Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We've Moved and Other Big Changes!



You've probably noticed I haven't been around much the last few weeks. We've been busy creating the Chief Virtual Officer website and blog. Our goal is to help new and aspiring virtual assistants now that they are business owners and no longer employees.

We've launched our new website and blog! All the great information you found here can now be found at the Chief Virtual Officer blog. In addition to my blog posts, we're adding blog posts by two additional business coaches, Joel D Canfield and Jerry Kennedy. Joel is my husband and business partner. Together we offer coaching for virtual assistants. Jerry is another business associate and has been a sales trainer for many years. So come on over and join in the conversation.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Increase Your Productivity With a Business Plan

Raise your hand if you have a business plan. Does your business plan include specific goals, strategies and actions to increase your productivity?

You may feel, as I once did, that creating a business plan will require more time, money and thought than you want to expend. Besides, you're not really sure how a business plan can help you in your day to day business or increase your productivity.

I learned that creating a business plan does not need to take as much time or money as I thought. I came to understand the real value of having a plan with specific action steps I could take on a daily basis to increase my productivity.

Do you have a business plan and if so, does it include specific steps to generate traffic, leads and revenue?

At Canfield Kennedy InstantBizPlan.com they help you write a business plan in under two hours. Download your free report "6 Mistakes That Could Destroy Your Business...and How You Can Avoid Them".

Monday, October 12, 2009

Sell an Outcome

I recently read some information about marketing that I found very interesting. It's important to market in order to grow our businesses. If we are doing the same old thing we have been doing to market our business, it becomes stagnant and our business does not grow.

The thought I found interesting was instead of selling or marketing the service, let's sell an outcome. Instead of saying "I provide administrative services", say "I save service providers time and money".

This is an important mind shift for many. Prospects and clients need to understand what outcome they can expect from using our products and services.

How do you sell an outcome?

Monday, October 5, 2009

Organizing Your Home Office with a Whiteboard

Today is Improving Your Office Day. This past year we made a major improvement on our home office. We added whiteboards to help us stay organized. There's a small one to the right of my desk that I can just reach over and jot a quick note down. I use it to see at a glance my goals for the month.

Behind my desk is a very large whiteboard that is used for ongoing projects. It lists what needs to be done and by when and who the task is assigned to. It's helped us all stay more focused on what needs to be done.

What will you do to improve your office today?

Monday, September 28, 2009

Constructive Criticism: Be Specific, Be Kind

The correct use of punctuation and grammar is especially important when distributing marketing materials to prospects and clients. Improper use of punctuation and glaring typos can quickly turn a prospect's interests elsewhere. So I try hard to proofread anything before I send it out and often have a second set of eyes double check.

However, there are still times when something slips through the cracks. Perhaps we meant to type 'an' and instead typed 'and'; it may be we used a superfluous apostrophe. We get so excited about our topic that we type up that blog entry and post it and then we realize we made a typo. It happens to all of us and these occasional slips are not the end of the world, though we may feel they are at the time. But if our material often has they same type of mistakes, we may need to consider what we can do to change that.

As embarrassing as it is to have an error pointed out, I appreciate it when one is kindly brought to my attention so I can correct it and work harder not to allow the same type of mistake in the future. When a mistake is brought to my attention, it helps me stay on my toes and proofread my work with a more critical eye. In my coaching practice, I help other virtual assistants pay attention to the details of their written materials and when it's necessary to bring a mistake to their attention, it's with the goal of helping them present themselves in the best possible light to their prospects and clients.

Recently I posted an article on a local online paper and shared the news with many other virtual assistants (VAs). One of the VAs sent me a message to let me know of typos and grammatical errors she found in a particular paragraph of the article. Her message did not point out any specific errors and she concluded by saying perhaps I needed an assistant to help me proofread.

Since none of us like to have errors pointed out, my first reaction was to get defensive. But if there were errors, I did want to know about them so I could correct them if possible and be more careful in my proofreading in the future. So I pulled up the article so I could find the errors. When I couldn't find any, I asked two other people to review the article and they couldn't find the errors either.

Now I felt defensive and offended. Not only could we not find errors, this person had framed the message in such a way that it felt she was attacking me; not that she was trying to kindly help me. To make it even worse, the subject line of her email to me had a typo. I took a moment to calm down and thought perhaps she saw something we missed and I really did want to know what the errors were so I could fix them. So I replied and let her know how much I appreciate it when mistakes are pointed out so I could correct them. I explained that my husband had proofread the article and couldn't find the errors. I asked if she could give me specifics so I could correct them; otherwise, I stood behind my work. I chose not to point out in my reply that her subject line had a typo.

Unfortunately her reply stated that if I didn't know what the errors were, she didn't have time to go back and find them and point them out to me; that if I didn't see them, I should stand behind my work. This reply really made me upset. If she had been willing to give me specifics when I asked and I felt her motives were because she actually cared about me and my work, I wouldn't have felt so offended and upset.

After typing up a scathing response, instead of sending it, I deleted it. There's no sense in throwing mud around; no good purpose would have been served. Instead, I chose to write this blog post. My purpose in writing this post is to emphasize the importance of being specific and kind when offering constructive criticism.

How can you offer kind and specific criticism? If the roles had been reversed, here's how my message would have read:

Dear Mary (name has been changed),

I saw your article posted on your local online paper about the virtual assistant industry. Congratulations! The article was interesting and it's good to see more people becoming aware of the need for virtual assistants.

As a fellow VA I know you always want your marketing materials to be the best. I did note a typo in paragraph two (you typed 'and' when you meant to type 'an') and a small grammatical error in the third sentence (give specific example). I know how challenging it can be to proofread and catch everything.

Congratulations again on the great article!

Your fellow VA,

Sue


What are your thoughts on this? Was I too quick to be offended? How would you have handled this situation?

To every VA out there - Keep up the good work!

Friday, September 25, 2009

4 Online Marketing Tips

1. Social Networking - Use social networking responsibly. It can be addictive and time-consuming. I suggest joining Twitter andFacebook and perhaps one more specific to your industry. Maintain a complete and updated profile. Then start connecting with people. Don't just connect for the sake of adding another contact. Really take time to get to know the person you are connecting with.

