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30 Do’s And 20 Don’ts In Starting A Small Business

Small scale businesses are easier to set up compared to the middle or large scale businesses that require more time, feasibility reports, ad...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Standard Social Networking Advice Is To Go Where Your Audience Is....But Where Is That?

The standard social network advice is to “go where your audience is.” For most, that means Facebook…
That sounds like good advice. After all, “everyone” is on Facebook.

The catch?  It’s hard to reach enough folks from “everyone” to build a following. And then it’s just as hard to reach a decent percentage of those folks. For every 100 people who follow you on Facebook, only 6 will see your content in their feed…
And it’s getting harder…
Since Facebook announced that it will start giving higher priority to content from friends and family over brands, that “6%” has probably dropped further.  

“It’s all in the name of a better experience,” they claim.
Um, no…
It’s about forcing solopreneurs to advertise to reach those they’ve converted into followers.
After all, if someone engages with your Facebook page more than they do with a friend’s, shouldn’t your posts be rewarded with greater priority?
So, are we saying not to use Facebook?
Nope. Just don’t let its ginormous number of users be a huge factor in your decision-making. Once a network has passed the 100,000,000 mark, what matters most are…
  1. network relevance/fit with your target audience, and
  2. can you actually grow a following and then reach them?
We’ll talk about relevance/fit in a future blog post. Today, let’s think about WINNABILITY.  The must-ask question…

Which network enables me to win the largest and most engaged following?

Think of social media as a game – several games, actually.  Each game (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, etc.) has a set of rules that makes it different.
That difference determines two key points…
1) The nature of its users. To oversimplify…
  • Facebook = general
  • Pinterest = visual, discovery
  • Twitter = news/insight-oriented
  • Instagram = visual, “cool” (younger)
2) Winnability.  Understanding the user is key to winnability. Few understand this simple-yet-important point: The game with the best rules for you gives you the best chance to win. You need to know the…
  1. Nature of users
  2. Nature of marketers
  3. Influencer marketing friendliness (how easy it is to reach out and build relationships)

Instagram’s Hashtag Rule

Instagram is much more winnable than any other major social medium. And it’s all due to its hashtag rules.
Hashtags are to (most) social media what keywords are to search engines.  They are how people discover you.
What’s so special about Instagram’s hashtag rule?…
  1. They actually do get found and bring targeted people to your account!
  2. You may use up to 30. If you know how, you can cast a BIG, targeted net,one that catches tuna but not dolphins (just don’t include “#dolphins” in your set of 30).
Note: In August, 2017, Pinterest has changed its stance on and treatment of hashtags. Details and best practices are still vague at this time, but could factor into your “most winnable network” decision in the future.

How to Perform Better Than 95% of Instagramers

Don’t let the size of a social network sway you. Once a network has passed the 100 million mark, it’s more important to think about…
  1. Relevance.  Is your target audience there?
  2. Winnability.  Can you actually grow a following and reach folks every time you post?
So what’s the most winnable social network (currently)? Instagram, because of hashtags.
Hashtags are how people discover you. On Instagram you can use up to 30 of them, allowing you to cast a great BIG targeted net, as mentioned above.

How to Win With Hashtags

  • Use the 30 hashtags allowed. You’ll see advice to the contrary (“it’s cool to use fewer”). Ignore it.
  • Use words that people would use as search terms. High counts may only indicate popularity among content creators. To improve your hashtag selection (and your results!) think about what keywords the searcher would use.
  • Avoid hashtags with too-low or too-high counts. Ever notice “TOP RESULTS” after a search at Instagram? People click on them! You want to be there!  It’s tough to rank for high counts, though. And ranking for low counts is pointless. No one is searching!

How Do You Find the Right Range For You?

Great question. Here’s a slick technique…
Examine your last 10 posts.  Add up…
  • the number of likes
  • 3x the number of comments (Why 3x? Because comments are a higher form of engagement than likes, so you want to weigh them more heavily.)
Now divide by 10 to get your “average Instagram engagement.”
Next, search for some hashtags that you think are relevant to your post. Look at the “Top Posts.” What engagement numbers (likes plus comments) do those top posts have? Do most of them have numbers within 25% (plus or minus) of your “average Instagram engagement”? You have a winner.
So, if your “average Instagram engagement” is 200, for example, you want to find hashtags where the top posts have engagement numbers between 150 and 250.
An example?  Sure. Have a beeeeautiful pic of Southbank, London?

Which hashtag are you going to use for this pic?

Is Instagram for Everyone?

Depends on your niche.
Instagram is winnable. But if your audience ain’t there, there’s nothing to win.
How can you tell who’s there?
Got a visual niche?  You really should be on Instagram.
Not visual? Search Instagram for some of your most common keywords – your competitors may have figured out a way to make the “unvisual” visual.  You’d be surprised at what a little creativity can do!
No niche competitors? You may be better off at Facebook, Pinterest and/or Twitter!

Bottom Line Takeaways?

When choosing which social network(s) to use, ask two questions…
  1. Is the social network right for your niche audience? No point being there if your audience isn’t!
  2. How easy is it to build and reach an ENGAGED FOLLOWING? This determines how valuable a social media channel will become for your business.
Also, remember that hashtags are how people discover you (like keywords in search).  Instagram’s hashtag rule makes it the most winnable social network, so long as you…
  1. use the full 30 hashtags allowed
  2. use hashtags that people actually search for
  3. choose “Goldilocks” hashtags (neither too high nor too low).
Assuming your audience uses Instagram, the “rules of the game” make it easy to win!
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Planting Seeds For Sustained Business Success...How To Think Strategically

Melissa's mind races, all day long. She's a small business owner, and between that and her family demands, she jumps from decision to decision quickly. It's often a whack-a-mole situation, where she gets one thing dealt with and quickly moves on to the next.
That feels good to Melissa, most of the time. She has a sense of movement, of getting stuff done. She is a do-er! A woman of action. Think Wonder Woman with those cool bracelets.
Though things move quickly in Wonder Woman's... err, Melissa's world, she sometimes gets tripped up by her fast thinking.
While momentum and movement are important in business, some decisions simply require you to slow down and think more strategically.
For things like hiring, pricing, or defining your ideal audience, where the consequences of a bad decision are significant, slow thinking is required.
To help slow down your thinking when it's an important issue, use this highly evolved tool: pen and paper. There's something that happens in our brains when you write instead of using the computer. You have a closer connection to what you're writing down, and you are also forced to think at the speed of your writing. It slows down that rapid stream of consciousness, like Melissa's. Write down all the details of your issue.
Give yourself time to think things over and get the necessary information.
For those of us who aren't Wonder Women (or Superman), we tend to seek information that agrees with what we've already decided to believe. So do your own fake news filtering and ask yourself, "How do I know this is true?" before accepting information as the basis for a decision. It's a big value-added step.
Put on the brakes when you need time. "Let me think about it and I'll get back to you" is a very useful response.
If it's a client and you want to send the message that they are important and that you're not just floating in a pool drinking umbrella drinks while they're waiting, you can elaborate with a little more detail, like: "I need to do some research" or "I'll check in with my colleagues so I can give you a decision that will help you best".
To get the most out of your decision time, practice solitude without distractions. There's something about water and nature that profoundly liberates our thinking. Set aside time for solitude each day, if you can.
Another benefit of this slow-down is that you can think strategically. Strategy is the big-picture view. When I'm working with clients, I often start by distilling strategy into just two questions:
1. How do you want to be perceived? This question is about brand alignment and how you're projecting your values.
2. How do you want to contribute? This question is about what you choose to offer and where you can offer the best value. It's also about impact: what kind of positive contribution do you want to make?
These two questions will put you solidly on the path of thinking strategically about your business.
Successful people have developed a habit of slow thinking. They do it because the temporary discomfort of slowing down is subordinate to the impact that they could have.
Like Melissa, you can develop this habit too! Cultivate the ability to slow down and think strategically. It plants valuable seeds that you can harvest for abundance in future.

