Six Ways Running A Small Business Is Like Raising A Rescue Pit Bull

I started my freelance writing business in 2010. My family and I adopted an adolescent pit bull mix from a rescue organizationYoung black and white pit bull with family on adoption day in late 2015.

 

Although the two endeavors may seem unrelated, I’ve discovered many parallels exist between being a “mom” to our pittie, Lulu, and running my business. Both have brought their fair share of challenges and triumphs. And in many ways, they’ve required a similar mindset and methodology to move things in a positive, productive direction.

What running a small business and raising a rescue pit bull have in common:

You need patience.

Building a successful business doesn’t happen overnight, and there are often setbacks along the way. Similarly, gaining the trust and respect of a rescue pup may require an extended time frame. When I transitioned from a corporate job to starting my own business, it took a couple of years before I went from “feast or famine” mode to having a consistently full plate of work from clients. After adopting Lulu one year ago (she had two homes and was in residence at a rescue twice prior to coming to us), we’re still working on some trust and behavioral issues. Patience isn’t optional when raising a dog that has been through disruption and disappointment—nor is it optional when building a business.

 

You can’t get lazy.

Starting and running a business requires your energy and attention nearly all of the time. Likewise, pit bulls are of a breed that typically needs A LOT of exercise and mental stimulation. You need to stay motivated and put forth constant effort to make things work. Lulu needs miles of brisk walks each day, bouts of play when she can go “all out” to expend pent-up energy, and training exercises to stimulate her brain. Without those things, she becomes mischievous and less obedient, akin to a naughty toddler.

 

Similarly, your business will retaliate if you ignore its basic needs. Unless you tend to every aspect of running your company, you’ll eventually lose control.

 

Bad behavior, if not corrected, could come back to bite you.

I don’t mean that literally. Pit bulls get a bad rap even though they ranked 4th among 122 different canine breeds in temperament testing by the American Temperament Test Society, Inc. But I digress.

 

With Lulu, I’ve learned that consistently reinforcing good behavior and discouraging what isn’t desirable has helped her gain more self-control and confidence in stressful or overstimulating situations. Mixed messages don’t work when training rescue dogs—and they don’t work in business either. If you pick up bad habits and don’t make the effort to follow through on what you begin, you’ll either miss—or screw up—opportunities. Exercising self-discipline and setting ground rules are the keys to accomplishing your goals.

 

You might bite off more than you can chew if you don’t do some research first.

Although I’ve always had dogs as part of my family, Lulu is my first pit bull. Because her breed is so widely misunderstood, adopting her brought with it a higher level of responsibility than if we had rescued a different type of dog. Thankfully, we took some time to educate ourselves about pit bulls before jumping in and bringing her home. Oh, we still met some surprises and challenges, but having a foundation of knowledge and understanding has definitely helped us.

Similarly, if you don’t prepare yourself with some self-education before starting and running a business, you could find yourself overwhelmed. With legal, accounting, marketing, sales, and every other responsibility to manage, you need take stock of what you know, what you don’t know, and what resources you’ll need to cover all the bases.

 

There’s no one-size-fits-all system for success.

Some training techniques that have worked for other pit bull owners have not worked for us. Some popular approaches to thwarting undesirable behavior either excite Lulu, putting her into crazy overstimulation mode, or they have no effect at all. We’ve had to go through a long process of trial and error.

 

Running a business successfully also requires experimentation. What has worked for other business owners won’t necessarily be the right M.O. for you. While it’s to your advantage to be open to advice from others, consider that your situation isn’t the same as theirs.

 

I’ve also discovered that to some degree I need to adjust my working style to accommodate individual clients’ needs and preferences. Although I have some standard rules of engagement that I’m not willing to comprise, I’ve found it’s extremely beneficial to exercise some flexibility. For example, with some clients I collaborate and exchange information predominantly via email, attaching content via Word documents. With others, I share content via Google Drive. And then others prefer using Trello. The point is, you’ll likely find your clients will have their own way of doing things, and you’ll add value and gain loyalty by accommodating them. Before you agree, however, make sure their approach will work efficiently for you and won’t add unreasonable amounts of time or cost.

