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Saturday, November 18, 2017

How Can You Recover From Customer Service Blunders?

Every day for the last week my newsfeed has been riddled with customer service disasters, and it really does bring three issues to light:

Right or wrong, it happens to everyone,
There is more than one side to every story, and;
The speed at which bad publicity spreads is lightening fast.

So, what do you do? What lessons have we learned as we witnessed (rather publicly) the good, the bad and the ugly of bad customer service:

1. Offer a sincere apology - both personally and on Social Media - quickly. The catch here is that there are two levels of response. The first is to the customer that you provided poor customer service to - contact this person directly, not via Social Media channels, and offer a sincere apology for what happened. See what you can do to remedy the situation, and assure them that you will review what happened. If possible, set up a call so the sincerity of your apology can be clear. Your second response, if the incident was posted to Social Media, would appropriately be to post an apology on the relevant channels as well.

2. Take responsibility - while initially you may not know how service went awry, it did. Review what processes failed and how to improve upon them.

3.  Talk to your team - Does your team have what they need to offer excellent customer service, how can processes be revised to give them what they need? Did the poor customer service happen because training was lacking? Because communication wasn't open enough? Did your team member not feel comfortable to reach out after business hours for help? This is a constructive opportunity for the team to become a tighter and more informed unit. Embrace it!

4. Follow up - after you review with your team the highs and lows, and develop a plan to avoid such customer service mishaps in the future, reach out to your less than satisfied customer and ask them to be a part of the solution. Inform them the changes you've made, and ask for their input.

5. Try not to take it personally - as business owners we're not perfect, and neither are our staff. Even with the best of intentions, bad customer service does happen. Accept it as an opportunity for growth and development.

And of course, not all customer service blunders require a radical overhaul of your team processes. Sometimes an apology is enough, and then its time to move on. There are customers that will never be happy with what is offered, and as the business owner, you really need to dig deep to hear the full account of what happened. Don't be quick to blame your team, they may have been offering as much as they can, and were being faced with a difficult customer, determined not to be happy.

Deep breath - you've got this!

We want to hear from you! What challenges have you faced in the last 6 months, how did you overcome them? Let's learn from each other!

By Peg Murrah

For more social media tips and strategies visit PMA Web Services where we share the latest information weekly!  Grab your copy of "29 Ways You Can use Social Media to Build Your Business Right Now" here: http://www.peggymurrah.com/blog/

How To Have A Game Plan For Your Marketing

Yogi Berra once famously said, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Berra, a tremendous baseball player and manager, had an interesting way of putting things. Yet his “Yogiisms” have been quoted and repeated for good reason.
How can you get to where you want to go, if you don’t know where you want to go?
That’s just as true with your marketing as it is for guiding the Yankees to the World Series.
In order to put your business in the best possible position to grow and thrive, you need a plan in place to market it.
Now, a marketing plan is more than just a list of the things you expect to do to promote your business. A good marketing plan will include a strategy, and be created from a process that considers the best ways to communicate who you are and what you can do for people.
To help you get started, we’ve put together a 45-page guide that will teach you the 8-step marketing plan creation process, from understanding content and social media, to email marketing and SEO.
You’ll see how all of the various digital marketing elements can work together to create a steady stream of traffic, leads and sales for your business.
In “How To Craft Your Marketing Plan” you will learn:
  • What Is A Marketing Plan?
  • Why Is A Marketing Plan Important?
  • How Does Digital Marketing Work?
  • What Are The Elements Of Digital Marketing?
  • How To Create Your Plan
  • How To Change Your Plan
Plus, it includes links to a variety of key marketing resources, as well as a Marketing Plan Template.

Written By: Mike Allton

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

What You Should Know Before Starting A Business - The Exhausted Entrepreneur

"You own your own business!" is a frequent response when I meet new people. The perception is that business owners make tons of money, get the flexibility with work schedules and are not in danger of being fired or laid off. I can tell you from personal experience, owning your own business equates to a lot of responsibility and many sleepless nights. The following are a few concepts to consider before starting out on your own.

1. Examine your work ethic. If you like to sleep in until 10:00 am, wear your pajamas all day and then go out with friends for dinner and entertainment every night, you may need to stick to working for others. I keep a daily task log - some days are 3 pages in length. I wake up at 6:00 am and begin to prioritize my work load. I am responsible for meeting my deadlines. I do not have a secretary to keep track of these things. I will wrap up in the evenings with tying up loose ends and sending e-mails.

2. You need to love people. I am not kidding here. We have a service industry where the customer can fire us at any time. We work hard to treat others with dignity and respect. We need to be friendly and find a common ground with others. If you are in the business to help others and you are unkind and unfriendly, your business will dry up and wither away.

