Ruth Medlin Consulting

SPEAKER l TRAINER l ENTREPRENEURIAL MENTOR

Am I Talking Too Much?

I’m worried. I’m worried that I am talking too much these days. You see, I’ve been at home, just me and my computer and my two cats for nearly three months now due to the coronavirus. And I’ve just started to venture out into public again. Oh, it feels so good. Being out and about with people, even with my mask on, just makes me feel like my world is opening again. But that’s where I am getting into a bit of trouble. It seems like once I start talking, I can’t to stop! Like last Wednesday when I was at my first hair appointment in four months, I found myself telling my hairdresser about a long-lost cousin that no one knew existed and how that my favorite uncle may be this cousin’s dad! What am I doing for goodness sakes?! Or I start talking about what my lovely mother used to do in situations! All her wit and witticisms come out of my mouth. I mean who really cares! 

I just keep babbling on and on like a never-ending magpie who doesn’t really say a lot but keeps on talking no matter what!

I will admit that before all this sheltering in place business that I was a talker. But since Covid19, I have become virtually unstoppable. People are polite. My hairdresser listened with empathy about my uncle and commented that sometimes genetic testing can be in error. That was nice of her, certainly, but it did little to stop me! I just kept repeating and repeating “I can’t believe my uncle would father a baby and then put it up for adoption!” 

I’ve got to start practicing better listening skills. I used to teach an active listening skills workshop and I would remind my students that you learn more by listening than talking!  If you listen 2/3 of the time and engage in conversation for 1/3 of the time you will be considered an active listener. It’s all coming back to me now. Perhaps if I engage others by asking thoughtful questions of them and then zipping my lip, I can stop this infuriating babbling! 

Fair-warning though, if you see me out and about, please do me a favor. Do not ask me how I’ve been because until I can get this whole talking situation under control you just might have to listen to my latest non-interesting and never-ending story!

What’s Up With You & Your Business?

What are you up to? How’s your business growing? What will it take to make it to the next level?

Hard work, perseverance, dedication, and determination all come to mind! But, first things first.

How long have you been in business? It’s important to know that because you need to be able to set benchmarks as you grow. If you’ve been in business 1-2 years you are still learning the ropes. You have made it over the critical first year hump, so good for you. However, you may have some growing pains, things that you haven’t quite mastered yet. And that’s ok! The important thing to remember is to keep moving forward. Whatever is hard or difficult for you is something to work on and work out. 

Let’s move on to goal setting. Sometimes we think of goal setting as a once a year event, usually around the first of the year. I do that too. But what about setting incremental goals, in other words baby steps, to succeed at. I know this for sure, every time we set a goal and meet it or exceed it, it fuels us up for more success! Another way to think of goals is like building blocks. The more goals you meet, the higher you are climbing in your business. Try tying goals to the bigger picture of where you want your business to go. Keep track of goal achievements because when the going gets tough (and it will), you can measure your success not by a minor setback, but by a look at all the goals you’ve met!

Being in it for the long haul is something a lot of us are questioning these days. Covid 19 hit us like a ton of bricks falling out of nowhere. Follow that up with shelter in place orders and businesses closing due to that order and a lot of businesses merely folded their tents. If you have made the determination to stay in it for the long haul, you’ve probably found ways to adapt and have adopted some new ways of doing business. Thank goodness for social media platforms and Zoom, FaceTime and Skype! Many of us have been able to keep our business presence known because of all this great technology! Keep on keepin’ on as my mom would say. 

Nothing is promised, nothing is gained without risk, so whatever you’re doing in your business today may not work tomorrow. My point is this, be flexible, keep learning and make every day count. That’s what successful entrepreneurs must do in this new world we are living in.

Outsourcing Or…

Outsourcing Or …

During this unique time in our lives, I have noticed that many of us are beginning to slow down (do we have a choice?) and with the slowing down has come the time for some serious reflecting. Now like you, I consider reflection as a singular activity; you know the rainy Saturday afternoon by yourself at home time that you allow your brain to come upon some pushed aside thoughts that deserve  your attention. These thoughts are sometimes random, sometimes specific. Whatever they are, they are usually hindsight, rear view mirror thoughts. I have had quite a few of these thoughts recently. Some to do with the “good old days” of childhood memories-carefree summers on the family farm. Watching my mom tend to the family vegetable garden and my dad raise bands of turkeys out on the back of our property. My parents were not outsourcers. They grew a lot of what we put on our table. It was rare to have store bought meat or grocery store vegetables. And as to what I remember about food as a youngster? I remember that my mom was a great cook and the food was plentiful and delicious. There was always enough to feed the family and the occasional guest. 

And then came adulthood. Eating in restaurants, grabbing fast food and when I cooked, it was food from the grocery store. I outsourced a lot back in my early adult days. Farmers Markets came much later into my realm. I frequented them on the occasional Thursday night or early Saturday morning. The farm stands with the farmers behind them. Proud and hardworking, they often traveled great distances overnight to set up their tents to sell their just-harvested produce to the outsourcers like me. I knew what fresh tomatoes tasted like from childhood and I was delighted to re-connect with the farming community. It was like coming home to my family farm. And although I was still a food outsourcer, I was getting closer to eating clean and eating healthy.

Today, as I have had ample time to reflect on many things, I decided to begin to research and source my food. As fortune would have it, I met a young woman named Sarah who along with her husband owns a cattle ranch some 20 miles from town. They sell meat-beef, pork, and chicken. Home grown meats. I called Sarah recently to ask about coming out to the farm for a visit and to buy some meat from her. She was gracious about taking time from her busy day (she is also a mom of two) to meet me at the farm. We walked and talked about raising cattle. Like me she was a 4-H kid and she told stories of raising her first steer to show and how she cried when it was to be auctioned off and that her dad bought it back and brought it back to the farm for her. I saw the cattle that would soon become meat for someone’s table. Today, raising a herd of beef cattle is so different than when I was a kid. There are online cattle auctions. Blood lines are a serious topic of discussion and ways to select just the right cows to help strengthen and build up the herd. Suddenly I realized that Sarah and her husband were sourcing their cattle but just at a greater distance and with internet speed of the 2000’s.

It all came full circle to me. Just like in childhood I was given the opportunity to source my protein for the highest quality and best-tasting meat to be found in the area. I was helping a farmer and I was loving the experience. And while we will all surely get back to our lives soon enough, why not take some time while you have it and reflect on some sourcing of your own. What is important to you in your life? How will you begin to change the way your purchase products and services? How do you find the right things for you and your family? I guess it will all begin when you meet someone like Sarah, who is making a living and a life on a cattle ranch just outside the city. And who is willing to educate and inform about living the life that she and her husband have created so that you and I can become food sourceeducated to live a healthier life.

Celebrate Your Customers!

Celebrate Your Customers!

During this busy holiday season remember to honor and celebrate your customers! Here are 5 great ways to give your customers some extra love during the season.

1. Change your Face Book page, website and any other social media platforms by adding a holiday wreath to your banner.  It takes virtually no time to add a bit of holiday cheer to your posts.  

2. Send out holiday greeting cards (this year, I sent post cards) to your customers and maybe add a coupon for a free gift come the new year.  My housecleaning service sent a coupon in their holiday card for a free refrigerator clean out come the new year!

3. If you’re close enough (within a reasonable driving distance), take your clients a potted poinsettia plant.  They will be surprised to see you in person at their place of business, but they will really appreciate the thought and effort you put into hand delivering the plant.

4. Buy a small gift from a local merchant and give one to each of your customers.  It’s a win-win-win!5. Create a calendar for the new year and have it printed to send to all your customers. Make certain that your name, website and phone number appear on the calendars.  That way, you will be a reminder to your customers each time they look at their calendar!

Remember it doesn’t take a whole lot of time to celebrate your customers.  Sometimes just a plain old phone call to them to say “thank you for your business this year” will make a lasting impression.

Happy Holidays!

Marketing Materials

Making a Marketing Materials Plan for the New Year!

Recently I attended a conference and as usual, I came home with a bag full of marketing materials.  Now if you are like me, you may not look at all the goodies that you got immediately upon arriving back home.  Somehow, it takes me a few weeks to dive into the bag to see what I got!  This time as I was scoping out allmy loot, I suddenly realized that everyone’s marketing materials kind of reminded me of a giant bouquet of flowers.  There were so many different colors, fonts and photos that I was mesmerized by all that I saw!

Fast forward to December as I write this blog, I decided to focus on making a marketing materials plan for the new year! Marketing materials don’t come cheap, so we want to be certain that we spend wisely and make good choices so that our materials are good and viable for the next year.  Here are three tips I came up with to plan for 2020’s marketing materials.

1. Make certain to use current photographs of yourself in your marketing materials. There is nothing more confusing to clients and customers than to see different photographs of you with different hairstyles or glasses and in different poses!  A professional photographer I spoke with recently suggests that entrepreneurs and business owners should get new headshots taken every 2-3 years or when there are changes in hairstyles, particularly for women.  Some companies require new headshots every year. Be your own best critic and take a good look in the mirror to see what changes you see and compare them to your current marketing photos.  If you see a change, then get new photos.

