Pinterest Tips for Business

Pinterest Tips for BusinessPinterest is reported to have over 70 million users and has surpassed email as one of the top sharing platforms online according to Share This.  It’s no wonder why so may businesses are riding the wave of Pinterest. With these stats, I became curious as to what made this channel so darn powerful. So, after getting past the learning curve, I went on a hunt to figure some things out. If you still don’t get what Pinterest is all about take a look at this cute and short video  (less than 2 minutes) to gain some understanding on how it works.

For businesses, Pinterest is a great tool because you can share content by way of appealing images, graphics, pictures etc. that can ultimately increase your sales. Since many people absorb better through visuals, the growth of Pinterest is  expected to continue to stay on the rise.

So, in light of this predicted growth, I set out to research the most recent and popular articles online related to Pinterest in an effort to gain some understanding. Learning some Pinterest tips for business will improve my overall interaction level on this platform through the use of methods and tools in order to bring more visitors to my websites. Here’s what I found:

Copyblogger's Pinterest WorksDoes Pinterest convert? According to Copyblogger’s Pinterest Works article, heck yeah and they have proof to show it. Copyblogger is considered one of the pioneers of blogging so when they have something to say, I usually listen. I enjoyed this article because I was a skeptic myself on the power of Pinterest for business. Delineated in it is some social proof of how this amazing tool drives thousands of referral traffic to a couple of online publishers. It also offers a simple step-by-step process on how you can use Pinterest to drive more traffic to your website. Copplyblogger debunks the the Pinterest naysayers.

Smart Strategies for PinterestNeed more proof? Here it is. This blogger shrugged Pinterest off because she thought her “marketing” and “tech” themes weren’t visually enticing enough to use Pinterest. Therefore, she embarked on a research bend and now Pinterst is her second top referral source for social traffic. She offers 40+ strategies to drive more traffic.

Optimize your imagesHow do you optimize your images for more traffic? This is one of my favorites because Cynthia Sanchez offers a video on how to do this exactly through the use keyword rich descriptions to help your pins be found. She also offers a podcast that may be helpful.

 

Hashtags for PinterestHow are Hashtags used? Hashtags are profusely used in in many social marketing platforms. Hashtags use on Pinterest, as per this article, is used differently than on twitter. If you want to learn to use of Hashtags for Pinterest for better search results, this resource offers 7 tips.

Must follow Pinterest BoardsIf what you’ve heard is that Pinterst is mostly a social media platform for recipes, arts & crafts and shoes well, here is a list of 15 bloggers using Pinterest for their blogging efforts. From SEO to Internet Marketing and social media pinboards, take a look at how these bloggers use Pinterest. It will give you a some ideas on how to combine blogging and Pinterest in creative ways.

Tools for PinterestWant to know what the best tools are to heighten the efficiency of Pinterest for your business? Here are 9 tools shared in this article by Business 2 Community that can help you make the best of your Pinterest pinboards. From Pinterest analytics to creating an online store on Pinterest you’ll be able to find at least one item on the list that you’ll be able to put to use right away.
Tricks for Pinterest

Besides tools, learn some Pinterest tricks that all bloggers should consider – 7 to be exact. In this article, Hello Society dishes out some cool tricks that can catapult your blogging and put you on the  Pinterest map. Up until know, I have just been posting my social friendly images attached to my blog content all over social media but with this article, I learned to not only have an exclusive blogging content pinboard but also exclusive images for Pinterst. This entices people to keep coming back for more so you can continue to optimize this avenue further in your marketing. There are also examples of blog content boards that just got my creative juices flowing all over the place.

Pinterest PlacesIn November of 2013, Pinterest introduced Place Pins which as per Pinterest, combines the imgery of a travel magazine with an online map. Social Media Examiner shows you 6 ways in which you can promote your business with this new feature. It also has a tutorial on how to create a Place Board.

 

 

 

Simple Ways to Manage Content Creation

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

Today’s Q is:

What tools and methods do you use to make your content creation manageable?

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgSpreadsheets! I use spreadsheets to list out topics so I never have to think about what I’m going to write or post on social media next. I also use a formula to help me balance the types of posts I create on social media.

