11 Jul

Emotional Intelligence, Stress and Emotions

hands of people sitting at a wooden table taking notes

The Power of Psychosocial stress

We often think of outside factors as stress inducers, for example – sitting in traffic, job changes or moving. But psychosocial stress (as in stress in relationships) is cited as one of the top stressors for people when it comes to emotional stress. What research shows is that what people think you of and how you interact with them sometimes really does matter.

Exchanges that are uncomfortable like direct conflict, situations that leave your wondering if you responded correctly, or situations that leave you worrying where you stand with that person can tax your mind and body. Awkward or uncomfortable situations can also lead to more conflict, misunderstandings, and stand-offs, leaving you feel anxious or depressed.

Your body has a natural way of responding to stress, sometimes boldly (for example somatic responses like sudden pain in your stomach or back), or sometimes in more subtle ways (for example, a sudden questioning of self-worth). Other signs that stress is impacting you can be changes in sleep or eating, changes in mood, or losing your temper over small things. Also having an inexplicable lethargy and general lack of motivation, might be signs that someone or some situation is taxing you.   

How does Emotional Intelligence help with the resolution of conflict?  

“Emotional intelligence means being able to read your own and other’s emotions and being able to respond to the emotions of others in a cooperative, functional, and empathetic manner”.

                                                               John Gottman, Ph.D., The Gottman Institute


Responding to people and situations is normal for us. We are engaged with the world around us and are permeable as humans; things are bound to impact us. Believe it or not, practicing self-care in those uncomfortable moments is one of the best way to help yourself. The self-care skills here are about learning to regulate your emotions. In other words, be in control of them, not have them hijack you or the situation. Taking charge of our emotions can feel quite contradictory to our instincts, which often tell us to keep doing what we have always done in these type of situations, keep fighting – physically, verbally or psychologically to prove we are right or because of that script playing in our head that says we need to defend ourselves. Those thoughts are often due to fear, which can actually elicit unfounded beliefs. Often, we continue to engage and champion the cause, pushing to make sure we are right and heard. But research in social and emotional intelligence actually shows that practicing vital emotional intelligence skills like empathy, understanding, and patience and are actually better for your mind and body. They allow you to become more aware of your thoughts and responses and in turn, allow you to better control your behavior. They also impact the outcome of conflict in a more positive way.  As counterintuitive as these concepts feel in the moment, approaching the relationship from this perspective can not only make you feel better but also help prevent a negative outcome. Compassion and understanding are also precursors to compromise, which in marriage is a key factor to success.  

“Emotional Intelligence is the measure of an individual’s abilities to recognize and manage their emotions and the emotions of other people, both individually and in groups”.



7 ways to handle emotional stress

Take a break. Not forever, just from the situation in that moment. Walk away when things get heated or super uncomfortable.  Break up the tension and go for a walk or ask to “sleep on it” before the yelling starts or before you start to say things you will later apologize for. Give yourself and the other person a change of pace and a chance for a fresh perspective.

Channel your energy through another outlet. Try talking to a friend that can be neutral, supportive and objective. Or try writing things out in a journal. Just write, don’t edit, and get as much out as you can.

Practice mindfulness. This is about taking quiet moments to reflect and think. No, you do not need to sit cross-legged, with palms up chanting “Om” (you can if you want :^) This is more about developing an awareness of your thought process. Learning what triggers you and why, simply by reflecting about it. Observing your thoughts and reactions with curiosity not judgment is a great way to support yourself.

Go for a walk or workout.  Sounds like a distraction but actually exercise has been clinically proven to help with depression and changes in mood. Raising your heart rate pumps blood through your body and into your brain, releasing endorphins, which kicks off a whole other series of chemical responses in your brain. It may not solve the issue itself, but the minute you start working out, you are practicing great self-care by helping your body diffuse the stress and tension out of your body.

Try to dialogue vs. debate. When you return to the conversation, make sure you are both in a calm state. Instead of trying to win the battle and lose the war, try pursuing a dialogue vs. another heated debate. Become a good listener and practice compassion. If what is being said is a trigger for your, don’t say anything, but try really listening from the other person’s perspective, even if you don’t agree with it. Repeat back what they are saying in an understanding way. Then just sit with that. Don’t judge. Keep the dialogue going in an open manner and look for something you can take with you as a learning lesson.

Think before you speak. Why you are engaging with such passion or rigidity to what the person is saying? Do you really need to say it in a way that will be perceived as hurtful or insulting? What can you gain from engaging in battle? Is this topic worth the fight? Is there another way to hold your position and not hurt the other person in the process?

Look from an accountability perspective. What will be the outcome of what you are doing and/or saying? What will you be accountable for in this situation? Is the topic worth fighting over? Is there another way to resolve it or say what you need to say in less harming way?

Next time you find yourself getting heated, try one of these techniques to move towards peace of mind.


The Institute for Social and Emotional Intelligence

Types of Stress and Their Symptoms 

Emotional Signs of Too Much Stress

5 Ways to Cope With Emotional Stress 

Tap Into Your Emotional Intelligence to Resolve Conflict

Empathy is the Key to Conflict Resolution or Management 

6 Brilliant Things People With Emotional Intelligence Do Under Pressure

Evolve As A Leader: Top 11 Emotional Intelligence Skills For Improved Business Performance


24 May

10 Research Tools to Help You Find Your Niche

computer online research tools to find your niche

There are common ways to collect data, in traditional academic and scientific circles.  Doing research online has become the quickest and easiest way to gather basic information about a group, topic or trend.

