Video – Why It Is Becoming The Most Effective Form of Marketing Your Business

video marketingI recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company. Already in 2017 we are seeing massive strides in the way companies are using video to market their business, as well as the platforms making changes allowing you to take your video to the next level.

Just last week, Facebook announced new ways to watch videos on Facebook that include bringing sound to the videos in the news feed as you scroll, adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, a new watch and scroll feature that allows you to keep watching the video but allowing you to keep scrolling through your feed, and a new app for watching Facebook videos on TV with the use of an Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV and Samsung Smart TV.

YouTube traffic expanded more than 40% since last year, and continues to have a billion users watching millions of hours every single day. The thing you have to remember is that these are not super high quality edited videos by professionals. These are quick and easy videos that people are simply using cell phones to shoot in many cases. But that is getting it done. The content is out there, you are creating a relationship by being in front of them and it is increasing your credibility.

It is also rumored that Google and Bing are both testing video incorporation into their search results – meaning your Google ad or other content will get better results if it is a video. That is awesome!

Video is really leveling the playing field when it comes to marketing your company. For a small business, video is an inexpensive and relatively quick way to get in front of your target market. It allows you to connect with your audience in ways you never could before. You can answer frequently asked questions, showcase new products, interview happy customers, demonstrate your products, the list goes on and on.

So what are some more ways you can use video to market your business?

  1. Add video to your marketing emails. Studies show it will boost your click through rate by 200-300%
  2. Embed videos on landing pages of your website. This will help boost your website’s SEO. Sixty-five percent of people will visit a website after viewing a branded video they find online or via social media channels.
  3. Start utilizing the Facebook Live video feature. Facebook gives more attention to live video and will therefore make sure it shows up in a person’s feed. For those of you using this feature already, you may have noticed a recent spike in views thanks to this change in their algorithm. Don’t forget to save it to your camera roll on your phone so you can upload it to YouTube for additional exposure.

I recently read a quote that said “To not have any kind of video support and/or strategy that lives with and/or complements your existing communications would be a fool’s errand. It’s time to learn to love video.”

I completely agree. The age of using video to market your business is definitely here and I am sure we will see a lot more this year in technological advances that will make it even more simple to do. Time to quit dragging your feet and get started.

 

 

 

 

The Cold, Hard, Ugly Truth About Networking

 

truth about networkingI was recently approached by several people about coming to speak at their event about networking. It is very common this time of year to re-focus your efforts on networking and analyzing where you should be spending your time to grow your business. Rather than tell it like it is to a small group, I am choosing to lay it all down and put it out there – the COLD, HARD, UGLY TRUTH about networking.

  1. Everyone’s process is a bit different. Most people shy away from networking because they think this means going to some boring mixer, drinking your glass of wine, passing out business cards, all while collecting some for yourself. Ugh. This IS NOT networking. This is wasting time. Networking does not just happen in meet and greets. Networking DOES NOT have to happen in a certain way. It can be anywhere. I network just about in every situation I am in. The grocery store, the school pick up line when I am getting my kids, chatting with other Moms, talking with the neighbors, all my friends on social media, you name it. Technology certainly has opened some doors for us to keep communicating. The point is – choose strategies that appeal to YOU. Maybe it is face to face events, or a lively LinkedIn Group, or simply making an amazing blog and staying in touch with your followers that comment. The point is – you will shine if you are having fun. People will be drawn to you, and that is really what you are after.
  2. It’s not all about you. It’s about building lasting relationships. This takes time. I once had a job many moons ago where I was required to return with at least five business cards from people I had “connected” with at an event. The proverbial “get in, get out” method, or as some may call speed networking. This will get you no where. You cannot expect to get serious leads EVERY time you go out. Networking takes time and patience.  You have to go into it with the mindset of building relationships. Start conversations with questions. This takes the spotlight off of you in the beginning and allows you to learn something about them in the process. People love to talk about themselves. Then you turn your focus on “what can I do for you” by doing the following:
    Share who you know. This means everyone you have ever met. It is as simple as that. During your chatting, really listen to what the people are doing, involved in, trying to accomplish and think about if there is anyone in your circle of influence or database of people that you think they should meet. People will remember you for making the connection.

    Share what you know. This means your life experiences, your observations, what you just read on Facebook, tips from email newsletters you subscribe to, etc. Share the knowledge that you think will help them in their agenda.

