What is a business? A business is simply seeing a need and filling it. Having a solution for a problem.
If you sell something or provide a service for something that people need, and are willing to pay for it, you have a business.
That's it in a nutshell. When you boil down what we do, we find a need and we fill it.
How do you grow your business? Well, people need to know about your solution! You have to express that you understand their problem and clearly explain the solution. But this is complicated, isn't it? Sometimes it's hard to relate to the people we are selling to. Sometimes we don't like to promote ourselves. And sometimes we are so busy providing the solution, we actually don't have time to promote at all!
Here's where systems come in. You have to have stable, dependable systems to promote the solution to the problem that your people are facing. You can use your website, email, Facebook, direct mail, word of mouth, etc. But you can't decide to promote your business only when business is slow. Honestly, your marketing and advertising needs to be a system in itself! Do you have a repeatable process that is a checklist that you complete every single week?
If you don't have enough people seeking the solution that you offer, then focus on your marketing. Focus on improving your messaging. Make sure you are speaking to the need that your customer already knows they have. They have pain--and you have the solution. Simply put, that is marketing and advertising.
Need some help with your marketing? Let's talk! Book a call here:
I was getting a haircut this week and my dear friend (and hair stylist) described a crazy day last week when she was running all over town to get to the bank, and then run to Target for groceries and batteries and dog food. I stared at her in disbelief. "Sweetheart," I said in love. "Why on earth are you wasting all that time?!"
"What do you mean?" she asked in exasperation.
"Honey, I NEVER go to Target for groceries or batteries. You need to order that stuff ONLINE!"
My dear friend is a busy business owner and mom of 4, just like me. She was running all over town getting ready to travel that week. I gave her some huge time-saving tips and I want to share those with you, too.
1. Whenever possible, do NOT go to the bank.
Get your checks automatically deposited into your accounts. You can even take a picture of your checks to be deposited and upload them to your bank. (If your bank doesn't provide this, maybe you need a different bank.) Avoid the bank like the plague and it will save you so much time!! (In fact, as much as humanly possible, get rid of ALL checks! You should be using Square to take payments on site, have clients on auto pay. Use anything except checks that need to be deposited or can be lost or put through the wash. Not that I know anything about that, wink wink.)
2. Order your groceries online.
You do not have time that be subjected to the marketing powers of Target or Walmart or Cub. It's so easy to be sucked into their deals and their shiny displays. Get what YOU need and stick to your list! Every Sunday night, I place an order at www.cobornsdelivers.com. I found a day that matches their delivery schedule and I get my groceries delivered to my door before noon on Monday morning. Some of my friends place an order at Walmart and go drive to the location and they'll load up your car! It doesn't cost anything extra, but it can save you SO much time and stress and effort.
HUGE tip: Go into your previous orders and re-order items that you buy every week. Honestly? This is probably 75% of your weekly order anyway! Don't reinvent the wheel. Just get those basics again.
Also-- do NOT scroll through everything they offer. Use the search bar to find your favorite items and then add them to your cart!
3. Get Amazon Prime.
My friend told me that she had been meaning to get Prime from Amazon (free two day shipping). "What is stopping you?!?" I asked. It's only $99 per year!! (And sometimes you can find a deal on that price!) Amazon Prime means never searching Target for batteries or light bulbs again. Just order them. Amazon Prime means getting the gray sweatpants delivered to your HOUSE and saves you hours of searching, when school or activities send you an email informing you that little Sally needs gray pants for the school play. I even have toilet paper and paper towels on autoship. I'll always need those items so they might as well show up on my doorstep every 90 days without me having to think about it.
You do NOT need to waste your time running errands! You have important things to do!
Here's what you have to get right so you can eliminate the crazy:
1. Get organized.
Are you jumping in the car every time you run out of something (like cat food)? I love to keep lists in my phone and when I'm almost out of something, I add it to my list. I also set reminders so I remember to check my stock of frequently used items (lightbulbs, batteries, napkins, shampoo, etc.). I like to place one order per month for these types of non-perishable things.
2. Plan ahead.
Know the delivery schedule for your online grocery service and place the order on the same day every week. Set reminders in your phone to prompt you to place your grocery order. I know you have a million things to think about--so don't rely on memory to ensure you get this done. Once a month, have a reminder to order the miscellaneous items from Amazon. Take inventory in your house (like you would in a brick and mortar store) so you kknow what you need to order!
