I recently read a quote attributed to novelist Will Self that reads “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Self, having suffered through recall of ideas I thought I would remember. If you are an individual with a voracious aptitude for generating ideas, consider starting an idea journal. It may be an idea on how to prepare a meal better, to improve a process, for a business product, starting a business or writing a short story or novel. There is no limit to the number and types of ideas that you generate. Some will be zany, some will be brilliant, some half-baked; it doesn’t really matter as long as you capture the moment for yourself. For 2016, my mantra is “freeing ideas onto paper,” and here are three reasons I encourage you to do the same:
Brainstorm at your pace. In most instances, journal writing is a daily practice. But let’s be real, ideas and thoughts shouldn’t be forced but more organic and intuitive born. When you journal ideas, you have the ability to brainstorm and more fully develop the idea as you think through it over time. Having an idea journal allows you the convenience to revisit your thoughts and make revisions or move in a completely different direction.
May inspire future action. Timing is everything. Just because an idea manifests into your consciousness doesn’t mean that it’s time to take immediate action (or take action at all). However, if write it down, it may be the catalyst you need when the opportunity presents itself for you to act.
Shows the power of potential. When life takes a turn, it can be challenging to find your bearing. With a bevy of written ideas, it can serve as a go-to source and reminder of potential for past creativity and inventiveness to give you that boost you need to continue moving forward.
Now that you realize there is value in writing your ideas through a journal process, the next step is to take action. There are many ways that you can journal, you can write it in a physical or online journal (my favorite is a journal book), audio record, or videotape yourself. All of these options can be found using pre-installed apps on your smartphone, like Notes, Voice Recorder, and Camera video feature. And if you audio record or video tape, consider hiring a transcriptionist to turn your verbal thoughts into words onto paper.
The point is to pick what works best for your lifestyle and just begin. The best way that you can endeavor to free your ideas and own your magnificence is to begin somewhere other than your memory, and what better way than in your own written words.
Efficiency and effectiveness are key strategies for entrepreneurs and small business owners. There is little time, often tight financial resources, but lots to get done. That is why when working recently with a real estate business owner to manage client communication, I sought out a way to use Gmail more effectively for initial communications, and wanted to pass along for those still building their lists and not using CRM or auto responder systems, as of yet.
If you are initially responding to your clients with the same message, why not set up Gmail email template. This will save you time from looking for an old response and doing a copy and paste each time. It is very simple to do; took me less than five minutes and became a great time saver. And the even better thing about this is its absolutely FREE.
So here are the steps.
1. Open your Gmail Account.
2. Access the “Settings” option (looks like a gear symbol in top right left).
3. Click on the “Labs” option on menu banner.
4. Scroll to “Canned Responses” and select “enable.”
5. Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page; Gmail will reload.
6. Compose a message as you normally would. However, this time, select “more options” located in the bottom right and click “New canned response” from a drop-down list, and give the response a unique identifier that you’ll remember.
7. Type (or cut and paste) the text into the email message leaving the “To” field empty. You can add a Title into the “Subject” field and it should save.
8. Save as a canned response and exit out of message.
9. To use, click “Compose” and a regular message will appear. To access the appropriate canned response, go to the menu option identified by an arrow in the bottom right and select “Canned Response” and pick the appropriate response.
Having a solid grasp and understanding of information is a key element for achieving business success. In today’s guest post, Heridev Business Solutions offers insight on the importance of tracking and interpreting business data for the entrepreneur, home-based and small business owners.
It was 3 pm and Susan’s Sandwich Shop was closed for the day. The staff was gone and the proprietor, Joan, was planning an early departure too to spend the evening with her daughter after whom she named the shop. It was a slow day as there were no throngs of office workers and students lining up for the inexpensive gourmet sandwiches.
As Joan checked off the receipts from the point of sale machine that was leased when she opened the business four years ago, she noticed that something else was also very different. The sales were a quarter of the regular daily intake.
While reviewing the cash and card receipts, Joan wondered if her plan to close all weekend was the right one. So as to soothe that nagging fear, she decided to look at the sales history for the past two years around the Easter and Passover holidays. She also pulled up her bank statements for the same time last year.
Upon viewing the historical data, the proprietor became less worried as it was apparent that the numbers were typical for the shop during those holiday seasons. Whew, what a relief.
Like Joan, many small business owners have invested in technology and software that store a lot of historical data about their business’ sales, purchases and performance. For some of these entrepreneurs, this data can be found in point of sale systems and for others it is in their accounting software. Even the shoeboxes filled with receipts and invoices hold valuable information that, if analyzed, can help the entrepreneur to make better business decisions.
Data Efficiency and Interpretation
What though is the most efficient way to capture information? Automated systems are able to produce detailed reports quickly which is why Joan was able to see the numbers for a three year period within a few seconds and make the necessary comparisons. Automation also improves efficiency by recording and tracking information about sales, customers, purchases, returns, etc. that, if done manually, would take hours to complete. ZDNet, the business technology news website, opines that obtaining a good point of sales system is a worthwhile investment for small retailers and restaurants.
