Get Social Or Go Home

Social Media Sign Post

Use of social media is growing as fast among business owners as it is among the general population- which translates into “It’s booming.” In fact, a Mediabistro report reveals that 73% of small businesses today are now involved in social media marketing.
There are a number of good reasons why marketing your products or services through social sites like Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ makes good business sense to small businessmen. We will look at three of these reasons just below, but first, let it be said that if you aren’t using social media to bolster your business, your competition is. That competition is fierce, and social media marketing has become so key to success that those who still refuse to “get social” might just as well pack up and “go home.”

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: The first reason to “get social” with your business ads is that around half of modern shoppers count on social media for help in making a purchase decision. Recommendations on their favorite social sites are frequently taken quite seriously, so you had better be making those recommendations instead of your competition. In the end, the ROI on the money, time, and effort invested is typically high enough to easily justify a full-fledged social media marketing program.
  2. Customer Acquisition: A majority of the world’s 7 billion people are now members of at least one social media site, and there are 1.7 billion such sites now in existence. There is enormous potential to gain new prospects via social media marketing with relative ease, and this stems both from the sheer numbers involved and the fact that many are far more likely to buy a product advertised at a social site that they use. Additionally, social site friends will often recommend your product to others both on and off the site, creating a fountainhead for word-of-mouth advertisement.
  3. Customer Interaction: Via social media, businesses can directly engage clients or potential clients in interactions such as Q&A surveys, opinion polls, two-way conversations, and more. While these same sort of activities could potentially take place at a business’ website, prospects are often more willing to take part in them in a more “relaxed social environment.”

Once the great potential of social media marketing is understood, many small business owners increase the time and money spent on this form of advertisement and see beneficial effects. According to a Swiftgate survey, 50% of businesses had recently boosted their time spent on social media sites and had gained new clients as a result. Success will not come apart from offering useful, relevant content to consumers and posting high-quality ads, but locating your material in a high-yield environment (social media sites) is winning half the battle.

Three New Apps To Add Hours To Your Week

Finding the elusive work/life balance can be a little like searching for something that exists only in theory. But it is out there, and with no shortage of helpful apps available to aid you in your quest, it can actually be attainable.

That said, here are three apps that can help you get the most out of each day, both in work and in life. Moreover, the time saved will help ease the stress and help you concentrate on other things.

1. Shyp

It’s never more fitting to mention Shyp than during the holiday season – even if Shyp encompasses much more than that. That’s because anyone who has dealt with post office crowds at this time of year can save time, stress and money thanks to Shyp.

What is it? In short, Shyp will come to you, pick up your items, and pack them and ship them anywhere in the world while using the most reliable, cheapest option available. Talk about taking the hassle out of gift-giving.

But there’s more:

*For starters, Shyp’s couriers will arrive at your office or desk within 20 minutes of being notified.

*Instead of using shipping addresses, Shyp’s customers get usernames instead. Those usernames are then synced with addresses and shipping preferences. In turn, that tackles the problem of not being home to receive a package and having to go off-site to get it. Instead, it can be delivered to wherever you are.

How It Works

Open the Shyp app, take a photo of the item you want shipped, and a courier will arrive to pick it up – for only $5. The package is then taken to a warehouse where the postage fee is determined.

2. Pocket

If you’re like a lot of people, you’ve probably had your productive time hijacked by an interesting article that keeps you engrossed for far too long. If the Internet is an ever-tempting distraction and you have a long list of articles to get through, then Pocket will come to the rescue.

How does it work? Put simply, you can save content and view it later with Pocket. You don’t even need to be online to view it, because Pocket downloads the articles (and videos) so you can view them anywhere later during your spare time – without a Wi-Fi connection.

3. LucyPhone

Getting put on hold while waiting for a customer service rep is about as much fun as standing at line in the post office as you wait to ship your package. Enter LucyPhone.

