Grow Your Business Network is an education-based marketing company that creates and produces on- and off-line third-party endorsement and content for Fortune 500 companies as a way to gain more meaningful connection and brand loyalty with their target audiences.
Founded in 1990 and based in historic Concord, Massachusetts, President and CEO Nancy Michaels has worked with companies such as Office Depot, WalMart/Sam’s Club, AT&T, UPS, Alcatel-Lucent, Constant Contact, Avis/Budget Rental Cars, among numerous other clients.
In addition, GYBN teaches small business owners how to land large corporations as clients and leverage their unique message out to millions of people via these corporate client relationships.
Grow Your Business Network is THE place to find all the latest and best ways to grow your business through marketing, publicity and low-cost initiatives.
Clients and prospects often ask how we’ve managed to land so many Fortune 500 companies as clients and created unique and first-of-its-kind educational programming that increases the lifetime value of our client’s customers and individual spend. It’s simple. It’s our job to make our clients look stellar in the eyes of their prospects and clients.
GYBN’s collective background in television production, publicity and on-line marketing in the retail and service industries brings a unique blending of ingredients to our client base. We have an ability to position our clients as providing exceptional value in unexpected ways to their respective target markets that allow for unwavering loyalty and increase profits and sets them apart from their competition through these innovative marketing initiatives.
Each of our strengths have resulted in loyal marketing programs produced with cost efficiency and maximizing return on investment on behalf of our clients in mind. In fact, here is what only a sampling of our clients are saying about GYBN:
Click here to see video testimonials and CEO endorsements of Nancy Michaels
GYBN has always been well-known and respected for providing quality on-and off-line content, educational programming and endorsement programming to our prestigious client base. If you want to see what we're up to, be sure to connect with us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook!
We recently posted a blog on The Business Skinny entitled Celebrate Weird Holidays (Even Ones You Never Knew About). In this blog post, we talked about getting noticed – at no cost to you – by honoring these fun, kooky holidays.
Speaking of celebrations, did you know that today is National Hug Your Plumber Day?
Yes, it's true. And Duluth Trading Company in Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, is saying thanks to all of the American Plumbing Heroes that do our dirty work and keep us really happy a flush at a time.
Duluth sells clothing – business and rugged – for both men and women, power tools and accessories for the average hard worker. Duluth has provided step-by-step instructions on how best to hug your plumber here.
Why would Duluth want to dedicate their resources to this cause?
Well, it's the exposure, of course. And their results proved it. Let's take a look at why this was a brilliantly executed strategy for a smaller company:
1. Duluth first won the hearts of the public and generated a ton of energy when they launched their contest to find America's Greatest Plumbing Hero.
They offered a grand prize of a $250 Duluth Trading Gift Certificate and Lifetime Supply of Longtail Ts. The Longtail T, according to Duluth, is the cure for (ahem) a well known plumber "wardrobe issue."
2. People from all of the United States wrote in to nominate their favorite plumber, which created extra buzz and web traffic.
3. They used a funny, 30-second video to promote their content, Longtail Ts and overall brand. Watch it here.
4. They made us laugh! Anytime you can "crack" a joke it helps people remember you and increases your likelihood of going viral.
We salute you Duluth Trading Company, for building a superb campaign.
This is dedicated to all of the plumbers out there who are "flush" with great skills.
A lot of people think budgeting, numbers and accounting are boring – and oftentimes confusing – subject matters. But that's only because they've been too afraid to try it or have the wrong idea about numbers. Numbers mean everything in your business. Let's face it – at the end of the day, if you don't have dollar signs hitting your bank account, why are you in business? Numbers define whether or not you have a hobby or a business. They represent your retirement, which can bring about a great deal of peace of mind. Numbers also let you know if you are on target for reaching your goals. I can't believe I'm actually saying this, but accounting and tracking can be fun and even plain addicting if you understand that numbers don't lie – they are your best friend! They always tell the truth about whether you are on track or not.
The Numbers Tell You Where Your Business Really Is.
Perhaps the first – and best – benefit of accounting is that it tells you, clearly and in number form, where your business stands. If your business is doing well, you'll know. If your business is failing, you'll know that as well. You can make EDUCATED adjustments along the way – not hunches and "I-hope-this-one-really-works-out-so-we-don't-go-under!" projections. Many business owners make the mistake of "not wanting to know" the facts, thinking that if they realized they were in the red, they'd have a heart attack or be forced to make a tough decision – maybe even closing those doors. But trust me, the nasty shock of finding out the truth is still easier to deal with than a business that fails unexpectedly in the end! And when you face the facts, there is still hope that you can grow your business, or salvage it if it's in trouble. Do you have accounting mindset stories to share? Post your comments below!
Managing a business is hard work, because nothing ever stays the same for long. But change CAN be easier, especially if you spend the right amount of time building and expanding your business's network. Here's how smart networking can help you manage change much more easily in the future.
