Tips Archives

Starting A Small Business

 

It’s a great time to start your small business as an entrepreneur—in the last decade, technology has leveled the playing field for big and small businesses and propelled an entrepreneurial revolution. As an entrepreneur, you now have more access to information that enables you to make more intelligent choices more quickly. You have an advantage over big businesses in that you’re lighter, more flexible, and faster on your feet.  As a small business, you can target new markets more quickly, and you can turn on a dime.

Small Business Start Up

But being a successful entrepreneur requires that you look at the big picture and follow a plan through from beginning to end. Rieva Lesonsky, editor-in-chief of Entrepreneur Magazine gives some practical guidelines that can help you when beginning your own enterprise:

1.Don’t Quit Your Day Job.

Consider starting your small business part-time, especially if it’s online, while you’re working and have a steady income. It usually takes six months to a year to get a small business going and you don’t want your ability to make your house payment to hinge upon your company being an overnight success. Start with what you can manage, financially and time-wise, and scale up as your small business grows.

2.Find Your Niche.

The days of general stores are over. Particularly online, consumers are looking for stores that specialize. You have to find a need—something a specific group of people want, but can’t get at the big chain stores—and fill it. Advises Lesonsky, “You can’t compete with the big guys, so you have to find where the big guys aren’t and go into your niches.”

3.Have an Online Presence.

Even if you’re not planning to start an online retail business, consider that the internet can still play a valuable role in your company. Having an online presence eliminates the limitations of physical location and broadens your customer base by, literally, millions. It’s also a great tool for promoting yourself and letting people, even in your own area, know that you’re there, and what you’re doing.

4.Refuse to Quit.

Successful entrepreneurship requires creativity, energy, and a drive to keep going when you fail. Few people realize that before Bill Gates created the extremely successful Microsoft 3.0, he created a Microsoft 1.0 and 2.0, both of which flopped—but he kept at it. And that determination and refusal to give up is what will separate successful entrepreneurs from unsuccessful ones. Says Lesonsky, “Arm yourself with optimism to get beyond the ‘No’ or the trouble. There’s nothing wrong in failure—just don’t repeat the same mistake!”

Small Business Start Up

Data Entry

Want a digital format of the hard copy of any document?  technology can be the right option. Changes are taking place in the field of Data Entry service with the improvement of modern technology. Apparently, you may think OCR service as a substitute of data entry service, however, OCR services come with both advantages and disadvantages.

Overview of OCR 

Optical Character Recognition is a modern technology for digital replication. OCR technology comes with software, hardware and an additional circuit in the computer to execute conversion process. OCR software can not only read the fonts but also recognize line breaks in a document. The process of OCR is quite simple and easy to manage. The entire process of converting hard copy of a document into electronic document may take only a few seconds. 

Advantages of OCR For Data Entry

If you are looking for only converting any document into editable digital format then there is nothing better than OCR services. Optical Character Recognition process saves the time and effort of developing a digital replica of any document. No need to type characters manually on a digital file. Just place the hard copy of the document inside a scanner and get the digital format of that document with the help of OCR software.

With OCR process you can convert a document in several electronic formats like – Microsoft Word, Excel, HTML, PDF, Text or Rich Text formats.

Documents, which are converted through OCR process, are editable and allow the user to modify the content. Compared to manual data entry service the cost of OCR service is quite less for developing electronic replica of any document. OCR service proved better than data entry service for the organizations, which are engaged in developing electronic copy of printed books.

Disadvantages of OCR Service

There are several disadvantages of OCR service regarding the cost as well as the process of recognizing the characters. Initially, the cost of developing replica through OCR process may seem lucrative but if you consider the cost of entire OCR system life cycle, the cost will be much higher than data entry service Correcting OCR errors counts more cost than preparing a digital format of the document.

High accuracy OCR software can read more than 400 characters/second, approximately, and generates less number of OCR errors compared to any ordinary OCR software. Therefore, if you are looking for OCR process you have to maintain a separate workstation for correcting OCR errors.

OCR software is not efficient in recognizing the handwriting and the fonts, which are quite similar to handwriting. In such cases manual typing plays better role than OCR process.

Compared to ordinary OCR process, conversion life cycle cost is less in data entry service and it provides complete flexibility to data entry operators preparing digital documents from multiple formats like hard copy or audio files. Consider the service of medical transcription where you need to prepare digital documents from audio files. OCR cannot prepare digital document by scanning any audio files. In such services, data entry can prove better than OCR.

It has been found that for services like mailing list conversion or data extraction from the Internet, manual data entry services are still widely accepted across the industry. Data entry service comes with several levels – staring from inserting raw data in a document to an error free document. OCR is efficient during the initial level of data entry service but cannot be a substitute of data entry service. However, the selection of a right service (Data Entry or OCR) depends on requirements of the job.

Data Entry versus OCR

Small Business

Small business is a term that is used day-to-day. That is because in the past decade the rise of small business has been larger than in any other decade prior. This is largely due to the increasing number of services that are available to small business owners, to enable them to keep their business running.

There really isn't any guidelines for when the term small business is used, however it is simply defined as a business which has a small number of employees. How few employees is debatable, and the definition of when a business changes from a small business to a larger corporation varies both by country and industry. This number is generally less then 100 employees.

Small business Office / Home Office

As mentioned before small businesses due to their nature, are in most times sole traders, partnerships, or privately owned businesses. Common in may countries, small businesses, are most oftenly related to: accountants, restaurants, guest houses, photographers, small shops, hairdressers, tradesmen, solicitors, lawyers, small-scale manufacturing etc. 

