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February 2007
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March 2007

For the love of it?

From the Burns Waring Newsroom comes (not) surprising news:

Entrepreneurs 'work for the love of it'

Which of the following is true for your business as entrepreneur (see the article for the real stats): What is most important  to 'go-it-alone'?

  • Personal development
  • Desire to stay in control
  • Creating something that can be passed on to the next generation
  • Seeking peer group recognition

The article ends with a 'warning:

"While going into business for yourself is a great opportunity to create a work-life balance which suits your individual needs, it certainly isn't a soft option," said Tuuli Perkio from MasterCard Europe, which commissioned the research."


Gotta' Get Goals

Goals, we all set them, especially we business people. It's the first thing your bank manager - accountant - business consultant asks you: what's this year's goal?

Our goal for last year was to double our turnover, we accomplished that with 1.5 months to spare. Yesterday I kinda listed our achievements of this first quarter and was already geared up to write down my answers to Kent's additional 27 questions.

Today, that 'goal' is set on the back burner:                     

Gottagetgoals_2

Tagged, I'm it. Dawud Miracle tagged me on this Goal meme, 'launched' by Alex Shalman just over a week ago. The goal of the Gotta' Get Goals is to write down 5 to 10 goals you gotta' get so you can truly say you have achieved your wildest dreams in life. (Read Alex's post for his goals and the 'rules' of the meme).

It's quite a different meme than the Turtle meme of last month, that was about The Top 5 Goals I Never Seriously Considered. Gotta' get goals is the opposite: 5 to 10 goals I do consider seriously, seriously wish to accomplish before I go to sleep that one last time.

(When I found the tag I wondered just for one moment if this should be more a topic for the Stop/Start blog, but Kiss2 was tagged and when the truth is told: I can't see myself, including my goals, separated from my business, so on the Kiss2 business blog it will be).

Right, my goals I seriously wish to have accomplished now, in the near or further afield future are:

  1. Stop saying, thinking: 'Gotta proof myself'. Not in the sense that I'm over-competitive or don't believe in my own skills or strengths; more accepting that I'm only human, I make mistakes, I have my limits, I don't have to know every answer, solution to every problem. This 'attitude' also makes me arrogant sometimes and that's not a characteristic I like much.
    So, I'll start listening to my mentor even better when he says (once again): "You worry too much". I will try, my dear friend.

  2. Our business will grow even further than we imagined it would four years ago. We had to start all over again at that moment, having lost faith, trust and money in a 'double Dutch' partnership that was doomed to fail from day one on (with hindsight of course). We will proof (oops) that our way is the most sustainable way to start, build and succeed a retails business that is based on quality, quality and quality.
    Our constantly growing business will give us our reward for all our hard and honest work in the end, either by franchising it or by selling it to the highest bidder - not for many years to come yet, enjoy my work as it is now much too much to plan to retire early.

  3. Haskettoakhouse As Wendy at emoms-at-home says: only big dreamers need apply: Big dream is to build my house in the way I dreamed of it already. Know how it looks like, know where I want to build it: in this or near this village we live in now, made completely of Oak timber frames with a large sunny garden - with barbecue - and garden room, complete with large library, open huge log fire, reading chairs and settees everywhere, and a study for me where I can write and write and write while when I have a writers-block can gaze out over the English countryside.

  4. Talking about writing, it's my writers goal to write at least one sequel of "The Kiss Business - The Keep It Simple Sweetheart Principle in Business" based on this Kiss2 (too) blog. First sequel deadline: in three years time.

  5. Besides hard facts and figures goals I have a personal, heartfelt goal also. My dad died over sixteen years ago, unexpectedly. We hadn't talked to each other for five years. That's hard, that's something I don't wish to anyone. I learned a very wise life-lesson that period, the hard way. And my goal is to make everyone understand this lesson  and to follow up on it whenever they can/have to:
    When you like someone, tell them and tell them and tell them again. If you don't, you could get a telephone call one evening telling you: sorry, you've left it too late.
    I've kept to that rule since then and that sometimes gets me 'funny looks' from others. Not that I constantly hug them, sweet pea or mollycoddle them, I let them know I care any which way I can.
    Because I don't want to leave it too late, never ever again. Don't you also, tell them you care, now.

  6. (added after I already posted this, forgot one important goal!)
    I am and have been very fortunate to have met two mentors in my life from whom I receive/received freely so much wisdom, knowledge and a shoulder to cry on when needed, one day I want to 'pass-the-parcel'.

