• July 2019 #Smallbizchat LIVE: Leadership, Retaining Top Talent, and Succeeding as a Solopreneur
    #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 July 2019 #Smallbizchat LIVE was all about leadership, retaining top talent, and succeeding as a solopreneur. 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 July 2019 #Smallbizchat LIVE, our show featured three guests: How to Be a Better Leader in Your Business with Patrick Dougher, @BizSpotlighTV, How to Attract and Retain Top Talent in Your Small Business with Oginga Carr, @OgingaCarr, and How to Be a Successful Solopreneur with Pamela Slim, @pamslim. 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. Patrick Dougher is passionate about helping you build, grow, and scale a flourishing and thriving business by sharing proven and time-tested systems guaranteed to generate more engaged employees, increase sales, land more ideal clients, earning more profit. In the past 20 years, I have taught over 40k people these tools to help them create more success for themselves.  Patrick is an award-winning Contract Trainer and speaker, having worked with Zig Ziglar as one of his speakers.  His mission is to Mentor Leaders to activate their power so they can create their destiny. Learn more at www.DoerSuccess.com. SmallBizLady: Where did you learn the principles of leadership that you teach? Patrick Dougher: Where I learned the principle of leadership that I teach began first in college as the activities coordinator for one of the largest student centers at Texas A&M University.  In my career, I had several opportunities to continue to teach leadership because every professional position that I held I ended up with me in the sales training position of the companies that I worked with. My biggest growth in leadership actually came from a 3-Day event that I lead from 2000 to 2010. This particular program dealt with how to process pain rather than run from it.  How to find your purpose, your passion, and walk into your destiny. As a leader there, my job was to… Read more »
  • 5 Unique Ways to Grow a Happy and Motivated Franchise Team
    We all want to become someone that inspires and is worthy of a tight-knit, supportive franchise team. But how is it done? What approaches can you take to ensure your staff are happy and always striving for the best? Here are five useful tips for creating a positive franchise environment that gets the most from its team. First, though, let’s explain why it matters. Why Do You Need a Happy and Motivated Franchise Team? Happiness breeds success. Without it, there’s no point in working hard or going above and beyond basic duties. This is something you cannot do without when leading a franchise team to victory. People should actively want to work for you. They must feel comfortable and cared for. Most importantly, they need to be recognized for their achievements. A business that doesn’t instill a sense of self-worth isn’t worth anyone’s time or effort. Staff members are willing to put in longer hours, better service, and additional requests if they’re part of a motivated culture. One 2015 report states that productivity can increase from 12-20 percent if people are happy when they’re asked to do something. Another argues that ‘high, hard goals’ are essential for continued improvement. Get the balance right, and you’ll have the opportunity to earn more, buy new territories, and raise wages. 5 Ways to Motivate Your Franchise Team Now that we’ve established why happiness and motivation are so valuable, let’s go through each of our strategies for seeding it. 1. Define and Monitor Performance Metrics To give your workers direction, set out how their activity will be quantified over weeks, months, and years. Every business has its own performance metric system. You may be tracking how many meals or drinks a staff member cooks, sells, or distributes. Perhaps they should deal with a set number of inquiries per day. Or it could be the time taken for a service job to be completed, and payments secured as a result. Define these measurements for yourself. Explain them to every employee in detail, as well as the frequency with which you’ll compare metric scores. Members of the team can then perform different tasks to the best of their ability whilst knowing they’re part of the same overarching framework. 2. Treat People as Individuals As much as expectations for the work itself should be clearly outlined, good leaders have to remember that everyone learns best (and responds)… Read more »
  • How to Find a Great Outsourcing Partner for Your Small Business
    Keri just got some great news. She won a new contract as the caterer for one of the largest law firms in her state. So, why is Keri stuck in her office doing payroll on a Friday night instead of out celebrating? She doesn’t have anyone else who can do it. You’re probably thinking, why doesn’t she just hire someone.  A few months ago, she did, but it was a complete disaster. The person Keri hired claimed to be an expert but didn’t have any experience working with small business accounting or her Quickbooks software. The worker did such a poor job, that Keri lost thousands of dollars in less than 3 months. So, now Keri is back to doing it herself, after her staff leaves for the day. Small business owners are in an especially difficult position when it comes to outsourcing work for their business, because many of the so-called experts they encounter are better at selling themselves than they are at doing the work you hire them to do.  On top of that, they don’t have the HR resources big companies do to run the extensive background checks and skills tests needed to truly vet a potential outsourcing partner. As it turns out you don’t need to be a huge firm to hire the right people to help you grow your business. If you want to survive in business without burning yourself out, you can’t try to do everything yourself. In order to have sustained growth year after year, you must focus on your most high-valued activities such as sales.  