Feeling Entrepreneurial Doubts? Try These Tips for Pushing Through.

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A few years ago, I wrote a post about overcoming entrepreneurial fears and doubts. As a small business owner myself, I understand how important your mind-set is in overcoming challenges, and in the last two years, I’ve had to draw upon my own advice. And I’ve learned a few more lessons along the way.

It’s a given that your success depends on your ability to handle ongoing challenges, however, often times the biggest obstacles you’ll face come not from the outside, but from within.

“Successful entrepreneurs and small-business owners alike routinely note that overcoming self-doubt, fear and procrastination are three of the greatest challenges they face.”

They have very real effects on your business, including crushing your drive and compromising your ability to play it big, or even at all, for that matter.

Here are some tips to help you push through:

Feel the fear, act anyway. Almost all business owners experience fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of rejection, fear of failure – the list goes on. What separates those who are successful from those who allow fear to hold them back is willingness to feel the fear and to act in spite of it. The best way to get over fear is to face it head-on – it’s never as bad as you think.

Failed again? Forgive yourself and fail forward. We’ve all been there; it’s not uncommon to screw up a project or to fail repeatedly until you find your way in business, however, you have to be able to let it go and move on to what does works Being able to forgive yourself and failing forward is crucial to your success. I’ve personally experienced the awful feeling of realizing that I’ve taken a misstep with a project that I’m working on; it’s painful and can be immobilizing. When that happens, I quickly focus on what is working and shift back into that direction. Which leads me to the next tip…

• Move into your momentum. One of the best ways to overcome fear of failure is to remember past successes. If you’re fixated on failing, put that energy into revisiting past successes and accomplishments. How did it feel? If you can tap into your past successes and relive how you felt in that moment, you’ll feel more confident facing new challenges. This will also help you to get past failures.

• Break through your comfort zones. Most people tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. If you want to succeed, learn to be comfortable even when you’re outside your comfort zone. It can be scary, but it won’t kill you. Really, it won’t

• Find what motivates you. It’s important to remember your “why.” Passion trumps fear and when you focus on your dreams (and not your fears), you’ll shift your momentum and eliminate procrastination.

• You’ve just got to BELIEVE. Having self-confidence and belief in yourself and your business is hands down the most important aspect of achieving success. Boost your self-confidence and belief by having a solid foundation and staying current on best practices in your industry.

• Focus on relationships you have. Fear shrinks your perspective. Participating in small business groups or meet-ups gives you access to ideas and experiences beyond your own and can help you focus on the big picture. Also, surrounding yourself with like-minded business professionals will remind you that you’re not alone, which in itself can go a long way toward conquering your fears.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO of April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. April is also a guest contributor to NBC Chicago’s Inc. Well Blog where a version of these tips first appeared.

Free PR Resources to Help Build Brand Awareness

April Neill Public Relations is happy to share some awesome FREE PR resources that we use and recommend to our clients on a regular basis. Use these to help build your brand awareness.

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H.A.R.O. (Help A Reporter Out) – www.HelpAReporter.com

Everyone’s an expert at something. Sharing your expertise may land you that big media interview you’ve been looking for! Journalists post specific queries – up to 90 each day. You respond directly to them if you are a good source for their needs. From The New York Times, to ABC News, to HuffingtonPost.com and everyone in between, nearly 50,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories.

Business2Blogger.com – www.Business2Blogger.com

Fill out a form with a specific PR request, such as, “Looking for bloggers to test and write about best chip less nail polishes.” Business2Blogger blasts it out to thousands of Bloggers who sign up to receive your offers. Those interested in your offer get directly in touch with you to get started. This can result in some great articles for your business.

Google Alerts – www.Google.com/alerts

Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your choice of query or topic. Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:

  • monitoring a developing news story
  • keeping current on an industry or competitor
  • monitoring mentions about your business
  • keeping tabs on mentions regarding your name and monitoring your reputation

SocialMention.com – www.SocialMention.com

Social Media Alerts like Google Alerts but for social media. Receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, CEO, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story or competitor.

Free-Press-Release.comwww.Free-Press-Release.com

A great site to submit press releases for free online, or pay up to $30 for additional optimization and features including hyperlinks, no ads, additional keywords etc. Note that this service puts your release online only; it doesn’t actually submit it to any media sources.

