#TechChat – Is Not Having Structure Holding Your Business Growth Back?
In this #TechChat, I discuss a meeting I had with a colleague about how not having structure in his business has cost him money. He could be further along if he had the right systems and structure in place. So I pose the question to you. Do you have structure in place in your business? Are you missing any systems? What has that cost you in time and money? Let me know in the comments below.
One of my favorite tech tools that I use is the Google Authenticator app. The Google Authenticator app is a great app for generating 2 Step verification codes. This second layer of security will protect your various accounts from being highjacked. IOS and Android versions available.
http://bit.ly/DigitallyYou – #TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business, how to use the latest apps and organization tips.
In this #TechChat I discuss automation and my end of year procedures. I also touch on what you should be doing too in your business. I answer questions about doing Holiday advertisements and campaigns and how to automate that process. The importance of doing tech evaluations.
I also give general automation tips as I am asked questions by the viewing audience. So pull up a chair, get your favorite drink and take good notes.
#TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business, how to use the latest apps and organization tips. In this #TechChat I share what I have been procrastinating on and what I did about it. I also want to know what you are procrastinating on? Let me know in the comments below.
In this #TechChat I share with you my 3 words for 2018. I got the idea for doing 3 words instead of 1 from Chris Brogan. You can check out the article that started it all here.
My 3 words for 2018 are:
Consistency. Seen. Lion.
I want to be consistent in everything from content creation to showing up in my business everyday period.
I want to be seen. I want everyone to know who I am and what I do. Even though I am a introvert that is no reason to keep hiding behind my computer and being the world’s best kept secret. So this year I will be very intentional about getting out there in a big way.
And finally I choose lion because that is how I want to show up this year. Tossing fear aside and boldly living my truth. I will not shy away from collaborations and reaching out to those who are where I want to be. I will not hide my light under a bushel.
Now that you see what my words are I would love to hear what your 3 words are. Drop them in the comments below!
Everyone who runs a business deals with a deluge of email messages each day. Coaches and Consultants also use email to keep in contact with their clients, sending them content and offers. Whether dealing with emails coming in or your marketing messages going out, it will be a great time saver to automate your email processes.
Streamline Your Workflow with Email Automation
There are several ways automation can help you deal with your daily incoming emails. If you have a task list integrated with your email system such as Google Tasks and a Gmail account, you can turn incoming emails into tasks. Any email that requires some form of action from you can be turned into a task through the Gmail system. Another method is to create a label called ‘New Tasks’ or ‘Task List’ and move these messages to that label.
I use Nozbe as my task manager and it integrates with Gmail. So whenever I have a email that needs to be turned into a task I just forward it to my Nozbe account and the task is automatically created.
Another option is using a Chrome Extension called Sortd. Sortd turns your Gmail into a drag and drop board where you can track to dos and so on.
Microsoft Outlook has a tool that allows you to automate daily email tasks easily. In Microsoft Outlook 2010, this is called Quick Steps. It just takes a few clicks to turn an email you need to take action on into a task. You can also create customized email macros (a macro is a task that needs to be done on a regular basis).
These are specific tools for specific email systems, but you can do something similar no matter what type of email you have. Create a folder for tasks to be done and simply move those emails to the folder.
Automated Email Marketing
If you’re marketing to an email list, automation is essential. In fact, it can’t be done without automation. There’s a certain type of software program that’s used for email marketing called an autoresponder.
Autoresponders automate all of your email marketing tasks including:
Signing up new subscribers
Sending a welcome message to new subscribers telling them what they can expect from your email list
Managing and organizing your list of subscribers
Sending broadcast messages to your list for you
Allowing you to schedule follow-up messages so they don’t need to be sent manually
Providing you with detailed analytics so that you can monitor your progress
When you use an autoresponder, you only need to write your messages and load them up into the program. The program takes care of the rest for you. I use Activecampaign for my autoresponder and email marketing software. You can grab your free trial here. I also highly recommend Convertkit.
Keeping It Real
Another point I stressed was staying real as much as possible. Automating your daily emails and email marketing frees you up to take care of other things, but when you need to communicate with your clients, you should always send them personal messages. Don’t create canned responses. It’s important to be real with your audience.
#TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community. It’s designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business. #TechChats are also designed to help you learn how to use the latest apps and get organized. In this #TechChat I talk about the power of Daily commitments. So what are you committed to?
