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Posts tagged ‘small business’

Tips To Network Successfully

I’m so excited to lead a new networking chapter in Fairfax, Nexco. It was founded by a great group of businessmen whom I consider friends, and I’m honored to have been chosen to be the voice of this particular chapter.

I’ve done a lot of networking over the years, and I hear people say all of the time how much they hate networking. I disagree. I think networking can be fun, and quite beneficial if done right.  Follow these steps to not only enjoy networking, but to do it successfully as well.

 

First off, remember that networking is not about you landing a job/client. It’s about gaining information from a business and giving enough information about yours in order for them to use that as a stepping stone. It’s a means to an end, not the end.

 

When you enter the room, first go to those you know. It will make the transition easier, especially if your nervous. Plus, those you know, know you best, and may already have met someone they think would be a good referral for you.  When you meet someone, don’t make it all about you. Networking is much like dating; it’s an opportunity to get to know them and in turn, for them to get to know you. This is where you gauge whether there is a connection between your businesses, or possibly between them and one that you know.

After a networking event, reach out to those you wish to continue a conversation with. Ask them for coffee within 2 weeks of meeting. This way, the conversation stays fresh, and any topics that were hot or would be considered leads will still be warm when you meet.

Before you meet, do research on the business you’re meeting with. You want to look invested and interested in what they have to say and to offer. By being educated, they may be more interested in connecting you to other professionals as well.

 

Now, for that pesky “I hate networking” feeling of yours. Make yourself a promise to go to x number of networking events (tomorrow’s event is a great start!) and to make X number of connections, and when you do, reward yourself with whatever small thing makes you happy. Part of what makes networking so overwhelming is, well, the actual events are overwhelming. But, as I say, the only way to eat a whole elephant is to take small bites, so relax! Think of this as an adventure, and a positive path to your success!

 

Join me tomorrow at Brion’s Grille in University Mall in Fairfax from 11:30-1pm for some great networking with local businesses!

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How Instagram Can Help Build Your Audience (Even If You’re a Service-Based Company)

Yes, I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted a blog (sorry about that!) I’ve been so focused on building the businesses of my clients, I’ve ignored my home, I’ll try to be better, I promise.

I’ve been on quite a journey these past few months. Some amazing things have been happening in Chez VersaTel Solutions, which I can’t wait to share with you (soon enough). Within this journey I’ve also become aware of things that I had taken advantage of and really didn’t realize until someone else mentioned it. What am I talking about, you ask? Instagram of course!

Originally, I joined Instagram because it was new and I could see the potential of the benefits of marketing through this new social media platform-I didn’t really know how just yet, but I liked it! Eventually, my pictures became less about the food I was eating and more about the meetings I was having. I’ve received more interest than I thought I would get just for snapping pictures at meetings and events I attend. It’s made potential clients turn into real clients, and garnered enough interest to make me busy enough to well, have to let my blog go (at least for a little while).

How can Instagram work for your business? In various ways. Take a picture before a meeting to show you are out and about; snap a shot of your work environment to give people an insider’s look; if you’re attending a networking event, take shot of the event and make sure to hashtag it. If I can make office management exciting, believe me, so can you.

If you sell products, this is a great forum in which to show off your wares. Take pictures of your products being created, of your products being delivered, or, if you deliver them yourself, take a picture of your happy clients. Ask your clients to hashtag your business, or if they can tag you if they post a picture of you or your products.  There are so many ways to take advantage of Instagram; its a matter of making use of it.

Here at VersaTel Solutions we want to help you get your business, your products and your services out there to people you otherwise wouldn’t be able to reach. Contact us to learn more about what we can do for you; if you’re on Instagram, follow me: http://instagram.com/sevanastone

Or, if you’re on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/versatelsolutions

Or Twitter: https://twitter.com/Versa_Tel

Spring Clean Your Business!

Ok, so it’s almost summer-we’re only a few days away! However, it’s never too late to spring clean, especially when it comes to your business. Regular evaluations will help you stay on point and focused on your ultimate goals. How do you spring clean a business?

 

Start wtih updating your website and social media by taking stock of what your online presence looks like. Is there something on your site that could be updated? Are there pictures you could remove because they’re too old, or has the vision of your business shifted since you created your site? Tighten things up, fix the details and update everything you see fit. Keep your website relevant to where your business is today.

 

When I worked in retail, once a year we would have a staff meeting to address issues we had allowed to stay stagnant as opposed to resolving them. The same should go for your staff. It’s important to remind them where they are headed and to reflect together on what the common goal is. Address issues on both ends-yours and theirs-to make sure everyone stays on the same page.

