Tag Archives: business

What Your Gut Instincts Can Tell You In Business

Dec07 200People will tell you that your emotions will kill you in business, and a good deal is done with a poker face and the drive of a hired assassin. However, what if your business is about freelance writing, or about something where you’re passionate about what you do? That’s when your emotions are there for a reason, but they can still lead to being used by others who try to take advantage of that emotional charge.  The key to understanding how your emotions can help, instead of hurt you, in business is to learn how to use your business judgment, along with your emotional instincts, to cue you into bad customers before you get into relationships with them.

Every Business Relationship Is Like Dating

We can laugh or cringe at the dating horror stories of the woman who always ends up with the batterer, the drunk, or the just plain weirdo. Yet, sometimes our businesses attract the same types of deadbeats and we just drum it up to a bad economy, when it might be the way we’re doing business that is generating these bad business relationships. Just like a woman who does too much upfront in a relationship, a business owner who provides too many products or services before figuring out what the other party is going to provide back is in for the same sort of co-dependent, miserable, times as a single on the dating scene.  How do most people avoid these soap operas in their lives? They tend to rely on their “gut instincts” and emotions to let them know when they should pass on a relationship that’s going to be a downer, no matter what. When faced with a one-liner from a potential deadbeat customer (whether romantic or business), your gut instincts will tell you something is really wrong, and you can choose to acknowledge this or face the consequences later.

So Many Frogs, Few Princes

There was a question posted on Facebook recently: “Do I prefer the customer who offers a high price and fails to pay on time or the one that offers a low price and pays immediately?” What’s missing from this question is the value of the work. What sort of value do you place on your work? Is the customer willing to recognize the actual, intrinsic, value of the work or are they looking at the dollar bills? If you are working with a low-paying customer, be assured they’ll never be satisfied with the value of the work. They’ve already said as much by refusing to pay what it’s worth. More than likely they will try to chintz you even more in future projects. The same is true for the one that offers a high price and refuses to pay, as if your work is free or you are not a top priority when it comes to paying their bills. Sometimes, you get a high paying customer that is so demanding that you spend so much time with them, that if you added up the hours, you’d make less than the low-paying clients. Unfortunately, the additional criticisms and demands spell out exactly the same thing:” They don’t value your work.” Which begs the question:

Why don’t they go elsewhere then?

How You Create Your Own Customers

The reason, as hard as it may be to believe, is that you allow them to stay there repeatedly disrespecting the value of your work because you don’t believe it’s worth much either. The irony of the whole situation is that just like an abusive partner picks someone who they admire to belittle,  these customers actually like your work or they wouldn’t be there. It gives them great joy to find someone who wants to be involved with them because they don’t think much of themselves either. As the relationship continues, of course, the emotions become louder. Something is wrong, but the familiarity of it may lead to ignoring the fact that the pay is getting less and the demands are getting more. It may be hard to cut these people out of your life, but ultimately, it may be what your business requires to survive.  Ignore your gut instincts at your own peril at this point.

Learning To Trust Yourself In Business

Once you learn to disentangle yourself from these types of customers, the newer ones that are worth your time will appear. At the point you start to trust in your own innate worth, the deadbeats and abusers will begin to scatter because you either 1) Refuse to engage these customers, or 2) State the value of your work upfront and expect and get fair recompense for your work or they walk away. You learn to negotiate difficult customers so that you’re both on the same page or you clearly realize from the start that the relationship is not a match. At that point, you will have learned to trust yourself and appreciate the value of your own work enough for it to generate the customers who can do likewise. Whether in dating or business, once you learn to trust your own judgments and listen to what your emotions are telling you about the other party, the ability to select the right relationships becomes clearer and easier, and far more profitable.

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Why Big Business Will NEVER Get Social Media

Excursion TrainWhy don’t they just throw up their hands and give up? Honestly, if the Horizon Realty fiasco (Can a tweet cost you $50k? Maybe, if you get sued like this woman: http://bit.ly/4A60v (via @ColonelTribune)) is any indication, big business will never get social media. They’re still working on the old assumption that a market is profitable only when it’s controllable, but social media is something quite different. It is open source technology in action where people are the code that connects and creates a new reality, no matter what input or large infrastructure is already in place.

