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Small Business Resources

6 Quick Tips for Your Growing Business

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Every small business owner dreams big. What starts as a tiny idea and a basement pop-up shop has high hopes for one day becoming a huge factory outputting 10,000 units a day. Or perhaps your home kitchen cupcake shop turns into franchises all over the country. Whatever business you find yourself in, you dream of growth. Big growth. But what happens when that day suddenly approaches? When and how do you take the next big step? Check out these 6 quick tips for your growing business and make sure you don’t become your own stumbling block by rushing and not following your due paces as your business expands.

1. Plan. Don’t Rush. Be Patient. The excitement of growth can cause us to make hasty decisions. When the opportunity to grow appears, we want to leap right there and achieve the dream overnight. If you do not diligently outline your business growth plan and the specific parameters and timeline associated with its completion, you can find yourself spending more money than you have and stuck in poor decisions that sufficed short term but lacked long term vision. Take your time. Discuss every possibility. Communicate and commit to writing your 5, 10 and 15 year goals. Take your time to thoughtfully consider all short and long term implications for any decisions that you make.

2. Manage Your Money. Meet with a Financial Advisor. An extension of Rule #1, it’s time to outline your finances in minute detail. Make sure you have a crystal clear understanding of your finances, including cash flow, debt and the potential short and long term impact of any big money moves. Create a detailed financial plan to achieve your business growth without putting you out of business. The last place you want to be is in a larger facility with more debt and no cash. Take your time to plan and use cash wisely, consider creative ways to invest and fund your prospective growth and have a professional provide insight for all big decisions. You are in business for the long term, you need to manage your money like you believe that.

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3. Utilize Your Resources. A further extension to Rules #1 and #2 is to consult legal counsel. Whether you’re signing a new lease, purchasing a property or remodeling an existing site, be sure to understand the liabilities and legal responsibility those decision entail. Have all contract agreements reviewed in detail and allow your lawyer to manage risk intelligently with your best interests in mind. Excitement can push someone to sign on the dotted line without reading the fine print. Simply put, that can be the kiss of death to any business. Take your time and make sure you, your family, your clients and ultimately, your business are well protected and legally sound.

4. Transition Deliberately. A move of any kind can cause a rupture in communication with your client. Even when the change on the horizon is mutually beneficial, people can oppose change and experience discomfort during the transition. Thoughtfully consider whether your business growth will cause any outages, delays to service or other adjustments to your usual workflow. Communicate with your client base so that they know what to expect and in what time frame. Acknowledge their importance by going above and beyond for any clients who might experience a bit of growing pains along with you. Whether you offer a “thanks for your patience” discount or simply take the time to pick up the phone or take them to lunch, let your clients know that the changes coming will help you to serve them better. Thank them for providing the opportunity for your business to grow.

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5. Stick to the Plan. Hold yourself accountable. Better yet, nominate someone else to hold you accountable. Once you have a detailed written plan of action, stick with it. You made that plan after doing your homework, consulting the pros and seriously considering exactly what future you are moving towards. That plan wasn’t created on a whim…it was purposeful and designed for efficiency, effectiveness and ultimately, long term success. Don’t let your heart get the better of you by straying at a moment’s notice because you’ve just “gotta have it now!” Treat that plan like law. That’s not to say it won’t be tweaked here and there, but the fundamental foundation should remain in tact and you should be committed to staying the course.

6. Celebrate! The fun part! You’re about to accomplish something exceptional! All of that hard work, blood, sweat and tears are finally paying off. It’s an exciting, scary, exhilarating time for you. Take a moment to relish this part of your journey. It’s ok to pat yourself on the back and say “I did it!” Let your client base celebrate with you. You’re extending them new services, better quality, more attention and availability…this business growth is for them! And because of them. Create anticipation for your new grand opening. Set up an open house, share sneak peeks on social media. Help everyone hop on the thrill ride as you take the next professional leap.

If you keep these quick tips to business growth handy and refer back to them throughout your expansion process, you’ll be able to gut check your decisions and intentions. Ask yourself if you’ve fulfilled each point or if you’ve cut corners anywhere and left yourself exposed. Use it as a marker to remind yourself what you committed to when you decided to take the next big step. These quick tips to business growth won’t steer you wrong. Congratulations on a worthy accomplishment! We can’t wait to see you continue to grow in the years to come!

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Small Business Resources

How to Level Up and Embrace Your Future as a Small Business Owner with @Spera_io

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If you’re anything like me, the leap into small business ownership was more like a series of fluttering attempts, a few hiccups and hops, and then a timid jump…when I finally “felt ready.” Truth be told, it took a lot longer than it needed to, in part because of my fear and hesitation, which held me back much longer than it should have. Admittedly, there was also a big gap in my professional presentation as a business owner, which sent mixed messages to my clients, and quite frankly, to me. At some point, I had to face the music, level up as a freelancer and embrace my future as a small business owner. It was time to be the real deal.

