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Signs That You Are A Horrible Boss

arizona boss

If you’ve ever seen the movie Horrible Bosses, you’ve probably laughed so hard you cried. The “horrible bosses” in the film were truly wretched and cruel. Now, I’m not advocating for violence or murder, but if you are a small business owner you may want to spend some time on self introspection before you develop a troop of angry individuals plotting some serious revenge.

Here are the tops signs that you might be a horrible boss.

1. The turnover is high
If you feel as though you are constantly posting ads to hire people, you can take that as a sign. While you might also be bad at finding quality applicants, you must take notice when people are continually handing in their 2 week notice or just not showing up for their shift.

Also keep in mind to not take each resignation personally. People do sometimes move on for genuine reasons and if you start taking each one personally, it will not go over well with the rest of your crew. You can be offended, just don’t get in a habit of showing it.

2. Your employees work around you

Have you ever noticed that your employees are doing things without asking or not following your explicit instructions? One of two things is likely happening. Either they are afraid to approach you or they think that your ideas or instructions are not intelligent.

Either way, this is a sign that your boss skills need some improvement. You definitely don’t want to be terrifying or appear to be incompetent. You must find that middle ground where you get the respect and your staff follows through.

3. Overpromising

Sometimes a positive outlook on your business can lead you to promise things that you just cannot guarantee. Don’t promise Julie in sales that if she just works hard enough and the company gets large enough, that she will be VP of sales in no time. Unless you are hiring for that position and interviewing her that day, just don’t even bring it up.

Overpromising can lead to hurt feelings and more resignations. It is ok to be a cheerleader for your company, but don’t turn that into things that you cannot follow through on.
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4. You can’t make a decision

Running your own show means making decisions…all…the…time. If you are still deciding which tie to wear yesterday or the new logo is taking forever to finish, then you can’t make a decision to save your life. You must drop the other shoe or your indecisiveness will get you nowhere fast.

Also, it is super annoying to make a decision and minutes or even hours later change your mind. It happens, but if you are doing it too much then you displaying to your staff a huge lack of confidence. Employees do not take well to a boss who is not very confident.

5. You Run Your Mouth

It is very tempting to be buddy-buddy with your employees, but it’s best to just stop. You must draw a line in the sand. You are the boss and they are the employee. It doesn’t mean treat them like crap, but it means to create boundaries for what you will and will not share with them.

It is easy to vent to one employee about the frustration you may have with another. You must stop yourself because employees talk. They discuss things behind your back all day long. Trust no one and it won’t bite you in the ass.

Running your mouth also leads to playing favorites, which will be easily seen among your crew. Do not give your employees a reason to gossip, and that starts with you.


6. Your nickname is “Helicopter Harry”

Do you tend to hover over your staff to make sure they are getting stuff done? Yes, it’s true that sometimes you must babysit certain employees or they won’t work as hard, but drop the helicopter act. You must give your staff some room to breathe and a chance to get the job done.

 

 

You will definitely lose respect if you micromanage and tower over your employees’ every move. Show that you trust them and they will also have a higher respect for their job.

7. You Make Inappropriate Comments

Sexual in nature or not, you need to really check yourself for inappropriate comments. It might be fun to jest with your employees, but some people might be afraid to tell you if they feel like you are going overboard. If you can’t say it in church or to your momma, then you probably shouldn’t be saying it to your employees.

 

 

Final Thoughts
Most people can tell if they are a horrible boss. Some people thrive on power and believe they are truly perfect. Take some time to see if you are committing any of these violations before starting a brand new day or new week. It’s not too late to turn yourself around a little bit.

 

YouTube or Vimeo: Which Video Platform is Best for Your Small Business?

youtube logo                  VS                vimeo logo


It would be shocking and maybe even a bit disturbing if you’ve never heard of YouTube before. If you are a small business owner, then you know YouTube could be a part of your marketing strategy. It is the giant of all things video, viral and breaking.

 

What you might not know, is that by 2019, roughly 80% of all web traffic will be driven towards video content. If you haven’t begun a video marketing strategy or campaign, now is definitely the time to get rolling.

 

What most people do start to wonder is if there’s more than YouTube to share with. YouTube certainly is a powerhouse, but you may have also heard of Vimeo and wondered if you need to start creating a campaign there as well.

In a nutshell, the difference is that you can find just about any type of video on YouTube, for free. It is an endless array of anything from current events, to a kid taping their family singing ‘Happy Birthday.’ On the other hand, Vimeo offers a more mature community of higher quality and more artistic type video uploads without ads.


