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  • What is an Alexa Flash Briefing and Why Do Small Business Owners Need to Know About Them?
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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 Jen Lehner, @jenrgy. Jen is a digital marketing strategist specializing in helping business owners create an effective marketing strategy using social media and digital tools. She also teaches others how to create online courses to monetize their expertise, and speaks at businesses and universities about the fast-changing world of digital media. Learn more at https://jenlehner.com/ SmallBizLady: What is an Alexa flash briefing? Jen Lehner: A flash briefing is a short audio clip (10 minutes or less) that is broadcast over an Amazon device like an Amazon Echo or an Amazon Dot. You don’t have to have one of these devices to create or listen to an Alexa flash briefing. You can actually listen through the Alexa App. Usually, these are little news clips or industry tips. SmallBizLady: Why do small businesses need to know about flash briefings? Jen Lehner: This new marketing channel allows us to reach a whole new audience that we would never otherwise be able to reach, for free. Pretend it’s 2005, and I’m urging you to start a YouTube channel or a podcast. Knowing what you know now, would you do it? Of course, you would! That’s what this is. It’s a huge opportunity, and by this time next year, the opportunity to stand out won’t be as big as it is now. SmallBizLady: How do people listen to the briefings? Jen Lehner: I think that’s what makes this so amazing. Your listeners enable your briefing in the Amazon store and then when they want to listen, they say “Alexa, play my flash briefing.” It’s so easy for them to access that if your broadcast is good. You can quickly become part of the listener’s daily routine. SmallBizLady: This sounds super technical…is it difficult to set up? Jen Lehner: Not at all. Setting it up in Amazon takes about 45 minutes, and then you never have to do that again. The actual content creation is so easy that you could technically record and upload from your phone if you want to. I don’t really recommend that, but it can be done. SmallBizLady: In your book, you mention that there are search engine optimization (SEO) benefits to a flash briefing. Tell me more about that.… Read more »
  • 4 Hiring Tips for Finding the Best Talent for Your Small Business
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    There are few things that are more stressful than being short-staffed. Every hire you make feels like a desperate bid to keep your business up and running. That’s when recruiting makes the biggest difference in your business. You need to attract the best talent and not just whatever is available on the market. There are a few strategies and tools you can use in your hiring process that will help you build your own team with the best professionals out there. This blog will share hiring tips and explain how you can leverage hiring tools to your advantage. 4 Small Business Hiring Tips 1. Use an Online Scheduling Calendar Make it easy to schedule calls and interviews with candidates by using an online appointment booking system. This type of calendar allows you to set your availability for an interview and gives candidates a clear view of what times they can schedule an interview for. They can see the time that also works best for them, click on it, and simply reserve a spot for an interview. This makes things so much easier than having to go back and forth with emails or calls. There are much better options out there. Make sure you pick an online booking software that includes many extra features including automatic appointment reminders via SMS or email. Additional features that could come in handy are creating automatic buffer times on your schedule, so you never have to worry about hosting meetings back-to-back. 2. Make Your Job Posting as Detailed as Possible One of the biggest mistakes that recruiters can make is not being specific about what they want in a candidate. Clarity in the very beginning should be desired and expected from both parties in the hiring process. That’s why it is extremely valuable to do a little bit more work at the beginning of the process by outlining your exact expectations for the position. This listing should include all skills and character traits you are looking for in a successful candidate. This could be language skills that are necessary or what specific programs that require proficiency. But more importantly, you should include a description of what traits you think would work well with your team. A cultural fit is just as important as a skill fit. Keep in mind that you are also selling the concept of the job so you should make the job… Read more »
  • Top 10 Small Business Experts to Follow Online
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    If you are looking for advice and information to grow your small business, there are people who have made this their life’s work. I am proud to say that most of them are people whose books and blogs I read often. Like me, they are on a mission to end small business failure. Here are my 10 favorite small business experts whom I think you should follow online. Top 10 Small Business Experts to Follow Online 1. Barry Moltz Barry Moltz gets owners growing again by unlocking their long forgotten potential. With decades of entrepreneurial experience in his own business ventures, as well as consulting countless other entrepreneurs, Barry has discovered the formula to get stuck business owners unstuck and marching forward. Learn more at www.barrymoltz.com and follow him on Twitter or Facebook. 2. Ramon Ray Ramon Ray is the founder of Smart Hustle Media and Smallbiztechnology.com. Ramon is an entrepreneur, best selling author, and global speaker. He’s authored four books, sold two companies and loves burnt pancakes. Ramon’s latest book is The Celebrity CEO: How Entrepreneurs Can Thrive by Building a Community and a Strong Personal Brand. You can learn more about Ramon here and follow him on Twitter, or Facebook. 3. Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is CEO of Small Business Trends, an online resource where small business success is delivered daily through valuable and insightful content geared towards the small business owner. She also owns BizSugar.com, a community for small businesses to share content. You can follow Anita on Twitter or LinkedIn. 4. Melinda Emerson Melinda. Emerson, known as SmallBizLady, is America’s #1 Small Business Expert. She has been a thriving entrepreneur for 20 years and is an internationally known keynote speaker. Melinda is the author of three books including her latest Fix Your Business. Her blog is www.succeedasyourownboss.com She is the creator and host of #Smallbizchat, the longest running live chat on Twitter for small business owners. You can follow Melinda on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram 5. John Jantsch John Jantsch is a small business marketing speaker, marketing consultant, and best selling author of Duct Tape Marketing, Duct Tape Selling, The Commitment Engine & The Referral Engine. You can learn more about John and his work at https://ducttapemarketing.com  and follow him on Twitter or Facebook. 6. Rieva Lesonsky, Rieva Lesonsky is President and Founder of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was Editorial… Read more »
  • Perfecting Your Small Business Sales: Hiring Salespeople, Writing Sales Copy, and Building a Business You Can Sell
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    This week on #Smallbizchat LIVE, our show featured three guests: How to Hire Your First Salesperson with Suzanne Paling, @suzannepaling, How to Write Copy That Sells with SaDon Long, @LongSaDon, and How to Build a Business You Can Sell with Ash Shukla, @Ashshuklabiz. 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. Suzanne Paling is a recognized leader in sales management who has over 25 years of experience in sales management consulting and coaching. She has helped more than 55 companies improve their sales performance and processes. Clients include product and service firms in the manufacturing, software, publishing, distribution, medical, and construction industries. Docurated selected Suzanne’s blog as one of their “Top 50 Sales Management Blogs.” She writes for Entrepreneur.com and American Business Magazine, publishes a monthly newsletter and was profiled in The New York Times Small Business column. Suzanne is the author of two award-winning books The Accidental Sales Manager, (Entrepreneur Press) and The Sales Leader’s Problem Solver (Career Press). Learn more here: suzanne.paling@salesmanagementservices.com SmallBizLady: When hiring a sales representative what’s the first thing a small business owner should do? Suzanne Paling: Write a comprehensive, specific and clear job description.  Don’t search your files for an older version, make a few quick changes, and use that.  Think about where your business is today, right now, and craft a new job description. This exercise informs the rest of the interview process. SmallBizLady: What else should be on the hiring manager’s to-do list? Suzanne Paling: Determine minimum performance standards for the position. How many conversations with decision makers / product demos / proposals do they need to have / send per week to achieve quota?  Begin with a reasonable number for each when the rep starts then gradually increase the standards each month until they are at the level of a tenured salesperson at your company. Complete the compensation plan before you begin the interview process. When candidates ask about comp, and the plan isn’t finished, it makes a company leader look disorganized and unsure of themselves.  In-demand top reps may choose another employer. Hiring managers worry that a finalized plan means you can’t negotiate with a perspective candidate if need be.  That’s not true. Leave some room for compromise. Select and use a… Read more »
  • #Smallbizchat is LIVE on Facebook May 8th for #SmallBusinessWeek
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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.  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.  May is #SmallBusinessMonth and we celebrate national #SmallBusinessWeek from May 5th to 12th. In honor of this week dedicated to small business, we have a special Facebook Live #SmallBizChat event happening on May 8th. We are bringing in three guests experts to help us get focused in on sales! So, if you are looking to boost your sales and marketing so you can grow your business, you won’t want to miss this LIVE event. Here is a list of who is joining us on May 8th: How to Hire Your First Salesperson with Suzanne Paling, @suzannepaling Suzanne Paling is a recognized leader in sales management who has over 25 years of experience in sales management consulting and coaching. She has helped more than 55 companies improve their sales performance and processes. Clients include product and service firms in the manufacturing, software, publishing, distribution, medical, and construction industries. Docurated selected Suzanne’s blog as one of their “Top 50 Sales Management Blogs.” She writes for Entrepreneur.com and American Business Magazine, publishes a monthly newsletter and was profiled in The New York Times Small Business column. Suzanne is the author of two award-winning books The Accidental Sales Manager, (Entrepreneur Press) and The Sales Leader’s Problem Solver (Career Press). Learn more here: suzanne.paling@salesmanagementservices.com   How to Write Copy that Sells with SaDon Long, @LongSadon SaDon Long is a Bestselling Author and Founder of SaDon Long Solutions. He Specializes In Developing Sales Campaigns and Copy For Small Businesses. He helps entrepreneurs develop effective strategies to choose the right ads, relationships, and promotions to compete online. www.SaDonLong.com How to Build a Business You Can Sell with Ash Shukla, @Ashshuklabiz Ash Shukla moved to the US from India in 1989, with just $20 in his pocket and not a word of English and today he’s become a 7-figure business success story. He is an Amazon best-selling author with his book “Sell Like Crazy.” He is a nationally recognized speaker who built a successful financial services business, which he recently sold.  Today Ash… Read more »
  • Taking Care of Your Mental Health as a Business Owner