Small businesses more often are located in private homes, for two main reasons. The first is because it is economical and in most cases convenient. The second reason is that there are several benifits with tax,etc for having your business in your home.

Running a small business is an exciting venture, and a great way to introduce yourself into the business world, and to gain business sense. If you are interested in starting your own small business, I would recommend having a talk with a local lawyer or accountant, who will be able to answer questions that are specific to your local area. Good luck with your new venture!

Definition Of A Small Business 

Phone Systems 

I recently left the company I was working for and took a new position with a new employer at a much higher salary.  My business is IT, and I left the comfort and stabilty of my old job to work for a startup firm which I think will be a big success.  They knew they were going to have to pay for quality personnel so they had no problem meeting my demands in terms of salary, benefits and stock options.  What I didn't realize is that while they aren't skimping on compensation, the office environment they provide leaves a lot to be desired.

I can put up with the miniscule cubical.  I can live with the lack of natural light (although I feel like a cave troll).  I can even do without the cafeteria, water cooler, and coffee maker.  What I really miss is my old phone.  

Modern Phone Systems

You see, my old phone was indeed, not an "old" phone.  It was a multi-line handling, LCD displaying, caller IDing monster that gave me more options than a new car salesman.  My "new" phone has none of those amenities.  There is no transfer or hold button, no screen to display who is calling, no headset and no electronic directory.  In short, the only difference between this phone and a Garfield phone you might buy at Spencer's Gifts is that this phone isn't shaped like a cartoon cat.  My job would be so much easier and my days so much more productive if only we had a real office phone system in place.  The current system is so poorly automated that only a very small percentage of the calls I get are actually meant for me.  Likewise, I get several E-mails a day asking why I haven't returned phone calls in regard to messages I never received.

I guess the old addage that "you don't know what you've got until it's gone" really holds true in this case. 

Since I came here, I have actively lobbied to have the old phone system replaced, but to no avail.  I think I may be the only one here who knows what he's missing.  Oh well…I'm sure I'm not the only one out there who has experienced this.  Maybe you too have lost a beloved phone in a career move.  I sympathize with you.  I'd leave my number so we could comiserate, but you'd probably never reach me anyway.

A Phone by Any Other Name…

Phone System

Because of a recent boom in business, my company needed to update our office phone system. We had a very nice system in place already, but our business had tripled within a matter of months. Since we rely on phone orders for the vast majority of our sales, we needed to upgrade our phone system in order to handle the increase in call volume. We were lucky to have a great relationship with our phone system provider, as within days we were able to have a new system ready to put in place. It's not often that businesses find themselves in situations like this, but when they do come up, it's important to know that the companies you have chosen to do business with are capable of meeting your needs in a timely manner.  

Compare The Phone System First

Prior to this happening, we had a trunk study performed, after which we were told that we were losing business as a result of not having a new phone system in place. Anyone who has ever run a business knows that losing money because you are ill equipped to handle your customer's needs is the worst way to lose money. Being able to make a phone call and knowing it would be taken care of quickly and efficiently was a great relief to me. I knew that with every passing day, thousands of dollars were being lost and that's something I couldn't afford to let happen. The whole situation made me think about the importance of knowing qualified vendors who can get you the products you need, when you need them. 

I soon began looking into other areas where we were dependent upon other companies for goods and services to see if we were utilizing vendors who could facilitate the changes our growing business was experiencing. After a long, hard look, we decided to switch shipping companies and to switch to a new overnight call center operator. It's not that our needs weren't being met at the time, but that if things continued to grow, we would likely outpace our current vendor's ability to provide service. Being proactive in your business relationships is just as important as being proactive about your business. After all, most companies depend on other companies to make their operations run smoothly. I encourage all business owners to seek out the service providers and vendors that can handle your needs both now and in the future. When your business grows, you'll be happy you did.

 

Phone System

New Employees – How To Look After Them

Looking after a new employee during their first few weeks at work can mean the difference between their success and failure as employees as well as your success and failure as an employer, manager or supervisor.  

Proper orientation determines how fast the new employee can be productive and efficient in his or her new job while giving you a good opportunity to make your new employee an efficient part of your team.

New Employees First Few Weeks

Below are 15 suggestions that will help you deal with your new employees during their first few weeks to help make sure that they get started on the right track.

1. Have a induction policy for welcoming and training new employees. Don't just leave it to whoever is available. Human resources should cover the HR side of the induction with a trainer (if you have one) or a senior manager or supervisor covering the more hands on part of the job. Either way the following is a minimum of what is required.

2. Give your employee a warm welcome. Don't just point them to the area they work and let them get on with it. Nothing makes a new employee feel comfortable more than a warm welcome.

3. Give them a brief description about your role as a supervisor. Knowing who's in charge and what you expect from them will make them more comfortable with you as the boss.

4. Give your new employee a welcome tour of the whole department or, if the site isn't too big, the whole site. Make sure they know how to get to the bathroom, emergency exits, cafeteria, etc.

5. Give them a brief summary about the company, its history as well as its mission and objectives.

6. If possible demonstrate your company’s products and/or services, paying particular attention to the products relating to the area in which the employee will work.  This will make them more secure and confident with the work that they are going to be doing. 

7. Explain to your new employee how the company works particularly if the company has any unusual working practices or a different structure than the norm.  Again, this will help familiarize them with the company.

8. Tell your new employee about the company’s competitors and what is being done to make sure that the company is staying ahead of the competition.

