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It’s the Season to Appreciate!

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you! I don’t know about you, but at this time of the year I start to zero in on all the things for which am I am grateful, and all the people, too.

I was talking to one of my clients today. They pay me a large sum of money each month, and have for the past 15 years. They basically pay my mortgage each month. At the end of our conversation, I said, “Have I told you lately how very much I appreciate your loyalty to me over these past 15 years?” She was almost embarrassed, but I could tell it meant a lot to her. I take the managers to lunch a couple times a year and they always get a gift at Christmas, and sometimes random cards throughout the year.

I’m not making it up – I really DO appreciate these people and I would be remiss if I didn’t tell them. I never want to take it for granted that there are people who trust me enough to actually give me big checks every month. But let me say here that I also appreciate the smaller customers, because they all add up to a nice income that has weathered even a bad economy. They could probably find an alternative to the service I provide, but they wouldn’t have ME to give them super-duper customer service, send gifts and take them to lunch.

How are you showing your clients you appreciate them? Join me for a free webinar on Friday, Dec. 10 at 10am Eastern time and we’re going to explore this subject of appreciation marketing in depth. You really can’t afford to ignore this.

Register here: http://budurl.com/AppreciationMkt

Develop a Plan to Promote Your Business

Develop-Business-Plan-to-Promote-Your-BusinessIf you’ve been in the business arena for any length of time at all, you’ve heard the words Sales, Marketing, Advertising, and Promotion.  They’re all related, but they’re individual as well.  Today, I want to talk about promoting your business, and this will encompass many things, including some marketing efforts and public relation functions.

The reason we promote our business is to establish name recognition in a positive light. You certainly don’t want your name recognized for a negative reason.  It’s like the difference in famous and infamous.  Both are widely known, but only one is positive. You want people to say, “Oh Yeah!  I’ve heard of them,” when your company name is brought up in conversation.  In order to build this name recognition, we have to find ways to get people to “know us, like us and trust us.”

One very important ingredient in good promotion is to present yourself, your services and your products in the best possible way.  This means avoiding poor quality in promotional material.  If you’re going to have a brochure, have a good one – well-written and free of grammatical and spelling errors.  Have it in a professional, easy-to-read font and use colors that are easy on the eye.  Certain colors work much better than others.  Do your homework.

If you need signage, consider the same – font, color and accuracy.  I have lived in my city for over 20 years.  There is a favorite wallpaper store that I absolutely adore.  But I’ve never understood why they would leave a huge sign up for all these years that has a grammatical error in it.  They put an apostrophe before the “S” at the end of a word that is simply a plural.  And to think – they paid for that extra character from the sign company.  When they opened a new showroom across town, I thought surely the apostrophe would go away.  But no, it traveled with them to their new sign.  Don’t let this be you.  If writing, spelling and grammar are your weaknesses, hire it done.

There are so many ways to promote your business, they are too numerous to mention. Some ideas will be more appropriate for some businesses than another.  Many companies specialize in helping you select just the right promotional pieces.  Find someone you can trust to help you.  For instance, if your market is local, and you have a fairly high-dollar product, have coffee mugs made with your logo. It’s easily worth the few dollars to keep your name before your clients every morning.  One of the nicest promotional gifts I ever received was a great ice cream scoop.  It was from an insurance company, which has nothing to do with ice cream.  But every time I enjoy a scoop or two of my favorite (Haagen Dazs) ice cream, I think of that company and the nice man who gave it to me.  Should I ever want to rethink my insurance needs, I’ll look for my scoop and get his name and phone number.

If you have an online business, your methods of promoting will be much different than for a brick and mortar business.  The main thing is to realize how important promoting your business is, and get started with a plan.  You can always change your plan, but you’ll accomplish nothing without a plan to start with.

Learn Basics and Beyond of Microsoft Excel

Learn-Microsoft-Excel

Be a High-Tech Bean Counter - Learn Excel!

