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Life Matters

 
Life begins at the end of your comfort zone. #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship

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 From the Book:
 
Talent Is Never Enough
by
John Maxwell
 
RELATIONSHIPS INFLUENCE YOUR TALENT
 
I think many people mistakenly minimize the impact that other people can have on their lives.  Almost all our sorrows can be traced to relationships with the wrong people and our joys to relationship with the right people.
 
The relationships in our lives really do make or break us.  They either lift us up or take us down.  They add, or they subtract.  They help give us energy, or they take it away.
 
Critics=constantly complain or give unwanted advice.
 
Martyrs=are forever the victim and wracked with self-pity.
 
Wet Blankets=are pessimistic and habitually negative.
 
Steamrollers=are blindly insensitive to others.
 
Gossips=spread rumors and leak secrets.
 
Control Freaks=are unable to let go and let things be.
 
Backstabbers=are two-faced.
 
Green-eyed monsters=seethe with envy.
 
Volcanoes=build steam and are always ready to erupt.
 
Some relationships add to us:
 
Believe in your dreams.
 
Share your joys.
 
Dry your tears.
 
Give you hope.
 
Comfort your hurts.
 
Listens.
 
Laughs with you.
 
To show you a better way.
 
To tell you the truth.
 
To encourage you.
 
Who else can do that for you?
 
That's what friends are for.
 
Positive relationships take us to a higher level.  They encourage us and bring out the best in us. They make us better then we otherwise would be without them.  They are some of life's greatest gifts. 
 
My family=best moments
 
Creative People=unleash creativity in us.
 
Successful People=love to hear their stories.
 
Encouraging People=encouragement is like oxygen to your soul.
 
Fun People=laughter lifts your spirit.
 
Good Thinkers=conversations with them is uplifting.
 
Learners=interested people are interesting people.
 
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TALENT IS A GIFT-CHARACTER IS A CHOICE
 
If you want it, you must develop it.
 
1.  Don't Give Up or Give In to Adversity
 
It takes character to weather life's storms.  At the same time adversity develops character.  Anyone who does what he must only when he is in the mood or when it is convenient isn't going to develop his talent or become successful.  The core foundation of character is doing what you don't want to do to get what you want.  It is paying a higher price than you wanted to for something worthwhile.  It is standing up for your principles when you know someone is going to try to knock you down.  Every time you face adversity and come through it with your core values affirmed and your integrity intact, your character becomes stronger. Don't give up in the midst of a storm.  Don't bail out in the middle of conflict.  Wait until the trouble is behind you before assessing whether it's time to change course or stop.  Do that, and you may have additional opportunities to develop your talent.
 
2.  Do the Right Thing
 
Doing the right thing doesn't come naturally to any of us.  People of character do what is right regardless of the situation.  It's not easy to do the right thing when no one but you will know.  But it's those moments that a person's character becomes strong.
 
3.  Take Control of Your Life
 
It's true that in life we must face many things outside our control.  But know this: while your circumstances are beyond your control, your character is not.  Your character is always your choice.  People can no sooner blame their character on their circumstances than they can blame their looks on the mirror.  Developing character is your personal responsibility.  It cannot be given to you; you must earn it.  Commit yourself to its development because it will protect your talent.
 
You have God-given talent; develop it.  You have opportunity before you; pursue it.  You have a future that is bright; look forward to it.  But above all else, you have the potential to become a person of character; follow through with it.  Character, more than anything else, will make you a talent-plus person.  It will protect everything in your life that you hold dear.
 
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CHARACTER COMMUNICATES
 
The choice to develop strong character may not be the most important one to make the most of your talent.  But it is certainly the most important to make sure you don't make the least of your talent.  Character creates a foundation upon which the structure of your talent, and your life can build.  If there are cracks in that  foundation, you cannot build much.  That's why you must first develop within before you can achieve much without.  But once you build strong character, it does more than provide a platform for your personal success and the maximization of your talent.  It also impacts others and allows you to build with them.  It does that through what it communicates to people:
 
1.  Character Communicates Consistency
 
Character shows that who you are and who you appear to be are one and the same,  and that is the first key to greatness.
 
2.  Character Communicates Choices
 
Our character today is the result of our choices yesterday.  Our character tomorrow will be a result of our choices today.  To change your character, change your choices.  Day by day, what you think, what you choose, and what you do is who you become.
 
3.  Character Communicates Influence
 
Today, many people try to demand respect.  They believe that influence should be granted to them simply because they have position, wealth, or recognition.  However, respect and influence must be earned over time, and they are built and sustained by character.
 
4.  Character Communicates Longevity
 
If you want to know how long it will take to get to the top, consult a calendar.  If you want to know how long it can take to fall to the bottom, try a stopwatch.  Character determines which will happen.  Dreams become shattered, possibilities are lost, organizations crumble, and people are hurt when a person doesn't have character protecting his talent.  Character provides the opportunity for longevity in any career, any relationship, and any worthwhile goal.
 
