#48 - Moving your business beyond the startup stage

In the first couple of years, business owners often struggle with understanding how much work running a business is and how long it can take to have a profitable business.

Angela Sutcliffe is a business consultant (and Smart Old Broad) who draws on 30 years of knowledge  and experience to move her clients beyond the start up phase. Angela works with business owners to  design and implement strategies that are relevant to their business and their industry to make them consistently profitable. Over the years, she has won many awards for her business acumen, as have her clients, but the one thing she is most proud of is being selected by Kevin O'Leary's production company to work with the winner and runner up of his reality TV show, Redemption Inc. as they rolled out their new businesses.

Angela Sutcliffe

I spoke with Angela about what she believes every business owner needs to know before taking his or her business to the next level.

Know your numbers

According to Angela, 90% of businesses are gone within two years. Business owners don’t understand what profitable means because they don’t pay attention to their numbers—instead they work to build a business that makes their clients happy, but does not make money. If you’re not bringing home a pay cheque then your business is not going to work.

If a business owner does not know how much money they are making or if they don’t know if they are making enough to support the lifestyle surrounding it (their bottom line) then they are working to please their customers while simultaneously going broke. If you start your business with a number in mind then you can work from there.

You can’t make up numbers based on what you think people will pay instead of what you need to earn. Money is the one thing people avoid, but once you understand that a number is just a number you can work towards earning that number.

How much it costs to run her businesses and how big her pay cheque needs to be – those are the two numbers that, added together, make up her sales target.

Freedom and comfort comes from knowing your numbers. If you know your numbers and see that you're not hitting them, then you can look and see if you are trying to sell high price items to a market that cannot afford it, etc. so you can determine what exactly is not working.

Know your sales cycles

Have you heard about the hundred percent solution? It goes like this: in your first two years of business you sell to your friends and family and their friends, and then at the end of those two years, your sales stop.  That’s because you made the easiest sales possible—you sold to the 20% of the market that will buy from you now.

In order to succeed, within 1.5 years of selling you have to learn about how the sales cycle and process works, and how to sell to the other 80% of the marketplace. If you don’t, you will fail.

So, what is a sales cycle? Well, think about how many business owners believe a customer when they say they have to 'think it over'? Most think that means they'll never buy, but believe it or not, most customers really do need to think about it. Did you know that 24-36 months after an initial interaction is when 80% of your sales will happen? When you think about the number of people who come back to you a year or so after they are first introduced to your business or product, that's a good demonstration of you sales cycle.

There are generally three steps to a sales process – meet a potential client and follow up with card, go out for coffee, and have a closing conversation. However, people may surprise you and want to meet for coffee and say they are following you online, or met you at a networking event a year or so ago and now they're ready to work with you even though you've never met them—it’s happened to Angela! But to get there you need to do the work because the sales cycle was happening behind the scenes.

It can be discouraging and you may not think anyone is listening to you, but remember the 20% and 80%! Think long term and in two years you will be closing the 80%. Sales isn’t anyone’s job, activity is the job—sales is the result. If you have good marketing activity and get yourself out there then you will make the sale. Just keep in mind that you won’t be a millionaire by midnight.

Keep in touch with past clients

Your next best sale can come from your past clients – they know you and love you and have had a great experience with you, so you should always keep in touch with them—and not in a salesy way. There are all kinds of ways to keep in touch with people, including inviting them to attend events, or just catching up on social media. Make them feel important.

While they may not work with you now, past clients may know someone who would be perfect for you, so keeping those relationships healthy is in your best interest.

Stop doing, start planning

One of the hardest things for business owners, at any level, is the drive to keep doing things. Before you exhaust yourself by doing things that may be futile, remember that the best thing anyone can do is to stop and plan.

Plan your finances – for marketing and your business.

Stop and get advice, so that you’re optimizing your products and business. Business can get expensive, so it’s important to stop running your business and plan what comes next.

 The keys to the kingdom are in planning.

All business owners stumble. Even Angela had to get help with her business; she had almost bankrupted her cleaning business and it took two hard years to turn it around. You have to swallow your pride and ask for help, plan and work. Seek help from the right people – it’s the behind the scenes that can make or break your business.

Leave a comment and tell us what your sales cycle is, or let us know if you have any questions!

#47 – Where to start before starting a business

Are you thinking about starting a business, but have no idea what that really means when it comes to time commitment or how it will fit into your current lifestyle? Pamela Eastwood, owner of By The Horns, a business that helps new business owners get their business off the ground, joins me on the podcast today to discuss what it really means when you say you’re going to start a business. With over eighteen years experience in SME development and franchise ownership, Pamela has a reputation for working with her mind, heart and her gut and has a talent for relating with others. Together we get under the hood to help aspiring business owners figure out as much as they can before launching their business.

Pamela Eastwood

Are you prepared for time management changes?

When you first start out as a business owner you must start with a conversation with your family. A business starts at home. You need to speak with your immediate family to ensure they fully understand your endeavour—they need to understand what they are signing up for, including you working longer hours, adjusting your level of home commitments, and any changing roles within the family. You need to look at your current schedule and then look to see if your tasks can be delegated or if you need to change your schedule around in order to make your business work with your family life.

There is a preconceived notion that being an entrepreneur means you will have more time on your hands, and while this is sometimes the case and it can mean more flexible hours, it also means you may be working more evenings and weekends than you ever did before.

And while you must be aware of the changes in hours and potentially longer hours, you should also keep in mind and discuss the benefits, such as the freedom to accompany your kids on school field trips.

You need to ask yourself and your family: what matters to you as an entrepreneur that will make the not-so good parts worth it?

Are you ready for any financial changes?

In addition to time management and schedules, starting a business impacts a family’s money. Finances is another deciding factor for any big business decision-can you invest in your business financially? Consider everything that you will need to spend money on: marketing, business cards, etc.—can you afford these? If there is a physical product, do you need to spend money on product development, etc.?

For some business owners this means looking into a small business loan, while for others it may mean changing their personal spending habits in order to invest in their business. Are you (and your family) ready for these financial changes?

Do you have any transferable skills?

How do you have to think as an entrepreneur? Pamela runs an assessment with clients to determine their strengths and weaknesses. Everyone has transferable skills that will benefit their business.

For example, are you genuinely the kind of person who can just walk into a room and talk to someone? This is a transferable skill that works well when running a business because it transfers well into sales and marketing, which are essential in running a business.

This also refers to typing, social media, customer services and technological skills. As a business owner you are probably doing a lot of this stuff yourself, unless you have a lot of capital.  So, if you want to sell jewelry you probably don’t have a lot of capital starting out, therefore you have to be honest with yourself and see if you can do it all yourself.

You also need to be honest about your personal assets—are you organized, driven, is your office cluttered? Will this impact the success of your business?

Having a basic understanding of your skill levels from the very start will let you know where you will have to really work at certain areas more than others. If you wait until you are already in business and you have your hands in 10 different pots and are trying to learn these things while running your business, you may be setting yourself up for failure. Try to get enough of a foundation prior to starting your business.

How much money do you need to start?

How much money you need to start a business depends on the type of business you are starting. For example, if you are looking to start a lawn maintenance company, but already have most of the equipment needed then you only need to spend money on registering your business, for office supplies, and perhaps on local marketing and networking. So, this would be about $250 to start to get the word out about your business.

But if you are a baker baking cupcakes then you need money for inventory, inspections, permits, ingredients, a commercial kitchen, etc. There is a longer process to starting and setting up a bakery so you will need more money for that as well as money for office supplies, marketing and advertising.

You need to ask yourself what you need to start your business. If you’re not sure then you can research this through free business resources at the public library, innovation centres and community programs. There are also a lot of social groups that offer free tips and resources.

You can also barter for services—if someone needs a website and you have that skill, offer your skills in exchange for a website. Don’t be afraid to ask! You may be surprised at what you get. Just make sure it is for something you actually want and need—you need to make sure it makes sense for both parties. You want to treat a barter transaction as you would any business transaction.

Are you committed?

Commitment means asking yourself if this is the right time for you and your family—Do you have the flexibility required to make it work? Do you have the money needed to start?

