All posts by Rich Thurman

Why You Need a Business Vision

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here is a saying that goes like this: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.” When running a business, if you skip steps because you think they don’t matter (because you just have a “small” business or a “sole proprietorship” and it’s just you), then you’re not going to be able to build a sustainable business that will provide the security and future that you desire. A business vision allows you to think big in terms of your dreams, but to also think big in terms of how you can reach those dreams.

While your first goal is likely to turn a profit, there are other things that are important to care about too. Any successful project actually starts with the end in mind. Even if you build houses for a living, the thing you should concern yourself with is the end result of the livable house, not the first nail you hammer. Without a clear picture of the end result, you won’t even know where to put that first nail.

Therefore, starting with the end in mind will help you create a business that is successful because you’ll know where you’re going.

Helps You Create a Sustainable Business

If you have a vision, you can have a long-term business that grows and evolves as time moves forward.

Creates a Business Not a Job

If you really want a business that lasts longer than week to week and month to month, you need a vision.

Helps You Develop a Growing Business

If you want your vision to grow, you will need to know where you’re going so that you can create a plan to get there.

Allows You to Live Your Passions and Do What You Love

While the first thing a business wants may be to earn a profit, the first thing most people want is to live a happy life doing what they love. By creating a business vision you can do both.

Knowing Your Vision Helps You Choose Like-Minded Contractors

If you know what you stand for, you can tell those you interview for positions so that you can ensure that together your visions align.

Your Vision Signifies to Others What You Stand For

Your business vision will let customers, contractors and employees know what you stand for, above money, well into the future.

Your Vision Helps You Know Your Exit Plan

A sustainable business always needs an exit plan. After all, someday you will want to retire, and having a vision can assist with ensure that comes true.

Your Vision Helps You Create Systems

Knowing the end point in mind, you can work your way back to today and create a system to reach your goals.

Your Vision Helps You Market to Your Audience

If you know where you’re going, and why you’re going there, and who your market is, you’ll be able to create more targeted marketing messages.

Helps Your Offerings Become More Unique

Your business vision enables you to create unique offerings throughout your product funnel, ultimately leading to the big dream vision you have for your business.

It should be clear that having a business vision isn’t optional if you want to be successful. Don’t fail to plan; instead, develop your business vision to align with your beliefs, values, and goals so that you can accomplish your dreams.

Nine Common Video Marketing Mistakes

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s you embark on making videos for your audience, be sure to avoid making these mistakes. Some of them might seem advanced in nature, but if you start off right, you won’t have to reorganize or go back and edit anything. You’ll be glad that you did things right too, from the start.

Not Being Concerned with SEO

When publishing videos, the point is to market your business. But, you cannot ignore the details like creating a keyword-rich title and tags. Plus, it's imperative to put it in the right categories and provide a full description of the video, so that viewers know what to watch and why it's relevant to them.

Not Linking Out to Your Website

Not only should you link out to your website but you should also consider making special landing pages for your YouTube viewers to come to. You may even want to make a special landing page for a specific video, to help your audience make good choices when it comes to buying your products and services.

Not Targeting Your Audience Appropriately

When you make any one video, you need to know exactly who it is directed toward. This is where creating individual audience profiles will help. If you know which member of your audience you're talking to, you'll be able to direct every word of your video to the better.

Not Giving Thought to the Thumbnail You Choose

YouTube lets you chose a thumbnail that best represents the content of the video. You want to choose one that gets people's attention, and you should be thinking of this before you even create the video. What thumbnail will get the most attention from the right audience?

Not Including Strong CTAs

A call to action is one of the most important aspects of any marketing that you do. Whether it's a blog post or a video, you need to include a call to action such as subscribe, give me a thumbs up, or go to my website. It needs to be something you say to your listeners to move them toward the next step.

