Business Tips

     Looking for an expert's point of view - and maybe even some great ideas? Our business tips are written by our founder who is a recognized expert author on several ezine sites!
     

     
    • 30 Mar 2011 3:02 PM | Anonymous

      Have you ever wondered how some websites get to page one of Google? This is because of a powerful web marketing technique called Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is a technique which helps search engines find your site and rank it higher than many others when a user enters a search query. But how does it work and what strategies should be employed to increase your website ranking?

      Search engines are not human. They are text-driven and perform many activities in order to deliver results when someone performs a search. They crawl and index websites, but the bottom line is that search engines calculate the relevancy of the page with each search string. Then they retrieve the website results for the user and display them from the most relevant to least relevant.

      Therefore it is in your best interest to optimize your website so that the search engines will consider it the most relevant when a search is performed. Using an experienced SEO professional can save you time and costly mistakes. Some of the things to watch for include:

      • Keyword usage: use plural forms of a keyword and synonyms, and try changing word order.
      • Don't repeat your keywords so often as to be "spammy" or "junky". Keep in mind that the recommended keyword density is from 3 to 7%, anything above this, say 10% density starts to look very much like keyword stuffing and it is likely that will not get unnoticed by search engines.
      • Regular maintenance so that your site has no "broken pieces" or relevant updates should be performed to the information on your site. SEO is an ongoing exercise due to your competition and changes in the search engines.
      • Use relevant text on your site that answers clients questions and gives them a call to action. Duplicating content on several pages is a big no-no, not only to Google but to website visitors.
      • The more “trusted” links you build, the more trust Google will have in your site.
      Google states on its own site that nobody can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google. So if you meet someone that says he/she can, turn around and walk the other way.


      Please contact Susan Valeri for an individualized consultation.  For more information please see Susan's site here
    • 11 Jan 2011 8:50 AM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      This past week I led a ROAR Board session - on you guessed it - technology!  As peopleClick here to see the video entered the room it appeared at first there were two camps. In my camp was me.  In the other camp were several women - who by the look on their faces - were not real excited by the topic.

      Technology snuck up behind many of us after we were finished our education.  We had left school and entered our careers - and before it crept up behind us - we felt prepared for life.  We knew there was more to learn - but never expected the table turning that technology brought us.

      It was a HUGE CHANGE.  And a change many of us resisted until we could no longer escape it.  We cried "Uncle" and then pretended to become engaged!

      We tolerated email.  We grudgingly built web sites - sometimes over and over because we could not articulate what we were hoping to get for our hard earned dollar. 

      We cringed and became fearful as soon as someone said virus.  And although we knew a human virus could be cured by bed rest and good nutrition - we knew how to do that.  And it was cheap.  A computer virus sometimes cost over a hundred dollars to cure - and we lost data and time.  OH - how we began to resent technology.

      Wasn't it supposed to make our lives easier and give us time? YES.  And it can - if we embrace it.

      You see it starts with a mindset.  What we fear can overtake us.  When we are fearful we begin to tell ourselves stories. (I know - I hear them and sometimes even make them up myself)  Stories like - "if I leave my computer online, I might get a virus", or "oooh nooo, if I push that button someone might hack into my system".  Another favourite is "I don't want to buy online because I don't want to lose my identity".

      These fears have a small amount of validity to them - but as we move forward in life and in the world that has evolved around us - there will always be risks. 

      When compared to other risks like driving your car, or even eating fast food - the risks technology brings are minimal.

      The trick to making technology work for you is to embrace it.  Yes, even celebrate it!

      Once you change your mind - you will change the energy you send out.  Once you feel good about technology - you will attract great opportunities.

      So how could technology help you?  I use all of the following:

      Automated appointment booking
      Meetings online - saving time and travel
      Auto responders
      Follow - up programs
      Automated newsletters
      Automated social media integration
      "Crazy inexpensive" phone services
      Snail mail correspondence done in 1/10th the time

      Technology can really change your success rate, your efficiency and give you time back!  Watch this cute video to see how it worked for me this week!





    • 27 Dec 2010 7:30 AM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      When I am coaching business owners - at any level-  there comes a place and time when they are in the midst of letting something go and creating something new.  They are often "in between" where they were and where they are going.

