Sunday, March 29, 2009

Is your small business thriving?

The Little-Guy Economy: Small, nimble firms are thriving in the downturn. The Big Money

Many people think that hatching a small business is just about finding a way to earn money, especially in an economic downturn. But because of my business coaching practice, I find that launching a small business provides the business owner with much more than that. It gives the small business owner a way to create opportunity, maintain or increase his or her agility and promotes his or her strengths and true abilities. Especially in a service industry because you might take large business models break them down to the most important parts, look at needs and solutions and find an opportunity to grow a small business very quickly.

Owning a small business is the income of the future and, frankly, can be a lot more fun for many people compared to what they've experienced working in the big business segment lately. Not so long ago, there was a lot of talk about centralizing companies for operational, HR and financial consistency or keeping the segments small and adaptable. You know what system won and we all know what it is going to be like in the future. There are great possibilities for success in the current economy.

Starting a small business can be fun and opportunistic (financial and otherwise) but it also can be quite an undertaking that one should not plan alone. If you're in a career transition and tired of looking for a job, then perhaps starting a small business is right for you. As a business coach, I've helped numerous small businesses quickly work through many issues related to start-up, expansion, hiring, achieving goals, etc.

If you'd like to find out more about how coaching can help you either start a business from scratch or grow your existing business, please email me to set up an appointment for your initial complimentary consultation.

~ Carroll King Schuller, Business & Life Coach for Fast Thinking Adults
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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Client testimonials are such an important part of any business.

While this was touched on in my last post, one of my strongest beliefs for promoting my coaching practice is the utilization of client testimonials. They are not only listed on my website but can be easily found in the website's main navigation. The list is updated with recent clients. About once a quarter I make it a point to request a few more and ensure they are posted.

In addition to listing them on my website, my testimonials or recommendations are incorporated in my LinkedIn account. I seem to get recommendations freely there (it's easy for people to post them) and I also give many recommendations to others. In fact, I have a couple more that I've drafted and will post over the next week or so.

So what are you doing in your business?
  • Are you asking for client testimonials?
  • Are you making sure that this is part of your ongoing marketing efforts?
  • Are you set up on LinkedIn to make it easy for others to say wonderful things about you?
  • Are you getting permission from your clients to post their stories and results on your website?

This may be a small piece of advice that I give to my business coaching clients, but the power of testimonials can't be underestimated. If your customers or clients can't tell others that you provide a valuable product or service to them, then there's something wrong with the way you're conducting business and you may benefit from working with an experienced and reputable Business Coach. If you just haven't made asking for and utilizing testimonials a key part of your marketing efforts, then that can be relatively easily solved.

In either case, feel free to call me so that I can quickly help you achieve your business and marketing goals. My Fast Coach confidential office line is 804.288.0099.

~ Carroll King Schuller, Business & Life Coach for Fast Thinking Adults

P.S. When I check my Google Analytics account, my website's testimonial page is always the most visited.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Make your small business unforgettable.

How to Make Your Message Stick - AOL Small Business

Making your message unforgettable, whether starting a business or promoting your own personal brand, is so important. As clarifies in this article, memorable marketing leads to sales. Evoking emotions, getting personal recommendations and testimonials, creating ah-hah moments and offering unforgettable value (or savings) can help your small business be memorable and stand out from the rest.

For me, a continual flow of testimonials that I add to my website is what brings me the most clients and helps me rather easily close referrals. Find out what works best for you to make YOUR message stick in the minds of your customers.

There's a great book by Chip Heath and Dan Heath entitled Made to Stick: Why some ideas survive and others die, which is along the same lines. A great read as an addition to the article above.
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Gen Y are entrepreneurs, too.

Gen Y Entrepreneurs: Here Are the First Steps to Starting Your Own Business Next Generation Career Advice Fast Company

Exceptional article posted yesterday by Fast Company Expert Blogger, Lindsey Pollak. In the post, she offers some suggestions for first steps to take if you're thinking about starting your own small business or becoming a full-time freelancer.

She says that finding mentors, understanding the essentials and learning how to market yourself are very important to your success. Lindsey also offers up a few classic books to read.
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Is the recession the mother of invention?

Tired of Looking for Work, Some Create Their Own -

Some excellent points in the NYTimes article that are worth sharing:

  • Those looking for work often take too long to realize that starting a business of their own is the answer to replacing their income.
  • The internet has become an extraordinary tool not just to market ideas but also to find business partners and suppliers and to run a business inexpensively.
  • The goal may not be creating a company that will make billions but to have an idea that will produce revenue quickly, serving immediate needs of others.
  • Finding new ways to make money is painful but healthy at the same time.
  • Instead of spending the energy looking for a job and sending out a gazillion resumes, refocus that energy into work that really interests you, making profitable work for yourself.

If you're struggling with your job search, I hope you'll be inspired by the stories mentioned and reach for the help of others to keep you moving forward. I've worked with many people in the same situation and get them moving quickly toward regaining their confidence, and their income.

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Creating a Consultancy Out of What You Practice

As we're keenly aware, many people are out of work in this tough economic situation we find ourselves in. Because there are a limited number of jobs available for the thousands of candidates, it is more important than ever to start a business based on what you do best, utilizing your strengths. While this WSJ article was written a few months ago, it is more timely than ever. Great tips for anyone considering creating a consultancy.
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