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If you’ve ever read John C. Maxwell‘s book, Thinking for a Change, you may not consider how important thinking can be to your success.
I am a thinker. When I wake up, I think about what I have to do that day, and how I’m going to get it done. Sometimes I think about a movie I just watched or an encounter I had. Sometimes my imagination goes wild with a simple “what if” question.
Even though it’s been a while since I read the book, I remember his ideas about purposefully setting aside time to think, and keeping a notebook or recorder handy for those times you come up with great ideas or solutions just as you wake up or are driving.
How often have you been in a rut, personally or professionally, as you continue to do the same things over and over? What if you had some daily “think time?” What if you spent time each day thinking about possibilities to expand your horizons, to give to others, to create solutions, to find another box to think outside of?”
Innovation in business, as in any sphere, is largely the result of people who think differently than the rest of the world. People who take the time to see the picture from another angle, to consider the possibilities, to ask “what if?” are the people who change the world.
Don’t be a follower. Don’t do it how it’s always been done. Ask questions. Dream up answers. Fill your head with new ideas. Take your business and your life to the next level. As Winnie the Pooh says, “People who don’t Think probably don’t have Brains; rather, they have grey fluff that’s blown into their heads by mistake.”
Posted in Business, communication, Innovation, Uncategorized
Tagged A. A. Milne, book, change, ideas, imagination, important, innovation, John C. Maxwell, people, picture, possibilities, read, solutions, success, thinker, thinking, Winnie-the-Pooh
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Eighty-eight years ago, an Elkhart business man announced plans to build a 2000-seat theater downtown. The Lerner Theater was home to vaudeville acts, big band concerts, and musical theater for four years before being purchased by Warner as a movie house. The theater changed hands several times before standing vacant in 1987 after the death of its owner.
The city purchased the property from the widow and made plans to use the theater as a venue for performing arts, both visiting and local. In 2008, a cooperative effort of the city and community donations embarked on a multi-million dollar project to renovate the theatre and offer conference and banquet space downtown.
The historic Lerner Theater is scheduled for a grand re-opening in a few weeks. I was able to get a sneak preview and the change is fantastic. Prior to the renovation, everything had been covered with black paint, with musty seats and peeling wallpaper. It now holds the hope of exciting productions, out-of-town visitors, and a cultural center in a struggling downtown.
The lesson? Not everything that is old and deteriorated needs to be thrown away or destroyed. In this same city an old school became a community center, complete with a refurbished playground. Not only is the history and memories of the building preserved, but the waste of materials and labor involved in destruction and new construction is avoided.
As you budget for your business, you could easily overspend on the newest technology, the latest conferences, and the best furniture. New isn’t always better. There is something to be said for preserving a connection to our past to make our vision for the future clearer. There is something about spending your money on the things that are most important, not the newest or the shiniest or the most impressive.
Smart business owners make the most of every opportunity, even when they may seem deteriorated or useless to the rest of the world. With attention and effort, they may become the grandest showcases of all.
Posted in Budget, Business
Tagged Arts, budget, city, Elkhart, history, hope, memories, opportunity, preserve, renovate, Theaters, Theatre, Venues, vision
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Sometimes, an important business meeting falls on the same day you have a big fight with your spouse. Or a big networking event comes the day after you were up half the night studying. At times, you just don’t wanna. You’re tired, you’re upset, and you just don’t feel like smiling and schmoozing.
Do it anyway. With enthusiasm. Why? Because you can’t let your emotions rule your life. Yes, there’s something to be said for being yourself, but this isn’t a question of integrity. This is putting your best self forward in the best interest of you and your business. So you smile and engage others. In fact, you focus on what others are doing and saying, and take the focus off yourself.
Do you know what usually happens? If you let go of that anger, or sadness, or fatigue for just a moment, it temporarily fades. In fact, after some serious brainstorming or socializing with great people, those problems may not seem as overwhelming as they were before.
Besides that, you still get all the benefits of being part of a big decision at that meeting, or making that contact that will take your business to the next level. If you had decided to drop out, either physically or mentally, you might have missed it.
Athletes call it “game face.” When they are on the court or the field, they are focusing on the strategy and movement of the game. When they are involved in the heat of the game, they are just an athlete. They are not a parent or a car lover or a philanthropist. They are in the moment, pushing their minds and bodies to excel.
So the next time you have a business event that you are dreading, fake it till you make it. Put on your game face and make the most of every opportunity.
- Fake It ‘Till you Make It (davidgrobertson.wordpress.com)
Posted in Business, communication, networking
Tagged Action, brainstorming, Business, contact, decision, engage, enthusiasm, excel, focus, Games, integrity, meeting, opportunity, strategy
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I found the buzz word: virtual assistant.
I was at a networking meeting, and one of the attendees nearly jumped out of his chair when I compared myself to a virtual assistant (with a specialty in writing). “That’s really big now,” he said.
