I started listening to podcasts because I love audio. In my early twenties I was at a garage sale and came upon a stack of cassette tape programs. I believe there were five. They were all fully intact and I think I paid $10 for the bunch. The two that I remember well and listened to over and over were Wayne Dyer’s Manifest your Destiny and Earl Nightingale’s Lead the Field. These programs had a significant impact on my life. Earl Nightingale in particular really spoke about how we make choices each day in our lives . Choices to do or not do. The stories that he told about taking responsibility for your life hit me to the core. At that time I was an outside salesperson and I drove around a lot. I listened to those tape programs again and again. I read that your car should be a mobile university and that if you weren’t listening to tapes that would help improve your effectiveness in your career or give you a higher level of motivation you were wasting time. I agreed. From there I consumed hours of audio and written materials. I checked audio books out from the library, I scoured thrift stores and yard sales. When I got my first smart phone I downloaded audio books from the library. And then one day I found podcasts. Audio programs were traditionally really expensive, thus my search to borrow and attain my audio programs second hand. When I realized that all of this audio content was free, my mind was blown and I was hooked.
Fastforward to today and my love the of the podcast industry grows steadily. Recent reports show that podcast listenership in America went from 46 million monthly listeners to 57 million monthly listeners in a year. People are finding this medium and they are loving it. As I’ve mentioned in my past episode this love of podcasts combined with my experience in marketing has led me to create my new business True Native Media, where I’m able to connect podcasts with advertisers. This business has been such a wonderful experience of creation and connection and as the company has grown I’ve had to evaluate my time commitments and focus on my goals.
I started my podcast Leap to Grow because I have such a love of business. Having started several companies and learned so much along the way, I’ve had a deep desire to help others grow their companies and support them on their journey to experience the thrill of success and the satisfaction that only comes from owning your own business. I’ve had the privilege of working with many business coaching clients and continue to work with individuals to provide accountability, inspiration and guidance for creating a profitable business. The focus of Leap to Grow has been on business development. A big part of business development is sales and marketing. Some might argue and I’d be one of them that sales and marketing are the two most important cornerstones in any business.
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted an article on Leap to Grow, or published an episode on the podcast. During this time I’ve been evaluating the program, trying to decide what I want to provide the world as a podcaster and an entrepreneur. The idea of giving up the podcast altogether really wasn’t an option for me. I love the show and as I mentioned I love everything there is to love about the industry. Keeping the show was a must. However, I want to be able to use this podcast to discuss the power of podcasts and digital marketing as a whole and that is why I’ll be launching The Business of Podcasting starting in the next episode. If you’re a current subscriber, you won’t need to do anything, because I’ll be transitioning Leap to Grow, by basically just changing the name. What you can do to help is please subscribe to the show if you aren’t already a subscriber and please share the show with those that you feel might benefit from listening.
So what can you expect from the Business of Podcasting. On the new program I’ll continue to provide information about how to grow your business, but it will have a much greater focus on sales and marketing. It will also feature people from the podcast industry and advertising world. It will feature the newest information about the power of podcasts and why advertising on a podcast is an excellent form of marketing.
I’m really excited to launch the new program and I’m thrilled that you’ll be listening.
As a business owners we are creators and builders. A business owner takes nothing more than ideas, dreams and aspirations and creates something out of nothing. As you walk through this process whether you’re just beginning or you’ve been in business for many years you are choosing the type of organization to create. I mention this because you can always change the type of company that you’re creating. If you start out as a solopreneur and then decided that you’d really like a team, or if you have a team and decide you’d really like to have no team at all, these are changes that you can make in your company. You simply need to form a plan and work toward that. Today I want to talk about the types of organizations you can create to allow you to see which model will best to suite your needs.
1. Solopreneur – a solopreneur is just as it sounds someone who works alone. Typically, a solopreneur doesn’t have any employees. You are a one woman or man band. You’ve created the product or service and you’re doing it all. Many solopreneurs may surround themselves with others to help. Contract labor is your ally as a solopreneur. Many times a bookkeeper/account/tax preparing will be hired. Online automated delivery systems may be used and frequently a VA or Virtual Assistant will be part of your team of contract labors. If you are a solopreneur there is often no need for an office space and working from home is a good option. Your overhead is low as a solopreneur. One of the largest expenses in business is employees. If you don’t have employees you also don’t have payroll taxes and benefits that are required by employees. The biggest limitation of the solopreneur is time. You are just one person and you don’t have the ability to do more than you have time in the day. Solopreneurships can be very profitable. Most solopreneurs are self funded. Because in many cases they are their product and their overhead is low, they don’t typically need funding to start their business.
