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The Bane of Small Business Existence

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One of the banes of small business existence is figuring out the whole online marketing puzzle. It really is a Rubik’s cube, isn’t it? Well, here’s one answer for you: unify your online listings to increase Google visibility and SEO strength. This is a tip for businesses that have a physical address.

The fact is that many businesses have more than one way of listing their name and address. For example, my business address is listed as:

533 Airport Blvd., Suite 400, Burlingame, CA 94010
533 Airport Blvd., #400, Burlingame, CA 94010
533 Airport Blvd., Burlingame, CA 94010

I know they don’t look that different, but trust me when I say that Google doesn’t see these as the same. Updating your listings across 50 different sites on the internet can be a real time-consuming chore. Thanks to Moz Local for providing a way to automate the chore for just $84 for a one-year period.

First, do a free analysis here to see if there are discrepancies across listings or ones that are incomplete (like the one missing my suite #). If you see room for improvement, then go forward and pay them the $84 for the valuable service of taking care of it for you. Another step towards online mastery will be complete. Let me know if you have any questions about this. I’ll put you in touch with Ken who gets all this even better than I do.

Don’t Be Donnie Discounter

It’s time for a new sales-related video that’s up on my YouTube Channel. This clip talks about a trap that salespeople can fall in to and that’s frequent discounting.

Giving away extra services that should be charged for would also apply here. While it’s good to be aggressive and seek to capture every sale opportunity, it’s harmful to a business to discount regularly. It also doesn’t bode well for a sales person to always walk with a crutch.

Watch the video here. If you know a salesperson who’s caught in this trap, please do share it with them.

Book Recommendation: Grit

Boy do I have a GOOD ONE for you this time around! This brand new book unravels a mystery that has bedeviled the leaders at West Point for years: Why do a certain number of cadets drop out during the 7-week basic training nicknamed Beast Barracks even though their formal education hasn’t started yet? It’s incredibly difficult to get in to West Point. So, you’d think that nearly every person accepted would tough it out through Beast.Screen Shot 2017-02-24 at 1.45.59 PM

Well, the leaders studied the students in many ways but still hadn’t come across a method that would accurately predict who would make it and who wouldn’t until they met the Grit Scale.

Got Grit?

The Grit Scale, presented in the book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, written by Angela Duckworth, is a unique test. It looks at a variety of factors, but what it measures best is who has the grit necessary to ride out difficult times to last until they achieve their ultimate goals.

Many among us feel that natural talent is what is the basis for some of the highest achieving people in our midst, but that would be missing another huge factor. Passion and perseverance will cause a person to make effort after effort tirelessly over a long period to make it. In fact, in the formula for what takes a person from talent to achievement, effort counts twice. Talent times effort equals skill. Then, skill times effort equals achievement. See how talent alone can fall short?

If you don’t have much talent, then you’ll have to put in even more effort to develop skill.

The author makes a fascinating observation in the book that we as a society seem to be biased towards admiring the gifted and talented over those who succeeded through sheer effort. One reason for this may be that it’s easier for us to feel good about ourselves when we are able to say, “Well, they are super successful because they were bestowed an incredible natural ability.”

Grit is a great book for you if you want to learn more about achievement and what drives it. If you’d like to take the Grit Scale, you can take it here. My grit score was 4.0.

Your Story

I was blessed to be a Coach and Speaker at the 22nd annual Women in Technology Summit. The event had great energy and a clearly positive vibe.
I led two Coaching Circles: one on LinkedIn and the other on Small Business. At the latter one I was asked a really good question that’s pertinent to owners of small businesses. The question was: “How important is having a story as a small business owner?”

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My answer was that it’s REALLY important. A great story will draw people in to your business with curiosity and interest. It’s your hook. After you’ve hooked them your offering should take over.

The 11-year-old Shark Tank Contestant

Here’s an example, 11-year-old Mikaila Ulmer was on Shark Tank with her special variety of lemonade. The recipe it’s based on originated with her grandmother. Mikaila updated the recipe by adding some local honey and other ingredients and wants to support bees with some of the proceeds. The lemonade is now called Me & The Bees Lemonade. Can you imagine this little girl coming to the auditions for Shark Tank among all the older entrepreneurs? She stood way out.

Her story hooked them and got her a $60,000 investment. It also hooked Whole Foods. They loaned her some working capital to increase her flavors and ramp up production. Her lemonade is sold in 55 Whole Foods markets. The first link on her site is Our Story.

Shinola

Have you heard of this brand? It’s based in beleaguered Detroit and their flagship product is a line of reasonably expensive watches. In reality this brand was built from the ground up to be an American success “story”. The founder, Tom Kartsotis, made his riches from the Fossil watch brand and came up with this great story that he believed would capture hearts and minds: A new great American brand that is made in Detroit by people formerly displaced by offshoring. They even invested a pretty penny to purchase the Shinola brand name, which dates back to WWI. The plan has worked beautifully. Their revenue last year exceeded 100 million dollars according to this Inc article.

 

So, What’s Your Story?

 

Now you may not think you have a great story behind your brand, but I believe you do. You may have to dig back in to your past, ask a few people who know you well, and even get a creative writer to help you put it in to words that hook people in. BUT, IT’S WORTH IT. As Shinola, and Me & The Bees have proven, you can take your story to the bank.