9. Explain in detail your new employee’s responsibilities and describe their job functions. Don't leave it to the other employees to teach them the basics unless there is a trained member of staff whose job it is.

10. Let your new employee be aware of what you and the company expect from them.  This includes proper work ethics, productivity, teamwork, and appearance.

11. Explain the specific conditions and requirements of employment, including hours, pay, pay periods, holiday pay, sickness provisions, pension, medical benefits, lateness etc.

12. Be very clear about the safety rules, policies, procedures and regulations. Explain and show proper use of safety devices.

13.Introduce your new employee to his or her co workers along with a brief description of their jobs and responsibilities.

14. Outline opportunities for promotions and other opportunities.

15. To give them time to acclimatize give them a work buddy, a friendly experienced worker, to show them the job and work with them for the first week of two.

Covering all of these basics will help new employees settle in and they will be more efficient able to be contribute much more quickly compared to employees that are just left to their own devices.

How To Keep Employees

Small Business – Mistakes

Here’s an interesting notion:  Do you realize that there are mistakes you can make at various stages of your small business’ growth that can be slowly killing it for months or even years if you don’t watch for them?  

Well, these small business mistakes do exist and they are not just reserved for the rookie companies.  Many working businesses, including those you might think are “successful” because they’ve been around for 10+ years, are often still making them… and are possibly losing a lot of money and/or wasting a lot of time in the process. 

Although some of these big and sneaky mistakes seem aimed more at service type companies, they really do fit the bill for almost any type of industry.  I’ve done my best with the listings below to give examples to prove it.

Underestimating Project/Service Time- This is a big one and it pertains to service companies as well as companies that sell a product. This is a service company’s bread and butter. If you don’t estimate your time to perform each and every service in your repertoire, you will get burned and there is little you can do about it but bite the bullet and learn from it.  The best way to estimate time is to do it once yourself or watch your best employee do the task and then throw in a little fudge factor on top of it. For product companies, time becomes an issue with logistics so be aware!

Most small business owners do not know their Company Numbers/Incorrectly Setting Prices Use your numbers not your competitors numbers. . It’s a common mistake to use a competitor’s as your pricing gauge without actually knowing why they use those numbers.  Think about the nightmare you will get yourself into if you take a competitor’s price, cut it by 10% and then start selling. What if the competition has a bad pricing structure and is barely making money or even losing money?!?!  What if your small business costs are more than theirs?!?!  You can use competitor as a starting point but you can’t base your whole strategy on it.

Daily Mistakes By Small Business Owners

Different industries have their own variables as far as costs go and you need to be aware of them for your project or product pricing.  What you pay for a product you are going to sell is not the only cost to have in your head when you are pricing products.  How much your labor and materials cost for a service is only a piece of an hourly rate.  Employees cost more than just salary and not every employee is part of your labor cost. Every small business has insurance to pay for. There are tons of overhead expenditures that need to be part of your price. Oh, by the way, the big one that many people forget about in their price is the quality factor. What you include as “standard services” or “standard product features” as well as job site etiquette or in store service or warranties all need to go into your pricing. I’ll get to more on why in the next segment.

Not Charging for All of Your Time & Costs, it is amazing how many small business owners overlookit- This seems like a stupid statement to some but I bet most small business owners will admit that they have given away a little too much of the farm at times. Hey, there is nothing wrong with giving a little extra here and there to show you care. But either way, that’s not what I’m talking about here. What concerns me are those that put a lot of quality into their work or products or stores and do not cover the cost for it. As an example, say you run a service company and your competitors don’t do a certain standard service that you do. You can’t just undercut their price to steal a job; you need to have that cost covered in your rate and advertise the fact that it comes with the price upfront. Stores undermine themselves, for example, when they put more people on the floor for customer service but don’t charge for it. These things cost you money and when your competitors don’t do them it costs them less money.  Put out better service and then under price them, and your competition just has to wait a little bit for your small business to fall on its face so they can swoop back in.

As a small business owner you need to believe that you are providing your clients worthwhile wares that deserve to be paid for. If you get the chance to explain why your prices are higher, then take that opportunity and do it.  If they don’t like the fact that you include things that others charge extra for later or that you treat them better, then they are most likely completely price shoppers.  You don’t want them as regular customers anyway.  Trust me. No small business can afford it.

Key factor for most small business owners is not Getting Paid Fast Enough- That’s right, the old cash flow issue.  As long as you are actually making enough money to pay the bills, this problem can be solved, prevented or at least made to be not as bad as it could be.  Here’s the deal for your small business:

First off all, bill customers very promptly. It is very common for a small business to not have the procedures or systems in place to get invoices generated and out the door in a timely fashion (see the next segment for more). Again, this would seem unlikely since that’s the reason why we are doing the work- to get paid. But it is very easy for the people responsible for getting this info to the billing people to be too busy to get it there or not have enough organization to give it to them the right way. Any small business fails or survives by the cash flow. 

The second part to slowing down or stopping a regular cash flow crunch is to make the quickest payment deals possible with customers and the slowest possible with vendors and employees.  If there is any way not to pay employees any more than twice a month, you better do it.  Contractors always have an issue with this. If you must pay weekly, then tell them before they are hired that they will be getting the first week held back, essentially buying you a week. It will help your small business, I promise.

