Make More Sales By Being Contrary

Here’s something I’ve been playing with, and my results have been pretty good, too.

A few months ago a friend was launching a big product with lots of cash prizes for the top affiliates. I knew there would be tons of affiliate competition, with every affiliate trying to out-do the others with bigger and better bonuses.

How to compete?

I decided not to.

Instead, I thought about what every affiliate’s bonus pages would look like: Highly polished, slick, professional, lots of graphics, videos, etc.

Odds are they would all start to look very much alike, right?

So I thought… what if I did something different?

What if my page looked like something you might get in the mail – black and white sales letter, using the Courier typewriter font, very old-school looking…

And what if, instead of a highly polished professional photo of myself, I used one where I just woke up? Or one where I just finished exercising, or just finished the yard work?

In other words, I looked like the guy next door and not some slick marketer.

Taking this thinking to the next level, I decided I didn’t want to spend time or money on creating a bonus. Everyone else was doing that, so why should I?

Instead, I would hold a live class. The homework would be to go over the program before class. Then in class we would implement, step-by-step, what was in the program. And I would record the whole thing, so people could just follow along.

In case you’re wondering – it worked beautifully. My sales were a very decent 5 figure number, and my commissions were half that plus bonuses.

And one more thing – I cheated, too. I had my virtual assistant run the class for me. She got to learn some great new skills, and I put less than 2 hours into the entire project.

The takeaway: When you have a lot of competition, it’s time to stop directly competing and find another way.

If they are using tons of graphics and slick videos, you go with a 1980’s black and white typewriter look.

If they are offering bonus packages filled with 5, 10 or 20 products, you offer no products (I offered hold-your-hand training, which in my opinion is worth far more anyway.)

You get the idea.

Do you know what would work even better than that?

MAILING the actual letter. Yup. Talk about old school. If you collect real addresses of your BUYERS, you might consider doing this on big ticket items.

I know marketers who do this. They are few and far between, and they are KILLING it. They only mail to buyers, which greatly improves their conversions. They use a service to send out the mailers for them. And they make more on one of these mailings than most successful marketers earn in 6 months.

Which brings me to my second idea… if you don’t already have the mailing addresses for your buyers, start collecting those now.

When you have a sizable portion of them (at least 200, preferably 500) approach a marketer with a product your list would love. Make sure there is plenty of profit in that product. Take the sales letter, adapt it to a black and white mailer (cheap to produce) and send it to your buyers.

See what happens. Tweak, rinse and repeat.

You can easily DOUBLE your income using this method.

Know why? Again, because it’s contrary. It’s different. Almost no one is doing it.

Your customer gets maybe a half dozen pieces of mail in a day. Two are bills. Two are sales flyers from local businesses. One is a catalog.

And then there’s that mysterious white envelope. Yeah, it’s going to get opened. Yes, it’s going to get read.

The Secret of Successful Negotiation

Your best work is done before you get to the negotiation table.

The area of negotiation that most affects the outcome is the part you have most control over – the preparation. Research has shown that the best prepared negotiator is the one most likely to get the best outcome.

Preparation that gives you a head start on your opponent can be achieved by anyone willing to spend the time. Here’s nine factors you should prepare.

1. Know the ‘pie’ – fixed or variable

‘Fixed pie’ negotiations are those where the only way I can get a better outcome is to get you to accept a lesser outcome. These never result in a win-win outcome. ‘Growing the pie’ negotiations include variables that creative negotiators use to create high perceived value for the other side at little cost to them. Thinking creatively can even allow you to turn a fixed pie into a variable one. Perhaps the asset (a motor vehicle) is fixed, but you could add variables like payment terms, advanced servicing. The salary might be fixed, but flexibility of hours could add significant value for some candidates.

2. Know the impact

Will the outcome of this negotiation impact on any other current or possible future negotiations with the other party? You don’t want to compromise any negotiations going on now or set precedents that might disadvantage you at some time in the future.

3. Know which side is under the most time pressure

The side under the most time pressure has the greatest incentive to be flexible and may be prepared to give more as the deadline gets closer. If the other side is under the most pressure, your advantage grows daily. If the time pressure is on you, be aware this is a weakness and that if the other side becomes aware of it they will use it.

4. Know the relationship

Is this a one-off negotiation or are there likely to be future dealings? Is the relationship important to you? If the answer is yes, is it important enough for you to be more generous with your offer(s)? If the answer is no, will this change your approach and tactics?

