Why Friends and Family Do (and don’t) Support Your Business

my_morning_blog_631435I am happy and humbled to agree with writer, Gerard Kersey as he discusses the reasons why some businesses don’t receive the support and promotion of friends and family, they feel they deserve. (Read: “Why Won’t My Family and Friends Do More to Help My Business?” via the HuffPost.)

Like, Mr. Kersey, my friends and family have been very supportive of my business aspirations.  Even when (I’m sure) my amateur “management” styles tested the patience of those who were there in the very beginning… they were still there. Since then and continuing, the Lord has blessed me and my business with a strong support system and I am so very grateful.

In return, I strive to be a professional that my friends and family can be proud to promote. I work and train hard to be good at what I do.  I have materials (a web site, LinkedIN profile, and a Facebook page, for starters) that reflect me as a professional (so that they can point to them without hesitation), but I don’t hound them or their “network.” Also, I do my best to be readily available to them (or their referrals), whenever my expertise or assistance is needed.  It’s funny – but as I write, I wonder how many of my family members know exactly what I do. Since I’m 8 years into the “solo-preneur” game, they’d probably have a good idea, but the more important factor is that they know – any referral made to “HireAlexis” is one that can be trusted for its integrity.

What more can you ask for?

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Now Is A Great Time to Check Your List

Direct-Mktng-ListAcq-StatWhether you’re a bookshop, a not-for-profit arts organization, a consultant, or an accountant, you need a steady stream of business, referrals, or responses from the people that keep your doors open. That starts with staying in regular communication with your audience.

When you build an ongoing dialogue, you increase the trust and comfort level they have with you. They look forward to hearing from you. You’ll stay top of mind with them. As a result, they’ll become more loyal, spend more on your products and services, donate more frequently, and be more likely to refer you to their friends or colleagues.

Sounds great, right? The easiest, most effective way to build that dialogue is with email marketing. And that’s why it’s so important for small businesses and nonprofits to have and grow a contact list. Download this guide from ConstantContact, start your FREE Trial, and HireAlexis to get you started with a FREE 30 minute consultation and digital flyer*.

*Offer expires 3/31/2015. Restrictions apply on digital flyer. No purchase necessary.

5 Basic Steps to Secure Paid Sponsorship for your Radio Show (or other multi-media series)

Step 1:

  • Plan your series. This is “Step one” for a reason. Sponsorship is not about dollars and cents, entirely. It’s about lending your (brand) name to trusted sources that will represent your company in a favorable light in association with a specific work. Plan your series before asking anyone to support it with their (brand) name or dollars.

For example: If you host a weekly show/series, and are seeking monthly sponsors, plan at least 3 months ahead. Today is June 2. Start with your July series. List the show/discussion/presentation topics, intended reference points (guiding principles to that frame your perspective and/or objective for the presentation), planned guest speakers, and other information that is specific and compelling.

  • Combine this information into a simple but attractive “sponsorship kit” that can be easily shared with your prospects. Don’t attempt to answer every likely question your prospects may have in this simple overview. Address the formal basics (including actual staring point pricing) and plan to negotiate (if applicable) in follow-up conversation.

Step 2, Part I:

  • Contact your prospective guest speakers/resident experts. Have a standard process by which guests are invited. Require confirmation of their participation at least two weeks from broadcast date and secure their materials/information for marketing the event. Be prepared to share this process with your sponsors to assure them of programming plans.

Step 2, Part II:

  • Contact (secure) your sponsors. Use your one page “sponsorship kit” (BlogTalkRadio offers a nice template to get your started. Check it out here.)  This step has several “mini-steps” and will require a concentrated effort. Let me know if you need help effectively mobilizing your marketing team of 1 to 100.

Step 3:

  • Advertise your series. This is an important element to your sponsors. Be prepared to discuss and implement a sound marketing/advertising strategy. In this capacity you are acting in the stead of your sponsors, ensuring that they are well-represented in affiliation with your show and that their sponsorship/involvement is made known to a large, but targeted, audience.

