Archive for August, 2012

Top 7 Basic Business Strategies


 

When you use the following seven basic strategies, you build a solid foundation upon which to grow your business.

  1. Know Yourself

    You want to be in a business that calls upon your strengths and satisfies a passion. If you don’t feel the passion, success becomes much harder and takes a lot more energy. If you’ve lost the passion you once felt, take a hard look at what went wrong, then take action to regroup or move on. If you’ve never felt the passion, it’s time for a more in-depth look at what decisions need to be made.

  2. Know Your Business

    How can you make important decisions if you don’t have the information you need? Put the necessary systems in place to obtain accurate current information about the financial, productive, interpersonal and market status of your business. Then put one day a month on your calendar to review the information, analyze it and make any adjustments to policy or practice you think are necessary.

  3. Know Your Market

    What trends are affecting your market? Is your market growing, consolidating or shrinking? Who’s coming or going? What are your competitors doing? Which products or services are in demand, which not? This is valuable information to have when you conduct your monthly business review and when you are doing financial or operational planning.

  4. Look at the Big Picture

    Passion is important, but there needs to be a growing market trend for what you offer. Trends are especially important for long-term planning. How can you best position your business to take advantage of trends both now and in the future? Determine both your present and your desired position within the economy and your market, then create a plan to get from here to there.

  5. Use Technology Wisely

    Consider what technology you’ll need to accomplish your mission. A thorough, professional analysis of which technologies can best serve your needs, both now and in the future, is in order at least annually. Plan capital expenditure in conjunction with the technology you’ll be using. If you’re not an expert in this area, call upon someone who is. It’s worth it in the long run.

  6. Hire Someone Else

    Plan to spend the majority of your time doing what you do best and will be most beneficial to your business. Fulfill the activities to sustain and grow your business by hiring, contracting or setting up strategic alliances with others whose strengths are in your areas of need. Lay the groundwork for their success by giving them adequate information and orientation and making it clear (in writing) what you are seeking from them. Then set time frames for a joint evaluation of their contribution. Reward significant contributors in the way they want to be rewarded (with time, money, recognition, etc). Do the same for employees and anyone else who contributes to your bottom line success.

  7. Plan

    Where is your business now? Where do you want to go and how will you get there? Planning is easy if you keep in mind all you’re doing is gathering and analyzing pertinent information to answer these questions.

    Use your analysis of operating information, market and economic trends and decide where your best opportunities lie. Determine your goals, how you’re going to achieve those goals, what it’s going to cost and when those costs will occur. This is the basis for determining how many widgets you’ll have to sell each month to meet cash flow requirements as your plan unfolds and evolves. Now decide the best way to meet those sales requirements and what that will cost. Add that to your budget and adjust your sales goals accordingly. See how planning works?

 

Top 7 business strategies for 2012


 

Business Strategies for the Entrepreneur in 2012

I get asked questions all the time about how I have become so successful. I’ve had a great year in a horrible economy and want to share what has helped me be so successful. I’m not selling you anything here. You can read for yourself. Speaking of reading, here’s #1 on the list!

1. Read “The Success Principals” by Jack Canfield & “The E Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber

If you’re in business for yourself or you’re a goal oriented person, “The Success Principals” by Jack Canfield cannot go unread. This was referred to me by a member of my Mastermind group and has changed the way I think about business.

My first business coach referred “The E Myth Revisited” by Michael Gerber, which changed the way I structured my companies and how I looked at business in general. Both of these are unbelievable reads and I revisit them every year around this time.

2. Get Your Team & Processes in Place

The ideal strategy would be to create a blueprint for every single job title you have working at your company. Figure out how you can automate each one of those processes and create a manual that explains everything in step-by-step fashion. This will make hiring employees easier and you can easily hold them more accountable for the mistakes they make. Use project management software like ProTasker (http://www.protasker.com) to organize your tasks. This will allow you to keep track of your projects, assign them to different users, keep track of time, make task templates to easily create a similar project process, and collaborate all online. My employees now work more efficiently and I save thousands of dollars and create more dollars.

3. Work On Your Company, Not For It!

Seven years into business I decided I didn’t want to deal with clients, do production or manage employees. I was burnt. I decided to train my existing employees to do my tasks, took a pay cut, and hired another person to take over my production while I focused on planning, selling, and marketing my business. My net increases have been 22% in 2009, 26% in 2010, and 33% in 2011. I still have to jump in and deal with clients, do production, and manage employees, but my total time doing this per week is around four hours. The best thing I’ve learned is to schedule time for myself. I’ll book time in my calendar to do things that I need to accomplish personally and professionally.

4. Marketing Online

If you’re a business in today’s world, you need to aggressively market online. Print strategies are seldom effective unless you are trying to build brand equity. Social media will be larger than life in 2012. Build a quality (not quantity) following by giving away great information that attracts your targeted audience. Consider the same strategy for getting better placement on search engines. Do not hire just an SEO expert – hire a marketing agency that can give you a well-rounded approach for an integrated strategy and a maximized online exposure (Paid Search, Social Networking, Search Engine Placement, Brand Recognition). If you’re too small of a company to hire a marketing agency, join some internet marketing forums and consider authoring on a few blogs outside of your own. I use Big Web Daily (http://www.bigwebdaily.com) and it’s in the top 10 list as a traffic referring domain. All the traffic I get has an extremely low bounce rate making the visitors quality. You can visit my website at http://www.cmdsonline.com.

5. Surround Yourself with Elite Professionals

I’ve created my network of professionals for business and personal use. I have experts in each field that I communicate with (two per field, just in case the other fails) and I’m always meeting with people to make sure I surround myself with the best team. Surround yourself with a good financial advisor, lawyer, mortgage agent, accountant, business coach, and other highly successful entrepreneurs that you look up to. I wasn’t saving for retirement until a few years ago. Now I put money away weekly. My accountant is great at keeping me conservative and on top of all the changes that take place. My business coach and I talk weekly about what I’ve accomplished during the past week and what I will be working on the next week.

6. Build Customer Trust and They’ll Keep Coming Back for More

Every customer is different. For some people buying a house is no big deal and for others going to the grocery store can set off cognitive overload. Take the time to get to know your customer. How do they think? How do they buy? What are their top concerns? How can you go about putting them at ease with you as their salesperson as well as your entire company?

Customers are smart and they know when they’re being sold to. As a result they are more likely to trust a recommendation from a stranger who has nothing to sell them and no money to take from them. Effective sales communication starts by avoiding general claims about products or services. A crowded marketplace full of nonspecific product and service guarantees has lost all value with consumers. A creative, specific, and consumer-focused statement of information will help you reach your customer in a meaningful way. One sure fire method to increase the weight of your message is to quantify your value.

7. Make Time for YOURSELF

I know the title says “Business Strategies” but what good is business if you don’t have health and happiness? This past year I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I went misdiagnosed for six weeks and got pretty sick. I was mentally and physically handicapped. I couldn’t figure out how to open the door in my bedroom to get out. I’m almost 100% recovered, however it’s been a long journey. Luckily I have good processes and great employees and family which allowed me to take almost 2 months off and go back part time after that. All the money I have, my wonderful family, all the five cars, the houses… they all don’t mean a thing if you’re not able or around to enjoy them. Stay healthy! Eat healthy and organic when possible, exercise, go on vacations a few times a year (I do two small and two large) and work no longer than an 8 hour day. Productivity experts say that people are more productive working just 8 hours as opposed to those that work 12 hours. Your family, friends and business will thank you for it.

Have a stellar 2012!

 

Gmail: Adding Signature below Reply Instead of at the End of the eMail


I hate having my signature at the end of a reply but that is the default for Gmail. I spent a bit of time on Gmail Help looking for an answer but got nothing.

It took me a while and $20 but I was able to figure out a solution. Brilliant service. I typed in my question. Identified that I would pay $20 for an answer. Sent out the request. In about 10 min a techie guy replied. It took a few attempts but he figured it out.

1. Log into your gmail account

2. Click on Settings then Labs

Image representing Google Labs as depicted in ...

Image via CrunchBase

3. Search for Signature Tweaks and enable

That’s it. Now when I reply using Gmail, my signature is at the end of my reply and not at the end of the entire message.

Interestingly, I now have a little green bottle right near the link to Settings, identifying that I’m using Google Labs.


The Wandering Dreamer

Facebook.  Are we friends or aren’t we?  Like a BFF, wondering if she’s been replaced, facebook connections (whether from real life or not) will run the deepest and be the most hurt if (more like when) you decide to “unfriend” them.  Those darned decisions, right?  It seemed like a good idea to “friend” your entire family… at the time.  Until you realize Cousin Sally shares TMI (too much information) and Aunt Betty is trying to “friend” all of your friends to sell them cactus juice from Sedona.  And, oh by the way, if you are “friends” with your boss, may the force be with you.

Twitter.  Don’t tread on me.  Your Twitter followers will expect that you pick a style and live with it.  Like, forever.  If you tweet about Bob Marley, Hipsters and Donald Trump’s hair this week.  Don’t expect to talk about existentialism, Requiems…

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slworkshops

Ope O is a Londoner developing his career as a street photographer. Primarily he uses Nikon DSLR’s along with a Fuji X100 but over the last two years he’s been exploring the rapidly expanding and developing world of iPhoneography in tandem with his iPhone 4S. With this in mind we here at Shadows & Light decided to track down Ope O & interrupt him for a short while from his all important work at London 2012 as part of the Olympic Broadcasting Services (OBS) operation.

Before we begin here’s a taste of some of Ope’s recent iPhoneography and you can see his work from the London Olympics under his greatarsenal tag that’s happening on Instagram this very moment…

S&L. I’ve been following your work for some time both on Instagram and Facebook so it’s great to have the chance for a more in depth talk.

OO. That’s good.

S&L. Let’s…

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Yesterday, we talked about all the missteps that the Olympics had stumbled over so far in these games, highlighted by the four badminton teams who tried to lose intentionally. Well, today is a new day for these Olympic Games, a fresh start, a chance to really show us the best…oh, wait, no, nevermind. Just another scandal, this time in boxing, after Magomed Abdulhamidov of Azerbaijan was awarded the win over Japan’s Satoshi Shimizu 22-17 despite getting knocked down SIX TIMES in the third and final round. That’s not just a little fishy, that’s a beached whale in your living room level of suspicious.

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Ruminations on Love & Lunchmeat

Generally speaking, my husband and I are very lucky.  We agree on lots of things so there’s no need for us to battle.  However, on those rare occasions where we do disagree, we both play to win.  And if we get to mock each other in the process, that’s a HUGE bonus.  Funny is fair game in our house.

From the minute we married, my husband has accused me of wanting to live in a cave.  That’s because I never remember to open the bedroom shades and my idea of a beautiful house looks straight out of nineteenth century Europe.  (Brown leather couches, thick drapes, and mahogany furniture…)  Because nineteenth century European decor is not practical for us, my husband won that battle.

Besides home decor, we also like to spar, with clubs in hand, over our children’s names.  We agree on numerous tenets when it comes to naming our children……

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