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WANNA MOVE THE NEEDLE? Here’s How To Leverage Effective Business Tech Tools

One of my biggest pet peeves in the digital marketing space is the term “all-in-one solution”.

Ya see, I think it’s a misnomer.

Or, actually, I think it’s misleading.

Any tool is an all-in-one solution if it’s the only tool you need, but the reality behind small business is that it’s infinitely complex – and therefore the landscape of tools to support your business is infinitely diverse (and ever expanding).

I have my own robust techstack, and Infusionsoft by Keap, and AccesAlly are at the core of it. I’ve written more about the specific tools that have earned my trust – if that interests you reach out to me and I will be happy to share.

But the reality is that the tools that support each business will be somewhat personal – they’ll likely need to match up with your business needs, priorities, and goals.

So, in this diverse, technical, and tricky landscape, when you could literally spend weeks researching options – how does a business owner choose what tools to depend on?

The answer is ROI.

Like anything in business, the tools you choose are an investment – and it only makes sense to continue investing in those tools if they’re earning an ROI for you.

Now, the typical way people think about “return on investment” is in a financial way, and your tools could certainly work to create new revenue – but they could also pay a return in other ways, like by saving you money, effort, or time.

I highlight that because I think focusing solely on a monetary concern will not only limit the tools you have at your disposal, but it can also be shortsighted in terms of crushing your longer term goals.

The next piece of advice I have for selecting the tools in your techstack is to focus on the role they will play.

You almost want to think of the tools you use as actual employees you’re casting into a role.

This’ll help in a few ways – first, it’ll help you get clear on the expectations you have for that tool.

And second, it’ll serve as a reminder of why that tool is valuable – because there will come a time when you question it, or when there’s a bug of some sort; and it’s important to be able to go back to it and recognize that this tool works around the clock and doesn’t take days off.

And finally, I’ll leave you with what I think is the most important lesson – small business is about crafting journeys.

(What’s a journey?)

The experience you create for your customers is what sets your business apart from others.

So if we recognize that, then the tools we use should be designing and supporting the journey we create for our customers.

And to zoom out one level further – that means that we, as small businesses, or as entrepreneurs need to spend time getting clear on the existing journey our customers are already having.

Then, ask yourself what it should look like. Try and visualize what your perfect customer journey would entail – if you only had one customer, and you could give them all your attention, what would that feel like?

That’s the blueprint.

(Here’s a case study) of how a tech stack can support an end-to-end customer journey.)

Once you have both of those it’s time to go to work narrowing that gap.

The tools you choose are how you build the customer experience blueprint.
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Greg Jenkins is the founder of Monkeypod Marketing, where he focuses on empowering entrepreneurs through virtual courses and educational resources.

In addition to small business and marketing automation, Greg is a semi-professional dogsitter; he loves hiking, traveling, watching basketball, and binging netflix. And dogs, did we mention dogs?

Celebrating With Traditional Caribbean Christmas Rum Cakes

It is hard to believe that the Christmas holidays are almost done. In fact today is January 1,  2019 and in some cultures it is almost time to put the special ingredients used in the traditional Caribbean rum cake/pudding to soak.

What do we mean by soaking cake ingredients?   Well, traditional Caribbean holiday cakes that are soooooo… delicious are made from several dried fruits, including currants, raisins, cherries, ground mixed nuts, rum, brandy, spices and other ingredients.

For this delicious specialty to live up to its reputation the fruits must be marinated in glass jars for at least 6 months before the Season. This year was no exception, and I am already looking forward to next year’s batch.

This holiday I shared rum cakes as gifts and folks could not get over the smoothness of the taste and the delicate distinctive after flavor.  This is a favorite and is one of the few cakes that the longer it sits on the shelf, the better it gets.  This is because the rum and brandy preserve the ingredients.  The rum cake like good wine gets better with age.

Next Christmas we will be taking pre-orders starting in October, so stay tuned. The cakes will be made in the traditional Caribbean way by a  family in Cape Coral Florida.  Yum!!! Do you like rum cakes? Click Here to tell us what you think and get out Blueprint on Enterprise.

