Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar in 3 Steps

Create a Social Media Editorial Calendar in 3 StepsOne of the biggest challenges to successfully using social media for your business is what to post, when to post it, and to find a way to track your efforts to see if you are meeting your goals.

By creating a social media editorial calendar, you can plan ahead to determine the type of content you will post, where you will post it, and when. Once you’ve outlined your content development strategy, you can track your frequency and days/times posts occur to measure engagement and results through your analytics.

To help in the process, I developed a three-step method to creating a social media calendar that works. Continue reading »

A 7 Step Plan to Getting Re-Engaged

Are you ready to make the most out of 2011?

Have you noticed that suddenly everyone “wakes up” after Labor Day?  I call it the “Back to School” mode. During the summer months, and especially in August, most people are in “Vacation Mode”, so when September hits, everyone realizes we only have four months left of this year and we better get moving.

Are you ready to re-engage and get the most out of this year?  The first eight months are gone and the economy is not going to change in the next four months, so what are you going to do to complete the year on a positive note?

Here are seven steps to help you get started. Continue reading »

Podcast Q&A: The Top 5 Mistakes That Businesses Make That Can Cripple Their Growth & Success

Business MistakesBusiness owners often make similar mistakes that impact their growth and success. As a business coach and strategist, I find that many of the businesses I interact with struggle with some of the same problems.

I approached Kim Brandley, CPA, a partner at the accounting and consulting firm J.H. Cohn, and asked her to share her expertise to help business owners overcome some hurdles in growing their businesses. My Q&A with her provides insights for businesses that may be making these mistakes and how to avoid them.

At the end of the blog post there is also an audio podcast of our interview where Kim gives more detailed responses to the questions.

Q1 – What are the top 5 mistakes that businesses make that can cripple their growth and success?
  1. Not having a strategic/business plan
  2. Not understanding cash flow
  3. Not understanding your competition
  4. Losing focus of core business
  5. Not asking for professional help
Q2 – Why is “not having a strategic/business plan” important and how does it hurt the business not to have one?

The business plan is like a roadmap. It’s not much different than when you’re driving down the road and you follow a map and you know where you’re trying to get to. Have a realistic business plan in place and goals that you know you can accomplish and things that you know you can get done.

Q3 – The second mistake is “not understanding cash flow. “Tell us why cash flow is king.

Cash does not equal net income and there are other metrics within the business that affect cash. There are times when you’ll have a good year in a business and you should probably either reinvest that in capital assets or things of that nature or try to put some money away, because inevitably there’s probably going to be a year that’s not a very good year compared to that one. Some questions I would ask are “do you measure your metrics on a weekly basis?  What are your average days to collect for accounts receivable?

Some areas which impact cash flow are depreciation, taxes, people not paying you on time, taking out a loan, and how quickly you pay your own payables.  Business owners need to have up to date financial information because it’s hard to base decisions on stale information.

Q4 – Why is “not understanding your competition” a key mistake?

Underestimating your competition is a mistake that business owners make often. It starts with a thorough understanding of target market and recognizing who the business leaders are, where they are located and what their needs are.  Business owners need to know who else is capable and qualified to provide those clients with the products and services they are looking for.  It is easy to track your competition’s activity through websites, social media, Google alerts, industry publications and associations.

Q5 – You mention the 4th mistake as “losing focus of the core business.” Why is that important?

It’s important to have a focused vision to remind you what you do best and why you’re in business. I think you have to be very careful not to take resources away from the core business or at least understand what resources you are draining from the core business and what impact that could have. If you’re going to take a risk and do something a little bit different, you need to manage very proactively rather than managing by crisis.

Q6 – The 5th mistake is “not asking for professional help.” Business owners think they can do it all themselves! Why is this a mistake?

In many cases businesses, particularly in this economy, don’t want to spend money, but sometimes spending money with the right professionals is clearly going to save you money in the long run.

You need to surround yourself with a group of professionals, whether that’s legal, accounting, consulting, and be willing to at least hear what they have to say and listen. Do what you do well and bring in professionals to do what they do well. Trying to do everything yourself as a business owner is most likely going to lead to many sleepless nights and probably a very exhausted business owner.

You need to have an open mind and be willing to listen to what the professionals are telling you. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to take every piece of advice, but you at least have to be open-minded that you’ll listen to some of the ideas. And be willing to take a step back and realize that you’ve probably made some mistakes and learn from those mistakes.

On an internal basis, are your people giving you what you need? Be willing and brave enough to make hard decisions to let someone go.

All these things tie together and are often not mutually exclusive. Often times these mistakes happen together.

Q7 – So what are some steps a business owner can take to grow their business?
  1. Have to have an open mind and be willing to listen to those people around you, whether it’s a formal board of directors or a personal set of board of directors where you have set up an advisory group.
  2. Be willing to think differently so that you can look at what you do well and try to turn that into additional revenue streams in some way. Look at the things with respect to the business that you know are going well.
  3. Make sure you provide excellent customer service.
  4. Ask for referrals.
  5. Get proper sales training.
  6. Focus on what you do best.

Kimberly Brandley, CPAKimberly Brandley, CPA is a partner with the accounting and consulting firm J.H. Cohn LLP. Kim has extensive experience providing audit, accounting and consulting services to privately held businesses and their owners. Kim can be reached at kbrandley@jhcohn.com or 732-380-8618.

Podcast: Strategy CPR – How To Breathe Life Back Into Your Organization’s Game Plan

Does your organization have a strategic plan?  Is is sitting on a shelf collecting dust or is it truly a living, dynamic document that is guiding your business forward? Companies large and small spend significant time and resources developing strategic plans. But how many of them truly get the return on the investment? The best of intentions can be sidelined by the day-to-day tasks of taking care of business.

Creative strategist Dianna Sadlouskos shares her advice for how to take swift action to breathe life into your company game plan. Strategy CPR sounds like a “life and death” situation for an organization, yet if a business is showing symptoms that keep them from implementation and execution, they can end up stagnating and falling behind the competition.

This informative interview provides business leaders with concrete steps and actions to take to prevent “cardiac arrest.”

Are You Using the Forrest Gump Strategy?

Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

Leaving your business health and growth to chance will result in “never knowing what you’re gonna get.”
The best way for you to predict the future is to create it!

Creating a strategy for your business is more than what I like to call “doing the do.”  Now I know that may sound a little gross, but maybe you can relate more when I put it this way – doing customer service, doing networking, doing social media, doing events – the act of doing without knowing why you’re doing it other than you think you should be.
Does this relate to you?

You can be like Forrest Gump and just take whatever you get.
OR
You can change how you do things and your approach.

By creating a clear and concise strategic plan, you set the course for your business. Your vision, mission, goals and action plan will provide you with the mindset and tools for success.

Strategic planning provides a format to guide your business through a systematic process to establish measurable and attainable results. The core components of any plan include the following:

  • Vision Statement
  • Values & Principles
  • External Assessment
  • Competitive and Trend Analysis
  • Internal Appraisal
  • Strengths, Limitations, Opportunities and Threats
  • Mission Statement
  • Critical Goal Categories
  • Organizational Goals
  • Market and Sales Plans
  • Implementation

So why are you willing to settle for the coconut cream when you really wanted the caramel?