Reflecting on May and June 2018

Every week I try to find time to pause and reflect on the happenings of the week – asking myself what I learned, where I can grow, and how I can improve. However, I began to notice that just reflecting on things wasn’t enough for me to make change. So this year I began writing about it. Once a month, I look back at my calendar and the events that took place. I take some notes and then share them here. May and June kind of melted into each other, so I’ve put them together.

Business Development Experiences

ZOHO: Some fun new projects arose in May in June, especially in terms of offering challenges to me. If you’ve read previous posts, then you know that I’m using Zoho for my business operations (CRM, Project Management, Lead Generation, etc). I have been using Zoho CRM for about 9 months and the other modules for 5 months. I have tinkered quite a bit, plus I’ve attended seminars and a conference about it. Armed with this growing knowledge, I started helping clients with their Zoho CRM setup and workflows. Not only have we learned together about what works best, but it’s forced me to think about my own business processes and how to improve them. Throughout the past 2 months, I’ve made a ton of updates to my own Zoho setup and workflows – making me a stronger trainer too.

WEBSITE: The other area of my business that is long overdue for some attention is my main website. I spoke with one of the WordPress developers I respect and like working with about making updates. My first piece of homework was to get the content in a place where I’m happy with it, so that he can focus on design and layout. It is still a work in progress, but with some help things are getting updated. The Kajabi site got some needed design updates, thanks to my kick-awesome hubby’s design efforts. I couldn’t have done it without him.

BRANDING: May was the month when the big Branding workshop happened. Along with 2 collaborators, we hosted a 2-hour workshop about brand language, working with a graphic designer, and protecting your brand with IP laws. There were many hard lessons learned, but I have no regrets. This experience forced me to work on my own branding leading up to the workshop, and following it. It feels like my five year old business is finally developing into something more than a freelance hustle.

Photo from the branding workshop

PEOPLE: One of my main service offerings is the creation of an in-depth marketing strategy for small businesses. It is customized to the business, and it includes a detailed implementation plan (step-by-step instructions). The feedback I’ve received in the past is that getting a clear structure really helps the marketing person or assistant to get things done. In May I finished up a strategy for a local business, and the outcome was that he needed additional support with his CRM. We planned on reconnecting after his vacation to hire someone to implement the work and some CRM tasks. I didn’t want to be pushy, so my follow-up was quite relaxed and somewhat delayed. I thought this would give him the space needed to digest the information and decide how best to move forward. Instead, he disappeared on me – didn’t want to talk about next steps or hiring someone. Now I find myself asking what I could have doen differently to better support him, or was this bound to happen?

The other interesting interaction I had was with a prospect. He found me online through mutual connections, filled out my business assessment, and we had a good call where we discussed his business needs. During the call I could tell that he is a very creative person, but he may not have structure in his marketing approach (the thing I love most). When the call ended, I had the understanding that he would reach out to me once he was ready to talk more. It seems this was a miscommunication because he was expecting a proposal right away. It may be me, may be him, or maybe we are totally miscommunicating with each other. More to come on this later in the summer…

I was finally able to connect with a new friend, Mahani. She’s a super cool storyteller, so we totally clicked. And we decided to team up on something fun. In June, we did our first Facebook Live together, talking about storytelling and local businesses. It was clunky, but we got through it and had fun.

MONEY: I’ve taken on a ton of new expenses in 2018. These are all important investments in the business such as Zoho, Kajabi, Calendly, other software, and hardware too. In May I had to closely evaluate my income and expenses and think about how I can be more efficient. This required more than just looking at places to cut back, but the things where I was essentially paying twice. The outcome is that expenses have gone up, so income needs to as well.

Client Consulting and Training Work

The past two months have been jam packed with consulting work, but there is a slow growing need for personalized trainings. Some of the work I did included quarterly strategy sessions, finishing up a couple of marketing strategies, adding new CRM plans to existing clients, customer journey maps, content marketing structure, and marketing operations plans.