Spreadsheets are one of the most useful tools in your business tool bag.  Even if you never become an expert, just learning to use the raw, simple power of the basics of a software program such as Microsoft Excel will make a huge difference in your efficiency as a business owner or manager.  There are other spreadsheet programs on the market, but Microsoft Excel or the Open Office equivalent is far and away the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla.  Kind of like Google is when you talk about search engines.

Here are some common uses of a spreadsheet for your business:

  • Tracking expenses
  • Recording new sales
  • A record of prices
  • Cash flow projections
  • Keeping track of job times
  • Tracking commissions due and paid

The Uses Are Limited Only By Your Imagination

As you read this list, I’m sure your wheels are turning, and you’re already thinking of many other ways you could use a spreadsheet.  I own a voice messaging company and my “inventory” is phone numbers.  My accounting software had no good way for me to tie a list of phone numbers to a particular client, especially when they added numbers, deleted numbers, etc., as the employees changed.  One of the first spreadsheets I ever learned to make was to keep track of what numbers were assigned to which customer.  That was 17 years ago, and I still use that same spreadsheet.  I cannot imagine running my business without it.  I have another useful spreadsheet that tracks my recurring revenue.  There is a certain element involved in this rather complex business that just isn’t handled the way I prefer in my accounting software, so a spreadsheet does the trick for me.

Text can be added to a spreadsheet as well as charts, graphs and even pictures.  Microsoft Excel is probably one of my most heavily used programs, next to Word, of course!

Once you have entered your data, then the fun starts by making formulas with the basic mathematical functions such as addition, substraction, multiplication and division.  To see what would happen if…just change the number in one cell and watch the magic take place.  It’s a great way to dream of  “what if…” and actually see the numbers come to life.

If you have been wanting to learn the basics or even go beyond the basics that you may already have and add some intermediate and advanced skills, I invite you to visit  Make Excel Work and watch the intro video. I think you’ll really like what you see.

Leave me a comment and tell me how you’re using Excel, if at all.

Can You Be Sued or Fired for Social Media Involvement?

social-media-responsibilityI’ve never actually thought about this, but one of my clients is a well-known attorney in the southeast region of the US who has agreed to do a free webinar on Tuesday, Oct 5 at 3pm on the subject.  Of course, you can’t be fired if you’re the boss…but what if you have employees who are using social media in the name of your company?

I have never seen this subject addressed, and I’m looking forward to learning and getting up to speed on some of the responsibilities of using social media for business, whether I have employees or not.

I invite you to put this on your calendars and join us on Tuesday.  There is no cost, but is a gift to my social media community.  Here is part of a press release about the webinar:

Because of the popularity of internet sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and LinkedIn, employee blogging, tweeting, and friending has become an everyday occurrence. Online social networking sites and blogs can be used for many purposes, including communication with friends and business colleagues, marketing, uploading photos and videos, among other activities. Unfortunately for employers, as this technology continues to progress, develop, and grow, so do related employment law issues.  Join Molly Cherry as she discusses some of the benefits and legal pitfalls behind the use of social networking in the workplace, using real world examples and making some practical suggestions for employers.

Molly Cherry is a member at Nexsen Pruet, LLC, where she practices general business litigation and employment and labor law.  She is a Certified Specialist in Employment and Labor Law by the South Carolina Supreme Court and has been named for four consecutive years in the list of Best Lawyers® and Super Lawyers® in South Carolina.  Ms. Cherry serves on the Board of Directors for the South Carolina Women Lawyers’ Association, the Trident Literacy Association, and the Tri-County Human Resources Management Association.

Look over on the left of the page and you will see a link to sign up.  Hope to “see” you there!
The link is:  www.budurl.com/SocialMediaLegal

I hope everyone has had a great weekend.  I did!

