Month: August 2019

Boundaries and Balance

As an entrepreneur, I have found that I need to remind myself that I need to take time for myself. This may sound a bit strange, but it’s true. Those that know me, know that I have worked a wide variety of positions and shifts but being an entrepreneur is different. It’s harder to turn off my brain because I never leave work, even when I say that I’m done, I am never really done for the day.

This week has been rough for me. Life happened, plans changed, and the feels hit hard. I overbooked myself last week. I try to keep my schedule flexible yet workable for myself as a large part of what I do is creative work which I thoroughly enjoy. I also know that for me to be able to be creative, I need to be able to access that part of my brain which can’t be done if I am running. Running from meeting to meeting. Running around my house trying to keep the laundry caught up and dinner on the table. Running to the store for groceries or supplies or to the doctor’s office for checkups. What was missing from my week of running was time for me.

As an entrepreneur, I know that we often put ourselves on the back burner and this more often than not, leads to problems. Simple problems such as paying the business credit card with your personal account instead of the business account. To larger problems such as forgetting to eat, missing time with family, and feeling overwhelmed and lost. These are not amazing feelings and can lead to even larger issues.

As a small business owner, I am learning that I need to prioritize myself just as much as I do the business. To do this, I am working on making my schedule to reflect my needs as well as others needs through setting boundaries and finding balance. Not that long ago, I would answer client phone calls whenever they called including weekends and later at night. I found that I had difficulties finding balance between work and family. I felt I was constantly being pulled in two different directions and neither one allotted time for little things, like taking a shower!

Boundaries and Balance

By setting boundaries, I found that I was able to spend more quality time on the work I agreed to take on, my family, and most importantly, myself. However, it is not easy to maintain these boundaries, as evident by stretching myself too thin and having felt the stress of it all this week. As I have found that I need to remind myself of this simple truth, I am certain I am not alone. So here are things I have found that have helped me:

 

  • Setting Determined “Work Hours” – Yes, there are times when I work beyond these specified work hours such as networking events but on the whole, I devote time between 8am to 5pm for work. This is the time that if a phone call comes through and I can answer, I will. I respond to messages, emails, work on projects, update my personal social media, attend meetings, and all the other wonderful things devoted to the business.
  • Find A Balance With “Work Hours” – For me, this means 2 business related meetings a day. No more. Any more than 2 business related meetings a day leaves me feeling as if I have run all day and zaps any creative juices that may be flowing. I am still able to think of all of the things, but actually accomplishing those things becomes much more difficult when I am trying to squeeze in things between meetings.
  • It’s Okay To Do Other Things During “Work Hours” – Here’s a big truth bomb for me and one that I have difficulty with. No matter what you do, you cannot constantly work. Taking time to do things that need to be accomplished outside of work is okay. Now, I’m not saying take a few hours and binge watch a show but it’s 100% okay to take a break to throw in a load of laundry, vacuum the stairs, walk the dog, whatever it is that you need to do. Not only do I feel more accomplished at the end of the day, I also feel less stressed when I do put down the computer/phone/iPad for an hour or so and focus on something else for a bit.
  • It’s Okay To Take A Day Off – Oh, this is a tough one for me. I feel guilty taking a day off because I’m thinking about all the things that I “should” be doing, and this can include literally all of the things. This leaves me feeling that I am behind in life and that sneaky depression starts to seep in. When I feel this way, I tell myself things I would never, let me repeat that, I would never say out loud to anyone, ever. When I find myself starting to think on all of the things that I “should” be doing, I know I need to step away for a bit and take some time off.

In setting these boundaries, I have found that I am able to find a better balance in my life (and yes, more frequent showers). If I have found one thing that all entrepreneurs have in common, it is that we all have times when we feel alone. In this rather personal post, I hope that you know that you are not alone. We’re all in this together.

Quality over Quantity – Chasing the White Rabbit

At Symbiotic Marketing, we focus on building up your social media following organically. This means our focus is quality over quantity. We want to build an audience that is active and engaged with your social media. Before discussing how this is done, let’s discuss the difference between a quality audience over quantity.

As a business owner, I have been on the receiving end of many emails, phone calls, and messages offering to assist with lead generation. The businesses contacting offer ways to increase my leads and assist with getting new clients. This sounds wonderful in theory. Who wouldn’t want lots of possible contacts who would be interested in what we offer? In reality though, many of these leads are not qualified and more often than not, are not looking for the services we provide or worse, those who are looking for a “deal” and will not be long-term clients. This can be very frustrating for business owners because we spend just as much time cultivating these leads as we would others and time is our highest commodity.

