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  • How to Develop Your Leadership Skills as a Business Owner
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    Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Dorothy Enriquez, @dorothy_writes  She is Principal and Founder of The Communication Strategist (TCS), a Learning and Leadership Development Firm specializing in team building, development, and growth. Dorothy has been helping teams engage one activity at a time for almost two decades. Anyone interested in learning more about developing your leadership or developing your team can contact https://www.dorothyenriquez.com/ SmallBizLady: What is the importance of leadership within a small business? Dorothy Enriquez: Leadership is particularly critical in small business because there’s more at stake when leadership goes wrong in this arena. In a corporate setting, there tends to be more checks and balances as well as more resources that are readily available to counterbalance and course-correct poor leadership. While, on the small business front, leadership gone awry could be the difference between hitting the numbers and a business losing their footing in the marketplace. Fundamentally, it makes dollars and sense to put leadership at the forefront of the to-do list. SmallBizLady: Why does a small business leader need to constantly develop leadership skills? Dorothy Enriquez: It’s imperative for small business leaders to make leadership a priority because their teams tend to be small but mighty. Honestly, small businesses and their leaders rise and fall on leadership. With a connection-based leadership style, small business leaders can get in front of issues and challenges, maintain morale and engagement as well as foster an environment of accountability, relationships, and results. With a commitment to leadership, small business owners can create culture codes that would make large organizations jealous. SmallBizLady: Do small business leaders need to develop leadership skills even if they have no staff or team?  Dorothy Enriquez: Absolutely! Because at the end of the day, as a small business leader, you still have customers, clients, consultants, and contractors that are all partnering with you. And ultimately, the goal is not to always be in business alone. We weren’t created to pursue greatness solo; therefore, your vision would need to expand if it always only included you. But since it’s just you, it’s the perfect training ground. SmallBizLady: What can leaders do to inspire their team within a small business environment? Dorothy Enriquez: The number one way to find out the… Read more »
  • 5 Top Leadership Tips for Small Businesses
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     Every business faces a set of challenges, and small businesses are no exception. In fact, the challenges are greater when you’re running a small company, and the most common and concerning problem can sometimes be the lack of leadership skills.  Not having multiple hierarchy levels can work against a business, but it can also prove helpful. By acquiring the qualities of a 21st-century leader, small business owners can create a work environment that not only attracts great talent but also improves the productivity of existing employees.  Read on to find out the top leadership tips that will help you evolve into an able leader.  5 Top Leadership Tips 1. Become a Servant Leader  The term ‘servant leadership’ was coined by Robert K. Greenleaf in his essay, The Servant as Leader. Servant leaders do not desire unusual power. They do what’s best for their team and create a work environment which is more just and more caring. As a leader in a small business, you need to see beyond your and the company’s interest. It’s important that your team feels cared for. This will not only increase their productivity but will also reduce the employee turnover rate.  2. Develop Leaders  A great thing about leadership is that it doesn’t have to come with position or power. If you think that some members of your team reflect a few qualities of a good manager or leader, encourage leadership development in them. Always remember what the uber-famous and successful Ronald Reagan said – “A great leader is the one that gets the people to do the greatest things.” Encouraging and mentoring your team members will help you build a strong leadership pipeline in the company. Also, the diverse skills and ideas will only take your business up.  3. Practice Empathy  According to a Gallup poll, only a third of workers born between 1980 and 1996 feel connected to their companies.  It’s well known that empathy encourages employee motivation and engagement. So, here’s what you can do to make your employees feel that they are truly valued:  Put yourself in their shoes and figure out what can be done to make the workplace more positive for them.  Don’t push them to meet unrealistic expectations and deadlines.  Appreciate their work and efforts on a daily basis. ‘Employee of the Month’ awards do not really contribute to an empathetic environment from the top down.  Stay Humble… Read more »
  • The #SmallBizChat Podcast Is Here!
