Sunday, December 30, 2012

My 2013 New Year's Resolutions

2012 is almost over.  It's the time of year when everyone starts thinking about New Year's Resolutions.  Even me.  Many people will start Tuesday morning with a long list of things they are going to do differently in 2013.  Unfortunately, in a few months, just about everyone will have given up on those resolutions as they fall back into their old habits.

That's why I prefer to use the last few days of the year to set goals for the coming year.  Unlike resolutions, which are really little more than wishes and daydreams, goals are specific and measurable and can provide a way to get where you want to be.

With that in mind, I decided to share my goals for the 2013 in the hope that some of them may inspire you to set some New Year's Goals of your own.

1.  Create a 1-page strategic plan for 2013.  I tend to get wordy at times so learning to condense my plan for the year to a single page is going to be challenging!  But it will be wonderful to have something I can put my hands on every day, look at every day, and carry with me anywhere, to remind me of where I'm headed and how I'm going to get there.

2.  Take Bob and Austin for a walk 3-times a week.  What kind of business goal is this you may ask?  Well, I've put on some weight (ok a lot of weight) this past year.  And my last doctor checkup indicated my blood pressure is on the high side.  I've been more tired and less focused lately.  How can I continue to move my business forward if I'm not in my best health?  The walks will help with the weight gain and spending time outside with my "boys" will help relieve stress.  Both of these should help lower my blood pressure and get me back to feeling like my old self and ready to work.

3.  Attend at least one business-building seminar.  I'm hoping I will be able to get to one of Ken McArthur's events.  I am currently not able to travel as much as I like but I always learn so much at these that I am determined to make it to at least one this year.

4.  Use some of the ideas provided in Bev Mahone's great book "How to Get on the News Without Committing Murder" to get some FREE PR.

5.  Advertise - every day!

6.  Give my blogs a makeover.  I recently finished ProBlogger's "31 Days To Build a Better Blog" and while I did apply much of what I learned, life - in the form of an automobile accident - got in the way.  Since even the little I did complete significantly improved traffic to my blogs, I can't wait to try the rest of the ideas!

7.  Devote one blog post per month to promoting my fellow entrepreneurs.  It may not help grow my business but part of my mission is to help others grow theirs.  Here's my chance!

8.  Express gratitude daily.  Several years ago, I did a teleseminar with Karol Avalon on how an attitude of gratitude is essential for business success.  I have forgotten that lately.  It's time to bring it back to my business. 

9.  Get off Twitter!  No, not really.  I love it!  But it's time I learn to really use Facebook and LinkedIn and all the other social media platforms available.  Ok, maybe not ALL of them.  But it is time to expand my social network!  Facebook, here I come!

10.  Give my website a facelift.  A recent comment from a visitor made me think.  Just because I'm a baby boomer, my site doesn't have to look old.  It can be informative and still be fun and engaging.  Time for a makeover.

That's my list for 2013.  Do you have a "resolution" to share? 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Finding Your Guru

Starting your own business comes with its share of challenges.  You will make plenty of mistakes along the way.  One way to minimize the number of missteps is to find a good mentor or coach to help you.  But every time I open my email, I have a message from some new "expert" ready to share his wisdom - and latest product - with me, for a price.  It seems the internet is overflowing with experts.  How do you know who to believe?  In an earlier post, I provided a list of my top 10 favorite "gurus".  These are the individuals whose advice helped me get started and I highly recommend each and every one of them.  They worked for me.  I own many of their products and books.  But that doesn't mean they will work for you.  How do you choose?

 Whether hiring a coach, purchasing a product, signing up for a seminar, or simply subscribing to a newsletter, there are certain things to look for to help you make the right choice.  Following these steps will help you succeed faster, and keep you from spending money on books and seminars you won't ever use or having an inbox full of newsletters you never read.

1.  Does the information offered fill your needs?  When I started, I needed to know how to build a website, where to find products, and how to get online.  A course on teleseminars or posting videos, while good information, was not what I needed at the moment.  Your guru should be an expert in the area you need at the time.  Example - Ken Evoy (SiteBuildIt!) for web design or Darren Rowse (ProBlogger) for creating an online presence through blogging.

2.  Do they actually provide good information?  As I stated earlier, I get hundreds of emails every day and many of them are from the latest expert "sharing" the latest tip, trick, or trend to grow my business.  But many times, further reading of their email or website reveals very little useful information and lots of self-promotion.  I realize that we are all in business to make money but the best gurus aren't afraid to provide useful information to anyone - for free!  Think Ken McArthur or Allan Gardyne.

3.  Do they tell the truth?  If you are being promised riches overnight (or in a week or even a month) with no effort, no investment, no skills, and no knowledge. you are being lied to.  There are many ways to make money online.  But they all require work or the money to hire someone to do it for you.  They require the skill and knowledge to create a business plan - or the money to hire someone to do it for you.  You will need to build websites, market your products or services, deliver your goods to your customers - or find someone to do it for you.  And beware the gurus who spend all their time "proving" how much money they made.  Anyone can photoshop bank statements or checks showing millions in income - even me (and I'm technologically challenged!).  The real experts don't have to convince you they make money.  They are to busy running their businesses and showing others how to build theirs.

4.  Can you do what they do?  A multi-level marketing expert I used to follow suggested the way to build my network marketing business was by purchasing leads and then calling these people every day and making my pitch.  She sure was successful, but I hate cold-calling with a passion!  Although these were "qualified" leads, the thought of calling someone I didn't know and trying to interest them in my business made me absolutely nauseous.  Needless to say, we soon parted professional company. 

5.  Can they teach?  Just because someone is an expert in their field does not mean they know how to share that knowledge with others in a way that is understandable to you.

6.  Do they run in the right circles?  And by that I don't necessarily mean the "in" crowd.  I mean do they know other experts they can introduce you to.  The best example I can give of this is Ken McArthur and his jvAlert events.  I've had the pleasure of attending a couple of these and it's a veritable "who's who" of internet marketing experts.  Ken knows his stuff, and what he doesn't know - well he knows the people who do.

7.  Are you comfortable with them?  This is an important consideration.  Recently, I was going to start working with a new coach.  I liked his program.  He was recommended by many of my friends.  But after talking to him on the phone, I realized I didn't like him!  He had a way of speaking that made me feel like I was just the latest check mark towards his quota of new clients for the week.  Perhaps it would have changed if I had actually started working with him.  But I just couldn't get past that first impression.  You must be comfortable with your coach or mentor or you will just be wasting your time.

Finding your guru can take some time and effort, but it is worth it.  Do your homework.  Ask for recommendations.  Check them out.  Choose the one that's right for you.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Conquering the Challenges

Anyone looking at me today would think that starting a home-based or online business is a walk in the proverbial park.  That wasn't the case.  There were many challenges along the way.  And if you are just getting started, I'm sure you are experiencing many of the same issues.

1.  Support.  The biggest challenge I had when starting out was getting people to take me seriously.  I don't mean prospective customers or clients.  I mean family and friends.  It's difficult to start a business without some support from those around you.  Support like a spouse who will walk the dogs so you can work, or a friend who will pick the kids up from school while you meet with a client.  But it is often difficult to have any credibility with those who know you best - especially if you have no prior business experience.  It took me quite a while to convince my family that I was serious about this and to show them I could be successful.  But as time went by and I didn't give up and as I slowly started actually earning an income, the belief - and the support - came.  Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to overcome this obstacle except be persistent, be patient, share your successes, and have faith.

2.  Time.  Like me, many of you are starting your businesses part time while still working your regular job.  And if you have a family as well, then finding time to actually build your business can be challenging.  Too many will simply take time from other things like sleep or family to devote to your business.  But you can't do this forever and eventually it will take its toll and something will suffer - your health, your relationships, or the business you are trying to build.  Don't try to steal time for your business.  Simply vow to do one thing every day to move your business forward.  On days when you don't have much time, it can be a small task like reading about your niche, or placing an ad.  On days when you have more time to spare, tackle the larger tasks.  But make sure you do at least one thing EVERY day.

3.  Space.  Depending on the type of business you start, you could require some space to run it.  At the very least you will probably need some sort of office space.  The good news is that with today's technology, almost anyplace can be an office.  When I first started, I worked from a little computer desk in a corner of our bedroom.  Then we built an addition on our house and I had a loft area to use as an office.  But today, with my laptop and smartphone,  I often find I am working in my car, or the local Starbucks, or in the living room while my husband watches television.  The products I sell are mostly digital and those that aren't are shipped directly from the manufacturer so there is no space needed for inventory or storage.

