Getting Where You’re Going with Goal Setting: How and Why to Set Your Business Goals

“A goal properly set is half way reached.” –Abraham Lincoln


So often entrepreneurs—even seasoned ones–start their marketing initiatives backwards. Often, when asked to identify their marketing goals, small business owners will say something along the lines of, I want to start using Twitter. Or they’ll say, I want more customers. Neither of these are in fact goals, begging the questions what makes a goal a goal, and why do you need to set some?

Why you need goals

First, why is it important to set goals? Many small businesses very often don’t take the time to set goals. Yet, large corporations live and die by them.  Here are a few of the top reasons for taking the time to set your goals for the year, and beyond:

  • Clarity: To get where you want to go, you first need to know where you want to go. Really know.
  • Focus: As an entrepreneur there are lots of responsibilities pulling at you. But to truly accomplish anything in business requires focus. Not everything you do is equally important. Setting goals keeps you focused on what you set out to achieve.
  • Self confidence: Setting and reaching goals is extremely satisfying and a real confidence boost, enabling you to set and achieve even greater goals as you progress.
  • Results: It’s simple, people who write their goals down, are far more likely to accomplish them. Note, the operative words are write it down. Writing it down commits you to the goal in a way that simply thinking about it doesn’t.

What is a goal? And what isn’t?

What is a goal, and what isn’t? This is a good place to start in identifying your own business goals. A goal is something that you want to achieve, someplace you want to end up, but that alone doesn’t make it a goal. There are distinctions after all between wishes, dreams and goals. Goals have a certain set of criteria that make them goals. An easy way to discern if a goal is in fact a goal is to ask yourself if it’s SMART, as in specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound. SMART goal setting is a tried and true approach to setting and accomplishing your goals, and can be the difference between spinning your wheels, and having the business you dreamed of.


  • Specific. Goals are not vague, as in I want to more customers. They’re specific as in I want ten new customers by January 1. You can make this goal even more specific, I want ten new retainer clients by January 1. The more specific the better.
  • Measurable. A goal isn’t a goal unless it’s measurable. In other words, what does success look like? A measurable goal will usually answer, how much? When? How do you know when you’ve reached it?
  • Attainable. Goals should stretch you, but they should not be unrealistic. This doesn’t mean think small. On the contrary, think big, but keep it steeped in reality. What is realistic? That’s something that you need to answer for yourself. What’s realistic for you, may be unrealistic for another and vice versa. Ask yourself, how can this goal be accomplished? It doesn’t have to be easy, but it should be possible within reason. For instance the goal of I want to lose 40 pounds by next week may not be a realistic.
  • Relevant. Your goal should be relevant, meaning it represents an objective that the you are willing and able to work towards. When thinking about your goal, ask yourself, does this seem worthwhile? Being relevant also means that the goal represents the current environment around you. Relevant business goals are based on realities of the business climate. You may desire to double revenue, but if a recession is looming and 5 new competitors opened in your market, then your goals aren’t relevant to the realities of the market.
  • Time bound. Finally, your goal needs to be tied to a calendar. In other words, by when will you accomplish your goal? Increase business this year, isn’t a SMART goal. Increase business by 50% by December 2012 is.

Of course, setting your goals is just the first step in accomplishing your goals, albeit a very important first step. Once you write your goals down, next you’ll want to create an action plan, and finally, you’ll then need to take action.

Additional resources:

Check out these videos and sites to increase your knowledge, and to get you excited about goal setting.

Video: How to follow through / persist with your Goals? – Tony Robbins

Video: Formula for Setting Goals — Zig Ziglar

Site: Brian Tracy International —  a company specializing in the training and development of individuals and organizations.

Social Media Myths and Facts

Counter to popular opinion, “engaging in the conversation” (i.e. tweeting, commenting on blogs and posting status updates) on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter isn’t the best way to gain exposure through social media. Posting links to interesting content is. So says social media expert and author Dan Zarella. According to him, there’s a positive correlation between Tweeting lots of links and having many followers.  In his book,  Zarrella’s Hierarchy of Contagiousness: The Science, Design, and Engineering of Contagious Ideas, Mr Zarella debunks common myths around what gets you noticed on social media. Here are just a few of the ideas from his book to keep in mind as you market your business through social media.