The Two Kinds of Change
First of all, there are two kinds of change that affect your business. The first one is change that just happens to you, outside of your control. The second one is change that you actually bring about yourself. Which of the two is easier to manage? Easy – it's the second kind of change, the one you bring about yourself. And in your business, change becomes more manageable when you're in control!
The two "types" listed above also apply to networking. Networking happens to you whether you choose it or not – family, friends and colleagues introduce you to new people and businesses all the time. If you're not used to networking, this by itself can be pretty stressful. So why not CHOOSE to expand your network? When you actually go out there and meet new people, you're basically bringing about the change yourself, instead of waiting (and dreading) for it to happen to you. It puts you in CONTROL.
Expanding Your Network
Expanding your network can be difficult, especially if you feel like interacting with other people isn't your strong suit. It's easiest when you start with your existing network — friends, family and colleagues — and expand slowly and steadily. Many of us are afraid of networking because of the sheer stress of it. But fear is simply a symptom of something else – ignorance. We naturally fear what we don't understand, after all! But that's why it's important to simply DO IT – the best way to learn about networking is to jump right in. Later on, as you build more and more relationships and generate more and more business, you'll realize that networking isn't so bad — or hard — after all.
I ran into my local Lowes last week to get a light fixture and two ceiling moldings for my home office and master bedroom. I hate to say that this is not a chore I love doing. I enter the store fraught with worry about whether or not I’ll get the right item, if there will be anyone on the floor to help me, how long will I have to wait for a knowledgable sales person to rear his or her head and be of service – you get the picture.
To make matters worse, I had three children waiting at home, two of whom had upcoming doctor’s appointments in my town – 18 miles away. Lo and behold, as I entered the designated “lighting” department, Errol – my soon-to-be hero, emerged. Errol looked to be in his late sixties and asked if he could assist me with the list of items I was holding in my hands.
“Absolutely,” I said, and proceeded to explain my list of wants/needs to him. In less than five minutes, Errol had assisted me in finding a two-light sconce to enlighten the descent into my finished basement/family room, and found two of the same ceiling moldings that we both agreed were better looking than the rest. As I thanked Errol profusely for helping me navigate the home super store, he told me it was his first day on the job. I said if things didn’t work out for him at Lowes, to give me a call and I’d hire him.
Conversely, I recently popped into my local bakery here in Concord, MA to buy the most delicious bread I’ve ever tasted – Olive Bread! Before me in line was a woman who was purchasing a sampling of pastries and desserts in clear containers. The array of delectable treats sat on the counter until it occurred to the 16-year-old girl who was waiting on this woman to ask her if she wanted a bag. Of course she did – how else could one woman manage 10 individually packaged treats from here to her car? The young girl began stacking them up so high in a plastic bag that the woman had to stop and request she give her a bag with a handle. Otherwise, the pastries would be sure to tip over and ruin the beautiful presentation that, no doubt, had something to do with the fee she was paying. The girl obliged with a ripped paper bag with a handle and, exasperated, the woman left the bakery.
Common sense is anything but common, I agree, but with age and experience comes wisdom. Fortunately, Lowes is a company that values maturity and in making the investment in people over the age of 60 – is making a sound business decision as well. I know the next time I need to pop into a home improvement super store, I’m going to look for Errol to help guide the way.
What's your customer service experiences based on age? Please share your stories with us!
Though networking has changed throughout the years, there are still many similarities between networking yesterday and today. After all, networking is fundamentally based on building new relationships with the people you meet, and later leveraging those relationships to build your career or business. But here are some differences that you may not be aware of, and which you can use to boost your networking efforts.
With the Internet, finding relevant contacts is much faster — and removes the need to meet the person face-to-face (at least in the beginning). Networking, as a result, has become faster and easier as well. It's also easier to keep track of your network with the tools the Internet offers. The Internet has also allowed individuals and businesses to network in a more focused manner. Back in the day, the best way to network was to join groups and events, which while random, was quite effective. But with the Internet, you can now build a network that isn't only broad, but also focused and responsive.
Sharing Is Now The Norm
The Internet has also introduced us to a side effect that's either welcome or unwelcome, depending on how you look at it — information overload. These days it's easy to find information, and the norm is to share your expertise with people who may need it, often for free. It may seem counter-intuitive to share so much of your information, but time has shown that it's a very effective networking — and marketing — activity. It would seem that the old proverb of "You get what you give" applies in today's networking scene.
The Fundamentals Of Networking Are Still Strong
No matter how technology and other developing trends may influence our networking habits, the fundamentals of networking still remain strong and in place. For instance, networking is still more effective when your primary intent is to build relationships with the people you meet, instead of trying to make a quick buck. It also pays to remember that you can't spend all your time networking! There's also the matter of actually sitting down and getting work done. And when it comes to building a career or a business, your network won't do it for you. It's still, for the most part, up to you.
