How to Clarify Your Business Direction

Business DirectionAs I was combing through older content on the blog, I came across this blog post, Three Business Lessons Learned from a Robot. The analogy is funny but the tips where full of insight. It made me think about how important it is to have a sense of direction when it comes to your business.

I think it goes a little beyond steps to setting goals, especially for a small internet home business run by solopreneurs. Sometimes  fear, lack of clarity, limited support and having no sense of direction gets the better of us.

See, you and I were trained to fail in entrepreneurship because we weren’t given the tools to manage through the hardships, fight through the struggles and withstand the unpredictability that frequently comes with running a business.

When we were younger, we followed house rules and directives from our parents. In school, we were guided by lesson plans facilitated by our teachers. At a job, we were given a set of tasks based on a job description. So when it comes to taking risks in entrepreneurship, resistance sets in because we’re not given a “guide” to follow. Take a look at this inspirational yet informational video featuring Seth Godin – Failing Until You Succeed.

Overcoming Limiting Beliefs: Who’s In Charge?

Many people I’ve come across have fantasized about starting a business at one point or another. My sister, who has a business degree, has specifically admitted she is afraid of failing. My best friend has had a longtime dream of opening up a childcare center. She quit her job last December and got very close to closing a deal on a property several months ago. The deal folded and she became paralyzed by disappointment. She is she now back to working a job. Another one of my friends grew up with an entrepreneurial father. She has dreams of starting a horticulture therapeutic center but feels she is not “organized” enough to even know where to begin.

There’s nothing worse than the hopeless feeling of jumping around aimlessly and later rationalizing your “failure” to a set of circumstances you created a belief around. You either have an internal or external locus of control, meaning things happen because of you or to you. Your viewpoint can affect your success.

I’ve always been passionate about facing fears and making breakthroughs. I encourage my clients and patients to give themselves permission to be bold – it’s cliché but true. But if you don’t know where you are going, it’s much more difficult to stay focused and grounded.

Visualizing what you want

There’s a lot of research done about visualization. Some people swear by vision boards. I, for one, believe that it definitely helps to envision and image  and actually feeling what it’s like to get there. It creates this energy and momentum and keeps you zoned in, even when you are not consciously thinking about it. I use something similar where I place a description of my ultimate business vision on my bedroom night table that way I see it as soon as I wake up. Not in a Law of Attraction kind of way but I feel it helps to remind me while my brain cells are fresh of what I need to do to get one step closer.  Check out these tips I found on how to use visualization to achieve your goals.

Setting Intentions

Goals are very individualistic. There is a reason why you want to accomplish “that thing”. The tangible outcome is rarely what you are after. Not to get touchy-feely but normally it’s a search for a feeling (accomplished, loved, smart, sexy, free, etc.). Get to know yourself. Self-awareness can be fun. It’s almost like putting a puzzle together.

Heighten up your senses to what stands out for you during the course of a day. It helps you identify what’s important to you so you can factor those into your business journey. For me, it’s noticing children, happy couples, and people’s moods. I love to people watch and notice when a person looks sad. I take note of businesses that go out of business and speculate on the circumstances. I wonder, did the owners give up? You can almost always find something that will satisfy you and the needs of the people you serve.

A Measurable Contract With Yourself

In business, setting measurable goals can help your business direction and ultimately its success. Most people find business success using a combination of their interests, values, passions and skills. Write down the actions you will take and what behaviors will you change in order to get there. Make your it specific enough where you can see progress and allow you the opportunity to praise yourself for small wins that will eventually turn into larger ones. Writing it down also makes things more concrete and establishes a contract with yourself. You’ll keep growing, refining and expanding as you move along.

The Power of Masterminding

This point was brought up in Lynette Chandler’s post. She says, “Now to figure out, what or who can be the GPS for your business? I think the answer is fairly obvious. It is a good business coach or a group of like minded people like a mastermind group made up of people you can trust.” Think about the power of gaining the insights of an expert or group of experts brainstorming and networking together and gaining perspective at a much quicker pace. Plus, it’ll help you stay accountable. Here are a few I belong to Blogging Concentrated, Solo Masterminds, Lynn Terry’s Private Brainstorming Group, MyNams (some of these have free and paid memberships).

