Category: Employee Retention

Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs Part II

In Part I of Marketing Tips for Entrepreneurs, I shared 5 ways to increase your sales through small changes to your marketing. And that was just the beginning! As you adjust your marketing plan, take a look at these additional tips to ensure your marketing is optimized for more sales. 


I challenge you to start working on just one of these tips for 30-days straight and record your results. Let me know what happens! I’d love to hear your results And, if you have any questions, I’m always just an email away! 


Work on the Front Lines

Step down a notch and work on the front lines with your sales and customer service staff. Find out what they are doing, what’s working for them, and what needs to change to improve their work environment or the process they are doing. Get feedback on how they enjoy their job, and make an effort to improve their job, if possible. Take notes to show them you are authentically concerned about how they feel in their work environment. A happy employee stays with you!


Show Appreciation to Your Staff

Too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day dealings of our small businesses. A great way to show your workers and staff that you care about them is by appreciating their work. Continuously acknowledging your staff, vendors and customers is an excellent way to increase productivity, mood, and satisfaction. Sending them a hand-written card goes a long way! Everyone works and shops better when they feel appreciated.


Get Feedback from Staff and Clients

Always listen to feedback from employees and customers, even if you don’t like the feedback. Follow up and ask them why they feel the way they do so you understand their perspective. Chances are that if they have a complaint or compliment, someone else will likely also share their concerns. Ask them what they would do to change the situation and see if you can take steps to better or continue what’s doing well in your company.


Test and Use Data Analytics

Continuously test markets, ads, and marketing techniques. This is the only way to stay successful and know what’s working and, more importantly, what’s not. Using Google Analytics, social media stats, and other data to see what’s working and utilize those actions repeatedly to duplicate your success.


Educate Your Clients

Offer more information in your marketing with your blog and social media. The more information you offer, the more products and services you sell. When you educate your clients or leads, they will understand why they need your services.

Media Blog | Real Talk | Creating and Sustaining Your Business Partner Relationship

Having worked in the non-profit, marketing, and entertainment industry for over a decade, many of my friends thought I would be unequivocally in that space for many more years to come. However, I threw everyone a curveball when I decided to start a gluten-free bakery after a celiac disease diagnosis. 

Even though outwardly this seemed like a stretch, my family knew our history with entrepreneurship and that I spent my early years cooking and baking with my grandmother on their farm. Though my experience in baking was limited, I did know that what was available to me as a celiac consumer was slim and not of great quality. I tell a story about going to a local bakery and buying hundreds of dollars worth of product for a birthday party, only to have it all moldy the morning of.

With my bakery business, I wanted to focus not only on a quality product but also the education and customer care side that came with this type of fresh-zero preservatives product. I wanted to be known as the most exciting, fun, and caring place for the gluten free community. 

Creating a Gluten-Free Business 

Three years later, after staying up late nights researching and collecting data, I came up with a business plan for my gluten-free bakery. My business plan at the time included a partner because I knew I couldn’t do it all in this entrepreneurial bakery business. I needed a partner who could own the product development side.

I was able to find my partner via @glutenfreegirl on Twitter, who retweeted my request for a bakery business partner on her feed. Several people were interested, and the interview process started. One of the six potential partners made its way to the top of my list, and we started working together at the local farmer’s market. After a few months of working with my partner, I was able to leave my career to build out the bakery idea fully.

Creating a Business from a Problem to Solution

The majority of businesses are created for two reasons: either to solve a problem (gluten free bakery) or as investment opportunities for those who are really good at their jobs (think attornies, bookkeepers, landscapers, etc). In both cases, the business model should be developed around your why. You’ve likely heard it before, people don’t buy your product they buy your why (or you). 

From a financial stability standpoint, think about your runway. How are you going to sustain your lifestyle as you build? People talk in terms of five years, I like to think of investments in terms of three years. What capital do you need to get to to know what you’re doing is successful? Do you need outside investment to make it? What curveballs (pandemic? hurricane? economic downturn?) could derail your business and to what extent? We have a lot of examples of potential threats to businesses as of late, including inflation and supply chain challenges.

