Category Archives: Hot Mess to Great Success

Trying Something New…Look, I Ubered

dove comprare viagra generico pagamento online a Venezia I just arrived in Orlando, Fla to watch Steph compete in a national cheer competition.  I’m enjoying two days of free time, and of course, always turn to writing.  Over the course of my adult life I have realized the awesome power of trying new things.  Some have written books on the subject, others lengthy blog posts.  For some it is easy, and others not so much.

levitra contrassegno italia I was told this week that I am one of those people who appear to have their lives together.  You will notice a section of my blog “hot mess to great success.”  While I appreciated the compliment I know all too well that sometimes I have it together and sometimes I do not.  Lately I seem to be falling into old habits – bad ones – and I am bored to death.

clomid drug class This trip is the first time in quite some time I am traveling without my husband.  I love when we travel together – there is an ebb and flow that we follow in our trips that includes chap stick and hand lotion on the plane…to the rental car…to us veering off the path and golfing in an RV park.   Since he wasn’t coming I made the travel arrangements which included staying in one hotel for the entire stay (the horror), no car…and thus…no way to get to leave the airport.  So, I used Uber.

Now, besides the insane number of security issues I have about being picked up in a strangers car, I also had lots of concerns about my credit card information and how long it would take for the car to arrive (have I ever mentioned that I HATE waiting?).  I decided I would embrace what everyone else calls amazing and just try it out – what did I have to lose – a few hours in the sun?

And ya know what I learned?  Uber is FREAKIN’ amazing!  I want to share my “new thing” journey with you so you can possibly use it in your own life or business in some way.

  1.  I researched the heck out of the idea before I landed – I always do this on my laptop with several tabs on my browser open.  I looked at shuttles, compared prices, estimated Uber prices, safety, and availability at the airport (do you know that at some airports there are “Uber lots?” – this fascinated me.
  2. I committed to doing this and not taking the chicken exit of a cab or shuttle – this was the most important part.
  3. I downloaded the app at home and then put in my credit card info so it was ready.
  4. As we landed I checked the wait time and then actual cost.  I read the info about pick-up and was off.  There was one 10 minutes away.
  5. When I got to ground transportation I placed my request and I saw  – on the map – the car headed my way.  I was told the driver’s name, type of car and how many rides he has given.
  6. When he arrived I waited for him to say my name (safety feature) and we were on our way.

I wasn’t proud of myself for figuring out the technology of this – I was reminded how important it is that something new can be easy and less expensive.  I did think it was weird that the driver was using the same car he transports his kids around in.  But whatever – it was clean and he was very kind.

When there is an opportunity for you to try something new – take it.  Be safe on all levels, know what you are doing…and who knows, you just might find an easy and simple solution to a problem you have been waiting to solve – and you just might have fun in the process!

Getting CEO Organized

Since I started my first website in 2013, I have gone through the ringer when it comes to the balance between work and family, working in and working on your business, ideal clients and not ideal clients…and attempting to figure out how to schedule my time.  Hence, a category on this blog “Hot Mess to Great Success.”

I was stunned when I launched my first great idea and heard crickets.  Started networking and reading about all these neat things that “they didn’t teach me in PhD school.”  I’ve held together my business with post-it notes and peanut butter.

And then there are the pile of excuses – as I have always known I have to get it together as I allowed my personal life to blindside me.  It seems like each time I attempted to put new systems in place the universe had other plans.  I would have a personal curve ball thrown at me (some good some horrific) or a slew of new clients would run in the door and I would abandon all plans and stop paying attention to goals…and systems.  I was a rat in a wheel.

However, with the start of 2018 I have taken the opportunity to say that for the first time I will achieve my goals – with relentless pursuit and never ending passion.  No longer will my personal life get in the way of my sales system.  The hot mess but great success that I was isn’t cute anymore – it is unbecoming of a CEO.

Here are a few things I have started…and that all entrepreneurs can start as well…to get their mind, body, soul and business moving forward.

go here Habits
I have a massive list of daily habits that I want to build and for me the only way to accomplish this is by writing it down and then ticking them off each day.  They range from 30 minutes of cardio to blogging to learning french.  Most of the things on the list I have wanted to improve upon for some time and…as I have stated to the universe…now is the time.

click Scheduling Every Single Last Thing
I took the time and figured out all of the different activities I need to spend time on each week – from writing and blogging to client work and tennis.  I then standardized it into a template so I can get in the habit of doing things on certain days at certain times.  I purchased a calendar that has the month view but also a page for each week in column form.  Each Sunday I block out my calendar – for instance, Wednesday morning from 8-11 is marketing brainstorming and writing, Mondays from 9-12 I am working on sales system touches.  In each of these categories I will have specifics of what I want to accomplish – little to-do lists.

siti sicuri per comprare viagra generico 100 mg pagamento online a Milano Sales
I have never had a sales system.  I’ve never had a way to reach out to cold leads, follow-up to those who show interest – or even follow-up after I send a proposal.  Now I have the systems in place so I can really start to sell – and track – and reach out.  I’ve heard the phrases “if you aren’t selling you are dying,” “sell like hell.”  Now I can do that because I have a plan in place for each step.

follow site Tracking
For someone with such an analytical mind I have not done a good idea of tracking…anything…for my business.  I’ve simplified my tracking systems and made sure they fit with my goals.  I’ve also standardized lists – so everything is in the same order as I move from daily, weekly and monthly notes to tracking sheets for the year.