3. Budgeting is key. I use QuickBooks but other accounting software is available. If labor costs are too high, or you are working on a contract and losing money, you need to be aware of this early so that you can make adjustments. Often, in the early stages, the owner may have to defer a salary. If you hire folks, you have to be sure you can pay them a living wage. Your employees and their families are dependent on that salary and you need to take that seriously.

4. Look for new ways to grow and expand. The dynamics of business is changing. One example is the big box stores are losing revenue to the convenience of on-line shopping. You have to adjust and adapt to market trends. We offer various services, so that we have different kinds of revenue streams. We have also automated a lot of our services for the convenience of the customer. People are busy and appreciate when businesses respect their time.

5. Network with those that are successful. Look for an organization that will help you keep updated on innovations and regulations affecting your business. I have been enriched by my continued association with the Independent Water & Sewer Companies of Texas. I am able to learn from others about the trends in the water industry and the regulations impacting our industry.

6. Keep learning. Don't assume that you know everything. Take time to read trade journals, updates in state and federal regulations and attend seminars. The Texas Commission of Environmental Quality presents an annual 2-day drinking water conference in Austin and it is free to the public, but fills up quickly. I have been for six years and each time have learned new and better ways to run our water operations company.

7. Have a positive mental attitude. Everything is not going to go smoothly. There are issues that arise that have to be dealt with. If you have a difficult time managing stress and you take your temper out on others, it is crucial that you work on that before it damages your business relationships and those that work and live with you. It is difficult not to carry stress with you as a little black cloud always ready to rain on your parade. It is important that you manage the stress so that you are better equipped to deal with business operations.

8. Keep an open door to your customers and your employees. Don't hide from difficult customers or keep your head in the sand regarding negative situations in the office. Communication is key. If you are approachable and allow others to have a "safe zone" with you where they can talk about difficulties relating to the business, there is a lot you can learn. Be aware of those that are toxic, meaning, always being negative, talking about others behind their backs and being disloyal. If the opportunity comes to separate yourself from these types of people or limit your contact, it will be better for the business (and your mental health) to make the change.

9. Stay focused. When you are on your own schedule, it is easy to get side-tracked. Some interruptions are opportunities to let your business shine. Be able to discern what the unnecessary distractions are. When I was studying in law school, I had to find the bottom floor of the library in a study carrel far away from talking or footsteps. It was so important for me to laser focus on my studies that I had to remove all distractions. In the business world, it can be just putting your phone on silent and letting it go to voice mail and returning those e-mails and phone calls after the important task at hand is completed.

10. Stay professional. It may be tempting to show up to work in pajamas and a "man-bun"- but that might be the day your biggest potential client walks in and needs to be impressed. There are a few days that I need to be "in the field" with a warm jacket, boots and jeans. In the office, I keep it business casual. In meetings, I am in more business formal. You can set the tone for the work place. If others in the office have a more casual approach, just collaborate with them on an office dress code policy that is professional.

For those in the business world, this list may seem obvious. For the younger generation wanting to start out on your own, this list may not be intuitive. There are rewards from working hard as a business owner, but not without setting goals and a lot of hard work.

By Heather Nehila

Heather Nehila is the owner of Aggregate Water. To learn more about having a customer service inspection, well operation servicing, or utility billing services please visit http://www.aggregatewater.com/contact-us/

The ”State Of Solopreneurship”

The ”State of Solopreneurship”

