Arlington Entrepreneurs

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Tell Your Story

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This article really resonates with me, since I’m a writer and have been writing stories since the first grade (Tumiki and the Elephant – I still remember the title!). This following article applies basic storytelling principles to your business development and marketing. It teaches you how to tell your story, and explains why that’s important. No one starts a friendship by talking about their widgets or their professional offerings. Why should your business relationships be any different?

P.S. Let me know if you want the plot of Tumiki and the Elephant, at least as much of it as I can remember!

 

3 Steps to Connecting to Your Ideal Clients
by Justine Clay

I LOVE meeting new creative professionals and business owners; it’s one of the main reasons I do live presentations and workshops. Each and every person I speak with is passionate, unique and motivated to use their skills to create a positive impact.

So why do so many freelancers and creative business owners struggle?

Because the world doesn’t know what you do, why you do it, how it benefits them, and what they need to do to work with you. It’s not about talent or passion (you have that in spades!), it’s how you convey your message to people who genuinely want and need your services or product.

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Want More Website Traffic and Sales? Come to our SEO Networking Seminar!

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Thursday, April 26 from 5:30 – 8:00 pm
WorkBar Arlington, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington

Co-hosted by Arlington Entrepreneurs and WorkBar Arlington

Fee: $15.00 per person
AE Premium and WorkBar Arlington members are free

Register for this event!

Your website is the virtual door to your business, whether or not you’re online. It needs to stand out from the millions of other websites out there. It’s not enough to create a current, nice looking site. You need to attract potential new customers to your website and then keep them there long enough to make a sale. You also need to stay on the radar of search engines like Google and Bing.

SEO-graphicSEO – search engine optimization – is crucial to achieving these goals. Join us at WorkBar Arlington on April 26th for an introduction to SEO tools and tactics by Mike Grossman, MSE (Mike Grossman Consulting). Mike will also be covering advertising fundamentals as they apply to SEO.

This seminar will cover such topics as:

  • What is SEO and how does it work?
  • Suggestions for website improvement from the standpoint of SEO
  • An introduction to website analytics
  • Getting started with advertising

Mike will demonstrate some websites that are well optimized, along with some which aren’t. He’ll talk about the features that help to optimize websites. He’ll also talk about features that detract from your site’s online visibility.

Learn how to take a quantitative approach to your website. In the process you’ll be helping to drive traffic and allocate your advertising budget to your website’s most profitable pages.

Join us on April 26 and learn how to Increase your ranking on search engines like Google, drive customers to your website and help boost your online sales! There’ll be plenty of opportunities to network before and after the presentation, and to talk to Mike about your own website.

Register for this event!

Want a taste of what’s to come? Check out our recent podcast on Search Engine Optimization with Mike!

What Do Tequila, George Clooney and a New Business Have in Common?

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From the On The Media newsletter:

There’s a lot going on in the world right now that can make you feel down, dispirited, even depressed. That’s why it’s important to hold on to those stories of inspiration. Like the story of George Clooney’s tequila company.

You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers.

George Clooney started a tequila company?
Yes, it’s called “Casamigos,” which sort of means “house of friends. And it’s the craziest story: he actually started it by accident!

I’m sorry, but you might drink too much tequila by accident. You don’t start a tequila company by accident.
Maybe you don’t, but Clooney did. He says he and his friend were drinking so much tequila that they realized they should just make their own. And eventually they were making and drinking so many bottles that they had to get licensed.

How much were they drinking?
About 1,000 bottles a year.

@#!?
Like I said, they really like tequila. That’s why they invented one that you could “drink all day without getting a hangover.”


So, water?
No! Although they do sort of market it exactly like that.

I don’t get what the big deal is here. Some rich guys opened a business, so what?
No, you don’t get it. It’s not about money. As Randy Gerber, Clooney’s co-founder, said, this tequila is about friendship and accessibility. They wanted to make a tequila that was affordable for everyone and “not be exclusive.”

Wow, that’s beautiful. So what’s next for Casamigos? Charity work? Opening the business up to community investment?
Oh no, they just sold it for $1 billion!

Like you do.
Like you do.

By the way, if you’re a podcast addict and into media and communications, “On the Media” is a perfect way to spend a little ear time. Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield are my heroes. Check out the site at: http://www.wnyc.org/shows/otm/

Enjoy this lovely weather!

