The kiddies are back to school and Iâ€™m back into my routine.? I just dropped them off and while we all had a great spring break, they were happy to see their friends and teachers and I am happy to get some structure back into our lives.? By the end of the week, with all the quality time we were all spending together, the girls seemed to fight quite a bit towards the end.? ?
I got some exciting news over spring break.? Every year the Charleston Regional Business journal recognizes the top 40 business/entrepreneurial type people under the age of 40 and this year I was nominated (thanks mom!) and was chosen!? The business journal does a big spread on the winners and their companies. ?There is an awards banquet which is really nice too.? Iâ€™m so excited!!? This is a good example of the things you can do for your company during those â€œoff hoursâ€.? If I happen to be in the office during normal business hours, usually I am in full-on sales mode, but after hours, weekends etc.. there are TONS of things you can be doing to promote your business.? Marketing NEVER stops and since a Mompreuenurâ€™s? hours donâ€™t fall into the usual M-F 8-5 category; I do have to work on my business at some crazy times.? One great off-hours activity and a way to get your name out there is to apply to various business or entrepreneurial contests.? You can either nominate yourself or ask a friend or family member to nominate you.? Most contests are an annual thing, so even if you havenâ€™t launched yet, you can research the ones that would apply to you and made a list for next year! Look for local as well as national contest and awards you might apply for.?
Here are just some examples of the kinds of things Iâ€™m talking about?
And there are TONS more, you just have to do your homework, look online, read your local business publications, stay in touch with your local SBA and SBDC and also look to your local Chamber of Commerce.? ?
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢? www.grillcharms.com?
Sometimes it SEEMS like all the PR and making calls, sending emails, sending samples and just working at getting your product noticed doesnâ€™t appear to be going anywhere and then WHAM, all at once, people start to notice you.? What old saying â€œwhen it rains it poursâ€ holds true for most things including PR.? Now that I have 15,000 units in production that I need to sell, I have felt the urgency to really spread the Grill Charmsâ„¢ word.? Even before that however I have been working so hard at calling and emailing everyone in my industry to tell them about my product.? I am really starting to see some results.? In the past 3 days, 3 different websites and WONDERFUL people have picked up my little story and invention and have spread the word to their fans.? ?
(You grilling fans probably already know, and for those of you that donâ€™t, www.bbqreport.com and www.grillmaestro.com are some of the best â€œgo toâ€ websites for all things grilling and BBQ)??? Please visit these 3 sites and feel free to leave a comment.? These people took the time to notice my product, review my product and write their thoughts about Grill Charmsâ„¢.? THANK YOU! ?
Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢? www.grillcharms.com?
I hope everyone had a wonderful Easter.? This year was so much fun.? The girls are now 3 and 5 and REALLY got into finding eggs.? Their little faces just lit up whenever they saw an egg in the bushes.? We all had so much fun despite the pollen.? My allergy medicine was working overtime yesterday, thatâ€™s for sure!?
Now that I have a moment, Iâ€™ll get into that UPC story I glossed over the other day.? Since Iâ€™m trying to run with the big dogs, it has come to my attention (thank you Janene at Trending Solutions my wonderful warehouse and distribution center) since quantities for single POs are probably going to be going up, I need to streamline and consolidate my tertiary or secondary packaging.? You see, whenever a warehouse or fulfillment company touches a â€œpieceâ€ there is a charge.? As it stands now, my cases hold 12 sets of Grill Charms.? So letâ€™s say a company wants 1440 units, thatâ€™s 120 cases.? Each case would have to be handled and labeled etcâ€¦? That could seriously eat up a lot of the profit.? Whatâ€™s the solution?? Master cartons!? So I put an email into my handy-dandy factory and told them I needed my cases to be cased so to speak.? So now when someone puts in an order for 1440, thatâ€™s only 10 master cartons. Thatâ€™s all fine and good and done but then you have to realizeâ€¦ each quantity of box has to have its own UPC.? Now a year ago, that thought would TEERRIFY me, but now, itâ€™s just a matter of plugging in some dimensions and voila!? Out spits your new UPC.? The program even asks you if your new unit is comprised of already UPCâ€™d units and it keeps track off all that.? So each of my collections of individual boxes of Grill Charms have UPCs (thatâ€™s 3 so far), then my cases of 12 for each collection have UPCs (thatâ€™s 3 more), then my master carton of cases for each collection have UPCs, for a total of 9 different UPCs.? I did all that today, so Iâ€™m feeling pretty proud of myself right about now.? ?