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CHARACTER PROTECTS YOUR TALENT
 
Many people with talent make it into the limelight, but the ones who have neglected to develop strong character rarely stay there long.  Absence of strong character eventually topples talent.  Why?  Because people cannot climb beyond the limitations of their character.  Talented people are sometimes tempted to take shortcuts.  Character prevents that.  Talented people may feel superior and expect special privileges.  Character helps them to know better.  Talented people are praised for what others see them build.  Character builds what's inside them.  Talented people have the potential to be difference makers.  Character makes a difference in them.  Talented people are often a gift to the world.  Character protects that gift.
 
When it comes to talent, everything is not always as it seems to the casual observer.  Sometimes what appears to be a huge success isn't.  And in time the truth comes out.
 
FOUR ELEMENTS OF CHARACTER
 
1.  Self-Discipline
 
Self-discipline is the ability to do what is right even when you don't feel like doing it.
 
2.  Core Values
 
Our core values are the principles we live by every day.  They define what we believe and how we live.
 
3.  A Sense of Identity
 
When it comes to character, each of us must answer the critical question, "Who am I?  That answer often provides the motivation to values.  And it helps to establish emotional security.  Our sense of security-or lack of it-often drives what we do.
 
4.  Integrity
 
The final component in strong character is integrity, which is an alignment of values, thoughts, feelings, and actions.  People who possess the consistency that comes with strong integrity can be very compelling.
 
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TEACHABILITY EXPANDS YOUR TALENT
 
If you are a highly talented person, you may have a tough time with teachability.  Why?  Because talented people often think they know it all.  And that makes it difficult for them to continually expand their talent.  Teachability is not so much about competence and mental capacity as it is about attitude. It is a desire to listen, learn, and apply.  It is the hunger to discover and grow.  It is the willingness to learn, unlearn, and relearn.
 
Teachability Truths: We need to have the right attitude about learning.  To do that, consider the following truths about teaching.
 
1.  Nothing Is Interesting If You Are Not Interested.
 
2.  Successful People View Learning Differently from Those Who Are Unsuccessful.
 
3.  Learning Is Meant to Be a Lifelong Pursuit.
 
4.  Talented People Can Be the Toughest to Teach.
 
5.  Pride Is the Number One Hindrance to Teachability.
 
THE PROBLEMS WITH PRIDE
 
1.  Pride Closes Our Minds to New Ideas.
 
2.  Pride closes Our Minds to Feedback.
 
3.  Pride Prevents us from Admitting Mistakes.
 
4.  Pride keeps us from Making Needed Changes.
 
HOW TO OVERCOME PRIDE
 
1.  Recognize and Admit Your Pride.
 
2.  Express Gratitude Often.
 
3.  Laugh at Yourself.
 
If you want to expand your talent, you must become teachable.  That is the pathway to growth.  Here is what can help as you pursue teachability and become a talent-plus person:
 
1.  Learn  to Listen.
 
2.  Understand the Learning Process.
 
3.  Look for and Plan Teachable Moments.
 
4.  Make Your Teachable Moments Count.
 
5.  Ask Yourself, Am I Really Teachable?
 
"Everything we know we learned from someone else!"
John Wooden
 
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COURAGE TESTS YOUR TALENT
 
People think of courage as a quality required only in times of extreme danger or stress.  But it is much larger than that-and more ordinary than we think.  Courage is an everyday virtue.  Professor, writer, and apologist C.S. Lewis wrote, "Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at its testing point."  You can do nothing worthwhile without courage.  The person who exhibits courage is often able to live without regrets.
 
If you desire to become a more courageous person, then do the following:
 
1.  Look for Courage Inside, Not Outside, Yourself.
 
2.  Grow in Courage by Doing the Right Thing Instead of the Expedient Thing.
 
3.  Take Small Steps of Courage to Prepare You for Greater Ones.
 
4.  Recognize That a Leadership Position Won't Give You Courage, but Courage Can Make You a Leader.
 
5.  Watch Your Horizons Expand with Each Courageous Act.
 
Courageous Leadership Simply Means I've Developed:
 
1.  Convictions that are stronger than my fears.
 
2.  Vision that is clearer than my doubts.
 
3.  Spiritual sensitivity that is louder than popular opinion.
 
4.  Self-esteem that is deeper than self-protection.
 
5.  Appreciation for discipline that is greater than my desire for leisure.
 
6.  Dissatisfaction that is more forceful than the status quo.
 
7.  Poise that is more unshakeable than panic.
 
8.  Risk taking that is stronger than safety seeking.
 
9.  Right actions that are more robust than rationalization.
 
10.  A desire to see potential reached more than to see people appeased.
 
You don't have to be great to become a person of courage.  You just need to want to reach your potential and to be willing to trade what seems good in the moment for what's best for your potential.  That's something you can do regardless of your level of natural talent. 
 
