Saturday, April 27, 2013

How to Have a Healthy Life

One of the best things I love about my business is meeting new people and hearing their stories.  Lately I have been so inspired by my new "virtual" acquaintances that I was drawn to share.  As busy moms and business owners it seems like everyone I know is leading a crazy busy lifestyle and sometimes, among all the work, family, life juggling we forget that a healthy life also means a happy life.

So this week I asked my new friend Bess Blanco to share some of her insights on why she started her blog, "The Intentional Lifestyle" along with some tips and advice about running a business.  Here is what Bess had to say:

What Inspired You to Start "The Intentional Lifestyle"?
"I began The Intentional Lifestyle blog after I embarked on my own healthy lifestyle change with my own family of six.  I discovered as I began to shop & cook healthier for my family, that the help I needed was not to be found - at least not in one place.  I also couldn't find the resources I needed for my own situation - ideas that would work for picky eaters, a tight budget & realistic methods for a busy family.  So I began to hunt, gather, research and apply - and viola!  The Intentional Lifestyle was born!"

Tell us about your Biggest Challenge you faced in your business?
"Having enough TIME - time to work on the business, time to be mom and housewife and all that comes with that, time to serve others, time to goof off!   It has truly been my biggest challenge to find a realistic balance between it all - a challenge that I face and MEET everyday!"

If you could share one bit of advice, what would it be?
Bess Blanco
"Never, ever, ever, give up!'
I once won an award that was titled, "Miss Bounce-back-ability" because of my stubborn ability to "never give up" and come back from challenges!  Having a stubborn spirit in "keeping at it" even in the hard times will take you to success!

Are you looking to learn more about leading a healthy lifestyle?  Bess has recently published a book called, "Fresh Start for Health",  you can also find great recipes, articles, learn more about her and read the blog on the website.

Do you know a great Leading Mom in Business?  Tell us!  We would love to hear from you.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Savvy Moms Make it Happen

Startupnation's Leading Moms in Business.

In honor of Leading Moms in Business and Startupnation's Americas top mom contest, we are featuring businesses on our Facebook Business Page.  There are some really neat businesses out there run by amazing Moms!

Here are a few we highlighted this week:
  • Black Pearl Bakery
    Healthy, homemade dog treats made in the U.S.A.  All treats are handmade from start to finish.  All human-grade ingredients with only natural preservatives.  We offer cookies, celebration cakes, "mutt"-fins, and much more!
  • Ink'd Content
    Ink'd Content provides content marketing services, helping to develop one of the most important aspects of a marketing strategy for any business -- after all, "content is king."
  • iBetterAccessorize offers couture hair accessory supplies at wholesale prices. We have a low minimum of $5 for regular orders and the majority of the items are sold by the piece, not by the dozen. We provide tutorials, written by our customers, 10% rewards on purchases and recently raised over $440 for Wigs for Kid
  • Women's Elevation Magazine
    WE Magazine looks to promote, inspire, and elevate the mind, body, and spirit of women.
  • Family Focus Blog
    Family Focus Blog reports on parenting tips, family fun activities, eco tips, family food, family travel, decor, discounts, and giveaways.
  • VirtuallyNSync
    VirtuallyNSync, LLC was birthed to help those who are desiring to work at home find legit job listings and/or work opportunities that fit their lifestyles.
  • DWD Designs Design business although not limited to! Holiday decorating is my passion, as well as event decorating, and public speaking on design!
  • Party Plan Companies
    The place to search for direct sales companies, home based business opportunities, cost effective advertising, and party plan consultants near you.
  • Synergy Communications, LLC
    At Synergy Communications, we believe that our client's reputation is EVERYTHING!  Superior service is personalized to meet each client's needs and wants.
  • Angela Brooks
    Angela Brooks is a mental health nurse educator who spent the last 22 years working in a state funded mental hospital. She is the author of “The Nurses Voice” who exposes raw truth as a nurse. She is transitioning from nursing to one of the top positions in a health company changing life’s one oil at a time.
  • Jungle Gym Cafe The Jungle Gym & Cafe is a unique 8000 square foot hybrid of a fitness center, indoor playground, cafe, birthday party center and medical spa. 

If you know of a great business that we should feature, let us know!  Better yet, what is your favorite business?

Friday, April 12, 2013

3 Risks Worth Taking In Your Business

Yes, it may be a cliché, but I believe it really is true, change maybe scary at times but more often than not, it is totally worth it.  I was recently reminded of this just this week when I completely stepped out of my comfort zone, took a risk and made a change.

What did I do?  Well, I cut my hair.  Not just trimmed, not lightly shaped, but cut cut cut.  I had a good six inches cut off.  There I was, talking to my hair dresser, telling her I needed a change.  We agreed, a shorter style…not too short, but fun and easy.  And I will tell you, when she started snipping, I started to panic a little bit.  But I trusted her and I really did want something different.

So now instead of blonde, it’s dark brown.  Instead of long, it is now pretty darn short.  And you know what?  I love it.  Everyone that knows me loves it.  The change, and the risk, really was worth it.

