What You Need to Know About E-Commerce: An Interview with Ashley Janssen, CEO of Code and Effect

We sat down with Ashley Janssen, CEO of Code and Effect and Former PeerSpark member to ask her about everything e-commerce and what you need to know as a business owner.

Ashley is facilitating E-Commerce: How to Get Started on April 26, 2017 at the ATB Entrepreneur Centre in Edmonton. You can register here.

Q: What does a successful e-commerce website need to include?

That is a really big question with a number of different answers. The short answer is that you need to actually set up and be a business, you need a strategic plan including financial management, you need to pick the appropriate platform for selling your products, and then implement a detailed marketing plan. (Whew!)

The long answer is that, as you will see in my workshop, there are many strategic planning and business administration steps that need to happen behind the scenes before an e-commerce platform is selected and items are sold. These steps are the building blocks to setting up a successful e-commerce website. They include building a cashflow spreadsheet to make sure the numbers work, setting up the business properly through incorporating and getting everything all your business numbers, GST, licences, etc.

Then you can confidently go through the process of selecting the right e-commerce platform, payment platform, and template for your business.

Once your e-commerce platform is setup, you can’t just hope people with come to it. It is at least as much work as a traditional brick and mortar business. You need to have a marketing plan, social media and social validation, email newsletter marketing, Adwords and online marketing with landing pages, blogs for organic search results….I could go on.

Q: How do Google Analytics and Keywords impact your website overall?

Google analytics and keywords are vital to the success of an e-commerce website. Your analytics, if properly set-up, are an important decision making tool that you should be checking regularly. Your analytics are what tell you what parts of your website and marketing campaigns are effective and when you need to make changes/updates to your website.

Adwords with effective landing pages can be instrumental in educating and raising awareness to potential customers and, in turn, driving sales.

Q: What systems (tools) do you recommend to someone just starting out with their website?

This is also a hard question to answer because there are so many variables. You needs tools/systems for: productivity, email, accounting, e-commerce platform, payment platform, newsletter management, analytics, landing pages, social media management, etc. The answer to which one in each category, is, “it depends”. In my workshop I will go into more detail about some of these and give more clarity on how to make educated decisions about which tools are right for you.

Q: How has your website evolved since you first started your business?

Well, it has been a decade so that is a long answer. The short version is that we have redone our website 4 times, recently rebranded from AgileStyle to Code and Effect, and each time we get a bit better at communicating who we are and what we do.

We started out mostly building brochure type websites and evolved to custom development and web applications.

Q: Tell us more about Code and Effect.

Our tagline is: “Need software but don’t know where to start? Let us help”.

We do custom software development. Customers come to us when they can’t find an off-the-shelf solution for a business problem. We work with them to find their pain points and develop software that solves that pain.

Rather than specializing in particular industries, we serve any small or medium-sized business that has unique processes requiring unique software. Some examples would be custom e-commerce, membership portals or customer management systems.

Q: Any other advice you would like to share with a website newbie?

A website is just a small part of your overall business strategy, even when you are an online business. It is a just one of many tools at your disposal. Your website is not your business but rather a platform for serving your customers. Just building a website is not enough, there are many other things, as I will go over in the workshop, that must be done in order to make your website effective.

Join Ashley and AWE for Introduction to E-Commerce: How to Get Started on April 26, 2017 at the ATB Entrepreneur Centre in Edmonton. 

Spring Greetings from Marcela Mandeville

Marcela and her beloved companion, Callie.

Marcela and her beloved companion, Callie.

Spring has officially sprung and it’s such an exciting time of year! I love those first few warm days when the sun is shining and people start to emerge from their winter hibernation. Patios start to fill up, the dog parks are abuzz (my personal happy place) and the anticipation for fun days ahead is almost palpable.

For me, spring represents a time of hope – hope for the opportunities the future holds. This spring our team is working with some incredible entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses to turn opportunities into growth. Here in Alberta, our PeerSpark accelerator program spring cohort is kicking off soon (space is limited!) and will provide support and resources for women who are ready to take their business to the next level.