 

If the vision of your business hasn’t changed, or, you just haven’t had time to do anything about it, you may want to take the time now to touch base with your business plan. Revisit it and update it once a year to keep pace with the rest of your company. Go back to basics to keep you chugging along the track you want to stay on!

 

We all hate emails that just sit there don’t we? At some point we look at our inbox and think “How did I acquire 12,000 unopened emails?”  Pour a cup of coffee, push up your sleeves, and clear out your afternoon to organize and delete emails. If you just can’t afford to do that, consider hiring someone to do it for you (*hint, it’s one of the options we offer!) The minor cost to take care of this is worth its weight in gold.

 

Lastly, literally, clean your office! Clean off your desk, dust, and vacuum. It’s important to do this at least once a month, but hey, I get it, you’re busy! If you can do this at least once a quarter, you’re still in better shape than most people.

 

So, what are you waiting for? Get cleaning!

 

 

So, What Do You Do?

How many times have you heard this question? It can essentially make or break an introduction, and depending on how you answer, can either peak a person’s interest, or have them look over you to find someone else to try connecting with.

 

Networking isn’t easy. It’s time consuming, and can be disheartening when your networking is just NOTworking (see what I did there, heheh). A lot of why you may be in a networking rut may have to do with how you begin your conversation.

 

When someone asks you “What do you do?” How do you normally answer? Do you say, “I’m a commercial real estate agent” or do you say “I assist and consult clients in finding the ideal location for their businesses” ?

 

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with saying you’re an XYor Z, but there are likely thousands just like you in your area which doesn’t quite differentiate you in the asker’s mind. People will likely also wonder to themselves “Do I need that service?” I know I don’t need a commercial real estate agent, but if I were to hear the description instead of the title, it would instantly get my brain storming to think of the right referral for them-and I would most likely follow through with it as well.

 

The flipside of this can be just as deadly-telling someone TOO much of what you do. There’s no need to detail every aspect of your business. For example, if you were to visit my Services page, you would find a long list of what my company offers. But, when I’m networking, and someone asks what my company offers, I tell them “We offer office management virtually, we offer bookkeeping, and we offer social media maintenance needs including blogs and newsletters.” Keeping it short, keeps the door open for a possible meeting. That would be the place to expand on your details. Not in the first 30 seconds of meeting someone.

 

One of the great parts of networking is the referral possibilities, but how can someone refer business your way if you say “Oh, anyone looking to buy a place for their business!” No, people don’t want to have to think -be specific, “I’m looking to connect with those in the medical field who want to branch out and open their own offices or those in health and wellness, wanting to dedicate a space for their clients.” This will help the person you’re talking to think of a possible referral or prospect for you.

 

Communicating effectively will save you time (and sometimes money) when networking. Make the time you spend connecting with other businesses more efficient and perfect your networking savvy!

Avoid These Common Tax Mistakes BEFORE Tax Time!

The deadline for taxes has long passed, and those who needed to file an extension surely have done so by now. Many of us have already received our returns, and were a little underwhelmed by what we got back (if anything at all).  Don’t get caught at the last minute next year-avoid these common tax mistakes to stay ahead of the curve!

 

Just because you’re a sole proprietor or are self-employed doesn’t mean  you don’t have to pay taxes on a quarterly basis. Of course, the first year, you get a free pass, however, there are certain exceptions based on how much you make. Get into practice of automatically setting aside a percentage of each payment or revenue, then take stock of your P&L statement each quarter. Pay the taxes each quarter to avoid a hefty payment at the end of the year.

 

Speaking of keeping track, it’s incredibly important to keep track of all of your business expenses, including your miles to properly deduct during tax time.  If you don’t already, consider using an accounting program like Quickbooks to let you record and manage expenses. If you don’t have the time, or the wherewithal to do it, hire a bookkeeper who will enter in and reconcile these transactions on a monthly basis.

 

When tracking your expenses, be sure to determine them accordingly in your Chart of Accounts. What this means is when you have expenses like supplies (printer ink, paper, etc), account for them accordingly. Office Expenses are generally equipment. Why is this important? Because you can write off a portion for each year the appliance is in use or write off the full amount (up to a certain maximum) for the year you purchased. For example, if you bought a new laptop this year, you can write off the full price in your 2014 return. While you’re at it, don’t forget to take the actual home office tax deduction; but do so wisely. There has to be a certain portion of a room, or a dedicated room for your business in order to qualify for writing off a percentage of your home expenses including rent or mortgage payments, utilities and insurance costs.