The Internet presents unparalleled opportunity for individuals to build online businesses with freedom-creating, life-impacting results.
So goes the common wisdom. True or false? Consider…
  • the low financial risk (compared to offline business)
  • all the tools that have reduced technical barriers
  • the appeal of doing business from home (or from anywhere on the globe)
  • flexible hours, which can meet varying goals, schedules and pace
  • the “personal touch” advantage of social media
  • ease, low cost and flexibility (text, audio, visual) of communication
  • the increasing number of hours spent online (e.g., social, mobile)
These online advantages make solopreneur success possible. Prior to the mid-1990’s, solo business opportunities were rare and local. Since then, opportunities abound online.
A multi-billion-dollar industry now caters to millions of “solos.” But how likely is a would-be solopreneur to succeed, and at what level? Do your chances live up to all the hype?
Consider the opposite ends of the spectrum of companies that market to solopreneurs…
  • Scammy “Get Rich Quick” (GRQ) and “Make Money Online” (MMO) operators are masters at writing convincing copy that fools people that “this time it’s different — it’s easy!” It’s not. 
  • Super Bowls ads by billion dollar businesses such as Wix (sitebuilder) and GoDaddy (Web hosting) are more subtle as they over-inflate expectations…
    • GoDaddy — “The Internet loves what you’re doing. Build a site in under an hour.”
    • Wix — “To succeed in a disruptive world, Wix makes it easy to create your own stunning website.”
Designing a gorgeous website is indeed easy. But building a successful web-based business takes much more than “a stunning website.” It takes an entire step-by-step process, of which site design is merely part of one step.
And beware the false promises and tricks of the MMO operators (e.g., fake reviews). Many will bleed you dry if they can, all while you fail.
Sound all negative? It’s not!
The Internet truly is a unique window in history that enables the individual to build a profitable online business. But with so many companies chasing the solopreneur dollar, how do you figure out which ones deliver a product that helps you succeed?
Start by knowing what to avoid…
  • First, ignore clever sales copy or a Super Bowl ad. If it was easy or as simple as claimed, everyone would already be rich.
  • Second, look for verifiable proof of success such as this. Words can be misleading. But data, gathered with a valid process, cannot be faked.
This series of studies does exactly that. It takes the “pulse of solopreneurship” by ignoring the promises. These studies look past the words to deliver rigorously gathered numbers. Words can mislead, but numbers gathered by fair process are objective and verifiable.

The Clear Choice For Solopreneur Success

Series of Head-to-Head Studies
  1. Wealthy Affiliate Review & Comparison
  2. GoDaddy Review & Comparison (new!)
  3. Wix Review & Comparison (coming soon)
  4. WordPress Review & Comparison (coming soon)

Background Story

We recently discovered how a competitor’s affiliates create fake reviews comparing it to SBI!. Solopreneurs, when searching for “Solo Build It! reviews,” found what seemed to be a common opinion — the same competitor was pronounced as the #1 recommendation by all.
Little did they know that those “reviews” were written after extensive training by the company and that the authors were earning substantial commissions on those sales. These affiliates were happy to take your money by misleading you to a product that delivered terrible results.
Wait, how did we know the product was terrible? After studying the product, we found it to be shallow, with some bad advice. Nor did the company offer any verifiable proof of success, such as we provide. Despite our proof, folks were believing those reviews (none of which provided proof, either) to be true.
Tip: If a company can’t provide proof of success, verified by you by using Alexa.com, SimilarWeb.com and SEMrush.com, something is wrong. They would if they could.
How could we more precisely prove which product delivered more success? No company had ever claimed to deliver better results than SBI! — none do.
Solution? We performed a head-to-head study comparing our results to theirs. It detailed the full methodology, which allowed anyone to double-check our reported results by repeating it for themselves. (No one ever did.)
The results? SBI! was 33 times (33X) better at delivering high-traffic sites, while 87% of the other company’s sites were invisible (zero or near-zero traffic).
The lesson was clear. But this was merely the most blatant example…
Prospective solopreneurs are misled by sharp sales copy and snazzy ads. Worse, they’re misled by illegal, fake reviews. Our research led us to write the definitive series of articles about fake reviews. Learn to recognize them and protect yourself.
While fraudulent marketing is widespread in the Internet marketing world, you can be misled into buying just about anything (see this article on fake reviews about mattresses(!) by Fast Company).

So How Do You Protect Yourself?

Which product should you use to build a life-changing online business? How do you figure out the optimal process, let alone how to optimize each step? How do you avoid the scams? How do you avoid the products that aren’t scams, but which won’t deliver your goals?
Save yourself a great deal of trial-and-error time and money. Avoid false starts that can waste weeks, months, even years of your time. How?
Ignore the copy and claims. Check out the numbers. Look for hard data that supports the promises and claims. 
Our head-to-head study of the competitor’s web sites shocked us. Their clients were doing worse than we had guessed. We wondered how solopreneurs do, in general. So…
Why not apply the same objective, scientific studies (transparent and reproducible) to determine the overall status of solopreneurship?
Before going further… let’s clarify the meaning of the term “solopreneur.” Although it’s fairly intuitive, it includes many types of individuals with widely varying goals. So…

What Is a Solopreneur?

Paraphrasing from the Urban Dictionary, a solopreneur is…
An entrepreneur who works alone, ‘solo,’ running a business single-handedly. S/he might hire contractors on a project-by-project basis, but retains full responsibility for the running of the business.”
In short, they do it all, from sitebuilding to tax returns, from traffic- and brand-building to customer support. The term includes a wide range of individuals…
  • Your “solo biz” can be as simple as a high traffic website that generates passive income by selling ads and products through affiliate programs.
  • Your business may grow to the point where you require help, hiring paid contractors and/or employees to develop, market and support sales of your very own products.
Regardless of the ultimate size and income of your business, you’re a “solopreneur” if you want to start your very own online business, on your own. You may reach a point where you outgrow the “solo” mentality, but that discussion is a bit farther down.
When you create your own original content, you are in total control. You own the content you create. That content attracts new visitors who come to like and trust you (“PREselling“), which facilitates the final step, monetization (more info here). You own it all.

