Articles Tagged with: women business owners

Customer Experience in the New Reality

We’re now living in a so-called “new normal” for more than a year because of the Covid-19 global pandemic. Each one of us experiences this new normal in different ways.

As business owners, we have to adapt how we serve our customers depending on how they live through their new normal. We are now called to shift from simply providing customer service to creating customer experience.

In this article, we answer three main questions:

  1. What is customer experience?
  2. How does a profound customer experience look like?
  3. How can small businesses offer an innovative and exceptional new-normal customer experience?

What is customer experience?

Customer experience is not the same as customer service or customer care.

Customer service is the advice or assistance a company gives its clients. On the other hand, customer care relates to how well clients are taken care of when interacting with the brand, whether through social media or other channels.

It’s important to note that individuals may not even be customers during the brand interaction.

What about customer experience? Customer experience involves every interaction between the customer and the brand at every point of contact or touchpoint.

Brands have many different touchpoints with individuals, and these cover the entire customer journey. This journey begins when someone makes their first inquiry. Moreover, it extends even after they use the product or service.

Consciously or not, customers evaluate each touchpoint with the brand. It’s how they decide whether they will continue doing business with the brand or not. This underscores the importance of customer service.

If a person has a profound customer experience with your brand, they may decide to continue doing business with you. Therefore, our ultimate goal is to create a profound customer experience for each of our clients and prospects.

Why is customer experience important?

Here’s a quote by Maya Angelou:

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

Why is this quote relevant to our discussion of customer experience?

You see, we can’t just tell people what our brand is and expect them to believe that. That’s not how it works.

Instead, how you make your customers feel is what makes the strongest impact.

Why?

People’s memories of an experience often involve emotions—how they felt at moments in time. The customer experience involves how you make your clients feel. And that’s what they will walk away with.

What you’re doing at every single touchpoint with your client is you’re creating a mini-customer experience. These mini-experiences add up. And then, all together, all of those different experiences that involve deep emotion create brand loyalty.

What are the dimensions of a customer experience?

According to Gentile, Spiller, and Noci (2007), there are six dimensions of the customer experience.

1. Sensorial dimension

The sensorial dimension addresses sight, hearing, touch, taste, and smell to arouse aesthetic pleasure, excitement, satisfaction, and a sense of beauty.

One example is that some handbag brands add a specific scent to their products. So, when they deliver any gift to their customers, the gift comes infused with their branded scent. The customer then subconsciously comes to associate the fragrance with the brand.

2. Emotional dimension

The emotional dimension generates moods, feelings, and emotions that hopefully positively influence the customer’s image and attitude toward the brand or company.

You generate this emotion. When you create a touchpoint with your customer, how do you want them to feel afterward? Do you want them to feel relieved? Enlightened? Entertained?

You’ll want to consider this question before deciding what kind of customer experience you’re creating.

3. Cognitive dimension

The cognitive dimension relates to experiences requiring thinking. It engages a customer’s creativity.

It is similar to the emotional dimension. The emotional one activates the heart, while the cognitive one stimulates the brain.

When you interact with your clients, are you activating their minds? Are they thinking, being creative, and running through their head the different scenarios and memories they have relating to this experience?

4. Pragmatic dimension

The pragmatic dimension comes from the practical art of doing something or using a product. It is the art of doing, and it involves action steps. It’s the physical part of doing something while using the product.

Any kind of unboxing belongs to the pragmatic dimension. Let’s look at unboxing an Apple product as an example.

When you open an Apple product, everything lines up just so. When you pull the box apart, you’ll see that there’s just enough space. This creates the feeling that they had taken care of every single step along the way when they made their product.

5. Lifestyle dimension

The lifestyle dimension affirms the beliefs and values shared between the brand and the customer.

When you create a brand, what happens is you’re making a set of shared beliefs and values for your brand and the customer.

For example, Apple’s “Think Different” slogan, part of Steve Jobs’ early marketing campaigns, means they want you to think beyond the ordinary. It implies that people who use Apple are out-of-the-box thinkers. They’re extraordinary; they’re “rebels.”

Disney is another example. The House of Mouse is a brand that relates to the family—its shared belief is the importance of taking care of and spending quality time with your family.