Not Including Closed Captions

The reason you want to add closed captions is because some people who are deaf like watching videos too, and also because the captions will help with social media. Here is a video that explains how to create them. You probably do not want to use YouTube's automation until it is perfected:

Not Allowing Comments

The worst thing you can do is to create a video that gets a lot of comments, become overwhelmed and then turn them off. Social media is meant to be social, so you need to not only allow comments but also to encourage them. Then take the time to respond to each comment too.

Not Creating Playlists

Playlists allow you to create a "greatest hits" list so that your audience can know what to watch on various topics. This will also help your videos rank higher and get more views. Just go to uploads, select some videos, then click playlists, and create a new playlist.

Not Promoting Your Own Videos

It's important to take the time to promote your videos as well. Share on your own social media networks, providing a fresh blurb for each share, and then ask your friends and family to share. Don't forget to embed the video on your website, and send out an announcement that you've uploaded a new video to your newsletter subscribers.

Finally, another big mistake is not putting up videos on a regular basis. Making videos can take a long time when you are doing it right, but putting up more videos more often will pay off big time with more views, more engagement and more sales.

How to Position Yourself as an Expert

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ne of the best ways to improve your value is to become an expert. Positioning yourself as an expert requires knowledge, skill and perseverance. If you don’t have those things right now, you can develop them as you move to position yourself as an expert. So don’t worry if you’re not there yet; you can get there.

Determine Who Your Audience Is

Knowing who you want to work with and help is very important, because you will be able to create better services, products, information and education for them if you know who they are.

Decide upon a Niche

Once you know your audience you can narrow down your focus to one problem your audience has. That is your niche. If you can solve a major problem that your audience has, you're golden.

Develop Your Brand

Once you figure out who your audience is, and what your niche is, you can start developing a brand. Is the brand going to be you, or is the brand going to be the solution? One will always require your presence, and another might be salable. It's up to you.

Get a Professional Website Created

You can't present yourself as an expert with an amateurish website. It needs to be professional, and unless your expertise is web design it's not likely you can do this for yourself. The words on the site, the design of the site, the images on the site, all need to be created by individual experts.

Set Up Your Social Media Profiles

As you brand yourself, you'll need to set up each of your social media profiles so that your brand works throughout the internet. While each social media site has its own personality, yours should show through.

Start Blogging and Getting Your Ideas Out There

Even as your website is being perfected, you can blog to show your expertise. Write your blogs directly to your audience to educate them about their problems so that you can start offering your solutions.

Write White Papers

A white paper is a good intro to organizing information to educate your audience about their problems and your solutions.

Make Videos

Creating "how to" and informational videos and posting them on YouTube is a great way to position yourself as more of an expert.

Write eBooks

As you gather more material, you'll eventually have enough to put together an eBook without too much work.

Publish on Kindle

You can publish your book and sell it via Kindle free. It's a great way to get new customers.

Consider Publishing a Paper Book

Once you've successfully published a Kindle book, you might want to take it a step further as you get a large following and publish a paper book. You can do this with print on demand via CreateSpace.com and Amazon.

Go to Live and Online Events

Networking at live and online events will help you get used to the idea of being at these events so that eventually you can present at them. It will also help you build relationships.

Present at Live and Online Events

With your books you have a platform for your message, and you can now take that and speak at live events, both online and offline.

Get Active on Social Media

Don't just set up social media profiles and be invisible. You want to participate, share your knowledge and connect with others so you can build relationships.

Get on a Speaker's List or Two

Contact different groups and offer speaking services to them. Create a "one sheet" with the information about the types of talks you give.

Keep Going

Don't stop; keep going. Each thing that you do will build on the next thing, and before you know it you're positioned as an expert and the sky is the limit.

Becoming an expert is a process. At first you will feel as if you'll never make it, but everything you do builds on the next thing and eventually it will snowball to true success. Once it happens, part of you will feel as if it happened overnight, but in truth everything you did above built on the next thing and finally people started seeing you as an expert.

What Constitutes a Fruitful Task?

