Small business

Are you visible online?

Do people know who are you? What you're selling in your business? Who you work with? Why they should buy from you? 

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Getting visible online is something a lot of business owners really struggle with, but it's also one of the very best ways to be seen. To be known. To get more clients. To make more money.

When you're visible you can share your experience, your expertise, and give your audience the opportunity to get to know you. This is how you build relationships. You're creating the "know, like and trust" factor, which is how many people choose what to buy and who to buy it from.

Here's the good news. You don’t need to be a social media expert to make social media work for your business - you just need to be visible on it!

The bad news? Visibility is often something business owners have a really hard time with.
You may find yourself shying away from posting online too much or not wanting to share too many photos, personal stories or selfies. 

So, how can you get comfortable and start taking action so that people can see you, your business, and all of the value you have to offer? Be visible. And if that feels hard, get more comfortable with being visible in a safe space designed just for that - my visibility challenge.

I want to support business owners as they talk about their mindset. I want them to be more comfortable posting in a variety of places online, dabble with video and even start thinking about getting media attention.

Let's get you in front of more people so more people have the opportunity to start working with you!

Are you ready to attract your ideal clients? Together let's get more active in the online space, share relevant content, and build relationships with the people in your networks. That is how you stay top of mind, which is what visibility is all about. 

So, sign up for my visibility challenge.  It takes about 5-20 minutes per day (some days less!) over 14 days. We'll start getting comfortable, setting up good visibility tactics and building relationships with each other at the same time.

Let's get visible together! See you over there!

Making time to grow your business

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A lot of the business owners I work with come to me because they feel frustrated. They have goals they want to achieve but they're not achieving them because they lack the focus, clarity, and accountability to do it.

Some business owners are “all in” when it comes to clarity, accountability and reaching goals. They invest in a mastermind program or business coach and devote the time required to work on growing their businesses.  But then we have the "little bit in" business owners (and they're the more common ones). The “little bit in” business owners want change and growth in their businesses, but they spend so much time working IN their businesses (and believing there just isn't the time to step away) that they never make the time needed to properly plan, strategize or do the work needed to reach their business goals.

Are you a “little bit in?”

It’s really easy to be the “little bit in” person. You sign up for an online course and rarely or never participate in it, you join Facebook Groups and read everyone else’s posts, but never engage or you follow a business coach online, but never commit to signing up to work with them. The “little bit in” person doesn’t want to invest in a private package or high ticket price business coach full time, or they sign up for things and don't execute on any of it for a million reasons that feel very legitimate and honourable.

Make the time

We all have a lot going on and if you don’t invest the time needed to fully plan your business and work with someone who can help you reach your business goals then you will always be that “little bit in” person. You will never accomplish anything outside of your day-to-day unless you commit to taking a break and blocking off the time to do so.

* You need to take time away from your business to figure out what is next.
* You need to take a step back from the day-to-day and see what is working and what is not.

Whether it is through an accountability group, a business coach or another commitment – you need to go all in for yourself and your business in order to see change and grow.

The next time you feel the need to do something big in your business think about what it would take for you to be all in and not just dipping your toes in? How can you stop being the “little bit in” person and grow as a person and as a business? What would that do for you and your business? Is it worth it?

Ponder this and then leave me a comment and let me know how you make big changes and grow in your business. When you're ready to go all in, book a call with me or come and join the Biz Advantage. We're there and ready to help support you as you start making real things happen!

My Favourite Business Tools

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I use many tools to keep my business running and I am always honest about what works and doesn't work for me.

These are some of the tools I use to keep my business running smoothly, as well as services I use for things like printing and marketing products.