 

It’s well worth the hard work.

There’s satisfaction in seeing positive results after you’ve put mind, body, and soul into an endeavor. This is true when your business is thriving and when raising a rescue dog who becomes well adjusted in your care.

 

When I think about how I went from “zero” customers and feeling as though I had to grab whatever work I could find to now having loyal, quality clients who often max-out project schedule, I’m thankful and fulfilled.

 

As for Lulu, I feel pride and a sense of great accomplishment at how far she has come in so many ways since we brought her home a little over a year ago.

 

Your Responsibility as “Leader Of The Pack”

Whether you’re running a business or raising a pit bull, to make it work you must pledge your commitment to putting forth the effort and not shying away from the challenge. You’ll have good days when the world is all belly rubs and off-leash romps. You’ll have crappy days that feel like long, long walks on a short leash.

As the pack leader, it’s on you to make the most of opportunities and overcome obstacles.

 

Your turn: If you’re a entrepreneur and pit bull (or other breed) dog mom/dad, what parallels have you drawn between running your business and raising your rescue dog?

And for those of you just considering making a pet a part of your family, remember to “adopt don’t shop”!

What You—And Only You—Can Take Responsibility For

I just wrote a guest post about accountability for the TDS Business blog that broached the subject from the standpoint of how to be accountable for getting Finger pointing at youthings done in your business. As a self-employed small business owner, you don’t have a boss breathing down your neck, formal performance reviews, or a structured monetary award incentive to motivate you. It’s all you.

 

But besides the down and dirty business stuff, there’s another thing you need to hold yourself accountable for. YOU are the only person with ultimate responsibility for it.

 

Taking care of yourself. Physically. Mentally.

 

And your success in doing so hinges a great deal on managing stress.

 

Stress Sucks.

According to statistics provided by the American Psychological Association and American Institute of Stress (which I found on the American Institute of Stress website), 77 percent of people in the U.S. regularly experience physical symptoms caused by stress. And 73 percent experience psychological symptoms because of stress.

 

That’s nearly all of us. Rather astounding and unnerving, don’t you think? But it’s a little reassuring, too. If you’ve felt the effects of stress like I have, it’s sort of nice to know we’re not alone. We’re not the only ones who have dealt with the ramifications of letting stuff get to us:

 

  • Tightened neck muscles
  • Nervousness and inability to relax
  • Never a good night’s sleep
  • Headaches
  • Moodiness
  • Upset stomach and wacked out digestion
  • No energy

 

The list goes on.

 

Unfortunately, there’s not always a way to eliminate the work and home pressures that add stress to our lives. But the one thing we can do is take responsibility for prepping our bodies and minds to deal with stress more effectively.

 

The Stress-Busting Trio

I’m not a doctor, psychologist, nutritionist, or any other variety of health and wellness expert, so I’m not going to tell you what you should do. But I know what it’s like to have competing priorities and to feel the overwhelming pressure of trying to get everything done (and done “right”). So I thought I’d share some thoughts on what helps me keep stress levels under control in hopes it will help you explore ways to manage stress better.

 

I’ve found my success at dealing with stress depends largely on how attentive I am to three things.

 

  • Exercising
    I’ve been working out for over thirty years and can’t imagine how much of a frazzled mess I’d be if I didn’t get that boost of endorphins that comes from some physical exertion and sweat. Exercise helps reduce anxiety and improve mood and sleep. And then there’s the side benefit of getting fit and feeling better about yourself.
    Now that I work from home, I find it more manageable and mentally beneficial to break my workouts into smaller chunks and do them throughout the day rather than doing a single longer workout.

    According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, I seem to be on the right track with that approach, “Studies have found that people who spend more time each day watching television, sitting, or riding in cars have a greater chance of dying early than people who spend less time on their duffs. Researchers speculate that sitting for hours on end may change peoples’ metabolism in ways that promote obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions.”

    As solopreneurs and small business owners, we typically do a lot of work at our desks or sitting in a sedentary state somewhere. In addition to refreshing our minds, fitting in breaks to get our bodies moving could help us keep some potential health issues at bay.

