Aug 092015
Trudy Van Buskirk sailing

Here’s a photo of me in August 1995 at the helm of MY OWN SAILBOAT in San Francisco Bay.

I’ve used the analogy of sailing to describe business many times – and not just because I’m a sailor!

Here are 8 ways that show it.

  1. Let’s say you want to sail across Lake Ontario from Toronto to Rochester. You know where you’re starting from and where you want to get to – your destination. That’s like business planning. For example, you plan to get gross sales of $1 million and you have a revenue of $0 to start.
  1. You have a nautical map and use it to mark your route. In business this is your written business plan.
  1. When sailing especially when you’re taking a long trip in waters unknown to you, you need a chart (map) that  shows what’s under the water – rocks, shoals, sandbars or reefs. In business you must know your industry and its trends and you must always be learning so you have a good idea of what’s coming. The future could hold things like changes in your industry, technology updates, the need for a mobile friendly website, or new laws like CASL (Canadian Anti-Spam Law).
  1. Sailing is different from using a powerboat since the motor in a powerboat allows you get to your destination in a straight line. There’s no such thing as “straight there” in sailing. It always depends on the wind – you could be on a tack or a reach; use a small sail or your spinnaker. In business you learn to “go with the flow” and expect changes – in everything.
  1. Speed is also dictated by the wind on a sailboat. Sometimes you move fast (on a reach – all hands on deck) and sometimes you’re in irons (no wind and therefore no movement) during which you clean the ship, fix sails etc. As I said in another article “All marketing is slow marketing“.
  1. You keep adjusting your sails to try to get as “close to the wind” as  you can. In business you need to review your marketing and sales results (analytics, split headlines) frequently and then tweak your plan accordingly. But since you know your destination that’s not a problem. Changing it just gets you closer.
  1. You could be in a fog (a real one like I was in San Francisco Bay) or heavy rain and you need help from others. We asked the US Coast Guard for help. In business it’s important to know when to ask for help.
  1. Before you begin any sailing – daysailing, racing or a trip, you ALWAYS check the equipment – the sails, the lines, the mast, and even the team to make sure they’re all in good shape. In a business the first thing you need is knowledge. I know it’s free on the internet but that’s not good enough – take courses – hire a consultant – get a team around who know what they’re doing because they’ve done it before.


Does this make you think of other similarities you? Tell me!

 August 9, 2015  Posted by  Business Basics No Responses »
Mar 182015

networkingNetworking is a marketing activity you need to do and you need to do it regularly and frequently especially when you have a startup business. Should you expect to get leads from it right away? Yes and no.

Two stories. Deanne Kelleher of Kaos Group  has told about getting business from someone 8 years after she met them while networking. Instant gratification? Nope.

Laurie Bell of Moving Seniors With a Smile has talked about going to LOTS of networking events to talk about her business when it was new. Does she go to as many now? Nope – she doesn’t need to. Does she still go? Yes – to continue to be known.

What is your main reason for networking?

The first thing you need to do is think about your business and what you want to get out of attending the event. Decide whether

  • you want to meet new people
  • promote your new business
  • promote a particular product, service or workshop
  • get seen everywhere
  • check out the network to see if you can speak at it
  • hear a particular speaker
  • learn about a topic you’ve been studying
  • connect with others in the same situation as you
  • get a solution to a problem you have in business
  • or just get out of the house!

And in  order to do any of these (except the last one) you need to know your target market.

I’ve written two other posts you should read as well 11 Characteristics of a Network and How to Choose the Right Network for You. This one should be the first one you read before the others.

Let’s recap

  1. decide why you’re going
  2. review what characteristics are important to you in a network
  3. choose the right network for you

Does that help? Do you know where to go now? Another tip – go to more than one session of a group. You can’t judge after just one.


Dec 302014

fearFear is a natural feeling.

It told cavemen and women to run away from something dangerous. But we’re not cavemen or women now and having some fear is healthy. We should feel afraid when a gun is pointed at us. It’s only unhealthy when you feel so much of it that it stops you from acting.

It’s normal to be afraid when you’re starting or running your business. Fear acts as your guard at the gate of your comfort zone. But getting out of your comfort zone especially in business is a good thing.

Letting those fears stop you is a bad thing. Using them to transform your business and you IN your business is good. Here are some ideas of how to use them

1. Fear of being judged. Needing approval from family, friends or clients in order to do something is bad.

Each time you catch yourself wondering what others would think than try what I learned from Jack Canfield in 1992. Look into your eyes in the mirror and say “I approve of me.” It works.

2. Fear of rejection. This can happen with every sales call, newsletter, followup or offer – the core activities of business.

Rejection is just a no. Don’t take it as being a rejection of you. You actually want rejection as a business owner so you can learn from it. If you’re not experiencing rejection, you’re probably not getting clients.