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When (and how) to Hire Virtual Staff Or Services

Should I Hire a VA?Yet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homepreneurs a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

Have you hired any virtual experts or assistants to help you run your business? What should a person consider when hiring help?

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

steph123stephheadshot.jpgTwo years ago I grew faster than I could keep up with and attempted to outsource work. But I found that the people I outsourced to 99 percent of the time were late, or could not be counted on. Plus, I had issues with clients paying me on time. Unfortunately, since I live a credit free life, this meant my contractors were paid late too. Due to this, I stepped back and looked at my business and decided that I would do all the writing myself and not try to grow so big. I fired everyone. Writers, VAs and clients.

I needed a steady income, and not a big business. So, I eliminated half my client base by resigning anyone who had topics I could not write on my own, or involved VA work that I did not want to do. I eliminated anyone who had unreasonable expectations of my time, or sucked up a lot unpaid time from me with phone calls they did not want to be billed for, and/or clients who did not pay me on time regularly. I was relentless. I kept only clients whom I love, who loved me, and who respected my time and paid me on time.

What should a person consider when hiring help?

Fast-forward to today. I have built my business past the level I was when I stepped back. I still do 80 percent of the writing myself. I have found a great writer who happens to be my daughter, and a terrific VA who is my other wonderful daughter (I have four,  I could run an empire, if they’d all get in on it). I outsource graphics to an outside firm, and she’s great. I regularly turn down work that’s not right for me, and do not work with the wrong people anymore. Or, if I find myself with the wrong person, I end the contract sooner now. During this process, I have learned that some of the issues with outsourcing have to do with several factors and half the time it’s the person doing the outsourcing who is the problem, and I include myself in this equation.

When outsourcing ask yourself these questions

  1. Do you have a reasonable system in place?
  2. Do you know what you want the contractor to do?
  3. Are you willing to pay a reasonable rate for the work and skill level required?
  4. Do you pay on time?
  5. Do you understand the person you’re outsourcing to is not your employee, but is a business owner with other clients and a life?
  6. Do you expect last moment work, without paying extra for the privilege? (Tip: If you need last moment work you  need to hire a full time employee.)
  7. Do you have policies and procedures in place that the VA or other contractor can look to when there are issues?

The largest issues on this list are the first two. With three not far behind. If you don’t have a system in place and you are not clear on what you want the contractor to do, then they cannot do their job reasonably.

For example, my job is supplying content, but so often someone will sign a contract with me and have no idea what they want me to write. I do offer a service where I also decide what to write, but they typically do not pick that service. As a contractor, I can’t do my job if the client doesn’t know what it is that they want me to do. And, if they have no system in place, or a really difficult time sucking system, and aren’t willing to use mine, it will make it hard too.

Plus, pay on time. Your contractor might not admit it, but if you don’t pay them on time they might not be able to buy milk. I have been very guilty of also wanting to hire contractors, but have no idea what I want them to do. I have also paid contractors late, due to my clients paying me late, and it was just not a good system at all.  It’s not a good way to run a business.

It’s really not the contractor’s job to wait for you to get your money before you pay them. If you don’t pay fair rates, and you don’t have a system in place, and regular work, the contractor is naturally going to move on to greener pastures and put you on the back burner. It may not seem right or fair, but that’s how it works. People need to do the work they do in order to earn a living to take care of their family. Before contracting with anyone consider that they are a human being first, contractor second. Treat them how you wish to be treated. If you wouldn’t put up with it, don’t ask them to.

Cindy Bidar from The Educated VA says:

cindybidar-100x100As a virtual assistant myself, I’m a huge fan of bringing in experts to help your business grow. I have hired writers, graphics people and developers in the past, and I also hire and manage team members for some of my clients.

The best tips I have when it comes to hiring a virtual service provider

  • Be very clear about what you need. If you’re not sure what you need or what can be outsourced, it might be helpful to work with a consultant to make those decisions first. Then you’ll be better able to find the right virtual assistant for you.
  • Ask for referrals. Colleagues and fellow business owners are a great resource for finding top-notch service providers.
  • Start with a trial project. Don’t just jump right in for 20 hours per month and access to your entire business without a test run first. A small project will give you a good idea about whether you’ll be a good fit to work together long-term.
  • Schedule a short phone interview. For project-based work this probably isn’t so important, but if you intend to work with someone long-term, it’s very helpful to chat by phone or Skype for 15 minutes or so, just to get to know each other a little better.