Let me know in the comments what you have been putting off and not giving your all to, but now know you must commit to.
When you think of automating your sales process what probably comes to mind is sales funnels. But just what is a sales funnel and why do you need to automate it?
Let’s start with the definition of a sales funnel.
Quite simply a sales funnel is the “process” of leading unqualified prospects to become buyers, weeding out the tire kickers along the way.
You want the sales process to be smooth & standardized and your sales funnel is what makes this a reality. Nearly every aspect of your sales funnel can be automated so that all you need to do is set it up and drive traffic to it. That’s the beauty. Put in the necessary work now upfront to be able to put sales on autopilot for the foreseeable future.
So, let’s break down the different components that make up your funnel and process that you can automate.
The Squeeze Page/Opt-in
The first part of your funnel and thus process is the squeeze page. You will also hear a squeeze page referred to as an opt-in page because people opt-in for your offer. Squeeze pages are often used as the entry point to your sales funnel(s). If you don’t have a full-fledged website, I highly recommend at least setting up a squeeze page to capture emails and leads until you get a full website.
*Note – Never forgo getting a website built in hopes of just having a squeeze page only or using just Facebook. Why? Because you want to own your web real-estate for one and for two you want to offer more information as your business grows; like blogging, articles, services and products pages, testimonials, etc. All of which cannot be captured without being overwhelming on one page or a squeeze page.*
The way these pages work is to initially qualify prospects by offering an opt-in form. The opt-in form is on the page that urges your prospects to sign up for your freebie or other incentive. This entire process can be easily automated so that prospects can enter your sales funnel at any time, 24/7.
Even while on vacation!
You can increase efficiency by adding pop-ups for your offer to your regular website and also an exit pop-up for those who leave your website or leave the squeeze page without signing up.
Once a prospect signs up, they’re redirected to a download page where they can get your freebie or incentive. This could be any type of item, such as an information product, a video or a coupon, but the entire process of downloading it can be automated. You don’t need to manually deliver the product to them.
You can use several tools for landing pages. A few to consider would be:
This is not an exhaustive list but a good start in finding a tool for squeeze pages.
Once the prospect has signed up for your offering and is on your email list, you can start marketing to them through theiremail. This is done through an automated software tool called an autoresponder. An autoresponder is essential for email marketing.
Through your autoresponder you can schedule automated messages that give your subscribers content and various back-end offers that help you qualify them even further. We will dive into email marketing and autoresponders in a future blog post.
The Sales Process
Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty. It’s essential for every coaching and consulting business to automate its sales process. You do not have the time to process each purchase manually. It’s impossible for your business to scale when sales pick up if you are processing sales manually. Doing so can lead to complaints and chargebacks.
Not good business!
One area of automating your sales process is the shopping cart. Automated shopping carts allow customers to shop and buy your products without any involvement from you.
Shopping carts are added to websites through software programs or online services, like Shopify. Many webhosting companies, like Squarespace, offer shopping carts as part of their packages.
Before you jump the gun and get a shopping cart, you need to figure out if that is what your business needs at this time or not. The questions to ask:
Is this a one-off product that I’m offering?
Do I plan on offering many digital or physical products?
Do I just need something to offer clients a way to pay for my coaching or consulting services?
By answering these questions you will be able to choose the right tool of either a full on shopping cart or a service that just offers a way to make payment buttons that can be placed on your website or used standalone.
What Not to Automate In Your Sales Process: Customer Service
One area of your business that should never be automated is customer service. You can lead prospects through your sales funnel and allow them to buy from you completely on autopilot. But when there’s a question, problem or concern, you need to have a real person there to answer them. When you are just starting out you may be able to handle customer service directly, but as your business begins to grow you will need to use the help of software and/or other services to provide customer service for your business. Software tools, such as Zendesk, can be manned by REAL people. There are several companies out there that you can delegate your customer service operations to.
The point is to make sure that you just don’t set up some canned response and not have a real live person that your clients and customers can get in touch with.
No matter how big your business grows NEVER lose the personal touch.
CLICK HERE to get your FREE training on getting automated.
Have you ever felt envious of those coaches who take vacations and don’t worry about their business? Everything continues to run smoothly with no input from them at all. Or the consultants who spend all their time doing the parts of their business they enjoy, and almost no time on the rest?
You may have thought to yourself that they must have a ton of money or a huge team for them to be able to do that in their business. Or maybe you just think they’re faking the funk and really working 24/7.