    Share how you feel. Sharing your compassion will always bring you the greatest rewards. Show concern, show empathy. It will not only help you with your bottom line, but also knowing that you are following your heart and your integrity.

  3. You MUST keep in touch. Otherwise, this networking thing is a complete waste of time. This is also the number one thing most people will not do. They make quality connections, work on building relationships – and then….nothing. Work gets busy, life gets busy, or they simply get lazy. Such a shame. Create a system for yourself and stick to it. I like to use Trello to give myself a to-do list, where I include time in my schedule for a keep in touch strategy. Regardless of how you remind yourself, you have to follow through.

Networking in some form is a must. On the bright side, it can be in many forms. Just stick with what works for you, make sure it’s not all about you, and you will do just fine. Approach every event/encounter with an open mind, making new business contact, and maybe even a friend. You never know who knows who, who they can lead you to, and what can come of that new face from across the room. Those kids that invented the Kevin Bacon game were on to something. Six degrees is not very far. Good advice to take with you to every networking opportunity in the future.

What is your favorite networking strategy? What works best for you?

Lessons 2016 Taught Us – And What To Do About It

key-to-success2It is safe to say that 2016 was quite the year for everyone. Whether you are focusing on politics, pop culture, the economy or simply your own life, I am sure if you take the time to take a look back at your calendar or some of your emails you could refresh your memory on some major events and life lessons that help to make you who you are today. For entrepreneurs, this is a very important task. If we are not learning – we are not growing. We must do what makes us uncomfortable in order to grow and thrive in our business. So I did just that. I took a look at my emails, and my social media posts and here are some great reminders – that I often say to myself – that I think everyone should say to themselves as they embark on the New Year.

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle. — Abraham Lincoln

This is so true. All too often we get caught in a routine or the new normal. We are stuck in a rut of just doing what is on the schedule and and we lose sight of a goal or a dream. A lot of people have ideas or vision – but not nearly as many actually take the time to get out there and find out what it takes to accomplish that vision. My advice? Time will pass regardless, so why wait on achieving your vision? Right them down your goals and post them in your office. Start at the end and work your way backwards. Get help. Ask questions. Study those who have done something similar. Hustle means, well HUSTLE.

Don’t cling to a mistake just because you spent a lot of time making it. – Dr. Laura Schlessinger

I think a lot of entrepreneurs are guilty of this one, including myself. I know it is easy to become gun shy when you mess up. All of the sudden that is the only thing you can focus on and then you spend all of your time focusing on how not to do THAT again. I am here to tell you – don’t waste your time with that. Mistakes are an important part of learning. It is just as important to learn what NOT to do as it is what TO do. When you start to focus on the negative, all you are doing is putting the energy out there that will attract more negativity. Mistakes are simply part of life. Don’t let them hold you back.

A strong spirit transcends rules. — Prince     OR      Either I will find a way or I’ll make one. — Philip Sidney

This one is one of my favorites. I have built my entire company on finding a way. When my husband and I first started helping people with their technology back in 1995, very few people even knew what the Internet was. We had to make up the rules as we went along. We were literally learning as we went. Think about how far technology has come in the last twenty years and you can understand why we were flying by the seat of our pants most of the time. We had to learn as went, come up with programs and packages based on what our clients needed, and find a way to make money at it. Was it scary? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes. I have written about this before: the answer is always yes, and then you find a way.

Stay afraid, but do it anyway. What’s important is the action. You don’t have to wait to be confident. Just do it and eventually the confidence will follow. – Carrie Fisher

Courage and confidence does not mean there is an absence of fear, but rather there is something more important than the fear. Heard that somewhere, but it is very true. My coach Michael Port always said “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.” A little fear never hurt anyone, and I am certain that many successful people still operate with an element of fear. But this quote could not be any more poignant. Just do it. Confidence will follow or possibly a mistake –  but you will learn and grow.

