Who’s on #Smallbizchat October 2017

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#Smallbizchat is a weekly conversation where small business owners can get answers to their questions. The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss.

Please join us live on Twitter every Wednesday 8-9 pm ET. Here’s how: follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter and follow the hashtag #Smallbizchat and click here for directions to join the weekly conversation.

In October, we’ll be talking about creating a scalable and sustainable business, mobile and digital strategies, creating signature talks and using referral marketing.

Here is a list of who is on #Smallbizchat in October.

October 4th – How to Make Your Business Scalable, Saleable and Sustainable, @theceoeffect

Shahara Wright is an experienced and highly sought-after business law attorney and business strategist. She is the author of From Entrepreneur to CEO and host of the CEO Collaboration Circle. Shahara founded The CEO Effect, LLC to work with small business owners who want to implement a strategy to build capacity.  Visit www.theceoeffect.net

 

October 11th – How Your Business Can Benefit from The Mobile Small Business Finance and the Digital Future, @RohitBiz2Credit

Rohit Arora, CEO of Biz2Credit, is one of America’s top experts in small business lending and the use of FinTech to streamline the funding process. In 2011, he was among NYC’s “Top Entrepreneur” by Crain’s, which named Biz2Credit among NYC’s “Fast 50” of 2014 and 2016. More information at www.biz2credit.com

 

October 18th – How to Create Your Signature Speaker Style, @RubenWest360

As a trainer, Ruben West creates international speakers and coaches and helps them to create magnetic personal and professional messages. His gift is to help you discover your signature speaking style. Find out more at blackbeltspeakers.com

 

October 25th – How to use Referral Marketing to Expand Your Social Capital, @ErnaneIung

Ernane Lung is the author of “The Success Factor – Unconventional Wisdom for Small Business Success”. He shares the most important things to consider when starting your company, and contrast conventional wisdom with the latest, but proven unconventional wisdom. Learn more at http://ift.tt/2yL52Hj

Every Thursday morning on Melinda’s blog, a complete Q&A interview from each #Smallbizchat is posted as a recap http://ift.tt/17XI5jd

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How to Get Your Business Unstuck

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Barry Moltz gets business owners growing again by unlocking their long forgotten potential.  With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners unstuck and marching forward. After successfully selling his last operating business, Barry has branched out into a number of entrepreneurship-related activities.  He founded an angel investor group, an angel fund, and is a former advisory member of the board of the Angel Capital Education Foundation.  Barry’s fifth book “How to Get Unstuck: 25 Ways to Get Your Business Growing Again” is currently available on Amazon. For more information, visit: www.barrymoltz.com.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT KEEPS MOST SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS STUCK IN THE SAME PLACE?

Barry Moltz:

For many small business owners, running a company isn’t what they thought it would be like.  They have enough success to keep going, but not enough to actually build a real company.  There are always worried about cash flow & replacing employees who always seem to quit or get fired.  And, they feel like they’re on the hamster wheel – expending too much energy = burnout.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT DO SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS TYPICALLY DO TO TRY TO FIX THIS?

Barry Moltz:

They try to work harder and longer hours but get marginally better results.  They look for a magic bullet that will take them to take it to the next level- a new consultant, customer or employee.  Unfortunately, that brave knight on a white horse never seems to come.  They never truly commit to the small changes that will get them unstuck, moving forward.

SmallBizLady:  WHICH ARE THE MOST COMMON AREAS WHERE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS GET STUCK?

Barry Moltz:

6 major areas:

  1. sales and marketing
  2. management and leadership
  3. money
  4. productivity
  5. social media
  6. customer service

Small business owners may be good at a few of these but not all of them.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME MAJOR EXAMPLES OF HOW SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS GET STUCK?

Barry Moltz:

Treating their business like a job and not making any the investments to building a stronger business.  They say yes too quickly to whatever customers want. Small business then drifts from the original focus.  Thinking the latest windfall will last forever. Becoming sure they have the “Midas Touch” by surrounding themselves with “yes” people who tell them how great they are no matter what happens.  Letting today’s “emergencies” dictate.  And, multitasking, they allow constant interruptions by people and smartphones which means they don’t get as much done.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT CAN SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS DO TO GET UNSTUCK?

Barry Moltz:

Develop a sales and marketing system that always keeps the pipeline full.  Invest in the right team – People plus profit = Profit.  Take a break! Don’t fear falling behind or missing an opportunity if you go away for a long weekend.  Try not to measure success by being busy, instead: be productive. Take calculated actions.  Stop calling or emailing big customer opportunities that never reply.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BIGGEST MARKETING MISTAKES SMALL BUSINESS MAKE?

Barry Moltz:

They are marketing in places where customers can’t find when they are looking to buy. Their business never gets into the “maybe pile” – never has a chance of getting chosen by the customer.  Their fear of rejection stops them from selling. They are afraid of the word “no.”