Getting People to Share Your Content
Posting links to interesting content that is passed from reader to reader (or viewer to viewer, if it’s a video) is an excellent way of gaining exposure—the first step in generating new leads. But publishing your content and posting links is only half the story, the second part requires that your audience share your content with their contacts.

Common sense would lead one to believe that if the content is good enough it will be shared. Yet, not all good content gets read, and often sub par content goes viral. Here from  Dan Zarella’s Hub Spot webinar, some interesting ideas to help your content spread.

  • Don’t talk about yourself. Just like in real life, people aren’t that interested in hearing other people talk about themselves online either. And as the webinar shows, the data bears this out, “Re-Tweets” have less self-reference than content that isn’t “Re-Tweeted.”
  • Keep it readable. Online you need to mind your reading level. Meaning is your writing more easily understood by a PhD or a fifth grader? While we all like to sound smart—and no doubt you are an expert in your field, the fact is content written at a lower reading level is shared more. This doesn’t mean you have to dumb down your content, it just means you need to keep it simple by using clean sentence structures, and language. Basically, a fifth grader should be able to read it.
  • Use more verbs and nouns. This relates to the tip above. Flowery adjectives just don’t go over that well online. Direct verbs and nouns get the job done in terms of getting people to share your content.
  • Include calls to action. Online it’s important to tell people what to do. If you want someone to share your content, you’re best of telling them to. In fact, Mr Zarella’s research shows that content that says “Please Re Tweet” gets shared 4 times more than content that  doesn’t include the popular call to action. Interestingly, “Please Re Tweet” gets shared 3 x more than content that says “Please RT.”

And ending on a positive note, you’ll be pleased to know that positive content is shared far more often than negative content. So please, do remember to be positive when sharing yourself with the world. And, of course, please do share this post with others.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and solo practitioners succeed with technology.

How to Get Found Online as a Local Business

As you can probably guess most people these days turn to the Internet to find services and information about businesses in their local areas. In fact, 97% of consumers search for local businesses online, which is why businesses compete for the top spots in the search engines. Follow these steps below to gain traction in the search engines, and to help people to find you online.

Important first steps
Before beginning to list yourself in the local directories, it’s useful to understand that the local search space is fragmented, you’ll likely want to list your business on several directories and search engines, and you’ll need to do that one at a time. Remember, free business listings are free and therefore mostly D.I.Y. There’s not a huge customer support component to local search, your better off reading articles and user forums for advice on how to handle particular issues that may come up. Whatever hiccups you experience, someone else has likely experienced it too, and have sought and received advice online, so that you too can learn from their experiences.

A Couple Tips as You Go Down the Local Search Road

  • Keep all your usernames and passwords in one place. It’s basic, but so often a missing username or password wastes valuable time, or even derails an online marketing effort entirely. Keep all your usernames and passwords where you can easily access them. Your usernames and passwords are the keys to the kingdom.
  • Have all your information ready. On the most basic level, you want your business name, address and phone number listed (also known as N.A.P). Once you put this information out onto the internet, changing it can be difficult, depending on what sites pick it up. Once it appears on sites other than your own, you lose some control as far as going back and changing it. You may also consider enhancing your listings with business hours, payment types, specialties, images, videos and special offers. Have all of these information at the ready to cut down on the time involved with listing your business.
  • Keep information consistent. You’ll likely list on multiple directories, and you’ll want to be sure your information is consistent across all of them. If you need to update information, make sure you update all of your listings to avoid creating confusion for customers. As mentioned above, keep a list of all the directories you list on.

Google Maps 101
A great starting point for any business that hasn’t begun to optimize for search engines yet, is Google Maps and Google Places for business — a free local platform from Google that puts you where people are looking for you. If you’ve been in business for a while, you may already be listed in Google Places, in which case you’ll want to claim your listing, and also enhance it.

In addition to Google, you probably will also want to list your business on Yahoo Local Search as well as Bing. A handy resource for small businesses to claim and enhance their local listings is GetListed. In addition to being able to look up how your business appears on the major search engines, you can also sift through their extensive local search resource center  for advice on how to optimize for local search.

