Posts in Entrepreneurship
How to Survive the Holiday Season as a Business Owner

If you can believe it, the holiday season is pretty much upon us. Before you know it, you'll be trying to balance your normal workload with holiday parties, present shopping, wrapping, and family in town.

And while it's so tempting to just take a break from all the social posting, and blogging and marketing work (I mean... let's be honest.. you're audience is busy too), where does that leave you in the New Year?

After working so hard all year, taking a break for the next few months leave you scrambling to bring you audience back up in 2019. So, how can we stay productive and focused, yet still manage to make time for all those fun holiday activities?

Check out the October inside The Hub for these answers and more. It's chock full of:

✔️content ideas centered around the season,
✔️inspiration to keep you focused,
✔️and a rock solid plan so you can stay connected and engaged with your audience throughout "the most wonderful time of the year".

All of this is inside The Digital Marketing Hub just waiting for you! If you're not a member of The Hub now's your chance to get 40% off your membership. Just click this link to get instant access to this, and all our previous trainings at an insane sale price! But hurry - this price expires on Tuesday!

No Summer! Don't Go Yet!

Summer is rolling to a close (no! not yet!). But we've got some sizzling hot new content for you inside The Hub! (see what I did there?)

Think you've read everything there is about the importance of getting links?

And are still confused? It's all good - we're diving deep into this Off Page SEO technique (among others), and are showing you how to easily get links back to your site. Super clear, super straight forward, super important

Ready to start driving more sales, without having to work much harder?

I mean, who isn't!? We brought in sales funnel expert April Lewis to give us her insider secrets on putting together sales funnels that will help you bring in more email signups and sales for all that content, course work and consulting packages you have just waiting to be bought.

Looking for a new (FREE!) stock photo source?

I've got another guest on the podcast this month, Dara Simons (aka web design genius), who is sharing with us some of her best tips in case you need to DIY your own website. AND she even has some great resources and ideas for cool (aka not LAME) stock photos!

All of this content (PLUS one more Guest Expert training later this month on how to get out of your head and get visible on video) is brand new this month inside The Digital Marketing Hub!

Oh, and because you can try it out FREE for the first seven days, you can check all of this stuff WITHOUT paying a dime!

I can just hear the chorus of "Thank You's" now! (You're welcome by the way!)

Check out The Hub here!

Quit Hiding & Get Visible

It's time to get real - one of the things I've always struggled with when it comes to running my own business, is confidence. I am constantly second guessing myself, rarely post videos or pictures of myself (because my hair or makeup wasn't quite right that day), and sometimes even wonder if I'm "good enough" at my job.

Cue Tanya Conner-Green of Whole Hearted Business Coach. When picking guest experts for my new membership program, The Digital Marketing Hub, I KNEW that I wanted Tanya to be the very first one. Not only because I feel her message is so important to all the business owners in the group, but because I (selfishly) wanted to hear what she had to say myself.

So, today on the blog, I'm spilling a few pearls of wisdom from her March Guest Expert Training, "Quit Hiding & Get Visible". While you can view the entire training inside The Hub (and trust me, you're going to want to, it's AMAZING), I wanted to give everybody a little taste to help you gain more confidence and get yourself and your business seen online (especially with video).

1. Insight #1 - What makes you want to work with one person over another? For many of us it's because we get a chance to see that real person. We can see their vulnerabilities and authenticity, see the value they've provided us, and can see they actually care about you (and not just selling you a product). If you choose to buy that way, chances are your audience does too. Stop hiding all of that from them!

2. Insight #2 - Stop running from your doubts and fears. Most of us feel like in order to overcome our fears, we have to push aside those pesky little doubts that pop up in our brains and pretend they don't exists. But let's get real for a minute, we ALL have them! We all question ourselves sometimes, and pretending that we don't won't help us move past them. Acknowledging what your fears & doubts are, and then choosing to flip those into positive beliefs is a much more effective use of time, and will actually help you start to believe in how amazing you really are.

3. Insight #3 - What would your 80 year old self tell you? Fear or doubt stopping you from taking the next step in your business? Think ahead to what you would tell yourself if you had the chance to go back in time. Hindsight is always 20/20, so instead of looking back and wishing you had made moves sooner, force yourself to take that big step today. Chances are you won't regret it and you'll make your 80 year old self proud!

Pretty legit right? I know, she's kind of amazing. But this is literally just the tip of the iceberg (seriously, all these insights come from the first 5 minutes of her almost 40 minute training). There is so much more inside and watching it has me just busting at the seams, ready to start doing more video and creating even more free content for you guys (so make sure to keep an eye on your inbox!)

So, if you're not a member of The Digital Marketing Hub, click here to join so you can hear all that Tanya (and our other amazing guest experts coming up in the next few months), have to say!

Oh, and don't forget to check out Tanya's website to learn more about her, and how she's inspiring entrepreneurs and business owners everyday.

Elizabeth Stone: Finding work life balance as an entrepreneur or small business owner
 Hub Digital and Elizabeth Stone talk life as an entrepreneur or small business owner.
 Elizabeth Stone talks about how to find work/live balance as an entrepreneur.

Elizabeth Stone is an entrepreneur and business woman passionate about making a positive impact by pointing her businesses towards social enterprising. She is a Rhode Island native with about ten years of experience working with small businesses and people to help them grow and flourish. She is deeply involved in the Rhode Island community and regularly volunteers her time to nonprofits around the region. This year she won the overall award for the Rhode Island Business Plan competition with BI Medical. She has also started BioSci Labs, an incubator, and coworking space. BioSci Labs helps to develop innovative technologies into commercially recognizable products ready to be brought to market. She has started Pepper's Closet, a social enterprise committed to spreading ocean literacy and cleanup effort through custom crafted apparel. Pepper's Closet donates 10 percent of all profits to conservation and cleanup efforts. 

As an entrepreneur and small business owner I understand just how hard it can be to find a reasonable work-life balance. Between meetings, actually doing work, networking, teaching classes and all the administrative tasks associated with running a business, how can there be time for our family and ourselves. 

First off, to be an entrepreneur, you need to love what you do because it certainly won't be easy. I really put my heart and soul into the projects that I start and if I weren’t passionate about them, I would get burned out really fast. Right now my main projects are BioSci Labs  and Pepper’s Closet. Bringing innovative products to market to improve healthcare and helping to improve the ocean - what’s not to love? As much as I do love my job, finding a work-life balance is paramount. I am a better and more creative worker and a more patient and supportive wife/momma when I can find the right balance. I am far from perfect but here are a few tips and tricks that have helped me balance business and pleasure.

