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Starting + Building Your Own Business with Yardell Perkins

With all the economy turmoil caused by COVID-19, many folks are considering taking their careers in new directions. We caught up with Yardell Perkins to talk about how he started his own business. Through Perkitech, Yardell helps businesses and individuals establish or re-establish their digital presence.

Links

Notes

What did you do to start your business?

  • Yardell was working as a Sysadmin at MCLINC, a no-profit providing IT systems and support for the library system of Montgomery County, Pa.
  • While Yardell was happy with his boss and colleagues, he was getting burnt out on the work. It wasn’t what he really wanted to do. He wanted to start his own business.
  • Yardell came across Rob Cubbon on the internet; Rob was coaching people to save 6 months of income so that they can launch their own business.
  • Yardell decided to invest his $1900 tax refund into Bitcoin – and his invest took off! He ultimately $30,000, which is what he needed to take the leap to start his own business.

What steps did you take to get your business off the ground?

  • Yardell established his LLC company before he left his job with MCLINC.
  • While still employed, Yardell used Udemy to learn about running his business; he obtained work through Catchifier.
  • While at MCLINC, Yardell had a lot of support for starting his own business from his current boss.

How are you managing your business during COVID-19?

  • Through Perkitech, Yardell fell into a niche of helping realtors and real estate investors.
  • When COVID-19 hit, the reality industry became to do more virtual events that they were going to ease into it.
  • Because COVID-19 forced businesses to pivot very quickly, Perkitech got very business as lockdown orders came about.

How has your business pivoted during COVID-19?

  • Following lockdown orders and social distancing, Perkitech has been pivoting to a more comprehensive video and social media services.
  • One of the most valuable shares on social media is video.
  • Yardell is candid about his early video work: He told customers that it was not his strength, but that he could provide it. The lesson was get something online. Something is always better than nothing.
  • On managing expectations of prospective clients: In his first year of business, a prospective client came to Yardell seeking a website and was offering a blank check. Yardell knew he wasn’t the person for the job. As he learned more about the client’s needs, Yardell helped that client get set up on Wix.
  • Yardell’s business lesson: “We have to consider our reputations and our consciences.”
  • In time, Yardell has upgraded his video equipment setup:
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Focusing on Customers Relationships with Mark Avery

As salons and barbershops across Pennsylvania try to keep up with changing safety guidelines, we sat down with a local shop owner to chat through his experience. A Kennett Square native, Mark Avery, aka Juice the Barber, opened his own shop in November 2019. Mark’s shop is the KSQ Barber Lounge and offers everything from haircuts to hot lather shaves. In our conversation, Mark shared great insight around the value of building relationships with customers.

Links

Notes

What was it like opening a few months before the pandemic?

  • When he launched his own barbershop, Mark was excited when both existing customers (from his previous job) and new customers began to fill his book of business.
  • The shop was doing well, with 5–10 new customers coming in every week.
  • Mark was serving 40-60 customers per week before the COVID-19 shutdown hit.
  • The KSQ Barber Lounge offers a new experience with the one-on-one barbershop.

What happened during the COVID-19 lockdowns?

  • When COVID-19 lockdowns hit, Mark couldn’t do anything. He had to close.
  • Yet, the first year of a business is so vital to its success, to have it all to a complete halt was tough. Mark needed to turn to family for help.
  • Getting economic relief from the government was tough because he opened in November 2019. He only had five weeks of a tax return to use as evidence of earning.
  • Eventually, Mark was able to secure a grant for his business.

How do you manage having folks in the barbershop?

  • The safety measures require additional tasks to keep the barber lounge clean, and both himself and customers safe.
  • Mark has stretched all of his appointments to 45 minutes, even if the service provided takes less time.
  • Between each appointment, Mark cleans the shop and his tools, and the extra time between appointments gives him the time to be thorough.
  • For his business, it’s not as bad since he already focuses 1-on-1. Stretched his time slots a bit to give him a chance to wipe down everything – any surface that gets touched by the client gets wiped down. 

How’s business since brick-n-mortar shops were allowed to reopen?

  • As of late August, it’s hit or miss.
  • It’s a mix; a lot of people have seen a drop-off because customers don’t feel comfortable; especially at bigger shops.
  • Mark limits the amount of people in the shop – i.e., who can be in the shop in addition to the customer in the barber chair – so customers feel comfortable. 

How are you communicating to your base? 

  • Mark admitted that he has slacked on reaching a wider audience.
  • For current customers, Mark regularly sends email and texts – especially after he reopened.
  • Mark made it clear that he needs to do more on social media.
    • He wants to create a video documenting his cleaning procedures and practices.
    • But he needs to take more pictures and post more regularly. 
  • Mark tells everyone who owns a business that social media is free marketing. He knows he needs to up his work there.
  • For booking appointments and full business details, the barber lounge uses a site called Vagaro: https://www.vagaro.com/ksqbarberlounge
  • Mark uses social media to build relationships with customers.

What are you hearing in the “barbershop talk”?

  • When it comes to talking about the economy, Mark is hearing every end of the spectrum.
  • Clients and friends are worried about jobs and businesses.
  • Restaurant owners might not be able to open safely, especially outside the summer season.
  • There are also people who are taking the opportunity to try something new or open a new business.
  • Mark closed out the show with an eloquent monologue on how if we focus more on the relationships, the money will come. He explained that everyone comes from different experiences and we can learn from all of those experiences.
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Creating Great Customer Experiences with Jim Adams

With restaurants, bars, and taprooms reopening across the State of Pennsylvania, we caught up with Jim Adams to chat about what he and his team at Levante Brewing Company are doing to navigate the COVID-19 economy. Jim Adams is a co-founder and co-owner of Levante Brewing Company. Within the company, Jim focuses on the customer experience for the West Chester based brewing company.

Links

Notes

What is Mercury at Levante Brewing Company?

  • Mercury is Levante Brewing Company’s system for shipping beer and products anywhere in the State of PA; the company is licensed to ship beer anywhere in the state.
  • By and large, Mercury relies on UPS to deliver any product within 3 days.
  • For local order (within 10-12 miles of the brewery), Levante Brewing Company delivers those itself.
  • Mercury was launched in 2019 – well ahead of COVID-19.
  • When COVID-19 lockdown orders happened, Mercury became a hugely popular and commercially successful system.
  • Levante Brewing Company pays a lot of attention to the presentation of its beer delivers:
    • Every beer delivery contains a letter from the staffer who packed the beer into the box.
    • Levante Brewing Company sends stickers and other bits of swag.
    • The company gets positive feedback over social media from the attention it gives to presentation.

What was your collaboration with Weathered Souls Brewery?

  • In light of growing demands for social justice, the Weathered Souls brewery publicly shared a base recipe for an imperial stout called Black is Beautiful. Weathered Souls invited other craft brewers to brew their own versions and to donate 100% of proceeds from the sales of the Black is Beautiful imperial stout to organizations that to support Black Lives Matter, under privileged or underrepresented people of color.
  • In PA, 25 or 26 craft breweries supported the campaign, all using the same base recipe, packaging, and artwork.
  • Levante Brewing Company supported the campaign because it was the right thing to do.
  • The brewery donated the proceeds from the sale of Black is Beautiful to the Juvenile Law Center.
  • Levante Brewing Company produced its version of Black is Beautiful about 3 to 4 weeks after making the decision to support the campaign.
  • A base recipe is exactly that – a listing of ingredients and the process of making the beer. Breweries were invited to do something different or add something special to the base recipe to make it unique to that brewery.

How has Levante Brewing Company approached re-opening its taprooms?

  • After the initial shock of lockdown orders – which immediately closed the taprooms – Levante Brewing Company was able to bring people back quickly by pivoting to a curbside format at the West Chester brewery.
  • With Mercury becoming very popular, the brewing company’s delivery service took off, which enabled the company to bringing back more staff. This service is still very popular.
  • Levante Brewing Company has not yet opened either of its taprooms; they only operate curbside sales. Levante Brewing Company chooses this route to keep its staff safe.
  • The popularity of its curbside service and Mercury has allowed the company not to re-open its taprooms as it is still profitable.
  • The company shifted its focus away from wholesale and kegs. It now packages 100% of its beer in cans. This supports both wholesalers and bars and restaurants.
  • The West Chester tap room (called “Carter”) has been converted into a fulfillment center. There is no room for customers.
  • With the Stables in Eagle, Levante Brewing Company did not open because of concerns over the optics of having 200 people gathering in a single place.
  • The company takes colder weather into its planning. Levante Brewing Company does not offer food, so it is reluctant to bring staff on for summer months only.
  • The key factor of Levante Brewing Company’s approach is safety over profits.
  • The brewery will soon open a third location for curbside pickup!
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Starting Your Own Podcast with Kyle C. Rheiner

As businesses in Chester County and greater Philadelphia continue to pivot to online marketing and sales, many owners and leaders are exploring starting a podcast. We spoke with Kyle Rheiner to talk about how he started his own podcast, Beer Mighty Things, which is focused on the craft beverage industry.

Links

Notes

What drove you to start your own podcast?

  • Kyle has worked in the insurance industry since college and has developed a niche in the craft beverage sector.
  • Kyle launched a podcast for a number of reasons:
    • While attending brewers’ guild meetings in PA in January 2020, Kyle realized that the presentations were sharing really great content – but none of the talks were being recorded.
    • As COVID-19 lockdowns began, Kyle had a webcam and microphone for Zoom meetings, and he realized that he had the tools he needed to start a podcast.
    • On April 7, he launched the show.
    • As of mid July (when we recorded this show), Kyle had 44 episodes and 2300 downloads.
  • Kyle turned to his business industry for guests

How did you get the podcast off the ground?

  • Start with “Why?” – Why are we even starting a podcast?
  • Kyle is a firm believer in “niching” – do one thing and do it well
  • Podcasting goals:
    • Be a better speaker
    • Become a better listener
    • Get better at asking questions, i.e., to be a better interview
  • Kyle had to learn the basics of podcasting:
    • Where are podcast episodes hosted?
    • What sort of equipment is needed?
    • How should an episode be structured?
    • How should a show open?
    • How should a show close?
  • Kyle researched average commute-to-work times, and made sure that his show would be either that time or twice as long as that (to cover the commute home.)
  • Kyle made sure that he recorded a number of episodes before launching the podcast to make running it smoother.

Has there been a payoff with clients since starting a podcast?

  • Kyle has grown a personal and professional network in new areas of the country.
  • The podcast has given him a non-sales reason to reach out to different craft beverage makers.
  • Through the podcast, Kyle has developed a better understanding of his clients needs, and those of the industry that he serves.
  • Becoming a better listener who asks better questions has helped both in the office and at home.

How do you promote the show?

  • A podcast library does not expire, so if listeners catch episodes well after those shows are published, the content is still valuable.
  • Kyle has relied on his show’s guests to promote and share each episodes.
  • He promotes the show on Instagram.
  • The show’s audience has grown to about 50 downloads per episode.
  • It’s important to make sure that episodes are properly feeding into the different podcast listening apps: iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, and more.

What other goals have you achieved through the podcast?

  • Kyle is garnering positive feedback about his podcasting style, which reflects Kyle’s goals for starting the show.

What challenges have you faced with podcast?

  • It’s tough to find the time to make the show on a regular basis as he doesn’t work on it during business hours, and does not want to take away from family time.
  • Editing shows in Garage Band (for Apple) is laborious for Kyle.
  • Kyle is considering outsourcing the editing of his shows.
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Building Your Local Audience with Matt Medeiros

With social distancing not going away any time soon, growing a local audience can prove a real challenge. We turned to Matt Medeiros, Director of Podcaster Success at Castos, and host of both the Matt Report and Southcoast.fm, to chat about building a local audience, and getting more value from our digital marketing efforts when we’re so pressed for time already.

Links

Notes

How can businesses build an audience when in-person networking options are limited?

  • The COVID-19 lockdowns and social distancing has shortened the digital learning curve – e.g., so many people know how to Zoom now.
  • Podcasts are coming into their own as folks now know what they are and how to listen to and enjoy them.
  • From a marketing perspective, business owners and leaders are finally understanding how they can promote businesses online.
  • There are so many broadcasting platforms: Facebook Live, Zoom, YouTube Live, podcasting, Instagram Stories and more.
  • – “I see it all as broadcasting”
  • Matt is a mentor in a local accelerator – and he uses that role to meet and network with new businesses.
  • To build a local audience for a podcast, newsletter, or Facebook Group, etc., use your platform to support local businesses – be the voice for local shops, stores, and businesses.

How can we get involved in our local community when we can network in person?

  • For Matt, being involved with the local community is his family history; his family has been involved with the local community for over 80 years.
  • Coworking spaces are a big opportunity for networking. (Side note: check out our episode with John Tooher, who runs HeadRoom.)
  • Blog about local businesses or an issue important to local businesses, and then share that piece with relevant companies and businesses.

How can we promote across more channels when we don’t have time?

  • Find a cadence that works for the business or organization; SouthCoast.fm has a very low cadence.
  • SouthCoast.fm publishes a podcast episode every month and a blog post with that podcast, sends a weekly email newsletter, and a runs a Facebook Group
  • With a Facebook Group, consider what can be automated or made very simple. Think “autopilot”.
  • Be strategic in calls-to-action (CTA); building a distribution list is very important, so consider making the CTA be “Join the email newsletter.”
  • Build up the brand: make it clear how the content that the business is producing is unique, valuable, and worth the time and effort to consume it.
  • Be exclusive: the SouthCoast.fm Facebook Group is open only to businesses and content creators in the SouthCoast area of Massachusetts. That helps build a stronger local community.

How can Castos help folks get into podcasting?

  • Castos is a podcast host with a simple WordPress plugin to help podcasters publish their shows on their sites.
  • Matt and his colleagues work to support podcasters in monetizing their shows.
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Support of Businesses by the State of PA with Katie Muth

With businesses re-opened, and as schools across Pennsylvania consider how best to re-open, many business owners and leaders are looking for answers and support from the government at many levels. We spoke with Senator Katie Muth, the PA Senator for the 44th District in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. We discussed how the State of PA is working to support businesses in Chester County and the greater Philadelphia area.

Links

Notes

Where does Sen. Muth get health information about COVID-19?

Challenges of Reopening in Pennsylvania

What is PA doing to ensure employee and customer safety in efforts to reopen the economy?

  • In our conversation with the Victory Brewing Company, we learned about how Victory’s customers were concerned about how other customers would respond to health guidelines.
  • Most steps from the State of PA have happened through Executive Order
  • Enforcement of health guidelines around wearing masks can be very confusing
    • In the State of PA, 20% of non-compliance is 2 million people
    • We can legislate deterrence to behavior
    • Public “shame train” can help, but the State of PA needs to find ways to support good operators
  • Working to address personal protection equipment (PPE) shortages in the state
    • PPE is not widely manufactured in the United States
    • The State is now working to encourage PA manufacturers to produce PPE
    • The State is working to have tests produced locally
    • The State is coordinating with tech companies to produce a contact tracing system
  • 1/3 of countries across Pennsylvania are experiencing an increased positivity rate of COVID-19, including Chester County

How is the State of PA supporting working parents with school age children?

  • That’s a work-in-progress at the state level
  • Over 170 day care centers have closed since COVID-19 started
  • There are real challenges in working from home and teaching
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Local Beer, Food, and Hospitality with Matt Reimold

With the hospitality industry across Pennsylvania particularly hard hit by the coronavirus lockdowns, many local restaurants, bars, brewers, and distillers found themselves needing to adjust. As Pennsylvania allowed more businesses to reopen their doors, those in the hospitality industry needed to pivot again. We chatted with Matt Reimold, Area Operations Manager with Victory Brewing Company, to learn what Matt and his colleagues have been doing in response to COVID-19.

Links

Notes

Pivoting to Online

  • Victory Brewing Company worked hard to find a way to keep as many staff as possible working and on the payroll. It did need to downsize somewhat by combining operations at a few of its locations.
  • Victory implemented an online ordering system for crowlers and other packaged goods.
  • It coordinated its new online ordering system with in-person pickup at its Downingtown and Parkesburg locations (where Victory staff placed the purchased items in the trunks of customers’ vehicles.)
  • To clear its inventory of kegged beer, Victory offered a sale on crowlers – selling a 32-oz. can of beer for $3.33. That sale was so successful that Victory sold 9 months worth of crowlers in 7 to 8 weeks! In fact, it sold out so quickly that the can manufacturer could not produce new, empty cans fast enough.
  • The success of the crowler sales enabled Victory to bring back some of its staff, getting them back working.

Surveying Customers about Wishes and Concerns

  • As lockdown orders came into place in Chester County, Victory Brewing Company surveyed its customers – to speak directly with its consumers – about their wishes, issues, and concerns about what re-opening taprooms might look like.
  • Victory shared the survey via its email distribution lists and social media outlets.
  • One of the co-founders of Victory Brewing Company, Bill Covaleski, was able to go on a local TV news outlet to talk about the survey.
  • That survey garnered about 7,500 responses, which gave the company lots of customer feedback and guidance about how their customers and community wanted to see Victory re-open its taprooms when it was safe to do so.

Preparing Taprooms to Welcome Customers and Staff

  • In the survey, Victory learned that customers were concerned about how other customers would respond to masks and social distancing.
  • Victory implemented a new reservation system to enable guests to be seated in a safe space at the appointed time.
  • Customers asked for regular and clear communication; Victory upped its own communication with its customers via social media, its website, and emails.
  • Victory’s clear communication has helped the company’s general managers and taproom teams communicate directly with customers.
  • Victory is following the CDC and Pennsylvania health guidelines. It has also brought in more teams focused specifically on keeping all areas of the taprooms clean.
  • There was a big request for outdoor seating – which Victory addressed in a major way at all of its taprooms.
  • Victory Brewing Company wanted to set the bar for customer safety – and installed an advanced air purification systems at all of its taprooms. (See the linked press release in the Notes section above.)
  • All the taprooms have been implemented with 7′ spacing, instead of the basic 6′ as required by health guidelines.
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Creating Online Courses with Chris Badgett

As businesses look to diversify their revenue streams, many are considering selling online courses and training materials. We spoke with Chris Badgett, the Co-Founder and CEO of LifterLMS, a learning management system for WordPress websites. We spoke with Chris about how businesses in Chester County can begin to sell their knowledge and expertise online.

Links

Notes

What is a Learning Management System (LMS)?

  • Three primary buckets of LMS users:
    • Expert industry;
    • Traditional schools; and
    • Companies and their training portals
  • Imposter syndrome is real, but it is a addressable challenge
  • Businesses can use a LMS to educate prospects about the industry or current customers about products or services
  • An LMS can be very flexible

Pivot to Digital Case Study: Balloon Artist Training

  • Ziv Raviv, owner of Kivi Media, took a love of balloon art and earned over $200,000 in a year serving a tiny niche, teaching customers balloon art

What goes into creating an online course?

  • A COVID-19 idea: restaurant owners could teach customers to cook their signature dishes at home
  • The training could cover putting together a shopping list and actually preparing the entire meal
  • Simple is better for getting started
  • Microsoft PowerPoint allows for recording screencasts and Zoom can be used to record talking-head videos; even entire courses can be recorded on a phone, but get a tripod or self-stick
  • Get the fundamentals of online training right:
    • Focus on a clear customer
    • Address a very specific problem
    • Aim for a clear result or resolution
    • Follow a clear mechanism or method (“the secret sauce”)

Teachers and Schools

  • Teachers are learning to flip the classroom using tools like Zoom and LMS
  • Training videos are recorded in advance, where online video calls become more like coaching or Q&A sessions

Get in the Beginner’s Mindset

  • Training is easier to produce when it’s super focused – don’t try to boil the ocean
  • Be sure to keep the customer in mind – get back to a beginner’s mindset

What does an online course or training look like?

  • Different course frameworks:
    • Learn a process – e.g., learn a recipe
    • Behavior change – getting in shape, adjusting diet, etc.
    • Case Study – learn by deconstructing what others have done
    • Resource Course – create a library of very useful tools and materials
    • Hybrid – mixing the other four frameworks

Focus on the Customer

  • Make everything about the customer, and not about money
  • Put the customer first: focus on the customer’s success and profits will flow in due course
  • Offer support for customers: provide weekly Zoom calls, create an online communities (i.e., a Facebook group)
  • Coaching at a group or individual level can deliver more value for those customers, and provide additional revenue for the business
  • Consider the 1,000 True Fans approach
  • Read: Building a Story Brand by Donald Miller

What is technically involved with adding an LMS to a website?

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Building Revenue Streams with Don Reid, Jr.

In what is a jam packed conversation, Don Reid, Jr. shared his own experiences as he works to keep his business afloat amidst COVID-19. As the CEO of a web design company in Delaware County, Coyote Web Design, Don helps businesses with smaller budgets get online with websites. In our conversation, Don chatted through a range of advice and guidance for small businesses to successfully navigate the coronavirus economy.

Links

Notes

Tools

What are you telling clients about marketing and design in the coronavirus economy?

  • Build multiple revenue streams
    • “You need to have a couple streams of income.”
    • Don heard a podcast or watched a video from Joe Casabona about the value of creating multiple streams of income talk – and wondered about doing the same
  • Use social media to learn and connect with industry leaders
    • Don has changed the way he manages his Twitter account: he started following people, businesses, and organizations in the web design and web marketing industry
    • Don advises his clients to the same – take the same approach by following industry leaders on social media
    • Review and consider what highly successful businesses and see what they’re doing
  • Build a distribution list!
    • Sign up for email newsletters to see how other folks are using the newsletters – emulate what works
    • Don recommends MailChimp to his clients: it’s a free tool for getting started
  • Respond to emails and comments to build connections with customers and leads
    • Don cited the example of Kori Ashton, who has responded to Don’s communication with him
  • LINK: Episode 10

Can you share an example of a client who has embraced change successfully?

  • Example – Successful Advice!Told a client to look at email newsletter
  • Set up a funnel on their site to build email list
  • Respond to the email/comments 

COVID-19 forced businesses to pause: Use that time to reposition and improve online marketing efforts

  • Use the coronavirus economy slowdown to learn more about digital marketing
  • Start a podcast, create some YouTube videos, start a newsletter, or do something to begin building multiple revenue streams
  • Create something and put it out there, knowing full well that everything won’t be perfect right out of the gate
  • Get involved with affiliate marketing programs with the vendors that we use for our client projects
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Pivoting to Online Sales and Marketing with Joe and Liam

As more and more businesses are allowed to open across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Joe Casabona and Liam Dempsey discuss how businesses have pivoted their business operations to online and ecommerce. As web focused professionals, Joe and Liam share ideas and tips to help businesses get online, and offer a few local examples of businesses which have successfully implemented a change.

Notes:

VIA DAILY LOCAL: Chester County on target to transition to ‘green’ later this month

Ecommerce Solutions

Newsletter Tools

Marketing Reading

Chester County examples

Previous Episode Mentions