February 25, 2011

10 Back Office Systems Every Solopreneur Should Have

MP9004224581 150x150 10 Back Office Systems Every Solopreneur Should HaveI’m a systems-thinker.  I know, I know…systems are boring.  But guess what?  We need them to keep ourselves from throwing our hands in the air and saying, “I’m done!”

What I mean is that you need a way to organize and manage repetitive tasks you have to do to manage your business effectively.  Think about it – the last time a new client hired you, what steps did you walk them through?  Did they get some type of welcome packet?  How do you know they got it?  Did you miss a step?  See!

As solopreneurs, we really don’t have a lot of time to waste. Every move should be intended for growth of our business.  We can’t do that if we are constantly playing catch-up.  So here’s the scoop. I’m sharing with you my 10 favorite back office systems that frankly, I think every solopreneur needs to consider – especially coaches, consultants, and the like.

Here is my list of 10 Essential Solo Back Office Systems:

1.  Prospect Engagement System

How do suspects become prospects then clients then advocates?
What is the entry point – e.g. optin form, free article?

2.  Appointment Scheduling System

How do prospects/clients connect with me?
How do potential joint venture partners connect?
How do I protect boundaries of personal time (so that I have some)?

3.  New Client Intake System

What steps do I provide for incoming clients when we start to work together?
What information do they need from me?

4.  Product Sales System

What is the process for selling my products?
What about services?  Is there a difference?
Do I use a shopping cart?  What else to automate this process?

5.  Billing System

How do I manage billing – one-time, recurring?
What about special arrangements that don’t fit into my usual program billing cycle?

6.  Time Tracking System

How do I track the amount of time I am working on a project, or client appointment?

7.  Product Launch System

What steps do I take to launch a new product?

8.  Customer Service System

What is my process for handling complaints?
What about case studies and testimonials?

9.  Event Marketing System

How do I promote an upcoming event – virtual or on location?

10.  Social Media Marketing System (or maybe you call it Online Relationship Management)

How do I automate social media systems to promote my activities & stay in touch with my tribe?

And here is a bonus once those are in place – what is my Virtual Assistant/Outsource Training System – What do I delegate?   What resources do I use to train my delegates to operate?

Most solopreneurs don’t have an eye on every single one of these, but I propose that maybe you should.  It should be part of your overall business branding and marketing plan to know what your process is in these areas. That way, you can clearly talk about how you do business with any prospective client AND it will make your life a whole lot easier, saving you the time of having to figure it out as you go.

WANT TO RE-POST THIS ARTICLE ON YOUR BLOG OR USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR EZINE, E-NEWSLETTER OR WEB SITE? You may, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

About the Author: Tanya Smith of Be Promotable is a premier personal branding & marketing coach.  Her creative genius has unlocked the potential of many women solopreneurs, helping them to reinvent themselves as power players in their startup business.  Claim your free instant access to a free video download, 5 Secrets to Developing Your Unique Brand Proposition at: www.bepromotable.com.

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Click of the Week: Unilyzer.com

You may be hearing a lot about metrics these days.  In one of my previous corporate roles, I actually spent time as an analyst.  This click of the week will share 3 tips you can use to apply data with this nifty tool – www.unilyzer.com.  Very neat dashboard for your website and social media interactions.  Don’t miss this one!

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Blogging Success Summit 2011 – Drum Roll Please…

One of my big goals for 2011 is to blog more often.  Well, if you heard about a marketing strategy that could substantially lower your marketing expenses and return 600% or more of your investment, wouldn’t you be interested in learning more about it?

When Social Media Examiner surveyed 1,900 marketers in 2010, half said they wanted to learn more about this strategy.

Of those just starting out in social media marketing, 65% wanted to learn more about it. And 81% of all the marketers surveyed said they would definitely increase their use of this strategy – blogging is hot stuff!

Did you know that Technorati ranked Social Media Examiner the #1 small business blog in the world just five months after it was launched? “We didn’t advertise, didn’t rely on the press and almost none of our traffic is coming from search engines,” said its founder, Mike Stelzner, in March 2010.

If you’re a small business owner, did you know that nearly half of your competitors will be using a blog for marketing purposes by next year?  What’s holding you back?

Maybe you’re wondering “How can I make sure my message is noticed and not buried in all the other noise?”

Here’s How to Get Your Blog Working for Your Business

bss11 logo Blogging Success Summit 2011   Drum Roll Please...Suppose you could hire 23 of the biggest names in blogging to give you proven tips and techniques for using a corporate blog to generate leads, win customers and achieve your sales goals.

Suppose each of those experts came to your home or office and gave you 60 minutes of their time. Each one could easily charge you hundreds of dollars.

But suppose you got all of those experts for less than $300. Not $300 per expert, less than $300 for all of them.  Only $300 for 14 hours of highly implementable training.

That’s exactly what you’ll get when you sign up for the early-bird discount to attend Social Media Examiner’s Blogging Success Summit 2011. It’s an online conference scheduled throughout the month of February 2011. You won’t need airline tickets, hotel rooms, a rental car or a week of fast food.

All you need is an Internet connection and speakers.

456x250bss11 Blogging Success Summit 2011   Drum Roll Please...

