Mighty Small Business

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Last month I and more than 2,000 fellow business owners and entrepreneurs had the privilege of attending an amazing event in Washington, DC. All of us were graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses program (10KSB) and the event apparently was the single largest gathering of small business owners in the United States.

In short, it was incredible. Speakers included Tyler Perry, Warren Buffett, Sara Blakely, Michael Bloomberg, Sir Richard Branson and so many other fabulous business leaders. But the best part was being in the presence of thousands of other entrepreneurs, with all of their creative energy and “can do” attitudes. Someone said (and it’s absolutely true) that there were no “time wasters” in that conference center. All of us are the problem solvers, the ones who ask how something can be done, without much reverence for the obstacles that might be standing in the way of actually getting it done.

It was an exciting, invigorating and life-changing couple of days. I came away inspired and energized, and my very favorite thing happened on a bus one night, en route to a reception at Union Station.  I was sitting alone and a nice young man from Brooklyn sat down next to me. We naturally started talking about our businesses and I mentioned an idea I had to grow part of mine. Within seconds he started to brainstorm with me and within the course of the 15 minute bus ride together we crafted a pretty solid concept.

Then he surprised me, but in a way that exemplified what was so great about the conference.

“I’m giving you homework,” he said. “This is a great idea. How are you going to move it to the next level?”

“Hmmm… Well, I can make a teaser video about the concept and put together some materials.”

“Okay, when can get get that done by?”

“April 1?”

“April 1 is Easter. I’m calling you on April 2 to see what you’ve got.”

Within seconds I had accepted a calendar invite to talk with my new friend April 2. We arrived at our event, got off the bus and went on to have countless other amazing conversations that evening.

One of my co-alum, Leticia Velez, is featured in this video if you’d like to learn more about the program.

At the conference I learned how powerful and important small businesses really are to the economy as a whole. Some of the interesting stats that I learned about small business are:

  • Small business accounts for 29.6 million businesses in America
  • They make up 99% of U.S. employer firms
  • We create 63% of net new private sector jobs
  • We employ 58 million people – nearly half of America’s private workforce

 

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: A Three-Step Formula for Finding Your Purpose and Turning it into an Incredible Success, will be released in 2018. To find out more about how you can use video as a smart tool to grow your business visit our website.

Why Use Video Marketing for Your Small Business?

Welcome to our first guest blog, written by Nicole Standish of Charm Digital Media. Enjoy this article and let us know what you learned in the comments below!

Videos are some of the most effective marketing tools today. Customers find them attractive, relatable, and relevant. They are highly effective at capturing and retaining the client’s attention. Small Businesses especially can benefit from the value and engagement that video provides.

So, how can this form of marketing be useful to your small business?

Boosting Conversion Rates and Sales

Using a targeted video content strategy, you will not struggle to boost your conversion rates and sales. Therefore, be ready to make serious money and become wildly popular. A landing page that contains a video is capable of increasing conversions by as much as 80 percent.

Amazing ROIs

Videos offer amazing returns on investment (ROI). They guarantee the best results based on what you spend. They are a worthy investment when done correctly. All it takes is a bit of planning, a great video marketing team, and a smartphone to begin seeing your conversions soar.

Research shows that businesses publish on average 18 videos per month according to this HubSpot Infographic. That is close to 1 video per work day. Do not, however, place too much emphasis on producing perfect videos. Instead, focus on the content and solving problems for your target audience.

Building Trust with Clients

Videos are perfect for building trust with your customers. Most times, clients find it easier to relate with brands that produce videos. Trust is the foundation of any business relationship, especially if you are a small business that is just getting acquainted with your buyers. To do this,  Use video to highlight your team, show your community involvement, outline your mission and vision as a company, and show off your well-earned testimonials. 

Search Engines Love Videos

Google – and all the other major search engines – love videos. They reward marketers who use videos to pass messages across. Visitors on your site tend to spend more time browsing through your pages while engaged in one of your videos, improving your reach and validating your relevance to search engines. 

The likelihood of showing on the first results page increases 53 times when you feature videos.

Popular with Mobile Phone Users

Mobile users love videos. Today, there is a 233% increase in mobile video views. Businesses can take advantage of this trend and reach people on their mobile devices, while they are at work or at leisure. Video is the easiest content to consume on a smartphone or smaller device.

Tip: Include text in your video as many viewers watch with the sound off.

Videos are Ideal for Explanations

You have a higher and better chance of reaching out to your customers with a message they understand when using videos to explain your product, service or process.Explainer videos are popular with more than 98% of all video viewers, meaning they value the effort that you are taking to produce the videos and provide the answers they are looking for.

There are many ways to create an entertaining explainer video. If your subject is difficult to explain and low on the likeability scale, you can easily narrate or animate your videos to add more emotion or pizzaz. Use emotion, drama or humor to draw in your audience and keep them engaged.

Popular with Lazy Buyers

Today, your business will engage with many lazy buyers. Such buyers are a difficult lot to market to without videos. They are not interested in your long-form content, they want to know quickly and easily how your product or service can solve their problems. Video allows them to listen or watch while they are multi-tasking. Additionally, video gives them a deeper glimpse into your businesses without needing to visit your about us page, removing another click in their buyers’ journey.

Vidoe Marketing For Small Businesses = Conversions & ROI

If you have small businesses or any business for that matter, video can work for you. Using a mix of written and video content, you will surely attract more customers and do so in the way they feel the most comfortable engaging with your brand. There really isn’t a down-side to video marketing. Video marketing is affordable, easy to produce and has outstanding ROI. 