Advanced scheduling. When I am on a roll, I will create several posts at one time and then schedule them to post in the future. That way I can work on other things and not worry about going back and posting something every day. I do the same with social media posts with software called Postplanner.  It actually helps find popular content as well.

Listening to my clients. When someone has a question, it helps me come up with another way to show him or her the answer through content creation.

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

jessica-leeFor me, managing content creation needs to be kept as simple as possible.  I’ve tried various types of Mind Mapping software and find that this hinders my creativity and productivity.  In the last few months, I’ve gone “old school.”  I tend to get a lot of inspired ideas throughout the day, so I keep a pen and paper handy at all times to jot them down.  Sometimes, whole sentences and paragraphs for articles and/or courses will flow into my mind, so I want to be sure to capture those thoughts.

Then, each morning, I sort of feel where I’m at with creating content. I can’t force it and have to allow it to flow naturally.  For example, if I’m writing a three-part series on a topic, I may not write them in logical order. I always work on what’s flowing and most enjoyable at the moment.  Taking the path of least resistance always bears more output, and that includes managing content.

I keep a master file in Microsoft Word labeled “draft.”  I dump all of my thoughts and written notes into it.  It’s common for me to have four to six different content projects in this file.  As I work, I’ll start to see patterns of things that can be pieced together to create rich content.  I also like having a large master file because I can easily move things around within a single document.  From there, the pieces get uploaded to wherever they are going – be it an eBook or article.  Then, I polish, edit, and publish.

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100Content creation is manageable? Ha!

In all seriousness, as a solopreneur the majority of my time is spent creating content – product content and marketing content. When you stop and think about everything that needs to be done from info products to autoresponders, newsletters, social media statuses, etc… it can be really overwhelming if you don’t have a good system in place to manage both the workflow and your time.  And if your business includes creating content for your clients too, it can be even more so.

I still like to work a lot with pen and paper, so for years my main organization system consisted of a series of project folders, notebooks, yellow legal pads and a day planner.  It’s only recently that I’ve started experimenting with using more online tools to keep organized. The two main tools I’m using in conjunction with my folder system are Freemind and Google Calendar.

Freemind is a mindmapping tool that allows me to brainstorm content ideas, create outlines, and keep track of all the notes I scribble on yellow legal pads throughout the day. Every idea I have, whether for a product, blog post, or something else starts its life on the master mindmap along with an approximate deadline. Once I decide on a firm deadline, then a project folder gets started along with a notebook for that particular project.

Recently I learned about time-blocking from one of my coaches, and that’s where Google Calendar comes in. I use it to block of specific times to work on specific projects. My old paper calendar system was confusing at best, and usually left me in the position of wondering, “What do I want to work on today?” Having blocks of time set aside for particular projects means that:

a) One, gets done before moving on to the next.
b) I no longer have to wonder what to work on.

As long as I stay disciplined and don’t let myself get sidetracked, using the calendar to organize creation time leaves me much more productive. On the whole, it’s a system that works for me and balances the need for having everything in one place and easily manageable with the need to physically create with pen and paper.

Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:

cjI try to write original blog content as often as I can but it is not always time effective. There are also times I get that hideous thing called “writers block” which can stop you in your tracks.

To make content creation manageable I use these tools and/or methods:

PLR (Private Label Rights) Content. This is one of the big tools I use. The fact that I have access to content with the legwork already done for me plus, the subject matter I need or want to share is a HUGE help in creating content. Once you get the hang of using PLR content, making it your own becomes a snap.

Using a Blog Idea List. I often have great ideas for a post and the timing is not right at that moment; but, it will be of use down the road. I keep my idea notes and visit it frequently when I need ideas for upcoming posts.

Scheduling. I have found it truly helpful to write content ahead of time and schedule them out. I think many will agree you can have some fantastic days of uninhibited writing where ideas just flow from your fingertips. Getting those scheduled to go is a big help.

These tools and methods have helped me create some great content and imagine it will continue to do so!

My Insights

lyzqa.pngThe process of content creation isn’t easy. From creating optimized blog posts, to sending personalized and segmented emails, to publishing content on social media (and the list goes on), one can easily sabotage the process in the magnitude of other business related functions. That’s why it is important to learn how to refine the process in order to make the most out of your time. So, in exploring better options for myself, I figured it could be helpful for other homepreneurs who feel inundated with this tedious yet very essential aspect of an online marketing business.

