#selfemployment

7 Reasons Why You Need a Business Mentor—And How to Land One

One way to get strategic with your business trajectory is to land a trusted adviser in the form of a mentor. Mentoring can take many forms, such as a one-on-one relationship or a mentoring circle within an organization. The best mentor-mentee relationships involve two-way learning and reciprocation.

Mentors help professionals feel more engaged, derive more meaning from their careers, and grow their businesses. According to the Small Business Administration, small business owners who receive three or more hours of mentoring report higher revenues and increased growth.

Need more of a push? Here are seven reasons why you need a mentor this year:

1. A good mentor will help you identify blind spots

Blind spots are a funny thing because they exist for everyone—even the most successful leader. But when blind spots are our own, we are oblivious to them. While you yourself may not easily recognize where your weaknesses lie, a mentor can help you improve self-awareness. Think of this aspect of mentoring as a healthy reality check.

2. Give you access to a sphere of influence

mentor can offer a large network of connections that you might not otherwise have had access to. Would your business benefit from introductions to more distributors, potential customers, or new vendors? Your sphere of influence facilitates these key interconnections.

How many small business resources can you name that cost $0? Not that many. And you can’t put a price on a mentorship, except for time spent. Both parties should agree to meeting parameters, times, dates, and agenda items so you can meet as efficiently as possible. When you enter a mentor-mentee relationship in an organized way, it will be time well spent for both parties.

4. Cheer you on through ups and downs

We could all use a cheerleader in our corner, especially when it comes to the trials and tribulations of running a successful small business. When you are paired with the right mentor, they genuinely want you to succeed. Your mentor will encourage you during your lows and be one of the first to celebrate your highs.

5. Challenge you in positive ways

Short-term and long-term goals aside, a great mentor will also challenge you to think outside the box. In an article in Inc., John Brandon explains one of his own techniques for mentoring: “One strategy I’ve used with those I’m mentoring is to assign a fairly difficult task to complete—something that will require my involvement. I don’t see mentoring as just a weekly chat. It’s an ongoing relationship and one that should always be moving toward a specific goal. It has to be intentional and specific, not vague and by the seat of your pants. Keep track of the task together and use it as a teaching aid.”

6. Share what they’ve learned from their own experience

Learning from others’ mistakes can be priceless. Who wouldn’t want to shorten the learning curve when it comes to building your small business? In most scenarios, a mentor is older, wiser, with years more business experience. With that experience comes tales of far reaching success, and also brutal failures. Honest, vulnerable conversations with your mentor will help shape your future business decisions.

7. Help you overcome your complacency

Have you ever felt stagnant in your business? A good mentor will help you establish realistic goals, hold you accountable to the tasks that help you achieve those goals, and push you when you feel like giving up.

How to find a business mentor

Once you have decided that you would like to have a mentor, how do you go about locating the right one for you?

Look at your current network. Is there another small business owner whose company’s growth is something you’d like to emulate within your own business? Take stock of your LinkedIn connections to see who is open to mentor-mentee opportunities.

Check for local SCORE opportunities. SCORE was founded in 1964 as a nonprofit resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SCORE network includes 10,000+ expert volunteers offering business mentoring and workshops at 300 SCORE offices across the country. Visit the SCORE website to find the closest local office; your local SCORE chapter will help pair you with a suitable mentor.

Investigate contacts within your specific industry. You might think this suggestion is counterintuitive for competitive reasons. However, seasoned professionals who are passionate about their field often offer mentorship services to other small business owners in their own industry.

Finding someone you admire should be a top priority. Make a short list of potential candidates and see where your personalities align. You can feel them out by having informal meetings where you discuss your goals and trajectory before officially asking them to be your mentor.

When asking a person to become your mentor, you want to be direct. Try something like, “I can see you’re a great team leader and I’m managing a team for the first time. Would you be able to work with me over the next year to become a great team leader?”

Once you have committed to the process, good luck. And if years from now you find yourself being asked by someone to be their mentor, draw on this experience and pay it forward!

EMAIL/CAN-SPAM

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business but it’s important to adhere to the laws regulating email communication.

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business but it’s important to adhere to the laws regulating email communication.

Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I enjoy sharing with other business owners. In part one of our series, I introduced a fantastic resource that Google provides FOR FREE! If you haven’t already, here is why you should claim your free Google My Business Listing. In part two we discussed how to use video for small business marketing. Video is so important and if you aren’t already implementing its use I can show you some ways to get on the bandwagon!

You may think email is a no-brainer when it comes to marketing your business. There are nearly 4 billion active email users around the world, so it makes sense! However, improper use of email when reaching out to prospects can create major problems for your business. In the U.S., the CAN-SPAM Act includes a list of laws regulating commercial emails. The GDPR in the E.U. and Canada’s CASL laws may also apply to you if your business engages with international customers.

Resource # 3: Email (with consent)

Email for Small Business

Got consent?

The laws regulating email communication are intended to protect and violating them can result in tough penalties for your business.

Here is a summary of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information.Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines.The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad.The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located.Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly.Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipients opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that sends the message may be held legally responsible.

Understanding Permission

Permission is the act of getting consent from a subscriber to send them commercial email marketing messages. There are generally two types of permission: implied permission and express permission. You have implied permission to email someone if you have an existing business relationship with them.  Think of a someone who is a current customer or an active member of a community forum that you run.

If you don’t have implied permission, then you’ll need express permission to email a person. You are granted express permission when someone enters their email in a subscribe form on your website.

Companies that build permission-based email lists usually see the fruits of their labor with high open and click through rates on their campaigns.

My advice is to collect data correctly. Covered in my book in a section titled, “Warm Calling”, be clear about why you are collecting information and how you intend to use it. Use full disclosure and ask for explicit permission to send email.

How to Grow Your Email List

Here are some creative ways to grow your email list while adhering to privacy laws:

  • – Add a subscription area to your website.
  • – Offer a lead magnet: Create a compelling piece of content that requires an email address before the download is available.
  • – Add a “Sign Up” button to your business Facebook page.
  • – Warm Calling. Covered in my book, I provide real life examples of how I collect email addresses and how you can too!

Effective email marketing converts your leads into customers, and your customers into brand advocates. When building your lists, be clear about why you are collecting information and how you intend to use it. Use full disclosure and ask for explicit permission to send email.

Video for Small Business

Using video for small business marketing will help you build trust with your audience, promote your products and services, and keep your brand relevant.

Having owned and operated my business for over 35 years, I’ve amassed a long list of tips and marketing tricks that I enjoy sharing with other business owners. Last month I introduced a fantastic resource that Google provides FOR FREE! If you haven’t already, here is why you should claim your free Google My Business Listing.

Marketing can be overwhelming, expensive and time-consuming. But I’m here to help! Next up in my blog series, let’s talk about the who, what, where, when and why of using video for small business marketing.

Resource # 2: Video

Creating a video for small businses

Why is video important?

Have you heard the saying that video content is king? Digital content experts say that video content is one of the hottest marketing tools. From Snapchat to Instagram stories to long form content on YouTube, video is here to stay.

Here are some stats to really drive home that video content is king:

  •  – 100 million hours of video are watched each day on Facebook
  •  – 80% of traffic in 2020 will be video
  •  – 90% of Americans ages 25 – 34 watch online video
  •  – One-third of online activity is spent watching video

Who are you talking to?

Video is a great way to engage with multiple audiences.  Consider creating videos to announce new products or services to your current customers. Video can also be used as a lead generation tool to demo your service, like I’ve done here: Cleanlots Business Marketing video. Think you might be hiring in the near future? Prospective employees are also another audience to consider when building your video content library.

How to use video effectively.

So now you know why video is an important tool to use when marketing your small business. You also know which audiences would benefit from seeing your videos.  Now let’s discuss some best practices when it comes to creating video content.

  • – Practice makes perfect. It may take a little while, but the more you practice, the more comfortable you will become being on camera. Seth Silvers manages a Facebook Group for entrepreneurs that encourages you to get comfortable in front of the camera with his 10 Day Live Storytelling Challenge.
  • – Tell stories. Like every good story, your video should have a beginning, middle and end. Use your voice to showcase the passion you have for your business and your unique qualities.
  • – Don’t forget your CTA. At the end of each video include a call to action. If a viewer has questions, where can they reach you? If they want to see more videos that you’ve created, have you included a way to do so?
  • – Be authentic. You could spend thousands of dollars on production of your video, but if your message lacks authenticity your videos won’t resonate with viewers. Imagine you are talking to just one person. This perspective forces you to have a very clear purpose of your video and your target audience.
  • – Get creative and have fun!