While I love all of the strategies and planning, the most interesting work for me is supporting others by sharing knowledge – then seeing them apply it. I began working with one client’s intern and a part-time employee for another client. Working with Abi, the part-time employee, has presented a somewhat new challenge for me. She is an artist and an entrepreneur with experience in accounting, but not very experienced in marketing or being a virtual assistant. Those are the kinds of people I’ve grown to really enjoy supporting. They enter the conversation with more general marketing background knowledge. Both people have tested my processes and way of thinking. It is exactly the challenge I need.

CELEBRATE: Last year I met the owner of the South Austin Barber Shop. At the time, he was struggling most with keeping the high quality barbers that he had worked so hard to recruit. He filled out my business assessment and we met to discuss what was happening in the business. We decided that he did not need to hire me at the time, but I shared as many useful insights as I could to help him. Well, he has been working hard over the past 8 months. He got most of his barbers back and is doing so well that he is opening a new location, and I get to help him prepare for the grand opening. It’s really exciting!

MISTAKE: There is a double-edged sword to having faith in people. I want to believe everyone is good at the core of their being, but the reality is that some people are just toxic, self-serving, and manipulative. Last month I made the mistake of accepting a meeting with a former client who I know is toxic. Now I need to turn her down or redirect her, because I can’t allow that in my life. It’s hard because she is a nice woman, socially.

Professional Development

Some of the highlights of my professional development experiences from the past couple of months include:

  • Participated in a Mastermind group with the other board members of IAW
  • Connected with an old contact, Myrna, who I haven’t spoken to in about 6 or 7 years. She made an introduction to an interesting video production company that I may get to collaborate with.
  • Hosted a happy hour with one of my strategic partners, Trusty Oak.
  • Attended an Infusionsoft Event where I met a fellow marketer, Christina. I’m excited to have a colleague who could also become a friend and reference.
  • Met up with a technology trainer, John, who I originally met in a meetup group. We planned on talking for 45 minutes that turned into more than an hour. He has so much to share and is totally passionate about training and passing information on to others.
  • Introduced me to a super young entrepreneur who is really talented and living his life to the fullest.
  • Connected with a prospect who I quickly realized is a better fit as a partner than a client. Good timing since I’m working with Randi on refining the partner program.

Personal Care and Development

There were a few interesting personal experiences over the past two months including an accident on highway 183 where another car drove over a piece of plywood that flew across the lane and hit my car. This experience led to me needing to buy new tires – an expensive problem, but important for my safety.

In the past 2 months, I have been learning and practicing a LOT of music for chorus. I finished reading Outwitting the Devil by Napoleon Hill. That book got me thinking about my definiteness of purpose and my connections with others who align with that way of thinking. It always seems that my best relationships start from a place of business and develop into personal connections. Why is that? Perhaps I’m more confident in my business-self than my personal-self. I’m also thinking about how I use my time – every day, not just on weekdays, weekends and holidays. How is my time being spent and does it all support a higher purpose?

 

 

 

Looking Ahead at July

I’ll be reconnecting with the folks at Smart Marketer to take notes for their conference in August, which is always an interesting experience. My goal is to generate lots of small customized trainings this month. I also need to work on my online course about market research in preparation for speaking at Freelance Conference in September. The other big focus I have this month is on growing my official partners and the partner program.

 

Advertisements

April Showers – A Month in Review

Spring Flowers, April in review, month in review, business development, personal development

April Began with a Celebration of Spring

April began with what used to be my favorite holiday, Easter. I’d like to take a moment and share some deep honest thoughts about this holiday. I was born on Maundy Thursday, which recognizes the day of the Last Supper – just 3 days before Easter. Throughout my life, my mother always referred to me as her Easter baby for this reason. Since I’m one to accept love from family and friends, I always saw it as a sweet sentiment. However, we grow up. We learn things that our parents never told us and we find out that some of the things we once considered to be sweet sentiments are just empty sayings.

Rather than get into the details here, I’ll share the conclusion – my husband and I choose to not celebrate Easter. Instead, we like to celebrate the changing of the season into the spring with the “resurrection” of the plants and flowers. It feels a little more genuine to me. My parents, who stopped attending church years before I stopped, not so quietly judged me for making this choice. It could have kicked off my month with annoyance, but I decided to let it go. Now I’m working on embracing our differences. That is the theme of April – accepting the things I cannot change and changing the things that I can.