One of the biggest reasons so many people hesitate to get into business — or why many existing businesses fail suddenly — is the business owner's fear of accounting. If that sounds familiar, this article is for you! We'll talk about how to keep track of your business finances — and have fun doing it, too!
Why Most Business Owners Fear Accounting
As the saying goes, "people fear what they don't understand." Naturally, when you don't know how accounting works and why it's so important to the survival of your business, you'll avoid it like the plague! That's why it's crucial to know how proper accounting can benefit your business, if only to dispel the misconceptions most of us have about it. The most obvious benefit keeping track of your business finances gives you is that in the end, you'll know where your business stands financially.
You'll know if it's sinking or swimming, and you'll know what's slowing down its growth. Accounting will clue you in on whether your business is charging too much or too little for its products and services, whether you're marketing too little or too much, or whether your target market is focused and sizable enough. And, yes, accounting will tell you what needs to be done. If you really want to be a money-maker in the future, you'll have to learn how accounting works. You'll have to know how money flows in and out of your business. And fortunately, it's easier than it sounds!
How To Get Into The Accounting Habit
If you REALLY hate numbers, you can avoid the problem by hiring a REALLY good accountant. Get someone who's helpful, available and communicative. And assemble a good financial team who keeps you updated on anything and everything involving your business finances. If you think you can handle it, it's a fact that it's always better to roll up your sleeves and get your hands dirty in accounting. The more you keep track of your business finances yourself, the more control you'll have over your business, and the better and more easily you'll steer it toward the goals you have for it. For many of us, simply keeping a balance sheet of assets, liabilities, and equity is enough to get us bitten by the accounting bug.
Why don't you start there?
What do you YOU do to better manage your accounting habits? Share your thoughts here!
It's not like everyone that starts a business gets approved for some massive loan where you can hire a big time marketing agency (which I wouldn't recommend), a publicist, an amazing personal assistant, stellar staff and social media manager.
No, most businesses start just like mine did – on a dime.
On a hope and a dream and a "I really hope this works. God I hope this works. It's going to work. It's GOT it work! Please let this work…."
Did you study business in college? Because I didn't.
I did, however, study marketing, which I think in the long run was a far better choice, although I didn't know it at the time.
Not that a masters in marketing meant I actually knew how to APPLY IT to the real grown up world of business. But at least I had a clue. The truth is I started my business 20 years ago charging $25 an hour to businesses that didn't have their own internal marketing department.
I got tons of practice and then I moved on to
- Landing big corporate Fortune 500 clients
- Teaching small business owners HOW to market on a tiny budget
- Teaching small busines owners how to LAND big client
My friend and business coach Robin Samora said she sees people like me everyday – on a hope and prayer and a tiny budget.
And you want to know something? Just because I've been successful doesn't mean I've changed! I STILL market on a dime. If it's not broke, don't fix it!
Robin will be interviewing me next Monday and I really want to invite you because it's going to be PACKED with goodies and strategies that you can implement right now – for free or low cost.
And this teleclass won't cost you a dime either!
Marketing on a Dime
Tuesday, March 22nd
*All calls will be recorded, so free to sign up and listen in later.
If you have questions, please send them to email@example.com or post them to my Facebook Page!
I will be sure and try to include as many as possible.
See you on Monday! Let's go!!!
America's is America's Most Sought-After Fortune 500 Consultant and leading women's small biz expert. She is the CEO/Founder of www.GrowYourBusinessNetwork.com
and Co-Founder of The Business Skinny – how to grow your business on a shoestring budget!
You can connect with Nancy on Twitter or on Facebook.
Tom and I were craving pizza last weekend while rushing to catch a movie, so we called ahead to the local pizza joint in Concord (as we know they take 25 minutes). We told them we'd love to enjoy our pie at the restaurant when we arrived.
Before I could even place my order with the adorable, 16-year-old young woman who waited on me, I was put on hold twice. Finally, I was able to place the order and we were on our way. Shortly thereafter, I received a call from the manager (or owner, I can't remember which), stating that we couldn't pre-order a pizza to eat when we arrived. Being that it was a call-ahead order, they'd have to package it in a to-go box. Does this defy logic to you? It certainly did to me. I simply replied, "ok, that's fine, we'll eat it out of the box at the restaurant." Everyone was happy.
However, It occurred to us in a discussion later on that this was not a customer-centric approach to accommodating your clientele. For a place that has to put you on hold twice just to take your order, does it make sense that the top dog would have the time to call you to tell you that they can't accommodate a simple request of eating your pizza when you arrive? And going as far as telling you you'll have to eat it out of the box? Don't these people know they operate out of Concord, MA? Just ask Don Henley how green we are. It seems to me this is an insane way to allocate resources of time and pizza boxes based on the principle that you can not call ahead to order your pizza.
Unfortunately, we also didn't make it in time for our movie, "True Grit." And true grit was something we needed that night for sure!