5 Strategies for Starting a Small Business Even if You Are a … Yes name it …

Business Strategies For the Overwhelmed!

You might be reveling in the joy of your first child, but still feel overwhelmed when you think of balancing family and career.  You may experience intense emotions if you get promoted, but still struggle daily when leaving your  children at home to pursue a long term business vision.

In either case you do not have to sacrifice family life for business life or career goals for parenthood. In this post, compliments of Infusionsoft, entrepreneurial mom, Purusha Rivera, and our founder Heather Atkinson outline what it takes to get a new business off the ground while balancing life on multiple fronts. 

Babies in diapers, toddlers in car seats, noisy kids in the backyard?  Does your schedule include wiping puree off high chairs and your favorite shirt?  Doing nonstop laundry, navigating  around toys on the floor, or just hanging onto sanity while you review email from work?

Life is  moving at breakneck speed, it feels as if  you’re losing yourself to uncontrollable forces and other people’s expectations.  How do you cope?

You shrug and remember that  somewhere deep inside you have a pulsing desire to stand firm, to  maintain your long term vision. You remember  an inner voice that tells you life includes motherhood and good parenting, but also promises more!

Yes you adore the little ones who call you Mom , but you are also drawn to  business and career-oriented goals.   You know you can leave a big mark helping others beyond your immediate family.

You wonder can these different worlds coexist?  What happens if they collide.  How do you harmonize or create order among those who matter most to you when schedules clash?

Still, you tell yourself I must do both.  You cannot shake this feeling and know that if you are driven to expand your world vision, it’s at least worth trying.

If  you are a parent with an entrepreneurial drive, or a professional  searching for work life balance, the below five (5) strategies will help turn your passion into a viable business, even as you honor your primary role to nurture and provide for your children.

Yes, it might be a challenge but you can achieve both even while executing on a vision to grow your startup … all within multiple 24-hour cycles!   Take your first steps, here is how.

1. Become Comfortable Learning to Courageously Ask For Help

The key is to become comfortable saying the unspeakable, that is, asking for help!   Yes, help is available and comes in several forms:  from a reliable trustworthy nanny …  to securing a professional or business confidante, one who listens and understands you, your vision, who has both ability and bandwidth to support vision through execution, as you live your busy life.

The irony is that as fearful or hesitant as you are to ask, some people do want to help you.  In the west, we are influenced by social norms that  often devalue meaningful collaboration. Many modern cultures put a premium on and primarily reward individualism, so many of us have lost the art of reaching out, or we are unwilling to use candid speech, due to fear of being misconstrued or manipulated.

Subconsciously we no longer believe we will be supported by others if we persist in seeking to have our personal needs met.  Worse,  we may be humiliated if we courageously express our needs by asking for help and are rejected.

We do not want to be perceived as weak, or infringing on somebody else’s lane.  We fear rejection so we act like super mom or super dad with 100% control, when in fact the opposite is true.   “No man is an island” and if we look at nature we will observe that it not only survives, but thrives on organic connections.

Might it not be a good idea to model nature in this regard? That is  if we too want to thrive.

To grasp this mindset we need blunt honesty to recognize that although there is potential danger lurking, there are still legitimate trustworthy people available to us.

As you reflect on safety and evaluate risk, it is important to consider that you also need to  learn how to exercise and make good choices.  How to select the right person for the right task, at the right time.

Good choices will propel you forward , and habitually become the exercise of an art.  Consistently making good choices  is a winning strategy that  will accelerate and leverages your business to  the pinnacle of success.  There is more information available to you.  You can  Click here for your expanded BluePrint.

2. Build Your Network of Support
You might be an expert at multitasking but even the most functional, efficient and well-caffeinated parent needs to surround themself with people who assist, encourage and support.  So don’t hesitate to seek out your tribe and enlist their strengths to help get your business leveraged.

Find people who reinforce your vision, who share your entrepreneurial interests and possess beneficial skills.  Your team can be made up of family, friends, referrals, both paid and unpaid . 

Can your children help out?  Its good to involve them early.   Outsourcing, delegating, and partnering with others make the enormity of launching a business manageable, instead of overwhelming.

