Doesn’t Your Business Deserve Better Than Low Cost Support?

I am all about finding low cost and free services to run my business, but not at the expense of my business. One area I feel very strongly about spending money on is support. I see a lot of articles about hiring support teams. I always hesitate to read the articles because it can be frustrating, but I usually break down to see what the writer’s perspective is. Many times, I’m met with how to protect your business, and where to find low cost support. What!? Isn’t that a contradiction? Protect your business, but don’t spend too much.

Is that what your business is worth to you?

I started my business almost 10 years, and I am not a cheap option when it comes to support. I know the value that I bring to a business owner who wants to move forward, a business owner who wants a strategic partner, a business owner who has goals they know they can’t accomplish alone. Your business is probably a significant part of your life, and I’m sure you’re not a cheap option in your field either. Why then would you expect someone else to run their business that way.

I saw this quote a few days ago (and loved it!).

“I know what I bring to the table. So trust me when I say I’m not afraid to eat alone.” ~unknown author

What do I bring to the table?

  • I bring a vested interest in my client’s business.
  • I bring all of my knowledge, ability, and skill to help them succeed.
  • I bring initiative.
  • I bring resources; services and networks, gathered and tested over the past decade.
  • I bring big picture thinking and planning.

You can always work with cheap, task-based support. You can work with a cheap coach, a cheap copywriter, a cheap VA, but these are core services to your business growth and success. I value my business too much to do that on the cheap, and so should you.

As business owners, we would be better off sitting at the table alone than compromise our worth.

 

Your Business Deserves Better
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The Benefits of a Client Face-to-Face Strategy Session

I have run my business for nine years and just before the Christmas break I had a fantastic opportunity to have a client face-to-face strategy session. Shannon is one of a few long-term clients that I support in her digital marketing and web maintenance. We worked in person for some serious business building and strategizing, and I am here to tell you, if you have the opportunity, do it!

Shannon is in NYC and I’m in Maryland so we met halfway, in Philadelphia. Our intention was to stay at an Airbnb we had set up but that didn’t happen. We ended up at the Sonesta Hotel in downtown Philly. Beautiful space and functional for what we had planned. I tell you that so you know that we were flexible, and that was a big part of the weekend.

Going into this, we knew we wanted to work on both of our businesses. Our respective areas of expertise complement each other really well. I am a structure builder and digital strategist, and she is a kick-ass content strategy coach. We’ve worked together for three years now. We each had a list of things we needed to get done so we jumped right into our Friday work session alternating between the two of us. We worked. We had dinner. We worked some more.

Saturday was pretty similar except we decided to play for the first part of the day, have lunch, and then work until dinner. We set out to see what we could get into on Saturday morning. We didn’t have a plan. We walked down to Dilworth Park and watched the ice skaters, found the Liberty Bell and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was introduced to “real” Ramen for lunch at Nom Nom Ramen. The Ramen was great but the vegan “pork” buns were out of this world fabulous. I need to find some of those in Maryland.

Instead of working in the room on Saturday we went down to the restaurant in the hotel. The large tables in the center were perfect for plugging in and spreading out. We spent hours there working through our lists, alternating between her list and mine. By creating that focused time to work, we got a ton accomplished.

One of the main things on Shannon’s list was her re-brand. We’ve been talking about it virtually but to sit together and go over all of the pieces, to show her how I work and the tools I use, to really hear what she was thinking and how she envisioned this re-brand was priceless.

One of the main things I hoped to gain from the weekend was to have a solid content strategy in place. I have ideas written down on sticky notes, in Notepad, in Google Drive, all over the place. And to be honest, there are so many ideas that writing my blog posts was starting to feel a bit overwhelming. I walked away with so much more than I had hoped for. I finally got super-clear on my writing process.

So, if it is ever an option to have a face-to-face big ideas session with a client, DO IT! It is fun and rewarding all the way around.

 

 

A first for me and the benefits of a client-virtual assistant strategy session

Crush Self Doubt With a Manifesto

One important thing to know as you read this post is that I have this crazy bitch who lives in me and who’s sole purpose is to convince me that everything I do or think is absurd and out of my reach. I call her Lilith. If you want to learn more about your inner critic, check out some of Coach Jennie’s work. She’s awesome! Thanks to M. Shannon Hernandez of The Writing Whisperer I’ve been thinking a lot about writing a manifesto. Hers is fantastic (and a work of art, if I do say so myself). So I went on a hunt to find ways to crush self doubt with a manifesto.

I was doing some research and stumbled on this beauty by Corbett Barr and had to share it. It speaks to me and I plan on using it to help me shut down Lilith for good. One of my favorite lines is “You don’t have to wait for permission and you don’t need anyone else to grant you status.” Yes, Lilith I absolutely do know more than you give me credit for.

So, I started working on my manifesto. I call it my creative creed. I have a feeling this will be a work in progress.

