If you’re not prepared to be wrong, you’ll never come up with something original ~ Ken Robinson
Entrepreneurship and starting a small business are the process of trial and error. If everything we do and all our decisions end up working out positively every time; we risk losing the opportunity to learn and to grow. Having the courage to make mistakes provides entrepreneurs with new knowledge they would not otherwise have learned. There is always a safe path. It’s well lit and well worn. There are many others who have gone before and led the way. Those on the safe path live on the path and never wander from it. It’s safe. Why would they want anything else?
Entrepreneurs don’t seek out safe. We look for new. We reach for unique. We start our own path. It’s risky. And it’s filled with the unknown. Sometimes we even look back and think maybe we should go back and take a safe path. Then, we look a bit further ahead and something catches our imagination and we move forward again with a renewed vision.
Entrepreneurs not only test the boundaries of an idea; we push past the boundaries and explore the unknown. And when we reach the point where we have learned what we sought, we should be content. But no. Entrepreneurs continue to reach forward to the next point on the horizon. For us, it’s not the destination, but the journey that calls to us. We are intrigued by the world. We ask “Why?” and “Why not?” And we discover “How” to solve a problem that no one knew existed.
I don’t see failures as being wrong. I see being wrong as an opportunity to learn. The only failure is in giving up before you discover the answer you seek.
I am constantly looking at what I do. My “Why” is unchanging. My “Why” is fed by my passion. What I do and how I do it; these things continually develop and grow. Ideas are refined and refitted. Entrepreneurship and running my own business is perfect for me. It’s my calling. I’ve always been the person to constantly be improving my processes at work and at home. I try to find new ways of doing things that will be easier, or that will get improved results. My end goal has always been the same; help others to become successful.
As I round the corner on the end of my first full year as a business entrepreneur I look back at the failures and I marvel at the incredible knowledge I have gained through these challenges. Zig Ziglar says, “Failure is an event, not a person”. I also look at the successes of the past year with quiet pride. I am excited about the unknown journey ahead in my second year and I can’t wait to try out and share my new ideas. If I’m not making mistakes, I’m not trying hard enough.
How much does a website cost?
This is the question everyone wants to know but are sometimes afraid to ask; or tell, depending on which side of the table you are on.
Determining the cost of a website involves several factors:
- The purpose of the website: On-line Brochure, E-Commerce, Gallery
- The needs of the company: CMS which allows you to make some of your own changes and additions or custom coding which requires a designer to make all the changes
- The clients budget
There are other factors and considerations that can affect the cost of a website.
Does the client require:
- Photography services?
- Image editing and resizing?
- Image sliders and carousels?
- Content writing?
- Custom designed top and side banners?
- Social media integration?
- Event calendar?
- Google analytics?
All of these features will add into the total cost of your website. And depending upon the designer or developer these add-ons can have a significant impact on your final cost. I want to take some time here to point out the difference between a web designer and a web developer. A web designer creates a website for you with the overall design and aesthetics of the site being the most important aspect of the project. A web developer creates a website for you with the purpose of ensuring the best functionality and technical stability. The designer will often use a CMS to create the website. While a developer will often create a site with custom code. However, some designers are also capable of writing code and some developers are also capable of creating custom graphical elements for the website. A good designer or developer will be clear about their skills and capabilities to you upfront and will bring in someone to complete parts of the project that they are not expert in; if you, the client require this. Again, this will add to your cost.
Who should create my website?
Who you decide to hire will depend on who you feel most comfortable with, regardless of whether they are a designer or a developer. Choose a website designer/developer that you feel you can work with and who understands you, your company and your needs. A word of caution: much of the work I do on websites is the result of businesses needing a new website because the one their neighbour, cousin, friend, employee, co-worker created for them isn’t working the way they want it to. It’s the old adage: you get what you pay for. It might seem great at first to have cousin Joe design your company website; but when Joe isn’t listening to your ideas and your website takes 6 months to complete, consider the true cost.
- Always hire a professional
- Always be sure you have a contract with that professional
- Always chose a professional that you are comfortable working with
They should be able to communicate clearly and you should be willing to make your website project a priority. This ensures the project is completed effectively and within the time originally allotted in the contract.
What does CAH Productions do differently?