The Business is Growing and There are Growing Pains

April was the first full month of having my new part-time help working with me. It is such a challenge to find suitable support staff for a small business, so I feel fortunate to have found a smart person with a good work ethic. I chose her from the other top candidates for two main reasons: she requires less training than the youngest candidate and she is different from me while still understanding my perspective and the business purpose. She still has plenty to learn, and there is so much she wants to contribute. If we keep up our groove, then I think it will be easy for the business to make enough money for her to become a full-time employee. That’s one of my big goals for this year.

March brought in a ton of interest for consulting work. Since I knew I had additional support to make things happen, I said yes and yes and yes again. Two new marketing strategy projects ran in April and will be wrapped up in the beginning of May. We also have two more proposals that prospects sat on for a couple of weeks, and they appear to be coming to fruition in these first weeks of May.

The downside of taking on the new consulting work is that it cut into my time working on workshops, training ideas, and online courses. My next “big” event is an online workshop in collaboration with two strategic partners on May 15th. Only a couple of people are signed up and it’s largely because I have put so little effort into promoting the workshop. The upside is that my two awesome strategic partners support me in making this an evergreen online workshop that’s available through my Kajabi site. Their feedback was that it’s all equal because I’m always contributing to them with leads and ideas, so they want to return the favor.

Always Be Learning

Professional and personal development are definitely my M.O. in life. If there’s an opportunity to take in some new information that will make me stronger or better in some way, then I’m ready to take it in. With this in mind, I decided earlier this year to implement the software tools from Zoho in my business to make workflows more fluid in operations and marketing. I’ve slowly become a Zoholic (apparently that’s what fans of the platform are called). It takes time to get everything integrated, but I made a good dent in April with improvements to project management and customizing my CRM software.

history, business, future, evolution

A Few Highlights of My April

In My Business…

1. Powerful meeting with an organizational development expert.
She guided me through defining my life’s passions, big goals and dreams, clarifying my values, and turning that into an updated mission statement for the business. In this process, I faced things about myself that I should accept (both good and bad) because they make me who I am.

2. Attended a friend’s branding discussion.
I met some interesting people who may or may not turn out to be valuable connections. It was also great to reflect on his approach to branding in comparison with my concept of brand language.

3. Ended a toxic business relationship.
A new client who was expected to be an easy 2 hour gig turned into a nightmare because she is disorganized and a poor communicator. Rather than let it continue on, I finished up the first part of the agreement and closed out the project. It was frustrating to think she go through my pre-qualifying filters, but I learned that even those need improvement.

4. Visual Branding Magic.
My kick-awesome husband began supporting me with my visual branding. I shared my insights from the powerful meeting and the vision of the business with him. He was very happy to support me and contribute to the growth of my business by sharing his expertise about visual concepts. Wow! I am so damn lucky.

5. Gave a New Talk.
A professional friend invited me to her group of entrepreneurs to give a talk about marketing strategy. The title of my presentation was 6 Mistakes to Avoid in Your Marketing Plan. Since this is a topic I know so well, it was easy to rearrange my old speech and give it a fresh spin. The group really enjoyed it and gave me great feedback.

6.Completed a long-term client project.
Over the past 4 months I’ve been supervising and training this virtual assistant to know my client’s brand and know how to work best with her. Apparently, I did a good job and now she is flying from the nest. The client told me she was ready to work with just the VA. Since that was my goal, I feel really good about it.

 

In Personal Life…

  • I had a birthday – 35 years completed. Ready to live the next year with love and collaboration.
  • Awkward lunch date with an old networking friend. This was an epiphany lunch where I realized how little we have in common other than the group where we first met. And that is okay. I accept who she is and who I am as different people coexisting.
  • Dealt with my aches and pains by trying out Airrosti. It’s like sports medicine, but you don’t need to be an athlete to go see someone. They do a mixture of therapeutic massage (more like pushing into your soft tissue until the pain goes away) and teaching you exercises / stretches to prevent more pain. It’s expensive, but it is working for me.
  • Visited with my in-laws for the weekend to celebrate some birthdays. I really like my new extended family, but some of my old yucky habits still flare up. It’s rather embarrassing in retrospect. To strangers, it reads like I was raised by egotistical people who are stuck in childish ways. I’ve had to work hard to NOT be like that and learn to communicate like a normal adult. When you have toxic habits from childhood, it can take a long time to break them. Long story short, my extended family loves me anyway but I’m sure that there were moments of “what the heck?” going on in their minds. I accept that this happened and aim to continue improving myself.

