Category Archives: Daily Blog

How to Turn Your Book into an Online Course

Guest Article

All books require explanation, even the #1 Book in the World – the Bible. So, why not explain your book? People oftentimes want to “hear” or ask questions about a particular statement, chapter, etc. Wouldn’t it be great to give them an opportunity to get their questions answers by turning your book into an online course?

Let’s face it, you’ve written the book, published it, but no one is buying it despite your repeated marketing efforts. Don’t fret, there’s good news and there’s great news about turning your book into a course.

How would you like to charge $97 to $297 for your book? You may be thinking, ‘you’ve gone mad woman’! It’s a hard to peddle books out of your trunk as a vendor at an event and not yield a great return. If you turn your book into a course you can sell your course designed by you book in your sleep and make three to five times as much.

People that purchase books will say they love it, but they may have questions on how to apply a certain portion of the book to their life and/or business. This may get you thinking like I did years ago – “wow, I need to answer their questions, but more importantly, what if other people had the same questions that went unanswered.”

Ultimately, you can turn your book into a 4 to 6-week class with worksheets, audios and full interaction with the participants! And, here’s the great news, as a starting point, you can charge up to 5 times the cost of your book!

Now that I’ve made the business case, let’s dive into the 5 Steps for Turning Your Book into an Online Course.

  1. Select an engaging topic. You might not need to use the title of your book, you might want to pull out a section of the book to build your course. Do your due diligence and select an attractive topic. A good topic acts as an attractive force that pulls in your target audience because it relates to them and solves a problem. Drawing the attention of the reader should be your first priority. You should consider the following points if at all you are in the research stage.
  • What about your book solves a problem?
  • Do you know your target audience?
  • Where can you find them online?
  • Do they have the capacity to invest in your course?
  1. Draw up an appealing outline. Don’t just jump into content creation but rather filter out your course outline like a sales document. You need to make each week’s course content appealing to your target audience. A well-planned outline will engage your audience in a most dramatic fashion. Try to be as concise as possible to stimulate your readers to action. You can do this by:
  • Trying to stimulate their aspirational goals or solve a specific problem
  • Tease important strategies and concepts they will learn
  • Order your thoughts in a logical manner
  1. Create an eye-catching title. Your title should act as a package that meets the needs and wants of your target audience. What is it you are trying to teach your target audience? Does it provide a solution to their problems? Most readers are always interested in the title, it’s how they make the decision to keep reading. For example, a good title could read like: How to make more money online. 
  2. Create captivating content. Your content should reflect the same quality and attractiveness as your title. The best strategy to use is to create content that appeals to all the ways people learn, You can start with walking your talk, or an audio course. Then your need slides for those who want to read the information and then you can add video elements to build connection with your audience and for those who you rather watch and listen. You can even go an extra mile by adding PDF worksheets and Word documents so they have homework to practice each week’s lesson.
  3. Be profit-oriented. You are providing a service to your audience by creating an online course. You are packaging your content to make it easy for your clients to get access to it. Don’t be afraid to charge for it. you can charge $97 to $497, per course and include the book. You can use great online platforms to upload and share your course. After doing all these, you will now be ready to launch and sell your online course.

Don’t just stop at writing the book. Maximize that content by creating an online course. What a great way to get some of those books off of your shelves, out of the boxes in the garage and into the hands of people that need your information!  And you’ll make money too.

About the author

Joan Wilson is known as the Online Content Champion.  She lands a knock out each time with her clients by utilizing her 1-2 punch combination to help them creatively sort out business branding ideas and uniquely package their content into profitable products.  She is best known for her 6-figure content launch services. http://ift.tt/2g1xfEQ

Don’t miss Joan’s message at this year’s Reinvention Weekend 2017 Conference Oct 6-7, 2017 in DC – http://ift.tt/2wlQnBd

 

 

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How to Build Corporate Sponsorships for Your Small Business

If you’re looking for additional streams of revenue, corporate sponsorships could be a viable revenue stream. Now please don’t think this is FREE money. Major companies only do sponsorship if there a clear ROI. If you have something to offer (like an engaged niche audience) this could be a realistic business opportunity for you. Corporations are looking for ways to reach their target customer, if you have a tribe in their sweet spot, they could be willing to pay to engage you as a channel partner.

What Corporate Sponsorships Look Like

There are a lot of different types of corporate sponsorships deals, so know that you’re not limited to the following ideas.

A brand might invite you to be a “resident expert” on its blog, contributing content and sharing it with your audience. You could also publish several sponsored blog posts from the brand on your own blog, helping them reach your audience. You might be engaged in a social media marketing campaign, talking about the brand’s product launch or pushing a contest. You could also host product giveaways through your various social channels. Corporate brands might also want to advertise on your website. Or you could represent the brand as a speaker at industry events.

