Archives for June 2014

Confident Entrepreneurial Persistence

Whether you’ve been in business for two days or for ten years there’s one common denominator, being an entrepreneur is hard work. It requires patience, perseverance, and persistence. Let’s face it, sometimes the desire to persevere can wane. You might lose your momentum and your business mojo from time to time. That’s to be expected and it’s the time when you take stock of what you’ve accomplished and where you want to go. However, you can reduce these times and have more entrepreneurial persistence by embracing the following tips and steps.

#1 Why Do You Want It?

It’s much easier to be persistent and to put one foot in front of the other, despite failures, if you know why you want it? What is your goal and what’s the motivation behind the goal? If you’re unsure then step back and spend time figuring it out. This is important. If you don’t know your why then the how, what, and when are much more difficult to follow through on. Vision boards are often recommend for new entrepreneurs. This may be a super approach for you. And if you’ve worn the entrepreneur hat for a few years consider reinventing your vision board, chances are a few things have changed in the past few years.

#2 It’s a Chipper

Generally, success doesn’t happen overnight. It takes years of work and more baby steps than you can count. Accept that. Embrace it. It’s much easier to take many small steps toward a goal than to try to achieve a handful of monumental steps. In the fitness industry any workout that requires many different movements over a long period of time is called a chipper. It means that you just have to chip away at the workout. The same is true for your business and business goals.

#3 Support Matters

Create processes and systems that support you to succeed and identify people who can support you as well. By building a team of people who are behind you whether you succeed or fail you’ll be able to hang onto a positive mindset. Attitude is essential for perseverance. Additionally, when your systems support you to succeed every step you take along the way is much easier to manage.

Perseverance is the ability to stick with it, to follow through, and to remain steadfast even during times of struggle. It’s an entrepreneurial requirement. Understand your motivation and your reasons for your business actions and decisions. Accept that the process may be difficult. Finally, build in support systems and positive people who are there to help you along the way.

Generate Cash Flow with Big Ideas

Generating cash flow is a #1 concern for business owners.  Doing so means coming up with and following through with big ideas.  Unfortunately, it is too common for people to come up with big ideas then fail to follow through with them.

There’s no simple fix to this issue because there are many reasons why you might drop an idea, even a good one.  You might be:

* too busy

* unsure how to  make it happen

* dealing with an idea that’s too

* having an idea that’s too abstract and unclear

* busy with too many other priorities

* forgetting to create deadlines or a sense of urgency

* working without needed support

* facing too many obstacles

* afraid or doubt your ability to see it through

Do you find one of your reasons in any of the categories above?  It may not be exactly as presented but you get the idea. The important thing is to first identify the reason (or excuse) you use to not follow through with a potentially good cash generating idea. Only then can you work on turning things around to make your idea or dream a reality.

Set a Goal

What most of the reasons have in common is that there is no goal for any of them. To generate cash, set a clear, feasible goal.  For example, when an idea is too big it means you haven’t turned it into a workable cash generating goal. If your big idea is to make money from your book that isn’t a tangible goal. However, if you decide to earn $1000 from book sales by June 30th, that is a goal. You break this goal into smaller more manageable steps.

Scrutinize your big idea to determine exactly what it can do to make it into something that generates attention and cash.  Figure out what you need to make the results happen.  Could it be more help those skilled in areas where you’re not so strong?  Do you need to break it down into steps?  Do you need to offload other tasks so that you can make your idea a priority?  Do you need a renewed commitment to reach the goal?

Make it Happen

Following through on your big ideas in order to generate cash mean making daily action a habit. Once you’ve scrutinized and assessed your idea and discovered how to make it more manageable, you can then create an action plan. Decide how much you want to earn from the idea.  Then decide what you need to do every day to achieve your goal.  Small steps lead to big results. Your daily action doesn’t need to be huge, it just needs to happen.   Keep records on how much you earn each day and altogether to see if the big idea is worth repeating or continuing as a part of your business.

Market Your Business with Interesting and Valuable Content

Marketing your business on the Internet is becoming more competitive than ever. That means you need to be sure your content strategy has clear and specific goals.  It’s necessary to drive traffic, build awareness, boost authority and more. In order to accomplish any of those goals your content needs to be value driven and fresh. However, it can be difficult to consistently create valuable and interesting content ideas.

Embrace Boldness

It doesn’t require that you become a controversial person or brand to embrace the power of being bold in how you present you and your beginning.  Identify controversial and timely news topics and help provide insight and information with bold content of interest to your readers.  Actually many marketers avoid controversial topics. By embracing these topics head on, you position yourself as someone that’s unafraid to face controversy, but also as a business that’s on the cutting edge and confident in your voice. You’ll also spark many discussions and gain much more attention for your content than your competition.