You can either choose from the app’s mega-list of companies or enter the company’s number and it will call it for you. If you’re put on hold, press ** and the app will take over the agonizing task of being on hold. When an agent becomes available, you’ll get a call back telling you so.

The Power of a Business Mastermind Group

Mastermind Group

Mastermind groups are a relatively new concept to most business owners. A mastermind or peer advisory group is designed to help people navigate through challenges using the combined intelligence of others. How does it work? A group of smart, goal-oriented people meets on a regular basis to tackle problems and challenges together. These people lean on each other, share advice and connections, and conduct business together when appropriate. What are the benefits of joining such a group?

Challenging Yourself

Do you want your business to grow beyond your wildest dreams? You need to join a peer advisory group; it will challenge you to grow your company to its fullest potential. In day-to-day life, it is very easy to get distracted – when this happens you lose track of your goals and your business suffers. However, a peer advisory group would keep you from straying too far.

Accountability

As a human being, you need to be held accountable for your actions. Otherwise, you will just do what you want regardless of how it affects the business. At the end of each peer
advisory group meeting, you will have objectives and an action plan that you need to work on before the next meeting. The group will hold you to account for everything, because it takes true discipline to achieve anything in life. Being held accountable by your colleagues will help you keep your focus and succeed in your business.

Lasting Connections

The life of a business owner can be quite lonely. However, if you share your aspirations, challenges and dreams with a team of like-minded people, it will be less lonely. As you spend more time with your peers, you will share ideas and develop strong connections that can last a lifetime. Whether you are looking for lifelong friends or not, you will form lasting bonds with some people.

Brainstorming

As a group, you will be able to share your ideas and come up with better ways of dealing with challenges. If you are not sure which direction you want to go next, seek advice from members of the group. You might be surprised by how helpful your new group mates are. Consequently, you should not be reluctant to help your new team members.

Better Decision Making

When you are alone, it is easy to dismiss an idea as silly. However, with the support of a Mastermind Group, you will be able to make decisions easily. You will have your own due-diligence group to boost your confidence when you need to make an important decision.

Feedback

Get feedback on how to solve problems from successful individuals in your field. If you are facing financial challenges or dealing with staff issues, let your group know and ask them for help. Maybe one of the members has dealt with a similar issue and can offer solid advice. Remember that every person in the group has the same goal: to grow his/her business. There is no hidden agenda – you should all work together for the betterment of your businesses.

Support

Are you going through a hard time? Sure, you can discuss your problems with a close friend or family member, but they would not understand. When you are in a peer advisory group, you can discuss your challenges with a group of like-minded individuals who understand. Some of your colleagues might even be in the same boat. Therefore, you will never lack alternative suggestions on how to deal with your problems. Moreover, you will get sound advice that will stop you from making the same mistakes that your mastermind colleagues made in the past.

Expanding Skills

Each person in a peer advisory group has unique skills and connections. Therefore, it is safe to assume that everyone is an expert at something, and as you forge new connections with them, you will pick up new skills. If you all agree to teach each other something new, you will be armed with the necessary skills to make your business succeed. In such groups, individuals tend to raise the bar by challenging one another to implement goals and brainstorm ideas.

Hot Seats

What is a hot seat? The principle behind it is that each person gets a chance to present his/her biggest challenge to the group. In turn, the group will provide a series of solutions and options to follow up on, and the individual in the hot seat leaves with more ideas. If the mastermind group is too large, not everyone gets a chance to take the hot seat. However, the person in the hot seat might be dealing with the same issues as you, so pay attention. This might help you to gain clarity on the challenges you are currently facing.

Helping Others

When you give a person advice and he or she succeeds because of it, you feel a sense of gratification. Furthermore, offering advice to others gives you the perfect opportunity to forge new and lasting connections. When you help people, most of them will want to reciprocate in any way they can. Therefore, you should think of helping others as a way of earning future favors.

