Archive for the ‘Writing’ category

5 Trends to Look at for the Small Business 2018

March 16, 2018

pexels-photo-541525.jpegWithout question, if you own a small business you must keep up with current trends for small businesses. I’m not advocating that you try everything that seems to point to a good idea – some things may not be right for your business or they may be just transitory. What I am saying is that you should stay on top of what is available and the direction or opportunities that may be there for your small business because of a growing trend.

Once you have a handle on what’s trending, make a plan to strategically incorporate some of the trends into your business. It’s a good idea to explore a few of the trends for 2018.

One of the trends you may consider adopting is outsourcing or using freelancers for some of your workload. You and your staff don’t have to do everything. There continues to be an uptick in home businesses and freelance workers that can handle specific projects for you. According to incfile.com, there are 38 million home-based businesses in the US. And Balance, another popular freelance site, states that in 2014 one in every three Americans had done freelance work within the year. With those kinds of statistics there is someone out there who can manage your special project whether it’s completing a Request for Proposal (RFP) or managing your social media.

Another trend that is not likely to go away is digital payments, both in receiving and invoicing. For example, consider those freelancers: many may work online or remotely. They never see a paper check. Checks are quickly becoming relics. In addition, your mobile device is an increasingly popular swipe for payment at bricks and mortar sites.

Also, stay on top of the demographics of your consumer, as I’m sure you already do. Millennials are a powerful spending block. If your product is of any interest to that age group, it would be wise to understand their values. They don’t want to be sold to and honesty and transparency are important to them, consequently your marketing must be subtle and show the human impact. Think of the Publix commercials with it’s clearly human, emotional aspect. They stress that you are buying experiences, not just products. Building rapport with them is clearly important.

Next on the list is cybersecurity. Hacking and cyber theft are not going away. You must include in your plans ways to protect yourself and ways to rebound if you are hit. Explore the various companies that offer protection. Protect your passwords and make them difficult for others to decipher. The very last thing you want to do is pay a ransom for your company information.

Last, but actually first in importance, is taking care of your employees, whether you have one or 100. Be aware that the minimum wage may change in some parts of the country. Be alert for any changes in legislation that affect your business and employees. This may be more crucial in some states than others. Invest in education; explore inexpensive perks for your employees.  Constantly hiring new people is not a desirable pastime.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg of trends for the small business in 2018. It is imperative that you are strategic when you consider the changes to embrace and those to ignore for the growth of your business. But it goes without saying that you must keep abreast of what new innovations are available, what is changing, and what is becoming obsolete. Do your homework, stay informed, make changes as needed and warranted. Don’t let your small business lag behind because you failed to evaluate the impact of a growing trend.

Don’t forget, at Exceptional we can help you with your load. Don’t hesitate to contact us at exceptionaltbs.com.

And if writing  a book is in your future, a few guidelines may help. Pick up a copy of my book.

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Words Matter in Business Communication

January 18, 2018

pexels-photo-374899.jpegThere is power in words, more power than some understand. The way you use your words can work to either enhance your business or words that you use can harm your business. If you are an entrepreneur, business owner or someone fully engaged in the success of your career, it is important to be mindful of the words you use. If this sounds a little “woowoo,” let me explain why words really do matter.

You can see just how much words matter as you watch marketing machines change vernacular to put a spin on a situation. The words they choose to use can change situations in the listener or reader’s mind. For example, a recent plane incident on a runway in Turkey the press release stated that the “flight had a Runway Excursion Incident during landing…” A far more innocuous, less ominous statement than saying the plane skidded off the runway and landed nose down, hanging precariously on the side of the cliff a mere 737 feet from the Black Sea.

Speaking negatively and doubtfully only adds impediments to success. Just as you should be mindful of your thoughts, you should choose your words carefully in any communication, either written or verbal. There are words that should be avoided, if at all possible, in business. Here is my list:

Can’t
This should top anyone’s list. Once you have put in your mind that something can’t be done, you set up that there will not be an attempt at whatever it is being asked of you. But don’t use my next words either…

Try to…
This gives you an escape from actually putting in that extra effort to make something happen.

Busy
Your customers are not interested in knowing that you are not solely devoted to servicing them. While they know this to be a fact, they don’t want to hear you verbalize it. Avoid the words.

