Tag Archive | business

Do we have a date?

Dave Ramsey is one of my favorites in both business and the financial world. Based on Scriptural principles, he takes a no-nonsense approach to finance, leadership and life (just ask his kids). He draws a line in the sand and strives (nobody’s perfect) to walk what he talks, and it works! I took advantage of some travel time in the car on the way to a meeting and listened to one of his CD’s on leadership. The concept he shared about making decisions proved simple, but profound.

Many decisions in life are easy to make – what to have for lunch, which container of milk to buy, how to subscribe to an e-zine, or whatever other similar choices affect your life. Hence, you needn’t spend a lot of time on the process of making your decision. On the other hand, if you have saved for a long time to buy a new car, you want to ensure you spend adequate time to make the right selection.  Your choice will be with you for a long while, hopefully.  In other words, small impact decisions require less thought than their weightier counterparts because they have a greater long-term impact. The amount of time you take to make your decision should be proportionate to its impact.

As one of those people with a million ideas, I can get bogged down in the process which sometimes leads to procrastination, a sense of being overwhelmed or a good idea falling through the proverbial cracks. Ramsey suggests when you have to make one of the heavier decisions or if you feel like you’re spinning your wheels, grab your calendar and set a date to decide. Don’t drag it out. Weigh the pros and cons, decide and move on. Setting a date relieves the stress because, if nothing else, there is an end in sight.

Your date may reflect a deadline that is either real or self-imposed. Either way, you’ll need to evaluate the facts, opportunities and challenges and then act. Based on your decision, you can adjust if the results are not immediately satisfactory. Whether you’re purchasing a new home, a piece of equipment or determining if you should open or close the doors on a business, Ramsey’s method has worked for him and countless others. I think I’ll give it a try. What do you think? Do we have a date?

Can you learn from an 8-year old?

Have you ever seen a large-ticket item you feel you’d like to have, maybe even needed, but have no idea where to start to make it happen?

Some people seem to be born with focus. They know what they want and go after it, usually with success. Those on the opposite side of the continuum seem to float their way through life aiming at little and becoming confused by the less than desirable results. Although you can pay a lot of money to find and read a host of books, get training or attend seminars on setting and achieving your goals, you might also like a more simplistic approach.

Instead of trying to remember what each letter of a SMART goal stands for, you can follow journalism’s 5 Ws and an H – What, Why, Where, Who, When and How. With these questions you can define

  • what you want
  • why you should have it and what challenges will need to be addressed along the way
  • who needs to be involved
  • where to find resources
  • when it should take place
  • how to make it happen

You can adapt the questions to your specific purpose.

Without any help from adults or older siblings, my 8-year old grandson came up with his business plan to obtain a trampoline and prepared it in the form of a proposal to his parents. You might like his method. The last I heard, he’s still working on the second phase. I think you’ll chuckle at his wisdom.

ETHAN’S TRAMPOLINE

Why we need a trampoline is because:  It will help with heaLth. How it will help is it will give us leg muscles and we will play outside.

Where will we get the money? How we will get the money is it will be a birthday present from Dallas, and Michael, Sabrina, and Grandma, and Grandpa, and you guys (his parents).

Where will we put it? The options of where we could put it if we got it is:  In the back yard or on one of the sides of our house.

Safety: Make sure it has a net and has unlimited weight.

Other: We can move the basketball hoop towards the trampoline. We can save money because we won’t have to go to the workout gym.

You can’t beat writers

Say what you will about writers, I think they’re among the best. So what if they work in their pajamas, wield their craft unshaven or keep irregular hours? They have some, in fact quite a few, redeeming qualities.

Writers think. Regardless if their passion is fiction or non-fiction, they combine their creative talent and language skill as a master builder. They construct a foundation of sentences and paragraphs until they communicate their idea or story, one that could potentially change the world. Like a renowned artist, writers apply colorful language to the blank page and educate, engage or entertain their readers beyond themselves. For good or for bad, writers make you think, even for a brief time.

Writers understand the process can be slow and tedious including a lot of waiting time that may lead to rejections, yet they do what they can to help their writing siblings to avoid their pitfalls. They often meet together both online and off to share their works in progress seeking both affirmation and feedback for ways to improve. In this forum, they also communicate lessons learned about the writing process or making a go of it as a business. Writers share resources and tricks of the trade to save others the hassle of going it alone.

Writers aren’t perfect, but most care about their craft and its impact on others. Those who’ve achieved a measure of success have also experienced rejection – likely a lot of it. Yet with the fortitude of their character and the encouragement of their writing partners, they forge ahead and get better.  You just can’t beat writers.

WDW – It’s not just for kids

Traveling to Walt Disney World for the first time this past summer generated far more than pleasant days watching the kids’ faces light up when they spotted their favorite Disney character or experienced a rousing ride like Space Mountain. Even walking down memory lane, aka Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, could not compare with the lessons so subtly taught throughout Disney. What I learned in this trip surpassed the countless classes I endured to get my business degree, and it included a lot more fun.

Disney was a genius not only with his cartoon characters but also in the world of business. His values-based leadership and dedication to excellence spills out in the quality employees (cast members), products and services they offer. Guests enjoy outstanding accommodations and food. Disney’s highly trained staff not only anticipates and meets every need, in most instances, they exceed your highest expectations. 