5. Know the other side

Is their negotiation style primarily competitive or cooperative? How likely are they to try to bluff? If you haven’t negotiated with them before, is there someone else you know who has that you can talk to? Is there anything you can find out about them that they might not expect you to know? Anything you can do to compromise their confidence in their preparation is a useful tactical tool.

6. Know what they know

Research yourself. Find out what they know about you. Don’t let them spring any surprises on you.

7. Know some accepted authorities

Facts and figures are so often misrepresented in negotiations, nobody takes the other side’s word. Try to find some authorities that you will both accept as reference points.

8. Know your ‘negotiable’

Build a list of all the negotiating issues you are prepared to bring to the table. Priorities them. Try to build a similar prioritized list for the other side. Issues which appear lower on your list but higher on theirs are the ones that you will get most value for when bargaining. Determine what will be your starting point and your bottom limit. Be as precise as you can.

If you cannot priorities a list for the other side in your preparation, try to determine their priorities in your preamble discussion with them before you start putting offers on the table. If appropriate, try to have a pre-negotiation discussion with them where no one would be making any commitments; you would just be getting to understand each other better to help you create the highest-value offers.

9. Know your alternatives

The side who is most able to walk away from a negotiation will negotiate strongest. You can only do this if you have an equivalent alternative to negotiate with. If you don’t, and this party is your best or only option, then do you have a Plan B to offer them if all else fails?

All the latest studies have shown that preparation and planning are the keys to success in negotiation. Sides that prepare and know precisely their goals in a negation always do better than those who go in ‘hoping for the best’. Those who set specific timelines do better than those who are more flexible. Many things happen in a negotiation that you don’t have control over; but your preparation is not one of them. Everyone is busy; but using that as an excuse is a mistake. Walk in best prepared – and walk out most satisfied.

How To Keep Your Manufacturing Business Safe And Productive

There are many types of manufacturing facilities that must be operated according to standards to ensure they are safe. Depending on the types of products manufactured, there are always risks associated with the operation. Every manufacturing facility needs a well-planned risk management strategy to address the different situations that occur as a result of the manufacturing process. Although this will help reduce risk a great deal, there is never a guarantee that accidents cannot occur. Manufacturing insurance is designed to give manufacturing companies the protection they need when the precautions they take aren’t enough.

The reason that many manufacturing facilities fail to reach their maximum productivity level is their lack of understanding that productivity and safety are dependent on each other. Putting a risk management strategy in place and having appropriate manufacturing insurance will result in their keeping safety incidents to a minimum and having financial coverage when incidents do occur.

Creating an Effective Risk Management Strategy

Just as different manufacturing businesses operate differently, they also have a different approach to risk management. Those who have successfully implemented risk management into their operation to make it more productive and safe are likely to start by assessing the likelihood of diverse events for assets and operating procedures and then continue with assessing the impact of these adverse events. Next, they will rank the risk for adverse events in these areas and then create a closed loop process to mitigate the risk in each area. This basic structure incorporates identification, quantification and mitigation.

Backing up Your Strategy with Manufacturing Insurance

Nearly every manufacturer needs insurance regardless of the products they make. There are laws imposed on the need for manufacturers to carry insurance that may vary on a state-by-state level. Even in those situations where the rules and regulations are limited, manufacturers should consider their risk potential when determine the degree of manufacturing insurance they need to protect them. Insurance can cover the cost of equipment repairs and replacement, damage to the facilities, or for medical liability in case employees are injured on the job.

General liability is a type of insurance that protects the manufacturer when an injury takes place on their property and they are found to be at fault. Lawsuits can be devastating to your business if you do not have the protection you need to cover any losses that may be awarded. General liability should be the basic part of your coverage that is included in addition to that which applies to your specific risks.

Value of Insurance Your Business

When accidents occur, it can have an impact on your manufacturing business at any level. Loss of equipment or employees can lead to downtime that has a significant impact on your bottom line. Lawsuits or excessive damage to the facility could cause you to lose your business altogether. Understanding your risk and having the manufacturing insurance to cover your losses can often be the difference between a business that fails and one that is both safe and productive.

The Dangers Of Overhead Power Lines Best Practices

Every year people at work are killed or seriously injured when they come into contact with live overhead electricity power lines.

If a machine, scaffold tube, ladder, or even a jet of water touches or gets too close to an overhead wire, then electricity will be conducted to earth. This can cause a fire or explosion and electric shock and burn injuries to anyone touching the machine or equipment. An overhead wire does not need to be touched to cause serious injury or death as electricity can jump, or arc, across small gaps.

