Business Scheduling: Leveraging Your Work Life

There’s a saying in the business world, and it’s “Keep a Schedule; don’t let the schedule keep you.” So in all respects, our business scheduling as a business owner is what will keep us operating without pulling our hair out, or what forces us to throw in the towel. Now granted some of us are gifted with photographic memories, and can circle dates on their calendar and see them in their head, and just magically remember that they have meetings at certain times during the week. In the real world though, most of us have to write the majority of things down in order for us to remember them. If we don’t right down every detail of our busy day, chances are something is going to fall to the wayside. Then we will lose customers, lose money, and ultimately lose our cool for blowing important meetings. Electronic Schedules are Awesome I know you guys have seen those big desk calendars that was necessary when electronics included a flip phone, a pager, and a 20 pound laptop. Well really they are un-necessary now, unless you use it to doodle on, when your placing important phone calls to your favorite Chinese food restaurant. Just kidding, though they might still have some use, we walk out the door with our schedule in hand. Thanks to companies like google, who have captured the market for every digital avenue that exist or has ever been thought of. They own the android operating system, so when you get your new cell phone that is android operated, it forces you to sign up for a google...

What Does Your Contract Protection Look Like?

When I first went into business for myself, I was a year into my Associate’s degree, and we began to talk about contract protection in my project management class. We were given a stack of contracts, and were told to create a contract using these as a template. My final contract was about half a page long. I thought this contract was the best contract in the world, and I was now protected from all the unnecessary evils of the business world. Boy was I wrong. I had a lawyer read over it for me. Now granted he wasn’t a contract lawyer, he was an immigration lawyer, but even he said, “You might want to beef it up.” Throughout the years, I have beefed up that contract, but only because I’ve had bad experiences. If it wasn’t for those bad experiences, I would have never knew that there were cracks in my armor. Your Contract Protection is like a Knight’s Armor Imagine a knight riding into battle without his armor, if you see this, your first thought is probably, “This guy is toast.” A business without the proper contract protection will lose more than money. All contracts have specific attributes. Each attribute in a contract has certain protections. For example, your terms and conditions section is designed to develop a basis or standard between you and the client, so that nobody is left in the dark about what is happening in the life of the project that you are working on. Maybe if you’re like me, you’ll make it a point to have a services and prices section in...

5 Things McDonald’s Taught Me About Leadership

My first job ever was McDonalds, just like probably 65 percent of the human population. The day I turned 15 years old, I had my work permit in hand, and I was hired on the spot at my local McDonald’s, I was absolutely ecstatic. Well, over the next year, I learned so much, that the store manager decided to make me a manager the day I turned 16 years old. What a great idea. This decision dictated my life for the next 13 years. McDonald’s is not a bad job, because you learn alot of life making decisions at McDonald’s, just the money isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Overall, I learned 5 Valuable Things about Leadership, maybe more, but I’ll give you the top 5. #1: Value Your People People are precious, especially hard working people that are money motivated, and willing to give you thier all for the next 8 hours of thier shift. Really, there is nothing better than people that are all in for your business. Your bottom line is thier bottom line, so the bottom line, is take care of them. Give them the hours they want and need. Give them the grace they need, but most importantly, give them the praise they deserve. Employees come and go, but dedicated employees are hard to come by. When you value your people, you play them to thier strengths, you know thier strengths, and you know thier weaknesses. On busy days, let them shine, by placing them where they are strong at. On slow days, help them improve and motivate them to get better at...

10 Things To Do When Business Is Slow

When business is slow, we have the tendency to panic and want to retreat, but the truth is this is where we need to strive more. It’s time to press in and stay consistent with the business practices that you developed when you first started your business. When business is slow, this is the time to make yourself busy, by reevaluating your prices, your policies, your website, and current advertisement. Let me give you the best possible solutions when business is slow. 1. Pray for God to Increase Revenue and Clientele As a Christian, and lover of the One and True God, my first reaction to slow business weeks is to seek the Father in prayer and fasting. These 2 principles are the best practices alone that will bring increase in your business, and comfort and steadiness in an unsteady time. God rewards those who seek Him diligently. Absent of prayer and fasting in Communion with God through His son Jesus Christ, you have nothing, and will be able to accomplish nothing. With God for us, there is nothing and no one that can stand against us. 2. Follow up With Potential Customers There may have been some customers that you have had connected with in the past couple of weeks, maybe through referral, or some other source. You may have had a simple conversation with them about business, or even issued an estimate proposal to them. When you follow up with them, be concerned that you haven’t heard from them, and sincerely care about their well being. Do not seem anxious or desperate, just simply do a follow...

