February, 2010 Archive

Big Finish

February 27th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

Memory. This is part of what we seem to dread about the future, isn’t it? It’s hard to think that when we leave this planet, we’ll turn into mere memories. Not to mention, our fear of slowly losing it as we age. <g>

Legend. Now, this is a remarkably flattering and honorable term. Living or not, to be called a legend in your own right is, well, memorable. <g>

Of course, one does not become a legend overnight. What qualifies someone to be a legend? Is it just a popularity contest? Thankfully, it’s not. To be called a legend, those around you should recognize and appreciate the contribution you’ve shared with them and with others. It has to be for something meaningful to you and to them. It could either be a revolutionary innovation or a simple “aha!” moment, as long as it’s something that would leave an impression in the world.

In order to be a legend, there are a few success secrets and steps that could be taken. Becoming one overnight is possible, especially for those who’re really gifted and simply amazing. For the rest of us mortals though, it takes a lot more time and hard work. <g> Keep in mind too, that you’ll never get anywhere in life if you let other factors and your own self doubts or apprehensions get in the way of your success.

Below are a few tips I gathered on how to get ahead and be on your way to making your own mark in the world from our HealthyWealthynWise online magazine’s gurus.

Small Bites, Big Results
As we grow older, take on more responsibilities in life and eventually focus on our careers, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed, stagnant, or even a bit confused. It may all stem from the excitement of starting anew, breaking free from school and finally getting to live on our own with a promise of greatness in the horizon. Then, all of a sudden, when life starts throwing obstacles in our way, we slowly fall back down to earth and realize that, “Gee, this is harder than I thought!” Don’t worry. You’re not alone in this. We’ve all been there. <g>

Amidst our freedom frenzy, we tend to get too excited for our own good and bite off more than we could chew. It happened to Ric and me when we were fresh out of college and newly married with a baby in tow. Ric was working longer and longer hours in a company, but we ended up with no additional income from where we started. We were way over our heads when we first entered the corporate world and planned on conquering it. We ended up having that world swallow us up, until we realized that enough was enough. We didn’t want to be stuck there and just watch while corporations gobbled up all the hard work we put in. We wanted to provide for our newborn and live a life other than what we were struggling with. So we decided to go into business for ourselves.

We started small and tried several ventures that either fizzled out or worked for a while. But, we eventually found the world of online marketing, and I think it’s safe to say that it’s been working quite well for us for many years now. <g> Today, we’re able to provide for our two sons Chandler and Stefan, balance various businesses and live the life we’ve always wanted.

I’d like to share with you a few tips from Morgana Rae in her article Getting Ahead (and Out of Your Own Way).

Break it into pieces

In doing anything, whether trying to organize our house or our business, it doesn’t help if we try to tackle everything at once. We end up spreading ourselves too thin. In the end, we accomplish little and the quality of our work may be sub-par. We don’t want that, do we? <g>

This is why it helps to break tasks into little pieces. We have to accept that we can’t do everything all at once and set out to accomplish just one or two each day. Whatever we achieve beyond that is a bonus. If, for example, you plan on launching a new product for your small business soon, don’t think of production and distribution at the same time. Focus on defining your product today, then move on to the gathering of raw materials tomorrow, then preparation of materials the next day, and production the next and so on. Don’t fill your glass to the brim. You’ll observe that fewer and fewer goals will spill out and more will get done instead.

Choosing to focus on smaller parts of your plan doesn’t mean you’re chickening out or  not living up to your potential. You’ll even end up slowing down and getting organized, focusing more on what you learn and developing your skills and confidence more. Albeit a little slower than you planned, but more sure and steady.

80/20 Rule

Morgana talks about the Pareto Principle – better known as the “80/20 Rule” where 80% of your results are produced by 20% of your activities. That is, if you focus on your strongest talents and niche. If you focus on doing what you’re good at and using the skills you already have, you’ll save time, effort and money. In utilizing your top 20%, you’re actually able to produce 80% more income, more results and more fun. If you wish to expand your skill set, enhance your activities and work on self improvement, then you can tackle those as added perks.

Do first, analyze later

Don’t let perfectionism get in your way. You could always master your skills and learn as you go. If you wait for everything to be perfect and stress and problem free, then you’ll never get to do what you want to do or launch your product like you should.

Expect that you’ll run into obstacles along the way. Prepare yourself to overcome them as you encounter them. In terms of mastering activities and skills and being successful at something, nothing beats learning from doing and going through the whole shebang of experience. <g>

Remember that in anything we do, longevity is the key. It’s not always about how fast we get somewhere, but how we were able to get there while achieving great results and personal growth. Find your own pace and avoid burn out to stay in the game. As in driving, start slow and get a feel for the road. When you’re a little more confident, speed up and adjust your course and pace as you go.


Legacy Awaits

“If only you could sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.“~ Fred Rogers

Once we’ve figured out how to improve our lifestyle, businesses and activities, we start to focus more on the future and what it’ll bring – not only to us but to our loved ones as well.

The need to make a mark on this world – to leave a legacy – starts to dawn on us and somehow pressures us into doing something soon. If I think on it, Ric and I already have a few legacies of our own. First and foremost are our sons Chandler and Stefan and whatever values we have and continue to instill in them — values that they, in turn, will impart to their own children someday. Another is our pool of businesses that have surely touched people’s lives, while helping them realize success at the same time – Small Business CEO Magazine, HealthyWealthynWise, The Transperience Network, and others. What more could we ask for? A lot actually – but that’s another post altogether…<g>

To asses whether this will be your year to start creating your legacy, and to find out how we could immortalize part of ourselves for the world to appreciate, here are a few misconceptions on legacies and the elements that we’ll find in most, if not all, of them from Dolly Garlo’s article Is 2010 Your Time to Begin Legacy-Level Living and Working?