4.  Knowledge.  I spent the bulk of my career as a Navy cryptologist and Russian linguist.  So when it came time to start a business of my own, I didn't exactly have a lot of experience or knowledge.  I could send email and knew my way around the internet somewhat but that was about it. 
Fortunately, there are plenty of books, classes, and online resources where you can gain the knowledge you need.  I recommend many of them in this blog and at BoomerBizCoach Recommends.

5.  Tools and Equipment.  No matter what niche you choose for your business, you will need some resources.  My business is almost exclusively online, so all I really need is a computer.  And although I resisted forever, I would now be lost without my smartphone.  Fortunately, an adequate computer can be had relatively inexpensively these days.  If you are continuing to work while you start your business, put some money aside each payday to help cover the costs of purchasing what you need until you start earning income from your business.  Or you may be able to rent what you need or borrow from friends and family.  Don't let necessities (like bills) go so you can put the money towards your business.  And don't think you have to have the top of the line gadgets while you are getting started.      

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Worst Day EVER!

I was already late for a meeting with a prospective client.  Although I rarely oversleep, I always set my alarm, just in case.  So of course, the one day I didn't would be the one day I just did not wake up.  And now, here I was, stuck in the morning traffic jam.  I called my prospect on my cell phone and there was no answer so I left a short voicemail stating I was en route but was caught in traffic and would be a few minutes late.  I then called the coffee shop we were meeting at and asked them to page my prospect.  Again, no answer.  After hanging up, I decided to try to get around the traffic by taking the next exit and driving through town.

For those of you who don't know, I am what I like to call "directionally challenged."  In other words, as my husband says, I can get lost crossing the street.  And that is exactly what happened.  After driving several minutes in what I was sure was the correct direction, I had to admit I was hopelessly lost in a maze of dead-end streets and roads with names I didn't recognize.  I drove a little further and came to an intersection.  Still not recognizing anything around me, I decided to go back the way I had come.  I was already so late now that there was no chance to salvage the meeting.  All I had to do was turn around.  And luckily, just down the road to the left was a gas station where I could do just that.  I made the left turn and started down the road to the gas station and suddenly all the oncoming cars started honking their horns.  I glanced at the dashboard of my car to see if there was something to indicate why they were trying to get my attention.  I HAD been hearing a funny "beep" for the last little bit and so I thought maybe there was something wrong with my car.  But everything looked normal.  And then as I looked up, the 'One Way" sign caught my eye.  I was on a one way street - and driving in the wrong direction!  With all of my attention focused on trying to figure out where I was I had missed it and made the wrong turn.  Fortunately, I was only a few feet from the gas station at this point and so I just continued until I could pull in and turn around.  I decided to call my prospect one more time and that's when I discovered what the "beep" was.  My cell phone battery had run down.  I had forgotten to plug it into the charger the night before.  And the car charger was still in my suitcase from my last trip out of town.  Face flaming red from embarrassment, I went inside to ask directions back to the highway.

The young man inside was kind enough not to laugh at my mistake.  The police officer who pulled in right behind me and was writing down my license number when I came back out was not so kind and proceeded to issue me a ticket for reckless driving.  My prospect was less than impressed and declined to schedule a second meeting.  And I got a lecture from my husband about not using the GPS system he had just bought for my car and for not knowing how to use the one on my phone AND for the traffic ticket.  But none of them were as hard on me as I was on myself.  Because I knew that most of this could have been prevented with a little thought and planning.

1.  I am not a morning person.  Knowing this, I should not have scheduled a meeting first thing in the morning if it was preventable.  I needed to be at my most alert and functional and morning is not that time for me.

2.  Once I knew I had a morning meeting scheduled, I should have double checked to ensure the alarm was set.  If I had left the house on time, I would have missed the worst of the traffic.

3.  Knowing that I am easily lost, I should have never left the bypass.  I knew where I was going and I just needed to stay on track.  I might have been a little bit late but I could may have been able to smooth that over.  Hours late because I got lost was a bit harder to explain.

4.  If I had put the GPS in my car when my husband gave it to me, I could have been directed right to my destination.  Knowing how to use the one on my phone was pointless since I had forgotten to charge it the night before!

5.  My husband had mentioned several times that I should get a second car charger for my phone and just leave it in the car.  But I assured him that I always remembered to put it back if I took it along on a trip to use in the rental car.  Except today... 

Despite the embarrassment and humiliation I felt at appearing so unprofessional to my prospect - and for confirming all those things men think about women drivers - I was able to learn some lessons from this incident.  I never schedule meetings before noon if I can avoid it.  I make sure I know exactly where I am going, sometimes even driving there the day before just to make sure I can find it.  I set both the bedside alarm and the alarm on my cell phone at night if I need to get up early.  I have learned to use all the apps on my phone - including GPS.  And the car charger never leaves my car. 

Everyone makes mistakes in business.  Hopefully, yours aren't quite the source of jokes as much as mine were.  (The one way sign for my birthday was cute, guys, really).  But if you can learn from your mistakes, you might find that they weren't so bad after all.  After paying the fine for my ticket, admitting to my husband that he was right - I really needed to learn to use all the technology available to me, and after retelling the story to my prospect (much to the amusement of  her husband!), all is well.  My prospect - while still not a client - is now a trusted friend and member of my support team.  My husband makes sure I have the latest in gadgets for birthdays and anniversaries.  And I have a very cool one way sign in my office to remind me - always think ahead.  Always be prepared.  Always stay on track.  And if these fail, remain calm, observe your surroundings, listen to those around you, and don't be afraid to ask for directions.      

Sunday, November 18, 2012

I Love to Share My Story

How does a small town girl with absolutely NO business experience become an entrepreneur and business coach?  You do what you gotta do to take care of your family!

My mom and dad worked hard all of their lives.  Dad worked in factories, as a groundskeeper at the local golf club, on construction sites, and as a janitor at the local hospital.  Mom did everything from factory work to working as a cashier at the local supermarket.  And yet, even with two incomes, times were often hard with 3 kids in the family.  So later, as their health failed and they had no retirement to speak of, (my dad received $285 a month pension from the hospital), they had no safety net.  That's how dad wound up at my house.

When Mom passed away in 2000, Dad was in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease.  I knew he would not be able to take care of himself but no problem.  He had his pension and social security.  We would bring him to Arkansas and find him a nice assisted living facility that he could stay in close to us.  I will spare you the horror stories of nursing home care and assisted living facilities.  (Nothing like calling to see how your dad is and being told that he is missing!).  I'm sure there are wonderful facilities available - if you can pay for them.  But we felt we had no other choice but to care for him at home. 

I live in the "country."  Not too far from town, but far enough that things like Meals on Wheels and other services were not available.  Caring for Dad meant finding a way to be with him and yet still make a living.  Because even with two incomes, times were sometimes tight with 2 kids and Dad to care for.  I tried several different work at home "opportunities", until I finally found a legitimate business that let me work out of my home.  And so I went to work for one of the largest site selection and event planning companies in the world.  Everything was going well.  And then 9/11/2001 came and a recession and companies stopped having meetings. I continued in the business for a few more years.  But I was having to leave home - and my dad - more often to get business and even then I still wasn't getting the business I needed.  Meetings were still smaller and less frequent than when I started.  Except for one group of clients I had picked up by chance - the internet marketers.  Not only were they still having events, they were having more and more events all the time.  Then I was invited to attend one of these events by a client.  Curious to see what they were all about, I went.  And it was the decision that started everything and changed my life.

It was at the jvAlert event in Orlando that I met Ken McArthur and his friends.  And I discovered that contrary to what I thought, you don't have to be a business major to start a home business.  You don't have to be rich or super-smart or know all the "right" people.  All you have to be is determined and willing to work and willing to learn. And Ken and friends were willing to teach.  I learned all I could from them and took it back home.  And started making a better life for me and my family.  I stayed with the event planning company a while longer, but thanks to the marketing ideas I picked up from my new found friends, I didn't have to leave home as much.  I also rejoined a couple of those "opportunities" I had tried earlier - only this time I knew how to make them work.  I discovered affiliate marketing.  And I discovered there were a lot of people just like me that needed a way to bring in some extra money or actually make a living with a business of their own.  And so in June of 2007, I decided to focus solely on my own business and WealthTogether was launched.

Today, in addition to business coaching, we do coaching for network marketers.  Through Boomer Business Ideas, we focus specifically on the Baby Boomer who wishes (or needs) to become an entrepreneur.  We produced the BoomerBizCoach teleseminar series (which is being reintroduced due to popular demand).  Just for fun, I started a blog "written" by my little dog and traveling companion, Bob.  Who knew it would become so popular that he now has his own gift and apparel line!  And that I would take what I learned from that to start a similar line focused on grandparents that would also be hugely popular.

