Bite-Size Chunks of Wisdom

February 2014

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Traditional marketing is becoming obsolete. As more consumers turn to the web to buy products and services, its time for small business owners to acquire clients by shifting to a new marketing strategy. It’s time for small businesses to go inbound!

What is Inbound Marketing?

Dharmish Shah, Brian Halligan, and David Meerman Scott introduced inbound marketing to the marketplace in their 2009 book of the same name, Inbound Marketing.

Inbound marketing employs an attraction principle. Through the use of quality content, inbound marketing pulls potential clients to your business. It builds credibility and trust with your audience by gently and graciously taking them through the buyers journey.

How does it Differ From Traditional or Outbound Marketing?

Traditional, outbound marketing uses a push technology. Some marketing specialists refer to it as “interruption marketing” because that’s what it does — it disrupts your day through email blasts, direct mail, and cold calls.

On the other hand, inbound marketing capitalizes on several critical changes in buying trends, such as:

  • Increase in online search. A recent study discovered that 97% of all consumers research online for products and services before they buy.
  • Buyers want to buy but they don’t want to be sold.
  • Consumers are more sophisticated in their buying approach. They are looking for relevant information. In fact, 56% unsubscribe from newsletters because the content is no longer applicable.

Inbound marketing attracts potential clients by using keywords, social media, and blogging. It converts visitors to your website to leads by making valuable offers and content available for downloading. Leads become clients when trust and credibility are built through automatic workflow emails. And, it uses smart content to continue to delight your clients.

What’s the Big Deal?

In addition to leveraging online search behavior, inbound marketing gives small business owners the one thing that is a premium — TIME!

A business built on an inbound marketing strategy is like having a 24/7 sales team. You don’t always need to be “there” (i.e., workshops, networking, special events, etc.) to generate valuable leads for your business.

It’s so 21st Century!

Additional Blog Posts:

Let’s face it! Sometimes our best made plans just don’t come to fruition. Rather than waste valuable time and energy trying to force your plan to work, you may need to renegotiate — with yourself.

As entrepreneurs we pride ourselves on getting things done. But, when getting things done begins to feels more like you’re pushing your head through a very tiny knothole in a fence, its time for drastic measures.

Even though a commitment made to oneself does not constitute a legal and binding agreement, the depth of the promises you make to yourself would say otherwise. Deeply held commitments, especially when it comes to business tactics that aren’t working, only serve to bottleneck your growth

You renegotiate your mortgage rate, the terms of agreement with a provider, who’s going to carry out the trash…why not put your negotiation skills to work to keep things moving in your business.

Nothing is engraved in granite (unless you’re talking about that geeky plaque you won in 4th grade for the science award). Being you were the one who set the parameters of your initial commitment, you also are the one who can negotiate new terms — with yourself.

What’s not working as well as you would like in your business? Do you need to have a “good talkin’ to”? Go face-to-face with yourself — and don’t back down until you get what you want.

Entrepreneurs are driven to continually improve productivity. Taking a page from Lifehacker’s This is How I Work Series, here are some productivity tips that help me work grow my business, and that of others.

Productivity strategies didn’t come naturally for me. A diagnosis that left me with a 4-hour workday (on good days) compelled me to be creative with prioritization and getting things done that mattered.

I’m Jackie Nagel, and This is How I Work

 1. Start my day with “me”. I love to read. It sparks my creativity and fuels my brain cells. Before the flurry of activities begin, I meet each day at 5 am with a cup of coffee and my Kindle.

2. Work my best hours. Each of us has an internal clock that conveys the best time during which we are most productive. Mine is early mornings. I concentrate on key goal-oriented, business growth activities between 6 am – 12 noon. I save afternoons for activities that don’t require my brain cells firing on all cylinders.

3. Prioritize goal-related activities. This was counterintuitive to my previous work approach. With a compressed time frame in which to achieve my goals, I shifted my mindset from putting out fires to activities aligned with my business mission, vision, and goals. The Daily Goal Planner re-focused my efforts. You can download it for free here.

4. Move it. I used to be quite active — until I became an entrepreneur. Pulled by the stress and overwhelm of running a business, exercise quickly went by the wayside…until I was told I would never run a marathon or climb a mountain. These were not events on my bucket list — until that moment.

Daily exercise clears cobwebs in my brain, helps me get clear, brings new creativity and energy to my business, and gives me a renewed sense of optimism, hope, and confidence.