I will say that on each of these topics I have done a tremendous amount of reading and introspection.  I’ve taken notes on what successful entrepreneurs do, what is going to work for me, and then what I am ready to commit to.  For me, the biggest piece of this is that commitment to relentlessly pursue my goals.

Know Thy Numbers

So for many reasons and mostly procrastination I have never tracked the numbers of my business.  You would think that with my analytical mind I would have a handle on the bounce rate for my website (how about just the number of visitors?), the number of blog posts I write, my moz ratings, and the ever popular ‘close rate’ on client proposals.

As I started my business my biggest metric was self-measured stress level as my phone did not instantly ring.  Then, as I signed clients I was all excited about the dollars pouring into my bank account…and the business was building I thought “ok, how big can this get?”  And life got in the way – moving and blending, getting remarried, saying goodbye and recovering through the end of 2017.

But no more…and I’m really sick and tired of guessing…not knowing…and being a little clueless.  Paying my bills, saving the maximum in a 401k, and still having money left over is no longer the sign of success.  I want to know what else is going on in my business – so as I scale I know where I need help.

To be clear, most questions about business growth can not only rely on a number – usually they also require some intuition, market research, temperature taking, and gut instinct.  But the start are the numbers.

As you start on your own path as an entrepreneur start collecting data.  This way, when someone asks how many visits you receive on your website, you won’t have to “guestimate”

Here is a small sample of the numbers I have committed to tracking – and what is so funny is that I put ‘tracking’ as a goal for this year by itself.  I’m doing these (and more) each month:

  1. Number of hot prospects
  2. Number of videos I send out
  3. Proposals sent
  4. Number of blog posts and LinkedIn long posts.
  5. Hours I work on goals for my business
  6. Number of visits to my website (www.jennifergardella.com)
  7. My Moz rating
  8. Number of 30 minute cardio workouts I get in.

The list is endless and enough to make anyone else’s head spin.  Here is what I have learned after 5 years in business – you can only track over time what you commit to measuring – and most importantly – is there value to any activity?

Webinar Review – The Four Pillars of Your Business

How to build your business?  I love to take calls with coaches and watch business coaching webinars of all sorts.  Typically I find them through Facebook ads or they have secured my email in some way.  I’m not specific in the types of coaching I need – they could be selling general business coaching, high ticket programs, Facebook and list building courses…whatever, I’ll listen.  Afterall, one of my honest statements is that “they didn’t teach me this stuff in PhD school.”  And I always learn something.

The webinars all follow the same pattern and are getting longer…and longer.  The typical webinar starts with “we need your undivided attention” and then continues for about 90 minutes.  Not sure where they learned this length was a good idea – but they must be successful.  They start with our pain points (overwhelmed, lack of predictability, not as successful as where you want to be) continue with their story, throw in testimonials, and at some point in the middle of all of that, they throw in a few teeny tiny pieces of content.  They talk about how whatever it is that they are going to tell you will dramatically change your entire business, your life, and you will shatter your goals – if you implement it.

I typically take significant notes,

Adam Davies.  It took him 12 minutes to introduce himself – I literally had no idea who was talking because his slides were not branded.  Apparently he founded CoachingWithYou.com.  He lives on the beach (most do) and promises that if you follow his instructions you too can have his amazing life…not sure about the hot wife he talks about…but I digress.

His claim is that you need one funnel – one offer.

The Four Pillars of a Successful Coaching Business

  1. One perfect offer – solves a specific problem, it is priced as a premium, and highly leveraged.  You are selling a result – and that result is critical to your ideal clients.
  2.   TeleFunnel (43 minutes in):  This is your ‘client conversion machine.”  Telephone funnel – I’ve never heard this one before!  The most successful coaching businesses have one.  Huh!  I took LOTS of notes.  Did he give you the exact formula?
  3. Facebook Ads to find your people (‘nuf said’).  Nothing is free if it is taking your time.  Spend the money to do what works….interesting.  What you pay is what you can get out.
  4. Get a mentor…huh, I wonder if he knows one?  Bill Gates has one…Adam himself has invested 10’s of thousands of dollars in a mentor.  You need someone who can help you steer the ship!  Don’t just float!