The lifestyle dimension is about confirming the values a brand shares with its customers. It’s about making people raise their hands and say, “That’s me. I identify with that.”

So, when you create customer experience, you’ll want to think about what beliefs and core values are going into your brand. Your implied values will make people who believe the same things come to you.

6. Relational dimension

The relational dimension encourages experiencing the product or service together with other people.

This is how we observe, live through, anticipate, and participate in a customer experience in a community. Some products and services are meant to be used independently and alone. And then, there are others where this relational dimension becomes extremely important.

For example, let’s say you’re going to a Disney park. The experience will vary depending on who you’re with, but you probably wouldn’t go for it on your own. People go there with their families or friends. This means the relational dimension will be crucial here.

What is a profound customer experience, then?

We mentioned earlier that our ultimate goal is to create a profound customer experience for our clients and prospects. But what exactly is a profound customer experience?

Any experience that involves ALL SIX DIMENSIONS is considered a profound experience. So, a profound customer experience engages all of the emotions and senses.

It brings you to the point of creativity, firing up your imagination. And it’s pragmatic—you’re immersed in it, you can feel and touch it, and you can use it.

It has a lifestyle component, where you feel its impact on your core values. You believe in it. And it’s relational, one that you experience in your community.

How does a profound customer experience look like?

Disney provides what is considered a great example of a profound customer experience.

The Disney guest experience

Disney is in the business of creating magic for guests to experience and remember. Walt Disney’s vision is driven by a common purpose that every member of the Disney organization is taught:

“We create happiness by providing the finest in entertainment for all ages, everywhere.”

How do they do this? Disney attracts guests of all ages, from all walks of life, and from all countries. It’s a tourist attraction for the parks’ host countries: the United States, Japan, France, China, and Hong Kong. Seven out of 10 Disney guests are likely to return to the park a second time.

When you go to one of the Disney parks, here’s what people really love and experience:

  1. The parades and the castle fireworks shows
  2. The character meet-and-greet
  3. All the different characters at live shows in the park, like Lion King and Moana.
  4. The interactive themed attractions, such as creating your own lightsaber in Savi’s Workshop, the new attraction at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

Disney’s guest experience is a range of various experiences within one bigger experience. It definitely hits all of the different dimensions of a customer experience.

Moreover, Disney does it multiple times in different ways so that people can experience any part of it as much or as little as they want. This creates a deeper level of loyalty.

How does the new-normal Disney guest experience look like?

Disney closed down parks at the height of the pandemic, with some slowly reopening depending on the health crisis status in their respective countries.

As they couldn’t open in full capacity, they offered alternatives—they shifted from in-person, dynamic experiences in the park and took it all online.

#DisneyMagicMoments

Disney took advantage of their digital assets: their blogs and social media. They launched the #DisneyMagicMoments campaign and released virtual tours of the Disney parks. It was a brilliant way to be immersed and experience the parks in a digital environment.

This campaign also encouraged guests to share photos and videos they took during their Disney vacations. It got a lot of people sharing their memories. They got into reminiscing and sharing the last time they went on a Disney vacation. That way, people could still relate as a community and share their experiences.

#AdventuresatHome

Disney also launched #AdventuresatHome, a DIY at-home adventure pack that allows fans to experience Disney travel adventures at home. They produced six adventure packs featuring Montana, South Africa, the Rhone River, Iceland, Greece, and Alaska. They published those in the Disney parks blog.

Each adventure pack includes:

  1. The Disney shows to catch related to each area
  2. A recipe developed by Disney chefs that you could cook at home
  3. A simple board game with downloadable printables
  4. A high-resolution photo of beautiful scenery or landscape from the area

The Disney new-normal guest experience is genius. The company shifted quickly during the pandemic by offering something new that people could share with their families while in lockdown at home. People aren’t just reliving things they had already seen, and they weren’t just looking at their own photos from before.

The Disney online experiences are interactive and highly engaged. Moreover, they bring some relatable elements to the Disney brand. The recipe touches on different senses, and the board game touches on different dimensions. The core values are brought in—that Disney is a fun brand that you experience with your family. It has all six dimensions of the customer experience melded into one.

