Build Your DREAM Solo Business – Part 2 – Refine

In honor of Martin Luther King Day we are doing a DREAM themed Solo Biz Bite week – 5 steps to creating your dream business –
D = Define; R = Refine; E = Execute; A = Amplify; M = Mold.

In the first video we looked at the importance of Defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. In this second video we look at the steps you need to take to refine that idea. Following the Lean Startup model, it is about making sure you know what people want before building out your actual offering – and it will save you a lot of wasted time, energy and money.

Build Your DREAM Solo Business: Part 1 – Define

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In honor of Martin Luther King Day we are doing a DREAM themed Solo Biz Bite week – 5 steps to creating your dream business –
D = Define; R = Refine; E = Execute; A = Amplify; M = Mold.

In this first part we look at the importance of defining what you are going to do as a business before you take any steps to actually put a plan into action. You need to define what you want this creation to do for YOU in order that you don’t spend time and effort building something only to find that it falls flat.

Twitter Video: More Than 6 Seconds…

Do you remember Vine? Vine was a way to create quick 6 second snippets of video and put them on Twitter. I sort of thought of it as the Haiku of online video marketing. What could you really convey in a tiny amount of time. They say that a picture is worth a thousand words and the tiny Vines did manage to convey a lot.

But… I still felt like Vine wasn’t worth it to me because it took me too much time and effort to pare down my message to its very barest essentials.

Twitter has given us some breathing room!

Twitter now allows 30 second videos. And… good news for you, very few people are using them yet. So, your mini-masterpieces will really grab some eyeballs.

If you are a big twitter user – this is big news.

For right now, the twitter video app is available on Android and iPhone. The nice thing about it is that it includes an editor, so you can shoot and then only include the good parts 🙂 You can create videos from your phone, or upload them from your hard drive. So, it is possible to use the same video you use for Twitter, on YouTube, Facebook, etc.

And the best news of all is that Twitter is reporting that the engagement with videos is about 2.5% greater than regular posts.

Here are a few quick ideas from Twitter on how to use Twitter videos in your business.

  1. Use video to help people get to know, like and trust you.
  2. Show how your product or service helps people. For coaches, or people with products that are harder to “show” – include testimonials and referrals.
  3. Create a video that tells a story. Your video should have a beginning, middle and an end rather than being a straight sales pitch.
  4. Make them entertaining. Can you make your audience laugh?
  5. Include higher profile people. Can you include quick interviews at an event? Or even portions of your podcast?

Watch TV commercials to give yourself some ideas. The length is about the same.

Want step by step instructions on how to include videos on your Twitter feed, check out this excellent post on Twitter Video from Buffer.

What Jeff Galloway Taught Me About Business

I ran a marathon once. If you have actually ever met me – this is more surprising than it sounds. As a round, middle aged lady, I don’t exactly fit the “marathon runner” mold.

And, the marathon took me almost 7 hours to complete. So, one might say I didn’t exactly “run” the marathon – I ran and walked and ran and walked… and that is the whole point. But, I took 6 months, I trained and I did it. And, I like the experience so much, I went on to complete a century (100 mile) bike ride and a triathlon. So, if I can do it, ANYONE can 🙂

I owe my first marathon experience to Jeff Galloway.

Jeff Galloway teaches people how to run marathons. His method has even fast runners taking walk breaks every so often. If your body gets breaks, you run faster when you are running. The “real” runners would run 9 minutes and rest 1. Beginners would run a minute then walk a minute. I never got past beginner – but I finished.

The same principle works when you are trying to get things done. When I try to hammer out 15 blog posts all at once, I get tired, I get distracted, the siren of Facebook calls my name.

When I set a timer for 30 minutes, I work much harder knowing my time is limited. My favorite app for managing this is Pomodone – http://pomodoneapp.com/ – it connects to both Asana and ToDoist – so I can pull tasks in, work on them and check them off.

sbh-pomodone

At the end of each of my running breaks, I really looked forward to talking with the other people in my group. I met a lot very interesting people from Coast Guard officers, to nuns to reality stars while training. It was worth running for the 60 second long conversation breaks. When I’m working, I look forward to 5 minutes with Facebook or Google. Or, just having the opportunity to get up, stretch my legs and make myself some hot chocolate. And, I find I get a lot more done.

Do you use a timer when you work? What method works best for you? Reply and let me know.

Microwaving Your Market Research

Microwaving cooks food faster. My mother was actually afraid of microwaves, we didn’t get one until I was in college (which was 10 years after everyone else). Because nobody in my family was good at remembering to defrost food, we ended up eating a lot of meals very late – and subsisting on Swanson’s TV dinners.
Fast forward 25+ years, and I really don’t know how I would feed my family without a microwave. Being able to defrost and cook things quickly is really helpful.