You might still be scratching your head as to which video platform will best suit your small business. So here’s more of a breakdown:

The Community
YouTube will knock Vimeo out of the park any day with just the sheer number of users; over 1 billion to be exact. The problem here is that the YouTube community is not afraid to be vulgar, offensive and leave nasty comments for your video. How rude!

 

With Vimeo, the number of users is closer to 170 million and the community is much more supportive. Your videos are more likely to receive constructive criticism and general, positive support. The overall production value with Vimeo will also be higher, because the audience is a bit different.

Search Optimization
With YouTube being the second largest search engine on the internet (next to its parent company, Google), there’s just no comparison. YouTube is the best place to upload how to videos for easy search queries. However, you do lose out on that intimacy that Vimeo is better known for.

Pricing
Both platforms have free and paid versions, depending on what you’re looking for. YouTube is completely free with unlimited storage, however, they also have a paid version. For $9.99/mo you can enjoy YouTube Red that will eliminate all ads.

With Vimeo, you do not receive the same, unlimited storage capability without paying for it. The free, basic membership limits you to 500MB of storage space. Beyond the free account, Vimeo offers Plus, Pro, Business and Premium plans to increase your storage space, bandwidth, customization and support. Since Vimeo makes their money on monthly memberships, you’ll notice the lack of ads before, during and after videos play.

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Updating an uploaded video

One of the biggest downfalls of YouTube is the inability to edit a video after uploading it, without losing the analytics. Uploading videos to YouTube needs to be done carefully and after being absolutely perfected. The problem is that even if you want to change just a little bit of the video, you must completely re-upload the video and lose every stat from the original.

With Vimeo, you can make edits whenever you need, without losing your stats. This makes uploading a video a little less stressful.

Analytics
Both video platforms do offer analytics to help you determine if your video is performing well. What you will find is that YouTube offers their analytics for free. They both show stats on views, likes, shares, total plays and geographical data. With Vimeo, you will need to be at least a Plus member to enjoy these features.

Additionally, YouTube provides insights to things like traffic sources, gender, devices viewers are using and audience retention. YouTube also offers annotations to lay on top of your video. These allow for the user to click and interact with your video. Vimeo does not allow for these specific analytics or annotations.


So, which video platform is right for your small business?
What is right for your business is what will help you accomplish your business goals. As it appears, YouTube in general has a lot to offer for a small business, especially if you are seeking to increase search optimization and use ads. However, if your business wishes to gain exposure through quality (artistic) videography and gain exposure in a specific niche, then Vimeo might be your best option. You may also choose to try both platforms to see which one performs best for your goals.

Why Hire A Content Writer?


So you’re a small business owner and working hard to master the skills of internet marketing. It sounds easy right? Just write a few blogs with some SEO components, share a few things on social media, research all the popular hashtags people are using for your industry, rewrite that old content on your website, etc, etc. But, before you know it, it’s already the end of the end of the week and you’ve barely brain stormed a blog topic, let alone worked on that Facebook live video you’ve been planning. If this sounds like your current situation, then you definitely need to hire a content writer.


When you add up all the different things you need written, you will find that your time is better spent working on your business in other ways. Besides spending your time in much more valuable ways, there are the top reasons why you need to hire a content writer.

The expertise on SEO
Let’s face it, Google is king when it comes to content writing and search engine optimization (SEO). Your goal is to wine and dine Google into loving your content or no one is ever going to find you, and Google will make sure of that. Writing good content is not just telling a funny story or showing people how much technical mambo jambo you know about your industry. You need to place words and phrases about just precisely and know just what words to use. Your content writer will know just how to do this, how often to do this and how to make your content hit the top of the Google charts.

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Google is also annoyingly changing their criteria all the time. Good content writers will be up to date with the algorithms and know just how to make their content shine. They’ll know how to play by all the rules, even if they’ve changed since last week.

A fresh viewpoint
Content writers are not just good at writing, they are great at researching. They do not have to be an expert already in your industry (although you may find one who is), but they are usually great at researching and understanding your industry. They will be able to provide a fresh viewpoint, give your company a crisper voice and take a direction you may have never thought of.
When you get to know your content writer, you will get to know their style. Of course, you will want them to not stray too far from your goals, but hear them out. You can always gauge the engagement and response of their work versus what you’ve done in the past (also called A/B testing). Take the blinders off and let a content writer lead the way.