There has been a lot of talk on the mompreneurs message boards about business blogging. So, since I am “Blogging Mom”, and I’ve been blogging for my business and about my business (two separate blogs) for over two years now, I figured I should go ahead and start touching on the subject of blogging in the mompreneurs? blog. I’m hoping to tackle business blogs one subject at a time, but I know I get wordy at times too.
The main questions that all pre-blogging business owners have are: “Is a blog necessary for my business?”; “Why do I need a blog?” and “What am I supposed to write about?”.
Today I’ll touch on why there is no question – you must blog!!
A blog is necessary for your business for a number of reasons, but the top two are the transparency (customer relations) aspect of blogs and the search engine optimization advantages.
Search Engine Optimization
Speaking of blogging – I owe content to another site I’ll be a new blogger on (that was a mouthful), so I’ll talk about “what to write about as a business blogger” next time.
Leave comments if you have questions so I know what they are and can try to answer them!! I’ve had my head in this stuff for years now!
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This continued with other words that?moved you to the core as a woman and as a mom.? Then, the last words came up, and they have stayed with me year after year and moment after moment.? I want to share them with you …. HUG YOUR CHILD ….. don’t be the first to let go.
After reading some of the posts on our message boards yesterday, I felt there was a consensus (a general agreement) that our minds are racing so much so that we often times fail to focus on the moment.? Many of my fellow mompreneurs were confessing to being with their child physically but not mentally, trying to connect with hubby yet thinking ahead to their product’s new packaging or something similar.
Ladies, friends, amigas, businesswomen…we must stop the madness!? We CAN run a business, a company AND have meaningful interactions with our family on a regular basis.? Teacher Mom (that’s me!) is no Poster Child for perfection in this arena; however, I did detect that as one of the eldest in our boards, 49 this year(!), I might have a strong lead in the experience department on?how to gain patience and positive, quality time in our lives.
Lesson #1 … Allow Your Children to Teach You Today
Yes, you read correctly.? Really make a conscious effort to learn from your child(ren) today.?
HOMEWORK:? Come back after a few days and leave a comment on one moment you enjoyed more because of this lesson.? Thanks…we will be waiting to hear from you.
That’s today’s lesson.? Simple.? Not too many steps.? But we are on the road to becoming more patient and more involved in our life.? Let’s not watch our lives pass us by as if it is an out-of-body experience.
Happy Educating!? ?Sea feliz educando!
Can you imagine my surprise last week when I’m watching the Today Show and Money 911 is on.? Then they start talking about ways to make extra money and valid “good” work at home opportunities.? They then proceeded to list some top ones and right there on top was “Virtual Assistant.”? Yahoo!? I about spilled my cheerios!
The word is really getting out there about us.? And that is so beneficial for all us virtual assistants, whether we are in business now or trying to start a business.? Everytime the media says our name, that helps our Industry.? I just wonder how many people went right to Google and typed in “Virtual Assistant” that day.? Hopefully when they did your company came up.? That’s why we always encourage you to send out those articles and press releases and do a good job on your SEO to get your name recognized.?
On the forum, I always talk about how to take news media and turn it?into press.??So I thought I’d share how I took this media and?my co-author and I turned it into a press release.?