However, data by itself is of little value to the entrepreneur if it is not interpreted to identify relevant trends and patterns. If she wishes to, Joan can easily identify her best selling items for the past four years. She can also effortlessly know which product is the cash cow for the business based on data from the sales margins report.
The small business magazine Chron argues that it is critical for small businesses to analyze the information that is available to them so that they can use it to react to changes in consumer preferences and adjust their strategies in response to the opportunities and threats that are present in the external environment.
Information is a vital resource for any entrepreneur and technology makes it easy to harness and use the data gathered. So then, what will you do with your business data today?
For entrepreneurs and small business owners working to establish their professional network, visibility and influence, it is important to consider how you want to project your image and company brand as an expert or niche specialist. You have probably heard or read repeatedly about creating your elevator pitch, networking, getting a mentor, doing local speaking gigs and putting yourself out there as an expert. These are all great suggestions and ones that really should be followed. However, taking the initiative to accomplish these things does not always come naturally. So where do you really start?
Start with making sure you are relatable. Why? Because people make connections with people, not obscure objects and things. When you think of someone who inspires you, it was probably because you connected with them on some level. And one way you probably connected was through a story that showed humanness, shared a similar experience, or piqued an emotion of empathy. Have you ever had an experience where you did not quite care for someone but then you learned of a story in which they overcame some adversity, and then you saw the person in a different light and they actually became tolerable or you began to like them? For me, I like to hear people’s stories. I like to know what motivates, inspires and encourages them towards success because those stories serve as motivation for me to stay the course and never give up.
The good thing about considering this type of strategy is that we all have a story or aspects of a personal story that can be appropriately shared in a professional manner without over sharing. Doing so with sincerity can help to build your influence while promoting and growing your business and personal and professional brands. To provide some context for my point, consider reading this article by Rebecca Goldsmith of C-Level Stories who provides a six-step do-it-yourself process for preparing to share your story.
Remember, you are your first best brand ambassador. No one can market you better than you can. Get comfortable with your story of courage, conviction, hustle or failure. It will be the the little things in your story that show character and humility and that will draw people closer to you.
As I’m always scouring for interesting opportunities to encourage blogging, I recently stumbled upon Bloglovin, a marketplace for any and all types of blogs housed in a central place. You basically link your blog to bloglovin and you can follow any blog on their site and receive a feed through them. No more individual notices of updated blog posts. And with the Internet, there are so many different types of blogs on every topic imaginable. This is an easy way to stay abreast of what’s popular or unique and interesting. May even offer you some ideas for your own blog posts. I’m sure there has been no niche left behind but you could go see for yourself and then start your own niche blog to link to bloglovin. There is even a mobile app for iphone, Android and ipad to make it even more convenient for those always on the go. But hey, don’t trust me. Go over to bloglovin and see for yourself at http://www.bloglovin.com/.
If you are a busy executive or even a solopreneur, someone else is probably managing the blogging process for you (hopefully as part of a larger social media strategy). In a corporate environment, that may be the communications department. For a small business, it may be a marketing intern. Regardless of who is doing the blogging, what is most essential is to ensure well written, timely and relevant content and ensure that it factors into the company’s image and brand. The worst thing that could happen is for a story to be posted that is offensive, rude, off topic, or not remotely reflective of the organization’s culture. So here are a few administrative things to consider:
- What is Your Approval Process? Will blog posts be made blindly or is there an approval process to review content before posting? Is there a communications plan or strategy in place that aligns to the larger corporate goals. If so, blog posts should relate to the bigger picture and create value that furthers the business goals.
- Will the Boss Be Pleased? It’s easy and oftentimes natural for a writer to be clever in their writing, but does the tone of the blog posts reflect the culture of the organization? Would the boss be pleased or embarrassed? Maybe in a small organization, it is easy to run blog posts by the boss, but in a larger organization, be mindful that what is written about the company is a reflection of the person most visible in the company.
- Is There Regular and Consistent Content? Whenever you read an article about blogging (or social media period), you will constantly hear about good content. That’s because you have to give people good information if you want them to visit often. One way to do that is to publish regularly and consistently. If your goal is once a week on Friday, make sure you stick to the schedule because your followers become accustomed to reading, especially if the content is good. For instance, I remember looking forward to a newsletter / blog posts from a humorous entertainment update each Friday before I left work. I had accustomed to reading the stories and winding my day down for the weekend and would purposefully seek it out in my email. When I couldn’t find it, well, I was a lot disappointed. You never know when your content is appealing to someone and they are looking forward to the updates. It’s easier for them when they know when to expect your information.
In conclusion, creating a blog can be a useful tool for sharing company news, marketing a product, or engaging a target audience. But one key factor for blogging is determining whether this type of resource fits into the company’s business model. It is easy to decide to start a blog and even easier to create a professionally designed site that is appealing and informative. The challenge becomes monitoring the activity, frequency and content of the blog to ensure the best value to the company’s bottom line results.