Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Businesses & Facebook Professionalism

This is your public image
I have noticed a growing trend in my Facebook newsfeed. The statuses from business pages are increasingly irrelevant to the product or business and even worse, they're ranting and angry. I promptly "unlike" these pages if it's a trend, but I find myself wanting to point out their unprofessional faux pas just on the off chance that they really are unaware of how they're coming off to potential customers. Then, I started to wonder why this is such a widespread issue?

When I 'like" a business Facebook page, I'm "liking" it to read about your products or services, about your business and if it's a boutique business, I definitely want to hear some about you as the person behind the business. I want to feel like I "know" you so I feel like I"m shopping in my neighborhood boutique when I browse your wares online. I don't, however, want to know about what your daughter ate for breakfast, who ticked you off this week or how the product you just bought from Wal-mart failed you again and if you have to return it one more time, you"ll _______.. If you wouldn't tell me this upon first seeing me in your boutique as a customer, don't post it on Facebook - or do, but on your personal page. By using your Facebook business page as your sounding board or your coffee circle, you're alienating your potential customers and detracting from your business.

If you're a small town organization, I want to "know" the people behind the organization, I want to feel like you're part of my community, I want to care about your organization's purpose. Posting angry rant after angry rant over the very people you're there to serve or benefit will only alienate your entire market and tarnish your brand and purpose. You could lose important community partnerships, potential customers or vendors and lose your reputation in your field. Please take a good look at your timeline and ask yourself "Is this my brand and purpose? Is this how I would describe my organization to someone new?"

This is your business
For my boutique page, I want my audience to know that I"m a real person, with a real passion, with a real family. I handcraft my items and they are a reflection of my styles and skills. I name my items after the customers and friends who inspire them and I love that level of relationship with my customers. I am my boutique, but I am still a professional and I operate just the same way I would in a brick and mortar neighborhood boutique.

So, please, absolutely gear your posts toward personalization for your customers, get to know your customers, get to know what we care about, but imagine your audience of one standing right in front of you in your store or office and ask yourself "Would I say this to a first time customer or someone I just met?" If the answer is "no" or "maybe not," then rethink your words before clicking "post." Your audience will thank you for it and you and your business will prosper for it.

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved.

Monday, August 26, 2013

CIFCA Wisconsin - Community Initiative for Fox Cities Artisans

I have some very exciting news! I have co-founded a nonprofit. CIFCA, the Community Initiative for Fox Cities Artisans is an organization establishing, promoting and sustaining the value of handcrafting Artisans in the Fox Cities region of NE Wisconsin.

My co-founder, Carol Toepke, and I have decided to create and fuel this organization to bring a cohesive Artisan community to the Fox Cities area. We are currently seeking official nonprofit status as a 501(c)(6) organization and we currently in the process of drafting our charter and by-laws as well as acquiring board members.

We have big plans for CIFCA in the coming year and even more beyond that!

If you are an Artisan in the Fox Cities area of Northeast Wisconsin feel free to join us and help shape the organization for your community!

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CIFCAwisconsin

Website: http://www.cifcawisconsin.org

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cifcawisconsin

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

OPERATION: Create Your Own Path Part 2

30 days, 30 small businesses
30 ways to create your own path!
Welcome to Day 21 of OPERATION: Create Your Own Path, a 30 day event featuring 30 military spouse businesses across the globe. Our spouses serve our country while we take the opportunity to ignite and foster our entrepreneurial spirit! If you're just joining the operation, check out OPERATION: Create Your Own Path Part 1 or My Interview by Sandra Sawyer, Esq as well as the the 18 other businesses and spouses featured so far on Red, White & Blue Pages or Military Spouse Business Association.

For today's post, I interviewed Leti Riggle of Sport Diva Bands. Leti is a veteran spouse, whose husband has served 23 years in the United States Air Force; she has been part of that Air Force journey for the last 20 years. Sports Band Diva sells various colors and styles of hair bands for use while exercising. Leti started her business while stationed in Scott AFB, IL after finding that the products available on the market were overpriced and lacked the quality she can deliver.
"...I knew I didn’t want to buy [the products currently on the market] since all the ones I’d bought before would fall out. I felt like I’d be throwing my money away. So, I decided to research and put my sewing skills to practice to create a band that: 1. would stay put, 2. was versatile with different outfits or activities, 3. would not break my hair, and 4. wasn’t as pricey."
For Leti, starting a business has been very easy. She works full time and is able to grow her business in her spare time, spending about 5 hours a week on it. She was able to research other products and her supplies online and has focused on making one product. She uses StoreEnvy.com as her storefront which is an online marketplace featuring one-of-a-kind business and allows buyers to purchase directly from the crafters using Paypal.

Every business needs support to find success. Leti has found a lot of support for military spouse business from the military community itself and the civilian community who love to support the endeavors of military spouses. Most of all, she draws her inspiration from her daughters, "being able to show them when you gain skills, you can make a hobby grow into a small business" is a huge perk for her.

Gaining the skills and knowledge along the way has been instrumental to Leti's start up efforts. She has made use of the internet and social networking as well as formal education. She is pursuing a degree in Information Systems Technology and Business Administration and has found the courses offered at her university to be an invaluable resource for her business. She also urges prospective business owners to use the internet's endless knowledge to their advantage,
"I did all the research and since there is a plethora of info on the Internet, It was pretty easy to look up and find what I searched for."
Sometimes starting your business is really just that easy. Doing your research beforehand and focusing your efforts on one product for one purpose is a great way to start a business without overextending yourself and using an online marketplace further minimizes your financial risk. Leti suggests that prospective owners spend time researching their target market, inventory needs, and educate themselves on the dynamics of supply and demand systems before diving in.

You can always start small and end up big. Leti's education and resources will allow her to grow and develop her business after her husband's retirement. She plans to open a brick and mortar store and plans to hire employees for labor and sales when she's able to make that transition. She offers this advice for other spouses looking to start out:
"Have confidence and don’t believe those voices that tell you [you] can’t."
You heard her! Don't let naysayers stand as roadblocks to your success, have confidence in yourself, get out there and make it happen!

For more information about Leti or Sports Diva Bands, contact her through her website, blog or e-mail her at sportdivah[at]gmail.com.

If you'd like more fantastic advice and resources for starting your own business, check out tomorrow's blog post by Lizanne Carlson of The Blawg, Y'all!, she'll be interviewing Suzanne Patterson of Paint and Powder Cosmetics

OPERATION: Create Your Own Path is sponsored and brought to you by Military Spouse Business Association and Red, White & Blue Pages. They are great resources for any military spouse entrepreneur.

© 2013 Little Bean. All rights reserved.