Get consistency
Even if you are good at writing or may know some SEO tricks, chances are your business and life gets in the way of being consistent. The whole job and goal of your content writer is to write fresh, consistent material. A good content writer will do all of this with a seamless effort. Your business needs you to do the business stuff first and foremost. This is why writing great content often gets left behind quickly.
With consistency also comes the likelihood of being noticed by people other than your potential customer base. I am talking about getting noticed by industry leaders and influencers. A single blog post could reach thousands more if an influencer grabs hold of it and shares it with their follwers. This happens often and good content writing will get shared more often. This is a great segway to networking and developing long lasting relationships that will definitely benefit your business.


Also consider that a good content writer may find areas of your website or blog that could use improvement. Simple re-writes and updates could make a huge difference.

Final Thoughts
If you are a small business owner, you are likely too busy to get serious with your content writing. It demands fresh, consistent copy that uses proper SEO techniques. Hiring a content writer means hiring a professional that can provide a new outlook and appeal to your business. Don’t be afraid to interview and research the writer beforehand, but strongly consider adding one to your small business marketing plan.

 

Top 5 Signs It’s Time to Update Your Website

website update
If you are a small business owner, these days you know you can’t move forward without a proper website. It’s likely that no one needs to convince you that you need an online presence to survive in the business world. It’s also likely that you already have a website for your brand or company.

That’s great!

Now, it’s time to decide if your website could use a refresh. Just like a physical store, your website needs constant care, maintenance and upgrades. Fonts go out of style, content gets outdated and user preferences are always evolving. There’s the constant battle with Google to get good search rankings and keep customers clinging onto your pages.

Likely if you have a well put together website, you just need an occasional refresh to make it appear cleaner and remain up to date. Here are the top 5 signs it’s time to update your website:

1. Content is outdated
If you remember back to the early stages of building and planning your website, you might recall needing a ton of content written. Many business owners barely glance again at a lot of the content once it was posted. This is an easy area to refresh and update. If your website has a lot of pages, consider slowly reading over each section to decide if the content is current or needs a little reviving.

Always consider if the content still fits the tone of your company. Sometimes the voice of your company or brand has evolved, and the language within your content needs to reflect that change. You may even consider hiring a content writer to address these areas if it seems overwhelming. However, you must be sure that your brand matches your content or your customers might get confused.

2. It’s not mobile friendly
It’s easy to forget the mobile user when it comes to your website. This is an area that must be done better as many more people are browsing the web on their mobile device. A user’s experience on your site can definitely make or break your business. You can be missing out on a lot of sales.

Google definitely gives more points to sites that are mobile friendly (remember mobilegeddon?) It’s really a no-brainer to make your website easier to navigate on a mobile device.

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3. It’s sloooooow
You could easily be losing customers before your page even loads. Kissmetrics found that if your company’s page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, then 40% of people will bounce. That’s right, they will not stick around to see if your page will load. That’s huge!

Loading times not only hurt your customers, but they also hinder that darn Google search ranking you’re so desperately working so hard at. You want your customers to enjoy your website and stick around for awhile. They will only hang out if the page loads quickly.

4. It’s in Flash
As if you need yet another ranking hindrance, if your website is so outdated that it still uses Adobe Flash, then I’m here to tell you that Google and other search engines will not index your website, leading to poor search rankings.

Adobe Flash was once all the rage. Developers could use Flash to make super amazing vector graphics and animations. They still can, but they won’t be supported on many devices.

Apple products like the iPhone and iPad do not support Flash. Users also need a plugin installed to use it anyway. At this point, there’s no advantage in using Flash.

If you do nothing else to refresh your website, at the very least update it so that it no longer uses Flash.

5. You’re sick of it
It is totally reasonable for you to hate your own website. Maybe you’re tired of the color, the font or the pictures are old and outdated. Maybe it is difficult to navigate. Maybe you’ve heard someone mutter some unfortunate adjectives describing your site. That’s ok! If you don’t love your own website, then chances are, many other people are not in love either.

Take the time to write down everything that you do not like about your website. Check with other people to see if they are finding the same things bothersome. It just might be time for a big refresh project. Many business owners are truly happy once they refresh and make the proper updates. Don’t be embarrassed to give out your company’s website URL.

Final Thoughts
There’s a millions reasons to refresh your brand or company’s website. You want to be proud to share your URL and keep customers engaged with your site. All websites evolve and it’s likely that it is time for you to change it up a little. You can refresh it in small ways like making it more mobile friendly or completely updating the content and colors. Either way, it is time to be happy with your website.

