Embracing an Innovation Mindset

Innovation is a word rife with meaning and, in the business world, it is often associated with the activities that are risky and on the “cutting edge”.
This interpretation can act as a barrier and prevent us from being innovative in our businesses.

The reality is that innovation are all of the steps we take to do things better, smarter. That reality is one that all small companies need to embrace if they want to stay in business.

Here is an example.

Chinese food is one of my go-to meals for those busy days when I don’t have the time or energy to cook. I can’t remember the last time our family actually sat down to eat in a Chinese restaurant; we always order take-out.

When I think about ordering take-out, the picture that immediately pops to mind is a dark, uninviting restaurant that feels tired, with aging décor and a bunch of empty tables.
One day I decided to pop into a new Chinese restaurant and was blown away by the “innovation” the owners had applied.

Instead of the usual crammed space where people could wait for their orders, the restaurant had been designed around the needs of take-out customers. There was a pleasant, but small, cluster of tables in the front for eat-in customers and then a large, brightly lit area in the middle of the store with comfortable couches, a large coffee table and clean, glossy magazines and a few newspapers as well.

The approach to the interior design of the restaurant was innovative, but it was not overwhelmingly difficult to achieve. The innovation in this case was the way the company took a customer-centric approach to their store design.

An innovation mindset can be as simple as a paradigm shift, where you look at different aspects of your business and ask “how can I do this better” or “how can I put my customers first”?

It’s really quite simple and can have a powerful impact on your business success.

This is a guest post by Julie King.  Julie King is the co-founder and president of Biz-Zone Internet Group Inc., a technology company that specializes in online publishing and website development for member-driven associations. She is also the co-founder and managing editor of CanadaOne.com®.  As the publisher of CanadaOne Julie is responsible for content and technical development as well as marketing and strategic partnerships.  Be sure to check out their upcoming Un-Conference that we are participating in on October 15, 2012!

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Our York Region Small Business Events

Our York Region Small Business Networking Events

We like to think we’re just a little bit different when it comes to the York Region small business events we put on.  We try to focus on creating several small, intimate opportunities for small business owners in York Region to connect with each other.  There is no pressure to refer others or recruit others to the group.  Our memberships allow you access to attend our meetings and more.

What makes our events a bit different:

  • Random scheduling.  We hold meetings at various times of the day, day of the week, and location in York Region to ensure as many of you as possible have an opportunity to join us.
  • Free or low-cost events.  Our events are free or very reasonably priced to ensure we don’t cut into your budget!
  • Opportunities to promote your business.  We try to use local venues whenever possible to help those businesses get some extra exposure.

Here is a list of our York Region Small Business Events to give you an idea of what we do (if you haven’t checked out our Event page yet that is 😉 ):

  • Coffee Chats:  These events are casual get togethers at a local coffee shop.
  • Brainstorming for Business Sessions: These have become wildly popular events and all of our members that attend get value out of them.  It’s like market research and business coaching wrapped up into one session.  While working with your peers, you are also getting the point of view from your target market in most cases.
  • Social Events: Golf days, bowing nights and more.  Getting together in a casual and fun setting helps build relationships or nurture existing ones.
  • Learning events: We have held some great workshops on social media, internet marketing and more. We plan to bring more affordable learning events to you in the near future.
  • Tweetups: YRSBiz came to be because of Twitter.  And it continues to grow because we are all able to stay in touch after having met at one of our in person events.  Our YRSBiz Tweetups allow small business owners (or anyone else for that matter) the opportunity to get the basics of Twitter, while meeting those that are already using Twitter.
  • Online Events:  We are hoping to hold more regular Twitter Chats and Twitter Parties to keep you all connected when you can’t get out to events.  We are active on Facebook and are just about to start testing a new online networking platform that we are really excited about

And more events to come!  We’ve only touched the surface of the types of events we want to bring you!  If you have any ideas or suggestions as to an event you’d like to see offered, please leave a comment below!

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SEO Tools for Small Business

Looking for some great SEO Tools for Small Business?  We had an excellent workshop on “What is SEO” a couple weeks ago with Gary from 3BugMedia.com.  We learned the differences between on-page and off-page SEO, the benfits and drawbacks of linking and how to do it properly, how to list our businesses in online directories and much much more!