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    Running a business is a mental and physical marathon in itself. You need to constantly be at the top of your game in order to best serve your clients, your employees, and yourself. New challenges and opportunities each day can be exhausting if you are not taking the best possible care of yourself. If you often feel low on energy, anxious, or stressed, consider changing your lifestyle or asking for help. These challenges can slowly snowball into larger issues that have real consequences in your personal and professional world. When you have the habits and support you need to feel your best, your business and health will thank you. Healthy Eating Habits Creating healthy habits as a business owner requires thinking about how your behaviors impact your work and your time spent recharging. By being strategic in choosing which habits to focus on, you waste less time worrying that you are not doing enough and can be confident that your efforts are giving you a return on your investment. The food you eat should serve the purpose of giving you energy, making you feel good, and nourishing your body. Choose from these options as you build your wellness routine: Learn easy, healthy recipes that you can prep ahead of time Take supplements as needed for essential vitamins and minerals Pick specific take-out options in advance, so your last minute meals are healthy Order from a healthy meal delivery service if you are usually strapped for cooking time Fitness Many business owners struggle with building a fitness routine that works well with their professional schedules. You are technically always on the clock when your business relies on you, so be strategic with your time and set healthy boundaries with work and life. It is easy to push fitness to the side or claim you don’t have the time, but there are easy options for you to work into your schedule if they are a priority. Prioritizing fitness is also easier when you remember the positive effects of releasing endorphins into your body. Feeling your best thanks to a great fitness routine allows you the mental clarity to show up for your business. Implement easy fitness habits such as: Walking during phone meetings Listening to audiobooks while you run Stretching before your day begins Taking fitness classes with people close in your network Doing yoga to unwind after a long day Professional… Read more »
  • 7 Ways to Celebrate National Small Business Week 2019
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    This week marks a high holiday on the small business calendar. From May 5th – May 11th, it is National Small Business Week 2019. For more than 50 years, National Small Business Week has recognized the critical contributions of America’s entrepreneurs and small business owners. More than half of Americans either own or work for a small business, and they create about two out of every three new jobs in the U.S. each year. As part of National Small Business Week, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) takes the opportunity to highlight the impact of outstanding entrepreneurs, small business owners, and others from all 50 states and U.S. territories. Every day, they’re working to grow small businesses, create 21st-century jobs, drive innovation, and increase America’s global competitiveness. This week is a celebration of small businesses in the U.S., and you need to get in on the action. Here are six ways you can celebrate National Small business week. Reach out to Your Customers: Educate your customers about National Small Business Week. Offer a special sale or host an event for your existing customers in honor of the celebration. Make it a customer appreciation event. Attend Small Business Events in Your Local Community:Networking is always an important activity. Check your local chamber and small business support organizations calendar so that you can make new connections that can lead to opportunities. Pitch the Media: You are a small business, and this is your time to shine. Draft a press release, and reach out to the media. Make sure you have a hook. Have you hit a major milestone this year in revenue, made the Inc. 5000 list, have you been awarded a significant contract, reached significant years in business or launched a new book or new product this year? These are all circumstances worthy of media coverage. Join #SmallBizChat Live on my SmallBizLady Facebook page Wed. May 8th at 8 pm ET where I’ll interview these three special guests who will share the latest tools and tips to grow and recession-proof your small business. Attend FREE Webinars: This year SCORE and the SBA is offering a 2-day training event for 2019 National Small Business Week Virtual Conference! If you need help with online advertising, growing brand awareness, doing business with the federal government, managing your cash flow check out the series of webinars and register which starts Tuesday, May 7th at 11 am… Read more »
  • How to Develop a Clear Business Strategy for Your Small Business
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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 Janneh Wright, @primusbus.  Janneh is an entrepreneur, author, advocate for better business practices within Black communities, and owner of PRIMUS Business Management. He has over fifteen years of experience leading nonprofit organizations. For more information visit: http://primusco.com. SmallBizLady: Why is having the right business strategy important? Janneh Wright: There were approximately 27MM small businesses in the U.S. in 2012.  There are now 30.2MM small businesses today. According to research, the five-year business survival rate is a little over 40%.  Those without the right business strategy are shortlisted for ending. A business strategy encompasses looking at where you are where you want to be and how to bridge the gap. It also takes a deep dive into the competitive landscape, the consumers that you serve and assesses their needs and how you are meeting their needs. There is leadership consideration, branding, and marketing considerations, financial considerations. Without these assessments and a corresponding strategy to win, success is difficult especially for minority-owned businesses and social enterprises. SmallBizLady: What do business owners have to take into consideration as they set their strategies? Janneh Wright: It’s important for business owners to look at their skillsets.  