What I Didn’t Know About Running a Business

Let’s be real. We’ve all been there.

A few short years ago, I decided that it was time to take a huge jump in my life. A terrifying, Mount Kilimanjaro type jump.

I was still working your typical 9–5 and then coming home to write until late at night. I fell in love with delivering high-quality content to clients from all over the world. However, I was working for pennies a word, trying to stay afloat.

I only had part-time to think about something I wanted to do full-time. I started my content creation business anyway, burning the midnight oil up until January 2018 when I couldn’t take it any longer.

I still remember that chilly day where I walked out the door of the office, got into my car and drove to my new office: home. I was thrilled, I was fulfilled and yet, I was naive.

You see, I had been running my business for a couple years, but was not fully immersed in it. I was writing articles about carpet while trying to vacuum my own. I was waking up each day to go to work, using up all of my phone memory on new ideas in the parking lot. I was split.

In January, when I finally began creating full-time, I was smacked in the face with the reality of everything I did not know that I thought I did.

Here goes nothing.

  • I forgot that I almost didn’t make it through Algebra in high school. What makes me think I can do my own business taxes?
  • Speaking of taxes, you have to pay your employer part and employee part. Guess what, I’m both.
  • I’m so good at following directions. However, I’m not good at giving them. Are you telling me I have to do both?
  • You can’t write high-quality content while binge-watching Golden Girls at the same time. It doesn’t work.
  • You will actually receive text messages asking you for a quick favor since you’re at home now and “have so much time off”. And you’ll feel bad for having to say no.
  • Decisions sometimes have to be made fast. There is no time for overthinking, which is kind of my middle name.
  • Anger will be felt, especially when you realize it’s 4 o’clock and you haven’t eaten yet.
  • Tears will be shed, especially when you reach a word count of 5,000 for the day. (It happens.)

Yes, it looks silly now as I look back. Why wasn’t I more prepared? Why didn’t I do all of the research? Why didn’t I read those books I bought about running a business? Well, because the things I DID know, outweighed it all:

  • I would have the freedom to keep my little boy home with me when he needed me.
  • I could take that nap at 3 in the afternoon after writing my heart out for a piece. Or, when another migraine took over.
  • I could put my name on the sign-up sheet for connect groups and volunteering at church.
  • I could say yes to that vacation with my family.
  • I could paint. I could read. I could have time to do what it is that fuels me.
  • I could experience the confidence that comes with doing something you didn’t know you could do.

And so much more. I have experienced each of these things, just in a few short months. I am learning the things I didn’t know. I am meeting incredible people I never thought I would meet. I am doing things that I never thought I could do. I am incredibly blessed.

Running a business has taken my “never” and turned it into now.

What Do Bologna and Business Have in Common?

As a full-time business owner and full-time mom, they have more in common than you think.

My son, a smart and spunky two-year-old loves bologna. And when I say loves, I mean he is passionate about it.

Just ask him what he ate for lunch today and he will say, “boney and cheese”. And no, that’s probably not what he had — he just wants it to be. This kid would eat bologna for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and also in between.

I’m convinced he goes to bed thinking about bologna and wakes up thinking about bologna.

I should mention that he doesn’t eat bologna as much as he would like. After all, the kid does need some nutrients. And you know what the moral of this story is? He does enjoy so many things other than bologna, no matter how much it clouds his thinking.

Bologna and business both start with “b”, but that’s only the beginning. The other day, after I asked my son what he wanted for breakfast, I had a revelation.

My business could be my bologna.

How many of us that own a small business, or large enterprise for that matter, wake up with business on the brain? How many of us answer emails or swipe through our social media accounts during our lunch break? And how many of us are guilty of sitting down at family dinner with business still in the back of our minds?

You can be honest with me because I’m going to be honest with you.

I am passionate about what I do. Sometimes, I can’t believe that this is what I get to do to provide for my family. But throughout this journey, I have realized that a passion for one thing can quickly consume the passion for another if we’re not careful.

I am passionate about my business, but I am also passionate about that little boy who loves bologna so much. He always comes first. But sometimes, it can be hard to not answer that email in the evenings when we’re playing, ya know? It can be hard to not think about those tasks you need to accomplish during bath time.