This was interesting.  He said that the list here to the right – is the icing on the cake.  These things won’t bring in clients.  This stuff will keep you busy – and the effort will not bring you the results you need.  You can exhaust yourself and still not have a consistent funnel.  You need all this stuff, but not until you have the four pillars.

I found this webinar incredibly informative and highly highly recommend you listening through to the end.  For each pillar he does give quite a bit of content which is unusual in a webinar.  I took a page of notes, wrote this blog post, and have some actionable steps I can take going forward.

What did I learn specifically…well, that wouldn’t be ethical for me to share…and you should hear it from Adam yourself.

Social Media Marketing

Social Media and Blogging to Build Your Business

Social Media Marketing
© | Dreamstime Stock Photos

I recently had the great honor of recording a presentation for a class at Del Val College here in Buck’s County, PA.  As a social media consultant I love sharing my knowledge with small business owners and this certainly feel into that category.  The professor of the class had the students prepare some questions – some related to social media and some to building my business.  During the conversation I realized this would make a great blog.

Continue reading Social Media and Blogging to Build Your Business

When You Need Help Starting A Business

Do you need help starting a business?  When I started my business I had an idea, expertise, a newly printed PhD.  I had my buddy Marcus Padulchick by my side (and even sitting on my shoulder), friends who would support me through anything, and a belief that I could build an empire.  With all of my grit and support I stumbled…many times.  I can remember hearing at a networking group that I needed a business plan…prospect management list and book keeper.  I searched for how-to’s while also managing a business that was taking off at warp speed.  I was struggling and I did not have to.

Don’t struggle through like I did…when you are starting a business your first stop should be the SBA.

Today I had the good fortune of attending the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce Women In Business Committee where Sonya Smith (Economic Development Specialist  at the SBA) told the group about the the services offered.  Over the years of building my business I have often said “they do not teach you about running a business in PhD school,”

Let me just state again, that SBA is a federal agency…the resources provided are free of charge for you.  So, when you have a business, starting a business, building your business (should I stay an LLC, how do I hire an employee) you can find resources to teach you what you need to know and make decisions.

Sonya Smith is an expert in helping small businesses grow in the greater Philadelphia area.  I have personally called Sonya with questions regarding the process of  getting certified as a woman owned business.  She is as kind of a person as she is knowledgeable and encouraging.  She helped me make a big decision and then encouraged me to run a workshop on social media at the SBA.

The SBA has many different programs, workshops and connections for you to take advantage of as you start and build your business including:

  1. Business Plans
  2. Capital
  3. Government Contracting
  4. Disaster Recovery
  5. Women Owned Business
  6. Veteran

 

Business Lessons from Getting My Hair Highlighted

Flying hair
© Cherrymerry | Dreamstime Stock Photos

This is not meant to be one of those “oh look, I have something to say and I’m going to cleverly tie it to getting my hair done”  This is an actual concrete real-world example when I learned the basics of business out of a life experience.

Let me start off by saying that for quite some time I have not loved my hair.  Up in a clip it has gone on all days.  I tried to get it highlighted before the wedding in July but the stylist told me afterwards “I didn’t give you the blond highlights you asked for because I didn’t think you would like them. ” Guess what…I didn’t like my non-highlighted blond hair or the $200 I spent to not get what I asked for.  In fact I sort of have issue when I don’t get what I want especially when I ask and pay for it.

My husband is convinced I was scared to get my hair highlighted and he is in large part 100% correct.  I would love it if we could all just age gracefully allowing our hair color to change over the years.  While I am a non-conformist in many ways I am also a realist and know that if everyone else is going to try to look younger I am not going to sit in a self-righteous slump and go grey.

So back to the same salon I trekked before Christmas.  Why?  Because it is the only organic shop in town and the thought of all those chemicals on my hair makes me a bit crazy.  When I called to make the appointment I did speak to the manager.  I explained that I was not really happy last time I visited and asked for the best colorist she had.  Oh my gosh, I walked out with the perfect result.  I mean, I love my hair.  So let me explain a few things I learned.

  1. You need a support team – this cut and color was in the works for months and required tremendous support from my bff Dannielle as well as the suburb hair coloring ability of Erin.  Without them this might not have happened.
  2. When you are not happy with a service you need to speak up – look, I wasn’t happy the first time around and the manager needed to know.  I didn’t scream, rant, rave or even ask for my money back.  I wanted her to understand that I was coming back for specific reasons and really was committed to finding a better person there to cut my hair.
  3. You need to be clear – I showed up with pictures and wording from Dannielle.  Basically I could have prepared a power point presentation on what was wrong with my hair and what I really wanted.
  4. You need to show grace – I am the first to admit that I had no idea what I was talking about when it comes to cut, color, decorating, styling, trends, (or cooking for that matter).  Yet, I am the client and should walk out happy.  This means I may have to go above and beyond and do my research to properly communicate what I want, and I need to do that in a non-superior tone that conveys I need the stylist’s help…no matter how much I hate spending (wasting) time being with her.