Misconceptions


1. It only happens upon death

Legacy does not have to happen only after you die. It’s more promising and rewarding if you start while you’re still alive and are able to witness how you’ve touched others’ lives. Plus, nothing beats being respected as a “living legend.” <g>

2. I’m not wealthy enough to create one
Nonsense! <g> Legacy is not all about money. It’s about how we’ve shared ourselves with the world and made something good out of our gifts and lives.

3. Everything I leave behind goes to my children
Legacies are not about inheritance. Well, not fully anyway. <g> Inheritance is part of our legacy, what we leave to our children, but it’s not the crux of it. You could work on something for your children, or not <g>, as long as you raise them well and instill the importance of contributing to society in any way they can.

Elements

1. Share your gifts with the world
A legacy is more about giving the world a glimpse of your unique abilities. Better yet, letting them experience who you are. Take something that you love and share it with the world, while leaving a mark and touching people’s lives. Keep in mind that we are put on this earth for a purpose, and someone, somewhere is in need of what we could offer.

2. Create one while you’re alive
To better appreciate and realize the mark you’ve made, it’s best to start working on your legacy while you’re still alive. You could work on improving your legacy and maybe even add more as you go along. You’ll be glad to find out that we could tap into our creative abilities and produce something from practically nothing.

3. Know that it’s good for you
It’s somewhat funny, but working to be remembered is actually good for you. <g> It comes from living with a purpose every day and knowing that you’re working on something that would go beyond your own experience. In addition, and as I’ve already established in this blog before <g>, giving more and contributing more to the world increases our happiness meter and provides us with more reason to smile about and live more.

Creating a legacy allows you to achieve the ultimate personal growth. It may even be the end game of it all. <g> Your legacy would help you realize your own purpose and place in the world. You could focus more on what you can do and share, and thus, giving you a certain level of confidence. So tap into your passion, patiently create your legacy and work to make something that would exceed even your wildest expectations and live on for generations.

Have you started creating your legacy? Have you gained success and big results from focusing on smaller tasks? Share your experiences with us in the comments section below.

Good luck with your tasks and legacies!

Liz



All Systems Go

February 25th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

At the start of anything major that we plan to do, we experience a bit of hesitation. The “science,” so to speak, is sound and we know how to do it. In fact, we’ve been studying and planning for it for months. But somehow, we can’t seem to take the first step towards doing something about it. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? :) This also happens to a lot of would-be entrepreneurs out there, who believe they have found the next big success secret that would bring them money-making victory, but has failed to actually start working on their supposed goals and objectives.

On The Mark

Drawk Kwast wrote a Small Business CEO Magazine article entitled Start-Up Strategy – Stop Lying to Yourself and Start Accomplishing. In his seven start-up strategy secrets, I believe he captured the hesitation that happens to starting business owners and explains how they could move forward from such a backward thing.

Secret 1: Stop lying to yourself and start accomplishing.
Instead of waiting for people to keep on praising your good idea and fishing for accolades, why not try to actually bring your idea to life? :) Remember, your idea is only good to you if it becomes more than that. Stop assuring yourself that you have a good idea and that you can do it if you wanted to and start setting your goals right now. And yes, dear, there’s no time like the present. :) Have faith in your idea and in your ability to make it real.

Secret 2: Know it is possible and find the way yourself.
Anything is possible. If the answers are not in front of you, they do not arrive in your lap during the next few days or weeks or something is blocking your progress, then don’t give up. Build up the motivation you had when you started working on your idea, and take the lead on finding the answers yourself. No problem is unsolvable, as long as you keep looking for answers.  

Secret 3: Understand the difficulty reward connection.
The reason you started working on your big idea (or rather, the reason you should have :) ) is that you want to get something new out there. Face the challenge of being one of the few who comes up with an original idea. If you want it easy, just provide one of the existing booming businesses out there and make a copy of your own booth or stand. However, if you’re up for it and would appreciate the challenge, go for the road less traveled – provide people with products or services that only a few (if not only you) can do. Trust me, the reward would be sweeter at the end. :)

Secret 4: Ready, fire, and then aim.
Don’t be too focused on the perfection of the launch. If you keep putting off starting your idea because everything is not set, then you won’t be able to start your business at all. The moment you feel you have most things in order, go for it. You can always learn and adapt to the changes in the environment and twists of the industry or business you’re in.  

Secret 5: Get out of bed every morning for 3 reasons.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting you go all gung-ho and start winging every step. :) Of course you need a plan! But don’t overwhelm yourself with list upon list upon list of things to do. It’s enough to just set out to accomplish three goals for the day, then work from there if you turn out to have more time. You’re already in enough pressure without adding to them yourself. :)  


Secret 6: Failure is a requirement.
As an adult, you know that you almost always never get things just right the first time, right? :) The same goes for businesses. Slow return on investment (ROI), and perhaps even failure, is expected of starting businesses. This is how we learn as entrepreneurs and as individuals. Take the opportunity to get valuable lessons from your mistakes, and work on improving your business – and yourself – in the process.

