Dec 29

Small Business Challenge – Grow your Clients in 2012!

OK…it’s time to “ramp it up” a bit!  Challenge yourself!  Who is your “dream client”? For the next two weeks challenge yourself to contact 10 people or businesses who you would LOVE to have as a client.

What’s holding you back from approaching those “unapproachable” prospective clients?  What are you afraid of…that they will say “no”?  So what, you haven’t lost anything because you didn’t have them as a client in the first place.  The fear of them saying no is a poor excuse for not asking for a meeting…or for their business.

OR…maybe you are more afraid they will say “yes”?  What happens then? …are you good enough? …do you have the staff to meet their needs?  Can you meet the deadline?  The answer is a definite YES! You can meet the deadlines and do a fantastic job.  Everything will fall into place…there are solutions…just get the client and we can go from there.  And here is why you should be unafraid:

Consider this:

If your prospect says “yes” to you it only means they are unhappy with whoever they are currently working with…use the time you have to ASK QUESTIONS!  When you are done, ask more questions…  Your goal is to fulfill that client’s needs and the person/business before you apparently did not.  So, congratulations to you, you get the next opportunity!  Find out what they want and need….then give them just a little more than they expect.  You will have a client who values you and refers other to you as well!

Posted in Change, Client Relations, Leads, Motivation & Inspiration | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment
Dec 07

Gear up for 2012- Business Review & Goal Setting

It’s that time of year…the end of one and the beginning of another. When thinking about 2012, what’s your plan? What’s your strategy? Do you want 2012 to be a repeat of 2011? Are you happy with the way you ran your business & therefore plan to do nothing different?

Or, do you want to take it to the next level, EVEN IF 2011 was a success?

Going into 2012, reviewing your previous year is critical in order to grow, but where do you begin? Zocate is here to bring you 9 areas to focus on before it’s too late!

1. Clients: 

  • How many did you have?
  • How long did they stay?
  • How much did they spend?
  • What did they need or want from you?
  • What are their demographics?

2. Referral Sources:

  • How do clients find you?
  • Do you have a solid mix?
  • Who refers the most clients?
  • Who refers the clients you have the best relationships with?
  • Who refers the clients you have the least favorable relationship with? (Maybe someone refers a lot of business, but they tend to pay late for example)>

3. Outcomes:

  • How many clients had successful outcomes?
  • How many were negative? Why?
  • Did any clients leave before you were expecting? Why?
  • Did any clients choose not to buy from you although you thought they were a “sure thing”? What caused this?

4. Income:

  • Review it month by month (profit and loss statement)
  • Look for patters, relationships, marketing efforts, etc that impacted this
  • Is there a way to capitalize on this?

5. Policies & Procedures: 

  • Any forms, brochures, etc need updated?
  • Can anything you do repeatedly be streamlined?

6. Insurance & Paperwork:

  • Review insurances, leases, tax documents, contracts, etc.
  • Consult all your professionals

7. Professional status:

  • Where do you stand with your CE requirements?
  • Licensure requirements
  • Dues
  • Liability insurance

8. Identify & Study the 3 biggest mistakes:

  • Can be financial, business, marketing, client service, etc
  • What did you do or not do?
  • What did you learn?
  • What steps can you take?

9. Acknowledge & thank everyone who has contributed to your success including, but not limited to, referral partners, colleagues, clients, family members, business advisors, etc.

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Change, Goals, How-To, Motivation & Inspiration, Personal Growth, Professional Growth | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Oct 31

A Key to Effective Networking

Do you ever wonder why some people have great success in networking and
others just simply say “it didn’t work for me”?

A key component to becoming an effective networker is as simple as this: show
up early and stay late.

When you arrive early at a networking event you are there to greet and
introduce yourself to others as they arrive.  This helps maximize exposure and
gives you extra time to work on “relationship building”.  We all know that
people like to do business with people they know, like, and trust.  Taking the
time to talk to others and learn about them and their business is the first step
to building that relationship.  The same is true of staying after the event…you
can stay to talk with those you haven’t had an opportunity to meet yet and to
continue conversations you had with those you met before the event.

Simple….and effective!

Now that you know one major key to networking successfully, make sure you attend our upcoming event on November 7th, 2011 at 11AM at Iguana Mack’s!  The topic is “Power Phrases- Words that Sell” so you do not miss it! Check out the “Events” link above for more details.

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Communication, How-To | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
Oct 15

Business Plan Outline

Business Plan Outline – guideline to creating an effective and thorough business plan.