    Not sure you have the discipline to do it? Consider getting one of those fitness bands like the Vivofit (that’s the one I have), that tracks your steps throughout the day and raises the equivalent of a red flag whenever you’ve been planted on your behind for an extended period of time.

 

  • Eating Smart
    “You are what you eat.” I’ve found that to be true. Certain foods can trigger and aggravate stress, particularly processed foods like soft drinks, fast food, microwave and out-of-the-box meals that are pretty much void of nutrients and full of sugar, sodium, and additives.

    I notice a big difference in my ability to concentrate and to deal with challenges when I stray from eating whole foods and indulge in quick convenience foods instead. There’s plenty of evidence to support that food plays an important role in regulating cortisol (the stress hormone) levels. That gives us very good reason to eat wisely.

 

  • Sleeping Enough
    It’s a vicious, frustrating cycle; stress can interfere with your sleep and not getting enough sleep can make you feel more stressed. According to the National Sleep Foundation’s recommendations, adults from 26 – 64 years old should get between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each day.

    Hands down, sleep (or lack of it) is the one thing above all else that can make or break my day.

 

It’s a Package Deal

All of the above don’t work as well alone as they do together—at least not in my experience. Eating better makes me feel more energetic when exercising, and exercise facilitates better sleep at night, and better sleep at night makes me more inclined to exercise.

 

My outlook, energy level, and productivity are all more optimal when I make the trio of exercise, eating well, and sleep a priority. And only I can hold myself responsible for doing those things.

 

How accountable have you been for managing stress and taking better care of yourself? It’s not always easy when you’re schedule is jam-packed and you’re pulled in multiple directions. But remember, if you don’t do it. No one else will do it for you.

 

As I finished this post, by friend, client, mastermind group colleague, and all-around savvy small business owner Rachel Strella posted an article reminding us how important it is to take time for ourselves. Check it out!

By Dawn Mentzer

Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

 

 

7 Things Small Business Owners and Oscar Nominees have in Common

I can’t say I’ve ever heard anyone describe running a small business as wildly glamorous. In fact, most small business Oscar statue - Small biz and the Oscarsowners and solopreneurs find themselves doing work that hardly resembles walking the red carpet in Versace or Dior. But after some thought, I’ve decided we aren’t so completely different. Here’s why…

7 Ways Small Business Owners are Like Oscar Nominees:

  • Sometimes you get passed over even if you perform better than your competition.
    It sucks. You’re just as deserving as they are, but for whatever reason, your competitor gets the client. Life isn’t always fair nor rational.
  • Sometimes you need to act graciously even when you’re yelling or crying inside.
    Occasionally you have to put on a happy face and grin and bear projects that don’t go as well as expected and clients who are less than cooperative or appreciative.
  • Sometimes you have to dress to impress.
    When you’re meeting certain clients, attending events, and making presentations, you’ve got to look professional and polished.
  • It can feel like an eternity until you find out you’ve been awarded the prize.
    Sometimes, you submit a proposal promptly…and then need to wait. And wait.
  • Sometimes “who you know” helps you get the really good roles.
    How well connected you are in the business community can lead to referrals and primo projects.
  • No matter how good you are, not everyone will love you.
    You can’t please all of the people all of the time. Clients have different working styles and personalities. It will be easier to work with some than others.
  •  Becoming an A-Lister doesn’t happen overnight.
    Overnight successes are few and far between. You have to work hard, do quality work, and build a following. It takes time.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ Post

 

 

Image courtesy of Danilo Rizzuti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Is Your Business a Pain in the Neck?

Running a small business rocks in so many ways, but it can also be a pain in the neck…and the back. Literally. Endless Professional with neck painhours at the computer and nearly non-stop attention to your smartphone screen can put your body in a posture it’s not naturally designed to maintain for a prolonged amount of time. Eventually, that abuse leads to pain…which can thwart concentration, make us less productive, and make us cranky.

That’s not good for business.

