Category: Overall Business Chat

The Best and Worst of creating your own business and/or being an entrepreneur.

Earlier I was reading an article where this person listed out the best and worst parts of being an entrepreneur. It made me think, as I have been a part of a start up business, I have a few 10 key pointers of the best and worst.

The BEST parts:

  1. You have a say in what goes down (like, policies – rules – hours – etc).
  2. You DO NOT have to clean up someone else’s mess. (Like, if you were a manager going in and cleaning up previous manager’s wrong doings. That sort of thing.)
  3. It’s not a corporate office, so dress and how you act isn’t acted upon with walking on nails around either your customers or other employees.
  4. No one really knows if something doesn’t work (only you and who you hired to work with you). You make it, break it and fix it and then make it work even better.
  5. Working around people who have a passion and possibly what you like to do.
  6. Doing what you like to be doing.
  7. Working with people you like.
  8. Location, being comfortable in office.
  9. Seeing the accomplishments of the store AND personal goals exceeded.
  10. Seeing the result in the end…knowing that we made it and it is successful.

The WORST parts:

  1. When you plan and things don’t go as smoothly as possible.
  2. Throwing yourself fully into the job and having to choose between work more for work or sacrifice personal life.
  3. Not having the time to do everything.
  4. Seeing numbers go down instead of up.
  5. Limited funds (buying more then selling).
  6. When things just don’t work out and you have to take another route. Or, when others change what you’re doing.
  7. Staying focused majority of days and being alarmed when the focus goes off one day.
  8. Interruptions due to less help or something of that nature.
  9. When people return items or comp service. (This is just the whole thing of not satisfying someone in the first place.)
  10. When creativity is a big part of your job and the designs don’t come out as expected, so it takes twice as long to create. Or, when you’re not in the mood to do it but it needs to be done.

This list is straight off the top of my head and I could probably name a whole lot more in each subject, but what do you guys think? If you’re an entrepreneur or small business owner, what are your worst and best parts of the experience?

A line or two of how to get on track of properly branding yourself, your company, and name.

While working on items/logos/graphics for the company I’m working for, I decided it was time to write something about branding.

Branding is a way of marketing and if you can’t market your brand correctly, then you’re pretty much going down fast.

A couple of weeks ago while coming up with plans on developing ideas further, I wrote down that we needed a tag line. One that will catch someone’s eye or make them sing a jingle in their heads that make them remember us. By accident, I came up with the tag line the other day while mapping out the sticker that I’m going to make for our boxes. It might be cheesy, but it’s completely smart and will make people remember us.

As I read a LOT of magazines, articles and watch a LOT of shows that talk about marketing, direct response, writing, business and law…all of which helps what I’m doing, I am taking note of the most important ideas and basing my “to do this” upon that.

To me, the logo must be nice enough to always keep and never change. People build trust, when something as small as the logo changes, then boom…your company has an issue.

Customer service is the biggest branding, ever. Treat your customers well. Let them have several ways of contacting you, and work deals with them. The more you help them get what they want, the more they’ll be coming back to you in the future. They might also suggest people to you.

Give out free items with your logo on it. Even though people may toss it aside after they’ve used it a while, it may help in the future.

While thinking of this, I keep thinking of branding myself. It’s difficult because I’m trying to focus on the work (our) business is doing but trying NOT to lose focus on my brand… even though I am doing that, sadly.

PITCHMEN ENTHUSIAST was supposed to be a brand a part of “Karen Maeby” representation, KAREN MAEBY [dot] COM was supposed to represent me as a whole and MAEBYS TREASURES is also a part of “Karen Maeby” representation but ONLY for selling items and eBay-focused business. Yes, I have a lot going on.

What I wanted to do with my brands?

I wanted this blog (PE) to be so business-focused and I wanted to be known for it. That hasn’t happened yet because I haven’t had the chance to write an entry every day and find lots of people’s business blogs to comment on. I wanted it to actually be focused on the direct response industry but then have topics of everything.

