Category Archives: Clock Wise Productions

10 Tools I Can’t Live Without as Small Business Owner

I’ve been in business with my video production company, Clock Wise Productions, for over 20 years (so yes, I started it when I was in my teens 😉 ). 

Needless to say, the “tools I can’t live without” have drastically changed over the years.

Gone are the days where I would crawl under my desk, twice-daily, to switch my phone service to the internet line and then wait 30 minutes for my emails to download.

Gone are the days where I would get into arguments with the local drug kingpin over the use of “his” phone booth on a street corner where I had set up office during location shoot days and needed to make phone calls to keep the show going.

Gone are the beepers with panicked 505 texts (read SOS), the Filofax, the Blackberries that didn’t synch with anything, and the printers that consistently jammed on endless paper.

Today’s tools are all digital, or allow access to digital tools (smart phones anyone?).

So, here is my list of things I can’t imagine being without, at least until the next shiny new app, platform, gadget, or tool comes my way.

Out of the ten tools listed here, there is only ONE TOOL that hasn’t changed since the day I opened my doors, June 1st 1997. If you guess correctly which one it is, I’ll give you a full hour of free video marketing advice!

Here are my 10 Tools I Can’t Live Without as Small Business Owner (with emphasis on small business owner, not video marketer, filmmaker, dog-owner, or cyclist, etc.

1. Trello is a collaboration tool, but I use it mostly to organize myself, my ideas, my time, and my tasks. I love the backgrounds, which I always keep related to the topic of my to-do-list (I use it for all areas of my life) and inspirational.

My days and tasks would be a mess without Trello.  And yes, it’s also a fantastic collaboration tool. I use it with the awesome Lauren Adleman, who’s my social media manager (and theatre director) and also, to stay on track with a community project that I’m involved in. It keeps everything easy to edit, in real-time, and all in one accessible, organized place.

2. Dropbox organizes your files and keeps them not only automatically saved to the cloud, but also available on your desktop. So, even when traveling without WiFi, you’ll still have access to all your files. It also makes sharing files and folders of any size painless by sending links instead of bulky attachments.

3. QuickBooks is full-featured, yet easy to use, accounting software. It’s keeping my money-house in order, the taxman happy, and my bookkeeper and me sane. I’ve used all of its irritations since 1997, and it’s not only kept up with the times, but also with my growing needs.

4. OwnersUp is much more than a tool or an online platform. It’s where solopreneurs team up and grow faster, by setting goals, supporting each other, and being held accountable. Since I joined, my productivity has doubled.

I value both the daily task time keeping and the regular goal-setting with the online platform. As a small business owner (or solopreneur), it’s easy to get sucked into the day-to-day and forget about the bigger picture. 

5. VA Staffer is a virtual assistant company that offers a huge range of services, which is one of many reasons why I love them. They have an easy on-line platform to set up tasks, and they do it very well! I mostly use them for lead prospecting on LinkedIn, client research on social media in general, video transcribing, and data entry and management.

6. Contactually is an easy to use, fun and intuitive CRM [customer relationship management] tool and it integrates with many other platforms. I love using it and it keeps me on the ball with my most important contacts.

My favorite feature is the “bucket game” that allows you to assign each contact to a ‘bucket’ and then tell the software to remind you every so often to reach out. My buckets have titles like: “active prospect”, or “long-term lead”, and, yes “fired clients”.

7. LinkedIn we all know and, probably, all have a profile (or two). For me, it’s become a great resource for many kinds of networking (finding great new talent, leads, and thought leaders).  

I also use LinkedIn to connect with collaborators, verify information, and get business news to keep a pulse on what’s going on in different industries.

8. Hootsuite is a social media aggregator and, at $10 a month, you can’t beat it. You create one message, choose all the social media platforms that you want it to go to, and send it out (or schedule it, into the future!). Easy to use, fast, and reliable.

9. Thrive Themes is a plugin for WordPress sites that allows you to create beautiful designs in minutes. With it, I was able to build my website myself (with the help of a programmer and an awesome designer, Jill Fiore, of course).

These days, using Thrive, I can make a quick change, add a page, or change a layout myself: all without having to pay or enlist a professional each time.

10. iPhone! Who can live without their smart phone? My iPhone is my camera and video studio all in one (I will shoot, edit, and host, all from my phone!). Plus, I can access all the tools above from my phone, and in general, spend a lot of time on it… ;-).

What are your “I can’t do without” tools?

And, which of the above tools have I used in my business since 1997? The first person to correctly answer in the comments below will get a full hour video marketing consultation! Take a wild guess (or ready the article carefully…).

Common Mistakes Small Business Owners Make With Their First Video

Infusionsoft, a sales and marketing automation software expert exclusively for small businesses, asked me to write an expert blog about typical video marketing beginner mistakes. Below the first few paragraphs… click here to read the entire article with great video examples. 

Video Marketing touches on many areas of expertise, way beyond marketing and communications, ranging from creative disciplines (like writing, and visual design), to the technical, digital, and analytical aspects (like shooting, animation, and search engine optimization), to lastly logistical skills (like shoot planning, and distribution). And with that, the list of mistakes to be made is quite impressive.

However, when it comes to creating a video for your small business things can be kept simple without sacrificing impact.

As small business owners we always try to find a balance between quality, price, and reasonable turnaround. We’re told, that we can only have two out of three, but I think we can “beat the system” if we pay attention to detail and manage (mostly our own) expectations.

  • Video marketing for small business is about paying attention to the right details at the right time.

So, what are the most common mistakes small business owners make with their first video? Here a list of the 10 most common mistakes I come across time and again: Continue to the full article.

 

Holiday Sentiments

Friends, Colleagues, Clients, Partners and Others:

Before we get completely run over by Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza and a New Year, summarily known as “The Holidays”, I wanted to express my gratitude and give thanks for a great year and all that comes with “it”.

Although I’m not one to ponder much on sentimentality and prefer to look ahead, there’s always a lesson to be learned from experiences past. A moment to reflect on what we have can’t hurt either.

So here goes: I’m thankful for a great year with lots of diverse work, travel, interesting projects and new impulses and most importantly, and this is the best part about what I do, working with so many new, re-discovered and old and true people, as in: YOU!

Many years ago in an attempt to clean out my childhood room, I went through photographs of my younger years. Many trips to the cultural highlights of Europe, when I was older, America, Korea and Japan. And all along (of course), ski vacations in the Alps, boarding school with my BFF’s (not that they were called that back then), and finally my first few years in New York (Jealous? Good!).

After much fretting and the realization that no one but me would care about these photos, I tossed all of them but for two piles: the photos that I had put into albums and carefully labeled in a narrative (talk about story-worlds, guys!), and a small pile of photos of people. All the sights, vistas and cultural highlights? Out in the garbage – that’s what coffee table books and the internet are for.

So, save the people in your lives, be thankful for them (even the ones that drive you nuts once in a while, or a lot), because they make up the story-world of who you are!

Thank you all for making me who I am and I look forward to growing and learning and enjoying my life with and because all of you. Happy Holidays!

Being a Freelancer

This is a blatant excuse for not writing regular blog posts.  Really. Consider it your summer hole, or your summer hiatus. TV shows are in reruns why shouldn’t this blog be?  I’m actually not in the summer hole as in “at the beach”, but as in hard drive has reached maximum operational capacity (90%) and will remain there until end of July thanks to work. In the mean time I will re-gurgitate some of my favorite and still relevant posts from yesteryear – you won’t even notice.  If you do notice however, you really should give me a shout, I’d love to chat.

If you’re not a freelancer, independent contractor or a small business owner (and I fill all three categories, sometimes simultaneously), it goes something like this: you have a gig and you are super relieved that you’re (still) working, or working again, or still have the touch to be called for any work at all.

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Spring Quiz (aka April Fool’s Quiz)

It was a good year for the Fools of April. I would blame the weather for it (what else).  The first two pranks I saw while checking emails in bed (yes: bad, bad habit) where the funniest. 
 
First an email announcement from a stock footage house – it was so elaborate that I still have not found out whom it’s exactly from – announced the comeback of the VHS tape and had everything from client testimonials to special offers and a video.  The list of perks listed among other things: easy to order – simple 3 page fax order form.  Or: don’t settle for invisible digital goods.  Or: amazing 720 x 480 resolution. I’m still LOL. The email leads you to this site.

New Year’s Wishes

I’m not a big fan of New Year’s resolutions – resolutions to do better should be an all year activity in my opinion – but let’s pretend for a second…

I came across a poem many years ago – it was a prayer actually – and I love its message and I find it befitting for a New Year’s message. I went looking for it on-line to make sure I had the wording right and had to laugh; I found it on a German teen-girl site. I now remember learning the poem the summer I was 16 and working in a senior home run by Deacons. So, here goes:

“May you have the courage to accept what you cannot change, the strength to change what needs changing, and the wisdom to know one from the other.”

All I can add to that is: “Cheers for a sensational 2014 with all the right changes!”

Giving Thanks

Turkey_EatHamDear Friends and Miscellaneous Others who read this blog:

I know I say this every year and at the risk of sounding like a broken record, or an endless hour glass for those of you who weren’t born yet in the dark ages when records were in use – let me reboot and say, as every Thanksgiving, how thankful I am for another great year with lots of diverse work, tons of travel, and most importantly, new friends made and old ones revisited.

The best part about my work are the people I get to meet and work with, and constantly being exposed to different ideas, new impulses and places.  So, all I can say is: keep it coming!

Thanksgiving is not only a time to eat turkey (or tofurkey), but also a time to say ‘thank you’. Thank you to all of you for making sure there’s never a dull moment!

Blogging

The other night I found myself at the bar of one of my favorite restaurants, Cedric in Harlem and sadly watched Roger Federer lose a match in the quarter finals in Flushing. After getting over my Swiss pride being hurt, I started a conversation with the gentleman sitting next to me and we soon where in a deep conversation about blogging and selling.  His wife has a flower boutique, Katrina Parris Flowersa few blocks from my house and they are big on social media. 

We discussed what we sell and what we REALY sell – ‘emotions’ in his case, mine is a bit more complicate as I wear many hats, but let’s say ‘security’ – meaning I get the job done without costing you your job by going over budget or delivering shoddy video or a disorganized mayhem of an event. We also talked about ‘less is more’ and how important it is to constantly reinvent oneself without alienating customers. In short we talked (small business owner) shop.  And although our business are so different the challenges are pretty much the same. 

Coincidentally I had just finished reading an article not an hour early on the OPEN Forum app called “20 ways to drive more traffic to your blog”.  This American Express on-line magazine for small business owners (and Amex customers) often has excellent content and it has a decent app.  The article was short, to the point, nothing new, but a good reminder of what not to lose sight of.  And as always: you are not going to hit all 20 of the points but at least the majority – one would hope.  

For me the biggest challenge is quality over quantity.  That is, the frequency is an issue, as I would suspect for most bloggers.  I refuse to bring out a new entry every Tuesday no matter what if it’s not going to be pertinent. I do not want to write just for the sake of posting regularly.  Either I have a matter at heart I want to share or I do some ‘homework’ on a topic I feel fits within the context of my blog and merits my attention and time researching.  

Mark, my friend from the bar, asked me if I derived income from my blog or direct leads. And no, I do not, but I think it gives a potential client or partner insight into the fact that maybe I’m not just some hack, but someone who, if nothing else has opinions, interests and a voice. 

What are your biggest challenges in blogging?  Ideas, time to write, focus? All of the above?