Archive for March, 2008

My Favorite (Office) Things: Wireless Phone Headset

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When I first started coaching, I bought a telephone headset so that I could speak with clients while still taking notes.

Five years ago I graduated from a wired phone headset to a wireless phone headset… freedom at last!

Now when I speak with clients on the phone, or teach a teleclass, I can get up and move around. Not just around my office either: my cordless headset will reach all the way out to the mailbox, 165 feet from my telephone base!

My preferred model is the Jabra (GN Netcom) GN9350. I can talk for hours on one charge of the battery and the sound is crystal-clear. This is especially important for teleclasses, as the quality of the teleclass recording is directly related to the quality of the microphone on your headset. Plus, there is no static or interference from other computer or electrical equipment.

Shop around for these cordless phone headsets, as prices vary. Try a shopping comparison site, like Yahoo Shopping or Shopzilla, to compare prices and find well-rated vendors.

Also be aware that some phone headsets are for Internet-based (PC) phones only, so read the description carefully.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Great Copywriting Tips

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All small business owners need to learn good copywriting skills.

If you haven’t visited CopyBlogger yet, I strongly encourage you to do so…today!

CopyBlogger offers tips and tutorials on good copywriting. Their recent blog posting, Just Say No to These Three Enemies of Clear and Direct Writing, is a perfect example of what you’ll learn on this great blog. Sure, you may already know these writing tips, but the examples clarify good and bad writing habits.

(After reading CopyBlogger’s post, I feel like it’s time to re-write my entire site!)

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Category: Marketing, Website Planning
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Website Usability

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Website usability is all the rage these days. Why? Because if people can’t use your website, if it’s too cumbersome and confusing, they will leave (and go visit your competitor’s website!).

The United States government has gotten into the act — in a good way. Their usability website offers free advice on how to make a website usable.

The section entitled, “Research Based Guidelines” is arguably the best part of the site.

Check is out!

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Category: Website Planning

Coping With a Recession

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Whether we’re in a recession or not, the economy surely seems shaky right now. If things take a down-turn, how will you handle it for your business?

Now is the time to think strategically. Hasty decisions often lead to poor decisions for the long term health of your business. According to Wikipedia, there have been only four recessions since 1980, lasting from 6 months to 16 months.

Here are some tips on dealing with a recession for your business:

  • Cut costs, but only if it won’t harm you later. The first thing business owners think they must do it cut costs. But don’t cut costs or decrease prices now, if it will hamper your business later. Ask yourself: once the economy picks up again, will the cost I’m cutting or the price I’m reducing put me in a worse situation than I’m in right now?

  • Think sub-contractors. If you have employees, consider turning them into sub-contractors. This will help you avoid paying additional employment taxes and benefits. However, the IRS is very strict about the definition of an employee versus a sub-contractor (they call them ‘independent contractors’), so check their rules here.

  • Get out there and shine. This seems counter-intuitive, but now may be the time to increase your marketing; hard economic times may cause your competition to disappear, leaving the field wide open for you.

  • Take the long view. Remember, marketing is a marathon, not a sprint. You should have been doing (and keep doing) marketing every month, month in and month out, not stopping and starting on a whim.

  • Choose your marketing techniques wisely. You should have been tracking, historically, which techniques bring you the most business. Reduce or eliminate those marketing techniques that aren’t paying off for you, or fix them so that they do increase leads and sales.

  • Renovate your marketing tools. For those marketing techniques that are working for you, this might be the time to revamp your marketing tools. Does your website need a facelift? Do you need to offer some new freebies to entice people to look more closely at your products or services? Do you need to change the way you phrase things when you are selling to your customers and closing the deal?

  • Automate wherever you can. Find ways to automate any tasks to reduce the workload on yourself and your staff. What have you been doing manually that a computer system can do for you? Take a look at all your daily tasks and see if there is a computer solution to these time-wasters.

  • Spend your time on what really matters. Consider hiring a virtual assistant or a technology consultant to help you with routine administrative, marketing and website tasks, so that you can use all your time to focus on marketing and delivering your product or service. Decide on the task that you are BEST at, ones that will directly increase your income, and delegate the rest. If you can earn more per hour than it costs you to hire help, then it’s a good use of your time and money to delegate tasks.

  • Make do and mend. Because raw materials were in short supply during World War II, people were encouraged to “make do and mend” an item instead of simply replacing it. Consider your own expenditures: do you really need a new computer, or could you somehow upgrade your existing one for less money? Do you need a new telephone or can you get by with the old one for a while longer?

  • Reduce inventories. If you sell a product, and you believe your sales are going to decrease, this might be a good idea to reduce inventories and not restock to the same level. This is a risky strategy (what if the recession only lasts 6 months?), so be sure you know exactly how long it will take to replenish inventories once the economy picks back up.

Now is the time to begin thinking about what you’ll do if the economy affects your business. It doesn’t matter if we are in a recession now or not. Economies, by their very nature, are cyclical, and you will face lean times and booming times in the future. It’s important that you have a plan for dealing with all types of economic realities.

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Category: Business Strategy & Planning
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