In addition to listing your business in the local sections of the search engines, you’ll probably want to list your business in other popular directories like Yelp, Yellow Pages (, and CitySearch. There are hundreds of directories you can list your business on for free depending on how much time you have. If you only have enough time to list yourself in a few of them, and you’d like to know which ones you should be in, try Goggling your competition (i.e. gardeners, yoga studios, karate classes, etc. + zip code), and see what directories they are listed in. Then you know you probably should be there too.

For a more comprehensive list, check out Hub Spot’s post on the topic: The Ultimate List: 50 Local Business Directories. Remember when you list in directories, the content you put up there belongs to the directory, not you. Sometimes directories come and go, if a directory goes out of business, your listing will disappear.

Seed N.A.P
N.A.P stands for name, address and phone. Some list management  services exist higher up in the directory ecosystem than others. LocalEze, Acxiom, and InfoGROUP provide data to nearly every directory, search engine and check in service online. The search engines, pull information from these data sources as well as from the information that you enter directly into their databases, so it’s important to be listed with these three.

Following these steps, you’ll taking a huge step toward building (and managing) your online presence, making it easier for people who need your services to find you.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping small business’s simplify operations and administrative tasks with technology. Our online appointment scheduling tool and online invoicing tools give business owners and managers back valuable time.

Choosing a Web Host

One of the most seemingly complicated decisions that small business owners need to make is choosing the best web hosting service. With so many offering hosting for under $100 a year, choosing the right one can be a confusing task. There are also numerous, some bogus, hosting directories that claim to have the nation’s top 10 hosting providers, making deciding between what appears to be Greek apples to Greek apples daunting. Instead, you only need to arm yourself with some common sense. These tips will help you in choosing a web hosting provider that will effectively support you:

  • Ask around. Like good doctors, web hosting companies are hard to come by unless you get a solid referral from a trusted friend. Since there are many and you do not need a license to practice you can save a lot of time and possibly frustration by asking your friends, colleagues and web developers you know.
  • First contact. How was your first contact with this host? Did you like their website? Did they offer a live chat? Did you call the number and did someone answer? Like many companies, web hosts are not created equally and not all put an effort in overall customer satisfaction. If the first contact wasn’t to your satisfaction then likely you won’t enjoy the service as well.
  • Good support. Features like free email accounts, pre-installed software, free shopping cart software are all niceties but what happens when something goes wrong and your web developer cannot be found, will your web host be able to support you? Not that they should support you for free, but is there someone on their end that you can count on to help out in the event of an emergency and what are the terms of that support? Having this is an added bonus to whoever you host with.
  • Who are their clientele? In the under $100 per year web hosting world, you are not acquiring your own computer that will host your website. You will be housed in a folder of a server often containing hundreds of other websites. On one hand it is reassuring to know that they have many hundreds of other customers so that, hopefully, they will be in business for years to come. On the down side, should one of those websites be hacked, the entire ship or server will go down, along with your website.  Finding out, if you can, what their policies are in the event of a common hacker attack known as a “SQL injection” will clue you in to how much they care about what their customers are doing and how they’re doing it.

If you outgrow a shared hosted solution, what the under-$100 per year hosting plans typically are, then your next choices are a virtual private server (VPS) which is essential a bullet proof capsule inside of a web server along with other such capsules. Even if one capsule is brought down by a hacker, you and the others won’t be affected.

The good news is, a good host should be somewhat invisible. After you upload your site to a server, interacting with the host isn’t something you will be doing unless you’re a programmer yourself or someone has hacked into your server–leaving you to focus on the other important aspects of running your business.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping small business’s simplify operations and administrative tasks. Our online appointment scheduling tool and online invoicing tools give business owners and managers back valuable time.

Top Five Facebook Marketing Mistakes that Small Businesses Make

As you no doubt know by now, your customers are on Facebook. The social network boasts more than 750 million active users, combined they spend over 700 billion minutes per month on site. Is it any wonder Facebook has become a choice marketing tool for so many small businesses? According to the site, it contains over 900 million objects that people interact with (pages, groups, events and community pages), and the average user is connected to 80 community pages, groups and events.

More than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) are shared each month!

Yet, still so many businesses, while on Facebook, don’t truly know how to harness it, and even further, many are struggling to master the basics. Here a round up from around the web, some of the more common Facebook marketing mistakes.