Often when you build a corporate sponsorship package, you might include several of these different options. Always consider the customer’s goals and offer your best suggestions to help them with their marketing challenge. You want to make sure you give them what they ask for but, be sure to include some additional offers that might also be appealing.

Are You Ready for Corporate Sponsorship?

Not every small business owner is positioned to offer something of value to a corporate brand. Ask yourself the following questions to determine if pursuing sponsorships is the right next step for you.

How significant is my social media following? Social media is typically a large part of any sponsorship campaign, so brands considering investing in you will want to see that you have tens of thousands of followers across Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook. Also, how engaged are your followers? How much do you know about your target audience? A brand should be able to look at your followers and see that the audience it’s trying to reach frequently sharing and responding to your social updates.

What am I known for? For me as the SmallBizLady, it’s clear that I have the ear of small business, and so I tend to attract corporations that are looking to connect with that target audience. But what about you? What niche do you serve that would appeal to a corporation? Where do you demonstrate your expertise? On a blog, Youtube, Instagram, etc.? Content is often how these connections are made, so where are you doing it?

What’s my unique value? How would a corporation benefit from working with you? Realize that there are many, many experts doing nearly exactly what you do. What makes you better than the rest? What value can you offer that beats out the competition? Give sponsors a clear reason to choose you rather than shopping around to another influencer.

Do I have time to take on additional work? Sure, you want to boost revenues, but do you have the time to do the work required for a corporate sponsorship? Depending on what you agree on with your customer, you could be spending 20 hours or more a month writing content, making public appearances, or scheduling additional social media content. Make sure it’s financially a smart move for the amount of time it will take to do the work.

What would I get out of it? You will get a financial reward from a corporate sponsorship, but sometimes there are other perks such a FREE products and services. But don’t just get excited about a free printer, you should be getting paid too.  Working with a large corporation might open the door to other business opportunities. Always look for the long-term relationship: rather than a single blog giveaway. Try to build out at least six-month sponsorship package. The more value you can provide long-term, the more indispensable you become to that company.

Does this brand align with my business’ values? If you’re a vegetarian, it doesn’t make sense to take on a fur coat sponsor. You get my drift. Because you’ve worked so hard to build trust with your audience, it’s of the utmost importance to only work with brands that you feel comfortable standing behind. Don’t promote anyone you wouldn’t buy or use. It’s easy to lose trust with your audience if you end up sounding too salesy when talking about your corporate sponsor. If any brand pushes you to send overly promotional marketing messages, push back or move on. You must always remain genuine and true to your own brand.

Final Tips for Corporate Sponsorships

Make sure you clearly understand what is expected of you before you sign any contract. Know exactly what deliverables the company wants from you, and how you will be paid? Also make sure you know how long they can use your content and likeness in connection with their brand. Use a lawyer to help you with any contract

Know your worth. As entrepreneurs, sometimes we tend to be shy about charging what we’re worth, and believe me: a giant corporation that can afford to pay you triple isn’t going to tell you you’re undercharging. Unless the brand approaches you with a budget number, quote a price that makes you just a little uncomfortable, but that’s still reasonable. The corporation will likely come back with an offer that you can then consider.

If engaging corporate sponsorships fits with your business model, it can be a fantastic way to not only boost your bottom line but also extend your business contacts and boost your brand. Who knows? You might end up with customer for life as a result.

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How to build a profitable business while working your full-time job

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 Audra Upchurch who inspires career women to embrace their authenticity and thrive in their personal lives.  She is also the owner of Xpress Mail that provides packing, shipping, printing and business services.  For more info: www.xpressmbs.com.  

SmallBizLady:  Audra, I want to start a business but can’t afford to quit my job.  Where do I begin?

AuthenticAudra: Start with something you’re good at and passionate about.  If you’re working a full-time job that you’re already not happy with, no need to do the same with your business.  Do something that excites you!  That’s going to motivate you when you’re tired at 2am and working on a customer deadline.  Also, make sure there is a need in the market for your business idea before you jump in; but most importantly, sit down and discuss it with your family.

SmallBizLady: Should I inform my boss that I am starting my own business

AuthenticAudra:  You’ll want to review your employee handbook and policies to confirm if it is a requirement or if there is a non-compete clause.  Also, consider your relationship with your boss.  If you think your boss will feel like you’re hiding something then you may want to share it.

SmallBizLady:  What if my boss is uncomfortable with the idea of me starting a business?  I still need a paycheck.

AuthenticAudra:  Have a candid conversation with your boss. Share your schedule and ensure him that you are not working on company time.  Your boss may not be aware of the automation and outsourcing options available and that your business can run efficiently while you are at work.

SmallBizLady:  Will my family and friends support me?

AuthenticAudra: They may, but don’t count on it.  Your vision of entrepreneurship is your own.  Family and friends mean well but if you are truly building a business, and not a hobby, you must build a customer base to sustain your business. If your idea is solid, there are customers out there, but you must do the work to find them.

