Posts Tagged ‘accountability’

Time To Face What Isn’t Working

Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. — Aldous Huxley

face what isn't workingIf you are going to become more successful – you have to face what isn’t working in your business. Over the years, I have coached a lot of entrepreneurs and the one thing that is consistent with all of them: DENIAL. They are stuck, they don’t know how to grow, but when you dig deeper you find they are just in denial of what they already know to be true – something they are doing is just plain not working. But instead of dealing with it, they are in denial over it. They think if they keep their head down and keep pushing forward everything will turn out fine. This couldn’t be further from the truth. So let’s break it down.

Fear

“Doing more of what doesn’t work won’t make it work any better” — Charles Givens

A big piece of denial is, in a word, fear. It is based on the notion that something even worse than the current situation not working will happen once they stop doing what they are doing and take action to fix it. Change can be scary and very difficult, but the definition of insanity is to keep doing what you always do and expect a different result. It takes courage to look at your situation and truly assess what worked and what didn’t and then make the proper changes. Just because you were taught or told to do something a certain way does not necessarily mean it will work. You have to get over the fear – you have to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. (This was a major piece of advice my coach and mentor told me ten years ago.) The good news is, the more you face uncomfortable situations and deal with them, the better you get at it. Then being uncomfortable just becomes part of your life as you grow more successful.

Analysis Paralysis

Shit or get off the pot. –Emil Rombach

Okay, so we know we need to change. The next thing I see once people accept that something needs to change is what I call analysis paralysis. They start looking at different ways they can be doing things and then get overwhelmed with all the options. This freaks them out, which leads back to fear, which leads back to not facing what is not working. The world is full of flat squirrels who couldn’t make up their mind to cross the street.

Stop it.

If you have done your homework, and looked at the numbers, whatever it is cannot possibly be that bad. So what if trying something new doesn’t work? At least you learned what doesn’t work – you faced what wasn’t working and tried something else. Now you know two things that don’t work. However – what if it does? It could be the best thing for your business but you are too stuck analyzing to death every detail and hesitating to pull the trigger to find out. Get over it. Make a decision.

Okay – we need to face what is not working. So what do we do now?

Commit To Take Action

There is a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses, only results. — Ken Blanchard

Make a list of what is and what is not working. Ask your staff or your team members what their opinion is. Gather your information. How can you improve? What action steps do I need to take in order to make this change? Once that happens – you have to be 100% committed to those action steps. See it through.

Get Help If You Need It

Because so often when we say we’re unqualified for something, what we’re really saying is that we’re too scared to try it, not that we can’t do it. — Jen Sincero

Another part of fear is fear of the unknown. But you have to move past that fear. If you don’t know how to do something to change your situation, then ask for help. Call a business coach, hire an accountability partner or other professional who does this every day. Enlist in a class that will teach you how to do it. Attend a training – whatever it takes. I guarantee there are tons of training programs online that can assist you in whatever you need to learn if you are wanting to do this yourself. But remember: DELEGATE is NOT a dirty word. If someone else doing what needs to be done gets the ball rolling – then for heaven’s sake hire them. Stay focused on YOUR core genius – what you like to do – and let someone else handle what you don’t want to do.

Yes, it is true it takes a lot of courage and a big leap of faith to face what isn’t working. So tell me – when is the last time you faced what wasn’t working? What action steps did you take to get past it? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.

 

 

Video – Why It Is One Of The Most Effective Forms of Marketing Your Business

I recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company.  Every year – heck every month – 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.video marketing

Facebook Live videos continue to be a game changer,  that include adjustments to make the videos shot vertically look better on mobile devices, the 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. Instagram TV is now becoming a game changer as well.

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.
  4. Answer emails with a video message. I recently tried this out to a prospective client. I had left phone calls and emails to schedule a meeting and heard nothing. Then I recorded a video and sent that back to their email. They called me back!

Video is the next best thing to being there in person. If you can show up in the flesh, do it on video. It makes a bigger impact than just an email or a text. I am currently in the middle of “post a video a day for the whole month of August” challenge. It is definitely challenging, and although I have missed a couple of days here and there, for the most part I am getting it done. It has been a huge success. I am hearing more from people now than I have all summer long. It is amazing what the power of your face can do!

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. Using video to market your business is definitely not going away 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.

 

Does Your Business Have A State Of The Union – 2018

business state of the unionStarting in 2009, I took it upon myself to develop a Business State of the Union. My company had been growing since its inception in 2008, 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 someone I trusted in case something were to happen to me.  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. I am on my 10th year of doing so, and remind everyone annually at this time. 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? A common one that comes to mind is Quickbooks. But this can also include any type of industry software that helps you run your business.
  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. I 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.