Secret 7: You don’t know what you don’t know, but others do.
Let’s face it, no matter how unique your big idea is, someone, somewhere has already thought of it in one form or another. Don’t be disappointed, be delighted instead. These people are good sources of ideas, information, DO’s and DON’Ts and the like. You should make the discovery of these gurus, ideas and tips part of your research before, during and after bringing you big idea to reality.


The Real McCoy

Alright, we now know that we have a dream business and have already gotten tips on how to go beyond the brainstorming and planning stages. (If not, reread the first half of this post. :) ) Now, don’t go cheating yourself now. Don’t just go for your pseudo dream, aim for the real McCoy. :) You don’t have to be afraid of pursuing your actual dream business.

If you’re still wondering how, then let me tell you this exciting news! My friend Liz Thompson, founder of Healthy Wealthy nWise Magazine, Small Business CEO Magazine, and The Transperience Network has got us covered.

This genius of a woman has created The Science of Creating Your Dream Business. It builds on what we’ve been hearing since we were very little from Walt Disney, “If you can dream it, you can do it”

You won’t need a lifetime to get out of the career you don’t want or a business that’s ruining – err, running :) – your life. In a matter of minutes, you can make your business work for you instead. By activating the six key techniques Liz devised, you will be in control of your business and life. What’s more exciting is that in as short as 10 – 12 days, or sooner, you can start enjoying the first stages of higher profits and achieve that peace of mind you’ve also been aiming for.

Hundreds of entrepreneurs, from different businesses and in different economic situations, have tried these methods and are now living the life they want and chose. Even Liz and her husband Ric Thompson are still using them today, and they’re still amazed by the results and success they get.

Do you want to turn your dream business into reality? Reduce the stress in your life and have the financial freedom you’ve been longing for? Utilize your strengths and skills? Find the missing link to your business and life happiness? Work without struggling too much in a business or career that’s not working for you? Focus your energies towards something smart and direct that ensures your success? If you answered yes to most, if not all, of these questions, then it’s time to learn and use The Science of Creating Your Dream Business now!

If you’ve been dreaming of starting your own business for a while now and have been putting it off for all the reasons you could come up with, stop. It’s time to start accomplishing and create your dream business today. With help from the tips above, you are now on the road towards the success and life you’ve always wanted.

Do you have other start-up tips for aspiring business owners? Have you devised your own techniques towards creating your dream business? Let me know through the comments section below.

Good luck with turning your dreams into reality!
Adaire



Don’t Let the Fat Lady Sing

February 20th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom

The recession is said to be waning down this year, but until we’re fully recovered, we’re not out of the woods yet. Plenty of measures were taken by big and small businesses last year in order to help them survive. A number of them may have been successful, but sadly, others were not. Many companies still had to let go of people and close down under the pressure of the recession.

Since we know that the economy goes through its own cycle, (pretty much like everything in life, yeah? <g>) it’s inevitable that this kind of unfortunate phenomenon will repeat itself – but hopefully not in the near future. Whatever the economic condition, there are always measures that you could do to protect your business. Two featured articles in the Small Business CEO Magazine offer us a few of these tips.

Turn It Up

When the economy starts bringing your business down, don’t fret. There are always steps you could take to turn your business up and keep you afloat. Some of them may hurt and most of them have to be done decisively and immediately, but like quickly pulling off a band aid, they are more beneficial than harmful in the long run.

Kendall SummerHawk’s article What Would You Do? How to Prepare Your Business for Economic Downturn gives us four of these measures.

Clean Out the Dead Wood

In simpler terms, this is sifting. You need to take a closer look at your staff to find out who pulls their own weight and is worth keeping, as well as who drags their feet and need to be let go. In a way, you are forced to face what you should have been doing all along. That is, to make sure that your staff is made up of people who are hardworking and have the best interests of the company at heart. The rest are just dead wood that would cause you to sink faster if you don’t let them drift away soon enough. (Whew, there’s quite a bit of nautical jargon in there isn’t there? <g>)

Look For the Opportunities

To be ahead from the rest, you always have to keep an eye out for new opportunities. Gone are the days when just you let the opportunity come to you. These times, you have to be more proactive. It is more convenient and beneficial if you search for opportunities yourself. Since you know what you can do, you can decide where you want to take your business next and how you’ll go about it.

Unify the Heart, Mind and Soul of Your Team

During times of distress, we find out what our true characters are. We also tend to develop closer relationships with those around us who are going through the same experiences. Instead of causing fear and panic amongst your team, try to develop an activity which you could all focus on and benefit from. The smoother the relationship is between your team, the closer they are to each other and the deeper they know each others’ work habits, the better oiled their working relationships and processes will be. In addition, there will even be enough room for personal growth for each of them. Doesn’t that sound nice and productive? <g>      

Count and Celebrate Every Penny

These times, it pays to focus on the present. Forget about how much you lost or gained in the past. Instead, count all the victories you achieve – even down to the littlest of things. This way, you’ll get to appreciate everything more and there will be additional reasons to celebrate and be motivated into doing better.

Brave The Situation

Michiel Van Kets’ article Economic Changes & Your Small Business touches on a very similar subject as Kendall SummerHawk’s article did. This time, however, he focused more on the effects of economic changes in small businesses and how they could survive such changes.