It’s Kind Of Funny To Watch…

I admit it, I was immensely amused by Horizon Realty’s online debacle. Who wasn’t? A big company sues a little Twitterer with at most 20 followers for an off-the-cuff remark about some moldy apartments.  What’s in the suit? A claim for $50,000 dollars in damages for one tweet with an exposure of 20 people on an inactive account, no less.  Regardless of whether the defendant “started it” as Horizon Realty suggest by wanting to sue over the issue first, the point is that social media is about the dissemination of information, whether accurate or not.  You can’t target one Twitterer in the hopes of controlling information on the Internet, it has a tendency to highlight these offensive attempts as “censorship” and they get widespread attention by way of “The Streisand Effect.”  What would have led to 20 people being told now has become a case of instant Twitter stardom with Horizon Realty placing number four on trending topics on July 28, 2009. Unfortunately, what they got with that stardom is permanent association with the company’s spokesman’s quote: “We’re a sue first, ask questions later type of organization.”

I’d Be Running Scared Too, Right About Now…

Big business is trying very hard to control places like Facebook, Twitter, and any type of social media that is taking the profit out of their pockets. The newspaper and magazine industry is collapsing because of the ease of information access via the Internet. Iran is having trouble squelching rebellions because of one pic tweeted across the globe of a girl named Neda. The establishment has lost control of the framework by which it tells us what it wants us to believe and how it shapes public opinion. What’s next? Are we going to demand that industry create jobs, products, and services that actually create value in society, instead of exploit it? What will happen to the profits then?

That’s Okay, They Have A Solution

And, that solution is to join up with what they can’t control, and infiltrate the new “system” so that at some point they have a handle on it. That’s why people who were previously canned for saying nasty things about their companies online are now being courted as social media gurus with an audience that can be harnessed for good publicity, not just bad. Now, they actually want people who are on Twitter and Facebook and the larger the audience, the better, even if on the surface it appears very hypocritical. They want to know how many Twitter followers you have on your resume because that’s just the type of person they want to hire, right? Once you’re on their payroll, they have control of that voice and they have a bigger share of that market to create profit, and not losses. They’re going to control the Internet, not by controlling the technology (which they clearly can’t do), but by controlling the voices that access the technology. That’s the thinking, anyways, and it’s completely misguided. They still don’t get it and they aren’t meant to get it. Social media isn’t for big business, as it stands now. It’s for the individual, and they should just get out of the way and let us do our thing before they get run over. In order for big business to truly get it, they have to revamp their companies from the bottom rung to the topmost CEO, and that’s just not going to happen by grabbing a few Twitterers or Facebook stars on their side and putting them on the payroll. Every voice is just as powerful, whether it has 1000 followers or 20 followers, as the Horizon Realty example clearly shows. That’s the concept they clearly don’t get, and that they aren’t going to get any time soon.

America’s Do Nothing Culture

DurbanIt’s amazing to me to come across so many people in today’s society that think that just showing up is sufficient for me to fork over my hard-earned money to them. Whether it’s someone I hire to do something for me, or a customer service representative, a salesperson, or even a family member. While I appreciate the company, you know, I am not the only person with a brain and two working hands. When I say I want “support” it’s not your emotional shoulder I want, it’s your work ethic. That appears to be sorely lacking in this country where the “do nothing and get paid for it” ethos wins the day.

I Always Thought It Was Because I’m A Single Mother

I used to think it was because I was a single mother, and we tend to work harder, longer, and have to pick up after every one else. While we may get tons of sympathy, no one feels obligated to do any baby-sitting, send over a casserole, invite me for dinner, or even mow my lawn for free.  I noticed that while everyone else had spouses (which they bitterly complained about) who did their lawn, changed their oil, and fixed their appliances, that I had to pay for those services, sometimes quite a lot and got very little in terms of actual quality work from these people. They want my money, all right, but they don’t necessarily think they need to deliver a quality service, or any service at all sometimes to receive payment. At any rate, I can now say it’s not because I am a single mother that predatory promisers of good service abound. I think now it has more to do with the do nothing work culture of America. I can expect it whether I am single or not.

