Tap Into Your Tribe

When I finally had the courage to hit send, I had nearly 200 email addresses in the BCC bar on the email. Even sending this email to friends and family was nerve wracking. All of a sudden my new business idea was becoming real, and all the members of my tribe were going to know about it. No going back now. 

But then I changed my thinking: this is 200 people who know me and (presumably) like or even love me. They’d be the first to recommend me as a business consultant because they know the details of my work life and they know my personality. So I pressed send. And I’m very glad I did.

When starting a new business, sometimes you think you need to go big right out of the gate. You want to buy a billboard in Times Square to announce, here you are! But try not to discount the benefits of spreading the word to the ones you already know. It’s truly your immediate community that will help you grow the fastest. Why? Because they’re the people who already trust you and what you bring to the table.

Never be afraid of those shameless plugs either. It’s not exactly a humble brag. It’s more like you’re working with what you already have available to you. Aren’t you more likely to hire someone or buy something you’ve heard about through a friend? I know I am. For me, a friend or family member’s endorsement is enough for me not to look elsewhere.

The ways to get your community excited about you are endless! 

  • Post about your new biz on your personal social media pages 

  • Email everyone you know

  • Make plans with friends you haven’t seen in a while and casually mention it to them

  • Do a seminar if you have a service based business or a trunk show if you have goods to sell at your children’s school/place of worship/community center. 

  • If you have the means, help sponsor a local event and make sure to be there to talk up your venture.

These are all low cost or no cost ways to start getting the word out to your tribe. Plus, when you’re really ready to step up your game, schedule a free 15-minute consultation with us!

Cheers to your success,

Melanie 

Make the Best First Impression

Remember that old Head ‘n Shoulders commercial that says, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression”? That phrase definitely applies to your website. Your site is the face of your business. So paying careful attention to the various sections needed is key.

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But before we continue, let me tell you beyond a shadow of a doubt, Yes, you NEED a website.

An online presence provides credibility for your company. Think of it like a virtual resume. Having a website shows that you’re legit because you’ve spent the time to make yourself accessible 24/7 to anyone with internet access. 

Your website creates an opportunity for potential customers to see all that your company is capable of in just a few short clicks. You’re more likely to get a client or customer if you have an online presence because you’ve made it simple for them to find out more about you.

Making sure your site is optimized for mobile is a must as well since a majority of mobile users will not recommend a business if the website is poorly designed or unresponsive on a smart phone.

What kind of business should have a website? Short answer: ALL.

If you sell a product, think of your website as your online showcase. If you have a service-based business, think of your site as an online portfolio. Think of the audience you could have if you could show people, anywhere, what you and your company are all about.

A well-designed functional website needs the following: 

•               a home page with excellent photos

•               an about us page that details all about the company, the people who work at the company and the mission of the company

•               a contact page so the company can be reached by phone and/or email

•               a section that highlights what the company can do through photos

•               a blog section, which is helpful for SEO purposes. Using the keywords for the company in blog posts can help the website itself rank higher on search engines. It’s also great for sharing on social media! 

I’ve built websites through Shopify, Wix and Squarespace. Each one has its benefits and drawbacks. I like how user-friendly Shopify is for selling products. I’ve found Squarespace to work well for service-based businesses. And Wix works nicely if you’re new to the whole website game.  

Need more help? I’m here to assist. Click to schedule your Free 15-minute consultation today!

Cheers to your success,

Melanie

Let's Get Social!

Do you remember Tom from My Space? The minute you signed up from the social media platform, he became your first friend.

Sadly, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter don’t have a Tom. You have to work to get your first follower and pretty much every one after that.

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But how are you possibly to know which social media is the right one for your business? 

Hey, I got you. And here are some answers: 

Let’s say you’re a jewelry designer. But it’s no ordinary jewelry. You create little bracelets for fashionable babies and toddlers. Then hands-down, you want to be on Instagram. Why? Because let’s talk about who your target market is. Do you want Chicago West and Rumi Carter to be sporting your styles? Of course you do! That’s why you need to go where the fashion-forward millennial moms are. 

Suppose you’re a music teacher. But you’re the kind of instructor who’s totally comfortable with teaching in person or via skype. You need to be focusing on video tutorials which you should be posting on, wait for it, Youtube. But in order to reach your prospective students’ parents…it would be a great idea to be building up your Facebook reach because that’s where they’re hanging out.

Finally, what if you own a store with all gorgeous things for a baby’s nursery. Your key demo is hanging out on pinterest! These mamas-to-be are pinning ideas for their baby’s habitat looong before baby arrives. Instagram will also be a wonderful place to focus, so split your time between these two platforms and you’ll be golden!

Whatever your business, there’s at least one social media platform that will benefit you and help you showcase all your talents and/or products. Schedule your free consultation with me today so I can help you find the perfect social media strategy! 

Cheers to your success,

Melanie

 

What's in a name? Hint: Everything.

The name.

Oh, the name.