5. Break often. Have you heard the saying, “All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy”? The same is true for entrepreneurs. “Taking 10” (preferably outside) every 90 minutes boosts productivity and performance.

6. Automate. Advancements in technology have made automation affordable for small business owners. I continually scour the Internet to find automation solutions for any and all repetitive activities.

7. Take control of email. Email is a huge productivity-killer. Frankly, it’s not fulfilling, satisfying, or productive to spend my day in my inbox. ActiveInBoxHQ is a tool that I use to quickly turns emails into tasks to be completed based on the priority of my goals. And, I use Evernote as a repository for stimulating articles to read later.

Unsubscribing from all but essential newsletters and turning off all social media notifications easily cut email by 50%.

Around 10 am, I scan email for mission-critical communication. Interestingly, most emails don’t require an immediate response, which allows me to quickly return to key business growth activities.

8. Control social media. Oh, how I love (and despise) social media. I love the interactions but I loath the time lost to social media. Clear social media goals and strategies help me engage in social media at a time best aligned with my priorities and goals. As a result, social media doesn’t pull me off course.

9. Say “no”. Who doesn’t get bombarded by a multitude of requests during the course of the day? Join this affiliation program. Connect with me on this social media platform. Attend this networking event. Having clear goals — and a marketing persona — made it much easier to know when to say “no” and was a tremendous boost to my productivity.

10. Know when to call it quits. Whether it’s for the day or the week, knowing when to push myself away from my desk prevents burnout and renews my energy to perform.

Do I still struggle with staying the course, sticking to the plan, and focusing on the most important activities influencing my business growth? You bet! But, these 10 tips have certainly been a boon to my productivity.

Productivity is a continual process of letting go of what’s not working and discovering new ways to become more productive. As long as you’re willing to explore your options, you can look forward to achieving your goals more quickly with less stress.

So….What’s your name, and how do you work?

 It’s tempting to offer hefty discounts to clients. Whether your choice to markdown your fee is to seduce clients into an initial purchase or acquiring more of your services, price discounting dramatically slows your business revenue.

This scenario played out recently during a strategic business coaching call with a small business owner launching their business. While reviewing the business owner’s pricing strategy, I noticed that a hefty discount provided for frequent users of my client’s service.

When asked the rationale used to craft the pricing strategy, specifically the discount policy, my client made several assumptions about the impact of discounting such as:

  • Discounts keep clients coming back
  • Discounts demonstrate appreciation for frequent-users of their service
    Discounts snag clients up front and secure more clients by doing so

Sound familiar? Most small business owners have discounted their pricing at one point for all of the reasons listed above only to discover that clients are fickle. They stay — or go — for a myriad of reasons.

Time is money when you’re in the service industry. Furthermore, you bring knowledge and expertise to the relationship with your client. Your time — and expertise — isn’t worth less because someone uses your services more often. In fact, one could argue that frequency of use is more valuable to the client. You know their history and are intimately familiar with their needs and values. Essentially, you save them time and money as they do not have to ramp up a new service-provider.

A more effective pricing strategy is to delight your clients through superior service that solves their problems and produces the results they want….and results they didn’t know they wanted!

If you’re drawn to do something special for your clients, consider providing a special surprise at the conclusion of your engagement. List your fee for your services minus a modest “client appreciation” fee that says, “We appreciate your business.” You’ll delight your clients while maintaining the financial integrity of your business.

What ways have others delighted you? What do you do to delight others? We would love to hear your thoughts.

Making decisions in your business, especially with so much riding on that decision, is tough. Do you follow your gut? Your friend’s suggestion? The latest information published at Although all are good resources to facilitate your decision-making, your best decisions are strategic decisions.

 There are two fundamental decision choices entrepreneurs can make — strategic and tactical. Tactical decisions are like “putting out fires”. They are decisions made in the “here and now”. Unfortunately, tactical decisions easily derail your business and result in lengthy, costly detours.

Strategic decisions, on the other hand, prevent fires from occurring in the first place. They consider the direction in which your business is headed. Strategic decisions are like guideposts along the winding road of success. They ensure you avoid distractions or don’t get lost down a dusty trail.

Strategic Decision Tool Kit

There are three tools every entrepreneur needs in their strategic decision-making tool kit. They create the framework for decision-making that translates into easy daily action steps. They keep you focused. Moreover, they allow you to take advantage of opportunities to grow your business.

