Seek Better Answers

“Always the beautiful answer who asks a more beautiful question.” – e.e. cummings

With the rapid-growth, quick-attention span, always-changing landscape of business and marketplaces, it’s not enough to find an answer – the answer – but to always be seeking better answers.

Boy Looking Happily Curious

Seeking a better answer? Ask a more beautiful question:

Photo on Flickr by dolce_evita

Have Call-to-Action on Your Business Cards

Do you have a Call-to-Action on your business cards?

We’re all used to the standard phone number and email information included. Often a list of services or a tag line appears, sometimes even on the back of the card.  But what about a Call-to-Action or even a Special Offer?

I recently ordered a new set of business cards from Overnight Prints (I love the ease and the quality – great prices too). Since SmallBizTracks is now the focus, it has that information along with the ConverStations info. That’s the front.

On the back of the card, I had the SmallBizTracks Introductory Offer printed. I use these when I go to small towns or rural businesses, events and Meetups. Do you have a call-to-action or special offer on your business card?

Intro Offer on Back of Business Card

SmallBizTrack Available: If you have a logo, we can help design and order your business cards. That’s one track – just $50. If you don’t have a logo, we can create one for you – yep, that would be another track($50).

Of course, you’d get approval of final design (of both the logo and the business card).  Go to and fill out the short form under the picture.

Meetup: Connections, Because They Like You

Find a Meetup Near YouBecause they like you.

That’s one of the main reasons your customers do business with you. They like you. There was a connection.

Maybe the connection is where you both grew up, or you have the same dentist, or you like the same sports team. It could be your kids have the same dentist, you workout together, or you’re both gluten-free.

The connections can be a start to a friendship, a working partnership, or a customer-provider relationship.

Where does a small business owner or solopreneur make such connections outside of the sales-heavy Chamber events or BNI meetings?

Meetups are a great place to make connections. There’s a reason Meetups has over 15 million members and close to 3 million RSVPs each month. People like to connect.

Craft a short porch pitch (think elevator pitch – but shorter). Find a meetup that interests you. Bring business cards (not brochures). And go have fun. Be yourself.

Remember these things:

  1. You should already have your porch pitch ready and be using it. “What do you do?” and iterations of that question is often the first thing people ask when they meet someone. Anywhere.
  2. Find a meetup that interests you personally, not necessarily one to focus on finding clients.
  3. You should always have business cards on you. Always.

Can’t find a meetup near you?  Start a meetup. Make connections. And you’ll find folks that like you.


What’s Your One Piece?

A single puzzle pieceA key to success in owning a small business is loving what you do – and doing that thing you love.

For many, the pain comes from getting bogged down with the stuff they don’t really like or know that comes with running a small business. Yet each piece is part of running a business.

One such heavy weight can be your website and all the pieces surrounding it (email list, social media, mobile, coupons, etc). Depending on how you look at it, this can be such a time consumer – you avoid it all together. Or outsource it and it becomes a large project (in costs and decision).

Break it down into smaller pieces and focus. 

If there was one thing – one piece – about your presence on the web that you could change or improve, what would it be? By thin-slicing your web presence this way – it becomes easier, easier to learn or less expensive of a project.

Free Scoring Report: I’ve created a simple scoring audit that measures three important areas of your web presence. Fill out the form below and I’ll have your scoring back within 36 hours. (If you’re don’t have a website, just put none. If you’re using Facebook as your website, please put that address in the website box. Add any comments)

If there was one piece of your web presence puzzle to modify – what would it be?

(Your email address won’t go onto any list – though if you’d like to subscribe to Whistle Stops Weekly, I’d encourage you to do so.)

The question, “What’s the one piece of your web presence you would change today?” has become an important question for small business owners. It’s what helps get things going at SmallBizTracks.

Small Business Saturday – November 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday - Shop SmallCelebrating its fourth year, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop local – and the movement continues to grow with both consumers and merchants.

There’s some great resources, including print-outs and signage, that you can use for your business on the Small Business Saturday site.

There are several videos on the site that include stories from small business owners around the country and how they implemented Shop Small during their holiday season.

New Subscription Available (Free): Whistle Stops Weekly

Subscribe to Whistle Stops WeeklyA new weekly email is available: Whistle Stops Weekly.  It will arrive in your inbox each Sunday, with at least one tip in four areas: your website, mobile, social, and inbound marketing. You should subscribe.  We launched the first issue last week (have a look-see).

Whistle Stops used to be a regular feature on this site, highlighting conversations, news, and tools about social media. Now, it’s more focused: in content and intent.

There is a lot of great information created and shared across the web and social networks every day, it’s hard to keep up. Frankly, there’s a lot of garbage shared, too. So, Whistle Stops is a kind of signal vs noise filter.

You should subscribe. You’ll save time and gain insight into building your business presence.

Photo on Flickr by mikecogh

Taking a Different Track – Building as a Verb

Taking small steps in the journey

Previously, I offered an update to why and how we’re Slowing Down this Train called ConverStations. Literally, the purpose is to take a different track – or Tracks as in SmallBizTracks.

The first seven years of ConverStations, this site provided a library of helps, examples, and ideas for clients, students, and peers – pertaining mostly to social media.

We’re switching tracks from a social media-centric site to helping small business owners and independents in building a better business presence.

Two things about that last part:

  1. Helping Small Business Owners and Independents
  2. Building a Better Business Presence

You small business owner, solopreneur, freelancer – are now the intended audience of this site. Some of you may want to Do-It-Yourself and there will be tutorials and tools shared here for you to do such. And please note the present-tense use of “Building”.

Building – as in Developing

One of the challenges business owners face today is the seemingly either/or of web development. Often, it’s either getting a cousin’s nephew to do the work (under-development?) or outsourcing to the large agency (overdevelopment?).  The challenge with both scenarios is the finality of the … project.

Building a business presence, including web development, should be an ongoing process.  Things just change too fast. Don’t just build it – be building it.  And “it” isn’t just your website – but your whole business presence. Online and offline. Social and Mobile. In print and In your window.

So, new tracks for ConverStations (see the two points above), and continuous building of your business presence. Here we go.

Photo on Flickr via DustinJMcClure

Slowing This Train Down

Fast Moving TravelA year ago, we were in a process of moving to Colorado Springs from Omaha. God had called us to work at the Springs Rescue Mission for a time – and it was a wonderful time.

When we departed Colorado, on the heels of some major flooding, we continued our travels across the country focusing on Angela’s ministry work. We were living small and living mobile, carrying with us only what was necessary to sustain us.

Not surprisingly, ConverStations and 1019Ministries both were light in new writings. Time was short as our ministry work was hands-on. Internet connections were limited. I’ve kept my ear to the ground (thanks Feedly) and my fingers off the keyboard.

We’re now back in Omaha. We’ll still travel a bit, but our hub is our home – and that’s here in the Midwest.

Just prior to our move last year, I was ready to launch SmallBizTracks - a process and service to help small business build a better presence – whether it’s on the web, with social media, or on mobile. SmallBizTracks gives business owners the opportunity to address changes in small doses (and costs) rather than the either/or of getting their cousin’s nephew to do the work or outsourcing to the large agency.

What does that mean for ConverStations? It’s still a conversation station, with an emphasis on how a small business, rural business, or freelancer can build a better presence on the web, mobile, and social.

That was where we were, and that is where we’re going. Lord willing.

Photo on Flickr by Thomas Leuthard

Pressgram: Capturing and Owning Your Pictures

I’ve just begun using a new mobile app with a purposeful cause. The app is Pressgram.

Pressgram allows you to publish the photos you take to your WordPress website(s). Since I’ll be publishing to my own site first rather than rented space elsewhere, (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram) – I own the content. I can still share elsewhere, but I always own the content.

Perfect timing as we prepare to head back to Colorado for a week-long conference then continue on to Illinois.  I’ll continue working on the Living: project and start using Pressgram to share the story in images I capture along the way.

Pressgram App

Small Steps Leading to Big Outcomes

Taking small steps – even if seemingly insignificant - can lead to big outcomes. Remember the teachings of Mr. Miyagi:

It’s great to be thinking about the big picture, but remember big pictures are composed of small pixels.

  • Putting your phone number above the fold on every web page you have in your inventory
  • Making your phone number “Click-to-Call” for mobile devices
  • Creating a simple product and a submission form for visitors
  • Introduction video on your web page and YouTube Channel

These small steps, what we call “Small Biz Tracks”, can be as simple as creating a call-to-action form on your site or building a Google Plus profile, or as complex as building a mobile app or a series landing pages to create revenue.