Bring Out the Skeletons

Every industry has a few skeletons in the closet. We’re talking about the questions no one asks and the secrets that everyone knows but no one talks about. Instead of avoiding these topics, take them on. You’ll open up an abundance of opportunities to create compelling content. You’ll also help many people work through problems with such issues.  Generally, when there are forbidden topics there are many people who need help. Keep in mind that you don’t have to tackle these topics head on, you can take a humorous angle or share a personal story to give them a unique appeal.

Make it Simple

When dealing with bold ideas and topics you don’t want to get too complicated.  Instead, make your content as simple and understandable as possible.  Blog posts can be short and too the point.  Published articles only need about 300 words.  Outline content to make it simple and clear. Instead of giving five tips in one article, write five articles of one tip each.  Enhance each tip to create an entire article. As you’re seeking interesting and valuable content ideas, use your own content outlines and topic research as the foundation. This will let you produce more content and each piece will provide the value and interest your audience seeks.

The next time you sit down to brainstorm, research, and plan your content keep these tips in mind. Research the current controversial topics for your niche. Take a look at the questions people just don’t answer or don’t want to talk about. Finally, remember that each topic idea that you imagine, usually has the potential to provide several different pieces of content. Break it down to the simplest level.

Make Your Slide Shows Exciting

Slide shows are an increasingly popular means of sharing valuable content throughout the Internet.  It’s being predicted that Slideshare.net may be one of the fastest growing sharing sites in 2014.   Being able to create exciting and effective slide shows is a necessity for serious, confident business women.

By viewing slide shows today and in the past you know some are better and more interesting than others.  Knowing how to ensure yours are more interesting than your competitions is something worth learning.

Create a Plan

Before you sit down with PowerPoint or your slide show software  plan what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it. Determine the goal of your slide show  Decide what information you will provide and why this information is important.  What value does it offer and why will the listening audience care? Before recording, answer these questions on paper first.

Use Good Visuals

Visuals make a big difference in creating an appealing slide show.  Many slide shows lack visual appeal.  They’re simply one slide after the next with a series of plain sentences.  In general, create more exciting slide content word by keeping your word count around 50-60 words, and no more.  The goal is to have people be able to read and understand your text quickly.  A smaller level of word count leaves room for visual interest.

Additional visuals can include photographs, charts, formatting, and even embedded short videos.  Make how you will add visual interest and additions a part of the plan for your slide show.  Keep in mind that any graphics or formatting need to support the goal if the slide show, not distract from it.

Arch Your Content.

When you read an article or blog post it has an introduction which is usually a paragraph or two. It then moves into the body of the content. The goal of the body is to provide the bulk of the information and the major value of the piece.  You then pull it all together into a conclusion which may also be one or two paragraphs.  Use this same arch format in your slideshow.  Have an introduction that piques interest and promises value.  Move into the body of your content and then wrap it all up with a few conclusion slides. This makes the presentation logical to the readers.

Put in a Call to Action.

Be sure to include a call to action at the end of each slide show. Let people know what they can do next to get more information and extend their relationship with you and your company.  Lead them back to your website where they can get more information and sign up for your email.

Use Embedded Links.

In addition to your call to action which should include a link to your site or to a sales page, consider embedding links throughout your slide show. For example, if you reference a blog post on your site then you could link to that blog post. Make sure it opens in a new window so your visitors can continue enjoying the slide show.

Slide shows are a fun and interesting way to provide content in a new format and reach the target audience.  Slide shows are easy to create and with a little planning and preparation you can create an exciting slide show that achieves your goal  of growing your business.

The “Likeability” Factor

I used to teach business ethics.  One important concept my students learned was that of “likeability.”  It deals with human nature.  Likeability deals with the fact that when you like someone, no matter what they do, there’s a high probability that you agree with whatever that person does.  However, when you dislike a person, you tend to dislike anything that person does, right or wrong.

This concept plays out in business too.  People buy from people and companies they like. Think about the last time you made a purchase. Chances are, one of the reasons you made the purchase is because you liked the retailer or service provider.  That likeability related to making you trust them and probably consider them to be knowledgeable as well.

It doesn’t matter if you’re buying business services or a piece of jewelery, the likeability factor matters. As an online business owner the majority of your likeability needs to be communicated through your online interactions, which includes your content. In fact, your content and your marketing copy are the biggest likeability building assets you have.