  1. Mission. Your mission is the reason you’re in business. It answers the question “what do we do”. Being your core values and target audience play an integral role in crafting your mission, decisions based on your mission keep you — and your business — in integrity.
  2. Vision. Your vision statement defines the future you want for your business.
  3. Strategies. Strategies establish how your business will achieve its mission and vision. They create the winning performance you want.

There are as many ways to approach your mission, vision, and strategies, as there are decisions to make in a day. However, when done right, they seldom change.

The next time a decision is staring you down, reach for your strategic decision-making tool kit and ask, “Is this in alignment with my mission, vision, and strategies?” Your answer may surprise you.

I know all the stats….companies that blog 15x or more per month get 5x more traffic than those who don’t blog. Businesses that increase the number of blog posts from 3-5x per month to 6-8x per month, double their leads. When the TOTAL number of blogs on a site grows from 20 to 50, traffic increases by 45%; spike the TOTAL blog posts past 100 and you’ll see a 59% upturn in traffic. Those are the results I wanted yet I limped along at my blog-a-week pace…and it was brutal.

bite-size-chunks-wisdom1-resized Blogging was agonizing, painful, time-consuming, and stressful. Even at my rapid-fire writing pace (said with tongue in cheek), I was uncertain what I would write. What did I possibly have to say that would fill 30 blog posts? Anxiety over topics, and the fact that it took 4 hours to write a 500-word blog post was enough to send me to the snack drawer!

Then, Hubspot issued a 30-day blogging challenge….

Behind the Blog

My interest in inbound marketing, of which blogging is a tool, began in 2009 when I read Inbound Marketing by Brian Halligan, Dharmah Shah, and David Meerman Scott. By that time, a seismic shift was occurring in my own marketing approach.

Traditional outbound marketing tools such as email blasts, advertising, direct mail, and cold calls were becoming a source of irritation. These tools, aptly called “interruption marketing”, were doing just that — interrupting my workflow — and it was annoying.

Even face-to-face networking was getting on my nerves. Besides time consuming, if I had to listen to one more person robotically recite their web page rather than speak to me like a real person, I was going to lose my mind! If outbound marketing tactics, those that “push” your message to the consumer, were maddening to me, were they equally aggravating to others?

At the same time as my growing irritation of outbound marketing tactics, buyer behaviors were changing. Buyers wanted to buy but they didn’t want to be sold. They turned to the web in record numbers to find, research, and buy what they wanted at the time they wanted it. In fact, a recent study revealed that nearly all consumers (97%) now research online for products/services.

In addition to capitalizing on buying trends, inbound marketing made sense to me as a small business owner. I could leverage my time and expertise. I didn’t need to “be there” to generate leads. Inbound marketing was my 24/7 sales team.

Blogging Results Communicate Volumes

Why I accepted the 30-day blogging challenge, I’ll never be entirely certain. Granted, I’ll never be like Scott Siders and his Content Marketing Program but blogging is less stressful. The time it takes to write a post has dramatically reduced. The practice of daily writing honed my process. And, I discovered the best time to write. I actually enjoy blogging.

Did I question my commitment during the 30-day challenge? You bet! But, when website traffic and leads began their upward march I was incentivized to continue.

When the dust of the 30-day blogging challenge settled, here’s what transpired:

  • Website visits increased 101%
  • Unique visits climbed by 86%
  • Number of page visits went from 2.11 to 4.48
  • Time spent on the site rose from 2:16 to 3:08
  • Bounce rate dropped 8%
  • Returning visitors increase 7%
  • Blog subscribers increased 27%
  • Number of leads generated increased 150%

What can I say? I could dream about results like this for 30 days or I could take action, challenge myself, and generate results like this in 30 days. I’m glad I chose the later.

Do you want results like this? Contact us. We’re happy to help you craft the inbound marketing strategy best for your business.

That was the line delivered by a petite woman with big Texas hair and a matching southern drawl that brought down the house. She was right! We become like those we are surrounded by — and it could be hurting the growth of our business.

It’s impossible to “do it all” in business. That’s why we engage others to help with everything from administration to bookkeeping to marketing. It frees us to work “on” our business, rather than “in” our business.

Surrounding yourself with experts is good — as long as they aren’t equals or minuses for your business.