Should I Hire A Virtual Assistant?

My Insights

lyzqa.pngI remember feeling way in over my head (although excited) about the task of running Sparkplugging. From managing all the blogs on the network to the learning curve and my expanding ‘to dos,’ I frequently thought about what it would be like if I could just hire a team to help me. In fact, as I am writing this I can think of 25 things I have to do or could be working on to run my business.

When I first started researching and settled on an online marketing business, I offered to pay my sister to help me iron out my content plan, proofread and promote on social media. She agreed but shortly after, was offered another opportunity from her old job that she just couldn’t pass up. I was crushed but understood. I didn’t trust any of the outsourcing sites to make an attempt to hire someone else. So, I continued to work on my launch. Then, Sparkplugging became available. I felt that because it was already up and running, it could buy me some time.

Buying time, I feel, is the essence of hiring assistance. There is only so much you can do if you plan on growing your business and if you just don’t have the necessary skills to attend to certain tasks. For me, technology is that skill I am just not good at. Therfore, I did hire someone for tech support to help me maintain my sites. The peace of mind and time I would have spent figuring things out is just priceless.

But hiring virtual staff or outsourcing contractually can also pose some challenges. Things like unreliability, less than ideal quality of work, turnover, legal aspects (depending on where you live) and beyond – You might find yourself treating more headaches than getting real work done. It’s no wonder why the Sparkplugging panel offered some solid and concrete tips for hiring a virtual service. Planning carefully can ease the process although it’ll still take some fine tuning when you are just starting out.

When you think of the grand scheme business tasks needed to keep your business running and your sanity intact, it’s well worth looking into. I think circumstances and priorities are different for you and me. But, I also think sometimes it’s just a matter of knowing you can ‘move the needle’ if you could focus more time on the things you’re good at and love to do so that you can actually have a home-based business you enjoy running.

Related Reads:
Weighing the Pros and Cons of Outsourcing
Ten Tips for Hiring a Virtual Assistant

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When Do You Know It’s Time To Hire A Coach?

Do you need a business coach?Yet another Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homepreneurs a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

Have you worked with a coach? If so, how did you choose the right one for your business? If not, have you considered coaching and why?

Cindy Bidar from The Educated VA says: 

business coachingI have worked with a coach on two occasions. Both times with the same coach, who is a personal friend and long-time mentor. I chose her because I like and trust her, but I did have some requirements as well:

  1. Our personalities and beliefs had to match.
  2. I wanted a coach who ran a similar business or who reached a similar audience.
  3. I wanted someone who would hold me accountable, not just let me slide when I didn’t do the work.

I got all three in my choice. My coach is very practical and down-to-earth, which is a perfect fit for my personality. She’s not one to make airy-fairy suggestions about “manifesting success” or tell me how wonderful I am when I’m clearly not. I have friends for that kind of unconditional support, so I wanted a coach who would push me to be better, not allow me to be satisfied where I am.

But, what is more important than that is the fact that she is intimately familiar with my market. While you can say that businesses is business, and marketing is all the same regardless, I feel it’s still critical for a coach to be truly connected with the audience you’re trying to reach.

I feel that every business owner can benefit from a solid coaching relationship. It allows you to see possibilities you may not have considered, explore new paths to success, and stop operating in a vacuum. I think as long as I have a business, I’ll continue to work with a coach in some capacity.

Samantha Pointer-Foxx from Get It Together

business coachingI currently work with a coach for my business. She is a women’s wellness coach so she also helps me with getting healthy. We have been working together for 2 months now and it has really helped me reach new heights in my business. I had on my goal list for about 2 years to hire a business coach. How I choose this particular coach was she was part of a Facebook group that I am in and I watched for over a year how she talked to others online and what types of things she shared. I took her up on a complimentary call and we just clicked. I liked that she started the call and ended the call with prayer, which was truly important to me. I think any person wanting to take their business to the next level should consider getting a coach. Whoever you pick should line up with your values and goals. It should not be a codependent relationship. They should bring out the brilliance that has been locked away inside of you the whole time.

