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How the Traveling Entrepreneur Can Stay Organized When Out of Town
Many people are perfectly organized when they’re in their office. Emails get answered in an orderly fashion, and work gets done throughout the day. Yet, many entrepreneurs are often not in their home or virtual offices. Instead, they’re on the road trying to drum up business throughout the country.
Just trying to plan for the trip can lead to chaos, and then it’s even more difficult to get work done while out of town. Here are some tips to help traveling entrepreneurs plan and work during the trip.
Planning Your Week
When going to a conference or meeting, entrepreneurs may already have a booked scheduled. An itinerary will help keep track of session times, but these can also be used for actually scheduling some work time. Most smartphones have a calendar or reminder app. Before the flight is ever boarded, add the meeting sessions to the calendar, but then “schedule” free time for catching up on emails and getting work done. If it’s in the calendar, people are more likely to stick to their original plan.
If traveling out of the country, entrepreneurs should learn the local methods for travel, and if necessary, the bus and train schedules. Also, have some local currency on hand in case cash is required, and have smaller bills if you decide to split meals or cab rides with someone. Alert banks when traveling to avoid your bank cutting off your card due to suspicious spending activity.
While many people tend to wait to pack until the night before their trip, an entrepreneur on a business trip needs to verify that he has everything to make the trip successful. This should include laptop, business cards, contacts list, reports, presentations, business suits, USB drives, sunglasses, first-aid kit, etc., along with all personal items. For meetings, business suits or nice dresses will be required. Also, if attending a conference, trade show or meeting, check to see if there are special events that will require some extreme dress-up or casual clothing. Even if traveling to a warm client, bring a jacket or sweater and some long pants just in case it gets cold.
Create a list of everything that is needed for the trip ahead of time, and then begin packing a couple of days in advance. As items are packed, check them off the list. Verify that the luggage isn’t too heavy to avoid additional luggage fees.
How to Stay Organized While Gone
Besides keeping up with work and session schedules, down- and sleep time should also be scheduled. When traveling to a different time zone, try going to bed at an earlier or later time a week or two before – if possible. Then, add down/sleep time to the smartphone calendar, and stick with it. People get less done when they’re sleepy. Sleep is necessary to stay on track throughout the day.
During work time, shut off any external distractions. If necessary, head to the hotel room away from others, and turn the phone to silent unless it’s needed for work activities.
When traveling out of the country, make work calls using a system like Skype or Google Hangouts. These free or cheap alternatives will ensure that an entrepreneur is connected with the office without paying astronomical roaming or international phone fees.
If possible, delegate some work to others. Not everyone has an assistant or coworker, especially entrepreneurs. Utilize a Virtual Assistant while out of town to answer phone calls and take messages. This assistant can also answer general business questions and only forward important or emergency messages.
Get some work done on the plane. Certain airlines have WiFi, which can be used to catch up on emails and work while traveling to the destination. Store documents in a cloud drive like Google Docs or Dropbox. One advantage to a Google Docs type of system is that entrepreneurs will always have the latest iteration of a document even if someone else has made changes.
Finally, don’t be afraid to let things drop for a day or two, and then schedule a “make-up” day to catch up on emails and other work. Not everything can be done when traveling so instead schedule a day or two when travel is done to take care of everything else.
How do you stay organized when out of town? Do you have any additional rituals or tips for planning and keeping on track?
So, you’re ready to begin using social media for your small business. Here’s a simple guide to getting started.
There’s tons of information online about using social media to boost your small business. You can certainly get very in-depth with social media marketing, but if you’re just starting out, give these 5 simple steps a try.
Social media isn’t dead, and small businesses still need it
More than 60% of businesses say that they haven’t seen a return on investment for their social media efforts, but there’s a reason for that: social media is all about patience. You can’t just set up an account and watch the sales roll in, because social media success for small businesses is far more nuanced than that.
So how does a small business owner win on social media? It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
What can social media do for my small business?
Social media is all about making connections with your customers. Now more than ever, customers want to do business with companies that feel human. They love personality, especially the growing Millennial demographic.
Social media is the most effective way to give your company a voice and a personality, and customers are increasingly turning to social media when they want to praise or slam a company. A company that responds to this positive and negative feedback can earn a spot in the customer’s heart (and wallet.) And the best part? It can eventually tap into the rest of that customer’s social network, hopefully gaining more devotees in the process.
Social media is not a place to generate leads, at least not in the beginning. Building a relationship based on trust and loyalty takes time, and that’s what the social media game is all about. In the end, the time spent is typically worth it.
I don’t want to mess this up... what are some common mistakes small businesses make with social media?
Many businesses try to dive into social media by creating accounts on every platform that’s available. Let’s clear something up right now: there’s no golden rule that says a business has to be active on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, YouTube, and that new social media platform that will inevitably be created next month.
There’s only one real caveat to this: you should have a Facebook page, sinc e71% of all adults are on Facebook.
Trying to excel on every social media platform is the quickest way to screw up your social media marketing
Take a moment to think about your target audience. Who is your perfect customer, what are their demographics? This is the most straightforward way to determine your social media plan.
In September 2013, Pew released a comprehensive study detailing who uses what social media networks.
Do you want to reach men? You can find them on LinkedIn (24%) and Twitter (17%.) For women, find them on Pinterest (33%) and Instagram (20%.)
Targeting 50-64 year olds? The social media platform they’re primarily hanging out at is LinkedIn (24%.)
Give Pew’s report a read, and try to figure out where your customers are spending their time online. It’s better to ignore the platforms that your customers aren’t using, because then you can be a social media rock star on the sites that matter.
If you aren’t sure how to get started on social media, stay tuned. In Part 2 of our Social Media for Small Businesses series, you’ll get the lowdown on how to get started, and don’t worry- it’s not tricky.
The Best Tools and Methods for Improving Your Local SEO Presence
Small businesses often find it nearly impossible to rank on the first page of a Google search for competitive keywords. Most of the highly-searched terms are being used by their much larger competitors.
A smaller business, however, can rank high in local searches by using local SEO tactics. According to SE Talks, nearly “30% of the total searches in Google per month are localized searches”. This means that this 30% isn’t looking for the “top mechanics in the nation”. Instead, they want the “top mechanics in the New Orleans area”. A local business probably may not rank nationally, but it can take advantage of this large search pool that wants to find a business closer to home. Local SEO helps level the playing field, allowing local businesses to rank on the first page SERPs in their service areas.
Why Use Local SEO
Yet, small businesses need to rank near the top of the SERPs since sites on the first page of results get over 90% of total search traffic. Also, people want to research businesses before they buy anything, but they tend to buy within 10 to 20 miles of their current location.
Taking advantage of readily available localized search sites puts a business ahead of competitors that are not aggressively utilizing these channels. Also, when a business claims their local SEO listing, it will show up on Google maps, local business directories and even on mobile devices. The Google Hummingbird algorithm update more closely entwined mobile and local search to provide better, faster results to mobile device users. Taking advantage of mobile is very important since it accounts for nearly 30% of total web traffic, a huge audience of potential customers. Plus, over 80% of people who use their mobile devices to look for businesses “tend to make call or visit the location within 24 hours so the conversion rate of the local searches is very high”.
Going local can increase conversions and build brand awareness since businesses will show up in local searches more often. For a little amount of work, this increase in visibility will result in a high return on investment.
Methods for Building A Local Presence
Use this checklist to ensure that your business is fully take advantage of local search: