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// by Rieva Lesonsky / Sep. 29, 2015 0 comments
Startup

There’s good news about entrepreneurship in the United States: It's on the rise. According to the just released 2014 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) from Babson College, 14 percent of Americans were involved in starting or running a new business last year. That's the highest rate of entrepreneurship the Monitor has recorded since 1999—the height of the dotcom boom.

Americans seem to have recovered from their recession-driven fears that caused the rate of new business startups to take a nosedive in recent years—12 percent of those surveyed plan to start a new business.

More than other countries in the global survey, Americans actually make good on their intentions to start businesses. What do U.S. startups look like?

  • They're predominantly male: 17 percent of men, but just 11 percent of women are involved in startups. Lack of confidence may be a factor here. More than 50 percent of both men and women say that they see ideas for startups all around them. However, only 46 percent of women believe they have what it takes to turn those opportunities into a business, compared to 61 percent of men.
  • They're not all lone wolves. Nearly half of startups in 2014 involved partnerships of two or more people. Companies with more than one founder have bigger growth plans than solopreneurs. Just 35 percent of one-person businesses expect to have six or more employees within the next five years, while 75 percent of companies with three or more founders expect this level of hiring.
  • They're not all spring chickens. While young startup founders may garner most of the media attention, 11 percent of Americans aged 55 to 64 own a startup. In fact, the U.S. has the highest percentage of older startup owners of any of the 29 advanced economies in the study.
  • They're ambitious: Nearly one-fourth of U.S. entrepreneurs expect to employ 20 or more people in the next five years. That's an increase from 16 percent who planned that level of hiring in 2012 and 2013.
  • They're innovative: 36 percent of U.S. entrepreneurs surveyed say they offer a new product or service to the marketplace.

Overall, U.S. entrepreneurs are more ambitious, more optimistic and more successful in starting businesses than entrepreneurs in other developed nations. But there are still some areas that could be improved.

One, of course, is the relatively low rate of entrepreneurship among women. Another is the fact that even though more than three-quarters of Americans have positive opinions of entrepreneurs, and see entrepreneurship represented in the media as a positive choice, the percentage of people who actually know an entrepreneur in real life has declined to 29 percent. That’s problematic because, as the study notes, positive real-life role models are invaluable in successfully starting and running a business.

What does this mean to you?

  • If you are an entrepreneur with a successful business, take time out of your busy days to serve as a role model for someone else. Perhaps you can work with Junior Achievement or other youth-oriented organization to help young people learn more about entrepreneurship. Perhaps you can mentor an individual or serve on the advisory board of a small business. There are many ways to share your expertise and enthusiasm.
  • If you are a startup entrepreneur or someone with dreams of launching a business, find a mentor to help you. Having a sounding board to bounce your ideas off of and a person to guide you along the way can make all the difference to the success or failure of your new business.

Looking for a mentor? You can find one at SCORE. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor and get free business advice 24/7. 

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. 
GrowBizMedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Raj Tumber / Sep. 28, 2015 0 comments
Social Collaboration

Social collaboration mimics real life team and project collaboration except that it is done on the Internet or on the company network. Yes, we all agree that there is nothing as good as face-to-face meetings, but what if the team members reside in different parts of the region or the world? How will they access tasks, documents, projects and real-time updates remotely?

This is where social collaboration comes in. It is often setup as a secure centralized workspace on the Internet, also referred to as the cloud. The secured cloud portal is accessible from anywhere as long as you have Internet access.

Here are some of the core features and advantages of social collaboration tools:

  • It has built in communication, collaboration and engagement tools that provide real-time transparency to tasks, projects and updates between team members.
  • It offers more effective modes of communication and productivity with fewer face-to-face meetings and email based discussions.
  • Create private projects limited to self and/or limited team members, or create unrestricted projects/tasks transparent to all internal network users.
  • Some networks offer options to create virtual departments with built in employee self-service features catered to new hires and existing employees or team members.
  • Most networks also offer built in external user interface to collaborate with the clients, vendors and partners without them having access to company’s internal network or content.
  • It has built in document and files repository options. Easily store documents in a private folder or make it accessible to all company employees, associates, team members or selective personnel.
  • Manage your profile and organization chart. Create a visual map of your tasks and projects. Generate reports and measure performances with built in analytics.
  • Many networks offer integration with external business tools and apps such as GoToMeeting, Google apps, Microsoft Exchange, Zendesk to manage help desk tickets, CRM (Customer Relationship Management), external documents repository tools like Dropbox and Box and many more apps.