Faithful & Consistent Business Owners

Customers want to know that they are dealing with faithful & consistent business owners. After all, you prided yourself on being the upright business owner because of the bad relations you had in previous business experiences, Correct? Customers want to see that you are faithful to them, by always being ready and able to handle their questions. Customers want to see consistency on how you handle their problems as well. Without being faithful and consistent with your customers you will leave a bad taste in your customers mouth, and leave them wanting to look elsewhere to get their needs met. Monogamous Business Relationships When dealing with a customer, your whole goal is to provide them with exactly with what they need. In order to keep them happy, you need to provide the least amount of hiccups as possible. If a customer is not happy, they will begin to search for someone else with your skill set to do things that you promised that you could do for them. No business owner wants their customer to seek the hand of someone else, especially when you can do the job, but you dropped the ball, and that’s what created this dilemma. The best option to fix a broken relationship, is to offer a free service to mend the relationship, so that you can get back to normalcy with the customer. Most of the time you can simply fix a relationship by meeting with the customer face to face. It’s sad to say, but we live in a present age where most business is done remotely. This is not a bad thing,...

Business Without Networking is Dead

I’m sure you guys have heard that faith without works is dead, well business without networking is dead. This saying is true. Yes, it probably took faith for you to step out and start running your own business, Leaving the comfort of knowing that there’s always a paycheck coming when working a steady 9 to 5 job. You are now your own boss, you are responsible for paying your own salary. You no longer have benefits so you have to provide your own. What a headache! In order to do this, you have to have a strong client base and a steady income. Steady incomes don’t come on their own; you will spend the bulk of your time networking with like minded businesses, so that you can share resources, and also build with them to catch their overflow, this is called contracting. What Makes Contracting So Important? Contracting is important because it helps you as business owners supplement the income that you are not making on your own. Networking will not happen if you hesitate; it takes time to build a steady client base. This is why networking is necessary, because there are businesses that have been doing this longer than you have and they have a steady clientele, but fortunately for you need to contract out the work because their workload is too heavy. Great! So how do you get involved with a company so they can know that you are who you say you are. Well the first thing is it starts with relationships. Contact others that are doing what you are doing, and simply ask them...

Customer Communication: The Key To Success

Did you know that most businesses though they promise, fail to have valid customer communication? I’m pretty sure you’ve experienced this as a buyer. You’ve purchased something from a company only to deal with an automated teller or operator, and find yourself to be frustrated with the experience because you can’t talk to someone that’s human. How many times are you going to go back to this company if you never have any human interaction with them, especially if you have some technical issues with the product or service? It’s absolutely ludicrous to try to run a business with customers not having human interaction with the company. How Shall We Communicate? As business owners we should communicate with our general public, they are the ones that pay our bills and paychecks. Customers want to feel like they have a genuine and personal relationship with the company that they are doing business with. Granted, they deserve the right to have a personal relationship with you as a business. Right Relationships are key to developing a successful conversion rate in your business. I’d rather have 10 loyal clients to me, not only because the service is great, but they know they are dealing with an upright gentleman, and they are ecstatic to do business with me. Did you know that if you have a loyal clientele, they will refer you to people that are as like-minded as themselves, then you will build on your loyal customers. Some customers will not refer you though no matter how good you are, simply for the fact that they don’t want to share you with...

Bad Websites Create An Invisible Audience

It’s inevitable to know that bad websites will create an invisible audience. Most people believe that if they can just get a website online, then their business will start to bloom. Well chances are, that if your website is not giving the potential customer a call to action, then you won’t earn customers. If your website is horrendous, it’s going to serve as a direct representative of your actual work. Don’t be a victim of bad websites, you want to have a website that not only looks good, but has a healthy conversion rate. Let me explain. What’s The Point of Having a Website? Granted if you’ve paid for something as a business, then you want to see a return. It’s an investment right? Understand what you are getting a website for. What is the actual need? Why is it important? What should my website do for me to create revenue for this business? These are questions that I ask myself every day, and these are questions that you should ask yourself, when you are in the market for a website. Even if you already took the website adventure, and you’re in the market for a redesign, do your homework. Having a website means that you have an online representation. Once you have a website online, you have just given your business an identity, a heartbeat. It’s alive. Be careful though, because as easy as it was to make it alive, it could lose its life without the proper maintenance and continued vision for the website. You have to nurture and care for your website like it’s your baby....

