Categories: Thoughts

I moved to a rural away after my divorce. Never meant for it to be permanent; it was more like a retreat. But I feel in love, with a person and with the incredible landscape.

Two years later my house sits on the side of the Appalachian Trail and when I’m missing NYC, I just take a walk on my property and reacquaint myself with what I traded it in for. Peace. Trees. Space for a few horses one day.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss the architecture, the art or culture. I get jealous sometimes. I scope out co-working spaces like In Good Company and Watercooler. It’s tempting, but part of the dream fulfilled by having my own business is being home with my children and homeschooling them. Can’t do that if I’m commuting to a co-work space, no matter how chic and inspirational.

So I got the nifty idea in my head to build one of those Tiny Houses, but make it a Tiny Office. I’d like it to face my pond (if not be actually in it) and for at least one wall to be floor to ceiling glass for maximum blending with the environment.  I wonder what putting it in a tree would do to our liability insurance policy and would clients be to scare to come up?… I’m curious, what do you think?

Categories: Social Media

We’re a bit odd, hubby and I. Our iPhones are never far from reach (even under our pillows) and being true geeks in every sense of the word, we both could put you to sleep with all the info we absorb daily. But what makes me inseparable from my smartphone are Apps.

Take a peak at the top 9 business apps I use daily; I have them separated into 2 folders:

Filing Cabinet:

  • Dropbox stores all my files and makes them reachable from virtually anything with an Internet connection.
  • Freshbooks let’s me send estimates and invoices on the fly. I use the dashboard to see at a glance the value of pending deals and accounts payable.
  • Shoeboxed scans my receipts and sorts the data into reports and spreadsheets that can be imported to Freshbooks for complete accounting. (Pretty handy if you’re ever get a call from the Tax Man)

Desk:

  • Base is where I manage my pipeline and projects.
  • WordPress app makes sure I can access and add content to my site anywhere. (Say goodbye to writing a really great idea on a napkin and getting back to your desk only to have forgotten or lost it.)
  • Opus Domini- This is a new find because Ive been searching for an app that handles a to do list, syncs with all my other calendars and displays both on a one page view. So far, I like it.
  • Twitter is where I talk the most and connect with my tribe and also the people I want to learn from.
  • Pages+ lets me manage our branded Facebook page. Statuses, messages, photos and even offers, this is an app you cannot miss.
  • Instagram makes social photo sharing fun and easy for anybody. My account is personal, but the multi-platform sharing capabilities allows me to share pics I think will give my internet peeps some insight to me. Occasional photos of my fam or a too-good-to-eat dish (sometimes my kids even steal my phone and post wacky photos.)

If every App were to vanish, these are all I’d need to keep the my business going. Using something better? I’d love to hear it; please share what apps help you play your A-game.

Categories: Networking

Successful lead conversion requires successful relationships and we think successful relationships have all the ingredients that reflect love. Respect, showing interest, sharing interests, investing into each other. We draw these parallels into our business model. Following the Golden Rule of Do Unto Others, we go beyond courtesy to demonstrate that a lasting relationship is really what we value and we implement it from Day 1, the first contact. Take a peak at how our love recipe might look:

Step 1: First Introduction

Ever the gentleman(or lady), we aren’t asking to go home with you. Instead, we simply want to know more about you. What are you interested in? Is there something you are really passionate about? Is there something that if we contributed would benefit you or simply cause you to smile?

Step 2: The Follow Up

You spent some time getting to know us back and we appreciate that. A simply gesture of a thank you note or perhaps a link we thought might interest you shows that we were actually listening and it isn’t all about making a sale.

Step 3: Integrity and Transparency

While we want you to consider our business if appropriate for your needs, the value of our relationship is not determined by a potential contract. If we see an area where we can serve you, you can be sure we’ll offer. However, we’ll never be that person you want to dodge because with any ProfitGeek team member, you’ll find good conversation and ideas abound and there’s no fine print with binding clauses.

Step 4: Lead Conversion

At this point, it’s normally pretty clear if we’re a match. If we are, you can trust that the “Love” will keep on flowing. Through good times and bad, all our team is committed to your experience with us. If it happens that we aren’t the right fit, you won’t find yourself in a “Say Anything” moment with us playing sappy music outside your window. But you also won’t find yourself dumped on the curb either.