2. Blogging for Business - Schedule time to create blog entries. Start with two entries per week. Don't forget to go out and contribute valuable comments on other blogs in your industry. I'd recommend trying to make two valuable comments per week to begin.

3. Newsletters
- Your newsletter should provide interesting and valuable information. Stick to a consistent schedule of sending it out.

4. Articles - Write interesting and informative articles. These can be used in your newsletter, on blog posts, posted on your website and submitted to article directories.

What's your favorite online marketing tip?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Build Relationships to Develop Loyal Clients

The key to word-of-mouth referrals is to build relationships that develop loyal clients. When your clients trust you and know your customer service exceeds their expectations, they will go out of their way to promote you and your services to others.

So how can you build relationships that develop loyal clients? You begin by giving your prospects something of value. Provide a free report and valuable information in a newsletter. Your newsletter should not just be an ongoing pitch of your services. Provide something of value - tips, advice, and resources they can use in their business. This helps build trust in your expertise.

Once a prospect becomes your client, continue providing valuable information. Let your clients know of any specials or events that may interest them. Connect with them on Facebook and comment on what they are doing.

What do you do to build relationships and develop loyal clients?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

All Moms Work: Juggling Homeschooling and Growing A Home-Based Businesses, by Sue Canfield

All Moms Work: Juggling Homeschooling and Growing A Home-Based Businesses, by Sue Canfield

Give More to Get More

Would you like to get more clients? Then consider giving your prospects something more - for free.

Before a prospect becomes your client, they need to come to know and trust you. One way they can learn more about you is if you give them something of value absolutely free. Sure there will be those who accept your free gift and not use your services. But those that are truly interested will be impressed by the trust you extend in giving them something of value. Those are the ones that will become your clients and word of mouth referrers.

You may choose to give a free report to prospects that sign up for your newsletter. When you sign up for my newsletter, you'll receive a 3-page report detailing 9 specific reasons to hire a VA, 4 Income Generating Tasks to delegate to a VA, Can I Afford a VA? and How do I find the right VA for me?

If you really want to give something away for free, offer a free report on your website and do not require an email. I offer a list of 30 Projects a Virtual Assistant Can Do in One Hour.

What can you give away?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Take 5...Minutes to Connect With Your Target Market

It's easy to feel overwhelmed with all the various ways to market on the Internet. Because we are so busy, we may feel there's not enough time to make real meaningful connections with our target market using social media.

Why not just Take 5? Take five minutes a day and do one of the following five things to connect with your target market.

1. Direct message (DM) a contact on Twitter. Perhaps you noticed they just posted a new blog entry you enjoyed reading. Let them know with a DM.

2. Send a message to a connection on Facebook. Did one of your clients just announce a new service or product? Send them a message and congratulate them!

3. Comment on a blog post. You should be following blogs relevant to your industry. Take 5 minutes to make a meaningful comment on a blog entry and add value to the conversation.

4. Write a short blog post. Take 5 minutes to write a short blog post with the top 5 tips on how to... Not every entry you post needs to be a novella.

5. Send an email. Have you recently met someone at a networking event that you would like to follow up with? Send a brief email asking when would be a good time to chat for 10-15 minutes by phone to learn more about their business.

You know you should market your business every single day. On those days when you just feel too busy and overwhelmed to do that, keep this list handy and remember, Take 5...

What can you do in 5 minutes to connect with your target market?

Friday, September 18, 2009

What Are Your Target Market's Greatest Concerns?

Who is your ideal client?

What are their greatest 3-7 concerns?

What solutions do you offer?

Write up a report based on the answers to these questions. You'll have a great start to creating your core marketing message.

Our Commonsense Virtual Assistant Coaching Program can help you identify your ideal client and core marketing message. Learn more about how you, the virtual assistant, are now a business owner, not an employee.

After listening to Sue & Joel's feedback about my site I was amazed at what I got from the consultation. They helped me clarify who my target market was and to make that obvious on my website. Making the changes they suggested will help me connect with the right people.
—Collette Schultz
Virtual Dream Office Services

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Typos in Your Marketing Materials?

It seems that due to technology, text messaging, trying to squeeze lots of information into 140 characters on Twitter, status updates on Facebook, etc., that we've become very sloppy spellers. I see typos more and more often in marketing materials.

I have a strong belief that we need to present ourselves as professionals - and that includes correct spelling and proper grammar. This is especially important in our marketing materials. Often, business persons hire a virtual assistant to help them write articles, post information on their website, and create other marketing materials. These business owners expect a level of professionalism that includes correct use of the English language - and no typos!

You may feel that posting a quick tip on Twitter or updating your status on Facebook doesn't require correct spelling. However, it is a reflection on you and your business. More and more this is how your prospects are going to find you and you need to make a good first impression.

So take the time to spell our 'you' instead of using 'u' and proofread your marketing materials before sending them out. Get a second set of eyes to review your materials also. It's very easy for our eyes to see the same mistake over and over and not catch it.

One aspect of our virtual assistant coaching is to review all your marketing materials. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you present your virtual assistant business in a professional manner.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Being Self-Employed Makes You an Entrepreneur Not an Employee

The virtual assistant industry is growing rapidly. Just about anyone can say they are a virtual assistant. You have a computer, internet access, and the desire to work from home. Voila! You're a virtual assistant.

But is that enough to succeed as a virtual assistant? Do you have what it takes to run a business?

Yes, a virtual assistant is a business owner. Successful business owners need to have good business sense. As a business owner, you, the virtual assistant, need to understand what it takes to run a business.

That's why we've published The Commonsense Virtual Assistant - Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee. Read more about the book and order your copy for only $19.95 (shipping included).

We share more than 50 years of experience working with small businesses. We love teaching others how they can have the deep satisfaction we get from our work and the life it allows us.

Learn more about us at BizBa6.com.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Quick Tip: Electronic Signatures

Here's a quick tip for getting contracts signed - electronically. This will save you time and money. Get your contracts signed without having to print them out and mail them. No more waiting for the signed contract in the mail.

It's legal to use electronic signatures, also known as e-signatures. There are several tools you can use. I recommend EchoSign. It's quick, easy, and provides both parties a signed pdf for their records.