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PERSEVERANCE SUSTAINS YOUR TALENT
 
Perseverance is not an issue of talent.  It is not an issue of time.  It is about finishing.  Talent provides hope for accomplishment, but perseverance guarantees it.
 
PRINCIPLES OF PERSEVERANCE
 
1.  Perseverance Means Succeeding Because You Are Determined to, Not Destined To.
 
2.  Perseverance Recognizes Life Is Not a Long Race, but Many Short Ones in Succession.
 
3.  Perseverance Is Needed To Release Most of Life's Rewards.
 
4.  Perseverance Draws Sweetness Out of Adversity.
 
5.  Perseverance Has a Compounding Effect on Life.
 
6.  Perseverance Means Stopping Not Because You're Tired but Because the Task Is Done.
 
7.  Perseverance Doesn't Demand More Than We Have but All That We Have.
 
THE FIVE ENEMIES OF PERSEVERANCE
 
1.  A Lifestyle of Giving Up.
 
2.  A Wrong Belief That Life Should Be Easy.
 
3.  A Wrong Belief That Success Is a Destination.
 
4.  A Lack of Resiliency
 
5.  A Lack of Vision
 
CLEARING AWAY THE FIVE ENEMIES OF PERSEVERANCE
 
1.  Purpose:  Find One
 
2.  Excuses: Eliminate Them
 
3.  Stamina: Develop Some
 
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PRACTICE SHARPENS YOUR TALENT
 
The Power of Practice
 
There's a myth about highly talented people-it's that they are simply born that way.  But the truth is that no people reach their potential unless they are willing to practice their way there.
 
There are three things you need to know about practice:
 
1.  Practice Enables Development
 
How do we grow and develop?  Through practice.  People refine old skills and acquire new ones through practice.  That is where the tension between where we are and where we ought to be propels us forward.
 
If you desire to improve and develop, then you must practice.  It allows you to break your own record and outstrip what you did yesterday.  Done correctly, practice keeps making you better than you were yesterday.  If you don't practice, you shortchange your potential.
 
2.  Practice Leads to Discovery
 
Practice both shows and builds commitment.  The true test of commitment is action.  When you follow through and practice, you show your commitment.  And every time you follow through, your commitment becomes stronger.
 
Your Performance can always be improved.  Every single performance can be improved.  Since there is always a better way, your job is to find it.
 
The "sharpening" process is better in the right environment.  You can't discover your abilities and improve your skills in an environment where you are not allowed to make mistakes.  Improvement always requires some degree of failure.  You must see a practice area where experimentation and exploration are allowed.
 
You must be willing to start with small things.  If you do little things well, the big ones tend to take care of themselves.
 
Very small differences, consistently practiced, will produce results.  A curious thing happens when you practice.  At first the gains are small, then they begin to grow.  But there comes a time, if you persevere, when the gains become small again.  However, at this season these small gains make big differences.
 
There is a price to pay to reach the next level.  One of the things you often learn in practice is what it will cost to reach a goal or go to the next level.  Many people regard practice as an essentially negative experience. It doesn't have to be that way.  The best way to make practice exciting is to think of it in terms of discovery and development.
 
3.  Practice Demands Discipline
 
One reason some people see practice as a grind is that it requires discipline.  Developing discipline always begins with a struggle.  There is no easy way to become a disciplined person.  It has nothing to do with talent or ability.  It is a matter not of conditions, but of choice.  But once the choice is made and practice becomes a habit, two things become obvious.  The first is a separation between the person who practices and the one who doesn't.  The second thing that emerges is a winning spirit.  The harder you work, the harder it becomes to surrender.
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PREPARATION POSITIONS YOUR TALENT
 
 
Why People Fail To Prepare
 
They Fail to See the Value of Preparation Before Action
 
Preparation is a major key to achieving any kind of success.  It alone can position your talent to achieve its potential.
 
Preparation Principles
 
1.  Preparation Allows You to Tap into Your Talent
 
Every minute spent in preparation saves ten in execution. Some questions to ask yourself.
*What work is to be done?
 
*How is it to be done?
 
*When is it to be done?
 
*Where is it to be done?
 
*How fast can it be done?
 
*What do I need to get it done?
 
Answering these questions prepares me for what lies ahead.  And when I am prepared, my talent is positioned for maximum effect.
 
2.  Preparation Is a Process, Not an Event
 
We live in a quick-fix society.  We think in terms of events and instant solutions.  But preparation doesn't work that way. Why?  Because it's about you.  Anything having to do with people is process-oriented.
 
3.  Preparation Precedes Opportunity
 
There's an old saying: "You can claim to be surprised once, after that, you're unprepared."  If you want to take advantage of opportunities to use your talent, then you must be prepared when the opportunities arise.  Once the opportunity presents itself, it's too late to get ready.
 