These are the actions and traits that will set you apart from your would-be competition and create raving fans. You don’t need to do anything fancy (and I don’t recommend expensive), but go ahead and have fun with it. If you’re ever in doubt, switch perspectives and think what you would appreciate if you were in their shoes.

BONUS TIP

ProfitGeeks like to send cards. Thank you’s, congrats or just because, we’ll find a reason. 😉 Check out our preferred card resource!

 

Categories: Thoughts

I remember during high school my mom asking me what I wanted to do for a career. I told her I wanted to be happy.

Never wanted to be a vet or astronaut. Around age 10 I did have an interest n making a better computer than Bill Gates, but that didn’t stick. I simply was never career oriented and the closest I came to a specialty was majoring in foreign languages and film, neither of which I pursued.

I dropped out of high school out of necessity, but I dropped out of college out of boredom.  Recruited by a Fortune 500 company at age 17, I had only enrolled because of my manager’s prodding, but I didn’t see myself climbing the corporate ladder (I prefer rock climbing).

Those 5 years  of full-time employment were sprinkled with other jobs, anywhere from 2-3 at a time. I struggled to stay focused and motivated.

I decided I needed to pursue something I was more passionate about and got certified as a personal trainer. It was right up my alley and I quickly rose to a management position with a staff of 6 for a local franchise. It was in this position that I realized I actually LOVE business. Marketing campaigns, project management,  system operations; I was in business geek heaven.

As fate and divorce would have it, I had to walk away from what I thought was my dream job.  21, unemployed, divorced, and single mom of 2 boys. I was pissed, but pulled myself together enough to get another job, only to be laid off  6 months later because of the “tanked economy.”

And that’s when I’d had it. Something in me just refused to apply for another job again.

Rick and I had worked for the same company and he was laid off 3 weeks after me. We had always been friendly at work, but it wasn’t until after that we started to get to know each other better.

It was around this time that we had a conversation that changed the course of my life. I still remember it vividly: Rick had mentioned freelancing and sensing an opportunity, I literally whipped my head around and said “Well then why are you looking for a job?! We’ll just start a business.

For me, it was “DUH!” moment. Here was the opportunity I was waiting for, to pursue what I enjoyed with the flexibility to be there for my young children at a time when they needed me most. Rick looked at me like I had 3 heads but I looked at him thinking, “Oh this is going to be AWESOME!”

Using his old DBA as a platform, I got to work on landing our first contracts. Less than a year later, we incorporated, were running payroll  and had a part-time support member. We started self-funded, but this past year a micro-loan with Accion, through Kiva, enabled us to rebrand as PROFITGEEKS.

What I love about what I do is that not only do I spend my days implementing my ideas for my own business, but I get to share them with our clients..I have a strong interest in how businesses operate. I’m fascinated by how they tick. Each client brings a new perspective into an industry and an opportunity to observe and discover successful marketing activities.

Having a successful business creates massive transformation in your life; I’ve experienced this first-hand. Being able to pass that on, that’s the source of my inspiration that had previously been missing.

Categories: Thoughts

You ever set a goal for yourself and then come up short?

This week I signed up for a 10K run to raise money for a children’s home and a two day medical clinic in Africa. The run is in just 4 weeks and last night was the first chance I’ve had to start training. I ran just over 3 miles. I was not happy. According to Running magizine’s training program, I had to run 4-5 miles.

2 miles in pain flares up in my left knee. No sweat, I’ll just run gently through it. Just needs to warm up, I tell myself. You see, when I set a goal I go Yoda style, “Do or do not. There is no try.” I take anything less than hitting my goal as failure. (Stick with me here, this does relate to your business.)

So here I am running, 7pm, it’s dark out with no moonlight, my knee is burning and I won’t stop. I can’t stop, right? This has to work. I’m young and able. I have a history in fitess so I know what I’m doing, how far is too far.  But at 3 miles the pain is still intense and I become aware that my “determination” is not serving me in this situation and if anything, it is just showing me some deep stuff I need to work on.

