Yes!  I am ready to Break Into a New Market

An Interview with Teak and Twine

interview with teak and twine ownerInterview with the Owner of Teak and Twine

Imagine you own a client gifting business while still working a full time job in the US military. Everything is going along pretty well, and seems to be OK until that one day. You find out you are moving to another state, and just to throw a cherry on top, you are 7 months pregnant. So you pack up, and move to your destination with business in hand, hire a new team, and start over again. All is going well, until seven months later when you have to move your business again into another state. Now you have had lots of practice by now, but once you get there your business has grown so much you have to move again into a warehouse just to hold everything together. Does this sound absolutely crazy or unreal? Well, it’s not. This is was reality for Torrance, the owner of Teak and Twine.  In our interview with Torrance, she will share some of the obstacles she faced and how she overcame them.

Team Dynamics

One of the great things Torrance discussed was effective team dynamics. She literally had to rebuild her team on more than three occasions. She mentioned the need to get to know her team utilizing small events such as eating lunch. This simple act sounds pointless, but it builds comradely among your team and improves your relationships and mindset among your team.

Shifting Your Role

Torrance really went into detail about how her role switched over the years out of the creative side. As her business became more successful she found that she could not fill the creative role in designing her gifts as well as maintain her business. So what did she do? She OUTSOURCED and hired new team members. She gave these members roles to take over the creative part of her business allowing Torrance to run her business as a leader. She finds herself now giving direction, coordinating logistics, and keeping track of the numbers. Torrance chooses this role because she is more comfortable with it and has more of a knack for it. The important point is that no matter what, find people who are good at what your weakest areas are. 

Full Interview

To catch the full interview with Torrance click the video below and subscribe to our You Tube channel.

Let’s stay connected

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Do you want to dive deeper into how to be successful in new markets or are relocating your business and need some help? Come join our course Break into a New Market as it launches again in October.

If you want to stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest content and request access to our private Facebook page for special live content. In addition, to view all of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel. 

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The Noise of Business Education

Beyond the FluffBusiness Education

There is so much noise revolving around business education and the plethora of creative education out there.  Simply by writing this blog post I know I am adding to it.  As a new business owner it was overwhelming and often resulted in wasted time or money.  It felt like everyone was selling their version of the miracle cure.  So why wasn’t anything getting better?  Why wasn’t I too going from making $2,000 to six figures overnight in the first year of business?  Well there were a few reasons but let’s first address the elephant in the room.

You Are The Problem

Quite literally you are the biggest problem in the way of your own growth.  How many courses do you have sitting on your hard drive that you invested money into but never your time?  How many conferences have you gone to and come back with a list of things never implemented that could have drastically grown your business?  Now . . I am not just sitting here wagging my finger at you, because I am guilty as well.  Full disclosure, I have about 8 courses that I have sitting half finished.  Why?  They sit unfinished because I didn’t make a plan to complete them.  I didn’t make a priority of them.  It, wasn’t until a year ago when we sat down and looked at the education we already had on hand that we made a decision.  We killed the budget for education, at least until those courses get completed and the changes we want to make implemented.  It may sound harsh but I want to be a debt HOUND.  I want a rich business that isn’t bleeding money into things that never bring a return on investment.  Because I was buying education that never got put into practice to better my business and my clients experience, I was basically throwing money away.

So how do I go about fixing this problem?  In bite sized chunks, just like you would for any degree program you might go through for college or trade school.  Jason and I sat down and made a list of all the course we had purchased since I started a business back in 2009 and what we wanted to complete or even revisit.

Educational Substance

Aside from the shear noise of business education out there and the lack of completing the education you do have, there is also another issue and that is substance.  In our creative industries there is an over abundance of online courses, workshops, and in person mentoring sessions.  However, how much of that education is simply watered down knowledge passed on from person to person? How much of the educational workshops we attend are literally cookie cutters of each other?  Now don’t get me wrong, we all have to start somewhere.  We all have to gather the basics of business information but at some point there is a craving for the meat and potatoes of business knowledge that goes beyond basic competency.  So how do you go about finding that knowledge in a world full of fluffy airy croissants when all you want is substance?

