The Art of Sharing: How to Make the Most of Business Referrals

March 15th, 2010

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You can greatly increase your marketing potential by increasing your number of business contacts. Chances are someone knows someone who can use your products and services.

Make the most of your business referrals and take the guess work out of target marketing.

How?

1. Join a business referral group or your local chamber of commerce. Here you get to meet other business members at meetings and advertise together in common venues.

2. Making referrals a two-way street. Referring business to people who refer you keeps the karma mojo balanced.

3. Following up on referrals right away. When people want something, they usually want it right away and if they can’t get it from you, they’ll find someone else. Contacting potential customers while your name is still fresh in their minds keeps you top of mind. I usually jot down information on their business card immediately after meeting them so I can use that as an ice breaker or reminder of our meeting to jog their memory the next time I contact them.

4. Pitching your sale to anyone who will listen. I used to hate marketing my business because I always felt I was being salesy until someone told me to look at it this way, ‘Marketing is simply telling people what you do over and over again.” I can do that. And so can you. Telling people about your products and services in concise detail allows them to understand the nature of your business and whether they, or someone they know, needs your kind of expertise.

5. Making referrals a priority. Many business owners incorporate the referral process into their marketing plan only when profits are down. The old advice about marketing holds true here: the time to market your business is all the time. Referrals are ‘warm’ leads and are closer to the sale (and the money) than cold calls. Why make it harder on yourself?

6. Knowing your purpose. If you’re clear on what your purpose (and the purpose of your biz) is, you can communicate it cleanly and potential customers will ‘get’ you and the service you offer.

 7. Respecting other people’s time. Who doesn’t like to receive a ‘thank you’ - if someone helps you out with a referral responding quickly with a simple acknowledgement of appreciation will ensure ongoing referrals.

 

 

 

 

“How to Become a Millionaire and Never Pay Taxes…

November 12th, 2009

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…First, get a million dollars…” - from an old Steve Martin stand up routine.

Keys to Boosting Your Expert Status

So how do you become an expert and find more clients? First, become an expert…” 

Experts charge more, work less, are highly respected and get to work with other, really great experts. 

So how do you showcase your expertise so others see you as an expert?

 1) Build a Website 

Ideally your website should showcase your expertise to your particular niche. Make sure to include samples of your work - writing, videos, partnerships, press releases, etc.

2) Publish a book

Books are the new business cards. Whether you self-publish, publish on demand (POD) or get published the old fashion way there’s no substitute for the credibility/recognizably factor a book provides. Feels overwhelming? Start small with articles, newsletters and blog posts.

3) Publish a Newsletter

Newsletters provide repeat exposure to your market with fresh content.  Focus your newsletter on your area of expertise . Once into a routine newsletters are a snap to write.

4) Seek publicity regularly.

Enlist the help of your colleagues, JV partners, associates etc. to promote you - and return the favor. Try sending out a press release and do promos every quarter.

5) Testimonials (with photo) 

People want to know if you can help them. Show them how you’ve helped others. Testimonials should answer: 1) How you helped 2) The result. One great testimonial can seal the deal. 

6) Speak up

Workshops, seminars, guest speaking, etc. gets you in front of a crowd and builds credibility. Hate public speaking? Try non-traditional venues like teleclasses, teleseminars, telesummits…

7) Hang out with experts

When you spend time with experts you’ll be seen as one yourself.

8) Dont’ be Shy

If you’re an expert claim it. If you’re not an expert yet, do what it takes to become one. 

9) Get Regular

Once you build your expert status opportunities arrive faster and more easily. Regular, consistent actions help maintain your expert status.

These strategies may or may not make you a millionaire but they will definitely help build your expert status.

How to Manage Small Business Financial Stress

October 30th, 2009

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How can you turn your financial stress into small business success?

 

It starts with being realistic (and truthful) with yourself about your current situation.

How Do You Do That?  

Get the Picture

Where does your business stand financially? A simple Exel spreadsheet showing income, expenses, profit, debt, assets and liabilities gives you a financial snapshot.

Budget or root canal?

Budgets don’t have to be painful; they’re simply a tool highlighting where the money comes from and where it’s going - it shows you where to make more and where to cut back. 

It’s a Goooooooal!

Long term goals map out where you want your company to be; short term goals show you how to get there step-by-step. Breaking the big picture into manageable (and trackable) steps reduces the feeling of overwhelm and failure and reduces stress.

 Clean House

If your staff/subcontractors are draining your financial resources without showing results it may be time to either restructure their motivation (try offering profit share) or just let them go. 

Pressure Release

A bookkeeper, financial planner or accountant can help detangle the financial cobwebs by helping you plan ahead and cut costs. Hiring VA’s (http://www.virtuallysuccessful.com/) or an OBM’s (http://www.onlinebusinessmanager.com/blog/) to help with operations frees up your energy and time.

The Power of Empowerment

You don’t need to become an accountant or a bookkeeper to get a handle on your finances. Check out a basic financial planning book, teleclass or seminar designed for small business owners and/or try ‘Google Groups’ to connect with solopreneurs and discover how they handle their financial stress.

Going to Market

When is the best time to market your business? All the time. To ensure a continual flow of cash, even when business is flush with clients, pays off during the lean times.

Vacation Deprived? 5 Tips to Taking Time Off (Without Going Out of Business)

July 20th, 2009

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Feel like you don’t take enough time off?

 

You’re not alone.