They avoid sales and hire inexperienced staff.  And, they stop marketing as soon as revenue increases.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME OF BIGGEST MISTAKES SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MAKE WHEN DEALING WITH EMPLOYEES?

Barry Moltz:

Hiring weak employees. They’re afraid of people knowing more than they do making them look bad.  Allowing lousy employees to overstay their welcome. Be slow to hire and quick to fire.  They hire for skills, not attitude, in a rush to hire anyone to fill a job. Make sure your new hire fits into your culture.

SmallBizLady:  HOW DO EGO AND INSECURITY AFFECT SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS?

Barry Moltz:

Small business owners are always telling employees what to do because they are “the Boss” and think being the boss means ordering people around and threatening them if it does not get done.  They never ask for help and believe that asking for help is a sign of weakness.  Additionally, the thought is small business ownership is a solo sport and are the biggest “I” in “team.”

SmallBizLady:  WHAT IS THE BIGGEST FINANCIAL MISTAKE SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS MAKE?

Barry Moltz:

  1. They don’t know how to read their financial statements:
    • Learn how to read financial statements
  2. They never review them or ask for help to understand what they mean for their business
  3. As a result, small business owners often make business decisions blindly
  4. This leads to borrowing and spending based on expected results, which gets them into more debt

SmallBizLady:  HOW SHOULD SMALL BUSINESS OWNERS THINK ABOUT FAILURE?

Barry Moltz:

Small business owners are afraid of being a failure, so they don’t know when to quit or admit it’s over.  Typically, they stop taking risks. And as a result, they keep going, despite increasingly low chances of success.

SmallBizLady:  TELL US ABOUT YOUR NEW BOOK?

Barry Moltz:

It’s called Small Business Hacks: 100 Shortcuts to Success with @Rieva.  It’s a cheat sheet for all the things small business owners will encounter but don’t know how to do.  We give the answer in 7 steps or less.

SmallBizLady:  WHEN IS IT AVAILABLE?

Barry Moltz:

Jan 2018 – but if you want to get one free early, email me at Barry@moltz.com

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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5 Things You Should Know About Investing in Small Business

Guest Article

Investing in small business can be financially and personally rewarding, but it also poses a huge risk. If you go about investing in a smart, calculated way, the rewards can be incredible. You just need to be the right type of person with the right skill set, temperament, and knowledge to ensure a lucrative investment – if you make the right choice, industry statistics show you stand to yield returns that are between five to 100 times more than the original investment. It’s all about doing your research, knowing the market, and conducting due diligence on the business in order to mitigate risk.

According to the SBA, roughly 500,000 new businesses are founded in the United States each year. Similar entrepreneurial enthusiasm can be witnessed worldwide, and in fact, in China, 12,000 new companies are registered each day. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only around 50% of all new companies survive their first five years in the U.S. This goes to show that if you’re eager to invest in the early stages of a small business, you’ll have a lot of options, but it’s necessary to be selective, think carefully, and make the right decision.

As a cofounder of a successful mobile technology venture capital firm in China, we invest in a great deal of small businesses. In my time, I’ve learned what to keep an eye out for during the prospecting stage of investment, warning signs that an investment shouldn’t be considered, and what safeguards should be put in place. Below are just a few things to keep in mind when it comes to investing in a small business.

  1. Do your research on the market

How can you feel confident about an investment if you know nothing about the market and you’ve done no research? This is a critical first stage of investment and it will improve the likelihood of future success. Do all you can to learn about the market i, talk to industry experts such as venture capitalists, economists, scientists, and the customers that the small business is trying to target. This will give you a fair, all-round picture of whether what the company is trying to achieve is realistic.

  1. Do homework on the founders, managers, and the competition

Before jumping into an investment, analyse the business’ competition, the size of the market, what this new company has to offer in terms of a competitive advantage, and the personal brand of the CEO. It’s essential to investigate the people involved in the company – after all, the brains behind the business are the most important factor. You are investing in them as much as you are in the business. Look into the backgrounds of the founders, research their education, experience, any previous companies they were involved in building, and see what they can bring to the table.  You need to see if they have what it takes to make a business a success. The personal brand of the CEO is critical to consider, as it’s the culmination of a company’s identity. It will shape the company’s image, voice, and it will help to drive sales. Personal branding can make all the difference when it comes to getting an edge over the competition.

  1. Diversify your investments

When investing in a small business, as with any investment, you should remember the importance of diversification. That means spread your investments around so that your exposure to any particular asset is limited, which reduces the volatility of your portfolio and increases the possibility of success. When it comes to diversification, investors should also keep in mind up-and-coming emerging markets. For example, investments in the mobile tech sector are a great choice right now, given all the recent advances and all the long term potential.

  1. Ask the right financial questions

Is the small business you want to invest in charging for its services at a reasonable price? Will they be able to scale their business down the line? What are the founders of the company going to use your money for? Can the founders showcase a roadmap of where they want the business to be, financially, in the next few years? How much are the founders intending to pay themselves in terms of salary? These are important questions that need to be answered, or else you might end up making a venture investment that can’t sustain itself.

