Search Engine Optimization

Say “What’s your SEO strategy?” to most new business owners and the invariable response is best likened to a deer caught in the path of an oncoming truck’s headlights. Many people think they can get away with a one-time SEO activity, when an on-going strategy is what is really required.

To set the stage for this topic, I wil describe my initial foray into the world of SEO.  Before you begin to even think about SEO, you need to be clear on several items. You must clearly define “who” your ideal customer is. This involves understanding their profile, what they do, their age, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Try to build personas for them. Have conversations with real people like them. Once you have a clear picture of your ideal client, figure out how much of that market is on Facebook. You can use the Facebook Ad tool to find out how many people are in a city, state, zip code, or country. This tool provides an instant updated view of the Facebook community and if you think that Facebook is only being used by kids…well then you have been sleeping for the last three years. Likewise if you think that Linked-in is where the real business gets done and not Facebook…think again.  I believe that people engage with Facebook and their “egos” engage with Linked In. Personally I would rather engage with as much of my clients or potential clients as possible and not just their “business self”.

Still asking why Facebook?  Because you can create a Facebook page for your business for free. No web-hosting and no web designer required. The process is free and only takes a few minutes to set (once you have your strategy defined that is). You can share the new page with your existing Facebook friends and you can leverage the site to find information to push to your target market using Twitter or Google Alerts. I will re-iterate…all of this is FREE. You can become the expert on what your target market is looking for and republish that information to them in just minutes each day.

What does this have to do with SEO you ask? Your free Facebook page is exposed to the Internet search engines, just like a website.  The words that you use to talk about the interesting things you find are picked up by Search Engines. This is why knowing what SEO words resonate with your target market is so important.

To figure out what keywords work for you, employ the Google Adword tool to find out what SEO terms are used by your target customer. Start using those words in your posts and reposts.  Remember to stay on brand, be authentic, and have some fun. Watch your weekly site stats to see how many people you are reaching.

It took six months of work to get my website to the point that it is now and it is still only a working prototype with almost no traffic.  I promoted my Facebook page one week ago and more people have interacted with it in the last week than have been to my website in the last thirty days.  My website traffic was tenfold higher the day I promoted the Facebook page thanks to traffic driven to the home page link on FaceBook.

Why is this the case? In my research on Encore Entrepreneurs using Adwords, I found that no one is looking for that information.   According to one survey, there are 12 million potential Encore Entrepreneurs out there; but if you search for the term in Adwords you get just 36 monthly searches for that term as opposed to 7.4 million searches for “small business”.  So, while people might intend to grow up to be an EE someday, they are not currently looking for that in their search engine.

More interestingly, I work with people to look at retirement in a revolutionary way. One would think that boomers would be all over that…NOT! Zero! Nada! However, “Retirement New” generated 135,000 monthly searches.  It is not about what we call something, it is what the market calls it that matters.  Back in the 90’s, in a product management role, I struggled with defining the market. Now it is at our fingertips, we simply have to use the tools we are given.  To play with Adwords just go to Google,  sign in with your ID and set up a free account, then get started.

So, before you hire someone to tell you what you need for SEO, do some research. Remember, the best thing about all of this is that the Google and Facebook tools are free.  It costs you nothing and there is no commitment. You can always hire someone later and armed with this knowledge, you’ll make better decision on who to hire and what to expect. This brief blog post is certainly not meant to be a complete description of what you need to do but it is designed to point you in the right direction. If you want more information, consider attending our upcoming seminar for much more details, tips, tricks and planning tools. If you take just one thing away today, let it be this: SEO is a process that must become part of your overall marketing toolkit. It is not a one-off project that can be completed and then forgotten. As a business owner it is critical for you to understand and be involved in the ongoing process.

We will be doing a seminar series on the three pillars of marketing for today’s star-ups including the topics of Internet Marketing, Social Media and Referral Networking monthly. To get on our newsletter list and stay informed about upcoming events, send an email request.  Next week we will talk about referral marketing for your start-up business.  If all this is old hat to you and you are still stuck drop me an email, I am networked to a number of SEO experts and Internet Marketing Mavens that will be happy to help you out.

Social Media, Internet Marketing, Referral Marketing – oh my….

