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Posts tagged business strategy
3 Things I Learned From Hurricane Florence

...and 3 things I’m doing with those lessons


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Hurricane season in NC can be brutal. Although I’ve lived here since a teen, I don’t ever think I will be “calm” during a hurricane. The unpredictability is just too much for me to deal with. Dealing with Hurricane Florence this week drove that home for me. We watched it twist and turn and go from a full fledged beast of a hurricane to a tropical storm that still wreaked havoc on the East Coast of the US. Looked a bit like my business….


I was fortunate during this storm. My area managed to escape the turmoil. But I still had to get prepared, and I still never knew what to expect. I started to get OVER prepared. I figured better safe than sorry. It’s so much easier to be prepared for the worst than to wait til the storm comes to get things together. Unfortunately we don’t do this in other areas of our lives - especially our businesses. Those of us who are small business owners make the mistake of operating just like a small business. Instead, we need to be operating like a Corporation, no matter what size business we own. Truth is, most of us don’t have an emergency kit for our businesses. After thinking about the need for a better contingency plan, I wrote this mini guide for developing an Emergency Business Kit’.

Let me give you a couple of disastrous scenarios that might have a negative impact on your business:

  • A natural disaster that destroys your physical business or inventory supply

  • Sudden illness (You, a family member, or a team member)

  • Geographic economic downturn

Those are just three examples of things that may blindside you and have huge negative impacts on the livelihood of your business. None of those scenarios are things that we necessarily put into our working business plans. But unfortunately they are realistic scenarios that require a bit of planning,  a clear head, and the ability to be flexible.


So what are the lessons I learned from Hurricane Florence?

  1. Include contingencies in your business plan.

It’s much better to develop a strategic plan during the quiet moments in your business than it is to do so during chaos. Most people think disaster preparedness only applies to businesses like beachfront restaurants or hotels, but these aren’t the only businesses that can be affected by natural disasters.

   2.   Have Backup staff

Even if you don’t traditionally have a large staff, it’s important to have people that can be “on call: for you during the tough times. If you can’t afford to hire a large staff, outsourcing a freelance professional is a good short term solution. You can also partner with other businesses similar to yours that can step in and help with the overload. Although they may be a competitor, those people are quite possibly the most qualified to help you run your business effectively. If these aren’t viable options for you, then enlist the help of friends or family. Keep them up to speed with the flow of your business throughout the year. This helps reduce the learning curve when training people to work with you.

  3.  You are only as good as your last project

You’ve gotta stay in the game at all times. You never know when something will pop up that will result in pausing your operation temporarily. In the event that your business has to go on hiatus, it’s good to have irons already in the fire that can carry you through that time period. The positive feedback and the ability to re-purpose any content you previously put out will help you make an easier transition when you are ready. If you go too long without any activity, you run the risk of having to re-introduce yourself to your industry and start from scratch when establishing a trust factor with your clientele.

So what are some things that I've decided to add to my 'Business Emergency Kit’? 3 simple practices:

1- Better Health and Wellness Plan

Without a healthy body and mind, your business will suffer. While some health issues may not be preventable, there are other things that we can do to ensure that we are maximizing our time when we are healthy. Taking an active role in improving my health and wellness will definitely be an integral part of my business plan from now on.

2- Strict Time Management

“Fail to Plan and You Plan to Fail”. I’m the same person who crammed for my LSAT the night before I took it. Why? Because I knew that I could do that and still ace the exam as I always did with every other exam I had ever taken. But just because it works doesn’t mean it’s a great strategy to employ. In the event that things don’t go EXACTLY as planned, you are stuck behind the eight ball. My new strategy is to have TWO backup plans - One for my time management routine, and one for my actual workflow. Workflows don’t do us any good without implementing your time management sequence.

3- Support Staff

My business has always been run as a Solopreneur operation. Sure, I’ve outsourced things from time to time but I’ve never employed someone on a regular basis. That means that whenever I’m in need of outsourcing a project, I have that long learning curve that we talked about. I have to take the time to explain my business and how I want specific things to go. It sucks up my time, and also presents the opportunity to have things lost in translation.