      Let me tell you - I have been there - and it is not an easy place to be.  In fact it can be quite uncomfortable.

      Leaving behind the known - even though it may not be the best place for you - is not easy - especially when you have not yet experienced where you want to be.  But being "in-between" has incredible value.  Let me explain.

      Yesterday while out cross country skiing - I was thinking of all the great things about being "in between" in my life.  First of all - I realized that if I skied 'in between' the tracks - I could focus on what lay ahead.  (the scenery was beautiful)  Skiing in between the tracks made the progress faster and easier than breaking new trail - and although the skiing still required effort - there was an ease about it. 

      I also began to think about the holiday and how we were in between Christmas and the New Year.  In that "in between" time - I had some spare time that allowed me to do some things (like skiing) that I enjoyed. 

      In between Christmas and the New Year there were also lots of great left overs to serve - without all the work of the original preparation!  I was still glad to eat turkey and cranberries - they still tasted great - and only required me to warm them up instead of spending hours cooking them.  Hmm, this place "in between" was looking better all the time!

      In fact I am in between being "old" and "young".  There are lots of places in my life where I have not yet arrived - and yet I have left behind the familiar.

      André Paul Guillaume Gide said, "One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time"  This also reminds me of the expression "Ships are safe at harbour - but that's not what ships are for!"

      When we are in between where we are going and where we were, we have time to reflect on what was - bring the best forward - and discard that which was not working for us.  This can be uncomfortable in that we don't know what the destination feels or looks like - and leaving behind what we knew and what was comfortable can be disconcerting to say the least.  Pushing off from the shore can bring uncertainty.

      Right now, for example, we are "in between" websites.  The old website will soon be closed down and the new one (this one) will launch.  The old one worked 'ok' but with new advances in social media,it no longer serves our community well.  And technology has finally caught up to the vision I have of an online community - so it is time to leave the old to create the new.

      The uncomfortable part is that I am leaving what is familiar.  The first site may not have worked like I wanted it to - but I had learned to work with the 'quirks' and navigate the issues that held us back.  Moving forward to the unknown, encountering new issues and problems, I began to wonder if the new site would work and was feeling very uncomfortable to say the least.  At times, it became more and more inviting to turn around and just go back to the old website that I know.

      But then I remembered my own advice and training. I could bring forward all the things that were working - and incorporate them into the great new things I was creating in the new website.  And when I let go of the comfortable-ness of the past - the future became much more inviting.  The 'in between' became an exciting place to be.

      Moving forward in our businesses often requires us to let go of what was in order to move forward.  And when we do let go - and focus on the future - the journey becomes one of anticipation and excitement. 

      Yes there will be bumps.  Yes there will be new situations to encounter.  Yes we may have to be resourceful in new ways - and we may even have to ask for help.

      Leaving behind the old to create the new can be much easier than we expect - when we focus on where we are going - and not how we are going to get there.

      As you move into the New Year - consider where you are on journey.  Are you feeling pretty comfortable but perhaps complaining about where you are?  (Complaining is really all about "knowing there is something better out there for you but being unwilling to go get it."  )

      If so - consider stepping out of your comfort zone and asking yourself the tough questions.  And if you need help - just ask! Get some coaching - or business advice.  Being in the "in between" means you are moving forward!  It can be easier than you think!

      Resources available for you:  Coaching, Free coaching Fridays, Marketing Services & Member workshops
    • 23 Sep 2010 1:10 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      It’s all in the numbers. In fact business – although about relationships is also all about numbers.

      How many people do you have on your data base? How many times do you connect with them? How are you adding to your data base? How are you doing this?

      If you are relying solely on meeting people one at a time to build your data base you may be seriously limiting your ability to succeed. There are other ways to build relationships with people you do not yet know. In fact bigger businesses are doing it all the time. So why aren’t you?

      Last month I sent an offer out to my data base for a coaching program. I wanted six clients. The first three that signed up for the program were people I had NEVER met before. That’s right! So how did they get the email with the offer?

      When I first started Roaring Women – we offered 23 Golden rules to promote your business. When someone signed up for the 23 tips – which they received daily – they were added to my data base. They received good ideas and value – and I had someone I could continue to communicate with on a regular basis. Week after week, month after month, people added themselves to the data base and began getting the tips.

      In addition, I began to send out more information about business – tips and trends via a newsletter. More and more people signed up – and as long as I delivered value – they stayed on the list. As each person saw items they wanted to purchase – or courses they wanted to take, or meetings they wanted to attend – they began to purchase.

      So in essence – although I had not met each subscriber – I had built a relationship with them by offering great information thereby building trust. Imagine if I had to meet each of those people who signed up for the business coaching in person? After learning more about them – I realized the chances were slim to nil that our paths would have crossed.

      Personal relationships are important – in business and in our everyday lives. However, we live in a much different world than our parents did where we began building relationships by shaking hands and saying hello. The internet has opened the doors to a brave new world – where we begin building relationships en masse – and meet people one on one later in the game.

      Want to learn more on how you can grow your data base and start building relationships in a more effective way? Join us this next week for the webinar to learn how easily you can begin to systematize your relationship building – and grow your business, contact list and income.
    • 01 Sep 2010 1:19 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      One of the biggest lessons I have learned in business – is that although you may be a sole proprietor and wear many, many hats, you do not have to be alone. In fact you are not alone – and if you are feeling alone it is likely because you have isolated yourself. There are other business owners out there who are just waiting for you to connect with them.

      There are of course many reasons to connect with other business owners – to form alliances, share experiences, share wins (and losses), share information about new trends or special events, warn each other of scams or potential dangers, and finally just to connect and support one another.

      Having your own business can be a very lonely occupation and when we isolate ourselves by not connecting, we also put our businesses in jeopardy as well. Let me explain.

      Earlier this year we were experiencing a downturn in attendance at our meetings. It concerned not only me but our leadership team as well. As the ‘head honcho’ I was accustomed to cheering the others on – but rarely connected with other leaders in my industry or related industries. As a result, I became very discouraged – ready in fact to throw in the towel.

      I do not give up easily – so I can honestly say that it was a bad place to be in terms of my thinking. But then, a funny thing happened.

      I signed up for a business event - which was later cancelled. Then I heard of several other events that were cancelled, including an annual event hosted by a city of over a million people that had been held for 10 years. Cancelled!

      I began to wonder if this was a growing trend and not something only I had been experiencing. It took me awhile, but I began to reach out to other business owners. What I learned was very interesting.

      It seemed that because I had not shared my experiences with others, I perceived that people just were no longer interested in the events I was running. The truth was – people everywhere were not attending events like they had been two years previously. One by one, business owners everywhere who I knew ran seminars and events, agreed they had canceled and postponed events and had been doing so for over six months.

      I had been ready to close my business simply as a result of not being informed of what was happening with other businesses. I had isolated myself from other leaders who were experiencing similar circumstances.

      There is much value in supporting each other. But we cannot support each other if we remain isolated. Studies have shown that when we support another person – not only do we feel better, but we release the ‘feel good’ endorphins and neurotransmitters that give us a great high – and help us to remain optimistic.

      The interesting thing is that the recipient of the support also experiences the same physiological things as the supporter! This is what can build a very strong resilient business community. (One that you can belong to!)

      So go on – make it a point to reach out this week to someone in your industry or association. If you do not belong to one – why not join us here at Roaring Women?
    • 12 Aug 2010 2:05 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      Last week I was seduced by price – I admit it – and bought some green and red peppers at a store that was well known for the lowest possible price. When I got home I placed them on the counter – all shiny and green – and that evening at supper cut them open to add them to a stir fry.

      As soon as I saw the inside – I realized the quality of the product was less than the discounted price I paid for them. They were moldy inside! So in the end – even though the prices was heavily discounted – I still paid too much as I had to throw them out. My neighbor who always shops at a local market smiled and explained why she shopped at a market that had higher process and never discounted.
      She was an educated consumer. Which made me think about the people who purchase my products. Who do I want as clients – discount shoppers or educated consumers?

      As a woman in business I have often fallen victim to the ‘lowest possible price” competitive mentality – and at times it has brought incredible losses in my business as opposed to fantastic sales volumes.