Who Do We Exclude From the Definition of “Solopreneurship?”

No matter what you do or how you do it (e.g., blogger or vlogger), you need traffic to drive sales. There are two ways to build traffic…
  1. Grow your traffic by creating your own content (e.g., text, image, video).
  2. “Buy” visitors from high-traffic, third-party platforms (e.g., eBay or etsy, Google or Facebook ads).
Which is better? The answer to that is easy if you want to own, and be in control of, your own business. Here’s why…
If you don’t own your own traffic, you’re at the mercy of third-party sites…
  • You don’t really own your own business when an increase in fees by eBay or Amazon Stores cuts profits by 30%, or when non-financial rule changes makes it harder to do business. 
  • If you choose to depend on advertising, prices tend to increase. The day you stop paying for ads is the day traffic stops. You never really own your traffic.
On the other hand, if you create your own original content, you are in control. You own your site’s visitors, newsletter subscribers and followers (which grow organically)…
They are yours and it’s all free. Your audience becomes large enough to monetize in a variety of ways, from selling ads to selling your own products.
The downside is that it takes more work to create your own content, more time for traffic to build through organic search, supplemented by the brand-building efforts of social media. Results are quicker when traffic comes from targeted Google/Facebook/Bing ads…
Just give them your credit card, figure out the ad platform, click, and here comes some traffic. There’s one problem for solopreneurs, though…
Few people will buy a stick of gum from an individual they don’t know, let alone like and trust. But if you sell your own product and if it has a high enough margin and if folks will buy coming from an ad, buying ads is profitable…
But you will never be in control of your own destiny.
So, when discussing solopreneurs, we mean those who truly control their futures. You may use other ways to supplement traffic, but you don’t depend on them.
So dislocations by third parties cannot hurt you. You and only you own your business, so much so that it builds value beyond just the profits — you can sell it for an appreciable multiple of sales revenue.
That is why we suggest that you develop your own traffic. Develop original Content that OVERdelivers. The combination of site and social content builds Traffic — visitors who grow to like and trust you (your “Brand of One,” aka “PREselling”). Then you Monetize it.
We call the process  T  P  M. To summarize, Content builds targeted Traffic, which is PREsold into trusting your Brand of One. Finally, you Monetize this trusting audience.
Another Platform That We Exclude
There’s another legitimate way for individuals to earn income online. If you want to sell a service (e.g., editing or programming), Fiverr and other freelance platforms (that connect service providers with clients) can earn you some income.
This can be an excellent short-term solution if you have an in-demand skill and need to generate income quickly. Be aware, though…
You don’t actually build your own business this way. You are, once again, dependent on the platform. Any time you depend on the platform, you aren’t in control. You may earn income, but the business is as durable as the platform’s next major decision.
We exclude this type of “solo” effort since it is not a solo-entrepreneurial effort. You “merely” build a job for yourself. Being self-employed may be exactly what you need.
If you also have a solopreneurial itch, you can simultaneously build your own business, perhaps related to a niche connected to your service. Ultimately, you generate enough traffic to not only sell your service, but to build a business that offers that service to others.
When you control the traffic, you control how big to grow that business! How big do you want to grow? That brings us to the next point…
What Distinguishes Solopreneurs From Entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurs start with loftier visions and bigger goals. They often raise money through Venture Capitalists or angel investors at an early stage of development. They almost always start with a small team of 2-4 people.
For the purposes of this discussion, we also exclude “entrepreneurs” who start this way.
We focus, instead, on the solopreneur…
Solopreneurs have different values, such as freedom, control and work-life balance. Those values often determine the financial goal of the business. Consider, for example…
  • the spouse who wants to stay at home to raise the children and still contribute to the family income.
  • the individual who hates her “j-o-b” and wants greater control over life.
You’re a solopreneur if you want to start your own business, but you do not want the bother of managing people or being responsible to investors. You may not even want to deal with customers, preferring the lower returns of passive income.
The downside? 
Being “solo” limits the amount of time for growing the business, which in turn limits size and income. The “true” solopreneur happily accepts that tradeoff — staying small means “keep it simple.” This may raise a question (which we touched on earlier)…

Can a Solopreneur Grow Into an Entrepreneur?