When developing the concept, what is the end goal. Even now, if you aren’t building with the end in mind, let’s dig into that.

How to Choose a Good Business Partner

I’ve been asked a number of times what I would have done differently in my business and one of them would have been to look at the business partnership in a different way. I dove in with a nice pair of thick rose-colored glasses. In hindsight, I coach partnerships through a series of sessions to address inter and intrapersonal issues that have come up in the past and what could come up in the future. We explore all sides of the business, leaving no stone not talked about or duty unassigned. From a partnership standpoint, that looks like changing your operating agreement a bit as the company grows, shifts, and changes direction. Having a neutral third party such as a business advisor, coach, or consultant can anchor the big picture for your business, especially if you’re in a fast-paced company.

Why Business Partnerships Fail

Partnerships fail largely due to power or lack of power. One partner can feel that the other partner is running everything or doing all the work, and their partner is feeling as though they aren’t pulling their weight.

I think there’s also a lack of visibility of successful women and family-owned partnerships available to us entrepreneurs as we build our partnerships. When I went searching on how to form a successful business partnership, many books or articles highlight only tech companies run by men. There are other verticals that thrive in partnership status including multi-generational businesses that don’t often show up on those searches, yet, are an integral part of economic growth and sustainability in America.

I hope you found some nuggets to take into your business. If you want to explore more about these topics and more, including a section on employee relationships and other key takeaways from my business journey thus far, you can find it on this interview with Keith Coniers on Real Talk Podcast episode 11.

How to Hire and Retain Employees in the Aftermath of The Great Resignation

Unless you’ve been living in a cave (and even hermits would have heard), you’re well aware of the hiring crisis besieging US companies, both large and small. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a big corporation, finding and securing dependable employees is hard when you have a good candidate pool to choose from; however, the past two years have been challenging because of the large number of people who have exited the workforce and aren’t planning to return.

When I had my bakery business in 2017 in the Seattle area, many employers had a hard time retaining employees, especially when the minimum hourly wage was raised to $15 an hour. While many small businesses ended up having to reduce their staff to keep their costs down, other companies were having a hard time retaining and keeping employees, even if they offered above minimum wage hourly rates for their employees.

I started brainstorming unconventional ways to hire and keep new employees to address this issue, as the cost of onboarding and hiring someone new is much more expensive than using your resources to keep your current employees. Especially in today’s market, retaining employees is at the forefront of every business. 

So when your employee isn’t happy, or they are looking for something different in their workday, are you ready to pivot and create an environment they want to keep working in? Are they excited to be a part of your team each day? If not, then read on to learn some new and effective ways that I used to retain employees for several years in my business, so you can apply them to your company to keep your workday filled with staff and team eager to be at your business!


Ask Your Employees to Refer their Friends

We all know that people typically hang around and associate with others with similar values. Utilizing this part of human nature, a great idea to find good employees is to ask your superstars to refer their friends to your company for employment. I call this technique Succeeding from the Inside Out.

There are common threads in the people you hired and those that are successful in your company. Help employees understand their unique contributions while also showing similarities. Employees that feel valued and heard make great ambassadors, and in turn recommend you as an employer to their friends and family.

This one is a kicker for some: acknowledge your employees won’t be with you forever. Rather than having this elephant in the room or people feeling terrible about leaving, celebrate the next phase in someone’s career and be a part of making the experience they have with you a positive lasting memory. People take jobs for the money and benefits but they stay because they are respected and have an opportunity to learn and grow. In my bakery days, I had staff that this was sometimes their first experience working. Through conversations, I found out a number of them struggled financially. I used to tell people, I can see if you are upset, stressed, or mad by what your cookies (or bread) look like. And, it was true! Once staff member wanted to ensure she got her own apartment by the time her baby turned one. To help her and her partner understand where their money was going and how they could save to make an apartment a reality, I hired a financial coach. Once she met with the financial planner, they were able to save enough money to get into that apartment in 3 months. Now, how much did that financial planner cost me? I can tell you a LOT less than having to retrain staff. Programs like this decreased our turnover and increased retention. A win-win on the bottom line.

