Where I am at…..

So past couple of weeks have been hectic. Business has really been picking up (to where I even hired someone part-time), so apparently I am doing things right. I am now involved with marketing, call center support, and general assistant work. Most of my work comes through on Elance, which has gotten me thinking that I need to get more aggressive with my own personal marketing.

Which, to me, means really getting active with my social networking and starting to attend some local networking events. I’ve begun laying the plans for my growth going into the new year. Mostly setting goals of where I hope to be by the end of next year. From there I can develop plans to reach those goals (or even surpass them!).

So my question to everyone out there in the blog world….. where do you see yourself at the end of next year and how do YOU plan on reaching those goals? And of course…. do you need help with reaching those goals?

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Email Campaign Results

Email

As those that follow me, I had been working on an email campaign for a client for the past few months (See Email1 & Email2). It took so long due to a time difference between Israel and I, but it has finally been sent out. We did a small campaign through InfoUSA of just 300 emails to see what kind of open and click through rates we would get. The results were on the lower end of what is average (6.42% open and 0.38% click through).

Looking over the results versus what I have learned I see a few errors I made, specifically with my subject line. It was too long and could have had a better catch. Going to redesign the email itself also. I need to add more social media content to it.

Overall, I am satisfied with the results. I know I can take what I have learned and apply it to the next round of emails. Looking to send 1000 this next round with the new changes applied. Hoping to reach a 10% open with a 1.5% click through rate this next time around.

It is a very time consuming process though. You really need to do your research about what works and what doesn’t. Pay attention to that subject line, as that is the big key to getting people to actually open the email. Also, most people view their email on their smartphones. So be sure to make sure your email will look good on a small screen (another lesson learned).

I’ll let you all know the results of round 2 in a few weeks.

Learning new skills…..quickly

 

I have a client that needed a video edited for posting on YouTube. Now, I have never edited or created a video in my life. So not only did I have to learn a new skill……but had to learn it quickly. Was not an easy task at all.

I went through several programs trying to find the right one to edit the audio….then several more to edit the video…..then several more to add text to the video. Google was a good friend of mine throughout all this.

Luckily it came out pretty good and the client is happy. But I’m thinking the next time I run into this sort of problem I may just call in an expert….lol.

Differences in business culture…how does it affect you?

Sending an email campaign

Bombs Away!

As most of my followers should know, I have talked about putting together an email campaign for the company that I sell mobile marketing solutions for (see Launching An Email Campaign & Launching An Email Campaign 2). Well…after much debate and research it should finally go out this week.

Part of the problem with getting this email campaign off the ground was the differences between the main companies business culture and our culture here in the United States. When I first started offering virtual assistance services, I did not take into account how different cultures conduct business.

Especially when it comes to marketing a product or service. What may work here in the U.S. does not necessarily work in the U.K. Or in Asia. And not knowing that coming into this project made it that much more difficult to get this campaign off the ground. Neither of us understood the business culture of the other.

Now that we are on the same page, I think future marketing endeavors will go much smoother. But for those of you who are planning to move your product service to the global market, do your research. Cause the differences can be staggering.

What is success?

What is success?

I’m sure a lot of people were like me when they first started off with their own business. We had a clear vision of what we were going to do and where we wanted to be. In our mind we connected a straight line from the starting point of our business to our success point.

Then when you get into the thick of things you suddenly realize that not everything will work out as planned. Our straight path to success becomes a curvy road filled with potholes, speed traps, and road construction. We are forced to take detours from our original plan to account for the things we didn’t see coming.

I have learned that you need to be able to recognize a pivot point in your business. A place where you need to make a choice to either change direction or keep going on your current path. These decisions will be difficult to make because they sometimes take you in a direction away from your view of success.

When I first started RI Business Solutions (see my first post), my view was to solely perform virtual administrative assistance services. 6 months later and I am doing sales of a mobile marketing platform and customer service. I’m in the process of establishing a call center in Pakistan to be better able to compete in the customer service industry. I have ended up going in a totally different direction then I had originally anticipated.

Does this mean I failed to succeed? I don’t think so. In a sense I have already succeeded because I was able to change my direction to meet the needs of my clients. If I stayed focused on my original plan of success, then I would have failed. But by changing the type of services I provided, I am able to keep my business moving forward. The direction of the movement makes no difference, long as the movement is forward. And forward movement is successful movement.

 

 

Update….

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I know I have not update my blog for quite a while now. I do apologize to my followers for this. Success can be a two-sided coin. It feels great to be successful, but it also leaves you no time to actually ENJOY your success (14 Things Successful People Do On The Weekends). My work days have gone from 8 AM to 3 PM to 6 AM to 6 PM…and sometimes it still isn’t enough. Here it is Saturday morning and I have been up and working since 6 AM. Had to close out the books for the week, send out some invoices (including that 1 overdue balance I am STILL trying to collect), and now trying to update the blog.

