New Customer Blind Date

Consider a customer like a blind date. The lead capture is how you find them but then you show up and goes from blind contact to first date. How do you position yourself so that your date didn’t run away? How do you position your company so that your customer stays with you to the second and fifth and twentieth “date”? How do you keep them engaged so that they are with you long enough to purchase, and then to keep coming back.

These are 21 ideas that will help you. These are the 21 things I look for when evaluating weather of business is professional or amateur.

  1. Having a professional name on there email. The email should either be info or persons name at the company domain no although it can be the company name at Gmail.
  2. Having an email address with capital letters capital letters. The search you engines and the internet doesn’t care whether it’s capital or lower case but the human I see is capital letter as the beginning of a word.
  3. There should be an email capture form on the website to sign up for a newsletter.
  4. There needs to be a regular blog post or a monthly by monthly newsletter.
  5. The Facebook page should quote the website and pull people from Facebook to the website the reason you do that is so that you can capture their email and contact information from your contact form on your website. So long as they are on Facebook, Facebook owns their contact information, but when they enter information on to your site you own that information and can contact them on a regular basis.
  6. You will need in autoresponder so that you can thank them for signing up or you can give them a free gift, and you can reply with a newsletter on a regular basis.
  7. The company needs a business page on Linkedin and the owners need to have personal page on Linkedin that links to the business and the business account needs to link to the website.
  8. The company needs to be registered with Google local, providing is contact information. The one exception is if the company is run out of your bedroom and that address is clearly on seeing as a house or an apartment within a residential neighborhood. If you are presenting yourself as a professional business and not as a home base business you should have an address that’s not a home. Even if it is a rented mail box somewhere in a business office building. It works best if it’s not the post office or if its not a Mailbox Excetera place. It needs to be a virtual office somewhere that looks like a regular office. Once you have it yet needs to have business hours
  9. Add company pictures to Google local. Google will add a street view but will allow other pictures of the inside if they are tagged to that location. You can put regular pictures office pictures even if it is your home office can still be tagged to that location. Google doesn’t know; Google doesn’t care. Just be sure you were move the Geo tag from the picture before you upload it to a different address.
  10. Speaking of pictures, every picture you post should be tagged with meta information about your company such a as your website and keywords. This is especially for Facebook and google and LinkedIn.
  11. Create a Pinterest account. Put a watermark over the front of the picture that has your company website. You will need to have ownership rights or use a commercial picture that gives you rights to modify and use commercially. (I can show you how to do that.)
  12. Your company phone number should have voicemail and the voicemail should sound like a company and you are not available (you’re talking to a client or it’s outside of business hours) and that you will return phone calls in a specific time of day. This method says that you are busy with clients on a regular basis and take breaks during that time on for to return phone calls. And they should expect that you will provide them the same careful attention that you provide the other customers which is why you can’t answer the phone right then.
  13. You should put a testimony of capture form on the website and google local will include testimonial form.
  14. You should monitor the online reviews and and respond to them particulate there negative. If there is a negative review you need to act on that address it possibly and make it right.
  15. A YouTube account is is essential.Create a company channel for all your videos and link to your website
  16. Do a promotional video of a few minutes and also videos of your products and services and related videos that matter it within the content.
  17. Add generic training videos related to your niche onto your YouTube Channel.  The first comment should be a link to your post about the video on your website.
  18. Post a comment on the original page of any video you add to your channel about how much you liked the video, with a link to your website. This builds referral credits.
  19. Create a post on your website for every video you have on your channel, explaining what it is, and a pdf transcript if you have one.  Make sure the reference link is to the copy of the video from your channel, rather than the video’s original site.
  20. Clean up your personal Facebook account. Clean out any negative post or when you were selling when you were working for a competitor product. Google can find those negative post but you have the ability and the authority as a side owner to go and delete old posts.
  21. Go to other social media sites. I once research to company and found the person call Harris help the CEO and found her myspace account that was still active I noticed where the tattoos were and that she had been a model and had very little to training for what she was reporting herself to be. Had she read this list she would have known to go and disabled that account and delete those pictures because they were counterproductive to her current business presentation.

What is a Startup?

We recently proposed support to a community that wants to see more startups.  They think they want an incubator.  But the definitions were unclear.  Before we wrote the proposal, we asked ourselves the question “What is a Startup?”