You can reach your goals a hell of a lot faster when you have help. — Lou Bortone

Love this one from my friend Lou. And he is so right. I, myself, was once afraid to ask questions. I was scared to reach out for help. Once I signed up with my first coach, all of that disappeared. If you are waiting to ask someone for help – then STOP IT. Not one person on this earth can possibly know everything, but for some reason I continually see entrepreneurs trying to do everything themselves. INVEST IN YOURSELF. Invest in your education. Whatever it is you need help with, then go get it. Maybe it is mapping out the steps to your next big thing. Maybe you just need some motivation or a slap across the face. Whatever it is  – just do it. This is exactly why I created my Accountability Program. Contact me to learn more. Even if it is not me – just contact someone.

The key to success is learning how to monetize what you had to learn the hard way. — Danelle Brown

Every entrepreneur I know has to learn something the hard way. There is no definitive map to success. It is full of twists and turns that you have to overcome and learn from. Whether it is figuring out how to launch a new product to the masses, writing a book, coming up with a new program, or simply paving the way on something that does not exist yet – if you have the knowledge, then figure out a way to package it and sell it to people that want to do the same thing. Life is full of mentors who went on to teach others how to do what they had to struggle to learn. You could be next.

I could go on and on with inspiring quotes, but I believe you get the idea. 2017 needs to be a game changer for you. I am excited for all of us. So share with me and my readers – what is the next big thing for you? Post it in the comments and let’s all cheer each other on.

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Three: Platform

using video to promote your businessIn my last two articles, we chatted about using video to promote your business. We focused on what to talk about, and the ever popular question of the equipment you need to get the job done. Now that we know what to say, and the video is recorded and ready to go, the next question naturally is:

What Platform Do I Post My Videos On?

Here is where I see a lot of people get overwhelmed. Yes, there are a lot of social media platforms to choose from. It is true that every single platform promotes the use of video to their feed, and yes, videos get more visibility and engagement. But where do you start? I am going to outline a few simple steps to get you started that will be easy to manage so you don’t get confused or frustrated and then give up – which defeats your purpose.

Your Website

Remember – all roads should lead to home. You own your website, you do not own Facebook or Twitter or any of the other ones. It is YOUR content, so make sure you are loading it onto your website. The perfect place to do this is your blog. Instead of writing a lengthy article, you can post a vlog instead! You can then create a simple email newsletter to your subscribers (something you also own) that showcases a link back to your website where they can watch the video. This also helps with your SEO, so this is a win win – and a must-do first step.

YouTube

There is no denying the most popular and most used video site on the Internet. Creating a YouTube channel is simple, and free. So why would you not have a YouTube channel? There are various ways you can upload a video to YouTube. You can either use YouTube directly – they make it super easy with a button that says “Upload”, or if you have a Mac you can use your iMovie software to upload it after you have done your editing. In the video link I included above, it also describes how to give it a proper title, descriptions, and tags to help make sure people on YouTube that are searching for what you are talking about find it. YouTube is owned by Google – so you are doing yourself a disservice if you are not uploading your content to the #1 search engine.

Facebook

It is the number one social media network out there, so that is hard to ignore. They even make it super easy for you now with their Facebook Live feature. Simply turn it on on your phone and start talking. You are then LIVE on your FB page and can even talk to your followers in real time and answer questions. If you are going this route, remember two things. First, advertise when you will be on Facebook Live so people can plan on tuning in. Second, save your video to your phone so you can then upload it to your website and YouTube. The beauty is that even when it is no longer live, FB still considers this great content to show your followers, so your content will still get a lot of attention even if it is not being seen live.

Twitter

If your followers are more the Twitter type, then you will want to be using Twitter’s video platform, Periscope. Periscope is a live streaming app owned by Twitter that allows you to share and watch live video broadcasts. You will need to download the app for this, but once you do, here is a great step by step tutorial on how to use Periscope. Remember, make sure you save your broadcast to your camera roll so you can utilize it on other platforms if you choose.

From here, the sky is the limit. You can post it to Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Vimeo, you name it. But ask yourself – where is my target market hanging out? Which platform do you have the most quality engagement? Just because these platforms exist does not mean you have to be everywhere. Be where YOUR target market is, and where they engage with you.

And here is a tip:

One GREAT place to learn where they are coming from, is to go into your Traffic Sources in your YouTube Analytics. You can learn how to do this here.

Bottom line: always post to your website, YouTube, and whatever social media channel that you are actively engaged in with your followers. You are one person, there are only so many hours in the day. So make them count.

Video is not going anywhere – so it is time to make it part of your online marketing. If you have questions or need help, don’t hesitate to contact me. In the meantime, I would love to hear your thoughts in my comments below!

