The Ten Keys To Success In Your Business And Life

Finding success in your business requires many skills and talents.  Starting and running a business is like riding a roller coaster, you have to be ready to handle the climbs and drops without losing your lunch.  The ten keys to success below apply not only to your business but your life as well.  I’m sure you recognize everything on the list, as they are all basic concepts, but do you practice them every day?

You Become What You Think About

If you think positive thoughts, you will start to think and act in positive ways.  Same goes when you think negatively.  Everything you do and say begins with a thought.

 “You become what you think about all day long.” 

– Ralph Waldo Emerson                                                                                     

 

Decide On Your Goals and Put Them In Writing

Decide what you want out of your business and your life, then write out your plan for achieving it.  Most goals that haven’t been put to paper are merely dreams.

 “Without goals, and plans to reach them, you are like a ship that has set sail with no destination.” 

-Fitzhugh Dodson

 

 

Become A Student Of Learning

Most people stop their education when they leave school.  Keep an open mind and learn something new every day.  Developing a love for learning is key to growing as a person.

 “Man’s mind stretched to a new idea never goes back to its original dimensions.”

-Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr

 

 

Do Something Now

It’s easy to put off something because the task seems too large to tackle.  The best remedy is to take action.  Even doing something small will move you closer to your goal and get you in an action oriented mindset.

“Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.”
– Dale Carnegie

 

 Be Persistent

For many successful entrepreneurs, the difference between them and the ones that failed was that they didn’t give up when they met failure.  One of the things that most entrepreneurs credit to their success is persistence.

 “Persistent people begin their success where others end in failure.” 

-Edward Eggleston 

 

 

Pay Attention

Learn from your mistakes.  Learn from others mistakes.  Opportunities are everywhere, you just have to be on the lookout for them and be ready to grab them when they appear.

 “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

-Winston Churchill

 

 

Focus Your Resources

You can never get your time back, use it wisely.  Focus on the things that will have the biggest impact in reaching your goals.  Learn to work with others in helping to achieve your goals.

 “Most people have no idea of the giant capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” 

-Tony Robbins 

 

Think and Act Differently

Like a three year old, learn to ask the question “why”.  Challenge assumptions.  Think differently and you will act differently.  Don’t be afraid to try something even though others tell you that you are crazy.  Maybe they are wrong and you are right.

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”

–Mark Twain

 

 Be a People Person

Treat people fairly and with respect.  Learn to get along with other people, even if you have differences of opinion.  Be helpful to those around you and they will be eager to help you when the need arises.

 “I consider my ability to arouse enthusiasm among men the greatest asset I possess. The way to develop the best that is in a man is by appreciation and encouragement.

-Charles Schwab 

 

Have Integrity

If you lack integrity, you will lose the trust and goodwill of others.  And if you lose that, the rest of the points above don’t really matter.

“Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful.”
– Samuel Johnson

 

If you liked this article, you can also check out:  7 Signs You Should Not Start a Business

How To Start Implementing Your Marketing Strategy Today

 

As a small business owner you have to assume many roles, from the chief marketing officer to the VP of Janitorial Services (e.g., cleaning the bathrooms).  With so much on your plate it can be difficult to find time to do what is probably the most important activity for your business, marketing.

If you’re not an experienced marketer, which most first-time business owners aren’t, you may find it overwhelming to keep up with the never-ending need to market your business.  Taking time to research and plan your marketing activities can be difficult when you have dozens of other things to do during the course of the day, but you must spend the necessary time to plan and implement your marketing strategy if you want your business to grow.  No matter how great your product or service is, it doesn’t matter if people don’t know about it.

 

Break Your Marketing Down Into Actionable Steps

Just the thought of creating a marketing campaign would make many small business owners cringe, the key is to break down your marketing activities (or anything really) into bite-sized action steps that you can complete in a short amount of time.  By breaking down your marketing activities into smaller steps, it allows you to take action more often, without having to wait until you have a large block time.

Whenever I have something important I need to get done, I like to create a mini-project out of it.  If you simply write down something like, “write a blog post”on your to do list, it might not get done.  Why? Because writing a blog post requires several activities to be performed in order to create a new blog post.  The key is breaking down all of those activities in order and gathering all of the necessary resources you will need for the project beforehand.  The method I use is based on the book, “Making Ideas Happen”.

