Think Win-Win

This the fourth post in my series of posts about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. It is my slant on each of the habits, and how each relates to being a small business owner. To read the whole series, click here.

Habit #4: Think Win-Win

Win-win is more than an attitude. It’s a concept that will help you grow your business.

Competition is one of the things that often comes up when we are talking about marketing, and just being in business.

We look at our competitors, we study their moves, we want to know what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong.

But keeping your competitors at arms’ length doesn’t always work – perhaps if you are selling products it might be an effective strategy, but not in the service industry.

When you are in a service business, you are selling yourself. So, really, there isn’t any competition. Who could possibly compete with you? You are unique and different from everyone else. Your clients decide to work with you because of YOU, not because of many other reasons. And not all clients will be a good fit with you.

So then we think of our fellow service business owners as colleagues. And they are just that.

Try not to compare yourself to the others who provide similar services as you. Think of them as people to grow with, learn from, and share with.

Doing so will build your confidence much faster, and you will develop better business relationships too.

And by developing better business relationships, your business will grow. That’s win-win.

I’d love for you to share your insights about win-win mentality on my Facebook page.

Put First Things First

This the third post in my series of posts about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. It is my slant on each of the habits, and how each relates to being a small business owner. To read the whole series, click here.

Habit #3 Put First Things First

This is a familiar statement for many areas of life – putting first things first is the same thing as starting at step 1. And that’s important to do in every aspect of your business.

Putting first things first means to begin where you need to, so that you can progress through the proper steps, or channels, to reach your end goal.

Let’s think about this by showing you a few examples:

1. You want to get support in your business. Well, first you need to think about specifically what you need help with. It won’t serve you to start looking for support if you don’t know what you plan to outsource.

2. You want to redo your website. First you need to think about what you want your final product to look like. This will give you much more insight when you are considering a design company to help you make the change.

3. You want to change your target market or specialty. First you need to think about your timeline and the specific steps that you need to put in place to make a smooth transition from one to the other.

Get the picture? Starting with the first thing helps you to get organized and get a solid plan in place to make whatever changes you want to make.

And it’s not limited to changes in your business. The same principle applies to anything you do in business. Maybe you want to increase your networking opportunities. Maybe you want to launch a new product or program. Maybe you need to plan more sales calls in your business activity. Starting at the beginning is the key to anything you do.

I’d love for you to share your insights about first things first on my Facebook page.

Begin with the End in Mind

This the second post in my series of posts about The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey. It is my slant on each of the habits, and how each relates to being a small business owner. To read the whole series, click here.

Habit #2: Begin with the End in Mind

Planning is a huge part of any success in your small business.

But planning can often lead to confusion, because people often start at the beginning.

Consider this: you want to build your subscriber list.

You can set a goal to start building your list, but that won’t be the only thing you need to do. Knowing what you want people to do when they come into your ‘funnel’ is only half of what you need to think about. And starting with that goal is great, but it won’t get you moving forward.

You need to think about what you want the outcome to be. You know that you want them to them to do, every step of the way. So you start with the end in mind.

Where are they coming in to your funnel? What do you want them to do as their eventual conversion? Probably become a client of some kind. Great. So then work back from there – how will you move them along your funnel … and what do you want them to do in the meantime?

Once you start to think about your steps, you will realize that there are many ‘ends’ along the way to them as they move through your funnel. Consider all of them.

A sample intake might be:

Sign up for your free report on your website
Connect with you on social media, start developing relationship with you
Start receiving your newsletter for regular communication
Move them into a free video series
Move them into an entry level product purchase
Continue to track interest and build relationship with them
Move them to a higher level product purchase

… and so on.

There are many levels – and some people might go directly to the higher level stuff, but most people will not.

So look at each step of your funnel and think about what you want the end goal of each campaign to be. Then work back to build the steps so that you are guiding them to do what you want them to do. And connect each section of your funnel with transition pieces that make sense.

Working from the end back is a smart way to build a strong, functional funnel that converts your prospects.

I’d love for you to share your insights about beginning with the end in mind on my Facebook page.

Be Proactive

I recently came upon my copy of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey.

It inspired me to write a blog post series on the Habits, and to give you my slant on each of these, as it relates to being a small business owner.

Be Proactive Habit #1: Be Proactive

Being proactive is something that a lot of people talk about, but fewer people actually do.

When I talk to clients about being proactive, what I mean is that we will plan and strategize all of the tasks we do, with an end goal in mind. And we will monitor our results as we go along, to be sure we are achieving the results we want. If we are not, we will tweak the plan (or the goal, but usually the plan).

In concrete terms, this is being proactive instead of being reactive.

For example, let’s talk about your free gift on your website. You have put it together, you have set up your opt in and you are thrilled to see signups coming into your list. Your autoresponder delivers said free gift, and then your new person will receive your newsletter once a week or once a month or whatever, moving forward. That’s it.

You stop there with the correspondence because you’re not really sure what you want to send them after that (other than your newsletter).

That’s a reactive mindset. What should you be doing with those people as they come in? You know for sure that they wanted to receive your free gift (they are interested in that topic), so what are you doing with them after that? Nothing?

You should know how you want them to proceed through your marketing funnel. Have a plan for them – and put it into place right from the time they sign up.

That is being proactive!

When they sign up for your free gift, take advantage of that opportunity. Know where you want to lead them once they have expressed interest, and then lead them there. Don’t stop at one email ‘here’s your free gift’. Set up a series of emails that they can get, that will introduce them to you and your wealth of information. Marketing strategy tells us that frequent ‘touches’ will help you build the know-like-trust factor with your people, so be sure to plan that. Theme your follow up to match the very thing that they opted in for, and you will build a relationship with them quickly. Invite them to be responsive – email you or click on a link in your email, so you can track their interests, and follow up with them accordingly.

That’s a simple way to be proactive in your business instead of being reactive. However, it’s a step that is missed by many, many small business owners because they are only thinking about growing their list – getting names on their list … but not thinking further than that!

When we react to what happens around us, we go along at our regular pace, and we react to what our business or our life throws at us. There are times when this is okay, but for things like business planning and marketing, it is not effective to be reactive.

To be proactive is simply to be looking down the road further than you are right now, and anticipating what will come. Herein lies success – because of the PLAN!

You make choices based on what you want to happen, and you work with the consequences of those choices. How? Simply by tweaking the goals or the path up ahead. It’s not rocket science, but it’s not reactive.

By consciously being proactive in your business, you are taking responsibility for what comes your way, and you are able to steer your course much better.

By working with support staff (from assistants to business coaches) you are better equipped to make long term plans and really have a solid foundation for your business planning and strategy.

Are you being proactive in your business? If you are, congratulations! If you are not, ask yourself where you could implement a little bit of the suggestions from above.

I’d love for you to share your insights about being proactive on my Facebook page.


Happy New Year!

Okay how many times have you heard that already? But I haven’t been here in a while, so I thought it was appropriate to begin that way! 🙂

I am all set to start blogging regularly here again, and I hope you will be interested to read about the things I will share with you.

Small business owners are always contacting me for questions about getting support in their business, and so that’s what I’m going to provide more of for you, here on my blog.

I’ll be sharing resources to help you run your virtual business more efficiently, as well as tips and tricks to help you with your marketing and your networking.

I hope you will tune in! Make sure to subscribe to my RSS feed above so you don’t miss a thing … or join me at my Facebook page.

Looking forward to continuing our conversations everywhere we meet!


7 Tips for a Great Virtual Event

Your first virtual event is your chance to shine!

Many virtual professionals don’t realize all the details that need to be looked after in order to host a kicking virtual event.

But it’s easy to make yourself look polished and professional.

For instance, a common event setup has you interviewing someone else. Here are a few tips that you should be sure to use to make an interview event setup go smoothly, and to encourage a guest to do a reciprocal event with you (or even a repeat event)!

Get contact information – when you first get in contact with someone to plan an event, be sure to get their email address, mailing address and phone number. When you have any questions during your planning, production or promotion phase of the event, you will easily be able to get in touch with them.

Handle scheduling – before you start any planning, get your guest’s schedule information. If they will be travelling, away, or just busy during your planning or promotion phase, you will lose valuable time and it could delay your promotion of the event. Don’t forget to confirm their speaking date at the same time.

Gather all information at once – you will need a headshot, biography and (possibly) a topic description in order to get your registration page set up. You will need this information from your guest before you can do anything.