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

business coachingBack in 1999, I used a coach to help me decide whether I should go back to college or not. She helped me figure out what I really wanted by asking the right questions. She was awesome. Since then, I have not used a personal coach. However, I am involved in Solo Masterminds, which offers a lot of group coaching and coach-like interaction with people ready to kick my butt when I need it.

I haven’t hired a coach since 1999. I finished college, earning my Masters in 2011 and sent my youngest off to college in 2012.  I was super focused on that goal for quite a number of years. In the meantime, I built my business, raised children and just moved on with life. At this point I don’t feel like I need a coach, as I am moving forward with my business in a manner in which I am satisfied. I’m busting through fear inducing boundaries, and staying laser focused on my niche,

I believe coaching is very helpful in helping people solve specific problems so that they can reach their goals. I will more than likely hire a coach again at some point in time, I just haven’t identified who that might be or what issues I need to work on. Coaches can help you take your business to the next level if you’re willing to follow through on your agreements. I’m very thankful to the coach who helped me make a life changing and altering choice about college. I will definitely do it again.

Tishia Lee from Tishia Saves Time says:

Business CoachingMy answer to this question is more than likely going to be a lot different than how others answer it because my coaching experience probably isn’t one of the ‘norm’. So, to answer the question – yes, I have worked with a coach – and still do – but it’s not on a regular basis even though I know it should be and I should hire her to coach me full time…I just haven’t done it.

Choosing the right coach for me didn’t take a lot of consideration or effort on my part to find one. You see, my coach is someone who was already “coaching” me years before she started working online and began doing business coaching. She’s a personal friend and has been ‘coaching’ me in life since my son was 3 or 4 (he’s now 15). In fact, she’s the reason I ever got started as a solopreneur in the first place (but that’s a story for another time).

So, over the last eight years in business, she’s been coaching me off and on. I know she’s always there to help when I’m stuck on something or when I need to brainstorm some new money making ideas. I also work with her as her Virtual Assistant. It’s just kind of a natural fit for us. And in case you’re wondering who she is – it’s Kelly McCausey from SoloSmarts.com :-)

Alicia Jay from New VA Advice says:

business coachingWhen I started my first online business, I had absolutely no money to invest in a new business. I’m not suggesting that you start out with a zero budget; I just want to be honest here. Therefore, the thought of hiring a coach was so far from the front of my mind.

But I knew that it was an important step. I also knew other people online who completely took their business to another level by working with a coach. And I knew I wanted that too. I made it a priority to put money aside each time I brought in some income with the intention of using it to reinvest in my business. It took time to build up that “extra” amount, but I knew it would be worth it.

I was finally able to work with the awesome Kelly McCausey, and working with her did more for me and my business than I had initially intended. I’d need another blog post to write all of my thoughts on this, but I’ll try to sum it up a bit.

Here are some benefits that I’ve found working with a coach:

  • Goal setting—you get clear!
  • Accountability
  • They know the path
  • Will connect you to their awesome contacts
  • Help you see the forest for the trees

Let me give you some tips on how I managed things before I got to the point of one-on-one coaching:

  1. Forums and groups in your industry are a great place to start. There are some good free ones out there, and inside them, you’ll find people who are further along the path that you’re traveling. They have great knowledge of how to make it in your industry that they are fully willing to share with you.
  2. You can find a mentor. Look for someone in your industry who is exactly where you want to be with your business in the future. Some people offer free or paid mentorships, where they take you under their wing and teach you exactly what they did to get where they are today.

When you’re ready to make the move of looking for a coach, find someone whose teaching style resonates with you. What are their core values? Do they match your own? If you can’t afford their one-on-one coaching right away, do they offer a more affordable group-coaching program that you can join? There are some fabulous benefits to group coaching. You are able to gain access to that coach you really want to work with and you glean so much good information from other members in the group.

My Insights

business coachingWhen I became open to the possibility of starting an online business, I made the assumption that the only way you can really do business online was by selling a physical product. I then began to do some research on what I was going to be selling and eventually came across several blogs. At the time, I didn’t know what a blog was but I followed a few just for inspiration purposes. Then I realized some of those blogs were actually businesses and my awareness heightened to all things business in the online space.