What about small businesses?

Obviously, Disney is a giant entity with a considerable capacity for delivering profound customer experiences. But what can small businesses offer as innovative and exceptional new-normal customer experiences?

First, as a small business owner, you should keep in mind:

  • What do your customers need and want from you?
  • What pain points can you solve? How can you delight?
  • How do you bring the customer experience to your clients safely and conveniently?

These are notable examples of how some Sacred Fire Creative small business clients shifted during the pandemic:

Asian Mint

Asian Mint is a restaurant business that serves Thai cuisine in Dallas, Texas. They were shut down right away by the pandemic, though eventually, they got to do takeout and delivery.

One of the most significant shifts they did to cope with the pandemic was offering ChefMint kits. People were at home, but they still wanted to spend quality time with their families in a restaurant setting.

The ChefMint kits made it easy to cook Thai food at home and replicate the experience of dining at Asian Mint. The ingredients were pre-packaged, the recipes were included and worded in an easy-to-follow language. The dishes can be cooked in 20 minutes or less. Anybody within the Dallas area could get these kits delivered in cooler bags. Anybody throughout the US could also order these kits with dry ingredients and recipes.

ChefMint became a way for Asian Mint to increase its outreach. It brought the Asian Mint restaurant experience into the home kitchen.

Nikky Feeding Souls

Nikky Feeding Souls is another brand from the owner of Asian Mint, Nikky Phinyawatana. Before the pandemic, she took small groups on tours of Thailand to experience the culture and cook the food. When the pandemic hit, she created her “Escape to Thailand” series, a virtual Thai cooking, culture, and travel experience. She had ChefMint kits mailed out, along with different kinds of small gifts and little notes about Thai culture. Then she wrapped up the whole experience with live webinars in group settings so that people could experience it together.

Cindy Briggs Workshops

Cindy Briggs is an internationally renowned watercolor artist. She’s been teaching art for 20 years through plein air or live, open-air workshops in places like Italy and France. She had workshops scheduled up to 2022.

With the pandemic, Cindy canceled her plein air workshops and took these workshops online. Cindy had been doing online classes before and simply expanded the workshops.

Through these online workshops, people experienced Cindy through videos, live webinars, and exclusive Facebook groups. Her students got PDF lists of everything they needed for the class and detailed video instructions they could watch on their own time from the comfort of their homes. The advantage of these videos is Cindy’s students can rewind them, speed them up, or go back to a section if they want to. And they can watch one section over and over.

In live webinars, Cindy starts a painting from scratch, and her students can paint along with her. She also gives specific feedback on work submitted through her Facebook group.s.

OMEGA Gymnastics

Gymnastics is a sport that people need to do in a gym. However, with the pandemic requiring gyms to be closed, OMEGA Gymnastics transitioned online. They did Zoom classes where their kids trained from home.

One of the things they did differently was their distance learning program. Following all Covid cleaning and distancing protocols, OMEGA opened a section of the gym for a small number of students. They could come in during the day, do their online classes, get help with homework, and get some time doing movement in the gym. Through this distance learning program, OMEGA provided students technical assistance, helped them stay focused during classes, and got them active during breaks.

 

The new normal is upon us. Our customers expect, and even demand, customer experiences that fit their perception of the new normal. It’s up to us business owners to adapt and create the experiences they’re looking for.

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Value in the Valley: Empowering Women to Reach Their Highest Potential

On September 27, 2021, the Oregon Chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO Oregon) will hold a virtual event entitled “Value in the Valley.” It is a message to encourage every professional woman to climb their highest mountain and become who they are capable of becoming. The guest speaker for this event is Tammy Butler Robinson.

We invite you to join us at this event. You can register here: https://bit.ly/33FVY7g

About the event

“You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.” – Maya Angelou

Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once wrote that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. You may know which destination you’re headed to, you may know how to get there, and you may even have that strong desire to arrive there. But you will never reach that destination if you don’t make that first, small, single step.

