Archive for the 'business how-tos' Category

Baby steps for mompreneurs to create a business plan

Have you been putting off writing your business plan?biz-plan-graphic

Are you thinking that only “big businesses” looking for funding need to develop plans?

Or maybe you’re so stressed out, overwhlemed and busy that you can’t handle any sort of plan since you’re so busy putting out fires.

Well, any of these options makes you a very normal mom entrepreneur. But it’s hard to underestimate the value of having a plan for your business. Think focus. Think milestones. Think actions that actually lead to results. Think about finally getting what you want in life, rather than running as fast as you can from work to sporting events to client meetings to the dinner table.

I just interviewed Melodie Lane of the One Page Business Plan Company on my Blog Talk Radio show, and she shared several simple ideas and great resources to help mom entrepreneurs create a business plan that includes all aspects of their lives and business.

You can listen to the show, which is part of my WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series, here.

Effective Mompreneurs Have Effective Business Plans (and you can, too)

One of the simplest and most effective things I’ve done for my business is to finally sit down and write a business plan. I avoided doing this for three years. I had all sorts of reasons why I didn’t think it was necessary, and I had even more ideas about how hard it would be to do. Silly me.

I can’t wait to interview Melodie Lane, National Marketing Manager from the “One Page Business Plan” Company for my next teleseminar in the WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series. This will be the third installment in the WoMEN series, and it will take place next Tuesday, April 28th, at Noon ET on my BlogTalkRadio show.

I had the good fortune of meeting Melodie on twitter (no surprise there!). Here’s a little background on her so you will know where she’s coming from and a picture of her with her four fabulous boys:

melodie-lane

Three and a half years ago, Melodie was launching her last business as an independent project manager and attended a local workshop on how to write a “One Page Business Plan.” There she met Jim Horan, founder and CEO of the “One Page Business Plan.” Jim became her first client and dear friend. Today, Melodie is an integral part of the company as the National Marketing Manager. She loves doing this job within the sisterhood of moms and enjoys the opportunities the company provides her to do what she is passionate about-helping people turn their ideas into thriving businesses. She has also built two successful businesses from the ground up and considers herself an entrepreneur at heart. Melodie is a busy, single mom living in Pleasant Hill, CA with her four boys.

The “One Page Business Plan” Company is an international consulting firm with over 450 consultants. They specialize in helping business owners “re-think” their businesses and then help them construct extraordinarily clear and concise strategic business plans-on a single page. The original “One Page Business Plan” book has been an Amazon.com best seller for over 11 years. Their next book, due out this summer, is the “One Page Business Plan for Women in Business.”

You won’t want to miss this information-packed hour in which Lara asks Melodie to give us the scoop on why working moms need a business plan, how to create one that reflects your definition of success, and understanding how an effective business plan equals results.
Having my WAHMs create business plans for themselves is a foundational step in my coaching practice. The One Page Business Plan is the template I have all my clients use because it is simple and effective. Learn why this isn’t just something “the big companies” should care about, and why not having one could be the very thing standing between you and the success you deserve.
The schedule for the WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series continues every second and fourth Tuesday of each month at Noon ET. Visit www.whatmomentrepreneursneed.com for more information and to sign up for freebies that my speakers are sharing with our listeners!
Do you have a business plan? If not, what keeps you from creating one? If you do, what finally made you realize it was time to have one? I’d love to read your responses below.

How often does “no” mean “the end” for you?

It is totally human to get discouraged when something doesn’t go the way you want it to. Say you come up with an idea for the perfect getaway for you and your husband, and though it makes you sigh and get that faraway, relaxed look in your eyes when you discuss it, your hubby just hears the pricetag and the hassle of getting the kids cared for in order for you to be gone. “No,” he says. “Nuh-uh. Not happ’nin’.”

What do you do?

Well, Alisa Bowman of www.projecthappilyeverafter.com wrote a smart post about this topic today. Whether you’re letting a “no” cause you to stop in your relationship, in your pursuit of your dreams, or in your business deals, you are certainly missing out on some possibilities that exist for you if you’re willing to see no as a “detour” rather than the end.

Here’s the link to her post: http://www.projecthappilyeverafter.com/2009/04/dont-take-no-for-an-answer/

What do you do when you hear “No!”? How do you keep from quitting, getting derailed, giving up or getting stuck?

Twitter Basics for Mom Entrepreneurs

I am no twitter expert, but I do love it and am committed to spreading the word to mom entrepreneurs and working mothers everywhere who could benefit from twitter’s powerful marketing capabilities.twitterbutton

 

I have been asked by some of my clients and colleagues to provide some tips on how to get started using twitter. Here are some basics:

1. It is critical that you include a picture of yourself when you set up your twitter profile. People want to know you, and if you don’t use a picture they’re likely to ignore you and your fabulous posts.

2. Create your twitter “handle” (mine is mombizcoach), but include your real name in your profile. So you might use your company name as your twitter handle, but you’d still put your real name (like Lara Galloway) in your profile.

3. Write a short, catchy bio that tells what you want people to know about you. Browse the bios of others to get the idea.

4. Include your website address!!! Do not omit this! It’s critical!

5. Start browsing around profiles of people. For instance, you can click on my profile, look at my followers, and then click to follow anybody that interests you. You must follow in order to be followed, so get rolling!

6. People will follow you for a variety of reasons. Whatever the reason, it’s fine. You don’t have to feel like you are going to converse with every person who follows you or who you follow. The great thing about twitter is that you are basically creating links between yourself and zillions of other venues (people) to market yourself. Don’t get obsessed by the numbers or the idea of being popular, but don’t just follow 5 people either. If you’re just getting started, I recommend you find 50-100 people to follow. Thanks to good twitter etiquette, many of them will follow you back, thus increasing your sphere of influence.

7. There are two basic forms of communique in twitter: Replies (always begin with the @ symbol) and DMs (Direct Messages). Replies are going to show up everywhere in your “timeline” (same thing as the news feed in facebook). Some people also call the timeline your “twitterstream” or “twitstream”… It’s the information that is being updated in real time while you and the people you follow post updates.

8. If you want to have a private chat with someone, click on their name or their profile and click “message”. This is like sending them an email. No one else will read it.

9. If someone makes a post you would like to respond to, I recommend replying to it so it stays in the public stream. For instance, I type a post: “Getting ready to listen to the Barefoot Executive’s upcoming teleseminar on building your list.” If you follow me, this will show up in your timeline. You could hit “Reply” and then the message you post will be seen by all your followers and will therefore help spread the word. When you hit reply, “@mombizcoach” will show up so everyone reading will know that you were directing your response to me.

10. “RT” stands for “Retweet”. Everything you post is called a “tweet.” To Retweet (or to RT) is to embrace the pay-it-forward attitude of twitter, and doing so is good twitter citizenry. If I make a post and it shows up in your timeline, you can help me out by spreading the word, or “RT’ing” my post. So if I post: “Join me for the Mom Biz Coach Audio Blog that starts in 10 minutes on BlogTalkRadio! Please RT!” You could see that, and then you would post: “RT @mombizcoach: Join me for the Mom Biz Coach Audio Blog that starts in 10 minutes on BlogTalkRadio! Please RT!”

11. The rule on twitter is give, give, give before you ever hope to get. That means share thoughts, comments, information of value and help others so that when you need help, or when you want to promote yourself, you have a group of followers who respect you and are willing to support you. If you only get on twitter and keep promoting yourself without engaging in conversations occasionally or without providing some good, valuable content, people will stop following you or block you altogether.

If you’re a working mom and wondering how this whole twitter thing works and whether it could help you grow your business, I’d be happy to answer any of your questions. Just leave a comment below. And hey! Be sure to follow me on twitter (www.twitter.com/mombizcoach)!

The Mom Biz Coach Live on Blog Talk Radio

Last Thursday I had a few minutes to spare at the end of my coaching office hours, so I decided to become a Blog Talk Radio show host.

microphone

Yep, you read that correctly. My decision-making process was pretty much like: “Hmmm…This does look interesting. Others I trust think it’s the bomb. I guess I’ll do it.”

I’ve never hosted a radio show before.

I know next-to-nothing about Blog Talk Radio’s platform and how to utilize it effeciently.

But I set up a profile, gave my show a name, clicked a few times, and voila! Within minutes I became an internet radio show host.