  1. Remember venture investing in a small business is for the long-term

Investing in a small business is a long, high-risk, high-potential-reward process. As such, don’t anticipate immediate results. Make sure that any money you have allocated towards a startup isn’t needed in the near-term, as despite all your research and scrutiny, it’s difficult to predict when your investment will produce returns. You should remember to reserve some follow-on capital for investments that you believe show the most potential. This is an effective way to hedge your bets and make wise returns on a carefully-selected investment.

When investing, remember that a small business will need all the help, and money, they can get. Any profits they make will likely be put right back into the business in order to improve it further and to secure a solid financial future. Be patient, though, and have faith that you made the right decision and one day the investment will pay off.

About the Author:

Will Jiang is a founding partner at N5Capital, a leading venture capital firm in China that focuses on early-stage investments in the mobile internet industry. Will has years of investment experience and is passionate about tech startups, trusting your gut, and investing in the minds of the future.

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How to Use Social Media to Close Business

We hear a lot about how social media creates brand awareness, establishes you as an expert, and propels your marketing. But what about social selling? Can you actually use social media platforms to close business, especially if you’re in the B2B space? The answer is YES, but know that social selling is an entirely different animal from traditional sales strategies. Think of it like this, you connect on social media, then you educate them about your expertise, then you engage with them to build the relationship and then close a sale.

Simply Be There, and Be Active

The fact that 75% of B2B buyers leverage social media to support their decision making means you have no choice but to have a social presence. Furthermore, a 2014 Google study showed that  46% of decision makers are now aged between 18 and 34 years old which is the largest social media user demographic. So if your target audience is hanging out on certain social channels, you need to be there too.

What does being active on social media look like?

  • Posting updates at least a few times a week: mix company news and useful articles
  • Target only the social channels your audience frequents
  • Build engagement: Participate in groups, chats and dialogue with your connections

Leverage social scheduling software such as Sprout Social to build a daily schedule of content you want to share. Just remember to go back and check your social accounts a few times to day to share directly and build engagement.

Go for the Relationship First

Sales reps are taught to sometimes be aggressive when it comes to closing a sale, but that won’t cut it on social media. The name of the game in this environment is connecting and adding value. Consider social media like a giant cocktail party. Be more interested than interesting. Don’t be the guy who’s blasting through the party, handing out his business cards without even talking to people. Don’t push people to buy your product. Instead, work on developing relationships. It will take longer to close a sale, but in the long run, you will have more information to make a stronger proposal.

How can you connect to leads and prove your worth?

  • Answer questions that you’re qualified to respond to
  • Comment and share the content of your potential customers and
  • Demonstrate your expertise through case studies and online courses

Services like Kajabi can help you sell more

Professional service providers can productize their expertise with online digital products. Although you can advertise your services on social media, there’s a better way to tap into the people who are plugged into your brand by creating specific digital products for them. You can turn popular content into a sellable product; think about launching a membership site, group coaching program, online courses, or pay-to-play webinars.  Can you see your cash flow increasing?

Listen to Your Demographic

You can learn so much if you just listen. By following people in social media you are targeting to learn valuable insights into how to better reach this audience.

Let’s say you sell online accounting software. By following small business owners on social media, you might learn by “eavesdropping” on conversations that many struggle with making enough money to stay afloat, managing their accounting, and being overwhelmed with the amount of work they have to do daily. With this knowledge, you can shape your next sales campaign. You could publish a free ebook that addresses solutions to their pain points. Offer packages for each of their biggest problems.

Here’s how to be a better listener and get the right information out of social media:

  • Search for hashtags that your audience uses in social
  • Participate in industry related-FB groups, LinkedIn groups or Twitter chats
  • Follow and listen to your actual customers and competitors

Reward social media connections for sharing.

Use a service like chirpify to connect in social and chat to build an online loyalty program. You want to reward customers who engage and share things about your brand across all social channels, not just when they buy.

Use it as Research

Before a sales presentation, dig through social media to find ways to connect. Won’t your connection be surprised at what good attention you’re paying to his activity when you mention that you worked at the same place or ask about his children, after he posted a photo of his son’s Little League championship game. Not only do you want to show that you have personal interest in him, but you also want to glean any details that might shape your presentation

Before your next sales meeting:

  • Set up a Google alert on the business name to track media mentions
  • Scour the lead’s social media profiles, and pick one personal point to mention
  • Look at the company’s social profiles to see if there is any relevant company news

Keep in Touch

It’s important to continue to interact with your lead via social media. It takes time to build a trust relationship. Don’t be aggressive (just like with real dating); instead, be subtle. Continue to share his content and commenting where relevant. Monitor what he’s talking about. Social media provides an excellent platform to keep in touch. If you do your job and stay top of mind, he’ll be more likely to come back to you with a business opportunity at some point.

Social selling is an important skill for any business owner to learn. Stop all the cold calling and focus on engaging prospects online, it will change your business.

