Behind the scenes at BIMS in Florida

From the suburbs of Denver, Colorado to the beaches of Palm harbor, Florida, working from home has been an adventure! Being able to spend time as a family and raise our daughter Allisun who turns 5 in September has been such a blessing.

Managing a company was easy, being able to manage a company, a child and life, now that takes some skill!

Since the day Allisun was born she came to networking events, meetings, one-to-ones and much more! Our clients loved it! We moved to Florida in 2015 and once we moved she started preschool 3 days a week, which is a great for me to get work done and for her to learn!

Meet the Florida family:

Allisun:

She is 4 ½ , turning 5 in September, but what’s that saying 4 going on 16?? Yeah that’s what I deal with! I love my daughter she is funny, smart, caring, sporty, fearless and such a DIVA! She has such a good personality and I love to watch her grow each and everyday! 

My Hubby Charlie:

He is the reason I wanted to move to Florida, to be able to give him a chance to get out of corporate, spend more time with his girls (Me & Alli of course) and enjoy life! He worked 12-13 hours a day in Colorado, loved his job, but the commute was very hard! Money was great but didn’t buy our happiness! He is my rock!

Charles Irwin

Our high-maintenance PITBULL Bodhi:

He is 6 years old, we rescued him from a puppy shelter in Colorado when he was 3 months old, we just fell in love with him, he is such a baby! He likes for us to stand outside with him when he does his business, his food needs to be a certain way, and certain distance from his water bowl, oh the list goes on with this little boy! I have raised a high maintenance, spoiled, loving dog!

Oh let’s not forget our two tortoises:

G.G. Emily (named after Allisun’s Great Grandma who passed in 2014) and Mavis who is named after the turtle on Dolphin Tale 2! These were our “Black Friday Special” in 2015 a month after we moved to Florida. They will be in our family for along time!

 

 

Thank god I am an AMAZING multi-tasker, because there is never a dull moment in our household! I truly enjoy most days HAHA! Being an entrepreneur and having a business of my own (with business partner Caitlin) has been amazing! I wouldn’t trade this adventure for any other!

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Are you Making this Services Page Mistake?

Services pages are often thrown together by businesses just because they know they need something to explain what they do. We’ve spoken with hundreds of business owners who “plan” to go back and edit their services, but got busy and just haven’t had the time. Quick, take a look at your services page(s), what do you see?

If your website is like most businesses, your services pages focus heavily on the features of what you offer.

“Each is a feature-a factual statement about the product or service being promoted. But features aren’t what entice customers to buy. That’s where benefits come in. A benefit answers the question “What’s in it for me?,” meaning the feature provides the customer with something of value to them.” – Entrepreneur.com

This is the BIGGEST mistake your business can make on your services pages.

So, how should your services page be written? Rather than thinking about what you offer specifically, think about how your offerings can transform the lives of your clients. To do this, you need to change your mindset.

First, identify the individual who would benefit the most from each service you offer. Think about their pains, their successes, and how your service BENEFITS them. Think about what other services this individual could sign up for rather than working with you. What makes you different.

Second, try to transform the features of your service into benefits. Rather than answering what you are providing, go through the list of everything your service includes, and turn it into a benefit.

Lastly, create a story around your service. Explain what the ideal customer is going through and how you can solve their pains. Try to follow the structure below:

Structure for your Services Pages

Rather than simply listing the features of your services, the goal is to think in terms of the benefits and create an emotional response. Take a look at the answers you just wrote down – is there a way to turn this into a story?

Use Storytelling Copy:

  • Opening
    • Highlight the Pain
  • Conflict
    • The journey as the user tackles the pain
  • Dialogue
  • Solution
    • Share specific results
    • Utilize case studies

Goal: Highlight the benefits & be conversational

Are you Making this Services Page Mistake

I put together the following questions to help you with your Services pages rewrite!

Your services pages should be written in such a way that they speak directly to your target market and show them why they can’t live without working with you.

Instructions: For each service you offer, answer the following:

Who is the ideal client for the service? In other words, what kind of person is the service designed for? Go beyond the easy answer such as defining a market. Instead, look to be as narrow as you can. There may be a slightly different persona for each service.

 

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What is the real value of the service to the client? This one is always hard to quantify. Try to think of this as a benefit beyond the obvious. What can individuals do in their life that they weren’t able to do before? Is there an emotional benefit?

 

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What is unique or different about your services vs. your competitors’ offering? These differences could be process related, team expertise related, time to completion related, etc. It’s easy for someone to provide a generic answer such as “we’re more experienced,” so you will have to ask follow-up questions. How are we more experienced? Can we tangibly show how we’re more experienced?