Production Options.

Depending on your budget, comfort with technology and access to equipment, you may decide to produce your video content in a few different ways.

At the higher end of marketing spend is to hire a professional videographer to record and produce your content. While this can be expensive, it can also create a high-quality end product. There are video production companies that will take on low-budget projects, so do your research in your local area and don’t be afraid to share your budget when interviewing prospective video partners.

Another option is to reach out to independent producers. There are websites dedicated to finding freelance producers/videographers and you can also check Craigslist. Ask contractors that you are considering if they shoot and edit their work. What kind of editing software do they use? What type of camera do they typically use?

Maybe you’ve decided to take a DIY approach to your video content creation. Marketing videos are no longer a luxury, they are a necessity, so don’t let a small (or non-existent?) budget prevent you from producing your own content on your smart phone.

Lights. Camera. Action!

Adding video to your marketing toolbox will help you build trust with your audience, promote your products and services, and keep your brand relevant.  Once your content is produced you can use it on your website, via social media platforms and within email campaigns. Have you already started creating video content? I’d love for you to share what you’ve created for your business below in the comments.

Next up in our series we’ll chat about Email and how to use it to effectively market your business.

Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job

We all experience a bad day at work now and then. But how do you decide whether it’s time to quit your job and perhaps work for yourself or stick it out? You should absolutely start looking for other opportunities if you hate your job intensely.  Staying in such a job not only provides no satisfaction or sense of accomplishment but can lead to health and social problems. If you decide to stick it out then perhaps you can find activities outside of work that will satisfy your wants and needs.

Have you considered volunteering? There are all sorts of possibilities such as coaching youth sports, fund raising for charities, helping the disadvantaged or disabled, community cleanups, etc. Have you considered a side business? There are many legitimate, low cost, business opportunities that can be operated from home part time. Chances are good that you can take your existing skill set to one of these activities and create a new career that you’ll enjoy.

Check out Alison Doyle’s 13 Signs It’s Time to Quit Your Job.

https://www.thebalance.com/signs-its-time-to-quit-your-job-2062292?utm_campaign=moneysl&utm_medium=email&utm_source=cn_nl&utm_content=8825660&utm_term=Here are some signs you should quit your job sooner rather than later and it’s time to leave your job behind. Read more…

 

5 Great Tips to Attract New Customers If You Are a Small Business

Finding new customers for your small business can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. You can still attract customers successfully with a small budget. Posting your flyer on free community bulletin boards or mailing your sales letter to qualified prospects can still produce results. For other ideas, try these 5 sales tips to attract new customers from Jane Hurst.

http://www.lifehack.org/448319/5-great-tips-to-attract-new-customers-if-you-are-a-small-businessTo drive traffic and customers to your website, it’s crucial to play to your strengths. Why should customers choose your company over the others? What’s your competitive advantage? Is it high quality? Reasonable pricing? Or unrivaled customer service? Read more…

 

The Secret to Exponential Growth in Your Home Business

The most successful business people focus on the tasks that utilize their time and money the most effectively. One of the most important business development principles that you can apply to your home business is the 80/20 rule – also known as the Pareto Principle. It states you must invest 80% of your time into the 20% of your clients who are generating 80% of your business. Following this principle will enable you to generate additional untapped business from your best clients, competitor-proof them and also attract superior client referrals.

Most home business entrepreneurs aren’t very deliberate in terms of how they generate referrals. You need to identify the qualities your ideal client should encompass. There’s a simple way to execute this; position yourself as a specialist who works with high quality clients, rather than a “jack-of-all-trades/master-of-none”, who will work with just about anyone. Your ideal client doesn’t focus on what you cost but instead values what you’re worth to them. They’re loyal, and appreciate your relationship. They speak highly of you in their circles – other high quality potential clients.