4.  Preparation for Tomorrow Begins with the Right Use of Today
 
Preparation doesn't begin with what you do.  It begins with what you believe.  If you believe that your success tomorrow depends on what you do today, then you will treat today differently. If you are preparing today, chances are, you will not be repairing tomorrow.
 
5.  Preparation Requires continually Good Perspective
 
Perspective not only helps people prepare, but it can also motivate them to prepare. 
 
Good Preparation Leads to Action
 
Preparation does not mean mastery of the facts.  It does not mean knowing all the answers.  It does not necessarily mean achieving consensus.  It means putting yourself in a better position to succeed.
 
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TALENT+ FOCUS
 
If you desire to become a talent-plus person, you need to make focus your friend.  Here's how:
 
1.  Be intentional-Make Every Action Count
 
People who are undecided about what they want to do or where they want to go cannot tap into their strength of will-or their talent.  As a result, they will merely drift along.
 
2.  Challenge Your Excuses
 
We all have reasons for not doing what we ought to do.  We don't have enough time.  We don't have enough resources.  We don't have enough help.  We have problems.  We have shortcomings.  We have distractions.  Should we let these things get us off track? No!
 
3.  Don't Let Yesterday Hijack Your Attention
 
If you desire to make the most of your talent and achieve success, then you need to make what you're doing now your focus.  Striving for achievements is a lot like driving a car.  It's a good idea to check your rearview mirror occasionally, but not to give it your complete attention.  If you do, you will eventually be incapable of moving forward at all.
 
4.  Focus On The Present
 
Just as you should keep your focus off yesterday, you shouldn't have it on tomorrow.  If you're always thinking about tomorrow, then you'll never get anything done today.  Your focus needs to remain in the one area where you have some control-today.  What's ironic is that if you focus on today, you get a better tomorrow.
 
 
5.  Stay Focused On Results
 
Anytime you concentrate on the difficulty of the work at hand instead of its results or rewards, you're likely to become discouraged.  Another thing that can distract you from results is interaction with difficult people.  If you remain focused on results, you will stay grounded.
 
6.  Develop And Follow Your Priorities
 
If you want to develop your talent, you need to focus.  If you're going to focus, you need to work on knowing what your true priorities are and then follow them.
 
7.  Focus On Your Strengths, Not Your Weakness
 
Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths is like having a handful of coins-a few made of pure gold and the rest of tarnished copper-and setting aside the gold coins to spend all your time cleaning and shining the copper ones in the hopes of making them look more valuable.  No matter how long you spend on them, they will never be worth what the gold ones are.  Go with your greatest assets; don't waste your time.
 
8.  Delay Rewards Until The Job Is Done
 
Too often people want the rewards before the results, and for that reason they don't stay as focused as they could.
 
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FOCUS DIRECTS YOUR TALENT
 
THE POWER OF FOCUS
 
Focus can bring tremendous power.  out it, you sill often feel drained and unable to accomplish much.  Without it, you will find that your talents and abilities gain direction and intentionality.  And those qualities pay off by producing results.
 
Here are some facts you need to know about focus:
 
1.  Focus Does Not Come Naturally to Most People
 
We live in a culture with almost infinite choices and opportunities, and because of that, most people find themselves pulled in dozens of directions.  What's worse is that people often find themselves expending much of their time and energy on things they don't really care about.
 
2.  Focus Increases Your Energy
 
If you desire to achieve something, you first need to know what your target is.  That's true even when it comes to personal development.  If you lack focus, you will be all over the place.  Attempting everything, like attempting nothing, will suck the life out of you.  It will sap you of energy and new opportunities.  And whatever momentum you have going for you will be diminished.
 
3.  Focus Lifts You
 
Focus always has an impact.  Just by striving to become better than you are, you become elevated-even if you don't accomplish what you desire, and even if others don't step aside for you.  You can't shoot for the stars and remain unaffected by the effort.
 
4.  Focus Expands Your Life
 
What you focus on expands.  If you want to expand your capacity, then focus.
 
5.  Focus Must Be Intentionally Sustained
 
People do not naturally remain focused.  Just as light naturally loses its focus and gets diffused, so does a person's attention.  It takes a lot of effort, but the payoff is significant.
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TALENT + INITIATIVE =
A TALENT-PLUS PERSON
Putting the Talent-Plus Formula Into Action
 
To be honest, all of us are plagued by procrastination in some area of our lives.  If something is unpleasant, uninteresting, or complex, we tend to put it off.  Even some things we like doing can cause us difficulty. Yet to reach our potential and become talent-plus people, we must show initiative.
 
Here are some suggestions to help you as you strive to become a talent-plus person in this area.
 
1.  Accept Responsibility for Your Life
 
Everyone experiences setbacks.  We all face obstacles.  From time to time, we all feel that the deck is stacked against us.  We need to show initiative anyway.  Life isn't fair. Stop sniveling and whining and go out and make it happen for you. We need to take responsibility and act.
 
