Business Profile: Donna McTaggart #SMBYYCPosted by Office Guardians / May 5th, 2016 / No responses
Founder of KAOS
Co-Founder of Social Media Breakfast YYC
Co-Founder of Eggheads Labz
Mel: Tell me about what your company does
Donna: I have the privilege of being apart of a couple business initiatives.
KAOS: With over 20 years of experience working with accounting software & business systems for small business, KAOS offers expertise in inventory and project management systems. Services include implement, training, report design, and ongoing support.
Egghead Labz: As co-founder of Egghead Labz, we provide practical & technical learning in digital marketing for professionals, small business owners, and those interested in learning more about the tools and theory behind digital marketing.
Social Media Breakfast: Co-Founder of Social Media Breakfast – Calgary (@SMByyc). This monthly event provides attendees an opportunity to network with social media enthusiasts and enhance their knowledge of social media. Presentation topics are grounded in the questions that individuals, organizations, non-profits and corporations share about social media. The conversation begins at this event with the expectation that it will continue in the community. We offer expertise to non-profits, conferences and event planners, expanding marketing strategy to a digital strategy. Working with clients prior to, during and post event, building up the conversation, engaging with speakers, sponsors and attendees. Post analysis offers the opportunity to continue engagement and strengthen relationships.
Mel: What led you to starting a company in this industry?
Donna: I’m not sure I selected what I do. My passions found me and I followed them.
I’ve worked in tech for over 20 years, despite not even having a computer in High School. My first job was in a garment factory where I worked in every area but accounting. My reference letter when I left there was that I had an “aptitude for computers”. I barely used them and had no idea at that time how computers would shape my career.
I was fortunate to work with an organization in my 20’s that was interested in new technology. Learned my way around DOS products, beginning versions of Microsoft and Office products as well as windows based accounting systems. Prior to starting KAOS, I implemented accounting systems for three employers. After the third one, realized that this was my passion, implementing business system.
Mel: Why did you decide to start the Social Media Breakfast (SMB)? What have you learned from this community now that your events have become a must attend event in Calgary?
Donna: “Social Media” intrigued me from the first time I heard it. I remember starting my Twitter account in January 2009 and asking the same question many others ask… now what? Being an introvert, I quickly learned that I could “meet” and communicate with people without having to do the “in person” thing. This broke down a huge barrier for me.
The first serendipitous thing about SMB was how I arrived at event #1. I joined 19 others for that inaugural event that was created by Scott Baird. He shared with us his experience with a successful Social Media Breakfast event in the states. He laid out a vision of how he wanted to start a community in Calgary where people could learn about this new thing called Social Media. I loved the concept and was excited to participate. During the 2nd year of events, Scott was unable to continue to lead. It was humbling that he entrusted his vision to me.
The first “tweetup” that I attended was an evening where approximately 15 people were going to meet offline. We passed along invites and were surprised when over 80 people attended.
Myth busted. No matter the level of interest, or addiction, to Social Media, people have a craving to meet in-person.
#SMByyc was created to be a place where people could meet; could begin a conversation; and then take the relationships and conversations they started and continue outside the event. That has been the reality from the beginning and continues today.
It has been exciting to watch people connect between events, join forces and do great things like fundraisers for worthy causes. It’s encouraging to see people share knowledge and resources. It’s gratifying to see conversations started at SMByyc, continuing online.
Mel: What impact are you trying to have on Calgary, with #SMByyc?
Donna: The vision continues to be to build a community. For events through #49, the focus was on learning. Never duplicated topics and tried to select a subject directly related to social media.
When the event turned 50, I wanted to celebrate the milestone with an experience. It was important to me that the sponsors and speakers felt that it’s a value to them, and I hoped that guests would leave with a memory.
We continue to keep presentation topics unique. The strategy for each event since the 75th has been the same, to create a unique experience that would be a win for everyone involved.
Mel: How do you leverage your events with what you do in your business?
Donna: Starting with the very first SMB event, I have had the privilege to meet amazing people in Calgary. With a shared curiosity of Social Media, I have learned much from both speakers and attendees.