Just for fun, I scheduled my first live broadcast for the next day. A few minutes before going live on the show, I dialed in on the “host line,” finished making a few bullet points about the topic I was covering (“The Top Mistakes Work at Home Moms Make”), and shortly thereafter hosted my very first Audio Blog on The Mom Biz Coach Blog Talk Radio Show.

What a hoot! I had no idea what I was doing beforehand. I didn’t wait until I had studied all the online tutorials that were offered. I didn’t research, ponder and analyze my topic and whether it was the best I could’ve chosen. And I didn’t write out a script to make sure I said everything perfectly.

Nope. I learn best by doing. I get things done by just doing them. I have a lot of fun this way, even though I am at certain risk of making mistakes. Sometimes I make really big mistakes that make me feel embarrassed for a while. Other times I enjoy myself in the moment, not putting too much pressure on myself to be perfect, and in those moments I’m usually happiest with who I am. Flaws/mistakes included.

If you’d like to listen in as I practice doing things I’ve never done before, I’ll be doing just that on Tuesday, 3/31/09 at 11:30 am ET. You can tune in by clicking http://www.blogtalkradio.com/MomBizCoach . I’m adding lots of new shows, so perhaps bookmark or make my show a favorite if you’d like to keep updated.

Wondering if your biz idea will sell?

If you are an entrepreneur, you’ve had the experience of being struck with a “bright idea” that you’re certain will make you money. Hopefully, lots of money.

mom-biz-coach-pile-o-money

Many of the mom entrepreneurs I work with have incredibly creative minds and come up with new ideas for their businesses all the time. That’s part of what makes being an entrepreneur so much fun. After all, it’s not often when you’re working for someone else that your ideas are valued as much as you’d like them to be. When you work for yourself, you have the opportunity to turn your great ideas into actual products and services you can sell.

But how do you know if your idea will make you money? Or to put it another way, what if nobody else thinks your idea is so great? How much time, money, and energy can you afford to put into a business or a new product or service that doesn’t sell?

Well, I’ll be honest with you. I don’t have a crystal ball and am not able to tell my coaching clients how to predict what the market will like or not like. I wish I could. But there are some easy, cheap (or free) steps you can take to be sure that you create a business, product or service the market will buy.

One of the first steps is to be clear on what your niche is and knowing what your niche market needs. If you just create a business idea and hope that someone buys it, you’re probably wasting your time and money. And these are two things mom entrepreneurs don’t have a lot of.

Secondly, it helps to utilize some of the free/cheap web tools that are out there to actually do a bit of market research before you spend money bringing your idea to reality. This research will save you time, energy, money and stress, so it is definitely worth doing beforehand!

I’ll be talking more about this in my upcoming teleseminar on Tuesday, March 24th at Noon. I’ve invited internet marketing guru Steve Weber (of www.weberinternetmarketing.com) to be my guest expert and to answer all of your questions about starting a business or creating a new product or service that will make you lots of money.

You can register for the teleseminar “Is Your Idea Viable?” by clicking here. The $19 fee will certainly pay for itself when you learn some of the marketing research techniques Steve and I use to be sure our own ideas will sell.

Steve and I will be taking questions from participants on the call (or via the webcast) and would love to help you with yours. When you register, you’ll get immediate access to the teleseminar information (including bridgeline and webcast access).

“Is Your Idea Viable?” is the first teleseminar in the WoMEN: What Mom Entrepreneurs Need teleseminar series I’m offering to mom entrepreneurs who want some short cuts and support in making their business incredibly successful this year. Visit my website to learn more about the series and see who’s up next on the agenda! The series debuts March 24 and continues every two weeks through December.

Are you toying around with a bright idea that you’d like to make a reality? What tools/strategies/methods do you use to test the market before you launch? Leave a comment below and share your questions or best practices.

Growing is messy business

If the state of my office is any indication, I’m experiencing a major growth spurt. And my mind is just about as cluttered as my desk.

messy-business-mom-biz-coach-ezineNow, as a Coach, I generally believe that clutter, chaos and disorganization are signs of something going wrong in a person’s life. These external signs often reflect some internal processes that aren’t being handled. But today I’m going to give you three reasons why I believe messiness can be a sign of good things.

 Three Reasons Messiness is Good
 
1.  Messiness = Growth
 
If you’re doing things right, you’re growing your business. I know, I know, call me crazy for talking about growth during a Recession (note the capital R), but it is possible. Growth can be a lot of different things, like building your client list, increasing your visibility to your market, expanding or adding to your revenue streams, and deepening your relationships with your networks.
 
