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Are You Working In Your Business Or On Your Business?

If you are an entrepreneur, a small business owner, or someone who is responsible for a specific business unit in your company, pay close attention. The difference between working in your business or on your business can make a HUGE difference in how successful you ultimately are.

Knowing the difference

Knowing the difference between working in your business working on your business is huge. Sometimes we can get trapped into thinking we are working on our business because of the level of importance we give an activity or task. When, in reality, we can actually delegate or outsource the “important” task or activity leaving us the creative space and time to breathe life into our businesses.

Key Clues That You Are Working “In” Your Business:

Working “in” your business ties you down with tasks and activities that can be easily automated, delegated or outsourced.

Examples of these types of activities include things like:

  • Payroll
  • Bookkeeping
  • Social media and content creation
  • Customer service
  • Some marketing functions
  • Answering phones
  • Answering emails

Many of the above tasks can be delegated to people like Virtual Assistants (VAs), freelancers, hourly employees and others can be automated

Working “on” your business centers your efforts, time, and energy around things that help your business gain momentum and move forward. Things like:

  • Developing strategies
  • Setting goals
  • Measuring successes
  • Creating plans
  • Ensuring focus
  • Investing in yourself (education, workshops, etc.)
  • Hiring the right people
  • Building systems
  • Leading a team to success

How do you determine whether you have been working in your business rather than on it? You probably already have a gut feeling. But, just to make sure you pinpoint it accurately, I recommend you do the following:

  • Grab a sheet of paper and pen
  • Divide the paper into 3 columns
  • Title 1 column “Tasks”
  • Title the 2 column “Delegate”
  • At the top of the 3rd column put your name
  • Under the “Tasks” column, list all the tasks you do on a daily basis. The best way to do this is to spend an entire week recording your daily tasks or “to-dos”
  • At the end of the week review the list
  • Put a check in the “Delegate” column for all of the tasks you could outsource, give to a VA, an employee, or automate (be realistic – not everything must be done by you!)
  • Put a check in the column with your name for absolutely every task that must be done by you.

Take a shortcut!  Download my worksheet HERE

Now that you have a sense of what type of tasks you can delegate or automate, it’s time to start! You may not be able to do everything all at once…that’s ok! Start with what makes the most sense, what you can afford, and then, grow from there. For me, the first thing I chose to delegate was bookkeeping! Bookkeeping was by far, my least favorite task to do – EVER! As a result of giving this one task away, my taxes are so much easier to prepare and my accountant seems to be a little happier too!

What are you waiting for? Go work ON your business!

Lucky In Business? Nope! It’s A Business Plan!

Sometimes, doesn’t it seem that some people just seem to be extremely lucky with their business? They tend to be on the fast track to closed business deals, higher numbers, more clients, etc. It almost appears effortless.

I know their secret!

Their secret is not edgy, sexy, or mystifying. It’s the result of the stuff you don’t see…behind the scene. As a matter of fact, their “lucky” business is the result of something called a plan. And, the plan is probably the result of several years of plans getting them to where they are today. You just tend to see the result as of right now. To you, this success seems like an overnight phenomenon but it goes much deep than that.

“People are rewarded in public for what they practice in private.” ~ Tony Robbins

Now that we know the “secret” behind business success, what goes into a business plan? Honestly, it can be as complicated and detailed as you want it to be or you can make it simple. Simple to understand and simple to execute. I tend to go for simple and something that can be adjustable.

Some of the things I believe that are non-negotiable for business plans are:

  • What problem does your business solve and how do you solve it?
  • Who is your competition?
  • What makes you different?
  • Goals – where do you want to be in 3 months, 6 months, 12 months, 5 years, 10 years?
  • How will you get there? What does the roadmap look like to get you to your goals? Who makes up the team to get you there?
  • How will you market your business, product, or service?
  • What does your social footprint look like? How will you expand it?

How do you put it all together? Remember how I said I like simple? I have prepared for you a simple, one-page, at-a-glance business plan you can keep with you to monitor how you are progressing towards your goals. Download the plan by clicking HERE.

Make it your mission to be a goal digger and have fun crushing goals!

© Lora Shipman, Keep It Local, LLC, March 11, 2018, All rights reserved

Got A 2018 Networking Plan?

I LOVE when one year ends and a new year starts.  It gives me the opportunity to start fresh and create new goals. 

Networking is the most effective by-word-of-mouth marketing you can participate in.  This is why a Networking plan is the one plan everyone should have in place before 2018 hits.

What goes into a networking plan?

That’s a great question!  Some of the things you will want to layout for your networking plan are: 

GOALS:

Why are you networking in the first place?  What do you want to get out of networking. Once you know why you are getting involved in networking you can fill in the rest of your plan.