Increasing you likeability is just a fact of doing business.  Here are some ideas to help increase your likeability.

Be Polite

It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? You’re a nice person so being polite is easy. However, it’s also easy to be misunderstood online. Written conversations can be difficult and more often now, video and audio conversations can be misconstrued. One online discussion or conversation can be taken the wrong way, making you appear to be unkind even when you didn’t intend your words to be received that way. It’s essential to be careful at all times with what you say online but also how you say it. If you’re unsure of whether or not you should say something, the answer is probably not. Being nice online also means being grateful, saying please and thank you, and by recognizing those who interact with you. Even if you disagree with what someone has to say on your blog for example, it’s important to recognize their feedback and to respond with kindness.

Be Who You Are

Be likeable just as you are. There’s no need to create a persona or to be someone you’re not to please the online public. When you’re authentic, it’s much easier to connect with your audience and to communicate your personality. That means talking to people though your content and online interactions the way you would in person.

Connect with Your Face

As human beings we connect with faces. You don’t have to think of yourself as a beauty queen. Fact is,  people like to connect with real people.  When you share yourself people feel you’re a real person, not just an anonymous business owner.  During the early years of the Internet, it was discouraged to share picture. The ability to be anonymous was an asset of doing online business.  Today, that’s changed.  People  are sharing pictures and its expected that you show who you are online.  This can be difficult for some people.  It took me a long time to break through this barrier.  But creating likeability requires being real to others.  Share your photo on your website, social media pages and in the byline or footer of your articles.  May also share a photo in email messages and any other communications with prospects and customers; and don’t forget to smile.

There are other steps you can take to build likeability as well. Share experiences online, engage in or initiate conversations, and remember that the majority of online marketing is about building relationships.

Make SEO Your Friend

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is an ever evolving field.  SEO is a way to write content that let’s it get noticed by the search engines.  But as search engines adapt their algorithms to provide more value to their users, website writers have to adapt their tactics as well.

It’s become so complicated and difficult to keep up that many business owners skip using SEO altogether. They instead focus on creating a steady stream of content. While this is good and very necessary to develop a steady flow of quality content, using SEO will always help boost your online ranking.

Here are some tips to help you get better rankings and use SEO techniques better.

Use Images in Your Posts and Article Content

We’re a visually driven species that is attracted to content that contains visual interest. You may want to split test the results of a blog post with and without an image. Chances are you’ll find that the post that contains an image or two is more often shared with others. Your analytics may also demonstrate that people click through to articles with images more often and that they spend more time on your site.

Additionally, you can tag your images and add metadata which can boost your SEO as well. So in addition to more people linking to your content and sharing it with others you’ll also be able to embrace tagging.

Add Social Media Buttons

Search engines integrate social media content into their results.  They also look to social media for clues about the quality and relevance of content. By adding share and like buttons to each and every post or published piece of content, you increase your options. Visitors can then like or share your content which increases your search engine optimization. It also boosts exposure and helps you reach a wider audience.

Use Long Tail Keywords

Most people no longer just use short keyword phrases during their searches, but are using more long-tailed keywords.  For example instead of searching for “confidence habits,” people are using long phrases like “how to be a more confident successful entrepreneur.” By tapping into these long tail SEO keyword phrases you’ll face less competition and a higher page ranking. In fact, don’t be surprised to find your page at the top of the rankings for your long tail focused content.

So don’t believe it when you hear SEO is dead. Instead, it’s evolving to use a larger variety of keywords.  You make need a bit more patience and a strategy that embraces this new format.  It will be worth it as you focus on consistently producing relevant and valuable content for your audience. And remember to optimize for social media, add images, and research long tail phrases.

Create Content That Win Clients

Boring content will not attract clients.  Believe me, I read loads of blogs and write loads of content for the web.  When it gets to the point where you’re not excited about your content, be assured that your readers feel the same way.  Fresh exciting content that provides a benefit to readers is needed to keep readers coming back to your website.

First of all, provide real, useful information.  Learn to use keywords and keyword phrases that attract readers.  Look for new ways to format your content to hold interest.  Just like a news writer, cover the important aspects of the five W’s and one H.  these include Who,  What, Where. When. Why and How.

By applying these five “W’s”  and 1 “H” to each keyword and phrase you can brainstorm content from a fresh perspective.  For example, if your keyword is “stevia,” you might consider who invented stevia into its various formats, what was the first time stevia was used, where is stevia from originally, when is the best time to use stevia, and why people should, or shouldn’t use stevia in their diet.  When you think of it this way, you can see how this would help you create an abundance of different approaches to a seemingly boring topic.