My dad passed away in 2008.  I am grateful that I was able to find a way to care for him and still care for my family.  I am also grateful to everyone that supported me along the way to where I am today.  I only wish I had started sooner.  And that's the point of this post.  Don't wait until necessity forces you to step out on your own. As you can see from my story I'm nothing special.  If the child of a janitor and a cashier from a small town in NE Pennsylvania can build a business (or businesses!) so can you.           

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The 10 Second Rule

It doesn't matter how you get the traffic to your site.  Whether by search engine or referral or direct link, there is one truth that still applies.  You have about 10 seconds to capture their attention and keep them on your site.  How do you do this?  Give them the information they need to know that they are in the right place and have found what they are looking for.

1.  Visitors want to know right away that they have come to the site they were looking for.  They don't want to spend time searching your site for the information that will tell them who you are.  Your name or your company name and your logo need to one of the most visible parts of your website.  They should be visible on every page, preferable in the header.

2.  Visitors are searching for your website for a reason.  They have a need and they are searching for a solution.  Again, it doesn't matter if they are simply using a search engine or they have been referred to your site from someone else.  When they get to your site, they will want to know one thing - how can you help fill their need?  Your website should make it obvious what types of products or services you offer and how it will benefit your visitor.  And this needs to be explained quickly and clearly.  Once you have captured your visitor, then you can provide him with additional information further into your site.

3.  Unless you are involved in a cutting edge industry, chances are you are not the only one able to meet your prospect's needs.  Your visitor will want to know - quickly - why he should stop here and do business with you instead of continuing his search.    Next, visitors to your site should be able to easily see why you're good at what you do.  Awards. recommendations, testimonials - whatever it is that proves why your visitor should choose your business over your competitor needs to be easily visible on your site. 

4.  You have his interest and he is ready to make his choice.  Don't lose him now by not telling him what the next step is.  Whether you want him to buy, or subscribe, or register, or download, make your call to action obvious and explicit.

5.  There are many legitimate businesses on the internet.  There are also a few rip-off artists.  Your visitor will want some assurance you are "real."  You can help set his mind at ease by making it easy for him to contact you.  At a minimum, you should display your business phone number, a physical address (not a post office box), and an email address.

6.  I still remember the day I was searching for some information and found a site that seemed to provide all that I needed.  I registered for their newsletter and within days, was inundated with so much spam that I had to close my email account and open a new one.  This is what prompted me to open an email account just for newsletter subscriptions and such.  Now I look for privacy policy information right up front.  And I am not alone.  So be sure your visitor knows right up front what will happen to the information he provides. 

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Giving Up My Shoulds

It's "Give Up Your Shoulds Day"!  And you are invited to be part of it!  For one day, you are invited to give up a certain "should" that leads to stress, guilt, misery, or any sort of sadness.  What a perfect day to give up some of those shoulds that are holding you and your business back!
I should be making more money.
I should get a "real" job.
I should do more prospecting calls.
I should do more advertising.
I should do more social media marketing.
I should publish a blog.
I should publish more articles.
I should attend more networking events
I should do more____
I should....

Many people starting a business think they "should" be doing this thing or that thing to be successful.  When I started my business, I would sometimes work late at night or early in the morning.  But I began to get criticism from some of my friends who would  get emails or faxes from me at all hours of the day and night.  They felt that if I was going to be taken seriously, then I "should" work  9 - 5 like most "normal" business people.  I let them persuade me that this was true and tried to change my schedule.  But I am a night owl by nature and forcing myself to change my natural rhythm caused stress and made me very unproductive and irritable.  By giving up this "should" and working when I feel at my best and most creative, I am actually more efficient and productive - and much easier to get along with!  Yes, it's true that I do have to be available during some portion of "normal" business hours to interact with clients and prospects.  But much of my business is not restricted by time so why should I place this expectation on myself?

There are certain things necessary to be successful in business.  You have to have a viable product or service.  You have to promote yourself and your products or services.  You have to earn the trust and respect of your customers.  There are many ways to do these things.  There is no one way that "should" work for everyone.  You should do what feels right and works best for you. 
And so today I invite you to give up your shoulds.  Take a look at your business.  Make a list of all the things you are doing because you should.  Now review your list.  Is there anything on the list that you are doing that is not effective?  That causes you stress?  That you are only doing just because you "should"?  What would happen if you stopped doing it?  If dire consequences would not result, I encourage to consider giving up this action.  Try it just for today. 

I "should" work longer today.  But I'm not going to.  It's a beautiful day and I am going to take Bob and Austin for a walk.  What should will you give up today?  I'd love to hear.  Feel free to share in the comments. 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Are You a Good Marketer?

Are you a good marketer?  Recently, I was on a coaching call with Linda Johansen as part of my Passion to Profits coaching program. During the call, we talked what makes someone a good marketer.  We came up with two simple rules.

1. Understand your prospect

Understanding your prospect is the number 1 rule in marketing.  It was one of the first concepts they taught in my marketing classes in college.  It is one of the first things mentioned in every coaching, mentoring, or training program I have been part of since.  You need to know who you are selling to.  If your client is looking for ways to increase their online presence, then your latest ebook on offline marketing techniques is not going to interest them.  Readers of my blog on pet travel are probably not interested in how to make money blogging.  Understanding your prospect is the key to offering him a product they want and will buy.

How do you find out what your prospects want?  Ask them.  They will tell you if you listen.  Sometimes they will actually tell you what they want, as when a client asked me to show her how to set up a blog on Blogger.  Other times you will have to sort through the information being given to find out what is wanted.  For example, my friend Ruth has repeatedly mentioned to me that she is unhappy with her job and wished she could find something else to do.  Although she never asked for my help directly, when I mentioned my beginning business coaching program, she was immediately interested and signed up on the spot.

You and also use surveys to gather information.  I recently conducted a survey asking what my next project should be.  From the survey results, I discovered that many baby boomers still don't understand how to use social media to market their business.  They had joined Twitter and set up Facebook pages and were on LinkedIn, but they didn't know how to use these to promote their products.  And so our next project will be a teleseminar on social media marketing.

2.  Give them what the want, not what they need.

I know this sounds ridiculous.  If you are in business to help your clients solve a particular problem, then it makes sense that you should sell them what they need.  But this is not always the case.  For example, the first product I ever sold was The Boomer's Guide to Making Money with PLR Content.  I had many clients who were looking for fast and easy products to sell.  So I thought teaching them how to use PLR products make money was a perfect solution.  In fact, it was a huge flop.  They didn't want to learn how to use someone else's info to make products of their own.  They wanted a ready made product that they could just market and bring in some money.  They were, in fact, looking for information on affiliate programs.  But I wanted to do something different because there are already hundreds of guides to affiliate marketing and thousands of affiliates for almost every product out there.  I wanted them to have what I thought they needed - a way to create a somewhat unique product of their own.  And I was wrong.

Are you a good marketer?  Are you getting to know your prospects?  Are you giving them what they want?  If not, now is the time to start.  Listen to your prospects.  Get to know them.  Find out what they want.  And then give it to them.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Facebook fanatic? Tweet-aholic? Mad for Pinterest? Tell Us Why!

Social media - whether you love it or hate it - is here to stay.  Everyday, it seems like a new one springs up.  First there was MySpace.  Then Facebook and Twitter.  Google+, Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and Tumblr - and probably dozens more I can't even name. 

During a lunchtime meeting of my mastermind group, the subject of social media came up.  It seems we all have a favorite.  I am a huge Twitter fan.  Linda loves Facebook.  Jessie's new passion is Pinterest.  And Mike prefers LinkedIn and Google+.  What I found most interesting, though, is not that we each had a particular favorite, but that much of our reason for preferring one over the other actually had very little do with which one was best for our business.  We all use social media to help build our businesses, but few of us could actually tell which of our clients, customers, and subscribers actually frequented the same social media sites we did.  Sad, isn't it?  But it led us to an interesting research project.  Each of us has decided to use our blogs and/or websites to get some information on social media.  Something may come of it - a report or at least a blog post.  But mostly, we just want to satisfy our own curiosity.  How many others favor a particular social media site for reasons other than it's the best one for your business? 

So, here goes: Which social media site do you focus on for your business and why?  Answer by leaving a comment.  Maybe you can help coach the coaches by showing them why your favorite platform is the one we should also be using - because it's best for our businesses and not because we like the fact that interactions are limited to 140 characters!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to Get That Link Love

I have just recently completed ProBlogger's course "31 Days to Build a Better Blog" and I am already seeing results.  The increase in traffic has been dramatic, to say the least.  And that's what inspired me to do some research to see if I could gain some further insight on gaining more exposure - and hence more readers - to my blogs.

And insight I did find!  The information I found was so helpful, I couldn't resist sharing. 

One of the blogs I read actually talks about gaining "blogferrals" or "link love".  It seems the most popular blogs are the ones with the most links.  Which just makes sense.  More links = more readers.  Check out "Would Your Blog Win a Popularity Contest?" by Heidi Richards Mooney for tips on how to get those all important links.