2.  Examine Your Reasons for Not Initiating
 
What's important is that you separate legitimate reasons from excuses.  An excuse puts the blame on someone or something outside you.  Excuses are like exit signs on the road of progress.  They take us off track.  Know this: it's easier to move from failure to success than from excuses to success.  Eliminate excuses.
 
3.  Focus on the Benefits of Completing a Task
 
It is extremely difficult to be successful if you are forever putting things off.  Procrastination is the fertilizer that makes difficulties grow.  When you take too long to make up your mind about an opportunity that presents itself, you will miss out on seizing it.
 
4.  Share Your Goal with a Friend Who Will Help You
 
No one achieves success alone.  There is no way to put a value on the assistance that others can give you in achieving your dreams.  Share your goals and dreams with people who care about you and will encourage and assist you in accomplishing them.  It means taking a risk because you will have to be vulnerable in sharing your hopes and ambitions.  But the risk is worth taking.
 
5.  Break Large Tasks Down into Smaller Ones 
 
Once you remove some of the internal barriers that may be stopping you from taking initiative and you enlist the help of others, you're ready to get practical.
 
Here's how you proceed in breaking an intimidating goal into more manageable parts:
 
Divide it by categories:  Most large objectives are complex and can be broken into steps for functions.  Begin by figuring out what skill sets will be required to accomplish the smaller tasks.
 
Prioritize it by importance:  When we don't take initiative and prioritize what we must do according to its importance, the tasks begin to arrange themselves according to their urgency.  When the urgent starts driving you instead of the important, you lose any kind of initiative edge, and instead of activating your talent, it robs you of the best opportunities to use it.
 
Order it by sequence:  Dividing the task according to its categories helps you to understand how you will need to accomplish it.  Prioritizing by importance helps you to understand why you need to do each part of it.  Ordering by sequence helps you to know when each part needs to be done.  The biggest lie we tell ourselves when it comes to action is, "I'll do it later."
 
Assign it by abilities:  When you divide the large task into smaller ones by category, you begin to understand what kinds of people you'll need to get the job done.
 
Accomplish it by teamwork:  Even if you break a task down, strategically plan, and recruit great people, you still need one more element to succeed.  Everyone has to be able to work together.  Teamwork is the glue that can bring it all together.
 
6.  Allocate Specific Times to Tasks You Might Procrastinate
 
" The greatest time wasted is the time getting started."
Dawson Trotman
 
It's the start that often stops the people.  So how do you overcome that difficulty?  Try scheduling a specific time for something you don't like doing.  Treat it like an appointment.
 
7.  Remember, Preparation Includes Doing
 
Desire isn't enough. Good intentions aren't enough. Talent isn't enough.  Success requires initiative.  Unless they are followed with action your ideas are worthless, your intentions have no power, and your plans are nothing.
 
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PEOPLE WHO LACK INITIATIVE
 
When it comes to initiative, there are really only four kinds of people:
 
1.  People who do the right thing without being told.
 
2.  People who do the right thing when told.
 
3.  People who do the right thing when told more than once.
 
4.  People who never do the right thing, no matter what.
 
Anyone who wants to become a talent-plus person needs to become the first kind of person.  Why doesn't everyone do that?  I think there are several reasons.
 
1.  People Who Lack Initiative Fail to See the Consequences of Inaction.
 
Don't let this happen to you.
 
2.  People Who Lack Initiative Want Someone Else to Motivate Them.
Successful People don't need a lighted fuse to motivate them.  Their motivation comes from within.
 
3.  People Who Lack Initiative Look for the Perfect Time to Act.
Timing is important-no doubt about that.  But it is also true that all worth while endeavors in life require risk.
 
4.  People Who Lack Initiative Like Tomorrow Better Than Today
 
"The wise man does at once what the fool does finally."  Anything worth doing is worth doing immediately.  Remember that for people who never start, their difficulties never stop.
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1. Initiative Is the First Step to Anywhere You Want To Go...
Where you finish in life isn't determined so much by where
you start as by whether you start.
 
2. Initiative Closes the Door to Fear...
If you want to close the door on fear, get moving.
 
3. Initiative Opens the Door to Opportunity...
Anyone who doesn't take initiative is almost guaranteed to fail.  I and willing to bet that you have...1. a decision you should be making...2. a problem you should be solving...3. a possibility you should be examining...4. a project you should be starting...5. a goal you should be reaching...6. an opportunity you should be seizing...7. a dream you should be fulfilling.  No one can wait until everything is perfect to act and expect to be successful.  It's better to be 80 percent sure and make things happen than it is to wait until you are 100 percent sure because by then, the opportunity will have already passed you by.
 