I get email promotions every day about how to be successful in the launching of my new business.  Most of these communications seem designed to leverage fear, uncertainty and doubt.  They are particularly aimed at baby boomers, employing the concept that we are too out of touch with today’s reality (read: stupid) to be able to come up with our own social media and internet marketing strategies. And honestly, until recently the only thing that I could do with SEO (Search Engine Optimization, the major enabler for Internet Marketing other than newsletters) is spell it correctly (admittedly sometimes a feat unto itself) but all that has changed…

Most boomers were taught to read when they went to school. I realize that today many question if that is still the case.  We were also taught to do research in Libraries, using the Readers Guide to Periodical Literature and a Card Catalogue.  When it came time to turn in term papers, we used manual typewriters and white out.  If were able to figure all that out with very little help from adults who raised us without sharing that they loved us “just the way we are” but having no compunctions admonishing that “we must be seen and not heard”, then surely we can figure out Facebook, Search Engine Optimization and how it fits in with what we were raised on which was Referral Marketing.

Readers of this blog know that I am all about authentic “empirical learning”.  One thing that I have learned and both Presidential candidates are re-learning, is do not give off the cuff remarks to anyone. Someone will see them and forward it on, re-tweet it, re-blog it, post it…and in the process, distort the original intent beyond belief. We learned this concept via the game of “telephone tag” and with the advent and prolific use of the Internet, it just becomes that much easier.

An example is an earlier blog entry in which I talked about the death of a great aunt and named her. As a result, two of the relatives of the person who took her life came out of the woodwork to process their own budding awareness of the event which occurred so long ago. This was unexpected, possibly bad but probably actually good, and most definitely, unintended. Key lesson to be learned: when writing blog entries it is best to stay on track with your message.

In reviewing the statistics on my nascent web site and blog, I see very little traffic. However it has led to business and referrals. Why? Because the people that have  visited were looking at the site because I, or someone that knows me, sent them there based on a conversation. It has, therefore, fulfilled my desire to describe who I am to others.  This effort of just getting a domain name along with the process of beginning to craft and share a message has been valuable to the few who have seen it. Yet in looking at the site stats, I came to two conclusions: 1.) I need a more effective SEO strategy, and 2.) I need  a Social media strategy that gets people to my site from Facebook and other social media sites.

There are numerous consultants out there that will charge $500 or more to put up a Facebook page, or you can buy a Facebook Marketing for Dummies Book for about $25 and start to play with it yourself. As in anything else in life, it is either time or money, a day of your time and a few dollars or paying someone else for their “expertise.” The question you should be asking is what you are going to do to the site tomorrow.  The net – net, as a work colleague of mine once said, is consistency. Interesting content to your target audience pushed out on a relatively constant schedule. Many sites that I have reviewed that people paid good money to have built unfortunately had no consistency and were not very interesting.

So, in order to build consistency, you need content. Even the most prolific of us sometimes simply have nothing to say. In such times (as often as they may occur), leveraging existing content that is consistent with your websites theme is a useful tactic. Repurposing of content, adding your own insight and perspective, can help get the message out to a broader readership base and is one of the main principles behind the staggering effectiveness of communication via the Internet today.  How do you find something to re-post or post? I use two tools, Google alerts and Stumbleupon (an iPad app – also a website).  I use both tools for key-worded items like “Encore Entrepreneurs”, “Pittsburgh Technology”, etc. for my alerts. I use topics like “Business”, “Computers”, and “Spirituality” from Stumbleupon.  I spend less than thirty minutes a day reviewing these alert emails. If I miss a day, I delete the alerts and move on. However the e-mails in my corporate Gmail account remind me to review what I might otherwise dismiss or forget. This can be very beneficial on the days that “life” happens and things just seem to get away from you. Another helpful tip is to use a separate email address to subscribe to the alerts to keep my primary business address cleaner.

This is also an effective way to understand some of what is interesting to your target market. Try sending out the content and see where it goes. If something gets “likes” and is reposted, it must have resonated. If not, then either no one is seeing it or it was simply not very interesting.  When I taught executives how to use a personal commuter in the 1980’s they were afraid to touch it, my children however mastered it in days when it was introduced to our home.  To learn new techniques as adults, we have to become like little children and play. Don’t be afraid to try something new or look stupid. You will learn from the process and be able to share how much smarter you are for the journey.

Once you have created a Facebook Page for your business, and made it public, that page gets picked up by search engines.  Perhaps you found this blog entry from my onCOREventures Facebook page. We will go deeper into Facebook strategy creation in a later post. I will deal with next step, Search Engine Optimization, in my next blog entry.