Being Small Makes A Big Difference

When you’re a small business, it’s easier to see all aspects involving the business. Compared to large companies, there are bigger chances of assessing situations – such as what works and what doesn’t – more clearly and quickly. Since you’re also a smaller company, any changes you need to make are easier to implement and perhaps, even less costly if you’re lucky. <g>


Take Care of Your Loyal Supporters

Give the best service you can offer to your existing customers. You don’t have to stop searching for new clients, but sometimes, taking care of your old ones may be the best track to take, especially when you have limited resources that are already stretched too thin. This way, the customers you had before and during down times will most probably still be your customers when things start to look up. You have to admit, it promotes security and stability too, which is a big deal in struggling times if you ask me. <g>

Utilize Available Technology

There are plenty of technologies that could make your life easier and give you more time to focus on more important things, like taking care of your customers’ needs and possibly even finding new ones. The trick is finding the cheapest (maybe even free <g>) and most user-friendly technology available out there that would fit your business and what you need it to do for you.

If you deal with equipment, make sure you take care of them too. If repairs are needed, you can do a triage and fix as many of them as you could. Keep in mind that total loss of materials is more expensive than constant maintenance. Even worse, they could even lead to your company losing much needed resources.

Know Where to Make The Cut

There may come a time when you need to let a few people go, and count on them to be contractors for your company instead. Be careful in doing such moves for you do not want to let go of someone you might need later on. Try not to upset the balance of the staff as much as possible, since this particular measure can cause low morale, disinterest and even distrust among your people. Take extra care of how you break out such news to your staff. Let them know that you appreciate them very much, but have them understand that this is the last resort you could possibly try to salvage your business. It may be hard and painful to let people you’ve trusted go, but at times, the needs of the company must come first if you truly want to survive the situation.   

In times of distress, dare to show your true courage. Keep in mind that there are always measures you can take to save your business. With the help of your talents, skills and everyone who supports you, face your fears and problems and utilize everything in your power to rise above the situation.

As they say, it’s not over until the fat lady sings. So, get ahead and make sure she doesn’t even get to go on stage. <g> You may not control the economy or the other elements that affect your business, but you can control how you are going to run it and keep it alive no matter the economic condition.

Do you have other tips on how a business could survive economic changes? Share your thoughts with us by writing on the comments section below.

Until next time!

Liz



Bringing Out The Best

February 18th, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

There are plenty of success secrets out there. Each business has its own story of how it overcame challenges and achieved victories. Those fortunate enough to thrive longer have their own secrets to keep, and hopefully share eventually. I’ve come across two articles in  Small Business CEO Magazine, and I believe they capture the essence of a successful business and working environment.

Whatever your position, whether you’re a leader  or a follower, you have your own purpose in the company. You  have your own reputation to build and keep in order to help the company gain profit and success in the long run.

The Skinny On Business Relationships


Relationships sure are tricky aren’t they? <g> Everywhere we go and in everything we do, we encounter and build relationships with different types of people. One would think that such personal considerations have no place in the office. But as it turns out, it is a bigger deal than what your actual business is.

My husband Ric and I do not work in a traditional office environment. Oh, we have both experienced that in the past, but that’s, well, in the past. <g> Now, we’ve adapted a more modern working situation wherein we work at home and work in our virtual offices to run our several successful online marketing businesses, among other things.

This doesn’t mean, however, that we’ve been spared from such relationship considerations. With a virtual staff of more than 35 people located all over the planet we actually have to be more careful, since more often than not we don’t ever get to see the people we work with face to face. A lot of miscommunication can happen when you don’t see the faces of those you’re talking to or don’t hear the inflections in people’s voices in written or online correspondence.

Just the same, whether you’re in a traditional office setting or not, I believe Winn Claybaugh’s article Business’ Best-Kept Secret: Successful Relationships holds true.

It’s Not Just An Office Place

Some may think that people in bigger, more elaborate and beautiful offices have better relationships with each other than those who work in smaller, sparsely furnished workplaces. Well, you could not be more wrong. <g>

Successful businesses are not built on their physical offices (well, not literally anyway <g>), but on the people who work there instead. Shiny floors and decorative paintings do not assure a good working relationship between office workers. Polite and nice personal interaction and good, strong relationships among colleagues, however, do.

No matter where you work, or what you do, or how big your business is, it’s the people in it who make it run and function. Like a machine, their relationships have to be well oiled. Otherwise, the clunking and rusting would be heard and noticed by the customers. Yes, clients are that intuitive. <g> They know when they’re being served by good-natured and wonderful people with good working relationships, versus those who are visibly sniping at each other or who have undercurrents of hostility running through them. How each worker is towards another is always palpable, no matter how they each try to hide it. Did I just hear someone say, “ouch?”  <g>


Go In Asking

We each have our own goals and objectives in a company or business. This doesn’t mean that we could do anything we want and treat anyone like how we want to though. Others may think they could do everything alone. Well, I have news for you my friend, not always. <g> You need the people around you.

Remember, you aim to help the company gain profit – not just you. If you end up being recognized and appreciated in the process, then bravo for you. Otherwise, you need to consider that everyone in the group contributes something essential to the company’s success. Your relationship with each of these people is more important than whatever task you have to perform for the business.

An original concept by Gene Juarez, a businessman from Seattle, Washington, was reiterated by Winn. That is, to always “go in asking.” How is this done, you ask? Lucky you, I’m here to share it. <g>

Whenever something happens, whether it be a good or bad situation, it’s always better to speak to the concerned parties directly and get the information straight from the horse’s mouth, so to speak. <g> If you need something confirmed or cleared up, you go on in and ask away. Set the person you want to settle something with aside and don’t show any hostility or judgment. Approach with caution, love and good will, and you will surely get the answer you’re aiming to get. Trust me, sugar definitely paves the way better and smoother than salt. <g> Treat your colleagues with respect and create good working relationships with them and your workplace will definitely be a haven to work in.

