Wednesday, April 29, 2015

An Overview of Branding vs. Ads

There is a difference between branding and advertising. While most people would think these two efforts are one-in-the-same, they’re not. Branding is how people emotionally connect to your products / services within 5 seconds of seeing your logo. They come to know what you do, stand for, etc. all through branding via a multi-layered approach of media and publicity placement alongside content and visual positioning.

Advertising, however, is the campaign vessel to help communicate your branding message. It is a paid effort and it compliments how you develop your branding. It is not a part of your branding. Think about GoDaddy. Their advertising spots are known for being fun, quirky, and to the point when it comes to easy-to-use web-based services. The company’s branding is not who is in the advertising spots. The advertising is a tool to get people to pay attention to the brand so they can further explore it.

Don’t build all your advertising efforts around one single platform. That would be a poor branding choice. Instead, build all of your advertising efforts- on any level or price-point- around what your brand stands for.

Until next time,

Twyla n. Garrett

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What To Do When Money Is Tight.....

I recently met a lady who had given up on her business ownership dreams. When I asked why, she was honest and said money became tight and her family was telling her to “get a real job to help with real problems.” I felt heartbroken. I understand getting a second job while your dreams launch, but “get a real job”- that was a little harsh.

No one will ever understand the pressure and personal pain that goes into launching a business unless they own a business! It is like giving birth. You invest time, manual labor, and money taking a risk that you will birth something beautiful. You work hard today to give yourself, and your family, a better future tomorrow. Money will become tight. Quitting or giving in to family members who don’t understand the challenges that come with being a business owner is easier than doing the work and walking through fire sometimes- but I promise you, in the end, it is worth it!

Don’t give up on your dream or your goals because money is tight. If you have to work two jobs until you can make it happen- do so. But don’t let a temporary or second job become a permanent one. Don’t deny future clients your gifts because of a problem today. Stick with it. Get creative. Get busy. Don’t quit.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, April 27, 2015

Is Your Personality Harming Your Business?

Did you know there are some entrepreneurs out there who don’t ever have success? Shocking, right?! There is a personality trait that separates those who want to do from those who do and succeed. So what is it?

Being a dreamer. That’s right, dreaming big and having ambition isn’t enough. Dreamers don’t succeed. Doers do. The dreamer has lots of big ideas. But every dream needs direction and a system of execution for success.

It is possible for dreamers to not succeed because they are too busy dreaming up what will work, what will happen, etc. that they forget to put the wheels of the dream in motion and nothing ever comes into fruition as a result.

Today is your day. If you have big dreams ask yourself what you’re doing to implement them into materializing. No one is going to come by your desk and sprinkle magic dust over you or your dream. You have to be as much as a doer as you are a dreamer.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, April 24, 2015

Trusting in Business

There are few things in life that are true deal breakers. In business, we tend to get easily offended or we think a service we buy will excuse us from hard work. The truth is, there are three basic deal breakers in business. Everything else can be managed, worked through, or altered.

So, what are they?

1. Lying. Flat out lying. While you may think everyone in business fibs (which is terrible), usually- this isn’t true. If you have a partner, client, or employee who you know lies to you… get rid of them right away. They will put your company in jeopardy at some point.

2. Breach of contract. If you client or business partner breaches a contract, don’t allow this to continue on. Have an uncomfortable conversation first and try to set it right. If you can’t resolve the issue, talk to your legal team about other options.

3. Double-talking. It is very easy to find out when someone is talking negative about you. Why? It spreads within circles. If a client or employee or business partner is saying negative things about you, they don’t need to be affiliated with you. The level of trust is gone. Period.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Helping Clients Truly Understand.....

Clients new to the area you service or provide products for are often the most difficult. I say this in a positive way.They haven't learned the power of your brand yet, so it is understandable when they have trust issues in what we, as professionals people, actually do. Some new clients want the world immediately and without any real time or significant financial investment. Sadly, if you don't deliver- the trust they don't already have with you turns into resentment and more distrust.

There are ways to help build trust among new clients. In fact, below are three ways you can help promote trust between yourself and another party. I’ve tried and tested all of these steps and they do work!

