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.

 

Julie and Bruce Steinberg

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Julie Steinberg

One of my favorite things to do is share the faces of women in North Iowa that are making a difference. These are the women that are setting goals and going above and beyond. Julie Steinberg of North Iowa Collision Center is no exception. She understands customer service and she knows the value of building relationships.

 

WHAT IS THE NAME OF YOUR BUSINESS?

North Iowa Collision Center

WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

November of 1999 was when we officially opened our doors.

North Iowa Collision Building

WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

Overall, we enjoy working with people and helping them with their needs. Additionally, we started our business to have a bit more control of our working lives and to try to ensure a job for ourselves rather than working for another employer. We hoped to have a few employees with us on our venture. Looking back, we have accomplished our original goals. Over time we have almost tripled our workspace, over quadrupled our workforce, and far exceeded our highest sales goals. It’s grown into something much more than what we had originally anticipated. For that we are grateful.

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

There was (and still is) a lot of planning, which will be continued through the life of the business venture. We started with an idea and built out what we wanted that to look like from there. Having a good idea of what you want, forming and molding that idea until you are solid on which path you are going to follow is important. Never losing sight of your big goal, but having open eyes to what is sensible for your grand vision along the way is priceless. Building a good, solid reputation. That is done easiest and best, in my opinion, by building relationships. Working with a team that is outside your organization is very important too- your banker, your CPA insurance agent, John Pappajohn Small Business Center, and a business coach. These folks can be instrumental in keeping you on track and helping along the way with sensible decisions.

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

I would have to say there have been 2 individuals that I would consider my mentors, my husband and business partner, Bruce, and our CPA Tom.

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

Clear LakeMason City Chambers of Commerce, North Iowa Networking, Polka Dot Powerhouse- Clear Lake Chapter, and I do attend social media breakfast as often as possible.

TELL US ABOUT YOUR FAMILY

Having interests outside of work helps to keep you “fueled” for work. I love to travel, spend time outdoors, photography, reading music and spend time with family.

ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO TELL US?

Business ownership takes a lot of hard work and perseverance. But it is very rewarding when you get that repeat customer, a customer referred a friend or family member, or a thank you card in the mail, or the best….. a relationship built with another person.

 

Blog Buttons

Blogging Into 2018 And Beyond

There’s a lot of talk about how blogging is dead. Here’s my take on this topic. If you believe blogging is dead, it is. If you believe it is not, it is not. Sounds simple, right? Your blog is your online resume and if you don’t look at it this way, it will probably die out at some point.

Many people blog for different reasons. One of these is the fact that many blog for therapy and an outlet to write. That is perfectly fine. One of my favorite bloggers that writes with a passion of doing good for others, is Beth Ann of It’s Just Life. If you have not visited her blog, do it now! When you read her stories, you can hear her voice. Authenticity is the key when it comes to building your blogging community.

books and blogging

It’s true, a blog on your company website gives you the opportunity to share your story. Who doesn’t love reading a good story? Write stories that showcase your business and boom, you have new customers. Once they land on your company blog, this encourages people to click around and shop. This is one simple way to grow your business through online activity. If you are not a writer, your money could be well spent hiring someone to write stories on your company blog.

If you are new to the blogging space, as many are. The best advice I can give you is to write. The more you write, the more you share, the better you will become. I can tell you that Travel With Sara has evolved and continues to evolve. The Walking Tourists have worked hard and their new book is scheduled for release this spring.The blogging space is not dead. Make sure you have a plan. What does your plan look like and what is your end goal?

If you want to be a part of an accountability group in 2018, I have some spots open. The group is limited to 5 people and during our three-month journey together, we will take your blog & business to a new space. If you would like more information on this opportunity, email me at socialmediasara@yahoo.com and I will email you the details. The first five people to commit, will complete our group this go around.

Happy Blogging and here’s to business success in 2018!

 

Jenni Honn

North Iowa Women In Business Series Featuring Jenni Honn

Our North Iowa Women In Business Series continues. Meet Jenni Honn. Jenni is an up and coming woman in business in North Iowa, as a Rodan + Fields Consultant. Jenni was looking for something to help her grow as a person and she is soaring high in North Iowa.

WHEN DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

After using the products for close to four years and referring my friends and family to my sister, who is also a consultant, I decided to jump on board as a Consultant in June of 2016. At that time I thought if I could just earn enough money to pay for my own products I would be happy. In the past year, however; it has provided me so much more than that, both financially and personally. The personal growth I have had has been amazing!

WHY DID YOU START YOUR BUSINESS?

