Weathering Business

Now that L.A. has finally dipped out of that ridiculous heatwave we were in for the past two weeks — in spring, no less! — it’s time to get back to business.  And speaking of business, how many small companies out there were able to sway customers from leaving their air-conditioned cars, homes and offices into their place of business?  What were some tactics business owners employed to negate the heat and still turn a profit?  Mind you, this is Los Angeles, and the weather forecast has much to do with the business forecasts as all the other elements — natural or otherwise…

One local business in LA lures customers in with the promise of cooler temps

One local business in LA lures customers in with the promise of cooler temps

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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.

February Save The Dates

Check out these February events for those in the Greater Los Angeles area.  No matter what business you’re thinking about going into, or if you’ve already started your own company, there are events here for all levels of business owners and entrepreneurs,

 

  • February 4th – Taking Your Grant Writing Research Skills to The Next Level Event organized by eCivis, Inc. from 9am – 4pm PST.  Event cost is $299 for the early bird fee, $349 for general admission.
  • February 5th FREE Self-Publishing Workshop located at 1246 Glendon Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90024 (Westwood Library Branch) from 6-8pm PST hosted by the Toastmasters District One Speakers Bureau Workshop Committe, for more info, visit http://bit.ly/1fOqo6d
  • February 6thFREE Website Building Tools Class hosted by the Valley Economic Development Center from 6-8pm PST located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91403; from more information or to register, email hassali@vedc.org
  • February 6th – 8th – How To Sell To Women FREE Virtual Training Event hosted by Lisa Sasevich; to register http://bit.ly/1eHENio
  • February 7th – Women 2.0 Founder Friday, located at the Regus 3415 South Sepulveda, suite 1100 Los Angeles, CA 90034 from 6:30 to 9pm PST.  General admission starts at $22.09.  Visit http://bit.ly/1er4gjT for more information and to register
  • February 8thFREE Marketing and Promotions Event organized by the Business Entrepreneurship Club.  Event will take place the LA Mission College located at 13356 Elridge Ave, Los Angeles 91342 from 10am – 12pm PST.  Contact Dr. Norris Dorsey at  818.402.5050 and/or register at http://bit.ly/ML8CIQ
  • February 10th  — FREE Start Up Dos & Don’ts/ Business Plan class from 6-8pm PST hosted by the Valley Economic Development Center located at 5121 Van Nuys Blvd., 3rd Floor Van Nuys, CA 91403; from more information or to register, email hassali@vedc.org
  • February 10th – California Small Business Development Center is offering a How to Write a Business Plan Class for $40, hosted by Santa Monica College. Event takes place from 9am to 1pm PST on the campus.  To register, visit http://bit.ly/1fzdI51
  • February 19th – 2014 – 2015 Annual Economic Forecast and Industry Outlook hosted by the LA County Economic Development Corporation from 7 -10:30pm PST at the L.A. Hotel Downtown located at 333 Figueroa St, Los Angeles 90071; general admission is $155 if purchased by Feb. 14th.  Register at http://bit.ly/1acMC3E
  • February 26th – March 1st –  Black Enterpise Women of Power Summit hosted by State Farm held at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida.  Deadline to register for general admission is February 7th at $1395.  After February 7th, tickets to the event go up to $1695.  For more information visit, http://bit.ly/1ildZsN

(additional events may be added)

 

 

Write Outside The Lines

There is no trick or secret to blogging for your business.  There’s no formula or magic keywords or tags that will make your business blog be the most searched source on the internet. But it isn’t hard to blog either if you got something to offer and something to share.  Normally, I would say practice till you get it right, but sometimes it’s best to hire a freelancer or someone with much more experience.  And if you’re not a strong writer, don’t know your voice yet, or don’t have the time — someone else can do it for you in the meantime, right?  But if you wanna take a crack at it, review all the rules you’ve heard before: blog at least once a week, blog consistently and spread the word around through your other social media platforms.  Sounds easy enough.  But don’t forget the add-ons — the extras that make a blog a bit better: include video, photos and links whenever you can and appropriately, share more information that can help your customer or client rather than yakking it up about how great your company is and include links to your website.

But just like the tech companies, out there, there are some rules you should break —

  • Blog inconsistently consistently — What does that mean?  I try to blog every week, up to 3 times a week.  But I don’t have select days of the week when I blog.  I blog when I have an idea, or the time to devote to an entry.  Being flexible without a set schedule also allows me to add information as I get it — event dates, the latest news or what have you.  Decide how many times a week you’d like to blog and then go from there.  Your time should dictate when you have an opportunity to blog and share, not the calendar.
  • Play with the titles.  You’ll hear copywriters discuss the importance of a good headline or tag… I say, have fun with it.  Personally, I love innuendos for titles.  There’s something about misdirecting the topic that I enjoy all too much.  A (sexual) innuendo is more likely to stop people long enough to skim the article you wrote than a straight forward boring title.
  • Trade shoes when you write.  Think of the person who you are writing this blog for.  Think about what they would to get out of it, think  from their point of view.  Then give it to them.  Be that irate customer who doesn’t understand why the store won’t take back his purchase after 31 days even though his receipt says no returns, refunds or exchanges after 30 days.  Give him solution or a loophole to working with businesses and people like yourself.
  • Vent.  Here is that opportunity to tell the world about the awful no-paying-on-time client that won’t stop calling you whenever they feel like it. Here is the chance to spill how you (and most likely every other business owner) feels about that annoying client.  You can say it all, get it off your chest, be brutally honest without ever saying their name.  Think of it as a form of therapy.  Whoo-sah!

Blogging is the content marketing your business is going to need to keep it’s edge in 2014.  Anybody with a laptop and internet can blog, which means anyone with a business too, should be blogging.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t write outside the lines when you do.

 

 

 

Size Matters

‘It’s not about the size of the boat but the motion in the ocean!’ 

Ha! How many times have we heard that one?  Well, I hate to break it to all the guys out there (and gals), but size DOES matter!!  Small has always been compared to big.  And for good reasons.  Bigger has more experience; smaller has more momentum.  Bigger has more reach; smaller has more flexibility.  There are thousands of bigger, but there are millions of smaller.  And if you think I’m talking about what below a man’s belt buckle, think again — think BIGGER.

Size Does Matter

Think business, big business.  Think of the Amazons, the Apples, the MicroSofts and all the big corporations out there that employ 500 or more employees.  They too started out small.  We’ve heard the stories — started out in a basement, at the kitchen table, the night stand in the bedroom, as a side gig — wherever.  Regardless, they were small, too.  Our businesses are smal.  They may feel much more bigger than where we were when we first started out, but they’re still small.  And as our ambitions and goals grow, so does our business.  And we have — if we desire so — to take our small enterprises and turn them into big businesses.

Is bigger better when it comes to business, though? Does it mean we’ve arrived and have reached the pinnacle of success?  Do more rewards and accolades follow when our business gets bigger?  Or do we have to incur more challenges as we grow?  Are we making ourselves more of a target for liabilities and costs as we get bigger?  But no one wants to be a big fish in a small pond forever.

So, how do we decide what size our business should grow to? After all, in business, size does matters.  Expansion is everything, even if it isn’t in the physical sense.  Innovation, Creativity, Productivity — these are the results of growth — of getting bigger (in some fashion or form).

How big do you want to be?

January — Save the Dates!

 

Look for more update as January progresses!  It’s a new year, take a leap and do what you need to in order to be and see success.

 

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