Recent Blog Posts

Just say no!

Posted By on December 20, 2010

As an entrepreneur, I have to “kill what I eat”—and if I don’t kill anything, I’m stuck eating Top Ramen. That fact can sometimes transform into approaching work with an “anything is good enough” attitude, but that’s not always what’s best for you, your business, or your clients.

Recently, I have found myself saying “no” to people more and more often. A lot of it has to do with the money being offered, but there are many times when I give away services or my time for free. Really, the truth of the matter is that I turn away work when it doesn’t resonate with the mission, or purpose, of my business.

Do you have a mission for your business? Mine is “To engage business leaders in the marketing-communications process, creating results through relationship development and consistent messaging.” Obviously, nowhere in there does it say I turn away opportunities, but if they don’t fit with what I’m doing and where I’m going, they aren’t good for me. Let me share with you some examples.

A while back, a client came to me through referral who needed some long-copy work for her website and email communications to support a teleseminar she was conducting. I don’t write long copy; I am a marketing writer and focus on short, concise, and direct messaging. I also didn’t like her product and felt that her approach was lacking integrity. At the time, I really needed the $1,000+ I knew this project would add to my wallet—but I turned it away. I chose to refer the project to a long-copy colleague who provided excellent service and made the client very happy.

Recently, a colleague came to me and asked me to do some writing for her clients as a vendor and wanted me to offer my services at a discount. Previously (when I was more desperate than I am now), I buckled and gave her a large discount off my listed prices. I subcontract often, and no one else ever gets a discount, so when she approached me this time, I was hesitant. First, my client base has improved since our first interaction. Also, she was slow to pay and to follow up with me, so I didn’t much like her business ethics. I thought about it and chose to offer her less of a discount this time around. When she came back to me about it, I was honest. I also suggested she might want to work with another writer.

In both of these cases, taking on that work wouldn’t have made me happy. I work for myself, so being happy in my job is pretty important! Happiness aside, however, taking on projects that I don’t like or that don’t resonate with my mission means that I will provide below-par quality, which will sully my reputation as a writer and business professional.

I encourage you to take some time to reevaluate your mission (whether it’s for your business or your personal mission as an employee) and be sure that the projects you accept fit with the direction in which you’re headed. If you follow that guiding light, you will find that you’ll attract better work that makes you happy and provides your clients with a reason to smile.

What You Don’t Know May Hurt You

Posted By on December 6, 2010

I live in Phoenix, Arizona, the fifth-largest city in the US and arguably the small-business capital of the country. As a business owner, I do a lot of networking, averaging about three events per week (which is down from how many I used to do). Still, I have been amazed at the number of people who have no idea about things I take for granted to help grow my business or assist my clients.

I have been talking to a lot of people about networking—and the first thing I mention is NetworkingPhoenix.com, a monthly calendar of most everything that’s happening in the Valley of the Sun. The site has been in existence for three years or so, yet there are still a surprising number of people who don’t know about it. Whether you’re a business owner, business professional, or job seeker, you need to know about this site if you live in the Phoenix area.

What about in your area? Do you have a regional calendar of events you should know about for yourself or to share with your clients?

Another area where I’ve seen colleagues sorely lacking knowledge is in social media, which is no longer an option for savvy entrepreneurs and job seekers. I recently mentioned using WordPress to build a blog, and the person to whom I was speaking just looked at me with a blank stare. I’ve gotten the same response when I’ve mentioned HootSuite or TweetDeck, some applications to better harness the power of Twitter.

As a marketing communications strategist, I feel it is my job to know the latest and greatest in the industry. I attend free trainings and read about what’s coming down the pipeline so I know, but it sometimes feels as if I’m the only one. How can so many people be so ignorant of tools that can really help them, especially in this crazy economy? I find all too often that both job seekers and business professionals are going out into the world ill prepared to be successful. If you don’t know where to go or what to say, you’re just setting yourself up for failure. (If you aren’t sure how to network—another struggling point of many—this might be a worthwhile read: http://www.grammardocs.com/2010/07/maximize-your-networking/.)

No matter what you do for a living or whether you work for yourself or someone else, make a concerted effort to educate yourself moving into 2011. It can benefit you in so many ways, from increasing potential opportunities to improving your bottom line. And, hey, from where I’m standing, I think we could all use a little more on that line.