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part Two: Equipment

using video to promote your businessLast month I got all of you thinking about using video to promote your business. We tackled the first elephant in the room – What do I even talk about in my video? Now that we have that squared away, let’s move on to the number two question that comes up:

What Equipment Do I Need To Make Videos For My Business?

This particular piece can easily get out of hand. I am not here to tell you to go out and start spending a lot of money buying equipment that could possibly scare you and therefore prevent you from following through. So let’s just start with the basics, and then move up from there.

  1. Phones/Mobile Devices: Yes, your smart phone or tablet, as most of you know, is perfectly capable of taking an excellent video. I am a Mac girl, so my experience comes from using an iPhone or an iPad. With all the latest upgrades, especially with the iPhone 7, your phone is VERY capable of taking a high quality video. Once it is on your phone, you can save it or immediately publish it to a social media platform. (We will cover this in more detail in part three.)
  2. Laptop Built In Camera – if you have a Mac, they already come with a built in “iSight Camera.” You can utilize this to record a video to your desktop which you can then publish multiple places, or to go live on Facebook or YouTube. Simple, easy, and right from the comfort of your desk chair. If you have a PC, models will vary, so check to see if you have one.
  3. Video Camera – these are the types you can buy at stores or on Amazon. My camera that I use a lot is an Everio, but you can use a multitude of cameras such as an Olympus, Sony, Panasonic or GoPro. Keep in mind you make sure whatever you buy is compatible with the video software you will need to edit your video and get it ready to publish. These cameras start out at $250 and go up from there depending on the features.
  4. Tripods – If you are using a camera or phone, I definitely recommend getting one of these. No one wants to watch a shaky video. If you are starting small – as I would recommend – you can get a tripod for your iPhone or iPad from caddiebuddy.com. If you have a separate camera, I use the AmazonBasics 60″ Lightweight. It is very versatile and comes with a bag to carry it in.
  5. Microphones – I find when using my iPhone or iPad a microphone is needed. Especially for videos that are done outside. I recommend the Lavalier Microphone. They are small, lightweight, and work with iPhones, Androids or Windows Smartphones. You simply plug it into the headphone jack and you are ready to go.
    If you are doing video from your desktop, my good friend and video guru, Lou Bortone, recommends the Blue Snowball microphone. This is mainly for recording podcasts, or another use would be live videos to YouTube or Facebook.

Do I need any special software to produce these videos now that I have taken them?

Depending on what type of computer you have, chances are you already have the software you need. In my case, I use iMovie which comes standard on every Mac. iMovie allows you to play with the sounds, adjust the brightness, add subtitles, and so on to make your video awesome. If you have a PC, Microsoft has made it difficult for their users since they no longer include Windows Movie Maker. It is possible that your computer may have come with a third party software, but there are so many varieties of movie editing software there are no standards.

I would also encourage you to check out Animoto. Especially if you own a PC. This is a monthly subscription service that is VERY versatile. You can upload pictures, videos, choose your captions, add music and really create a great video that can easily be shared to all your networks with the click of a button. They just last week rolled out new features that include voice-over controls, new customized text controls and more options to create collages and layouts. You can also do a lot of these features with iMovie for free. If you need help with that, fortunately the Apple Store has classes on iMovie that are very inexpensive, and they offer one-on-one training so you can ask as many questions as you want.

Once you become more advanced you can buy more complex video editing software, more advanced cameras, a green screen, you name it. But the reality is – most business owners don’t need all of that. You will do fine just by getting your face and voice out there on a consistent basis while providing good content relevant to your audience.

My advice? Start with your phone and a tripod of choice. From there you can choose to share it to Facebook Live, YouTube Live, or just save it in your phone and then export it to whichever video software you have on your computer.

Got questions? You can contact me here. Good luck and feel free to share your videos with me!

 

 

Using Video To Promote Your Business – Part One

using video to promote your businessIt seems using video to promote your business is all you see anymore when it comes to fresh ideas for marketing. And with good reason. Video is completely exploding. Just the new features of video inside Facebook alone can make your head swim. Video is really escalating your ability to connect with your followers and fans in ways we weren’t even thinking about as little as a year ago. But you cannot ignore the facts:

  • Videos have a 135% greater organic reach compared to photos.
  • Between April and November of 2015, the amount of daily video views on Facebook doubled from 4 billion to 8 billion.
  • Videos used in emails lead to 200 – 300% increase in click through rates
  • YouTube reports that mobile video consumption rises 100% EVERY year.
  • After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy the product they just watched about.