Beyond the Fluff

So how do you move beyond the fluff?  How do you know what kind of education you need?  The first thing we suggest doing is to make a list of those courses that you haven’t completed.  Secondly, make an action plan to complete those courses before spending any more money.  After those courses are complete, make an assessment of what your strengths and weaknesses are.  Determine where it is that you need help and research what is out there for that specific need.  Now, I know its tempting to purchase the next shiny new bit of education but don’t.  Not all courses are created equal and not all courses are focused on helping you at the level you are at.  Do your research and go to the source.  For example, if you are weak in launching a course . . going to someone in your industry may be good but going directly to an expert might be better, saving you frustration and money in the long run.

Moving a Business | An Interview with Bethanne Arthur

Interview with Bethanne Arthur on moving a businessAn Interview with Bethanne Arthur

I met Bethanne while living in Virginia right as she was moving just north of us.  I met her through a fellow photographer and over the years we have continued to follow each other on social media.  Last year when I attended Creative at Heart, we met up again and it was lovely to catch up with her and hear how her business was doing after her move.  Today she is sharing some of her knowledge as an entrepreneur on what it is like to move and relocate not only a family but a business.

Meet Bethanne . .

I grew up in Southern California and Colorado; I am now nestled in the cute mountain town of Harpers Ferry. I am a wedding and portrait photographer who lives to capture the romantic, natural, and authentic moments between two people in love. I graduated with a degree in Psychology and minored in Child Development; I served in the U.S. military on active duty for six years. During that time, I met and fall in love with my husband, and we started a family. Most days, you can find me in yoga pants, with my hair piled up on top of my head, with a cup of hot coffee in my hand and chasing after my two little ones. In my free time, I love to read, travel, explore local wineries, and swoon over pink peonies (my fav)! We are huge fans of Dave Ramsey and are currently working on becoming debt-free as a family! My bucket list includes traveling to Ireland, staying in Giraffe Manor in Nairobi, Kenya, and photographing at the gorgeous White Sparrow in Texas!

Hardest Thing About a Move

Honestly, the whole thing was hard. There were a lot of little steps I had to take in order to not only move my entire business, but my family as well. The first move I made for my business was in 2014. We moved from Virginia Beach/Hampton Roads, VA. We were moving from an area we had lived in for three years; it was the area I STARTED my business in and where I had made tons of connections. I think the hardest thing about that move was leaving the place where it all began and starting over. We moved to Northern Virginia and we knew one person. I had to start from scratch in a brand new market, so that was pretty difficult. The second move I made for my business was difficult as well, but we had more notice. Moving from one state to a different state was difficult in many ways, mainly due to the changes I had to make such as dissolving my business in one state, starting it in another, again marketing to a new market, all of that.
 

Funniest Thing about a Move

I thought a lot about this question. There wasn’t really anything funny about the moves. It (particularly the first move) was a huge life change that took a lot out of me. I didn’t necessarily want to move, so I wouldn’t say it was the most positive experience or light-hearted. And this isn’t really funny, but I got a letter in the mail from Virginia tax department letting me know I owed all of these taxes for my business, but I had been in WV already for a year, so I guess I something hadn’t gone through like I thought it had so, Virginia thought I was still doing business in the state. All it took was a phone call or two to clear it up. I definitely recommend that when you’re making these changes that you get receipts, emails, confirmation letters, etc. and keep them somewhere safe because you never know if maybe something slipped through the cracks and you need to show that you did take care of something!
 

