Category Archives: entrepreneur

How Freelancers Get To Take A Day Off

© Favetelinguis | – Freelance Infographic

While freelancing has become very popular globally according to our freelance infographic, a September 2014 national survey shares that it is the new workforce normal attributing over 53 million Americans working as freelancers.  The flexibility and opportunities as a freelancer, solopreneur, or independent contractor are immense.  However, the greatest success comes for those who think strategically about their approach to ensure the greatest income potential and personal freedom.  It is definitely doable and freelance business and financial writer Eric Bank tells us how below.

Add Some Zip To Your Freelance Business

Freelancing is a great career choice. You call your own shots, keep clear of offices (and the accompanying politics), and take time off as you wish. It’s also a terrifying choice — what if you can’t drum up enough business to support your lifestyle? Will you permit yourself time off, knowing that no income is, well, coming in?

We think the best defense against these worries is a good offense. Here are four tips to boost your revenue and allow you to enjoy the occasional day off:

Expand Your Solution

Your business offers solutions to clients. Why not expand the scope of those solutions by adding complementary services? For example, if you are a freelance content provider, leverage your skills into areas such as website design and implementation. You can offer a turnkey project to fulfill the client’s initial requirements and then provide long-term support that translates into steady income.

Support Tangential Services

Your client may have needs that you can satisfy by supplying additional freelancers with a wide range of skills. If you are developing marketing projects for a small client, offer to supply a telephone salesperson to handle some of the leads your promotion generates. As a freelancer, you may be in a unique position to network with many others looking to expand their businesses and willing to subcontract services through you.

© Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Johanna Goodyear | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Commit Your Expertise to Print

Some freelancers provide high-priced professional services not affordable by all potential clients. However, you may be able sell these clients e-books, manuals and videos that layout your expertise in a series of systematic instructions. This not only increases the size of your target client base, it also burnishes your reputation as a guru. Depending on the type of project, you might be able to sell your knowledge for several hundred dollars a pop to clients who can’t afford to hire you directly.

Offer Courses

Some clients may prefer to bring you in to train their staffs. You can put together a set of training classes that you deliver as an adjunct or alternative to your main offering. By the way, did we mention that training is very lucrative?

The bottom line to freelancers and small business owners: think outside the box to increase the scope and scale of your offerings. Then, go take a day off! – EB

Shh, it’s a Secret. Learn How to Go Viral.


On a lazy Sunday perusing Netflix, I watched the movie, Chef, with Jon Favreau (actor and director of Ironman and Ironman 2) as character Carl Casper, a chef turned food cart owner.  One element of the movie that caught my attention was Carl’s aloofness about Twitter, tweeting or what “going viral” meant. He soon learned just how easy “going viral” can be and found himself unexpectedly popular on the Internet. And so it is with the Web. However, after chatting with Gen Y Web Entrepreneur Ashley Gilbert of, she explained how entrepreneurs have propelled themselves into the Internet stratosphere overnight and made thousands, even millions, as web entrepreneurs specifically using viral content. May not be your cup of tea, but read on as Ashley shares how leveraging viral content can help to create lots of new traffic to your website, which may be of interest.

Digital media has sky-rocketed in the last few years as people seek their daily dose of news online versus reading a physical newspaper or magazine. And as such, viral media is easing its way to the forefront of the online media world. Viral media is simply a marketing tool that web entrepreneurs use to drive traffic to their websites from other social networking services such as Facebook. Those catchy, shocking, heart-wrenching articles you see every time you visit social media sites is what is known as viral media.

ashley 1

For instance, this article immediately grabs attention by evoking an emotion with a call to action. Nine times out of 10, if someone clicks the link to watch the video and they are impacted, they will share it to their followers and so on.

ViralNova is a site, run by a man in the middle of Ohio, that has previously generated 100 million unique views in a single month. The site’s viral success piqued within six months of the website launch, earning the Ohioan an estimated $400,000 dollars, according to Viper Chill

Venture capitalists and angel investors are starting to see value in the viral craze, too, and have recently invested $7 million dollars into a ViralNova website copy-cat, Distractify, according to Bloomberg. Here’s a preview of their website:

So, just how are these sites able to maintain traffic success? It’s simple. They’re paying to play. That means that they are shelling out big bucks in Facebook advertisement to drive traffic to their sites. Before 2013, it was simple to share content with users.  However, Facebook recognized a marketing and economic opportunity and changed its algorithm to cater to the companies that provided quality content and companies that were willing to pay them to keep their content visible to all viewers.