Yes, indeed. The two are not mutually exclusive.
Most solopreneurs start with limited goals. Some surpass those goals. They may be content to “Keep it Simple-Solo” (“KISS”), in which case they will find a limit, largely determined by the amount of “solo time” they’re willing to put into the business.
For others, though, strong indications of solo success may waken “the business beast within.” They become inspired by goals of greater growth than originally foreseen. For that, they must develop a willingness to add staff, deal with customers, etc. — the logistics of a larger business.
You may not realize such high-level goals yet. But if and when you do, you’ll relish these business-building challenges. Take this big step, though, one little step at a time. Be sure of your path — not everyone wants to manage others, but if you do…
This change in mindset is “reverse entrepreneurialism.” As a solopreneur, you generate enough cash flow (e.g., $60,000-$200,000+) to bootstrap growth without raising capital from investors, which keeps you totally in control.
As you add more contractors (on an “as needed basis”), you’ll find a need for regular part- or full-time employees. They perform duties for which you have neither the time nor inclination, freeing you to focus on growing the business.
When does a solopreneur become an entrepreneur? It’s all in the size of the dream. Even with an employee or two, you may still consider yourself to be a solopreneur…
Solopreneurs become entrepreneurs when they “snap” into a “grow a big business” mindset, when they learn to hire well and build teams that work… when they learn to lead.
Few solopreneurs start with goals of this size, but it’s a viable option for the solopreneur who reaches a certain level of success and who discovers “the entrepreneur within.” Even should they remain solopreneurs, a business with 2 committed employees and strong monetization models can generate 7-figure incomes.
The more important point, though, is this. As long as you bring BAM 💥 to the table, and assuming your expectations and goals are appropriate to your desired work-life balance…
It’s all up to you!
By now, you may be wondering how likely success is. If so, perfect timing, because that’s the next topic. It’s going to bring us full circle to the “Status of Solopreneurship” studies…
The Illusion of Survivorship Bias
How often do solopreneurs succeed, and at what levels? 
Of the tens of millions of would-be solopreneurs who have tried, are trying, or will try in the future, how many succeed? It’s less than you think. Over-optimistic expectations are due to the…
  • illusions of “mass success” established by the solopreneur industry (we have covered this — see above, and insist on data, not words). We talked earlier about the massive industry geared to sell services, tools, advice, and so forth to solopreneurs. Don’t expect them to report low success rates.
  • selection error introduced by survivorship bias
Survivorship Bias?
Suppose a ship sinks. Five out of 100 passengers survive. When asked why they survived, all 5 were found to have prayed intensely to be saved. Is the conclusion that “prayer works?”
No, because only the survivors were surveyed. The odds are that the 95 on the bottom of the sea prayed just as hard. It’s just that no one surveyed them. Let’s translate that to our field…
The media writes about the few, but very visible, “survivors” — the winners. No one covers or sees the many, but invisible, failures.
We may read all about the glamor of being a superstar YouTuber or blogger. Millennials find Instagram stars and figure they can do the same. People follow successful bloggers and figure it looks easy.
If those bloggers write about Internet marketing or other topics related to online business-building, it’s all about how to succeed — yet more selection bias. There’s nothing wrong with that, except there’s a special kind of irony here…
Even the most highly successful pros who are ethical and create excellent content for would-be solopreneurs do not know how rarely the “silent majority” of their solopreneur visitors/followers succeed.
They, too, only tend to notice the sharpest followers, those who are doing well. They don’t notice those who are failing.
And the major media don’t write about the hundreds of invisible failures for every startup that they cover. They cover the successful ones, such as this story from Forbes or this article on “Million Dollar One-Person Businesses.” Interesting stories, but…
“Selection bias of survivors” results in a skewed expectation of success.
You, though, if you’re serious about starting an online business, will be investing a significant amount of time and energy. You deserve a better idea of what your chances are. Most people can’t figure it out on their own. Given the right tools and process, though, we’ve learned that it’s amazing what “everyday people” can accomplish online.
What Is the Solopreneur Success Rate?
It’s lower than we thought. How low?
We’ll get to that in the studies. And those studies also contain good news…
There are things you can do, many of them basic, to increase your chances of reaching your goals.
We publish these studies for 2 reasons…
1 ) to give you, the would-be solopreneur, the ability to make the best decision for you, based on actual data (and not false promises)
2 ) to encourage “the solopreneur industry” to care more about client success — reduce the preventable causes of failure and increase the rate of success.
If you measure the rates and levels of success, you can introduce programs to improve those levels. So…
Do you sell a core product to solopreneurs, one that can spell the difference between success and failure? If so, and if your marketing materials suggest success, you owe prospective clients…
  1. the information and tools that they need to succeed
  2. verifiable proof that you matter, that you do deliver increased levels of solo success.
The goals of would-be solopreneurs are too important to continue current marketing practices. For instance, affiliates who continue to hurt people with their fake reviews.
It’s bad enough to write reviews that push the second-best car, sound systems, or smart phone — whatever pays the most. Choosing #2 is not nearly as life-impacting as being tricked into choosing an inferior online business product that prevents the life-impacting change that people are ready to work for.
Solopreneurs are independence-seeking individuals, good people with important personal goals. They may be just starting out and innocent, or they may be as cynical as it gets (if they’ve been burned too many times). But they all share one common trait…
They all share the desire for the life-impacting results of building their very own online business success. Honor that.

