Tag Archives: tips and tricks

Tips, tricks and tweaks to help you think differently and cross-pollinate your strengths to become a better business-owner and person.

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

How To Develop A Mobile Mindset

When it comes to reaching your market, there all sorts of tried and tested methods available, with new ones making their way down the pipeline every month. We have the internet and assorted social media platforms, and we can reach our markets via  visual, audio, and textual content on various mobile devices.

With all the tools we have at our fingertips, it would be easy for businesses  to assume that they can continue as they’ve have been doing and they’ll be set  for the future, but that kind of thinking simply isn’t going to cut it.

We have increasingly found different ways to talk to each other and store, transmit, and share information.  The last 3 generations alone have witnessed the evolution of technology on an accelerated scale: from room-sized computing machines to tiny smartwatches, from vinyl records to digital music files, and from rotary telephones to smartphones that can also function as a mobile office.

We learned to think differently  with  the technology we have.
The word  “mobile” can just be taken to mean ‘movable.’ Agile. Portable.  Go back again to the evolution of tech:  desktops to laptops to tablets, rotary dial up, to cellphones, to smartphones…there’s a trend. Think smaller screen-space. Think lighter.

Now we need to think differently from the technology we have.
Being mobile friendly isn’t just resizing the screen for regular-sized computers and shrinking it down. It’s seeing and presenting information in a different way. The mindset here is a whole way of presenting interaction. And it is a mindset — you’ll have to consider being as clear and concise as you can be in the limited space you have to work with.

This is something that asks for design skills and contextual presentation. For example:  how much information can you present and still be understood? How can you make the move from big screen to small screen without losing your website’s branding?

New-think: You respond to changes, not merely react to them.
Technological advances and the internet helped use do certain things faster: communication and business have shown the biggest changes, and now the trend isn’t stopping. The impediment is not in the technology, but in the mindset of the people most in a position to leverage it for their own purposes, which in our case, are entrepreneurs and business owners.

We have our specific markets.  We have our ways to reach them, whether it’s ads, newsletter, RSS feeds or a website. And now the mobile trend is going strong and growing steadily. We can use this momentum to teach ourselves to think differently and move with the changes.
Continue reading How To Develop A Mobile Mindset

Take A Break From The Problem

At one point or another we all hit the stage when we become overwhelmed in stressful situations.  it’s like a wave breaks over us and we get sucked under. One new bit of information, one more request from out of nowhere, one more irritating phone call — something happens to add that final push… and we get pulled under.

Mentally,  we can fray or go foggy, which blankets our formerly clear vision. This mental static eats away at our ability to make productive choices, to make thoughtful decisions, and prioritize calmly.  Our plans to use our energy in constructive ways crumble, along with that energy. Poof!

Stress affects everyone differently.  Some may zombie-shuffle through basics tasks. Others may feel like they’re moving in circles, or spinning their wheels. Some people internalize their stress, others externalize it, and the effects either way ripple out.

Under stress, trying to put ‘first things first’ is like walking through a blizzard. When the stress really hits us,  we can’t see straight, or think calmly, or get our bearings.

Being overwhelmed drains our energy and our ability to think clearly, and  hamstrings our momentum. Whether the stress is chronic or acute, it can still overpower your ability to handle  things  well, and leave you feeling shaken and futile.

To  replenish your energy and somehow ‘go back to your regular program’,  you need to get a new perspective on the stress-full situation. To do that, you can walk away, you can do something else, or you can stop and do nothing. (Yes, nothing. Yet.)

 

One way of getting a new viewpoint is to mentally drop and walk away from the problem.  Done well, this is the mental equivalent of “Stop, drop and roll,” a good thing to do when you feel like your brain is toast.

Why walk away? When we are too close to something we are enmeshed with it. It is all we can think of, and all we see when we close our eyes.

We can’t think clearly and that contributes to the problem. We’re too close. We’re too close, and no wonder we can’t see anything else, or see clearly at all.

Think of it: When you’re standing too close to something, it blocks your way. You can’t see past it.  It dominates your field of vision. When you’re overburdened with tasks to complete, issues to resolve,  running low on energy or running hot from frequent demands for attention — it creates stress.
And stress makes it worse.

 

When we take a break from the problem and walk away , we can use the space we just made to shake things off and focus on other matters.

We can mentally push away from the pressing issue and allow ourselves some breathing room away from what’s bothering us. It can be as physical as pushing away from our desks and taking a minute to collect ourselves. What other ways can you disengage  from what’s troubling you?
Continue reading Take A Break From The Problem

Four Bits of Advice To Get Through Rough Times

Well, we haven’t done this in quite some time now, what with being so busy with multiple projects, and it’s nice to take advantage of slow moments and check in with one another — or at the very least, sit a spell and check in with ourselves. So….how have you been doing lately?

