Category: Business.

Start with your own. From cleaning up your office to working on your own life, it’s so tempting (and easy) to focus on other people’s messes and problems. The other person’s problem and solutions are so clear and obvious to us. Their mess lures us into a false sense of a simple answer and quick solution. We are so tempted to say, “Why if you’ll only do this, everything will be fine.” Solutions aren’t always as simple as they appear — especially in other people’s lives.

What is difficult and far more bold is to start with your own mess. Start making changes in your own character. Start improving your own attitude. Start that habit at work that you want everyone else to emulate. Start cleaning your own desk and taking control of your own life.

I’ve been working on paring down and simplifying at the office and at home. It feels really good to be organized and uncluttered. In the process, I’ve noticed my tendency to want to “help” others with their difficulties, their messes, and their problems. That silly desire sidetracks me from what I really need to be doing. That distraction stops me from working on my own problems. It prevents me from thinking about and solving my bad habits.

Please don’t think I’m saying don’t care for others or help others. That is not what I mean at all. I’m specifically talking about focusing on others when we seriously need to focus on ourselves.

Often when someone else’s behavior or mess bothers me, I look to myself as quickly as possible to see if I’m guilty of the exact same behavior.

Leave other people’s messes for them. Allow others the joy of solving their own problems. Focus on your own. It may just start a chain reaction of change at the office, at home and in your own heart.

FAKE!

You’ve heard about “fake news” a lot lately. Well there are plenty of fake invoices out there too. This short article tells you how to spot them.

My clients call on a regular basis saying, “I thought we stopped all yellow page advertising? I just got another bill in the mail today!”

I ask them to send me a copy or if I’m there I ask to see it. It usually looks something like the graphic above. The amounts vary dramatically, but they are usually somewhere near what you have paid for yellow page advertising in the past. The customer name is filled out and it looks like a real invoice.

Imagine how many companies around the country are just paying these invoices. You might be thinking, “What could it hurt? You’re getting yellow page advertising somewhere, aren’t you?” The answer is; maybe. You may be getting in a national advertising book somewhere.

But consider the fact that AT&T sold off their yellow page division years ago. AT&T is a progressive company. Keep an eye on them to figure out what you should do with your company. They sold the yellow page division for a reason. They projected customers would find information in a new way and that division would no longer be profitable nor viable.

Now take a look at the size of your local yellow pages. You’ll notice it’s remarkably smaller – and you can’t find local business numbers. Another thing you might notice is that hardly anyone is using it. Just ask around.

So if your local yellow pages are not working, how do you expect a national yellow book to work for your company?

Don’t fall for fake invoices. Here’s what to look for:

The return address is nowhere near your location. Normally your local yellow book will be located in a community near you, and have an address that is reasonably close to your location.
Somewhere on the invoice it will say, “This is not a bill.” This is required by law and sometimes it take a few minutes to locate it. But it will be there.
When in doubt, do a quick internet search of the company or call a trusted marketing advisor.

A reputable marketing professional is there to help you build your business. Fake invoices don’t benefit your company, they drain your profit. Be on guard.

© Sally Kintz, Poole Communications

By Sally Poole

In fourth grade we lived in Holly Park, which is part of the Seattle Housing Authority. We just called it “the projects.” Mom, a high school drop out, was recently divorced with four kids. We were really poor and didn’t mind at all – except we had to eat powdered milk on the commodity oatmeal we had for breakfast every morning. At Holly Park, we had tons of other kids to play with and learned all kinds of new things.

One of our neighbors and my best friend was Tonya. Tonya’s mom would iron her hair in the morning to straighten it. My sister and I would beg her to iron our hair too. We liked it because it made our hair warm. She’d just laugh at us and iron our straight hair too.

Tonya’s brother, Mike was older than us and he was a complete mystery. He would bounce his basketball all the time and tell us frequently, “I’m gonna be a pro.” We had NO IDEA what on earth he was talking about. We tried to find out what a pro was. We even asked adults, but out of context, they had no idea what we were talking about either. You have to remember this was in the 1960’s. Professional sports had not yet become the big business it is today – well, not that we were aware of anyway.

Years later I realized Mike wanted to be a pro basketball player, make good money and have respect.

I started thinking that maybe we should encourage all of our young kids to become a pro. Professionals at something – anything! It would encourage them to work hard on their dream career, practice, maybe go to college or a trade school that they hadn’t considered before. To shoot a little higher (pardon the basketball pun) for a larger goal.

I had no idea what I would do with my life when I was in fourth grade, but I’m proud that I became a pro in my field. I hope Mike became a pro too. I wish all of our kids could grow up to be pros, earn the money they want and get the respect they’ve dreamed of.

This morning, I received another email that had a WORD document attached. When I opened the WORD document it had a few sentences that could have easily been put in the body of the email.

It takes time to open attachments. Recipients might not have the program you sent the attachment in. I especially hate PowerPoint attachments because they take so long to open. Or worse yet, Publisher documents that cannot be opened on a Macintosh computer.