2. Choosing colors for marketing materials can be tricky.  Many of us have a favorite color that we tend to gravitate towards every time we are tasked with choosing colors.  Be aware of how colors effect your marketing materials!  For instance, one of my favorite colors is black.  I wear a lot of black clothes and I think black is a bold and expressive color.  However, if you are choosing black for marketing, be sure it can be seen when printed upon.  I saw some daring marketing materials done in a slick black background, but I could barely read what was written on them! I readily admit that I need help in this area.  That’s why I had a business print consultant to look over my ideas and make suggestions.  She’s got a much keener eye than I do when it comes to color and design.

3. Be sure to write new copy for new marketing materials.  You may be able to get away with some re-occurringthemes, but to just keep printing the same message repeatedly isn’t being innovative and that’s what our customers want to see.  Fresh and innovative you!

Take it from me, change is never easy no matter what kind of changes you are making.  However, in today’s world, you mustkeep things current and interesting to stay in the game!

Work Smart

Creating Passive Income

I bet we’ve all heard the phrase, ‘worker smarter, not harder.’ How about a new phrase that says simply ‘work smart?’ What if we worked smart so that we wouldn’t have to work at all?  What if we created ways to have money coming in without having to do anything? Well, that’s how I see passive income!

What is passive income you ask? Well, here’s one definition that we can expand upon: Passive income is income that requires little to no effort to earn and maintain. It is called progressive passive income when the earner expends little effort to grow the income. Examples of passive income include rental income and any business activities in which the earner does not materially participate. 

Today, we can make passive income from a lot more things than rental property.  Think about writing and selling your pieces to magazines, and on-line publications. How about turning one of your bedrooms into an air b and b? Or what about becoming a representative for a multi-level company, building your own team and watching the cash start to flow in! The important thing to remember is that in today’s world, you can create your own vision of what your future holds by watching others and learning from them. Making money has to do with being astute and open to try new things. While not every gig is going to be for you, if you are willing to try, you have conquered half the battle to ‘work smart!’ and creating positive cash flow with which to enjoy life more!

Tie Your Business into the Holidays!

Tie Your Business into the Holidays!

We are beginning the season of the year when our business can take a back seat to the holidays.  We might just get lost in the shuffle of all the festivities and while we like and enjoy the holidays for the most part, we don’t want to let them overshadow our business!  Remember, business momentum is a constant process and we don’t want to lose sight of it because the climb back from a lackluster holiday season can be difficult!

So how do we incorporate our business into the holidays?  Well, with some strategic aforethought we can get ourselves well-positioned to be viable during this lovely, but hectic season.  Here are a few suggestions to consider for you and your business.

What about sponsoring a special holiday sale?  For virtually no added expense, you can have a “turkey trot” sale.  Simply design a flyer with a turkey on it and put several of your best sellers on it.  Maybe do a combo sale, like if you buy 1 widget at full price, you can buy a second for 50% off!  If your town has a Thanksgiving parade, consider entering the parade to advertise your business. You can have banners printed for very little cost through an online printer or a local print shop and have family and friends of your business in the parade with you!  What about a giveaway? Take one of your best-selling items and create a giveaway of it. One lucky customer will win a diamond-studded widget! Everyone can enter (that way you get names and phone numbers of entrants which can lead to future business). Have the drawing just before Christmas and get a photo of the winner with you and their brand-new widget to post on social media.

Get creative and have some fun with all of this! Remember that people want to do business with people who aren’t “bah hummers”!

Happy Holidays!

That’s A Wrap!

That’s A Wrap!

Planning and producing a business conference are awesome and daunting tasks! I am proud to say that the Influencer Community first annual conference is in the books! And I am feeling pretty good about how everything went. 

I thought that this week’s blog post should be about some things I learned from the conference.  First, planning, planning and then more planning is a must!  No detail is too tiny or insignificant to consider.  I had a spiral-bound notebook and I carried it everywhere with me because I never knew when an idea or inspiration would strike, and I wanted to capture it all.

Let’s talk first about selecting a venue for an event.  Believe me when I tell you there are plenty of venues to choose from here in Cincinnati.  Big or small, Cincy has it all! The tricky part is twofold.  First, availability is key.  Many venues are booked for at least one year out, so while finding the right place is important, finding the right place thatis available can get tricky.  Secondly, making sure the venue you choose has easy access, lots of parking and is on Google or Apple Maps! Once you find a venue that is available, be sure to meet the catering manager to be certain that they are a good fit for you to work with.  You will be having lots of conversations with this person, and you will need to be certain that you are comfortable working with them.  Next comes the selection of food for the conference.  What will the snacks and meals be?  What is the cost? Will you have to pay a deposit?  Is that deposit refundable if your plans change? Is there a contract between you and the venue?  I cannot stress how important it is to get details like these answered to your satisfaction.

