If you’re a freelancer or self-employed, chances are you’ve been in at least one murky financial situation â “Was that a work lunch or a personal lunch?” and “Did I forget a deduction?” were questions I found myself asking too often last tax season.
If you have certain expenses that can be separated and deducted as a âbusiness expense,’ opting for a business credit card is an easy and efficient way to do so, while simultaneously earning rewards on your purchases. Consider some of the many ways that you could benefit from having a business credit card:
1. Managing Cash Flow
Keeping your personal and business expenses separate can increase your deductions and make your business tax returns easier to manage. It can also help you keep your tax documents in order, should you ever get audited by the IRS.
[Side note: The Mogul Mom recommends Quickbooks for Small Business to help.]
2. Building Credit History for Your Business
One of the most valuable things a business credit card can do for you is to build a credit history for your small business, and do so without hurting your personal score. Although your personal credit guarantees the card (meaning if you default on payments, you’re still liable), your usage of it for your business expenses won’t affect your score.
If your business grows and you’re looking to apply for a loan for larger expenses like real estate, banks will look to your business line of credit to determine your loan rates. Therefore, the sooner you start building credit for it, the better your rate will likely be in the future.
3. Business-Specific Rewards Categories
If you get reimbursed as a freelancer for out of pocket expenses like supplies, look for cards that offer points for every dollar spent on office supply purchases. Commute for clients or entertain? There are plenty of cards that offer a ton of perks for gas and dining out. If you fly for business, you can take advantage of perks like VIP airport lounge memberships and passes, as well as hotel reward loyalty programs.
4. Higher Purchasing Power
If you’re not working regular hours, or get paid at irregular intervals, a business credit card can keep you safeguarded for a month until you get a payout, minimizing the stress that can come with paying out of pocket.
If you land a big client, a high line of credit can help you make the necessary investments for your business to expand quickly. The most important thing to note here, however, is that you have to exercise self-restraint and charge only what you will be getting paid for, or what you can afford to pay off. Otherwise, unfortunately with great perks come greater interest rates, and you could end up paying huge fees.
Next Steps: What You Need to Apply for a Business Credit Card
If your business is brand new, you may need to submit documentation such as your articles of incorporation or your profit/loss statements before you can get approved. On the other hand, if your business already has a line of credit, applying for a new card can be a seamless process. Either way, keep following information available when you apply:
Employer Identification Number (EIN) and Social Security Number
If you don’t have an EIN, you can apply online at IRS.gov. Otherwise, if you’re a sole proprietor, your SSN should suffice
Your card issuer will need your business name, address, and how long you’ve been in operation. If you’re a freelancer and operate out of your home, you can use your home address.
Be sure to know how much profit you made in the last year.
If you’re self-employed, a quality business credit card can help your business earn rewards, build credit, and keep your personal and business expenses separate, thus saving you time and money when tax season rolls around.
For more strategies for maxing out rewards, as well as recommendations for which business credit cards can help take your freelancing career or small business to the next level, check out this article from The Simple Dollar.
How do you use credit to build your business? Let us know in the comments.
Fear. It’s the four-lettered feeling that as entrepreneurs, we need to get familiar â better still, friendly â with, because it isn’t going anywhere. From elevator pitch to breaking million-dollar deals, you’ll be bombarded with fear at every stage of your business journey, and sadly, no amount of exposure will build up immunity to its initial sting. But after a few years in the game, and a few failures of my own, I know that the remedy lies in how you respond.
Here are the ways I’ve found to smile (and succeed) in the face of the typical fears every entrepreneur will endure.
1. Fear of not being good enough
As an entrepreneur you’re going to hear a hell of a lot of no’s and the sound of many a slamming door, so having an unwavering, tenacious and insatiable self-belief is crucial â scrap that, it’s everything if you want to eventually succeed. But, it certainly easier said than done. Take comfort in the knowledge that even the most successful among us started as non-believers. Author Elizabeth Gilbert, who I admire on so many levels, certainly did. Long before penning her first best-seller, Eat Pray Love, she would moan that she was talentless. “Defending my weakness? That’s seriously the hill I want to die on?” she wrote in her latest book Big Magic, citing the saying: “Argue for your limitations and you get to keep them.”
Stop with the negativity and consider this: most of the world as we know it was created by people no smarter than you, with no more hours in the day than you. You are no different, no lesser than or less capable of changing the world than the likes of Oprah, Nelson Mandela or Steve Jobs. If you take that on, fully absorbing its power, you will be relentless in your pursuit.
2. Fear of launching empty-handed
Here’s the thing. Most new product launches fail (the stat on the street is 80 percent), so you don’t always have to sweat for months over a hefty business plan or dish out dollars on prototypes and digital fodder in preparation for launching something if you aren’t even sure it will fly in the marketplace?
