Dave Ramsey’s 10 Steps to Success

Dave Ramsey’s 10 Steps to Success

If you have ever so much as Googled the word debt you’ve probably heard of national radio host, TV personality, author and money management expert Dave Ramsey. The no-nonsense CEO of Ramsey Solutions is on a mission to get American families out of debt.

He has a popular story: The young bankrupt husband and father rebuilds his life and starts a business that grows from a church Sunday school class into a 500+ employee media empire. Along the way he wrote five New York Times bestselling books, grew his audience to 12 million weekly listeners and has had more than four million customers go through his flagship program, Financial Peace University.

I jumped at the chance to join him at Ramsey Solutions in Nashville, Tenn., recently and ask him how he bounced back and built his mission into a massive success. Get his 10 steps to success in my article on Entrepreneur.com.

How This Mom Grew Multiple 6-Figure Businesses From Home

How This Mom Grew Multiple 6-Figure Businesses From Home

If you’ve ever thought about working from home or starting a home-based business, you'll want to familiarize yourself with Carrie Wilkerson, also known as the Barefoot Executive. The Barefoot Executive is a website, community and bestselling book that she created to help work at-home professionals.

The site quickly grew into an empire with tens of thousands of subscribers, leading her to become a sought-after speaker and sales trainer. While she built multiple businesses from home over the past 19 years, she was also raising four children, getting out of six figures of debt and losing more than 100 pounds. Named Internet Marketer of the Year in 2009, Wilkerson has been featured on Forbes.com and Fox Business News and has worked with clients such as Google, John C. Maxwell, Zig Ziglar and more.

Clearly, she has a lot to teach us about success, so I visited her Texas home recently to ask how she built her powerful brand and how other entrepreneurs can build a successful empire from home. Read the tips in my article on Entrepreneur.com.

How Kimra Luna Built Her Multi-Million-Dollar Business

How Kimra Luna Built Her Multi-Million-Dollar Business

Kimra Luna’s rags to online business riches story is an incredible one. Pregnant and on welfare, Luna tried multiple blog and business ideas, desperate to get her family back on track. When her husband finally got a job, she became even more motivated, because she wanted him to be back at home instead of working long hours away from their kids. The couple used a tax return to get her a laptop, and they later took on debt to launch her first major product.

Those risks paid off. Luna is now a successful personal branding strategist for online business owners, and she is a leading authority on Facebook advertising and webinar-based training. How successful? Find out on Entrepreneur.com.

5 Lessons to Help You Become an Industry Disruptor

5 Lessons to Help You Become an Industry Disruptor

Do you know what a fiduciary is? If you do (and you never went to law school), that knowledge may be based on the mission and vision of Elliot Weissbluth.

Weissbluth is the founder and CEO of HighTower, a firm of fiduciary advisors with an open-source platform of various industry-leading financial products and solutions. To those outside of the finance sector, this means that instead of working with one financial institution’s broker, who sells you an option of that institution’s products and services, you work with an independent advisor who is legally obligated to advise you on the best product or solution for your portfolio -- from various financial institutions.

Read his five keys to entrepreneurial success when disrupting an industry on entrepreneur.com.

4 Tips for Success From a Multi-Millionaire Serial Entrepreneur

4 Tips for Success From a Multi-Millionaire Serial Entrepreneur

The story of the hustling D-student who built a business from a dorm room never gets old, which is why I loved interviewing Kenny Dichter. That’s exactly how the serial entrepreneur, now the CEO and founder of Wheels Up, got his start. But what sets Dichter apart is his track record since then: building and selling one successful business after another.

Read the full story on entrepreneur.com.

2015 Trends for Service Based Businesses

2015 Trends for Service Based Businesses

There are many business, social media, and marketing trends expected in the next year. Here are the trends you cannot ignore as a service-based businesses.

The Growth of Outsourcing
More businesses are shutting down in house departments in lieu of an experienced freelancer. This is great news for many service-based entrepreneurs! At the same time, more and more experienced workers are starting their own solo businesses (remember that department that was laid off?) On one hand, this means more vendors for YOU to outsource to. Don’t waste time outside of your strengths! This also means that while your opportunities grow, so does your competition pool.

Stay ahead of the game by outsourcing your weaknesses so your strengths shine to your target client. Also, stand out by addressing the rest of these 2015 trends:

 

Social Responsibility
Just like the big players, you can benefit from promoting conscious capitalism and causes that matter to you. It’s time to get out in your community, volunteer and serve on boards. Not only will you be networking with other businesses, you’ll set yourself apart from other consultants who cannot or will not make time for such activities.  Consider offering your services to nonprofits and worthy causes. Customers who see two similar contractors may choose the one who gives a percentage billable hours towards curing alzheimer's.

Choose a cause to champion, and put somewhere on your site, maybe in one line on your about page, that you contribute to that cause. Don’t overstate it, just mention it.