Also, I’d love to hear what PR you are doing now?? Share with us a comment.?? Thanks!? — Diana Ennen/VirtualWordPublishing.com
??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? Virtual Assistant Tops Today Showâ€™s Work At Home Business List?Oâ€™Fallon, IL â€“ March, 2008 When a Kansas City woman sought advice from The Today Show on supplementing her household income with a part-time job, Todayâ€™s Money 911 reporter Jean Chatzky topped her recommended work at home list with Virtual Assistant. Who would have thought? Finally, Virtual Assistants are gaining the respect they deserve.?Virtual assistants around the globe who have repeatedly promoted the industry as individuals and as groups are beginning to see an impact on their efforts. Virtual assistants have been talked about, written about, interviewed by, and seen in the likes of Entrepreneur, USA Today, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Chicago Tribune, Readerâ€™s Digest, CNN News, and more. â€œWeâ€™ve come a long way from the deer in the headlights, wrinkled forehead look once received when offering up â€˜Iâ€™m a virtual assistant,â€™ after being asked our profession,â€ states Kelly Poelker, Director of Academy of Virtual Professionals and co-author of the Virtual Assistant â€“ The Series books. â€œEach and every article and interview put us one step closer to educating as many people as we can on what a virtual assistant is, and how a business can benefit from our services.â€ Itâ€™s an exciting time to start a virtual assistant business, but there are still a number of people just discovering the profession as a result of the growing media coverage.?â€œI couldnâ€™t tell you the number of people who comment they have been doing this for years and just didnâ€™t know it had a name,â€ shares Diana Ennen, President of Virtual Word Publishing. Poelker and Ennen would know, too. They have helped thousands of virtual assistants get a foothold in the industry with their Virtual Assistant â€“ The Series books, mentoring, and coaching. Over the years theyâ€™ve seen a constant increase in the number of colleges adding a virtual assistant program or course to their curriculum. For example, Red Deer College in Canada has been utilizing the book for many years. The authors state they are seeing about a 5-10% growth in the number of U.S. colleges adding VA programs each year. Most recently, Poelker founded Academy of Virtual Professionals, an online training center dedicated to educating virtual professionals whose signature course is a 16-week program based on the publications.?Poelker and Ennen are available for media interviews. To learn more about how to add Virtual Assistant â€“ The Series to your college curriculum, to obtain a review copy or free sample chapter send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on upcoming classes at Academy of Virtual Professionals, go to http://www/AcademyVP.com. ?
Everywhere you turn these days, you see the word, “virtual assistants.”? Isn’t that awesome! Years ago, everyone wondered what a VA was. Now most businesses have one, two or three working for them.? And their businesses have never been better!
Recent press includes my article in Reader’s Digest, and then Karen Reddick is soon to be featured on a segment on NBC, and even newsletters are telling of the benefits of hiring a VA.? Just this week, the Publicity Hound’s newsletter talked about working with a VA.
So,?now you know that it’s a REAL home-based business and you see so many talking about it, you’re probably wondering how do I start, or how?do I?grow my business.? Ta DA … That’s what I’m here for.??I will be posting articles, tips, ideas, you name it on how you can succeed as a VA.? Now, you?have to help too.? Post and ask questions.??Tell me about your?experiences.? Let this be interactive.??Tell me how I can help you succeed.?
?Let’s grow together!?
Heres’ an article I think you’ll find beneficial.? Lots more to come!
Publicity and Marketing â€“ The Perfect Niche for Successful Virtual Assistants
We all realize how Virtual Assistants have revolutionized the way we work today.? Most businesses now count on their Virtual Assistant the same as they used to count on their secretaries, only so much more.? VAs are a prized and respected part of their clientâ€™s team, and unlike secretaries, who often were taken for granted, Virtual Assistants are praised for their professionalism and skills.? Most businesses today canâ€™t imagine where they would be without their VA.? And as the potential for success in a virtual assistant business continues to explode, so does the need for good Virtual Assistants.
Todayâ€™s Virtual Assistants need to take pride in their business and also to learn as much as they can about their niche, which is the specialty they have chosen to specialize in. One niche that I highly recommend is to offer publicity and marketing services to clients.? This is an area that is growing in leaps and bounds as more and more authors, businesses, and other professionals realize the need to market their business to get good publicity.? A business can expand tremendously when hiring a Virtual Assistant to help them spread the word about their products or services.? Also, authors today arenâ€™t aware that once they write a book, thatâ€™s when the real work begins.? They need to get the word out about their book in order for it to be successful.? Thatâ€™s where a good Publicity VA comes in.