Oh, the cat and mouse chase. How do I get more leads? How can I get more referrals? Who can I talk to?!?
Everyone wants new customers. If you don't have a steady flow of new customers or clients you won't have a business. Because at the end of the day, if you're not making sales or providing services for a fee, you don't have a business – but you might have an expensive hobby!
There are ways, tips, tricks and tools – low-cost ones – that can help you bring in a steady flow of leads. Over the next few months I am going to reveal how I've managed to maintain that steady flow of getting new clients and customers, as well as email subscribers to my newsletter for over 20 years.
To kick it off, I want to give the first 36 people who read this a first shot and 50% off at promoting your business and services to my email list of 33,000 small business owners.
But – only to the first 36 who can PROVE they have a product or service worth promoting!
We get emails WEEKLY from people who are begging us to promote them, and most of them we have to turn down. Now is your chance to reach thirty-three thousand new potential clients or customers. Announcing:
Project – Reach 33,000!
Not just any 33,000. We are talking thirty-three thousand small business owners who are looking for ways to grow their business.
Imagine your message being sent through the virtual airways with my stamp of approval on it! Here are your ad options and my one big catch to this all –
GYBN Newsletter Advertising 50% (One time only) – $100 (normally $200)
With this option you will:
- Reach 33,000 targeted business owners
- BONUS: Get mentioned on my Facebook Page
- BONUS: Get Tweeted
GYBN Newsletter Advertising 50% (4 consecutive weeks) – $375 (normally $750)
With this option you will:
- Reach 33,000 targeted business owners FOUR TIMES for a total of 132,000 reaches!
- You will be following the Laws of Marketing – consecutive marketing is proven to greatly enhance your reach and help you to become memorable.
- BONUS: Get mentioned on my Facebook Page
- BONUS: Get Tweeted
- SUPER BONUS: Get blogged about on our popular business blog!
But – there is one catch. You have to apply to be accepted. We want to be sure that the products and services we promote are top notch and are helpful to growing your business.
If you are interested in getting your message out to 33,000 small business customers and would like to take advantage of my 50% off sale, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest including your name, company, website and your potential offer. We WILL be providing best practice advertising tips to the first 36 people!
See you later this week for more on how Google is changing everything…and how you better be playing close attention to your online marketing efforts!
P.S. - I am only extending the 50% for the first 36, so be sure and be one of them! I will make an announcement when we are have filled all 36!
Are you practicing smart networking? There are a few factors to consider before you can accurately answer that question. First off, smart networking focuses on the NEEDS of the people first, instead of focusing merely on landing the sale. When people know you offer genuine value — and often offer it for free — they'll stay in your network longer. And a small, responsive network is always better than a broad, non-responsive one!
Networking also becomes smarter when you use the new tools made available by the Internet. Online networking allows your business to present itself to the world 24/7, which means you can still network with people while you sleep. Social media and blogging are two of the more popular visibility measures offered by the Internet today, and they're great places to start.
In fact, using the Internet to streamline your business' networking efforts won't only help you find connections — people will actually start coming to you. The more visible your business is on the web, the more people will actually come to you for help. Wouldn't it be great to have a network that grows by itself? Get Smart! While face-to-face contact with the connections in your network is still very important in networking today, there's no doubt that the Internet has given us the opportunities to network smarter. So get smart today — see how the Internet can help boost your own business networking efforts.
OK, I know, the election has long passed us and yet many of us are still wondering – “What’s the government going to do for us now?”
That very question gives me the chills. Gross. That’s the problem isn’t it?
I think the better question is – “What can I do for myself and my business today?”
My eldest daughter Chloe was blessed to obtain an education that was ideal for her from K through 8th grade at a Waldorf School. For those of you who are curious about Rudolph Steiner’s educational philosophy, feel free to go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rudolf_Steiner to learn more.
One of the basic tenets though is the teaching of self-reliance. The ability to do and take care of oneself is a key component of this educational program. It’s the basis for a sound foundation to build your life on and become responsible for yourself and others who are apart of your community as well.
So many of our government funded programs instill the need for individuals to become further dependent on the system – rather than learn and practice the skills they need to break the cycle and become self-sufficient.
My beau, Tom, was attempting to help another colleague by asking him a series of questions about what he was doing in terms of finding another job. The bottom-line, “not too much.”
People are faced with feelings of being overwhelmed, helpless and despair right now, in part, because they believe someone will be out their to help them.
Most great opportunities are the ones we generate for ourselves and take responsibility for.
How are you being self-reliant in your business? Share Your Comments Below!
1. The customer is #1.
We’ve all known this forever. It’s a golden rule. But have you noticed how this simple, important concept seems to have slipped to the wayside the last few years? Sullen sales people, crabby CSRs and inept employees abound. I have to admit that when I come across one of these types employees, I feel I should re-thinking doing business with them.
