What is Vulnerability Costing You & Your Business?

what-is-vulnerability-costing-you-and-your-businessThere’s an old abandoned house on a street that I drive frequently.  It was probably built in the ’50′s or ’60′s and it was probably a gem in it’s day.  Sadly, it’s been ignored over the last decade and I though I saw people there before, I haven’t seen any sign of habitation in the last year and a half.

And yet, I’m always drawn to it.  There’s an open window on the top floor.  It was open all winter long.  It’s STILL open.  I wonder what’s in there.  Birds? Bugs? Squatters?

SOMEONE has to “own” that property – even if it’s a bank.  Does anyone care that the house is completely vulnerable to the elements, to “visitors”, to anything?

Last week as I drove by I saw the public notice that the home is going up for auction.  Though the property is probably worth something, I imagine that the home might have little value left.

What does this have to do with entrepreneurship?  (Leave it to this girl who can apply ANYTHING to a life or business principle.)

Where are you vulnerable in your business?  Where are you vulnerable in your life?  What open windows do you have that are wreaking havoc on your prosperity?

A lot of us have known vulnerabilities.  Perhaps it’s a staff member or contractor with poor performance.  Maybe we’re operating without a business plan or marketing plan.  Maybe sales are low this quarter.  Maybe you’re wondering what the the legislative changes are going to do to your health insurance coverage.  Maybe you haven’t posted your labor law posters. (Gasp!)

Others of us have vulnerabilities lurking below the surface.  We may even be sabotaging our success, and we don’t even know it.  It’s often the things we DON’T see that are causing the biggest problems.  In my opportunities to consult and chat with entrepreneurs across the country, I have found four major vulnerabilities to small business success:

  1. Poor Time Management – Just because you dream of sitting by the pool, sipping your favorite beverage while you bask in the sun, doesn’t mean you won’t have to put in a lot of sweat BEFORE that dream becomes a reality.  If you have a hobby business, have hobby hours.  If you’re trying to grow a thriving company, put in a full days work.  Wasting hours away on Facebook and calling it “work” won’t put money on the table. My mortgage doesn’t get paid in “likes” or “shares”.  It’s paid in dollars earned by hard work and in PLANNED time I spend on revenue generating activities.  If you KNOW this is a current vulnerability of yours I created a free video series called “Working SMARTER, not HARDER” you can access.  Time is either your greatest asset or it is your greatest liability.  Use it well.
  2. Bleeding (sometimes blindly) Financially – I share this in open disclosure because there have been times in my business where I didn’t “understand” the numbers so I ignored them.  That business is no longer in operation.  Luckily, I’ve had other successes because I DID understand the numbers and I made that a priority.  Though I’ll readily admit that financials are not my strong suit, I DO know that getting help from an awesome tax advisor and a financial planner were worth their weight in gold.  So was hiring someone to help me with invoicing (which I hate doing…I’d rather be working on the marketing and relationship stuff).
  3. Lack of Confidence (masked or accompanied by crippling procrastination) – I share this last, but perhaps this is where I’M the most vulnerable. I get a great idea then sit on it.  I’m jazzed about a new coaching program or event and I do nothing.  At times, I’m so scared of failure that it’s easier to do nothing.  Perhaps this is an over share, but as a recovering procrastinator, I want to be real with you.  Sometimes things don’t get done because I’m scared I’ll do it wrong.  That’s why coaches, mentors and accountability partners are something I can’t do without.  Even though I’m a coach, I still invest in what I call “Trailblazer” training.  I want coaches that help me GET THERE (wherever THERE is in business) FASTER, so that I can help my clients do the same.  Though lack of confidence sounds harsh, sometimes our efforts to grow our business and our paychecks comes from lack of accountability.
  4. Drip Marketing Activities instead of GUSH Marketing SYSTEMS – Do you want a pipeline that drips or that gushes?  Make marketing a scheduled priority! I’ve already talked about this, this week, but if you missed my thoughts on this subject, check out “Marketing: A Search for Systems & Schedules that Work” & “How To Create A Simple & Effective Social Media Strategy”

I know there are more business and life vulnerabilities than just the four listed above.  These are the ones I see most frequently.  Can you resonate with one or more?  If not, ask yourself the question:

In what areas of my life or business am I susceptible?