There is no common definition of a startup. The SBA tends to intertwine the term with high tech growth. Unfortunately, high tech often also means high risk and high early failure. When one goes big, like Facebook or Twitter, it quickly grows from a small product to a bazillion dollar company. More common, though, are the companies that never reach even a fraction of their market, and either fold or sell their idea to a larger established company. The sale is good for the founders, but does little to build the economic base. And when they become the mentors, they teach a process that is based more on luck than transferable skills.

Our company thinks of startups the way the international literature uses the term: a single person (often a woman) who uses what they have or funds from a microloan to purchase supplies and creates a business our of their home, a pushcart or a market stall. These are often the artisan breads, the fresh veggies, the perfumed creams, the hand-made clothing. These businesses are the true startups that build a local economy and work to end poverty.

The Wrong Way to Start a Business

I read a list from the Small Business Administration that illustrated why so many entrepreneurs fail at launching and then sustaining their new microbusiness. The list is called “10 Steps to Starting a Business” and they are all good things to do, some are necessary. But the order is all wrong!

The first thing is not to write a 40-page Business Plan. Too many will be paralyzed by inaction trying to get the words right, before they know if they really have a business. The 10-step Q&A is enough. 24 questions – and you don’t have to answer them all, just get started.

Steps 3 and 4 are good, but not that early in the process. Step 3 in the SBA list is to choose a business location and Step 4 is to find government backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started. I guess if you’ve got a solid 40-page business plan you can go try to put your future in debt, but who will get the money – you or the business? The business doesn’t even have a tax ID number until step 7, and we don’t know what to call it until step 6. Step 5 is to decide the legal structure, but how you are structured will affect how you repay the loans, if you really even need them.

The one piece of GOOD advice is step 2, just not the way they said it. The article says to “Get Business Assistance and Training” which is excellent advice. But the best advice is not always free, as the article implies. In reality, you will need to pay for good training. Better to learn the right things to do before you spend money and take on debt.

The Mill Creek Center provides business training and mentoring. Some is free, but the solid training will cost a bit. Look to our product page for details.

10 Steps: The Right Name (Step 2)

One of the most important things a parent can do for a child is to choose a good name. Descriptive, not too common, but not too strange. The child will have to live with that name for at least the first 18 years, perhaps the rest of their life.

In ancient times, a name meant something, described your character. In the Bible, Abram’s name, which meant ‘great father’ was changed to Abraham, meaning father of many nations. His grandson Jacob, which meant deceiver, had his life changed by an encounter with the angel of God and received the new name Israel.

Naming is one of the most important things an entrepreneur can do early in the business. The name you choose for your business needs to be unique enough to avoid trademark disputes, but not so strange no one remembers. It should describe what you do or who you are. You can be Jim Jones company or Montgomery Landscaping or TurfMasters. Just don’t do yard care as CritterDiggers.

As you prepare to name the business, check the state’s business name directory, which is usually run by the Secretary of State. Of the states I’ve checked, it’s a free online search. And just because you get the name in one state, if you plan to do business somewhere else, that name might already be taken. Like when I moved from Virginia to Pennsylvania, where there was already a company registered called ‘The Mill Creek Center’. Oops!

Before you lock in the name, check the internet. Is the name available? You can use a dot com, dot org or dot net pretty easily. Some have done well with dot co and then put a slash through an m so folks know it’s not a dot com. The new extensions help – I went to a religion site today that was dot church.

I would caution against putting dashes in the name. It makes the domain unique: is different from, but the other guy will get some of your business. Also, I have one client with dashes in their domain, and logging in on a smartphone is a pain, because I have to switch between the letter keyboard and the symbol keyboard multiple times. What a pain.

Just don’t get hung up on a name. Check your advisers and mentors, and then go register for everything at once. Go big. And get ready to tell the world

Find a Need

The first task of a business is to find a need – and fill it for people with money. There is no use trying to sell a product or service no one wants or needs.

The need must be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely

  • Be as specific as you can.  Not just dog care – grooming, for long-haired dogs that stay indoors
  • How big is your market? How many owners of these dogs are there in your city?
  • Can you find a place to groom the animals?  Is there a license needed?
  • Realistic – can you do this within your current job responsibilities?
  • Is there a special need right now?

This last one points to special circumstances.  Maybe there is an annual dog show in your area.  Can you get your business established, licensed and furnished in time to advertise for clients?  Is there someone with an existing client list that has the market cornered?

The other consideration is to find clients with money.  College students are notorious for needing things on the cheap.  Don’t offer high end products unless you are at a high end school.  Don’t locate your restaurant on a back alley unless you have an established reputation or very good marketing strategy – even if the rent is so much cheaper than a busy street corner.