And I thought of you. How many other entrepreneurs sabatoge their success doing something that is painful because they have to hit that goal and they know best? Maybe that pain looks like your relationship with your partner suffering. Maybe it’s your kids fed up with you saying “5 more minutes.” Maybe it’s your physical body screaming “I need rest, will you quit already!”

I’ve heard Suzanne Evans say many times, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” Let that sit a while and I’ll leave you with this thought: What is causing you pain in your business and are you willing to try another approach?

Categories: Thoughts

Yesterday morning I exchanged tweets with a new acquaintance who was delighting in the freedom his business gives him to pursue his passions. I was having a not so stress-free morning, but instead of focusing on the negative, I turned my attention to how my business was serving me in the family issues I had to handle.

Often life can feel like it’s beating us on the head and we reach the point where we look at the ceiling and yell at no one in particular “I can’t do this any more!” Running a business carries a lot of responsibility and in our darkest moments we might get caught thinking if we just had a J.O.B….

The truth is ( and if you disagree, please share) that you benefit from your business not just in financial or personal gains, but in the down and out times. When you or your child is sick, no more stressing if this will be the last straw for your boss. From family emergencies to plain old “mental health” days, you can now make that call without fear and anxiety because you are in control.

If you structure your business in such a way that your processes are organized, you have support from your team/family and you have a smartphone with access to email, social media, and website/blog than you are set. You literally can handle anything that comes your way without panicking. Need to respond to a client email? No problem.  Post your blog on the run? No sweat.

The real icing on the cake is that when the bumps in the road come and you handle them with grace, then you can turn your attention to making the best of the situation.

Categories: Thoughts

Last  week, I had the pleasure of attending a Memory Training Workshop of my client and friend, Craig Krause of Direct Development Training. I had jest that if I could remember even 1 thing (he boasts being able to have you recall a list of 50!) it would be a miracle.  Low and behold, yours truly can do just that.  I’m sure you’re nodding your head saying how you sure could use this to help with your sales presentations etc.

We often can be heard saying how terrible our memories are. But there is something uncomfortable about actually being on the spot and quite frankly, feeling like an idiot. The workshop warmed up with a list of 20 items that was rambled off orally that we then had to write the list in correct order from memory. The results in the room were 4 correct or less.

So what does this look in your business? Have you ever been at a business function meeting people and had to ask them to repeat their names throughout the evening, or even worse, told them point blank that you wouldn’t remember? Maybe you can claim not having done this, but I’ve been around the block enough to have heard it said plenty. And in the moment of smiling, nervous laughter and shaking hands, I think it doesn’t occur to us how awful that really sounds.

While it’s so common that it might actually be overlooked, picture this scenario instead:

You’re at a conference and you walk up to a woman who was sitting a few seats over from you. You ask her what was her biggest takeaway and after she shares, you introduce yourself and she says her name is Jill. You repeat back “Jill? Pleasure to meet you Jill” Meanwhile you create a picture image in your mind to associate with her. (I’d picture Jack and Jill went up the hill…) You wrap up the conversation confirming a phone follow up saying “I look forward to continuing this conversation Jill…” and if you see her while you head out later in the evening, you can even throw in “Have a good evening Jill.”

Can you feel the difference? Who do you think Jill will remember from the event? You, the person with confidence who remembered her name;  while it might seem ordinary, it probably made her feel just a bit more special. Isn’t that how you want to leave potential clients or business partners feeling and thinking about you? You bet!

Of course the application doesn’t end there. Speak with confidence and close multiple sales in one presentation. Ensure confidence and personalization with each client as you recall their name and little details that they share with you. The possibilities are endless. They’re also pretty profitable. 😉

-E

Join the conversation on our facebook page or visit Craig’s website to find dates for upcoming workshops.

Categories: Thoughts

I just had to warn you about something I just didn’t believe people in my industry did, until I encountered it first hand. First, let me say that I am not a lawyer and what I’m sharing is strictly opinion and not legal advice.

That said, here’s something you need to be aware of in your contract with a web developer or designer. Every contract is different, but when you hire either of the above professional to produce work for you in the form of script or design,  you are not just paying for their service but you are paying for a unique created piece specific for your business.