One of the biggest problems is that people simply do not notice overhead lines when they are tired, rushing or cutting corners. They can be difficult to spot, eg in foggy or dull conditions, when they blend into the surroundings at the edge of woodland, or when they are running parallel to, or under, other lines. Always assume that a power line is live unless and until the owner of the line has confirmed that it is dead. This guidance is for people who may be planning to work near overhead lines

where there is a risk of contact with the wires, and describes the steps you should take to prevent contact with them. It is primarily aimed at employers and employees who are supervising or in control of work near live overhead lines, but it will also be useful for those who are carrying out the work.

Types of overhead power lines

Most overhead lines have wires supported on metal towers/pylons or wooden poles – they are often called ‘transmission lines’ or ‘distribution lines’. Most high-voltage overhead lines, ie greater than 1000 V (1000 V = 1 kV) have wires that are bare and insulate but some have wires with a light plastic covering or coating. All high-voltage lines should be treated as though they are uninsulated. While many low-voltage overhead lines (ie less than 1 kV) have bare insulate wires, some have wires covered with insulating material. However, this insulation can sometimes be in poor condition or, with some older lines, it may not act as effective insulation; in these cases you should treat the line in the same way as an insulate line. If in any doubt, you should take a precautionary approach and consult the owner of the line.

There is a legal minimum height for overhead lines which varies according to the voltage carried. Generally, the higher the voltage, the higher the wires will need to be above ground. Equipment such as transformers and fuses attached to wooden poles and other types of supports will often be below these heights. There are also recommended minimum clearances published by the Energy Networks Association.

What does the law require?

The law requires that work may be carried out in close proximity to live overhead lines only when there is no alternative and only when the risks are acceptable and can be properly controlled. You should use this guidance to prepare a risk assessment that is specific to the site. Businesses and employees who work near to an overhead line must manage the risks. Overhead line owners have a duty to minimize the risks from their lines and, when consulted, advise others on how to control the risks. The line owner will usually be an electricity company, known as a transmission or distribution network operator, but could also be another type of organization, eg Network Rail, or a local owner, eg the operator of a caravan park.

Preventing overhead line contact

Good management, planning and consultation with interested parties before and during any work close to overhead lines will reduce the risk of accidents. This applies whatever type of work is being planned or undertaken, even if the work is temporary or of short duration. You should manage the risks if you intend to work within a distance of 10 m, measured at ground level horizontally from below the nearest wire.

Remove the risk, the most effective way to prevent contact with overhead lines is by not carrying out work where there is a risk of contact with, or close approach to, the wires. Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. If you cannot avoid working near an overhead line and there is a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, you should consult its owner to find out if the line can be permanently diverted away from the work area or replaced with underground cables. This will often be inappropriate for infrequent, short-duration or transitory work. If this cannot be done and there remains a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, find out if the overhead line can be temporarily switched off while the work is being done. The owner of the line will need time to consider and act upon these types of requests and may levy a charge for any work done.

Risk control

If the overhead line cannot be diverted or switched off, and there is no alternative to carrying out the work near it, you will need to think about how the work can be done safely. If it cannot be done safely, it should not be done at all. Your site-specific risk assessment will inform the decision. Things to consider as part of your risk assessment include:

the voltage and height above ground of the wires. Their height should be measured by a suitably trained person using non-contact measuring devices;
the nature of the work and whether it will be carried out close to or underneath the overhead line, including whether access is needed underneath the wires;
the size and reach of any machinery or equipment to be used near the overhead line;
the safe clearance distance needed between the wires and the machinery or equipment and any structures being erected. If in any doubt, the overhead line’s owner will be able to advise you on safe clearance distances;the site conditions, undulating terrain may affect stability of plant etc;
the competence, supervision and training of people working at the site.

If the line can only be switched off for short periods, schedule the passage of tall plant and, as far as is possible, other work around the line for those times. Do not store or stack items so close to overhead lines that the safety clearances can be infringed by people standing on them.

Working near but not underneath overhead lines – the use of barriers. Where there will be no work or passage of machinery or equipment under the line, you can reduce the risk of accidental contact by erecting ground-level barriers to establish a safety zone to keep people and machinery away from the wires. This area should not be used to store materials or machinery. Suitable barriers can be constructed out of large steel drums filled with rubble, concrete blocks, wire fence earthed at both ends, or earth banks marked with posts.