Everyone wants to be treated with courtesy and respect. Also understanding and tolerance. Sometimes even with empathy. All this makes us feel good and we become receptive. But being treated in a negative way causes us to close off and become resistant and possibly resentful. This is certainly not the feelings we want to create in our consumers!
2. Everyone is a customer
Including employees and other support people! Yes, everyone with whom we come in contact with daily is involved in providing customer service to consumers. There must be a sense of genuine appreciation and respect to all, or an excellent customer service plan will fall apart rather quickly! It’s a team effort and everyone in the company must thoroughly believe in and be committed to the effort. And this means every single person in the organization being supportive of one another!
3. Thorough training.
I know this initial cost outlay can make some cringe. But if your people are not trained properly you will lose sales and consumers, which will amount to a much bigger cost later. From their first day, employees need to be taught the importance of customer service and how to deliver it. Also, a rigorous training program will let your people know they are held to a higher standard – kind of like being a member of an exclusive club!
+1. You must be committed to exceptional customer service.
Hire the best people. Train them well. Compensate them well. Hold them to a higher standard. And most importantly, show by example. Customer service runs from the top of the organization chart all the way down to the newly hired part-time floor buffer. It must be you that leads the charge to create and maintain an atmosphere of excellence and care.
Do you have customer service tips? Please share them below!
Networking has always been a tough part of building a business — it takes a lot of time and effort making connections with the people you meet, often with little success. But today, there are many ways to network more effectively and in less time — and it’s mostly by networking smarter, not harder.
Be More Strategic About Your Networking
Strategic networking does away with the random, off-chance style of attending events and meeting strangers. Rather than wasting hours of precious time sorting through a needle in a haystack, here are three easy steps to cut your networking time in half – offline and online!
1. Spend some time reviewing your business’s goals.
2. Next, identify the kind of people you need in your network to help you reach your goals.
3. Make a list of 10 ways you can meet your now targeted and ideal network.
What associations can you align with that will specifically this audience?
Who do you know that can give you an introduction to an ideal prospect?
What Facebook groups have captured your ideal audience?
Start with your list of 10 and begin working your way through it.
After 20 long hard years of networking, it can be exhausting and extremely time-consuming. Trim the fat, so to speak, gain laser focus and go STRAIGHT to your ideal customer, client or prospect!
Do you have tips on networking short-cuts? If so, please share them below!
I just purchased a “dog” of a house in Concord to use as an investment property that I can fix up and rent out. Great idea, right? I thought so, but as always, nothing is ever as simple as it appears.
In measuring the openings of missing or chewed out doors (a dog that was “kept” in the basement for God knows how long), I realized many of these items could not be purchased at the big box home improvement retailers. Special orders mean more money, however, luckily, I live in a town that has a special lumber company with specialized service and even though you have to spend a little more money, it’s worth it in the end right?
Well, not so fast. Measurements were not done correctly — did I mention I’m a Property Virgin (a borrowed name of a show from my favorite television network, HGTV), and upon visiting the lumber company again, one of the salespeople standing next to the gentleman who was helping me had to bring it to my attention that there would be an automatic 15% restocking fee. I wasn’t informed of this when I placed the order by the way. Measure twice, order once — I get it now.
Mr. Sullivan asked me if I could come by later last Monday to sign off on the paperwork, and when I didn’t hear from him, I called on Tuesday. Guess what — they were closed due to the Nor’easter we were experiencing. I called on Wednesday, same story. I have my contractor coming on Saturday, and I’m not sure if I’ll have the doors and other items needed to repair this old dog of a house.
When is it my turn to be the customer, and expect that the company I’m “special ordering” items from, might call me back before the storm hits? Will they be there on Saturday when I have a contractor who can’t do the work needed due to the undelivered items brought on by a storm? I think not.
The Internet has proven to be a blessing to businesses, particularly in how it streamlined the entire networking effort. But despite the “anything goes” nature of the Internet, online networking still has its standards. To avoid some embarrassing situation or having to apologize to a client or customer, here are a few simple do’s and don’ts that you’ll need to remember when networking on the Internet.
DO share. Don’t just post.
The Internet is filled with free information, and more is being added by the second. It’s become the norm to share information, and the more willing and able you are in this regard, the more easily you’ll build your network.
DON’T be stingy.
People won’t pay you for information they can Google for free, so why not educate others and become a well known expert in your industry?
DO put up online profiles.
Social networks like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and others are great places to network with people in your business’s niche, so signing up and contributing to the community will help expand your network.
DON’T upload your party girl shots.
Remember, you’re building a BUSINESS network — shots of you half-naked, drunk, or simply embarrassing may send the wrong message to the people you meet! I’m certainly glad that Facebook didn’t exist when I was in college. Just sayin…
DO build relationships.
Networking has always been the same whether online or off — it’s all about building genuine relationships with the people in your network. The more you see them as real individuals, the better they’ll respond to you.
DON’T focus on making a buck.