Our pricing includes what some consider add-ons; check out our company features and benefits. Photography, SEO, content writing, image editing, custom designed banners, social media integration and more are all included in our website design packages. What’s more, when you contract CAH Productions to design your website your site will be live and searchable within 24 hours of your approval of the homepage design. We build our sites live. Want to know more?
Contact us now: firstname.lastname@example.org
So today is the anniversary of the day when I finally quit smoking for good. Midnight on March 15th 2012 I quit smoking. I have not had even a single drag from a cigarette since then.
Was it easy?? Heck no!! I’m not gonna sugar-coat it for you. Quitting smoking was one of the hardest things I ever did. The first 72 hours are the worst. Your body goes through withdrawals. I quit cold-turkey. Tossed my last pack at midnight. I became very agitated, irritable, and unable to sit still, nor focus. I chose to occupy my mind with my work and when that didn’t work I went for long walks, many, many long walks. I bought several bags of sugarless lollipops. I went to the gym everyday and spent longer there than I normally would. Sleeping was difficult although I used sleeping as a way to escape the physical side-effects of withdrawal. Once the drug was out of my system (72 hours) then I dealt with the psychological symptoms which lasted for a few weeks.
I did gain a bit of weight since quitting smoking. About 5-7lbs. These days, I go to the gym 5 mornings a week. While I’m not on any dedicated diet plan, I do pay attention to what I eat. I try to focus on protein and vegetables; limit my carbs and I’ve been experimenting with milk substitutes since my gut seems to dislike lactose. So far, I’ve been able to find a brand of soy milk that is reasonably tasty. Although I discovered you can’t use it for tea or coffee. My next task is to find a yogurt that my gut can handle.
In addition to quitting smoking, I started up my graphic design business full-time. It’s been a year of challenging myself to push past my fears and achieve goals I thought were unattainable. Quitting smoking gave me the confidence to take on other challenges.
I’ve read that quitting smoking is harder than quitting hard-core drugs like heroin. According to many, nicotine is the #1 most addictive substance on the planet. ( http://addictions.knoji.com/top-ten-most-addictive-substances/ ) (http://www.michaelshouse.com/drug-addiction/most-addictive-drugs-world/ )
So if nicotine is the most addictive drug; why is it readily and legally available to adults at every corner store? Why is there a multi-billion dollar industry that grows, manufactures, distributes and sells nicotine? If you haven’t seen Michael Moore’s film; you’ve certainly heard of it. He’s already asked and investigated all these questions. My question is why are there no rehab services available to nicotine addicts?? Sure, cigarette smokers can hold down a job, tend to fit in to society for the most part and are rarely arrested if ever for smoking cigarettes. I suppose this qualifies nicotine addicts as functioning addicts. And on the surface, we don’t seem to disrupt society with our addiction. But is that really true?
I think that society has for the most part, adjusted to the nicotine addict. Heck, there used to be smoking sections in bars and restaurants and theatres. We provided ashtrays outside of public buildings. And employers would allow us to go out for our smoke break. Now of course, these things are changing. And with the changes, we the addicts feel more like people on the fringe of society. Outcasts. Smoking in public parks has become outlawed in my city. Who would have considered that even 5 years ago?
The nicotine addict has undergone a makeover. We were once seen as cool and hip (early 1940’s and 1950’s) Then we were seen as rebels (1960-1970 – still cool). As the toll on the healthcare system became apparent and more attention was paid to nicotine and its effects on individuals, the nicotine addict has now gone full circle and is no longer cool. We are addicts. Not so cool anymore.
My question; where are the rehab centres for nicotine addicts? Sure, the market is flooded with nicotine replacement products. Honestly, what’s the point of that? It’s like methadone for heroin addicts. You still get your fix but in a different way. I quit cold turkey. It was and still is the only way to really quit an addiction. If you are still using a nicotine replacement product, you’re still addicted to nicotine.
Now you’re all saying; “Here we go, Miss I Used to be a Smoker is now preaching her born-again attitude.” I suppose that’s partly true. LOL @ myself. But with everything I’m passionate about, I wish to share with you my feelings and thoughts on the subject. I smoked for 20+ years. Once an addict, always an addict. I think I have some insight into this topic.