Thinking from the End

It might seem counter-intuitive, but when creating a start-up it is important to ask – what is my exit strategy?  Why?  Because without an exit strategy it is easy to never build value into your business venture.  Many people running small businesses complain that they wake up in the morning realizing that they are working for a tyrant – themselves.

Having an exit strategy allows the small business owner to always be aware of the value of his or her business.  It turns the business into an asset – making it possible to sell the business in the future.  This is especially true for Encore Entrepreneurs – who will want to sell their business when they finally are ready for the fourth stage of life – probably in their eighties as they finally “kick back” and relax and reprocess their long and fulfilling life as they prepare for their final transition.  Without this exit strategy planned into their business planning from the start – a late life business owner could really feel trapped in their business and regret their decision to start it as they toil day after day.

At onCOREventures in our Authentic Launch Process we validate business approaches at the first step of planning them. We work with our cleints to build in the exit from the beginning.  To do this, our Validation phase starts with Backroom Management Services “8 P’s” process in which we look at Purpose, Product, Price, Place, Promotion, Production, People and Profit. We then look at the underlying product assumptions and they are expanded into a fully operating company model including the definition of an exit plan for the business – how is value built with this venture launch?

We build this model from the assumptions on how the business will operate BEFORE we create all of the detailed business plans, launch plans and product creation steps.  Having this baseline look at how the business will function in terms that new business owners can understand allows us to alway come back to this baseline as we learn more and more about the business as we continue with the validation phase of our program.

However you decide to launch your afternoon of life business – make sure you know how you are getting out of it.  For a complimentary call to review your business ideas please contact me.

 

Masculine and Feminine Energy in Start-ups

I have taken the last four weeks off from the blog world of our site.  Sometimes life just happens. Recently, launching my networking efforts, the old fashioned, real world ones, has been the focus. During this process, I stumbled upon a spiritual blog which prompted an interesting realization.

I have often gone off the deep end trying to understand the Jungian concepts of the masculine and feminine within each of us. This particular rabbit-hole quickly leads to “mental masturbation” or “thinking about thinking.”   Like most people in the second half of life; balance is of critical importance to me.  The blog linked to above talks about the concept of balance when applied to the different gender forces that influence our behaviors and capabilities as complete human beings. Related back to my current focus, this resonates to me as learning to leverage the feminine energy of creation along with the masculine energy of outreach into a balanced dance of driven and guided innovation.

I work with my start-up clients in a three phase process; Vision, Validate and Venture Launch.  The Vision stage is very much feminine energy; it’s all creation, all the time. It quickly becomes easy to feel somewhat out of balance, because in this phase we are not doing anything outside our small circle of friends and advisors.

In the Validation phase, much of the work is still inward focused and feminine with just a smidge of masculine energy added in the form of risk based outward thinking to allow for figuring out how to let the creation manifest in the form of a potentially viable business.

The final stage, Venture Launch tends to draw almost exclusively on masculine energy, if we are not careful to remember the concept of balance. We must be consistent in looking for the advantages and avoiding the potential pitfalls of either too much or not enough of either masculine or feminine energy. In my own case, I began to fall out of balance with all of the networking I have been doing. I left myself no time left for creation.  When I read that blog entry last week, I began to schedule some time to get the “fun” creative tasks back into my life; things like writing this blog and beginning to define new programs to be launched in the fall.

I first learned about the idea of interior masculine and feminine energy influences Dr. Chuck Gallagher who was working with Marriage Encounter at the time. He described living while relying solely upon masculine energy or feminine energy as being akin to flying a jet airplane with only one engine. It requires a great deal of work to keep the plane headed in a straight and balanced direction. That was over twenty five years ago and finally, I feel like I have figured out what that means and how to implement balancing masculine and feminine energy in my daily life.

The good news here is that for people in the second half of life that “have to” work at authenticity and balance, it is relatively easy to do within the context of launching the life you were born to live – AT LAST.  The idea is to balance your creative efforts with your business efforts, thereby increasing and enhancing the output of both. Isn’t that why creatives want to launch a late life business in the first place?

 

Did we make a difference?

I have been researching the third stage of life, what I call Life 3.0 for some time now. A trend which I am finding consistent is that the “reporting” on what “boomers” are doing with their lives is centered around “senior stuff.” This gives the impression that we are solely focused on creating systems, products, and programs to take care of frail, brittle, or fat and incapacitated dithering idiots as they play out an endless loop of remembering the past and float uselessly through their remaining days on Earth.  Things like elder care shopping and enrichment services which will benefit our even older “greatest generation” outliers still hanging around and will serve to sustain us if our children (assuming we had any) don’t step up to the plate to care for us in our late years.

