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!

Renee's Loving Care Storefront

North Iowa Women In Business Series: Featuring Renee Burdett

The North Iowa Women In Business Series continues with Renee Burdett of Renee’s Loving Care. Renee understands the challenges of caring for someone that is ill or aging in your life. We are blessed to have her as a resource here in North Iowa. Renee is a great example of giving back and an inspiration to women wanting to start their own business.

Renee Burdett

Business Name:

Renee’s Loving Care, LLC

Why Did You Start Your Business?

I started my business after taking care of my mother for three years. We were able to comply with her wishes of keeping her at home with us versus going to a nursing home. She wanted to stay in the comfort of our home where she had some privacy. I saw from my own eyes that she lived a healthier and happier life in the comfort of our home. After she passed I was blessed to have had the opportunity to take care of my family. I have taken care of several family members over the years who have become ill and also wanted to stay in the comfort of their own homes. I was able to fulfill their wishes and able to care for them until the end. I enjoy trying to give someone the best quality of life for whatever amount of time they have! At this point, I started to see more and more people had the same wishes, but they did not have anyone like my family members did to care for them. So… I decided to do what I felt was my calling in life and start my business and help others in need. This was the BEST thing I have ever done! I love what I do!

Renee and lift van

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

Go for your dream! Never think you can’t do anything. If you have a drive to make a difference, then reach out to others and find a way to make your dream come true.

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

I have done it all on my own with a VERY supportive family and friends who believed in me and I made it happen! If it wasn’t for my Mother telling me how much she appreciated all we had done for her at home. Her happiness encouraged me to push forward and my dream came to fruition. This idea would have never came to be without my Mother’s appreciation.

Do You Belong To Any Business Organizations, if so, Which Ones?

I volunteer with the ALS Foundation, and I am a member of the Aging Services Coalition.

Tell Us About Your Family.

I have been married to my husband Pat for more than 20 years and we live in Osage, Iowa. I have a son Joshua who is 34 and lives in Ames. I also have a daughter, Sara, who is 32 years old and lives in North Liberty. We moved back to Iowa in 1994 to be closer to family and I am so glad we did. As time went on, I lost several family members to illness, but I was able to help take care of them and spend quality time together. I feel I was meant to move back to Iowa when I did. Family is very important to me!

I absolutely love what I do! I love being able to help others. I have been very blessed to have had the opportunity to take care of friends, their families and past teachers. It feels so good to be able to give something back to those that have helped me through the years.

Stay Connected:

Website: Renee’s Loving Care

Facebook: Renee’s Loving Care

 

 

 

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.

 

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.
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?