Archive for ◊ January, 2009 ◊

• Saturday, January 24th, 2009

Are you a Planner or a Doer?  I have to admit to being a Planner.  I love to make lists, thinking of all these great things that I will do.  I break down the big tasks into smaller ones to be done each day, just like I’m supposed to.  But why do those smaller tasks not get done?  When the day is done, most of the things I had wanted to get done are still left unchecked.

In my case, it’s hard to say whether I’m planning too many tasks into a certain time period or simply not using my time to its best advantage.  I suspect it’s a little of both.  When planning out my days, I know which tasks I want to complete by the end of the week, so I spread out necessary tasks accordingly.  Unfortunately, completing my list of tasks in a given week if often wishful thinking.  In order to get them done on paper, I overload each day with work.  I could probably get the work done if nothing else came up.  Yeah, right, how often does that happen??  But since I work in a business instead of a bubble, my days are full of interruptions, constantly changing priorities, and new work to get on the schedule.  Obviously, those unplanned events need to be planned for.  Just expect them to happen and cut back on the time you expect to have for completing planned tasks.

I know I also have an issue with time management.  I do all the right things as far as creating a to-do list, prioritizing what needs to be done, and actually working on my list.  But I’m easily distracted, frequently changing priorities without valid reasons (“If I don’t do this now, I’ll forget about it later!”), and, I admit, just don’t feel like doing a particular task sometimes.  Yes, I’m guilty!  I definitely need to get over that one.  Not feeling like doing something is NOT an excuse for not getting the job done!  Neither is it an excuse for changing priorities mid-stream.

So, my lessons learned:
1) Plan for less time than expected to be able to devote to getting work done during the day.  Simply expect the unexpected.
2) Plan fewer tasks in a day so you’re sure they will get accomplished, regardless of what goes awry.
3) Stay focused on the planned to-do list.  Ruthlessly rein in the temptation to drift into another related task which is not on the list.
4) Maintain priorities unless you have good reason to change them (besides “I don’t feel like it.”)
5) Put your feelings aside and just GET IT DONE!

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• Monday, January 19th, 2009

So many home-based business options exist that it can be hard to choose.  The first decision needs to be whether the opportunity aligns with your passion.  What is your passion? Decide that before moving forward.  Then, find a company in line with your passion so that you will talk about it naturally to everyone you meet.

Most home-based businesses fall into Health and Wellness, Home Products, or Services.  Health & Wellness can be further broken down into Supplements (think Waiora, Juice Plus, Herbalife, Berry Tree) and Skin Care/Cosmetics (think Avon, Mary Kay, Arbonne), among others.

Pros for Health and Wellness:

  1. Given the current health crisis in the U.S., everyone needs to think about getting healthier.
  2. With society’s emphasis on outer beauty, many people are willing to spend big bucks on anti-aging formulas and quality cosmetics to cover up those wrinkles.
  3. Health and Wellness products might be marketed to both personal consumers as well as health professionals.

Cons of Health & Wellness:

  1. Most people don’t want to hear about their mortality. No one wants to admit that they aren’t healthy or that they’re going to be the one of the 1-in-2 people to get cancer.
  2. Although everyone wants to look younger, they may not believe product claims or they may not be willing to pay the additional cost for high quality cosmetics or supplements.
  3. Many people dismiss any health product as “just another juice,” regardless of how great and wonderful the latest product is.

Home Products typically fall within Kitchen Products (think Tupperware, Pampered Chef) and Home Décor (think Southern Living, Longaberger (, Home & Garden).

Pros for Home Products:

  1. Home Parties are fun to do for very social people. Just start booking parties and bucks start rolling in.
  2. You can buy the products for yourself at wholesale prices.

Cons for Home Products:

  1. In this economy, cute home products are likely to end up on the discretionary spending chopping block.
  2. Without a steady stream of home parties, your customer stream may dry up.
  3. Your market is typically limited to personal consumers, not businesses.

Service companies include Sent Out Cards, Ignite, and Prepaid Legal, among others. For service companies, you need to determine if the service is viable and whether or not it has sufficient marketing options.  Is this a service which would appeal to just regular consumers or to businesses as well?  Is this a service that enough people would want or need?

Pros for Service Companies:

  1. No inventory to worry about. Customers typically order and manage the service online.
  2. In today’s busy society, people will often spend money on convenience services in order to save time.