Do you have an inner critic? Can creating a manifesto for yourself help you recognize how great you really are?

Business Lessons from the World Series

What do the Kansas City Royals have to do with my business? It’s been a few weeks since the World Series ended and while I’m not going to pretend to know all the stats, or that I even watch baseball, I do know that during one of the broadcasts I heard something that really resonated with me. It was an explanation of how the Kansas City Royals got to the series.

The Royals didn’t win games with big plays and heavy hitters. They won games by performing the basics over and over again in the best possible way. They had a goal. They had a vision. They won games with consistent performance toward those goals.

As I work my business I know that the big plays are nice, but it’s the day to day, consistent action that will produce the best results. My goal is to finish out 2014 with steady, consistent action and build on it for a strong 2015.

Have you thought about your goals for 2015? What can you do every day to help you move your business forward?

Smooth Processes Make a Big Impact in Business

I was running some errands the other day and needed to stop for lunch. I decided it had to be Chick-Fil-A, but they were packed. And I mean packed. The parking lot was completely full and the drive through stretched around the building. But man, do I love Chick-Fil-A so I decided it was worth the wait in the drive through line. Boy was I in for a big surprise.

I pulled up and there were two employees taking orders from the cars in the drive through line. They were taking every other order so the line moved pretty quickly. There was an employee stopping cars in the drive through so customers who had gone inside could back out of their parking spaces. When I got to the window, there were two more employees there. One was running the cash register. The other was handing out orders.

No lie, this entire process took me no more than 5 minutes. Yes, 5 minutes, in a restaurant that was jam-packed with people. Can you guess why? Their process. They had it down. These employees knew exactly what they were supposed to do and how to do it. Right down to the gentleman who took my order. I never saw him move and he quoted me the price with tax, I assumed from memory.

Creating and sticking to your business processes can make or break you when you are swamped. Do you have a marketing plan? Do you have a standard process for welcoming new clients and getting all of their information in one shot? It might be a little bit of work up front, but there so many ways to save time just by creating standard operating procedures. Take a few hours each week and spend it getting your processes set up. I know I have some procedures that need to be tightened up. And if you work with a virtual assistant, it’s worth the extra time over the next few weeks for them to get everything sorted out and on paper for you.

As a side note, the best part of my Chick-Fil-A experience – they got my order right and every single person handled their piece of the puzzle with the best attitude and a big smile.

Listen Carefully; Increase Efficiency

Over the last few weeks I’ve run into several situations where so much confusion has occurred and time has been wasted due to a lack of listening. And by listening, I mean really listening; completely reading; paying 100% attention to what’s being said. In most cases this occurs in email communication. Email is a communication tool that makes it difficult to express emotion and too easy to respond to what we think we read. It’s super important when using email communication (or any written form) to pay attention to what we say and how we say it.

When I get an email, I read it. I read the whole thing and try to take in what’s being said or asked. Then I respond.

This takes effort and work.

It’s much easier to react quickly, get things done and off your plate. Speed doesn’t equal efficientFor me to truly be efficient means that I have to spend some time reading and trying to understand every sentence, every word that I’m receiving. This doesn’t mean to try and read between the lines but to simply make sure I understand the whole message before zipping out a response that only answers half of what was asked or addresses half of what needs to be done.

When you work virtually it’s super important to listen.

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Lessons Learned + Making the Most Of It

I was reading this awesome post today and was so struck by it that I had to write my own.

As I say goodbye to 2013, I knew I needed to share my thoughts and the lessons learned. This year hasn’t been the easiest but I have learned more about my business in the past 12 months than I ever thought possible.

For a good part of the last 4 or 5 years, I worked with a client who had huge demands on my time, and I gave him that time. What happened at the end of 2012 took me by surprise and required most of 2013 to recover from. He went bankrupt. No signs. No warning. My business and my income took a massive hit. Lessons learned = NEVER give any one client so much of myself and my time that I don’t have the energy to do anything else.

The ironic part is I knew deep inside that this client was toxic and that I didn’t really love the work I was doing with him but I continued down that road anyway. Lessons learned = ALWAYS trust my intuition and act on it.

Initially I panicked. I had bills to pay but giving up was not, and never will be, an option. You see, I love what I do and the reasons that I do it. I can’t imagine myself doing anything else. My only choice was to work my ass off and build it back up. And building it is what I’m doing.

This past year I started working with clients who are amazing at what they do. I started doing only the work that I love to do. I started selecting who I follow and learn from. I STARTED MAKING CHOICES.

Yes, I am super excited about 2014 and the possibilities I see. And yes, I’m a little bit scared because I have every intention of pushing myself so far outside my comfort zone that major successes are inevitable. As with everything else in my life, I can look back with sadness for the trials and struggles or I can look forward with great joy for all I’ve learned and the accomplishments and strength I’ve gained.

I choose forward!