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     You asked for it, and now you got it. It’s official, this week I’m launching The #Smallbizchat Podcast. What is a podcast, you say? Podcasts are essentially radio interviews, and all of the programming is free online. This podcast will be a way for you to learn even more about what I believe it takes to be successful in business. For over 10 years, I’ve interviewed hundreds of guest experts on Twitter about the latest issues, challenges, and opportunities facing today’s small businesses. And then the next day we publish the interviews on this blog. Nothing is changing. We’re still doing #Smallbizchat on Twitter every Wednesday 8-9pm ET. And once a month we’ll continue doing #Smallbizchat LIVE, a monthly video broadcast featuring three guest experts streaming live to my SmallBizLady Facebook Page, Twitter (via Periscope) and on YouTube. Over the last few years, I lost count of how many people asked me if I had a podcast. So finally, I heard you!! The #SmallBizChat Podcast starts this Wednesday, September 11, 2019. Look for interviews that are 20-40 minutes in length. I’ll be going deeper with our guest experts and letting you hear business advice directly from them in the style of a Masterclass on the weekly podcast. Some of my first guests include Customer Experience Expert Shep Hyken, Tech Life Expert Stephanie Humphries, Business Growth Expert Garrett White, Trade Show Sales Expert Dianna Geairn, Business Expert Barry Moltz, and Seasoned Business Journalist Alfred Edmond, Jr. Once a month, I’ll do a solo podcast that we’re calling SmallBizLady Diaries, where I’ll share personal stories and advice on things that I learned the hard way in my business. I’ll also share thoughts on relevant issues affecting business owners, and I’ll answer some of your Ask SmallBizLady questions. Some of the first topics I’ll touch on include How I Became #SmallBizLady, Failing Doesn’t Mean Failure, How to Really be a BOSS, Don’t Be The Momma, and When You Hate Your Business. I like writing articles and books about business best practices, so talking to you directly through the #SmallBizChat Podcast weekly is like developing new muscles for me. I feel like I’ve been in a gym all summer working hard to build Michelle Obama arms. My team and I have been going through all kinds of social profiles, blogs and books to find amazing guest experts, so we can bring them to you. I… Read more »
  • How to Turn Your Stream of Leads into Sales
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    Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with sales leads expert Jennifer Dunham, @jen_dunham. After owning several companies (at one time), Jennifer found that the kind of leads we have on our email list really do matter. She’s been supporting entrepreneurs in B2B and B2C business for years to help them nurture the leads they already have and create more income in the process. She is a professional speaker and contributed to 3 books in 2018. Jennifer is based in Sacramento, California. For more information: happinessmatters.com   SmallBizLady: Tell us a bit about your concept of a Profitable Lifestyle – what does that mean?  Jennifer Dunham: Have you ever known a workaholic who feels out of balance with the rest of their life? This was me. I am a recovering workaholic, and it really wreaked havoc in my personal life. I had a huge transition moment when my husband and I decided to buy a 5-acre chicken farm an hour away from where we both work with our clients in downtown Sacramento. I am a mathematics girl and love numbers and wanted to create a tangible way for others to feel like their whole life is profitable, not just their work. Once we moved, I found what was really missing from a successful career (I was running my IT firm and photography studio at the time), and I created my Profitable Lifestyle Formula. A profitable lifestyle is about supporting and working through all aspects of a woman’s life, including business, happiness time and impacting others.  And I’ve learned that balance is possible when you realize that balance is unique for each person. SmallBizLady: What is the biggest challenge small businesses have with closing sales from their email list?    Jennifer Dunham: A lot of small businesses and entrepreneurs know they need a list and work really hard (maybe event pay for ads) to get those leads to their list. But they forget about nurturing them. They don’t know how to keep top-of-mind, and be the go-to expert, with their list. I teach my clients that a good welcome sequence can do wonders in nurturing a lead through the buying process. When a small business doesn’t know what to add to that sequence, the correct order to… Read more »
  • 5 Conversion Rate Optimization Trends You Need to Follow