While most of my life is digital, there are some things where I still prefer a paper and pen, and a to-do list is one of those things.  If you prefer digital, there are several online applications that can help manage prjects, the one I use and highly recommend is called Trello.  It’s simple to use, it’s free and it kind of feels like you are using index cards on a corkboard, which I also love.

What I use is a simple folder to hold any notes or information I might need and paper clip a sheet of paper on the front of it that breaks down all of the activities I need to do in order to complete my project, which in this case is creating a new blog post.  See the image below for an example (you can download a PDF of the sheet I use below)

Marketing Project Worksheet Sheet Example

Create a List of Marketing Opportunities

Make a list of all the available marketing opportunities you would like to pursue.  Hopefully, you can get this information from your marketing plan. If you do not have a marketing plan in place yet,  just make a list of marketing opportunities. You may have been meaning to place an ad in the local paper or to create a new Facebook advertising campaign, list out everything on a sheet of paper or on your computer.

 

Turn Each Marketing Activity Into Its Own Project

I personally love the Action Method by Behance, where you turn everything you need to accomplish into mini-projects that lets you break anything down into simple action steps.

Using a sheet of paper, do the following:

  • Write down the marketing activity you would like to take action on
  • Write out all of the steps necessary to make it happen, in sequential order
  • Gather necessary information and resources that will be needed and put them in your folder
  • Keep all of your resources together for reference.  You can print your resources and place them  in a folder or add the reference links to your computer document.

Better yet, download these project sheets for free based on the action method used in the book, “Making Things Happen“.

 

Take Action

Now that you have each marketing activity written down with its own action steps, you are ready to take action.  Starting with the most important marketing activity, simply take one action step at a time until the project is completed.  Don’t feel the need to wait until you have enough time to finish all of the steps, do one at a time and continue when you have the opportunity.  For example, if the project you have has four steps and you think completing all of them will take two hours, start with only the first step which may only take twenty minutes and continue to step two when you have more time.  If you do a little bit at a time you will keep moving forward until the project is complete.

 

Below is a sample of a project created for placing an ad on Facebook To Drive Traffic To Your Website

 

  1. Read the tutorial on Facebook on how to create a Facebook ad (15 min)
  2. Read three articles like this one on Facebook advertising (20 min)
  3. Create a profile for the type of customer I will be targeting (20 min)
  4. Sign up for Facebook advertising (10 min)
  5. Determine the budget that will be allocated to campaign (10 min)
  6. Write out 3 versions of my ad and gather images for each ad  (60 min)
  7. Create each ad and start campaign ( 15 min)

 

As you can see, I took a project that was going to take me approximately 2 1/2 hours and broke it down into seven smaller steps that can be completed one at a time, without having to continue on to the next step if time does not allow.  It may take you a month to set aside 2 1/2 hours, but you may be able to start tomorrow if you only need fifteen minutes to complete a single step.

As you can see, it’s really a simple system, but it works.  This method not only applies to your marketing activities but to any tasks that will require time to complete.  There is also the satisfaction of crossing off each step as you complete them, getting you ever closer to your goal.

Small Business Toolbox: October Ninth

Jim Rohn Quote-You Must Either Modify Your Dreams or Magnify Your Skills

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Power BI – A free tool from Microsoft that allows you to take your data from Excel and turn it into a highly visualized format.  Great for gathering insights from your data and for reporting.

Periscope – A new video platform from Twitter that lets you broadcast live video from your mobile phone.

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Small Business Toolbox: September Twenty Third

Nelson Mandela Quote on Dreams

Each week I like to post links to some useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.

The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.  I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, you can contact me here and let me know.

Canva – If you weren’t blessed with design skills and you’re not familiar with PhotoShop, Canva is as close at it gets for creating great graphics without design experience.  It’s a free tool with a few options to purchase premium images.  Fantastic if you want to create graphics for social media or your website.  They also have a business version for a small monthly fee, but the free version has most of everything you will need.

ClicktoTweet – Free Twitter tool that lets you insert Tweetables inside you own content.  Instead of users manually Tweeting something, you can pre-craft the message and insert if for visitors to “Click to Tweet”.  If you use WordPress, there is a plugin called Tweet This that is free and awesome.

 

Small Business Toolbox: September 14th

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Uber Suggest – A free keyword suggestion tool that lets you enter a keyword and get dozens of suggested related keywords.

