This week, our question comes from Dr. Whitcome in Seattle Washington
"What’s the best way to use #hashtags?"
Submit Your Marketing Questions Below in the Comments Section
Whether you are running a great hobby or you’ve been working for a long time in a field that you love , it may seem like a very natural transition to opening your own business.
For a hobbyist who’s received a ton of positive feedback, it MAY seem like a gimme to make it official. For an employee who’s ready to retire and has seen it all, know it all and done it all, a business might seem like a no-brainer.
We hear plenty of success stories, we know it can happen, but too often we know people start a business, and in less than 5 years they will have failed, started some other business and failed again and so on. There are many challenges to pin point for a botched attempt at business, but one consistency we see is the lack of knowledge about “The Buck Stops Here”.
Take into consideration that being a “hobbyist” or a “valued employee” provides a type of shelter that makes it difficult to understand and accept the importance of grasping “The Buck Stops” concept. Another truth is that many people misjudge the so called “freedom” that self-employment appears to offers.
As a small business marketing consultants, we often meet with Clients to identify their specific hurdles. Typically, in less than 30 mins we offer options and recommendations to conquer what may be holding you back such as:
· you don’t have enough time
· you already have another job
· you have kids
· you have a family
· you have a life
· you are not technically savvy
· you don’t handle stress well
· you don’t have any support
· you’re operating on a shoe-sting budget
When you start a business the buck stops with you. Owning a business is a choice; it’s not mandatory. My constant advice is to never-give-up. There are options and solutions to fit every condition.
Adapting to the “the buck stops here” concept will keep you seated in reality. The key is to do the next best thing for your business.This is what makes it obvious that you are a serious business owner and not just running a hobby.
This is the last in our series of Business -vs - Hobby, however we have los's more information to share on this topic.
We’d love to chat with you about some of the strategies you can use to stay successful in your business.
Schedule a no pressure strategy session today. See how much more we can accomplish together.
Are you creating an expertise footprint?
One of the indicators the IRS looks for when determining a business –vs-a hobby is the business owner’s expertise. The IRS says “A business operator should have extensive knowledge of his or her profession or activity, showing that he or she has studied accepted business methods/practices and sought advice from experts."
On the face of it, that makes a lot of sense, but if you are just starting out, how exactly (and honestly) can you “show” your expertise? Of course, as with all things, it will be easier for some and a bit more challenging for others, so I’ll speak in general.
No, I’m not questioning your expertise, but knowing what you are doing and showing what you are doing may take different tactics. No matter what category your business is in, you must find ways to weave in the KLT (Know, Like and Trust) factor. Much of that will come from showing your expertise.
A while back I wrote a blog on your organizational footprint. In that article, I talked about using social media to “provide stepping stones” to increase visibility for your business and visibility is important because you have to be seen in order to be acknowledged.
Competition can be fierce in many business arenas and while you don’t want to appear to be a “know it all”, you definitely want people to see that you are worthy of their time and attention. That’s where so called free social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and the like can be of great value to you.
Here are a few dos and don’ts (this list is not at all inclusive) to help keep you on track:
DO use a system to stay connected to your existing audience and attract new members. The best systems integrate smoothly with social and business networking platforms to save you time and energy.
DO use the power of business platforms like LinkedIn and Alignable – These networking platforms are especially designed to help you showcase your business. For example, no one’s interested in your vacation pics here …unless perhaps you’re in the business of selling awesome vacation packages!
DO be sure to keep your audience in mind at all time. WIIFT (What’s in it for them)? Yes, you want to show them that you are an expert, but you also want to show them how your expertise is going to benefit them, SPECIFICALLY.
DO use your Web site and your blog as your primary “portal” for your business knowledge bank.
You have ownership there. You can attract as many people as you’d like and show them different levels of your expertise. This is especially important if you provide several different, but related services.
DO use PROOF. Create an easy action plan for your best clients to provide you with positive reviews and don’t be shy about whipping them out when the time is right! “Name dropping” is not the idea here unless of course you have the written capital to back it up.