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     Conversion Rate Optimization. As a business, it’s vital that you consider this essential process when you’re analyzing your operations and planning how to grow, improve, and enhance yourself now and in the future. The key here, as the title suggests, is to optimize your conversion rates in order to maximize the number of people who are clicking through your business to help you improve your revenue and contribute to your success. As each year passes, there are different trends to the conversion rate optimization niche, and learning them can help you drive up your success rates. With 2020 around the corner, here are the latest trends you need to be thinking about. 5 Conversion Rate Optimization Techniques to Try in Your Small Business 1. Put Customers First This has been a leading trend for several years now, but in 2020, it’s going to be more important than ever. When it comes to the world of business, everybody has access to pretty much the same tools; the only difference is how well you can connect with your customers. “From your customer service teams to how user-friendly your website is, every decision you make within your business needs to be optimized to give your customers the best experience in order to convince them to convert,” explains Nick Snelling, a business writer at Wrinity and Lastminutewriting.  2. Harness the Power of Metrics If your business is operating online, you’ll have access to metrics, whether that’s through your own website or store, or through your social media pages. Take note of these metrics and use them to your advantage. By using them, you can learn more and more about your customers to give you a greater idea of who they are. If you can laser-target your ideal customers, you can improve conversion rate optimization because you’ll be giving them exactly what they want. 3. Use Multiple Website Versions If you have a diverse target market where you market and sell to different people, creating multiple versions of your website to suit these demographics can be one of the best conversion rate optimization strategies. For example, if you have a men’s and women’s section in your online clothing store, designing uniquely-themed web pages can help to give your customers a more personalized experience which will make them more likely to buy. You can break this process down into a ton of different categories, including; Age… Read more »
  • Christmas is Coming: Will Your Business Be Ready for Holiday Sales?
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    The holidays are just around the corner, and with more tariffs on Chinese imported good set to kick in on Dec 15th, people will shop early this year. Are you ready for holiday sales? It’s time to plan now for the biggest shopping season of the year. The sales will be rolling by Halloween, so don’t get caught waiting until Black Friday or Small Business Saturday to boost sales! Get cracking right away with these tips.  8 Tips for Getting Ready for Holiday Sales 1. Decide What You Want to Put on Sale or Bundle Defining your promotions strategy first will help the rest of your planning efforts fall into place. Will you offer a straight percentage discount storewide or on selected products? Or will you highlight certain products or services with special pricing? The second strategy is a great way to drive traffic in the door for highly sought-after items. Once they’re shopping, customers will likely buy other items as well. Upfront Sales: If you’re a service business, you could offer a 15 percent discount on prepaid 2020 service calls, tax prep, or speaking engagements. Bundle It: If you are good with baskets and bows, throw a few items together for a great price. People need easy holiday gifts. If you have products that haven’t sold well, bundle them with other more popular items and offer them as gift baskets. Prepare for FREE Shipping: If you sell products online, free shipping is a must! It’s the #1 reason for shopping cart abandonment. Budget for it and make it happen. 2. Order Extra Inventory The last thing you want to do is run out of stock on your best sellers. If you’re planning to push more promotions on certain items, make sure you’ve got plenty of inventory.  Last-minute scrambling to restock is a great way to eat your profit margin in higher wholesale costs and rush shipping fees. The earlier you order your supplies, the less stress you’ll have this holiday. 3. Start Staffing Holiday Help October is a great time to start looking for seasonal workers. If you’ve been swamped in previous holidays, you know hiring extra hands to help take care of the overflow of customers or shipping requirements makes sense. Determine how many temporary workers you’ll need over the holiday season and give them an employment commitment quickly before someone else steals them away.  4. Train Your… Read more »
  • How to Develop Business Processes
