Michele Tocci is a presenter, trainer, coach, author and NLP practitioner. Michele’s vision is to impact and transform individuals to be exceptional and live the life of their dreams. Her mission is to create transformational change in others. She runs Quantum Business Training, and I asked her a few questions about her site.
The blog is designed for business owners and provides articles so that business owners can improve their business. The articles are thought provoking and address areas for improvement. Areas covered include:
> Business development
> Business planning
> Business customer service
> Business marketing
> Business sales
> Business growth
> Business training
What does your website provide?
Initially the blog is providing a complimentary e-book on how business owners can improve their productivity. Eventually it will have a number of e-books related to improving business results. Then e-courses and programs that will educate the business owner that is great at their specialty but is aware that they can improve their business skills.
What readers/customers are you targeting?
My target reader and customer are business owners that are excellent at their trade such as plumber, hairdresser, beauty therapist, electrician, draftsman, etc. Business owners who have trained and developed a skill then set up their own business but haven’t undertaken any education to develop business skills and know that this is an area that they need to increase their knowledge in.
Why did you set your business up?
I owned a business that was excellent yet I lacked business skills to maximize my income so I invested heavily in my own personal development of business skills and it has turned my business around. I then realized there are many business owners who are the same as me. My first business is about time management, business systems and productivity and I find that when I am talking and working with business owners one of the greatest problems is business owners don’t spend and invest time in working on their business as they are so busy working in their business.
Another key message that I wish to spread to business owners is about adding massive value to their clients, the more you take care of others the more it comes back to you. Move your focus from money to value to the client and the income will take care of itself.
Anything else you would like to add?
I am still working through the income blogging guide program with my site. I have received so much value from your site and it has made such a massive difference to my understand.
I’ve been working a little on the site to make it easier for you to use and also sort out some long standing issues. The old saying “The cobbler’s kids have no shoes” comes to mind, so to prevent that and get my site up to date I’ve spent some time on it.
1) Added a shopping cart (WooCommerce). This free plugin (with paid addon extensions – a few I’m using) doesn’t actually work well with Headway at the moment, but with some coding and template tweaks you can get it working and looking great within an hour or so. If there is any interest I might post a tutorial or two once WooCommerce 2.0 is launched – let me know in the comments if so.
2) This allowed me to sell my first premium child theme for Headway – HeadTube. This theme has a full screen video background and color options to make your site really stand out. Currently it’s free for a very short time.
3) I’ve also added free eBooks there and external links to other products that I have created.
4) There is a Shop menu item with dropdowns to the different categories of products, plus a Cart section in the header which will update.
7) Changed the site background. It’s now a nice wooden panel but I’ll be changing it more often as the mood takes me 🙂
8) The Blog page now has infinite scroll. When you hit the bottom of the page, the next set of posts will load and so on so you don’t have to browse to Old/Previous Posts anymore. It reduces page views so on sites where page views matter then I wouldn’t recommend using it, but otherwise it’s an awesome plugin called Infinite Scroll.
9) the site is now “responsive” meaning it looks great on different mobile devices automatically. A future post will go into more detail.
So now that’s done, what can you expect from me in 2013?
– Moving the Services in the shopping cart to allow me to use coupons and offer discounts (oooohh, exciting!).
– More premium child themes.
– EBooks, guides and training materials.
– More videos. Yes I know, I said that last year, but this year….
Is there anything else you want to see from me this year?
What are your plans for 2013? I’m always interested so let me know below what you’re planning to achieve this year.
This is a guest post written by Veronica Clyde. If you’d like to write a guest post please contact me.
Facebook is the social media powerhouse that just about everyone seems to be using. Businesses are making good use of the features on the site, as well. However, it pays to know some of the best practices when it comes to using the site so that it is possible to remain in compliance with the terms and conditions of the site and to gain more friends and followers.
Proper Profile Management
One of the areas where people and businesses seem to have the most trouble is with the profile. It is important to manage one’s profile appropriately. You should make sure that you have a business page for your company, and always read the rules and regulations for the business accounts. These rules change periodically, so you will want to make sure that you have the most current information.
Photos on the profile are a great way to add more elements of interest and to humanize a company. It is important to make sure that any photos, graphics, or videos that you have on your profile are image appropriate and that they represent your business. For different businesses, this may mean different things. A law firm might want to have headshots of their legal team. A crafter who sells quilts online may want to have some homier photos for customers to see. The media you show on your site should match your company. Inappropriate content may turn away some potential followers and customers.