Prepare to Move

My first move – we had very little notice about moving, so the first one was a lot of changes happening in a very short amount of time, which was pretty stressful. What I recommend anyone does the moment they know they are moving to a new area and have a business is to change their location information on social media sites, websites, advertising sites, etc. Change it as soon as you know so that Google can catch up and you can start showing up for your new area in internet searches. Same for social media; you don’t want to to confuse people or be advertising to your current market when you’re getting ready to leave it. Start marketing to your new area immediately so you can get in front of the people in your new area. 
Next, I had to look into the legal changes I needed to make. Both times I moved my business, I had to research business laws and rules for my new areas to see what was necessary to legally establish my business in my new area. My first move, I had to register my business trade name; I had to register in my new county, etc. My second move, I was moving out of state, so I had to take a few more steps in order to dissolve everything in the state of Virginia and get established in West Virginia, since that’s where I would be conducting my business. WV business laws are a little different from Northern Virginia business laws, so definitely research the steps needed and get started on those! 
I announced the move online so my followers, friends, family, and past clients would be aware of the fact that I would be leaving the immediate area. 
I started joining groups on social media for my new area and reaching out to vendors in the area I was moving to so I could start getting my name in front of others and making connections with people I thought about working with in the future! It definitely helped! Rising Tide Society began after I moved to NOVA, and I am so glad it did because it’s such a helpful opportunity for those moving to new areas to start meeting like-minded people, making friends or professional connections!
 

Tools to Move

Online, really. I don’t think I could have done without the power of social media and online tools like getting to download forms and submit forms all online for changes to my business. I have little kids, so trucking them all over and into buildings is not my idea of fun. I love that when moving both times, I was able to do the majority of what I needed to do online! Plus, of course, social media made it much more simple for me to start connecting with people in my new areas.
 

Wished You Would Have Done

Hmm, that’s kinda tough. I feel like I did really all I could in order to prepare. I probably could have reached out to more people (like vendors and such) than I did in order to make even more connections, but I was also moving my house, my family, my business, getting my child into a new school. I had all of these changes happening, so I was trying to prioritize what was most important. Another thing I could have done was spent money on more advertising to really get my name out there in my new areas, but I’ve never really been one to spend a whole lot on advertising. I took out a few Facebook ads and targeted my new area, but perhaps I could have done more advertising.
 
Moving a business Bethanne Arthur
Bethanne Arthur is a wedding and portrait photographer serving clients in Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, and beyond. Bethanne established her photography business in early 2013 and has been nationally featured in Brides Magazine, Burnett’s Boards, Aisle Perfect, Desiree Hartsock, Trendy Bride, Washingtonian Bride & Groom, and more! Bethanne is a member of the Rising Tide Society, Creative at Heart community, and Professional Photographers of America. Bethanne offers mentoring and creative coaching services to photographers.
 

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Moving Your Business Through Being an Outsider

The Outsider SyndromeGrowing Your Business Through Being an Outsider

When you hear the word outsider, what are the first thoughts? Loner, quiet one, “that guy”, nuisance. When I hear that word, I think opportunity. When we move into an area, we are always considered the outsider to the entire wedding profession. Most people think we are just another “new” photographer just starting out. I am hoping to show you how this can be a blessing in disguise.

The New Guy

The first advantage to being the outsider is you are new to the area. This may sound contradictory but being new has a huge advantage…you see things from a new perspective. I can’t tell you how many areas we go to where we meet resistance for just bringing up ideas or trying something new. These ideas and drive will promote change in any market you go to. This is especially true in a market where you have a lot of “established” businesses (this is code for businesses who are complacent). The number one threat to any business is complacency. The minute you lose your drive to change or innovate, someone else will do it for you and take your clients (those people are called outsiders).

The Trusted One

Another advantage to being an outsider is that other vendors perceive you can be trusted because you don’t know other vendors. We find countless vendors telling us details about other vendors, situations, or clients because they feel we are new and they can trust us. I can’t tell you how much this information helps us establish our market and figure out which vendors we can work with.

Being the outsider can be very intimidating at first, but you can turn it into one of your greatest attributes. If you find yourself as the outsider, draw on your experience to innovate new ideas for your area and continue to meet with vendors to find out who they are as people. 

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Do you want to dive deeper into how to be successful in new markets or are relocating your business and need some help? Come join our course Break into a New Market.

If you want to stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest content and request access to our private Facebook page for special live content. In addition, to view all of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel. 

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Move Your Business with Community

Community and moving a military familyCommunity and Moving

Community is paramount when it comes to moving and expanding your market.  We are not islands alone and separate from the world.  We were created to be in a community with others.  A network that ideally helps and serves one another.  When you are preparing to move into a new market with your business, it is incredibly important to start building relationships with people in this new community that you will be a part of.