Conquering Chaos (at our Networking Seminar)

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Drawing Boards Come in all Sizes

So much to organize; so little time! The tasks mount up and glare at you from your paper-strewn desk. You absolutely promise to yourself that you’ll create the best budgeting plan known to humankind but, frankly, it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Running a business, while managing a household and having a life, is not easy. We may love what we do, but sometimes our own bad habits get in the way. Efficiency expert and AE member Marina Darlow has some advice to offer. Here’s an introduction to her approach, starting with the absolute basics – planning.

Marina will be talking about this, plus introducing some great software tools to make this set of tasks easier to manage. Our May Networking Seminar will feature a presentation by Marina, along with the chance to network and enjoy a few munchies while you’re doing it. Reserve your spot today!

And now, Marina’s advice for getting the ball rolling:

Long-Term Planning: Four GLARING Mistakes

My last few weeks were a whirlwind of activity on the client front. A few of my favorite people are all going through an intense launch phase, and a couple others are starting mega-exciting projects. All this work inspired me to write about Long-term Planning. It sounds like a pretty boring subject, so to make it juicier, let’s talk about

The glaring mistakes you (might) make when planning Long-Term

1. You stick your plans in a forgotten drawer

You never do this! No! It’s not like you made a really nice well thought-through plan, let’s say it takes five pages and… that’s it. Three months later you find it when you’re cleaning your desk.

All the planning workshops and sessions in the world are powerless against this strategy.

2. You confuse Goal-setting with Long-term Planning

Goal-setting: I want to quit my day job, so I’d sell an online class making $50K. (For the advanced goal-setters – imagine sign-up emails in your inbox, rave reviews,  thankful notes from people you’ve guided through an incredible transformation).

Long-term planning:  I’m going to do research (2 weeks), then to pilot my class (4 weeks), then collect feedback (2 weeks), then decide on tweaks (1 week), then write the class (1 week? No, that’s way too optimistic. 3 weeks, I know myself, I’ll agonize over the smallest details). THEN, I’m going to market and launch it (4 weeks), then open the cart.

Where does this timeline brings us? Let’s do some quick math: 2+4+2+1+3+4= 16 weeks, a.k.a about 4 months. Great. Now let’s think pricing, conversion rates, etc…

Many people tend to confuse long-term planning with goal-setting . Goals-setting is essential – you won’t get anywhere without a clear goal. But it’s not enough. Long-term planning is the next step –
the not-too-detailed (that’s important!) roadmap to the goal you’ve set.

Here are the key differences:

A Goal describes a finished outcome that relates to a specific point in time. It may even be a dream come true. We often set goals guided by our deepest emotions and desires – seeking independence, influence, connection.

A Long-term Plan is first and foremost a sequence of events we need to happen to get to the goal. First we do A, then we do B, and these will lead us to C. Each event has an approximate duration, and someone who’s responsible to make it happen – even if we don’t know at the beginning who that person will be. For example – if you plan to design a web page two months from today, you know you’d need a web designer, even you don’t have a specific name for the page in mind yet.

Here is another way to look at it, if the words “sequence” or “logical chain” make you squirm:

A plan is a story. It’s a Narrative, where something happens and it leads to something else. The Ring of Sauron has to be destroyed (the Goal), so Frodo takes it upon himself to throw it into Mount Doom. The heroes plan the path: to cross the Misty Mountains, through the Redhorn Pass, across the flank of Caradhras. Elrond and Gandalf form a Fellowship of the Ring to help the hobbit overcome the dangers of the journey.

3. You don’t plan the money ins and outs

If you have planned how much do you aspire to make, you’re already ahead of the majority. However, have you planned how much you’ll need to spend? Where would the money go? How much would you invest in the Facebook ads? How many VA/designer/tech hours would your plans require? If you sell a physical product, did you plan material costs?

In addition to the obvious “let’s see what my budget allows” insight, long-term money plans have a curious side-effect  –  motivating us to act. When you see the investments you need to make, your plans feel more tangible and real. And most of us won’t get off our collective butt unless real and tangible things need our real and tangible action.

The spending plan doesn’t have to be exact or even too detailed – it’s enough to say “$5000 for coaching, $1000 for software, $10000 for taxes”.

