Devote Yourself to creating something that gives you purpose . . .

"So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half-asleep, even when they're busy doing things they think are important. This is because they're chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning."

Tuesdays with Morrie, author Mitch Albom

Friday, August 28, 2009

Setting Goals

I received a valuable post through email the other day by a gal in our network that reminded me of the importance of setting goals. In her email she indicated that she had set a goal to give 100 facials in 100 days. I decided that because she was so motivated to write down her goals and share them with others that I would ask for a facial. I was in need of replacing my foundation and blush and thought why not support a local women's business which is one of my favorite pastimes lately.

When she arrived, we started to talk about goals as I had been following her on facebook and realized that the 100 facials was only one of her many goals. I found this to be very inspiring.

I am a list maker, each week I write down what I hope to accomplish during the week such as . . .

 1.  Update Quickbooks,
 2.  Reconcile our Bank Accounts,
 3.  Setup Appointment with . . .,
 4.  Follow-up with . . .

What I realized after spending time with Yvonne, is that she is a motivated individual that looks beyond the short-term. She has established goals in several areas of her life. With her permission I will share a few with you.

Goals by the End of August . . .
1. 30 faces by August 31 . . 20 to go . . .100 by October 31, 2009
2. Share my business opportunity with women
3. Add 5 new team members . . have 3 new this month so far
4. Bike 25 miles in 1.5 hours, have made 20 miles in 1.5 hours thus far
5. Eat healthy, love life, and share my spiritual awareness with others

She had laid out the same type of goals for September (but looking for greater accomplishments), and she has also laid out her Long Term goals.

Yvonne, thank you for the facial, but also thank you for the inspiration. It is women like you who have an a positive impact on the world around you.  At the bottom of her email messages she also share words of inspiration.

To quote only one . . .

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams"
 (Eleanor Roosevelt)

Yvonne Viera is a Mary Kay consultant with hopes to regain her directorship within the Mary Kay consulting business. Even in her signature she indicates a goal which is National Sales Director by 2014. I believe she will make it well in advance of that date. She can be reached at I hope that you will help her reach her goals of 100 faces in 100 days.

Yvonne will be joining me on the Board of Directors for 3 Degrees-Connected™ so you will be hearing more from her.

If you have been busy setting goals, please leave comments to share some of your goals with others. I believe that women supporting women means learning more about one another. By sharing your goals, you might just make the needed connection to accomplish them.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Need Accounting Assistance?

In case you aren't a subscriber to information provided by the Michigan Small Business Development Center (MISBTDC), you may miss opportunities like the one shown below.

QuickBooks: Quick Answers• September 2009

QuickBooks: Quick Answers
One-on-one time with a CPA for existing business owners.

You are invited to meet one-on-one with a Certified Public Accountant to discuss problems and questions relating to your QuickBooks or Peachtree accounting system.

* Do you have questions or problems regarding QuickBooks or Peachtree?
* Are your financial reports providing you with the information you need to make business decisions?
* Would you like some personalized help with organizing and maximizing the efficiency of your accounting system?

Registration is required and will close at 5 PM on Friday, September 18. Appointments are filling fast!

After registering, you will be contacted by the Small Business & Technology Development Center to review details and set up a specific appointment time.

Meetings will run on Tuesday September 29, 2009
from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM.

Your meeting is at no cost and will run for 45 minutes.

Please register online here.

The event will be held at: GVSU DeVos Building CSecond Floor, Room 286C.

Contact us by phone:(616) 331 7370

Please respond no later thanSeptember 18.

MI-SBTDC 401 West Fulton St - 286C Grand Rapids MI 49504

Saturday, August 22, 2009

What Once Was Good . . . Is Good Again

What once was good is good again. That is the revolving nature of micro-lending through KIVA. As micro-loans are repaid by those who funds were lent, money returns to the account giving the lender three options:

  1. Create a new lending opportunity,
  2. give a Gift Certificate to other lenders (encourages others to participate),
  3. redraw your funds
If you've never participating in this type of lending, you don't know what a great feeling it leaves you as you select either option 1 or option 2.

