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Choose Your Hats Wisely

too-many-hats-vri

Wearing too many hats? Multiple designs, a rainbow of colors piled on your head… it may make a fashion statement, but the truth is that all those toppers will soon weigh you down.

That means you got to share, my friend. And TRUST others to carry the ball.

We have a buzzword for that.

It’s called DELEGATION.

I know.

Don’t choke up on me. It’s a hard fact to swallow, but honestly, you just can’t do it all.

Oh, it’s a nice idea, delegating stuff. In theory.

In practice, you might find yourself feeling stubborn enough to hang on… even when all those hats are causing your boat to sink and taking you with it. Overworked, but unwilling to count on anyone else to help you? Not enough hours in the day, but can’t trust someone else to pick up a project and carry it through to completion? You’re shooting yourself in the foot, baby.

Instead of limping around with hats falling everywhere, why not figure out a plan?  Have someone help you out.  Decide on what you like to do and then outsource the rest.

Here’s Five Things to Think About

  1. Best way to start is to keep track of how you spend your time. Not only those things you do that you can invoice for, but the others as well;
  2. Sort out priorities and determine which tasks could be given to someone else to complete, perhaps with the help of a coach or confidant;
  3. You need to set up clear routines and systems that are easy to follow;
  4. Then you’ll have an idea of what kind of skills and expertise your team needs in order to support you effectively. Not just experience, but attitude and a willingness to work with others towards a common purpose;
  5. Recognize that (assuming you’ve hired the right person), demonstrating a lack of trust in them is actually a sign of disrespect.

Once you have your team in place things should improve. But. If you are still feeling overwhelmed but unable to delegate anything to others, it may mean you’re a micromanager and find it hard to trust others to do things as well as you can.

It’s an understandable viewpoint, but it’s immensely non-productive.

Listen to me. STOP thinking you can do it all.

DO

  • allow team members to have ownership of tasks assigned to them
  • listen to the ideas of your team members
  • have open and honest communication with your team at appropriate times
  • support your team so that they can gain the knowledge and skill to work independently
  • set up clear guidelines for systems and procedures that can be easily followed – and allow for their evolution
  • recognize people for a job well done

DON’T

  • start acting in a role you have delegated
  • insist on constant status reports
  • focus so much on detail you miss deadlines
  • insist that everything must be done your way
  • insist on having to approve everything when you are overwhelmed already
  • demonstrate a lack of trust by questioning how things were done, or insisting it be redone when it’s acceptable as is

One of the hardest things to do in delegating is to allow for the fact that things WON’T be perfect. You may not communicate effectively. Or, the task may get done but in a completely different way than you would do it. Consider it part of the evolution of your team. Listen! Be open!

With open communication and respect, better ways to do things might appear. Envision good ideas on streamlining or assisting clients more effectively. In order to be able to put vital work in the hands of others you’ll need to communicate effectively, and often. And communication, don’t you know, is a two-way street.

And hey, you know who can back you up on a lot of this stuff, don’t you? Give VRI a call today….

Just give me a call at 815-478-3838 or send me an email at terry@vribiz.com. Problem solved!

Click Here for a FREE Consultation!

[Please Note: this is the 1st blog post in Part 2 of our 3-part business series, which includes Part 1: Planning a Biz, Part 2: Running a Biz, and Part 3: Dealing with Your Success.]

 

3 Ways to Showcase Your Expertise

3 ways to showcase your expertise

If you’re in business start-up mode you might not have had many clients yet.  Still, you need to somehow assure those looking at your marketing materials that you have the smarts, the skills and the expertise to assist them with their needs.

You have to find a way to showcase your experience so you SHINE OUT from the crowd.

In the olden days when you were an active professional working for others, a detailed and cohesive Curriculum Vitae was just the ticket to sell yourself as a qualified potential employee. Those days are gone. Thankfully!

You have developed your own business and are setting out to market your services to other professionals who are going to want to know what you’ve done and who you’ve done it for, before they invest in you.

Okay. You know me. I have some thoughts on how to do that!

Expertise

A great way to showcase your past experience without passing out a resume is to create a one-page profile that lists your areas of expertise.

BE SMART, dammit.

