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    15 Trend Tracking Tips for Women Business Leaders

    February 19th, 2013

    Women business leaders need resources to hone their trend watching skills that will help them keep up with where the market is headed and know where to take your company into the future.

    trendwatching.com, is one of the world’s leading consumer trends firm relying on a global network of hundreds of spotters. They are a great resource for trends and have honed a list of 15 Trend Watching Tips to further develop  your trend watching skills:

    1. Know why you’re tracking trends. Consumer needs remain the same, yet can be unlocked in new ways; these ‘unlockers’ can be anything from changes in societal norms and values, to a breakthrough in technology, to a rise in prosperity.
    2. Don’t get your trends mixed up. Switched-on women business leaders should track at least three trend levels: Macro Trends, Consumer Trends, and Industry Trends.
    3. Know a fad when you see (or smell) one. Fads won’t dramatically change the consumer arena. At most, they’re yet another manifestation of the fact that consumers want to be unique or crave convenience and surprise. The latter are actually trends. The products are fads.
    4. Don’t apply all trends to all people. Remember, in life and in trends: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
    5. Be (very) curious. Ask yourself why’ whenever you notice something new, instead of immediately looking for shortcomings.
    6. Have a point of view. The more trends you spot and track, and the more skilled you’ll be at putting these trends into context, the more guidance you’ll have. When you have a broad point of view, even tiny observations start to make sense.
    7. Benefit from an unprecedented abundance of resources. Celebrate the incredible wealth of (real-time) trend resources at your fingertips via the Web, music, magazines and other media.
    8. Name your trends. It’s crucial to describe trends as imaginatively as possible so that you can arouse curiosity about the trend, create a common language for the trend and track activity around the trend.
    9. Build your trend framework. Create a “trend framework” by developing a long list of all the trends you’ve spotted over the years. Divide the list by main and sub trends, and track how these trends interact with each other.
    10. Start a trend group (even if it’s just you). Enlist your colleagues, friends, family, customers and suppliers to spot consumer trends.
    11. Secure senior backing or be doomed. Think of ways you can get final decision makers behind you. You can spot and apply trends like there’s no tomorrow, but in the end it won’t matter without their support.
    12. Don’t worry about timing or life cycles or regional suitability or . . . Avoid worrying about all the possible “what ifs” and instead look for opportunities—not threats.
    13. Apply, apply, apply. Ask yourself if the trend you’ve spotted has the potential to: Influence the company’s vision, become a new business concept, add “something” new for a certain customer segment or speak the language of those who are already “living” the trend.
    14. Have some fun! Please, don’t be too earnest about the quest at hand: trend watching is about coming up with exciting new products and services for your customers, nothing more and nothing less.
    15. Let others do some of the work for you. You don’t have time to do it all yourself so let trend professionals do part of the work for you.

    As you utilize these tips to better understand an evaluate consumer trends, there is one more thing you shouldn’t underestimate: your woman’s intuition.

    Women business leaders continually have to make smart choices for both their professional and personal lives. With a level head and sharp focus, we often naturally discern the best option out of group of many. So don’t forget to trust your instincts as you track trends and choose the next direction for your business.

    Click here to read TrendWatch.com’s complete article, 15 TREND TIPS


    Women Business Leaders reveal 7 Secret Ingredients For Women to Grow their Business

    January 7th, 2013

    The information in this post is from the Internet magazine, The Next Women and what was learned when about 170 ambitious entrepreneurs and investors met up at the University of Cambridge ideaSpace to network and discuss different elements involved in the growth of a business.

    What was revealed were the Seven Secret Ingredients to Grow a Business:

    1. Start with a Great Team

    According to Female Internet Entrepreneur and the NextMentor Jana Eggers, CEO of Spreadshirt, the key elements to build and maintain a good team are:

    • Communication and Trust
    • Fire people quickly and let people leave
    • Only trust negative references when hiring people
    • Have a simple goal, clear enough for all employees to understand and focus
    • Give both Guidance and Autonomy

    2. Develop A Strong Advisory Team

    Create an advisory board with a “star” entrepreneur who will influence business decisions and investors. The type of people you manage to get on board will reflect the quality of your product idea and business plan thus endorsing your idea.

    3. Adapt to Dynamic Markets

    Timing and adaptation to new markets is essential along with a market for the product or service. The customer base must be established and the market identified. Stay tuned to changing and emerging trends and adapt your business plan accordingly.

    4. Follow your Customers

    Successful serial entrepreneurs will keep telling you, “Follow your customers!”  An excellent entrepreneur will be able to predict what her customers will want in the near future.