Part three involves credit. If your small business can get a credit card, then get it. This allows for certain important things to be bought (that you can afford) that might come up during a cash flow crunch.  Better yet, especially if you have no choice but to deal with 45+ day customer payments, do your best to get a company line of credit for your small business.  This is a must if you plan on selling to the government or doing commercial service work. These clients often have 60 to 90 day wait periods. Your small business will be dead without the cash flow.

Failure to Have Solid Systems and Procedures in Place For Your Small Business- Too many procedures (known as “red tape”) is the reason why many people start their own business in the first place. Unfortunately, having no procedures and systems in place for your small business at all is not an alternative. Depending on the type of industry, business owners must come to a happy medium or chaos and the unknown will ensue. Some basic examples where procedures or systems are needed include billing, collections, payroll, hr (interviewing, hiring, vacations, benefits, job responsibilities, etc.), manufacturing, operating equipment, maintaining equipment, inventory, sales calls/visits and logistics to name a few. 

Even a one person small business needs to have some admin procedures in place.  This will make it easier to hire temps and subcontractors and control what they are doing for you.  Without at least a watered down version of a system or procedure to do everyday work, you will be to blame for causing many major headaches as your small business grows. I can’t emphasize how important this is for when you bring on new employees. I’m sure you heard this before, but I am also a big proponent of having an employee handbook even for one employee. It’s amazing the trouble people can cause small business owners just because they allow you to pay them.

Spending Advertising Money Just to Say You Advertise-  I would almost rather see my clients not advertise then to spend without regard to tracking the results. There is no point in a marketing campaign if you do not put things in place that allow you to measure how well the plan is working.  The other wasteful part of marketing that many people make the mistake of doing, is not tracking their previously successful campaigns.  Why some people think that just because a $400 dollar a month ad worked once very well for one busy season, that it will automatically work every year after that is beyond me.

Spreading Yourself Too Thin In Your Small Business- This is a classic mistake made by every entrepreneur. The key is to figure out when you are at that “wearing too many hats” point and start getting some help.  The solution here is to know your strengths and to be able see when you are not performing the duties that demand these skills. If you are the best sales person on the company, you can’t get caught up in day-to-day operations. If you do, sales will slip and eventually you won’t have any operations to worry about.  Think about this to help you figure out if you are spread too thin: Did you really go into business for yourself to work 80+ hours a week?

Not Getting Help Soon Enough- Set goals to know when to hire people to take over where you are light on knowledge. Not getting help or waiting too long can kill a company. Most people who start a business do it because they are good at the technical end or the sales end.  If you know the best way to make a widget, then your strength is in production and that is where your time should be spent. Hire an outside company or consultant to take care of the sales and marketing and then hire inside when you can afford someone full time.  Don’t be something to your company that you are not. It will only hold you back.

 

Mastermind Coach Moe Nawaz Small Business Coaching

The three big issues people like to tackle themselves but usually are least knowledgeable about are legal issues, accounting/bookkeeping issues and daily operations issues.  The odds are that these three things are your weakest link so if you don’t have a partner that has the background for these subjects, then be prepared to get help as soon as possible.  It’s preferable that you do this before you start a business.

Although looking for these problems at any time is a good idea, the end of a year or season is an excellent interval for any small business to make sure you are not making these errors.  Take the time, or make the time, to fix these problems. If you don’t know how to reverse the problems, then get some help.  If you really don’t have enough time to either figure out if you have these issues or know they are there and can’t break away long enough to do it right, then get some help for your small business.

Stupid Stuff In Most Businesses

How To Stop The Stupid Stuff

We are living in a world of change. Shift happens! Competition comes from all over the world, which means that many American businesses are in trouble. 

Many decisions are being made that are contrary to both good business sense and building customer loyalty.

Most organizations' marketing is usually an exercise in figuring out what to do to get current or potential customers to spend more dollars with them. 

I'm suggesting that instead of thinking about what to do, figure out what to stop doing. In other words, stop doing the "stupid stuff."

Not doing the stupid stuff means finding out what prevents customers from spending money with you and making sure that that action or reaction never happens again.

What is Stupid Stuff?

Here's an example of what I call "stupid stuff." Some airlines now want to charge customers who want to speak to a live agent.

That's stupid stuff in two ways. First, they've chosen to penalize customers who want to continue getting what they've always gotten – one-on-one attention. Worse, they've done it by saying they will charge more for this previously standard level of service. How many customers will they lose because of this decision? I know of at least one.

There are more subtle, but no less damaging, stupid stuff businesses need to stop doing.

Take, for example, the new Wheaties boxes. General Mills recently introduced Wheaties boxes with photos of the U.S. Olympic gold medalists. One was missing: Paul Hamm. Why?

This was General Mills' response to my inquiry:

"Selecting a Wheaties Champion has never been an easy task, especially when we have witnessed so many outstanding performances by so many championship athletes. But it simply isn't possible to honor every champion on the Wheaties box."

So they leave off the first U.S. man to win the Olympics all-around gymnastics championship in one of the sport's greatest comebacks? His return from a disastrous fall to a near-perfect high-bar routine won near-universal praise and, for most of us, defined the word "champion."

But there was controversy. As most of you know, a South Korean gymnast claimed that a scoring error cost him the gold and appealed to the Court of Arbitration for sport. The court recently ruled that Hamm can keep the gold medal.

Even though the medal was disputed, it was not because of anything Hamm did or did not do. Still, General Mills decided to do the "safe" thing. But by being safe and leaving out Hamm, Wheaties is alienating the millions of customers who see him not as controversial, but as a hero, and losing customers in the process. Now that's "stupid stuff."

