Archives for June 2013

19 Bold Thoughts About Leadership

Leadership. It’s certainly not about being “The Boss”. I’d venture to say it’s more like not being the boss. Granted, you do not want to be one of the guys while at work because you are supposed to lead not have others lead you. So what is a leader and how should they behave?

Here’s an interesting slideshow with 19 thoughts on leadership for you.

Do you agree? Which resonates with you?

Small Start-up at the College premises

If you are looking into starting a business whilst in college then you are in one of three positions. Either you have checked out of your studies, and are looking for something to kill your time whilst instead of dropping out. Either you have lots of spare time because you have made no friends, or you are short of cash and need to start a business.

College_Startup

Whatever your reasons, here is how you start a small business on a college premises. The example used is very specific, but you can apply the process to lots of small businesses you may start on campus.

Start with your business idea

You can spend hours researching different ideas, or you can cook one up that you develop later– it is up to you. You best bet (as a small business starter) is to start a small business where it wouldn’t be an absolute disaster if you failed. For example, a good one is selling Blu-Rays, because if you go bust then you still have a bunch of Blu-Rays you can keep and use (assuming you have a Blu-Ray player). Plus, if you sell secondhand Blu-Rays, then you can watch them before you sell them, so it’s win-win.

Do not start a mini-business providing a service or selling products that you cannot use yourself. The 300 mini umbrellas from an online Chinese company may seem like a great investment, but what are you going to do with them when they do not sell? Don’t start a car spraying service, because what are you going to do with the equipment when your business goes under? Your answer to that question may be to sell what you have left over, but you are going to make a bigger loss though selling your stock/equipment, than you are keeping them (seriously).

Now develop your idea into something that you can do in your dorm

Selling something is fairly easy. You could try selling clothes, and develop the idea so that you only sell full outfits; t hings such as a top, trousers and correct colors socks or tights. Otherwise, you could try selling shoes, or accessories. Consider if you want to sell new items, used items, or both.

What is going to make your products different from everyone else?

In this example, your selling point could be that you are selling outfits. Look at when people say, “Oh I love what she is wearing.” They are often talking about the whole outfit. Many times a shirt may be very lack-luster, but looks amazing when paired with the right trousers. You can use this fact to sell full outfits.

Now source your stock according to your budget

Buying new clothing items is going to be expensive, so hit the second hand market stalls and yard/garage and car boot sales. Wait until near the end of the sale when the secondhand clothing stall seller has that desperate look in his or her eyes. Start negotiating for the best prices on a number of items. Don’t forget you are looking for full outfits, so be ready to match items, or keep in mind what will go well with what you have bought already.

Buying from online wholesalers is a bad idea

So many times the online wholesalers are running a scam. There are so many people wanting suppliers, but the good ones are very closely guarded secret. It takes more digging than a few Google searches. Don’t forget that when you look online for suppliers that everyone else does it too. Whatever you buy online, you can be sure to find it in massive numbers in shops in holiday spots, and on market stalls around the country.

Never pay to see suppliers’ names. Some sites offer a service where you become a member and then they let you see the names of great suppliers. Some will show you supplier names, but give you no contact details until you pay for membership. All of these sites are scams. What self respecting supplier is going to allow someone to charge others in order to contact them?

Learn how to think like a businessperson

You need to start being more business minded in your dealings. Here is an example using the clothing idea. Buy 2nd hand clothing, find out the price to buy the item new. Buy the 2nd hand version, and charge 3 x amounts you bought it for. However, your sale price must still be no more than 50% of new-item price.

Here’s a bit of math:

Used blouse = $5

Cost of a new blouse = $30

Your sale price = $15

Call clothes secondhand and not used

Learn how to market your goods using the correct verbiage to create the best impression. So for example, calling used clothing “Second hand” is far more customer friendly.

 

Make sure your accounting is correct and use it to run a better business

If you are selling on eBay then do not forget eBay fees, taxes, etc. Use your accounting to set future prices, and to set/know buying limits. A $2 profit may seem good, but your accounting forecasts may tell a different story.