    Care about what people say about you and your brand. The importance and influence of “word-of-mouth” in constantly increasing so good customer relationships are essential. Identify your company detractors, the ones who wouldn’t “recommend you to someone else” on the survey feedback, and follow up. You learn best from your mistakes.

    5. Have the Ability to Fund Growth

    Entrepreneurs have to find investors they can work with. Transparency and trust are key. The person who invested money will be working closely with the entrepreneur and her team for several years, so their relationship will be very determining. Be careful of the kind of money you take on.

    Any investment comes with a different baggage, different strings attached. You may want to think through carefully what is expected from you and manage expectations: accept the fact that you cannot do everything.

    7. Plan on Global Expansion

    There are 2 ways:

    • Choose a country where you already have competitors, implying the presence of relevant customers and markets,
    • Go where opportunities and gaps are and find the right local people and partners to work with.

    7. Learns from Failures and add Luck to the Mix

    There are no set rules to grow a business successfully but entrepreneurs learn from each other through shared knowledge and experience. People learn from their mistakes and from their competitors’ mistakes. Unfortunately, luck is also a big component of a growing business.

    As business leader Ashish Patel said, “I’d rather be with a lucky investor than a smart one.”

    As entrepreneurs learn from mistakes, adaptability is also a key skill to have to be able to follow the trend, market, and customers in order to grow a business further on a long term basis.

    The event ended with a few words by Mark Littlewood, the Founder of BLN, summarizing the main themes which came up during the Growth Forum: Honesty, Bravery, Passion, Simplicity, Great Advice and Timing.

    Summary

    To grow your business, it is essential to have: a great team, an entrepreneurial “star” on your advisory team, adaptability to dynamic market change, ability to follow your customers, resources to fund growth, foresight to expand market globally, and the ability to learn from mistakes. A little luck doesn’t hurt either.

    Read the entire article, Business Leaders reveal the 7 Secret Ingredients to Grow your Business

    http://thenextwomen.com/2010/07/20/business-leaders-reveal-the-7-secret-ingredients-to-grow-your-business/


    5 Ways Women Business Leaders Can Embrace Their Femininity

    July 22nd, 2012

    Women who are running  businesses should detach from feminism and embrace their femininity.

    My daughter started her career in a high stress male dominated industry. We were reflecting on how a woman can succeed in this environment  without becoming masculinised. Women who are running  businesses should detach from feminism and embrace their femininity.

    The truth is that women have been liberated. We no longer need to spend our energies proving that we’re equal. We own our own companies, we assume leadership roles and we don’t have to wear ties to work.

    Here are 5 ways to create this balance while getting respect from both males and females:

    1. Don’t pretend that you’re one of the boys – you’re not. But at the same time don’t play the “us girls” game.  Work at your individuality as a person. Use your unique leadership strengths when dealing with an issue.
    2. You shouldn’t dress provocatively but you also don’t need to wear a burka.  You have a wonderful opportunity to express yourself  and your femininity.  Make sure that you are dignified and professional and let your gender work for you.
    3. It’s OK to talk about kids, make-up and hair but please consider your audience – these discussions may be boring to whomever is listening. Be yourself but remain sensitive to the situation.
    4. Respect both male and female employees. Disparaging remarks about men set a feminist tone and put a line in the sand when there may not have been an issue to begin with.
    5. Watch out for “womens only groups” why would you want to segregate ideas and talent. Position yourself as an entrepreneurial leader rather than a proponent of  “Women rule”

    You have a real advantage as a woman running a business – don’t blow it by  wearing workboots and snarling at men, rather walk around in your stilettos with strength and conviction.

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    Women Business Leaders: How Do You Encourage Creative Thinking?

    April 22nd, 2012

    My professional life has always been focused on the creative process. Whether at the start of my career as a fashion designer, running radio stations in the Northeast, or for the past 13 years owning an integrated communications firm. For me, and as a woman business leader, creativity involves taking risks, believing in myself and embracing change.

    As I become comfortable with my new identity, a breast cancer survivor, I find that creative thinking has permeated how I have coped. I have moved out of the expected mode of behavior and have experimented with new paths for my future. Creative thinking enhances and adds dimension to every aspect of my life.

    It is also really important to me that my team has a platform for innovative thinking. I find these tips from blogger Michael Hyatt very useful:

    1- Hold my own counsel
    When meeting with the team I lead, it is usually best if I don’t go first. I might see the solution more quickly or be tempted to cut to the chase. The problem is that this inhibits everyone else’s creativity. The discussion then quickly becomes political. People start measuring their words. They are hesitant to disagree with me. As a result, I don’t get the best thinking of the group.