 

Doing Direct Email Marketing the Right Way: with Orion Sol Consulting

direct email marketing

If email marketing isn’t part of your direct marketing campaign strategy, then you are totally doing it wrong. Marketing in the 21st century must have an email component or it doesn’t make much sense. Your goal is to create an audience and check with them to remind them of your product or services. While this may sound easy, it can be a tricky and a delicate situation. At Orion Sol Consulting, we have the experience and the right touch to get the response and interaction you are looking for.

Direct email marketing can be very engaging and exciting for your audience. You can share with them a sale that is happening, an event you are hosting or news from within your company. The goal is to not annoy your customers, but also deliver an exciting message that keeps them interested in your brand. There are a bunch of strategies for increasing open and click rates, increasing engagement and having a happy database of customers. Here are the top five things we offer with our direct email marketing campaigns from Orion Sol Consulting.

  1. The Strategy
    Before one email even begins to get written, you need a strategy that has been built and tested by the professionals. At Orion Sol Consulting, we know exactly what works and what doesn’t. Our goal is for your audience to be captivated by what you send in your emails and genuinely interested in your brand.
    We will determine how many emails to send and when to send them. The last thing you want is a bunch of potential customers who are just too annoyed with the frequency or content of your emails. This is a common mistake that happens, even though it might have been done with good intentions. This will ultimately lead to a high number of unsubscribers, and will leave you scratching your head.

***Don’t worry, we have the formula to keep your audience happily opening up your messages and aware of your brand without being annoying.

 

  • Email Design
    Once we’ve established the frequency and the goals of your direct email marketing strategy, we work on the development of the email. Designing emails takes some finesse and artistry. We strive to create emails that are bright and shiny, so the reader definitely wants to click on them. We have experience in creating appealing subject lines and content that is appropriate to your reader. We will work hard to target your customer with relevant informations that is captivating.

 

 

  • A/B Testinga/b testing


    While we have experience and formulas that work well, not every net casted gets all the fish. We always do A/B testing. This means that we test out what works for your targeted audience in several ways. We can test subject lines, content and call-to-action buttons. Different groups of people are attracted to different things and we know just how to find that out.

 

 

  • Client Engagement/Nurturing
    Our clients come to us with varying degrees of email lists. Some clients have barely anyone on their list, while others have a decent database. At Orion Sol Consulting, we will work with you on any level. We will fish for new clients and work to keep your current list interested and happy. The relationship with your database will be a work in progress. You develop real relationships by staying in touch, sharing news and sending offers in a positive way. You can be very personal with your lists and develop an outstanding rapport with increased sales.

 

 

  • Enhancements
    You can really bring your brand to life in a direct email marketing campaign. It is all part of your marketing strategy to attract, gain and maintain a database of consumers that are interested in your product or services. Our emails are personalized and styled for each segment within your list. We know how to nurture them or cut ties when necessary. We understand some segments may need a specific boost, while others might have an easily trackable behavior or pattern of purchase. We can enhance your email marketing to fit those needs and make your brand stand out above the rest.

 

 

>>Final Thoughts<<
Some of the direct email marketing techniques have become more difficult and sensitive over the last few years. Our consultants stay on top of trends and know that what worked 2 years ago might not be working today. We revamp, refocus and see that email marketing is still a thriving strategy in just about any industry. Let Orion Sol Consulting show you how to get great opening rates and more clicks than you’ve had before.

What do your social media followers want?

So, you’re a small business owner that has accepted or maybe even fallen in love with the world that is social media. Whatever your stance on social media may be, at this moment it is an important and an essential part of your marketing plan. Your best bet is to get somewhat comfortable with it because it is here to stay awhile!

small business marketing

No matter where you currently land on the scale of social media interaction, you have to have it. So the question becomes, what do your social media followers want from your small business?

Your small business social media plan needs to be a little different from your personal page. In fact, you should have two distinct accounts. Personal opinions or beliefs may be unattractive to potential customers. It is best to separate the two.

Let’s take a look at what your social media followers want from your small business.

  1. Your followers want to know who you are
    When a potential customer searches for your business in the social media world, they are looking to see who you are. Make sure that all of your social media bios and profiles are filled out. Followers will not be impressed with a page that is only partially filled out.

