Monthly Archives: September 2016

Web Presence



These days, to legitimize a business, it must have a website. Gone is the time when pulling out the yellow pages or calling “information” got you the contact information for the business or service you wanted. Today, most people “google” what they are looking for on the web.

An effective website can cost as little as $12 per month. A website can be a simple landing page, or something with multiple pages, showing a range of home services, a professional practice, product, art or charity. It can be multi-functional to include direct sales, connect to your social media, have forms or applications for download, submission, and provide a blog that allows for comments, or not.

When I began my website, I was afforded an array of options to build from with providers like Squarespace, WordPress, and Wix. It was a year ago, and now there are even more from which to choose. The first thing I did was secure a domain name. You can search from the build sites, or go to a domain host like “GoDaddy” and type in what you want and see if it is available then you purchase the use of the name /address on the web for a year or multiple years. Other actions will include writing a bio for yourself, or a description of your business or service. Just as important, choose images to “tell your story.” Images are the universal language and set the tone of your message.

Recently, I was helping a friend with her website. Looking through several images that she had on hand, none were simple or bold enough She decided to take some photos that were in line with the image from the sample website that she had liked. Hire a professional to take custom images, a headshot, and other images as they relate to your business because it is necessary to set the proper mood and message. There are also providers where you can buy images such as Adobe, iStockphoto, and Dreamstime. among others.

Use an editor always for good copy, and hire a professional web developer if tech is not your strong suit. You can get online editing help with Grammarly though nothing replaces a human editor.

The old adage is true, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Another comes to mind, “It’s too late to shut the gate when the horse has left the barn.”

About Renee Bates

Renee is an artist focused on growing a newfound ability to express herself through oil painting, leaving her role as executive director of the non-profit, Greenways for Nashville in 2015. Renee is inspired by nature and enjoys hiking, birding, and the garden. She contributes to HerSavvy, a blog featuring writings from a group of well-informed women wishing to share their support and experience with others. Married to David Bates of Bates Nursery and Garden Center, enjoying flora and fauna is a family affair.

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Launching Your Business


Launching a business is much like planning a military campaign.  It requires research and planning to achieve the goal.  A business owner must research whether there is a market for the new business’ product or service and then plan to achieve the goal of running a successful business.

There is plenty of advice on launching a business, much of it contradictory since there are so many variables to consider.  What legal structure should I use to protect my personal assets?  How much market research should I do about my service or product?  Who is my target market and how do I let them know I’m open for business?  It’s all very confusing, even with the best plan.

That’s because the best plans fail.  There’s a famous military axiom that “no plan survives first contact with the enemy” (substitute “the market”).  In business this axiom means that you need to plan well but be prepared to adjust quickly.

For example, I launched my business with a service that I thought would be a winner.  However, within a few months I realized that I had misjudged the market.  So I revised my entire business and re-launched it.  A few years later, a key client walked away and I had to revamp my services and re-launch again.

Creating a great product or service is just the beginning of the effort to launch a business.  A business owner also needs to understand the competition.  In military terms, it means knowing the topography over which the attack will be launched.  For example, military planners avoid attacking directly into a strongly defended position.  They prefer flanking attacks to catch the opponent in a weak spot.

For a business owner, this means knowing what your competitor does best. There’s no point going head-to-head with an established competitor unless your product or service is significantly better.  Inertia and draconian cancellation policies tend to keep people locked in to their existing vendor’s services.

When I think back to the launch of my business, there are two major tasks that I wish I had done differently.  First, I wish I had researched the market more effectively to avoid wasting so much time on a service that didn’t sell.  Second, I wish I had given more thought to how I would deliver my services.  Marketing is not my strong suit.  I could have avoided a lot of heartache by admitting the obvious and outsourcing these tasks much sooner.

About Norma Shirk

Norma started her company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, to help employers create human resources policies for their employees and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to have structure without bureaucracy. Visit Norma’s website:

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The Other Side of the Couch – Books That Have Touched My Life


I really cannot remember a time when I could not read.  I know that my mother read to me, even as a baby.  A family story chronicles me at three reciting “The Night Before Christmas” in its entirety to my two year-old sister. I remember at six dancing down the hall of the house, having received a set of the Bobbsey Twins series for my birthday.  Later the Cherry Ames, Student Nurse Series and biographies of accomplished women took center stage.  Wherever I went I had a book.  I was called out in class for reading under the desk during other classes.  In the summer I stacked books beside my chair in the living room and read voraciously.

Books took me to other places, other stories, other lives.  Books took me away from my own lonely life in middle and high school, becoming the friends for whom I longed.  Books widened my world, taking me to ancient Rome (Great and Glorious Physician), to Renaissance Italy (The Agony and the Ecstasy), ancient England (The Mists of Avalon), to a romanticized South (Gone with the Wind).   I climbed the moors with Jane Eyre, rejected and then fell in love with Mr. Darcy.  Discovering theater, I reveled in Shakespeare’s tragedies and comedies.

As a professional counselor a whole other genre of books has become significant.  The stories of people’s lives embodied in historical and other fiction have been amplified by the professional literature of a lifetime.  Out of all of the hundreds of books and articles I have read over thirty plus years, three stand out as especially life-changing.

The first is On Becoming a Person by Carl Rogers, in which he elucidates the three core conditions required for transformational change in a client (empathy, authenticity, and unconditional positive regard).  These foundational principles have informed my work from its inception.  Second is the amazing leap into a new way of seeing power, articulated by Jean Baker Miller in her seminal work Toward a New Psychology of Women, in which she describes “power with” rather than “power over” as a way to understand the relational process of transformation.  Third is the slim volume called Focusing by Eugene Gendelin, a book that opened the door into the centrality of the body-based knowing that creates change, if it is given a chance.

Whether fiction, biography, or professional literature, what all of these stories and experiences have in common is an arc of change.  Characters grow, develop, learn.  People live through struggle, learn new ways of being.  Through my profession I have learned how to be part of and witness to that process of change, informed by the touchstones of presence and witness.

Does your life story have an arc?  Have you considered how your story could be created?  What if you were an author, considering a biography of the life you have led?  What would you see?

About Susan Hammonds-White, EdD, LPC/MHSP:

Susan is a communications and relationship specialist, counselor, Imago Relationship Therapist, businesswoman, mother, and proud native Nashvillian. She has been in private practice for over 30 years. As she says, “I have the privilege of helping to mend broken hearts.”  Contact Susan at

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