If you haven’t heard of Periscope, it’s the next big thing in social media. And now, Suite Spotte is on it!
Every Wednesday, a few of our members get together during lunch to have an “Entrepreneur Mastermind”. One person is randomly chosen to be in the “hot seat”. There they can discuss something new and exciting in their business, ask the group for advice, or tell everyone about a new tool or service they use and love.
Since this group organically formed in May, members have helped each other overcome the hurdles and celebrate the successes that come with being a business owner.
The last Mastermind in June was broadcasted on Periscope by Amber Schultz, and had over 75 viewers from around the globe.
Here is the recording of that Mastermind, minus the comments of people watching the broadcast…
What advice would you have given Terry had you been at the Mastermind?
Are you considering blogging for your business, but don’t really see the point? Or have you written a few posts, then not seen any return?
You’ve heard that successful businesses should be blogging, but why? And how?
The biggest “why” is connecting with customers and clients. Businesses can blog about the problems their customers face, success stories, how to best use their latest product, or a “peek behind the curtain” with an employee interview. In every one of these cases, the business is conveying their message while giving the customers some real value.
And while blogging like a boss might not come naturally at first, with a little knowledge and a few posts under your belt, you will be connecting and sharing like the best of ‘em. And seeing the loyalty and sales boosts that come with it!
Five Simple Steps To Start Blogging Like a Boss
“Engagement” is certainly the buzz word of the online world these days. But, every is talking about it because it is incredibly important.
Being engaging doesn’t necessarily mean conversational. It simply means having the ability to capture the reader’s attention. Try a question at the beginning of the article (like the one at the beginning of this article!) to make readers think, relate, and, most importantly, read on!
Questions don’t just have to be at the beginning of the article either. Add a question at the end and encourage people to comment with their opinions on the subject.
If you’re not sure if you’re engaging enough, think of your blog post as a form of social media (which it is). Would your post make someone want to dive in and connect?
Have you ever come across a blog post that appeared to be a never-ending wall of text? Did you make it to the end of that article? Didn’t think so. Break up your words with some eye-catching images. Add a photo, a text-based graphic, a video, or an infographic that relates to the topic while staying in your brand’s image.
People will be more willing to stay with you through your entire thought when you accompany your words with something interesting to look at.
How long should your blog post be? Well, that’s really up to you. But, whether 300 or 1200 words, you want to keep it straight to the point. Get your whole idea across without losing your audience by being incredibly focused.
If you have hit 1500 words and feel that you could go on for another 2000, consider breaking up your thought into two or three easily-digestible and hyper-focused posts.
Remember when your mom told you to “just be yourself”? Nothing could be more true as you blog. Remember that people are reading your blog because they love your writing style, your ideas, and your message. They want to hear from YOU, not who you think you should pretend to be. Be sassy, or silly, or intricate, or grand…just as long as it’s absolutely you and your brand.
In the age of digital marketing, authenticity is the name of the game.
Can you imagine if I started off this post with one point, then drifted to the next, then went back, then threw in a brand new idea in the last sentence? You would rightfully be reading it thinking, “Huh?”
Your thoughts need flow cohesively in an organized way. If they don’t, your audience won’t be able to understand the message you’re trying to convey…and your message is everything.
Now, you don’t have to dig up the notes from your college composition course and start diagraming your blog post.
There are simple tricks to keep everything organized.
• Use clear, simple headings to help your blog posts flow together.
• Leave plenty of white space in your articles, with paragraphs being 3 sentences, max.
• Bold main sentences so that the reader can skim through and pull out highlights before committing to reading.
• Use lists or bullet points (like these) to break up each thought.
Each of these organizational tips encourages comprehension and helps the readers come away with a greater understanding of who you are as a business and, perhaps more importantly, a person.
It’s time to lose the blogging procrastination and frustration, and start putting your message out for all to see. Start blogging like a boss, then tell us all about it in the comments below!
As a freelancer, solopreneur or small business owner, perhaps you’ve just made your first sale. Congratulations! Now what? How are you going to collect that money you worked so hard to get?
Maybe this ISN’T your first sale, but you’ve been struggling for some time to find the right bookkeeping system that fits your work style and budget.
In the past, you had to download software and there was a learning curve to using the software. But with more evolved invoicing tools today, you have all of your bookkeeping information at your fingertips merely by logging in.
If you’re not quite ready to turn your invoicing over to a professional, here are some tools for invoicing that leave the rest in their dust:
Features: With this tool, online invoicing for freelancers and small business has never been easier. Not only that, but you can manage expenses for any employees you may have. For the mobile user, there is an app available for Android, BlackBerry and iPhone.
Freshbooks includes a time tracker that you can set up so that you track the number of hours you worked on a particular project, or the number of hours you worked for a particular client. When you log your time, it is automatically transferred to your time sheet for the week.
A generated invoice will automatically populate with the amount of time spent on each task and the hourly rate, and will calculate a total. You can email the invoice with just a click of the button, and can see when the client has logged in to view and pay the invoice.
The reporting feature is also pretty neat. Simply pick any number of invoicing periods and find out immediately how much revenue was invoiced in that period.
Pricing: Free for one client. With more than one client, you have to upgrade to the Pro version, which is only $19.95 a month.
Features: What differentiates this tool from others is its project management capability. If your company doesn’t already use a project management tool, this may be a good way to kill two birds with one stone.
There’s also a nice little client organization system built in, so it’s almost a mini CRM. It is also able to integrate with many e-commerce stores.
