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Ready, Set, Back to Business

Day 1: May 12, 2020

Session 1 : Shock & Rebound 

Session overview: If you feel like you’ve been experiencing information overload from the news and predictions, you’re not alone. This webinar takes a conversational approach on how to maneuver your business through COVID-19 by sharing a structure to help an entrepreneur or business leader process and, more specifically, where should she focus her mind. We will strike a balance between basic theory coupled with a list of ideas to do and what not to do. Take what you need to set your business up for success as we experience the rebound – this event offers some practical insight you don’t want to miss.

Session 2: Protecting your Mental Health for Business Decision Making

Session overview: As a business owner, it’s critical to actively manage your mental health so you can make good decisions and take action. Whether in a pandemic, another crisis and even everyday leadership. Instead of swirling in negativity and panic, we need to think and act strategically and critically for our employees, family and ourselves.

Presenter: Jenifer Horvath, business advisor, Alberta Women Entrepreneurs

“Try to find some compassion for the people who you’re working with and check in with them.” – Jenifer Horvath

A few tips from Jenifer:

  • Try breathing exercises when you’re stressed. You can breathe in the flowers (through your nose) and blow out the candles (through your mouth).
  • Get some exercise. Jenifer does yoga while watching Yoga With Adriene videos on YouTube.
  • Limit your news intake.
  • Listen to music.
  • Write out your thoughts. Some people prefer pros and cons lists, while others like to journal.
  • Prioritize your tasks by using the Eisenhower Matrix.
  • Keep a gratitude journal.
  • Take this Positive Intelligence quiz to learn how you might self-sabotage. You can work to change your thinking if you know your saboteurs.
  • Realize that others are dealing with stressful situations too.

Related article: Walks, yoga, “quarantunes” — there are many ways entrepreneurs and business advisors can manage their mental health

Session 3: What’s your Financial Plan to Move Forward ?

Session overview: Do you know if you have the finances to get through the COVID-19 business disruption? Will you have the money to pay back your loans and deferred payments that you’ve just signed up for? Find out what you need to do so you can make a solid financial plan for your business and get back in the game on solid footing.
Presenter: Cheryl Baldwin, BCP Business Services

Have a financial plan — that was the key takeaway from Cheryl Baldwin’s presentation on financial planning during WEOC’s virtual symposium.

Preparing for different scenarios will help your business, she said. It’s good to have plans for your company’s most likely scenario, and for its best and worst outcomes. Ask questions — how would a second wave of COVID-19 affect your business? Is there a point where you’d have to close shop?

Knowing the numbers will guide you to make informed decisions about your company. You can get help from an advisor at a women’s enterprise centre, from an accountant or bookkeeper, or from an organization like BCP Business Services.

A few tips from Cheryl:
  • “You need to understand what your numbers are telling you to make business decisions.”
  • “In normal times, we need to plan… With all this happening, it’s absolutely critical for your business to survive.”
  • “Make sure that you’re taking advantage of the benefits that are available to you, but when they make the most sense for you.”
  • “The more that you practise and do the budgeting, the more you’ll realize what your natural tendency will be.”
Related podcast: Cheryl Baldwin covers so much ground as the guest on The Successful Bookkeeper podcast, from hiring great staff to business continuity.

Day 2: May 13, 2020

Session 4: Keeping Good Employees on Board

Session overview: Is exporting something you have been thinking about but just aren’t sure how to get started? Jennifer Cooke, Corporate Lead for Women in Trade at Export Development Canada, has three women entrepreneurs dish on their export experiences. Learn how they approached getting their products or services into the hands of international customers and what they continue to do to maintain that market.

Facilitated by: Dawn McCooey, Entrepreneur in Residence, Women’s Enterprise Centre and Tanja Halsall, MA, CPHR, SHRM-SCP
Chief People Officer, Potentia Human Resources & Engagement Consulting

The #1 reason employees leave is because they’re unhappy with their supervisor. Dawn McCooey and Tanja Halsall talked to WEOC virtual symposium-goers about how to keep good workers:

– Recognize your employees and honour their contributions.
– Build a culture of trust by telling the truth, listening to others, demonstrating competence and showing humility.
– Show your vulnerable side.
– Ask questions and really listen to what your employees are saying.
– Make your actions match your words.

