Guest Post: Five Tips for Entrepreneurs

I was recently asked to contribute to an article about “Mompreneurs”, mothers who started their own businesses. The tips I came up with however, I feel are universal and I wanted to share them with anyone who has ambitions of creating their own business. There are many pros and cons about working for yourself, and I think self-employment has a lot to do with your personality and if you thrive under conditions of pressure, risk and flexibility. Running your own ship isn’t for everyone, but if you feel the itch and can’t seem to escape it, the tips below may help.

Tip 1

Think of what you love: Where is your passion, what do you spend time on, what do you read about and what do you research? I have always been passionate about nutrition and health as well as the biology behind good and poor nutrition. I was always reading about this, researching this, and found myself gravitating toward this in many aspects of my life. Starting a nutrition company was a perfect fit for my passion. Where is your heart and your interest/knowledge base? Simply, what do you love to do?

Tip 2

Start small and look for opportunity everywhere: friends, family, local shops, website, local business incubators. Just take one small step at a time. A well published college professor once told me that he was always so overwhelmed with writing a book that he would just write one page each day until he was done. Let it build gradually, get tons of feedback. You’ll know when it’s time to expand.

Tip 3

Ask lots of questions: Find people that know more than you and utilize their knowledge. People love to teach and advise others. I have had so many amazing mentors along the way, most of whom I sought out (and most who still advise me to this day). I would not be where am today without the help and guidance they gave me along the way. Take full advantage of this as often as you can.

Tip 4

Make a plan: Sit down and design out your business plan. What are your goals for your product? What are your financial goals? How will you achieve these goals step by step, month by month? Alter the plan if necessary or make more than one scenario. Know when you will pull the plug if you have to. Know your strategy for growth. In the beginning, every day I set aside 1 hour for cold calling stores across the country. I set aside 1 hour each day for cost reduction on my bar. The rest of my time was chasing large accounts and day to day business. I had specific store goals month to month and financial goals to go alongside the volume goals. I knew it could take years to break even, but was determined as well to not go deep into debt.

Tip 5

Take the plunge: Business is a risk, but we live in the greatest country in the world for starting and growing new businesses. When I finally decided to manufacture, I had to use a chunk of money that I had received as an inheritance. It was a huge risk, but there is so much opportunity for unique and better products. The way I always thought of it is that I would rather try with the possibility of failing so I could say I gave it my best shot then to always wonder what if.

Veronica Bosgraaf is a mom and entrepreneur who created Pure Bars, organic, whole snacks for the entire family.   When her six year old daughter announced she wanted to be a vegetarian, Veronica took her lifelong passion for health and wellness, and turned it into a large growing business and has been featured in the media such as O Magazine, Shape Magazine, CNN Headline News, CBS The Early Show, The Associated Press, and many more.   Veronica knows first hand how to turn your passion into a career and freely shares her knowledge and expertise with other women entrepreneurs looking to make a difference.

Check out the Pure Bars Facebook Page – http://www.facebook.com/thepurebar – for recipes, product specials, healthy lifestyle tips and more!

 

How To Make Great Videos For Your Party Plan Business

Last month we talked at length about YouTube and how to make great videos to increase your Party Plan Business.  The conversation continued to our Message Boards and I have been delighted to see so many Divas stepping up and stepping in front of the camera for some amazing videos!

Whether you are just getting started with Videos or have been uploading for a while now, there are a few great tips to make sure you get the most out of your Video Marketing Efforts.

1. Stabilize your video.  Regardless of what filming device you are using – make sure you have it on a flat, STILL surface.  There is nothing worse than watching a video that invokes the need for a Dramamine.  You can stack your camera on books, tables – I have even used a flower vase to get the right height.

2.  Intro and Exit Music.   In our business we know how the “little touches” can make so much difference.  Video is the same way.  By adding intro and exit music clips, you immediately grab the viewers attention, and set the tone for a fun, entertaining video.