It isn’t really that hard. Gone are the days when you had to drive to the library, learn the “Dewey Decimal System” and then find the materials – in print or on Microfiche or reserve them for a later date.

And that could take hours!

Today all you need is a computer, laptop or cell phone.  Not only is it easy to search now, there’s so much more information available out there. And there’s been a huge effort over the past few decades to make information easy and accessible to internet users around the world.

For quality time and searching, as fun as it is to “surf” the internet or social media platform, it’s best to streamline the search process.

3 tips to help you stay focused:  

  1. Open a Word doc or notebook app on your desktop. As you go along, copy links of topics or sub-topics related to what you are searching for. Save them for later. Also write down key words you see being repeated over-and-over again. Those you can add to your key work search later on.
  2. Make note or save links to the sites that offer the best information you can use. You might need to cite those sources or go back to them at a later date.
  3. Focus on one topic. For example, if you are baking a Chocolate Bundt Cake, focus on that cake, not cupcakes, or Velvet Bundt cakes. Those topics will be there later on. All focus needs to be on the Chocolate Bundt Cake.

Here are 10 tools to help you do this. And the best part? You may not even know most of them are already at your fingertips!

About these tools:

Some are free and some are a membership-based product, meaning you pay a monthly fee to gain access. And the good news? Lots of people don’t know about them and/or won’t pay for them so that can give you an advantage. Other good news, you get real time research data. That can be critical when creating content for someone else or it’s time sensitive.

If you are thinking about using one regularly, I would look to see how often you are going to use it and then either try one (look for a free trial) decide which price point fits for your budget, ($29-$300 per month) especially as a beginning writer/blogger and give it a go!

Consider the Pros and Cons.

One of the top reasons internet businesses fail is due to lack of research. It could be said that doing quality research (by using one of these tools) might be better money spent than automating a social media site. But that depends on factors like where your sales actually come from and how important the research you are doing actually is. If lead generation is coming (for example) from your Pinterest account (leads as in actual paying customers vs. a reader base) than maybe using non-paying search sites is better to start with. But if you happen to talk to an editor that is considering hiring you and she mentions how important WordTrackerScout.com is then you know what to invest in next!

Find and use the ones the work best for you.

Trends will come and go but the tools you need will be the ones that help you create the quality of work you need to create. And offer you time well spent. I would recommend spending some time getting to know a few of these products. Stick with the one or two that work best for you. They will save you lots of time and energy.

The 10 Research Tools:

Let’s start with free products :^)


A place to share knowledge and better understand the world”.

A log-in is required for this one either through Facebook or Gmail. You can ask a question, answer others or search current topics. 

Google Trends A cool Google product! As they say:

“Explore what the world is searching”

You can see current topics or search a topic and they show you up-to-date date on search trends, subtopics or interest by sub-region. Trends can be used, for example, when creating FB ads to target specific demographic groups.

Keywords Everywhere (Chrome and Firefox extension)

This is another cool Google app. It supports 16 sites, offers metrics and settings, and is easy to install on your Chrome browser for easy use. (It took me 3 minutes!)

Here’s a simple Youtube.com video to help you get started.

I use this and recommend it!

Think With Google: Free subscription-based program that sends you information on your pre-selected trends and offerings.

Google Correlate

Another cool app within the Google family. It pools data from searching trends and finds correlates.

And they offer a tutorial!

Note: for more cool Google apps, click the Chrome browser link at the end of this post or simply type “google” in your google search bar and a list of their products will pop up. 

Word Tracker Scout: A Chrome browser extension for “high performing key words”. They offer a bunch of ways to find key words.

Google Scholar: Yes, another Google product that is quite useful. As they say “Google Scholar provides a simple way to broadly search for scholarly literature. From one place, you can search across many disciplines and sources: articles, theses, books, abstracts and court opinions, from academic publishers, professional societies, online repositories, universities and other web sites. Google Scholar helps you find relevant work across the world of scholarly research.”

Mangools:  an SEO search tool.

Zotero: A browser-based tool that allows for easy searching through their library to help you “collect, cite, organize and share research”.

BuzzStream: an influencer research tool. Brilliant!

Stay open-minded and flexible. Look for new search tools when you need a break or are looking for a way to add something interesting to your work day.

Below are some additional products.

Good luck with your research!




Chrome Web Store

10 Market Research Tools You Should Be Using

The Article Writer’s Tool Kit

Stack Exchange


10 Online Research Tools Every Online Learner Should Know About

Google Surveys




01 May

The Top 5 Social Media Management Tools

top 5 social media management tools

Experts recommend finding one social media platform to start building your business and gain followers. The best way to find out which platform to use is to either: look up industry trends and see where you competitors are posting or research which platform your customers frequent.

This list is for when you finally find that social media platform, you’re going to use to promote your product or service and suddenly realize there aren’t enough hours in a day to create and post all those ideas you have. These products are great for when you need help posting regularly and consistently.

For successful social media posting strategies, experts recommend:

  • -decide how often do you want to post
  • -creating content beforehand so you have it ready to go
  • -posting regularly and consistently

This is also a great project to outsource if you have limited time and are thinking about hiring help. A virtual assistant can help create the content and set-up the scheduler for you! 

5 Top Auto-Schedulers


  1. Tailwind: for Pinterest. This is how they describe their product:

    “Discover Content, Schedule Posts, Monitor Conversations, Amplify Reach and Analyze Results. All with One Tool”.