3. Find apps to keep you organized.
I store all my Christmas and birthday gift lists in Evernote. I can access my lists from my phone or computer and search lists from past years so I remember what I gave and what names I had. When I shop on Amazon, I write down what I ordered and how much I spent so I don't have to add it to the list after it arrives. My hubby and I love to use MyGroceries, an app for tracking the groceries we need. We can both add items as we run out of items and then we both know what we need.
Is technology holding you back?
We talk to so many people who just hate technology. I get it. Things are constantly changing, and if it's just not your cup of tea, it can be intimidating and frustrating. However, just like learning anything new, you CAN keep trying. Don't let your limiting belief hold you back. Are you hearing a voice in your head that is saying, "I'll never learn this stuff. I'm just not good at technology."?
Turn those statements around and say, "I can learn this. I can try one thing at a time. I won't give up."
Attitude is truly everything. If you believe you can achieve it, you will!
Technology has the ability to make your life simpler so you can get back to what you LOVE to do. Driving around, getting distracted, and wasting time is not improving your business or your family life. If you could free up time to have an evening with your familiy, wouldn't that be worth learning a new skill?
You don't have to do everything at once. What is one change that could you make to free up some time (especially during the busy holiday season)?
How can you take one tiny baby step and make a huge difference in your life? Try ordering groceries. Or picking them up curbside. Or using Amazon Prime. I think you'll be delighted with the results when you just stop, breathe, and readjust your steps. You don't have to overhaul your life-- you just have to make one small change! And it could make a huge difference in your stress levels! Get your peace back this Christmas season.
I'm cheering you on.
It's a simple fact: people want connection. They want to know a real, living, human being cares about them. This is such an easy, simple thing to implement into business or ministry, and yet most of us are missing the mark.
Through connection, you can grow your business with 3 simple systems: using your website, email, and Facebook. (Chances are, you’re already using these 3 things! Whoo hoo!)
The #1 mistake that 90% of websites make is not capturing the reader’s attention with BENEFITS for the reader on the home page. Why should people choose your business? What sets you apart from other businesses just like yours?
Home page rules
The average visit on a website is 1 minute! To make matters worse, between 21-79% of your readers only look at the first page they land on. They won’t even attempt to click through your other pages.
You have only seconds to grab the attention of your reader and give them the answers that they are seeking. Are they looking for pricing? Contact info? Directions? Information? Do you have the answers to THOSE questions on your front page?
If you have sentences like: “Thanks for stopping by our website. We hope you will browse around. Let us know if you don’t find what you are looking for” then you are WASTING an opportunity to connect with your audience! You need to GRAB your reader’s attention with a headline (or a question) that they are already asking.
If you have a very beautiful "cool" website without the pertinent information, you will frustrate your reader. If your website is not on a responsive theme, they may not be able to see anything because your site originally designed for a desktop computer. It’s hard to keep up with all the changing trends! If you haven’t updated your site in the last year or two, it's time for a redesign.
The right Pictures
Make sure you have pictures on the home page of your site! Your site should reflect your audience, so pick pictures that look like real people (not like fake models or stiff stock photos). Portray the clients you are trying to attract! The best thing you can do is take real pictures of your real clients!
Answer the questions they are asking
Make sure you have text on your home page. Answer your audience’s questions quickly and swiftly, and let them know why they should choose YOU.
Search engines love text (and can't "read" images with words on them) so this will help when users are searching for what you do.
Call to Action
The very last item on your home page should be a Call to Action. Do you want them to call? Stop by? Request more information? Make it clear. People are in a hurry and want to be told exactly what to do!
Next week we'll talk about email and Facebook!
I was the editor of our school newspaper in high school. It was supposed to be a rotating position, but right away it was clear that I was the one who loved editing, correcting grammar, and cracking the whip on deadlines. I remember sitting in Government class, secretly editing articles and passing them back to my fellow newspaper contributors. It was a position that I loved so much that my plan was to pursue Journalism in college. (Until God made it clear that I should major in music. But that's a story for another day.)
An important consideration for any newspaper team or editor is the article that is "above the fold." You know the newspaper that's folded in half, lying on the stand at the end of the counter at Starbucks while you wait for your grande latte? You scan the headlines, right? You might pick up the paper and look underneath. But the most attention goes to article above the fold.