We are working on planning another great workshop with Gary for September, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, below are some of the SEO Tools for Small Business that Gary referred to during the What is SEO? Workshop.

    • Google Adwords Keyword Tool –  A free tool from Google that let’s you conduct keyword research for your website.  It  will give you global and country specific search estimates as well as a list or related keywords you may not have considered before.

 

    • My IP Neighbors –  A free tool that let’s you see what other websites are sharing your IP address.  If you are paying less than $40 a month for hosting, you are most likely on a shared hosting account.  You may be sharing your IP address with a few dozen, or a few thousand other websites.  Having too many websites on a single IP address can slow down your website, open it up to hacking, and possibly get your IP address banned if another website is doing something illegal.

 

    • Pingdom Speed Test –   The load time of your website is a factor in determining  SEO rankings.  Sites hat load slowly usually result in a poor user experience and the search engines consider that a negative factor for a website.  This free tool will conduct a speed test of your website and show you which elements of your site are slowing it down.

 

    • Yahoo Smushit –  This free tool will compress your images in a lossless fashion.  Images that pass through this tool will have a reduced file size, without losing image quality.  Large image files are a major culprit when it comes to slow website loading and this tool will speed up the loading of your web images.  There is also a plugin available if you are using WordPress.

 

    • Local Citations – Local citations are important for local SEO.  This articles gives a description of what citations are and lists some of the major citation sources in North America.  *Some of the listings are not available in Canada

 

Do you have any comments or questions about SEO? Let us know by entering a comment or share them using the buttons below!

 

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What People Are Saying…

Curious what others think about The York Region Small Business Club?  Here are some testimonials from some of our exisitng members.

Have you been to one of our York Region Small Business Events? Fill out our Event Survey.  Or if you just want to give your feedback on the group in general, fill our the YRSBiz Survey ! Thanks for giving back!

I have had the pleasure of working with Sandra Eamor for a few months now. Her dedication to supporting small business owners is unparalleled. Sandra Eamor is a consultant with personality and a genuine care for her clients. Sandra’s brings her professional and personal experience to the table; she truly understands the needs of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Sandra also leverages her own network to offer value for her clients. The relationship you have with Sandra will be worth every penny. – Tim Baker, HR Options

 

Sandra is fantastic to work with! Talented, energetic and compassionate. Her selfless work in developing @YRSBiz York Region Small Business Club is truely remarkable and a great asset to small businesses in York Region. Sandra (and team), keep up the good work – Greg Smith, PromotionalMarketing.ca

 

I’ve been involved with the York Region Small Business Group for several months and have had the pleasure of working closely with Sandra on various projects. Sandra is fantastic at organization and bringing resources together for the members of her group. She acts as a hub for small businesses in York Region and is always going above and beyond what’s expected to of her. I highly recommend Sandra for any business project that is in her scope of expertise. – Gary Shouldis, 3BugMedia.com

 

Dana and Sandra did a great job. The event allowed me to hear ideas from people that work in completely different fields than my own, and gave me a new perspective on my own business challenges. Thank you. – From Survey about the Brainstorm for Biz event.

 

Thanks for getting this group up and running. I think it’s going to grow into a larger group over time, and I feel lucky to have met everyone while it’s fairly new! – From Survey

 

Wish I could attend more Events. My goal is to use the services of everyone that I can within the group. thank you Sandra for your efforts!!  – From Survey

 

Kudos to Sandra for taking the time to plan this event and all of the others. Networking, especially in small groups, might have an air of intimidation but once you’ve been to one of Sandra’s events, hesitation to attend goes right out the window. Thanks Sandra!! – From Survey

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Meeting New Tweeps at Newmarket Tweetup

I’m sure you’ve all heard me say it already… I’m just amazed at the turnout for the Newmarket Tweetup at Mr. Greek’s this past Tuesday night.

We had at least 55 people show up that we were able to count via the RSVP form and registration signup.  I know there were people we missed counting though.  Including at least Brianne from Rogers TV, the SNAP Newmarket reporter and Jane Twinney.

So far everyone has gone out of their way to let us know how thrilled they were about the event and I am so grateful for all the support and the kind words.