Do we really think that the generation that invented the VCR, cell phones, the personal computer, video games, the iPOD, the iPAD, the SUV, etc. is ready, willing, or able to go to go gently into that good night? Do we have no choice now but to become all caregiving – all the time?

I have written about the Shift, sharing that most of us spent Life 2.0 doing what we must do for our children, and that it is a natural and necessary thing to Shift.  But what if we had always lived a life OnCore? Some of us, like Bob Dylan who just awarded the Medal of Freedom, have never strayed far from the path we set together in our youth. He, and a handful of others, have served as a constant reminder, a voice in our heads whispering the truth while we move sedated through the Matrix. Perhaps we have not truly lived in the full expression of these inner values but many at least have remained true to ourselves in the way in which we approached or attempted to shape our reality. Do we then fully Shift? As I’m now learning – maybe not.

To explain this concept further – I am a product guy. My first major product was the creation of an IT organization and the resulting infrastructure of a retailer. My second stint was a series of software products, my third was the creation of an Internet Based product, my fourth was my photography. Now I am creating a product around coaching and the services needed to support Encore Entrepreneurs in creating their own ventures.

Have I really shifted? Absolutely yes in how I access my core values and apply my innate strengths.  But maybe not so much in what I do with them.  Frankly, I have always been operating in my sweet spot. If not, I would never have been as successful as I was.  So what about boomers that have, like me, been very successful in Life 2.0? What are they going to do now when they are focused on giving back to society?

For example let’s take a software engineer who created video games for a living in Life 2.0. What will she do when she thinks about helping people live a better life?  How will she remain relevant to her world today?  Remember the late sixties? Everything had to be “relevant.”  Life has always been, and forever will be, about relevance. So what is relevant to our engineer today as she ages?  I don’t know, but she certainly does and what she creates when combines her gift of software engineering with her passion and purpose, will be amazing and gratifying to both her and to society. Something tells me it will be outside the limited scope of those currently reporting on the state of the elder union.

Why will this happen?  Because our engineer is retaining her relevancy. She is keeping active. She is remaining connected to her environment. She has changed her diet and has taken up meditation. She does not trust that the establishment would take care of her – she  never believed the “older” generation.  Growing up in the fifties and early sixties, she was told to hide under her school desk in the event of a nuclear attack. As if that would seriously help the situation! She, like most of us, never believed that that generation would be leaving the word in any kind of stability. Hell, she never thought she would be alive at thirty, figuring the planet would be in a nuclear winter by that time. Suddenly finding herself in her thirties, surprised to be still alive, she started a family and entered the matrix in order to provide for them. Now, the children are grown and time is ripe for leaving the matrix. It’s time to stop cooking meals for the kids and start crafting tools for a new reality.

It’s my role to help our engineer, and others like her, define that new product or venture, take it to market and help solve the real problems we are finding in our world. Like Jim Kirk says at the end of Start Trek Generations “Did we do itDid we make a difference?”  We are a generation not interested in being in the Nexus. Hell no we won’t go….into retirement!

Encore Entrepreneurs

According to a Met Life study, 12 million Americans between the ages of 44 and 70 want to start either small businesses or non-profits, create jobs, and meet community needs. Are you one of these folks?

Michael Gerber talked years ago about the myths surrounding entrepreneurs in his book “E-Myth”.  Though Michael and the E-Myth folks are now headed in separate directions, both work to address how difficult it is to be an entrepreneur and consequently, why you really need their services to start and sustain a viable business.  Their processes include following structured procedures and utilizing low cost coaches and consultants to “help” you be successful.  The rationale is that most entrepreneurs are not able to maintain focus on what is important to their business and need to learn how to be more disciplined.  We fully agree that these points are important.

At OnCore Ventures we are laser focused on the needs of the entrepreneur who is either building an ‘encore venture” or wants to mold an existing effort into being aligned and on-core to who they are. To this end, we have created programs secure in our belief that everything you need to know about how to create your venture already exists deep inside you.  We believe the progress and procedure are very important.  However, we also know that how you “show up” is a key indicator and of paramount importance to your success.

