Business Savvy, growing your business, Marketing

TOP 10 Benefits in Joining Your Chamber of Commerce

As a business owner, there are many benefits to joining your local Chamber of Commerce. The purpose of a Chamber is to provide educational and networking opportunities and to help businesses participate in community events which will help expand the local business economy.

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But here is a warning. You can’t just simply join the chamber and expect magical things to happen overnight. You will only get out of your membership what you actually put into it. Which means as a member you need to participate. Your participation in your chamber actually impacts the overall success of the chamber as an organization but also that of your community.

TOP 10 Benefits in Joining Your Chamber

  1. Discounts – You can receive discounts on everything from ski passes, office supply purchases, travel, shipping services, gym memberships, prescriptions, health and wellness, media advertising, and more.
  2. Services – Generally include access to business publications, roundtable discussions, industry briefings, magazines, programs,  leadership opportunities, business resources and more.
  3. Partnerships – Provide you with an opportunity to partner with other members, businesses, groups, and organizations to successfully grow and network your company and it’s offerings.
  4. Marketing and Advertising – Many times you’ll be offered discounted or free advertising once you become a member along with opportunities to have a link on the chamber website. Chambers offer a tremendous amount of advertising and marketing for businesses.
  5. Advocacy – Your chamber and the leaders within your community work together to advocate on behalf of the business community helping to protect your business and provide additional growth opportunities and incentives.
  6. Education and Training – Seminars, business workshops, webinars, small business resource events and more. You can find training on topics like a business startup, financing, human relations, insurance, payroll, QuickBooks, leadership, marketing, social media, taxes, employee engagement, and more.
  7. Economic Development – Your chamber is highly involved in growing your local community and therefore generally works with other organizations to increase the local economy and bring additional businesses into your community.
  8. Database and Leads – Chambers usually provide a membership list to members, which can be used to help market your business and services to other members. Larger chambers generally offer a leads group to help businesses find and gather solid quality leads.
  9. Events – Annual events like a chili cook-off, fall festival, BBQ, Rodeo, gala, awards ceremony, business after hours, open houses, concerts, and more. These are all terrific places to meet and great, rub elbows with fellow business professionals, and spread the word about your business. These are great marketing events too.
  10. Networking – I saved the best for last. This is the core component of any chamber and truthfully any business. The saying goes, “it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you”. Take advantage of as many events and opportunities as you can through your local chamber. The chamber is for your benefit and sometimes you have to stop working in your business, and actually make time to work ON your business.

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So get out there, get those business cards and flyers ready, test the 30-second elevator speech and most importantly make time and INVEST in your business. Your chamber membership is generally a tax write off and it’s a wise investment to help grow your business.

 

 

Tina Holtz is a serial entrepeneur who owns and operates a boutique virtual assisting and business advisory firm, Executive Business Services, LLC. She has more than 20 years experience in business development, business management, operations, sales, marketing, and procurement. Tina values building relationships and is passionate about helping business owners reach new heights. She provides a vast array of support services to business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and executives.

 970-989-8047 or email at tina@execbusinessservices.com

www.execbusinessservices.com

Uncategorized

16 tips to market like a pro, sort of…

marketing-board-strategyLet’s face it, if you’re like most business owners, you simply either don’t have time to market or you just plain hate marketing. Some people just don’t get it period and it’s a constantly ever-changing industry. It seems that new platforms are introduced daily and it’s hard to keep up with what works and what doesn’t. It’s important to always be marketing – no matter what.

Here are a few things we recommend to most businesses along with some tips to help you market your business effectively. This is not an exhaustive list by any means, but what I feel are things that work well.