“Karen Maeby” brand was focused solely around writing and photography and anything artsy. I wanted people to KNOW me by my writing instantly and photos with my name on it has to speak poetry without the words. I put “Maeby” on my work because… (here we go with the tag line) ‘It’s never yes or no, it’s always Maeby’ or ‘Maeby, yes or no.’ No other one person has the name of Karen Maeby. People WILL remember that name because it’s unique. My work is also unique (only because I fight to do things difficult and the hard way but it always turns out the best). Not to mention, the whole pirate theme with me (21st century meets vintage/gypsy pirate /old soul). People will remember me if I am unique enough to the eye, mind and soul.

Maeby’s Treasures (which actually used to be ‘likemybooty’) – I changed because I wanted “Maeby” in the title. While my main site is pirate-themed, ‘treasures’ is also under that category, so it only makes sense. I want the unique part of my name on something that I’m selling so I can develop those customers and my brand.

Now that I’ve said all of that, I’ve found two fonts to represent me (one business, one fun). I’m making logos (or headers) and trying to stick with it. I’m trying to make schedule to keep writing, I will have business cards some time to promote. I already have a book out, all of my photography is out on sites with my name on it (and more to come), I am trying to develop more design with my name (like, sketches, clothing, etc) and other things. I already have a good base on eBay.

While helping build our brand for work, I’m trying to make following examples for my own stuff. It’s coming out good. I’ve redesigned the banner on this website, on KarenMaeby.com and I do have a new template/banner on my eBay one.

One step at a time….

The act of business success.

After making up our minds that we were moving to Florida back in the spring, I had an idea I would have liked my job search to go. I knew that I wanted to head for the direct response industry, or at least be near “the city of infomercials” here in Florida. It was a high interest for me, it is still a high interest for me and eventually, I will be writing commercials with/for some of my favorite people. However, it didn’t work out exactly to that – and you know what they say – we plan, God laughs. I was trying to plan where I’d like to be, then thrown off course, only to find some plans being written for me on the side… to pick back up where the empty space was making…empty space, so to speak.

But, in the meantime, I knew what I want and I knew that I would get it some how. Today, and the last few days, I have been given some news that could possibly change mine (and Dan’s) life for a good little while. I don’t really want to discuss any details upon private matters, not really open for discussion and keeping tightly sealed lips. With having said that, I can tell you that this is going to be a positive thing going forward in my career.

I have come to find out that waiting it out has paid off.

I already knew that… hard work pays off AND miracles don’t happen over night because it takes a good little few couple of YEARS to make the money wanted in a business. But, being very patient and believing and working hard.. yep, it pays off. Or, will pay off eventually.

I have always put faith in small businesses and love them above corporate. I’m 100% for little mom and pop shops and pushing to keep those alive in the 21st century, although they were fancier decades back. As you all know – I’ve been supporting entrepreneurship for a couple years now after having met some of the BEST people I know that works in that and the DR industry.

My love for the direct response industry and PITCHMEN alone has brought me up to speed with being ahead of a lot of people in business. Today, I was told that I was very smart in the business area. THAT makes me happy because I have 0 college degrees regarding business, and not only that, but I was music/English major in college… and I didn’t even finish college or leave with a degree. Sometimes, I wish I had a degree in English so I can professionally write, but, I do not at all regret not finishing school.

The DR industry is MORE than just a favorite thing. It is a part of me, it has helped me grow intelligently and I am very thankful that I do know quite a few people from there. It IS a passion.

When I watch Pitchmen or any other business show like that (Dragon’s Den, Shark Tank and even the Pawn Stars-type shows), I study them. I study what’s going on, how they presented it, the information given, what kind of a product, if it’s going to do any good, the business plan and what the ending result is. I watch everything and take note of it. People may assume I’m crazy just because I keep mentioning my favorite shows or ALWAYS watching it. Not only that, but, those shows are the motivation to keep me going and believing in what can happen. Hey, my favorites are MAKING IT because they “MADE IT” — so. can. I!

With every note I take, I become that much more knowledgable about the subject of ‘business’ overall – no matter the subject. I then know what to do or what not to do. That’s why I do business carefully, that’s why I like to break down all of the barriers and see everything. That’s why I question all that I do… and so on.