  1. Not educating yourself. Perhaps you think that because you use Facebook personally, you can just as easily use it for business. Yes, and no. Yes, it is easy, but you should not approach marketing a business on Facebook the same way you approach your personal page. Before beginning to market your business on Facebook, read up! Do a little homework in preparation for launching your campaign. To find lots of useful info from Facebook 101 to advanced topics check out Mashable’s extensive resource: the Facebook Guide Book . If you prefer a book format for learning you can read the book  3,000 Fans In 30 Days Guide (under $10).
  2. Broadcasting, not socializing. This is the most common Facbook mistake according to most marketing consultants. People are on Facebook to interact and to be entertained. They’re not there to buy anything. If you fail to participate socially, and only comment when you have some self-serving news to anounce, then you are not only missing the power of the platform, you’re also risking alienating your Facebook fans. As a business, you have expertise, share your knowledge, insights and self as authentically as possible, and you’re more than half way there. Remember talk as yourself, not about yourself. Also, you don’t always have to post on topic. Be a real person.
  3. Automating everything. The tools and the temptation are there to automate as much as your social media marketing as possible. And while social media dashboards like Hootsuite, do make it easier to manage your campaign, using Fcebook’s native publishing tools will allow you to gain the most benefit in terms of real time engagement. Also, Facebook places low-priority on auto-published content.
  4. Direct linking. This mistake relates to Facebook’s advertising program. Facebook advertising is proving to be hugely successful as a lead generation tool for many business to consumer marketers. It can be beneficial for you too as long as you don’t make this sure-to-fail mistake: linking from your Facebook ad to a sales page. People don’t like this, and neither does Facebook. Instead send them to your Facebook business page and start to grow your social relationship. Remember, people are not on Facebook to buy things.
  5. Violating Facebook’s Terms. Again, educate yourself about what to do and not do on your Facebook business page. Facebook’s terms do change frequently, and keeping up with the changes can be difficult, but breaching them could lead to being flagged, and even having your page shut down. Three of the most common violations? Building a community on a personal page instead of a proper Facebook Page, failing to abide by Facebook’s rules around running contests, and“tagging” people who are in an image without their permission. If you’re unsure if something is a violation, Google it, and see what comes up.

To avoid these common mistakes, invest time in learning about the Facebook platform, educate yourself on how to build and sustain an audience, and engage with people as a person. That way you can derive the maximum benefit from this popular and effective marketing platform.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping small businesses operate more efficiently with our online scheduling and invoicing tools.

How to Use Your Computer Efficiently

We may take for granted that learning a computer is something that daily use alone will automatically give us, but that alone doesn’t give you the tools you need to use a computer more efficiently.

Instead, investing in a private computer tutor, showing up to lessons at a local Apple store, or picking up a book or tip from the Internet is a great idea if you want to start shaving off  seconds that amount to minutes that before you know it add up to hours.

It’s essential to recognize that there is no wrong way of using your computer. There are often more numerous way of performing the same function, and only a matter of learning the ways of doing something you need to do faster or more conveniently.

Spend less time doing things that you’ve been doing the long way. Here are some tips:

Tip #1
Nearly every mouse command can be done by keyboard

Whether using a mouse is challenging, or not, knowing the keyboard equivalent commands for many menu choices is essential. Sometimes, tasks actually take longer using a mouse than they do using the keyboard, especially when working with text. For example, the keyboard equivalents for Cut, Copy and Paste are conveniently located together:  x, c, v. By themselves, they are letters but when used with the CTRL key on Windows or the Command key on a Mac, they perform the same function that you would have otherwise have done using your mouse. When working in a word processor, using keyboard commands often makes more sense.

To further discover keyboard commands, Google search: keyboard commands for ‘something’ and replace ‘something’ with your favorite software. You can also pay a little more attention when using your software since on both a Mac and a PC, many of the short cut commands are found right next to the menu choice when you use your mouse. You likely never noticed this before.

Tip #2
Two Monitors

Most people use more than one computer program at a time. Of course, as humans we can’t both play a game and write an email, but we can conveniently switch between doing those activities and others. If you find yourself in need to have two or more programs opened at the same time, perhaps having two monitors is in your future. You can have your word processing document open in one window, while keeping your web browser open in another, perhaps to do research while you write. Having two monitors isn’t complicated to achieve if your hardware permits it (i.e. if it comes with a video card that supports two monitors—as many newer computers do). This could be done with the guidance of the sales help where you buy your computer equipment, or following some of the many tutorials online, including this video.

