Category Archive: Starting Your Own Business

NEVER Put Your Home in Jeopardy to Hire a Coach

NEVER Put Your Home in Jeopardy to Hire a CoachOne of the big scams I see running rampant in the online community are so-called coaches who walk people through selling their assets so that their targets can afford to pay them.  

People pull out their credit cards, ready and willing to buy a dream. It’s like crack or cocaine. They figure if they just hire the RIGHT coach they’ll get the results that the other coaches haven’t gotten them so far. Unfortunately, they put themselves and their financial futures at stake when they sign up for some of these programs, which can easily range in price from tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.  

These coaches are selling a dream. They are selling the magic. If you just do “X” in your business, then you are going to be wildly successful. Some will pull out hard sales techniques, even when it means that the prospect may lose their home, have to declare bankruptcy… or worse.  

It must be a crime, you’re thinking. Actually, it might not be. People are signing up for programs they can ill afford on the chance that learning how to do this one thing, or “fixing their mindset”, is somehow going to magically catapult their earnings into the stratosphere. Consumer protection? Well, that is a legal question for an attorney, but good luck getting too far, unless your coach really doesn’t show up.  

It’s on you, the consumer, to decide how much to spend for coaching. I am not saying you shouldn’t spend money on coaching, rather, be mindful of your budget. There are many coaches in a wide variety of price ranges who can make a massive difference in your business. They can help you grow your business and really get great results.  

I know that this isn’t a sexy post, and some people who are reading it may be wondering if there really are people out there desperate enough to hire a coach like this. The answer is yes, unfortunately so.

You just need to be extremely aware of what you’re spending your money on. And if you’re feeling pressured in a way that feels intimidating, it’s time to cut the cord. Run in the opposite direction. Seek legal counsel if you feel a need, but don’t go risking your home to pay for any coach.

I’ve heard too many stories around this, and it breaks my heart. Coaches aren’t magic makers, we are advisors and consultants who have some experience. With that experience, we can suggest changes to your life and business that can help you make great strides, but only if you actually do the work.

That’s the real kicker – actually showing up and doing the work. When you do that you will be invincible.


Have you been using Google as your business consultant?
Are you ready to start working with an expert in business instead?
Schedule a consult with me today.

Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley Lynn GrayHaley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/never-put-home-jeopardy-hire-a-coach/

The Biggest Business Mistakes I’ve Made – and the Lessons I’ve Learned

~by Haley Lynn Gray~

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What I’ve learned in business is that there will be plenty of failures and a few successes. Sometimes the greatest success is learning from the failures, because those will frequently teach us the most profound lessons.

I think that because I have such a fabulous education in business, I was able to avoid a number of business mistakes. But I made others because I never learned about those in school. If only it were that easy.

Here are some common business mistakes … I hope you can learn from them as I did.

1. Think carefully when choosing a business partner. If you do end up with one, make sure you have solid, legal agreements in place about each partner’s responsibilities within the business and who will pay for what and when they will pay for it. Also decide what happens if one of you wants to leave the business and under what conditions that they can leave. Every new business usually starts as a honeymoon period, but when things get difficult or uncomfortable, or even if they go incredibly well, someone is inevitably going to want or need to leave. Negotiate those terms and conditions before you start doing business.

In my case, there’s no horrible story to tell. My former business partner is really an amazing woman and still a dear friend. But we made a mistake. When she was no longer involved in day-to-day operations and had no idea what was going on, we didn’t realize that she needed to be done and leave the company.   

business mistakes2. Watch those personal guarantees.  You incorporate your business to separate your personal and business life, but this can backfire on you. Unfortunately, banks will often want you to sign a personal guarantee for any loans your business has. Landlords may want you to sign a personal guarantee, and may insist on it. This can expose you and your family to liabilities if you aren’t careful. We learned a pretty nasty lesson from a company credit card after I sold one of my businesses. Instead of the bank being willing to negotiate the balance down or have my business partner (a minority owner) pay a minority amount, they essentially forced her to pay the full amount due.