Step 4:

  • Host your show. There is no backing out now. Plan to proceed no matter what challenges you face. Develop and confirm back-up plans for all areas of “show management.”

Step 5:

  • Report. Depending on your topic and platform, your follow-up “report” may be delivered in any number of ways. Find one or several that fit your purpose and use it, well. Your ‘follow-up”/ “recap” will benefit: 1) your audience, 2) your sponsors (mention them with thanks and point audience to them for specific resources and services), and 3) your marketing.

…….WIN/WIN/WIN….. 🙂ThankYou_SPonsors

Sidenote:

Quality counts. Take the time to develop your presentation with an authentic voice your own and practice your delivery. Early commitments of sponsorship may come based more on pre-existing relationships (This is good! Check out some basics for effective marketing, ) than immediately measurable ROI (Return on Investment) indicators of ROI but in order to keep them and expand your pool (profits) you’ll have to deliver a consistent and quality product.

Have questions? Need help? HireAlexis™ (contact me)

10 WAYS TO GET CLIENTS IN 10 MINUTES

The following is one of many great resources from GetClientsNow!(TM):

“Does it seem like you can never find the time to market for more clients? It’s hard to find open hours in the middle of a busy week. But not every marketing task requires big chunks of time. Here are ten productive things you can do to get more clients when you have just ten minutes.

1. Place a call. Which of your past clients have been totally happy with your work over the past couple of years? Think of one you haven’t been in touch with recently. Call to see how he or she is doing. When your fans are reminded of your good work, new projects and referrals often ensue.

2. Send an email. Who has referred you the best client over the last year? Send an email to express your continuing thanks. Showing your appreciation to referral sources frequently results in more referrals.

3. Make a date. Think of a prospect or referral source you have always wanted to know better. Contact that person and make a date to have coffee or chat by phone. Informal conversations deepen relationships and build trust.

4. Expand your network. Log on to your social media channel of choice, and choose a colleague you think of as well-connected. View that friend’s connections. Send connection requests, or follow, every one of those people you recognize. More people in your network means more potential prospects.

5. Review your image. Browse through your website or social media profile with a critical eye. View each section as if you were someone visiting for the first time. Note any areas you think could improve and schedule time to make some changes. First impressions make a difference to surfing prospects.

6. Examine your contacts. Scan your contact database seeking anyone who might be a prospect that you haven’t made contact with in the last 30 days. Reach out to that person with a personal call or note. People who already know you are more likely to become clients than new, cold contacts.

7. Send an article. What’s the last article you read that might be helpful to some of your prospects? Email them with a link to it or mail them a copy. When prospects perceive you as a helpful resource, you gain their confidence.

8. Follow up a meeting. What was the last meeting you attended where you collected business cards? Did you follow up with those people? Find the stack of cards and send one or two a nice-to-meet-you note. Repeated contact helps people to remember you.

9. Touch your network. Visit your favorite social network and peruse recent posts by the prospects and referral sources you’re connected to. Post some likes and replies about what they’re saying. Relationships build when communication is two-way.

10. Find a referral partner. Think of occupations who naturally come in contact with your ideal clients. Then consider who you already know in any of those occupations. Send a quick note to suggest you talk about becoming referral sources for each other.

Marketing projects don’t have to consume your whole day. You can chip away at them a bit at a time, whenever you have a few moments. Keep this list handy on your smartphone or by your computer. The next time you’ve got ten minutes to kill, use it to find clients instead.”

Copyright © 2012, C.J. Hayden

 

Your “Secret” to New Year Resolution Success

The “secret” to success with your New Year resolutions is …… START NOW.
(You are probably already considering the things you want to do and change in 2013…am I right?)

startWell, by deciding now and waiting until later to get started, you are building on a foundation of procrastination…and setting yourself up for further delays in the achievement of your goals.

