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10 Tips to help you grow your business in 2017

Hello Bwahms,
Its the day after Christmas and my mind is on business.  My business, and what I need to do to make my business a success in 2017. Yes, the end of the year already and its time to think about how making some necessary changes in the year to come.  You may not need to change everything your doing, but you at least need to figure that out.  How can you figure that out if your not taking time to properly analyze the business you did in 2016?   Below I would like to share my 10 Tips to help you grow your business in 2017.

Update your Business Plan - Read over your business plan and update it with relevant changes that will show the growth you experienced in the previous year.  Whether you earned the money you hoped to or fell slightly short.  Take some time to review last years financial records and rewrite those parts of your business plan that need a fresh new perspective and a new plan of action.  
  1. Dream Bigger - Take timer to dream bigger than you did last year.  Set a new financial goal and write down all the ways that you plan to work toward achieving that goal.  Whether it be through a Crowdfunding Campaign or a new product.  Take the time to write down every possible aspect of the process.  Step by step walking it through in your mind and putting in on paper.  
  2. Visualize it - Visualize the success of your business.  What does it look like in 2017?  What has changed and how can you use this to your advantage?  Decide if you need to make some changes to your product line or the actual presentation of your product(s).  If you were not as successful as you wanted to be last year, you'll want to identify why. Once you have identified why, you will want to come up with new steps to help you get back on track and ways that will help you to stay on track.  You may want to consider getting a mentor and coach to help you maintain the momentum. Having a mentor will help you become accountable to another person who has your best interests at heart.  Someone you can respect and someone who believes in your success.
  3. Website Polls - Consider providing a Poll for visitors to your website or webstore.  Do they like the packaging?  Do they think its attractive?  What do they think of your products? You'll want to find out what brought them to your website and what they thought of your presentation. Once you have that information, then you'll be able to revisit the packaging and look of each of your products.  Taking into consideration what your clientele said, you'll then want to do some research and come up with a plan to maximize your sales using the information you received from visitors to your website.
  4. Social Media - Find out what the latest trends are on Social Media and use them to your advantage. If your not using Facebook as an online store, do some research and figure out if its worth considering.  There are several more Social Media platforms that you really should be using, Take the time to seek out as many Social Media outlets as you can. Now, on the other hand, if your spending way to much time on Social Media and find yourself doing personal things while your suppose to be conducting business, you may need to dial your presence back from certain Media Outlets.  Remember that what ever you do on Social Media, can be seen around the world.  Your reputation is on the line so make sure you always keep it professional.
  5. Prepare yourself for Change - Prepare yourself now for the changes of the new year.  Not only is it a new year, but you have more experience in business than you did last year.  If you got out there and met your customers than you know more people than you did last year.  If you went to networking events you may have met someone who will play a significant roll in your life and business this year.  If non of these things happened your life should change this year because you are going to incorporate these steps into your business life and network in 2017.  You should have learned something from the way you did business last year that will help you become closer to your successful vision this year.
  6. Fine Tune it - If its already working you may not need to make any major changes.  However, you may want to may a few minor changes.  Consider changing website colors during the holidays throughout the year.  Consider making a few subtle changes to your website to freshen it up to your returning visitors.  You don't want to have anything that looks stagnant.  Refresh it and perk it up if you have to. But do take a fresh new look at your website, your blog, your business cards and your online Ads to make sure it doesn't look outdated year after year.
  7. Step out of your comfort zone - Go on step out on a limb and do something you've always wanted to do in your business. Whether its create a new piece that comes from your imagination or do a retroactive piece with a twist.  Do something that makes you feel happy and fulfilled. After all we are in business because we believe in ourselves and hope that we can make a difference in the lives of those in the world around us.
  8. Build your Business Reputation - Its going to be a new year. Look at it as a new beginning for your business.  A chance to make a new start with new surprises and new opportunities. Think about joining a few different Networking websites to get the word out.  Linked In is a network where you can get great feedback from potential clients and also make business connections. In the African American Community you may want to take a look at the Black Business Network.  I'm going to assume you already had a Youtube Acct. as well as a Facebook page.  If not, your definitely out of the loop and its time to get signed up today.  Remember that part of building your reputation is being able to get out there and sell yourself.  Be it on a Youtube video or in a Twitter feed, you'll want to be sure your consistent with your web presence and always be honest with your audience.  Consider telling the story of why you started your business and use that leverage to reach into a niche market.  Be persistent when reaching for your goals and be sure you portray a sense of trustworthiness.  We all want and need to feel a certain amount of honesty as consumers. We can in no way fail our clientele by being less than honest or having anyone question our integrity.
  9.  Get Rest Not Stressed - Yes, number 10 on the list is about getting enough rest so that you have a rejuvenated body and a refreshed mind so that you can run your business at the highest level.  Its important to get a full nights rest so that you are able to think clearly and concisely and make well thought out decisions.  We've all seen the reports, so why not get the rest we need?  Consider joining the Gym and increasing that heart rate. If your working outside of the home you may be able to take advantage of a discount from a local gym.  If you can't afford to join a gym, you can walk around your neighborhood for free. Consider walking during the early morning or early evening.  Not only does walking lower your blood pressure, it will also relax you, help with digestion and burn body fat.  Those are all good things right?  There are so many things you can do to reduce your stress.  Take a much needed vacation, get yourself a pet or take a dance class.  These are all really good things we can do to have a well balanced life.
I'm sure you can think of many more steps to help you grow your business in 2017. We just wanted to give you a few tips to get those wheels moving around in your head.  We are very excited about the coming new year and can't wait to see how successful you become.