And, I have always kept my days of retail in the back of my mind as HUGE examples of “what not to do” – ever. It’s not about policy anymore, it’s about what the customer wants and what’s easier on them. Contact if there’s a problem and work it out to solve it. Simple, if you go about it the way you’re supposed to.

With all of that being said, there’s just a huge chance that I will be a part of something good and great and incoming in the near future. Like I said above, I don’t want to talk about it too much to jinx it…but, I have a feeling it’s going to be good and I will unfold it all here as I am allowed to.

I owe a huge simple thank you (for indirectly teaching me my now knowledge) to: {Billy Mays, RIP} – Sully, Arwen, John, AJ, Kevin, Terri, Tom, Tracy, Jen, Lou, Sug, Daymond, Becky, B3 — and EVERYONE ELSE of the Direct Response Industry (SulProd, Telebrands, TV Goods,etc.), entrepreneurs and small business owners. YOU GUYS ROCK and thank you for the support you all have shown me, as well.

Seth Godin’s entry “Skinnier” – Very Important Read

So many things that would have been money losers then can be profitable today.

When you run your own concert, selling tickets online and renting the theatre out yourself, you might be able to keep 85 cents of every dollar your audience spends on a ticket. In the system we grew up with, by the time the box office, Ticketmaster, the stagehands, the promoters and everyone else takes a cut, you might end up with literally nothing.

Or consider a hardcover book that costs $20. By the time the bookstore keeps half, the publisher keeps a share for the risk she takes, and don’t forget shipping and returns… there might only be $2 left for the author. With an ebook, the author might keep as much as $14 a copy… More if he hosts the store and sells it as a PDF.

A hairdresser with direct relationships with customers can give up the storefront location and make more money by charging less and cutting the hair in her home.

A newspaper can happily support a few reporters and an ad guy if it gives up the paper, the offices and the rest of the trappings.

Too often, we look at the new thing and demand to know how it supports the old thing. Perhaps, though, the question is, how does the new thing allow us to think skinnier. – SETH GODIN

 

The above text has been taken from Seth Godin’s blog – as quoted his full entry. The reason I’m posting the full entry here is because there wasn’t a way to just quote part of it, since it’s so important.

Everyone KNOWS all about the above paragraph….but life just goes on without stopping to really realize it. It’s just the way it is.

Knowing that I didn’t have the money to hire a publisher when I published my book, I did it for free in Amazon – Kindle store. They only take a small percentage of what I make. It cuts out the middle man, however, it also cuts out the majority of the world actually SEEING my book because I have no marketing team other than myself and… just me, myself and I can’t do it all.

I have always wanted to make it as an independent author – just for the fact that I wanted my money, the money I deserved because *I* wrote the book, *I* put the hard work into it. And, who knew, people still want actual books – therefore, selling a bunch of kindle copies is pretty much out of the question for the group of family and friends I’m associated with.

Unfortunately, it’ll be a while before I can do an actual paper or hardback book because it’s expensive to get the ISBN number. So, selling eBooks is my only way right now.

And also, right now, where I’m working is at someone’s house. He has a “storefront” — it’s called his own house. He does not pay for a shop, just mortgage or what have you. He uses Craigslist, I sell his stuff via eBay. What we rock out by selling or promoting is the jobs that we get or products that we sell. We’re saving money by taking advantage and being smart about it. We are also doing it right the first time, that way, we will hook those customers and they will keep coming back — as well as telling others about us.

In Seth Godin’s blog entry : when you really think about it, if you do cut out the middle man… you’re cutting a ton of people out of the picture and a lot of people will then lose jobs. We are all needed somehow, and we just need to make it work.

I’m also mainly partial to independent musicians, authors, artists and the entrepreneurs.  They do it all. They are the superhero men and women. They create, they market, they produce, they do everything to make their product become popular or sold or what have you. There are a few middle men involved, but, those are there for good measure — to make life a lot easier and better for one.

But, it only takes a certain group of people do all that. That’s why there’s that much needed middle ground where the middle man plays the part.

The world can’t work on creation or innovation without everyone’s help.

