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!