I based my list on what I use, not on affiliate links, so if they have an affiliate link, I used it, but if not - I still use the tool, so I am sharing it! :)

Staying Organized

Acuity Scheduling - This tool gives current and prospective clients the freedom to schedule their own appointments with me based on the availability I pre-set up through my linked calendar. I also link Acuity to Zoom (my video chat software, which I mention a little later) so when someone books a call they automatically have a Zoom ID generated, which creates and sends the call information manually (this is a huge timesaver for me!). I also create custom forms for each appointment. This allows me to create different sets of questions depending on what we're meeting about. These questions give both me and the client or prospective client as much information as possible about each other, and the topic at hand, before we get on the call.

Freedcamp - There are many great project management tools out there. It's important to find the one that works best for you. I like the fact that in Freedcamp I can drag things around (probably because it's a lot like Post-it Notes and that's how my brain works). Project management tools are a great way to manage multiple projects at the same time, set deadlines and work with a virtual assistant or team to accomplish those goals and tasks.

Lastpass - passwords, you shouldn't use the same one everywhere but how are you supposed to remember all the passwords? A post it on your computer is not only not the best idea, it's easy to lose and not at all useful if you're logging in to something when you aren't at home. I love lastpass because it saves all my passwords and also creates secure passwords for me to use. It also lets me share passwords with my team, either so they can see the password or so they don't know what the password is - very handy!

Finances and payments

Quickbooks - Quickbooks is what I use for invoicing and it also helps me track all expenses and HST so I can easily file my taxes. I like that it's got a fairly simple interface and that it has the ability to deal with far more complex things than I'm doing now so it will grow with my business. 

Moonclerk - Moonclerk connects with Stripe and it allows me to be able to auto process monthly membership payments. This is how members from the Biz Advantage pay their recurring membership fees even though I don't formally have a shopping cart system that has that functionality.

Stripe - Stripe is a great alternative to PayPal for accepting payments. It integrates with a lot of softwares and websites, including my website shopping cart that is through Squarespace.

Staying Connected

Active Campaign - Sending emails is really important for any business. There are so many options with many different functionalities. Active Campaign is a good fit for my business because it is affordable and gives me the ability to not only create automations, but also to separate clients on multiple lists and the ability to tag customers so they won't get emails trying to sell them into a program they are already invested in. 

Belive.tv - This is a fun tool for running Facebook Lives and they have a two week trial. You can easily add branding to your Facebook Lives and you can pre-schedule headers to pop up, making your broadcast look slick and professional. You can also have multiple people on a Live at the same time without having to use your phone, something I don't have a great set up to do, so try to avoid.

Buffer - Scheduling content may not be the best way to get engagement on social channels, but it is definitely the easiest way to make sure there is always consistent content being shared to your channels. There are lots of great programs for scheduling content. I have been a longtime user of Buffer and like the clean look of it and it's ease of use.

Zoom - If I were only allowed to keep one tool in my business, I would keep Zoom, that's how much I love and appreciate this software. Zoom is an amazing platform for video calls and it is how I run 99% of my coaching calls. It allows me to record the calls, and it allows me to give permission to my clients to also record the call. It allows screen sharing and I can use it as an informal webinar tool too, which has come in handy several times. Having previously used other video chat softwares, Zoom is infinitely more stable as a platform and has far less connectivity issues than any other video software tool I've ever used. 

Marketing Materials

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Moo - I love getting my business cards from Moo. I can upload up to 100 different photos! They become almost like trading cards. ;) People love that there's a photo on my business cards. They remember who I am, and they love getting to pick which card they want, so it becomes this great conversation starter and it makes conversations more memorable because the card is something they don't want to get rid of.

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Sticker Mule - I love stickers and other personalized business stuff. If you have clients who would like stickers, or you ship a lot of things, you can get personalized mailers and packing tape, as well as all kinds of other fun stuff. They have samples and frequently run promos which is how I tried out some of their products to make sure I liked them before committing to too much (but honestly, I love everything I've gotten from them)! :) 

This link will get you $10 off your first order.

Canva - Creating attractive images for your business is something that is no longer optional, it's required. You are expected to share images with blog posts to get people's attention online. If you're not a professional graphic designer (like me) this might feel VERY stressful. I love that Canva makes it really easy to try different things and that they have all kinds of templates. I know that I'm not creating something TERRIBLE (and trust me, I used to try to create images in MS Paint - they were TERRIBLE!)!