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    Every week as SmallBizLady, I conduct interviews with experts on my Twitter talk show #SmallBizChat. The show takes place every Wednesday on Twitter from 8-9pm ET.  This is excerpted from my recent interview with Ellen Williams, @Ellen_NY_B2B. Ellen is a Business Process Management Expert. She has spent 25 years consulting with businesses of all sizes on their processes and identifying what technologies best support them. Through both business analysis and data analysis, she creates plans that improve processes (manual and automated) to streamline systems. In today’s multi-function business environment, she recommends solutions around efficiency, ease-of-use, and the right tool for the job! For more information thedatachick.com SmallBizLady: What is the first step in developing business processes?  Ellen Williams: The first step in developing the process is to understand your goal or desired result. You can take a big-picture item, such as marketing, or a more specific item, such as creating invoices. Both of these are important and developing processes on how to accomplish them will help streamline your day. Processes have steps, responsibilities, value, and consequences, so be sure your goal is worthy of the effort of developing a process as well as executing it.  SmallBizLady: How many people should be involved in developing business processes? Ellen Williams: Some processes require multiple people, including representatives from several departments, assistants, clients, and vendors, to name a few. If everyone involved is part of the development, you’ll have a better chance that everyone will adhere to the process. This may not be an option in larger organizations, as decision-makers typically develop the processes and pass them down to the tactical people who will execute them. SmallBizLady: How can you avoid bottlenecks in developing business processes? Ellen Williams: Good processes require multiple people; otherwise you run the risk of bottlenecks. When just one person is busy and puts off their part of the process, it stops. When the process stops, things get backlogged and sometimes deadlines are missed. Regardless of the goal of the process, the business loses either time or money, or both! Before creating any process, you need to consider who is involved and how their workload will affect the process and the results. If you do run into bottlenecks, find out why and make a change. Either remove the person from the process or reduce their workload if they are important to the process. Bottlenecks create stress for everyone. SmallBizLady:… Read more »
  • Thinking Big: How to Make Your Small Business Look as Big as Your Dreams
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    Small business owners have it tough. It’s hard finding other companies or organizations to partner with if you look like a two-bit operation running out of your basement, regardless of how competent and capable you might be. But big client lists aren’t just the purview of big companies. There are ways to get around this unfair bias when it comes to how others look at your small business, and they’re both surprisingly easy and cost-effective. In fact, just about every small business can look much bigger than they really are just by keeping the following great tips and tricks that will make your small business look big. Make Your Business Address More Businesslike Let’s get this out of the way right at the beginning: there’s no shame running your small business out of your basement. Or your garage. Or your spare room. Start-ups and small businesses all have to get their start somewhere, and unless you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, you’re unlikely to have the resources for your own office suite in some downtown high-rise. The thing is, though, that using your home address as your business address is probably the biggest mistake you can make if you want to make your small business look big (or bigger than it really is). It takes no time at all to lookup an address on the internet. If someone who looks down on “small” businesses finds out you’re running your company out of an apartment complex or residential block, it could sink your chances of growing your business. You can get around this easily enough, simply by maintaining a PO box at your local post office or a FedEx or UPS store. This gives you a more legitimate-looking address that won’t put off people who don’t want to work with a home-based business for whatever reason. Your Online Presence Needs to Look Professional If you want to make your small business look big, it’s important that your online presence — your website — conveys a professional look and feel. This makes high-quality website design crucial if you hope to show prospective clients and partners that your small business looks bigger than it really is. It’s true that running a start-up is a numbers game when it comes to budget. It might seem like a good idea to find lower-cost options for your website, but the old adage… Read more »
  • 11 Things You Need to Know About Securing Corporate Sponsorship