Another big thing is speakers for your conference!  How many will you have?  Will you have an emcee?  What about a keynote speaker? I discovered that putting out a call for speakers on social media was extremely helpful because it gave me a list of speakers in part, that I didn’t know.  Be sure to vet your speakers.  Ask for a “sizzle reel” of their appearances, check their references, and if you can, go to an event where they are speaking to check them out.

Look for sponsors for parts of your conference.  I asked for table decoration sponsors, swag bag sponsors, note taking tablet sponsors, and program printing sponsors.  While each event is unique, be sure to have a team of sponsors who are willing to do their part to make your conference a success.

Going along with sponsorships, you will want to look for donations for door prizes.  Check with EVERYBODY! Don’t be afraid to ask for a donation.  Most businesses set aside some marketing dollars for just this type of thing.  Remember to mention them in your program to give them some free advertising.

Finally, remain calm and in control the day of the event.  If you are in a dither, your conference participants will sense your concerns.  So put your best foot/feet forward and take charge of the conference!

From They to We to Me

From They To We To Me

Have you ever noticed how sometimes salespeople refer to the company or store where they work as “they” instead of “we”?  For instance, if you are trying to purchase an item from a cashier and you ask for a discount because the item seems to be mismarked or damaged and the cashier says something like, “oh they won’t discount that!”  It’s as if the cashier is Not an affiliate of the store that they are cashiering for!

How do we train our employees and sometimes maybe even ourselves to take ownership of the company we are representing? I think some of it has to do with length of time on the job as well as a level of increased confidence not only in ourselves but in the company, we are representing.  You see if the company has high standards, is intregritious and does the right thing by its customers as well as its employees, then we as employees feel a certain level of pride and comfort in becoming part of their “we”. On the other hand, if the company doesn’t represent and project an upstanding image, employees may tend to psychologically want to distance themselves by using the third person plural word “they”.

How do this affect us? Consumers may not frequent that store because they have a feeling or sense of distrust about the culture within the store. And employees may sense a feeling of uneasiness about how the company runs its business and if employees sense dishonesty or lack of integrity, they may continue to distance themselves and may even look for other job opportunities because they do not feel like they want to be a part of the store.

But what about the final shift from “we” to “me”? Employees who feel comfortable and proud of their employer may shift from we to me because they have accepted the’ know like and trust’ factor of their employer/company and they become vested as “me’s”.  That can only spell great things for the company because employees become its ambassadors. Going from they to we to me should be the ultimate compliment to any company who holds that high line of integrity within its ranks.

Writing and Maintaining a Blog

Blogging is another way to get your business and brand out into the world.  If you have been thinking about writing a blog, or if you are a “sometimes” blogger, this message is for you!

Here are some tips to get started.  First, decide what your blog is going to do for or give to your readers.  If your blog is about your business, then be certain to include your business contact information somewhere in the blog.  If you can incorporate it into the body of your blog, all the better!  

Next, think about the tone and message you want your blog to convey. Are you going for facts, charm, information or what?  Will you write in first person singular or third person singular? Will you include photos? How will you get your personality to shine through the blog?  As you can see, there needs to be some aforethought and decision making before you write your first blog.

Now we come to the hard part, how frequently will you write and post your blogs?  And where will you come up with topics for your blogs.  According to my friend Monica Miller who writes and teaches about writing blogs, you should create a content calendar for an entire year!  I know this sounds daunting (at least it did to me when I first heard Monica talking about it), but let me tell you that it will make your writing life so much easier because when it comes time to write a blog, most of us stop and fumble around for a topic.  This can be a non-starter for most of us if we must constantly look around for a topic.  It can stop the blogging process before it even gets started! But with your content calendar in place, all you have to do is look at it and see the topic and start writing!  Genius!  Thank you, Monica Miller!  Check her out on Face Book “Monica Writes”.  The other thing Monica suggests is to decide on frequency of writing and posting blogs.  Some may start out with great ambition and want to write/post weekly or even several times a week.  I will say the ‘burnout’ factor for blogging may hit you hard with that kind of a schedule!  Perhaps start out with quarterly blogs or monthly blogs to make certain that you like doing them and that you can maintain the pace you’ve set up.  Remember, your readers are expecting you to produce and if you become sporadic or haphazard, some readers may drift away, disappointed that they don’t see enough of your writings.

Finally, I will say this.  Blogging can be a great way to get your name and business brand out there. And if you’re wondering where to start, I’d say get that content calendar written to be sure you have topics/themes for the year and then write your first blog!

Happy blogging to you!  

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