Category Archives: business ideas

Your Everyday Creativity

everyday creativity“But I’m not a creative person!” Does this sound like you? Do you believe that you are not creative because you are not artistic, musical, or prolific with words?  Creativity is far reaching and extends beyond imagination.  There is much joy in finding passion for anything that is pleasing to do.

Everyone has the ability to be creative because it is a God-given gift.  However, you may not recognize your particular form of creativity because it’s being measured against someone else’s creativity or accomplishments. Just stop that NOW! Instead consider how you might express your own brand of creativity in everyday ways.

You might be a person who expresses your creativity through your kindness.  I read in someone’s Facebook posts that they made up little small bags of essential items (travel toothbrush/toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, lotion, tissues, etc.) that they carry in their car to give away to homeless people. That’s a neat idea if you have a heart for helping others.  What about the gift of humor? Another person I know uses their improv comedy skills to create short sketch scenes to share with their friends to enjoy.

Perhaps volunteering is a form of creativity that brings you excitement when you are being of service to others. Or maybe you have learned to express your creativity by saying something kind to each person you interact with. Another person I know created a small artsy book of positive phrases that they give to people they meet.

https://www.pinterest.com/source/keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

https://www.pinterest.com/source/keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

Maybe picking out fabrics and making clothing or blankets is fun for you, or knitting or crocheting for yourself, family and friends. What about planning activities or trips for friends?  Last year, I met a guy you planned a cruise for a group of friends, and it was so successful that he now has a million-dollar business planning cruises and group vacations.  I also met a graphic designer during a workshop who enjoyed reading enough that she began to write and design books under her own publishing company.  Today, she enjoys teaches people how they can do the same thing.

We all have many ways in which we can express our creativity, and expressing it is vital to our well-being and gives us a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction with life. Creative expression will occur naturally when you open your heart to yourself and others, allowing the gift of creativity to flow through you from the spiritual source that is always available to you. New ideas are always waiting to be expressed through you – you just need to open to them and allow the time for them. When you do, you will experience the joy and fulfillment that comes from everyday creativity!

Enjoy (and Create)!

 

The Power of Ideas: 25 Quotes to Inspire You

 

theIf you’ve ever had an idea to elude you, join the club.  The most common problem for serial idea generators is either not writing down the idea or not acting on a written idea. Which person are you?

I used to vacillate between the two, but consistently write down ideas now.  I also recognize that it’s never to late to get into the habit of jotting down your ideas for future recall, so to help inspire you, following are 25 quotes extolling the”Power of Ideas.”  Feel free to share which one is your favorites or pass along a favorite “Idea” quote in the comments below.

  1. “If you are possessed by an idea, you find it expressed everywhere, you even smell it.” – Thomas Mann

  2. “No matter what people tell you, words and ideas can change the world.” – Robin Williams

  3. “A mediocre idea that generates enthusiasm will go further than a great idea that inspires no one.” – Mary Kay Ash

  4. “If you do not express your own original ideas, if you do not listen to your own being, you will have betrayed yourself.” – Rollo May

  5. “An idea is salvation by imagination.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

  6. “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea.” – Buddha

  7. “All achievements, all earned riches, have their beginning in an idea.” – Napoleon Hill

  8. “The problem is never how to get new, innovative thoughts into your mind, but how to get old ones out.”  – Dee Hock

  9. “You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can’t get them across, your ideas won’t get you anywhere.” – Lee Iacocca

  10. “Every really new idea looks crazy at first.” – Alfred North Whitehead

  11. “One’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

  12. “Lack of money is no obstacle. Lack of an idea is an obstacle.” – Ken Hakuta

  13. “You can kill a man, but you can’t kill an idea.” – Medgar Evers

  14. “The air is full of ideas. They are knocking you in the head all the time. You only have to know what you want, then forget it, and go about your business. Suddenly, the idea will come through. It was there all the time.”   – Henry Ford

  15. “Take up one idea. Make that one idea your life – think of it, dream of it, live on that idea. Let the brain, muscles, nerves, every part of your body, be full of that idea, and just leave every other idea alone. This is the way to success, that is way great spiritual giants are produced.”  – Swami Vivekananda