3. Speaking of music, having a great video editing software is imperative.   Thankfully, there are several out there to meet every budget and techy ability!  You can also use a multimedia software that will “do it all” – text, video, imaging, and audio.  Even minor editing touches – like music and captions – will make your video more exciting and memorable to watch.

4.  Begin with a picture preview.  A great way to grab your viewers attention is with a preview at the beginning of the video.  You can do this with a series of images scrolling while the intro music is being played.  You can grab images from within your video, or take still images with your camera and use a digital picture editor to edit them and insert into the video.  The preview will be the first impression the viewer has of your video, and will be the deciding factor on whether or not they will watch the entire video.  There are many photo editing programs that you can use to make sure your pictures are the best they can be, and will draw in your viewers.

5. Use captions.  As I mentioned before, captions are a great way to keep your viewers involved in your videos.  Using your video editing software, add in additional thoughts, comments, links, or tips to add value to what you are saying.  Make sure you use a font that is large and easy to read, and you leave it visible long enough to be read.

6. Use Humor.  Let your personality shine in your videos, and use humor to keep your viewers engaged.   Make sure not to offend anyone, but you can be funny and gently poke fun – even at yourself – too lighten the mood and keep your viewers entertained and wanting more.

7. Involve your Customers.  Be sure to end your video by involving your customers – either by asking a questions or giving them a “call to action” to do something after the video is over.   Asking your customers to “visit your blog,” “Like your Fanpage,” or “tell me what YOU would like to see” will most often inspire your viewers to engage with you further, thus continuing to build the relationship.  Make sure that when they DO what it is that you ask, that you respond as well.

8. Don’t worry about perfection.  Even if you have the best editing software there is, do not worry about trying to be “perfect.”  our industry wants and needs to show that we are all human – not robots, not paid actors – real people.  Let your personality shine, have a sense of humor, laugh at yourself for little boo boos, and be proud of yourself for even getting in front of the camera!

Video Marketing is one of the best things you can do to expand your Party Plan Business and Online Presence.  Make it a goal to start right away and start taking advantage of this amazing opportunity to literally be seen and heard!  I promise, you will be so glad that you did!

 

Is Your Online Marketing WORKING!?

All this month we have been focused on Online Marketing – from Social Media to Online Parties to Email Campaigns.  But how do you know if any of your efforts are actually working!?  Are you giving yourself a “litmus test” to make sure you are not only doing the right things… but doing things right?

1. Track your time.  How much are you making per hour?  Don’t know?  This is a problem!  How much time do you spend actively WORKING on Social Media?  (Farmville and Monday Mingle DO NOT COUNT! :)Now do the math on how much you made per hour with that activity.  Are you happy with that amount?

2. Do your own website search and see where you fall.  Do you know what page of Google you are on?  (or how many?!) Search for your hot key words and see if you can “find yourself” amongst the thousands of other sites.

3.  Run different promotions – with different coupon codes – on different sites.   In other words, to track how well Facebook is working for you, run a promotion solely on Facebook, and even use the coupon code something like “FB1.”  You can do the same with Twitter and use something like “Twitter1″  – and then track each sale with by the coupon code.

4. As often as you are able, ask the question “How did you find out about us?” – whether on your email subscription registration, contact form, order form, or during customer care.   People are usually happy to tell you just exactly how they found your site!

5. Let someone else do it.  The Adobe Online Marketing Suite – powered by Omniture – provides insight into the performance of online marketing initiatives, empowers organizations to make informed decisions, and ensures the success of online marketing programs.  Their programs work within your contact management system to show you real time results from numerous different channels – all in an easy to understand format. Their search engine marketing blog will also give you ideas for increasing your online presence and effectiveness.

Whether you track your own results, or leave it to the professionals, it is important to know if your efforts are TRULY working.   Remember, the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over expecting different results.”  Arm yourself with the truth, to know whether or not you need to “change direction.”

Top Ten Tuesday – Overcoming Failure

Failure is not falling down. Failure is not getting back up.