So start stopping! Stop saying "No" and start using the word "Yes." Stop charging for services that most of us think are free.

Find out what exasperates, discourages, hassles or confuses your customers and stop the stupid stuff now.

Do You Run Your Business 24-7 Or Do You Switch Off When You Leave The Office?

It Is Amazing How Many People Run A Business 24-7

Do you take your laptop on vacation?  Do you sometimes “hate” your cell phone or your Blackberry?  Harris Interactive recently reported that one-third of vacationers take their laptops on vacation so they can stay hooked up to their business 24-7.  During a Sunday meal at a restaurant recently, I observed a man sitting with his family talking on his cell phone — obviously  business 24-7 man. He was not happy – neither was his family!  

To paraphrase Charles Dickens, “It is the best of times.  It is the worst of times.”  Certainly that applies when it comes to “connectivity.” Stories of 9-11 victims being able to communicate with family members in the last minutes of their lives warmed my heart, while the story my friend told of her mother answering her cell phone in the delivery room during the birth of her grandchild chilled my soul.  

How grateful I was for my cell phone when I came across a young woman stalled on an interstate without one, and I could immediately get help. How convenient it is on vacation to use the Internet to explore the options for entertainment in the area on a rainy afternoon, and get directions to find it easily.  How comforting to know that my family can reach me in case of an emergency – or something to celebrate! — regardless of where I am in the world on business 24-7.  The same can be said for my colleagues.  

So here’s the question:  Should you take your laptop on vacation?  Should your business cell phone be on 24-7?  Clients often ask, “What should I do?”  My answer:  “That’s the wrong question.  The question is “What will you do?”    Maybe an even better question would be “What would you like to do?”  Perhaps the best question of all is “What action will bring you the best results?”   In order to answer that question, you have to take the time to answer “What ARE your best results, business 24-7 or during business hours only?”  

Repeatedly I have emphasized that one definition of “organization” is “controlling the things you can control, so you can cope with the things you can’t.”   In the complex world in which we live, especially with the level of business 24-7 connectivity available, it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling that we are victims of other people. I cringe when someone complains about having to answer their cell phone.  Says who?  If you don’t want to be reached, you can “power off.”  If you have to be reachable for business 24-7 because your job requires it, then the question may be “Am I in the right job?”  Or, have you simply trained people that you are “always available.”  Customer service is great, but it doesn’t require business 24-7 response.  It requires good communication.  It’s highly frustrating to leave a message and get no response for days, but few situations would suffer if the response came one hour later so you could have lunch with a colleague without interruption.  

Connectivity can be addictive.  My daughter, who has her PhD in counseling, reminded me that an addiction is something that reduces the quality of your life and the people around you.  

So what does all this have to do with productivity?  My passion is helping individuals and organizations create and sustain a productive environment so everyone can accomplish their work and enjoy their lives.  When used appropriately, connectivity does help you accomplish your work and enable you to play. It can also undermine your priorities at work, destroy your health, and poison your relationships when used inappropriately.  

The issue is not whether you take your laptop on vacation or leave your cell phone on 24/7. For some people, the ability to check e-mail once a day on vacation brings peace of mind and can be done when others are sleeping or swimming. For others, the whole idea of a vacation is not taking your laptop. There is no “right” or “wrong.”  The question is whether your choice is enhancing or diminishing your life and the lives of the people around you. 

So “Business 24-7” or “9 till 5?” – it’s truly up to you! 

P.S.  SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT:  Your ability to make any connection more valuable is being able to find the information you need when you need it.  Are you wasting valuable time looking for what you need? Could you find what other people in your office have if you needed it?  Start looking for ways you don't have to be on call for your business 24-7.

Writing an article doesn't just mean putting down thoughts into words then typing and writing it.

You have to capture the interest of your readers and get them to keep on reading. To send your message across you have to get the attention of the reader and have a firm grasp of their interest and pique their curiosity.

The main ingredient in baking up an article is a large dose of creativity. While creativity may come natural to many people, some just gets into a block or something to that effect that can drive someone crazy. Many writers have literally torn their hair out when they get writers block and just can't seem to get their creative juices flowing. 

Putting words into images in the readers mind is an art. A clear and crisp depiction requires a certain flair that only creativity can provide. Similes and metaphors help a lot, but the way an article gets entwined word for word, sentence by sentence then paragraph by paragraph into a whole article develops the essence of the article. 

So just what do you have to do when nothing comes to mind? There is no surefire ways to get the perfect ideas but there are easy ways to get your creative juices flowing. No one can guarantee you of having the perfect mindset but many methods may aid you in achieving that state of mind. Here are five easy ways for that.

1) Keep a diary or a journal with you always. Ideas can be triggered by anything you may hear, see, or smell. Your senses are your radar in finding great ideas. Write all of them into a journal and keep it with you for future reference. You may also write down anything that you have read or heard, someone's ideas could be used to develop your own ideas and this is not stealing. Remember that ideas and creativity can come from anywhere; it's the development of the idea that makes it unique. 

2) Relax and take time to sort things out. A jumbled mind cannot create any space for new ideas. Everyone must have a clear mind if one wishes to have their creativity in full speed. Get rid of all obstacles that can be a hindrance to your creativity. If you are bothered by something, you cannot force your mind to stay focused.

Try to relax every time that you can and think about your experiences and interactions with others. Your experiences are what shape your mindset and your opinions which could be reflected on your writings. Try to discover yourself, find out what triggers your emotions. Discover what inspires you and what ticks you off. You can use these emotions to help you in expressing yourself and your ideas, with this you can grow creatively. 