 

 

 

I do want to thank Mr. Greek and specifically Guy (don’t we look nice in this picture?) for making this event possible.  Guy has a great sense of humour and I’ve enjoyed working with him on planning this event.  I’m hoping to have a YRSBiz night out for one of the nights they have the belly dancer performing!  Should be fun.

Another thank you to Greg from PromotionalMarketing.ca for providing the swag bags that our YRSBiz members didn’t hesitate to fill with amazing offers and yummy treats!  Of course I am also so grateful to the 25+ business owners that donated prizes!  Wow! It’s all I can say!

 

I also want to thank my team members GemilTunde and Dana for their support and the time they dedicated to making sure #YRSBizNMKT went smoothly.  None of this would have ever happened if it wasn’t for their commitment to YRSBiz.

A special Thank You to Tunde for also taking these amazing pictures (except the blurry one of the three of us, that was from my iPhone!)  There are more on our Facebook page at: http://facebook.com/yrsbiz, be sure to check them out.  I’ve tried to tag everyone in them, but there may be some I missed, so feel free to tag and share.

Finally, I need to apologize for forgetting to give out one of the prizes at the event!  We didn’t realize until after the event that we hadn’t received the Mabel’s Labels gift certificate.  So, we are going to give it away this week!  Please leave a comment below about #YRSBizNMKT and give us some feedback! Tell us what you loved, what you’d like to see improved (sorry A/C went kaput a few hours before the event!) and let us know if you made a new connection that you are looking forward to getting to know better now!  We will draw from everyone who leaves a post here on Monday and announce it on our Facebook Page for Marketing Monday!

Thank you again to everyone for attending.  I was so thrilled to meet some new faces and get to reconnect with some familiar ones.

Hope to see you all again soon!

Sandra

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Omegas and Salads and Air Quality, Oh my! The June posts from the YRSBiz Blogging Circle

 

Summer is here, and the guest blogs this month cover everything from salads and omegas to air quality and gym memberships.

Happy Reading!

 

If you are thinking about joining a gym, be sure you read the post from paralegal Samantha Glass over at Patricia Grace’s Out Of the Cosmic Closet. Samantha has some great information about our rights when it comes to gym membership.

 

Remax/Premier agent Lisa Sinopoli loves salad but finds making them a challenge.  Read her 5 shortcuts for salad  on Denise K. Livotti’s Petits Chefs Academy blog.

 

Dana Goldstein from Digital Shoebox shares what it’s like to wear slippers to work  with  Juliet Ume from Whole Woman Network.

 

Evelyn Avila-Palmacci from Tail Waggers knows animals and is not surprised  that Patricia Grace from Out Of the Cosmic Closet feels that animals are spiritual too.

 

Have you had trouble keeping track of your finances? Lola Coker-Esu from The Socialite’s Manual shares her experience on Lisa Sinopoli’s Vaughan Realty blog.

 

Kate Howes from TakethePartyOutside.com shares her practical tips to improve the air quality of your home at  Gemil Lacroix’s G1000 Inspections.

 

At Tim Baker’s site, The HR Beaker, Tess Cyreks from Weld Done shares a story about perseverance.

 

Over at Digital Shoebox, Sandra Eamor from Seamor Consulting reveals what life is like now that she has switched to Mac.

 

If you want information about Omega fatty acids, then head on over to Dr Matthew Bortolussi of Vellore Chiropractic‘s blog to read what Denise K. Livotti from Petit Chef’s Academy has to say.

 

Have you ever been so busy that you cannot get anything done? Juliet Ume from Whole Woman Network  shares her busy life with Cyreks from Weld Done.

 

Gemil Lacroix of G1000 Inspections wrote about his success building his business with social media for Sandra Eamor of Seamor Consulting.

 

Tim Baker, aka The HR Beaker, really takes the party outside over at Kate Howes blog TakethePartyOutside.com.

 

A paralegal is a worthy investment says Dr Matthew Bortolussi of Vellore ChiropracticRead about his experience on paralegal Samantha Glass‘s blog.

 

Have a great summer everyone! We look forward to meeting/seeing you at future YRSBiz events!

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