Classic Examples

  • A Do Nothing Sales Person – I went into a health food store and requested a brand name allergy herbal remedy. I had money in my hand, but they only had the larger bottle and not the original bottle that cost what I wanted to spend. When I complained that I didn’t want that many pills and that I only had so much money, the sales person abruptly left me on the spot, saying “Fine!” to tend to some other person. I ended up going to another store, buying a different brand for the right price, and I haven’t returned since to that other store. Why? Do nothing sales people who can’t even turn a sale when a customer walks in with money in their hand knowing exactly what they want, that’s why. What would it have cost her to actually listen to my needs and recommend a different brand? Instead, I get the “I’m too busy to help you, and I must go elsewhere where I can go get paid to do nothing” ethos.
  • A Domain Registrar – I tried this weekend to get a domain registered with hostgator.com. They said they accepted PayPal payments, but didn’t specify how.  Something happened right away upon my sales request, and the password was different than I had set up, so I couldn’t get into support to find out how to make a payment. Did they notice the payment wasn’t made? Oh, yes – IMMEDIATELY.  The do nothing and get paid culture always notices when a payment doesn’t show up that they believe they’re due for doing ABSOLUTELY NOTHING yet.  They finally send me instructions on how to make payment and the payment goes through. There I am sitting and waiting for the domain to propagate and after seven days, I figure something is wrong. It’s still not showing up in my browser. I contact them again and they tell me they never registered it. Sure, they admit to taking my money, but they never registered it. Why? Maybe because that’s the standard way to make money in America. Sit on your fat *SS and do nothing! When I requested a refund for the period of time that they essentially did nothing and had promised delivery, I was told it was my fault because I didn’t notify them I had paid them and their system didn’t tell them they were paid. Holy Cow! I am now responsible for making sure people who take my money know they have it or I won’t get any service.  I canceled my account on the spot. I don’t do business with do nothing companies or do nothing customer sales people. I requested a FULL refund instead of a partial one. No work – NO PAY. How many times do I have to say that before someone understands me? Meanwhile, I’m getting the full sympathetic shoulder from a do nothing customer service rep as if that’s what I’m paying for. I’m paying to register a domain, not for some retarded double-speak and excuses. If the domain isn’t registered and they have my money, I want a refund for the work they promised that they failed to do. What’s so hard to understand?
  • An Expensive Employee – I have a friend who had 13 employees who were very well paid, very highly educated too. One of these employees said he had “12 years experience” and could do all manner of things. At any rate, he was sent out on a simple job for a client and when he reported back, he told this friend that he thought they could “do nothing” for this client. He was fired on the spot. It turned out to be a simple 15 minute fix, but the owner reasoned that the man was either lazy, didn’t want to be bothered, or simply didn’t have the knowledge he claimed to have to fix the problem. Either way, he wasn’t worth the salary. Here’s a helpful hint: When a client comes to you with money in hand and they want their problem fixed, “do nothing” is not a good response to generate business. If you think your boss isn’t noticing your lack of action or your lazy attitude, think again. If you have a job in this tight economy, my advice to you is to do what you have to do to keep it – like actually doing your job.  If you are a struggling company, here’s a tip for you. Actually deliver what you promise, when you promise it. Is that too much to ask in America anymore? My friend thinks so. He says in all the years he was in business he found that none of his employees had the work ethic that people outside the country have. The suppliers too were not that great about doing what they say will do either. He’s thinking maybe he’ll go overseas and start a business there instead. He’s tired of pampering overly educated, highly pampered, do nothing Americans.

We Got To Learn The Business Waltz

Los novios abriendo el baileI just had an epiphany after listening to this broadcast:Planning In An Economic Downturn with Sabrina Parsons. I realized that I know many of the basic steps for business development, but to really do well in this economy, I am going to have to learn the business waltz.

The Link Between Expenses And Income

Sabrina makes a good point that when business owners decide that they need to cut expenses to survive a downturn in the economy, they often don’t pick the right things to cut back on. They may choose advertising, for instance, because they perceive that is going to be less effective as there are fewer customers in a downturn. Then, the next month comes around and voila! Fewer customers! But, did they get fewer customers because of the downturn, or did they create a self-fulfilling prophecy by reducing their advertising exposure when it counted most?

Associations

Metaphysically, to magnetize sales to your business, you have to project energy that creates prosperity. What you do is really an expression of that energy, not the actual cause of some business effect, like more customers or sales. That’s why you can work your tail off and get no where, because you are exerting an energy of distrust in the marketplace, and that leads to lack of security. The energy is in association with the action and with the final result. But, on the other hand, you can work your tail off because you think there is a ton of demand headed your way and you want to be prepared for the overflow, and voila! You can create that too with EXACTLY the same action as before, where the identical action can create lack or prosperity, depending on the energy behind it.

The Business Waltz

In this broadcast, it brought to my attention that we have to not only pay attention to what we are doing, but what energy we are projecting with that action. We don’t want to create self-fulfilling scenarios in this economy that are going to bite us in the butt. So, while it’s important to know the steps to the dance, the waltz is something that one does not do with steps alone, but with a fluidity and understanding of how all the steps and energy combine to create a magnificent dance.