Sometimes you may have the flexibility, but not the money and that means you may need to get a part time job to support your business. This the means you have to commit to setting aside certain days and time to work in and on your business.

Your commitment can vary depending on your situation—if you’re unsure you can commit to a certain period of time, such as three months. Just be sure to discuss this with your family and make sure it works for everyone.

When starting any business, it is important to know your skill sets and assets and then seek out help for the rest. You may want to look at hiring a consultant, such as Pamela, who can help you define the services and customers that are unique to your business.

Then establish early foundations in operations management. This means keeping receipts and invoices organized, get the appropriate processes, etc. Having these in place means you will spend the time working on making your business a success instead of spinning your wheels.

In essence, starting a business takes more than just loving what you do. You need to have make sure everyone close to you is on board, and have the foundation needed to ensure you have everything you need to give your business the best shot.

#46 - Managing your social media while on vacation

How do you manage your social media when you’re on vacation? Blogger and content curator, Rebecca Stanisic, joins me to discuss how you can create a viable social media plan to keep you covered while you are disconnected and away from the office.

rebecca stanisic

Many business owners intend to have a plan for their social media while they are away, but don’t follow through and instead let their social media channels go dark. This is not always ideal.

While vacations are important—disconnecting can be rejuvenating!—it does not have to be detrimental to your business. Think of a vacation as a chance to recharge your batteries, and when you plan ahead it can be stress-free.

So, how can you prevent your social channels from going dark while you're away?

Use a calendar

The first place to start is with a calendar. Have and use an editorial calendar of some sort—it does not have to be day-to-day, but you should still have a calendar you can refer to on a daily basis, even though it may be a calendar that breaks down your content schedule monthly.

Use this calendar to plan out what content you want to post and when you want to post it. When you use and consistently refer to this calendar you get a bigger picture and can see the blocks of time you have devoted to vacation. This will help you plan in advance and work with the goal of meeting deadlines way before your vacation as opposed to last minute. This will reduce stress and allow you to focus.

You need to plan and prepare yourself for the transitional time following a vacation as well—allow time to check email, prepare for meetings, etc. This should all be incorporated into your planning in the weeks (and months) leading up to a vacation.

What this means is that you should prepare and schedule your social media content for before, during and after your vacation to allow for some much needed buffer time.

Schedule Content

While some business owners do not schedule content and prefer to post live, if you know you are going to be unplugged while away then you need to create quality content and schedule it to publish while you are on vacation. 

This could be a timely evergreen piece that relates to the time of year, i.e. if it is over March break, do you have something that relates to this?  The same goes for Christmas and other holidays.

If you are planning on running a special event or sale sometime after you get back from vacation, then you need to think ahead about this as well; and create and schedule content that will build up to this so you are not frantically promoting last minute upon returning from vacation.

Plan your blog posts

If you have a small business blog then you might not need to publish a new blog post on your week away, however if you do need new content or if you owe someone a new post(s) then you need to plan ahead and make sure it is edited and ready to publish while you are away.

When it comes to all online content, the important thing is to be consistent—if your audience expects a blog post or newsletter while you are away then you need to stay consistent. Your content schedule depends on your business as well as your audience.

If you do not want to have your own material publish while you are away, then you can ask guest bloggers to guest post on your blog. Again you will need to plan this in advance and reach out and let them know your expectations, deadlines, etc. 

Let your clients know you will be away

If you regularly take appointments then you need to let your audience know that you will not be taking appointments the week you are away. The sooner you let our audience know, the better. You can do this via your email signature, out of office as well as Facebook messenger and on your website. You do not necessarily have to let your audience know that you are leaving town, just let them know you are unavailable, and if you will or will not be responding to emails.

Get help and set expectations

If you work with a social media manager or virtual assistant then you need to work with them and make sure they are aware of whether or not you are still responding to email or if you are completely off the grid while you are on vacation.

You should also let them know clear deadlines and have clear communication regarding expectations on them while you are away as well as leading up to your vacation.

You should always have someone available to put out your fires while you are away. For example, if you cannot get on your Facebook Page while away, then you should have someone who has the role of Page Admin to access your Page to answer queries, etc. The same applies to your website—have someone who can log in and address any malware issues or other problems.

Logging off and stepping away from your computer is healthy—allow yourself the time to enjoy it! With the proper amount of planning and preparation a week away is not only possible, it can easily become a regular part of your business planning.

How will you get ready for your next time away from your business? Leave a comment and let me know!

#45 - Why you need to build your audience with intention

Before you start asking how to run Facebook ads or a webinar or podcast—you need to ask yourself WHY you are doing these things? More often than not the answer is to generate more sales, but the answer should be more in depth than that.

Yes, you want to make more money, but WHOM do you want to make money from? Who is your target audience? Who are you trying to reach through your podcast, online advertising, etc.?

Build your audience with intention

Once you have narrowed this down then you can work on a plan on how to reach them.

Erin Marshall, of Chameleon Online Business Management, spoke with me about why you need to be intentional when it comes to your audience as well as how to find that audience. Many people start marketing without a plan and this ultimately results in poor sales and frustration.

Why is having an intentional audience important?

Not every marketing tactic works for every audience. Not every audience is keen to sign up and watch a webinar, and not everyone’s audience will respond to Facebook ads.

You need to have a solid idea on how you want your marketing tactics to work. There are many important marketing tools, but just because they work for someone else, does not mean they will work well for your business. When listening to someone else’s podcast, webinar, etc. remember that they created that message for their audience and it may not work as well for yours.

When a business sets up a webinar, it is through careful consideration and work to find out what motivates you—and you are their audience. They worked hard to figure out whom it was they wanted to speak to, how to find you, how to speak to you and how to motivate you to sign up and move forward with them. You need to figure out how you can get your audience just as excited to listen and respond to your messages.

Can you have success with a small mailing list?

You can be successful with a small mailing list or audience, providing those on your list are the right matches for you. You need to narrow down who your ideal client is and build your relationship with them based on what makes them ideal.

When you market to the right people you will see a better return on investment.

The more people who are on your list who are truly not interested may be marking your emails as spam and therefore not even seeing your messages. Wouldn’t you rather be taking the time to create messages for people who are actually interested in what you have to say?

How to have an intentional audience

Create a description about your “Who?”. Make it as in depth as possible. Then write out who you are and what you do. Once you have this you should then work on creating a free value-add, for example a free opt-in that offers a solution of some kind that clearly demonstrates how you can be of help to them. This opt in will encourage people to give you their email address in exchange for something that can help them. You can then nurture these contacts through a sales funnel that will inevitably show potential clients what else you can offer them through more value-added content.

You want to use your sales funnel to build a relationship with your contacts and show them what you have to offer. This sales funnel should lead to your end goal, i.e. a coaching program, an online program, product, etc.

Think of your sales funnel like dating: When you first meet and go out on a date with someone new you are more than likely not going to immediately ask them to marry you—you are going to take the time to get to know them and vice versa. No one likes to commit unless they are sure—this includes investing in a new business or product.

So, how can you get to know your potential clients better and how can you provide potential clients the information they need to get to know you better?

Leave a comment and let me know if you have any other questions and how you're going to be more intentional when it comes to your audience. 

#44 - Entrepreneurs and Confidence

entrepreneurship

Do you feel nervous or uncomfortable about putting yourself out there on social media or at a networking event? How does it make you feel when someone refers to you as an expert or guru? If either of these scenarios makes you want to pull back or hide then it may be time to look at your mindset to see why you are struggling with these.

When we talk about mindset in this context, we are talking about something that you may not be conscious of that is impacting how you behave in your business.  What are your beliefs around visibility, i.e. what makes you afraid to put yourself out there? How are your beliefs impacting your inability to be confident?

Lack of confidence can affect an entrepreneur’s ability to put themselves out there and be visible. Many entrepreneurs hesitate to put themselves out there in video, public speaking or at a networking event because they lack the confidence.

My friend Megan O’Neill is a Core Belief Engineering Practitioner, who has many clients who are entrepreneurs and small business owners—some of whom struggle with confidence. Megan helps them determine why they struggle and what beliefs may be holding them back.