    2- Enlist outside resources
    If you aren’t constantly refilling the creative pool, it will eventually run dry. This is why I routinely buy books and give them to my colleagues to read. I also encourage them to attend conferences. (I try to attend as many as I can myself.) Consultants can also be helpful. They can offer a fresh, outside-in perspective that broadens the creative palette.

    3- Affirm creative thinking
    I believe that you get more when you “notice and affirm.” If I want more innovative thinking, I have to notice it and publicly affirm it. When introducing people, I like to brag on their creativity: “This is Jane Smith. She was the one who first started using social media in our company for customer service.” I also like to send email affirmations and copy the person’s boss. Recognition is a huge motivator for most of us.

    4- Create a safe environment
    By safe, I mean safe for dissent. Make it okay for people to disagree with you. If people don’t feel safe, they will only parrot your ideas. This means you will never be any more creative as a team than you could be on your own. However, I believe that my team can be much more creative than I can be on my own—so long as I give them the freedom to express themselves without fear of me embarrassing them.

    What are some ways you have encouraged creativity within your organization? How do you reward the creative process?


    4 Strategies for Women Business Leaders to Become More Innovative

    March 23rd, 2012

    As a life-long entrepreneur, I have followed a variety of career paths. While I may not have considered myself a woman business leader at the time, as I look back at my choices I can see that I made some pretty progressive decisions early on in my career. At the time, I knew I was discarding the status quo but I would not have actually qualified my decisions as  ”innovative.” I can see now that my penchant for taking calculated risks could be interpreted that way!

    I thought a recent article by Thomas D. Kuczmarski on businesses that are innovative offered some great pointers for business owners and entrepreneurs. Here are some results of his survey of 87 U.S. product and service companies:

    1. An innovation strategy counts
      Sixty-six percent of the successful companies have an explicit innovation strategy that is aligned with the overall corporate strategy. Only 22 percent of the unsuccessful firms have such a strategy.
    2. Focusing on high-risk—but higher-return—innovation matters
      In successful firms, 26 percent of new product and service revenues come from new-to-the-world innovations. Among the unsuccessful, the figure is just 7 percent.
    3. Innovation leadership is central to success
      There is a clearly defined innovation leader in 64 percent of the successful companies; 50 percent of unsuccessful firms have such a leader. The two numbers seem oddly close until you understand that in the successful firms, the innovation leader reports to the CEO in 47 percent of the cases—compared to 15 percent among unsuccessful firms.
    4. The CEO must be the innovation leader
      In 62 percent of the successful firms, the CEO is active in the process of planning new products and services, compared with 30 percent of the unsuccessful firms. The reasons we heard for the failure of new products or services include poor planning and execution, lack of understanding of market needs, and lack of internal support. Overall, fully 68 percent of the reasons given for innovation failure were things that can be controlled by an organization.

    Innovation is a word that is easy and convenient to say. Making it happen is an important leadership role!


    Jay Baer’s Social Media Integration Strategies for Women Business Leaders

    October 21st, 2011

    This week my firm participated in a communications industry conference in Miami, and I was lucky enough to attend a presentation given by Jay Baer, an author and noted social media expert. He writes a popular social media blog called Convinceandconvert.com and is a well-known and respected authority on the subject, so when he says something, I pay attention. According to Baer, in the very near future social media participation by businesses will not be an option, and as the owner of a strategic marketing firm, I absolutely agree. His prediction? Within the next few years, businesses that choose not to participate will simply not survive.

    If you are a reader of my blog about women business leaders and you follow me on Twitter, Facebook or another platform, you probably consider yourself participating in social media. But, says Baer, you may merely THINK you are participating.

    According to Baer, participating in social media is much more than reading the occasional blog and posting an update on Facebook. During his phenomenal presentation, Baer took us on a journey that shifted my way of thinking – and I’m already a social media proponent. I’d like to share my take-ways with you here.

    Here are 14 “disciplines” that Baer says must be addressed when creating any organization’s communications plan:

    1. Strategy and audits
      Audits and strategies should be conducted prior to embarking on any social communications plan
    2. Social analytics
      Develop ways to measure effectiveness on all platforms
    3. Social email integration
    4. Social website integration
    5. Brand community creation
    6. Brand community management
    7. Social campaigns and promotions
    8. Social advertising
      This will grow to a $1.9 billion industry in the next 5 years
    9. Listening and social mining
    10. Real-time response and reputation management
    11. Internal social media
    12. Content marketing
      Optimize social content and create content that proactively answers questions
    13. Influencer ID and outreach
      Find people in your social media community to carry the message
    14. Mobile and Apps
      All websites will need to be mobile friendly

    Being strategic about your company’s social media involvement won’t be a luxury anymore … it will be a necessity. How prepared are you for this new aspect of your business plan?