If you currently are, or want to someday become, an Encore Entrepreneur, we suggest you look at the two key factors of energy resonance and engagement level. Both are measured in the Energy Leadership Index (ELI) assessment. Designed by Bruce Schneider, author of “Energy Leadership”, the ELI identifies your E-Factor. Schneider teaches that there are seven distinct levels of energy resonance, which can also be understood as awareness or consciousness. For potential entrepreneurs, this individually unique E-Factor, is a key-determining indicator of your potential for success. Understanding your unique “normal operating” energy level, what triggers a decrease in this level, and how to raise it up again, is critical to your ability to successfully manifest a venture that is OnCore for you.

Bruce started a small business coaching practice, then built a coach training program, finally crafting an assessment based primarily on increasing the engagement and leadership of people in business.  His book deals specifically with the challenges of running a small business. The new class of encore entrepreneurs are all looking to create small businesses that “meet community needs” which Bruce believes indicates a relatively high level of resonating energy. This is an example of just one of the many components that the E-factor can confirm the presence of in your own make-up. As an Encore Entrepreneur, you are most likely interested in leveraging your new venture to give back to the community. If you are already engaged in a business, you probably designed it with that same pay-it-forward mentality.

Michael Gerber’s newest book on “Awakening the Entrepreneur Within” indicates that the single most important factor contributing to success in the design of an entrepreneurial venture is the focus on the good to others as opposed to self-fulfillment.  This would seem to be a qualification for Encore Entrepreneurs in providing services to the community. Likewise Phil Libin, CEO of Evernote shares that “The chances are you are going to fail, at least financially. But if you say ‘yes, even if my product just changes the world a little bit,  it is still the best way I can spend the next 10 years’, then go and be an entrepreneur.” At OnCore Ventures we are in the business of making sure you do not fail so that you can continue to make a difference in the world.

I have seen this in my own life. Five years ago, I decided to build my encore business around my photographic art creation. Now – I am a very good photographer however, there are many very good photographers. In retrospect that venture was predicated on two failed ideas. The first is that my focus was selfish. I was operating under a “what’s in it for me” type attitude. To me it seemed it was finally my turn to do what I wanted to do – without consideration of other factors. The other problem is more core to my being. I was raised with two limiting beliefs that stem unintentionally from my parents laudable desire to install their own values and assumptions within me. They, and so I, believed that “only girls could be artists” and that “there is no money in art”.  As a boy and wanting money, these limiting beliefs seriously impacted my ability to create and sell art as a profession. It was not that I was unable to succeed, it was that my often unconscious beliefs prohibited me from allowing my own success.

If I had taken the ELI back in 2007 before starting that venture, I would have uncovered, and thereby removed the power from, those beliefs and attitudes. Going through the ELI process, allowed me to become aware of those energy blocks and consequently they no longer control me. So today I can be an artist if I choose. But, as is often the way of life, now that I know more about myself, I understand that I would rather help 12 million encore entrepreneurs avoid the mistakes I made, understand their true potential, and successfully create their own “OnCore Venture.”

I want to help these folks for a very specific reason. I believe that the world needs these community-focused businesses. Statistics say that 80% of small businesses fail in the first five years. This roughly translates to the idea that 10 of the 12 million potential entrepreneurs will fail unless they uncover the genesis of their limiting beliefs, the gremlins that say they are not good enough, the source of their energy blocks that prohibit their success when they launch their encore venture.

So – if you are already, or think you want to be, an “Encore Entrepreneur” contact me to take the ELI today and find out your E-factor. As a certified professional coach who is also certified to perform the ELI assessment, I am solely focused on helping people launch successful OnCore Ventures.  I will assist you in understanding if your current make-up is conducive to being a successful Encore Entrepreneur, and if you’re not quite there yet, we can work together to make the necessary changes.

The MetLife study indicates that of the 12 million potential entrepenuers, most were afraid to begin because they knew that they might fail. The ELI costs less than $500 and will not only help identify potential failure points, but also guide you in the right direction to avoid these traps from the start. You will learn more about yourself in the one hour debrief than you have ever learned in an hour of your time before. The ELI tells you what blocks you have to overcome and gives you the tools to get over those blocks and back to building your business.

The ELI helps you decide if you are in the 20% that will succeed – and if you are – you will go and do just that.  But if you are in the 80% that would fail without some additional work, the ELI process will show you exactly what you need to do in order to succeed. The world needs the 12 million encore entrepreneurs that are ready to give back to society. The world needs you. As baby and near baby boomers, we have been blessed beyond belief with gifts that the world has given to us. Why not find out how you can give back to the world while meeting your encore entrepreneurial desire and creating your own OnCore Venture?