Just look at this partial list of the 23 instructors:

  • Richard Jalichandra, Technorati CEO
  • Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett, authors of the best-selling book, ProBlogger: Secrets to Blogging Your Way to a Six-Figure Income
  • Debbie Weil, author of The Corporate Blogging Book
  • Douglas Karr, co-author of Corporate Blogging for Dummies
  • Joe Pulizzi, co-author of Get Content Get Customers
  • Brian Clark, founder of Copyblogger
  • Michael Stelzner, founder of Social Media Examiner
  • Rick Calvert, co-founder and CEO of BlogWorld
  • Denise Wakeman, co-founder of The Blog Squad

You’ll also hear from people in the trenches – bloggers and social media marketers from Ford, McDonald’s, Southwest Airlines, Sony, Cisco and Procter & Gamble.

Here are some of the things you’ll learn:

  • The State of the Blogosphere: What Businesses Need to Know
  • Transforming Your Small Business Blog Into a Lead Generation Machine
  • 20 Actionable Techniques to Enhance Your Blog’s Content
  • How Big Businesses Are Leveraging the Power of Blogs
  • How to Improve Your Search Engine Rankings With Blogging

HubSpot found that businesses with an active blog get 55% more online traffic than those without a blog.

Which part of that statistic are you in?  What do you think your competitors are doing?

To learn more about the upcoming summit click here.  I’ll be there.

What are your blogging plans for 2011? Leave your comments in the box below.

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10 Commandments of Social Marketing

iStock 000000902373XSmall1 10 Commandments of Social MarketingThere was a news episode not too long ago asking about whether or not etiquette is “dead” in our society.  I don’t think so, but I do believe it sometimes escapes us.  So many of us are multitasking and trying to hurriedly move on to the next thing.  We often forget about basic niceties that connect us to people in an authentic way, and that’s very easy to do online when you don’t have to face the person the next day.

I thought I’d share my 10 commandments of social marketing – lessons I’ve learned along the way as I try to navigate through the internet and meet new people, using social media to build my personal branding empire.  What do you think?  Are there lessons you are learning to incorporate into your own online etiquette?  Add yours in the comments.

1.      Be focused and connect all activity back to your core message and purpose.  Research & identify with which target markets (potential clients and/or partners) you would like to connect.

2.      Do not mistake social networking as the “end all”; it should not be your sole marketing & relationship strategy. Use social networking in conjunction with traditional methods that work.

3.      Set boundaries and standards when dealing with people online, as well as offline.  Examine how well you are representing yourself in what you write or post.

4.      Commit to a certain amount of time daily, weekly, monthly on your social network.  Then give it a rest.

5.      Connect with others who are successful social networkers with interests that complement your own.  Also, be wise about the information you share on the internet.

6.      Be careful not to bash others.  The internet has a long memory.  Respect that other people have opinions too, even when you do not agree.

7.      Be wary of enticements into get rich quick schemes.  Stay true to your own business strategy & personal goals.

8.      Don’t plagiarize other people’s work. Make sure your own online work is protected via trademark, etc.

9.      Remember, relationships first, business second. Providing compassionate criticism is an art that you can learn to master instead.

10. Do not constantly compare yourself.  Know your own services/products well & maximize them.

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Marketing Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Your Personal Brand

iStock 000007767230XSmall 150x150 Marketing Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Your Personal BrandMany of us walk around marketing ourselves by the seat of our pants. It may not be intentional, but there are things we do daily that demonstrate who we are to prospective clients, co-workers, managers, and colleagues.

I have really begun to mentally process how the discipline of marketing a business and many of the principles that come with it are just as critical for personal success.  There is definitely value in developing a personal brand marketing strategy that helps you stand out, and that makes you more credible in the eyes of your select audience.  Unfortunately, it is way too easy to ignore because of competing priorities for our time.

Here is a short list of though provoking questions and action plans for you relevant to your personal marketing strategy:

  • Do you have a personal brand marketing plan or do you personally market yourself unintentionally?
  • If you have a brand marketing plan, does it include specific promotional activities and are these tied to events?
  • Have you taken the time to identify a target customer, or employer?  What desired characteristics have you named?
  • Does your personal brand strategy identify ways to sell to and maintain your current clients while attracting new ones?
  • What are the demographics of your key prospects?  What makes you distinctly different, or unique as compared to your competitors?
  • What is your personal brand marketing budget?  How will you distribute these funds?

If any of these stump you, now is a great time to consider your next steps.  Creating a personal brand strategy can be just as important for you in this day and age, as a company’s marketing strategy.

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Benefits of Paying Attention to Your Personal Brand

iStock 000000861966XSmall Benefits of Paying Attention to Your Personal BrandWhen you spend the time to intentionally develop your personal brand in a way that reflects  the best, professional you, there are advantages to you and to the people influenced by your work.  Here is a short list of the personal benefits as I see them.
Take a look and see what else you can add to the list:
  • Enhance your visibility in a positive, intentional way
  • Create a clear focus for your career or business
  • Boost your compensation opportunities
  • Thrive during economic downturns
  • Increase your confidence
  • Make better decisions about your future based on right fit
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