But enough about that. We know we need to do it, but there are several reasons holding most entrepreneurs back.

They don’t know what to talk about. They think it is hard. They think they don’t have time. They don’t know how to begin.

It is time to change that way of thinking. So I have put together a series of articles that will give you the information you need to start chipping away at this beast one step at a time. I have broken this down into three digestible parts so hopefully you won’t feel overwhelmed.

Today we are focusing on Part 1: What do I talk about in my videos?

Think of videos the same as a blog. Brainstorm relevant topics that your customers or clients want to learn more about. Every video should be educating your audience somehow on either how you can help, or giving valuable answers that will help them accomplish something, thereby painting you as the expert. Below is a list of topics to get you started:

  1. Instructional Videos
    This one is always helpful and typically the most sought after on YouTube. I know everyone reading this article has looked up a video on YouTube to learn how to do something. It is the same with what you do for a living. Show people various ways you can help them, or they can help themselves, by doing a quick instructional video.
  2. Introduce Your Staff
    The best way to get people to know, like and trust you is to get in front of them. Introductory videos to yourself and your staff will help people feel like they already know you, hence feeling like they are your friend. People like to do business with their friends.
  3. Testimonials Of Happy Customers
    EVERYONE reads the reviews on something, so why not put a review in video form? Ask one of your raving fans to let you record them giving a testimonial.
  4. New product announcements
    If your business is constantly getting in new merchandise, stop and take a quick 30 second video about the latest and greatest product available at your store! This works great for restaurants too!
  5. Question & Answer Videos
    This one is super easy. It is just you, sitting in front of the camera, answering commonly asked questions. End each of those videos by giving your viewers opportunities to contact you with more questions. This not only helps your viewers, but it really establishes you as the category authority.

My suggestions is to not jump into something that will overwhelm you. Start with doing a quick video once a week. You can either film four videos in one sitting and release them once a week, or you can make the time to sit in front of the camera weekly. Either way, you are delivering great content on a weekly basis that your followers will come to love and expect. The key here is consistency. Decide how often you will do it and stick to it. I promise – the results you will get will be worth it.

So now that a HUGE piece of what holds people back (the whole, “what do I talk about thing”) is out of the way, the next article in my series will be the next big stumbling block: equipment. I will go over simple ways to get you started – that you probably already own.

Are you feeling better about taking on video? If not, give me a shout and we will figure this out together. 

Three Fears Entrepreneurs Must Overcome

fears entrepreneurs must overcomeWhen I first started my coaching business almost eight years ago, I have to admit I was crazy scared. Even though I had been running a successful company for the past seven years with my husband, I had my fears and doubts about being as successful with this new branch to our company. Every entrepreneur has doubts and reservations, but what makes a successful one is the one that has the ability to not let the fear prevent him or her from pushing forward. Having been coaching entrepreneurs for the past eight years, I am seeing a trend of the types of fear that tend to hold people back, thus preventing growth and success.

Fear Of Change

I know what it is like to not want to change anything out of fear that something will not work, and thus cost you money. But change is inevitable. You have to roll with it. Let’s take technology for example. The world is moving at such a rapid pace, it is imperative that you move with it so you can remain competitive. Don’t let your website become stagnant and outdated. Invest in your technology infrastructure so it is easy to do business with your target market. Learn the best platform of social media so you can speak directly to your audience and form relationships. All of these things can be frightening. I have seen many a business not want to change their website or infrastructure because they are afraid of possible hiccups. Let me be clear – if you don’t stay up to date, your customers or clients will find someone that is.