Every social collaboration solution is different. Some offer the same features as their competitors within a different user interface. In order to understand some of these services, I highly recommend looking up cloud based service providers such as Podio, Btrix24, Mangoapps, SocialText, Liquid Planner, Wrike, Igloo and Casual.

How do you know which one of the networks or cloud enterprise is right for your business?

The four most important factors to consider in decision-making are:

1.Usability: Does it offer a user-friendly interface for you, your employees, associates and clients? Do you find it easy to learn and teach others how to use it? Is it simple to understand how it works? Use a free trial or other means of evaluation to get answers to these questions.

2.Features: Learn and compare the features of similar solutions. Then, assess your needs to understand which one of the networks or cloud enterprise fits your business needs.

3.Cost: Does it meet your budget? And more importantly, will it help you be more efficient and improve productivity?

4.Credibility: If you are a small business then it is important for you to know if they offer reliable support. Do they offer a secure interface? What are other users saying about their experience?

Like anything else, there are some learning curves in the beginning to fully understand social collaboration. What collaboration tools have worked best for your business?

Raj Tumber
Mentor
SCORE Las Vegas
Raj specializes in strategic business development and is currently authoring a book on the topic of strategic development. Other areas of expertise include technical administration, consumer electronics, investigations and analytical science.
SCORELV.org | Facebook | More from Raj                
// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Sep. 25, 2015 0 comments
Content Marketing

Eighty-eight percent of rapidly growing small and midsize businesses use social media. If you’re reading this blog post, you’re probably one of them! As we wrap up our set of infographics covering content marketing best practices (see parts one and two), it’s time to think about how you’re targeting your business’ ideal demographic through social media.

When are you most likely to get distracted at your computer? Or quickly scroll through your phone to check Twitter or Facebook while in line at the store? Did you know that people share social media content 49 percent more on weekdays?

While you might think that social media use peaks over the weekend when people have more free time, that’s not the case — many take a break over the weekend when they’re not at their desks and surrounded by electronic devices.

One report from Social Media Today found that sports content gets clicked four times more on Mondays and Tuesdays, but has the lowest click rates over the weekend — probably when everyone’s at the game. Meanwhile, food content is 10 times more likely to get clicked on Thursdays than Saturdays.

Those examples can help you think about how you connect with your clients and customers through social media. By tailoring your content to anticipated needs, you have a better chance to make a meaningful connection that gets your content shared and remembered. Take the food-content statistic. On Thursdays, people who love to cook are probably combing through their recipe bookmarks and pins, looking for a new dish to try over the weekend. On Saturday, without the pressure of the workweek, they’re not scrambling to find those recipes — instead of browsing social media, they’re already cooking!

While you’re thinking about how your customers are using social media, have you considered which tools social media channels they prefer? A quick look at the demographics for each of the major social media players can help you fine-tune where you post your social media messages.

Pinterest and Facebook have begun to cater to older crowds, with higher rates of use in the 35+ and 65+ demographics, respectively. Twitter is most popular with the 18-24 group, but is growing in older demographics as well. YouTube, Tumblr, and Snapchat have much younger audiences ranging from 18 to about 30.

Above all, remember that posting frequently is key to getting your message seen by your fans and potential customers. About half of businesses, whether B2B or B2C, post to social media accounts several times a week or even daily.

Check out the infographic for more on social media best practices. If you need help making a social media marketing plan for your business, contact a SCORE mentor

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by Kevin Foley / Sep. 24, 2015 0 comments
Skills

It’s rare to hear of a stellar athlete that hasn’t completed years of training or a chef who hasn’t gone through several versions of a recipe to get it just right. There are many examples that demonstrate how training can pay off and improve results, so why not consider it as a small business owner? 