What does that mean exactly? Well, first, we’re talking about shift in mindset.

Do you remember when you first stepped out on your own? Maybe you were like me, timidly taking on a private “side job,” which I communicated over email, with no contract or business license. I was just working a quick hustle for some extra cash, which came however they wanted it to, whenever they wanted it to. A check here, cash there, PayPal over here…before the job, during the job, after the job. There was no rhyme or reason, no method to my madness.

Did I make those choices because I was a sloppy copy writer or because I didn’t value my clients or their experience? No. Most of those choices were made because I didn’t value myself. I was “just a freelancer” and didn’t believe that I was capable of wearing the title of “business owner.” So I didn’t take the time or energy to put the systems in place that really allowed me to take ownership of my professional path. Yes, my clients were happy. I was happy. But my growth quickly plateaued. I pigeon holed myself as a side hustle instead of cultivating my reputation as an entrepreneur.

What would I have done differently?

  • Take it seriously. I should have immediately applied for a business license, making sure I had all of the proper certifications in place. My next stop should have been a lawyer, where I would have created top notch contracts that set the standard for relationships grounded in excellence and professionalism.
  • Get organized. I should have clearly defined my products and services, pricing and payment terms. A well-developed workflow with appropriate systems in place would have set expectations on my time and my daily routine, which would have saved me the stress and chaos of trying to meet unrealistic deadlines while phoning it in as a mom.
  • Communicate effectively. Without the appropriate systems in place, my communication with my clients and my team suffered. Projects fell through the cracks, invoices didn’t get paid – in short, I set myself and everyone around me up for failure, because I didn’t have a grasp on the business that was growing with or without my belief in myself as the owner.

How can you avoid making the same mistakes that I did?

Fix it. Today! The buck stops here. The very first thing you need to do is take a good long look at yourself in the mirror and repeat after me. “I am a business owner. This is my business and I am responsible for the decisions that will make or break it. I am capable, talented and driven. It’s time to stop dancing around my fears and make it happen. Go get it done. I can do this.” 

Next step is to tackle the three areas I mentioned above. Where? How? Why?

The great news…we have a whole slew of programs available to choose from when it comes to implementing the procedures, reporting metrics and systems that will help us thrive as entrepreneurs.

The bad news…we have a whole slew of programs available to choose from when it comes to implementing the procedures, reporting metrics and systems that will help us thrive as entrepreneurs.

I want to help you drive towards the most powerful tool that can level up your business with ease, efficiency and most importantly, clarity and purpose as THE owner (that’s you!). Say hello to my friends at Spera!

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It’s time for a list. These are a few of my favorite things!

  • Spera was created by independent contractors for independent contractors. That’s right! They went straight to the source – people just like you! How does it feel when you invest in something only to utilize 10% of it? Bad! Spera took the time to ask the right questions to the right people, and then, they acted on it, developing a platform that has what you need, when you need it, where you need it. How does it feel to invest in something that is 100% designed just for you? It feels pretty darn amazing.
  • Spera is an all-in-one virtual office. And that’s what you need as a business owner. An office! Many small business owners fail to implement the proper systems because they are frustrated by having to hop from tool to tool to tool. That’s like setting up your office but then having to go to the kitchen to grab your invoices, to the bathroom to print your contracts and to the garage to meet your clients. Now, you have one place where you can manage your client experience from start to finish.
    • Functional Task Management – Communicate with your team and your clients, set expectations on your time and make sure projects never fall through the cracks again.
    • Customizable Invoices – Professional invoices that present your expertise and your brand with excellence, letting your clients know that you mean business!
    • Secure Payment Portals – Track incoming payments, pay invoices, send/receive money and give your clients a simple one-click option directly in their invoice. No more chasing checks.
  • Spera offers a FREE complete 30 day trial. That’s right…an all access pass for an entire month. If you’re still hesitant about claiming your power and position as a small business owner, that’s ok. You can ease your way into it and give it a try! Once you access the possibility of life as an organized, professional business owner, you’ll crash through the door of opportunity and wonder…why in the world didn’t I do this sooner?
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Blogging Resources

How to Add Custom Facebook Tabs to your Business Page

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Custom Facebook tabs are a great way to spiff up your business page with touches all your own. In a visual flow format that’s mostly controlled by the social media platform itself, making the most of these tiny advantages and calls-to-action can be pivotal to expanding your reach. Take steps to prompt your audience to actively engage and direct visitors on your business page to your areas of greatest interest (i.e. subscribing or following you on social media). Custom Facebook tabs give you the opportunity to plant a tiny seed of interest by highlighting applications that otherwise tend to be ignored.

