‘Remember in our youth the standard return-to-school “What I Did on My Summer Vacation” essay? This summer has given me several lessons that have value for you today.
The story begins with a local police officer knocking on my door at 9:00 one night, asking me about my brother, Billy. Of course, you know what happens next–I find out that Billy died in a motorcycle accident a few hours earlier. He was 57, divorced, with no children. He was a floor layer, a regular ordinary guy. Like you and your team members.
First lesson: we are in a business of relationships. Don’t let corporate purchasing and hard bid tactics make you forget this. While price is part of the purchase consideration, the quality of your work and the relationships you foster with your clients, customers, and co-workers are paramount. I first realized this as word about Billy spread through the grapevine and I received numerous calls, emails, and cards of condolence from across the country. These were unexpected and much appreciated.
I saw it again at his wake. Having worked his trade in the New York area for over 30 years, my brother was well-known. On that Memorial Day weekend, we were visited by many of his associates. Not just tile guys, but the Foreman from the Laborers, and a superintendent from a General Contractor, to name a few. There were even guys who had worked with our father in the business-and some even remembered when I had helped out on a few jobs, way back when! Connections between people-that’s what it’s about.
Next lesson: how is your health? Construction is hard work, yeah. But it isn’t a substitute for quality exercise and eating. Billy wasn’t in bad shape, but he wasn’t in good shape, either. He loved to eat; cooking was his hobby. He didn’t exercise. And he had coronary artery disease. In fact, he may have had a health crisis that triggered the crash. We don’t know for sure. But we do know that he was not taking care of himself and now, he’s gone. Are you taking care of yourself? (If not for yourself, then for those who love you.)
“Divorced with no kids” sounds like an easy estate to deal with, right? Well, it would be if
- there had been a will (there wasn’t)
- there had been up-to-date beneficiaries on his life insurance policy (his ex-wife is still listed, although that wasn’t his wish; he just “never got around to” changing beneficiaries even though they’d been divorced for several years), and
- all his records had been kept in one place (not even close).
Looking through files and folders is never easy, but having to weed through pay stubs from 1986 makes the process even harder. I realized that my finances and directives are in a similar state of disorganization. I am currently creating what I call the Red Envelope, where all of that information is being placed to make the process easier for whoever needs to deal with it. We need to do this for the benefit of those around us. If you are a business owner or the head of a household, this becomes even more important.
By now, you may be fed up with my personal ramblings. But remember what my brother did for a living. He was a regular guy, he was just like you and the guys who work for you and with you. I am hoping you can learn from him so your team is better off.
Do you know which scrap metal pays the most? Well, if you know the price, then you can get a handsome price for it. When people realize the value of a few specific metals, then they put all their concentration in collecting those metals. However, you must not just look for particulars. The best is to take them all and get something magical out of the one you thought was less important. So, the next time you find people discriminating scraps, you will understand how much money they are leaving in the curb just like that. Here is an unofficial list of the scrap that can fetch you money. It will give you an idea on what kinds of scrap you should sell.
3. Water Heaters
5. Batteries of all kinds
6. Air Conditioner
7. Lawn Mowers
8. Tire and basketball rims
9. Pet cages
11. Ironing boards
12. Strollers and Shovels
Other items from which you can extract metals include: Music instruments, metal drums, television, computer, screws, nails and bolts and so on. From the following list you can understand that there is money even in the small things. Now that you know, you need to find places where scrap is easily available. The street is waiting for you, so collect as much as you can.
The few places where you can find scrap:
1. Kitchen – An excellent source indeed! Look for those old cooking pans, spoons, cookie sheets, copper pots and the likes.
2. Living Room – Television, lamp bases, window frames – aren’t these some of the common things that we see in a living room?
3. Bathroom – This room too has a number of things like dryers, washers, plumbing pipes and etcetera. If you like to deck up your bathroom, then you must also have a nice collection of bathroom fixtures. These can definitely yield a fair price.