Today it was possible to contribute toward three women's groups or women-owned businesses in the amount of $75.00. You are given the option to contribute an additional percentage to KIVA, the organization to help them continue their mission. Although not required, this morning we contributed 15% to help this organization continue its service to others. So with $86.71 to lend we were left with 46 cents in our account to begin rebuilding our balance for future lending.

Here are the three women's groups/businesses that benefited from our small contribution:

Flor De Naranjo Group
Nyame Ye Odo Group
Sekinatu Solesi

Click on the link to each group or woman above to learn the details of their micro-lending needs, their repayment terms, and a bit about their businesses.

To add to our teams total support visit;

Thus far we have contributed to 16 loans, but we can do more. Please join me in this small effort to change the world for women one woman at a time.

Once you educate the boys, they tend to leave the villages and go search for work in the cities, but the girls stay home, become leaders in the community, and pass on what they’ve learned. If you really want to change a culture, to empower women, improve basic hygiene and health care, and fight high rates of infant mortality, the answer is to educate girls.

Greg Mortensen, Three Cups of Tea

Best wishes,
Rhonda Geneva

Idea Translation Workshop

If you've had an invention idea looming in your head and you want to see what your thinking may make a great business venture or product offering, the following seminar may be for you. Innovation Works of West Michigan is holding an Idea Translation Workshop on September 24, 2009. The cost and details about this seminar are can be accessed by linking on the following link: IDEA TRANSLATION WORKSHOP.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Lakeshore Advantage E2 Series

Lakeshore Advantage and the Holland Young Professionals are getting ready to announce the Lakeshore e2e Series speaker for September. Stay connected with the Lakeshore e2e Series and it’s fans at our new facebook page. We will be posting upcoming speakers and photos, blogs and podcasts of our speakers throughout the series. It is also a great way to network with the other Lakeshore e2e fans.

or just search for Lakeshore e2e Series on facebook

Hope to see you there!

Amanda Chocko
Director of Entrepreneurial Development

Women and Minority Business Directory - Deadline August 28, 2009

The West Michigan Chamber Coalition (Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Holland, and Muskegon Chamber of Commerce) is collecting data for the upcoming 2009 Minority and Woman-Owned West Michigan Regional Business Directory. If your business is minority and/or woman-owned, please fill out our brief survey to ensure your organization is represented in this directory. Note that there is no fee for listing your business in the directory. Please respond by August 28th. Survey Link

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

SKU, UPC, GTIN, UCC and GS1 US - Nothing but Acronyms?

Like everything else in business, small business owners have many opportunities to learn. Today was one of those days.   Based on where my business is heading I have arrived at the time when I needed to investigate getting product identification codes. This allows me to break into the major retail markets and advance my business from an independent retailer to one that can leverage their sales by association with national retail stores. Exciting, yes, scary of course! Here's what I learned. Initially I thought I needed SKU's or stock-keeping units. Each product revision whether it is fabric covering, color, or size constitutes the need for a unique code. After searching Google, I quickly learned that I didn't need SKU’s; I needed UPC or Uniform Product Codes which are made up of twelve digits which are called GTIN or Global Trade Item Numbers.

The first 9 digits of this code, for the first 100 codes will contain the same number which is assigned through a membership certificate issued by the UCC (Uniform Code Council) or GS1 US as they are called today. You must first fill out an application and pay the associated fees to acquire your UPC numbers. This generally takes 1 business day, and the membership kit can be expedited if you are in a hurry. Fees are based on your annual gross revenue (sales) figures as well as the number of individual SKU’s that you require. The SKU is actually the tenth and eleventh digit of the total GTIN identification. Regardless of whether you need 1 or 100, the fees are the same, but once you’ve crossed the 100 code requirement fees will increase because you will be assigned a new nine digit identifier.

There is only one website where you can acquire a membership certificate that assigns your unique number and that is Once your fees are calculated you will see how much your initial cost will be. You will also be informed of your annual renewal fee. It will be significantly less than your initial fee, unless your requirements change.