We actually interviewed several employees and learned more about the extensive planning that went into the complex, and it did not stop when WDW opened its doors. On the contrary, Disney World continues to grow, change and evolve to meet the dreams of coming generations. Even as we chatted, teams of employees worked behind the scenes to make the WDW organization run like a well-oiled machine. You don’t often see that practiced in the business world or taught in business courses. Perhaps that’s why Walt Disney also planned for the Disney Institute to prepare his employees in the fine art of knowing your customer. Long before Facebook or LinkedIn, Disney knew how to establish and build lasting relationships. 

During our entire stay, only once did I see anything amiss. A pop-up thunderstorm had deluged the area and the resort’s guests flooded the lobby with their dripping clothes and soggy shoes. The restrooms had a continuous flow of people trying to dry themselves. I actually spotted a little paper on the floor and an empty basket that previously held towels. I marveled to myself that this was the only time I saw a restroom in disarray, but when I returned a few minutes later, I found the room immaculate. They must have invisible staff or just maybe Tinkerbelle’s magic pixie dust is real. Whatever their plan, it works. 

Fun abounds at Walt Disney World, yet you can take home a lot more than souvenirs and it won’t take up room in your suitcase – unless you take copious notes. WDW is not just for kids.

Picture from Google Images

How to sell a mousetrap

There’s a measure of truth in the old adage, “If you build a better mousetrap, they’ll beat a path to your door.” How does this happen? The answer is word of mouth. 

It’s simple really. One person tells another how much he liked or benefited from your product or service. That person recommends it to someone else who also touts its attributes to another until the path to your door has become well-worn. No high pressure sales and no high-priced ad campaigns. It’s just one proverbial beggar telling another where to get bread. 

Enter social media. Now if someone likes your mousetrap, she (or he) can post it on Facebook so that 487 of her closest friends see it. Respecting her and her opinions, these comrades just may give it a try and then tell 287 of their nearest and dearest friends their thoughts – good or bad. With social media the cycle continues within minutes. You do the math. If the comments are positive, it won’t take long for folks from all over the world to be beating a virtual path to your door. 

Whether you’re helping your child sell Girl Scout cookies and popcorn or marketing a new line of cars, social media is a viable marketing strategy.

Savings on email

Do you get overwhelmed over the volume of email you get each day? 

If you work in a business office, you’re bombarded throughout the day with electronic messages. Did you know that it takes an average of 2 minutes to open read and close an email? This means if you send and receive 50 emails per day – I realize this is likely a low estimate, you spend 100 minutes per day just on email. Let’s see, based on 260 days per year that works out to about 18 days you’re dedicating to email alone. All of this does not include any action or follow up the email may generate nor does it count texting or IM. You do your own math based on your volume. 

Several years ago, I read the Hamster Revolution by Mike Song, Vicki Halsey and Tim Burress, which offered several strategies to reduce the time spent on dealing with email. They claim to save you 20% on your time. Their methods do work, though I never actually measured my results. 

One of the ways they suggest to lessen the load is to use the ABC approach for messages you write:

Action Summary – one sentence specifying action, purpose or your key point

Background – body of message using bullet points and white space whenever you can

Close – niceties, next steps, and auto signature (this really saves you time). 

You might identify with their hamster analogy if you expend a lot of energy handling messages while your real work piles up on the desk. Throw in frequent meetings, and you’re loading your brief case to take the work home. Not good. To establish more work/life balance, try different strategies to lighten the load.

Can you get out of your comfort zone using Google maps?

When you start your own business or a new job, it is important to get yourself or your name out in public in order to obtain new clients or business. Networking is a wonderful means to accomplish this. For some, the process is easier than for others.  In my case, I chose to begin with a local Chamber of Commerce business card exchange. I thought this would be an excellent way to bolster my courage and start my journey to success. I even coerced a friend to attend as well. 

Dressed professionally and armed with business cards and prepared elevator speeches, we grabbed our Google directions and were on our way. Admittedly we experienced some nervousness as we set out on this great adventure outside the “Comfort Zone.”     

We were unconcerned about the directions as we had cut and pasted the address from the online invitation into Google maps. We followed our prescribed path and recognized the names of streets just as the instructions indicated. However, the bank hosting the event did not appear. I called my husband, who patiently re-Googled (is there such a term?) the address and came up with the same plan.  We retraced our route, but did not see the bank. In fact, we did not see any banks. 

After getting turned around on some back roads and trying to second guess what Google may have done, we ended up in the next town that happened to begin with the same letter. Still the correct bank did not emerge. Finally, we resigned ourselves to head for home. We traveled several more miles before stopping at a traffic light. Lo and behold, we looked up and before our eyes was “the” bank. Can you believe the name of the street matched not only the invitation, but also the street we had been traveling on for the past hour? 

After traveling about 50 miles (It should have been 6.1 and taken 15 minutes), we finally reached our destination. We hurried in to exchange cards with the few people remaining. Funny thing. The nervousness had disappeared as we had replaced that emotion with relief and thankfulness for finding our location. 

So to answer my title question, can you find your way out of your comfort zone using Google maps? The answer is yes, but the route you travel may deviate from the map.