Here are five things that help me:

  1. Time Management - Set attainable goals. In a world were productivity is so often defined as multitasking, sometimes you have to focus on a single task and complete one action item. I like to start out my day with a fast item that I can complete to get myself on a role. As much as I like to answer emails while on conference calls, sometimes its better to shut my phone off, minimize the emails, and get just one thing all the way done.
  2. Scheduling – This goes hand I hand with time management. My Google calendar is my BEST FRIEND! I schedule everything - work outs, play dates, dates with my husband, work meetings, swim lesson, music class, etc. Planning my week ahead allows me to find help on the days I need it whether it’s from my brother, husband, mom or friends. Owning my own business gives me the freedom and flexibility to take my daughter to swim and music class during the day, but in return I am usually working nights after she goes to bed. Like the old saying goes, 'owning your own business means you get to pick which 80 hours a week you work.' 
  3. Communication - Being honest with yourself and others about what you can and can’t do. Do not be afraid to say no or ask for help. It is far better to be honest and say no instead of making commitments you end up shirking… or handing in projects way past the deadline. This one is especially difficult for me because I am always trying to please everyone.
  4. Outsourcing & Delegating - I outsource and delegate as many tasks as I reasonably can, both at home and work. As a small business owner this is sometimes very hard to do. It is important to let go of complete control of doing it yourself and trust others with tasks. I use Sunbasket and Amazon in lieu of grocery store and Target runs (though somehow I still find myself wandering around target). I share household tasks with my husband and daughter. Lately, I’ve been thinking about strapping Swiffer pads to Pepper’s feet while she runs around the house! Go, Pepper, Go!
  5. Self care- There will always be more work to do. It is important to take time for yourself every day, even if its only 30 min a day. My outlet is exercise.  A walk during lunch (leave your phone off), yoga in the morning, a run after work. We all have 30 min a day we can dedicate to ourselves. 

No matter how hard I try and schedule and plan sometimes things don’t go the way I want (especially with a toddler), so my advice to myself and everyone else is LET IT GO and go with the flow.

If you’d like to learn more about our friend and mompreneur, check out some of her other guest blogs: 

The Mompreneur Guide to Globetrotting With a Toddler

The Mompreneur Guide to Eating Healthy on the Go

The Mompreneur Guide to End of Summer Fun and Getting Back to School Ready

Gary Kullberg: What to Look For in a Marketing Consultant
 Online and digital marketing consultants rhode island, Hub Digital

Sometimes, at Hub Digital we like to connect with other marketing professionals to get their take on how they help small businesses grow. We believe that by sharing our ideas and strategies we can all help businesses better. Today, we've brought in Gary Kullberg of The Kullberg Consulting Group who breaks down why hiring a marketing consultant is important, and what you should be looking for in one.

If you’re an early stage or established small company seeking to profitably grow, you’re probably wondering whether you need a marketing consultant, much less how to select one.  Relax, you’re not alone!

Having spent many years working with small B2B, B2C, and nonprofit organizations on their marketing and marketing communications strategies and plans, I believe I’ve got a good sense of the issues facing them. Generally, at the top of the list, is the lack of a real marketing plan.  I’ve found that, despite possessing the skill sets that drive their organization’s success, founders and/or management simply do not have:

  • Time to think about marketing at all, because there is always something “more important” or urgent that needs their attention;
  • A real understanding of the power of marketing and how it can significantly improve profits and return on investment (ROI);
  • The resources, budgets and people available – marketing and marketing communications is “unfamiliar and scary,” and there are always other areas that need support first;
  • The knowledge of how to seek out and evaluate professional marketing help.

Yet, without real professional marketing planning, many brands are operating with a “Ready, Fire, Aim” reaction to the marketplace.   

So, what can a marketing or marketing communications professional do for you? In order to accomplish short and long-term objectives, you need to develop a meaningful marketing strategy and an integrated marketing communications plan and tactics. At its core, having a professional marketing program will improve your profitability and ROI. This task is often outsourced, frequently with a part-time Chief Marketing Officer.

The process starts with the outside consultant learning about your brand – its strengths and weaknesses, competition, distribution, business plan objectives, existing communication materials, employee involvement.  During this learning period, the consultant also avails himself of any pertinent primary or secondary research.  Most important, this period is also the time for establishing trust between the organization and the consultant.  You both must trust one another.

While some tasks may be completed directly during this learning period, an outside professional would use this knowledge to prepare:

  1. A marketing and marketing communications strategy, along with a positioning statement.  The positioning statement is a succinct description of the core target audience to whom the brand is directed, and a compelling picture of how the marketer wants the audience to view the brand.

Sound simple?  Take a minute and try to answer these four questions about your brand:

  • The target audience, in very specific detail
  • The category in which the brand competes, and its relevance to customers
  • The brand’s benefit and point of difference
  • A reason for the customer to believe – the most compelling proof

The positioning statement should be the credo for your brand to live by.  All marketing and marketing communications should flow from this positioning and be understood by all employees, agents, partners and management.

  1. An integrated and holistic plan with tactical expressions – media programs; creative executions, including new and/or traditional advertising; public relations; content marketing (social media, articles, blogs, white papers, video); packaging; point of purchase; employee engagement; and, events. The use of internal or external staff to create the above will be directed and evaluated by the consultant or, if necessary, specialists may be recommended to create various aspects of the plan.
  2. Recommendations for primary or secondary research when clear cut answers don’t exist on specific subjects.  Marketing depends on a complete understanding of the customers’ “wants and needs” as well as how they relate to your brand and competition.  Not just what your staff thinks; rather, information.  Facts beat opinion every time.  Look before you leap.
  3. A procedure of measurement and evaluation of the objectives of the agreed upon plan, as well as the established objectives to be accomplished with each target audience and marketing communication task.  Benchmarking and on-going analysis is key to successful marketing programs, allowing for change or refinement as you continue to improve operating efficiency.
  4. A format for informing and discussing the reasoning behind the marketing planning, so that everyone in the organization understands why the specific strategies, plans and tactics were developed and implemented.  The consultant should be a “teacher” to you and the entire organization becomes brand advocates.

If this makes sense to you, the next logical question is what talents should a marketing consultant have?  I believe you should look for a consultant, full or part-time, who is:

  1. Willing to learn your business from the ground up and doesn’t have a “one size fits all” mentality;
  2. An established professional, with extensive experience across industries and brands in B2B, B2C and nonprofit organizations, large and small.  Expand your horizons and don’t settle for experience in only your niche or industry;
  3. Media neutral and willing to embrace analytics to develop a variety of programs as well as to measure them.  In today’s complicated marketplace, a consultant must understand new and traditional media, the difference between efficiency and effectiveness, “likes” vs. “sales”, the dangers of digital ad fraud, etc., etc.;
  4. Apolitical and willing to tell it like it is, so candor will flourish in your relationship.  Having your consultant free to demonstrate the discipline of marketing and marketing communications will build trust and a meaningful partnership;
  5. Has an established network of marketing communications specialists who can be called in to provide solutions when necessary.