In building my business I have learned that grace, clarity, preparation and tact can go a long way when coupled with your expertise.  After all, I am the first person you should call if you have a social media or blogging question…no doubt about it.  But, I am the last person you should call to cook you dinner (unless you REALLY like pizza).

 

A CPA in Bucks County, PA

Michael Davis, CPA was at the first networking I ever attended as I started my business. Best_of_Bucks_2011_adOver these years I have found him to be one of the most honest individuals who is giving of his time (and knowledge) to his clients and friends.  Mike sat with me as my business started to grow and walked me through the systems I needed in place.  He gave me an abundance of advice in the type of retirement accounts I should set-up (what really is a SEP account anyway?).

Mike dedicates a significant amount of time to helping small businesses make more money and grow their businesses.  He has built a successful business for himself and wants to teach you how to do the same for your endeavor.  Mike is one of the most connected networkers I know and is happy to introduce you around.

While I am gifted in my expertise (haha) and the service I provide to my clients, I am continually learning about the running of a business.  This includes how to manage business finances, tax exposure and a 401k.  When Mike speaks I listen closely and today he spoke at the networking group we both beyond to.  Today, Mike shared these 5 key financial reports and how to use them:

  1. A daily profit and loss –  how much money have you made today?
  2. Sales report by product or customer – who spends the most with you and what product of yours is most successful?
  3. Accounts receivable  – who owes you money?
  4. Accounts payable – what are your outstanding financial obligations?
  5. Cash on hand  – how much cash do you have available?

Mike gives other great tips:

  • Pay as much of your business expenses on your credit card – you get miles.
  • Check out Quicken for your personal finances

This is not just a guy who can handle your personal and business taxes.  Mike will take the time to go over each detail of your business and look for the opportunity for you to maximize your efforts.

 

How to Build A Business Based on Your Values

Out and about promoting my business today I meandered to the home of Jamie Broderick  owner of Network Now Connections.  Jamie brought together thirty women for a morning of networking and building our businesses.  Our speaker today was no other than Sue Guiher of Thrive for Success.  She is an author, speaker, professor, and also an intuitive who helps you align your business with that which you truly value.

Sue discussed the importance of knowing what you stand for and creating a business based on your values and purpose.

Now let me just say that Sue Guiher is brilliant.  I worked with Sue to get to my core essences which are :  Trust (my lense), Uniqueness (fuel), and Courage (anchor).  When I worked with Sue she had me dig deep into myself and get to own who I really am.  As we uncovered those core values, so many pieces of my life that had caused great confusion or questioning to me in my life suddenly started to make sense.

source site Taking a Stand:  Connect with what you do.  So for instance, I stand for attorneys and business owners who want to build their businesses.  If you want to build and run a successful business you need to make sure you not only know your values but live through them every day.

The question is, what do you value and how does that connect to your stance?

http://cinziamazzamakeup.com/?x=prezzo-viagra-generico-25-mg-pagamento-online-a-Firenze Why are Values Important for Your Business:
Having done the values work, I will share that my core values not only seep into but also guide my businesses.   The problem is when we do not think about about our values and how they connect to our work.  Aligning our core values with our business can bring harmony to your whole person.  In fact, when you are out of alignment with your core values something doesn’t feel right, suffocated even adrift.

So the question is then, how strongly can you stand on your values.  What would sacrifice to maintain your values.  For instance, if you value integrity but knew a potential client was dishonest in their own interactions, would you still work with him/her?  What parts of you would you sacrifice for the sake of building?

Maybe, right now, you are having problems in your own business and you can not figure out why – maybe it is because you are out of alignment with your values and you do not even know it.

Sue’s mission is to help your business Thrive.  She wants to see each and every small business succeed.  She wants you to think big, then think a little bigger.  You are challenged to look inside and bring forth that which can propel you forward.

Remember, no value is good, bad, right or wrong.

 

How Video Can Help Your Business

If you are a small business owner, you know that importance of marketing your business.  You need a 0e2f51_d457c35270884e7697368e05f1db759dcomprehensive marketing plan (and one that you execute) that includes video.  I had the good fortune today of watching a presentation on the basics of video as part of the Business Growth Series at the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce.   Ann Marie and Don Polec of Sun Blossom shared their best tips.

Let me start off by saying that I have spoken about video and have helped my clients through many a video shoot.  The biggest hangup that many have is they do not want to see themselves on video. compra cialis generico en espana  You do not need to, nor do you have to ever watch your own video.  Let’s move on.

How do you shoot a video and what do you do with it?