  16. “The way to get good ideas is to get lots of ideas and throw the bad ones away.” – Linus Pauling

  17. “My ideas usually come not at my desk writing but in the midst of living.”  – Anais Nin

  18. “I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else.” – Pablo Picasso

  19. “Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt

  20. “A half-baked idea is okay as long as it’s in the oven.”  – Author Unknown

  21. “If I have a thousand ideas and only one turns out to be good, I am satisfied.” – Alfred Noble

  22. “My mind contains many good ideas, but it’s not always easy to squeeze one out.”  – Ashleigh Brilliant

  23.  “A good idea will keep you awake during the morning, but a great idea will keep you awake during the night.” – Marilyn vos Savant

  24. “It is the essence of genius to make use of the simplest ideas.”  – Charles Peguy

  25. “Creative thinking inspires ideas.  Ideas inspire change.”  – Barbara Januskiewicz

 

Presentation Overhaul: Prezi Online Presentation Software

prezi_logo_horizontal_color_png

It is often challenging to find interesting ways to present business data. Whether it’s a live meeting or online presentation, customers expect to be engaged visually.

When I recently had the opportunity to experiment with Prezi Online Presentation Software using content from a previous Powerpoint, I was blown away with the ease of use and wanted to share what I learned.

Prezi is a visually appealing and engaging, motion-filled and fluid presentation format.  I created a free online public account while I experimented with the software, but the cost for the software is very reasonable with a basic plan under $5 per month. As a freelance consultant and entrepreneur, I understand the need for finding affordable technology to remain relevant in a digital-driven social media marketplace. Prezi offers an easy, dynamic, and cost-effective method for freelancers, entrepreneurs and small business owners.

If you are already savvy with maneuvering PowerPoint or catch on to software quickly, Prezi is a breeze to use.  I played around with it for a little over an hour using one of their templates until I had something I felt satisfied with presenting to my client for their preview.  Obviously, you need to already have the content you want to put into the presentation.  I used content from an existing PowerPoint to create mine, which probably made my learning curve easier.  I would suggest using the same method until you are familiar with navigating Prezi, but otherwise it’s just a cooler and more effective way of formatting and presenting data and information.

So here are my highlights:

  • Prezi works from an open canvas environment with options to use their pre-set paths or build your own.
  • Once you set up an account (public account is free but your files are accessible to anyone), choose from a library of reusable prezis or templates, and just have at it.
  • The software is simple to navigate with options to change backgrounds, shapes and colors to incorporate your company’s brand image.
  • As you build your prezi, the graphic and visual features allow you to zoom and pan through text, emphasizing main points and key information.
  • You can add and edit images directly onto the canvas.
  • Because it is cloud-based program, the presentation can be accessed remotely on a tablet, phone or PC, and it allows for ease of collaboration with others in real-time.

Here’s a preview of a Prezi template that you may enjoy.  Would love to hear your thoughts or feedback from your Prezi experience; submit comments below:

Smartphone + Social Media = FREE Advertising…It Works

Social media is no passing fad. It is definitely here to stay with ever evolving mobile technology and apps being launched daily. If your business is not using some form of social media to promote your services, expertise or advertise, you may want to reconsider as writer and social media intern Katie Herrera shares her insights on how to make it work for you.
© Georgejmclittle | Dreamstime.com - 3 Smartphones

©Georgejmclittle | Dreamstime.com – 3 Smartphones

It is 2015 and nearly every consumer you are marketing your product(s) or service(s) to has a smartphone in their pocket with at least one social media account at their fingertips. Don’t you think it’s just good business sense to utilize these (free) services that your consumers, clients, and/or customers are already using?

The first thing to realize as a small business or an entrepreneur using social media to sell their product, is that it should not be entirely obvious that you are trying to sell something to your followers. This may sound counterproductive, but hear me out here! The point of social media is for people to foster relationships with other people. Whether you agree with that statement or not, you can think about your own personal social media accounts and realize that many of your “friends” or “followers” are friends and family. Their social media accounts allow you to keep up with their lives when you may not always have the time to call them personally. You should be treating your professional social media accounts just the same: a way for you to build relationships with your clients (or customers, whatever the case may be).