The same is true of your website. First impressions are everything and "above the fold" is valuable real estate. For websites, we want to maximize the first few seconds the reader is on your website. Is it clear what your business is all about? Does the reader know what to do next? Are the pictures visually clear on who the target audience is?
PLEASE don't waste the top half of your home page with announcements: "Enrollment ends soon. Hurry!!" or "We will be closed on Labor Day." These announcements are for your current clients. Use email for your announcements, not your website. Your website is mostly for new visitors. Potential clients. You have only seconds to win them over and to keep them reading. Please don't waste those seconds on "insider information."
If a reader can't decide in 3 seconds that "this is the place for me," then you've probably lost them forever. Use only 2 different fonts on your page, keep your colors clean and appealing, and use photographs that are happy, smiling, and that draw in your reader.
Make sure your address, phone number, and email address are front and center! This is super important for both current and prospective clients. Please don't make the reader search for this important information. Also, be sure to have a link to your Facebook page in the upper right hand corner. (Social Media is how clients can peak into the life of your business and decide if they want to work with you.)
First impressions are everything. If you are stuck on how to improve your site, ask a friend or co-worker to give you their opinion. Then listen and make changes!
If you're a creative person, like me, you probably spent hours choosing your business name. You probably asked all your friends and relatives, took a poll, made lists, doodled, brainstormed, agonized, called your best friend, agonized some more and FINALLY the big reveal! You created a logo and the perfect font and announced your beautiful business name! And then people gave you "the look." The look that said, "I don't get it. What do you do? What's your business?"
Oh beautiful creative people. WE know the meaning behind all the words and the beautiful journey we took to arrive at this amazing name. But other people don't. Other people (yes, sad, but true) are logical and literal (but don't get down on them too much--they do our bookkeeping and we love them!). They just don't understand our amazing creative ways. (That's why they need us in their lives! To make all the beauty appear!) The problem is when our clients are actually the more left-brained, logical type. They are the ones that need to understand our brand, our logo, and our business name, and yet that's who we are confusing!
Story time: When I named my company a million years ago (OK, 20 years ago. But feels like a million years ago) I agonized over the name. I had lists and ideas and doodles--the whole works. I finally landed on Signature School of Music. Because duh--time signatures and key signatures and just like our signature, we are all unique and individuals. Except all that inference was lost on everyone. So I was continually asked, "Why Signature? What does that mean?" So I would explain and expound they would look at me like, "OK, yeah. Sure." So I finally resorted to saying, "A teacher of mine suggested it. I liked it." Response: "Oh."
Fast forward 15 years. It's time to get serious about growing my little music school. I'm tired of make ZERO money. I'm tired of working super hard but never moving forward. So I hire a business coach. And he -GASP- suggests I change my name to the name of my town. Here's the dialogue that ensues in my (freaking out) mind:
"I can't! I'm so attached! I love my name. I've always been Signature School of Music. I live in ROGERS. Rogers is a terrible name for a music school! I can't do it. I won't do it. I can't do it." Oh the drama.
After a year or two of hemming and hawing, I finally decided that I wanted to be THE music school in my town. I wanted the town to have ownership of my business. I wanted my clients to definitively know where my business is located. I wanted the surrounding areas to know where my school is located. So I did it. I filed a DBA (doing business as) and changed my business name to Rogers School of Music.
No one died. I didn't flip out. I cried a little (and saved the sign in my garage for the next 3 years) but you know what happened? My business GREW. People started exclaiming, "I didn't even know this school was here!" (What?? With all my advertising, you didn't know I existed? But I change my name and NOW you notice??)
Yep. The fall that I changed my name (and made a big to-do about it on Facebook and in our newsletters and emails and even got in the paper and invited the Chamber of Commerce to do a ribbon cutting) we got more noticed than ever before. And we GREW. And I've never looked back. No one (except friends in other parts of the United States) asks me why my company is named Rogers School of Music. Nope. It's clear. It's not clever, it's not beautiful, but it's clear and I've gotten so many new clients because of it!
If I can do it, you can too. Sure, you'll cry a little. But then it won't matter because you'll be so happy about all your new business. (And people will find you more easily online because your city name is in your business name! Boom!)
When I finally threw away my old sign that I had stored in the garage for 3 years, I chuckled a little. Besides the day that it came down, I've never looked back. I've never regretted the decision. I only have one regret--I should have done it sooner.