Bridging The Gap Between Being a Consumer vs. a Business Owner

How do you bridge the gap between being a consumer vs. a business owner? Well ask yourself, which one are you? If you are out in public shopping for your household, technically you are a consumer, but no matter where you are, you are still a business owner as well. As a business owner, you can’t write off your household groceries to feed your family, but you do pay your salary. So how do you separate the two? Prayerfully, I can help give you an understanding what the difference looks like being and acting like a consumer and operating as a business owner. A Consumer State of Mind When you have a consumer state of mind, you will think like a consumer, measure facts and figures like a consumer, you will buy and purchase as a consumer. As a consumer, all these things work to your benefit, because like most families we all operate on some kind of budget. Budgeting is good, but it’s this same consumer mentality that will cripple you when you are handling your business expenses. Business Owners don’t compare fact and figures like consumers, a smart business owner will go with the service that’s going to benefit the business in the best possible way, regardless of the price. Business owners worry about the overall picture when developing a business, rather than looking at the price tag of a particular item. Now I’m not saying that business owners are so frugal, that they just throw money away. I’m saying that spending money as a business is a concentrated and calculated move, just like playing chess. When...

Print Advertisement is Good Advertisement

Print Advertisement is Good Advertisement, You know why? It puts something physical into the customers’ hands that tell them about your product or services. I’m sure you know this, but do you know that most of the time your print advertising goes into the trash without being looked at. Matter of fact, to see any results from your printing efforts you want to circulate your printed material 3 times to the same audience. These are things I want to make sure you know as business owners that your money is valuable, and to know that it’s almost valuable enough to spend it, just to throw it away. Let me explain! Advertising By Throwing Money Away You are probably saying this guy is out of his @%#!@ mind! The truth is, how many times did you apply for a job, not to hear anything from that respective employer. Resumes are your personal printed advertisement, and if it doesn’t appease the needs of whoever is running the HR Department, then you get the trash can. Same Concept! You put a lot of time and energy into your resume and you want to be consistent and almost unbearable, that you cause a response. The thing is that you are not speaking; it is your marketing materials that are speaking for you. So don’t stress if you don’t get a response, because you’ve already made the first step, by making yourself visible. Send out a second wave of marketing materials. Chances are these are going to get thrown away as well. That’s okay! You have just modeled persistency. This time send out a...

Free Websites Are Headaches for the Consumer

Warning: To anyone searching for free websites, you will find what you are looking for, and you will get what you pay for. In my years of developing websites, I’ve had the unfortunate opportunity of scrapping many free templates for a more effective website. Though I’ve made money on these ventures, which is always a plus, but it burdens me, that companies will sell a hosting service to a customer, and then give them a free website builder. It’s criminal because most customers don’t know what they are doing, so when they’re done, the website will be horrendous. Secondly, they are stuck to that layout, which stifles their creativity. Thirdly, the company will then charge the consumer for layout changes and separate themes. So my point is, that if you are serious about your business, then you should be serious about avenues that you take to advertise it as well. If you have a template builder that you just plug your information into, chances are, there is probably 100 other people with that same free website template within your demographic. Be Willing to Invest in Your Website When you think about advertisement, you think of business cards, flyers, posters, anything that you get printed to display to the public. Well, this is true, print advertisement is good advertisement. Your website is part of your advertisement as well. The same way you invest money into your print advertising is the same way you should be willing to invest in your website. Count it as an investment, because with investments you should see some kind of return, Correct? If your website...

Traffic Jams & Social Media Gridlock

In order to have Social Media Gridlock that means there has to be some kind of workflow stoppage. Is social media working for you? Are you seeing an increase in page hits on your website because of Social Media? If the answer is “No”, let’s identify the problem. There are probably going to be 5 Main Reasons that Social Media Gridlock occurs, let’s discuss them! 1. Simply Not Taking Advantage of Social Media Just by opening an account on Social Media alone can increase the opportunity for more website traffic. Once you open up an account, then you are immediately qualified to submit information to millions of users. Take advantage of it, you will never know how much it will help you, if you never try it out. 2. Posting Irrelevant Information to Your Followers Think about yourself, are you going to read something that has nothing to do with you? Neither are your followers. When you are posting information, no matter what social media platform it is, make sure that your information is relevant to your followers. Nothing is worse, then being spammed with a whole bunch of information that has nothing to do with you. Find your outlets, if you are posting information that might not be relevant to all your followers, so up some kind of follower list or group, so that it can only be seen by those who would be interested in your post. 3. Engaging with Your Followers When you have a group of followers the most courteous thing to do is follow them back. At least they feel valued enough by you,...