 

Data, Data and more Data
It’s 2015, you should, at the very least, have google analytics set up on your website. You should have spreadsheets or CRM software that manages your client relationships. You should have also sent out year-end surveys to your existing customers. You should make sure you’re set up as a business account on social channels so you can track engagement. If you indeed have all of those boxes checked, don’t forget to actually look at the results! Service-based business owners are busy doing the work and forget about marketing, which is why I created this handy Marketing Made Easy Course. It is also why you may never look at your stats. Big mistake.

SCHEDULE some time each week looking at your google reports, Facebook Insights, etc. If you haven’t done all of the above, schedule time to set up those tracking tools this week.  

Face to Face Networking
Don’t lose a client because you chose to email instead of skype. As the internet grows bigger and more impersonal, videos and, yes, selfies, have grown increasingly popular. People want to see your face like they did in the old days. Call on the phone instead of texting or emailing. Genuine connections win every time. Make time to attend networking events. Leave your house more. With more people starting their own service based businesses each year, it’s no wonder coworking spaces have expanded recently. Coffee shops are full of writers, designers and consultants who needed to get out of the house. Though you may love checking email in your pajamas, coworking, whether officially at a space or unofficially at a coffee house, can offer networking benefits, improved focus, and improved mood.

The next time you’re tempted to email a client, call instead. The next time you’re tempted to call, set up a video chat via skype. Commit to working out of your home one day a week, or commit to attending a monthly meet-up.  

Online Learning
If you need help with a specific part of your business, a quick google search will yield multiple online resources available to you right now. In 2015, that list of options will grow. Closing the gaps in your knowledge, for example learning wordpress maintenance or twitter strategies, will give you an edge over your competitors. Whether an online class, course, e-book, or set of tutorials, take advantage of this online trend.

Make a goal to tackle areas where you need to learn - via a course, class, webinar etc. - once each quarter.

The Impact of Social Media
Social media will continue to drive consumer spending and customer service in 2015. Advertising on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram will become more important and prevalent as algorithms cause your unpromoted posts to get less traction. LinkedIn has become a valuable publishing platform for content marketing, and will continue to grow in that aspect this year. New platforms like Ello and Tsu have emerged, and more will be released. With so many options, it’s easy to get sucked into “posting as working” and focusing too much energy on social media. Instead of quantity, focus on quality, offering your best content and posts on the favorite platforms of your target client.

Choose your best platforms and focus in. Consumers want interaction, value and authenticity online. Be sure you’re offering all three consistently on those platforms. Consider making an easy publishing schedule for yourself.  

Content Marketing Is Not Going Away
You refuse to set up a blog for your site? Well, that may be to your detriment. However, there are alternatives, like publishing case studies as white papers, how-to videos on youtube, or linkedin articles as mentioned above. Find what comes easily to you and what you can keep up every week or every other week. If you ignore content marketing, instead of hiring you, your potential client will hire the photographer who wrote the “What to wear for your Family Photoshoot” and promoted it on pinterest. Instead of hiring you to sell their home, your ideal customer will hire the realtor who is always posting those fun “Deals Around Town” posts on Facebook. Don’t get bogged down with the idea of writing long reports or creating witty social media images. Just add value to your ideal client with free content on a consistent basis, and promote that content so they actually see it.

Figure out one aspect of content marketing you can tackle easily and consistently, and aim to release content once a week.


Millennials Probably ARE Your Target

According to Leaders West Digital Marketing Journal, there are 76 million millennials in the United States. They’re well-educated, with 63 percent having at least a bachelors’ degree. Meaning these mid-20 to mid-30-somethings are starting businesses, working up corporate ladders, leading teams and making big decisions. Those decisions include who the company hires as a copywriter or to which company they will outsource their social media. The reality is you probably need to market to them in some way, whether that means you add instagram to your social media platforms or you start watching Jimmy Fallon to have something to discuss over happy hour.

Take a look at your business this week and see where you can add or change things in order to attract and engage more millennials. Schedule an action plan to do so.

There are many articles about what you need to do to excel in 2015. I hope you check them out, but all of your reading and researching and learning won't matter if you don't execute! If you can't tackle all of these items this week, schedule in some time over the next few weeks.

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Is It Time To Close Your Service-Based Business?

Is It Time To Close Your Service-Based Business?

I received a great question from a member of the Facebook group last week. I know many entrepreneurs have many passions and would love to run various kinds of businesses. I also know many technician-turned-entrepreneurs out there, to quote The E Myth, who are drowning in work they hate, when they're supposed to be "living the dream" of self-employment. So, when she asked about closing her business and moving on to something else, I knew it was a good subject for the ol' blog:

Kelsey, I have a question for you and maybe other people ask themselves this very same thing: what do you do when you have a business, and you've been doing it for a few years, and you realize that there are a lot of things you really don't love about it? I had another business before this one. I loved it but I never made a very good consistent living. While I have made a decent living with my current business, there are so many things I really don't like. How do you know if you're just being a baby and you should suck it up and march out there and continue, or you should give yourself permission to dismount from that horse, put it out to pasture and find a new steed.