Ursula Jorch, MSc, MEd, mentors entrepreneurs starting their businesses and seasoned entrepreneurs in transition to create the business of their dreams. Her coaching programs provide knowledge, support, clarity, inspiration, and a community of like-minded entrepreneurs to empower you to reach your goals. Start with a free guide and other valuable info at http://www.WorkAlchemy.com.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Small Business Owners Tips On Eliminating Organizational Waste To Increase Profits

You've heard it said often... Management can be broken down like this; eliminate, automate, delegate. You must always eliminate anything (and everything) that is not working, is wasteful, too costly, has no return on investment (ROI), and is not making the right kind of progress for your business.
Automate everything you can. This includes client reminders, billing, marketing, promotions, follow-ups, etc.
Delegation is REALLY important, and most often not done. It's not done enough because we (you, me and most everyone) has a hard time "letting go." Basically, we're control freaks. You must determine your value per hour and NEVER do work that is below that pay level. Begin by delegating (outsourcing) all the things you loath.
It will instantly free your time for doing "HUBU" - your Highest Use and Best Use of your time to attract the next big client.
No one talks about how to eliminate unproductive routines, corporate bureaucracy and 'administration trivia' that kills ambition and sap energy for far too many employees. Organizational Drag is demoralizing for employees and a waste for companies, which badly need the full energy and commitment of all their workers to keep or make the business profitable.
No one talks about how to evaluate the true causes of organizational drag --- all the practices, procedures and structures that waste time and limit output --- not just the symptoms. The symptoms may seem minor annoyances and inconveniences that could be wiped out without much effort - too many process steps to get orders out, nonproductive meetings, meaningless goals, and time wasted on work that no one will even care about.
But those symptoms stem from fundamental problems. Companies wind up in trouble and squander the time, talent and energy of their workforce when they lose focus, spend money on things that don't make a difference to employees or the future of the business, and use operating models that are out of whack.
Below are some areas that waste can be eliminated from an organization or restructured to help it to become more profitable.
• Board of Directors --- being complacent and procrastinating on leadership, governance and compliance issues. Also, delaying or distorting strategic decisions that overlook waste and high costs, hastily conceived and harmful cost reductions, missed new product and business development opportunities and poor long-term investments that destroys shareholder value(profits).
• President - wasted authority, responsibility, ability, talent, technology and knowledge by spending to little time on 'strategic issues/vision' and 'operational improvements strategy' by accepting positions work on multiple boards that are not relevant to the company but provide networking and resume building opportunities for them. Not executing plans that improve shareholder value(profits).
• Administration (wasted efforts) --- outdated technology, lack of current policies and procedures, poor tracking of costs, expenses, lost files, inadequate reports, inefficient ordering methods, no competitive bidding, facilities inefficient for operations and employees mindset of 'we know what we are doing'. Senior executives having too many meetings that have little or no direct impact on company value (profits).
• Human Resources - Poor Employee Handbook, Ambiguous Employee Responsibilities/ Inadequate Job Descriptions, Irregular Employee Evaluations, Outdated Employee Benefits, Poor job training, high employee turnover and improper employee tracking, record keeping systems and the 'don't rock the boat' mentality.
• Finance/Accounting (wasted profits) --- credit losses, poor refund/returns tracking system, poor budgeting (profit planning system), Excessive Expenses, Slow Collections from current/former customers, delayed invoicing, inefficient record keeping (inventory/order management) and idle money
• Sales (wasted business opportunity) --- neglected customers, uncalled prospects, lack of sales, calls on unqualified prospects, unsatisfied customers, high pressure sales tactics, rash promises and out-moded compensation structures
• Marketing Communications (wasted actions) --- executing old marketing plan (targeting wrong customer audience), ineffective advertising, no publicity, lacks ROI measurement, poor coordination with other internal departments, outdated marketing material, outdated marketing message, no coordinated social media marketing presence, uninformed about company plans, internal employee communications lacks credibility and the 'they can't handle the truth' mentality by senior management
• Operations (wasted products/services) - unused capacity, wasted labor, poor training, absenteeism, slow work pace, idle employees, spoiled work, out-dated methods and equipment.
• Ownership (wasted investment) - no profit on investment and the it's a 'write off' mentality.