As a couple of our Sparkplugging advisors described, I use spreadsheets and time blocking as well. Brainstorming topics in advance helps with getting past a wave of writer’s block and it creates a system that takes the thinking out of the equation. For example, I use two days a week (usually Mondays and Tuesdays) to focus primarily on researching topics and keywords, writing content and catching up on weekly content trends. I have a hard time shifting my focus from one task to another so this technique helps me get into a flow state, which generates speed and creativity for me.

To figure out topics, I use Blog Social Analyzer to learn about what content has been popping online.  I also tend to use outlines when writing blog posts. It breaks down the task to where I am just filling in the blanks then I edit to make it cohesive. For example, for our weekly Sparkplugging group post I try to break it down into 4 quick components:

  • A general description of the topic and why I asked the question
  • My input on what resonates with me
  • My tips on the topic
  • A summary that will hopefully entice the readers to think about their own businesses

Currently, I’m in the process of exploring the use of an editorial calendar such as CoSchedule as it can bring functionality and automation to content creation and marketing. There are many methods and tools that can prove to help with this process. The key is to find what works best for you without greatly affecting your time management and while also minimizing stress and overwhelm – something that can be challenging for many solopreneurs who run home-based businesses.

Ways to Learn Faster to Ignite your Business

Welcome to Spark Bits Weekly where I ask a panel of homeprenuers a blazing question about running and learning tools for homepreneursgrowing their businesses from home.

Today’s Q is:

What have you learned recently that has helped you in your business and what are some tips you can offer for learning something quickly?

Stephanie Watson from Barry Publishing says:

steph123stephheadshot.jpgMy business has recently grown by four new clients in a very short period of time. Normally, I obtain one new client every couple of months, but about three weeks ago I suddenly acquired four new clients over night. I’m super happy about this, but every time I start with a new client I am a little bit nervous, especially when I agree to use their project management system instead of my own. Yea, I know — as business owners we should use our own system — well, sorry it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes, if you want to grow you have to leave your comfort zone and use someone else’s system, which requires learning.

Here are my tricks and tips for learning things as fast as possible.

1) Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions

It doesn’t matter how dumb you think your question is (or even if the client thinks it’s dumb) if you have a question you should ask. This is the only way you’re going to ensure that you really do understand your client and the only way you’re really going to be able to provide the deliverables your client needs. Even if you get the answer back and suddenly the answer is obvious, it’s OK to ask questions. There truly are no dumb questions.

2) Get Plenty of Exercise

As a service provider I tend to sit down a lot. Over the years this has caused me to get what Nicole Dean refers to as “Computer Butt”.  But, lack of movement is also associated with less blood flow, which is associated with brain fog, which is associated with not being able to learn new things as fast. If you find you’re having trouble learning something new, go for a brisk 10-minute walk then come back to it. You might find that on your walk you realized the solution, or you might find that you’re better able to concentrate after exercise.

3) Eat Right

It’s very important that when you are trying to learn new things that you remember to eat right. For some people this might mean something different, for me it means eating a plant based diet. For about 18 months I’ve eaten a plant-based diet along with my husband with some amazing results, which aren’t all physical. Both of us report better mental clarity and the ability to learn faster.

4) Get Enough Sleep

That’s right, sleep is necessary for proper brain function. Yes, when you were in college or high school you had the ability to live off four hours of sleep, but you’re not that young anymore. Now you need to sleep. But everyone is different. For me, I need six hours of sleep per night. Some people need more or less. It’s up to you to determine what that need is by practicing different levels of sleep until you find out what is optimum for you.

5) Enjoy Your Life

Work is always going to be there. It’s important that you find some sort of way to enjoy both. I hate to use the word balance or even juggling. Every juggler drops the ball at least once, and every person who tries to balance will fall down. The best thing to do is schedule in your breaks with your family, and fun time with friends, as well as work times. Then rearrange as needed when it’s important to do so. That’s why working at home is so awesome. Take advantage of that awesomeness.

So, I’m in the middle of learning two new project management systems, and four new clients’ personalities and ways of doing things. I’m taking all my own advice above, because if I don’t it just won’t work out. I really want it to work out.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

BrendaFunky_me.jpgThe biggest thing I have learned in my business is to treat myself as my best customer. As a marketer, I know all the right steps to take to make sure I get found, but I often put them aside to work on someone else’s business.  Once someone brought that to my attention, life changed a bit.  I started doing things for my business FIRST as though I was my highest paying customer, and then I was able to help even more people because they could find me!

I’m a life long learner so I’m always finding something new to learn. If I need to learn something quickly, I might refer to YouTube, but I’m at a point in my business where time is money so I’d rather outsource things I don’t know how to do to someone else.

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

profile-reba100x100Recently I wanted to learn how to run a solo ad to help build my mailing list. It seemed like it should be so simple but I didn’t know the first thing about it. I started doing some research and the more I read about it the more I realized I didn’t know. So then I looked in a membership site to which I belong to see if there were any resources there. There was but again, it was incomplete. I then looked for an inexpensive paid resource, found it, and again, incomplete. All this time it wasn’t like I didn’t learn anything, in fact I learned everything I needed to know with exception of one facet of the process. It wasn’t covered anywhere.

Then, someone in a one of the Facebook groups was giving away some reports and one was about solo ads. I picked it up and again; the part of the process I was looking for was not covered.  That’s when I decided to go to the source. In the Facebook group I posted a question for the author of the report asking specifically for what I needed to know. He answered in less than an hour with everything I needed.

Learning how to run a solo ad may prove to be very beneficial to building my list, I will know soon as I just ordered an ad.

My tip for learning something quickly is, if you still have questions after reading someone’s information product, just ask them.  Most authors are teachers too, and once they realize they left out something or didn’t explain something clearly, they are more than happy to help. I do want to caution here however, don’t expect people who teach to do the work for you or teach you everything they know when you haven’t even purchased their product. They earn a living with their knowledge and experience and you need to respect that.

Helena Bowers from Your Message Amplified says:

headshot-dec-2012-100I have learned that it’s okay to ask for help and that I don’t have to do everything myself. That may seem weird since my own business depends on people asking me for help, but it has been a really hard one for me to learn when it comes to letting go of complete control over my own work.

My best tips for learning something quickly are to know your learning style, and then make use of all the amazing resources available online. You can save yourself a lot of time and frustration if you take the time to figure out how you learn best.

For example, if you know you learn best by watching a demonstration, search YouTube for how-to videos showing step-by-step what you want to learn. If you know you learn better by listening then find an audio version such as a podcast or webinar recording and listen to those.

Finally, if you really need to learn something quickly and you can’t find the resources you need, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Reach out to your social media connections or the people on your email list and tell them what you need to learn and ask for recommendations. You have a wealth of information at your fingertips; so don’t be afraid to make use of it to expand your own knowledge base.

My Insights 

lyzqa.pngWhen thinking about the learning curve required for starting and growing a business it is imperative for entrepreneurs to learn quickly. Things move fast in the entrepreneurial space and are also in constant flux with the introduction of new tools and methods of doing things. You have to be able to integrate the new information you are taking in so that you can develop new skills and have the ability to apply them successfully.

As I positioned the question for the Sparkplugging panel, I reflected on my own business growth. Of the many things I’ve learned, two things stand out for me. One, my ability to become less fixated on perfecting something (read more about it here) and focusing on establishing a minimum viable product (MVP). The point is to get something rolling and then fine tune as you progress.

Second and most recently, I’ve learned to develop the skill of quick reading. A skill that does me good because I absorb information best when I read and write – a point about learning styles reflected by one of our Sparkplugging advisors.

Consider these two tips for entrepreneurial learning through speed-reading:

  • Use a finger (pen, pencil) as a pacer to run through the text as you are reading each line. It is proven to increase focus and speed. Plus, don’t read aloud when you are reading to yourself. Your brain has the ability to work faster than the rate of your speech.
  • Get clear about your objective for learning something. When you decide to read lets say a book, ask yourself what it is you want to get out of it before you go through the material. Your brain modulates what it takes in through the Reticular Activating System (RAC) and filters out what you don’t need so that it can focus on finding the answer you are looking for. This also helps you speed things up so that you can take in more in less time.

