Social Media Isn’t Your Problem

Social media isn’t your problem.  You think it’s your problem, but it really isn’t.  If someone sat you down and showed you how to set of a few platforms, upload videos and photos, schedule posts, ask for likes and comments, and return the favor, you could do it.  It is much simpler than what business owners imagine it to be.  Granted, it does require a little finesse, above average writing skills and time –obviously — but, social media isn’t your problem.  Knowing how to engage with social media… that’s your problem.

Be honest, how many of us thought that just setting up a Twitter account and a Facebook account was going to be enough for our business?  We thought if we had one or two pictures, the business contact info and a little somethin’-somethin’ about the business, people would visit and magically all on their own, convert themselves from visitors to customers.  How well did that work out for us?

First off, “enough” is the word we never want to use in business.  Businesses that are doing just enough are going out of business.  So, let’s unwrap our heads around this idea of “enough”.  Secondly, treat social media like a person.  A person who we are conversing with — well, in person.  Aside from the spam bots, there are people out there behind those profiles, likes and comments.  Talk to them as if they were sitting right across the way.  Social media and online marketing are such a staple in conversations for businesses that I feel like I’m beating a dead horse when I bring it up.  But so many business owners — home kitchen chefs, garage engineers, bathroom mixers, attic artists, and back yard scientists — are not even giving their ideas and businesses a chance because they’re failing to use social media the right way.

LinkedIn — Don’t just accept or extend an invitation to connect.  Communicate.  Yeah, we may have over 500 connections, but if you don’t message, endorse or share worthwhile information, then those 500 plus connections are meaningless.

Google + — Yeah, many of us have added someone or something to a circle, but what does that mean?   What makes that circle and those group of people special or relevant?  Get personal and personalize.  Not everyone wants the same thing even if it’s from the same company.

Twitter — Just about everyone and their mama has a Twitter account.  But it sucks when people start un-following us and we have no idea why.  Maybe you’re not conversing enough or at all!  Twitter is all about the conversation.  So get to talking.  Ask questions, answer questions, search what your customers are looking for and share — again — useful info.

Facebook — The Godfather of social media, right?  If that’s case, then this is the social media we should be crafty with.  Visually.  If we don’t know exactly what to share on Facebook, log on into our personal account and see what our friends are sharing and reading.  Then see what their friends are sharing and reading.  We’ll find memes, photos and videos dominate Facebook.  So, get visual but remain informative.

Social media isn’t the problem, it’s all about how well we use it for our business.  If you took the time to build the business, take time to market the business.

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I received a question from a prospect client through my website’s contact form in which the person asked me about what kind of services Intel Boutique offered.  I’ve never been bothered about going into great depth about explaining the services I provide through IB.  In fact, it’s an opportunity to shine.  This is the opening that allows me to showcase with more elaborate descriptives about what my business does, what it focuses on and who I’ve worked with in the past.  But this short note I received, maybe a day or two ago, struck me as odd.  In order for anyone to send a request to be contacted for further information, they would have to bypass all the other tabs that explains what those services are to ask me what services are offered.

Theoretically, regardless of how a question is posed or what is asked, once I’ve been contacted by someone interested in my services, I should just answer.  But in answering a question someone could have answered themselves, I feel as if I would be over-catering.

In the early, early days of business, I would  rush to answer every question a client had and try to appease all their concerns.  I was basically begging for their business.  But that feeling of being interrogated by people who weren’t even guaranteed to use my services started to turn into resentment.  I resented having to answer all these questions only to learn, I didn’t offer what they were looking for.  But the truth of the fact was, I really resented myself for not taking better control of the dialogue and not asking some (or not enough) questions of my own.  Just because I was the one being potentially paid didn’t mean I had to keep my trap shut.  I needed to do some probing too.  See what my clients were looking for, what were their needs were, and where they were coming from.  Given enough time and practice, I learned when to ask the right questions and when not to offer up so much unnecessary information until there’s a green light.

And I’ve think we’ve all done that before at some point. Either being too eager to please or too excited to win them over, that we’ve let the clients take the reins of the conversation, or of the negotiations –and God forbid — even the transactions.  It’s not about trying to dominate over your clients or impress them with the tricks of the trade you’ve learned over the years.  It’s about not being a passenger in your business; being in as much control as the situation requires. Put yourself in the client’s shoes — would you want to do business with a push-over?

Social Media Management

Did you know that Intel Boutique offered Social Media Management services?  No?  Really?