3) Create a working place that can inspire your creativeness. Your working place can be quite a hindrance if it doesn't make you feel happy or relaxed. Creativity comes from being in a good state of mind and a messed up workplace that causes distraction won't be conducive in firing up your creative flow. 

Surround your working place with objects that makes you happy and relaxed. You may put up pictures, or scents, objects that inspire, or anything that can get your creativeness cranking. A clean and well organized workplace also rids of distractions and unwanted hindrances. With a good working place, you can work in peace and never notice the time pass by.

4) Set the mood. Setting the mood requires you to just go with the moment or to induce your self to feeling what makes your mind works best. Finding out what makes you tick could help you find ways to get your creative juices flowing. Set the pace and tempo for your mood and everything else will follow. 

There are many ways to set the mood. Some writers have been known to use alcohol, a little sip of wine to stir up the imagination. Some would like some mood music while others let the lighting of the environment create the mood.

 5) Go on a getaway and just do something unlike crazy. Letting yourself go and have fun produces adrenaline that can make your imagination go wild. Take an adventure or a solemn hike. Whatever it is that is unusual from your daily routine can take the rut out of your schedule. In no time at all, your creativeness will make use of that experience and get your imagination to go on overdrive.

 

You want customer loyalty in your business. You want repeat business. How about turning your customers into valued friends? Showing concern and empathy for their situation. The more your able to treat your customers as friends, the more business they will want to do with you. You'll see your profits soar.

Let's go through 10 ways you can keep your customers coming back to you, time and time again. And you will no doubt make "friends" in the process.

1. Send Birthday Cards

Do you like to be remembered on your birthday? How about doing something really easy and sending birthday cards to your customers. Could you send a little gift with it? What about a "special offer" coupon? Free tickets to an event.

 

Dear ,

 

There's something REALLY special happening this month on the 17th.

 

It's your Birthday!!

 

We wanted to be one of the first to wish you a HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

 

From the _______ at XYZ Company we wish you a Happy Birthday and would like to offer you this special gift we've been saving for this special occasion.

 

2. Make "How's thing's going" calls regularly

Section out 15 minutes a day to call your customers for no other reason then saying " Hi ______, I just called to see how things are going?"

Have you ever called your customers to do that? Watch your customers appreciate you thinking of them. It makes them feel that you do care. If you want to have more business, do this regularly.

3. Send out small bags of jelly beans or candies.

Could you include a bag of jelly beans, with a handwritten note on your next sale, with the note saying, " I thought you may like these, they are my favorites." Or a note saying "Here's something for you to enjoy" Watch their eyes light up. I know it sounds silly but it works!

4. Send unexpected gifts.

If you find an article, audiotape, or anything specific customers might be interested in,send it with a note saying " I thought you'd enjoy this. I just finished reading it and there are some interesting deas here. Also, if you educate your customers they will send you more business.

5. Send Holiday Cards.

What about sending a Holiday Card that is different then all the "others" your customers are getting? Make it UNIQUE.

6. Send Thank You notes.

Send Thank you notes for everything. Even when they pay their bills on time. What about thanking them for referring business, coming to see you. Whatever you want more of, reward. It works. Send a little note saying, "Hi _______, Thank you for paying your account so promptly"

7. Make Thank You calls

Now, you should started making Thank you calls, A variation from the letters. Saying, "Hi ________, Just wanted to say Thank you for referring Mr. Smith to XYZ Co."

8. Give your customers recognition

Can you put photo's of your customers in your business. How about a photo and a testimonial. They'll be flattered and you business will increase. People love recognition.

9.Give your customer awards

Yes, you read that right. Have customers of the month. Send them a award certificate or even plaque.

 

Dear _______,

 

Just the other day I was going through my records and I realized that you are one of the top (10,20,50,) customers.

 

We really appreciate your business. That's why I want to send you this "Top Customer Certificate" that is enclosed.

 

XYZ Company looks forward to seeing you soon.

 

10. Hold seminars, breakfasts, lunches.

If you want to give recognition to your customers and stay in touch, have monthly or quarterly functions for your customers. Have a speaker and an interesting topic.

 

Dear _______,

 

I would like to invite you to our "Special Customers" lunch.

 

It will be held at ______ on ______.

 

It's FREE

 

It's our way of saying Thank you. etc…

 

Most of the 10 ideas listed above might look silly but trust me they all work, if you want to keep your customers for life treat them like your best friends and you will find they stick around for life.

Moe Nawaz Mastermind Coach

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Ever wondered how some graphic designers always manage to produce beautiful looking designs for their brochures, website designs, logo designs? Talent…yes, it helps but there are a handful of more important things you can do that will have even complete beginners producing award winning design.

Forget everything you've ever been told about Graphic Design

There are some hard and fast things that graphic designers will insist are to be obeyed. Only use limited fonts on a design for example or never use green on a magazine or book cover as people will not buy it. Stuff and nonsense. You can pretty much do whatever you like but you must apply these STRICT GRAPHIC DESIGN RULES and you will soon be walking away with graphic design silverware.