So, what are some must-have key components for web entrepreneurs considering a viral media website?

Don’t focus too much attention on web design

The web design for this type of website should be very simple. Pictures, video and endless content will keep visitor’s attention once they arrive at your website, not the design. Extra distraction are not desired nor recommended.

Headlines are everything

Have you ever been scrolling on Facebook and your eye caught an article headline that was too irresistible to not click? Then congratulations, you have just discovered the main ingredient to making viral sites successful: a compelling, eye-catching headline that moves you to response. Consider that if a headline doesn’t grab your attention, then its very likely not to grab anyone’ else’s either.

Facebook is your best friend

Twitter is nice, but most of your traffic will come from Facebook, so this should be where most of your attention stays. Facebook has such a large audience that eats up viral content daily and the statistics prove that.

Mix up your content

While it’s fine to re-create content, original copy will add balance to your website. Remember that copy-cat viral media sites are all over the web. To differentiate your website, there has to be a draw to keep readers returning. Consider that there have been sites that have generated tons of traffic one month and then completely fell flat the next.

The viral media niche is still fairly young and there’s still billions of dollars to be made on the Internet. If interested, it is wise to act sooner rather than later.  I would also recommend a software called Bullet Viral Traffic to help get you off to a great start. The intent and purpose for these types of sites vary. Some entrepreneurs use them to spread news-like information, while others use them to re-create trending topics in social media. Again, it all depends on your niche and where you’d like to focus. it’s still fairly new and there’s still billions of dollars to be made on the Internet. -AG

So, You Are Expecting…

All businesses, including entrepreneurial efforts, go through phases of growth known as the business life cycle. The four critical stages are start-up, growth, maturity and decline. As you consider your business goals, what phase are you in? If you are just beginning a business or growing steadily in revenues, read on as management analyst Deron Mundle with consulting firm Riuberg Corp, shares what you can expect in the startup and growth phases.

© Nasir1164 | - Wordcloud Of Rbc (real Business Cycle) Photo

© Nasir1164 | – Wordcloud Of Real Business Cycle)

So, You Are Expecting…

So, you are expecting to grow a business. Your concept, which some time ago was just a passing idea, is becoming an enterprise. You anticipate that it will eventually turn a profit and provide employment for many within the community.

The research has been done and friends, family and colleagues are showing a real interest in what you have to offer. The mentor from SCORE has asked many tough questions and now you are both satisfied that the concept really has a chance to succeed. You have taken the giant step to formalize a business and have received all of your licenses and permits. Congratulations, you have a new venture on your hands.

What then should you expect at this phase of your endeavor, a period that the online magazine, Chron, calls the start-up stage?

Navigating the Start-Up Phase

You will devote long hours to the new entity in hopes of making it viable in the market. It will be essential to conserve the cash coming in and going out of your business while still buying supplies, paying for help and finding customers. Even if you do not make enough sales to cover the expenses, it will be necessary to put more money in the business. Yes, more capital investment though you may not able to take a salary. In the unfortunate event that money runs out and more financing is not available, the business will have to be shuttered.

During the start-up phase with its attendant psychological pressures, the new entrepreneur may find solace by networking with owners of other fledgling enterprises and seasoned business operators. By sharing experiences, you may benefit from the knowhow and expertise that others have. Who knows, they might even give you some referrals.

In a Forbes article, it is reported that eight out of ten businesses fail within 18 months of being started. Yes, that’s correct, 80%. However, your business has found a niche in the market and things are looking good right now.

What then should you look for within what is called the growth stage after successfully navigating the start-up phase?

Building During the Growth Stage

© Johnkwan | - Growth In Business Photo

© Johnkwan | – Growth In Business Photo

Even with an increasing customer base and higher revenues, you will still need to pay very close attention to your cash flow as cash is the lifeblood of any business. You should also expect to make investments in creating new sales channels such as websites or e-commerce, establish your products and services in new markets, and promote the business with a view to gaining and retaining new customers. It may also be necessary to seek financing and the utilization of accounting and productivity software, to provide greater insights into the operations of the enterprise, is another necessity for any enterprise.

Every business owner starts off with great expectations for his or her enterprise. However, by knowing what to expect at the various stages of the entity’s life cycle, you can better deal with the complexities of owning and running a small business.


The Power of the Pitch

Image from Black Enterprise Magazine

Image from Black Enterprise Magazine

The elevator pitch remains relevant. If you are aren’t familiar with it, the elevator pitch is a 30 to 60-second summary of your business, product or message. The premise being that you should be able to describe value to someone in less time than an elevator ride. If they are interested, the conversation may extend beyond that elevator ride. Meaning, the elevator pitch needs to be tight and on point to hit the key elements of your message.

The elevator pitch is also helpful in summarizing your business goals and objectives. In the fast-paced, changing world of social media, a lot of information moves along a continuum, and people need to quickly know the value of the information and what’s in it for them. An elevator pitch is especially useful for meeting people at networking events and business conferences, and is most effective when prepared and practiced in advance.

And while you’re practicing, here’s a great opportunity. For the past 20 years, Black Enterprise Magazine has been sponsoring its annual Entrepreneur’s Summit and one of the highlights is the elevator pitch competition in which $10,000 is awarded to the winning pitch to help build and grow a winning business idea, along with mentorship. The pitch competition is now accepting two to three minute entries through Friday, April 17. Finalists will be invited to participate in a live pitch during the May 2015 Entrepreneur’s Summit in Atlanta, Georgia. For more details, visit here.

Staff at Own Your Idea, LLC have had an opportunity to attend one of Black Enterprise’s Entrepreneur Summit and previewed the pitch competition and can say it is a fun, engaging and educational event.  If your business needs that edge and ready to go to another level, consider entering the pitch competition, if nothing else but for the experience to perfect your elevator pitch.

A SWOT Analysis? But I’m Not Writing a Business Plan…


© Brodehl43 | - SSWOT Analysis Photo

© Brodehl43 | – SSWOT Analysis Photo

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you may feel you don’t have the time to do all the things you can to grow your business.  But one thing that all businesses should do, no matter the size or amount of sales, is to have some form of strategic plan.  This does not have to be an elaborate process, but understand that what you write down (instead of keeping in your head) helps to guide decisions and align business goals.  Here, freelance writer and management analyst, Deron Mundle, associated with consulting firm Riuberg Corp., describes and shares the value of a SWOT Analysis…

Your business is doing well. Revenues are strong, monthly profits are on target and your employees are great at satisfying the clients’ needs. In essence you are in a sweet spot. So, why is a SWOT analysis something to add to an ever growing to-do list? Wasn’t that something created for the business plan when the company needed that loan years ago?

Defining SWOT

Let’s examine the SWOT analysis and its relevance to a business owner.  SWOT is an acronym for the terms Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats and is a business development process that can provide a big picture perspective of the overall health and viability of an organization.

When conducting a SWOT analysis, the strengths and weaknesses are usually examined together while the opportunities and threats are paired for analysis.  When the business’ strengths and weaknesses are scrutinized, the focus is on the internal environment of the enterprise, an area that is basically within the purview of the business owner. Factors such as pricing, products, promotions, communication, people, operational processes, etc. are examined and the entrepreneur can make changes to these areas as necessary based on the company’s mission and outlook.

On the other hand, the opportunities and threats that face a business exist within the external environment. In this realm, the business owner has little, if any, control. Some of these factors include political agendas, new regulations and legislation, technological changes, emerging or growing competition, social and cultural shifts, natural disasters and national security challenges, to name a few. While these forces are all external to the business, they can have a significant impact on the operations and viability of the entity.

Companies like Atlanta based Coca-Cola, a multinational beverage company, uses the SWOT analysis to gain insights on how to better position itself against its rivals, such as PepsiCo. But there is value in performing a SWOT for small businesses, too. Dana Griffin describes the SWOT analysis in Chron as a practical tool that an entrepreneur should use to decide if an idea is worth further development.