It’s a little bit what it sounds like.  However, this isn’t a service in which you hire someone to manage your social media platforms for you, i.e. a contract social media manager.  Intel Boutique’s Social Media Management service is where you — the client and business owner — invite Intel Boutique to show you how to become adept (if not more) in managing and tackling your business’ social media presence.  We all know how important it has become for businesses to create a social media image.  Today, much of the marketing that is done is through social media and/ or uses social media channels to carry the message of a business or brand.  But using social media goes beyond setting up an account and a few links to the business website.  I’ve had multiple people admit they got their nephew or niece or neighbor’s kid to help them start their ‘socials’ for their business because it was easier to have them do it and they understood it better.  I understand that Gen Ys know more about using it.  After all, Gen Ys pioneered social media.  That’s fine and dandy, but how much do they know about marketing? How much do they know about creating a campaign or selecting the right social sites?  How much do they know about applying all of this to your business?

This is where Intel Boutique steps in.  Intel Boutique offers a choice of two intimate settings (one small and one large) for business owners in the Greater Los Angeles area who know a little sum-thin’ sum-thin’ about social media but haven’t yet used it or aren’t using it to its greatest value.   The service isn’t a lecture about how to harness the endless potential of social media.  It is a ‘walk-through’, if you will, in which how to best use best social sites for your business based on your business needs and audience.  No generics, no what has worked for others, no empty promises, no buying a whole bunch of fake followers and likes.  The Social Media Management service simply sits you down and explores how you need to reach your target market via social media channels.  You get to select the right sites for you — no matter if you’re selling a service or product — set up those accounts and profiles, create a campaign right then and there and get reading material (that’s been collected from various resources) that discusses how small businesses should use social media.

But why doesn’t Intel Boutique just manage the social accounts of other businesses that don’t know how or don’t have the time?  That’s not a ruled out service, however, the point of the service is knowledge and know-how.  That niece or nephew those people hired don’t really know what those kids are doing because they don’t know how to use it themselves.  That leaves them to trust a bunch of young’uns to represent their business on platforms that thousands on top of thousands will see.  These are the same kids that struggle to use a fax machine.  There’s absolutely nothing wrong in hiring someone who knows better than you what you need done.  But you also shouldn’t be so in the dark that you’re just blindly following them hoping for the best.

Stop by intelboutique.com and take a gander. You can still hire that kid on the block to set up your Facebook account.  But at least you’ll how he’s doing it and what he should be doing.

Social Media Management

The Good With The Bad

I’ve had the opportunity during my employment experience to work for half dozen small business owners or so– graphic designer, loan modification agents, caterer, writers/authors, financial adviser, real estate agents.  That’s partly how I created Intel Boutique, through my service with them, I started seeing the needs of business owners in a whole new light.   But not all my experiences were positive and rewarding.  Some of them were a warning of who not to do business with and how not to manage my business in the future.  And because my goal had been to go into business for myself, I kept my eyes peeled all the time, observing as much as I could and learning my lessons vicariously through them.  And boy, oh, boy — there are some lesson I’ll never forget.  But just as in life, you gotta take the good with the bad and even with the ugly.

Loan Modifications – I didn’t know how off centered this entire operation was until I was a month deep into it and those who had been there longer started revealing all the you-know-what that had hit the fan.  Needless to say, I was there for 3 months and was happy to say good-bye.  What I took with me:

  • Never EVER make a client feel your absence.  I don’t care if it’s some kind of ploy or tactic, it’s just bad practice.  And it makes the client feel uneasy, especially when you’re handling their personal financial records.  And anytime a client feels that uneasy, they bring in a lawyer to make you feel that uneasy too.
  • Don’t change the rules/policies with your employees every 2-3 weeks.  It’s ridiculous and it’s unprofessional.  If something needs to be changed give them ample warning and reasons as to why you’re shifting gears.  Bring them into the process rather than keep them from it.
  • No micro-managing…EVER.  If you can’t trust your staff to do their job, then you shouldn’t have hired them.  Make the competent so you feel assured in their work.

Writer/Author– Such creative spirits to be around.  But creativity doesn’t substitute for business sense or time management.  What I learned:

  • Always agree upon working schedule in advance — depending on works best for you and them .  If they always need reminders the day of — it becomes more of a burden and not worth your efforts.  Time is money, on both ends.
  • Do not work outside the scope of which you were hired.  You’ll be doing multiple jobs and getting one check.  If they wanted you to handle more, then they need to compensate you adequately.
  • Agree on a productive working environment condusive for success.  Yes, you’re there to do a job, but you’re also there to do the best damn job possible.  Keep your interest in mind too.