I’m a big believer in the âback-of-the-envelope business plan.’ When an idea hits, I get scribbling â jotting down an overview, indicative model, potential markets and suggestive marketing â just enough to have something to shop around with potential partners and drum up some pre-sales or consumer interest. If I get a bite, I’ll go in guns blazing and elevate things to the next level of strategic planning. If not, I’ll kill it and move on to something else, and quickly.
There is a place for more thorough, careful consideration of a new venture, but I’ve found that for the most part, entrepreneurs simply need to begin. Not having a polished product isn’t something to fear, it can be favorable, and leaves wriggle room for tweaking (or a total 180-degree turn) when the market says, “ThanksâŠ but no thanks.”
3. Fear of not having enough money
Nothing thrills me more than breaking a deal, and it isn’t always money that’s on the table. In my early (cash-poor) days in business, I quickly learned the importance of putting a value on everything you have and do. Everything from your product, content, venue, public speaking prowess, networks, social platforms… whatever is in your hand that could be valuable to others. You can leverage it all by partnering with non-competing, like-minded people or businesses who share your audience. Then, you simply need to get creative.
The arrangement you settle on can be multi-layered, or simple and linear â created in any number of clever iterations. Promote me on your product and I’ll pop it in the goodie bags at my event. I’ll attach my brand to yours for a clothing collaboration in exchange for exposure in your stores. Style my shoot and we’ll give you the photos for your site. These types of arrangements can save you $5000 or $200,000 and in the early days of business, they can be the difference between survival and success. And don’t be afraid to reach out to big brands (Uber delivered shelter kittens â do you remember?).
4. Fear of failure
I’ve failed. Many, many times. Once, my publishing business sent a client’s book off to the printer with duplicate pages. Another time, that same vertical of the business screwed up the color matching on a cover, rendering its author a very attractive hue of an Oompa Loompa from Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. Don’t worry; we didn’t screw up the majority of our projects, but those two were big, costly fails. Even still, I didn’t begrudge them or the staff responsible, not for a second, because they pushed our company forward with knowledge and wisdom. They also reminded us that we’re only human.
Failure, historically, is a filthy word, but it’s also an essential element of business. As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg says, “The biggest risk is not taking any riskâŠ In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” The key is to fail fast, and well. Those âback-of-the-envelope business plans’ ensure a steady stream of speedy fails, leaving energy, time and money for the gems. And when a blunder sets you back, financially or otherwise, learn to move on from it quickly. That is one of my biggest personal pieces of advice, don’t get too attached to the outcome of your pursuit.
As the business has grown, there have been bigger issues (read: failures) that have tested this rationale, but I have managed to stay grounded in this belief, to work with staff for new solutions (rather than berate them) and to let the situation move us all forward.
5. Fear of success
It may sound obscene, but this is actually a thing. Just ask author and philanthropist Marianne Williamson, who famously observed, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.”
The other side of success is unchartered territory, riddled with unknowns. What will happen if you finally get there? What will you strive for then? Will you call it quits? But fear not, success. Your definition of it, much like the horizon, recedes and redefines with each win. Ask any successful entrepreneur if they’ve made it and you’ll hear a resounding “no!”.
And if your fear is based on becoming a sell-out, or a changing as a person, simply come back to your core values. Write them down and keep them at hand to refer to as each decision arises. Make peace with the idea of positive progress, right before you get back to work!
What are your biggest entrepreneurial fears and how do you handle them? Let us know in the comments.
The business landscape is changing, and with change comes new opportunities for women-owned small businesses to launch and thrive.
How can you know which industries are worth pursuing â and which are just a flash in the pan?
You can never be 100-percent sure. Thereâs always a mixture of research, educated guessing, and gut instinct that go into crafting a winning business plan for an emerging industry.
Our infographic on rapidly growing industries shows endless possibility for new and returning entrepreneurs. Some of these emerging business areas are especially ripe for development by busy, working moms with valuable skills and a need for flexible work schedules.
A few highlights from our research:
- Opportunities for home health aides are expected to grow by 48 percent by 2022. Mompreneurs who are both nurturing and hyper-organized are a natural fit to lead in this growing field.
- Corporate fitness, to include consulting, fitness programs and software to track wellness, is expected to grow 8.4 percent annually. The best part about consulting for corporations? Their employees might work late, but you wonât; offer your programs during the work day and preserve evenings for family.
- By 2017, more than half of Americans will have used their smartphones to make a purchase. If youâre tech savvy, get on the mobile-shopping train and make life easier for busy shoppers like you!
- Green construction is expected to generate more than $303 billion over the next three years. Project management, innovation, and accountability are key for success in this field.
- The global market for translation services and language technology will hit $49.8 billion in 2019. Do you speak a second (or third!) language? You could find a niche for your small business.
- Americans already spend nearly $20 billion per year on pet care, a trend Millennial pet owners are expected to maintain. If pets are more like your fur babies, find an angle (dog walking? grooming? specialty feed recipes?) and put it to work!
Looking at industry growth isnât the sole way to choose the right area of business for you to enter. Youâll also want to consider the target market, not only for the industry youâre eyeing but for the specific area (location or niche audience) you plan to serve.