Incoming links are priceless, but you can also use outgoing links to help to get your blog noticed.  I used this tactic quite a bit when I first started.  And I found an article that very clearly explains how it works and how to make it work for you.  "Using Outbound Links to Improve Your Blog" by Steven Snell is a must read for anyone serious about building their own blog readership.

Did you realize that the design of your blog could cost you readers?  Me either.  Or at least not until I read "5 Ways to Improve Blog Readership with Simple Design Changes" by Tia Peterson.  Although I do think she should have stuck with her original title for this post! 

If you're new to blogging or maybe just thinking about it but haven't started yet, you must read Lee Odden's post "How to Increase Business Blog Traffic, Readership, and Community".  In it, Lee offers 5 tips designed to improve the performance of your blog.

Travis Campbell's post "10 Ways to Increase Blog Readership" give both offsite and onsite ways to build your blog community.   Here you will learn how to use blog alliances and comments to drive traffic to your blog.

We all use social media to promote our blogs.  But are you using it correctly?  If you are not sure, then you need to read this post on Technorati - "Improve Your Blog Readership Via Social Media and Simple Tips".

I hope you find this information as helpful and interesting as I did.  And now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to put my new found knowledge into action!  Happy blogging!

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Enough Is Enough - Or Is It?

My college marketing class taught that the average customer needed to be exposed to your product/service at least 7 times before they would decide to buy.  Years later, when I was working as a marketing representative at a biotech company, we still adhered to that rule, making sure we contacted prospective customers at least 7 times.  But never any more than 7.  Any more than that and you risked becoming a nuisance and alienating prospects. 

But times have changed.  Perhaps the internet, while making the world more accessible, also makes it harder to tell a reputable company or a reliable product from junk and scams.  Or perhaps society has just grown more skeptical as a whole.  Whatever the reason, I am finding it often takes more than 7 contacts before a prospect makes the buy from me.  Sometimes many more.

I know I am much more careful before spending my money than I used to be.  After falling prey to a couple of scammers and purchasing some outright crap online, I now make sure I do all I can to learn as much as possible about a prospective purchase before I make it.  I may visit their site or their store several times.  I may compare prices and features online.  If I am buying online I may try to contact the person or company to see if they respond.  And if I have already received multiple communications from you, you are that much further ahead of the game.

Many of my clients hesitate to make repeated contact with their market.  They are afraid they might be accused of spam.  They feel they might annoy people if they contact them too frequently.  But think about it.  I need quite a bit of time - and contact - before I make a buying decision.  Most of my customers require the same.  I'm willing to bet you do also.  So why would your customers be any different?  If you are keeping your name in front of them in ways that build value, they will welcome contact from you. 

Are you doing everything you can to keep your name in front of your market?  If not, now is the time to get started.  Design a marketing plan that includes a system for making repeated contact with your prospects and customers.  Not one time.  Not 7 times.  Not 10 times.  As many times as it takes.  Make sure you are creating value for them so you are considered a resource and not a bother.  Your market will thank you.  And that means cash in your pocket.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Ideal Business

"What business should one concentrate on when one has several skills and experiences. The one providing the most, and immediate income, the one where there is a constant present and future market, or the others where the heart is and not the wallet?"

This question was posted recently on Boomer Business Ideas.  I was curious what other experienced business people thought and so I put the question to my mailing lists and posted it on several social networks.  The results were mixed, which is really not what I expected.  Several responses did state that they were altering their input a bit based on the fact that the individual posing the question was 60 years old and wanted quick results.  But still I truly did expect to see that most experienced business people would overwhelmingly choose the same focus.  All I did was once again prove that what is right for one person may not be right for another.

It also supports my opinion.  The best business to focus on is the one that meets your needs and will take all aspects into consideration.  I assume you are starting a business to make money.  Therefore, your choice must be something that has a "present and future market."  If you start a business that has no market, that's not a business, that's a hobby.

Your business also needs to have a way to generate some income quickly.  Again, most businesses are started to make money.  And most people starting businesses are not doing it hoping they will make some money in 2 years or 5 years.  It needs to be generating some income now!  So now you are looking for a business that has the opportunity to generate some immediate income and a market where there is continued room to expand and grow. 

This is why you also need to have some experience in your chosen field.  I have a client who makes a very good income buying and selling or "flipping" houses.  Can I do what she does?  Maybe.  But I would have much to learn first.  Putting your own skills and knowledge to work is much faster.

But wait!  Your business has to be something you are interested in; something you are passionate about.  Starting a business is work.  Hard work.  There will be setbacks and failures.  If you are not passionate about what you are doing, it will be easy to get discouraged and quit.

What business should one concentrate on?  One that you are interested in, that you have some skill or experience in, that can begin generating income within a short period of time, and has potential for future long-term growth.

This could still give you a wide range of choices.  For help narrowing it down to just one choice, and then turning that choice into a viable business, enroll in our next BoomerBiz Startup Class, starting September 16.  Registration opens September 8.  Watch for further info!    

Friday, August 17, 2012

Women Who Rock the Internet

When I first started online, the internet marketing world seemed to be mostly dominated by men.  A 2009 post of the top 10 internet "gurus" of the time included only 3 women.  But what a difference a few years makes!  Now women are claiming their share of the internet in ever-increasing numbers.  Meet my favorite women who rock the internet.

1. Denise Michaels: Denise is a marketing and empowerment expert. I have learned much about "softer, gentler" marketing techniques through her insight and I am a huge fan of Empower U Academy!

2. Felicia Slattery: Communication Expert, Speaker, and Coach. Felicia is a powerhouse who always has something to worthwhile to share. I know what she has done for my own communication skills. She can do the same for you.

3. Beverly Mahone: Author of How to Get on the News Without Committing Murder.  Founder of Boomer Diva Nation. Media and PR whiz.  This woman has done more to show me how to promote myself than just about anyone I know. Thanks, Bev!

4. Heidi RichardsMooney: Author and Coach. Online Visibility Expert.  Always has something of interest to share about social networking, marketing, and success.  Her book, Quirky Marketing Calendar, has provided me with numerous ideas for marketing my business.

5. Paulette Ensign: Who knew that a simple tips booklet could be so profitable?

6. Carrie Wilkerson: In addition to inspiring me to create BoomerBizCoach (Thanks, Carrie!),Carrie's programs, books, blogs, and tweets are always full of tips, advice, inspiration, and sometimes that little push I need.  She's amazing!

7. Olalah Njenga: Marketing strategist. Her advice on small business success is priceless.  Always has something useful to share.

8. Sandy Forster: Her book, How to Be Wildly Wealthy Fast, was the first one I ever read about how your mindset can impact your success. I've been a fan ever since.

9. Gina Gaudio-Graves: Founder of which I love. If you need help finding your way around the world of internet marketing, she can do it.

10. Kim Duke: Sales expert shares her tips. What? You're not in sales? Guess again. If you're in business, you're in sales.

11. Kathleen Gage: Internet marketing and teleseminar training specialist. There is a right way to do this stuff, and she shares it with you.

12. Heidi Caswell:  WordPress Wonder Woman!  I don't use WordPress and don't know much about it.  But I have clients that do so when I need to help them with a problem, I turn to Heidi.

13.  Mary Eileen Williams:  Feisty Boomer Woman and Post-50 employment expert. Author of 10 Surefire Strategies for Jobseekers Over 50.  She will help you find your next job the Feisty way!

14.  PopArtDiva:  Graphics Designer extraordinaire.  If it weren't for her designs, my websites would be very visually boring!  Yes, she does have a name, but to those of us that know her and love her, she will always be the PopArt Diva!

15. Rosalind Gardner:  Writer, blogger and, most importantly (at least to me) Super Affiliate Marketer.  I don't think I would have ever figured out this whole affiliate marketing thing if it weren't for her guidance!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Overcoming the Technology Hurdle

If you are a member of my generation, then you may be a bit technology-challenged.  I know it took me a while to learn the difference between a blog and a website, what a URL was, or how to host a teleseminar.  Sometimes it's a bit embarrassing to admit my grandchildren are as comfortable with the computers as I am.  Even the 3-year old is pretty computer savvy!  But hey!  I didn't grow up with computers everywhere like they did. 

Are you in this boat?  Are you sitting in front of your computer with a dream, a great idea, and no clue how to get started because you don't understand the technical stuff?  Are you on the verge of quitting because you don't know where to learn?  Or maybe you - like me - are just a little embarrassed to ask.  Or perhaps you are just overwhelmed.  How are you supposed to find time to learn all this technical stuff while trying to build a business, learn how to market online, care for your family, take care of your home, and still have some time for yourself?  The answer is simple.  Just like everything else, you take it one step at a time.

Step #1: Assess your general computer skills.  Build on the ones you already have and learn the ones you don't.

I am going to assume that if you are reading this blog, you are comfortable enough with a computer to use basic programs like browsers and emails.  If you are not comfortable with this, there are places to learn.  Many community colleges and senior centers offer introductory computer courses.  And the best part is that many of them are free or very inexpensive.  These courses will teach you the basic skills necessary to get started on your computer.  If you can't find a class near you, then there are books available at your local library that can also teach you basic computer skills.  If you want to invest in books of your own, I recommend the "Dummies" books.  I'm sure you have seen these.  It's a series of books on everything under the sun explained very simply.  I personally own Internet Marketing for Dummies, Marketing for Dummies, Social Media Marketing for Dummies, and Laptops for Dummies.  You can find these at any bookstore or at

Step #2: Learn your way around the internet.

Once you're comfortable with your basic computer skills, it's time to move on to your Internet skills. You need to know your way around the internet if you want to build a successful online business!
This doesn't mean you need to know all the technical details of how the internet works.  I sure don't! 
But you need to understand the basic principles of how websites work, what a search engine is, what is a domain name, and how everything fits together on the Web.  I learned all this the hard way.  Too late I discovered my favorite series of books has one called 'The Internet for Dummies.'  I highly recommend you use it to learn all you need to learn your way around the internet.

Step #3: Learn to build a website.

Some people will tell you that you don't need to know anything about building websites in order to have a successful business on the internet. All you have to do is hire web designers to do it for you. I don't agree.  First, web designers can be expensive.  And as I have again learned the hard way, they can be unreliable and difficult to deal with.  You must have control of your website.  Now, you can take a web design course if you want to learn to build your website completely on your own.  A better choice is to do what I did.  First, read 'Web Design for Dummies.'  Not to become an expert but to learn enough to use a great web design program.  I use SBI!  It's a great way to build a website of your own without having to become a web design expert. 

Three steps to become technology-smart.  Now you're ready to start your business!  And I have lots of resources to help you with that.  Just go to Boomer Business Ideas to learn all you need to know about getting your business started. 

Starting a business on the Internet without any technical skills can be overwhelming. But like most challenges in life, if you break it down into steps and then take these steps one at a time, you will be surprised at how quickly you progress.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Ideal Client

One of the first concepts I learned when starting my business was to identify my target market.  It was an easy concept to understand.  Having a target to aim for greatly improved my chances of hitting the bullseye and landing a client.  A harder concept to understand was that not all clients are good clients.  When you are just getting started, there is a tendency to take any warm body that walks through your door.  But this often results in clients who don't understand and respect the value you offer.  These are the clients you can't seem to please know matter what you do.  The ones who don't pay on time - or at all - because they weren't happy with your work.  They are rude and ill-mannered, demanding and critical.  To put it bluntly, they can be real jerks.  They are the clients you want to let someone else have.

Instead, let's focus on your ideal client.  Yes, there really is such a thing.  And they are not that difficult to find.  You just have to know where to look.  But first - you have to know who they are.

Take a look at your current clients.  Who do you value most?  Why?  Do they bring you the most business?  Do they refer you to others?  Do they understand your value and are willing to pay for it?  Do they respect you?  Do they do their part to make your business relationship work?  Do you enjoy working with them?  If this fits any of your clients, chances are they are your IDEAL client.  And by analyzing what you know about them, you can determine what type of prospect is your ideal client.  What age group do they fall in?  Are they predominantly male or female?  What types of business do they work for/what is their occupation?  What is their income level?  What is their level of education?  As you categorize your known perfect clients, you will soon have a picture of what type of prospect you are looking for.  And once you know that, it makes targeting them much easier.

If all of this sounds like a lot of work, it is.  But it's work that will pay off handsomely in the long run.  Why spend your time on the clients who make you crazy when you can work with those who are a perfect fit?  If the relationship is solid, your clients will be happy.  And happy clients lead to repeat business and referrals.  Which leads to a happier you!

Here's your assignment for the week.  Make a list of all your clients.  Rank them in order of value.  Then look at your top-ranking clients, the ones you value and look forward to working with.  Make a list of their characteristics.  Use some of the questions above to help you.  Look for patterns.  Look for common characteristics.  Look for your ideal client.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

What My Daughter Taught Me

Since starting my coaching business, I have worked with clients who in varied professions including top level executives, mid level managers, support staff, lawyers, small business owners, entrepreneurs, salespeople, and engineers.  I could go on and on, but you get the picture.

Invariably their perception of being organized is either related to getting rid of paper clutter, improving their filing system or how they need more time each day to get it all done. And it is true, that solving these problems will help them become better organized.

But there is a part of being organized that not many people realize, and really is the basis for solving all these problems.

First, let me say that generally, most people are not very well organized. We are not born organized. It is a learned skill. It is a skill that anyone, in any profession can learn and use to increase productivity and work more efficiently. I have been helped along by my daughter, because she is an organized person. I am learning her ways. (I don't know who she learned it from.  It sure wasn't me!)

During my years in the military, I worked closely with several top level commanders. These people were all very organized, which helped them attain these high positions. I also learned a lot from them. What I pass on to you is a culmination of the techniques, methods and systems used very effectively by them, my daughter, and by me.

Okay, now back to the real basis for effective organization. Being organized is being in control. A few words but a powerful statement. It means you are in control of how you handle paper, email, the phone, your time, and all the other tasks and responsibilities that make up your work day.

It means knowing the status of every aspect of what is happening in your job at all times. It also means arranging your time and workload to meet your goals. Yes, goals. A very important part of being organized.

If you don’t have goals, how do you know where you are going. You don’t. You end up wherever. It is not my purpose to get into goal setting here. That is an issue that I talk about often and have written articles on, and I will help you with the process. But it is important to mention here as it is a facet of how to control what takes place in your life every day.

To be in control is to be proactive as opposed to being reactive. A proactive person takes responsibility for their own lives. They are in control of how they use their time, and how and when they perform certain tasks.

They make things happen rather than letting things happen to them. Responsibility is made up of two words, response and ability. A proactive person uses their ability to choose their response to any given situation.

A reactive person empowers others or circumstances to control them. They are victims of constant interruptions, are more prone to being controlled by crises and the unexpected events of the day that invariably come up.

Reactive people are controlled by what others think, how they are treated by others, and even the weather.

There are many events and circumstances that can and will present themselves in each work day that can eat up your time. It is how you respond to these events that means the difference between being effective and productive or not.

That is a powerful statement. It makes all the difference between being proactive or reactive.

Each of us has the choice of deciding how to handle the day to day events. What if you are focused on a task and the phone rings. Are you going to answer it and interrupt yourself or are you going to let it go to voicemail until you have completed the task you are working on. Which is more important, the task or the phone. You decide.

Someone walks into your office while you are focused on a project, and you know they just want to chit chat. Are you going to let them waste your precious time or will you tell them that you are involved in an important project, can you get back to them later. You decide.

Besides being proactive, this is also known as self-management. Each of us has the choice of deciding how to handle the day to day events.

What are your priorities for today?

How are you going to spend your time.?

Do you have a place for each piece of paper that crosses your desk or does it pile up because you don’t know what to do with it?

Preplanning for what you want to accomplish today, this week, this month, and writing it down is a good goal setting process. It makes you aware of where you are now, where you want to go, and your plan for how you are going to get there.

This is being proactive and taking control of your job responsibilities. Some of you may be able to set aside specific times for specific tasks. For others, the times and tasks may change every day.

Don’t become discouraged if your plans don’t work out the way you want every day. This is not a perfect world. Unexpected events can and most likely will appear that can eat up your time. But if you are in control, it will usually not disrupt your entire day.

Decide how and when you will handle the unexpected event. Is it more important than what you are doing now or can it wait until later. Are you going to address it proactively or react to the circumstance without considering its level of importance.

The commanders I worked with had goals, focused on the important tasks by being aware of their priorities and were in control of how they spent their time each day. You can do the same.

By reading the articles on my web site, subscribing to BoomerBizTips, and actively using the special reports, seminars, and workshops I offer, you can improve your organizing skills.

Whether it is how to stay focused, handling tons of email, keeping on top of projects, getting rid of those piles of papers, or having a simple, easy filing system, you can now understand that these are all proactive activities.

They all contribute to better organization. Practicing these processes will give you control over your work flow.

Remember, as I said in the beginning, organization is a learned skill. But oh, what a difference it can make in your life!

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Will You Take The Challenge?

I was just thinking today about my days as a "professional" Girl Scout.  One of the first jobs I had after leaving the Navy was as the membership specialist and adult development manager for our local Girl Scout Council.  I loved that job for so many reasons, one of which is because I was often invited to speak at area high schools.  The council was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and Chamber volunteers were asked to give talks each year to high school students, encouraging them to become Arkansas Scholars.

I loved being part of this opportunity.  I would walk into a classroom full of bright and curious minds.  And we would talk.  We would talk about success.  We would talk about their hopes, their dreams, and what they wanted to do with their lives.  And then I would outline the benefits of becoming an Arkansas Scholar.  "Who wants to take this challenge?", I would ask.  And I would get a chorus of I do's and me too's.  Then I would list the requirements.  And then I would ask, "Now, who still wants to do this."  And although I would get another round of "I do, I do", it wasn't quite as enthusiastic as the first time.

Except for one or two students in the room.  You could tell just by looking at them that they had already decided they were going to accomplish this.  Most of the class wanted the benefits of success.  Not all of them had enough desire to take the necessary action.
As I sat remembering those days, it came to me that many of my clients are in the same boat.  They want success.  But they aren't quite willing to take the necessary action.

You have to get up and move if you want to achieve anything.  You have to go for what you want.

All the hopes and dreams in the world are meaningless without action to help you achieve them.  YOU HAVE TO ACT.

I have said it a dozen times, but I will quote Carrie Wilkerson one more time: "In order to reach your goals, you have to take MASSIVE ACTION to COMPLETION."

It's time to take that next step towards success.  It's time to move your business to the next level.  Focus.  Concentrate.  Bring all your skills and knowledge and confidence together and reach for the next step.  Decide now to go for what you want from your business.

Today!  Right now!

Take the challenge.  You won't believe what you can achieve.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Build Your Network - Build Your Business

First, let me clarify one point. Networking is NOT going to every event in town and handing out your business card to 100 people whose name you won't remember 10 minutes from now. Nor is it joining every online networking site and blasting all of your friends with SPAM. Networking is all about building relationships. Anyone who can understand that concept can network their way to more business.

To get started, you have to create a network. Start by making a list of all the people you know. You'll be surprised at how many there are! This is your immediate circle of influence. If you maintain regular contact with some of the people on your list, great! Keep it up! For those you haven't had much contact with in a while, it's time to renew that connection. Send an email or give them a call. Invite them for coffee or lunch or just to chat. The idea here is to re-establish the connection between you, so do not spend your first get-together listing all that you have been doing and how they can help you. You want to find out what's been going on in their life. Let them do the talking. You'll make a much better impression that way.

Once you have rebuilt your initial network, be sure to check in with these people regularly. Whether it's a quick email or phone call, a note to say thanks for some small favor, - even a gift - make sure you keep in touch. If you find yourself in need - your network will already be in place.

Now that you have your initial network established you want to continue to expand it. There are many ways to do that. Get involved - in your church, your children's school, with community groups. Join any professional associations related to your field. When you go to parties, mingle and chat.

You can also network online. The internet has spawned a wide variety of social networking sites, each one offering access to literally millions of people. My personal favorites are Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. Each is a little different but all three offer easy and fun ways to connect and share with others.  There are tons of other sites as well - Facebook, MySpace, GooglePlus+, and CafeMom are just a few. Each one is a little different but all give you the chance to expose yourself and your business to more people.

How do you build relationships through networking?  Follow these steps:

1.  Show interest in others.  Ask open-ended questions in networking conversations to get discussions started. This means questions that ask who, what, where, when, and how as opposed to those that can be answered with a simple yes or no.

2.  Share what you know.  When you become known as an expert and one who is willing to share that knowledge, people will turn to you for information and they will tell others about you.  This keeps you visible to them.

3.  Follow through quickly and efficiently on referrals. When people give you referrals, your actions are a reflection on them. Respect and honor that and your referrals will grow.

4.  Don't join groups or social networking sites solely to get referrals/followers.  If you do not have an genuine interest in the group or it's members, you will find it difficult to establish relationships with others. 

5.  Keep in touch. Do favors for your contacts whenever possible. Be genuinely grateful for any assistance they provide and be sure to acknowledge it with a card, a call, or even a gift.

6.  Make sure your contacts know what you do for a living - and make sure you understand their businesses. Otherwise, how will you send each other referrals?

7.  Participate - whether in person or by posting on the online networks. As I said when I started this post, it's all about building trust and relationships. Do that and the rest will fall into place.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Building Customer Loyalty

I love my car salesperson.  I know that is an odd thing to hear someone say, but it's true.  I have lived in NWA for 19 years.  In that time, we have purchased several new vehicles - and all but one were purchased from the same person.  Not necessarily the same dealership - but always the same person.  We are such loyal customers of hers, we follow her to whichever dealership she is working for at the time.

Imagine how much easier it would be to build your business if you already had an band of loyal customers.  It takes much less effort and cost to keep loyal customers than it does to gain new ones.  They are less susceptible to offers from your competitors.  They are normally less likely to let price be an issue in their decisions - as long as you don't get too outrageous.  And they can provide some of your best marketing efforts.  Nothing beats personal recommendations from loyal customers. Wouldn't you love to instill that kind of loyalty in your own business?  Well, you can.  Here's how.

1.  Know your customers.  One reason I follow Jeri wherever she goes is because she knows me.  She knows exactly what type of vehicle I like - and also what type I need.  So when I call her to tell her I am in the market for something new, she only shows me makes and models that meet my needs.  Since she knows I my time is precious to me, she normally has several selections lined up and ready for me to look at and test drive when I get there.  Because she knows me so well, I can usually complete the entire transaction in record time and without all the annoying sales tactics that drive me crazy.  Why would I go anywhere else?

Your products or services are meaningful to your customers only if they fulfill a need.  Show your value from their perspective.  Jeri doesn't sell me cars anymore.  She sells me convenience.  She sells me time and efficiency.  Because that's what I'm really in the market for.    

 2.  Provide over-the-top customer service.  I recently purchased a new Jeep - from Jeri, of course.  I wanted some accessories added so after finishing the paperwork, I left it with the service department, intending to pick it up the next day - Friday.  Unfortunately, things got a bit hectic and I wasn't able to make it.  I called the service department to let them know.  Shortly after, I received a phone call from Jeri.  She had stopped by the service department to make sure that everything was ready for m.  When they told her I was not coming in that day, she quickly called and offered to bring it to me - an hour drive - so I would have it for the weekend.  We had already completed all of the paperwork so she knew she had the sale and yet she was willing to give up 2 hours of her time so I could have my car.  Did that make an impression?  Yes!

3.  Communicate freely.  When there is a problem, don't hide it.  Be upfront with your customers and let them know.  If you are going to be late, let them know.  If things are not going according to plan, let them know.  Customers will usually allow for unexpected mishaps, provided you keep them informed. 

4.  First and last impressions are invaluable.  When I sang with the NWA Symphony Chorus, the director told us to make sure we always started perfectly and finished with a bang.  He said the audience would remember the beginning and the end of our performance more than anything that happened in between.  The same is true of any customer transaction.  Customers will remember their first impression and the final minutes more vividly than anything else.  The DFW Hilton Executive Conference Center has mastered this concept.  As soon as you step up to the entrance you are quickly greeted, the doors are opened for you (even if you are empty handed), and you are welcomed to the property.  The customer service throughout the hotel is impeccable, but it starts right at the front door, which just sets the tone for the rest of the stay.  And when I leave, the last thing I hear is a thank you, as the doors are once again held for me, and an invitation to return when I am in the area again.  And I will.

5.  Reward your loyal customers.  It doesn't have to be expensive.  Just show that you appreciate them.  I love shopping at Sephora.  I get free samples with every purchase.  My daughter and I were at Starbucks in Dallas yesterday where she picked up an code for a free Golf app for her husband's iPhone with her coffee.  Jeri always gives me a free oil change with my vehicle purchase.  My insurance agent never fails to send me a birthday card.  Customer rewards can be as simple as a follow up service call, a discount for future purchases, a free product, or just a small token of your appreciation for their business.

6.  Be consistent and credible.  You have to be both.  Consistency is worthless if you consistently fail to measure up to expectations!  Do what you say you will do.  If you set an appointment, be there on time.  If you say you will call back, do so.  If you guarantee your product or service, honor that guarantee.  If you say your hours are 8:00 to 5:00, then make sure someone is available to help your customers from 8:00 - 5:00, not 8:15 - 4:30.  And do these things all the time - not just on your good days.  I used to have a hairdresser.  Some days I would go in and I would be treated like a queen.  Scalp massage, hot towels, scented oil - the works.  While she was doing my hair, she would stop frequently to make sure I was happy with what she was doing.  Other days, if she was in a hurry, or maybe had a bad day, it was a shampoo and haircut without a word until she was finished.  I would have been fine without all of the other amenities.  I just hated not knowing what to expect.  I never recommended her to anyone else for the same reason - I wasn't sure what level of service they would get.  And I wasn't sure that if she had a REALLY bad day, it wouldn't show up in my hair!  Needless to say, I soon found someone else.

7.  Be loyal to your customers.  You get what you give.  If you want loyalty, you have to give it. Make sure your customers know you are there for them if they need you.  Like Jeri delivering my car, or my lawn care man who is coming on Easter Sunday (his suggestion not my request) because he knows I have been out of town, and that my yard is already resembling a jungle, sometimes loyalty takes a little sacrifice.  But the rewards are amazing!



Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Expect Success

What do you suppose would happen to your business if you started each day expecting to suceed?  How would that attitude affect your actions and decisions?  What might you do if you had no thought of failue?  Imagine it - expect success and it just happens!

Unfortunately most of us tend to carry all of our doubts and fear of failure into our business.  No matter how sure we are of something, in the back of our minds is that little voice - the one that keeps saying, "What if I'm wrong?" 

I have stated repeatedly in this blog that what you focus on grows.  And it is equally true here.  Focus on failure and that's what you'll get.  Expect success and it will happen. 

There are several things you can do to help keep yourself focused on success. 

1.  Surround yourself with positive people.  Get rid of the naysayers.  No one wants to be around negative people.  Why would you?  The people you associate with and share ideas with have a major influence on how you choose to act.  Positive people - positive actions.  Negative people - inaction, doubt, failure.

2.  Think positive.  Make it a habit to repeat some positive affirmations each day.  If you tell yourself you are successful enough times, eventually you will believe it.  And once you believe yuo are successful, you will start to act like a successful person.  And once that happens, the sky is the limit!

3.  Take small steps.  We all know the old joke "How do you eat an elephant?"  The answer, of course, is one bite at a time.  Approach your business the same way.  Take small steps and celebrate your success as you accomplish each one. 

4.  Learn from your mistakes.  We all make mistakes.  Accept them as the learning experience they are and move on.

5.  Be persistent.  With enough determination and persistence, you can achieve almost anything.

6.  Greet each day with excitement and enthusiasm.  Expect success!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Box of TNT

I received a gift in the mail today.  I had been talking to a friend and client recently and mentioned to her that I was having trouble staying focused lately.  There was so much going on in my life right now that it was difficult to know where to start and so I very often found myself putting things off until tomorrow.  Only tomorrow never seemed to come.  Her gift was a reminder that I needed to get back on track. 

I am grateful for my friend.  She knows how important it is to stay focused on our goals.  It's so easy to lose our way at times.  Something happens - a business setback, a family matter, a change of circumstances, an illness or injury - and suddenly our attention is diverted away from our objective. 

So, now that I have been reminded of the need to refocus on my goals, what am I going to do?  Well, thanks to Linda, I've gotten back onboard and recommitted myself to achieving them.

Unfortunately, not everyone has a Linda to give them a good, swift, kick when they need it.  So I decided I would be "Linda" for anyone who is struggling to regain their footing.  It's time to step up and recommit yourself to achieving your goals.  This is, after all, what separates winners from losers.  Many times, the only difference between the two is that the winner simply refused to give up.

What do you need to refocus on?  Your business?  Your family?  Your health?  Remember why you set this goal.  A better life for your family, more time for your spouse and children, a healthier life?  Think about the end results, of how your life will be different once you reach your goals.  Don't worry about the fact that you got sidetracked.  It happens to all of us.  Focus on success.  Remember - you become what you think about. 

It's a new day.  Let's make it count!

Oh, and what was this wonderful gift from my friend?  A box of TNT - Today Not Tomorrow.  Cute idea, Linda.  I don't know where you came up with it, but I will be sure to pass it on! 


Tuesday, March 13, 2012

High Self Esteem is Good For Your Business

When you look at lists of requirements for a successful business, chances are you won't see "good self image" as one of the items on the list.  However, self esteem can have a distinct impact on the success - or failure - of your business.  Entrepreneurs with good self esteem are confident of their ability to achieve their business goals.  If there are stumbling blocks along the way, the person with high self esteem does not take them personally but works to find a solution to the problem.  However, those with low self esteem often go into a business already expecting it to be difficult and unsure if they will succeed.  When problems arise, instead of focusing on the issue, they tend to focus on their own perceived shortcomings.  They get exactly what they expected - failure. 

Most of us do not work on improving our self esteem.  We tend to think it's either something people have or do not have.  Perhaps it was a result of our childhood.  Whatever the cause, most people don't realize that good self esteem is something that can be developed with practice.  Here's how.

1.  I highly encourage you to take a lesson from the Girl Scouts. Tonight sit down and make a brag bag! Or a box like I have done. Get a brown paper bag or an old shoe box. I went to Hobby Lobby and got a plain wooden unpainted little box that looks like a treasure chest. Decorate the outside anyway you want. I found some very unique metal discs with great uplifting sayings on them - "Believe", "Love", and "Laughter" for example. I glued them all over my box.

Now, get some index cards and write all of your attributes on them - one on each card. Can you sing? Write it down. Are you an organizational whiz? Do people clamor for your cheesecake recipe? Can you sell the proverbial ice to Eskimos? Write it all down. Put them in your Brag Bag. Then write down all of your accomplishments. If you were the homecoming queen, or the valedictorian of your class, it goes in the bag. If you were promoted at your job in record time, if your kids are the world's greatest, if you lost those last 10 pounds, if your business makes enough to support you, if you have 20 people in your downline - it all goes into the bag.

Now, put your Brag Bag somewhere accessible. Because in order for this to work, you have to use it. Remember - what we focus on grows. So get your bag out regularly and review all the good things that you are. Bask in the glow of your accomplishments. Relish the good things you've drawn into your life. Watch your attitude improve and your accomplishments increase and your business boom. What we focus on grows. Get out your Brag Bag and let's focus on the right things. And while you're at it - maybe sign your daughter up for Girl Scouts. Look at the cool stuff they teach you!

2.  I realize that we all have some things that we need to work on.  So do it!  Choose an area that you want to improve, and get to work.  The trick here though is to work at it properly.  You have to have the right attitude.  I have struggled with my weight for years.  But once I stopped hating myself for my perceived weakness because I couldn't lose weight, I discovered it became easier to take the pounds off.  When you begin your self-improvement program, look at it exactly that way.  You are simply taking what is already good and improving it. 

3.  Picture the new you.  While you are working on your self-improvement projects, envision yourself as you will be once you are finished.  While I am working to improve my health and fitness by losing weight, I picture myself running with my grandchildren or hiking with my sister.  Or I see myself on vacation with my husband wearing a fabulous new outfit and dancing the night away.  If you afraid to talk to people, while you work on overcoming this, picture yourself making presentations with ease and confidence.  Visualize yourself being sought after as a speaker.  See yourself having conversations with clients that have winning results.
Imagine your whirlwind social life as you get invited to all the best events because everyone admires your witty conversation!

4.  Keep a success journal.  Every time you reach a goal - no matter how small - write it in your journal.  Or jot it on a card and add it to your brag bag!

5.  Set goals.  Having a goal will give you a sense of purpose.  It provides you with a target.  How can you know if you have achieved success if you don't know what that is? 

6.  Surround yourself with positive people.  There are more than enough people willing to point out your every flaw.  Who needs them!?  Yes, we all have faults, and a true friend will help you face up to them.  But they will also be the first to applaud your successes and provide encouragement when you embark on a new path.  Surround yourself with people who see failure as simply a step on the way to success, who expect success from themselves and others.

7.  Create a positive environment.  No negativity allowed!  Hang positive affirmations in your office.  I have one that simply says "Attitude" as a reminder that attitude is everything.  Listen to CDs with empowering messages.  I have banned all music in my car and  my home that is not uplifting and empowering.  If I can't find anything suitable on my radio, then I have an assortment of CDs by people such as Mike Litman, Bob Proctor, Tony Robbins, and Joel Osteen.  Make flashcards with positive affirmations on them and keep them on your desk.  My latest are "I am exactly the right weight for my body" and "I am healthy and vigorous and living life to the fullest."  When you begin to feel the old doubts creep in, grab a flashcard and remind yourself that "Every day and every way, I get a little better."

Healthy self esteem is good for your business.  Follow the steps above and watch your self esteem and your business grow.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

A Letter of Appreciation

So many people have helped me get where I am today.  Etiquette says I should write each of them a letter expressing my thanks.  And I would gladly do that.  But then, no one else would know about these wonderful people.  So I have decided to show my appreciation a bit more publicly!