And please, don’t go with the generic, “Oh, fine. Well, so-so, same as everyone else. Could be worse.”
Or the “Woow, superbusy, doing everything, really, you know?”
Or the “Maaan, I’d love to chat, but I don’t have the time to share everything, gotta go.”
How are you doing, really?

Try to recall what happened just in the last 30 days. The year hasn’t been going well for many of us, if the news in anything to go by. Even if you try to avoid the broadcasts just to keep some sort of peaceful, low-key mental zone to rest in, there’s always the internet,with its breaking news, social media and minute-by-minute updates to tell us all about the bad things happening in the world.

Check the article trends in the headlines of your favorite portal sites. You may remember seeing topics like: top 10 mistakes in picking a college major, or how to make enough money to retire, or tips on being able to work long enough to do so.

Go on to the news sites, there are wars, natural disasters, epidemics, graft and corruption, protests, riots….it’s a wonder we can sleep restfully at all with all the madness happening around the world.

Then there’s your own internal strife. Business is going down, what are you going to do about it? There’s not enough time to do all the things you need, what do you do about that? There’s not enough of you to go around, if you could only clone yourself…

Your worries chase themselves in your head, like rats in a maze. Things are moving faster than any one person can understand or can handle, and the world feels like it’s breaking down. The pressure is insane. How do you elbow out some breathing room in all of that? Continue reading Four Bits of Advice To Get Through Rough Times

How to Develop Ideas Productively

The drive to keep things interesting is one core business strength which comes with the goal of providing value.

When you keep looking for new ways to re-tool old concepts and current ideas you keep your brain flexible, your attitudes keen and you keep apace with the changing tides. You can innovate, evolve and thrive. To do this you need to be open to ideas: in receiving them, in connecting them and in generating them. New ideas means new life for a business, and you have to keep them flowing to keep the business going.

The goal here is to produce ideas of real value. Brainstorming can capture a lot of ideas from out of the blue and squeeze them out under pressure, but you have to filter out the viable ones from the non-viable, then the practical from the impractical.

Now think in images with this next part: The general advice it to let ideas flow. Going with that in mind, if you have writer’s block, that means your fountain of creativity may have run dry of ideas, or is stopped up in some way, and the natural flow ideas has been blocked.

Mind-mapping is a wonderful way to jump-start stalled creativity. We are a visual race, and imagery is one of the best ways we can set our imagination running smoothly again. Leave the serious edit-writing afterwards when you want to summarize or clarify what you mind-mapped, but giving yourself permission to draw and use stimulating colors and mediums in the process can slip off the automatic censor that can keep our best ideas from coming to light.

The method here is a very personal disciplined freedom. Think of it as your personal code.

For example, you can use different colors to symbolize different ideas. Depending on what each color means to you, you can connect the colors to particular subjects in a way that is personal (green for money, for example, or orange for pending, purple for creative ideas, etc.) This helps tickle the neurons into making multiple connections. If music helps you think better, set up your playlist before you mind-map. Continue reading How to Develop Ideas Productively

How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Blog

Whose blog is it anyway?
Whether you have a blog on your professional website, or just a personal one that you maintain for yourself and a few interested readers, you should have a set of rules in place to handle negative comments and bad behavior. It’s your place: blog, journal or website, it’s your spot on the web, your home, your showcase.

Your place, your rules — which also means you also have to have rules, or else watch on the sidelines as anarchy takes over. Your blog is a place that invites comments and discussions — a comments policy helps prevent the nasties from defacing your work and ruining the conversations you want to happen.

Guests may comment — the purpose of a blog is to foster discussion after all — but people who post inflammatory, inane or vile stuff may as well have sprayed graffiti all over your walls.

This is where a comment policy comes in handy. Everyone comes in knowing the rules and those who don’t follow them can leave or be made to leave. Boors, trolls and asshats may be invited to tone it down or be forcibly booted out– this is the point where comment moderation and deletion comes in handy.

 

What is your SOP regarding comments on your website? Whatever rules you come up with, you have to make them clear,and visible.

 

Clear rules are important because you need strong protections to weed out the unwanted elements sure to wander in on your home space. And it’s not just the rude people you want gone, you also need to address the comments they leave behind: like nasty, spiteful ‘presents’ you’ll want to contain as soon as possible.

  • With no clear rules, chaos reigns.
  • You make the rules, you can’t expect people to follow them if you don’t enforce them.
  • You don’t follow your own rules, you’ve just eaten into your own authority.

