Thursday, October 29, 2009

7 Crucial Steps to Creating a Prosperous Business

1. Hire experts to do what you are not good at! If you are an expert in your field and really good at what you do – why waste your time trying to figure out how to do things you

a. Don’t know... b. Are not good at... c. Don’t have time for...

For example, I love designing websites and marketing materials, as an artist, I just love it. I happened to be born with an artistic gene, I am an expert at designing and developing websites that are marketing machines. I have been in this industry for over a decade. I have experience so I am a great consultant. I can draw up marketing plans like nobodies business, but…

Programming is not my talent and it is not my niche…

I tried when I first started as a web developer and found I just am not the programming type – it took me days to accomplish what it takes a programmer an hour to do. Being in this business so long I have some very good connections. When I have to have some heavy programming done I don't do it myself I hire the best… Saves me time, stress and ultimately saves me money.

2. Prepare – have a plan.

I have seen so many people just decide one day to have an online business and they don’t do the preparation needed to really have a solid foundation. You need to write out your goals and then put it into a business plan. Write out what your goals are and a detailed map of how you are going to get to your goal.

When you get to the point you need a website – what type do you need?

a. Do you want to use you website to market your business?... b. Do you have a product or services you want to sell?... c. Do you want to put up a portfolio?... d. Would a blog be what you need or do you need both?...

You get my point.

3. Have the right image!

If you truly want to develop a successful business, a solid foundation is one of the most important things you can do. It will be the springboard where all your success will come from.

What do I mean by “The Right Image”?

Well that will depend a bit on what it is you are doing. First your business does need a website – I may sound like a broken record but – it is true!

People use the internet as a research tool to learn about businesses in their area – or to see who to go to for products and services – so you need to look professional. Secondly the website, your business cards and all marketing materials must be branded and attract your target market.

If you are in a business that deals with children and parents it will look quite a bit different than a business that is for the Adult – Professional world.

Branding means to have all marketing materials, website, ads etc have the same images, colors, flavor, and feeling that you want to portray to your customers/clients.

Last but certainly not least – when meeting people in person make sure you make a good impression – dress so you look like a successful business owner – be polite and always remember you never know who it is you are talking to – it may be the person that will open the door to a flood of clients.

4. Be prepared to work.

Business is hard work – it is fun and challenging as well - but it is not going to be a piece of cake. Be prepared to put the time in especially in the beginning when you are trying to get established. Realize that when you own your own business you and you alone will be responsible for the success or failure of your business.

Failure comes when someone is not ready to put in the work, or does not do their due diligence. Failure comes in when you give up - because things are not going as you thought they would. Failure comes when things are not working, but you still keep doing what you are doing.

Remember – you may need to change course from time to time that is just the way businesses grow. The difference between success and failure is that the successful person, will stumble and fall at times but they get up dust off the disappointment and figures out a way to solve the problem.

The unsuccessful person stumbles or falls and doesn't get up - decides life is against them "so why try?". I don’t care what you have heard – if you think you will be making big bucks with very little time invested think again.

5. Networking the back bone of any business – network!

I am sure you have heard the saying “it isn’t what you know but who you know” – I believe that is only half true – it is “what you know and who you know”. That is the beauty of going to networking events or accessing web 2.0 sites and getting to know people on-line. It really is amazing what you can accomplish when you are networking with the right people.

6. Money is made and lost through relationships…

If you only have your eyes on you and what others can do for you, than you my friend will find that you will be on the losing end of #5

7. Sell – Sell – Sell

A lot of people really have a negative image of a sales person – it congers up someone that is insincere at best and a crook at worst.

Nothing can be farther from the truth.

A good sales person believes in what she/he has to sell and considers it something that will make that persons life a little better. When you are authentic – then you believe in your product and service. When you believe in what you are doing than it is just natural that you will be excited and enthusiastic about getting the word out to every one that can benefit.

Have you ever heard “Your mouth is your business it should always be opened”? Funny saying but it is really true – please don’t go overboard and bore people to tears by just talking about you and you business – but where appropriate talk!

Find solutions for people that need your expertise. It’s all about balance – and (where appropriate) don’t forget to ask for the sell.

Now get out there and show what you are made of…

To Exciting Opportunities – and Endless Possibilities

Pamela Jacob – Artista Design

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

We Alone Hold the Key…

Every now and then, I come across a post that is not necessarily about the mechanics of how to grow your business but is the essence of success in all areas of one's life.

This morning I did just that it is an article titled “Finding Hope – and Keeping it!”.

The author is the son of Zig Ziglar –

I don’t know how many of you have listened to this man (Zig Ziglar) or really know who he is, but I suspect most of you have heard of him.

Zig Ziglar - his life story is one of the most amazing success stories ever - a door to door sales man that transitioned into one of the greatest motivational speakers of all times.

But his is a story of much more than that – because he lived by principles that would work for anyone who took note of them.

As a young entrepreneur, just starting out I had the growing pains of any new business and the discouragements as well. He kept me going and really gave me the tools to keep my head up and shoulder to the wheel.

The article is a short one, but one I want you all to read – because in this day and age of uncertainty – when the news we hear isn’t always so great – we need to realize that we, ourselves hold the secret to our success.