The emergence of digital has expanded opportunities for events. Integrating social with the marketing strategy can exponentially increase reach and impact.
Social Media Breakfast has provided me an opportunity to experience that impact. At our 50th event we added a tweet wall. The online conversation exploded. Through SMB I have been learning about the power of hashtags, identifying influencers and leveraging social to maximize exposure for sponsors.
KAOS is now able to provide assistance to event planners to integrate social with their existing event strategy, as well as tools that can assist with displaying and tracking online conversation.
Conversations during Social Media Breakfast events have highlighted the need for training in the digital space. The purpose for Egghead Labz is to offer targeted instruction for people that are inspired to use tools, but need assistance to do so.
Mel: What failure have you experienced and how has it changed the way you run your business?
Donna: The answer that comes to mind is that I hired an employee. The employee was great and I was able to keep her busy, but she did not enjoy the tasks I had for her to do. She decided to leave and I didn’t replace her.
I realized through that experience that I enjoy to work with small businesses and enjoy to work alone. Managing staff took me away from doing the tasks that I loved.
I made the decision to work solo and to out-source any additional work. For me it has been the perfect decision.
Mel: Having created serious buzz around the SMByyc, what do you plan on doing with all this new found excitement and interest from the public?
Donna: We continue to create a space that is comfortable for new people, engaging for those that return and challenging for those that attend regularly. With so many interesting groups in Calgary, it is humbling that people continue to support SMByyc events
Your question is timely. For SMB events to continue to be successful, it is important that they remain fresh and relevant.
We will continue to be homeless, which means that our events will continue to explore new venues and occasionally return to our favourites. Events will continue to be morning, although the question is asked often if SMB could consider alternate meeting times to accommodate more schedules. Each event will have a breakfast sponsor – coffee will never go out of style!!
Moving forward the focus will shift. After years of building, it’s time to acknowledge that we have a community. I think it’s important that we begin to use our voice. At our next event on May 20th we will begin a new chapter.
Mel: When you 1st started your company, what was the most difficult step in your set up phase? What did you do to overcome the challenge? And once it was completed, was it truthfully as daunting as you thought it would be?
Donna: Dealing with the technology learning curve with no real support of any kind was definitely a big challenge.
I don’t remember the term “entrepreneur”. I worked alone and it was often daunting. Finding training for software was not as easy. There were no YouTube videos. Besides a few user groups specific to a piece of software, there was limited support for those working alone. Learning and trouble shooting software was a challenge.
It is impossible to thrive without patience or determination!
I was told once by a tech that I had worked with for years, that I didn’t have the technical ability to do something. There is no stronger motivation than being told you “can’t”. So I did. There is always a sense of personal satisfaction doing something you are told you can’t do. But collaboration is much more effective.
Mel: What are you looking forward to the most, with your business in 2016?
Donna: The entrepreneurial spirit is strong in Calgary, this year more than ever before. There are so many opportunities to help businesses grow. Whether it is offering cost effective training sessions, assisting with events or working to streamline business systems.
Rapid advancements in technology continue to be a challenge for entrepreneurs and small business. Communication tools, project management systems, social media, productivity, and analysis tools are all changing quickly. This space continues to motive and inspire me!
Mel: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Donna: Calgary is an amazing city. As devastating as the #ABFlood was, that experience highlighted our collective love for our community.
I have always enjoyed connecting people, highlighting fundraisers, and music & the arts. As Social Media Breakfast embarks on a new adventure, I am excited about the new things we will learn about our community & how we can make our community stronger.
The Collaboration Section
I am an introvert and a news junkie, so I have MSNBC TV on in my office 24/7 – mostly US politics.
I joined Twitter in Jan 2009 and it is my go to tool for all things news.
Flip Board keeps me in the know about all things related to Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality.
My favourite twitter account is @ARStories
Thank you for checking our Office Guardians’ Business Profile. You can send some love to Donna McTaggart by going to any of the links below and liking her work.
And for a little fun… A guest appearance by Office Guardians & an Olympian at a recent SMBYYC.