Tag: Greater phoenix score

Declare Your Independence – Start a Business

I have two friends who quit their jobs to start their own business on July 3 four years ago. They always refer to it as their own, personal “Independence Day.”

Starting your own business is in many ways a declaration of independence. So in honor of July Fourth, I thought I’d take a look at some myths and realities about just how independent you’ll be as a small business owner.

Myth: When you’re a small business owner, you’ll be your own boss.
Reality: As an entrepreneur, you have many bosses. They’re called your customers, and sometimes each of them will be so demanding, you’ll wish for the days when you only had one boss telling you what to do.
Myth: When you’re a small business owner, you can do things however you want to do them.
Reality: No one acts in a vacuum. If you want your business to be successful, you’ll need to test your own ideas against what the market wants. Market research before you start, and customer surveys after you start, will tell you if the way you want to do things is in tune with what the market wants.

Myth: When you’re a small business owner, you’ll have a lot more free time.
Reality: Every small business owner I know is laughing maniacally as they read that. If you expect to have more free time than you did as an employee, you’re going to be disappointed. Prepare to work twice as hard and twice as long.

If these are the realities of owning a business, why does anyone do it? Well, these aren’t the only realities. Being an entrepreneur does offer plenty of opportunities to be creative, set your own course and do what you want to do (just not all the time). Being an entrepreneur is kind of like what they say about having kids or joining the Marines: It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love. And if it’s right for you, you’ll know it—and you’ll love it.

Ready to declare your independence? A SCORE mentor can help you get your new business off on the right foot. Visit the SCORE website to get matched with a mentor and get free business advice 24/7.

To learn more about Reiva and her company, Click Here!

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What Small Business Owners Need to Know about Online Marketing.

Written By: Kristin Slice

According to Merchant Circle 51% of local merchants receive at least one online marketing sales call each week, with 10 percent called on almost a daily basis. Small business owners are barraged by sales people pushing online marketing. All of this sales pressure can be confusing and just adds to the high anxiety levels of business owners trying to improve sales. These four guiding principles will help you navigate your options:

1.)    You should have a solid Internet presence so you can be found when people are looking for you but online marketing is not for everyone! Small business owners have limited resources which means they cannot use every tool. Use the best tools for your business and your marketing strategy. It might be better to invest your dollars in more face-to-face marketing, targeted direct mail campaigns or event marketing.  Ask yourself the critical question: Does your target audience look for your services online? Second, do you have the resources to compete for those leads? In large markets (like Phoenix) it may cost a lot to be competitive.

2.)    Your business needs a solid, functioning website before you can maximize online advertising. Whether it is pay-per-click on Google or Facebook or banner ads, if people find your business online, the first thing they will do is visit your website. Make sure that you have installed an analytical program that that shows your website’s effectiveness. Meaning – those searching are taking appropriate action (calling you, placing an order, requesting more information).

3.)    Online marketing falls on a spectrum. If you just want to be found and have a basic presence, with a little bit of elbow grease you can accomplish a lot. Cut down on costs by doing what you can first. (Three Dog Marketing has a helpful guide.) You know your business and goals. Make sure that your online marketing efforts fall in line with your overall business strategy. Not everyone needs to be ranked first on Google.

4.)    One of the benefits of online marketing is that ROI and analytical data is easy to collect. The down side is that most of us have to rely on experts selling us the product to interpret the data. If you are going to invest in online marketing you don’t need to know the mechanics of how data is posted.  You just need to understand the analytics and review on a regular basis.

Online marketing is an ocean of possibilities. You don’t need be an Olympic swimmer but you do need to know enough to ensure that your business does not drown.

To learn more about Kristin and her company, Three Dog Marketing,        CLICK HERE!

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8 Tips for Writing an Up-to-Date, Engaging and Search Engine-Friendly Blog

Thinking of starting a blog? Looking for ideas for keeping your blog up-to-date, fresh and engaging?

There’s no doubt that blogs afford small businesses big payoffs. They humanize a business, position you as an expert in your field, and work hand-in-hand with your website and social media presence to improve your search engine rankings.

But for busy business owners, maintaining an active blog is easier said than done. How do you find the time? What should you write about?

Here are some tips (in no particular order of importance) to help inspire you to write and manage a business blog that is current, relevant, and stands out in online searches.

1. Create an Editorial Calendar

As any blogger will tell you, a calendar is your number one asset when it comes to managing your blog because all the planning is done in advance.

Use a spreadsheet to plan your schedule (one blog per week is fine, but two is great; if that’s too much, shoot for one every 10 days) and plan ahead – your calendar could cover an entire quarter, two months, or month. Include an outline of each post’s topic, the angle you are going to take, relevant outbound links that you want to include and who will author it. You should also build in a few days for a review cycle and the tentative publish date. It’s also useful to include placeholders for blogs that you might want to write on the fly so that you can react to topical industry or news events.