Lack of Confidence and Fearing Judgment

Megan recently spoke with a colleague who hesitates to do any public speaking because she feels she isn’t good enough and needs more training. In Megan’s eye, her colleague was already quite a good public speaker. Her colleague lacks the confidence to do public speaking and that is actually what is holding her back.

Similarly, Megan held back from doing videos for her business because she lacked confidence. She did not want people from her past, i.e. high school classmates to see and potentially judge these videos. Once she overcame this fear, she was able to create regular videos that allow people the opportunity to get to know her thereby helping grow her business.

People hold back because they fear judgment.

Imposter Syndrome

If you are afraid of looking like a fake or a phoney, you believe you are presenting yourself in a certain way that is not true. A lot of people who are extremely talented are, are actually some of the most likely to suffer from imposter syndrome.

You need to ask yourself how many years of experience or education do you need before you allow yourself to be qualified for what it is you do. Once you ask yourself this question you may start to realize there is no magic number, or magic certification... not really. (Though sometimes you really will want to get a piece of paper, that's ok too)

The same falls true for people who come from highly educated parents, they may feel they are not qualified enough because they are not at the same level of education, even though this is simply not true.

People will find ways to justify their fears. They don’t want to use the word expert or guru—but why? What are the beliefs behind not wanting to use these words?

There are old beliefs that you shouldn’t “toot your own horn.” Women in particular hesitate to do this because they fear they will not be liked and will look conceited, which is wrong because you are telling yourself to not be confident.

Imposter syndrome is really common - start to pinpoint where you're feeling stuck so you can start to move past the blocks in your thinking.

Measuring Up to Other People

Have you ever thought, “Who am I to believe I can do this?” This is one way we measure ourselves. We also tend to compare ourselves to other entrepreneurs who may be offering similar services or products. If you suffer from comparing yourself to other people it’s counterproductive. It does not motivate you and in fact, often causes people to pull back.

It is important to remember that the picture you hold of what someone else is doing, i.e. comparing your pricing, is done without knowing the other entrepreneur’s full picture. Maybe their prices do not reflect their reality. Maybe they are not making enough to support their lifestyle. Maybe they want to raise their prices, but are afraid to!

If you look at someone else, it is easy to fall into the trap of comparing.

Take Facebook for example, if you look at someone’s Facebook page you will think they are living the picture perfect life, and this can make you feel bad about your own life, even though it may not be that person’s true reality. People get caught up in artificial perceptions.

How Beliefs Affect Us

It comes down to how people value themselves—their self-worth. We are culturally taught to not value ourselves. Once you start to value yourself and look at what you bring to the table it can be a game-changer.

When you are a business owner or a solopreneur, you are IT! Go big or go home! Value your talents, your time and how you look and present yourself. You need to put yourself out there, so why not have the confidence to do so?

Become aware of your beliefs. Awareness is the first step to changing your negative beliefs. Notice and become aware of where your blocks are—write them down. If you are not taking action on something ask yourself why that is? What is holding you back? What part of you doesn’t want to do it?

Once you figure out these blocks ask yourself how you can change your mindset around these blocks. Can you talk it out with a friend or someone who is supportive of you and your entrepreneurial journey?

How can you change your change your mindset and be confident? And if that isn't working, book a call with Megan because she can help you dig down into the unconscious beliefs that can be hard to target on our own.

#43 Planning for 2017

Can you believe it's almost 2017? Tomorrow is December 1st and I'll admit that yet again, another year has flown by faster than I could have imagined!

Today on the podcast I'm sharing tips on how to start planning for 2017. I think planning is SO important - I run a planning day every year for other business owners and I also make sure I plan out my own year.  In addition to sharing my own tips, I also asked some fellow female entrepreneurs how they prepare for the new year.

Susan Murphy, Jester Creative

planning for 2017

Susan Murphy has co-run a digital media production company, Jester Creative, for many years. She believes wrapping up the previous year is just as important as preparing for the new year; including getting caught up on expenses, closing your books and cleaning up your electronic files. She believes making sure things are organized and cleaned up make it easier to start with a clean slate in the new year.

The other thing Susan does to plan for the new year is to think about her three words for the next year. Chris Brogan started the idea of coming up with three defining words for the new year. Susan believes this is important because it helps you align yourself and your goals for the next year.

Gini Dietrich, Arment Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a digital marketing communications firm based in Chicago. She plans ahead for her business by reserving one day a week to work on her business rather than in it. People wonder how she is able to accomplish so much – and setting aside a day a week is how she does it. When she tells people this they often wonder how she is able to do that and come up with excuses as to why they could never take a day off to work on their business! Gini believes, "either you can make excuses or you can move your business forward quickly."

Her company also use the EOS model outlined in the book Traction. This plan makes it easy for businesses to set for their big plan and then break it down to smaller rocks for easier execution. Gini started this in 2014 and continues to out sell and out profit the previous year. For Gini, "planning success for the following year is ridiculously fun!"

Maggie Patterson, Scoop Industries

Maggie Patterson is the Chief Marketing Officer at Scoop Industries and she believes on getting clear on what your goals are before planning anything. Maggie believes if you work on a business where you are getting external inputs all the time it can be easy to lose sight of your own goals, so getting clear on your personal and professional goals and what is important to you and your business is necessary.

Maggie's second tip is to not feel pressured to do everything right away. Remember it is a whole year process, so break it down into 12 week chunks. Why? Because things change and this adds a more dynamic and flexible way of reaching your goals and also helps with procrastination. Maggie also thinks business owners need to write it down and make it real – and not just in a Google Doc. Write it down where you can see it and track it.

Lara Wellman

I believe it is really important for you to know what you want your life to look like. What kind of hours do you want to work and not work? How much time do you want to take off for vacations, etc.? How much money do you want to make? Once you are clear on these questions you can then plan your business goals around them. What is it you value? How can you can incorporate those into your business?

And finally, make sure to do regular brain dumps! Every time you have an idea write it down – in a journal or on a Post-It note! This will help you to sort your ideas and prioritize them where you're doing the detailed planning and putting things into your calendar.

How do you plan for the new year? Have you considered participating in a planning day with other determined entrepreneurs and business owners?

#42 - What you need to do to legally run a business in Ontario

Megan Cornell, a business lawyer here in Ottawa with Momentum Business Law joins me on the podcast this week to talk about what you need to do to legally run a business. The topic of business and law is a robust one, so Megan answered three of the most common questions she hears from business owners. While Megan operates her firm in Ontario, what she shares is generally applicable across Canada.

Do I need to incorporate my business?

If you are operating a business or are just starting a business and are thinking of incorporating, the first step is to talk to your accountant. Incorporating means your taxes will be separate from your own, personal taxes. If your personal tax situation is one in which it makes more sense for you to be a sole proprietor then it makes more sense for you to not incorporate rather than have an entirely separate sets of tax returns and financial statements, which would mean more fees.

If your accountant thinks incorporating is a good idea then you will want to talk to a business lawyer about what needs to be done to incorporate.

If you are in a business where you think there needs to be some distance between you and your client base in terms of liability, then you may want to look into incorporating. For example, a restaurant owner should probably incorporate because there is a lot of liability risk associated with owning a restaurant. The same would go for a white water rafting business, where you have an elevated risk of being sued.

The warning Megan always gives regarding incorporating, is this: as a small business you are usually responsible for any debts of the incorporation, so if you are entering into a lease for a store front, for example, the landlord or bank will probably ask you to personally guarantee the lease. You will not be able to protect yourself financially from these risks through incorporating (many people think incorporating will do this).

There is a lot of homework to be done before you decide to incorporate, and before deciding you should know what you will be able to protect yourself against from that  incorporation and what you will not be able to protect yourself from.

Do I need to register my business within a certain jurisdiction (i.e., Ontario) to carry on business there?

If you have a store front or sales people within a certain jurisdiction or if carry on a great deal of your business within a certain province then you probably need to register your business in that specific province. In some provinces this is easy to do whereas in others it is not. In Ontario it is easy and it is free (yay!). The province wants (and needs) to know about your business because they want to collect provincial taxes from you.