First, many thanks to Ken McArthur.  You took a chance on an inexperienced event planner while you were launching jvAlert.  Through the course of our relationship, I learned a great deal about marketing and building a business and you built jvAlert into a phenomenon.  Along the way, I think we became friends.  And when it was finally time for me to step out on my own, you were one of the first to encourage me to follow my heart - and to give me some much needed guidance.  And you finally convinced me to attend a jvAlert event, which is where I met so many of the others who have helped me. Such as...

Ronda Del Boccio.  Together we sat and talked and laughed - and came up with the idea that became "The Adventures of Traveling Bob" which has since grown and will soon launch the new site It Should Be a Dog's World.  Nose kisses to you from Bob and many hugs from me. 

Carrie Wilkerson and Bob Jenkins - you both were already so successful and yet you took the time to sit and talk to a complete stranger and total beginner.  Together, you taught me how to get started and never once did either of you make me feel out of place - not even when I bugged you both for photos so I could have proof that I had actually met you.  It was you, Carrie, that gave me the idea for BoomerBizCoach and it was you, Bob, that told me about blogging - which was my first step online.

Bev Mahone - you decided I was a Diva and invited me to join you and an entire group of Divas.  Along with forming many friendships with the ladies in your network, I learned so much about PR and marketing and interviewing.  I've gotten pretty good at this whole self-promotion thing thanks to you!

Felicia Slattery - although we had never met, except online, you quickly extended a hand and made me feel at home in a roomful of people that were successful beyond anything I had ever imagined.  I could have felt lost and out of place and therefore would have missed out on a wonderful experience.  You quickly put me at ease and introduced me to everyone, never once indicating I was not quite in the same league as most of you.  I was just your "Ryze buddy."  And you did push me to finally get on Facebook - although I'm still not using it effectively.  But I will!  Promise!

PopArtDiva - yes I know your name but you will always be PopArt to me!  You do such a fabulous job on all of my graphics - and you don't go crazy when I change my mind about something or get sidetracked and forget to forward photos or ideas to you.  You held my hand when Bob was sick and you actually understood and prayed with me for his recovery.  Thanks for understanding that he is a dog but he's also my four-footed baby!  You have provided a shoulder to cry on through family crises and a cheering section for my successes.  You have been a sounding board for ideas, encouraging me when they were good but not afraid to tell me when they were awful!  You've taught me more than I could ever hope to need about design.  Along the way you have become my very dear friend.  And you taught me to make a darn good martini!

Thanks so much to all of you for all you have done for me.  It is deeply appreciated!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Everyone Wants To Succeed In Business

Why are you in business?  To make money?  To have more time with your family?  To build a better future for them?  To live life on your own terms?  I have heard all of these reasons.  And it is possible achieve these goals.  It just takes time, hard work, and knowledge.

Time is already yours.  You just have to allow yourself to take it.  I know there are lots of sites promising you 6 figure income overnight, but the reality is that just doesn't happen for most people.  Be patient and don't give up. 

Hard work I can't help you with.  You have to decide for yourself whether you are willing to do what it takes to start and build a successful business.  Again, there are tons sites promising instant success with no effort - just use there system, product, book or gadget.  But it just isn't so.  Success takes work.  There's no way around it.  And if you aren't willing to do the work, you will never succeed.

That leaves knowledge.  And that I can help you with.  Over the years, I have had the privilege of learning from some of the must successful business people today.  I've looked at their websites, read their books, taken their courses, and attended their seminars.  This is what I have learned from them.

1.  Be Yourself.  I am not Felicia Slattery, or Carrie Wilkerson, or Mike Dillard.  Neither are you.  And when you try to be someone or something you aren't, you just appear phony.  You don't have to copy what everyone else is doing to be successful.  The internet is already full of people all selling the same thing.  What can you bring that's different?  A new perspective?  A new method of doing something?  There are lots of business coaches on the internet.  There are far fewer who specialize in getting technology-shy, risk-adverse, boomers online and building businesses.  There are several travel sites - even some that specialize in pet travel.  But none actually look at travel from through from the dog's point of view and offers his perspective on where to go and what to do.  These are what sets me apart from the crowd.  What sets your business apart and makes it different?  Trumpet that to the world and watch what happens.

2.  Consistency matters - especially in business.  I've have followed Mike Litman practically since he came online.  And his message today is the same as it was then:  You don't have to get it right, you just have to get it going.  Felicia Slattery has been promoting the benefits of having a signature speech - a well prepared signature speech - for years.  Neither of them have changed their marketing message to keep up with the latest internet buzz.  Their message is the same day after day, year after year.  Is your message consistent?  Or are you always chasing and promoting the next big thing?   

3.  Ask for the sale.  PopArtDiva is a tireless self-promoter.  She uses every technique at her disposal to promote her products.  If you visit Ken McArthur's site, he makes sure you have every opportunity to buy from him.  When you get on Mike Litman's list, you receive great information on a regular basis.  And quite frequently at the end of all that information, he tells you about his newest product or workshop.  And not only do they ask you for the sale, they make sure you know why you should do business with them.  Are you asking for the sale?  Does your website invite visitors to sign up for your newsletter, buy your products, or try your services?  Do you make it easy for them to do so?  Are you promoting your business in other ways - email, social networking, Facebook, or advertising?  Do prospects know why they should do business with you instead of your competition?

4.  Create a presence.  I received an email today from someone I had never heard of promoting a new business tool.  It sounded interesting and so I Googled their name just to see what else they had done.  Guess what came up?  Nothing.  Not one article.  No website.  I searched Twitter and Facebook.  No Twitter account and while there was a Facebook page, there was no picture and it didn't appear that he had ever posted anything.  Who is this person?  Is he serious about his business?  The link in his email may have taken me to a legitimate website of some sort but who knows for sure?  I didn't click on it.  Just because the email made it through the spam filter doesn't make it safe.  If I had been able to find out more about this person and his business, he may have made a sale today.

Creating a presence also helps keep you visible.  Suppose I really was interested in learning more about the product promoted in the email I received.  But I got busy and didn't follow up right away.  Then tomorrow I see a tweet about the product and I get reminded.  Or I see a comment from this person on a blog post and it reminds me again.  Or I'm searching for something and I come across an article he wrote.  People are mentioning him on Twitter and Facebook.

Are you visible?  Do you have a web presence?  A website or blog?  If I search for you, will I find you?  Are you active on the social networking sites?  Do you visit other blogs and make worthwhile comments?  Have you published any articles?

5.  Along with visibility goes credibility.  If you are going to be visible, you had better be credible.  This means be honest.  Do not promote your self as an experienced internet business person if you have never made a dime online.  Do not claim to have made millions if you haven't.  Sell what you know.  Everyone is an expert at something.  Build your business around what you really do know.  Your experience and expertise will show when you interact with others    

6.  Be of value.  Learn to serve. Your value to others is directly related to how well you serve them. Focus on providing the best possible service to as many people as possible and the rest will take care of itself. The Bible says it very well - "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." Focus on serving your customers and giving them as much value as possible and I promise the money will follow in direct proportion to your service. 

7.  Show us you are real.  Your website should have a way to contact you.  An address, phone number, email address and maybe even a photo if you are not camera shy.  And make sure you respond.  If you can't get back right away, put an autoresponder on your site that tells visitors you will get back with them as soon as possible.  Have voicemail on your business phone that says the same thing.  Then make sure you do it.  Trust me - nothing is more  irritating than emailing or calling with a question and not getting a response.  Is your contact information readily visible on your website and promotional material?  Do you respond to customers and prospects in a timely manner?

8.  Give back.  I owe much of my success to the advice and help I received from others.  In fact, I wouldn't be here without some of them.  I try to remember that and follow their example.  Yes, we are all in business, but giving a bit away can have some amazing results.  So don't be afraid to offer a word of advice or a few minutes of your time to someone who is just getting started.  And if you can't help someone, send them to someone who can.  You may not gain them as a customer then, but they will remember. 

9.  Be patient and persistent.  I don't care what magic system, book, course, website, or business opportunity you think you have found - success takes two things.  Patience and persistence.  It is not going to happen overnight.  It is probably not going to happen in a few weeks or even months.  Most new businesses take a year or more to really get going.  Take the time you need to get where you want to go.

Success also takes persistence.  Yes, you really can make money while you sleep - someday.  Right now, you are going to have to work everyday.  Even if you are holding down a job while you get your business started, you still must find time each day to do at least one thing to move your business forward.  Every day.  Without fail.  What one thing can you do right now that will help build your business?  Ok, now go do it - after you finish reading this, of course! 

10.  Attitude is everything.  If you are enthusiastic about your business, confident in yourself and your products/services, helpful and respectful to others, and thankful for all that you receive each day, your attitude will shine through and you will attract others to you. 

There you have the top 10 things I have learned over the years.  How many of them are you doing?  I encourage you to print this list and periodically do a quick spot check - just to see how you are doing.  Before you know it, you will be celebrating success!