Somewhere on the page you MUST put in a subliminal message

This can be done in a multitude of ways for example if you are producing a brochure selling wellington boots then start every paragraph spelling out 'buy our wellington boots' or better still 'you have no choice but to buy our wellington boots now get out your cheque book and buy them – NOW!' Another crafty method is to doctor images in photoshop so that on an innocent picture of a tree for example carved into the bark is a message along the lines of 'U Luv Wellington boots' You get the idea. just make sure it's hidden away on a subliminal level and watch your sales go through the roof, quite literally

You MUST include a picture of a pretty girl smiling on your document or webpage

This works for 95% of products. Put simply would you rather read and look at pictures of industrial machinery or would you rather look at a pretty girl? It's a no brainer right? Research has proven that mens brains are wired up to focus on girls smiles and of course their breasts and backsides. If you can somehow convince your client to put a naked girl on there somewhere you can pretty much laugh yourself down to the bank. However, never ever put a muscle bound hunk on any design thinking it will work conversely for womens products. Research has shown that womens brains are only wired to think of shopping for clothes and chocolate, so putting a bare chested chippendale on the cover is going to see your business go down the dumper. Unless your product is for homosexual merchandise in which case go ahead.

Shock and Awe – the guaranteed way to get your design work noticed and talked about

Perhaps the best example of this trick can be found widely used in the modern art world. Sharks in formaldahyde, unmade beds and plastic dolls melted together to sodomise each other. All these pieces of art have been much talked about and whether you find them to your taste or not are widely percieved as being breath takingly original. The same principal can and should be applied to your graphic design work or website design. Add a blood splattered severed willy in the centre of the page for example or how about using an excrement smear as a backdrop. Remember the important thing is to get people talking about your design work. Bad taste soon becomes acceptable once commonplace so be the first to do something outrageous and reap the rewards.

If you remember to apply at least one or two and ideally all 3 of these golden graphic design rules there's no reason why you shouldn't be a millionaire/billionaire within one or two months. Now get creative!

 

Telesales people… ooohhh… I an willing to bet we've all got a nice story to tell about these guys & gals don't we? Well here's a story i'll never forget and I'll show you how to turn a sales call into a sale for you!

So I'm sitting in my office one day and mind you at the moment I didn't have a helper to screen my call for me and don't you know it, I get a telemarketer.

 

See, I used to be in a few network marketing programs and I know how hard it is to get rejections on the phone. Some of us take it very personal and some just don't care. But I assert you this, whichever one you are, cold calling isn't an easy business.

 

When someone calls me to sell me something I will only talk to them if they too will listen to a promotion I'm offering, only fair right? You'd be amazed at how many won't listen to you so why would you listen to them?

 

I make it a point to tell them that my specialty is promoting and if they want to have any of my time, they will have to listen to me 1st. No exceptions.

 

So one day, I get this call from this really nice guy who completely understood my deal and accepted to hear what I had to say. Usually, I will pick one of my clients and and only promote that one client to the other person on the phone. Trying to promote 2 or more at a time is like road kill, you don't want to confuse the other person.

 

With this conversation on the phone with this telemarketer I explain to him that I have a client in the Transport industry and he deals with all kinds of shipping services. What I usually do is ask the other person on the phone if he can recall anyone who mentioned to him that they needed to ship something!!!

 

With that, this gentlemen on the phone says "I'm actually looking into shipping a small package overseas". Now, I'm fully aware that he can just say whatever he wants and possibly get me to finally listen to him so I immediately conferenced him with the transport company to give them his contact information so that they can send him an information package.

 

Once the call was complete, I returned the favor for allowing me to discuss one of the promotions my company was taking care of and asked the gentlemen to explain what it was he was calling for. It turns out that he was trying to sell a magazine subscription for health issues. I told him that I wasn't interested but I had a client who was in the health industry so I gave this gentlemen my clients information to contact him

 

Going back to the transport company, it turned out that the telemarketer actually did take their services and in return the owner of the transport company took a year subscription of the health magazine I told you about!

 

Now that's not often it happens like the way it did but just remember that telemarketers are people as well and they too also know other people. There's a great book that I feel is of the best on this type of promoting and anyone committed to their sales should read it…

 

It's called: Endless Referrals By: Bob Burg

 

"A must read".

 

So next time a telesales person calls you, you'll know what to do and if they reject hearing your offer, be kind and let them go!

 

Hope you've enjoyed my story!

 

Early 2009, the economy was roaring. Stock prices were going up, interest rates were staying low, unemployment was down. A few months later, those indicators all were going in opposite directions. Now, it's hard to tell from day to day where we stand.

I'm optimistic that the current situation is a short-term one, and that long-term prospects are for growth and good times. But that doesn't mean that there won't be dips, sometimes deep, along the way. The question is: Are you positioned to take advantage of the good times and navigate the bad? 

You have to expect one as well as the other. Fortunately, there are "shifts" you can take that will serve you well during both. 

1. Get out of debt. The quicker the better. You can't take advantage of opportunities when you're mired in debt. And there are opportunities in both good times and in bad. In both, debt keeps you from profiting from the opportunities that present themselves. In bad, it magnifies the negative, as the cost of money increases and debt service becomes an ever-increasing portion of your expenses. 

2. Think globally. No longer can we afford to think and act locally. We must have a broader 

vision. We must think about how our vocation, our business and our industry will operate in a global economy – because it already does.

3. Be entrepreneurial. This is the age of the free agent. Even if we are and plan to continue working in a larger company or organization, we must at least think like an entrepreneur. We need to be "in-trepreneurs." Seniority and experience does not have the value that it did. Producing results – and profits – is what matters. 

4. Become a capitalist. The wealthy own assets, the rest own liabilities – things that cost money to own and maintain. Capitalism is not a dirty word. A capitalist, by definition, is someone who owns assets – assets that produce income. Stock, equipment and businesses are assets that generate income. In America, 80 percent of all millionaires are self-made. Be one of them.

