ON THE BLOG: Are You Underpricing Yourself Out of Business

Pricing is a tricky topic, especially for entrepreneurial newbies. And if you\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'re committing any of these 3 pricing no-no\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s, you could be pricing (or underpricing) yourself out of business. More »

ON THE BLOG: Noam Chomsky Walks Into My Bar (An Unconventional Lesson in Branding)

Brand visibility and recognition, clearly communicated value, relatable and attractive for the prospective audience to engage with: a perfect (and slightly unconventional) lesson in the simplicity and straightforwardness of effective personal branding. More »

 

WELCOME TO ASPYRE SOLUTIONS

Entrepreneurship. Small Business. Freelancing. Changing the look and feel of what defines the work that we do, the careers we build, the people we work with and the purpose we fulfill. That's what we're all about. We're a community of big-picture, creative visionaries, bringing projects and entrepreneurial ventures to life, creating profitable and sustainable businesses, and building a new kind of work-life balances that honors who we are on a personal, professional and creative level. I write about the journey, and the destination, so come on aboard.

-DANA LEAVY-DETRICK | Chief Creative Scribe

How to Follow Up After the Interview or Application

As a resume writer, I’m often called upon to create communications like follow up and thank you letters my clients can utilize for corresponding after an interview, or following up an a resume application. And good follow up is key – it reminds hiring managers that you’re not only interested in the position, but you consider the role a top priority among your prospects, and it helps you remain on their radar in a massive sea of candidates.

Here are a few marketing scripts that you can utilize when following up on a resume application submission, and following up after an interview.

Building a Solid Brand Presence Across Social Media

For many businesses, social media is a valuable promotional and brand-building component of your marketing strategy, and surely that concept is nothing new. But as a business owner, freelancer, or independent brand, are you leveraging it’s power, reach, and influence to the best of its ability? I know it took me a while to really grasp just how broad the capabilities of social media ran, and where my business and brand fit into that. There are seemingly endless possibilities around what you can do and how you can engage through social media, none of which will prove particularly effective unless you establish a strong, cohesive brand presence that illustrates the value your brand offers to your target market.

Exploring brand building across social media is really an important strategy for job seekers, freelancers and small businesses alike, as we’re all operating as individual brands looking to target a specific audience and deliver a clear message around the value we can offer. As a business, there are several key strategies you’re tapping into by streamlining your content and creating a consistent online presence through your social media profiles efforts.

My Virtual Business Planning Retreat: A Creative, Analytical, & Awesome Exercise

I’m part of an accountability/mastermind group with two other women who, like me, are owners of service-based small businesses.  Our group serves as a unique platform for bouncing ideas, sharing best practices, and providing feedback to one another on various areas like marketing, operations, staffing, administrative, financial planning, growth planning, and creative strategy.

As busy business owners juggling full client rosters, marketing initiatives, and a bevvy of other responsibilities to keep our respective ships sailing smoothly, we often talk about the challenge of finding the time to sit down and truly focus, focus, focus on setting goals for the upcoming quarter and year.  My colleague Tracy came up with the idea a few weeks back to do a “virtual business planning retreat”, having heard about the idea from someone in her network who had done the same and had success.

We agreed to block off the entire Monday strictly for business planning, strategizing, and creative goal setting to get ourselves, and our businesses, good and ready for Q4 and Q1 of 2014.  This meant no working on existing projects, no worrying about what’s already on our plates, and making arrangements ahead of time to deal with any impending or new workflow that came up.  The day was to be reserved whole-heartedly for business planning, if this was going to work to best of its ability!

Tips for Streamlining Your Business

Few things make a business run as smoothly and sustainably as streamlining your processes.  Not only does streamlining things push you to utilize your time, energy, and resources in the most effective way possible, but it also positions your business for attainable growth and scale.  Running a solo operation is nice, but so is the ability to add additional staff down the road as you grow and require more man power.

I’ll admit, the prospect of adding additional staff was incredibly intimidating to me in the beginning.  One reason for that was my hesitancy to, at least in my mind, relinquish some of the control of every day activities I was so used to owning.  The second reason was my concern that the business wasn’t streamlined enough to be able to bring someone on, entrust them with a sizable piece of the operation, and feel confident that all would fall into place and it would move forward smoothly.  I was concerned I’d end up spending more time informing someone how to do the tasks I needed help with, than I would have spent simply doing them myself.

So what does streamlining look like exactly?  It can mean a number of different things, depending upon the nature of your business and the systems you employ.

How Many People Does it Really Take To Run Your Business?