But, we’re also on the move! Our team is hitting The Strip in June for a Canadian Trade Mission at The 2017 WBENC National Conference and Business Fair with Business Women in International Trade and an enthusiastic group of women who are looking to expand into new markets. Though the saying is, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,” we’ll make an exception for all of you and will be sharing success stories and learnings from both of these programs over the next few months.

As much as there is to look forward to, we can’t forget to reflect on how far we’ve come, which is why we’re celebrating some exceptional female business owners who have made significant achievements in the last year. We hope to see you all at this year’s AWE Awards on May 18th where we’ll recognize four outstanding women for their contributions to the business community.

So, as we help women entrepreneurs in Alberta “spring ahead” – so to speak – we want to thank our funders, sponsors and partners for your support and look forward to seeing you at all the Awards ceremony next month!

Client Feature: Stacy Nehring

We sat down with Stacy Nehring, Operations Manager of UTV Canada and current PeerSpark™  participant to ask her more about her business and the value she has seen from mentorship.

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Q: How did you get involved in UTV Canada?

A: My Dad started UTV Canada 10 years ago. I joined him as a part-time employee seven years ago, which quickly turned into a full-time role after only a year as we reached new levels of growth! My job included everything from sales calls to shipping to sweeping the floor. I am now the Operations Manager.

Q: If you could give advice to anyone coming into a family business, what would it be?

A: My advice would be to keep the business in the business! It's not easy to work with family at all times. At the end of the day, you want to be able to have family dinners together. Put your family first, business second.

Q: When you started out at UTV Canada, did you see a gap in the mentorship you had from a business standpoint?

A: Absolutely. None of us within the family have any business background whatsoever. My Dad had other businesses he operated but none were like UTV Canada. To make the company what we wanted it to be, we definitely needed some formal mentorship to help it grow.

Q: Where did you look for business mentorship when you were first starting out?

A: The only help we had in the beginning was a family-friend who has a similar business in the RV industry, so we spoke with him a few times.  That's really the only mentorship we had except from people like our accountant or lawyer. In terms of business strategy and mentorship related to that, I didn't find that until I joined PeerSpark™ .

Q: How did you find out about the PeerSpark™  program?

A: Through an event with the Leduc Chamber of Commerce. A representative from AWE was there and my sister and I were able to learn more about the program. It wasn't until an in-depth conversations afterwards that I realized that this was the program I needed!

Q: What would you say is the biggest takeaway you have had from the program?

A: My biggest takeaway is the network of women I am now apart of. Even though we are all in totally different industries, we share the same struggles and are able to help each other through it and provide feedback and advice.

Q: What PeerSpark™  session would you say has been the most valuable to your business?

A: Definitely the Strategic Planning for Growth session. Our business was affected by the downturn and this session and mentorship helped me realize how we can move forward. We are adding a new retail line to our business this year and we are so excited!

Q: Would you recommend the PeerSpark™  program to others?

A: Absolutely. I talk about it to every woman business owner I know! The program provides great value and has helped our business tremendously. 

Be sure to follow UTV Canada on Facebook and check out their website www.utvcanada.com 

Interested in learning more about the PeerSpark™ program and how it can help your business? Get in touch with us today! 

Guest Blog: How Can Being a "Jill of All Trades” Relate to Financing?

Do you know that women account for 40% of all tool sales? Well, a good number of us get tired of waiting for someone else to do the work for us, according to Ann-Marie Campbell, a Home Depot Executive. "As women become more empowered," she said, "they come into Home Depot and say, Hey, I can do this. I don't need my husband or partner to do it for me…"

While moderating the lunchtime panel at the AWE Learning Day on February 22nd, I brought my home toolkit onto the stage to impress upon the 150+ business owners in attendance that just like the toolkit a contractor brings to your home to do their job, a financial toolkit is similarly required when it’s time to scale up your business.

Just like the multi-head screwdriver, measuring tape, hammer, nails and cordless electric drill that you keep in your basement or garage, what are the most-often requested components of a financial toolkit?

The application is the starting point and creates an overview of your business. At this stage funders want to know what product or service you provide, who owns the business, who you bank with, current financing in place, the amount you are requesting to finance and why.

Next, depending on whether you are seeking funds from a traditional source such as the bank, or from alternatives including angel investors, venture capital groups, grant providers or asset based lending/factoring organizations; the required document list will vary. Financial Statements are key and provide a picture of past performance; some financiers will request a business plan, cash flow projections and maybe your bank statements for the last 4 months.

Your accounts receivable aging, list of customers, inventory and equipment summary, as well as GST and payroll deductions status are possible ‘asks’. Market size, competitors, exit strategy, management team resumes, website address, social media accounts and a personal financial statement round out the list of possible requirements.

Phew! Are you exhausted just reading the list?!

Applying for financing may seem daunting and never-ending but in most cases it’s not. If your documents are up to date and you supply everything requested at the time you complete the application, most financiers will provide you with an answer quickly – e.g. equipment lease financing may take as little as 24 hours, factoring line 3-5 days, simple bank loan 5-10 days …

Financing involving grants, more complex debt and equity partners will take longer – be sure to ask how long the process is expected to take so that you don’t panic. Also, begin the process sooner rather than later and lastly, ask for help!

You know, I was thrilled with the number of women who raised their hands to let me know that ‘YES’ they own power tools! Ladies, it’s not that big of a stretch from power tools to financials – follow the instructions and you’ll be well on your way!

About the Author

 

Judy Perdomo President, Liquid Capital Rockyview Inc.

Judy Perdomo
President, Liquid Capital Rockyview Inc.

New Support for Alberta’s Women Entrepreneurs

The Alberta government is helping Alberta’s women entrepreneurs expand and grow their businesses through the Community and Regional Economic Support (CARES) program.

Alberta Women Entrepreneurs (AWE) will receive $101,863 in funding through the CARES program for PeerSpark – a program that brings together like-minded women entrepreneurs to explore opportunities for accelerated business growth in a peer group setting. With programs starting in April and November of this year, PeerSpark will encourage leadership and business skill development while introducing participants to key resources, networks, grant programs and trade experts.

AWE’s PeerSpark program has shown tremendous potential for business and community success with graduates reporting average year-over-year revenue growth of approximately 20 per cent and an average of one to two new jobs created, with some businesses doubling in size within two years.

Read the full press release here.

Learning Day Re-Cap

It's hard to believe Learning Day has already come and gone for another year. We had an amazing time hosting some new and familiar faces for a day of networking, education and fun. Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be lonely, but it doesn't have to be.

At AWE one of our mandates is to bring women together. Whether it is through events such as this, workshops throughout the year or business advising. We believe our communities and economies are stronger when women are full participants in entrepreneurship!

We would like to extend a special thank-you to our presenting sponsor, ATB Business. This event would have not been possible without you! We would also like to thank all of our partners, speakers, and experts for carving time out of their busy lives to share their knowledge with our event attendees. Last, but certainly not least we want to thank the entrepreneurs or aspiring entrepreneurs for taking time away from their business and spending it with us! 

While there were many highlights of the day, here are some takeaways that we want to share!

1. Know Your Customer Base! Wean Green CEO, Melissa Gunning did an amazing job explaining why customer relationship management tools (CRMs) are vital to relationship building with not only current, but prospective clients! Melissa emphasized the importance of finding the right buyers and utilizing LinkedIn to play a roll in your sales cycle.

2. Your Financial Toolkit Should Be Stocked With Resources! Judy Perdomo of Liquid Capital Corporation lead an amazing panel during the lunch hour that discussed the variety of resources available to entrepreneurs. Whether it is venture capital or a traditional bank loan, know your options to help grow your business to the next level. Cash flow is key!

3. Fail to Plan, Plan to Fail. Linda Hoang from Calder Bateman facilitated an amazing session on the basics of social media for business. Linda emphasized the importance of creating regular content calendars that tie into key business initiatives. Staying organized and on-top of your social media will breed success.