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hen people start their own business they often think it’s going to be all dollars and doughnuts, not realizing that it’s also work. To produce dollars to buy doughnuts, productive billable work will need to be accomplished, or sellable products will have to be made and sold. In business there are tasks that produce results and some that are out-and-out wastes of time.

But, how do you know when something is a fruitful task and something is just a time waster?

There are a few major ways business owners waste time:

Busy Work

Many business owners spend a lot of time doing things that feel like work, but aren’t really productive. How many times can you edit and rewrite that blog post? How many times can you redo your website, or scour social media before you realize it’s not productive?

Social Media

It’s a great way to market your business but it can be distracting, so you need to time yourself and have a specific task in mind before getting on social media during work hours. Create a list of actions that you will take and stick to those and nothing else.

Email Checking

You need a business email and a personal email. Check your personal email only off business hours, and check your work email at specific intervals throughout the day with specific actions in mind. For instance, don’t read all those newsletters you signed up for every time; set aside a specific time for that.

Phone Calls

Meetings and phone calls seem productive, but are they really? They are if you have an agenda and stick to the agenda and don’t waiver off into other territory and just start chatting mindlessly. If you’re not good at doing that, try to eliminate as many phone calls and meetings as possible by using project management software.

Outside Distractions

The TV, email notification beeping, friends calling and so forth are all distractions that you can reduce or eliminate during work hours if you make it your goal. If your goal is to earn money, just ask yourself before you do anything, “Is this task getting me closer to my goal?” If the answer is no, stop doing it.

Ask yourself the following questions before doing any activity:

  • Is this activity planned and scheduled?
  • Is the project defined with a deadline?
  • Is the activity goal producing?

If you can answer yes to the above questions, then it may be a good task to keep doing and not a time waster. However, if you can answer no to the following questions, the activity is likely not fruitful and is a time waster.

  • If you stop doing this activity will it affect your business?
  • Is this activity billable?
  • Will this activity produce income?

The great thing is that you can choose not to waste time; once you have identified actual time wasters, you can seek to eliminate them from your day. Once you accept that some of what you’re doing is just busy work and not actually work that will move you toward your end goal of producing income, you’ll be able to stay on track.

Top Apps to Help You Run Your Business Lean and Mean

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hen it comes to running a lean business, the name of the game is efficiency. You want to use apps that increase your efficiency and help you do more in less time.

PayPal

This is a no-brainer today, as many people like paying for their online purchases via PayPal. There are other online payment processors and certainly you need more than one, but PayPal is going to be the one most people choose to use.

Link - https://www.paypal.com/

Go Daddy Bookkeeping

This is single entry bookkeeping that helps you keep track of income and expenses automatically. It connects with FreshBooks, PayPal and your bank to help eliminate data entry issues.

Link - https://bookkeeping.godaddy.com/

FreshBooks

This is an invoicing system with some project management, budgeting, and accounting features. You can use it with many other types of bookkeeping apps like Go Daddy Bookkeeping, but also with some others that you might like. It offers time tracking and the ability to manage a team's work.

Link - http://www.freshbooks.com/

Basecamp

This is project management software that is low cost, and people love it. It helps arrange tasks, reminders, and more. Your clients can sign in too, or you can just use it to manage a team of contractors.

Link - https://basecamp.com/

TeamworkPM

This is another project management tool to use that will do all the things Basecamp does. It is more designed for working with teams and clients who don't like signing on to anything and prefer using email.

Link - https://www.teamwork.com/

Microsoft Office 365

Using MS Office is almost essential when working from home. Although you can use some free services like OpenOffice.org, MS Office is still the main one that most people use. And you'll need it. Instead of buying the software outright you can use the online service for a monthly fee. What's wonderful about that is that you do not have to worry about updates.

Link - https://products.office.com/

Dropbox.com

This is a file sharing and storing solution that works great with your clients and team. It's not expensive and they even have a free version. They have also developed a project business version.

Link - https://dropbox.com/

Evernote

This is free software that enables you to keep track of notes from the web, voice, photos, and more, even handwritten notes. This is great for planning and organizing new products and services.