Financial Adviser – Talking about multi-tasking, this guy did it all from financial services, to managing commercial retail property in another state and to being health agent broker.  I’m a firm believer in creating multiple income streams, so I don’t knock him there, but without help, he almost always seemed lost.  What I saw wrong:

  • Don’t let your staff create the systems you run your business with.  When they go, so could those systems.
  • You may not have the best memory, so take good notes. Keep track and follow up.
  • Train all staff to do all tasks, or assigned specific tasks to specific staff members,  Giving unfamiliar duties to staff members will lead to errors.   Make it so that their jobs can run smoothly and that your business can run smoother.

You’ll find that in most of your work, whether it be for someone else or yourself, there are more lessons than there is actual work.  Look for the lesson and see if that improves you work at all.  You might just find a golden opportunity to be your own boss, too.

Make Every Experience Count

In order to be successful in this life and never work a day in our lives, we must find what we’re passionate and pursue it.  We’ve heard this and we know it.  So we have.  We’ve tapped into the activities and hobbies that make us smile and laugh.  We found the things that we could do endlessly without ever looking at the clock and we’ve even manage to find company that supports our exploration and business ventures.  But when we follow our passions, are we suppose negate every experience, every job we ever held?  What about those valuable lessons and skills we picked up along the way?  Should we forget about the things we’ve learned when we follow passions?

Subway

I worked at Subway for a couple of months during the year I took off from college.  It was actually a second job I took on to help supplemental by tuition going back to school.  This was the only fast food job I ever held and believe you me,  that was alright by me.  And don’t kid yourself, Subway may tell you to ‘eat fresh’ but it’s still fast food.

  • Watch those that have been doing the job longer and pick up on the tricks they’ve learned to make the job easier to perform.  It takes everyone some time to get the hang of any new skill and after awhile, you develop a knack for doing tasks so that they don’t become overwhelming.  The take-away — no matter which business you decide to pursue and no matter what passion drives it, someone out there has done it before.  Find them, study them, mimic them if you have to.  If they’ve been in the game longer than, they also a system in place that you can follow until you get the hang of things.

Dillard’s

I worked there my all of my junior year and part of senior year in college.  I worked in Men’s Fragrance.  Just a little FYI, men rarely buy men’s fragrances.  Only during the holidays did we see a substantial amount of foot traffic and it was mostly from women buying for their significant others.  So most of the times, our counter was dead quiet and had next to no business.

  • Create business.  While cleaning out our own tester inventory closet, I had an idea about offering tester fragrances we no longer carried to those customers that applied for our store credit card.  Needless to say, within two weeks time, it was a smash.  Customers heard about the promotion and would stop in just to apply for a credit card for a free fragrance.  While they were waiting for the approval, they would look around to see what else we sold.  Traffic increased and so did business.  The take-away — business is not going to come to you unless you take action.  It doesn’t have to be grand or over the top, it just has to be something people are going to be interested in.  Grab their interest them and you’ll get them coming to you.

RGIS Inventory

This is one of those jobs I hated.  The hours were long and no one could ever tell you how long the job was going to be.  Breaks were short and sometimes forgotten.  The company is surprisingly still around despite the many class action suits they’ve had regarding employee breaks and proper compensation.  I worked this job while in school too.  It consisted of going to various retail stores and counting their inventory for them.  And because these businesses ran during normal business hours, the job always started in the evening, like after 8pm.  Night owls need apply.  But in 5 months time I was promoted to a Team Leader position with my own team of 8 people.

  • Jobs come and go, so make your peace with that.  Do the job as best as you can and  be willing to help others along the way especially when it benefits the whole.  I was promoted not because I was the fastest counter.  I was promoted because I was always looking to get the job and get it done right the first time.  If that meant jumping on board someone else’s section and helping them get it done so we could all leave, so be it.  The take-away –  Teamwork is the best avenues towards success.  People feel more confident in completing a job when they’re not doing it alone and/or they have someone who is willing to help.  Get in the trenches and help when you can.

I’d like to think I’ve been structuring Intel Boutique from a wonderful perfectly laid out dream.  But it truth, it’s summation of all my experiences.  Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a passion of mine to help people get the information they need to live out their passion, but it wasn’t something I fell into overnight (I wish!).  I’ve made sure to put every experience to use.  Everything I’ve done, every job I’ve held and every experience I’ve had, I make it matter.