Pricing: Free for up to three clients. $19.95 a month for the next lowest cost plan (up to 100 clients). So the free plan would be great for beginning freelancers, and the $19.95 plan would work the best for a small business.
Features: Zoho has become a well-known name in social and CRM. It has dozens of integrations, including eight different payment gateways, all the other Zoho products, and several document sharing services.
It also has some of the best customer support of all the invoicing tools. For those interested in adding artistic flair to their invoices, this is surely one to try.
Pricing: Free for up to five customers. $15 a month for those small businesses needing up to 500 invoices a month.
Features: Nutcache is extremely popular with freelancers and small businesses because of the ease of changing the logo and color scheme for your invoices.
This invoicing solution is the hands-down winner for small businesses, as it has a VERY strong project management component integrated in the tool. Project dashboards give you up-to-date statuses in nine different metrics – see real versus estimated results on your current projects. The collaborative boards is a colorful, organized way for the team to share ideas.
Pricing: Free for two users, for two companies. The next Pro level is $14/month, which includes two users and unlimited companies.
Features: Ronin is a tech savvy person’s dream. You can customize your invoices with your own HTML or CSS. You can send an estimate to your client, and compare how close you are to the estimate at each stage of your project. Ronin also has a built-in CRM, allowing detailed contact information for each client.
Pricing: Free for two companies, one staff user. Next plan is at $15/month for 30 clients and one staff user.
Stop spinning your wheels for several hours trying to make a professional invoice. Use these tools that meet our Gold Standard to bring balance back into your business.
As Google moves out, coworking giant WeWork is moving into the River North space in Chicago. The 105,000 square foot building at 20 W. Kinzie St. will be the new home for the WeWork team. This $5 billion company, as it was valued in December, will make history in Chicago. According to Skokie-based Alter Group, which owns the 17-story office building, it’s the largest deal by a coworking firm ever in Chicago. What does this monumental deal mean for the world of coworking in the Chicago area and beyond?
The old way of working was based on face-time. The level of productivity was determined by the amount of time spent at your desk. This is no longer the case: telecommuting and coworking allow workers a great flexibility in when and where they choose to work.
Having such a high-profile deal really puts the spotlight on coworking not only in Chicago, but across the nation from New York to San Francisco. As a result of this deal, more people will be introduced to the concept of coworking than ever before.
Currently, coworking is a solution mostly employed by solopreneurs and small businesses. However, with WeWork’s presence in many big cities, more national companies may be able to appreciate what coworking has to offer. This is a significant step for the coworking industry.
Coworking spaces bring many benefits to those that take advantage of them including: WiFi, printing, meeting spaces and common areas. These amenities allow others to work as if they were in an actual office without the time and location restraints.
Coworking also promotes the exchange of ideas through networking. Opportunities like these are difficult to come by in a traditional office setting, where people are often stuck at their desks for a good majority of the day, without much interaction with colleagues and management.
This great surge in coworking awareness will undoubtedly lead to more spaces opening (such as Suite Spotte) and more opportunities for people to reap the benefits that coworking has to offer. Through the events offered by the coworking space and the potential for networking, coworking presents more opportunities for business growth than a home office or traditional office space.
This deal with Alter Group will create a new coworking awareness among all companies, both small and national. It will allow a generation of new economic opportunities in Chicago, and foster subsequent new coworking opportunities across the nation.
If you are ready to see if coworking might be for you, try Suite Spotte just for the summer with our Summer Camp!
Collaboration (or “collab” as we call it here at Suite Spotte) is where true magic happens. People with different talents and different perspectives seek a common goal, which happens often in a coworking space. The collaborative whole is much better than each of its respective parts because each person contributes to the group like a jigsaw puzzle – each individual is incredibly integral to the sum of its parts.
When you have a team of people that works remotely, communication can often become an obstacle. As small business technology focuses on more entrepreneurial problems, it has acknowledged this and responded with tools that help break down the barriers to communication between team members and facilitate team growth.
Founded by Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and ex-engineer Justin Rosenstein, Asana enables teamwork without email. Each team gets a workspace, which contains projects, and projects contain tasks.
Tasks can include notes, comments, attachments and tags. Users can follow tasks and get project updates to their inboxes. The application is free for up to 15 people with endless amounts of tasks. Premium plans exist for larger organizations.
Trello is a free system that uses a webpage format called a “board” to create lists for your project. The lists are broken up into cards that can be dragged between lists.
The cards can have pictures, files, hyperlinks and checklists. You can color-code cards for better organization. The progress meter lets you keep real-time track of your project’s progress. It’s a really great tool for visual people with its drag-and-drop style.
Slack is like a project management and chat tool all in one. Separate your chats by projects or by people. You can name rooms for various clients or functions within your company. Slack eliminates the need for email with the ability to attach documents right within the interface.
Employees can use this platform via web, desktop or mobile to chat with their colleagues, share documents and set statuses. Because it’s now owned by Microsoft, you can even integrate it with SharePoint.
Dropbox is a must have for every business owner. Store and share articles, videos and more from any device, from anywhere. You can share your folders with an unlimited number of people, and that folder will show up in that person’s folder list. Best of all, Dropbox is free initially, with higher storage plans starting at $9.99/month.
Google Docs is free, and better yet, it integrates with your Gmail and your Google Calendar. You can make changes directly onto the documents without having to download them first, and others that you have given viewing permission to can see your documents in real time.
What tools do you use to collaborate with your team? Share them below!