      The questions I get most often from women in business, surround the pricing and discounting of their products. “Am I asking too much? Should I discount? “I am charging less than all the others – why is no one ordering?”
      My best advice has always been for a business owners to set their prices at the higher end of ‘market value’ and never to discount to get the sale.

      I also hear from business owners regularly who are closing their businesses. After careful consideration of the problems that forced the business to close what I see most often - are businesses closing their door simply because they cannot generate an adequate cash flow to sustain the business. In almost every case the business owner has UNDER-PRICED their products or services – and still was not able to generate the sales they needed to survive.

      Under-priced? Really? You would think if their product was priced under everyone else’s, that they would generate more sales than the competition. What they did not know is that price may not be the reason people buy.

      How do we know this?

      The business department of a major university tested the ‘price point’ on a product with 100 companies.

      - Group #1: The first 30 companies sold on ‘price’ alone.

      - Group #2: The second group of 40 companies was given permission to give heavily controlled price discounts.

      - Group #3: The third group of 30 companies was directed to sell only at book price.

      And you will never guess the results! (Take a look at the chart.)

      So why will people pay more for the same product and do so happily?
      • The customer trusts the sale person
      • Customer is educated on value
      • Product comes with a personal guarantee
      • Company is responsive to problems as they arise
      • Customer knows if they pay 100% of the price they will get 100% of your time effort and service commitment.

      Seasoned purchasers understand that the lowest price is not always the best value. A knowledgeable customer understands the concept of “fair trade for fair value”, and values the sales person or business enough that they are willing to invest in quality relationships and know that they will get good service and good quality which adds up to best value.

      When times are slow – it is easy to think the time is right to launch a huge sale. Resist the temptation! Instead of having a sale – focus on the value you offer and educate the customers on the value they will receive from you at the current price.

      Customers who receive value refer others to you. They say thank you. And they come back when they need your product or service again because they know that they will receive value.
    • 31 May 2010 2:13 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      It happened again. While searching for a new investment property – I stumbled across an ‘almost too good to be true’ price for a 2 bedroom condo in Calgary. I poured over the ad several times. I put it aside and came back to it 3 separate days and then made plans to drive 1 hour and 45 minutes to see the condo.

      Surprisingly we never found the new condo. We never found the address – or a sign posted saying a condo was to be built. In fact we never even found an empty field at the address listed on the advertisement.

      I called the phone number to find out the sales office was 30 minutes away. I re-read the ad in the magazine. Nowhere was the address for the sales centre given. So I called again to clarify the other locations advertised.
      It turned out that NONE of the locations had a condo at their several mentioned locations for the price or the size mentioned in the ad. The sales woman acknowledged that the reason the ad was written in the way it was – was to get an interested party to call in or come in and they would up-sell them.

      For this reason – I will never again visit a showroom associates with this company. Neither will I read their ads. They will be immediately deleted from my conscious considerations.

      The truth is a misleading ad that is meant to reel you in like a fish hooked by the headline or big print ad will only serve creating mistrust with readers. And you can bet there is now way they will recommend doing business with you.

      So how are we supposed to catch the attention of the reader in an advertisement?

      Tell the truth. It is a simple as that.

      Our businesses all solve problems. Our best customers have the problems we solve. A great headline that will attract the attention of the right person will mention the problem or how the problem was solved – and the reader will identify with it.

      Another way is to peak the curiosity of the reader. An example might be - “Why does Fido run to the door every time the doorbell rings – and what has that got to do with my ability to succeed?” would peak my curiosity. (the answer is here: http://roaringwomen.blogspot.com/2010/05/door-bell-rings-and-there-goes-fido.html)

      Good advertising is targeted to reach the right customers – educates and informs them and offers a solution to their problem. If they truly have the problem – and want it solved – and now is the right time and you have the right price – then they will call or visit for more information. Being creative and writing good copy is part of getting their attention but in the end they need to want what you have to offer.