This is where I see so many companies going wrong. LAY OFF THE HARD SALES PITCH! Social media outlets are NOT the place for them. If you focus too much on making a quick sale, your network will treat you the way they treat cold-callers — coldly! See, people are looking for fun, humor, creativity and interesting content. Keep those in the forefront of your mind, and you will be golden.
Even on the Internet, people are still people. It’s easy to forget that the person you’re chatting with has feelings, goals, and decades of history behind them. Don’t forget the human side of networking, because no matter how technological networking becomes, its heart will always be made of flesh!
Strategic social networking can be hard to do, especially when you’re only starting out. But in the end, the size and quality of your network can spell the difference between a thriving business and one that could have been. It can mean the difference between hours of pointless social media posts with no return and seeing a 30% increase in sales.
Being strategic about your social networking efforts can help you build your business. Here are some of the most obvious ways how a healthy network can help:
- Finding experts makes it faster to educate yourself.
It’s possible to find anything you need on the Internet, but digesting all the information can take too much time and energy. But with a good network, you have experts who are only a phone call away, and who can give you the information you need quickly, clearly, and definitively.
- The bigger your network, the more business you will do. Period.
Even prospects suffer from information overload too, and often have trouble finding the best individuals and businesses to work with. A good network serves as an extension of your own business, recommending our products and services when they see a need. There are few things better than landing a project or client from a simple endorsement.
- Networks teach you all of the short-cuts.
As tempting as it may be, “doing it all yourself” isn’t the best way to run a business these days. The pace is too fast for perfectionism. That’s why it’s important to find reasonable shortcuts to the solutions you’re looking for and if you’re connected to a big network, most people are MORE than happy to give you FREE advice – if only you ask.
- Building “Friends” you can keep for a lifetime.
No matter how good things may be going for your business today, there are forces outside your control that can derail your progress at a moment’s notice. (Hint: The recession.) With a broad network, getting back on your feet becomes easier and quicker.
No matter what business you’re running, you’ll always face challenges from all directions. A good network will help you find solutions much more quickly, giving you more time to focus on what really matters — growth.
Creating a good business plan is essential to the success and longevity of any business, big or small. No matter what problems and challenges come in a business’s way, the clarity of the business plan will always help business owners arrive at the best course of action. Here’s how to create a good business plan for your own business.
First Things First!
First of all, you’ve got to get organized. My dear friend Ellen Rohr (who just happens to be a business planning expert), says, “You’ll need to identify your business’s Mission, Vision, and Goals. Everything else grows out of these three tabs in your business plan.”
Why in the world is having a mission important? Your mission tells the world WHY your business exists and what it aims to achieve. For instance, my business mission is:
To inspire women and small business owners to achieve their goals in less time and with more happiness.
Once you have carefully outlined you mission, you vision it. Your vision is when you identify the ultimate goals of the business. My vision is:
To achieve seven figures consistently through online and offline efforts.
Next, Ellen taught me to set my goals. Goals make me think of the path. Here are a few of my goals:
Sell 100 new Getting Big Business Membership by December 2011
Add 100 new business owners monthly to The Business Skinny
Obtain 10% of my Top 100 List of high-end clients in 2011
I’m lead to believe that you can survive off of a business plan this simplistic. But, if you really want to gain speed, you can look at zoning in on your target audience. Selling to your target market (your least likely buyers) is the fastest way to achieving more.
There are other great tricks of the trade, but I would recommend studying any of Ellen Rohr’s materials.
What are your questions or tips on business planning? Be sure and share them below!
Twitter is one of the most popular social media networks today, and more and more businesses are using it to reach their target markets. And with these 3 success tips, you’ll be closer to leveraging Twitter to your own networking and marketing advantages, as well.
Tip #1 – Don’t Follow All Your Followers.
Twitter aggressively combats spammers in its system, and one of its anti-spamming measures happens to be a 2,000 follower limit. And yes, there are quite a number of spam accounts on Twitter. Are you sure the person who just followed you really IS a person, or is just taking up precious space in your 2,000 follower limit?
Here’s what you should do — follow only the people and businesses who are most likely to work with your business soon, as well as those you see a potential working relationship with in the future. Un-follow people you suspect as spam accounts, as well as the unresponsive ones.
Tip #2 – Start Small And Grow Really Big.
Don’t be tempted to spend days on Twitter, building your network and reciprocating with every single one of your followers. It’s always better to spend an hour or less everyday building on your Twitter profile and making it more active and attractive. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day — likewise, your reputation will take some time to build.
Tip #3 – See How Your Favorite Brands And Businesses Do It.
Follow the Twitter accounts of the businesses you like and are impressed with — their Tweets will clue you in on how they connect with their network and leverage Twitter to grow their companies. Then, with a little creativity, you can tweak their techniques to work for you!
The world is becoming more and more mobile as time goes by, and by all indications, more and more people will be joining and using Twitter. The social network that was built on “140 characters or less” won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, so if your market is there, reach out!