Get Into the Writing Habit for Business Success

Writing-For-SuccessGet Into the Writing Habit – It Will Change Your Business and Your Life

Our daily lives are made up of automatic tasks and routine. That really sounds boring, doesn’t it? But when I think about it, here’s what I become aware of – I get up in the morning, go to the bathroom, go to the kitchen, put the coffee on and feed the dog and let him out while the coffee’s brewing. Then, the dog comes back in and he goes back to bed for awhile while I enjoy my coffee while checking email. Then, while it’s still quiet, I do a little reading, usually a devotional or my Bible. Then, I review my list of things for the day and get things ready to fire away at my list. That’s my morning routine – almost every day unless I’m not at home. Do I have to think about these things? No. I just do them.

How about driving your car? Are you really thinking about the moves you’re making. It’s scary, but the answer is no.

Establishing habits and routines are important in order for us to quickly get things done without too much time thinking about it. For a professional marketer, writing is one of those things that we simply MUST do. No question about it; you can’t market, especially online without writing being an integral part of your daily routine. Notice I said daily, not weekly or frequently – DAILY!

Every day I must write articles, blog posts, emails, work on short reports, write eCourses, scripts for Ads On Hold for my telecommunications business, and write outlines and prepare slides for my webinars. If I had not made writing a part of my daily life, I couldn’t do my job for myself or for my clients.

So you want to be more successful as a marketer, or as a writer, or as any kind of professional? Start writing every day. And you may ask yourself where to start. For me, I purchased my name – jeannekolenda.com from GoDaddy, figured out how to host it and build a blog, and I began to blog everyday. I then began to tweet out those blog posts on Twitter, and my traffic began to grow. Then I began writing articles for ezinearticles.com and as my traffic grew to my blog, I started to write eCourses and produce training webinars.

The next thing I did was to participate in a 30-day blogging challenge. There were about 100 people who signed up to write a blog post every day for 30 days. About half of us finished it. Then, just 8 weeks later, another online guru hosted another 30-day challenge. I signed up again. This time, more than 250 people signed up and I think 84 finished it. During these blog challenges, I also met many new friends online and I wrote comments on their blogs. So I felt like a writing and reading machine. Over the summer I completed an eZineArticle.com challenge and wrote and published 100 articles in 100 days.

What I’ve found is that I do my best writing late at night when nothing can interrupt me. I find that when I sit down at my computer, I instantly relax and find that my fingers literally fly across the keyboard and this makes me very happy.

I believe the first step really is to get your blog going. Even if you know nothing, my business partner and I have put together a course that will walk you through every step of it. Check it out here:  Make Blogs Work.   Get started today to be the writer you need to be for professional success! Let me hear from you. I’ll be glad to help in any way I can.

Leave a comment and tell me about your writing habit!

For Email Marketing Success – Follow Two Simple Strategies

Email Marketing Success

http://MakeEmailWork.com

In today’s marketing world, it’s becoming more common to use email campaigns for marketing purposes.  In fact, many companies pay large sums of money to advertising agencies to manage email campaigns.  If you don’t have big bucks to send the way of ad agencies, you can actually accomplish on your own if you pay attention to some instruction.  I’ve written a series of articles on this subject, and I encourage you to find them for some great tips and information.  This is just one more in the series. 

If you’ve been in the marketing world at all, you’ve heard that “The money’s in the list.”
Or, maybe “Your list is golden.”  Well, that’s true – you’ve got to have somebody to market to, but just having a list won’t guarantee money in the bank.  I want to discuss some simple but important strategies for make your email campaigns and marketing a success.

Target Your Audience

First of all, you don’t need a huge list to make money – you just need a responsive list. 
So you must not only work on building a list, but on building trust with those on your list.  Make sure you are building a targeted list.  By that I mean you have found a way to attract people who are interested in what you have to offer.  For instance, I live in Myrtle Beach and when I work with clients here who are in the hotel or vacation rental business, we don’t target people who live in Alaska.  Or even people on the West coast.  Statistics tell us that most of the 14.5 million visitors to Myrtle Beach are coming from the Northeast, and the Midwest of the United States, and from the Eastern Canadian provinces.  So that’s where the marketing focus has to be. 

When You Write, Make It Personal

As you write your marketing emails, imagine that you are writing to one person, not a group.  Write to an individual; it’s much more powerful and persuasive.  Here’s an example: 

When you plan your vacation, I know you will be looking for luxury at an affordable rate… 

When planning a vacation, most people want luxury at a discount price…

Which is more powerful?  The first one, of course, because it says, I know YOU will be looking…  Not the group, but YOU! 

You may be sending 1000’s of emails, but they will be read one-by-one by individuals. It will not be a group reading it. 

To kick off your Email Marketing Success, here’s something you don’t want to miss:

http://MakeEmailWork.com

Leave a comment and tell me if you are successfully marketing with email and autoresponders.

Why I Was So Slow Getting to Know Microsoft Excel

Learn-Microsoft-Excel-Easily

If You're Wondering What This Has to Do with Excel...read the story!

Many of you have heard parts of my story and you know that I did everything backwards.  I graduated from high school two years early (not a good idea, no matter how brilliant they think you are), I got married and had my first child before I was 18 (also not a good idea unless you experienced with babies, which I was – my mom had 5 more after me).  Then, I waited 10 more years to start college.  I never lived on campus, I never enjoyed “college life” because I had to rush home to pick up my kids from their school.  We then did our homework together until dad got home and I took off for work as a server at a country club nearby.  At midnight, I came home, slept for a few hours and started it all over again.

It was a grueling schedule, but I LOVED it and I was almost sad when it was over.  That was in the late 70’s and we didn’t have computers, cell phones, or even faxes back then.  So I missed out on the  whole computer revolution.  It wasn’t until the mid 80’s that I used my first word processor.  The big spreadsheet software back then was Lotus123.  I was so intent on learning desktop publishing (I had a small newspaper by then and was a journalist) that I never even thought about the spreadsheet software.  Just too much for my brain at that time.

Over the next decade, I kept hearing about Excel and the power of it.  I would look at the manuals in the bookstores I frequented and they were 1000 pages long.  Too much for a weekend project.  Anyway, why did I need that?  By the early 90’s my children were grown, in college or graduated and working on another degree, and I had founded a telecommunications company along with my husband.  Every way I turned, I was bumping my head on some project that I had to hire someone to help me with — and it all revolved around needing a spreadsheet!  My assistants made beautiful spreadsheets for me and secretly I was envious of these younger people who could just throw this stuff together so effortlessly.

Fast forward a few years, and I met Sue White.  She and I became friends largely due to our motorcycles.  She and her husband travel together on a large Yamaha Venture (sort of like a Goldwing) and my husband and I both have BMW bikes.  Our friendship took us on many long rides, sometimes for a weekend.  One of my favorite memories is of a ride to Savannah where we stayed on the Riverfront and stopped at wineries on the way for tastings.  (Yes, there are wineries in the south!)

But I digress…I found out that Sue was a Microsoft Certified Specialist and she had owned a corporate software training company with 26 employees in PA before she moved to Myrtle Beach.  A bell went off in my head — here was the answer to my Excel dilemma.  She could teach me Excel basics and I wouldn’t have to wade through thick tutorials or go back to school, or even pay for expensive training via videos.  So, we rounded up a couple more people who had the same need, and we made a weekend of it.  Sue is such a good instructor, that when the weekend was over, I came home and made my very first Excel spreadsheet – my Christmas card list.  Now, that was primarily a data file, and I wanted to use some numeric functions, so I included how much I spent on postage and cards and used the Auto Sum button to add it all up.  Then, I sorted by zip code, by state and also my international friends…just for fun.  Wow, I just knew this was going to be the beginning of a long love relationship.  I LOVED this software.

Stay tuned for more of my Excel stories…see what I did next.

Jeanne

PS…Sue and I are now business partners in BusinessTrainingTeam.com.  She begins teaching an intermediate – advanced course on Excel this week.  Introduction Level videos are also included.  To get more information, look up in the left sidebar of this post and you’ll see a link.  Also, join us for a FREE Q&A webinar tomorrow, Tuesday, Aug 31 at 3pm EST…it’s all about EXCEL!