Best of all, you can use it free for up to 5 signatures a month. Check it out!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

4 Ways to Attract Clients to Your Virtual Assistant Services

In any industry, one of the main challenges is attracting new clients. How can you attract new clients to your virtual assistant services? There are several steps you can take to increase your prospect's interest in contacting you. Here are 4 suggestions:

1. Be authentic. In everything you do, say, post on the internet, make sure it's authentic, honest, really you. As a service provider, you are your business. Prospects want to know who you really are. So be sure to inject your personality in everything you do - authentically. Prospects will be turned off immediately if they see you are not who you portray yourself to be.

2. Connect personally. Again, as a service provider, you are your business. That means your prospects want to know about you; they want you to tell them about yourself. For that reason, I strongly encourage you to post your picture on your website and profiles; let your prospects and clients know that you are a real human being. Write a bit about your background, your hobbies, your interests, why you became a virtual assistant.

3. Narrow your market. Here's an area that can be very challenging, especially if you're just starting your VA business. You may think that to get started you should offer your services to everyone. It's important to narrow your market and be very specific in who you target so your prospects know you are the person they should be working with. Once you've defined your target market, hang out where they hang out - online or at networking events. Find their pain points, offer a solution, and your target market will choose you!

4. Write articles. This is a great way to attract clients specific to your niche. It may seem like a huge task to undertake if you've never written an article before. Consider what solutions you offer clients and then create a top 5 solutions list and write a short article. If you need additional help in learning how to get started, just let me know. I have lots of great information to help you get started in article writing.

These are just a few of the many ways you can attract clients to your VA services. What ways do you use to attract new clients?

Contact us for your free 30-minute VA coaching call and let's discuss specific ways you can attract clients to your services.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Focusing on a Niche Means More Profit

We're coaching a virtual assistant right now helping her to clearly define her target market. She feels that her business will make money doing administrative work for small business owners, male or female, ages 25-60. Great! So every business owner from 25-60 should be knocking down her doors, right? Wrong!

There are now many virtual assistants providing all kinds of services to business owners in many industries. Why should they choose this virtual assistant over another one? What makes her and her services unique?

However, by focusing on a niche market, you can narrow your target market and the probability of being found - thereby creating more profit to your business as a virtual assistant.

Creating a niche market means knowing exactly who to market your services to. Your prospects will more readily find you because you've identified that they are who you want to work with.

What niche have you created in your virtual assistant business and how has it increased your profit?

Friday, September 4, 2009

Word of Mouth Referral Grows Client List

Exactly one year ago this month I signed on a new client that I had met briefly at two local events. After a very short period of time, this client was impressed enough with my services, and trusted me enough, that he referred me to two of his business partners.

I've enjoyed working for all three of them and it impresses me that the two business partners are people I've never met. Yet with each I have developed a trusting relationship to the point that they have each entrusted me with sensitive information. One of the business partners then referred me to one of his clients and she (I'll call her Mary) and I began working together the first of this year.

But the story doesn't end there. Now 'Mary' and I have been working together for nine months or so and again quickly developed a very trusting relationship. Thanks to her word of mouth referral, I just signed on another new client that I've never met.

So in exactly one year, and due to word of mouth referrals, from that one client I have gained an additional four directly as a result of his word of mouth referral.

So how can you develop trusting relationships and word of mouth referrals? Everything I've learned has been thanks to my coach. Together he and I now coach other virtual assistants to help them learn how to develop the same kind of trusting relationships with their clients and increase word of mouth referrals.

Contact us today to schedule your free 30-minute coaching consultation, no obligation.

And let us know what you do to create and maintain trusting relationships and word of mouth referrals.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Free 30-Minute Phone Consultations for Commonsense Virtual Assistant Coaching

I'm very excited to offer free 30-minute coaching calls for our virtual assistant coaching program. I've had many virtual assistants come to me for advice who then implement my suggestions and are very grateful for the ideas I've given them. It's the reason I decided to create and launch this coaching program - to help new and struggling VAs learn the skills to become business owners.

However, some wonder if they really need a coaching program or if we're the right coach for them. That's why we offer a free 30-minute consultation, no obligation. Once you've scheduled a consultation, we send you a questionnaire and ask that you return it before the day of your call. That allows us time to review what your most urgent need is in your business. We are then able to spend the 30 minutes most efficiently.

During the 30-minute call we address your most urgent business challenge and provide you with a specific action or strategy you can implement immediately in your business. Then we take just a few minutes at the end of the call to review our coaching program so you can determine if it's right for you.

Here's what one virtual assistant wrote us right after her free 30-minute phone consultation:

"Thank you for talking with me today. It was the best 30 minutes I've had with a business coach!

"The questionnaire you sent me prior to the call, really made me think about how I'm marketing my business. I always heard that you should have a niche, but I really didn't understand the value until you explained the importance of setting yourself apart from others.

"I can't wait to make the changes you suggested and watch my client base grow!"

Sara Gaffney, 101 Virtual Assistant

Contact us today to schedule your free 30-minute coaching call and take action now to grow your VA business!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Commonsense Virtual Assistant Coaching Program Launched



I'm very excited to announce a new VA Coaching Program.

If you'd like to start your new year with a bang, subscribe to our 5-month program.

Benefits:
Access by email 24/7
One 1-hour phone call each month with Joel and Sue
Review of website, particularly in the area of marketing and SEO, any marketing materials, including business cards, brochures, postcards, cold calling scripts, etc., blog, articles and rates
Assistance developing description of your ideal client, creating a 30-60 second pitch, a one page business plan, one page marketing plan and marketing calendar
Products as listed below, one each month
PDFs as listed below, one each month
Questionnaire to determine your specific coaching needs
We only work with ten clients at a time

Books and CDs included, valued at over $100:
(one mailed each month of paid coaching)

The Commonsense Virtual Assistant: Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee
Motivation 101: 5 Steps to Activate Your Potential in Any Economy, An Audio Mastery Course
49 Commonsense Business Observations
The Commonsense Entrepreneur

Surprise bonus business book

Bonus PDFs included:

Self Promotion: Getting Started - includes marketing tools and resources
Blogging for Your Business: includes 3 Keys to Successful Blogging and 5 Ways to Promote Your Blog, Finding the Time to Write and What to Write About, Ideas on How to Get More Traffic to Your Blog and a questionnaire to help you get started
Article Submissions and Press Release Sites
Duct Tape Marketing Guide: 7 Steps to Small Business Marketing Success
Marketing and Promoting Your Teleseminar: a list of online sites you can post your teleseminars

Bonus for signing up by July 31, 2009!
Membership in VIP Business Heretics
Monthly Subscription
(Included for the duration of the coaching program; ongoing subscription is $25/month)
Weekly teleclass with coaches Joel D Canfield and Jerry L Kennedy
Digital copies of all Business Heretics products: audios and ebooks
First look at all new Canfield Kennedy content posted at the website

All for $250/Month for the 5-Month Program

To learn more about this program, visit Commonsense Virtual Assistant Coaching.