Last year I even placed everything “in order of importance” to the best of my ability, just to make it easier on my executor. I have placed my SOTU onto Dropbox, which is not only accessible to me and my executor, but makes it easy to update the information. I also have a printed 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 me, that just happens to be every July or August. Set a date on your calendar – one that you will stick to. It only takes me 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. I make all of my Accountability Program clients do this.

So consider this your annual reminder! 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

survive the summerSchool 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! A way to do this online is to use Trello. Big fan of this one too.

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.

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!

8 Effective Strategies for Beating the Business Blues

Recently, I was  featured on The Executive Blog as a contributor to the article, 37 High-Converting Sales Tips Straight Form The Experts. It was an honor working with Jimmy Rodela, so we collaborated on another set of useful tips for the business owner: strategies for beating the business blues. I find this to be very timely – especially with the weather getting nicer. Makes it hard to stay focused! Let us know what you think!

As much as many of us would hate it, sooner or later, we all find ourselves in a rut — whether you’re going through the same day-to-day tasks grudgingly, or running low on inspiration — it’s only human for us to feel this.

And so the question becomes, “What do you do in these situations?”

Allow me to share with you eight strategies that can help you with beating the business blues.

1. Refresh Your Mindset

A pessimistic viewpoint won’t help much in inspiring a better outlook translating that into poor performance.

Experts tell of several ways to achieve this, through meditation, reading a book or psychological hacks, your renewed perspective will serve to be a good launchpad to run your business better.

2. Take A Walk

When experiencing mental and emotional blocks simply take a break and walk around. Take your work out to new places. This way you might even spot opportunities and inspiration from experiences you haven’t felt before.

3. Get A Pep Talk


Join a seminar or watch videos featuring people from varied industries, gain a fresh perspective on how they tackle similar problems you have.

Sometimes the voice inside your head is your enemy; you have to drown it out with inspiration from outside sources.

4. Revamp Your Workplace

Have you seen the offices of the most famous software giants?

Your office may have turned too bland to produce a happy working environment. Add a bit of color, rearrange desks, throw out clutter, you’ll be amazed how some of these adjustments can change moods.

5. Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff

Try your best not to micromanage, find tasks that you think you can delegate to others.

At times, your problems may not even be caused by the overall nature of your business but may be of the nitty-gritty things.

6. But Relish The Small Wins

Acknowledge that even the smaller wins contribute to the overall betterment of your business.

Did you save up on operations expense? Celebrate it! Did you find an app that can make your business run smoother? That’s another reason to be happy.

7. Identify Your Stress Points

Your daily energy is also a limited commodity.

Learn to identify the other causes of your energy drain, whether relationship problems or health problems, solving these issues first could help boost your mood in the office.

8. Streamline Your Time

The other limited commodity is time. Pinpoint what the industry calls organizational drag, wherein the company identifies the non-essential things in the company spends time on.

You need to be proactive about getting yourself out of your business blues. These strategies will help you first pinpoint the cause of your blues and find ways to solve it.

So, get moving. Put these points into action as WHEN you take your first steps is crucial as what steps you would take.

Have other suggestions or strategies of your own? Do let us know if this article helped you out and sent it to anyone you think may be going through this challenges.

**Jimmy is a freelance writer and the Digital Marketing Manager of EBCallCenter.com. He owns GuildofBloggers.com. He has contributed to Yahoo, SearchEnginePeople, SEMRush, and Business.com.**

Want A Thriving Business? Focus on Three Things

thriving businessWho doesn’t want a thriving business? For the small business owners I coach, there are always three things that I preach that get you to this goal. If you follow these three things, you will achieve success.

The first one is DISCIPLINE.

You and I both know there are certain tasks that must be done daily, weekly or monthly. If you don’t do them, your situation can quickly spin out of control. I understand this can be hard for a solo-preneuer. For myself, I have a schedule that I follow to the letter. Every day, week and month I have a deadline of some sort. And I follow it. I figured out what represented my company the best and I ran with it. For me, this is STILL networking face to face, social media/email blasts and treating the people that know and love me with respect to keep the referrals coming. That is the discipline. But I am a crazy, super Type A individual and actually enjoy this level of organization. I am not not normal.

What do you do if  you have some discipline, but simply not enough hours in the day. I totally get this. It happens. I am no saint, sometimes I am late on the marketing deadlines I set for my company. I hear excuses from my clients and colleagues all the time as to why something is not getting done. Excuses and whining WILL NOT GET YOU THERE. Yes, I said it. STOP WHINING. If you want something bad enough, you will find a way to make it happen. 
(Delegate is not a dirty word people.)

The second one is CONSISTENCY.

All the tasks that I was referring to above require some form of consistency. Rome was not built in a day. You have to have patience and perseverance. Test and measure. Take the time to understand why something did not work and try again. You cannot expect your business to grow if you are one of those people that throws things at the wall and waits to see what will stick. Have a plan, and work the plan over time. Consistency is a big key.