If steel drums are used, highlight them by painting them with, for example, red and white horizontal stripes.
If a wire fence is used, put red and white flags on the fence wire.
Make sure the barriers can be seen at night, perhaps by using white or fluorescent paint or attaching reflective strips.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

The safety zone should extend 6 m horizontally from the nearest wire on either side of the overhead line. You may need to increase this width on the advice of the line owner or to allow for the possibility of a jib or other moving part encroaching into the safety zone. It may be possible to reduce the width of the safety zone but you will need to make sure that there is no possibility of encroachment into the safe clearance distances in your risk assessment.

Where plant such as a crane is operating in the area, additional high-level indication should be erected to warn the operators. A line of colored plastic flags or ‘bunting’ mounted 3-6 m above ground level over the barriers is suitable. Take care when erecting bunting and flags to avoid contact or approach near the wires. Passing underneath overhead lines, if equipment or machinery capable of breaching the safety clearance distance has to pass underneath the overhead line, you will need to create a passageway through the barriers, In this situation:

keep the number of passageways to a minimum;
define the route of the passageway using fences and erect goalposts at each end to act as gateways using a rigid, non-conducting material, eg timber or plastic pipe, for the goalposts, highlighted with, for example, red and white stripes;
if the passageway is too wide to be spanned by a rigid non-conducting goalpost, you may have to use tensioned steel wire, earthed at each end, or plastic ropes with bunting attached. These should be positioned further away from the overhead line to prevent them being stretched and the safety clearances being reduced by plant moving towards the line;
ensure the surface of the passageway is leveled, formed-up and well maintained to prevent undue tilting or bouncing of the equipment;
put warning notices at either side of the passageway, on or near the goalposts and on approaches to the crossing giving the crossbar clearance height and instructing drivers to lower jibs, booms, tipper bodies etc and to keep below this height while crossing;
you may need to illuminate the notices and crossbar at night, or in poor weather conditions, to make sure they are visible;
make sure that the barriers and goalposts are maintained.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

On a construction site, the use of goalpost-controlled crossing points will generally apply to all plant movements under the overhead line. Working underneath overhead lines. Where work has to be carried out close to or underneath overhead lines, eg road works, pipe laying, grass cutting, farming, and erection of structures, and there is no risk of accidental contact or safe clearance distances being breached, no further precautionary measures are required. However, your risk assessment must take into account any situations that could lead to danger from the overhead wires. For example, consider whether someone may need to stand on top of a machine or scaffold platform and lift a long item above their head, or if the combined height of a load on a low lorry breaches the safe clearance distance. If this type of situation could exist, you will need to take precautionary measures.

If you cannot avoid transitory or short-duration, ground-level work where there is a risk of contact from, for example, the upward movement of cranes or tipper trailers or people carrying tools and equipment, you should carefully assess the risks and precautionary measures. Find out if the overhead line can be switched off for the duration of the work. If this cannot be done:

refer to the Energy Networks Association (ENA) publication Look Out Look Up! A Guide to the Safe Use of Mechanical Plant in the Vicinity of Electricity Overhead Lines.2 This advises establishing exclusion zones around the line and any other equipment that may be fitted to the pole or pylon. The minimum extent of these zones varies according to the voltage of the line, as follows:
– low-voltage line – 1 m;
– 11 kV and 33 kV lines – 3 m;
– 132 kV line – 6 m;
– 275 kV and 400 kV lines – 7 m;
under no circumstances must any part of plant or equipment such as ladders, poles and hand tools be able to encroach within these zones. Allow for uncertainty in measuring the distances and for the possibility of unexpected movement of the equipment due, for example, to wind conditions;
carry long objects horizontally and close to the ground and position vehicles so that no part can reach into the exclusion zone, even when fully extended. Machinery such as cranes and excavators should be modified by adding physical restraints to prevent them reaching into the exclusion zone. Note that insulating guards and/or proximity warning devices fitted to the plant without other safety precautions are not adequate protection on their own;
make sure that workers, including any contractors, understand the risks and are provided with instructions about the risk prevention measures;
arrange for the work to be directly supervised by someone who is familiar with the risks and can make sure that the required safety precautions are observed;
if you are in any doubt about the use of exclusion zones or how to interpret the ENA document, you should consult the owner of the overhead line.