2. Don’t Be Afraid to Repurpose Content

Finding the time or an eager author to write an original blog for every slot in your calendar isn’t always possible. And there’s nothing wrong with repurposing other content every now and again. Other assets that you can repurpose include freshening up old blogs, distilling white papers or webinars into quick tips or how-to’s, and so on.

3. Master the Art of “Filler” Posts

Another tip for keeping content coming, without spending too much time putting pen to paper, is to post brief blogs or “filler” blogs that link to other sources. For example, these might include linking to another blog or industry article that you want to share, or showcasing photos from an event that you recently held or participated in. Links, images, videos, and other multi-media all take the pressure off you and often just need a few words written around them to give them context.

Think of creative ways you can keep your blog fresh, without feeling the need to research and craft something that’s entirely new.

4. Be Inspired by Your Customers

Thanks to social media, it’s easier than ever to poll, survey or get feedback from your customers. Consider turning their ideas, needs, and experiences into blog topics. For example, if you run a retail business, ask your Facebook friends to share what they did with their last purchase from you. What’s their favorite item from your new product range? Use your blog to share what your customers have to say.

If you are in the professional service business, use informal Q&A’s or send customers a survey and write a blog around the results.

Note: If you plan to feature your customers by name or include photographs of them, be sure to clear this with them first.

Beyond social media, you could draw inspiration from common questions or challenges that you hear from your customers, wherever you encounter them. Now, the skill here is not to write a blog about how your product or service can resolve these challenges, but how your insight and expertise in this field can help your customers with their pain points. For example, a hair salon owner who is frequently asked by clients how they can maintain their hair color between salon visits could write a blog offering “5 Tips for Keeping your Color Fresh between Salon Visits.”

5. Take a Peek at What Your Peers are Writing

Another way to get blog ideas is to check out what your peers are writing about. Identify and follow 5-10 of the top bloggers in your industry and follow their RSS feeds. What about industry magazines and news? Is there a new development that you should be sharing with your readers? Remember, you don’t have to write or even repurpose a blog around the topic; simply introduce the article, highlight some of the key points it makes, and link to it so readers can go there for the full read.

6. Offer Up a Guest Blog Slot

This is a great way for taking the burden off you, while adding a new face to your blogging line-up. Who should you approach? Is there an expert in your industry whom you have a relationship with (and who can write)? What about someone from a vendor or partner practice? Give them clear direction, but the creative freedom to maintain their own voice. A guest blogger can also help extend the readership of your blog – so don’t forget to ask them to promote their guest blog slot, too.

7. Use Keywords Carefully

Don’t be too strict on yourself when it comes to using SEO-related keywords that you’ve identified for your business. Remember, blog writing is quite different from the style of your other static web content. The conversational tone of a blog is a good match for the way people query search engines (there’s a reason why some of the most popular search engine results tend to be blogs and online forums)! So strike a balance: strive for a human voice and use keywords only when appropriate. Don’t forget to add tags, metatags and image tags to store important keywords you want to emphasize.

8. Promote Your Blog

It’s one thing to have good content, but take steps to share it. Showcase posts in your newsletter, add a link to it in your e-signature, post blogs on your social media sites, and make the most of the real estate on your website to cross-promote your blog. Add social sharing buttons to your blog so that others can easily share your content.

Happy and easier blogging!

 

U.S. Small Business Administration
The SBA is an independent federal agency that works to assist and protect the interests of American small businesses. The agency delivers the answers, support and resources small businesses need to start-up, grow and succeed through district offices throughout the U.S. and a network of resource partners including SCORE.

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LinkedIn Dos and Don’ts

By Giselle Aguiar

LinkedIn is a powerful networking tool for both jobseekers and businesses, but there are rules to follow. There are things that you just don’t do. LinkedIn is the Facebook for professionals and it’s nothing like Facebook.

It’s about networking

It’s not who you know, but who your contacts know. Most of the time, a 1st-level connection may never be a customer of yours but they may very well connect you with someone who might.

It’s also not about you, but about what you can do for a potential employer or client.

LinkedIn Don’ts

  1. Never ask for an endorsement from someone who doesn’t know you or your work.
  2. Don’t connect with someone you don’t know or with whom you have absolutely nothing in common.
  3. Don’t put someone down if they are not interested in your product or service. That will hurt you even more.
  4. Don’t SPAM people

LinkedIn Dos

  1. Connect with people you meet at networking events
  2. Respect their wishes to not be contacted
  3. Send them 1 announcement email only. If they are interested, they’ll respond.
  4. Request endorsements or a recommendation from people who know you or your work. If you need more of those types of connections, volunteer, then ask for the endorsement. A happy client, former co-worker, boss or a friend should be happy to recommend you.

Giselle Aguiar is a SCORE presenter and owner of AZ Social Media Wiz. to Learn more about her, CLICK HERE!

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