Link - https://evernote.com/

Hootsuite

If you manage social media for others, or yourself, using a service that allows you to automate some issues will cut down on the time that you use for doing things.

Link - https://hootsuite.com/

Zendesk

If you have a lot of customer service issues, this is a great way to set up a ticketing system. Ticketing systems will save you a lot of time and effort.

Link - https://www.zendesk.com/

Mozy

This is a backup system that will save you from disaster. Saving on an external drive is not good enough; it's safer and better to save your computer's files in the cloud. Then if you lose your entire home, computer, external drive and all, your work is safe.

Link - https://mozy.com/

WordPress.org

Starting a website with WordPress.org self-hosted website is very important. And, outside of special platforms like membership sites (for example the New Rainmaker platform) and personalized websites, it's free.

Link - https://wordpress.org/

AWeber

Whether you use AWeber or another autoresponder service is not as important as actually using one. The time you can save, plus the ability to easily stay lawful in your communications with others, is amazing.

Link - http://www.aweber.com/

You don't need every one of these apps to run a lean business as some of them do the same thing. Choose which apps work best for your niche and the way you have designed your work flow. Remember that the more efficient you can become using apps, the leaner your business can become.

Structure of Successful Facebook Ad Campaigns

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o create a successful Facebook ad campaign, it’s important to follow some sort of structure so that you will not miss anything important. Remember that even experienced pilots use a checklist to ensure that they do not forget anything that is necessary. You aren’t in charge of 300 souls, but you still want to use a checklist to ensure that you don’t miss out on anything.

Define Your USP

A unique selling point or a unique selling proposition is what makes you different from others who may be in the same market as you. It's important that you define this for yourself.

Know Who Your Audience Is

Who wants what you have to offer? Who needs your solutions? You need to know so that you can properly segment your audience, not to mention create better products and services.

Pick Representative Images

When choosing images it's important to choose some that get attention but also are representative of the tone, image, and market you want to represent.

Develop Ad Titles

Write different advertisement titles based on the audience you want to attract. You may have several sub-segments of your audience that will respond to titles in different ways. 

Write the Ad Copy

Based on your USP, the titles, your goals and images, write the ad copy that you want your audience to click on. You may need to hire a copywriter due to the fact that space is limited and you want it to be set up right.

Make Different Combos

When you make your advertisements it's important to make various combinations of ads. You don't want to run just one type of ad; you want to choose different combinations so that you can see what works best.

Segment Your Audience

The segments you choose will dive deep into the different audiences that you have, and also help you better define your audience. You can segment by age, targeted groups, locations, and even specific people.

Determine Which Formats

You can choose marketplace ads, post ads, sponsored stories, and also Facebook objects. These types of ads offer different benefits determined by your goals, so the type of ad you choose will be very much dependent on what your goals are.

Choose Bidding Strategy

Whether you choose PPC or CPM will make a difference. When you're new it is recommended that you choose CPM to maximize your budget and get a better ROI.

Set Your Budget

How much are you willing to pay based on your bidding strategy? You can set up a daily budget which you can easily pause and restart as you check the results.

Test Everything

You cannot be sure if your campaigns are working if you aren't testing everything.

It is imperative to structure your ad campaigns so that they fit in with what you're blogging about and talking about on social media, and that align with where you are and what you're doing right now in your business.

How to Use Webinars and Teleseminars to Market Your Business

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f you really want to extend your reach, online webinars and teleseminars are a great way to do it. You can easily connect with thousands of people, or small groups, using the technology that runs teleseminars and webinars. All you need is a decent computer and high speed internet access. They will maximize the sales of your offerings, and help you build up your email list. All-in-all, hosting webinars and teleseminars are great marketing tools that any business can use.

Choose the Tools

There are many different systems that you can use to run a webinar or teleseminar. By far, the best service out there is Zoom.Us

Webinar Registration

One great thing about a webinar or teleseminar is that people have to register, which is a great way to collect potential customer or client information. It's also a great way to build your email list, which is a very important aspect of building a business today.