The marketing and marketing communications strategic and tactical challenges of today are growing exponentially.  But, as with our uncertain economic and political environment, putting your head in the sand isn’t a viable response.  As Will Rogers said, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” 

Gary Kullberg founded The Kullberg Consulting Group in 1994 to provide companies and nonprofits with impactful and cost-efficient methods for improving their marketing and marketing communications.  I enjoy analyzing and developing strategies, tactics, executions and measurements for small and midsized organizations.  My experience working with a variety of organizations in the B2B, B2C and nonprofit arenas has given me a deep understanding of branding and marketing ROI. Further, knowing when and how to employ traditional and new media is an outgrowth of my passion for being media neutral. I can be reached at Gary@KullbergConsultingGroup.com.

Ian Manning: How to Stay Healthy & Productive at Work

Many of us spend most of our day sitting at our desks. While that may be great for our businesses, it's not necessarily good for the body. Today we've brought in Physical Therapist and pain reducing junkie, Ian Manning of Orthocore PT, to give all of us some advice on how to stay healthy, happy, and productive, throughout our work day.

We all want to be successful in life, and in our jobs. No matter what your measurement of success may be; money, title, Instagram followers, etc…there is one thing that can certainly get in the way of your work goals…PAIN! Pain can distract you when you are working, it can keep you from sleeping, and it can lead to hours of lost time. So how do you make sure you stay pain free, focused at work, and how can you make sure you are moving well and keeping your body healthy? 

Let's start with what you are using to fuel your body. How is your water consumption? Most people who I talk to say,  “yeah, I drink tons of water.” Most people (even those that drink a “ton”) don’t drink enough. A good rule of thumb is to drink half your body weight in ounces of water in a day. Proper hydration keeps you focused throughout the day. Our brain is suspended in fluid. If you are dehydrated you can easily lose focus and make mental mistakes that will affect your job. 

What qualifies as “good movement?” If you can touch your toes (while keeping your knees straight), squat down, go up/down a couple flights of stairs, run a mile, or walk 3, you move fairly well. If any, or all, of those sound like something that would put you in the hospital…it's time to get serious about improving your fitness. Not only will focusing on your strength and flexibility prevent injuries, it will improve your productivity at work. 

So what do you do if you can’t do any, or all, of those things listed above? Let's start with flexibility. Can’t touch your toes? Here is my favorite way to improve your hamstring flexibility. Try doing 10 repetitions of this hamstring exercise, on each leg, once a day. I can guarantee that in a month you will be on your way to touching those little piggies once again!

How about squatting down? Think of how many times you sit and stand in a day. If you can’t do it properly you are just asking for a problem down the road. Let's start with proper form. When you sit down your shoulders should be over the middle of your feet with your trunk upright and your hands out in front of you. Start with performing 10 squats, twice a day, going as low as you can whilekeeping the proper form. As that gets easier, either add more repetitions or more sets. 

Lastly, let's talk about cardiovascular health. This is one of the easiest things to improve. You just need to commit to making it a part of your day. Simple solutions include going for a walk at lunch. Or, if you have a set of stairs in your house, every time you use them go up/down one more time than you need to. The best thing to do is get a buddy to help keep you accountable. Pick someone who will keep you honest and motivate you when you don’t want to do anything. Once you make it a part of your routine it will be easy. Your brain and your heart will thank you. 

Improving your health and fitness is guaranteed to increase your energy levels, make you more alert, and increase your focus. So put down that 4th cup of coffee, work on your body, and enjoy the new found success that follows!

Ian Manning graduated with his Masters degree in Physical Therapy from Northeastern University in 2004. Ian has always worked with orthopedic based injuries, starting in school with his co-op/clinical rotations then leading into his professional career as a PT. He is constantly working to continue his education through course work and staying current with research. Ian is certified through the Titleist Performance Institute (TPI) to treat golf related injuries and to improve golf performance. Please visit our Golf Performance and Rehabilitation section for more information.

ORTHOCORE PROVIDES RESEARCH BASED PHYSICAL THERAPY FOR ORTHOPEDIC AND SPORTS RELATED INJURIES

At OrthoCore Physical Therapy we will provide you with quality rehabilitation that focuses on your personal goals. We use a mixture of research supported techniques to decrease your pain, increase your strength/flexibility, and restore your functional movement. Our staff strives to educate our patients about their rehabilitation process and help them get back to their target goals and objectives.

Though we are based out of North Kingstown, although we treat patients from the greater Providence area including East Greenwich, South Kingstown, Warwick, Narragansett, Newport, Jamestown, Cranston, Westerly, and other surrounding towns.

Big SEO For Small Businesses - Online Class!

STRUGGLING WITH GETTING TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE?

Having a hard time mastering Search Engine Optimization? Not even sure what SEO is and how it will even help your business? We're so excited to announce enrollment is opening for the only SEO class you'll ever need.

In it we'll walk you through; what SEO can do for your business, understanding everything that goes into an SEO strategy, and how you can master it to drive more website traffic and more sales.

Everything you've ever needed to know about SEO and how to optimize it all in 15 easy to follow lessons that you can take in your own time and when it benefits you. Not sure you need this class? Let us tell you why you do:

  • 70% of links search users click on are organic.
  • When consumers are exposed to both search and social media influences by a brand, their overall search click-thru-rate went up by 94%.
  • The #1 driver to websites is search, beating out social media by more than 300%.
  • SEO Leads have a 14.6% close rate, while leads from advertising have a 1.7% close rate.*

*Stats courtesy of Search Engine Journal

What You'll Learn

Big SEO For Small Businesses, is a 15 module course designed to walk you through everything you need to create a comprehensive SEO strategy that will drive more traffic to your website and help convert that traffic into sales.  Learn More!

Making The Most of Your "Downtime"

We've all had those days. In fact, we're having one of those days today. There's about 12 inches of snow making it's way down all day, client meetings are cancelled, and we're pretty much caught up on work. It's a wonderful feeling to have things crossed off your To-Do List. Wonderful that is, until the guilt starts creeping in. If you're anything like us, you don't do "downtime" well. While you may be dreaming of cuddling under a blanket and mindlessly binging on Netflix, when it comes to actually doing it, you find it hard to shut your working brain off. And now it's a snowy Tuesday, and while you probably deserve a day off, you're finding it hard to get past that "I should be doing something" feeling.

Well, we're here to tell you it's ok. It's ok to take a little downtime every once and while, and it's also ok to want to make the most of it. We've got a list here for you of some of our favorite ways to take it easy, all while keeping your brain churning and your business growing.