Graphic design borders a fine line on tangible or not. When it’s on the web, you can see it, but it isn’t something that can be held. Technically, on printed materials like business cards, it does become tangible. In either case, it is a design element that you paid to be created for you and your business, thus making it your property.

In most contracts we’ve seen, and in our own agency, we maintain the rights to all script and design until the project is completed and paid for. When these terms are met, we relinquish all rights to unique elements produced for the client and provide them with all original art files (In Design, Photoshop etc.)

Here’s why this matters. If a designer does not give you the original art work, several problems can happen down the line.

  • They may claim rights to the art, which limits your use or puts you in an intellectual property legal battle.
  • When you need to make changes to the design or expand in another area, you will be forced to use the same designer even if you prefer not to OR you will incur additional expenses to hire another professional to try and recreate the art work.

Simply put in my humble opinion, is that if you pay for a unique creation, it belongs to you and you should have full possession of it and access to it. You wouldn’t hire a culinary consultant to help you create a signature cake for your restaurant only to have them refuse to give you the recipe and insist on delivering cakes to you on demand. That’s ridiculous.

Don’t let the fuzziness of digital property allow someone to contract you out of what is rightfully yours. For maximum security, consult with your attorney.

Unsure or have questions? Ask a PROFITGEEK, we’re happy to help!

Categories: Time management

Today I’ve got an awesome tech find for you. If I asked you how many deals you had in your pipeline and how much money was represented, would you know the answer or be able to get it quickly? Let’s be honest. Entrepreneurs are sticky-note, notepad, even napkin users when it come to note-taking. And while that can suit alright for brainstorming, it’s pretty ineffective for tracking sales(the lifeline of your business!)

Searching for notes across various mediums is poor time management, but it’s also frazzling and stressful. Not the mindset you want to be in when hitting the phones. To be organized, calm, prepared and closing sales consistently you need to always know who your prospects are, pending deals and their status and next required action.

So here’s what I have for you… Base.

This simple web and mobile app is all you need to manage contacts, the stages of leads/sales and the deal/project once it’s closed. With mobile apps for both iPhone and Android, you can access the above data anytime and when you’re at your desktop, everything is synced and ready to go. Everything about Base is simple and streamlined:

  • Manage Contacts
  • Manage Pipeline at a glance
  • Manage Deals
  • Dedicated Client Space (great for eliminating inbox scavenger hunt)

I’ll let you check out all the features yourself. Enjoy!

Erica

PS. Neither myself nor our company receives compensation for recommending Base.
By the way, they have a free plan.

Categories: Thoughts

I’m going to be vulnerable here and share what I initially deemed as a failure.

Earlier this week, as a follow up to our new brand launch, we announced a special contest to acknowledge you, our readers, for your business accomplishments and efforts to be not just a sustainable company, but a “socially” responsible one too.

That’s how many entries there were. 0. It’s kind of scary to admit, but there is a liberating element here. Because it’s only if I admit that there was no response, that I can ask you “why not?” And I’m very curious. Don’t look now, but this email was sent before 6am and no that isn’t due to a fancy pre-schedule email auto-send. I’m actually up writing this  because I’ve been up since 3am puzzling over it. Why am I sharing all this? I want you to see that I care.

In marketing jargon, you are “my list.” But to me you are person I have personally connected with or maybe you found me online, but you decided you wanted to hear what I have to say. I respect and appreciate that trust and interest. That’s what drives me to not just deliver great content, but to engage with you further. So when you don’t engage…well you get 5am rants like this. 🙂

Jokes aside, the average “open rate” for email marketing campaigns runs in the high teens. Our open rate average is 27%, which is considered high and successful, especially in the web and marketing industry. So here’s what I can deduce: You look forward to and enjoy your weekly PG Insider. What I’m hoping you’ll be willing to share, is why you’re hesitant to engage more.

As I try to get some shut eye before the baby wakes up, I’ll leave you with some thoughts on why I think engaging will benefit your business.

  • engaging on our social media conversations will increase your online presence
  • you can network with other business owners and create new relationships (leading to new business or partnerships)
  • participating in social media conversations allows you to communicate your story and/or unique selling point
  • any kind of writing for your business is good practice
  • sharing your stories, feedback and needs helps us to better serve you

Give it a shot!

-Erica