Questions to ask for all companies:

  1. What is the quality of the product/service? Do you/would you use it? Do you believe in it? You don’t want to associate yourself with a sub-par product or service.
  2. Determine if the company emphasizes the product/service or recruiting. The product/service should be strong enough to be sold without the business opportunity. If the company emphasizes recruiting over the product, think very hard about the opportunity.
  3. What is the market for the product/service? Can you target both individual consumers as well as businesses? The wider the market, the better for your new business.
  4. Examine the compensation plan. Is there a realistic way for you to start making money early as well as making more long term? Can you make money working part-time as well as full-time?
  5. How do you advance in the company? Will your efforts be rewarded?

Lots to think about, but you’ll benefit by doing some research before taking the plunge into a new business.  Learn the critical points about product/service, company, and the team you’ll be joining.  Learn to trust your instinct.

• Sunday, January 18th, 2009

Contrary to what some believe, a home-based business is neither a scam nor a means to instant wealth.  Although some may be shady, most opportunities are legitimate money-making ventures IF you work them like a job – every day, consistently, persistently.

The perks of a home-based business are plentiful – work on your own schedule, five second commute, be your own boss, business tax deductions, no one looking over your shoulder.  The list could go on.

However, building a successful home-based business takes discipline, consistency, persistence, self-motivation, teachability, and lots of hard work.

  • Do you have the discipline to work your business activities day after day, even when you don’t “feel” like it?  Do you have the discipline to schedule your work activities around your family schedule so there’s time for both?  Do you have the discipline to make arrangements for your family when you MUST accomplish a work activity (like a phone call)?
  • Are you willing to repeat the same activities time after time consistently, always believing that the next activity will make a difference?  Will you consistently perform your work activities every day, regardless of what other priorities may be pulling you in different directions?
  • Do you have the persistence to get through the No’s in order to find the Yeses?  Do you have the persistence to learn new techniques until you find what works for you?
  • Are you motivated enough (do you have a strong enough Why?) to keep at it, day in and day out, for at least a year to see what can happen?  Most opportunities take at least two to three years to start showing significant results.  If you throw in the towel after three months, you’ll never know what you may have missed.  But do you have the motivation to keep going against the tide?
  • Are you teachable?  Are you willing to learn from others who want to help you succeed?  While creative thinking is an asset, reinventing the wheel is probably not.
  • Are you willing to put in the time, energy, and work to make your business successful?

It’s not for everyone, but the rewards of a home-based business are great for those who stick with it.

• Saturday, January 17th, 2009

Home-based businesses come in many forms. 

One type of home-based business is when you simply run a business, using your existing skills, from your home.  Examples include a home-based hairdresser, a home-based day care center, or a web designer working from home.  In this type of business, you can probably set your own hours and be your own boss.  The downside is that if you don’t work, you don’t get paid.  You also have to consider all of the issues involved with a business – sales, marketing, financials, possibly employees.  It’s not just you and your skill anymore. Much like a regular job, you exchange time for money.  The upside of running a business is that you can potentially expand, hiring people to do the work, handle the books, deal with the headaches.  Then, you only have to manage your well-oiled machine, which requires leadership and superior management skills to succeed.

Another way to make money from home is as a virtual body.  Examples include a telemarketer based at home, a virtual assistant working for an executive through the internet, or a researcher working from home on a project.  This type of job typically has less flexibility because you’re working for someone else; you just happen to do your work at home.  This type of job is not a business at all, but a JOB.  The upside is that you can work from home in your fuzzy slippers.  The downside is that there’s little upward mobility or expansion.  Just like a regular job, you’re exchanging time for money.

Another type of home-based business is joining a company, usually in a sales capacity, to market products or services by word of mouth.  This type of business might be known as Direct Sales, Network Marketing, or Multilevel Marketing.  You sell products or services and also let others know of the potential business opportunity available by joining your team, training them to do the same things you do.  Typically, these companies offer very high quality products.  Many, many well-known companies market and distribute products and services via this method.  Well known ones include Tupperware, Mary Kay, and Herbalife.  Many of these companies are excellent business opportunities; some of them are not; do your research.  This type of business typically offers the benefits of a flexible schedule and being your own boss, just like other businesses.

A significant benefit offered by network marketing companies which is not offered by other business models is the ability to build residual income by building a team.  Once you build a team, you begin earning money from the efforts of your team as well as your own.  The larger your team, the greater percentage of your income comes from your team’s efforts rather than your own.  This concept is called leverage.  You leverage the efforts of your team for increased income without the need to manage an increased infrastructure.