About This Blog Challenge – Should I or Shouldn’t I Post 14 times in 2 days?

OK…here it is Sunday night and I just realized the month of August is almost gone.  It has literally flown by!  It’s been a good month – I’ve learned a lot, blogged a lot, wrote articles, maintained my offline company, visited my family, and my partner in my online company, Sue White, and I are ready to launch a whole line of new products starting on Tuesday.  I said all that to say that I have not posted everyday on this blog as I signed up to do in the Ultimate Blog Challenge.  It isn’t that I don’t have anything to say – quite the opposite.  I just got sidetracked with writing posts that only apply to the new products we are launching.

We are an online training company – Business Training Team, specializing in eLearning for small business owners, sales professionals, and entrepreneurs, especially those who work from home.  We offer training in a wide variety of subjects.  Our library is quite packed with good info.  But Sue and I discovered that the library was SO packed that people just weren’t finding all the good stuff we had.  So, we decided to “deconstruct” our website, unpack some of the courses people need the most, and re-package the products into live training courses with Q&A and then offer the replays for review for up to a year.  The live courses will last 4-6 weeks.  The very first one is on how to learn to use Microsoft Excel.

Excel is the least intuitive of all the Office products, but it’s the one with the most power and punch!  Sue is a CPA, and a Microsoft Certified Specialist, so she’ll be guiding us through the Excel course, along with a professional trainer from PA, also named Sue, who owns a corporate training firm.  This is going to be GOOD stuff.   Look on my left sidebars for sign up information.

But, now I’m left with only two days left in the challenge, and I need to post 14 times to finish.  So, do I just trot out 14 posts and post every few hours for a couple of days just to say I did it?  The old perfectionist, performer and over-achiever in me just might do that.  We’ll see…

In the meantime, if you’re not a seasoned Excel user (or even if you think you are) I urge you to join on for a FREE webinar on Tuesday Aug 31 at 3pm to talk about this Excel course.  Learning Excel was one of the best things I ever did for myself!

See you on the net on Tuesday.  Sign up info is also on the left sidebar.

So tell me…should I post 14 times in two days?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Me and Microsoft Excel – Better Late Than Never!

I’ll be the first to admit that Excel is the least intuitive of all the Microsoft products.  My goodness, just walk into a big bookstore and take a look at the tutorial manuals on the subject.  They’re like 2000 pages long.  It’s a daunting thought that I could even begin to sort through all that.

YET, there have been times when I knew that the only thing that made sense was to organize some information in a spreadsheet format.  I longed for this skill, but never seemed to have the time to set aside to figure it out.

You see, I didn’t start my business career until after I had raised my children.  I didn’t even start college until they were in elementary school.  And in those days (I’m really dating myself now!) we weren’t even using computers, much less learning spreadsheets.  So, as I took to business like a duck to water, I was seriously lacking in many skills that today’s college kids take for granted.

You can be sure, however, that I found a way to catch up and had a rip-roaring good time doing it.  Since I was working as a journalist back then, the first software I learned was, of course, a word processing program.  Then, a desktop publishing program.  Somehow Excel never made it to the top.

Finally, a few years ago, after spending lots of money hiring all my spreadsheet work done, I decided that I wanted to learn it for myself — not that I’ve quit outsourcing it, but sometimes late at night when I want to be able to throw a spreadsheet together to look at some data, I don’t have to wait for someone else to help me.  I asked my friend Sue White, who is a Microsoft Certified Specialist and Trainer, to give me some private lessons and she did.  After several hours, she left me with a written tutorial with exercises and other than a few phone calls here and there, I pretty much mastered what I needed in about 6 hours of instruction with a competent instructor (Sue).

Little did I know that years later Sue and I would partner together to launch Business Training Team.  We did that last year, and it’s been so exciting to help small business owners have access to the training they need and want at an unbelievably affordable price.