Where buildings or structures are to be erected close to or underneath an overhead line, the risk of contact is increased because of the higher likelihood of safety clearances being breached. This applies to the erection of permanent structures and temporary ones such as polytunnels, tents, marquees, flagpoles, rugby posts, telescopic aerials etc. In many respects these temporary structures pose a higher risk because the work frequently involves manipulating long conducting objects by hand.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. The overhead line owner will be able to advise on the separation between the line and structures, for example buildings using published standards such as ENA Technical Specification 43-8 Overhead Line Clearances.1 However, you will need to take precautions during the erection of the structure. Consider erecting a horizontal barrier of timber or other insulating material beneath the overhead line to form a roof over the construction area – in some cases an earthed, steel net could be used. This should be carried out only with the agreement of the overhead line owner, who may need to switch off the line temporarily for the barrier to be erected and dismantled safely.

Ideally, work should not take place close to or under an overhead line during darkness or poor visibility conditions. Dazzle from portable or vehicle lighting can obscure rather than show up power lines. Sometimes, work needs to be carried out near uninsulated low-voltage overhead wires, or near wires covered with a material that does not provide effective insulation, connected to a building. Examples of such work are window cleaning, external painting or short-term construction work. If it is not possible to re-route or have the supply turned off, the line’s owner, eg the distribution network operator, may be able to fit temporary insulating shrouds to the wires, for which a charge may be levied. People, plant and materials still need to be kept away from the lines.

Emergency procedures

If someone or something comes into contact with an overhead line, it is important that everyone involved knows what action to take to reduce the risk of anyone sustaining an electric shock or burn injuries. Key points are:

never touch the overhead line’s wires;
assume that the wires are live, even if they are not arcing or sparking, or if they
otherwise appear to be dead;
remember that, even if lines are dead, they may be switched back on either automatically after a few seconds or remotely after a few minutes or even hours if the line’s owner is not aware that their line has been damaged:
if you can, call the emergency services. Give them your location, tell them what has happened and that electricity wires are involved, and ask them to contact the line’s owner:
if you are in contact with, or close to, a damaged wire, move away as quickly as possible and stay away until the line’s owner advises that the situation has been made safe:
if you are in a vehicle that has touched a wire, either stay in the vehicle or, if you need to get out, jump out of it as far as you can. Do not touch the vehicle while standing on the ground. Do not return to the vehicle until it has been confirmed that it is safe to do so;

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines, be aware that if a live wire is touching the ground the area around it may be live. Keep a safe distance away from the wire or anything else it may be touching and keep others away.

Plans for Your Business Venture

Whatever the health and condition of your business venture, it will benefit from planning. Business planning of all types provides a road-map that guides the leadership team to successfully achieve business goals.

I’ve taught business plan writing for more than 10 years and I’ve also developed a one-day business plan writing workshop. As I see it, the process of business planning gives company leaders opportunities to see the big picture and remove “magical thinking” from the process. Business planning first reveals if the proposed goals are potentially viable and second, requires that we devise strategies that will make them a reality.

What your team wants to achieve will shape the plan that is written. For example, if the mission is to launch a start-up that will require significant outside investment, then the plan will include detailed financial projections. Additionally, marketing strategies that delve into customer acquisition, the competitive landscape, the logistics of the product or service launch, messaging and sales distribution, along with operational aspects such as manufacturing, staffing and quality control, must be thoroughly detailed.

Solopreneur consultants will focus heavily on marketing, in particular defining the target clients and client acquisition; providing services for which there is adequate demand; and appropriate pricing. Financial planning will focus on allocating the budget to support promotional strategies and marketing campaigns.

Whether the plan will be used to launch a big venture and attract outside investment money or open a boutique-style consulting service, include the following elements:

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Present the business mission statement here. Include as well the date the business was formed; the leadership team and other key management personnel; the credentials or experience that make you and the leadership team uniquely qualified to launch and successfully run the venture; the business legal structure (LLC, Sole Proprietor, or Corporation); the products and services; one or two key competitive advantages; a concise overview of sales projections; and the amount of capital needed if recruiting investors or obtaining bank financing is a goal.

BUSINESS DESCRIPTION

It’s traditional to present a brief description of your industry and its outlook, nationally and regionally. Give the details of your products and services and briefly discuss how they’ll be used by target customers. Identify whether the venture is B2B, B2C, or B2G. If the organization holds a patent, review the competitive advantages that it will convey. Have there been any technological advances that will help or hinder the enterprise? Divulge the details here.

MARKETING

This element is a big tent that encompasses sales, product or service distribution, competitors, advertising, social media, PR, networking, branding, customer acquisition and pricing. Plans written for a small organization will spotlight the role of marketing because for Solopreneurs, success hinges on identifying and reaching paying clients, as well as pricing the services advantageously.