In reality, none of those scenarios are 100% true. The truth is that successful coaches and consultants do work hard, especially in the early stages of building their business. And most do not have the unlimited budget for a huge team.
Their secret sauce is a combination of outsourcing and automation.
They follow these three rules:
Automate as many things as possible
If it can’t be automated, outsource it
If it can’t be outsourced, decide if it’s really worth doing at all
So, let’s look at the first rule – automation. Which parts of your business can run on autopilot or made easier with technology? Think about the following areas:
Your Sales Funnel
Payments & Invoicing
Even filing your digital assets, like images, files and documents.
So let’s talk about why you need to automate your business.
Think of all the tasks you have to do each day. Many are repetitive and tedious, wasting your time and energy. When you automate, those tasks take care of themselves and you can focus on what you do best; which is coaching and consulting.
The Benefits of Being Automated
There are several benefits to being automated. I will list 3 of the biggest ones below.
Increased Productivity – By getting rid of tasks that drain your time and energy, you can focus on money making activities in your business. There are two types of tasks – routine and “thinking”. Both tasks require more concentration and critical analysis on your part. But when you can put some of the routine tasks on autopilot, you can spend more time on the tasks that only you can do. This not only increases your productivity, but streamlines your business.
Eliminates Human Error. You’ve probably burned the midnight oil before because you had to get that blog post out or that email sequence up. Only to be embarrassed when you see the mistakes made in the light of day AFTER you have hit publish. When tasks are automated these mistakes all but disappear.
Business Scale – If you sell info products along with your coaching/consulting and you are manually running the orders, a sudden increase in business from a social media post or something going viral can overwhelm you. An automated sales system allows you to keep up. And when you keep up you keep customers happy. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I have seen big name coaches who have a hit product take off only to not be able to handle the onslaught of new people and orders and end up getting chargebacks and bad reviews because of it. The way social media is setup you don’t want your business on the receiving end of that nightmare scenario.
Tasks You Can Automate
So you may be asking yourself “what tasks can be automated?” There are tech tools out there to help you automate nearly every aspect of your business. Common tasks that can be automated include:
Content Creation. You can’t create all your content automatically, but there are tools and resources available out there to make getting content out to the masses easier.
Your Sales Funnel. Your sales funnel can be setup and monitored through automation so that you can focus on serving your clients.
Email Marketing. If you want your sales to sky rocket, then you have to automate the process of managing your email lists and send out broadcast messages.
Social Media. If you want to establish yourself as an expert, then you are going to have to have a presence on social media. There are tools available to help you easily manage multiple social media accounts and platforms.
Your Website. There are ways that you can even automate keeping your website updated.
Payments. Wouldn’t you like to get paid even if you are on vacation or asleep? Automation is the key. It allows you to take payments and manage your financial tasks so you don’t have to waste time doing it manually.
Digital Assets. Your computer files, images, videos and documents can all be automated. There are tools out there that even help with this part of your business.
What Can’t Be Automated
Automation is great, but there are two areas that you can’t automate. The first is the initial setup of your systems.
I know, I know. But there is work that is required to get your systems in place. You just can’t wake up and everything appear ready to go. That’s not real life.
You must realize that the time you spend setting up your systems correctly is time well spent. In most cases you will just have to set it up once for it to produce for you for years to come.
The next area is relationship building. With social media and other online marketing channels, it’s as important as ever to be real with your customers. Automated responses and replies in moderation is ok but not every single communication from you. Remember you are trying to build a relationship. You are basically courting your prospects. How would you feel if a robot came to take you out, or if all the response you ever got from your spouse or best friend was a text message only with no real interaction? You would be put off for sure. Not someone you would want to do business with.
So, don’t do it in your business. There are some responses and such that can and should be automated, but the core of your communication with clients and potential customers should be live and heart felt.
Of course, automated systems aren’t perfect. But remember you will need to take the time to learn how to use each automation tool. However, the time you save using automation will pay back in spades the time you are spending now to get your systems in place and learning how to use the tech tools to make automation a reality.
CLICK HERE to get your FREE training on getting automated.
Are you managing your time effectively? As coaches & consultants we’re bad about falling into the trap of counting every hour at the computer as “work time”. Let’s be honest for a minute. How much of that time is spent browsing your Facebook timeline, checking the latest Instagram post or going down the rabbit hole of “research”. That last one I have been guilty of. As a “Fact Finder” I can lose hours to research on all types of subjects.
