Archive for July, 2014

August Writing Journey: Non-Fiction Book Proposal

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I’ve made the commitment to finish writing my book proposal and two sample chapters by August 31. Want to come along on the journey with me?

Every Friday during the month of August, I’ll be taking the entire day to research and write my book proposal. That’s 40 hours of work — 40 hours of work that I’ve been procrastinating on since earlier this year! ūüôā

So I’m committing now to myself (and you!) to get this puppy done. Each week I’ll write about the section of the book proposal I’m working on, what decisions I’m making, where I’m getting stuck, and what resources I’m using. I hope you find this “insiders view” helpful, especially if you’re writing your own book proposal.

And for those of you who have written a non-fiction book proposal, I hope you’ll chime into the conversation with your own pearls of wisdom. ūüėČ

Writing Journey, anyone?

I’ll be posting my progress reports on Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+, so whichever service you prefer, you’ll find the notes there!

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning, Managing Projects, Tasks & Time

Kauffman Entrepreneurial Index

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You’ll want to read this great report, The Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, by Robert W. Fairlie (in PDF format). It was published in April of 2014, and¬†includes research into entreprenuerial business-creation trends like:

  • There was a¬†drop in the rate of business creation since its heights during the Great Recession. In fact, the current level of business creation mirrors the level found in 2006.
  • There are approximately 476,000 new business created each month in the USA.
  • Entrepreneurial activity is highest in the western portion of the country, with San Francisco leading the pack.
  • Rates of growth are highest in the construction and services¬†industries.

This report is easy-to-read and decipher and is helpful for any small business owner to see the trends for the past few years.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Tweaking the Steps Along Your eCommerce Sales Path

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ecommerce pathDo you sell products and services via the Internet? Do you get the results you want?

If you don’t get the results you want, it’s helpful to re-visit each step of your “sales path” to¬†see where tweaks can be made.

Do a little marketing detective work

For instance, let’s say your sales path starts with an email broadcast, which directs the reader to your website. Here are the different statistics you will want to analyze to see what’s working and what’s not.

  1. Open Rate: Open rates, on average, hover around 20-30%, and in some industries they go as low as 13%. (See Mail Chimp’s Open Rate by Industry table. Here’s Constant Contact’s version of the Open Rate by Industry.)¬† If your statistics show that 20% are opening the email, that equates to a real open rate of 40%. We know this because only half of all email users will open their email with the graphics turned on, which sends a “beacon” back to the email server to say “This person opened an email.” If they don’t have their graphics turned on when reading emails, then they won’t show up in your Open Rate.
  2. Check Click-through Rates: Just because someone opens an email doesn’t mean they read it. One way to calculate whether people are actually reading your emails is click-through rate (CTR). CTR is the percent of people who clicked on a link in your email which took them to your website. You can you get this statistic either from your email company or from your website statistics. Here’s Mail Chimp’s chart showing click-through rates, and here’s Constant Contact’s benchmarks for click-through rates.) There are a lot of opinions, pro and con, for whether you should put links in your emails or simply put the full text in your emails. Read more about that here in my blog post “Include Full Articles or Only Links?”.
  3. Check Your Website Statistics: Once they click through from the email to the page where you are making your offer, how long are they staying there? This number helps to guide you as to whether they’re actually reading the web page text or not. If your web page is too long, poorly written, or doesn’t clearly explain what you’re offering, people may be turned off. Or perhaps the text isn’t formatted in a way that’s conducive to reading. If they’re not staying long enough on the page to read it, it’s time to re-write the page. HINT: to determine how long it really takes to read the entire page, read it out loud to yourself. That will slow you down so that you read every single word as if it were the first time you’d seen the page.
  4. Bounce Rate: If they read the website text, does it answer all their questions? If not, they may click away and never return. Check your bounce rate. Bounce rate is expressed as a percentage of the people who visit one page of your site, then leave immediately without looking at other pages on your site. Google says the average bounce rate is between 40-60%. If your bounce rate for your page is less than 40%, you’re doing great! If it’s over 60%, you need to tweak that page.
  5. Call To Action. What are you asking people to do once they read your page? A strong call to action matters.¬† Let’s say you’re selling a class. Should the call to action be “buy now?” Maybe it would be better as “register now” or “click here to register.”
  6. Sales Rate: Did they buy? Which payment option did they use?

Which sources give you the best results?