Being disciplined and consistent also means knowing your limitations. No one can do everything. I delegate plenty. If you can’t be the one to get them done – then you have to delegate.

The third one is ACCOUNTABILITY.

In order for a small business to succeed, you need to have someone holding you accountable. This can be a business coach, peers, virtual assistants, etc. who will not only help you accomplish tasks, but push you to the next level.

Want a thriving business? Formulate a plan, name the goal you are trying to accomplish, devise a strategy and timeline to achieve your goal, and determine who is going to do what and when. Then have someone hold your feet to the fire. This type of DISCIPLINE, partnered with CONSISTENCY and ACCOUNTABILITY is really the secret to any business’ success.

Final thought – don’t get caught up on hiccups. Life is full of hiccups. Roll with it. Don’t let delays, failures, or flat out not knowing how de-rail you. Find someone who can help you. Google it. Do whatever you have to do. Just get back on the horse. I believe in you – you should too.

Who Is Your Accountability Partner?

accountability partnerHow many of you seem to get caught up in daily life and get pulled in a million directions? Before you know it, the day is over and you have not accomplished half of what was on your to-do list? This is is a pretty normal situation for small business owners that don’t have an accountability partner. All it seems to take is one phone call or one email to derail the entire day’s agenda. The to-do list just keeps growing because you put things on the back burner that really need to get done.

But the fact of the matter is you have to get all of those things done. You have  to focus on all the tasks at hand – especially the revenue generating tasks. The ones that have the potential to push the business onward and upward. Often these are the tasks that get pushed back the most. They are usually time consuming, and possibly expensive, and sometimes even scary.

I bet you thought that when you went into business for yourself you would never have to answer to anyone. That is simply not true. There is a reason larger companies have a board of directors or some sort of management – the business needs structure and accountability. There has to be a person, or group of people, to be there to nudge you in the right direction when you are not accomplishing the projects that should be your main focus.

But how does one go about creating an accountability plan or finding an accountability partner? In the past when I am asked to speak for organizations,  I have explained to my audience specifically about forming your own Board of Directors. This is true of any business, not just small ones. However it also does not necessarily need to be a large group. It could be one or two people. However you decide to set it up, you will want to focus on some key elements:

  • Choose someone or a few people who are not afraid to tell you the truth – no matter how painful.
  • Book at the very least a monthly accountability session with them. 
  • Find someone who has strengths where you have weaknesses so they can guide you where you need the most help.
  • Take a look at the systems that run your business. Are they helpful or disruptive and expensive. 
  • Determine what is not your skill set and either learn what you need to become better – or delegate and MOVE ON!
  • Work with them to establish SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely)
  • Establish a DEFINITIVE timeline AND deadline for those goals. 
  • Create fair consequences for not achieving those goals. Punishment is not necessary – but there are ALWAYS consequences.

Accountability is a must have for every small business owner. So get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The longer you run from someone holding you accountable, the longer it will take for you to achieve your goals and put your business in the position you want it to be in.  I, personally, have someone who holds me accountable because I practice what I preach. I also provide accountability services for my clients.

As entrepreneurs, the end of the year or the beginning of the year is typically the time you re-evalutate what is working and what is not. You think of trying something new and you get excited about new prospects, or say good-bye to what didn’t quite work out the way that you wanted. If you are like me, you probably have a million ideas in your head about what to do next and can get what is commonly called “analyzation paralyzation.”  Don’t let this happen to you. Call me today so we can get you on the road to achieving your goals.

 

How To Prepare Blog and Marketing Content For 2018

marketing content for 2018My mind has already been on 2018. What did I learn this year? What can I do better? What did my marketing efforts of 2017 actually accomplish? I ask myself, and my clients, all of these questions as I sit down to prepare what I plan to take on for my marketing content for 2018.

First step: Get your calendar ready. I prefer to keep things simple. I have a very simple spreadsheet that outlines the twelve months of the year and I brainstorm different events or anniversaries that make sense for me to comment on.  It is basically a “big picture” approach about the kind of content I feel would be relevant to my readers and clients. I take that information and formulate the various blog posts I want to write about that make sense with certain times of year. I am always open to move topics around to adjust to current events and moments in time that have events where the need for a little shuffling is in order. Always remain flexible and have the ability to capitalize on current events.