Q&A about Posture and Productivity

I reached out to respected chiropractor Dr. Lee Lausch of proActive Pain Relief & Wellness in Lancaster County, PA for his insight on this topic…

Question: In your practice, what are the most common physical complaints you hear from professional people which are directly related to poor posture?

Dr. Lausch: The most common complaint related to poor posture is neck and upper back pain accompanied by headaches. This is due to the forward head posture that develops from computer overuse and phone overuse. For every inch that the head is forward of center, its like adding an extra 10-12 pounds of stress to the neck and upper back musculature and joints.

Question: What is the connection between those ailments and poor posture? Why does poor posture cause those problems?

Dr. Lausch: Poor posture is a synonym for bad biomechanics. So when the spine is out of alignment, it results in abnormal wear and tear on the body resulting in stress and pain.

Question: In addition to the physical symptoms, how does poor posture affect cognitive ability?

Dr. Lausch: This is a great question. Again, with bad biomechanics (a.k.a. poor posture), the result is abnormal stress. Ninety percent of the brain’s activity is spent making sure all of its parts are in the right place for optimal function. When the parts are NOT in the right position (poor posture), then the brain overworks trying to regain balance. This causes a drain on the brain!

Question: Do you see a correlation between the number of hours someone spends at a desk and their propensity to developing posture-related problems?

Dr. Lausch: Absolutely! We are designed to move. When we are sedentary and sitting behind a desk, we dramatically increase poor posture causing stress-related problems.

Question: What can people do on their own to improve and prevent the physical and cognitive effects of poor posture? What things should they keep top of mind so they can be more productive?

Dr. Lausch: Take breaks from sitting. Get up and move around even if it’s only 10-20 seconds at a time, but move frequently – at least 1-2 times during every hour of sitting. An effective exercise to combat forward head posture is squeeze the shoulder blades back and bend the head back-hold this squeeze for 3 seconds and repeat 4-5 times. This exercise should be done once for every 30 minutes of sitting.

Question: For people who seem unable to improve productivity-inhibiting posture on their own, What professional medical/alternative treatments are most effective?

Dr. Lausch: The best fix and or prevention of poor posture and the related problems is treatment from a structurally focused Doctor of Chiropractic. This would involve a biomechanical evaluation and a treatment plan that would include postural corrective exercises. In addition, a well-designed strength program is essential for optimal performance over the long haul. As we age, we lose strength and this contributes to bad posture. Offsetting strength decline dramatically increases overall health and well being.

_____________________

Pain can be a serious problem for your small business if you’re not able to keep up physically and mentally with the challenges you meet every day. This is a topic near and dear to me because – with a notable degree of adult scoliosis – I’m always looking for ways to keep pain at bay and keep my productivity optimal. While working to improve your posture can’t cure all ills, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. Make it a priority – and don’t let your business be a pain in the neck.

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Client Relationships: There’s No Room for “Us” vs. “Them” – Only “We” in Small Business

Building strong relationships with clients stands at the center of the the small business universe.

An “us” vs. “them” mentality when working with clients isn’t only unproductive, it can be debilitating. What joy and No us vs. them - just we in small businesssatisfaction is there in working with people you view as your opponents?  Clients aren’t the enemy. Sure, occasionally you’ll meet one who puts your patience to the test, but if you’ve been careful about choosing who you work with, overall you’ll find clients are good people with good intentions. And to state the obvious, your business needs them!

From the very start of my freelance career nearly 5 years ago, I quickly discovered the best way to establish trust and loyalty when working with clients is to interact with them as partners.

When you approach relationships with clients as partnerships, your clients feel comfortable to approach them that way, too. I believe the way to “we” starts with us and how we interact with clients.

Ways to demonstrate a “We” mindset when building and maintaining client relationships:

  • Communicate often.
  • Communicate clearly.
  • Take an interest in them as people, not just income sources.
  • Make an effort to understand their expectations and goals.
  • Go the extra mile to share articles and resources you think might benefit their businesses.
  • Interact with them on social media.
  • Apologize if you make a mistake.
  • When clients make mistakes, gently present the facts rather than point fingers.
  • Address misunderstandings quickly and politely.
  • Be honest.
  • Be attentive.
  • Be responsive.
  • Let them in…Be open to sharing about yourself beyond your business.
  • Acknowledge and celebrate their successes.