DON’T join/signup with networking platforms or groups just for the sake of joining. Have a clear objective in place for whatever you hope to achieve….and yes have a clear idea of what you hope to bring to the table.
DON’T use different branding on different platforms. Stay consistent in the manner you present your business. Consistency ties into the “KLT” factor. People like to “know they are with you” as they follow you. If you need to send them away from your site, try to get reciprocal links to tie everything together.
DON’T bait and switch. That means keep your products and services in line with your promotions and keep your promises. If you ask people to take action, be sure you are prepared to follow through.
DON’T stop learning. Keep your skills strong and keep on top of your game. Who’s your competition and what are they up to?
DON’T use “rented assets”. No matter how tempting it may be, there is not ownership in building large audiences on social networks and leaving your “hub” starving for attention. Keep in mind that you’re Website and your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system should be your primary gateway to showing off your expertise.
If you need help pulling it all together, we are here for you! Schedule a no pressure strategy session today. Let us help you build a sustainable plan to showcase your expertise so that there’s no doubt you are running a business and not a hobby.
I'm hoping this information will be especially useful to entrepreneurs working on a challenged budget, home-based businesses, affiliate marketers, virtual business owners and yes, the "hobbyist" who has decided to start a business.
And why am I singling out these poor souls? Because they are the most likely to disregard some very important practices that distinguish a business from a hobby. Over looking some key points can hinder or even halt the progress in taking your business to the next level.
Let me start out by saying, these tips are in no way intended to rewrite or clarify the IRS guidelines for whether an activity is a business or a hobby. Indeed your venture may well qualify as a legitimate business. But are you indifferent to some of the valuable practices that create a foundation for running a successful, long lasting business? Come along and find out! You may well pass or exceed the recommendations and if you agree with the value, why not then share this information with an "up-comer" who may need it!
SETTING UP YOUR BUSINESS HOURS (1 of 10)
One of the "joys" of being self-employed is being able to “set-your-own-hours”. That freedom can turn into a blessing or a bane of your business. Setting business hours can be challenging, but it is a critical element to displaying professionalism and it's one of the 9 tests the IRS looks for in distinguishing a business from a hobby.
Keeping regular hours does not necessarily mean 9am to 5pm, nor does it mean having a “We're Open” sign on the shop door, or even a little bell that tinkles each time a patron enters the establishment. Brick and mortar owners are sort of "forced" to keep business hours, but for some folks it's a matter of discipline and planning.
If you are serious about doing business, then showing your availability will not only help build the KLT (Know, Like and Trust) factor, it can also demonstrate that you are not just a hobbyist. And even more:
Fortunately, there are many options available to help you set up your hours, manage your time and show your commitment. The best part is, no matter how unique your business model is, your ability to set solid hours need not be hindered.
If you’re juggling with your schedule or struggling with keeping consistent hours, let’s talk about a solution. A short strategy session with me will reveal some great options. You can find extra time in your day and maybe even reduce the stress! Looking forward to speaking with you soon.
Why should you have a Facebook Business Page or convert your personal Facebook account to a Facebook Page?
It's against the Facebook Terms to use your personal account to represent something other than yourself (example: your business), and you could permanently lose access to your account if you don't convert it to a Page.
If you're using your profile to represent a business, there are many benefits to converting your profile to a Page:
If you have lots of "friends" and you are doing business on your personal page, you may wake up one morning to find you've lost access to your page and there is NO GETTING IT BACK.
What are your options?
1. Start using a Business Page...STOP making direct business posts to your personal page
2. Convert your personal profile to a business page
3. Contact us! Set up a Strategy Call today
What can we do for you?
1. We can help you back up your data
2. We can help you convert your page
3. We can help you to continue growing your business
Get your complimentary call today.
Here’s a conundrum: some small businesses work very hard to get leads and they spend precious dollars to “boost posts” and “buy ads”, etc., yet they often fail to put a contingency plan in place for prospective clients who say “Yes”.
Ever heard the term: “The sale begins when the customer says ‘yes’?”
It's true. Start planning for the outcome of your success by answering questions about your goals, your expectations and what you are anticipating from your efforts.