Your Responsibility
Personal growth and self improvement are two of the goals we set for ourselves when we start working in a company. I believe this is achieved as a result of being either in the doing or receiving end the following tips from Bob ‘Idea Man’ Hooey in his article 12 Key Strategies for ‘Bringing Out the Best in People’.

Expect the best from the people you lead.

If you expect the best from the people you lead and work with, you’d be surprised that they will deliver most of the time. Just as they expect you to be a good leader or colleague, so should you expect and trust them to be good workers themselves.

Make a thorough study of the other person’s needs.

It’s not always a quid pro quo situation, but considering and providing the needs of your colleagues always go a long way into getting on their good side and encouraging the best performance from them.

Establish high standards for excellence.

You have to aim high to reach high. If you establish high standards from the very start, then your company would do no wrong. People who are used to aiming for high standards usually end up expecting more of themselves and delivering even more than they expected.

Create an environment where failure is not fatal.

Failure is not a stranger. It’s always just around the corner and will, on occasion, join the party. Accept it as part of business cycle and do not alienate or banish those who meet it. Let your colleagues know that it’s okay to fall every once in a while, as long as you all get up and learn from it in the process.

If they are going anywhere near where you want to go, climb on other people’s bandwagons.

Nobody could get where they need to be on their own. Everyone needs help, some more so than others. However, when you feel that someone is not on the same wavelength as you and is doing the company more harm than good, don’t be afraid to call him on it.

We each thrive where we’re supposed to be. Accept that maybe your company is just not the right place for him to grow. Then, you’ll have the chance to find someone who is more suited for your company.

Employ models to encourage success.

Practice what you preach, live by example and do unto others and whatnot. <g> All these clichés actually make perfect sense. How will your colleagues trust and respect you if you yourself do not abide by the company’s rules and perform poorly?

Recognize and applaud achievement.

Sometimes, people are shy or apprehensive about admitting that they do enjoy attention and applause. Some like to bask in the glory once in a while, but others want to swim in it. Just the same, don’t hesitate to recognize whatever achievement there is and applaud whoever was responsible. This is proven to uplift morale and produce better working results.

Employ a mixture of positive and negative reinforcement.

It’s not always sunshine and praises of course. <g> If you get to applaud achievement, you should also be able to manage reprimands. Anything good turns bad if overdone or overused. If you only recognize the good parts and ignore the bad ones, then things will go downhill in no time. It’s better to call on the negative aspects and work on them together while you can.

Appeal sparingly to the competitive urge.

Healthy and constructive competition between colleagues could motivate performance and boost morale. Knowing they’re working against, as well as with (if in teams), like minds gives you a sense of belonging. It also builds a feeling of security, an awareness that you’re all talented and completely capable and worthy of being in the same company.  

Place a premium on collaboration.

Like I’ve mentioned above a few times, no one could and should work completely alone. “No man is an island” is one cliché that comes to mind. <g> Encourage collaboration and watch those creative juices mix together and produce amazing results.

Build into the group an allowance for storms.

Since you’ve already accepted that failure is part of business and life, you should be ready for the worst at all times. You don’t want an economic downturn or whatever mishap taking you by surprise. Instill the value of preparedness in everyone. Take the lead and gain control if need be, but don’t discount the help each individual could contribute.

Take steps to keep your own motivation high.

We’ve also established that you should live by example, whether you’re a leader or an employee. No matter the situation, you should always have your game face on. If the company is doing badly, you can’t break down in front of everyone. Instead, put on a brave and positive front, and assure your colleagues that with collaboration and a little luck, you could get out of whatever situation you’re in right now. If you trust in each others’ abilities and have good working relationships, then you could most definitely work together towards helping the company stay afloat and regain success.

Who would have thought that the childhood concept of “make nice to play nice” would transcend time and apply to our lives and relationships even as adults? <g> But there you go.Successful businesses are built on successful working relationships, and like it or not, we each have the capacity to bring out the best (or the worst) in each other. These are very powerful concepts if you think hard on them, since they could make or break businesses. The key is to use these powers for good to produce the best possible results.

Do you have anecdotes on office relationships you want to share? Or maybe you have additional tips on how to bring out the best in people? Write in the comments section below and tell us your story.

Have a wonderful (and peaceful) day you all!

Liz



It’s only words…or is it?

February 11th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

Words. We use them every time we talk and see them every time we read. No matter how much we use them, they never really run out nor do they go out of fashion. :) We are so used to them that sometimes, we don’t realize how important they are. Used badly, words cause anger, hurt feelings, cost jobs, lose sales and even incite rebellion. Used right, they touch emotions, boost confidence, win victories, encourage imagination, profess love and increase profit.

Whether used for personal or professional purposes, words create a huge impact on people’s lives. In the business of copywriting, words are the main factor. Secrets of a Copywriting Genius, Ric Thompson’s TALK with John Carlton, focuses on exactly what the title indicates. There are, indeed, secrets to writing not only good but great copy.