There you have it - a list of the important tools that I use in my business. Are there others that are critical to your business? Let me know in the comments below.

Are you providing value?

If you want people to pay attention to you in this very busy, loud and overwhelming world then there is one thing you need to make sure you always do - PROVIDE VALUE. 

People will only make time for things they really WANT, so it's your job to understand your audience enough to have figured out what they want. 

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WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE?

Can you describe your audience? Every audience is different and you need to take the time to really figure out who your audience is. Understanding who makes up that audience, what they like, what they don’t like and what they would like from you is critical in creating the kind of content that can help you build relationships that turn your audience into customers.

Once you’ve figured that out, creating and sharing content that can connect with your audience becomes a lot easier.

WHAT DO THEY VALUE?

Not every audience is looking for the same kind of information. Make sure that everything you share has some kind of connection back to who you are and who your audience is. 

Think about why they followed you in the first place. What would people expect the content to look like coming from your brand? Make sure your content doesn’t go too far off from that.

Things that people value tend to fall into three main categories:

  1. You’re teaching them something,
  2. You’re entertaining them, or
  3. You’re giving them tools and knowledge. 

WHAT DON’T THEY WANT?

Nobody likes to follow a brand that is only trying to sell to them. That’s valuable to the brand, not to the audience. Make sure that you’re giving your audience something they want or can use so that when you do post some sales posts - and you definitely should - they think so highly of you they’re far more inclined to buy.

People don’t want information that has nothing to do with them or that they can’t relate to.

LET’S LOOK AT SOME EXAMPLES

  • If your main audience is young women about to get married, interesting articles about retirement doesn’t make sense. 
  • If your main audience is men who want to home brew their own beer, then funny cartoons about being a new mom doesn’t make sense.
  • If you promised tips and tricks to help them do something better, just sharing things you’re selling isn’t going to convince them of anything other than that you’re pushy and too sales-y.
  • If you sell hammers, make sure that you talk about the hammers, and the things you can do with the hammers. 

Where and how do they want to receive information?
 

Where do your people like to hang out? If they're on Instagram, creating podcasts is never going to work well for them. If they're on YouTube, they want video, so you want to make sure you're creating video.

If they love really clean design you're going to be creating different things than if they really like stories. The more you understand what format they like to receive content in, what they want to know, and where they want to receive it, the more likely your content will hit the mark and connect with them.

Spend some time thinking about your content and what you’re giving to your audience that they would value. Then share some examples (good and bad) of what you’ve seen or done that relates to giving an audience value in the comments.

If you'd like help finding ways to share content online so people are ready to pay attention, come and join my free Facebook Group - The Biz Studio Community. There's a free cheat sheet in the files section with templates to use to highlight the benefit and value of your content when you share it (because even more than providing valuable content, you need to also make sure you're telling people what you're sharing and how it's valuable).

5 things business women need to stop doing ASAP

5 things business women need to stop doing ASAP

As a business coach, I spend many hours with entrepreneurs and there are big themes that come up on a regular basis. Today I'm sharing five themes that stop business owners from truly enjoying their businesses and living the life they want to have.

1) Doing things because they can

"Just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you have to do a thing."

What?!

I’ll say it again.

Just because you CAN do a thing doesn’t mean you have to do a thing.

Have you ever taken on a contract or task you really didn't want to do? Something that you were not only perfectly able to do, but that you could probably do really well, but just don’t really like doing?

Why did you take the job if you don’t really like doing it?

Because you’re building a business... and you need to make money... and you want people to be happy with you and… and… and…

Start thinking about what you WANT to do. Make a list and keep it at hand, you need to be doing more of that.