SmallBizLady:  Where do I find customers?

AuthenticAudra: Networking is the easy answer but it’s so true! Develop a blueprint of your target customer (their likes, dislikes, habits, etc.) and network in those key areas.  Also, partner with another small business to pool resources so you won’t have to take so much time away from work.  You’ll also want to register at sam.gov (System for Award Management) for possible federal contracts, depending on your products and services.  Also, register with your state and local procurement offices as many of the contracts have small business requirements.

SmallBizLady:  What should I do to prepare?

AuthenticAudra: Your business will require time, attention and focus to be successful.  After giving your job 8 hours of your day, you’ll still have family obligations so your time will be tight.  Sit down and assess what items you can remove from your schedule.  Everything should be on the table from tv time to chores.  Discuss the schedule with your family to see who can pick up the slack.

SmallBizLady: How do I get my family’s buy-in on my new schedule?  They feel like they are being neglected.

AuthenticAudra: I have 3 tips for getting their buy in; 1- be consistent in your business.  If you’ve scheduled to work 4 nights a week in your business then work 4 nights a week.  No going to shoot pool instead of contacting customers.  2- show up for them when you say you’re going to show up.  If it’s family night don’t keep your family waiting while you finish up a conference call.  3 – let them in on your end game.  Let them know this is not forever and that you have a plan.  Set an actual date, even if it’s years out.

SmallBizLady: What if I can’t do it all?

AuthenticAudra: You can’t.  No one expects you to.  Along with leveraging other small businesses, don’t be afraid to outsource.  In this dual role, your time should be spent on the revenue producing activities.  Administrative, financial and ever marketing actions can be outsourced so your time is well spent.  Automation is your friend.  Schedule social media posts and invest in a good customer relationship management tool (CRM) that will work while you sleep. In fact, utilize your spouse and kids to help with stuffing envelopes, sending emails or scheduling your social media posts so that they feel involved and save money on outsourcing those tasks.

SmallBizLady:  How should I pay myself?

AuthenticAudra: You don’t.  You should be reinvesting in your business until you are generating a profit.  Generally speaking, profit is what’s left after expenses.  Since you have the benefit of your full-time job to cover your household bills, it would be wise to reinvest in your business to expedite growth if your intention is to quit your job one day. For the time being, your job is funding your business.

SmallBizLady: I have years of experience in my field, should I still invest in a coach?

AuthenticAudra: Working for a business and running a business are two completely different animals.  Although you may have the technical expertise, you still need someone to show you how to set up your business systems, marketing, forecasting, etc.  A coach can help you do that and avoid costly mistakes that your small business cannot afford to make in its infancy.

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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How Your Small Business Can Create a Highly Engaged Organization

Guest Article

I’ve always had a keen interest in helping small, diverse and disadvantaged businesses. I’ve found that when given the opportunity to compete in a fair and transparent environment, these companies are very successful at winning new business when going “head-to-head” with larger organizations.  And it makes sense that they would.  Their very makeup allows them to be much more entrepreneurial and responsive to customer needs.

A few years back, I worked with a small business (around 200 people) and helped them put in place many strategies and methods that transformed the business. Now I want to share these tools with other small business owners. In my new book, Engaged: Creating a Great Organization through Extraordinary Employee and User Engagement, I outline how within six months the company culture and employee engagement dramatically improved and many great new ideas were put in place. These efforts not only provided greater customer satisfaction but also significantly reduced cost.  The whole company reverberated with renewed enthusiasm.

Here are some of the actions that small businesses can take to create an engaged organization where people are able to make a difference.

Become a servant leader: If you are a manager in a small business you can help your subordinates be more effective by viewing yourself as at the bottom of the pyramid rather than at the top. Instead of trying to control your employees, you should view your role as empowering and supporting their success. Instead of viewing yourself as having “power over,” view yourself as giving people “power to do.” Your employees will be grateful and will go the extra mile.

Avoid the pitfalls of internally-focused metrics and quotas: Departments in many large companies create internally focused metrics and quotas that they evaluate employees on. Too often, these pull the employees away from doing what they know is right for the customers. They can also lead to silos and losing sight of the big picture because employees become so focused on only meeting the requirements of their own department. Small businesses can avoid this by understanding that humans are intrinsically motivated to make a difference, to serve the customer. If metrics must be used they should be applied with caution and be focused on external factors such as on customer delight or customer intent to recommend your company to others.

Work backwards from where you want to be: Instead of trying to make improvements on what you have in place today, get a group together and take a few hours. Pretend that your services, systems, products, facilities, organization, etc. was destroyed last night and you are free to design what you ideally like to replace it with today. This can serve as your north star and can open up new ideas. Perhaps more importantly, when the group comes up with ideas together, this tends to create much stronger buy in, resulting in successful implementation of the desired improvements.