Make sure that you have links available for your website, as well as any other social networking sites to which you belong. The more information available for customers and followers the better. They may want to start following your blog or they may bookmark your site. You should also make sure that you have a Facebook vanity URL, which is going to make it much easier for people to find you on FB.
Connect and Engage
When you are posting content on your page, you have to remember that people want to see more than just information about your latest projects, products, or news. They want to have interesting and engaging information. In addition, make sure that you ask some questions and invite discussion on your page. When you do this, you are able to connect with users more easily on a deeper level. This may even make them want to know more about you and your company, which could lead them to your website.
When you add friends and look for followers for your page, you will want to make sure that you are choosing those that have the most in common with what you have to offer. Having high quality followers and friends on FB is going to be more important than having the most followers.
On those days that you do post information about your products or services, you will find that it is often a better idea to make sure that you are running some sort of special or sale. This will help to get people more excited, and they will be more willing to share the information with their friends and family. You should also make sure that when you have any special events happening on your blog or at your company, you let the people on Facebook know well before it happens. Reminder updates are appropriate as long as they are not constant.
Businesses today are starting to find more ways that they are going to be able to connect with their customers, thanks to technology. Facebook has the potential to be one of the most important tools in any business’s arsenal.
Veronica Clyde is a tech writer at VPNServices.net – a place where you can read reviews about the best VPN providers. If interested check out a Private Internet Access review.
Part 1 of the planning trap covered why it is essential to plan, why taking a day out to focus on planning is important, what looking backwards before looking forwards can do for you and why it is great to start with a big goal.
Dividing a big goal into manageable chunks
Once you have your big goal you can divide it into more manageable periods of time. A three year goal can seem a long time away and it can often be a struggle to associate day-to-day activities now to what will happen in three years time.
In order to make it more real it needs to be chunked into 90 day segments. A quarterly plan allows periodic activity towards the major goal with enough flexibility and control to move in different directions and react to circumstances along that road to the big goal. 90 days in turn can be chunked down further into a weekly plan. 90 days is 13 weeks therefore 13 individual weekly plans will meet the 90 day objectives which will in turn be directly related to hitting the three year goal.
The major advantage to going to the level of creating a weekly plan is you can neurologically associate day-to-day activities moving you closer and closer to the big goal. Suddenly that goal which seemed so far away is getting closer by everything you do each and every day. You can see it, feel it and taste it! Remember that three years is just 12 quarters and approximately 156 weeks, not long when you chunk it down.
Plan the next dates in advance
The key to ensuring one quarterly plan turns into 12 quarterly plans is setting the dates in advance. It would be very easy to do one plan, give yourself a round of applause, get back in to day-to-day life and forget planning ever happened.
Continued success comes from regular planning sessions and creating the habit of taking that day out every quarter. It is only one day every 13 weeks and it can provide such a great buzz of excitement and energy afterwards it’s an absolute must for all successful businesses.
Once you have it, share it
As soon as you have the plan in written format, then the next most important step to make it a reality is to share it with people. If you keep your plan to yourself then it is you versus the plan, if you share it then many people can help you achieve it. They can offer help by providing you with accountability by asking you how you are getting on and the more people you have on your side versus the plan the more likely you are to achieve it.
This isn’t something you must do by yourself. Share it with fellow directors, employees, family, friends, the next door neighbour, anyone who you think can help you in whatever way to make it happen. Taken seriously, the planning trap can be overcome and it is a critical ingredient to making your business a sustained success.
Ever heard the phrase ‘if you fail to plan you plan to fail’?
That is one of many clichés that people use when describing the importance of planning in business. Planning is the most logical and forward thinking activity anyone in business, whether an owner or employee, can do to achieve success, however it is often one of the activities that gets over looked. Planning is often replaced by ‘just getting on with it’ and very often the results can show that ‘just getting on with it’ can be a very expensive mistake.
The successful people see planning as defining the road to success. By taking the time out of day-to-day life and focusing on what needs to be put in place to create that road to success provides vitality, energy, enthusiasm and direction to achieve the goal. Look at sports teams as an example.
Before each season begins the coaches and key personnel will get together, discuss the aims for the season, decide on who needs to be recruited to achieve success, which positions require strengthening and what they are going to do during the season to give themselves the best possible chance of success.