A business idea can be fantastic, but unless there are people willing to invest in its products or services, the idea may fall upon deaf ears.
Youâll also want to consider your competition. Is your hometown already flush with one of these emerging industries? You may have better odds of success if you stay out of that popular industry and instead serve one adjacent to it.
Need a boost of encouragement before launching your own small business? Take our free, on-demand webinar: Raising the Next Generation of Women Entrepreneurs â Starting a Business at Any Life Stage.
Thank you emails are of massive importance in the business world. Sometimes, they’re what allows the receiving party to see just how serious we are. Whether you’re sending the email as a follow up after a job interview or as a token of appreciation to a client or another professional who has provided you with valuable help, the way you compose the email is almost more important than the email itself.
Here are some tips on how to craft the perfect thank you email.
1. Treat Your Email like a Handwritten Note
Handwritten notes have fallen out of favor in recent years. Nothing beats the ability to send something instantly and directly to a recipient. That’s why we use emails instead. The reality of the matter is that many professionals still enjoy receiving handwritten notes, even though this isn’t always a feasible option. A great compromise is to treat an email the same way you would treat a handwritten note. This means no abbreviations, and certainly no emoticons. To help conceptualize an email with the qualities of a handwritten note, start by writing a rough draft on paper. If it looks like something you’d send by traditional mail, type it up into an email.
2. Play Your Strengths
If you’ve already spoken to this individual in person, you had your chance to make a powerful first impression. Your email should be in line with the impression that you made. Choose a few points to reiterate that highlight your strengths. For example, as a thank you in response to a job interview, mention the things that your interviewer appreciated. “I’m confident that my experience working with X Company will be greatly beneficial for your projects.”
3. Make Sure Your Email is Original
A quick google search for the terms “thank you email” will generate hundreds of templates. People actually use these templates to send thank you emails. This means the person you’re sending the email to will notice that it’s similar to other notes they’ve received in the past, making you seem less genuine. If you use a template as a style guide, make sure you compare the finished product to the template. You don’t want the template to be recognizable in the final draft of your email.
4. Avoid ClichĂ© Phrases
Every word of your email should have real meaning. If it doesn’t, you’re wasting your time as well as the recipient’s time. Overused phrases and professional clichĂ©s don’t convey anything â they’re just filler words that make an email appear longer. You want a thank you email to come across as genuine.
If you write it as a formality, it will read like a formality. If you want the person on the other end of the screen to remember you, your email should distinguish who you are.
5. Don’t Overdo It
It’s always a good idea to send a thank you note. While the thank you email itself is the perfect gesture, bombarding someone with follow up emails is not. If you’re waiting for a business decision, allow the individual responsible for informing you of that decision up to two weeks to get back to you before sending an inquiry. Send one follow up, and if they don’t get back to you, move on. Frequently emailing someone hoping for a response can feel overbearing, and that can send important people running in the opposite direction.
Always make sure to double (or triple) check an email for spelling errors or grammatical issues before you hit send. You can’t take the email back, so you need to be positive that all is well before you click a button that can’t be unclicked.
What strategies do you use when sending thank you emails? Share in the comments.
So many people dream of starting an online venture but are held back by fear, indecision, or any variety of other personal factors. Of course, there are plenty of reasons people are looking to spread their professional wings online. Whether youâre looking to escape the 9-to-5 grind or you just want to earn some money on the side, there are plenty of ways to turn your skills and interests into cold, hard cash online.
No matter what industry you’re hoping to break into, starting a business is hard work. The good news is, millions of people have taken the plunge with great success. With the right guidance, tools, and support, you can, too.
Here are some simple ideas you can use to start a real business, without quitting your day job:
1. Sell products
Selling tangible items online makes ordinary people millions of dollars per year. And getting started can be a lot easier than you think. If you need some guidance check out The Reseller Toolkit. From connecting with suppliers to marketing your wares, it walks you through every aspect of starting and running a profitable product sales business. You can start this as a side hustle, and grow it on your terms. Ideally it will grow successful enough to allow you to finally quit your day job and start living with the entrepreneurial freedom you’ve been longing for. Some popular ideas are bath and body products, supplies, and jewelry. You can also consider dropshipping, which will save you from having to store all of your inventory in-house.
2. Start a clothing line
Fashionistas, take note. Unique clothing is always in style. Use your sense of style to develop a clothing line you can share with the world. Creating and designing fashionable clothing is far easier than it used to be, thanks to the help of thousands of online printers and suppliers who are available to the public. You’re just a few clicks away from your own fashion empire.
Shopify is one of the best options out there for those just starting out. They’re a complete website and hosting provider that helps with everything from store setup to checkout, and best of all, you don’t need any design or coding experience whatsoever. If you’ve got a WordPress site, they offer a handy WordPress plugin to help.
