Karen Renzi

Beyondus, Inc. - Owner
Youngstown, NY
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  • As part of my role as VP of our ABWA chapter in Niagara Falls, I set up the speaker programming for the meetings. May's speaker will be a highly regarded and well connected sales & business trainer/coach. Last week I was finalizing details with him and he requested a meeting with me.

    I had an inkling that this was a "get to know you" (aka sales) appointment for him, but that was fine with me since I am actively working on improving our business and sales as you all know. Plus, I decided that if nothing else, I could "reverse-engineer" the meeting to learn from his techniques.

    Quite honestly, I was flattered that he was interested to take the time to learn about me (Sales Lesson #1: Make your prospect feel special.) He told me he usually only accepts about 20 clients a year. His portfolio was filled with some of the biggest names around. And I know he has a sterling reputation.

    Since I'm already blogging to the world about my business, I didn't see any reason to hold back so I [...]

  • I owe you an update...

    February 26, 2009

    When Angela started this blog project, she asked all of us "official" bloggers to chronicle our journey towards achieving a specific goal.

    Mine was to complete a long overdue business plan by January 2009. I confess: I missed my deadline - sorry!

    But I'm not stressing about it because I've achieved a lot. And I think for me at least, what's more important than completing the goal on time has been the journey to get there. It has ended up being a pursuit of more than a business plan - more like a life plan!

    Here are a few of my accomplishments - I have:

    • Completed about half of our business plan. I found a template I liked which helped structure what I needed to examine. I've reassessed our positioning, our branding, our main focus & product offerings, and set 1-year and 5-year goals. All that's left is filling in specific marketing and sales tactics and some financials (which is not that crucial for us because we are not pursuing additional funding at this time).
    • Entered in [...]
  • Selling Ideas

    February 25, 2009

    Wow, I've missed STS. The last couple of weeks flew by and seem to have been filled with family calamities. My husband went to Italy to be there when his grandfather passed away, renewing my utter awe for single mothers. And he brought back some travel germs along with the parmeggiano cheese and Italian candy in his bag - he and my littlest one have just finished up their antibiotics. Fun.

    So anyway, I've been percolating this blog post for the more than a week and decided it's high time I get this out.

    My conundrum lately is this: how to better MARKET and SELL IDEAS.

    I think all service providers/consultants can relate to this. What we sell is often not as tangible as a manufactured product. And in many ways it's more difficult to price. How to convince someone that OUR ideas, our intellect, our willingness to learn are worth XX dollars? I know that when we produce a tactical marketing plan, if clients commit to executing on our recommendations, they will see results.

    But [...]

  • In Praise of Organization

    February 6, 2009

    I am absolutely NOT the most organized person. [Friday sidebar: When I was a teenager, my room was usually so messy with castoff clothes that my dad would sometimes stage a "great clothes escape" - with my shirts and sweaters trying to climb out the windows.]

    However now that I have a family, marriage, and business to manage, I've finally discovered how focusing on developing organization strategies for my business and life helps, allowing me to better work ON the business. I just read an article talking about ROO - Return on Organization and I agree whole-heartedly.

    Now my organization is still a work in progress but a few things seem to be helping including...


    My New Master Calendar & Systems

    • CALENDAR: I am trying to institute a master family/business calendar. Since I work with my husband it becomes imperative to have a shared calendar, which we haven't successfully done up to this point. He resisted my paper calendar approach (shown above) but I think we have found a [...]
  • Who the Heck Are We?

    January 30, 2009

    The answer to this question was of course one of the main points of my quest to complete our business plan. I wrote an earlier post about the personality of the brand we wanted to convey, but perhaps more importantly, we needed to examine and decide WHAT we wanted our company to be.

    I knew this was an issue because people have flat out asked me what it is we do/offer. This after discussions and blog posts and newsletters. Sometimes even after we complete projects for them.

    No, as a marketer I am definitely NOT proud that my OWN company message was not clear (shoemaker's child syndrome). So for you STS commenters out there who have asked "what the heck do you do?" - here's my current working mission statement/company description. Still broad I know, but better I think:

    Beyondus partners with you to help build your brand online. We are a marketing firm specializing in online strategy and web design.

    In case you are struggling with defining your company's focus, I'll break [...]

  • Now that the flu bug that invaded my household has subsided, I am happy to be back on STS and ready to start reporting some significant progress on my goal.