Advertising On A Budget For Startup Businesses

So, you’ve finally decided to take a leap of faith and venture out into the world of entrepreneurship. Good for you. Now as you go through all of the rigmarole necessary to become a legitimate business, you will quickly find out one thing for sure. It’s expensive. As if you haven’t already put a lot of money into your dream already, one of the most critical and expensive areas in business ownership is waiting to be addressed. Let’s face it; your business needs to grow. But, for that to happen, you must sow the seeds of familiarity. You may have the greatest product this side of the hemisphere, but without customers, it will just be your little secret. You must find an inexpensive way to advertise. Do something that can effectively get the message out, and bring the money in. Most of all, something that won’t put you in more debt than you already are. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track: 1. You’re a small business that is just starting to spread its wings, but that doesn’t mean that it’s ready to fly. The most inexpensive way to advertise is word of mouth. Take business cards wherever you go. If you don’t have any, make some. They’re not just to make you look business-like. Those are a form of advertising. Speak to those individuals you come across that may have a need for your services or product. If they don’t have a need, they may know someone who will. Give out two to three cards at a time. That way they can distribute...

Do My Graphics Compliment or Compromise My Content?

One question you should ask yourself when putting your website together is, “Do my graphics compliment or compromise my content?” Compliment vs. Compromise in the world of web design will effect what Google Analytics describes as “Bounce Rate.” Your Bounce Rate is how long a visitor visits your website. If your graphics compliment your content and your content compliments your graphics, then most likely visitors are going to visit your website longer. Granted, if your graphics have nothing to do with your content, or they’re just not innovative or cutting edge, then most likely that potential customer that you worked to get to come to your website will, “Bounce!” I’m going to talk about these two very important roles that should co-exist in the life of your website. 1. Professional and Relevant Content Writing The content on your website should be standardized by the leading specialist in your certain field. So suppose you owned a carpet cleaning company, your research for your content writing would be on companies such as Stanley Steemer and Chem-Dry. You want to study what your top competitor is doing in order to write your content. You don’t want to be totally out in left field while your top competitor is steadily gaining new clients. The reason why your top competitor is your top competitor is because they have a formula that works. So as you begin to write your content, you want to use the same buzz words that the competitor is using, and ultimately these buzz words should double as your keywords to help with your search engine optimization. There’s nothing new under...

5 Valuable Tips to Increase Your SEO Ranking

When developing a website, one of the first things you should have in mind is, “What is my game plan for the SEO Ranking of this Website?” Most likely, the first question that a customer usually asks before having a website designed is, “Am I going to be able to be found?” The answer to this question is conditional. It could be “yes” based on the amount of work you as the customer are willing to do, or it could be “probably not” if you’re not willing to update your information on a regular basis. 1. Keeping Your Information Fresh The best way to keep your information fresh, is for you to make up your mind, and say that I’m willing to do what it takes. So if you’re willing to do what it takes, then the same blog that you are reading now, is what you will do to keep massive amounts of information coming to your website. What if you’re not a strong writer? There are individuals called Content Managers and this is what they specialize in, is Content Management, writing and editing information. The best person for this job is probably the same person that developed your website. 2. Why Is It Important To Blog? Not only does blogging keep massive amounts of information coming to your website on a regular basis, but blogging keeps relevant information coming to your website on a regular basis. Blogging relevant information to your website is significant, because it increases the amount of keywords that are in your website. When your web developer develops your website, he should develop a...

Phishing Still Happens, Just With a Different Hook

The internet has become our main source of information. OK, that first statement was for those of us that have been living in the pre-desktop era and refuse to venture off into the “New World Order” of free information. Not even Bill Gates thought the internet would be as popular and important as it is today. Every day there are millions of transactions that occur between people, families, and even businesses without even giving a second thought of doing it the old fashioned way. Besides, who ever heard of a face to face transaction anyway? Truth is with all of this information being passed everywhere; there are those that would use these powers for evil. Phishing has long been a method that online predators and hackers use to gain access to valid important information. Phishing is the criminally fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information, by any means necessary. There have been millions of innocent people scammed by those who have no shame and pry on the unsuspecting. Here are a few ways to protect yourself against phishing: Ensure you have some form of anti-phishing software loaded on your PC. This will either disallow phishing emails or re-direct them to the “junk” folder in your email. Never offer any sensitive information to anyone you don’t know over the internet, over the telephone, or through email. That includes social security numbers, address, phone numbers, and banking information. Most legitimate businesses will not ask for such information outright, and require you to log-in to a secure website before requiring such information from you. Do your research. If you are being...