If you plan to start a tee shirt or other screen-printing clothing business, take advantage of their plugins that automatically link your store to apparel printers. Easy, peasy.
3. Sell your art online
Whether youâre a painter, photographer, or musician, there are plenty of ways for you to turn your latest masterpieces into a profitable, stable revenue stream. Sell prints, giclĂ©es, original prints or recordings, and more. The sky’s the limit for creatives looking to make some cash on the side.
4. Become a service provider
Capitalize on your unique experience by helping others with their projects as a service provider. Graphic designers, copywriters, and developers can make some impressive hauls lending their talents out in exchange for a fee. You can sharpen your skills by taking some of the classes over at Creative Live. They’ve got plenty of topics to choose from, including some free ones. The more you know, the more you can charge. Plenty of people make thousands a month (sometimes a week) as a service provider. Why not you?
Freelancers writers can secure gigs from job sourcing websites, like these. If you want to be a virtual assistant, this step by step post will show you how.
5. Teach an online course
Courses are all the rage these days, it seems like everyone’s got one. That’s because they’re easy to put together and are usually highly profitable. All you need to do is channel your inner-teacher and put together a guide, video walkthrough, podcast, or webinar sharing your expertise on a particular topic, then, offer it for sale on your website.
6. Flip your finds
If you’re a love hitting up thrift stores, estate sales, and garage sales, then opening up an online boutique to sell your treasures would make a great business venture for you. In this guide, I share how I sourced my products and made big money online, including how a $1 investment netted me thousands of dollars.
7. Publish your own book
It doesnât matter if itâs an educational guide for your niche, a novel, a special report, or even a coffee table book, there are now plenty of options for successfully self-publishing your own work. And, you won’t need spend months waiting to see if your pitch was accepted by a traditional publishing house, only to hand over fist-fulls of profits to them in the end. If you think it will sell, be your own publisher.
The great news is, you can get started with any of these ideas right now. That includes getting your website up and running often within a matter of a few hours (and, on the cheap!). Then all that’s left to do is figure out what you want to to sell and add it to your e-commerce store. How very simple.
Need inspiration? Check out these amazing success stories.
Once you’ve got your website set up, you’ll need some customers. This article offers 39 simple ways to find lots of new clients, fast.
That’s it, seven ideas to help you escape the daily grind and create a life and business you love. Want more? Read on to learn more about how to start and scale these 7 online business ideas, right here.
If you could start any business online, what would it be and why? Let us know in the comments.
Pricing your professional offerings doesn’t have to be hard. Using a few key success factors for common pricing approaches can help you get paid more, and paidÂ more consistently. You’ll spend less time having pricing discussions with your clients, so you can spend that extra time growing your business and building the team you need to reach your revenue goals.
Key success factors take into account how you want to manage your clients, time, how you want to work and even best options for building your team.
What you should charge for your services is a separate and super important topic, too. Even using multiple prices for the same product has its place. Be sure you understand both your pricing approach and what you should charge, because they go together like peanut butter and jelly (or wine and chocolate).
The three most common pricing approaches are:
3. Project Based
Consider the key success factors for each, and how they fit your services and your business.
Hourly pricing is the easiest to use, but clients don’t always love it. Hourly pricing means you’re simply getting paid for each hour you work. If you spend fewer hours on a project, it means less money. This is one of the most challenging ways to plan your revenue unless you have a good client pipeline and can estimate the type and timing of projects. This is an easy way to pay additional team members for short periods of time, but it’s not a great long term solution. If projects take too long, clients get nervous they are paying for hours that aren’t necessary.
Key Success Factors:
- Estimate your hours well the first time. Clients generally won’t pay for additional hours when there’s been no change to the work.
- A detailed description of what’s included in the project scope. The project scope is the holy grail since you’ll be held accountable to deliver it. It’s also what you’ll use to hold the client accountable for work changes.
- A process for making changes the work and any change in cost.
- A system to track your hours and what you did for those hours. Clients expect to get the details before they pay.
Any parent will tell you that raising children is a full time job. When parents have careers on top of their childrearing responsibilities, life can become more than a little hectic.
As someone who has overcome great obstacles, both personally and in the business world, I know that you can find success in anything you commit yourself to.Â With the following tips, you can create your own âidealâ situation; one that doesnât involve compromising either your family or your work.
Here are some of the things I’ve learned:
Organization is Key
With my experience as an entrepreneur, I have learned that organization is essential to success, be it a family or work matter. When you are trying to balance both a career and kids, start by creating a master calendar. In my field of work, I find myself juggling a busy schedule. Between my responsibilities at my rehabilitation facilities, my fundraising and charity events, and my family obligations, I would be remiss if I didnât have a schedule.
By looking at your tasks as a whole, it makes them seem less complicated and more manageable. These days, any device can help you create a schedule, with reminders, so that you never miss a board meeting or a PTA meeting.