I tend to make sense of things through science and psychology so you’ll notice the influence of those in my writing. I  agree exponentially on taking care of yourself through diet, sleep and exercise as described by one of our advisors. Perhaps it’s because I’m a nurse and a therapist who happens to be passionate about business. These tend to be “soft” subjects in the world of business but I firmly believe in dissecting those topics because success is a combination of all parts of you (external and internal) working together.

It is important to not only optimize your business but also the person behind it. Therefore, developing the skill to learn quickly falls in that category and it will ultimately result in bigger wins for your business.

Waiting for Perfection: How It Can Crush Your Business Dream

Slide1I was in 4th grade when I learned that B+ in my report card was not good enough. The feeling of shame was incongruent with the honor roll certificate given to me by my teacher as she smiled and offered praise with a “Good job!” Yet, that wasn’t enough in my home and from that point on, I made it my business to accumulate as many A’s as I could all the way through Graduate School. I accomplished many things I admit but it cost me a whole lot more than I had anticipated.

Perfectionism is often seen as a source of honor but I learned that it actually isn’t the secret element in achieving success in business. In fact, it can hurt it. How? The reasons are many but in business, it severely taps into your productivity by producing paralyzing effects that can keep you from taking action and achieving your business goals.

The real price of perfection

Some of my perfectionistic ways were learned in my younger years. However, I came to the realization that the pursuit of perfection was actually a liability for my business endeavors. To bring light to this point, I’ll share a mini list of my losses:

  • Failure to launch 4 businesses that were in the works in the last 10 years because “I wasn’t ready.”
  • Missed opportunity to work with a former FUBU publicist in the early 2000’s because I didn’t feel prepared enough to email her back.
  • Failure to publish 30 articles I’d written because after I reviewed them, they didn’t offer enough quality by my standards (Thankfully I learned about repurposing content).
Getting past it

Perfectionism can become maladaptive.  You can easily begin to rely on it so profusely that it debilitates your confidence. As you become busier, you can start to doubt your capabilities in fulfilling tasks. The tasks become to-dos and eventually large piles become insurmountable baggage that just lingers around weighing on you. Your brain becomes overwhelmed and your inability to quench it down creates feelings of lack that can result in guilt, shame and personal failure. Your business becomes stagnant or completely folds.

It’s hard to take a step back and deconstruct this act. It becomes so fixed that the actual execution of revisiting, revising and redoing  becomes a gratifying activity because it is addicting in nature. But somewhere along the line there has to be a point where something is good enough and not overdone.

How do you manage this time sucking beast?

First, expect the unexpected and be flexible with outcomes.

When working out a course of action, understand that a plan is just a framework to assist you. Don’t entertain any black and white thinking. Be adaptable.  In business, nothing is predictable so let it go and move on. You’ll need your sanity and energy to keep growing your business; therefore, learn to cut the toxic chatter in your head. Course correct while you’re moving. As you take action, you’ll begin to take the control back.

Secondly, think about what motivates you and break it down.

Ascertaining a goal is usually easy. Actually achieving it is a different story. If perfectionism knocks on your door, so will procrastination. When you are a constant worrier and over thinker, it is quite difficult to establish an environment for yourself that is conducive for getting the job done. Map out a picture of the big goal then concentrate on small steps individually.

Mastering small steps will allow you to immerse yourself, which will heighten your concentration and pleasure and create a more favorable setting for continuous accomplishments. The important thing is that you set attainable and measurable goals.

Lastly, eliminate multitasking to increase focus.

In business, multitasking has become almost synonymous with productivity. The problem is that it can become rampant taking you to a place of chronic misuse of your time. Your brain is not able to handle all the demands you put on it when you multitask because it cannot switch efficiently between tasks. It actually slows you down and changes the way your brain works. Figure out what your highest priorities are, chunk your tasks and align accordingly. For example, if you set out to complete 4 tasks in one day, set a specific time period for each task and move on. Program your brain to think that you have a deadline to meet during  each time period. This will allow you to focus on getting things done rather than perfection.