How to Use SWOT Data

So you decided to perform a SWOT, so now what to do with the data? When the results of the SWOT analysis or SWOT matrix are examined, an action plan should be devised to maintain the strengths identified within the internal environment and reduce the perceived weaknesses. Additionally, the plan should document areas in which the entity may grow and also highlight the significant vulnerabilities.

Engaging in the SWOT analysis process is a useful management planning activity that should be conducted every six months or even once a year. It will be time well spent in the development of your small business or entrepreneurial goals.

Expanding Your Entrepreneurial Expertise With An eBook

Something that is growing in popularity for anyone with any type of expertise is the creation of an eBook, the digital equivalent of a printed book. Even 2016 political hopefuls are turning to this publishing format to engage their constituencies and share stories as they gear up for the campaign trails, according to Politico.  This should not be surprising with the growth of technology and development of digital applications for the increased consumer use of mobile devices.

Image found on Pinterest
Image found on Pinterest


Why An eBook?

A business eBook is generally a success guide or how to information written in an easy-to-digest, short format that is read on a computer, e-reader, tablet or even a mobile phone with an e-reader app. E-books are also a very popular lead generation tool for internet marketers who offer eBooks as free download products from their websites.

What makes eBooks so cool is that a) anyone can write one if they have expertise, something of interest to share, or unique idea or concept, and b) with the fast growth rate of self-publishing,  it is simple and cost effective to produce and distribute digitally. Bowkers, a publishing management company and the official ISBN agency in the United States, reported that self-published titles have increased 59% over the past two to three years and credit this growth to the ease of convenience of self-publishing, which can be found with sites such as CreateSpace, Smashwords and Lulu.

The benefit of having an eBook for an entrepreneur is increased visibility, exposure as an expert, and gaining a new title as published author.  Also common with some entrepreneurs is to write a series of eBooks and offer them as a package for a small cost, such as the eBook package on wisdom and insights offered by popular website, Tiny Buddha.

An Easy Process to Begin

An easy way to write an eBook is to use your blog format to serve as the foundation for a larger eBook project.  One idea is to share meaningful information with your audience and then publish most popular posts while expanding on ideas in an eBook format.  This process allows the author to write with a narrow focus and to begin capturing their initial thought process in an online format.

There is no need to fret if writing is not a strong skill, because many published books are produced by a ghostwriter, a writing professional who works with the author or expert subject matter to develop the book concept and write the content. Because self-publishing and eBooks have become so popular, hiring a writer has also become an affordable option, and with a little research and due diligence, there are many traditional (writing services, creative agencies) and non-traditional resources (Elance and Craigslist) for hiring experienced and accomplished writers that will work with all budgets and produce a great product.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????A ghostwriter can draft the entire eBook from scratch or work from an outline or written notes in consultation with the content expert. Another option is to document with a voice recorder, hire a transcriptionist through a virtual assistant service to transcribe your recording, and then an experienced writer/editor to review the written document for structure, context, grammar and spelling.  The key for a successful eBook (besides the marketing) is that the topic is interesting and the content is well-written, informative and engaging.

When Less is Effective and Smart

Lastly, an eBook can be short in nature with as little as 10,000 words. That may not sound like much but in actuality, it equates to a short story and in eBook format may be 20 pages, just enough to capture your audience’s attention and share salient information. This is more doable than it may sound and can be completed in less than 30 days.  A longer eBook project, like say a biography or novel will be more in depth with more than 50,000 words and will take longer to write and finalize, but can still be done within months.

Depending on entrepreneurial and professional goals, an eBook can be an effective marketing tool that helps to build and brand your business and expand reach and influence as an expert in your field, as well as the residual benefit of a passive income stream once the eBook is published and properly marketed.

Solving Your Business Problems Differently in 2015 With Niche Virtual and Personal Assistants

assistantOften when people think of a personal or virtual assistant, they think basic and general administrative work or tasks, like running errands, answering phones and making files. While these are necessary organizational tasks, the world of virtual and personal assistance extends beyond the basics but now includes highly skilled professional workers with intermediate to advance expertise in accounting, finance, legal, public relations, marketing, communications, health care, insurance and real estate.

Who are today’s niche personal or virtual assistants?

They are smart, resourceful, competent and educated individuals (male and female) who may have worked as assistants, specialist and managers in their field at one time. But instead of letting their skill, expertise, and knowledge go to waste, many professionals are packaging their skills and talents to offer niche services to a specific industry or task. Some people sell their skills as consultants and are able to command a higher bill rate. But niche personal and virtual assistants not only are able to consult on a problem and offer a solution, but actually perform the work seamlessly and with little to no direction. And often, while their rates are competitively higher than a basic administrative assistant, the right virtual or personal assistant far exceeds the value for their cost.

Virtual assistant specialists offer the same if not higher level of professionalism as would a regular employee but often have more incentive to prove their value and worth. One great advantage to being a niche virtual assistant is the schedule flexibility for maximizing work performance and creating solutions and results for their clients. There is no secret that many companies may have employees who are faced with downtime but who are still on the clock being paid. With a virtual assistant, the employee is paid only for the hours they work and the time they put in. They are task specific and efficient because if the work doesn’t get done, they don’t get paid, no future work or referrals.

So how can a niche virtual or personal assistant help you?

A good, savvy virtual or personal assistant should have experience in your field and familiarity working with industry type executives and managers, be self-sufficient and easily accessible (during agreed upon hours). They should be set up at home with a phone (mobile is okay), computer, laptop, printer, Microsoft Office or other appropriate software and Internet access to perform work online using, email, Dropbox or a client management dashboard. Many assistants can and will meet on site but preference is offsite to allow more flexibility, with the exception of a personal assistant who may need to travel with their employer or be on site to manage day-to-day operations.  A freelance virtual or personal assistant is also entrepreneurial-minded so they often are proactive and able to think ahead of your needs and offer solutions or ideas.  In many respects, the assistant is your strategic ally in helping you to be successful, so identifying someone with a specific strong skill set that is compatible with your personality is key because the work relationships is about trust and respect.

So if you are struggling to get work done in your business but lack the expertise in certain areas, consider hiring a specialized personal or virtual assistant with a specific niche. This type of service is often very helpful for the entrepreneur and small business owner who needs to offload tasks they don’t have the time or knowledge to complete, allowing them more time to focus on their core business. But even small to mid-sized corporations now are considering how a niche virtual and personal assistant can fulfill critical work needs, solving problems, and adding value.

Finding a Niche Virtual or Personal Assistant

Because this market has grown over the past 10 years, a quick Internet search will help you to identify personal assistant services.  You an also try sites like Elance, Odesk, Fiverr, or post classified ads on Craigslist or Ebay Classifieds if you want to find someone yourself. Or register with an employment agency, who will have already performed a screening and background check. I believe, however, the best way is from word of mouth.  There are talented people available looking for great opportunities.  Let your trusted colleagues know that you are looking and what skills you need.  Everyone knows someone and you’d be surprised at how a referral can be a business or project lifesaver.

N. Ann Hall is the managing director of Own Your Idea, LLC, and a freelance writer and blogger at Diva Nina Writes and business blog, Own Your Idea. She also works as a virtual lifestyle manager/personal assistant with a niche specialty in providing writing, editorial, proofreading, typing, and transcription services to serious-minded authors, entrepreneurs, business executives and VIPs who are using social media marketing tools to build and grow their reputations and brands. She can best be reached at or 678.310.6573.

Social Media 2015: Don’t get left behind!!!

© Gfadel | Dreamstime Stock Photos

© Gfadel | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Want to see how quickly web technology and Internet use is growing? Check out real-time statistics at This is really cool. With just a quick glance at the site, you will see that it is easy to get left behind digitally with just a blink of an eye. I was searching for statistics for a blog story and realized that as soon as I quoted a stat, the information would be different by the time it was read.

As a small business owner, if you are still contemplating your approach to using social media, this site may offer you a depth of perspective to encourage you to become engaged sooner rather than later. Regardless of what direction you decide, ensure that you have a strategy and plan in place to guide you for the most effective results.

If you are a DIYer, I have a one page guide to help you develop a strategy that works for you. Email me at to receive your pdf copy. As I mentioned in another blog post about social media overdrive, your main objective should be to just get started. No need to make it a production for yourself or your business, just pick one and manage it on your schedule. With consistent use, you will begin to see incremental results and be encouraged to go to another level in social media marketing.

