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Small Business

December 26, 2006

One thing many folks don’t seem to fully grasp is that if you want to be available, that is to say, if you want people to contact you, then you must allow spam in your life. I hate these Russian-originated stock quote spam emails as much as you, but it is a necessary evil in order that people can conveniently have an email address.

Often, I’ll see blog postings and various tech magazines give a list of dozens of ways to control spam. It is quite often more time-consuming and frustrating to implement those ideas than it is to just let spam take its course.

Posted in: Blogging & Small Business
November 29, 2006

FaxDigitsI’ve tried for a while to find a faxing service that will just let me get inbound faxes. The vast majority of online faxing services are tied to the idea that a user wants to send out faxes. Certainly, the biggest fax provider, eFax, is setup with this thinking. I’ve looked a few times and then got to busy to keep at it. But I think I found a good one.

All fax providers want to give you a “free trial”. I don’t know about you, but I hate free trials. Not that I’m smart enough to think of a better business model. But, nonetheless, I deplore free trials. But, they want to give you a free trial because many folks have still never sent a fax from their computer via modem, much less online. Once you see how it easy is, these companies hope you’ll sign up and start faxing everyone like a crazed loon.

Posted in: Small Business
July 22, 2006

Steve Pavlina has done it again with an almost outrageous article called 10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job that will be sure to infuriate some people. Yes, you know who you are. Granted, Steve makes a relatively small fortune (by some people’s standards) so maybe he is more comfortable saying what many of us think but are afraid to say.

Posted in: Small Business
May 16, 2006

If you aren’t using these seven tools, your business is run by fools. Okay, let me try that again. If you want to break some common sense rules, avoid these seven efficiency tools.

So I don’t have the poetic left-brain side up and running today. But, that isn’t why you read my articles. At least I hope you don’t. You could be in for some considerable disappointment. But, this list should be considered a must-have for a small business.

In fact, if you are interviewing for a new job, I’d check to make sure all these seven tools are in place and functional. If they aren’t, you may be working for a cheapskate, an incompetent, or an absentee owner. I’m not sure which is worse. The exception here would be if you are being hired to implement some or all of these tools.

Posted in: Small Business
April 14, 2006

Many businesses and organizations waste a lot of money staffing during non-productive hours. Worse, they almost always under staff during busy hours.

Download the attached Excel spreadsheet to start tracking the people coming into your place of business. I’m giving this away for free, but please don’t redistribute it under your own name. However, feel free to modify it for your own office’s use.

The log is ideal for determining office hours, staffing hours, etc. Generally, a front desk receptionist should be put in charge of the sheet. I recommend a minimum of two weeks of data before making any decisions based on the data. A two-month period is more ideal, however.

Posted in: Small Business
March 18, 2006

Wrote an article for another site of mine that I thought I’d share here. Sometimes a small business owner will think, even in 2006, that he or she does not need a website - at all. Here are ten very good reasons why that is never the case - assuming the goal of the business is to prosper and succeed.

“Nowadays a company without a Web site is in loser territory-out of touch.” - John C. Dvorak, PC Magazine columnist, June 5, 2006.

1. Competitive Pressure: Your competition has websites. While this alone may not drive every business decision, knowing what your competition is doing is a healthy part of self-evaluation. Do they know something you don’t? Have they or are they experiencing something you might not yet have realized?

Posted in: Website Design & Small Business
March 13, 2006

When I worked at Allstate, my first job in the insurance industry, they published something called the Agency Service Standards. Yes, we all made fun of the acronym, too. Anyway, the idea was to publish a set of guidelines that would create a sense of uniformity for customers should they visit different agencies. Like all good ideas, it eventually turned into a bureaucratic monster and we all half-expected them to tell us which way to part our hair.

However, they published some interesting stuff and I’ve kept this one for over a decade. Why? Because when I read it, I immediately noticed how true it was, not only in insurance, but retail and other businesses as well. What continues to amaze me is that in the past ten years I have not yet come across one business that takes this seriously. Here’s in part what Allstate said:

Posted in: Management & Small Business
March 11, 2006

I wrote this a while back for insurance agency owners, but it may equally apply to your business.

1. Track (religiously) anything that you want changed. Information is power - and not a burden to track when it helps you achieve your goals. If you don’t know, well then, you don’t know. And if it takes you 30 minutes to find out, you won’t access that information very frequently. The old saying is true: What gets tracked, gets done.

2. Don’t rely on your carriers to tell you how you are doing. You are always doing “great” or “terrible” in their eyes… but how are YOU really doing? Can you show it to me in writing in ten minutes with assurance? Can you do it again next week with correct and updated information?

Posted in: Small Business