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Be Unforgettable: 6 Tips to Creating a Brand Experience

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Teanna Ross is the CEO of Kreative Eye.  She partners with business owners who are ready to invest in their vision, in their brand and take both to the next level. Her no cookie-cutter approach to branding and marketing results in a sustainable Branding Experience. For more info: http://ift.tt/2we06LO  

SmallBizLady:  Tell us why being unforgettable is something small business owners or entrepreneurs should even care about?

Teanna Ross: There is a lot of competition in just about every niche, just look around. But what is it that sets you apart? People don’t buy products they buy Brands, they buy you. You are your brand. Just think about your last purchase and why you tend to frequent certain stores or services… was it memorable and if so what was memorable about it?  Strive to build a big brand with a killer branding experience. It’s a sure-fire way to help set you apart from the competition.

SmallBizLady: Tell us more about this Branding Experience. How does a business owner go about creating one?

Teanna Ross: A branding experience is all the interactions people have with a product, service, or organization.

AND the wonderful thing about creating a branding experience is that it doesn’t have to be complicated. It can be something super simple, pleasant and memorable. Some of the greatest branding experiences inspire, engage, excite and empower.

SmallBizLady: How do you create a Brand Experience and what are the benefits?

Teanna Ross:

Start from the heart, keep it simple, put yourself in your ideal customer’s shoes. How do you want them to feel? What do you want them to remember? What do you want them to take away?

When brands focus on providing their customers with memorable brand experiences they create brand awareness, and ultimately a loyal following – which is the goal right? This is how Macy’s, Starbucks, Walmart and McDonalds have been able to stay in business. They have mastered their branding experience.

SmallBizLady: Most business owners think that once they have a logo they have a brand. Is your logo apart of your branding experience?

Teanna Ross: Your business has a name and logo and you advertise, but does that mean you have a brand?  Successful CEOs and business owners know that branding goes deeper than a name and logo. Logos, tag lines and advertising campaigns are traditional marketing tactics that merely scratch the surface. Brands connect with customers on a much deeper level.

SmallBizLady: And then there’s that question… Do I even need a brand? I just want to run a business.

Teanna Ross: Branding a product or service differentiates you from your competitors. It’s the key to turning prospective fans, followers and clients into loyal customers. A brand is more than what your product or service does or what you communicate. Your brand identity is the total perception of your brand in the marketplace, including your implied promise to your customers that your product or service will consistently meet or exceed their expectations every time they interact with your brand. Brands evoke emotions, delight us, and feel familiar and reliable.

SmallBizLady: So, tell us a few characteristics of a strong brand?

Teanna Ross: Strong brands create customer loyalty, they make you less sensitive to competitive pricing, provide focus to marketing efforts, allows you to attract the resources you need such as talent and capital, allows you to easily develop strategic partnerships and acts as a powerful tool for guiding internal decision making. As you can see developing and sustaining a strong brand is powerful, it doesn’t matter if your business is large or small – whether you are selling a product or a service, selling to consumers or business-to-business. A well-defined brand strategy is key and essential for companies looking to expand.

SmallBizLady: What tips can you provide to business owners that are just starting out?

Teanna Ross:

  1. Who is your customer. You must first and foremost know your customer. You must know what they like, what matters to them, why and the problems they have that you can solve. Furthermore, know and take stock of who your current customers are, and why they come to you over the competition. What void are you currently fulfilling and how can you get better and take it to the next level.

SmallBizLady: What are the next steps after getting to know your customer?

Teanna Ross:

  1. Connect emotionally. Make your audience connect emotionally with your brand. Make them feel something. Find what matters to them and authentically connect with them in a real yet relevant way. This is how brands are connecting with their customers. Just look at how Insurance companies are competing for your business. They connect with customers who have gone through various tragedies: car, life, and health and proclaim that they will be there for you in your time of need and if the terms and price is right you will switch! They have connected with you on a deeper level and you feel safe. Mission accomplished.

SmallBizLady: What are some engagement strategies that can be used?

Teanna Ross:

  1. Empower and engage. You are your brand and so are your employees. Make sure that with every interaction you leave a lasting impression. How you engage says a lot. Have you ever had a terrible experience and have been disappointed with how an employee handled the situation? However, the lasting impression is when the brand and they go out of their way to make sure you were satisfied and they exceeded your expectations. Remember, the customer is always right, especially if you want to stay in business.

SmallBizLady: What is the foundation of a long and meaningful relationship with your customer?

Teanna Ross:

  1. Keep your brand promise. Say what you mean and do what you say. Always under-promise and over-deliver. Customers want to buy from brands they know like and trust. Every strong brand promise is marked by the same characteristics. Your brand promise must persuasively convey a real-world benefit. It must be seen by your customers as practical to their lives, and you must promise it in a compelling and convincing way that is authentic and believable. And, lastly, your brand strategy must be centered around its fulfillment. The roadmap you lay out for the future of your brand should never compromise your ability to keep your brand promise.