Time is a constant concern for business owners. Time to work on what we do, time to get back-end business needs addressed such as financials, time to spend with family and friends. There is a constant struggle with time to accomplish all that we need and want, and it can be frustrating! There’s an old saying, “Good, Fast, Cheap – Pick 2.” By focusing on quality over quantity, the work will not be fast. You can easily expect at least 3-6 months before you begin to see a result, but it will come and when it does, it’s pretty spectacular. So, let’s get into how it’s done:

Know Your Numbers

Every social media platform offers business pages insights to the analytics of your audience. This is more than just the figure of how many people engaged with your post in some manner. It can tell you the age, sex, location of your audience, the days and times they are most active, and which types of posts receive the most engagement. By catering to the needs of your audience, they are more likely to continue visiting your page and be interested in your goods or services.

Be Aware of Time

By catering to your audience, you should be aware of time. Holidays and changes in schedules such as back to school often result in behavioral changes. With awareness of what time of year it is and how that affects schedules and behaviors, you will be able to refine and adjust what and when you post so you are able to continue working your audience.

Content Reigns Supreme

Many fall into the trap of asking for likes through offering a deal or paying for sponsored ads but fall behind on content. Once you have individuals on your page, give them a reason to keep coming back to you. This is more than just saying how awesome you are but give your audience reasons to believe in you. This can be through helpful tips and tricks, educational posts, sharing articles that speak to you, and even humorous memes. Be authentic. Let people know who you are, what you do, and how you do it without going into the dirty details and they will want to know more.

Work With What You Have

This is tough for many business owners. I have heard it many times, “I only have family and friends on my page. They aren’t going to buy.” Having family and friends following you on your social media page is awesome! That means they are supporting you. When they engage with your page, it shows on their newsfeed. This shows your page to their friends and family, some of which may be interested in what you have to offer. Word of mouth is powerful, don’t discount it just because the platform has changed.

Celebrate Other’s Successes

When working with new clients, we ask for a list of businesses that the client supports either as a business or personally. This builds on working with what you have, by sharing and supporting other businesses publicly on your page, you are able to access their audience. Some of which may be larger than your own and more likely, not aware of your business but may be interested in what you offer. This is word of mouth on a larger scale.

By celebrating other’s successes, you also give your business a sense of permanence and security. Most individuals want to purchase from someone they know is going to be around for a while. By sharing their successes, you are able to align yourself with those businesses and build on the sense of community in an increasingly digital world.

Build Your Brand Awareness

By incorporating these steps, you can build your brand awareness organically so when you do choose to pay for a boosted post, it is able to reach more of those quality leads. If and when you choose to pay for a sponsored ad, be sure to have a specific goal in mind. This will aid in a higher return on your investment.

Final Note:

I have had business owners ask how businesses have their pages show as sponsored without paying. Yes, the elusive white rabbit of building your brand on social media. It can happen. I have personally witnessed this, and it is incredible when it does. This occurs when your reach and engagement figures are high enough that the often frustrating algorithms align perfectly for your business. This is the power of building your audience organically and focusing on quality over quantity. If you are interested in learning more or would like assistance with learning your numbers, we are happy to help because in our business, helping your business grow is our primary focus.

Getting Down and Dirty With Sales

Sales. Oh, that dirty word, it’s a necessary evil to running a business. Or is it? Every business owner will tell you that it is needed but no one likes to talk about it. The term has two definitions in running a business, the first and foremost, it’s how business owners can ideally make ends meet and second, the act of sales which leaves many with a gross taste in their mouths. As sales should be related to your marketing, this week we’re going to talk all about that nasty, gross feeling thing and I hope you come out on the other end feeling a little better about that necessary business process.

Marketing should be closely tied to your sales funnel. A sales funnel is where your audience lies in their awareness of what you offer. To keep it simple, a sales funnel typically associates your audience along a pipeline of cold to hot. This means if someone is in your sales funnel and they are cold, they are just learning about what you do. They are not ready to buy. The more interested they are in what you offer, they move along the sales funnel to warm. These individuals may be interested in what you offer but need more information to be able to take the leap or are unable to afford your goods or services yet. As individuals progress along the funnel, they move to hot or ready to buy.

