Don’t Be Afraid of Google

Google

I recently attended a networking meeting that had a business round table format and I kept hearing two reoccurring themes. The first that a few people wouldn’t let drop was how our local Chamber is worthless. The Chamber bashing was so bad I almost got up and left. I felt uncomfortable sitting there while a member from the Chamber graciously took the abuse. But, instead, I chose to speak up and share how wonderful the Chamber has been for me and my business. My Chamber launched my writing and public speaking income streams.

The second reoccurring theme was your Google presence. No matter how it was sliced and diced the message was clear, “If you don’t follow me and do what I say regarding your Google listing you and your business are doomed.” Well, their mission was accomplished. Attendees sat there with looks of fear on their faces. The room was silent. Business owners looked to their left and their right and were met with faces registering fear.

As a psychologist and business owner, I realized very quickly what was taking place. A few members were using this networking/business round table as their stage to get clients. They were tag teaming and invoking fear and singing praises to how great Google is as a search tool for new customers who want their products. This was followed by again more beating up on the Chamber and how no one goes to the Chamber any longer for local information. In psychology, we use the term “confederate” to describe a person or people that are specifically planted in a group to sway the group regardless if they are right or wrong. Research studies on conformity use confederates and an example can be viewed at this link
https://youtu.be/-qlJqR4GmKw?list=PLB72C822FB82E1A6D

That is exactly what was happening here. Three individuals or couples dominated the meeting by invoking fear, offering a testimonial, and then offering a solution to the group. Think back to large sales meetings or conferences you attended and I bet you can recall a similar incident but didn’t realize it for what it was – a sales strategy.

Now, I am not advocating not worrying about having your Google listing accurate and up to date. But, most of you who have been with me for any length of time have already claimed your business listing and know it is accurate. You also know that if you put all your eggs in one basket and worry only about Google analytics you would get nothing else accomplished. Google is often changing their algorithm. Many “experts” will tell you not to focus on the Google analytic. I agree. Outsource this task. Focus on what you can control.

As a small business owner, you probably do not have the budget to compete with larger companies who have one person devoted to monitoring changes Google is constantly making in how it ranks who get the #1 position. But, you can focus on your lead attraction strategy. That was the missing ingredient at this meeting. No one talked about lead attraction and the things you can do to drive traffic to your website, blog, or social media accounts.

Content marketing is a great tool to use to drive traffic to your website. Content marketing helps you rank higher in Google search results. But, more importantly, you don’t have to wait for your customers to Google you. You are getting your message in front of them so they don’t have to Google you. Content marketing has many forms. It can be the publication of an article or blog post. Media releases are a great way to get your business noticed as well as radio and other guest interviews. Social media also helps you appear in search results. Host a Blab, post a video on YouTube or Pinterest. Published posts on LinkedIn are also great ways to claim your spot in your niche on Google. Get creative. Use your key words. Google rewards good content. Content marketing should be included in your marketing strategy.

Don’t live in fear of Google. Stop worrying about things you can’t control. Take control of the things you can control. You can control your lead attraction strategy. If you don’t have one call me and I will help you design one.

Finish It Up Friday: Why I Don’t Require My Team to Work on Friday

unnamedFriday – oh how that word can invoke a series of fleeting emotions ranging from dread to delight.

I have coined the phrase Finish It Up Friday as a way to make a mindset shift from dread to delight. It is the day to sleep in an extra hour. It is the day to enjoy that first cup of morning coffee knowing there are no real deadlines for the day. There is no better way to start a Friday than listening to the birds chirping, reading morning inspiration, and enjoying that first cup of coffee.

I and my team work long arduous hours Monday thru Thursday. We do not prescribe to a normal 8 hour day. My day is typically starting by 5 or 6 am and ends around 10 or 11pm. My team works diligently providing fabulous services and meeting deadlines so that I meet my deadlines so my clients meet theirs. Much of what my team does for me is often not seen by others. They are busy researching and gathering statistics for my clients or for whatever program I am currently working on. They are busy writing media releases, preparing marketing materials, proofreading and taking care of the invoicing.