Start thinking about what you don’t actually like doing. Make a list and start saying no to those tasks. The more intentional you are about getting the work you DO WANT, that’s what you’ll start to get. You’ll be happier doing it, and probably make more money doing it because you won’t be wasting your time, procrastinating and being bitter that you’re working on a project that you hate.

2) Doing things because they should

The amount of times people tell me what they should be doing when I ask them what they could be doing to make their business more successful or to make them happier in their life or their business might really surprise you.

We get stuck in our 'shoulds' ... 

We should be eating healthy

We should be out networking

We should be on Twitter

We should be trying to make 6 figures

You CAN do all of those things, but don’t do them because that’s what you SHOULD do, do it because that’s what you want to do. Don't let someone else decide how you should be living your life and running your business.

3) Doing things because that’s what "one does”

What does success look like to you? Have you really thought about it? How much money do you want to earn? Why?

I see business owners all the time who are caught up in the quest for “more.”

More is better. More is success. More money. More business. More sales. More things.

I’m not going to lie, I like more too. :)  What I think is key is to decide what you actually want. What do you want your life to look like and why? What does success actually look like to you?

You can have it look like anything you want--but you need to take the time to decide what you want and not just let your next steps be dictated by what you think other people would do. I have a worksheet to help you do that and you can grab it for free here.

4) Doing things without a baseline measure

Do you suffer from shiny object syndrome? I do. 

I love new ideas, projects and heading in new directions at the drop of the hat. It’s a big reason I’m an entrepreneur--so I can do that!

But not every good idea should be implemented (bummer, right?).

Not every idea makes sense for you. For your family. For what you want in the long run. For what you want your business to look like in the long run.

That life plan I mentioned in point three gives you something to hold up next to your new idea and to help you decide one of three things:

* This fits perfectly. I’m doing it!

* This doesn’t really fit with my life plan and that life plan is actually more important. I choose that plan and will let this idea go for now.

* This doesn’t really fit with the plan, but it’s a REALLY good idea, and I think it’s worth sacrificing some of the things that I thought I wanted to make this happen.

Any of those decisions are great, but if you didn’t have the plan to hold up next to the new idea, you wouldn’t have anything to measure the new idea by to make sure it’s a good fit. Trust me… this is how you end up running a store in a mall, working crazy long hours into the nights and weekends when you meant to be quitting your corporate job to be spending MORE time with your kids. I really wish I'd gone through this exercise back then.

5) Doing things without a destination

Are you doing what you thought you were going to be doing when you started your business? Have you veered left or right at some point and you're not sure how you got to be doing what you’re doing now?

If you are, trust me - you're not alone. So many business owners start a business to do a thing - “graphic design,” “sleep consulting,” “lawyer,” “coach," and don’t think through the plan. They don't know what kind of work they want to be doing, who they want to be doing it with, how they want to deliver their services, what kind of hours they want to be working, etc That’s like saying you know you want to go to the United States from Canada (or vice versa) and not knowing where in the United States you want to go. You can start heading south, but where you end up is a pretty big gamble.

If you pick a specific state or a specific city, you can pick your route - then there's a lot more certainty you'll end up in the right place.

Instead (my car analogy goes on a while here, stay with me) most of the entrepreneurs I talk to are driving down the highway with the pedal to the floor going as fast as they can. When I ask them where they’re going they yell, “I don’t know!” and when I suggest they stop and figure it out they yell “I can’t! There’s nowhere to stop!”

You need to stop the car and pick a destination and a route. It’s going to make it so much easier to know if you’re heading in the right direction if you have a destination. And if 100 miles down the road you decide you want to stop and stay right where you are, or you decide you want to go west instead, you totally can, but at least you’ll know you’re making that decision intentionally and not just letting it happen by accident. 

You may have noticed a theme here - it’s all about thinking about what you want. You CAN be choosy. You CAN be specific. You CAN decide what you want your fate to be.

Not only CAN you, but making all those intentional choices has a magical effect. It has you loving what you do more. And when you love what you’re doing, you attract more of what you want.

The first step is choosing - what do YOU want?