What do I want to see happen?? I think it would be a big step forward if the government (here we go!!) would take initiative and start to put sanctions on the nicotine manufacturers and growers. The final goal would be to cease nicotine production altogether. Farmers need options to grow another crop. (I heard soy and canola are good options) Manufacturers need to re-tool the factories to produce another product. Replace it with a product that does not cause damage to its consumers. (Uh huh) Incentives for nicotine addicts to quit smoking are needed. We need something more useful than a once a year contest where the “winner” gets a new car. Whoopee!!! Maybe my approach is too naive?? I mean alcohol isn’t exactly the star-child of society either, and it’s been around since before; ……well forever!!
Oh and by the way; if you write apps, contact me because I have a brilliant idea for a quit smoking app. Currently there are no useful apps out there for this purpose. Strange eh??
Anyway, enough preaching. Today I celebrate one year of a nicotine-free me. I thank my best friend, confidant, teacher and spiritual guide; my boyfriend, Steve for his incredible and loving support of me through those first 72 hours and continuing every day since then. I am truly blessed and grateful to have you in my life. My daughters have also been very supportive and very pleased with my choice to quit smoking. I could not have been successful without the support of my family and friends. And my body and heart and lungs have also thanked me by giving me back the ability to work out hard at the gym without coughing up a lung. LOL!
To all of you who choose to embark on the journey; I wish you success and good health. Reach deep down for that determination and grit you will need to stop using nicotine. Remember that you will always be an addict, but you can choose to stop using.
(PS: To my readers: I have two blogs; one called the GTA Fitness Reviewer and one for my graphic design business, CAH Productions. I feel this topic is very important so I have posted this on both of these blogs.)
The new (or maybe not so new) buzzword that you hear everyone chatting about these days is NETWORKING.
Everyone tells you the VALUE of networking. WHY you should network. HOW to network. The BEST places for networking. And on and on and on. So with everyone meeting everyone and chatting and talking and trading business cards and ideas and excitement and promises; how does this truly benefit the small business owner??
Lets step back a moment.
The online dictionary defines networking in several ways. This one, really seems to illustrate what I want to discuss:
Lately I’ve been quite busy with new projects.
Which is fantastic. However, often a pitfall of too much work for a designer is a depletion of resources, namely creative resources. When I feel that I need a boost of creative juice (as in Dr. Suess juice, if you are catching my wave here……~~~~) I put aside the mouse and computer screen and pick up my sketch book and pencil.
A quick aside here for small business owners: When you are looking to hire a graphic and web designer, ask to see their sketch book. There are plenty of “designers” out there who know how to run Photoshop or build a site using WordPress or Joomla templates, but they cannot draw. Artist, creator, designer; these are all simple words that describe a person who learned to draw, continues to draw and uses these skills in their current title of graphic designer, web designer, artist, illustrator. Sure, your cousin Joe knows how to Photoshop clip art; but can he draw??
Anyway; n’uff said…
Back to my project:
I need to come up with an imaginary world where my clients characters will live and play on the web site that I am building for him. Yep, I’m using Joomla for the framework. Why? Too many great reasons to list here. Mostly, I am offering this CMS to my clients simply because I hear over and over again how they want to have control over their website once it is done. My own web site; www.cahproductionz.com is created purely from code, using div’s and css to control the “modules” of the site. It probably took me more than 100 hours to complete from start to finish. I can offer this type of web site to my clients, but it would be expensive. And when they want to change something, it will be expensive and they need me to do the work. So, after researching many popular CMS systems I decided upon Joomla. Joomla is easy to understand (great for when I train my clients how to make simple changes); its open source which means upgrades and fixes are readily available to me and my clients as needed; there are many great free templates available that can be manipulated to achieve unique results; it works seamlessly with Google Analytics and SEO and I can create multiple “looks” for my clients which they can turn on and off as needed.
Okay, so I wandered off topic again.
The imaginary world of Wally Goggle:
I took the idea of the photograph; added the mountain range and transferred the sketch to a canvas board.
The photo of my photo is actually the photo on my computer screen. I had forgotten about this picture. The sunset is pretty intense. I love the colours and the contrast of the water, rocks and sky.