3. Fear of embarrassment. Think of a public mistake someone else made. Did they acknowledge it? What happened? You probably said or thought that it was nothing and then carried on. Be easy on yourself too just as you were to them.

4. Fear of the unknown. This is probably the biggest fear of all for a business owner.

Remember that business builders have had fears and failures, and then needed to dig deep to find the courage, motivation and willingness to keep moving forward with their dream. Even when it wasn’t easy. Remember that you’re not alone.

Don’t let fear stop you from moving forward.

Take small steps and take actions which move you toward your goals.  Don’t let yourself wallow in your fear and tell yourself scary stories.

Do this …

one stepPick one of your goals for the next year. Now think about one step that you can take over the next week to get started now and start building positive momentum immediately.

Don’t worry about thinking beyond that one step. It will inevitably lead to a second, then a third. Just take the first one. You’ll already be way ahead of the alternative – which was the inaction that your fears caused.

Go from fear to triumph.

What have you tried that worked? Tell us so others can benefit from it.

photo credit: Shandi-lee via photopin cc
photo credit: -mrsraggle- via photopin cc

 December 30, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Sep 032014

Words are everything.

wordsWords make books worth sharing, movies worth watching, stories worth listening to and blog posts worth reading.

When I was in elementary school I always won spelling bees (I would “see” the word in my head and then read the letters). To me words are integral to my love of reading. Words make speaking and writing inspiring, flowery, dramatic, funny, mysterious, entertaining, or help one to understand a concept.

That’s why we need to choose them carefully. Have you seen the spoof that “Weird Al” Yankovic did? It’s called “Word Crimes“. Watch it now. Good, isn’t it.

It really bothers me when I see spelling errors or the wrong use of a word anywhere. Since as business owners we all have a website and many of us blog we must learn what words to use that make sure our posts are read. I read the content but am distracted by spelling or incorrect use of a word or words. I guess it’s “in my genes” or maybe because I attended school in the 50s and 60s or …. enough excuses. It’s just bad editing. People rely on spellcheckers too much or they don’t review before they hit the “publish” button.

Nowadays (since texting on cell phones and twitter became so popular) young people use u instead of you or ur instead of you’re. What is the world coming to?

The words we use reflect us – our culture and what we want to project. What do you want people to see? We’re careful with our clothes because people make judgements of us based on them so why don’t we do the same with the words we use?

Here are a few pairs of words to look at.

  • Can or will. If you use can it implies ability. Use will.
  • Community or associates . What do you mean?
  • Consulting or coaching. This is a big one. When I look at coach I assume you know it already and a coach draws it out of you. A consultant however tells you what to do.
  • Work or job – People see different meanings for each and that depends on their experience, doesn’t it?
  • Member or attendee.
  • Network meeting or gathering or …

A word’s meaning depends a lot on how you want be seen and on the reader’s experiences. Choose your words wisely.

What has your experience been? Are you a careful writer?

photo credit: navets via

 September 3, 2014  Posted by  Books I'm reading, Business Basics Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Aug 132014

marketing planWhen you see the phrase marketing plan do you cringe? Do you think of long and detailed plans that corporations use? Do you think of math and lots of detail and the time it would take? As a solopreneur starting out in 1980 I did. I even wrote a white paper on how to do one (in the 90s).

Do you look at successful entrepreneurs and say that some of them didn’t have a plan at all? They just flew by the seat of their pants (at the beginning). Or planning seemed to be a left brain activity and you’re right brained.

Everyone knows you should write a plan but like eating healthy or exercising many of you say you will do it but few of you do. So what’s stopping you? You have lots of excuses but the most prevalent is there’s not enough time.

I’m here to say that there is a happy medium – especially for solopreneurs. The standard marketing plan at least for solopreneurs is dead.

Use the word map instead of plan.

You can draw a map (right brain people) or use written directions (left brain) or both. Mapquest does. Why don’t you?

marketing planThink of planning for a trip. You decide on your destination and which places you’ll visit along the way and what you’ll do in each place. You choose your clothes according to these activities. You go on the trip and take lots of pictures. When you get home you feel relaxed and think about all the places you visited. You may even arrange a get together with friends to show your photos.

That’s a simplified version of everything you do before, during and after a trip. Now let’s compare it to planning in your business.

  • choosing your destination = writing your goals
  • what you’ll do in each place = assessing your uniqueness/ your ideal customer
  • your clothes = marketing activities
  • taking pictures = what you deliver in your business
  • getting home and thinking about where you’ve been = analyzing your results
  • having a get together = a celebration!

There could be much more but you get the idea. You’re really developing a plan. But you say that a trip is fun and so planning is easy! Why not make business and marketing planing fun too?

I recently read a book called The Right-Brain Business Plan by Jennifer Lee published in 2011 so being right brained isn’t an excuse. She found a way to make planning for creative types fun.