During the talk, John Carlton relayed how he got started on copywriting, what drove him to learn on his own, the lessons he’s learned throughout the years, what inspired him to teach others and the success secrets he wants to share with everyone. In turn, let me spread the love and share with you the lessons I learned from their talk. :)

Just Write

All the ads, television shows, movies, newspapers, magazines, books, etc., whether online or offline, start with words. As John Carlton said, “Nothing happens until the copy gets written.” This is true for most, if not all, projects and maybe even more so for advertisements.

Different factors come into play when you’re about to write copy for anything. Sometimes, these considerations are the ones that fuel the creative process. But other times, they may cause the blockage that keeps us from thinking clearly. Some writers prefer to wait for inspiration, but others believe in just diving in and going for it. Since there’s no higher power than the deadline, the latter tactic seems the smarter way to go. :)

Some people may be intimidated by all the technicalities of writing and grammar. But contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a scholar or a Pulitzer Prize winning author in order to write effective copy. All you need is a clear sales message. As long as you know what you want to write about, what you need to convey to your audience and how you’re going to deliver that message, then you’re on your way to creating good copy.
Tap Into Feelings
We all love stories! I know I do. :) When a copy is as interesting as a story, it has the power to capture our attention. Often times, the more a copy touches our emotions, the more effective it is.

Since buying is more of an emotional rather than a rational decision, as John Carlton discussed in his conversation with Ric Thompson, emotion-tapping copy usually gets the job done. With effective copy, you could guide and sway a buyer’s decision, get them excited about a product, allay their objections and even convert their beliefs. Now, that’s interesting. We definitely learn something new every day. :)

Raise The Bar

Another amazing concept that John Carlton introduced is the “bar room conversation.” In a situation when a man sits beside you in a bar and you overhear his conversation with the bartender and then, you find out that you could provide the solution to his dilemma, you don’t just walk right up to him and scare the living daylights out of him. Oh no, that would be an unusually awkward, and possibly hostile, situation! :)

The same goes for ads and effective marketing. Treat people as strangers – which come to think of it, they are :) – and you think of the best approach to take when you talk to them. You need to proceed with caution and smarts at all times. Since most times your advertisement or offer of help is an unwelcome intrusion, you have to be clever enough in order to make them pay attention and not run away screaming. :)

Sell-ability

John Carlton believes that there is an inner salesperson in everyone. We all have the ability to sell – whether they are products, thoughts or ideas. We have the innate ability to sway people’s emotions into seeing things from our perspective and choosing to buy what we’re selling. Some just choose to hide, ignore or refuse to hone it.

Mr. Carlton also believes that there are plenty of talented salespeople out there, and if you are capable of selling products and having people buy from you face to face, then you should also be able to translate that talent and close sales even in writing.

The Midas Touch
In this day and age, the online phenomenon continues to whip up a storm. You could turn anything into gold and the good news is yes, even copy. :)

Since everything is faster, you could immediately see results. Most times, you could even interact with your audience in real time. You write up a copy in your website and people react. You tweak a few details, and they’ll react even more. You don’t need to guess as much, and a lot of waiting time has been taken out of the equation. Needless to say, advertising has become a lot cheaper and easier than before. :)

With plenty of online resources and avenues floating around the web, you could definitely earn a lot of money through writing. It’s very easy to do market research and find out what your competition is doing. You could also compare and contrast market prices and determine exactly where you are and what position to take.

When you know your positioning in the market, you should be able to present yourself as worthy of the audiences’ attention. You should be able to convey the benefit you’ll bring to them by holding their attention and giving them a hook they could bite on and follow.
If you’re looking towards going into a career in copywriting, don’t be daunted by all the writers out there who have more experience or knowledge than you. It just follows, since they’ve been in the business longer. :) You just need to have a clear knowledge of what you want to do and how you want to do it. Keep in mind that copywriting can be learned. You only need to tap into your inner storyteller and learn how to translate those ideas into words that would, most definitely, touch people’s lives when you stitch them right. :)

Click here to listen to the audio recording of Ric Thompson’s and John Carlton’s talk. To see some of John Carlton’s products, works and read testimonials about his course, Kick-Ass Copywriting Secrets of a Marketing Rebel, check out www.MarketingRebel.com and his blog www.John-Carlton.com.

Do you have other copywriting secrets you’d like to share with our readers? Just post on the comments section below and let me know.

Happy writing!



Before You Start

February 9th, 2010 by Adaire in Financial Freedom

Start. Struggle. Restart. Struggle. Proceed. Struggle. Succeed. These are common experiences that start-up business owners go through. No matter the business or the economy, these are universal trends that happen at the beginning of businesses, or maybe even anything important that’s worth doing for that matter. :) In some cases, the idea is there, the research has been done, the will is strong and the capital is ready, but would-be business owners still don’t know where or how to begin.

That’s where Ric Thompson’s New Order Business School TALK with Rich Schefren about Opportunity Seekers versus Entrepreneurs come in. Their discussion, available here, offers a lot of insight into the startup business owner’s psyche and valuable lessons we could apply not only in starting our own business but in the other aspects of our lives as well.

No wonder Rich Schefren is referred to as the Guru to the Internet Gurus, because he’s brilliant! :) He has done business coaching for hundreds of other gurus out there who continually turn to him for answers, including my friends Ric and Liz Thompson who applied his tips when they were just starting their now successful online marketing business. In this short session, he was able to make me understand the dos and don’ts of starting a business. He also introduced me to the concept of opportunity seekers vs. entrepreneurs. Two categories that I wasn’t aware existed in the business industry. :)

Below are a few things I learned from the interview.