No one shows you how to attack the root causes of organizational drag listed above, which allows companies to eliminate unnecessary work, reenergize the workforce and at the same time, put the business on a better course. Making the necessary improvements allows you to 'raise the bar' in the organization by following the three R's.
• Refocus on strategic priorities
• Resets the budgets
• Redesign the operating model
Refocus on strategic priorities
Refocus the organization on the most important business units, customer segments and geographies in which the company has a repeatable formula for growth and a 'right to win'.
A. Within business units, eliminate any sources of profitless volume and products in no growth markets.
1. Look closely, company may have stretched their brands and used product portfolios to customers and market in which they are undifferentiated and profits are weak. This contributes to drag as well as costs that rob resources from better and potentially, more profitable ideas.
Reset the Budgets
How companies allocate money can contribute to organizational drag by keeping nonessential work going on. But it is not easy to make the tough decisions to defund.
I recommend profit planning based on zero-based budgeting and planning to make the choices clearer.
This information can be configured and stored in quickbooks.
A zero-based budgeting and planning process using stretch targets challenges conventional thinking and brings forth bolder ideas.
Redesign the Operating Model
After streamlined portfolio and reset budgets, it is important to redesign the operating model ---- that is, the way the company is organized to deliver on its strategy. Thinking 'customer-back' or 'frontline-back' provides lens to eliminate work. Just ask: How does this activity help to serve the customer better? Or How does this activity or information serve the internal stakeholders better? ---- Companies need to look at inefficiencies cross-functional, cross-geographical or cross-business unit activities, where no executive or team has any account activity.
Assess your current state business operating model. Then identify the waste in your operations top to bottom. By identifying by the seven wastes of lean which provide a lens and a language to identify waste in your own work. Ask yourself these questions:
Transportation: How many handoffs do I have in my work?
Inventory: How big is my queue of work tasks?
Motion: How much time do I spend searching for information?
Waiting: Does my work sit idle waiting for other tasks or information?
Overproduction: Do I perform some tasks long before they are needed, while other tasks are late?
Overprocessing: Do I do more than is necessary, such as three-paragraph emails where one sentence will suffice?
Defects: Do I have tasks I must rework?
Keep a list of what you are looking for, and make notes when you observe those specific instances. Identify the cause of that waste. You aren't going to eliminate everything, and certainly not all at once. But if you have multiple observations, you can make choices about the best opportunity to improve that increases profitability.
The idea of categorizing seven wastes is credited to Engineer Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production System (TPS). Although the classifications were intended to improve manufacturing, they can be adapted for most types of workplaces.
The following are the seven wastes, as categorized by Taiichi Ohno:
• Overproduction -- Manufacture of products in advance or in excess of demand wastes money, time and space.
• Waiting -- Processes are ineffective and time is wasted when one process waits to begin while another finishes. Instead, the flow of operations should be smooth and continuous. According to some estimates, as much as 99 percent of a product's time in manufacture is actually spent waiting.
• Transportation -- Moving a product between manufacturing processes adds no value, is expensive and can cause damage or product deterioration.
• Inappropriate processing -- Overly elaborate and expensive equipment is wasteful if simpler machinery would work as well.
• Excessive inventory - This wastes resources through costs of storage and maintenance.
• Unnecessary motion -- Resources are wasted when workers have to bend, reach or walk distances to do their jobs. Workplace ergonomics assessment should be conducted to design a more efficient environment.
• Defects -- Quarantining defective inventory takes time and costs money.
Since the categories of waste were established, others have been proposed for addition, including:
• Underutilization of employee skills -- Although employees are typically hired for a specific skill set, they always bring other skills and insights to the workplace that should be acknowledged and utilized.
• Unsafe workplaces and environments -- Employee accidents and health issues as a result of unsafe working conditions waste resources.
• Lack of information or sharing of information -- Research and communication are essential to keep operations working to capacity.
• Equipment breakdown -- Poorly maintained equipment can result in damage and cost resources of both time and money.
After you have identified and categorized wasteful business practices/process areas in business units that need and can be resolved. Develop specific solutions for specific waste instances. Don't try to eliminate waste in broad themes.
By identifying, improving and eliminating wasteful areas throughout the organization that decrease profitability. A business owner can increase their 'profits' on the bottom line in a good or bad economy.