 

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What is the cost of NOT having the signing up for your services?  This is a little more of the fear factor. What can go wrong for a client who doesn’t implement it? What do they risk if they forgo using you?

 

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How is the service delivered? This is a simple process question. What can your clients expect when they work with you with this service?

 

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Do clients typically have other services from you when they come in for this specific service?

 

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Behind the Scenes at BIMS

Working from home has its perks. For one, I have the BEST office mates. My girls are with me for part of each day  and I am so lucky to build a walk or run outside into “office” life.

Meet Clover:

Benefits of working from home. You have office mates like this little cutie! #irishwolfhound

Clover is our “little” Irish Wolfhound! She spends every day by my side (in fact, the office is organized so her GIANT bed can fit in front of the window). Clover has spent every day of her life with us working by my side. She’s the perfect sounding board for brainstorming and has always been a motivator to take a walk or jog outside as a midday break.

Then there is this little twerp 🙂

My little mini-me is another staple in the office. Until she could walk, MK came EVERYWHERE with me, including the networking group I run. We count our blessings everyday about how lucky we are that she has such a sweet (though mischievous) disposition.

These two are now best friends and trust me, I’m so excited too “go” to work every day knowing they’ll be popping in to say hello whenever they need a little love from mom!

clover and mk

Now, don’t even get me started on Amber’s clan! I’ll let her write about her two. Just think of the sweetest pup and girl you can… multiply that by 100. You’ll finally be close to how lovely her officemates are 🙂

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Top Mistakes You Can Make as a New Business

Working with businesses owners we see a lot of mistakes and successes. Especially for the new business or freelancer, the mistakes below can completely destroy your business before it has the chance to succeed.

Mistake #1: Striving for Perfection

“Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.”

– Salvador Dali

As a type A perfectionist, I struggled with this. It also is the number one thing I see people starting a business struggle with, as well. Your business is your baby and you are pouring your heart and sole into making it a success, but being too wrapped up in the little things can keep your from actually going out and finding clients. If you find yourself:

  • Stressing over your logo
  • Tweaking every aspect of your website
  • Rereading your introduction email over and over to make it just right (but still not hitting send)
  • Working on perfecting your elevator speech before you attend your first networking group

then you may be focusing too much on being a perfectionist. Trust me, though thoughtful branding can help you land more clients, if you are receiving personal referrals, it isn’t going to stop you from getting paying clients. People choose who they are going to work with based on your personal connection not because of what your logo looks like. Then there is your website… Perfection for every site is a moving target. Your products and services will change. You will notice contacts respond more to one aspect of your business rather than another. As for the next two points, you are procrastinating! It is okay to want to define your messaging, but just getting out there and putting yourself out to prospects is far more important. Sure you want to make sure your messaging is just right when you reach out to that dream prospect or mentor, but these shouldn’t be your first contact. The best part about putting yourself out there before you think you are ready is that you get to understand what the market actually wants and needs! When I first started Boundless Marketing, I had my dream service offerings in mind. Turned out that nobody even understood what I was talking about! There wasn’t a market. I drastically shifted my messaging and began signing contracts almost immediately.

Mistake #2: Thinking you can get clients just by posting things online.

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks, everyone else looks for work. Marinate on that for a minute.”

– Robert T. Kiyosaki

The internet and social media has shifted many of our mindsets about how you can get clients. Even through online channels you need to create a personal relationship with your network. Just posting your blog posts online isn’t going to cut it. I recently signed up for a program to Gain 100 Followers in 3 Days, just to see how other professionals where growing and starting their email lists. Guess what, these influential bloggers and business owners all start int the same place – asking friends, colleagues, clients, and prospects individually if they wanted to join their email list! If you find yourself:

  • Wondering why your networks haven’t converted into paying clients
  • Haven’t asked your mom, sibling, aunt, and grandparent if they want to join your list
  • Are frustrated seeing all these other people succeed

Then you may just be making this mistake. Start going to networking groups and collecting business cards. Take the email address you collect and shoot out a quick note following the template below :

“Hi NAME, I recently met you at EVENT NAME and loved learning about your business. I am in the process of starting an email list focusing on 3 TOPICS YOU WILL BE WRITING ABOUT, and was wondering if you would be interested in receiving the emails. My goal with list is to LIST BENEFITS. Are you interested in learning more?”

Not everyone will say they are interested, but the ones who do will help you grow your contacts quickly! We work with a lot of businesses who see varying amount of success through their social media marketing. The ones who see a return quickly are the clients who are complementing our marketing management services with their own outreach and networking. To see the best results from your marketing, you need to treat social media as you do in person networking. Create personal relationships and treat handles and usernames as individual people not just another account.