Tip #3
Multiple Tabs

Likely your most often used software application is your web browser. Whether you use Safari, Chrome, Firefox or Internet Explorer, you have access to a feature called TABS. Tabs as in the label portion of a manilla folder, allow you to open more than one instance of web surfing at a time. Instead of opening multiple browsers to surf many different web pages, you open up the browser once and under the File menu, look for “New tab” and then click on it (the keyboard shortcut is often CTRL/Command-T). Doing so will create a new tab, next to the original tab, and in it will contain nothing and the option of surfing to a whole new page.

You can also open links inside of a new tab by holding CTRL/Command while clicking on a link. One scenario that this can be used for is for Google searching. Let’s say you are searching for “puppies.” On the Google search results page there may be numerous sites that you wish to review, but you don’t want to have to keep flipping back to see the initial Google results again. What you could do instead is CTRL/Command AND click on each result link that you wish to review which will in turn open each one in it’s own tab. At the top of the browser window, you will notice a new tab for every link your clicked with the CTRL or Command combination. This is how ‘power users’ surf the web, and now you can too.

Tip #4
Reboot it and call me in the morning

Whether you leave your computer on all the time, or turn it off at the end of each day, eventually all computers will need to be either rebooted or turned off for a 5 minute break. You are usually reminded of this when your computer begins to act funny, or doesn’t take to your commands by mouse or keyboard like it did yesterday.  Shutting down your computer for 10 minutes, once a week, is a very good thing for it. That little bit of maintenance can save you money instead of calling your tech guy to help troubleshoot a problem easily fixed by shutting down.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping small business’s simplify operations and administrative tasks with technology. Our online appointment scheduling tool and online invoicing tools give business owners and managers back valuable time.

What is the Cloud Anyway?

The “cloud” and “cloud computing” are buzz terms, yet many people are unclear as to what they mean.  In a word, the cloud is the Internet. Cloud computing simply refers to resources and applications that are available on the Internet from just about any Internet connected device.

It is essentially a clever repackaging of an old word to refer to a service that is entirely located online.  That service can be a database, an online CRM like, your email server like Gmail and Yahoo and other web-based tools that you need to conduct your business. SimplifyThis’  own online invoicing and appointment scheduling tool live on the cloud—meaning you can access them from any computer or device with an Internet connection. How’s that for freedom.

No Longer Tied to an Office

By using software in the cloud, or online, you have access to these tools from any web-enabled device, whether you are sitting at your office or under a palm tree at the beach.

Most office networks today are still physically connected to a file server located on your office’s premises. In order to connect to this server you will need to be physically located at the office. Though there are other methods of connecting to your office network from outside, like a VPN or remote desktop, the concept that your file server could start off by being located in the cloud is tantalizing for many new companies getting started today. That means that you are not bound to a physical office address, and the rent often associated with that. It also means that your team can be located anywhere as well with access to your cloud-based server.

Being in the cloud also implies that you are somewhat virtual. Not too long ago, the term ‘virtualization’ was big because it meant that even if your building were destroyed because of a tsunami or a terrorist attack, your virtual company and its computing resources were in the cloud and no longer dependant on a physical premises of your own company’s office.

Cloud Behemoths

One of the first cloud-based solution providers was Google. When they introduced Gmail in 2007, they included a then whopping storage space of 1 gigabyte or 1000 megabytes, for free. Google figured that it had an enormous supply of storage space that was not being utilized, and they figured at the time, people were unable to meet capacity.

Another cloud computing giant is known mostly for being the world’s largest bookseller. In addition to being the creators of the Kindle, Amazon offers a comprehensive cloud computing platform. They not only provide storage capacity but they also provide rentable computing power. For  some applications where number crunching is as important as storage, having access to more computing power when needed, which may not be all of the time, is essential. Cloud computing offers this and is an effective way of renting computer power versus investing in all of the infrastructure required to do this in-house.

Like many new tech terms, the word cloud is often name-dropped all over the place and often it’s wrapped in some form of hyperbole. Fundamentally, it offers all of us something to look forward to.

