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How to Thrive in Your Online Business Despite Unsupportive Family Members

Your first step in setting yourself free from the partner or other family members who trivialize your attempts to make money on the internet is to change your codependent mindset. If you care what they think, it means that their poorly formed opinions of what you do will affect your performance and the effort you put in. So, stop caring. Yes, this is easier said than done. But if you tend to lose sight of why their negative opinion isn’t worth acting on, then refer back to the reminders on why “it really is them and not you.

Here are a few tips for emotionally distancing from the stream of negativity from certain family members or a partner, which holds you back from being your best professional self and creating the business you want, on your own terms.

Recognize that they’re stealing your energy. You only have a finite amount of time during the course of your busy day, to put energy into what you love. If part of your personal effort involves trying to convince your disagreeing partner why they should encourage you in your business building efforts, then that’s a Sisyphean task. Perhaps your energy is better spent on actually growing your business?

Stop talking to them about it. One of the best ways to block out people who doubt you, don’t understand, and don’t appreciate that you want to build a business so you can earn money on YOUR terms, is to stop communicating with them about it. For some reason, people feel more satisfied in thinking that a person “doesn’t work” than to think that they’re growing a business doing what they love. If they want to think this, let them. You have plans to make, people to meet and profits to start earning!

Make better use of your time. Talking to disbelievers is a counterproductive waste of everybody’s time. You’re not here to explain yourself or justify your behaviour. Everyone is entitled to pursue what makes them happy, especially if it could mean creating a new stream of income. So if they don’t get it, or if they ask you what you’re up to professionally with that hint of a frown coming around, just change the subject, politely cut the conversation short, and keep on smiling.

Make your own space. The prior point leads into this one. How can you put a stop to the constant negative feedback if they can see what you’re doing in order to comment on it? One solution is to become mobile. Surely your husband or wife has their own plans to attend to. While they’re up to their own pursuits, you can be off on the laptop somewhere, maybe an internet cafe, maybe the library, maybe holed off in the attic of your own home, where you can be away from their soul-killing commentary and instead using the internet to make mad money! Additionally, if you’re “LinkedIn” to family members who don’t support you professionally, drop them from your list. You’re on LinkedIn to business network, not stoke the fires of potential family gossip. The same goes for Facebook.

Seek out support. There are many wonderful, creative and enterprising people out there who share your enthusiasm for building an online business or earning money offering up your expert knowledge. If you go to bed at night feeling sapped, wake up to a network of loving and supportive individuals who can cheer you on, offer valuable tips, and help you build something amazing. Just having a group of like-minded spirits to cheer you on and vice versa, can help you move past the negative cycles that slow your professional growth.

Acknowledge that they don’t understand, and that’s okay. It’s hard to believe in something you can’t even comprehend. Maybe your husband, wife or other family members just can’t wrap their head around the idea of being your own boss… working really hard today, for a possible payout later in the years to come.

You could expend precious energy trying to convert them to your mindset, sure.

But if it’s going to be like pulling teeth, why bother? Maybe you can even recall scratching your own head at all those rah-rah gurus who somehow mysteriously make money using websites online. Picture trying to convince your former self of what you know now. It takes a long time to get it, doesn’t it!

If you want to be accountable to you, and have a business sounding board. Book in a call.

Kevin Arrow

Business & Your Unsupportive Family

Free Your Mind, Unburden Your Soul, Grow Your Dreams

I was at a family event when I first discovered that I had an unsupportive family. My uncle came over, started chatting and asked me how I was looking for a job. At this point, I’d just won a major business award for an outstanding green transport company and was in my 4th year of business.  I replied I wasn’t looking for a job, I ran my own company from home. My uncle was embarrassed. My dad, rather than say I had started my own business (and in my dad’s opinion it would fail) he’d told the family I was unemployed.

That explained a lot of the looks I’d been given over the years. Instead of them being proud that I was employing people and building a Brand that was known for bespoke deliveries, they thought I was doing nothing at home.

But it’s not just offline business owners that face family problems. Online business owners get it too. Sarah’s family think she spends all day on Facebook and is somehow paid to do that. They don’t see the hard work, and growing relationships. They see time being wasted. You should hear them talk about her Twitter following! And don’t get Sarah started on how one of the parents thinks that every blog post she ever writes is about them!

If you are a work from home parent who happens to be your own boss you’ve hit the jackpot when it comes to unsupportive families!

Why Doesn’t My Family Understand How Important My Online Business is to Me?

The family member who frowns upon your attempts to use the internet to build a business or monetize a hobby, probably has a few personal issues that should be addressed upfront.

Just knowing that these issues exist can make the world of difference and emotionally set you free from the blocks that derail you from being as successful as you want to be. This means less confusion, and more room for clarity and purpose in your business activities.

Surely you’ve been that busy entrepreneur, devoting hours of your precious energy to creating something that you just know is going to take off, only to have your husband or wife stroll on through and crush your enthusiasm with one carelessly placed remark or gesture. Then, one comment rolls into another, and before you know it you’re cringing every time they come into the room to have a go at you for spending hours on the computer.

If you want to move past the family dynamics that clog up your mind and keep you from being at your productive best, then it’s worth considering the reason why other people behave and react the way they do. Once we acknowledge, we can let go and move on. Some possibilities…

They lack an open-minded approach to life and business. For some people, “my way” is the only way, and it’s extremely difficult to break them out of these negative thought patterns. If a loved one has always held a 9 to 5 job, or worked for the government, or went to university and followed a set career path, then that, to them, maybe the only path… even if you know in your heart that you are capable of making your own way in a creative or online career.

They harbour firmly ingrained beliefs stemming from their own experiences. Maybe your wife or husband once tried to start a business but it didn’t work. Maybe they were wildly successful in some other area, and they can’t imagine that your approach which isn’t like their own, could work. Honestly, it’s not your job to convince them otherwise. But it IS your job to protect your own best interests, and be selective in what to share so as not to let other people crush your dreams!

They fear the unknown. Fear of the unknown is fairly rampant throughout society. People often imagine the worst when things get out of their realm of personal control. Have you ever accepted freelance work for pay? Could you ever have imagined yourself doing that, until you actually DID it? Everybody has some measure of fear and hesitation when embarking on a new venture. This is because there’s always risk. But remember that there’s risk in everything. Knowing that nothing is certain is a good way to break out of the naysaying mindset when family members are bringing you down!

They’re held back by perceptions of “how things are” or “how things should be”. These perceptions may come from parents, even generations past, of “this is how things are done in our family” or “this is the right way to live. Sometimes the best way to break people free of their limiting thoughts is to lead by example! Find a role model. Find a mentor. Find a business venting buddy where you can talk freely about business struggles and not be judged.

They lack confidence in their own life. Some people feel as though life is a game of control. “If I don’t control you, you’re going to try and control me.” This is a confidence thing. It leads to a needless back-and-forth game that could be spent far more productively and for far more positive results! If the person you married is like this, just remember that it’s a mindset that someone in their former life imprinted on them, and it has nothing to do with you. Just don’t get stuck in the endless cycle if you can help it at all. That may mean walking away in the middle of a conversation, but keeping your cool always wins in the end.

They have too much free time on their hands. People who enjoy pointing out perceived weaknesses in others, or tell them “they can’t” when really they can, probably don’t have enough occupying their time.

If family members begin to meddle in your affairs and say discouraging things about the work you do, disarm them with some busywork. You can either saddle them with a project, (“Here, help me create this family album of old photos!”) or find ways to delegate chores. At the very least, the prospect of them suddenly having to perform a task will get them out of the house and out of your hair so you can work on building your dreams in peace!

They need to feel better about themselves. Take comfort in knowing that a family member who tries to dissuade you from doing what you love probably has some self-esteem issues. Rather than making a person who already feels badly about themselves feel even worse, just sit quietly in the awareness that this is taking place. This simple knowing is often powerful enough to carry you through those tough times when their thoughtless remarks could potentially distract you from accomplishing what you set out to do. And knowing that they feel badly inside may even inspire you to help them move into a higher realm of awareness.

