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.

My group of email insiders gets extra solopreneur resources beyond what I post on the blog, don't miss out, sign up here.

#SmallBusinessSaturday #Solopalooza!

#SmallBusinessSaturday #Solopalooza!

I hope you saw my artice last week on Entrepreneur Magazine. If you have small business, this saturday, Small Business Saturday, should be like your superbowl. On the day of, I hope you'll join me in a #solopalooza. What does that mean? You are a solopreneur or serviced-based business. You promote your services or products and use the hashtag. You retweet others who use the hashtag to spread the love. I will be following twitter that day and retweeting everyone! Let's make our mark, we are just as important to local economy as retail stores, PLUS some of our products and services would make great gifts. HINT: Make a page for this event on your website with holiday packages or something easy for people to just click buy and cross a person off their list!

To get us started, here are some ideas. Why buy run of the mill stuff from big box stores when you can support small businesses? Consider grabbing one of these super cool items for the loved ones on your list this year:

My friend Corie Clark created a downright gorgeous planner. It's black, white, gold and glorious. It is a large plan-your-whole-life kind of planner, and includes Budget sheets, Menu plan sheets and Master task lists for the month. Then daily sheets include Quote/verse, Prayer/Praise, Water intake, Health, Brain dump, Retail therapy, Dinner.

$48.00 BUY HERE

 

My good friend Amy is a talented photographer (see my headshot and headers of my website!), designer and friend. She is also an author! She wrote a really cool Children's book featuring fun cats in a unique illustration style. She is going to go on to create more in her series and I'm pretty sure she's the next Sandra Boynton. Buy them up now and tell everyone "I knew her when!" after she hits it big.

$20 Hardcover BUY HERE

 

 

 

I have a keychain that I love from a friend I met on the interwebs. Her store, 163 Design Company, makes amazing wood items you can hang on your wall or keyring and everything in between!

SHOP

 

 

You may remember I did a feature on my fearless friend Elizabeth a while back. She is the next Kate Spade and she's started with Stationery. Fun cards with unique sayings will set your cards a part, or would make a fun gift set for a sassy friend.

SHOP

 

 

 

 

If you love your dog or know someone who does you need a portrait from my friend Kelly. This is not optional. Look at them. Just look. You're welcome.

SHOP

 

 

 

 

I plan to add to this list and keep sharing it throughout the holidays (because if you're like me you're totally still buying gifts up until Christmas Eve!) If you'd like to be featured, email me

 

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!

SHEquip

SHEquip

This I wrote about the amazing friend I made at Launch Out, Abbie, who quickly became my accountability partner. Well, we're taking "partner" to the next level today!

Calling all Female Entrepreneurs, Mompreneurs, Solopreneurs! You have URL and an idea, and not much else. You have an etsy shop with products and want to grow. You just started consulting or freelancing full-time - or hope to soon. You have a home business, blog, or hobby and want to make more money for your family. This is for YOU!

Abbie and I have combined our passion and our talents to create shequip - an organization that helps women start and build their small business.

We are so excited! Our mission is to inspire, empower and equip women to start and build a small business. The start can be the hardest part. So many questions, so many ideas, so many goals that seem so far away. We want to help women overcome all of that. If you are aspire to be a sassy, chic and savvy entrepreneur, mompreneur, or solopreneur, we want to connect with you!

Workshops

We believe that there is something special about face-to-face, leave-your-house, meet-other-people-as-crazy-as-you live events. It was at such an event that the our founders met. We will add online courses and recorded webinars in the future, but our heart is to get out and MEET YOU so we can equip, inspire and encourage you.

We want you to take a DAY OFF from everything else and focus on investing in your dreams. We want you to think of our events almost like a day-cation. You will leave shequip events with practical action items and how-tos to take your business to the next level. You will also leave feeling inspired and invigorated. You’ll be shequipped!  View Upcoming Workshop

checklistprintedResources

We want to provide women with tools to get started and gain momentum quickly. Check our our first resource, the Start It Up Checklist!

Community

It can be hard to build something, whether on the side apart from your full-time job, full-time from your craft room or physical store, from home as a mompreneur, or on your own as a solopreneur. We want to connect you with other women through local events in your area and our online community. To join us, sign up to receive emails and access to the private community group.