But what do you do if you can’t afford to have someone on staff year round? There are definitely a couple of alternatives.

  • Proper documentation

In the event that someone needs to come in and work in my business right away, I have systems and documents in place to explain the business and how things flow. With each daily activity, I document the process and check off the items that I complete. I even save my to-do lists and organize them by date. It can be time consuming in the beginning, but once you get the ball rolling, it is actually a time saver.

  • Family and Friends

My Mom is my business “Battle Buddy”. She and I get together over dinner and discuss business goals and progress once a week. We talk about new developments, new goals, and new projects. I keep her in the loop with my business in case I need her help IN the business. In the event that something happens to me, she can step in and take charge. Because she has signed a confidentiality agreement and has been briefed on company projects, she is equipped to draft documents on my behalf, help with lead generation, and check for new industry updates. All of this helps to address (and minimize) that dreaded learning curve that pops up when someone new steps in.

  • Management Software - There are tons of mobile apps and desktop software programs that can keep you organized and help prioritize tasks. Find apps that help you sync your calendar and business tasks. Programs like Slack, Hootsuite, and Evernote help you communicate effectively and manage your content across a variety of platforms. Millennial marketing guru Chelsea Krost swears by Fin, an on-demand productivity tool that allows you to take your scheduling and organization to the next level. Their features are so in depth that they are akin to having your own virtual assistant. Check out more on Fin on Chelsea's website, and the special offer they are giving to her readers.

 



Do you have an ‘Emergency Kit’ for your business? What are some of the things that might affect your business in an emergency situation?

Click the button below to get our FREE Business Emergency Kit when you subscribe to our mailing list!

 

 

ABB: Always Be Branding

 

 

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If I showed you a symbol of a red bulls eye, chances are you would identify it as the symbol that belongs to Target. The same would go if I showed you a pair of golden arches. No matter what language you speak, you would still be able to identify it as the symbol for McDonald's. These are just two examples of easily identifiable brands. It's the epitome of brand success. At some point along the way, you want people to easily recognize your brand and what it stands for. But of course that recognition doesn't come overnight. It takes years of strategic development, consistency, and fortitude until you're a household name.

 

Building a successful brand takes patience and persistence. And contrary to popular belief, you don't start the process AFTER you've already "made it". Your brand is built during the process of "making it". In order for people to take you seriously, and to think of you as being synonymous with your brand, you have to truly live it. You have to become a walking billboard for everything that is associated with your brand....all the time. You want your brand to be (as the young people say) "Lit" (I felt old saying that....Won't do it again).

 

I remember when I first started working as the PR Director for Substantial Magazine. Upon walking in to my very first photo shoot with the magazine , I encountered a young, hungry, and very stylish young man by the name of Dan. Within two seconds of meeting one another we both knew everything we needed to know about one another: We were both serious about our craft, and we both recognized the importance of aligning ourselves with successful and like minded individuals. Although Dan was at least ten years my Junior, I found things in him that I admired. Upon shaking my hand he informed me that he was in school for Fashion Merchandising and that he was going to be one of the top stylists in his industry one day. To which I immediately replied, "Great. You can style my first mainstream magazine cover". From that day on, every encounter with Dan had something to do with fashion. Whether he was sharing new ideas or creating new designs , or simply checking out what I had on and seeing how my unique style fit into the current fashion climate. Today, just a year and a half out of college, he is traveling coast to coast styling for some of the most popular international brands and events in mainstream media. How did he achieve such great success in such a short amount of time? Easy. He LIVED his dreams. He immersed himself in everything that was associated with fashion, branding, and current trends. He created the life he wanted by becoming synonymous with fashion, and the world took notice.