A survey taken of small businesses on Twitter found that 60% of people who bought something from a small business did so because of their Twitter account. What else does an active social media account do for a small business? It causes word of mouth to become your advertisement. If you can catch a consumer’s eye with your social media posts time and again, they will be more likely to remember you when they need a service or a good similar to what you offer. Similarly, if someone they know needs a service or good that you offer, they can recommend you to a friend or family member.

While commercials on television work great for big businesses and corporations, social media can be a source for advertisement just as influential for small businesses. The keys to using social media: staying active, building relationships with your followers, and making sure your activity always relates to your business.

Katie Herrera is a recent college graduate and aspiring writer. She enjoys writing editorial content on current events and content requiring in depth research. She can be reached at katherrerawrites@gmail.com.

 

 

7 Budget-Friendly Marketing Strategies

© Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos |Glass Jar With Coins

© Piotr Majka | Dreamstime Stock Photos |Glass Jar With Coins

As an entrepreneur, you could have the finest service or product on the planet, but if customers never discover it, your startup is going to face rough waters. Every business requires marketing, but it shouldn’t cause you to bust your budget. The following handy and economical suggestions will help you get your message out without squeezing you dry:

1. Conduct Your Own Market Research.

              Prepare a compilation of your customers’ questions, needs and issues. While you’re at it, record basic demographic information, such as gender, age and status. This will bolster your efforts to sharpen your marketing message so that it directly addresses your customers’ needs.

2. Ungarble Your Message.

                            Don’t throw away resources on elaborate collateral without first developing a clear, concise message. If the average Jack or Jill doesn’t “get” your message, then simplify it. Clarity rules

3. Inexpensive Public Relations.

Do things that will burn your business’ persona into the public’s consciousness. Make sure to volunteer your services or products at charity events, publish blog articles written by you or by respected guest bloggers, write favorable comments on other blog sites, and get involved in civic and networking activities.

4. Try a Small Marketing Agency.

                Engage a small marketing agency and monitor its advice for effectiveness. A small agency well understands your budget constraints– it no doubt has its own constraints — but nonetheless must cough up innovative, exciting concepts that will goose your business. If you aren’t happy, give another agency a shot, but only after allotting enough time to the first one to fairly judge their results.

5. Marketing Advice for Free.

        Internet blogs like this one that you are reading at this very instant offer prized information freely. A library (real or virtual) is another cost-efficient resource. Here’s another idea: marketing agencies frequently provide a free initial consultation — you can learn a lot without making any commitments.

6. Word-of-Mouth.

      Few types of marketing are more efficient than is word of mouth. Energize your customers to talk up your business by offering contests, raffles, and loyalty programs, as well as personalized solutions and superlative service. Recruit your happy customers to send out “the word.” Many people love to do this — you have only but to ask

7. Pamper Your Vendors.

    A happy vendor can enhance your business, but an unhappy vendor can be ruinous. Always pay vendors on time! In fact, a better tactic is to pay them in advance. If they want to be your friends, they will gladly endorse you, especially if you reciprocate.
        As you can see, there are many opportunities to adopt inexpensive marketing ideas for your business. You may experience slow results at first, but stay focused and intentional to reap benefits well in excess of the money you spent.

How Freelancers Get To Take A Day Off

© Favetelinguis | Dreamstime.com – Freelance Infographic

While freelancing has become very popular globally according to our freelance infographic, a September 2014 national survey shares that it is the new workforce normal attributing over 53 million Americans working as freelancers.  The flexibility and opportunities as a freelancer, solopreneur, or independent contractor are immense.  However, the greatest success comes for those who think strategically about their approach to ensure the greatest income potential and personal freedom.  It is definitely doable and freelance business and financial writer Eric Bank tells us how below.

Add Some Zip To Your Freelance Business

Freelancing is a great career choice. You call your own shots, keep clear of offices (and the accompanying politics), and take time off as you wish. It’s also a terrifying choice — what if you can’t drum up enough business to support your lifestyle? Will you permit yourself time off, knowing that no income is, well, coming in?