If you are an online business you do not need to register in every province. If you are thinking that because you have one person in Nova Scotia who you do business with that you have to register there, you are probably wrong. If you aren’t sure, ask your business lawyer. They will look at many factors, including physical presence within that province, the amount of business being done there, etc.

You can register your business at a provincial and a federal level.

Do I need to register my business name?

The Business Names Act is an act within Ontario, and likewise in other provinces, that was created so the public knows who they are interacting with. If a business, incorporated or not, has a name for their business that is held out to the public, then you are required to register that name. To not do so is an offense.

It costs $60 to register your business name and it is good for five years. You can have ten business names registered to any one person. There is almost no vetting of these business names. People can object to them i.e., if there is a business name similar to your own, but for the most part you can have many similar business names registered within a province.

Keep in mind that registering your name is not registering your business. One is about telling the public who they are dealing with and the other is about collecting taxes.

There are a lot of different pieces to lawfully run a business. If you have more questions, book a consultation appointment with Momentum today.

Resources & Links

Momentum Business Law

Book a consultation with Megan's law firm

Ontario business name registrations

NUANS Search (can be an easy way to check if your name, or a similar name, is registered)

Trademark Search (even if you don’t plan to trademark your name in the near future, it is a GOOD idea to check if someone else has already!)

Some helpful blog posts from Megan:

If you are thinking about incorporation – making the decision between a Provincial and a Federal incorporation:

http://momentum.law/blog-content/2015/10/6/the-quick-dirty-federal-vs-provincial-ontario-incorporation

How to protect your business name:

http://momentum.law/blog-content/2015/9/15/how-to-protect-your-name

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

 

#41 - The Intersection point of business and charity

Jenny Mitchell is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) who empowers and educates fundraising professionals to make more money for their organizations through workshops and online training programs. She joined me on the podcast to share the value in businesses getting involved with charitable organizations.

Together we debunked myths that business owners aren’t charitable. Charities sometimes approach business owners with the wrong ask, but when a business owner approaches the right charity – great things can happen!

Sponsorship and marketing

Sponsorship is a business decision that comes out of a marketing budget. So, when investing in a sponsorship opportunity, charitable or otherwise, it is normal for a business to look at the return on investment. That could be potential buyers they will be in front of or visibility of their logo. It’s Jenny’s job to make sure charities understand the marketing value of the sponsorship opportunities they offer to make sure it is a good fit with a business, i.e. you don’t want a toy store investing in sponsoring a beer tent at a charity event because it probably isn’t a good fit for their charitable dollars. From a business point of view, you need to think about what a good charity for your business will be as well.

How to get involved with the RIGHT charity for your business

Be clear about who your target audience is

When looking at getting involved with a specific charity, ask yourself about your target audience: what do they do in their spare time – what do they care about? The key is to find an organization that speaks to your client’s values as well as your business’ values.

Create a partnership

Instead of doing one-off sponsorships, look at charitable organizations that speak to you on a higher level and that you could create a partnership with.  Find a way to partner with them for mutual advantage – so it is beneficial for both parties and it will be a long term relationship; this creates more measurable experiences to ensure everyone is getting what they need and what they want.

Think about why you are getting involved

Showing your social responsibility and value to your investors and stakeholders as well as employee engagement could all be reasons why you are getting involved with a certain charity. If you want to show your employees appreciation you could align your business with a charity that would create a deeper relationship for everyone.

Remember: Bigger is not necessarily better

Don’t think you have to go big when it comes to charity involvement – the bigger the sponsorship dollars the longer it will take to confirm and get sign off on, whereas smaller means you can get creative and if you are a small business you may be able to get creative in your offerings i.e., offer your business space for a board meeting. If you want to get involved with a charity, but are not sure how simply reach out and have a conversation with them.

Open the lines of communication

Don’t wait until a sponsorship is up for renewal, engage with charities and get to know them more intimately from the very start – it will result in maximum impact for both parties.

Close the loop

In the modern world of social media, why not announce to the charity via Twitter or that you are donating proceeds from a business engagement or sale to them. This is a part of closing the loop – the second part would be to follow up with those who participated in the event to let them know you donated and the final tally or result. People crave connection and those who know they helped a charity want to know about it.

Volunteer

There are two kinds of volunteers – the burger flippers, who are the people who like to show up to a charitable event and participate and help out, and then there are the strategic planners, those who like to lean in at a board meeting and sit and contribute their thoughts.

Know which kind of volunteer you are and know that both are needed and wanted. If you show up you will be noticed and appreciated.

How to get started with a charity

If you want to meaningfully contribute to a charity then chose a charitable organization near and dear to your heart. As a business owner, think about if there is a place you can contribute your skills and experience.  What do you want to do? Who do you want to help? How can you help?

Research, reach out, and then schedule a meeting and get to know them and see if they will be a good fit. Take your favourite charity out for a date and see if they like the same kinds of things you do and then see if there is a way you can help them that would be mutually beneficial.

Volunteering and charity work should be a positive experience. 

Resources & Links

Jenny's web site

Blog post: Vikings, pirates and sponsors

Blog post: 5 tips for getting your board "on board" with sponsorship

 

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

#40 - An update on my business

There have been a lot of changes in my business over the last while and as a marketing expert I have been woefully unclear about what I do and who I do it for, so I took some time to record a short podcast that talks about where I came from in my business, how I came to make some changes, as well as my current business focus. So many exciting changes!

These show notes are a bit different than most because I'm not going to simply recap what I said in the show but share the same news in a different way - you may want to read and listen both! :D

In the beginning

When I started my business I wasn't sure what I was doing. I was experimenting and I was doing things simply because I felt there was a need. I'm sure many of you can relate. 

The first thing I did was run some Twitter workshops - they were for 3-5 people, usually in a local coffee shop and cost about $20. They were a lot of fun and from there I started expanding. I started writing strategies for small businesses and running more workshops to help people learn how to use marketing tools. 

In the middle

Then I formed a partnership with Karen Wilson. We were Wellman Wilson Consulting for three years and it was fabulous. We worked with bigger organizations, we spoke at conferences, we put together all kinds of online learning. But as many things do, business started to shift and change again, and we decided to part ways, leaving me open for a new direction once again.

Time for a change

I started The Biz Studio Facebook group and started reaching out beyond marketing. I ran a 2016 planning day, I started my first paid Mastermind program, and more and more I realized I was coaching far beyond the scope of just marketing. I decided I wanted to formalize those skills and this summer I was certified with the Professional Business Coach Alliance of Canada.

The certification process was amazing and reinforced that I was on exactly the right path!

What I do now

So what comes next? I'm rebranding my business, and probably this podcast, over the next few months. I will officially be The Biz Studio because my passion is creating community and opportunities for small business owners to find the support they need, and that's more than just me a lot of the time!

I'm running Masterminds regularly (I have a few spots left in my 3 month program that launches at the end of October!) and I'm focusing on in person workshops and a lot of one-on-one coaching. Marketing is always going to be part of what I do because it's what I have focused my career on for the last 15 years, but now I also have a great toolbox at my disposal to help with sales, mission and vision, key performance indicators, exit strategies and really - so much more!

Keep your eyes open for more changes as they trickle in. And if you're ready to start getting support with your business, whether through a Mastermind group or one-on-one coaching, book a consultation with me - I'd love to talk and see if The Biz Studio is the right fit for you!

#39 - Strategizing the Tech Side of Digital Marketing

This week I am speaking with Erin Marshall, who is an online business manager. She spends her days implementing sales funnels and email marketing plans for business owners. She is also very good at the technical side of things and is affectionately known as a “Tech Wizard” and “Tech Fairy.” In my Facebook community she is often called upon to answer technical questions – especially as it relates to marketing and online tools. It is with this in mind that we sat down to discuss what every business owner needs in terms of technology in order to succeed.

What are you trying to achieve?

techfairy

Firstly, a business owner needs to figure out what kind of content they are going to be sharing: will they be publishing a podcast every week or will they be producing videos? The tools that are best for one business owner depends on what content they plan on producing, and the content they are producing should be inline with their ultimate business goal.

This same applies to marketing tools: what does your e-marketing plan look like? And your sales funnel? What is it you are trying to sell and how do you plan on enticing people to opt in and enter your sales funnel?