How Do Others Add-Up For Your Business

Based on the notion that we become who — or what — we hang around, the abrasive, yet effective, “southern belle” (term used loosely) proved a very valid point from which business owners can learn. Here was her tutorial:

  1.   Make a list of everyone with whom you spend time.
  2. Ask if yourself if you feel better, the same, or worse after being with them.
  3. Place a plus (+) sign next to those with whom you feel better about yourself when around them, an equal (=) sign after the names of those with whom you feel the same, and a minus (-) sign next to the individuals with whom you feel worse after spending time with.
  4. Based on the pluses, equals, and minuses, ask, “What in the Sam Hill am I doing hanging out with the equals and minuses?”

Point taken — with or without the southern drawl! Why would we want to spend time with those who don’t add, or even worse, subtract from our lives?!

Although her presentation was an essay for one’s life, there’s a lot of wisdom in what she shared that’s applicable to our business.

Consider those you engage to advance your business goals? Are they adding to or enhancing your goals? Do they produce little or no benefit to the progress of your goals? Or, are they slowing down your success, frustrating your efforts, and bottlenecking your growth? Are they a plus, equal, or a minus to your business growth?

Wait for it….


Mattel’s announcement of Entrepreneur Barbie delighted and disturbed me. As little girls, we were mesmerized by the countless fantasies created with Barbie. Undoubtedly, the launch of Barbie’s entrepreneurial journey is likely to inspire an entire generation of entrepreneurs — as long as they avoid the commentary that followed.

 Admittedly, I seldom pay attention to such announcements. They become a passing notation in the day of a busy entrepreneur…until a Twitter post caught my eye. Ray Hennessey (@Hennesseyedit), Editorial Director @Entmagazine, Casual-Free Market Economist, Latin Scholar, & Former Plumber, tweeted, “#Barbie wants to be her own boss. At what, we’re not sure, but…sure!!!” Was that a “little pat on our pretty little head”, Mr. Hennessey?  I was stunned by such a cavalier comment coming from, of all people, an Editorial Director! (Apparently the bar isn’t set very high for such positions OR he’s spending his life with his head in someone’s toilet.)

I wanted to find out what the result of the world had to say about Barbie’s business adventure. What I found was disappointing.

I generally share strong opinions within my close circle of friends and colleagues. However, when it comes to discounting women in business and the wealth of their contributions to the economy, I won’t sit idly by and let others minimize the tremendous contributions of my brilliant and ambitious colleagues who are female entrepreneurs.

The most objectionable was written by Jessica Roy (@jessicakroy) for Times Newsfeed entitled, New Entrepreneur Barbie Proves That the Perfect Work/Life Balance is Just a Tiny Tablet Away. However, its not just Ms. Roy who is ill-informed, Mattel’s Michelle Chidoni demonstrated her lack of insight into the world of female entrepreneurship with her comment to CNN, “We always try to make career Barbie a reflection of the times.”

Since 1997, women-owned businesses have been growing at a rate 1.5 times greater than the national average. With over 8.6 million female entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurial Barbie could have been successfully released a decade ago. (Way to stay current, Mattel.)

The title of Ms. Roy’s article for Times Newsfeed, implying that a tiny tablet is the only thing standing between the female entrepreneur and work/life balance, reflects an unawareness of the demands placed on the women business owner of today.

If work/life balance was solved that easily, we would have been first in line when tablets, tiny or otherwise, were released. Unfortunately, we were unable to attend the opening due to the many demands of business, family, and community.

The Times Newsfeed author, Jessica Roy, didn’t stop with that offense. She continued to minimize the agonizing work of entrepreneurs by stating, “Much like many real life entrepreneurs, Entrepreneur Barbie seems to have little idea of what her company actually does.” You didn’t mean to say this, did you, Jessica?

A recent study by Babson College found that women entrepreneurs:

  • Create more jobs. By 2018, women entrepreneurs will create more than half of the jobs expected to be created by small business.
  • Do more with less. On an average, women use 40% less capital for venture-backed startups than men. (We know how to “pinch a penny”.)
  • Fail less often than men. Despite less capital, women-owned businesses are more likely to survive the transition from startup to that of an established company.

This information certainly substantiates that women have the vision, capacity, and perseverance to build thriving companies. And, I suspect Barbie will be as brilliant and successful an entrepreneur as the millions of female entrepreneurs building successful enterprises.