    Way to set the bar for meeting customer needs Tailwind!

  1. Hootsuite: is a management tool that allows you to schedule posts across multiple platforms. It includes a post scheduler, analytics and a search feature for influencers. 
  1. Buffer: this product is great for scheduling posts and managing multiple social media platforms. Good for use with teams and give them access to what you want. They are often recommended for Instagram and have a feature that allows you to upload directly to that platform. 
  1. Postcron for LinkedIn. They claim ease of use by offering to post content across multiple platforms including Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. They offer the ability to add multiple images and a location feature. You can also add a watermark to your images. 
  1. Postplanner: for Facebook. They market their management tool to individuals and small businesses looking for maximum engagement. And they have a search engine that looks for top performing content. Nice!



Top 12 Social Media Automation Tools to use in 2018

The Top 12 Pinterest Tools for Marketers

 8 Twitter Tools You Must Try

5 Free Twitter Tools to Schedule Tweets

Best Twitter Scheduling Tools

7 Best Time-Saving Instagram Scheduling Tools

Here’s Why You Should Automate Your Facebook Posts

27 of the Most Social Media Marketing Tools You’ll Need in 2019


08 Apr

How to Use Positive Affirmations in 6 Easy Steps


It’s so easy to create an affirmation.

But honestly, how often do we actually do this?

I think about it . . .  and forget as life gets in the way.

We move fast in today’s world. Our brains, our thinking, our activities, our agendas. It seems like things are always moving.

But did you know that many experts both in the fields of Psychology and Spirituality recommend slowing things down? At least long enough to relax a bit and gain some clarity and vision about what you want to achieve.

The most successful entrepreneurs have certain habits that help them daily and one of them is to think – alone, and often.

Thinking is the part we take for granted, along with visualizing.

Successful entrepreneurs allot time to think and they do it often.

They also visualize their goals and dreams.

inspirational quote with butterfly

They do vision boards, goal boards, story boards; they set goals and set markers to track performance and achievement. They mark their wins and then turn around and do it again.

And it all starts with thinking and visualizing.

So where do you begin?

Well how about with some positive affirmation?

Positive affirmations are combing the art of thinking with visualizing.

Here’s a quick exercise you can do right now:

  1. Select a word that you like.
  2. Just think about it.
  3. Now picture the word, say it and feel all the warm fuzzy stuff that comes along with it.
  4. Let the images flow for 3 minutes.
  5. Don’t forget to breath and relax!
  6. See what resonates with you, what images peak your interest. Don’t judge, just be with it.

Here are some words to get you started:


Start this as a habit once or twice a day and take note of how you feel afterwards.

Your deepest desires and dreams are already in your head, just waiting to be discovered by you.

The solutions you seek are there. You just have to access them.

Maybe the time to do that is now. Simple affirmations and daily visualization exercises are a clear path to starting that.


21 Mar

Need Help Creating a Website? Try Blooming Pixel Creatives!

blooming pixel creatives
This post is the continuing of my series about entrepreneurs. Not only are some of these people local business owners but they have the truest entrepreneurial spirits I’ve seen. Whether they work for themselves or for someone else, each offers at least one strong habit, thought or suggestion to help develop a successful business. Their passion is seen in their work and how they operate in the world.

I’ve had the great fortune to meet this next entrepreneur and what an entrepreneur she is! Not only does she live her work, but her work is integrated into her value system and her way of living seamlessly, not something I see every day. Perhaps it is her passion and creative flare, or her dedication, focus and commitment. In either case, Payge Kerman of Blooming Pixel Creatives is someone you should meet!

When I see an owner actively involved in their business, I take interest because that means they are invested – beyond just passion and money. Passion is great and money (of course is helpful) but we can all agree those factors alone won’t lead a business to success. They might help carry someone through a launch or the long nights that come while the business is growing, but one key trait of successful businesses is the owner’s ability to have a vision. This business is successful because Payge has a vision for her business. And she seeks to create it every day. From who her team is, to what they do, to each client goals and objectives, to how the business runs daily, this owner is not only hands-on but regularly strategizing to keep the flow and growth happening.

Her commitment is undeniable. And it pays off.

With a wide variety of packages available, they can help you design a website, create a logo, add to what you have or grow your business. They offer marketing strategy, website and graphics design and web development, a nice array for those looking to outsource these sometimes difficult and ongoing tasks.

The goals of this agency

“We create powerful branding, forward-thinking websites, and efficient tech solutions”
Don’t be fooled, this is not just another company that will put up a website for you and help you with SEO rankings. This is about “brand transformation”, as Payge calls it. “We care about all aspects of your business and of your marketing, and want to make sure we’re creating the best possible products and strategy to fit YOUR company”.

One of the most important aspects is branding, and that’s about identity – from the product to the owner.

“We are a creative agency committed to helping your business thrive. From start-ups to multi-million-dollar companies, we help our clients showcase their unique specialties and work with them to build cohesive, long-lasting brands”.

“Our creations are our own, and you won’t see them anywhere else. We pride ourselves on creating work unique to you”.

Payge Kerman Founder,
Blooming Pixel Creatives



Who doesn’t need that? Two problems new business owners eventually come up against:  deciding what to outsource and how to really find someone good. One thing I educate clients on is the importance of outsourcing. It can not only save time and money but can also actually help build your business. Referrals are still the best way to find someone. That is one reason why it is reportedly 3x easier to sell additional products and services to a customer who has already purchased from you because they know and trust you.