7 Reasons Why Small Businesses Should Be Using Google Products…

… at least, in their early stages while they’re building and establishing themselves.

  1. Gmail Account – It comes with EVERYTHING!  Now, We all know how more professional it looks to have an email address with your company website domain, but there’s no rule or law that says you can only have one business email.  I have contact@intelboutique.com (and a few others) as well as intelboutiquela@gmail.com.  It allows me to create a Google + profile, connect with others and promote my business blog. 
  2. Google + –  Speaking of it, Google + has rebounded and bounced back from unnecessary to useful.  Like any other social media platform, you have to find your audience and what drives them to read and engage on Google +, but once you do, you’ll find worth your while.   Nonetheless, it’s another tool brought to us by Google that can help businesses stand out and grow.
  3.  YouTube –  One of the best, if not the best ways, to promote your business is the use of videos.  Why?  Videos are watched, shared and commented on more than links, quotes and yes, content.  Maybe it’s our short attention span or that we’re bombarded with so much information that videos give us the right platform to digest data.  Whatever the reason, jump on it, it works!
  4. Hangout (formerly known as GChat) – This is perhaps my most favorite tool because, I am not a fan of Skype. Hangout/GChat is video conferencing and instant messaging all wrapped up in one.  You can hold video meetings with your team, you can voice text conversations and share links and videos.  Making virtual businesses easy to conduct .. well, business.
  5. Google Drive –  If you’re still sketchy about “The Cloud” Google Drive offers you a place to save your work, documents, presentations, client list, correspondences and whatever else is important to your business operations.  And what makes Google Drive a better, you can save it offline to your desktop.  Beautiful!
  6. Google Calendar – I live by my Google Calendar.  I upload every meeting, every task, invite others to shared events, set reminders in advance to remind me of due dates and deadlines.  And I get every update and notice sent to my phone and tablet.
  7. Maps – I travel to my clients in LA.  And although I grew up in LA, I don’t always know every side street, dead-end and little area or district.  If I feel like I’m not that familiar to where I’m headed, I pull out my phone, type in the address and let the voice guide directions be my GPS.  It hasn’t failed me yet.  Also, Google Maps tells me where other businesses, buildings and anything of importance to me and my businesses.

I don’t want to lead anyone thinking that Google is the be all to end all, but it does offer a host of very useful tools for newbies and seasoned business owners who need to do more with pocket change.    And who knows, you might find more uses with Google than you ever imagined.

February’s Entrepreneur Spotlight: Bold Magazine

Intel Boutique had the pleasure of talking to Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Bold Magazine, Miss Elissa Mirsky.  She launched her digital lifestyle magazine in the Fall of 2011.  Now she shares her experiences, her dreams, her journey and her works in progress.

Bold Magazine

Where did the inspiration for Bold Magazine come from?  Why was creating Bold Magazine so important to you?

The inspiration from Bold Magazine came from my love of fashion. For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to work in the fashion industry as a fashion designer, and have a magazine. My inspiration for Bold grew stronger when I saw ‘The September Issue.’ It was Anna Wintour that I wanted to embody.  She was powerful and people respected her opinion and took her advice, and it worked. Creating Bold Magazine was so important to me because I wanted to create an outlet that celebrated more faces of color in the fashion industry. There has been an ongoing issue with the lack of diversity in the industry and I wanted to be the ‘Anna Wintour’ of Bold Magazine.

What are the kinds of articles and topics do you focus on in your magazine?

[At Bold Magazine] we focus on ‘black excellence’ and  the Next Generation of Moguls in Fashion, Music, Arts, Culture, Philanthropy, and Business. We highlight every race, but it’s important to showcase faces of color, especially with [what] society thinks of us.

Do you see a need for your publication; a need for more African-Americans in fashion and related industries?

There are a good number of African-Americans behind the scenes in the fashion industry which is great, but being able to see them in the forefront would be much better because kids of color growing up would see them and [find it easier to] relate to.

Have you always been interested in writing and journalism?  What’s your background in writing/ journalism?

I have always been interested in writing and journalism. I use to write poetry a lot growing up. I even won a poetry contest, well second place. In high school I wrote for the school newspaper and in college I took journalism classes.

How do you connect with people in the industry?  Do you find it hard connecting with the caliber of people you would like to?  