Stop being a hounding self-critic

Perfectionism is not objective. Your definition is likely to be different than mine but all of it stems from an attempt to avoid some sort of discomfort. However, a dose of perfection is not all bad. It can kick your buns into high gear. It does become a problem when it’s chronic. Start by loosening up your unrealistic standards. Otherwise, you’re be mounting the fast lane towards dysfunctional coping. Your business will suffer and you’ll find yourself paying the high price of overtime with no return on your investment.

Are you willing to reconsider that price?

 

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...]

Passion In Business Won’t Pay the Bills. Or Will It?

A few years ago, my husband and I drove out to Ocean City, Maryland for a mini vacation. I admit, I wasn’t completelymonster01 present in the moment of the experience. I felt almost guilty for immersing myself in a pleasurable activity when my thoughts were wrecked and lost with the “would haves” and “should haves” of my life. It’s as if I had unfinished business to do (literally) and I was wasting time by not attending to it “immediately.”

What would my life look like if I had stuck it through in 2002 and not sold my very modest sized business?  Would I be feeling fulfilled professionally? Would I have wanted to get up every morning oh so vibrantly and ready to take take on the day?

Have you ever experienced an intense feeling of knowing you were meant to do something else?

Something bolder. Something better. Something that screams PASSION.

Granted, I am immensely grateful and proud to have collected  degrees that have afforded me the opportunity to earn a decent living. But in that journey, I failed to realize that I had spent a decade searching to fill a void and I was looking to fill it in all the wrong places.

What the heck is blogging?

Prior to my decision to venture out into the online world, I had been following one blogger – Pat Flynn. Of course, I didn’t realize he was a “blogger” back then. I didn’t even understand how blogging worked. I’ve always been sort of a laggard when it came to technology and online trends.

But I just knew that somehow, with my limited knowledge of technology, I was going to figure out how to start a business online – one that I intensely connected with.

So when I got home from my trip, I began to fanatically search for ways to start a business that I could fall in love with. And there were a few things I learned in my old offline business that allowed me to be crystal clear about what I wanted. Here they go:

  1. I wanted to start a business from home.
  2. I was passionate about business, personal development and wellness and wanted to find a way to inspire people.
  3. I wanted to earn a full time income.
  4. I wanted to stay healthy and sane while doing it.
  5. I wanted enough time left to engage with the people who matter to me the most.

Passion vs. Customers

There is much to be said about giving your customers what they want.

However, I’m really feeling the idea of doing what you love, then finding the right customers.

I read a great article by Jonathan Fields recently. My takeaway was the notion that often times other areas of your life compensate for the dysfunction created around a business that is ultimately not a good fit for you.

In retrospect, that’s exactly what happened with my old business. In essence, I bought myself a J-O-B. My customers became my bosses and the situation was possibly the equivalent of my worse job yet.

Why? Because I was responsible for creating it.

Black or White?

There are various schools of thought in entrepreneurship. There are some who say passion won’t help you create a successful business. Yet others who beg to differ.

I go with the latter.

I believe passion will keep your engine running. It will also sustain your thinking on your feet and motivate you enough to keep you moving forward. As you progress, you will learn to find solutions to obstacles that will come, and these will enhance the skills necessary to help you reach your vision.

There will be forks on the road… [Read more...]

What’s the Best Way to Network at Business Events?

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

Today’s Q is: 

Have you attended business networking events and how have they benefited your entrepreneurial growth?

Reba Collins from PLR One Stop says:

 Reba collins in business networkingI have to admit, I have not attended any internet marketing business networking events. Not to say that I don’t want to, I just have not done it. Since I also work a full time job in addition to running my online business, I have always reserved my vacations for family and taking care of household matters.  However, from what I hear, the opportunity to connect with fellow entrepreneurs in my industry would help catapult my business, so an effect of not attending is slower growth. That will need to change soon and I have my eye open for an event I can attend in Texas. Hopefully one will surface soon.

Brenda Trott from Done4UMedia Marketing says:

Brenda in business networkingYES! I network. It has helped my business in ways you might not consider. First, like many entrepreneurs, it took me a while to hone in on my skills and my offer.  I attended just one networking event on a regular basis and sometimes it was painful because I changed what I was doing every week! But by listening to others, getting to know people and sharing some of my successes, I was able to go through a discovery process before I expanded my reach into other networking events.