Each of these 13 secret strategies are vital to the success of your company. Alone, they are important. But when they work together, they create a firestorm of power for your marketing!
Most web designers are either:
The primary reason for working with us is that we are marketing experts. We have studying copywriting and marketing while also having certification in SEO. We drive traffic to your website and then win over your potential client with the look, feel, and words on your site!
You can certainly build your own website. There are easy-to-use platforms available that make this accessible to any business owner! But, if you don’t have expertise in marketing and SEO, you should outsource this to get it done quickly and correctly, so your company can grow and you can focus on everything else on your to do list!
Here’s what makes your experience with working with us exceptional:
We won’t build your website and then hold it hostage from you. After it’s built, we will actually train you so that you can edit your site whenever you want to.
We understand that your business is constantly evolving. You’ll need to have the keys back to your website so you can drive it and get where you’re going!
During the process of working with us, we’ll also hook you up with the absolute best and easiest tools to streamline your systems and add even more firepower to your marketing. Let's talk soon. Can't wait to help.
I have been studying websites for the past 10 years. I remember building my first website and having NO clue who would even read it. This was before Google, before Facebook, and before MySpace. My customers barely had email addresses!
I hit publish and sent it into the atmosphere. I was nervous about putting myself out there, but then again, who would even find it?!?
It's been 10 years since I built that original site, and WOW have things changed. Now we all have smartphones in our pocket and it is essential for every business or church or organization to have a website.
But how do you make sure your website stands out from all the rest?
How do you engage your prospective customer when they've landed on your site?
How do you make sure your website is actually accomplishing anything at all?
Here's what will NOT work:
1. Have a beautiful design with stunning pictures, but have no clear call to action. So your visitors just leave quietly, unsure about what they should do next.
2. Have NO contact information on your first page. Your reader scans and looks and scans again, and in frustration, hits the "back" button so they can find your phone number or address in a different place.
3. Have a big beautiful site that isn't mobile friendly. Make your visitors zoom in and pinch and zoom out and scroll from side to side until they're dizzy. Your reader abandons the site, frustrated.
These three frustrations happen to me daily. And it makes me want to throw my phone across the room. (Which is extreme, because I really love my phone!)
Here's the deal: I would much rather build you a simple, basic website that WORKS than a complex, beautiful site that causes your reader (and prospective customer) frustration and dismay.
A famous marketer, Dan Kennedy, said: "If every ad around you is pretty, be ugly. If every ad around you is ugly, be pretty." I am paraphrasing, but the point is: STAND OUT.
When we build websites, here's what we focus on:
1. Easy to read.
2. Mobile friendly.
3. Clear steps on what to do next.
I have friends who tinker in web design and they've turned up their nose at some of the sites we have built. They think they are too simple. Too basic. Here's the deal: they are artists, not a team focused on building businesses. When they are building a gorgeous website on a HUGE monitor in their office, that website IS beautiful. It's a piece of art. But are they certified in SEO and experts in systems and streamlining? No.
Here's the reality: Your reader is clicking on your website from their phone, probably coming from an email, Facebook, or Google. So let's make your site simple, clean, easy to read, easy to navigate, and most of all, let's get your prospective customers to call you, stop by, sign up for your newsletter, or buy from you. Because THAT is the point of having a website!
Having an "ugly" website that gets me new clients and new business and grows my bottom line...now THAT is a winner!
I've never loved math. But I've learned to make peace with numbers.
I always preferred music and writing and reading. Give me words before numbers ANY day!
When I started my own business, I realized two things:
1. Math with dollar signs can be FUN!
2. I am still not very good at math and this could be dangerous for my company.
It did not take too long before I decided I did not want to pull my hair out over my numbers anymore. I had WAY more important things to do with my time. I was so relieved when my husband took over my business financials and said, "I'll handle it." He could get everything WAY faster than I could and and ON TIME! I was hooked. I got to manage the parts of my business that I truly LOVED and he could handle those pesky numbers.
I still see my numbers monthly with my P&L statement (profit and loss) and he even makes me beautiful, colorful charts to help me "see" my numbers better. Happy dance! I am able to see how my company is doing, how we are growing, where the money is going, and yet I don't have to track all the daily expenses and receipts. (Shudder.)
If you're ready for more time and LESS STRESS, consider these 9 benefits of working with Never Alone Business Services to handle all of your bookkeeping needs:
1. Simple, Flat Fee Pricing
No longer will you need to question how much your bookkeeper is going to charge you this month for taking care of your books. We charge the same amount each month so your budgeting is easy.