The key is to start now! “Striking while the iron is hot” – so to speak – by constructing a plan that will start immediately to (at least gradually) build to direct daily and weekly ACTIONS that will promote your goal achievement.

Here are some quick tips to help you on your way…

1) Start now – Plan your reward. Few things motivate like the promise of a reward. What’s even better?!? You can offer yourself a reward for even the “smallest” of accomplishments. Start now and consider how you will reward yourself TODAY for getting started.

2) Start now – Write it down, draw a picture, “pin” an interest…something. Take the proactive step of making your goal real by creating a visual impression of your “finish line” and anything you want and need to make it a reality.

3) Start now – Handle your business. This might mean waking up little earlier, taking shorter breaks during the day, or getting to bed a little later. (I advise against planning for all three at once…can you say “burn out”?!?). Identifying time is key component in your success. You can’t “make” time (we all have the same 24 hours a day), but you can prioritize your time. This may mean letting something go for a season, but you can strike a balance. Aligning your goals and action plans with the support of a good Coach can really help with this. (I’m accepting new coaching clients, by the way. Feel free to contact me, if you’re interested.)

4) Start now – Consider ways to track and measure your progress. Some measurements will be basic math. Others may be more subjective – but NO LESS VALUABLE or measurable. Say, you have a personal resolution to get healthier. You can track weight loss and muscle gain with scales that give you direct quantifiable results of your work. However, your success with your goal to get more rest and take time to indulge in mental health activities will only be measured by how you feel—which is unique and subjective – but measurable, nonetheless. Likewise, a professional goal to become a “better speaker” can very well be facilitated by specific action steps, with the results being numerically measured (increased # of booked speaking engagements, evaluation scores, or  number of closed sales after presentations) and/or subjectively assessed (“I feel more comfortable speaking about my products or services than I did a month ago.”)

5) Start now – Encourage yourself. Starting the journey toward a new venture, a changed habit, or simply a renewed focus, can be daunting, but is almost always worth the effort. No matter the final outcome, you grow stronger, smarter, and more confident from the effort you apply.

6) START NOW!

Best Wishes for a strong finish of 2012 and A productive launch into 2013,

Alexis

Why You Need a Small Business Management Consultant

Article shared in it’s entirety from “The Raymond Aaron Group”: http://aaron.com/2012/04/25/why-you-need-a-small-business-management-consultant/

Why You Need a Small Business Management Consultant

For most people, owning your own business sounds like a dream come true. You get to be your own boss, choose your hours, and make all the important decisions about how you’ll allocate your resources. That’s how it sounds…

Any real business owner knows the truth. That running a small business is much more complicated, time-consuming, and challenging that most people make it out to be. Even worse, running a small business is often less profitable than those on the outside believe.

That vast majority of small business owners earn a salary of exactly how much is left in their bank account after paying all of the expenses. At the end of some months, that may amount to a nice living. On others, well, it’s not a pretty picture.

With out proper planning and management, those margins can easily go negative. Quite honesty, that’s exactly how most small businesses go under.

Opportunity Favors the Prepared Mind

Now it doesn’t have to be this way. There’s no reason why your business has to live month-to-month with no real guiding philosophy or mission. Here’s the secret: Running a successful business is not rocket science. Nearly anyone can do it.

Surly you’ve met some at least one successful business owner that you were certain that you were smarter than. You probably wondered, “How can this mental midget run a successful company, while I can barely stay employed?”

Frankly, I don’t know how your acquaintance does it — maybe he or she inherited the business.

What I do know is how I manage to do it. And trust me, I’m no brain surgeon. So what’s my secret? It’s simple: I rely on management consultants. Most business owners do. That’s why they’re still in business.

The way I see it, who needs a prepared mind, when I can rent one at a very reasonable cost? It’s the opportunity that I’m seeking, after all, I’m not trying to earn an MBA. Right?

Building a relationship with a good management is often the difference between a flourishing business and a dream that went splat.