What about eBooks? Do you plan on writing one? Or e-courses? How will they be delivered – via email or membership site?

Once you have written down what your business will look like in terms of how you will market it, deliver content and deliver the products or services you are selling this will determine your technological needs.

Always know your end goal before you invest in a program or software. Get down to the nuts and bolts as to how you are going to achieve your end goal, or you may end up investing in the wrong tool.

Think big, start small

You do not need the same programs or tools as bigger businesses. As an example, business owners will often ask their business coach or mentor what email program they use, and they are often using Infusionsoft or Ontraport as their email-marketing tool. What the small business owner may not realize is that it is common for these same business coaches and mentors to have huge mailing lists of 50,000 to 100,000 people! In comparison, many small business owners or people just starting out in business have little to no mailing list and do not need to invest in these robust programs.  They could instead use a free program, such as MailChimp and then as their needs grow they can then look at a bigger email-marketing program that includes campaigns and more robust automation features.

It’s important to know that you can always invest and transfer over your marketing lists later, as your business grows. There is no need to needlessly spend thousands of dollars on a tool that is not needed when you are just starting out.

There are always free or less expensive programs that are ideal for businesses and entrepreneurs just starting out. This also includes membership programs – instead of investing in a robust membership site, why not just create a page within your website that is password protected or delivered by email?  If you are not making a lot of money when you first start then don’t spend more then you are making. Wait until you need a more robust program before you start paying for it; otherwise you will be spending all of your profits on one program!

Where should you be spending the money?

Instead of spending money on programs and tools you don’t need, spend the money on people who can support your business and have expertise in the tools and programs you need to grow your business. Their knowledge and experience will pay for itself by letting you focus on your business and not leaving you frustrated trying to learn a new program and make it work for your business.

Programs and tools do not have to be super complicated. Just because you use inexpensive or free marketing or sales tools, doesn’t mean you are not getting a quality tool! As long as the end result is polished and professional then your clients, audience or target audience will not care If the tool you’re using is costing you $10 a month or $1000 a month.

Thanks for joining me on the podcast Erin!  Erin has generously offered listeners of the podcast a half price strategy session. You can book below in the resource links by using the discount code listed. I wish you all good luck setting up fabulous online technical systems - Erin is who I call to help me figure out mine!

#38 - Should we be Facebook Friends?

On today’s podcast I am speaking with Elizabeth Salazar, owner of Get Visible Marketing. Elizabeth helps female entrepreneurs launch online products or courses with a core focus on marketing. We know Facebook is a powerful marketing tool, but sometimes we forget (or maybe don’t know!) that our personal profile is also an important Facebook marketing tool.

How to market yourself through your personal profile

Elizabeth Salazar

When you are marketing your business organically on Facebook i.e., by engaging in Facebook Groups, etc. then this is an important issue because more often than, not clients and potential clients will send you a Facebook friend request.

You need to know what they're going to be finding when they click through to check you out. The first step is to check the info section of your personal profile. Don’t just check it from your point of view – view your timeline from the public’s point of view as well. Also, make sure people don’t have to click “About” to see more about you. Make sure the link to your Business Page or website is on the public version of your personal profile. The key is to make it as easy as possible for people to find out what you do and then take the next step to learn even more.

Why would someone want to see my personal profile?

Whether you accept everyone’s friend request or not - your personal profile is the first entry into your sales funnel. When people from a Facebook Group click your personal profile they are not trying to creep you, they are simply trying to figure out who you are, what the name of your business is, and what services or products you offer.

Keep your title simple and to the point – don’t call yourself something too ambiguous, but do have your business title and a link to your business page easy to find. People do not want to be clicking around to find out more information about you.

Should you be Facebook friends with people you are not really friends with?

If you want to – why not?

If you have a Facebook Group you may want to “friend” the members of your group so you can message them directly, without Facebook Messenger filtering them. 

There is a huge potential to building relationships with people on Facebook using your personal profile. Depending on what you post on Facebook, your content allows potential clients to get to know you better and the more you engage with them on a personal level the more they will get to know and trust you; and the more likely Facebook is to show your content to those on your friend’s list – just be careful not to discuss too much business on your personal profile because Facebook could flag your profile as being used inappropriately (business talk is for your Business Page or Group).

Let potential clients get to know you better by posting relatable content. Just remember that although there are people on Facebook who may never post or engage in your Facebook Groups, etc. they may still be seeing and paying attention to your content, so always maintain a level of professionalism that is in line with your business goals.

How can I control my personal Facebook content for clients?

You can segment your Facebook friends into lists. You can segment family, friends, clients, professional acquaintances, etc. into separate lists. So, you can segment content you publish on Facebook based on who (or which list) you want to see it or not see it. You can then put something up just for your closer friends, or put something up that just goes to your business acquaintances.

How you sort your friends list is entirely up to you and how comfortable you are with sharing your personal and public life on Facebook.

What if I am nervous about opening my Facebook Page to everyone? 

If you absolutely do not want to share your personal Facebook page then completely lock it down and keep it private - that's a personal choice that is completely OK. Instead invite clients and fans to go to your Business Page or Group and try to relate and create content there that makes you relatable and shows your more-human side. You don’t have to open your personal page if you don’t want to – there are other ways to market yourself and your business.

I’d like to learn more!

Elizabeth runs a marketing Facebook Group called, “Marketing your Business Mastermind.” It’s for service based businesses online who need help marketing themselves. There is a free weekly mastermind where Elizabeth and group members talk about a specific subject for 45 minutes – just so people know they are not alone in the roller coaster of business. There are also threads with information and feedback, as well as training available to business owners looking for more help.

#37 - Is mindset affecting your business

Today I am talking to Certified Core Belief Engineering Practitioner, Megan O’Neill who works with entrepreneurs and small business owners about their mindset and their relationships with their spouse, clients and even money.

mindset

What is mindset?

Mindset is a system of beliefs. It is what you believe, and what you believe creates your reality. Think of it as the lenses through which you see the world. If you have clean, fresh glasses through which to see life then your overall view of things is going to be clearer and better.

How do beliefs impact us?

We all have different beliefs that impact us in different ways. With entrepreneurship, one area of beliefs that affects us has to do with visibility – whether that is public speaking, networking or putting something on Facebook for fear that they will be seen as a fraud.

Women entrepreneurs in particular suffer from a fear of looking foolish or as a failure and that is a block to success. It is these blocking beliefs that stop us from fulfilling our personal and business goals. 

Where do your beliefs come from?

Oftentimes this block comes from their childhood. We are born with innate beliefs that are pure and uninfluenced. Our beliefs then start to form through our contact with our parents, school, etc.

What are common blocking beliefs for entrepreneurs?

There are many blocking beliefs that can impact an entrepreneur, but here are some:

1) Charging your worth – a lot of women hesitate to charge their rate or hesitate to invoice their clients and end up doing a lot of work for too little money. They are afraid what their clients will think once they send that invoice.

2) Visibility - as mentioned above, entrepreneurs often hesitate to put themselves out there and promote themselves. For example, if your parents told you to be modest and not talk about yourself then as an adult you will be hesitant to talk about yourself – even though it is necessary to talk about yourself when marketing and promoting your business. This belief needs to be changed in order to be successful in business.

3) Fear of failure - This is commonly around the word “expert”. No one wants to use the word “expert” because they feel like a fraud.

A lot of entrepreneurs struggle with their beliefs around success. Success with women often seems to have a negative connotation associated with being ruthless, selfish and not have enough time for their children and spouse – even though this is not the case at all. 

So, even though a woman wants to make more money and bring their business to the next level, they fear doing so because of the negative connotations associated with success. These beliefs have no value and are often not real. Megan works with people to show people how these beliefs are affecting their life and business and that once you work through these beliefs you will be able to grow your business and make more money.

How do you recognize that you have blocking beliefs?

Often times an outside person points it out, such as a business coach or mastermind group who instruct someone to do something, but the person hesitates to do it or perhaps it comes to pay bills and see there is nothing in their bank account.

When we feel embarrassment or uncomfortable we consciously know we are feeling this and sometimes we begin to question why we are feeling this way.