Not only do you need to watch for a personal guarantee, but you also need to watch for what KIND of personal guarantee it is. Make sure they can’t put a lien on your home or anything that may cause you to lose everything (if you aren’t careful).

3. Hire only the employees and contractors you desperately need. Over hiring and paying too much in salaries cost me a LOT of money. That was my mistake. Once you hire someone, if they aren’t 150% subscribed, they will tend to do less and less work, even while trying to convince you that they are fully engaged. They’ll come in late and leave early if they think you aren’t watching. Sales staff may not do the work they’ve been hired to do at all — and may spend a tiny fraction of the hours they are supposed to be spending in sales, actually… Doing sales!

4. Be a strict pain in the butt with your employees.  It’s your money; spend it wisely. If you have someone who doesn’t show up and doesn’t perform well, then let them go. If they are awesome, reward them appropriately. You won’t know until they’ve started working for you, unfortunately, so make sure you fire quickly if you need to. Many times you’ll find people who come in late, surf the internet, talk on the phone, take long lunches, and leave early. Then they get upset when you track those things.

I held onto people I should have fired long before. I did this despite being advised otherwise and knowing I was being too loyal to people who weren’t loyal to me or the company.

5. You need processes and procedures, in addition to customers.  Don’t underestimate how much marketing you will need to do to grow your business in the beginning. People will want to do business with you, so make sure you are available. I tried to hire sales people while focusing on the operations. I learned that you can usually hire for operations more easily than you can hire for sales.  

6. Watch how and where you spend money to grow your business.  It can be seductive to spend money on advertising, after all, money in yields money out, right? Well, sometimes. Not always. I invested heavily in certain things that did not yield any clients. The most obvious ways of growing your business don’t always work according to plan. It can be incredibly tempting to try to buy your way into getting lots of customers instead of focusing on the face to face marketing piece.

business mistakes7. Pay your taxes to the IRS on time.  The IRS gets really testy if you don’t pay your payroll taxes on time. Their customer service sucks and they want their money, like now. This is one debt you can’t ever get out of, and it can bankrupt your company.

8. Be wary of all people who come bearing money.  Factoring Loans and other high interest loans can seem like a godsend to keep your business going just when you need it. The loan providers will set up auto drafts on your accounts and pull the money out when you least need them to pull it. They can also use some very heavy handed tactics to collect money, which can technically be illegal in some states. I had one case in which I backed out of a loan because they misstated the interest rate. I was told 10%, and it was actually just over 40% when I read the fine print. Oh, and yes, always, always read the fine print.

9. Never keep your personal and business accounts at the same bank.  I had a friend who learned this one the hard way. If the business is late on a payment for anything, then the bank might help itself to your personal accounts. That caused her a great deal of pain when trying to pay her mortgage after the bank had just sucked all of the available cash out of her account.

10. Separate your personal and business finances.  It can be very, very difficult to separate them if you don’t keep track of expenses, and you may lose a great deal of your deductions if you don’t track the expenses. Separate your personal and business finances as far from one another as you possibly can.

Accountants often have it right when they suggest being as conservative in your business as possible. I’ve made most of these mistakes or have seen them made. It is funny how, despite the best possible education, it is still quite easy to make mistakes and do them with a great deal of flair.


Have you been using Google as your business consultant?

Are you ready to start working with an expert in business instead?

Schedule a consult with me today.


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Meet the Author: Haley Lynn Gray

Haley Lynn GrayHaley helps female entrepreneurs create a strategy plan for their businesses – so they can make enough money to spend quality time with their family, pay for their children’s dance lessons, pay bills – and not worry about where the next client is coming from.

Haley is a serial entrepreneur and founder of Leadership Girl. She helps other entrepreneurs build their businesses by sharing the benefits of her business education and experience through Business Coaching.

Whether you want to get a new business off the ground or expand an existing business, Haley can assist you.

