With special thanks to Jonathan Fields:
Business ain’t just about business, it’s about life!
When my kids were growing up and I was staying busy with City Council meetings, volunteer activities for kids and community, as well as all the other daily things to do, I kept a “planner.” It helped me create lists, stay organized, and hopefully not forget something important like picking up a kid at 4-H.
The only extra lists I made was for trips to the grocery store. We lived over an hour’s drive from the supermarket so that list was important.
But times change.
The kids grow up. The activities revolve. More and more supposed-time-saving list keeping devices have been developed — cell phones, laptops, apps. And yet I seemed to be buried more than ever under lists.
Operating several internet businesses, without kids to take here and there, means I run around less and am tied more and more to the computer. You would think this would make it even easier to keep track of things with lists. There are all kinds of computer programs created just for that purpose.
I’ve tried them. They just don’t seem real.
And deleting a sentence on the computer doesn’t give much of a feeling of satisfaction. I know I’m behind the times but I like to see notes on paper. And that was the problem. As I became involved in more and more projects, there were more and more little pieces of paper with notes of things to remember, to look up, to do, and to create all over my desk. Occasionally, when I needed a note that I remembered writing, I would take the stack and sort them into neat little piles. This worked for awhile until they became all jumbled up once again into one big pile.
And then I had an idea. Not revolutionary by any means. Actually it goes back to the idea of that old “hold everything in one place” planner that I used when the kids were growing up.
I’ve never given up the bound daily calendar for each year. The latest is from Smithsonian and it works to keep me from forgetting that dentist appointment, a meeting, or other “get out of the house” events. I also keep a five-ring notebook for my marketing plans and calendar for the year. Otherwise, I would forget Valentine’s Day until a week or two before — much too late for marketing.
This year, however, I’ve created another book. It’s sitting on my desk in place of those piles of notes. It’s a binder also so that I can add and tear out pages so it’s constantly changing. But it has sections for notes on each of the many projects I’m working on.
There’s a section for the magazine that I publish–Gift Retailers Connection. There’s another section for the new website that I am creating to combine the magazine, the community, the vendors, the resources and everything else into one big website. There’s a section for Ebooks I want to write, articles I’m researching, new designs for my Ecommerce business, things I want to teach in my County Small Business Empowerment Class as well as for my workshop at CelebrateXpo in Vegas in August. There is a section for managing my Social Media marketing and SEO for all my many businesses and, of course, a very general “to do” list.
This book is becoming thicker as each day goes by. But the satisfaction of drawing a line through an item on my list or tearing out a page for a project that is completed is the ultimate in personal achievement and progress.
Are you a list maker? What works for you?
I’ve been watching this little guy for the past three years. He lives in our woodpile and ventures out to sun himself on a warm day, to eat, but most often to fill his pouch with seeds and acorns before scurrying off to add them to his winter stockpile. This little rock squirrel is a hard worker.
I call him “he” but he could be “she” just as well. He’s not much to look at when you compare him with the sleek beauty of the tree squirrels, with their long busy tails, but his work ethic would put most of us to shame. Last year, as the acorns fell from the big oaks in my back yard, he became a vacuum cleaner, sucking them into his cheeks until they looked like they could burst.
But this year was different. There were very few acorns on the oak trees for him to hoard. He had to change his plans if he were going to survive. So he turned to collecting seeds from the drying weeds and what few pine nuts he could salvage. Feeling sorry for him, I added dried corn, birdseed, and even vegetable peelings to the mix. It is going to be a tough winter for this hard worker but I suspect that changing his plans will increase his chances for survival.
Why am I telling you this story?
Just as unexpected changes have forced my friend, the ground squirrel to change his methods, events and even the changing markets and world can force us to change the way we do business. If you’ve been in business very long, you’ve seen changes in the economy and even in your own community.
Competition comes, goes, and returns, oftentimes in a different costume, but it is always there. The world has changed. The way people feel about giving gifts shifts through the year. And there is always the ever changing internet. It probably more than anything has affected the way many of us do business.
Whether you’re leaving behind a busy holiday season or are on the threshold of a new business, the New Year is the perfect time to Revisit — Review — Refocus — Renew while “letting your dreams soar.”
Of course, you can Revisit — Review — Refocus — Renew on your own but our January/February issue of Gift Retailers Connection online magazine has lots of ideas that can make it easier. If you’re involved in the gift industry in any way, this is a magazine that you shouldn’t be without. Subscribing is easy. And, oh yes, we include a bonus ebook of 2012 Holidays and Events with all subscriptions until February 15th. To subscribe, go to Gift Retailers Connection.
I received the following email the other day from a customer that I have been working with to send customized gifts each month to her college nephew.
” Joyce, You have a fabulous business concept. Please let me know if I can help you in any way to spread the word out here on the east coast about your business. Send me business cards if you’d like or let me know what you have found to work best to advertise. You’re so persanable to work with and that is what makes a business successful. Plus your responses to my emails and requests have been so timely. Let me know how I can help in any way.”
This email confirms one of the most important marketing concepts for any business — Let your customers know they are important to you.
And the way to do this is to NEVER TAKE ANY ONE for granted, listen to your customers. provide value in your products and service, and go above and beyond to make people feel like they are your only customer. Some business owners believe that this is hard to do with an internet business — but it isn’t.
The secret is simply to just be yourself and let your personality shine through with your website, your communication, and in everything you do. All too many of us try to mimic the “big boys”, the ones with lots of money to spend on website design, search engine optimization and communication services. As a result, we lose that special touch that makes us special.
But if we remember that we ARE our business, our business becomes unique because we are unique. You don’t have to be the biggest or the fanciest or the most well-known company to be successful. You just have to be the one who goes the extra mile to make every customer feel like they are your only customer.
“In the business world, the rear view mirror is always cleaner than the windshield.” Warren Buffet
As we grow our business, there are mixed emotions when we look back. We’ve usually done some things right and have usually made mistakes along the way.
Looking backwards through your business rear view mirror, what would you have done differently?