1. Review relevant publications. Take some time to review the newest trends that are happening in your business, or better yet how to market your business. You may learn a new way to advertise, how to better optimize your current outlets, how markets are shifting, or how other businesses, like yours, are succeeding. Some of our favorites (for our industry of course)? SmartBrief - An awesome collection of business, marketing and advertising news focusing on newest and upcoming trends. Advertising Age - Check out what some of the largest companies and agencies are doing and brainstorm about how you can use similar strategies in your own business. Business Insider - After checking out a few of the entertaining op ed's, we head on over to the Advertising and Media sections to get some of the insider information on what's happening in the industry.

2. Get your learn on. Have you jumped onto the online class trend yet? If not, you're missing out on one of the best ways to learn some best practices, new marketing techniques, insider secrets and ways to inspire growth. Learn from some of the best in their business and learn the same tips and tricks they've used to grow their businesses to become major players in the market. Amy Porterfield - A former business consultant, she's completely transitioned her business into online training ranging from webinars to social media marketing. Melanie Duncan - The Pinterest queen, Melanie Duncan teaches you how to kick butt in one of the fastest revenue driving platforms on the market. Marie Forleo - The founder of B-School, Marie Forleo can help you get past any negativity or doubt that can come creeping in when you're not looking. Courtney Foster-Donahue - A little quirky, Courtney breaks down the always illusive Facebook, and how to actually create Facebook ads that work. Hub Digital - Who can forget your favorite crew from Hub Digital? With classes ranging from prepping your digital content, to blogging, to getting your website to the first page in search (that's right! Exciting stuff coming soon!) we're sharing all our best secrets that we use to propel our small business clients.

3. Plug into a Podcast. Grab your headphones and listen to some of your fav's without having to read through lengthy blogs. Better yet? Jump on a treadmill, pick up your duster, or apply a your favorite face mask, and you can now multitask growing your business while getting a little quality "you" time. Amy Porterfield - She's back, and bringing in some of her favorite friends sharing their top insider secrets. Gary Vaynerchuk - If you're not offended by swearing, Gary Vee gets real about all things social media, entrepreneurship and business best practices. The Fizzle Show - who says growing your business has to be so serious? The Fizzle Show hilariously takes on entrepreneurship and focuses on how to stay creative.

Stay Committed to Your 2017 Marketing Plan
 Learn how you can committ to a successful marketing plan in 2017 with the girls from Hub Digital Marketing.

Did you struggle with your marketing in 2016? Did you want to blog, had plans to cultivate your email list, and tried to come up with something clever to post social media? Well, you've already taken the first step towards making 2017 more successful for your business. Knowing that your digital marketing is important, and wanting to do something to better it, is key to getting you started in the right direction. 

Now it's time to do something with that drive. Make a commitment right now that you will not give up on your digital marketing this year. You are going to write engaging blogs, connect with clients on your email list, and rock your social media. Sound good? Good! Check out the video below to find out how you're going to do all of this while still having the time to run your business.

Pretty cool right? Ready to dive in? Of course you are! Click here to learn more about "How To Create a Year's Worth of Content In One Day" and see what you can do for yourself and your business for an under $20 investment.

What's Your Business' Story?

Some Friday food for thought....

 What is your business' story from Hub Digital Marketing?


noun, plural stories.

1.a narrative, either true or fictitious, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the hearer or reader; tale.
noun

1.a person's regular occupation, profession, or trade.
"she had to do a lot of smiling in her business"

synonyms: work, line of work, occupation, profession, career, employment, job, position; 

2.the practice of making one's living by engaging in commerce.
"the world of business"

synonyms: trade, trading, commerce, dealing, traffic, merchandising; 

 

Stop Waiting For The New Year!
 Why Hub Digital thinks you don't have to wait until a new year to reinvent your small business.

We can be so guilty of this. When it comes to starting any big project, committing to change, or beginning something new, we push it off for a date that "feels" right. It's never "right now" but rather "the first of the month," "the first of the year," or "on Monday." Call it OCD or just simple procrastination, but whether it's launching a new aspect of our own business business or starting a new diet, there's always a better day to do it than today.

This time of year, it's something we run into constantly with small business owners. With the mad dash to finalize current projects, boost Q4 sales or simply "make it" through the holiday season, often times new marketing campaigns get pushed to the back burner. We often have clients ask us to get back to them in the New Year when some more time opens up.

Here's the rub with that decision. Launching a new marketing plan takes time to ramp up (you're looking at a minimum of 1-3 months depending on how involved it is). It takes time to create social profiles (if you don't have them already), edit current profiles (if you already do), begin creating and populating content, beginning SEO growth strategies, split testing different messaging, and curating images and videos. By waiting until January to start the discussion, you've already put yourself at a disadvantage. Now most of your marketing initiatives won't even be going live to market until well into 2nd Quarter. 

On top of that, you may be like us. You might push EVERYTHING off until that all important starting date! Not only are you now supposed to tackle your marketing strategy on Jan 1, but you may also be putting off an overhaul of your Quickbooks, employee policies, store/office redesign or a new product launch. I don't know about you but that seems like an awful lot to handle all at one time. And often times, when you've stacked too much on your plate, what's the first thing to be pushed aside until later? Your marketing! Something so essential to selling your products or services and selling your business continually gets pushed to the backburner and before you know it, another year has gone by without a solid plan.

So here's our advice. Put aside at least 1 hour a week in Q4 to focus on your 2017 marketing strategy. Plan out your blog calendar for the year, gather some social media content ideas, and set up those new social, email or software accounts you've always wanted to jump into. Your 2017 self with thank you when you go through that list of To Do's at the beginning of the year and this has already been checked off.

The "Why" Behind Hub Digital
 Why Hub Digital is so passionate about help small business with their digital marekting in Rhode ISland.

What is your ‘WHY’?  What is your reason, goal(s), or impetus that gets you out of bed in the morning?  Your ‘WHY’ might be raising a happy healthy family, getting a degree, making a million bucks... 

Here at Hub Digital Marketing, our‘WHY’ is all about helping businesses grow through digital marketing and customized growth strategies.  Our ‘WHY’ fuels our quest for learning and growing.  Can’t stop, won’t stop!  We read, watch videos, attend webinars and online classes, and go to presentations and workshops with an almost obsessive dedication.  We practice new ideas and platforms out on ourselves, and our own business, ALL the time.  We truly enjoy meeting with people and hearing their stories.  We are always interested in learning about client’s businesses and we revel in identifying their strengths and weaknesses, their growth stories and pain points then we love working with them to identify, build, and execute growth strategies specific to each and every one of them.  We really love what we do and do what we love! 

Now you know what our ‘WHY’ is, so what about the HOW and WHAT?