We will also be giving back to communities where we have events, giving 10% of proceeds to a local women's shelter or charity for women.

Women in small business, or aspring to be, hustlin' mama, frustrated young go-getter in a job you hate, nearing-retirement wise ones, we are here for you. Please join our community and let's build meaningful businesses together!

Will You Make It As A Solopreneur?

Will You Make It As A Solopreneur?

I follow, read, listen to, and watch a lot of solopreneurs. They're my people, after all. There's a cold hard truth I've been reading over and over again recently. The odds are against us. According to Bloomberg 8 out of 10 entrepreneurs fail and consultants have one of the worst success rates. Yikes.

BUT you're not going to be one of them and here's how you know that:

  1. You Don't Give Excuses Often
    Yes, business is personal for solopreneurs. We're often working one on one with people who become friends. If we get sick or have a family emergency we often have to tell our clients and we usually get a day or two of grace because we are a business of one. But at the end of the day this is business.  This is putting food on the table. This is paying mortgages and putting kids through college. For a client that's an employer it means multiple families' food, mortgages, tuitions. So hustle harder, longer, and better than ever before for yourself and your clients. Remember every time you end up offering an excuse a competitor is out there offering a solution. The more excuses you find yourself making to clients, customers and colleagues, the farther you are from your sweet spot. Either you're doing things you're not really passionate about (why), you're using the wrong methods (how/when/what), or you're working with the wrong people (who). Figure out which one is the issue and work to fix it ASAP.
  2. You Keep Generating Content Like it's Your Job
    You find it easy to keep coming up with content because you're in your sweet spot. I used to look at content marketers and think how can they contribute so many places online and blog so often?! Don't they run out of ideas?! If you're passionate about your service, about the VALUE you add to others, the answer is no. I now write a lot because I'm writing about the right things. I have lists of ideas for my site, for entrepreneur.com, for other sites, for interviews and for speaking engagements. It just keeps coming! That's thanks to God and thanks to the fact that I'm right where He designed me to be. If you're having trouble creating content, - which doesn't have to be writing, it may be programs, products, videos, case studies, reports, etc. - you may be outside of your wheelhouse, or you might be too isolated or just plain burnt out. Assess the situation and figure out why you have trouble creating. Remember content is king today, as a solopreneur you have GOT to keep creating!
  3. You Stick With What You Know
    After my book was finally launched, I was going to roll out a big online course. It would have basically been the content of my book turned into a weekly class over a few months. Maybe someday I will  still do that, but I doubt it. Instead, I went with my Start Up Success Package, because I've been doing it for years, with years of happy clients. It's what I know. It's what I'm really really good at. There is a lot of pressure today, even from yours truly, to add revenue streams, make digital products, and monetize all that you can. For good reason. But try and think of it as doing something you've always done in a new way. For me, that meant naming my service as a package, adding more structure and offering it as a digital product people can buy online, but it's the same branding and marketing service I've been offering businesses throughout my career. If you're feeling overwhelmed, try and step back and remind yourself you're just repackaging your awesomesauce. Same sauce, different package. Same great brain and heart of yours, same great product or service, just delivered differently.
  4. You Know Your Customer
    You are in the mind of your ideal client. You get them. You talk with them. You ask them questions. You speak their language. You lose sleep over what they lose sleep over. This can be achieved through surveys, closed facebook groups, actual conversations, blog comment threads, conventions, twitter search, however you acheieve it, you find a way. That's the key to selling and selling is what keeps you in the 20%!
  5. You Are Different From Your Competition
    I'm not going to lie to you, this is getting harder as our world gets smaller. It's tempting some days to crawl into a secret underground lab and do your best work so no one can steal it. But we all know that that won't work. We have to give generously and we want to, because we are losing sleep like I said in point 4. There is something that makes you different than your closest competitor. Is it the who, what, when, where, how, or why? It's got to be one of those. Next, can you quickly and clearly communicate what makes you different? It doesn't matter if you're different if no one can tell!