GROUP:

What type of group do you want to be involved in.  Do you want to network through philanthropic organizations, interest groups, or a traditional lead generating and referral group.

ONE-TO-ONES:

The best way to meet others is to set up weekly one-to-one meetings.  These meetings will help you to build relationships and help others.  The more relationships you have and nurture, the more referrals you can begin to generate. 

PRESENTATIONS:

When given the opportunity to present to your networking organization, what types of topics will you talk about?  My recommendation is to plan for one presentation per quarter. It’s always good to have a presentation in your back pocket just in case you are invited to speak

30-SECOND COMMERCIALS:

What will your 30-second commercials look like in 2018?  Have several planned out and ready to go.  The key to 30-second commercials is to intrigue your audience so that they want to talk to you after the meeting or schedule a one-to-one.  Remember, the 30-second commercial is not a sales pitch.

FOLLOW-UP PLAN:

This is where most networkers fail.  They fail to follow-up.  What is your plan and how will you follow up with your fellow networkers.  Will it be through an email campaign, social media, one-to-one schedule, etc.  Take some time to map out what that looks like. 

The above are just a few ideas of how you can make the most of your networking efforts during 2018.

Have a profitable week!

~ Local Lora

5 Tips for Creating an Effective Cause Marketing Campaign

It’s that time of year again!  In your mailbox, between your favorite shows, at check-out registers and even outside your grocery stores:  “asks” for money.  Good causes doing good things for our neighbors, our community, and our world.  In fact, there are some 1.5 MILLION not-for-profits ($25K or more in revenue) in the US.  So the question begs, if my personal donation can do so much good, I wonder what my business donation could do?

The answer is LOTS – for both your charity AND your business.  It’s called “Cause Marketing” – aligning a for-profit with a not-for-profit (NFP) for a win/win.  Engaging with an NFP is not only good for your heart but good for your top line, too.

A good Cause Marketing campaign can increase your sales by 19%*.  Some 85% of customers will change brands related to a Cause they care about, 66%* will spend MORE for a product and 63%* will TRY a new product.  Just as important, 66% of millennials decide where to work and shop based upon a company’s Cause.  Hint, hint:  these same millennials will also share your Cause (and promote your business) through their own social media channels and 82% will tell friends and family about the Causes and companies they support.

Doing well by doing good also means doing it right, too!   Here are a few best practices for creating an effective Cause Marketing Campaign:

1. Do it for the right reason!  People are smart enough to see if your charity campaign has no passion behind it.  It’s not about you looking good – it’s about the Cause doing great.

2.  To go big, stay home! There are a great many national charities doing great things; however, a donation to a smaller, local charity could be literally a life-saver in serving your local neighbors.

3.  Choose a cause which aligns with your company.  Restaurant? Consider a food pantry.  A store or salon catering to women?  Think domestic violence, female veterans or local cancer support groups.  Ask your team, your customers, and ask yourself – where does their (and your) passion lie?  Most customers actually want to participate in your cause with a separate donation – they want to be part of a solution.

4. Choose wisely.  Reach out to the local charity.  Meet with them to brainstorm ideas for either financial or time donations (many need volunteers throughout their year for their own fundraisers).  See if their board members would be good partners for your business and your campaign.  Your “real estate” (meaning your social media platforms, office, retail shop, salon, employees, and customers) can expand their own brand in the community – giving them even greater access to donors and volunteers.

5.  Donate wisely.  Work within your own business model.  A % of the sales price or a specific amount for each sale? An hour of service for each sale?

Make it easy to sell BOTH your Cause and your Donation.

Cause Marketing can be a game changer for your business:  differentiating you from an increasingly competitive marketplace, building stronger relationships with your customers, helping to recruit new employees and engaging current team members.

As you build your 2018 Sales and Marketing Plan, consider adding a “Cause Component” to your business!

Editor’s note:  Your Keep It Local organization is looking to align with a Cause in 2018.  If you have any recommendations, please send them to Sheila@CatalystGetsResults.com

* All statistics come from various studies conducted by Cone Communications.

Thank you, Sheila Neisler for providing this week’s insightful article!  Sheila is currently working with Keep It Local in the capacity of Cheif Marketing Officer.

To learn more about Sheila Neisler and Catalyst – A Marketing Company, click HERE.

The LOST Art Of Following-Up – 12 Creative Follow-Up Ideas Inside

Could you be missing business and important connections because you fail to follow up?

Yes!  You are! 

It is not enough to show up to a networking meeting or event and shake hands and collect business cards.  It is what you do AFTER shaking hands and collecting business cards that matter.