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    A corporate sponsorship is a mutual business proposition that offers something in exchange for a financial commitment from a corporation. These relationships have been growing significantly throughout the years. So how can your small business tap into corporate sponsorships? Let’s look at 6 steps to securing corporate sponsorship and the 5 reasons why sponsorships fail. How to Secure a Corporate Sponsorship Know Your Audience  Companies are interested in reaching audiences they typically do not have easy access to reach. It’s less expensive to hire an influencer who already has a trust relationship with their target audience than purchasing social media ads and traditional advertising to target these individuals directly. By leveraging an influencer that already has their attention, a corporate sponsorship it is a win/win. Make sure you can articulate who you serve. Are your readers/viewers male or female? What age demographic? How much income do they have? Do they have children? How often do they interact with your brand? Do you have an email list or private online group to communicate with them? Once you identify all the characteristics of your customer base, start researching companies that or want to reach that group. For example, if mothers are your primary customer, look through the pages of parenting magazines and research parenting websites. What companies advertise on those sites? Then make a list of those businesses as potential corporate sponsors. 2. Introduce Yourself Securing sponsorship is not going to happen from a cold email. People give money to people they like to know and trust. You need to personally connect with someone. I like to do LinkedIn research first. Send a personalized LinkedIn request first, then ask for a 15-minute meeting to introduce yourself to your new connection. Do not waste people’s time. If you ask for 15-minutes, get off the phone after 15 minutes. Tell them what you want and that you’ll follow-up with an email with specifics. Identify the Sponsor Benefits Sponsorships can involve many different types of benefits and deliverables including: Social media mentions (How many tweets, posts or FB stories are you offering?) Targeted Email Blast (Send a 300-word email to your list about the brand.) Media interviews (Doing media interviews and mentioning the brand or product) Product placement (You wearing or using their product in an Instagram photo) Videos (Appearance in a demo video about the product or a testimonial video) Books (Mentioning a brand product… Read more »
  • August 2019 #Smallbizchat LIVE: How World Entrepreneurship Is Impacting Your Small Business
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     #Smallbizchat is a weekly conversation where small business owners can get answers to their questions. The focus of #Smallbizchat is to end small business failure by helping participants succeed as your own boss. Each month different experts join the discussion, and the August 2019 #Smallbizchat LIVE was all about how world entrepreneurship is impacting your small business. Please join us live on Twitter every Wednesday from 8-9 pm ET. Here’s how: follow @SmallBizChat on Twitter and follow the hashtag #Smallbizchat and click here for directions to join the weekly conversation.  This week on the August 2019 #Smallbizchat LIVE, our show featured three guests: How to Sell in the Chinese Market with Laurel Delaney, @laureldelaney,  Impact Funding in International Markets with Thelma Ekiyor, @ThelmaEkiyor, and How to Get to 7 Figures in Your Small Business with Steve Dailey, @KumuKupuna. I pulled three of the best questions from each of them to share with you. Every third Wednesday of the month, Smallbizchat LIVE is broadcast on my SmallBizLady Facebook Page, YouTube channel, and on Twitter @SmallBizLady. Laurel J. Delaney is founder and president of GlobeTrade.com, a management consulting company that helps small businesses go global and Women Entrepreneurs Grow Global™, a nonprofit that educates women business owners on how to go global.  She is also the author of Exporting: The Definitive Guide to Selling Abroad Profitably. For more information, visit www.globetrade.com. SmallbizLady: What’s the best way to enter the Chinese Market? Laurel Delaney: The best way to enter China is to know someone – someone who has boots on the ground and can assist you with entry issues with the people and the opportunities.  But before you do that, make sure you understand access demand, supply, data, deliveries, and the complexities of the market.  Then establish your top 3 China goals, determine how you will get there, and outline what steps to take immediately to achieve success. Just know, it’s no walk in the park to sell in China. One option is China-based Alibaba. The online platform has opened up its marketplace to U.S. small businesses so they can sell their products to Chinese consumers.  There is a fee involved to build an online store on Alibaba.com; nevertheless, it still presents a huge opportunity for SMEs to sell to countries served by Alibaba, including India, Brazil, and Canada. Another interesting twist and point here:  U.S. merchants, previously only able to buy on Alibaba.com, can now also sell to… Read more »
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