New Business Ideas

The generation of new business ideas is the biggest benefit of joining a peer advisory group. You will come across new ideas that are perfect for your business. The idea may not even be related to your business, but it might jump start something in your brain. Just being in the same room with superior brains in the business world should be enough to give you new ideas.

Increased Profits

The objective of a Mastermind Group is to help you to take advantage of opportunities that come your way. Once you start doing so, your profits will soar and your business will become a great success.

Now that you know why you need to be part of a peer advisory group, you should think about joining organizations that run them, including Virginia Council of CEOs, Entrepreneurs Organization, Team Nimbus, C12 Group, Renaissance Executive Forums, Sage Executive Group, and Vistage. The owner of 1-800-Got-Junk, Brian Scudamore, grew his company’s revenues over a five-year period from $201,532 to $8,057,563. He has won many awards since and been featured on CNN, Oprah, and CBS. What was his secret for success? He joined a small group of entrepreneurs. According to him, ‘the value of peer networking turned out to be more than great business advice’. Brian says that his
peer network enabled him to expand his business. Before he joined a Mastermind network, his profits were low. Why don’t you join a Mastermind Group too? There is no losing; you can only win.

Do You Have a 12-Month Business Plan? If Not, You Are Hurting Your Business

In the world of business, setting clear, obtainable goals and working toward them consistently until they are achieved is indispensable to success. Without a plan of action, the tendency is for your actions to become one of two things: rote and unmovable or random and spur-of-the-moment. Without a 12-month business plan, it will be nearly impossible to focus on your goals in the midst of a hectic business environment. You will inadvertently end up hurting your business for lack of a plan.

Why Is a Written Business Plan Necessary?

Committing your vision for your business over the next 12 months to writing will benefit you in a number of important ways, including the following:

  • Putting your ideas down on paper and/or into a PC will help you to focus on your goals and identify your highest priorities.
  • The finished plan will serve as a point of reference to give you direction as you strive to achieve your stated goals.
  • It will be a starting point from which you can adjust to the changing circumstances (update the plan), and insightful year-on-year comparisons will ultimately be possible.
  • A secondary reason to have an annual business plan is that investors/bankers who may be interested in loaning you some capital will want to see on paper how you plan to manage your business.

How Do I Set Business Goals?

Without clearly defend, specific goals, your larger goals will not likely materialize. Part of your business plan should spell out these goals, covering such areas as:

  • Marketing Goals: Increase sales to existing clients by 15% and increase retention of new customers by 30%.
  • Production Goals: Boost output by 5% within 6 months and by 10% within 12 months.
  • Financial Goals: Reduce overhead costs by 5% while raising the profit margin from 12% to 15%.
  • Environmental Goals: Increase the energy efficiency of my facility by 20% and install solar panels on the building’s roof.

How Do I Strategize and Forecast?

Not only goals but also a step-by-step plan of action to accomplish each goal should form a part of your annual business plan. These steps will then, in turn, guide your daily operations. These steps might, fore example, include things like buying new equipment or holding worker training meetings.

A final section of your plan should be a forecast of the “financial implications” you expect will result from the plan’s implementation. This should include a 12-month cash flow forecast and a profit/loss forecast that extends across two or three years. Monitoring actual expenditures against these projections will help you to keep to goal as much as possible.

Conclusion

As a final note, realize that your 12-month business plan is a tool and not a “straight jacket.” If you need to change it to adjust to a new situation, it is better to update the plan than to miss an opportunity. At minimal, you will “update” your business plan once a year, when you sit down to formulate your goals and strategies for the next 12 months.

USA Today: How to build a team so your business can grow

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From USA Today

How to build a team so your business can grow

http://usat.ly/1ReQYda

This article provide clarity around the importance of building a team in growing your business.
“Just because you are in business for yourself doesn’t mean you have to be in business by yourself.”

USA Today: How to reach your small business customers

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From USA Today

How to reach your small business customers

http://usat.ly/1IeuswR

Today’s Small Business Week article highlights the challenge of acquiring customers.

No surprise small business owners say word-of-mouth is their most effective marketing technique. That said, Rhonda Adams reminder to us to not overestimate our word-of-mouth efforts and at the core of word-of mouth is a great customer experience.

The “Do-it-now action items at the end of the article outlines a great starting point for all of us.

USA Today: How an annual plan can help your small business grow

100-Days-to-Abundance-small

From USA Today

How an annual plan can help your small business grow

http://usat.ly/1I6ZjLA

As Rhonda Adams points out in second article of her Small Business Week series, the value of planning is what you learn in the process. You can make better decisions, execute more effectively and seize the better opportunities. All critical to successful business growth.

Strategic Alliances are “Where it’s at” for Small Business

100-Days-to-Abundance-smallA big challenge faced by small businesses is scarcity of resources. Larger businesses have substantial cash flow, numbers of employees just to name of few of the more critical resources a business needs to grow and be successful.  If you are in business by yourself or you own a smaller business, marshalling those resources is critical and a high bar to hurdle.

That is why strategic alliances are critical to small business growth and success. In fact, strategic alliance is one of the “don’t leave home without it” factors of small business success. It is one of the fastest, most flexible ways to increase resources in your business.

Here is what I mean. Let’s say a financial advisor and CPA were to forge a strategic alliance in which the CPA scheduled each of their clients for a financial review session with the financial advisor to provide the CPA with a better understanding of their client’s total financial picture. As a result, the financial advisor instantly has an additional source of prospects and the CPA gains a greater understanding of their client’s total financial picture.

The possibilities of strategic alliances are limited only by your creativity and endless. Strategic alliances can be utilized to:

• increase revenues
• decrease expenses
• expand your services
• increase your competitiveness
• and more.

Strategic alliances are so important, I’ve figured out a way 100 Days to Abundance can be utilized to support strategic alliances among small businesses. Strategic partners can participate in 100 Days to Abundance at the same price as one person attending $349.00.  That is the fee for one person attending and it is the same fee for  2 people from different businesses attending if they sign up at the same time. In fact 3 businesses can attend for a total  of $349.00 and even 4 businesses can attend for a total of $349.00.

Have your strategic partners right there with you in 100 Days to Abundance so you can forge a highly effective strategic alliance build around the same prove concepts, strategies and tactics of small business success.

How have you utilized strategic alliances to increases your business’s capabilities and growth? Share with us in the Comments section below.

Is it Business or Physics or Both?

100-Days-to-Abundance-smallOne of the things that hinders many moving out of corporate jobs and careers and starting their own small business is the assumption that what works in big business, works the same in small business.  Only on a smaller scale.

Well, that’s not necessarily so. Let me share an example. In big business organizations, great emphasis is placed on planning. Planning, planning, planning. And rightfully so. In a big business, implementation done on a large scale is costly. If there is a mistake in the plan or the implementation process, it will most likely be equally or even more expensive. A big business wins by investing as much time in planning as it takes to insure the plan is “perfect.”

Time is the most costly resource for a small business and speed of execution is an inherent competitive advantage. Too much time spent getting the plan “perfect,”, burns up your most valuable resource, at the expense of your competitive advantage to avoid a mistake that will have a relatively small impact on your business.

Additionally, the fastest way to perfect the plan is to use the feedback you get from execution. The size of your business allows you to make those changes and course corrections quickly in a way that a big business cannot.

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This is just one example of what we call Quantum Business in 100 Days to Abundance.  There are a number of Quantum Business principles, and we explore them and how you can utilize them to produce quantum growth in your business.

So the answer is it’s really business, specifically small business,  but I use physics analogies to explain it in 100 Days to Abundance.  If you use Promotional Code Retro100 and sign up for by March 29, 2015 for any of the programs scheduled for 2015, you can get it all for only $100.00.  After that it’s $349.00