Videos come in all shapes and sizes.  You can shoot them off your computer, your smartphone, a high-def camera, or you can have them shot by a professional. How long should a video be?  About 90 seconds.   Here are my best pieces of advice:

  1. Have a professional video shot for each of your core business areas.
  2. Shoot more informal videos of your blog posts off of a high def camera from your desktop or phone.
  3. Upload ALL videos to YouTube.  Make sure they are each well-tagged and transcriptions checked and corrected.
  4. Facebook: Facebook live shoot off of a smartphone over a follow url very reliable internet connection.  If you are going to use videos in ads, have them professionally shot.
  5. Twitter, Google +, LinkedIn – share them from your YouTube Channel
  6. Website:  Embed the professional videos on the related pages on your website.
  7. Blogs:  Shoot off of a high def camera right off of your laptop.  Upload it to YouTube and embed them into your blog posts.

Some great tips for making videos:

  1. Have a plan – this should come right off of your editorial calendar.
  2. Have a strong call to action (cta)
  3. Show boundless enthusiasm –  coffee helps.
  4. Remember your target audience.
  5. Each video should solve a problem of your target audience.
  6. It is all about who are you talking to – what challenge do they have – how can you solve the problem?

Here are some more tips that Don and Ann Marie shared with the group:

  • Do not hold your smartphone vertically.  You want the wide screen format
  • You do not need to be in the center of the frame.  Rule of thirds applies here – there are golden areas of attention – this has to do with the lines of intersection when you divide the screen into thirds – ask Don.
  • Background is important.  Random background with noise and people haphazardly walking around can be distracting.
  • Know, like, trust factor of marketing – video helps you with each of those.
  • Connections are made through eye contact within three seconds of meeting people – when you can not meet someone in person a video can give you that edge.
  • Always give away information in a video.
  • The attention span of the average American is about 9 seconds according to Don.
  • Video is the most effective marketing tool available to you today.
  • Nothing is more effective in getting your clients to know you than video.
  • Be enthusiastic – solve a problem – make them feel welcome
  • People will stay longer on your website if you have a video
  • It is good for SEO – better indexed

Video is fun…most importantly having video as part of your marketing plan can  drive traffic to your website, service, and/or storefront.

Ok everyone…I challenge you to get out there and go viral.

Setting Up a Business in Bucks County, PA

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Marshall Davis Powell Trachtman

If you are setting up a business in Bucks County, PA, there is a significant amount of behind-the-scenes work that needs to be done.  One of your first stops on the business set-up list should be a meeting with a business attorney.  Being properly set-up wtih legal documents in place is critical.

Marshall Davis is an business attorney in Bucks County, PA with Powell Trachtman.   He helps businesses and non-profits of all sizes set-up legal agreements and protections.  When he works with you, your current business, or your start-up you are educated in options and walked through the paperwork with the goal of you understanding.  While he likes to help you properly set-up, he is also available to help you untangle your do-it-yourself mess.

Marshall was instrumental to me in explaining several aspects of my business when I moved to the Bucks County area.  Of particular interest were the concepts of “piercing the corporate veil” and fictitious names.

During his recent presentation Marshall explained that all small business owners want to know how long it takes to get set-up with a business.  Marshall moves with you as quickly as you need to within reason.  He can get you a tax id number and start the entity formation process immediately – set-up may take only a day.

So, if you are starting a business, selling a business, or working out agreements with a supplier and other contracts within your business you should contact him to see if he will be a good fit.  As a side note Marshall also claims to have a 100% success rate in helping you reduce your tax assessment.

Always important when you are working with an attorney is to really understand their background and education (and lawyers LOVE to talk about their education) – Licensed to practice in Pennsylvania and New Jersey Marshall is lifelong resident of Bucks County, PA, Marshall has completed enough education to make this PhD shutter with memories.  He completed his undergraduate work at the University of Florida and then attended Temple University in Philadelphia for a JD, LLM (in tax), and MBA.

As always I always walk away from this meeting with a tidbit of inspiration:  You will find the key to success under the alarm clock…Benjamin Franklin – thank you Lisa Fry of Core Financial for the wake-up call – this early bird will get the worm.

Web Marketing in 2016

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Nickey Hollenback Personal Touch Concierge Services

If you network in the Doylestown, PA area, you have undoubtedly run across Nickey Hollenback.  She is the founder, and business woman extraordinairre of Personal Touch Concierge Service.  She is in the business of helping you run and market your business…virtually.

As a new member of the Central Bucks Chamber of Commerce, I have joined the Women in Business Committee (run by one of my new favorite networking buddies Catherine Cavella).  And today Nikki was our featured speaker on “Fresh Ideas for the New Year – Web Marketing.”  Here are the highlights of her presentation that can greatly help you in the marketing of your business:

  1. If you have not heard Facebook has rolled out some rather large video initiatives.  You can now live stream and run video ads.  Guess what?  Users love them.
  2. Get an app for your business.  They are the wave of the future.
  3. Wearable technology is the future. We have seen hints of this with Google Glasses and the iWatch.   Apparently Tommy Hillfinger is designing cell phone charging pants.
  4. Do not let your website get out of date.  Your website is the center of your internet presence and should be modern, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing.
  5. Content is king – so keep blogging and building your site.  But the shift will be to longer tail keywords and phrases that users are searching for as they talk into their smart phones to surf the web.  I have often stated you need to write content that your ideal market is looking for – how are you going to help them solve their problem?
  6. Have a social media stream on your webiste – I add to this and say make sure this part of your site is well designed and integrated.  Most of the streams I see are not well done.  I also add make sure you have social connect and share buttons prominently displayed so your visitors can share with you and share your content.
  7. Have a WordPress webiste.  The platform is SEO friendly, easy to use, safe, secure and media friendly.
  8. Do not ever have your webiste privately hosted.  You lose control.  I use GoDaddy, WP-Engine and Blue Host.  Nickey recommends Sucuri (which I will be checking out based on her recommendation).
  9. Mobilegeddon (not sure if she coined that term or not) happened in April – this is when Google started to devalue sites that were not mobile friendly.  What does that mean?  Your site should be mobile friendly.  According to Nickey, 87% of Millennials are never without their phones – mobile is important.
  10. While your website is your most important digital asset, your social media is critical.  Facebook and Pinterest ads should be part of your strategy.  Do not forget about Linkedin and Twitter (the cocktail party of the internet).  And Nickey perfectly described Google+ – that uncle you do not want ot invite to Thanksgiving but have to.  My experience:  Google+ is critical for search and the health of your webiste.

I have known Nikki since I started networking and was actually virtually introduced to her through Denice Whitely, another virtual assistant (talk about a woman who believes there is no competition).  We have occassionally crossed paths at other events and I am thrilled to have an opportunity to see her more at Chamber events.

 

The Employment Law of your Business

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Christine M. Reger Employment Attorney

As it turns out, you absolutely should not just pay someone to do some work for you in your business.  For operations big and small the hiring of any person to do any work should have a well thought-out plan with a keen eye on the law.

I recently listened to Christina Reger, an employment attorney at Bazelon, Less,  and Feldman.  You can connect to Christina on her LinkedIn profile.  

According to Christina – here are the 10 things you should consider when hiring:

  1. What is the job and how is the employee classified?  The Department of Labor mandates that employees be paid for every minute they are working.  Is an employee going to be considered full-time…salaried?  Hourly?  With limited exceptions, employees need to be paid overtime, measured by the week.
  2. Write your job description first.    What specifically are they going to be doing for you in addition to general tasks.
  3. Are you posting your job on your website?  Is your website ADA compliant?
  4. Where else can you post/advertise your job opening? Post in two places – at least – one should be print.
  5. Job application – does it comply with Ban the Box?  Is it an off the shelf application  and has it been checked by a local attorney?
  6. The interview – who gets called in?  How do you choose? Are you weeding out a protected class?  Think about who you are calling in and why – are they all business reasons?
  7. The interview part 2 – ten questions to never ask – this one I’m putting in a separate post it is so good.
  8. Background checks – FCRA requirements – you must inform the applicant of the background check – they must sign acknowledging it will occur – and the applicant should have the opportunity to review it and rebut anything you find. Running them often on your employees – they have to know so it is best to have a company policy.
  9. Social Media checks – you can do them – but you cannot ask applicants for passwords and you cannot stand over their shoulder while they sign into their accounts, and you better do the check on the applicant pool or at least your top 5 candidates.
  10. You’re hired!! Have a handbook, set of policies and clear explanations of hours and benefits.    If you have no handbook, you have no defense against any lawsuit.  For instance, if an employee sues becuase he was sexually harrassed, you best have a formal policy stating that behavior is not tollerated.

The biggest issue in the arena right now is paying people for their time…what happens when an employee takes your call at night, answers emails on the weekend, drives to the airport  to catch a flight for a business trip…that flight is cancelled…they wait in the airport…eeeegadddsss….as you can imagine, I was able to think of lots of scenarios where there are grey lines…and Christina wisely warned us, make sure anything an employee needs to do for work is clearly spelled out in your handbook, job description, and company policies.

Christina is a powerhouse of information.  Her knowledge and expertise in this area is not simply a career.  You can see she has a passion to protect the small business owner and would rather work with you now before you need her to defend you in court.

 

 

 

Developing a Marketing Plan for 2016

Nothing makes me happier as a social media consultant than when I sit down with a new client and they say “I have a website, the blog can be activated, and I have my messaging, logo and graphics in place.”

I recently had the opportunity to hear Laurel Cavaluzzo of Madison Marketing Communications.  Laurel is an accomplishment marketing consultant who can work with you on a full marketing plan, marketing message, coaching, training, and support.  She steps in to make sure your expertise matches with your goals, message, logo, color,….and just about everything else.