For example, one blouse takes 2 hours to buy, clean, fix, photograph, and a further 30 mins to put onto eBay and adjust the advert to suit your trial and error tests. It sells and it takes you 30 mins to package and post it. That is three hours work, and after paypal fees, eBay fees, costs to buy the blouse (including travel/postage costs), you discover that you only made $2.20 for 3 hours work. To have a night out with your friends, you will need to sell 27 items and work 81 hours. Suddenly your $2.20 profit doesn’t seem so great.

Never stop trying to improve your business

Every day you must do something to work on your business. Every day you must do work on your business, but also do something to improve your business or business plan. This can be anything from thinking up a new selling tag line, to buying a tape dispenser to make wrapping easier.

Simple Local SEO Tactics to Improve a Search Presence

Local Search Presence

Local businesses are sometimes hesitant to get involved with SEO.  This may be because they have found success with the marketing that they are used to and are comfortable with- like local advertising, direct mail, promotions, etc. but more often than not it’s because they have limited resources and aren’t willing to take on the additional investment.  However, this means that local businesses are really missing out on a huge opportunity to generate more sales and leads since a large percentage of online searches are for products or services that can be found at the local level.  It really doesn’t require loads of time to get a local SEO campaign up and running.  Even just a half an hour a day can make a really big difference.

Here are 4 simple ways to improve your local search presence:

Add local keywords to the site

Think about how people search for a local business.  They will search using the name of the city, town, neighborhood, etc. as a part of the keyword; “Boston dentist”, “Boston MA dentist”, “dentist in Boston MA”, etc.  In order to appear in the search results for these keywords, they will need to be implemented throughout the site- which means that your location needs to appear more frequently than just on the “contact us” page.  Incorporate the location of the business into the title tags for each page as applicable.  So instead of the title of the page being “Pediatric Dental Services” it should be “Boston Pediatric Dental Services”.

Verify local search engine listings

The three major search engines (Google, Yahoo!, and Bing) each have a local search component and allow local businesses to create a profile.  Once the listing has been claimed and verified by the site owner by phone or entering a pin code received in the mail, the business owner can add and update all relevant information including a link back to their homepage.  Getting a local listing verified and completing the profile can improve the odds that it will appear prominently for related local search terms.

Submit to other local profiles

Beyond the search engine local listings, there are plenty of other local directories that are worth submitting information to.  The majority of them are free and include a link back to your site which can generate traffic and improve an SEO link portfolio.  Local listings can also help from a branded search perspective.  If someone searches for your brand and you have many local listings, they will all appear which means that the primary brand messaging that is found in search is controlled by you.

Connect with other local businesses

Partnering with other local businesses or sponsoring local events is a great way to generate some quality local links.  Of course, you don’t want to do this just for link building.  It should make sense from a business perspective too.

“Our People Make The Difference” Is Not A Differentiator.

?Frankly – your greater than that!

In my Brand Consulting side of things, “Our people make the difference” is the by far the most common answer to my question – “Exactly what is it that makes you different from your competition?”
Let’s be honest every company’s employee pool has talent and they do a great job making their products great. You have to dig deeper and pull out something more compelling that makes you the leader. You’ve got to be the first to market with this powerful position and you have to deliver it is such a way that your target audience see’s your company as the only alternative.

Simple eh?

The fact is we can achieve this goal is several different ways. We can look long and hard and see how the delivery of the product can be facilitated whereby the client experience’s is an overwhelming difference from how it is typically delivered within your industry. Let’s say you are a burger joint. EVERYBODY follows the McDonald’s standard of a graphic menu board above and behind the counter. Is there another way that is bolder, better and ground-breaking? Look at your burger joint from a new perspective.

What if your product is a medical service? Lot’s of compliances right? Sure the public has to be safe. Well what if you went one better? What if you developed your own compliance? Name it and promote it as your own. Make sure that it’s progressive and bold. So bold that the competition probably thinks your crazy to adhere to it. Crazy genius I’m thinking.

I call these solutions Positioning Strategies and most companies don’t employ them. Most companies employ slogans. When was the last time a slogan compelled you to act? I’ll bet your thinking hard about that aren’t you? Remember when the iPhone came out? It was the only smart phone offering “apps”. That and the touch screen quickly made it a leading contender in what seemed a saturated cell phone market. A compelling reason to buy, actually created a brand-new category. This is not beyond what you are also capable of. You don’t need Apple’s deep pockets either – you only need the innovation of Apple’s entrepreneurial spirit.