When you grow your business, you wind up outgrowing the plans, systems and structures that used to support you. You drop a ball or two. You forget, resist or avoid important action items. You get overwhelmed and stick your head in the sand. In short, you make messes. Of course, when you realize this it’s time to enlist some help, delegate, perhaps hire a Coach to get you focused and back on track. But don’t forget to acknowledge that this is what happens when you grow your business!
 
2.   Messiness = Trying Something New
 
If your business is humming along perfectly, and you have the time to cross all your Ts and dot your Is, and you never drop the ball, or make a mistake, or lose a client, etc. you probably feel pretty great and quite comfortable. As well you should. You have a system in place that is working for you.
 
But no matter what your business is, chances are you can only keep doing the same thing (perfectly) for so long. Pressure from the market, your customers, the economy, and competition will eventually demand you to make changes in your offerings. When it’s time to do something new, you’ll probably make a mess or two. I’m always challenging my clients to be willing to make a mess, try something new, to get outside their comfort zone to explore some new possibilities. And hey–as Moms, we’re really good at cleaning up messes, so why not make a few?
 
3. Messiness = Possibilities
 
What we resist, persists. Are you spending a lot of time and energy trying to avoid messes? Are you putting off some new approach to your business or some new marketing strategy because it might get messy?
 
Several of my clients have been resisting getting into Social Networking for fear of it taking too much of their time, or because they don’t already know how to use it effectively. And others are still avoiding asking people they really want to work with to hire them. Why? If you fear not knowing how to do something, or looking stupid, or being rejected, you’re avoiding a potential mess that could result in some amazing possibilities.
 
Lots of possibilities are hiding in those messes.
What messes have you been making lately?

Let’s barter our way out of this recession

Happy New Year, Folks!

The New Year just about squeaked past me unnoticed since I’ve been travelling and visiting with family for the last two weeks. We just arrived home late last night after a sometimes thrilling trip across 750 miles of icy roads. Time spent relaxing, resting, eating, connecting, playing with family and friends caused a bit of a time warp.

One of the first blogs I read today was The Mogul Mom, authored by Heather Allard. I am so inspired by what this mom entrepreneur is doing to help other mom business owners. Heather has created a “Helping Out Directory” of mompreneurs who are willing to barter or trade their products and services in exchange for other products/services they need. What a brilliant idea!

As business owners, we all have to make choices about our priorities and what we can afford to spend on them. I know that I have a long list of business tasks I’d like to pass off to a VA, but haven’t done it yet for a number of reasons. I would gladly trade my coaching services in return for some VA assistance. I imagine that there are those of you whose businesses are in need of some marketing, web design/maintenance, bookkeeping, organization, etc. Would you be willing to exchange your services to get what you need?

If so, visit Heather’s blog, read about the “Helping Out Directory,” and add your name and information to her growing list. You might find something you need, and you might be able to lend a hand to someone else, all without exchanging a single penny.

Bartering is a great way of doing business when the economy is unstable. A sensible gut reaction to the recession is to tighten the belt and not spend if you can avoid it. But, putting off expenditures (especially investments, which pay you back in time) has its costs, too.  You owe it to yourself to get your business needs met, and bartering is a creative way to do just that. Consider what a system of bartering could make possible for you that you currently believe won’t happen given the circumstances.

Have you bartered for goods/services in the past, or are you bartering now? If so, let me know how it’s working for you and what sort of things you’re trading.

Got other creative ideas for meeting business needs in a recession? I’d love to hear them! Please share your comments here and consider subscribing to my blog (upper right hand corner of this page) to follow the responses of others.

Umm…225 views to my blog yesterday???

Holy smokes! I’m humbled! The most visitors I’ve had in a day before yesterday was 61. What happened?

Well, I checked out my stats, thinking something must be wrong or broken with WordPress. And then I saw that the referrer for most of those posts was StumbledUpon. I got Stumbled!

Aha!

Social Media and Viral Marketing strike again!

Now I’m writing a blog post talking about StumbledUpon. The blog post will automatically show up in several places, like my LinkedIn Profile, on my twitter updates, on my personal Facebook profile as well as on my Facebook for Business Page. And I’ll include tags for StumbledUpon and eventually install a widget here on the blog so that others can Stumble this post (although I’m having a technical difficulty with that widget right now…).