FINANCE

Whether you’re wealthy enough to self-finance or the venture is small and not especially demanding of capital investment, the leadership team nevertheless needs to know with a reasonable degree of certainty how much money will be required to achieve important goals.

The plan might be written to support financing for the acquisition of new office space, additional staffing, or manufacturing equipment. Bank loans typically require a business plan to demonstrate how the investment money would be used and how the organization will generate funds for loan repayment.

If the goal is to attract investors, they’ll need to be convinced by the projected sales revenue figures (as will the bank), so they’ll know when their investment will be repaid and when to expect profits if they are made co-owners of the business. A break-even analysis, projected income statement, projected cash-flow statement and projected balance sheet are required by those who will need significant money.

OPERATIONS

How will day-to-day business processes function? Tell it here, along with providing the organizational chart, the business location, the method of producing that which you sell (if you are, for example, a freelance book editor or graphic designer, you produce the service yourself), your usual sub-contractors (if you are a special events organizer, who are your preferred caterer, florist and limo service?) and quality control methods. This element is about logistics.

Finding a Great Job

Many businesses have high turnover rates due to unhappy, unsatisfied, and/or unappreciated employees. There are several ways a company can create loyalty, happiness, and more positive attitudes towards employee’s jobs. One such approach is through increased company functions and gatherings that help develop office friendships throughout the company. Also, the creation of management teams and developing a teamwork mentality will help employees gain the feeling of ownership in their company. Instead of an us versus them attitude between departments, friendships throughout the company will also help build a complete team attitude. Many prominent companies create outlets for their employees to volunteer, fundraising, and help their community. The following suggestions will also increase employee pride, happiness, and ownership of their responsibilities at work.

• Family Atmosphere – This type of environment creates a climate of fairness, equality, respect, and makes it safe to express dissent. This atmosphere is welcoming and creates a friendly environment to introduce new ideas. Employees teams may encourage a challenging but supportive environment and strengthen loyalty and teamwork throughout the organization.

• Recognition Programs – Company programs that recognize hard work, commitment, effort, and contributions breed organizational success and loyalty. The recognition program should include monthly awards and gift cards or a free lunch. Recognition from a supervisor at least two ranks above an employee makes a meaningful, engaging difference in employee morale.

• Organizational Pride and Belonging – Promote activities that development and establish pride and loyalty which is the backbone of any businesses long-term success. Employee turnover is extremely expensive and productivity and product or service development suffers. An engaged employee is a person who is enthusiastic about their work. Improving employee engagement directly impacts measurable business outcomes. Employees who are committed to success, emotionally attached, and socially involved with a company demonstrate qualities that business managers thirst to have. Engaged employees are more productive at work, take less sick days and exhibit other favorable behavior, promote the business to others and show their happiness to customers.

• Mentor Programs – Thinking long-term for future company success. A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser that assists in developing competent employees and future leaders. Mentoring program train and encourage seasoned employees to be mentors. A mentoring program can facilitate dynamic skill growth throughout an organization. Informal learning can be as important as formal learning programs.

• Volunteering Options – Look for opportunities for your company employees to get involved in the community. Allow your employees to volunteer their time or fundraising for a good cause. It is good public relations for companies to show their communities they care about their customers. These activities will create good-will among the local community and your employees. Create a team to decide what cause your company will offer financial support for a charity or cause.

Employee engagement can be improved by aligning the goals of individual with the goals of the business. Employee motivation should be associated with traditional rewards, such as pay and compensation, but also with emotional rewards such as personal growth, working for a common cause, being part of a high-performance team, and being recognized for achievements.

How to Reply to a Freelance Writing Gig Ad

If you search online every day, you will find hundreds of ads seeking a freelance writer. Along with these hundreds of ads, come many people wanting the gig. There could be hundreds of applicants that want to work the gig, but the person looking only needs one person. This is why it’s important to stand out when you reply to an ad.

When you reply to an ad, make sure you give the person exactly what he is looking for. If the ad says it wants your resume, samples, and a cover letter, make sure you send all three of them. If you don’t follow the directions, you have a pretty good chance of not getting the gig.

When sending your resume, make sure most people won’t have trouble opening it. Send it as a Word document or in text form. You don’t need it to be fancy. You need it to give information about your knowledge and skills.

The samples you provide should be some of your best work. It should also be relevant to the topic you’ll be writing on for the gig. People want to know how well you can write for them, and the only way to show them that is to give them a sample of that writing.

The cover letter is probably the hardest part. You should never copy and paste your cover letter. It should always be unique to the gig you’re applying to. You should start with something intriguing about yourself. You can then go into the reasons you are perfect for this gig. Don’t make it too long because people won’t read it all. You need to state what’s important and end it with a polite conclusion, which is usually information about how you can be contacted.

Always Be Professional

Don’t take shortcuts because the only person you’ll be hurting is yourself. The first impression you give people looking for a freelance writer is through an email. It could be your only shot at getting the gig, so put your best forward first.

When you receive a reply, don’t get lazy. Respond with the same professionalism as you did with the first email. People can turn you away at any time, so don’t risk it by not responding to their emails with the information they need to make a final decision.

Now that you have this information, go out there and start to apply to freelance writing gigs. Before you know it, you’ll have plenty of work coming in to bring in a decent income.

Mentoring That Leaves an Indelible Imprint on Your Soul

Learning from books feeds our brains. Experience builds skills and expertise. Effective coaching shapes and drives the way we work and see the world. And then there is that wonderful, elusive sort of mentoring that leaves an indelible imprint on the soul. Here are the stories of two people who have provided me with the sort of coaching that leaves an indelible imprint on the soul, and a powerful impact on my life.

Maggie
Maggie was a tiny fireball, a real force of nature. She started a national movement after she retired from the Presbyterian Church, which she called forced termination from employment due to age. A number of us lived in shared housing with her in Philadelphia, and often worked with her on different projects. A savvy optimist with no rose-colored glasses, she would often say: “When you’re working on something important, you never let roadblocks deter you from your goal. If there’s a rock in the road, move it, go around it, or over it. And, if nothing else works, then tunnel under it.” And she did. In her old age, she was elected to the National Giraffe Heroes Project for sticking neck out, a commendation which was always a badge of honor for her.

Maggie led by example, demonstrating a model of passion, persistence and power. Whenever she would meet people after speaking engagements or workshops, she would ask them about what they were doing, show them why their work was important, and encourage them. People would walk away from those conversations excited and empowered, because Maggie had validated them, and told them their work had impact and value. She was very supportive to people working to make a positive difference in the world – and a well-researched, dramatic critic of those she found to be creating harm. When she died, a major national newspaper wrote that Maggie had no children. The newspaper was corrected by her friend and foundation executive who said “Maggie had thousands of children she nurtured over the years, spread across the country and the world.”

Michael
Michael is a retired publishing executive who has built many large publishing businesses over the years. An extremely successful businessman, he is surprisingly humble and self-deprecating about his many achievements. Even when he has been quite busy, Michael has always found the time to focus on his friends and colleagues with undivided attention. In talking with him, you feel like he has all the time in the world for you. He listens in such a way that, when he responds to you, it is with a very deep level of understanding.

Gentle with his suggestions and advice, Michael would share about strategies he had used that were successful without saying “you should do it this way.” He lets you figure out the connection between the strategies he used to successfully surmount challenges, and your own situation. When he suggests something, it is with grace and tact. Michael often says, “well, I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, and I was thinking… ” He would go on to describe an idea or solution that you hadn’t considered at all.

Michael has also been tireless in his giving to those in need, serving on many boards, and becoming involved in supporting and funding a wide range of community economic development projects. Some of our most well-known social enterprise and economic development nonprofits have grown under his tutelage. Almost always, he leverages both his volunteering and his philanthropy by involving others, and he’s engaged an untold number over the years. By doing so, he has shown many people new and exciting ways to make a difference in the world while building his base of support for those causes most dear to his heart.

Why This is Coaching That Leaves an Indelible Imprint on the Soul
Over the years, these two coaches became dear friends, and part of my “family of choice,” as Maggie so aptly termed it. Michael and I still talk on a regular basis, now more as peers who share about our lives, our work, our spiritual practice and those causes that are our passions. And though she is long gone, Maggie’s legacy can still be seen everywhere, and I often consider what she might say about an issue I find challenging. Modelling skills and strategies helpful to my professional development, they served as powerful coaches and examples. They have demonstrated purposeful and value-driven lives. Lives that make a difference in the world. And they have left an indelible imprint on my soul.

Things To Know About The Decision Making Process

Meetings are a crucial part of any business to make sure that all business operations are running smoothly. The decision-making process matters most when it comes to discussing issues that surrounds your venture. It is true that groups are oftentimes being dominated by an individual in order to agree on a certain course of action. By using a structured process of discussing issues, meetings can become more efficient and the group’s performance can be enhanced.

