Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

June 2013

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Master carpenters operate by an age-old proverb that prevents wasting time and money. Before cutting a piece of wood, they check for accuracy by measuring twice and cutting once. In case you’re wondering what a master carpenter and a small business owner have in common, it turns out they share a universal objective…both want results without wasting valuable resources.

When it comes to social media, tracking results and measuring progress is just as important to you as it is for the master carpenter who measures twice and cuts once. Your resources are equally as valuable. Using your time profitably is critical.

Although I’d love to give you a list of all the metrics to monitor with social media, it’s not that simple. Much depends on the results you intend to achieve. To invest time posting, liking, commenting, linking, tweeting, and 1+ on social media without an outcome in mind is much like the master carpenter randomly cutting wood without a blueprint or design in mind. (Hey, I think those guys remodeled my kitchen! :-/ )

Additionally, there isn’t a cookie-cutter approach for social media – or at least there shouldn’t be. (Run quickly from the so-called social media experts suggesting one-size fits all plans.) Hence, the goals you set and the metrics you track are unique to you, your business, and the resources you have available.

About now, you’re probably questioning the kind of help this blog post provides. Something simple and easy, please. Oh, how I wish. However, I can provide a few questions for you to establish what you need/want/should measure to get results from your social media efforts.

  • What strategic goal is social media helping you achieve? Social media is merely a tool to help achieve your goals; therefore, it needs to be linked with the bigger picture of your business.
  • What role will social media play in achieving your goals? Do you want to increase awareness of your business and its brand? Grow your network? Drive traffic to your website? Generate leads? Acquire clients? Hmmm, interesting question, isn’t it, and one that deserves a solid answer. No wishy-washy, ho-hum responses allowed!
  • What is your social media strategy and goal? It all starts here, doesn’t it? Knowing the end game makes it easier to figure out where to start.
  • What’s your social media plan for achieving your goals?
  • What are the important indicators or metrics connected to your goal? Finally! With your objectives, goals and plan defined, it’s easy to identify the factors you’ll measure. Depending on your goals and objectives, this could include tracking any of the following:
    • # of unique visitors to your web site from social media
    • # leads generated from social media
    • # of Facebook likes, Twitter followers, Linkedin connections or blog subscribers, etc to measure audience growth
    • # of engaged users by tracking blog comments, Twitter retweets/replies, or shared links
    • # of blog viewers of various posts
    • rate of conversion from leads to clients
    • Etc.
    • Etc.
    • Etc.
  • How often will you track results?

By now, you probably understand why I was evasive. Tracking your social media efforts contain too many variables to give you a cut and dried answer. The bottom line? Make sure social media is worth your time. Use real data to track, measure, analyze, and readjust your plan as needed. 

And, while you’re at it, subscribe to our blog, like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and connect with us on Linkedin. We’re awaiting to track your arrival.

Related Blog Posts:

Small Business: What Social Media Platform is Best for You?

6 Ways Your Small Business Can Successfully Manage Social Media

5 Sources of Content for Your Small Business Blog

Summer has arrived and it’s a typical time for vacation.  I admit.  I’ve taken a few long weekends myself.

Kids are out of school.  The summer heat drives people to the beach.  And, longer daylight hours motivate the masses to move about. Plus, we’ve been trained from the time we were a kid to take time off each summer to play.  Even all of Europe goes “on holiday” in July.  No wonder its tough finding anyone at their desk.

As a result, revenue-generating activities can take a hit as you hear “get back to us the middle of August when everyone’s back from vacation”.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t help in the moment.

All is not lost, however.  This newly found time can be used to tackle some of the many business development pieces that the busier times don’t always afford.

Here are ten activities to jump-start your summer sales:

  1. Launch your blog.  Seriously.  You’ve probably been talking about it since 2001 (or was that just me).
  2. Update your value proposition.  The economy changed. Buyers are value-conscious. Make sure your value proposition is still in step.
  3. Hit the refresh button your brand. Like furniture left untouched, it likely has gathered a little dust and could benefit from a little spit-shine.
  4. Create your strategic plan.  My clients tell me it makes ‘em sweat but they love the results it produces.
  5. Develop your disaster plan.
  6. Reconnect with former clients.  It’s 5X more costly to acquire new clients than it is to nurture former client relationships.
  7. Launch your social media strategy.  I read somewhere that “if you’re not marketing online, you’re not marketing”.  Good stuff.
  8. Update your website.
  9. Learn something new.  See point #7.
  10. Generate more leads.  Not everyone is on vacation.  Find those that aren’t.

If you don’t find any of these appealing, you can always revert back to old comfortable standby’s of shuffling papers and worrying.

Other blogs you may like:

Say “Heck Yeah” to Growing Your Business

Growing Your Business From the Inside Out

5 Strategies to Overcome Sales Reluctance

Is Ungrowth the New Growth Strategy for Business?

5 Ways to Erase Fear in Your Business

Location! Location! Location!  That’s what William Dillard, founder of Dillard’s, a high-end department store chain, said was key to his retail success. When it comes to selecting the best social media platforms for your small business, it still is location!

As the number of social media platforms grows, I’ve seen small business entrepreneurs struggling to keep up. Social media experts tout advice that makes us believe we need to be on every social media platform known to man. Without the benefit of understanding our target audience or our business strategies, their well-meaning advice is putting us in overwhelm.

It’s next to impossible to manage all the different social media sites today without the use of a small army of social media experts. In many cases, that small army isn’t in the budget. However, if you’re self-managing your social media campaigns, keep William Dillard’s mantra in mind to select the prime sites where your target audience “hangs out”.

Location!  Location!  Location!

How do you choose the best social media sites that offer the greatest likelihood of success for your business? Here are a few “location” factors to consider based on recently conducted research. (After hours of online research in the hunt of accurate demographics for each of the social media platforms listed below, the demographics were as prolific and varied as the sites researched. However, these numbers give you a good starting point. )

Let’s start with a look at the overall numbers of internet users and their use of social media. Of the general internet users, 49% are male and 51% are female. Of all internet users, 67% are involved in some sort of social media. My research revealed the following:

  • 16% use Twitter
  • 15% use Pinterest
  • 13% use Instragram
  • 6% use Tumblr
  • 67% use Facebook

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find stats for the percentage of internet users on Linkedin.

Here is the demographic breakdown of the most popular social media sites based on gender, age, education, kids/no kids,  and income.

twitterTwitter – Source: Quantcast 

Gender:   45% male – 55% female
Age:         18 – 24 – 22%
25 – 34 – 23%
35 – 44 – 17%
45 – 54 – 13%
55 – 64 –   6%
65 +          3%
Kids:         No Kids – 45%
Has Kids – 55%
Income:    $0-50K – 17%
$50 – 100K – 25%
$100 – 150K – 28%
$150K + – 30%
Education: No college 49%
College – 38%
Grad School – 13%
Ethnicity:  Caucasian – 67%
African American – 17%
Asian – 3%
Hispanic – 12%
Other – 1%

facebookFacebook – Source: Quantcast

Gender:    45% male – 55% female
Age:         18 – 24 – 24%
25 – 34 – 18%
35 – 44 – 13%
45 – 54 – 11%
55 – 64 –  5%
65 +         2%
Kids:       No Kids – 43%
Has Kids – 57%
Income:   $0-50K – 14%
$50 – 100K – 24%
$100 – 150K – 30%
$150K + – 32%
Education: No college 47%
College – 40%
Grad School – 13%
Ethnicity: Caucasian – 73%
African American – 13%
Asian – 5%
Hispanic – 7%
                             Other – 1%   

linkedinLinkedin – Source: Quantcast

Gender:  62% male – 38% female
Age:       18 – 24 – 10%
25 – 34 – 20%
35 – 44 – 24%
45 – 54 – 22%
55 – 64 – 12%
65+        – 6%
Kids:       No Kids – 66%
Has Kids -34%
Income:  $0 – 50K – 32%
$50 – 100K – 35%
$100 – 150K – 18%
$150 +         – 15%
Education: No college – 24%
College – 50%
Grad School – 26%
Ethnicity: Caucasian – 81%
African American – 6%
Asian – 5%
Hispanic – 6%
Other – 1%

pinterest Pinterest – Source: Ignite Social Media 

Gender:    20% male – 80% female
Age:        18 – 24 – 17%
25 – 34 – 27%
35 – 44 – 22%
45 – 54 – 18%
55- 64 – 8%
65 + – 3%
Kids:       No Kids – 50%
Has Kids – 50%
Income:  $0-50K – 47%
$50 – 100K – 34%
$100 – 150K – 6%
$150K + – 3%
Education: No college 75%
College – 19%
Grad School – 6%