Their poor listening skills can lead to poor understanding. Both men and women can be poor listeners. So don’t think this is entirely about husbands, though it is far more common to hear “My husband doesn’t listen to me” than the converse. One way to get a male to listen more is to ONLY talk to him about Very Important Things That Need Attention, and leave the rest out. Let’s face it, in this day and age we have plenty of alternate means of communication. So if you feel the need to get some adult feedback and you know you won’t get it from your spouse, then take it online or meet up with a friend who you connect with instead. Good friends are a true blessing when husbands or wives don’t measure up in the listening department!

They take you for granted because they don’t know any better. If you feel unappreciated in your relationship, you can come to terms with the emotions and then move past them and onto more productive and positive pursuits. This will probably happen in cycles, but at least when it does you can be aware and rest easy knowing the challenge will soon be over.

Sometimes the things we need don’t always come from the people whom we expect them to come from, and that’s okay.

Talking with a coach or counsellor, telling your troubles to a friend… these are great ways to get the understanding and appreciation you’ve been craving. You can walk away from the chat “full up” on friend love, fueled by supportive colleagues, and ready once again to face a new day full of challenges!

They simply lack understanding of what it takes to be successful. Particularly for those who have never attempted to build a business from nothing… some people don’t realize that “get rich quick” schemes simply don’t work, and that it will take possibly years of dedicated effort to communicate, network, build systems and go through a series of trial and error before hitting upon the exact formula for your own personal success.

If they see that you’ve been busily working for 3 whole months with no results to show for it… well, that’s not a very long time at all, considering the life of a viable business.

Besides: why shouldn’t slow-and-steady be your model for personal excellence, especially if you’re challenged with having to balance work and home life, and the internet is so favourable for slow growth? The best way to break free from naysaying family members is to realize that “they just don’t get it” and that’s not your fault.

You can do this. Yes, it would be fantastic to have a supportive family but you cannot change who they are. You can only change how you react to them.

If you want to see how working with someone like me can help keep your dreams alive and your sanity intact then book in a call.

Kevin Arrow

 

How to set up your home office when you’ve never worked from home before


If you’re new to working from home, the home office can be your sanctuary; your peaceful workspace or it can be a prison where you feel unhappy and miserable. The good news? You get to choose which one it will be.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the best ways to set up a work from home office and the key things to consider. This article is based on my 20+ years of experience working from a home office.

How long you’ll be working from home?

The first thing you need to think about is how long you’ll be working from home. If it’s only a very short period of time, it would be pointless investing in an entire home office set up. In this situation, it would be better to invest in just the essentials.

However, if you have the budget it could be worth setting up a permanent home office. That way, you’ll always have somewhere set up to work at home if needed.

Making the Room

If you have a spare room, or an empty bedroom then you have the perfect space for your home office. My first home office was the dining room, and my first desk was the dining table.  If this is the space you have then great.

What if you have no room for your home office? Then it’s time to look outside the home for a moment. Do you have a garage you can clear down? A shed? When my transport business was in its early days we had no spare bedrooms and no dining room. The office was a desk in the master bedroom and that clearly didn’t work. So we cleared the garage and put two desks there. Garages often have power points so setting up computers isn’t hard. We always worked with the garage door open – rain or shine and it was quite secure.

In another house, the office was the conservatory. This house actually had a spare room (or study)  but it was 6 foot x 6 foot and the desk didn’t fit. This room became the paper room where the business filing cabinets were stored.

I mentioned earlier that we had a desk in the bedroom. Avoid this at all costs. If you keep your desk in your bedroom then you will always feel you are working. A space at the dining table and clear last box to store your working equipment is far better than working in your sleeping area.

Some people have been known to use their ironing board as a stand-up desk. I’ve not tried this.

Make sure you have the right equipment

At the very least, you’re going to need a laptop or desktop computer and a desk. If you don’t have a desk then the dining table is a good option. The downside to the dining table is you have a lot of space to spread things out… And you will. Working from the dining table can quickly lead to chaos so keep this in mind when working here.

Get a decent chair. You probably take your office chair for granted. But a good chair makes all the difference. In our current home office we have gaming chairs. These are comfortable and are built to be sat on. They have excellent back support. You want to be able to sit comfortably and not fidget. So choose your chair wisely.

You’ll need a good internet connection. So when choosing your workspace ensure you can get online where your desk is. If you don’t have a strong internet signal you will need a range extender. These can be purchased on Amazon and cost anything from 20-100.

You will also find a keyboard riser useful. These lift and tilt your keyboard so you don’t have as much strain on your wrists.

Consider a silent keyboard. Typing is noisy. And you will soon irritate your family when you’re pounding out a report or article.

Ensure your workspace has plenty of natural sunlight

When you’re stuck indoors, you won’t be getting as much natural sunlight as you usually would. This can have an impact on how productive and motivated you are. Numerous studies have revealed the damaging impact limited natural daylight can have on worker’s in an office setting and the same applies to your home office.

Make sure you’re going to be working in a part of the home which benefits from a lot of daylight. If there isn’t a space available, you might want to consider investing in a daylight bulb. These are designed to replicate natural daylight. This is what we used when the garage was our office. We still have one in our current home office.

Windows can be a distraction if you are not used to working next to one. In the past, we’ve placed a stained glass window pattern on the glass to block some of what was happening outside.

Focus on comfort

Your home office should be a comfortable place you can work in. This means, providing good support for your back if you’re working at a desk for example. Your ergonomic, silent keyboard and daylight.

If you aren’t comfortable, you’re not going to get much work completed. You’ll also find it beneficial to surround yourself with things that make you smile. I have photos of my wife and daughters on my desk, and a quote saying “this is the start of something wonderful” hangs from my bookshelf. The office curtains are brightly coloured.

Consider noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. If you have family at home you are “invading” their space. They have a routine and they do things a certain way. You’re not used to this, so you have to slot into their routine or chaos will reign!

Your final piece of home office equipment is the timer. You need to set a timer on your desk to get up and move every 30 minutes. You need to schedule your movement. You will also find that you can work well with using the Pomodoro technique (25-minute working blocks).

These are some of the basics you to consider when setting up a home office. Whether you’re setting up a permanent or temporary office space, you need to ensure it has everything you need and it’s quiet and comfortable to work in.

Other things to consider

Will you be making calls? If so, you need a home office space with a door or you will spend all your time making calls from your car.

If you are attending virtual meetings you will have the dog barking, the children wanting to climb on your lap and other things happening. So will the other people on your call. You can let your family know you’re going on a call but expect that things won’t go as well as you’d like.

Working from home takes some getting used to. The good news is that once you start your working from home journey you won’t want to go back to a noisy, unproductive office. Because without all the distractions of the workplace, you’ll find you are very productive in your home office.

Kevin Arrow

How To Bring Your Offline Classes Online Using Zoom

Whatever the reason, from self-isolation to quarantine, you have the need to bring your offline classes online. This post will help you set up a low-cost tool called Zoom so you can deliver your classes easily online. Plus you have the option to record them and turn them into an online course at a later date.

As you plan your online classes, you’ll need a variety of tools to help you support your students virtually.

One of the most popular virtual meeting services, among small business owners, is the free service offered by Zoom. If you aren’t familiar with Zoom, we will be walking you through the basic steps to help you create your own virtual training room. This will help structure the process in a logical order of steps that people will take to sign up for your online training. Let’s get started with opening your new Zoom account and looking under the hood.

Setting Up & Using Zoom

Setting up Zoom is easy and intuitive if you have set up another video conferencing or webinar training service in the past. It may even look familiar to you if you have attended a Zoom webinar or other webinars, in general. The point is that getting things set up and using the tool isn’t rocket-science. You can do this yourself or have an assistant do it for you, if you feel uncomfortable with tech tasks.

Opening your Zoom account

Go to https://zoom.us.

  • On the top right, click the blue button that says Sign Up, It’s Free.

  • Enter your email address.
  • Go to your email to confirm the address you have entered. Click on the link, or copy it and paste it into your address bar.

On the next page, enter your first name, last name, and password twice. The password should be at least 8 characters long and be a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Once you have completed this step, you will be logged in automatically.