SmallBizLady: How should a business owner interact with their customers for an optimal brand experience?

Teanna Ross:

  1. Yes, have fun. Remember that your customers are people who like to laugh, dream and live life. Create an enjoyable, memorable, and exciting brand experience. Get creative. The companies that over stand who their customers are and can relate to them in an authentic way will always win and be memorable. Think McDonalds – I’m Lovin it’ and my favorite Apple – Say hello to the future. They find creative ways to showcase their products, deliver on their brand promise and have memorable marketing campaigns of real life people using their products or add-on services that allow people to enjoy life.

SmallBizLady: Are there any specific rules of engagement, per sé, that provide a brand experience for customers?

Teanna Ross:

  1. Keep your ear to the streets, make sure you listen more than you talk. The more you listen, the more you learn. Your target audiences will talk to you, but you must be willing to listen and to pivot when necessary. Engage, engage, engage.

Each expectation and experience is the product of a brand promise: which is the foundation of a deep and abiding relationship with your customer. Be unforgettable and deliver on that promise, it will help foster your customers’ trust. From trust comes loyalty, and with loyalty comes long-standing, mutually-beneficial relationships.

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Top 6 Reasons Why You Need a Small Business Credit Card

Guest Article

We live in a cashless society in which debit and credit cards rule. When was the last time you paid for goods or services with cash or even a check? It’s probably been awhile. As important as it is to have access to credit as a consumer, it’s even more vital as a small business owner. There are many benefits to getting a small business credit card, especially as your business begins to grow and thrive. Here are the most important reasons to consider applying for a business credit card.

#1. Establish business credit

Most business owners use their personal credit rating initially in a new business venture, but it pays to establish business credit as soon as possible. A small business credit card allows you to establish a separate credit history for your business that can help obtain business loans, vendor contracts, and distribution contracts.

#2. Separate business and personal finances

If you have a limited liability company (LLC) or an S-corporation, it’s essential to take steps to treat your business as a separate entity. This means your personal finances and business finances shouldn’t be mixed to maintain your limited liability protection. If your business and personal finances are mixed, you may lose the legal protection you gained by forming an LLC or incorporating. A business credit card can also help you with record keeping for your taxes by keeping business expenses organized.

#3. Many forms of protection

A business credit card comes with many forms of valuable protection above and beyond a debit card. Depending on the card, you can enjoy:

  • Fraud protection. You aren’t liable for fraudulent purchases
  • Rental car insurance. You’ll save money at the car rental counter, by refusing the expensive collision damage waiver coverage from the rental car agency
  • Price protection. Some cards offer a service to reimburse you the difference in price on eligible items purchased with your credit card if the price drops within a specific period of time
  • Purchase protection.  This service protects you if your purchased item was not provided, damaged, stolen, or lost within a specific amount of time
  • Extended warranties, Often the card will extend your warranties for your business purchases

#4. Track and manage employee spending

If you have employees with spending privileges, a small business card can allow your employees to make purchases on behalf of the company. Most business credit cards allow you to order employee cards with spending limits you control and reports to help you track spending. You can even set up alerts to know when and how employees are using their cards and earn rewards faster across all employee cards.

#5. Earn significant rewards

Business cards usually have better rewards than personal credit cards, especially when it comes to common business categories like office supplies, cell phone service, travel, and gasoline. Look for a business card tailored to the needs of your business.

#6. Improve cash flow

A business credit card can help you improve cash flow, especially when your business is getting off the ground or struggling with slow paying customers. A credit card can help when income slows down, invoices are overdue, or you have important business expenses without free capital.

About the author:

Ryan Bridges is a contributing writer and media specialist for the Financial Business Solutions, Inc. He regularly produces content for a variety of business and finance blogs, based around the transitional challenges which comes with managing businesses and financing.

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When Should You Start Hiring Employees?

As your business grows, you’ll likely find you can no longer handle all the roles and responsibilities required to keep your company chugging along. You may reach a point where you have to decide whether you’re willing to continue to work long and grueling hours to do everything yourself, or invest in building out your staff. But how do you know when the ideal time is to start hiring?

Consider Your Own Sanity Reason Enough

Having a thriving business is wonderful, but it often comes at a price. While you might have had a flexible schedule and only worked 6-hour days for the first year, you now may find yourself spending 12+ hours a day at work, and still things aren’t getting done.

Success and stress are often two sides to the same coin.

Remember why you got into business: to do something you enjoy, and get paid while doing it. If you’re no longer enjoying being an entrepreneur, or if it’s affecting your mental or physical health, it’s time to get some help. Hiring one or more employees can greatly alleviate the pressure you have to handle everything in your business on your own.

You’re Giving Less Than 100%

Consider that if you’re attracting new clients, managing your marketing, fulfilling orders, and buying office supplies, you’re being pulled in a lot of directions, and you’re probably not efficiently handling any one area of your business. The busier you get, the harder it is to deliver flawless execution when you’re doing it all yourself.