A small business owner can have the dedication to succeed, but without training and business experience, it can be a challenge to achieve results.  As Vice President of Human Resources, Training & Development at The UPS Store, I know the importance of training and skill development for small business owners.  Business acumen and operational skills are essential skills for any small business owner to have when seeking out their next venture or sustaining their current business. At The UPS Store we want our franchisees to be as educated on the business as possible. We offer a comprehensive training program for new franchisees designed to help them develop the business acumen and day-to-day operational skills and knowledge needed to own and operate a The UPS Store location. Here are few reasons why maximizing training can help you achieve desirable results for your business.

Set goals and achieve results

My favorite piece of advice to give small business owners is to set a goal and then have a plan to achieve that goal. This is no different for training and skills development. Training establishes a foundation for small business owners to develop themselves, learn new skills and stay relevant to their niche. It provides the tools for small business owners to really understand what it is to run a business – from the internal mechanics of running a business to the front of the house customer service and management.  If you really understand the fundamentals of business, it allows you to take risks and grow your business.

Training can also lead you to really examine why you want to own a small business. In some cases, people are looking to buy a job rather than an entire business. By going through the training process, you can examine your motivation, develop your knowledge and skills step-by-step and focus on serving your customers.

Customer engagement

Customers are essential to any small business, which is why training should be centered on customer engagement.  It’s important that small business owners understand the motivation of their customers. It’s also critical that owners make training their employees a priority. Your employees are often the first touch point for the customer, so they need to fully understand your business model and goals. They also need to know how to communicate with customers. Training can provide employees with an arsenal of tools to be effective communicators and help grow your business.

Before you manage an employee, you have to find a good one. Finding the right person with the right skill set is the first step. Once you have the right people, create a positive work environment to motivate and encourage your employees. At the end of the day, if you have trained your employees with your business model and goals, you can hold them and yourself accountable.

Make connections

Training also offers a great opportunity to network within your community and make new connections. Organizations such as SCORE and the Small Business Administration (S.B.A.) can be a great way to learn about training resources. It can also allow you the opportunity to get involved in community events. Additionally, industry newsletters and magazines can keep you up to date on the latest trends and alert you to local events that might help you expand your entrepreneur network.

At the end of the day, training is one of the greatest resources to aid success. Understanding the fundamentals of running a business allows small business owners to set goals, educate their employees and better serve their customers. 

Kevin Foley
Vice President of Human Resources, Training and Development
The UPS Store

Kevin Foley joined The UPS Store, Inc. in February 2005 as Vice President of human resources, training and development. He began his UPS career in 1982 as a package car driver in New York and was quickly promoted to full-time supervisor in 1984. During his career, Foley worked as a district safety manager, employee relations manager, training and CHSP (Comprehensive Health and Safety Process) manager. Foley graduated from State University College at Buffalo with a bachelor’s of science degree in secondary education. 
The UPS Store | The UPS Store Twitter | The UPS Store Facebook

// by Rochelle Robinson / Sep. 23, 2015 0 comments
Social Media

Social media is often the most affordable marketing tool available to small businesses. Businesses have hopes of gaining tons of followers and generating new business. Unfortunately, you may not be getting your desired results because you may be making one or all of the following social media blunders.

1. Failing to Develop an Authentic Brand

People want to do business with those they know and trust. Develop a consistent brand so users can get an idea of who you are. Your mission statement may be well-crafted, but does it offer insight into who are you, the culture at your business, and why people should do business with you? Your brand voice can be described as an adjective that’s appropriate for your target audience. Will you be playful, sarcastic, or strictly professional? A playful mortician may not be appropriate. Your tone should mirror how you interact with customers – formal or casual? Developing content based on how you speak will keep your brand consistent and authentic.
 

2. Winging It Without a Social Media Plan

If you’re just getting started on social media, you need to address the Five W’s before you start posting.