Because if no one buys, it’s a hobby, not a business.

10 Steps: Choose The Right Business Structure,part 1

After the sole proprietor, the most well know type of business is the corporation.  Corporations are formal legal structures with their own legal identity.  Individuals, including founders, are shareholders in the corporation.  They own a portion of the business and are entitled to a proportional share of  the profits.  They are chartered by the state and have their own set of tax rules and rates.

Corporations are popular because of the types of expenses that can be charged before taxes are paid to the governments and dividends paid to owners.  Some corporations are very large and some have only one shareholder.  There are two types of corporations in the US tax code: C Corporations and S Corporations.

“C” Corporations:

The oldest and most common form of corporation is called the C Corporation.  When we talk of corporations, we are most likely speaking of these.  The advantage of a corporation is that it can attract investors who have no personal legal liability if the corporation gets into unmanageable debt and defaults, or its managers do something criminal.

Corporations sell stock – shares of the company.  My 120 shares in WalMart mean I own a piece of the company – actually only a crumb, about a millionth of a percent.  But it gives me the right to show up at the shareholders meetings and vote for the Directors.  Directors hire the CEO and decide policy for the company.

S Corporations

are small companies.  They are limited to not more than 100 shareholders and all must be US citizens or legal residents. C Corps can have different kinds of stock – giving some preference for voting or being first in line for dividends. S Corps only have one type of stock, and profits are divided proportionally based on the number of shares each shareholder has.

Non-Stock Corporations

are type of company designed as a non-profit. These are charities, community associations, professional societies and political campaigns. I won’t get into these, because for most of you it’s the wrong business model if you want to make money doing it. The main exception is for those that work in religious music, where you might want to set it up as a ‘ministry’ – don’t do it yet. It takes over $3000 in fees, a lot of paper and some pretty specific rules, and a couple of years to set up. Better to just go out and make the cash and pay taxes on the earnings.

In Part 2, I’ll discuss the limited liability options, which help make the case that this is a business and not a hobby

Recruiting Clients

Ray Higdon trains sales professionals, professional speakers and MultiLevel masters.  I have some of his courses available on the Resources page, but today’s training is a set of scripts for recruiting clients.

How to Recruit More Reps Now


What do you think about what Ray said here?  How could you use this in your business, even if you’re not in a MLM company?

Customer Experience Design

Red Privet is a web design company in Harrisburg, PA. At least that’s the simple answer. Company president Matt Hummel clarifies that Red Privet does what he calls Customer Experience Design (CXD).

In a blog titled “How Customer Experience Design Differs from User Interface Design and Why You Should Care“, Hummel notes that CXD enables you to get to know your customers as end-users, consumers and people. Analytics and sales reports can only tell you so much. You might know that customers keep dropping out of your conversion funnel, but you can’t know why until you ask them. What’s confusing, inconvenient or hard to find? Perhaps more importantly, you can learn what your customers value ─ their goals and attitudes toward your products and what motivates them.

He notes that CXD provides the understanding and perspective you need to make smarter decisions about your strategies, products and services. It lets you find the opportunity intersection between your products and your customers’ needs. CDX makes the customer more able to do their work better, and leads to a long-term relationship with you as the service provider.

The CDX process mitigates risk. By being an iterative look at customer reactions, the company can pivot easier to more closely align with the customer’s often unconscious desires for the look and feel of the end product.

Just as important, a properly executed Customer Experience Design project is scalable. Though it may require more time in the early phases, the time spent getting it right is more than compensated for in reproducable design and customer satisfaction.

Personal Loan or Owner Equity?

There are many ways to fund a business.  But for most of us, when money is tight, the additional revenue comes from our own pocket.  How you document that transaction can make a world of difference not only in your business income tax, but whether the money is returned to you now, or in the future, or ever.

The default answer is that funds deposited in the business account by the owner are classified as owner equity in the business and all funds are at risk.  If the business goes south and loses that money, you might get a tax deduction and get some percent of that money back as a personal income tax savings (depending on how your business is structured and taxed), but the larger share of the funds are simply gone.

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When is Lunch Deductible?

Which of these is deductible?

  • A networking lunch at a restaurant
  • A training event in a conference room and lunch is included

For many business owners, the answer is that both are deductible, but only if you follow certain rules.  But one is more valuable than the other. *

For the event to be deductible at all, you must show a business purpose for attending.  You must have a business you spend regular time at, and at which you intend to make a profit.  Even if you never generate more income than expenses, the activity to create business income is enough, assuming you document your intention properly, to prove you are in business.

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