4. Initiative Eases Life's Difficulties
"Nothing is so fatiguing as the hanging on of an uncompleted task."
William James
 
5. Initiative Is Often the Difference Between Success and Failure
Talent without initiative never reaches its potential.  It's like a caterpillar that won't get into its cocoon.  It will never transform, forever relegated to crawling on the ground, even though it had the potential to fly.
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Initiative Activates Your Talent
 
It's a cliché to say that every journey begins with the first step, yet it is still true.  Talent-plus people don't wait for everything to be perfect to move forward.  They don't wait for all the problems or obstacles to disappear.  They don't wait until their fear subsides.  They take initiative.  They know a secret that good leaders understand: momentum is their friend.  As soon as they take that first step and start moving forward, things become a little easier.  If the momentum gets strong enough, many of the problems take care of themselves and talent can take over.  But it starts only after you've taken those first steps.
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Prioritize Your Life According to Your Passion
 
People who have passion but lack priorities are like individuals who find themselves in a lonely log cabin deep in the woods on a cold snowy night and then light a bunch of small candles and place them all around the room.  They don't create enough light to help them see, nor do they produce enough heat to keep them warm.  At best, they merely make the room seem a bit more cheerful.  On the other hand, people who possess priorities but no passion are like those who stack wood in the fireplace of that same cold cabin but never light the fire.  But people who have passion with priorities are like those who stack the wood, light the fire, and enjoy the light and heat that it produces.
 
Prioritizing your life according to your passion can be risky.  For most people, it requires a major realignment in their work and private lives. 
 
If your priorities are not aligned with your passion, then begin thinking about making changes in your life.  Will change be risky?  Probably. But which would you rather live with?  The pain of risk or the pain of regret?
 
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4.  Passion Is the Foundation for Excellence
 
Passion can transform someone from average to excellent. When you find  purpose, you find passion.  And when you find passion, it energizes your talent so that you can achieve excellence.
 
 
3.  Passion Produces Energy
 
When you have passion, you become energized.  You don't have to produce perseverance; it is naturally present in you.  It helps you to enjoy the journey as much as reaching the destination.  Without it, achievement becomes a long and difficult road.
 
During a Q-and-A session at a conference, an attendee once asked me, "What is the secret of your passion?"  It took me only a moment to be able to articulate it:
 
1.  I am gifted at what I do (strength zone).
2.  What I do makes a difference (results).
3.  When I do what I was made to do, I feel most alive (purpose).
 
I believe all passionate people feel that way.  Some people say that they feel burned out.  The truth is that they probably never were on fire in the first place.
 
"Death isn't the greatest loss in life.  The greatest loss is what dies inside of us while we live."  Norman Cousins.
 
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2.  Passion Increases Willpower
 
To discover your passion, ask yourself these questions
1.  What do you sing about?
2.  What do you cry about?
3.  What do you dream about?
 
The first two questions speak to what touches you at a deep level today.  The third answers what will bring you fulfillment tomorrow. The answers to these questions can often help people discover their true passion.
 
While everybody can possess passion, not everyone takes the time to discover it.  And that's a shame.  Passion is fuel for the will.  Passion turns your have-to's into want-to's.  What we accomplish in life is based less on what we want and more on how much we want it.  The secret to willpower is what someone once called wantpower.  People who want something enough usually find the willpower to achieve it.
 
You can't help people become winners unless they want to win.  Champions become champions from within, not from without.
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YOUR PASSION CAN EMPOWER YOU
 
Passion can energize every aspect of a person's life-including talent.  Have you ever known a person with great passion who lacked the energy to act on what mattered to her?  I doubt it.  A passionate person with limited talent will outperform a passive person who possesses greater talent.  Why? Because passionate people act with boundless enthusiasm, and they just keep on going!  Talent plus passion energizes.
 
THE POWER OF PASSION
 
1.  Passion Is the First Step to Achievement
 
Loving what you do is the key that opens the door for achievement.  When you don't like what you're doing, it really shows-no matter how hard you try to pretend it  doesn't.  It's difficult to achieve when you don't have the desire to do so.  That's why passion is so important.  There really is no substitute for passion when it comes to energizing your talent.
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BELIEF LIFTS YOUR TALENT
 
 ACTIONS DETERMINE RESULTS
 
Results come  from actions.  That may seem obvious in the physical realm.  Sir Isaac Newton's third law of motion states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.  However, in the human realm, many people don't make the connection.   They simply hope for good results.  Hope is not a strategy.  If you want good results, you need to perform good actions.  If you want to perform good actions, you must first believe.  It all goes back to that.  Radio personality Paul Harvey observed, "If you don't live it, you don't believe it."  It all starts with belief.
 
Live the life you were meant to.  Try to see yourself as you could be, and then do everything in your power to believe that you can become that person.  That is the first important step in becoming a talent-plus person.
 
I encourage you to create a growth journal and use it as you answer  questions and record observations as you answer these questions.  It will help you to stay focused and chart your progress. 
 