“Hope is born when you realize you have the power to make your life better, and the choice is yours.”

That excerpt above is from the article.

I hope you will read it, and that you will take away the essence of this great man – perhaps it will give you that added jolt to make this day your best one yet!!

To Exciting Opportunities – and Endless Possibilities

Pamela Jacob - Artist Design

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Are parasites sucking the blood out of your business??

I recently read an article on small businesses and what stops them from being successful – half way through it hit me…

These problems could be described as parasites – things you don’t even realize are killing your business. Little by little they waste your time and keep you from doing the things that actually make you the success you deserve to be.


Parasite # 1- Demanding Client(s)…

If you are a business that values your customer – you give great customer service – you bend over backwards to do everything possible to make them happy and give them an experience that will bring them back for more.

In fact 99% of my business, in the past 5 years, have been repeat customers and referrals.

I am proud of that.

Even so, that doesn’t mean along the way I have not run into what I call the demanding client.

When I was a young company, I was just happy to have anyone that needed my services. I didn’t care how difficult or time consuming they were. I would do the design project as we had discussed, but then suddenly, they were not happy with something we had been developing for weeks – thing that were great last week needed to be changed.

Now you may be thinking that is great – more hours more money - NOT!

I work on a per project basis, my clients are mainly small businesses or start up companies that could not afford me if I were to charge per hours, so we have an agreed upon project price.

Looking at this scenario you can see that I was working for less than minimum wage – the more time I would give the more they would demand.

I realized after having a few of these types of clients I had not communicated with them effectively. I didn’t have a written – contract that explained in detail what I would do for a given amount.

Lesson learned I started to set boundaries and write contracts that were much more detailed.

The communication got better and the clients knew what to expect and things ran along much smoother. Happy customers – even happier business owner

Parasite # 2 – Unreasonable Client(s)…

My motto,

Under promise – Over Deliver

How many of us have seen or heard the ads – make 20 billion dollars in 3 hours – solve all your problems in life with just 3 easy steps….

You get my point, if it sounds too good to be true – it is.

I always try and give my clients 110% - I will not nickel and dime them to death. I will help them with marketing advice if they need it etc.

However, ever once in a while I have a client that will not adhere to our contract.

They are just plain difficult – expect the impossible, and I found myself in the difficult position of having to say things like – we didn’t agree on that, or look at the proposal we outlined, or (fill in the blanks)…

What do you do when this happens to you?

Be up front, if you feel it is not worth your time – refund the money and move on – or refund a portion of their money (if it is for a service rendered) and quit doing business with them.

It is not worth the time when you have someone who does not respect you or your business – and if you cannot find a solution cut your losses. Do not continue to hit your head against the wall – you are losing business with people who want what you have to offer because you are trying to do the impossible.

Important point: First of all, I hope you have structured your business so you take a deposit for services rendered. I personally have my client's pay 50% up front and 50% upon completion.

If it is a huge project, I will take 50% up front, 25% once we have an agreed upon design – and 25% upon completion.

This protects my clients from worry because they know if I don’t live up to my promises, I will not get a full payment – it protects me because I know they are serious and have paid me a portion of the agreed upon fee.

Luckily, I don’t have clients like this anymore. I can tell by the initial consultation if it is a client I want to work with.

Don’t be afraid to turn down a client if you find they are not a fit – you will benefit in the long run and so will they.

Parasite #3 – Time Wasters…

You’re a business owner that is trying to be frugal. Times are a bit tight so you think you need to do everything yourself.

Even when you don’t have the slightest idea how to do it…

After all you are smart – why not learn how to do a website – design your own marketing material – and keep the books?


Seriously, stick to what you do well – don’t waste your time trying to learn things that should be done by someone who knows how to do it right and in a fraction of the time. You don’t need to hire the most expensive person, just a professional who knows how.

The time it takes you to learn how to do these things – could be time you are spending finding clients, marketing, networking doing what you do well.

The old adage is true, time is money. So don’t waste your time learning to do something that should be left to professionals.

In fact you may even do more harm than good to your business. An example may be something like putting up a website that is less then professional and portraying a poor image.

Or not hiring a CPA to do your taxes when you know nothing about what exemptions you can take for a business – so you end up actually losing out on tax exemptions simply because you have no clue about financial matters.

In my case I am not a programmer – I can do some minor programming – and I know where to get java scripts I can use etc. But I hate the heavy duty stuff – and it would take me forever to learn something I am not talented at and I do not like.

If I have a client that needs something I cannot do I hire it done by a professional – and I outsource it.

I know it will cost me a lot less to have it done by a programmer because it will take them a fraction of the time – and they know more than I will ever care to know. On top of that, it will cost my client a lot less because I will not spend hours trying to figure it out.


The bottom line is – it is important to recognize time wasters when you run your own business.

A lot of things (you may not even realize) can waste your time and pull you under making your business less than successful – and in time drain you of the enthusiasm and excitement you had when you first started the dream of developing your own financial security.

The thrill of developing a business from scratch and seeing it come to fruition is amazingly satisfying and to be able to learn from others will put you on the fast track to success…

Just remember that nothing good comes easy – but everything good will come when enjoying the fruits of your labor!