 

February & March 2018 in Review

Coming off of the high in January, February was a much more subdued and, at times, stressful month. Every year I better understand the sentiment of how quickly time flies when we’re busy working, living, and experiencing the world.

The theme for February is best summed up as barriers to success. If an issue could come up, it did. I was put into difficult positions and forced to face some tough things head-on and not let anything prevent me from moving forward. There were three areas of growth and challenges: the continued development of my business, my personal / professional development, and other personal stressors.

Business Development Experiences and Barriers

As mentioned in the January 2018 post, I setup a few interviews with candidates for a new position I’m creating in my business. It was a big challenge to get high-quality candidates. One young woman frustrated me when she blatantly admitted that she had no idea what my business does and that she had not even bothered looking at my website before getting on the call with me. Seriously?! That is one of the “young professionals” out there applying for jobs right now. And they wonder why it’s been such a challenge. Despite the minimal number of qualified and serious candidates, I found 4 who are going to meet with me for a second interview. Hopefully, one of them will be joining the team on April 2nd (fingers crossed).

In preparation for hiring a new person and treating my business as a real and separate entity from myself, my operations needed a review. After looking at how I’ve been managing things, I saw that things were working but disjointed. I made the logical step to upgrade my systems to Zoho One, which gives you access to all of their applications at one price and it’s all integrated into each other. Now I can send out a survey and have the answers be mapped to someone’s profile in my CRM or send out an email and have it attached to their profile. And I can generate leads from social media interactions. There’s plenty more for me to tinker with, but I’ve quickly setup several applications and integrated them with each other. This was a Win. 

Course Creation and Client Challenges

  • I began creating Marketing 101, a new online course, from the vast collection of resources that I’ve accumulated over the past 5 years. It’s a lot to digest and organize into something useful for others.
  • There has been a Customer Research Project for one of my favorite clients. I really wanted it to be easy since I’ve done something very similar before, but boy oh boy… gathering, organizing, and analyzing data is a challenging.
  • As I’ve gone through the process of creating Marketing 101, I realized that there is a shorter term very logical workshop that I could pull together – Branding 101.
  • The toughest part of February was having to fire a faulty VA and take work back for a Client. Ugh.

Personal and Professional Development

So many interesting things happened in my personal life…

The Chorus that I joined back in November hosted their annual retreat where we hardcore practice our music for a full day – with some bonding activities squeezed in there. It was an interesting experience to get to know these women better. And I really missed the kind of musical practice that challenges me. It was a perfect kick in the pants.

Other highlights…

  • Finished a Critical Thinking Course. Mixed feelings about the content, but an overall good experience.
  • Last Mastermind meeting was bittersweet. I love those people, but it’s time for me to move on.
  • First IAW Mastermind meeting was so unique and such a different experience. Looking forward to the next one.
  • Attended a Kundalini Yoga Class. I have so much gratitude for my yoga and meditation practice.
  • Went hiking the Hill of Life with my buddy Steve. Always an adventure in conversation there.
  • Looking at houses (moving in March) was very stressful at times. Plus, we squeezed in a trip to Florida to visit my family, which always comes with drama.

March Highlights

1. We Found a House! After seeing a range of great to awful places, we signed the lease, moved in, and are now unpacked. We bought a bed, which makes sleeping way better.e Plus, we bought a washer and dryer – a bit of an ordeal but we made in through.

2. Practiced, practiced, and practiced more for the big chorus competition in Houston. We did well, but not amazing and that’s okay with me. It was all worth it for the journey.

3. I got 6 work inquiries and sent out 5 project proposals in March. One of them close and began in March, but I’m already regretting in. Two of them are definitely starting work in April and the other two will probably close in April.

