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?

 

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

 

 

 

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.

 

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.

Your Time Is Now – Make It Happen

If there is one thing we are promised it is the moment we are in, right now! I often see people asking when they should start a business or a blog. Really? Why waste all of your time and energy asking, when it would be much smarter to invest your time and money into the doing! I am an entrepreneur. I get that you want the time to be right, but in all honesty if you wait for the “right” time, you will be waiting your whole life.

 

Make It Happen

When you dig in with all you have, that’s when things begin to happen. Your blog will not magically appear when you spend all of your time asking others about a title, a hosting service or even when or how often you should post. I see this over and over again…seriously, just do it!

I have learned more from the mistakes I have made by doing. Sure, I have asked a lot of questions along the way, and will continue to ask. Most importantly I will continue the doing part. Once you stop doing, your business comes to a halt. Many people stop because they don’t understand that their customers are changing, yes, that does happen!

There is nothing wrong with evolving. Most successful business owners will tell you that in order to be successful you will need to continue to evolve. I have learned this myself, as I have dug in and made things happen. In 2009, I can tell you that the words North Iowa Social Media Breakfast Club never crossed my mind. In 2012, the words began to cross my mind and in 2013 I dug in and made it happen.

When you actually take the time to DO, that is when the magic happens! By doing you learn what works great and you also learn what does not work so great. The best things I have learned, as a small business owner, is that in order to grow, mistakes will come and I have learned from them. By doing, I have learned so much more than anyone else could ever show me. I could spend 24 hours a day asking questions of others on social media and get absolutely nowhere. Instead, I have chosen over and over again to dig in and make things happen!

So, if you are caught up in asking others what you need to do to get your business going, why not just do it? Life is to short to spend time doing nothing. Share your passion with others and live your life! Trust me, you will be grateful that you took the plunge to make it happen. The people you meet will continue to bless your life in ways you never imagined. Making a difference in the lives of others is a terrific feeling and I hope that each of you can experience the joy that I have been able to experience.

What are you waiting for, Christmas? Please don’t, get out and make it happen TODAY!

SM Breakfast February 2015

An Entrepreneur Is…….

I’ve been doing a lot of soul searching lately in regards to who I am. I started blogging a little more than six years ago and out of my blogs I have grown this business. It has been a fun journey and I have learned so much about myself that I thought I would share it with all of you. I have never seen myself as a successful entrepreneur until this morning.

Entrepreneurs Think Differently

You are probably asking, how so? When I have an idea I literally take it and run with it. I do not sit around and analyze how it may or may not play out. I look at it this way, if I never try, I will never know how it would have been. And you know what? 98% of my most successful projects have happened this way. The other 2% happened out of a project not working out as I learned what I had to improve on to make it happen and BOOM- Success!

Entrepreneurs Do Not Know The Word Never

The word never is not a part of my vocabulary, as there is always a way to get things done.

Entrepreneurs Love The Word No

The word NO literally opens a new doorway of opportunity. When I hear the word No, I am instantly trying to figure out where and how I need to find the word YES! Believe me, I have heard the word No more times than I care to tell you.

Entrepreneurs Surround Themselves With Awesome People

I know the term “good people” sounds kind of vague, but in all seriousness find people that have integrity and have the same work ethics you do. Honesty and integrity will carry you more miles than you will ever imagine.

Social Media Breakfast Group With Jody

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most rewarding life experiences I have ever had. Day in and day out I get to dream big, meet inspiring people and create my own destiny. How cool is that? I’d love to hear about your experience as an entrepreneur and why you love what you do.