      You may have to get creative – but you will never have to lie to them. Misleading advertising only serves to drive customers away – for good.
      Make sure your offers:

      • Are clear
      • Catch the attention of the reader (get creative)
      • Are factual and truthful
      • Do not have small print (signifies trickery)
      • Have a call to action

      These are simple steps – and will ensure your contact with the potential client is above board – and begins to build a relationship instead of poisoning it before you have an opportunity to interest them in your offer.
    • 19 May 2010 2:20 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      I love to make things from scratch. Cookies, bread, even spaghetti sauce! Like many people after a recession I have become much more aware of what I spend on groceries and eating out – and I always feel good when I am diligent with my price checking – minding my pennies.

      Deciding to make spaghetti for dinner – using my famous topping concoction recipe – I went to the store to get a green pepper and some other items. I also picked up four bananas.

      At the check out – I watched as she rang up my purchases. One green pepper - $1.38. Four bananas - $1.25.
      I was absolutely amazed. If I had been very hungry – both green pepper or bananas were healthy choices to snack on.

      Each, in fact contained many of the nutrients my body needs every day. However, I know that four bananas would have been more than I needed to fill me up – whereas one green pepper may not have satisfied my hunger.

      The interesting part was that while shopping for spaghetti sauce ingredients – if I had only taken cost into consideration when deciding what healthy items to put n the sauce – I might have chosen one or two bananas and as a result saved 50% on the cost that one ingredient.

      However, as the family cook, event though nutrition is one of the highest values on my list – the taste would be a deciding factor in whether or not my family would eat the spaghetti sauce.

      Let’s face it – bananas, no matter how nutritious or reasonably priced – just do not go well in spicy tomato sauce. No reasonable experienced cook would add them in lieu of green peppers.

      A successful meal is much the same as a successful business day or business project . We want the business to make money and support those it is designed to support – customers, owners and employees. In fact when we are making money and the business is successful – we can almost say YUMM!

      Unfortunately, many business owners have not been raised learning the right ingredients to use in their businesses. And so shopping by price they often use bananas when green peppers are called for – because of course, bananas are more filling and cheaper. Both may be nutritious – but only one is what the business really needs.

      Let me explain. The business may need a website – but because a blog is cheaper – they use a blog site to build a website – and then wonder why the outcome is not the same. Or they send an email when in fact a snail mail card is really what is needed. (the email gets quickly deleted and the thank you card would have sat in view for weeks)
      Another example would be placing an ad in a newspaper for an event when really, making several phone calls is what would put bums in seats.

      Finally, the one substitution that seems the least harmful but often causes the most damage to a business is making the decision that they cannot afford to seek paid advice – or hire help. They might ask friends for advice or get a relative to do a specific task for them. This would be like making spaghetti sauce without the green pepper and adding bananas into the tomato sauce. After all bananas are nutritious.

      Cheaper? Yes. But now the spaghetti is not palatable. No one will eat it.

      I have seen business owners purchase the wrong ingredient over and over again for their businesses - then wonder why things are not working.

      This is the reason I have always hired advisors and coaches. They are experienced chefs when it comes to cooking up a great business. They know the right ingredients that each successful business needs.

      As for my dinner - my spaghetti tasted fantastic. I used the bananas for banana bread. There were no leftovers in either case. (no waste – hmmm interesting
    • 23 Apr 2010 2:30 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      Statistics hook me in. They excite me. They open the door to curiosity.

      For example we think more than 60,000 thoughts a day. The questions that statistic provokes start me to wondering what happens to those thoughts? Where do they go when I am finished thinking them? Do I even know I am thinking them? Are they merely little packets of creation - floating in cyberspace?

      The answer is of course – those thoughts are energy which serve me up my day. Good or bad – they create my experiences – before during and after they leave my consciousness.

      I recently asked a business owner on a coaching call what was going on in their world. Without hesitation they began to ramble on about their current thoughts. They were so entrenched in current worries, concerns and regrets that they did not even hear the question. They in fact were not really aware of what was going n in their business!