We hold free Webinars each Tuesday at 3pm, and we’ve covered a wide variety of business related subjects.  This next Tuesday, Sue will be giving expert advice on Microsoft Excel.  Then, we will be launching a comprehensive training program that will rival any corporate training package I’ve ever seen.  I’ve done my homework, and these corporate training sessions, both in person and online costs hundreds, and sometimes thousands of dollars.  You’ll be amazed at the low price of our course.

To get started, look at the top left side of this post.  You’ll see a link for a FREE gift we have for you — a 10-page report of Microsoft Office Tips and Shortcuts.

Then, if you look down just a little, there’s a link to register for the FREE webinar with Sue White next Tuesday.

Please take time to think about investing in your own skills…in your productivity, and bring along an employee or a friend.   See you next Tuesday!

In closing, I’m wondering if you use Microsoft Excel?  How did you learn it?  What is your skill level?  Leave a comment and let me know.

What’s the Big Deal with Microsoft Excel?

OK.  I admit that Excel was one of the last Microsoft Office products that I learned to use.  After taking the time to learn it, I had to scratch my head and wonder how in the world I managed my life all those years without it!  So, this post is for any of you who may be wondering what all the hoopla is about Excel.

Spreadsheets are one of the most useful tools in your business tool bag. Even if you never become an expert, just learning to use the raw, simple power of the basics of a software program such as Microsoft Excel will make a huge difference in your efficiency as a business owner or manager. There are other spreadsheet programs on the market, but Microsoft Excel or the Open Office equivalent is far and away the proverbial 800 lb. gorilla. Kind of like Google is when you talk about search engines.

What’s In a Spreadsheet?

A spreadsheet is comprised of cells in rows and columns that make an electronic grid where you can add numerical data of any kind – dates, currency, percentages, or just plain ol’ numbers. Managing varying types of numbers is a vital part of staying in business. Unless you have a huge client base, most of your basic tracking and accounting could be done in a spreadsheet if you have some basic skills to set it up. When you begin to increase the number of clients, and your inventory, you would need to think about migrating over the numbers to a true accounting software.

Here are some common uses of a spreadsheet for your business:

  • Tracking expenses
  • Recording new sales
  • A record of prices
  • Cash flow projections
  • Keeping track of job times
  • Tracking commissions due and paid

The Uses Are Limited Only By Your Imagination

As you read this list, I’m sure your wheels are turning, and you’re already thinking of many other ways you could use a spreadsheet. I own a voice messaging company and my “inventory” is phone numbers. My accounting software had no good way for me to tie a list of phone numbers to a particular client, especially when they added numbers, deleted numbers, etc., as the employees changed.

One of the first spreadsheets I ever learned to make was to keep track of what numbers were assigned to which customer. That was 17 years ago, and I still use that same spreadsheet. I cannot imagine running my business without it. I have another useful spreadsheet that tracks my recurring revenue. There is a certain element involved in this rather complex business that just isn’t handled the way I prefer in my accounting software, so a spreadsheet does the trick for me.

Text can be added to a spreadsheet as well as charts, graphs and even pictures. Microsoft Excel is probably one of my most heavily used programs, next to Word, of course!

Once you have entered your data, then the fun starts by making formulas with the basic mathematical functions such as addition, substraction, multiplication and division. To see what would happen if…just change the number in one cell and watch the magic take place. It’s a great way to dream of “what if…” and actually see the numbers come to life.

Due to increased requests from our list of followers at Business Training Team, we are offering a comprehensive course designed for the Beginner and Intermediate Levels of Excel.  It will include Live Q&A Webinar training, previously recorded video training by a Certified Microsoft Office Specialist, and also written practice exercise sheets to download.   P

Please click here for more info:  MakeExcelWork

Also, if you haven’t already done it, look up in the upper left side of this site and click to claim your free 10-page report on Office Tips and Shortcuts.  My gift to you.