Relationships and Relocation

Part of our relocation course talks about relationships and community when facing a move. You can start to build them before you move or before you start advertising in a new market. A question we often get when it comes to this is “what happens if no one wants to talk to me?”

Our very simple answer is find someone else!

Experienced business owners who are successful know that the majority of their business revolves around people. Building relationships with fellow business owners is crucial to being successful in any market. Unfortunately, the biggest limiting factor to getting to know other people is TIME and MINDSET. When you are trying to expand rapidly… you need to meet other business owners quickly and not go through 20 people that aren’t your tribe of folks only to finally get to that one person that we instantly connect with over a shared love of Jane Austen or Avengers Movies. Through our years of doing this, we have gotten really good at learning to select vendors we need to get to know based on a few factors:

Three Things to Look At

  1. Social Media- do they have one and how often are they updating it? Active business should be updating it once a week. Is the content that they are sharing something that resonates with you?  Most of all look to see if they are responding to people and building other relationships or just adding to the noise of social media. Notice how I did not say how many “LIKES” they have. We have found this is probably one of the worst indicators of a successful business if they will be a good connection.
  2. Website- is there website cohesive and does it paint a clear picture of their brand? Their brand should illicit a “YES, THAT’S ME TOO” response when you see it.
  3. Reviews- do they have google or other platform reviews (the knot, wedding wire, etc.) Clients will say a lot and are usually the most honest sources of info you can get. They are truly unafraid to tell you exactly how they feel.

Now What

Now that you have found a few people that feel like you can connect with through your searches on social media and Google, reach out to them and ask to set up a coffee date.  Take the time to get to know who they are beyond the internet and what they love.  This will start building the community you deserve in the new location that you are moving into are dreaming of marketing to.

Let’s Stay Connected

I hope you have enjoyed this post. Do you want to dive deeper into how to be successful in new markets or are relocating your business and need some help? Come join our course Break into a New Market.

If you want to stay up to date, subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest content and request access to our private Facebook page for special live content. In addition, to view all of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

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A Relocation Story with Cinnamon Wolfe

relocation story with Cinnamon Wolfe

A Relocation Story

My friend, fellow business owner, and military spouse is on the blog today sharing about her recent move clear across the country from NJ to Washington.  She is an awesome photographer, editor, and educator as well as one of the hosts of my favorite podcasts, Focus(ed).  But first an introduction from Cinnamon herself.
I am Cinnamon Wolfe a private photo editor, family photographer and educator on all things blogging, business and squarespace. Paul is my husband and has recently retired (22 years!!) from the US Army. We host Focus(ed) Podcast together and we enjoy doing remodeling projects around the house, sharing coffee & couch time in the mornings and going on adventures every time we leave the house. We met and married 7 years ago in the Seattle area and have since lived in a tiny little city in the middle of the California Mojave desert and also in the crazy densely populated area known as the tri-state area in NJ about an hour away from NYC. We have recently relocated back to the Seattle area and are excited to live in a house for longer than two years. Paul has two teenage kids, one in the Army and one about to graduate high school and we both spend way too much time cuddling our 9lb yorkie, Guiness and are looking to bring home some new pups in the very near future!

What was the hardest thing about the move?

Since we have moved twice we’ve had different experiences each time and there were things about each move that were harder than the other.
In our first move from CA to NJ, I was still relatively new in my business (just at two years) and I didn’t know anyone in NJ at all. Figuring out how to keep my business moving forward and also actually get photography clients in a market where I literally knew no one was absolutely the biggest challenge.
For our 2nd move from NJ to WA its been a very different experience. I was much further along in my business (just about 5 years) and was feeling much more confident and secure about the direction I wanted to take my business etc…The hardest part was leaving all of the amazing friends I had made in New Jersey. I was really blessed to have found a lot of community during my time in New Jersey not only with other photographers and wedding vendors but also with a small group of Christian women who were all photographers and business owners. Leaving all of those awesome connections was (and still is) very difficult.

What was the funniest thing about a move?

