All posts in October 2007

  • Ghosts, Goblins, and Rejections-How to Get Over your Entrepreneurial Fears

    I remember being terrified of Halloween when I was very young. I didn’t care if it was my cousin in a stupid gorilla mask. It was the mask that scared me!  I couldn’t see beyond the surface. However as I got a little older, I started enjoying the holiday. I looked forward to dressing up as a princess or a princess bride (what else was there?). I imagined the hordes of candy my sister and I would collect before it was ever in our little pumpkin shaped baskets. My father joked that only America could make a holiday out of begging children, but I didn’t care. The same holiday that had caused me so much agony just a few years ago had turned into one of my favorite days of the year. I could now see beyond the gorilla mask. Non-entrepreneurs are often like very young children-they are scared by the surface look of things. They can’t begin to imagine what thrill or treats await them. They don’t dare venture outside the door and into the ghoulish gates of their neighbors. They are rather content with a piece or two of the candy their siblings share with them. They tell…

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  • What’s Abraham Lincoln Got To Do With Marketing?

    Abraham Lincoln said "If I had six hours to chop down a tree, I would spend the first four sharpening the ax." That’s also the key to smart small business marketing! You can do absolutely everything to attract attention, but if what you are attracting attention to is not worth people’s time and money-the marketing won’t matter. So here are three tips to make sure your marketing ax stays sharp! 1) Provide the RIGHT Value- Provide something of value and people will be attracted to it. It doesn’t have to be valuable to everyone (and practically speaking it can’t be). Your service has to provide the RIGHT value to the RIGHT people. And by right value, I mean it has to matter to your clients. For example, you can make yourself available to clients on holidays. This may work well if you clients need constant support, but it may not matter if your clients don’t work on holidays! A bank will not care if you are available on Christmas-they are closed. On the other hand, a business owner working from home may value that aspect a lot. What do your clients consider valuable? 2) Have a Kick-Butt Platform– What do…

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  • Around the Blog World…

    Reality vs. Theory in a high growth, bootstrapping business – Pam Slim looks at what becomes of high minded youthful ideals when reality comes to play. Teaching Sells (FREE REPORT) – Tony Clark of Success from the nest and Copyblogger Brian Clark teamed up to provide this free report on how to ignore Google and still make a profit online. Must read for any independent service professional! Eye Contact – Kavit Haria discusses the powers of making eye contact. Halloween Promotion Ideas to Generate Publicity – The Publicity Hound shows you how to use Halloween to promote your business! A Definition of Leadership– Jay Hargis presents us with a succinct but touching definition of a leader. Learn about Customer Focus from Big Business– Stefan reminds us to always focus on our clients! Want your Own Crystal Ball? – Heather Juma talks openly about her own personal vision for her business-empowering women to create six figure businesses. Heather is my kind of gal!

  • 3 Signs of a Savvy Entrepreneur

    In my line of work, I meet lots of entrepreneurs and business owners. Some are very successful, and others are still getting there. I can always spot a savvy entrepreneur thanks to these three signs. 1) They are proud of what they do …and it shows- Savvy entrepreneurs never cover their mouth and mumble when someone asks "What do you do?" Instead, they smile real big and tell them! They always use their business name in their email signatures and jump at the chance of sharing their expertise. They realize that providing a service that is valuable to people is not enough-you have to market that service! 2) They are focused-Even serial entrepreneurs share this characteristic. Savvy entrepreneurs take one project at a time and carry it out to its full extent. They are focused on their business and are willing to give it their 100%. They don’t scatter their efforts. They give their full attention to whatever project is on hand. 3) They are students-The best entrepreneurs are also constant students. They love learning! They shun the know-it-all attitude and embrace learning as a way of life. I, myself, continue to take classes, hire coaches, and participate in seminars…

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  • 5 Tips to Use Google Search Like a Pro

    1) Use quotations. When looking for an explicit phrase, put it in quotations. Instead of typing small business marketing, try enclosing the phrase within double quotes. Example- "Small Business Marketing"  2) Search a Specific Site:  Want to search a particular site for a phrase but the site doesn’t have a built-in search box? You can use Google by simply typing in "site:somesite.com." Example: "how to manage a business" site:www.AfterTheLaunch.com  3) Searching Specific Document Types: Looking for just images or power point presentations? Anytime you are searching for a specific document type, use "filetype:" to modify your search results. Example: "small business marketing" filetype:ppt 4) Check Local Time– To check the local time of a city, simple type in time in x city Example: Time in London 5) Search Patents- Have an idea for an invention but no clue if someone already had it first? Search Google Patents.