To-do lists are also a helpful tool for better organization. Not only can you see exactly what you need to do today â without getting overwhelmed by the rest of the weekâs tasks â you get the satisfaction of crossing them off as you complete them. When you take a moment to acknowledge the achievement of a goal and then prepare to shift gears to the next project, it can make for a more gratifying day overall.
Utilize Downtime Properly
It is important to remember to make some time to check in both with the family and at work. In other words, schedule some down time so you can bond with each child, but also block off time at work to review files, catch up on emails, or even organize your desk, this way, you can stay on top of your duties.
Donât forget to also make time for yourself. Treat it as you would any other responsibility and make sure it gets done â each day, allow yourself at least 30 minutes of âyou time.â If you canât make it work at the same time every day (which may often be the case when it comes to balancing sales calls, daycare, business meetings, soccer practice, and whatever else your dual roles demand of you), commit to making the time.
Breaks get a bad reputation for being a sign of weakness, but the truth is we all need a little time to rest and reboot. Personally, I like to take walks to recharge my batteries. The fresh air, sunshine, and exercise have a beautiful way of helping me calm my mind, even on the busiest days.
Find what works for you, whether itâs reading a chapter of your favorite book, practicing some relaxation techniques, or even indulging in an episode of your favorite reality TV show, and give yourself a break. Remember, you shouldnât feel guilty about taking care of your own wellbeing â self-care actually makes you a better parent and professional!
Get Your Priorities Straight
If you are feeling overwhelmed by all of your tasks, both at home and at work, take a moment to figure out what duties take precedence. Once you have done so, you can check off the more important tasks first.
Only you can decide what is most significant, and while you canât always please everyone, you can find solace in the fact that you did the best you could: remember, thatâs all anyone can ask of you!
If you are like me and are passionate about your career, your family, and your social obligations, then you should know that you can succeed in them all.
A blog is one of the most valuable tools that your business has. This easy to use platform helps you connect and engage with your right people.
It’s the perfect communication channel toÂ help you shareÂ relevant information, announcements, tell a story, or justÂ touch base. And, once your content is published, it is an ever-present force on the web that has the capability to direct traffic to your site for the foreseeable future, even years down the line.
And, perhaps best of all, a blog can be started and managed for a very nominal cost, making it among the most cost-effective marketing methods available.
Here are four reasons your business needs a blog, now:
1. Blogs humanize your brand
With so much competition, businesses have to continue to come up with creative ways to set themselves apart. The best way to stand out is to use the one thing you have that no one else does- your personality.
Maximize your efforts:
Know your audience
Use GoogleÂ analyticsÂ to help hone your right person profile to ensure you’re talking to the right people. [Tweet this.]
Showcasing yourÂ brand personaÂ humanizes your business, and gives your company a voice. [Tweet this.]
2. Blogs drive traffic to your website
Maximize your efforts:
Make sure your SEO is up to snuff
Search engines love new, valuable content and you’ll be richly rewarded for sharing it. [Tweet this.]
Utilize social share buttons
There are plenty of plugins to help. This one has great reviews and is free to use.
Share at peak times
The average blog gets the most inbound links on Monday and Thursday at around 7am EST. [Tweet this stat.]
The average blog gets the most trafficÂ on Monday at aroundÂ 7am EST. [Tweet this stat.]
3. Blogs generate qualified leads
Maximize your efforts:
Churn our value-packed, quality content that speaks to your readers
Companies that blog (even as little as 1-2 times per month) seeÂ 70% more leads than those who don’t blog.Â [Tweet this stat.]
Companies that blog fifteen times a month or more see 5 times more traffic than companies who don’t blog. Small businesses (1-10 employees) tend to see the biggest gains in traffic when they post more articles. [Tweet this stat.]
Marketers who blog are 13x more likely to drive positive ROI.Â [Tweet this stat.]
4. Blogs convert visitors into buyers
Maximize your efforts:
Be honest and accountable
98% of readers trust the information shared on blogs. That’s more than any other social media source. [Tweet this stat.]
60% of businesses who blog acquire more customers. [Tweet this stat.]
Become an affiliate for your favorite products, then share them when relevant. 87% of readers make a purchase based on the recommendation they read on a blog. [Tweet this stat.]
Freely share your expertise
A blog helps position you as an expert building confidence & trust,Â which subsequently drives more sales. [Tweet this.]
There’s no better way to add fresh, relevant content to your website regularly than through a blog.
Convinced and ready to get started? Check out How to start a BIG blog on a LITTLE budget for step by step instructions to get you started.
Already started but at a loss for content ideas? Write Away is one of our most popular resources. It has 52 ready-to-use topic ideas to keep you motivated. One prompt for every week of the year. Get your FREE copy here.
It’s three p.m. and the words on your computer screen are looking a little fuzzy. All you want to do is lay your head on your desk and close your eyes, but a nap just isn’t an option. Your to-do list wraps around the block, and you need those valuable afternoon hours to get something accomplished.