Focus on creating a great culture: Many small businesses accidentally develop a dysfunctional culture simply because they don’t know to focus on creating the culture they want. One powerful approach to creating a desirable culture – used by Zappos.com when it was a fledgling small business – is to define the principles you want your company to be guided by. For example: we help each other be successful; we regularly appreciate people’s contributions; we are forever improving; we support a healthy community; we embrace learning; we seek out customer problems that we might solve. This reduces unhealthy conflict and organizational paralysis.

Don’t try to be the hero: In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin observed how little he achieved when he presented an idea as his own. Instead, he found he was much more successful when he presented an idea as coming from a group. So, instead of competing with your colleagues for the glory, come up with and then implement ideas together, and you are more likely to see cooperation rather than resistance.

Make it easy for customers to submit “wishes”: Starbucks began in 1971 as a single coffee shop. As of November 2016 it was in 23,768 locations worldwide. To take advantage of customer ideas, in 2008 they implemented an online customer idea submission website named My Starbucks Idea. This “crowdsourcing” site enables customers to submit their own ideas and see and evaluate those of others, allowing Starbucks to assess support for an idea. As a small businesses, you could implement something similar in order to continually enhance your service to your customers.

Stay connected with your customers’ problems: In small businesses a higher percentage of employees have direct contact with a customer. As your company grows, avoid the pitfall of more employees losing connections with your customers. You can emphasize and put in place practices wherein employees observe and interact with customers in person to learn more about problems and unmet needs the company might address.

About the author

Jason Magidson is a workforce development expert. His new book, Engaged, can be found on Amazon.com – http://amzn.to/2vF6tVe

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How to Run a Successful Food Truck Business

No matter where you live, you’ve likely seen or eaten at a food truck. There are some great reasons why savvy entrepreneurs are opening restaurants on wheels: the overhead is low, and they can go where their customers are. Operating a food truck is also a great way to test out a restaurant concept or menu to see how diners respond before investing what can be millions in a brick-and-mortar restaurant that you’re not sure will succeed.

If you’re considering launching a food truck business, there are a few things you should do first to ensure success.

Research the Market

All food decisions are local. Smaller towns may have just one or two food trucks, but that might be because it’s hard to attract business. Larger cities are filled with food trucks catering to every taste, and the competition is fierce.

Talk to food truck business owners to get a sense of what the market is like. Would they do it all over again? Do they make a living at it? Getting insight into what it is to run a food truck business in your city is invaluable, because it might keep you from making a bad business decision.

Determine Your Niche

It’s not just about what you serve, it’s also about where you will do it. I live in Philadelphia, PA where Insomniacookies started on college campuses around town.  Their niche was warm fresh chocolate chip cookies until 3am. They had a two prong niche, they focused on late night sweet cravers, and they always located their trucks on college campuses, a target rich environment. These days they have store fronts and even deliver warm cookies to your front door, but they knew their audience, and no one had that niche when they started.  What will your niche be tacos, sushi, cupcakes, or cheese steaks? Look at your competitive landscape and pick a niche food focus and location area.

Find Out What’s Required

Just like with a standard restaurant, you’ll need a business licenses and a parking permit to operate your food truck business. You will likely need a separate license for preparing and selling food as well, so check with city, county, and state to ensure that you know what is required. And just like any other restaurant, you’ll have a health inspection, so make cleanliness a priority from the start.

Keep in mind: you may move around to find the right location your food truck, so map out a few locations that are easy to get to where the locals will support your presence, not fight it (maybe parking in front of another restaurant isn’t the wisest idea).

Buy a Truck

Your food truck business has one central theme: a food truck! You may be able to find a recently-used truck that’s been outfitted with a modern kitchen that will stand up to health codes for under $40,000. Otherwise you can buy a new truck and do the customizing yourself, though it will cost more, a lot more like $100,000+.

Protect Your Business

Anything you can do to protect both your business and your personal assets, you should do. Start by considering your business structure. Setting up your business as an LLC or S-Corp will separate your business from your personal assets, so that should someone sue your business, they can’t touch your personal assets. There are also some tax benefits to choosing certain business structures, so contact your accountant or tax prepared for advice on this.

You may be required by local government offices to carry certain types of business insurance. It can cost between $500 and $3,000 a year, but should anything negative happen, you won’t go in the hole paying legal expenses or doctor bills.

Also be aware: your city government may require you to have specific types of business insurance, such as general liability and commercial auto insurance, says Ted Devine, CEO of Insureon. You may even need additional coverage if you plan to sell food at events like festivals or football games.

“Most event organizers and venues will require food trucks have $1 million in general liability coverage. Even if you don’t have any upcoming events, research ones you may want to attend and take note of their insurance requirements. Carrying those types of coverage will give your food truck the opportunity to land more venues in the future, while also giving it the freedom and mobility to grow.”

