Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Make A Blogging Plan For Your Business

Guest post by Robbi Hess, All Words Matter 

Quick question for business owners. Are you blogging for your business? Hhmmm, is that crickets I hear? Is there a reason you're not blogging? Do you wonder if blogging as simple as sitting down and churning out great prose? Yes and no. Sometimes the words just flow other times it would be easier to collect hen’s teeth than to write a post.

Are there secrets that can help anyone grasp the blogging concept? Perhaps. I know that during my years of writing, the more than a million words I have penned and from the writing classes I've taught  I’ve I found there are two kinds of people:

  1. I have a ton of ideas and don’t know what to do with them people, and
  2. I can never find an idea people

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Do You Have A Business Plan?

If you're a new entrepreneur, I have to ask: Do you have a business plan written? If you don't, I urge you to take time today to do just that. Why? I work with too many clients who don't have a business plan and they end up saying "yes" to every project, spreading themselves too thin and not charging enough for what they do. They eventually suffer burnout as well as having a bottom line that remains in the red.

I think a business plan and success go hand in hand. Here is what you need to have in yours, at a

  1. Your business's purpose aka mission and vision statement
  2. The problem your business will solve for its clients
  3. The solution you offer and how it differs from your competition 
  4. What is the market you're targeting?
  5. Who will be on your team and why? 
  6. What is your financial model and how much do you want to make? 
  7. Who can you work with as a mentor or who can you emulate that is a success in your niche? 
Take some time to at least get these basics down on paper. You can add to it as you go because your business plan should be a living, growing document. Do you need help with your business plan? Our team can provide assistance. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Keep Your Workfoce Engaged

Do your employees have a ho-hum attitude about the work they perform for you? If you don't even know the answer to that question, then you need to make some time to spend it on the shop floor to see how engaged they are. Sure, they may act differently when "the boss" is on the floor, but in that case, spend some time to ask them, "How happy or engaged are you?" "What more could we do to make your workday better and you more productive?" You'd be surprised how happy your employees would be to know you were asking!

If you're in the start up phase and have to hire new employees, what steps can you take to hire and
keep an engaged workforce? Here are a few items to think about:

  1. This should be a no-brainer, but you need to hire the "right" people. To do that you need to know what you expect of them and their specific roles. Don't try to fit the "perfect" person into a role just because he or she may seem perfect on paper. Hire to fill the role you need filled. 
  2. Make sure your people are empowered to do their jobs. Sure there will be a training period, but once they've progressed past that timeframe let them do their jobs. Plain and simple. 
  3. If your employees don't understand your business's mission and vision, how can they be expected to carry it out? 
  4. Talk to them. Just as you talk with your upper management, you should talk to those on the shop floor as they are integral to your business's success. 
  5. Offer feedback. Constructive criticism is welcomed by most people if it will help them do better at their jobs. Offer a criticism that also provides a way for them to improve. 
When is the last time you talked with your workforce to see how well they're doing and how happy they are? 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

How Strong Is Your Business?

Monsoon season in Arizona takes hold in a month or so and it had me wondering what business owners do to weather storms -- both literal and figuratively. With the weather that has been striking across the nation -- hurricanes and tornadoes, floods, forest fires, earthquakes -- a business owner needs to have a contingency plan in place to deal with these events. Do you have one?

Do you wonder what could these weather events have to do with your business and its success or viability? Imagine this: A physical business location could be harmed by a storm if there is a flood,
fire or even loss of electricity.

Running a virtual business, such as my coaching business -- means I have to have access to Internet, electricity to run my computers and much more. I also need to make sure my computers and all of my systems are backed up in the event of a computer meltdown. It happens and if you don't have your systems backed up, you could lose your client lists, your inventory tracking and your invoicing systems. Could you recover?

Do you use cloud storage? Do you back up your computer systems to an offsite location regularly? If you back up weekly, have you considered what you might have lost during those previous six days?

There are myriad items that many business owners don't consider when thinking of whether they could weather a storm or a computer meltdown. If you want a walk through and an idea of what could be lost and how you can protect yourself, your business assets and your company's bottom line, give me a call!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Be Part Of The 'In' Crowd At Networking Events

Remember how you used to walk into the lunch room when you were in grade school or high school and wondered, "Who am I going to sit with?" Well, sometimes those feelings come back when you walk into a networking event. Unless you're the gregarious type, you may be faced with that tinge of panic that struck each day in the school lunch room.

What can you do to combat that? Here are a few networking how-tos I've gleaned:

  • Have a plan in mind of how many people you want to meet at the event. If you know that, you will have a focus and a goal. 
  • Get in touch with the event organizer and see if there is a Facebook group or other area in which attendees are gathering to "get to know" one another prior to the event. This is a great way for you to hone in on who you'd like to meet.  
  • The event is not a place at which you will sell your widgets. The event should be looked at as a way to get to know potential clients. Once you meet someone, set up a time at a later date to get together to grab a coffee and see if you can work together. 
Remember, if you see someone standing alone, approach them. If you're in a group and you see someone wandering around, looking lost, invite them into your group -- they will thank you for it. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Schedule Your Downtime

Guest post by Robbi Hess, All Words Matter 

Scheduling down time is a must for entrepreneurs. Why? Because if you don't, chances are the day -- or several days -- will get away from you and all you will have done is work. I realize that entrepreneurs need to work and need to be in the office, but they also need to step away and recharge
their batteries if they want to remain effective and healthy.

Here are some ways to schedule downtime into your business calendar to avoid burnout: 
  •  Schedule time for lunch. You need to make a concerted effort to get away from work and the computer and eat your lunch. Schedule time during your lunch downtime to get in a short walk or even a bike ride. Your mental and physical health will suffer if you are sedentary every day, all day. 
  • Take a vacation. Whether it's a weekend or a week long getaway, you need to do just that get away. When you plan a vacation, let your clients and your staff know that you're away and that you will have limited access to the Internet. Plan occasional check-ins. Know that if you've hired well your office will function in your brief absence. 
  • Attend networking events of conferences. You need to interact with others in your industry and you need to keep up with the latest trends. Also, attending networking events or conferences just may help you grow your business. 
Do you have downtime scheduled into your calendar? 


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

'Shark Tank' Business Lessons

Start-ups or long-term business owners might find themselves in the situation of having to approach investors for capital for their businesses -- this is a great position to be in, but it does require planning and forethought on the part of the entrepreneur. 

If you're meeting with potential investors you will need to have your "investor pitch" prepared. What
goes into an investor pitch? Here are a few items:
  1. Stating your business premise and the clients you serve in a concise and clear manner. If you're stumbling for words, you haven't honed in on your ideal client yet and you need to do so. 
  2. What are the potential flaws in your business plan? A flaw could encompass not having thought through who will manufacture your widgets, or how you will market, or not having a plan in place for growth and hiring of staff. 
  3. How will you make money? Having passion for your business is ideal, but if it doesn't put money in the bank, you need to step back and consider how you will generate income. An investor won't want to invest if he isn't sure whether he will see a return. 
Are you ready for potential business growth? Do you have a written business plan? That will be a necessity when you meet with potential investors.