I connect with people through social media; Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Linkedn. I also connect at events like fashion week, launch events, and I do my research. Google is my best friend and from there I reach out to

people if I feel like I can be of assistance to them and they can be of assistance to me.

What would you say is the most challenging aspect about putting out a digital issue regularly?

The most challenging thing is funding, meeting deadlines, and hoping that you are putting something different out. With the whole digital magazine craze it’s really hard to set yourself apart.  So, it can be nerve-racking and challenging trying to stand out and have a great product.

Do you have any other professional aspirations?  What else are you working on?

I do have other aspirations and projects that I am working on. I have always seen myself as a media/brand mogul.  I look up to Jay-Z, Warren Buffet, Oprah, Diddy, and countless others who have built a successful brand. Currently, I am working on Heels in the Kitchen: Fashionably Edible which is my cookbook. It’s simple and funny and so me.


How is Heels In the Kitchen coming along with getting a following?  What similarities or dissimilarities have you found in writing a book and writing for Bold?

It is coming along fine. I can still use more followers but I do have some people that are excited for it. The similarities I have found with writing the book and writing for Bold is that you have to do research. The dissimilarities are that you can be more free and have more fun when writing a book. I am able to be more open with Heels in the Kitchen. It brings out another side of me.

Do you ever feel you have too much on your plate at any given time or maybe you aren’t doing everything within your potential to live your best life?

Yes I do. Often times I am extremely overwhelmed and lost. Sometimes I am not happy with the way things are going and I want to have a more normal life. At times I am stressed because I feel like I have to please others which in return leaves me not living my best life.


What sacrifices have you made up to now to starting living your dream?  Has it been worth it?  Has it all been an uphill battle?

A huge sacrifice has been not having a personal life. I use to have the best social life ever, and now all I find myself doing is work, work, work, work, work.  At times, I feel it has been worth it and then I feel like it hasn’t because I should have known how to balance my personal life with my professional ambitions. It has definitely been an uphill battle for me, but I am working on it.

What kind of support have you had from friends and family?  Do you have a support system in place?

I do have a few people in my support system and most of them come from friends more than family. My little sister and brother has always been my support system. Even if I didn’t have any support from anyone else but theirs that would be enough.

What are a handful of things you wished you had started your business that could’ve helped along the way?

Sometimes I wish I had an internship or apprenticeship. I really don’t know. I’m more of a self learner, self made type person.

As a double minority (being black and a woman), what is your perspective on running a business, going after what you want and doing it all on your own in the eyes of others?  Do you think people are watching how you carry yourself?

It can be hard. Everyone has their opinion on blacks and everyone has their opinion on women. I just continue to work hard and build my brand without worrying too much about what others think and being a minority. I know for a fact people are watching the way I carry myself, but that is fine with me. I like the attention (Laughs).


What positives can you recall about the journey you’re on?

Just being able to do what I love. Everyone can’t be an entrepreneur. It takes strength, ambition, time, and persistence. I have enjoyed meeting new people.

What lessons have learned about creating a business on your own?  Were some of those a few hard knock lessons?

I’ve learned that it is HARD! It is hard in general and it is hard without funding, but at the end of the day I am gratified because I built everything on my own.

If you could share some of the most important and maybe intimate experiences about starting a business, networking and finding like-minded people to join forces with, what would you share with aspiring entrepreneurs and those looking to follow in your footsteps?

I’ve learned that every networking event isn’t necessary. Do your research on the people putting events on. Look at past event photos and see what type of people they attract and think of how their event would benefit you. You don’t have to work with everyone. Beware of people who are only around you for what you can do for them and beware of the overly ‘wannabe’ celebrity types then can be bad for business. Write out your goals and what you want to accomplish, give yourself a timeline, and make a budget plan. If you can do things on your own instead of hiring someone else then do it. It can be time consuming but in the long run you’ve learned a new trade and saved money. Stay ambitious, and don’t get discouraged by others who are not doing anything with their lives. If you find something isn’t working for you, stop, rethink, restrategize, and start over. Success doesn’t happen over night, but if you work hard you will see success, and remember success doesn’t always come in financial means. Lastly, be BOLD!

You can follow Bold Magazine and  Elissa Mirsky at:

Twitter: @BoldMagOnline

@heelsNkitchen

Facebook: /BoldMagOnline

/HeelsInTheKitchen

www.heel-in-the-kitchen.com