Define Who You Are

In starting a business, before anything else, you must first find out who you are – where your passions lie, what you can do, what you can offer, your strengths and weaknesses and other aspects of yourself. It doesn’t matter what product you’re selling or aiming to sell. Knowing your talents and abilities is the starting point where you can build your business on.

It’s definitely great for some who know who they are and what they want to do from the very beginning, but it’s quite a struggle for others. But no matter how long it takes or how hard it is, you must search within for what you can offer before going out there and doing business among people. When you’re offering the right product that you can back up and actually produce, then you have a better chance of building a lasting business.



Satisfy A Market Need: Opportunity Seeker vs. Entrepreneur

The reason you should start a business, more than anything, is that you want to satisfy an existing market need. There is a need, you find that your abilities are an exact match for answering it, and you take the opportunity and do something about it.

Don’t just ride whatever opportunity or trends come along and force it to fit into your capabilities or vice versa. You’ll just end up jumping from one business to another. Frankly, that’s just asking for trouble and a total waste of energy and resources – not only yours but those who are going to purchase your somewhat half-cooked product and process. :) This is where Rich Schefren’s opportunity seeker vs. entrepreneur concept comes in.

If you think that there is an opportunity under every bush or stone, chase whatever new booming business trend is out there, feel you’ve discovered the most coveted success secrets out there but can’t seem to stay in business long because of new ones that come along, then you are an opportunity seeker. It’s time to stop, take a breather and listen to your inner strengths and abilities for a change. :)

If, however, you’ve managed to focus on your passion, visualized where you want to go and mapped out how you want to get there, becoming rich is not your utmost concern, going out there to fulfil a market need is your goal, discovered an opportunity that calls for such passion and decided to make a business out of answering this call, then you are a true entrepreneur.  Congratulations, you’re on the road to success! :)

Go To Market: Know Your Audience

In order to successfully market your product, first and foremost, you should know who your target market is. From there you could distinguish the right offer for them and how and where you’ll present the offer.

Similar to a battle, you can’t just go out there and fight the wrong enemy with the wrong weapons – or in this case, offer a random product in the market and expect people to just flock to you and buy them. There are so many things that can’t be guaranteed by this approach. You don’t know if the product you’re offering is right for the market, and there are no assurances that it will appeal and sell to the right people. Again, it would be a complete waste of precious energy and resources, especially if you’re a struggling startup business owner with limited budget.

The best way to go about it is to narrow down the market you wish to offer your product or services to, then think of the most appealing way to present your product. It helps if the market you choose is the one you currently belong to. Then, you won’t have a hard time figuring out what they want and how they want it, since you basically know all these things already. You can now focus on the proper way to offer your product and do great at serving it. In a way, this approach would help you improve yourself and achieve personal growth.


Apply What You Learn and Prove Your Worth

On top of all these, nothing beats learning from the experts. Since they’ve gone through the same hoops and struggles in the business or industry, they have plenty to share. Read books, search through the Internet, ask around and gather and filter as many useful information and tips from them.

Of course, all these tips and tricks would be useless if you don’t apply them. Don’t be over confident and think you could just go out there and wing it. Trust the gurus. They’ve been where you are, so their advice is solid and sound. :)

You’ll also definitely learn and derive your own lessons along the way. Learn to adapt and roll with the punches. Don’t let the hurdles bring you down. Use them as leverage instead, and apply whatever you learned from them.

Once you’ve honed and improved your product or service and can back up each and everything you offer and claim, then people would trust you. They will come back to you for more and repeatedly, since you’ve already proven your worth to them. Now, this would certainly bring in the money! :)

If you’re looking to start your own business and are willing to devote all your time and effort towards doing it, then it’s definitely worth doing right. Have a clear vision of where you want to go, plan how to get there, offer a solid product that answers a market need, know who your target market is, come up with an ingenious and proper way to offer your product and make sure that your product has real value to your audience. With these considerations, you can’t do wrong. :)

Are you ready to learn from the experts and start your own business? Get access to Ric Thompson’s talk with the guru of the gurus, Rich Schefren, here.

Do you have other startup business tips to share? Let me know through the comments section below.

Good luck with starting your own business!
Adaire



We’ve Come A Long Way

February 2nd, 2010 by Liz in Financial Freedom, Lifestyle

Times surely have changed haven’t they? What used to take people a long time can now be done at the drop of the hat or in the blink of an eye as some clichés would say. <g>

With horses, people had to travel for weeks to get to another country, but with planes, it could take as little as a few hours.

Monks used to copy books by hand one at a time when they wanted to distribute their works, but since the advent of the printing press, they could reproduce as many copies as they wanted at a short time.

Instead of going to the library to study and do research, you can just plug in your computer and type into your favorite search engine.

Rather than waiting days or months for your correspondence to get to your intended recipient, there is now such a thing as an electronic mail… <g>
With all these developments around us, marketing and advertising were definitely not left behind. Ric and I, for one, are glad about that. <g> If not for the wonders of the Internet, we wouldn’t even be reaching out to you like this today.

If you’re one of those who has not jumped on the business side of this technological and social evolution, you’re may be missing quite a bit. Let me share with you a couple of articles that might convince you to get your feet wet and join the wonderful world of Internet business and networking.