    Next, you need your business branded and your audience to know what you stand for. Here’s a quick checklist to see if your business is branded:

    >>>Do you have a logo? It should be clean and easily recognizable.

    >>>Do you have a branding message? Going beyond the product, the message should say what your company is all about and what it stands for.

    >>>Does your brand have a voice? This should be made very apparent in the way you communicate as your business on social media. You can be straightforward, fun, sarcastic or even snarky. The important thing is to be true to your brand.

    >>>Do you have a tagline? A motto? A short statement that is catchy and captures the essence of your company is great to promote in your social media communities.

    small business success

  2. Your followers want to be engaged
    Your social media efforts should not be just about your product. You want your followers to be engaged with your content and genuinely enjoy following your profile. Some people follow the 5:3:2 rule. This rules states that for every 10 posts, 5 of them should be from sources that are relevant to your audience, 3 should be your own creation and 2 should be what I like to call “fluff and stuff” or fun stuff that humanizes your company (like hey, there’s really a person sitting behind a computer posting this stuff).

    Here are some quick ways to increase engagement with your followers:

    >>>Pose a question: nothing gets the ball rolling like asking a question. Keep your followers going by continuing the conversation throughout the comments.

    >>>Share a visual: research shows that visual content gets shared 40 times more than any other type of content.

    >>>Consider doing a contest or a giveaway. Nothing grabs attention like a freebie!

    >>>Link yourself to other websites or industry leaders.

    >>>Ask! Ask for a review, ask for an opinion. Just ask your audience to participate.

  3. Your followers want to see authenticity
    Being honest is the best attribute you can put forth with your business. Followers want to think that it is you behind the screen and not some inflated marketing firm, giving canned responses with robots. Even if you are outsourcing your marketing efforts, you can still make the time to be authentic.

    Need tips for being more authentic? Try these:

    >>>Post more pictures of the inner-workings of your company

    >>>Attributes posts to your employees

    >>>Try holding a conversation by replying to a comment as it comes in real-time.

    >>>Share things that are current to stay current

  4. Your followers want to see your authority
    Once you mastered the branding and communicating aspect of social media, you want to focus on being the authority in your industry.

    While this may seem abstract to some, there are ways to address authority in your social posts, and here’s how:

    >>>Explain what makes your company unique and top ranked

    >>>Share positive customer feedback or expand it into a shareable story

    >>>Don’t hesitate to share awards your company has won or has been celebrated for

    >>>Stay current on industry trends

Some small businesses struggle to gain an audience, but keeping them can prove to be just as tough. You must find out what your social media followers want from your small business. Luckily, these tips and tricks should keep your current followers interested and coming back for more.

Small Business Outlook for 2018

small business

2018 is set to be a great year for small business owners all across the nation. With stocks soaring, unemployment steadily dwindling, business confidence at an all time high and opportunity knocking at every corner, the outlook has never been so good for many entrepreneurs. This year just might be the best we’ve seen in a long time, but there are going to be new trends to get used to in order to be as successful as you can if you are a small business owner.


The Trends of 2018

Catering to Millennials
We cannot have a business discussion in 2018 without mentioning the $600 billion dollar (and rising) market that is the Millennials. If you want a piece of that pie, you need to focus your marketing on this crowd connecting to your brand. You need a deeper, more experiential focus. Many businesses are going to profit big on a niche market. If your business name has buzzwords like microbrew or artisan, you are definitely on the right track with this group. They want to feel special, especially since they’re used to always getting a participation trophy.

Made in America
Perhaps one of the most recognizable and understood slogans of recent history was (and still is) Trump’s “Make America Great Again” campaign. Whether you like his administration or not, his first year in office has definitely made some waves for the economy and brought many jobs and investments back to this land. His administration has made changes to trade agreements and re-examined tariffs that have people paying close attention to products being able to be made in America again. As a small business owner, this could mean not having to outsource any part of your company offshore and continuing your effort to keep your company involved in the local community, as much as possible.

Popularity of Contract Workers
A very cost-effective way for some businesses to thrive is on their ability to use contract workers. Instead of hiring full-time employees that need benefits and a babysitter, contract workers are used in a much more efficient manner. They’re affordable, flexible and usually do a better job at the project you need them for. In fact, 42% of employee based businesses already are using contract workers, and that number keeps on rising.

Goodbye cash
Physical cash is becoming less and less popular. More and more transactions are taking place online and with credit cards, that there’s almost no reason to carry cash these days. Apps are becoming popular with payments options and tips. Going cashless can also be safer and more efficient for bookkeeping when it comes to your small business. Many customers are beginning to expect a cashless way to pay, so now is the time get onboard.

