May 9, 2018

The BIG 12: #BizChampion Takeaways

The traditional essay has an introduction, conclusion, and 3 body paragraphs. My favorite pastor on planet earth offers a 3-point sermon. It's common for presenters to offer 3 supporting details when making an argument. Ever wonder why?

As an educator, I usually follow this pattern as well because of a secret weapon known as chunking. In short, many learners retain vast amounts of information by grouping related information. Instead of recalling a long list of facts, the brain is better able to process categories of information.

In the spirit of college readiness, let's consider discussions about collegiate sports as an example. When distinguishing between players or schools, sportscasters and sports fans often communicate in terms of conferences. The conferences (e.g., PAC-12, BIG-12, SEC) are chunks of information. When we're first learning the names of schools across conferences, it's easier to chunk schools into larger conferences based on location. This also makes for smoother discussions. The Big 12 Conference is an example of one of the collegiate sports conferences; the name serves as motivation for this month's blog title. (I'm #OleMissAlum, so I'm partial to the SEC; however, 'The SEC #BizChampion Takeaways' doesn't have the same jenesequa, so I digress.)

Chunking Collegiate Sports Conferences (image credit in link)

I'm breaking the mold by offering the big 12 takeaways from the #BizChampion celebration in Reno, NV. National champions across various industries came together during the last days of April. Notably, a few sports gurus were in attendance. Each of the 102 winners of the 2018 American Small Business Championship networked with SCORE Mentors and guest experts during a two-day, jam-packed, high-paced, fun-filled event. The schedule of events began at 8am and ended at 8pm on both days.

Sessions topics included positive psychology, team synergy, marketing strategy, HR issues, preventative legal measures for entrepreneurs, and more. To top all this off, table discussions during meal times centered on even more opportunities for business and personal growth. We shared experiences: what's worked, hasn't worked, next steps, and unresolved challenges.

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1. Celebrate Successes
I've moved away from really celebrating client successes. It's common to say congratulations, but I'm not sure this counts as a celebration. With guidance from Tonya Ludwig, owner of 621Gifts, clients are in for a real treat during Back-to-School season. By celebrating small successes, we create a winning culture. Success begets success.

2. Listen More
One speaker mentioned that we're only as successful as the questions that we ask. (Forgive me for not noting the speaker's name and exact words.) In private, I prepared questions to ask; however, deeper conversations in person revealed even more valuable questions worth asking.

3. Give Often
Joseph Amato's story about becoming a business owner at age 16 is beyond inspiring. Though the point isn't to give with an expectation of receiving something in return, Joseph earned 50% of a small tanning business as a result of giving. Business strategy suggestions that he offered to a tanning salon owner turned an even greater profit than originally anticipated. Unbelievable.

4. Marketing Strategy
Have you considered mobile ads as part of your marketing strategy? The thought crossed my mind a number of times, but it wasn't until Reiva's evidence-based arguments that I became convinced to make a move. Somewhere between 95 and 97% of Americans own a cell phone, so chances are... my ideal client, your ideal client owns a cell phone and could be viewing our competition's ads right now.

5. Show Gratitude
Giselle Chapman's spiel about starting each day, each activity from a place of gratitude reminded me of the frequent gratitude journal entries made when I was first introduced to this practice years ago. This strategy works, so why was I creating less space in my life to keep it up? Giselle advised that we journal for five minutes, and I'm gaining momentum.

6. Sell Everywhere
Currently, only my books are available for sale on Amazon. I'm looking forward to offering TeachersPayTeachers activities for educators and parents by selling on Amazon as well. Making our products and services available on multiple platforms is a great way to deliver value to a larger audience.

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7. Copyright
Taking the time to copyright each project becomes overwhelming when there're so many irons in the fire. It was a relief to learn from Rocket Lawyer Founder Charley Moore that, whereas it's still a good idea to copyright original works, there's no requirement to do so since including the copyright designation is sufficient to protect our intellectual property.

8. Keep Looking
There is more than one way to skin a cat. If you think product costs are too high, keep looking for connections to get them down. Many small business owners take an innovative approach that allows them to offer lower prices. There's constant growth across industries, so we want to remain vigilant.

9. Online Presence
If everything Reiva Lesonsky shared is true, then my website is never going to be done... And, that's okay. Securing website ranking is like trying to hit a moving target. When we think our sites are optimized, consumer behavior changes the status quo so we adjust. Accepting that our websites are a work in progress is key to continuing to make progress.

10. Own It
Giselle also spoke on how stress in nearly unavoidable and that we're responsible for being intentional about coping with stress in healthy ways. Breathing exercises are a staple in my life, so I seek opportunities to introduce clients to this strategy. I'm excited to implement gratitude emails and explore more strategies for increasing the happy in my life and in my clients' lives.

11. Celebrate Others
There's pleasure in watching others win when you're confident that their wins don't take away from yours. This isn't an entirely original thought; it's a hodgepodge of advice obtained from mentors, both real and imagined. The #bizchampions are currently in competition. Still, we're celebrating one another and it feels great to see others doing great things, accomplishing more in their businesses.

12. Keep Growing
An introverted educator seems like an oxymoron, as does an introverted entrepreneur (...an introverted author, not so much). The research for my most recent book, Cultivating Grit: An approach to increasing confidence, provided the foundation for entering the American Small Business Championship. Attending the conference provided an invaluable opportunity test my own theories presented in the book. We must continue to walk in our passions. Check out Cultivating Grit if you haven't found your passion or you're feeling stuck.

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Maybe you aren't a small business owner? Maybe you have zero desire to become an entrepreneur? These BIG 12 takeaways are intended to help readers establish a more balanced work-life dynamic.
If my BIG 12 is helpful for you, share this post with others in your network to encourage them as well.

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