Connect with Haley:


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/biggest-business-mistakes-lessons-learned/

4 Signs Your New Business Needs a Major Overhaul

~by Anica Oaks~

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Statistics show that 50 percent of fledgling businesses within the United States die during their first five years. This is a sobering fact, but it is also enlightening. Fledgling businesses don’t just fail overnight. It is a gradual process. If a new business owner notices signs that their business is not going in the right direction, they need to take steps to overhaul their company. Some indicators of a failing business include:

  • Slowing Growth
  • Lack of Innovation
  • Low Cash Flow
  • Poor Cash Management

If you notice any of these signs, you need to be proactive about addressing these issues as soon as possible.

new business

Responding to Slow Business Growth

A business may have an amazing product, stellar customer service and a vision for the future. However, if it’s not making its numbers or growth has stalled, the time has come to re-examine and reevaluate the situation. All businesses have space to improve, but not all business owners have the vision to know where to look for improvement strategies. Some strategies for an overhaul may include:

  • Improving an underdeveloped brand
  • Improving team collaboration
  • Identifying and eliminating inefficient or impractical business practices
  • Creating long-term and short-term goals

Don’t be afraid to critically assess your core business principles, strategies and organization if you think your business is beginning to flounder.

Encouraging Innovation

A business that is not innovating is dying. Many mistakenly equate a lack of innovation within a company to a failure to execute innovative ideas provided by employees or by executives. In most cases, the problem is deeper and is connected to the lack of an innovation strategy.

Innovation strategies are a set of coherent, mutually reinforcing policies designed to achieve a goal. Overhauling the way a business innovates may require hiring individuals who are trained to think in an innovative way. This includes those who have received the proper education, such as an online bachelor’s of business administration.

Low Cash Flow

new businessMany failing businesses have cash flow problems because they wait too long to look at their financial statements. When they do, their financial problems have reached a point where they become too big to handle. Fledgling businesses often have this problem because they have not yet built up a cash reserve. One option could be to take out a business loan.

Poor Cash Management is a Systemic Problem

Just about every business has some cash flow problems. Failing businesses have a persistent cash flow problem connected to structural issues in the way that cash is managed. The worst thing a new business can do is ignore the situation. Instead, develop a solution by contacting a financial group, developing a good relationship with banks and creating an invoice system. Your invoice system should have clear pay dates as well as punishments for late payments and incentives for early payments.

It can seem discouraging to hear that 50 percent of businesses fail within five years. But this also means that 50 percent of businesses succeed for longer than five years. Recognizing problems and taking steps to correct the wrong is a key part of making a fledgling business successful for the long haul.


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Anica Oaks


Meet the Author: Anica Oaks

Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean and anything outdoor related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica here.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/signs-new-business-needs-major-overhaul/

Why Entrepreneurs Need to Focus on Risk Management First

~by Mila Sanchez~

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If you have dreams of starting your own business, or have already opened one, you know there are so many things you have to think about. For instance: what do you want to sell? What service do you want to provide? Where do you want your business to be located? How do you reach your intended customers? But, the thing you need to think about most is risk management.

risk managementAs any entrepreneur knows, there is a lot of risk involved in starting a business. In fact, nine out of 10 startups will fail. This sounds like a scary number, but don’t let it hinder your drive. However, do let it highlight the importance of addressing and managing your risks as you go forward with your ideas. Project managers for established businesses know the sensitive and serious nature of analyzing and managing their risks, and the basic principles can really be applied to startups as well. What else is a startup other than a big project you hope succeeds?!

Here are some risks you should be aware of so you can best prepare for and manage them.

Researching the market and demand

Taking a good look at the market and demand is vital when determining if your business idea is a viable and sustainable one. Is there a demand for the product you want to offer? Is that demand already being filled by other businesses? If so, what is it about your product that makes it stand out among the rest?

For example, sushi is constantly growing in popularity. But if your city of 200,000 people already has 20 sushi restaurants with moderate traffic, there is a good chance that opening another restaurant dedicated to that delectable delight won’t have outstanding success. Unless you can guarantee that your product is different and better than the rest out there, it might be better to work on a business plan that addresses a demand not already being filled by others. By figuring this out in the beginning, you can eliminate some of the risk of your business failing.  

Identifying your customers and outreach

Whether your business is offering an entirely original idea or a new product you’ve invented, you need to identify your customers. Who is your target customer? Why is your product something that they need? How are you going to reach them and provide your product?