If you read the above 5 points and think uh oh, that's not me! That's not you - YET. Here are some helpful articles:

  • If you're having trouble with excuses, try going through the first part of my Action Guide to assess what your sweet spot TRULY is. Get it by signing up at the bottom of this post.
  • I help with ideas for content marketing and monetization in the Go Solo Facebook Group and my email list, get access to both at the end of this post.
  • I also help all of these points in my Start Up Success Package if you want strategic help to launch your business and have a roadmap for your first year!
  • Get to Know Your Customer (Business News Daily Article): http://www.businessnewsdaily.com/4890-customer-engagement-tips.html
  • Differentiate Yourself (Entrepreneur.com Article) f: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/190942

Do you struggle with one of these five areas? What's your biggest hurdle?

 

 

One Tactic to Get Focused

One Tactic to Get Focused

I've been doing some reading, researching, and watching lately. It's important to keep educating ourselves and learning new business tactics, right? Right. Lately I have noticed a recurring theme: focus. Laser focus, to be exact. I'm currently in the last editing stages of my book, planning a book launch party and tour, planning out my speaking calendar, preparing for my first online course, consulting for multiple business clients, coaching a couple awesome soloprenuers one-on-one, oh and you know, being a mom and a wife and planning the world's best Fun in the Sun Party First Birthday. Ummm Focus is hard.

Entrepreneurs wear many hats and are pulled in a million directions all the time - how are we supposed to have "laser" focus on just one thing? Or even just one aspect of our business? We're out there trying to create a culture, promote a brand, and then of course add revenue streams and additional products. Add social media platforms we "have to" be on to be relevant. Adding marketing tactics. Adding apps. Adding subscriptions to things. Here's what I've decided for myself. This is my new mantra starting Monday (after the birthday party ;)::

Remove. 

Remove remove remove remove. I might disable some social media accounts. I think I will put some business initiatives completely on hold until the book launch and tour is over. I might remove some of my external posting and marketing and focus just on my internal network of email subscribers. I might move some money around and hire an intern for some tasks so that I am not spending so much time designing these babies each week. In terms of mental and physical well being I'm thinking of removing coffee and/or sugar (pray for me). I haven't decided just quite what is going to go yet, but some things have got to go.

If we want to be the best, we have to focus. Focus means clearing the clutter, trimming the fat, and staying in our sweet spot.

Do you struggle with focus? What can you remove from your life or business to help you be a better you? 

Why You Should Take More Selfies

Why You Should Take More Selfies

Yes, you read that title correctly. I know, I know, right now everyone would rather talk about how we're all becoming narcissists. Note: If you are a teen or tween reading this and think "Hooray! Someone has given me permission to post more duck face 'photoshoots!'" NO. That is not happening.If, however, you are trying to build your personal brand in order to reach your next goal on your journey, or you are a consultant or small business owner, hear me out.

Content Marketing's Litte Brother
Content is King, you know what's Queen? Culture. Lifestyle. Finding like-minded people. Just think about who you follow actively online. Now think about your favorite posts of theirs. Some may be the most useful/helpful posts (content) but my guess is the next favorite is the one where you get a house tour, or a glimpse of what they're up to on a Saturday. Or getting to peek behind the curtain and see what their office looks like. Michael Hyatt has built an entire membership site so people can do just that - peek right into his home and business.

Let's Get Vulnerable! 
Permission to get real for a second. Remember in my first video, I mentioned that I had many reasons not to start. One of which is my weight. It hasn't been a year since I popped out a 9 lb 11 oz child. (I will always mention how much she weighed because that's a dag gum badge of honor if ever there was one!) I do not like to post selfies, which I realize is interesting since I post videos of myself each week, but in my videos I'm educating and entertaining and I can get lost in what I'm doing. A photo, however, is static and can be analyzed and usually I hate how they look. But they get the most likes. More than my adorable kid and more than my dogs and more than my inspirational quotes. Look through and see which of your interactions get the best response? The personal ones! Why? Because people are following YOU. Not your dogs or cat or your meals (unless you are a chef or nutritionist or something.) Yes, they're following your business and products too, but people want to CONNECT. They want to be part of a culture where they fit in, and seeing your real life helps them do that.

So, don't go crazy or anything, but start incorporating selfies and real life snapshots into your blog/social media strategy. You'll be glad you did, and so will your followers!

For some great examples and tips on how to implement culture in your business, subscribe to my insiders group below!