Tag Archives: Getting started

5 Secrets of Business Success

11 Oct

 

Make sure you're aiming at the right target.

 

I’ve always hated numbers. Not abstract math, but practical numbers, like the unbalanced ones in my checkbook. So, naturally, after I graduated from college, I pursued an MBA in finance. Why, you may ask, did I work hard to get a graduate degree in something I couldn’t stand? Precisely for that reason. I figured that if I understood it better, if I put extra effort in that area that it would no longer be a challenge for me. Although I became familiar with working with numbers, it never became more enjoyable or even tolerable for me. I found this out when my job in the marketing department of a big company morphed into a financial analyst position after a restructuring shakeup.

The Secret Sauce

Marketing and writing are my passions, and I spend my days doing what I love. Success research cited in such books as Outliers and Bounce has shown that the only way to become really outstanding at doing something, whether it is business, sports, music or any other pursuit, is to practice, practice, practice. They have come up with a number too; it takes 10,000 hours of directed practice over a period of 10 years, where you are consciously pushing your limits and working to improve, to become top in your field.

In order to amass this number of hours of practice, you would have to devote almost three hours a day, every single day for ten years. Each of these hours would have to be strenuous, concentrated work, not just going-through-the-motions or “just for fun” practice. It would involve failing over and over again, and constantly examining and analyzing your failures so that you can fine tune your work.

Who would put herself through this difficult and punishing process on a daily basis? Only someone who loves what she was doing and whose passion is to be the best. OK, you may say, that’s great for the Yo Yo Ma’s and the Tiger Woods’ of the world, but what does it have to do with me?

Identify Your Passion

Everyone has something that he loves. If you are a business owner, it may not be all aspects of  your work, but there is something that makes you feel good when you do it, that you have a talent for and that you do well. Find that thing and start putting in concentrated practice. Find a teacher or mentor who can guide you and push you to excel. Read up on your activity, or watch professionals do what you want to do, so you can pick up tips and techniques to do it better. Then do it, over and over. Put as much time as you can into not only practicing, but also in continually trying things a little outside of your current ability so you are pushing the envelope and expanding your skills. Notice where you have made a mistake and work on fixing that mistake until you have it down. Then rinse and repeat.

Don’t Get Distracted

Some people fall in love with the idea of a “Renaissance man,” someone who can do many different things extremely well, like Leonardo Da Vinci. But a more applicable idea for most people is “jack of all trades, master of none.” Author and public speaker, Brendon Burchard, likens this to someone who is putting up a fence. He says most people try one thing and they dig down a little bit and then abandon that pursuit and move on to the next, digging another shallow hole, none of which are deep enough to support the fence pole. He urges people to master one thing at a time, then move on to something related to the first thing and master that, so you are building on the knowledge and experience you have already accumulated.

Divide and Conquer

In business, success requires many different skills, all working in tandem towards a common goal. But if each person in concentrating on being the best in management, marketing, production or sales, then how can the business as a whole succeed? That is why we need other people, with each person specializing in a different area.  Most businesses fail because the owner thinks he can do it all himself. Sure, he makes great widgets, but he has no idea how to design a website, or manage the money, or open new channels of sales distribution.

Recognize Your Weaknesses

I can’t tell you the number of times clients have told me, “I could write it myself, but I just don’t have the time.” Writing is one of those things that many more people think they are good at than actually are good at it.  If you are not great at doing a particular thing, just admit it (at least to yourself), and find someone who is. That way, you can spend your time improving in your area of expertise, and not knocking your head against the wall trying to do something totally different. It’s OK – you don’t have to be the best at everything. The most effective leaders are those who know what they don’t know and surround themselves with those who do. Then they listen to the members of the team and make an informed decision.

Don’t Be Cheap

If, as a business owner, you can find people who share your vision and possess skills that you do not, get them on your team. It may be as a part owner, as an employee, or even as an outside contractor. Just remember, that each of them has a talent or ability that is vital to your company’s success. So however you decide to structure it, make sure you compensate them adequately and treat them with consideration and respect. The only way to maintain that common vision and unity of purpose is when everyone feels like a valued member of the team. That is one of the reasons that Google has been so successful; its corporate culture recognizes and values each employee’s contribution, so each person is motivated to give the company his full effort.

If you are a start-up and don’t have much money, there is still a lot you can do to form a team. Giving out stock or stock options is one way to invest in building your company’s success. You can also come up with commission based or revenue share models that reward success. In addition to monetary compensation, it is also important to give team members the non-physical compensation that are a vital part of their job satisfaction: treating them with respect and dignity, giving them a sense of trust and responsibility and recognizing them for their effort, commitment and success.

Eeek! I’ve Seen a Ghost (Blogger)!

25 Aug

The ghost at the machine

Let’s say you have a company that provides a service or product. You’ve been in the business for a number of years, you may even have a degree in it, it is a huge part of your life. Your clients love your product or service and really appreciate the insight and expertise you are able to give them when you interact with them. Now you want to take your business to the next level by sharing your expertise and thereby attracting new clients to your business. Everyone has told you that you need a blog. Not only will it allow you to spread the word about your company, but it will help your website climb organically in the search engines.

