3 Ways to Nurture Leads You Were Never Taught

Posted by on Jan 15, 2014 in Entrepreneur, Featured, marketing | 0 comments

We are all connected. “Look up at the stars, they are the same ones I see”, is a go-to saying to folks when we have to be separated by miles. Connecting to one another is built into our core programming. All romances ultimately revolve around affirmation and acknowledgement. We thrive when we are reminded we are not alone. “Can you see me?” “Yes.” “Am I awesome?” “Yes, yes you are.” Done! Happily ever after.  I get it, you are overwhelmed. The word traction has been burnt into your mind.  You must get traction to prove your idea should live. Traction means real people using and ideally paying for your product. The vision for the perfect product often becomes blinding. The trenches of managing the product makes it difficult to see the world in which your potential users live. Entrepreneurs become bogged down with distractions. Motivation becomes centered around the product vision. 1. Re-Define Your Customer by Giving Them Back a Human Identity Listen to your customers Learn from them Encourage yourself and your team to engage them Then, only then can you attach numbers and analytics to them. Think of your leads as customers instead of numbers.  Treat them like customers, customers you already have. Use the numbers and the data to better serve them. Give them the best experience possible and they will be more than traction. They will trust you. Look up to you. Those customers will be your evangelists. Have a doctor’s mindset: Stop thinking like a salesperson. Instead, think like a doctor. When a patient walks into a doctor’s office with a problem, does the doctor state her solution at the beginning of the visit? No way. Instead, the doctor spends time examining the problem, asking questions and then, only when she’s confident she has the right answers, does she offer a solution. Apply this same approach to your selling.” –  by Marc Wayshak, Entrepreneur.com Invest in a quality contact management system. I have seen it done well in Excel, Highrise and Salesforce. Choose a system that works best for you. Record interactions with customers giving a seamless experience to the customer no matter which person on staff they work with. An impressive extra that startups have been adding is asking customers for a list of folks on their staff who are A-OK to talk with about their account. One startup even has their own, “safeword” (their word, not mine). That way instead of Samantha, your customer service gal, asking for your customer’s account number, she will ask them for their name. If their name isn’t in your contact management system then you ask for the business email address and safeword. If the person doesn’t know the special key...

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How to Evolve Leveraging Hurdles

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Entrepreneur, Featured, Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

When life gives me lemons I tend to think about opening a lemonade stand. There is always a bright side, always an opportunity even if it looks pretty drab and dreary. Bright sides don’t need to be bold and loud like rainbows and kittens, they are most often subtle. Developing the techniques and way to overcome obstacles, leverage hurdles and come out stronger, faster and wiser than before is ultimately what is going to get us to the finish line. When I enter the room a lot of attention gets drawn to my limp. The limp: I am quite proud of it since I have only been able to have it for a couple of months. Before that, I was re-learning to walk. I want you to learn from my obstacle. Leverage my experience to prepare your startup and team. Think of yourselves as startup hurdle athletes. Before long you will be framing blue ribbons! the Bus Factor Finding that extra special developer was hard and the designer was even harder. Don’t even think about leaving out that amazing sales person; startups love their talent. However, the conversation around points of failure helps identify how to distribute or eliminate risk. Instead of being worried about the most import widget breaking in the night or the servers going down because someone tripped over the power cable you have to consider what if one of the team gets hit by a bus? Okay, not literally hit by a bus (knock on wood) but somehow out of commission. “Unfortunately, most startups don’t have any slack in the system and the hit by bus factor is very high. If a random life event causes someone on your team to have to leave your office for a week or for a month make sure to give your teammates the tools to work from where ever they happen to be.”- Wade Foster, 23 Things That Don’t Matter When Starting a Startup and 2 Things That Do What Really Matters – The Must Have List So, while it wasn’t a bus… I did get hit by a car… In May, coming home from a networking event in Seattle, my husband, one year old daughter and I were plowed into. Thankfully the auto collision only put me out of commission. Two surgeries later, I found myself unable to do most of what I loved, things I had taken for granted. I hadn’t planned for what would need to be done in order to cover my workload. What I wasn’t able to do: Type Take care of myself or my family Take care of our farm Work What I was able to do: Write with my left hand Talk Meditate Work...

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5 Ways to Love Yourself as an Entrepreneur

