Tag Archives: small business

Time and Fear Are Artificial Constructs

Victoria Kamm SEO Social Media SpecialistThis came back to me full force yesterday at a networking meeting.

The conversation centered around the failure of so many small businesses to utilize social media.  There were a lot of reasons but the two most offered were time and fear.

There is absolutely no question that marketing takes time.  Marketing is a strategy to make or keep a brand top of mind.  It can’t be accomplished without a strategy and ongoing effort.

Many business owners believe they can’t devote time to any type of marketing because they’re so busy working.  I get that. Every dentist knows when there’s no drilling there’s no billing.  Still there had to be a way to get that person with the aching tooth in the door.

Every entrepreneur is an optimist.  You have to be.  That’s different from believing your product is so incredibly useful/innovative/time-saving/fill in the blank that people will come rushing to you.  Money in hand. Screaming for your product.  Without you lifting a finger to promote it.

Another comment was fear.  The online world doesn’t support ongoing B2C efforts at least not for long (spam filter anyone?).  The online world is C2B©.  Customers are in charge here.  They search for what they want when they want.   If you happen to have what they want when they want it everybody wins! You’re not online? Well somebody wins just not you.

It’s scary to put yourself out there.  Have you really considered what would happen if you became extremely successful?  It changes your life.  Maybe that’s way scarier than commiserating with others who are “doing okay, surviving, keep their heads above water”.

How do we support small business owners to get past these false reasons for not taking advantage of the opportunities of social media?

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Have You Become Simply Proficient?

It’s become difficult to find anyone who thinks “No Child Left Behind” turned out well.  We expected our kids to become proficient.

The payoff to the school was so important that subjects not on the proficiency tests were dropped from the syllabus.  In at least one local high school in Toledo the physics class deleted the chapter on simple machines like pulleys, cranes and wheels. I didn’t know you could learn physics without that!

But, alas, it’s not on the test.  Art and music?  Why waste time on something so tangential to real learning?

Mark Edmundsen’s piece in the New York Times The Pink Floyd Night School is a reminder that we need to do other things than simply increase our facts base.

Are you learning more and more tactics for your particular niche?  Are facts and figures your stock in trade?  Is the information you’re sharing with clients findable elsewhere online?

By themselves these tasks are fine.  But how are you adding to the knowledge base? That requires original thought.  The ability to synthesize unrelated parts of the world.  A tremendous amount of looking at things other than your specialty.

Pass the proficiency test and you’ll find clients who need your services.  Get a reputation for creative problem solving using your technical skills and clients will find you.

The Most Important Listening Post Is The One At The Top

Rebellion happens when people do not believe they are being heard.  Sometimes it leads to revolution.

It’s easy to pick out the events of the last decade that changed the world.  Not just due to the events themselves but to the changes that were required because of them. The biggest?  9/11. Katrina. Lehman Brothers closing.

Lehman’s failure and 9/11 were caused directly by organizations.  Katrina was a force of nature but New Orleans could have been more levee prepared and the aftermath better managed by the organizations in charge.

It’s human nature not to change when we’re comfortable.  And boy do we like to be comfortable!  Regrettably one person’s comfort is another’s denial.  How often have you heard “I saw it coming but nobody above me wanted to know.”  I’ve heard it and in a few very unfortunate situations I was the one who didn’t want to know.

Social media experts counsel their clients to put listening posts in several places online.  Listen to customers.  Listen to competitors. Listen to suppliers. It’s great advice!

Here’s the thing.  Listening has to start at the top. And it has to be okay for the other listeners to bring uncomfortable information.  Unless you’re looking for a rebellion, or worse a revolution, it really the only way.

The Law Of Repetitious Ignorance

Is that one of the greatest phrases ever written or what!  Thought provoking on so many issues and levels.  I wish I had made it up but the credit goes to Montessori International founders Mark and Elizabeth Clare Prophet.

How many times have you repeated something without questioning?  Passed it on to others?  Realized when it was way too late there were other perspectives?

Shoot.  We’ve all done it.

I’m looking at the different areas of my life this week in order to discern where I have fallen victim to the law and where I have enforced it.  It will probably take a lot longer than week.  Self examination is funny that way.

“The unexamined life is not worth living” said Henry David Thoreau.  Here’s the good news and the bad news about that: Once you start you will never be able to go back.

The Disposable Laptop

I just spent two weeks without my laptop.  I didn’t realize I would be without it so long but after I did everything I knew I took it to the repair place I normally go.  They were three to four business days out just for diagnostics.