Vinson Primas, Founder/CEO, http://www.nomopofolks.com/small-business.html, a business and life coaching foundation in Dallas, Texas

Revealed...The Best Way To Boost Your Retirement Income

Written By: Darby Higgs
Darby Higgs enjoys trying new things. Throughout his professional life he had quite a few different careers, from school teacher to political adviser to information manager at a think tank. Good for him, because without this eagerness for new challenges, he may have never discovered the very best way to supplement his retirement income.
Luckily Darby has a curious mind, a palate for good wine and a passion for travel. Let’s see how he combined these traits into a part-time retirement business. 

1. Tell us a little about yourself, about your professional background, and how and why you decided to start your online business with SBI!.

I was born in Melbourne and have spent about half of my life in this beautiful city. My family moved to the country when I was very young and I came back to Melbourne for university. I then spent another decade in the country before moving back to the city.
I have had several careers, first as a school teacher in country high schools. Then I returned to Melbourne to work as a political adviser and later as a librarian and information manager at a university think tank.
I was building databases and websites at my last paid job; so I stumbled across SBI! when I was looking for ways to optimise my employer’s website. By that time I was interested in scaling down my career and pursuing some of my other interests, notably travel. I needed a source of income and a structure for my pursuits so I started thinking along the lines of  “find something you like doing and then find someone to pay you to do it.” 

2. What were your initial goals when you started vinodiversity.com? Have those goals changed over time?

Although I had no involvement in the wine industry other than as a consumer, I saw that the Australian wine industry was going through an exciting new phase. I wanted to contribute to the changes. 
This basic motivation hasn’t changed much over the past decade; I still want reasonable income to supplement my retirement pension. But the real reason why I keep going is that I love dealing with the producers, marketers and passionate consumers in my wine niche.
KEYNOTE: Building an online business is the best way to supplement your retirement income. Why? Glad you asked. There are many reasons, but here are the top ones…
  • You can start your solopreneur career as a side hustle. That’s what some of our successful retirees have done, like Carl Trent, the “Disney Dad” and John Shank, the “Shedking.”
  • You help people with your skills and knowledge rather than letting it go to waste. Just think about how much you’ve learned, either in your profession or by pursuing a hobby. There are certain to be enough people out there who’d love to tap into that knowledge of yours!
  • You’re in control. You work as much or as little you as want, when you want and where you want.
  • You can take your business with you. That’s a biggie, if traveling is part of your retirement dream. As long as there’s Internet and power, you can earn with your online business.
  • You get to know new people and make new friends. This may even become your main reason why you keep building your business, just as Darby said above.
  • You learn something new. It keeps your mind and body young. 🙂

3. Tell us about your philosophy regarding content. How do you know what your prospective customers are looking for? Where does this information come from?

The content of vinodiversity.com is centred around the more unusual wine varieties in Australia. I defined what I thought was a narrow niche to start with. But the area of new wines was changing rapidly. Producers were looking for consumers interested in their products. 
Although I used SBI!’s Brainstorm It! tool for some keyword research, I needed to get first-hand information from wine producers, writers and consumers through various print media and by attending wine events. Nowadays there is a constant flow of information from social media. The task is really one of filtering it.

4. After you provide all this valuable and free information, how do you “upgrade” people from being free-content seekers to paying customers?

Translating traffic into income becomes top priority once you have the traffic. I’ve learnt a few things along the way, for example “don’t put all of your eggs in one basket” (what the Action Guide calls “diversification of income streams”) and “you need to keep running or you will go backwards.”
There is some money to be made via AdSense and affiliate marketing and I have had moderate success with these. The problem is that these opportunities are gradually drying up, and in the case of affiliate programs, they can suddenly stop. In other words, it’s exactly what SBI! advises about passive monetization.
The next step is to develop your own products. In my case I have written a book and revised it a couple of times. The fourth edition will be out in 2017.
KEYNOTE: Darby has gone through the typical “solopreneur cycle.” Most start out monetizing their website passively, with Google AdSense and affiliate marketing. A few years ago, you could make good money with these methods, even with moderate traffic numbers. Nowadays, you need a lot of traffic to make a decent income. And even then you are at the mercy of Google, Amazon and other affiliate companies.
Darby realized this and took the next step: He created his own digital product, an eBook that he’s published via Smashwords. While writing an eBook requires quite a lot of work upfront, and a different skillset than “just” writing web pages, it’s still more on the passive side of monetization.
To go fully active, and have a higher profit margin, Darby would have to either create his own physical products or sell his services. Or, if he trusts his palate, he could buy the great young vintages and sell them later at a high profit. Cheers!
“Active monetization models” bring higher earnings, but also come with the obligation of customers, suppliers, employees or contractors, etc. You need to manage your business actively and, sooner or later, hire staff or outsource certain tasks to keep your business viable.
Not everyone wants to go this route, and that’s perfectly fine. After all, building a successful business is not really about the money at all. Your business should deliver more meaningful goals than “just money” (Darby calls them “intrinsic rewards”). Sometimes, the lower income of passive monetization is what does the trick.
Luckily, there’s now a third option for solopreneurs. One that comes with a higher profit potential but without the need to create your own products or services. It’s called Trafeze. We’ll talk more about it below.