Put together promotional tools – build your registration page and your promotional materials, and be sure to get them to your guest with plenty of time prior to the event. Promotional calendars can fill up very quickly for many people so it’s important to be sure your event will get fit into the schedule as soon as possible!

Follow up – be sure that you continue to contact your guest prior to the event, to ensure that they are promoting and to be sure that they remember.

Provide script or questions – it is often a great gesture to send along a script of your interview, or a list of questions that you intend to ask someone on the call. It shows that you have planned your call well, and it also helps the guest feel at ease if they can somewhat plan their responses.

Plan for technical difficulties – be sure your guest has a landline or mobile phone number to contact their host if anything goes wrong before or during the event. Discuss what you will do if something goes wrong.

Bonus Tip: Thank them – be sure to be grateful to your guest for taking the time to attend your call. You can thank them by sending them a small gift (you have their mailing address after all!) or with a reciprocal call (where they interview you!)

Paying attention to these details as you are setting up your event really helps you put together a polished and professional event. You will have all the information you need to build your promotions, and you will be prepared for a smooth interview session, and you will be prepared if anything goes wrong.

So what are you waiting for? Plan your first (or next!) event now!

Wish You Could Get Support in Your Business?

Are you a small business owner, consultant, speaker or coach that still ‘does it all’ in your business?

If you are, you’re not alone.

When we start out running our own business, we inevitably have to wear all of the hats from administration to sales and everything in between.

As we start to build our business, some of these tasks can take over time that would be better spent working with clients … you know, the ‘revenue’ part.

But it can be difficult to get started.

Your business is your baby. When you build it from the ground up, it can be difficult to bring in someone to help you with certain aspects of it – not just from a control standpoint (or lack of control!) but also from the perspective that you now have to ‘manage’ other people who are involved in your business.

This is often the thing that keeps people from seeking help when they need to get it. But the fact is that without support, your business is not going to be able to grow quickly and successfully.

So … where do you start? Easy. With a wish list (doesn’t that sound FUN?) … a Virtual Assistant Wish List!

The VA Wish List will allow you to strategically plan what it is you need help with, and will also help you plan when you can bring that type of support into your business. Here’s how:

1. List all the things you do in your business. This means everything. If you need to ‘follow’ yourself around your business for a week or a month to build this list, do it. You’ll be surprised at what’s on it!

2. Indicate what you don’t like to do, or what you don’t do well. These are the things that you should get support around immediately.

3. Indicate things that you know you will eventually need to get help with if you business gets very big very quickly. These are the things you should plan to get support with ‘at some point’ (then set that point!)

As you look over your list, really think about:

1. How easy it is to delegate  – can you call someone now to help you (ie bookkeeper, housekeeper)

2. What procedures do you have in place – if you have to explain your ‘way’ of doing things to people, do you have it written down? If not, how easy is it to do that?

3. Rank each task as most important to ‘get off your desk’ – by knowing what you need to get rid of fastest, you can free up valuable time quickly so you can focus on bringing revenue into your business right away (*and that could pay for your outsourcing!)

It’s as simple as that. Write it all down so you can look at it. Pat yourself on the back for all that you are doing in your own business. Then get moving to get help where it makes sense. You will not only free up your time to make more money, but you will also establish yourself as a growing business owner who recognizes that no one can (or should) do it all alone.

Don’t wish for support – build a Wish List and get it. For more information about working with a Virtual Assistant, visit my blog at

What is Your Magic Number?

I once took a course that helped me to see how I was interacting with potential clients, and how I was attempting to convert those potential clients into actual clients.

It introduced me to my ‘magic number’ – my conversion rate of prospects.

What does that mean? Well, simply put, that means how many people I actually convert to clients while on a sales call.

I realized that I was converting at about 40 per cent, which would mean that for every 10 people I talked to, 4 would actually sign on to work with me. (Note: that’s not a very good conversion rate!)

Think about it … if you are working at a 40 per cent conversion rate, and you need 10 clients to build your business to the level that you want it to be at, that means that you will need to have sales conversations with 25 people to get those 10 clients. This is your magic number.

Do you know what your magic number is?

It’s important to know this number for a couple of reasons. First, you need to know in order to accurately match your networking efforts with your client goals.

Second, by knowing this number, you can assess your efforts and figure out how to increase your odds of closing a client.