Then for ALL OF US, we need to be asking ourselves the question:

What is that vulnerability costing my business?  In most cases, there will be financial costs.  However, don’t forget intangible costs as well: maybe a lack of connection to our business or mission.  Maybe a decrease in connection with a spouse, child, family member or friend.  Maybe it’s a sacrifice in quality of life.  (A LOT of these trace back to poor time management.  If you don’t know where to start, start there!)

Just take a minute to think through your business and see what areas you should be focusing on in the next month, 3 months and 6 months.  It’s never a bad time to set a goal and close windows and doors that are opening you up to financial loss and more.

While were on the subject…Do you need help here? Personally, I have a 3 slots that opened up for my 6 or 12 week “Revive My Startup” coaching program starting the week of June 24th.  Or if you just need one-time support to “Jump Start My Startup” in a one time strategy session, I do only 6 of those a month.  You can learn about both here.  I’ll do a complimentary 30 minute consult for you to see if there’s any chemistry between us and if my knowledge base can assist you.  We also have Fairy Godmothers in every expertise waiting in the wings to fulfill your needs and help you overcome your own vulnerabilities in life and business.  We’re here for you!

Entrepreneurship can be lonely.  If you’re having trouble in ANY area going it alone, get help.  We’re here to help you Make a Wish and Make it Happen!

Originally Published on StartupPrincess.com on May 30, 2013

Is SEO dead?

This is one question I get asked the most...So I reached out to my friend and expert Eric Chang to weigh in.

Eric and I were eating lunch a few weeks ago and I asked him the question that I get asked all the time, “Is SEO dead?”  I know it’s not, but I really wanted his take and I talked him in to creating this content for you.
three-keys-to-successful-small-business-ownership
Here’s what Eric said:
I always thought it’s kind of funny and inclined to chuckle a bit when people ask me the question: Is SEO dead? [In case you don’t know what SEO stands for, it stands for Search Engine Optimization.]
Why? Well, typically with my experience, the people who are asking the question usually don’t have a good understanding of how SEO works and/or have been struggling using SEO as an online marketing strategy to grow their business.
I’d like to take this opportunity to present some facts on what SEO is and why so many people are not seeing successes with SEO. After reading this, I’ll let you decide for yourself whether SEO is dead or not.
According to InternetLiveStats.com, Google now processes over 40,000 search queries every second on average, which translates to over 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide.
Whoa! That’s a ton of searches. With that stats in mind, with over 3.5 billion searches per day, that’s a massive amount of traffic to websites generated through the search engines along. I can confidently tell you that SEO will live as long as people are doing searches on Google.
Search Engine Optimization is a practice by optimizing the contents of a webpage, along with establishing authority of the page, to increase the placement or position in the search results.
The reason why many people claim that SEO is dead is perhaps because of their focus on wanting to get ranked high in the search results with competitive keywords. That my friend, I can tell you it has nothing to do with whether SEO is dead or alive. It has everything to do with competition! The number one reason why many has failed in doing SEO is because they take on the wrong challenge.
I don’t know about you, but I like to win. Personally, I much rather compete in a junior high track and field than in the olympic game. I know that I stand no chance whatsoever in competing and winning in an olympic game, however, I’ll stand a great chance of winning if I’m running in a 400 m junior high track and field competition! You may think it’s really not fair, but when it comes to SEO, I much rather win than lose in this game.
How do I do that with SEO? I simply focus on competing against the less competitive keywords. This is where “Keyword Research” comes in. Keyword research is the essence of SEO. If you are not spending at least a third of your time doing keyword research, your efforts with SEO will likely be DOA.
The reason why the keyword research process is so important, is because it is similar to laying the foundation of a house. If the foundation is not solid, the house will likely crumble after it’s built. The keyword research process should help you reveal the following information for every keyword:
– competition
– search volume
– related keywords
Knowing these information will help you narrow down the type of games you can compete in. For example, if I am starting a new e-commerce store selling watches online, trying to get my website ranked for the keyword “watches” is basically suicidal. However, after doing keyword research, I’ve discovered that a keyword such as “watch strap color rules” has waaaaay less competition. Getting one of my web pages to rank high for that keyword will be a bazillion times easier than popular keyword “watches”.
That’s it! That’s how I do SEO every day for my clients and my own e-commerce websites.
P.s. I know this may not mean a whole lot to some people simply because anyone can make any kind of outrageous claim on the internet, but in case you are still not convinced, I’ve been able to generate over $1 million dollars in sales online just for doing SEO for my own e-commerce websites. Yes, you read that right, it’s websites with “s”, meaning I’ve done this in multiple industries and I can guarantee you that SEO is definitely NOT dead 😉
P.P.s. I have partnered with Michelle to put together a Private Mentorship Group on SEO. In 2 weeks, you will learn not just how SEO works, but being mentored by Eric and leave with actionable SEO tips for your own website. One of our previous members, Brandi wrote and tell us this: I’m so glad I joined in on the mentorship…!! It’s been very helpful being able to ask questions and to hear everyone else’s questions and your answers!
The Private Mentorship Group is limited to 10 members max. If you are interested, reserve YOUR spot today: http://airau.com/michelle-mccullough-mentorship-seo/