We think the best defense against these worries is a good offense. Here are four tips to boost your revenue and allow you to enjoy the occasional day off:

Expand Your Solution

Your business offers solutions to clients. Why not expand the scope of those solutions by adding complementary services? For example, if you are a freelance content provider, leverage your skills into areas such as website design and implementation. You can offer a turnkey project to fulfill the client’s initial requirements and then provide long-term support that translates into steady income.

Support Tangential Services

Your client may have needs that you can satisfy by supplying additional freelancers with a wide range of skills. If you are developing marketing projects for a small client, offer to supply a telephone salesperson to handle some of the leads your promotion generates. As a freelancer, you may be in a unique position to network with many others looking to expand their businesses and willing to subcontract services through you.

© Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Commit Your Expertise to Print

Some freelancers provide high-priced professional services not affordable by all potential clients. However, you may be able sell these clients e-books, manuals and videos that layout your expertise in a series of systematic instructions. This not only increases the size of your target client base, it also burnishes your reputation as a guru. Depending on the type of project, you might be able to sell your knowledge for several hundred dollars a pop to clients who can’t afford to hire you directly.

Offer Courses

Some clients may prefer to bring you in to train their staffs. You can put together a set of training classes that you deliver as an adjunct or alternative to your main offering. By the way, did we mention that training is very lucrative?

The bottom line to freelancers and small business owners: think outside the box to increase the scope and scale of your offerings. Then, go take a day off! – EB

Shh, it’s a Secret. Learn How to Go Viral.

 

On a lazy Sunday perusing Netflix, I watched the movie, Chef, with Jon Favreau (actor and director of Ironman and Ironman 2) as character Carl Casper, a chef turned food cart owner.  One element of the movie that caught my attention was Carl’s aloofness about Twitter, tweeting or what “going viral” meant. He soon learned just how easy “going viral” can be and found himself unexpectedly popular on the Internet. And so it is with the Web. However, after chatting with Gen Y Web Entrepreneur Ashley Gilbert of HonestyforBreakfast.com, she explained how entrepreneurs have propelled themselves into the Internet stratosphere overnight and made thousands, even millions, as web entrepreneurs specifically using viral content. May not be your cup of tea, but read on as Ashley shares how leveraging viral content can help to create lots of new traffic to your website, which may be of interest.

Digital media has sky-rocketed in the last few years as people seek their daily dose of news online versus reading a physical newspaper or magazine. And as such, viral media is easing its way to the forefront of the online media world. Viral media is simply a marketing tool that web entrepreneurs use to drive traffic to their websites from other social networking services such as Facebook. Those catchy, shocking, heart-wrenching articles you see every time you visit social media sites is what is known as viral media.

ashley 1
TheWeek.com

For instance, this article immediately grabs attention by evoking an emotion with a call to action. Nine times out of 10, if someone clicks the link to watch the video and they are impacted, they will share it to their followers and so on.

ViralNova is a site, run by a man in the middle of Ohio, that has previously generated 100 million unique views in a single month. The site’s viral success piqued within six months of the website launch, earning the Ohioan an estimated $400,000 dollars, according to Viper Chill

Venture capitalists and angel investors are starting to see value in the viral craze, too, and have recently invested $7 million dollars into a ViralNova website copy-cat, Distractify, according to Bloomberg. Here’s a preview of their website:

viperchill.com

viperchill.com

So, just how are these sites able to maintain traffic success? It’s simple. They’re paying to play. That means that they are shelling out big bucks in Facebook advertisement to drive traffic to their sites. Before 2013, it was simple to share content with users.  However, Facebook recognized a marketing and economic opportunity and changed its algorithm to cater to the companies that provided quality content and companies that were willing to pay them to keep their content visible to all viewers.

So, what are some must-have key components for web entrepreneurs considering a viral media website?

Don’t focus too much attention on web design

The web design for this type of website should be very simple. Pictures, video and endless content will keep visitor’s attention once they arrive at your website, not the design. Extra distraction are not desired nor recommended.