Downplay experience that has little to do with your current business. If you worked at a restaurant during college, that’s cool, but what has it got to do with what you’re doing now? Nada.

Emphasize accomplishments that illustrate the kind of professional abilities that will assist your clients. Also be careful in choosing what you list and how many you list. Better to have six relevant things listed than twenty random things.

Don’t make eyes gloss over looking at miles of text! Yadda yadda no-no! Be clear and CONCISE.

Think of your niche and your brand, and speak to that when deciding what to showcase as experience. Your goal – this is KEY, baby – your goal is to be seen as an expert. Choose your titles and word your summaries accordingly.

your portfolioPortfolio

You know what they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s true, isn’t it?

I mean, look around. With all the emails, newsletters, blogs, marketing copy, facebook posts, Linked-in articles etc etc etc… there’s a morass of typeface everywhere we look, even with the acronyms and emojis.

Memes are popular because a bit of text with an illustrating image is easy to digest. Ride that bandwagon. Provide samples of your work!

It could be a POSTER from a seminar you led.

It could be a SNAPSHOT from a presentation you gave.

In many cases you can grab an image, put it on your website and embed it with a LINK to a sample of the work you did for that client.

You can do something similar for a real world portfolio.  Put the client (or employer) logo, or other visual, on the left page.

On the right page, list the relevant work you did for them or provide a copy of the relevant article, blog, presentation, etc.

Lastly if you have any videos of speaking engagements, seminars, podcasts, etc., be sure to have them on your website as well. They help personalize you and market you as an EXPERT in your niche.

testimonialsTestimonials

The best kind of marketing is word-of-mouth. Right?

Even if you’re at the top of the search engines, chances are people are still going to look for reviews or testimonials before making a decision.

You’ll want to feature these on your website and in other marketing materials.

Of course, the hard part is asking for them. But if you know your clients, you’ll know how to best approach them. Each client might be different depending on the level of personal relationship you have. But. Wait.

DON’T ask them to provide you a testimonial. Simply TALK to them. When the time feels right, tell them you enjoyed working with them and ask them about their experience working with you. If you like what they said, ask for permission to use it. Voila.

If you have any questions, just give me a call at 815-478-3838 or send me an email at terry@vribiz.com.

Click Here for a FREE Consultation!

Check out more of the Planning Your Biz blog series…

Creating a Jaw-Dropping Presence (aka Branding)

Good to have your attention for a moment, because I wanted to talk about something really quite important. Vital for your bottom line, but more than that. Something that says something about you. Who you are, and what you stand for.

I’m Talking About a BRAND

By now, like any savvy entrepreneur setting up a vital and viable business that will assist and encourage and support the professionals you serve, you’ve figured out your niche. (Haven’t you? Don’t make me come over there!)

You’ve sweated and brainstormed and mind-mapped until you’re blue in the face, and you figure you’ve got it figured out. That area of the market that belongs to your ideal client. Good. Maybe. But there’s one more step. Got me?

Leap with me, from niche to branding. Niche is the market(s) you serve. Branding is how you sell yourself to the niche. How to speak to them. And, most of all, how THEY see YOU.

create a brand to differentiate yourself

There’s that famous quote, “If you build it, they will come.” Well, maybe in the movies. But not in business. They ain’t going anywhere if they don’t know where it is, what it’s about, and why they should care. It’s not on their radar. Or their GPS.

Listen, you’ve got to speak in a voice that your potential client WANTS to hear.

In all the cacophony of advertising and marketing and social media, you’ve got to say something that will catch their attention.

And when they pause–momentarily–to look, they’ve got to CLEARLY see who is behind that message.

It’s GOT to appeal to them so much that they are willing to take action. Pick up the phone. Fill out a form. Subscribe to your list. Buy what you’re selling. Get my drift? You have to convince them that what they’re looking for, is YOU!

How Do You Do THAT?

That’s the question you want to answer and it starts by looking at yourself. You want to sit down and think about what you’d like your clients to say about you. What would you REALLY like to be known for? Providing great content and service, sure. But what about feeling?

What experience does the client have when working with you and your company? That’s their perception of your Modus Operandi, and that’s what they are MOST going to remember, and PASS ALONG in recommendations to other professionals. Copy that?

