Small Business Owners…Time to Think OUTSIDE the BOX!

As small business owners, we spend time most of our time in our business. We work at getting clients wherever we can, but most of our time is spent doing the work that we have already contracted to do, so often the marketing, the brand building and the way we present in the marketplace gets sidelined. Enter COVID-19. All of a sudden, we are brought to a screeching halt, with work getting postponed or cancelled, and no idea how to move forward because the timeline for this is so murky. Let us not forget that the only thing we can ever really control in our lives is our response to what happens to us. Reacting to this in fear or despair is one response, but it is obviously not the best one. We want to proactively choose our response, making the best of a difficult situation, and be productive and positive. After all, we can’t change it, right?

We can still interact with one another and do business together in small groups. We can still meet one on one. I still have head shots and business marketing photos that have not been cancelled because we can still pursue these types of things. I can still schedule shoots where there are few people involved, in a home or at a business…these are the kinds of things that owners put on the back burner. What are those things that you can still do to help clients in our present situation? How can you reach out to get more current work, or set yourself up for future work? What problems can your business solve for others? Time to be creative.

One possible silver lining to this debacle is that it enables us to spend some time to work ON our business, to think about where we are headed, touch those aspects of our businesses that are always waiting in the wings, and regroup. It gives us time to slow down a bit and decide what is really important. The first and most obvious consideration is that this is tax time, and most of us scramble trying to get everything together for the accountant.

The other obvious answer is to spend some time focusing on things that routinely get dropped. Marketing. Having the conversations that build future work. Reminding folks that we are still here, and connecting with new people so that, when this has passed, and it will, we come out of the gate stronger than we have ever been before.

Finally, let us not forget that this gives us a perfect opportunity to spend some time with family, to get some much needed rest, to take a walk or read a book. All of these will ultimately make us stronger and better people, ready to go back to the world refreshed, and ready to do business. Do your best to keep a positive perspective through this, and focus on what you can do rather than what you can’t. Either way, life is a challenge right now, but the results will always be better with a positive perspective.

Paige Tyler: Let’s Wander Travel

I am writing to introduce you to Paige Tyler of Let’s Wander Travel. Recently, I did a variety of photos to help her with her marketing materials, and some of them can be previewed here. Paige likes to have fun, so we did the photos at Old Fox Books, but the best part is that Paige’s inspiration has always been to provide the same fun for her clients. This led from the honest joy of making others’ dreams a reality to something even more exciting for both her and her clients… SURPRISE trips, catering to people who think outside the box! In coming to her, clients answer a few questions about budget, what they like to do, climate, etc, and she will put together a trip, complete with hotel and outings, that will be remembered forever. She provides the client with a departure time and a sealed folder containing the itinerary, tickets and confirmations. Opening the folder is only the beginning…of an exciting journey that will unfold as they walk into it. If you would like to explore the possibility of taking a surprise trip, contact Paige at 571-458-0777 or info@letswandertravel.com.

Creating Online Presence that will Bring Reward

Technology has made everything more accessible and has leveled the playing field between larger and smaller business, enabling those with smaller companies to provide much more to clients and to the world. This is so exciting in many ways, starting with the ability to be more creative, both in marketing style and approach. Additionally, technology provides the vehicle to push the message out so that it reaches more people, and ultimately can bring new business across a variety of platforms.

However, there is also a downside.

Because marketing presents a can-do world, and google can teach anything, both to new or possible entrepreneurs, and even individuals who have no intention of starting a business, many have come to underestimate the value of hiring a true professional to solve their problem. What they don’t realize is that, while someone with little to no experience can do the action that they need, that person doesn’t have the background, or training, or unique creativity that comes only with years of practice. People who want to stand out and be excellent in their world must project excellence by aligning themselves with others who have a passion for their own work and the skill to deliver. Presentation matters, and the people that currently have strong success in the professional world recognize experienced, well thought out presentation.

This is common in many fields, but creatives see it the most. People cut costs in the areas of online marketing and photography first, believing that they can do it themselves and that no one will notice the difference. The bottom line is this. Inferior marketing will bring business, and of course those starting out need to spend their pennies wisely. However, professionals that want to thrive need to play to the audience that they want to attract by creating an online presence that will impress. If you want to play WITH the big boys, then you have to play LIKE one of the big boys…by hiring passionate, experienced professionals that will make you stand out from the crowd.

Happy New Year!…Building Success from Day One.

Well, it’s a new year…a clean slate…full of new possibilities, and that applies to every part of life. In our personal lives we make decisions to be more patient, more caring, or more attentive. In the world of business, we take a hard look at our situation. If we are serious about success, we make goals for the new year, and develop a plan as to how we can make this new year even more productive and successful than the last. Some may decide that there is a need for more advertising, marketing, or networking to give the business more exposure. Others know that 2017 must include a wider range and more consistent use of social media, starting with LinkedIn and Facebook, and moving to Pinterest and Instagram, depending on the business.

Be sure to make a detailed goal sheet for the year, listing specifics and creating targets in a variety of areas. Make sure that the list has actionable goals instead of vague ideas that really can’t be measured. For instance, it is better to say something like, “read 1 business book every other month,” than just saying, “read more business books.” Then put the goal sheet somewhere that it can be accessed easily and often. Keeping goals at your fingertips is the most important factor in achieving them. Don’t be afraid to add goals that will shoot for the moon. If it is on the list, it will be in the mind, and if it isn’t achieved in 2017, it can always be added again for 2018.

One of the most basic building blocks that must be part of your goals if you are to have success with advertising, marketing, networking and social media is to have a current business portrait that will make you look your best. A great business portrait will start with posing and lighting to capture the best angles, and will also include enhancements that will minimize imperfections, giving you a portrait that will reflect professionalism and confidence. Too many have a casual photo, a really bad photo, or no photo at all on LinkedIn…even on the website. The problem with this is that business owners must make a personal connection over the internet, a very impersonal medium. People want to see you before they do business with you. I have been doing business portraits for over 20 years, and would love to help you with this should you have need.

Since email is one of those aspects of a business that can so easily get…and stay…out of hand, I find it very helpful to do a big sort at the beginning of the year, eliminating all of the junk and separating those that can be classified as prospects for the near future. This helps me to start the year off with an uncluttered inbox, and some new possibilities for upcoming weeks. Even though I follow up as I go, there are always some irons in the fire that are business waiting to be had. If you are anything like me, you also have countless business cards on the desk awaiting filing, or follow up. I have CamCard, an app that allows me to photograph my business cards and put them right into my contacts, and I make it a point to catch up on that at year end. Finally, I make a list of priorities and follow it, helping me to feel like I am on top from the beginning instead of underneath.

Business owners have to cover all the bases, and the details can be downright unmanageable at times. In addition, the specifics vary somewhat for different professions, so an individual plan will be most helpful in conquering the chaos. Figure out what works for you, so that you can move into 2017 with the confidence that will bring success!