It’s that simple. Now, what are unacceptable behaviors you won’t tolerate on your blog?  List them down and work on codifying them. Continue reading How To Handle Negative Comments On Your Blog

The Importance Of Reading The Fine Print

If you have an online business, you have a website. Most likely, you also have a blog, a mailing list, and a shop (with an associated shopping cart and payment processors) of some sort to showcase and sell your products and services. Your website data is hosted somewhere, you most likely have social media accounts, and an e-mail hosting and auto-responder service for your mailing list management needs.

  • What happens with one of those services if you violate your terms of service unwittingly? Or of you were reported for doing so?
  • What happens if the service suspect you of violating the Terms of Service because of “suspicious activity”?
  • How much trouble would you have if a part of your business, a part dependent on an outside provider, is suspended, terminated or locked?

 

“Terms of Service” don’t mean the text heavy pop-up you click on to get to the installation-proper, or finish the sign-up. TOS mean the fine print that sets the rules for you signing up to use a service or a program. Continue reading The Importance Of Reading The Fine Print

Too Much Tech? Ask Yourself These Questions To Control Technorrhea

06 December 2013, by A. Cedilla

Think about the communication structure in your life. To start off, how many devices do you use?

For the basics, a phone and a computer are all you need. Some smartphones can already act as a mini office-station for email and files. Laptops can go anywhere with you, and desktops can provide more options, like more processing power and being able to use 2-3 monitors at once.

And what about hybrids and entertainment devices? How about tablets, phablets, and readers? And music players and dedicated cameras? Take a moment to check just how many tech tools you own.

How do you manage all the tech you use? How do you manage the data you access? Lay it out:

  • How many platforms are present? How do you access data across platforms–just the cloud? How secure are your connections?
  • What systems do you use in storing and syncing data, and backing up the important bits? What about security?
  • How systematic are you in attending to your communication –in reading, responding and viewing? How much time do you spend?
  • How about maintaining the hardware: protecting it from surges, damage, dust, scratches and whatnot? What’s your update schedule?

 

The deeper issues here are easy to overlook because of the technical details and personal preferences involved. Keeping things separate for business or personal use can be messy as well –imagine the hours we do something other than what we intended to do*cough-Skyrim-cough* but in the end, when it comes to your devices:

  • Do they help make work easier?
  • Do they make you work more effectively?
  • Do they make more work for you?

Continue reading Too Much Tech? Ask Yourself These Questions To Control Technorrhea

7 Pointers To Boost Website Appeal

15 November 2013, by A. Cedilla

In our global virtual reality, your website is your presence on the net. You may have your picture in your “About” page, but the overall impression of you will be what the overall impression of your website leaves.

In connection with your chosen market, what they see will be who you are in their heads. Making your site look professional is only the first step to cementing images and impressions in the public eye of professionalism and trustworthiness.

Visitors, followers, members, customers are the lifeblood of any online business, and so it’s only SOP to watch the numbers connected to them: sign-up rates, opt-out rates, etc. If you notice that your readership’s dropping off, or your sign-up rates aren’t improving, it’s up to you to identify why it’s happening, and to think up things you can do to get more people to join your team.

Of course, you’ll need a professional website. A navigable, welcoming website.

Just like brick and mortar stores, there are places where you can spend hours just browsing, and then there are those that have you doing a fast in-and-out. And just like physical stores, you want more people to visit, to buy your stuff, to come back often and to look around. You want your business to keep going, you need to get interest, keep interest, and keep selling.

 

Don’t push. Lets face it, spam is like porn — you know it when you see it. And anything that even hints of spam — the pushy hard sell, the uh-maazing bonuses– can push people into taking one look and leaving a site. If you want a site that sells, it doesn’t have to scream that purpose out immediately. People don’t like being pushed.

Think of it this way. You have bookmarked favorite sites that appealed to you, right? They appealed to your need for information, and are probably smoothly designed for function and speedy loading, and they give you what you want without much fuss or asking for information. They’re easy to navigate, provide tons of fascinating information, and they function reliably.

Contrast this with busy websites that pull out all the stops to advertising, but leave you feeling overwhelmed with pop-ups, tricky drop-downs, and complicated navigation. Picking a favorite website takes more than clicking on the shiny — you have a favorite because you keep coming back to it.

Now flip it around, and this time you own the website. It’s not enough to provide bright colors or pretty moving ads. Your website is your platform for communication, promotion and enterprise on the internet. You have to step up your game to keep relevant to your market’s interests, and you can certainly do so by following the tips below. Continue reading 7 Pointers To Boost Website Appeal