You will then see your personal URL for the service. That link is the gateway to the classes you host.

With the free service, you can host up to 100 people for a limited number of times per month, for 40 minutes at a time. This is applicable to meetings with 3 attendees or more. You are allowed unlimited personal meetings with 1 or 2 people.

Once you are feeling confident that Zoom is the right choice for you, go onto one of the three paid tiers of service. The next tier up will give you up 200 seats. You can also pay for more seats if you need to. https://zoom.us/pricing

The other tiers of services are for larger companies who will have more than one host (minimum of 10, and 100 for the 2 tiers), with pricing equaling the monthly fee for those tiers (currently around $20), times the number of hosts. On the webinars tab, it states you can have up to 10,000 attendees.

But if you are just starting out, begin with the free option and you can always upgrade to the small business tier paid option if you need to.

Note that it does not offer webinar recording with storage in the Cloud unless you have a paid level of service. Otherwise, it will store your recordings onto your computer for you to access as needed. Some media files can get very large, so be sure you have plenty of space on your hard drive, or remember to move them to Dropbox or OneDrive straight after.

Depending on size and length of the video, you might be able to upload it as an Unlisted file to YouTube and then embed the video in a page at your site for interested parties to view the recording if they missed the live broadcast. The important thing is to be able to make the training accessible so anyone who missed it can see it, and to be able to edit it if you wish.

Creating Your First Online Class

On the left-hand navigation menu, choose My Meetings:

Meetings will be listed according to start time, topic, and webinar ID.

Click Schedule a New Meeting:

On the next page, you will see at the top:

Enter your title and description.

Next, toggle or click to set the specifics of your webinar.

 

Note date, duration, and time zone. Be careful around the time the clocks change if you live in a location that uses Daylight Savings Time.

Aim for at least a few ahead of time, in order to give you the chance to promote your class, especially if you have a large number of seats to fill.

As the pink box states, you have a limit of 40 minutes, but the toggle is only in 15 minute increments, so you will really only get 30 minutes, not 45, with the free plan. It is possible to create a good class in 30 minutes, but timing will be tight and it will leave most viewers wanting more (which can be a good thing in some cases and frustrating for them in others).

If you check the box for recurring meeting, you will see:

In most cases, you will not be having a recurring meeting. However, if you were using the system for coaching, for example, this might be a useful feature, with a weekly or monthly coaching call being booked in. Again, the paid service will give you the chance to host more classes that are longer in duration. But for the moment, we are just setting up your first one.

 

Your next choice is what your participants will see when they sign into the Zoom room:

This should be turned on for host, with a welcome slide showing on the screen. There isn’t any need to show their computer screen to them unless you really want to surprise them with your first slide. A welcome slide, however, tells them they are in the right place.

Note: Try to get into the room early and start promptly. The clock is ticking in terms of Zoom’s parameters, and people are busy (as are you).

Next, choose how they can access your audio:

For most webinar hosts and users, “Both” is the best option.

 

Note that if they are not dialing in from the US, you need to click edit and can add other countries as needed. For this reason, you may want to have someone manning the help desk to assist with last minute registrations:

 

Zoom will provide the right dial-in numbers with the international dialling codes in their invitation. Or your participants can just listen through their computer.

Next, choose your meeting options:

 

If you click “Require meeting password,” a box will open up:

Insert the password you wish to use. Write it down so you don’t forget.

Enable join before host – This lets them enter the room before you. If you will make it a point to be early, or don’t want them to see the first slide you will be showing, leave this box unchecked.

Mute participants upon entry – This is a good option because a lot of people have all sorts of things going on in the background and it can be very frustrating for people on the call to listen to chatter, dogs barking and so on when they are trying to hear the class.

Use Personal Meeting ID – This will be included as part of the invitation they will be sent and adds an extra layer of security if you want to make sure the people logging in have registered. This is important if you have a limited number of seats and don’t want people who actually registered to get turned away, which can be very frustrating and disappointing.

Enable waiting room – A waiting room will allow you to control when your audience enters the webinar and sees your first slide. You can hold them in the room until you are ready.

Record meeting automatically – Recording the class on the local computer is always a good idea so you can offer those who missed out a replay, and use the recording for various other marketing and sales purposes.

When you are finished, click Save.

On the next page, you will see a page that recaps what you saved, and offers additional useful information.

You will see name, description, and time, with these choices:

Add to your calendar of choice as needed.

Next, you will see:

With your own customized data.

All the way to the right of the “Join URL” field, you will see:

Click on the link and you will see:

Note the phone number sections will also be customized with your ID, which they will have to enter in order to get into the room.

Copy the invitation and paste it as needed, such as into your email marketing platform broadcast email to invite people on your marketing list to attend. Edit it as needed, such as adding your description of the online class, and then click send. (More on this in a moment.)

The rest of the page will show the options you chose on the previous page. If you want to make any changes, click:

Now your meeting is all set up.

Your only other important step in the interface is when the time comes, you will click the button next to your meeting data to start the meeting and begin presenting to your audience:

There is also a link if you wish to delete the meeting:

Once your meeting looks exactly the way you wish, you will be able to start inviting people. Unfortunately, there is no built-in feature for doing this through Zoom, so you will need to create a registration funnel through your email marketing platform and then drive traffic to it. Let’s look next at how to build an effective registration funnel.

Create Registration Funnel

Several popular email-marketing platforms are available to small business owners. This helps to connect with your target audience. They include Active Campaign, Aweber, Constant Contact, and others.

We use and recommend Active Campaign so that you can use the system as a CRM as well.

Set Up Your Mailing List

To make things easy in the long-run, you’ll need to create a new mailing/registration list for people that want to register for your online class. The principles will work the same for most other platforms. If you already have an email marketing platform that isn’t Active Campaign, read through it to make sure you have all the items you need to create in order to have an effective funnel.

STEP 1: Create Your New List

Log in to Active Campaign or your other email marketing account. In Active Campaign, look  at the left of the screen for the list tab:

Click and you will see all your lists. On the right, click Add a List

 

STEP 2: Name and Describe Your List

In Step 2, you will name your list. This will be visible to anyone who subscribes, so be strategic about what you name it.

Subscribers will also see your description in various locations, including when they unsubscribe, so write one that is an accurate description of what they will learn and the benefits of being on the list.

When finished, click Add

Step 3 Add a Form

On the left hand menu you will see the forms tab. Click on the tab and you will be taken to the forms section .

At the top on the right you nee to click on

you will then have a popup appear like this

This is where you will give your form a name. Decide on the type of form (most people use the inline form).

The action taken is next, you can add a tag, subscribe them to an email list (in this instance that’s the one you will choose)

Option lets you choose the list you want the person filling the form out to go into, when you click the dropdown it will list all of your email lists and you can choose the appropriate one.

If you want to add more than one action then click on

So you may want to add them to a list and add a tag.

When you have completed this part click on

You will now be taken to the form editor. This is where you can check your form settings and customise the look of your form.

The first tab you see is the fields tab. All of the elements on the right are drag and drop. for example, if you required the telephone number to be added you would click and hold over the ‘phone’ element and drop it in the form where you want it to be

The style options allow you to change colours fonts and other elements such as the size of the text.

The last one is the options, this is where you can set the message they receive once they have submitted the form. You can also check the action here, in this example the will be added to the list 111test

 

Step 4 :Publishing Your Form

Once you have created you form you will need to make it avaliable for people to sign up to. To do this the next step is to click on this button on the top right of the page

This will take you to the next stage which gives you 4 options The first option is to embed your form using code on your website, this can be a bit more difficult and may need your web developer to do this for you. Although it takes no coding ability to use this it can be tricky to know where on your site to insert the code.

If you do choose this option then you would highlight and copy and paste everything within the box.

The next option to share your form is via a link. This is great for personal invites or if you are sending out emails Although this is under the integrations section its more of a sharing option. Simply copy the link and send out

Your 3rd option is to use the active campaign free plugin for WordPress. This is a simple way of connecting your forms and for the plugin to add the code where you want it. If you have some understanding of plugins on your WordPress site then this is a good option over using the embed code. If you are unsure please do check with a developer though that it won’t cause any conflicts on your WordPress website.