1.  Write a short description of yourself as you are today.
 
2.  What are your top five talents?  If you have not explored them before, you may have to do some work, to answer this question. 
 
3.  List the three activities you are most passionate about.
 
4.  Think about what opportunities may be presenting themselves to you.  They may be related to where you live, where you work, who you know, or what's happening in your industry or area of interest.  List as many opportunities as you can.
 
5.  Take some time to consider what kind of picture emerges based on these talents, interests, and opportunities.  How might they come together for someone other than you, someone with few obstacles or limitations-someone who was in the right place at the right time?  Dream big-no idea is too outrageous.  Brainstorm what someone in that situation might be able to do, what he or she could become.  What would be this person's mission?  Using a phrase or short description, write down these things. 
 
6.  What you just wrote is a description of who you could be.  It is a picture of your potential.  How does it compare with the description you wrote in question one?  Believe in your potential, yourself, your mission, and your fellow human beings.  How can you light the fire of your belief and increase your expectations to become that person?  Give yourself an action plan to do it.  Enlist the help of others if needed .
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EXPECTATIONS DETERMINE ACTIONS
 
We cannot live in a way that is inconsistent with our expectations for ourselves.  It just doesn't happen.
 
There are two kinds of people in this world:  those who want to get things done, and those who don't want to make mistakes.  The Wright brothers were of the first type.  the would-be aviation pioneer was of the second.  If you're of the first type, then you already expect to believe in yourself and take risks.  But what if you're of the second type?  There's good news: you can grow.
 
I don't know what challenges you face.  They may be getting bigger every day, or they may already be as big as they can get, like Mount Everest.  But I do know this: the only way you can rise to meet the challenges effectively is to expect to.   You don't overcome challenges by making them smaller.  You overcome them by making yourself bigger!
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 BELIEF DETERMINES EXPECTATIONS
 
If you want your talent to be lifted to its highest level, then you don't begin by focusing on your talent.  You begin by harnessing the power of your mind.  Your beliefs control everything you do.  Accomplishment is more than a matter of working harder or smarter.  It's also a matter of believing positively.  Someone called it the "sure enough" syndrome.  If you expect to fail, sure enough, you will.  If you expect to succeed, sure enough you will.  You will become on the outside what you believe on the inside.
 
Personal breakthroughs begin with a change in your beliefs.  Why?  Because your beliefs determine your expectations, and your expectations determine your actions.
 
A belief is a habit of mind in which confidence becomes a conviction that we embrace.  In the long run, a belief is more than an idea that a person possesses.  It is an idea that possesses a person.  Benjamin Franklin said, "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed."  If you want to achieve something in life, you have to be willing to be disappointed.  You need to expect to succeed.  Does that mean you always will? No.  You will fail. You will make mistakes.  But if you expect to win, you maximize your talent, and you keep trying. 
 
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BELIEVE IN YOUR MISSION
 
What else is necessary to lift a person's talent?  Believing in what you are doing.  In fact, even if the odds are against your accomplishing what you desire, confidence will help you. 
 
Belief in your mission will empower you.  Having confidence in what you are doing gives you the power to achieve it.  Confident people can usually evaluate a task before undertaking it and know whether they can do it.  In that belief is great power.
 
Belief in you mission will encourage you.  What often allows people to keep going in a negative environment?  Belief in the mission.  Believe in what you do.
 
Belief in your mission will enlarge you.  The more you believe in your potential, yourself, and your mission, the more you will be able to accomplish.  If you keep believing, you will someday find yourself doing what you once considered impossible.
 
Do you believe in your mission?  Are you confident that you can accomplish great tasks?  Do you expect to achieve your goals?  These are necessary ingredients to lift your talent from potential to fruition.
 
I need to say one more thing about mission.  It needs to include people.  Only a life lived for others is worthwhile.  As you fulfill your mission, will others around you say. . .
 
"My life is better as a result," or
"My life is worse as a result"?
 
If you think it won't be the former, then the mission may not be worth doing.
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BELIEVE IN YOURSELF
 
It's one thing to believe that you possess remarkable potential.  It's another thing to have enough faith in yourself that you think you can fulfill it.  When it comes to believing in themselves, some people are agnostic!  That's not only a shame; it also keeps them from becoming what they could be. 
 
People who believe in themselves get better jobs and perform better in them then those who don't. 
 
The impact of belief in self begins early.  Some researchers assert that when it comes to academic achievement in school, there is a greater correlation between self-confidence and achievement than there is between IQ and achievement.
 
Successful people believe in themselves, especially when others do not.
 
People with confidence live by a credo that is said to hang in the office of golfer Arnold Palmer. It reads,
 
If you think you are beaten, you are.
If you think you dare not, you don't.
If you'd like to win, but think you can't
It's almost certain you won't...
Life's battles don't always go
to the stronger or faster man,
But soon or late, the man who wins
Is the man who thinks he can.
 