Implementing custom Facebook tabs starts with activating the appropriate applications on your business page. Connect your TwitterPinterest and Instagram feeds directly to your business page (Did you know you can set up your Instagram to post directly to your Facebook business page?). Explore your email subscriber tool for Facebook integration. If you’re using LeadPages via WordPress, activate the auto-Facebook tab (amazing!).

Search Facebook for App

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Your next step is to order your Facebook tabs so that your top 3 (the ones you plan to create custom Facebook tabs for) are at the top of the list. You can do so easily by navigating to your business page, clicking “More” on your top tab bar, and then selecting “Manage Tabs.” From there you can drag up or down to order your list and even delete tabs that serve no use for your page.

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Now we are ready to create your custom Facebook tabs. This feature is kind of hidden…which is why most people don’t customize their tabs! The phrase we hear most often when introducing this to our clients is “Wow! I never even knew that existed!” Click on your page Settings and then navigate to Apps, which should show a complete list of the programs you just integrated with your page. Click “Edit Settings” on one of your apps and there it is! You can accomplish two special customizations here. You can change the tab name (i.e. from LeadPages to Free Motivational Planner) and upload a custom tab image. Yay!

The appropriate size for custom Facebook tab images is 111 pixels wide by 74 pixels high.

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Customize your Tab Name AND your Tab

And there you go. You now have custom Facebook tabs that can drive traffic to subscriber portals, other social media profiles and more. Make sure your custom Facebook tabs are in line with your brand style and message. Maybe try a few different styles to see if any convert more than others. Take the opportunity to make the page your own and entice your audience to take the next step by clicking through.

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Small Business Resources

Five Not-so-Obvious Catalysts for Business Growth

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How does your small business generate more sales? Marketing initiatives? Sales incentives? Referrals? Cold calls? All of the above? While each of those tactics play an important role in any business growth model, as a small business owner, there are some other not-so-obvious ways to increase your sales and expand your market. Check out these five catalysts for business growth – creative ways to grow your market presence in your local community and ultimately increase your sales. Don’t overlook the value in stepping outside of your office and into your back yard. As a small business owner, it can be any one of these unique approaches that might ignite the fire that blasts your business into the marketplace.

1. Engage: Join local small business groups. Whether it’s your local Chamber of Commerce or a more casual setting, actively participate in your community by facilitating relationships with like-minded folks. Developing a “tribe” of supporters in your back yard can serve many purposes. They can help spread awareness by word of mouth, offer pointed advice and experiences, and empathize with the struggles of small business. Stay motivated with the help of others and show genuine interest in their endeavors and they’ll be sure to return the favor.

Creative Catalysts for Small Business Growth

2. Research: Pay attention to your local market. What are other business owners doing? Are they successful? Any recent failures that you could learn from? Acknowledging your competition is healthy and can help you gauge where you might be missing the mark. Read local newspapers and business blogs. See how your community reacts to certain strategies by watching and learning from established business owners.

3. Learn: Attend local conferences or seminars. Stay up to date with regional events and explore leadership programs. Any opportunity to hear words of wisdom from those who have gone before you is a sure-fire way to be sure you are always challenging yourself in new ways. You can also make great connections with other attendees. Be sure to follow up on new introductions with a proactive phone call or email. Don’t let the opportunity die when the conference is over.

Creative Catalysts for Small Business Growth

4. Volunteer: Showing value for your community and marketplace by giving back is a wonderful way to establish your presence as a company that cares. Making an effort to serve others instead of selling others shows your client base that you know it’s not “all about you” and you general care and want to meet their needs. Beyond meeting local people in need, other volunteers and the good feeling that comes from helping others, you are developing respect and admiration for yourself and your business.

5. Socialize:  Make an effort to make friends everywhere you go. Whether they are in your target market or not, you never know when a friendship will pay off in a referral or positive recommendation. Develop genuine relationships, be approachable, smile and laugh. If your market consists of business owners who love to kick back and hit the golf course on their free time, make it a point to play a round with new people once a week. Chat people up in the doctor’s office, coffee shop, supermarket. Be happy and share that happiness with others. A social business owner is a successful business owner. Engage people because they are human, not because they are prospects. Wait for them to ask about your business. Treat them with genuine interest and authentic interest.

Creative Catalysts for Small Business Growth

These simple catalysts for business growth often go overlooked, especially in the frenzy of trying to get a business off the ground. Be diligent about setting aside time to slow down and focus outward. After all, your small business isn’t about you. You’re providing some service or meeting some need for someone else. Take the time to look outside your door and engage what’s right in your back yard. Your key to success might be right there and you don’t even know them yet!

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