I was clueless in the process but was very good in researching information. After one year of planning, I realized I needed some help in actually getting something launched. That’s when I decided it was time to work with a business coach.

As a professional counselor, I knew the value coaching had to offer. My understanding of coaching was that it provides you with guidance in your pursuit of personal, professional, and/or business development while primarily bypassing the clinical focus of disorders and diseases, which was the focus I was used to working in with my counseling clients. Coaching allows you to utilize your personal qualities and abilities while learning new ways of facing challenges in any particular area of interest. For me, that area was online marketing.

As I reflected on my successes in the past, including my most successful offline business startup, I knew what was missing –  structure and accountability. Not only did I need the accountability piece and a plan to follow, I also wanted someone who was not afraid to call me out if I needed it. I began my pursuit in finding a coach that can help me shine so I started following a few people online. I signed up for their newsletters, attended Webinars they produced, purchased some of their products and followed their podcasts and videos. I went with the person who I resonated with the most and it was worth the investment.

With that said, do you need a business coach? Well, I think it depends on many factors including your specific personal and business needs. I agree with all of the recommendations offered by the Sparkplugging mentors above. Two other tips I feel are relevant as they were important factors for me are:

  1. Find a coach that has expertise in a few defined areas. No one is a master at everything in business.
  2. Finding someone to motivate you is not enough if you’re looking to achieve tangible results. You should find a coach who will get you to take some action or help you make an important decision quicker so that you can take action sooner.

Related Reads:
Four Signs Your Freelance Business is Ready for a Coach

 

 

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Get Paid What You’re Worth in Your Business

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growingmo money their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

What is your strategy for pricing your offers so that you are getting paid what you’re worth in your business?

Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:

make more moneyThis is a very important topic and not one easily tackled when you go to set your prices whether it be a service or a product. Having a good strategy to get paid your worth is fundamental to the success of your business.

Everyone should, in my opinion, always follow these 3 strategic yet simple rules:

  1. Know the value of what you are offering. (What would you pay, not what you want people to pay. Choose at least 3 prices).
  2. Research. (Know what your competitors are charging and charge competitively without undercutting your value).
  3. Don’t be afraid to test prices (Start with your highest ideal price and offer discounts using other projected prices).

If you value yourself too low potential clients will not take you seriously. If you do not do your research you will not be effectively competitive. If you test your prices you could increase your sales dramatically (don’t price lower than your lowest valued price).

I have used these rules for years. The training on the value of a successful business I had to learn in the last time I worked in the corporate world stuck with me and now I apply them to what I offer!

Stephanie Watson from Monthly Content Helpers says:

make more moneySince 90 percent of the work I do is content writing, it’s not really very difficult for me to price my offerings. I price by the package or by the article and give discounts for bulk orders. The one thing I had to realize is that I am not competing to be the low cost leader.  I want to work with serious online and offline business owners who want quality content that provides value to their audience. I don’t want to work for people who only care about getting the lowest price without being concerned about quality.

Once I realized all that, it was simple to set my prices. While I have package rates, it all started with knowing how many hours I can work a week and how much I need to earn. That helped me create my goal hourly rate. Then I figured out how long it took me to research and write an average article. That helped me create my package rates. I also learned that if I have 5 or 10 articles to write on the same subject I can do all the research at once, and pass on the discount to my clients.

I receive inquires from all types of business owners seeking content, some do want to pay me less than I am worth. I have figured out my worth and I don’t accept positions that don’t pay me what I have figured out I need and deserve. That’s not to say I didn’t at first.

Sometimes you do have to stick your toes in, do a lot of low paying work in order to build up your resume and confidence. But, after getting experience and building a reputation, people start wanting to hire you for your expertise as much as the tasks that you do. Once that happens, you can command the fees that you deserve.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

make more moneyI let people know what my highest prices are and then ask for their budget. Then I build a plan for them that might offer less services but still be as valuable for them and their business. The idea is that once I get them more customers, they will be able to afford to scale it up.