Build Your Budget

Before you launch your food truck, make sure you’ve budgeted for your first year of operations. You’re not guaranteed to turn a profit within the first few months, so it’s important that you have enough cash in the bank to cover both business and personal expenses.

Make sure to include in your budget:

  • Startup expenses (truck, graphic design, equipment)
  • Labor
  • Food and supplies
  • Gas
  • Your own salary
  • Business insurance

Be Ready to Leverage Social Media

Because yours is a business on the go, you’ll need to rely on your social media to tell your hungry followers where to find you, especially if you are not going to be in the same location all the time. Before you launch your business, work on building your following by providing teasers of what you’ll be cooking up for locals. Then as you set a schedule for your business, be sure to keep followers updated on where you’ll be serving up meals in real time.

Just like you’d prepare for launching any type of business, take extra care with your food truck company. Spending more time prepping up front the more likely you’ll be and set up for a thriving business.

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How to Enjoy Your Life More as a Woman Entrepreneur

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 Laura Vanderkam who is the author of several time management and productivity books, including I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours.  For more info:  http://ift.tt/1h9l02w  

SmallBizLady:  If I want to spend my time better what’s the first step?

Laura Vanderkam:  Figure out where the time is going now! Try tracking your time for a week. You can use an app, a spreadsheet, or a notebook. Without knowing where the time goes, it’s hard to know if you’re changing the right things. Maybe something you think is a problem isn’t. Or vice versa.

SmallBizLady:  You think lots of people have blind spots with time — even you! What are some of those?

Laura Vanderkam: Most of us think we work more hours than we really do. Entrepreneurs think about work a lot, so we may feel we’re always working. But that’s not true. I used to think I worked 50 hours/week. Then I tracked my time for a year and found I worked 40. Big difference! And I write about this topic!  The good news is that even long hours allow space for other things. There are 168 hours in a week. Work 60, sleep 8 per night (56 per week) and you have 52 for other things.

SmallBizLady:  People think time management is about saving bits of time here and there. You disagree — why?

Laura Vanderkam:  You won’t change your life by saving 2 minutes in the shower, or 3 minutes getting coffee. Put the important stuff in first, and everything else will naturally take less time.

We don’t build the lives we want by saving time. We build the lives we want, and then time saves itself.

SmallBizLady: I oftentimes hear people say “I don’t have time,” what do they really mean?

Laura Vanderkam:  I don’t have time really means “It’s not a priority.” I could tell you I don’t have time to iron my sheets, but that’s not true. If someone offered to pay me $100,000 to iron my sheets I would find the time!

Using this language reminds us that time is a choice. There may be consequences to those choices, but we have more control than we often think.

SmallBizLady:  Women entrepreneurs always tell us there aren’t enough hours in the day. What do you think?

Laura Vanderkam:  There aren’t enough hours in the day to get to everything, but we don’t live our lives in days. We live in weeks. Think 168 hours, not 24, and you’ll see how much space you have.

Things don’t have to happen daily, or at the same time every day, in order to count. If you travel two nights a week for work, focus on the 5 you’re home!

SmallBizLady:  What are some strategies women can use to make time for relationships and personal priorities?

Laura Vanderkam: Try planning your priorities for the next week each Friday. Consider making a 3-category list: career, relationships, self.

Using all 3 categories will remind you that there should be something in all 3 categories! That right there can help you build a more balanced life.

After making the list, look at the next week, and see where these priorities can go on your schedule.

SmallBizLady:  How can busy women entrepreneurs build space into their lives?

Laura Vanderkam: Be careful with the word “yes.” Saying yes to one thing is really saying no to something else.

If someone asks you to do something far in the future, ask yourself if you would do it tomorrow. If you wouldn’t, you won’t be happy about it 3 months from now either. So, your answer should be “no.”

Also, each Friday, look at your calendar for the next week and see what you can ignore, minimize, or outsource. At work, and at home! You don’t have to do everything

SmallBizLady:  Why are weekends the “secret weapon” of successful people?

Laura Vanderkam: Weekends can rejuvenate you, so you hit Monday ready to go. Successful people make sure that they create weekends that don’t disappoint them, or exhaust them.

SmallBizLady: How should women entrepreneurs plan their weekends to enjoy life more?

Laura Vanderkam:  A few days ahead of time, think of 3 things that would add to your energy levels. Look at your weekend, and see when you could make these things happen.

They can be simple things: coffee with a friend, a bike ride, worship services, volunteering. Putting a little thought into the weekend ensures it will be energizing.

SmallBizLady:  When we have bits of time we all check email or social media. What else could we do with that time?

Laura Vanderkam: Try using bits of time for bits of joy! I like to read on the Kindle app. That way I’m reading real literature instead of headlines. You can call or text a friend. You can meditate, or stretch. Little bits of space can make life seem calmer and more enjoyable.

