Is the effort of trying to come up with Content driving you crazy? Re-purpose it!

As an entrepreneur are you spending valuable time trying to create content for your newsletters, blog, social media, etc.?   Every expert on ‘web marketing’ extols the virtues of creating original content to be infused into social media, blogs and websites to generate top of mind awareness and drive business to your website. Is this causing you anxiety or are you just avoiding it?

 STOP and REPURPOSE!

 Repurposing is used to convert your message in the various formats of communication. In this case, use your unique idea and infuse it in all of your messaging: newsletter, website/blog, social media, ads and events. Not only will your message be seen by more people, it will become a natural identifier to your company when repetitively read in all of your marketing.

 Spend the time to answer the following 2 questions: 

  1. What makes you different or unique in your industry? If you were the “Specialist” or Guru in your industry, what could you teach?
  2. What stories can you tell that will highlight that uniqueness?

If the message is authentic then the ideas will flow rather than racking your brain to come up with interesting content. At least once a month – perhaps weekly – think of one story, funny anecdote, interesting link or timely statistic that you can send out to your sphere. If you are in a particularly creative mode, keep a list of ideas saved as you brainstorm. Now, write your current idea in 1-2 paragraphs. Then Repurpose it!

 Spread it throughout your marketing touch points. Be authentic and you will bring your community closer, fuel the referral business and create new content. A win-win situation!  

As Virtual COO’s for the past 3 years we have seen this system work; it’s been proven. If you are unsure of how to start, give us a call for a free assessment of your current systems. We are the Virtual COO’s for entrepreneurs who know when it’s time to bring in the team.

Strategic Partners: Who Needs ‘em?

You do!  As your marketing efforts grow, think about who best to refer you to clients.  One answer is connecting with a trusted service provider who knows you and loves you.  First, make a short list of those providers who would give you a great referral if asked.  These are your “Advocates”.  Next, reach out to the Advocates and see who would be interested in increasing awareness with clients in each other’s sphere of influence (SOI).

Some of the ways you may increase awareness are:   put flyers/brochures in the office of that serivce provider (passive), insert a link to each others website on your sites, give them a testimonial to send out or hold some type of event that brings your SOI’s together (active).  Obviously the event type is more work but there is more to be gained by it.

One group, BNI (Business Networking International), that I’ve had relationship building results with, does this on a local level.  BNI uses strategic partners to construct a structured, positive, and professional “word-of-mouth” program that enables them to develop long-term, meaningful relationships with quality business professionals. 

Jump start your own system by sitting down with your trusted providers for one-on-one meetings; go for a cup of coffee and brain storm how to bring the two spheres together.  Remember it has to be organic, meaning natural rather than forced.  So what if your business is not on a local level, that trusted provider is only a Skype call away. 

At FEW we’ve found that the often overlooked Advocates are your best cheerleaders and you want to know who they know.
 
I’d love to hear your stories about how you’ve used Strategic Partners to boost your business, email me at tina@freeenterprisewarriors.com

Accountability – why do we let it stop?

School started this month and my 11th grade daughter had some scheduling issues.  We had been unable to contact her guidance counselor and the issue needed to be addressed.  I told her the only way that it was going to get changed was to go in there and ask the counselor to meet with her right then, or to make an appointment for the next day.  We agreed that she needed to make sure the issue was handled by that Thursday. 

My daughter called me from school on Wednesday and told me that it was taken care of and she was happy with her schedule.  Wow, discussing an action plan and a deadline really worked!  She even followed up, I was so proud of her. 

But what happens to this scenario when we grow up and become adults?  As a child we are accountable to our parents and teachers.  Sometimes they put our feet to the fire and tell us we can do better.  Sometimes they check up on us to see if we’ve done our homework.  They always want to see our report card.  The watch us, and they have high expectations for us. That caring and attention (and the inspection) propel us forward.

What happens to that accountability when we are adults and on our own?  Sometimes, if we work for someone else, our boss or supervisor holds us accountable?  But, if we are self-employed or we own our own business, how do we keep ourselves accountable?  Who is watching us and asks if we’ve done what we said we would do?  Who encourages us and then checks on our progress?

The most successful entrepreneurs and business owners build accountability into their lives.  They give another person, perhaps a coach or consultant or even a board of directors the permission to hold them accountable.  They schedule regular meetings with an agenda and a way to report what they have done and how it turned out.  It keeps them focused and on track.