Marketing…what is marketing really?  As defined by Miriam Webster:

Full Definition of marketing

  1. 1a :  the act or process of selling or purchasing in a market b :  the process or technique of promoting, selling, and distributing a product or service
  2. 2:  an aggregate of functions involved in moving goods from producer to consumer

Then there’s Digital Marketing, which really is the skeletal structure and/or foundation of everything we do – from the design and development of a website, content marketing, email marketing, social media marketing and all that goes into search engine optimization – that is ‘WHAT’ we do! Digital marketing is an umbrella term for the marketing of products or services using digital technologies, mainly on the Internet, but also including mobile phones, display advertising, and any other digital medium.   Wikipedia’s full definition.

Content is king…you’ve heard that, right?  Well, it’s true.  Content creation is the contribution of information to any media and most especially to digital media for an end-user/audience in specific contexts.  But let’s think of content as content marketing… Content marketing is the marketing and business process for creating and distributing relevant and valuable content to attract, acquire, and engage a clearly defined and understood target audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action.  

And, of course SEO (search engine optimization) is at the heart of it ALL.  Search engine optimization is a methodology of strategies, techniques and tactics used to increase the amount of visitors to a website by obtaining a high-ranking placement in the search results page of a search engine (SERP) -- including Google, Bing, Yahoo and other search engines. 

A list of WHAT we do…

- SEO Strategy and Execution
- Website Design
- Social Media Marketing and Management
- Blogging and Copywriting
- Grassroots Marketing Strategy and Execution
- Email Marketing - List Development and Template Building
- Paid Search
- Display Ad Purchase and Design
- Graphic Design

How to Respond to "That" Client
 Don't get mad, get smart. How to respond to that annoying client.

We've all been there. You've kicked butt through another day of work and are feeling pretty good about your progress. It's just about 6pm and you're finishing up a few last emails before logging off and heading to the fridge to figure out what you want to make for dinner. You've just hit "send" on the last of them, when you see that one more came through while you were writing. And it's a doozy. One of your clients just fired off an accusatory, argumentative or just plain rude email that has your blood boiling and you're seeing red. Your dinner plans have officially blown up in your face as you struggle to keep from responding with a few choice 4 letter words.

No matter what line of business you're in, you're going to run into this kind of situation eventually. Whether it be from "that" client, boss, or co-worker, someone is going to step over that boundary and express some kind of anger, disappointment or frustration towards you whether it is warranted or not. They may be disappointed in the outcome of a project, failed to appreciate your work efforts, or unfairly blamed you for something that went wrong. Your first instinct is to fire back and defend yourself from the onslaught. But you know that if you do, you're going to fall down the rabbit hole of those endless back-and-forth email chains that will leave both of you even more frustrated. So, before you type your first word, take a second to run through some of our tips on how you can better handle the situation so you can come out with your head held high.

1. Take a deep breath and count to 10. This may seem obvious and cliche, but it's one of the most important first steps. Taking a deep breath before responding to any kind of confrontation can give you just enough time to talk yourself out of that knee jerk response. Take it from me, your first gut reply most likely isn't going to be your most articulate or professional.

2. Let them know that you've received their message and will get back to them later. Instead of leaving everything out there (or even worse, responding right away), respectfully let them know that you received their email and are going to take a day, or even a few days, to work on a response. It will keep them from sending you more emails while you're working on it (which will just fan the flames) and will show you're reasonable and giving it the time it deserves.

3. Let it out. Before letting your frustration out on your client/boss/co-worker, take it out elsewhere. Go for a walk, exercise or vent to a friend or family member (someone you can trust not to repeat your conversation). Getting that jittery energy out will help you think clearer and better evaluate your next steps.

4. Get everything in perspective. Sometimes in the moment that email can seem absolutely momentous. The problem can seem so huge it feels like it's just sucking up all your energy and completely taking over your time. Here's where you have to give yourself a little tough love and shift your thinking to something a little bit more realistic. Is this the end of the world? Probably not. In 6 months, is this situation still going to be going on, or even matter? In most cases, no. Talk yourself off the ledge and give yourself an accurate view of what is really happening and how much weight it really should carry.

5. Start collecting evidence. Break down the email and begin collecting evidence to back up your viewpoint. Find old emails, reference old conversations or collect some statistics and data. Write down a couple bullet points with your perspective under each point to being to organize your thoughts. 

6. Be clear, concise and let down your defenses. It may be tempting to go on the defense, but if you do, you're going to come across as immature and irrational. Use clear language, and make your points in calm, factual ways. Don't exaggerate or embellish, but don't back down when you truly have a point to make either. And here's an important thing to remember - be willing to admit to situations where they may be right and the evidence points in their favor. Be honest with yourself, and them, even in situations where you have to swallow your pride and concede. 

7. Hit save, before sending. Don't send right after you finish. Instead, hit the save button and walk away, to re-evaluate again later. If the situation allows you to, give it a good 12-24 hours. When you look at it again, more time will have passed and your head will be even cooler. You'll be able to more accurately reflect on your language and phrasing to ensure you're 100% happy with everything you're about to say.

8. Fire and forget. As soon as you hit that send button, move on to another task. It's tempting to obsess over your email while you constantly hit refresh to see if you've gotten a response. Busying yourself with other activities will help keep your mind off of it while you await a response and keep you from wasting valuable time running through made up scenarios in your head. 

By the time the other party reads your well crafted email, chances are they will have had enough time to calm down as well and their response may be surprisingly rational. However, if they don't reply in a way that you would like them to, head on back to Step 1 and repeat the process all over again until they do.

Why You Need To Commit – To Your Marketing Strategy That Is!
 Commit to your marketing strategy to grow you business.

"After working with thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs over my career, I’ve learned that one of the most distinguishing characteristics of success is the perseverance of commitment."

What words come to mind when you think about commitment?   Loyalty, faithfulness, dedication, devotion, responsibility and obligation are the first to roll of our tongues here!  When it comes to your marketing/growth strategies, you need to stay loyal, faithful, dedicated, devoted and responsible!  You are obligated to commit to your business’s continued growth, right?

When it comes to developing a marketing strategy we can assume you’ve spent time identifying:

  1. Your differentiator/unique value proposition in your vertical, as well as your company’s vision and mission… 
  2. Your short and long term business goals… 
  3. Your available resources (the realistic amount of time, money and energy available to devote to your marketing strategy)…
  4. Your audience…
  5. And evaluating current and past marketing campaigns/efforts/budgets…

Now you have your marketing strategy and are ready to execute?  Great job!  It takes the rolling up of sleeves and a lot of work just to get here but your work isn’t over yet.  It’s time to put one foot in front of the other and commit to creating fresh content daily/weekly/monthly then get it out there through your various identified channels.  Creating a marketing calendar is key.  We recommend checking in, constantly, to identify what is working, and maybe what isn’t, what you might just need to tweak a little or shelf for awhile or maybe even trash and re-evaluate that part of the strategy.  Whether you’re evaluating specific content, times of day that you’re posting (on each individual platform as they are all different), blogging style, email campaign, results of a LeadPages campaign, Fb ad, and so on…remember it’s like a puzzle in which the image is constantly changing!