Monday, June 29, 2009

10 Tools to Promote Your Online Event

Creating a teleclass, teleseminar and webinars online can be very effective ways to build your list and educate prospects and clients.

Once you've created your online event, how do you promote it? Here are 10 tools you can use.

1. EventBrite.com - Here you can set up an account at no charge. EventBrite provides ways to post the event on your website, send out invitations to your contacts, and follow up with reminders to those who registered.

2. Facebook - You can create an Event and invite all your friends. You can also send reminders, post links, photos and videos, and others can post comments.

3. LinkedIn- You can also post events here and invite contacts.

4. Twitter- Use Twitter to post a brief sentence about what your contacts will learn with a link to your sign up page.

5. Blog - Post a blog entry about your event, focusing on what your prospects and clients will learn.

6. Website - Post the event on your website. If you've used EventBrite, you can post a 'Register Now' button that you created at EventBrite.

7. SeminarAnnouncer.com - This is another free tool you can use to post your events.

8. CCULearning.comm - Conference Call University is one more free place to post your event.

9. EventSetter.com - Post your virtual events here at no charge.

10. Local Online Newspaper - Your local paper may have an online version where you can post events at no charge.

These are all free and easy to use. Your virtual assistant could post to all 10 of these free sites within two hours. Where will you post your next online event?

Monday, June 15, 2009

Twitter Tip #6 of 6

Tip #6

Watch the Direct Messages you receive and any @ messages. Try to connect with these people and start building relationships.

Use Twitter as a starting point to connect with prospects and then graduate the connection to Facebook or email. Focus on providing value and benefit to your prospects so they will want to connect with you.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Twitter Tip #5 of 6

Tip #5

If you have a Facebook account, make sure your Twitter posts automatically feed to it and widen your exposure even more.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Time is Now 11:59 Interactive Business Workshop June 24, 2009

Register Now Because Seating is Limited to 15 Tickets

The Time is Now 11:59 Interactive Business Workshop will teach you why now is the time to grow your business and how you can succeed while others fear and fail.

At this workshop you will learn:

* Why you should be as excited as the minute before New Year's.
* How to create an atmosphere where it's comfortable for people to buy from you.
* How to apply the Carrot Principle and keep buckets and baskets full–but separate.
* How to focus on the process of selling to get results.
* How to offload the stuff you don't like, and how to amplify the stuff you do–and the hard part: how to tell which is which!
* Why and how to choose optimism in your business.
* How taking daily action leads to lasting success.

You will also have an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers specific to your business challenges.

Each attendee will receive a workbook filled with exercises to help you apply the principles learned at the workshop.

Presented by Joel D Canfield and Jerry L Kennedy. Joel D Canfield is an author and award-winning speaker on how customer-centric thinking is your primary tool to achieve your goals. Jerry works with small to mid-sized business to help them augment their sales efforts through a combination of training, coaching and "surrogate sales management", a concept he created to assist business owners who cannot afford to hire a full-time sales manager.

Learn more about these workshops at http://thetimeisnow1159.com

What attendees are saying about the workshop:

Rachelle Ashman—"this workshop changed how I thought about sales and I really appreciated the information."

Phyllis Enos, Sales Director—"I recommend the 11:59 seminar for anyone seeking to improve their business or who wants more business. I found it very motivating and learned ways to improve my business."

Dan Yamamoto—"very educational . . .they weren't trying to sell us a bill of goods . . .very current, up-to-date information that I can take back to my business and use, not tomorrow, but today . . .any small business, any type of business, could get quite a bit out of even half of what we heard here today . . .you walk away with a wealth of information . . .very informative."

Rick Cooper, The Attraction Marketing Expert—"great seminar…provides information that's going to help you move your business forward…great insight and strategies…Jerry shared a simple four-step sales process that was very effective in helping to understand exactly what you need to do to be able to sell more effectively…helped to inspire and motive me to take the next step."

At each event we ask the question

"Did you learn something today you can use in your business tomorrow?"

So far 85%* of the attendees have said 'Yes'—we think you'll say 'Yes', too.
*(the other 15% had no response.)

Twitter Tip #4 of 6

Tip #4

Use the tool TweetLater.com to schedule Tweets in advance and to automatically follow anyone who follows you to increase your audience.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Twitter Tip #3 of 6

Tip #3

If you have a newsletter or blog, post links to specific blog posts or to your newsletter sign up page.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Twitter Tip #2 of 6

Tip #2

The majority of your Tweets should be aimed at educating and providing valuable information to your prospects and clients so that they turn to you as the expert in your business.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Twitter Tip #1 of 6

Twitter can be used effectively to connect with prospects, educate and inform them and generate leads.

Tip #1

Post quick tips, quotes or a catchy sentence or phrase from your book or speech. Include a link back to your website.

Watch for Tip #2 tomorrow. And please, share your tips.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Offering Your Services as a Gift

Sometimes in order to create interest in our services we offer a them as a gift. Perhaps you are a virtual assistant and offer a day's worth of services for free. A life coach might offer a free one-hour session; a productivity trainer may offer a free two-hour consultation; a web designer may offer a free report filled with strategic ideas to implement so your website gains a better search engine ranking.

However, we sometimes find that prospects don't take us up on these offers. Here we are offering something for free and no ones wants it. But is it really free or is there a string attached? Perhaps it's the way we package the free offer that's really turning prospects away instead of attracting them.

Recently a service provider offered one free day of services. However, there was a string attached. To accept the offer the prospect had to agree to provide a testimonial about the work. Now this business owner had the right intentions. This person wanted to educate prospects and felt that by giving away the service the prospect would have a much better idea of what this particular service was and would be more likely to purchase the service. The intention was great. The execution of the idea needed improvement.