These are just some of the amazing takeaways from Learning Day. Did you attend the event? What was your favourite part? Let us know in the comment section below!

Stay tuned for upcoming AWE events and workshops by subscribing to our newsletter. You can do so by clicking here.

 

 

 

 

 

Community Roundup: Entrepreneurs We Love!

It's Valentines Day! What better way to celebrate than by featuring some exciting pieces from entrepreneurs we love. Many members of the AWE community share useful and interesting things online, and we like to draw your attention to these posts from time to time on the blog. Enjoy!

Watch this space for more news from friends of AWE in the coming months.

Want to stay in touch with AWE programs and events? Sign-up for our newsletter today! 

Business Growth in Supply Chain

Supply Chains are important within every business and every person’s life.  A supply chain is the network of all the individuals, organizations, resources, activities and technologies involved in the creation and sale of a product, from the delivery of source materials from the supplier to the manufacturer, through to its eventual delivery to the end user.

Everything we do, everywhere we go, every business and person uses a supply chain at some point in their daily activity.  Eating, drinking, living, moving, commuting, these are all daily activities supported by supply chains.  When you consider business growth, volume, velocity, and distance are the three most important supply chain factors.

Volume is a primary driver of the type of supply chain you use.  When we first start out, our volume of service or product is usually low, and as we grow it begins to build.  A low volume supply chain has a higher cost than a high volume supply chain on a per unit basis.  As your volume increases, your supply chain should also shift.  The supply chain becomes less expensive per unit because your costs are spread out across more units.

The second key factor is velocity.  Are you in a hurry?  If yes, it will cost more (FedEx overnight is a lot more expensive than FedEx 2-day service).  The question to ask is – how long can someone wait for what they need?  If the answer is “a while” then pick the slowest delivery method – it will always be lower cost than faster.

Finally, the farther you go to deliver, the more it will cost.  If you are buying and selling product in your own city delivery costs are low.  If you are buying or selling product overseas, your costs will be higher. So if you are a small business that is just starting out, try to deliver and sell locally first and then to other cities, provinces, and countries after you have built up more volume.

As your business grows, the type of supply chain that you use and how much it costs shifts.   The important thing to know is that as your business grows the type of delivery system and supply chain that you need will change.  If you go from shipping a few cases to thousands of cases, but you are using the expensive courier model, then you will have a declining rate of return and your profitability could be negatively affected.  Understanding how your services and products are delivered and how much it costs is an important part of containing operating expenses to ensure maximum possible profit.

About the Author

 

Corrie Banks is a supply chain costing and solution design expert with 20 years of experience implementing technology and supply chain efficiency projects. Corrie has worked for Canadian Pacific Railway, Canadian Pacific Logistics Solutions and Parmalat Canada with a progressive career starting as administrative assistant progressing to Senior Management to President of Triskele Logistics.

Corrie has managed $25M transportation budget including fleet, warehouse, and 3 rd party freight carriers. While at Canadian Pacific Corrie created statistical analysis systems for Mechanical Services, managed IT projects for Customer Service, and managed many aspects of Canadian Pacific Logistics Solutions including 3rd party logistics for a large CPG company, a large alcohol producer and steel pipe manufacturer. Her technical, analytical and operations management experience has resulted in ~7% - 10% annual cost reductions year over year for the organizations that she has worked with.

Corrie has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of Athabasca, a white belt in Lean Manufacturing and a green belt in Six Sigma. Corrie is the Chair of the Calgary Logistics Council, a member of the Van Horne Institute Women In Supply Chain steering committee, a past project advisor the Van Horne Youth In Supply Chain project, a working group member for the Canadian Supply Chain Sector Council - Supply Chain Links Part II: Connector project, and the Chair of the Supply Chain Management program advisory committee for SAIT. She is passionate about people, getting involved in helping others and supporting them in their career development.

Hear Corrie and many other great speakers at this year's Learning Day! Get your tickets today!