Fear Of What Other People Think

This has happened to me multiple times over the years. Let’s take my website for example. I have never really been a fan of my website. I always put together what I thought was the “proper” business site that would attract my target market. Boy, was I wrong. I was stifling my creativity and my personality. And I did it repeatedly. I thought if I did what I wanted, I would scare off would-be clients. I was completely wrong. I finally stopped caring that I was going to upset someone and embraced what I teach my coaching clients: THE RED VELVET ROPE POLICY. RVR, in an extreme nutshell, means you only work with the clients that energize and inspire you, and motivate you to do your very best work. So I changed my website – from top to bottom. I put together a site that I feel will attract the people I am meant to serve. And I could not be more excited about. But it took guts. It took getting over the fear of what other people will think when they see my website for the first time. Some people may not like it at all – and that is OK! I am clearly not meant to work with them. AND THAT IS OK! You are never going to please absolutely everyone, so stop holding back something you are wanting to do out of that fear.

Fear Of Growth

This is a big stumbling block I see with business owners. They want to grow, but are afraid of what comes along with growth. With growth comes greater responsibility, new systems to learn, new employees, new processes and new challenges. It is easy to sit back and maintain the status quo – but that will never get you anywhere. My advice is that you assemble your very own “Business Dream Team.” If you are taking on growth, you need a team. Schedule appointments to talk with your banker, accountant, tech person, whomever you need, and formulate a plan to move forward. Most importantly – have someone hold you accountable to get it done. That is where I see most business owners mess up. They have big plans, know all the numbers, but get side tracked by life or FEAR and never accomplish their goal. Don’t let fear hold you back. If you need help, get help. You can do it.

I spent a lot of years being fearful and trust me – ain’t nobody got time for that! Embrace your fear head on. Maybe you will mess up. That is okay. At least you have learned what not to do. Don’t let your fear of what could happen – make nothing happen.

Do You Have A Business State Of The Union?

business state of the unionStarting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a “Business State of the Union.” Our company had been growing since its inception in 1997, and with the way technology was changing all the time I felt I needed to have everything in one place. I needed to have information available to me or to my husband if something were to happen to either one of us.  Articles have been written that touch on pieces of what was going through my mind. In fact, there was an article from the NY Daily News about having a social media will.

But it is not just about social media. Think about your entire business. The infrastructure, the access, the passwords, the chain of command. What happens to all of that if something unexpectedly happens to you?  Who has access? Where are the passwords?

Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. So let’s go through the basics of what you need to do in order to set up your own personal SOTU.

Step One: Collect all the data.

  1. Business Systems – what technology do you have in place that is a vital part to running your business? Is it a specific software or database? Who has access? Where are the passwords? Does someone else understand how it works?
  2. Social Media –  As it stands, Facebook will not give you access to your loved one’s account when they pass. They will “memorialize the account” so only confirmed friends can see and still post. Now for most people this may not be that big of a deal, but what if you have a lot of Facebook Ads tied to this account? Pictures? You cannot access this without the name and login.  There are types of legislation the will assist in certain cases, but why not avoid it altogether and have your login and password accessible to the person that will need it? This of course also applies to Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, you name it. Gather your logins and passwords to all the social media sites you frequent and list them on your SOTU.
  3. Email – Where is it hosted? What are the passwords? Do you have access to all of the machines, such as home or work laptops, phones, iPads, etc.  where you can log on to the email?
  4. Websites – Again, where is it hosted? What are the logins and passwords? How many domain names do you own, and when do they expire? Where did you register them? This is especially true if your livelihood is tied to your brand and website.
  5. Internet/Back Ups – Gather your logins and passwords to deal with our internet account. Do you know your wireless network password? Do you have a guest account with a password? Do you have a Time Capsule or other back up hard drive that is password protected? You need to know what these are!
  6. Cell Phone Accounts – Again, having access to logins, passwords, and plan information is vital. It is extremely rare that anyone has a land line any more, so you need to be able to get on the carrier’s website and adjust whatever is necessary.
  7. iCloud/iTunes – Apple is typically very helpful in retrieving someone’s music if they have passed, but if you have access to these accounts and can relieve a lot of extra work and aggravation.

I could go on and on with the list of different programs, products, services like PayPal, Amazon and various people like lawyers and insurance agents, but you get the idea.

Step 2: Where To Store It

Now that you have all of this technical data in one place, what do you do with it? First, I recommend using an encrypted system to store all of your vital passwords. We use and recommend Passpack. Passpack.com is a password management system that will allow you to manage and organize your passwords, create accounts for family members or team members, and it is all encrypted and secure.

Next, it is time to create the official SOTU: a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that lists the physical location as to where to find your important documents, such as wills, life insurance policies, bank accounts and so on, and then also include your Passpack account information. This document can be as simple or as thorough as you want it to be. Then you find a place to put it.

