Posts Tagged ‘technology’

It Takes A Team To Grow A Business

Growing a business takes a village – for every business owner. There simply are not enough hours in the day. Everything needs to be done, and it is so easy to let life get in the way and allow things to get put on the back burner. No matter what stage you are at in your business,  money can be tight and your schedule can be even tighter so you find yourself burning the midnight oil to try to get it all done. After all, if someone else is doing it, it will cost you money, right?

Well, sometimes yes, and sometimes no, and sometimes not as much as you think.

So with that in mind, here are my tips on trying to figure out what to delegate and what to handle yourself.

1. Make A List Of What Needs To Be Done

Sit down and write all the tasks that need to be done – in your business and in your home – from Accounting to Yardwork. I mean list everything. Even if you think it is a small detail, put it on the list. I found a helpful list online of tasks you can delegate. This list may help you get the wheels turning of all the tasks you need to do if you are having trouble – which I doubt!

2. Pick The Activities That You Like To Do

This one seems silly, but it is very important. The tasks that you actually enjoy doing are more likely to get done before the ones you don’t enjoy. It is just human nature to put off what you do not enjoy. You may also be in a rush to get through those tasks since you don’t enjoy them and the quality may go down. This will show in the long run and can be very detrimental to your reputation. Don’t let the name of your business suffer just because you don’t enjoy a specific task. So put your name next to all the tasks you actually enjoy.

3. Who Do You Call?

Freelance people are a great option to go investigate. Especially now that working from home is so much easier than it used to be. There are many virtual assistants out there that can take on a multitude of different tasks including bookkeeping, content writing, social media, etc. Look at your list and start investigating local companies or online freelancers that can take on the more professional tasks for you. Ask your local Chamber of Commerce for help. Look at the people you network with on a regular basis. Take a look at the list I have below of just a few options:

  • Virtual Assistants – there are many local options, as well as online sources. Do your homework and check references. There is a lot that VA’s can do for you so you can focus on the tasks that make you money!
  • Copywriters – Keeping an up to date blog is very important for SEO purposes as well as establishing trust and credibility. Writing can be a daunting task if it is not your favorite thing. Blogs, press releases, any kind of printed material – get a professional to help you if this is not your thing.
  • Web Designers – Yes, WordPress and the like is basically simple. But investing the dollars to have someone set it up correctly will go a LONG WAY in the long run. If this is not your skill set – then call someone. You will be glad you did.
  • Online Business Presence – This means social media, video, email marketing – anything and everything that happens online. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward. When it comes to video and social media – I would love to help!
  • Business Coaches – even the highest paid athletes or biggest millionaires have someone coaching them and holding them accountable. Don’t rest on your laurels – challenge yourself. If you are the smartest person in the room, then you need to find a new room!

I understand this list covers a lot. I am happy to give recommendations on any of the above. Which leads me to point #4…..

4. Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help

Sadly, many entrepreneurs are still just too afraid to ask for help. Some reasons may be money, some are confidentiality, some are just plain fear someone will find out they are not Superman. Trust me, no one thinks you need to be a martyr or a super hero. If you do your homework, you will find reputable, trustworthy organizations or people. If you sit down and take the time to plan out who is in charge of what, it will allow you to do what YOU do best – make money!

So, what do you think? What are some services you have used that you can recommend to others that have really helped your company out? Let’s share them in the comments and help your fellow entrepreneur!

Smart Business Resources for Pandemic Recovery

pandemic recoveryAs business owners find their way to get back to normal, or to find their new normal, I was delighted to be spotlighted in a recent article on various resources you can use to get your business back on track. Thanks to Elena Stewart of ElenaStewart.com for the great shout out to me, as well as the other suggestions. Let me know what you think!

 

From delayed reopening to pandemic pivots, many businesses have struggled to maintain solvency throughout prolonged quarantine periods. The good news is that there are ways to keep growing your business, even if your physical doors are closed. Check out these resources to get a head start on your company’s pandemic recovery.

Learn Some New Moves

No matter what type of business you operate, there’s a workaround for sourcing income while your physical doors are closed. Consider these platforms and methods.

  • Upgrade your digital marketing by working with Queen Bee Consulting.
  • Use video streaming platforms and software to deliver virtual services to customers.
  • Implement e-commerce strategies for selling products and services online.
  • Go mobile with in-store offerings; curbside pickup and delivery are highly popular (and lucrative) models.
  • Start reaching new customer subsets with marketing research and implementation. You can use freelancers for market research services if this is outside your wheelhouse.

Keep Tabs on Your Cash

You may not have a ton of income coming in (for the moment). However, navigating your business finances is a crucial step toward post-pandemic success. Consider these resources for tracking your incoming and outgoing amounts.

  • Get started with a solid bookkeeping strategy so you’re organized and solvent.
  • Hire a financial consultant to make sense of your financial situation and any unique challenges.
  • Reduce overhead costs wherever possible to streamline your budget.
  • Check out small business grants to help make ends meet without complicated repayment requirements.