90% of Blooming Pixel’s clients are repeat.

There’s the personal referral you need!

Three key areas of her focus: her people, products, and target niche.

Her people:

Payge attributes part of her success to the people that work with her. She has a small, strong dedicated team that are as invested in their work as she is in her business. She looked at who they were, what type of experience they had in their industry, if their values aligned with her company’s values and what they could offer clients, for the best possible client experience. One goal of Blooming Pixel Creatives is to be better, faster and stronger than the competition. And that’s only possible through the people she has hired.

People as clients:

They say in marketing that customers have to know, like and trust you before they’ll buy something from you. This business model is about building trust, offering quality service and creating a successful project in a way that aligns with the customer’s goals and values.

During our interview Payge said to me “I see my clients as an extension of my family”. How often do you hear that? Exactly, not very often. Relationship is a key value and one service point she offers customers. This is the best type of personalized service you can get. She is personally invested in the success of your business.

Beyond designing a unique site that reflects you and your brand, they also offer a variety of specialized products like branding, email marketing and blogging services, to provide you with continued service and support to enhance value for your brand.

They offer one-of-a-kind website development, graphics and copywriting, in their portfolio of products and services. This part of their business model she reports is based on testing. “We test, test, test things out to understand what works and what doesn’t”. They want your website to be unique and stand out, but they also want a business that works for the you.

Is this model successful? You bet!

Focus on Target Niche

Their ideal client: women 33-55, are ok to let professionals handle this aspect of their business, know the do-it-yourself ways of building a website and ecommerce site is not the way to go, understand their own uniqueness and specialness and will ask “why pick you?”

They need to have a vision and are willing to go for it. They have passion, purpose and are driven towards success.

Something to think about if you are thinking about creating a website or looking to bring your online business experience up to the next level.

To book a free discovery call click here.

Payge H. Kerman, CEO
Blooming Pixel Creatives
(303) 906-1664
7025 N. Lombard St. #104, Portland OR 97203
Office hours: 9am-4:30pm M-F

Thanks for reading!



14 Feb

5 Ways Promotional Items Can Help Grow Your Business

picture of brand name phone

This is the third in a series of posts I’ve created about entrepreneurs. The people in these interviews are not only local business owners but have the truest entrepreneurial spirits I’ve seen. Whether they work for themselves or for someone else, each offers a t least one strong habit, thought or suggestion to help develop a successful business. Their passion is seen in their work and how they operate in the world.

I am slowly finding out that entrepreneurs don’t always advertise all of their businesses. Often, they drop hints about other things they are working on or mention hobbies or interests that also (happen to) generate income. Sometimes it’s a mention of a meeting in their schedule, a change in income or a shift in habits. Such is the case with the next woman I am introducing.

As a creative soul, this entrepreneur makes it happen!

I am always looking for small promotional items to offer prospective clients, so I was fortunate to recently sit next to Amy Dorr, Sales Associate for Identify Advertising. Identify is a company that offers promotional marketing materials. As a small business owner, finding someone in the industry not only saves me time but also makes the process of buying products so much easier. Have you ever ordered products and then couldn’t use them because you ordered the wrong thing, made a mistake on the order or can’t return it? Then you know what I am talking. I can recommend NOT doing that!

Tip for new business owners: When priced correctly and within your budget, promotional materials are a great item to offer employees, managers, teams and potential customers.

What does Identify Advertising offer?

Identify Advertising is an E-catalogue and webstore which strives to be a “one stop source”, offering a variety of promotional product solutions for small, medium and large size businesses.

Quality of Product, Quality of Service

“Imagine/inspire/impress”, is their slogan that emphasizes quality and service.

“Right order, right price and right delivery: We source the branded products you need for events, promotions, campaigns and employee engagement and get it fast, just the way you need it. From trendy gadgets to classic awards and keepsakes, we produce the products you want at a quality you’ll be happy with”.


Adding a special touch

As a sales person, Amy who is well versed in the product lines, offers personalized suggestions for any client looking for products. She also offers product research which can include: quantity of items, color and style options, bulk pricing options and logo design. She helps each client from the beginning of the order to delivery, saving them time, money and hassle.

Tip: Did you know that you can buy promotional products for 3 different groups: employees, customers and prospective customers?

People love free stuff!

So why buy promotional products for your business?

Here are 5 ways promotional items can help your business:

  • To have gifts to offer employees.
  • To offer something that is different and unique to customers.
  • To help make spending cost effective.
  • To have something that is free and of value to offer clients and new prospects.
  • To help promote your brand by keeping your company top-of-mind.

Research shows that people buy from people that they know, like and trust (I didn’t make that saying up, it’s a common marketing phrase). But it’s important. With so many choices for consumers, businesses have to find ways to continually remind customers they are there, and their product or service is the one they should buy first.

We are so inundated with consumerism in our culture, I think we take this aspect of business building for granted. If you look around your home or office, you’ll probably find some item sitting there staring at you – I have a Chase Bank pen on my kitchen counter, right next to my favorite Starbucks coffee cup. My question to you is, why aren’t your products sitting on the counter top? I find my favorite Etain pens are actually in my bag and on my desk, along with my favorite business postcard. It’s taken a while but with a little practice (and a small budget increase), you can make this form of branding and advertising an easy habit!

Amy used one popular product as an example. A credit card holder. Sounds simple right? But it actually has multiple uses.

