Marketing for Educators

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As the child of two educators who both ran successful side businesses, I know how important it is to leverage your skills and strengths on your terms and schedule.

You may not know that I seriously started pursuing my teaching certificate. After graduating with a journalism degree and a business minor and working in the journalism field for several years, I started the process of obtaining my post-Bach certification in elementary education.

Before I completed my student teaching, I was offered the job of my dreams combining my journalism degree and education classwork at an education-related non-profit. I love what I do.

I also love helping educators supplement their income with side businesses. After years of consulting one on one, I developed an ecourse to be able to reach more educators who want to grow their business.

This course will give educators (and anyone else interested in marketing a side business!) the confidence to apply their current skills and convert classroom teaching experience (which is really selling when it comes down to it) into growing a business.

Most marketing information and courses are aimed at people who have a different skill set than educators and more time on their hands. Everything in this ecourse can be done after school hours or on the weekends, which is exactly when you will be working to grow your business any way!

Over five lessons you will learn the basics of marketing your product or service including homework assignments to move you along in the process.

You can check out the ecourse here. If you’d like to register to take the course, email me at aurora@jacreativegroup.com for a $5 off code!

Stitch Fix November Box

After Stitch Fix reached out to me about my last fix, I was more than willing to give them another chance. While the stylists don’t really seem to read the feedback and review notes prior to putting my fix together, the customer service team is spot on.

I was cautiously optimistic in this fix. I was initially disappointed in my stylist’s letter. I requested jewel tones and saturated colors. I asked for clothes that would fit my shape and said only sweaters and dresses in this fix.screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-11-04-16-amI received a black and white sweater, a grey sweater, an olive sweater, a navy dress and a purple dress. For saturated jewel tones, only 2/5 items fit the bill.

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Item: Papermoon Isadora Dress
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My Opinion: This dress gave me hope. It was a Medium Petite, which meant the stylist at least acknowledged I was short. It looked awful. Frumpy and just like I was wearing a bag. The waist was not made for someone of my shape and size. I was really disappointed. The only thing I rally liked was the flutter sleeves. The rouching depicted in the look suggestions was completely hidden on the dress.
Verdict: Sent back.
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Item: Kut from the Kloth Mollee Knit Dress
Look suggestions: screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-11-04-53-am
My Opinion: I already have two dresses in a deep plum color. Obviously, I like the color. This dress was again rouched in all the wrong places. It was too long (not in a petite size) and didn’t hang well on me at all. While the dress met the jewel tone requirement, it did not meet any of the other fit and style requests.
Verdict: Sent back.
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Item: Harty V-Neck Pullover
Look suggestions:
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My Opinion: I REALLY wanted to like this one. It wasn’t as soft as the others and the texture is much chunkier than I usually go for. I took the full allotted three days to think about this one. I was leaning pretty heavily toward keep until J pulled out three other sweaters from my closet that looked nearly identical and were softer and a but longer. This one was a bit short on my frame.
Verdict: Debated, but sent back.

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Item: RD Style Audra V-Neck Pullover Sweater
Look suggestions:
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My Opinion: In theory this sweater is beautiful. It seems to photograph well. On me, it looked awful. The shoulder threads hit at the wrong places, the v looked pulled (even worse than it did in the photo above) and it was too long and too short at the same time.
Verdict: Sent back. In fact, this was the first item back in the return bag.
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Item: Market & Spruce Catereena Mixed Material Zipper Detail Pullover
Look suggestions:
screen-shot-2016-11-18-at-11-04-33-amMy Opinion: I don’t mind the color olive (Not just because it looks ok on me but because AXΩ), but the zippers could not have hit at a worse place. The overall length was good, but the zippers accentuated my shape far more than I would ever be comfortable with.
Verdict: Sent Back. I tried this on four separate times just to make sure, though. The last time I couldn’t get it off fast enough.

Final thoughts: I’ll give a box of shoes one more try to see what happens. Unless a petite specific box comes along, I doubt I’ll try the clothes again.

Business Software Considerations

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

A good business is like a finely tuned machine. There are lots of different parts performing different jobs, all of which work together harmoniously. If you’re new to business getting to get to this stage requires of planning, research, and organization. Having the right people for the job is just the first step but to keep everything flowing and running quickly you need the right equipment and software too. Here are some of the programs you can use to help automate your business and perform tasks quickly and efficiently

Customer Support Software
One of the most important things for new businesses is to build up trust. People are generally cautious of buying from new places online, and so showing that you are reputable, reliable and trustworthy can all help with this. Having good customer support options on your website contributes to achieving this, and could be the difference between customers choosing to purchase with you and looking elsewhere. First and foremost before any software is considered, you need clear contact details somewhere that are easy to find. This includes a business telephone number (not a mobile) which is answered politely and not just left to ring. Knowing there’s a real person at the other end of the phone can give customers peace of mind that they’re not going to be scammed. Your physical business address should be clearly displayed on your website. You could also add an email address and a contact form, doing this and providing multiple communication methods is useful as different people will prefer to contact you in various ways. In regards to customer support software, one thing you could consider would be implementing a program which allows customers to file ‘tickets.’ This system is useful as it enables customers to be able to see the progress of their query in real time. Another excellent addition would be a live chat option; these are becoming more and more popular with websites these days and for good reason. Live chat is convenient, easy to use and allows you to address any concerns in real time as customers are browsing. It also allows those who probably wouldn’t have picked up the phone to be able to have their questions answered. 