Why Do These Studies? We’re Realistic…

Do we expect immoral affiliates of smaller companies, or multinational companies (who place “shareholder value” first) to change their practices because of this post? Sadly, of course not.
In fact, only one fake-review-writing affiliate of the other company had the conscience to remove his review when we pointed all the affiliates to our study that SBI! is 33X better. The logic was rigorous and its conclusions are verifiable. No one has re-done the study to contradict its truth. Yet only one affiliate took down the inferior recommendations (proven to hurt your chance of success).
Nor do we expect the “BigCo’s” to change, at least not until enough would-be solopreneurs insist upon seeing verifiable track records. Failing that, folks get led to products that are sub-optimal, at best.
These studies are therefore primarily meant to help you make smart decisions on the basis of data. Making the right first decision (which product to use) is the best way to maximize your chance of online success.
So here is how the “State of Solopreneurship” proceeds. Each study slices solopreneurship differently because each product is different. For example, how do folks using GoDaddy do? What about Wix? WordPress? And so forth.
By examining major products such as these, we get multiple sets of results for solopreneurs who use different types of products. GoDaddy, Wix, and WordPress appeal primarily to solopreneurs who are attracted to each for different reasons, largely marketing-driven instead of needs- and results-driven.
How well do solopreneurs do with each? How big is the difference in results? Over time, the studies will have covered such a high percent of solopreneurs that UNbiased and clear conclusions will emerge.
Completing this ground-breaking effort will take many studies, each of which involves a great deal of work…
  • develop an algorithm to filter a fair solopreneur selection out of millions of sites.
  • review 500 sites (out of 10,000 filtered sites) manually to verify the algorithm
  • present the results, organizing the data into various levels of success
  • draw conclusions about which product makes the most sense for you.
Since 1997, our only focus has been solopreneur success. The upcoming studies provide an analysis that’s long overdue. Together, they provide strong perspective and direction for solopreneurs who have yet to succeed online, or to would-be solopreneurs who decide to go for it and try to grab this brass ring.
We hope that this will become an invaluable resource to help you get off to the best start possible. Or, if you have tried and failed up to now, we hope you use this to find a better route. You’ll see that success ispossible. A large part of it is choosing the right tools upfront.
Sidebar: Some of these studies may or may not point out that SBI! Is the right product for you. Our attitude to that is the following…
Let the chips fall where they may.
Just like our original study that proved SBI! is 33X better than a product promoted by fake affiliate reviews, we could not fake the upcoming studies, even if we wanted to.
SBI! is not the best product for every solopreneur online. The data from the studies will point you to the best products for you to use.

The Clear Choice For Solopreneur Success

Series of Head-to-Head Studies
  1. Wealthy Affiliate Review & Comparison
  2. GoDaddy Review & Comparison (new!)
  3. Wix Review & Comparison (coming soon)
  4. WordPress Review & Comparison (coming soon)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Why The Mindset Of An Entrepreneur Is Important

Various emotions and thoughts cross your mind when engaging in the idea of owning your own business. Many entrepreneurs get a sense of excitement while also feeling overwhelmed. You then relish in the idea that you can be your own boss that writes and cashes your own checks. However, shortly after all the initial excitement has passed, you begin to wonder will my product or service work, will it sell, or will I be able to take care of myself? With so many questions that you establish a great response for, doubts and uncertainty often formulate an antithesis in the shadows of our mind. Preparing and reframing your mindset about yourself and your business will determine how you operate and make your business successful.

I once heard Bishop T. D. Jakes say in his sermon entitled "A Changed Mind," you can never change your reality without first changing your mind. This statement has stuck with me ever since. It sounds so simple, but when you think about it, it is powerful. How often have you had preconceived notions about someone or something until you interacted with it or them and all a sudden, your perception is no longer the same from before your encounter? For instance, getting on a roller-coaster is frightening (especially the Fury 325 at Carowinds) but once you get on and scream to the top of your lungs when it stops most people want to ride it again. It wasn't that the ride got less scary it's just your mindset changed. What you believe will determine how you respond. If you're constantly thinking, I cannot do this or I know "it" will fail, it is more likely that you will not be successful. It's not because you did not have a good idea, or you weren't capable, but you could not see past your doubt to see the success that could have been.

