Boy did we learn a thing or two!
As I look back and admire all that transpired this year, I have to say, 2014 was filled with surprises! We started the year as a Chamber strong with a vision of what we wanted to accomplish and for the first time since I have been with the Chamber, we implemented a 3 year strategic plan. As the months passed, we continuously reverted back to the plan to ensure we were meeting our objectives and moving on to the next project and I was very pleased with our progress.
The first two quarters of the year I felt organized, energized and positive that this year was going to be a GREAT YEAR! My staff and I held (2) planning retreats throughout the year to ensure everyone was on the same page with our vision for 2014 and that we were meeting our objectives which significantly helped us with improving our communication, and providing each other with a better understanding on how we can work better as a team.
Our summer months snuck up on us quickly and before we knew it, we were planning the Golf Tournament, 4th of July, and the new festival: Taste of the Valley Art and Food Festival. Organizing a new event was much more difficult than I anticipated. Although our new theme was fun, exciting and filled with opportunities, we quickly realized it was going to be much more difficult to execute. It seemed like there were obstacles that came out of nowhere everywhere we turned, and there were many, many, stressful nights for all of us.
Our goal with the Taste of the Valley Art and Food Festival was to try something new and breathe new life into an event that needed a new twist. In talking to guests at the festival, it seemed as though they enjoyed themselves. The festival was much smaller than in past years but this was intentional on our part because we wanted to start with a smaller footprint that could be managed easier. All in all, I think the festival was enjoyed by many and this new experience taught us many lessons that I feel in the long run will improve our Chamber for the better.
2014 taught me many things and I wanted to share with you the lessons I have learned and I encourage you to also reflect back on the year so you can make changes that will have a positive impact on your business and life!
Give Yourself Adequate Time to Research and Develop a New Program
Every new idea needs the appropriate amount of time dedicated to researching its viability, creating a strategy for how to get the “win” you are looking for and carefully planning your road map to get you to the finish line. Not every “good idea” will produce great results.
Celebrate the Wins
You will not “win” all year long but when you do have wins, make sure you celebrate them with the team. Gratitude and appreciation go a long way and it’s important to keep reenergizing the team and being open and honest when things are not going as planned, which leads me to my next lesson learned:
Anticipate there will be bumps along the road and be pro-active rather than reactive
This is the hardest thing to do. In business and life in general it is so difficult to produce great results, stay ahead of the game, and look out for curve balls all while staying afloat. This is an area I need to improve on because I tend to get caught up with the day to day issues and don’t take time to analyze situations and foresee disasters before they arrive at your front door.
My proudest moments this year are many and I want to share some highlights with you because I want you to know how much our Chamber was able to accomplish even through the various obstacles and challenges we had to face:
- To date, added 84 new members to the Chamber
- Hosted 28 Ribbon Cutting Ceremonies celebrating new businesses in town
- Prepared over 1,000 high school students through workforce development training consisting of mock interviews, job readiness workshops, and internships.
- Hosted 24 business coffees and mixers to promote networking among businesses and relationship building.
- Held Leadership Training courses for individuals to become better leaders and practice laws of leadership with their team.
- Awarded $6,500 in scholarships to high school students through the Hispanic Business Scholarship program.
- Provided information, resources, and referrals to over 20,000 users who visited the chamber website
- Provided over 1,000 referrals to member busineses from our referral database
- Hosted premiere business informational events such as State of the City and Economic Development Business Forum with over 300 in attendance.
- Hosted community events such as the Winter Gala, Golf Tournament, 4th of July, Taste of the Valley Art and Food Festival and Mariachi Concert with an estimated 25,000 in attendance to promote Tracy.
My next blog will be a preview of what you can expect for 2015 with new programs and events that will help add more value to our members and strengthen the Chamber.
Before I end, I want to thank my staff for all the support and hard work they have dedicated this year, Maria Valenzuela, Alyssa Mupo and Robin Paloma. Overcoming challenges this year were made easier and more manageable because of my resilient support team that was always willing to offer an extra hand to get things done!
I also want to thank all the Ambassadors, Board members, and Hispanic Business Group members who continuously supported the Chamber throughout the year and were vital in bringing in new members.
Lastly, thank you, our member, for believing in our organization and partnering with us to “Create a Community Where Business Thrives”
Happy Holidays…until next time!
-Sofia Valenzuela, CEO, Tracy Chamber