Friday, October 30, 2009

Building a hobby or building a business?

Are you running a hobby or running a business?

This is a very important question for the beginning entrepreneur. It’s also a good question for the business person who seems constantly in motion but isn’t experiencing any significant results with clients and, therefore, income.

I like the video with commenting on this very topic with Allison Babb who offers several cogent comments to help people answer this question.

I’ve seen the similar behaviors in my coaching practice – people who sincerely have good intentions about starting a business and good things to offer. However, they   find themselves discouraged when their plans seem to lead to nowhere.

Research. Make sure there is a real need for your business service or product. Determine your niche market, how you will deliver your message to your niche market, how your competition presents itself and how you will stay financially afloat as you pursue your dream.

Focus. Focus. Focus. Do you offer so many services – dog walking, piano lessons, cupcake baking and car detailing – that people are confused about exactly what you do? Focus on one service or product – or products that services that are clearly related – will ease your marketing activities and create a clear message for your niche market. This is a very challenging task for creative people who constantly see so many possibilities in their world.

Be able to commit to building your business, financially, emotionally, spiritually and practically. Conventional wisdom says that it takes about two years to reap significant profits with a full-fledged business. This means that you will need to have finances, moral support, information and a clear but flexible business plan to follow. Of course, if you have a spectacular niche, absolutely no competition and an amazing business plan, you can find pay dirt a lot sooner.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

More on the basics of social media marketing

A standing room only crowd of business people, representatives of non-profit organizations and others showed on Wednesday for the second installment of the Small Business Development Center’s program on social media marketing titled “Getting It Set Up – the Nuts and Bolts of Social Media Networking.”

Social networking sites increasingly being utilized as an inexpensive marketing tool by small and large businesses. The Chicago Tribune just reported how diverse businesses like cupcake bakeries, jewelers and others are developing this trend.

Wednesday’s tips, which especially focused on Facebook, included:
  • Your personal Facebook page allows you to make a business page as well.
  • Determine how your Facebook page, whether personal or business, fits into your overall business plan.
  • Decide how you will attract your niche market to your business page.
  • Create a name for your business page; the direct name of your business is best rather than being cutesy.
  • Have a logo or picture ready to upload that represents your business.
  • Use your current contact information.
  • Build up the page until you are ready to go “live” online.
  • Identify group pages -- different from personal pages -- that you can join to post and spread the word about your business.
See presenter Raymond Wiggins' snazzy presentation here. Final SBDC class  at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside info here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

A new take on how businesses are evolving

This just in from TED, one of my current favorite sites. John Gerzema says there's an upside to the recent financial crisis -- the opportunity for positive change. He identifies four major cultural shifts driving new consumer behavior and shows how businesses are evolving to connect with thoughtful spending.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A post script on social networking

A post script on social networking and a quote I like:

"When an organization becomes faceless, it loses its authenticity."

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Navigating the mysteries of social media networking

My younger cousin Charlie, who's 14, knows how to use social media for fun. He posts on Facebook to tell me and his some 70 friends when he's tired, hungry or enjoying his breakfast of sausage, onions and peppers.

I -- like many of you -- use it for business. I'm one of many people who believe that the possibilities for social media and business are mind-boggling, especially since the next generation is all about social media. In addition to Facebook, there's LinkedIn and Twitter as major players and dozens more minor players.

A new report shows that LinkedIn, a kind of an online resume, is growing rapidly. See Tanette Johhnson-Elie's commentary for figures and check out this YouTube video reminding us that by 2010 Generation Y will outnumber Baby Boomers and 96 percent of them have joined a social media group:

However, the phenomenon is still so bran-spankin' new that most of us are still experimenting with its possibilities and what's the best return on investment.

The Small Business Development Center Network at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside sponsored the first of three classes Wednesday on social media and its amazing potential value to business.

Here are the highlights:

Social media is geared for encouraging conversation and building business relationships rather than actual direct selling.

Know your goals on why you are using social media, what you hope to accomplish and how it is part of your business plan.

Decide how you will commit time and resources to social media.

Ask who is your audience and what social media platform is the best route to your audience.

Determine what added value can you give your network that people can't get anywhere else.

Meanwhile, find me on Twitter.

Become a fan at Lake House's Facebook page.

There are two more programs in this three-part series for SBDC. For more info, click this link.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Where to list your business for free

Happy day! I love discovering Web sites where I can add my professional information for free.

There are hundreds of sites out there, and I'm compiling a big list for blog readers. For now, check out this one:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Another take on Internet marketing

Whether you’re new to Internet marketing or a seasoned veteran, there will always be new techniques to learn … and new pitfalls to avoid.

So says Kelly Watson, one of my favorite marketing colleagues who runs a spiffy Web site especially geared to women entrepreneurs. She is based in my home town of Lancaster, Pa., and works this niche with great ideas and commentary. She also offers a thoughtful free report titled Do YOU Make These Mistakes in Internet Marketing?

She also has several pod casts of interviews about creativity and marketing – my personal fave.