Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

March 2013

Recent Posts

Creating regular content for your small business blog can be challenging, stressful, and time consuming. This is particularly true for small business entrepreneurs – myself included – who are not professionally trained writers and bloggers. You want to communicate regularly with your blog readers but how does one continually write witty, captivating, useful content for your small business blog without it consuming so many brain cells – or time!

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself when drafting your small business blogs:

1. Who is my reader? If you’ve created a marketing persona for your small business, you’ll have no trouble answering this question. You may also consider your target audience, your favorite client(s), and/or those you want to attract to your small business as potential readers of your blog post.

2. What is my objective for this particular blog post? Running your business strategically means being intentional and purposeful with all your marketing efforts. Be sure to identify a clear aim or goal for each of your posts.

 Become a Strategic Thinker for Your Business

3. What do I want to communicate? This is the crux of your blog post – the primary topic you’ve chosen. Brainstorm key points or insights you want to share on your chosen subject matter. Consider the benefits you offer on the topic to your readers.

5 Sources of Content for Your Small Business Blog

4. How do I want to communicate my key points? You can tell a story, insert research, quote an expert, draft some bullet points, use numbers – your options are endless.

5. What action do I want my readers to take? You can go in several directions with your small business blog. Here are a few ideas to kindle your resourcefulness:

  • Call you
  • Download your latest eBook
  • Subscribe to your blog
  • Share the post with others on social media
  • Contribute their thoughts, ideas, and/or opinions to your posting
  • Read additional and related posts on your small business blog

One last point – you can’t edit and create simultaneously. As you begin to write your small business blog post, let your ideas and thoughts flow (create) using this framework to hold your ideas – much like a tree branch holds leaves. Once you’re completed your blog draft, that’s the time to review, re-word, up language, and format (edit).

What tips have been most helpful for you in writing your blog posts?

This time of year we dream of the yummy, rich, sweet chocolate Easter bunny. We envision, in excited anticipation, our first bite into that scrumptious, lip-smacking bunny ear made of solid chocolate….only to discover the bunny’s ear is hollow! How disappointing!  Unfortunately, there are many small businesses much like the hollow chocolate Easter bunny.  Let me explain.

You hunt and search for just the right vendor to assist in growing your small business. You exercise due diligence in researching each possible provider. You conduct extensive interviews before finally settling on what you believe is the best possible candidate.

They are everything you’ve dreamed of in a provider – and more. They say they deliver on time. They say they meet their deadlines. They say they can – and will – deliver the results you want. They’re charming, personable, relatable, knowledgeable, excellent at communicating their field in a way that’s easy for you to understand…It’s a partnership made in heaven! You’re excited to work with them. They are, in fact, the solid chocolate Easter Bunny!  Until you break off the ear…

You launch into the engagement. The agreement contains errors.  Email response takes days. Attention to detail, which is important to the project, is sorely missing. Communication is lost in translation between the project manager and the staff attempting to execute on deliverables. I could go on and on but I’m sure you get the point…the company looked great on the outside (aka, the solid chocolate Easter bunny) but were nothing more than a shell of what they appeared to be.

There seems to be more hollow chocolate Easter bunnies in business today. Some small businesses, in a hurry to get to market, don’t take the time to do the important pieces of their business that ensure they are as good on the inside as they look on the outside.

To make sure your small business isn’t one of those hollow chocolate Easter Bunny experiences for your clients, download our free business assessment to help identify the business essentials needed to build a solid enterprise.

Other thought-provoking posts we think you’ll like:

Uncover the Moments of Truth in Your Business with a Strategic Coach

Strategic Business Coaching Produces Results You Can Measure

Are Flies Gumming Up Your Business Growth?

Growth Strategies for Business: Improve Your Believability

Five One Liners That Kill a Sale

You sit down at your desk with a big cup of your favorite beverage. You’re excited! You’re ready to craft a blog post for your small business blog. That would be great – if you only knew what you were going to write. You find yourself staring blankly at a stark-white word document willing brilliant words of wisdom to appear magically across the screen. Although the spirit is willing, the brain cells are wavering!