My husband and I have placed our SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to us both, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a hand written copy that I keep with the wills in a safety deposit box – just because I am anal like that.

Step 3: Update on an annual basis.

For us, that just happens to be every August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes us less than an hour to go over any changes to passwords, business systems, bank accounts, etc. Just a small amount of time can really save you a lot of grief and struggle in the long run.

The SOTU is very personal since everyone utilizes technology and social media in different ways. Honestly – you don’t need to be a business owner to have one. Everyone should. Get your info together and then pick a person in charge.

So how many of you have a SOTU? Am I the only one? Did I get your wheels spinning? What are your thoughts?

Six Tips For Business Owners To Survive The Summer

woman-working-poolside-ss-1920-800x533School is out. The pool is open. It is a beautiful day. But you have to still run your business. And you still have to make money. I find the summer time distractions are the hardest ones to overcome as an entrepreneur. What is a girl to do when all you want to do is sit poolside with your fruity beverage? How do you stay focused? So I came up with a list of tips last year that I found helped me. I have since learned more and wanted to share them with you!

1. Adjust Your Schedule
One of the main reasons most of us became our own boss is to have the ability to make our own schedule. When I coach clients however, I often see them still adhering to the 9-5 that they left. I, myself, have fallen victim to the guilt if I am not pulling the eight hour day during a specific time. Let me let you in on a little secret: you can work during hours other than 9-5. Shhh…..

Seriously though. Maybe you get up earlier in the day and work a few hours, take breaks for the kids, and then work some more. Maybe you work in the morning and the evening, but take the afternoon off. What I typically do is put the summer schedule into the calendar, and then book my appointments and times I need to be in the office around it. There are more hours in the day than just 9-5, so use them!

2. Make A To-Do List
I am a HUGE fan of lists. Lists help me stay focused on my tasks. They help me remember every detail. They hold me accountable to the things I know I HAVE to get done. There is something about seeing it on the list that really motivates me to get it done so I can do the best part: CROSSING IT OFF! I know we have a lot of ways to keep lists, but there is something so empowering about physically crossing off an item on your list. I feel such a sense of accomplishment when I do it. It also serves as a reward! I got everything pertinent on the list done, now I can be poolside!

3. Take A Look At Your Technology
So you want to take a break but you are still waiting on that ever important email. With all of the technology available to us today, you can make your office mobile any time you wish. But you have to have the right technology in place to do it.  Take a look at your smart phone, is it up to the task? If not, now would be a great time to upgrade.

How are you saving your documents? Do you utilize cloud based services like Dropbox to access your documents from anywhere? Cloud based systems are often free or low cost so you don’t have to be beholden to your desktop or laptop. Just access them from your smart phone or iPad and move on.

Verify/beef up your wireless network to make sure you can reach it outside your house to where you want to be. If you need to, hire a technology expert to come set up your home office so you can be anywhere on your property and still have the ability to get online without any issues. Then you can be poolside without worry. Trust me, it is worth it.

4. Take A Class
Sometimes, a little knowledge will go a long way. I find that taking an online class or webinar that will teach me something renews my goals and helps me focus on my vision. Clients definitely will be thrilled that you are staying current with your craft. Knowledge is power. Another reason this one works well is that a lot of entrepreneurs experience a slow down in business due to clients being out of town. So take advantage of the time and sign up for a class and learn something new. It will motivate you to stay on target, and who knows? Whatever it is you learn will help you make additions to your current offerings which equals more money! Who wouldn’t want to make more money?

5. Friday Fun Day
Don’t underestimate the ability to just take a moment and enjoy what life has to offer. Friday Fun Day is what we call it in my house. Every Friday, I try to schedule something fun for the kids and I to do. It means if I get my work done, I can have a reward. Friday Fun Day means a well deserved break, even if I just can’t make poolside happen during the week. I try to mix up what we do with fun outings or some sort of fun activity at home if the weather is not cooperating.

6. Get An Accountability Partner
I have talked about this many times, but it is especially important when you have extra distractions going on. You can adjust your schedule, make to-do lists, examine technology and take classes all you want – if you actually DO THEM. Big ideas are great – but the success lies in the EXECUTION. An accountability partner makes sure you stick to your goals and helps you to have skin in the game. I have one – you should too. I would be happy to help you as well.