There are two ways of doing this:

1. Increase your networking efforts. Speak to more people and you will get more sales calls. So, if you need to speak with 50 people to get 10 sales calls, then you will need to ramp up your networking efforts so that you are actively connecting with those 50 people regularly, in order to move them to the next level … a call.

2. Increase your conversion rate.  In the example above, 40% is quite low. You can also assess your strategy on your sales calls to see why you are not converting clients at a higher rate. What are their objections? Why are they getting off the phone with you without signing the deal? What can you change about your conversations to increase your conversion rate?

Either way will be an effective way for you to increase your client conversions. It’s up to you which one is right for you, but with the limited time that everyone has for networking, it seems logical to try to increase your success so that you are closing at a higher rate. That way you can still talk to the same number of people as you are now, but you will get more clients from those calls.

Getting clients easily requires a carefully thought out strategy – make the connections, secure the sales calls, and convert the clients. Everything is better with a well-thought-out plan!

Lack of Time or Lack of Direction?

“People often complain about lack of time when the lack of direction is the real problem.” ~ Zig Ziglar

One of the things that ‘busy’ people often lament is the lack of time. Well there is only so much time available. If you find yourself wishing you had more time, it would be a good exercise to look at exactly where you are spending yours.

Here are 6 places that you can focus on to help ‘find more time’ in your day.

Set office hours. Whether you are working part-time or full-time, it’s important to select some office hours and set them. By setting hours, you are telling people when they will be able to reach you. Your family and your clients will be happier knowing exactly when you are working and when you are not. Some virtual professionals work around their family activities. And while this is doable, and even encouraged, it’s important to still figure out what that looks like on a regular basis (confusing your clients and partners with odd hours and last minute days away is not the way to build your business). For instance if you often help at your child’s school, try to figure out a regular routine for that and set your business hours around that. If your children come home from school and ‘need you’ starting at 3 pm every day, be sure to end your business hours by the time they get home. If you are transitioning from a full time job to your new virtual business, set some time aside during the business day to return calls and emails (once is plenty). When your office is ‘closed’, be sure not to be working, as well. You owe it to yourself.

Set boundaries. By setting time that you will be ‘in your office’, you are effectively setting boundaries – for your clients, for your family, and for yourself. Boundaries are important, because there is nothing worse than having your clients or partners expecting to hear back from you within an hour of a call or an email… and not getting back to them during that time. Boundaries are important from the very beginning of any client relationship. Let them know your response times, and how to reach you in an emergency. Also be sure to indicate what constitutes an emergency! Planning regular production calls with support personnel each week can help with boundaries, because everyone is on the same page with what work will be done over the coming week, and you can let them know any scheduling issues while on the phone. And it goes without saying that your family will be happier if you are not checking email every five minutes when you’re supposed to be watching your son or daughter in the school play or on the hockey rink!

Schedule time and get organized. Getting and staying organized is sometimes a challenge when you are trying to balance work and family life. I start every morning by putting together a task list for the day. I figure out when I will do each item and then I set my day up to take care of everything. I am lucky to have a full time virtual business, so my business hours for clients are 10 to 4 from Monday to Friday. I go into my office each day by 9 and leave at 5, and try to shut the door when I am finished for the day. So any household things typically get done outside of those hours. I try to disrupt my family as little as possible, so if I have extra work to do, I start earlier or work after they have gone to bed (which actually isn’t that often at all!), but their routines are disrupted as little as possible. The extra hour on either side of my business hours lets me organize my own business things. It’s not perfect every day, but it’s a good system and it works well. Knowing what is going to get done, and when, is one of the most important parts of my business.

Manage email, the phone and meetings. Email can be the biggest drain on your time during the day. However, phone calls and meetings can be equally disruptive. I have regularly scheduled phone calls with my clients each week, which mainly take about 15 minutes. Other than that, I don’t take phone calls unless they are scheduled. If my clients need me they know to email me or to leave me a voicemail and I’ll get back to them when I have some free time. Of course there are exceptions… but this is my boundary and all of my clients respect it. It helps me to keep on task with whatever I am doing for the day. Meetings are the same – if they are to be a half hour, then I leave the meeting after a half hour to go on with my day. Keeping this policy in place helps me to keep my day organized and helps me from falling behind on what I have planned to do for the day.