Luckily, it’s easy to research these questions with the internet. You can see if people are complaining about the problem you are trying to solve or having conversations surrounding the idea. Once you can see who might want your product or service, it’s time to find the best way to reach these potential customers. If you can’t effectively reach them, your business will never have a fighting chance. The risk here is your new product or service and whether or not it is going to be successful; researching and finding your target customer is going to make planning for reducing this risk a lot easier.

Keeping your business safe

risk managementWith technology creating so much access these days, starting a business has become easier than ever before. Almost all functions and information on the “paper” side of your business is done through computer programs and online, making many processes efficient and accessible. Unfortunately, all of your sensitive business information being digital makes you a target for cybercrime, and small businesses and startups are especially vulnerable.

Cybercrime is a huge risk, and if you are attacked, it can destroy your business and even your livelihood, as you are likely heavily invested in your own business. Using proper firewalls and security encryptions are essential to keeping your business data and your customers’ credit and debit card information safe. Routinely running virus and malware scans will also help prevent and stop attacks to your hardware and software.

Knowing and managing your risks will help set you up for success as you ride the rollercoaster that is starting a business. With the help of technology, you can easily research your market and demand, find and reach your customers, and secure your business data. The more you can plan and control these risks surrounding your startup, the more you are setting your new business up for success.


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Mila Sanchez


Meet the Author: Mila Sanchez

Mila Sanchez is a writer with a BA in English Linguistics living in beautiful Boise, ID. Her ambitions include traveling the world, studying languages and taking pictures of her dog, Baymax. Connect with her on Twitter and Instagram!


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/entrepreneurs-focus-risk-management/

How to Start Up a Green Accommodation Business

~by Lillian Connors~

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green accommodation businessAccording to a recent report, green hotels have become the most popular option when it comes to choosing accommodations. In fact, every fourth person in America will consciously search for green accommodations in order to make their travels eco-friendlier. That being said, it’s no wonder that green accommodation businesses are popular among entrepreneurs. It turns out that going green isn’t just good for the planet, but for your entrepreneurial spirit, too.

So, if you’re interested – here are several things to consider when starting up a green accommodation business.

Waste management

Recycling is the first thing that crosses anyone’s mind when eco-friendliness is mentioned, and it really is one of the most important values to promote in your green business. You can start by providing every room with recycling baskets for different types of waste so the sorting process can start as early as possible. Don’t forget to put bins in all other areas of your hotel.

Try to opt for recycled materials as much as possible. After all, that’s the best way to set up an example both for your guests and your employees. Of course, the most important thing is to put an effort into minimizing waste production completely. So buy in bulk whatever you can to minimize packaging, and avoid disposable items whenever you can.

Keep your maintenance green

The way you clean your green hotel matters too – green cleaning products and practices are a must for every responsible accommodation business owner. The same goes for paint and pesticides – keep it healthy and natural and not only will you protect the environment, but also the health of your guests and employees. The air inside your facilities will be cleaner, as well, so there’s literally nothing to lose here.

Also, don’t forget that your maintenance staff is your greatest ally in the process of keeping your accommodation business green. Instead of calling them only once something gets broken, try to make them work so they can prevent problems since this is the most important thing in sustainability. Your staff should monitor your energy and water usage and constantly work on improvements in terms of efficiency and sustainability.

Always reuse

green accommodation businessLinen reuse programs are becoming common in many green accommodations, and many guests will be more than happy to cooperate on this one. Just make sure you hang a sign saying that sheets and towels should be used more than once, and watch this water and time-saving measure work like a charm.

Furthermore, when equipping your facility, you can reuse your old beds and mattresses and thus save a ton of money and avoid contributing to the landfills. It takes over 20 years for a mattress to decompose, so if you have to purchase new ones, make sure they’re durable and recyclable. With this in mind, you should learn about best mattresses for the money and choose the ones that will complement your eco-business perfectly.

Save water and energy

Low-flow shower heads and toilets and sink aerators are just some of the things you can install in your accommodation facility in order to reduce water usage. These updates will provide your guests with sufficient comfort, save water, and reduce your water bills at the same time.