 

 

I started my business with a political science degree and a desire to help people achieve their dreams. I just didn't know what shaping those dreams looked like. I didn't think marketing and branding would be a way for me to help people. I underestimated how intricate of a detail your brand message would be to cementing your business' success. But without a solid brand message, people won't take your brand seriously. So I set out to figure out everything I could learn about helping people build their brands. I read everything I came across, listened to every Periscope and Podcast I could find, and started studying White Papers from major brands that ran successful marketing campaigns. I even volunteered my services for nonprofits and small startups just to get the experience I needed to deliver the best possible service I could. People began to associate me with building communication strategies that helped businesses propel towards excellence. I used everything I knew, and applied it to my business. I gave my clients insight into what they were missing by not investing into their brands. I found that a lot of people miss the small tweaks that they can make to their image both online and offline that can have a positive effect on their brand. Over time, these small tweaks can lead to a big splash in the pool of your niche.

 

Living your brand means making a complete lifestyle change. It means diving in head first every second that you get for even the smallest rewards. It means sitting in the waiting room at the doctor's office mapping out your next big idea, or taking on an internship at your dream company even when you are wayyyyyyy past the average age of most interns.

 

Building a brand takes work, and sometimes more patience than originally expected. But the good news is that there are resources to help you start the process. Start out with some of the tips in our FREE Branding eBook. It's a great way to start small with ways to get your name out there as an expert in your field without feeling the overwhelm of a massive brand campaign. There are no data analyses or complicated flowcharts to give you. Just simple tips to give you a head start on the image you want to build. Download yours today and get started on building the brand of your dreams.

 

For more branding inspiration and business tips, subscribe to our mailing list today!

The Branding Diaries 

The Branding Diaries 

Brand Yourself For Success
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Everywhere you look these days, people are talking about the importance of building your brand. In the past, branding was something that was reserved for politicians and athletes. But these days, everyone, regardless of their industry, should be concerned about building their brand. In this modern era when everyone has updated information at their fingertips at all times, you want to position yourself to be able to take control of your image, even in the event that you are getting negative press.

Here are a couple of ways to get a jump start on your branding efforts.

1- Determine Your Approach

What exactly is it that you want to be known for? This is the most important step for branding success. You have to know yourangle before you start throwing things out there. It's much easier to take your time and develop your message than it is to throw things out there, then have to backtrack and clean things up later.

2- Study The Experts

There are certain people who dominate their industries, and make it look incredibly easy. But trust and believe, it probably looks a lot easier on the outside than it is on the inside. Most people who are considered heavy hitters in their respective fields have spent years working on their approach. Luckily for us on the outside we have a front row seat, and for all intents and purposes, a shortcut to learning how to build our own personal brands. If there are people who you admire, and they've done an excellent job at building their brand, you have the perfect opportunity to learn from them. Now, that doesn't mean make your brand mirror theirs. It is never a good idea to create an EXACT duplicate of someone else's brand. Instead, look to them for guidance and inspiration. Reach out to them and ask questions about what they did when they were in your position, or what tips they may have for you as you continue to build. Take those tips and figure out how similar or different they are to the way you've been building so far.  You have to pull out the things that make your brand unique.

3- Pick Your Platform

Your approach to how and why you want to build your brand will determine your platform of choice. There is a ton of debate in the digital atmosphere about establishing yourself on social media platforms effectively. Unless you have a team in place that is able to carry out a consistent voice, it is often extremely difficult to dominate on ALL platforms. But the good news is that you actually don't need to dominate on every single platform. Your target market may not be on all of those platforms. Perhaps you market to an older generation; Your ideal client (or next employer) is probably not on Snapchat. They are most likely to be found on LinkedIn or Facebook. Maybe your brand represents visual arts. In that case, something like Instagram or Pinterest is probably the best avenue. And maybe, after looking at the demographics for social media platforms, you realize that your audience is not even found on social media. Maybe they are sticklers about print media or in person networking. Pay attention to where your audience hangs out, and make your presence known.