  • WHO – Define your target audience. Who is seeking – and will pay for – your product or service? What are they looking for and how can you provide value to them?
  • WHAT – What do you hope people will gain from your social media content? Develop a sales funnel to encourage users to visit your website and complete a transaction.
  • WHERE – Which social media platforms are appropriate for your target audience? You don’t have to be on every platform, just the ones where your target audience may be.
  • WHEN – When are your potential customers online and when is the best time to post? When will you – or your team – find the time to post content? Unfortunately, the ease of creating a presence on social media often leads business owners to not taking into account the time and effort required to get desired results. Develop a marketing calendar to minimize the stress.
  • WHY – Define your purpose and top goals. What is your purpose in using social media? What do you hope to gain from social media? How will you measure the results of your social media efforts?

3. Not Having Enough Content

Your business social media profiles should have a purpose – gain attention, attract new customers, or answer customer questions. Social media requires having content that’s informational and easy to share. Often business owners fail to create the content that will generate more business.

Here are some ideas to help get you started.

  • Create a quick guide or e-book for people who sign up for your e-mail newsletter.
  • Create a schedule for sending out your newsletter. What content will be included in each email? Create a content outline that takes into account related holidays. What’s your call to action? What would you like a person reading your e-mail to do? Encourage users to visit your website, share the newsletter, make a purchase, or possibly register for a workshop.
  • Develop a blog with high-quality, original content that is updated on a regular basis. Make sure you make it easy for users to share on their preferred social media platforms.
  • Take pictures of your top-selling products to post on social media. Encourage people to share pictures of themselves with your product.
  • Encourage people to test out your service or product by creating demo videos or online webinars.
  • Offer free services or discounted products to users who share your content to increase visibility.

Social media is a valuable tool for small businesses and is constantly changing. By planning ahead, you can attain better results and generate more interest in your business. 

Rochelle Robinson
Business and Wealth Advisor
WealthSide Capital
Rochelle Robinson is a business & wealth advisor serving as a CEO of WealthSide Capital, a pioneer in business and financial management services and Managing Editor of WealthSide.com, a leading interactive financial empowerment community. Rochelle is focused on small business solutions, personal finance management, and achieving financial freedom through wealth creation.
www.robuildswealth.com | @robuildswealth | More from Rochelle 
// by Rieva Lesonsky / Sep. 22, 2015 0 comments
Office Space

One of the first questions you have to ask yourself when starting a business is where you're going to locate. For some business owners, the answer is obvious. For example, if you're starting a restaurant or a retail store, you're going to need a commercial location.

However, for the vast majority of new entrepreneurs, the answer is not so clear-cut. If you're starting an accounting business, a consulting firm, a graphic design company or other business that basically entails sitting in front of a computer all day, do you really need to rent office space to do that?

Fortunately for startup entrepreneurs—especially those on a budget—there are now more alternatives for locating your new business than ever before. Here's a closer look at some of your options and the factors to consider.

  • How do you work best? Personally, I work better in a stimulating environment such as a bustling office or coffee house. Since I run my business from home, I frequently need to get out of the house to focus. You may feel the opposite, like my business partner who welcomes the solitude of her home office and can’t focus in a crowded environment.
  • Who are your customers? These days, it's pretty easy to meet with prospects and customers in their own workplaces or even at Starbucks. However, if that won't work all the time or if you need to convey a more professional image than shouting over the sounds of the cappuccino maker can create, working from home may not be your best bet.
  • Will you need employees? No matter how well you know your team, having employees work at your home is definitely intrusive and generally makes everyone involved feel uncomfortable. If your business requires staff, you should find an outside space or hire virtual employees who work from their own locations.

So what are your options when it comes to office space?

Commercial space: A traditional office provides stability, professionalism and the space you can decorate to suit the business image you want to convey. You can also modify it to the needs of your growing business. On the downside, renting a traditional office can quickly become expensive, especially when you include factors such as utilities, maintenance of common areas and the possible need to update the space. You also have to commit to a lease, which may feel too restrictive when you're just starting out.

Home-based office: This can be a good option for those who have a dedicated space to work. It will definitely save you money on rent, as well as time spent commuting. However, in addition to the downsides mentioned above, working from home can make it hard to “turn off” your business at the end of the day.