Look for Employees Using Social Media

Finding potential employees through industry-specific networking sites such as GitHub, Crop, LinkedIn or Poached can be a great place to start. Once you’ve found someone’s profile that interests you, reach out to them via private messaging on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn, giving your invitation a personal touch.


Utilizing Events to Meet New Recruits

Creating and attending events that draw in your ideal employee is a great way to meet a potential job candidate – and they don’t have to know that you’re looking for a new recruit! Think about events like hackathons or business startup week. These events are an excellent way to find out more about someone in a more relaxed, informal setting. In addition, you can find out who they know and see their professional circle and network. 


Finding New Recruits in Fair Chance or Second Chance Employment

Finding your workforce locally is more economical than doing a national job search. Organizations such as Goodwill can be a great source of workers whose lives can be materially improved by joining your company. In addition, the Department of Corrections (DOC) has employment specialists who can be a good point of contact. Finally, be proactive in sourcing employees from disadvantaged communities, apprenticeship programs, and partnerships with disability non-profits in your local community.

Worksource is an organization business owners often skip as they see it as a resource for workers. But the local office is a great resource for finding candidates for a number of open positions. Worksource specializes in placement for dislocated workers such as mothers returning to the workforce, veterans, disabled, formerly incarcerated, or unsheltered folks. Besides having access to a lot of workers, they provide support for both the individual and the business to ensure the employer match is a win-win. 


Tips for Attracting Employees

Sourcing great talent begins with a well-written job description. I encourage business owners to use my marketing conversion formula to create a job description that will help attract the employees they want. Make sure to utilize these prompts when writing the content for your employment application:

  • Interrupt: a headline that appeals to your ideal candidate.
  • Engage: a subheadline that provides insight on why this is the best place for them to work.
  • Educate: provide additional information on growth opportunities and what success looks like in the position you’re hiring for.
  • Offer: provide a compelling low-risk informational offer. A way for the candidate to raise their hand that they are interested but without the pressure of a 1st interview. This could be an informational interview or an invitation to sit in on a department meeting or company virtual event. 

Interview Tips 

Pick three key questions and remember that although you may get tired of asking the same questions, this gives you the ability to compare apples to apples, in terms of the responses you receive.

Assessing personality or potential can be as important as judging an employee’s suitability in terms of experience or qualifications. In your employee search, you’ll want to identify the potential within an individual to problem solve at the moment, if they collaborate well, and how they jump in when there’s an urgent task.

The Crystal Knows personality test can also be helpful in ensuring communication is smooth throughout the interview process. Knowing an individual’s personality type can give the interviewee insights on how best to ask questions and how to create an atmosphere that allows for a candidate’s personality to shine. 


The Importance of Retaining Your Team

Retention is vital nowadays, with your competitors looking to poach your workforce. Make sure to hold “stay interviews” with your team. Your stay interviews are a process in which you ask your employees questions and make sure your best employees are satisfied and engaged at your company so that they don’t jump ship unexpectedly.

An important part of understanding how to care for a team member is creating a culture of individuality and letting them shine at what they are really good at. When people work in their talents every day they are more productive and less likely to leave. To aid in this, I use Clifton Strengths. In the assessment, there’s a 1 in 22.5M chance someone has the same strengths as you in the same order. Knowing this information is powerful for managers to increase the performance of a team and team members. 

As stated earlier, the likelihood of workers staying at a company for 8-20+ years is less likely now than ever before. So, celebrate growth in your team and encourage them along on their next endevor. You’ll be glad you did when they become customers themselves or ambassadors out in the world.

Hive | Eight Soft Skills for Leaders to Cultivate in a Company

When you want to grow and scale your business, one of the key factors to making sure your growth goes off without too many hitches is to have a team with the right soft skills. Because job skills can be taught, those skills, although a necessity, can be learned by the person you hire for your team. Soft skills such as working with a team, organization, and the ability to grow your emotional intelligence, are all workplace skills that are innate to a person and are much harder to instill. Therefore, you’ll need to find team members who already come with the soft skills your company needs to grow.