If you have a tip for 2017 that can help motivate other Bwahms, feel free to leave a comment and let us know.

No matter how long it takes

Twelve years ago, just six (6) months after my baby was born, and four (4) months after my father passed away, I started making handmade soaps.It wasn't because I watched a video on Youtube and imagined that I could do it myself.  This was in February of 2004 and I only knew three (3) people personally or through the internet that actually had a Youtube account.  I taught myself to create natural handmade soaps from raw materials because my baby would cry every time she had a bath.

I went on a search for books, websites, groups and magazines to learn the art of soap making.  Not very many went into detail and none of the lessons were on video during that time.  I wanted to know how to make natural REAL handmade soap from scratch without all the chemicals.  I wanted to teach myself how to create something that my baby could use, as a matter of fact, my entire family could use.  For the last twelve years off and on, I've been trying to teach myself how to create Melt and Pour or Transparent/Translucent handmade soap, again from scratch.   This past Sunday I tried again to create the soap, only to achieve another fail.  However, this try would have a totally different outcome.  Not only would I be able to save the failed batch of melt and pour soap for use.  I would find my saving grace in a Youtube video.  One posted over two (2 ) years ago.

There she was, this handmade soapmaker who wanted to test a theory about hot process soap.  After watching her video I decided to come home on Friday night and try out the same theory.  Taking my failed batch of Glycerine/MP/Translucent soap, I  went to work.  OMG, it worked.  It actually worked.  My failed batch had become MP and my world changed in that very instance.  I tried it again that night, again and again, and again.  Every time it worked.  The lesson had been learned and learned full well.

What was the lesson I learned?

What was the lesson I learned?  Well, that's what I want to share with you.  

After 12, almost 13 years, I finally learned how to make Glycerin Soap. Also known as Transparent or Melt and Pour soap.  However, that isn't the lesson I wanted to share with you.  What I want to share with you is something that is easier said then done.  I know you've heard the phrase " Never give up, Never."  No matter how long it takes. No matter what your doing.  Now matter how big your dream is.  "Never give up, NOT EVER".

In my opinion 12 1/2 years is a long time to to try to create something.  A long time to believe in one's self and keep going through failure after failure.  Only to try again and fail again.  Well, not so fast. Failure, though its not an option, is often times necessary.  The lesson that I learned after twelve (12) long years of failure, is that if it weren't for that one more failure I wouldn't have gone looking for an answer to why I had failed.  I wouldn't have gone to Youtube to search for soapers who had successfully made MP soap from scratch. Think about it. I've been trying to make MP soap on various occasions for twelve and a half years.  I used all the same ingredients and a few times I even used a few of the recipes I came across.  Though the other soapers I had watched the last few years had succeeded at making their MP soap, I hadn't.  Not only that. I wanted the satisfaction of an original formulation.  My own creation.  Turns out I had been missing the same exact thing every single time I tried to make this type of soap. Turns out, I had ALL the ingredients needed to make a successful batch of MP soap.  The universal reason why my attempts always failed was that I didn't use enough of that one main ingredient.

From the tested theory of the soaper on the Youtube video, and my willingness to test the same theory, I was able to trace my issue to that one main ingredient and turn my lack of knowledge and the failed outcome of my process into a success and in the photo above your seeing a photo of my first successful batch of Glycerin/Transparent/Transulcent/MP handmade soap, from scratch.  This lesson was a long time coming.  Its taught me a very valuable lesson. One that means more to me than I can possibly say.  It didn't come easy, it didn't come fast, and it didn't come without hard work, trials and alot of the same error. One more try.  One more chance. One more day, no matter now long it takes.  Don't give up, not now, not ever.  Don't ever give up on your dream.  You don't know when that one more try will be the try that becomes a success.  I'm a witness.

Let's Eat Green

So, now that your working from home, hows your health?
It doesn't take much to get out of bed, step to your computer and spend the next eight (8)  hours reading, blogging and getting the latest news of the day.  It does however take determination to organize your day so that your top priorities are at the forefront of your day.  Your working at home for a reason. To be there for the family.  Your not home to just to make money, your there to be a stay at home mom.  To be able to take your kids to the park, pick them up from school, put your daughter in dance and pick your son up from soccer.   Your goal was to be your own boss.  But not because you were incapable of working for someone else.  Rather you wanted to be your own boss so that you wouldn't hit the glass income ceiling or be told how much vacation time you can take or how long you can spend on your vacation.