With so many social networks out there today, it can be hard to decide which ones to join. Joining every single one of them is out of the question — you may be spreading yourself way too thinly! Here are a few suggestions when you’re choosing the right social networks for your business.
Facebook – Still THE ONE!
Facebook is the #1 social networking site in the world today, and it looks as though it’s going to stay that way for a while. Almost everyone has a Facebook profile, so creating a group or page for your own business will likely be a wise decision — just don’t get carried away and end up spending your whole day “liking.”
MySpace is Facebook’s direct competitor, and while it’s still a ways behind Facebook, MySpace still commands a generous number of followers. If your market consists of mostly the younger generation, then joining MySpace may prove to be a welcome boost to your network for SEO efforts.
Twitter is another popular social networking site, and it’s probably the most mobile-friendly one. With “Tweets” of only 140 characters or less, businesses can keep in touch with their followers and keep them updated with on-the-go news. If this sounds like a networking activity that’s right up your business’s alley, then sign up for a Twitter account now!
Without a doubt, if you’re planning to do business on the Internet, you’ll NEED a LinkedIn account. LinkedIn is a business-geared social network, which lets you find professionals and businesses to network with.
Other Social Networking Tools
No matter what social networks you join, remember that you’ll still need a proper website to properly do business on the Internet. A blog is also almost universally considered as a must-have for any Internet business, as well as tools for e-mail list building. Social networks help you build your circle of connections, but they’ll still need these other tools to properly work with you.
Beyond the addicting “liking” and “poking,” Facebook is actually looking to be the next great place to put your business on. But will a business really benefit by establishing an online presence on Facebook? Here’s the lowdown on just how good it is to do business on the largest social network today.
How Facebook Can Help Your Business
As mentioned in the beginning of this article, Facebook is today’s #1 social network. Whether you make friends on the street or at a networking event, you’ll likely meet more people with Facebook accounts than those who don’t. Now if a bandwagon is THAT popular, you’ll want to jump in as soon as you can!
But besides being a great place to keep in touch with friends and family, Facebook has also helped organizations expand their fanbase beyond what traditional methods of networking can manage. Facebook lets businesses give new information to their markets, receive feedback, and even chat with their “fans.”
Another way Facebook can help you grow your business is through its ad system. Since most Facebook users fill up their “interests” fields, Facebook can very quickly deliver your ads to users who are most likely to be interested in knowing more about your business and its offerings.
But let’s not forget the one thing that makes Facebook so popular — it’s fun. And people respond more positively towards businesses that approach them in a fun, informal way. It shouldn’t surprise you — people are more likely to trust a “friend” than a shady, suspicious salesperson.
Grow Your Business Network’s Recommendation
Yes, DO put your business on Facebook. The world’s #1 social network is constantly looking for ways to help businesses survive and thrive on the Internet, which means you’ll constantly be giving better and better service to your market. And that’s something your fans will REALLY “like!”
Let’s Be Friends
Twitter, with 75 million users and climbing, is one of the world’s most popular social media networks today. But can you really build your business in 140 characters or less? Here’s the rundown of how this quirky social network can help you grow your fanbase one Tweet at a time.
How Twitter Builds A Business
The main advantage in using Twitter is that you can follow other businesses and brands you’d like your own company to emulate. You can also follow the latest trends in and around your business’s niche market, helping you stay ahead of the competition. And since you can follow up to 2,000 people on Twitter, that should give you enough information and feedback to get started!
Twitter will also let your business’s fans “follow” your updates. There’s no limit to just how many people can follow your business’s Twitter account, which means you can potentially send updates and new information to as many “fans” as you can attract.
Twitter is especially popular with the “mobile” crowd — these are the people who use smartphones, netbooks, tablets, and other gadgets to receive updates. If your business’s target market use mobile devices heavily, then it’s a no-brainer — reach out to them by giving your business a Twitter presence!
Twitter is also a great place to reach your audience when your business relies heavily on promotions and bargains. If your business markets this way, then Twitter is a great way to keep your followers informed as your promos get launched.
Grow Your Business Network’s Recommendation
If your business is a dynamic one, and if it’s geared towards a younger, tech-savvy audience, and if you plan to have frequent promotions to offer your followers, then Twitter is the best social media network for you. You’ll be surprised at how much business a simple 140-character update can pull in!
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Is your business failing, despite your best efforts? Usually, it’s not a problem with the products or services your business is offering, but a lack of focus and organization. Here’s how to save a failing business through the creation of a newer, better business plan.
Why Businesses Fail
One of the main reasons why businesses fail is a lack of focus. The best businesses out there have clearly-established purposes, targets, and goals. Businesses that don’t identify any of these are like cars with no steering wheels — there’s nothing in the end but a wreck and a lot of pain!
