Sunday, September 26, 2010

8 ‘Insider Secrets’ to Profit Acceleration

Many people often ask me, "How did you do it?"

That is, how did I leave the comfort of a nice, corporate job (and salary, I might add) -- as Vice President of Marketing and Business Development for the Internet's top online publisher -- and launch a new business during a tough economy. And … on top of that … launch a new business on the heels of becoming a mom and taking care of my newborn son and busy household.

Well, in all honesty, starting my own business wasn’t the initial plan. Shortly after my maternity leave was over, my husband and I soon realized that daycare was not a viable solution for us.

You see, I loved my job and didn’t want to leave, making my decision all the harder. But there was no other option, since working from home two days a week wasn’t something being offered. However, as luck would have it, on my last day in the office when I was emailing many industry friends to tell them I was leaving, several people started emailing me back asking me now that I was “available” would I be interested in freelancing for them? “Heck yea!”, I thought. These folks all worked with me over the years in one capacity or another and were all aware of my outstanding reputation for honesty, integrity, timeliness, results, and most importantly: nearly 20 years of direct response marketing experience.

Hence, my “second birth” … the “birth” of my new consulting firm.

Now, launching new business always lends itself to some apprehension. But launching a business during a volatile economy makes it a tad bit more intimidating. However, my business didn't only survive, it thrived. And going on almost two years later, it is still flourishing with several long-term clients (in excess of 6 - 12 months, which in consulting time is almost unheard of), many new clients, and lots of client referrals.

My company has also expanded: from a single person operation to a team containing some of the brightest and most talented individuals in the industry.

In a nutshell, I had taken a company with $0 cash flow and catapulted it to more than a six figure revenue generator in only 10 short months after start up. And you know what … the revenues are still coming in strong.

So, back to the original question, "How did I do it?"

Well, timing sure wasn't on my side. However, I owe the success of my business to a few critical drivers that I'm going to share with you. You can take these principals and apply or adapt them to your own business efforts as you see fit.

1. Market Smarter, Not Harder. This is a no-brainer. Any start up entrepreneur will tell you they have little to no marketing budget. So how do you build your brand and create awareness? It's being a strategic AND creative thinker. And it's also taking something most companies have (that's content) and leveraging it. Using a systematic approach I developed called the SONAR Content Distribution Model TM. SONAR is simply taking your content and disseminating the release of it on the Web in a strategic and synchronized manner. The platforms you're releasing it to is targeted, highly visible, and free. This helps create a momentum in traffic, buzz, and then you help monetize that traffic though lead generation (or sales) via your website. I’ve mentored many clients and former employers of this strategy; written several articles about this; as well as held a 2-day teleseminar; and a book is on the horizon. The main reasons: it’s easy, it’s cheap, it works!

2. Relationship Cultivation. Networking, and tapping into your network, is key when launching a new business OR gaining market share with an existing business. I happen to have a very strong Rolodex of friends, colleagues, and professional acquaintances that helped create a good foundation for my launch efforts. They either hired me, referred me to their colleagues, or advertised my services to their newsletter lists. Always keep relationships open. Touch base with your network. Offer assistance (gratis) if they have questions – not just to those that can be advantageous to you, but anyone in your network that seeks guidance. There are many people that only help out those they feel can do something for them in return, something they see immediate “value” in. Keep an open mind and see the bigger picture. Share your knowledge. People will reciprocate the gesture and it could lead to a multitude of benefits.

3. Strong Work Ethic/Reputation. People that know me ... that I worked for ... or worked with me know my experience – they know what I bring to the table. They also know that I am easy to work with and am committed to virtually any project on my plate. I can multi-task without missing a beat or deadline. It's a strong work ethic that helps people remember you and helps build your reputation in whatever niche you're in. My reputation speaks for itself. And that doesn't just help with new business or referrals, but also helps with getting testimonials from those I've worked with. Those testimonials are invaluable as a marketing tool on your website and in collateral material. Prospects can get a good idea of what to expect from those few "sound bites" about your work. To check out what people are saying about me, click here.

4. Leveraging Social Media. I have fully utilized social media. It's cost effective and casts a wide net. Where else can you get your message out to community of like-minded individuals for zero advertising cost? I've had the most success with and other social networking sites, as well as social bookmarks, user generated content sites and doing free press releases (that get picked up by bloggers and online news aggregators). For LinkedIn, which is a professional networking community, I joined several "groups" where my target client would be and started writing relevant and useful articles. Soon, people started contacting me (on average 5 per week) with requests for proposals. I actually had so much success with LinkedIn I spoke on the subject matter at the SIPA Mid-Year Marketing Event in Miami. If you're interested in a copy of that presentation, please contact me.

5. Contribute Content. I happen to enjoy writing and enjoy sharing my knowledge on my blog and newsletter, Precision Marketing. In addition to syndicating my blog's content on the Web, I also reached out to relevant marketing newsletters and magazines and asked about being an editorial contributor or guest author -- providing strong, valuable editorial. I also speak at industry conferences. From these efforts I've gained exposure for my business, built credibility, and got leads.

6. Business Basics. Create a strategic plan. Determine where you want to be in 1 or 2 years and what tactics you're going to do to achieve your goal. Go over your break-even point per month and how many clients/customers it will take to maintain or exceed that point. Keep little overhead. Establish a "true" home office. Share office space. Rent space or time at a business office center. Or get a "virtual office". When you're just starting out, cash flow is vital. If you need to outsource work, look into college interns related to the field you're in or bid out jobs in places like or

7. Confidence is Crucial. I don't just talk the talk, I walk the walk. I can back up everything I say by my experience. Bottom line: I'm extremely good at what I do and I make people money. I know it and the people I've worked for know it (at least the ones that take my advice and implement my recommendations). Confidence comes, however, with being in the marketing world (mostly in New York City) for nearly 20 years. It also comes with being an accomplished professional. Once you have several successful tenures under your belt you know your worth and can set a value for your time. Find your inner strength, but remain humble. Also, realize that there's a fine line between being confident and cocky. Confidence is self assured. Cocky is obnoxious. Be tactful, not tacky. Know the difference and become your own advocate. This is conveyed in all that you do and is transparent to your customers, subscribers and prospects. Despite the oxymoron, you can be “powerfully subtle”.

8. Balancing Act. Any start-up business can be a drain on your life and family. A lot of time and effort goes into launch, maintenance, and client relationship management. Then of course there's the administrative functions like daily accounting, record keeping, and invoicing. Many entrepreneurs try to take on the full weight of the business and burn the candle at both ends. But it doesn't have to be that way. Make sure you set specific time for your work and time for your family. When work is done, leave it in the office (even if your office is another room of your house). Make sure you find balance in mind, body, and soul. The business will be taken care of during business hours. Enjoy time with your loved ones and soon you all can reap the rewards of a successful company.

After all, you work to live, not live to work!
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