1. Eliminate the cell phone check at a meeting. No one can trust another person who isn’t present at a meeting. If you are going to lunch or a meeting with someone, leave the cell phone in the car. I’m serious. If you have someone’s attention for a whole hour without showing them there is something better on the end of your phone- you will easily gain their trust.

2. Truly listen. This is hard for many people to do as we all want to share experiences and speak about ourselves. Listening and then repeating what we hear to others is a cue that we are trustworthy because we are interested. Paraphrase what you heard at any meeting back to the key people involved to ensure that you are a listener and you are willing to communicate. This practice builds trust!

3. Close the door. Yes, close the door for every meeting you have with a person if you have an office. This shows that you are putting them first and setting the outside world apart. I even like to say “I know this meeting isn’t going to address confidential information but I like to keep my conversations private. It helps me confide in important people, like yourself, should a situation arise.”

Learning to trust and learning to be trustworthy are two different things. As a business owner, you have to be trustworthy in a world that doesn’t reflect this message. Start implementing the three tips above and you will be on your way.

Twyla Garrett, IME
"The Federal Business Lady!"

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Powerful Lessons I’ve Learned

“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.” Paulo Coelho

Below are a few powerful lessons I've learned. I want to share them tonight so you have a few tools to help you better your ability to compete within business.

Here we go;

Before you create anything in business ask yourself these two questions: “What problem am I solving for my ideal client/how am I being of service?” and “how does this lead to making money?”

Brain storming is vital for success. When you release all of the ideas in your brain and get them down onto paper you can start to strategize and organize. You can put the pieces of the puzzle together and eliminate the ideas that don’t serve you.

Just because you CAN do something doesn’t mean you have to. You are great at many things but that doesn’t mean you have to do all of them at once. Take that one step further… just because you started out doing one thing and became known for that one thing doesn’t mean you have to continue to do it if it no longer thrills and excites you. Let it go.

Community is critical. There is nothing more comforting than sitting in a room with like-minded people who are taking a risk and opening up about their fears, insecurities and limiting beliefs. It’s not easy to speak your truth but once you release it, you can move past it.

Mentoring is invaluable. I truly believe that the fastest way to success is through mentoring. There are things experience can teach you through the lessons and insights shared by those who have been there and done that.

The only way to grow is to take risks. The surefire way to stay exactly where you are is to do exactly the same thing you are doing right now. It’s a choice. Choose wisely.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Rule the World!

I recently overheard a woman talking about how she could rule the world if she only knew how to feel more energetic. Huh? Ruling the world shouldn’t be a goal. Ruling YOUR world should! I always say that everyone is capable of anything- you just have to try!

You can rule your world if you do the following;

1. Know that you can’t control everything. You can, however, control how your respond.

2. Know that you have to have an exit plan. Things happen.

3. Understand that you have to fail before you can rule. As long as you get back up and seek to better yourself, you can take control over your destiny.

Don’t spend time wishing for things to happen or making excuses as to why they are not. You can be better. You can rule your own world.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, April 20, 2015

Making God A Business Guide

As a woman, who runs a business revolving around Homeland Security, it is important for me to be reminded of the presence of God in my daily life. With any business that I run the bottom line isn't about money, it is about helping others.

Sure, like anyone, I like to get paid. But is that enough? And how much is enough? With the money I make in any of my businesses I have always tried to give back through employment and/or community programs. And, I am convinced that giving back and involving God, or your higher power, is the key to success.

I believe God provides everyone with a special gift, mine was ambition. I came from a place of hell before arriving in a place of heaven. I know it is hard to devote 100% of yourself to your business and also be deeply involved with a gospel community. Serve God by serving others. Bring God into your business by helping others through promotion, fair wage, employment, community donations and more. You will see your business prosper and inspire others to explore their gifts too.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, April 17, 2015

Do Your Customers Feel Cheated?

It happens. We get busy with how to run the business, growing a business, developing our brand, etc. that we forget why we are in business- our customers. I'm listing three ways to tell if you've lost sight of your customers' needs and are cheating them- even without meaning to do so. If so, ask yourself what you can do to correct the situation at hand.

1. You half-ass tasks. Sorry to be so blunt, but it is true. If you perform at your highest level upon first signing a client, but months or years later you could care less if the product/service is amazing or of quality then you've lost focused and are denying your customer what he or she is entitled to.

2. You believe the customer is always right. Um, no. The customer may think he or she is always right, but they're not. You wouldn't sell a standard kitchen oven to someone who wanted to open a bakery would you? No, of course not. If you see a client making a mistake and you don't step in- you're failing that customer.

3. You avoid the evil client. If you ditch a client because he or she is too demanding than you might not be up for the challenge of expansion. Try your best to handle evil clients and resolve inner-conflicts before giving this type of customer the boot.

Dealing with customers isn't always easy. You are not going to have easy clients in life. There will be difficult clients and situations. Remember these three tips and make sure the problem isn't you.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Staying Safe, Advice from an Homeland Security expert

I want to talk today about three easy ways to keep your family safe during a terrorist attack. During an attack, people will panic. Providing a long list of "to dos" sometimes can be counterproductive because we, naturally, panic. So, I broke down three easy-to-remember things to help keep your family safe during an attack.

1. Be aware of your emergency exists. If you start this today, it will be second nature to you. Every single time you walk into a business, amusement park, etc. with your family (and yourself), point out the emergency exits to your family members and then note the ER meeting place. It seems simple, but this is the best thing you can do to save a life during an attack.

2. Know how to handle minor and major medical issues. How? Take a CPR course and a first-aide course. Refresh the course knowledge every year. The information learned will be on automatized recall during a true emergency.

3. Find a police man or EMT and ask where you should go. Don't just head to the ER meeting spot and stay there. Once you collect your family members, ask what the plan is next. Find the closest first-responder and ask where the safest place to move to is.

I hope this information helps you make smart decisions when it comes to keeping your family safe during a terrorist attack, hopefully-however- you will not have to use it!

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Speaking Tips

I speak at many professional conferences and I do different media interviews. Did I take an advanced course in public speaking? No! Am I now comfortable with this task? Yes. However, this wasn’t a born gift or something I loved doing right out of the gate, it took lots of practice.

Tonight, I want to share my top 3 tops for public speaking. I hope you enjoy them.

#1. Cortisol is secreted by your adrenal glands when you’re anxious or stressed. So, how do you get rid of it? Exercise. That’s right, go for a walk or do sit ups about 20 minutes before you have to deliver a speech or a presentation and the anxiety will almost be non-existent.

#2. Set up a goal for the speech. Don’t just think of yourself as delivering a speech. Think about the ROI from the speech- either for you or your company. Next, set up a goal and work throughout the presentation or speech to reach this goal.

#3. Don’t read your slides! People will scan your slides. They don’t want any slides read to them. You are to present and speak to the people, recycling the information in the slide into something that connects with the audience. Simply reading a slide is boring and you will bore the audience.

I’m confident these tips will help you get through your next speech or presentation.

Until next time,
Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, April 13, 2015

Top Business Mistakes in 2015 - So far

I am asked often about common business mistakes, which is why this is my fourth blog post on the subject. The problem with asking general questions is the answers will always be generic. You see, there are different types of industries in business which means there are different types of mistakes to be made. Some you can recover from, some you can’t!

Below are three common ‘general’ business mistakes that I've seen people make in business so far this year:

1. Hiring the wrong people. Don’t trust a resume, vet it. Hiring the wrong person costs time, money and can ruin your reputation in the very delicate first three years of a start-up. Make sure someone doesn’t simply looks good on paper. Call those references.

2. Pricing. Yes, price point is a major issue because it pays the bill. Price something too high and you will not have sales. Price too low and you will not make a profit, maybe you will even put yourself in more debt. Take the time to do your research and really price your item or services within competitive range. Adjust as needed!

3. Being cheap about marketing. No one ever wants to spend money on marketing or advertising or public relations. And when a business isn’t receiving any attention or customers are not walking through the door, business owners question why. It takes money to make money. Whatever you can afford for marketing, double. You need it. Period.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garret

Friday, April 10, 2015

Your Virtual Office - Free Resources

More people are working from home or running their businesses out of their homes. It seems easy, it's not. At home you have more distractions. You're easily tempted to take an early lunch, chat up the mailman or watch Dr. Oz! If you create the perfect virtual office, you're more likely to stay on schedule.

1. Hire a virtual assistant. You can't do everything all of the time. You will need this assistant, especially as you grow. Even if you work for someone else, the virtual assistant can be your dirty little secret to staying on task and focus. I like this website (AskSunday) because the assistants work and are affordable. How affordable? Prices start at $130 a month!

2. A dedicated virtual office phone. You don't want one of your kids grabbing your business phone, right? I really enjoy the services of Grasshopper. Here's the link.

Why I like Grasshopper;
A. Call forwarding to mobile phones - work from anywhere
B. Voicemails via email
C. $12.00 a month!

3. Obtain a professional mailing address. You don't want clients to think the packages they sent to you are sitting around on the dining table, do you? Even if this is the case, presentation is everything! I like Virtual Post Mail. Here's the link:

This service collects your mail for you, allows you to preview it via email (great for those who travel often), and forwards the mail to your home address. The address is not a PO Box, which looks great on any business card or website. Pricing starts at $5.00 per month.

These are the basics for starting a virtual office. If you have more questions, or need recommendations, please get a hold of me via Twitter.

Happy Friday & I'll talk with you again on Monday!


Thursday, April 9, 2015

Are You A Horrible Leader?

Do you think you're pleasant to work for? Do you often inspire your employees to do better and grow with the company? While we all might say 'yes', this can't be true 100% of the time. That's why I am posting how to tell if you're a terrible boss. OK, here we go.

Do you promise things that never materialize? If so, you're a terrible boss. What a great way to keep people from wanting to work for you. This happens over and over again in business. "You'll all get bonuses if we meet this month's sales quota." Once the quota is met, no sales bonus and a really bad reason why. If this sounds familiar, it's time to start rethinking your motivation for making empty promises.

No follow up. Nothing irks me more than a leader who sets up goals for the company and the employees engage and each the goals. Why does this irk me? Well, it irks me when the leader doesn't lead by example. No follow up, shows he or she doesn't take the goal(s) serious, etc. If you're too busy to follow up or meet a goal, don't ask your employees to do the same thing. Lead by example.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

5 Tips to Save Your Business

I was recently asked about tips on saving a business before or after it starts. Well, each situation is complex but here are my basic tips;

# 1 -Don't just offer what you know. Expand and find out what your competitors are offering that you don't know- then learn it! Be competitive not complacent.

# 2- Don't be afraid to ask for help. Find a good mentor in your field and ask him or her to identify your weaknesses. This will offer you insight to your business' short comings.

# 3 - Never hire friends, unless you don't value the friendship. Hiring friends is worse than hiring family. Friends can become vindictive, expect favors and usually don't consider holding themselves accountable for mistakes. Hiring friends is always a bad idea.

# 4 - Try to promote from outside. If you promote from within it can cause desertion in the office and between co-workers. You may have a really good, trustworthy employee that deserves a promotion, but you also have to consider the climate of the office. Ask yourself if the person is promoted could other employees become jealous? What are the benefits and the risks?

# 5 - You are running a business. Understand this! Many people think just because they started a business that the business and the employees will run it for you. You need to be present and take the task seriously, if not- you will fail.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Is Your Brand Failing?

Just because you built a brand doesn’t mean you can sustain a brand. Going into the weekend, you want to ask yourself if you have any of these three signs related to danger. If so, your brand is failing and you need to regroup.

Sign number one: The phone isn’t ringing. If your business used to have tons of phone calls, inquiries, and flat out business and now the phone isn’t ringing- your brand is in trouble.

Sign number two: You are inconsistent. What do I mean by this? Well, either you are spread too thin to focus on your brand or your trying to accomplish too many things at once.

Sign number three: Your social media accounts don’t reflect your company’s message. Yes, I mean your personal accounts. If you own a company understand people will look YOU up and not just your company. Don’t have a professional website and then photos of you in the club on your Facebook page. It scares investors and possible customers.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, April 6, 2015

Seeking Capital - Yes.

IME is a minority and female owned company that started as a bootstrap idea and has since grown into a multi-million dollar Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness company that frequently contracts with the US Government. IME is currently seeking investment capital for expansion by opening up 30% stake to attract private equity investors. The expansion will include escalating our already competitive and aggressive sales team, the purchase a commercial building, and it will facilitate the purchase of a security product – along with similar services firms - to complement our subsidiary services, which include; Management Consulting Services, Life Cycle Acquisition Support, Information Technology (IT) Support Services, Cyber Security & Computer Forensics, and Construction Program Management.

Since IME’s inception over a decade ago, the company has undergone significant growth clearing 2 million in generated revenue last year alone. IME has become a brand within the Homeland Security and Government Servicing landscape. Twyla Garrett, CEO, has been invited to showcase her business experience running IME at The White House, The United Nations, and The New York Urban League- to name only a few.

The challenges IME is currently facing deal with comfortable growth and a need to secure future technology products that will help both the company and its clients advance into a forward-thinking market run by the next generation of global entrepreneurs. By opening up 30% of the company’s stake, IME will be able to seek out complimentary opportunities that will not only create jobs while boosting profit margins, but will further secure the nation by matching our talented staff and future leaders with the right tools and resources to create and implement new technologies.
We’re seeking not to fund the expansion, but to seed the future of our industry by positioning IME as the cornerstone leader with capability to cherry-pick talent based on ability, drive, creativity, and deliverability. The equity stake money will promote the company’s capacity to challenge the boundaries that exist within our market today by properly utilizing capital to navigate potential talent and then reconnoiter it with our signature training methodologies.

IME is known as “the company with a heart.” We’re pursuing a progressive tomorrow that is truly sustainable as technologies and client demands continue to evolve and grow. By utilizing capital appropriately, our company’s ecosystem will add value and open up forthcoming opportunities for partnering businesses, the U.S. Government, contracted employees, undiscovered talent, and our stakeholders.
IME is currently an American Board for Information Security & Computer Forensics Board Member. The company’s founder and CEO, Twyla Garrett, is also an author on the topic of Homeland Security and has won numerous accolades on behalf of IME - including a 2015 Top Woman Entrepreneur nod.

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Creating Great Customer Service

I talk a lot about customer engagement on this blog. I was asked a great question recently. "How do you keep customers coming back?" It's a good questions because once you offer a product or service, how will you engage that customer to buy more? Well, here is what works for me.

1. Get personal. Stage 5 clinger personal. Follow your customers online. Interact with them. Make follow up phone calls. Always be in a state of reminding them you're around and that you care.

2. Be consistent. Don't do right by your clients some of the time. People love paying $5.00 for a cup of coffee at Starbucks not because it is the best coffee in the world (in fact, it's been proven otherwise), but because the staff makes it their business to be personal and to be consistent.

3. Reward people. Who doesn't love getting rewards. Again, think Starbucks. They have a Gold card system that is awesome. Buy 12 drinks and get anything on the menu for free. There is no minimum, either.

If you buy twelve cups of regular coffee, your free drink can still be a Venti Frap or you can get a chicken salad sandwich- whatever you want. So, think of a way to reward your customers that actually presents value and not percentage discounts.

Until tomorrow,
Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Your Business and Bad Decisions... It will happen

One of my most valued lessons is knowing that there are two bad choices every business owner will make in his or her life that will immediately be regretted- followed by a hard lesson. Trust me when I say that these two bad choices can be avoided, which is why I am sharing them. I don’t want you to learn these lessons the hard was so I am hopeful you will keep reading.

#1. Stating you tried your best and failed. We, as people, are conditioned to say “I’ve tried my best” when we are met with failure. Instead of knowing you have this label excuse in your back pocket, say something meaningful before a challenging task. Say “I will” and then do it. It doesn’t matter in life if you try or not. Millions of people try every day fail. Why? They have the “I’ve tried my best” excuse available. Make no excuses for failure, make up your mind not to fail! So, don’t regret letting a client or a boss down by stating this excuse. Instead, work harder and longer and make it happen.

#2. Refusing to apologize. This is a big one for most people. Don’t take the lame cop out with an “I’m sorry you feel this way.” What’s wrong with simply saying “I’m sorry”? Swallow your fear--or pride--and say you're sorry. Then you'll help the other person let go of their resentment or bitterness and both parties will be able to move on. Saying you’re sorry means you take accountability for something, a rare thing in today’s world.

So, remember – say you are sorry and refuse to try your best, instead do your best.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

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