Some business owners believe that because they are good at their trade, they can transfer it into a business.  In my book, I reference this as leadership failure. The belief that you know how to fix a car does not mean you can easily open and maintain an auto repair shop. Therefore, as you begin the work to set your strategy, you must take into consideration your strengths and the strengths of any members of your team. Understand where there are weaknesses and ensure that plugging those weaknesses are part of the strategy. SmallBizLady: Setting the strategy sounds like a lot is involved, how do business owners, especially those in smaller organizations get it done? Janneh Wright: Many business owners are so invested in their businesses that they take on more than they should.  I alluded to this a little earlier, but a business owner needs to understand what they are good at and learn to delegate the rest.  There is a quote that says, “deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.” Business… Read more »
  • 3 Ways Being Reachable Improves Customer Trust
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    In this hyper-connected and competitive environment, keeping your customers satisfied is non-negotiable. According to a Walker study, by the year 2020 providing great customer experience and building long-term relationships will be the major differentiators for your business, overtaking price and product features as the key differentiating factors. A relationship becomes strong only with trust and openness. Your relationship with your customers is no different. Staying accessible, being easily reachable to customers, and engaging with them at each stage of their customer journey are the first steps to building customer trust. Here are a few important reasons why you should care about being reachable to your audience. 3 Ways Being Reachable Improves Customer Trust 1. It Provides Convenience Convenience is a critical factor which impacts the customer experience and their purchase decisions. Imagine yourself from the customer’s perspective. When you’re looking for a specific product or service, how would you evaluate similar businesses? One product’s website offers answers to FAQs, is easy-to-navigate, and has a responsive email/phone number for support. Meanwhile, the other website offers great content and online experience, but chooses to hide all contact information, making it impossible to reach out to them. Undoubtedly, you’ll choose the first product over the second, not because you have any issues or questions regarding the product now, but because when you do have questions in the future, you always have the option to reach out to them. Staying easily reachable and sharing contact information on relevant pages of the website gives the idea of perceived convenience and it can work wonders for building customer trust. 2. It Adds Credibility to Your Business Profile Every single customer interaction impacts a customer’s perception of your brand, and your business wants to stand out as credible and trustworthy. Your website is your online workspace where customers interact with you and it should reflect your brand values. Make sure your contact information is easy to find and give links to multiple platforms to reach you, including social media pages. Second, build credibility by sharing reviews from existing customers. You do not manage a business in isolation, so it’s not possible to build customer trust just with your own actions. Use a combination of tools like testimonial pages and links to product/service review websites to allow prospects to see how your existing customers perceive your products/services. Reading reviews (including negative reviews) boosts your credibility in customer’s eyes… Read more »
  • How to Evaluate an MLM Business Opportunity
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    Multi-Level Marketing businesses, also known as MLM businesses, are often the first entrepreneurship opportunity people are drawn to when trying to make side money. If you pick the right business and are really fired up, perhaps your side hustle could become your full-time revenue stream.  However, before you jump in feet first, you need to evaluate if the MLM business opportunity is the right thing for you. What are some of the top MLM businesses you ask? Have you ever heard of Amway, PrimeAmerica, Avon, Metaleuca, MaryKay, Rodan and Fields, Arbonne, BeachBody, Jeunesse and Herbalife…to name a few. If you are considering one of these kinds of business opportunities, make sure you ask the person recruiting you a few of these questions up front: How long have you been in this business? How much time do you spend on this business weekly? What is the minimum monthly order requirement? How long it takes to make real money? Can you share the statistics about how many people are still in business after a year? MLM business opportunities require upfront fees, monthly maintenance fees, inventory order minimums, and lots of your time. You must have or develop a customer base. Often, they’ll train you to go out into the world to prey on your friends and family to do business with you or better yet—sell for you in your downstream. That’s where the real money is in this business model. It’s all about the people you sign-up underneath you. Beware if there’s more emphasis on getting people to sell for you rather than the value of the products or services. MLM businesses offer a proven system. However, you will pay money, buy products to sell and ultimately, it’s someone else’s dream. And did I mention it requires a lot of your time? Weekly meetings and conference calls are required. Moreover, direct selling involves live selling on social media these days, too. 6 Benefits of MLM Businesses Multi-streams of revenue: People who believe in MLM businesses are sold on the dream of ultimate wealth from residual income. Multi-streams of revenue are the BEST type of income a person can literally achieve. Small amount of financial risk: There is a certain amount of inherited risk involved when you become an entrepreneur. Low overhead costs: Most MLM business are home-based, and thus there is low overhead costs and minimal inventory, so storage is not need.… Read more »
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