What It Takes to Create an Award-Winning Business

14 Strategies We Attribute to Our Recent Business Excellence AwardOut of the blue, I received an email from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce one day notifying me that we were nominated for a 2016 Business Excellence award.Say what?Once I got past my shock and disbelief that they must have the wrong Susan… it began to sink in that someone out there thought we were worthy enough of this nomination. Wow, what an honour!Part of the nomination process consisted of a 30-minute interview in front of a 3-judge panel. Imagine being forced to actually brag about yourself for a half an hour! Talk about squirming in my seat!Fast forward to last week where the awards ceremony took place. Much to my relief, our category was up first so I could relax the rest of the evening.To be honest, I wasn’t all that anxious – I knew the odds of winning was only 1 in 7 so I waited patiently for the winner’s name to be announced, not at all expecting it to be us.But it was! We were declared the winner!Say WHAT???Shock and disbelief once again came over me as I took a moment to grasp what just happened. Walking to the stage was quite the blur but I managed to do it without tripping up the stairs to get our award.In the aftermath of winning this wonderful recognition, I reflected some more about that judge’s interview and how they deemed us the winner from the other worthy nominees in our category.With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the attributes I feel helped us win this prestigious award. Without further ado, here’s what it took for me to create an award-winning business:1) Be Passionate About What You DoWe are not the first business I’ve created; there’s been plenty others ranging from creating craft pieces to faux finish painting. But no matter what I did, I was very passionate about it.Don’t waste your time trying to run a business just to make money. You’re going to tire of it very quickly and it will be harder to make sales.But when you’re passionate about what you do, others will immediately see that and will be drawn to you like a magnet.2) Love Working With the People You Serve and Offer Exceptional Customer Service One of the truest joys I receive is the knowing how much we are able to help a new business owner get their online presence up and running. Being a part of their joy at seeing their dream materialize into something tangible gives me just as much joy.If you avoid answering the phone or responding to emails because you dread having to talk to a client, then you need to adjust your marketing so you attract the right people to work with.If you don’t love who you’re working with, then it’s hard to establish a successful business that needs to cater to your clients by making customer service a #1 priority. And that means answering the phone, responding to emails in a prompt manner, and treating every person as if they were your only client. And when you’re attracting your perfect ideal client, then this should be easy to do.Make your business about them, not you. Just remember, if you had no clients, then you’d have no business.3) Know Your StuffBefore even thinking about starting a web development/digital marketing business, I ensured I got the education I needed first. I attended the Vancouver Film School in their Multi-Media program and then later earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems (with an A+ GPA).Not to mention the countless online courses I’ve taken over the years to ensure my skills are kept up-to-date with this ever changing industry.Sadly, I see a lot of entrepreneurs wanting to start a business with not a lot of skills or experience under their belt and then they wonder why they’re struggling.Reading a book or taking one on-line course is probably not enough to reach award-winning status. But if you’re passionate about building a successful business, you’ll find a way to ensure you become as qualified as needed.4) Be CommittedIs working 15 hour days, 6-7 days a week committed enough? Yep, that’s what Daniel and I do every week. We have to in order to fulfil points 2 and 3 above.It takes a lot of time and effort to ensure your clients are taken care of properly. You also need a “do whatever it takes” level of commitment.You might not need to work such long hours as us and trust me, we’re continually working towards lessening that kind of volume but until then, we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure our business is successful. Are you?5) Be ConsistentConsistency shows up in many forms when running a successful business. For me, it’s being consistent with my message, my brand, my Social Media presence, my newsletters, my team management, and the level of quality we bring to our clients.Do I miss sometimes? Absolutely. But being consistent in these areas are very important to me, and I do what needs to be done in order to show up the best I can for my team and our clients.Without consistency, it’s hard to create brand ambassadors (such as the ones who nominate you for an award), loyal team members, and a steady flow of clients.Whatever you have decided to commit to, be consistent at it and you’ll be amazed at how things start to flow your way.6) Surround Yourself With a Dedicated and Knowledgeable TeamI started off as a one-woman show. Because of my educational background, I was able to do the design, build and marketing of a website quite easily. I’m what you would call a “generalist”, someone who knows a lot of about a lot of things and is a specialist in a few areas.But my one-woman show was not going to create a successful business. Especially in this technologically-driven industry. It quickly became apparent my skillset was only going to get me so far.So my first hire was someone who could offset my biggest