Six Old-School Ways to Grow Your Business

Old School WaysWhen I started my own business more than 20 years ago (I know, that makes me sound old!), most of the tools I use today didn’t even exist. I remember being so excited that I figured out how to sign up for AOL – and then being immediately discouraged because nobody I knew was using email at home. Very few of my friends had computers outside of work. Social media hadn’t been invented – in fact, Mark Zuckerberg was in elementary school. We had yet to discover the vast capabilities of the World Wide Web.

But there I was…a new bride in a strange city, with no contacts, no history and no job. Yet, remarkably, I managed to grow a successful freelance writing business from my apartment with nothing more than a computer, an old fashioned portfolio of my work, handmade business cards and a whole lot of determination.

Of course, I’m grateful for the evolution of technology and the ease with which I am able to do business today. I don’t know what I would do without smart phones and virtual assistants…without Quickbooks and online bill pay…without CRM databases and shared calendars…without web conferencing and screen sharing. But I think we’ve forgotten some of the basics. I think there are a few tricks from the “old days” that we need to incorporate into our digital lives.

Six Old-School Ways to Grow Your Business

1. Pick up the phone. Not the one you use for texting – but the one you use for speaking to other human beings. You would be amazed at how effective a 20-minute phone conversation can be in qualifying leads and working with clients and business partners. Now I’m not suggesting you chat the day away. But I do want to encourage you to take conversations offline every once in a while. After all, business is really about relationships and you’ve got to nurture those relationships if you want them to grow.

If there is a prospect, or a client or a potential business partner connecting with you via social media, email or texting, then consider scheduling an appointment to talk on the phone. (If it’s appropriate, then take it a step further and meet in person – in real life!)

2. Create a list of prospects. There are all sorts of fancy database programs (called CRM for Customer Relationship Management) that will help you keep track of information and conversations with customers and prospects. Those tools are helpful for automation and organization but for most of us, they fall short when it comes to mining the field for customers. That’s because those programs are often too robust for what we need – which is a simple list of prospects.

You can use a Word document or Excel spreadsheet or even a legal pad to keep track of leads. Just add a name and email address to the list each time someone expresses an interest in your product or service. Then, make it a priority to reach out to those folks on a regular basis. Keep the list updated by making notes about your conversations and removing or adding people frequently. If you make it a simple process, you might actually use it!

3. Give yourself quotas and deadlines. These strategies are alive and well in many successful organizations – they just seem to get lost when you are self employed or running a small business or ministry. It’s so easy to ignore the numbers and let things slip another day…or another week…another month…another year. We’re too busy putting out fires and managing the daily operations that we don’t accomplish the bigger goals. But if we’re racing the clock, trying to meet a quota or a deadline, we tend to perform better. So instead of saying you want to “get more clients” and “make more money,” go ahead and quantify your goal and give it a deadline. Then write it down and post it on the wall where you can see it every day.

4. Ask for the referral. If you are not comfortable with sales then you probably find it difficult to ask for business. And unless you come from a sales background or the direct sales industry, you’ve probably never been trained in the art of sales. But you have to start somewhere. [Read more…]

Invest in Your Small Business by Joining the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs

One of the most challenging aspects of owning your own business is being your own boss. That means making your own decisions. And figuring stuff out all by your lonesome. As much as I love the freedom and independence that comes with the job, it can be lonely and overwhelming.

That’s why I am forever grateful for the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs – a community of smart, successful women who support each other in business and ministry. If you’ve ever considered joining our circle of support, now is the time to do it – and I’ll tell you why!

Three Reasons Why NOW is the Best Time to Join the Sisterhood of Christian Mompreneurs

“Walk with the wise and become wise, for a companion of fools suffers harm.” – Proverbs 13:20

1. You are about to enter your best year ever in business or ministry! How do I know? Because I know God has great plans for you and the coming year is filled with his abundant blessings!

IMG_0410So, as you take that next step to build or expand your business or ministry, you’ll need the guidance of others who have gone before you…and the support of others who are walking alongside you. That’s exactly what you’ll find in the Sisterhood. You’ll find prayer warriors, accountability partners, business colleagues and mentors. You may even find clients or customers.

Among them are writers, photographers, fitness professionals, real estate agents, financial consultants, musicians, therapists, artists, speakers, coaches, caterers, craft makers, nutritionists, teachers, doctors and more! Some of these ladies are just getting started and others have been in business for years! Some of them are working from home with babies on their laps, and others are enjoying the season of empty nests and grandchildren. What binds them together is their faith and their commitment to supporting one another.

2. There’s a lot to learn when it comes to running a business while raising a family. I invest a great deal of time and financial resources into learning new strategies and resources that will help my business – and yours. I attend conferences, connect with industry leaders, invest in software programs, hire assistants, and sometimes pull my hair out trying to learn the latest and greatest tools and technologies. And it’s part of my mission to share all of that with you.

The ladies in the Sisterhood can tell you first-hand that I use our little group to experiment with my newfound knowledge. So you’ll be learning as I am learning – and benefiting from my mistakes! [Read more…]

Five Things That Surprised Me About the Platform Conference

Platform CollageLast week I had the honor of attending the Platform Conference in Colorado Springs, Co, hosted by Michael Hyatt. I’ve been a member of Michael’s Platform University for the past year and was so excited to be able to attend the conference and hear from him and the fantastic speakers. I hoped to learn even more about growing my platform and I knew I would meet some pretty amazing people.

But there were a few things I didn’t expect…a few remarkable surprises that left me feeling like I had just been a part of something special. The team at the Platform Conference delivered – in more ways than one! In fact, here are five things that surprised me (in a wonderful way) about the event:

1. Spirit of Generosity: Have you ever been in a group where you’re embarrassed to raise your hand and ask a question? Or you’re too nervous to share your thoughts or goals? Maybe it’s the introvert in me, but it takes a while for me to warm up and trust people around me. I typically feel like everyone has his or her own agenda and nobody really wants to hear about my business. But this event was overflowing with a spirit of generosity. Everyone I met truly wanted to help me in some way. They were genuinely interested in sharing their knowledge, experience and insights with me. And they were generous with their wallets as well – together we raised more than $63,000 in one hour to benefit World Teacher Aid and help fund the building of a school in Africa.

2. Warm and Welcoming Culture: Some conferences (especially industry specific events) can be a little cliquey. It’s uncomfortable to break into a group if the same folks have been attending the event for several years. But Platform was filled with people who were open and excited about meeting one another and really getting to know each other. If there were people who already knew each other prior to the conference, I would not have known it by the way they interacted with others. Everyone truly was there to work together.

3. Approachable Speakers: I’ve always been somewhat of a groupie, so I am usually on a mission to have my photo taken with every speaker at an event. But it’s not always possible. In fact, I remember attending my first “real” conference as an entrepreneur. I drove 9 hours to get there and I didn’t know a soul. It was a “one speaker” event and I was so excited to meet this woman whom I had admired from the other end of the internet for several years. But after her presentation, she disappeared. She was nowhere to be found. No handshake. No hug. No photo opp.

But Platform was the complete opposite! The speakers all made themselves available to not only take a photo with me, but also talk to me about my business and my goals. And these were “BIG NAME” speakers like Michele Cushatt (from Women of Faith), Amy Porterfield, Stu McLaren, Crystal Paine (aka MoneySavingMom), Ken Davis, Casey Graham, Ray Edwards, Pat Flynn and Cliff Ravenscraft. I’m sure they had other places to be…more important things to do. But each one of them took the time to talk with me personally. [Read more…]