The 3 Key Ingredients for Success

NOTE: The following article was published on the personal site of Alexander H. Johnstone, Founder & CEO of The World Advisory Company.
I had the pleasure yesterday, August 9, to speak at the B2Biz Networking Expo in Annandale, Virginia. The event was organized by Lucy Brown of Red Copper Events, who is a client and business partner of mine. She did a fantastic job and really brought together an incredible crowd.

My firm, The World Advisory Company, was fortunate enough to participate as a sponsor and had an exhibitor table on display. Throughout the duration of the event, I met dozens of friendly people. Many of which were small business owners, which is the community that my company aims to help and bring together. It was great getting to hear about their projects and coordinating how we can potentially work together in the future.

One of the highlights of the day was my speaking opportunity. As Lucy was planning the event, she generously reached out to me and offered me the chance to speak. Having just hosted the Small Business Expo of Washington, D.C., I am familiar to this community and it was a perfect match.

I decided beforehand that I did not want to be too scripted as I spoke. I wanted to speak from the heart and actually believe in what I was sharing with the small business community. As I met people at the event, I realized that there were many employed professionals in addition to the business owners so I tweaked the target audience in my efforts a bit.

My goal was to share some of the lessons that I have learned throughout my time starting a successful company and helping dozens of other companies become successful. I started with an introduction of myself and my company and then I went on to enlighten the crowd on The 3 Key Ingredients for Success. I went through it in my head a few times before, but mostly created this concept on the spot speaking from my true experiences. So in a basic summary, here they are.

The 3 Key Ingredients for Success

1) Vision

In order to really accomplish anything, you have to be able to see it happening. In order to become successful, you have to see yourself successful. As far as your life, you must paint a picture of what success means to you, whether it’s on a global scale or in your local community. The more clear this picture becomes, the more it turns into tangible and achievable goals. Once they turn into goals, you now have a road map as to how to attain success. In the end, there is nobody to blame, but yourself for achieving those goals and it’s up to you to make it happen.

2) Determination

Once you have set goals and know what you’re working to accomplish, you have to do whatever it takes to make it happen. This means working harder than you ever imagined you could. You have to work as hard as you possibly can and then work ten times harder. There are no shortcuts to success and you will most certainly have to put in the time. You will find that as you work hard, it becomes very rewarding, not only in your professional aspirations, but it carries into your personal life as well. Your relationships with friends and family will improve and your overall health will improve as well. Be careful not to overwork and get burnt out though. There is a balance and you must maintain it to stay efficient.

3) Perseverance

Along your journey to success, you will need more than a clear vision and working hard. You will, without a doubt, be knocked down and discouraged. It is only natural that there are negative influences in life, unfavorable circumstances and challenging obstacles. They will get in your way and you will be tempted to give in. Every successful person is full of stories of failure. The only true way to learn is from failure and picking yourself back up. However, sometimes it’s not wise to continue a specific path if it does not have real potential. In this scenario, this doesn’t mean you have to completely start over from scratch, but rather tweak your approach. There is a saying, “Just because you have a rat problem does not mean you have to burn down the whole house.” Learn from your failures and never give up on your life long journey to success.

So that was basically what I had to share with the people of this event. It was well received and I hope that they really listened and took it to heart. I believe that with these three simple concepts, one can achieve anything in life.

This definitely has worked for me and helped me get to where I am now. I will continue to use these guidelines along my journey and will be expanding upon them as time progresses. That is all for now. I hope you enjoyed this!

For more articles and to learn more about the author, you can visit the personal site of Alexander H. Johnstone

How to Turn Your Business from ‘Down and Out’ to ‘Up and Coming’

CJ LaMora, Owner of start-up contracting company CJ Builds LLC., set out on his business venture when he was backed into a corner by the recession.  In 2009, he lost his job as an intern at an architectural firm that had been hit hard by the recession.  After he was laid off, his previous employer was gracious enough to be able to provide a few small jobs for C.J., but soon these jobs would dry up too.  C.J. opens up, “At this point I was tired and beaten, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do or how I was going to support myself.”
C.J. did what he was supposed to do to be successful in life.  He earned his degree in architecture, moved on to an internship and was taking the straight and narrow path towards success.  The well lit path that he was taking up the mountain of success suddenly disappeared in the economic recession and he was forced to find another way to the top.  While he was in his vocational valley, CJ started to blaze his own trail towards success by deciding to start his own business venture.   
Once I got passed this desperation and/or depression, I realized that I had the courage and the fortitude to achieve success via other avenues.” 
CJ had the skills to be successful in the contracting world.  He had experience as an architect and had the vision to start his own firm.  The opportunity to start was brought on by a low point, but it could be a chance for him to climb a higher mountain.
Although the contracting company is still in its infancy, CJ is experiencing early success and has an opportunity to follow his own path with his Business.  He has set up his company website, CJ-Builds.com, along with a Facebook page and a Twitter account (@CJbuildsllc).  He explains his expectations in regards to a Social Media presence, it is important for my “friends and family to know what I am doing, and for them to tell their friends and family about me when someone they know says ‘Hey, I am thinking about re-doing my bathroom.’”
Facebook is a great opportunity to do just that.  It has become a way to network through friends and family referrals and to gain the image of being ‘a good neighbor’.  Social Media Guru, Gail Martin says, “being a good neighbor is essential to creating a successful business”.  People trust other people that are in their community circles.  If your company is trusted by a member of a community, then there is a good chance that you will be doing more work in that circle of people. 
Facebook is an opportunity to be active within several communities of people.  It is important that you realize that it’s more of a networking and referral tool than a selling tool.  You should be fueling your network growth each time you work with a client.  Ask them to write on your wall about the job you did, perhaps you can offer them a $10 Starbucks card to do so.  Give them a free upgrade if they refer your business to a friend on Facebook or take them to lunch if they include your business in their status.  With everyone from grandmas to grandsons on facebook, you should be maximizing your networking power!
Your Social Media pages should also have the goal of bringing traffic to your website.  That is why it is important that your website is organized and professional in appearance.  The website is the place that lists your products and services, and is where a customer will get a sense of what your business is really about.  Bringing people to your website is one important tool to succeeding in the Internet age.
The most important aspect of getting traffic to your website is enhancing its performance in Search Engine results.  Just think of how often you look up a product or service on Google and choose something off of the first page?  Rarely does someone venture on to the 4th or 5th page and choose a company from there.  Being on the first page of a search engine result is the best way to bring traffic and attention to your site. 
If you are a Small Business owner and are interested in building a website and improving your Search Engine Results, then contact The World Advisory Company.  Committed to seeing small businesses grow and succeed in the DC metro area, they will work with you to figure out your needs and to strengthen your company’s marketing efforts.
To all of you Small Business owners out there, take heart that Rags to Riches stories can and do happen in the United States.  If you have a great product or service and a hard work ethic, and the right vision than you will absolutely be successful.  At this time, I would like to direct you to a great article on Businesspundit.com that gives a list of 10 companies that started from nothing and turned into fortune 500 companies (http://www.businesspundit.com/fortune-500-rags-to-riches/). 