Good news is I have an excellent new client. They are a new start up that help small businesses take their website mobile. They are called Goro All In One Solution. I will be managing their U.S. sales team for them. Right now, it is only a small team of 5 people. But I see the potential in the product for a strong growth over the next 12 months.

With the award of this new client I will actually be hiring my first employee in the next 2 to 3 weeks. I will need someone to take over the customer service support contract I have. It feels strange to think that I have only been in business since March and already am looking to hire my first employee. Hopefully I can keep this growth going over the next 6 months.

So that is pretty much where I stand right now. Here are a few links for helping to manage your time (something I need more practice at):

http://www.wikihow.com/Manage-Your-Time

http://www.ehow.com/how_948_manage-time.html

http://freelancefolder.com/manage-your-time-effectively-using-the-four-list-method/

Lesson learned the hard way….

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Well…talk about a hard lesson learned. I had been providing call center services to an alleged non profit for several weeks. They provided community service online, a red flag I should have paid attention to, for a fee. They stated on their website they were 501(c) registered and accepted by the courts.

Right away I noticed that quite a few calls were from people who either were trying to get refunds cause their letters were denied by the courts (even though the website stated no letter had ever been rejected). This was the second red flag that I did notice, but was reluctant to admit cause the cash flow was needed. Then the other night a customer called and stated outright that the courts denied his letter cause the organization was not 501(c) registered, therefor not a non profit. This red flag I could not ignore.

So I did some research on the IRS website. I was able to gain the organizations EIN number from a PDF file they had of their original approval of 501(c) status from 2005. They were not listed as a current non profit by the IRS. I did a search by name and location on the IRS and again….nothing. Did a Google search and could not find them listed any where as a non profit.

Next I did some investigative work using WhoIs to gather information on the website I was representing. The owner of the website was not listed as the alleged non profit, the website had only been operation for 2 years, even though they stated they had been opened since 2005. Seemed nothing they state on their website was true.

I immediately terminated my contract with this organization. I would not risk being involved when the repercussions of providing false community service letters is finally discovered by the authorities.

Moral of the story here. Do some research on clients BEFORE you enter into a contract with them. If I did not catch this when I did, it could have ended very badly for my business and myself personally.

And yes, I did report them for being a scam.

ugh….collecting on unpaid invoices

Need more of this?

Need more of this?

This has to be one of the most nerve wracking parts of owning a business. When you complete a job for someone and they do not pay you on time. I understand that the economy is still getting on its feet, but causing me to have a cash flow problem isn’t going to help any. At least contact me and explain to me the situation. I would be willing to work with my client if they would just TALK to me. Setting up a payment plan is better than collection nothing. Right?

Anyways…here are some sites I found on collecting on unpaid invoices:

Hopefully if you find yourself in a similar position as I am in now, then these articles will help you get some resolution.

Busy Week

It has been a very busy week for me. Not only got my first project from Elance. But also got a chance to speak with 2 other potential clients. One of these clients I have a very positive feeling that it will turn into another contract for me.

It brings about a great sense of satisfaction when you put in hard work and get a positive response from it. As most people know, starting a new business is both an exciting and scary experience. Especially when your doing it with a limited budget and as a pivot point in your life. I’m making the switch from being in the healthcare industry as an EMT to the business service industry. All while trying to get back into college. But I am determined to give it my all and try to make it all a success.

Elance vs. Freelancer

It has been a few weeks now that I have been actively trying to establish my small business services company now. I started working using Freelancer.com about 3 weeks ago and have been working with Elance.com for about 10 days now. Already I see the differences in the 2 sites.

Even though I have not been awarded any contracts from either site, I have gotten better quality leads on Elance. I consider them better quality as the posters of different projects have taken the time to ask me questions about my qualifications and experience. Even though I may not get the project, I am getting valuable experience on interacting with different business owners and getting insight on what they are looking for in service providers.

Freelancer on the other hand, it seems the business owners are less inclined to even inquire with people who submit proposals on their projects. I have even asked some questions to clarify some aspects of their projects and did not get a response.

Also, Elance has an easier to use interface. Managing the projects I have placed a bid on is so much easier to track than on Freelancer. I also like the fact that Elance does not give out the financial details of a persons bid.

So in my opinion, Elance is a much higher quality site to utilize for the purpose of trying to gain projects to work on. I think I am going to focus more on Elance than Freelancer from now on.

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