And I think that the source for all this Stumbling must have had something to do with my participation in an online twitter event last night. http://mommygossip-gno.blogspot.com/ hosted a “Girls’ Night Out” (or GNO) last night, where zillions of twitterers logged on at the same time and chatted about holiday shopping (among other things) while entering contests to win lots of free stuff made by some of the other mom entrepreneurs participating in the GNO. The activity was frenetic. I stepped away from the computer once for about five minutes and there were 96 new tweets to read. Geesh!

Within the space of an hour, I had a great time chatting with an online community about Christmas toys, chocolate, kids and their bedtime routines, how to stay fit, what to do if you’re laid off during the holidays, and ways to be grateful. I also found about 30 new twitterers I was interested in and decided to follow. And my total number of followers went from something like 350 at 8pm to 423 this morning! Whoa! I even connected with about five of these new followers and am excited about the possibilities of developing a better releationship with them over time.

I’m not a huge “numbers” person. Instead, I prefer building relationships with people. But Social Media and its viral marketing capabilities increase the total number of people I’m possibly interested in developing a relationship with. If ever there were a good excuse to believe in abundance, it’s when I think about all the possibilities that are out there for connecting with other mompreneurs and how we can all support each other!

Have you experienced a crazy jump in your online presence? If so, what happened? Was it intentional? What was the most significant value you realized from having your message/biz/profile reach more people? And how do you manage this increase in traffic?

The economy stinks, but you still need support

Let’s face it: right now, we’re all taking a look at what we can do without. We’re putting off buying goods and services we don’t really need. We’re reorganizing our budgets in a way to squeeze a little bit more blood from the turnip.

Here are a few things I’m willing to do without for a while:

1) New bedroom furniture. I’ve wanted to replace the hand-me-down college furniture we have (with the exception of our phenomenal walnut and mahogany sleigh bed my dear husband built with his own two hands) for about four years now. Yeah. Well, I guess I can wait a while longer.

2) A really swank pair of black boots and a nice winter coat to go with it. As much as I want them, I don’t need them and can get by with what I have just fine.

3) Travelling some place warm after the thrill of the upcoming holidays wears off and I’m really, really sick of snow and the cold, gray days. I’ll have to make peace with the weather outside and appreciate how much my three little kiddos love it.

4) Much needed home decor and an interior designer to tell me where to put it. A year after moving into our lovely new home, I haven’t hung a single thing on the walls. Would love to brighten them up since I’ll be spending a lot of time in here given #3.

I could go on and on.

I am not resentful about giving these things up. It’s simply a choice I’m making. By saying no to these things, I’m saying yes to several others. I feel very powerful about the choices I’m saying yes to.

But there are a few things I will not choose to live without. These are the things I need to support me beyond the obvious food, clothing and shelter expenses I pay each month. I need to see my friends and family back in the States. I allow the expense to drive there on occasion. (Yippee–gas prices are down, finally!) I pay for an international calling plan that allows me to connect and relate to my faraway friends and family. I will continue to pay for the exercise and yoga classes that help me stay strong and healthy. And I pay for my business coach, who helps me keep my focus, my resolve and allows me to work out the fears I have that could cause my life and my business to take a downturn along with the economy.

Any of the expenses I’m choosing to keep spending could be seen as luxury items by some that could be cut to save money. But I know that, for me, cutting those would cut too close to the bone. Such cuts would weaken me, and I’d have less of a chance to stay strong, healthy, and focused when times are tough (like now).

What are you cutting or choosing to do without?

There are lots of places in most of our budgets that could be made leaner.

However, cutting out the things in your life that support you in being strong, healthy and focused could have a detrimental effect.

For a limited time, I’m offering my coaching services at a minimal fee to those who need some support to get through these tough times. My normal fee for four-hourly sessions per month is $600. I’m offering a once-a-month Focus Call for individuals for $150.

Seriously, aren’t you worth one hour and $150/month? Get someone to support you so you can see the possibilities that are available to you now. I’d love to be that someone!

Please email me directly for more information: lara@mombizcoach.com. Of course, you can learn a bit more about my approach from my website: www.mombizcoach.com.

To your success!


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