The Final Summary of Bettger’s “How I Raised Myself From Failure To Success in Selling”

I have to note that I haven’t finished a book in quite some time as fast as I did this one. Overall, in my opinion, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and extremely helpful (even coming from someone back in the early 1900s).

Let’s just mention that all of the ideas I wrote on, had some significance in my life and I could relate. Before getting into the final summary, I have to mention this:

He talked about Philadelphia – where most of the stories took place, anyway. He mentioned streets I had heard of, he mentioned The Bourse, which is totally one of my favorite places IN Philly. He mentioned two people that I greatly admire from history – Abraham Lincoln and Benjamin Franklin. He mentioned being in St Petersburg, FL (and that’s currently the area of where I’m at).

I learn the most and gain more from reading non-fiction. This is his advice about ‘selling’ – coming from his OWN personal failures or successes. He walked the steps and guides us in the right direction to find ours. I love this. It’s his story. It’s non-fiction. It’s fact.

He ended his book with Franklin’s Thirteen Subjects. He says to make your own thirteen subjects that you need to study, study one each week for thirteen weeks and wash/repeat until you become excellent in that area.

He taught us that no matter how the failure or failure after one another, to always pick yourself up and continue. To not be afraid of failing, to focus on what you need to learn to become better, to study your traits on how to become better. To just learn.

He wrote actual conversations he had or others had and demonstrated them to explain what he meant by each subjected chapter.

What else do you need?

Overall, just such an excellent book. Covers so much information but not enough to make you forget. He has nice little pointers at the end of each chapter and a large summary at the end of each part. It’s pretty much ‘hey, here is the pointers of which you need to focus on’.

Please grab a copy and read it when you can. My previous entries discuss further into some of the pointers in the chapters, if you’d like to read that for more information or for my input.

Thank you for reading!

More Bettger book talk: remembering names & faces, demonstrating and contacting customers after the sale.

I know I already have several entries dedicated to Bettger’s book, however, there will only be one more after this entry: the finalization of the entire book. I have to mention these two topics separately only because of recent events for the first one and the second one is very important to an industry that I have a deep passion about, here goes:

PLAYING THE NAME GAME. 

In chapter 22 – Bettger discusses the untidy event of forgetting someone’s name whilst meeting with them after a long period of time, or having just met them and struggling to remember their name. I have been in that position on both the receiving and giving end.

You see, I have just recently started a job – a temporary job, mind you – and after not having worked with more than one other person in the last past three years, it has been difficult to remember people’s names. I mean, wow; these people introduce themselves and I just can’t remember their names sometimes, even though I’ve been getting better at remembering. The more I see them, the more I do know their names. That’s on that end.

Today, I have been called everything but my own name (well, a correction of my name after a few names) and then.. I wasn’t even called by my name, when I asked the coworker next to me to get management, she told management ‘the cashier on this side needs –  – – – ” Ummmmm. WOW. First of all, I have a name and it’s not ‘the cashier on this side’. Them forgetting my name doesn’t hurt me, being called by ‘the cashier’ or something other than a name is offensive in some matter.

So, what’s in the psychology of remembering names or forgetting names? My possible reasons for not remembering names: a few of the people don’t have unique names so I don’t remember them as often and I don’t work with some of them more than once a week or barely by a default of a miss.

Their reason for maybe not remembering me: I look like someone they used to know (this has actually happened on MY side, everyone looks like someone from my past), it was just accidental, for the same reasons I gave, it’s just too busy and people become confused/distracted, or – since I’m just a temporary worker, they really DON’T need to remember my name. I’m nameless or faceless, just a person in passing after a month has gone by. Now, please don’t read me wrong, I’m not saying anything against anyone – it’s just the ‘way it is’ – sometimes.

What does Bettger have to say about learning names and faces, you ask? By three pointers, (1) impression, (2) repetition and (3) association.

(1) Impression. Get a clear impression of his name and face.

(2) Repetition. Repeat his name at short intervals.

(3) Association. Associate it with an action picture; if possible, include the person’s business.

Now, while these three pointers may just be dedicated to more of a professional business, such as selling or something like that, they are very good tips.