Social networks don’t bite

It’s true that a lot of people are still wary of social networking for various reasons, since they did not initially meet these people in the traditional manner – which usually entailed personal, face-to-face interaction. We all have to admit that the electronic processes of instant messaging, Internet phones, emails, social networking sites and the like do add a certain level of impersonal touch and a little difficulty between people. I mean, communication is hard enough as it is without having to decipher a person’s statements or read accurately into their words when we don’t actually get to see their facial expressions all the time. But with better and faster technology nowadays, as well as stricter Internet regulations that protect users’ rights (yes, we should and do have those around the web <g>), many of the fears of the past can now be allayed.

Julia Stege tackles this growing social network phenomenon in her Small Business CEO Magazine article entitled Still Afraid of Social Networks? Top 4 Objections and How to Disappear Them by debunking the top four objections most people have against social networking. I must say, being unbiased as I am on this topic <g>, that she has many good points.


Objection 1: I’ll lose my privacy.

Once you’re online, a certain amount of your privacy is already gone. You’ve already shared information with the world that is floating around cyberspace for anyone to access. However, if you’re running an Internet-based business, this is a good thing. You have more chances of exposure and you can reach more people in more places than you originally planned.
Potential customers could even search for you already, instead of you having to search for them all the time. In terms of keeping your privacy, you can always opt to separate your personal accounts from your business ones, and put up all types of protection like passwords and firewalls to protect your personal (or even business) data. That way, only a select few will have access to your most personal information.

Objection 2: I don’t have the time to do one more thing

Nonsense! <g> Since Internet marketing, networking and the like are done within minutes of clicking, browsing, reading, replying and typing – most times at the luxury of your own home and at any convenient time for you — you’re actually carving out more time to do all these and a whole lot of other things you’ve planned or have been planning for quite a while.

Objection 3: People say meaningless things like what they’re eating. Why do I care?

Here’s something to think about. If you think your inbox is flooded with trivial information about people and friends that you feel you don’t need to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be reading them in the first place. In order to attract useful data off the Internet, you actually have to search for the right group, key in the right information and join the right site with the “it” crowd for you. For web veterans, I’m sure this comes as no shock to you. For online newbies, you’ve been advised by the masters. <g> 

Objection 4: I don’t understand how to use Social Networks to attract my perfect customers.

Not to worry, many are new to this too. You don’t have to run on your first day, you could take baby steps while exploring this relatively new world. The important thing is that you’re already connected. You just have to find the right niche and network for you, so you could make friends, spread the word about what you’re offering and eventually, attract the right kind of customers you’ve been dreaming of when you started your online business.

Blogging is not just for cute little updates anymore

Another great innovation brought about by the Internet is blogging. According to Jeremiah Patton in his Small Business CEO Magazine article 5 Reasons Why Blogging is the New Internet Marketing Tool, blogging started in the late 90’s as a way for people to comment on an existing webpage or react about another’s opinion. It was usually only a few words long but has now evolved into pages of viral information about anything and everything you could think of. You guessed it, advertising and marketing are no exceptions and have certainly taken advantage of this growing trend.

You have to wonder why, right? Out of all the materials on the Internet, blogging is emerging as the new “it” tool for marketing people. Well, good thing Jeremiah provided us with a few reasons. <g>

Blogging is simple.

How simple? Well, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to figure it out. You just have to have a computer, Internet connection, the ability to type and navigate your way around the Internet, and you’re all set. You don’t even have to be grammatically correct or be a Pulitzer Prize winning author to start your own blog. (It would be a bonus, however, if you at least have a modicum of grammatical knowledge and thought flow process, as well as a respectable amount of knowledge of whatever language you chose to blog in. <g>)

Blogging is authentic.

Since you’re mostly free writing, more of your raw material and self comes out. Because you’re not being majorly edited by anything or anyone, you’re freer to express what you truly want to say and in the manner you want to say it. Product reviews? You could either promote it to the world or have a few words of criticism (constructive, I hope <g>) for the creators and distributors of the product. Always keep in mind though that even online, there are still certain codes of ethics that you should follow. (If you want to be a respectable blogger that is. <g>)

Blogging is free.

Since blogging is not yet proven as a “mainstream online advertising media,” a lot of sites still allow free advertising, so businesses (especially new ones) can get exposure and click backs. Paid sites could bring in a serious amount of money for your online business/es though.

Blogging builds credibility.

It’s a chain. The longer you’ve been writing (good stuff I hope <g>), the more followers you attract. When you’ve achieved “expert” status, more and more people look to your site as a daily dose for their day. Eventually, the bigwigs pay attention and may come to you for paid advertising or affiliation on your site. Now, that would surely bring in good money for your business. I should know, Ric and I know a little something, something about this online marketing business. <g>

Blogging builds your market.

Blogging is not hocus pocus however, you have to build your market by actively blogging and taking certain measures to ensure your popularity and credibility. Explore sending emails and subscriptions to your readers or get to know them through simple surveys, join similar networks or sites as yours, and host RSS feeds that your audience can download to attract a multitude of readers to your site.

The Internet, like any tool or technology, can be a double-edged sword. Meaning, it can either work for you or against you depending on how you approach and use it. You just have to accept and not be afraid of it, and you need to know how to wield it right to your advantage. As always, personal responsibility starts and ends with you. You decide what social networking sites you join, and you decide what type of materials you discuss and include in your blog.

Do you have other fears of social networking sites that are not included above? How else do you think blogging becomes a useful Internet marketing tool? Share with us your thoughts through the comments section below.

Happy online surfing!
Liz