Trendsetters, Influencers and Connectors

andrea-headshotclr_Guest post – Andrea Baxter is a senior marketing professional and a co-founder of Smart Cookies, founded in early 2007. Educating women on how to be smart with their money while living fabulously, the Smart Cookies have appeared on CNN, Oprah, MSNBC, and ABC News. They have published two best-selling books and host their own TV show.

As a businesswoman, more importantly, an entrepreneur, I have come to learn that there are 3 very important people you must surround yourself with in order to help your business grow and make it successful: trendsetters, influencers and connectors. Why? Because these are the people who are going to believe in you, believe in what you are doing and will want to help you grow your business as ferociously as you do.

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The Art of Persuasion

We’ve all been there. You are about to walk out of the store, empty-handed, when the salesperson suddenly works their charm – turning your skepticism into a sale. Then you get home, look at your purchase and think: how on earth was I convinced so easily?

The art of persuasion might seem like an innate talent for the lucky, but any serious entrepreneur must hone this skill in order to find success, persuading others to invest, to support, to buy. So how do you convince more people to buy online? These three business experts reveal their secrets.

  • Peter Shallard explains there is only one question you have to answer to make a successful pitch: “Why?”
  • Brian Clark of Copyblogger explores some basic strategies to write more persuasively – including using story-telling, repetition, and comparisons.
  • The Six Minutes Blog lists several tips to become a more persuasive speaker, as Andre Dlugan emphasizes the importance of being understood, logical, and real.

Incorporating these techniques into both your website and your everyday life won’t be an overnight solution, but they will challenge you to look at your message through a strategic and more effective lens – no matter the audience.

When are you at your most persuasive? What was the last time someone used these tactics successfully on you?

Website of the Month:

bombshellWhat do you get when you combine a creative business mind, rubber stamps, and cheeky retro humor? The answer is our Website of the Month:!

The brainchild of Shannon Lucier, this San Diego-based small business sells vintage style rubber stamps with attitude. Shannon has been using the website builder since 2007, when she first created her business plan. Shannon told us her story:

“I had another company which seemed like a lot of hard work with little reward – so I did a business plan that emphasized balance: between my creative side, time I would have to invest and the income I expected to make. This took me a month of brainstorming, trying to look for a niche that hadn’t been done before.

In August 2007 I decided to go for it, and the tools were so extensive and clean that it was just perfect for my business. I knew nothing about HTML or how to get a website up – but it was so easy that now I have to streamline my content!” currently averages over 290 unique visitors daily, and generates thousands of dollars in revenue every month. She has even managed to drum up some pretty impressive publicity for her business. Shannon is currently rolling out an innovative new line of digital products for her business to help support new customer markets, rather than compete with other existing products.

Shannon was kind enough to pass on a few tips for other aspiring entrepreneurs:

“If you’re just starting out, really think through the entire aspect of your business: a business plan is so important. I gave up three different ideas that didn’t work because of money, or time. I’m proud of the fact that I planned for everything from pricing to shipping, which made it easier for myself. Those details will make or break your business.”

These are definitely sound words of advice from a veteran entrepreneur. Thank you Shannon and congratulations to you again on making our Website of the Month!

Website of the Month: Call to Doody

calltodoody1“If you have a dog that poops, we have a person that scoops!”

Nathalie Bland has always been passionate about dogs. Three years ago, she read a Readers’ Digest article about “the top 10 disgusting jobs that people will pay others to do.” Inspired by what she read and fed up with her corporate job, Nathalie quit and decided to open her business: Call To Doody.

The Houston-based company frees dog owners from their worst chore: poop scooping. The business serves anybody with a dog and a yard, as well as parks and apartment complexes.  Promoting clean yards at an inexpensive price, Nathalie’s small business has grown in just two and a half years to 7 employees and 3 trucks.