A recent article in the Globe and Mail found most people don’t take all the time off they have coming to them. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/managing/stressing-over-summer-vacation/article1171316/

Below shows the average number of holidays workers around the world have and how they use them.

Canada - 19 holdidays. Workers who don’t use them all = 24%

France - 38 holidays. Workers who don’t use them all = 22%

Japan - 15 holidays. Workers who don’t use them all = 92% 

Yikes!

If you’re a solopreneur you might be thinking, “Vacation!? Who’s got time for that?” and you either end up working during your ‘vacation’ or not taking the time off.

Gimme a Break.

The 3 secrets to profitable real estate investment is location, location, location. The 3 secrets to ensuring you don’t return from vacation feeling like you need another vacation (from your vacation) or discovering you’ve gone out of business are…

Planning, planning, planning.

1. Holida-ay! You can’t take it off if you don’t know when it is. Open a calendar (try hanging a full year calendar on the wall). Mark the days you must take off - weddings, graduations, Christmas etc. Seems like a lot? We’re not done yet…

2. I Feel a Cold Coming On. Remember the ‘good ole’ 9-5? Calling in sick (even if you weren’t - i.e. playoff season) and still getting paid? Ahhh. Ahem! Now you’re the boss and you never get sick, right? Of course you do. So plan for it. Add a few sick days (per month) to your calendar (even if you won’t use them all).

3. Resistence is Futile.  Include all statutory holidays. Want to beat the crowds? Take you ’stats’ on different days. Either way, you’ve likely earned ‘em so don’t skip ‘em.       

4. Are You Busy This Weekend? Again, your weekends don’t have to be Saturday and Sunday - they don’t even have to be paired up - chose what works for you.

Stand back. Take a deep breath. Looks like more holidays than work days? There aren’t. It’s just a realistic picture of your time off.

The Flip Side

5. All Work and No Play… You’ve mapped out your works days too. Think about it - you’ve just planned your entire work year.  

Planning your vacation actually makes you more efficient AND much more effective in planning your work days in order to meet your holiday targets - talk about motivation.

How successful are you at taking time off? What’s one proactive step you can take today to make sure you give yourself more time off?

Help! I Need a Vacation! How to Take Time Off When You’re the Boss

June 22nd, 2009

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A lot of solopreneurs think taking time off means losing business, but it you plan it right, time off actually makes you super effective.

No one would work for an employer who refused them time off - why are you?

Not taking time off is like not taking time to sleep - adrenaline and willpower can only get you only so far.

Once you’re past ‘business start-up’ there’s no excuse not to take holidays. In fact, it’s one of the best ways to help create a sustainable business.

So, how do you do it?

1. Cash Stash.You can’t enjoy time off when you’re worried about every last dime. Set up an automatic withdraw from your pay that goes directly into a high interest savings account. 10% of gross is pretty standard. You won’t miss it, trust me. 

2. As Time Goes By. Track it using a calendar - mark off weekends, statutory days, sick days, weddings, birthdays, summer vacation etc. for the entire year. Start now. Stick to it. The flip side - you’ve just plotted an entire year of work days too.

3. “Help me, Help you!” A great line from Jerry Maguire. People are willing to help - get out of their (and your) way. Think Virtual Assistants*, Online Business Managers*, designers, tech support etc.

4. ‘Back in 1  Hour’.Use Auto-responders to let your clients know you’ll be away - and when you’ll be back. You’ll get breathing room with fewer emails. 

5. A Rolling Stone. TV is an effective distraction, but include active activities too - bowling, kayaking, socializing, etc. It temporarily disconnects your ’work brain’ , evolves your work/life perspective AND provides space for your subconscious to generate ideas and solutions for work without having to try! 

What strategies have you tried to help make taking time off easier?

12 Tips to a Better Blog Post

June 16th, 2009

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1.       Be Unique – just like everybody else. Seriously, stand out by taking a stand the way only you can.

 

 

2.       Use Catchy Headlines. Provocative, helpful, promising a solution to a problem, etc. If it doesn’t ‘hook’ it won’t catch.

 

 

3.       Use Photos Where Appropriate. A picture is worth a thousand dollars (or could be if it gets people into your e-world).

 

 

4.       Get to Your Point and Move On. It’s a sprint, not a marathon. Need more than 250 words to make your point? Write a newsletter.

 

 

5.       Beginning, Middle, End. Have one of each. Don’t laugh. You’d be surprised.

 

 

6.       Focus. Make one major point per post. Too many ideas in a single post leads to long-winded confusion.

 

 

 

7.       “No offence, but…” Your posts will be criticised from time to time – don’t take it personally. Learn from any feedback (if you can) and move on. At least people are reading.

 

 

 

8.       Edit. Nothing annoys a reader faster than distracting errers.

 

 

 

9.       Don’t Be a Weak Link. Posts with links to related web pages help drive more traffic.

 

 

 

10.   Season with Keywords. What keywords will people use to search for your post? Include them in the text, titles and headers.

 

 

 

11.   Any questions? Asking questions of readers at the end of a post encourages feedback and interaction.

 

12.   Don’t follow the rules. Think of this list more as principles rather than rules. You never know what works and what doesn’t unless you try it. (BTW, this post is over 250 words).

 

If you still hate doing your posts or have no time but need a blog post to generate traffic why not hire a freelancer? Find someone who knows how to write effectively and can do so in your voice.

 

What tips have you discovered that have helped you make your blog posts more effective?