PubArticles.comwww.PubArticles.com

Sign up and posting of articles is 100% free. If your article meets 4 requirements: It’s totally original, it hasn’t been published anywhere else, it’s useful or helpful information and it meets the site’s writing guidelines, it will get ‘exclusive’ service which brings a variety of benefits including being posted to Google News, distribution to Twitter and other social media and your article being published on PubArticle’s homepage.

HootSuite.com – www.HootSuite.com

This service allows you to post and update ALL of your social media in one place. Populate the content of your Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, Flicker, blog and other social sites all at once, or schedule them to go out at predetermined times in the future. HootSuite provides basic measuring – such as showing you how many people click on your links or re-tweet your posts – for free. For one account it’s free, to manage multiple accounts it’s less than $10 per month.

Animoto.com – www.Animoto.com

Animoto automatically produces beautifully orchestrated, completely unique video pieces from your photos, video clips and music. Fast, free and super easy! Animoto syncs with Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, Photobucket, and SmugMug to get your images in a snap. Add text and emphasize specific images with the touch of a button. Upload your own mp3 or choose from Animoto’s collection of tunes in several different genres.

Screenr – www.screenr.com

Screenr’s web-based screen recorder makes it easy to create and share screencasts around the web. Just click the record button, capture your screen & voice and share the link.

Do you have any free PR resources to share that aren’t listed above? We’d love to hear what’s working for you!

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Gain Trust and Attract Business with Education-Based Marketing

Marketing signThere is a common misconception amongst small businesses that your marketing’s most important function is to promote your products and services to prospects ready to buy. In fact, the most important function of your marketing strategy should be to establish that you’re an expert in your industry, that you have knowledge to share, and that you can be trusted.

It’s a given that consumers like to do business with people and brands they trust. That said, even if you have the lowest prices, if you’re not perceived to be trustworthy, it might be difficult to attract customers. This is the basis for Education-Based Marketing.

A powerful marketing strategy that establishes trust and credibility using strategic educational messaging, Education-Based Marketing is the direct opposite of traditional marketing, which leverages selling-based messaging.

People are tired of being bombarded with sales pitches. Alarm bells go off the moment you launch into your spiel. In comparison, consumers are more likely to listen when you offer value by sharing expert information and helpful tips and facts that not only help them live better but also help them make better buying decisions. And even if they are not ready to buy, you’re planting seeds and gaining consumer trust that will likely pay off when they are ready to purchase your product or service.

Stay tuned for our next post that will delve deeper into how to craft your educational message.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Facebook’s Latest Newsfeed Algorithm a Game-Changer for Brands

FacebookAlgorithmImageBy April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

For brands and small businesses who have put in the sweat equity over the last few years to build their Facebook following and gain consumer confidence and loyalty through intelligent, thoughtful brand publishing, Facebook’s latest newsfeed algorithm is going to be a game-changer.

In a recent article titled, The Great Facebook Swindle And What To Do About It published on Social Media Explorer, Jason Falls explains how the rules have changed and it doesn’t bode well for brands. First of all, with the changes, even though your audience “Likes” your page, there is a strong likelihood that Facebook won’t let most of them see your posts organically in their news stream. They can still visit your page to see it, however, unless you pay to promote it, many of your followers won’t see it. As a matter of fact, with the changes, Facebook is ratcheting down organic exposure of brand page content to 1-2% at best. This is not good!

Here are the highlights on how brands can still win.

  1. Direct people to your Facebook URL It’s no longer enough for to tell our audience to “Like” us on Facebook. Now we have to ensure they know that we offer great content there but Facebook won’t let them see it unless they go to the Facebook page just like they would come to our website and they are going to have to type in our brand name or URL to see our content. For traditional communications, stop using the “Like us on Facebook” call to action and start using the “Visit us on Facebook at facebook.com/yournamehere” one.
  2. “Share” is now the new “Like” When a user does find your content, intentionally or not, and uses the Facebook “Share” button, it places that content on their timeline as if posted by them. They are recommending that content to their friends and followers. This circumvents Facebook’s brand classification as it sees the post as being from the individual. It is content they are organically recommending. So every single call-to-action must be “Share with your friends.” By building a loyal group of advocates, readers, fans or customers who will go the extra mile to type in your URL or bookmark your Facebook page, plus who will Share rather than like, perhaps even writing a little lead in to tell their friends why they should go see this content, you can still organically reach a lot of people. The challenge is that your content has got to be dynamite and your audience has got to love you beyond their love of most other brands.
  3. Pay to play I know … this isn’t organic. But now you know that in order to achieve organic success you need a highly engaged audience willing to share. When you have content that will attract that kind of user or you can target to find that kind of user, take advantage of the fact you can offer up a little bit of money to get it in front of more of the kinds of people you want to collect. It’s a numbers game, in a way. For every 20 users, you’ll probably have one that really digs you enough to type in the ULR and/or “Share” your content. (Your traction here may vary from 1:20, but that’s a good starting point.) The more users you have the more advocates you’ll have to choose from.

