Traveling With Your Business

Recently, we took a two week trip to visit family in Georgia and Iowa. We spent a total of 6 days in the car driving. Now first of all, any small business owner knows you can’t leave your business for 2 weeks and expect to find it running at full capacity, or sometimes even running at all. Second of all, small business owners know you cannot sit in a car for 6 days and not work. What a waste of precious time! Here are a few tips I picked up along the way that will help make your trip go smoother:

Call ahead and check for internet capabilities. When making your reservations, find a hotel that has high speed internet access. Most hotels are now carrying these capabilities. If you have a laptop, make sure your room will have the capability of supporting your computer. This is important, as I went to a hotel in Nashville, TN and was told they did not have internet in every room, but they would keep a business room for me. When arriving there, they told me they did not have any of those rooms available. I had to go down to the lobby late at night to check my email, and of course I couldn’t do my work because I needed to be able to download files to my computer. Ensure that they will GUARANTEE your room will have internet access. Call and find out if you will need any special hardware to assist you in using their internet. If you don’t have a laptop, don’t worry. Most of the hotels have a business center in which they provide internet access and a computer. Find out what they have for your use and make sure it will be sufficient.

Make a list. Decide what it is you will want to work on. Make a “To Do” list. Then, going off of your “To Do” list, be sure to pack everything you will need to take to complete your list. If necessary, make a “To Pack” list to ensure that you take everything you need. There is nothing worse than getting 200 miles from home, and realize you left an essential client folder at home, and now can’t complete your work.

Make sure you have all the necessary hardware. Here are a few things to think about taking:
Laptop
All accessories for the laptop, including your carry along bag. (If you don’t have a laptop bag, I got a nice, cheap, black leather one at Sam’s Club.)
A power adaptor. Unless your laptop has long lasting battery, you are going to need an adaptor. I got a 300 watt power inverter at Radio Shack. It handles my laptop beautifully. If you are not sure what you will need, go in and ask the guys at your computer shop or call the maker of your computer and ask what the requirements are.
Something to set your workstation on. I got a cheap $10 lap TV tray at Wal-Mart that works beautifully. It holds my laptop, keyboard, and mouse and is comparable to having a small desktop. It folds up when I am not using it so that it doesn’t take up too much room. (This one is for those of you driving.)
Wireless PC card-if you have one. Some hotels will allow you to hook up wirelessly at their hotels.

Make everything accessible. When you pack your car, make sure everything you need will be in reach. Be sure you don’t pack any necessary files in the trunk, if in doubt, keep them out! If you are flying, don’t check your work bag.

Use the time to catch up on “menial” work. Sometimes I find I am so busy with my clients, I don’t have time to do my work. It just piles up. I spent several hours of my trip doing menial things like organizing my Outlook, my computer files, sorting through old files, etc. Use this time in the car or on the plane to your benefit!

Enjoy yourself! Remember this is a vacation. Don’t spend the whole time working! Work while you are in the traveling mode, but when you reach your destination, enjoy your time. If you are driving, make sure to watch the scenery around you as you work, so that you can enjoy yourself. Be sure you enjoy your family and friends as you travel!

Top Four Marketing Secrets of Building a Professional Practice

Building a coaching or consulting practice can be rewarding and lucrative. Sadly, many who get started on this path simply can’t make it. Almost daily I talk to people who give up on their dream of “solopreneurship” and, resentfully, join the ranks of job seekers.

What disturbs me the most is that many of them are talented and skilled professionals; real experts in their field. With just a bit of marketing know-how they may have been able to generate healthy six-figure incomes doing the work they love.

Instead, they spend tons of money getting more certifications. They are becoming “master technicians” mistakenly thinking that alone will get them clients. But that’s not how it works at all!

Let’s take the coaching profession for example. You see, prospective clients don’t even know the difference between ICF, CTI, Hudson, Adler, CoachVille or any other certification. They have no clue what CPC, MCC or other letters you might be putting behind your last name mean – nor do they care! What they care about is results – what benefits they’ll receive.

There’s a lot of talk in the coaching community right now about certifications, and while I agree it is important, it doesn’t matter one bit if you don’t have clients! Plus, you can be the most educated, certified, qualified, and professional coach out there and still struggle to stay busy.

You might think that’s common sense, right? WRONG! I see coaches drop thousands of dollars in a blink of an eye to get another certification and agonize for months over a hundred dollars investment in a marketing course!

The good news, unlike getting certified, learning a few simple marketing strategies doesn’t have to cost thousands of dollars. And it can make all the difference in the world. As a matter of fact, here are my top four “practice marketing secrets” absolutely free.

Marketing Secret #1 – Know Your “Ideal” Client

It’s critical that you know who they are, what their biggest problems are, how they make decisions, what they like to spend money on, where they hang out, etc. The “narrower” you describe your ideal clients and the more you know about them the easier it becomes to get your marketing message across.

Marketing Secret #2 – Become An Expert

And I don’t just mean be good at what you do. Heck, you should do that anyway! I mean position yourself as an expert in a specific area.

For example, you might be work with C-level executives in the insurance industry, or teach sales skills to realtors, or do turn-around consulting in manufacturing, or help working young mothers achieve life balance, or become a dating guru. Whatever makes you tick – just focus on one thing!

Marketing Secret #3 – Use Multi-Step Marketing

This is where I see so many professionals completely blow it. If a potential client doesn’t sign up for your services what do you do? Forget about them? I hope not! You work hard to get new leads and meet potential prospects so why give up on them? Many people simply feel uncomfortable doing business with someone they don’t know too well.