Right, those are the 5 6 most important 'gotta get goals' I have. And now comes rule 5 set by Alex Shalman:

"There is no limit to how many bloggers you are allowed to “tag”, so go crazy. It will help their exposure as well as your own when they tag back to your Gotta Get Goals post."

So here goes, join the fun (and track-back to here also please, I want to get to know you - even - better):
Of course I start with my two 'turtles'

Tully - LOGICal eMOTIONs (Turtle 1)

Robert Hruzek - Middle Zone Musing (Turtle 2)

Kent - Kent Blumberg (wouldn't dream of leaving him out)

Ben and Jackie - Church of the Customer Blog

Lisa Gates - Scaffolding for Writing

Marcus Goodyear - Goodword Editing

Mark McGuinness - Wishful Thinking

Jesse - Gitr's WoW Blog

Lets get South Africa involved:
Shane - Live Alchemy

Andrew - Ideate

Fred and/or Mike (you fight it out) - The Heavy Chef Project

Dutch party?
Fred - frEdSCAPEs

What are you Gotta' Get Goals? ? ?


Managing your business, managing blogs and time to manage lists

Especially that last part of the title is doing 'me head in' today, so I've just given up, dumped all lists and am writing this post instead. (Even told Liz I felt like 80 and demented this morning, midday, she sent me back a smile; so there you go: it's Friday afternoon.)

And not just some Friday afternoon, it's the last Friday of the first quarter of the year and for most businesses even the last day of the first financial quarter (not so here, tomorrow is another day).

Q1 means: gathering all financial details, generating financial reports, comparing it with financial budgets and last years financial 1st quarter (are we on schedule, are we doing better - worse and why or why not?) Especially those last two questions are important to follow up on, otherwise the figures are just that: financial figures - one more thing ticked off: financial figures done.

Kent Blumberg asks another tasks from us business people at the end of this first business quarter and a very important one also: will all those financial reports help you manage your business? And generously supplies us with 4 categories of other questions: a total of 27 additional answers to think about and write down. I'll only list the categories, shoot over to Kent's blog to find, think about or even brainstorm over the questions (in the end you might even surprise yourself with the answers)

  • Questions about you
  • Questions about your team
  • Questions about your customers
  • Questions about your business (or your part of the business)

I've printed out his list and am already ticking the boxes (will find time next week to write them down properly and add them to our normal standard quarterly management report)

If that wasn't enough to start the last Friday of the quarter with, Liz Strauss asks yet another (good) question from us: What new Friends have you met and How have you made Life easy for them? Not just one question, three questions (but fortunately and typical Liz, she gives possible answers to each one of them - but you have to read them 'over there').

  1. New Links connect blogs. New relationships connect people.
  2. New people can add dimension and depth to your thinking and ideas
  3. What new friends have you met lately? How have you made getting to know your blog easy for them?

Well, personally I have to answer those questions with: yes, yes and yes, but not as easy as it could be - have put that on my list for Q2 ;-)

Then, last but not least - and funnily enough related to question 3 on Liz's list, I promised Dawud I would look into deleting no-follow from my typepad blogs. Already got a first answer back about this subject from the friendly typepad people themselves, now all I have to do is find T I M E.

My Q1 is:
I've finished writing my 12 page booklet for our coming exhibition (my personal deadline was end of March), I've finalised our April Newsletter (my personal deadline was end of March), we've already - with one more day to go - surpassed our best ever quarter in turnover this quarter, we've already arranged our planned fixed storage facility to become even more flexible (our personal deadline was end of Q2, so way ahead of time), had 2 very interesting and filled with freely shared wisdom lunch meetings with my mentor, re-joined the most friendly BNI-chapter again, improved - I think - my blogs to become more 'interactive' and link love giving, found lots of new and interesting blogs and blog-friends, had many interesting and sometimes thought-provoking conversations with them and......

Like I said at the beginning of this post: I've given up with planning today, tomorrow is another happy Spring day. See you then.


Comments that make you change your ways

As bloggers, who have opened their blog to readers and allow comments on it, we are aware that some comments don't feel/fit well. Before we even post a post we might worry already about the kind of comments we can receive, but it doesn't prevent us from posting/blogging/web-publishing.

Today I read two different posts (well, one was an email newsletter) about the effect some comments can have on the 'way you work'.

"Death threats are not protected speech" on Kent Blumberg's blog is exactly about that subject: death threats in comments - how un-blogosphere like, how horrible, how inhuman, how stupid, how... you name it.

