Defining Good Work: Are You A Good Worker?

“What is the value of keeping on doing good work?”
It’s a simple question that has a lot of weight behind it. What’s good work anyway? What with all the promises and get-rich-quick schemes out there, all the hype and hoopla in marketing and advertising, all you need to push your products and services is to sell the sizzle, not the steak .  To answer the question you need to break it down.

“What is the value?”  – Assigning worth.
How much is your product or service worth to your audience, your customers, or your  market?

You may scoff at all those over-the top infomercials where people flap, flail, and screw up such simple actions like opening a jar, only to have Today’s Magical Doohicky save them for only three easy installments of 19.99 each —  but did you know that the infomercial market is worth billions? Yes. Those cheesy shows and demos are part of an industry and a very healthy market worth billions of dollars. Just because you can’t see it from where you’re sitting –probably on the couch– doesn’t mean the market isn’t flourishing, or relevant.

Informative link: The Economics of Infomercials

What’s more, the home-shopping and TV shopping market measures in the billions too. From cookware to jewelry cleaning, from skincare to household appliances, the home shopping industry is just another parallel market to internet commerce. For businesses selling products in both arenas, the similarities are many, and the work required to succeed is as demanding. You may just have passed one off as a silly series of hard-sell skits, but the market is there and it is huge. You just didn’t see it. Continue reading Defining Good Work: Are You A Good Worker?

The Case For Not Doing Everything

There are things you do as a matter of necessity when you run a business. Things like filing and paying business taxes, following up with clients, networking with peers, renewing licenses, ensuring your data is backed up and your website is running optimally, and so on.

Then there are things you do as a matter of preference. Stuff like checking email first thing, or scheduling calls at particular blocks of time,  or putting in brainstorming sessions in at a coffee-shop just to get out of the office mindset. Maybe you shifted to a dual monitor set-up, and it worked wonders with your coding, or perhaps you made your own hotkeys to save time on repetitive tasks.

Whatever tweaks or set-ups you make to make your life run more smoothly,  you  know you’re not alone in looking for the sweet spot. An entire industry has grown out of the productivity movement. Life-hacks, apps, methods — whether you use bullet journals, kanban,  the urgent/important  matrix, GTD — all of these things grew out of the need to determine and make the most productive use of our time. It’s our modern way to take control and make sense of all the stuff that goes on in our lives.

Not all methods work right on the first go though, which is why we can take a lot of time tailoring and testing them to fit our own needs and circumstances. Part of the problem stems from mixing up our goals with the various set-ups we use to get to them.

Helpful article: “Forget About Setting Goals. Focus on This Instead.”James Clear

Just as one size doesn’t fit all, chosen methods won’t mean squat if they don’t help make measurable positive changes in our work flow.  With testing and tweaking, we can use an assembly of specific practices swiped from various methods — as long as they work. And work well. Continue reading The Case For Not Doing Everything

Are You A Digital Hoarder?

Whether your business is big or small, there are some things that will remain the same:  One, in running it, you’ll need access  to a large amount of various information and electronic data. Two, you need help in staying on top of the data you already have and handle what keeps coming in. Three, you can have trouble getting rid of data that you don’t or can’t find useful.

Here’s the background to why even the thought of getting rid of things (including data) hurts, and a few suggestions on how to handle too much information. Continue reading Are You A Digital Hoarder?

Get Your Product Out The Door

When you’ve been an entrepreneur long enough, one thing is for sure:  you have to ship or die. Whatever product or service you offer, as long as there’s a viable market for it, you’re in business.

You stay in business as long as you keep producing or serving to meet the demand that identifies your particular market, whether it’s left-handed scissors, specialty wax seals, or antique car detailing. And if you truly are fully engaged with these things, and get to make a living out of that engagement, then more power to you.

There is a caveat, though.

“Follow your passion,” overlooks the goal of your work.
It’s easy to overlook that the root word of ‘passion‘ comes from the Latin for ‘suffering.’ Following your passion is easy to say; it’s just three words anyway, but the sentence doesn’t cover  what happens after, and that’s where many people stumble. Pipe dreams die easily when you apply hard logic to them, and for many who prefer the dream, they can come unprepared for the hard work of making it into a reality.

See, the hard part is that some parts of the dream won’t make it, so you need to let them go.

“Everyone has talent. What’s rare is the courage to follow it to the dark places where it leads.” – Erica Jong, author


Now, let’s take about productivity, and how it ties in to “ship or die.”

One idea  you have to learn to relinquish is the thought of a perfect product. If you have trouble releasing a product to face the public, have you ever really tried to answer the question, “When will it be good enough?” definitively? Do you have a protocol for bug fixes and releases, but have a habit of  being slow on the actual launching? Continue reading Get Your Product Out The Door

Top Tips To Getting New Customers

When you are faced with a jaded audience who’ve been informed of every scam on the planet, have been burned by bad customer service, and know horror stories of substandard products and service contracts from hell, what can you do to keep drumming up fresh business in the form of new customers?

You start with a clean slate.
Running an online business is hard work, and part of that is developing foresight and proactiveness. You think of the most possible and probable issues coming down the line and take the steps to prevent them from happening, or work to weaken their impact.

One way to do this is to treat each visit or customer interaction as a start to something good.  You can’t go into a business automatically distrusting the people you’re planning to serve — that’s crazy-making. Continue reading Top Tips To Getting New Customers

Marketing With Your Website

The hidden-in-plain-sight truth when you have an online business is that its survival is tied in with how good your marketing is. If you have a product but don’t have a market, your business will fail. If you have a good product and an eager market but fail to communicate the value of your product to your target audience, your business will fail.