Favorite Free/Open Source Programs For Business

You Are FreeI’ve been around computers forever, and I’m always pleased to find something that can replace a proprietary program with an open source one. You may be surprised to learn (I was) that even WordPress is an Open Source program, even if they have commercial area. They also have a WordPress.org area where you can download the Open Source version. Wikipedia defines Open Source Software (OSS) as follows:

OSS can be defined as computer software for which the human-readable source code is made available under a copyright license (or arrangement such as the public domain) that meets the Open Source Definition. This permits users to use, change, and improve the software, and to redistribute it in modified or unmodified form. It is often developed in a public, collaborative manner. Open source software is the most prominent example of open source development and often compared to user generated content.

Most of the time Open Source software is free, unless someone takes a version and makes it into a commercial product. But, the original Open Source Software would still be free to distribute.

So, here are some of my favorites…

OpenOffice

This program has a suite of products like Microsoft Office from spreadsheets to word processors. As a writer, I love OpenOffice because it can allow me to save in various different formats (even MS Word) and appears to be a lighter install than MS Office. I don’t have to pay to upgrade the product every time a new version comes out. When my pc crashes, I can re-install without going through all sorts of security hassles and proof of purchase stuff. And, so far, I don’t notice much difference between the features I use than MS Word.

Firefox

This is a great browser (I’m using it right now). It is based on Open Source philosophy and anyone can download it for free. I find it much easier to use than Internet Explorer and love the multiple tabs feature. There are so many programmers aware of Firefox’s popularity that you can get free extensions for practically anything you want.

WordPress

I just recently found out this is Open Source Software. I am very excited about trying it out on my web servers. WordPress.org does need an to meet specific requirements, but it claims to be an easy install. I will write more about this later as I see how it suits my needs. I already love the program as a free portal, but want to include blogs under my own domain where I have more control. I am eager to see what the advantages of doing it this way are and will talk more about it as I learn more.

TurboTax Marketing Labyrinth

This is the product I normally use to do my taxes: TurboTax Home & Business Federal + State 2007.

I used to buy the package at the store and go through all the rebate nightmares, but now I find I like the online version much better. This year, I came across something very interesting in the way they’ve marketed their product. If you keep a close eye on their promotions, you can save some big money on the the product itself!

Using Rewards or Perk Programs

So, I am a member of the Borders Rewards program. They recently signed me up for their Perks program. It turns out they are offering 30% off TurboTax just for going through their portal when you do your taxes. Since signup for Borders card is free and it cost me nothing to join the Perks program, I’d say I’ll take them up on that offer! But, wait…I had already started to do my taxes online with TurboTax before I got this little tid bit in my email. Could I still use it?

It took me a while to figure out, but the answer appears to be yes! It asks you when you get back to the site if you already have an account with TurboTax and I did. I don’t know if this is because they can’t tell who was a past customer from previous years or whether it was because they don’t want complaints from people midway through their taxes that they didn’t get the discount! Anyways, I tried it several ways just to see what price popped up on their website.

Referral Sites With Discounts

Going to the website directly by typing up Turbotax’s url, I got a nice listing of products but no Home and Business. In it’s place was something called Personal Pro at a whopping $99.95. I think they’re hoping you’ll give up doing your taxes on your own, if you own a business and get their tax professionals to do it for you. So, by strategically placing this there instead of the Home and Business product, they make a few sales. If you have to click elsewhere to find the actual product you used last year, you might simply think they no longer offer it and your choices are limited. However, if you look for more of their products, you finally locate their Home and Business product and it is $74.95 regularly, not including the State file. Now, the interesting thing is that the above link I gave through Amazon is offering the same product for $69.99 with the State File.

Now, here’s the thing I really don’t get. The same place that sent me the Perks card for Borders is affiliated with Amazon. When you click on their help icon, it takes you to Amazon.com. So, what the heck? How come you can get the TurboTax Home and Business for $52.45 through them? I guess that’s why they call it a perk! It still doesn’t include the state filing, however, and I am not sure it won’t end up being more than $69.99 when all is said and done. Check out all of Amazon’s tax deals here My head is starting to hurt, and I haven’t even attempted to finish my taxes yet!

Always Walk Through The Right Door

At any rate, just remember, if you don’t complete your taxes in that session, you will have to access your portal again to get the same prices. They switch them depending on who is referring you and their website home pages changes accordingly. It’s like a little tax labyrinth to make our tax experience even more enjoyable this season! Regardless, I love TurboTax and think they are the best product out there. Saving a little money is nice too, though, even for a regular customer like me.