CAH Productions graphic, web design and small business discussions

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If You’re Not Making Mistakes You’re Not Trying Hard Enough

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.


No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google – SEO Information for New Clients at CAH Productions

No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google – SEO Information for New Clients at CAH Productions

If you remember nothing else about SEO remember the word “relevant”. Search engines want to provide relevant information to searchers. Simply stuffing keywords on a page will not give you a better ranking. SEO is complex; there is no we are number 1magic formula and the “rules” change constantly.  In fact, your own physical location when you do a search can impact the search results. The same search done from a laptop on the west coast will yield different results than an identical search done from a laptop on the east coast.

So, rather than search for the Holy Grail of SEO, check out these basic points below to help your website improve its SEO ranking.

1) Every page needs a title that contains keywords that are relevant to the content on the page

Your designer should name the pages using the site name and a relevant description of the content on the page. For example, your About Us page should be titled:  Your Website Name – About Us

2) Social networking, blogs and sharing buttons

Search engines will show more results with your name and your company name when you subscribe to social media sites. It’s also important to keep these sites updated on a regular basis so that your content is fresh and relevant. In addition, be sure to include sharing buttons on your website so visitors can share information they found on your site as well as view and subscribe to your social pages.

3) Compelling, informative Content is important

Having more relevant content that is different from other sites in both wording and topics is a great boost for your site’s rankings. In addition, update your content weekly whenever possible but make sure the content maintains a high level of quality. Content should be interesting and informative. Remember; the main focus of your website is to provide compelling information to your prospective clients so that they will want to buy from you.

Taken from Google Support:

Quality guidelines – basic principles

  • Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.
  • Don’t deceive your users.
  • Avoid tricks intended to improve search engine rankings. A good rule of thumb is whether you’d feel comfortable explaining what you’ve done to a website that competes with you, or to a Google employee. Another useful test is to ask, “Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn’t exist?”
  • Think about what makes your website unique, valuable, or engaging. Make your website stand out from others in your field.

4) Create links to your website to relevant information using relevant descriptive text

When you create a link in your Facebook page that links back to your own website, be sure to name the link with relevant words.  Linking to a page and saying; “check this out” is much too vague and won’t help Google figure out what you are trying to achieve. Another way to generate links to your website besides social media is to list your company and website on free business listings. There are dozens of these on the internet.  Start with local listings as these are most relevant to the new business owner.

5) Relevant image tags

Ask your designer to include image tags on every image in your website. Tags should be relevant to the picture and content on the page where the picture appears.  A photo of your storefront could be tagged; “your company name store front”, not “do you love our flower bed”.

6) Longevity of your website

It’s no secret, the longer your website remains on the internet the better your ranking. However, websites that are not updated on a regular basis fall in ranking. Search engines want to know that you are maintaining information that is relevant to the current times.  Websites that are left unattended and unkempt fall off the rankings.  If your designer just finished putting the last touches on your site be patient! It can take as long as 6 months or more before search engines start to rank your site on the first 5-10 pages. Of course, much of this depends on other sites who are vying for the same clients. If you sell pizza, you have a lot of competition and it will take some time to move your site up to the first page. If, on the other hand, you sell hand painted snail shells; well you probably will show up in the top 5 of an inquiry.

My last suggestion to new business owners is to get a basic yellow pages local listing on the internet. In most cases, this listing is free with your web hosting account. This small step will help you show up on local searches.

For more reading check out this article from Google Best practices to help Google find, crawl, and index your site


The Day I Quit – Year One as an Ex-Smoker

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.)


Networking = Sharing

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:

net·work·ing

/ˈnɛtˌwɜr kɪŋ/ Show Spelled [net-wur-king] Show IPA

noun

1.

a supportive system of sharing information and services among individuals and groups having a common interest: Working mothers in the community use networking to help themselves manage successfully.
AND

net·work

/ˈnɛtˌwɜrk/ Show Spelled [net-wurk] Show IPA

noun

1.

any netlike combination of filaments, lines, veins, passages, or the like: a network of arteries; a network of sewers under the city.
I really like the definition found here for NETWORK. It describes what I see as a living, breathing demonstration of how networking; works.  Each knot in the net comprises of strands that are linking to other knots. All strands reach outwards, make a connection and reach outwards again seemingly without end. The net or network itself is made stronger by adding additional strands to each knot. And the network reaches further and further as each connection reaches another and yet another. Think of it like a fisherman’s net.
Get my picture?net
While modern-day business writers often illustrate networking as a NEW idea and the NEWEST business must-do; it’s really a very, very old idea that our current society has spun to work with current lifestyles.  Think back to the days of early settlers to North America. No electricity, no phones, no TV, NO INTERNET!! (gosh no, not that!!)
Business people had to share ideas with each other by talking.  They formed networks with other business people in the same city. They would share information about their customers and news about the locals. If someone found out that the Jones were planning to celebrate their daughter’s wedding, the whole town would be a-buzz with the news. The business community would be busy preparing dresses, food, notices, singers, preacher etc.  Every community event brought together the whole community.  The result being that everyone benefitted.  Business people were able to co-ordinate their efforts with their peers so that customers received the goods and services they needed. The network was successful, strong and provided for the community.
So, the next time you head out to attend a networking event; consider what you can share with other business people. What can you do to make the net stronger??  The old adage “you get what you give” is never more true than when you are part of a networking group or event.
Got a networking success story you’d like to share? Post it here!