Another reason why many businesses fail is because of poor marketing. Some businesses have terrific products and services, but they don’t focus on a target market, and they spend too little time marketing.
Yet another reason why many businesses fail is a lack of passion. Some businesses are formed for the sole purpose of making money — and while such businesses may do well in the beginning, the lack of passion from the business owner will ultimately leave the business neglected.
Save A Failing Business With A Newer, Better Business Plan
I can’t speak highly enough of Business Planner Extraordinaire Ellen Rohr, who teaches you how to rock any business plan.
Here’s what I’ve learned from Ellen over the years:
A good business plan states the business’s Mission (why it exists), Vision (what it aims to achieve), and Goals (how it intends to achieve these goals).
A new (or revised) business plan should also identify the key people needed to keep the business humming. You have to:
- Identify your target audience
- Figure out how to market to them directly, as well as your target periodical income.
You can turn things around by eliminating unnecessary tasks and using laser focus to identify your target market.
Finally, prepare to work hard — VERY hard. You’ll need to implement your new business plan hard and fast, and use it to address every single obstacle standing in your business’s way.
Now that you know how to save a failing business with a newer, better business plan, do you have the PASSION to make things happen?
You grudgingly agree to attend a networking meeting. You’re mad every time you write out the membership checks to local groups that are supposed to be helping you find prospects. You’re tired of trying to talk people in to coming to you. You would rather crawl back behind your desk than identify and win new prospects.
Finding networking a nightmare?
Networking is hard because we make it hard. If are finding that getting clients is a little more work, sweat and blood than you’d like, then it’s time for a cool change. Do what’s easy!
The beauty of the internet is that it’s NEVER been easier than today than to have interested parties coming to you. You can hide behind a computer screen and network (i.e. build relationships) until the cows come home.
For most people, networking is one of the most difficult parts of growing a career or business. But times are changing, and while networking still demands a good chunk of your time, it’s actually getting easier and easier. And, yes, ANYONE can network — even if you’re not extroverted!
Networking Is Actually For Everyone (these days)
That’s right — even the shyest of introverts can network effectively. And it all starts by simply changing your mindset about the whole networking activity.
If that’s how you think of networking, then you’re missing out on quite a lot!
Networking is an extremely powerful tool to use in growing a career or business. The biggest companies today wouldn’t be where they are right now if their founders didn’t network extensively, and continue to build their network as their businesses grow.
Why So Few Of Us Network
The problem with the rest of us is that we too easily get turned off by the amount of work needed to expand our networks. And many of us think that networking means trying to “fake” our way into the charms of the people we meet. (No wonder networking is so unattractive to many of us!)
If you want to make networking for you, the very first thing you’ll need to do is to change your mindset about it. You’ll have to stop thinking of networking as a difficult, dirty, or “fake” activity. Once you see it as a truly legitimate, and even enjoyable, activity, then things become MUCH easier.
What I’ve learned over the years is that networking can kind of be fun. I choose to networking where:
1. I can participate in my hobbies (spinning class, book clubs, etc.)
2. Online – with all of the new gidgets, gadgets and apps, it can actually become fun to put yourself out there – your true self – and magically watch the people who want the services or products you provide – just appear.
So, the key to networking can be summed up here:
1. Do what you love (when networking).
2. Have fun (when networking).
If you can’t do either of those things, then you haven’t figured out what you love and how to have fun…
When your business’s finances is a mess, and you’re struggling to know whether or not the year was productive or disastrous, then it’s time to do a financial audit. A financial audit checks and reconciles every little detail of your business’s finances in an attempt to arrive at a KFP, or a “known financial position.” Ellen Rohr from Bare Bones Biz has taught me everything I know about KFP.
What’s a KFP?
Put simply, your business’s KFP is an indication of your business’s finances’ health, or lack thereof. A KFP is where you want to be, because you can’t make important business decisions, depend on your accountant’s accuracy, or make productivity predictions without it. And the only way to arrive at a KFP is through a thorough financial audit.
How To Do A Financial Audit
To do a financial audit for your business, take a “Balance Sheet and Year to Date Income Statement” of your business from the last day of the previous fiscal year. Then compare the balances on your Balance Sheet with the Balance Sheet section of your business’s tax return.
Everything should be balanced and matching. If there are some anomalies, consult with your accountant — they may have made a few year-end adjustments, or there may be some errors in the data entry.
Make sure to check every single account on your balance sheet, because even a single mistake can unbalance the entire equation. If you’re not sure about any account entry on your balance sheets, simply mark it with a question mark and bring it up with your accountant.
It’s important to have an accountant who’s available, communicative, and helpful, because it’s likely you’re going to nail down and iron out every single account that has an inconsistency. It’s always best to do things together.
A financial audit is likely going to take a while — the messier your business’s finances were before the edit, the longer it’s going to take before you reach your KFP. But work on it relentlessly — without a KFP, your business will never prosper!
For more in depth questions, please check out her blog post HERE.