2. Small Business – when we think of small businesses we often think of the corner store, or gift shop, a dry cleaners or florist. We think “small business.” Often these small businesses are brick and mortar. They have a shop, store or office and typically conduct business in their town and community. They may have an online presence and might even sell products or services online, but the bulk of their business is done face to face. Small businesses can and often do have employees, but not all small businesses have employees. If a small business does not have employees it is often run by a partnership, a family or husband and wife team. A small business can also be a contractor, accountant, dentist or attorney. When you think of small business think, limited service area. You can only service the people within your region. If you are a dentist in order to grow your customer base you would need to open a new office. That may mean opening a second location in the same community or it may mean opening a new office in a different community. Typically, most small businesses have growth goals and many are very profitable. Many small businesses receive funding. This funding can come from different places. It could be money that the founder has saved up, it could be a loan from a friend or family member or it could be a loan from a bank such as a government back SBA (Small Business Administration) loan.
3. Startup – Paul Graham, founder of Y Combinator an early stage funding organizations in Silicon Valley, CA says this about Startups. “A startup is a company designed to grow fast. Being newly founded does not in itself make a company a startup. Nor is it necessary for a startup to work on technology, or take venture funding, or have some sort of “exit.” The only essential thing is growth. Everything else we associate with startups follows from growth.” So what does growth mean? Growth means offering your product or service to a huge number of customers and staffing your company with a huge number of people to service the distribution of that product or service. When we think of Startups we think big scale. Often, start ups will seek funding from angel investors or venture capitalist. This is a type of funding for a new or growing business. It usually comes from venture capital firms that specialize in building high-risk financial portfolios. With venture capital, the venture capital firm gives funding to the startup company in exchange for equity in the startup.
These are three types of organizations you may want to build. There of course are many others, such as franchises, online product companies, Ebay or Amazon selling companies and many other types of organizations. Consider the type of company you’re forming. Think about what you want in life. Your business should be an extension of who you are as a person, and should fit in well with the lifestyle you desire. After selling my company that I would put in the small business category and moving into the solopreneur category, I realized I missed the energy of working and collaborating with others. I missed working on a team. Now that I have that insight I’m working to build a Startup. Time will tell if my company will be a Startup or a small business, but either is good for me. I know that I want to build a team.
What type of company do you want to build?
I’m in sales. I love sales. If you were to ask me what I do, I’d say I’m a sales person. I’ve always been proud to be in sales. When I worked in corporate America the salespeople were the people that made the money. Of course at that point in my life I was very green and young and the idea of driving a BMW was awe inspiring. It never occurred to me that people didn’t want to be identified as a salesperson until as an employer I had employees tell me that they hated the idea of being a salesperson. At that moment I questioned my heritage in sales and wondered if I should be ashamed, but only for a moment and then I moved on and resumed my love for my trade.
When something comes up that I find interesting in sales I always jump on it. One of my favorite podcasts Eventual Millionaire had a guest on recently- Steli Efti of Close.io which is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management Software) During his interview he hit my sales core. He knew sales, really understood sales and told stories of following up with people consistently for years before they committed to buy. I loved what he said. He offered a free e-book at the end of his interview so I jumped on it. Truth told, I’m only about half way through his book and this is why. He talked about an email sales strategy that I’d never considered and recommended the book Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross & Marylou Tyler. I pick up that book and I’ve been digesting its contents since.
I’m an old school sales person. I was trained by some of the best and they were trained by some of the best from 1950. Consequently I sell in the school way. This is my model.
- Make LOTS of cold phone calls
- Make more cold phone calls
- Walk into businesses and cold call
- Form relationships
This model has been my life and works very well. I’m not afraid to cold call because in essence that’s what I’ve done for my entire career- cold call. Turns out you do get good at it and used to it after 10+ years. However, this book turned me on my head a bit and I’d like to share some of the concepts I learned and will by applying in my businesses.
1. Have someone dedicated to prospecting.
Many of you are solopreneurs (as I currently am) and having a single person committed to prospecting isn’t an option. However, the idea of having a dedicated person or dedicated time to prospecting is huge. You can’t succeed in selling a product if you don’t have prospects. Make the job of prospecting important, but more importantly make the job of find qualified prospects your top job. If you can find qualified prospects the sales process is much easier.