The single most important detail to keep in mind that will ensure your marketing strategy will be successful is your ability to commit.  Consistent effort and execution is the key to the success of your company’s growth.  Another important thing to keep in mind is giving campaigns enough time to prove themselves.  This is HUGE.  So often we start with the best of intentions, right?  But implementing successful marketing strategies is a lot like exercise…we know we need to do it, we know we have to stay consistent to get the results we desire but, let’s face it, it’s hard work!  At the end of a long day at work how many of us would much rather curl up on the couch with a glass of wine than hit the gym?  We understand that we’re all human, life happens and sometimes there are legitimate reasons why we can’t stick exactly to our plan.  One great aspect of quantifying what’s working and what isn’t on a daily/weekly/monthly basis is we can also look at areas where we might be doing a great job, staying consistent executing one aspect of our marketing plan but maybe there’s an area where we’re falling short…have no fear, just analyze ‘what’ it is about that task that is causing you stress.  Let’s say it’s creating your weekly blog that you’re struggling with?  Maybe it’s time to change the day, or time of day, you have set aside for that project?  Or maybe you need to update the blog calendar because those topics just aren’t speaking to your creative juices?   Or, maybe you’re really enjoying (and great at) certain parts of your company’s marketing campaign but you hate blogging and someone else on your team would be psyched to take that over?  

Here’s to your continued commitment & GROWTH!

Networking tips - how to make it less painful & more beneficial!

Since Amy is away on vacation this week, we've pulled in resident networker and women-about-town, Tuni Schartner, to break down the tips and tricks to successful networking.

 Tips on how to network successfully

 

I know many of you out there HATE the thought of having to network.  I bet some of you might have even gotten to the door of an event and literally turned around and headed back home?  I’m also willing to bet there are some of you out there, like me, that actually look forward to networking events?  Whether you’re an introvert, an extrovert, or even an ambivert – that’s actually a thing, ambiverts are those who fall relatively in the middle of being introverted and extroverted, it’s almost like being ambidextrous, but with your personality…whatever your personality type, we can all probably agree that networking to grow your business (or professional career) is important.   We’re here to give you some simple tips on how to make it less painful (for those of you that dread it) and more beneficial (for all).  Your time, money and energy are valuable - networking can and should be both fun and provide a solid ROI at the same time!  

Let’s start at the beginning, peel back the layers of this onion and get right to the heart of the topic…what does networking really mean?  One definition of networking that is perfect in this context is: to interact with other people to exchange information and develop contacts, especially to further one's career. Pretty simple right?   

Go away pain…

If you’re the type of person that is painfully shy, just isn’t super comfortable being in groups of people, or maybe you might find the mere thought of going to a networking event causes you anxiety - here are a few tips on how to alleviate the stress:

1. The Buddy System - How about finding someone to go with?  You might be able to find a colleague, a coworker, a friend or even an employee to tag along with you!  
2. S.O.S .  Ask for Help- Talk to the organizer, director, or someone involved with the event - let them know that you see the potential value in attending their event but be honest about your stress. You are not alone, they’ll understand and they’ll probably be more than happy to help!  They might connect you with one of their veteran members or an ambassador in their organization that can introduce you around and sort of stay with you.
3. Practice Relaxation Techniques – Whether you’re skilled at mindfulness practices like breathing techniques or meditation (you can easily search for tips on these) or maybe you just need a glass of wine…find something that helps you relax a bit!  I know some great networkers that are comfortable around people and even enjoy events like this but we’re all human and sometimes we’re wound a little tight…even the best of us can benefit by having some tools in our toolbox to help us relax and ease into an event!

Time is money, make it count…

Now for our top 5 tried & true tips on how to use networking to grow your business (or career):

1. Find Your Tribe - The first thing to be mindful of, and something I often recommend to colleagues or clients, is to ‘find your tribe’.  I often suggest that it’s best to try before you buy – identify different organizations that might make sense to join and/or to get involved with then see what kinds of events are available for you to attend.  Go visit, make sure the people that attend seem like the type of people you can see yourself fitting in with, the events are run in a way that works for your personality and you can see that the investment might provide a return on investment.  
2. Show Up – It’s more than just signing up for an event and physically being there.  When you’ve invested the time, money and energy to attend…you need to really be present, open and ready to make connections.
3. Be Authentic – I can’t stress this one enough!  Don’t be ‘that person’ that shows up to take 10 business cards and give 10 business cards…yucko!  We’re all people and I guarantee that if you’re authentic and open, you’ll make some pretty cool connections that turn into lasting relationships.  Most people are interesting if you take the time to listen – ask questions and be curious!
Not Everything is Black & White – Something that I believe wholeheartedly to be true is that not everything is a straight line!  For instance, you might meet me at an event and just because I might not need your service doesn’t mean I don’t know someone who does or will in the future…
4. Follow Up – You’ve identified different groups and picked events to attend.  You’ve attended, been present, authentic, curious, and you’ve made some great new connections…now what?  Follow up!  We are all different and all have different time management algorithms, habits and so on, right?  What works for me might not work the best for you but there is a basic routine you can follow then tweak along the way.  Let’s say you get home from an event, you’re energized and you’ve met 5 people that you’d like to stay connected with in hopes that it’ll develop into a lasting relationship of some sort?  Maybe you’ll become referral resources for each other or maybe it’s a great potential client for you?  Whatever the scenario, here are a few basic tips on follow-up:

5. Enter contact info into your database(s).
- Do a little social research – follow, like or connect!
- Send an email/note – I like to send an email that night or within a couple days myself letting them know ‘why’ I enjoyed meeting them (or seeing them again) and might suggest we meet for coffee, a business meeting, etc…to continue the conversation ?  
- Then stay in front of them with email campaigns, social shares/likes/favorites or retweets.

I try to go to any event with the mindset that I’ll probably run into someone that I maybe haven’t seen in awhile (yay) and that I’ll probably meet at least a couple/few people that I’ll authentically connect with - I know it also helps that I truly like people (most anyway) and find business in general fascinating.  I get that I might not be the norm, but I do know that many of these tips have helped dozens of friends and colleagues ease into networking and make it beneficial in their businesses.  I hope you’ll find a take-away here and that you’re future networking events are stress-free and bountiful!

Continuing Education For the Business Owner

Time tends to go by extremely quickly when you're in the trenches of running your own business. The day-to-day tasks of a small business can be overwhelming and take up most of your day. By the time you have a minute to reflect, a month has gone by and you've done nothing but tread water. ! The world is changing, marketing is changing, and best practices are changing, and you're left wondering how you can possibly fit more into your day? There's no way you can add anything else, like learning and implementing the newest trends in business while managing your daily to-do list. 