I agree with Kent that as blog owner (yes, that's you, me, everyone who has a blog) you have to set your own 'acceptance' level with regards to what kind of comments you rigorously delete, remove from your blog (perhaps even without making any kind of excuse to the poster of that comment: it's your blog, your ethical rules, your blog 'culture').

But it is and always will be a thin - grey - line: make sure you act on the right reason for deleting, are you just removing a comment of someone who doesn't agree with you or does it indeed violate your ethical standards?

Today I also received PetesWeekly, the email newsletter of Peter Carruthers - South African Business Adviser and founder of Business Warriors SA

His newsletter talks about receiving two emails (comments) from his readers pointing out to him that lately his letters are getting longer and longer and that in fact he's waffling.

I cannot tell you how effective these two comments have been in making me review my writing style, and seriously consider producing a tight business email.

So effective, in fact, that I totally ignored the 20 emails each week telling me how funny that week's article had been, or how it had made somebody laugh out loud, or spew their coffee, or re-look at an aspect of their business, or put something in perspective. On top of which subscriptions are rising, and unsubscriptions are falling.

Which brings me to the point of this very short weekly: whenever you face a barrage of criticism (even if it is from one person) take a step back and get some balance from the folk who are telling you that you're doing good. And then consider the 98% of the rest of the folk who don't care either way - at least not enough to comment. And then look at your resultant sales. And only then, think about changing

I can of course just end with saying I agree with him, which I do - of course - but would like to end with a link to one of my favourite 'building-block' books I read lately "Citizen marketers" and the reason why the writers talk about 1%-ers:

Why a 1% patch? The people who write blogs, record podcasts or otherwise create content as a hobby are the early adopters -- the outlaws of culture.

It's a tough world out there, especially for outlaws, it doesn't mean outlaws don't have their own rules or that they should be shot at site or be 'reformed'.


Do-ers, thinkers and dreamers (and cats)

Are we just one of the above, can we be two of them at the same time, is anyone all three?
Can you change from a do-er to a thinker? As business person do we need a dream first, before we can think of doing?

Myself, I'm known to be very organised, is that just a do-er characteristic, or does writing (in an organised way) business visions and strategy plans show my dreams and thinking traits (visionair?).

Three blog-conversations all sharing this question, each with its own ideas, thoughts, stimulating encouragements even.

Chris Cree at Success CREEation starts it off with cat herding (watch his favourite commercial, good fun): can Princes/Princesses of Execution become Visionairs?

Marcus Goodyear at Good Word Editing really 'gets' the other side of the coin: can a visionair become more of a do-er, become a better executioner with his post: Why Writers Must Dream (But Also Herd Cats)

And at Successful Blog there are dreams: Change the World, believe in a Dream (and why sometimes others believe in our dreams earlier than we ourselves dare).

All traits necessary to  enjoy life, to grow, to succeed in business (and relationships).

Interesting conversations, all three of them. Still haven't found the cat reason ;-)


Moving on - but ....

Blogging web-publishing (sorry Liz) can result in having varied and lively conversations. Sometimes you come away with new lessons learned, new tools found, new business practice understood etc. That's the richness and gift of the blogosphere as I encounter it.

Lately I have had many such conversations over at Dawud's. He's a webdesigner and shares a lot of his knowledge and thoughts with his 'readers'. Not only that, he asks questions!
One of the 'discussions' we had over there was about branding and when it would be time to re-brand your own business. Dawud himself found he had outgrown his old 'business/blog' name: Healthy WebDesign:

28 Feb 2007
Blogging, more than anything, as shown me how limiting a business name can be - if it’s not the right one. I know that simply because I have ‘Web Design’ in my business and domain names, that I’ll always be looked at as a web designer first. So, in essence, I’m poorly branded. And I want to do something about it. The question I asked was ‘How do you know when it’s time to re-brand your business?’ Well, you know when the work you do no longer fits under the umbrella of your business name. That’s one way of knowing.

22 March 2007
I’m changing the name of my site from Healthy WebDesign to Dawud Miracle @ dmiracle.com. I’ll be updating the banner in the coming days. This is a difficult, but for many reasons, a necessary move. The short of it is I’ve far outgrown just being known as a web designer. So while I’ll continue to build websites long into the future, I’m going to begin directly promoting my coaching, consulting and educational services as well. I’ll be sharing much more on these changes in the coming weeks.

Good on you Dawud, you have to 'move on' when you feel it is time to move on and when staying 'put' will stop you growing.