If there are steps an entrepreneur is supposed to take, but can’t for some illogical reason then they have blocking beliefs. If the roadmap to success is right before them, but they delay doing it, then it has nothing to do with laziness or being too busy, and it more than likely has to do with a belief.

Are beliefs changeable?

Absolutely. We change our beliefs all the time, but the bigger beliefs are harder to change. A CBE practitioner gets clients to see where their beliefs are and become aware of their beliefs; their blindspots. This recognition is invaluable. Once you have this you can work with them, move forward and create new beliefs.

Those who have trouble changing these beliefs are the ones Megan works with. Megan digs deep, deep, deep into a person’s subconscious to see what is impacting your beliefs.

We all have different beliefs, but when these beliefs prevent you from achieving the business you have always wanted then it may be time to work through those beliefs.

#36 – Social Media in 23 minutes

Dan McCue of Grinnell Mutual has worked with multi-channel marketing campaigns for over a decade. He uses social media to help businesses be successful, break down roadblocks, and build relationships.

Dan recognizes that there is a fear of 'missing out' among businesses when it comes to social media. They know they have to use it, but either don’t understand it or fear it because they don’t think they have the time needed to be successful with it. Businesses have to overcome this fear and be willing to be in the same online space as their audience. They need to also understand their clientele and understand what it is they need. The better you know the objectives of your business, the more you will be able to tell your story online.

Dan shares the strategy he figured out for himself and to help his clients in this episode - a strategy that is manageable and doable.

Make a plan

In order to have a solid social media plan, you must first know who your audience is and where they are online. For example, Dan’s customers sell peace of mind and risk management. To help them understand their audience he works with messaging that will help build on their relationships with their audience. The idea is to effectively reach your niche audience by using what you already know about them.

As part of Dan’s work he keeps an ear to best practices as it pertains to the insurance industry (his niche market). He encourages people to look for the white papers within a person’s industry and research what they are doing and who their audience is.

Break it down

Social media is already there and waiting for us, we are not responsible for the algorithm behind it; we just have to play to its preferences.

Break down your industry’s best practices and see where like-minded businesses are spending their time online. For example, with insurance it is Facebook, LinkedIn and then Email marketing. Dan then looked at how much staff insurance companies are using and how much time they spend on social media compared to other marketing channels. 

Once you know how much time and money is spent on social media, you may come to realize that you don’t need a person to work on social media marketing full time and that in fact, it may only take 23 minutes a day (in his industry that's what the successful businesses were doing broken down into a daily amount)! It could be done by you throughout the day in five to ten minute chunks – morning, noon and evening. 

Stay on task

The key is to avoid the rabbit hole and stay on task. Have your game plan and check list and as you do those things check them off and then sign off. For insurance agents, the goal is to publish every day. So to make content posting easier, Dan took a look at other insurance carriers to see what content they were posting. The idea is to look for content that matches your story that you could perhaps share on your social channels. This will also reinforce a sense of community between like-minded businesses.

How can you find content on a regular basis that will speak to your audience?

Maintain relationships

Who is talking to you?

Respond to comments and private messages and continue those dialogues as much as possible. The expectation in the U.S. dictates that people will respond to online messages within an hour, but in reality it is closer to one day and 40% of those posts or messages never receive a reply, but if you break up your time to 5 minutes, three times a day you are allowing yourself the time to read and respond as needed and within a reasonable amount of time.

By creating a plan and following it you can eliminate overwhelm and find success with social media. Instead of feeling like you don't know where to start, you have an action plan that helps you know that you will be putting aside short blocks of time three times a day to share, engage and build relationships with the key audiences you want to work with.

How would you break down the time you spend online to make it feel more manageable? Leave a comment or come and share in the Biz Studio

Resources & Links

Connect with Dan McCue on LinkedIn

Subscribe on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

#35 – Blogging for Business

Maggie Patterson is the chief marketing officer at Scoop Industries. She works with female entrepreneurs and online businesses helping them grow their business. She’s passionate about women taking control of their economic reality. Maggie believes blogging is a great place for business owners to market themselves and support their business goals.

Why should a business owner have a blog?

Business owners need a blog to speak to the people who want to do business with them. A business blog is a business owner’s opportunity to speak to the pain points of their customers.

Do you have to blog every day?

You can blog every day, but writing and posting a blog post is about 70% of the puzzle – the other part is getting it seen and shared. You want your great content to be read (and not just about your mom), so you need to not only publish it, but also promote it!

What’s a common business blog mistake?

A common mistake business owners make is starting to blog way too late in the process. If you’re going to blog there should be a strategy behind it that is supporting your business goals. So, if you have a goal to grow your product revenue in your shop by 10%, then your blog should support that goal with relevant content.

If you aimlessly write blog posts, chances are you will end up frustrated and unsure of whom you are talking to. Get clear on your goals and your audience before you start writing content for your website - this betters your chances of creating content that resonates with readers.

What are the steps to starting a business blog?

Before getting into content, you:

1)   Know who you are writing for! Who are your target audience? Who is your ideal client? Find out what they are motivated by, what is going on and what are they thinking about? You can find this out by talking to current clients and finding out more about them.

2)   Plan to be consistent with your content. You have a better chance of being memorable if you have a steady set of values that shines through your blog posts. Why are people seeking out the information they are? Remember what you’re selling and write about that and explain to your reader how you can help them.

You can even start with the questions your clients commonly have for you or the obstacles you regularly face in your business. This also makes sure your content has longevity and continually sharable.

3)   Establish your goal. Before you start writing ask yourself: why are you blogging? What are your goals for your blog and your business? And then keep this mind when producing content for your website.

What is a common blogging roadblock for business owners?

Business owners worry they don’t have anything worthy to say. They question their authority on subjects, but you know more than you think you know. Have confidence!

Don’t think of your blog as just a written form. Think of it visually as well, use headings, subheadings and engaging signature images. These extra touches will make your blog post stand out that much more.

Remember that people need text to be broken up and easy to skim. The more condensed text you have, the less likely people are to read it.

Most people are not writers, but unless you are in a super technical field or super professional you do not need to have highbrow writing. While you should always proof read and spell check, feel free to use simple language. People do no have time to look up word definitions.

You don’t have to find your voice – you just have to turn it on!

You can also outsource your writing or editing – even if it is just a second set of eyes to read what you have written to avoid mistakes (but they happen – no one is perfect!).

#34 - Outsource Your Summer

This isn't the first time I have mentioned the importance of outsourcing and how hiring a virtual assistant can grow your business. Summer is the perfect time to take a closer look at the tasks you can outsource, and to help you with this I brought back my virtual assistant, Tracy Noble of Virtual Office Resources, to once again chat about how you can get started outsourcing for your business.

Why Outsource this Summer?

Outsource this summer

If you find yourself working late nights or on holidays instead of enjoying this beautiful weather or time with your family then it may be time to look into hiring a virtual assistant and outsourcing those tasks that are keeping you at your computer late into the night.

Summer is a short season; you should be outside enjoying it and not worrying about how you will get everything done.

What tasks can you outsource?

You can outsource just about anything in your business! Virtual assistants are no longer just administrative assistants! Many offer administrative services as well as social media marketing services, email marketing services, graphic design, technical assistance and so much more! 

The key is to make a list of the tasks you need done and then decide how much you can afford or want to spend on outsourcing those tasks. Qualified and experienced virtual assistants offer competitive rates. 

Start small when working with a virtual assistant! Summer is a perfect time to experiment with what tasks you are comfortable outsourcing. Some ideas are: your social media posting, email newsletter writing, editing or scheduling, sales page creations, webinar set up and maintenance - any tasks that will free up time to get you outside. 

How do you find a virtual assistant?

If you are an entrepreneur or business owner chances are there is someone in your network that is working with a great virtual assistant, so ask around in Facebook Groups, Mastermind Groups, and anywhere else you can think of. Chances are someone is working with a great virtual assistant and will happily recommend them.

Otherwise you can submit a RFP or search the membership databases on various virtual assistant associations such as the International Virtual Assistants Association (IVAA).

Do you have to hire a virtual assistant full time?