The truth is we are all guilty, but to be more profitable and productive we have to manage our time effectively. While the ideas below will take effort on your part to implement, the end result will be to spend less time chained to your computer and more time doing what you do best in your business and doing the things you love.
Make A Plan And Break It Down
Start by figuring out what you need to get accomplished. What’s that next big project and what ongoing tasks need to be taken care of in order to get the project done successfully? What are the daily and weekly tasks? Write all of this out. Use mindmapping software, pen and paper or Evernote to get the plan and information out of your head.
If you’re working on a new coaching program, that might involve outlining what you want to teach, writing the training modules, editing and formatting, creating worksheets and slides and figuring out how you’ll sell and deliver the program.
In addition you may have daily or weekly tasks like blogging, filing, bookkeeping, emailing your subscribers, interacting on social media sites and being present in Facebook & LinkedIn groups, etc.
Figure out what you need to get done over the coming weeks and write it down. Knowing what you should be working on to be more profitable is half the battle.
Write Out Daily and Weekly To-Do Lists
Next it’s time to write out your to-do list. Start with everything you’ve written down in the last step and break it down into daily or weekly tasks. Use whatever method works best for you. My to do list app of choice is Nozbe. I use Nozbe to track what I need to do and how long it will take.
Use a weekly list if you prefer working on larger tasks or projects all day long, or try daily lists and break larger projects up into manageable chunks that you can accomplish in just a few hours or less. I personally prefer a weekly list with tasks listed each day. I call this my weekly schedule. Every week I make one out and shoot it over to my accountability partner. I put the tasks that I decide to work on from Nozbe and client work and meetings. I also put down my personal obligations. It’s a great way to see everything in one place.
Whatever you choose to use make sure that you use it daily!
Set A Time And Get To Work
The tasks on your to-do list will take as long as you allow them to take. Parkinson’s Law is true – “work expands so as to fill the time available for it’s completion.” To stay productive use a timer and the Pomodoro Technique to get your to-do’s done. Pick an item on your list, estimate how long it should ideally take you to get it done and then set that timer.
I use the Pomodoro Technique modified as a Power 90. Which means I focus on a task or project for 90 minutes at a time. Then take a break in between doing something not work related.
Continue to evaluate what’s working and what isn’t. When you incorporate these tools and habits into your business you will become more profitable in your business and have more fun doing what you love.
In today’s #TechChat I talked about why manually scheduling your clients is a time suck. We have all been there. Taking calls in the middle of a grocery store. Playing phone tag for weeks. Missing out on opportunities. There is a better way.
The best way to schedule clients is to put in some type of automated system. Some of the main points in the video are:
Stop playing phone tag. Now know when you will be meeting with a client or receiving a call.
Be prepared. When you know in advance when you will be meeting with a client or potential client you can have your research done and be better informed when you do meet.
Never miss an opportunity. Always be available to take appointments without being physically available. By that I mean you can be sleep or on vacation and potential clients will still be able to schedule time to meet with you that is convenient for the both of you.
If you struggle with this and have no system what so ever to schedule clients then I invite you to my Automate to Dominate Pilot group training. You can find out more at bit.ly/atdpilot.
This week’s replay asks if your business can run without you. Being a business owner comes with responsibility but you don’t have to be a slave to them. Automation can be a big help in freeing up your time and energy as a business owner. If you are interested in seeing the Get Automated Webinar that is mentioned in this video you can find that here. It’s FREE for a limited time!
Wow! Time sure does fly by. I remember when the iPhone first came out and how excited I was. I didn’t immediately jump on the bandwagon and go buy one. I waited awhile. Just until they had got rid of some of the kinks. Then I jumped and never looked back.
I did a post a few years back with my first iPhone. 2 posts as a matter of fact. You can read them here and here. But I wanted to revisit just how far this device has come and how it has helped me all these years in my business.
How The iPhone Has Helped Me Run My Business
Now you know I am a big fan of tech and utilizing tech to help me stay productive and organized. The iPhone has played a major role in that by helping me keep my client’s files and my own calendar at my fingertips. As well as stay sane with my music and audio books.
When the iPhone came out gone were the days where I had to lug around my client files when I went on a job. I also didn’t have to carry around a planner anymore. That was huge in my book! The best thing of all; I was able to capture my ideas and notes on the go without having to carry around sticky notes or depending on random sheets of paper.