5. You mentioned that you are moving more into wine tourism as your niche rather than focusing on wine varieties. Is that why you started publishing your digital “EST Wine Tours Magazine”? How did you come up with this idea, and how does it help you with your monetization?

After a longish period in a narrow niche I felt I had more to offer, albeit in a related niche. As part of my research, and also for my own pleasure, I do quite a lot of Wine Country touring, both in Australia and in Europe. 
On a walking tour through vineyards of Alsace, France during harvest time.
On a walking tour through vineyards of Alsace, France during harvest time.
Looks inviting, this cover for Darby's EST! Wine Tours Magazine
Looks inviting, this cover for Darby’s EST! Wine Tours Magazine
I decided that I would do this in another format other than as a website or blog. So I started publishing EST! Wine Tours Magazine as an iOS app. This gave me the opportunity to move into a new area while leveraging my Vinodiversity visitors. The magazine is free. I hope to make more from it by direct advertising later once I get a large enough subscriber base.  
By publishing on a non-www platform I am able to use material from my own website and blog without running into duplicate content problems with Google. I also use, with the author’s permission, material from other websites and blogs, so my role is curator/editor/publisher rather than author for some of the material in the magazine. 
Thus far, the magazine is returning a small amount via affiliate programs, but I feel that I will be able to find many more monetisation options once Trafeze is fully launched.
KEYNOTE: Smart move, Darby, to expand into a related niche (wine tourism) and into a new distribution model (digital magazine for the App Store). The magazine allows Darby to recycle some of his content, reach a new audience and open up new monetization options.
The traffic to his website combined with his magazine’s subscriber base makes Darby an ideal “Traffic Seller” at Trafeze. Trafeze is a new network that brings together solopreneurs with high-traffic websites and business owners with related products or services to sell. I asked Darby what he personally expects to get out of Trafeze. Here’s his reply…
Since I started with SBI! more than a decade ago the online world has changed dramatically. I have stuck with SBI! because they have evolved in parallel with the changes in doing online business. The Trafeze program gives us tools to further develop our businesses by forging direct relationships with other small businesses. We will now be able to control with whom and how we share the traffic our websites generate.
Well said, Darby! Trafeze puts you, the online business owner, back in control. You’re no longer at the mercy of the “Big Co’s” paying out peanuts in commissions or even shutting you out completely (as can happen, and has happened, with affiliate programs). Instead, you’ll strike your own deals with fellow solopreneurs who are as eager as you to monetize better. Give Trafeze a try! It’s free.

6. How long did it take to start earning an income from your online business? Is it a full-time income (replaces a job) or a part-time income?

I started earning a trickle of income fairly soon after I launched Vinodiversity, from some affiliate programs and a little later from Adsense. I have had some success with affiliate programs but most of the programs I joined were discontinued after a couple of years. I have made a steady income from importing and selling wine-related products via my website, and from book sales.  
I was working on the site part time for the first couple of years as I moved from full-time paid employment to part-time and on to “retirement.”
Vinodiversity is my hobby, if not to say obsession, and I suppose I put in enough hours to make it a full-time job. My main reward is intrinsic, rather than monetary. However, it earns me an income to supplement my retirement pension.