So there you have it. It might also be a great time to spend more time promoting your brand on other social media platforms. Twitter is starting to look better and better! What do you think? Will you put in the extra effort and energy to reach your followers on Facebook or will you leverage other vehicles to get your message out?

April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations
April Neill, CEO of April Neill Public Relations

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

 

Showing Appreciation is Good for Business


Oscar-statues-001Watching the Academy Awards last night, I was struck with the awesomeness of the acceptance speeches and the genuine gratitude the winners expressed. Winning an Oscar can be a huge boost to an Actors’ personal brand and earning potential, for sure, and on this night they are at the height of their fame. Hearing them express gratitude and thanks to those who have touched their lives and to those who have helped them along the way was truly inspiring.

Businesses can benefit greatly from adopting this “attitude of gratitude” and if I had to pick one thing that can have the biggest impact on business, I’d say gratitude tops the list. This quote sums it up perfectly:

“At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.” –Albert Schweitzer 

As a brand, we want to be perceived positively by consumers. It’s necessary before being memorable, engaged or advocated for.

The more deep gratitude and appreciation you show as a brand, whether it’s your personal brand or business, for every contribution no matter how small, the more love, support and success will come your way.

That said, it’s super important to demonstrate gratitude and to acknowledge the people that have helped you get where you are. This was demonstrated during the awards ceremony last night perfectly by Best Supporting Actor winner Jared Leto, snagging the coveted golden statue for his riveting role in Dallas Buyers Club, who not only thanked his single mom for teaching him to dream, but also the 36 million people what have lost the battle to aids.

“And this is for the 36 million people who have lost the battle to Aids and to those of you out there who have ever felt injustice because of who you are or who you love, tonight I stand here in front of the world with you and for you. Thank you so much and goodnight,” –Jared Leto.

It just doesn’t get much better than that.

Gratitude Helps Build Consumer Confidence and Trust.

How do you stand out in someone’s mind? How do you engage and inspire them to speak positively on your behalf? To inspire your audiences to risk their reputation and advocate for you, you must demonstrate that you are worthy. There’s no better way to build trust and consumer confidence than to incorporate gratitude into your brand communication plan. Appreciation and acknowledgement can go a long way in building brand advocates who will not only love you, like we all loved Jared last night, but who will sing your praises as well.

Say a Sincere, Authentic Thank You!

There’s nothing like the unexpected, genuine, sincere thank you. So, the next time you have the chance to express gratitude, go for it! It’s good for your business.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO of April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April online at www.AprilNeillPR.com or at www.Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.
April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call (312) 772-3832 for more information.

Tips for overcoming entrepreneurial fears and doubts.

By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

Fearless

As a small-business owner, your success depends on your ability to handle ongoing challenges including finding the right market-fit and acquiring new business, to name a few. But oftentimes the biggest obstacles you’ll face come not from the outside, but from within. Successful entrepreneurs and small-business owners alike routinely note that overcoming self-doubt, fear and procrastination are three of the greatest challenges they face. They have very real effects on your business, including crushing your drive and compromising your ability to play it big, or even at all, for that matter.

Here are some tips to help you push through:

Feel the fear, act anyway. Almost all business owners experience fear. Fear of making mistakes, fear of rejection and fear of failure – the list goes on. What separates those who are successful from those who allow fear to hold them back is willingness to feel the fear and to act in spite of it. The best way to get over fear is to face it head-on – it’s never as bad as you think.