When starting a business, you must understand that there will be natural deterrents that may arise, whether it be capital, office or storage space, or even market potential if you are trying to create a demand. Nevertheless, how you view these obstacles makes all the difference. Having limited capital may require you to utilize every possible resource you may have. Do not be afraid or too prideful to ask for help. Not having enough office or storage space will make you strengthen your organization skills. Creating a demand for your product or service will cause you to be more creative than you ever been. It's all how you perceive a challenge to be. Even with the unknowns do not allow fear to cripple you, instead let it be a motivator. We have an innate ability to fight or flight in any given situation. Choose to fight! Refuse to give up because of your past mistakes. In fact, reframe those mistakes as learning opportunities and never doubt your ability to break bad habits.

I would also like to stress the importance of having confidence in yourself. Think of it this way, if you had to buy a product or service from Eeyore or Tigger (characters from Christopher Robbin's Winnie the Pooh) who would you patronize? Eeyore, the humdrum individual who was not sure of himself and found every opportunity to tell you how miserable his life was or Tigger the jovial, outgoing, charismatic who loved to laugh and have fun even when working? I would go for a Tigger every time. How you view yourself is how others will view you. Be your own motivator and surround yourself with cheerleaders. Having a good support system is very integral in the pursuit of turning your dream into a reality.

Finally, as the adage goes, birds of a feather flock together. Surround yourself with successful entrepreneurs. Glean from their past business mistakes and triumphs. Read entrepreneurial magazines and books, network by joining professional groups or clubs, and engage and talk with potential customers about the product or service you are trying to offer. Be unyielding in your pursuit of changing your mindset when it comes to yourself and your business. What you believe is how you will succeed. Believe the best, speak life into your business, and shut down the voice of your insecurities. After all of that take the leap of faith and fly.

By Tosh R Comer

Tosh R. Comer is a proud graduate of North Carolina Central University, presently working at Fayetteville State University, and actively building EPICS Small Business Consulting. She is also currently enrolled in the Masters of Entrepreneurship Degree Program at Western Carolina University.  You can reach her via email at  [mailto:epicssbc@gmail.com]epicssbc@gmail.com or her website [http://www.epicssbc.com]http://www.epicssbc.com.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

5 Tips For Young Entrepreneurs

Starting a business is not for the faint of heart. When the economy is soft, and jobs are limited, entrepreneurship is often the best way for a young adult to gain practical experience in their field of choice. To be sure, it can be scary, but so can sitting around waiting for a call for an interview for that perfect position.

With that in mind, here are five tips for planning your first entrepreneurial venture.

1. Find your obsession. "Find your obsession" is different from "follow your passion." Your passion is something you love doing. Your obsession is something you cannot live without doing. And there's a difference. A passion is sometimes borne from a hobby, for example, photography. You may be passionate about photography, but when the pressure is on to make money with photography that passion can wane in the drudgery of the daily work. Conversely, if you are obsessive about photography, rarely will any part of the work seem like drudgery. Passion will burn out; obsession rarely does. Obsession is what you need when starting a business.

2. Decide on your operational end-game. Once you find your obsession, ask yourself this: Do you want to have a "practice" or a "business?" A "practice" is a business that is dependent on your direct involvement, whereas a "business" can become independent of your involvement and still be successful.

A "business" in this context is one where you can rely on the collective work of others you employ to produce income, or survive as an ongoing concern if you were unable to work in the business on a daily basis. It can be bought or sold regardless of your involvement.

Having a practice means it is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the work output of the business from your personal output. For example, if you have a unique skill or ability on which the income of your business rests primarily on you to do the work (e.g., an accountant, yoga instructor, consultant, or tattoo artist) you are likely to have a practice. It is unlikely this type of business could not be bought or sold without your involvement.

There's nothing wrong with either option, but it is important to understand what kind of business operation you want five years after you start because it will shape your decisions today. If you know you are going to be happy making a living as a tattoo artist chasing your obsession, then your business decisions will be made with this in mind. However, if your goal is to have a tattoo shop with ten employees in five years, your approach needs to be different. Keep in mind that most small businesses start as practices and evolve. Moreover, those who just wanted to "do their thing" end up trying to manage a business and are no longer working at their obsession.