Throughout her life, Barbie has pursued 150 other careers before deciding to launch her own business. Now, at the age of 55, Barbie is an entrepreneur.  We welcome her with open arms to the exciting world of business ownership!

Enough of my rant! I want to know what you think about the comments being made about the state of entrepreneurship for women — and Barbie’s outlook as an entrepreneur.

Stress! There isn’t an entrepreneur alive that hasn’t experienced it — along with its ill effects. Some stress is good. It sharpens our wits and compels us to get things done. Too much stress, on the other hand, clouds our vision, dulls our creativity, interrupts concentration, and stifles our performance. Stress doesn’t have to be your normal mode of operation, however. You can pursue several approaches immediately to sidestep the trap door of stress…that doesn’t cost a dime.

  1. Breathe. Sounds simple enough, although when stress hormones rush through our blood stream, its one of the first things we forget to do. The breath follows the brain. When the brain experiences stress, the breath becomes shallow. Some of us are known to “hold our breath” under stressful circumstances. When you find yourself in a stressful situation, remember to take a few big breaths to keep the oxygen flowing through your brain.
  2. Take a break. In fact, take a few breaks throughout the day. Pierre Khawand, author of The Results Curve(TM): How to Manage Focused and Collaborate, discovered after a decade of research that the best results are achieved after 40 minutes of focused work following by 20 minutes of collaboration. Former client, Dr. Lisa Berntsen’s recent study, Take Ten Outside, offers an excellent solution to sustainable performance throughout the day. Simply stated, those who take short 10-minute breaks outside “reap the benefits in well-being, productivity, creativity, and reduced stress.”
  3. Meditate. Does meditation conjure up pictures of white robes, flowing hair, and scented candles? Frankly, I have trouble sitting still so the idea of meditating spawned its own stress. However, when stress begins to impact my focus and concentration, I reach for my little secret, buddhify. Buddhify is a mobile mindfulness meditation app backed by scientific evidence of the benefits of mindfulness and meditation on mental wellbeing and concentration. The best thing of all? It includes meditation that can be used while you work online!
  4. Control caffeine consumption. Stress produces fatigue. Caffeine, obtained via coffee, tea, or energy drinks, temporarily lifts fatigue and enhances performance. Unfortunately, you burn more energy while under the influence of caffeine that causes fatigue and adds to your stress. And, round and round it goes!
  5. Get moving. Aerobic exercise is one of the greatest stress relievers available today. It pumps up endorphins, your “feel good hormones”, improves your mood, and gives you a sense of control over your day. As an added bonus, you might be interested to know that there is direct correlation between exercise and your bottom line. A bigger bottom line is a great stress reliever for many entrepreneurs.
  6. Rethink your work. Although the tactics listed above provide much needed stress relief for many business owners, it is time well-spent to reconsider your work. Examine how you work, when you work, and who you work with to resolve underlying causes of stress.

Did you know that stress at work is estimated at more than $300 billion a year in health care costs, absenteeism, and poor performance? Wow! With the promise of greater energy, clarification, higher performance, and ingenuity, it’s worth dramatically reducing stress in your business.

Although rare days exist when I wonder if Starbucks is hiring, there’s nothing more rewarding and fulfilling than being an entrepreneur. Here are the top 5 things I love about my business:

  1. Freedom to come and go as I please. Even though times exist I feel chained to my desk, I get to choose those times. I’m the “decider”.
  2. Calling the shots. Don’t like something about my business? No problem. I can change what I want whenever I want. I’m the boss of me.
  3. Working with great people. Whether its vendors or staff, I hand-select every person on my team. On that rare occasion I miss the mark, I get to rectify the situation.
  4. Deciding your worth. What is better than negotiating my own paycheck? Other than Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby ice cream, there’s nothing that comes to mind that surpasses compensation negotiations – with myself.
  5. Servicing talented clients. Probably the greatest joy about being an entrepreneur is the wealth of talent that surrounds me. I count my blessings every day for the genius I have the good fortune of coaching.

What do you love about your business?

Core Business Assessment


Brooke Billingsley

Vice President
Perception Strategies

Synnovatia is a strategic coaching firm that is detailed and knowledgeable about business. i have a small business that grew from $150K to $750K because of the goal setting and resources that Synnovatia provided. It saves me years of learning on my own.

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