Title Page

  • Business name
  • Business address
  • Business phone
  • Owner (s)
  • Email, etc

Table of Contents

  • List title of each section and page number
  • List all documents in Appendices

Business Concept/Executive Summary

  • Describe your business and what it does
  • Describe your product or service
  • Explain how you are different from the competition
  • Describe the image you want to portray?
  • What is you your target pricing…high-end or low end?
  • What do you project your annual sales to be?
  • Who is your customer and how will they use your product/service?

Marketing Plan

  • Demographics of your customer
  • Competition – who are they? and why?
  • How did you determine price in relation to demographics?
  • Describe the features/benefits of your products/services
  • What market research did you do?
  • What is the life cycle of your industry?
  • What is your overall and detailed marketing strategy?

Management/Operational Plan

  • Management team – what/who does it consist of?
  • Describe the operational controls do you have in place?
  • Policies and procedures
  • Legal or other professional support
  • Logistics

Financial Plan

  • Funding required
  • Financial Projections such as income and cash flow
  • Planned use of funds
  • Financial Strategies
  • Financial Statements (especially for investors)

Strategic Plan

  • Strengths and weaknesses
  • Industry opportunities for growth/expansion
  • Industry threats
  • Company goals

Appendices

  • Research studies
  • Maps
  • Blueprints
  • Assets
  • Leases, contracts
  • Articles and brochures
  • All supporting documents

Do you need multiple business plans?

Customize your plan for banks/investors, type of industry, or another purpose…perhaps a condensed version to easily refer to when needed.

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Goals, How-To, Motivation & Inspiration | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment
Oct 05

What is this “Zocate” thing I keep hearing about?

It’s about time! We knew you wanted this and we knew your business needed this…so we’re giving it to you! We have solved the challenges of your business growth!

Zocate.com is a small business directory serving Arizona. We provide advertising, networking, and educational events for you- the small business owner. You may have dreamed about a low cost option where your national competitors don’t exist. You dream it, we create it!

As a member of Zocate.com you have unlimited access to an ever-growing library of articles, tips, documents, videos, and resources. All in one location…and all of which are focused on making your business run smoother and grow faster! Many individuals have commented on the close-knit circle of fellow businesses that make up the Zocate community. Please take a moment to read our testimonials for more incredible advantages straight from our members!

We have made it easier than ever for you to access the tools you need that previously were either very difficult to obtain or very costly! With everything in one place, Zocate.com is about supporting your dream while saving you time and increasing your bottom-line!

You will find up-to-date information on such things as the latest and greatest marketing tools, cost-cutting strategies, and fabulous educational and networking events that are sure to inspire! Combine that with your advertising space on one of the fastest growing business support websites Zocate.com…you are sure to have all you need to succeed!

So, go ahead…search and browse… If there is something missing that your business needs simply let us know and we will have one of our Zo-it-all experts put something in place for you.

Zocate.com is small business support for you…and by you!

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Professional Growth | Tagged , , | Leave a comment
Sep 23

Teamwork & How it Fits Into your Business

Are you an entrepreneur or a “solo-preneur”?

Do you go it alone in your business?  Or do you have a “team” of support to help in your success? It doesn’t matter if you are a sole-proprietor or have a large business with hundreds of employees. Nobody “knows it all” and can “do it all”.

If your company has multiple employees you likely already know the importance of everyone working toward a common goal. You know about creating community, setting policies and guidelines about expectations, and maintaining the focus of the company…and of course, how collaboration is key to success.  But, if you are a “solo-preneur” you also need a team of your own to become the success you see for your company and yourself.

All small business owners need to share their goals with others, collaborate in the success of each other, and you need the expertise of professionals (business coaches, financial advisors, marketing experts, etc) to fill in the gaps that are not your strengths. Others can also help take care of the time-consuming tasks that distract you from building your business.

Why not start building your team? Begin with discovering your true strengths
and weaknesses and find the “experts” to fill in the gaps. And remember, the
more you share, the more people who know what the focus of your business
is…that’s just more people who can help you build.  Develop key relationships and
become a part of each other’s “success team”.

Zocate offers networking events monthly and educational seminars quarterly to help you meet other professionals. What better way to build your team than with an expert who sees the importance and value of Zocate!

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Change, Communication, Goals, How-To, Motivation & Inspiration, Personal Growth, Professional Growth | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Sep 21

Free Small Business Seminar!

Just a friendly reminder that the next Zocate seminar is ONE WEEK AWAY!  IMPORTANT: You must come to this event!
Network, giveaways, speakers, fun, and FREE! If you missed the last one, you don’t want to miss it this time around! 
 
