Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Handling Time Constraints

It seems that every small business owner I talk to faces the feeling of not enough hours in the day compounded by the sense that s/he must do everything themselves, thereby sacrificing valuable personal time and their freedom. If you’re a home-based business, no doubt, your pressures are multiplied as you attempt to pull yourself away from the computer each night. This is why 2008 should be the year you commit to a “process audit,” whereby systems and procedures can be mapped out and prioritized. Armed with this information, you’ll be able to clearly see what can be delegated, automated, outsourced, postponed, skipped, or even forgotten—freeing up your time to do what only you can and making each day more productive. With an eye for economy, a penchant for problem-solving, and experience implementing efficient processes (including proposal management and development, partnership applications, and vendor evaluation), I'm ready to conduct your process audit. When you're ready to get serious about managing your time, drop me a line.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

300 Women, 9 Hours, 1 Event: Women Entrepreneurs' Small Business Boot Camp

On Saturday, I attended the Women Entrepreneurs' Small Business Boot Camp. What a day! The morning began with Pamela Jett aka my latest heroine. Pamela's talk, Success is an Attitude, struck familiar chords but assembled them in new ways. That is, although perhaps the messages were ones I had heard before about the relationship between what we think and how it gets played out, her delivery allowed me to absorb it more readily. Her practical advice was also a welcome change: When you catch yourself thinking a negative thought--esp. about yourself!--use a word such as delete, erase, or cancel to counteract it. What a simple solution! Along with Pamela Jett's stellar presentation, Stephanie Frank (the afternoon keynote) was also awe-inspiring! Stephanie's messages seemed deceivingly simple as well but her advice for implementing time-management strategies was one of the most practical applications I have heard, without being dry and stuffy. Her advice is to cut through the CRAP (Confusion, Resistence, Apathy, and Procrastination). One stat that Stephanie Frank cited was a study by the National Women's Business Council about the top reasons for failed businesses: (1) lack of entreprenuerial skills and (2) lack of peer support. Very interesting! (Pictured: me (L), Mary (center), Wendy (R) during the Small Business Power Hour Session. More pictures by prophoto.)

Monday, January 7, 2008

Focus on . . . Advertising

To follow is an excerpt from my Quarterly Newsletter. To request the full text, send me an email. You can also sign up for future editions on my home page.

I've seen some confusion lately among small business owners and micro-business owners about the relationship between marketing and advertising as well as how to effectively produce ads. If we're looking at a textbook model, Marketing is responsible for Promotions, and so I consider advertising an important part of the plan to promote your product or service. Developing an effective "ad campaign" is a good first step towards establishing your new brand and/or generating awareness in the market about your current brand. To help you achieve this, whether you do it yourself or engage my services, here are the keys to planning your successful ad:

1. Position. Determine your position by knowing your target market and your competition. If you haven't done at least a basic market study, or have scattered information that needs to be compiled, doing so will be a major success factor in your strategic marketing efforts overall, as well as any advertising effort. Armed with industry research and target market needs, you'll be able to create an effective message.

A Primo Position: Diet Coke has two innovative, eye-catching yet simple ads. One ad shows a condensation-covered can with a cardboard insulating sleeve typically used for coffee around it and the headline "Good Morning." Another ad shows 3 images of the same sleeve-clad can with the headline "Three-hour meeting." This is a brilliant campaign strategy to carve out a potential new market--folks who prefer a cold, easily accessible, cheaper "coffee" as they head to (or cope with!) work. If you've read my previous newsletter about Coke BlaK, you'll see that the advertising track is a much better competitive strategy than costly new product development.