Get support and delegate. If you are planning to have a successful virtual business that will allow you to work less and make more money, you will at some point need to get support to help you process client work. So start early! If you do a lot of one thing for your clients, then find someone who you can start to work with you help you with work overflow. You will be able to take on new clients more easily if you already have someone in place to help you when necessary. Alternately, you can get someone to work with who does things that you do not do (ie for me it’s client liaison work and graphics) so you can offer your clients a full service experience. As you start to work with a client, develop procedures for the things you do for them. Get them on paper, and then when you need to delegate the work to one of your support people, you will already have your procedures in place. This creates better flow and a lot less supervision. You can work with VAs or other virtual professionals, depending on what kind of help you need.

Avoid multitasking. I used to be really proud to say I could handle more than one task at a time. I don’t think I worded that correctly. I can certainly juggle a lot of different things in a morning, but I only actually do one thing at a time. Multi-tasking is only effective when one item has your full attention. If you try to do three different things simultaneously, you will end up spending more time on each of them because your attention is divided. I break my work up into 15 minute segments. If I am working on one client’s work, I put everyone else’s away for that length of time. I get it done faster, I can schedule the next task for that client, and then I move onto the next. So that’s what I consider to be multitasking – doing many things during the course of the day, and juggling the time to get them all done when they need to be done. But never doing more than one thing at a time. Concentration is key, and when you are billing clients by the time you work on their task, it’s important to give their work your undivided attention.

If you really look at each of these areas, and write down where you are spending your time, you will see that you can buy back a lot of wasted time. Why do I know that fixing these areas will ‘find you more time’? Because I’ve been guilty of all of them at one time or another, and I have seen the difference it can make to get them in order. See for yourself… try just one (like the email one or the phone calls!) and see how much more productive and organized you will be.

Simple Facebook tips for business networking

It seems these days that most people are on Facebook for either their personal life or their business life, or both. Social media is very popular, but I would still say that Facebook is king in the social media world.

From a business standpoint, Facebook is a very effective way of networking, different than Twitter or LinkedIn or some of the others out there, Facebook is easy because it’s so … well … big, for lack of a better word!

It’s easy to browse around and see what people are up to, and it’s easy to connect and network with people, but there are a few tips that you might want to use to improve your business networking so that you can maximize your time online and really use it effectively.

Be selective. It’s important to have quality over quantity for your business contacts. On your wall feed, you will see posts from all of your connections. If you have people who post valuable content once a day, and you have others who post things that don’t interest you much more often, you may miss the things you are really interested in. It’s not a race, and it’s not a contest. Only connect (or stay connected) with people that you really want to be in contact with. And don’t be afraid to try people on for size first. I have friended and unfriended many business people/pages/groups – if they take away from my online experience (or even just don’t add to it), I am not afraid to disconnect with them.

Mix it up. Be sure to have a good balance of personal and business posts going. Business is business, and of course you want to use your social media to expand your business, but the people that will work with you are going to want to connect with you, the person, so it’s important to balance that. Same can be said for the other way – if you are posting only personal content, people may not find that business connection with you that you want them to find.

Build lists. The easiest way to separate the content that comes in over your wall feed is to use lists. You can create lists to segregate all of the people you are friends with – so you can keep your personal contacts and your business ones separate. I also keep a couple of separate business lists, for pages, people and really interesting contacts, so when I view my feed I can select to view only what they have posted. On the Most Recent tab, there is a dropdown menu where you can choose which list of contacts you want to show. This is a great way to get yourself up to date quickly. Pick a list to check out, scan the posts, and comment or share as you wish!

Interact. It is social media after all! Don’t just lurk on people’s walls – comment on their posts and updates. Interaction is the networking part of things. Share things that others have posted to your own wall. You may think that they don’t want to hear what you have to say, but they really do. Everyone likes to have someone comment on something they have ‘put out there’. From a business standpoint, it makes great sense to post interesting things and to comment on other people’s as well. You are trying to establish a reputation as an expert, so share your knowledge and opinion!

Be active. Once you put your social media strategy in place, it’s important to keep up your activity. Check in regularly, and interact regularly. Post your own content regularly too. Share your expertise in your industry. Be interesting. Don’t overload people, but don’t disappear. It can be a fine balance, but using a social media strategy will help you keep on track.

Connecting with potential clients and colleagues alike on Facebook makes good business networking sense. You can do it easily in minutes a day when you follow these simple tips!