Break through your comfort zones. Most people tend to avoid uncomfortable situations. If you want to succeed, learn to be comfortable even when you’re outside your comfort zone. It can be scary, but it won’t kill you. Really, it won’t.

• Remember the feel of success. One of the best ways to overcome fear of failure is to remember past successes. If you’re fixated on failing, put that energy into revisiting past successes and accomplishments. How did it feel? If you can tap into your past successes and relive how you felt in that moment, you’ll feel more confident facing new challenges.

Find what motivates you. It’s important to remember your “why.” Passion trumps fear and when you focus on your dream (and not your fears), you’ll shift your momentum and eliminate procrastination.

Belief and self-confidence. Having self-confidence and belief in yourself and your business is hands down the most important aspect of achieving success. Boost your self-confidence and belief by having a solid foundation, including researching the opportunity (or new project) thoroughly, and drafting a solid business plan.

Focus on relationships you have. Fear shrinks your perspective. Participating in small business groups or meet-ups gives you access to ideas and experiences beyond your own and can help you focus on the big picture. Also, surrounding yourself with like-minded business professionals will remind you that you’re not alone, which in itself can go a long way toward conquering your fears.

This post written by April Neill Public Relations’ CEO April Neill first appeared on NBC Chicago’s Inc. Well Blog on August 5, 2013.

 April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO of April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April online at www.AprilNeillPR.com or at www.Facebook.com/AprilNeillPR.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/inc-well/How-to-Overcome-Entrepreneurial-Fear-Doubt-and-Procrastination-218346831.html#ixzz2bQr5DuE9

Small Business Tips for Building a Powerful Brand Identity

By April Neill, CEO/Founder April Neill Public Relations

BrandImage3

As a lifelong entrepreneur and business owner myself, I can confidently say that starting a business can be one of the most exciting and empowering moves you’ll ever make and absolutely doable, even in today’s highly competitive marketplace. It takes more than a great idea to sustain a business, though. To be successful, you’ll need to first focus on building a powerful brand identity. Here are some tips to guide you on your way.

Be Sure of Yourself.

It’s important to know what your brand stands for, what makes it special and its benefit. You also need to know who your target audience is and make that benefit clear and obvious to them.

Create a Distinctive Identity.

Branding is about perception and the most powerful brands are built from the inside out on differentiation. Creating a distinctive logo and tagline that captures the essence of your brand can increase your visibility. A quality website can also help differentiate your business while also introducing you to online customers and boosting credibility.

Get Connected and Be Memorable.

Creating a brand voice and social media strategy is essential, so it’s important to create a profile for your business on select social media platforms where your customers congregate. Next, create compelling communications that emotionally connect with and motivate your customers to love your brand and buy from it! Powerful brands are great at listening so be sure to respond to online comments and questions.

Be Consistent and Congruent.

Maintaining consistent, congruent messaging makes your business easier to remember and trust. Ask yourself: Does your website look like it belongs with your business card and your social media channels? Is your messaging consistent with your brand?

Consider Leveraging Cause Marketing.

Whether you support a homeless shelter or donate services to a local charity, giving back can increase your brand power. Take Dawn dishwashing liquid, a great example of effective cause marketing — its promise, to donate one million dollars this year for rescue efforts to save wildlife. Not surprising they’re the best-selling dishwashing liquid on the market. Who wouldn’t love, and buy from, a brand that rescues wildlife from oil spills?

Deliver on your promises.

Strong brands possess credible, relevant and distinctive brand promises. That said, create a brand promise, deliver on it and provide an exceptional customer experience. You’ll end up creating brand advocates who will sing your praises and help build your brand.

This post first appeared on NBC Chicago’s Inc. Well Blog on July 23rd, 2013.

April Neill is a brand strategist, lifelong entrepreneur and founder/CEO at April Neill Public Relations, a boutique public relations firm serving small businesses and non-profits in Chicagoland. You can find April on Twitter and also connect with April Neill PR on Facebook.

April Neill Public Relations is passionate about helping small businesses position themselves as experts in their industry. We offer a complimentary 30-minute in-person or phone consultation. Email AprilNeill@gmail.com to make your appointment today or call 312.772.3832 for more information.

Source: http://www.nbcchicago.com/blogs/inc-well/How-to-Build-a-Powerful-Brand-Identity-for-Your-Small-Business-216382481.html#ixzz2aBm6hX16