4. I finally hired some help! Randi joined me at the end of the month, after several rounds of interviews and some awesome candidates came through (some not so awesome too). We are jumping right in with projects.

5. Feeling so blessed to have built strong relationships over the years. I am confirmed to get support from my strategic partners on rebranding my own business in April. Woohoo! It’s finally my turn. Plus, two partners are jumping in to be speakers on my brand webinar in May.

6. Downer at the dentist was that I had a cavity – first one in a long time and it is damn expensive.

Alright April, I’m ready for you.

January 2018 in Review

This year I am starting a new practice of reflecting back on important things that happened each month. I tried to look back at what happened in 2017 and it was a blur of events, work, and conversations. I decided that it would be wise to look back at the end of each month when the information is still fresh in my mind.  So here we go…

The Theme for January was Future

The overarching theme of the month seemed to be thinking about and planning for the future – both my business and personal life. My energy was not spent on making up goals that are pie in the sky or ridiculously easy. Instead, I took several moments throughout the month to look at my thoughts, my wants, and my needs.

A big question showed up: Does your business feed your life plan? Or does it just keep you busy and prevent you from truly achieving what you ultimately want out of life?

Thinking About the Future of My Business

It became very clear to me that dipping my toe into the training and online course world was not going to work. I need to be all in or move on. So I began taking action. First I wrote down what consulting services I offered in the past, I considered which ones I enjoyed doing verses the work I disliked and wanted to remove from my work. Then I updated the list of my consulting service offerings. This quickly flipped into what I can train others in – the content I already have experience with that I can easily share.

A simple list of what I want to offer quickly turned into thoughts about how I will achieve all of it. My business needs to be able to run without me in the long-term, so documenting all of the work I do and have virtual assistants do for me became the next priority. I wrote up process documents for the virtual assistants who support my clients. It was pain staking work that I’ve been putting off for a while, but now it’s nearly finished. Though I’m sure I’ll stumble across more and more processes as I go along.

When I returned to my list of course ideas and training workshops I realized that I’m not completely tuned in to the corporate training world. I don’t fully know what people are looking for training in, what is most valuable to individuals or companies. This meant switching into research mode. Over this past month I’ve done a ton of reading and research about the corporate training industry – looking closely at the skills gap and the impact it is making on the millennial generation.

Taking Action

All of the planning, researching, and thinking is very important, but I know that it takes strategic actions to make things happen. On my list of priorities were 3 specific things: Review my existing course, Host a training, and Identify future affiliate partners.

While it is not 100% complete, I have thoroughly reviewed my existing online course on market research and identifying your ideal customers. I’ve made some improvements and identified a few more I’d like to add – including videos and imagery that is missing.

Back in November I decided that I need to dip my toe in the training workshop waters, so I came up with the idea that had been brought to my attention multiple times. Earlier this month, I hosted my first public workshop in 3 separate sessions to a total of 15 people. Considering how low-budget and the insignificant amount of marketing I did for it, I thought it was a pretty good turn out. Feedback has been very good so far, and I learned many lessons along the way.

At the beginning of the month, I wrote an email to my most active strategic partners to tell them about the new direction I’m heading in with my business. The reactions have been excellent. This new development lead me to reconnect with these strategic partners and discuss the future of my business, the future of their businesses, and how we can continue to work together. Out of these conversations, I got some great ideas as well as introductions to new strategic partners.

One additional important action began to roll out – my new approach to consulting. It is still very slow moving and progressing, but I took action on it in January. In December, I began scheduling quarterly planning meetings with my current clients. The goal of these meetings is to discuss the future of their business as well as our working relationship, because I want to make it clear that I will not be as actively consulting as they may have previously been used to. It will take me at least 6 months to a year before my current clients are leaning on their virtual assistants more and me a little less, but these meetings were an important first step.