Lots of times people get stumped about what to do next when they meet people who can really impact their business.  GREAT NEWS!  Below are 12 creative ideas you can use to follow up and re-connect with people after meeting them, shaking their hands and collecting their business cards:

  1. Call and get a one-to-one meeting scheduled on the calendar and start building a relationship!
  2. After your one-to-one meeting send a handwritten note to their office thanking them for taking the time to meet with you.
  3. “Like” their Facebook page and start engaging with their Facebook posts by either sharing valuable posts with your followers or write a positive comment on Facebook posts that provide value.
  4. “I saw this and thought of you!” Send a helpful article or white paper via email.
  5. Send an invitation to a useful workshop, non-sales-y presentation, networking event, party, or mixer.  This is a “no strings attached” invite.  Again, make sure it serves a useful purpose for the person you are inviting.
  6. Drop off doughnuts or bagels to their office along with several copies of your latest newsletter.
  7. Connect on LinkedIn and give an endorsement.
  8. Call to say hi and check in.
  9. Introduce and connect them with someone who is beneficial to their business.
  10. Write a review on Facebook or Google.  Be authentic.
  11. Add them to your holiday greeting card list.
  12. Offer to provide a free audit, sample, etc.

PRO-TIP:  Schedule another one-to-one to continue to build your relationship.  Schedule regular one-to-one meetings to continue to build and nurture your relationship.

The 12 ideas above will help you and your business remain memorable for the right reasons.

A Good Marketing Plan Starts with a Strong Personal Brand

What is a personal brand and why does it matter to your business?

A strong personal brand is vital to your business because it gives a sneak peek into what people can expect to experience when they deal with you and the business you represent. 

Your personal brand is a statement that says:

“This is the face of my business and this is the level of service I am willing to provide.”

The above statement is made through 3 things that make up your personal brand:

1.  VALUES

Your Values and what you hold important in everyday life.  Knowing what your values are and using them in your messaging is probably one of the most important things about personal branding.  This one portion of your personal brand is the ingredient that determines whether someone will trust you with their business…or not.

Action Step: Make a list of which values are most important to you and then ask yourself if you are authentically practicing these values.  Values can be things like:

Ethics, Fairness, Accountability, Punctuality, Formal or Informal, Community Driven, Innovative, Forward Thinker, Leadership, etc.

2.  ABILITY

Based on what you say, prior work experience, current clients, and, your affiliations all scream volumes about your ability.  In short, all of these things answers the question customers and clients always ask themselves about you:  “Do you have the knowledge and skill it takes to get the job done?”

Action Step:  Do a self-assessment.  What skills and knowledge do you need to increase in order to improve your personal brand? 

Execute:  You can increase your knowledge and skill set easily today through online courses, webinars, podcasts, do-it-yourself videos on YouTube, etc.

PERFORMANCE

Maybe you have the know-how to get the job done.  The real question will be, how well can you get the job done.  Will you pay attention to detail, see the job through and do what it takes to ensure the finished product is something that both you and your customer or client will be proud of?  Take it one step further, how much would you pay to get the same job done for yourself?  Based on your answer, challenge yourself.  Are you really putting a high level/dose of the “performance” ingredient of a personal brand into your work?

Action Step:  If there is room for improvement, take action!  How can you improve your work, making it more valuable to your customers and clients?

Going Forward…

Think about your values, ability, and performance with every conversation, action, and piece of work you do.  Constantly ask yourself three questions:

  1. Is your work, actions, behavior, etc. all in alignment with your personal brand values?
  2. What knowledge, skill, or further education do you need in order to improve your personal brand and your final product?
  3. Are your results and finished products a reflection of how you want people to perceive you?

If your the answer to the above is not “yes” each and every time, challenge yourself to do more and to do better, causing you to tweak and develop your personal brand each and every time!

Remember, personal branding is not an overnight thing.  It is a journey, not a destination.  You have a choice each and every day to make your personal brand better through daily interactions, decisions, follow-through, work quality, etc.

The work you put into your personal brand and the better it becomes will translate into better clients, more customers and a higher income.  Is it easy?  No.  It is tedious, hard work that involves challenging yourself and pushing yourself, even when you don’t want to “go” anymore. 

The choice is up to you!

My Favorite Productivity Apps – 2017 Edition

Every year I write an article about which apps are my favorite and why.  Each year, there are some apps that remain on the list year after year.  There are also some that fall off which are replaced by new, more effective apps.

When used for their intended purposes, apps can be a great way to make your workday more productive, effective and efficient.