Hear 3 great speakers with 3 great topics –
Karen Oliver, ThisCopySells.com, will teach us what key words can help close the sale and how to motivate customers with her topic  “Knowing the Right Words to Trump Your Competition”
~ Deanne Adamson, Mental Health Counseling Personal Success Coach, will motivate and inspire us to connect with our passion and empower ourselves to be successful with her topic  “Creating a Foundation for Success”
~ Adam Roig w/The PC Doctors, will teach all of us who participate in social media about what internet sites are safe and how to protect ourselves with his topic “Promote Yourself Online and Protect Yourself at the Same Time!”

We only have 100 seats available so please RSVP on this site or email admin@zocate.com with name, and phone. The temperature in the room fluctuates so please dress appropriately. Bring snacks if you need them.

Please arrive early to sign in and network. Networking and registration begins at 8:30am and the presentation portion is from 9-11:30am

Location is at the Radisson Hotel (SE corner of Chandler Blvd/I-10)  Check out the info on Meetup.com/zocate !  RSVP to admin@zocate.com to reserve your seat NOW!
This is the last FREE to ALL ZOCATE event and the last one of 2011.  So invite as many people as you can.  Beginning in 2012 ONLY ZOCATE.com members will be able to attend for free.
Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Change, Client Relations, Communication, Event, Goals, How-To, Image & Branding, Leads, Motivation & Inspiration, Personal Growth, Professional Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Sep 14

Leads, Leads, Leads!

If you are like many business owners, you want more leads…but sometimes can’t
think of how to get your next one. So, you end up sitting in front of the TV or
surfing the web to fill time, or hanging out on the Zocate forums chatting with other business owners…waiting and hoping for a client to call.  Probably
not the best way to get your next sale and build your business.

I have heard some pretty interesting and colorful stories about places or
situations where a business owner got a new client.  Hopefully, the list below
will make you think of some more creative ways to generate leads.

Just a word of caution…be careful of Do Not Call lists, and SPAM.  Nobody
needs any of the hassle or potential fines that come along with taking things
too far .

Don’t be afraid to start a conversation and ask questions…the more you get to
know someone, the more you may determine if they have a need for your services
or if there is a referral opportunity there so you can help someone else’s
business.

Think “outside the box” a bit and you may find there are potential clients
that are a part of your everyday life!

  • Mailing lists (purchase or create)
  • Cold/warm calls (careful of do not call list)
  • Friends
  • Family
  • Co-workers
  • Church relationships (caution here too…it’s not appropriate for all)
  • Hobbies
  • Children’s sport teams
  • School events
  • Sporting events
  • Networking
  • Referrals from prior clients
  • Current clients
  • Prospective clients
  • Coffee shops
  • Grocery store
  • Book store
  • Anyone marketing to you
  • Email (careful of SPAM and have an easy way for contacts to remove
    themselves)
  • Online advertising (Zocate.com)
  • Online networking (Konnects, LinkedIn, MySpace, FaceBook, etc)
  • Clubs
  • Sales associates at stores
  • Servers in restaurants
  • Person sitting next to you at the bar
  • Waiting room doctor/dentist office
  • Mechanic (like this company)
  • Hair stylist (like this company)
  • Aesthetician
  • Tax preparer (look at all these options!)
  • Bookkeeper
  • Massage therapist (there are so many available!)
  • Dry cleaner
  • Housekeeper (like this company)
  • Gym
  • Landscaper
  • Pest control person (like this company)
  • Hold a seminar
  • Participate in trade shows
  • Write articles
  • Press releases
  • Blogs
  • Strategic partners – people working together
  • Website – guest sign-up, newsletter sign-up
  • Who do you do business with?
  • Educational events/seminars…who is sitting next to you?

Make a list of 5 professions that compliment what you do. Use Zocate.com’s Directory of local business owners to find those you could have a valuable relationship with and give them a call!

I am not saying you should get right into talking about your business with
several of the above options…however, be open to starting a conversation with a
stranger because you never know what might develop from that encounter.  Be safe
and have fun!

Please share your successful lead generation stories in our comments!

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Communication, Goals, How-To, Image & Branding, Leads, Motivation & Inspiration, Personal Growth, Professional Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Sep 07

6 Tips to Effective Networking

You’ve probably heard the statement “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” That’s why networking is so important. As a small business owner, networking is your way of putting a face behind your business- and that is you! And depending on your business, networking allows you to build a referral network- a group of people that will send business your way, and vice versa. Zocate offers free networking events to its members- what better place to practice! Check out the meetup.com page for details on when and where!

Obviously networking is important so here are 6 tips for doing it effectively!