Apps, Apps Galore!
The invention of the App Store was a game changer. With that you have no excuse for not being organized. There is literally a app for EVERYTHING! Some of my all time fave apps are Evernote, Nozbe, Asana, Dropbox, and Google Keep just to name a few. I also have apps for collecting money, monitoring my money, games and creating awesome images for my social media and website.
There is so much power in this phone. Now I know what you are saying…”What about Androids?” I hear you. I think they are great too. I had 2 androids and they worked great. I was able to find comparable apps when I made the switch. But the iPhone wooed me back. It’s just smoother and more polished in my humble opinion. AND this is a post about the iPhone so…
All in all I’m glad that the iPhone exists. Would my business be where it is today without it? Probably, but it would have taken a lot more work than it has. And frankly I don’t want to think about a world without the iPhone. So here’s to you iPhone! Thanks for making my business a lot more streamlined and productive.
What’s your iPhone story? I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
We all understand the importance of being organized in your home and life, but many of us don’t realize the importance of being organized in your business and the important role it plays in your bottom line. In my interview with Sharvette Mitchell of the Sharvette Mitchell show, I talk about why organization is important and why automation plays a key role in business freedom.
Some key points of this interview:
Sharvette mentions that some of us have the Fear of Success.
Growing Too Big Too Soon with no plan or structure in place.
Partnering with others who are stronger in the area you are weak. But the bottom line is you still need to have input and a basic structure for someone to follow.
**The first part with Valerie Priester is great. Especially if you are a new coach or a struggling coach who needs to get clients and learn how to get consistent income. I am featured on the second half of the show. So listen in below!
In this video I share with you my process for transferring my written notes into my digital filing system. I use Evernote, but this can work with any note taking app or software. Listen in and let me know your thoughts and what you use currently to marry digital with paper.
Set aside 1 to 2 hours. Especially if you have a large load of notes.
I took a photo of the notebook
Scanned the pages
Tear up and toss the scrap of paper or file the notebook.
To maintain – schedule time weekly to keep up to date and not get a backlog of notes to scan and have to devote hours.
Helped me remember things I had written long ago.
A great way to review how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished. (You don’t have to wait until the end of the year!)
Helps keep you motivated and creativity flowing.
Choose Your Route
Scan to a generic notebooks, then organize where it goes later. You just need to make sure that you schedule the follow up.
Scan where it goes to from the start. This takes longer so you will need to schedule the necessary time and you may need to break it into sessions.
Want to learn how to use Evernote like a pro? Enroll in my Evernote Course now!
In this video I talk about why business automation is important, why you should be thinking about that whether you are a seasoned business owner or whether you’re just starting out in business or in the entrepreneurial world, or you’re thinking about a business. I think it’s always a good thing to be ahead of the curve, and to think about what pieces you’ll need even before you get there.
Summary of Video:
What do I mean about automating your business:
Having systems in place, whether that’s software apps or people in place, that get work done in your business without your input.
Whether you are there or not, your business still runs.
Your newsletter still goes out,
Your sales funnel still works right along.
That means your blog post still goes up.
Whether you’re there or not, you have systems in place.
Why this is important?
Because you really want to be a business owner, not just an owner of a job. I’m pretty sure no one really went into business just to create a job for themselves. You probably went into business not only to help others, but to create freedom, whether that’s freedom to spend time with your kids and family, or freedom to travel, but you didn’t get into business solely to have a job for yourself and to be working like you’re an employee to yourself. It’s really important to have systems in place to automate, so that you can step away from your business.
I’m a solopreneur myself, and I know how it is to be everything in your business, but that’s why I have put systems in place to run my business when I’m not there. So, I took a little mini vacay last week, and all my things went out as normal like I was still there because of these systems in place. So, that is the most important reason why you want to be automated. You want to be able to step away, to do things, and your business still runs, your business still makes money even when you are not actively involved in the day-to-day, or in every single aspect.
Focus on what you do best.
No matter what you do, what your business title is, you can focus on what you’re good at in that particular business. Instead of the minute little things that a VA can take care of, or the details, you can focus on what you’re good at to bring in more money, to bring in more clientele, to service your clients. By having your business automated in key areas, you are free to focus on that one thing, and really concentrate on that instead of the backend of your business, the admin stuff of your business.