Your 4th option is to add your form to a facebook page. Great if you have a big facebook audience.

you don’t have to choose just one of these ways to share your sign up form, you could use a combination and at any point you can go back into your form and grab the integration to use wherever you need to.

Next we move onto creating your welcome sequence

STEP 5: Create the welcome to the list email

Go to the automations tab on the left hand side and click, you will be taken to the automation section where you want to click in the top right hand corner button

A box will pop up and ask you which type of automation you want to create, for the purposes of this being new to you will the ‘start from scratch’ option is the best option. click on that option then click

To automate your email welcome you need to tell Active campaign , what needs to happen to start this automation process in motion. This is know as a start trigger. You will click on ‘subscribes to a list’ then click continue

This is where you can choose the list you want to connect the automation to. select your list and click ‘Add start’

you will now be prompted with the following options. Here you will choose ‘send an email

As this will be your first email in the automation this is what you will see.

Thats normal, just click on the ‘create an email’ link that is highlighted in blue to get you started. The first thing you will do is give the email a name. This name WILL NOT be shown publicly its for you to see in your automation flow only. If you are going to send out more than one email in the sequence you may want to number them or describe the contents of the email Once you have decided click on the ‘Create button’

your next step is to choose a teplate, to get you started a basice welcome email template may be easier however they can be customised after you choose so don’t panic if you think its not exactly how you would like it to look. In my example i will choose the welcome email template

The sender details are next. These can be changed at a later time , if you know these now it’s best to add them so you don’t forget to change them before you set the process live.

The email editor will now open up for you. This is where you can add in your email text, images and links. you can personalise the message that you want to send for each individual receiver.

On the right hand side you will see lots of options to add elements to your email , change colours , fonts and font sizes. Use your time to make this look and feel how you need it to. don’t be overly complicated with your design, simple is best and gets read

Once you are happy click ‘next at the top and it will open up the campaign summary.

The campaign summary runs through with you, the sending details are correct, you have tracking on if you wish. It passes the spam checks according to Active campaign and also allows you to either preview the email or send yourself a tst version via email. this is really useful to ensure it looks good when sent.

When you are happy click

The welcome email is very important, but it is the bare minimum to send out. Sending a few general follow up emails about the topic of the class can keep them interested and looking forward to the event. Let them know if they need to prepare anything or take the opportunity to give them more information.

To add another email you click the ‘Plus’

Then you will be taken back to the beginning of ‘add a new action.

Remember in between each email you can add in sending delays in hours or days otherwise they will all be sent at once. (More about that over here )

 

STEP 6: Customize the Landing / opt in Page

The page with the form that you have just created is commonly referred to as a squeeze page or a landing page with it’s only purpose is to encourage a visitor to subscribe. Try to make it as easy as possible for subscribers to join and give them a strong reason as to why they would want to.

Here are a few examples of very succesful opt in pages

30 Day Business Blogging Challenge

30 Day Email List Building Challenge

 

STEP 7: Customize the Confirmation Page

 

Name your confirmation page the same as the URL you gave when creating the settings for your form, such as: www.thebusinesssuccessdojo.com/email-confirmation-page

Copy and paste the data about the online class. You can also add a countdown clock set to the time the class is going to take place,

On the left, enter the exact details of when the class is to take place.

STEP 8: Test Your Funnel

Carefully and thoroughly, test your online class setup step by step to make sure it is functioning properly. Subscribe to it yourself, using an email address that you look at often so you will be able to see if each message you send out is going out correctly.

Check the confirmation email and the welcome email. In addition, check the confirmation page and edit as needed.

If you’d like to change something, go back into your list to edit it, save the changes, and test again. When you’re sure that it’s correct, you’ll want to start driving traffic to the sign-up page, which is the beginning point of your online class success

Congratulations! You have now learned how to create the system for your online class using a variety of tools and by following the best practice tips. Now all that remains is to take the steps to get your funnel set up fully and deliver your first profitable online class.

Kevin Arrow

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s if you want to talk through with me how you can take your offline business online, maybe you just can’t see how it will work then please do book in with me HERE FOC and we can work it out together

The counter-intuive way to writing faster

You have a meeting to go to. The car needs fuel, you haven’t had lunch yet and you’re worried about the sales aspect of your business. You know you should be marketing your business more, but if you haven’t got the time for fundamentals like living, then how the heck are you going to find time to blog?

Sure you could get up an hour earlier to make time, but that would mean getting up at 3 am, an hour after you’ve gone to bed… There has to be a better way to get your blog posts out of your head, down your arm, and onto the keyboard.

And there is: Outlines and Mindmaps

Outlines, or outlining is a fantastic way of being able to create your content faster. Your outline can be the structure of a blog post or a loose script for a video. The outline provides the structure for your content and you can fill it in over and over and over again. What’s not to love about that? It’s working smarter, not harder. To make things even faster for you you can download your free outlining roadmap here:

What do you need to create outlines?

I outline in two ways, but there’s also a third way which we’ll cover further down in this post. For the first way, you’ll need a pen and paper or you’ll need a Word (or Mac equivalent) document,

You know roughly how long your blog post will be; roughly 500 words and the standard outline will have five paragraphs made up of an introduction, a body of three paragraphs, and then your summary or conclusion.

Of course, the outline itself will vary but when you’re starting out or in a rush the outline described above is perfect.

And this is exactly what you type or write:

Headline Here:

Introduction – One Paragraph containing

  • Hook to capture your reader’s attention
  • Introduction to your general topic
  • Your point of view about the topic

Three Paragraphs in Body

Each of these three paragraphs should concentrate on a different aspect of the main topic.

Each paragraph should open with the idea of the coming paragraph. The rest of the paragraph should support that statement with statistics, stories, quotations, or supporting ideas. And where you use these, you need to add in your sources too. I make a note like *research here* as I write my outline.

Remember to transition between paragraphs so that the words flow from one paragraph to the next. The quickest way to do this is with bridging or transitional phrases like

  • on the other hand
  • another example is

I use this post here as an inspiration for my transitional words; you can never have too many in my opinion.

Conclusion

An effective conclusion ties up what you’ve said, and when it’s well written, it leaves the reader with something to remember along with the feeling of closure.

The Call To Action

This is where you encourage your reader to take action and I tend to write in big letters “CTA”. It’s quicker.

The second way to do this is to create your outline using Mindmapping software.

Decide on whether you will use an app (yes there are heaps of mind mapping apps) or some software. You can use a pen and paper if you’re not experienced with mind maps, and you may just prefer to hold a pen in your hand. I know I do. If you’re an experienced mind mapper you already know about outlining as it forms the framework for your map!

Freemind is software that allows you to organize your ideas and reorganize them as you go along. You can get the software for free at http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page.You can use Freemind for things like product creation, webinars, ebooks, etc., but here we’ll use it to organize ideas for a blog post.

The topic, for the purpose of this article, is outlining with ideas for an introduction, three paragraphs in the body, and a conclusion.

 

With a mind map, you can add topics and subtopics, move them around, or delete them on the screen easily. Mindmaps are flexible and easy to use.

The third way… If you’re familiar with PowerPoint (like I am) then you can use that to create your mind map.

If you’re a writer, you sit down and write. If you’re a blogger then you sit down and blog. And sometimes you just can’t find the time to either write or blog. Mindmaps and outlining will speed up the entire process. Have you tried it?


PS Want to join us in the blogging challenge? Join up here – it’s free. Everyone is welcome from Fitness bloggers to business bloggers.

Create Your Attention Getting Content Series

Attention. We all want it. We all have it.

We consume all and every kind of content about attention from how to get it to how to stretch it to how to get more of it. And in consuming this content we absorb some lies

  • Attention spans are getting shorter – No they’re not. They just won’t tolerate boring, bullshit content any longer
  • Video is the only way you can gain popularity – Nope. The most popular piece of content online is a quiz.
  • You must be slim, young and attractive to get attention – No, another big fat lie. Remember Chewbacca Mask Lady? She was 37 at the time of recording and she holds the record for the most viewed livestream ever.