Instagram  – Source: Quora

Gender:   31.8% male – 68.2% female
Age:        18 – 24 – 34%
25 – 34 – 31%
35 – 44 – 8%
45 – 54 – 2%
55 + – 1%
Kids:        No Kids – 66%
Has Kids -34%
Income:   $0 – 50K – 32%
$50 – 100K – 35%
$100 – 150K – 18%
$150 +        – 15%
Education: No college – 24%
College – 50%
Grad School – 26%
Ethnicity:  Caucasian – 81%
African American – 6%
Asian – 5%
Hispanic – 6%
Other – 1%

Google + – Source: Infographicsmanic 

Gender:   63% male – 37% female
Age:        18 – 24 – 23%
25 – 34 – 35%
35 – 44 – 15%
45 – 54 – 11%
55 – 64 –  7%
65+        – 6%
Income:   $0 – 50K – 45%
$50 – 100K – 28%
$100 – 150K – 15%
$150 +         – 12%

It was a bit more difficult to location other demographics for Google +, for a good reason. Anyone with a Google account has a Google + account making it impractical to identify other some-what accurate demographics.

Although there are a plethora of social media platforms, this gives you an idea of the types of information you want to research for any social media platform you’re considering.

The bottom line? Don’t be everywhere on social media. Be where it counts. Locate your target audience and you’ll find the best social platform for your small business to succeed.

Related Blog Posts:

Does Your Networking Persona Get in the Way of Growing Your Business?

Cracking the Code on Facebook for Your Small Business

Business Development Strategies to Turn Linkedin Views into Clients

6 Ways Your Small Business Can Successfully Manage Social Media

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

Smart patients don’t wait until they’re sick to look for a doctor.  They don’t rely on magazine articles on illnesses because, though helpful, magazines can’t diagnose, inoculate, or treat the disease. But, when the patient has been exposed to disease, not already suffering from it, a doctor is needed. Small businesses need lawyers before being sued in the same way. Making a living exposes a business to legal problems. Reading publications is useful, but it merely makes the business the equivalent of an informed patient, not a doctor.

Among the many worries for entrepreneurs who are starting or are already running a small business is the question of whether they need a business lawyer. Attorneys charge high hourly rates and many small businesses don’t have much, if any, extra capital to pay lawyers. As a result, most small business owners only hire a business lawyer when they have a serious legal problem such as they’ve been sued by a customer or employee.

Issues you can handle on your own are those that are fairly straightforward or not too difficult to learn and therefore don’t require the services of an attorney who charges $300-400 an hour. Tasks intelligent business owners should consider handling themselves are:

  • writing a business plan
  • applying for an employer identification number needed for employee tax purposes
  • applying for any licenses and permits the business needs
  • submitting IRS forms
  • completing boilerplate business forms
  • documenting LLC and close corporation meetings.

When you’re faced with an issue that is complex, time consuming, or has liability issues, you should consider hiring an attorney. Examples of those types of issues are:

  • creating a legal partnership agreement, LLC operating agreement, or shareholder’s agreement
  • creating contracts for use with customers or clients
  • creating a buy-sell agreement with your partners
  • updating your partnership, LLC, or shareholder’s agreements
  • former, current or prospective employees threatening to sue you
  • government agencies filing complaints or investigating your business
  • your business becomes involved in an environmental issue
  • buying or selling a business
  • dissolving your business
  • hiring senior or key employees or employees with access to company secrets or confidential information.

While you certainly need an attorney for serious issues, your emphasis should be focused on preventing those occurrences from happening in the first place. Prevention does not necessarily involve hiring an attorney, although consulting with one wouldn’t hurt. By the time you or your business is sued, the preventable damage has been done and the only question that remains is how much you’ll pay for attorney’s fees, court costs, and damages.

By the time a prospective employee files a lawsuit claiming gender discrimination based in part upon questions you asked at the job interview, all you can do is hire an attorney to defend you.  If you had consulted an attorney before the interview, you would have known to not ask if the applicant was pregnant or planned on becoming pregnant. A small effort at the beginning of the process could have saved you an enormous headache later.

Norma Ann Dawson is a general business attorney who focuses on risk management in the areas of business law and corporate and regulatory compliance.  For more information about Norma, see her website at

It wasn’t that long ago that we only had three primary social media platforms to choose from. LinkedIn launched in 2003 with Facebook quickly following with a 2004 launch, followed by Twitter in 2006. Since then, we’ve seen an explosion of social media platforms. In fact, here are the Top 15 most-popular social media sites  including some you may not have heard of. Frankly, it’s all a bit overwhelming!

There’s good news and bad news for the small business owner and social media. It’s good news that social media levels the playing field for all businesses – large and small.  This helps small businesses grow their network affordably. The bad news? Minus a small army, managing the different social platforms is overwhelming.

Social Management Made Easy

Here are 6 ways to help you get the most from social media:

1. Understand your clients. It’s important to know your client well-enough to know where they “hang out” to avoid wasting your time. Use a marketing persona to get to know your client needs and behaviors.

2. Understand the demographics of the social media platforms. Not all social media platforms are created equal. Select the platform(s) where you’ll have the greatest chance for success.

3. Decide on the best platform for your business. Let your business strategies and goals guide your decision. Just because a new social media site launches doesn’t mean you have to jump on board with yet another platform to manage if it’s not aligned with your strategies.

4. Identify your objectives. Decide what you intend to accomplish with each social media platform. Having a presence on a platform because “everyone is on it” isn’t enough to make your time payoff.

5. Create your plan. Given all you are managing as a small business entrepreneur, set realistic plans and expectations. Be intentional with your social media plan to visit the site and engage with your followers or fans on YOUR time-frame.

6. Monitor your results. Identify the most meaningful metrics to track based on your goals. Evaluate at the end of each month and make the necessary adjustments in your plan to bring you closer to your goals.

Social media is an excellent marketing tool for the small business entrepreneurs. We can expand our reach and build our communities without breaking the bank with excessive cost. However, we do need to control our approach to social media to make sure it produces a payoff!

Read On:

When Timing is Right…

Plug In: Technology in Business

How to Create More Focused Time to Grow Your Business

Cracking the Code on Facebook for Small Business

5 Tips to Improve Your Linkedin Experience & Grow Your Business

When did it happen? How did it happen? It was all so subtle. It started with a small portion of your day visiting your inbox. Your inbox was new and exciting and, with anything fresh, electrifying, and shimmering, it held mind-blowing magnetism!

Next, you brought your morning cup of Joe. Your warm, fuzzy pajamas and bunny slippers made you feel right at home. How much fun was it was to browse through emails sipping on a hot cup of java at the start of your day.

You sensed a bit of a problem when you began taking meals to your inbox. The snacks were not a problem but the three course meals left quite the mess – not to mention the crumbs stuck in your keyboard that make your “s” key stutter.

Fast forward. It’s 3 pm and you still haven’t showered. About the time you get all your emails picked up and put away, the send/receive button creates another flurry. You have piles everywhere. Your actionable items hang haphazardly from your task bar. Appointments are strewn across your calendar. Your priorities? They’re in here somewhere!

You have officially moved into your inbox and it is controlling every movement and action of your day. It’s consuming your time and energy and preventing you from getting to the REAL work of achieving your goals.

The following list summarizes the steps needed to move out of your inbox.*

1. Schedule times to visit your inbox. Your mom and dad don’t like you stopping by their house unannounced and spending the day. They have things to do – and so do you! Don’t randomly stop by your inbox with the intent of spending the day there either. Schedule 2-3 times a day to visit your inbox and respond to emails as needed.

2. Organize email newsletters. E-newsletters are distracting. They create delays in moving quickly through your inbox. Unsubscribe from email newsletters that no longer contribute to your goals. However, if there is a “must keep” subscription, set up a “Reading” folder and a rule for newsletters. A rule sends the newsletter directly to the “Reading” folder where you can read to your heart’s content at a time designated for reading.

3. Close your inbox after responding to emails. This helps control your send/receive addiction when you’re bored or afraid you’re missing out on something.

4. Use a timer. Your inbox was not designed for permanent residency. At the pre-determined time, log into your inbox, set your timer, and when the bell rings, pack your bags and go! “No dilly dallying”, as my mother would say.

5. Do not visit your inbox – even temporarily – outside of the predetermined times. Without a doubt, your inbox is quite comfortable. So cozy in fact, you’ve been seen “stopping by” your inbox during meetings, while waiting in line, or throughout dinner with family and friends. Don’t do that anymore. It’s actually quite rude and disrespectful to those you’re with.

6. Eliminate all notifications. The call of the “ping” is alluring. It traps you in your inbox. Once you purge notifications, you can enjoy the promise of communication and connection at a time and location more convenient for you.

* Failure to comply with this checklist will cause you to feel overwhelmed, stressed, burned out, and exhausted.

It’s time to move out of your inbox and move in to achieving your goals, don’t you agree?

Read on:

The New Killer Email App for Entrepreneurs: You

Death by a Thousand Emails

5 Ways to Get More Done in Your Business

For many small business entrepreneurs, particularly those in the service sector, pricing of services takes on an improvised approach. Minus some sort of structure, many entrepreneurs end up undepricing their services below market value.