Unexpected Actions and Outcomes

While thinking about the future of my business, another big epiphany occurred. It is so simple and logical, so I don’t know why I’ve put it off for so long. I cannot build this business alone. I need support. Instead of leaning on my husband alone, I wrote a job description by imagining my ideal first person.  The position was posted online and so far I’ve had a little less than 50 people apply. It further supported my earlier research about the skills gap when about 85% of all candidates failed to apply according to the requirements I put into the posting. None the less, a few people rose to the top, and I have setup  interviews with 4 individuals for February. I’m curious to see how those will go.

The creation of the job post and getting applications led me to another big task that I had not yet thought about – a centralized system for on-boarding new team members. If I’m serious about growing the business and hiring people, then it is not something I can ignore. I began defining some new processes in my business such as how we communicate internally, how we discuss what we do, and what each role will be accountable for doing. This has now been drafted into an internal website for the company. I’d like to get a little more of it completed before the interviews with candidates.

In a completely separate arena, I received an email at the beginning of the month from the folks who invited me to take notes for them at a marketing conference last year. It was a random gig and I assumed that I would never hear from them again. None the less, I kept them in my CRM strategy and send a holiday card. I like letting clients (current and past) know that I appreciate them. This card led them to quickly email me and ask me to be their note-taker once again. Though I could not physically attend the conference this time, I still managed to accomplish the task virtually with audio recordings and PowerPoints. All of it happened because I showed a little gratitude and thoughtfulness.

 

Personal Things Happening

Midway through the month I decided that I needed a new personal challenge – something to get me thinking about stuff other than work. So I began a new online course on the topic of critical thinking in the information age. It’s a mixture of statistics class, the scientific method, psychology, and philosophy. It’s pretty interesting so far.

I celebrated my sweetheart’s 29th birthday with him. He doesn’t enjoy all of the attention during his birthday, so I tried to keep in low key. His parents came to town to celebrate by taking us all out to dinner (and lunch and breakfast the next day). It makes him feel overwhelmed with all of the attention and expectations put on him, but I’m not yet sure how to adjust this experience for him in the future – maybe we just need to make plans ourselves.

Singing is back in my life and I’m still adjusting to being back on the risers and syncing my brain to harmonies. I’ve sang in the chorus every Monday, even when I wasn’t feeling well. It took some courage, but I accepted my imperfections and the space I have to improve when I sent in the recording of me singing to my section leader. She gave me, what I hope is, honest feedback. It feels like I’ve forgotten the 10 years of training and practicing music, so my learning curve is rough because my ego keeps trying to convince me that I’m so great while reality tells me that I’ve got some work to do.

In February, much more is to come…

We’re going to Florida for a few days to see my parents and celebrate my mom’s birthday. As always, family time will be an adventure. I’m never quite sure what to expect other than a percentage of arguments and annoyance. However, I plan to go into it with an open heart and willingness to accept my parents for who they are.

Interviews with the first round of candidates begin in February, so I’m looking forward to those conversations. I’ll need to be very well prepared for these interviews. There’s a lot of thinking and planning I must do before they begin.

In the efforts to continue my education, I’m signed up for several webinars to expand my understanding of the corporate training world. There is a good amount of information that I’ve already gained by reading, but I am sure there is plenty more for me to absorb.

My last mastermind meeting is in February, so this will be a change to the flow of my months. I’d like to find something similar to what this group provided me over the past year, but I’m not sure what it is just yet.

More adventures to come…

 

 

Reflections on the Week

As I begin to transition my business from a consultancy focused on one-to-one delivery of services to a larger more scalable concept so many feelings and thoughts are coming up. These need to be addressed.

  • What if I fail? Naturally, this is the first question and fear that arises. I could put all of this effort into creating this business and then fail. More importantly, I could lose a lot of money and have a difficult time recovering from it. Sustaining my family is a high priority, so I need to feel 100% confident about this idea.

 

  • Excitement! I’ve told 2 of my strategic partners about my plans to shift the business towards training and professional development, and their reactions were so positive. They were both excited for me and ready to support me.

 

  • Distractions are abundant. It has been difficult for me to schedule time for working on the new courses and the overall business idea because I’m still running my consulting business. I have to continue running it because the work I do for my existing clients is what allows me to pay the bills. Every day there is an opportunity for distraction from a client. My organization is good, but it needs to be awesome. How do I get better at this? Make myself more efficient and use my time wisely?

 

  • Balancing is difficult. While I’m trying to balance my current business with developing this new business, I’m also trying to become more deeply rooted in myself. It seems that I’ve been disconnected from my true self and almost putting on a show to cover up for my lack of self knowledge. And I don’t want to be that way anymore. My husband is supportive, but his approach can sometimes read as condescending. I know that he means well and is genuinely trying to contribute to me. Finding the balance between deep self reflection and thinking into the future about my business is tough.

 

  • Having fun learning. In the pockets of time that I have created for myself, I’ve looked at what other similar businesses are doing in corporate training. There are some interesting things going on in this world, and there is so much room for improvement. It’s fun to absorb all of this information because it feeds my ideation around what I can deliver and build for others.

 

  • Learning about myself. As I go through the process of reflection each day, I’m recognizing and admitting some of my patterns that are not serving me. These are negative habits that I was trained in from childhood and up. There are stories I’ve made up that are total BS. When I really look at them I can see there is no truth, only emotions and lies. Breaking these patterns / habits is a challenge, but recognizing them has been big for me.

Building Trust in a Risk-Adverse World

I was worried about the person putting together my LLC paperwork

Every time we exchange money for a product or service, we are putting our trust in a total stranger. So how do you build trust?

  • Word of mouth and direct connections. This is how most of us get started with our first clients. we share some information, get some referrals, and the ball is rolling. The trust is based upon mutual connections.
  • Doing great work. Once you have a client, it’s all about producing a beautiful product or service. Now the trust has been extended based upon a respect for quality in what you deliver.

It’s the growth stage – the time between brand new and rolling along – that is the most difficult for so many small business owners. How do you get the new customers? Why should they trust you? Without a mutual friend or having already experienced a quality deliverable, they have no idea if you’re trustworthy to work with.

Build trust in other ways

This means showing the world that you are a trustworthy brand. Anything from testimonials to certifications and licenses will help. Or good ole’ fashion face time in the community. Knowing the person behind a company or brand is what helps to make him or her trustworthy.

I don’t trust a product or service, but I may trust the person who made that product or delivered that service. It is a risky decision each time, but we all make decisions every day. Choosing to eat at P Terry’s over Whataburger – why? Do you know for a fact that one is healthier or better than the other? Where did you get that information? Is it a trustworthy source? Most likely, you heard people talk… about food quality or ingredients or great service, or maybe all three. You put your trust in another person.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers. We’re the ones who have to build that trust with strangers. So how are you building trust with the strangers around you?

 

Making a Website

I’ve been so lucky to get so many professional referrals for so long that I have put off a lot of the basic “I’m running a business” tasks. An important, but annoying, task I finally tackled was building a website.

It’s not so much that it’s difficult to make a simple website, but it’s the creative planning and thoughtfulness that it requires. So I dedicated a weekend to putting together the bare minimum for what I need.

  1. Shopping around WordPress Themes. This bit of research included looking at features, design, and basic functionality. I ended up with a free theme that suited my needs.
  2. Connecting my domain name (BeckmannCollaborative.com) from GoDaddy to WordPress.
  3. Customizing my WordPress Theme – site name, layout options, etc.
  4. CONTENT. This is the animal I didn’t want to tackle, but decided was absolutely necessary. My final decision was to keep the content very simple – home page with intro information, an about page, blogs, contact, and partners/collaborators.

It took me about 10 hours total over 2 days, and now I have my framework for a functioning website.

Other factors to consider:

  • Contact Form. I recommend using a plugin to a email platform. Almost anything is better than the free contact forms that come with WordPress. This is important for your lead generation plans as well as developing drip content (if you so choose).
  • Blog Plan. To have a blog or not? I just about always choose to have one because I love great content and sharing stories. If you hate writing and know that you will not keep up with a blog, then don’t bother setting one up. An empty blog looks like you don’t care enough to try.
  • Images and Brand. Something I have yet to address for my own business is branding. While I have a ton of ideas about what I think it should look like, few decisions have been made. At minimum, I knew the ascetic that I wanted for my website and the kinds of images I prefer to get my point across.