But which soft skills should you look for when vetting and hiring new team members? Take note of these specific soft skills to determine which ones matter the most to your company if you’re looking to fast-track growth and significant results for your business.


Emotional Intelligence for Relationship Building on Your Team

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, be empathetic with, and manage emotions for yourself and to be conscious of the emotional welfare of the people on your team. A key relationship-building skill in the workplace, having emotional intelligence is essential for your team members if you’re looking for rapid company growth.

Emotional intelligence, or EQ, can help your team stay mindful of rising anxiety levels during growth phases. This is vital for being aware of when to address elevated stress levels to keep morale, engagement, and productivity at an optimal balance. In addition, being mindful of your team’s morale is essential to retaining staff, especially when you’re on the path to company growth. 

Using your own EQ can also help you regulate your own emotions. As a leader, you need to understand when and how to keep your emotions in check. In addition, you’ll need to know when to leave your home stress at home and when and how to check your emotions at the door, so you can be there for your team.


Seeking Innovation and Growth Opportunities for Your Company 

Opportunity and innovation are at the forefront when looking to advance your company quickly. So keep an eye out for this crucial management skill for rapid growth. You’ll want your new team member to have the ability to notice gaps and use them to give your company an advantage, says Raven Waterman. “Leaders who can innovate by taking existing solutions and creating new or improved ones position their teams to proactively address their target market’s needs,” she says.

You’ll want to look into allocating and scheduling time to reflect and think critically about your team’s tasks and if the tasks they are doing will ultimately put your business on the path to hitting your yearly goals. “When leaders spot gaps, they can identify potential opportunities within their industry. However, they should avoid chasing every new idea and instead hone in on specific ones aligned with the team’s core values and mission.”


Cultivating Trust within Your Team

All leaders should be aware that their reports are looking for respect and an opportunity to learn and grow. When you cultivate trust with team members, they’ll give you their best work. So, when your team is at its best, you can do your job as CEO and focus on the bigger picture.

If team members are hired into a rapid growth company, they most likely have entrepreneurial skills and thrive on being a part of something bigger than themselves. Therefore, trusting the people you hire and fostering an environment where celebrating trying new things and ‘failing fast’ is essential to your team moving forward with considerable momentum. On the other hand, suppose trust isn’t a key component of your team. In that case, you’ll see a significant amount of time and resources wasted on meetings, micromanaging, checking up on tasks, and other “busy work” that leads to wasted time, money, and energy.


Tap into the Individual’s Strengths on Your Team

The most efficient teams know each other’s strengths and how to leverage them to accomplish team objectives quicker. To know and understand which strengths your team members have, the best place to start is to utilize CliftonStrengths, an hour-long assessment that helps you understand and make the most of your strengths in the workplace.

So get to know each of your team members and understand their unique strengths. Next, think of ways to combine each individual’s strengths in your team into collective wins. Finally, you can delegate the projects to the individual or group of people best suited for the task.


The Key Management Skill of Effective Delegation 

Speaking of which, effective delegation is a crucial management skill for scaling your business. And while wearing many hats is commonplace for a small business owner to sit, keeping that position in your company will not lead to the growth of your business – only to burnout. Growth means more work that needs to be accomplished on time, and managers need to have their mental energy in check. As a company CEO, you can focus on guiding your company’s growth and evaluating your progress to see how close you are to reaching your business goals. Understanding and implementing which tasks to assign to specific team members so they are accomplished correctly and in a timely manner allows you to be focused on the big picture rather than wasting time taking care of other tasks in your business that can easily be delegated to another team member.


The Ability to Create SMART Goals for Your Business

Smart goal-setting goes hand in hand with delegation. And as one of the most critical soft skills for leaders, using those SMART goals gives you a path to success. Once you have your SMART goals in place (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-Bound), you can break down your big goal into smaller, more tangible steps that team members can work toward. Looking at the smaller steps that will lead to the outcome you want to achieve in a timely manner is crucial for scaling operations.”