This is where the newest trend in continuing education can come to the rescue - online classes. Created by both real world professionals and educators, these classes are created for the busy small business owner. They are often presented in smaller modules that are easy to sneak in during the day and can range in topics from current marketing trends, time management and how to drive sales. 

The online class is one my favorite new things. It's an amazing way to pick the brains of those that are rocking it in the business world. However, there are a lot of classes out there, and it can be difficult to know which ones are worth investing in. I have a few tips on what to look for to ensure the class is top quality and will work for your needs:

  • Make sure they've implemented their techniques on their own business. The best way to tell if someone is the real deal is if they don't just teach, but actually do. Make sure they mention using their strategies on themselves, and if they give real world examples of how it was successful.
  • Get an outline of the class before purchasing. Real classes will give you a full, in-depth look of the class BEFORE making you buy it. They should walk you through the modules, clearly explain what you'll learn, and what you'll get which should give you a good idea if it's what you're looking for.
  • Make sure your personalities jive. Not only does the information need to be legit but you need to actually like the person to retain any of it. Check out some of their videos and articles to see if you like how they speak, phrases they use and if you can easily understand the way they present the content.
  • Don't be afraid to ask questions. Those disseminating and selling the information shouldn't be afraid to answer questions you have about their product. Ask them to give you more in-depth information on what's covered in the class, if it's updated as things change and how long it will take to finish the class. 

If you take a couple minutes to Google different topics you're interested in learning more about, you're bound to find a variety of classes that will fit your needs. To give you a little bit of a head start I'm breaking down my personal favorites that I can guarantee are well worth the investment.

  • Jump Start Your FB Marketing - Amy Porterfield - $197. Amy Porterfield is one of my favorite online educators and learning about FB marketing is one of the things almost all business owners need help with. This class breaks down how to optimize your FB presence as well as drive more sales and traffic through your page. 
  • Creating and Delivering 5 Figure Webinars - Amy Porterfield - $1000+. Another Amy Porterfield course, this one is a significant investment. I personally have taken this one myself and find the information completely worth the 4-figure price tag. It breaks down everything from how to use webinars to promote your business, to how to build one from scratch, to how to market it effectively. It's been a tactic that I've found has been an integral tool in promoting my business. Check out the free webinar in the link to learn more about the class before committing to see if it makes sense for your business. 
  • Power of Pinning - Melanie Duncan - $297. A great option for those looking to explore Pinterest and learn how this platform can be used to help drive traffic to websites and sell products directly through the platform. It also dives into Pinterest SEO and how you can optimize your pins not just for Pinterest but Google as well.
  • Instagram With Intention - Hilary Rushford - $97. An awesome class that breaks down Instagram and how to create share worthy photos for it. It also talks about how to properly use hashtags as well as get more followers. The only downside is it doesn't run continuously all year long but you can sign up for her emails and you'll get notice as soon as it opens up again.
  • Big SEO For Small Businesses - Amy Fields - $179. I couldn't write an article about online classes without adding a shameless plug for my own! Big SEO utilizes a series of techniques that I've implemented on my own website as well as countless client websites to help drive your website up in search to then drive more traffic and sales without spending money on ads. I, and many other people, think it's pretty great (if I do say so myself) so click on the link above to watch a video and learn more!
Guest Blog: Working ‘alone together’ at The Hive RI & why we believe in cross-pollination…

Today we're feature a guest blog by Tuni Schartner of TRS Strategies and Queen Bee of the co-working space, The Hive. Below she breaks down the benefits of coworking and how it can help grow a small business.

cross-pol·li·na·tion  [kraws-pol-uh-ney-shuhn, kros-]  noun

1.Botany . the transfer of pollen from the flower of one plant to the flower of a plant having a different genetic constitution. Compare self-pollination.

2.a sharing or interchange of knowledge, ideas, etc., as for mutual enrichment; cross-fertilization.

Well, clearly we’re relating to the latter definition here!  

At The Hive we have a mix of small business owners, writers, artists, technical folks, marketing professionals, remote sales people, entrepreneurs, scientists and many more. We respect everyone's right to privacy, but offer the opportunity to share what it is we all do. The person working next to us might be able to design our logo or write our next press release and conversely we might be able to help them write their business plan, or handle their books!

The Hive was established with a mission to always encourage collaboration between members and so far it’s working.  We’ve been (officially) open for 3 years and what has already happened here is pretty awesome!

We believe that a Co-working environment in general, and The Hive specifically, is the perfect place to set up shop for a small business looking to grow organically. Co-working spaces are an environment that promoted positive energy and new ideas – innovation through collaboration. They offer contacts to refer to customers and clients to when they needed things your business can’t offer offer. They offer people who you can throw ideas around with, discuss some of the newest trends with and discover how you can bring those to your clients. As a collaboration there is always a small business owner around to help guide you through the difficult and sometimes confusing process of starting, or running a business in Rhode Island. 

Coworking is a relatively new concept for Rhode Islanders, but it’s a concept that encourages original thought, new ideas, and business development. It fosters independent growth in a heartening environment. It’s the right place for many to begin, or sometimes continue, their journey of business ownership.

Based in the historic Lafayette Mill complex in North Kingstown, Rhode Island, The Hive RI coworking space provides inexpensive working space, conference and meeting areas and professional amenities such as copy machines, printers as well as high speed internet. Local artists, businesspeople, lawyers, engineers and other professionals come together at The Hive to work independently, but not alone. The Hive is open from 9-5, Monday through Friday, welcomes walk-ins and offers affordable rates for daily, weekly and monthly use. The Hive hosts weekly lunchtime networking events and is also available for group events at non working hours. Please visit http://www.thehiveri.com for more information on co-working, or www.millatlafayette.com for information on spaces available. 

I'm Sick... Now What?

So, I woke up this morning with a fever, sore throat, head congestion and with just an overall crappiness feeling. Great. I was sick... now what?

As an entrepreneur, my gut instinct is to power through. Who has time to be sick? I have meetings to attend, emails to get out, and a general business to run. I pulled myself out of bed and prepared to hit-the-ground running. However, very quickly into brushing my teeth I realized it just wasn't going to happen today. I felt dizzy, run down and completely exhausted. On top of that, I realized that no one wants to be around someone who was sick. Rolling up to a meeting blowing your nose is no way to make friends. I wasn't going to the office today.

But here's the issue - As a solo-entrepreneur, if I'm not there things don't get done, and I know a lot of other business owners are in the same boat. It can be tempting to down some Dayquil and head out the door (and sometimes you have to do just that), but sometimes you HAVE to pay attention to what your body is telling you. If you're sick, take some to let your body heal  (and please, spare the general public exposure to your germs). Below I'm breaking down some of my tips to give yourself a sick day, without feeling like you're falling behind.

