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My 4 Biggest Business Mistakes

Posted: 2014-03-27
Not Perfect?
When you ask most entrepreneurs how business is going, you’ll get the typical flowery response of contracts, commitments and lots of capital. I’m pretty open about my journey. There have been both shortcomings and successes. You will see the results of my accomplishments in my balance sheet. Let’s talk about my mistakes.

No Plan

Sometimes you get so busy you forget to plan. Organize your day, week, month and year. Write down your plans for marketing, sales and research. How much are you going to spend on new products? Attending conferences? Attach a timeline to each task. At the end of the time period, review your plans. Did you achieve your goal? Football players begin each season with a plan for success.  What does your plan look like?

Plan for Your Goals

 

No Money

You are going to need some capital. I know it sounds bad, but I started my fist company with no money in the bank. That’s right – no plan AND no money. When you don’t have money, it is even harder to get money (business loans). Similarly, it is hard to fill up your car, buy plane tickets or meet with clients when you don’t have money. When you start a company with no money you start a company with massive credit card debt. That’s a bad thing. 

No Follow Up 

Following up with prospects and clients is good customer service. Have a plan (there it is again) for how you will follow up with leads and customers. When I worked for the top tech company in the world, my team had a policy in place to not miss any phone calls, and they would follow up on emails within 1 hour. We also followed up on new leads within 24 hours. Prospects and customers will appreciate the attention. Make sure the process is defined and you (and your team) follow through. 

No Customers

This is the kiss of business death. If you don’t have customers, you won’t make money. If you don’t have customers, you can’t follow up with them. One of my early business mentors asked me on the first day, “Who is going to buy your service TODAY.” Always keep a list of people who are ready to pay you for your service or product. At the minimum, have a plan for acquiring customers. My initial thought was that I had a great idea, and people will start coming to me. That was not the case. 

These are not the only mistakes I have ever made in business; these are just the top four. Everyone is going to make mistakes – business, sports, education. The difference between the person in the corporate boardroom and the one reading about them is the business owner didn’t quit. Remember: “To error is human; to make money is divine.” (my paraphrase) 

Scientifically Speaking, of course.  

Next Week: 4 Forgotten Social Media Platforms

How To Build Your Twitter Following

Posted: 2014-03-13
Anyone Listening?

If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around, does it make a noise? The same questions can be asked of Twitter. For businesses to have a real impact on Twitter, their clients must be listening. How do you get people to listen to what you are saying? Listen to them first.

Just a Conversation

I reassure a lot of my clients that Twitter is just a conversation. It’s an exchange of information between two or more parties. If we look at Twitter like this, then we know how to make friends.

Twitter is more than just a numbers game, but it is important to have people listening to your message. Here are 4 simple things business owners can do to increase their following.

Listen First

While you are waiting in line or on hold with your cable company, get on Twitter. Look the tweets that are coming across your news feed. Retweet and favorite the information that people are publishing. After you have sent their information to your followers, send them a public tweet telling them thanks for writing it. This type of engagement will draw people to want to read what you are saying.

Are you listening?

 

Utilize Resources

Sites like Hootsuite and Tweetdeck allow you to schedule your tweets. You can also use these resources to watch for keywords, handles and hashtags. Consistently tweeting can help build engagement as it increases your content sharing. Tweet chats are a great way to join in conversations with like minded professionals. Following the twitter chat, send some of the attendees a note of thanks.

Show Your Personality 

Be open and positive in your tweets. People like to see friendly statements. Consider sharing an inspirational story or quote. With all of the negative events and emotions in the news, encouraging and motivational tweets perk up people’s days like a fresh cup of coffee, especially when they come from a company. Even #FF (follow Friday) can be used to build your following. It let’s people know that you are publicizing them and their content.

Content

Social media success begins and ends with the content you provide. Tweet unique and interesting information. Twitter is a micro-blogging site, and blogging is a great way to brand yourself as a subject matter expert. If your company specializes in vegan recipes, tweet news recipes (with pictures) that you find.

By a margin of 64%, people are more likely to buy from brands they follow on Twitter (infographic). The same trend holds true for Facebook. Even though people may buy from you, don’t oversell. Brands that consistently info about their products and services are quickly “unfollowed.”

Scientifically Speaking, of course.

Next Week: Forgotten Social Media Platforms

4 Pre-Presentation Tips

Posted: 2014-02-27
When Does It Start?
Your presentation “starts” before you stand up, approach the lectern or even open your mouth. An effective presentation begins before the audience even arrives. As a technology and communications consultant, the majority of my work takes place at my desk, in my office and involves me holding a pen and paper (old school). How did you prepare for your last presentation?

It Starts Before You Start

When I coach business owners on mobile technology or social media use, I am constantly interrupted with questions and requests to go back to a certain page. That is what makes my workshops dynamic and engaging. The benefit to the audience is that these welcome comments and dialogue do not dissuade the delivery of my message. Ultimately, the audience still receives understandable and memorable information. 

To deliver this type of presentation takes four actions that I implement before I stand up.

One Thing

There should be one key element people MUST leave with. If they can’t recite that one thing back to you in the end, they are not allowed to leave (just kidding). Spend time formulating your presentation around one key topic. If you do not know what that one central point is, your audience won’t know it either. Writer Jessica Stillman envisions a central point as a spine with other elements branching out from it. There should be a direct connection between anything presented and that key element.

Don’t Forget to Practice

Who Are They

Before I begin any of my iPad / iPhone client events, I work the room. I walk around and talk to people about the device(s) they brought with them. I talk with them about their favorite apps and any frustrations they are experiencing. Why are they there? What do they want to learn? This action allows me to connect with them, and helps me focus my talk. I sometimes use their name during the presentation to draw them in and make them feel included. To make this tactic successful, I have to…

Arrive Early

Everyone has had something go wrong during a presentation. The bulb goes out on the projector. The laptop stops working. The television falls off the wall (yeah, that happened to me). If you arrive early, you can test the equipment, meet the audience (see number 2 above) and get a drink (of water). Most of my clients are amazed that I arrive before they do. As my Boy Scout Troop Leader Mr. Andrews taught me, “It is better to arrive 1 hour early, than 1 minute late.”

Practice

Steve Jobs practiced. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. practiced. Even I practice. When I am teaching business apps to business owners, I know the 12 – 14 apps I am going to demonstrate before I start talking. I know how they will look and perform on the screen. I know the pros and cons. If my iPad stops working, I have a back up. I even have funny stories to share while changing out the device. All of this seems natural to my audience, while I am secretly sweating with fear on the inside. I never miss a beat because I practiced.

These four pre-presentation tips will help your audience understand and remember your topic of discussion. Everything you do is about increasing the audience reception of information. If they are not happy, you won’t be happy.

Scientifically Speaking, of course. 

Next Week: $19 billion Worth of Eyes