This is the first stage after drawing the sketch onto the canvas and filling in the sky with paint. The characters of Wally Goggle World were created by artist Andrew Winning. The actual idea of the characters, their names, stories and personalities are the brain-child of Robert Kelly. Andrew’s style is very illustrative; so using paint and styling the background with bright colours and pencil-like gradients seems to fit the style of the characters.
This is stage two: I added the water. When I paint, I usually work from the background forwards. This is the most common method; as it naturally layers the background, middle ground and foreground on top of each other; creating depth. I had to really be conscious of my colour choices. My instinct is always to use naturally occurring colours in my artwork, as my leanings are to natural landscape painting and wildlife drawing. But since this is for a children’s site I needed to use bright colours. So I took a gander at some Dr. Suess work before I started to paint. I love his stuff. If you ever get the chance to see his artwork don’t pass it up. Its is something special.
Stage 4 and 5 added the foreground pink rocks. The next stage is to add some foliage to the foreground. You will have to visit the Wally Goggle World web site later to see the finished product. This project will likely take a few months to unfold completely. I’m hoping to have 80% of the site finished by the end of this month, November.
Chances are, when you first developed the idea of your business, you did not fully understand the scope of all that would be required to turn your tiny idea into a successful venture. I know in my own personal experience this is true. We tend to focus on the “feel good” aspects of being an entrepreneur; the idealization of what life will be like. Then, when we take those first steps and persevere to move forward from there; we discover that what we are passionate about requires us to invest our entire being into it, in order to be fruitful down the line.
For me, and I would suspect for many early start business owners, one of the greatest challenges is self promotion; getting the word out about what you do, who you are, what your company believes and how your companies products and services are desirable, valueable and important to your prospective clients.
The old way of selling, well, it doesn’t work any more. We, as consumers have become well-educated about media, marketing and the ploys often used to convince us to open our wallets and buy the service or product being peddled. While being consumer-savvy is great for the consumer because it minimizes how often we make a bad purchase; this environment of the educated consumer can be difficult for most business owners to achieve marketing success. Mass marketing strategies that once brought in measurable success, such as mass-flyer distribution, huge billboard campaigns, TV commercials, radio commercials, promotional events like tent sales and seasonal sales all bring in minimal success in this day and age. Consumers are very good at; and in fact have been conditioned, to ignore the dozen or so flyers in the mailbox, TV, radio and billboard ads.
So whats left? How do we get the consumer to listen and pay attention once again??
What has been working for me, and for some of my peers, is the old school method of creating relationships with prospective clients. Meeting in person. Shaking hands. Having conversations, both business and non-business conversations. Reveal your reasons why you do what you do to these new acquaintances. Find out what motivates them. Why did they decide to start their business? What excites them? What do they dislike?
How you decide to develop these relationships is up to you and your own personal style and comfort level. For me, I select a small geographical area where there is a concentration of small business owners. I bring my portfolio, flyers, business cards; dress professionally and carry a smile and a positive attitude. Then I go into the businesses, seek out a decision-maker (owner, manager or reception desk). I introduce myself. Sometimes, if the person seems very friendly, I start with casual conversation before the introduction, to soften the approach. I don’t sell anything. I talk about their business. Ask them questions that could lead back into what I do. I explain why I am coming in to talk to them. (I believe that the old way of doing business; by creating relationships with your clients; is of greater value than mass-mailing or emailing flyers and promotional blurbs) 90% of the time, these prospects are very receptive to me. Like me, they enjoy sharing their stories about their business, what they hope for and how things are going for them at the moment. Most of all, they will share this information readily with like-minded individuals who are also small business owners. Already, a common ground is developed as small business owners.
Of the 50 or more businesses I have visited in the past month, only 2 were completely unreceptive and would not speak with me about anything. For these; I simply remain pleasant, friendly and polite. I offer my business card and go on my way. For the 96% who will converse with me, I end the conversation with giving them a flyer and/or business card. Some who want more information, I let them know I will email a quote to them within 24 hours. I request the business card of every business I visit, so I can keep track of who I spoke with and then I move on to the next business. Currently, I have been experiencing about 10-15% return on the time and effort invested in this type of cold-calling.