Use a Question and Answer Format

Check out some of good question and answer sites to get ideas on how to use this format.  One of these is Yahoo answers.  This site that allows people to post a wide variety of questions that are answered by experts or people who just want to be helpful.  Use this type of site to brainstorm interesting content topics. For example, someone might ask:

“How many different uses there are for agave nectar instead of stevia?”  (Could it be I’m writing while hungry?)

“Is agave nectar better for blood sugar than honey?”

“What’s the difference between stevia and agave nectar?”

These are the type of questions you might find on the site. You might also look to social media to explore the many questions people have on your keywords or niche topic.

How to Brainstorm By Yourself

It’s rather amusing that I’ve brought up the idea of brainstorming.  That’s because I always use the saying “It’s hard to brainstorm alone.” ‘There are actually a myriad of brainstorming techniques that creative writers often use to help get new ideas when working alone.  You might use a random word generation tool or visual cues to help you think outside of the box. For example, you might open a magazine, see what’s on the page and use that as a part of your article. You open it and there’s a pair of sunglasses which leads to the following “what do sunglasses and stevia have in common?”

Hopefully you got a few ideas of how to approach content topic from a new perspective.  Use questions, brainstorming techniques and the five W’s and one  H to help you think more creatively and write more interesting content.

 

Business Plan: Essential Tool for Confident Success

The first tool any business person needs to create a confident, successful business is a  plan for their success.

In business, this is called your business plan.  A business plan serves as a guide to the direction you want to go in your business.  It lets you think through your goals as well as how you will operate the business on a daily basis.  The plan lets you develop a business that will be sustainable over the long run.

The advantage of your plan will be that

  • You will see where you want to go in your business
  • You’ll clearly identify your target market
  • You’ll know what products and services to develop for the business.
  • You’ll understand the scope of your work based on your abilities, direction and concept
  • You’ll get your legal things set up to protect you and your business.
  • You’ll have a way to see what you’re spending and account for your expenses.
  • You’ll plan how to make money and have ways to account for your income.
  • You won’t be afraid about stepping out in business because it won’t be a vast unknown space anymore.

To get support in developing an effective plan for your business, get regular coaching through the Confidence Cafe.  Get you basic business plan outline then more support for completing it.

Even if you decide to go it alone, just do it.

You can work through these sections on your own or look for some assistance to guide you through the process.   If you want help with your plan, let me know; I’d love to get your through the process as quick and easy as possible.

Steps to Sustainable Cash Flow

Over the years, I’ve found eight basic steps to generating a sustainable flow of cash in your business.  Some of these include

1. Determine what you will do to make money

3. Develop business systems

5. Establish price structures

7. Convert visitors into buyers

These are not all, but you get the point. Knowing the sgteps will increase your business confidence and aim you towards success. The question I can hear you asking now is, what are the others and how do I so these steps?

You can learn some steps by reading the information in these posts.

You can get a business coach. Successful people have a coach.  Decide to be successful by getting the help you need.

Join the Confidence Cafe.  Get monthly coaching to stay on track and get your questions answered.

5 Top Reasons Many Businesses Fail

These are some of the top reasons why entrepreneurial ventures fail on a regular basis.

1. Lack of research. To succeed you need to have an interested market of buyers. Make sure there’s a market for your business before you launch by researching both demand and supply for your product or services. Who is providing the same products or service? What problem are you solving for people? Who are your prospects?

The research phase of launching a business is one of the most critical. Without proper research you’re not going to be able to position your business successfully. Very few businesses succeed without solid initial research.

2. Lack of Market Knowledge. This is a different level of research. Before you launch your business, know exactly who you’re marketing to in order to position your product or service to meet their needs. If you don’t understand the needs of your target market, you can’t make sales.

3. Don’t Understand Cash Flow. Cash flow is essential to survival. Entrepreneurs must create a budget and be realistic about how much they expect to earn. It’s also necessary to keep a tight rein on expenses. In order to pay the bills and earn profit, cash needs to come in on a regular basis. Cash flow is essential to survival.

4. Lack of Marketing Skills. You don’t have to be a marketing genius but you need a solid marketing plan for your business to thrive. In business, the old “if you build it they will come” mentality just doesn’t work. If you don’t like to do marketing or don’t understand it, then hire someone to do this for you.

5. Lack of Planning. Many people believe that a business plan is only necessary if you want to go after funding but this is not true. In order to achieve your goals, it’s important to plan how you’re going to succeed. Your business plan is your road map to success. Don’t skip this important step.