  1. Find out where your target market hangs out. Facebook, Twitter, the local coffee shop, a mechanics bay, the ice cream parlor, you get the picture.
  2. Determine where your money is best spent. Digital marketing works best because you can effectively target your specific market and measure ROI and analytics. You can’t do that with yellow pages, newspaper, or print advertising.pexels-photo-266176
  3. Join trade associations and use all of their networking opportunities.
  4. Write a column or articles for local newspapers, trade publications, etc.
  5. Host educational seminars, webinars and then video them and post on YouTube.
  6. Hold an annual Open House Event. Spring Fling, Harvest Days, Fiesta, Oktoberfest, etc.
  7. Have product or service giveaways monthly, people love swag, give away a free t-shirt, or coffee mug, or movie ticket, etc.
  8. Develop Press Releases for every NEW product or service you launch, when you hire new employees or key staff members when you have upcoming events, fundraisers, etc.
  9. Build an email list, get subscribers on your website, and produce a monthly newsletter loaded with helpful tips, suggestions, info, resources, and more. No sales techniques here! Just good ol’ awesome content.
  10. Have a booth at trade shows and events that your target market attends. Be sure it’s a nice professional booth. Convey your professionalism.
  11. Donate your products or services to local charity events and silent auctions.
  12. Create a loyalty program for your brand ambassadors and kick ass customers. People love being recognized for their dedication.
  13. Participate in local events in your community like parades, farmer’s markets, fundraisers, gala’s, etc.
  14. Offer monthly and holiday specials. You can package lower selling products with higher selling products to move inventory. Partner up with other businesses and offer package deals.
  15. Interview other professionals associated with your business, showcase them in your blog, video, social media, etc. You can also volunteer to be a gues speaker at events.
  16. Host a weekly meet and greet, chat session, or morning coffee with the boss, etc. Answer question and engage with your audience. People don’t want to see corporate structure, they want raw all natural people.

 

Tina Holtz is a serial entrepeneur who owns and operates a boutique virtual assisting and business advisory firm, Executive Business Services, LLC. She has more than 20 years experience in business development, business management, operations, sales, marketing, and procurement. Tina values building relationships and is passionate about helping business owners reach new heights. She provides a vast array of support services to business owners, entrepreneurs, professionals, and executives.

 970-989-8047 or email at tina@execbusinessservices.com

www.execbusinessservices.com

business growth, Business Start-up, growing your business, Marketing

The Top Challenges for Small Businesses

Running a small business can be a daunting task. It might seem like you’re running around like a chicken with your head cut off most of the time. Paying bills, running errands, meeting with clients, making 30 phone calls a day, writing proposals, cleaning the toilet! It may seem like you’re doing everything and yet it can still feel like you’ve accomplished nothing.

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Courtesy Canva.com

In this blog article we’re going to review the top challenges that small businesses find themselves facing everyday. In my reaserch what I’ve found is that even though small business owners are stressed about everything that they need to do and the struggles in owning and operating their small businesses, they would do it all over again if given the chance. The freedom, flexibility, and ownership out weight many of the corporate aspects elsewhere. I know for me, I love running my own business and I know that I am in complete control of my life.

1.) Financial challenges can plague many small business owners. Not having enough cash reserves, lines of credit, or access to money can limit the growth and basic day to day operations. Commit to having a financial overview weekly to ensure you stay on track, and use a good accurate accounting system like Quickbooks, Quicken, or 17hats. Financial forecasting is another tool that should not be overlooked. In order to take control of your finances, you need to know where you are, where you’ve been, and where you’re headed. Set budgets, monitor expenses, and have a business plan that includes cash flow analysis which will help you plan your financial picture now and in the future.

2.) Proper staffing and good employees is a common pitfall. Many small business owners find themselves unable to compete in the job market and sometimes settle for the less desirable employee just to have a warm body. Trust me, this is not helping your business. The key to obtaining good employees is competitive pay, incentives, flexibility, and benefits. I know, you’re thinking there is no way you can compete with the big boys, but there is! You can offer a simple IRA, even if you can’t afford to match giving your employees a way to save for their future tax free is HUGE. You may not be able to offer full heealth insurance, however you can offer Aflac, and although this is not health insurance it does provide benefits for accidents, injuries, and some health related issues and is better coverage than nothing. As a business owner it costs you ZERO and all you have to do is offer it to your employees and you take the premiums out of their paycheck tax free through automatic deduction. You can partner with a local gym in your area for a discounted gym membership, and you can pay for half of the year’s membership and encourage a healthy team. Offering additional educational opportunities is also something that should not be overlooked and for a small cost you can increase the work performance of your team and better your company at the same time.