4. Garden and Attic – Both these places are a storehouse of junk and you never know how much money they can bring forth. Iron railing, swing sets, rusty metal table, old metal chair, broken appliances, ornaments and other accessories which you do not use any longer.
5. Garage – Last but not the least is the garage. You can refer the garage of your house as the treasure trove of scrap metal. There are a number of things in these places that are in one word “precious” in monetary terms.
What are you waiting for? Get your hands dirty now and strike a good scrap deal at a nearby junkyard!
For your business to be successful, it has to include an ongoing dialog between you and your clients.
Unless your business, your offerings, and your processes are informed by what your clients want, you end up, eventually, with no business at all.
More often than not, this is a matter of following the breadcrumbs. What you offer is snapped up by multiple clients right away = what they want. What you offer just lies there like an empty glove = not what they want.
If it’s the latter, then you either change what you offer, or you find new people to offer it to.
There is much to be learned too in casual conversations with clients. You get to be a detective, listening closely, and seeking out clues for what they are looking for. You probe and question to find out more.
Sometimes it’s an experiment. If you’re offering something really new and innovative, finding out whether it’s something your clients want is a matter of running a pilot, getting feedback, modifying, and offering it again.
One avenue for finding out what clients want is seriously underutilized. This method seems to be mysterious for many business owners. They sometimes don’t even think of it. Or they think of it, and dismiss it.
The mysterious method? Ask!
Directly approaching your clients to ask for what they want is a valuable adjunct to all the breadcrumb following, clue hunting, and incidental conversations that can bring you necessary information.
This is where social media can come in really handy. If you have a tribe that follows you, you can put it out there on Facebook or Twitter. It’s a quick way to get lots of feedback in a short time.
Got an email list? Send out a request for feedback on a specific question.
If you want direct feedback on an ongoing basis, conduct surveys. In my consulting business, I sent out a short survey after every project. That way, I could tweak my approach and offerings before they got too far off track.
Surveys are best approached the same way you approach marketing: from the client’s point of view. Ask about the client’s experience of both what you delivered and how. If anything was less than outstanding, what was it and how could it have been better?
Surveys are also a chance to explore what else the client might need. What else could be offered?
Were they happy enough to refer you to someone else? If so, take names: find out who they would recommend you too, and contact the referral, if you have their permission.
It’s important that clients know that you’re doing something with all this information they’re providing. You can respond directly to the client and tell them how you’re addressing their concerns.
Some entrepreneurs are afraid to ask outright. They prefer to take the behind-the-scenes approach. It’s almost as if by asking up front, they are afraid they are admitting that something is wrong.
That kind of fear does not serve you, or your clients. You need to know what your clients are thinking and feeling about your business.
On large projects, ask at the midpoint how things are going. With what you learn, you can adjust and carry on.
This kind of connection can be very affirming for your relationship with your client. They’ll know that you really want to hear from them. It encourages them to say more.
No one is perfect, and there is always room for improvement. If you take that approach, improvement on an ongoing basis, you’ll always get better. You’ll always have more to offer. And your clients will thank you for it.
This mantra helps: progress, not perfection.
One important thing to remember: you always have the final say in whether or not you act on the feedback. It’s part of the dialog. You ask, you get feedback, you discern what’s right for you and your business, and you take action. Then the conversation starts again.
Ask what you need to know. It’s a good idea.
You will spend more waking hours in your place of work than your home almost all your life. It might sound a bit depressing, but we work so we can maintain the lifestyles we want, and have the freedom to travel and buy things and treat our loved ones in our free time. And all in all we think it’s probably worth it. If your office environment is a negative one though, it can feel like you’re spending a lot more than 80 days a year at that desk.
You employer should make sure you’re comfortable at all times. That means making sure your work station is set up correctly, and you have all the equipment that you need in order to do your job, whether that’s a biro or a big expensive, multi-screen computer.
Many employers (and even their employees) don’t consider how much their environment will affect their working day. Many offices have only a few windows, and daylight helps give employees a point of focus away from their desk. You should be looking away and getting up and around for 5 minutes for every hour that you’re at work. Office blinds can make a massive impact into your employees focus.
When you’re looking at a screen, glare is your worst enemy. It’s why there’s a lack of windows in so many businesses, and why there is so much need for screens. Glare can cause eye strain and long term sight problems. In the short term your employees might suffer regular headaches and a feeling of nausea. If your workers can’t see the work they’re meant to be doing, how are they supposed to get on with it?
The solution is simple. Adjustable office blinds can be used to let in sunlight to the room in general while minimizing direct light on screens.
Many businesses now opt to use air conditioning unities. This is because a giant 88% of all employees feel they work better when temperature is regulated. Sun shining in, or heat escaping from single glazed window panes can make your staff uncomfortable, and it can negate the good work of your technology. Simple window coverings will minimize the outside influences of the weather, perfect for midwinter and the height of summer.
Natural light helps staff work. But, because of the copious problems it can cause many businesses are choosing spaces which lack this basic human need. A lack of natural light can cause feelings similar to clinical depression. Covering windows with frosted film also compromises light. Using adjustable office blinds allows some light to come in, while minimizing the problems caused, in other words they are the perfect compromise.
When you want to take your client for dining out, make sure that they are considered in the final selection. If they have any allergic reaction, you must allow for them by going to places where they will not be left with a scenario that makes them unpleasant. Showing that you care about their desires can make for a wonderful first impact. It could also be a respectful reaffirmation of why they do business with you to begin with you, which is because you have their best interests at heart.
If you say that you are going to be at the restaurant at a particular time, get there early. If you arrive before they do, you can take the extra time to make it certain that you are not located someone noisy or near a high-traffic area so that you talk business and hear each other without disturbances.
Based upon the restaurant, paying the bill in advance could be a good strategy. If the customer sees the bill, they may feel a little bit nervous about the prices. You could have the staff members run your card and add a tip percentage just before your client arrives or if you can step away mid-meal. This can leave you with the choice to get the check just before you leave or have them mail it to you. These options will all depend on where you eat, though.
As it comes time to order items, keep your intake somewhat balanced with that of your client. This means ordering similar items and eating at an equivalent pace. Follow your client’s lead is the way to go with food orders and with light drinking. Things could get uncomfortable if you finish your plate before they do.
Be well-mannered to wait of staff. If something comes to your table that isn’t that great, do not get upset or abusive towards the staff. Showing condescension and rudeness can show the client that this is how it is to work with you.
Adding some small talk in with the business talk while you eat can help you get to know or reconnect with each other individually. They will be also examining to see if you dominate small talk or if you listen well. Any major business talk is best reserved for the main course where wait staff tend to interrupt less.
Finally, remember the important parts of your dinner and accomplish any requests your client made during the dinner. Nothing will hurt you and your business more than showing that you cannot follow through with promises and requests.
Connecting with clients is essential to a home business, and dinner is one of the best ways to do this. Take the time to make it an enjoyable experience for you both to build a better working relationship.
Multi-million marketing budgets probably won’t do a business any harm, but for a small business which is just finding its feet it’s completely unnecessary. There’s plenty of ways of making your modest budget go that bit further, to maximize your potential revenue and ensure that you’re not getting lost in a sea of competitors.
What you need is big budget results on a small budget.
If it works, stick to it
Trial and error isn’t always advisable when it comes to business, but with marketing it often is. Trying lots of different techniques on a small scale will help you clarify which methods work best for your particular industry. Usually these will vary from business to business, but there are lots of more general concepts which can be used in all sorts of industries.
Make sure you inquire how your leads have come across your business. This will help you identify whether your printed pens or your website is working hardest for you. There’s no need to continually trial new, fad marketing styles. These will usually only work for a very short time (and by the time you’ve heard about it, it could well already have run its course).
What we’re saying is don’t write off the traditional physical marketing techniques like brochures and printed pens.