Every step along the sales path is an opportunity to tweak your technique. Your ecommerce path might start with web traffic from a search engine (so good SEO is important) or it might start with online referrals from other sites. Perhaps you’re sending traffic to your site from social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Check each of these “sources” in your website statistics to see which ones yield the best results. To do that, first go to the Landing Pages section of Google Analytics. You’ll find it under the Behavior section of the menu.

landing pages

Then use a very cool feature of Google Analytics, the “Secondary Dimension,” which allows you to select a page you want to focus on and drill down to each source of traffic to that page and how they did individually. To do this:

  1. In the Landing pages table, click on the URL of the page you want to study. This will bring up statistics only for that page and help you drill down to get specifics for that page.
  2. Above the “Page” column, you’ll see a button that says “Secondary Dimension.” Click on that, and a drop-down menu will appear of all the different statistics you can get about that page.
  3. Select “Acquisition” then “Source.” This will show you all the sources of traffic to this specific page. Check the Time on Page and Bounce Rate for each source, to see which on yields the best results.

source

NOTE: The source that says “(direct)” simply means that people came directly to this page without going through an additional website. These are the people who click-through from your email campaigns. If people are reading their email in a browser-based email system, like Gmail or Yahoo Mail, the source might say Google or Yahoo.

Once you find the right combination of the steps above that brings the best results, you then repeat that over and over again.

By the way,¬† I recommend you use Google Analytics, if you are not already using it. It’s free and it gives you a ton of good information about how your marketing campaigns are doing.

Do You Find These “How-To” Types of Posts Helpful?

Let me know¬†if you find this helpful and if you’d like to see more of these step-by-step “how-to” types of posts!

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Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing
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9 Tips for Summer Business Cleanup and Planning

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Many businesses slow down in July and August, so summertime is a great time¬†to get reorganized for autumn. September always reminds me of “back to school season,” the beginning of a new year.

While there are always plenty of tasks for organizing your office, remember to focus on your upcoming marketing campaigns and projects so that you don’t get that overwhelmed feeling come September and October.

Here are nine great tips for getting ready for September’s busy season this summer.

  1. Enter all revenue and expenses into your record-keeping system. If you don’t have a record-keeping system for your business finances, create one. You can use Quick Books or Quicken Home & Business to keep your records in tip-top shape, and get great reports to measure your financial success and the growth of your business.
  2. Reconcile your bank account records with bank statements. I don’t know anyone who really loves to reconcile bank statements, but as a business owner you have a responsibility to know where every penny enters and exits your business. Just the other day, while reconciling my bank statements, I noticed a $745 deposit that never showed up in my business checking account!
  3. Estimate your tax payment for the current year; typically you’ll have one more estimated tax payment to make in autumn and a final one for this year that’s due in early January of next year. Have a plan for saving money towards your tax payments so that you’re not caught short when the tax man cometh.
  4. Clean out old paper files, emails, and books you never read. Now’s the time to do a clean sweep of your office! You’ll feel so much better without the clutter.
  5. Speaking of books: take a look at your bookshelf and make a note of which books you’d like to read by the end of the year. You can choose them based on a topic you’re interested in studying, or just select them intuitively. If you’ve been wanting to purchase some new books, now’s the time to visit the bookstore or Amazon.com and browse their selection. And don’t forget your local library: why pay for a book that you just want to scan but don’t want to own?
  6. Compare your financial and other goals to your current reality. Are you moving towards your goals? What tasks do you have to do to make sure you complete the goals you’ve set in the time frame you’ve chosen? Make a task list and assign deadlines to even the smallest task, so that you’ll be on target for the year. And why not start day dreaming about your goals and projects for next year?
  7. Organize your desk. Put things that you need often in a logical place and things that you rarely use in a drawer or cabinet.
  8. Figure out a system for keeping track of your To Do list. The biggest anxiety producer that people face is having to keep all their tasks in their head.
  9. Plan next year’s vacation! Hey, why not??

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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Don’t Let Crazy Clients Drain You

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A client told me the other day about a Crazy Client story that just happened to her:

One of her clients emailed her on a Sunday morning. As a courtesy, she emailed the client back on Sunday evening (normally, she doesn’t work weekends).

Her client then complained that she “didn’t get back to her quickly enough!”

I sent MY client this article on How To Say No.

And the problem isn’t just the way¬†clients and customers treat business owners. It’s how people act in your mastermind group, your relationship with vendors, employees, and management. (Shhhh…and it just might be you who is making others crazy! Read on to find out…)

Want to know more about how to deal with crazymakers? Read my in-depth blog posts:

I hope these articles help you. Because you wouldn’t treat a client disrespectfully, you must insist that they treat you with respect…or fire them. There simply is no excuse for bad behavior.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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