Of course, if you are a street vendor, then sales from people passing by could be your only objective... hopefully you have loftier goals.
Although the specifics are unique to each business, no matter what path you take, it’s a journey of many steps. Remember our conversation about the 12 “touches”? Then you’ll need be prepared for each touch to be the “magic touch”. Your contingency plan should have several “side roads” or contributory inlets and outlets to take your prospective client to the next level.
Creating your plan can seem a bit overwhelming if you are not prepared, but there are also lots of tools to put into play. You'll hear terms like “sales funnel” and CRE (Client Relationship Expectancy), or CLV Customer Lifetime Value; and so on ... literally dozens and dozens of ways to create plans for “what happens after they say ‘YES’.
Here are three important areas that we've discovered, all having to do with good old-fashioned passion for your business:
We are ready to help you plan the outcome of your journey to more productive follow ups. Like every other journey, the more times you successfully make the trip, the shorter it seems. Soon you’ll be getting CTAs answered and you’ll be growing your business.
Schedule your strategy call today!
So far, we’ve coached you on the significance of having a system in place to make following-up with your contacts routine and easy. Now we need to stress the importance of not allowing that same system to rob you of opportunities. Especially in the "virtual world", the Human Component is critical to various aspects of successful relationship building.
Growing your business is about growing relationships and while systems can assist you on every step of your journey, they cannot form a bond with your prospective clients. In other words systems are just tools. People don’t build relationships with tools (at least not typically) people build relationships with people.
“Diligent follow-up and follow-through will set you apart from the crowd and communicate excellence”. - John C. Maxwell
Notice Mr. Maxwell said “YOU” not your “system”. This advice may not apply if you are a personal services provider, however, if you are providing services online, (virtual services) it can become all too easy to rely too heavily on your systems. This can be doubly true with really small business owners and triply so with part-time business owners.
Fortunately, it is easy to avoid this hazard. All it takes is planning for your follow ups. Each business has its own plan and a small business trying to communicate effectively with large numbers of individuals needs to put a plan in place. Otherwise, Things can fall through the cracks and those “things” can be people.
You’ve heard the phrase: “Don’t sweat the small stuff?” The optimum word is “small”. If the small stuff is not “sweated” at some point, a small business could end up being a small used-to-be business. It’s the small stuff that can bring a business to its knees.
Keep in mind it can take up to 12 attempts to get an individual to follow the action that you want then to take. We call those attempts “touches”. A touch can be any action or interaction available to you as it relates to the contact and it can be virtual or actual.
We can’t depict exactly what actions will occur in every situation, but here’s an example of 12 possible actions or “touches”:
Were you able to see all of the openings for opportunities to interact on a personal level?
In closing let me say ... WE LOVE SYSTEMS!! It's having a balance that could make a big difference, so If you are looking for ways to design a follow-up strategy that allows for more “human touches”, please reach out to us.
Your complimentary call is waiting and there's a "human" on the other end...guaranteed!
You know the importance of growing your contact list and you know the importance of following-up, but what if you don’t have any people to follow up with? You keep going around and around, looking for a solution, and now you’re getting dizzy, so what can you do to get off this merry-go-round?
If you haven’t seen our “Free Guide – A Success System to Building Your Contact List”, then you should download it right away. You’ll get tons of ideas on ways to increase the contacts on your list. Still, if you are just starting out, you may be in need of a little help getting more people into your contact list. More is better, but there’s a caveat.
Numbers are very important, yet never get numbers for numbers sake; you need to maintain quality in your list as well. As you are growing, try to avoid accumulating a big list that looks great on paper and in reality is a list of people who are not truly interested in taking the action that you are promoting.
That’s why having a great S.Y.S.T.E.M. in place to grow your contact list and follow-up as well will help you reach your goals and "Save-YourSelf-Time-Energy-and-Money!"
Here’s another way to look at it:
Streaming audio and video to attract more of your target audience over and over
Yardstick analytics to measure your progress as you make repeated follow-ups
Straightforward features – friendly and intuitive for fast follow-through
Tools that have been tested and proven to gain converts and retain clients
Enhancement for your marketing strategies to keep your follow-ups engaging
Multifunctional interfacing for control and ownership
Creating the right system can help make your follow-ups phenomenal.
By now, you know that Chet Holmes is a favorite influencer of ours, so we quote him quite often: “Follow up makes the difference between mediocrity and GREATNESS.”
But Mr. Holmes never said do it alone!
Can’t wait to get to the “greatness part?” Want more contacts so you can do more follow-ups?
Set up a strategy call and together we’ll slow that merry-go-round down … so you can get off!
You’ve been hard at work collecting contact information to grow your business. So now what? What’s your follow-up Plan? Now is not the time to quit...now is the time to persist.
You’ve heard it a thousand times or more…”The fortune is in the follow-up!” According to the late, great Chet Holmes, in order to make a sale, you’ll need to follow up with a prospect twelve times, eight of which they will tell you, “No.”
Okay you say… that’s good info, but how does it apply to me? After all I’m not a sales person, I’m just a business owner … right? Not quite. While sales is a specialized skill, there's another more routine side to it.
Here’s the thing: If you are in anyway trying to get anyone to take any action to do anything … you are a sales person. So yes, if you are in business …and if you are serious … you are a sales person and have a plan to “follow up” is a necessary requirement for success.
Here’s what hardcorecloser.com has to say (we sprinkled in a few from our own experience) about why many small business owners don’t follow up:
After reading the list, I’m sure you can image that we have an entire series of articles going in-depth for each of these reasons and you can bet in upcoming articles we are going to oblige you!
Because this is the last post in our series of “15 Tested and Proven Ways to Build Your Contact List”, our next blog will be taking a more comprehensive look at the first point on our list No Leads To Follow Up with! Hope you’ve enjoyed this 15 part series and we look forward to bringing you “More Tested and Proven Ways to Build Your Contact List”
If you want to get started today building a more powerful contact list, schedule a strategy call and let’s get the ball rolling!
Guest Blogging is not new, yet many small business owners never take full advantage of this great way to introduce their business to new audiences.
There are more benefits to developing the practice of Guest Blogging than just the “Howdy Dos”, including the opportunity to raise awareness for your Web presence and your rankings in the search engines. Getting your bio in new places and a back-link to your own blog can produce invaluable .
Of course there is a process to finding the right places to submit your requests, but the outcome can bring you closer to your goals, because Guest Blogging is a proven way to build your list, build your reputation, get more traffic and in some cases has even lead to first-time authoring entire books!
If you are interested in taking a new approach to building your contacts, take a look at these quick tips for Guest Blogging:
1. Make a list (about 5 or 10) of your favorite blog sites/pages; pick the ones you admire and love because they align with your business goals, but also check their ranking to be sure they have the influence you need. (Not to say you should over-look low rankers, it’s a combination of what you hope to accomplish and the time and effort you want to devote.) Be certain they accept Guest Blogging and pay close attention to the styles of existing Guest Bloggers.
2. Make quality and relevance a priority – Think of your article from the Blog Owner’s point of view. Ask yourself: “If I owned this blog, why would I accept this article?” Remember, the Blog Owner has an mission to please their audience, so aim for quality, not quantity. Be sure to put fresh insight on your contributions. And don’t give up … it’s not a “given” that the Blog Owner will accept your offering!
3. Don’t try to sell your “stuff” in your article – Offer true, valuable and useful information. Avoid the temptation to cram keywords, hashtags and links into your article; especially your author biography. That’s unprofessional. You’ll get shut down. The key here is bringing authentic, useful information.
4. Be professional – Most Blog Owners have Guidelines for Guests. Fact check, spell check and grammar check your article. Make it unique in content, but stick with the Blog Guidelines. Writing your article close to the guidelines makes it more likely to be accepted!
There’s so much more to this exciting subject. If you are a small business owner looking for ways to become a Guest Blogger, we can help. Schedule a complimentary strategy call today.
Let’s develop a to bring more visibility to your business!
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DonPaul Enterprises has a simple motto:
"We provide marketing solutions to keep your business MOBILE, on-line, on-target and on-budget."
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