Publicity and marketing is thrilling to say the least.? Thereâ€™s such a great rush when your client gets recognized in national magazines, or a TV station wants to do a segment on them and you helped them achieve this success.? Or better yet, when your efforts start resulting in substantial increased sales for them.? Clients will not only keep using your services, but also tell others about this new positive addition they have to their business. And best yet, you too get to feel that satisfaction as you are helping them achieve their goals.
One of my most successful tips is learning how to effectively use any publicity that a client receives.?? When clients get national attention in a magazine, newspaper, or TV Segment, or even on a popular website, itâ€™s important to make sure that everyone is aware of this. A press release should immediately go out to announce their accomplishment.? This release should be added to their website and also should go to all their local papers, radio stations, and TV networks.? Media loves to highlight a success story of their locals, so make sure you get this out there as soon as you can.? And you donâ€™t have to wait for the publicity to happen.? If your client lands a major TV segment, you can start sending this press out beforehand in order to get more media for when the event happens. You just want to make sure that the client is fairly confident the segment will air.? Also, donâ€™t worry if the segment gets bumped back, that often happens as breaking news takes priority.? This can almost be a blessing, as then you get to do more publicity before the airdate.
Itâ€™s also important to follow-up with the reporters and let them know how much you appreciate the acceptance of your quotes for an article.? When you go the extra step to show them your appreciation, they remember you when the next article comes up and they need help with more expert advice.? Many reporters work for multiple magazines so one good ally can lead to lots of media exposure.? Always keep your PR hat on.? Learn to take any situation and turn it into good press for your clients and your business as well. Stay on top of current events and see if you have anything to offer. Whenever a story hits the press that any of my clients would have a connection to, Iâ€™ll send it right away.? Having press releases already prepared for clients on their business is always a great help.? How do you know about these events?? Sign up for Google Alerts under the topics of interest and then whenever a story is written,? you can follow-up with your press release or article to the reporter.? It works!?? I also use ProfNet from PRNewswire, which allows me to get daily leads from major news outlets.? You can also consider PRLeads.?
Itâ€™s also important to learn how to write a good press release and article and also where to send those.? Make sure that your press releases and articles are newsworthy and also something that interests the readers.? When I write a release, I always think would I read this release?? Would it interest me?? If not, I doubt your target audience would be reading it either.? Plus, be careful to sound too promotional.? You can easily get your message across without sounding like an ad.
Publicity is a great niche for VAs.? I hope you have found these tips beneficial.
by Diana Ennen, www.virtualwordpublishing.com
The deed is done, the
PO has been sent.? 15,000 unitsâ€¦. Iâ€™m not really dwelling on it too much because my mind has been made up and the factory is 3 days away from setting up the machines for the production run.? My OEM is THRILLED and Iâ€™m happy to make his so happy.? (Overseas they really donâ€™t like doing anything for under a few thousand units)? As it is, it was a miracle that I found an OEM with a minimum as low as 1000.? Thatâ€™s almost unheard of in
Asia.? Itâ€™s so funny how often in life and in business; the â€œrightâ€ decisions are sometimes the most painful.? Although I do believe with all my heart (okayâ€¦ maybe I have a LITTLE doubtâ€¦ but shhhh, donâ€™t tell anyone. After all, Iâ€™m SUPPOSED to know what Iâ€™m doing!)? But I really do believe Iâ€™m making the right decision, so why does it HURT?!? It reminds me of a few boyfriends past.? (Yep, tangent time!)? Some aspects of business are like relationships.? You know what the â€œrightâ€ thing to do is, but that doesnâ€™t make it easy.? Sometimes the best, healthiest thing for you to do hurts the most.? If this were easy, EVERYONE would be doing it right? ?
Okay, so your next question isâ€¦ where am I coming up with the money right??? Fortunately my hubby and I got into the property/rental/real estate market in the early 2000â€™s so we have some equity built up in a few places.? The fed just cut rates by ? of a point which makes money cheap right now.? We are going to do the olâ€™ Refi-cash-out dance.? Iâ€™ve got to believe that Iâ€™m doing the right thing, otherwise how could I put all that we have worked for, for so long on the line right?? This is the kind of stuff that separates the men from the boys right??
On to this new big account.? Itâ€™s funny how you go along thinking you have things pretty well organized, then you get a curve ball, (like a big account with systems and fancy terms etcâ€¦) and everything you thought you knew goes right out the window.? I applied for vendor status, (which I got) and then was invited to log onto their supplier network (not optional) but invited nonetheless.? It was so confusing and there were terms and jargon I totally didnâ€™t understand and so yesterday I sat there staring at the screen in complete panic.? I kept thinking to myself â€œLeslie, you are so in way over your head!!â€ but knowing I couldnâ€™t turn back, I contemplated my options.? I could â€œfake itâ€ and answer the questions to the best of my ability and risk looking like a big olâ€™idiot if I got an answer wrong or even worse, loose out on a TON of money because I didnâ€™t understand the question, or I could call my wonderful buyer and ask for her help.? For me the choice was easy. ?Iâ€™m used to fessing up my newness to the game, so at the risk of her not wanting to do business with me because I was too green, I simply picked up the phone and called and asked for help.? Novel idea huh?? She was FANTASTIC!!!?? This gal is so patient and so understanding and she completely walked me through the entire program!!? Iâ€™m not naive enough to think that all buyers will be this understanding, but Iâ€™m so glad this one is!!? Iâ€™ve said it before and Iâ€™ll say it again,? there is a time and a place to â€œfake it till you make itâ€ and them there is a time and a place for you to be honest and just ask for help. ??Iâ€™m finding more and more that if you are upfront and tell people â€œThis is my first rodeo, help meâ€ that people really do want to help others and if you are kind and genuine, they really do want you to succeed.? After we were done going through the new fancy program that I am now a part of, I felt such a sense of relieve.? There were questions about EDI and FOB pricing and pallet exchanges and all kinds of stuff that had me frozen at the keyboard and for half of the complicated questions, she said â€œOh, donâ€™t worry about that, that doesnâ€™t apply to youâ€.? I was all freaked out over nothing.? So now that Iâ€™m officially in their systemâ€¦. I wait.? I think the next step is getting the
PO.? Now that that temporary crisis moment has past my mind wants to go back to worrying about moneyâ€¦ Iâ€™m trying REALLY REALLY hard not to let it.? ?
Itâ€™s going to be 80 degrees, the sun is shining, and itâ€™s a GREAT DAY!!!?
Iâ€™m backâ€¦.I wrote that around 8:00 this morning and just didnâ€™t have a chance to post it.? I ran out of the house, schlepped the kids with me to the drug store, then the grocery store, went to the post office, dropped them off at school, my mind racing with all the things I have to do today, (follow up calls for new accounts, new UPCâ€™s to do (thatâ€™s another story), revisions I need to send to my web guy for stuff I want for my website and everything else involved with single handedly running a company), ?I race home, walk in the door ready to get to work and realize I have dishes to do, laundry thatâ€™s been sitting in the washer, another 2 loads on the floor waiting to be done and groceries to put away.? Sometimes you just feel so overwhelmed you have to laugh.? Well, thatâ€™s what I did.? Iâ€™m still laughing!! Seriously, itâ€™s all fine just fine, I just wonder if Bill Gates or Donald Trump started this way.?
Well, I wish that I could say that I was over-the-moon excited about receiving my much anticipated 1st shipment of product, but to be honest, today was just an absolute blur. As much as I tried to prepare and believe that I was ready for it to arrive – I wasn’t. Most days I feel like I’ve come a long way on this journey but nothing could have prepared me for the surreal experience of seeing 2000 unassembled kits on pallets in the middle of my husband’s warehouse driveway.