But...
allow me to share one tip about moving and re-branding.
Makes sure your business card, blog, website etc keeps telling 'new' people exactly what you do. I know a IT-company who re-branded their name from IT something (can't remember their exact old name) to "Liquid Knowledge" because they felt they provided more than just your average IT-solutions to their customers, not just software or hardware, but their USP was the ability to combine those two.

Only, that's all their new business card told you: Liquid Knowledge.
Eh, so you have knowledge about liquid?

You know what I mean, keep it simple, but understandable.


Dragons Den - short window for profit?

Yesterday evening Dragon's Den ended its series for the moment.

The first business person entering the Den asked for £ 200.000 to enhance/launch her online 'invisible' life-coaching service. That idea made my skin crawl, and fortunately the Dragon's send her packing. Great remark from Theo Paphitis: "As life-coach, you haven't been able to connect with any of us here, have you now?"

The last item, which - and that's a first - gained all five Dragons as investors, is a gadget (Standby Saver) that 'kills' the standby of the equipment plugged in to the devise, saving you (and the world) a lot of electricity and tons of CO2.

But I'm wondering how long a window of profitability both inventors (Peter Ensinger and David Baker) and the Dragons have. With more and more awareness of Global Warming, waste of electricity and CO2 how long will it take before Governments and the concerned public will demand manufacturers to install a simple OFF switch again  on all equipment, rendering this new gadget obsolete?

Related article: Eco-logic in the Dragons' Den


New tool, hurray!

My favourite browser is still Firefox and today it notified me there was a newer version available. Once the program restarted it brought me to the add-on page of Firefox. In the list: an online/on the spot spell checker available in English (British), did I want to install it?

What you think!!!!

So, no more typing/spelling errors in the comments I 'drop-around', and find embarrassing when (always, always after I hit the post button) I see them afterwards.

Hurray!

(edit: won't change anything of my double Dutch English phrases I'm afraid)


Perception: one egg or two?

From Lee Fowler's weekly newsletter (still trying to persuade Lee to start his own blog based on his newsletter, but alas, so I'll do the honours for him - he had some worthwhile items again this week):

Perception is reality
In your dealings with others, remember that people are going to base their perceptions on their belief systems. So, when you offer a product, a proposal, or an idea to someone, you can help swing the odds in your favour by adding a pinch of relativity to help guide his perception of it.

One of the best examples of this time-tested phenomenon was given by the legendary Elmer Wheeler, thought by many to be the world’s greatest salesman clear back in the 1940s. Wheeler said that when someone orders a malted milk at a soda fountain (both items a bit outdated today), the clerk should not ask, “Would you like an egg in your malt today, sir?” Rather, he should matter-of-factly say, “One egg or two today?”

If the clerk simply asks the customer if he would like an egg in his malt, it’s easy for him to say no. But by eliminating the no-egg option and giving the customer the choice of one egg or two, it becomes relatively easy for him to make a knee-jerk decision in favour of that same single egg he might have said no to. What becomes relatively difficult in this scenario is to say, “I don’t want any egg in my malt today.”

Trust me on this. Using relativity to help shape another person’s perceptions works. It’s a powerful tool which, when consciously applied, will almost certainly give you better results in all areas of your life.

Customer relationships
In your personal life, your most important relationships are with family and friends. In your business, they’re with your customers, every individual one of them. Every communication, every "touch" with every customer, is precious - and it behoves you to develop those relationships by finding ways to make your communications with them as personal as possible.

As direct-mail professionals have known for years, people don’t buy the item you’re selling. People sign up for your e-mail newsletter or buy your product based on your promise - expressed or implied - of what you can do for them. Personally. Fulfil that expectation and build a long-term, profitable relationship. Fail and you’ve just lost a customer.

So, your challenge as an online marketer is not only to make your communications with your customers and/or subscribers personal and timely and relevant, but also to learn how you can deliver what they want and need from you.

(David Cross)


What we normally do, wouldn't you like to know?

Last week Mindfulness Maverick made a 'mindfulness' remark during a conversation at Dawud's about "What problems Does Your Business Solve" about the 'lack' of links in this blog to our company's websites.

I do link (occasionally) to our Wood You Like websites in various post I write here, but also realised that I could do better ;-) It's the wood that buys our bread and butter.

So, new addition in the sidebar: Wood You Like our 'work' - a direct link (feed) from our FAQ blog on natural wooden flooring, so we can keep you 'posted' on what we are normally up to.

Thanks Maverick, problem solved.

(Side-note, found this handy widget on FeedBurner: Buzzboost - have feed, will travel)