Some types of promotional products are often purchased for events such as trade shows and industry fairs.  Companies buy badges, carrying cases, shirts, sweat shirts, jackets, back-packs, key chains and pens so while their employees are working at the trade show, they can display the brand with the tools they need. It shows a uniformity amongst the employees, identifies the company’s brand visually, and attracts customers.

Companies use promotional items for other events such as:

Open Houses (people love free stuff to take walk away with)

Holiday parties (an extra special way to support employees)

Partnerships, such as a paid sponsorship (for example: fun run)

Give-aways in the office (another way to keep morale up!)

For a list of other examples and product categories, click here.


Amy suggested a promotional products companies like to buy:

  1. A great gift for School Open Houses is a cool multi-color highlighter.
  2. Need a cool gift for a gift bag or give-away? Try a flashlight.

Products are priced from as low as .50 cents to over $100.00 depending on the item and quantity.

In addition to her work with Identify, and in true entrepreneurial spirit, Amy is also a seamstress. Turning her hobby into work means that Amy assists a small mom/pop shop with seamstress services while also managing her family.

And if that’s not enough, she spends some of what’s left with her free time running her own shop on Etsy, called Baby Dear.

To see the items she sells, click here .

As a Business Coach, I am in a unique position to get to learn about people and their businesses. It has been such a pleasure getting to know Amy. She has taught me to never judge a book by its cover, but rather, open it up, read for a while and get an understanding about who the person is before you look to see what they are offering.

At the end of the day, for entrepreneurs, how they spend their time, inside and outside “the office” is often directly related to who they are and what they are about as a person.

If you like this post, please leave a comment below or visit the links posted in this article.

To reach Amy directly:




Thanks for reading!


28 Jan

8 Low Cost Ways to Advertise Your Business

photo of a doorway which has a large lettering that says "HELLO" and an arrow pointing left through the middle of the type

Advertising has been the sure proof method for communicating with potential buyers for decades. It offers a direct way to make customers aware of your products and services, it’s a way to introduce to them the solution you offer to their problem, it’s a sure fire way to build brand loyalty, and it’s a great tool to get clients to come back to your brand.

Advertising can very easily become a pricey expenditure for businesses. It helps to have money coming in before putting out a ton of advertising dollars for a new small business. The trick is to keep the budget low and try a few ways out first, see what pays off and then grow your advertising budget as the sales grow. Check out the links at the end of this post to get ideas for other less expensive ways to advertise your new small business.

Some lingo basics:

When someone refers to a marketing strategy, they are talking about finding ways to communicate to their clients and potential customers. These ways can include offline (for example: print ads and flyers) or online (for example: Ads on Facebook).

Tip: Write out a simple marketing strategy to start. Here’s a link with great info.

Having a marketing strategy includes deciding which forms of communication to use, which path to use, and how often to communicate your message.

For online advertising, they say “copy is king”. Copy is everything in written form about that product or service.

That means what you say matters.

Tip: The communication should be persuasive and relevant whether it’s a visual aid or written words, a video and/or a story.

One simple way to get started with advertising is to use what industry experts call Media Concentration. This strategy recommends focusing the media concentration over a few channels. Experts recommend 2 avenues.

Tip: Mel Heywood, Sales Executive with Mercury Newspaper recommends one campaign that offers one print ad and one digital ad. For more information about this email Mel at mheywood@portlandmercury.com.

Trial and Error are normal when starting to advertise. Experts recommend trying out different methods and seeing which one works the best for your business goals.

The psychology behind selling suggests that if there is too much information or too many choices buyers get overwhelmed. So, simplify. Start with one or two ways to advertise, promote 1 product or service and leave it at that.

Here are 8 ways to advertise a new business:

  1. Run low budget ads in a local newspaper or magazine.

    As one form of “print” advertising this would include running ads in a magazine, industry publication, newsletter, newspaper or billboard.

    What’s needed: Decide on the size of ad (depending what’s offered), which images to use, the wording to be added and your budget for this. You want something that catches the reader’s eye and stands out. This is when a good brand image is helpful.

    Tip: Because costs for this type of advertising can vary so greatly it’s a good idea to first find out all the advertising options you can use for that publication and then decide which works best for your business.

    It’s also good to find out long the ad will run for. Unlike digital advertising strategies that can be tracked by click thru rates and other actions, it’s not easy to find out what the response rate for a print ad is.

  1. Try door hangers.  Another form of print advertising.

    Not the most cost effective but it offers more potential buying leads than other forms of print because it’s a larger form of distribution. Door hangers generally have a 1-3% response rate.

    Note: For those percentages to happen, the ad has to be something that leads the potential customers into a call for action: an action step like walking into your store, calling you or to visiting your website to buy. Those customers are leads until they become sales customers.

    To learn how to do this, this post is helpful.

    Here is the US Post Office product they offer.

  1. Run an ad in a local trade magazine.

    This link offers the advantages to this approach.

  1. Start or Join an Online community.

    are online groups that make their content and engagement available only to its members. One new trend are the groups you can join on Facebook.

    Groups have been around for a while but now you can pay to join a specific group, provided you are accepted by the moderator and follow the rules. Communities are similar to forums where people can dialogue with each other, ask questions and get resources. The idea is to get closer to those that buy the products and services you are offering.

    If this interests you, here’s a great post about strategies.

    Tip: Some forums and groups are very open and invite sales talk, surveying the audience and talking about what you are offering on their forum. But some are not. Read the contract form (that’s that link that says “I agree to” on the site you click right as you are joining). It’s worth a read so you don’t burn bridges or put people off.