My Insights

make more moneyThe topic of money is a sensitive subject for many people and can be a huge stressor for an entrepreneur who may have a predetermined expectation of having the hard work pay off big time. It is particularly pressure provoking when factoring in supporting a family or when frequently entertaining the thought of making enough to pay the bills. Money in general evokes feelings of many colors. So having all things to consider, is there a way to price your products and services so that you’re making what you are actually worth?

A huge point shared by some of the Sparkplugging advisors was the caution of undervaluing yourself. As I agree with this view I also believe pricing may be influenced a bit by your viewpoints and personal relationship with money.  The task of pricing can become quite challenging and it is a task that is of superb importance for the success of your business.

Think about when you had to slap a figure on one of your products or services. Were you ever worried about things like, “My customer won’t be able to afford the price?”  Or, “My customer won’t want to work with me if my price is too high.” Or, what about, “My competition will steal my customer?” These and similar thoughts will most likely be reflected in your pricing decisions.

So what is your worth? In addition to factoring in your internal money dialogue, here is a summary of some of the ideas presented by our Sparkplugging panel. Plus, a few other tidbits I’ve learned along the way:

  1. Have a clear picture of your priorities, personal goals and vision for your business. However, take an honest look at where you’re at right now. If you need money immediately you might have to start on a less than ideal end, work your customer through your sales funnel and scale up as you progress.
  2. Be honest with your value and provide real justification by demonstrating how your product or service will be beneficial to your customer. Don’t assume your customer is clear about the benefits of your product or service.
  3. Figure out who your customer is and what particular market you are serving. I figured this out when I was running my cleaning business several years ago and realized that our service didn’t just provide cleaning. We provided aesthetics too as it included detailing, organizing and de-cluttering living spaces in the homes of people in affluent communities. It was a service that our customers proudly paid a hefty amount for because many of them had a certain image to maintain and they had the financial means to pay for the service.
  4. If your customers are always haggling for discounts, are you working with the right people? For example, my husband, a graphic tee designer and seller, is frequently approached by high school and college kids requesting discounts or freebies. Offering discounts is tempting because it’ll bring in some money and exposure but clearly, not all markets are a good fit for what you have to offer. Choose your customers wisely and consider your positioning and messaging.
  5. Factor in your costs and what you want to earn. You’ll want to cover your expenses plus take in a profit at the end.

Although you may have to consider many other factors in your pricing depending on the type of business you’re in, when it comes to getting paid what you’re worth also take into account your wisdom, skills, and creativity. There is no one in this world that has a replica of all your personal assets and your expression of them.  Therefore, put them to use, accept your worth and gain the ability to proceed with confidence to strut your stuff.  After all, don’t you deserve it?

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Here’s How to Get Inspired When You’re Feeling Stuck as an Entrepreneur

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their businesses from home.inspiration

Today’s Q is: 

Where do you find inspiration when you feel like you’ve hit a plateau in your business?

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100When I hit a plateau in my business the first thing I try to do is get out of my own way. I know that I have the tendency to make things harder than they have to be, so the first place I look for inspiration is outside in nature. I’ll often take my camera and head to the river for a long walk and some quiet time communing with the ducks. The stillness gives me the space I need to get out of my own head and let the ideas flow. More often than not I end up coming home with a pretty good idea of what my next step should be, as well as a fresh batch of pictures to work with!

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgI’m not sure if I ever run out of ideas. The reason is because I get them from my clients. They come to me with new questions before I even know I have an answer.

 

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

jessica-leeI love this question because I think it’s so important to feel inspired when working.  When I feel like I’ve hit a plateau, I know it’s because I am over thinking things and not letting the business flow organically. That signals me to step back and take a few hours off doing something enjoyable that is unrelated to business, such as taking a ride or baking.  Usually, once I get into a relaxed state, ideas will quickly start to flow again.

Another thing I do is keep inspiration boards on Pinterest.  I pin blogs that I admire and articles that I have enjoyed reading.  When I go back and reread these pieces, I remember what I loved about them, and this often gets my creative juices flowing.