Crisis Preparation
Looking back at 2017, America definitely struggled through some very tough natural disasters. Hurricanes and wildfires did a ton of damage. These types of crises have many business owners wondering if they could withstand a total loss. Many business owners may not know if they have their data backed up and how they would maneuver through a significant loss should they have to deal with a crisis or natural disaster. Your best bet is to make sure you are prepared now, so you don’t have to scramble later. You can learn more about disaster prevention and prep here.

 

The Bad News in 2018

Facebook Changes
Early this year Facebook announced that users would start seeing less ads. Some people jumped for joy, while many small business owners started growling in disgust. Ads are expensive as they are, but to know that your audience size may dwindle down even lower is frustrating. Some people have pledged to move on to other social media platforms. It will take some more time before we see the true effect on this change.

Hacking is on the rise
As we continue to put more and more data online, it only increases your chance of getting hacked. It might be your personal information or your business that gets hacked, but it’s happening exponentially. Companies that lose your information are not punished very harshly, so there’s little incentive to keep your personal information locked down. The problem is that many consumers don’t think about being hacked until it happens to them. This year it will happen, so your best bet is to get protected and find a security plan for your personal information and your business.

 

The Year Ahead
As we move further into what should be a positive year for small business owners, no one can completely predict how everything will flow. Your best bet this year is to stay protected, educated and be as flexible as you can be. When you see a changing of the tide, just roll with it. Successful small businesses will be prepared, focused and ready to take any changes that may or may not happen in 2018.

 

Top Mistakes Small Companies Make When Starting Up

small business success

Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm – Winston Churchill

When you hear that 9 out of 10 startups are bound for failure, it tends to seem very disheartening to begin a small company venture at all. Being told ‘no’ is an awful feeling, but some small business owners are able to dig their way out of the trenches into incredible success. Starbucks is one such example. Owner, Howard Schultz, was told ‘no’ over 200 times before his dream was realized. Could you imagine where we’d be without Starbucks? But, could you, as a small business owner, suffer through that many shut doors?

While having a lot of enthusiasm is important for small business success, there are also a plethora of mistakes that many small business owners make that are fatal to their future. Here is how to steer clear of common failures, keep your enthusiasm and drive it home to success.

  1. You must have a plan
    Gone are the days of flying by the seat of your pants, if such a time ever existed. In today’s business world, you must have a plan, and it must be solid. Even a simple business plan created on an online app can help you organize your thoughts, and put action into your vision. Without a plan, you’ll easily get lost and find it easier than ever to give up.
    Be sure to also include a plan for your personal life. You may need to quit your day-time job to make this business a reality. Are you ready for that?

  2. Spend money on experts
    The cold hard truth is that you don’t know it all. Sorry, but you don’t. Business can be complicated, but some of the best dollars you shell out should be on expert advice and planning. You need someone with experience in your corner to guide you through the legal papers, the negotiating of terms or the launch of your product or business.

  3. The thing about money
    While you should spend money on certain things for your business, money will not solve all your problems. Money is a tricky thing to handle, and every penny needs a purpose. Many entrepreneurs spend it in the wrong place or at the time. This again, is where spending money on the experts can lead you to spend your money appropriately in other places. A whole bucket of cash will not solve all your business issues. Once you really let that sink in, you can move forward to strategize just how your business can grow.

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  4. Let’s talk about growth
    So many entrepreneurs and wannabes envision their business or product taking off. They imagine moving from their garage to a 25,000 square foot manufacturing facility or the ability to use machines to package items instead of doing it by hand. These dreams are great and will happen with the proper timing and scaling. However, many businesses scale too fast. You can’t have one great effort at fundraising and think you’re golden. Again, hiring the proper experts to lead the growth and guiding the absolute right place to spend the funds will give you the best chance for longevity. Trust me, it is easy to blow through one Kickstarter campaign fund. Scaling too quickly is a surefire way to demolish your dream.

  5. Get it in writing
    In the world of business, you must seriously trust no one. Everything you do within the confines of your business must be in writing. Any and all agreements should be upheld with a written agreement, period. Sometimes, the people your trust the most will stab you in the back the quickest. There are thousands of stories where best friends and family members steal or sabotage the efforts of an entrepreneur. Do not let that be you.

