Category Archive: Growing Your Business

Shows about the topic of growing your business

Jul 24 2013

It Pays to Ask the Right Questions

pjlogo2I’m in a band with my husband and three friends. We’re a newer band but we’ve grown into serious musicians with a high level of work ethic. We started playing outside the garage sixteen months ago.

We’ve learned a lot in the last year — things like working as a team, building a following (because most bars aren’t really hiring a band; they are hiring a crowd), and choosing the right songs. Playing out has given us great insights. Our band’s brand and playlist are well-defined and we like each other. No unnecessary drama; just rock and roll.

A Band is Like a Typical Business

You know how it is. When your business is new, you are just dying to get a customer — any customer. You take anything that remotely fits just to get some revenue coming in. And truthfully in the beginning, you don’t really have a good idea of who the best type of customer for you is. It’s a learning process. It takes time to gain that gut instinct that tells you “This is the right one” or “Run!”

Our band is finally starting to really connect with our gut instinct. We’ve filled our calendar with appearances at any place that would give us a chance. We’ve played a good number of venues and events. With just six weekends left to book for this year, we can start to be choosy.

Aha!

One of the most important lessons that gelled for me this last weekend was one I learned many years ago in my business: it pays to ask the right questions.

Here’s what drove the lesson home for me. We returned to play at a bar this last weekend that was one of our first gigs. It was a tough experience the first time, mostly because we were new to everything: the setup of the venue, most of our songs, the need to make sure you get paid before you walk out at the end of the night, and bar manager expectations.

The bar manager voiced her disappointment that we didn’t have many of our own following at that first gig. Remember that I said a bar isn’t hiring a band, they are hiring a following. Since that is important to have a following, we waited for a year to go back.

The thing to remember about a following is that there are different reasons people come out to see your band. Some wait for an appearance at a venue close to them. Some won’t go to a smoky bar. Some have prior commitments on the nights you play. Some only come to an early show. . This isn’t something you have to worry about when you play a private party.

I haven’t figured out what that ideal follower number is where we can schedule a show and count on thirty or more people to come to our show just to see us. I’m sure there is a tipping point too where suddenly you start racking up the followers. I’m looking forward to that day for sure.

Since we are still building that coveted following, we’ve worked to put more money on a bar owner’s bottom line in other ways. These are especially beneficial for a bar that has an established customer base:

  • Making sure the servers are well-tipped
  • Letting customers know about upcoming bands and events
  • Keeping customers in the bar longer and talking about specials, thus increasing bar sales
  • Putting on a great show with short breaks so people stay in the bar longer.

Fast Forward a Year

The bar manager has hired us back. We are booked for two dates but she tells us that we better have a following if we’re going to get the second date. Last weekend was the first date.

We did a great show. We were prepared. We promoted the show heavily to our following. We had a successful setup. We had great comments and interaction from the customers. The customers stayed for two or more sets. We reminded customers about upcoming bands and events at the bar. The servers had a stellar night for tips too. Most of those results usually mean more bottom line revenue, but I don’t know those final numbers.

I checked in with the bar manager later in the evening to see how she thought things were going. She wanted to know where our following was. Didn’t we have one? She could only see four people who were not her regular customers. I knew we had a few more people say they were coming who didn’t. That was typical. And frankly, I expected her to have a few more customers of her own too.

I’ve had a lot of tough experiences
because I didn’t ask the right questions.
I’ve also felt some temporary angst
when I turned something away,
especially at a time when
I really needed the work.

After I asked some questions, I realized that her only success objective was whether new customers came into her bar. She measured nothing else. She expected us to bring in enough new people to clear our fee in $5 cover charges because her regulars weren’t enough to do that. Needless to say, we didn’t meet her expectations.

We regard our relationships with our bar managers as a mutually beneficial business arrangement. I’ve done a good job of asking questions about how things went at the end of the night. However, my husband handles most of our booking. He’s the initial point of contact for our venues and event planners. His questions involve fees, dates, and times.

He’s never asked about their objectives, but I bet he will from now on. We knew that she expected a following. If he had asked enough questions, we would have realized that she expected to pay our fee with the revenue from cover charges. We would have known that our typical five to ten followers were not going to make up for her lack of regular customers.

If we had asked what bands normally bring the most people, we would have realized that she has a far bigger regular crowd with a country band. We should have asked what she planned to do to promote our appearance. We would have discovered she wouldn’t do anything. With these important details, we could determine that we would fail to meet her objectives. In essence, we weren’t a fit for her establishment and should have turned down the invitation to play.

The last thing we want is an unhappy customer. We offered to release the next date with her so she can bring in another band whose following is likely to come to her bar. She accepted our offer. There’s a month so hopefully we fill our open date with a bar that is a better fit. She has a good chance at finding another band. We’ve already turned down several offers for that weekend in past months because we were booked. Unfortunately, there are far more great bands than bars here. I’m not certain that we’ll fill the date unless another band cancels at a venue we normally play.

Questions Should Help You Determine if This is the Right Relationship

My business is ten years old this month. I learned to ask the right questions in the first few years. The answers I received when I asked the right questions told me about client objectives and whether I could meet them. I learned what I needed to make on a job to pay the bills and make it worth my time. I also learned how to change unrealistic expectations if possible. If not, I learned how to decline politely or refer them to someone who was a better fit.

I’ve had a lot of tough experiences because I didn’t ask the right questions. I’ve also had some temporary angst when I turned something away, especially at a time when I really needed the work. But time after time, customers either came back with realistic expectations or I was approached by a suitable customer that I could serve well. Lesson learned then. Lesson learned now with the band.

About Carrie

carrie-perrien-smith-12

Carrie Perrien Smith MBA is a training, communication, and publishing industry veteran. Since running screaming from her corporate training and communications career over eleven years ago, she’s not only become a speaker but runs a professional speaker bureau and a publishing company that primarily serves the needs of speakers who write and writers who speak. She is also the host of Business: Engaged! radio show for business owners on Blogtalkradio. Her most recent book is called Currency: Striking Networking Gold in a Relationship Economy. If her free time, she is a community activist, home improvement junkie, and singer in a party band called Paper Jam. You can learn more about Carrie and her company, Soar with Eagles at www.soarhigher.com.

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/it-pays-to-ask-the-right-questions/

Apr 10 2013

Accelerating Tech Startups with the ARK Challenge

jeannette-balleza

ARK Startup Accelerator Challenge director Jeannette Balleza joins Business: Engaged! host Carrie Perrien Smith. They talk about how this mentorship-driven business accelerator program is launching technology startups.

Today’s technology has opened up an almost-unlimited number of startup possibilities. The internet allows us to work anywhere and do business with almost anyone. That is why tech startups are providing options that we never dreamed possible 20 years ago. And tech startups are creating new economic drivers that are shaping the future of business communities around the world.

In this episode of Business: Engaged!, we welcome Jeannette Balleza. She is the director of The ARK Startup Accelerator Challenge. The program debuted in 2012 and is now selecting their next set of tech startups to lead through this three-month journey.

Based in Northwest Arkansas, the most recent ARK Challenge has drawn over 80 applications from 14 states and 14 countries. They will select just 10 companies for this program that offers each one $20,000 in seed money, free office space during the program, access to over 50 mentors, and the chance to present their idea to investors at the end of the program. It is a dream-come-true for entrepreneurs who have grown accustomed to creating these startups on a shoestring budget using a laptop in a coffee shop.

You can follow Jeannette on Twitter at @netscribe or click here to learn more about Jeannette’s company.

You can follow the ARK Challenge on Twitter at @ARKChallenge, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/arkchallenge  or visit their website at http://www.arkchallenge.com/.

And I’m taking you with me on my journey to write my next book. I’ll share my process for writing the book and give you updates on my progress. This week, I talk about getting your topics organized using mind-mapping. If you want to catch the previous episode where I talked about setting goals and planning for book writing time, click here.

Episode airs Friday, April 12 at 10:00 a.m. CST.

Click on the player below to listen to this episode.*

Click here to listen to other episodes of Business: Engaged!

* If the show stops playing while you are listening, consider clicking on the Play in Your Default Player link under the audio window.