Use the Pareto Principle to develop your own client base. Duncan MacPherson provides more details in this article from Home Business magazine.

 

The Secret to Exponential Growth in Your Home BusinessA more professional consultative approach, focusing more on mutual fit rather than simply making a sale, is far more attractive especially to potential high caliber clients. Keep in mind, top business professionals don’t chase clients, they attract them! Read more…

 

Blue-Collar Businesses Pay Off for Entrepreneurs

Do you want to start a small business that has the potential to make a lot of money? Then consider one of many types of blue-collar-businesses that challenge the perception that you need to be a college graduate to be a top income earner. According to a study by Invoice2go, 8 of the top 10 highest earning industries come from the blue collar sector. Not all are as profitable as others however. Some have low profit margins while others such as a commercial parking lot litter removal service yield a much larger profit.  Check out more of the study’s results as written by Chad Brooks, Business News Daily Senior Writer.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/9490-blue-collar-businesses.html?utm_source=bnd-newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=20161021-bnd“While society tends to push everyone to get a four-year degree, and typically take on a lot of debt in the process, we are seeing countless examples of people carving out a very successful path of their own, particularly in blue-collar industries,” Briski wrote on the company’s blog. “There’s a lot of opportunity out there, and with new technology to make it even easier to thrive as a small business operator, it’s ripe for anyone’s taking.” Read more…

 

13 Part-Time Business Ideas for Generating Side Income

Starting a business part time can be less costly and much easier than you think. It’s a great way to learn the necessary skills required to operate a business while also generating a side income. You may eventually decide to make the move to full time entrepreneurship as many others have got their start this way. I started a simple litter removal business outside commercial properties part time in 1981. I quit my full time job a few months later when I was making more money from my part time business than my job. Some people prefer the security and benefits that come from full time employment along with the extra money a simple part time business can provide on the side. You decide what’s best for your situation. Nicole Fallon Taylor has written about 13 part time business ideas perfect for aspiring entrepreneurs.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4908-part-time-business-ideas.htmlNot ready to quit your day job? You can still generate income on the side by running any one of these startups in your spare time. Read more…

 

18 Green Business Ideas for Eco-Minded Entrepreneurs

Ready to start a business that will have a positive impact on the environment? Consumers and businesses in increasing numbers are looking for more eco-friendly alternatives to their products and services, and are going “green” as a result. Here’s your opportunity to tap into this growing movement. Check out these “green” business ideas for eco-minded entrepreneurs written by Nicole Fallon Taylor.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/5102-green-business-ideas.htmlWant to start an environmentally friendly business? It may be easier than you think. Here are some green business ideas to inspire you. Read more…

 

Don’t Want To Feel Lost Anymore? Find Your Life Purpose With This Indicator

We all contemplate what our purpose in life is at some point in our lives. You may be a teen trying to “find yourself”, a student evaluating career options, a worker considering a career change, a person looking to “make a difference” through a volunteer position, or someone who’s considering self employment; there are simple steps you can take to lead you in the right direction. I’d like to share some content I came across written by Jenny Marchal, “Don’t Want to Feel Lost Anymore? Find Your Life Purpose With This Indicator”.

http://www.lifehack.org/442792/dont-want-to-feel-lost-anymore-find-your-life-purpose-with-this-indicator?ref=mail&mtype=daily_newsletter&mid=20160914_customized&uid=407761&email=bgwinch%40gmail.com&action=clickFind out how to find your life purpose but connecting with your inner-Energy – your built in guidance system showing you the way to a happier life. Read more…

 

Retirement Business Opportunity Ideas

Are you approaching retirement but not quite ready to stop working? You’ve always thought that one day you’d like to be self employed. But you’re struggling to come up with a list of business opportunity ideas. Focus on business ideas that leverage your years of work and life experience. Decide how much you want to work and for how many years. Choose an opportunity you’ll enjoy doing and it won’t be work. Here are five business ideas for your consideration from Sarita Harbour, Business News Daily contributor.

http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/6571-business-ideas-for-retirees.htmlProviding services has long been a popular idea for younger, active retirees who want to start their own businesses; however, familiar choices like handyman services, tutoring or pet sitting aren’t the only games in town. Read more…