3. Start your business "on the side." Many say "jump" into entrepreneurship without a net. Having done it that way many times, I suggest you do not unless you have no other choice. The financial pressure is too high for most people. The pressure to make rent payments, buy food, and put gas in your car will have you chasing business that isn't worth your time or in your area of focus so that you can survive. You will lose focus of what you are trying to accomplish, and few obsessions can withstand that pressure. My advice: Start your business on the side if you can. Get or maintain a job to have some income flowing. You will feel less pressure and be able to stay focused on our business goals. Then strive for your "choice number" with your business income.

4. Determine your "choice number." Your choice number is that number which allows you the opportunity to choose between going full-time with your business or continuing to work for someone else. It is easy to calculate: Add up all of your current monthly expenses (all of them, Netflix, Hulu, gas, car payments, rent, food, beer, or concert tickets), then add 25% more to that number. So, let's say your monthly expenses add up to $1,500. Add 25% more-$375.00-for emergencies, and you are up to $1,875.00. I would suggest rounding up for a little extra cushion to $2,000. So, $2,000 would be your "choice number." Once your business is generating $2,000 per month, you have enough money coming in to cover your monthly costs and the choice as to whether to keep your day job or go full-time into your business with some financial security is now yours. Bear in mind the choice number can fluctuate some, so remember to revise accordingly.

5. Take advantage of reputable free resources. There are many, many free resources to help new entrepreneurs. My favorite starting point is SCORE ( http://www.score.org ). There you can find local resources, webinars, on-demand courses, as well as other resources to help you get started. The U.S. Small Business Administration (    https://www.sba.gov ) also offers many free resources and tips. Sometimes your local community college will offer free or low-cost courses for new entrepreneurs.

Although these tips do not cover everything a new entrepreneur might need to know, they are a good starting point for planning your first step into your own business.

By David Harkins

David Harkins is a serial entrepreneur, which is a more professional way of saying he is still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.

When not working for himself, he has had a fulfilling career in marketing, advising both large and small companies including several in the Fortune 500 and many of America's largest nonprofit organizations.

He has extensive training and education in advertising communications and media production. He holds a Bachelors of Business Administration with an emphasis in Entrepreneurial/Small Business Management, and he is pursuing a Master's Degree in Entrepreneurship.

In his spare time, he consults, speaks, writes, hikes, explores, and creates art. Although, not necessarily in that order.

He writes about entrepreneurship at [http://www.mrharkins.com]http://www.mrharkins.com.

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Can Your Passion Become A Business?

If you start a business with something you're passionate about, you'll enjoy working on it. The time you spend on your business will be both fulfilling and enjoyable.

However, sometimes your passions aren't good enough to guarantee success. Are there enough people that are also interested in your chosen favourite hobby, pastime or interest for you to build a successful business around it?

Knowing that you have a viable market is important before spending time and money trying to start business based on your passion. The following tips will help you to choose a niche, and will give you the best chance at success before you even begin.

Google Auto-Complete

Whenever you start typing into the Google search engine, it attempts to finish your sentence or phrase. You can use this to your advantage. Type just one word of a potential niche market into Google, but don't hit enter or click on the magnifying glass.

You'll see that Google has suggested several popular searches based on that single word or phrase you typed. These are searches that have been carried out thousands and thousands of times, so you know that there is a market out there relevant to those Google auto-complete listings.

Online Forums

If you know exactly what problems need to be solved in your potential market that would enable you to sell products into that market that people want.

To learn what problems your potential audience may have, type "XXX forums" into your favorite search engine. Fill in the "XXX" with your prospective area of interest. The results you will get are online forums where people discuss that particular topic. You would be amazed at the number of forums and Facebook groups you can find on the web for just about any topic.

This will help you to see if a particular niche has a big enough audience to start a business around your passion.

Question And Answer Websites

People go to websites like Quora, Wiki.how and Yahoo Answers to get their questions answered and their problems solved. Search on these sites for specific keywords and phrases, and you can see how much desire there is in a particular niche. You also see the exact questions people are asking, which make excellent headlines for blog posts, articles, eBooks and subject lines for emails.

The Google Keyword Planner

The Google Keyword Planner shows you how many monthly searches are performed for a particular keyword phrase. Type "Google keyword planner" into the Google search engine, and follow the link provided. Ensure that you check the selection for "exact phrase" search.

Type in keywords or phrases relevant to your potential niche. When you find a search term with 10,000 to 100,000 monthly searches, that is a good range which limits your competition, while also providing enough financial viability.

Niche market selection is an important part of building a business. Knowing that you have a viable market is vital before you spend your hard-earned time and money. Download these 2 free reports to help you to choose a profitable niche and give yourself the best chance for success: http://jonallo.com/onlineniche

By Jon Allo