Posts Tagged ‘blogs business owners should read’

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.**

Quick & Actionable SEO Tips That Are HUGE

SEO TipsAs you know, I am a big fan of collaborating with other authors to bring my readers valuable content that will help them build their business. Today’s guest post is from Wendy Dessler. Wendy is a super-connector who helps businesses find their audience online through outreach, partnerships, and networking. She frequently writes about the latest advancements in digital marketing and focuses her efforts on developing customized blogger outreach plans depending on the industry and competition. Here are some of Wendy’s thoughts on some quick and actionable SEO tips that will help improve your visibility!

Cover All Your Bases

There is more to online content optimization which utilizes search engines than its simple creation. You want content that is the right length, that has been properly structured such that it is visually appealing, that concerns topics about which target markets seek information, and includes useful data.

You want your content to have links which go to your site, as well as other resources that don’t compete with yours, but which may simultaneously assist your clientele. Pictures are a great idea, so are video links and clips if you have the ability to include them.

Something else you want to do is include anchor text as well as keywords. The two differ but slightly: keywords need not necessarily have anything that links beyond the content being read. Keywords are sort of an “anchor point”, if you will, for a search engine. Meanwhile “anchor texts” are anchor points for the reader.

The right anchor text will be amenable to search engine algorithms, and will lead clientele directly to your home website. But if you don’t choose the right anchor texts, you’re wasting your time. According to Linkio, “A tool should automatically filter out links that don’t matter.” The right kind of anchor text selection tool will give you the best possible choice to build your article around.

The SEO Behind The Scenes

Something else you’ve got to consider when it comes to marketing online is the coding which hides behind the scenes. There’s a thing called “meta tagging”. Basically, this is a fancy way of referring to HTML code which hides behind “the veil”, as it were, of your site’s interface.

In HTML code, the way you title things will make a difference to search engines where a query might be entered in. It can be complicated to properly optimize meta tags, but this is a core tenet of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) protocol.

Something else that is core to SEO is the continued production of content. If you want to be absolutely sure that your online marketing campaigns lead to the results you seek, then you want continuous creation. Ideally, you want content pieces that are at least 500 words. It turns out that longer content actually tends to be more effective.

If you’ve got content of this length, you want about fifty original pieces produced monthly. That comes to a minimum of 25,000 words. Over the course of a year, that comes to about 300,000 words of content. That’s quite a lot! It’s doable internally, but if you’re not doing it right, you could be doing a lot of work in vain.

Guest Blogging And Professional Assistance

Something you can do to bolster the effect of your online content is to utilize guest blogs and to repost content that is relevant. For reposting purposes, you should strive to design content that has an evergreen quality which can be continuously reposted. In terms of technology this may be difficult, but it’s not impossible.

For example, new tech requires new writing; but that which concerns trends—like Moore’s Law—can be evergreen. If you’re unfamiliar, Moore’s Law predicates that computational ability doubles on itself at regular intervals.

Getting The Help You Need

It’s easy to see why working with the right developer of online content makes sense. There are many variables to consider, and while it’s certainly possible that you’ll get the hang of it eventually, it’s unlikely you’ll retain “cutting edge” affiliation with trends as they develop; and the learning curve with content can take years to master if you don’t know what you’re doing.

That said, content marketing using SEO and other techniques which utilize the web can be exceptionally effective. If you have yet to look into this, you should. If you have already, it makes sense to work with professional purveyors in order to see the greatest return on the most minimal investment. Remember: time is money—if you’re wasting hours on something that’s futile, you’re wasting money. Professional solutions will help you avoid this.

5 Ways To Get Blog Topic Ideas

When I am coaching my clients on marketing their businesses online, the one thing that they voice the most frustration over is coming up with blog topic ideas. They are constantly coming up with reasons why they cannot think of any topics. I realize this is hard, and often struggle with the same problem. But blogging is VERY important. Did you know that nine out of 10 companies now sue some form of content marketing to attract leads. It is no surprise. Even Facebook’s recent algorithm changes are pushing businesses to focus on quality content.

Not only does quality content help with your social media, it helps your Search Engine Optimization (SEO), AND it establishes you as the category authority in your business or field. If you are blogging constantly, people will remember that you are the go-to person on that subject when they need to hire someone. It also establishes great relationships and builds your tribe.

But enough about why – we all know we need to do it. But what do you do when you are stuck? I recently came across a great article that highlighted eight different blog topic generators for blog post ideas. I looked through all of them and picked out my favorites below, but I encourage you to read the entire article because it was very informative and helpful.

1. HubSpot’s Blog Topic Generator

HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!

 

blog topic ideas

I put in networking, online and offline. Check out the topics they gave me! I will definitely be using this tool again. How easy was this?

blog topic ideas

 

 

2. Portent’s Content Idea Generator

If the thought of three words is more than you can handle, then Portent’s Content Idea Generator is for you. It DOES NOT get any more simple than this. You only have to enter one keyword and then let her rip. This one is actually a little more entertaining since it gives jokes along with the titles. I entered the word “blogging” and this is what it gave me:

blog topic ideas

As with before, if you don’t like what they first suggest, you can enter the same word again and give it another try. Don’t be afraid to try similar words.