Co-working spaces: A relatively new option for entrepreneurs, co-working spaces have really taken off in recent years. You can find a wide variety of co-working spaces, including ones tailored to different industries such as technology, design and more. Typically, these spaces offer common work areas that include cubicles, enclosed offices, meeting and conference rooms, and business equipment such as copiers and fax machines. Unlike traditional commercial office space, co-working space can be rented on a short-term, monthly or as needed basis.

Co-working spaces are an offshoot of what have traditionally been called executive suites—places where you can rent enclosed offices in close quarters with other businesses and gain access to common services such as a receptionist, copy machines and phone service. However, the vibe of co-working spaces is generally looser, younger and hipper. If you like rubbing shoulders with other entrepreneurs and benefiting from the creativity that can result when ideas are shared, a co-working space might be a good option for you. To find a co-working space near you, just search "co-working spaces" online. You'll likely come up with dozens of options nearby, especially if you're close to a major city.

Need help assessing your options? A SCORE mentor can guide you to the right decision. Visit www.score.org to get matched with a mentor today. 

Rieva Lesonsky
Columnist and CEO
GrowBiz Media

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. She was formerly Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine and has written several books about small business and entrepreneurship. 
GrowBizMedia.com | @rieva | More from Rieva

// by Jeanne Rossomme / Sep. 21, 2015 0 comments
Successful Project Management

Have you just been asked to lead a key project?  After years of creating RoadMaps for companies and projects big and small, here are my 10 steps to make sure the “big rocks” are considered:

1. Spend time clearly defining the end goal and WIIFM.  Most projects fizzle rather than fail due to ambiguous definition or lack of commitment by team members or company leaders.  Spend considerable time in advance clearly answering these questions:

  • What is the Goal or Objective? 
  • Who are the stakeholders and what’s in it for each of them? Do they all agree on the goal?  What is each person’s role in the project?  Are they contributing time, budget or buy-in?
  • Who needs to be involved and at what points in the project?

2. Define success and make sure you can measure it.  How does this project play a role in the overall big picture or important work of the organization?  How can you quantify or make tangible a successful outcome?  Can you collect the right data that will really measure this metric?  Estimate the time and money will it take to collect, synthesize and report this metric and incorporate this into the project plan.

3. What are the project deliverables? Keep the project scope manageable.  Is it a presentation, a prototype, a series of recommendations?  If you can define this clearly (even providing a template), you can much more quickly focus your team and reign in tangential discussions.

4. What are your assumptions and risks? As you move through a project, document your assumptions or risks (for example, product “x” will be launched in December).  This will help you later when you are trying to explain changes in timing or cost.

5. What are the needed resources? What budget, person-hours and skills are needed?  These can also be part of your project assumptions.

6. Set milestones or progress markers.  To make sure you can more quickly assess changes that need to be made in scope, budget or expectations, establish interim goals or milestones in advance.

7. Define the project’s managing process.  Follow-up is critical to projects being completed, on-time and within scope.  How often will the group meet and report progress?  How will interim questions be handled? Get dates on everyone’s calendar up front to ensure a fast start.

8. Pick the right project management tool.  The goal of a project management tool is to help organize the information and reporting so it is easy to see what each person needs to do and the due date.  The best tool is one that will be actually be used by each person in the team.  To select a tool….  What information needs to be shared? How much training is needed?  Do you need to bring in outside people at times?  Is there a special need for information security?

9. Learn.  In our ever-fast-paced working world we often finish one project and immediately jump to the next.  Take time to look over the project.  What went well? What could have been improved? 

10. Celebrate.  Schedule a team celebration to mark the successful completion and publicly give thanks to key contributors.

Click here for a copy of SCORE’s Successful Project Management Guide.

Jeanne Rossomme
President
RoadMap Marketing

Jeanne uses her 20 years of marketing know-how to help small business owners reach their goals. Before becoming an entrepreneur, she held a variety of marketing positions with DuPont and General Electric. Jeanne regularly hosts online webinars and workshops in both English and Spanish.
www.roadmapmarketing.com | @roadmapmarketin | More from Jeanne

// by Bridget Weston Pollack / Sep. 18, 2015 0 comments
Social Media

Social media management has become a typical task for small business owners. But while you’re expected to tweet, snap, or post, it takes strategy to turn those surface-level connections into loyal customers you can count on.