Posted by on Dec 2, 2013 in Entrepreneur, Featured | 0 comments

Life as an entrepreneur rarely means you can expect life to slow down, bring you an iced tea and tell you to sit back and relax. Self care can be something that gets put on the back burner. Have you been putting off a vacation until fundraising is over? Or maybe until you’ve hired a new CTO? Maybe you’re trying to work only 60 hours to squeeze in a little more sleep? While catching up with a long time client, she expressed to me her sincere exhaustion. She was tired and she was feeling horribly guilty about it. Luckily, I was able to catch her and gently remind her that her time and energy are a limited resource. Have you been to yoga recently? She shook her head and began to rattle off reasons on why, I once again interjected: it’s time to start loving yourself like you love your business. 1. Remember that you are Awesome! Practice the art of letting compliments sink in. Not that you need your ego stroked but you do need energy, you need to feel supported and you need to feel acknowledged. Let the compliment sink in as truth. Envision it as a crowd of supporters cheering you during a long race when your body and mind is tired. You can summon up a sprint or two with people cheering you on. 2. Change for the Positive Even if criticism can be labeled as constructive it is typically negative when we do it to ourselves. Stop the criticism. If your last round of funding was a bit of a flop, that isn’t a reflection on you. Maybe it’s time to pivot the business, seek outside help or find a better thought partner and investor.  If you find yourself sinking into a hole of negative thoughts it most likely is because you need to recharge. 3. Rest and Relax R&R isn’t just for vacations or something to be scheduled out 6 months in advance. Plus, to be the best leader you can be you need your creative batteries fully charged. Don’t drain yourself to the point of not being able to be nimble. Tomorrow you might win the lotto of traction and find yourself with a whole new set of startup problems. Skip the solitary life for workouts and book a variation of yoga classes, join a Meetup group or, if you are in Seattle, walk with the Geeks on a Trail.  4. Acknowledge Your Tribe What feels better than getting a gift? Getting genuine positive acknowledgement! The pillars of your business are not going to be found in degree framed on your wall, nor will you find strength and stability in the investor money sitting in...

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Refocus: Must Haves VS Nice to Haves

Posted by on Nov 9, 2013 in Entrepreneur, Featured, marketing, Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

Admit it, you are multitasking and it is failing you. Don’t worry, you are not alone. When I gather entrepreneurs into a group the common theme that always bubbles up is a lack of resources with an over-abundance of ideas. Those who are actively learning to master the art of focus get that the real goal is traction. Period. Must Have VS Nice to Have Here is the secret sauce, but I am going to warn you first, this information isn’t going to be of much value unless you put it into action. Sticky notes: Rummage through your junk drawer and find those lonely pack of sticky notes Pens: Test and try out pens from that same junk drawer and choose a couple that can be trusted. Quiet Space: Either lock yourself in a room or turn off all distractions. Flop on the floor: Armed with sticky notes, a pen and a quiet place to work it’s time to belly flop on the floor, you are ready to create. Start Writing: Write one thing per sticky note of tasks or projects you think need to be done for your business. Time to Sort: Now take each sticky note and ask yourself, “Is this something I must do in order to get my business from point A to point B, or is this something that is a nice to have and has a low probability of progressing the business?” The reason you are currently belly flopped on the floor is that I want the sticky notes to be within arms reach. Plus, it limits your ability to get distracted. Once you have finished sorting your sticky notes by Must Dos and Nice to Haves, move them into two pretty columns. Whew! Now you can stand up and grab your cell phone I know you are itching to look at. Flip to the camera, hover over your hard work and take a few pictures of your two lists. Then go grab your tablet or laptop and flop back on the floor, time to record all of those great sticky notes. Personally, I typically recommend recording both columns in a Google Doc spreadsheet. Must Haves 1st Now, you have a list of things that will move your business from Point A to Point B. This will be a test of will: can you stick to this list? Can you keep your focus and maintain the goal of maximizing your resources? Yes, I know you can. Common Must Haves: Setup analytic reports: Google Analytics allows you to create custom reports that will magically be delivered to your email inbox. Reduce the time you need to hunt through Google Analytics and get a digest...

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Still Afraid of Writing Content?

Posted by on May 14, 2013 in Entrepreneur, Featured, marketing, Search Marketing, Tips & Tricks | 0 comments

Ta da! We are now living in a world of endless information. Whether you find yourself surfing Pinterest or lost in a Wikipedia hole users are still distributing a great deal of their time looking at search results. Google, its country cousin Yahoo and city boy step brother Bing are all happy to keep us marketers, entrepreneurs, Grandma’s, lady-with-broken-sink, or person-looking-for-a-dog-sitter hunting for just the right link, just the right answer. What Questions Do Customers Ask You? Sitting down with a friend of mine who decided to join the ranks of entrepreneurs, he was puzzled by how to compete with the Goliath’s of his industry. It wasn’t service, products, or even price he was confused about; it was search. To make it simple: what answers do you have that the web doesn’t? Can you position yourself as best-in-show when it comes to expertise? By taking commonly asked questions to your blog and using the content for social networks you are in a prime position to win over ready-to-buy-leads. Here is an example: So Fido needs to be watched for a couple days and my first search is casual. I have a few weeks until I need to make a decision and my neighbor next door might be able to watch the furry beast. However, getting closer to the vacation date, I still need to choose a sitter. This time I have a dollar figure in mind so I search for: Once again, I get three ads. Yet, what is different about this search? Some of you search savvy folks might jump up and say, “OH OH! Long tail, long tail, pick me! LONG TAIL!”. Yes, you would be right, but my conversion optimization folks would probably say this kind of search is a step beyond research: I am a user that is closer to being interesting in buying. So, dog sitters and dog sitting websites, I am a person in need of your services; I am your prey. Yet, when I was vulnerable at the watering hole only one lion was there with a result that was close to relevant. Take this as an opportunity to go back to your writing desks with a strategy to provide valuable information that will attract visitors looking to convert to customers. Publish Both Questions AND the Answers Writing content, good content, is going to take time. Yet, if you can imagine yourself behind the counter and a customer walks up to you asking the most common questions, how do you respond? If it helps, record yourself and type out your responses to be used in blog posts, pages and on your social media channels. Content Dipped in Gold Make a template: Add to your blog post or page...

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