It’s about mindset. Change your mindset and you’ll see a business and marketing plan differently.

Tell me how you developed your business plan and whether you enjoyed the process. Remember if you love your business ….. loving planning goes along with it :-)

photo credit: Yahoo Inc via

Aug 062014

You have a business and are occupied marketing your service, and seeing to admin and finance not to mention DOING the thing you love and the reason why you started the business.

family timeI saw the movie The Proposal on TV and what affected me most was a scene where Sandra Bullock’s character is crying and saying to Ryan Reynold’s character that he’s so fortunate to have a family and friends who love him.

You may not think of the marketing side of this but I do. When you take time away from your business to be with your family or friends, you come back happy and renewed.

Now THAT’S good marketing!

Do you take any time off from your business to be with your family or friend so they know you love them?

photo credit: kaitlin.marie via photopin cc

 August 6, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics Tagged with:  No Responses »
Jun 062014

business coachThe other day I was at a networking meeting and someone was talking about having had a business coach and how that person helped her grow her business. I thought about how to choose the right coach for you.

Here is what to do to pick the ideal coach for you and your small business.

  1. Choose the kind you need. There is a business coach, a life coach, one for marketing, social media, technology, for finance and more. What do you need?
  2.  Ask people you trust for referrals. Who have THEY used?
  3. Interview at least three coaches. Remember to ask for names of their clients and permission to call them and then do it. It’s just like getting a job. Would you take the first person you meet?
  4. Do you have anything different or unusual about you? For example, I’m disabled now (in 2005 I had a stroke which meant I can’t do public speaking as I used to) so I ask if they have any experience with my type of disability.
  5. Trust not only their credentials, education and experience but your heart and your “gut feeling”. When I had small businesses with employees and there were two with a very similar resume, I went by how I felt about each one.

These five ideas will get you started. What’s YOUR experience with coaches been? Have they helped or hindered you and your business?

Image courtesy of Omhega1982 /

 June 6, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Coaching Tagged with: ,  2 Responses »
May 282014

thank youThank you :-)

There are many ways to show your thanks but we were taught that we should say it, weren’t we? Do you remember being told as kids that the “magic” words are please and thank you?

When should you use thank you?

After EVERYTHING that’s done for you especially when clients buy your product or service.

You should use it in your emails and on phone calls.You can mail a “thank you” card, send flowers, do something special that the other person likes (and that you know they do) or send an electronic card that makes them smile.

Say thank you all the time.

There’s another positive result from this this. You get remembered. You get cheques faster, things done for you with a smile and immediately, repeat and referral business and best of all you feel good.

What have you done today?

photo credit: adihrespati via photopin cc

 May 28, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Client Service Tagged with:  No Responses »
May 212014

cats and businessHow are cats like business?

A couple of years ago I spent the long Canada Day weekend babysitting my niece’s cat (a black one she named Cheese). Cats are independent, people-averse, aloof, don’t learn tricks, don’t do what someone tells them – but wait. That’s a stereotype!

And the stereotype didn’t fit THIS cat. It was independent (of course – all cats are), people friendly (it wanted to be in the same room as me AND “talked” directly to me!), close (rubbed against my leg often and loved to be scratched), knew a trick, did what I told her (if I said “down” and meant get off the table, she would – eventually) and she was playful, too.

She was the opposite of the stereotype many people have of cats!


Business and marketing tip: Don’t “judge a book by its cover”. How do you treat people? Do you make a judgement based on their appearance? I don’t :-)

photo credit: pedrosimoes7 via photopin cc

May 142014

use products or services differently than intende Products or services be used for different purposes

You may only sell your product or service for one use but people are creative and will use it in a way that works for them and that may be very different than you intended.

Two ways to sell more … with more uses

1. Talk to your clients about how they use your product in other and often unique ways. For example, baking soda is sold as an ingredient for baking AND as a fridge deodorant. In this time when we want to “reuse” and “recycle” things there are lots of different approaches to take.

2. Give people ideas. A friend of mine went to a Christmas Artisans’ Show and Sale at the Distillery District here in Toronto. She showed me one of the things she bought and when I went to the product’s website, there were loads of suggestions for each product they had. As an example, they sold blankets and said they’re great for: snuggling on the couch, traveling and camping, an emergency car blanket, dorm rooms, comforting the elderly, and arenas and stadiums. (Go to the Hugs for life to see this.)

See what I mean?

How can people use your service differently than intended?

You have a service and not a product and wonder what to do. You may sell your organizing service. You might suggest that it can be used by realtors for relocation, caregivers as a service for seniors, homeowners for moving and/or downsizing, or home sellers for home staging as well as the usual clearing clutter.

Reposition your product or service in a new market. It’s a great idea! What have you done? Share your ideas with the rest of us.

photo credit: Nina Matthews Photography via photopin cc

 May 14, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Marketing Mindset Tagged with:  No Responses »