Legal Software
An attorney plan which is specifically tailored for small business is useful for when you need legal advice or documents. It means you don’t have the cost of having to consult an attorney each time. It won’t be able to replace a qualified attorney in all situations but can provide valuable assistance with some legal questions and situations. Legal software allows you to do things like creating contracts and legal forms as well as negotiate other changes that need you to have legally binding documents. They can also provide you with legal advice, and general information about legal aspects of your small businesses. Contract management software is another useful kind of legal software, offering things like e-signatures which makes dealing with all contracts much easier and more efficient. They are a  fantastic way to save you hassle and money.

Sales Management Software
If your company deals with selling products, you will need a way of tracking and managing inventory. The best way to go about it would be with sales management software. This allows you to keep updated with your leads, prospects, and contacts. Customer satisfaction is likely to be higher since you have a better understanding of your customers and can tailor your marketing and things towards them. This is because the software holds records about customer’s spending habits in your store. So from there you can target communications with them much more efficiently. Even the act of sending a gift card or discount code to them on their birthday is a fantastic touch. It’s something you’d never realistically be able to do manually.

The right software keeps everything automated, and saves time and hassle for your workers. It also means you have to employ fewer people which will save money for you. It means that staff isn’t having to do tedious and time-consuming tasks as the program can do it all in seconds. So the staff you do have are being put to their best use and fulfilling their potential.

Proper cash flow management tips

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Countless businesses go bankrupt shortly after launch due to running out of money. Proper cash flow management is essential to avoiding this pitfall. Below are three tips for managing the cash flow of a new business.

  1. Keep an Eye on Your Break-Even Point: Obviously, just being aware of your business’s break-even point isn’t going to have any direct impact on your cash flow. However, keeping it in mind will make it easier for you to set goals, forecast, and strive to meet quotas in time. When you have that goal in mind, along with the various milestones which you’ll have to hit in order to achieve it, making smart decisions that will impact your cash flow will become so much easier. One of the biggest threats to a new business is an owner who spends frivolously and makes poor, impulsive investments. When you have your break-even point as a guide, planning out your spending and making sure it’s sustainable will become second nature.
  2. Make Smart Hiring Decisions: With a lot of start-up guides, it’s pretty common for people to advise you to avoid hiring altogether until you absolutely need to. This can be a good rule to follow, but when you do start hiring, make sure you’re going about it the right way. If you make a point of recruiting from the cream of the crop, you’ll have highly skilled employees on the team who will be able to cover the work of two or even more mediocre employees. Obviously, your recruitment resources are going to be a little stretched when you’re in your early days. However, if you can set aside a little more than you planned for salaries and benefits, it will pay dividends in the long run. I’m not saying that it’s impossible to find great talent in people straight out of college. However, there’s no denying that these fresh-faced professionals will be more likely to quit on you, or stumble into their roles and drag the business down.
  3. Know When to Outsource:  There are any number of reasons why you may have decided to start your business in the first place, but I’m sure it wasn’t because you wanted to spend your life buried under various financial tasks. Part of managing your cash flow is knowing when you should take advantage of payroll services, accountants, bookkeeping and so on. By outsourcing, you’ll give yourself access to qualified professionals who have had experience number-crunching for businesses just like yours, and avoid any kind of confusion or the risk of legal troubles when it comes to doing your taxes. Furthermore, you’ll save yourself a lot of time that would otherwise be spent dealing with your own finances, allowing you to invest it into more pressing processes at your business.

Passive Income Ideas

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Generating a healthy stream of passive income from your business is the holy grail of most startups. They want nothing more than to set the wheels of business in motion and then just cream income off the top after having spent all that time trying to make the enterprise a success. It’s the ultimate way to build wealth and exactly what the most successful entrepreneurs in the world do. Millionaires and billionaires create their wealthy by relying on the passive income streams.

Thus, for entrepreneurs, getting a business to the point where it is generating a passive income is one of their primary goals. Once a company is smart a business residual, the entrepreneur can then focus on a new project, while using the money from the old project to fund the venture. Perhaps the best example of this is the one provided by Elon Musk. Musk, co-founded Paypal, built it into a multi-million dollar company, and then sold it for a $100 million once it was clear that the firm would be able to run itself. He then plowed that money back into the two ventures he’s known for today, Tesla Motors and SpaceX.

Generating a 100 percent passive income is perhaps a myth, unless you sell a company and reinvest the money elsewhere. Most entrepreneurs have to stay on top of existing business enterprises, stepping in to make big decisions or reinvigorate the direction of a company. But the key here is to automate as many processes as possible so that the human labor element is reduced as low as it can go.