What if the prospect doesn't feel as excited as you think they should after receiving your free service and doesn't want to write a testimonial? Then what is being offered isn't really free; it has a string attached. I'd ask instead for honest feedback so you can have information to improve your services. Then if the feedback is great, you can ask if you can use it as a testimonial.

I've found that people always feel there's a catch when we offer something for free and that if we are offering it for free, we must not value the service much ourselves. What I have found works better is to offer a special discount. My starter package is 2 hours for $75 with no long-term obligation. That way someone can try my services without further obligation and very little cost to begin and find out if we're a good match or not.

Also, your offer should be obvious. It should be clearly stated and in a prominent area of your website. Don't make people look for it.

Part of what my husband and I do is mentor and coach virtual assistants. We've had many years experience marketing several businesses; so what I've offered here comes from our experience. We've recently written a book aimed directly at virtual assistants.

Read a sample chapter of the book, The Commonsense Virtual Assistant—Becoming an Entrepreneur, Not an Employee, at our website.

Friday, June 5, 2009

It's official! A client signed on who first found me on Twitter! Twitter can be a profitable marketing tool.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Interactive Business Workshop: The Time is Now 11:59

Join Us for an Interactive Seminar & Workshop

Learn Why Now is the Time to Grow Your Business & How You Can Succeed While Others Fear and Fail

Carpe Momentum

In an economy where every new client, every new project can feel like a stay of execution instead of a new start, you need to see every opportunity, and seize it.

Here’s why.

And how.

Where & When
Friday June 12th
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
9380 Elk Grove-Florin Road
Elk Grove California
Space is very limited. Register Now!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Sue...always has her focus on building my business and getting a great return on my investment! Martino IT http://bit.ly/18dtef

Monday, May 18, 2009

Hire a Virtual Assistant to Update Your Website

So you have your website. Now you want to make sure it gets updated regularly. Especially since fresh content means that not only will your website be more search engine friendly, it also means your visitors are more likely to return to see what new thing you have posted.

You're excited and can't wait to update your website weekly with a new event, tip, article, or other information. With great intentions you decide you'll do this yourself. Perhaps you want to save money. Perhaps you've been told you should update your website yourself. You may be an author and you know you have lots of new material to add to the website each week.

However a couple of things happen. You soon find yourself too busy to keep up and the next thing you know it's been six months since you touched your website. The other thing that happens is you realize you love to write but get frustrated because updating your website isn't what you are passionate about. You soon lose interest in the website as you spend more time doing what you are passionate about - writing.

I think of it this way: though you are a writer, you are not a book binder. You hire someone to do the work of putting your book together. Perhaps you are a painter. You probably aren't a framer also. So why are you trying to be a web designer when that's not what you do best? Shouldn't you hire someone to do what you aren't excited about?

So what's the solution? How can you get your website updated regularly without spending a fortune? That's where a virtual assistant can help. You can still write all that great material to be posted on your website. But let your virtual assistant do the technical part and actually update your website. Doesn't that make sense?

Friday, May 15, 2009

International Virtual Assistants Day

Today, May 15, 2009, is International Virtual Assistants Day.

The virtual assistant industry continues to grow as more solo professionals have a need for quality assistance to help them grow their businesses.

Some of the online marketing strategies we use to assist solo professionals are:

1. Blogs
2. Websites
3. Ezines
4. Email marketing
5. Social networking
6. Article submissions
7. Virtual event promotion

What would you like a virtual assistant to do for you?

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What Is Work/Life Balance?

Our power went out yesterday. So business as usual wasn't... Our older daughter took the five-year old, Fiona, to the park. I went to the Placer Women's Network luncheon. And by the time I got home power was back up. Even then, it wasn't business as usual.

Fiona still wanted my attention. So instead of staying buried behind my computer screen, I took her outside so she could play while I caught up on some writing (including writing this blog post). Fiona decided to look for some 'interesting things' because, as she put it, "she's surely curious"!

My daughter was happy that I was spending time with her, answering her constant questions. And I was happy to be outside on a beautiful, sunny day with a nice breeze. And I was still able to get some work done.

Now that's work/life balance!

Now I just need to be able to do this in Ireland!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Social Networking Can Work for Your Business

Social networking is the wave many solopreneurs are now riding. Using social networking as a piece of your marketing strategy helps your prospects get to know you and your business, how you work, what values and ethics you uphold. Your prospects come to trust you, turn to you for information, and eventually want your services and products. They will even refer you to other people they know who can use your services.

Why haven't you decided to ride the wave of social networking? Some small business owners I've talked to give these reasons for not jumping into social networking:

1. It's too complicated.
2. It takes too much time.
3. There's no way to track the return on investment
4. You can't get new clients from social networking

Social networking does not need to be complicated or take hours and hours each day. So how can you use social networking responsibly and effectively? Remember - no one wants to be inundated with offers of your costly services all day long. When I start getting a dozen messages everyday from the same people over and over again offering their expensive services, I quickly tire of that and don't want to hear from them anymore.

However, I do appreciate receiving valuable and interesting information, tips, quotes, etc. So start small. I suggest taking these steps in this order:

1. Post tips your prospects can use
2. Offer a free report or gift to those who sign up for your newsletter
3. Put together a free or low-cost teleseminar to build your list and promote it

Remember, social networking needs to be about building relationships - not primarily about self-promotion. So balance is needed when using social networking as a marketing strategy.

A virtual assistant can help you get started in social networking and assist in maintaining your profile. Save time by having your virtual assistant update your social sites on a regular basis. There are tools, such as TweetLater.com, that can be used to schedule Tweets in advance so you're not spending every minute of the day on Twitter.

If you're not using social networking to market your business, you're missing out on a big piece of the puzzle. Remember that it may take seeing your information 8-20 times before a prospect picks up the phone to call you or contacts you through your website. So let's get busy and start networking!


For over 25 years Sue Canfield, Virtual Office Administrator and Owner of Awesome Assistant, has helped small business owners with administrative tasks. Since 2005 she has worked with over 30 clients to help them grow their businesses, specifically by using online marketing strategies such as email newsletters, blogs, articles, and social networking. Her mission is to partner with her clients to work together to create and implement strategies to promote their businesses. For more information about how she can help your business, visit http://www.AwesomeAssistant.info.

