Who’s Minding The Store?

Posted by

After I got out of the hot tub at 8:30 the one night, I noticed the water level was a little low. Since the hot tub is on the patio, it’s easy to refill right from the outside hose.

So I dutifully trotted over to the hose, dragged it to the hot tub, and started topping it up. It takes a long time for the hot tub to fill, so I left it running and went inside to watch an old movie.

At 10:30 PM, I poked my head outside to call the cat for its dinner. Yikes! The hot tub was over-flowing!

So there I was in my soaking-wet pajamas, bucket in hand, bailing out the hot tub at 10:30 at night. All I can say is thank goodness I live in the countryside; the only ones laughing at my escapades were the skunks and the possums.

I find when I do something really, really stupid, it often has a bigger message. After I dried myself off, I asked myself, “What is this trying to tell me?”

The pattern I found, not just for myself but for a surprisingly large percentage of my clients that week, was that we were all ignoring the basic watch-dogging that needs to happen when you run a business. Things like balancing checkbooks, looking at monthly profit-and-loss statements, reviewing website statistics, planning for marketing campaigns – we were too busy with what was happening “in the moment” to pay attention to business basics.

There’s nothing wrong with being present in the moment. In fact, it’s quite enjoyable to be full present and conscious to what you are doing. As a small business owner, you also need to be paying attention to the future, while simultaneously looking at the bottom line statistics that tell you how you are doing. It’s a lot of hats to juggle, but not paying attention to all these details can be fatal to your business.

So what’s a business owner to do? Find some way to remind yourself of upcoming events and monthly tracking. I created a two-fold system for myself.

  • First, I put a monthly recurring appointment in my Outlook calendar to look at my finances and statistics.
  • Second, I write out all the steps to a project, from concept creation to marketing, and keep that checklist handy so that bits of the project don’t get lost in the zeal of creation.

I also share this project plan with my team so that they can help keep me on track.

Don’t wait until you spring a leak to discover that you aren’t paying attention to all the details. Write them down and refer to your list often so that you can stay on top of things.

And never leave a hose running into a hot tub. It’s a sure-fire setup to a night of bailing out water!

Comments Off on Who’s Minding The Store? for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning
Tags: , , , ,

The Imposter Syndrome

Posted by


Do you feel like a fake? Are you waiting for the day that someone will discover that all your success was brought about by luck?

You’re not alone.

According to this article in Inc. Magazine, as many as 70% of all people feel like a fake at some time. Back in the 1970’s, psychologists studied this phenomenon, dubbed “The Imposter Syndrome.”

The Imposter Syndrome is divided into three sub-categories:

  • Feeling like a fake
  • Attributing success to luck
  • Discounting and downplaying success

And it isn’t just new entrepreneurs that feel this way. According to this article from CalTech, it’s the high-achievers and the already-successful who suffer the most. The CalTech article goes on to discuss ways you can overcome your Imposter Feelings.

This topic came up recently at one of my mastermind group meetings. A mastermind participant, a highly-successful and sought-after author and entrepreneur, said she was just waiting for someone to discover that she didn’t know anything, really, about her topic because she didn’t have a Ph.D. (although she’s written three books on the topic, has studied it for over 10 years, has major sponsorship endorsements from large corporations, and an education and product line to go along with the books). Her worst fear: that some interviewer will ask, “Who are YOU to write about this topic??”

In the end analysis, a reality-check is in order. Have you accomplished things because of your intellect, your creativity, your tenacity, your heart? For every failure you’ve had, haven’t you also had an equal success?

Each day, when you catch yourself in the bad habit of moaning about everything that went wrong, reach for “balance” and remind yourself of all the things you did right. And when you have a big success, reward yourself and celebrate this wonderful moment!

3 comments for now



Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time
Tags: , , , , , ,

Who Owns Your Website?

Posted by

Recently I heard a story that bears repeating:

Several years ago, a well-established company had hired a website designer to create their website for them. After working with this graphic artist for several years, they decided to move to a new graphic artist (my colleague). At the same time, they decided to move to a new hosting company, so they simply copied their website files from the old hosting company and moved them to the new hosting company. After all, they owned the website, didn’t they?

The surprising answer is No. Since the previous graphic artist  and the client didn’t have a “work for hire” written agreement, many courts would say that the previous website designer (not the client) still owned the work. And “work for hire” agreements might not cover the copyright complications of both the graphics work done on behalf of the client, and the software coding work done.

It would seem to me that a fair resolution to this type of case would be to use the assumption that the website designer was doing work for you, and therefore you own the work. In the legal world, this may not be the case, as websites include both graphic work and software coding work. These two types of work are protected differently under copyright law.

You can read more about this type of situation here:

“Who Owns Your Web Site Anyway? The Surprising Truth…”

If you’ve hired a website designer to design your site, check your written contract. Make sure it clearly states that YOU own the website upon full payment to the designer. If you never had a written agreement with your designer (or if your current agreement does not have this clause in it), it’s time to re-negotiate with your designer. Get it in writing. This is no time for verbal agreements.

When we ran a website design firm, our Passion For Business website design contracts clearly stated that the client owned the copyrights to the work we did for them. There are a few places where this may not apply: if you purchase stock photography or graphics for your site, then the original artist owns the copyright, and if you purchase a theme (like a WordPress theme), the theme designer still owns the copyright to their design work. Most stock photo and theme websites will grant you a license to use the photo/artwork, but will not give you the full copyright to the work. (This is also the case if you use plugins for your site/blog. The original designer/coder of those retains the copyright.)

If you feel awkward or embarrassed to speak with your website designer and ask for this in writing, then you are putting your business success in jeopardy. Don’t delay. Take care of this immediately.

What happened to my colleague in the above situation? She had to completely re-design her client’s website to comply with copyright law. It was good news for her: a nice revenue stream and a new, ongoing graphic design relationship with the client. It was bad news for the client: they had to pay for a brand new website design or risk being sued by the previous graphic designer. In the end, the client got a better website than they had before, but at the cost of a lot of time, money and frustration.

Read the companion blog post: Has Your Website Designer Disappeared? for tips on what information you need to get from your website designer to protect your website.

14 comments for now



Category: Website Planning
Tags: , , ,

Coping With a Recession

Posted by

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.

Comments Off on Coping With a Recession for now



Category: Business Strategy & Planning
Tags: , ,