During the season they measure their success against their season goals and adjust anything that needs to be adjusted along the way. The planning at the starts creates the road to success. Here are some awesome tips to make planning easier for you, whether you are a business owner, an employee or a new sports coach…
Begin by taking a day out
First and most important step is to plan the day you are going to plan. Take a day totally out of your usual working environment so you avoid distractions, interruptions and anything that might take you off task. A new venue will help to give the freedom and clarity to think clearly about what you want to lie ahead without worrying about what you are missing in the office.
It will take a whole day so make sure you give it thought. A hotel out of town, a meeting room in a neutral office you could hire, a friend’s house would be great too. It needs to be neutral and can give you thinking time.
Look back before looking forward
The start of every good planning day begins with a look behind at what just happened. If it is your first planning day then the looking back should be over the last 12 months minimum. What did you do well? What did you do not so well? How many of the things you wanted to happen happened? How did you deal with the things that you weren’t expecting to happen? Where were you expecting to be by now? How close to that point are you?
Those questions are vitally important to learn from the past and make the future even better. It can sometimes be very difficult to look into the past but it can be the difference between success and failure moving forward.
Start with the big goal
In order to define your road to success you need to first identify what is at the end of the road. It is essential to have big, long term to be heading towards. At this stage you don’t need to be able to fully define how to get there but you need to know where you are going.
Thinking back to the sports team, they would target a certain position to achieve at the end of the season. Where is it to be number 1 team in their respective league or simply to consolidate their place in the league above the demotion line, it is a goal and a focus.
If you are in business, what do you want your business to look like in three years time? Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Do you want to only work part time in three years time? That’s where your planning day needs to start, defining a long term goal. If you have never planned before then let this be the main focus of the day.
Whether you’ve been in business 20 days or 20 years it’s never too late to set a big, long term goal. Every major successful business in the world today started out with a big goal.
Microsoft, Ford, Apple all had a day when in their infancy a goal was made and a plan was hatched. Use their great examples to do it for yourself.
Any of you who have had a look around my site may have noticed that I am fortunate enough to have a lot of work on at the moment. I currently work with a number of awesome clients who are keeping me busy, and almost all of these projects have originated from recommendations from previous satisfied customers. It is a process that has taken a lot of time to achieve and it certainly hasn’t always been this way, so I thought I’d share some tips on how to get and sustain a viable referral-based business…
Provide great customer service… always
The best way to keep your customers is to provide them with exceptional customer service. When they interact with your business for the first time make a point of making them feel special, and show that you appreciate them. You only get one chance to make a first impression – use it well. Do you have a plan or system in your business for providing awesome customer service every single time a customer interacts with you? It could be the most important system you ever create in your business. If it works and they keep coming back, then keep repeating the process for truly fantastic service. Good reputations spread, but not as quick as bad reputations. Strong referrals come from good reputations.
I do have standard (“canned”) responses to help speed up emails but I always personalize them and address any specific questions the potential client has asked.
Give customers a reason to keep coming back
How often do your customers have a reason to come back and use you again? Is it as long as once or twice a year? Or once or twice a week or even a day? The more they have the chance to use you the quicker your reputation will grow. If your sales are only once or twice a year then keeping in touch with customers via Birthday cards, Christmas cards, regular blogs or newsletters subscriptions keeps you in the forefront of their mind. If they can use your products or services more regularly then give them an incentive to come back through a voucher off their next purchase or a free gift as a loyal customer. Whatever you think will build that all important reputation.
After a while of your customers receiving great service from you the best possible thing you can do is to ask them to describe how they’ve been treated whilst dealing with your company. Customers love to tell other customers about the great decision they made using your company, a testimonial gives them the chance to say that in writing. It is an awesome reputation builder and will give new potential customers the confidence to use you as well.
I love my testimonials page, it’s my favorite page on my website. You should read it, it makes me proud!
Once you have created a great reputation for providing customers with awesome service and they are regulars in your business the final part of gaining referrals is to ASK for them. Many business owners can find this a tough thing to do but it is an opportunity for your customers to validate that they made a great choice in choosing your business by recommending you to other people. You can wait and wait expecting the referrals to come without asking and it may happen but it will be much quicker if you start by asking them.
Offer an incentive
How about giving them a reason to refer you to their friends by offering them an incentive to do so? It becomes a win:win:win scenario, you win as you get more business, they win as they get a gift for recommending and the new client wins because they get to experience what a great business you have and they can receive awesome customer service too.