4. You stop at long-term, never planning the middle-term

This point may actually be the hardest to implement – breaking down big chunks into smaller tasks, executing the small tasks, weaving them into daily routines. This requires discipline, focus, motivation, and, surprisingly, a healthy dose of creativity.

If this last sentence resonates – know you’re not alone.

There are methods and systems to make it easier (in other words, to make it actually, you know, happen). But that’s a story for another time.

Come to Arlington Entrepreneurs’s May Networking Seminar: “The Essential Tech Tools to Run Your Business.” Come away with new contacts and some great ways to make your business easier to manage!

May Networking Seminar: The Essential Tech Tools to Run Your Business

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Wednesday, May 17 from 6:30 – 8:30 pm
Workbar Arlington, 1167 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington
Parking and refreshments available

Register for this event.

Fee: $20.00 per person. $10.00 per person for AE Premium members.
Event co-hosted by Arlington Entrepreneurs and Workbar Arlington

Join us in May for Arlington Entrepreneurs’s first Networking Seminar of 2017! Do some networking, nibble on some appetizers and then get ready for a presentation by AE member and productivity expert Marina Darlow.

The Right Tools

Marina will help take your business into the stratosphere with the latest and greatest tech. Learn how to choose the right tools for managing your business: time management, communications, information management, and sales.

Have a question about a tool, or a general productivity challenge? Send us an email beforehand (margy AT arlingtonentrepreneurs DOT org) and we’ll address it in this seminar.

Get more information and register here.
Become an AE Premium member.

Marina Darlow is the founder of Vision Framework. She helps heart-centered entrepreneurs clear the chaos in their business and life, by putting systems in place for managing money, time, people and information. The results allow her clients to get 10-20 more productive hours a week, along with bigger paychecks and fewer stress-fueled breakdowns. Visit her website and connect with her on Arlington Entrepreneurs. You’ll be glad you did

9 Ways to Thrive in a Business Famine

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(Posted from the Freelancers Union blog)

Whether you’re an entrepreneur, freelance contractor, or an employee that is currently in between jobs, there may be times when you find yourself on the famine end of the feast-or-famine work cycle.

It’s normal to experience fear and discouragement in these times, but it doesn’t have to be your norm. Times of famine can actually help us to reset and focus on the more important aspects of life.

There is more to achieving the ultimate work-life balance, there’s more to YOU and your life than simply living to watch the digits increase in your bank account.

Find out how to manage the inevitable dry-spells of freelance living.

What’s Your Story?

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Andy Winig is an AE member and always has something insightful to say about getting your message across. He’s hosted a few events for the network and I’m always happy to have him back. He’s another great story-teller, which is plain English for “content marketer.” Everyone has a story. Here’s one of his:

Rock Star (Andy Winig, ImprovAndy)

 We rush through the door and our kids scramble into our laps as we grab precious floor space Saturday at the Dedham Community Center.

Welcome to Fall!

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The air conditioners are still installed, but we’re leaving our windows open at night to catch the cool breezes. The vegetable garden is knocking out tomatoes and sprouting herbs in their full harvest glory. Summer is just now starting to wind down, or at least we’re starting to think about the month ahead.

Arlington Entrepreneurs will be busy this fall with events, group activities and more: coffee breaks and happy hours, networking events and presentations.

Want a low-stress entree to fall events? Join us for a snack and beverage at Kickstand Cafe on September 17. We’ll be waiting for you!

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A One-Hour Marketing Plan

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With thanks to Michael McLaughlin, of MindShare Consulting. Think you don’t have enough time for marketing? Here are a few suggestions that can take as little as one hour per week. The world needs to hear from you. Don’t put it off!

Think You’re Too Busy to Market Your Business?

Stop watch

There really are enough hours in the day

Think Again.

If you’re like a lot of consultants, your plate is full. Very full.

You’ve got projects to run, a business to manage, and a personal life. Sometimes, there’s just not enough time in the day.

The natural reaction to the stress of being overloaded is to put off something on your to-do list. When you get too busy, you sort through your priorities and often it’s your marketing activities that you put on the back burner.

Why? Because it’s an easy thing to put on hold. You can convince yourself that publishing that article later than planned won’t hurt anything. Or you promise yourself that you will rework your web presence next month.

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