In my consulting service I get the best results from decisive and bold thinkers. If this is you, then you are sitting on just what it takes to deliver a positioning strategy that not only compels your target audience but will re-invigorate your staff and other stake holders.

The only person that can truly make a difference is YOU – if you are willing to grab the gold within you.

Etiquette for Writing Business Emails to Companies and Co-Workers

A business email is a formal correspondence between company officials, sent via the Internet. It has taken the place of traditional business letters that are often hand delivered or sent via special mail because most of the time, matters discussed are of immediate concern.

Email EtiquetteWith the email or online fax, message is transmitted in a matter seconds, thus issues and concerns are immediately resolved. Just like a business letter, the style and tone of an email largely depends on the relationship between the officials concerned. One of the advantages of email is the convenience of sending as many messages as possible, allowing parties to be familiar with one another. More often than not, the corresponding parties end up being friends.

However since frequency breeds familiarity, business acquaintances can also become instant enemies, just by email alone. Technology has bridged gaps, however in the business arena it’s always proper to exercise a certain level of diplomacy even in business emails.

Purpose of Business Emails
There are various reasons why parties send correspondences. It could be a request for certain information, or immediate action regarding an existing issue. Emails are also sent for ordering supplies, asking for quotations, meeting requests and the like. Formal business messages are also sent to address certain issues, reply to request or an apology.

Business emails are useful, because it stands as a permanent record for transmitted messages. Various issues have been resolved via the presentation of email trails, letters and the other written evidences. Thus it is important that even online correspondences be given ample attention in order to elicit quick response.

The Proper Business Email

Etiquette for business letters requires clear and concise messaging, straightforward and precise content when dealing with relevant subject matters. These qualities also hold true for business emails.

– These messages are meant for busy people and so the information must use the least number of words, without missing out to important details. All pertinent points must be briefly explained and should immediately follow the introduction. If it’s an urgent message, then it should be written in the subject panel.

– If a response is needed within the day, then it should also be clearly conveyed. For recipients, just in case an immediate response is not possible, send a reply emphasizing that the issue will be addressed at the soonest possible time.

– The subject panel is one of the important parts of a business email; because it immediately indicates the purpose of the correspondence. A clear subject separates the message from junk mails and spam. Most senders think having an attention grabbing subject, convinces recipient to immediately open the letter. While this may be true, and beneficial for promotional emails, the practice is not acceptable for formal business correspondences.

– Apart from the concise wording, the font type and size must be carefully chosen. Avoid using large fonts; it’s an indirect of expressing strong feelings. If it’s an email to a friend then go ahead and use colorful letters in bold or italic. However this should be avoided with business emails. For business letters, typing the words in all caps is very rude; it indicates that the recipient could not clearly grasp the message.

– Use the active voice, and pay close attention to grammar usage. Proof read thoroughly, if you do posses a keen eye for spelling and punctuations then ask someone to read it first before sending it. An error filled message can affect your organization’s reputation.

Emails to Co-Workers
The same approach follows even if you are sending a message to someone within your organization. Always start with a polite greeting, starting with “dear’ followed by the recipients full name or surname is most acceptable. Or if the recipient is unknown start with ‘to whom it may concern”. If it’s someone you haven’t met then you address the letter with “dear sir or madam”. The email should end with signature, which indicates the sender’s full name and position.

The “NEW” Business Card

whatsnewcardUse traditional 3.5″ X 2″ business cards to promote new services, products, specials or whatever is new at your business. They would still have your contact information. Use them to drive business to your website or location. Treat them as promo cards with a personal circulation. A clever new way to celebrate your brand.

When you go to a networking event in your community, you can take the opportunity to NOT hand out your traditional card but instead, hand out your “what’s new card.” One great result is that it initiates conversation on your “news.” It’s a simple idea, but one that is inexpensive and novel. It doesn’t matter what size company you have – there’s always great news to spread. What could you put on your promo card?

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