It should be. In today’s economy, businesses should seek creative ways to be lean and efficient. Imagine an employee for whom you don’t have to pay taxes or provide benefits, and you don’t have to guarantee a certain amount of hours or worry about unemployment benefits. You don’t even have to provide an office space or equipment.
This employee can contract with you on a per project basis, or be available at set hours if you wish. You contact them by phone or email to communicate your needs. He or she can take customer service calls, set up travel arrangements, edit correspondence, update databases, assemble mailings, create brochures… almost anything someone affixed to a cubicle can do- except gossip at the water cooler.
Of course, you can’t replace your receptionist or sales clerk with a virtual assistant. Some businesses thrive by providing a unique experience to people as they walk through the door. With some creative outsourcing, however, you are bound to find some ways to save money without sacrificing quality of service.
Suppose you want to try this VA thing. Where do you find one?
Believe it or not, there are a lot of people who are unemployed or underemployed or who need a little extra income, but can’t commit to a full-time job. From experience, many are college-educated mothers who have graduated from full-time mom when their kids started school and are seeking an outlet for their time and talents.
With a little research, through your social and online networks, you may be able to find some of these people who are already established in business or who would be willing to work with you. A bonus to hiring a VA is that he or she doesn’t have to live close by. If someone has the proper credentials, they can live across the country (or even the world) and still write, type, or do data entry on behalf of your business.
Build your business and keep America working. Hire a VA today!
Posted in editing, networking, referrals
Tagged Business, Business Services, creative, credentials, edit, efficient, employee, equipment, lean, mothers, networking, office, Office Services, outsourcing, project, research, Secretarial Services and Virtual Assistants, Virtual assistance, Virtual assistant
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I suppose I was in a nit-picky mood, but it was one of those days when spelling errors kept jumping out at me.
First, I was researching event planners and came across a site based in India that had a column titled “Tit-Bits.” I am sure that the writer intended tidbits, “choice morsels,” but the image of “tit bits” is a little disturbing. After doing some research, I found that “titbits” is an acceptable substitute for tidbits, but also the name of a closed men’s magazine. I like the company by the same name that provides breast prostheses for cancer patients.
Then, I received an email from someone who said they enjoyed traveling and seeing wildlife like “grisly bears.” Now, if the bear bites off a piece of your leg, that would be grisly, but the species of brown bear common in the Rocky Mountains is “Grizzly.” According to Discovery, you should definitely stay away from a mama Grizzly and her cubs.
One of my favorite spelling errors was about a month ago when I was reviewing minutes from a board meeting. Committees were to review their “rolls and responsibilities.” I guess that meant someone was bringing doughnuts!
Everyone makes spelling and grammar errors from time to time, and some folks, knowingly or unknowingly, leave these errors on their websites, their brochures, and in their newsletters. When I get an email from a business with these errors, I rarely read further. I believe a truly professional business will take the time to communicate professionally. It’s those emails with poor grammar and spelling that are usually a scam by a non-English speaker.
If your strength is in numbers and business, you may need help with written communications. That’s where a freelance writer or editor can help you with your collateral and correspondence. At the very least, if you’re prone to confusing “they’re” and “their” or the spelling of “believe” and “conceive”… have someone look over your work. You’ll make a better impression to your future clients.
Posted in communication, editing, words, writing
Tagged communications, editor, email, errors, grammar, Grizzly bear, impression, Spelling, strength, work, writer
Image by Kentishman via Flickr
If you network with the right people, they will ask you, “What kinds of leads can I send your way? Who is your ideal client?”
I am fortunate to have as a client a marketing savvy person who is contacting each of his clients to ask, “how can I refer you?” As philanthropic as we like to see ourselves, we tend to give about as much as we receive. By taking the first step, and asking his clients to provide specific target clients as well as a nutshell of their businesses, he is offering to give referrals. He is giving first, knowing that it is human nature to reciprocate. Theoretically, he will receive more referrals just by asking the question.
A secondary benefit of having clients answer questions about their business and clientele is that the client has a better understanding of what they do and why they’re doing it. Everyone needs the standard “elevator speech” when someone asks, “what do you do?” Clarifying your understanding of your market and business leads to a better elevator speech. Lawyers don’t just try cases, they resolve disputes. Mechanics don’t just fix cars, they offer transportation solutions. It’s not a PC way of defining your business to use impressive words, it’s connecting with potential clients on a level that matters to them. I don’t care about how a car works, but I do care when mine doesn’t!
In a roundabout way, I am recommending that you A) Network like there’s no tomorrow, B) Ask for and offer referrals whenever possible, and C) Know your business and how to present it. These three things are interwoven and provide a strong foundation to build your business.
Posted in communication, marketing, networking, referrals
Tagged Business, Business and Economy, client, Elevator pitch, give, leads, marketing, Marketing and Advertising, network, people, Question, referrals, Small business, target