  1. Create a free Yelp listing.

    Yelp itself is the best source to help get you started, click here for more information.

  1. Host a free workshop.

    I’ve had several colleagues offer free workshops to build their mailing list and capture potential leads. Offering to host a free workshop or seminar can be a great way to get in front of prospective buyers and build brand awareness.

    Tip: look at trade websites or industry magazines to see what topics are trending and then you can cater your workshop to what is current and top-of-mind for your customers.

  1. Offer to be a speaker at an event.

    There are many service organizations that meet weekly or monthly and are always looking for speakers to engage their audience. Offering to speak at an event is a great way to get more familiar with that organization and also the local community members.

  1. Direct mail campaigns. 

    “Direct mail can take a number of forms, including mailing samples, letters, uniquely shaped mailers and catalogs.For direct mail pieces, there are several cost components:

    • designing the mailer
    • printing mailers
    • purchasing a mailing list
    • postage costs”

~ SmallBizTrends.com

Additional ways to advertise:

  • Radio Ads
  • Television Ads
  • Pay per click ads
  • Banner ads
  • Retargeting ads
  • Yellow Pages


Get your company name out there, build your presence and your brand!


10 Inexpensive Ways to Advertise Your Small Business

Operating on a Shoestring? 20 Inexpensive Ways to Market Your Business

What’ the Cheapest Way to Advertise?

32 Ways To Advertise Your Business For Free

Classification of Advertising 

Door Hanger Response Rate: Power Vintage Sales Tools

How long Should Multi-Channel Ads Run For?


15 Dec

4 Ways a Financial Planner Can Help Your Business Grow

3 people at table looking down at two people shaking hands across the table

This is the second in a series of posts I’ve created about entrepreneurs. The people in these interviews are not only local business owners but have the truest entrepreneurial spirits I’ve seen. Whether they work for themselves or for someone else, each offers at least one strong habit, thought or suggestion to help develop a successful business. Their passion is seen in their work and how they operate in the world.

As a new online business owner, I often wonder if I am utilizing my finances in the best way possible for my business. Long-term planning can be hard when there are so many moving parts in creating a new business. Recently I sat down with Lou Miller, a financial advisor from Thrivent to find how financial planning can help business owners.

Lou has several certifications in the financial services industry including: series 63, 7, 65 certifications for financial planning, as well as, a life and health license.

He offers all variations of investment options, portfolio set-up, management and the buying and selling of stocks and bonds. He also offers recommendations for new business owners, as well as, growth strategies for medium and large size companies.

Utilizing a Financial Planner

Lou works with business owners who have a revenue generating business that are specifically looking to build their wealth thru company growth. This type of business owner has a team of experts they delegate to in different fields and are posed for successful long-term growth.

He described his ideal clients this way: “Business owners who are motivated and teachable make great clients. They have values, goals and have a call to action. Like many entrepreneurs, they are willing to invest in themselves and value the process of growth and a planner’s expertise to help get them where they need to go”.

Tip: It’s easier and smarter for a company to set financial goals after they have consistent money coming in.

The Importance of Planning

“If you don’t plan, you plan to fail”

~ unknown

When deciding if you need a financial planner, he suggests you first start by asking the following questions:

  • How important is your time?
  • Can you let someone else be the financial expert?
  • Are you able to build a team and have a financial expert on your team to delegate to?
  • Do you check the stock market every morning? Are you willing to manage a portfolio and spend hours learning how to first, create a portfolio, then invest and manage it?
  • Do you know which portfolio is the best for you?
  • Do you know how to get the best tax savings?

“Start with the end in mind”

~Stephen Covey

Before meeting with a financial planner:

  • Look at your Business goals and objectives first.
  • What do you want to do with your business? Where do you want it to go?
  • Decide how big you want your business to be
  • Decide how you set up your business structure (LLC etc.) will be based on the size and other factors.
  • Create Company Values –
    Company values should be in sync with your company’s financial plans too. They will not only tie directly into financial goals but also financial decisions (for example: where and how to spend money, what to spend money on).
  • Create a framework. Having a framework allows for goal setting and tracking milestones.

To use the example of fundraising, Lou suggests working backwards and looking at the desired end result first. Then set goals to achieve that goal after it’s decided how much in donations you need to shoot for. Important questions to ask would be: How many donations (in actual dollar amounts) will be needed to achieve that financial goal? How many fundraising events would be needed? How many contributors at each event would be needed to get to those amounts?

Mindset is Important

Minds shift strategy

As a financial expert, Lou looks for entrepreneurs that are seeking out financial opportunities that can make their money work for them. Money is not just a thing to buy, sell and trade, but a tool to help with the overall running of the business.  


  • Helping a business owner look for ways to buy him/herself out: The IRS can treat bonus’ different than regular income when it comes to taxing, so setting up a pay-out system that benefits the company and individuals is important. (Please consult with an IRS or tax specialist for specifics on this).

Protecting Your Business Assets

2 Ways protect your business profits

#1. Utilize Key employee positions and your position as a business owner by creating bonus systems:

Occasional bonuses (for tax purposes) fall into a different tax category (W-2 vs. 1099). That means they are taxed differently. A business owner can also bonus employees outside the of the 401, and this allows owners to benefit themselves in ways that regulators over 401K’s do not allow for 401K profit sharing.

Tip:  offer Christmas bonuses.

#2. Utilizing the right types of Insurance policies.