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 Tech Trends Every Small Business Needs To Follow

­­Guest Article

Technology is the future of business. There is absolutely no doubt that the next five years or so will bring big changes in technological trends that will shape the way people buy and sell, and subsequently, how and where entrepreneurs do business.

Whether you are thinking about business applications or marketing methods, it is important to identify the most important technological trends, especially those that are likely to be influential for the long-term. Most trends don’t last long and are eventually replaced by something better. To know which ones to invest your time in, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What is its immediate impact on my business?
  • What is its long-term impact?
  • Can I customize the trend to fit my business niche?
  • Will the trend help me take my business to another level?

Out of all the new emerging technologies out there, here are the top five that are likely to have both an immediate and long-term impact. Remember, though: even though these developments are powerful, you need to apply them correctly in order to achieve your goals.

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning

Top marketing thought leaders predict Artificial intelligence (AI) will revolutionize the marketing industry by 2020.

AI is all about programming computers and other machines so that they can work on their own based on the information fed to them. The result is that as a small business owner, you will no longer have to spend a lot of time marketing your business. With a minimal time investment, AI will take care of the rest of your marketing strategies.

As a result, businesses will significantly cut down on the costs of marketing, and the time required to accomplish the tasks, giving them more resources to focus on other areas of the business.

With AI and Machine Learning, small business owners should be thinking about how to integrate them into the already existing technology. It may also require (re)training of employees and knowing how to interpret results.

The best thing about the whole process is that you only have to do it once, and everything else will happen automatically afterwards. Some of the situation where you will need artificial intelligence apart from marketing include website creation, lead collection, and emails.

  1. Augmented Reality (AR)

The four main ways through which Augmented Reality will shape small businesses are through entertainment, safety and rescue operations, shopping experiences, and urban exploration.

This is because the main focus of AR is on product visualization. Small businesses are going to find the perfect way to showcase their virtual products in real time thanks to this technology.

Considering that product display is one of the main points of focus when it comes marketing, there is no doubt that every business owner will be monitoring this technological trend.

One of the earliest examples of how AR works is Pokemon Go. Just the same way that Oculus Rift Glasses are advancing, and Snapchat glasses are being introduced, the likes of Pokemon Go can only get better.

In a few years, customers will be able to see products in 3D in front of them and even try the features before buying. Whether you are thinking about in-store purchases or online shopping, there is no doubt that AR is going to have an immediate impact on your business.

  1. Virtual Reality (VR)

There is no doubt that the next five years will be huge for those who know the power of virtual reality. Small businesses will be seeking to improve customer relations by engaging them through VR. For instance, this will be the perfect method to educate and entertain customers with story-driven experiences.

Additionally, there will be new relations between brands and their audiences. This is because the audiences will become active participants in the process, and not just bystanders.

Another area where AR will be significantly important is in the teleconferencing industry. Going forward, small businesses will find it much easier to connect with their audiences through virtual conferences. There also will be changes in the education market as well as e-commerce.

  1. The Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things has a far bigger impact on small business than the owners think. It mainly revolves around machine-to-machine communication, and is based on cloud computing. It also involves a network of sensors that gather data to offer instantaneous connections.

IoT has the potential to make everything in this life smart, which makes its use in business more wide-ranging than you can imagine. Whether you are thinking about seaports, street lights, or anything else, you can turn them into smart one through the Internet of Things.

The main focus of this technological trend is to gather, measure, and evaluate data. This is going to be one of the biggest operational pillars of small businesses. In a few years, it will be quite easy for people to use the sensors that are found in these systems to make smarter decisions.

  1. A Connected World


The world is now more closely connected than ever before, and it is going to be even closer in the coming year. This is not just about connecting through Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

We are talking about a world where your car can communicate with your smartphone, or to your thermostat so that it can turn on the heat because you are heading home. With such connections, small businesses will greatly boost their marketing strategies. When almost everything communicates to the other, your business will move to a whole new level.

Of course, there are many other technological trends to look out for. Whether your business is a new one or it has been around for a long time, you need to have a clear plan of how to transition it into the future, and technology is what you are going to rely on.

As you will find out, some of these technological trends will take up most of the difficult work that you have had to do, leaving you with the most important task to focus on: growing your business and taking it to the next level.

About the author

David Kosmayer is CEO of Bookmark Website Builder, the future of web design combining artificial intelligence and website building. David is highly focused, dedicated and passionate about building successful companies.

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Is Your Small Business Physically Fit?

We all know what it is to get in shape. You look at yourself in the mirror, and see that your favorite outfit is looking tight. Thinking back, you know you have been indulging too much. When I feel that way, I start eating better. I incorporate more salads, stop eating out as much, and cut down on the sweets.  I must admit my son and I have a serious sweet tooth at times, so it’s hard to cut back. But when it time to start shedding the pounds, I ramp up my workouts. I go from two days a week at the gym to taking it up to 4 times a week.

But what you do when your business gets out of shape?  It’s important to take a long hard look at our businesses in the same way we look at our health.  Is your business physically fit? There are specific signs that your business needs a new routine.  Are you burning through cash? Is your sales pipeline going through a drought? Have you filed your taxes yet? Are you skipping paychecks often? When is that last time you had a staff meeting?  If you are say yes or no to these questions, it’s time to do something different.

As business owners, we can get so caught up in the day-to-day grind to survive, that we forget routine maintenance. Many of my long time readers know how much of a Benjamin Franklin fan I am. Franklin was America’s first mega entrepreneur, and just a wise old man. Ben Franklin famously advised fire-threatened Philadelphians in 1736 that “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Clearly, preventing fires is better than fighting them, but to what extent can we protect ourselves from fighting fires in our businesses? It’s simple, by investing in professional development as your routine maintenance.

I started the Reinvention Weekend Conference, 5 years ago to create a way for business owners to get a quick boost of knowledge to grow their businesses in a safe environment. You don’t have all the answers on how to fix your business. No one does. But imagine how awesome you will feel when you are shoulder to shoulder with like-minded entrepreneurs and small business experts who will help you figure out a better way to do things. Isolation is the enemy of entrepreneurship. You need to be around other people going through it to see how to take your business to the next level. I created the Melinda F. Emerson Foundation to host this annual conference.

All of our guest speakers and business experts donate their time to coach our attendees. This year’s 2-day event is Oct 6-7, 2017 in Washington, DC. Reinvention Weekend kicks off Friday after noon, and then we go all day Saturday. It’s not your entire weekend, but it is powerful and impactful. This year’s guest speakers include Veteran business expert, Barry Moltz, Digital marketing expert, Trevor Otts, Operations guru, Ellen Rohr, Chef Phillip Ashley, award winning chocolatier and branding expert, Accounting and tax guru, Dawn Brolin, CPA, Content marketing expert, Joan Wilson, and so much more.

Each attendee will participate in a 90-minute mastermind group session with one of our small business experts. This is my gift to you. It’s an affordable way for you to get access to some of the nation’s top small business expert. They’ll help you get what you need to get your business back on track. This year, we have an extra special gift for all attendees. We’ve scored a block of tickets to the National Museum of African American History and Culture of Oct 8th, so come to DC and make a weekend of it.

There are lots of conferences that target small businesses, but we are giving you actionable advice from the stage. You will be able to go home and make real changes in your business. If you want to finally live your dream life as an entrepreneur, don’t miss Reinvention Weekend 2017. We are all invested in your success.

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Do You Have the Right Temperament For Your Small Businesses?

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 Jacqueline T. Hill who has over two decades of experience as a writer, consultant, and teacher she has assisted many students, business owners and community leaders with building their leadership skills.  For more info: http://ift.tt/2tUIgty  

SmallBizLady:  What is Temperament?

Jacqueline T. Hill:  Temperament is the personality we are innately born with that shapes our behaviors. Behaviors or actions are a reflection of our personalities. Although it’s believed most of our personalities are inherited, the greater parts are influenced and shaped by our environments and people.

SmallBizLady:  What are the temperament types?

Jacqueline T. Hill: There are four personality types, and of these four, experts suggest there be a mixture of these two areas: Extroverts and Introverts.

Extroverted Personalities: The Choleric and Sanguine personality-types are more “out-going,” sociable, and comfortable in a crowd, even standing out in a crowd.

Introverted Personalities: The Melancholy and Phlegmatic personality-types are more shy, “reserved”, feel anxious about being, and especially, singled-out in a crowd.

SmallBizLady:  How can your temperament affect your small business?

Jacqueline T. Hill:  You must self-assess to learn how your persona carries two or more of these traits. Once you understand the differences between an extrovert and introvert, you will be able to determine if you need a partner who can handle more of the people management side of your business or the sales piece, if you really have trouble with it. You always want to hire for your weaknesses, knowing this information about yourself will help you make strategic hiring decisions.

SmallBizLady: How does your temperament help you decide the best customer targeting approach?

Jacqueline T. Hill:  Understanding your temperament will help to better gauge who to work with especially if you are providing professional services. Everyone is not your ideal client. Personalities will conflict. If you are providing consulting services, you must know which clients are the best fit and how to redirect others interested in partnering with you to a better option without burning the relationship.

SmallBizLady:  How can a business owner find out their personality/temperament type?

Jacqueline T. Hill:  There is a FREE temperament test online. You can Google “The Four Temperament Types.” It’s the shorter version of the actual test. The questions take a little time to answer. They probe into deep areas of the personality. Even though the questions seem to be surface, they aren’t. The test takes you beyond being nervous or anxious around people. It reveals why you are “wired” the way you are with people. There is also The Kolby Test, which helps business owners better understand their “gifts” for their company.