In my small business startup e-book I talk about the concept of developing your Entrepreneurial Dream Team. This is your personal cheerleading squad, the collective folks who, on a personal and professional level, support and move you forward towards your entrepreneurial/small business/freelancing goals.

I’ve learned more than ever the importance of this in the last 12 months, as I’ve expanded both my business and my team. My “dream team” is inclusive of both direct and indirect “advisors” who each individually serve me in a unique capacity that allows me to keep my business moving in the right direction, while also helping me stay attached to my own personal goals in creating the life I want to be living.

Investing in Your Business & Yourself = Profitability & Growth

Emma Johnson wrote an inspiring piece for Daily Worth the other day about investing in yourself and your business, and how much is “enough”.

It struck a chord with me, particularly as I’m in the beginning stages on bringing on a virtual assistant – my third freelance employee. On days that I meed with my business advisor, I’m pumped about the expansion. I’m ready to make the investment wholeheartedly, in return for getting back a couple of valuable billable hours, and honestly, a couple hours of my life that have becomes nights at home updating spreadsheets and fielding emails at 10pm.

And then I have an August, a slow month that nibbles away at my confidence, and my bank account. “Maybe I should wait it out until things pick up in September,” I reason with myself. And then I break revenue records, I bring in new clients, I cure cancer, and I still wonder, “Is the timing right to invest in the resources? I can power through a little longer...”

Lessons in Change: How I Grew My Business 400% in 12 months

While I have been on my own as an independent consultant for close to 4 years, it was only last June that I rebranded the career consulting arm of Aspyre Solutions into Brooklyn Resume Studio.  The decision came from an ongoing feeling that I was involving myself in a constant juggling act of marketing, creative, customer outreach and branding strategies that was trying to squeeze two multi-faceted brands into one.

Since separating out the two brands and launching Brooklyn Resume Studio about 12 months ago, business has increased nearly 400% in revenue and over 300% in customers billed.  The amazing thing was the immediate, and consistent (this wasn’t just a one month high here), growth that stemmed from a newborn brand, versus the slow, and hardly steady, growth I saw coming out of a brand that was almost 3 years old.

My Roundup: The Best of 2012, & What to Look for in 2013

Can you believe 2012 is over in less than a week? The last few weeks have been jam-packed with power-planning for what I want to create in 2013, ideas for growth, and new exciting things I can offer to you guys. And many of you are probably in the same boat, working out your resolutions, to-do lists, and business-focused goals for the New Year. Nothing ramps up that goal-setting momentum like a fresh start to a New Year. Here are just some of my predictions for the New Year that might help you prepare yourself as you’re setting those all-important action items:

Everyone’s an Expert. It’s a Given, Not a Marketing Strategy.

Have you noticed lately how everyone’s an “expert/guru/thought leader/internationally-known, highly-regarded, award-winning something or other”? My jaw can only drop so many times in awe before it starts to hurt.

I was just reading an email newsletter promoting some online interview with another uber-ambitious, game-changing Gen-Y type, “the face of today’s digital world, the best her generation has to offer,” as they modestly described her. Oh wait, wait for my favorite part here – “master millennial of the universe“. Now excuse me while I crawl under a rock and hide with the rest of my underachieving generation. Or vomit…I haven’t decided which.

I’m thinking, “Really? If this person is as immense a marketing powerhouse as her bio makes her out to be, why haven’t I heard of her?” I have a resume writing & personal branding business – I know a thing or two about people overly-inflating their reputation and professional credibility.

7 Questions to Help You Create a Product that Sells

A common misconception around marketing as a small business is that you have to amass a large following in order for your marketing efforts to really pay off. Widely-acknowledge business brain Ramit Sethi does a great interview with The $100 Startup author Chris Guillebeau specifically around this idea, and it’s really poignant. Sure, both of these gentlemen have wildly successful blogs and thousands upon thousands of followers, but both agree that at the end of the day, getting clients and bringing in sales is all about creating a quality product or service that speaks to a very specific need, and offers a very specific solution. That’s marketability, right there.

There are a lot of great ideas for products and services that aren’t necessarily marketable (I’ve come up with plenty of them myself in Ah-ha! moments over the years). Just because something is interesting to you, and is perhaps even new or innovative, doesn’t mean people will be willing to pay for it. What will persuade them is having an intimate understanding of who your target market is, what their deepest, most prevalent needs are, based on their lifestyle, goals, challenges, etc., and why the solution you have to offer them not only speaks to that need/lack/want, but is unique in its own way from what else might already be out there.