I also have several book excerpts highlighted on various Kindle books.  Sometimes, one great quote or a few paragraphs from a chapter is enough to inspire me.  For me, it’s all about not fighting the current.  Trying to force things when they’re not happening naturally is not fun.  Relaxing, taking a step back, and having inspiration boards that I can refer to works really well for me.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

profile-reba100x100I find inspiration in almost everything, every person, and everywhere I go.  I try to look for the good and ignore the bad, so I watch for the little things from which I can draw ideas. Family is big in my life and there’s always someone telling of how they found a great item or need something to make their lives easier. I try to apply those conversations to my business.

Since my business is an online business, I’m a member in a lot of Facebook groups and forums with others in my niche. I go to those places every day and never fail to learn something new. Everything new thing I learn I can apply to my business, so honestly, I’m never short on inspiration. In fact, I have so many ideas; I don’t have time to handle them all. It’s rare that I hit a plateau with such great people touching my life on a daily basis. [Read more…]

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Do Homepreneurs Need a Game Plan in Social Media?

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their business from home.socialpost.png

Today’s Q is:

In the ever-changing landscape of social media, what strategies and networks do you find are working best for growing your home-based business?

Stephanie L. Watson from Barry Publishing says:

Social Media for HomepreneursI have found that the very best social media strategy for growing my business is to use all the social media of which I am a part to share information, blog posts, articles, and products that are based on my website or blog.

In other words, everything I post on social media should “technically” go back to my website. I don’t always accomplish that, because face it; social media is a huge distraction. But, it’s the goal and the best way to use social media to promote my business.  (Where did 2 hours go?)

IMO, the entire point of social media marketing is to help me get traffic to my products and services — not get likes, followers, and friends on social media — although that is nice too. I just have to be very careful and limit my time on social media so that I am not too distracted.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

Social Media for HomepreneursSocial media is tough for me. Since I still work a fulltime job, there’s just not much time left to spend cultivating relationships on social media sites. I have a Facebook page, Twitter account, and Pinterest but I only give my time to Facebook and even then, it’s limited. Because of my time constraints, I use social media to advertise in order to build my list instead of depending on it for organic growth. Currently I only use Facebook ads and I pay close attention to how they perform. Each week I try to tweak my ad a little to get better and better conversion rates. I’m still not where I want to be with the conversion but it’s much better than it was when I first started.  Practice and testing makes perfect!

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

Social Media for HomepreneursOne of the on-going conversations I have with my clients is that if they want to be FOUND on-line, they need to BE on-line. Sometimes, though, we forget to take our own advice! That happened to me when someone noticed that I offer all of these done-4-u services to get others found on-line, but I didn’t do it for myself.

They challenged me to do it for myself for 30 days. I only lasted 15, but the results were fantastic. Here is how you can do it too:

  1. Write one blog post on your own website every day.
  2. Create one additional piece of content a day…a mini podcast, an article for an article directory, a video, or a guest blog post.
  3. Syndicate what you’ve created. I use Onlywire to syndicate my material and also selectively share content to groups I belong to on LinkedIn and other networking sites where my clients hang out.

Once you get the hang of it, it takes less than an hour to create your content and syndicate it.

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

Social Media for HomepreneursWithout a doubt, the best social network for me has been Facebook.  Not only am I able to bring traffic to my site when I post articles to my Facebook page, I have also built some wonderful relationships with clients and other people in my niche.

I can’t necessarily say that I have a strategy other than being myself.  I make sure to take the time to read each and every comment that is left on my page and interact with the people who follow the page. The experience has been overwhelmingly positive and, even with over 6,000 followers, I feel as though it is an intimate enough setting to get to know people.  I love to post questions on my page and it’s come to the point that, when I post a question, I’ll think to myself, “I wonder what _____” will say about this.  I love it!  It’s like an extended family.

Last year, before I started getting a lot of traffic to my site, I gained many new clients through Facebook.  People got to feel that they knew me and could trust me.  It’s been a great experience and I’ve been pleasantly surprised with the depth of some of the connections I’ve made.  This year, I’ve started connecting with other “soulpreneurs” on Facebook and that is really enjoyable as well!

I set up a Twitter account last month and plan to set up Google+ next month.  To be honest though, I’m glad that I’ve spent an entire year focusing solely on Facebook because it’s given me a good, firm foundation in social networking with a fantastic tribe of people that I’ve come to really enjoy.