Choose Your Niche

If you already know your audience, the niche should be simple to pick. You want to niche it down to fit a narrow focus so that your webinar or teleseminar is easy to promote to your audience because it solves a problem that they have.

Develop a Big Idea

Based on your audience and the niche, it's important to also develop the "big idea," which will propel your webinar into the next level and make a real difference to your audience.

Tell Your Story

One good way to approach a webinar is to incorporate your own story into the promotion and niche for your audience during the webinar. People want to hear your story and how you did it. Whatever it is.

Get Help

There are experts that will help run your webinar or teleseminar for you, where all you have to do is come up with the content and show up. That's a great way to do your first webinar. Plus, you can ask for joint venture partners to spread the work around.

Get Organized

Set a launch date and work backwards within your calendar to set up the tasks that need to be done, by whom, and with a due date too. Push out all the work that is assigned to others immediately, and work on your stuff.

Plan Ahead

Always plan ahead, and don't put things off until the last moment. If you want a successful webinar or teleseminar, stick to your plans in your calendar so that you won't forget anything.

See It Through

Once you set the date and start making plans, it's important to stick to it and see it through. Whether the first webinar you do is a success or failure, you will learn something new.

Using webinars and teleseminars to market your business is a great way to get social credibility, build your business larger, reach new clients and create buzz. You can add webinars or teleseminars easily into the things you already do for your business.

Eight Ways to Get Help Inexpensively

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hen you first start a business it can be on a very small budget. Perhaps you do not have the funds to outsource and pay as much or almost anything to get the help. Don’t worry, because there are ways to get help inexpensively.

Fiverr

Fiverr.com is a website where people offer their services for just five bucks. There are providers who have moved up the ranks who charge more, but those starting out still are only five bucks. Take a look at their ratings and ask around who is the best one for the services you need.

Your Children

Even young children can help you with your business; whether it's data entry, filing, or cleaning the house to free you up to do other things. Older kids can do a lot of amazing things, so don't discount hiring your own children.

Your Spouse

It might be a hard sell to get your spouse to help you, but they are usually wonderful sources of work and they can be free, or you can legally hire them as a deduction in your business.

Your Network

If you have joined any networks, whether they are colleagues or not, you can go to them to find people to help you inexpensively. Perhaps you can barter with each other to get things done.

High School Students

You cannot legally use high school students who aren't family members free, but you can pay them a bit less than you would an expert. Even if they just help you with housework and childcare, that is something that gives you more time to work your business.

College Interns

Local universities and community colleges are great places to find interns to use in your business. This is a highly talented pool of people, especially when it comes to technology. It's important to know that you do need to pay them something and offer them a lot of education.

Elance.com

You can find inexpensive outsourcers on Elance. The price will vary depending on where the outsourcer lives and also what their expertise is. Make sure you put up a good proposal and set your budget.

oDesk.com

This is another place like Elance which has people to hire that can help you inexpensively. Be careful and don't take the lowest bid, as the lowest is not always going to be better.

These eight ways to get help with your business are tried and true methods that work. You can get help without spending tons of money. You also have to remember that anything that you can get someone else to do is worth it if it costs less than you can earn per hour doing your main service or selling your main product.

Eight Reasons Press Releases Still Works

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ress releases are highly underrated these days. Whether you have a digital business or a bricks and mortar business, you should still be sending out press releases for each newsworthy event that your business participates in. New products, new services, events, and anything that your business does or accomplishes that is important to the industry should include a press release. Here are eight reasons why.

Provides Links to Your Website

Even though there is controversy about whether or not press releases are good for SEO due to Google's algorithm change that doesn't count them anymore, the truth is they are still good for SEO in terms of providing links to your site that people will click on.

A Permanent Record of Events

They are great for keeping a permanent record of events in your business. If you file them away, you can use them later to document the progress of your business.