Synup – Online tool that lets local businesses keep track of their business listings across the net.  Free and paid plans available

Paulo Coelho Quotes

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Microsoft Cancels Free Custom Domain Email Accounts on Outlook.com

Microsoft Cancels Custom EmailsTalk about a bait and switch.

I’m primarily a Google Apps user, but since Google did away with the free version of Google Apps for Business, I’ve been taking advantage of Microsoft’s free version of custom domain hosted email on Outlook.com.  They actually had a pretty good deal, you could have up to 50 free email addresses using your own domain.

If you remember back in the day, that’s what Google Apps used to offer when they first launched.

I tried logging into my account this morning to add an email address and got this message.

outlook free domain

Yes, they have cancelled the program and encourage you to subscribe to their paid version, Office 365.  They have also frozen your account so you cannot log in and make any changes.

Yes, bait and switch at it’s best.

So what did Microsoft do?

1- They did not notify any of their current users (the message indicates they will do it in a few weeks), they just left this message basically saying they have frozen your account so you cannot add or remove users.  For the time being, you can still log into Outlook.com with your current email addresses, though it is unclear when they will remove that functionality as well.

2- By freezing out your admin account, they are indicating their will be no grandfathering of existing accounts.  It appears you either have to pay for Microsoft 365 or get your email off of their platform.

So how is this different from what Google Apps did when they transitioned to a paid only offering?

1- Google Apps grandfathered in all existing accounts and let them keep whatever plan they were currently on.  I have 2 Google Apps accounts that have 50 free email addresses and another one that still has 10 free email addresses, for life.  High five to Google for that!

2- Google Apps made the transition gradual.  They downgraded the 50 free email address plan to 10 for new signups and eventually moved to a paid only version.  But they did not force everyone to move to a paid version as they still honored the free versions.

Goodbye Outlook.com

Guess it’s time to look for a new email host.  At the current $5 a month just for basic email (does not include Microsoft Office), Google Apps is the better deal in my opinion as they give you their full suite of applications included.  Plus, Google was definitely more above board when they made their transition to a paid only service than Microsoft has.

Small Business Toolbox – July Twenty

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Pamela – Desktop download that lets you automatically record your Skype calls.  Great for teaching and conducting interviews via Skype.  They offer a free trial of the full version and a lighter free version to try.

Keywordtool.io – Free tool that uses Google Autocomplete to get keyword suggestions for you.

Winston Churchill Quotes

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

What Spending 117K Has Taught Me About Working With Freelancers

Have you ever thought about hiring a freelancer online before?  If anyone could benefit from outsourcing, it would be small business owners, Lord knows us small biz owners have our plates full.

Over the years my web marketing company, 3Bug Media, has outsourced over 100k worth of freelance work.  That’s only counting using online freelancing platforms like Odesk and Elance, it doesn’t include hiring one off contract jobs locally.  I’ve hired online freelancers for things like web development, graphic design, CAD drawings, writers and bookkeeping to name a few.

hiring-virtual-freelancers

While I do have a few in-house employees, when things get busy, it’s a lot easier and more cost effective to outsource the excess work rather then go out and hire someone and have another mouth to feed regardless if you have work for them or not.  It also allows you to hire (temporarily) for specialized skills that you may only need occasionally, like a graphic designer.

Today I’m talking about hiring freelancers online, where you use an online platform like Odesk or Elance to find a freelancer.  When people think about these platforms they think about hiring overseas, when actually you can find freelancers from all over.  More than half of the freelancers I hire are either in the U.S. or Canada.

I’ve made a lot of mistakes and wasted a lot of my time and the time of the poor freelancers that had to work for me in the beginning, but I got better over time and learned how to find exactly what I’m looking for in a freelancer.

I’ve only been burned twice in 5 years doing this and it was for a grand total of $800.  Not bad considering how much I’ve spent over the years.  I’ve found that most freelancers, regardless of where they are from, are generally honest and hard working people.  Do you get some bad apples?  Yes, but no more than you would have if you were hiring people locally.

So for you small business owners out there that would love to be able to outsource some of their workload, here are some of the things I’ve learned when it comes to hiring freelancers online.

If You Pay Peanuts You Will Get Monkeys

No, you can’t get a top notch web designer for $3 an hour.  You can’t pay someone $10 to write a killer 20 page ebook that will be the cornerstone of your sales funnel strategy.  Yes, you can often get a better rate hiring overseas (or outside of your metro area), but you still have to pay them a decent wage if you want quality work.  That actually applies to hiring for anything, you have to pay a decent wage if you want good people.