Monday, May 11, 2009

When Your Spouse is Your Business Partner

My husband and I work together from home running three separate businesses and have worked together this way for the last two and a half years. Sometimes we’re asked how in the world we manage to work together and still be happy. My question is, why can’t you work with your closest friend and still stay the best of friends?

Recently I was listening to a presentation and the story was told again about how the husband and wife each worked outside the home and by the time they each got home at the end of the day, they were too tired to even be civil to one another. Each had a hard day and didn’t really want to hear what the other person had to say. Arguments easily erupted as each thought their day was harder than their spouse’s.

Here’s an advantage to working all day along with my spouse. As things come up in our businesses, we can immediately discuss them and bounce ideas off each other. If a situation with our young daughter comes up that needs to be handled, we’re both there to take care of the problem. Instead of thinking that one of us had a harder day than the other, we already know how each other’s day went and can help overcome any challenges as they arise instead of dealing with it all at once at the end of the day.

Do you work with your spouse? How do you handle challenges that arise?

P.S. My best friend is my husband and I love working with him!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Are You a Victorious Woman?

May is International Victorious Woman Month. To learn more, visit http://www.victoriouswoman.com/.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Special Offer - Update social networking profiles for $125 - http://ping.fm/IvUJk

Improve Your Business Image in May

May is International Business Image Improvement Month. What will do to improve your business image in May?

Put together a strategy to improve just one thing about your business image this month. It could be as simple as proofreading everything you publish at least three times. You'd be amazed how many times I find typos or grammatical errors in website copy. That alone can be a big turnoff to prospects interested in working with you.

I'd love to hear what you plan on doing in May to improve your business image.

What It Means to be Happy - Despite Difficult Economic Times

I love having a journal and putting down on paper my thoughts, ideas, questions. I recently wrote about what it means to be happy - even during difficult times.

Excerpt from my journal dated March 26, 2009:
I'm finally reading Tuesdays with Morrie. My daughter brought it to me while I was in the hospital a few weeks ago. Having just experienced a scary health issue, and having survived a life-threatening illness nearly three years ago, I have a different perspective from some as I read the book. I understand how it feels to lose control of your life, of certain physical abilities. I understand to a better degree how short life is and what we need to do to be happy.

Happiness seems to elude so many people and they continue to search for it in all the wrong places. Sure, having enough money to meet our needs contributes to an easier life. But true happiness comes from within each of us. Yes, it is possible to be happy in spite of any difficult circumstances. Much has been written on the subject of happiness. And I'm sure that anything I write has already been written. Yet I feel a need, am compelled, to write down my thoughts and feelings on the matter. Maybe the way I word it will change just one person's thinking. I don't need to change the world. But if I can influence even one person - that's enough.

Have you ever noticed that unhappy people are usually very negative? Often the more we try to reason with a person to try to help them focus on what's positive in their lives, the more they find to be negative about. It's as though they don't really want to be happy. On the other hand, there are those who seem happy, positive, and find the good side in every situation. Sometimes their attitude is so upbeat, it's hard to believe it's real.

Then there's me, and others, who do get down once in a while. We do get upset, angry, frustrated, sad, depressed. Sometimes it feels as though we just want to crawl in a deep, dark hole and never come out.

YET - we are usually happy, positive people. We don't allow our negative emotions to become our primary focus in life. We may have a bad day, week, or even months. But our overall attitude is happy, positive, upbeat. People around us know we have a positive, happy outlook on life. They understand that there are times we get down. But we don't stay down!

Read more...

Interviewed for Virtual Assistant Forums

I have been a member of VirtualAssistantForums.com since July 2008. Virtual Assistant Forums (VAF) just celebrated their 2-year anniversary. Congratulations!

The VAF has been a wonderful resource for virtual assistants. Everyone is helpful and friendly and I've even had the opportunity to meet one of the members in person. If you are a virtual assistant looking for resources and an opportunity to network with other VAs, VirtualAssistantForums.com is the place to go.

I was privileged to be interviewed at VAF for the month of May. Please read the entire interview and let me hear from you.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Get Caught Reading in May

May is the month to get caught reading. I love to read and am always looking for new and interesting books to read. I especially love to read business books and find ideas to improve my business.

Some of my favorite business books are Ken Blanchard's. You can find some of his books at my bookstore.

So, what will you be caught reading in May? Please share some of your favorite books with us.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Checklist for Effective Subject Lines provided by Constant Contact

Do you find yourself struggling to create subject lines when sending out emails? You know you don't have much time to catch your reader's eye and you want to be sure the subject line encourages your reader to open your email.

Constant Contact has provided a checklist to help you create effective subject lines. Two of their tips are:

Review: Send the subject line to friends or colleagues to gain insights on how to
increase relevance and creativity.

Send: Distribute the email to yourself to view it as the recipients would and determine
if you would open it immediately, ignore it, or delete it.

Read Constant Contact's entire checklist.

What tips can you share?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Using Twitter Effectively

Everyone is jumping on the bandwagon to use Twitter. As an online business owner, how you can use it most effectively? Here are a few simple tips:

1. Make sure your profile bio has information about what you do and include a link to your website.

2. Post tips and answer questions you've received from clients and prospects.

3. Share your blog posts on Twitter.

As with other social sites, it can be time consuming. So plan your time wisely. I'm continually learning new things about using Twitter. And yes, I have had a prospect even contact me through Twitter.

How do you use Twitter in your business?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Do You Publish a Newsletter?

Particulalry to an online business owner, publishing a newsletter is an important online marketing strategy. When prospects first visit your website, they don't yet know you, your services, or how you do business. Prospects need to learn more about who you are and what you do so they can become comfortable with you and come to trust you.

A regular newsletter helps your prospects get to know you and then they will be more likely to use your services and become your client. Of course, this requires that your information is dispensed on a regular basis and that it is valuable.

Tips for a Newsletter


1. Your prospects need to know you are an expert in your field. Use your newsletter to reflect your expertise. Includes tips, articles and ideas your prospects can use and pass along.

2. In addition to valuable information and tips, use your newsletter to promote your products and services by including links back to your website. Be careful not to use your newsletter solely to promote your products and services. Be sure there's a reason your prospects want to keep getting your newsletter by including valuable information they can use.