You may think you’re saving money by not hiring employees, when in reality, you’re doing your business a disservice by continuing to limp along and trying to handle it all yourself. You may find yourself making unnecessary errors or even losing customers, due to your trying to juggle too many balls at once.

Hiring help not only frees up your time but it also puts someone with more experience than you in a given role. You may know the basics of accounting, but hiring an actual bookkeeper may help you streamline your business or even pay less in taxes simply because that individual knows her craft.

Hire Before You’re Desperate

You might assume that the best time to hire employees is when you can afford to. Well certainly, you want reassurance that you can pay anyone you hire, but if you wait until all the other “important stuff” is covered financially, you’ll never find the right time to hire.

Hiring your first employee should push you out of your comfort zone. You should be just a little nervous about taking on such a major responsibility. But this will make you work harder to bring in more money, and then you’ll easily be able to cover that person’s salary.

And don’t wait until the situation is dire. Searching for the ideal job candidate, interviewing, and then onboarding and training that person will take a lot of energy that you don’t have if you’re swamped. Instead, start your process when things are starting to get hectic, but haven’t gone completely crazy. This is the time to invest in finding the right employee without desperately grabbing the first person who applies, or worse your cousin who needs job. It’s a big decision to bring someone into your business and one you don’t want to make rashly otherwise you’ll be out looking for someone again in 6 months.

How to Start Hiring

The first step here is to define what help you need. Develop a job description. You need to organize the different responsibilities in your business into piles, to see what you need to offload. It will be easier to see where you need the most help.

For example: maybe all the marketing responsibilities in your company stress you out and you find yourself putting them off. Hiring a marketing assistant can let you hand all those tasks over to that employee so you can work on growing your business.

Start with the biggest area of need for your first hire. Even if you can afford to hire multiple people at once, go slow. Hiring an employee is a skill in and of itself, and you want to learn from the experience to better shape the next round of hiring.

Start with a Freelancer or Virtual Hire

You don’t have to start by hiring a full-time employee with benefits. Hiring a freelancer is a great first step because you get the help you need with an aspect of your business like marketing or accounting, but you aren’t burdened with paying a salary year ‘round. You might only need help temporarily, and after a project ends, you won’t have to keep paying.

You can also hire a virtual assistant if you consistently need assistance on certain administrative tasks, but don’t have enough work to keep someone busy 40 hours a week. You could even hire an intern or co-op student if you have low-level tasks that a college student could easily handle (and this is really cost-effective!). Remember: you have options and can get creative about the solutions you choose to help you get work done.

Congratulations. If you’re to the point of needing to hire employees, your business is thriving. As you grow, you will need to shift how you’ve always done business so that you can accommodate the ever-expanding size of your company.

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How to Have a Greater Impact in Your Small Business

Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9 pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Joanne Sonenshine is Founder + CEO of Connective Impact, a company focused on bringing like-minded organizations together to improve how we utilize resources and address the crises of our time. She is also author of ChangeSeekers: Finding Your Path to Impact. For more info: http://ift.tt/2tB4Wyk  

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME OF THE TRIGGERS AND OUTCOMES IN LIFE THAT CAUSES CHANGE?

Joanne Sonenshine:

That’s a good question.  Typically, people may consistently struggle to find true satisfaction in their professional career, year deeply for meaning and/or fulfillment.  This may result in resigning from your job and taking the risk to start a new business.  However, determine is what it takes to be successful and loving what you do can change the trajectory of your life.  Many people also realize there could be substantial lessons learned and lead to a circuitous path to find their own method of impact the world.  Thus, becoming a ChangeSeeker.

SmallBizLady:  YOU MENTIONED A CHANGESEEKER, WHO ARE THEY?

Joanne Sonenshine:

ChangeSeeker’s are amazingly inspiring people who are truly changing the world around us each day.  They are those who have navigated significant person or professional challenges to seek out a more impactful career, starting a small business and having more meaning in their lives.  ChangeSeeker’s inspire others to want better for themselves.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME OF THE BENEFITS BEING A CHANGESEEKER?

Joanne Sonenshine:

ChangeSeeker’s can expect to be more confident in their own personal and business pursuits.  They tend to recognize and embrace a change in their lives, find greater meaning and be at peace.  Additionally, they welcome the opportunity to resonate with others and carry on the fight to make the world a better place.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CHALLENGES IN BALANCING LIFE AS A BUSINESS OWNER AND LIFE, IN GENERAL?

Joanne Sonenshine:

Typically, the greatest challenge tends to be balancing yourself.  As small business owners, you need to remember that it’s impossible to perform all the roles in your life well, all the time.  Therefore, it may require compromise and sacrifice being the “best” parent or spouse to ensure your business is operating at capacity.  Try and balance out the time you spend with your family and between work.

SmallBizLady:  HOW WILL A CHANGESEEKER KNOW THEY ARE ON THE RIGHT PATH?