The beauty of hiring a virtual freelancer is that you have a worldwide job market of skills to choose from at good rates, it’s not about trying to hire someone at the cheapest possible rate.  You’ll be disappointed if this is what you expect to get.  In fact, some of my freelancers get paid more than what I would pay for someone locally to do the same job, they just have the exact skills I’m looking for.

outsourcing-small-business

Write a Crystal Clear Job Posting

Most people new to hiring freelancers create poor job descriptions because is they are not clear themselves about what they want.  Before you create your first job posting, make sure you understand what skills are needed for the position you will be hiring for so you can write a clear job posting  Depending on what type of job you post, you may receive hundreds of applicants for a single job posting.  There are two things I’ve learned that has helped me write good job postings.

1 – Be very specific about what you want.  Remove all superfluous language from your job postings.  A  job description like “I’m looking for a fantastic writer with a passion for the written word” is totally meaningless.  What’s fantastic to you may be awful for the next person.  State exactly what you want, you are looking for the basic criteria at this point and will be looking for style and skill at the next stage when you start whittling down your list of applicants.  Something like “Looking for a writer with experience and in depth knowledge of the mortgage industry, please provide reference links to published articles related to this topic”.

2 – Write about what you don’t want.  Start excluding people you know you won’t hire right off the bat, it’ll save you time going through resumes later.  If you need a specific expertise, be very clear about it.  Something like “I’m looking for someone who has experience maintaining Magento databases, if you do not have experience in this area, please do not apply”

Be courteous with your job posting (you don’t want to sound like a dictator), but also be very clear and concise with what you are looking for in a freelancer.

Be Patient and Thorough When Hiring

Within the first day or two you may get flooded with hundreds of job applicants.  If you don’t have hiring experience and have never had to sift through hundreds of resumes, this can be intimidating.  The quick and lazy method would be to quickly scan through them, look for a friendly face and some good reviews and go ahead and hire.  Wrong! The time you save at this stage will come back to haunt you when you hire the wrong person and spend the next 2 months pulling your hair out trying to get that freelancer you hired to return your emails.

In all of my job postings, I ask for links to previous work and also look through their reviews (more on both of these below).  Make sure you take the time to look at their sample work and read through their reviews looking for anything that jumps out at you and also for red flags.  Also look at the cover letter they send, I’ve had writers apply for positions (asking for $30+ an hour) and it is riddled with grammar and spelling errors.  Not cool, but they saved me the time of interviewing them.

Dig Deeper Into The Reviews

This is something important I’ve learned with working with freelancers online.  You’ll see lots of 4 and 5 star reviews, even for freelancers that are awful.  So if everyone gets high ratings, how can you tell who is good and who sucks?

For most online platforms like Odesk and Elance, both the freelancer and the contractor get the chance to review each other after a job is closed.  So what happens?  You leave a freelancer a bad review for a crap job and they in turn leave you a bad review as revenge.  So what happens most of the time, even if the job was not satisfactory, many contractors will still give a freelancer a 4 start rating just so they will get one in return.  Other times the contractor feels bad because the freelancer was nice (but did a crap job), so it’s easier to give a good review and be gone rather then cause any friction.

It’s important to read through the reviews and look for clues

  • 5 star reviews but no supporting text or a one liner like “good job”. When I see this,  I discount it.  If a freelancer really did a great job, most people will take 10 seconds to write a few words of thanks.
  • If a new contractor only has 1-2 reviews and they are excellent.  I might take it into account if their are detailed words of praise for the freelancer, but if they are like the above, I will discount them.  This mainly applies to overseas freelancers (IMO) but sometimes they will hire themselves for 1-2 small jobs with another account and leave great reviews for themselves to get started.
  • Look for communication problems in the reviews.  Nothing is more frustrating than having a freelancer miss a hard deadline and then ignore your emails for the next 2 weeks while you go crazy.  If I see comments like “I don’t know what happened, she just stopped responding to my emails”, I know it’s time to move on.
  • Look at the timing of reviews.  If you see some bad reviews but they were from two years ago, it may not negate the several great recent reviews they have.  On the other side, if a freelancer has dozens of great reviews but the last 3 were mediocre, maybe you need to question them about what’s going on before you consider hiring them.