Oh gosh all of the unexpected things that happen! No matter how much you plan, moving your life and your business is a BIG thing and its just impossible to plan for every little scenario or situation that might come up during the process. Even though its not really “funny” on our last move we all got sick literally the day before we left, so that was quite the adventure…driving all across the country while being sick. Definitely not something I want to do again! We tried to make the most of it though and just take things day by day!

How did you prepare for the move?

I prepared for each move differently since our situations were pretty different for each one. For the first one I concentrated a LOT on SEO and networking because I knew those were the two biggest things I would need to rely on to get my business back up and running after the disruption. I got my website in order and researched and did a ton of work from an SEO standpoint while also reaching out to creatives in the area and asking in FB groups for connections. I was really lucky that the Rising Tide society started literally right when I moved so I was able to utilize that as a resource as well in order to meet and network with other creatives in the area.
For the 2nd move, we were moving back to a place where we had lived before so I already had some connections. I was also in the process of pivoting my business to private editing instead of photography clients so I wasn’t AS concerned with SEO this time around although I still made necessary changes to my site etc…Preparation for this move, I was more concerned with making sure all of the pieces of my business would continue to run even though I’d be essentially taking almost a month (and maybe actually a little more than that) of time off and away from really doing any work for my business. I did a lot of pre-scheduling and pre-planning as well as being very upfront and communicative with people about the situation so they would know what was going on and what to expect.

Top Tools that made your move easier

Most of the tools I use normally to run my business helped a lot during our move. My Google calendar of course was helpful, as well as out of office replies for my email accounts. I use Todoist for my projects so I had a moving project list where I could keep track of things that needed to get done (change of address, canceling things etc…) Paul used the inRoute Route Planner app to plan our cross country drive which worked out great and other than that I really relied on any form of communication that I could to make sure that as many people as possible would know that we were in the middle of a big move and I might not be as responsive. Its a difficult task because it feels like you are talking about it a lot but in reality people miss a lot of what you share and so it’s a constant game of making sure you are communicating in a way that people will understand what is actually happening.

Things you wish you would have done for your move

I don’t typically tend to look back at things to think about things I wish I would have done because I feel like I’m always busy looking forward, but I guess if there were one thing I wish about this last move was maybe that I worked a little harder before we left NJ to find more connections in the Seattle area. I know a lot of people here but none of them are creative small business owners and I am missing that community that I had in NJ. I have plans to get more plugged in now that I’m here but I probably could have done a better job to connect with more locals before we even arrived.
Cinnamon Wolfe headshot
Cinnamon Wolfe is a former corporate gal turned photographer, private photo editor and educator. She is an Army wife, stepmom, petmom and the friendliest introvert you’ll ever meet. She is obsessed with helping others realize they are capable of so much more than they think they are. She is a self-proclaimed #podcastjunkie and hosts her own show with her husband where they chat with business owners about all things photography, business and blogging. Her life goals are as big as her Netflix obsession and she can be always bribed with skinny vanilla lattes and deep conversations.

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Moving Your Business Through Autonomation

moving autonomationMoving Through Autonomation

So I remember on one of our five moves (yes it has been that many).  We received an inquiry in the middle of moving our house. This was years ago, so our phones were a lot smaller back then and we were charged per text. Imagine trying to type on a small keyboard while my husband was driving on bumpy roads. You can imagine how this is going to go.

Just to add a cherry on top, I was trying to remember what appointments I had made with clients. This would normally be a very easy task but at that time my calendar was handwritten in an appointment book. So picture this for a minute, trying to respond on a small phone while looking in my appointment book trying to confirm times to speak with clients, while being a passenger in a car. IT SUCKED!!  So you are probably wondering what autonomation is and how it can be applied to this situation.

What is Autonomation

One of the most vulnerable times while you are moving is in transit. During this time, you have little to no access to your computer or other office files. So being prepared and setting yourself up to be able to access necessary information while on the road is critical. We recommend you set up systems that will act on the principle of autonomation. This term simply means “automation with a human touch”. Here are the areas I would focus on as a starting point:

Prepare for Autonomation

  1. E-mail: Setting up your email with with pre-formatted templates for situations can prove to be useful. Most client management systems (CMS), like 17 hats, allow you to pre format email templates for certain client situations. If you don’t have a CMS then certain Gmail apps also allow this capability. This allows you to respond to emails while on the road without having to do a lot of tying. 