Making you into a Manager

Most entrepreneurs jump into a business with big ideas and lots of optimism. Typically, it’s not enthusiasm that we lack, it’s discipline… and probably foresight too. I mean, why else would we have been so enthusiastic about starting a business? Just kidding.

That’s why it’s so important to seek wise council. A good small business management consultant can help you craft a plan that set realistic goals and benchmarks. A management consultant will plan for setbacks, refunds, and unexpected costs that an inexperienced business owner wouldn’t foresee or know to plan for.

More often than not, it’s not the product that drops a business dead in its tracks. It’s unexpected costs and unexpected revenue hiccups during the growth process. These are exactly the reasons most small business owners need a management consultant.

You can’t do it all yourself, so stop pretending that you can be all things to all people all the time. Sorry to be the one to break it to you, but you don’t score 100% in every aspect of management.

Believing that you somehow aced the management test is a sure sign that you’re in over your head. If you want your organization to grow, you can’t approach ever challenge alone. It’s a trap that you don’t want to find yourself in, trust me. If at no other times at all, every successful business needs management consulting during two phases.

Start-up and No Man’s Land

These are two of the most often written about stages of business development, but for very different reasons.

Most entrepreneurs love to fantasize about the start-up phase, mainly because it seems like the sky’s the limit and there are few if any limitations on where your business might be able to go. It’s an exciting time in the life of a business because it’s’ where you put your concept into action, finally getting real world feedback.

Obviously, start-up is also the time in which planning is absolutely essential. This includes staffing, strategic partnerships, and financial forecasts.

For any right-brained idea-man, or idea-woman, who’s launched a start-up, it becomes immediately apparent that you’re in over your head. If you’re overly meticulous, you may find yourself completely bogged down in routine tasks, never having enough time to develop new strategies and processes.

In either case, the clock is ticking and you’ll soon find out if you can hack it all by yourself…

Or you can do the smart thing and hire someone to teach you to become a better manager. Business management consulting is a great way to elevate your game quickly, by outsourcing the learning curve to someone who’s already been there and done that.

No Man’s Land is an entirely different story. Just as the name implies, this stage in the growth of a business is not so fun or exciting. It’s the point at which you business has grown large enough to no long be considered “small,” but is far from being “big” either.

No Man’s Land is the point at which you have to scale up and go big, or else begin to atrophy. In many ways, it’s a lot like the start-up phase, without all the illusions that made it so thrilling.

Because it involves even more fundraising, organizational efficiency, and staffing, No Man’s Land is where a business management consultant becomes no longer necessary, but mandatory.

Creating the Business You Want to Run

The best part about a good business management consultant is that they become an asset, rather than a cost. The changes they suggest should make you money, or at the very least free up time or money that can be better leveraged elsewhere.

After a basic, surface level analysis, it’s easy for any veteran consultant to spot the weaknesses in your market position. I hate to burst your bubble, but they’re there, even if you can’t see them.

A consultant should be able to analyze the marketplace your business operates in and offer up suggestions that will put your business in a better competitive position.

With better positioning, you company will become more marketable. With redundancies and other bottlenecks eliminated, your business will reduce costs, increase production, and become more profitable.

That’s why I always tell people that a good small business management consultant is a business asset. Rather than costing you money, a good consultant will make you money. Over the long run they’re advice will be worth exponentially more than it cost to acquire it.

With the right management and guidance, your company can become a mission driven machine that runs smoothly and rallies around the cause or purpose you initially envisioned. Businesses that are built to deliver on a clear purpose or goal are actually much easier to grow and maintain than a hastily cobbled together organization.

It’s really not all that surprising, when you think about it. Many of the biggest, most profitable companies in the world, the Apples, the Nordstroms, the Whole Foods, etc. are also the most inspiringly single-minded.

That’s the kind of business you originally wanted to own anyway.

Article shared in it’s entirety from “The Raymond Aaron Group”: http://aaron.com/2012/04/25/why-you-need-a-small-business-management-consultant/