    Women Business Leaders and The Art of War

    February 22nd, 2011

    Image provided by: Amazon.com

    I don’t like to generalize, but I have to admit author Becky Sheetz-Runkle’s recent article about women and war makes some good points. She comments that women don’t really identify with war and that many of us believe war to be contrary to our nature. However, Becky continues, smart women business leaders would be wise to apply some of the strategic principles of war mapped out in the ancient Chinese military bible by Sun Tzu, The Art of War.  I agree, and I think that to be competitive, businesswomen need to hone their business skills, stay alert and use their intuition to get ahead.

    I’d also suggest that becoming a master strategist is something all business leaders should aspire to. Becky’s tips for staying at the top of your game using The Art of War for inspiration are noteworthy, and I’d like to share my thoughts on her suggestions with you here:

    Don’t always play by the rules

    As little girls, Becky writes, we were conditioned to believe that playing by the rules would be rewarded. Early in most little girls’ lives it is.  But I don’t think it’s as much about casting aside rules as it is about seizing opportunities. As women we tend to “hang back” and let things happen “to” us rather than taking action to make things happen! The Art of War, Becky notes, tells us to not only jump on opportunities but to do it with fire and determination, “An army superior in strength takes action like the bursting of pent up waters into a chasm of a thousand fathoms deep.”

    Use mistakes to propel you forward

    Becky rightfully suggests that, in general, women’s reactions to mistakes differ from those of men. She notes that men view failure as a chance to get it right the next time, or as a challenge to do it bigger and better, while women tend to seek consolation. I think she makes a good case, and I believe women business leaders could take a few pointers from our male counterparts the next time we face a mistake. Rather than feel dejected, decide to get up, wipe yourself off, and move on! Turn your mistake into a learning experience and make a concerted effort to put it behind you and start fresh.

    Take calculated risks

    Risk-taking just to be risky isn’t going to get you where you want to go every time. But taking risks that offer abundant rewards with minimal danger is simply good strategy. Becky points out that, in general, women tend to take fewer risks. And, I think she’s right to a point. Having the entrepreneurial spirit makes me a bit more of a risk-taker, but I think all women business leaders have that in common, and we can use it to our advantage. Becky notes that The Art of War suggests that to win, you must “Take advantage of the enemy’s unpreparedness, make your way by unexpected routes.”

    The lesson here, I think, is that as women we have the ability to change our circumstances by becoming masters of strategic thinking. Each of us has the innate ability to become a great leader—we just need to unleash our inner warrior!


    Women Business Leaders – Rise to the Challenge of Staying on Top

    January 7th, 2011

    Why we have too few women leaders :: Sheryly Sandberg

    Sheryl is one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world today … but surprisingly (or not) she has few female competitors for that title. Her message is a challenge – keep women in the workforce, expect your partner to partner and be prepared to stay involved.

    Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, and one of the few upper-level female executives in a Fortune 500 company, recently gave a sober but inspired TED Talk called, “Why we have too few women leaders.” The video (see above) of that talk quickly became viral.

    Sheryl Sandberg: Why we have too few women leaders | Video on TED.com.

    Personally, as a woman and a woman business leader, I find the video compelling on many levels. But the salient point is this: women today have unlimited opportunities to excel in business … the hurdle, however, is steeped in outdated gender expectations.

    Arguably, Sheryl is one of the most powerful businesswomen in the world today … but surprisingly (or not) she has few female competitors for that title. Her message is a challenge – keep women in the workforce, expect your partner to partner and be prepared to stay involved.

    Here are 3 points Sheryl suggests women business leaders can do as individuals to effect change:

    1-Sit at the table

    The idea is to take your place at the head of the table and stop sitting on the sidelines. Sheryl notes that while men attribute their business or personal success to themselves … women attribute any success they have on outside factors and not on their own abilities. Take credit for your own success and abilities.

    2-Make your partner a real partner

    In study after study, women with full-time careers still do the majority of the household chores. Rather than wait for your partner to “help” with household duties, expect it.

    3-Don’t leave before you leave

    If you think you’ll want to take some time off to raise children (or something else), do it, if that’s what you want to do. But, until that moment comes … stay focused and never let up … be present and give your all 100 percent of the time.

    The message I’d like to send to other women business leaders is this – we need more women at the highest levels in business and government to move beyond the stereotypes, so it’s up to us to rise to the challenge.