Here is my list of favorites for 2017:

HootSuite (Mobile & Desktop)

FREE & Paid

This app is my favorite social media scheduling app.  I love it for its simplicity and for the opportunity for me to bulk schedule social media posts at one sitting.  You have the availability to schedule up to 30 posts on up to 3 social channels for free.  It is also a great tool to use to follow trending topics and hashtags on social sites like Twitter.

MailChimp (Mobile App & Desktop)

FREE & Paid

This tool is great if you send out regular email blasts to your target audience.  The templates are clean, professional looking and easy to navigate.  Added bonus – great analytics!  Learn about your audience and what type of email content they appreciate most, the links they click on, which emails are shared with others, etc.

PodBean

FREE

Listening to podcasts is a great way to deepen your knowledge on any topic.  Again, this is an app I love because of its simplicity.  It is easy to navigate and a great way to stay on top of new and trending topics.

PosterMyWall.com (Website)

FREE & Paid

Need a snazzy way of announcing your next event?  PosterMyWall.com is full of eye-catching poster templates that are easy to edit.

canva.com (Website Desktop & Mobile App) 

FREE & Paid

Canva is a great app to use for graphics.  It is perfect for creating social media posts and banners and it also has template options for things like stationary, posters, business cards and flyers.

Google Calendar (Desktop & Mobile App)

FREE

This is a great way to manage all of your calendars in one place.  Our lives are multi-faceted and so are our calendars.  Google calendars is a great way to stay on top of your schedule across several devices.  No matter where I am or what device I have handy, I am able to have my schedule at my fingertips!

Google Drive (Desktop & Mobile App)

FREE & Paid

Many times I work on the go.  Google Drive has allowed me the freedom of not having to not lug my laptop with me everywhere I go.  As long as I have an internet connection, I can create and edit documents from my phone, iPad or laptop by using Google Drive.  It has made me, my clients and my teammates extremely efficient.

iBooks (Apple product)

If you are like me, you read several books at the same time.  What I love about iBooks is that you have the ability to carry around as many books as you want with you on one device.  Another added benefit is that iBooks is synced to all of your Apple devices.  That means you can start reading a book on your iPad and then pick up where you left off on your iPhone or vice versa.

Amazon Alexa

FREE & Paid (The Alexa device plus the Alexa app is needed)

Alexa device hit the scene hard right around Christmastime of 2016.  If used to its potential, it can do more than play music.  In our household, we use Alexa to manage our grocery lists, to-do lists, take incoming voice messages from other Alexa users, turn lights and other smart-electronics on and off, shop for us on Amazon, provide daily news, set alarms and timers, play games like Jeopardy and so much more.

Many people say that apps, smartphones, and tablets can be time-cows.  Possibly…If you allow them to.  But, I like to think of them and use them as time efficient tools to help me work smarter, not harder!

Try a couple of the apps, sites, and devices listed above and let me know how they have changed your life.

Do you have a few apps that you like which weren’t mentioned here?  Let me know what they are!  I LOVE trying new apps and learning new time-saving tools!

Have a profitable week!

~ Local Lora

Are You A “Spooky” Networker?

It’s time to take inventory and determine if you are a “SPOOKY” Networker and ask yourself the tough questions as to why you are not getting:

  • Leads
  • Referrals 
  • One-to-One meetings

Many times people approach networking the wrong way.  Are you making some of these tops mistakes?  Check out what makes my top 5 networking mistakes and what you can do instead.

Instead of…

1.  Having no networking plan, create a winning networking strategy.  Why do you show up to networking meetings and events?  Is it because you were told in order to be successful, you need to join a networking group and attend events.  While that is true, you just cannot show up and expect business to come your way.  You MUST have a plan.  Your plan should answer these 5 questions:

  1. What are you going to accomplish at the networking meeting or event?
  2. Who do you need to meet?
  3. Why do you need to meet them?
  4. How can you help the people you meet?
  5. When can you schedule a follow-up meeting or one-to-one?  

If you cannot answer the What, Who, Why, How and When of networking, you don’t have a plan.  Without a plan, you will get zero results leaving you saying “networking just doesn’t work!”

2.  Being a card dealer, collect business cards.  So many times I have seen people at networking meetings and events dealing out their business cards like a pack of playing cards at a blackjack table in Vegas.  Instead of passing out as many cards as you can, collect as many as you can with the intention of following up with each and every card you gain.

3.  Attending with the wrong attitude, attend with the goal of how you can help others and with the intention being a connector.  If you attend networking meetings and events with an “all about me attitude” you will miss out on some great connections.  The more you can connect and help others, the more you will stay “top of mind”.  When you help others, they will look for ways to return the favor.