2. Send out 50-100 cold emails per day 4 days a week and monitor open and bounce rate.
This allows you to see what is working. If you know that someone is opening your emails or that your bounce rate is low you can be satisfied that what you are sending is being seen and heard. If your bounce rate is high, or your emails aren’t getting opened you can consider why. Do you have a bad subject line? Does your opener not pull them in?
3. Consider your subject line.
This is the most important part of the email. If your subject line isn’t spot on people won’t read your email. I’ve heard it said that using a person’s name in the subject line is a great way to get their attention and increases open rate. I’ve been experimenting and it does seem to be working.
4. Do NOT be overly sales or verbose in your emails.
People don’t like to get unsolicited emails, do you? My guess is no. I always try to think about it from the other person’s perspective. If I get an unsolicited email, I open it up and it’s a book about them, I delete it straight away. If you get an unsolicited email with just a line or two of text, it feels more sincere and you’re more apt to read it. You’re also more apt to respond. I’ve been using this tactic and it’s worked.
5. Track that things that really matter.
I’ve been tracking number of calls for years. This book contends that call tracking is not the metric we should be after but instead recommends tracking these five things:
- New leads created per month
- Conversion rate of leads to opportunities
- Number of qualified opportunities generated each month
- Conversion rate of opportunity conversations to close deals
- Booked revenue in: new business, add-on business and renewal business
You should review your core metrics weekly.
6. And last, but not least is set 3 clear goals per day.
Ask yourself if I don’t get anything else, but these three things done today what will they be.
I would not be where I’m at in business or in life without relationships.
They are so valuable. I’ve found that so many people are very intimidated by the idea of forming relationships. The few who are salesy, and spammy and just not fun to be around destroy it for the rest of us. None of us want to be “that person.” This fear keeps people closed up when the best thing they could do for their business and often their lives is to get out there and meet people. We also get hung up on meeting the “right” people. We focus so intently on the people that will advance our company’s growth that we sometimes miss great opportunities because they don’t look like we think they should look. I was in a Podcasting Forum just the other day and someone asked is it okay to call or email people and to interview them for my podcast. Questions like these leave me dumbfounded. Of course it’s okay. And not only is it okay, if you want to interview people on your podcast in imperative.
Here are some tips for building strong relationships.
Put yourself out there.
You have to go to places where you can meet people. These will include business networking functions, online forums and mastermind groups. You aren’t going to meet anyone sitting in your home or office. Get out there be it in person or online!
Be of service.
People are turned off by the a person when they believe that person is simply trying to get something. If you are trying to give something people are a lot more open. In every interaction you have think- how can I be of service to this person? How can you make their lives and businesses better. Starting an approach with that in mind will put you in a giving place. Please let to receive and if they find that in each conversation or interaction they have with you that you’re providing value that will result in their valuing of you.
People want you to be yourself. They aren’t looking for a super polished, perfect business owner. They are looking for honesty. Express your true enthusiasm for your business and for the person you’re interacting with. This genuine excitement and likability will translate into powerful relationships.
Seek first to understand and then be understood.
This is one of my favorites from Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. We need to listen first. Talk to the other person about themselves first! If we are trying to understand the other person, we are more likely to build strong relationships. I’ve found that when I meet someone I want to form a relationship with when I start with their dreams, goals, path it flows over into my mission as well. If the person you’re talking with is worth forming a relationship with they will ask you about you and your business. If they never do chances are they aren’t someone you want to form a powerful relationship with. TALK less about yourself, and more about the other person.
Go deeper with the relationship.
If you find someone that you connect with deepen the relationship by requesting one on one time with that person. It might be a coffee date or a Skype chat. Ask them how you could be of service to them? Ask them what types of clients they want and how you can help them find those clients. (Secret tip: and then deliver. If you are able to offer that person a referral or two that will go a long way in solidifying your relationship)
You need powerful relationships because we all need people to help our businesses grow. You never know who you are talking too and how they can help you get to where you’d like to be. As you grow as a business owner be willing to help others just as much as you receive help. Giving is the cornerstone of powerful relationships.
Working at home sounds so wonderful, doesn’t it?