The same goes for energy efficiency – employing a building energy management system to give you an overview of the energy consumed throughout your premises might be just the thing for your green business. Switch to LED lighting, use drapes or window films to reduce heating and cooling bills, opt for energy efficient appliances, and, most importantly – educate your guests and staff on making the most of it.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a part of your business strategy or the act of your altruism, sustainability really is leading the pack in accommodation business. Besides, it’s a responsible thing to do and beneficial to the planet, so why not give it a shot and start your own green accommodation business?


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Lillian ConnorsMeet the Author: Lillian Connors

As the Co-Editor of BizzMarkBlog, Lillian Connors believes that the question of business goes far beyond the maximization of profit through different money-grabbing ploys. Instead, she likes to think that ethical principles should be at the core of every commercial venture, paving the way for much more balanced distribution of wealth on a global scale. 
You can check her out on LinkedIn.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/how-start-green-accommodation-business/

A Beginner’s Guide to Starting an Online Business

~by Joan Herbert~

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You’ve decided that you want to start an online business. With the changing economy, the world of commerce is moving out of brick and mortar stores and into the web. With the digital revolution, many professionals are finding out that they can earn a decent living working remotely, from the comfort of their own homes.

online businessMost freelance writers, web designers and coders don’t have a business location and just work from home. Many run their businesses entirely online and take advantage of the multitude of communications options and marketing platforms available today.

Decide What You Are Selling

Are you providing a service or a product? You need to make sure that there is a demand for whatever it is you’re selling and that people will pay for the product or service. You can take advantage of search engines to see what people are searching for, and whether the product or service you’re selling is trending up or down. Once you settle on a product, you can begin planning your marketing strategy.

Find Your Audience

The first thing you need to do is find out who it is that is going to want to pay you for your product or service. You can use search engine keywords to find out what is trending, who is searching, and who is currently providing services to them. Find out where your target audience is most likely to see advertisements. Is it television? Facebook? Pop-up ads? Once you identify your potential customers and find out how to reach them, you can start sourcing your products or designing your services.

Design Your Site

An essential element of any online business is going to be your website. There are many options for this. You can set up an Amazon affiliate site, a Shopify or Etsy site, or you can spend the time building your own independent site. You may need to employ someone with expertise to help design your site and make it accessible, but having a strong website is crucial to strong sales numbers.

Get People to Your Site

online businessOnce your site is up and running and you’re ready to begin selling your product or providing your service, you need to go and get your customers. You need to find them where they are likely to be spending their time, and then you need to market appropriately. If your target audience spends most of their time on Facebook, you need to focus your attention on Facebook content that is easily sharable. If they’re on Twitter, that’s where you need to be, too. The key is to put your advertising in front of your target audience instead of waiting for them to find you.

Build Your Reputation

Maintaining a high-quality product and excellent customer service is important for any business, but it’s critical when you’re just starting out. You want to be certain that your customers are satisfied, and that they will leave good reviews. This may mean going above and beyond, and sometimes losing money to replace a product or redo a contract job, but it can be well worth it in the end. If your customers are upset, they’re going to leave a bad review, which can destroy a new business. Keep your customers happy at all costs in the beginning, at least until your business is thriving and sustainable.

Follow Up with Customers

If they liked your product or service, they’ll buy it again. Send out email advertising or discounts for return customers in order to increase sales. Reward customer loyalty with exclusive savings or market related products directly to them to keep your sales strong.


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Joan HerbertMeet the Author: Joan Herbert

Joan is an Assistant Manager at Bank-Opening-Times.co.uk, a curious individual, avid reader, and a passionate creative writer.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/beginners-guide-online-business/

Professional Business Advice for New Entrepreneurs

~by Rachelle Wilber~

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Contrary to the opinion of most people, being a successful entrepreneur requires commitment, sacrifice and knowledge. Most people leaving their careers to try their hand at business are not ready or willing to accept responsibilities that come with starting an enterprise. They just want to fly loose, enjoy the freedom they experience and expect to make more money than they could get in formal employment. Unfortunately, most of them fail, not because they do not have what it takes to succeed, but because they do not have the right attitude.

new entrepreneurs

Here are practical professional tips to help new entrepreneurs start and develop their enterprise.