3.) The majority of small business owners lack time. Most of the time it’s because you started out by doing everything yourself, wearing multiple hats and so you just continue doing it. Learn to delegate tasks and duties to your staff. Being a good manager means that you know where your time and that of your employees is best spent, and providing you with the best return on that time and investment. You don’t need to be changing oil in a service truck if you should be at a meeting with a potential client. You are too valuable for that, you should be bringing in a new customer and your mechanic or laborer should be changing the oil. The same thing goes for invoicing, payroll, etc. You need to be running your business and delegating those tasks to another person. Know where the true value lays within a member of your team and where you should be really spending your time.

4.) A lot of small business owners start their company with little business management knowledge. That’s ok, it doesn’t mean you’re not a good entrepreneur, but you might need some help with the basic operations and set-up of your business. Be sure to get the help you need right away. I cannot stress this enough. If you procrastinate the problems and issues only get bigger and can lead to failure. For instance, I know a cleint who was a concrete guy, a great concrete guy at that. He knew how to pour concrete very well, but he didn’t knew nothing about how to run a business, invoice, market, hire employees, set the business up etc. Sometimes you need help, so reach out to a virtual assistant or business advisor to help you with those issues.

5.) Marketing always seems to be a BIG struggle for small business owners. Today marketing can be done very easily if the right techniques and methods are used. Most small business owners are unsure of where to begin, what methods to use, how to track it, or plain and simple don’t understand it, so they never market their business. Truthfully they really don’t have time to market because their too busy running the business. So marketing gets overlooked and set to the wayside. Marketing is the backbone to the success of every company and sooner or later it needs to be a part of your business plan. Again, you may need to reach out for assistance with this.

6.) Growing pains! This is common with a lot of small businesses. You start out small, maybe you even bootstrapped your way along and then all of the sudden one day you wake up and your business is booming. You find yourself growing so fast, you don’t even know what’s going on. You’re hiring staff with no paperwork, your throwing receipts into a box by the door, you’re only invoicing once a month because you have no time, you barely pay your bills on time even though you have the money in your account. This can be an exciting spot, but it can also be very scary. More than ever, this is when you have to ensure that your management plan is up to snuff. DO NOT cut corners or procrastinate. You have to ensure that you have the proper foundation established for your business so that you can succeed through this growth process.

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Here are some interesting stats from a research study that Constat Contact did.

43% of small business owners say they are wearing too many hats

20% have a hard time riding through bad economic times

10% struggle with hiring and managing staff

66% have trouble finding new customers

56% say they do not have enough time

40% say they have trouble retaining existing customers

32% say they have a hard time paying bills

So this just goes to show you, that you are not alone afterall. Just remember, if you need help there are loads of professionals out there available with the experience you need. You can start with your virtual assistint, lawyer, CPA, business advisor, insurance agent, etc. These professionals truly care about the success of your business and are with you every step of the way.

Tina Holtz~Miss Executive

 

 

 

business growth, Business Savvy, growing your business, Marketing, Social Media/Online Marketing, Virtual Assisting

Outsourcing 101

So what is outsourcing you ask?

Well some people actually think that it means that you are sending your work overseas to some foreign company for cheap labor and non English speaking representatives, and although that is a possibility with some firms, that’s definitely not the case with your typical virtual assistant or virtual assisting firm.

Traditional VA’s offer outsourcing as a business service for busy professionals who struggle with a variety of situations, like time management issues, possibly lacking the specific skills or confidence with certain business tasks, or just find themselves in a position where their not ready to bring a staff member aboard to perform these duties. That’s where a well trained VA comes in.