Keep it up
Once you establish a referral-based cycle like the one described above, the way to keep it is to continue to do what you say you will do, really, really well. Remember that reputations can be trashed much quicker than they can be built, so keep sharp, stay focused and asking for referrals will lead to the holy grail of a referral based business and remove the need for expensive, untried marketing.
How’s your business going? Are you really happy with it, or are you always wondering if there could be a little more you could do, to maximise effectiveness and enhance the time you spend on it?
As bloggers, there is always something new to learn, and new software, platforms and ideas coming along that we could do with keeping up with. Add this in to the everyday needs of our blog, and we soon realize that things can get pretty complicated if we aren’t running a tight ship and keeping on top of everything. Sometimes, though, we can be left struggling for inspiration, and find it tough to work out exactly where we are at with our blogging business, and where we should be headed to get more money, more customers, and more time.
This is where a business mentor can really transform the way you work, and the direction of your business. A savvy mentor can look at your blog objectively, helping you to draft out where you are now and where you want to be. They can usually tell you a simple plan to get the most out of your existing assets, and help you develop a strong strategy which has been proven to work, to get your business to the best possible place to make more money and optimize your products or services.
You don’t need to choose a mentor like Donald Trump or Alan Sugar to set up a great ongoing partnership. Your mentor should have the following characteristics to bring you the best possible support:
A strong understanding of you and your business
Knowledge of the industry you are operating in
Patience to support you without being critical
An ability to support you to develop a long-term strategy to shape the future of your business.
A great mentor can be found in every industry – they are the people who lead your field of interest, anticipating customer requirements and proactively meeting them. Your ideal mentor will be someone with whom you already have a good relationship, but don’t be wary of approaching leaders in your field and asking them to support you in this role.
Most outstanding people have an equally outstanding person who has acted as their mentor, spurring them on to business success. It’s never too late to learn more, develop your business, and see what else you can achieve!
I work with a lot of clients in a lot of different fields. For the most part they are individuals and/or small businesses trying to make their place in the world. Whether it’s business services, life coaching, physical products, or just talking about subjects to show their expertise, often they’re doing it alone.
I have (what I like to think) a very successful collaboration with Andrew Rondeau of We Build Your Blog. We run several things together including the successful all-in-one blogging and website course Income Blogging Guide, and the upcoming WordPress plugin to see all your stats in one place, Pro Blog Stats. We each bring our own unique skills and experiences to make things better than if we did them alone.
However I don’t see many others collaborating or joining together. A lot of people seem to be struggling on their own, setting up a site, producing content, driving traffic, getting business, and so on.
I often think why don’t more people find others that do what they do online and join up? I guess there are a few barriers:
– Trust. If you haven’t met this person before, and perhaps may not meet in person for a long time, how do you trust them? I say look around their site, look on their social media profiles and see what kind of person they are. Contact other people who may have dealt with them, and see what kind of experiences they have had. Gut feeling is also often a good sign, however you have to be careful, see below.
– Relationship. How do you know you’re going to get along with this person and they will do what they say they will do? You don’t. You can try it and see. Start small, perhaps write a guest blog for each other. Perhaps collaborate on an eBook, or a webinar or a small product that doesn’t take much time and see how that goes.
– Money. How can you trust this person will pay you money that is owed to you? Well if you’re currently earning $0 then half of nothing is still zero. However there are safe guards you can put in place. You can alternate payments, perhaps someone pays for the domain name, the other for hosting. Income can be split at certain levels, so when you reach your first $100 then it is split. Don’t wait until it’s $1,000. Keep a spreadsheet or online Google Document that both have access to and can see income and expenditure on.
I have a problem letting go and sharing things and (when it comes to outsourcing) delegating, but I don’t believe I would be anywhere near where I am today without collaboration. What has been your experience?
Yet so many people think it is. Andrew says it much better than me over at We Build Your Blog:
Many people enter the world of blogging believing they are going to be rich within weeks. They believe the hype of the sales pages and the guys standing in front of their big mansions and flashy cars and think, “I want that. I want what they have”.
Read the full blog post here. It’s a great post, and please leave a comment on his site if you’re so inclined.
This is a newsletter article from the October 2010 edition my monthly email newsletter. If you like it and aren’t signed up, simply fill in the form to the right or at the bottom of this post to join.