  6. Fearing the “F” word
    Fail. No one likes the word and no one likes the feeling of failure. Of course, there is a silver lining here. Failing at an aspect of your business does not have to be the end of the road. Every time something doesn’t work out perfectly, you can take it as a learning tool instead of a failure. You can think of it as an experiment in which the outcome was not desired. Now, take that experiment and change it up a bit to see if you can achieve the desired results. Almost every company on the planet has failed at something at sometime in their existence. It is ok. Fail a little now and learn a lot for later. Dust yourself off and keep it going.
    Enthusiasm can be difficult to keep going after failure. We get it. Failure can feel so depressing and you may want to give up. Trust me, this is the time to learn and grow.

 

In the end, many startups fail for many different reasons. This is just a taste of mistakes you can make when trying to launch your business or product. Heed the advice from the experts, spend your money intelligently and never let your guard down. Don’t be afraid to fail and always take an opportunity to learn and grow.

 

Don’t Follow Your Passion: Top Tips for New Small Business Owners

Nov 14

In a recent Prager University video, actor and producer Mike Rowe explains the dirty little lie we’ve all been told about following our passions to live our dreams. It immediately sounds like a rather depressing and degrading video. However, in reality, he’s absolutely right. You can check out his video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVEuPmVAb8o&t=164s

There are really so few people that can actually turn their passions into successful businesses. And it’s not to say that you should throw your passions away. If you are looking to become a new small business owner, sometimes it makes sense to find what service or industry works first. Rowe proves that it is possible to start a business that you may not be overly passionate about, but turn it into the success you desire.

To not follow your passion is definitely tip number one when looking to start a new business. Sometimes you need to see where everyone isn’t, as stated in the video. Once you grasp an industry and choose your new small business, here are some other top tips to live by:

 

  1. Have a vision, make a plan
    Once you’ve picked the small business you desire to run, you must have a vision and a plan. Get them out of your head and onto paper. Share them with your family and your business partner or mentor. A visual representation of your plan and your goals will speak volumes to getting off the ground. Also, be patient and flexible. You may find that your plan needs tweaking along the way and that is all par for the course.

  2. Don’t be afraid of failure
    There’s almost no story of ‘from rags to riches’ that doesn’t include some sort of failure along the way. Failure is good. Failure means learning, growing and becoming stronger. Mistakes and bad decisions are bound to happen. It only matters what you do after the fact. Did you learn something? Did it give you the opportunity to try it another way? Heck! The chocolate chip cookie was a mistake! Sometimes failure is priceless.

  3. Become your brand
    Stand up and shout it from the rooftops! Let anybody and everybody know what you are doing. Be proud of your new business and show it off in every way possible. If you’re not proud and excited for your new business, who else will be?

  4. Take advantage of freebies
    The best things in life are free! Luckily, we live in a day and age where there’s plenty of freebies for marketing and business management. Do the free trade shows (if you can find them), join the free Facebook business groups and most importantly…do social media because that’s free too! You do not need to be a social media whiz to get started. It is important to set-up free accounts across all platforms and get familiar with posting, liking and sharing. It seems these days that you are not a legitimate company unless you have the proper social media channels working for you.

  5. Delegate
    It is very likely that you will find your hours being sucked up very quickly when starting a new business. Great leaders will have a great team behind them that they can trust. When the time is right, you need to find, hire and train a stellar group of employees. What will make the business work best for you is when you learn to delegate. Many business owners tend to micromanage and essentially mismanage their time. If you can’t trust your employees with day to day tasks, then maybe you have the wrong employees or you have a control issue. Delegating tasks is crucial to building and maintaining a great small business.

  6. Do what works (no need to reinvent the wheel continually)
    Often new and budding small business owners think they need to do something completely different from the competition, but often that is not the case. If something is working in your industry, then you should go for it. Sometimes, copying your competitor is actually what works best.

  7. Put the customer first
    I can’t tell you how many times I have had a bad customer service experience from an entrepreneur. I was shocked and quite frankly, disgusted by the way I was treated. When you have a small business, you need to treat your customers like gold. Always have a smile and put on a positive vibe. Work hard to never say ‘no’ or ‘I can’t.’ Leave those phrases on the curb and work on providing exceptional customer service. Even if you cannot help a customer, turn it into a positive. If it means you do not get the sale, don’t worry. When a potential customer has a good experience that only helps enforce a positive reputation.