Listen to internet radio with Business Engaged on BlogTalkRadio

Click here to check out past episodes. You can follow the show on Twitter at @businessengaged too. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page so you’ll find out when the next show airs. Click here to go there. We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

 

Episode 44

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/accelerating-tech-startups/

Mar 12 2013

Creating Fans of Your Brand

ted-rubin

Learn how to create a lasting and profitable connection with your customers and prospects using today’s social media tools. Host Carrie Perrien Smith welcomes Ted Rubin, co-author of Return on Relationship to Business: Engaged!

How is your relationship with your customers and prospects? Do you know what they are saying about you? Do today’s digital media users find you easy to connect with? Is your investment in your company’s social media really paying off?

After this episode of Business: Engaged!, you’ll never look at your company’s social media presence the same again. We are talking with Ted Rubin, co-author of Return on Relationship and Chief Social Media Officer for Collective Bias, a social shopper media company.

Ted is going to share what he’s learned working in the field of social media marketing. Most important, he is sharing the principles you need to know to connect to your customers in a meaningful way and create fans for your company’s brand. In his industry, they are called brand evangelists and advocates. And you’ll also learn more about brand influencers and ambassadors.

Click here to learn more about Ted Rubin. You can also follow him on Twitter at @tedrubin. In fact, you can find him on all the major social media sites.

Click here to see what the buzz is all about with Ted’s new book Return on Relationship

Click here to learn more about Collective Bias.

I also found some precious planning time this week and I’m going to share how I approached that an announce my new book writing project.

Episode airs Friday, March 15 at 9:30 a.m. CST.

Click on the player below to listen to this episode.*

Click here to listen to other episodes of Business: Engaged!

* If the show stops playing while you are listening, consider clicking on the Play in Your Default Player link under the audio window.

Listen to internet radio with Business Engaged on BlogTalkRadio

your-partner-in-success-radioI’m also doing a radio show interview on Your Partner in Success Radio with Denise Griffitts on March 15 at 11:00 am CST. We’ll be talking about creating a brand. Click here to listen to the show’s episode anytime.

Click here to check out past episodes. You can follow the show on Twitter at @businessengaged too. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page so you’ll find out when the next show airs. Click here to go there. We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

* If the show stops playing while you are listening, consider clicking on the Play in Your Default Player link under the audio window.

Episode 41

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/creating-fans-of-your-brand/

Feb 06 2013

Is It Time for a Virtual Assistant?

denise-griffitts

It is time you retained a virtual assistant? Virtual assistance industry expert Denise Griffitts joins host Carrie Perrien Smith on Business: Engaged! She’ll talk about how VAs assist clients and even share insights for aspiring VAs.

Sometimes a business owner needs a little help but can’t justify the expense of an extra employee. Other times, he might need some specialized help that he can’t get locally. Today, many business owners are turning to the services of a virtual assistant. And as the industry is evolving, VAs who offer more extensive services are becoming known as online business managers or OBMs.In this episode of Business: Engaged!, we talk with Denise Griffitts. She is a nationally recognized virtual assistance industry expert, online business manager (OBM), thought leader, coach and mentor. She is the founder and CEO of Your Office On The Web and Your Virtual Assistant. She’ll talk about what a virtual assistant can do for you and how to find one. She’ll even share insights for those who might want to become virtual assistants.

Click here to learn more about Denise Griffitts’ company.

Click here to listen to Denise’s Your Partner in SuccessTM radio show on Blogtalkradio.com.

And who hasn’t burned a bag of microwave popcorn at the office? I exploded a bag in our microwave, and what I was left with was a smelly, yellow microwave. I’ll share how I got rid of the smell.

Episode airs Saturday, February 9 at 9:00 a.m. CST. Click here to listen to this episode.*

Click here to check out past episodes. You can follow the show on Twitter at @businessengaged too. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page so you’ll find out when the next show airs. Click here to go there. We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

* If the show stops playing while you are listening, consider clicking on the Play in Your Default Player link under the audio window.

Episode 37

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/is-it-time-for-a-virtual-assistant/

Oct 22 2012

Tapping the Business Uses of LinkedIn

Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps joins Carrie Perrien Smith on Business: Engaged! to share tips for using LinkedIn for business development.

You probably have a LinkedIn profile but you might know how powerful it is as a business tool. On this episode of Business: Engaged! we talk with Michael Phelps of In-Direct Information. He’s an expert on using LinkedIn to its fullest capacity for prospecting, relationship building, and job searching.

We also feature Courthouse Concepts on our product and service spotlight. You’ll learn more about their pre-employment screen services.

And you won’t want to miss my eleventh update on my city council campaign in Rogers, Arkansas. This week’s update is about out-preparing the competition. To keep up with my campaign, you can visit my blog at www.carrie4rogers.com.

Click here to listen to this episode.

You can sign up to receive our e-mail newsletter Business: Engaged! Direct so you’ll be the first to know when we post a new show. Click here to our list of past episodes. And don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter at @businessengaged and Facebook (just search for “Business Engaged”). We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/tapping-the-business-uses-of-linkedin/

Oct 01 2012

Issues Surrounding Selling on the Internet

josh-clemence

Josh Clemence talks about the issues that businesses deal with when they sell on the internet on this episode of Business: Engaged!

One of the great, still largely unexplored frontiers for traditional local businesses is the internet. How do we sell what we do to a wider market?

In this episode of Business: Engaged!, we welcome back Josh Clemence of Acumen Brands. We talk about where some of their web properties got their start and what makes them successful. We also explore the issues that today’s internet-savvy companies are dealing with.

To learn more about Acumen Brands, visit their website at www.acumenholdings.com.

We also highlight Legal Shield, formerly branded as Prepaid Legal Services. This Ada, Oklahoma company provides personal and business legal services through an affordably priced membership program.

And you won’t want to miss my ninth update on my city council campaign in Rogers, Arkansas. This week’s update is about out-preparing the competition. To keep up with my campaign, you can visit my blog at www.carrie4rogers.com.

Click here to listen to this episode.

You can sign up to receive our e-mail newsletter Business: Engaged! Direct so you’ll be the first to know when we post a new show. Click here to our list of past episodes. And don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter at @businessengaged and Facebook (just search for “Business Engaged”). We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/selling-on-the-internet/

Sep 17 2012

Network Marketing: Should It Be Part of Your 21st-Century Business Model?

linda-gracy

25-year network marketing veteran Linda Gracy joins Carrie on this episode of Business: Engaged! She talks about network marketing and shares her insights about who is successful in the industry and why.

It is what Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad calls the business of the 21st century. You might be familiar with brands like Amway, Mary Kay, and Tupperware. But what do you know about the changes in the industry that were made possible by the Internet and social media? This isn’t your grandma’s multi-level marketing organization anymore.

There are more choices than ever and most don’t involve taking up any space in your home unless you just want a home office. You’d be surprised to know that some network marketing products are the perfect complement to your current business and can provide a significant additional revenue stream. Sometimes, it is the perfect next step when someone wants to sell their existing business and change directions.

On this episode of Business: Engaged!, I talk with 25-year network marketing veteran Linda Gracy of Diversified Enterprises. We talk about changes in the industry and who is successful and why. This episode might change your view of the network marketing industry — for the good!

You can visit Linda’s website at www.EasyMLMProsperity.com to learn more about her company.

Check in also for the seventh update on my city council campaign in Rogers, Arkansas. This week’s update is about determining the proper time to move from the strategy phase of a project to the tactical phase so you can move forward to execution. To keep up with my campaign, you can visit my blog at www.carrie4rogers.com.

Click here to listen to this episode.

You can sign up to receive our e-mail newsletter Business: Engaged! Direct so you’ll be the first to know when we post a new show. Click here to our list of past episodes. And don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter at @businessengaged and Facebook (just search for “Business Engaged”). We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/network-marketing-21st-century-business-mode/

Jul 23 2012

Knowing When to Jump: Understanding the Timing of Opening, Closing, and Marketing Your Business

wayne-simpson

Timing is everything. On this episode of Business: Engaged!, retired business owner Wayne Simpson talks about watching for signs that it is time to make business changes.

You know those times that you wish you had your camera because you would have taken a picture of a moment that might never happen again? I feel the same way about recording interviews. Thanks to technology, I can always whip out my smartphone and take a photo or record an interview.

This week’s show is about understanding the decisions you must make about the lifespan of your business. And being an entrepreneur in the technology age means that advances can affect your business — for better or worse.