If you are in need of UPC codes, the application process is easy, but plan ahead, the minimum fee you can expect to pay is $760. Use this quoted cost with caution, like anything else fees increase so the only way to truly know your cost is to fill out an application. The resource information I read indicated $500. This was published in 2007.

The Best $88 I've Ever Spent

Today I went to my local post office to acquire a P.O. Box for my business. As my business begins to gain national exposure, I felt it was time to stop broadcasting my home-based business address.

I have been shipping more and more products from my home and had recently subscribed to and the new USPS system "Click and Ship". Since I was at the post office, I thought it would be a great time to have several questions answered about "Click and Ship", as well as, determine whether the new flat rate boxes would be a practical solution for my business needs.

I had several products on hand, so I brought them in with me. The postmaster was willing to work with me on shipping options using boxes, tyvex envelopes, and answer questions about using a heat-sealed poly-bag. By testing out several methods for shipping one unit verses several units, the postmaster came up with a solution that I would not have thought acceptable. Finding the right solution for shipping my products with free packaging supplies was a bargain. If you've not visited your local post office and asked specific questions related to your packing and shipping needs, you should.

While working with the postmaster, a line formed behind me and several people became actively interested in my products asking where they could acquire one or more. So not only did I solve my shipping quandary this morning, I also gained product exposure and set up some potential sales.

So there how the story goes, this is the best $88 I ever spent . . . thus far!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Coming Soon to a Screen Near You

Kim Lavine, (a.k.a. Mommy Millionaire) is not only launching a new book "Mommy Manifesto", but is also launching a new store called "Buy Mom". To learn more about this exciting opportunity click on the attached link to learn more about this online venture beginning September 1, 2009.

While on this site take a look at the product gallery. I would be remise if I didn't mention my product, The Style 'n Wrap™, an organizer for hot hairstyling tools, a revolutionary new idea designed by a woman for women who style their hair.

What I did this summer . . .

Here how I spent this summer . . .

This past weekend, I spent several hours in the car, so thankfully I had something good to read. It is not often the case as a Mommy that I find a quiet space during the day to read, so I took full advantage of this opportunity. This reading adventure was “Building Your Brand” with the lead in paragraph reading:

“Branding is more than just a business buzzword. It has become the crux of selling in the new economy. If the old marketing mantra was “Nothing happens until somebody sells something.” The new philosophy could be “Nothing happens until somebody brands something.” (Virtual Advisor, Inc.)

That caught my eye, so I continued to read and learn. Although this article was excellent, I am not writing about the article, but about my overall learning experience as a new business owner.

Each facet of growing a business can be facilitated by hiring a good expert to help you accomplish business goals outside your area of expertise. But in this tough economy, it may not seem to be the most cost-effective approach to building your business. Learning as much as you can about the work you plan to hire out is a smart approach to take. Often you’ve heard people say “You don’t know what you don’t know”, so before hiring services, do enough research to help you learn a little more about what you don’t know to make the most informed decision you can. When hiring a professional, look for someone who is willing to teach you a little something along the way, without adding it to your invoice. I’ve hired my share of professionals, and many times have been pleased with the outcome of their work. “temporarily”. In hindsight and after research I realize what I should have . . ., could have . . ., and wanted to . . . accomplish was something a little or a lot different.

Having a clear vision of what you wish to accomplish is absolutely necessary unless you want to pay for services multiple times. By doing research, I often have learned a valuable lesson. One thing I know for sure is “the expert” isn’t someone you should leave a partially defined vision to and hope that their creativity amazes you. Many times those we think are experts do not have the skills to “pull” your vision from you. They may be great at what they do, but don’t expect everyone to be a “project manager.”

A good expert is one who keeps up with the latest information in their field; a good expert will ask you lots of questions during your initial interview. A good expert will decide whether your vision is clear and if not, they will set up another meeting with you once you have more clearly defined your goals. A good expert is one who communicates with you often throughout the project. It may not seem cost-effective for “the expert” to meet with you several times, and it may be more enjoyable for them to unleash their creative talents without a lot of guidance or requirements; however, if they want to succeed, knowing your clear vision is essential. They will reap the greatest reward when they take this approach because a good outcome means more business for them. Word of mouth advertising has been proven to be the most cost-effective way to growing a business.