For more ways you can automate your business and what tools to use visit http://www.organizingguru.com/getautomated. This is the Get Automated Webinar 2017 talked about in the video and the replay and worksheets are still available. Don’t let this year pass you by and your business is still not automated. Click the button below to get automated!
Are you ready for the New Year? More importantly is your business ready? Now is the time to organize your business, update files and put in place systems and processes (or update the ones you have already). In this week’s #TechChat I go over what I do at the end of the year and give you some great pointers on what you can be doing too.
Some great end of year things to do are:
Reflect on what went well in business, what didn’t go well, and what can be better next year.
Purge through your files (Digital and Physical)
Create file folders for the upcoming year.
Prepare for tax filings.
Purge your email list, emails and social media accounts.
Setup your content or plan your content for the next quarter.
Fill out your planner or calendar with all the events and items you know about already for the upcoming year.
#TechChat’s are weekly trainings in the Digitally You with Samantha Facebook Community designed to help entrepreneurs & small business owners learn new ways to be productive in business, how to use the latest apps and organization tips.
Before you hire a web designer, make sure you know what questions you need to be asking and what are your rights. I hate to hear when someone doesn’t have their passwords to their own site. It shouldn’t be that way. Listen in as I break down what you should be asking and what you should have when you hire a web designer.
If you are anything like me and consider yourself a lifelong learner, you may have tons and tons of pdf’s, ebooks, videos, audios, images, and various other things that pertain to some type of training course you took. Whether you took the course online or offline, you may have digital files that you will need to refer back to periodically. Well in this #TechChat I show you how I have organized my “training files” and how easy it is.
“Training Files” are those files that you have when you pay for a webinar or take a course or go hear a speaker and they send you digital files (audios, pdf’s, outlines, powerpoints, videos, etc.) of what you learned for you to refer back to later.
By organizing these files you are more likely to come back to them and be able to get at the information you need when you need it. Don’t just save files in your download folder until it becomes a unmanageable mess. Take the time to set up the file structure on your computer and cloud storage and utilize the information that you paid for.
Do you organize the information that you have bought? If so let me know what your system is in the comments below.
Today I am sharing 3 apps of many that I use to run my businesses. It is important as a business owner to be organized and have as much of your work tasks automated as possible. These apps are just a few that I use to do just that. I have saved myself hundreds of hours by implementing these 3 apps. There are more things that I use to automate my business but these are my top 3 that I use daily.
So watch as I share what I use to capture my ideas and client information, what I use for project management and what I use for invoicing. Be sure to look at my other posts about other tools I use to run my business. And be sure you check out our Resource page too.
P.S. Please ignore me being upside down. Only when I show me you will see that I am upside down. I think I had the phone turned the wrong way when recording. But the important information is right side up ;-).
P.S.S. Do you need help when it comes to finding out what technology you need for your business and how to use it? If so check out my Blueprint for Success: Pushing Past Tech Fear program. I am now enrolling for this hands on 4 week course that will have your business in tech shape. Learn more here.
Are you in the market for a new computer? Don’t know where to start or what you should be looking for? Well this post is for you.
As a technology consultant and coach I often asked “What should I get?” If you have ever been in the market for a new electronic gadget you are all too familiar with the non help you get in the stores. You must realize that the clerks are there to sell a product and they will tell you anything whether they are on commission or not. You also have store personnel who have no clue at all. They just work there.
I want to share with you a few tips or questions that you need to have answered before you go in any store. Once you have these answered and settled in your mind you will be able to go to the store with confidence and more importantly knowledge. You will certainly come home with what you need and nothing more. So let’s dive in!
What Is The Main Use Of Your Computer? What Do You Need To Be Able To Do?
This is where you really want to think about what you use your computer for and what are the basics that you really need. Do you need just email functionality or be able to browse the Internet? Do you use it strictly for business or do you need it for both home and business use? All of these answers to these questions will help flesh out the blueprint that you will need when it is time to go purchase your new computer. The answers will help you pin down what you really need and not be oversold by the salesperson or come home with something that you didn’t even want.
What Is Your Budget?
This is usually a tricky one for people. Most people fail here because they have not done any research to find out what are the going rates for computers in the first place. So that is where you want to start. When you go in a store just browse the computer section to familiarize yourself with what computers are going for. From the least expensive to the most expensive. You might also want to note what features come with each price point. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop. Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket at one store. Remember knowledge is power! Once you have familiarized yourself with pricing then you can come up with what you are willing to spend for the features that you NEED in a computer.