Book Recommendation: Be Still

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This month’s book recommendation is a new one from Pico Iyer, a very popular TED speaker. It’s entitled, The Art of Stillness. Interestingly, Pico’s a travel writer who’s been around the world. But, his talk isn’t about what it’s like to go to North Korea or the Himalayas. Instead it’s about going nowhere. He has found that by taking time to just be still for regular periods, he’s able to be better prepared for motion and commotion.

Fairly sensible thought, isn’t it? The book is about how Pico does it; and how you can, too. Nestled among the pages are 2-page spreads of beautiful open spaces that make you think of calmness and serenity. If it’s time for you to slow down and be still, then this book may be coming along at just the right time. At just 66 pages you’ll be able to walk slowly through it in no time, giving you yet more time to be still. Find it on Amazon.

Time to Chill

Screen Shot 2017-02-13 at 4.32.18 PMIs meditation the new black? It just might be.

The World Health Organization called stress the health epidemic of the 21st century.

Stress is estimated to cost American businesses 300 billion dollars per year. There’s little doubt we need to do something about this. Well, there’s one simple solution that works for many people at 0 cost. It’s meditation. Since we’re in the 21st century there’s an app for that.

The one I’m recommending is Headspace, available for both iOS and Android. They have a 10 for 10 program that allows you to use the app for 10 minutes a day for 10 days to experience the difference some stillness can make in your life. I’m going to give it a try. Here’s their website.

A Very Personal Product Innovation

I have a bit of indirect experience with breast pumps. It’s been a while, but I do recall that they are noisy and pretty inelegant. Eventually, all products will be re-invented. Now it’s time for a better breast pump. Enter Naya Health – again from the Bay Area – with their Smart Pump.

It actually uses a water-based suction process as opposed to air. If you know a working mom who’s expecting in the fall this may make a great shower gift. The company is taking advance orders now (don’t you love the sound of that?) for a planned fall debut. You can learn more about this device here. You might like the sleek design of the website, too, as an indication of web design targeted towards women.

And Now for Something Completely Different – Betabrand

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Betabrand is a company based in San Francisco. What they do to sell clothing online is to merge it with Crowdfunding.

Here’s how it works from what I can tell. You can submit a design for a cool piece of clothing. It needs to be pretty out there like a men’s suit that’s a takeoff of a baby’s onesie (appropriately called the suitsie) or a reversible hoodie that’s gold on one side and black on the other (for clubbing and not). After submission, Betabrand may put your idea on their site. Next comes the fun part. Every day people go on to the site and vote for what they like and would buy. The sooner you vote the greater discount you’ll get on the product if it’s made.

If a product gets enough votes it’s made in a limited quantity. A nice built-in feature is that it’ll probably sell out since it received enough up votes to be funded. Get the idea? If not, check out this page on their site or this article from the New York Times.

You can make money by submitting winning designs, vote for what you like, or just buy what’s already succeeded and is available now. This a million-dollar business! Looking at this business model has to get your head spinning.

Talking with past Sales Mastery clients about Sales

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It was a pleasure to be a repeat guest on the Mind Your Own Business podcast with a few past graduates of my Sales Mastery program recently. We were there to talk about Sales.

What does it take to be a success in selling?

What’s key to understand when you’re trying to ramp up your sales skills?

How can a sales coach be helpful in the process?

On the podcast you’ll hear from Chris Palmer who came to me with very little sales experience and not a lot of savvy. After going through my Sales Mastery program he became a sales champion. He started knocking down sales each and every month with confidence.

The other guest is Janet Louie of Golden Phoenix Feng Shui. Janet had no sales experience and little presentation experience. You’ll hear from her how important it is to understand sales when presenting because, after all, presenting is selling. Janet went through Sales Mastery as well and gave numerous presentations while in the program steadily learning how to control and influence an audience to want to buy.

Selling is not easy whether it’s 1to1 or 1 to many. However, when you understand the basics of selling and start to apply them, you will get better. Then, you can start to layer on more to become more confident and sell more regularly.

You can catch the podcast here. Let me know if you have any questions about sales or would like to learn more about the Sales Mastery program. I’ll be starting a new group in the very near future.

Behind the Scenes of a Big Lunch, I Mean Launch

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If you’re out in the East Bay, then you may have already discovered The Organic Coup, America’s first certified organic fast-food restaurant. If you’re wondering how those two could go together, then you’re not in tune with the trends in American eating.

Erica Welton is very aware of the changing tastes of the American consumer and the organic movement. This is because of her many years of experience working for the country’s largest retailer of organic food. Are you thinking that’s Whole Foods? Think again. It’s Costco.

Erica, and Dennis Hoover, an ex-SVP with Costco in the Bay Area, have teamed up to bring a brand new concept to fast food and they’re doing it in such a precise, intuitive and methodical way that I smell success. This recent article from San Francisco Eater gives a ton of detail on the thinking and execution behind this one-of-a-kind restaurant that’s thinking very big. Remember that one of the Success Secrets of Super Achievers is to Think Big.  Even if you don’t care about fast-food or the organic movement, I recommend you read this article. I bet it’ll stoke something in you.