I have always suffered from terribly dry skin and had what I like to call a “product graveyard” in my bathroom cabinet. I tried it all, from cheap to expensive products, all claiming to be the best but none of them worked. When I started using Rodan+ Fields products, I immediately could tell a difference in my skin- it was no longer dry and flaking off. I loved the products but it just wasn’t the right time for me to become a consultant. Fast forward four years later to June of 2016, the company is quickly growing (the fastest growing skincare company in the U.S. for the past several years), my skin looks and feels great, and not a lot of people have heard of Rodan +Fieds. This company was founded by two practicing dermatologists that have clinical data to back their products and they have a 60-day money back guarantee. To me, these things were very important, so I decided to jump right in and see what happened. I had a fear of missing out on something big. This company is (and still is) in its infancy. I have seen first hand what this company has done for so many people across the United States. You get out of it what you put into it, as there is no glass ceiling. There is unlimited earning potential and who wouldn’t want that, right?

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

Take a chance and figure it out after that. My team name is “Team Chance” because I felt like I was taking a chance on myself and this company. I also appreciate the fact that my team also feels the same way. When it comes to the Rodan + Fields business opportunity, I tell people to jump right in and learn how to do it later. One of the best things about this company is that they give you all the tools and materials to be successful. There are resources galore. If you use them, you will find success.

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

I can’t name just one person. There is a tribe of people (men and women) that want me, and other consultants, to be successful and are willing to offer me advice, give me tips on what’s worked for them, coach me, and challenge me!

TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND YOUR FAMILY

Jenni Honn and Family

I have been married to my amazing husband for 16 years! We live in Mason City with our sons, ages 11 and 5. I volunteer my time to activities that my kids are involved in and like all adults, I am very busy! I literally have found success with Rodan + Fields by fitting it into the nooks and crannies of my everyday life.

For more information on the Rodan +Fields products and/or business opportunity, please email me at jennihonn@gmail.com or visit my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/honnjenni/

 
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.

 

Blogging

Tips For Working From Home Without Feeling Isolated

Working from home can be one of life’s most rewarding experiences. If you are someone who enjoys a challenge and the opportunity to set your own schedule, working from home is a good solution for you. I have worked from home for the past decade and I have some tips that can help you enjoy your work from home experience.

ONLINE NETWORKING

Working from home gives you an opportunity to meet many new people online. Use this opportunity to grow your business and make real online connections. Twitter is where I have made more business connections than any other social media platform. Facebook groups, as well as LinkedIn groups, give you more opportunity to make more online connections than ever before. Use your online networking time wisely and you will reap the rewards. The best tip I can give you in regards to online networking is to take those online relationships offline and let the magic happen.

GET DRESSED DAILY

Many would argue that they work fine in pajamas all day, not this entrepreneur. When I get up and get dressed, I am ready to conquer the world. When I sit around in pajamas, not so. There’s something about feeling confident about being dressed and “meeting” a new client from my home, would you agree?

EXERCISE

Make exercise a part of your day. If I find myself dragging throughout the day, I go for a walk, hop in the car to run an errand or tackle a room in my home that needs some attention. An hour of moving around will often reset my mind set, which will increase my daily productivity.

LOCAL NETWORKING GROUPS

Find a local networking group where you can have face to face conversations with like minded people. This could be through your local social media breakfast club or even hanging out in your local coffee shop.

Social Media Thrivent

The best thing about these two things, they are usually a free activity. Face to face conversations do matter and it’s up to you to make them happen. When you sit at home, buried in your office, those face to face, real life conversations will not happen. Skype is a great tool, but those face to face conversations still come out ahead in the long run.

INVEST IN YOUR BUSINESS

Invest in your business, it’s as simple as that. Conferences, training sessions and anything you can do to help you be a better business leader in your arena, go for it. The real life meetups have always helped me and reminded me of how important people are in my life.

Working from home is a great opportunity for many of us, so use your time wisely. Network online and then build upon those relationships offline. There is no reason to feel isolated when you work from home in our ever-connected world of today.

So, tell me! Do you feel isolated working from home or have you found ways to avoid this awkward feeling?

 

Laptop and Phone Social Media

Tips For Writing Your First Ebook

If you cruise through Amazon, you know that ebooks exist in our crazy, busy world of today. Have you read an ebook lately? I’m guessing you have. Many people are reading books on their digital devices and it looks to be a fun space to be in. I do know that people want things simple, straight forward and to the point. Ebooks do fulfill that desire.