You can roll out of bed and be at work. Your commute time, none existent. You can get odd jobs done around the house while you work and if you are a parent you can care for your children and work at the same time. This is the dream of so many.
When I started my trade show production company I worked from home for a short while and when I was starting my online coaching program working from home sounded like a good plan. If you do have children it’s nice to be able to care for them and not have the need to put them in childcare. My reasons for working out of my home included, convenience, cost and I wasn’t planning to work full time so I didn’t see the need for any office. I just planned to work when I wanted and then shift gears and take care of the house and children. This worked well for about a year and half, but I’m done working at home. I’m ready to move into a real office building. Here’s why:
I have a really hard time focusing on work at home. There are so many distractions. Obviously, caring for the children is at the top of the list so while they are at home you must prioritize their care and nurturing. I’ve found as a mom that even if my husband is at home and I’m “working” I still get called on to help find a lost item, grab a drink for a small child not able to manage alone and for handling meltdown situations. The overall cleanliness of the house is also a major distraction for me. I can’t sit down to work if I don’t have a clean space to work in. So inevitably I find myself cleaning the house before I get to work. I just have a hard time focusing.
Lack of space.
I’m fortunate to live in a very cute little beach house. I love it so much. However, it is a little beach house and I don’t have a dedicated office space at home. For a while I was working out of my bedroom on a desk that I very much liked. I had a great view of my backyard and the birds that came and went throughout the day. It was good, but then my husband’s online business needed a space and he slowly crept in. It’s hard to run a business with your spouse and sharing a desk was out of the question. Next, I turned to a walk in closet and created an efficient albeit small office that was all my own. It had a door I could close. It had a desk, printer, and wi-fi. What else would I need?? It turns out cell reception. Because this space was a closet, with no windows the cell reception was bad and when you’re a phone coach that doesn’t really work out. The dining room table and standing height counter (that I might add I’ve become quite fond of) have become my areas to work. And while they work, they are smack dab in the center of the household action.
I need an escape from my house. I’ve found that when you are in the same place day after day you become stir crazy. I need to get out of the house. I need to talk face to face with other adult humans. I need to have a change of scenery. I’ve tried coffee shops and the library but the issue with these venues is the set up time. At a coffee shop there is the chore of standing in line and waiting to order. As well as the unknown of finding a table and an outlet for my computer. The library is better, but I find I spend time concerning myself with those around me. These spaces also do not allow for real conversations with customers, clients, strategic partners or podcast recordings or interviews. They work okay if you will be doing nonverbal work, but I’m a very verbal person. I need an escape and the question is where do I escape too?
A place of my own.
One of my big goals as a location independent entrepreneur is to keep the items I have to have to run my business as minimal as possible. The items I need to work currently include: my phone, my laptop and my mic. A pair of headphones are wonderful, but not entirely necessary. I don’t want to need anything else. Of course I have many books, and binders; things I refer to, but my goal is to need as few items as possible so that in the event that I want to travel as my children age, or if I want to go somewhere for the day or weekend and work I can very easily. My favorite tool is Google Docs and one of my hopes is that through the use of Dropbox and Google Docs I can have everything I need online as well so that in the event of a computer crash or in a pinch I’m able to use another computer to perform my work. That being said, I want a place of my own. As a wife and mother when I set something down there is no telling if I will see that item again. Finding that item in the same place I left it is a 50/50 gamble. As a business owner I’ve always had partners. For the first time I do not have partners and truth told I’m looking forward to having a space that I can design, arrange and create for myself.
For those reasons I’ve decided that now is the time to get an office space outside of my home. I’ll be moving into my space this Saturday. Here’s how I was able to get a space that makes sense for me.
1. I didn’t rent an entire office building.
I can’t afford to rent an office and it’s not just the money. I don’t want a big space that I would need to fill. That wouldn’t solve my problem. I wanted to sublet a space and that’s what I did.
2. How to find an office to share or sublet.
There are these amazing places popping up all over called co-working spaces. These are offices that have been created for people who don’t need or can’t afford an office space. Options for co-working spaces vary. All provide a place to work, wi-fi and restroom facilities. Many provide a space that is your own, a conference room and beverage bar. These spaces are great. I looked at a couple, but both were about 30 minutes from my house and I didn’t want and don’t have time for an hour commute each day. The other option is to sublet from a current business. I live in a small town and though I scoured Craigslist I wasn’t able to find an office to sublet so I went door to door. I literally walked from business to business and asked them if they had an extra space they might want to sublet. And after an afternoon going door to door I found two spaces willing to sublet. One was even willing to sublet an office space in exchange of business coaching.