Nathalie spoke about the role her website plays in her business: “I had never really done anything online before, other than email. I didn’t want to pay someone hundreds of dollars to update my website, and not even have control over it. So I did a 10 day free trial with and within a couple hours, knew I could handle it. You guys made it so easy, and whenever I have a question your support staff responds promptly and works with me until I get it.”

Nathalie is enjoying her newfound independence: “I can’t wait for Monday morning anymore. I get up every day and get to work with like-minded people and be passionate about what I do. There are long days, but when you do something you’re interested in, it’s not really work. Whenever we go to a dog owner’s house they are always so happy to see us – it frees up their spare time for the things that they want to do!”

In 2009, the business experienced 52% growth, and Call To Doody is now looking to expand into the Dallas and San Antonio markets. Nathalie shares a few words of wisdom for aspiring entrepreneurs: “If you have an idea, listen to yourself – not others. If I had listened to everyone else I’d still be wearing my suit and heels, traveling four days a week.”

Website of the Month: Southern Missouri Mule Outfitter & Equine Supply

2010-04-08-somomule2Welcome back our Website of the Month! This month’s spotlight is on Ken Levine from Southern Missouri Mule Outfitter & Equine Supply (

Ken retired as a federal law enforcement agent in 2007 to focus on his love – outfitting mules. As a trained ferrier (horseshoeing) his hobby quickly became a business after he set up his website using is a retail sales outfitter for horses and mules, selling pack equipment, tents and even Amish tack for backcountry pack saddles.

“It was very easy to figure out, and I don’t have any HTML knowledge,” said Ken. “In two and a half years we went from zero to making six figures a year from the business. My wife quit her bank job and we have more time to run our farm now.”

Ken’s site currently receives around 5,000 unique visitors per month. He offers this advice to aspiring entrepreneurs: “You need to be dedicated to your business idea and be organized – be on top of everything. From shipping to selling, this has been a labor of love with thousands of hours going in.”

You can tell the man truly enjoys what he does! Congratulations again to Ken and, our March Website of the Month.

November Website of the Month

Rub and scrub your hands together for DC Body Lab (, November’s Website of the Month!

2009-11-3-dc-body-labThis California-based business has an exotic and luxurious collection of moisturizing body butters and hydrating scrubs to put your skin at ease. Their colorful, fruit-themed site design will leave your imagination running wild with dreams of raspberries, coconuts and honeysuckle.

With winter around the corner, DC Body Lab is an excellent starting point for anyone looking to build a great skin care regimen or fight off dry skin!

Congrats DC Body Lab!

October Website of the Month

Put your hands together for October’s delicious Website of the Month,! Founded by three brothers in New York City, this site is selling “mind-blowing” tacos, tortas, and other yummy Mexican dishes. These guys are hungry for success and it shows – they’ve recently been featured on ABC News, New York Times and in other top-tier media. Great job Calexico – maybe you could send us some burritos?


If you’d like to be featured as Website of the Month, please send a short description of your site and a link to

September Website of the Month

Big congratulations to our newest Website of the Month, OB Sod Garden Center Inc. (!

OB Sod Garden Center uses their website to support and further the reach of their bricks-and-mortar stores in Tampa, Florida. Their specialty is sod that’s ideal for Florida’s warm environment.

Their clean site design and straightforward navigation makes it easy for their customers to find exactly what they’re looking for. Congrats OB Sod Garden Center for a job well done!


If you’d like to be featured as Website of the Month, please send a short description of your site and a link to Website of the Month

Our customers do some amazing things with their websites, which is why we’re launching our new “Website of the Month” blog feature! Each month we’ll showcase one customer website, so you can see what’s possible when you start building a website with
Our very first Website of the Month is! transformed a simple idea into an impressive and successful business with their straightforward, easy-to-use website and expansive catalog of traditional razors and shaving products. Congratulations – thanks for being part of the family!

If you’d like to be featured as Website of the Month, please send a short description of and a link to your site to