I do not declare to be the world’s expert on writing ebooks, but I can tell you that I have written four of them and found them very easy to publish. I have a few tips to help you navigate through the process as you write your first one, so you do not make the same mistakes that I did.

desk black and white

 

START WRITING

If you have not written anything down, the first step is to write! If you are a blogger, you may even have an ebook in a blog post or two. Most importantly, start!

KDP (KINDLE DIRECT PUBLISHING) IS YOUR FRIEND

KDP, self publishing through Amazon is very easy to use. They literally walk you through the process of publishing, step by step. Have a title for your book in mind and you will be set. I sat on my first ebook for several months because I’m not a graphic design person, and I failed to realize that KDP does that for you! They will design a pretty cover for you, in less than one minute. Yes, one minute! I had read online that people struggled with placing their own photos on the cover, but after publishing my fourth ebook I realized it was very simple to do.

BE PATIENT

Once you have everything completed, you may have to wait up to 72 hours for your ebook to be available for purchase. The ebooks I have written have all been available for purchase within 6 hours. I’m thinking it depends on the length of the book and if you have photos in the ebook.

If you are looking for a new way to reach new people in your business, I would highly suggest entering the world of ebooks. It’s another way to share your knowledge with others and offers you the opportunity to make a little money along the way.

So, what are you waiting for? START!

I started and this is what I now have in my ebook portfolio. This library will grow rather rapidly, as it’s a fun way to share a story.

Top 10 Things To Do In Omaha, Nebraska

Top 10 Things To Do In Mason City, Iowa

Top 10 Things To Do In Clear Lake, Iowa

How To Start A Social Media Breakfast Club

 

December North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club

Growing Your Blog Is Easier Than Ever, Or So You Thought

There seems to be a misconception that growing a blog happens overnight. I entered into the blogosphere towards the end of 2008. At that time I had not jumped on any social media platforms. In fact, I had no idea what social media was or how it worked. I see and hear many people say, “I’m starting a blog and going to make a lot of money in a couple months.” I shake my head and think, “If you only knew.”

Blogging

I’m not going to tell you that people do not grow a blog quickly, as some do. In all reality, most bloggers learn skills and then find themselves marketable. It is work. For some reason, people think that bloggers lead a glamorous life of hanging out in the kitchen in pajamas all day, while building a following through the use of social media. It does not happen that way. Trust me, if you are only focusing on social media and not making real face to face connections, you will not be successful in this world of blogging. When you put yourself out there in your community, I can guarantee you will make connections that will be life changing, in a good way.

Social Media Thrivent

You may or may not like what I’m going to say, as this is a reality check for anyone in or wanting to enter the blogosphere.

BLOGGING IS WORK

If you are going to be successful growing your blog, you need to be present. This means you need to be writing, making videos and sharing through social media. You also need to be out networking to help you build the base of of your business. Nobody has ever said that building a business is easy, and I’m here to tell you that it is not.

BLOGGING IS ABOUT PEOPLE

Bloggers share their experiences to help people. If people weren’t around, there would be no audience. When conversations occur, business begins to flourish. When you offer a solution to a problem, your business will grow. People will find you, they will look up to you and respect your opinions. Write, make awesome videos, take great photos and share your passion. People will get to know you and relationships begin to form. Again, it’s all about the people, it’s not about you or social media.

books and blogging

BLOGGING IS NOT ABOUT LINK DROPPING

I see way too many new bloggers thinking that dropping links everywhere is going to take them to the top. It’s great to share content that others write, but what I see happening; is that bloggers are not focusing on the people. They seem to think that a blog will grow overnight through the use of social media. When you combine social media and meeting others in real life, that is when your blog will grow. Again, it’s called work.

When you become the expert in your arena, wonderful things will begin to happen with your blog. The time you have spent building on relationships, the social media breakfasts you attended and the networking events you invested in will take your blog to a new level. These ladies in North Iowa have been my inspiration to work harder every single day.

Sky Deck Bloggers

I can also tell you, that success looks different for everyone and it will look different from what you set out for it to look like. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would be part of a business that is a media sponsor at the Women In Travel Summit in Milwaukee. This opportunity came out of face to face connections, it did not come from link dropping or staying in my kitchen 24/7. I met Lisa of The Walking Tourists, in person, and have not looked back since.

Lisa and Sara

Do you want to grow your blog? The best advice I can give you is to connect with a blogger that inspires you and meet up in person. Your blog and your life will be on a path that will take you to a level you never imagined to be possible. Think big and work hard! If I can do this, anyone can.

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!