When you think about the word ‘success’, what springs to mind? The latest Porsche? Being hounded by the paparazzi? A huge house in the country with an Olympic-style pool? The Nobel Peace Prize?
However you define the word, the idea of success if usually loaded with different meanings for different people.
When you first set up your blogging business, the chances are you had a very defined idea of what success would look like to you. I’m not talking about a luxury yacht, eight long-haul holidays a year of first-class flights to drop in on your relatives in the next State, although these may have been in your mind when you first developed your business idea.
Usually, when we approach the idea of success when planning our online business, our goals are a little smaller than that.
What was your yardstick for success? The chances are, you were looking for a way to leave the nine to five rat race and be your own boss. In all honesty, you’ve probably figured by now that working for yourself isn’t just as you pictured it.
Yes, we get to stay at home while our significant other goes out to work, and we have a home office which enables us to sit with the dog or cat when we write.
However, making a small online business work takes hours of solid graft, and the chances are that you are sitting with your laptop or PC in the early light of morning when you could have been tucked up in bed.
So, now that we understand a little more of the pitfalls and challenges of running our business, is it time to reevaluate our measure of success? I’ve been thinking about it recently, and I think success can be measured in a number of different ways…
The categories of success which define our blogging business
When we consider our business, it’s likely that emotional wellbeing comes a long way down the list when we evaluate how we are getting on. The truth is, however, emotional success is a critical part of evaluating how well we are doing.
People who jump out of bed eagerly each morning, itching to pick up their computer and create more products, market their blog and write some killer articles can often be viewed as highly successful. This is because they have found their niche in the market, feel confident and self-assured, and get a real buzz out of what they are doing.
You could argue that this feeling is worth more than money itself, as satisfaction emotionally is something you can’t put a price on. If you’re not feeling a warm glow of appreciation when you settle down at the beginning of a long day, it may be worth the reassess what you are working on, and bring in new ways of providing an income which makes you champ at the proverbial bit to get on with it.
This is a fluffy subject area when it comes to evaluating your business. What does personal success look like to you? Most people would weigh up personal success in the following ways:
Feeling proud of your achievements
Generating a wide readership and loyal customer base
Counting the number of times your site and business are mentioned online
The amount of feedback which you get on your blog from satisfied customers
Being safe in the knowledge that you are being the best you can be, in your industry field
Gaining industry recognition for your achievements
Being acknowledged for your work, in a way that validates your career choice.
Personal success does not just relate to great business practices, however. It can also include more intangible measures, including how your family and friends respond to your career choice, whether you feel fulfilled, and whether you feel confident and happy in what you are doing.
If you are not ticking all the boxes when you evaluate your own personal success, sit down for a moment and consider what you could be doing differently. Are you stressed out all the time?
Think about ways to reduce your workload without compromising on quality. Are your competitors streaming ahead of you in terms of sales, recognition or achievements?
Talk to a business coach about how you could change strategy to achieve what you need. Personal success involves generating job and emotional satisfaction on all levels, not just financial return.
Can you remember when you were at school, and you were waiting to get a grade for a piece of work you had done? Or the glowing feeling of satisfaction you got when you passed an exam or got a great piece of feedback on a paper?
When I talk about academic success, I’m referring more to that feeling of fulfillment than I am about racking up a string of qualifications. Keeping ahead of your industry through regular training, learning new skills and keeping your industry knowledge topped up is a critical part of measuring your success, as these activities bring fulfillment in ways that accruing revenue can’t touch.
Now we come to the unpleasant crunch when it comes to evaluating your success as a blogger. It’s an unfortunate fact of small business ownership that we need to make enough money to survive. Without having a decent income, we can’t undertake training, reevaluate our work/life balance or gain confidence that we have made the right career choice.
Having said all that, we can consider our financial success in a different way, to make us feel more fulfilled. If you wake up every morning and compare yourself to Bill Gates, you won’t ever reach happiness.
Instead, perhaps we should be viewing financial success in a new light. If we have enough money to obtain emotional freedom, personal happiness and buy us some time with those we care about, have we ‘made’ it as bloggers?
In essence, financial success doesn’t come down to having enough money to buy a private jet, or sufficient capital to drive six sports cars. Instead, our financial success could simply be measured by having the space and time to pursue other forms of emotional success – familial security, career satisfaction, and the personal freedom to live as we wish, without feeling constrained or cornered by the job which we do.