Here’s a formula you may find helpful in pricing your services:

A.  Determine the number of working hours available to work your business including marketing, accounting, seeing clients, selling, etc.

  1. Determine the total number of hours available for billing (i.e. 40 hours per week X 52 weeks)
  2. Decide the holidays you’ll be closed for business each year. Convert to hours  (i.e. 8 hours X # of holidays)
  3. Establish the number of annual leave days per year. Convert to hours.
  4. Determine the number of sick days per year and convert to hours.
  5. Choose the number of vacation days per year. Convert to hours

Subtract the total of number 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 from number 1. This gives you the total number of actual working hours available.

B. Start with your current salary or the salary of a comparable position reflecting your experience and abilities.

C. Determine the hourly rate your business needs to charge using this formula:

Hourly business billable rate = [annual salary/available hours] X [overhead factor*x markup**]/utilization rate***

Example: ( [$125,000/ 1912 hours]  X [1.9 X 1.10]) / 60%
( [$65.38/hour] X [2.09] ) / 60%
$136.64/ .60 == $227.73/hour

*Overhead factor: The Guide on Hourly Fee Rates for Consultants determines the overhead factor, based on studies, the average consultant pays for overhead such as admin, rent, office equip, etc. The overhead factor rate used is 1.90.

**Markup: The markup is whatever you decide you want your company profit to be – 10% – 15% – 25%? This is over and above your salary and overhead expense.

***Utilization Rate: The percentage of actual hours spent in billable time.

Your turn! Let this formula help you stop underpricing in your business.

Other Related Blogs:

The Small Business Pricing Conundrum: Underpricing

Overcome Underpricing, & Its Evil Twin, Underearning in Small Business

Common Pricing Mistakes to Avoid

Solo Entrepreneurs: Better & Smarter But Maybe Not Richer

8 Assumptions Squashing Your Small Business Growth

Business coaching has grown in popularity, which is really no surprise. Considering the rapid pace of change across the entire landscape of our lives, we all need someone who can keep us focused, on track, and help us sort through the multiple decisions we make in a day. It’s not that we can’t do it all on our own, working with a coach just makes things move more quickly.

Although business coaching has been in existence since the early 90’s as an organized profession, it’s still in its infancy. This newness makes it more challenging to find a good fit when looking to engage a business mentor.

(Ready to schedule an interview with a strategic business coach? Click here.)

To assist in your quest to identify the best fit for you, here are several questions you can use when interviewing coaches:

1. What coach training have you attended? Here’s where a good dose of “buyer beware” comes in handy. If the coach tells you they’ve been coaching their entire life, run in the opposite direction as fast as you can. The profession of coaching has over 200 competencies and an in-depth body of knowledge. There are plenty of trained coaches available for you to choose from so there’s no need to hire a coach who merely hangs out his/her shingle and calls themselves a “coach”.

2. What size business do you specialize in coaching? Different business sizes have different needs. You want to select a coach who understands the challenges and opportunities YOUR business faces.

3. What industries have you coached? It’s good to get a sense of the depth and breadth of experience of a business coach. Frankly, I’d rather hire someone who works across a wide variety of industries than one who works within only one industry. It helps to take on a strategic business coach who doesn’t come equipped with their own blind spots.

4. What do you do best? What someone does best is not the same as that in which they specialize. Listen carefully when you ask this question. The answer will reveal how well the business coach actually listens.

5. What additional skills besides coaching do you bring into play? With the pure coaching model, the coach asks discovery questions to bring you some clarification. If that’s all you need, an additional skill set won’t be as important. However, depending on the type of support you want, you may prefer an individual who also has strong critical thinking or analytical skills so they can help scrutinize and strategize your business.

6. What kind of measurable results have you helped your clients achieve? A smart business coach knows they are not completely responsible for the results achieved by their clients but they do play a role in pointing out opportunities and helping their clients think through the myriad of strategic decisions. The bottom line is that a good coach should be able to state the results achieved by a variety of their clients.

You can count on a solid ROI from business coaching when you select the right coach for you and your business, identify what a successful engagement looks like, and outline your plan of action. Without that, it’s all just wishful thinking.

Interviewing a strategic business coach is still free…and you never know what you’ll uncover. Click here to have a business coach contact you.

Related Blog Posts:

Strategic Coach Sees the “Invisible Gorilla” in Your Business

What Makes an Effective Strategic Business Coach

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

Every Entrepreneur Needs a Business Coach

What Entrepreneurs Benefit Most From Strategic Business Coaching

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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