Say you can’t get to your templates, away messages can really help. Away messages will automatically be sent to senders every time an email comes in your email box. This provides you with the opportunity to let your clients know what is going on and that you will get back to them when you can.

  1. Calendar: If your calendar is like mine, it is very busy. Setting up client meetings can almost be impossible on the road. One tool that helps is something we started this year called Calendly. This tool allows you to make a calendar with pre designated times and your client can simply click on a weblink and make their appointment with you. You can even require them to answer certain questions before they book the appointment.

Using technology to help with your move can prove invaluable. The big TAKE HOME POINT is to make sure you still have input into the technology. Too often we see business owners let the system do all of the work and they don’t customize the product to their business. The better way forward is through autonomation.

Let’s Stay Connected

I hope you have enjoyed this post. If you have, please subscribe to our newsletter to receive the latest updated content and request access to our Facebook page for special live content. In addition, to view all of our videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel. 

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Move Your Business Through SWOT with Colleen Bies

Moving with SWOTMove Your Business Through SWOT

You are probably wondering how in the world SWOT moves your business but it is one of the best assessments we have ever ever used to insure that we address any issues in our business before facing a move.  Here to share with us today all about what SWOT is and what it can do for your business is fellow photographer and military veteran, Colleen Bies.  Colleen is the principal photographer at colleenbies.com and is soon launching her brand all about tactical entrepreneurship.

What is SWOT

Before we get into how to move your business through SWOT, we need to know what it is.  Having financial and strategic goals is great, but how often do you evaluate your SWOT? If your answer is “never” or “what’s SWOT?!” then here’s what you need to know to get started now.  SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. It’s a way of assessing your business and where it is now.  SWOT is used as a tool for strategic planning. You can’t know where to move forward in your business if you don’t know where you are or who and what’s around you now?

You might think you already know what’s going on in your business, or what’s coming, but taking the time to sit down and conduct a SWOT analysis will greatly benefit your short and long-term success. Not only is this analysis critical to complete when you are first starting your business, but it should be done at least every year, in addition to every time a major shift in your business occurs.

What Shift are You Facing

What constitutes a major shift? Here are some examples. While not inclusive of every significant change you might face, this list will give you a good idea of when and why it would be advantageous to conduct a new SWOT analysis:

  • Moving outside your current market area
  • Accident or injury that will affect your ability to serve your clients
  • Significantly changing your offerings
  • New technology that will affect your business directly
  • Big changes in personal life (getting married, having children, losing a job, etc.)

Now, let’s take a look at the elements of a SWOT analysis, and how you can use it to assess your business.

STRENGTHS

When looking at your strengths, it’s important to consider everything that makes you stand out among your competitors. Start asking yourself what it is that you do better than anyone else. Perhaps you have an advanced degree in your field or hold an accreditation that others typically do not. Or maybe you possess years of expertise that your competitors don’t. When assessing your strengths, writing general benefits like “excellent customer service” aren’t what you’re looking to uncover here. You must dive into the specific reason your customer service is excellent. For example, do you have a return policy or a technical assistance program that your competitors don’t offer? Highlight what it is about your service that truly stands out.

WEAKNESSES

When considering your business’s weaknesses, think about the ones you have the ability to overcome with access to the right education, experiences, or resources. Your analysis in this section is focused on identifying realistic and achievable areas for improvement, not self-bashing! This is not to say that you must improve all weaknesses. Your goal is to identify each and then put into place next action steps to minimize them rather than resolving each one altogether. Remember, some weaknesses will remain simply because there are outside factors hindering them from being totally eradicated.