One thing that I would tell people is not to worry so much about your number of followers.  Focus on building relationships with people and, when others see that you are genuine, your social following will grow organically. [Read more…]

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How Do You Promote Your Home-based Business?

Introducing Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and growing their business from home.

Today’s Q is:Depositphotos_22521519_xs

 “At this stage in your home-based business, what is working for you in terms of promotion and getting more exposure for your business?”

Stephanie L. Watson from Barry Publishing says:

1) Promote to My Current Clients
The clients I already have want to be included in sales, or specials. It’s hard to be a current client and then see a better deal come along that you can’t take part in. I have an ongoing special this entire year that only current clients get. They are able to double their contracted current orders any time they want to, and they get 10 percent off. They really love this and over half of my clients take advantage of this every single month.

2) Blog Often
I still fail at this sometimes due to all the writing I do for everyone else. But, when I do it consistently, and by that I mean at least 20 blog posts a month, I always attract new clients. Always. I tell people they should be their own best client. When I take my own advice, it works.

3) Get Out of My Own Way
I tend to make excuses for myself. I’m “scared” of interviews online. I’m “scared” to see my own name in print on my own articles. I’m “scared” of being criticized. But, you know what, you have to get out of your own way if you really want to succeed  — and this is the year that I will really accomplish that.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

At this point, I’ve gotten my “biggest bang” from public speaking. Even smaller networking groups have given me a lot of credibility. There is something magical about being in front of a group teaching them something. You are automatically the expert and everyone wants to work with you. It was much easier to get in as a speaker once they knew about the book I’d written.

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says: 

I’ve really been focusing on building a solid foundation.  So for me, driving traffic to my website and interacting on my Facebook page have been key.  I find that the more people get a chance to connect with me, the more they get a sense of who I am. This gives them the trust they need to take that next step and reach out to me. This year, I also plan to reach out and try some guest blogging.

Courtney Chowning from CourtneyChowning.com says:

What works best for me is to consistently email my list!  I have a pretty responsive list and with almost every email send I get a great click through rate and personal response.  I do some social media promotions as well but they don’t come close to what I get by sending out an email once a week.

Tracy Roberts from Moms In A Blog says: 

Guest posting & cross promotion has been working well for me and my clients. I’ve been reaching out to other bloggers and community leaders with creative ideas for cross promotions.

For example, we’ve started sharing “Sites of Note” where we curate a post or two from a site we admire and then feature them in our weekly newsletter.  We promote it to our lists and on social media and the Sites of Note share us with their audiences too.  We get fresh content and new connections.  Our Sites of Note gets exposure and the followers of both sites get to learn about new people, places and things. Win/Win/Win.

Karin Magar, an Independent Presenter from Younique Products says:

In relation to direct sales, I would say that Facebook is playing a huge role in getting more exposure for my business.  I am utilizing Facebook’s “group” settings to create online virtual parties for my direct sales business.  By having a Facebook friend as a hostess for the virtual party, they can invite their “friends” to the party, which creates a much broader reach for new customers in my target market.  I do have to post frequently to keep the party going.  But, posting on Facebook has never been more fun!

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

My business is brand new and really just opened its virtual doors on January 1st. So far the thing that has brought the most exposure to PLR One Stop is forum posting. And that’s not so much having my web address in my signature; it was more the announcement about what I’m doing and what I’m about.

Second place would be Facebook ads, however, this month I have two interviews scheduled and I think that will be the biggest draw yet. Next on my list is guest blogging but since I’m also holding down a demanding full time job, having the time to get everything done is hard. So I’m just doing the most I can with the time I have.

Joyce Reid from Gift Retailers Connection says:

I operate several businesses so answers would be different for each one.  For my ecommerce gift site, I only use organic SEO and a niche specific directory that sends people looking for gifts to local businesses.  It’s old enough and ranked well enough that that approach is effective.  But for my site for gift and gift basket business owners, I rely more on email.  I send out a once-a-month newsletter as well as weekly updates to remind people to visit the free forum.  The forum itself was established to promote the digital magazine, which is available, only by a paid subscription.

Samantha Angel from Advancing Steps says: 

The thing that works best for me is building relationships with other people in home based businesses. Over the course of building these relationships I have been provided with a lot of word of mouth referrals, which to me is the highest compliment. [Read more…]

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