There are just a few problems: you don’t like writing (or are not good at it) and you have no time. If you are a lawyer, consultant or other kind of professional who charges by the hour, it may not make economic sense for you to spend unbillable hours writing a blog.

What to do? Should you put your blog ambitions on the shelf? There is another option and it’s called ghost blogging. Most people are familiar with the concept of a ghost writer. If you have a story to tell or information to get out and you want to publish a book, you may look for an experienced writer who will work with you to take the information out of your head and get it on paper in a coherent way.

Ghost blogging is basically the same process. First, a plan and schedule are determined by the client and blogger, to decide what the goal of the blog is, what topics should be covered, the style of writing, and how often content will be posted. The blogger then interviews the client to extract the person’s expertise on the various topics, and may supplement this information with books, articles or white papers provided by the client or found online. Once the post is written, the client reviews it to make sure it is factually correct and adequately covers the topic. Then the blogger posts it online.

It is critical that the client be involved in the process, and reads each post not only to make sure it is sending the right message, but also so that he or she can speak to it with clients. I also recommend that the client be the one responsible for responding to comments on the blog, so that he or she can establish a relationship with the readers and potential customers who care enough about the topic/company to make a comment.

But, Is It Right?

Some people have been going off on a rant about how ghost blogging is just not right. They feel it’s sort of like hiring someone to write your term paper in college. The thing that made the bought term paper wrong was that the person didn’t do the work of learning what he was representing he was learning. You, however, have invested years learning your business or trade. You’re the real deal.

No one raises a stink when celebrities use ghostwriters to write their memoirs. And it is commonly accepted for companies to outsource their newsletters to PR agencies. It’s my feeling that as long as the client, whether as an individual or a company, actually has the expertise that the blog is communicating, it is perfectly fine to hire someone to do the writing.  If the client is using the blog primarily as a personal branding tool, to get speaking engagements or a job, then it is even more important that the content honestly represent the client’s knowledge, experience and style, because that will all come out eventually. But even in that situation, I don’t think it is that critical for the client to be the one actually writing the posts as long as he or she can communicate the essence of the content to the ghost blogger.

My company, Pro Creative, provides ghost blogging services to companies or individuals, so if you like this blog and would like a blog of your own, contact us. We would be happy to help you join the blogosphere.

Getting Started with Facebook: Setting Up a Business Facebook Page

17 Aug

Get all you can out of Facebook

If you are one of the 300 million Facebook users, you probably use Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family, play games and access new, information and videos of dancing babies on YouTube.

You may not be getting everything you can out of Facebook, however, if you have not yet set up a Facebook page for your business. While it is true that most people go on Facebook in order to connect with friends, they do also find business sites that their friends recommend or that they find by doing a search. But doing business on Facebook is a much softer sell than on your own company website or advertising, so it pays to do it right from the beginning.

First, the basics…Here’s how to set up your business page on Facebook:

  1. Go to www.facebook.com, and log in if the system has not already automatically logged you in.
  2. Go down to the bottom of the page and click on Advertising, the click Pages and the Create a Page.
  3. Select the type of business you have. The choices are a) local, b) brand, product or organization, and c) artist, band or public figure. Choose the first one if your business is bound by a geographic area, like a dentist, attorney, or restaurant. If you have an online business or a business that can serve customers across the US and/or multiple countries, choose the second one. The last choice is self explanatory.
  4. Fill in as much information in the next fields and screens as possible, including your company logo. If your company has any RSS blog feeds, relevant videos, images, or other content, include it. Google will reward you with a higher rank, the more information you have on your page.
  5. Add Facebook applications to your page. One of the most popular is Social RSS which will feed your blog content into your Facebook page. See “5 Essential Apps for Your Business’s Facebook Fan Page” on Mashable.com for more with instructions about how to use them.
  6. If you don’t have a blog (and if you don’t, shame on you! You need one!), then you will need to populate your page with information that is useful and interesting to your target audience. If possible, the content should be yours to show your expertise, but you can also augment it by adding links to other people’s articles that are on topic.
  7. Now it is time to promote your page. You can only directly promote it to your own contacts (which you can mine from your personal page), by clicking the Invite Friends link on the left side of the page. Write a little promo telling people what they can get from your page.  As you add more friends on your personal page, remember to send out more invitations to your business page. Facebook will automatically give them a link to get there. You can also promote it via email, on your website, printed marketing materials, business cards, advertising and other social media like Twitter and LinkedIn.
  8. Once people have signed up by “liking” your page, give them a reason (like your fantastic content, freebies and discounts) to pass it along to their other colleagues or contacts.
  9. Update your page often, whether it with a feed from your blog or other status updates to keep your fans’ interest.
  10. Try to involve them in your little mini-community by starting discussions on the Discussions tab and asking them to interact with you. Inject your personality in your page, and don’t be afraid to include some interesting or funny posts that are not entirely related to your business (as long as they are in good taste).
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