The #1 Thing to Consider When Running Your Own Business

The #1 Thing to Consider When Running Your Own Business

As a blog mentor and digital marketing consultant, my business’s online presence means everything. So today I want to share some thoughts with those of you also running an online venture – whether it’s full-time, part-time, or you’re hoping to use it to eventually leave your current 9-5, evaluating your online reputation is an absolute must.

Making a decision to purchase a product or invest in a service isn’t an easy one. If you own a business, it is important to not just attract good customers, but to retain them as well. There is more competition than ever, and customers expect to be delighted and thrilled at every turn. If your business falls short, they will visit your competitor– sorry, but that’s reality. More importantly, a customer will tell twice as many people about a bad experience as they will about a good one. As a business owner, it’s critical to encourage customers to leave reviews, and to respond to every single one.

For example, let’s say you’ve got someone looking at Charleston townhouses for sale, hoping to soon move there from across the country. Guess what? They’re also likely looking at other area businesses as well! You have to make sure you’re staying competitive by managing your reviews because you never know just who might be looking at you online, even if they’re not currently in your target area.

Managing Your Online Presence and reviews as a business owner

Getting Customers to Leave Reviews is Easy–Just Ask Them

Before you begin looking for reviews, take a look at your competitors. Read what their customers are saying, and most importantly, look at how they respond. Are they proactive in their responses?

When you’re ready to start culling reviews, start small. Getting too many reviews at once looks suspicious and can diminish trust of potential customers. Aim for 1-2 reviews per month, increasing from there. You can incentivize reviews, but it is very important not to pay for them or go a not-so-legit route. You want good reviews that accurately depict a customer’s experience.

So how can you actually encourage a customer to leave a review? It is as simple as asking.

If you have a customer who always praises your work, ask them if they would kindly leave you a review. After you ask them, send them a reminder to encourage them to do so. When you send that reminder, include a discount or coupon thanking them for leaving the review, and encourage them to spread the word. If you have employees, be sure to train them to ask customers for reviews–make this a regular part of everyday business.

Include calls to action on your social media channels that allow customers to leave a review right then and there and share the positive reviews you’ve already received. Thank every customer once they’ve reviewed your business.

Another effective method to encourage customers to leave reviews is the “tip” trick. This strategy works by having an employee tell the customer “If you had a good experience and include my first name in the review, the company will give me a $10 tip!” – this offers customers a little incentive to leave a review, especially when they’ve had good service.

Building Your Online Reputation

After you begin to amass reviews, take a few minutes to respond to each one, even if they are negative. Never ignore a bad review—that can backfire quick. It is important to respond quickly, usually within 24-48 hours. Always, ALWAYS be polite, no matter what the review says. Be authentic, staying away from using canned responses. Address the customer personally and offer to make it right. Give them the opportunity to visit your business again, and, with any luck, change their minds about their previous experience.

Always be sympathetic to your customers and respond offline wherever possible. Contact the customer after you’ve responded to their review and provide an opportunity to make things right for them.

By encouraging your customers to leave reviews, you’re making it a regular habit. Provide honest dialogue, even when the feedback is not what you’d hoped for. You’ll create raving fans of your business before you know it.

10 Ways to Show Yourself Love – For FREE!

10 Ways to Show Yourself Love – For FREE!

When you hear the words ‘self care’ what comes to mind?

For a very long time I thought it meant biweekly spa days – complete with massage, mani/pedi, etc.  As a busy wife and mother, that not only didn’t fit my schedule, but it certainly didn’t fit my budget!  Not only was the money literally not there, but even if it had been, I’d feel guilty for spending on myself when there were other things I felt the funds would be better used for.  I would be the one to justify $50 on a Lego set for my 7 year old (it encourages STEM thinking for pete’s sake!) before a mani/pedi for Mama.

Today’s guest post is brought you to by Erin Hill, of

If you’re in the same boat, grab an oar, and let’s navigate this river of life with 10 amazing (and yet thrifty) ways we can take care of ourselves!

Self Care Tip #1 — Happy happy happy list

Make a list of the things that make you happy.  You can start as early as you can and just keep a running tally throughout the day if you want.  Be sure to leave out the “but”s or the “even thoughs” – just feel into the happiness If you happen to have a day where things aren’t feeling so great – you can pull out your list and smile because there’s so much that does make you happy.  You can also add the things that bring you joy, the things you’re thankful for, and the things you want to soak up and have more of.

Self Care Tip #2 — Do a little purging.

The spaces around us are a reflection of what’s IN us. I find that when I allow things to pile up literally- it can affect how I feel. When we take some time to straighten up our physical spaces, it allows room for the good stuff. It’s the basis of Feng shui and minimalism. Most of us have too much crap (or too many people!) To be a one cup per person household. But we do have at least one space that we could situate. Maybe your hall closet or under your bathroom sink is making you sigh every time you open the door. Maybe you need to sort thru your undies and toss the 15 year old grannies Pick a space and make room for something good and beautiful.

Self Care Tip #3 — Do a body scan!

Find 2 or 3 minutes (or more if you’d like). Start at your toes, and REALLY feel them – focus all of your energy into your toes. Ask them if they are well, and if there’s anything they need. Then proceed to your calves, knees, thighs, etc.

Women’s power is in their essence – we are quite intuitive when we allow that part of ourselves to be heard. See what comes up for you and if there’s a part of your body that needs some extra attention that you can provide.

Self Care Tip #4 — Make a list!  

Take a few moments, and some deep breaths – and make a list of reasons why you’re amazing!  It might help if you look through the eyes of someone else- like your kids, spouse, or parent.  It might feel weird at first, as we tend to give compliments WAY better than we receive them.  If you get stuck, ask around.  Allow yourself to receive the love and kindness of those around you.

Self Care Tip #5 — Daydream!

Sit back, take a few deep breaths (in to the count of 6, hold for one count, then out to the count of 6) to allow your body to settle.  Then dream!  What does a ‘best day ever’ in the life of (insert your name here) look like?  Take in all the sights, the smells, the tastes.  Pay attention to the brand of soap in the bathroom, the thread count on the sheets, the meals.  Every detail that you can dream – make a little mental note of it.  Then, when you ‘wake up’: see where you can incorporate your dream life.  Maybe it’s rearranging the furniture, or making some art, or putting that fancy soap or sheets on your wish list for an upcoming event like your birthday or Christmas if you aren’t able or willing to ‘splurge’ on something like that (*yet)

Self Care Tip #6 —  Meditation

You don’t have to be a monk or yogi to meditate.  You can take a few minutes when the mood strikes you to focus on your breathing.  There are some great apps that you can get for free or maybe a few bucks that have meditations you can have with you on your phone.  Or there’s a bunch on YouTube.  You can search on specific topics too like abundance, stress relief, etc.

Self Care Tip #7 —  (((HUGS)))

Hugs and snuggles are a great way to feel safe, protected, and loved.  Challenge yourself – if it’s not usual for you to speak up when you need something – ask for a hug!  It’s important to be able to ask for your needs to be met, and not everyone is as intuitive as us ladies at picking up on when someone could use a squeeze.

Self Care Tip #8 —  Allow good enough – to be good enough.

If I don’t clean the bathrooms or get the laundry done in a certain period of time (usually that I’ve imposed on myself) it’s really NOT the end of the world.  We can’t be 100% – 100% of the time. We have to give ourselves credit for all that we DO do, and cut ourselves some slack when we need to. I’m sure we all have things that we beat ourselves up for not doing to the best of our abilities, or at all – (especially we Queens of Multi-tasking). Chances are – the only one beating us up – is US!  Give yourself some room to be ‘good enough’.  Perfect doesn’t exist.

Self Care Tip #9 —  Say NO

We tend to take on WAAAAAY more than we can/should, right?! We will take on everyone elses crap plus our own then wonder why we’re exhausted – or be resentful that we took it on in the first place. When you say “NO” – you’re honoring yourself by taking care of you first. Maybe it’s saying no to a weekend event because you’d rather catch up on some sleep (naps!!!). Maybe it’s someone asking you to bring a homemade goodie and you say no, but offer to bring something store bought.

PS you don’t have to be rude – you can say no thank you 😉

Self Care Tip #10 —  Start your day on the right track.

How do you start your day?  If it’s full of stress and disorganization – flip it up – List a few things you’re grateful for, as well as some of the emotions you want to create and/or give to the world today.

I developed a free PDF you can print and use daily:

**As a bonus thrifty tip – print just one copy and place in a frame.  Use dry erase markers and reuse it daily!

It’s far from selfish to take care of you.

Even on airplanes they say you have to put the mask on yourself first.

While I have other financial priorities now (like my 16 year old with driver’s education and the increased insurance rates of having a new driver) – I’ve learned that I also have to prioritize ME.

My $8/week core class at the local gym and $10-15 a week for a ‘real’ yoga class are things I can do for myself without breaking the bank.  On the weeks where I don’t get to class, or there’s an unexpected expense or I’m just not up to it – I rely on the activities I’ve shared above.

Now it’s your turn!  Do you have a free activity you’d like to share?

Leave a comment and let us know – what does self care look like for you?

Show yourself some love and caring with these 10 frugal tips!A Beautiful Mess, LLC was created by Erin Hill to educate and inspire women to Care for themselves, Communicate their needs, and Connect with their tribe of fellow women who “get it”.  Erin is a blogger about life, a coach for women, and a healer of souls – including her own.  She lives in Cambridge, Maryland with her husband and 3 children who are all her greatest teachers.  You can follow Erin’s blog, and receive weekly inspiration for your busy life at



Why You Should Invest…in Sweat!

Why You Should Invest…in Sweat!

What if I told you that there are more similarities to sweating and investing than differences?

Such as:

  • Starting early will enable you to live off the interest for years to come.
  • Putting away small, consistent amounts is more important than random chunks.
  • Compounding interest works for your financial health in the same way that it works for your physical health.

While planning for your financial future is important, so is planning for the future of your physical health. What good would all that money be if you were too sick, too broken, or too injured to enjoy it? The great thing about taking care of the future physical YOU is that you can find fun ways to do so. Below are seven points on how to treat your sweating like your investing.

Similarities in Sweating and Investing


This is where you choose the activity that is going to have your “investments” pay off for years to come. It’s no secret that my sweating investment vertical is Bikram Yoga. I fell in love with it from the very first class I took. The healing benefits of Bikram Yoga combined with the challenging workout make it the perfect activity for me to gain energy, heal my body and mind, sweat, stretch, and feel my best. I’ve been practicing Bikram Yoga for ten years (including two pregnancies). My goal in explaining this isn’t to try to convince you that Bikram Yoga should be your vertical, but rather to encourage you to choose a form of sweating that you love and that makes you feel great. Whatever it is, it has to work for you in the senses that you’re gaining benefit and you will continue to do it.


When choosing your vertical, choose something that will give you high rewards with very low risk. One of the reasons I love Bikram Yoga is because it’s a healing exercise. If you found a bank in which you could invest and receive 20% growth, would you put your money into that bank? Yes! Treating your sweating like your investing is not to say that you can never do anything risky or fun, but rather the main vertical of sweating should be something that will improve and then maintain your physical health. If you find that your body is getting more beat up the more you do your activity then you might be in a “high risk investment” situation. Allocate some of your time for that “risk,” especially if you love it, but diversify and pick up a sweating routine that will build health.


Once you come up with how you’re going to sweat, carve out the time to make it happen. I’ve found that sticking to something on a consistent basis, let’s say going to yoga twice a week, is far more manageable and easier to maintain than going to yoga six times a week for six weeks but then burning out and disappearing for six months. You might invest a small percentage of your monthly income each month. That’s manageable so you stick with it. After a few months the investing become routine and automatic which is exactly what happens with consistent sweating. The sweating and investing is not something you have to think about any more, it just happens. It’s part of your life.


We learn the power of compounding interest in a few high school math classes. If you start early, you don’t even have to invest much to take advantage of the compounding effect. The same is true for sweating. If physical exercise becomes part of your lifestyle early on, you end up creating interest – not of dollars but of health. Once you reach a certain point you can live off the interest of that healthy lifestyle. Say whaaat?! Think about it: You’ve exercised doing something you enjoy from an early age. That activity builds health. You maintain these healthy habits that you don’t even really need to think about. If you miss a few days of sweating, you’re able to live off the interest of the health (and wealth!) that you’ve already created. At this point, you don’t need to sweat to get healthy, you’re already there. You continue to invest in your sustainable vertical with manageable frequency. But that’s it. You don’t have to build up, you’re already operating in ultimate health.


People who keep you accountable and motivated and for whom you do the same are necessary in terms of your sweating success. Sure, you can operate as a lone wolf, but dragging yourself out of bed for that early morning run on a rainy day because you’re meeting your neighbor so you can sweat together is so much easier. If you want to build your investments, surround yourself with people who are on the same path for motivation. You can learn from one another, help each other, and share strategies. When you’re stuck or in need of some brainstorming, your network can help you make your next move.


It’s hard for me to think of an investment strategy that doesn’t take time. Everything from starting a small business to real estate, to gold, to stocks and bonds and company retirement plans (oh my!)  take time. The wealth in all of these verticals is not created overnight. If you’ve never run a mile in your life and you want to run a marathon, will it happen overnight? Probably not. But more importantly, is it possible to achieve with training? Without a doubt. Physical changes happens with steady, consistent practice. Hopefully though, both your sweating and investing vehicles won’t make you wait decades to enjoy the fruits of your labor. While goals may not be met overnight, that doesn’t mean they can’t be met in a reasonably short amount of time. Stay persistent, consistent, and patient, especially in those first few months.

Speaking of retirement, it’s often an exciting time because of the freedom it offers, but the financial stress of retirement is less exciting. When your income is suddenly lower than the amount you are used to, it can present all sorts of problems, including difficulties paying your monthly bills. Accessing the equity in your home as spendable money through a reverse mortgage is a way to fix that problem. Unlike traditional lenders, reverse-loans brokers give special loans you can only qualify for when you retire. The reverse loan allows you to receive money on a set schedule without paying it back in full for as long as the home remains yours. To qualify, you must also prove you are able to pay the taxes and maintain the home for the duration of the loan.


The point of doing this sweating and investing is to bring joy. And enjoying the journey is a sweet benefit. If you’re sweating and investing, investing and sweating, but you’re not having fun, take inventory of your situation. Maybe you need a different vertical. Maybe you don’t have enough like-minded sweaters in your life. Maybe you’re expecting change overnight and you should really be looking six months out. Sometimes a shift in perspective or a recalibration of goals can help make the journey as fun as you assume to destination to be.

Our writer: Maria McBride owns a Bikram Yoga studio in her hometown. She blogs about exercise, motherhood, business, and food on her blog, Rather Be Sweating. She is amazed on a daily basis at how much work yet also how much joy her son Joseph and daughter Winna bring. Someday, she’ll have the time to get back out onto the golf course with her husband Ben. You can find her on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter.

Which do you do more of – investing or sweating? Hopefully not too much of both at the same time!