Unfiltered Information

A press release, due to how it's written (with guidelines and the specific newsworthy story), has truly unfiltered information without the fluff. Therefore, if your release is picked up, it will mean something to the readers.

Attracts New Audiences

Blogging and social media posts are great ways to get people to visit your website, but a press release can attract entirely new people within your audience to come to your website.

Improves Your Brand Image

Real businesses send out press releases. If you want your business to be taken seriously, you should be sending them out when you release a new product, plan an event, or do something that is newsworthy in your industry.

Potential to Go Viral

Any well-written press release that you've sent out that has something to do with current events will have an opportunity to become viral. Once something like that goes viral, you'd better be prepared for the onslaught of visitors.

Great Additional Content on Your Website

When your press release is picked up by major press, link to that website with the press release on it. This is a great way to get information "as seen on" to impress your website visitors. This gives you additional content to talk about when you post your press releases.

Gives You Proper Bragging Rights

When your press release is picked up by a major news source, it's great to be able to put their logos on your website due to the fact that you've been seen in their publications.

If you don't think press releases work, then you need to give them a try. The next time you have a newsworthy event, experiment with sending out a press release. It's important that you follow advice and get some professional help with sending them out, though. Also, don't just send them in a way that they go everyplace; find out whom to send them to in advance and send them directly to the right people.

Understanding Parallel Trends and How to Profit from Them

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aying attention to trends within your business is an important way to increase your profit. If you’re not aware of parallel trends within your business, then it’s time to look into them. An example would be if your business is DIY (doing it yourself) re-purposing furniture, there might be a trend within the business of redoing garbage finds found on the street into usable furniture and decor. This would be a parallel trend. If you’ve kept ahead of your industry, you’ll be one of the first to jump on this new trend within your area of business.

How to Keep Ahead of Your Industry

Create a Google Alert

Using keywords, industry names, movers' and shakers' names, and so forth, create alerts that will come straight to your inbox that you can use to notice and then profit from parallel trends.

Search Social Networks

Social media networks such as Twitter are terrific for identifying trending articles and information within any given business or industry. Do regular keywords searches within your area of business.

Use Innovative Tools

Using tools like Think with Google and The Internet Time Machine to learn about trends in your industry. These types of tools can help you notice trends sooner.

Here are my favorites:
Think with Google - http://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/
The Internet Time Machine - http://www.theinternettimemachine.com/
Answer The Public - https://answerthepublic.com/

Read Industry News

If you subscribe to industry blogs, newspapers and magazines, and observe the people within your area of business, then you’ll be able to see trends in advance of your customers and audience.

Poll Your Audience

What does your customers and audience want to know more about? Often, this is a great way to identify a parallel trend from which you can profit. Who better to help you identify parallel trends than the audience themselves?

How to Make Money and Profit

Once you identify a parallel trend within your business, then you need to use the information you know to increase your profit. Using the example above of DIYing garbage to usable furniture and décor, once the idea is identified you will:

  • Write blog posts about it – Where to find the garbage; what online sources to join to get free items to DIY, such as Freecycle.org, or Facebook groups devoted to giving away items.
  • Photograph examples – Do some DIYs from garbage yourself and take pictures of the process.
  • Teach others how to do it – Create lessons about how to DIY different types of potential garbage finds. Describe what makes good garbage finds to DIY.
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    Create plans to sell – Draw plans of every garbage DIY that you create.
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    Make videos of the process – Make videos of the entire process.
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    Curate other people’s work – Show examples of what others are doing.
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    Sell a how-to eBook – Combine everything into an eBook to sell.
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    Etc

Having identified the trends, go out and market them as much as you can. Since it is a trend, more people will be doing Google Searches for the trend because they’re going to see it everywhere. If you’re not writing about it, making products to help with it, and educating your audience about it, you’re missing out on huge profit potentials - not only in new products or services you can develop based off the parallel trend, but your regular products and services too.

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