Just as many of us observe Sunday as a day of rest I and my team observe Friday as a day of rest. Adopting a casual Friday allows me and my team to recharge our batteries. When we have a fresh brain we are more creative. Also, since they know that I do not expect them to be available on Friday they know they can schedule personal appointments and plan their time off accordingly without fear that there will be work that needs to be completed.

Not much quality work gets completed when you or your employees are mentally exhausted. Using Friday to follow up with clients, finish up a few tasks or projects, and plan for the following week is a great way to unwind and prepare to enjoy the weekend. I am usually only at my desk a few hours on Friday morning taking care of loose ends. Making time to review my week and self-reflect on what went surprisingly well and what was a bit off provides me growth opportunities. I learn from the lessons of the week.

Designing a plan for the upcoming week has shown to increase productivity and increase income. Taking time to plan the tasks I will delegate, prepare for client sessions, and set aside time for writing also reduces the stress that would normally be felt if I had not planned to enjoy a successful week. I have learned when planning what I will delegate I must set up my emails to my team so they do not post until Monday morning because they are so very dedicated they will work on the tasks over the weekend regardless of the due dates.

Finish It Up Friday is a great way to self-reflect on your week, finish up projects or tasks that didn’t get completed, and prepare for the new upcoming week. Know your energy level and planning for self-care is key to success. I encourage you adopt a Finish It Up Friday and allow your employees extra time off. They will reward you with continued hard work, an increase in productivity and creativity as well as loyalty.

Internship 101 – Summer Interns

2016 intern

I see people soliciting requests on Facebook for interns for the summer. One business announced they had openings for 24 interns. Really – your business truly needs 24 interns? How is it possibly running now without those billets filled? Do you have staff who can realistically manage 24 interns? Let’s talk about an internship.

What They Are Not

Interns are not gophers or jack of all trades people that do the dirty work no one else wants to do. They are looking to gain key skills that will help them be employable upon graduation using their degree. I recommend doing a job search to see what other employers are expecting in a job applicant similar to what your intern will be seeking. Help your intern gain these skills. Do not expect an accounting intern to answer phones and make copies. They should be working closing with your accountant or bookkeeper. You would not offer an internship to a pastry chef if you own a realty office unless you currently employ a pastry chef and this person would be supervised by the pastry chef. If you are looking for an office manager intern then ensure you contact a college that has an office manager program or you interview possible interns that office management is their major.

Paid or Unpaid Internships

Unpaid internships are almost unheard of today. A search online will reveal many lawsuits against high profile Universities and Businesses for abusing interns and not paying them a fair wage. You will want to know what the policy is for your state. North Carolina Universities offer paid internships as do various levels of government agencies. Know the rules for your state and the state the student is a student. I had an intern from the state of Minnesota in 2011 and on the intern contract, there was a block for me to check “unpaid”. However, I did reward her with gift cards to various restaurants and clothing stores periodically to show appreciation.

If you are near a military base that has a Wounded Warrior Program you may be able to solicit interns. These interns are free to your business because the intern is drawing a paycheck from Uncle Sam. I have personally had an administrator intern with my business for a short period of time. You must remember these interns can be discharged at any time and probably have doctor’s appointments they must attend. You will need to be flexible.

Job Description Be very clear on the work hours and specific duties. You may only need the person to work on a specific project. Write the job description as clearly as you would a job announcement or job description for an employee.

Review resumes: Ask the applicants to provide a resume. Verify his or her achievements. Do not feel you have to take someone who is not a good fit. You will be investing time in training the person or allowing the person to hone a skill i.e. web design, social media management etc.  Ask for references and contact them. Treat this just as you would when hiring a permanent employee. Asking for a resume and references will help the intern prepare for job hunting after the internship.

Conduct Interviews: Be prepared to interview the applicants and ask for references. Ask the person what he or she expects to gain from the internship. Search online for appropriate questions to ask the interviewee. This may be the intern’s first job interview. Help them learn from this experience. Don’t be afraid to say “no”. If the intern is not right for your business offer a few referrals for him or her to contact. Explain to the intern why they are not a right fit for your business. Don’t let them leave wondering. Build up their self-confidence.

Goals

After your interview pick one or two goals for your intern. The intern and his/her advisor will also have goals for the intern. Be cognizant of this and respect the goals the college or university has for the intern. In the paperwork, you will need to list milestones and how the student will reach the milestones and goals for the internship.

Intern Policy

You will need an intern policy. This will be similar to your employee handbook list of rules. You will want at a minimum to include information such as:

  • Work Hours
  • Work Uniform – Dress Code
  • Confidentiality Agreement
  • NonCompete Agreement – do this regardless if your state upholds NonCompete Agreements
  • Cell Phone Policy

Contract

You will want your intern to sign a contract. Your contract will be very similar to your employee contract. They will also have paperwork that you must sign for their college or university.

Hiring

You may decide to offer your intern a paying job after the internship. This is a win-win if you and your intern considered the internship a success. Remember, interns are at your business to learn so you set the tone of what he or she will expect when hired by you or another business owner.

Where to Find Interns

There are many websites that are similar to job boards that are specifically for interns to post what type of internship they are seeking as well as the business owner can post a job description. You may also want to contact colleges and universities in your area to see if they have an intern program. Family and friends may be a source for finding an intern. But I caution you to realize that rarely do recommendations from friends and family work out. If the person is not happy there are usually hurt feelings for all parties involved.

 

http://www.internships.com/employer

http://www.internmatch.com/internships

http://www.tweetmyjobs.com/employers

 

Hiring an intern is not something that should be taken lightly. You must know your state rules on whether you must pay or not pay an intern. The same effort you take in interviewing and hiring a new employee must be used when seeking an intern. Interns provide value to you and your business. You provide a valuable opportunity to the intern. Review the list above and design an intern strategy so you both consider the internship a success.

3 Reasons to Delegate

CoachJ9Delegating

Delegating tasks are one thing many business owners just don’t do. Some people may say that business owners do not delegate because they are stubborn and want to do everything themselves. As a business coach, the excuses I have heard are “I don’t have the money.” Or “it takes longer to train someone than I can do it myself.” These are excuses. Business owners do not delegate takes because they do not realize the benefits to the business. When business owners begin to build their teams with virtual assistants, part-time employees or 1099 contractors they will see their business grow. When the business is growing typically the profits are growing too.

Here are my three reasons that business owners should delegate.

1. Your idea or vision gets completed faster. It doesn’t sit on your desk waiting for “someday”. When you delegate a task or project you give a completion deadline to the team member that is completing the task. You need to put on your business owner hat and stop wearing your worker bee bonnet. Leaders delegate, follow-up, and review the work of their employees. They are ultimately responsible for the end product. But, when you surround yourself with niche experts the work will get done faster and with more accuracy than if you attempted to do it yourself. Remember, “someday” never comes.

2. You save time and money. Often the person you are delegating too can complete the task faster than you. This saves you time and money! If you are not an expert at social media marketing, website updates, or newsletter creation then outsource these tasks to a virtual assistant who is the expert. You would not attempt to bake a three tier wedding cake if you are not a professional cake designer. Ok, you may attempt it but admit it probably wouldn’t look as good or taste as yummy. We have all seen the tattoo picture circulating on social media with the person holding a picture of an intricate design and the tattoo artist drawing a tattoo that looks like a kindergartner did it. You often get what you pay for. Do not be this person scrimping and trying to do it yourself when you should delegate the task. Another example is the person that won’t pay for website maintenance or creation and it is a hot mess or nonexistent. Put a value on your time. When you realize you could have earned thousands of dollars but instead wasted the time trying to do your own website or fix your computer when you could have paid a few hundred dollars and let an expert get it updated or fixed within an hour or two. Time is money. Respect your time and money. Focus on the return on investment (ROI) when you delegate to someone who is an expert and can do the task faster and better.