Ever wish you could microwave your business? Do something to start making money faster? Getting your business off the ground can seem as slow as watching a chicken defrost, especially if you are in the beginning of your business.

Microwave Your Market Research

Today’s tip is going to seem a bit counterintuitive to you. That’s because it will take MORE time in the beginning, but it will get you faster results in the end.

Here’s the tip – you can microwave your market research by talking to people one on one (on the phone, in person) rather than relying completely on surveys.

In fact, having 12 ten to fifteen minute conversations can yield you as much data as days spend banging on our keyboard doing research.

3 Ways to To Get Live Market Research Data:

  1. Talk to people about what you do. For those of us who are a bit more on the introvert side of things, this can be hard. But, you CAN elicit very helpful information from people in the course of everyday conversation. So, what is it that you do? XXXXX That’s really cool, what would you say your biggest obstacle is, etc?
  2. Offer free strategy sessions to your list and on Facebook. Go to some groups and post that your coach (that’s me for the moment) challenged you to book XX number of sessions. Talk with the people, learn what their struggles are. If someone is an amazing fit, go ahead and make an offer, but your goal here really is to listen and absorb.
  3. Take Classes/Join Groups. Most classes have Facebook groups that you can join. PM people who seem interesting (or who seem like ideal clients) and just schedule some time to talk with them. You’ll be amazed at what can come out of those conversations.

What are you waiting for? Start scheduling 🙂

Do You Have To Do’s Flying Everywhere?

Are you a member of more than one team? If you are, you probably are getting your to do’s from more than one “collaborative workspace”.  I have tasks in Asana, Basecamp, Trello, and ToDoIst.

With all of those lists, it is really hard to figure out what you actually have to do. And, it is even harder to remember to check the tasks off when you are done.

Making a Taco of Your Tasks

Enter Taco 🙂 Taco is a free app that puts all of your tasks from all of your different to do lists in one place. You can check it out here: https://tacoapp.com/

The thing that I really like about Taco is it has filters so that you can see exactly the tasks that you want to see. Leaving the tasks unfiltered in one giant list can get a bit overwhelming.

Taco also allows you to embed our own links and widgets. I have a widget with my calendar on my taco app page as well as links to pages that I visit often. Taco creates a mini-Kanban for you where you can pull tasks across as you are working on them.

sbh-taco

Watching the Sunrise

sbh-sunrise

If you are less of a list person, and like calendars better – Sunrise – http://sunrise.am will also put in all of your tasks and add them to your calendar (but they need to be due on a specific day to show up).

Sunrise helpfully creates links back to each of the tasks on the calendar so that you can go back to the original task list when when finished and check off the task. And, unlike taco.app, Sunrise is available across platforms. There is a desktop app, and ios app, a Facebook app and of course, it integrates with all things Windows (Sunrise was recently acquired by Microsoft).

Do you work on multiple teams? How do you wrangle your tasks? Leave your answer in the comments section and let us know.

Numbers game

Tweak Early Profit Often

Sales is a numbers game. As a marketer, who failed high school math once, that does NOT make me happy. But it IS true.

Fortunately for me, and all the other college algebra drop outs out there, the math is pretty easy.

The more people you get into your funnel, the more sales you make.

But, it is slightly more complicated than that (but just a little). The more effort put into the front end (traffic, e-mail sign ups), will have a much greater effect on your profit than boosting your conversion rate overall. If you want to see how this all works mathematically check out my blog post

Example A:

450 people visit your teleseminar squeeze page
150 sign up for your teleseminar
30 attend your teleseminar
6 end up purchasing your $100 product ($600 profit)

Example B:

900 people visit your teleseminar squeeze page
300 sign up for your teleseminar
60 attend your teleseminar
12 end up purchasing your $100 product ($1200 profit)

Double the numbers in the beginning, can double your profits. But, it gets even better. The more people you have on your list, the more sales you’ll make every time (if you provide value and keep them opening your e-mails (link to open rate post).

So, time spent getting more traffic and building your list is well worth it.

How to Solo Hack when you become a duo (or more)

Congratulations! You have moved beyond the lone ranger stage and taken a partner into your business. This can be a great move. You’ll now have two people working in the business instead of just one. Having a business partner is a great way to insure the success of your business.

Can you still solo hack your way to success if you are now a duo business. Absolutely.

Here are some ways to make your partnership more successful:

Clear Communication Communication is important when you are a solopreneur. It becomes absolutely critical when you are working with a partner. You need to make sure that you are on the same page as to where the business is going and how it will get there. Schedule check ins often. Make sure both partners are involved in evaluating the results of your solo hacking experiments.