Impossible
Really? Is that task or situation that far out of reach? Give an honest assessment and even say that it is outside the scope of what you do, but don’t use the limiting word impossible. Circumstances may change that make it possible.

Wait
Waiting may be a reality in certain situations, but your customers don’t want to hear that. Give a specific time frame to the situation such as what many automated answering services  give now when you call customer service. Far better to say “Your call will be answered in approximately 5 minutes (or whatever the time frame)” than for a customer to be waiting without any idea of how long that wait will be. That leads to frustration, hang ups and a general dislike for the company.

Tomorrow
This is a word that habitual procrastinators use to fool themselves into thinking they will do a tasks that could have been done today. The saying “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” still stands.

These are just a few of the words that can have a negative impact and send a message you don’t intend. Choose words that produce action – positive action – in the present, not projected sometime in the future. That means when writing, limit the use of the word “to be.” Again, this is very passive and does not set up a positive outcome in your mind nor in the mind of the listener or reader. Using an active voice eliminates “wiggle room” or ambiguity in the listener or reader.

Be mindful and focus on using positive language. Change the way you use negative or limiting words. Better yet, don’t use them at all. Words matter when it comes to having or establishing a positive mindset in your customers and colleagues.

 

I’m Published! What Do I Do to Sell My eBook?

March 23, 2017

How to Create an Ebook screenshotI’m published! My new book, How to Create an Ebook, is available at Amazon and I couldn’t be happier. At $2.99 per copy, I think you will find the information useful.

The next big question is: Now what do I do next? How do I get my book to potential readers “out there?” A press release is certainly in order, but there are other housekeeping items I must attend to in order to sell my book. In fact, the following is useful information for anyone who has published a book:

  1. First, celebrate your accomplishment with a “release party.” No matter the size of your book, you should celebrate. The size of the celebration doesn’t matter either – a few friends or many.
  2. Send announcements via your email contacts and via “snail-mail.” Indicate how they can purchase your new book.
  3. Send press releases via the internet. There are various outlets on-line for press releases, some paid others are free.
  4. Send press releases via email to local newspapers, addressing the press release to specific persons at the papers. If you have ties to other towns or cities, send press releases to the papers of the city or town you are from. Followup with a phone call.
  5. Use social media to announce your new book. Create a strategy for these social media releases, keeping in mind where you think your target audience spends the majority of their time.
  6. If speaking is a part of your enterprise, let the speakers’ bureaus know that you now have a book.
  7. Don’t forget to include your book on your website and your blogs.
    Solicit friends to purchase, read, and then write a review of your book. This will help boost your rankings on Google.
  8. Consider having a few hard copies of your book on hand to sell at any speaking engagements or networking activities.

Feels exhausting, I know, but you wrote the book; you should be proud enough of it to work just as hard getting  your book to your audience. You don’t need to spend a fortune – hardly any money at all, really – but you must spend the time cultivating, cajoling and recruiting your customer in order to make the sale.

Have you considered writing a book? Have you started yet? You have information to share, a story to tell, let’s get started. It takes only one word at a time. You can manage that!

Are There Steps to Creating an Ebook?

December 15, 2016

pic-person-woman-desk-laptop-2Creating an ebook can be an extremely valuable tool to help you grow your business regardless of its size or whether your business is online or not. There are steps to creating your ebook if you want the ebook to be a success. In fact, some steps should be implemented even before you begin writing the ebook.

A general guideline will help you create your ebook. A few steps to include are:

  1. Begin by identifying what you will write about. What are the needs of your target audience? What does your target audience want to know or learn more about? What is your knowledge or skillset? Generally, if you are in business, the three questions should line up and point to the same niche; not always, but most of the time.
  2. Develop a strategy for marketing your ebooks and include steps to take before you begin writing. Make social media a part of your strategy. If you don’t have much of a social media presence, start working on it now.
  3. Create the title. This can change but start with a good working title. Sometimes just putting the title on paper will get you going if you are having difficulty with your start.
  4. Create the outline of the contents of your ebook. Creating an outline will help you stay focused and cover the major areas that you want to include.
  5. Consider SEO as you write. You want to be recognized by the search engines so that traffic will appear.
  6. Use the right tools to facilitate writing: good writing software (this is optional), thesaurus, dictionary, a good grammar resource (The Elements of Style by William Strunk and E.B. White has been around for nearly 100 years), grammar check, and spell check.
  7. Edit and proofread your ebook. Preferably this is done by someone else who is capable of handling the job. If you do it yourself, let your manuscript “sit” for a few days before editing and proofing. However, it is generally not recommended that you proof your own work. Most writers realize how difficult it is to catch your own mistakes. Rely solely on spellcheck and you can end up with some very interesting word substitutions.
  8. Revisit your title once you have finished your ebook. Does it still resonate with you? If at all possible, have your title serve as a domain name so that it can be easily found.
  9. Choose a cover. Create one yourself if you are good at that type of work or pay someone. You can have an attractive and affordable cover created at fiverr.com.
  10. Choose a publishing vehicle. Amazon Kindle ebooks shows you step by step what to do to get your ebook published and on Amazon. There are other ebook publishers. Choose the one that is going to be the most productive for you.
  11. Use illustrations if they are appropriate, however, respect copyright laws. There are sights where you can purchase your images. Relying on Google Images is not, I repeat, not your source for images to include in your ebook. Unless you have secured permission or paid for the rights to use the image, you can end up in lots of trouble. Two sites that offer the free use of images are pixabay.com and morguefile.com
  12. Print a copy of your ebook in pdf so that you see what a copy may look like if someone printed it.
  13. Last, but certainly not the least, price your ebook. Include in your pricing consideration whether you will provide it for free in any instances. Review prices of comparable ebooks already on the market to help you make a decision.

Do a little research before you begin the process. Internet makes this part of it über easy. Following the steps outlined will help you have a better grasp on how to organize your work when you have made the decision to write your ebook. Remember, all that is standing between you and a finished ebook is your action. Follow these steps and you will move from thinking about creating your ebook to making it a reality.

Have you considered creating an ebook? If it isn’t already one of your goals for the New Year, it probably should be. What would you choose as your topic? We would like to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment in the box below.

I Choose to Be Grateful

December 24, 2014

SnowScenefile000711750735For most of us the end of the year and the Christmas Holidays are a time for reflecting and reviewing fond memories. In the Northern Hemisphere, it’s winter and the nights are at their longest and often coldest, giving us time to sit in the warm cocoons construct for ourselves. The conditions are just perfect for reflection.

I’m putting aside my usual blog about growing your business to take a moment to express my gratitude. Realize that being grateful is sometimes a difficult choice. I could take a very different view of my life right now, but it would not change the circumstances. My daughter would still have gotten cancer, would still need radical treatment in a city far from home and would still need surgery that turned out to be far more extensive and debilitating than we imagined.

Still, I am grateful for the time I have been able to spend with my daughter, who by the way, turned out to be a woman who is courageous, beautiful, talented and so very smart. She is just short of my miracle and I have now spent time with her that would never have happened if she had not gotten sick.

I am so grateful that we found the best treatment for her so that we could save her leg and her life. The treatment and the cost of staying in a different city has taken a toll on our finances, but I am grateful for family and friends, even strangers, who have been so generous in helping to defray some of the cost.

I am grateful for a husband who has “held down the home front,” all the while supporting and encouraging both me and our daughter. I cannot imagine not being able to turn to him during the most trying days. I may have been in tears, but he had my back. He and my son are amazing.

I will not say that I would have asked for this experience – the rounds of chemotherapy, the radiation, or the surgery and they surely would not have been Apryl’s choice. However, that is the journey that has been put in front of us. The long train rides to and from Manhattan were as draining as the treatments, but I’m grateful we had that options and that we were able to take advantage of them.

With surgery behind her, Apryl has other challenges to meet and conquer on her road to recovery, but I am grateful there is a road to recovery.

When I reflect on it all, I am grateful for so many things. I am grateful for the sacrifice our Lord made for us all. I am grateful that I could make sacrifices for someone I love, too. Most of all I am grateful that I know someone as special as Apryl and that she is my daughter. So you see, my only choice is to express my gratitude.

Be Exceptional,

Audrey, CEO/Founder Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions

 

Picture courtesy Morguefile.