How to Delegate

Delegating is notoriously difficult for many entrepreneurs. You, as the keeper of your business’s vision, have certain ways of doing things and, often, letting go and handing over responsibility to other people can seem very hard. Not delegating may make perfect sense to you, after all who cares as much about your business as you do, who is as invested as you? And who has the time to explain what needs to be done?

In reality, an inability to delegate can lead to more aggravation than it is worth.  Being a poor delegator leads to burnout and, generally, an unhappy work environment for the people who work for you.  Being a good delegator on the other hand increases productivity and innovation within your organization. Luckily, with a little attention and focus delegating is a skill you can develop, and one that is well worth the effort. Here, some strategies for being an effective delegator—and a better manager too.

Five Tips for Better Delegating

Acknowledge that it takes effort. Delegating is part of being a good manager and part of your job—perhaps a very important part of your job. It takes upfront effort and time—and this is why most people who don’t delegate don’t. Don’t fall into this trap. Accept that delegating does take effort, as does just about anything that is worth doing. While it will take time and effort upfront, over the course of the project, delegating will save you time and lead to an increase in productivity.

Keep Your Expectations in Check. One of the best pieces of advice I ever heard was delivered to a group of small business owners in a strategic planning workshop. The facilitator said “no one is your savior, everyone is your partner.” Remember this, especially if you feel you need to be rescued from your own business. In a smaller business or an individual practice in which the owner may be overburdened, expectations can become skewed. No one on your team is there to save you; don’t expect it. Treat everyone like your partner, and concern yourself with making sure that you are being a good partner to your staff, vendors and even your clients.

Know when to delegate, and who to delegate to. According to Mind Tools, a site that helps individuals develop career skills, answering the following questions will help you decide whether a task should be delegated.

  • Is there someone else who has (or can be given) the necessary information or expertise to complete the task? Essentially is this a task that someone else can do, or is it critical that you do it yourself?
  • Does the task provide an opportunity to grow and develop another person’s skills?
  • Is this a task that will recur, in a similar form, in the future?
  • Do you have enough time to delegate the job effectively? Time must be available for adequate training, for questions and answers, for opportunities to check progress, and for rework if that is necessary.
  • Is this a task that I should delegate? Tasks critical for long-term success (for example, recruiting the right people for your team) genuinely do need your attention.

If you can answer “yes” to at least some of the above questions, then  it could well be worth delegating this job.

Similarly,  know whom to delegate to. Pick someone who has the skills to do the job you are delegating, and whom is motivated and self directed. Communicate clearly what the expectations are. Other tasks, you can safely delegate to software, like using our Web-based appointment scheduling tool to book appointments. If there’s a person or piece of software that can handle the task as good as–or even better than–you, and you can use the time to do something more important, then that’s you’re cue.

Get out of the way. Once you delegate a responsibility, you are placing your trust in that person to carry out the task. While it is essential to follow up with someone you’ve delegated a responsibility to, constantly jumping back in to check on how things are going (or worse, micro-managing) will show your colleagues and employees that you do not really trust them. This erodes people’s morale and impedes their productivity, creativity and success. Give the person room to be able to successfully complete their assignment. Remember, while there is an agreed upon goal, they don’t have to get there exactly how you would get there. There are 100 ways to skin a cat.

Finally, give  credit. Now you can take credit for being a good delegator and a good boss, and your employee can take credit for having done a good job, too. For completing the task at hand, through the use of his or her own skills, intelligence and various abilities.  Your job as the boss is to help people shine, just like a good movie director brings out the best in his or her stars.

Word of Mouth Marketing–The Best Marketing Around

Have you ever heard someone give such praise about a yoga instructor, or a trainer or a computer tutor? And have you ever hoped that the people you knew were touting your abilities equally well?

That kind of buzz –known as word of mouth–is within your control. When you achieve that status you will find that the leads you receive from this level of word of mouth are nearly guaranteed business. Yet, maintaining or sustaining this level is a persistent way of being.

Word of Mouth 101

Word of mouth (WOM) refers to oral communication from person to person. Storytelling is the oldest form of word of mouth, oral history is another important form, as is word of mouth marketing. According to the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) word of mouth marketing is the “act of giving people a reason to talk about your products and services, and making it easier for that conversation to take place. It is the art and science of building active, mutually beneficial consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-marketer communications.”