When I had to choose a name for my children, I was so concerned that I was going to mess it up. I worried about the number of syllables, whether the name was memorable but not too trendy, and I would come up with all the possible nicknames to make sure mean kids on the playground wouldn’t be able to call my kids horrible names based on their given ones. Man did that take a lot of energy.

Naming a business is different, but not entirely.

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Of course, you don’t have to be steps ahead of a schoolyard bully, but you still do have to think about how other people will react to your company’s name.

There are companies you can pay thousands of dollars to for them to work for 6 months on choosing a name for your company. Also, a lot of tech-related companies choose made-up names: Shopify, Fiverr, Canva, BuzzSumo, Bizzy, etc.

If I had a time machine, I would go back to October 1, 2012. It was that day that I filed papers for my fledgling nursing wear company and officially named it Udderly Hot Mama. 

If you’ve never been a breastfeeding mother, I’ll let you in on the why this name is funny (to some). You kind of feel like a cow, you kind of feel like you have udders and you desperately want to feel hot.

When I settled on this name, I asked a very limited group of people (all friends/family) what they thought. They all laughed and thought it was brilliant.

PROBLEM #1 

I didn’t ask the right people. What I should have done is create a survey and send it to every pregnant and nursing mother around to see their thoughts on the name. I’m sure I would have gotten a resounding and slightly overwhelming NOOOOOO!! from most of those surveyed.

PROBLEM #2

I chose joke, a pun. Not everyone in the whole world shares the same sense of humor. There are lots of people who won’t get the joke or worse, won’t find it funny.

PROBLEM #3

I didn’t consider how sensitive people can be. To everything. I believed that since I was a nursing mother, I knew what ALL nursing mothers were thinking. WRONG! As it turns out, a lot of people have been offended (gasp!) by the name over the years. And yes, it’s cost me some business because people refused to buy from a company that was offending them or their customers. 

PROBLEM #4 

The sound. Say the name of your business out loud. Does it have a “ks” or “x” sound in it? Those tend to be better names than something wishy washy.

PROBLEM #5

The length. The name of my company for a long time ended up being: Udderly Hot Mama Nursing and Pumping Wear. What a mouthful! I shortened it to Udderly Hot Mama once people started knowing the brand better but even that has proven to be too long! Think of some of the biggest companies around: Nike, Adidas, Nordstrom, Amazon, Lulu Lemon, J Crew, Spanx….These are short names.  

When choosing a name, be sure to consider everything above. And survey, survey, survey. In October 2012, we didn’t have Instagram to reach out directly through DMs to people who would be potential customers. The word “influencer” wasn’t in our vernacular yet. Now, you could reach out via direct message to influencers with whom you’ve developed relationships and ask their opinions. These are the opinions you need! Not your mom’s!

With VIP Business Connection, I carefully considered everything. Ultimately, I came up with a three-word name for a reason. I needed all three to describe what clients are going to receive: VIP treatment, all about business, and business connections with me and other entrepreneurs.  

And I’m pretty sure no one will be offended by this name.

Cheers to your success,

Melanie

How to become an entrepreneur. (Hint: it’s probably not what you think)

If you just can’t shake your idea, it’s definitely worth exploring how to become an entrepreneur.

If you just can’t shake your idea, it’s definitely worth exploring how to become an entrepreneur.

I kind of whispered it to my husband. Why? I’ve had lots of ideas. But this idea was different. It was for a business that I felt I had no business getting into. I studied history in college and journalism in grad school…how was I equipped to start a nursing wear company? I didn’t know how to become an entrepreneur.

Truth is, I was equipped. I just didn’t know it yet. I knew I had a few things on my side: common sense, high speed internet and the entrepreneurial spirit. But I worried that not having a degree in business would stand it my way. It didn’t.

When I was 8, I had a “business” decorating hair bows. When I was in my late teens, I decided I was going to design purses. Then I was going to write children’s books in my 20s. But in my 30s, my idea was even riskier. Designing a line of breastfeeding clothing…with no formal design training, no business training and pretty much no funding...seemed slightly crazy. I was essentially googling my way to become an entrepreneur!

Yep. That was my idea. And you know what, I went for it because I had an idea and I knew I had to see it through.

Those 4 words can bring a swell of emotions to any would-be entrepreneur. You think your idea is unique and fantastic and the world needs it. But then there’s this voice that gets louder and louder and says, why should YOU do this NOW? You have no experience/skillset/money tree in your backyard etc.

Well, it’s time to shake off the negativity. You CAN do this. You CAN become an entrepreneur.

Is it scary? Yes.

Will you have some doubt? Yes.

But tenacity (and your innate common sense) will get you there.

Remember that doing it alone is the tougher path to take. When you become an entrepreneur, you may feel the need to retreat into your work. But just like it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to grow a successful business. That’s why I’ve created VIP Business Connection, for you to connect with other people in a safe space. We are all going through the same feelings and experiences so we can guide each other, share our successes, what didn’t work, and cheer each other on.

You will rock this. And we’re here to support you along the way.

Cheers to your success,

Melanie