weakness. Warren was a student at UFV and applied for my part time programmer position. He was a perfect complement to our company and the moment he came on board, I was relieved of having to do all the site builds myself. I could then take that time and focus on building the business instead.It’s tough to try and do everything yourself when it comes to running a business. Sure, there are expenses involved in hiring but if you hire smart, keep an eye on your bottom line, and know when to let go of those that aren’t serving you best, your business will escalate far quicker than if you try to struggle with everything yourself.This topic is worthy of a whole article itself so I encourage you to read How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level for more.7) Have Honesty, Authenticity and Gratitude be a Part of Your Daily LifeIt’s sad I even need to list this as an attribute but I’ve been in business long enough to know not everyone adheres to these principles.To me, this is a no-brainer – I’m not certain I could live any other way?But judging from the stories I hear from new clients about how they were treated by their previous web developer, it sounds like many people need to be reminded of this.No business will thrive without honesty and integrity. And a little secret: gratitude will not only make your business thrive, but your whole life too. Give it a try and see what I mean.8) PersevereEvery business, including ours, has its ups and downs. The key to success is to not let those “downs” overcome your enthusiasm. Pick yourself back up, learn from whatever lesson there was to be learned, and keep moving forward.If we had quit when we only had $20 credit left on our credit cards at Christmas time just a handful of years ago, we wouldn’t be award winners now!9) Invest in Your BusinessBuilding the company has been one investment after another. It never ends really.There’s always something that needs to be worked on. Here’s a short list of my recommendations on where you need to invest in your business:a.Branding & Websiteb.Marketingc.Educationd.Building a Team10) Understand You’re Running a Business, Not a Hobby.I think this is an important distinction to make and one many entrepreneurs aren’t differentiating.I’ve always looked at our company as a business and that’s mostly due to my business mind and having a business degree.But for those that simply are passionate about something and have a dream to make money off of it, it’s hard to know exactly HOW to turn that dream into a business.They end up blindly doing what they think they should be doing, all by themselves, in order to save money (or not spend money they don’t have) and hope for the best.If this sounds familiar, I’m adding another business investment to consider as your top priority: A business coach or mentor. ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up just running a hobby.11) Set up a Systemized Business StructureI’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years. Some amaze me at how organized and systemized they are. And others, well, not so much.Having a systemized business structure in place is the only reason I haven’t gone insane with my daily workload.Here’s the tools we use to be more organized, efficient and less stressed.12) Get Comfortable With SalesSales. It’s a dirty word for many entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Me too. I hate to think of myself as a “sales person” but at the end of the day, if we’re not selling our wares, we don’t have a business.Now that’s not to say you need to become a pushy, in-your-face predator. Far from it.Remember attribute #1 about being passionate? That’s what you need. People will trust your passion and will respond to it. But be careful, sometimes passion can be too intense and will turn people away.Find your sweet spot as to what resonates with your ideal clients and keep working at it. But do embrace the fact you’re selling your wares and learn some strategies that fit with your personality and comfort level that will work.13) Give BackGiving back is an imperative attribute to have when building a successful business. We give back in several ways, here’s some ideas to consider that we do:-Offer discounted prices for non-profits-Volunteer your services to community groups-Send cash donations to worthy charities you believe in-Make purchases that support worthy causes-Donate door prizes and/or silent auction items for fund raising activities-And support your own clients whenever you can14) Be AccessibleWhen new clients approach me due to being disenchanted with their existing web developer or marketer, the most often complaint I hear is they can never get a hold of the person. Either they take forever to respond to an email or never answer their phone.I think I’m going to write a book on how NOT to run a successful business based on this alone. It boggles my mind when I consistently hear stories like this. How are these people keeping a business going with such poor service and accessibility?I have a policy to answer emails within a day of receipt. I often exceed that policy but sometimes the volume is too much and I get delayed in responding. Same thing with the phone. If we’re available to answer, we do so. If we’re not, we’ll call the person back right away.Being accessible provides peace of mind to our clients; they know we care enough about them to take care of their needs in a timely manner. ’nuff said.There you have it. My honest take on what created the company to be an award-winning business. Maybe I need to write a book about this because, honestly, I could have added more but, it’s coming into the 15th hour on this Sunday night of working so I’ll leave it at that.What about you? What would you add to the list? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