4.  Selling, ditch the pitch!  No one likes to be sold.  People tend to shut down and stop listening when someone is trying to sell them.  Instead, learn more about the other person and what they need to help them propel their business. 

5.  Not following up, stay in touch!  Networking is all about building relationships.  After you leave a networking meeting or event, follow up with the people you met there.  Schedule one-to-one meetings and continue to nurture the relationship afterward.  Easy ways to nurture relationships are to:  schedule regular meetings, introduce your contacts to key people who can help, send thank you notes when appropriate, forward helpful articles and information, place phone calls to keep in touch, invite your contacts to upcoming meetings and events to help them meet new people who can help them grow their business.

I hope these 5 tips help you become a better networker! 

Have a profitable week!

~ Local Lora

Identify Your Target Market In 3 Steps

Marketing and finding clients or customers becomes easier when you know who you are are looking for!  Use my 3-Step process to help you identify who you should be marketing to starting RIGHT NOW! 

Grab a pen, a piece of paper, and LET’S DO THIS!

STEP 1:  YOU Are A Problem Solver!

How do I know this?  Because you have a product or service.  All products or services solve problems or relieve pain.  

You need to be hyper-aware of all of the problems you solve for people.  To become hyper-aware, list all of the problems your product or service solves. My favorite way to do this is to use a clean sheet of paper and make two columns.  In the first column list, the problems your product or service solves.  In the second column, describe how you solve the problem in the first column.  Be as descriptive as possible as to how you solve the various problems you list.  The description portion will help with designing marketing materials later.

STEP 2:  Play Favorites

Describe who your favorite customer is to work with and why.  This will make the process of identifying your target market much easier.  Why?  You already relate to the business, understand the customer’s pain and most importantly, you already know how to alleviate the pain or solve their problem.  

In this section, write down your favorite customer’s name, the problem they have, and how you provide a solution.  

Now you can craft a marketing plan to find customers or clients who fit this description.

STEP 3:  Get laser focused.  

Identify exactly who has the problems you are solving in STEP 1.  Get specific!  Really spend some time on this step and brainstorm as much as you possibly can.  The more detailed you are about your target audience, the better.  

Identify the following about your target market:

  • Male or Female
  • Married or single
  • Divorced
  • Widowed
  • Do they have children
  • Own or rent a home
  • Live in an apartment or single family home
  • Pet owners
  • Hobbies & recreation
  • Education
  • Age range
  • Favorite social media platforms
  • Do they listen to the radio or use services like Pandora or Spotify?

The above are only a few suggestions of what you should use to paint a portrait of your ideal customer.  My recommendation to you is, do a deep dive!  Get very descriptive about who your target market is.  

Once you have their portrait cast, you can be more effective with your marketing message and which vehicles you need to use in order to reach your target audience.

Now that you have a good understanding of your target market, you can confidently design and plan an effective marketing plan to reach the audience you desire.

Have a profitable week!

4th Quarter Best Practices – #FinishStrong

We are in the last leg of 2017.  Here are some things you may want to look at during 4th quarter to help you finish strong.  Use my 3 step plan to help get you there!

Step 1:  Review Your Goals

At the beginning of 2017, you probably made a list of goals you wanted to achieve during the year and you probably prepared a plan and strategy to follow to make it all happen.  Q4 is the last chance you have to review, pivot and make last minute changes to get your business on track for a strong year-end.  Start the process by asking yourself these 4 questions:

  1. Which goals have you met?
  2. Which goals are you still working on?
  3. Are your goals in alignment with your primary objectives?
  4. Which goals are still important for you and your business and which are not?

Step 2:  Set an Action Plan

Based on how you answered the questions above, determine an action plan to figure out how you will get them completed by December 31, 2017.  Your action plan will need to answer the question of “Who will do what and when?”

Step 3:  Execute

Don’t waste any time!  Get laser focused on the last goals you need to accomplish.  Don’t try to tackle big goals in one day.  Break each goal down into small tasks.  Determine what needs to be done, how long it will take, and, in what order to get your goals accomplished. 

Here’s what works best for me…  

After breaking down my goals into smaller tasks, I set 3 daily priorities that must be completed in order to inch me closer to the completion of my goals.  The daily priorities are non-negotiable and must be met by the end of the day.  This practice really helps me to filter out non-essential distractions and other people’s priorities.  You will be AMAZED at what you can accomplish when you follow this simple, systematic approach.  

The advice given is not edgy, sexy or rocket science.  It is all about pure will, determination, and consistency that will get you to your desired goal. 

Here’s to an amazing Q4!  Good luck and let me know how you do!  #FinishStrong!

Have a profitable week!