How Computer Savvy Are You?
This is an important one. You don’t want to get a computer with a ton of bells and whistles when you have only mastered turning it on. Remember the sales person will make everything sound easy peasy to you but once you get home you are on your own. So you need to make sure that the computer you get is not bloated down with a lot of programs and other shiny tricks to the point where you get frustrated and don’t even use the thing because it is too over your head. It happens everyday. Or if you aren’t all that computer savvy think about getting some training either free or paid that can get you up to speed on what you need to know in order to operate your machine.
What Programs Will You Need?
All computers come with what is known as bloat wear. This is extra software loaded onto the computer that you didn’t even ask for. With that being said, you need to figure out what programs you will need that don’t come with the computer and are extra costs. The most important piece of software that you need is virus protection software. Do not skip this. Because it only takes one bad virus to ruin your new investment beyond repair. After that you will probably need a PDF reader which is free from Adobe and some type of Office Software like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel, etc. But if you do not want to pay an arm and a leg for Microsoft’s offerings you can go the open source route and get Open Office for free that will let you read and save Microsoft Office file types. After you get the basics you can figure out what other software programs you will need depending on what you will be using your computer for.
What Accessories Do You Need?
Here you will need to know if you need speakers or a larger screen or if you will need to get a USB hub or a router of some type. Is your set up at home wireless? Do you need a printer or scanner? This is the time to answer all of these questions before you head out and get sold some riverfront property in Kansas! Only get what you absolutely need for your new computer and what you will be actually using.
Will I Need Help Setting It Up?
I’m pretty sure you will need help getting everything set up even if you follow directions. It just helps having someone else setting it up right the first time and making sure that everything works like it should. This is especially true if you will be setting up a wireless network in your home at the same time. So look into whether the store where you purchase the computer from offers this service or if you can get a neighborhood kid to come over and help you get set up. Don’t try to do it alone if you don’t know what you are doing because the last thing you want to do is ruin your new purchase because you plugged in the wrong cords.
Now for a word on wireless setup. If you decide to go wireless remember to have it set up with a password so that anyone driving down your street can’t just jump on to your open wireless network and possibly get onto your computer. It can happen. And if you go through a phone company to set up your wireless computing remember to choose a new password because everyone knows that they use your home phone as a password most of the time. Let’s make sure not to make it easy for the identity thieves out there.
After answering all of these questions you should now be in a great position to go confidently and boldly to purchase your new computer. Because you have done your homework and researched and thought about what you need you will not be oversold by a pushy or non-knowing clerk at the store. You will also not be sold something that isn’t compatible with what you have. You have all of the power and can now make an informed decision.
Even after all of the planning and research you still don’t feel comfortable going by yourself then by all means hire someone who specializes in this type of thing (hint, hint, ME) to come with you to the store to make sure that you are making the right decision. You can be in and out in under two hours depending on if you go to multiple stores. You can even have that person help you set up everything once you have made your purchase. You can’t go wrong with that.
I hope this post has given you some insight into choosing the right computer for your needs and given you the confidence and knowledge you need to make the right decision and purchase for your family.
I was a panelist for on a call for the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) last week. The topic was “Harnessing The Power of CRM to Grow Your Business”. I was one of 3 panelist discussing what a CRM was and how it helps your business.
So you may be asking “What is a CRM?” Here is a definiton from Zapier:
CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management, so by definition, a CRM is an app that helps you manage your relationships with current and prospective customers. Your email and address book already do that, in some ways—your email links related messages together, and lets you find all messages from a contact with a quick search, while your address book can hold as much info about your contacts as you want. Even the old-fashioned Rolodex was a CRM of sorts.
As you can see having and utilizing a CRM is crucial to your business, especialy if you want it to grow. So I wanted to share with you some of the tips I shared on this Teleconference.
Why Do I Need A CRM & How Early In My Business Should I Implement
One of the questions asked on the call was “Why do I need one and how early do I need to utilize one?” My colleagues all gave great answers saying the sooner in business the better to be thinking about and utilizing a CRM. This is true that you do need to be thinking about a CRM at the earliest stages of your business. Especially if you plan on growing your business. But my advice was that if you are just starting out and don’t have a lot of contacts yet you can still utilize a hybrid system of a CRM like your Google Contacts, Phone Contacts, Evernote, or a scheduling system like Vcita. The reason you want a CRM is because for any business to grow you need customers and clients. You need to build a relationship with these customers and clients. The more people you come in contact with the more disorganized it can become to keep up with who said what and when to follow up. So that is where having a CRM comes into play.