One of the easiest ways is to find an accountability partner – someone you can trust to tell you what you need to hear (not just what you want to hear).  This person should be like-minded and success oriented, like you.  You share with them your clear business goals, action plans and deadlines.  Then you keep track of what happens and report it to them on a regular basis.

In a sense, you allow them to treat you like your parents did when you were young.  This adds structure and rhythm to what you do.  It keeps you focused and alert.  It doesn’t let things get off-track. It prevents you from developing the wrong habits.

Just like when you were in school, this accountability spurs creative thinking and gives you energy.  I call this “accountability partner momentum”.  And, the neat thing is, you can make the process mutual and hold each other accountable.  Of course, if this doesn’t work, you can always go ask your mom!

The Fortune is in the Follow Up…

Have you ever heard this before?  People do business with people they know, like and trust.  But how do you get people to the point of trust where they buy your product or service?

There are many strategies that you can use to build a follow up system. But you will only achieve the results you want if you use it consistently.  We believe in a systematic “touch” plan based on what comes naturally to you and the flow of your business.

When you meet a new contact add them to your database. That starts the process. We believe that the most effective method of building  a relationship is to design a campaign that has 8 touches in 12 weeks (8×12).  Although we call it a campaign, it is a well thought out set of communications you send to your new contact. It always includes an introductory email which is followed by a combination of phone calls,  newsletters,  face book posts, offers, events or a post card.

After the campaign is over, if the contact has not asked to be removed from your database, they are moved  into a 24+ touch program (2 times a month).  For most of our clients that includes a monthly newsletter and another touch such as an offer or an event.  Add all your clients to this 24+ touch program so that you never lose contact with them.

Sales industry statistics show that 80% of sales are made on the 5th to 12th contact!  Is your business using a follow up system to reach your contacts consistently?  Do they ever receive a 5th touch?  Review your follow-up. If done correctly it is the least expensive way to attract new clients and insure repeat business.

Call us for a 30 minute FREE assessment of your systems.  We’ll do a quick check on your current processes and advise you on what we would do to increase your flow of clients.

Are You Willing to Let Us In? A short study in Collaboration

Working with our “Virtual COO Services” clients has become for me an enlightening experience. We have clients in different industries, different financial situations and different motivations. Without a doubt, the most successful work we have done has been with those clients that are ready to collaborate with a team. When an entrepreneur is ready to open up, we can work together to create a process by which some of the most interesting and profitable ideas start. If the entrepreneur is not open to collaboration we have seen the energy just fizzle.

We try to keep to a weekly schedule of 45 minutes to 1 hour of team sharing. We do set an agenda for the meetings, but often we go off on tangents that produce some of the most creative action items. We then go ahead and implement those ideas and then meet back the following week to measure how that worked or didn’t work.

When everyone knows what the schedule is it also become a kind of accountability exercise. Everyone on the team knows what is expected of them for the next meeting. It has the strength of a boulder rolling down hill. It keeps building on itself until it has a momentum on its own.

When an entrepreneur is not ready to share or has not gotten to the frustrating and overwhelming tipping point when they know with all certainty they need a collaborative effort, we all just end up spinning our wheels. They may see minor results but not the intensity of sharing ideas that come from a committed team environment.

This for me has truly been a learning experience and continues to open my eyes to creative collaboration.

Lighting a Fire

A few weeks ago, I happened to start a conversation with another parent at my daughter’s lacrosse game. He’d been out of work for a year and was depressed about running up against the corporate HR wall and never even receiving a response to his resume. His nest egg was running out and he had just stopped looking. I decided to start talking about positive actions that he could take to jump start a job search.

First, since I have an HR background I recommended that he go straight to the Manager of the department he wanted to be hired into. I told him to do the research and connect with that person to see if they have any openings. This is where a personal network becomes most important. If you have a good reputation in your industry you can use that network to see who knows this person and help get you in.

Our discussion evolved into “thinking outside of the box”. What directions had he not pursued? One was working as a consultant for companies in his industry. When he spoke about the industry he was energized, he was passionate about safety and loved working with architects. I asked him questions about the network of people he could tap into for potential business.

Could he consult for building owners who need his expertise while they were bidding out that part of their construction? He could be paid for his knowledge. He remembered a contact who was a safety expert but wasn’t a good salesman for his services. Could he partner to bring in business for that expert?

The ideas started to come fast, I could see a light go on and felt that a spark was lit inside him. He really understood when I was told him about Free Enterprise Warriors and our vision for entrepreneurs to “shift” away from their old mindset and see where their passions and interests might take them.