  • 5 Things I Bet You Didn’t Know About Email Marketing

      Email marketing used to be a marketer’s dream, but thanks to spammers and viagra ads, click through rates are at an all time low. But don’t despair if your business uses newsletters or eZines to get information across to your clients. Here are five tips to keep in mind when sending emails. 1) In that initial moment, when one decides whether to hit "open" or "delete," the two largest components are 1) your subject line and 2) the "from" address. It is the first thing people notice and if it reads like spam-they will spam it. So keep your subject line short and use the recipient’s name whenever possible. The "from" address should always show your name. If you ever receive an email from After The Launch-it will be from me, "Shama Hyder." 2) Use alt-text tags to improve clickthroughs for recipients who have HTML images automatically disabled. Gmail is infamous for this! Provide as much description as you can about the services-this will encourage a higher click through rate. 3) Open rates are HIGHEST on Monday and go down from there. They peak back up slightly on Saturday. Saturday emails usually work best if you are offering "weekend…

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  • 5 Steps to Becoming a Client Magnet

    Every noticed how some coaches and consultants naturally have a full client roster, while other stumble around trying to find their first client? It happens all the time, and it has very little to do with luck. Here are five steps to becoming a client magnet and starting that wait list of your own. 1) Create a Strong Platform– This is the very first step to becoming a client magnet, and it involves creating a strong platform for yourself. There are thousands of coaches and consultants out there-what makes you different? Creating a strong platform is about finding what makes you different  from everyone else and then conveying that with enthusiasm to the world. The stronger your platform, the stronger your "magnetic" attraction power. 2) Be a Connector- If you can serve as a connector for others, you (and your services!) will be valued. Know someone who needs an accountant? Know a good accountant looking for new business? Connect them! The best marketers are also the best connectors. They are the "go-to" people for information and resources. If you can establish yourself as a connector, you can build a very credible reputation through word of mouth. 3) Hone your Listening…

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  • Dear Shama…How do I start a Virtual Assistant business?

    Dear Shama, I was an administrative assistant for over 15 years, and now I am ready to start my own business-at least I think I am. I want to start a virtual assistant business but I am not sure exactly how to go about doing so. What do I really need to start such a business and how do I market myself? -Lost Virtual Assistant in Plano, Texas Dear Lost Virtual Assistant, I don’t think you are lost at all! I think you have chosen a great way to take your experiences and turn them into something more profitable. Just the other day someone asked me-What is Secretarial Services? A virtual assistant business would be a great example of such a service. Let’s break your question down into parts. First part-How do you start? Well, you already seem to have set an intention to do so which is really the first step. Now, you have to focus on who you want to work with? There is a great need for Virtual Assistants in many fields, and you can choose whether you want to be a generalist of specialist. A generalist virtual assistant can work on a variety of projects, just…

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  • How to Solve Ethical Dilemmas in Business

    Recently I made a big purchase on eBay, only to receive fake goods. I contacted the seller, and the seller has offered a full refund but continues to protest that his products are real. A couple of observations here- 1) His auction page states a no return policy. If the goods are indeed "real" then why bother offering me a refund? 2) I found many people complaining about the same seller on various discussion boards. There are two dilemmas in this situation. One is mine as a consumer-Do I accept the refund and say nothing more? or Do I go through the appropriate channels and report this seller so others can be forewarned? He also has a dilemma-Does he keep selling the products that he now KNOWS to be fake? (I had them appraised by an expert) or Does he continue to leverage his power seller status to fool people? My intention with this post is not to solve either of these dilemmas, but simply to focus on the process of solving ethical dilemmas in business. 1) Figure Out your Intention- This is really the first step in solving any conflict (internal or external). What do you hope to achieve…

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  • Blog Action Day- 3 Simple Business Rituals to Save the Environment

    Today is Blog Action Day. Every year one topic is chosen and bloggers around the world are invited to weigh in. This year’s topic is the environment and I want to share with you three simple ways you can help the environment through your daily business rituals! 1) Change those Margins!– Did you know that just by changing your standard margins by half an inch-you can save thousands of trees? There is a grassroots campaign going on right now to convince Microsoft to change their default margins. You can do your share by simply changing your default margins. Not only will your business save paper-you will help the environment! (If you don’t know how to change your margins-go here.) 2) Recycle your Printer Cartridges– Want to help the environment AND feed the poor? Give your printer cartridges to Food for the Poor. They collect used printer cartridges and deliver them to a recycler. The funds they raise helps to feed the poor. Talk about great karma for your business! 3) Plant a Tree- Want to help the environment AND earn free marketing? Offer to plant a tree at a local school or at a home for the elderly. Then write…

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  • How to Publicize a Seminar

    Public speaking is a great way to obtain new clients and further establish your expertise as a service professional. You can go about this in two ways. First, you can speak at meetings or events hosted by others. Second, you can host a seminar yourself. If you choose to do the latter, here are five ways how to publicize a seminar. 1) Do a Webinar!- If you really want to do a seminar, but find yourself struggling with the logistics (location, finding the right time, etc.), go with a webinar instead. Your participants can call in, listen to you deliver the seminar, and follow along with your slides. An added bonus to hosting a webinar is that you can save it as a podcast and let even more people listen to it later. 2) Partner Up- Publicize your seminar through businesses that offer services complimentary to yours. For example, if you are hosting a seminar in order to show people how to do their own taxes, you can partner with a local law firm to advertise it. In turn, you can offer to advertise their services at your seminar by placing their banner at the back of the room or…

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  • How to handle NO and other articles…

    The Coaching Virtual Assistant shares How to Overcome the Top Five Objections of a client here. Jay Hargis at HRCleanUP shares Fun Friday facts. Heather Juma at Girls Who Network write- Life Can be Risky! Stefan Töpfer at The Small Business Blog proclaims Work-Life Balance is Shifting.