Joanne Sonenshine:

I don’t think there’s one answer for this, because there isn’t even one “right path.”  Your career or business journey can take a series of twists and turns, and in some cases, have questionable results.  Once you find yourself in a position that seems to be the be-all and end-all, often there are opportunities or decisions that make you question whether there’s more in store. Frankly, that’s part of the excitement—staying curious and pushing forward, not doubting yourself, your business choices and staying true to what drives you—your inner voice.

SmallBizLady:  What are the steps TO FINDING fulfillment?

Joanne Sonenshine:

It will take dedication, focus and risk before many people will find what is going to truly inspire them to fulfill their career, personal development, and small business goals.  This could mean that you will need to stop being the person you thought you were and embracing the person you need to become. Try redefining your personal and profession intent.  Redirect your focus and energy without drastic consequences.  Being successful at self-direction on a path toward true impact means finding the confidence from within to take risks, make mistakes and apologize for failures, and move on without second guessing yourself.  This takes experience, knowledge gathering, and practice to find true fulfillment.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO BEGINNERS?

Joanne Sonenshine:

Tell yourself to “just go.”  Like the Nike slogan, “Just Do It.”  Don’t overthink, just keep moving forward and follow the senses that guide you towards the next hurdles and decisions.

SmallBizLady:  WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOUR “PATH” HAS INTERFERENCE BY TRYING TO MANAGE THE EXPECTATIONS OF OTHERS?

Joanne Sonenshine:

Expectations carry a weight that makes decision-making fraught with hesitations and uncertainties. Having confidence, moving forward despite hurdles and trusting your gut will keep you moving, whether it’s in the ‘right’ direction or not. The experiences you gain are all critical to the journey. Who you are, and ultimately who you become, is built on multiple layers of expectation. Your path shouldn’t be based on what is expected of you, or what dues you have paid, but instead on where you see need, where you can provide value, and ultimately where you can have the most impact.

SmallBizLady:  HOW DOES THE CONCEPT OF “FLEXIBILITY” PLAY IN THE VARIOUS PATH-CHANGES IN LIFE?

Joanne Sonenshine:

  1. Stay true to your beliefs, which is the opposite of being flexible.
  2. Recognize when a situation is just not right.
  3. Be honest, both with those around you and yourself.
  4. When it’s time to move forward, it’s just time to move forward

SmallBizLady:  HOW VALUABLE CAN RELATIONSHIPS BE IN THE SUCCESS OF YOUR CAREER AND BUSINESS?

Joanne Sonenshine:

Valuable does not even do the importance of relationship building justice. Having close friendships, knowing those in your network as people that have interests and passions of their own, and listening with intent to what makes people tick can be the most pivotal elements of your personal and business journey.

SmallBizLady:  AFTER JUMPSTARTING YOUR LIFE, CREATING AND HAVING A GREATER IMPACT IN YOUR SMALL BUSINESS, WHAT’S NEXT?

Joanne Sonenshine:

The beauty of not knowing is that the potential is unlimited. Focus on never reaching the end of what’s possible.

If you found this interview helpful, join us on Wednesdays 8-9 pm ET; follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter.

Here’s how to participate in #SmallBizChat: http://bit.ly/1hZeIlz

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Three tips for using web analytics tools

Sponsored Post

Business owners need data to scale. We need it for inspiring stats about the growth of certain industries. We need it to deepen our relationships with our customers, to figure out what works for them and what doesn’t. Perhaps the need for data is what drives so many of my Google Digital Coach workshop attendees to pull out their phones and snap pictures of slides that illustrate about the growth minority and women-owned businesses. Data excites us!

Here are three tips when it comes to using measurement tools to grow your business online, like Google Analytics:

  1.   Use the tools. Don’t just sign up for a Google Analytics account, and forget it. If all you are going to do is just take the step of putting the tracking code on your site…and never visiting the platform. Don’t bother, it won’t help your business. I know you are busy and have a lot on your plate. However, if your website is only reaching a portion of its potential audience that is probably because it’s not regularly being optimized and evaluated. Take some action steps: Make your strategies data-driven by scheduling in 30-60 minutes on a weekly or biweekly basis to visit your Google Analytics dashboard. Where are your visitors coming from? Are they leaving after a particular page? Are they completing the journey you envisioned for your customer? Do some evaluating and determine what you may need to revamp to make your calls to action more simple. Also if you see that your potential customer really enjoyed a certain type of content, you may need to amplify it.
  2.   Decide what you want to look for. One reason why you aren’t using your Google Analytics as often as you should might be because you simply don’t know what to look for, or what to do with the information. That makes sense to me. To alleviate that feeling, think of one meaningful thing you’d like to measure consistently. Is it traffic growth? Is it the locations of site visitors? Is it knowing what web pages drive the most visits? Is it tracking which social sites your traffic is coming from? There is really so much to explore, so spend some time under the hood of your website so that you can understanding your data. Then narrow in on what you’d like to track.
  3.   Do something with your discovery. Analytics are going to be less exciting if you aren’t using them to inform your business strategy. SO USE THEM TO BUILD YOUR BUSINESS STRATEGY! Once you’ve chosen your focus, come up with a monthly action step based on your findings. An example could be: if I know most people are spending their time on a particular page, I may want to replicate the content or format of that page and leverage it for other pages. Or, if most of my audience is based in Arizona, I may want to do some paid advertising in that market to grow that audience. Read case studies here.

Whatever your focus, you’ve got this!  Schedule that time in your calendar as a recurring invite to yourself right now to review your analytics! And more importantly, use that data to grow your business and your customer base  The more you know the better you can serve your potential customers online.

You can learn even more about online advertising from Angelina Darrisaw at this year’s Reinvention Weekend Conference Oct 6-7, 2017 in Washington, D.C., sponsored by the Get Your Business Online team at Google.  She’ll be conducting a workshop presentation on building your business online leveraging Google tools.  Use the coupon code RWSBL to get $100 off of your ticket.

About the author

Angelina Darrisaw is a Career Coach Trainer and Expert Facilitator who helps companies retain & engage diverse millennial professionals with her C-Suite Coach business. She is also a highly regarded Google Digital Coach charged with bridging the digital divide for Black & Latinx Businesses. For more information http://ift.tt/2rHpS9C

About our sponsor

Google AdWords Express is a fully automated advertising solution specifically designed for small businesses and first-time advertisers. With AdWords Express, several types of ads are created and constantly optimized for you. We automatically show your ads on Google, Google Maps, and relevant partner websites, on both desktop and mobile. You don’t need to be an expert in online marketing and don’t have to spend much time managing your ad campaigns.

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Small Businesses Are Not Exempt from Cyber Attacks

Cyber safety is within your grasp.

More than 60 percent of business-related cyber attacks happen to small business owners!

This doesn’t mean that you need to hire ex-Navy SEALs to protect your organization. However, it does demand more vigilance on your part when it comes to protecting your own — and especially your customers’ — data.

What Is a Cyber Attack?

Many different types of cyber attacks exist, and they seem to get more complicated and more varied as time passes, especially on mobile devices. Criminals have used cyber attacks to gain access to passwords, account numbers, and identity information. They often encrypt data on SMB-owned networks so they can ransom the network and the information on it for money.

In many cases, cyber attacks catch small businesses by surprise when an employee (or the business owner) clicks on a seemingly innocent email or shares their passwords with someone who shouldn’t have them. Each employee can become a liability to the entire organization’s security, which is why small business owners must educate themselves and their workers on prevention.

Educate Your Team

Train your employees in the art of data protection. I keep lots of files on my business network that no one else should see, so I’m constantly changing passwords and reminding my employees about safe cyber practices and of the consequences of failing to follow them.

Focus on the following competencies when putting your team through cyber security training:

  • Avoid clicks: Unless you can verify the sender, avoid clicking on any links, even if you think you recognize the top-level domain (TLD). Hackers can “spoof” email addresses to fool otherwise vigilant employees.
  • Change passwords regularly: Consider creating a company policy that requires employees to change their passwords frequently.
  • Keep devices secure: Make sure your employees use encryption on their personal devices, such as passwords, especially if they store work information on those devices.
  • Scan everything: Let your employees know that the network’s antivirus software will scan any digital devices they bring into the office, such as USB drives and peripherals.
  • Update software: Even though you upgrade your network to the latest version of anti-virus software, you must ensure that they are installed on all company and employee BYOD devices. A single crack in your defenses could create a cyber risk.

Embrace Encryption

I’m a big fan of encryption. It’s a useful tool to make sure that only select people can read the data you collect about your business and your customers.

We’re constantly facing new threats from criminals who want access to our customers’ credit card information or our proprietary company information. Encryption can stop them from getting what they want.

As a small business owner, you may not think that they have room in your budgets for high-dollar software that might protect you from cyber attacks. However, there are several inexpensive encryption programs on the market today, such as CertainSafe and Cypherix PE.

Classify Data Correctly

If you want to protect your small business’ sensitive data, you must know when to classify data as sensitive. For instance, employee personal information should be considered sensitive because criminals could use it to steal identities.

Once you know how to classify data, you can protect it adequately and appropriately. You may not need to encrypt and protect everything (which slows down productivity and frustrates user) but you do need to protect the important things.

Identify Internet-Connected Devices

Small businesses aren’t operating only on desktop and laptop computers. Owners and employees use smartphones, tablets, and other Internet-connected devices that can create vulnerabilities in an otherwise well-protected system.

Internet crime can be perpetrated on any device that connects to the web. To take the time to protect all those devices.

Will your small business become the target of a cyber attack? More than 60% of small businesses do. If you don’t take steps to protect your business, you make yourself an easy, target. Let’s not do that.

Protect yourself and your business and have fun while you’re at it. If you are ready to take your small business to the next level, Join me at this year’s Reinvention Weekend Conference Oct. 6-7, 2017 in Washington, DC. Cybersecurity is just one of the many topics I will share to help you fix your business.

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