Why Every Small Business Owner Should Use Grammarly

 

Every small business owner is a de facto writer. Think about it – you write emails, product descriptions, sales letters, web copy, your business plan. The list is endless. Part of good business writing is clear, concise sentences and effective editing. It can be embarrassing and costly to send out business information that’s rife with spelling and grammar errors.

One of my favorite tools to help you self-edit is Grammarly. Grammarly is online software that checks spelling, grammar, and punctuation. It comes in free and paid versions. The free version is robust enough to handle everything from emails to social media posts to print and e-books. The paid version catches more complex errors and also includes a thesaurus.

You can add either version as an extension in Google Chrome. The paid version can be added to Microsoft Word and other word processing applications. Grammarly runs in the background and automatically check everything you write. That includes social media posts, emails, ads, etc.

Fun fact: Once your brain knows what’s supposed to be there, your eye will often see it even if it’s not actually there. Weird, but true!

Grammarly also has a cool blog. Check out their posts on increasing writing acumen, writing resources, the correct use of hyphens and more. Their blog is humorous and helpful for small business owners and anyone else who writes on a regular basis.

Text-speak and hard-to-decipher abbreviations may be taking over, but not in the business world. For small business owners, it remains vital to put your best foot forward with error-free spelling and grammar.

Sloppy copy can cost you more than mere embarrassment. It can turn away customers and cost you sales and profit. Head on over to Grammarly’s website and sign up for an account today. Your business and your clients will thank you.

 

Tips For Avoiding The Dreaded Scope Creep

Let’s not beat around the bush. Scope creep is a real as the rest of the struggle. Scope creep is what happens when continuous and ongoing changes alter a project after it’s already begun without adding to the project’s bottom line. In short, it’s what happens when a client pays for one thing and adds changes and modifications until it mushrooms into something else. Here are two purely hypothetical examples of scope creep:

  • A client requests a 500-word blog for $XXX. By the time the project is complete, the blog is written, an image is sourced and inserted, the blog is scheduled to post automatically to their blog, and social media blurbs are written and scheduled.
  • A client requests a complimentary discovery call with a Life Coach. By the time the project is complete, they’ve had a discovery call, a complete list of next steps, a plan for the next quarter, and a handful of workbooks and done-for-you documents.

The things about scope creep is that it’s entirely avoidable. When these five missteps are avoided, projects are easier to manage, and your business avoids unexpected and often costly delays. There are the five reasons scope creep usually happens.

  1. No clear stopping point is defined
  2. The client is aggressive and intimidating
  3. The full scope of a project is not clearly defined
  4. The small business owner is afraid of losing income
  5. The small business owner is afraid to disappoint a client

Scope creep is that dreaded thing that happens when a client signs up and pays for one project, but slowly creeps into add-ons that increase your workload without increasing your pay. Small business owners simply cannot afford to get lost in scope creep. It’s a dangerous precedent to set. After all, it’s easier to tell a client their project includes A-C from the onset, than to explain why Project One included A-Z, but Project Two only includes A-C. Trust me – avoiding scope creep right from the start is a smart move for you and for the client.

 

 

Helpful Tips For Creating An Effective About Page For Your Small Business

The About Page is one of the most frequently visited pages on most websites. Make sure you get the most out of yours by including a few beneficial features your target market will respond to. Your About Page is vital because potential customers look there first to find out what you’re about and how doing business with you will benefit them.

As a copywriter, I’m always a bit amazed at how many small business owners request an About Page that’s focused solely on them. See, I think it’s almost incorrectly named. Yes, your customers want to know about you, but what they really want to know is what it is about you that makes you the go-to expert for solving their problem – because every small business in existence solves a problem for its ideal client. With that in mind, here’s what you need to include in your About (The Customer) Page

  • DO use the first paragraph of your About Page to tell your clients and potential clients the features and benefits your business offers them. Be sure to use “you”, rather than “I” language. Making your ideal client feel important right from the start is just, plain smart.
  • DO tell your customers why you’re uniquely qualified to do what you do. Establish your expertise and lay out your credentials in the second paragraph. Avoid using industry jargon and big words. Instead, opt for everyday language that lets your audience feel a connection with you – because people do business with people they know, like, and trust.
  • DO add an opt-in form right on your About Page. Make sure it has an attention-grabbing headline and a compelling call to action that helps you build a profitable email list. An email newsletter is a valuable tool for engaging with your people on a regular basis.
  • DO break up the text on your About Page with photos and graphic images that enhance your story. That can include products photos, an awesome headshot, pictures of you working behind the scenes, or photos of events you’ve hosted or attended.
  • DO include smart hyperlinks on your About Page. Your clients should be able to link right to purchase URLs, to your social media profiles, and to your contact page.

Remember, your About (The Customer) Page introduces your business to potential customers, reassures existing customers, and tells them quickly and precisely how you can help them. Optimizing your About Page for your ideal clients builds rapport, instills trust, establishes your expertise, and increases your bottom line.

 

5 Ways To Plan For The First Quarter Of 2018

You know how quickly 2017 flew by? 2018 has the exact same number of hours, days, weeks, and months – and they’re going to move at the exact same pace. That’s why smart small business owners set aside time to create a plan to maximize the time they spend working on their business and in their business. Ideally, as an entrepreneur, you would have created a plan for the year ahead – or at least for the first quarter – during the last quarter of 2017.

Goal setting is one of the most important things you can do for your business. Goals and plans help you stay focused and on track. Here are the five major things you should have a written plan for:

  1. Daily Marketing Activities
    Your small business really should be performing at least one marketing activity each day. Planning these activities on a marketing calendar is a smart way to reach new customers, create extra income, and test marketing trends and strategies.
  2. Social Media Posts
    Whatever social media channels your business is on, a social media scheduler like Hootsuite or TweetDeck can help you plan your posts in advance and create a robust social media presence while you work on other parts of growing your business.
  3. Events Calendar
    What events will you host, and which will you attend? Knowing this in advance lets you plan your social media to coincide with these events. It also lets you decide in advance which events will most readily benefit your company.
  4. Income Goals
    Set daily, weekly, and monthly income goals that help you home in on the number of products and services you need to sell on a regular basis.
  5. Customer Acquisition
    Knowing who your ideal clients are is a major part of running a successful small business. Knowing how to reach them is even more important.

Setting goals and turning those goals into a plan is a smart way to give your business a running start toward success. Don’t make the mistake of carving your plans in stone, though. Flexibility is one of the biggest advantages of running your own business. It’s never too late to get started, so don’t let 2018 run away from you. The right planning can make your small business run like the well-oiled, profitable machine you need it to be.

What I Learned About Small Business Ownership From My Children

I’m totally and completely biased, but I think I have the four best children in the world. Period. They’re young adults, now, and they may not know it, but they’ve inspired my small business journey in more ways than I can count. Here are four of the main ways they’ve helped inspire their mom.

My oldest son, Alex, is an artist. He’s been passionate and focused about his art for as long as either of us can remember. Alex is also a bit of a hermit. He prefers not to talk to people outside his circle, despises the telephone, and is generally annoyed by people – especially if they insist on talking to him. He once had a crazy successful blog titled, Things That Annoy Me. What he taught me is that focus matters, common bonds (even if it is things that annoy you) matter, you choose who to allow in your inner circle, and life can be lived on your own terms.

My second oldest, Nicholas, was doing well in traditional college when he decided to go to Barber College instead. At first, I said, no, and he continued doing well in traditional college. When I asked him if he were happy, though, he said no, and I realized that he had a right to do what he wanted with his life. He’s since gone on to a successful career as a popular, outgoing, gregarious Master Barber. He taught me never to lose sight of my passion, never to allow anyone (no matter how well-meaning) to derail you from your dreams, and to do something every day that you truly love.

My only daughter, Chloe, is a teacher. Now, I like my children because they know not to play with me. Other people’s children, not so much. Chloe, though, has a heart for children and gushes over them no matter where she is. The thing is, they respond to her. I’ve seen her cheer up grumpy children at the grocery store and bring children home from the daycare for a bit of extra TLC. Chloe taught me that it’s okay if your passion doesn’t match up with anyone else’s and that you absolutely must follow your own heart.

My baby (he’s gonna be mad at that designation) is a musician. Samuel ain’t just any old musician, though. He plays eleven instruments, has never had a music lesson in his life, and won a scholarship to his college of choice. Even with all that talent, he’s a drummer at heart – and a fantastic one, at that. Samuel taught me that it’s okay to be good at a lot of things, as long as you know – and follow – your true passion.

My children are awesome. They’re responsible, hardworking young adults who love, respect, and protect their mother, themselves, and their respective passions. They are the absolute joy of my life – and the reason I get up most mornings. They’re also the reason I’m about to rock 2018. What’s your motivation?