Mistake #3: Not Understanding Your Own Values

“When your values are clear to you, making decisions becomes easier.”

– Roy E. Disney

Okay, so this one does tie into the branding of your business, but it really is getting out being your authentic self. Knowing your values helps you to better manage your time, set priorities, and work with clients you enjoy. If you find yourself:

  • Wishing there were more hours in the day
  • Being drained after meetings with prospects
  • Continually wishing you had done X, Y, or Z

Then you may be making this mistake. One of my first clients taught me this lesson the hard way. My values are Relationships (family), Creativity, Challenges, Health, Experiences, and Knowledge. Shortly after I began my business full time, I traveled to my brother’s wedding. I was ecstatic to see him tie the knot and spend time with my family. Unfortunately, a new client nearly ruined my weekend. As a people pleaser, I started bending over backwards for the client and found myself anxiously checking email during the rehearsal dinner. I wasn’t being present. Finally, I recognized I would resent my actions if I didn’t shut off all devices to be there for my family. Sure there was a nasty email from my client, but we worked through our differences once the owner understood my boundaries. If you find yourself stressed about client conversations, I urge you to lay out boundaries, guidelines, and a list of responsibilities. You may loose some clients, but they are the people who take up 80% of your time. Think of all the other things you could do to grow your business if you had 80% of your time back!

What mistakes have you made in your own business that kept you from success?

3 Mistakes that can Ruin Your Business and What to do About Them. Working with businesses owners we see a lot of mistakes and successes. Especially for the new business or freelancer, the mistakes below can completely destroy your business before it has the chance to succeed.

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Buying Fake Followers Can Ruin Your Business

Getting thousands of fans and followers on social media requires a lot of time and effort. For some, it may take several months. For others, however, a year would pass by and their follower count is still less than 500. But if someone offered to help boost your follower count by 10,000 in exchange of $20, would you grab the offer? It’s cheap! It can be tempting to buy fake followers, but please resist the urge to do so.

Having more followers can make you look popular, but it can negatively affect your business in a variety of ways. Here’s how buying fake followers can ruin your business.

It can ruin your reputation

Having more followers may help you feel good about yourself. It also makes you look popular in the eyes of potential and current customers. However, seeing your follower count jump from 100 to 10,000 in a matter of days will make people suspicious. Your credibility can be seriously compromised by buying fake followers.

It prevents you from reaching your audience

Social media provides a great opportunity for you to engage with your fans and followers and build a relationship with them. Since most of the followers you buy are bots, they won’t contribute to your engagement.

If you are using Facebook as your main social channel, then having fake followers will work against you. You see, Facebook has a fancy algorithm in which pages will only reach a certain percentage of their followers. If you have 10,000 fans and only 50 of them share, like or comment on your post, they’ll conclude that you are producing low quality content. As a result, people will be seeing your posts less frequently. Building a large number of followers who won’t be able to see your posts is a waste of time and money.

It hinders you from analyzing your true fan base

To help you create an effective social media marketing campaign, you will need to analyze the behavior of your target audience. Which type of content do they engage with the most? Which topics are they most interested in? How old are your fans? Where do they live? The answers to these questions will help you plan future content.

If majority of your followers aren’t real people, then it will prevent you from understanding your real fans and build a better marketing strategy.

 

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No Plan B – 4 Tips to Jumping into Business Ownership

“The best fights are those fought by those without a Plan B.”
― Mokokoma Mokhonoana

Jumping into business ownership is daunting. How do you know when it is time to let go of your previous life? How can you be sure that your new endeavor will lead to success? The truth is, there is no end-all, be-all advice regarding the right time to jump all in or whether or not you will be successful. There are things you can do, however, that can increase the odds of fulfilling your dreams.

Tip 1: Plan, plan, plan

Creating a road map for your business is integral to your success. Not only do you need to know where you are starting from, but you also need to know what your goals are for month 1, month 6, 1 year, and 5 years. Working through these goals can help you to understand what you need to do to reach them. From here, write a list of the top activities that in the end will lead to you reaching your goals. For example, in my business, we need clients. Most of our clients come from personal relationships, referrals, and outbound marketing. In order to be successful, each week I need to reach more prospects or referral partners. Even if I’m swamped with current projects, I need to make sure I am continually touching new businesses.

In addition to planning for how you will get your first clients, you also need to plan your offerings. Create a list of all the services you can provide and create sample bundles or packages. What if someone only needs help with one aspect of what you provide, how will you charge? What if they want something you haven’t thought of, but have the skills to tackle, will you create a custom service offering for that client?