Absolutely not. While some virtual assistants only accept clients on a contractual basis, some are more than willing to complete a one-off project for you (such as writing content for your website) or if you only want to outsource one task, for example your weekly or monthly newsletter - you can do that too! When you are looking at working with a virtual assistant be clear on what it is you want to outsource and ask as many questions as it takes to be comfortable working with them.

What will you outsource this summer? Is it time to get started? Leave me a comment and let me know!

#33 - Crowdfunding for small business: The what, the why and the how

This week's podcast guest is Eden Spodek. Eden owns her own company that provides digital communications services including content development and execution, coaching and assistance with crowdfunding campaigns.

What is crowdfunding?

According to Google, crowdfunding is: “the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via the Internet.”

Together Tales – A Crowdfunding Success Story

Eden Spodek crowdfunding

Eden has worked with quite a few companies to help them raise funds with crowdfunding bit Together Tales was the first one and it was a resounding success.

The founder of a new product approached Eden about six months before the product’s launch looking for someone who was interested in working with him to get the word out about his product: a personalized interactive print book that incorporates real world activities and gaming.

Eden helped him with every aspect of the product promotion. He had done research on crowdfunding and knew exactly what he needed in terms of building the right team and sought out different people whose skill sets would work well together. So, they had a web developer, graphic designer, etc.  and everyone had a stake in the success of this product.

By crowdfunding and setting up a campaign that was well planned out, he was able to get the funds to produce his product: Together Tales!

Ways to use crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding does not only have to be for the production of a physical product. If you are a small business owner, you may need crowdfunding for cause marketing or to bring a community together to raise funds for a family going through a difficult time and may need financial assistance. 

You can also use crowdfunding for “backers” so filmmakers and artists can find financial support to create a film or to sustain them while they finish a novel. The Veronica Mars movie is a great example of this.

If you are a writer or podcaster look at a platform like Patreon, which helps artists find funds so they can keep working on a project. You can commit certain funds to a specific project i.e., if I continue to create a podcast you will give me $10 each time I do so, etc. You can subscribe to these services, so for example I used to subscribe to Walk on the Earth so every time they released a new song I would donate one dollar to them.

Crowdfunding is not all about raising funds to see your passion product become a reality, but sometimes it’s about raising awareness about a product or service. Either a business needs the funds or they need the public relations – and sometimes they need both.

You may even see a crowdfunding project on a product that is already on store shelves, if so it is definitely a part of a public relations campaign.

How to get started crowdfunding

As the founder and heart and soul of the project, you need to be completely dedicated, for the funding and follow through of the project. It takes a lot of planning and time – you should start building your community about six months before launching your crowdfunding campaign.

Your ideal target is to raise 30% of your funding target within the first 48 hours of the campaign launch. You have to make an effort to be present and engaged during the campaign. You need to make those relationships happen and nourish them in order for your campaign to be successful.

You will also need an email list that complies with CASL or the anti-spam laws in your country because in the first 72 hours these contacts will be the bread and butter of your campaign.

How important is video?

You have 10-15 seconds in your video to engage the viewer in a video and this video is what can capture people’s attention, so make it great! The video should be polished to build people’s confidence in you. Show as much as your product or service as much as possible in order to make it more tangible for viewers. And again, this needs to be planned and created well before the launch.

Crowdfunding Basics

Have a plan, a realistic goal, and have 1/3 of your funding accounted for before you launch your campaign – meaning you have engaged with these people in some way and got as close to a guarantee as possible prior to launching. The quicker you can raise those funds the more people you will reach organically through the platform you are using. The campaigns most likely to succeed typically have raised a lot of money in the 48-72 hours.

You can also use perks or rewards to encourage funding; incentives that will encourage people to contribute and build momentum. A print of artwork, t-shirts, etc. that speak to the cause, service or product that money is being raised for.

It doesn’t have to be a tangible item, but it could be the promise of keeping them informed throughout the campaign, etc. Sometimes this will give people the chance to increase their contribution, which is important for campaigns like Kickstarter where you have to raise your entire goal or you get nothing. You can also offer rewards based on contribution levels, including offering only one of something special for a large contribution you set before you launch i.e., a signed something or tickets to something, etc.

Crowdfunding, with proper planning and execution, can be a great way to raise money in or for your business. Would you consider it?

#32 Getting visible with media, traditional and new

Christy Laverty joined me last fall on one of my first podcasts and I invited her back to discuss how to get in front of traditional media using new media. Christy has worked in the media and knows how it works. She offers some great media insights and tips to help business owners make the right moves to get media attention. So, how can you get the attention of traditional media?

Be visible

Christy Laverty Media Attention for Your Biz

Getting in front of the media ups your visibility, but in order for the media to find you, you must be visible. How can you be visible? Get online. For example, a social space like Twitter is a great place to build your know, like and trust factor – especially with reporters and journalists who are also on spaces like Twitter. Journalists and editors are online and they are reading and following. So, the more online you are, the more visible you are, and the more likely you are to be featured in traditional media.

Engage and ask

Have you ever wondered why one person always gets featured in the media? That person is always on TV or the radio talking about something you could easily talk about too? That person is probably more visible online and they probably asked to be there. You have to build relationships with traditional media through new media by engaging with them and making your message clear. Producers and editors are constantly looking for ideas and want people to purpose ideas, so get out there and don’t hesitate to present your ideas to traditional media. Newsrooms are doing more with less and appreciate help creating content - just ask!

Branch out

Don’t stick with just one online space – guest blog or be a guest on podcasts. Know the content, know the audience and see where you can branch out. The more out there you are, the more you prove yourself as an expert in what it is you do. Then, build your list of traditional media using social networks. Twitter is a great place to build your list. Create a spreadsheet or list of media you would like to be featured on then listen and watch their content and find the right fit for you.

Can it be done alone?

If you are a solopreneur or small business a PR agency can cost a lot of money, which can be hard on your budget. Yes, a PR company can do the work for you, but you also have to take the time to teach them about your business and what it is you want to say through the media. Also, the contacts belong to the PR company, not you… so, by doing it yourself you are building valuable relationships you can call your own. It will take time and work, but the key is to use social media and focus on media relations. Make contacts, add journalists, editors, etc. and focus on them – listen, retweet and share their content. This is making effective use of your time online. If you don’t have time, consider hiring a virtual assistant to help build your media contacts and relationships. These relationships will be yours and yours alone to do with as you will.

You know what message you want to put out there, so start by taking the time to build your media relationships online and work your way into their content. That way when you are ready to pitch them they will know who you are and are more likely to feature you and your business.

 

If you struggle with finding the right media contacts or can’t seem to focus on the right media strategy or plan, Christy has a great Facebook Group that helps entrepreneurs approach the media. She discusses how to contact them (remember, they are people too!) and what to say to convince them that your message should be in front of their audience.

#31 - Getting More Traffic Using Pinterest

Pinterest is touted as being the "catalog of ideas," but a lot of business owners struggle to see their place (and purpose) amongst the plethora of recipes and birthday party ideas found on Pinterest. Katrina Thom, from Thinking Outside the Sandbox (TOSS) Network, joins me to discuss why Pinterest is more than just pinning things you like, but that you can (and should) use it as part of your online marketing strategy.

Why pay attention to Pinterest?

Getting more traffic with Pinterest

Katrina believes business owners should be paying attention to Pinterest as much as they are any other social network. Pinterest is a free platform that has millions of users, it’s free and it drives traffic to your content – especially blog content.

The average user is mainly female between 18 and 25. To give you an idea of how powerful Pinterest can be, about 85% of TOSS Network blog traffic comes from Pinterest. Pinterest is one way to get more eyeballs on your content!

How can Pinterest work for my business?

If you have a content creation component to your online marketing strategy, Pinterest is simply another way to make it stand it out more. To make Pinterest work for your business, you need an image with every blog post – in fact, two images is recommended.

Simply add the images to your blog post (it can be created online using free image creation websites such as PicMonkey) and place it within the blog post so someone can “Pin” it from there. This is the most passive and least time consuming way to use Pinterest.

What is the ideal image size for Pinterest?

Pinterest images should be long and vertical in shape. The ideal size for Pinterest is 700 x 1300. Pinterest allows you to have this large space so you should maximize its potential and make your content stand out amongst the other visual content.

