Happy August, NLOWE blog readers! For the entire month, NLOWE’s social media channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and of course our blog, Around & About) will be centered on the theme of Business Connections. What is Business Connections? Business Connections is NLOWE’s training program designed to educate women entrepreneurs on ways to grow their businesses and to grow as business owners, as well as how to create strategies for putting growth plans into action.
We have two staffers here at NLOWE dedicated to delivering the Business Connections curriculum to interested participants: There’s me, Melissa Wheeler, located at the NLOWE Head Office in St. John’s, and there’s my counterpart, Lisa Birmingham, on the west coast, located at the NLOWE office in Corner Brook. I’m responsible for the eastern half of the island, and Lisa is responsible for the western half of the island as well as Labrador.
So far, we have delivered the Business Connections training program to 12 groups of women business owners (totalling 70 women business owners overall) in 8 different locations. We’ve been to St. John’s, Conception Bay South, Clarenville, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor, St.Alban’s, DeerLake and Corner Brook, and we’re not stopping there. Our plans for the next year include groups in GooseBay, Bonavista, Twillingate, and Port aux Basques, and our eyes are always peeled for new locations to deliver the program.
To kick off Business Connections month on the NLOWE blog, I thought it would be best to create a list, so without further ado, I hereby present you with the Top 5 Reasons to Participate in Business Connections!
1. Learn 10 modules worth of information on business growth
The Business Connections program features a curriculum centered on the theme of growth that is delivered in three stages. The first stage lays the foundation for the program in a workshop entitled, “Assessing Your Business Potential.” The next stage includes 10 modules of targeted training that focuses on providing information on ways to grow a business. Some of these topics include Supplier Diversity & WEConnect Canada, Procurement, Entering the Global Supply Chain, and Bidding & Tendering. The targeted training also includes ways to grow skills and knowledge as businesswomen, including Networking, Identifying Your Target Audience, Perfecting Your Sales Pitch and Social Media. The final stage of the program is a Strategic Planning workshop, which is designed to give participants an action plan to follow after the Business Connections program is finished in order to make their dreams of growth a reality.
When everything is said and done, you will walk away from the Business Connections program with a binder full of information and material that you can use to bring your business to the next level.
2. Socialize, network and connect with other women business owners
An ideal participant for the Business Connections program is a woman business owner who is currently selling business-to-business (or has the potential to sell business-to-business), and/ or is considering business growth through exporting or supplier diversity initiatives.
If you meet the criteria and decide to participate in a Business Connections group, you will have the opportunity to network and connect with other like-minded entrepreneurs, allowing you to openly discuss your business with a supportive group that can offer you feedback on any business challenge or business idea that you have. Oftentimes participants of the Business Connections program work alone or are home-based, and really enjoyed the time they are able to spend away from the office, socializing with other women who understand the joys and obstacles of owning a business.
One of my favourite parts of delivering the Business Connections program is the end-of-Business-Connections luncheon! It’s a nice way to celebrate coming to the end of the program together as a group and to socialize as friends. It’s also a great way for us to support local businesses.
3. Discounts on NLOWE events
During your time as a participant of Business Connections, you will receive a discounted price on any growth training events or workshops that NLOWE offers. Growth training goes hand-in-hand with the Business Connections curriculum, and we encourage our participants to attend any professional development opportunities that are relevant to their business’s growth plan.
4. Complete the program with a strategic plan
All Business Connections participants receive a binder of the curriculum materials, as well as a workbook. The workbook corresponds with the material learned during the program, and by the time you finish the program, you will have a completed strategic plan to facilitate your plans of business growth. I often hear that business owners find it hard to take the ideas from their head and put them into action, or, in other words, they spend too much time working IN their business and not ON their business. The workbook helps you figure out where you want your business to go and how you will get your business there. Handy!
5. It’s FREE!
As we know, there are a number of large-scale projects happening right now in Newfoundland and Labrador in a number of different sectors. Just to name a few, we have Hebron (oil and gas), Vale (mining), and MuskratFalls (energy), and there are still many, many other projects continuing to grow and enjoy success. These major projects are valued at billions and billions of dollars and supply both employment and supply opportunities to the residents and business owners of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Small business owners in the province are missing out on these major opportunities because they may not be aware of how to get involved, or think that there is no demand in the project supply chains for what they have to offer. The reality is that these major projects need to procure just about everything. They need accommodations for employees, they hire fitness consultants to keep these employees healthy and fit, they need health and safety training, they need help organizing and planning events, they need artwork for the office walls – they need just about anything you can imagine!
To draw awareness to these opportunities and provide knowledge and information to the women business owners we work with at NLOWE, we entered into a partnership with the Department of Innovation, Business and Rural Development (IBRD), a branch of the provincial government, to create Business Connections. Thanks to this partnership, Business Connections is 100% free for any woman business owner who chooses to participate in the program. So just think, you receive the four other benefits included on this list absolutely free of charge! A great deal if you ask me.
If after reading this list you are sold on participating in Business Connections, then your next question is probably, “how do I sign up?” To participate in an upcoming Business Connections group, you can contact myself, Melissa, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 709-754-5555 ext. 233, or contact Lisa at email@example.com, 709-639-1244. We look forward to hearing from you!