The secret to social media success is to use it as the start of your sales funnel. Social media isn’t a place for hard selling; after all, social channels were designed for casual conversation and spontaneous interaction.

Here are a few tips LYFE Marketing pros Sherman Standberry and Keran Smith shared in a SCORE webinar packed with social media secrets. Take note of how social media takes an important role in the sales process, rather than serving solely as a promotional tool.

Install social media widgets on your website

It’s important to place your contact information in a prominent location on your website. But you can make it even easier for people to find and follow your social media accounts. Social media widgets and embedded feeds pull your most recent Facebook, Instagram, or other social media posts and present them in an area you choose on your website. Not only can your visitors preview your recent social activity -- they can also like or follow your account right from their browser.

These widgets allow you to connect with a potential customer on a second platform (your website plus a social media channel) without directing them away from your business website.

If you use a website host like Squarespace, Wix, or some Wordpress setups, adding a social media widget may only require a few clicks. Otherwise, you may need to do some research to determine what HTML code you’ll need and where to place it.

Network on social media like you’re at a social event

Sherman Standberry, one of the hosts of our social media secrets webinar, makes such a great point when he says, “If you start a conversation by telling people, ‘Hey, go to my website,’ you’re probably not the best networker.”

You would never walk up to someone at a cocktail party and hand them your business card without first striking up a conversation. Social media works the same way. Social media outreach that’s too sales-oriented or looks like advertising will be shunned by your followers and potential fans.

Social media allows you to connect with people one-on-one without paying for advertising. So connect! Once a follower is confident that there’s a real person on the other side of the keyboard, they’ll respond to your special offers, event invitations, or inquiries about their specific needs. Remember, it takes time to develop these relationships.

Create a landing page to capture contact information

Once you’ve developed a relationship on social media, it’s time to direct your potential customer to a landing page. Think of the most important action a customer can make once they arrive at your website. Is it signing up for your email newsletter? Downloading a free ebook? Registering for an event?

Ask for that one important action on a landing page. It might be the very first page a visitor sees when they arrive at your website, or it could be a prompt that pops up once a visitor has clicked around your site. A prominent landing page keeps your visitor on task and moves them into the sales phase of your funnel.

You don’t need advanced software to create a landing page. Google Forms are free, and services like Wufoo and Jotform offer free starter levels of service. These tools can help you set up a system to capture the most critical information about your leads, like their email addresses or phone numbers.

Remember to keep your landing page simple. Add your landing page URL to your social media profiles to make it easy for people to get more information about your business.

Engage first, sell later

Once you’ve forged connections on social media and captured lead contact information, you can start to think about selling to that potential customer. Thank your customer for their interest and provide value, whether it be in the form of an educational email newsletter, free product download, or consultation offer. Continue to build relationships with consistent communication that will get your customers excited about doing business with you.

Your initial social media interactions can impact how smoothly your entire sales process goes. Don’t ignore these powerful, free tools -- use them to your small business advantage!

Want to add social media engagement to your sales funnel? Meet with a SCORE mentor to discuss best practices and action plans.

Bridget Weston Pollack
Vice President of Marketing & Communications
SCORE
Bridget Weston Pollack is the Vice President of Marketing & Communications at the SCORE Association. In this role, Bridget is responsible for all branding, marketing, PR, and communication efforts. She focuses on implementing marketing plans and strategies for the organization to facilitate the growth of SCORE’s mentoring and trainings services.
// by Raj Tumber / Sep. 17, 2015 0 comments
Blog

You may have heard that blogging will increase brand exposure and potentially grow your customer base. But how exactly does that work?

When you blog consistently, you are creating fresh content more often than just updating your website once every few months. Every time you post new content on the internet, the pages are indexed. This means automatic content finders called spiders or web crawlers, such as Googlebot, Yahoo Slurp and Bingbot tell search engines a new page is on the internet. The spider then takes the freshly found content back to its search engine where the content gets indexed. More new content means your brand appears on Google more.