Develop a Business Goal

To have concrete plans that are core to success in business, you need to have a vision of what you are working to achieve and develop solid business objectives. Although you might have to review the goals regularly and make relevant changes, having a compelling initial business goal is crucial. If you do have a formal job, focus on establishing a business that helps you attain personal goals quickly.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job

If you start a new business while still working, you will have an opportunity to learn new techniques, allocate additional finances, build confidence, and adopt the right business strategies. Since you are likely to make a few mistakes before learning the tricks of the new venture, your job ensures you maintain a healthy level of financial stability, despite potential losses as a result of your mistakes. However, you should leave your job and concentrate on routine business operations if the entity is performing well.

Focus on Creating a Unique Business

new entrepreneursThe similarity in business operations might take you nowhere. In the present times, prospects have a broad range of products or services from which to choose, so you need to set your business apart by offering superior products and excellent customer service. Whenever possible, ensure you specialize in goods or services that are in high demand. If you cannot beat big businesses by offering better prices, you can only win more clients through reliability and quality service.

Advancing Professional Knowledge and Skills

You should also consider taking a business course to gain more knowledge to improve your business. Fortunately, you can earn a master’s in business by taking online studies. There are a number of online master’s programs designed to suit the needs of young entrepreneurs who wish to succeed in business. Preparing yourself by going to college and learning about your trade is a great help for any entrepreneur.

The secret to successful entrepreneurship lies in the ability to learn, plan, assess progress, and adopt the right strategies. You will indeed perform well if you observe these guiding tips.


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Rachelle WilberMeet the Author: Rachelle Wilber

Rachelle Wilber is a freelance writer living in the San Diego, California area. She graduated from San Diego State University with her Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Media Studies. She tries to find an interest in all topics and themes, which prompts her writing. When she isn’t on her porch writing in the sun, you can find her shopping, at the beach, or at the gym.

Follow Rachelle here:


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/business-advice-new-entrepreneurs/

Business Branding: How to Make Your Company Really Stand Out

~by Kara Masterson~

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In 2017, the market is positioned in such a way that anyone can easily get the steps on how to build a business. With more and more people creating avenues of entrepreneurship, the competition continues to rise. The competitive nature of business can be enough for many people to decide to fail. However, if you’re strategic in your business branding approach, you can stand out from the crowd and be successful.

business branding

Use these tips to help you climb the ladder of vocational success.

Specific Niche

Because business owners really want to make as much money as possible, many make the mistake of throwing their net with hopes of catching everyone. However, with business, you’ve got to define your target audience and dominate this market with your content. Focus specifically on an extremely targeted niche. There are many smaller niches within one topic and you have a better chance of gaining a devoted following with this route. For example, there are thousands of beauty bloggers on the internet. Instead of focusing on all things regarding beauty, a smart beauty blogger might want to focus in on one niche such as lipstick. There are a million avenues to go with using this one topic and it’s easier to dominate this one topic.

Value Offered

Before anyone is going to pull out their wallet and hand you their hard-earned money, they want to know that you deserve it. In most cases, you’ll have to share the value you offer before they’re convinced. A credit repair firm might want to share the number of years behind their educational background and experience. When it comes to firms like this it is a good idea for them to include things such as reviews and the benefits of their services overall. If people feel as though they’re receiving a ton of value, they’ll be more likely to go with a route that seems like a one-stop shop for their needs.

Customer Service Policies

Customer service is key. The customer needs to always come first. If people feel as though their business isn’t appreciated or valued, they’re less likely to come back. Be intentional about treating your customers well, whether it’s a phone conversation or in-person interaction. Kindness, courteousness and empathy will take any business further than an amazing product will. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have an amazing product offering. Just make sure the customer service component is just as strong so your company will stand out.

Standout Offerings

business brandingDon’t be afraid to offer a really awesome bonus to those who choose to patronize your business. Your standout offerings might come in different forms. If you own a clothing store, you could offer a certain discount for every person you bring into the shop. A car dealership experience could also include champagne and chocolates after the purchase of a car. There should be a nice incentive that’s associated with your company that excites and motivates people to get in line.

Expert Positioning

When you focus on dominating one smaller niche, you have an opportunity to position yourself as an expert on that one subject. Create content that displays your knowledge on the subject matter. On your website, include a blog that’s regularly updated. Consider writing an e-Book to give away for free. Get in front of the camera and begin using YouTube and video marketing to share your expertise with those who need it.

These five components will truly help your company get into the limelight and stand out among the competition. When you narrow your focus and keep it steady, you’ll be able to understand the needs of those in your field and be the answer they’re looking for. When you solve a problem, you become the expert and go-to person moving forward. As a growing business looking to be profitable, you’ll be in the best position to do so.


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Kara MastersonMeet the Author: Kara Masterson

Kara Masterson is a freelance writer from Utah. She enjoys playing tennis and spending time with her family.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/business-branding-make-company-stand-out/

Ready to Succeed? 4 Steps to Starting Your Own Small Business

~by Hannah Whittenly~

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If you don’t like your current job, don’t think you can advance in your field, or are just looking for more control over your professional life, it may be worthwhile to start your own business. However, before you start a company, it is critical that you think your plan through.

small business

What are some items to consider before you enter the marketplace?

1. Do You Have a Business Plan?

The first thing you need to do is create a business plan that addresses what your company does, how it does it and how it can be profitable. While it doesn’t have to be an in-depth document, it should address how the company will make money. For instance, it should detail whether the company will use generated revenue through memberships, subscriptions or sales made by affiliates.

It should also account for competition that already exists or competitors that may enter the market in the future. Furthermore, it should cover what the company will do if a new company or technology disrupts the current dynamic of the market. For instance, what will the business do if demand drops or a competitor engages in a price war to win your market share?

2. Make Sure That You Have Licenses and Credentials

Before you start your company, you may need to get licenses from your town, county or state. You may also need to register with the federal government to get an employer identification and tax number. In addition to getting the proper licenses for your business, it may be necessary to acquire or update professional licenses to increase credibility with customers.

If you plan on using third-party vendors to provide food, do contract work or provide other services, you should make sure that they are properly credentialed. This can easily be done through a vendor credentialing service. The last thing you want is to be liable for work someone else did because they didn’t have insurance or because of a paperwork error.

3. How Will You Market Your Business?

small businessStarting a business is only half the battle when it comes to getting sales. If no one knows that your company exists, you won’t make the money needed to stay in operation. This means that you will need to market either through radio or television advertisements, online ads or by putting posters on telephone poles in your local area.

When creating a marketing plan, you should strive to advertise in places where your target market spends time. If you are targeting younger people, that may mean advertising on social media or putting physical advertisements in schools or in youth centers. If you are targeting older people, you may want to advertise during afternoon television programming or near the assisted living facility.

4. What Is Your Customer Service Plan?

At some point, you will run into a customer who isn’t satisfied or who may need help making a purchasing decision. At first, you might personally handle complaints, concerns or requests. However, as your company grows, you may need to move into a call center or use social media to respond promptly to the needs of your customers.

Neglecting to meet the needs of your patrons is one of the easiest ways for a business to fail. No matter how good your products or services are, no one wants to spend money to be lied to, misled or otherwise treated as if they don’t matter.

Starting a company can be a great way to advance your ideas or gain more control over your professional life. While everyone dreams of being rich and successful, it is important that you cover the basics, like having a business plan and ensuring that your company can legally operate first.