3 Things Never to Do to Your Skin – An Anti Aging Skin Care Guide

Need a good anti aging skin care guide? Here’s the start. 3 things you shouldn’t do to your skin, and a guide to how good anti aging skin care treatments will improve the look and health of our skin.Whilst you might expect a lot of voodoo and hype about anti aging skin care, it’s not as difficult as you would think. There are some simple steps you can take to improve the chances of your skin looking good and being healthy right into old age. Combine some basic steps with a good quality anti aging skin care treatment and you’re on your way to slowing the visible effects of aging on your body.A few simple steps each day should be a good foundation to good anti aging skin care, and there’s also some things you shouldn’t do too. A basic anti aging skin care guide should be easy to follow. It isn’t necessary to spend hours every day, just follow some simple rules and you’re well on your way to healthy good looking skin, and good health in general. Because the 2 go together.3 Things You Should Never Do To Your Skin.1. Avoid sunburn, or even overexposure to the sun.Whilst a suntan might look good it’s one of the worst things you can do to your skin. Sunlight has damaging UV rays that burn your skin if you’re out in strong sunlight for too long, and this ages your skin and damages it severely. Sunburn is one of the worst things you can ever do to your skin.When we get too much exposure to the sun our skin starts to experience damage to the cells that make up the skin, or dermis, as the scientists call it. This results in the loss of a substance known as hyaluronan. Hyaluronan is a key component of our skin and is responsible for helping our skin repair itself, so we don’t want to burn ourselves, thereby reducing the amount of hyaluronan that is there to repair damage.That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go out in the sun, please don’t misunderstand. And any good anti aging skin care guide shouldn’t advocate staying indoors all day. Our bodies need sunlight. Exposure to sunlight helps our body produce vitamin D, and important vitamin. It’s not exposure to sunlight that is dangerous to our skin, it’s over exposure.So avoid direct exposure to the sun from around 1pm to about 4pm, the most dangerous time, especially in summer. Use a good hat and long sleeved shirt. Use sunscreens sparingly, as they can contain chemicals which themselves can be nasty to our skin and in some cases are suspected of being dangerous.2. Don’t eat to ruin your skin.Or your health for that matter. The American diet is one almost designed to age us as fast as possible. Any good anti aging skin care guide should stress the importance of good diet to our skin and overall health. Because remember, the 2 go together.So when you’re tucking into that next burger or pizza, remember that your diet affects your skin’s health, and your overall health. Focus on a diet rich in fruit and vegetables and in particular leafy green vegetables. Spinach and broccoli are particularly good. Take care of your body with good diet (and exercise) and it will function better and look better.A diet high in vegetables improves your levels of anti oxidants that combat the effect of free radicals in your body, and skin.3. Don’t dehydrate your skin.So many of us don’t have enough fluids in our life. Specifically water.In any good skin care routine drinking enough water should play a big part. Our body is made up of more water than anything else, and it needs water taken in every day. Our skin is our largest organ and it too needs plenty of water, and doesn’t respond well to dehydration. Drink plenty of water every day. Make sure it’s filtered water, tap water isn’t so great.There’s 3 simple things you can do to help reduce the effects of aging on your skin, but those 3 on their own aren’t sufficient. A good anti aging skin care guide should also focus on skin care products that work.Make sure you use a good anti aging skin care treatment.Unfortunately you’re probably using skin care products now that don’t work. If you’re using mainstream household name products there’s a good chance they won’t do anything. And they probably contain ingredients that could be dangerous as well.The best skin care treatments are organic skin care products that contain ingredients that come from sources such as plants, rather than the lab.For example products that contain Phytessence Wakame and CoenzymeQ10 are effective and natural skin care treatments that work, and don’t contain nasty chemicals. Both these ingredients are naturally occurring.Phytessence Wakame, for example, is extracted from seaweed, and is packed with vitamins and minerals essential to the health of our skin. And it can help our body retain hyraluronic acid, which is very important for skin health.But don’t be fooled, not all products containing those ingredients are effective, many big companies put very small amounts into their skin care products just so they can list them on the label.So if you’re looking for a good anti aging skin care guide there’s a good place to start. Eat well, drink plenty of filtered water, avoid too much exposure to the sun, and use a high quality organic anti aging skin care treatment that contains some of the best naturally occurring anti aging and skin health ingredients.And you won’t find these in your mainstream big name skin care brands sitting on the shelf of your drugstore.

Top Three Reasons to Consider Short Films

Many people are often faced with the question, why should someone watch my short film? It’s a question that has haunted filmmakers for ages. The medium of cinema is no stranger to feature-length films, from Shakespeare’s works to modern-day blockbusters. But a short film is something different entirely. In informal surveys, most people are unfamiliar with the term “short film,” or don’t see any need to watch one.

Here are Some Reasons to Consider Short Films :

1. Short Films are being Watched More than Ever

According to a recent study by the UK Short Film Council and the Film Council, the short film has been viewed over 750 million times on Facebook in the past year. It is three times more than the previous year. Other reports show that short films outperform TV and features on YouTube. You can also opt to Make Short Films with Concrete Media Music.

2. It is More than a Promotional Tool

Short films are no longer seen as a mere promotional tool. Also, companies such as Turner and Vimeo have begun to host fully original, independent short films. There are fewer limits to what a short film can be. Online distribution allows for creative freedom to experiment with forms of storytelling long abandoned by feature-length movies.

Now, with online distribution, these stories can easily be shared with large audiences and potential collaborators. If you wish to make short films, then you can consult Concrete Media Music.

3. Effective Use of Emerging Platforms

Short films are becoming increasingly popular as a result of a perfect combination of emerging platforms, newer online audiences, and a desperate need for various types of content. Film festivals, large and small, are now devoting time slots to short films because they attract a diverse audience, almost always guaranteeing a full house.

A large audience is no longer limited to feature films; even short films now receive millions of views. In addition to viewership, short films have also won several national and international awards because of their interesting concepts. For professional assistance, you can consult experts at Concrete Media Music.

In conclusion, short films are becoming increasingly popular, as they perfectly combine emerging platforms and various types of content. For professional assistance, you can consult experts at Concrete Media Music.