So what did cutting my hair teach me? It taught me how to take a risk, push through the panic, and enjoy the rewards.  So here are my top three risks that I took and that I believe will change your business:

Risk #1. Jump into Social Media.  
If you’ve been hesitant to engage on social media, now is the time. Start slow, and if you want, pick just one to get started with. Get a Facebook business page, create a company profile on LinkedIn, update your website, get a twitter handle.  Just start.  I promise you will not regret it.

Social Media should be part of your overall strategic marketing plane for your business.  It may not replace all your marketing but it is a great wway to build and reinforce ongoing relationships with your clients and prospects.

Risk #2. Invest in yourself.
This does not necessarily mean spending money, but can if what you need to accomplish warrants it.  This means taking the time you need to and invest in your own growth.  Read books, blogs, newsletters, watch podcasts attend Webinars/teleseminars.  Mark time on your calendar specifically to invest in yourself and gain the knowledge you need to succeed and take your business to the next level.

One thing I really have found extremely helpful was to work with an executive coach.  Actually, I worked with two, and yes sometimes both at the same time, but on different things. It changed my mindset and my business.  So I highly recommend finding a Mentor or Coach.  Ask someone you admire for advice.  Work with them informally or formally.  It could be as simple as having lunch once a month to a very detailed plan.

Risk #3. Don’t do it all yourself.  Delegate.
In my small business several of my everyday tasks are regularly delegated to virtual assistants around the US.  I love it because it allows us to give them a lot of flexibility.

When you consider delegating, it is important to visualize specifically what the virtual assistant can execute for you in relation to the cost it would be if you did it yourself.  I like to think of my hourly rate versus there hourly rate.  I calculated this by taking my salary and divided by 2080 (the number of working hours in a year, less vacation, etc). This number crunching exercise should also probably need to include the added cost elements associated with full-time or even part-time employees, the benefits, pensions, insurance costs, productivity and so on.

So there you have it - my top three risks, not counting the hair cut, that helped to change my business.  Sometimes taking a risk and trying something new is fun, and who wouldn't enjoy a bit of fun in their business?

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Are You Making LinkedIn Mistakes?

Do you have a targeted strategy in how you handle your LinkedIn profile?  

Keeping up on everything is hard.  I recently took a look at my own LinkedIn profile, and while it had only been a couple of months, it already needed some updating.  I can only imagine how many small
business owners tend to pass up this social media platform because of their busy schedules.  But what I've realized is this really can be an error in judgement since LinkedIn can be a great way to build your online presence, network with others and discover potential prospects and opportunities.  Just in a matter of days of updating my own profile, I began receiving new visits to my page, new endorsements and new invitations.  Who knew what else I was missing?

LinkedIn really is a great way to network, and like me, even if you do have a LinkedIn presence, do you keep it up to date?  Here's some homework:  Take a look at your current profile right now.  How current is the photo?  When was the last time you updated your skills?  I am regularly surprised to see how many profile pictures are low-quality photos that were just pulled up from their desktop and just uploaded.  For me, I use the same photo of myself everywhere.  LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, About.Me, all have the same photo. Which, I had professionally taken.  Not only is it my favorite picture of myself, but it was not that expense to have done.  (Unfortunately my hair has now completely changed so I need a new one, but that's another story...guess I need an update :)

Your photo is your first impression with Social Media, and your profile on LinkedIn is no exception.  This is a great opportunity to make sure your photo is expertly edited and uploaded to your profile.  You can easily outsource or delegate this job to an online manager and you certainly do not need to take the time yourself.   Any good online manager or virtual assistant should be able to do this for you within an hour or so.  Even I am learning to delegate more, and once you get the hang of it, it really is great.  I am so much more productive with my time.

Back to photos, as I mentioned before, one benefit of a great photo is you can then use it everywhere.  Consistently using the same one across all your social media will help you become more recognizable and builds your brand.  Then as you attend networking events, chat or comment in online groups, etc people will begin to feel familiar with you and develop a trusted connection.  Imagine when a potentially prosperous contact reaches out to you, all because of your LinkedIn profile.

Have you been deprived of exposure lately just because you have less than a complete profile?  What will you do?

When you are really ready to maximize LinkedIn, update your profile to reflect all your current experience.  Again this is something you can easily delegate and any good virtual assistant or online manager can help.  Give them a copy of your resume and let them take a stab at it.  It doesn't have to be perfect, and sometimes someone else's perspective can be really beneficial.  Then you can take a look at it yourself and make personal edit adding information relevant to your industry.

Don’t hesitate to promote your individual accomplishments and remember that your current updates posted will be shared and read within the networks you belong.  I link a lot of my social media posting together, so when I post in Twitter it ties to my Facebook and/or LinkedIn.  I do try to keep LinkedIn more business related and relevant.

In essence, Linked in could easily be one of several sites that you delegate the upkeep to a virtual assistant or online manager. They can easily keep it updated for you  and send to you for review before they post on your behalf.  Monitoring your social media, including LinkedIn, your blog, website, Facebook Business page, Twitter, etc. and keeping them current, fresh and relevant, you will build your online presence and attract new leads and prospects to your business.  And who wouldn't want that?

I'd love to hear your thoughts on LinkedIn.  It would be great to connect!