It felt great to help make a difference in the way he was feeling and thinking. A week later his wife came up to me at a game and said “thank you” for helping him to get refocused on the job search. In fact, she said, they had become accountability partners, were feeling closer together and taking positive steps toward his “shift”. Both were excited about where this was going to take them. So please remember that a sincere and caring conversation can light a spark for someone else and yourself.  Try it!

Complacency?

“A man’s work is in danger of deteriorating when he thinks he has found the one best formula for doing it. If he thinks that, he is likely to feel that all he needs is merely to go on repeating himself… ” ~Eugene O’Neill~

I’ve observed this time and again while working in HR for larger corporations: layers of people who felt entitled to a raise just for showing up or undermining the energy of the group with their complacency. They were “self-satisfied and unaware of possible dangers”.

Working with entrepreneurs, whose resources are stretched, you can see how crucial it is that their talent be motivated to do well and be their best. As an entrepreneur you cannot allow complacency to grow in your organization. If you do, you will end up spending double the time & energy to change that mindset. If the mind-numbing repetition of tasks sounds good to anyone, then you don’t want them working for you. They will not contribute new ideas, business or add to the culture of your organization.

The primary way to prevent complacency is to make the right hire in the first place. Surround yourself with like-minded people that share your energy and vision. But, sometimes even a great hire can slip into the “complacency” mindset. It’s the art of keeping them engaged and interested. You can find out through communication what makes them motivated. Schedule regular one-on-ones with employees and encourage open dialog. It’s a two way communication, you get to pass on your enthusiasm and passion, and they can share theirs back to you. You will light a spark and keep fanning it with the exchange of ideas, training and energy.

It’s a sure bet that if you are feeling frustrated, your talent is also. As a leader it’s your responsibly to bring it to the forefront and shake things up. If this doesn’t work, then it’s time to “cut bait”.- admitting it isn’t working and parting ways can be the right thing for them and for you.

Letting someone go is never easy, people sometimes looked shocked like it’s a surprise or they get upset. It can be very stressful for you, too. The first time I had to let someone go, they handed me the tissue box and they told me, “Don’t worry everything is going to be alright.” That person knew in their heart that it wasn’t the right place for them. (I have since learned to keep my composure.) Even if there is anger and tears (by both parties),you have to keep moving forward and do what’s right for the business. You must remove the complacency!

And, if making no decision is really a decision to do nothing. Then, the question is this: have you become a source of complacency?

Is Your Social Media Interrupting Your Social Life?

Imagine organizing your social networking accounts in one simple email.

About 6 months ago I received a link to a free service called NutshellMail.  So I gave it a try.  Nutshell packages all your social media updates from your Personal FaceBook page, your fan page, your twitter account, your linkedin account and even your Youtube account into one email.  You even tell NutshellMail when it’s convenient for the email to be sent to you.  You can filter each one of the accounts,so you only recieve the updates that you want.

Laurie and I have been using it ever since and found this to be a big time saver.  If you have any questions, email me at tina@freeenterprisewarriors.com.

The SWAT (Smart Women With Available Time) Team

I found this Wall Street Journal article extremely interesting and would like to pass it on to other “stay at home” entrepreneurs and business owners who are looking for dedicated, experienced employees for their positions:

The Wall Street Journal:
Lots of employers would like to be able to hire cheap, temporary teams of seasoned pros with experience managing $2 billion investment portfolios, running ad campaigns or earning Ph.D.s in neuroscience.
But few know the secret to finding temps of that caliber: Look on playgrounds and at PTA meetings.

The decision among some highly educated women to stay home with children is sparking a countertrend: The rise of the mommy “SWAT team.” The acronym, for “smart women with available time,” is one mother’s label for all-mom teams assembled quickly through networking and staffing firms to handle crash projects. Employers get lots of voltage, cheap, while the women get a skills update and a taste of the professional challenges they miss.

Skilled workers taking temp projects isn’t new, of course. What’s different about these teams is that they’re available on short notice because the women are usually at home; they tend to work cheap because their main motive is to keep their skills fresh; and they’re often extraordinarily well-qualified, having left the work force voluntarily when their careers were on the ascent.

This article sums up the win-win of hiring SWAT members who can multi-task and add value to a business.  I know, I am one of them.

Contact me if  you have any comments – tina@freeenterprisewarriors.com