Eric Chang is the Director of Marketing at Airau Marketing. Airau Marketing is a full-service marketing agency serving clients from United States to Canada in a wide array of industries: E-commerce, Retail, Entertainment, Food & Beverage, Education, Non-profit, and Technology.

In addition to running Airau Marketing, Eric also operates several online businesses utilizing the same marketing strategies he teaches in his Private Mentorship Groups.

Eric was recognized as the Top 40 Under Forty by the Lethbridge Chamber of Commerce and BDO in 2016.

Social Media Algorithms

Business Friends: I hear people complaining about the Instagram and Facebook algorithms and I have to jump in (Twitter is going that way, too. Sniff). Here’s the thing, I know that it stinks to work with a moving target, but focus your efforts on what you CAN control. All is not lost. I have hours worth to say about how to beat the algorithm but I’m going to offer some quick dos and don’ts as you try to navigate your social strategy for your business. (Video, call, event – something coming soon!)

1. Don’t stop what you’re doing and then adjust when the dust settles. The algorithm wants your content, KEEP POSTING. In fact, you can probably get away with posting a little more frequently because not everyone is seeing every post. On Facebook business pages you should be posting about 4 times a day. Previous to algorithm changes I was recommending 1-2 times on Instagram, now, we’re seeing businesses get away with 3-4 (sometimes more) per day.

2. Do keep giving quality content. Remember people come to social media for information and connection. Create and curate content that adds value and also that encourages interaction. The algorithm is based on INTERACTION on your posts. Likes/comments/shares are GOLD.

3. Do take a step back and look at how social media plays in a bigger marketing plan. Don’t put all of your eggs in a single social media outlet or ONLY in social media. Define a budget for the rest of the year, and perhaps consider paying to reach your current and new audiences through social media. While we wish it could always be free and lucrative the “pay to play” model isn’t all bad. It will weed out those who aren’t willing to pay for it, and you can target your audiences more effectively, but again, do it within a strategic marketing plan that really helps people move through the buying cycle.

4. Don’t forget…(If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times) your most important marketing job is to maintain a powerful home court advantage. When you’re playing on any social media outlet, you’re playing as a visitor. On Facebook, you’re a visitor. On Instagram, you’re a visitor. They own the power that comes from a home court and they can change the game at ANY time and THEY WILL. This isn’t the first change, it won’t be the last. So, focus on what you CAN control. You CAN control posting powerful content and you CAN control OWNING your own home court: your website, your email list and your retail location (if you have one). Get people to YOUR space and you’ll find that you are better able connect and convert anyway!

Happy Marketing!
– Michelle

P.S. If you DO want to listen to me talking about social media for hours, there’s a way! (LOL) go here: http://www.speakmichelle.com/socialmedia

Social Media Algorithms - Michelle McCullough