If you are interested in having your business featured in Small Business View, please Contact Us

By Michael Steenstra

A Brief Tweetorial: An Introduction to Using Twitter for Small Business

10 years ago, the word “twitter” was only used to describe a bird’s song.  It may have been word that your father-in-law might use on a nature walk; it definitely wouldn’t have been something to describe an enormous and successful internet business.

Oh how the word “twitter” has changed.  I can’t speak for anyone else, but I probably hear the word “twitter” or “tweet” over 10 times a day.  The cool thing about it is that it is really just an ongoing, global conversation.  People talk about current events, stores they like going to, what Charlie Sheen is doing, Sports, food, vacation, comedy, death, life, religion, anything!  You can follow your favorite celebrities, athletes, comedians, or companies that you like.  It can also be a fun way for a small business to connect with their customer base and attract attention to their business.
This article is going to go over some basic tips on how to attract attention to a small business in the Twitterverse.  You are going to learn how to search and create “tagged” tweets, how to attract followers, and how keep them interested in your business.
The idea of tagging tweets has become something you will see in most Tweets now.  If you are unfamiliar with tagging, think of it this way:
Tagging is to tweeting as thesis is to research paper.
A “tag” is when you place a pound sign (#) in front of important key words.  To get a glimpse at the power of a tag, try searching Twitter for some tagged phrases.  I will get you started: 
1)      Go to the search bar in your twitter account
2)      Type in #smallbusiness and press enter
3)      Scroll down and look at the vast amount of links and comments regarding small businesses
4)      Now, try a few different topics you are interested and search for them, remember to place a pound sign before a word to narrow your search results
Isn’t it incredible how much information is available on Twitter?  When a tag is added to a tweet, it creates an easy way for people to search for tweets that are relevant to what they are looking for.  The main point of every tweet should be tagged so that people can search for it. 
Here is an example of how to tag your tweets.  Let’s say you are selling Ice Cream in Bethesda, MD at a shop called Crazy Cones and you want people to start following you.  Your tweet may look something like this:
CrazyCones “#free #icecream cones to first ten ppl to follow @CrazyCones Ice Cream shop in #Bethesda, #Maryland.”
In this situation, your Tweet will show up anytime someone looks up #free, or #icecream, or #bethesda, or #Maryland in the search bar.  The #bethesda tag will draw in the locals, and free Ice Cream is something that will get attention.  When someone follows you, you will receive an e-mail and if they follow you, you should follow them back and mention them in a tweet.  You can “mention” them in a tweet by putting their twitter name in one of your tweets.
For example, if someone, in this case it is @Bethesdayboy, wants to “mention” Crazy Cones, they’d include @crazycones in their tweet and it would look something like this:
Bethesdaboy @crazycones I am following you!  How do I get my #free #icecream?
Twitter will alert you in this situation because you’ve been “mentioned”.  It is a lot of fun to be mentioned and you’ll be excited each time it happens.  From there, you can send him a message with details on how to come in for his free ice cream.  Perhaps, you can suggest that he comes in that week to redeem his free cone and while he’s there he has to send out a tweet that say’s he’s in the store. 
If he doesn’t have the ability to tweet on his phone, then you take the initiative and tweet, “@Bethesdaboy just came to collect his #free #icecream.  Next 9 #followers to come in get the same treatment!”
Once someone is following you, it is extremely important that you keep them engaged in what you are doing.  Offer special discounts that are only available to Twitter followers.  Set up a workstation in the store with twitter access and if they tweet while they’re in there, give them something!  Make sure people that visit the store off of the street know that you are on Twitter by posting signs in the store.  Let them know that there will be nice benefits to being a follower.
It is up to you to be creative with your followers, freedom is part of the beauty of owning your own small business!  Make it exciting for them to follow you by offering them unique things.  Perhaps you can offer a give-away, free upgrade on a product, or a consultation to your Twitter followers.  You should also post relevant news articles, pictures of your work, and links to your website.  If you stumble upon some free tickets to a ball game, create a contest for your twitter followers.  The contest can be a word scramble, or a trivia question that pertains to your business. 
Twitter is a unique opportunity to become part of your customer’s everyday life and you should be taking the time to learn how to use it.  If you need some help getting started, you can contact The World Advisory Company and a professional small business consultant would be happy to work with you.   
You can follow Small Business View on Twitter @SmallBizView if you have already established a twitter account.

Article by Mike Steenstra