Has that ever happened to you? Where do you turn to generate creative ideas that are timely and relevant to your small business blog readership?

Here are the top five content generators we use to stimulate our blog content creativity:                                                                                          

1. Follow key industry trends. With all the news aggregators online today, it’s a snap to keep your finger on the pulse of topics most important to your audience. Whether you use Google Reader (which will need to be replaced soon), google alerts, Pulse, or Linkedin Today, each can be customized to bring you the topics relevant to your small business blog.

2. Tap into discussions within your Linkedin groups. You can tell which topics are of interest by the number of people who join into the conversation. If you can’t find a compelling topic, consider starting one of your own – including asking what topics your network would like to read more about.

3. Draw ideas from your clients. Whether you keep an ongoing list of common challenges and opportunities that your clients experience (confidential, of course) or make contact with them directly, your former and current clients are an excellent source of appealing blog topics for your small business blog.

4. Garner engaging topics from forums and/or social media. Next time you’re on social media, pay special attention to the industry leaders and, more importantly, the posts of their fans. Or, search Twitter using your keywords or key phrases as #hashtags. It’s a great way to uncover what’s on the minds of those who would likely read your small business blog.

5. Conduct a content audit. If you’ve been in business at least a year, it’s likely that you have topics of interest to your small business blog readers. They already reside on your computer in the form of articles, e-newsletters, social media posts, or business research. Rather than reinvent the wheel, re-purpose what is already at hand.

Certainly, content marketing is here to stay. Pin down topics for your small business blog that delivers relevant and valuable information that your small business blog readers want to consume.

Speaking of relevant, compelling topics, tell us what YOU want to read. Then, subscribe to our blog to make sure you won’t miss out on any of the hot small business topics.

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If Facebook were an employee, he* would be a bit of a slacker in my small business. He shows up every day for work in a rumbled plaid shirt he slept in. He slumps in his chair and clicks lazily here and there on Facebook. He scrolls up and down, down and up, with about as much interest as watching paint dry.

I was optimistic for Facebook in my small business when first launched. However, with passing time and lack luster performance, I’m feeling “Facebook fatigue”. Although I’ve gently nudged, nurtured, and encouraged Facebook along, it seems to have made little difference in producing the kind of results I’m after.

Apparently, I’m not alone. Hubspot, the leader in inbound marketing, shows that 70% of their most popular blog posts are focused on how to make Facebook work better for business. Plus, many of my colleagues are scratching their heads while trying to figure out how to get more “likes”, create more engagement, drive traffic to their website, and most importantly, get clients from Facebook.

Today, after much thought and consideration, I’ve decided to give Facebook one more opportunity to perform in my small business. I’m implementing some different strategies and upgrading others in hopes of spurring some results. And, if Facebook’s performance doesn’t begin to show sides of improvement, he’ll have to go, despite being part of the “Social Media Holy Trinity”.

Here’s what’s up my sleeve for the next several weeks:

  1. Employ How to Master Facebook Marketing in 10 Days.
  2. Participate in Hubspots Leveraging Facebook for B2B & B2C Marketing Webinar. If you’re going to gain new skills, it’s best to be trained by those who lead the industry.
  3. Implement the 80/20 posting rule. That means 80% of the Facebook posts will be educational/informative and 20% are service related.
  4. Tap into valuable information of interest and value to Synnovatia’s fans. This will be easy given the depth and breadth of wisdom residing within my own network.
  5. Post 3 times a day. The shelf life of a Facebook post is 3 hours. Posting 3 times a day ensures some of the Facebook posts may actually be seen in the newsfeed.
  6. Add humor. This will be easy as “fun” is one of our core values at Synnovatia. If you’re not having fun in your business, you’re doing something wrong.
  7. Change up our posting strategies. This includes staying relevant with recent topics and discussions, using more photos, asking relevant questions, soliciting opinions, and loads of other fun and interesting posts.
  8. Measure. Measure. Measure. And, make strategic improvements based on the results.

Like you, I’m a busy entrepreneur and I don’t have allot of excess time to cajole Facebook into action. Therefore, Facebook is on notice. Facebook can step up to the plate and perform or have his time given to other, more productive social media platforms.

Stay tuned! This could get interesting! I’ll let you know how/if Facebooks performance improves. And, while you’re at it, be sure to “like” us on Facebook.

* not intended to be gender specific

I’ve had my share of fear in business. I’m sure you have, too. It’s a horrible place to be. Fear in business can get on grip on your creativity and ingenuity that can be challenging to surmount.

Years ago, I heard it said that fear is “false evidence appearing real”. Although that truly is the case, anyone who has experienced any sort of fear in business understands that there seems to be nothing “false, bogus, or imagined” when you’re standing in a puddle of fear in your business.

Through the years of running my own business, and coaching entrepreneurs in launching and growing their businesses, I’ve noticed that fear seems to originate from several sources. The most common stem from these sources:

  • Lack of belief in oneself – including  one’s abilities, skills, or business idea
  • Uncertainty – about the future, the economy, or the next best steps
  • Cloudy vision – missing  a mental picture of your future or at least as far as you can see
  • Not knowing  – lacking information, know-how, or understanding
  • Lack of clarity – caused by lack of planning and time devoted to strategic thinking

Some amount of fear in business is a good thing. A dab of fear here and there, brings out our best and nudges us to perform the due diligence needed  to make smart decisions.

Overwhelming fear in business, however, is the condition we want to avoid. It clouds our decision-making, slows our progress, and prompts us to “play it safe”. The end result? We become overly cautious and tentative.

How can you keep your business fear’s from getting the best of you? Here are 5 tactics that will help you keep your fears in business at a minimum:

1. Build a reserve. A reserve means you have more than enough of what you need. Whether it’s a shortage of cash or clients that has triggered fear in your business generating an excess in that particular area of concern immediately calms the nerves.

2. Set goals that are crystal clear. If I were to ask about your goals today, would you be able to give me an immediate response including the details? If you hesitate or need time to consider your response, your goals could benefit from some polishing to make them unambiguous to you.

Read on: Five Tips to Develop Clear Goals for Your Small Business

3. Hang out with others to avoid isolation. This is especially important if you’re working from a home-office. Admittedly, I love the notion of the short commute in my bunny slippers when working from my home-office but even as long as I’ve been in business, it can get awfully quiet. Rubbing up against the world – whether it’s online or offline – keeps you sharp, sparks your creativity, and dulls any fears in business.

Read on: It Takes a Village to Run a Successful Business

4. Focus on your strengths. If you spend a great deal of your time focusing on your inadequacies, you’re not alone. No wonder your business fears knock the wind out of your sails! Although it may seem that your shortcomings far outweigh your strengths, your strengths are much sharper and can easily cut through the thistles in your path. Lead with your strengths every day.

Read on: Yes, You Can!

5. Appreciate what you have and who you are. Studies have demonstrated that appreciation is the quickest way to attracting what you really want which invariably the opposite of what you fear in your business. Spend the first and last 5 minutes of your day mentally listing all you appreciate about yourself and your life.

Is fear slowing down your business growth? What tactics are you implementing to keep your fear in business at a minimum?

Here’s one tactic to erase your business fears: subscribe to our blog to make sure you’re up to date with trends, tips, and tactics for growing your small business. 😀

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Coaching entrepreneurs in work-life balance challenges contains some of the biggest obstacles to overcome. If you’re an “always-on, always-available, always-connected” entrepreneur, you apt to feel like you’re running hard but not getting ahead. Moreover, you’re predisposed to all sorts of overwhelm and lots of unnecessary stress. Is that what you intended when you launched your business!? I didn’t think so.

Believe it or not, you have much more control over your day than you realize. Are you ready to get a grip on your day and slay overwhelm? Here are a few tactics we suggest when coaching entrepreneurs in work-life balance:

1. Challenge your beliefs about your availability. The greatest challenge to coaching entrepreneurs on work-life balance is for entrepreneurs to come to terms with their own belief system. Whether you’ve been in business 3 months, 3 years, or 30 years, you have ideas about what, when, where, and how you “should” be available. When a “should” enters our vernacular, it generally indicates someone else’s agenda…not your own.

2. Delegate what you can. Delegating is not easy but it is possible. As you might image, I’ve heard all the “reasons” for not delegating (including my own) which include “it’s easier just to do it myself” or “it takes less time to do it myself rather than teach someone else.” Sound familiar? You, and your business, have a finite amount of capacity. If you want to grow your business, you’re going to have to increase your capacity. That includes delegating.

3. Take breaks early and often. I can’t say enough about the impact that a time-out has on your sense of control over your day. The natural inclination for most is to work with your “nose to the grind stone” from the time you arrive at your desk to the time you leave the office.  Breaks of ten-to-fifteen minutes during which time you step away from your work to do something totally unrelated – like some yoga stretches or a walk around the block – help keep overwhelm and stress at bay.

       Read On: Recess for Entrepreneurs

4. Ignore activities not related to your goals. Entrepreneurs are natural “get it done” people. That’s what makes you such a success in business. Others in your personal and professional life recognize that admirable quality, too, which is why they so easily commandeer your time if you let them. Have you done a calendar audit recently? You might be amazed at what – or who – is eating up your goal achieving time.

Read On: Five Steps to Better Manage Your Goals

5. Say “no”.  In coaching entrepreneurs in work-life balance, we often discuss learning to say “no”. Learning to say “no”, however, isn’t the same as actually saying “no”. Say it with me – “no”! Say it again, only this time louder – “NO!”  Perfect. Now practice it often.

Read on: This Strategic Coach Says “No” and Means It*

6.  Stop letting email dictate your day. Do you remember how email was going to make life easier? I don’t either! Email is not the problem; it’s how you opt to deal with email that determines if email contributes to your work-life balance or adds chaos to your day.

Read on: The New Killer Email App for Entrepreneurs: YOU

7. Stop multitasking. Multitasking, once a prized skill, is now proving to produce stress and adds to your overwhelm as an entrepreneur. Plus it’s sooo 80’s. Focus on one project, one call, or one client at a time to keep your productivity humming on high all day.

8. Don’t work more than 40 hours a week. I know I probably sound like an entrepreneurial infidel by suggesting you cap your workweek at 40 hours. Did you know that 40 hours a week has been proven to be sweet spot for keeping unnecessary stress and overwhelm at bay. In fact, in some of the most competitive countries in the world, it’s illegal to work more than 48 hours a week.

       Read on:Can Your Small Business Succeed on a 25-hour Workweek?

Are you feeling overcommitted? Overwhelmed? Out of balance? Stressed out? These tactics make certain youl  feel less stress, greater productivity, more fulfillment and satisfaction from your business, and more revenue. The only thing you have to lose is overwhelm.

Have you heard? March is Women’s History Month! Since 1987, when Women’s History Month was declared a national holiday, we’ve been celebrating the accomplishments of the daring, passionate women that forged the way for so many of us. In fact, I don’t remember a time that I felt unable or uninvited as a woman to participate in the entrepreneurial dream. And, I owe it all to the fearless women willing to do the hard work of breaking through traditional beliefs about women and their roles.

Women’s History Month is about celebrating women and their contributions. This years theme is Women Inspiring Innovation and Imagination. Although it honors women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), why not pay tribute to all women – past, present, and future – who have the audacity and tenacity to live the entrepreneurial dream.

Running a business, especially in today’s economy, is not for the faint of heart. What it takes to launch and grow a business isn’t the same as what’s required to advance within a corporate hierarchy. Those that have been downsized, displaced, severed, or intentionally left a long-standing corporate career will be the first to tell you that striking out on one’s own isn’t as easy as it looks.

What it takes to succeed in business isn’t the same as what is necessary to start the business, either. Perhaps that’s why, 3 years after start-up, only 19.8% of women-owned businesses make less than $100,000/year compared to 32.8% of their male counterparts. Or, why 1.8% of women-owned firms generate revenue in excess of $1 Million compared to 6.3% of men.

Glass Ceilings or Walls? We Think Not

Some believe a lack of financial or technology literacy, risk-aversion, or difficulty with accessing capital are the reasons women-owned companies haven’t expanded at the same rate as their male counterparts. Those aren’t traditionally gender issues – they are economic issues. Moreover, some women prefer to keep their companies small as they care for the needs of their families and/or strike work-life balance. There’s no shame in that!

For those who say “why not” to growing their business while caring for their families and maintaining a modicum of sanity, here are 5 business ideas women can use today to blow through the economic glass ceilings and walls of their business:

  1. Build your support network. As a woman, you’re a natural networker. Use your communication skills to reach out and up to other female entrepreneurs.
  2. Collaborate with larger, more financially advanced firms. It expands your thinking.
  3. Rethink your business model.  A scalable business model significantly contributes to revenue generation without drastically adding time and cost.
  4. Take a giant step forward – each week. Expand your comfort zone by challenging yourself to do something bigger at least once a week.
  5. Refine your niche. Although it sounds counter-intuitive, the more refined your market, the greater your revenue opportunities.

Most importantly, believe in yourself. When you trust in yourself and your abilities, you set life in motion and magnetize your dreams. As a female entrepreneur, you have unique strengths and abilities. Why not celebrate yourself and your many accomplishments. Celebrating yourself is just smart economics!

Frankly, we think women should be celebrated EVERY month! What say you?

Setting proper pricing can be a challenge for most small businesses. It’s finding the right balance between being competitive and staying in business that leaves most small business owners scratching their head. Like Goldilocks, the three bears, and the dilemma of the porridge, many small business entrepreneurs wonder if their pricing is too high (i.e. hot), too low (i.e. cold) or just right (ahhh!).

Here are 5 signs to know when the price is “just right” in your small business:

1. You’re competitive with others in your industry. It’s not always easy to determine your competitors pricing, especially when providing services. Former, current, and future clients prove to be reliable resources of discovering your competitors pricing. Many clients don’t seem to mind “revealing” the prices of your competitors and divulging how your small business prices measure up.

2. You generate enough revenue to run your business. You can tell when your business is cash-strapped. You work more and more hours to meet the needs of your budget AND your clients. When the pricing for your products and services is spot on, you find yourself capable of meeting the needs of your client (the right ones), your budget (a realistic one), and yourself (the most important one) within a reasonable number of hours each week.

3. You have a financial reserve. Every business needs extra cash to grow. Whether it’s for hiring staff, upgrading equipment, or investing in a growth initiative, a “rainy day fund” lends confidence to your business decisions.

4. You attract your ideal clients. If your pricing is too low, you may find clients with restricted budgets flocking to your services. Some of these clients may even be struggling financially. Any small business owner who has provided service for this type of client quickly discovers that if your clients struggle financially, so will you! However, when attracting clients with the proper budget and business mindset, you can charge the appropriate rate for your product and service, provide the caliber of service your clients’ crave, deliver the quality services you desire – all with a little extra elbowroom in your small business.

5.  You’re not excessively stressed. Running a business is enough stress for any one person. Running a business when pricing is too low is near impossible for survival. Overworked and underpaid doesn’t make a creative entrepreneur.

Are you enjoying the five signs of your price being right? If not, you might benefit from additional pricing information. Your business strategist and accountant can help with your pricing strategy.

It takes courage and determination to run and grow a successful business. Don’t let the lack of the right pricing information – or fear – get in the way of making your dreams a reality.

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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