bank, 2601 4th SW Mason City, on the fourth Wed. of every month from 8:30-10:00 a.m.

If you have an interest in social media, you will enjoy these meetings. The group is casual and eager to learn more in regards to social media.

Congratulations to Kim of Sweet Tooth~ Kim was the winner of the North Iowa Cupcake Throwdown.

Kim of Sweet Tooth

Online reviews are important when it comes to your business. If you are a business owner, are you paying attention to what people are saying online about your business? It’s important to remember that it’s up to you, the business owner, to share your story. The fact of the matter is, if you don’t, someone else will share it for you and it may not be in the way you would like it shared.

If you are a cupcake baker we would love to see you participate in our 2017 event. Follow Social Connections, LLC Facebook page for business and social media tips, as well as information about the North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club.

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Simple Tips For Using Instagram In Your Small Business

Instagram is a beautiful place to be on social media. From photos to life experiences, there’s a lot of beauty shared on this social media platform. Do you recall the last photo you loved on Instagram? Chances are, you probably do and you will return to that Instagram account.

Social Media

Small business owners have an opportunity to share what they do on a daily basis through Instagram. It’s one of the simplest ways to share your story. Here are some simple tips to help you grow your business through Instagram.

INVEST IN A SMARTPHONE

I meet many small business owners on a weekly basis that do not own a smartphone. That is the first step you need to take when it comes to using Instagram in your business. Small business owners need to invest in a smartphone. Posting photos to Instagram is so easy and it will seriously take less than five minutes out of your day.

SHARE QUALITY PHOTOS

Post photos on Instagram that are eye catching. This means that your photo is not blurry and rich in color. I personally own the Samsung Galaxy S7 Smartphone and love the photos that it takes. I have very little photo editing to do with the majority of the photos I post.

USE HASHTAGS

Hashtags are fantastic on Instagram! Be sure to use several. On Instagram it’s OK to use 10-15 hashtags on a post. Keep in mind, this large number of hashtags is spam on other social media platforms. Use hashtags that are relevant to your business. For example, if you are a farmer, you can use #agriculture #harvest16 #soybeans #wheat #corn. If you own a jewelry store, your post could include the hashtags #jewelry #bracelet #fashion #MothersDay or others specific to your area. When you use these hashtags, more people will stumble on your Instagram account and hopefully click on follow.

Instagram is a fun platform to use. I use Instagram a lot when I travel. In fact, my husband and I rerouted on a recent road trip, due to a hashtag search on Instagram. We found an area in Florida that we had no idea existed, due to a quick Instagram search.

I’d love to hear how you are using Instagram in your small business. It’s an easy social media platform to use and it will not take a lot of time to use. These simple tips can help you grow your business through Instagram. Most importantly, download the Instagram App and start!

Looking for a new Instagram account to follow? Travel With Sara has some great travel ideas for you on Instagram.

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.

 

Social Media

True Colors Shine Through Social Media

I watch a lot of what happens on social media and it saddens me that people can be so brazen. I recently met a new person in my community and thought they were a nice person, until they left a very rude, threatening comment to a Facebook friend of mine, through Facebook. This made me think…. do your true colors shine through social media?

So, what did I learn from this observation? I learned that some people cannot be trusted. I have always been a trusting person and it’s obvious, a little too trusting. I am now going to look at this person in a different light. Right or wrong, I’m not sure. If there’s one thing I do know, it’s the fact that I don’t need those kind of people in my life. I choose to surround myself with upbeat and encouraging people. North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club attendees are some of the most positive, upbeat North Iowans that I know.

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Are you the person online that you wish to be? Do you think before you actually post or do you just let it all roll? It’s in your best interest to “think” before you post. We all can get caught in the heat of the moment and post something we regret. What’s interesting is the fact that this brazen comment is still there…… this person must have meant to post what they did.

Here’s how your true colors can shine through social media in a good way!

  • Make it a point to make one positive comment to one social media friend, every single day you are on that social media platform.
  • Do not post when you are in the heat of a moment.
  • If you have a positive experience at a local business, leave them a positive review on social media. Lets face it, it’s often easier to leave a negative comment, so let’s make a difference in that!
  • Share the good things happening in your community through social media.

I firmly believe that if we all focused on the good in others, we would have happier communities and healthier relationships. Are your true colors shining through social media? I believe mine are and I’d like to think I’m making a positive difference, in a good way.