Don’t Trust Sample Work Unless You Can Verify It

I always ask for published work that can be attributed to the freelancer when possible.  Sometimes freelancers mislead people with their work experience and sample work so you need to look for verifiable sample work.  Just because they sent you a Word Doc with some articles in there or have screenshots of dozens of websites they built doesn’t mean it’s theirs.

Take the time to investigate their writing or websites they claim to have created, sometimes you’ll find another author actually wrote the article or an agency actually built the site they are claiming credit for.  Most of the time it’s impossible to verify, but it’s still good to investigate for obvious signs they are misleading you.  And don’t be afraid to ask more questions or to ask permission to contact the website owner to verify they created the site or wrote the article Their reaction to this request will usually give you the answer you’re looking for.

Be Very Clear About What You Want

I can’t stress this part enough.  When you work with a freelancer, be very clear about what you want.  If it’s a logo they are designing for you, please do not email them asking them to ” make something nice”.  Be clear what you want and give examples whenever possible.  When you communicate with your freelancer make sure you:

  • Use exact language.  “I would like a Helvetica font or something closely related” rather than “I want a really classic looking font”.  The more exact your language the easier it is for the freelancer to understand what you want.
  • Ask for hard deadlines.  Mutually agree on a hard deadline to finish the work and how often they should give you a progress report. Something like “So we both agree that you will have the Ebook finished and delivered by the 31st of this month.  And you will send me a progress report every Friday and also let me know if you think you may not be able to meet this deadline”
  • Have them repeat back to you the instructions you just gave them.  This is really important, especially for more complex projects.  If you are on a Skype call and you give instructions on the project, ask them to repeat it back to you in their own words to be sure they understand what you want.  You’ll be surprised how many times it’s different from what you actually wanted.  Usually this is more of a lack of clear communication on your part.  As time goes on, you’ll learn how to give laser focused instructions with little room for interpretation.
  • Only give one task at a time.  Don’t give them 10 different things to do at once, that’s the quickest way for things to get screwed up.  Give one task with specific instructions, when they have finished that task, have them start on the next one.  Every email I send to any freelancer only has a single task in it.

Take Baby Steps When You Start With a New Freelancer

When you first start working with a freelancer, take baby steps.  Don’t unload an entire project on them as a first step, ease them in.  Even with really good freelancers, you’re going to go through a breaking in period where there might be misunderstandings that need to be worked out or expectations that need to be set.  If I hire someone to write a 30 page ebook for me, I will usually have them start out by writing a blog article for me just to get warmed up.  It’s better to clear up misunderstandings and mistakes on a 700 word blog article than a 20,000 word ebook that doesn’t sound anything like you wanted it to.

You’ll become a better communicator

You’ll make some mistakes in the beginning when you first start hiring freelancers online, but they shouldn’t be that painful if you go slowly.  The best thing about learning to communicate with freelancers online?  You actually become a very good communicator because you aren’t there to look over someones shoulder and correct them, you have to be clear from the start.  This has made me a better communicator with my employees that I work with face to face.

So that’s it, hopefully you picked up some tips and are ready to give it a shot,  If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me a message.

Resources:

Odesk – Online platform for finding freelancers from around the world.

Elance -Similar to the above (same company owns both) for finding online freelancers.  Unlike Odesk, Elance lets you search by city in case you want to work with someone locally.

Virtual Staff Finder – A service from a very credible guy, Chris Ducker, who will help match you with a fantastic virtual assistant.

The Four Hour Work Week – Has a lot of info on outsourcing.  Never read it?  It can change your life.

Small Business Toolbox – July Seventh

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Creately – Powerful and free diagram software.  Work online and collaborate on projects with others.

Glip – Free messaging and productivity tool that lets you easily collaborate with others online.

Theodore-Roosevelt-Quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here

Small Business Toolbox – June Fourteenth

Each week I like to post useful tools and resources that you may be able to use for your business.  The resources I post here are either free or available at a low cost.I don’t go into much detail here, so feel free to check them out yourself and let me know what you think.  If you know of any great tools and services that will help small business owners, please share them in the comments below.

Loyal Blocks – Mobile app that lets you create amazing loyalty reward programs for your customers.  Uses NFC technology to push messages and promotions to customers as they near your store.  Free and paid plans available.

Unsplash – Find totally free, hi-res images for your website.  Royalty free.

Paulo Coelho Quote

Have questions about the best tools to use for your business?  Contact me with your questions and you can rest assured you will receive a response!  Contact me here