 

Speaking of deductions: it could be that part of the nature of your business requires you to give gifts to your clients, which is fine. But remember that you can only deduct $25 per recipient. If you give gifts readily, make certain you keep all of your receipts.

 

Discuss your legal structure with a tax advisor or a CPA to help you figure out if your structure is still legitimate. For example, you may have started out as a sole proprietor and are paying too much in self-employment taxes. Creating a C or S Corp, or a LLC could help lower your tax bill.

 

Lastly, and I’ve said this a million times. NEVER, EVER, EVER make business purchases with a personal account! Doing so can lead to a considerable amount of confusion, and lead to legal infractions. Do yourself a favor and open a business account the same day you start your business to get it right from day 1.

 

Are there any mistakes you’ve made in the past that you’ve learned from?

5 Methods To Sustain A Successful Business!

I come across many businesses on a daily basis, and some of them follow my philosophy and some of them look at me as though I’m an alien. I tell people all of the time, to keep their businesses simple and focused-slow and steady wins the race! But, time and time again, I’m met with those who think putting their hands in many pots makes them both versatile and bring them closer to success at a faster rate. Yes, I’ll agree my company offers many different services, however the true service we offer is office management. That’s what I own-a virtual office management company, and to say I’ve moved at a turtles pace in building and sustaining this company of mine is an understatement. It’s the key though to building a secure and strong business! Here are my top ten methods to building and sustaining a successful company. Do you utilize any of these tools?

 

1. Dream Small-When one sets out to start a business, it’s easy to dream big-why not? Mark Zuckerberg dreamed big and look what it got him? Big returns! For the rest of us however, we need to dream small. Be realistic about your goals and don’t set out to reach goal 2 and 3 before you reach 1. Complete each task in it’s entirety or you’ll only set yourself up for failure. Build an air-tight foundation to your business and it cannot fail!

2. Captain or Deckhand? Pick one!-You can’t both lead a boat and row at the same time. It’s impossible. So, why do so many businesses think they can do EVERYTHING by themselves? I hear every excuse, “I can’t afford it”, “I don’t see the point in hiring someone to do what I can just take care of myself” and so on, and so forth. Of course, you can probably manage your office AND do your very focused job, but do you want to? Probably not. Do what you’re really good at, and hand off the rest to keep you from losing focus. Doctors have nurses for a reason…you should have an office manager for that same reason as well.

3.The Elevator Speech-If I asked you to tell me who you are, the name of your company, and an overview of what your business does, could you do it? Of course you could! But, could you do it in 30 seconds? Maybe not.  Rehearse this, even if you don’t need to actually use it, to really boil down the essence of your company. It’s a great practice to help keep you focused on who your business and you are in your core.

4. Mr./Mrs. Right-If there’s anything I’ve learned from networking it’s to be uber specific about who my ideal client is. Do you know who yours is? No, it’s not “Anyone who needs plumbing!” (if you’re a plumber, of course). Write down who your ideal client is, where they live, what they do, etc. to pinpoint your market and draw a clear, narrow path to your success!

5. Get To The Point-What is your ultimate goal for your business other than make money and retire in the Bahamas? Think small here: what is your ultimate goal this year? This month? This week? Take small bites, set small goals and create positive habits to reach those goals consistently!

It’s Been Entirely Too Long….

Ever hear how nail techs have the ugliest nails? Why, you ask? Because they’re so busy making everyone else’s nails fabulous, they have no time to do their own. Well, that’s how I’ve been feeling for the past few months. Business has been great, and things are moving in the right direction, yet at the meantime, I’ve neglected blogging and sharing the information I’ve been gleaning on my journey. I apologize. I really should be more proactive, and I’ve let my blog slip. Please accept the apology-I promise to do better.

 

In the meantime, this has proven as a great example of when one owns a business, and runs it successfully, it’s time to realize what can be done by one person, and what can be delegated out. What’s your time worth? Are you using your time to build business, or are you using it doing frivolous administrative work? It’s been the heart of my business-helping business owners understand what is worth their time, and what isn’t. I’ve done a great job these past few months building a team of incredibly skilled professionals to assist clients and give them the kind of one-on-one focus I strive to achieve with my company. By doing that, I’m able to focus on administrating my own business, and relaying information and experience through the blogs!

 

I promise, I’ll do better. Spring is here, hibernating animals are soon to wake, and me? I’m getting ready to blossom with springs flowers. Who knows what comes next? I guess you’ll have to stick around to find out 🙂

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