Why Strong Communication Skills are Essential for Your Team

Add strong communication skills to your list of essential team-management skills because you’ll need them to navigate fast-paced growth. When you can communicate changes to your team, your team will work with less stress and anxiety. The result will allow development without damaging the company culture and the mental health of your employees.

Leaders need to understand their team’s readiness and ability to navigate change. If a leader sees growth and change as a positive aspect of the company, the team will follow suit. For your team to share your vision as a leader, you’ll want to share your vision and anticipate and respond to your team’s concerns as a continued, regular part of the growth process of your company.

In addition, you’ll want to have clearly defined expectations and communicate those expectations to your team. In a high-growth environment, it’s vital for leaders to clearly define where their job ends and the team picks up.

There’s a tendency to act quickly and step on toes in an early-stage, high-growth company. Instead, make sure to formulate and have detailed, clear roles and responsibilities and clear communication, which are all key elements for efficient and productive growth in your company.


Listening to the Concerns of Your Team

When you want someone to know how much you care, let them know you care about them! Listening to your team’s concerns, even if you can’t remedy them right away, is one of the most effective soft skills a leader can consistently implement in the work environment. 

Because listening skills are an underrated aspect of effective communication, you’ll want to make these a priority on your list and be aware of how much you’re listening to your team. Having good listening skills is vital if you want to drive rapid growth because you can find valuable information that can change your growth trajectory by being a good listener. Innovation and crucial information come from the front lines of your team, and listening to them is the best way to find out what needs to be done to move your team forward.

Give people the time and space to give feedback on how their jobs are done. Allow the freedom to experiment with different ways of implementing tasks, even if these new activities or processes take more time. Because the next thing you know, you’ll have an aha moment that leads to a game-changing innovation for your team. You could also solve a problem that was holding your growth back for your company!

McMinnville Business Mastery Lunch & Learn


What if you could follow a proven and time-tested roadmap that provides you the EXACT steps to more cash flow and freedom?

At my Business Mastery Lunch & Learn events, join area business owners as we tackle the business challenges of the day. In each session, walk away with no-cost strategies that can be implemented immediately.

Lunch and beverages are provided but registration is required.

To register for an upcoming event, click on the date you want to attend:

January 25 – Topic: Finding & Keeping Employees

(POSTPONED) February 8 – Topic: Position Your Business for a Bank Loan

February 22 – Topic: Exit Your Way – Grow with the Exit In Mind

March 8 – Topic: Pricing Workshop (details coming soon)

March 22 – Topic: No Cost Conversions & Sales Strategies (details coming soon)

Past events included Non-traditional Ways to Find & Keep Superstar Employees, No-cost Lead Generation Strategies, Increase Conversions and Sales With Small Tweaks, and more!

What these events aren’t:

NOT a disguised sales pitch

NOT a boring presentation about buying ads that don’t result in new customers anyways

NOT a place for me to listen to my own voice for a whole 90-minutes 🙂


What you will get is:

REAL strategies that you can implement yourself

INSPIRATION that can only come from being in a room with like-minded business owners doing the same work at the same time

The PEACE OF MIND knowing that you’re focusing on the business activities that really make a difference so you can work smarter rather than harder.

Equitable decision-making

Becoming intimate with your personal values and business ethics can guide you in times of crisis; those times when you don’t know where else to turn.

I realized that inclusion was a defining value of mine after completing a series of leadership workshops years ago. During a problem-solving exercise, taking in the moment, I scanned the room. We’ve all been in a situation just like this — there’s “that group” of 3-4 loud individuals debating what to do, opinions and ideas are coming from everywhere. It can be chaotic, especially for team members that don’t tend to speak up.

My sights landed on a person at the other end of the room, her body language suggested that she was slightly disengaged. I noticed a sigh and eye roll. “I bet she knows the answer,” I thought to myself. I quietly snuck over to get her read on the situation. After warming up, she offered the answer in a nonchalant manner. In my head, I exclaimed, “I knew it! She did know the answer!” I gently encouraged her to find the courage to speak up. If she didn’t interject at a workshop like this, when would she?…

As managers in organizations, how does this resonate with you?