 

Building A Resilient Business

Now more than ever resilience is the key to surviving challenging and changing times in business.

Why?

Resilient businesses (and business owners) are better able to manage change, deal with crisis, collaborate and manage the challenges that get in the way of success.  Resilience is like a bank account, you have to keep depositing into the account for wealth to accumulate.  If you take withdrawals without making deposits, the account will run dry. The same is true for resilience.

Charmaine Hammond, expert in leadership, and business success will be sharing strategies for resilience in business at the upcoming AWE conference. 

When businesses are not resilient there are a number of difficulties that can (and likely will) occur, many that can be catastrophic for business success.  Businesses lacking resilience are likely to:

·       Experience high degrees of wasted time and energy, duplicated efforts and inefficiencies.

·       Jeopardize relationships and communication with clients, and customers.

·       Make costly mistakes.

·       Experience more conflict, turnover and personnel issues, and,

·       Make reactive or emotionally based decisions instead of well-planned decisions.

There’s good news!

These results are avoidable and resilience is teachable.

As a leader, these 3 consistent actions can boost the resilience in your life and business.

1.     Take at least 30 minutes each day to refill your resilience bank account. That could be simple activities like a walk outside, a hobby, reading a good (not work related) book.  This “ME” time goes a long way in re-energizing you.

2.     Bookend your day. Frame your day in the morning. Decide how you want to show up. Set one goal you must achieve.  End your day in a meaningful way (not checking email or doing work minutes before bed). 

3.     Watch your language. Are you saying things like “I am too busy”, “I can’t keep up”, “I’m exhausted.” The words we say and think frame how we show up and ultimately the results we experience. Instead consider statements like “I have energy to get my most important priorities done”, “I can ask for help when the list gets too big” and “the pace I am choosing allows me maximum efficiency.”

At the Conference Charmaine will share what it takes to supercharge your results and business success without stress. 

Learning Day is less than a month away. Have you got your tickets yet?

 

3 Reasons You Should Attend Learning Day

As an entrepreneur, you know that being in business for yourself is not always easy. Being an entrepreneur takes long hours, hard work and endless amounts of caffeine. It also takes a certain level of tolerance and resiliency.

On February 22, 2017 we are bringing together the best of the best to present Learning Day: Growing a Resilient Business at MacEwan University in Edmonton. The day will be filled with countless opportunities to grow your network and grow your business with valuable advice from our keynote speaker, Charmaine Hammond, specialists from within the entrepreneurial community and experts from organizations such as ATB Business and Business Link.

While there are many reasons to attend Learning Day, here are the top three reasons why we think you should attend!

1. Expand your business tool kit through a number of workshops

Education is the key to moving towards your goals. In a world that is constantly changing, continuous learning is vital as a business owner. At Learning Day you will be able to access a variety of workshops with topics including sales, human resources, marketing and scaling your business. 

2. Connect with like-minded professional women and the business community

Being an entrepreneur can sometimes be isolating. It can be hard to relate to friends or family about your business pains and peaks. At Learning Day you will be able to connect with like-minded women who understand what it's like to be in business for yourself. You will also have the opportunity to meet service providers and partner organizations who are doing amazing things to support entrepreneurs just like you! 

3. Learn best practices to grow your business

From accessing a variety of workshops to connecting with like-minded women and partner organizations, there is so much to gain from attending Learning Day. We are sure you will be inspired after attending the event and hearing from our keynote speaker, Charmaine Hammond who is an expert in conflict resolution and igniting resilient workplaces. 

We are so excited to see this event come to life. It will be a day to remember!

Questions about the event? Reach out to us

Register today!

 

5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Employee

 5 Tips for Hiring the Perfect Employee

Whether you are making your first hire, or are looking to hire additional employees as your business grows, you want to make sure you are moving forward with the employees who will help your business to thrive. 69% of employers said their companies were adversely affected by a bad hire last year, according to a recent study by CareerBuilder. 41% of those businesses estimated the cost of a bad hire was over $25,000! So how do you know if the person you’ve hired is really your next star employee, or just charming in an interview chair?