It has been a very interesting and pleasurable way to spend a couple of hours each week. Even if no business arises from a meeting right away, I still follow-up with each person I met by email. I believe that everything you do has a greater purpose; whether that purpose is apparent from the start or not, it is never a waste of time to meet someone new. Each of these people knows many other people. Even if the person I speak too doesn’t need my services at the time, they may know someone who does. And, likely each person I speak to, will share that experience with someone else. They will share the conversation we had, thereby reinforcing the meeting in their own minds and placing the experience in the mind of the person they tell it to.
Wait one second!! This sounds a lot like what happens on Facebook or LinkedIn or any of the other dozens of social media sites out there. By gosh by golly!! Is it possible that these social media sites got their ideas from the “real world”?? Hmmmmmmmm, ya think???!!?
I propose, instead of living in a “virtual social world” that business owners start once again living in the real world. Get out there. Meet real people, in the real world and share real ideas and experiences. Nothing, absolutely nothing can substitute the human connection that occurs when you meet someone face to face. The outcomes may not be measurable in a google analytical way, no hit count meter, no page counts. But the rewards of creating real relationships with real people are immeasurable and are worth their weight in gold. Building relationships is priceless in the world of business.
You might even like it.
What is branding and why should you care?
Branding is creating an image for your company, its products or services. The branding of your company is a reflect of you, the company owner. This is especially important for new and small business owners to understand. When you are starting up your business, you want to stand out from the crowd and you want a branding image that is easily recognizable by your customers. Good branding follows the same rules of good design; simple design, be consistent, and make it memorable. All good designers follow these basic elements to help you to create your brand.
Key Elements to Good Branding
Simplicity in branding and logo design entails keeping your logo and brand name clean and simple. Real world examples are Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Apple, Nike, Levi, Tim Hortons and Ford to name a few. All of these brands have these things in common; an incredibly simple brand/logo that is consistent across all their products and services and an image that consumers remember and associate with the company products and services! As a new small business owner, you might think its quaint and homey to use your nephews hand drawn picture of his favourite car for the logo of your new auto service store. But does this reflect how you want your customers to see you? If your aim is to serve only your neighbourhood, family and friends then by all means, use that cute refrigerator artwork. Branding also entails your company name. Fred’s Friendly Auto Service Centre might be a nice tagline but it’s not a name that consumers will remember consistently. Another aspect of your branding to keep in mind is to try to limit the number of colours in your logo to a maximum of three, with two being preferable. The reasons for this are again, maintaining simplicity and reducing your costs when you decide to have signs, shirts, uniforms, hats and many other advertising products printed. Silk-screeners, embroiders and sign-makers will charge you extra for the additional colours you use in your logo.
Consistency in branding is key for global and small businesses. Once you decide on your logo, its two or three colours and your catchy and memorable company name; DON’T CHANGE IT! Use the same branding on everything, your business cards, flyers, web site; everywhere that you want to advertise your business to your customers. Even small changes such as colour can confuse consumers and your business is no longer memorable.
For example: The Ford Oval
The first Ford Oval trademark was introduced in 1907. While there have been a few small changes to the logo, essentially the Ford branding has not changed in more than a century. Ford and its products are recognizable world-wide.
Another great example of branding consistency is Coca-Cola:
Frank Mason Robinson created the Coca–Cola logo in 1885. Today the logo remains virtually unchanged since the inception of the brand. Another great example of a product and brand that is recognizable world-wide.
Make it Memorable
Lastly, your branding should be memorable. This quality is sure to follow if you paid attention to keeping it simple and consistent. An easy to remember company name along with a bold, simple logo that remains consistent in every bit of publication you produce for your company will work towards creating a brand that is memorable by your customers. If you see the name Tim Hortons, immediately you think of coffee and donuts. Levis is jeans. Ford is cars and trucks. There is no confusion and the brand becomes a part of the urban vernacular.
So just how do you achieve all of this? As a new business owner, its hard to give up responsibilities to outside sources. Its your “baby” afterall, and as a proud parent, you want to be central to its development and growth, right? You don’t need to give up the ownership of your ideas, but if you find yourself going round and round, spending sleepless nights and harried days thinking about your company, what to call it and what your logo should look like; why not put your trust into a graphic designer? Present your passionate ideas and ideals for your “baby” to a designer. Then when your designer returns to you with a few ideas they created fueled by your passion, you can then move forward and onwards to more important things; like growing your business.