Here are her top tips for

  1. Write things down – you will not remember your great ideas.
  2. Have a marketing roadmap – this should be a cohesive strategy
  3. Who is your audience?  Know your target market and why they need you.
  4. Goals – and goals with no plan are just a wish.  Know your audience and how you are going to attack each one.
  5. “If you try to be all things to all people you wind up to be nothing.”
  6. Know what you do, how you do it, and who can use it.  Then make sure your messaging is clear.  Keep your wording simple.  How do you put your expertise into words?
  7. Messaging is one of the most important parts of your marketing strategy.
  8. Brand to position yourself as an expert.
  9. How will you measure your marketing efforts?
  10. Always be ready to move, shift, and do things a bit differently if you see opportunity to require changes.

What should be part of your marketing strategy?  Here is the list (I LOVE lists):

  1. Website:  well written articles about your core business areas and a blog to show your personality and highlight news, case studies, and short pieces of advice
  2. Data base and a newsletter
  3. Partnerships with powerpartners
  4. PR:  are you in the news, on the radio, in the paper, available to get links from online publications?
  5. Social Media (click her to learn about a GREAT social media consultant).
  6. Advertising – is it worth it to pay for PPC (Google adwords, Facebook ads…) newspaper ads?
  7. Event Participation and Sponsorship
  8. Networking – and what are you doing for follow-up?
  9. Testimonials are critical

Need to work with an expert like Laurel to get your message out?  Visit her website, give her a buzz at (703) 629-5693, or find her on Twitter at @LaurelinMadison (Oh, and I’m @DrJennyLynn), Linkedin, or like her Facebook Page

Why You Should Have a Blog for Your Business

I recently attended a Coffee Talk, NJ networking event centered around providing information to small business owners.  Connector extraordinaire, Hillary Morris, put together a program including blogger extraordinaire, Reesa Lewandowski.  Based on her experience building Momma Lew, Reesa discussed the benefits and a few details of having a blog for your business.

If you are here on the interent talking about the importance, I would assume that you are in resistance about starting one.  Why?  Well you are established, have a website, and have already been told time and time again that blogging is important.  It helps to continually build your website (which Google loves), shows your clients/customers your personality, and allows you to show expertise in a way that your regular website articles do not.

I provide blogging support to a select group of clients on a weekly basis.  They typically are too busy running their own business, they hate writing, and/or they want an expert researching exactly how to talk to their target audience.  On the other hand, I love to blog and have a knack for writing to reach a core audience.  My clients go to sleep knowing that their website is naturally building and for them, this is marketing money well spent.

Now, you may be wondering what golden nuggets of information I took from Reesa’s presentation.   There were a few:

  1. Let go of your fear.  I have found that most business owners have a fear of putting themselves out there either on social media or in a blog.  They have no idea what they should say and are fearful of getting started.
  2. Make sure there is an easy way for your readers to share your blog on social media sites.  On each blog post your social share buttons should be prominently placed allowing the reader to share no matter where they are in your article.
  3. Twitter is where “it” is at.  Twitter, the cocktail party of the universe, is the hot social media platform.  Build a following on Twitter to help drive traffic to your website.  Connect with me on Twitter.
  4. You want to make Google happy.  Most small business owners are, in some way, looking to rank in Google search.  To do this you need to pay close attention to the important factors of SEO.  Adding new fresh content to your website is the best way to improve the health and SEO of your webiste.

I’m writing this particular blog from a Starbucks in Bucks County, PA.   It is very early on a Saturday morning and I just dropped one of my daughters off at swim practice.  Taking regular time to write is important for me.  Plus, as a swim mom there is lots of coffee here which is good because my kid loves to be under water early in the morning these days.

There are an infintesimal number of articles here on the interent about blogging, seo, best practices, and just getting started.  If you have any questions, give me a call.

The IP of Your Business

Should I get a trademark…or a copyright…or a patent?

If you have asked yourself that question recently then it is probably time to sit with an attorney who specializes in intellectual property. Today I had the good fortune of sitting with Catherine Cavella of IP Works located in Doylestown, PA.  Catherine is an Intellectual Property attorney who helps business owners protect their logos, ideas, color schemes, website layouts and trade secrets.

You see, I have established and continue to build a business which helps small business owners position on Google+, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook.  As Your Social Media Expert my work sends clients to the first page of Google search,  has their office phones ringing off the hook, and causes them to hire more staff to handle a boom in business.

My business is scalable and I have lots of ideas in the hopper…with that growth comes many questions and concerns regarding protecting my look, my logos,  message, and processes I use to achieve success for my clients.  What can I trademark and how do I protect what I build is all very important.

As part of my push to turn my passions into a profit, I have learned that it is always wise to sit with experts when you have questions.  From accounting and paying estimated quarterly income taxes  to incorporating your busines without piercing the corporate veil, paying for consultations is always a good idea.