So, here are the important tips you need to make sure you hire a great outsourcing partner you can trust. 6 Tips for Finding the Right Outsourcing Partner As a small business owner, you may not have a big HR budget, but you can still take these steps to vet your outsourcing partner or new hire before you bring them into your business. 1. Check Their LinkedIn Profile Googling your potential hire or outsourcing partner should be your first step, but you should go deeper and check their LinkedIn profile. It’s like a CV on steroids. You can see the basic outlines of their experience but more importantly, you’ll see how their contacts regard them. Look for recommendations, what content they have shared and what skills they’ve been endorsed for.  Determine if you have any overlapping contacts.… Read more »
  • How to Succeed in Business Without Experience
    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 Rachel Stewart @UnqualifiedTool Rachel started as an unqualified office manager, but over the last decade became the general manager of a $22M restoration company and the CEO of a software development company focused on getting contractors the technology tools they need. In her new book, Unqualified Success, Rachel shares the tools that made all the difference in her achievement in a practical and engaging way. The things she learned the hard way are made available in this easily accessible format for anyone who wants to take their life to the next level. Learn more at http://www.unqualifiedtools.com SmallBizLady:  What are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to achieving success? Rachel M. Stewart:  Most of us think that when we get the results we want in our lives, then we will feel worthy or qualified.  For example, we think when we get the promotion, we will feel successful. But our feelings are created only by the thoughts we think.  If we want to feel successful, we need to change our thoughts, which will then allow us to get the results we want. We have to feel qualified and worthy before we can have the confidence to act and achieve the results and success we want.  We usually have it backward. SmallBizLady: Why do you think mastery of skill is more valuable than formal education? Rachel M. Stewart:  I have been unqualified for essentially every position I have ever held, and every goal I have ever achieved.  I believe that achieving success in life does not stem from fancy (and expensive) education, but rather mastering some very specific traits and habits along the way.  While education may be required for many professions (yes, let’s continue to go to medical school future surgeons), what is even more important is mastering your mind, your beliefs, and your habits. My success came simply because I was willing to work and learn and keep showing up.  I used the word simply, but that does not mean it is easy. It requires the hard work of mastering fear, dealing with failure, and being persistent. SmallBizLady: How does imposter syndrome relate to being an Unqualified Success? Rachel M. Stewart:  Regardless of our resumes or our accomplishments… Read more »
  • 6 Creative Ways to Increase Customer Engagement
    Regardless of the industry, it’s been widely touted that customer acquisition costs are always higher than customer retention costs. What I’m trying to say is that holding on to your existing customers isn’t just easier, it’s also more economical. Sounds like a good business idea to work on improving customer engagement and loyalty, doesn’t it? So, what’s the key to improving your customer loyalty then? The first step is realizing that customer engagement is an incredibly important part of it. The real trick, though, is figuring out the best ways to do that. Grabbing the attention of your customers is easy. But holding on to it long enough to make an impact is the hard part. All of the intense competition out there certainly isn’t making things any easier. So what can you do to differentiate your business from your competitors? How do you keep your customers loyal and coming back for more? Let’s take a look at some key components that your customer retention strategy should definitely include. 1. Start an Employee Advocacy Program It may not seem like the best place to start, but that’s precisely why it’s often overlooked. For better or worse, your customer-facing employees are the faces of your brand. Their interactions with your customers are going to go a long way in determining a customer’s satisfaction. These men and women are your de-facto brand ambassadors. If they feel unmotivated to do their best, your customers are going to pick up on that feeling of apathy. Instituting an employee advocacy program can help your company grow and shape your company culture. People want to trust brands and relate to them. And what better way to humanize your brand than by having your employees talk about their personal stories related to your company? Get your employees to share information about their daily operations and their motivations for working here. This helps build the image of your company as a great workplace where passionate people are doing what they love. And that will help customers connect emotionally connect with your brand. To encourage participation, you can even maintain leader-boards and offer prizes or other incentives. You could judge them on the basis of who posts the most content or receives the most engagement on social media. Landis+Gyr has a great employee advocacy program which you may want to model yours after. Their employees share relevant industry and… Read more »
  • New Google Tools to Grow Your Small Business