3. You get more accomplished. When you delegate to your team you will be more productive. More tasks will get completed each day. You can focus on revenue producing activities while your team is taking care of the other things. Some items to delegate to your team include writing correspondence and mailing, bookkeeping, social media management, website updating, newsletter creation and other lead attraction strategies. You may also want to delegate the office cleaning, shopping and running errands, and bill paying. I have several people on my team and they each are experts at what they do. One is fabulous at writing media releases and conducting research. Another is in charge of my client care which includes scheduling, following up at times, and sending invoices. In the past, I have had a great gal who came to my office once a month to do filing and help keep me organized.

I first started delegating after I had been in business for two years and realized I still had items on my original opening day of business to do list. Those items were still on the list because I didn’t know how to do them or didn’t want to do them. I hired a school teacher who was unemployed for the summer and within a few days, she had my to-do list completed.
I challenge you to look at your to-do list. What has been on there for a while? Why is on there? Also, look around the piles in your office or on your desk. How could you benefit by delegating some the work? Would you be less stressed? Would you find things easier? Look at your bank and credit card statements. Did you pay late fees because you forgot or couldn’t find a bill and it was paid late? Make a list of things that you would like to delegate or should delegate. Envision how you would feel if you did not have to complete the tasks that are on your list of things to delegate. I bet you feel a sense of relief that you do not have to do those tasks.

Remember, delegating is part of growing your business. Make your list of tasks or projects you would like to not have to continue working on and want to delegate. Then look forward to my next article where I will share tips on how to choose a virtual assistant or employee.

Tips for Falling Back In Love With Your Business

customersLoveYouWe all hit that brick wall at times where we are no longer jumping out of bed each morning excited to start our day. When you find yourself lying in bed dreading to get up and start your day you know it is time to do some self-reflection and find out what is zapping your energy.

Retreat from Your Business and Self Reflect
1. Mission & Vision – are you still honoring your original mission and vision for your business? If not, why did you get led down a different path? Were you chasing money to pay the bills instead of following your heart? Make time to review your mission and vision statement and update as necessary.

2. Evaluate Your Circle of Influence – do you have a support system that truly cares about you and your business? Do you have people sabotaging your efforts or belittling your goals and dreams? Use the attachment to take the time to evaluate your circle of influence. Make necessary adjustments so you can thrive.

3. Work Less – I know this may sound impossible but a few years ago my Coach told me to stop working so many hours. Set office hours and honor them. Use my productivity tracker to see where your time goes and how much time is being spent on tasks. If you would be outraged that an employee took so long to complete a task then revamp that task. I recommend setting a timer or placing a time limit for tasks. You will find you get the work completed within the time frame or sooner. You will be focused.

4. Delegate – delegate any task that does not bring you JOY. Find a virtual assistant or outsource to FIVERR or Elance if you do not have employees. Many tasks can be done faster and better by someone else. You do not have to do everything. Remember, two heads are often better than one. I would personally be lost without my team to jump in and help when I am sick, helping a client in crisis, or just by doing the tasks I don’t like to do. Give up control and delegate so you can focus on revenue generating tasks.

5. Invest in Self Care – you need to be the top priority for your business. This includes your physical and mental well-being. If you are not physically and mentally in shape you will be no good to your business. This means you may need to adopt an exercise program. You are worth the 30 or 60 minutes a day needed to focus on your health. When you exercise your body will release endorphins and you will have mental clarity. Your mood will be elevated for hours afterward. This will cause you to be more creative and productive as well as just a more pleasant person to be around.

Are you ready to start jumping out of bed to get your day started? Implementing my five tips above will help you have a positive mindset and more energy. This will aid you in attracting abundance. The Laws of Attraction are always at work. Like attracts like – don’t attract negative. Adopt a positive mindset so that you attract positive things for you and your business.

Sending wishes for an abundant 2016!

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