Images should be enticing. You can add text, but remember that Pinterest is a visual platform so make sure it is attractive and doesn’t have too much text.

What is an ideal image description?

Make sure the description describes the image and blog content, and is also enticing. This is where it is important to have a good alt description when you upload the image to your website. Also, make sure there is a link attached to the link that will direct pinners to your content.

How do you get your content seen on Pinterest?

Have a Pinterest business account because when you have a business account you have access to stats – and it’s still free! You can also choose your icons and add your logo to pins with a business account.

Then create “Boards” and make sure there is at least one board for just YOUR stuff. Then create other boards for trends, etc. that relate to your business.

Also, look for Group Boards. Group Boards allow more than one person to pin to them and is a great way to have a wider audience see your stuff.  You will have to request to join these group boards.

PinGroupie is a website that tells you what boards are available to pin on based on what it is you want to pin.

How much content and how often should I pin?

The more content you have on Pinterest the higher up you will be on their algorithm, so don’t just pin something once. Pin an image over and over again, but in between third party content and on other boards.

Consistently share and pin enticing content – this will better your chances of being found in search.

What tools are available to help the busy business owner with Pinterest?

Ahalogy – This tool is a Pinterest marketing partner, you will have to apply to join, but if you have quality images you shouldn’t have any issues. It is also free. This tool will make your content available for others to pin and in return you will be expected to pin other marketers relevant content. The good news is you can do this right through this platform and not through Pinterest. The content through this tool is of high quality because of the application process.

Board Booster – This is another scheduling tool, but it is a paid tool. You can make a secret board and loop pins so that pins loop to other boards. It takes the work out of having to pin to multiple boards by doing it for you.

TailWind – Made through Pinterest, this is also a paid platform. It’s another scheduling tool that will tell you when the people who like to pin your stuff are doing so. TailWind also has tribes where you can get together with like-minded pinners.

How much time does Pinterest take?

If you were to use all three above mentioned tools, it would take about 1.5 per week, but choose the tools that work for you – it doesn’t have to be all three of them. Start with one Pinterest tool and go from there.

Additional Pinterest Tips

Go look at Pinterest for pins relevant to your business. See if people are looking for what you have to offer to see if it is worth it for you to be there.

Once you take the time to get started and build boards, Pinterest will not be time consuming and will start directing traffic to your content.

#30 – The Value of Collaboration

Can you collaborate with another business owner who does the same thing as you do? Maranda Carvell, a registered nutritionist who has an online business that helps other nutritionists turn their passion into profit, believes there is a lot of value in in just that.

Why work with other business owners?

value of collaboration

Collaboration is a great opportunity for business owners to grow. As an entrepreneur or solopreneur you may find that you do everything yourself: marketing, content creation, etc. Everybody else in your industry is also doing it alone – all of you are basically doing the same thing. If you work together then you are not spending so much time trying to reinvent the wheel.

Why do people hesitate to collaborate?

Collaboration can be a scary thing, especially if you have never done it before; but as you start to decide what your focus and niche is, you will also see that everyone has their own style, personality and approach to doing things, so although there is overlap, everyone’s work is unique.

Not everyone will want to work with one nutritionist, etc. so by connecting with others who are in your line of work you are building your professional network and can refer people and vice versa.

What kind of projects can you collaborate on?

You can collaborate behind the scenes i.e., sharing of digital products, resources, etc. It does not have to be a face-to-face collaboration, you can share content and tools that are similar, but then are altered to reflect your business’ offerings, etc. For example, challenges – two separate businesses can run a similar challenge, but with two different offerings at the end.

Another way is to co-create programs. You can split the workload, share ideas and then both promote to your own mailing list and social media followings, etc. You can then each share an online community group where participants can join together to connect with a larger group.

How can you find the right person to collaborate with?

Most of the people Maranda collaborates with are people she has gotten to know online, or are specific to her professional network. As you engage with people in your industry you will get to know them better and see if their philosophy and values are in line with your own.

The scarcity mindset needs to go. There is so much benefit to working with others, but if someone is hesitant than maybe they aren’t the right person to collaborate with. There is more than enough business out there and an open-mind is needed.

There is always competition, but building relationships builds businesses and people want different things and are attracted to different styles, etc. so just be yourself and don’t worry about other people.

When you work alone it can be very lonely and isolating, collaborating creates connections and brings something fresh to your business.

Tips to work effectively with more than one person:

-       Be organized with your work and make sure the other person is too

-       If you don’t see the person face-to-face have online systems set up to ensure goals are being met

-       Have open communication, such as constantly connecting via a private Facebook Group or with weekly calls, etc.

-       Use a shared drive such as Google Drive to share documents

Other tips on collaboration

Many business owners share a passion with another business owner. The more of us who are successful and who are willing to collaborate then the more of your industry there will be to help others.

Don’t be afraid. Just focus on your specific niche and goals. The benefits of collaboration outweigh the risk – there is opportunity to be found in collaborating.

Resources & Links

Maranda Carvell's website

Maranda’s Nutrition Business Community Support Facebook Group

Maranda on Twitter  

Social Media Simplified on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher

#29 Podcasting: What is it and why should you care?

"What is it and why should I care" is something I hear a lot of when it comes to digital marketing, and is a statement I have addressed many times over the years. It's commonplace for people to hear about digital marketing tools over and over again, but don't really know what they are, and more than that, don't know why they should care or if they need to pay attention to that particular tool.

This week the tool I talk about is podcasting - because I often meet people who don't quite understand what a podcast is and whether or not they should be listening to them (let alone figure out how to start one of their own). So, this week I dig in to what a podcast is, why you might care about them, and how you can find good podcasts to listen to.

What is a podcast?

Podcasting, according to Wikipedia is:
A podcast is a form of digital media that consists of an episodic series of audio, video, digital radio, PDF, or ePub files subscribed to and  automatically through web syndication or streamed online to a computer or mobile device.[1] The word is a portmanteau of "(i)Pod" and "broadcast."

In my own words: A podcast is an audio or video file that someone created (anyone, really - that's the beauty of podcasting) that people can download and listen to at will. You can sometimes stream podcasts from someone's website, but people who really get in to podcasts have episodes downloaded to their portable devices.

Why listen to podcasts?

Podcasting - what is it
  • Podcasts are great on the go! Cleaning, driving, running, shopping? You can listen to podcasts while completing these tasks. Podcasts allow you to learn or be entertained while doing something else (it's hard to read a book while driving!).

  • You can listen to podcasts when you want and about whatever you want. No need to worry about schedules or having to listen to a topic that does not interest you. You can pick any subject matter and find content that fits it (and your mood in that moment) to listen to or watch.

  • You can pause/stop and listen later. You don't have to miss the end of a podcast because you arrived at your driving or walking destination. And if you are listening to a podcast with someone else, you can stop a podcast and discuss an interesting point with the person you're listening with without missing the next three points.

How do you listen to podcasts?

Some people will have an episode embedded on to their website so you can listen right from there (like I do at the top and bottom of this post). Most listeners, however, listen to podcasts from an app on their mobile devices that downloads the content right to their device.

On an iDevice there is a podcast app already installed, called Podcasts. From this app, you can find and subscribe to podcast shows and new episodes will automatically download.

On Android devices a commonly used podcast app is called Stitcher.

I have links below to both to be able subscribe to this show - you should do that :) 

How can I get started with my own podcast?

A lot of times people will get started with their own podcast only to realize that it is a lot of work. You will be expected to produce a podcast on a regular basis. It is more note than a blog... especially with show notes, which are great for those who do not want to listen to the podcast and prefer to learn by reading, like a blog post.

Do your research. You want to get your podcast out to a lot of people and build momentum. The more you build and produce within the first eight weeks of a podcast, the higher your chances of being successful with it.

If you decide to start a podcast, make sure the content is both informative and conversational. Make sure the podcast is relevant to your brand and think about what the goal of your podcast is before you launch.

 

Do you subscribe and listen to podcasts? Or do you have a podcast of your own? Will you start? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Resources & Links

Social Media Simplified on iTunes

Subscribe on Stitcher