There are a few key things I want to point out here, she IS making money, it's not that the business is failing. She does like some things about it, so it's not as simple as "if you don't like it, move on!" Making my work to answer to her question all the more difficult. {Thanks for the exercise, Kellie!}

1. Be Honest About Which Parts You Dislike

There are some parts about business that you will just have to get over. Invoicing, customer service, promoting yourself, engaging in social media with and about your industry, these kinds of things will be waiting for you at the next business you pursue. If it's those little tasks dragging you down, outsource them! Adding the most value you can and being the best at your business means you stay in your sweet spot, right? So outsource the non-sweet stuff! The second I outsourced all of the html and web stuff for my business, a big part of my start up success package I offer clients, I felt SO relieved. It is a disservice to yourself and your clients to spend hours on something you hate or are not good at when that time could be spent solving their problems or improving the product they want to purchase!

Now, If the meat of the work that makes you money, also makes you want to die, you've got a real problem. If your business grows and becomes super successful, you'll have more of it to do! Does that sound like a dream? To be super busy doing the work of the business, for example if you are in PR, does it sound awesome to ONLY come up with strategy and write copy and manage press for your clients? If there were NO small tasks to suck your time away? But if you are a PR consultant and what I just described sounds miserable, yet you love the hustle of networking and social media and selling and promoting of services, maybe you need to apply all that energy in a different industry.

2. Be Honest About Actually Making Money

With what I wrote above, I feel I need to add the disclaimer that you can't make money from just networking, social media-ing and promoting. You HAVE to actually do the work you promote! You have to have a product or services to sell, you can't just grow a platform for platform's sake. Well, unless you're independently wealthy I guess. You have to have both parts. A writer who loves to write, but never sells an article, completes a book, or promotes their writing is never going to make a full-time living as a writer. A writer who hustles and does tons of marketing and networking and awesome social media-ing but only dabbles in writing, same bag. Can you outsource the actual meat of the work? Well, possibly, but the chances of earning a living yourself AND outsourcing all of the actual work are pretty low unless you've grown to the point of being able to afford full-time employees.

What about passive income?
Ah, yes, the very sexy idea of running an entirely passive income business. It can be done, as we know from all of the people who have done it and then wrote blogs and books about it. But as, the experts in the area will tell you, it's not passive it was at the beginning. They had to set up the million moving parts that eventually added up to a full-time salary. Putting up affiliate links only works if people are going to your site, right? How do you get people to your site? A lot of hard work, that's how!

3. Be Flexible

In her question she said, "give yourself permission to dismount" which is interesting because it sounds like her gut has already told her this business isn't the right fit for her. Don't get stuck in Shouldland - "I should keep up this business because it makes money." "I should keep up this business because I've been doing it two years," "I should love running my own business", etc. 

Greatness is a moving target.

Your best self, your best life, and your best business, it's all a moving target. I think that is why so few people will REALLY define their brand, as I wrote about last week on Entrepreneur.com. I think it's why so few choose a theme for the year or long term goals for themselves. They don't want to layout their entire journey right now. I'm not suggesting you do. I'm suggesting you choose a direction.

Over the next year, even six months, you will grow and evolve and so will your business. So give yourself permission to tweak some things. If you only like one of your services and the rest are a struggle, scrap them. It may have to be gradual so you don't lose a giant chunk of your income, but work to become the absolute best at the one service or product that is closest to your sweet spot. Once you're a master at it, you can also charge more for it.

4. Be Strategic About What's Next

So, it's time to go or time to change? Don't lose all the hard work you've put in over the years by radically jumping out of one area into another. I imagine it would be challenging for an accountant to suddenly open a creative marketing consultancy. It would definitely seem random and odd to the list of accounting clients that he had grown throughout building his business. Why would any of those clients switch over and suddenly starting sending him their advertising dollars? It wouldn't make sense. If he has a burning passion to create a creative agency, he could transition to general business consulting. Strategy for business seems like a logical side step for an accountant, right? Then after a year to 18 months, during which time he started to propose creative ideas and outsource some design work, perhaps he could begin transitioning from general business consulting to "creative business problem solving" or "marketing consulting."

You've heard it before, your businesses shouldn't run you, you should run your business. If you saw the headline to this article and thought YES! It's killing me! Friend, it's your time to make a change. Don't wait!

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How to Price Your Products and Services

How to Price Your Products and Services

Many solopreneurs and small business owners struggle with the same issues. Instead of try and write out my answers for you guys, I'm handing it over to experts in each industry, because each of you have unique challenges.  As pain points are brought up in the Go Solo Facebook Group, I will add to this series.

In gathering these links for the first post in this series, I would be willing to bet the farm that you are undercharging - have the courage to quit that!

Get Over Your Fears of Charging for Your Gifts!

Getting Started

Pricing Coaching

Price Event Planning

Pricing Writing Services

Pricing Graphic Design Services

Pricing Interior Design Services

Pricing Photography

Pricing Personal Training

Pricing Public Speaking

Pricing Virtual Assistant Services

Pricing Consulting Services

Web Development Services

What have I left out here? Disagree with any of these? Leave a comment!