The benefits a “We” mindset brings to your small business:

  • Strengthens clients’ loyalty to you.
  • Results in mutual respect/less stress.
  • More relaxed working environment.
  • Leads to repeat business.
  • Creates camaraderie – and often friendships.
  • Can lead to higher quality referrals.
  • Makes work seem less like work.

While a We mindset takes two, you can move your client relationships in that direction by how you choose to interact with and treat your clients. It requires some extra effort to approach business that way, but I can’t imagine doing it any other way. Can you?

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

15 Moments When Your Business Needs Your Unconditional Love

Starting a small business is exciting. Fraught with novelty and excitement. While it would sure be great if every day from day one onward would be an awe-inspiring adventure,  not all of them will be. Eventually, the fiery honeymoon period ends and your sensible, steady love for your business and what you do will need to sustain and motivate you.

Your business needs your unconditional love!

You need to love your business even when…

  1. You feel overworked.
  2. You don’t have as much work as you’d like.
  3. Not everything is going your way.
  4. You miss out on a great opportunity.
  5. You take an opportunity that isn’t as great as you thought it might be.
  6. A client misunderstands you.
  7. You misunderstand a client.
  8. Payments arrive late.
  9. Your checkbook or credit card statement doesn’t reconcile with Quickbooks.
  10. People doubt you.
  11. You doubt yourself.
  12. You lose a good client.
  13. You gain a not so good client.
  14. Computer issues set you behind schedule.
  15. ________________________. [Insert business challenge here]

Although it’s natural to become frustrated and stressed at times, you can refrain from losing your cool by remembering what you love most about being in business for yourself. As you go about your daily routine day after day and week after week, you might have lost sight of that.

So take a deep breath, and remind yourself about how liberating it is to have the opportunity to do work that means something to you. Focus on the flexibility self-employment has provided you. Think about how running your own business has helped you grow and develop professionally – and personally.

There’s A LOT to love!

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 

 

 

How to Give Your Small Business Staying Power on Social Media

Here today; gone tomorrow. On social media networks, that describes a lot of solopreneurs and small business owners. If Marathon runneryou’ve been using social media consistently, you’ve probably noticed some people and brands start strong, but then drop off the radar almost completely. I’ve especially noticed it on Twitter. In my three years actively using the network for business, I’ve seen people go from tweeting and interacting full throttle to running out of gas, their tweets coming to a full stop. It happens on all of the other networks, too…Google+, Facebook, Pinterest…

But why? If people know (and most do) that building brand awareness and professional relationships on social media takes prolonged and consistent effort, why do so many give up?

It’s simple: They bite off more than they can chew and get overwhelmed in trying to keep up amid all of their other business responsibilities.

Tips for Giving Staying Power to your Social Media Efforts

If you – or someone you know – is struggling with keeping current on social media, here are a few pointers that might help:

Educate yourself about how much activity is needed to gain traction on the various social media channels.

Twitter, for example, requires significantly more posts to stay top of mind because of its fast and furious nature. By contrast, connections would find it overkill if you posted that many updates on Linkedin. By knowing how much posting and interacting individual networks demand for gaining notice and building goodwill, you’ll better be able to choose which are right for you.

Be realistic about how much time and effort you can – and are willing to – devote to social media networking.

Far worse than not being on a popular social media channel is being there with a severely neglected account. If you haven’t posted a status update on your Facebook page for 3 months, you need to make a decision: either get active or cut the cord. The same goes for any other online social network. Are you committed to putting in the time and work to stay consistent with each of your social media networks? If no, are you willing to delegate or outsource your social media responsibilities? If no again, it’s time to close some accounts.

Learn and use social media tools.