I shared that when I first started out I utilized my Palm Pilot’s roledex feature and kept paper notes in a notebook. This was way before there was a way to scan in business cards like you can now. That was a ok system until I got a little bit bigger and attended way more networking events. Then I graduated to ACT. Only now 19 years in am I utilizing another true CRM for my business as my business model has changed.
That was my experience but if you know that you want to grow your business bigger and will be starting out in business going to a lot of events, I would definetly try out a couple of the CRM’s I will mention below. Most, if not all of them have Free trials and a few have a totally free version depending on the number of contacts and people in your business needing to utilize it. You have way more technology available to you now than I had when I first started. Do what is comfortable and right for your business.
CRM’s To Start
Below is my list of CRM’s. They vary from free to paid and from simple to complex. My advice is choose two that meet your needs right now, but has room to grow as your business grows.
These recommendations are in no particular order and certainly does not encompass all that is available, but it does give you a few that I have tried personally and some that have been recommended by other professionals to get you started in the right direction.
I also shared that when you are looking for a CRM you want to make sure that they have integrations with other services; like your email managment system, etc. You should also make sure that you can get all of your information by download or export.
Also make sure that you can access your info via the cloud. Because there is no point in having a CRM if you can’t access your notes and info on the go.
Look for free trials and only put in about 20 contacts when you are first starting out so that you can really see if it is going to be a good fit without sacrificing a lot of time and energy by putting all of your contacts and information in.
There is more that I plan to write on this subject as there was more questions that people asked that we didn’t get to get to. So stay tuned to my blog for future posts on the subject.
If you have a CRM recommendation or if you are using a hybrid solution of a CRM I would love to hear about it in the comments below.
If you are someone who needs more help in figuring out what is the right solution for you can contact me or check out my 4 week program Blueprint for Success: Pushing Past Tech Fear. You can learn more by clicking here.
In this episode of the Get IT Together! Podcast I talk about why it is important to not procrastinate when it comes to the technology that you use in your business. Waiting until the last minute can cost you time, money and equipment.
If you are ready to get past your technology fear and start being proactive with the technology in your business and getting the right tools for your business then you want to join my 4 week program Blueprint for Success: Pushing Past Tech Fear. This program is a step by step, hold your hand, walk through of finding out the tools and software that your business needs and learning to use those tools. To learn more and get in on the introductory price at bit.ly/notechfear.
Join My New Facebook Group!
Join me at Digitally You with Samantha and join in my twice weekly #TechChat’s. Visit bit.ly/DigitallyYou and request to join.
Are you having trouble keeping a schedule because of procrastination? If so grab my new book where I share how I have pushed past procrastination! Click the image to learn more.
There is just something about the month of August that makes you feel a sense of new purpose and push. Maybe because the kids are going back to school or maybe because it sets in that we only have five more months to make it happen this year on those goals. Whatever it is I am energized by the month and look forward to making big things happen.
There has been a lot of changes this year with Get IT Together! and me. My business has grown and I feel that I am finally at a good place in the process since transitioning fully to digital organizing and technology. I have accomplished a lot in just 6 months, but know there is more to go.
So I wanted to write a post sharing some of the big things that have happened and that I created to serve you better.
The first is I finally finished my Pushing Past Procrastination book. If you have not checked it out, please go over there now. This book was a true labor of love in it took me almost 4 years to complete for various reasons. I am excited to announce that the print copy will be available for purchase very soon. I will update this post when it is available in print.
The second announcement is I have finally opened Sam’s Tech Academy. I wanted a place where I could share my tech knowledge to help you in your business. So head on over there now. I have a couple of courses already up but will be adding new ones monthly. If you are not tech savvy and need to get up to speed on tech then you definitely want to check out Sam’s Tech Academy.
And then finally I have my new Facebook Group Digitally You with Samantha. I would love for you to join me over there in the group. I come in live twice weekly and share #TechChat’s and daily provide relevant tech information to help grow your business. It’s FREE to join and I would love for you to be apart. Just click here to request to join.
Well that is all of my updates for now. It’s a new month and I am excited for all that is going on. If you are not connected with my mailing list drop your information in the box below so you can stay up to date with the happenings and special offers as well as my free ezine My Organized Life.