Small business consulting, executive coaching and corporate training firm specializing in transforming dreamers into successful entrepreneurs. We partner with small business owners, aspiring entrepreneurs and nonprofit startup leaders to bridge the gap between where they are now and where they need to be to build successful, sustainable, and profitable business models.
We connect Chicago small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs to knowledge and resource capital needed to succeed on a global platform; small business consulting and executive coaching.
Aspiring entrepreneurs often ask our consulting firm how to make the best use of their startup investment. During the startup phase while budgets are tight and there are many unknowns, your best use of available funding will always be wherever you will receive the highest return on your investment (ROI). You have to ask yourself which strategy(ies) will yield the most bang for your buck and lead you to generating revenue the fastest.
I recommend completing a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis before you spend a dime of your startup investment. A cost-benefit analysis is a systematic, quantitative approach that helps you to weigh the pros and cons (benefits vs. costs) of a particular transaction. In your case, I would create a chart with at least 3 columns.
How to Evaluate the Best Use of Your Startup Investment
The first column of each row will indicate the action being evaluated. You would list your options – website, SEO, packaging/branding
The second column lists the costs of the action as close to the actual dollar amount as is possible to achieve. Request quotes from vendors or perform a little research if you aren’t sure of exact costs. Make sure to consider resources available for successful implementation of the intended action as there are costs associated with this as well.
The third column should identify the expected results or outcomes (the benefits) of implementing the action. Again, it is important to be as concise and specific here as possible. Focus on how much revenue will be generated (or even costs reduced if that’s a factor) as a result of taking this action. Create a sum total of all benefits associated with any action taken.
Now, review your completed chart and determine which solution will be a) cost the least to implement yet b) generate the most benefits in terms of revenue earned. Since every business model is a little different, without knowing more about your specific situation, performing a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is my best recommendation to determine the best use of any startup investment. If you want additional assistance with this process, I highly recommend requesting an Emergency Biz Boom Session via Skype to really tackle this decision head-on.
How did you decide how to make the best use of your startup investment? Did you have a plan? Let us know in the comments below and if you found value in this post, please share it with your networks.
Many bloggers struggle with how they can find time to blog. This is because bloggers are often juggling full-time jobs, kids and other priorities that make it difficult to add blogging to the top of their priority list. Having raised two children of my own, both with special needs, as a full-time student with a full-time job, I totally get it!
My small business clients, especially those participating in my JumpStart program, understand how important it is to blog in order to showcase your expertise, build a relationship with your dream customers and to positively impact SEO. Still, they ask me time and again how it is possible to fit creating quality, engaging content into their already packed schedules. In order to find time to blog, let’s take it back to the basics.
5 Ways to Find Time to Blog
First, set boundaries between time you work and time you blog and time for personalstuff. Say “no” to things that don’t fall under the category scheduled during the time you’ve set aside for them. Schedule the time accordingly using technology like Google Calendar alerts or even your smartphone alarm.
Second, determine how much time is required to realistically research, write and publish each post. It used to take me hours but now it takes me only a half hour to publish a solid post. How? I reuse content! I also don’t worry about making mistakes along the way because I can always go back and correct them later, even AFTER the post has been published.
Third, set a goal for how often you realistically need/want to post to stay engaged with your audience. At a minimum, you most likely will want to post at least once a week to keep fresh content on your site to feed the search engines as well as interest among your readers.
Fourth, take advantage of scheduled posts features if you have time to write multiple posts in one sitting. For instance, say I want to post once each week but I find myself engrossed in a topic and whip out 3 posts in one sitting. I schedule those 3 to publish each in its own week but maintain my original schedule so I’m actually ahead. Also, using PLR as a starting point can reduce writing time, just be sure to communicate and tweak in your own voice suitable to your audience.
Lastly, hire a coach who can help hold you accountable to your writing goals. Sometimes we just can’t do it alone. Until you have the discipline in place, it is beneficial to have an impartial, nonjudgmental person help rear you in and identify any time wasters. You would be surprised at home much time you’re probably allowing to get away.