Word of mouth marketing is a highly valuable way of promoting a product or service, as it offers your product or service  the credibility of the endorsement of the person passing the information along.

So, how does one go about generating positive word of mouth marketing? According to WOMMA, all word of mouth marketing techniques are based on the concepts of customer satisfaction, two-way dialog, and transparent communications. The basic elements are:

  • • Educating people about your products and services
  • • Identifying people most likely to share their opinions
  • • Providing tools that make it easier to share information
  • • Studying how, where, and when opinions are being shared
  • • Listening and responding to supporters, detractors, and neutrals

Sound complicated? It can be. Or you can keep it simple:

  • • Ask for referrals
  • • Deliver excellent customer service
  • • Pick a social media tool (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Meetup) and use it
  • • Connect clients with other clients
  • • Share your expertise with others

These are some of the basic ways you can increase word of mouth about your business.

Being an Expert

Becoming the person that people in your circle know as both an expert or superior at what they do, coupled with many kind acts, will turn you from ordinary to special, and help you to generate positive word of mouth. You will be on top of client’s minds, and spoken about whenever the topic of whatever it is you do comes up. Small touches such as forwarding links to articles or wishing them a happy birthday will go a long way to say simply that you care.

Being this way, you will need to put yourself out there. Join networking groups, interest groups, clubs and Meetups. Either find people with like-minded interests or business networking groups where you mingle and talk to people about what you do. Don’t make it about collecting business cards, but about making an impression.

Providing free advice that you might normally be paid for can go a long way. That person might live or know someone who could become your biggest client. And that person may find themselves talking with your future big client all about how kind you were, and how in a room of people looking to get more business you were doling out memorable and useful advice.

You never know where and how business will come from, but along the way being remarkable will help keep your name in other people’s conversations.

Additional reading: Word of Mouth Marketing Blog. Read the blog, sign up for their newsletters.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and solo practitioners succeed. Our online appointment scheduling tool, and online invoicing tool help business owners to simplify administrative tasks while improving customer service.

Working Smarter, Not Harder

Work smarter, not harder. We have all heard the expression, but how many times is it followed with an explanation as to how to work that way?

How you can work smarter
Working smarter requires more discipline than working harder. It also requires that you look at yourself objectively. Here are a few of my favorite techniques for working smarter.

  • Recognize your strengths and your weaknesses: By understanding your strengths and weaknesses, the smart worker gives the duties that they’re not particularly good at to someone who is, and vice versa, they take on duties that might be too daunting for others to handle. That outlines a fantastic model for delegation.
  • Recognize what time of day do you do your best work: Let’s face it, some people are not morning people yet in most cities in the world, the work day begins at 9 o’clock in the morning. As your own boss, you do have a certain level of control over your schedule.
  • Keep the end in sight: Reflect upon the time in your life when you will be retired. Think of that special moment when you will not need to put in as much time in the office or see as many clients as you do now. You did your time, saved your money and now you live a retired life somewhere. Where is this paradise and what will you be doing? Whatever it is, knowing that today can help direct your business for tomorrow. Instead of dreaming of your boat coming in, recognize that you are that boat. You are the captain and you are at the helm. Steer it into your pre-designed future. And in doing so, you will recognize what is a waste of your time and what is not.
  • Prioritize time away from the office: As the sole proprietor of your business, and the one who wears all the hats of the company, you will have to remind yourself that leaving the office for the night is as important as showing up to the office the next business day. Disengaging from the emails, the Twitter feeds, the Facebook updates and the phone calls is important since the persistent noise will eventually harm your entrepreneur’s  delicate mind. A report from the consulting firm McKinsey analyzed information overload and how our digital society actually is killing our productivity and creativity. And the net result is it is making us unhappy.

As entrepreneurs we must recognize how a unique idea to develop your own practice was born out of some problem or frustration. That genesis must never be forgotten, and fought for, not by working harder but by making intelligent choices every day.

Additional resources: For additional reading, see this Psychology Today article, Five Ways to Work Smarter, Not Harder, and the Harvard Business Review article, The Productivity Paradox: How Sony Pictures Gets More Out of People by Demanding Less.

SimplifyThis is dedicated to helping entrepreneurs and solo practitioners simplify business operations and administrative tasks—in essence to work smarter—with our online appointment scheduling tool, and online invoicing tool .

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