Time-saving, productivity-boosting online tools can make a big difference in how well you’ll be able to manage your social networks. I use both Hootsuite (which also has a wonderful dashboard component) and Buffer for scheduling posts. Using an RSS reader like Feedly will help you keep content sources readily accessible when you’re looking for relevant articles to share with your audience. Also important: organizing the connections in your network (for example, via aptly-named circles in Google+ and lists in Twitter) to make it easier to keep tabs on posts by the key people (e.g. clients, prospects) you want to interact with. And don’t downplay the power of mobile apps! Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Linkedin…they all have mobile apps for Android and iOS. Use them to keep up on your networks when you’ve got idle time waiting for a client at a coffee shop or when you’re in line at the grocery store.

Have a plan.

For some people, having a pre-set content calendar helps keep them on track. This may or may not work for you depending on your type of business. When creating content in advance, you run the risk of appearing like you’re sharing yesterday’s news. Still, it’s good to at least have a loose plan for how you’ll approach your social media activities. Establish how often you’ll aim to post updates, how often you’ll login to your networks to interact with others, and what mix of content you’ll share (article links, photos, videos, contests, etc.).


Last but not least…

Don’t be too hard on yourself if you fall short! Occasionally, you will. We all do! Expect times when you won’t fulfill your social media commitments. Life happens. Work happens. Both can throw unexpected surprises that can derail your best laid social media plans. When they do, don’t look back and beat yourself up over it. Instead look forward and pick up where you left off. Just don’t give up!

 

 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Two Things Your Small Business Success Depends On

If you’ve got a great product or service that satisfies a need in the market, but things just aren’t falling into place for yourProcess diagram small business, you might have a problem somewhere in your processes and systems. No matter how small or artsy your business is – and even if you don’t have them written down – your processes and systems are there. While they might sound like yucky, boring, stick-in-the-mud stuff, you should give them some thought and attention. They affect every success and failure you experience.

What is a “process” and what is a “system”?

According to Merriam-Webster online, they’re defined as:

Process – “a series of actions that produce something or that lead to a particular result”
System – “a group of related parts that move or work together”

It stands to reason that to get results, you need processes. And you need systems to help you execute and maintain your processes.

Processes and systems applied in a small business

At the start of 2014, I joined a small online mastermind group, that’s got me looking at my business in a different way. It’s challenging me to think about the systems and processes behind my freelance company and how they affect my success. In a way, I’m rediscovering by business by thinking in these terms. While I hadn’t acknowledged or officially defined all of them in the past, virtually everything I do in my line of work is guided by processes supported by systems.

I have processes for:

  • Managing my blog
  • Fielding and qualifying leads
  • Prospecting for new business
  • Creating proposals and estimates
  • Maintaining working relationships with clients
  • Executing project work
  • Executing hourly work
  • Marketing
  • Invoicing clients
  • Receiving client payments

My systems to support my processes consist of a variety of platforms and tools:

  • WordPress
  • My bank
  • My credit card
  • Email (Gmail and Google Apps)
  • Social media platforms: Linkedin, Twitter, Google+, Facebook,
  • Social media apps: Hootsuite & Buffer
  • Quickbooks
  • Evernote
  • Trello
  • Toggl
  • Memberships to various local networking groups.
  • My calendar
  • My smartphone
  • My whiteboard
  • Sticky notes

Essentially, everything that goes right or wrong in my business can somehow be traced back to a success or failure within my processes and system components.

While you might drive yourself to the brink by trying to lay out everything you do into perfectly-detailed processes, it can help to at the very least recognize your business functions that involve multiple steps and identify the systems/components that support your efforts to accomplish them. That way, you can objectively look back on what you did and how you did it to discover why something fell through the cracks and determine what needs to be fixed or removed from the equation.

So the next time your check book balance isn’t matching up with your accounting records, or you’re falling behind on project deadlines, or your engagement on social media has plummeted, or you’ve missed out on an assignment because you responded too late…look a little deeper. There’s probably a process or system that needs some tweaking.

Special thanks to my mastermind cohorts, Rachel Strella, Jennifer Grigg, and Terry League for their insight and support. 

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What the 91% of Small Biz Owners Who Do Their Own Marketing Need to Think About in 2014

According to results from an AWeber survey, 91% of small business owners are also the primary marketers for their companies. Whoa! Marketing in itself is challenging and time-consuming, but even more stressful and daunting is when it’s one of many other business-critical responsibilities on your overflowing plate.