3. Do you know what products or services your clients and prospects want? Create surveys to use in your newsletter to solicit feedback on new products and services you could offer.

Do you publish a newsletter? If you need help getting started, drop me a line.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Just signed up to start using Ping.fm to post to all my social sites at once.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Should You Become a Virtual Assistant?

I was recently interviewed by Sharon Reed Abboud who just released her new book, All Moms Work.

Here's the entire interview on her blog.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Thank You All Around!

From March 6 through March 20, 2009 I was in the hospital. Many thanks to everyone who supported me and my business during this very challenging time.


Send this eCard !

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

ALL MOMS WORK:Short-term Career Strategies for Long-range Success

My friend, Sharon Reed Abboud, has published a book, All Moms Work: Short-term Career Strategies for Long-range Success. Cheryl Stein, Canada’s Monster.com person coach says, “As a career coach and consultant I will be putting this book on all my clients’ reading lists.”

This book helps moms keep their skills, contacts, and resumes fresh; earn serious money while working primarily from home; and transistion back to professional part-time or full-time employment when they’re ready.

Sharon is offering a 35% prepublication discount. Just click on this link http://www.capital-books.com/Books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=185598 to go right to ALL MOMS WORK on the website, click on “Add to Cart” and in the Shopping Cart type in the code WORK04, and proceed to checkout.

Sharon hopes this book gives everyone some great new ideas for meeting career and financial goals in these hard times.

I’ve place an order for my copy and encourage you to do the same.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Follow Up With Your Prospects

Follow up is important in converting prospects to clients. Too often though we are afraid to follow up too soon or too often, thinking we may turn the prospect off. However, you can stay on your prospects mind in ways that do not require them to make an immediate decision.

You may have written an article, newsletter, or blog post that would be of interest to them. Send it. If you notice they've posted something, acknowledge it. Learn more about them and their business, do some research and then send them some information you feel would benefit them in their business.

Take a sincere, personal interest in them and their needs and provide valuable information to them. They'll come knocking when they need you!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Make a Referral Week

March 9-13, 2009 - Make a Referral Week

Make a Referral Week is an entrepreneurial approach to stimulating the small business economy one referred business at a time. The goal for the week is to generate 1000 referred leads to 1000 deserving small businesses

You can visit here to learn more
http://www.makeareferralweek.com/pledge

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Customer Service Superheroes

We’ve added a new customer service policy at our website. Below is an excerpt:

Our customer service goal is not just to meet your expectations, but to exceed them.

Okay, that’s not true. Our real goal is to crush them to a fine powder, throwing them under Charon’s keel to drift down the River Styx, never to be heard from again. We want your expectations to know they don’t hold a candle to the reality we deliver.

There is, though, an obstacle.

Read the entire policy at my website.

Then let me know what you think!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Time Is Now 11:59

If you're in the Sacramento area, Join Us for an Interactive Seminar and Workshop.

Learn Why Now is the Time to Grow Your Business and How You Can Succeed While Others Fear and Fail.

In an economy where every new client, every new project can feel like a stay of execution instead of a new start, you need to see every opportunity, and seize it.

Here's why.

And how.

Where & When
Thursday March 5th
1:00 to 4:00 p.m.
11300 Coloma Road Suite A-9
Gold River (Sacramento) California

Register here!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Article Marketing in 2009

Because we're in a recession, it doesn't mean that we stop marketing. It means we NEED to market smarter. Here are 3 New Years Resolutions for 2009:

1. Start writing articles on a weekly basis. Put them on
your website, on your blog and in your newsletters.
Put them into your notes on Facebook and post them for
your friends to see. And, submit your articles to the
top websites, ezines and article directories in your
niche. Don't forget to tweet about your awesome
placements to get even more people viewing your
articles.

2. Turn your articles into videos and post them on
YouTube and other video sites.

3. Turn your articles into special reports, ebooks, e-
courses, home-study courses and more to create
multiple streams of income.

By writing articles, you will open many doors to many different opportunities. But you have to start writing articles on a consistent basis. To help you get started check out my instant article writing templates at http://www.startwritingarticlesfaster.com

Reprinted from "The PR LEADS Article Marketing Secrets & Breakthroughs Newsletter", a free ezine featuring tips, tricks, tools, news, developments and trends that will help you generate free online publicity, build credibility, increase web traffic and boost your SEO ranking. Subscribe
at: http://www.IwantMoreProspects.com/articlenewsletter

Monday, February 9, 2009

Do You Tweet?

Are you using Twitter? Here are a few ways you can use it:

1. Online Articles - share interesting articles with your network.

2. Blog Posts - direct others to your blog posts or other interesting posts you find.

3. Audio or Video - another form of valuable content.

4. Web Content - share a link to an article, product, or interesting service.

5. Events or TeleClasses - include a link to an event your network will find useful.

6. Questions and Feedback - a great way to ask your network for opinions and feedback.

7. Resources - anything you could share of value with your network.

What do you Tweet about?

Friday, February 6, 2009

How Do You Find Time to Post Blog Entries?

One of the challenges of being a blogger is finding the time to write and post those entries. There have been times when I have not been as consistent as I'd like in posting to my blogs. Something I've found very helpful is to schedule some time to sit down and write several entries at once.

If possible, I'd suggest you write a week's worth of entries each week or even schedule entries for an entire month if you post just two to three times each week. Once you start writing, it's easier to keep going. And with the tools provided by the blogging platforms, it's easy to schedule your posts to go out at future times.

Wouldn't it be great to take an hour right now and create five or six entries and schedule them to go out throughout the month? Then you could just sit back and relax for a while.

How do you find time to post blog entries?

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Marketing Trend in 2009

I recently read that the "trend for marketing in 2009 is to simply care about your customers, listen to them, communicate and be upfront with them."

That's really good advice. My question is, why is this a trend now? Why isn't this just the norm?

If you want to succeed at business, you should always care about your customers, get their feedback, implement appropriate suggestions, and always, always, be honest with them.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

International Networking Week

International Networking Week™ is an initiative of BNI International®. Can you take some time this week to do some networking?

I've found that in-person networking is a great way to begin to build relationships with other people in business. It's not the time to sell yourself. It's the time to learn about other people, what they do, and how you can refer business to them.