    It is harder that ever to promote your business online. No longer is a website that looks good on a mobile device enough—you must also consider investing in video content, SEO and online ads to make sure you get found by your target customer online. As small business owners, we have challenges everyday including cash flow, staffing and managing our online brands with our website. Many of us are tired of snake-oil salespeople promising to get us to the front page of Google or paying for AdWords or Facebook ad campaigns that don’t that deliver. We need easy tools to help us promote our businesses, and Google has provided a new resource to help. Now keep in mind that Google wants to sell you ads, but these Google tools also offer helpful advice for your small business. Introducing Google Tools for Small Business Owners   The internet has created new opportunities for small businesses, but it can be hard to know where to start. Most of our issues come down to saving time and money. To that end, Google has launched Google for Small Business, a suite of Google tools to help your business (including the benefit of helping you transition your Gmail email account into a professional email—i.e. you@yourwebsite.com). This is a new ‘Grow with Google’ initiative to help small businesses find the right Google tools to reach business goals. The website is quite easy to use. You just enter your business name, answer a few questions about your business, and select a goal. It’s Provides Personalized Plans: Then you’ll receive a step-by-step plan of recommended products tailored for you. Google’s services are divided into three areas how to reach more customers with online advertising, create a professional presence with the right Google tools, (G-Suite Tools), and engage more customers with video (Get a free YouTube Channel). The recommendations will include products to help with all three, but with a special focus on the goal that’s most important to you. Kim Spalding,  Global Product Director, Google Small Business Ads, is a former small business owner herself. She joined the internet giant two-years ago and her team launched this new tool.  Spalding explains her goal, “The internet has created new opportunities for small businesses, but it can be hard to know where to start; we just want to help business owners get there faster.”  This new site also provides information… Read more »
  • 5 Preparation Strategies for First-Time Managers
    Congratulations! You’ve just secured your first manager role. You’re no longer responsible for just your own performance, but for the performance of an entire team as well. It’s heady stuff and a little intimidating. That’s good — it helps you grow as a professional and a person. You’ll certainly learn as you go, executing new and broader duties.  Even before your first day though, there are helpful ways you can prepare yourself.  Let’s take a look at our top five preparation strategies for first-time managers. 5 Preparation Strategies for First-Time Managers 1. Learn Everything You Can Devour any learning resources you can get your hands on — management training materials, articles on leadership, exercises in effective communication skills, and the like. Read through your company’s HR policies and employee handbook so that you have a better idea of what to do in any situation. Also, bone up on the latest developments in your area of expertise. If you’re managing developers, can you confidently discuss the full scope of programming language or software tools that your team uses? If you’re in marketing, are you able to evaluate the range of skill sets being utilized by your team, and introduce new ones that can be leveraged for greater success? 2. Get to Know Your Team If you’re being promoted internally then this is easier — you probably already know a little about the people you’ll be working with. If you’re new to the company, then you’ll need some help. Ask for the names of the people on your team and look them up on LinkedIn and elsewhere on the internet (it’s not at all intrusive; in fact, your team is likely looking you up as well). Also, research the people managing you. Get familiar with your immediate boss, and all other executives to whom you might indirectly report. Ask HR for a company organization chart to get a view of all reporting structures. If possible, ask around about some of the key players you’ll be associating within your new role: find out what kind of personalities they have, how they manage, what type of people succeed or fail under their management, and so on. 3. Shift Your Perspective You’ve not focused only on you anymore. Your job has now grown from executing a given set of tasks of your own to helping your employees accomplish their tasks. Take the time to step… Read more »
  • How to Take Over the Family Business
    Ann is a 43-year-old single mom from the east coast. Ann is a great photographer, but no one knows it because she spends most of her time helping to run her parents cleaning business. Recently, at Ann’s parent’s 40th wedding anniversary celebration, her dad made a huge announcement. In his most prideful voice, Ann’s dad said, “My wife and I are retiring at the end of the year and turning over the family business to Ann.” For some people this would be great news, but not for Ann. She likes things just the way they are. She works a few hours in the morning, then spends the rest of her day taking cool pictures of odd and interesting people and events in the community. But now Ann is torn, she really wants to pursue her photography business full-time, but she doesn’t want to disappoint her parents if she decides not to take over the family business. This isn’t a scene from your favorite Netflix series. This is a tough situation that many children of Baby Boomer business owners are faced with every day. Their parents are retiring and expecting them to put their lives aside to take over the family business. Running a family business isn’t a “no brainer.” In fact, many businesses fold after the second generation takes over, and rarely do family businesses survive to the third generation. 