 

3. Link Bait Title Generator

Link Bait Title Generator is not flashy at all but gives the most topic ideas in one sitting that I have seen. It gives titles and ideas that focus the gamete of informative, controversial, or just plain fun to read suggestions. I simply entered “blogging” and look what I got. My screen shot could not even fit all the suggestions!

blog topic ideas

What’s else is helpful with this tool is if you click on their logo, you will be taken to other tools that will help with the content portion like the Hashtag Finder option. This will help you find an already current and trending hashtag to put in your posts that will help with your SEO and share-ability on social media.

 

4. Buzzsumo

This is for the people that are wanting to dive in a little deeper. If you are wanting to see what your competition is doing, or what the most popular existing articles are on the topic you want to write about, you can use the Buzzsumo tool. You can enter in your topic and it will tell you what is getting the most attention: like how many Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and Google+ shares. You can also play around with the filters on the side to get more specific information on your topic. This is really helpful if what you are blogging about is in a crowded space and you want to stand out with your article. Below I am showing what I got when I entered: blogging ideas for small businesses.

blog topic ideas

 

 

5. Ubersuggest

This one will find a ton of possible keywords or phrases fro your next blog post. You simply type in your topic or some keywords that pertain to your industry and off you go! It is a free tool from the Neil Patel group. I suggest checking out their website. They also have some free tools you can use for SEO and a cool A/B testing calculator.

blog topic ideas

 

Final Thoughts On Blogging

Don’t drag your feet coming up with ideas. We are already in February! Make your blogging calendar today. It is so much easier to sit down and write about something when you know what your topic is rather that have to figure that out first before you even start the writing process. Yes, planning takes some time but you will be so happy when it is all finished and then you simply produce the article. Need help? That is why I am here! Contact me about sitting down and getting your 2018 Marketing Calendar all set during a 90 Day Plan session. We can also discuss my DONE FOR YOU Program!

7 Steps For Building An Audience-Focused Marketing Strategy For 2018

marketing strategy for 2018Every business should be working on their audience-focused marketing strategy for 2018 if they have not done so already. Gone are the days when you just relied on spitting out some information pertaining to your industry filled with keywords you think that people are using during their searches. You must up your game if you are going to reach your audience in a meaningful way, and then convert them into sales. So let’s start at the beginning:

Who Is Your Target Market?

Specifically. The more specific the better. Then ask yourself, “What is their woe? What is their pain point?” Typically your target market has urgent needs –  things they are trying to move away from. They will have compelling desires – things they are trying to move toward. Now take that information and tell them the #1 biggest result that you provide that will address these issues and partner it with the benefits that it will give them.

Set Your Goals

Start at the end and work your way backwards. Do you want to increase leads? Is there a specific dollar amount you have in mind as it pertains to sales? Are you wanting to increase YouTube followers, blog subscribers, social media followers? Once you know what it is you want, this will allow you to create better quality content that has a more specific call-to-action, thus helping you achieve these goals.

Develop A List of Potential Topics Your Target Market Is Interested In

Brainstorm time. Once you dive in and figure out their urgent needs and compelling desires, it should be easy to come up with a list of topics that you know your audience cares about. A great tool that can help you is HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator. This handy tool wants you to enter three different nouns and then it will come back to you with five different topics that will get your mind working. The best part, you can enter the same three nouns again and hit enter and will give you five more ideas if you don’t like the first round!

Do A Keyword Search

Yes, this is still important. People are still using search phrases to find you. But again, do go it alone. A great free tool to use is Ubersuggest.io. Just type in your keyword and this handy tool gives a ton of ideas to choose from.

Create A Calendar So It Makes Sense

What I mean by this is that certain topics may make more sense depending on the time of year you are sharing them. This post, for example, would not make as much sense if I had ran it in May. HubSpot offers free editorial calendar templates for you to use. You can also go extra simple and just open a spreadsheet. Don’t make your life any harder than it needs to be.

Get It Done

You’ve got your topics, you’ve got your keywords, and you’ve got your timeframe. Now sit down and write! Not a writer? Hire one. Seriously, stop dragging your feet and stop whining about it. Don’t waste time on something that is not your strong suit. Share your research with a great copywriter and spend your time elsewhere. Don’t let the writing part hold you up.

Track Your Success

I wrote an entire article on this topic called, If You Don’t Track, You Don’t Have Jack. If you are not testing and measuring, or paying attention to what is resonating with your audience, then everything you are doing here is just a complete waste of time.

Diligently working on an audience-focused marketing strategy will not only help you convert people into customers, it also helps your SEO since you are providing quality content out there on the internet. So this is a win win. Get started – because there is still time. 2017 isn’t over yet! If you need help – I am happy to help you! 

 

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?

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?

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!