4- Be Yourself

It's not enough to get out there and start rubbing elbows with every Tom, Dick, and Harry who might be interested in your brand. You've got to make sure that you are developing authentic relationships at all times. The tone of voice that your competitor uses may work well for them, but may sound awful for you. People will figure out very quickly whether or not you are truly genuine, and they will absolutely judge you for what they see. People appreciate authenticity. And they will much rather do business with someone they think they can trust. It does you no good to create this false persona online, only to have people discover a totally different person in real life. It gives them the impression that you don't value them, or that you aren't selling what you promise. Whatever you do, don't be that guy!

If you want to build your brand, you have to be willing to be patient throughout the process. The internet and social media have drastically changed the way we do business. We have to learn to roll with the punches, and be adaptable. We also have to remember to stay true to ourselves and what we originally set out to establish with our brand.

For more information on how to develop your own personal brand, download our FREE eBook on Branding when you subscribe to our list!

 

 

Become Your Own Client

How ready are you to REALLY build your business? There is a huge difference between getting ready and STAYING READY. To be successful as an entrepreneur and enjoy a sustainable future, you have to stay ready. Even if your products and services stay the same, you have to treat your business like a garden that is constantly growing.

There is something majestic about meeting someone who truly gets the whens and whys of your business. Unless you've been in business for yourself before, it's hard to explain to someone the nonsense inside of an entrepreneur's head. I could go home tomorrow with a million dollar gross revenue, and my grandfather would still ask me "When are you getting a REAL job?". Some people just do not see how important it is for an entrepreneur to be constantly creating and pouring back into themselves.  Oftentimes they are like that because they don't see the actual hustle. And sometimes they are like that because we as entrepreneurs are actually not serious. We talk about being an entrepreneur; we sign up for the conferences, and once in a while we might do the proper paperwork. But we don't do the things we need to do in order to get really serious about business. Your mindset, and how you approach your business will ultimately determine your success as an entrepreneur.

Of course, there is also the frustration that we experience along the journey that sometimes puts us in a position to not be serious about our business. With the increase in the amount of distance education programs and new social media platforms on the market, it's difficult to keep up sometimes. It's easy to get wrapped up in servicing clients and creating new products, while forgetting to service yourself. One of my favorite phrases is "the publicist also needs PR". Without that extra TLC, you are bound to fall flat at some point. You have to develop a system that pours just as much into your business as you pour into your clients. Even if you aren't making a huge profit from your business, you still need to treat it like a garden, and be sure that you are working with good soil. You can't build a profitable platform on shaky ground. Motivational Speaker and Business Consultant Lucinda Cross sums this up in just one crucial action "Become your own client". Cross shares her journey into the business and consulting world, and says that as soon as she started to think of herself as a client, her business began to grow. That crucial mindset shift and extra attention to detail positioned her to begin engaging like a serious business instead of just a person with a hobby. She urges others to do the same if they are looking for success and sustainability.

As entrepreneurs, we sometimes get so wrapped up in the idea of being in business that we forget to maintain that same level of care that we had as hungry entrepreneurs when we were just starting out. We get so distracted by the products, classes, and new social media platforms that we end up forgetting to implement the new things that we learn along the way and tweak our existing formulas to meet our needs. You should be constantly evaluating and changing your method of approach in order to facilitate growth. The overall tone of your brand does not necessarily have to change; it just needs to be able to hold a candle to new and upcoming brands.

It's also important for employees of your company to live the brand at all times. Explain to them the importance of your brand's culture and how they can be an essential part of company growth and sustainability. The culture of a company is only established when everyone is on board. A Vegan company would not have their employees openly eating burgers in the company break room. They are selling a way of life that doesn't include eating pounds of red meat. Exposing their customers to burger-eating employees may discourage them from patronizing such an establishment.

Bottom line, put yourself in the shoes of your client. What would you want to see and buy if you were purchasing from your company? If it goes against your purchasing decisions, then chances are it shouldn't be a part of your brand. Start thinking like a customer. And start thinking of yourself as an entity that is poised and ready to deliver everything your company stands for.

Are you treating your own business like a brand? What are some of the things you've done differently to keep your brand on target?