Are You A Creative Entrepreneur?

Creative Entrepreneurs are open to new ideas, new thoughts, and new ways to grow their business.  Welcome to our blog and we hope you find it interesting and worthwhile. Please join in and contribute to the discussions.  There are two ways to participate:

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So you’ve decided to tweet on Twitter!

So you’ve heard that Twittering is the way to grow your business and you’ve decided to give it a try.  But you don’t know how to use it effectively.  Here are some tips to get you started:

Start with a Plan

Twitter can be very time consuming if you are not careful.  There are folks on there tweeting away about what they had for dinner, what their precocious kid just did, and even where they went that day.  Who cares?

Have a purpose before you log into twitter.  Obviously, you don’t want to just promote your products with every tweet or people will consider you a spammer.   So you need to have a plan before you log in.  Let’s say you want to promote a new gift basket that you just added to your website.  If you are following someone whose tweets you value, take a few moments to respond to some of those tweets.  Perhaps do a search using Twitter’s search function about something you are interested in or your particular market and answer some of those questions or respond to a few comments.  Then post something about the product you want to promote.  And leave. 

Go Slowly

The more followers you have, the wider your reach.  But you can’t go too fast.  Don’t start by promoting your products or your website.  Also, don’t try to obtain a huge following without doing some tweeting yourself first.  This is a case of “if you build it, they will come”.  As you post more and more tweets that are of interest to others, they will start following you without your having to do anything.  I guess you could say that you need to tweet, tweet, tweet before gathering your flock of tweeters.

Don’t know what to say in your tweets?  Talk about someone else’s tweet that you found interesting .  Reply to what someone else has said.  Share what you are doing in your business now.  Offer a suggestion as to something that has worked for you or helped you grow your business.

Don’t just tweet one promotion after another

When others look at your tweets and your timeline, they’ll see that you’re tweeting just to get business.  People want to know what is in it for them.  If you’re just talkiing about yourself and what they can buy from you, why should they follow you?

Engage in Conversations

Most of the tweets are updates to the entire group of people who are following you.  But you can find individual Twitter users by using the @ symbol followed by their username.  This way you can tweet a post directed to an individual.  This makes others realize that you are a real participating tweeter and not just some piece of software that automatically makes posts for you.

It also helps build realtionships with others — and, as we all know, building relationships is what growing your business is all about.  So give words of encouragement, respond to a blog post that impressed you, and answer questions.  And if someone responds to one of your tweets, it’s common courtesy to answer back.

Post Often

 If you’ve made the decision to try twitter, don’t be shy.  Jump right in.  Start making those posts that will increase your followers.  And, once you’ve started, be prepared to post regularly.  Remember this is a social networking tool.  And just like attending those networking functions in your hometown, you have to be visible.  You can’t be a wallflower and expect them to work for you.

And if you want to follow me on twitter, my twitter username is creativegifts.

The Secret to Being Listed on Page 1 of Google

Looking for an easy, fast way to be listed on the first page of Google? Here’s the secret!

The answer is Google Local Business Listings.  If you have a storefront, a homebased business, or even an internet business that has people searching for gift baskets to be delivered in your town, you’re missing a big opportunity if you’re not listed in Google Local.

Not only is your listing shown on the first page of Google but it is usually shown before the organic listings that you’ve worked so hard to get.  For example, if someone searches for gift baskets + Flagstaff, AZ, my website is listed as #1 on page one.  But above that are the “paid ads” (which most savvy web shoppers people don’t bother to click on because they are ads) followed by a list of local businesses that Google finds most revelant.

In many ways, these listings are even better than regular listings because users get more than just a link to your website. They also get your phone number, a map of your location and an additional link to find out more about your business.  You can even include photos of your gift baskets (although they are hard to size properly) and videos. 

To get your business listed, simply go to www.google.com/local/add and get started.  Most of the other search engines including the new one “Bing” has local listings as well.

Is Your PDF File Optimized for the Search Engines?

A very effective way of producing an online catalog that your customers can print out is to add it to your website as a pdf file.  Search engines read and catalog a pdf file just like they do web pages.   I discussed an easy and free way to create a pdf file in a previous post.  But once you have created it, do you know how to optimize it so that the search engines can find it?

If not, here are some tips:

  • Don’t scan your document as an image file and then save it as a PDF.  When you do this the PDF is an image and there is no text for the search engines to read.
  • Save it as a text file
  • Optimize the text in the PDF just as if you were optimizing a web page, including important keywords and phrase in the title, tags, and within the body of the text.
  • Include keywords in the title of your file.  Different programs have different ways that you can modify a document’s title.  If you are using Acrobat,you can usually modify the Document’s title by choosing “File” in the toolbar, then choosing “Properties”, and modify’s the “Title” on the Description Tab.
  • Use the title of the PDF file as your link from wherever you are linking to it within your website.
  • Put the most important text near the beginning of your PDF
  • Include an “active” link to your website url within the PDF file
  • To create the smallest possible PDFs for the Web minimize the number of fonts and bitmapped images.  If you have the capability, use vector images.
  • Use common fonts.  Every font you add can increase the file size by up to 40 KB

There’s Just Not Enough Time! Is this you?

“There’s just not enough time!”  is a statement that we hear daily.  As we take on more and more activities and work longer hours to grow our business, we feel frustrated and overwhelmed.  Most of the time, it comes down to making choices between doing several things.

Do we always make the right choices?  No.  We tend to follow the path of least resistence.  That’s human nature.   But here are some tips to help push us more towards making the choices that can truly make a difference in our lives and business.

  • Develop Routines.  By creating a daily routine, we develop habits.  They can be good or bad depending on the routine that we choose to put into place.  But a routine makes us do things consistently and, as a result, we become faster and faster at whatever we are doing.
  • Look at the Big Picture.  We can avoid a lot of frustration by asking ourselves, “In the long run, does this really matter?  Will it make any difference a week from now?  Thirty days from now? Ten years from now?”  If you can’t answer yes to at least the first two questions, don’t waste your time doing it.  The answer to these questions can frequently make the difference between choosing time for family and taking care of yourself and business chores.
  • Make a Schedule.  Instead of making choices and scheduling what is truly important in our day, we tend to follow the “whatever is thrown at us” mode.  It’s true that emergencies happen, orders come in that have to get out, and “today may be the only time to get out and smell the flowers.”  But instead of living in a daily reaction mode, schedule the things that are truly important and then work around that schedule.
  •  Trade the word “On” for “In” Some of the Time.  Most of us work “in” our business every day doing things needed to maintain and grow our business. We read emails, answer the phone, network, fill orders, etc. But plan to take time out of your week to work “on” your business.  Review your business and marketing plan. Look at your profit and loss statements.  How is your cash flow? Check out your inventory.  Determine what you need to do to grow your business.  Decide what is working and what is not.  By taking a big long step back and reviewing your business from a different level than the day to day operation,  you will see it in a different perspective.  Take the time to decide where you want to go from here, what you want the coming year to be like, and what you have to do to get there.  The result will be a more successful and satisfying business.