How do blogs help with social media?

Once you have this new content, you can re-purpose it on your social media accounts. Think of your blog as the content source and social media as another form of content distribution. Posts on Facebook or Twitter also count as fresh material to be indexed by search engines. While Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are popular sites, choose social media channels based on your objectives. You may need more audio and video-based content sites, such as YouTube, iTunes podcasts and Vimeo. You can also embed video from YouTube onto Facebook, Twitter and others. Fans and followers can share your posts which takes your blog content even further.

People often post photos and text updates on their social media page because it’s quick and easy. But if you also blog, remember to use that content too. You can also use your social media posts as material for blog entries. Recycle and reuse your content in as many ways as possible.

Use the built-in analytics tools in social media networks to learn what content attracts fans. You can also determine what social media posts lead to your website. Measuring what works will help you strategize on where and how often to post on various social media channels.

Creating new content doesn’t stop at your blog. Reuse your material on social media networks to gain more brand awareness and more customers.

Raj Tumber
Mentor
SCORE Las Vegas
Raj specializes in strategic business development and is currently authoring a book on the topic of strategic development. Other areas of expertise include technical administration, consumer electronics, investigations and analytical science.
SCORELV.org | Facebook | More from Raj                
// by Michael Katz / Sep. 16, 2015 0 comments
Secret Weapon

I have a secret weapon that I use to market my business. It’s so secret, in fact, that sometimes I forget I have it and don’t take full advantage of it.

Is it my superior intellect? No, but thank you.

Perhaps it’s the band of merry elves who live in my attic and attend to my every need? Still a pipe-dream, I’m afraid.

No, my friend, I’m referring to my relationships and, in particular, my natural tendency towards staying in touch with people.

I don’t know why I like emailing, talking on the phone, meeting for coffee, sending texts and just interacting in general, but I do. If I could do nothing but that all day and still make a living, I would.

But here’s the secret weapon part: This kind of decidedly non-strategic, random connecting invariably leads to positive outcomes for my business:

Invitations to speak, new newsletter subscribers, word of mouth buzz, requests to reprint things I’ve written, referrals and, without question, the majority of my clients.

All the result of simply keeping in touch for the sake of keeping in touch.

What I’ve noticed, however, is that while most solo professionals are quick to acknowledge the value of networking and staying connected, it’s almost always done from the perspective of, “How can this guy help me?”

For many people, it seems, it’s not really about building relationships, it’s solely about getting clients. One is simply a means to the other.

I don’t approach it that way. Not because I’m so wonderful (although I am good-looking), it’s just that I keep in touch with the people I like keeping in touch with.

The funny thing is though – and this is the part that’s particularly relevant to your own marketing – somehow, by not trying to predict before the fact, “Who’s most valuable to my business?” … I end up with more business:

  • One of my current clients is a former client who I happened to have coffee with last summer.
     
  • Another is an old work colleague of a guy who was in one of my classes two years ago whom I’ve kept in touch with.
     
  • A third is my wife’s old boss who’s now working as a solo and whom I’ve gotten together with for lunch and coffee for years.

Interesting, don’t you think? Somehow, by focusing on the relationship aspect of networking – as opposed to just the business goal of “keeping my name in front of people” – I generate more business.

And it’s not just because most of my clients are individuals, rather than companies. I spent my first 10 years as a solo with companies (some of them huge) as clients and all the business came to me the same way: Real relationships with people inside these companies.

Here’s the bottom line. There’s nothing wrong with being strategic about who you know and how you spend your time. It’s just that in my experience, it’s really, really hard to tell beforehand which connections will ultimately be most valuable.

So I have one simple recommendation: Stop chasing clients, start chasing relationships.

Not only will you have more work, you’ll have a whole lot of new friends too.

Michael Katz
Founder
Blue Penguin Content Club

Michael Katz is Founder and Chief Penguin of the Blue Penguin Content Club, a membership site for solos and freelancers with an interest in creating great content. Learn more here: http://bluepenguincontentclub.com/signupAlso connect with him on LinkedIn.
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