Look at the role of your website in marketing: From an online perspective, your website’s goal is to help people find your business.  At the very least it should provide enough information for visitors to see the nature of your business and learn how to get in touch with you. And at the most basic level, your website has to offer information about your products in services in a way that will hook visitors into wanting more information — or guide them into taking action, whether it’s to sign up or make a purchase, something  that your site should also help them do easily.

You need to keep a constant eye on the following aspects of your website and its design, content, and security:
Continue reading Marketing With Your Website

Get Rid Of Red Tape

We all have our own war-stories about red tape and  bureaucracy, but  if you’re an entrepreneur or run your own business, have you ever stopped to think that you may also be a source? Factors that can contribute to red tape are unnecessarily complicated procedures,  unwarranted redundancies, and having too many people in control over too few points of control. Red tape drags on, and it is not limited to the government. Companies have red tape too, which means businesses aren’t immune.

“Red tape” is used to describe bureaucratic policies, procedures and forms that are “excessively complex and time-consuming” in nature.

The term comes from when  Henry VIII bombarded the Pope with around eighty petitions to annul his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, his first wife (In his lifetime, Henry had six wives, and Catherine was Henry’s older brother’s widow.) Anyway, the court documentation was collected and sealed  up in red ribbons, which was the custom at the time for official state documentation.

In time, people started using the term ‘red tape’ to describe slow, unnecessarily complicated, and time-consuming filing, forms, and procedures.

Turning the focus on your own work now, have you ever encountered problem in your work flow due to  ‘internal policies’ you follow in running your business? When was the last time you updated your procedures and protocols? Have you reviews your ops manual lately? Continue reading Get Rid Of Red Tape

Make It Real With Your Official Business Website

We’ve said it before, but it’s worth saying again until the thought sinks home — at least for the readers who are still-uncommitted and teetering on the fence about creating a business website of their own. If you think that you don’t need to have a business website, you’re not not doing all you can to help your business thrive.

The latest statistics say that there are over  900 billion – no mispelling, billion— websites on the internet.

According to another source , the top three reasons why many small businesses still don’t have a website are: (1) The business owner doesn’t believe that they need a website, (2) the cost of building and maintaining one, and (3) a lack of time.

This is understandable, from a particular vantage point. If you think you’re doing well, and will continue to do so  in the future, why change what’s working? Don’t rock the boat. Besides, better to funnel the money back  into the business and not to a website you don’t even need anyway, right? Especially when you’re too busy running the business in the first place to pay special attention to running and keeping a site.

We can’t force people to adapt to changes if they’re simply not ready or aren’t interested, but for those who are still thinking about it,  here are some important things you need to know that you may not  have been able to consider  from that particular vantage point.
Continue reading Make It Real With Your Official Business Website

Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you can get seriously hurt. News programs and entertainment programs often showcase the people who make the spotlight by not paying attention to what they’re doing and getting themselves into trouble. Check out the following videos for proof:

If you’re not paying attention, you’re depriving your  feedback system of half of its function. Say you’re busy refining your  marketing  program and you’re getting frustrated with the non-improvement in sales, or sign-ups. What does your data say?

Paying attention is part of the feedback cycle.  Feedback in this sense  is intimately tied to awareness because awareness demands paying attention and interpreting the information that comes in.

Navigation systems  and the code that runs them both undergo rigorous testing protocols to ensure that these machine are pin-point accurate and the codes run flawlessly.  Lives depend on getting the most accurate feedback possible, because the information is used to plot  — and navigate– the real life conditions of transport: airplanes and air traffic, ships and shipping lanes, cars. It works the same for businesses.

It’s remarkably easy to revert to surface-level thinking when you’re doing everyday activities — the demands on us habituate us to be hyper-vigilant about the new things that come in, and so all our attention goes to assessment and handling — not exactly to deep processing. When you’re deluged with incoming emails, phone calls, requests for your help, time, input and presence, sometimes it’s all you can do to just ‘go with the flow.’ Then, in what ever time you have left over, you try to recover. In the long run, this is an unsustainable  practice to keep doing to yourself.

In life, as in business and bingo, you have to actually be present to win. You win by being present and paying attention.
Continue reading Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

Back-Planning and Pre-Planning: Small Moves, Big Results

Think back to your childhood. Before going to bed, what did you do?  In getting up and getting ready for school, what did you do? What about preparing to eat? What about the chores you were given?

Maybe you didn’t like the rules that your parents laid down about school and nap-times, and clean-up and homework, and about eating your vegetable and picking up your toys when you were done playing. But all that training served a purpose: you were being taught to think ahead and prepare the things you need ahead of time.

You were shown a model of behavior to copy when you were young, so that when you grew older, you would know what to do and do it by yourself, on your own and of your own volition. Most importantly, you were shown that you can do things even if you don’t feel like doing them. This installed a sense of discipline, self-regulation, and self-care for you. And bringing that all together is the fact that all of it is meant to instill a sense of organization meant to help you throughout your life.

Why are you organized?
To get what you need when you need it– no scrabbling around, no going on an expedition to find it.
To move efficiently and effectively,  saving time, energy, and effort.
To have order in your life — and structure too.

When we talk about productivity, there are certain key areas which where we need to be clear about because of the challenges we face today: Continue reading Back-Planning and Pre-Planning: Small Moves, Big Results