KWIB Highlights Michelle from Belanger Communications in Kelowna
Through graphic design, bookkeeping and Microsoft Office consulting, Michelle Belanger helps small businesses succeed. Good business practices are important and it’s more than just knowing an industry. With over 20 years working in all facets of advertising and running a business, Michelle’s skills are rooted in years of training and experience. Kelowna Woman In Business is excited to share some of the success secrets that have worked for her along the way.
What 3 pieces of advice would you give to an entrepreneur starting out?
Don’t fear failure. It’s a common one, but you need persistence and acceptance to know that setbacks will happen; so keep going. Life is unpredictable so you have to be ready for the obstacles and down times. The old saying about ‘dust yourself off and get back up when you’re down’ is still relevant and probably always will be.
You don’t have to wait until everything is in place or perfect. Just putting one foot in front of the other and taking small steps forward everyday can get the momentum rolling. There’s a good chance you’ll realize some of the things you thought needed to be perfect, won’t be needed at all.
Be open to opportunities and what life may present you, but then do what works and feels right for you. Every person and every business is a little different. Not everyone has a goal of being a Fortune 500 company. You need be to open enough to accept all the paths in front of you, but then follow the one that suits you and your life. You know you best.
What motivates you when you are feeling “creatively challenged?”
I work in a creative industry, so this can happen often. There is never any time (or other staff!) to let myself get intimidated by a project. I have several ways I handle creative blocks.
Sometimes, I just need to walk away from my computer for a while and come back with a fresh set of eyes. Apparently, you can ask your subconscious to work on a problem while you sleep. I’m not sure if I really get a clear answer, but it helps rejuvenate me!
Other times, I just need to distract myself and let thoughts and ideas flow. For this, I’ll sketch, colour or do something mindless with my hands. It frees my brain from over thinking on a specific project.
Some days, I just dive in. Taking that first little step can lead to many and next thing I know, I’m running full steam ahead. I’ll start putting something together for a project just to get some elements on ‘paper’. I may not have a fully developed initial concept, but often once I’ve started with some basics of what I already know or have, the pieces start to fall into place.
What is one of your trade secrets that everyone should know for branding their business?
For my business, longevity and consistency has been key to my brand. When you’re a “solopreneur”, people want to know they can count on hearing back from you. I feel there’s nothing worse than leaving a client questioning whether you received their request and are working on it.
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
I see my business similar to where it is today. I’m always adding new skills and evolving, but also keep my core the same. I’ve worked hard to build a business that makes enough to pay the bills, but gives me the time and freedom to enjoy it. It’ll be a balance I see myself working on for as long as I can.
Success Attributes: What do you attribute your success to?
I think time management is key. My office and computer files are very organized. I try to waste as little time as possible looking for things. I don’t let emails, surfing the web or social media distract me from my priorities. So much time can easily slip away.
I don’t have other people to help me when I’m juggling five projects in one day, so I need to be very efficient. I’m a list person, so every time something actionable comes in, I write it in my notebook. I can see my priorities at a glance and make sure I don’t miss a thing.
I keep consistent hours and habits so people know where and when to find me.My business is just me, so being available when I’m needed and making all my clients feel like they’re my most important has helped with my success. I have a handful of clients I’ve worked with for over a decade and I always try to exceed their expectations.