That afternoon slump used to be the worst part of my day. I wanted to crawl under my desk every day for a nap. Instead, I ate handfuls of mini candy bars and drank cups of coffee in an effort to stay alert and productive. By the time six o’clock rolled around, the sugar high was gone, and I had no energy to make dinner, hit the gym or study for my health coaching classes. All of that caffeine upset my sleep, and I often found myself wide awake at midnight. Of course, I woke up exhausted– it was a vicious cycle. It took a little time, but once I learned to tune into my body and experiment with different foods and habits, I was able to identify what helped me thrive.
Your food habits and meal choices can either zap productivity or enhance it.
Eating well is the foundation of a successful day. Balanced meals and snacks provide stable blood sugar. What does that mean for you? More sustained energy means that you’ll have the energy for hot yoga after work. Stable moods mean better interactions with clients. You may find you can focus better which will allow you to accomplish more on your to-do list. Plus, taking the time to eat healthful meals puts you in the self-care mindset, making it easier to address your own needs (as a mom and entrepreneur, that can be a challenge!).
Wouldn’t it be nice to feel as clear and alert at three p.m. as you did at ten a.m.? Consider these six habits to help you create sustained focus and energy throughout your busy work day:
Step #1: Drink 6 glasses of water by 3 p.m.
Drinking enough water will ensure you’re properly hydrated before the afternoon slump hits. Dehydration can make you feel sleepy, grumpy and can cause headaches. Drinking a majority of your water before 3 p.m. will keep you from downing water in the evening, then interrupting your sleep with middle of the night bathroom breaks.
Step #2: Eat the right lunch (and don’t skip breakfast)
The “right” lunch depends on what works best for your body. Choose one protein and combine it with two vegetables and a little fat. For example, try a big salad with half an avocado and protein like chickpeas, hard boiled eggs or chicken.
Step #3: Get some sunshine and a walk
Sunlight will signal to your body that it’s still daytime. A walk can help clear your head, get the blood flowing, and even work through problems or brainstorm ideas. Aim for 15-30 minutes, but even a 5-minute trip outside can help.
Step #4: Avoid sugar & caffeine after 3 p.m.
This is a tough one. Cravings for candy bars, cookies, or fancy coffee hit hard after lunch, but snacking on these treats will sabotage your best efforts at productivity. If you want clarity and focus, skip the sugar and opt for a healthy snack (see step 5). Instead of coffee or black tea, try ginger or peppermint tea. Both have stimulating qualities without the caffeine high. Sugar and caffeine will get your energy up temporarily, but you’ll likely come crashing down an hour later. And, we all know the day is far from being over at 5 p.m. There’s still dinner to prepare, homework with the kids, chores to do, and hanging with your spouse.
Step #5: Eat the right snacks
Nutrient rich snacks will contribute to your energy stores. Here are a few ideas:
In Chinese medicine kale, or any dark leafy green, is thought to have uplifting qualities. Try a green juice, kale salad or kale chips. Dark leafy greens can also contribute to iron stores, so if you’re feeling tired due to an iron deficiency, this can help.
chia seeds are packed with nutrients and fiber. This healthful snack can help you stay full longer so that you have the energy to hit the gym and make dinner. Layer your chia pudding with blueberries or raspberries for an antioxidant boost.
Fruit and nuts:
a piece of fruit provides that naturally sweet hit along with fiber to help you stay full. The fat and protein in nuts provide staying power, helping you stay focused.
Protein and veggies:
eating a little more protein in the afternoon can help you power through your evening; this is especially important if you plan to exercise or have an evening event to attend. Try a hard-boiled egg and some carrot sticks, leftover chicken with some broccoli, or black bean vegetable soup.
Step #6: Protect your sleep
It’s easy to let a regular bedtime slip later and later into the evening. After all, it might be the only time you get to yourself or to spend with your spouse. But, without good quality sleep, there’s very little you can eat or do to improve your focus and energy. Get into bed and allow yourself seven to eight hours of sleep every night.
If the afternoon slump hits you hard, try implementing a couple of these tips and see if you notice any changes. As working moms, entrepreneurs, and business owners it’s important we continue to give our bodies what they need to thrive. It’s all too easy to ignore our own needs to meet the needs of others– clients, family, and friends. Eating well gives us the energy we need to take care of our bodies and provides the necessary fuel for a successful, focused and productive day.
You want to run an honest business, right? It’s easy to lose your moral compass when you hear prominent marketers talk up shady marketing tactics and see them hail the results they get through fakery, verbal sleight-of-hand, or outright lying.
So here’s a handy list of marketing moves to rule out when you want to have the trust and respect of long-term customers and the public at large.
1. Non-existent scarcity
One well-known information marketing guru laughingly told a conference that he gets lots of last-minute orders by telling prospects that only, let’s say, 5 product sets are left, when in fact, he’d gladly sell 500 more. Fake scarcity also crops up when someone says the price will go up after the next X units are sold, yet the marketer doesn’t raise the price, or when a sale is supposed to end Saturday, and it’s still there on Sunday. Clearly, all these examples show a lack of integrity. Even if you think “everyone does it,” you have the option of taking the higher ground.
2. Emotional manipulation
Certain phrases enrich marketers by triggering guilt, shame, confusion or fear in customers. One marketer says you can reduce refund requests by saying, “and if you’re not satisfied, I’ll refund you out of my own pocket.” This implies the refund comes from the marketer’s money and is that right, to make the seller suffer because you weren’t happy with your purchase? Actually, it’s really the customer’s own payment that would be coming back to them when they return something for a refund. Don’t perpetrate twisted tactics like this.
3. False front
The classic move in this category is getting photographed beside a Rolls Royce parked in front of a mansion. The car is rented, though, and the mansion belongs to someone else. Inflating your lifestyle, your credentials, your depth of experience â it’s all wrong and can boomerang on you disastrously when an ex-friend, investigative blogger, a lawsuit exposes you.
A whole industry flourished for a while devoted to the aim of achieving something that would be technically true yet highly misleading to the average person. If you engineer a relatively small number of sales in a short period of time, you can reach the #1 rank in an Amazon.com category and call your book a “bestseller.” The intention here is to deceive people into thinking thousands or tens of thousands of copies sold when the actual tally might have been less than a hundred.
5. Overblown promises
Take a cold, hard look at your headlines. Are you promising results that your buyer desperately desires and probably will not get? “From Couch Potato to Beach Bikini Goddess Without Diet or Exercise!” “Become the Talk of the Town With Your Google Places Listing.” A little bit of drama to get attention might be okay, but over-the-top promises have no place in a respectable business.
6. Refund obstacles
Someone selling thousand-dollar home-study courses once gleefully described a new technique he’d come up with, designed to make it harder for people to return his products for a refund. It was impossible to open his mailing package without shredding it, so any customer would have to find or buy a box to send the course back in order to invoke the money-back guarantee. When your goal is having happy buyers rather than lots of unhappy ones who never ask for their money back, this kind of chicanery makes no sense.
7. Competition as boogeyman
Here the pitch warns that if you don’t buy the product, competitors who do will leave you in the dust. Do you have any genuine basis for that kind of a prediction? If yes, explain. If not, then it’s nothing but hot air, hype, and hoopla. Don’t go there.
8. Sloppy work for fast money
When a marketing guru says you’re foolish to care about quality and that “good enough” wins the day, shut your ears. Never deliberately leave mistakes, oversights, glitches or holes in your work. If you have something you’re tempted to apologize for, fix it before you go to market. Remember that with today’s ubiquitous online reviews and social media, complaints are easier than ever to post.
9. Deliberate “Oops”
Sometimes you’ll see two or even three emails in a row from the same source, with the second and third correcting an error in the link in the first email. Unfortunately, some marketers have figured out that those second and third emails get more attention for the message than the first one, and they occasionally create this sequence deliberately. Do this on purpose and then make a genuine error you have to correct, and you begin to look hopelessly incompetent.
10. Sales pitch in masquerade
Ever grind your teeth because you signed up for a webinar or conference to learn the featured content only to suffer through an extended pitch for a new product or event instead? Call a preview a preview, so customers understand what they’re getting into. Don’t invite visitors to your website to download a “report” that is little more than a promotion. Earn trust by setting up accurate expectations.
11. Non-free freebie
When you describe something as “free,” that means it has no cost. Period. Something that the customer receives only when they buy something else is not free. Marketers often fudge this because they understand the power of the word “free.” Customers get disgusted because they were attracted and then fooled by the word “free.”
12. Numbers rule
Testing helps us determine what works better than what. However, some marketers go beyond the usefulness of testing to claim that whatever gets a better response is always the better tactic. A little voice inside you worrying that maybe a headline, a selling technique or a marketing spiel goes too far is irrelevant, they say. On the contrary, giving that little voice a fair hearing can often keep you from getting customer backlash and negative media attention. It also helps you maintain your self-respect!
All in all, if you wouldn’t feel comfortable having something be exposed on the front page of the newspaper, engraved on your tombstone or part of your entry interview at the pearly gates, don’t do it. Guard your reputation. Treasure your conscience.
As a business owner, it can be hard to know when to bring people into your professional inner circle, and when not to. The truth is, you never really know who you’re dealing with in a business relationship until you actually start working with someone. This holds true for employees, vendors, advisors, and certainly with potential business partners.
The concept of opening your business, brand, and ideas to someone new (oftentimes at a high rate of speed) can be difficult to comprehend and to feel comfortable with. The trouble is, that when tasks grow beyond your level of expertise you may find yourself with no choice but to trust others and let them in.
A partnership is the extreme example of trust in a business relationship. So often you hear about partnerships that have gone terribly wrong for one reason or another. That’s why I have chosen to work instead with the franchise model.
Over the past fifteen years my work has focused on franchise development. This structure is a derivation of partnerships, as it entails a rapid-paced partnership development with each franchise that is sold.