The words “networking” and “tribe” are popular because business is sustained by relationships among people we know like and trust. We need to find our peeps.  

Good connections impact brand recognition, our customer base and growth, so don’t forge ahead alone. Invite others to take an active interest in your enterprise.  

3. Learn to Manage Time & Organize Your Space

Creating work-life balance is important, but it is more critical when your focus becomes divided between raising a family, and operating a business, or managing your career.

As a working parent your responsibilities cannot always be separated—often they mesh together and compete for attention.  So prepare for this inevitability by  parsing duties, breaking down tasks, and learning to delegate responsibilities ahead of time.  It is important that at the end and beginning of each day you reflect on what worked and what did not.

One option is to make time to reflect using a preferred meditation or prayer.  Document  progress or lack of it so you can measure performance over time, re-evaluate goals and challenges. Create flexibility as you plan ahead.

If your business is in your home, designate an office area, then organize it.  Create a “right” place for important tools so that locating them is easy, familiar and supports productivity.

Rearrange your schedule to minimize professional and personal conflicts, but invariably you know you will have them.  When conflicts happen leverage your team, use the strategic tools we described in earlier paragraphs and ask for help.  Reach out to your network of professionals, colleagues and tribe. Learn to delegate tasks well.

Schedule, and create time blocks where you prioritize goals.  Identify your weekly or daily “Must Dos”  and compartmentalize them into time blocks.  This will give you transparency allowing you to see what and when to delegate tasks.  It will also show you where you are over-extended and what projects consume resources keeping you overwhelmed.  Click here for your Blueprint.

4. Transform Your Feelings of Not Being Good Enough: Re-Educate & Become Prepared

Even if you did not earn a business degree, or have zero experience in logistics, persistence can take you further than credentialing, if you are surrounded by the right team and have access to effective tools.

Do not disqualify yourself, or undervalue potential because there aren’t specific credentials next to your name. The world of startups might be unfamiliar, but with time,  talent, and persistence you will grow into the opportunity.

Additionally, it has never been easier to access specialized training via the Internet.  There are so many software tools like Infusionsoft with automated solutions that can help.  Find a trainer or join a group even if it means that initially you have to invest time to learn the software.  It is well known that the qualified professional when practicing in his zone of genius works for the non-specialist business owner.  It is not difficult to get a professional on your team.

When your inner critic draws attention to perceived inadequacies, quieten it.  Instead, give yourself permission to follow that intuitive spark and create a vision of your desired outcome.  Next, work backwards to determine priority tasks that  need to get done and determinewho will help you execute on it.

Research your market, determine your niche, find a mentor, model a business, identify target customers, and refine branding elements.

Learn the factors of business ownership, from the many skilled professionals around.  Harness your passion,  focus your vision, balance your check book and commit to the long term. Trust that with foresight and preparation the road will rise to meet you.

If you are a new mom with an entrepreneurial streak, you don’t have to choose between your babies and  a business.  With a warm heart, tenacity, and support  from others you can balance motherhood without deferring career.  Gone are the days when you had to choose.  Click here for your BluePrint

5. Make Family Time: Find Creative Ways to Get your Kids and Spouse Involved 

There will be times when your kids need every single ounce of care, all your focus, and energy, and you’ll need to put the business on the backburner. When this happens you will be glad to have a trusted team in place.

Other times, you can turn growing your business into a family affair and incentivize your children and spouse to share your vision.  If you do tasks together, or discuss goals and business values over meals you are not only bonding, creating important family time but your family will feel like integral parts of your team, especially if you assign them age-appropriate roles..

Take children to the office, so they see how negotiations, partnerships, and customer relationships are developed.

Let them help out with basic administrative tasks like stuffing envelopes or filing documents. Reward and compensate them when they provide value.

Encourage presence and participation in non-distracting activities close  to your workspace. Having them close by will keep them connected while making it possible for you to juggle work and family demands simultaneously.

You can be both present for your family and advance your career.  You don’t need to be superwoman to achieve this. 

Leave us a comment on what you thought of this post and share your most important take away.  We are here to help.  Click here for your Blueprint on Enterprise