How would the inclusion of voices that might not easily be heard shift the trajectory of your organization?

What I do know is this: “we don’t know what we don’t know until we know what we didn’t know.” Including employees at all levels of the organization will uncover hidden profitability gems. Now — more than ever — your business could depend on it for survival.

Here are some lessons I learned that day:

  • As the owner of my business, I need to watch and listen. Louder individuals have the confidence to speak up but there is genius behind those that are quiet.
  • Examine your process: how do we make decision-making inclusive in our organization? Are voices from all areas of the organization being considered and if so, do people feel comfortable sharing opinions? How can I engage with those who may be resistant to expressing themselves?
  • Marginalized voices are less likely to share opinions due to a number of things like peer pushback or judgment, stereotypes, and systemic racism that I may not even see or know about.
  • Having diverse voices at the table is step one; but are those voices cultivated, encouraged, and amplified in my workplace?

I hear this all the time, “But Amanda, at my business we have to make decisions quickly. I don’t have time for this.”

I’m not going to say there’s a quick way to build inclusion into how you do business. Especially if people have been burned in the past. But, there are ways to start, and putting in that effort will pay off over time.

Here are some ways to start integrating inclusion into your company processes:

  • Random anonymous surveys and send out frequently. From the results, there is transparency of findings, swift actions are taken, and excitement and accountability at all levels for improving the workplace dynamics.

  • Know your team and celebrate uniqueness. Know what makes each team member tick and encourage them to contribute in a way that is comfortable for them. For example, some people need brainstorming sessions to ideate while others need quiet time.

  • Explore bringing in a common language. I used CliftonStrengths in my business. It was a way for our team to know where each other’s talents were and how to ask for help. As a manager, it helped me identify pockets of talent and where (and how) to bridge any gaps.

Having used CliftonStrengths in my food business for years, I know from experience that it is a powerful communication tool to improve workplace culture. I wrote about this experience in this previous post >>

I’m now a certified CliftonStrengths coach who can implement this in your organization. Let’s dig in!

Hiring – shift from filling a job to growing with a person

Like many, my first jobs were in the restaurant industry. Over time, I went from fast food worker to hostess, then to server and bartender. I rarely held a job longer than one year until I was 23 years old. 

This being my background — at my core — I know why employee development is not a top priority for owners or managers in high-turnover, entry-level jobs.

In 2012, when I launched my bakery  I was determined to have a food business that centered around people’s growth. I knew my employees wouldn’t be with me forever, but while they were, I wanted them to feel valued and heard, to have a sense of purpose. My bakery was just one step in their life-long adventure. I sincerely wanted my employees to grow up and out of my business and into higher-paying jobs.

My rationale was that if I created an ecosystem that values people, they would help my business both in the short and long term. Let me provide a few examples of how:

  • valued employees give better customer service thus they affect your conversion rate and number of transactions
  • positive morale increases productivity
  • turnover negatively affects your profitability
  • post-employment you have a loyal customer
  • post-employment you have a trusted referral source

At the base of growing this people-forward work environment was CliftonStrengths (previously StrengthsFinder). A friend of mine introduced me to CliftonStrengths and since then, I’ve spent more time working on what I love and more time hiring people to work in areas I don’t love. 

I grew my team from one employee to 15 and the fundamental reason why I implemented this in my business was to have a common language for us all.  Here’s a sample of what I gained from implementing CliftonStrengths in a bakery setting:

  • A common language to talk about strengths/blind spots (weaknesses).
  • A deep understanding of my own talents and how to leverage the talents of my team to minimize my blind spots.
  • A focus on coaching the employee on how their talents fit into their job and how to leverage the talents of the team to support their blind spots.
  • Knowing how to thoughtfully reward an individual for their work.
  • Developing a growth-focused relationship with employees.
  • Lower turnover rate even in a high-turnover industry.

And believe it or not, there’s much more!

From there, we can create a process around employee onboarding and check-ins that support employee development professionally and personally. All these systems save you money, increase your business’s capacity for growth, and will set-up your company as the desired place to work in your industry.

This all starts with you. Let’s dig in!