The franchise model is a vehicle that allows a business owner to bring partners into their brand and business without giving up control or opening the brand up to the pitfalls of a bad partnership.
Franchising works because you as the franchisor have the ability to disqualify anyone for any reason in the franchise sales process. This process should be a deep, two-part evaluation of the buyer. First, working to understand whether they have the tangible business elements and experience needed to start the franchise successfully. Second, examining the intangible aspects of each buyer’s character and personality to see whether the arrangement would make a good partnership.
Once a franchisee has purchased your franchise, they agree to operate the business using certain business practices, standards, and minimum performance requirements. Unlike a business partner, who can change the business model and who operates as an equal to you, a franchisee is clearly structured to be subordinate to the franchisor.
The Franchise Agreement is a lease of your intellectual property and brand. This means that a franchisee must uphold the original franchise terms or risk being fined or even having the business relationship terminated altogether.
Because the franchisee is making an investment into their own success, their business gain or loss is their own. In this way, they are deeply invested and thus don’t require the supervision and oversight that an employee might.
In the end, if you want to grow your business beyond what you can accomplish on your own, it’s going to take trust. The Franchise model is an alternative to a traditional partnership that allows you to expand while still protecting your investment and maintaining consistency throughout.
This post is sponsored by The UPS Store. For more information, please see the end of this article.
Networking, in-person and one-on-one, is one of the most important and fundamental aspects of marketing and growing your business. A successful networker is able to quickly share who they are, while being able to listen to and learn about those around them.
Networking is a great way to build your in-person peer group, find your next hire, connect with your next client or engage a future partner. This importance of networking is borne out by a recent nationwide survey of small business owners conducted by The UPS Store.
Benefits of Networking
There are several benefits of networking, such as:
You never know who you will meet at any given moment. Be patient, but be diligent. Networking takes time. It should not be seen as something that takes away from your business, but rather something that contributes to the important messaging and branding behind your business.
To maximize your efforts, network with a purpose; go into a networking session with a road map/plan of action, every single time. A plan helps ensure that you will not waste valuable time.
Quality vs. Quantity
Network quickly to connect with more people, but make sure to network smartly to connect with the right people.
Give & Take: Have a Discussion
1. LISTEN, share and speak with the other person.
2. Genuinely take interest in the conversation.
3. Consider how can you contribute to their success.
4. Save substantive discussion for follow-up; don’t throw everything at them at once.
5. Politely and purposefully move the conversation.
Plan in Advance
Arrive early. In some circles, being on time is considered late. Interesting things happen when you arrive early â you have the chance to receive more advanced knowledge and have a look around before things begin to get hectic. You can also:
What to Bring to a Networking Event
Dress well and bring your winning personality. You should also have these things on hand:
Business cards are still one of the simplest, most effective marketing methods available. While technology has made sharing information more state-of-the-art, the business card still holds an important place in person-to-person marketing efforts. Planting a card into a new contact’s hand is faster and less intrusive than apps or online tools, plus it has that personal touch. The physical card gets people talking. The moment a phone is entered into the situation to pull up an app, the personal connection begins to fade, as attention is pulled to the device and away from the person right in front of you. If you absolutely must have an app for your contacts, InfusionSoft Snap, and Nimble can help you organize your contacts using the information gleaned off the cards you receive.
Banners, posters, brochures, business cards, catalogs, envelopes, flyers, forms, greeting cards, are all ideas of print marketing materials that you should keep readily available when traveling to networking events. You always want to use whatever means are necessary to get yourself in front of the right people, the right way. Don’t just stick to traditional methods.
Being diverse and being prepared will help set you apart from the others. The more options you have, the better the chance that you’ll make an unforgettable first impression.
Words To The Wise
A few tips to keep in mind as you set off on your networking adventure:
Have An Elevator Pitch
This short blurb is a “must-have” communications tool in any small business owners’ arsenal. Coming up with one is easier than you might think. Practice a brief, persuasive speech designed to spark interest in your small business. It should be creative, articulate, and simple. Ideally, you’ll want to keep it to 3 minutes or less.
Follow up is important in any business, and the sooner, the better. Reach out while you’re still fresh in their minds to ensure the best results.
To learn more about networking, tune into the free SCORE / The UPS Store Webinar, “Power Networking to Generate Sales & Make Relevant Connections”. It’s packed with fantastic networking information from some of the most savvy professionals around. Join speakers Ramon Ray, 4x entrepreneur, bestselling author, and amazing pancake maker, along with The UPS Store and SCORE’s Steve Jarriel as they discuss how every business owner can use networking to expertly grow their business.You won’t want to miss it. The SCORE LIVE Webinar ended on August 4, 2016 at 2:00pm EDT. Production of the on-demand recording is now underway. Check it out, HERE.
I am blogging on behalf of The UPS Store and received compensation for my time from The UPS Store for sharing my views in this post. The views expressed here are solely mine.
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