That’s all you have to do to find time to blog. Do you have any other helpful tips you want to add? Drop them in the comments below and if you found value in this post, please share with your networks.
Many of my clients get their first taste of business ownership in multi-level marketing companies. Unfortunately, this type of business model often gets a bad rap because so many aspiring entrepreneurs have absolutely no idea how to succeed in multi-level marketing and fail miserably. You can absolutely succeed in a multi-level marketing (MLM) business and do so pretty quickly as long as you have the 4 P’s of Profitin place, which I often discuss in my training programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners.
Succeed in Multi-Level Marketing with the 4 P’s of Profit
Passion – This is the number one reason why multi-level marketers fail. You sign up because you see the glitz and the glam of the promised wealthy lifestyle rather than actually being passionate about the products and services you offer. You have to have passion to start any business, multi-level marketing included. The bottom line is entrepreneurship is difficult and especially in the very beginning while you’re building your business. There is no magic bullet that will make you rich quick but there are proven steps that you can implement to help you succeed in multi-level marketing faster. Make sure that whatever venture you are embarking on is driven by your passion for the products and services you offer or no amount of education nor processes will help you succeed.
Purpose – You have to have a why, whether this is a personal mission or a business mission. Your passion is the what you do but your purpose is the why you do it. What do you hope to accomplish as a result of your hard work. What is the end game? What is your vision? What impact do you want to have? Starting a business without a clear purpose in mind, even an already set-up business such as multi-level marketing, will leave you drowning in mindless activity. It’s like getting in a car without knowing where you want to go. If you don’t have a clue where you’re going, how can you plan for gas, driving time, budget needed, rest stops, etc.? You will succeed in multi-level marketing if you have a purpose to focus you.
Partners – These are the people who will support you and your business. This is everyone including your upline, downline, immediate family and best friends (who by the way are not always your customers), business consultants and coaches like myself, accountants, attorneys and other service providers. This also includes your customers who not only buy your products and services but also clue you in on their needs and interests so you can serve them better. You cannot succeed in multi-level marketing without a solid team around you.
Processes – These are the tried and true, proven best practices, automated tools and duplicable activities that you strategically and intentionally implement to build and sustain your business. The more efficient your operations, the easier and faster you will earn money. I also sometimes refer to this P as “Productivity” because with adequate processes in place, you will be more productive.
Incorporate the 4 P’s of Profit into your marketing plan and you absolutely will be successful in multi-level marketing. For more information about how to succeed in multi-level marketing businesses, check out my book, Why YOU SUCK at Network Marketing. You will find out how to avoid many of the pitfalls most multi-level marketers make that keep them broke and broken.
Have you found success in network marketing? If so, tell us how you did it in the comments below and, if you found this post helpful, please share it to your networks.
Small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs have it pretty easy in today’s global economy. The internet allows a level playing for entrepreneurs to easily connect to potential customers through multiple channels. Webinars provide one of the highest returns on investment for business owners who want to expand your brand. There are many different types of web conferencing software to choose from; however, this post provides a quick overview of three of the best webinar platforms for entrepreneurs.
First, let’s get a basic understanding of what we’re dealing with. Webinars are a type of class that is delivered online through web conferencing software. The software allows attendees to participate from anywhere in the world by logging into a specific webinar platform. Users can then hear, see and interact with the webinar host and other webinar participants.
Although there are many webinar platforms to choose from, they are definitely not all created equal. Webinar platforms for entrepreneurs vary by maximum number of attendees allowed, ability to brand or co-brand, ability to save and record sessions and, of course, cost. Bootstrapping business owners on a budget can save money and still take advantage of some of the best available features with these easy-to-use webinar platforms for entrepreneurs.