As I stood there staring at pallets of unsold product, the only thing that stopped my heart from leaping out of my chest was my ‘too tight’ bra. I truly do belive in my product and feel that I have a clear vision for the direction I’d like the business to go. However, starting/running a business can be exciting and overwhelming all at once. Each task that you check off of your never-ending list of action items is a baby step in the process – and you truly do need to crawl before you walk. So here I am, almost two years to the day of when the concept hit me and I started the ball rolling with product design, sourcing, and making a million decisions that have all led to this final product. Up until now, I was feeling pretty good about myself. Why shouldn’t I? I have crossed my t’s and dotted my i’s – I’ve ‘been there, done that’ and I’m no longer a newbie in this game – right?? WRONG!!!!
In a nutshell, there are some things wrong with the shipment – things that coulda, shoulda, woulda been avoided if I had known that I needed to constantly remind the factories about certain things. I should never have left anything up in the air thinking, “Nahhhh, I’m not going to bother them about that again. They know what they’re doing’. NEVER take anything for granted, and even if it’s something basic, do not assume that someone else will just take care of it.
Overall, nothing was horribly wrong. Just things that are time consuming and aggravating, and time is money, and…why didn’t I have the overseas factory create ‘retail ready’ packaging??!! Hmmm? Oh…because I wanted the box to look like a mini studio with the peaked top and awning. Not sure if it was worth the trouble at this point…in fact, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t (filing this under ‘lessons learned the first time around). The contents of each kit were supposed to be poly-bagged together. Guess what? That didn’t happen. Each paint color was separated by color, batched in 20 unmarked boxes of 100 tubes.
So…armed with a box cutter, Sharpie and packing tape, I went through each box in the shipment, marking the contents on 3 sides of each box, separate each item and stack them accordingly in the warehouse. I was actually using a hand truck…the guys were really getting a kick out of watching me schlepping back and forth with boxes stacked on the dolly so high that I couldn’t see over them. I was definately feelin’ the girl power ;0)
Each kit will need to be assembled (even the stencils did not arrive collated). They forgot the velcro closure for the box, so I will need to have that sent…blah, blah, blah…I won’t bore you with the details, but to say that I’m overwhelmed and feel like I am right back at the starting line again, would be an understatement. Today my confidence went right out the window and it was replaced by fear and doubt. I hate days like this!!
But the good news is that today is just about over. The kids are in bed, my feet are throbbing, my eyes are closing…and tomorrow is a new day. I will spend a few more hours at the warehouse getting things organized, and putting together some kits to ship to press contacts and some potential buyers. Now the fun begins I suppose. I will be studying Leslie’s Blog (Grill Charms) because she just hit the ground running with her product and racked up so many sales in a very short period of time. Go Leslie!
I will be back soon to update you all on my progress and I promise to have more positive things to say about all of this ;0)
Spring break is coming on the heels of a very busy week. I’ve been going non-stop all week, like a chicken with my head cut off, convinced that I CAN catch up – somehow. How did I get so behind?? It’s due to a good thing – sales are on the rise all the way around. The boutique’s sales are up, our online orders and wholesale orders are up too.
Which has presented a whole new level of challenges, and a whole new level of craziness. I can tell that we are in this weird growth phase, we’re leaping to the next level, but we’ve got just a couple more steps to climb to reach it. And we have to push to that level (I’m yawning even as I write that), and it’s going to take a real push. Come on feet, don’t fail me now!
Our newest boutique sold out of their first floral onesie order in a week!! This is good on so many levels – we got an immediate re-order, the new boutique is very happy with us, and we know our newest designs are going to sell really well.
This week is also killing me because of the time change. I get up before the kids as it is, now it literally feels like the alarm is going off in the middle of the night. But if I don’t have time to check in at the office and (usually) get a blog post done before the kids rise and we’re off and running, then my stress levels sky-rocket and the day goes nuts.
Now I have to try to plan for Spring Break. There will be less nuttiness in the mornings, but there will be a lot of entertainment needed too.