Teamwork
Photo Courtesy https://www.workquotes.net

Outsourcing is available for pretty much everything and anything business related. A majority of small businesses already hire a group of professionals outside their business for the usual services, like an attorney, accountant, business advisor, etc. and your VA should be part of this team.  VA’s have the ability to outsource an enormous amount of business tasks. Common ourtsourcing duties include social media services and management, data entry, basic administrative needs, public relations, data maintenance, research, scheduling, purchasing, business development, marketing, training, and much, much more.

Outsourcing provides business owners with a very unique tool. Imagine that you want to get involved in the social media gold rush but you’re intimidated by the internet and all that technology stuff, and you’re probably working hard on keeping your customers happy and fulfilling their needs. Lets face it, when in the world are you supposed to have the time to start a facebook page and keep up with the content updates? More than likely, you know it’s something you should do, but it’s the least of your worries at this point.

However, in this situation it would be in your best interest to meet with a VA and review how having a social media outlet presence could help your business gain revenue and what specific methods should be used to get you there to accomplish your goals. A VA can set your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and website pages up for you, review them with you, and then once you develop a strategy, the VA can manage them on your behalf as often as you need. Your VA can also incorporate a nice professional weekly, monthly or quarterly newsletter that will keep you in constant contact with your clients. The key to keeping your clients is to remain in contact and to be seen as an informative source, rather than a pesky business who just wants to make a quick buck. Set the stage, be the leader in your market by being the go to source for what your clients need.

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Photo Courtesy http://www.carrie-persichini.blogspot.com

 

Something that is always in the back of my mind when I go to the vet clinic with one of my animals is that I think how nice it would be if my vet actually could notify me when my animals are coming due for their booster shots or their annual checkup.  I have 4 dogs and 3 cats, and trying to keep track of when they are all due for shots is a nightmare, but what an awesome service that would be for the vet to provide and I can guarantee you that there would be in increase in revenue for the vet if they had a VA who could incorporate this into their business. The same can go for any business, a dentist, doctor, chiropractor, eye doctor, service station, etc.

Start getting creative and think of ways to increase your bottom line and contact a VA to start implementing these services for you. Trust me, the investment is worth every penny and then some.

 

All the Best,

Miss Executive- Tina

Marketing

Advertising vs. Marketing

Typical advertising mail
Typical advertising mail (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Is there a difference between advertising and marketing? I believe that there is.

Here’s why. When you advertise you’re branding your business and putting it out there to create a buzz about who you are and what you do. When you market your business, you’re actually promoting your business and nurturing prospective leads and clients, the brand awareness already exists. You can’t market before you advertise. You have to ensure that you targeting the right audience which requires a lot of thought and research. Too often someone opens a business and just expects that business will just automatically roll through the doors. It takes investment of both time and money to make a business a real success.

Throughout my years of experience in the business world, I have seen several businesses fail at  implementing a solid advertising and marketing campaign. Unfortunately business growth can be slowed or diminished when such a campaign is not integrated with a business plan.

The most important aspect of any campaign is knowing who your target market is and where they spend their time learning about your business. For instance, if you’re a local auto dealer, you need to determine who your prospects are and where you should spend dollars in order for them to effectively find you. Local newspapers and direct mail tend to be some of the best solutions for a business of this nature. If you’re an international business however, a local newspaper is not going to work for you. Your advertising might be better through online alternatives and trade shows, as well as international magazine publications. Again, knowing your audience is the most important objective.

Advertising is a needed investment among businesses. Many owners and managers see it as an un-nesccessary expense. This could not be farther from the truth. Advertising in my opinion, should be seen as a business investment. Your goal should be to invest a certain dollar amount to achieve a certain return on that investment. You shouldn’t just spend money on advertising just because. You need to ensure that it works and provides the return you seek. Another important aspect of advertising is to ensure that you track and measure the outcomes of each campaign. This will provide feedback for what works and what doesn’t. Be sure to change your campaigns to fit the needs of your business.