7. What about social content?  Which social media networks do you use the most, and why?

Wine is usually consumed in a social context and wine lovers love to talk, so social media is important. I have managed to build a reasonable following on Twitter, I use Facebook a bit and lately I have been developing a presence on Instagram. I think Instagram is best for putting yourself in front of new audiences if you use hashtags intelligently. 
I also use LinkedIn and Pinterest. The most important thing about all of these networks is to treat them as an introduction service.
There is no point in having thousands of followers if you don't interact with them.CLICK TO TWEET
KEYNOTE: Darby’s spot on with how he sees and uses social media, in more than one way. First, he understands that social media is a way of building a relationship with your visitors; it’s a PREselling tool rather than a sales tool.
You introduce yourself and your business to visitors, you interact with them, you ask them what they want or need. Think about going to a real world event… you wouldn’t bombard a person you’ve just met with your sales message, would you? You’d talk to them, you’d show interest in who they are and why they are there; in short, you’d strive to make a good first impression.
Do the same on your social networks. Strive for the highest quality with each and every post or tweet. Your collective “body of work” is what drives your growth on social media.
Darby’s also spot on with his remarks about Instagram. From all the major social networks out there, Instagram is the most winnable one due to its hashtag rule. Hashtags are to social media what keywords are to search engines. They are how people discover you.
What’s so special about Instagram’s hashtag rule?
  1. Hashtags do get found and bring targeted people to your account!
  2. You may use up to 30. If you know how, you can cast a big, targeted net.

8. What do you find most challenging about being a “solopreneur,” and how do you deal with that?

As an introvert, it is just too easy to sit in front of a screen all day, all week… So it’s important to get out as often as possible. I visit wineries regularly and try to get to many trade shows, wine and food festivals and related events. 
In addition, I go to non-wine events as well, such as football, hiking, film, music, theatre and art galleries.
Darby doing research and making contacts at a wine show. Cheers!
Darby doing research and making contacts at a wine show. Cheers!

KEYNOTE: Working from home has many undeniable advantages, but it also poses the potential for social isolation. Especially for the introverts among us, taking active precautions against feelings of loneliness and depression, like Darby does, is crucial.
Attending events and activities, whether business-related or not, is one great way of beating “cabin fever.” We’ve put together 5 more awesome tips in this article.

9. On the flip side… What do you enjoy most about being an online business owner? How has it changed you, your life, your family?

The most important thing about my life since I stopped working for a salary is that I am free to set my own schedule. I don’t need to deal with difficult people. Most of the people in the wine industry are friendly, easy going, talented and generous. I don’t need to be nice to or put up with people just because of financial pressures.  
I now have a network of new friends throughout Australia and overseas, most of whom are in the wine industry in some capacity. I have a commercial relationship with just a few of them.
With a small amount of attention to scheduling I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and “work” is something I just enjoy doing. No stress. I can give family and personal calls the priority they deserve.

Key Take Home Points

  1. Start your solopreneur career as a side hustle, while you’re still working at your regular job. Building an online business, and earning money with it, takes time. When you start it only after you retire, you’ll put a lot of pressure on yourself to make it profitable within a short time. And more pressure is the last thing you want to have in your “golden years.”
  2. Evolve with your business. When you realize that one monetization method doesn’t work as well as it used to, look for alternatives. When you see a new trend develop in your niche, see it as a chance to expand your business rather than as a threat.
  3. Be proactive about the potential downsides of working from home (e.g., social isolation, sitting in front of your computer for too long). Your online business may even provide you with the perfect opportunities to get yourself “out there” and meet new people; opportunities you wouldn’t have had otherwise in your retirement. 
Ready to start your solopreneur career as a side hustle? SBI! is here to help!
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Learn From More High-Traffic, Profitable Solopreneurs

  • Recent Success Stories With Takeaway Lessons. Read more recent inspiring stories from our blog. They deliver useful ideas and takeaway lessons from folks who’ve “done it and won it.” If they can do it, you can, too!
  • Multi-Year SBI! Reviews. We take a deep-dive into the long term, full business stories of several different types of solopreneur successes. They periodically update their progress so you can see how they and their businesses grow over a period of years. This gives you excellent insight into what solopreneurs can accomplish with real online businesses.
  • Hundreds of the “Top 0.5%.” Every one of these SBI! businesses (hundreds of them) rank in the top 1 million active websites (out of approximately 200 million!). That’s all the more impressive because 1) we are such a small community and 2) many Top 0.5% sites are mid-sized or large companies.
Solopreneurs fail at astronomical rates. SBI! makes you 100x more likely to succeed (that’s not a typo!). It will never be easy, but we do make it way more doable.
Scan the wide variety of solopreneurs who are winning in real niches. Use it to get a feeling for what SBIers do, as well as to generate ideas. What do you know? Turn it into a business.