Now enough about them; what about you? If you want a permanent solution, you must define your needs well. When seeking “an expert” look for someone who is skilled at seeing the whole picture and defining what they need in order to create the best solution for you. You want someone who can execute “your plan” in the time-frame you need it. Never forget to define the deadline.

Another lesson that I’ve learned is finding an “expert” who understands your products or services, and exhibits some knowledge about your target market. Without this, you may be amazed and how easy it is to spend money and not reap the benefit. Geneva Girls Designs products are designed for women, and currently our niche is women who style their hair with hot styling tools. When marketing to women, gender matters. There are several good books on this topic, I know, I’ve now read them! Branding is more than slapping a logo in the upper left hand corner of the screen and putting a “buy now” button on the front page, hire someone who understands your products or services.

As a consultant and project manager for a software company, I had responsibility for installing information solutions for large multi-division automotive suppliers throughout the world. During the early stages of any project, I spent days and even weeks defining the needs of the organization. With a team of “experts”, we would interview staff from every aspect of the business: finance, inventory control, purchasing, marketing, production, engineering, shipping, warehousing, and information technology. After determining how the client ran their operation, we would ask the questions, “If you could change anything about what you are currently doing what would that be” and we would continue to take notes.

After our formal review we would begin defining the project noting current practices, their wish list, and begin clarifying the solutions. We would organize a schedule of training, consulting, and implementation steps. Often it was necessary to coordinate the activities of several plants simultaneously, so that the end result would mean that the information solution provided consolidated data which allowed their corporate headquarters to understand and compare how each plant was doing on a routine basis. Issuing a project planning report allowed us to see if we had a clear vision of the clients needs. It was the device we used to make sure we were aiming toward the same goal before we laid out the project timeline. Once the client reviewed, revised, and approved the planning document we could move forward on meeting our project objectives by the defined deadline.

I took this approach at least 300 times in the six years period and found it to be a very rewarding exercise. I remember sitting in many project kickoff meetings and talking about the approach “ready, aim, fire” showing the illustration of getting ready to embark on the project (interviewing and taking notes), aiming (defining goals), and firing (shooting with precision for the target). Without that approach we would never be sure that we would land on the same target, let alone achieve a “bulls-eye”. As a small business owner, it is so easy to take the approach “fire, fire, fire” and then ask the question “where in the heck is my target?”

If you find yourself looking for an expert to complete a vital step in the building of your business, expect them to have a well developed plan to take you to your goals. They cannot achieve your goals unless they are clearly defined. And always set a “no-excuse” deadline.

3 Degrees-Connected™ is a network of women helping (empowering) women in business with the hopes of providing insight to help you land on your target. By talking with other women business owners, you may be able to avoid many pitfalls that others have experienced before you. Conversation is free, networking is fun, and getting steered in the right direction is priceless.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Stocked Kitchen

Check out the feature article by Rapid Growth Media, online business magazine. The feature story is about two of our own, Stacey Krastins and Sarah Kallio. Formerly the Stocked Host, they have changed their name to the Stocked Kitchen. Recent release of their second cookbook has been positively received. Congratulations.

If you have any news to share, please send comments and we would like to include you.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Vacations Over getting Back to Work

Summer is a great time of year, but often a time that is difficult to stay motivated in terms of our business growth. We all need vacations and time to relax and spend time with friends and family. Especially with the short season of sunshine here in Michigan, we all need that extra dose of vitamin D.

Taking extra time to enjoy the weather brings its own level of stress though as we may see our hard work begin to crumble as business orders dwindle or hits on our websites begin to fade.

Don't get discouraged . . . it is just like working out at the gym. When we work our muscles on a regular basis they function better, working our business muscle works the same way. A recent article by Ladies Who Launch talks specifically about building our Launch Muscle. I've included a link to this article hoping that it will encourage us to keep working toward your goals.