Many people show up at a networking event and expect to “sell” to someone immediately but that can prove not only to be disappointing, but damaging as well. Networking is kind of like dating. Let’s show up, ask a few things, and get to know each other.  If you really want to excel at it, you should become the one person everyone must meet at a networking event.  The way to do that is to make connections for others.  What I mean is that if you meet someone new at a networking event who might sell cars, tell them they “must meet” Sally because she was in the market for a new car.

Connections made at networking events can span far greater than direct sales too. For example, if you work with small businesses, like I do, it is always great to meet an accountant because they meet small business owners every day.

I get calls all the time from people who say “Jane said we should talk” and that is a direct result of networking.

Jessica Lee from Psychic Readings Guide says:

jessica in business networking for SparkpluggingBecause I have two children and a husband who works a lot, getting out to attend business networking events has been a challenge for me.  That said, I know how critical networking with others is, and the way I’ve been able to do this has been via the internet.

I belong to several online heart-based business networks that support and uplift each other.  These groups have benefited my entrepreneurial growth in so many ways.  First and foremost, connecting with others that are in similar niches and understand my unique business challenges is wonderful.  These people really understand the emotional ups and downs of running a heart-based business.  They are so supportive and if I am having a difficult day, I know I can find the encouragement I need to keep moving forward.

The other benefit is that, when I feel doubtful or overwhelmed, I look to others who have accomplished goals that are similar to my own.  These people have become my inspiration and mentors.  When I feel doubt, all I need to do is hop over to one of my spiritual business networks, look at the wonderful work being done there and say to myself, “I can do this, too.”  At any given time, motivation is just a click away.

Stephanie Watson from Monthly Content Helpers says:

Stephanie Watson in Business NetworkingI have tried a few different times to go to local events, which for me did not pan out even though at first I thought they would. The biggest event I went to was an back in either ’98 or ’99 which actually convinced me that I knew nothing and needed to go back to school. I’m not sure that was the intent of the event. Other smaller local events mostly felt like a waste of time.

I totally believe in attending both live and online events to grow yourself as an entrepreneur and to grow your business.  But, I think in order to make them work you have to choose your events wisely. Then, it’s important to be prepared in advance by knowing what your goals are, and how you’re going to reach the goals. Then make a commitment to yourself to follow through. Just going to any event, handing out business cards, and then not following up isn’t going to work.

For local events you’ll probably have to go a few times before anyone wants to work with you, and you may also need to volunteer to help the group succeed. That’s where I fail. I’m kind of an introvert, and big groups of people make me nervous. That nervous energy exhausts me. Plus, I cannot drive and have to rely on my husband to go with me. That’s sort of why I like working from home. I can still network online, join mastermind groups, and still make a full time living without going to live networking events.

However, today it’s becoming more imperative to go to live events as well as online networking events. People really want to see people, touch people, and get to know people now. In many ways, we’ve come full circle. While it’s a little scary and uncomfortable I do believe going to networking events is useful. That’s why I’m making a commitment to attend at least one big event this year.

Samantha Angel from Advancing Steps says: 

Samantha Angel in Business NetworkingI haven’t yet attended any networking events geared towards internet marketers but I will be going to NAMS in August. I’m really excited to see many people I’ve only met online and meet up with lots of new people. Attending events like this not only offers the opportunity to interact with smart people and learn important information but also builds more excitement through new perspectives and seeing the potential of what I can create with my business.

Christa Jensen from ChristaJensen.com says:

Christa Jenson in Business NetworkingI have attended quite a few online networking events over the years and really dig the outcome of those events. While they don’t always produce sales right away they have always produced lasting contacts and eventual sales from some of those contacts. The growth I have experienced for my business with networking events makes them totally worth attending and I highly recommend them, hands down.

Joyce Reid from Creative Gifts to Go says:

Joyce Reid in Business NetworkingMy reply to this question is most likely going to be very different than most.  In my 22 years in business, I have attended many networking events.  What I have discovered is that the people who attend these events have the same purpose that you do — they want you to buy from them. They really don’t care at all about you or your business.  I never try to sell myself or my business at these events.  Instead, I try to learn about them and their business and then use this information to follow up, suggesting ways that would be a win-win situation for both of us. [Read more...]

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