Headlines are everything

Have you ever been scrolling on Facebook and your eye caught an article headline that was too irresistible to not click? Then congratulations, you have just discovered the main ingredient to making viral sites successful: a compelling, eye-catching headline that moves you to response. Consider that if a headline doesn’t grab your attention, then its very likely not to grab anyone’ else’s either.

Facebook is your best friend

Twitter is nice, but most of your traffic will come from Facebook, so this should be where most of your attention stays. Facebook has such a large audience that eats up viral content daily and the statistics prove that.

Mix up your content

While it’s fine to re-create content, original copy will add balance to your website. Remember that copy-cat viral media sites are all over the web. To differentiate your website, there has to be a draw to keep readers returning. Consider that there have been sites that have generated tons of traffic one month and then completely fell flat the next.

The viral media niche is still fairly young and there’s still billions of dollars to be made on the Internet. If interested, it is wise to act sooner rather than later.  I would also recommend a software called Bullet Viral Traffic to help get you off to a great start. The intent and purpose for these types of sites vary. Some entrepreneurs use them to spread news-like information, while others use them to re-create trending topics in social media. Again, it all depends on your niche and where you’d like to focus. it’s still fairly new and there’s still billions of dollars to be made on the Internet. -AG

So, You Are Expecting…

All businesses, including entrepreneurial efforts, go through phases of growth known as the business life cycle. The four critical stages are start-up, growth, maturity and decline. As you consider your business goals, what phase are you in? If you are just beginning a business or growing steadily in revenues, read on as management analyst Deron Mundle with consulting firm Riuberg Corp, shares what you can expect in the startup and growth phases.

© Nasir1164 | Dreamstime.com - Wordcloud Of Rbc (real Business Cycle) Photo

© Nasir1164 | Dreamstime.com – Wordcloud Of Real Business Cycle)

So, You Are Expecting…

So, you are expecting to grow a business. Your concept, which some time ago was just a passing idea, is becoming an enterprise. You anticipate that it will eventually turn a profit and provide employment for many within the community.

The research has been done and friends, family and colleagues are showing a real interest in what you have to offer. The mentor from SCORE has asked many tough questions and now you are both satisfied that the concept really has a chance to succeed. You have taken the giant step to formalize a business and have received all of your licenses and permits. Congratulations, you have a new venture on your hands.

What then should you expect at this phase of your endeavor, a period that the online magazine, Chron, calls the start-up stage?

Navigating the Start-Up Phase

You will devote long hours to the new entity in hopes of making it viable in the market. It will be essential to conserve the cash coming in and going out of your business while still buying supplies, paying for help and finding customers. Even if you do not make enough sales to cover the expenses, it will be necessary to put more money in the business. Yes, more capital investment though you may not able to take a salary. In the unfortunate event that money runs out and more financing is not available, the business will have to be shuttered.

During the start-up phase with its attendant psychological pressures, the new entrepreneur may find solace by networking with owners of other fledgling enterprises and seasoned business operators. By sharing experiences, you may benefit from the knowhow and expertise that others have. Who knows, they might even give you some referrals.

In a Forbes article, it is reported that eight out of ten businesses fail within 18 months of being started. Yes, that’s correct, 80%. However, your business has found a niche in the market and things are looking good right now.

What then should you look for within what is called the growth stage after successfully navigating the start-up phase?

Building During the Growth Stage

© Johnkwan | Dreamstime.com - Growth In Business Photo

© Johnkwan | Dreamstime.com – Growth In Business Photo

Even with an increasing customer base and higher revenues, you will still need to pay very close attention to your cash flow as cash is the lifeblood of any business. You should also expect to make investments in creating new sales channels such as websites or e-commerce, establish your products and services in new markets, and promote the business with a view to gaining and retaining new customers. It may also be necessary to seek financing and the utilization of accounting and productivity software, to provide greater insights into the operations of the enterprise, is another necessity for any enterprise.

Every business owner starts off with great expectations for his or her enterprise. However, by knowing what to expect at the various stages of the entity’s life cycle, you can better deal with the complexities of owning and running a small business.