Through networking I've met some great people and have been able to connect people with one another. Recently I was able to refer someone I met at one networking group to a person in a different networking group and now they'll be doing business together. My reward? Satisfaction in knowing that I helped these two people out.

What will you do this week to network and learn about someone's business?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

February is National Time Management Month

February is the month to learn how to manage your time. This is very important when we are trying to spend time every day to market our businesses.

Take some time now at the beginning of the month to get organized with your time. Get an overview of what you need to accomplish this month, then break it down by week and then daily.

I find it helpful to review at the end of each day what I want to accomplish the following day. Then at the beginning of the day I again take a look at the day's schedule so I can be sure to get everything done that needs to get done.

If your office needs some organization so you can make better use of your time, contact a local professional organizer at NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers.

I can personally recommend two organizers in the Northern California area. If you're in the Redding area, contact Cynthia of Red Leaf. If you're in the Sacramento area, contact Natalie of Organized Habits.

What will you do to manage your time more effectively this month?

Monday, February 2, 2009

5 Keys to Building Productive Relationships in Business

It's easier to market your services to those you've built a relationship with. So how do you build productive relationships in business? Here are five keys:

1. Seek to understand the person you are building the relationship with. Find out what their interests are outside of business.

2. Pay attention to the little things. Say please and thank you; be kind and respectful. Neglecting these little things can do much to damage a relationship.

3. Keep your promises. Breaking a promise or commitment destroys trust.

4. Clarify expectations. Make sure you clearly understand their expectations and that they understand yours.

5. Be quick to apologize. If you make a mistake or are late, be quick to apologize.

Applying these five keys can help you build productive business relationships.

What have you done to build productive relationships in business?

Friday, January 30, 2009

Your Marketing Plan for 2009

Have you created a marketing plan for 2009? If you haven't yet, take some time to do so before another month goes by.

Your plan doesn't have to be long and complicated. It can be one page and address a few items such as:

1. Your marketing goals
2. The purpose of your plan
3. Your target market
4. The specific marketing weapons you will use
5. Your marketing budget

Then create a marketing calendar. Again, keep it simple. Create a simple spreadsheet with 12 rows, one for each month, and four columns. The four columns will be:

1. Each month of the year
2. The marketing weapon you will use
3. How you will implement your marketing weapon
4. A grade - yes give yourself a grade to see how effective that specific strategy worked.

Once you do this you'll have a plan in place and an easy way to see at the end of the year what worked and what did. You'll be well on your way to an even better plan for 2010.

What's your marketing plan for 2009?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Do Your Clients Feel Important?

Are you trying to grow your business during these difficult times? What can you do to retain your clients? In fact, you want to make them so happy with your services that they recommend your business to everyone they know.

The most important thing you can do for your clients is to make them feel important. Make sure you use their name and get to know them personally. If you come across an interesting magazine article or website you know they would find interesting, let them know about it.

Your client feels important when you respond to their inquiries in a prompt manner. Don't wait two or three days to respond to their voice mail message or email. Get back to them immediately if at all possible.

Send a card at a random time just to thank them for their business. If you can't provide what they need, help them find it somewhere else.

What do you do to make your clients feel important?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Better Business Communication Day

Yes, today is Better Business Communication Day. What does that mean to you?

As solo professionals it is important to be able to communicate effectively with your clients and others. Yet I often see small business owners create marketing materials with spelling and grammatical errors. It's obvious they have no sense of how to communicate their message effectively.

I suggest that you have someone proofread everything you plan on using to communicate with others. If your writing style needs a little work, get some help.

What will you do to improve your communication in business?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Choose Your Clients

That's right. Choose who you do business with. Not just those that provide services, but also your clients and customers. You'll find that you have clients that rave about you and your business. You want more clients like that.

On the other hand, there are times when your client or customer is not the right fit. You've done all you can to help them and they still aren't satisfied. These clients may deliver the wrong message to yet others. These are the ones you don't need and should let go. It's not always easy; but it's the right thing to do.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Customer Service Day

Saturday, January 17, 2009 is Customer Service Day. Of course every day should be customer service day. But what can you do to make your customer feel extra special in the next few days?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Where do you come up with your blog ideas?

Recently someone asked me where I come up with my blog ideas. It can be very challenging to create fresh blog content regularly. Here are some of the ideas I shared:

1. Subscribe to newsletters and blogs about your industry to get ideas.
2. Read - books, magazines, blogs, newsletters.
3. Write down a list of words that describe you and your business. Then create a blog post for each word describing in more detail what you and your business is all about.
4. Go to BlogEnergizer.com for ideas.
5. Keep a notebook with you at all times. You'll be surprised the ideas you come up with while sitting at a meeting, networking with others, and just driving down the road. Jot them down in your notebook and then go back to create a blog entry.
6. Use questions (such as this one I received) to create a blog entry.

Remember, blog posts do not need to be long. In fact I think a short, one paragraph entry is just fine.

Where do you come up with your blog ideas?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Tell a Story

Good marketers tell a story according to Seth Godin. People love stories. So how do you go about telling a story to market your services? Read Seth's blog post.

So what story are you telling?

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Market to Their Wants

Seth Godin says that people don't buy what they need; they buy what they want. Therefore, you need to market your services to people's wants. Create your marketing strategy in such a way that people want what you offer. When a customer wants what you have, pricing isn't the most important factor.

Read more words of wisdom from Seth at his blog.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Marketing - An Expense or Investment?

Many small business owners view marketing as an expense. Good marketers realize it is an investment. When small business owners view marketing as an investment, all of a sudden they realize the many options set before them. It becomes, not a matter of money, but a matter of investing in time to produce long-term rather than short-term results.

Marketing is not just buying an advertisement in a newspaper. Good marketing includes every aspect of your daily business - from how your invoices appear to how clean your store appears to your customers.

Is your marketing an expense or an investment?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Begin With the End in Mind

In the miniature edition of Stephen R. Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People he speaks of setting goals and the application of 'begin with the end in mind.' You start with the picture of the end of your life. Where do you see yourself once you've accomplished your goal? By keeping that picture in mind, you can make sure that each step of the way your actions contribute in a meaningful way toward reaching your goal.

This requires having a clear picture of where you're going. As Covey says, "it means to know where you're going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction."

How do you picture yourself in a year, five years, ten years....?