October 24, 2012

Make the Most of Masterminding

If you’ve been in business for any length of time, you’ve probably been a member of a mastermind group (although you might not have called it that). If you’re new to self-employment, start or find a mastermind group... fast!

I’ve written about mastermind groups before as a way to get your own ‘board of directors’. They can take many forms. I’ve been fortunate to have been a member of several during my years as a small business owner. I’ve started and ended groups, joined and left groups.

Some groups have been short term with a specific purpose. A few years ago I studied an internet marketing course with a small group over a 6 month period. It was fun and educational to learn together.

Some groups have been more long term and general purpose. I currently meet with two other women business owners monthly to discuss ideas, learn from and motivate each other.

Whether short term or long term, specific or general, big or small, I’ve learned a few things from my experiences. The members must be:
  • committed
  • trustworthy
  • likeable
  • varied in their skills and character
  • willing to share and learn

Remember that participating in a mastermind is an investment of time and effort. Make sure you're getting greater value in return.

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on October 24, 2012

Passion in the Workplace

For years I slogged away at a corporate job that was good most days, really bad on others. I would dream about the day I could start gardening for a living. What a joy! Taking time to smell the roses - it sounded like heaven.

Gardening is my passion. It lifts my mood and makes all my worries fall away. Those of us that live inside our head are difficult to bring down to earth. Gardening does that for me.

My whole life I was told if you follow your passion, the money will come. Children and a house payment made me wary of jumping in. What if the money doesn't come? So I chose the safe route with the golden handcuffs.

In the fall of 2009, my opportunity finally came. I started gardening for a living. I got the word out and the calls came in. I was almost instantly busy and over the moon with excitement!

But wait a minute... why was it that within only a couple of weeks I was no longer enjoying it? And within a month, I was starting to not enjoy my own garden? This was not at all what I expected and would simply not do! I stopped gardening that same fall.

Needing to make a living and not wanting to go back to the corporate world I started working with Linda at Daley Progress. Initially, it was short term. I needed work, she needed help, we were best friends, it was a win-win. Neither of us expected the results we got.

What I found out is that you don't have to follow your passion to be passionate about your work. Working with small business opened my whole world up. The differences are huge: instant gratification, visible positive results and many excited telephone calls. Although a temporary solution, it turned out to be just what I needed and I love it!

If you are someone who is not following your passion, remember this - you don't need to follow your passion to be passionate about what you do.

What a relief!

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder on October 24, 2012

October 17, 2012

It doesn't have to be About You

Let’s face it: some businesses are in a better position to provide valuable information through newsletters (blogs, social media) than others.

Take our own newsletter as an example. We could easily publish a newsletter about publishing newsletters. (Stay with me here.) It would have lots of tips and suggestions and advice. We could really show off our expertise and share our opinions. Now, who would that appeal to? People who are publishing their own newsletters. Perhaps even people who are publishing newsletters for others. These people aren’t our target market - not even close.

Our newsletter has nothing to do with our area of specialty. But of course we have to have one. What’s an 'enewsletter boutique' without its own newsletter?

So we found something else of use to our target market:  ideas and tips for small business owners shared by other small business owners. And (big bonus here) members of our target market are the authors of our newsletter!

Giving value doesn’t have to be about what you can do for your target market. It just needs to be, well, valuable to them.

October 10, 2012

The Moral of the Story

Aesop's Fables have a clear moral lesson backed up by a little story. The story makes it more interesting than just passing out advice. It demonstrates the results of heeding or not heeding the advice.

Advice delivered as a 'fable' appeals to both our emotions and our intellect.

Fast-forward 2600 years to the present. Technology has made it easier than ever before to tell fables and share advice. We don't even have to know each other.

Our fables today are perhaps more fleeting than Aesop's, but are made more real by the use of photos and videos. A photo can tell a whole story, including the moral, sometimes without words at all.

Social media, blogs and newsletters are excellent venues for sharing fables. If you're looking for some 'content creation' inspiration, try this long list of morals for stories.

The moral of this story? "Lessons are not given, they are taken."

Originally published in Work Better, Not Harder October 10, 2012

October 6, 2012

Do You Want 1,000,000 Subscribers?

Tasting Table (www.tastingtable.com) grew its contact list to 1,000,000 subscribers in just 3 years. That’s pretty amazing on its own but here’s the kicker - it’s a daily newsletter. (I only have to get 998,000 more subscribers to catch up.)

Would I want a mailing list of 1,000,000 subscribers? Most definitely ... if I owned a marketing company that sells advertising. I don’t, and most of you don’t either. (If you do, you know this stuff better than I do.)

If Daley Progress had 1,000,000 subscribers, we’d never keep up with all the work generated. Because our capacity is limited, the time and effort spent to get that many subscribers would be wasted. We try to match our efforts to our desired results.

As small business owners, our email marketing goals can be quite different and distinct. Not all of us want 1,000,000 subscribers. But we do need to continually get new subscribers because, over time, our lists can drop by as much as 30% over a year through attrition (called ‘churn’). We need to work simply to maintain our list - and work even harder to grow it.

If your newsletter is bringing you positive results, it’s worth the effort to continue to promote it - so you can multiply those results. ‘Selling’ your newsletter should be part of your ongoing marketing strategy. It has to continue way beyond implementation.

October 4, 2012

Un-credible Words

Just because you say it's so, doesn't make it true. Take this email disclaimer below as an example. Please, read the small print.

The first line sounds pretty good... ethical and all that. And hey, they respect me. I might believe it if I had actually subscribed. I know I didn't because I never subscribe to anything using the particular email address this came to. I'm already questioning their sincerity.

Next they tell me that removal is automatic and "enforced" (whatever that means). Apparently "automatic" means 2-3 business days in this case.

The link to click to start the "process for email deletion" opens an email with their address filled in, nothing else. Decidedly NOT automatic.

The other way I know I didn't subscribe to this email list is that I would never sign up for anything that "may be a newsletter, press release, solicitation or advertisement."

The "best practices in responsible email marketing" line is supposed to be the clincher. It was - now I'm absolutely positive that they're completely un-credible. Look at how many words they had to use to convince me of that!

PS: The email itself was 100% promotional and poorly executed. It came from a brokerage firm that gets you "the best price for all of your internet and marketing needs". When I clicked through to their website and then to their Twitter profile, I discovered they have 1 tweet and 2 followers. Need I say "irony"?

October 1, 2012

Is Your Facebook Business Page Public?

Update November 8, 2015 - The instructions in this blog post are out of date.

It goes without saying that if you have a Facebook business page you want the public to be able to see it. Making sure your individual posts have security set at public is just one layer of FB security. Did you know you could restrict viewers by country? If you do this, it means that clients who are not FB users, cannot see your page. In order for those not on FB to see your page, there can be no country restrictions. If you have country restrictions, FB requires users to login before your page is visible because FB needs to know what country the user is in... and the only way it knows that is if the user is logged in.

If your page has no country restrictions, those not on FB will still see your page with the FB sign up/login window on top of it like this...

They will be able to view all of the content you have on your business page and the FB login window stays on the cover so it does not obstruct their reading of your posts.

To change this setting:

  • login to your facebook business page
  • from the top menu click the Edit Page drop down menu
  • select manage permissions
  • the second item is country restrictions, delete any countries listed so that option is blank