The truth is that these lies fuel the narrative that says we’re not worthy of attention. That our content is not worthy of attention.

Ouch.

Think to your attention for the moment.

  • Do you binge-watch a boxset or TV series?
  • Read a trilogy of books?
  • Read a series of books AND watch the box set? A Game of Thrones anyone?
  • A series of films?
  • Seinfield re-runs?

Attention spans are not getting shorter. The threshold for bad content has got higher. This means your content needs to be better, faster, stronger especially if you’re going to create a content series.

Does this mean you should never attempt to create content series?

Hell no. It just means you will need to plan strategically and focus your energy. The good news is, the more frequently you create your content the better you will become.

The Content Series

The 30 Day Blogging Challenge is a series. It’s 30 blog posts, videos and roadmaps shared via email for 30 days. That’s a lot of attention-holding.

The 30 Day blogging Challenge works so well because it’s evolved since it was first delivered online in 2007. The value shared in the blogging challenge is worth more than blogging courses sold at £997.

The blogging challenge content series takes you from bystander to participant to champion. It feels strong and powerful and attracts those that want power pulsing through their own content.

There are 5 steps to planning your content series, and plan it you should. It’s not an easy post, like a list post, to pull together. You need to get your ducks in a row before you create and share. This free roadmap and 5 steps will help you get your content series done!

Step one: Your Content Series Goals

Common goals for web content are

  • Collecting email addresses
  • Increasing traffic to your website
  • Increasing brand awareness

Your content series will also position you as a leader in your field or industry.

Decided your content series goals and write them on your roadmap.

Step 2: Decide Your Series Theme

When putting together the blogging challenge the theme was simple; what does someone need to know in order to no longer be a beginner with content?

All the content in the blogging challenge is aimed at growth. There’s also the secondary theme of encouragement.

Decide what the theme of your series is, and what sub-themes (if any) there are.

Step 3: Structure Your Series

George RR Martin didn’t wake up one morning and decide he was going to write 8 books describing the worst of humanity and throw in a dash of wolves and dragons.  He started with a structure and grew it from there.

You can read a Game of Thrones, the first book, or start with A Clash of Kings. Although they’re a series they also stand alone.

Each post in your series needs to be good enough to stand alone and yet be part of a bigger whole.

Each post in your series needs to be structured the same. You also need to balance the length of the posts. Will it seem weird if you open your content series with a 10-word post and finish it with a 3,000-word post?

  • Will the series have a similar headline?
  • Will there be a visual connection?
  • Will you link to the first post in the series?
  • How will you connect the series together?
  • What will the cliffhanger be?
  • Will you encourage people to optin for just this series of content?
  • Will you write one post in your series at a time or write in a batch?

The Blogging Challenge was originally written one post at a time. We made it up based on feedback from the participants as we went along.

The Blogging Challenge 2020 was written in a batch over 3 weeks. The 13 years of experience means that we were able to go from one post at a time to batch writing. You may have the experience to write a batch, you may prefer one post at a time.

Add your answers to your roadmap

Step 4: Calls to Action

Calls to action in a content series can be complicated. The calls to action in each piece of content will lead to the next post. But what happens when you finish the series? Where will your readers be guided?

Add your answers to the roadmap.

Step 5: Publishing & Promoting Your Series

Pressing publish is a big step for your content series. You might want to announce it on Facebook or with a livestream. You might want to create some promotional videos.

You will also want to create a landing page for the series and add the links as they become published. Whether this is for your internal use, or for everyone to see is up to you.

Your content series isn’t limited to blog posts. You can also edit them into a book. People pay for convenience. The Blogging Challenge Book has been around since 2014. The emails are free, but the book is not. It now has a companion guide, and a planner and a course that’s part of it. All of these additions have taken time.

The companion guide didn’t even exist until February 2020!

Your content series will require ongoing promotion. Tools like MissingLettr and Promo Republic make this easy. We use a combination of these tools to promote our content.

Decide on how you will publish and promote your series. Add the details to your roadmap.

Now you have your content series plan… All you have to do is create it!

How to Format the Perfect Blog Post

Formating your blog posts doesn’t have to be a painful experience. But if you choose not to format your content it becomes a bad experience for your reader. The average person visits a website for 15 seconds! So, if you have a high bounce rate in your Google Analytics, and you want to keep your readers on your site longer, then formatting your posts is the first step! In this post, there’s a 10 step How to Format the Perfect Blog Post checklist, as well as this detailed post. By the time you’ve finished reading you too will be able to format your blog posts with ease.

1. Add headers and sub-headers

Readers don’t read the way you think they do! They skim the content, and then they may go back and read it fully. Their eyes read web content in a Z-Pattern. And an F shaped pattern. And probably some other patterns we’re not aware of.

By adding in headers we help draw the readers eyes down the content so they consume more of it, and hopefully stop skimming and start to read properly.

How to Add Sub Headings in Your Content

Adding subheadings to your content is really easy. You can do it in 3 clicks!

  • Highlight the text you wish to make a subheading
  • Click the arrow where it says paragraph
  • Select the header you want to use. I’ve used Heading 2
  • That’s it!

2. Eliminate the wide walls of text!

When someone reads a wide wall of text, their eyes tire quicker. There’s a lot of eye moment that goes into reading. Create narrow columns of text so your reader is pulled deeper into the content.

Newspapers use this technique to get you to read a triple page spread. Their narrow colomns with just 80 characters across mean there are a lot of narrow columns to read rather than one huge wall of text.

We recommend that you add an image to your blog post and align it to the right to create a narrow funnel of text. On a mobile device, the image will appear above the text, and on a desktop, you will have the narrow column for easy readability.

3. Highlight words and phrases so they stand out!

I know your content is important, but there’s no need to make it all bold, or all italics… or all bold italics!

But highlighting a phrase here and there will help your content get read. Some SEO experts say you should make your keywords bold or italics. Readability trumps SEO, so highlight your best sentences.

4. Add Images

The days of a perfect blog post being text only are long gone. You need to add a visual that aligns with your content and your brand.

We recommend creating a template on Canva.com for speed and ease of use.

5. Use Lists and Unordered Lists

Creating an unordered (bulleted) list makes things easy to read

  • Create a list
  • Use Bullets
  • Your content is easier to read

If you create a post with a number in the headline used a numbered list. Because there are  people who will count your list to make sure you’ve given them what you’ve promised in the headline. Yes, really.

6. Use Callout Boxes/Pull Quotes

Or coloured content boxes.

I’ve created these using Thrive Architect. I also used it to create columns in tip 2.
Thrive Architect is a fantastic tool that will help you also create content templates.

Don’t overdo the callout boxes as they can be disruptive to the reading experience. 

Traditional media use pull quotes all the time. The name tells you that the quotes pull people in!

Try pull quotes in your content to draw the eye to important things.

Remember that print media uses the pull quotes sparingly. Perhaps only one per page.

7. Shorten Paragraphs and Sentences

Where possible, use short paragraphs and sentences. In fact, it’s best to vary sentence length or this happens:

Remember to add a caption. People read captions on images. Smart captions can be a call to action. If you like this, please pin it to your quotes board on Pinterest.

This can be formatted so that it reads better:

This sentence has five words.

Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine.

But several together become monotonous.

Listen to what is happening.

The writing is getting boring.

The sound of it drones.

It’s like a stuck record.

The ear demands some variety.

Now listen.

I vary the sentence length, and I create music.

Music.

The writing sings.

It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony.

I use short sentences.

And I use sentences of medium length.

And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage him with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums, the crash of the cymbals–sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”

Gary Provost

Don’t drone. Don’t bore. Shorten your paragraphs and sentences. Wherever possible create music with your words.

8. Add Captions to Images

If you have an image, remember to add a caption. A caption can even be a call to action, a quote or a link.

You can see this in action in the images above.

9.  Mobile-Friendly Content

Make sure your content can be read on a mobile device. If someone has to move the page left and right (with their finger) in order to read it… It’s not mobile-friendly.

Your site may be mobile-friendly, but social media sites might wrap a frame around your content so that it’s no longer easy to read.

Image A is a link opened on Facebook.

Image B is the same article opened in a browser.

Where you share your content can impact its mobile friendly-ness.

10. Add Your Signature

Is your content important? Then sign it!

You can use Canva to create a signature, or, you can just type your name and hyperlink it to your about page.

 

 

Create Your Own Branded Template For Blog Posts

We eat with our eyes, as the saying goes. If food doesn’t look appealing then we don’t want to eat it. The same applies to content – if it’s not visually appealing then we don’t stop scrolling to take a further look. This post will help you create a branded template to use in your blog content (and other places). It’s a big post, with bonus materials so, you might want to bookmark it or share it so that you can find it later.

Start With Your Brand Elements

The first place to start when it comes to visual content is your own brand. This means knowing the following

  • The hex colour codes of your brand colours
  • Your main font
  • Your secondary font
  • Where you keep your logo (ideally a transparent version)
  • Brand icons

You might want to include a mood board if you have one.

Having this in one place speeds things up when comes to creating your branded template.

Creating Your Own Branded Template

We love Canva. We’ve used it since it launched, and have recommended it as part of the 30 Day Blogging Challenge since 2012. The small monthly fee for additional features is well worth it. However, as a small business owner, you may also prefer to use Photoshop or similar. For the purposes of this guide, we’re going to use Canva as most people can access the free version and create a gorgeous branded template in no time at all.

Step 1 – Create Your Account on Canva and login, or sign in if you have an account already.

Step 2 – Create Your Branded Template

Once you’re logged into Canva.com you will see the home screen:

You want the area that says “create a design” (arrow 1). Go to arrow 2 and click until you see the option for Facebook post (arrow 3).

Click Facebook post.

You’re now ready to start creating your branded template.

Arrow 1 – Click to change the template name from “Facebook Post Untitled” to your website’s name and the word template. The ones for this site are called “Business Success Dojo Template”. This makes it easy to remember.

Then choose a template that you like the design of. Remember, we’re going to change the colours and the images, so don’t focus on these.  Click on the template and it will appear in the white space where arrow 4 is.

If you find the visual is too small to see, click the number with a percentage next to it (arrow 3) this increases the size so you can see better.

If you get stuck, just click help (where arrow 5 is).

It’s now time to customise your template!

As you can see from the image above, my branded template needs some more work so that I can use it.

Click where arrow 2 is, and I can change the beige background to my brand blue. I do this by clicking the box where arrow 3 is pointing.

This opens the pane where arrow 4 is. Here I can add my brand colours, or if I have them there already select the colour that I want.

Each element on the image is clickable and can be changed to reflect your brand.

To change the font click the text (arrow 1) and then click the text where arrow 2 is. This will open a pane where you can choose your font. If you have a specific brand font you can upload this to Canva.

By clicking where arrow 3 is you can change the colour of the text.

I change the text at arrow 4 to the url of this website. Next, I click the image where arrow 5 is, and swap the photo of muffins to an image in my brand style.

Finally, I change the coloured bars to fit my branding and added my logo. Here’s my finished visual:

As you can see it’s very easy to adapt one of Canva’s many templates to fit your own website and visual branding:

As you can see only the design structure remains the same as the original and I have a branded template that I can now use in every single blog post.

But Where Do I Get The Images to Add To My Branded Template?

Contrary to popular belief, you cannot just take someone else’s image and use it. You cannot go to Google Images and choose anything from their either.

Images and visual content are protected by copyright law. The person who created the image has to be contacted and give their permission (preferably in writing) before you can use it.

  1. Shareasimage Pro supplies you with images each week, plus you can make your own quotes
  2. Unsplash will send you 10 gorgeous images to use how you like every 10 days
  3. Graphic Stock is $99 a year and where I get the majority of my images
  4. Yay Images is great for images you don’t see everywhere else and if you have a tough niche.
  5. Free Digital Photos is a good source of internet marketing images
  6. Canva – a great tool for creating your own images and I highly recommend it, it has a range of free and paid images. The paid images cost $1 each.
  7. Dreamstime have a free and a paid section for images
  8. Free images used to be sxc.hu and I’ve used this extensively in the past
  9. Free stock range also has tutorials as well as a good range of images you can use
  10. Free photos bank has a range of gorgeous nature images
  11. I’m free shares a stunning range of pictures from icons to nature
  12. Pixabay has a cool range of images that can be run through Canva to be branded for your own site
  13. Can Stock Photo has an interesting range of images and a range of pricing plans
  14. Pexels has some stunning images that would be perfect for blog posts.
  15. Deposit Photos is becoming incredibly popular with each image costing less than $1. If you like the cute dogs then you’ll find plenty of these here!
  16. Morgue File is another site popular with bloggers, again, these images can be used in a too like Canva to give them a unique edge
  17. Shutterstock is brilliant. They used to sponsor the images on Birds on the Blog and they have everything from celebrities to topical images.
  18. Fotolia has a free pic of the week range, and they’ve a very diverse range
  19. Nappy has a huge range of photos of black people. There’s no excuse not to be diverse.
  20. Stockvault has some beautiful images again, these would suit lifestyle bloggers really well.
  21. CreateHerStock has images of black female entrepreneurs.

Many of these sites give away images or charge as little a dollar for a great quality image.

Going forward, as part of the blogging challenge, your aim is to add your branded visual to each blog post you publish.

You see, people don’t only type in text to get answers… They also use sites like Pinterest to find great content and they bookmark it by “pinning” the image in your post to one of their boards. This not only sends you more traffic, but it helps your SEO and overall visibility.

 

P.S This post contains affiliate links. These links, if you click and purchase,  may earn us a small commission. This is just one of the many ways bloggers get paid when they create content.

content plan

Why A Content Plan Is Crucial To Your Business

Whenever I talk to new prospects there are normally 2 things that come up time and time again.

The first thing they like to tell us is that ‘Content doesn’t work for my business’, come on,  we were told for years that content for transport businesses was a waste of time, all whilst we were sucking in leads from businesses every week :-). You just need the right people and the right intention behind your content strategy.

The second thing is they don’t have time to plan let alone review their content strategy, the truth is they don’t value it as a priority and are happily creating random content that just doesn’t work. The truth is, you need to plan and review every time you publish something new because timing is everything and audiences change. The biggest mistakes entrepreneurs make are:

a) They don’t have a content plan
b) They don’t track and test their results

Sometimes it’s because they don’t know how to plan and track…

A Content Plan

All marketing on the internet is content marketing. Blogging is content, Video/ Vlogging is content, linkedin updates are content and Facebooking is content. No matter what you are trying to sell, you need visibility. You can only get visibility if you have a web page with content of some type on it. It could be a post, top tips, embedded video, graphic, Slideshare presentation and so on. Your content is based on what you know your target audience struggles with and needs more information about.

In addition, it should be keyword rich. Every single site on the web has a search option. It might not be very good, but they have them. If it is written content on the page, important keywords and phrases, the people in your niche would be likely to search for should be in the title, description, on the page itself, and in the tags. If it is a graphical item, name the file using keywords. Then use keywords in the title, description and so on. This process is known as search engine optimisation (SEO).

Basic SEO isn’t that hard to get to grips with, it’s a process rather than a hidden secret nobody knows about, yes effort is required but 15 minutes optimising a page will get you far better results than not bothering and bagging out content that just isn’t being found.

Content series are also massively important which is why planning out what you are doing in advance adds a structur to your content that the search engines love and more importantly your readers engage with.

 

Analytics

Once you have published any piece of content, it is important to look at:

  • How visitors looked at the piece of content
  • How many of those visitors followed your call to action.
  • Who visited and why
  • How did they come to find your content, what did they look at and on what page did they leave.

Your traffic can come from SEO, PPC and also social media. But how many follow your CTA? Imagine you create a 7-part e-course on Living Your Dream Life. You would create an optin page and tell people about it. Then you would track the visitors and the number of subscribers. You would also check the social media response, such as likes, shares and comments, if you are really clever tracking the link clicks from each platform

You would then look at the traffic logs of your site, such as Google Analytics. Google Analytics is free. Register for an account and add a small amount of tracking code to your site. You will start to see traffic reports for your site. The Audience tab will tell you how many visitors you had, as well as age, gender and so on. The Acquisitions tab will show you where they came from – Facebook, Twitter, etc.

Keeping a close eye on the success (or not) of the content you publish is one of the best ways to keep on creating exactly the kind of information that your target audience is most interested in, which should lead to more relevant traffic and greater profits.

What To Do Now?

That’s simple, to get you started there are only 2 things you need to do

  1. Go over HERE and grab you planners and actually USE THEM. planners are a waste of time if they sit there empty, work out your content strategy and plan it out, it’s your playbook for getting the right content out at the right time to the right people.
  2. Get yourself a google analytics account, I mentioned they are FREE, so what’s stopping you, if you never know what’s happening then you can never do more of what works, once you have your account you connect it to your site and then keep your eye on it, learning, understanding and adapting the way your website visitors interact with you and your content.

Conclusion

the bottom line is you need to plan your content, create and publish then look at what is happening, without any of these steps your road to gaining new clients online is going to be difficult, slow and rather painful.

Be good to yourself and I guarantee when you do these few steps you will really start to enjoy your content creation and more importantly enjoy the new clients it brings to you.

Kevin Arrow

content plan

How To Achieve Business Success in 2020 – 100 Top Tips

When it comes to running your own business, how do you know where to begin? There are so many little considerations and moving parts to any business that it can seem overwhelming. You set out thinking business success is only a few short weeks away once you have launched your business however there are many things a serious business owner has to think about when launching and running their business.

That’s why I’ve collated these 100 tips. These are ‘survival’ tips that will help you grow and maintain your business – whether you’re just starting out in your business venture, or you’ve already been in business for a while.

In this blog post you will get tips on the following areas

How to get to know your customers so that you can deliver the products and services they need in the ways they need them
The basics of business planning that every entrepreneur needs to know
What you need to do now to prepare for future disasters so that your business isn’t derailed when they occur
How to document your systems and processes not only for your employees but also for potential investors
The essentials of small business finance
How to identify the help you need and build a solid network that will provide it
Ways to keep an eye on your market and its changes and developments
The basics of managing a strong social media presence and what to do with it
How to monitor and control your reputation online
Essential time management tips
Tips on reducing and managing stress for when things get hectic.

By the time you finish this blog post, you’ll have the basics under your belt and a long list of things you can do today to make sure your business not only survives but thrives in 2019.

Here are 100 small business survival tips.

Know Your Customers

1- Look at Who’s Looking

Whether you have an online store or an offline brick and mortar shop, pay attention to who is visiting and know as much about them as possible. If you’re offline, watch your customers shop, talk to them and get to know them as well as possible. For an online store, pay attention to your metrics use google analytics or wp slimstat and look at visitor profiles. You can use this information to tweak and better appeal to your customers.

2 – Focus on Needs

Focus on your customers’ problems and needs. Your products or services should fulfil those needs or solve those problems. If your products or services don’t, how could they be improved so that they do? Or, thinking about it another way, what type of customer could benefit from your products or services?

3 – Focus on Relationship, Not Sales

From the moment a customer encounters your business, hold off on sales and instead focus on building a relationship. Think in terms of how you can help the customer. Interact with them and create a bond. Easing off on the sales means they may not buy anything today or even tomorrow, but if you build a good relationship they eventually will, and they’ll stick with you.

4 – Create a Two-Way Dialog

The best way to get to know your customers and build a solid relationship is to get two-way communication going. Encourage them to contact you and interact with you. A great way to do this is through social media. Remember that even offline businesses can and should use social media to do this.

5 – Find Out Who Is Filling Their Needs Now

Find out who a potential customer is buying from right now and how they feel about it. Knowing this information reveals a great deal about your customers’ tastes and how they make their purchase decisions. Perhaps you have something unique to offer that your competitors don’t.

6 – Put Yourself in Your Customers’ Shoes

Put yourself in your customers’ shoes and see things from their point of view. When you do this, you can better understand the wide range of buying options they have, as well as the pros and cons of each. This also helps you clarify the edge you have over your competitors.

7 – Take Advantage of Tools

There are many online tools to help you get to know your customers better. Metrics give you passive data on who visits your site and what they do there, but tools like SurveyMonkey or survey slam, which lets you create surveys, Activecampaign an email and crm system that allows you to see what interests them can all help

8 – Don’t Assume

You probably know the popular saying, ‘When you assume, you make an ass of you and me.’ When it comes to online business, it’s more like ‘When you assume, you get out of touch and lose relevance with your market.’ Never assume you know what your customers like. Always rely on hard data or your customers themselves.

9 – Seek Out Face Time

Whether online or off, you should value the actual face-to-face time you get to spend with your customers. Phone calls and emails can be helpful for getting to know them, but there’s nothing like actually spending time with them. Where you can try to arrange a meetup or similar, where it’s not easy have a zoom social and invite them along with no agenda

10 – Find Out How They Feel

When gathering information about your customers, don’t just focus on demographics or behavior, but also how they feel and think. This is part of what’s also called psychographics. When you’re trying to address needs, ease pain and solve problems, your customers’ feelings are extremely important.

Business Planning

11 – Set SMART Goals

When setting goals, do it the SMART way. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound. In other words, make sure your goals are specific and locked in to a deadline. Decide how you’ll measure them so you’ll know if you’ve reached them or not. Make sure they’re achievable and relevant to your business.

12 – Identify Your own Milestones

You reach large, overarching business goals by setting smaller sub-goals or even micro goals along the way. These are the milestones that get you to your destination. Not only do they give you direction, telling you what needs to be done on a daily basis, they also give you a sense of achievement when you reach them that keeps you motivated to keep working toward your goals.

13 – Keep Breaking Up Your Goals

Large goals are daunting, but so are your milestones. In order to reach each milestone, you should break them up into definable steps. Take your sub-goals and milestones and keep breaking these up further and further until you have specific tasks you can accomplish each day.

14 – Determine What Makes You Unique

In order to make your business a success, you need a strong unique value proposition. This is what sets you apart from other companies. Don’t focus on being the biggest, fastest, cheapest or best, because something better can come along. Instead, focus on what you offer that’s unique. This is harder for another company to outdo.

15 – Define Your Target Market

Create a profile for your target market that includes demographics, buying habits, and the feelings and attitudes that make up what’s called psychodemographics. Create this profile as if it were an actual person, or avatar, and focus your efforts on marketing specifically to that person.

16 – Size Up the Competition

In the planning stages of your business, research your competitors. You need to find out the overall business climate, as well as come up with ideas to set your business apart. Look at what they offer, what makes them unique, and how they solve customer problems. Also, try to find out what their customers think about them.

17 – Focus on Details

When most people start a business they have a vague idea of what it is and how it will work. But to survive and thrive you need details spelled out as clearly as possible. Think about how your business should operate on a daily basis. How specifically will you meet your customers’ needs? Where will the profits to keep you going come from?

18 – Find Out What People Do on Your Website

When designing or re-designing your business website, focus on what you want people to do there. Don’t just think in terms of design and features, but what actions you want visitors to actually perform. For example, you may want them to sign up for a newsletter or start following you on social media. For each online marketing channel, identify a purpose in this way.

19  – Get the Resources You Need

Identify what resources you have to work with and which resources you’ll need in the future. Outline how you will develop or secure those resources when you need them. Identify others who can help.

20 – Plan with Patience

If you’re just starting out, it’s normal for a business to make little or no money for its first few years of operation. Be patient when planning your business. Give it the time it needs to grow and become profitable.

Preparing for Disaster

21 – Back It up

Create a system for backing up your business that includes routinely backing up all data and storing it. Include procedures for what to do if data is lost and define who has access to the backed up data. Consider using cloud services as well as a physical back-ups, and back-up your data in more than one place.

22 – Invest in Security

Invest in a solid security program or service that will ensure your network is safe. Update whenever updates are offered. You may also choose to have your network tested. There are services that try to hack into your site in order to discover its vulnerabilities.

23 – Use Password Protection Best Practices

Your greatest security is simply choosing good passwords and changing them regularly. Use random passwords that are impossible to guess. Avoid common passwords like birthdays, kids’ or pets’ names, or anything related to your company. Change passwords regularly and restrict access carefully. When you hire outside help, give them temporary passwords and delete when the work is finished. Always change passwords when a person leaves your company.Using a free service like lastpass will help you immensely.

24 – Conduct Security Training

Train your staff  and outsourced team well on security procedures and how to avoid malware. Make clear guidelines on downloading from the internet and teach them about common threats like phishing schemes. Make sure everyone is on the same page.

25 – Create an Acceptable Use Policy

Along with your security training, create an Acceptable Use Policy. This is a written statement that outlines what uses of the company’s computers are appropriate or inappropriate, especially in regards to internet use. It’s important to have these guidelines spelled out clearly.

26 – Protect Your Customer Data

On your website, clearly spell out how customer data is stored and used. Write a privacy policy that covers everything and post it on your website. Treat this customer data like it is gold. Make sure it is encrypted and restrict employee access to only the information they need.

27  – Use Multiple Channels to Keep in Touch

Make contact with your customers through as many different channels as possible so that if you lose one, you can still communicate with them. For example, if your site gets taken down, you can still maintain contact through social media or your email mailing list. Using a service like liveagent will allow you to have multiple channels of communication filtered into one place to keep it organised for your business

28 – Establish Disaster Protocols

Establish clear protocols for any type of disaster that could occur, from data breaches to natural disasters that shut down your company. When something like this occurs, you and your staff need to act quickly and in an organized manner.

29 – Hire Good Legal Back-up

Hire a business lawyer and make sure that all of your legal documentation is in order. Keep copies of all paperwork and understand well what you legally can and can’t do. This will include your terms of business and any contracts you need with your customers.

30  – Listen to Legal News

Keep an ear open for changes in internet law. Especially where ecommerce is concerned, there have been major changes in recent years that anyone doing business online needs to know. Make sure you understand copyright law well and how it pertains to what you do online.

Systems and Processes

31 – Map It Out with a Manual

Define all of your business practices and write them out in a manual. This can be used as a troubleshooting guide for when things go wrong as well as a training manual for new employees. Document each process for every area of your business including product development, quality control, customer service, internal and external communications, the sales process, financial processes, etc. Use graphics and checklists to make it easy to follow.

32 – Create Training Materials

From your manuals, create materials specifically for training new staff or contractors. These should give an overview of how the company works, as well as specific information for learning systems, processes and policies.

33 – Make Training Videos

If you rely on virtual help for internet or computer based tasks, an easy way to train this help is to create videos. Use screen capture video production software and film yourself actually doing the work. When you hire someone, you can give them these video tutorials and they only need to watch and follow.

34 – Secure Funding

If you’re working on a start-up, write your business systems and processes with financial funding in mind. If you want to take out a business loan, you’ll have to show these materials as part of the application. The more detailed and thorough they are, the more likely they are to get you the funding you need. You may also need to show this documentation to investors.

35 – Write Step Processes

When writing your processes, take each process or thing your business does, and break it down into steps. The steps should be simple and easy for anyone to understand even if they don’t have any knowledge of your industry. If a process has more than about seven steps, break it down into two sub-processes.

36 – Write a Style Guide

Some companies write a style guide. This is a manual that explains how communications should be made in a detailed way. A style guide might cover, for example, how you write emails to customers, what to say on the phone to clients, and words and phrases to use/avoid in marketing materials. How you communicate is important for your brand image, so it should be consistent. Some style guides also include ready-made templates you can use instantly for communications.

37 – Go Visual

Whenever possible, use visuals in your documentation. A graph or diagram explains a process instantly at a glance so that there’s no confusion over terminology. A great way to document your processes is by using mind maps. A mind map allows you to present a ‘big picture’ of information in a simple, easy to understand way.

38 – Allow Room to Grow

In your business processes and systems documentation, allow room to grow. Your business will evolve over time, and your processes and systems need to be able to sustain this change. Make each process scalable and write your documentation with your future growth in mind.

39 – Ask for Collaboration

Enlist your employees or coworkers to help you document your systems and processes. They may think of details you would forget. They may have other input as well that helps to explain the system more clearly. If you have a larger company, you might ask your employees to document their own processes, and then have others review for accuracy and clarity.

40 – Identify Areas to Improve

You can use your documentation not only to outline and clarify processes, but also to identify areas that need improvement. By writing everything down, you get a clearer picture of how your company works. You may find areas where there is waste or inefficiency. It helps if you ask employees and customers for feedback.

Financial Survival Tips

41 – Create a Solid Budget

Every business needs a budget. No business can survive without one. Your budget is your estimated monthly expenses and profits. Start by considering expenses. Most start-ups can’t rely on profits early on until they have a steady cash flow going.

Separate expenses into three categories: Fixed expenses which don’t change, such as rent, leased items, and insurance; variable costs, which are related to sales volume and include things such as raw materials, shipping and software to meet sales demands; and semi-variable costs, which are costs that can be adjusted depending on volume of business such as advertising and salaries.

42 – Use Accounting Software

Make it easy on yourself and use an accounting software program such as QuickBooks. While you can’t completely automate your financial operations, automating what you can is a huge help. It makes managing your finances that much faster and easier.

43 – Forecast Major Expenses

Make a list of all of your business’s major expenses such as computer upgrades or subscription services. Put these on your yearly calendar far in advance so that you have time to plan how you’ll pay for them. This way, you won’t have to take money that’s needed elsewhere when it comes time to make your payment.

44 – Pad Your Estimates

When estimating costs for expenses that aren’t fixed, such as rent or salaries, pad your estimation because things usually cost more than expected. For advertising and marketing expenses, take your estimate and double it. For legal and licensing expenses, triple them. They may not cost this much but at least you’re covered if they exceed expectations.Detailed research will help you with this so you can be fairly accurate and there will be no sudden surprises.

45 – Plan To Survive Shortfalls with a Credit Line

Arrange a credit line with your bank when things are good and you don’t need it. Then, when you experience a shortfall, as every entrepreneur inevitably does at some time, you can borrow only what you need. The reason this is a good strategy is that banks are wary of lending to creditors who need it immediately. It’s much easier to establish a credit line when you don’t need it.

46 – Get into a Regular Billing Cycle

Create policies for billing clients if your goods or services are such that you receive payment later. When you get payments later, you’re extending credit to your clients. Like any creditor, you need to regularly invoice them and create clear policies for dealing with late payments. Unpaid invoices (Accounts Receivable) can really hurt your cash flow when they get out of hand.

47 – Plan Taxes Well in Advance

One thing that’s not a financial uncertainty is taxes. Tax season rolls around every year at a set time, so plan ahead. There’s nothing worse than being caught unprepared when tax season hits. Put together all the resources you need including any legal help. It’s good to also set aside some extra cash for tax season in case you have to pay more than expected.

48 – Don’t Set and Forget

Create a budget and revise it constantly. Revisit it each month to see what has changed, as some things certainly will. Update your budget based on the activity of the last month. Also take into consideration any changes in your company that may affect finances, such as new staff or new regular clients.

49 – Scan Your Paperwork

Scan all financial paper work and back it up. This makes it easy to store and retrieve financial documents. You can also easily share documents with potential lenders or others who need to see them. Scanning saves paper and protects you if you get audited.

50 – Record Your Finances

Record your finances honestly and keep in mind that someday a banker may be pouring over them, deciding whether or not to offer you a loan. If you think about this future banker when you make financial decisions, it may influence you to make decisions that are sound now.

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Conclusion

Running a small business isn’t easy and you’ll find many roadblocks along the way. But these 100 survival tips are enough to get you started with conquering those challenges and getting past many of the common mistakes business owners and entrepreneurs make.

Here are a couple suggestions for using these tips to your best advantage:

1. For each of the categories of tips, try picking one tip that you know you need to work on and explore it in more depth.

2. You can also pick a whole category and devote a week or month to implementing some of the tips.

Good luck in your business ventures and here’s to your business success!

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