If you are not into spreadsheets or documents, another great place to organize your calendar is on Trello. I have mentioned Trello in the past. It is a FABULOUS online tool that multiple people can log onto and all of your team members can brainstorm content for the following year. This is a great one if you have a team, or if you want to share it with your business coach. **hint hint***

A lot of my clients – and other business owners – like to put their topics and ideas on their actual calendar. Having your due dates in front of you when you can glance at it and prepare for it weeks in advance allows you to prepare for it so you are not running around at the eleventh hour trying to meet a deadline.  You can either color code your online calendar, but quite often it is even very useful to do it the old fashioned way – with post its and stickers! Below is a the folks at CoSchedule who make a WordPress plugin for an editorial calendar, and they are still using sticky notes! Whatever works for you – do it!

But what does one do when they sit down to a calendar and come up with nothing but a blank piece of paper? One resource is from Authority Hacker entitled 13 Creative Ways To Find Blog Post Ideas.

Another list I will highlight my favorites from is a great resource called CopyBlogger, and their article “50 Can’t Fail Techniques for finding Great Blog Topics” but make sure you click here for a the full list.

1. Google alerts – setting an alert with some of your industry’s key words. This can give you an endless supply.

2. Riff on a popular post. Post your reaction and thoughts to a popular blogger’s thoughts and a hot topic and you can gain some power packed link benefit!

3. Try a new medium. Check out YouTube videos, podcasts, or one of MY personal favorites: watch some TV for inspiration. Shark Tank is one of my favorites!

4. Do an interview. Do you have a favorite person you like to follow online or connect with at networking groups? The answer is no unless you ask them for an interview! I am sure they won’t mind the free publicity!

5. Take an entire day off.  I love this one. Recharge your brain for a whole day by doing something you love. Go focus on your hobby and enjoy yourself. Giving your brain a break may be just what you need!

6. Do a product review. Is there something in your business you use every day that you just LOVE? Write about it and spread the love with your readers! My husband, who runs an IT company, does a great post every December on his picks for  Holiday Technology Toys as an example.

7. Recruit a guest. When all else fails, call for back up and schedule a post of someone you respect that you can feature on your blog. Make sure their content is what your readers are looking for and it makes sense with the overall feel of your blog. But don’t get lazy and rely on them every month!

Lastly, you will want to set some sort of alert and an accountability system in place so this task actually gets completed. If alarms work for you, wonderful. If you need an accountability partner to make sure it gets done, then set that up. You will be amazed how much you get done when someone else is watching!

So I want to hear from you! What is your preferred calendar method and where do you get most of your blog topics?

Using QR Codes to Market Your Business Is Now Easier

For those of you that need your memory jogged, a QR code (Quick Response Code) is a type of barcode or label that contains information about what it is attached to. QR Codes have been around since the 90’s, but have never really taken off in the United States. Up until now, it was perceived as a bit of a pain to use them since it required a third party app to scan them. Most people will not take the time to open a separate app to scan a code. I am completely guilty of this. I know, how lazy is that, right? Well now you don’t have to any more thanks to Apple.

With the release of their new iOS 11, you can now use your built-in iPhone camera app to scan a QR code, which will take you directly to where the QR code wants you to go – no more third party app required! Given how popular iPhones are, this suddenly makes the use of QR codes much more feasible for companies looking to share information with mobile phone users.

So this begs the question: will more companies now start taking advantage of the technology of the QR code? I certainly think they should! So here are some suggestions that business owners can use to utilize QR codes to market their business or products.

  1. Direct Mail Piece. It is so hard to squeeze all the info you want onto a postcard or brochure, isn’t it? Instead, you can put a fancy QR code on that piece that will give your target market all the information they need without the restrictions of space. Simply put the QR code on the postcard with a few nuggets and a call to action and you are good to go.
  2. Utilize Video. Have your QR code take them to a video on your website that is either informational or instructional. Everyone loves video and a quick “how to.” Or, if you are trying to promote a product or an event, this is the perfect way to do it. Have the QR code open to a video with you personally inviting them.
  3. Promotional items. I have seen where companies put QR codes on their promo items. Maybe consider a t-shirt or mug or something that has plenty of space to display it. Then that will take them to your website where they can learn more about you!

Not sure how to make a QR code? No problem. QR Stuff is a great resource. You can also create custom QR codes that are more eye catching and match your logo as well.

Two quick things to mention. If you are going to utilize QR codes, make sure they have an email capture form so you can get their information. They are obviously tech savvy, so you want to grab their email so you can keep in touch. Also, wherever the QR code is sending them MUST be mobile friendly. Nothing is worse than not being able to read or see the content on your mobile device. Over 90% of information consumed is on a mobile device, so make it a pleasant experience. If you need help with any of these things, don’t hesitate to ask!

So, does this new technology have you wanting to give QR codes another try? What do you think? Leave me a message in the comments!

 

Does Your Business Have A 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. I am on my 8th year of doing so, and remind everyone annually at this time. 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? A common one that comes to mind is Quickbooks.
  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.

Last year I even placed everything “in order of importance” to the best of my ability, just to make it easier on my executor.

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 printed 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?