Why I'm so over working for a corporation

Why I'm so over corporate America

For years I  wondered what it was like to work in corporate America. Then one day it happened.  I started working in the REAL Corporate America.  I'd worked in corporate America before.  But not like this.  I mean, I'm no baby to the job market.  I've worked for the largest retailer in the U.S.  Spent five years under that smiling face.  I've also worked for the K sign and the Bell. All of which were good jobs that allowed me to talk to others, meet people and move around.  Not just sit in a cubicle all 8 hours of my day earning a flat butt.

As I type this article, I'm sitting outside of my job in corporate America and I'm feeling stifled.  Yes, I said it. Stiffled.  I feel like this really good job that allows me to feed my family and take care of our needs, is becoming harder to mentally accept. I have to admit, its a really good job.  One that I prayed about for three years and moved all the way across the U.S. to work at.  Yes, I moved before I had ever put in a single application.  It was over a year after moving to the area before I actually got the job.  I then spent two years as a temporary employee doing the job before getting hired on.  Since I'm no spring chicken I knew there weren't many people expecting me to hang on and actually get this job.  Well, by the grace of God, I'm happy to say I'm STILL HERE.

 Yes, I'm working in that position that I basically had to fight for, prove that I could do and learn the culture.  Yet, from the beginning I've had no intentions of making this a 20+ year career.  Rather, I decided long ago that I would stay here a certain number of years and only while I'm building my own empire from home. I knew when I started that I didn't want to spend the rest of my life working for someone else.

Don't get me wrong, not only is this a really good job.  Its a coveted place to work.  Its one of those places were they give you free stuff, treat you like your important and they give you over 100 hours of PTO from the beginning.  They celebrate their employees once a year in a very big way and they show their appreciation every legal holiday and winter holiday season.

We laugh and we eat, we celebrate and we meet. ALOT.... If this company isn't forever having some kind of meeting.  Often times you can't even find your supervisor because they're in another meeting. But not me, I sit in my cubicle creating online invoices for our clients. One of the main things I find hard about corporate America is loyalty and trust. In the five years since I moved to this state and started working at this job, I've made literally what I believe to be one true friend.  One, yes one person that I would trust outside of my job and she no longer works at the office, so I don't get to see her anymore.  Bummer right?  I feel that way too.

Why I'm so over Corporate America.

So why am I so over corporate America?  Let me tell you.  First and foremost, its slowly killing my creative ability. Its what I would like to call a buzz killer. Not only does it drain you mentally, you walk away from the job feeling less than, no matter how well you've performed for the day.  The pay is just enough to make you feel Just Over Broke, yet you can't afford the vehicle you'd like to drive or the home you'd like to live it.  And I didn't say buy, I said live in.  Buying at this moment is simply out of the question.  Who can save any real significant amount of money when your seriously Just Over Broke?

If you don't know what I mean by this terminology, I'll tell you.  Its called having a JOB.  Yup, this is a job, not a career.  It provides me with very little peace of mind, however I am very thankful and blessed to have the type of job, working for the type of company that I work for.  Now, the question is, do I just this company to have my back?  Hell NO!  Sorry to curse, however there is no other way to put it.  Have my back, are you kidding me.  No way. We are talking about corporate
America where there is always someone ready to take your place, position and your problems.

I mean, think about it this way. You are suppose to cover the customers not your behind. Your suppose to follow the golden rule. Your suppose to get involved in the culture of the company and share your ideas of how they can do better and make improvements.  Yet you could get written up for going over your PTO time by 30 minutes.  Yes, you got that right, and if you get written up, you aren't allowed to apply for another job for over a year. Corrective action they call it.  Oh, and don't get in a confrontation with a co-worker.  It seems the entire team will feed you to the wolves and smile while your being eaten.  So, when I say I'm so over Corporate America, I seriously mean it.

I can't see myself here working for another 2-3 years, let alone 5-15 years.  Its just not possible for me to do.  I have to be my own boss.  By any means necessary.  I have no choice but to working outside of my job in corporate America.  I have no choice but to learn new skills, teach myself new techneques and get out of my comfort zone.  I have to do this for my family, but even more so for me.  I can't trust any one company to have my family or my wellbeing on their minds.  I have to make it work and stand on my own.

Well, lunch is over, back in to the building and back to case building for me. In a company that doesn't micro-manage, yet has eyes EVERY where.  OK, back to the honor system.

Networking Opportunities

The Black-Work-at-Home-Moms Network is looking to form Business partnerships and collaborations with individuals who fit into the demographic we represent within this Network.
These opportunities will be on a volunteer basis. We are looking for those who want to be a part of building this Network from grassroots stage. We are not seeking financial support at this time.
Our goal is to build a team that includes but not be limited to the following positive points:

You have leadership skills
Time to Invest
Entrepreneurial Spirit
Computer Skills
Familiar with Social Media Platforms
Expertise in your field
Content Writer - Journalism skills
Strong Work Ethic
You understand the VISION and SIGNIFICANCE of the BWAHM NETWORK.
EXCELLENT Communication skills
You think Outside of the box
Web design  and logo design
Bloggers and Vloggers with ample time to make scheduled Videos and Blog posts.
You know that this project is bigger than you. Your a team player.

Someone available to start immediately in where ever you fit in on an expertise level.

If you are interested in becoming a contributor and team member, please email me at mscleo@bwahm.com, so we can connect.
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