OPPORTUNITIES

Sometimes opportunities are staring you right in the face, but you are too busy dealing with everything else to notice them. (Love when that happens and one reason why the SWOT analysis is a great exercise to revisit yearly in your business) It’s important to take time to brainstorm new opportunities that you could be taking advantage of in order to increase business and raise your profits. It could be something as simple as offering additional items to your current client base or upselling. Or, staying abreast of changes in your industry, and taking advantage of trends by being the first to offer something new and different in your target area.

THREATS

Threats are not what it sounds like.  Threats are not necessarily personal, direct blows to your business. What we really want to address here are big-picture changes in government policy or shifts in the economy and overall market that will drastically change how you do business. Sure, if a competitor has a huge campaign that will significantly and adversely affect your business, that can be considered a threat. But keep most of your threat analysis focused on large trends or changes outside of your control that you need to identify, be aware of, and make decisions around in order to ensure they don’t affect your business too much.

Now What

When you take time to analyze your business by thinking about these prompts, you will ensure your business stays on stable ground today, and continues to build a strong foundation for the future.

Ready to conduct your own SWOT analysis?  Click below for an editable, downloadable PDF worksheet! Simply type and print, or print and write by hand.  Keep this worksheet on file and continue to use it often, year after year or anytime you encounter a major shift. Best of luck to you in your business endeavors!  Reach out anytime to me at hello@colleenbies.com.

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Customer Experience Moves Your Business

Customer Experience Moves Your Business

I know moving is very scary to most of us but I can say there is one positive ray of sunshine that comes through in every aspect of your business. When you move… you can start over. All of the bad things, sideways relationships, and experiences you have created or taken part in can be erased for the most part.  You can literally flush them down the drain and move forward with a better customer experience. You can build brand new relationships and meet new people that you want to work with. Another advantage to starting over is rebuilding your customer experience.

What is Customer Experience

In order to work on customer experience we must first define it. I will be honest, when I was researching this article, I came across 10 different definitions for customer experience that vary greatly. I will use the definition that best reflects how we represent our customer experience. According to Forrester Research, customer experience is: “How customers perceive their interactions with your company.” Just think about this for a second. All interactions are perceived customer experiences. This encompasses your entire business when stop and take a look at it.

Although customer experience encompasses your whole business, it mainly focuses on three aspects. As we look at each of these, we will see how we can use them in the context of moving your business. According to the Harvard Business Review, customer experience encompasses:

  1. Customer Journey– This is the journey customers take from point A to point Z. Understanding this journey is vital to understanding what your customers go through when they interact with your company. This highly involves processes and workflow. Are your processes streamlined and easy to understand or are they complicated? Looking over your process and workflow is vital when you move so you start your journey off right. For an in depth guide, download our series on workflow to really improve your clients journey.
  1. Touchpoints: Next we’ll look at how you provide touchpoints —products, web sites, advertising, call center, etc. — that support the customer through their journey. Think of a touchpoint as the physical or digital medium your client physically interacts with. This includes your emails, webpages, products, anything they touch. When you move, ensure all of your touchpoints  actually match your brand and communicate in your voice. A disconnect in brand or messaging can really fracture your client experience.
  1. Ecosystems: This concept is a little harder to understand but this should make sense. Think of an ecosystem as the business environment you create and the entities it impacts. Every business creates a working environment people interact with but your business also influences other entities around you as well. Your business impacts other vendors, competitors, and even suppliers. Who do you impact? Understanding your ecosystem as a whole in your new area will allow you to adjust your client experience so that you maximize your impact on others and serve your clients.

Conclusion

Customer experience is a broad word that everyone uses for for different meanings. The important thing to understand is that improving your customer experience should be one of the first things you look at when you relocate your business. Having a great customer experience is a great way to gain competitive advantage in a new market.

Breaking into New Markets

Relocate your business rapidly

Breaking Into New Markets

For a long time I have seen entrepreneurs let the fear of restarting a business and breaking into new markets hold them back.  They wanted the ability to grow clients in new regions but were overwhelmed with the idea of where to even begin.  Whether it was a military spouse facing a PCS and a loss of profit or simply a single mom dreaming of rapidly growing her established business enough to support her family, the answers just simply were not there.