Our journey to greatness begins this way. We may have the passion, the drive, and the plan to make our dreams a reality. But without taking that first step, our dreams will be just that—dreams. And there’s no assurance that the journey itself will be easy. More likely than not, we’ll be called upon to make sacrifices, as well as to face setbacks and heartaches. Nonetheless, if you truly believe that your dreams are worth pursuing, that you’re willing to persevere against all challenges, that you stay true to your values, and that you exercise self-care no matter how hard it gets, you will see the value in the valley and finally reach your destination.

About NAWBO

The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the unified voice of over 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States representing the fastest-growing segment of the economy.

Founded in 1975, NAWBO propels women entrepreneurs into economic, social, and political spheres of power worldwide by:

  • Strengthening the wealth-creating capacity of our members and promoting economic development within the entrepreneurial community
  • Creating innovative and effective change in the business culture
  • Building strategic alliances, coalitions, and affiliations
  • Transforming public policy and influencing opinion-makers

About Tammy Butler Robinson

Tammy Butler is a proven leader with a strong background in housing and community development, expertise in public finance and management, and a deep commitment to improving communities and the lives of women in Indiana. As a Managing Principal with Engaging Solutions, she has successfully led and managed the company’s call center business and co-managed the firm’s planning and community outreach sector. Prior to that, Tammy spent over a decade in State government as a fiscal analyst for the Indiana House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee; Assistant Director of the Indiana State Budget Agency; Director of Claims Management for the Family and Social Services Agency; and Data Director for the Office of Medicaid Policy and Planning.

Tammy’s passion for improving the lives of women and families in Indiana extends beyond her corporate life. She is pastor of The House of God Church in Indianapolis, leading a congregation whose members are among the most underserved and underrepresented populations in the state. Her problem-solving skills, knowledge, and experience engaging stakeholders in the community planning process have led to the creation of multiple programs that have changed lives.

Tammy lives in McCordsville, Indiana with her two children, Myles and Brian Jr.


NAWBO Oregon Past President Chosen for Exclusive Accelerated Growth Training

NAWBO Oregon past president and Sacred Fire Creative founder Malee Ojua joins a select group of 25 women business owners undergoing the NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program, a 10-month business leadership training created by NAWBO and sponsored by Wells-Fargo. 

Portland, OR, March 2021—Sacred Fire Creative (SFC) announced the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) selected SFC CEO Malee Ojua as part of its new learning program. Open to only 25 participants, the NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program helps women business owners scale up their enterprises.

The NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program aims to increase its participants’ market competitiveness.

The NAWBO Accelerated Growth Program is an offering of the organization’s Institute for Entrepreneurial Development. The program, launched in 2021, is a top-tier educational plan designed to help women business owners increase their competitiveness in their respective markets. It’s also meant to set them up for higher levels of growth and expansion. Wells-Fargo sponsors the program.

Participants are to attend eight one-hour online learning sessions for four months. Topics covered in these sessions include developing a leadership mindset, building successful teams, strategic planning, and brand messaging. After completing the program, they will take part in mentorship/mastermind groups for six months. They will also receive other benefits that will help them grow their business.

According to NAWBO, women own 40% of all privately held companies in the country today. Still, the size of their revenues remains significantly below other types of businesses. Educating women business owners enables them to progress to the same or greater levels.

NAWBO is a network of women business owners in the US formed in 1975. Its purpose is to share resources and to provide mutual support among its members. It also lobbies economic and public policies benefiting women entrepreneurs.

Sacred Fire Creative is named one of the top digital marketing agencies in Portland.

SFC is a Portland-based digital marketing agency specializing in helping its clients build a legacy through solid branding. With a unique and robust brand, SFC clients can forge deep connections with its customers, thus creating a loyal community. Among the companies that SFC has worked with are ArisGlobal Software, RiverWest Acupuncture, Johnson & Johnson, and NYU Langone Medical Center. Expertise.com named SFC one of the top digital marketing agencies in the city.

Aside from her role as SFC head, Malee Ojua is also involved with NAWBO’s Oregon chapter. She is the chapter’s current program director and served as its president in 2020. Additionally, she hosts bimonthly virtual forums on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging (DEIB). Ojua participated in the Goldman Sachs 10KSB program in 2019. A former aeronautics engineer, she founded SFC in 2014.


10 Questions with Abby Tarsches

In her own words, Abby Tarsches loves photographing people. A fine art photographer whose work has been published in the likes of Vogue and Bazaar, Abby strives to capture her subjects in their most beautiful and authentic. Every photo is a moment of memory and should, therefore, be timeless and enduring.

With these ten questions, Abby shares her insights on her work and life.

If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Nothing stays the same. Go with the change.

What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Get educated regarding running the business side of things.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

You cannot control everything. Live and let live.

What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

That my work is glamorous and sexy all the time.

What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

Focusing on shop local. Using all my skills as a photographer to help others keep their memories alive.

What do you love about what you do?

I love how a camera can freeze a moment in time. That people’s portraits and special occasions will have a history that will be remembered. I love that every time I photograph, I learn and see something new. That hopefully, I can make someone’s life better through the art of photography.

What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

People are very friendly here. I like the connections I have made.

What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love to hike with my dog at Mt Tabor!

Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My two children, Iris and Cara. They have expanded my heart and soul and give me new perspectives on life every day!

Who do you help in your business?

Women with body positivity and empowerment, business owners, families, and individuals.

Sacred Fire Creative features the members of Portland Connect Online in this series. Our goal here is to help womxn realize that they are extraordinary, that they can make a difference in their own lives, as well as in others’.

For Abby Tarsches, making a difference means capturing her subjects’ inner beauty with her photographs and helping them keep cherished memories alive.


10 Questions with Winslett Carr

Winslett Carr is an acupuncturist specializing in treating a range of women’s health issues, including sexual and reproductive health. It gives her great satisfaction in seeing her patients find relief from stress, chronic pain, and other conditions.

Her patients’ experiences mirror her own. In her 20s, Winslett led a stressful lifestyle working as a researcher for a non-profit in Washington, D.C. The day-to-day stress led her to get diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. It was rather ironic, considering that the non-profit she worked for is in the women’s health niche. Her quest for better health led her to study Chinese medicine and switching careers.

Winslett’s years of experience, both as a patient and as a clinician, have equipped her to help other women find healing. She shares her insights on her work and her life with Sacred Fire Creative by answering these 10 questions:

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Enjoy your time growing up: play softball, have fun with your friends, keep enjoying your favorite subjects, but most importantly, be your most authentic self. This will guide you to where you need to be.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Start now, even if you start small. Find a mentor who can show you the ropes. Connect with colleagues in the field and beyond and stay in touch with your community for support. Send referrals; receive referrals.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

If you have no expertise in an area (tax planning), do not hammer yourself about it. Find and pay for excellent professional help and re-focus on what you do best.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

Acupuncturist is a title, not the act of what I do. Acupuncturists study Chinese medicine and East Asian medicine theory, modalities, herbs, and nutrition. We are not just technicians with needles; we practice the complete art of medicine.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

Although I spend as much time in the room with a patient as before, I do it wearing scrubs, masks, protective eyewear. I crinkle my eyes more to show people I’m smiling behind the mask. That, and I spend more time allowing Cavicide to dry on every surface between patients and before resetting the treatment room for the next patient. New normal.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I love hearing each person’s unique story. They’re not just sharing a health history but the way they shape their lives and what their dreams and goals are for the future. If I can help them, in some small way, to continue moving towards their dreams and goals, well, there’s nothing better than helping people in that way.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

Portland is still a wonderfully small city with 7 degrees of separation. There are many entrepreneurs here. Everyone understands that if you are an effective and caring professional, your business will steadily grow.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I hike to see everything that the area offers. Portland and the entire Pacific Northwest are filled with world-class vistas—Douglas fir-covered capes with trails to secluded beaches, the snow-covered Cascade Range of still active volcanoes, prehistoric forests with cool mountain streams, and even high desert landscapes with wild horses.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My mother is a force and a force for good for everyone who surrounds her. She returned to graduate school with my then-infant brother in tow. She works smart for sure, but she gets more things done in a day than almost anyone I know. She’s a “Type A” and also very intuitive and caring. I aim high because of her, and I help others where I can because that’s what she always did.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I help women working on goals and really pursuing their dreams of having a family, having health, living authentically and pain-free.

Sacred Fire Creative shines the spotlight on the members of Portland Connect Online in this series. Through this series, we aim to help womxn realize and believe that they can be extraordinary and make a difference in other people’s lives.

For Winslett Carr, making a difference means assisting women in their journey to better health and a family of their own through her acupuncture practice.


10 Questions with Brittani Pomeroy

Brittani Pomeroy is a great believer in autonomy. As an Insurance Advisor with Elliott, Powell, Baden & Baker, she works closely with her customers as their advocate. She believes it’s her job to help her clients feel secure that they have the best options in place in case they meet with unforeseen losses.

Brittani answers ten questions for Sacred Fire Creative. Through these answers, she lets us into her thoughts on the work she does and the life she lives today.

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Change is constant; we must learn to look for the positive in every transition.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Slow down and make sure to build the proper foundation for your business. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

The impact of not having the proper foundation. It makes it harder to maintain the same level of success and service.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

I am a very direct person. At times I’ll have a coworker tell me that I am not open to their opinion. But that is not correct. Instead, I like to understand their reasonings so I can process and make my own determination.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

I now have to make time to help my son with his homework. So at times, my work hours are not the typical work hours.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I truly love partnering with my customers to make sure they have the necessary coverages for unforeseen losses.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

Portland is a city with a small-town feel. The individuals I have worked with seem to like to sell based on relationships.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love that I can walk to my grocery store, bakery, ice cream shop, nails. Plus, I have an amazing view of Mt. Hood.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My grandmother. She always taught me to be true to myself and pay attention to actions over words.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I partner with companies that want to make sure they have the proper insurance for their business today plus future endeavors they have planned.

Sacred Fire Creative showcases the members of Portland Connect Online in this series. Our aim is to let all womxn realize that they are capable of doing extraordinary things. Womxn can make a difference, not just in their own lives but also in others’.

In Brittani Pomeroy’s case, it’s all about helping people put down safeguards that will protect them against uncertainty and unforeseen losses. She encourages her clients to be proactive about their future.


10 Questions with Jennifer Armenta

Jennifer Armenta started many businesses, but it took some trial and error and plenty of effort to succeed and thrive. Like most womxn, she realized the value of enjoying life a little too late. She also learned ideas don’t simply bring success; research and empathy do.

Jennifer is a Highlands Certified Consultant and Certified Career Services Provider. She revels in helping her clients find confidence within themselves to do what they need to do. She believes being true to yourself is great, and having plans for your future is even better.

Here’s an insight into Jennifer’s personal and work thoughts:

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

I would tell myself to remember to always have fun. Being an adult is full of responsibilities. It is important to have fun and laugh every day.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

Make sure that what you are offering is something your customer needs or wants. Just because you think it is a good idea does not mean that everyone will. Do your due diligence before you launch your business.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

I have started many businesses in my life. Some have been successful, and some have not. After my last business did not work out, it took me several years to get back up. My current business is thriving, but it is because I learned from the past. I had to look back at what didn’t work and create new strategies that led to success.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

Thinking that all coaches are the same. I distinguish myself by taking a very intuitive approach to each client. Each person that I work with has different fears, goals, and expectations. So, I develop a unique plan for each client I work with, providing the most value I can with the time we spend together.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

I have been very lucky that I have not had to make significant changes. Although I genuinely miss in-person meetings, I can provide all of my services virtually.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I love helping someone confidently make a big decision about their future. There is nothing better than seeing someone’s face light up when they finally figured out what their next steps are. It feels good to be there for someone through these milestones.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in McMinnville?

The amazing community. McMinnville is a wonderful place to do business. The Chamber of Commerce, McMinnville Economic Development Partnership, and other local groups truly support local business owners.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love spending time with friends and family in downtown McMinnville. There are fantastic restaurants, coffee shops, and pubs that we frequent regularly.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My parents. They always taught me to be true to myself and follow my intuition. With this solid foundation, I am now able to help my clients do the same.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I help people who are in career transition. I love helping older students clarify their next steps in life. I also work with new and aspiring leaders to identify their strengths and help them confidently develop their leadership style.

We’re trying to let all womxn know that they can make a difference. You don’t need to be special, above average, or anything else but yourself to be significant. Sacred Fire Creative showcases members of Portland Connect Online to show you that ordinary womxn like you and me can do extraordinary things.

In Jennifer Armenta’s case, she encourages people to find themselves and set goals for their future. She enjoys empathetically leading people as well as managing employees and developing organizations. With this, she empowers not only herself but also others.


10 Questions with Lita Batho

Lita Batho believes you should love where you live. Like other womxn entrepreneurs, she strives to make a difference doing a job she believes in. At present, she works at Keller Williams as a real estate agent.

Lita ensures she understands her clients and their vision as she assists them in choosing a house. She knows you’ll live in your home for a long time, so it’s important to her that you love where you live. After all, if you love your residence, you’re more likely to love life and everything within it.

Here’s an insight into Lita’s personality and the things that drive her:

1. If you could go back in time, what would you tell your 11-year-old self?

Keep that positive attitude. And yes, you can do anything.

2. What advice do you wish you had been given when you first started your business?

These relationships can last decades: get to know everyone you meet, be kind, and stay in touch.

3. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned the hard way (in life or business)?

Listening is more effective than telling.

4. What do people always get wrong about you or what you do?

A big part of what I do as a real estate agent is negotiating and making sure each step of the process moves forward in a timely manner. A lot goes on behind the scenes of looking at homes and making offers, and it takes a lot of attention to detail and thinking through the strategy to make sure my clients have a stress-free process and achieve their goals.

5. What shifts did you make in life or business as a result of the pandemic?

The beginning of the pandemic felt like a nice, quiet lull with no one driving, families outside in the spring weather, and cooking at home.  As the pandemic went on, though, I am so grateful that most of the process of buying or selling a home can be done virtually (contracts, communicating between agents, title, and closing). Of course, I still cherish the time I get to show houses in person and finally hand keys to new buyers.  It helped me appreciate the time I do have in person with any client and the ability to work virtually.

6. What do you love about what you do?

I love getting to know clients and having their trust to facilitate a life change. I also love living in Portland, and by extension, helping others to get to know neighborhoods, the home styles here, and finding solutions for my clients to make their next move.

7. What is the best thing about doing business in Portland?

As a real estate agent, I love the region. It offers year-round gardening, outdoor recreation, and unique neighborhoods; there really is something for everyone.

8. What is one of your favorite things to do where you live?

I love our local restaurant owners and farmers. I like to support them by shopping at the farmers’ markets and eating (or taking out) from independently-owned restaurants. I also love day trips to the gorge or the coast, hiking, and neighborhood walking.

9. Who has been the most important influence in your life and why?

My mom had her own business (retail shops). To me, she was a great example of a small business owner and someone working on building a business.  I remember her advocating for herself with bankers and running the business when I was small, and I grew up in and around her stores.

10. Who do you help in your business?

I help home buyers and sellers transition from one situation to the next. I do this by connecting them with my trusted partners for lending, home inspections and repairs, and other services.

Sacred Fire Creative aims to let everyone know we can all make a difference. You don’t have to be special, above average, or anything else but you to make a difference. Members of Portland Connect Online show you that ordinary womxn can do extraordinary things that make significant differences in people’s lives.

In Lita Batho’s case, she’s ensuring every individual or family appreciates their house. Before practicing real estate, she had been a yoga teacher that helped womxn stay healthy and manage their stresses for over 19 years.


McMinnville, OR Business Owner Recognized by Prestigious Goldman Sachs 10KSB Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

McMinnville, OR Business Owner Recognized by Prestigious Goldman Sachs 10KSB Program 

Sacred Fire Creative, a McMinnville-based digital marketing agency founded in 2014 by Malee Ojua, has been named one of the most promising small businesses in the nation by the top investment bank. 

McMinnville, OR (June 20, 2019)—When former aerospace engineer Malee Ojua first studied graphic design, she did it just for fun. She never thought it would lead her to build a successful digital marketing agency or that Goldman Sachs would eventually select her for an exclusive business development program.

“I left my career as an aerospace engineer with Top Secret government security clearance in 1998 to be with my mother after her Stage IV breast cancer diagnosis,” recalled Ojua. “Everything was moment to moment. I decided then that life is too short not to do what you are passionate about and what makes you happy.”

Her passion drove Ojua to pursue a different path from her established engineering career, in which she successfully marketed multi-billion-dollar defense satellite systems to hundreds of military generals at a time. “People have always asked me to design, to make everything look better. It’s what I do without thinking.” With her natural knack for design, Ojua went back to school and earned a degree in web development and design. In 2014, she established Sacred Fire Creative, LLC, a business she started from nothing and on her own.

“I mentioned at a women’s networking event that I was starting a side business in web design. Next thing I know, four business owners came up to me, handed me checks and told me that I needed to register my business right away. That’s how it all started,” Ojua shared.

By 2015, Ojua was working full-time at her company. Corporate accounts started coming in by 2016, first the New York University Langone Medical Center, followed by Johnson & Johnson and ArisGlobal Health. By 2017, Sacred Fire Creative posted six-figure revenues. And, in 2018, the company experienced 117% business growth.

“For me, this is the American Dream—that you can achieve success with persistent hard work and determination no matter what obstacles are in your way,” said Ojua.

“My parents are immigrants who came to the US separately, bringing with them only the clothes on their backs. Together, they built a grocery business and worked hard so that my brother, my sister, and I could live a good life,” Ojua said. “They taught us the value of hard work and the importance of giving back to the country and community that took us in.”

“I have always wanted to contribute to my community, and I do that through my business,” said Ojua. “I started this business from scratch and figured it out through the help of other women business owners and mentors. I want to show that people like me—a woman, a daughter of immigrants, and a member of ethnic minority groups—can build a successful enterprise. I am excited to give back and inspire other women and minorities like me to do the same.”

In 2017, Ojua applied for the prestigious Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program, also known as 10,000 Small Businesses or 10KSB. This education and mentorship program for entrepreneurs was developed by finance industry leader Goldman Sachs in partnership with Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts.

She was one of under 150 business owners invited to participate in the program from over 800 applicants.

“Being chosen to participate in 10KSB is an amazing opportunity,” said Ojua. “It opened my eyes to new avenues of growth I’d never even considered before.”

Goldman Sachs created 10KSB in 2009 with the belief that giving small business owners access to education, capital, and support is the optimum way to overcome barriers to their growth. The program’s scholars take part in a condensed and intensive MBA-like training lasting 12 weeks. The training includes guidance in building a customized growth plan, one-on-one counseling, membership to a peer support network, and support from leaders in the business world.

“These business owners represent the best of the US economy. This program helps them grow their business, create new jobs, and strengthen our communities. Nearly 70% of participants increase revenues and 50% create new jobs just six months after graduating,” said Babson College’s Richard T. Bliss, the National Academic Director of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

With her 10KSB diploma firmly in hand, Ojua is back in McMinnville, OR and has set her sights on certifications for her business that would allow her to offer graphic design services to government agencies on the federal level.

“I’m applying for federal SBA 8(a) Business Development Program as well as acquiring SBA Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program certifications. Also, I’m renewing our Certification Office for Business Inclusion and Diversity (COBID), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), and Emerging Small Business (ESB) certifications.”

“We’re aiming to get listed on the US General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule for Advertising and Integrated Marketing Solutions (AIMS). This will allow government buyers to purchase directly from us with pre-established pricing, terms, and conditions.”

According to Ojua, there are no other currently certified graphic design agencies in Oregon on the GSA Schedule. Sacred Fire Creative is additionally qualified for the HUBZone (Historically Underutilized Business Zone) Program certification, which even fewer agencies hold. Having these certifications, said Ojua, would further separate her company from its competitors.

“As someone with past experience working with government agencies, I truly believe we have the qualities that government buyers on the federal, state, and local level are looking for in their contractors. It’s an opportunity we are excited to explore,” Ojua said.

Sacred Fire Creative is a digital marketing agency that provides a wide range of business development services, including graphic design, web design and development, social media management, and content marketing. For more information about Sacred Fire Creative and Malee Ojua, please visit www.sacredfirecreative.com.

CONTACT:

Malee Ojua

malee@sacredfirecreative.com

503-816-3890

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