Great Logos Drive Clientele & Income

Logos are a dime a dozen. Logos come and logos go, but Great Logos will last a lifetime. Some logos have become timeless, for instance, the McDonald’s logo, when you see this logo, or even your kids see this logo, they know it is McDonald’s. McDonald’s Logo is so popular now, that they have removed the company name from the bottom of the logo. That is logo staying power, and this is just one example of how logos stand the test of time. This blog is not only for logo designers, but business owners who need a logo, or have a logo and are not happy with it. Hopefully business owners will say, “I really need a professional to design a timeless logo for me.” Hopefully this blog will also challenge logo designers, including myself to say, “When I create this logo, will it represent this business 50 years from now?” 1. Brainstorming With The Client Creating logos for customers sometimes can be hair-pulling, but be patient with them, and coach them into understanding what they need and what they want. Pick a time to sit down with them, and create some open ended questions, that cause them to respond with descriptive answers. Don’t worry though, not all customers need coaching. Proactive customers will already have 2 or 3 designs pieced together with some clipart they found on google. If a customer is proactive enough to take the time to figure out what they want, then blow their mind with what you produce, based on their mock-ups. 2. The Decision Process When creating your logo, you must first make...

Word of Mouth: The Best Advertisement

In the course of a year, the average business will spend thousands of dollars on advertisement. Rightly so, if we don’t advertise our businesses, how will the public know that we exist? From print marketing, to websites, to social media, there is a cost for all of these. Even social media, which is for the most part free, but if you want to up the ante for your advertisement, then you pay to run your ad through their click marketing tools. Let me go on the record by saying, “That Word of Mouth is not only the best advertisement, it is also the cheapest advertisement.” Word of Mouth Travels Fast Have you ever heard the old saying, “Word of Mouth travels fast?” Well it’s the truth. Suppose you were a restaurant, and you sold a bad stock of meat that caused food poisoning to about 100 different people. There’s not enough money in the world to keep this bad publicity from reaching the public. On the opposite side, suppose your restaurant had the cleanest facility, the best food, and outstanding prices, this would not be enough to drive the public to your business. Understand that you have to convince your customers that you have the cleanest restaurant, the best tasting food, and unbeatable prices. Once the customer is convinced, then you have just gained yourself some free advertisement. The Ratio of Verbal References If a customer is convinced that your business and service is incredible, then they are going to verbally refer you to everyone they know. The average satisfied customer will tell a total of 10 people about...

What are the Benefits of Having a WordPress Website?

First of all, what is wordpress? Simply said, it is the fastest growing and most widely used open source content management system available. The limitations that you can do with it, are becoming far and few, and the benefits are through the roof. What are the benefits? 1. The Importance of a Content Management System The first benefit is the importance of having a content management system or what we would call a CMS Platform. After your website is completely set up and stylized by your web developer, then a small amount of training will take place, then you, the user, will be able to make edits to your website, without any coding experience whatsoever. You might ask, “What is it that I can edit?” The answer is everything! From adding pictures and videos, paragraphs, color schemes, it can all be done with a couple of hours of training by your web developer, and the click of a button. The unique thing about WordPress is that it wasn’t created as a content management system, it was created as a blog format, but over the years it has evolved into a very powerful tool for the consumer. 2. WordPress is Completely User Friendly! Don’t be afraid of getting on the backend of your website, and finding something so unfamiliar, that you are terrified to use it. If you can edit your social media account, Twitter, Google +, Facebook (which by the way is not user friendly whatsoever), then you can edit your WordPress Website. Also I highly guarantee, that after you get used to it, you’ll definitely enjoy being in...

Dealing With The Uniformed Client

The life of an entrepreneur can be rugged one, full of up and downs, twists and turns and before you know it your turning every which way but the way you thought you’d be turning at this stage of your business life. It can be difficult to say the least, but you wouldn’t trade it for the world. The freedom and joy you feel from a project done well. After all, that’s why you do it, right? To share your talents with clients in desperate needs of your skills and services (for a fee of course), what better feeling could a freelance have? Of course to get to that glorious point you must first traverse the field of uncertainty. What is this field that I speak of? Well, I sure there are a few people reading this that already know the answer. They’re the ones with the sly grin, reminiscing of the arch nemesis of all freelancers, the uninformed client. Now, before we continue down this dark path, let me start by saying that this client is NOT a bad person; at least most of the time they are very kind-hearted people. The problem with these individuals is their lack knowledge. They’ve hired you, an SME (subject matter expert) to handle all the things that they don’t know about, and they usually kick it all off with something like, “I need you, to do what it is that you do, for me.” They have no idea what they want, but have every idea of what they don’t want. Well, fear not. Here are a few tips to get the...