Oh. My. God.  I nearly fainted when I found out the cost.

Not because I had to replace the operating system.  Not because I was ambivalent about needing my documents and photos (yes I had backed them up to Carbonite a couple days before it went down – okay I thought I did but no). Not because I am against companies making a profit.

I nearly fainted because for another $100 I could have purchased a new one…every day of the week.

Could I have purchased the top of the line? No. But if I had to start over – and I pretty much did – then what was the point of keeping the old one?  Was I better off getting a newer, faster model?

I pulled up my big girl panties and paid for the repair.  I still love my computer.

The store owner told me within five short years computers will be disposable.  I don’t think we’ll have to wait that long.

Social media has offered up a ton of places online to keep photos, videos, powerpoints, documents.  Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Slideshare.  And mobile?  It’s already crazy out of control and we may not need laptops period.

Even for someone who loves the chaotic, messy, almost instantly obsolete world that is the internet that feels insane!

Two Meetings And Out

It took me a long time to stop focusing on potential clients.  I mean the clients I met, had a meaningful conversation or two, sent the proposal, considered the project a slam-dunk.  Like a summer camp romance I never heard from them again.

Oh my gosh. It’s demoralizing to think how much time I spent waiting for someone to call.  Or I would call and leave a perky message.

Yes it would have been better if the other person said, “I’m just not that into you/your company/your offer”.  Actually the silence was deafening but like most entrepreneurs I thought it nearly impossible to get turned down or they were busy or they needed to get the cash together.  Sigh.

So I took the advice of a member of my Mastermind group.  He never has more than two meetings with a potential client.  Then it’s go or no go.  He doesn’t spend any time worrying about it.

I am not doing this perfectly – one characteristic of an entrepreneur is eternal optimism.

Why does he have such success? He closes a large percentage of these deals.

His ability to sit down with the people who will really benefit from his expertise and to close the deal makes all the difference.

I’m working on that too.

Fighting Gravity

The peonies my mother-in-law planted in what is now our front yard are shooting up. All the information these spectacular flowers need to grow is completely contained in a seed the size of a pea.

I am obsessed with that.  How can all the necessary information be there?  Especially the part about moving up through hard soil…against the rules of gravity.

What is it about flowers and grass and trees that they grow against all odds?  That once they start it takes extraordinary measures to stop them like a complete lack of water or an extreme wounding?

We all know people like that.  Nothing stops them even when the extraordinary  intervenes. How is it some continue to move upward even against the gravity of circumstances that stop others in their tracks?

Why isn’t it more common?

Over the next few months I am going seek out these amazing people and tell their stories. Won’t it be wonderful to learn how to do it ourselves?

It’s What They’re Thinking That Matters

Ever find yourself at party talking to someone who appeared to be a Stepford Wife?

Ever worked with someone who didn’t have the skill set to really do the job they were hired for and you had to manage them or maybe worse be on his “team”?

Ever tried to convince someone of your product’s or service’s value and simply got a blank stare?

These situations rarely end well.

One of the hardest things we have to do is step outside ourselves and try to think like the other person in the conversation. The great thing about parties is you can excuse yourself and simply move on.  An employee or customer is an entirely different story.

Most of us believe if we simply keep talking the light bulb will go on and we will get exactly what we want from others.  That only works if we are speaking the same language as the other person.

It’s a difficult lesson.  Keep at it.  Your entire world will change if you do.

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You Have To Be Kidding Me!

I met with someone who told me he wanted to target women as clients.

The conversation went downhill from there.

He said women always defer to their husbands so it was natural that he focus on the men even if both were in his office.

I grew up with a twin brother in a home that proclaimed “It’s a man’s world!” very loudly when I would try to do something out of the ordinary.

My business partner didn’t believe me years ago when I said it was crucial that I go on calls by myself because while he was not technically proficient in that particular business I would be ignored. He’ll tell you it still happens.

I really believed it was because my career choices put me in as a definite minority. It was just part of that world. (I rarely found this working with refrigeration contractors by the way. Once they understood I knew what I was talking about and that I enjoyed working with them they were nothing but great!)

I am so disappointed to find it in the bigger world. What year is this? Will my daughter have to continue to fight this stupid, stupid thought process?

I detest looking for the silver lining – that’s denial. But I will be spending some time assessing what I think, even unconsciously, about markets I’m targeting.