Another significant benefit is team work.  Although all compensation plans differ, most of them are structured to foster team work. Your upline benefits by helping you be successful.  The perfect win-win.  You know that you’re in business for yourself, but not by yourself.  You still make the ultimate decision of doing the work or not, but you know that someone is there to guide and encourage you if you want to be successful.

You need to decide for yourself which business model would work best for you.  What skills do you bring to the table and how would they serve you best?  Think about it before rushing into a decision.

Category: General  | Tags:  | 2 Comments
• Friday, January 16th, 2009

Dripping is the process of making repeated contacts with a client or prospect to ensure they keep you in mind. Every once in a while – perhaps once a month or once every two months – you might give them a call, send them an e-mail, or send them a handwritten note in the mail. The best way to “drip” on someone is through an automated tool so it’s taken care of without your intervention (except for the phone calls, of course).

Automated tools enable you to set up a follow-up campaign which specifies which message is sent at which time. Most people are familiar with e-mail marketing services which provide this service. It’s a very easy way to stay in regular, predictable contact with prospects and clients.

The problem with e-mail is that we get so much of it. We have to screen viciously to delete anything extraneous, which is what your prospects are doing. Depending on your relationship with them, they may delete your e-mail as SPAM. Or, worse, perhaps your e-mail doesn’t get through to them all because it gets caught in their Junk or SPAM folder before they even see it. That has happened with several of my legitimate personal e-mails to friends.

Regular mail is a different story. It always gets delivered and there’s no Junk or SPAM folder on the side of the mailbox for the mailman to put envelopes in. Only 3% of all the regular mail we receive is personal. How do you feel when you see a handwritten envelope addressed to you? Pretty excited, I bet. That might be the first thing you open. I like to save it until last, kind of like dessert, so I can savor it after going through all the junk.

Send Out Cards provides a unique service that allows you to “drip” on clients and prospects with greeting cards or postcards. You can set up a follow-up campaign, just like with an e-mail marketing service, but your contacts receive postcards or greeting cards in the regular mail, right on time, with your personal message. Even written in your handwriting, with your signatures, possibly even with your own picture included. All of this service right from your computer. No cards to buy, stamps to stock, or envelopes to stuff. The company takes care of all of that hassle so you can concentrate on who to send your next card to.

Happy Business Building!

• Saturday, January 10th, 2009

I have to admit that I’ve had it all wrong.  I, and I suspect most business owners in attendance at networking events, go to networking events in hopes of making connections which would result in more business for me.  After all, why else would I be there?  I went with the intention of listening to various people and trying to figure out how my business might help them be more successful.  I had read before that you should only give out your business card if they ask for it (otherwise it ends up in the trash), so at least I knew that much. But I confined my thought process to how I could help THEM.  Sounds reasonable, but there’s a huge flaw with that thinking.  A very low percentage of people at the networking event would actually have an immediate need for my services.  Yes, I could follow up, but how much attention would they pay to a stream of messages like “Give me a call if you need me?”

What I didn’t know was that I should have been listening to these fellow networkers on behalf of the rest of my network (people I know).  I should have been thinking about how they could help someone I knew (in my network) or how someone else in my network might be able to help them.  Just in the last couple of weeks, from two totally independent sources, I’ve learned about of true referral marketing and how it’s really a gold mine to your own business.  Here’s how.

The goal of true referral marketing is to add as much value to a relationship as possible.  So, when you meet someone, you gain a little knowledge about them, perhaps follow up with a initial card acknowledging the meeting, and then try to figure out how you can help them.  Do you know anyone you can refer to this person or any one you can refer them to?  Do you know of a new service which might benefit them or have you learned something that might help them work through a sticky situation? Each contact should avoid mentioning what YOU can do for THEM, and instead focus on how you can help them through your network.  (If, of course, this person has an immediate need for your services, things would be a little different.)

The impact that this process has on your relationship with this person is immediate and profound.  The person now welcomes your e-mails and phone calls because you have already shown that each contact from you adds value.  This person now might want to give back to you.  Perhaps they know of someone in their network who could use your services or help you with a business problem.  This process builds a true relationship, instead of a “meet ’em and forget ’em” mentality.

In one situation, a business owner had just moved to a new location and started networking to meet people.  She decided to put her business on hold for a couple of months so that she could concentrate on true referral marketing.  How could she add value to each contact’s business?  Not how could she get this person to use her service.  After that two month investment of time concentrating on other businesses and how she could add value, she started receiving two to five referrals per day for her own business.  Now that’s quite a benefit!  All of those good feelings she sent out to others came back multiplied!

Think about how you might make your next networking event a true referral marketing experience and let me know how it turned out.

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