So now onto the presonal note – we all have those huge moments in our professional lives – your first large speaking gig or that moment when biz coach lets you buy him breakfast because you have met a specific goal (not a joke, that actually happened).  And I can add my meeting today with Catherine to that list. As a seasoned professional who herself is a small business owner (and has seen the inner workings of many small businesses) she told me I really do have something substantial to build and that I have a growth mindset.  I was honored to hear that from someone so successful.

As I go through these next stages of growth I am glad Catherine will be on my team reminding me of imporant legal tasks that need to be handled.

 

See you in the Cayman Islands…

So that was short lived….I recently posted about the thrill of making my first quarterly income tax payment.  And now I just made my second (due June 15th).  Honestly, this time around it was once again a thrill…but reality crashed a bit harder and the fun was very short lived.  While it is awesome to be building a business that is already turning a profit, it quickly hit me I do not like paying taxes on it.

Welcome to the party sister.

Over the years I have always heard jokes about how to hide money – Swiss bank accounts – closets in the Caymen Island (remember The Firm?).  So, during April, I set my sights on finding legal ways to stash cash.  TG and I marched around getting advice from financial advisers, an accountant, tax accountant, and a large financial institution.   Our goal is to find someone who resonates with us, we understand, appreciates where we are in our own financial relationship and my growing business.  It isn’t easy, especially since we, both as individuals and a couple, need a whole lot of explaining.

Anyone who works with us also has to have ALL the answers and know every nook and cranny of any financial vehicle we may read about on the web.  We like to know all options, analyze all angles, and we do not like making mistakes.  Hence the research and the meetings.

Here are a few realizations:

  1. You have to pay taxes.  At first I was under the grand delusion that I could sock away up to $50k (ish)  per year into a SEP or Individual 401k regardless of how much money I was making.  That sum would then significantly reduce my tax exposure.  But this leads to point #2:
  2. You have to pay yourself a reasonable wage.  You can only stash 20% of your income up to $50k (ish).  So, if you are making $100,000 you can only save about $20k per year.  Not chump change, but significantly less than what I originally thought.
  3. To be clearer, you can not sock all your money into a retirement account.  If you have limited living expenses (and live well below your means – imagine that), you might have extra money sitting around.  You can not just put it into a retirement account and then not pay taxes.
  4. Why… and this brings us full circle…because you have to pay some tax.  A point that sucks and keeps smacking me in the face.
  5. And then on a recent Google searching expedition, I found another article stating I could sock away 20% + and additional $17k.  Back to the experts I go I guess.

All of this is…well, very exciting.  To be at a stage in my business where I am able to think about saving a bit and to have a partner who wants to sit next to me and hold my hand as I figure it out is all very exciting.

If you are sitting in my shoes and want to know what to do with your own money, I highly recommend starting to read and then start talking to experts…many of them.  You will want to have a very clear picture of your financials right now and your projected tax exposure for this year.  As they say, any small business owner needs to know their numbers inside and out.

Oh, and yes, as a joke during one of the meetings I did ask about the Cayman’s, after all in the movie The Firm it didn’t look all that difficult to stash money in a closet in a condo.  Given the birth of the internet it has become a bit more difficult…turns out they can track you a little better.  And honestly, that would make me a bit nervous and all.

 

The Mastermind is even Stepping

Lots of amazing change and upheaval in my life during these last few months…a child making decisionsMastermind about college, clients walking into my business, my man and I deciding it was time to create our own Brady Bunch…I am moving.

One constant during this time has been the unending support of a rather eclectic group of women.  A mastermind group I was honored to be invited into….a holistic therapist, a published author, and a virtual assistant…oh, and me. When I first was approached with membership I thought to myself “why would they want me?”  The Virtual assistant was off and running with her business, and the published author was just that – with radio, speaking, and books.  I invited the therapist because she was just starting to build her practice and I love spending time with her.

For months now we have been meeting virtually via Google Hangouts.  We started as a group of women who wanted a bit of support each week as we each built our businesses. We ranged from “new to off the ground” to “not sure what I am doing,” and each have now realized significant success before we even hit our one year anniversary.  In our group space and private interactions each of these women have been my professional and personal sounding board.  They have taken on the role of mentor, friend, client, and sister.  At various times I have called upon each to solve a problem, recommend a service…and even just listen.

And now, I am thrilled to say, we have each outgrown our weekly meeting.  With crazy work schedules, clients, and life events we no longer need (or have time for) the weekly hourly session.  And we no longer have those “what do I do with this” type of questions.  We each now are faced with building the next step of our respective businesses…hiring staff…publishing the next book…managing tax exposure…

 

So, it appears that as I take my next big steps, my mastermind will step as well…to a monthly meeting, quarterly meeting…we will have to find a way to get together and support one another, talk about new issues and opportunities facing our business endeavors, and of course…being the personal support systems we have become.

If you are a small business owner just starting out, I highly recommend finding a supportive group of people to check in with on a regular basis.  And then, as you get bigger, know the group will change.  Be ready for it…it is all very exciting.