Moreover, when you are clear on what you represent and how you’d like to be perceived, you’ve done something else that’s incredibly difficult but absolutely f-in necessary: differentiated yourself from your competition.

This is Us

Have you ever walked into a restaurant, been seated, and looked at the back of the menu to find pictures and an article about how they first started out?

Doesn’t it appeal to know something of the story of the people who started the place, their goals, their attitude? Of course, the food better be good, but that charm, that heritage, that TALE makes it all much more personal. And maybe if the meal was excellent you go away and tell others how wonderful it was: great service, what a lovely place to have dinner. When you pass along your EXPERIENCE to others, you’re helping that business thrive. And that’s what you need your clients to do for you!

It’s All In Your Head

Mindmap some more now. You know the needs and goals of your potential clients. Now think about the words that represent you, your character, your story. Hone them until you are really satisfied. These are the key words that define your brand.

Make your brand visual by developing a logo and a tagline that clearly says who you are. From that, create a mission statement and elevator pitch that tells professionals plainly and simply what you promise, what your purpose is, and why they should care about it. Make sure this brand message is consistent in everything you do.

You might need help to develop your marketing materials, website, articles, blogs, etc., to represent your awesome brand and you.

That’s what VRI can help you with. Pick up the phone or shoot me an email to chat!

Because you can have more than one niche. But you should only have one brand. One that is as magnificent as you.

Just give me a call at 815-478-3838 or send me an email at terry@vribiz.com. Problem solved!

Click Here for a FREE Consultation!

Check out more of the Planning Your Biz blog series…

5 Keys to Pricing Your Product

5 keys to pricing your product

In the myriad of important decisions that you make as you launch your business, one of the most crucial is going to be pricing.  How much will you charge for your service or product?

On the whys and math of it all…

The Value Your Clients See in What You Provide

You know your potential customer in and out, right? You’ve scoured all kinds of information on what they do, how they do it, and what they need in order to be successful.

You’re going to plant yourself in that space between what they currently have and where they want to go, and be the catalyst for them moving forward in some way. Your clients are probably pretty savvy people. They know what’s available. They might look around and make judgements on what they will purchase for services or products based on price, but chances are they are looking for quality and value.

If you’ve stepped into the right niche and promoted yourself successfully, they should land squarely in your lap (metaphorically speaking, of course!). The cash they need to spend to obtain this valuable thing may still be a factor in their decision. Value-based pricing considers the value of the service or product to the customer.

The Cost of Providing Your Product or Service

It’s not rocket science. Whatever it costs you to provide a product or a service needs to be considered in setting prices. Not only do you need to pay for the inventory or wages that go into supplying that thing you do, but you need to make a profit. You need cash flow.  That means money coming in as well as going out.

You need more inventory. You need to invest in the business and have money for expansion. Price yourself too low and you may find yourself in deep doo-doo. Too high, and you might lose some potential clients. Cost-plus pricing means you add a percentage to the real cost of the item, this mark-up is meant to cover the cost of purchasing your inventory or providing a specific service.

what your competitors are charging

What Your Competitors are Charging

It’s important to investigate what prices your competitors have set for similar services or products. While setting your prices lower than theirs might seem an obvious solution, don’t throw caution to the wind.

Caution? What does that look like?

Too low, and your revenue may not cover your costs. There’s also the issue that, funnily enough, although people may make decisions based on price, they may also perceive lower-priced items as having less value.

One way to deal with this “looking for a deal” mentality is to use pricing tactics: Increase the “value” of the higher priced thing by offering “more.” Give discounts to repeat customers, for example. Or toss in something else – an added service or additional benefit that adds to the value of the thing they wish to purchase.

Do ya hear me? VALUE ADDED – it’s the SMART way to exceed expectations!

Covering Your Bottom Line

In calculating how much to charge, you need to consider all your costs. If, for example, you are selling a bag of oranges, it’s not just how much you spent on obtaining those oranges. You need to cover the cost of shipping, the wages of those who unload the trucks and place the oranges in the store for sale, utilities, rent, mortgage, benefits… the list goes on. Include depreciation. Scrap factor. Taxes. What is your break-even? You need to make sure that this is covered month to month.