DEMONSTRATIONS. 

Bettger sums it up in three sentences: ‘One demonstration is worth more than a thousand words. If possible, let the customer perform the demonstration. Let the customer help you make the sale.’

Now, this is where my favorite part came in – and I’m really glad that he discussed this. While his book is mainly about selling insurance, I can relate this to a certain industry that I love.

It IS all about the pitch, but it IS all about the demonstration, too. If you have a faulty pitch AND demonstration, you’ve pretty much pulled the drain on your success. If you have a successful pitch and a faulty demonstration, the same, down the drain – and vice versa.

Now, let me use an example… back to the days of Billy Mays & Anthony Sullivan on Pitchmen. There was TWO demonstrations that was the mother of all demos. One being the impact gel product demo. In order to test how strong this product was, they put that over their hand and put it underneath a car to be run over. That is a mind-blowing demonstration. Next, on Pitchmen S2 – Sully was lit on fire to test the quality of Cold Fire. Of course, he survived and the product worked.

It’s all about how a product is demonstrated to a customer. Telling about something is one thing, while actually showing a customer how it works (and possibly allowing them to try it as well) is excellent.

REPEAT CUSTOMERS. 

Something else that Bettger touched on, that I really wanted to discuss, was repeat customer business. It might just be for professional type jobs like insurance, banking, clients, etc. but this is a good piece of advice, either way.

After a little while goes by, after you’ve sold that product, Bettger says why not keep their number and give them a call and check upon them in a few weeks or months. See if they need something else, or just to see how that product is working with them. Find it all out, ask questions. Bettger talked about how by doing this he (and others) have become great friends with his very own customers and even were suggested to their friends/family.

When I worked at Goodys, there wasn’t anything more that made me more excited than to see one of my favorite customers. I had several friendly faces that I talked to, and they’d come in every so often and it was most pleasant getting to catch up in my store. I had an email from one, phone numbers from a few – but unfortunately – for the best ones, I just relied on seeing them every so often and lost touch with them.

When I moved on from there to the mall, finding repeat customers wasn’t so fun. Not to mention, it was in a general airport – tourist-y like area, so you were lucky if you saw the same customer twice.

If I ever become a freelance writer, photographer, designer  -I know I would definitely keep my customers on file and contact them with discounts or something of that nature to continue that relationship. That’s not only good for repeat business but also to gain the confidence from them, so they can spread the word about how decent of a {professional} you are.

So, there you have it – three of my favorite “summaries” towards the second half of the end of the book. Next up: the final summary.

Bettger’s Top 11 Tips On: How To Make a Big Sale (insurance) & Part 2 and 3 Summary

If you didn’t read my part 1 review of this book, you should and you can here.

This entry won’t be much other than just a weebit of statements and pointers.

In chapter 8, I thought this was very important to make note of. Here is a list of eleven pointers on how Bettger made such a huge sale when he was selling insurance.

  1. MAKE APPOINTMENTS
  2. BE PREPARED
  3. WHAT IS THE KEY ISSUE?
  4. KEY WORD NOTES
  5. ASK QUESTIONS
  6. EXPLODE DYNAMITE
  7. AROUSE FEAR
  8. CREATE CONFIDENCE
  9. EXPRESS HONEST APPRECIATION OF YOUR LISTENER’S ABILITY
  10. ASSUME A CLOSE
  11. PUT *YOU* IN THE INTERVIEW

In the following chapters, he emphasizes on the asking questions method. Chapter 9 is a biggie on discussing asking questions.

Asking questions: helps avoid arguments, talking too much, enables you to figure out what they want, the idea becomes the opponents idea, finds the key issue and gives the other person a feeling of importance.

Chapter 10 states that we should find the basic need or the main point of interest and then stick to it.

Chapter 12 – Basically stating that in order to be able to turn someone’s mind around, you must dig around two reasons as to why the person doesn’t want your product. They could hide behind ‘I don’t need it’ or ‘it doesn’t really work’ but what’s really on his mind is something else, the real reason someone doesn’t want something. This could also work for two reasons for doing something.