3 Webinar Platforms for Entrepreneurs
Bigmarkerboasts itself as being one of the world’s largest webinar networks. The platforms is fairly simple to use and they have several live and recorded webinar trainings to help you master its robust technology. You can host any type of webinar, class, presentation, live streaming or even a private session that you want. Unlike some platforms, you don’t have to waste space downloading the software to your hard drive and you have the option to monetize your events. There is a free trial and actual pricing is as low as $19 per month (billed annually) for up to 25 participants. Paid subscriptions allow you to record, store, download, and publish webinars on your channel, website, and YouTube
Freeconferencecallhas been around for years and is an industry leader in voice conferencing; however, the company has quite recently rolled out its own webinar platform for entrepreneurs. The service allows you to have completely free online meetings, save and record them for later playback, and easily collaborate with audio, screen sharing and video conferencing tools for up to 1,000 participants. One caveat; however, is that the phone conference lines are not always reliable so webinar participants using phone lines for audio may be disappointed. Businesses who want to custom brand their webinars and gain access to powerful analytics can request a quote to upgrade service.
Zoom Conferencingprovides a little bit more flexibility on its free program that allows for up to 50 participants and most of the bells and whistles that come with traditional webinar platforms for entrepreneurs. Paid programs offer a higher level of customization and additional methods to join into the webinars; however, much of what most entrepreneurs will want to do can easily be accomplished in the free version.
What webinar platforms for entrepreneurs are you using in your business? Do you have any experience working in any of these web conferencing solutions? Let us know in the comments below and if you found value in this post, please share it with your networks.
Creating a successful business requires that you first build your tribe. A tribe is a group of like-minded individuals who come together for a common cause. In terms of business, your tribe is made up of your dream customers – the prospects with whom your vision, message and mission resonates and who are both willing and able to pay your prices.
In our popular JumpStart Virtual Business Boot Camp, we hone in on the importance of using your tribe to trigger an increase in sales. The program walks aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners step-by-step on how to easily build your tribe. This is a brief overview of the steps covered in-depth throughout the training.
How to Build Your Tribe in 7 Simple Steps
Identify your dream customers. Before you can even begin to build a tribe, you first have to decide who they are. Your business success primarily hinges upon this important step. Your dream customers are often a reflection of who you are and what experiences you have come through in life. Determine who you most want to work with. What do they look like? What is important to them? Where can you find them?
Create your Signature Solution. What products or services will you offer your dream customers? What is the best solution to either increase pleasure or decrease the pain associated with a particular need or desire affecting your dream customers? What knowledge, skills and expertise do you possess that can help your dream customers fulfill their needs? Build a value-packed solution to serve your dream customers.
Differentiate yourself from alternatives. What are your dream customers already doing to fulfill their needs? What other products or services are being offered in the marketplace? Determine how you can develop a competitive advantage so that your dream customers will choose you over the other available options.
Build an online community. In this day and age, everybody is online. This means the number one place you will find your dream customers is also online. Create a Facebook group, or even a LinkedIn group, that will serve as a community for your dream customers. This is where you will really build your tribe. Give it a benefits-focused name that easily explains to your dream customer what the group is for and why they should join. Check out the Design Your Dream Biz Training & Accountability group we created for the JumpStart program.
Engage followers with quality content. Use your online community to share relevant resources, blog posts, free eBooks or webinars, tips and advice your dream customers can use to address their needs. Give authentically to position yourself as an expert in your field. You will build your tribe really fast if members of your community get to know, like and trust your opinions.
Promote a powerful call-to-action. Seek always to motivate your community members to deepen their connection with you by instructing them to take specific, strategic actions. Regularly promote your Signature Solution among your tribe to move them quickly through your sales funnel. Use your group to convert prospects into paying customers. Ask for sales!
Focus on growing your group. Continue to invite new prospects into your online community to build your tribe. Create ads and send out requests to your dream customers to also invite other like-minded individuals. The more value you provide to your current members, the more likely they will invite others to join. Offer referral incentives whenever possible.
Once your tribe is in place, everything you do should be promoted within your online community. You can build your tribe in as little as thirty days. The most important thing to remember is to provide consistent, relevant value so you can attract and retain your dream customers.
How did you build your tribe? Did you find this post useful? Please let us know in the comments below and if you found value in this post, please do share it with your networks.