      This ‘thought tornado’ phenomenon is one of the reason we do not achieve our goals or even get to our to do lists! Our minds are so busy with thoughts that it over rides our ability to act. These little voices that rule our thinking sound something like this:

      “You need to call Judy – oh but wait – I think it is Tuesday and Judy is out at her meeting – well maybe I will call Judy later – but the last time I spoke with her she sounded upset at me – I wonder why? – geeze what did I do now? – maybe I better send her a card…”

      “Oh my gosh – I forgot to email about my upcoming event – how could I forgotten that - boy am I stupid! Why don’t I remember stuff like that – people must wonder about me…”

      “O dear my head hurts. I wonder how my kids are doing – oops did I sign that permission form? What was I thinking? I better run that over to the school right now – did I follow up with that my new client Sally? I wonder why she has not called me back? Gosh this shirt looks old – o boy – I am looking old. I should exercise more…what should I cook for dinner tonight? ….. “

      Sound familiar? 60,000 thoughts – running around our head – all day long!

      For many this is not only the start to the day – but our busy mind continues like this all day long. No wonder we don’t feel good about ourselves, the jobs we do and we are unable to get anything done.

      What happens is we lack the ability to focus our thought – harness that powerful engine we have in between our ears. Instead we let our thoughts take us on a ride – instead of managing the energy for our own best good.

      The most ironic part of this process is that we then wonder aloud why we never get anything done, or remark at how unlucky we are at growing our business!

      Thought create things. They can create confusion and chaos – or we can harness their energy and create a fabulous moment, a fantastic day and countless opportunities!
      How do we begin? It is much easier than you think. Let me give you a starting point.

      1. Commit to 5 minutes twice a day. (can you do that?) Set a timer if you are worries you will forget when 5 minutes is up – or to ensure you actually take 5 minutes!

      2. Sit quietly, close your eyes – focus on your breath. Think about how easily it comes in and goes out. How remarkable is it that our body knows exactly when to breathe in and out!

      3. Focus on the energy you receive from your breathing. Think of the plumes of energy that enter through your nose and imagine them actually entering through the top of your head. Watch them flow into your heart – into your lungs and tingle out to the ends of your finger tips. Know that now you are connected – to yourself!

      4. Greet yourself – go ahead – say hello! Thank yourself for taking time for you. Appreciate yourself for WHO you are. Think about the wonderful person that you are. Hug yourself – and let yourself know you love yourself.

      5. Have that conversation now about how you would like your day to proceed. Ask yourself to focus on positive and creative thoughts. Ask yourself to watch for doors opening. And remind yourself that today there is enough time for everything.

      6. Open your eyes when you are ready. Write down the top five things you want to accomplish today – and begin number 1.

      This is a simple way to create a harness for those thoughts that if left untamed would take you on a wild ride today.
      60,000 thoughts.

      They not only belong to you – you have the ability to create new ones and to harness them to bring you closer to where you want to go. You get to choose how you will react- which thoughts to focus on and which thought to cancel.

      Les Brown said many years ago “What we think upon grows”. This is the most powerful truth I know.
    • 07 Apr 2010 2:34 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      Yes, just five percent.

      Most of us would agree that five percent is not a big amount. From a dollar it is a mere nickel – 1/20th of a full dollar. In fact if a sign were to boast “5% off – today only” we would likely laugh!

      However, I have learned that five percent can be a very powerful amount when used correctly. I have used it in my business over the last year and the result has been incremental!

      No, I did not offer a five percent discount. What I did was take on five percent more responsibility for my success in my business – and built on it.

      You see, the problem with us making changes in our business – or our lives for that matter often seem difficult because we make a decision like “I have to make $20,000 more dollars this year to cover expenses. “ And a thought like that can be debilitating.

      Our mind immediately begins to argue with us telling us – that it is impossible and we may as well give up now while we are ahead!

      But if we think about this differently – take simply five percent more responsibility for ensuring we earn more it only means making one small change – each time we make a sale. What might this mean in the sales or purchasing for sales process?

      • Up sell one extra item to every client
      • Bundling ‘slow moving’ items with others to reduce inventory
      • Ask for a referral and offer an incentive
      • Reducing order frequency and increasing order size to reduce shipping fees
      • Search for a distributor with lower prices
      • Buy in bulk to reduce costs
      • Buy specials if they are what you would normally buy
      • Asking for discounts when purchasing

      Each of these activities in and of themselves will have very little significance on your profit. But choosing to enact one of these activities daily will add up to massive gains over a year.

      Five percent is manageable change. In truth it may be the smallest percentage that pushes you over the top to success!

      What will you do today to take 5% more responsibility for the success of your business?

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