Traditional marketing methods often ask us to grow slow and build referral networks that drive amazing clients to our businesses.  Now don’t get me wrong those traditional methods and slow growth build strong businesses but they take time to create growth and that was time I just didn’t have.  See, when you are a military spouse like me, those traditional methods required me to be in a region or market for awhile.  It left me feeling defeated and exhausted with very little results.  I needed a way to accelerate my business and break into a new market rapidly, despite being the new girl on the block.  Many of the business owners that have mentored with us through the years felt that same fear and frustration as they searched for the answer to grow their market and increase their profit.  It took really looking at our processes and being told we would never make it, to realize we already had the answer.

Being Told We Would Not Make It

My first few times attempting a move into a new market didn’t have me feeling amazing or . . in fact it was quite the opposite.  I was stressed and exhausted.  Keeping my business running was the furthest thing from my mind because I was in COMPLETE survival mode.  Instead of throwing in the towel, I started looking at ways to make my business work for the lifestyle we had and the dreams that were always hovering in the back of my mind.

I attended a workshop in 2015 and asked my usual questions regarding marketing and relocation.  Now I am not sure if the speaker was trying to be sarcastic and funny or just simply was a total jerk.  When I asked him his advice on relocating and growing a successful business, he basically looked me dead in the eye and said “You picked this life. . . you have two options . . either have your husband find a different job or just be happy with being an assistant to a more established business in each new market you go to”.  Oh that got me fired up!  

Looking at the Numbers

Out of that encounter my husband and I had a long chat as I drove home from the workshop.  We picked apart every move, every relocation we had ever had. . we realized that we already had the beginnings of a marketing system in place. One that allowed us to rapidly restart my business and book clients in new markets before ever living there.  This image represents our business in Texas and then the growth that occurred using our system as we relocated to Virginia in 2014 with a 77% increase in revenue followed by an additional 50% increase the following year. relocation graph

 

I Knew I Wasn’t the Only One

I knew that if I was feeling frustrated with moving a business then others were as well and that something had to be done about it.  Since 2015, we have been honing in on what worked and what didn’t.  I became obsessed with providing hope for other military spouses facing the same problem we were.  Along the way, I realized, it wasn’t just the military creative that was struggling.  There were pastors wives, spouses to CEOs, and single moms that were also struggling to grow their businesses rapidly in new markets.  Over the past year we have taken the content originally shared in my e-book and written a course with this topic in mind.

Announcing the Break Into a New Market Course

This course is the first of its kind originally designed to meet the needs of the military spouse and the nomadic lives we lead, we quickly found it had a more far reaching impact on small business creatives who are looking to grow their market where they are or where they want to be.  This is the only rapid marketing and relocation course you will ever need. It is filled with over 30 videos and hours of content, using the exact systems I implement in my own business to this day.  

In addition to me teaching you the methods we use, I also brought on a legal expert.  Crossing city, county, state and even continents has a huge impact on your business and I wanted you to have the information you need to protect your assets and make a profit.  I brought on Rachel Brenke, a lawyer, owner of the Lawtog, and a fellow creative business owner to explain the these legal implications.

I would be remiss to not include a section on SEO as it is one of the biggest players in us booking jobs at NASA, for new wedding venues, and clients out of state.  While we used to do our own SEO, it is an ever changing beast and so we brought on Myrna Daramy, the owner of the company we use to do our own SEO.  Myrna will be sharing simple tips you can implement in your own business to leverage the power of search engines in a new market.

Lastly for this course, we asked our friend Caryn of Social U to share with you the process needed to create a killer Facebook Ad and actionable tips for utilizing Instagram better because while we believe in the power of SEO, we know that a multi-tiered approach is a MUST in order to rapidly take the business you have created and transplant it into new regions and markets.  I hope you will join me in a course designed to bring you profits as you confidently break into new markets.  For more information on the course, head here.

 

Hello & Welcome

Exhausted from trying to break into a new market and have no idea what needs to be done to keep your creative business growing?  You are in the right place, friend!

The Restart Specialist was born out of our constant nomadic life and the search for answers on relocating a business without fear. I am so excited your here. Pull up a chair, settle in with a good cup of coffee and lets get started.

  

  

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