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Hannah WhittenlyMeet the Author: Hannah Whittenly

Hannah Whittenly is a freelance writer and mother of two from Sacramento, CA. She graduated from the University of California-Sacramento with a degree in Journalism.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/4-steps-starting-own-small-business/

Why You Need to Define Your Purpose and Your Promise

~by Charlene Norman~

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Most of us enter self-employment or entrepreneur-land with an idea for a product or service. And whatever it is we decide to deliver has a 98% chance of being a “me-too” version of something already in existence. Someone else near us or close to us is selling pretty much the same thing. (If you do not believe me, just google your product or check the phone book.) Competition is all around, and one of the biggest things we need to understand is the concept of differentiation.

your purpose

The ONLY thing that stands out, that sets you apart, that makes your product or service different, is YOU. Your personality, your amazing ability to save your customer time or money, and/or your unique spin on the products and services. You see, you are not selling JUST your products and services. You are selling you. That means your trustworthiness, your personality, your credibility, your morals, your character, your view of the world and your ethics. Your good days and bad, your good moods and cranky ones, your dreams to make the world a better place, your grooming, your hobbies and in fact, pretty much everything about you. Once you completely understand THAT, everything falls into place. Differentiating yourself from everyone else becomes real easy.

There are two colossal reasons for dealing with differentiation early in your entrepreneur journey. Differentiation helps you ensure you continually focus on standing out (You will call that your Purpose). And differentiation helps you set the direction of what you ultimately deliver (You will call that your Promise).

your purposeLet’s take a simple example. These days, there seems to be a Dental office on nearly every corner. Everyone has a sign. All the signs say pretty much the same thing: “Miss Evelyn Entrepreneur, Family Dentist”. If you were a Family Dentist wanting to establish your own practice, what is so different about you? Now, take a look at this sign: “Family Dental Group. We make smiles every day”. Notice the different promise that is made? The tone is different; the promise is different and accordingly, so is the purpose.

If you are truly in the business of making smiles every day, your whole focus, the way you practice your craft, the way your employees work and interact should be different from other family dentists. Think about your potential customers. Everyone likes a smile. How much easier would it be to entice future customers with the promise of we make smiles every day? How much easier would it be to attract, inspire and manage employees who want to make smiles every day? How much easier would it be to keep your customers and expand your business when you know that what you are passionate about is making smiles daily?

Please do not restrict yourself to thinking exclusively about the service or the product you deliver. Reflect on the concept you are providing to your customers. Think about your Purpose. I like Kellogg’s purpose: “Nourishing families so they can flourish and thrive”. No mention of breakfast cereal! Instead, there is a promise to make a difference. This is your opportunity to do the same thing. Be funny or be serious, be profound, be creative. Just do not limit yourself to only describing the service or product you deliver. You are delivering much more than your service or product. You are promising to make a difference.

“DO NOT GO WHERE THE PATH MAY LEAD, GO INSTEAD WHERE THERE IS NO PATH AND LEAVE A TRAIL”  ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

your purposeBegin thinking about an easy-to-say, 30-second commercial. Some people refer to this as your Elevator Speech, others your Unique Selling Proposition. I call it a commercial because it is your personal advertisement. It is your response to “What do you do?” If you cannot say it in 30 seconds or less, your potential customers will walk away. If you fall into the category of “well, what I do is complicated to explain, let me show you a video.” Shame on you. You will NEVER ever get a good level of business. If you cannot explain your reason for being in business in 30 seconds, why on earth would anyone want to watch your 15 minute video?

Your 30-second commercial is NOT about you, it’s about what you DO for your customer. So, use equal parts of emotion, visualization and fact. You want to grab the emotions, paint a picture, and roll in some facts. And yes, this is not an easy exercise. It will very likely take you a while to develop. Don’t worry, it’s an iterative process, and you’ll have many opportunities to rethink and refine.

Here’s an excellent exercise to get you started. Write out your business idea in terms of your Purpose and Promise. Now try to distill it into 50 words or less. Then take those 50 words and distill them to 25. Then into ten words or less.

Those final few words are what you are all about. Are what you are offering. Those final few words are either your Purpose driving you forward, your Promise to your customers, or both.

Your Purpose is a Sacred Promise. It guides ALL your decisions.


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Charlene NormanMeet the Author: Charlene Norman

Charlene is a CPA turned marketer turned business cheerleader and coach. Currently completing two of three books about buying 60, selling 10 and saving 30 companies, she now helps business owners who want to go to the next level.


Permanent link to this article: http://www.leadershipgirl.com/why-define-your-purpose-promise/

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