Overwhelmed with Social Media? Just Pick One

ID 22108552 © Leigh Prather |

© Silverv | – Social Network Tag Cloud Photo

If you are an entrepreneur or small business owner, you understand the importance of marketing your business on social media, you just don’t have the time because it’s all so overwhelming and you don’t know where to begin.

But the solution is not to dismiss social media but rather to develop a simple strategy that gets you in the game and plays to your strength. You don’t have to be all over social media, just pick one to get started to enhance your business goals or play to your most pressing need. And don’t worry, you will quickly begin to grasp social media lingo as you become more comfortable navigating your platform of choice.

So, if…

Don’t have a lot of time to spend on social media, try Twitter.

You are a visual person who likes pictures and videos, use Instagram and YouTube.

Are already established on Facebook, create and link to a business page.

You are looking for creative inspiration and ideas, Pinterest is your platform.

Are considered an expert or thought leader with a professional message to share, promote yourself on LinkedIn.

The social media platform that I really enjoy using is Twitter. Why? Besides being very dynamic and a fluid method of communication, it is very easy to set up, navigate and build and growing connections.

In 140 characters or less, you can share insight, expertise, information while connecting and developing relationships. Yes, it initially takes time to grow a following if this is your first introduction to social media, but if you never start, then it will never grow, so why not now.

Twitter will guide you in picking your initial contacts to get you started but from there, your strategy should include if you want to follow a particular industry, people, friends, etc. A good start as a businessperson is to follow thought leaders in your field, people you admire, and competitors.

Once you’ve established a base of people – and contrary to popular belief it doesn’t have to be a lot to start – begin engaging by either retweeting a message or sharing information. But here’s the thing, you don’t have to constantly do it or be on it. How about while you’re sitting and waiting for a doctor’s appointment or standing in a long line at the DMV. Use this downtime to connect and engage with the person you met at a conference or business meeting. How about the intriguing speaker from the business meeting. Find the person, follow them and send them a quick note that you enjoyed their presentation. Then see who they follow or follows them, and you in turn can follow, too. Personally, I enjoy getting on Twitter as I wind down for the evening and seeing what’s going on and finding people to follow. It still amazes me that I’ll wake up in the morning and have new followers that I accumulated while I slept from all over the world.

As you engage more with thoughtful, creative and information content or responses, people will begin to follow you and share your message, and in turn you will begin to follow more people. Yes, it will take longer to grow your contacts, but you are no longer running from social media, you are embracing the power of it. And once you are comfortable using Twitter, you can automate messages or outsource to a social media specialist to set up and manage, providing weekly or monthly reports on your growth.

So, what is your one favorite social media platform?


Landing Pages Made Simple for Busy Solo- and Entrepreneurs

So you keep hearing about landing pages but don’t how to effectively use it for your business.  Well, a landing page is a web tool that can help you attract leads, sell a product, or make an announcement.  It is a single page website, basically, that gets your message or kick off labsproduct out to your target audience. The primary goal is conversion and creating sales.  We all know that people are pressed for time and will not spend a lot of time on websites unless something really captures their attention.  With a landing page, the focus is narrow and speaks to meeting the customer’s most pressing need while providing a solution.  A customer can relate specifically to this type of messaging, which makes landing pages indispensable. There are many products out there, but I have been using Kick Off Labs for the past few months and have been pleased with the simplicity and ease of use.  Here are is one that I’ve recently created in less than a few hours, if that, and will be using in my latest marketing efforts:

One thing that is very effective about this landing page is it prevents me from having to create an entire website to launch my services. As well, Kick Off Labs just recently launched a new version of its product that allows for even more ease and functionality.

Landing pages by Kick Off Labs is a cost-effective solution that can be done as a “do-it-yourself” project because custom, mobile-friendly templates are available with automatic email response that allows for digital downloads.  Or you can hire a social media specialist to create and manage the landing page for you.  Regardless of which approach you take, just know that it is super easy for anyone to use.  Try it complimentary for the first month and see how it works.  You will view your marketing efforts differently.

Whether you have a contest, a soft product launch, or just looking to increase customers and sales, a landing page can serve as a powerful, yet inexpensive marketing tool for your business that net positive results.