For entrepreneurs, just starting out, the idea of turning a business into a passive income generating machine seems a long shot. But there are things you can do now that will help set you up for passive income in the future.

Streamline Your Systems
Entrepreneurs at startups soon discover that it’s not the advertising or the marketing that’s the big problem they face, it’s a lack of organization and inability to get a grip on processes. Businesses constantly have to wrestle with technical issues and manage headaches that can sap owners and managers of time and energy. The problem with all of these hiccups is that they can slow a business down and prevent entrepreneurs from ever transitioning over from active manager to passive beneficiary.

Entrepreneurs who rely on residual income models use multiple strategies to help minimize the time that they are in the office. One of the ways that they do this is to streamline their collaborative systems by using modern apps and software. Take Slack, an app that allows businesses to keep conversations open and searchable all from one digital location. You can also consider Trello, a tool that allows members of your team to communicate with each other about the stage that they have reached in a given project, making communication more transparent and timely.

Constantly looking for ways to fine-tune your processes means that you don’t have to resolve issues on the ground. You can, rather, leave the rest of your business humming along happily as you look for opportunities to expand or start a new venture. If you’re looking to build wealth, your core goal as an entrepreneur should be to create systems that allow you to go from an active to a passive recipient of income.

Grab Plenty Of Virtual Assistants
Virtual assistants are a new and clever business model, all made possible by modern communications, that allow entrepreneurs to save on both time and cost. Essentially, a virtual assistant is a person located outside of your business who you can get to do some of the tasks that would otherwise end up taking up your precious time. Virtual assistants aren’t just the preserve of the busy executives of big corporate firms. They’re also helpful for the average business owner who doesn’t want to get snowed under by piles of paperwork and having to spend hours organizing their schedule every day.

The scope of services that virtual assistants can offer is surprising. They are able to provide practically any service, so long as it doesn’t require them to be physically present at your business. This could include things like making calls to clients, sending emails to customers, managing payments and invoices, and doing some of the routine administration. Virtual assistants are a great way to avoid paying for a new full-time staff and free up time for you to focus on other tasks.

Outsourcing, therefore, helps to reduce the complexity of your business and save a lot of time in the long run. It’s yet another way to generate a passive income from a business and transition away from a more active role.

Rent Out Your Stuff
It’s worth remembering that you don’t always have to grow a business to generate a passive income. You can also use your business’s assets to create a passive income stream all by themselves. For instance, if your business has conference facilities that aren’t used on certain weekdays or at the weekend, rent them out to other organizations. Or if your company maintains a workshop, hire this out to locals startups when you’re not using it so that they can develop their products.

Renting out stuff is now more convenient than ever for businesses, thanks to a host of online “sharing economy” platforms. These platforms allow companies to advertise and rent out pretty much anything they like and make a steady income on the side.

The opportunities to make a passive income through businesses are often just waiting to be exploited. There are many routes to generating a passive income, from business royalties, to providing credit to customers. These methods are ultimately how the wealthiest people in the world got to where they are today. So why not emulate them?

SEO is vital to your business

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Editor’s Note: Here at Dispatches, we are always looking for ways to help our readers do things. For some of our readers, that means helping navigate the working world, for others, it means assisting in the ever challenging question, “what’s for dinner?” For still others, it means figuring out how to balance family life with everything else. In an effort to aid in all of these endeavors, we have collaborated on this article written specifically for our readers.

Why have a website if no one is going to see it?

You may be under the impression that search engine optimization is something you don’t really have to deal with or that your website is automatically optimized for SEO. This misconception could be costing you sales and potential customers. Even though physical marketing is making a comeback, making sure your website is optimized for SEO is vital to the success of your business. 

It’s always changing
SEO isn’t static. SEO defines a large amount of ever-changing tactics that are aimed at one goal. The algorithms that search engines use are always changing. SEO is fluid, so it will adapt to whatever marketing needs you’ll have in the near future and beyond. Marketing experts should always be updating their tactics to help you and your business reach specific goals and the same goes for SEO optimization. 

You can’t separate it from content
You’ve probably heard the phrase “content is king.” The content that you produce has a direct effect on your likelihood of appearing on a search engine. But simply having good content is not enough. You need to know how to produce and publish that content so that search engines are more likely to catch it and rate it highly. If you can’t handle both tasks, you can look into getting the help of SEO services.

SEO helps guarantee user satisfaction
SEO helps bring satisfaction to the user. Search engines live and die by their ability to give their users the best results possible (remember Ask Jeeves anyone?). Because of this increasing need of quality content, search engine algorithms always change. They become stricter. Trickier to trick. Harder to please. You need to keep this in mind when it comes to your website creation. 

Google is a mainstay
This is, perhaps, the most important and yet the most obvious thing to remember. SEO is required because your popularity relies largely on Google returning results from your website. Google is here to stay, for better or worse. Unless you believe evidence that says otherwise you should make sure your website is prepared now for the current market situation.