SmallBizLady:  Are there specific types of temperaments that leads to running a successful business?

Jacqueline T. Hill: Yes, along with ensuring that you and your employees are in the right roles/jobs will help to give value to your customers and with the success of the business.  We will look at three of them:  manager, entrepreneur and professional.

  • Manager – organizers, planners, decision-makers, manages staff
  • Entrepreneur – visionaries, risk takers, energetic, process improvers
  • Professional – communicators, time-sensitive, hands-on, technically skilled (computer, electrician, etc.)

SmallBizLady:  Is it advisable to cease working with a client due to conflicting temperaments?

Jacqueline T. Hill: You always need to decide if the check is worth the aggravation. How things start out is typically how they will be. If a client starts out rescheduling meetings at the last minute, not taking your expert advice or not providing information timely, that tells you a lot about how they organize themselves or whether they value your time and expertise. Talk it through to see if you can get a better working relationship. Then if nothing changes, finish out the contract and move on. Or, if there’s really a conflict, and you can afford to, it could be a situation where you finish just your current deliverable and execute the termination clause of your contract. Reconciliation requires uncomfortable talks. Therefore, understanding your temperament is critical. Discomfort at times comes with being a business owner.

SmallBizLady:  Can an aggressive or hyper-sensitive nature hurt a business?

Jacqueline T. Hill: Wearing your feelings on your sleeves can hurt your business.  It’s okay to be focused and assertive, but crossing that line could result in resentment from your customers and employees.  Understand that people will make mistakes; however, sometimes you will need to step back, reassess the problem and take a different stylistic approach to resolving the problem.  Instead of being aggressive or hyper-sensitive, focus on building a strong relationship with your customers and employees to avoid running them away.  No customers = No sales.

SmallBizLady: What are the four different temperaments and how does it relate to my customers, employees and me?

Jacqueline T. Hill:  The four temperaments help business owners know how to attract, market and interact with their customers and employees:

  1. Methodical – logical, meticulous and want details (moved by information)
  2. Spontaneous – impulsive and make quick decisions in the first 5 seconds (moved by convincing and beneficial bullet points)
  3. Humanist – caring and are moved by what others have said (moved by the number of comments – go with the crowd)
  4. Competitive – front runners who want opportunities to be ahead of the crowd (want assurances that are getting the best)

SmallBizLady:  What are some key things I should keep in mind to develop a successful business model?

Jacqueline T. Hill: It all starts with being driven and passionate about your business.  There are two areas that work together:  desire and loving the work you do for your customers.  Then, it’s ensuring that you are working in the area that complements your strengths.  Make sure you don’t burn out so quickly by wearing too many hats and build a highly effective team to support your goals.

SmallBizLady:  What advice or next steps do you suggest for business owners?

Jacqueline T. Hill: I suggest taking the 10 question personality test. Be as open-minded as possible for the results. You will gain a new perspective about yourself and how you view others. It will also help you accept the difference in others. We aren’t wired the same, but we all can become self-aware and better business owners that meet the wants and needs in our clients.

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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Who’s on #Smallbizchat August 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.

This month, we’ll be on Twitter talking about time management; running a profitable business; being a woman entrepreneur and loving it; small business temperament; and understanding financial basics for your business.

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

August 2nd – 10 benefits of Good Time Management, @allyson7minutes

Allyson Lewis is the founder of The 7 Minute Life, a time management company for people who are overwhelmed and looking for strategies to replace chaos with freedom, passion, and purpose.  Visit her site at http://ift.tt/1rYC0bR.

 

August 9th – How to Enjoy Your Life More as a Woman Entrepreneur, @lvanderkam

Laura Vanderkam is the author of several time management and productivity books, including I Know How She Does It, What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, and 168 Hours.  Visit her site at http://ift.tt/1h9l02w.

 

August 16th – How to Build a Profitable Business While Working Your Full-Time Job, @authenticaudra

Audra Upchurch is the owner of Xpress Mail that provides packing, shipping, printing and business services.  Learn more at www.xpressmbs.com.

 

August 23rd – Temperament and Consulting for Small Businesses, @jacquelinethill

Jacqueline T. Hill has over two decades of experience as a writer, consultant, and teacher. A former certified High School English Teacher and former Pastor, she has assisted many students and community leaders.  Visit Jacqueline’s site at http://ift.tt/2tUIgty.

August 30th – Financial Basics – the FEW Numbers Every Small Biz Owner Should Track, @ellenrohr

Ellen Rohr is the president of Zoom Drain and Sewer, LLC.  She also helps businesses and entrepreneurs to make business un-complicated, make their own money and live life un-leashed.  Learn more at www.ellenrohr.com.

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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