I’m encouraging everyone to think just a little bit before they send an email or an attachment. Here are five easy tips to get your emails read:

1. Use the subject line. Make it informative and change it if the email’s topic changes.

2. Keep your emails brief. Research has shown that six sentences is a maximum. Get to the point.

3. Be kind. An email can be easily misunderstood. Take extra effort to be kind and say something friendly.

4. Provide contact information. This enables the recipient to call, email or check out your website.

5. Use a pdf, png or jpeg attachment format. They can be quickly opened and read by almost anyone.

We’re all being asked to do more in less time. Let’s make the world a little easier and communicate clearly. What tips do you have?

“Books are better than television, the internet, or the computer for educating and maintaining freedom. Books matter because they state ideas and then attempt to thoroughly prove them. They have an advantage precisely because they slow down the process, allowing the reader to internalize, respond, react and transform. The ideas in books matter because time is taken to establish truth, and because the reader must take the time to consider each idea and either accept it or, if he rejects it, to think through sound reasons for doing so. A nation of people who write and read is a nation with the attention span to earn an education and free society if they choose.”
― Oliver DeMille

The Huffington Post reported that a US Postal Service survey shows mail at an all time low.

Take heart. This is the perfect opportunity every business has been looking for. Write a note to your customer. Your small note (that you can send for a mere 46¢) will make an impact because no one receives letters anymore.

The post office reports that an average home received ONE personal letter roughly every seven weeks. That is absolutely amazing. But I have to admit, I opened my mail last night and threw away 90%. Most of it was junk and form letters. People don’t consider a letter “junk.” Especially if you have something nice to say or share – and you write it by hand. People keep letters because they leave a lasting impact that you can read again and again. it’s like sharing a little piece of yourself and your life.

Go write a note to someone you care about. Consider writing a thank you note to a customer and make a difference in your business.

The old model of focusing on industry and large business to bring jobs and build our economy is no longer working. We have a new model, but no one is paying attention to it and Northeast Missouri’s growth is being retarded. We could and should be doing better.

Traditionally all economic development in this region has been focused on industry and larger businesses. Because of this, much of what is being done is “top secret” and cannot be discussed. How many large businesses have been brought to Northeast Missouri in the last several years? The answer is none. That’s because our focus is wrong.

A more successful focus would be on small business growth and development. Small business is the foundation of our community and our country. Small businesses when properly attended to, can grow and develop into larger businesses that hire more people. Small business is easier to attract and easier to grow.

Owning a business of your own is part of the American Dream. Colleges and Universities are focusing more on entrepreneurship because of documented need throughout the country. Let’s be proactive and try something different – something that works.

The Provenance Project brought many artists/business people to this region. It’s been proven that a simple invitation is a powerful force. Artists are buying buildings, homes, and building their businesses, with no help from the city, county or economic development. Just think how much better each business could be if there was some place or someone they could go to and get information about incentives, training, incubators, loans and tax credits.

It’s time to refocus. To pay attention to the companies that have chosen to be in this region, to help them grow, and to encourage more small businesses start ups in Northeast Missouri.

Finally, I am also advocating for a more transparent process. If you’ve been to any chamber meetings you’ll have found that all economic development is “top secret” and can’t be discussed. Economic development affects every person in Northeast Missouri and our region deserves better accountability.

I just received another email that had a WORD document attached. When I opened the WORD document it had a few sentences that could have easily been put in the body of the email. It takes time to open attachments. Recipients might not have the program you sent the attachment in. I especially hate PowerPoint attachments because they take so long to open. I’m encouraging everyone to think just a little bit before they send an email or an attachment. Here are five easy tips:

1. Use the subject line. Make it informative and change it if the email’s topic changes.

2. Keep your emails brief. Research has shown that six sentences is a maximum. Get to the point.

3. Be kind. An email can be easily misunderstood. Take extra effort to be kind and say something friendly.

4. Provide contact information. This enables the recipient to call, email or check out your website.

5. Use a pdf, png or jpeg attachment format. They can be quickly opened and read by almost anyone.

We’re all being asked to do more in less time. Let’s make the world a little easier and communicate clearly.

It’s time to take a close hard look at your voice mail system. If you don’t have one – don’t worry. I think you’re actually in better shape than most companies with a voicemail system! How many times have you tried to call a business and got stuck in Voicemail Purgatory? Last week I called a local station that I call frequently. I have a new sales rep and could not get to him. The phone system was overloaded with calls and asked me to type in his last name. I had no idea how to spell his last name. I needed something right away and this was aggravating – and I know their system! Think of how a new customer would have felt dealing with this same issue.

This week call your own office and listen carefully. I’m sure there’s something you can do to make your voice mail system work better. Your customers should be able to reach you quickly and easily. Don’t ask them to go to a menu or type in your last name or call another phone number. It’s dumb. It stops you from making a sale and is poor customer service. Rethink your voicemail system and seriously consider a warm live voice instead of a machine.