Since this is my first blog post on SpaceCoast Business, I just wanted to give a quick “thank you” for the invite and for the opportunity to share my voice with this great community.  As a first-time woman business owner who has somehow found a way to grow a very successful company  in a down economy, whilst raising a family and running a home, sometimes stumbling along the way but always landing on my feet, I hope to impart some inspiration or wisdom upon you or at least make you chuckle, even if it’s at my expense.  ; )

So, what powerful, earth-shattering business topic did I choose for my first post???  Emoticons.  That’s right!  To smiley or not to smiley?  That is the question.  Bare with me here.  I promise that I am going somewhere with this!

Being a driving force behind my company’s sales and marketing efforts, I spend a bit of time on social media sites, including LinkedIn.  A particular user poll recently caught my eye: “Do you think smiley faces are appropriate on emails to clients? ; )”  The three voting choices were: “Yes,” “No” or “Depending on the Relationship.”  To me, this was a no-brainer.  Yes, it is totally okay!!  However, they should be used (or not) on a case-by-case basis, depending on a few factors: who you are sending it to, how well you know the contact, the level of professionalism desired to get your message across, etc.  It’s not something you want to do in every email, but of course it is okay.  Right?

Surprisingly — wrong!  Well, at least that is what nearly 1/3 of the voters were saying.  953 people voted that no, it is not okay to use a smiley in an email … ever!  Not only that, but some of them had some pretty strong opinions about it, with zero exceptions.  One business man snidely remarks, “They’re great if you want to look like a kid working from your bedroom playing at being in ‘bizz.”  A couple other voters shared almost identical opinions, “Professional conduct all the way, no matter what the relationship,” and “business correspondence should remain completely professional, always.”  “A smiley face immediately discredits the sender’s message” warns yet another pollster, and one woman brings up a fear, “The e-mail with the smiley face may get into the hands of a client’s manager who may not be amused.”   Oh, the horror!  Finally, one of my personal favorites, submitted by a reader that quite possibly had way to much coffee that particular morning states, “Never, in a million years, even if it was just you and that client left on the planet – I STILL wouldn’t use an emoticon.  Its unprofessional, shows poor grammar skills, leaves a bad impression, crosses over the boundaries of client/supplier relationships and frankly we shouldn’t even be having this poll, its common sense!”  Wow!   And, talk about poor grammar!  But, I digress.

So, in reading some of these responses, my sage advice is:  Lighten up, people!!  It’s just business.  And, it’s okay to just be yourself some times and follow your gut.  What do you feel is right??  Take a few deep, cleansing breathes & just relax a little bit! : ) Yes, the rule books are great – they’re out there to teach us and guide us, NOT to dictate our every thought and action.   So, you know what?   Sometimes – who cares about the book??  Shut it.  Throw it away!  My point is that sometimes people are so focused on following the “rules” and doing everything “right” that we start to over analyze things and worry about stuff that is just not worth worrying about.  As a result, we create undue stress and even miss out on some totally fabulous opportunities.

I have personally generated well over a $1 million in profits for my company in the past couple of years.   And, guess what – I use the crap out of some smiley faces in my emails, social media posts, and frankly, wherever else I feel like using them!!  Shoot, I even go crazy with the exclamation points sometimes.  And, I don’t ever apologize for it!!!  I don’t pour over the message before hitting send and worry “will he/she be upset about the smiley usage and/or choice of punctuation?”   I just do.  I just am.  I hit send and get on with my day.  Nine times out ten, I get a great reply back and they typically will follow my lead with a smiley of their own.  As a matter of fact, my top 5 accounts all get the smiley treatment on a regular basis and the praises they sing about me and my company tells me they are not too concerned by them.  ; )

If you want to score extreme business success, then you need to just let go a little bit.  Quit following the rule books to a tee.  Quit trying to copy others.   Instead, start paving your own path by thinking your own thoughts which will turn into your own actions.  For goodness sakes – lighten up over things that are so completely insignificant in the scope of our existences!  Focus on what is good for your soul and what feels right to you.  You can’t possibly please 100{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2} of the people all the time and still be true to yourself.  So, quit worrying about the folks who might not approve, and just GO FOR IT!  : )  You will stand out for being your authentic self and people can really connect with that.  You will find yourself more joyful in your business day, and your bottom line will grow as a result.  I promise.

So, what do you think?  To smiley or not to smiley?  Is it okay to bend the rules a little and have some fun during your business or am I crazy for even thinking such a thought?  Did my intentional and excessive use of emoticons and exclamation points in this article irritate you to no end or was it a refreshing new perspective and do you totally get where I was going with all of this?  We’d love to hear from you! : )

Dawn Gluskin is the Founder & CEO of SolTec Electronics, a company she started in her living room as a solo-entrepreneur and has since grown from zero to multiple millions of dollars in revenue in less than three years, a milestone less than 3{099636d13cf70efd8d812c6f6a5a855fb6f8f27f35bea282d2df1d5ae896e2c2} of all women-owned businesses achieve.  She achieved this whilst raising a family, staying active in the women’s business community, maintaining her sanity (mostly!) and while giving back to many local and international causes via her SolTec CARES program.

Under Dawn’s leadership, SolTec has become ISO 9001 & ESD 2020 certified and has received national media recognition, including a recent article in the New York Times. She is an advocate on reducing counterfeit components in the marketplace, which she often blogs about and also sits on the SAE G19D committee that is currently setting the standards for detecting and avoiding counterfeit components.  SolTec Electronics provides an array of services to the electronic manufacturing & aerospace sectors including obsolete part & long lead-time solutions, component testing, inventory management, and kitting services. For more information about Dawn Gluskin and SolTec Electronics, visit their website, Facebook, or Twitter page, or email Dawn directly.