~Ancient Chinese Proverb

Everyone hates to fail – or hates the idea of failing.  Even as children we are taught that there is nothing much worse than failing at something.  Failing a class.   Failing to keep your room clean.  Failing to get picked for the football team.   We put such an enormously negative energy around failing, it is no wonder we grow up to fear that word more than any other.

Most people do not realize that you MUST fail in order to succeed.   How many times did Thomas Edison “fail” when inventing the light bulb?   How many times did Alexander Graham Bell “fail” with the telephone?  It is the education that you learn from each failure that brings you closer to your success.   So how do you overcome failure?

1. Learn from your mistakes. Do you remember learning how to ride a bike? I am willing to bet you fell down… a lot. But every time, you got back up, dusted yourself off, and got back on the bike. Each time you fell you learned a little something more about how to maneuver yourself, or the bike, to keep from falling again. Each time you “fail” at something, take the time to learn as much as you possibly can about the experience, so you are better prepared for the next time.

2. Let it go. I am certain you are not still “beating yourself up” for that time you fell on your bike when you were 6. So why are you still beating yourself up for that party you bombed in 2006? Once you have learned what you need to from your mistake – LET IT GO. You can not move forward when you are facing the past. Turn around, look to the future, let go of the past.

3. Don’t be afraid to try again. When you were learning to ride your bike, there was some driving factor that kept you getting back on it over and over. Maybe it was to be able to ride to school like a “big kid.” Maybe it was fear of being picked on by your big sister. Maybe it was just to prove to yourself that you could do it. The fear of falling down again paled in comparison to your drive and determination to ride that bike. In our industry you hear “The only way to fail is to quit.” Don’t let your fear from your last failure keep your from achieving your dream.

4. Rationalize the “Worst Case Scenario.” Go ahead and take an honest look at what will happen if you DO fail again. What is the absolute worst case scenario if you do not succeed? Often when you take a real clear look, you see that even the worst case scenario isn’t near as bad as our fear has led us to believe. Getting a clear perspective of “what if” will most often ease your fears.

5. Take baby steps. No one ever said that to learn to swim you must jump into the deep end – no life raft, no life jacket, and having never been in water before!! If you truly feel “frozen” by your fear, take baby steps to get started. “Get your feet wet” standing on the steps for a while until you get relaxed enough to take another step.

6. Keep a positive attitude. We have all failed in the past. Some of us in BIG WAYS. When you look at people who have overcome adversity or even athletes with handicaps – one thing that is consistent with them all is a positive attitude. Remember this phrase – “Whether you think you can, or you think you cant – YOU ARE RIGHT!” Tell yourself you can, tell yourself you WILL, and be proud of yourself for even trying, regardless of the outcome.

7. Surround yourself with positive people. Remember The Law of Attraction – it is the thoughts and things that you surround yourself with that will ultimately impact your success or failure. Surround yourself with positive, successful people who have “been there, done that” and learn how other people have overcome THEIR failures and moved on to succeed.

8. Get support from others. The fear of failure is the #1 most common problem in our industry – followed closely by the fear of success. You are certainly not in the minority with this fear. Talk to others who have dealt with the same issue that you feel you have failed at before. No matter what you feel you have failed at in the past, there are people out there who have gone through the same struggle.

9. Understand that failure is a part of learning. You absolutely can not have success without failures along the way. Even the most successful business owners now write best selling books on how NOT to do business – all based on their own personal mistakes they have made along the way. It is kind of like “every no gets you closer to a yes” – well, every failure gets you closer to a success.

10. Make your fear work for you. One of the best selling books of all time is called “Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway.” It teaches you how to use your fear to motivate you and inspire you to succeed “anyway.” Emotions are just energy – it is up to you how you use that energy, and what you produce with it.

Quick Tips #8

If your city has a Travel Guide that tourists request, contact that business and see how you can advertise in it! This is great for Bachelorette Parties that ladies come in town for!