Some Basic Processes That A Chairperson Or Members Can Facilitate

Brainstorming – This process will generate a lot of spontaneous and diverse ideas within a short time frame. Some of the rules that you must adhere to when using this process will include no criticism on any point, everyone must participate, and the ideas must be recorded until they are exhausted. All the ideas are recorded on a board so that everyone can see it. After the brainstorming, the list will be screened and points would be clarified. All the members will then choose their 5 priority items and decide on a course of action.

Prioritizing Technique – Every participant will think of ideas or perhaps solutions that are written on a chart or board. It is from these ideas that the group will develop different options or solutions. In order to arrive at the option which the majority supports, participants may be asked to rank the options by using a scale of 1-5, where 5 points represents their 1st choice, 4 the 2nd, and so on. The desired option is the one which accumulates the highest total score. Apart from giving points or ranking the options, another way of determining which option does the majority supports is by giving every individual 5 sticky dots and have them place the dots beside the option they want. They can actually select 5 individual options or perhaps place multiple dots on the option they really prefer. The course of action will be determined by the option having the greatest number of dots.

SWOT Analysis – This process will determine the Strengths, Weakness, Opportunities, and Threats of a certain situation. This analysis will greatly help the group in determining the right direction.

Force Field Analysis – This process is a great way of graphically showing the forces which drive for changes or perhaps forces that restrain changes in relation to a certain situation.

These are the different decision-making processes that businesses use in order to come up with the best option when dealing with a certain issue. Apart from knowing these processes, another important thing to consider in order to ensure a successful meeting is to set-up a work-efficient meeting or virtual room.

Big-League Customer Advises Bush-League Vendor

Sudden growth is rarely a smooth ride, especially for a boot-strapped venture. Well past their fifth year in business, one small custom manufacturer serendipitous developed a product that met a real need in a niche market populated by industry giants. The vendor’s new customers were used to buying from large, well-managed firms. As a custom manufacturer, this company had the freedom to focus on one customer per product. It wasn’t yet clear to them that they had entered into a phase of development where the signs of professional management would be taken for granted by customers. In this case study, a frustrated customer advises the vendor to learn how to manage their resources to simultaneously (and seamlessly) complete commitments made to past customers and start projects for new customers.

This is one in a series of case studies highlighting “Key Questions and Course-correcting Quotes” taken from 20 years of B2B customer insight projects. All names are fictitious, but the situations are real. Case studies paint a picture of how important it is to learn what your B2B customers think–but aren’t saying. These are real-world examples of how soliciting and acting on customer feedback has helped companies hold onto customers longer, grow relationships bigger and pick up new business faster.

Case study: Your Bootstraps Are Showing

Key Question (asked of a VP–the vendor’s chief contact in a 6-figure relationship):

VP: “This vendor’s president was badly criticized by customers who attended last year’s trade show. He changed how his company prioritizes customer issues. Do they now seem to be on the right track, or are they overlooking a blind spot that’s obvious to you?”

Course-correcting Quote:

“Their president has to get his organizational structure in place and build a senior management team. He has a bandwidth problem. On the one hand, he hasn’t delivered on all his outstanding obligations to his existing customers. On the other, he needs to make enough sales to keep his company afloat. They need to learn not to make contractual commitments for products that take resources away from their existing obligations. Reality for a small company like that is, you have to make the big sale. It takes a lot of discipline to not over-commit. They need to get a better handle on their existing staff’s capacity.”

My Client’s Quandary:

This $7 million vendor had a product that Fortune 50 companies were interested in, but the company was having growing pains. Their founder knew how to design and develop new products, but he didn’t have a lot of management training or experience. His senior managers were two of his buddies with the same technical background and lack of management experience. His company was at risk of being marginalized by a stronger competitor as soon as someone else developed a decent competing product.

More immediately, the president would be facing his customers at an upcoming trade show. He had been badly pilloried a year earlier. Before risking that again, he wanted a customer relationship consultant to conduct deep-dive interviews with his customers and expose the themes and patterns that would clarify which decisions he needed to make.

Conclusion:

Several of his customers gave similar feedback. My recommendation: Acquire experienced outside talent to manage operational and customer-facing functions. He hired the experienced talent he needed, held onto his customers, attracted funding, grew the company to serve additional niche markets, and eventually found a strategic buyer. Honest feedback from his customers helped him find his way and achieve his vision.

I categorize projects as assessments, investigations, treasure hunts or rescue missions. This project was an investigation. The client’s question was “Why are our customers still angry with us?”