My dad, Wayne Simpson, is my guest on this episode of Business: Engaged! He owned a computer service company when home computers were fictional creatures. He rode the wave from the height of the mainframe age to the personal computer revolution. It’s a kitchen-table conversation about how he knew when to make the jump from his full-time job to self-employment and the decision to close his business. Plus, we talk about marketing then and now.

And because technology has advanced the marketing options available, we dig into that topic as well. Then, just like today, the referral is the best and least-expensive way to market your business.

Click here to listen to this episode.

You can sign up to receive our e-mail newsletter Business: Engaged! Direct so you’ll be the first to know when we post a new show. Click here to our list of past episodes. And don’t forget to connect with us on Twitter at @businessengaged and Facebook (just search for “Business Engaged”). We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/knowing-when-to-jump/

Jun 25 2012

Eureka Pizza’s Discovery That Staying Local Was the Best Decision

rolf-wilkin-and-sign

Rolf Wilkin of Eureka Pizza talks about discovering that staying local was the perfect approach for his pizza chain.

Over twenty years, Eureka Pizza has earned its place as Arkansas’ leading independent pizzeria. Owner Rolf Wilkin today is keeping it local with his nine Northwest Arkansas pizza shops. He talks about the journey to expand and shares his insights. He’ll be the first to tell you that massive growth doesn’t always mean more profit, or, more importantly, quality of life. Rolf has always believed in shameless self-promotion. From standing on street corners shaking signs to recording his own pizza commercials to engaging with followers on Twitter, he’s the face of Eureka Pizza. We aren’t just buying a pizza, we’re doing business with Rolf.

And like any serial entrepreneur, Rolf also has lots to say about his newest business, Local Trade Partners. This trade bank is nationally affiliated but he understands that what local business owners really want is to do business with other local business owners. We talk about why his local approach works for the barter network members.

Episode airs on Monday, July 15, 2013 at 3:30 p.m. CST.

Click on the player below to listen to this episode.

Click here to listen to other episodes of Business: Engaged!

* If the show stops playing while you are listening, consider clicking on the Play in Your Default Player link under the audio window.

Listen to internet radio with Business Engaged on BlogTalkRadio

This is an encore presentation of Episode 10.
The episode aired originally June 25, 2012.

Click here to check out past episodes. You can follow the show on Twitter at @businessengaged too. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page so you’ll find out when the next show airs. Click here to go there. We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

 

Episode 10

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/eureka-pizzas-discovery-that-staying-local-was-the-best-decision/

Apr 23 2012

Success Secrets from a Kitchen-Table CEO

kim-hodous

We welcome Kim Hodous, author of Show Up, Be Bold, Play Big: 33 Strategies for Outrageous Success and Lasting Happiness from a Former Stay-at-Home Mom Who Built a 7-Figure Business from Her Kitchen Table.

Join us to learn the secret to balancing a growing family with a growing business and hiring the right people. As a former high school history teacher, Kim Hodous, the founder and CEO of Rockwood Jewelry, had zero business experience. But from her kitchen table, she built a seven-figure business in less than seven years.Her jewelry designs have appeared in over ten million catalogs and her work was recognized in 2007 when she was inducted into the Arkansas Small Business Hall of Fame. Kim believes that how you show up in every situation sets the stage for the impact you make with those around you. With humor and insight, Kim shares some of her secrets for success. Her book is called Show Up, Be Bold, Play Big: 33 Strategies for Outrageous Success and Lasting Happiness from a Former Stay-at-Home Mom Who Built a 7-Figure Business from Her Kitchen Table.

kim-hodous-bookEpisode airs on Thursday, April 16, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. CST.

Click on the player below to listen to this episode.*

Click here to listen to other episodes of Business: Engaged!

* If the show stops playing while you are listening, consider clicking on the Play in Your Default Player link under the audio window.

Listen to internet radio with Business Engaged on BlogTalkRadio

This is an encore presentation of Episode 1.
The episode aired originally April 23, 2012.

Click here to check out past episodes. You can follow the show on Twitter at @businessengaged too. Be sure to LIKE our Facebook page so you’ll find out when the next show airs. Click here to go there. We love it when you tell others about the show so take a minute and post this link for your Facebook friends or Twitter followers.

 

Episode 1

Permanent link to this article: http://businessengaged.com/kitchen-table-ceo/

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