    Back when I started this blog, I set this month as my goal date to complete a long overdue business plan. My husband and I started this business in 2002, I came on full-time at the end of 2004, and never in that time did we formally write a business plan. A series of personal changes - moves, pregnancy, second baby - resulted in disturbing the growth trend of the business.

    We spent too much time just existing as a business - doing enough to get by. It wasn't working, at least not enough. I decided it was time to step back and take a critical look at where we were taking the business.

    I signed up for a business coaching program and started this blog. I started allowing myself to recognize that it was important to set time aside to think and plan rather than just act (which always seemed to have a more direct connection to [...]

  • I can't believe I'm using a public website as a confessional for an embarrassing story, but here it goes. (And somehow this is easier than confessing to my husband/partner!)

    Anyway, let this serve as a cautionary tale for you. This story ties into 2 common topics discussed on STS: Balance/Time Management and Sales.

    I was invited to respond to an RFP to redesign a website for a large organization in November. Of course there was a deadline. I was excited to receive the RFP and looking forward to responding - it was exactly the type of project we want.

    But...I'm sure you can tell where this is headed...I was juggling lots of balls and of all of them, I dropped this one.

    I had a date in the recesses of my mind, which I THOUGHT was the date I needed to sit down and write the proposal, but which was in reality the due date. So I did the proposal anyway and submitted it, but a little late.

    I just spoke with the contact at the organization today (after a long game of phone tag). Th [...]

  • The Web We Weave: Part 1

    January 9, 2009

    Tangent Alert: This morning I was sidetracked by a little investigation into site/blog rankings and ended up on Technorati. (OK so maybe I'm a little behind on my policing of the blogosphere.) I used Technorati probably 6 or 7 years ago at my previous employer, but haven't really been back. Anyway, I found my Beyondus blog was already indexed there. What is Technorati?

    "Technorati was founded to help bloggers to succeed by collecting, highlighting, and distributing the online global conversation. As the leading blog search engine and most comprehensive source of information on the blogosphere, we index more than 1.5 million new blog posts in real time and introduce millions of readers to blog and social media content."

    So I decided I should claim my STS blog there too, which required me to post a link here. And in a stream of consciousness way, I decided that now's as good a time as any to attempt to document a social media marketing strategy for my business plan.

    I've boiled [...]

  • Working with your DH

    January 8, 2009

    I'm not sure how many of the rest of you women entrepreneurs out there have taken the plunge not just in marriage, but also in business with your husbands. I did. We married in 2001 and started the business in 2002. Some days I think I am utterly out of my mind, and some days I wouldn't have it any other way. 

    Karen and Alessandro

    Me and Alessandro - June 2006

    But in the end I have come to terms with the fact that it is VERY easy to spend TOO MUCH time with your spouse. It started out great - no fights, easy delineation of responsibilities, but we've been working together full-time for 4 years now and it's no longer quite so easy.

    It's tough enough to balance work and life when you run a business, but gets tougher when you add in working from a home office (no physical separation) and working with your spouse (no unbiased "shoulder to cry on" at home to vent about work, and vice versa). It sometimes seems like enough to land you in the loony bin. But we're both too stubborn to give up the entrep [...]

  • [First, a quick side note... my resolutions here are more personal resolutions for making me a happier, more successful business owner (and person in general). I also submitted a more business-focused resolution in response to a HARO query and it was published on the Toilet Paper Entrepreneur blog. See #21! Now I'm really on the hook this year!]

    Anyway, my final resolution here is probably the most important one because it so directly relates to my sanity. I need to learn how to make time for me.

    I hardly EVER take time to do my own thing for fun. The closest things to it lately were shopping some mall sales with my daughter this weekend and turning brunette at the salon yesterday (I'll try to post a pic at some point if anyone cares). While I was sitting there I realized that it was probably the longest I'd sat still without any kids around for weeks.

    So, in 2009, I'm determined to make time for myself. Doing things that are not chore, work, or family-related, if I can [...]

  • Resolution #2: Focus

    December 30, 2008

    Both of my parents are school psychologists. You can guess where this is going - yes I was a guinea pig for new testing kits more than once, used as an example in my dad's parenting classes, and most relevant to this post, they always thought I was "borderline" ADD.

    I agree that attention is not my strong suit. I am easily distracted and often try to do a million things at once. Combine this with my tendency towards perfectionism (which is more a hindrance than a help as others who suffer from it know) and the resulting control freak symptoms, and I often end up doing many things halfway, poorly or not at all, rather than a few things well.