Final Thoughts

In the beginning of this blog it was suggested that your passions are probably not lucrative and that’s ok. What can happen is that your new business can become your passion. Maybe selling insurance doesn’t sound thrilling, but you find that you are helping people and educating them on making good decisions, which then becomes your passion.

Small Business

In the video, Rowe urges you to follow opportunity over passion to find success. Set your passion aside and search for the opportunity, then the rest is really up to you. Your small business can become your passion and your old passions can remain your hobby.

 

Too Early for Christmas…? Nah!

Whether your favorite combination in life is Jingle Bells with a hint of eggnog and a dash chestnuts roasting on an open fire or you side more with Scrooge himself, there’s no denying that the holiday season is once again upon us. We should be also well aware that this means many people are more likely to be opening up their wallets (us included) to buy all the hottest gadgets, accessories, excursions or the latest and greatest toys on the market. What this should really signal to us is opportunity. This is the time to get noticed and get people checking out your services and ready to hit ‘buy now!’ Here are some great tips and strategies for your holiday marketing campaigns during the most wonderful time of the year.

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Set a SMART goal
Don’t get too lost with all these crazy tactics unless you have a clear and defined plan. This may not be the most magical, tinsel laden part of the plan, but trust me, we’re getting there! A SMART goal stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based.
In order for your SMART goal to work, you need to have it start off by being rather specific. This means answering the ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ ‘when,’ and ‘why.’ Once you’ve specified the goal, it needs to be measurable. You need to pick which metrics to track and how you will monitor the progress. The goal should also be something attainable. It’s important to set a goal that will not be too easy, but push your company to the next level. It should also be relevant or realistic to your business and future progress. Finally, your SMART goal should be time-based, meaning it needs a time-frame that creates a sense of urgency.
A few extra tips for your SMART goal is to begin by writing it down. You can’t just have wonderful ideas and goals floating around in your head. Get them all down on paper. Be sure to constantly review these goals, especially the results. Are you on track? Can you be doing better? It is ok to adjust your SMART goals, but be sure you clarify these with the team. Lastly, celebrate! When you’re able to start seeing your successes, you need to share that with everyone you know. It will definitely boost morale and encourage further achievements.

Get in the holiday spirit with social media
Sorry to all those Scrooge lovers out there, but you need to get into the holiday spirit first and foremost to drive sales. This means creating posts and content that directly relates to the holiday season. We’re talking reindeer with red noses, bells that jingle and yuletide logs. People go bananas for the holidays and they love to feel warm and cheery. Your social media needs to reflect this feeling and invite your customers to spread the holiday cheer by opening their wallets.
For starters, be mindful of dates. This means having appropriate messaging for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday along with the traditional and less traditional celebrations. Get your messages scheduled and arriving early. And, don’t forget your hashtags.
Your holiday social media campaign needs to be relevant and thoughtful. It could be a contest, a discount or a raffle, but you need to get your customers engaged and that usually means making them act or react. People also love comedy, cats and holiday trends. Speak to your customers. Get in their heads and bring on the holiday cheer!

 

  1. Personalized Promo Codes
    For all the small business retailers out there, promo codes are the way to go, especially personalized ones. It is an easy gift that you can give a select group of your special customers to give them some warm fuzzies this holiday season. Show your customers that you value their relationship and that their are part of an exclusive, members only club. 
  2. The final countdown
    If you’ve been scrolling through any Facebook or Instagram feed, you almost can’t miss some type of countdown to the holidays. Christmas lovers go nuts over how many Mondays are left before Old St. Nick shows up. You can countdown to the holiday itself or make a specialized countdown for your holiday deal.
    There’s even a free way to create a landing page with such a timer. Ontrapages provide an easy and free way to create a timer for your exclusive deal. The beauty with this timer is that it can stay visible past the deadline. If a customer clicks on the page past the due date, you can have them re-directed to another magical and jolly page of star wonder.
  3. Carry yourself through to January
    The best way to end your holiday campaign is to make sure it carries your business into the following year. January can be a tough time for sales, so your campaign should also begin to target that time. Part of your holiday goal should include building brand awareness, loyalty and engagement that lasts. Nurturing your new customers and audience is great way to gain even more sales when the holidays come about next year.

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Even if your favorite jam isn’t Jingle Bell Rock, this is the time of year to let heaven and nature sing for your marketing campaign efforts. This is the time to introduce new tactics and enjoy a chance to jingle all the way. Sleigh bells are ringing, so we’re hoping you were listening to these holiday marketing campaign ideas.