Leveraging Strengths Generally, the best partner is the one that shares your vision, but has different strengths. Create a division of labor that is well communicated and that leverages your individual strengths.

Accountability Accountability is one of the keys to making any business partnership work. Make sure that you each know what your role is in the company and set up regular reporting meeting to make sure that you are both on track with your goals.

Legal Getting the legal part of a partnership correct from the beginning is very important. You want to allocate parts of the company based on each partner’s true contribution. It rarely works out to be 50/50. Take a good hard look at what each person is doing and create something that is fair to both partners. Create a sysetm where you review the partnership on a regular basis as the business changes.

If you keep the lines of communication open, and strive to be fair to both partners, you should be able to grow your business even more quickly because you have the strengths of two people to leverage instead of just one.

operations

5 Basic Areas of Operations in a Solo Business

You are getting ready to become a full fledged solo business hacker. You are ready to create some experiments and try to make your business better, but where should you start? How many experiments should you do at once?

A good guideline is to do one experiment at a time is each of the following five areas of operation:

Mission This is the core area of your business – the thing that people pay you to do. For example, if you are a social media consultant – social media would be your area of expertise. If you are business coach, your area of expertise would be business coaching. This is usually the thing you love to do the most – but can’t find enough time to do because you are doing everything else in your business too. Experiments here are about changing your process to get better results for your clients.

Marketing/Sales This is about getting the word out, conversion and sales. Experiments in this area include adding more content to your blog, posting more or differently to social media, trying a new mix of social media channels. You can get plenty of ideas for marketing hacks by googling growth hacking and using some of those ideas.

Operations This is the nuts and bolts, bread and butter part of your business. This where time spent creating processes goes. It is also about profit, loss, finances, keeping records, etc. Experiments in this area are how to improve your record keeping, how to eliminate costs by doing things more efficiently, etc.

Capabilities This is the training and development part of your business. Experiments here are learning adventures. If you like to learn, this is where you can get ideas for new experiments. You can also expand your capabilities by hiring or trading with other people.

Connections This is one of the most important areas of your business and includes building relationships with clients and prospects – but also finding a way to approach and befriend influencers. Experiments in the connections area might include how the level of thank you gift you send influences renewals and referrals. Or, perhaps you can experiment with new systems of reaching out to potential influencers. Just remember to measure what you are doing.

Remember, you want to limit the number of hacks you are trying at any one time so you don’t get overwhelmed. Do two or three (choose the areas where you need the most help), or do one from each area. Keep tweaking and you’ll be sure to see results.

Biz Hack Manual

Writing Your Solo Biz Hacking “Field Manual”

A question we always ask our guest on the Paycheck to Passion podcast, is “if you were to travel back in time and tell your past self something that would help them, what would it be?” The answer 90% of the time is “chill out – it will all be OK” sometimes it is “don’t wait to get a coach”. My answer is a bit different. I would tell myself to start documenting my systems from day one and create a “field manual” for my business.

What is a field manual?

A field manual is basically an operations manual for your business. It is a document that lays out what you do in your business and how it is done. Theoretically, if something happened to you, they could pick up the manual and run the business. They wouldn’t be tweaking or improving, but they could get the basic day to day work done.

Why do you need a field manual?

The primary reason to create a field manual is to save yourself time. Instead of trying to figure out how to do the same task again and again, you can simply pull out your checklist and get it done. A good field manual will also make it easier for you to delegate since you already have written out the steps that need to be taken. Your training time will be cut in half with a good set of directions. You will get better results because your team won’t have to read your mind. Finally, having your procedures laid out in a checklist gives you something to improve upon. If you do a task a different way each time, there is no way to tweak it to make it work better.

Creating Your Field Manual

A field manual is simply a set of checklists for your business. Here are the steps for easily creating each process document:

  • Record yourself doing the task using a screencasting tool. I like snagit for short screencasts.
  • Watch the video and write down the steps. Pause during important steps and get a screenshot.
  • Give the process to someone else to try using your instructions. This is really important – it helps you discover the steps that are missing.
  • Revise the steps each time you do the task and see improvements or tweaks that can be made.

 

Have your Team Help

If you have a team, they can help you create procedures for your business. The person writing the initial procedure should always be the person who does the task on a regular basis.

  • Have the team member responsible for the task create the checklist.
  • The person doing the checklist should give it to another team member to review.
  • Once the process is documented and checked, have the team members give you a draft to review.

Keeping the procedures fresh

Creating a field manual is not a “one and done” task. For it to be useful, it needs to be updated as you try more experiments and find out what works on your business. Put a date on your calendar to review the procedures quarterly. Also, each team member should be responsible for suggesting improvements to all processes.