1. Know your 1-minute commercial. You may only have a minute or two to talk with someone new. Don’t bore them with all the details on your business- focus on a few key points like the values you add or what sets you apart from your competition. Short. Simple. Memorable. That’s the key! It’s best to have a few different commercials ready depending on your audience.

2. Know your goal. Attend networking events with a specific purpose in mind. Are you looking for a referral partner? Do you hope to gain a new client or customer? Going in with a clear mission will help you focus your efforts- who to talk to, what to say, what questions to ask, etc.

3. Build a rapport. You attend networking in hopes of meeting someone in a very specific profession so you’re excited when that individual is at the event! You can’t wait to run up to them and tell them how they can help you but that’s the wrong approach. No one likes to be used. Instead, show interest in them as a person by relating to personal stories and take time to build that connection. Build a positive personal rapport first and the business relationship will follow.

4. Be a good listener. Learn how to ask good questions and then make sure you listen to the answers. Ask follow up questions to show you are genuinely interested. If you leave a networking event and your throat hurts, you probably talked too much and didn’t listen enough. No one likes a person who can only talk about themselves.

5. Follow up. This step is tricky- there’s a fine balance between following up and looking tacky. Don’t send someone an email that says, “It was great talking with you at XYZ Networking yesterday” if you didn’t actually talk with that person. We’ve all received those emails and they get deleted rather quickly. However, if you took the time to do #3 and #4, you probably have a few people you truly connected with. It’s important to follow up with these people and continue that personal attention. Finally, end the email, phone message, or letter with a question so you have a reason to continue the conversation.

6. Return the favor. If you end up getting referrals or business as a result of a new partnership at a networking event, return the favor by sending business their way. This isn’t always possible, but maybe you can send them another referral partner and not necessarily a potential customer or client. Say “thank you” and keep them in the loop on whether or not you were able to help the client they sent you.

What do you think? Do you have any other tips to share? Leave us a comment!

Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Communication, How-To, Image & Branding, Motivation & Inspiration, Personal Growth, Professional Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment
Aug 31

5 Quickest Ways to Destroy Your Business…and How to Fix It!

There are many things you do or don’t do that can easily destroy your business.  Here are 5 sure-fire ways to make sure your business doesn’t succeed.  Hopefully, listing them here will give you some insight as to whether or not they apply to the way you operate your business.  It’s never too late to get a fresh perspective and make your business the success you deserve!

  1. Think you know EVERYTHING – Nobody is an expert in “everything” and many of us forget much of what we have already learned.  To succeed, it’s important to “get trained, get refreshed, get coached”….continued personal and professional growth will go a long way in taking your business to the next level. And, if you aren’t the expert, then you must seek help from those who are the experts. Zocate.com provides potential for continued growth through free seminars and networking events (each with an educational component) so you can be the best business owner possible!
  2. Not Listening – Many business owners get so caught up in closing the sale that they don’t listen to what their clients need or want. As a business owner, you have a responsibility to listen to your clients.  The simple act of listening has a direct impact on return business and referrals.  So ask questions and listen…do market surveys, have feedback forms…whatever method you use, make sure to pay attention to the responses you receive.  It’s not so much about the having right product, place, or time anymore. Now, the focus is discovering what your clients/prospects need and then giving it to them. Ask other business owners how they overcame this challenge by getting advice using the Zocate Forums!
  3. Fear - Do you find that you ask yourself the “what if?” question often?  What if I say this? What if I do that? What if I succeed? What if I fail?  Well, you get the idea…  Many people spend a lot of time analyzing or living in fear of what might happen “if” they do something that they take no action whatsoever or take the path of least resistance. They get stuck in their fears end up accomplishing nothing.  Instead, make the decision to move forward and take a chance.  After all, what’s the worst that could happen? Chances are something good will come of your stepping out of the box that is holding you back from your goal. If you find yourself really struggling in this area, don’t be afraid (pun intended) to find a business advisor or life coach- the Zocate Directory has a few listings!
  4. Lack of Commitment – Are you committed to success?  Are you committed to creating wealth? Are you committed to making a difference?  Many people quit at the first sign that things aren’t going the way they want. True commitment stems from a desire and an undying faith that you will succeed.  You must “commit” to not giving up until you get the results you want.
  5. Don’t Implement – Ok…so you have the education/training and you know the obstacles that hold you back.  But what good is all that knowledge if you don’t implement what you know?  It’s time to take action!  Follow-up, follow through, get your systems in place, get organized, do whatever it takes.  Put your skills and knowledge to use and watch what happens when you simply “get moving”.
Posted in Best practices, Business Success, Change, Client Relations, Communication, How-To, Image & Branding, Motivation & Inspiration, Personal Growth, Professional Growth | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment