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7 08, 2018

THREE THINGS YOU NEED TO TURN YOUR HOBBY INTO A BUSINESS

By |2018-08-10T15:49:58-05:00August 7th, 2018|Categories: Blog, Building a Brand, Competitive Advantage, Customer Service, general|Tags: , , , , , , |0 Comments

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More and more, we see a phenomenon expanding in the economy: skilled workers opting to stay at home and choosing to do contractual jobs over the internet. They take on employers based on task-specific contracts, going through several employees one after another. Sometimes, they even juggle several employees at once. They hand in excellent work, the arrangement expires, and they go on to the next contract.

This is the gig economy.

If making, hacking, and creating on the side isn’t enough for you, you may be thinking of taking your hobby legit. However, turning a hobby into a business isn’t just a matter of scaling up. Whether you’re selling creations, ideas, or services, here are three things you need to cut it in the business world.

A Platform
It doesn’t matter how awesome your products or services are if you don’t have a way to sell them. To monetize your hobby, you need a way to get the word out.

One option is selling through established marketplaces, including Etsy and Tindie. These platforms offer the benefit of already existing, so all you have to do is upload your information and list your items. However, with so many makers, crafters and DIYers using these marketplaces, it can be hard to stand out and find customers.

If you’re serious about your business, create an e-commerce website to list your wares. You can drive traffic and gain customers by marketing your business through social media, attending Maker Faires, and networking with your local maker community. Traditional marketing channels not doing it for you? Read Neil Patel’s guide to growth hacking for creative ways to expand your business.

Collaboration
Working from home has its limits. While a home office is great for focusing and cranking out work, it’s not the most creative environment. For exposure to new technologies and fresh ideas, seek a workspace you share with other makers.

Not only does co-working offices and maker spaces provide a place to work, but also these collaborative workspaces host events where you can learn, socialize and hear from leaders in the field. Make the right connection at a networking event and you can land yourself a partner for your newest project or an investor with a passion for your work. Collaborative workspaces expand your social capital and provide access to tools and technology that you might not be able to afford on your own.

To find a maker space in your area, check out the directory at Make.

Financial Savvy
The difference between a hobby and a business isn’t in how much time you commit to the pursuit. Rather, it’s all about how you handle the finances.

If you’re considered a business by the IRS, your business expenses are fully deductible. However, businesses have to check a few boxes, such as keeping financial records, paying estimated taxes and generating profit. You can learn more about the business-hobby distinction at The Simple Dollar.

You’ll need to keep financial records such as business expenses and income, receipts, invoices and inventory logs. How you maintain these records is up to you. While many small-business owners turn to software solutions like QuickBooks, when you’re first starting out, basic spreadsheets may be sufficient. However, some tech solutions are worth the effort.

Two apps that every new freelancer, side-gigger, or small-business owner should have in their pocket are a receipt-tracking app, and an invoicing app. A receipt app collects receipts in one place using pictures, so you’re not sorting through stacks of faded, crumpled receipts at tax time. An invoice app lets you send invoices right from your phone, so you can keep your business running on the go. More importantly, it makes it easy to see which invoices are outstanding so you don’t forget to get paid!

Turning a hobby into a successful enterprise is every maker’s dream. However, running a successful business requires more than passion and a great idea. If you want to see your dreams come to fruition, you need to pay just as much attention to these behind-the-scenes details as you do to the main attraction.

Article by Lucy Reed, lucy_reed@gigmine.co>The Gig Mine, http://gigmine.co/.

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14 01, 2016

Is Your Customer Wearing an Invisible Cloak?

By |2017-03-03T12:06:49-05:00January 14th, 2016|Categories: Blog, Building your business, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Marketing, Reaching the Consumer|Tags: , , , |0 Comments

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Is your customer invisible?

Is your customer invisible?

My friend said she went into a local high end lighting store the other day; despite there were sales people walking around, no one approached her. It was almost as if she was wearing an invisible cloak.  What kind of customer experience is this? The salespeople may have been busy or maybe they didn’t see her, but does that matter? My mother used to say that she had to “have eyes in the back of her head” when I was little. That’s what salespeople need. They must always be on alert.

She had never been in the store and was in desperate need of a part for a chandelier. Yes, we are closer to developing an invisible cloak, but that’s not what I’m talking about.

I just read an article about how customer service should be invisible; I don’t think so. If you’ve got superb customer service everyone in the world should know about it. By the way, we are close to producing an invisible cloak; then what will happen to our customers?

When it comes to developing a working invisibility cloak, we may not be at Harry Potter level yet, but today’s newest breakthrough is nonetheless impressive.

A team of researchers led by Xingjie Ni—a nano-engineer at Pennsylvania State University—have just unveiled an fascinating invisibility cloak: one that takes the form of a sleek skin of nano-material.

 

We talk about providing a great customer experience; how can that happen if we don’t make a connection? Great customer experiences don’t just happen, we have to make them happen.

 

“Why didn’t anyone wait on me; she asked, didn’t I look right?” There was a hint of sarcasm in her voice, but I think there was some truth in her question. My hunch is you’ve had it happen to you.

Here are 2 simple ways to keep your customers from feeling invisible:

  • Approach your new customer immediately. If you’re with another customer, politely ask them if it’s okay for you to greet the customer coming in the door.
  • Make the customer feel like an old friend. If you can offer them a place to sit or a beverage they will feel acknowledged.
  • Connect with them in other ways. Complement them when you say hello, notice their smart phone of tablet.
  • Be proactive. Can you reach out to your customer before they get to your store?

I know these may seem simple but they are common courtesies that are often forgotten but go a long way in building a customer relationship.

Lisbeth has been helping businesses build positive customer experiences for the past 20 years. To speak with her about your business, call her at 518-495-5380.

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4 10, 2015

7 Mistakes That Make Your Email Campaign Look Lame

By |2017-03-03T12:06:51-05:00October 4th, 2015|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Customer Service, email marketing|Tags: , , , , , , , , , |0 Comments

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Email marketing needs a plan to be effective.

Email marketing needs a plan to be effective.

Everyone says they’re doing email marketing but are they really? Sending out a few emails when you feel like it is not the same as having an email campaign. I get great email blasts from my friends, and then they disappear. I’ve even called and asked several what happened to them, and they say they got tired of sending them! One friend said her customers liked her message, but it was too much work.

Here are 7 mistakes that will make you look lame and actually hurt you.

  1. Not segmenting your customer lists. Basically, “one size fits all” when it comes to the message can be a problem. A customer who bought recently is not the same as one who bought five years ago. Each should get a message, but it should be different. Of course, the one who just bought should be thanked and the other should receive an incentive to come back to the store. This is not good customer service.
  2. Are you disregarding the customer hasn’t bought? Are you collecting their email? Getting their information is critical to staying in touch. If they are really interested, the right message will send them back into your store.
  3. Do you start a campaign and then stop? If you’re’ going to do a campaign, you should do it for at least a year. You want your potential customer to look forward to your messages. The messages should be interesting and fun, not filled with advertisements.
  4. Not using a service to send out your emails. Your email service is not set up to handle over 50 emails. Not only that, because of the sophisticated servers, you’re likely to be cut off from potential customers, particularly if you don’t have an “opt out” section.
  5. Do you send out emails without a goal in mind? What is worse than getting emails that don’t seem to have a reason or links to your web site or social media? The reason for an email campaign is to keep in touch with your customers, or potential customers, and provide value.
  6. Do you only send emails when you have an offer? If this is when you send them, those responding will need something. The others will probably consider you a nuisance and go away. The idea is to send an assortment of messages so everyone will remain interested.
  7. Do you send out emails without a long-term plan? It’s called “email marketing” because it’s a marketing plan. You want to have a plan that makes sense to you and the customer. If you don’t you may be doing more harm than good.

As my mom, used to say, you only have one reputation. Take care of it.

Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses build sales and marketing strategies for over twenty years. For more information on email marketing, go to http://followyourcustomer.com/ and sign up for a webinar on customized email marketing.  Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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27 07, 2015

Why do Businesses say Stupid Things to Their Customers?

By |2017-03-03T12:06:52-05:00July 27th, 2015|Categories: Blog, Customer Retention Strategies, Customer Satisfaction, Customer Service, Marketing, Reaching the Consumer|Tags: , , , , |4 Comments

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no cookingOn my way to the gym I pass this restaurant; today the sign outside says “No Cook.” I’m assuming that means they’re not open. Why would you put that sign up? This is just a ridiculous thing to post for your customers. What’s the point? What kind of customer service can a restaurant deliver without a cook?

It brings up all kinds of thoughts for me.

  1. They don’t pay their help very much or why would the cook leave?
  2. There will be no food until they get a new cook; will the new cook be good? Should I even try it?
  3. When the new cook comes, will there be a sign that says, “New Cook?”
  4. They don’t sound very resourceful, why not just start cooking? There must be someone who works or owns the place that knows how.
  5. Why do we care about your cook? It’s your problem now it’s mine.

Why would you share any of your misfortune with your customers? Consumers don’t care about your problems only that you make them feel good.

Actually, I would have liked it better if the sign says, ‘cook quit or cook fired.’ At least, I can get a laugh about it. It reminds me of the nursery that had the sign, ‘closed during the winter,’ of course; we know that. Why not the sign that says, ‘can’t wait for spring?’

There was another sign on a restaurant door that said, ‘closed because of lack of customers.’ I guess that’s my fault; nasty implications with that sign.

Why not be positive with your customers? Why not close because you’re giving your business a face lift, or you’re having a face lift? My friend had a sign on her restaurant that said ‘owner taking a cruise; she needs it. Thanks for being my customers see you on July 1.’ Those of us, who know Carmella knows she works really hard and deserves a vacation.  We were all excited to welcome her back and ask about the cruise. She even came with gifts for her ‘regulars.’

Customers always want to know, ‘what’s in it for me?’  There’s nothing in it for me when the cook leaves. We all listen to the radio station, ‘what’s in it for me.’ WIIFM. If you do something that inconveniences the customer you can be sure they won’t be happy.

If you can’t make the customer happy, at least make them laugh, or  hold their hands to improve the customer experience.

 

Lisbeth Calandrino has been helping businesses build sales and customer service strategies for over twenty years. To have Lisbeth consult with you, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com.

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19 04, 2015

If you Can’t Change it, How do you Know When to Give it up?

By |2017-03-03T12:06:53-05:00April 19th, 2015|Categories: Advertising, Blog, Blogging, Customer Service, Managing the Customer Experience, The Millenniums|Tags: , , , , |0 Comments

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