When in Doubt

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If you’ve been following our franchising journey then you know that Plan A is now up to 6 locations across Ontario – with inquiries coming in every single day.  Who would have thought?  It is so exciting to have people see how important and relevant and forward thinking our business model is and want to bring it to life in their own community.   Our franchisees are all in different stages of their business.  Some are just building their pool, others have signed their first contract and are just waiting for the fun to begin, one has just signed her fourth contract and another just bought their second franchised territory.  It doesn’t matter where you are in the stage of this game, the rules are the same.  Below is my advice to our franchisees and anybody else who is thinking about bringing our inevitably successful tech solution for LTC to their area:

Trust – We’re not claiming to be perfect but we have been doing this for 7 straight years.  We’ve experienced the good, the bad and the ugly when bringing our business to life.  You started this journey because you trusted.  Keep on trusting.  We promise, you’ll get there.

Patience – This is a huge one.  Our clients are not buying a pair of shoes (which can happen in seconds if you’re me).  They are engaging in what could be a life-long contract between you and them if you do it right.  Many of them are learning just as much as you are about staffing and they are obligated to make sure the process is as seamless as possible for their staff and residents alike.  Be patient.  They are dealing with unions and boards, regional directors and the even higher ups.  They have a lot on their plate and although one of them is us, they are putting out a multitude of fires every day.  They will get there with you but you have to be patient.

Stay Cool  – Starting a business is an emotional roller coaster…especially when you’re not exactly sure what you’re doing.  Make sure to be the master of your own emotions.  As the president of our franchise we are all doing our best to help you get your business going but you have to keep your cool.  Find ways to manage your emotions such as exercise, reading some motivational reading, get in touch with our life coach, etc.  Learn to control your emotions or your emotions will control you.

Accountable – It’s nobody’s job to make your business successful but you.  Turn every bump into an opportunity for learning and ask yourself ‘what can I do better the next time?’.  At the end of the day our business model (as techy as it is) is about people – for people – from people.  Learn to put the onus on yourself and your game will swiftly change.

Focus on Solutions – Let problems become the foundation on which great ideas for your company are born.  We’re a solution-focused organization and believe that there is an answer to every problem.  Don’t look at every problem as a step back, rather look at it as a way to get two steps forward!

Get out in your Community – Unless you’ve already opened a business or two in your community, you are a stranger to the business world.  Push yourself out of your comfort zone and find every opportunity to get to know people in your community.   Join your local Chamber of Commerce, become a Toastmaster, attend events, do some volunteer work, introduce yourself to your local innovation mill, get into your post-secondary institutes to connect with professors and teachers, send out a press-release, etc.  People need to know you first before they will start trusting and referring your business.

Starting a business is never easy but we’ve proven that if you follow what we do you will be successful.  So take our lead, keep the above in check and you’ll be off to the races in no time!

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature

Embrace Optimism!

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The world of entrepreneurship is exhilarating.  When you’re bringing great ideas to life with a team of like-minded, creative and energetic people, you bet it’s going to be a wild ride!   Unfortunately it’s a guarantee that there will be stumbling blocks along the way.  What gets me and my team up the mountain is that we have extraordinary levels of positive energy in our office.  Optimism is powerful and we’ve used it to turn even our biggest problems into innovative solutions.

I like to BRING the positivity everywhere I go.  To help myself stay as positive as possible I employ the following approaches:

  • Look for the plus side of every unfortunate circumstance. My business bestie once told me: “things don’t happen to you, they happen for you”. It has stuck with me since so instead of dwelling on things that go wrong I try to find the good out of every situation. It’s all about perspective and when you make the commitment to seek out the learning you’ll be surprised at what you can uncover!
  • Give yourself time to dream. Save some space in your mind to envision the future. What do you want to accomplish?  Where do you want to bring your team?  What ideas do you have brewing in your head?   If I didn’t take the time to dream there would be nothing to get excited about.  Dream big and see how enthusiastic you get!
  • Be thankful, all of the time. I mean truly, deeply, thankful. Life is truly wonderful when you’re appreciative. Practicing gratitude all of the time keeps your outlook positive.
  • Get fit! I have to be honest, I hate cardio. But give me the chance to walk with somebody who shares my passion for start-ups and solutions and I don’t even know I am doing it. Find something you like and just do it, once and for all, get moving.  See how excited you’ll get to start your day.
  • Optimism breeds more optimism. A side effect of hanging out with people who are perpetually optimistic is more optimism. Spend less time with negative people and focus on surrounding yourself with optimistic people and watch how energized you become.
  • Face your problems head on. The more you do it the easier it becomes to do. The benefit is if you don’t have to think about problems there won’t be anything to steal your optimistic energy! Not to mention it will make some room for those dreams I was talking about.
  • Two words: energy coaching. Having an outlet for the bumps that happens also makes way for optimism. We’re all human and it’s impossible to be optimistic 24/7 but it is possible to have an outlet for the negative so YOU can focus on the positive!

Optimism is like perfume.  You can’t spray it on yourself without getting it on everybody around you.   I say spray liberally, work on yourself and see how everybody around you reaps the rewards!

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature

Like a Boss!

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From the moment I hired my first employee, my goal was to be the best boss I could be; the kind of leader I had always dreamed of working for.

Building a solid team is no easy task and it would be an impossible task if I weren’t up to the challenge of being a better boss every single day; I must be doing something right because I have an incredible team of driven people who truly get what we’re doing, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there!  And they all seem to really enjoy their job!

The following values have helped me to become the leader I am today:

Honesty – I am 100% honest with my team 100% of the time.  I am a boss of my word.   I am also direct, focused and uncompromising when it comes to the direction of my vision, and if I want my staff to appreciate these values, I have to be truthful 100% of the time— even when my voice shakes or when it means somebody may get hurt or if I have to fire somebody I really like.  It is not always easy but being honest is always worth it.

Integrity – This goes hand in hand with honesty.  Doing the right thing when nobody is looking is as important as speaking the truth.  My staff knows that no matter what is going on we always do the right thing. Our mission involves looking after vulnerable people, after all!

Optimistic – If I am not optimistic about what the future has in store for my growing vision, how can I expect my staff to be?  No matter what’s going on in the business— a difficult client, a shortage of health care professionals for our shift requests, everyday growing pains—I am sure to bring the optimism!

Supportive – I want to make sure each team player has a job that complements them and that they have the tools to do it well.  I encourage my staff to find ways to make their job as purposeful as possible and will implement any good ideas immediately.  I am there for them when it’s tough and I am cheering them on with their successes.  I have their back and they have mine too.

Sense of humour – When all else fails, you’ve got to laugh and there’s nobody I enjoy laughing with more than my team.  The laughs in the office are many and they are important because as a rapidly growing company with a boatload of growing snafus, I really want our office to be a fun place to work.

These are some of the things I do to be the best boss that I can be.  I am not perfect but I am approachable, eager to learn and not afraid to be vulnerable in this position.  What works for you?

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature

Image Matters

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It’s true – your business image matters.  It’s a reflection of what you do and how you do it – and that goes for both your company and the individuals who work within it.  The way you present yourself has a profound impact on how your customers view your service.  And even though your body language and how you dress plays a part in your business image, the are many other ways you can bolster both your personal and business brand.

Here are some of the things that I have focused on to build our brand:

Hire people who care about themselves:

If you visit our office, you’ll find that we have a pretty solid team of people who not only care about the vision but who also care about themselves.  When people care about themselves they put extra attention into their work, the relationships they have with their co-workers and the empathy they bring to the team.  Our office is small and one big ego can really shake our office up which is why we are very picky about who we hire.  I often say ‘there’s a look’ to the people we hire and that look is happy!  A happy team = a successful dream!

Make sure your online presence is consistent:

Our marketing manager, Megan, works diligently to get our message out there through different web platforms.  She has created oodles of online advertisements and they all communicate the things we value as a business and a team:  positivity, attention to detail, high standards, a sense of humour, connecting with people, creativity, professionalism, and of course our mission – making sure our elderly have access to the best care we can give them.  Have a look at your message – what does it say about you?