How do we make the shift? How do we focus? Here’s what I’ve learned:

  • Stick to your guns. Pick a time in the day when you are done with business and be done. Don’t schedule phone calls after this time. Don’t answer emails after this time. It can wait.
  • Focus and be present. You don’t quite believe them when they say childhood goes by fast. It goes even faster than that. Time marches on at the same speed, with or without business.
  • It’s okay to say ‘no’. Yes, it truly is and I still struggle with it. It’s okay to say no to extra projects that you just can’t handle. It’s okay to say no to things that interfere with your family time.
  • Manage your time. If you work from home like I do, it can be hard to do business while staring at the dust in the corner. But, it is critical that you manage your tasks during the day so you can shut your computer off when it’s time.

Honestly, I’m not a big fan of bologna. But, at the end of the day, when I’m thinking about everything I am grateful for, I will remember the happiness on my son’s face more times than I will remember my computer screen. Always remember your priorities.

Business that comes first? That’s bologna.

Tips for Creating Emotional Marketing Content: Not So Uptight!

“Why does it have to sound so stiff and uptight?”

I asked myself this question the other night when writing an article. It was late, I was tired and the day had been absolutely nuts.

Actually, writing that the day “had been absolutely nuts” just gave me anxiety. And this is part of the problem.

You see, I was writing an article in a tone that I knew would work. That tone that says, “I know what I’m talking about. Na, na-na, na, boo boo.”

It is a tone that a lot of copywriters, such as myself, fall into. We get into a mode where we feel like everything we write needs to be pure genius and sound like pure genius…or else. Although knowledge goes a long way, no one truly wants to read content that puts them to sleep way before the call to action.

And no business wants content on their website or blog that does that either. Why? Well, since I cannot possibly answer for the rest of the consumers out there, I will tell you how uptight content makes me feel.

  • So, is that a fourth quote from Forbes or are you just happy to see me? I get it. High-quality quotes and knowledgeable cites are great. However, it takes away from what YOU have to offer.
  • A lot of people like to skim articles for the good and actionable stuff. If I have to get through paragraphs of uptight business jargon, I may just have to find action somewhere else.
  • I gravitate towards content that makes me feel something. Whether it be hope, excitement, love or even anger, I want to feel some emotion. Emotion creates relationships. If I cannot connect with your content, how will I connect with your brand?

All in all, I appreciate knowledgeable content. I appreciate content that is useful and is backed up by example. I appreciate content that is smart, before its time and earth-shattering. However, I don’t appreciate content that tries to do all this while making me feel dumb for even attempting to read it.

Here are a few tips to ensure your content stays helpful and on point, while remaining thoughtful and genuine:

  • Write for human beings. We are not robots who skim your article and count how many times you use a certain keyword. We are humans that want to earn something from reading your content. Maybe an emotional response, or maybe an actionable tip we can use.
  • Don’t oversell yourself. As a consumer, we know that at the end of the day, you need to make money. However, build a relationship with us first. You can’t see the gold without mining the cave first. Don’t use your content to just sell your product or service. Tell us WHY we need it. Convince us.
  • Don’t just rehash your sources. I love sources. All of us want some extra assurance that a fact is real. However, content that just uses source after source takes away from what idea you are trying to share. It takes away the personal aspect of content and gives us the article we probably passed up on Google in the first place. We want MORE.

Give us MORE. Give us emotion. Give us something to share. There is no reason to think you have to sound uptight and oh-so knowledgeable. If we are reading your words, we already believe in you enough to let magic happen. Don’t force it.

 

Why Transparency is Important 

I have this #hashtag I like to use on Instagram: #transparency.

As a mom and a business owner, I learn something new everyday. However, I don’t learn quickly and gracefully. I learn hard.

Throughout this business journey, I have learned that being able to laugh at yourself and learn from your mistakes is crucial. This is nothing new, however. There are millions of blog posts, social media quotes and books written about “learning from your mistakes”. As pretty of a picture this paints, it will only do so much for you.

I believe in being transparent. I believe in sharing your mistakes. How you felt about your mistakes and how you dealt with them is crucial to success. Why?

  • Being transparent creates a sense of trust between you and your audience. If you can share your recent embarrassing business blunder, surely you will tell them the truth about their brand, product or offering.
  • Being transparent puts the personality back into your business. If “stuffy” is truly your brand voice, go for it. There are markets for everything. However, a brand that is personal has the ability to create a bond between the consumer and the brand. We are humans – not robots.
  • Being transparent keeps you grounded. When business mishaps happen, transparency gives you the power to talk about it, share it and walk through it. Transparent content may even produce ideas from others who are engaging that you may never have thought of on your own.
  • Transparency equals engagement. Sharing your personality allows your audience to get to know you. Real conversation can start when relationships are built.