Public speakers come in all varieties of shapes and sizes. Depending on the audience and goals of a particular event, speakers can serve one or more important purposes. Public speakers may educate, motivate, fuel change and growth, promote awareness, inform or even entertain. Regardless of the purpose of the public speaker, one thing is for certain – the speaker can make or break the event.
Event planners and organizations that host events seek speakers who can not only serve up their goals and objectives but also be highly engaging and interactive subject matter experts. This makes for a lucrative business among the most talented public speakers. If you are an aspiring public speaker, one of the first steps to marketing yourself to meeting organizers and others who seek you out is to determine just what type of speaker you are. Depending on your expertise and skill, you might fall into one or more of the following categories.
Types of Public Speakers
Motivational/Inspirational Speakers – These types of public speakers either motivate or encourage individuals and groups to think or do something different. Motivational and inspirational speakers give positive “pep talks” to their audiences to encourage them to overcome obstacles, think bigger and reach beyond their normal way of doing things. Examples of these types of public speakers are Les Brown and Tony Robbins.
Corporate Speakers – This type of public speaker teaches soft or technical skills to individuals and groups within a business environment. Corporate speakers, or corporate trainers as they’re usually referred, instruct employees to acquire skills that help them do their jobs more effectively. Topics such as team building and conflict resolution are taught by corporate speakers.
Marketing Speakers – These public speakers are sales and marketing professionals who are experts at the top of their game. Marketing speakers usually have excelled in their industries by knocking sales quotas out of the park. Sales and marketing speakers often develop duplicable systems and share these systems within their talks. Dale Carnegie is a famous marketing speaker who turned his skill into a major public speaking brand.
Futurists and Trend Experts – These types of public speakers watch trends and make predictions of how the market will flow or a particular industry will respond based on their observations. They then put together informative talks to convey their projections to specialized audiences. Some futurists, or futurologists, are scientists who practice philosophizing about possibilities and then assemble research to support their forecasts. Futurists and trend experts have been instrumental in raising awareness of the global warming phenomenon.
So what type of public speaker are you? Let us know in the comments below. Remember, you can fall into one or more categories depending on the audience and purpose of the event. Tailor your style and presentation to meet the needs of the market you serve. Want to further expand your public speaking platform? Check out our Speakers Bureau for an opportunity to market yourself at upcoming events.
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March is Women’s History Month. How is your small business catering to this lucrative target market this month?
Women are earning, spending, and influencing purchases at a greater rate than ever before. In fact, female customers are well on their way to controlling over two-thirds of total consumer wealth within the next decade. Unfortunately, almost 91% of women feel that business owners don’t understand them nor speak to their needs. If you don’t have a solid marketing plan in place, you’re missing an amazing opportunity to reach this demographic.
…almost 91% of women feel that business owners don’t understand them…
Take advantage of Women’s History Month to run special promotional offers that specifically target female customers. If you are a woman-owned business, March is the perfect time to toot your own horn. Here are a few things you can do to attract and retain the female market.
Ask them what they want. Too often business owners assume they know what women want without actually asking them anything. The end result is marketing messages that come off as misogynistic and patronizing. If you really want to know what makes women tick, go directly to the source. Include female customers in market research, product development, polls and focus groups. Engage in deeper conversations to get to the root of consumer concerns. Social media is great for this!
Stay on top of women-centered issues. Do you know what’s trending in the world of women’s issues? Look out for news coverage that speaks out about all things concerning women. Follow and connect with both women-owned businesses and organizations that cater to women’s causes. Use your marketing platform to give women a voice within your industry.
Celebrate who they really are. Now more than ever, women are truly embracing their authentic selves. Women are redefining traditional ideas of beauty to incorporate broader reflections of self and self-care. Use your marketing efforts to help break down stereotypical ideas about the roles of women and how they are portrayed. Your brand can stand apart from the rest by representing the diversity of individual women and highlighting their powerful contributions to the world.
Make March all about your female customers. Get creative as you start new conversations with this profitable demographic. How are you impacting the female target market this month? Please let us know about your women-centered promotions in the comments below.
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