Holiday Greetings from Marcela Mandeville

What a year! 2016 was certainly filled with change, challenge, and opportunity. As winter solstice arrives and we prepare to bring 2016 to a close, it seems like the perfect time to look back on our year and to look forward to the longer days and adventure that awaits in 2017. 

As you will see, we already have great things planned to kick off the new year.

Of course, I could not look back on 2016 without mentioning taking on the CEO role, which has been a great opportunity to lead a dedicated team who model purpose every day in our efforts to help women entrepreneurs build successful businesses. 

Trying to determine highlights for the year has been quite a challenge - there were so many moments, stories and experiences. When I pulled together these pieces, what emerged was a picture of why we proudly saw Alberta lead Canada in exceeding parity in participation rates of women as early stage business owners and why we are so committed to helping women in our province reach their entrepreneurial dreams.

As we move into 2017, we aim to connect more entrepreneurs into our ever-growing, amazing community of women business owners who contribute so much to Alberta by taking risks, building strong local businesses, innovating new products and processes, role modeling business savviness, supporting other entrepreneurs, moving into new markets, and overall making the world a better place.

We are so thankful to our clients, funders, sponsors, partners, families (pets included, of course), and friends for your valuable support. From our AWE family to yours, we wish you a happy and safe holiday season. 

We are excited to continue our journey with you in 2017!

Community Roundup

Many members of the AWE community share useful and interesting things online, and we like to draw your attention to these posts from time to time on the blog. Enjoy!

 

  • Boreal Services Group, founded by Deidra Helmig shares the five products that saved their business. From Quickbooks to Basecamp, we're sure many entrepreneurs can agree that these tools are more than helpful to any small business.
  • Knowing yourself is an important part of being an entrepreneur. In her latest blog post, Ashley Janssen (Principal at Agile Style) shares tips on how to manage your time, your relationship and your work.
  • Michelle Hordal, Founder and Executive Director of Adaptabilities recently hosted their third annual Respite N' Rejuvenate event. This organization is doing amazing things for so many families in our city. 
  • Making Calgary and area homes beautiful is what Shannon Lenstra, President of Kon-strux Developments specializes in. Shannon and her army of interior designers made the 30 Best Interior Designer Companies in Calgary list with Point 2 Homes. 
  • Michelle Cotton, President of Solstice Canada has the perfect place for business owners to rent a small office or desk (and we hear it's close to Duchess Bakery..)

Do you have exciting things happening in your business that you would like us to feature? Be sure to share them with us on social media or send us a note to external.relations@awebusiness.com. 

 

 

 

Michelle Hordal- Support To Step Into Uncomfortable Territory

Michelle Hordal- Support To Step Into Uncomfortable Territory

Michelle is the founder and Executive Director of Alberta AdaptAbilities Association, a registered charity providing special needs children and young adults with a variety of quality programs that target the development of the whole individual, while providing peace of mind to the families in the stress of everyday challenges. Michelle is an alumnus of the PeerSpark™ program.

Meghan Dear – Making the Most of International Expansion Opportunities

Meghan Dear – Making the Most of International Expansion Opportunities

Meghan is the founder and CEO of Localize, an awareness platform to educate shoppers about where their food comes from. She leads the vision to build a service that shares better food information at the shelf’s edge, so consumers can finally shop in peace with the right information at hand. Meghan was the 2016 AWE Emerging Innovator Award recipient.

7 Ways To Build Loyal Customers

7 Ways To Build Loyal Customers

In a world of endless options, it is increasingly tougher to gain the loyalty of a customer. However, the effort invested to build the loyalty and keep them coming back is absolutely worth it. Studies have shown that it costs 6-7 times more to acquire a new customer than to provide service to an existing one (Ciotti, G.). According to a study done by Consumer Insight Group, those existing customers who develop a sense of loyalty to your brand will show their love in different ways: 78% will spread the word, 68% will buy more, and 54% will refuse to buy other products. Does that sound like something you’re interested in?