Market for your business
It might sound obvious, but what works for huge brands categorically will not work for your small café in the center of Leeds. Big brands can get away with all sorts that won’t work from small and local businesses.
Keep things simple, and always keep your customers at the front of your mind. Don’t use language which they won’t understand, or try and over-complicate your product or service. Simple, easy to understand concepts sell best because people don’t feel as if you’re trying to manipulate or trick them with language.
If you have several products, produce a brochure for each to keep things very simple.
When you attend trade shows or simply when you’re signing contracts, a printed pen is great to have on hand. These are useful resources which all of us will use at least once a day. It means that your key information will always be on hand. If nothing else you should include your logo, your website address, and your telephone number.
Printed pens are incredible value for money, as they have such longevity.
Custom IDs play a very important role in many settings. They could be used to identify people in conferences, used as entry cards in offices and also to reassure employees of their positions in a company.
Traditionally, many companies made their ID cards in the same format, only making very few changes on the names and logos. However, with the modern technology and invocation, it is possible to come up with custom ID cards. These types of cards are easily created using desktop publishing tools, and anyone can create them.
What To Consider When Making Custom Ids
Whether you choose to create the custom IDs on your own or engage a professional company, you must consider the following factors.
– The purpose
A custom ID meant for an event cannot be designed in the same way as the one meant for an employee. The design and the details to include will always differ. For a seminar, you may need to include: the attendant’s name, the name of the event, location of the event, the affiliation of the attendant with the company holding the seminar and the dates.
An employees ID cards should have the name of the employee, their passport sized photo, their department, company logo and their position in a company. Essentially, the details to include in the ID should be dependent on the purpose of the card.
It is important to consider a sizeable ID card where all the details should fit in, and be legible to everyone. People must never struggle to read what is written on the ID. However, the size should never be too big and cumbersome to the user.
– Tastes and preferences
The graphics and the shapes used to make custom ID cards should be attractive; nobody wants to carry along an ID unattractive. For a company ID, it is important to find the type that reflects the profession and the theme in an office. An employee should feel proud to produce this ID in any place. An event’s ID should also reflect the events’ theme.
It is possible to come up with custom ID cards that are affordable, yet of good quality. Many designers offer a discounted rate for bulk ID printing. Still, by printing the IDs on your own, it will be possible to save on some costs. You must however ensure that the paper material used is of good quality, and can last for long- especially when it comes to employee’s IDS.
Presentations are an inherent part of today’s workplace… business presentations, public speaking and general communication. All involve formal and informal levels and ultimately impact your career progression. So here is a 9 step process for how you can improve your persuasion skills and so become a more effective persuader.
- Understand the issues faced by your audience. It is often said that a busy person (and who isn’t busy these days?) can only deal with 5 topics at any one time. If you are going to get air time with busy people you need to make a connection from the very beginning with what is currently on their mind. So you need to link the subject matter of your presentation to one of these key items which means you need to research your audience.
- Decide what kind of presentation it is. Is your presentation a pitch for something (such as resources for a project, agreement to go ahead with something or even a pay rise), is it informing the audience or is it to build goodwill (for example at a supplier event)? Is it a formal presentation in front of many people, an informal presentation to a few or even a one-to-one conversation with someone?
- Decide your objectives. What is it you want as a result of the presentation? Do you want people to leave feeling enthused for your project? Do you want commitment to give your project money? You need to decide what you want before you design your presentation.
- Create a “hook”. This is a vital part of your presentation. You need to grab your audience’s attention from the very beginning. For example, Robert Cialdini has found that the most absorbing presentations and articles start with a mystery. The presentation then engages the audience as they unravel the mystery together.
- Create your memorable opening. This is closely linked to the hook. In their book “Made to Stick” Chip and Dan Heath tell the story of someone pitching to venture capitalists for investment in developing a new laptop computer. He started by throwing onto the table a plastic folder and declaring that this was his new laptop. Clearly it wasn’t but it started a discussion about how a laptop could be made so thin and small.