2. Quickbooks Online included in your monthly payment.
When you sign up to work with us, your subscription to Quickbooks Online is included, no additional fees. You can check your books from anywhere, online!
3. Clear, easy to read reports emailed to you each month.
Want to know how much money came in last month or where the money you spent went to? Each month, after reconciling your books, we will send you an easy to read Profit & Loss statement that shows you exactly how much came in and how much was spent. (Ask for the colorful charts--we'll custom build them for you!)
4. Easy tax preparation! (Yay!)
When it comes time for tax season, you can simply allow your tax accountant access to your Quickbooks Online and they will be able to file your taxes without any extra time wasted. And this will actually save you money! (Trust me, accountants are busy and they love bookkeepers.)
5. Certified Intuit Pro-Adviser
Chris is certified in Quickbooks Online and can assist you in making sure you are getting exactly what you are looking for out of your reports.
6. Easy access to your books, anytime, anywhere
With your included subscription to Quickbooks Online, you will be able to access your books anywhere you have an internet connection, even on your smartphone! See what is going on, as well as send invoices-- and get paid quickly and easily.
7. Non-profit? No problem.
We have worked with (and for) non-profits for years and understand the complexities that come with being a non-profit and the reporting that goes along with it. We specialize in working with churches and can help with difficult payroll and other features that come along with non-profits and churches.
8. Full range of business services available in one location.
We can not only help you with your bookkeeping, but we are certified SEO experts, website builders and business consultants ready to help you streamline your business for success!
9. Payroll can be integrated into this one system.
For an additional fee, we can setup your payroll through your Quickbooks Online so that payroll can be done quickly and easily each pay period. You can also file all of your paperwork and pay your monthly or quarterly taxes with only a few clicks of a button.
Ready to stop pulling out your hair and get back to the FUN parts of your business like I did? Contact us. We're here to help!
When I started my first company (teaching piano lessons), my mom hung up a flyer in the school break room where she taught. I got my first 2 students from that flyer. I made copies and rode around the neighborhood on my bike, tucking them between mailboxes, but that was exhausting work and I quit after about a dozen houses. (Ok, so I may have paid my brother to put out a couple dozen more.) I got 2 new students from that hot summer afternoon. After a couple years, I had the brilliant idea to try putting out a sign in my yard that said: “Piano Lessons” and I got another student to sign up.
It was slow growing and it was frustrating. I had no blueprint on how to gain new students and I felt like a tiny raindrop in a sea of advertisers.
The only training I had in advertising was from what I saw around me: TV commercials and billboards and magazine ads. I knew I couldn't afford those. But I had NO IDEA what else to do.
However, my instincts were actually correct with those flyers and yard signs, though I did not know it at the time: Relationship and Layering.
I was able to gain students from the first flyer my mom hung in her school break room because people knew and trusted her. They felt they could trust her daughter. Word of mouth was my primary source of growth for nearly 10 years because people trust their friends’ opinions.
A simple sign in my yard DID yield results because people trust their neighbors. (Our friendly front porch and beautiful flowers probably helped, too!)
The first focus of growing your business should be focused on relationships. People can sense when you truly care about them and their needs. From your first interaction, you are beginning to build your relationship with your customer. This relationship continues to grow and build with every interaction and every communication. You don’t need to ACT like you are a big business. You need to be a small business that cares. You need to have excellence in all that you do, but also be open and friendly and kind.
Layering is the result of using many different venues to get your message to your audience. You layer your results by gaining a few customers from each layer and by simple addition, you grow!
Here's how to layer with the tools you already have:
By having multiple layers of your message in various venues, you will begin to the see the results add up!
Here’s a little secret: You won’t grow your business by obsessing about your “brand.” If you spend all your time making business cards that match your website that match your letterhead, I guarantee this won't help you get new business. Focus instead on building relationships and finding as many venues to advertise in as possible. Focus on communication and showing people that you care.
Coke, Pepsi, Disney and Apple have instant brand recognition. You don’t have millions of dollars to spend on obsessing about your brand like they do. So don't try to copy them.
Instead, work on building relationships. When people like you, they trust you. When they trust you, they will buy from you. Make a list of 5 ways you will build your relationships with your customers. For more help, request a free call with us!
Hi, I'm Jen Hickle!