Now while that’s a bit oversimplified, it’s important to understand where your clients fall within this funnel and to know that while some will move through your sales funnel, some will not. There are times when an individual may not ever make a purchase from you but want to support you in your venture. By being aware of your audience and where they fall within your sales funnel, you are better able to refine your marketing to target those who are more likely to purchase your goods or services.

I like to think of running a business like a football game. Your goods or services, the financials, all the stuff that you do every day that relates to your business are the players in the game. The goal is to get points through a touchdown primarily (although a field goal or safety will work too). The main part of the game is trying to get those points, or in the world of running a business, make sales. Sometimes it’s easy, other times you get sacked, but keep getting back up and playing the game. Whether it’s fourth down and ten or you’re on the line of scrimmage ready to make the play, keep going. You won’t always make the point, but if you are learning while you go that is what’s important. And those that may not buy your goods or services but want to support you, those are your fans, so show them why they should cheer for you and keep coming back to watch you play.

Let’s Get Social

Social Media marketing, it sounds easy enough. Just put your stuff out there and people will buy it. But it’s not that easy. This week’s questions have focused on social media marketing, particularly Facebook. I discussed marketing tools a bit in the blog post “What is Marketing” this week, I’m going to dive in deeper and that 80/20 Rule is going to make a comeback. So if you haven’t read it, I highly recommend starting there before reading more.

At Symbiotic Marketing, we highly recommend when starting out to have a Facebook page or website, preferably both. The purpose of your Facebook page (assuming you have one) is to drive business to your website and to make people aware of what you offer. Social media is meant to be just that, social. It’s to give individuals an idea of who you are, what you do and how you do it. Your social media page should be informative for both individuals who are just learning about your business as well as those who may be interested in purchasing your goods or services.

That’s a lot to cover! So how does one do this? We start with the basics. Take a look at your page as a visitor. Go into your Facebook page and click on the three dots beside the “Share” button. This opens a secondary menu where you can view your page as a visitor. By selecting this, you can see your page as someone visiting your page will see, or like any other business page that you are not associated with looks like. Take a good look at your page and how it is set up and ask yourself, if you were visiting this business page, would you be able to find the information you would want? If you feel stuck, check out other business pages that may be similar to yours to see how their pages are set up. Most cosmetic changes (such as layout and page tabs) can be changed in the Settings tab.

Once that is to your liking, look at your posts. We find that most businesses perform well with 2-3 posts a week. Here is where the 80/20 Rule comes into play again. We aim for less than 20% of those posts to be asking for something (that’s a sly way of saying “buy my stuff”): asking individuals to purchase your goods or services and asking to come to an event you are hosting or attending. This includes your sales posts: coupons, BO-GOs, Flash Sales, etc. The remaining 80% of your posts should be more telling about you, your business, your story.

This is where many become uncomfortable. Remember that growth does not come from a place of comfort. Post about things that resonate with you and your business. Share “ugly truths” such as I work from home and have two very loud dogs. To combat this, I have the television on in the background almost all the time. The background noise makes me feel less alone and keeps me from jumping out of my skin when the dogs see a squirrel, or a loud truck goes down the road. While I’d rather individuals not know the particulars of working at home, small ugly truths such as this meme posted on the Symbiotic Marketing Page. While the post is humorous, there’s certainly a ring of truth to it that many can relate to. If this does not resonate with your particular business, post about what you are currently working on and why it fills your heart with joy. Happiness is infectious so share the love!

Additionally, with this, share posts from other businesses that you support either through your business or yourself personally. Individuals are literally asking for recommendations on social media from where to get a lawn mower repaired to a new dentist and everything in between. Not only will you become a resource, you are also opening your page to another page’s audience that may not know what you offer. This grows your reach and can grow your specific audience.

Finally, Facebook allows pages to create a “Story” outside of the story that is only shown for 24 hours. This is your Why. Why you started, why you do what you do and why you keep doing it. Create a story for your audience. There’s a saying in the world of sales, “Facts tell, stories sell.” Tell others of your story, your why and they’ll be more likely to buy what you have. I have a water bottle that I love. I carry it with me everywhere I go and get many comments on it. I paid more for that water bottle than any other water bottle I own. I bought it and carry it because a mother in Florida runs this business out of her garage. She shares the good, the bad, and the ugly or running her business online. She’s relatable. I tell everyone who will listen where I purchased it and why. By her sharing her story, I continue to share through word of mouth. And as we know, word of mouth is the most powerful form of advertising.

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