Nicole Standish is the President of Charm Digital Media.  As a digital media consultant, Nicole helps businesses attract and convert online business.  Nicole evaluates existing digital resources and strategies; develops campaigns to reach targeted audiences, and optimizes marketing channels to reach and exceed sales goals. Follow Charm Digital Media on Facebook at Charm Digital Media and Twitter at @CharmThem

Interested in learning more about video marketing? Comment on this post or subscribe to our digital marketing blog – The Content Catch Up! 

 

Tribe it Up

The other day I had lunch with my friend and fellow entrepreneur. We spoke candidly about some of the challenges in our respective businesses, and as we were getting ready to leave the restaurant she said to me, “I’m so relieved that I’m not the only one who goes through this stuff.”

That statement struck a cord with me because so often as entrepreneurs and small business owners we do feel like we have to figure everything out on our own, and that can be a very lonely position to take. The truth of the matter is, we have more in common than we realize. Even though we may be running businesses in different industries with our own very specific challenges, on a slightly higher level we are all the same.

We face issues and questions around cash flow, sales, employee recruitment and retention. We have to pay attention to marketing, advertising, culture and reputation. As our companies grow we most likely have a team in place to assist with many of these items, but ultimately, as a small business owner, the buck does stop with us.

But that doesn’t mean we have to go it alone.

Taking the time to intentionally seek out and build a support network for yourself is, I believe, key for the success of a business. At a minimum you may want to consider hiring a business coach or a mentor, but beyond that setting up a “mastermind” group of trusted peers will help you to keep challenges – and successes – in perspective.

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.

Let’s Celebrate!

What do you celebrate in your business? Is it reaching a sales goal or locking in a promotion? Winning an account or delivering a great pitch that your client loved? Is it a certain number of years in business or a new and greater number in your bank account?

People celebrate all kinds of milestones and achievements, but if you’re like most of us you don’t do it often enough. When we achieve any kind of goal most of us don’t even take the time to acknowledge it, much less sit back and rest on our laurels. More often than not, we just keep moving forward, continually resetting the goal posts higher and higher.

And, really, there is nothing wrong with that strategy, for that tendency to constantly push ourselves to reach higher and do better is how we grow. But I’d like to suggest that equally as valuable is the act of pausing for a moment to recognize the small victories. Taking a moment to reflect on where you started and how far you’ve come is a great habit to get into.  When you adopt this practice of celebration it can help keep you moving forward when the going gets tough, because you’ll be better able to remember your successes, victories and achievements along the way. And, if you’ve had celebrations in the past, why not also in the future?

That is easy enough to understand, but here’s the part that most people don’t realize: you don’t just have to celebrate victories.

What if you also learned to appreciate your failures? How would things change for you if, instead of berating yourself when things don’t go the way you planned, you chose to stop and honor the lessons learned during the experience? What if, instead of getting angry and upset with those who have wronged you, you instead practice showering that person with love, light and even gratitude?

The thing that happens when you do this, is you shift the energy and rid yourself of negative connotations that you may be associating with a so-called failure. Start seeing these failures as valuable lessons and stepping stones and suddenly everything gets a little easier. You may find that you’re less afraid of missteps along the way when you remove the aspect of judgment from them, and that newfound boldness may lead you to victories and green pastures that you’d only dreamed of previously.

So, go ahead and celebrate the good and the bad. Every step along your journey really does move you just that little bit closer to your goal, and that truly is something that’s worth popping the champagne cork for.

 

 

Elin Barton is the President of White Knight Productions and the host of the podcast, Ready, Set, Grit.  Her first book, Ready, Set, Grit: How to Turn Your Daydream Into a Phenomenal Success, will be released in the Fall of 2017.

The Essence of Business? It’s the People.

Small business people  understand that cash flow, policies, and the company’s focus are all directly tied to actual people. Larger companies, however, seem to often forget this fact.

“I’m just a paper pusher.”

“I have to keep my team efficient and make our numbers.”

“Our bottom line is better this year so management is happy.”

In thinking about business, work and careers it’s easy to narrowly focus on your role, responsibilities and metrics for success. This tendency may be amplified if you work for a government agency or large company.

And yes, those metrics are important, but what if you start thinking about your job in broader terms – in terms of the lives of people that you (yes, you) are directly affecting?

Business is ultimately about people. Not just the people at the top. Not only the owners, CEO’s, presidents and the folks with the corner offices. Not just the people who work at a particular company. It’s about all of those people, of course, but in reality is about much more than that.

This “ripple effect” is far-reaching and it’s both real and important.

The often forgotten mass of those affected by the actions of the employees of “Comany A” are people who work for and with companies that do business with the main company. Too often I’ve seen representatives of large organizations adopting a lackadaisical attitude when it comes to processing invoices or approving purchase orders. Taking weeks or months to get that paperwork through might not seem like a big deal to the state employee or to the corporate VP. After all, their paychecks are probably not directly affected by this. But the fact is, to the little guy – the one feeling the ripple down effect – those actions might make the difference between being able to afford groceries or not.

The consequences of our actions are not always immediately apparent to us but that doesn’t mean they aren’t real, both in life and in business. Even seemingly mundane tasks can make a big difference in someone else’s life. Yes, all of the business metrics are important and we have to fill out reports and other paperwork, but ultimately it’s the people who matter. Real people with real lives. It matters that invoices are processed quickly. It matters that lab results are reported correctly.

It matters that someone does their job right the first time, not just to please your boss but because somewhere down the line you’re touching someone else’s life. And what could be more important than that?