So much to do; so little time. Where should you put your efforts in the limited hours you have to market your business?

The marketing tactics small business owners say they will focus on in  this year:


Data and infographic by AWeber

There’s no such thing as “one-size-fits-all” marketing, but there are some universal considerations nearly every small business owner should make top of mind…

  • Make sure you have adequate time to plan and execute effectively. Not all social networks and tactics take the same amount of time and attention. If you don’t have the capacity to keep up with them, either look to do something different, or hire someone/outsource the responsibility.
  • Go where your audience is. As of December 31, 2013, Facebook had 1.23 billion monthly active users.* That’s a bunch, but if you’re a B2B consulting business targeting mid-size company CEOs you might be wasting your time with a business Facebook page.  Don’t squander your time on social media channels that won’t reach your target market.
  • Don’t treat online networking and face-to-face networking as two separate initiatives. If you do, you’ll miss out on opportunities to build relationships and trust. Nearly every professional you meet at an in-person networking event will have – at the very least – a Linkedin account. Connect so you’ll have an easy and noninvasive way to maintain contact long after the networking event is over. And don’t forget to find out which other social networks they – or their companies – have a presence on. Social media can help you stay on the radar and generate goodwill when you show support via your interaction. Likewise, seek to strengthen online networking with face-to-face conversations whenever possible. Reach out to local contacts to see if you can connect at an upcoming chamber mixer, industry trade show, seminar, etc. Those multiple touch points can result in strong business development outcomes.

 

Final note:

When you’re a solopreneur or small business owner who does it all in your business, it’s impossible to do it all in marketing. Be smart and selective when choosing where to devote your time, energy, and hard-earned money. You’ll find it’s better to do one or two things well than to spread yourself too thin and flounder while trying to do five or six.

 

Your turn: What marketing tactics are you focusing on most in 2014? Have you given any up since 2013? I’d love to hear from you!

 

By Dawn Mentzer

 

*According to the Facebook Newsroom – accessed January, 30, 2014

The Four-Letter Word I’m Removing From My Business Vocabulary

Can you guess what it is?

B – U – S – Y

Perhaps not what you were expecting, but that’s the one: “Busy”Strikethrough of "busy"

The reason? We use…no, we OVER use…it to such a large degree it has become nearly void of meaning. Ask someone how their week was: “It was busy!” Ask someone how work is going: “I’m so busy!”

Busy, busy, busy. We’re all busy in our own minds, and we’ve gotten to the point where we’ve lost all sensitivity to and sympathy for the busyness of others. I don’t think most of us even empathize with other busy people because we always think we’re busier than they are. I know I am. You probably are, too.

Banning “busy”

I’ve decided that no matter how hectic or crowded my professional and personal plates get, I will no longer refer to my schedule’s condition as “busy.”

That doesn’t mean I won’t let people know if I’m unavailable to attend a meeting or work on an assignment; it just means I will choose other words to more meaningfully express my situation. Something like, “I’m sorry, but I have other commitments this week. Could we look at some alternate dates toward the end of  next week?”

Saying you’re busy means nothing because “busy” is relative. We all have different tolerance levels for taking on responsibilities. Others will have a greater understanding of – and maybe even an appreciation –  for your workload and schedule conflicts if you communicate your busyness in other terms.

No more “busy” starts today

Starting today, I hereby banish the word “busy” from my vocabulary. If you catch me using it to describe my present or future calendar’s condition, I expect you to call me out on it.

Not only will banning “busy” result in more accurate conveyance of my working availability, I expect it might also alleviate some stress. Ever notice how just thinking about how busy you are seems to push your blood pressure to the ceiling?

Unfortunately, eliminating busy from your pool of acceptable words won’t remove tasks and projects from your schedule, but I expect it could remove the propensity to think so much about how busy you are. And that could free your brain to better focus and accomplish more in less time so you’ll be less busy all the time. Here’s hoping anyway!

 

Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post
By Dawn Mentzer