Chapter 13 declares seven pointers: (1) finding out what the customer wants and helping him find it, (2) when you show him what he wants, he will find a way to get it, (3) ask questions ask questions ask questions, (4) finding the key issue (the point) and stick to it, (5) ask ‘why’, (6) find the real reason as to why he doesn’t want to fulfill the purchase, and finally (7) be a good listener – show attention, pay attention, give him appreciation.

PART THREE – pretty much discusses the ways to win and hold the confidence of others. (1) Create confidence, (2) Confidence in yourself, (3) Praise the competitors, (4) never exaggerate statements, (5) Bringing witnesses to the table, (6) look your best.

Mad Men – From the business prospect. (No spoilers!)

 

I just finished watching all four seasons of Mad Men on Netflix. This series is as much of an addiction as watching, well, a comedy such as Arrested Development (for some moments & comparisons this blog gives) — and also, the serious & other side of advertising/marketing/etc shows such as Pitchmen, Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den.

In Pitchmen, you got to see the scenes of direct response industry. The inventors, inventions and pieces of how it’s produced, pitched and put on TV to sell.

With Shark Tank and Dragon’s Den you see inventors and/or businessmen asking for the help to continue with their business. This only works out if the product is successful and if the sharks/dragons and businessmen/women come to an agreement.

Even though Mad Men is “fiction” – it’s still highly based on what it was like being in advertisement in the 1960s.

Having said that, the reason I fell so “in love” with this show is of the same reasons I did the other three shows mentioned above.

For one, Mad Men really delivers the 1960s and it was extremely interesting to see the lifestyle from back then. What’s even more interesting is what went on in the work place, that is DEFINITELY much, much different than today. There are so many more rules per every lenient back then.

On the business side, we got to see so much into how sales were made – or, I guess I should say – each ad’s ideas were created and client was brought on. It even shows what happens when there is a loss of a client. This just gives another insight to the industry that I eventually want to work in. I know it’s much different now than then, but still, having seen each end of all of these shows… it still shines to me.

I know that this is pretty short and without details – but I just don’t want to spoil anything for those who haven’t watched. It’s definitely a great show, for sure!

Business Start-Ups & Talk For Success

Reading this article about Bill Clinton talking about business start ups and maximizing sales by helping the already made companies, setting them up with successors so that the companies will be even more successful. That alone makes me think about my opinion about the now economy — and I want to throw my thoughts out there to you.

Here’s the thing: the economy still sucks pretty bad. There are even more people out of jobs, more than yesterday and probably double that tomorrow. Retail sales come and go in spurts, companies cut back in spurts: things seem to get better with sales but companies know how it can get, even if it’s better, and they’re too stingy to hire anymore people even when things seem… okay. There’s really no promise if things will get better or worse.

So, what are these people supposed to do without jobs to support their families? There’s only so much help one can get before being fed by the government and it stay that way…because things aren’t getting better.

Instead of just sitting around, how about coming up with your own company? If you are a truly smart person, have dead-on experience on whatever you have worked at — or if you have been doing something hobby-ish for a while, why not try it for a check?

I feel like this is the time for start up companies to start happening.

This is the time for the unemployed to come together and start a new revolution: entrepreneur leadership fighting the economy and winning.

It needs to happen. Something needs to happen.

Large corporate companies are the higher evil — we all support them, because if it’s retail (like Wal-Mart), they’re cheap and people will continue shopping there. Corporate companies are selfish and self involved – and unfortunately, we need them to keep going and running this world/economy/etc.

So, while the large companies shut their doors and close their gates to hiring people, they are also taking over and smaller businesses are falling downward…and they end up closing their doors by going bankrupt.

This is the new revolution. The start up revolution. If you can’t get hired by a company, you can’t be helped with government assistance (or that time has run out) — what are you left to do? Only one thing, start up something of your own.

My point is: this is the time for inventors to invent, small business owners to take ownership of their companies and make something big out of themselves and individuals come up with business plans that are going to rock this world…..because one of these days, this is how money will be generated and the world will have to look upon businesses made and run by entrepreneurs.