- Craft your action focused ending. Too many presentations follow the formula “tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them”. This might work if your objective is to inform the audience. For every other type of presentation it is insufficient. What you want is action of some kind so finish with what you want them to do – a “takeaway” list of actions.
- Use graphics for impact. Most people respond better to images than to text. Think about all of the slide shows you have had to sit through that are crammed full of text and bullet points. Images have more impact as long as they are relevant to the topic and are unique. Avoid stock photographs that bear no relation to the point you are trying to get across.
- Pull it all together into a coherent story. Do not underestimate the power of a story. We are conditioned from a very young age to engage with and respond to stories. Don’t get “cute” but do have a story that unfolds with a well-crafted opening, middle and end.
- Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. As a golfer once told me, amateurs practice until they get it right – professionals practice until they can’t get it wrong.
How much flexibility do you have in your business?
One of the biggest advantages of the Information Marketing business is that it truly is a business you can do from anywhere.
Sometimes things happen and you have to be away from your business for periods of time. Sometimes, events come up that require you to be away unexpectedly… even when you have appointments on my calendar, and it’s great to have the flexibility to be able to go handle situations or to support a family member, and not miss a beat in your business.
And, if you can do that without rescheduling a bunch of things because you can do business with a phone and a laptop. Or an iPad or some other kind of tablet or device like that.
You don’t have to miss coaching and consulting clients calls. Whether you have an information marketing business or you have a brick and mortar business, you should think about whether or not you have your business set up in a way that allows you to do things in your life as they happen and as they come up, that you want to be doing. That’s why you opened your own business, right?
You wanted freedom, You wanted to make more money – or at least have some control over it, you wanted the time freedom and do the things you want to do.
So, if you’re missing out on things with your kids, or things with your spouse or partner because of your business – and it’s happening on a regular basis, you might want to think about how you have things set up in your business.
You don’t need to get a new business, or be in the information business (but it’s a great adjunct and it’s a great lifestyle business). How can you make your business meet your lifestyle?
Have you ever been told you live to work? Most people work to live.
How much flexibility do you currently have in your life and business? How much would you like to have in your life, to be able to do more fun things, to be able to travel, or own another home or buy an RV or jewelry, or more time with your kids?
It doesn’t have to be about things, because in the long run, it’s not the things that are important, it’s the time that you get and the time freedom you have.
A chemical search engine is of immense use if you regularly need information on chemicals. If your line of work or study involves the use of many chemicals then you will definitely need accurate information on a number of different chemicals. There exist many databases of chemicals that include all relevant data about chemicals; they have search engines which enable you to extract useful information from them. If you have the CAS No. of any particular chemical then you can use the database to identify it correctly and get all available information about it.
Be sure to choose the right chemical database and search engine that has the following features:
1. Comprehensive data: The database should contain all necessary data on every known chemical. It should have high quality information which is indexed correctly and updated very often, and is assembled by a team of scientists. The best databases are recognized by reputed organizations in this field, both in the private and public sector. They can have large numbers of entries divided among organic and inorganic chemicals.
2. Depth of data: CAS records contain a lot of data such as chemical names, formulas, structural diagrams etc. Certain databases give out a lot more information about others and you will have to choose one based upon the depth of data you require.
3. Ease of use: The search engine should enable you to browse the database by category or name, depending on which one is more convenient for you. Similarity searching is also very important. It should also make use of advanced technologies that enable accurate results to be obtained as early as possible.
4. Affordable: Search engines rarely offer data free of charge, especially if the information is of very high quality. However, it’s a good idea to locate one that offers results at reasonably low prices. This will enable you to keep your overall costs down and is a very important factor if you need to use it on a regular basis.
5. Quick: The search engine should be able to provide answers within the shortest possible time, often no more than a few seconds, ensuring that work can proceed with as few interruptions as possible.
Since chemical search engines generally require you to set up an account before you can access the data and charge you for their services, it’s a good idea to do the necessary research before selecting one to use.