3. My financial commitment is important.
I am committing to $200 flat each month for my office space, including wi-fi. This will allow me to keep my expenses low and to have the space I need. What I want and what I’ve got are two different things. What I want is a large loft type artsy, trendy office with big windows, modern furniture and great coffee. What I’m getting is a small space in a hippie hangout. I’ll be taking a small desk from home and have committed to not spending money on office furniture until I am able to rent an office of my choice. And when I’m ready to rent the office of my choice I will create the exact space I want. It will be a beautiful thing. This is a big motivation for me. I was tempted to buy a new desk and chair and floor mat, but decided that they wouldn’t serve me. I’d much rather have the dream of something bigger, a carrot and a goal to shoot for.
I’m super excited to be moving into an office space. I’m excited to leave the house at 8am and head to “work” and when I get there, I won’t do dishes, or fold laundry. I won’t be called upon to find a lost toy or to right a wrong in a dispute among siblings. I won’t have to stand in line and hope for a table that is somewhat ergonomically correct, but really just way to high to type at. I won’t have the distraction of conversations around me at the library. I’ll have space to focus. I’ll also have time with my children. I’ll be able to drop them off at school and pick them up. I’ll be able to volunteer on the PTA and take them to their activities. I’ll be there for dinner time, homework and bedtime. I won’t have it all because I believe that’s just not possible, but I will have a lot of what I want, and I’m looking forward to it.
Life’s a journey isn’t it? As I reflect on the past 12 years of my entrepreneurial life there have been so many highs and several lows. After selling my largest company in 2014 I was happy to have some time and space to reflect on life and be with my children and husband. Yet, as a person accustomed to making things happen it was important to me to start something new. I’d had so much success with business coaching and had such a love of entrepreneurship that business coaching seemed a natural fit, so I went through training and opened by business coaching practice. Nearly simultaneously I had stumbled across the podcasting industry. I’ll never forget my husband coming home and saying, “Have you ever listened to a podcast?” I loved audiobooks and had tried to listen to podcasts in the past, but hadn’t had much success (because I didn’t have a smartphone). When I truly discovered podcasts, I was all in. I listened non-stop. The thought that kept rolling around in my mind was, they do this for free? All of this great information and it’s free. I was in love. The next logical step was to start my own podcast which has been fun and taught me so much.
As my business coaching practice took root I saw all the benefits and opportunities to be had as a coach, but I also saw the challenges. I was used to having a team and working on a collective mission and project. Working by myself was something I knew wasn’t going to be sustainable and while I love coaching and will continue to be a coach I saw that I needed something more.
Having started my career in advertising sales I’ve always had a keen eye for ads. The more podcasts I listened to the more I was surprised by how few had ads. As I developed relationships and was able to follow Facebook groups on the topic of Podcasting I saw the need and desire to monetize podcasts. Podcasters are happy to be podcasting, but it’s a lot of work and at the end of the day if they’re not making money they’re going to stop as some point. I began to investigate the companies that specialized in selling podcast advertising. To my surprise (okay, maybe I wasn’t that surprised) they only serviced the top 1% of podcasts. If a podcast had a ton of downloads they were able to hire a company to help them “sell” ads on their podcast. I thought, what about the rest of the shows. Simply because they don’t have 100,000 or even 10,000 listeners per episode doesn’t mean they don’t have a great, targeted and very loyal listenership.
True Native Media was born. I had to help service these podcasts. There are many, many companies that would love to advertise on podcasts and many, many podcasts that would love to have those advertisements on their show. That’s where I come in. True Native Media is connecting these businesses. This idea was one that’s kept me up at night. An idea that came to me in a flash and felts so comfortable, so doable and I’m so passionate about it!
I’ve been working on the business for about six weeks. I have the website www.truenativemedia.com, and contracts finished and I have my first customers. As an entrepreneur I’ve found there are businesses that feel right, and there are those that merely appeal for their money making characteristics. True Native Media isn’t about just making money, it’s about passion and building an organization that is going to help foster the growth of business.
I’m on cloud nine. If you know of a podcaster who’d like to have advertisers, or of a business that would like to advertise on a podcast send them my way. True Native Media is open for business!