Have a solid identity:

We know exactly what we do and who we do it for.   There is a monomaniacal focus in our business – our goal is to be the number one back up plan for the Long-Term Care sector – more importantly the people who live and work there.  By having this intra-sectoral focus we’ve been able to create a solution that has proven to work and we have been able to carbon copy it across our province.  This has not only contributed to building our branding but it has also helped us to build a solid relationship with our partners that will continue for years.

Get out there:

Of course, we are very busy working but I do my best to introduce our ‘A’ team to as many people as I can.  Last week we did some team building through a curling bonspiel and next week we’re all attending an International Women’s Day breakfast. I value my team and the work they do and I can tell that they feel it when we are around new people.  They ‘bring it’, authentically, every where they go and with everybody they meet.  Each team member is truly a ‘brand representative’, which encourages other people to want to join our team!

Your image, your brand, your identity – it all means the same thing – and once you develop it, it is really hard to change.  These are a few things I do that have helped grow our brand, but it didn’t happen over night.  Take your time building it and don’t skimp on what’s important to you.  Discover your niche, identify what sets you apart and build a team who believe in it and you’ll be on your way to building a business brand that is top-notch!

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature

 

 

Don’t Forget to Play!

DSC_7136.jpgI am just getting back to work after a week away, and boy am I eager to get going!  I feel energized, I’m brimming with ideas and busting at the seams with energy.  I love what a week away can do for my mind, my body and my creativity.  Vitamin Sea is just what the doctor ordered!   I feel great and here are the reasons why:

  • My mind got the rest it needed.  Being an entrepreneur involves long days, challenging situations and smart decisions.  You are always operating in overdrive to come up with and execute all of those amazing solutions.  It’s not unusual to feel mentally exhausted after a few months.  I didn’t go completely off the grid and I don’t think my mind would have rested if I was.  I did give myself an hour or so a day to check email, respond to texts, read the paper and post pictures on Facebook but after that was done I was back to being in the moment.
  • Connecting with my family. Being an entrepreneur means out-of-town travel, late nights, running into fires and responding to a crazy amount of emails, texts and calls.  Unfortunately, sometimes life gets the best of me and I forget to take time to ‘smell the roses’.  Getting away and connecting with the most important people in your life is fun and fulfilling.  The family that plays together…
  • A change of scenery. Home, school, work, repeat.  A change of scenery is a good way to get the ideas flowing.  Stimulate those senses and watch the ideas flow!
  • I gotta be me. For one whole week, I am just me.  I am not a boss or a business partner, a mentor or a mentee, a volunteer or a board member, a client or a consultant.  For one whole week, I am makeup-less, running around in a bathing suit, mastering underwater tricks with my 9-year-old and drinking mimosas for breakfast.  It’s refreshing to let loose with not a worry about anything except what you’re going to eat next.
  • I get to see how solid my team is. My team was challenged and empowered and motivated to run the business like they own it.  By getting out of their way I was able to see how far they’ve come as a team and how connected to the vision they are.  I believe that every team needs a leader, but by getting out of their face for a week I saw them thrive with the vision and I also saw them drive the vision.  They did a superb job and I look forward to using the experience to further develop our team.

Vacation, stay-cation or road trip – use rest, connecting with loved ones and fun as away to boost your creativity too!

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature

Building a Brand on a Dime

nomoney.jpgGood branding is at the core of any good company.  When you’re just starting, developing your brand with limited funds takes some creative thinking.  I knew the day I opened Plan A for business that I wanted to build a brand that our customers recognized as compassionate, dependable and logical. I wanted my brand to communicate everything about my vision and with a shoestring budget. I set out to use my limited resources as strategically as possible.  Six years later, we are known as the largest health care tech staffing company in the North.  We put out a premium service and our health care pool is known to be the best around.  Our branding has played a big part of building that relationship.

Here are some of the things I did and that we continue to do that have helped us to shape the brand we are today:

1.Be unique. Our solutions are creative, proven AND unique! They combine giant pain points with simple customized technology for an effective and efficient staffing strategy.  How’s that for unique?

2.Create your own culture. I knew from day one if I was ever going to be somebody’s boss that I would work hard to be the best boss I could be.  The culture started with me so I put everything I valued on the table:  honesty, accountability, communication, integrity, team work, humour and fun and I got to work creating a culture around that.

3.Grow and expand your network. There are many ways to do this.  I started by pushing myself out of my comfort zone and getting out there.   I joined the local Chamber of Commerce and Toastmasters right away.  I got involved with volunteer work, I attended networking events and I invited lots of people to lunch!  I got to know many people in the community and my network is continuously growing.  Other ways we’ve built our network is by our business blog and through online communities such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

4.Deliver exceptional customer service. We are dealing with people and health care so we have the occasional snafu.  Even when things are chaotic, in fact, especially when they are chaotic, our focus is still on keeping our customers happy.  Our ‘run into the fire’ attitude and focus on solutions keeps our relationships with our clients strong no matter what is going on.

5.Have a good name and a logo to match. A strong brand starts with your company’s name.  Your company name and logo are going to appear on everything:  business cards, letterhead, car signage, promotional items, website, social media, etc. You’re going to be looking at it and talking about it for a long time.  Make sure they look and sound great!

6.Speak with one voice. Knowing what we do and why we do it has always been important.  Having a team that speaks in the same language has been a game changer!

7.Consistency. Since day one, our marketing material has been light, sometimes funny and relatable, inspirational and focused.   We stay true to this through all of our marketing platforms.

8.Know what your business stands for. Knowing what we stand for has helped us to build solid connections with our clients, our staff pool, within our office, with people we do business with and in our community.  Knowing what we stand for also guides us when we are faced with something we are against.

Branding your business is important.  These inexpensive strategies have helped me get my name out there, successfully, without a big budget!  Let me know what works for you!

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature

It’s All About ‘We’

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2017 has started off with more growth on the horizon for our team.  Choosing our next team member is tricky because my businesses are only as strong as my team.  Our team works exceptionally well together because we understand the strengths and weaknesses of each team member.  One of the benefits of having a strong team in the office is that our team members have become proficient at dividing up tasks so they are done by the most qualified people.

You’ve heard me say this many times:  our team totally rocks!  It truly does.  But this didn’t happen by accident.  We’ve worked hard to make our team fit well together and after years of many of us working together we can tell pretty quickly if somebody won’t be a good fit.

So what it is that makes our team shine?  As we continue to build our team in 2017 here are four things we are looking for in potential team members:

Emotional Intelligence

Having technical skills is very important but I would say that emotional intelligence is equally important…if not more.   When people are aware of themselves and are socially aware, I find the connections are strengthened on the team…and with strong connections there’s a greater sense of trust on the team.  Yup, emotional intelligence is number one!

Everybody Sees the Bigger Picture…

… And they believe in it.  It doesn’t matter if you’re the CEO of StaffStat or the lead recruiter in Plan A, our common goal is putting out solutions that make accessing staff better, cheaper and faster.  We all get that, and even though our individual jobs are completely different from each other, collectively we are all contributing to the same bigger picture.  Believing what you can’t see is definitely number two!

Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

There isn’t a day that goes by where there isn’t laughter in our office.  Lots of it!  Funny stories, harmless teasing, inside jokes…it all can be found in our office on a daily basis.   We’ve used humor to create a positive and fun culture which has helped us build our brand, attract and retain excellent employees and appeal to  customers.  If you can’t laugh, you won’t be a good fit for our team!

A good mix of people

We have Gen X-ers, Gen Y-ers and Gen Z-ers, ; we have married people with children and single people with fur babies;  we have introverts, extroverts and intro/extroverts.  We have empaths, and bleeding hearts and we also have people who are aloof and pragmatic.  We have dreamers with high levels of creativity and people who use schedules to get the job done; we have people who are laissez-fair and those who like things tickety-boo.   It’s this mix and accepting people’s strengths and their weaknesses for what they are and utilizing their qualities to best optimize our office that works for us.

These are just a few things that work for our office.  There are definitely more.  Please share what works for your team!

Happy Monday!

SheriSignature