Whew! Yes, even selling oranges sounds complicated, but it doesn’t have to be.

Revisit Pricing Regularly.

You need to review all the above factors on a regular basis to ensure you are keeping up with the marketplace while managing business finances effectively. The cost of doing business can change in the blink of an eye. You want to watch your competition like a hawk. As you go forward and you get to know your clients better you’ll want to stay alert to their needs too.

VRI is here to help put all of these systems into place so you always know what’s going on as you grow!

Just give me a call at 815-478-3838 or send me an email at terry@vribiz.com. Problem solved!

Click Here for a FREE Consultation!

Check out more of the Planning Your Biz blog series…

The Needs of the Niche

needs of your niche

“The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one,” they said on Star Trek. But they weren’t trying to sell something in a crowded marketplace full of noise, clutter and color!

The only way to find your mark is to stand out from the crowd. March to a different drummer. Wear purple or my favorite color, red.

Many entrepreneurs fear establishing a niche.  They worry they will be boxed in and lose the opportunity to reach a larger market. But, as strange as it might seem, when you define your niche you actually have more visibility in a crowded market. Determine your niche and you become the specialist, the expert, and that slays the competition.

Enter the dragon slayer…

Who is Your Target Market?

That’s a majorly-huge question. Difficult to answer. You can’t be everything to everyone.

You have to focus on a need and provide a solution for that need. Too general, and you’ll lose the interest of the market, or overwork yourself. Too small, and you might not gain enough market share to keep business afloat.

That’s right… you gotta cover your ass no matter what you decide on.

Let’s assume you’ve already decided who your typical clients are going to be. Where they live, what they earn, what they need. That means stepping into your client’s shoes and seeing the world from their perspective. Perhaps you already have a few clients. Can you see what issues they face and then focus on helping them resolve one of those problems?

Put those customer shoes on now… are they soft and comfy? Dress type? Casual? C’mon. Ya gotta know these things!

who are your competitors

Who Are Your Competitors?

It should be easy enough to figure out who is offering a similar service or product. What do they offer and how do they offer it. Is there an aspect of their service that is lacking? Can you step in and zero in on that niche? Can you be that one place clients can go to get that special something they really would like to have?

You could both make ice cream, but maybe yours is the one that comes with a special spoon.

When you know what your target market is, then you can spend your marketing dollars wisely and well. If you’re a generalist (“I sell cars”), then no one will find you. If you are specific (“I make custom Rolls for discerning clientele”) you have a much better chance of actually grabbing ahold of market share.

Get it? Got it? Good!

What Will It Be?

A defined niche then becomes the catalyst for web design and content, marketing materials, advertisements, blogs, forums, and other social media. You’ll find the keywords that will enhance your presence on the web. You’ll design your website to direct visitors to your product or service. As you grow and learn more about those who are buying from you, you’ll be able to come up with additional offerings that fit your niche.

Not only that, if you define a niche and create a business around it, you could become a trend-setter, baby!

But most importantly, when you determine your niche you set yourself up for success. There will be no confusion over your goals, and your clients will know what to expect from you. And they will refer others to you because they know what you offer and trust you to follow through.

Elevator Pitch

It’s handy to boil everything about your niche into one simple statement that sums it all up. Short, easy to remember, and compelling. Use this to promote your product or service. Have it on your website, business cards, and introduce yourself with this niche statement.

Voila…

This is [your name] ______________. I help companies to ____________ by ___________ so they can [result/outcome] ____________.

Smart Marketing

When you are marketing to a niche, it’s important to know everything you can about your prospective client so you can reach out to them in the most effective way. You really want to state their need and then emphasize how you will solve that issue for them.

You may also want to consider how you spend your advertising dollars. Social networking is all the rage these days but that doesn’t mean that you should necessarily use every platform available. You’ll want to be strategic.  Consider who you are trying to reach and place yourself where they will be able to see you clearly in the mass of other offerings.

Lesson? Don’t always follow the pack!

If you need help zeroing in on a target market and developing marketing strategies to reach them, VRI is here to help.

Just give me a call at 815-478-3838 or send me an email at terry@vribiz.com. Problem solved!

Click Here for a FREE Consultation!

Check out more of the Planning Your Biz blog series…