What happens when that employee who has put in 20 years and is a key financial contributor leaves abruptly or, worse yet, dies suddenly? Many companies struggle with financial loss while figuring out how to fill that key position, taking a big financial hit in the process. Did you know that owners can take out policies for themselves or key employee so if that gap hits, the company doesn’t lose income?

One alternative solution is to have the company “bonus out” the employee when they retire so the employee’s retirement becomes a business event without needing a death benefit policy for each key employee.

3 ways Key Employee Insurance can be used:

1. Key employee insurance plans do not just have to be for company protection. They can be offered to employees to cash out when they leave. The company turns the policy over to the employee, so they can cash that policy out as part of their retirement savings.

2. In event an employee does pass away unexpectedly, the company can still cash out the policy to help cover upcoming business losses while they find a replacement.

3. Employees and business owners that have been with the company for 20-30 years can be bought out. The good news for owners? They can buy each other out at any time. 

Execution is Action

The ideal client he often sees are business owners, entrepreneurs, solopreneurs, owners of small, med or large size businesses, in their 40-50’s. They are owners that are invested and in it for the long haul. They are looking to invest and grow their financial portfolio and are often looking for a resource, an educator to help them manage this aspect of their business growth.

What doesn’t work? Procrastinators.

Procrastinators don’t work well with planners because they are often too resistant and not motivated to change what they are doing. The example he offered was of a client that was very resistant about any recommendations or suggestions offered. At one point, Lou found a way to save him $80 per month in insurance coverage. That might not sound like a lot but over time it adds up, and in this client’s portfolio, that translated to a $80 per month raise in his retirement income – guaranteed for life.

Lou equates having a financial planner to using a GPS on a road trip. As the business owner you are the driver. You set the destination yourself. Then you and the planner work towards those goals. A financial planner is the GPS to help guide you there; rerouting when needed, creating a new plan, or maybe just having an ongoing conversation.

The client in this type of relationship defines how the relationship is will work. Some clients require regular meetings, monthly check-ins and reviews, updates and support. Others prefer quarterly or annual reviews and like to have the planner “on the back burner” so to speak.

To learn more about the services Thrivent offers for businesses, click here: Thrivent.com/products/

For more information or for a free consultation, you can reach Lou at:

Web: https://connect.thrivent.com/louis-miller/
Office: 971-404-4771
Email: louis.miller@thrivent.com

This post was approved by: Louis T. Miller III
Financial Associate
Thrivent Financial®
5 Centerpointe Drive Suite 100, Lake Oswego, OR 97035

Disclaimer: I am a certified Business Coach and not an expert in the financial industry. Please consult with a certified Financial Expert regarding the information found in this post.

28 Nov

12 Questions To Ask Before Starting an E-commerce Business

List making/note taking on a desk with laptop in background

If you are thinking about starting an e-commerce business I’m going to guess you have a few questions. What product or service will you be offering? Will you be able to sell it and make a profit? Do you know how to create a business plan or how to get financing? Who is your competition? How will you get access to your customers?

You don’t have to have the answers right now. If you are new to this, how could you possibly know all the answers to those questions, right? The actual start of the business is in development and a big part of that is about asking the questions and then conducting the research to get the answers. For this part of the journey asking questions and doing research are your friends and valuable tools to get you started.

And you can do both from the comfort of your own home!

Doing the right research is a great place to start. Making a list of questions and getting them answered will help you decide if the idea you have is a viable option.

It will also help soothe some of your worries or concerns and empower you with information.

In the world of digital commerce, lack of market research is one of the top reasons online businesses fail (next to lack of profit). That means some people start a business, put time, money and energy into that online business and never think to see who the competition is, what their ideal customer is actually buying or focus on creating a working strategy to capture sales.

No sales means equates to no money coming in, which translates to lack of profit, which is the other top reason so many online businesses fail.

Those that success have a way that they do it. It’s not secret handshake or secret formulas (even though some advertise it as such), whatever strategies they are using are often actually created after collecting valuable information and utilizing the right resources available to them. For example, a young woman I met who sells product on Etsy.com has collected a big Instagram following because she found that is where most of her clients hang out. She finds out what kind of products they like, set up a marketing strategy through that social media platform to offer promotions, sales and special events for her customers. They love it!

This is a business, and the creation of it is actually a creative process. That means, thinking and developing ideas, finding resources, doing research and creating things are part of this process. It also means that things will always be changing.

Change, questions and idea generation are ok!

Things to ask:  

#1: Who are you offering your products/services to? And how can you test your product or service with them?

#2: What is their need? What is it they are looking for? Are they small business owners that have a high turnover? Dentists that need help with training staff? Stay-at-home moms that want to lose weight?

“In order for a small business to be successful, it must solve a problem, fulfill a need or offer something the market wants.”



The more specific you narrow your customer base, the easier it will be to target and tailor the right products for them.

#3: How can you get access to your idea customer? Some ways to do this include: networking, radio announcements, speaking engagements, mailings, or advertising on social media. If there are conferences, social groups or forums where prospects are likely to be found, those are other ways to introduce yourself.

#4: Do you need a website? Some professionals have a such a great network they don’t really need a website. For this type of business, it’s more of an after-thought.

Some life coaches, consultants and business coaches, they often have to create the opportunities for find prospective clients.

Industry experts recommend setting up multiple avenues to get referrals from. In other words, different opportunities for clients to find you. The Internet can be a valuable resource, offering you the chance to have your own website, advertise on other business sites, try affiliate marketing, run ads or join forums, to name a few opportunities.