6 Things to Consider Before You Take Over the Family Business Your parent’s dream of having you take over the family business can become your personal nightmare if there’s not a strong transition plan. Before you say yes and sign your name on the dotted line to buy the company from your parents, here are a few things you must be crystal clear about before you take over the family business. 1. Decide What You Want to Do Get clear about your personal and professional goals. What do you want to do with your career? Will running the family business make you happy? Are you prepared to buy your parents out? How will your mom or dad handle the transition? Do they respect you enough to really let you run it? Will they support your leadership? Make sure you really want the job before you take it. 2. Get Ready to Not Know Everything Even though you may have grown up in and around the family business, you likely still need… Read more »
  • How to Protect the Intellectual Property in Your Small Business
    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 about intellectual property and trademark with Andrea Evans @evansiplaw. Andrea is the owner of the IP law firm, The Law Firm of Andrea Hence Evans, LLC. She is a graduate of George Washington Law School, Spelman College, and Georgia Tech. For more information: www.evansiplaw.com/book SmallBizLady: What is intellectual property (IP)? Andrea Evans: Intellectual property is divided into three types – patents, trademarks, and copyrights. Patents protect inventions. Trademarks protect brands. And copyrights protect written works. SmallBizLady: What types of things can be trademarked? Andrea Evans: A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols, or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. Names, words, images, sounds, objects, scents, and colors that are used to identify and distinguish goods and services and that are used as a source identifier can be protected by federal trademarks. SmallBizLady: What is the benefit of registering your trademark federally with the USPTO? Andrea Evans: The key benefit of federal registration is the legal presumption of ownership of the mark and the exclusive right to use the mark for the goods and services identified on the federal registration. SmallBizLady: How do you determine the cost of your trademark application? Andrea Evans: The USPTO has 45 classes. Each class has a fee starting at $225/class.  Expect to pay attorneys fees plus the USPTO fees. SmallBizLady: What makes a trademark weak or strong? Andrea Evans: Brands are on a spectrum ranging from weak to strong. Weak terms are generic, and generic terms can never be trademarked! Consider creating a word or using a term that is arbitrary, similar to Apple for computers. SmallBizLady: What’s a common myth about trademarks? Andrea Evans: A common myth is that owning a domain name means that you own the trademark and vice versa. The truth is that owning a domain name does not necessarily mean that you own the trademark or vice versa. If the domain name functions as a source identifier, it can be registered similar to match.com. SmallBizLady: Is a trademark search necessary? Andrea Evans: Although it is not required, it is recommended to search your trademark before filing a… Read more »
  • 5 Small Business PR Tips for Dealing with the Media
    We all know there’s nothing more damaging to a brand or company than a PR disaster. While PR mishaps can vary in damage done, being prepared to handle the media can help to prevent or mitigate potentially detrimental exposure. If your company has already committed a PR faux pas, the good news is that it’s likely to be relatively short-lived. Despite this, some mistakes can lead to long-term damage and possibly even bankruptcy. 5 Small Business PR Tips When you’re a small company without a PR representative or firm hired full-time, having a basic PR toolkit can prevent your brand from potentially harmful media exposure. Thwart future mishaps by memorizing these small business PR tips and adopting them as your PR bible. Tip #1: “Off the Record” Doesn’t Exist There’s no such thing as “off the record.” If you don’t want your audience knowing something about your business, don’t let it leave your lips. Many states don’t have legislation requiring that both parties are aware they are being recorded, and many camera crews will even continue filming once the interview has ended. Reporters are looking for a story and that story is often going to be rooted in controversy. If you’re off-the-record comment provides them with a story, they’re going to use it. Being “off record” goes beyond speaking with a reporter. If you’re in a studio or near a reporter or cameraman or anywhere besides the absolute privacy of your home, be aware that you’re being watched. This clip of Sainsbury’s CEO caught singing “We’re in the Money” to himself before the Asda merger interview proves just that. Even in the event where you feel you can trust the reporter, the best practice is to not say or do anything that you wouldn’t want to be publicly exposed. Pro Tip: “Treading through a tough position can always be resolved when deliberating on the facts of an event. Display facts about the truth to dispel any wrong speculation. There isn’t a need to speak in-depth about hypotheticals or tangents. Stay focused on the facts, as opposed to stirring the pot and denying or accepting any controversy. Stay away from feeding into bait that the media may produce. If you’re resilient and consistent with your fact-based response, there isn’t much room for disbelief.” – Leo Friedman, CEO and Founder of iPromo Tip #2: Always Stay Away from Religion, Politics, and Gender… Read more »
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