When I started out, I thought I would only be offering data analysis for marketing efforts. I thought I would be helping clients to understand what works and what doesn’t work as a way to tailor their marketing efforts. Though this is something I do, I was able to listen to my tribe and completely shift my messaging and packages to align with what the market actually needed.

Regardless of how much planning you do, your business plan is going to change.

“We should always have a plan B, but at the same time, treat plan A like it were our only option.”
― Izey Victoria Odiase

Tip 2: Surround yourself with positivity, but not naivety

We all have cheerleaders. Often in business, however, these cheerleaders are wrong to not give push back. Your idea may not actually be all that great. This isn’t to say that you can’t make it in business, it’s just that someone who always agrees with you isn’t going to get you to the place where you will find the most successes.

Though you need to remove negative energy of people pulling you back and second guessing your move to entrepreneurship, you need to also make sure that the positive energy you are surround yourself in is made of people who have been through your same journey and can help give push back when you are approaching a common pitfall. The people you surround yourself with will have a direct effect on your ability to succeed. Find mentors and other business owners who can talk you through marketing, technology, hiring and firing, taxes, etc.

blogging your business

Tip 3: Don’t have a Plan B

Here I mean don’t plan on needing your plan b. Jump head first into your business and don’t get distracted. Though your offerings may change, you need to stay course that you are now a business owner. The most successful businesses take shifts in the market in stride, but never second guess their decision to be in business.

“I don’t believe we should carry backup
plans in life’s suitcase—

they’re too easy to unpack
like living a life in yoga pants,
so comfortable our hips spread
into new timezones…”
― Kelli Russell Agodon, Hourglass Museum

Tip 4: Have backup funds to support you as you jump in

Try not to jump ship unless you have some residual income, clients, or savings already in place. As a new business, you don’t want to feel as though you need to work with every prospect you meet and you don’t want to come across as though you are begging for the next gig. Though being on the verge of bankruptcy can motivate some, most of us will become distracted from our daily activities if you need to constantly worry about money.  Additionally, make sure you have truthful discussions with your spouse about how spending and budgeting will need to change and be realistic about startup expenses. Things always take longer and cost more than you initially estimate.

Tip 5: Throw all this advice away (except the part about listening to your market)

If you know it is time to jump into your own business, just do it. You only live life once, why not make it the most fulfilling life you can. I think the number one reason why people decide to be a business owner is that they are worried about security, health insurance, managing their time, but when you just jump into it, you learn to make things work.

I didn’t set out to be a business owner, but somehow freelancing turned into a full time income. Now I can’t get enough. I encourage all of you with a business idea to give it a shot. Start taking on clients on the side or developing your MVP (minimum viable product). Keep your salary, but work towards being self sufficient. In the end you will thank your employer for funding your budding business.

Best of Luck!

NO PLAN B - “The best fights are those fought by those without a Plan B.”  ― Mokokoma Mokhonoana  Jumping into business ownership is daunting. How do you know when it is time to let go of your previous life? How can you be sure that your new endeavor will lead to success? The truth is, there is no end-all, be-all advice regarding the right time to jump all in or whether or not you will be successful. There are things you can do, however, that can increase the odds of fulfilling your dreams.

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Are You Unemployable?

One phrase that always comes up when I’m chatting with my friends and colleagues whom own their own businesses is “I am just so unemployable.” Why do so many business owners and freelancers believe they are unemployable? Let’s dissect this below:

  • We recognize the value in knocking off top priorities and checking out for the day.
  • We are comfortable going for a run, walk, hike, lunch date in the middle of the day as a way to clear our heads for fresh perspective.
  • Even though we’ve traveled to Europe, Mexico, and across the US, we haven’t taken a REAL vacation in years.
  • We don’t understand why people bog themselves down in minute tasks that should be outsourced.
  • 98% of the time we don’t set an alarm in the morning (if you are a morning person) or go to bed at a decent time (if you are a night owl) because we know when we get the best work done in our daily schedule.
  • We choose only to work with clients who understand that sometimes little Suzie or Johnny needs to come to our meetings.
  • We cut out time every week to further our own education.
  • When we feel the most successful, our values are aligned with the work on our plate.

I don’t know, if I had an employee like this, I think I’d jump for joy! The problem is that so many businesses require 8 hours a day. It is a way to build a strong culture and often those who are first into the office and last to leave make a lasting impression on management about how committed they are to the organization. Surely as an employee, you can’t outsource those small repetitive tasks – or can you?