In this way, a website can be a really valuable resource. I spend a lot of time on my website and it’s been totally worth it.

If you’re planning on doing speaking engagements and marketing it by sending out post cards through the US post office, your money might be better spent on those things rather than having a snazzy looking website or paying a 3rd party a monthly fee for some online advertisement that people probably won’t see. Then again, it might be a way to supplement your advertising and add another way for people to find you.

Most people need an online presence for their business, but not everybody does. You can create a website inexpensively just to get it up and running or you can set it up as a platform to advertise your services and other products you will be offering. Some people utilize landing pages instead of having a full website to manage and maintain.

Something to keep in mind:  once you create the website, you will have an opportunity to expand your business by offering other things, like books, trainings and programs. It can become a valuable resource for you.

#5. How many customers would you like to have? Weekly? How many sales dollars would you need to break even? Take a salary? How many hours would you like to work every day?

Visualizing what you would like your business to look like, how you will be running it and who will buying from and then setting goals in line with your vision will help you answer these questions and give you an overall picture of your dream business.

#6 Are you open to other sources of income? Even if it’s temporary until your business generates revenue? This could include a “day job” or other ways to make money online.

#7 How you will finance this? This is something to think about before you invest your hard-earned dollars and precious time. Will you be paying for the set-up out-of-pocket? Will you need funding?

To see more options and learn more about this aspect, visit the Small Business Administration website.

#8 How you will set up your business? From naming the business – creating a website name, setting up a Trademark or creating a “DBA”, the name you pick will directly impact which type of business licensing you register for.

For more information on this click here: https://www.sba.gov/business-guide/launch-your-business/pick-your-business-location

#9 What will your advertising campaign be? Online? Mailing? Radio ads, networking? What will your budget be for this?

There are some low-cost ways to start running campaigns, like starting a mailing list for email blasts or a newsletter, utilizing social media like Instagram or running low cost Facebook ads.

#10 How will you manage the financial aspect of your business? Can you create a business plan? How will you manage product inventory? Invoicing? Income? Expenses? Funding? Will you need a P&L statement? Or a forecast?

You don’t have to have all the answers right now, but especially if your intention is to eventually sell your business, setting up a system that is organized can set you up for business success.

#11 How will you connect with customers? By email online? By phone? And how will you handle the customer service aspect? Some type of referral system should be put into place, even if it takes a while to build.

#12 Do you understand the tax and licensing requirements for your business?

For any business, I always recommend having a financial expert, accounting professional and, legal counsel available to help you answer questions and manage these vital areas of business.

Note: Because I am not a legal, financial or marketing professional, even though some of the information within this post has been provided by experts within their field, what is offered in this post are solely suggestions. Please consult with an expert in any area (especially for legal, tax, licensing and financial) that come up.



The Multi-Passionate Entrepreneur’s Playbook: Create an Online Business You’ll Love in 7 Simple Steps


 Business Guide

To find local assistance

How to Start an Online Business in 8 steps 

How do I apply for an e-commerce business license? 

How to start a business online


19 Nov

8 Ways Creating a Vision Board Can Help You

photo with collage magazine, inspirational quite and creative imageryy

“So, what is a Vision Board?

It’s you. Your dreams.

Your best Self.

Just waiting to be”.

Christine Kane, Founder, www.VisionBoardPro.com

Creating a Vision Board is a process that helps you tap into your visions, dreams, ideas and goals by physically working in a creative space focused on this process.

It’s more than just talking and thinking.

It’s doing.

Writing or picturing images and putting these thoughts, images and words together helps manifest your highest values, your dreams and deepest desires.

It’s a process. And it helps to designate time and space to it.

Before Creating the board, ask yourself:

  • What is it going to represent, what does it mean to you?
  • What feeling do you want when you look at it?
  • What images will make you feel satisfied with the project?


“What is it you want to be, do and have?”

–      Christine Kane

You can create a general Vision Board generally or focus on a specific topic or area of your life. For example:
Goals, Dreams, career, relationship, lifestyle.

inspirational quote with butterfly

8 Ways a Vision Boards can help you:

  1. Create Focus
  2. Gain Clarity
  3. Actively set intentions
  4. Tap into your Inspiration
  5. Offer you an opportunity to tap into another part of yourself
  6. Helps you uncover more layers of you
  7. Connect with your inner voice, your source, your Goddess, and your own inspiration
  8. Provide an opportunity to reflect on your life by connecting with your heart and soul

Creating a Vision Board is often a process that becomes a source of inspiration.

The act of creating a board turns into heart and soul work.

3 reasons why Vision Board workshops are so powerful for people:

  1. You get to practice self-care and spend a whole day attending to you!
  2. You have the opportunity to focus on these dreams, goals and this vision. Yes, all those things that you never quite get around to.
  3. And you have undivided attention on yourself, to get to know yourself better.
  4. You get to designate time to get more focused on those things that are waiting to manifest.

Workshop environments allow you valuable time to walk, think, reflect, and envision.

For more information about Vision Board Workshops I am offering, please visit: Etainservices.com


What is a Vision Board?

Create a Vision Board for Success

5 Reasons Everyone Should Make a Vision Board in 2018

Why Vision Boards Work


The Complete Guide to Vision Boards, Christine Kane

My VISION BOARD BOOK, Sebrena L. Flagg-Briggs


3 Types of Vision Boards for Entrepreneurs

How to Make Your Own Vision Board


Copyright 2019 Etain Services.