Work a Bit Smarter

You may still be putting hours in while your business is closed – and you’ll definitely be working overtime if you’re reopening. Either way, there are ways to work smarter and save your energy for when business ramps back up.

  • Explore technology that can make your life easier – think chatbots for your website, automated client emails, project management software, and more.
  • Set measurable goals with set deadlines so you can see progress happening.
  • Employ time management strategies to get the most hours of your day.
  • Avoid burnout by taking time away to recharge and refresh as a human, not a business owner.

There’s no foolproof approach for ensuring your business outlasts the pandemic. But with these resources, you have a solid plan for shaping a venture that has a fighting chance.

Ready to take your business to the next level? Working with a business coach from Queen Bee Consulting can help grow your business! Complete this form or call 618-530-7166.

Photo via Unsplash

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

Time to wake up: Since Corona took over our lives, everyone is getting their information online. Before this, every year – heck every week – we were seeing massive strides in the way companies were using video to market their business, as well as the platforms making changes allowing them to take their video to the next level.

YouTube traffic expanded more than 60% 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.

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 a game changer as well.

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’t show up in the flesh, do it on video. It makes a bigger impact than just an email or a text. It is amazing what the power of your face can do! I recently wrote several posts on how to utilize video to market your company.

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.

I would love to help you! Contact me today so we can get started on a video marketing strategy to help YOUR business.

Does Your Business Have A State Of The Union? – 2020 Edition

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 The Atlantic about having a social media will. Now, more than ever, I believe this is extra important considering the pandemic our world is facing.

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? You never know when you will need to have these things ready for someone to take care of your estate.

Setting up your own State of the Union (SOTU) is an essential part of running your business. I am on my 12th 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. You also need to know that Hulu and Netflix accounts cannot be changed. If those accounts are set up under you, a new account will need to be created.

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. Once I can recommend is 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?

Online Tools For Entrepreneurs To Help Them Work More Efficiently

Online Tools For EntrepreneursEntrepreneurs are often tasked to running the ship alone until they get things moving. As a business coach and marketing consultant, I am often in the position of wearing many hats! But as business grows and time becomes scarce, it becomes necessary to delegate out things you once had time for, but now seem to be putting on the back burner due to time constraints, or find helpful online programs to help you work faster. Something that gets the job done without you needing to reinvent the wheel.

I am here to tell you, DELEGATE is not a dirty word! There are so many things to get done, and fortunately we live in a world where you can find quality freelancers or programs that will help you get the job done efficiently so you can focus on your clients. Below is a list of online services I recommend to my fellow small business owners!

  1. PicMonkey and/or Canva: These services are a quick way to create a graphic for all of your social media platforms, or even something you want to create to physically mail to someone. They have templates set up for just about any occasion or event, and both services will store them in a library so you can re-visit and edit them. Easy to use and with a ton of tutorials, you can create a quick graphic for just about anything. (Side note: Don’t skimp on a quality graphic designer when it comes to your logo though!)
  2. Rev.com – I was recently introduced to this service. It is a transcription service that will take your video or audio file and turn it into text, thereby allowing you to use that content to also have a blog post or document for whatever you need! They are FAST and very accurate. My experience has only been minor edits. Video content is so important, but you should always re-purpose good content. A blog post is a perfect start and this eliminates a lot of the work involved! Check it out!
  3. Trello – this is a great online tool that helps you organize content of any kind. Brainstorming, to-do lists, you name it. Whatever you want to share and collaborate with others that is accessible online and has a great mobile app as well. I use it for to-do lists that are shared, as well as sharing flow charts and ideas. You can create teams, projects specific boards for certain people to share, the list goes on and on.
  4. Hootsuite – I know, this one has been around a while, but it recently has really stepped up its game to include Instagram and make the ability to share on multiple platforms even easier. The user interface has really grown leaps and bounds, so if you have checked out a while, make sure you give it another look.
  5. HubsSpots Blog Topic Generator. This is a great tool if you have NO CLUE what to write your blog about! It simply 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. Blogging is important, and it is easy to get stuck on a topic, but not with this tool!
  6. Ripl.com – what a fun app you can use to create videos on your mobile device. But did you know there is also a desktop version? Perfect opportunity to create fun and quick videos you can share anywhere even if all your content is on your desktop! They will brand them any way you like and then you share them with the world!

This is just the tip of the iceberg on the programs and services you can use to help run your business, but still keep the costs down. It is so easy to get stuck in a rut doing the same thing, I highly encourage you take the time to learn how to work smarter, not harder, so you can make your time more efficient, thereby giving you the opportunity to make more money!

So tell me – what is a favorite service of yours that you use to help run your business? Post in the comments below!

 

Does Your Business Have A State Of The Union – 2019

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 The Atlantic 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. You also need to know that Hulu and Netflix accounts cannot be changed. If those accounts are set up under you, a new account will need to be created.

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?

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?

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?