    So in 2009, I am trying to streamline. I have selected, with the help of my coach, 3 main areas to focus on:

    • Sales
    • Internal Marketing Strategy
    • Direct Client Projects

    The rest of the things will need to fill in where they can fit, but I have to be willing to let them go when they don't absolutely REQUIRE my intervention.

    So Focus: i [...]

  • Resolution #1: Think Positive

    December 29, 2008

    I've been doing a lot of introspection over the last few months - much of it thanks to and with the support of the ladies here at STS. What started as a pretty straightforward goal (formalize a business plan) has become some kind of quest to reassess myself, put it in relation to the business, and yank it all into alignment.

    Let me tell ya, this introspection stuff is hard work. Changing the way I think about things is hard work. Making time to think about the fundamentals, and allowing myself to feel like there is VALUE in taking that time is hard work.

    One of the basic principles I've been trying to incorporate into my personal and business life is positive thinking... abundance... affirmations... law of attraction, whatever you want to call it. I suppose it's my own little experiment. I try it for big stuff, which I don't expect to happen overnight. And I've tried it for little stuff (like last week when I started feeling sick like the rest of my family repeating "I will be [...]

  • (Re)Branding Beyondus

    December 22, 2008

    Even though I own a marketing business, I am my own worst client. Probably the single most important piece of my "long overdue" business plan is to get down on paper my OWN marketing plan. Somehow it's much harder to get it done for myself than it is to do it for clients.

    Anyway, I decided to look at things from the most basic perspective: what is our own Brand?

    While I am still working out our USP and deciding on positioning, we have done some work looking at the characteristics that define "us." What words would we use to describe us? How do we think clients would describe us and their experience working with us?

    I made 2 columns: for "Current" and "Desired." Pretty much all the current descriptors would carry over to our desired brand image - here's a sampling:


    • Service-oriented
    • Reliable
    • Friendly
    • "Web"
    • Modern/refined design
    • Trustworthy
    • Knowledgeable
    • Cost-efficient
    • Balanced b/n tech & design
    • Act in client's best interest


    • Personal
    • Irre [...]
  • DIY PR Successes

    December 15, 2008

    Much has been said on STS about using DIY PR tactics. I just wanted to chime in on a couple of my recent experiences. A little "savoring success" for a Monday afternoon.

    --- I respond to any HARO query that I feel I can give an on-topic pitch for. I don't expect to hear back from many, if any, of the reporters - though typically if they are interested they email for more. However, this weekend I discovered a BIG quote from one of my HARO responses posted here on Careerbuilder.com.

    THE LESSON: Google yourself every once in a while. I would never have known it was there without a little Google search on my name. I will be setting up a Google alert now for my name in addition to my company name!

    --- Another HARO query will, fingers crossed, result in an attributed quote in the January issue of a major magazine. (Don't want to jinx it but I'll post it if it publishes.)

    THE LESSON: Follow up and offer more - approach from the standpoint of helping. I answered the first round o [...]

  • You may have noticed I've been MIA for several days. There is an explanation for this: my grandmother passed away last week. She was 97 and essentially uncommunicative for about 2 years, so it was somewhat expected and in a way a blessing for her.

    However, her passing, in addition to being emotional of course, dealt a blow to my work and business. As entrepreneurs, we often wear many many hats and carry much of the business ourselves - so sometimes even a small glitch in our life can have a ripple effect on personal and professional activities.

    My father was an only child, so I helped him meet with the funeral home to finalize arrangements, host all the calling hours, and of course the funeral. These activities ate up the better part of 3 work days when all was said and done. I fell behind about 300 emails by the weekend, and my husband managed to salvage an RFP opportunity by making a call for me when I realized that my memory was off by a day on the RFP due date. (Got it in j [...]

  • I've been formulating this thanks list in my head over the last day or two (great minds think alike, Alisa!)...

    In my Professional Life, I am thankful for...

    • My patient supporters and mentors, who even signed their names to my strengths & weakness assessment.
    • The wonderful STS community. This is the first time I've committed myself to a social network and I think I picked the best one out there. I can't express how great it is to have the extended support of the women here - who even continue to comment and give ideas even though I am awful at individually responding (sorry)! I DO read and learn from every single comment - thank you.
    • HARO. What a great invention, Peter Shankman. I love my daily emails and responding to queries. I've been quoted a couple times (once for an article about an obscure pregnancy symptom - completely non-work-related - and coming up soon in January, fingers crossed, INC. magazine!) I constantly forward them to clients too.
    • Hiring an assistant. My [...]

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