1. Cancel your meetings ASAP - Listen, no one wants to be around someone with a cold. Don't worry about having to cancel a meeting at the last minute. I've found most people will actually thank you for sparing them from having to be around a walking sneeze ball. As soon as you decide you're staying home, reach out to all your meetings and ask to reschedule them. If you absolutely MUST talk with them that day, see if you can change your in-person meeting to a conference call from home. 

2. Tackle your admin work - I know, I know. We're supposed to be resting. But if you're anything like me, there's no way you can put the computer down for a day without getting stressed out about falling behind. Spend the time knocking things off your admin list like writing your blogs, cleaning up your quickbooks or responding to lingering emails. These are things that are easily done from the couch while sipping some tea. You'll feel accomplished, yet won't over exert yourself.

3. Load up on those essential vitamins - My first priority when I start to feel sick is to figure out how to get better quickly to keep my days out of work down to a minimum. The second I start to feel a little icky I load up on Vitamin C and Zinc (my favorite is Emergen-C Immune+). These power houses kick germs butts and help you get over colds faster so you can get back to the grind.

4. Take lots of breaths (and breaks) - For me, a sick day requires constant reminders that sometimes even business owners need a day to rest. It can be hard to let go of the guilt for wanting to take a nap in the afternoon. But I'm learning to take a deep breath and let go, when I feel that stress and anxiety start to rise. While I will never be able to step away from the computer for a full day, I've learned to take breaks when needed. As soon as I'm starting to feel a little run down or tired, I put the computer to the side and give myself 45 minutes to an hour to rest. By setting a time to get back to work, it eases that no-work guilt, and allows me to fully enjoy my breaks, helping me to get back in fighting shape quickly.

 

Amy Levesque Fields: Entrepreneurial Woman to Watch

Article Courtesy of Rhode Island Small Business Journal.

From a young age, Amy Levesque Fields was taught by her father that “there is no greater pride than owning something that you can call your own.” Shaping her career path around the firm belief that a person can’t be honorable in life unless they are honorable in business, Amy always knew that she would come to own her own business someday.

“To me, there is no one braver than an entrepreneur, and I want to help them thrive by successfully promoting their products and services online,” said Amy. It is in this spirit and frame of mind that Amy channeled her strengths in digital marketing and pursued her dream of becoming a small business owner. With a forward-thinking mind and a strong belief in the necessity of effective digital practices in business, Amy founded Hub Digital—a full-service marketing business—to assist small businesses in Rhode Island grow and gain a better understanding of the online and digital world.

For Amy, her mission has always been greater than just driving success and establishing a profitable business, it includes empowering other small business owners and showing them that they can hold their own in the marketplace. In the past year, Hub Digital has tripled their sales. To further growth, Amy has developed a series of online classes geared towards teaching clients about a wide variety of topics so that they can maintain their digital practices more efficiently. These classes are offered at more affordable price points, and come broken in smaller modules to accommodate the busy schedules of business owners. Taken independently, these classes are meant to empower the small business owner and help them gain a better understanding of all aspects of digital marketing. Hub Digital’s online marketing services—including website design, blogging, copywriting, grassroots marketing strategies, email marketing, graphic design, and display ad purchase/design—continue to help transform Rhode Island into a place where small businesses can thrive.

Amy is the winner of the 2016 RISBJ Entrepreneurial Women to Watch Awards in the Startup Category.

Can I Ever Take a Break?

As I'm writing this I'm prepping for my upcoming 2 week delayed Honeymoon to Antiqua. Almost every fiber of my being is looking forward to this trip. And when I say "almost" it's because there's a little tiny part of me that is scared to shut off my phone and close my computer for 10 whole days. How will people remember I exist if I'm not showing up in their newsfeed or popping up in their inbox for almost 2 weeks!? I'm nervous that by stepping away from my computer, the world will continue to go on without me. I'll be missing out on major potential clients and taking a huge step back on any progress I've made. 

I'm sure many small business owners feel the way I do before leaving for a trip. You're so ingrained in your day-to-day activities that are keeping your business alive and thriving, that the idea of putting them on hold for a little while seems terrifying. Here's the secret I learned though: The world will continue to go on without you, and that's ok!

Listen, I always teach the importance of consistency. You have to stay on top of new content to stay relevant. But I also understand that we all need a break sometimes. We all need a few moments to rest and recharge. Countless studies have shown the benefits of vacations that range from physical health to mental health to creative capabilities. The statistics are there. Taking a vacation is necessary to keep us sane and excited about running our business. The question now becomes: How can you, as a business owner, take those much needed days off without sabotaging your whole digital strategy?

1. Schedule, schedule, schedule. This day in age you can schedule everything from your blog posts, to your Facebook posts, to your email campaigns. Utilize any in-platform options you can or look into a program like Hootesuite that can schedule out your posts on multiple platforms all at once. The bonus? Hootesuite offers FREE 30 day trials. Sign up and schedule posts before you leave and then cancel when you get back (unless you want to keep it of course!) for no additional marketing costs. Writing blogs and content all at once for a couple of weeks can be time consuming (trust me, I'm knee deep in it right now) but the payoff will come when you're not trying to find WiFi at your resort to get that Facebook post up. 

2. Find something fun to write about. Not every social media post has to be about something serious and educational or completely related to your business. When trying to schedule 2 weeks worth of posts, you're brain is quickly going to become overwhelmed trying to think up topics. Not to mention, chances are the content scheduled at the end of your vacation is going to be old news by the time it goes out to your audience. And that's OK! For the time you're away mix in some informative articles with something fun, lighthearted or inspirational. Search around for funny memes or quotes that can add a little levity to your page and save the timely stuff for when you get back.

3. Find a moderator. Once our posts are up and scheduled, we often forget about the moderation that goes into social media. Your pages will be working while you're away collecting likes, comments and questions. It's important not leave your audience hanging. Find a trusted co-worker, employee or even friend that owes you a favor. Either give them your logins or their own access to your accounts and ask them to check in on them once per day. Give them specific instructions on how you would like them to reply to different types of comments and let them know it's OK if they don't know the answer to someone's questions. Have them reply or private message the individual that you are out of the office but will respond promptly when you return.

4. Allow yourself time to check in. We all know completely unplugging is not going to happen. You wouldn't be a successful entrepreneur if you were fine with just walking away from your business for an extended period of time. Allow yourself some time to check in to make sure everything is running smoothly. Schedule in 30 minutes every other day (or every day if you need more reassurance) where you can check your social media and email. I find early morning before heading to breakfast works for me. I pull up my alarm on my phone and schedule it ring at a set time. I then use this time to put out any small fires, respond to emails and check my voicemails. I try to keep that time short (30 minutes is usually good) and let people know that I received their questions or inquiry and will respond in full when I return. This allows me to more successfully enjoy the rest of my day knowing everything is good on the home front.