You may be thinking, “Okay, you want me to share each time I lose a sale, make a wrong move or lose an opportunity? You’re crazy. That can’t be good for business.”

You’re right. Advertising yourself as a faulty business isn’t good for well, your business. However, advertising your business as one that is owned by a human being is the best for business.

Humans make mistakes. We have emotions and passions. Our product or service is a result of those passions. If our audience can build the same bond towards what we offer, success is guaranteed.

It’s scary. It’s hard. It’s worth it. Start out small. Create a blog that simply shares your passion for writing. Write an email campaign that tells your business story. Or, post that Instagram photo of your cute kid.

Be genuine. Be open. Business, when boiled down, is sharing.

When Social Media Doesn’t Work

When Social Media Doesn’t Work

What happens if your social media marketing strategy just isn’t working anymore?

“If you want your small business to succeed, you have to be using social media to market yourself to your audience.”

You have been told this over and over again in various ways. So, you create a presence on Facebook, you open an account on Twitter and you start scrolling through Pinterest. Weeks pass without even the slightest change in business status.

Sure, you have collected a few likes, a few followers and even a couple of shares. However, you were promised that social media would cause you to have a cliental, too large for you to handle, overnight. You ask yourself, “What is wrong?” and quickly become overwhelmed by the lack of interest in what you have to offer. The good news: You can fix it.

What You’re Doing Wrong

In order for you to grasp social media marketing and everything it can do for your business, you first have to understand what you are doing to inhibit your own success. If you find yourself with a lack of followers or you are losing the followers that you have, you should analyze your strategy.

  • Too Many Posts or Updates

We all know that one person on our accounts that gives an update every single time they eat or go to the bathroom. No thanks. It makes me click “unfollow” quicker than I can say it. There is no easier way to turn off your following than through constant updates that bring nothing to the table.

  • Too Few Posts or Updates

I know what you’re thinking. “What do you want from me?!” However, there is a fine line between too many posts and too few. I have followed several small businesses throughout my social media life cycle only to never see another post from them again. If I follow a business, that means I am interested in what they have to offer. If I no longer see what they have to offer, chances are I will forget they exist.

  • Same Old Content

Even if you feel like you are posting an adequate amount, followers and potential clients or customers do not like the same post they’ve seen day in and day out. For example, a typical “try us and like us” post twice a day every single day will get old fast. Plus, there are so many other angles and ideas out there to try! Not only will your audience get bored, you will get bored of trying.

What You Should Be Doing

Are you ready to change your social media marketing game for the better? If so, you will be happy to know that there are ways to get you out of the rut. And fortunately, they are relatively simple.

  • Fresh Content Daily

This is simple: You do not want to fall between the “cracks in the Facebook wall” so to speak. Creating fresh and new content daily should be a top priority to make your business known. Fresh content daily shows your audience that you are interested in your business and interested in sharing it with others. This content can include your own content as well as content that is relevant to your brand written by others such as blogs and the sharing of posts.

  • Just the Right Amount of Posts

Too many or too few is no good. There are standards that have been discussed by social media marketers that have been tested and tried. I have tested them as well only to find them to be adequate without being overwhelming. Here are some examples:

 

Facebook: 2-3 posts daily

Google+: 3-4 posts daily

Twitter: 3-4 posts daily

 

I have found that staying within these parameters at different times of the day is most effective. Of course, each post does not have to be the same. You can share a blog, write a post, share a quote or share a quick blurb about your business. Mix it up and make it interesting.

  • Stay Relevant

No matter what you post, make sure you stay relevant. Your brand is very important to your business and should be followed when marketing on social media. For example, a jewelry maker may not want to post on dog grooming. This has the potential to become confusing to your followers and potential clients or customers. And what happens when they are confused? They walk away.

Social media is an amazing tool for anyone with a business, large or small. If you can find a balance between falling through the cracks and posting so much it becomes redundant, you CAN be successful. It may take some trial and error to find what works for you. Remember to stay relevant and show you care about what you are offering. If you care, your audience will too.

What are your thoughts? Are you doing anything to change your strategy?