I would love to hear some of your tips. What gets you motivated in the summer? What helps you stay on task so you can take some time off and enjoy the weather? Post your thoughts in the comments below! Happy Summer everyone!

4 Blogs I Read Every Week That Help Me Run My Business

blogs I read every weekThere are multiple blogs I read EVERY week. It is no secret that every entrepreneur must stay on top of their game and keep researching and reading to learn more about what they do and how they can help their clients and customers. Thank goodness for the Internet! I can’t imagine running a business without the ability to get a hold of so much information that can help me when I am struggling with a problem, wanting to learn something new or trying to spread my message to the world. I imagine it is the same for you. Of course, since the Internet is so HUGE – where do you begin?

There are a million different blogs out there all giving wonderful information. Below is my list of some of the blogs that I read weekly that help me put the pieces together of running my company – and I hope you enjoy them as well.

  1. Mari Smith
    For those of you that may not know, Mari is THE Facebook Marketing Expert. She has written several books, is incredibly active on all forms of social media, and I personally have heard her speak on numerous occasions both in person and online. She is a giver. She is constantly showing you tips and tricks on how to make the most of your Facebook marketing platform. If you visit her blog, you will find that she is almost always promoting a webinar or training course that covers various topics revolving around Facebook. Some are free and some you pay for. She also has a really cool “Inner Circle” private Facebook group that you can be a part of if you sign up for one of her programs that puts you in touch with people from all over the world that are trying to learn just like you. There is power in putting your minds together with other entrepreneurs, and I, myself, have asked several questions in that group and have been helped out by total strangers from somewhere in the world. It is a wonderful community. She also has an email that goes out every single Friday that spotlights her top three picks of articles that she thought shared valuable content – and they are NOT articles she wrote. She is constantly learning herself and is happy to share the good stuff when she finds it. If you are not on her list, you should be. Go to her website and sign up!

  2. ProBlogger/Darren Rowse
    I have been receiving Darren’s emails for a long time now. Creating your own blog and content is so important, and it can become very daunting when you have no idea what you are doing. There is so much more to it than just sitting down and writing. Darren not only holds classes to help you learn to be a better blogger, but he continues to share what else he finds on the Internet the way Mari does. He has frequent posts he calls his “Reading Roundup: What’s New in Blogging Lately” that are extremely helpful. His blog is constantly focused on giving you different tools to make your blog better such as commenting system tools, content creation, how to get paid for your blog and a great topic generator tool (which may or may not have been used to come up with this topic. Not going to lie.)  He has really taught me a lot about blogging and is another one I suggest you follow. Click here to join his newsletter.

  3. Yoast
    As a blogger, you HAVE to know how to make the most out of each and every post by optimizing your blog. Yoast is a company that created a plugin to be installed on WordPress websites that helps you optimize your website pages, as well as your blog posts. The beauty of this company is that they are also givers. They have written numerous eBooks on how to set up a great website, how to optimize it, content SEO assistance, analytics and more. They have an email newsletter that is always full of helpful tips, as well as an “Ask Yoast” section on their website where you can even talk to their people in more detail about your specific issue. So, yes, they are in the market to sell you their plugin, but they are doing it right by providing you with a TON of extras to show you that they are the best when it comes to website optimization. Check them out here. If you don’t have a WordPress site – I know a company that can help with that too!

  4. Beth Hayden
    I first got introduced to Beth through a mutual friend when she wrote Pinfluence: The Complete Guide To Marketing Your Business With Pinterest. I love this book. I highly recommend it to anyone out there whose target market is on Pinterest and you need to learn how to reach them. What I quickly came to discover is that Beth is also a wealth of information when it comes to blogging, content generation, and list building. She even has a page on her website dedicated to the resources and tools she uses herself in order to run her online business. Once again – a giver! Are you seeing a pattern here? I encourage you to join her list building challenge. This is a great challenge designed to hold you accountable with increasing your subscribers, and therefore your reach, which will lead to more business.

There are definitely more, but these four will get you well on your way of gaining knowledge from industry experts that have certainly helped me along the way.

Speaking of giving…how about you give some of your favorite blogs or or podcasts that help you grow your business! Post your favorites in the comments!