Ideas and insights from Dawn and Tanja:

  • “Now is the best time to ask yourself and others, what does your company stand for? What are its values?” — Dawn McCooey
  • “Why do (employees) stay? Leadership, leadership, leadership, leadership.” — Dawn McCooey
  • “We need to make sure that we just stop… I would encourage you every day to wake up and recognize at least five people in your world.” — Tanja Halsall
  • “Right now, the power of relationship is more important than ever.” — Tanja Halsall
  • “When we think of how to engage our employees, trust is number one.” — Tanja Halsall
  • “True leadership is collaborative leadership where you make sure everyone has a voice.” — Tanja Halsall
  • “Recognition doesn’t need to be monetary.” — Tanja Halsall
  • “If you want to design your (corporate) culture, you have to be very intentional and very transparent as a leader.” — Dawn McCooey
  • “A lot of people don’t suggest things to leadership because they don’t think they’ll be open to change.” — Tanja Halsall

Panel 1: Moving Forward Through Export

Panel overview: Is exporting something you have been thinking about but just aren’t sure how to get started? Jennifer Cooke, Corporate Lead for Women in Trade at Export Development Canada, has three women entrepreneurs dish on their export experiences. Learn how they approached getting their products or services into the hands of international customers and what they continue to do to maintain that market.

Facilitated by: Jennifer Cooke, Corporate Lead, Women in Trade, Export Development Canada

Panelists: Caron Hawco, ABC, PMP, ICD.D, CITP, President and Lead Consultant – Caron Hawco Group Inc.; Jessica Baudin-Griffin Creator/CEO, Intellidance®; Amber Kivisto President, BioNorth Solutions

Key takeaways:

– Look for opportunities. If someone tells you about an export opportunity that fits with your business, take it.
– Learn your new market’s culture.
– Take currency differences into account. Will your business profit from the market you’re considering exporting to?
– Get help. Women’s enterprise centres, economic development agencies and government programs like CanExport can support you.
– Use technology to stay relevant in distant markets. Contact clients through video calls, upload content to YouTube and social media, and keep your website up to date.
– Bring a partner to trade shows for extra support.
– Think long-term. Will exporting to this market benefit your business in the future?

Quotes from the session:
  • “It’s about looking at trends and things that are required.” — Jennifer Cooke
  • “You’re only as good as your last project.” — Caron Hawco

Panel 2: Cultivating Customer Loyalty

Panel overview: Timothy Eaton, founder of the famed Canadian department store chain, believed customer service was paramount. He embodied ‘the customer is always right’ philosophy. During a time when many businesses have closed their doors because of social distancing, others have looked for creative ways to stay in touch with their customers. Hear from three entrepreneurs that have gone above and beyond to deliver impeccable service and build customer loyalty.

Day 3: May 14, 2020

Session 5: It’s Back to Business: Are Your Key Processes in Place for a Successful Transition

Session overview: Being strategic about your operations planning is where you build value into your business. Whether your business is recovering post-COVID-19 or you are starting fresh, your effort developing and improving operational protocols is time well spent. Take the time necessary to benefit your customers, your employees, and to create wins for the business in terms of productivity, efficiencies, safety, risk management, and increased profitability.

Session 6: Moving Up! Business Growth Strategies

Session overview: This energizing workshop will help entrepreneurs move their business to the next level with insights and advice about strategy, marketing, and the latest small business trend: strategic alliances. By the end of the session, participants will understand the what, why and how of creating strategic alliances and developing a strategic edge.

Panel 3: Pivoting and Resetting for the Future

Panel overview: COVID-19 has shown us how quickly things can change. As a business owner, are you nimble enough to pivot when necessary and take advantage of opportunities when they appear? The entrepreneurs on this panel each made the decision to explore new opportunities. Hear why they did it and how they succeeded.
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