So then what is marketing and where does it fit in the grand scheme of things? Marketing is essentially used after you have implemented a successful advertising campaign and your audience understands your solutions, who you are, and what you do. Marketing is basically keeping your business alive among your audience. You engage on a regular basis, whether it be in local charity events, business events, your local chamber of commerce, trade publications, trade shows, websites, blogs, social media etc. You are maintaining your existence in the business arena.

I have seen some business owners who spend $600 one month, wait for a miracle of new business to come through their door and when it doesn’t, they say advertising didn’t work. Unfortunately their right. You can’t advertise once and expect a result. Statistically it is stated that it takes an average of 5-7 times for a prospect to see your ad or information before they engage to make a purchase or contact. Which means you need to be prepared for the long haul. Be sure to really make an investment in your advertising and marketing campaigns. Success will come when a plan is implemented properly.

Be sure to always include an advertising and marketing campaign within your business plan. If you don’t have one, begin making plans to implement one immediately.

Best of Luck!

Miss Executive, Tina Holtz

Social Media/Online Marketing

4 INCREDIBLE Reasons Why You Need Twitter!

People often ask me what Twitter is and why they need it. Most people tell me that they think it’s a joke and that people just use it to say silly things, like what they just ate for lunch, or how bored they are at work, or what their dog just…… wait, never mind on that one, you get the picture.

Actually they couldn’t be more wrong. Although some people who use Twitter on a personal side might use it in such a fashion, we business professionals use it in a totally different way. It’s really no different than how you use Facebook or LinkedIn, when you’re networking professionally it’s good to keep your personal life out of the business part of your life. Twitter is amazing for business and the sooner you jump in and get your feet wet, the better you’re going to be.

Do yourself and your business a favor and get your Twitter account today, it will take less than five minutes and soon you’ll have quite a following. Just a tip here: ENGAGE. Engage every day, several times a day if you can. It will take some getting used to, but before you know it, you’ll be thinking of all sorts of things to tweet about.

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Here’s my 4 INCREDIBLE reasons why you need Twitter:

1.) Connecting with customers

Millions of people are using Twitter everyday, and they tweet only a sentence or two at a time, but it’s proven to be successful for businesses too. You can tweet about new products or services and be ahead of your competitors if their not using Twitter yet. You can engage with your customers on a level that would otherwise be non existent. Imagine reaching hundreds, possibly thousands of people in a matter of minutes, who are all talking about you and your business and retweeting and sharing your product information. Let’s not forget it’s FREE! Twitter is what is often times called viral. It takes only mere seconds to share news with millions of people.

2.) Branding your business

People usually think that you have to a big brand before someone is interested in following you. This could not be farther from the truth. If you have customers, trust me, they want to be following you to keep up with what’s going on in your business and what new products and services you might have that they need. They want to be the first to know and the first to have the newest toy. By engaging with your customers each and everyday through Twitter, you’ve increased your brand loyalty. You’ve kept them informed, you’ve helped them with what they need and you’ve made them feel important by taking only a few moments out of your day. What more could you ask for?

3.) Customer Service

You can provide an all new level of customer service through Twitter. Your constant engagement with your customers ensures that they are always in the know. Imagine knowing when your doctor’s office got a new piece of medical equipment that might be useful to your needs, or your favorite car wash is out of order, or the newest line of spring clothing arrived today and your one of the first to know. Tweet new hours of operation, promotions, even offering one day promotions is a great sales tool, coupons, giveaways, the list is endless.

4.) Marketing

The best thing about any social media platform, especially Twitter is that your reaching a target audience you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. When you advertise in direct mail, newspapers, etc., you’re usually reaching a specific number of people, let’s say 4,000 in this example. Most people don’t carry that ad with them in their pocket and show it to everyone they talk to that day, your reach is still about 4,000 people, give or take. But with social media and Twitter, your one tweet can reach an unlimited number of people and FAST. I don’t know a business out there that wouldn’t agree that word of mouth and referrals are the best possible recommendations a business can get. Social media and Twitter are doing just that. Their broadcasting your business via word of mouth.

Happy Tweeting! Oh yes and remember to Follow Me on Twitter @HoltzTina.

Tina Holtz, Miss Executive