Running your own business takes perseverance. Every day you need to make a choice about how you will spend your time. It’s easy to get side-tracked by “shiny object syndrome” or those small tasks that don’t actually result in return. But if you jump all in, you may in fact find that you will never be employable again.

Do you find yourself thinking that you are unemployable even though you work harder than anyone else you know?

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Asana vs. Trello: Project Management Application Comparison

Choosing a project management tool as a small business can be quite challenging. The tool should be able to grow with you and integrate into other systems. Especially with remote team members, you need to make sure everyone is on the same page and that you have the ability to take a snapshot quickly of the progress of each project. For a long time, we used Google Spreadsheets to keep track of contractor activities, but soon found this to be too much of a nightmare as we grew. We’ve discovered Asana and Trello to be incredible resources for us and our client teams with whom we are working.

Though we all wish Salesforce was within our budget, Trello and Asana both have free platforms that you can utilize as you are just starting out. This blog compares the free versions of Asana and Trello to help make your project management app selection process easier as you are starting out with your business. 

A little background on Asana

Asana is a popular task management app that strives to manage team’s internal coordination. It has a simplistic UI design with the following features:

Asana for Task List and Project Management

Tasks: Tasks are the items that you need to complete or remember. They are organized into three groups: Today, Upcoming, and later. Each task can:

  • be assigned to one individual, but the task can be saved to multiple Projects. So, if two projects rely on the completion of a single task, you would include this on each.
  • have subtasks that relate to the main task
  • include tags for each sorting and organization
  • have set due dates including recurring due dates
  • have comments and descriptions making it easy to specifically communicate regarding one item.

Projects: Projects are made of all the tasks within one project. You can separate the tasks out into different Sections within the Project. The free version of Asana allows you to create 3 Projects. You can either view the tasks within a project as a Bullet Point checklist or using the Kanban system, which utilizes board to display the information.

Organizations or Teams: These are the divisions within Asana. An organization is everyone with a set business email address and then they can be broken out into teams. Within the free platform, you belong to one team, but can also have a personal workspace.

Drawbacks of Asana

Though Asana is a simplistic, it can be difficult to sort through which tasks are due when, specifically with recurring tasks. The future iterations of a task do not appear on your list or calendar until the current iteration is complete. Additionally, the integrations with other applications typically only works with the paid version. Lastly, sub-tasks can be difficult to work with as they can lose their connection to the parent task. For many projects, we’ve moved these subtasks to parent tasks and just named them to make it clear they belong grouped together.

A little background on Trello

Unlike Asana, Trello is a task management app that only uses the Kanban system to organize projects. It is much like using sticky notes on a white board to create a visual display of upcoming, in process, and completed tasks.

Trello for Kanban Project Management

Some features of Trello:

Board: A board is a process in development or a project underway. It is made up of Lists and Cards.

List: A list is a way to divide a board into different categories. These appear as a vertical stream of cards. We typically use each list as a step in the development process including lists for work in progress, needing approval, and complete.

Cards: Cards divide a list into the specific items that need to be completed. These can be made of checklists, uploads, descriptions, notes, and comments, and can link to documents and images. For each card you can:

  • add members
  • use labels for organization
  • create checklists
  • assign due dates (not recurring)
  • subscribe, copy, and archive.
  • move the card from one list to another until it reaches completion.

Drawbacks of Trello

Though I love the simplistic feel of Trello and how easy it is to visualize your progress, it does become a little messy once you have multiple cards, lists, and boards. When multiple people are assigned to numerous cards, you may lose track of an item that is your responsibility to complete. Lastly, our team has a lot of recurring tasks, making Trello inefficient for us to use as a management system.

Final Thoughts

I personally like both Asana and Trello, however we do utilize Asana for managing our own tasks and those for our contractors. This is because you can view items as a list, as calendar due dates, and as boards. Trello really only allows you to view the items through the boards (the Kanban system). Yes it’s great that you can move items between boards easily, but at the same time having that calendar functionality to see when a project is coming up and the ability to see a chart of the progression of a task is a great asset to have for your team. Also, we utilize the recurring due date function within Asana. 

Either free platform will work for a small team to manage their tasks and I highly recommend checking them both out. Be sure to let us know which you decide to use for your business!

Asana vs Trello | Business management with Asana | Business management with Trello | How to use Trello for business | Use Asana for business | Project management tools | how to manage projects | Free software project management | Tools to make business easy | Project management tools for small business - Trello vs Asana

Asana vs Trello | Business management with Asana | Business management with Trello | How to use Trello for business | Use Asana for business | Project management tools | how to manage projects | Free software project management | Tools to make business easy
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