5. Be flexible. Things are moving at a rapid pace. This demands adaptability. Things will not remain the same, nor will they go back to the way they used to be. We must be willing to change directions quickly. It's dodge and weave time. It is time to embrace change. Shift happens!

 

If you’ve been selling for a while, you’ve probably had at least one experience in which your prospect suddenly started giving you the "silent treatment."

Anthony described this dilemma very poignantly when he called me a few weeks ago:

"I don’t know what to do when I get hit with the ‘silent treatment’ — you know, when I’ve worked with a prospect for quite a while, and we’ve had great conversations, and they've expressed interest in our solution — and then all of a sudden everything stops.

I try calling them back once or twice. I even send a follow-up e-mail, but nothing. They just disappear. And I figure I’ve lost the sale, and I don’t know what I did wrong, or what to do next. It makes selling feel like such a painful and arduous process."

If this has happened to you, you may have felt anxious and confused. You may have told yourself, "It’s not as if I’m the one who did anything wrong. I put everything into the relationship. How can I rescue the sale if I can’t even get them to talk to me?" 

The "Hope-ium" Trap

There is a pressure-free way to re-establish communication when your prospect starts giving you the "silent treatment." But first, it’s important to understand why the situation has happened in the first place.

Most of us who sell get caught up in "hope-ium," a comical term that means we focus our hopes and desires on making the sale. But hope-ium can be a trap, because it's impossible for you to keep in mind your most important goal: to learn your prospect’s truth.

When we fix our minds on the outcome — making the sale — we automatically begin anticipating how the process will go, and we also begin expecting that things will happen as we hope they will.

But if we’re in that mindset and our prospect suddenly breaks off communication, we feel lost, anxious, frustrated, discouraged, and confused. We become preoccupied with what went wrong. We may even feel betrayed.

Is there any way to clear up the mystery?

Yes, by giving up your agenda and learning the truth about where you stand with your prospect –and being ok with whatever the truth may be. "But how can I learn the truth when they’re avoiding me?" you may ask. "And why do I need to let go of the sale?"

Let’s take the second question first.

If you approach your prospect while you still hope the sale will happen, you’ll introduce sales pressure into the relationship. This will push your prospect away from you and destroy any trust you have developed with them. Instead, you can eliminate sales pressure by telling them that you’re okay with their decision if they’ve decided not to move forward.

In other words, you take a step back instead of trying to chase and follow up with calls because you’re focused on getting a "yes."

The bottom line is:

When a prospect gives you the "silent treatment," it doesn’t mean you’ve lost the sale. It just means you don’t know the truth yet.

What you need to do is call and learn the truth.

Why is learning the truth so important?

Here are 4 important reasons:

1. You stop losing confidence in your selling ability. The "silent treatment" threatens our "hopeium." We start blaming ourselves. We don’t know where we stand — a painful state of limbo. Our self-talk is negative and full of self-blame, and we’re on pins and needles wondering whether the sale will still come through somehow.

2. You increase your selling efficiency and decrease your stress level. Once you learn the truth about your prospect’s situation, you can either stay involved with the prospect or move on. I often say, "A ‘no’ is almost as valuable as a ‘yes.’" Why? Because it frees up your time to find prospects who are a better fit with your solution. This lets you work much more efficiently because you can quickly weed out prospects who aren’t going to buy. Knowing the prospect’s truth lets you walk away without that guilt-laden voice whispering, "If you give up, you don't have what it takes."

Learning your prospect’s truth translates into tangible results that equal real dollars. You’ll also put an end to the self-sabotaging stress that comes from living in "silent treatment" limbo.

3. Sales pressure pushes prospects away. When you respond to the "silent treatment" with calls and e-mails, you’re really telling them that you’re determined to move the sales process forward — which means you’re looking out for your needs, not theirs. This makes them mistrust you and run the other way.

4. The "silent treatment" — totally breaking off communication — is how prospects protect themselves from sales pressure when they don’t feel comfortable telling us their truth. The more we press, the more they run.

But the opposite is true, too. The more we relax and invite the truth, the more straightforward they’ll be with us. Prospects feel okay sharing what’s going on with them when they know we’re okay with hearing it.

How to Reopen Communication

After Anthony and I had talked about some of these issues, he said, "This all makes a lot of sense, Ari, but I’m still not sure what to say when I make that call."

It’s simpler than you might think.

* First, simply give your prospect a call. (E-mail and voicemail are very impersonal, so use them only as last resorts if you can't reach your prospect after several phone calls.)

* Second, take responsibility and apologize for having caused the "silent treatment".

Here’s some language I suggested to Anthony that will make prospects feel safe enough to open up and tell you the truth about their situation:

"Hi, Jim, it’s Anthony. I just wanted, first of all, to call and apologize that we ended up not being able to connect. I feel like somewhere along the way maybe I dropped the ball, or I didn’t give you the information you needed. I’m not calling to move things forward because I’m assuming you’ve probably gone ahead with someone else, and that’s perfectly okay. I’m just checking to see if you may have some feedback as to where I can improve for next time."

When you respond to the "silent treatment" this way, the results will probably surprise you. You may even learn that the prospect has legitimate reasons for not having gotten back to you.

You’ll also find yourself more productive and less frustrated. It’ll make a world of difference in your productivity level, your stress level, your income, and how much you enjoy what you’re doing.

Remember…

You haven’t lost the sale. You just don’t know the truth yet.