Only with belief in yourself will you be able to reach your potential.
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Next Week:  Believe In Your Mission 
 
The first and greatest obstacle to success for most people is their belief in themselves.  Once people figure out where their sweet spot is (the area where they are most gifted), what often hinders them isn't lack of talent.  It's lack of trust in themselves, which is a self-imposed limitation.  Lack of belief can act as a ceiling on talent.  However, when people believe in themselves, they unleash power in themselves and resources around them that almost immediately take them to a higher level.  Your potential is a picture of what you can become.  Belief helps you see the picture and reach for it.
 
BELIEFS WORTH BUYING INTO
 
I don't know what your talent is, but I do know this: it will not be lifted to its highest level unless you also have belief.  Talent alone is never enough.  If you want to become your best, you need to believe your best.  You need to....
 
1. Believe in Your Potential
 
Your potential is a picture of what you can become.  Inventor Thomas Edison remarked, "If we did all the things we are capable of doing, we would literally astonish ourselves."
 
Too many people fall far short of their real potential.  John Powell,  author of The Secret of Staying in Love, estimates that the average person reaches only 10 percent of his potential, sees only 10 percent of the beauty that is all around him, hears only 10 percent of its music and poetry, smells only 10 percent of its fragrance, and tastes only 10 percent of the deliciousness of being alive.  Most neither see nor seize their potential.
 
"Life is a ten-speed bike.
Most of us have gears we never use."
Charles Schulz
 
Your potential is really up to you.  It doesn't matter what others might think.  It doesn't matter where you came from.  It doesn't even matter what you might have believed about yourself at a previous time in your life.  It's about what lies within you and whether you can bring it out.
 
"When a man has put a limit on what he will do,
he has put a limit on what he can do."
Charles Schwab 
 
Phillips Brooks, writer of the song "O Little Town of Bethlehem."  remarked, "When you discover you've been leading only half a life, the other half is going to haunt you until you develop it."  Not only is that true, but I'd also say this: Not reaching your potential is a real tragedy.  To reach your potential, you must first believe in your potential, and determine to live way beyond average.
 
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Next Week: Believing In Yourself
 
 
 
 
From the Book:
Chasing Skinny Rabbits
by
Dr. John Trent
 
 
BOGS, PITS, SWAMPS, AND CAVES
 
 
 
 
Skinny Rabbit Trails not only draw you away from a path of purpose but also tend to lead you to dead ends that bog you down and keep you from getting back on course.  In fact, this is one important way that you can spot a Skinny Rabbit Trail.  While you're trying your best, you're really not moving along the path...just standing still, spinning wheels, treading water, lost to all that's meaningful; going through the motions but feeling no joy, no sense of purpose or gratification or accomplishment.  Being bogged down by following a Skinny Rabbit Trail too far is almost a guarantee that you will start to die emotionally, spiritually, and sometimes even physically.
 
This describes the bogs, swamps, pits, and caves we fall into when we get lost chasing the Skinny Rabbit.  Let's look at some of these hazards more closely.
 
LEARNING TO BE STILL
 
Picture yourself running around from work to home to school to the store to softball practice to dance class to piano lessons to home to work to school to.....oblivion.  You're worn-out. Frazzled.
 
Now picture yourself getting on a plane and taking off.  Soon you're flying high over your city.  Very quickly the big problems, the big  busyness you left on the ground below all look very small. From you higher perspective you begin to see a truly bigger world.
 
That's exactly what happens when you spend be still time with God.  When you're on God's lap as He sits on His throne, your problems down here look pretty puny.  When you get in His presence, your perspective changes.  Your vision changes.  And that's where your future changes because now you see what's truly important-Him.  Him above all.  
 
Finding time to be still is important in this busy world.  Set four or even seven minutes aside to be still, right in the middle of deadlines and pressures and stresses.  That's not a very long time to step off the hamster wheel.  You can do it.  Shut the door.  Take in those minutes, seven minutes to be still.  Seven minutes of just you and God. If you have to, schedule it just like any other important appointment. 
 
Maybe you can't stop your busyness at just any time.  But you can learn to be still, right in the middle of your busyness.  Start by thinking a prayer to God.  Say a quick silent prayer for the person in line in front of you.  Thank the Lord for the traffic light you made it through...and for the four minutes you have to pray when  you're stuck at the next one.  When everything is chaos around you, even minutes with God or fleeting thoughts of Him can help you find rest.
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FINDING THE PATH OF PEACE
 
Instead of the continual crisis and confusion of following Rabbit Trails, families caught up in the frenzy of overloaded schedules desperately need a path to peace to center their lives and stabilize their worlds.  That path is increasingly harder to find in a world in which nanoseconds count and life is continually so loud that we have trouble coping with real quiet.  We even need white noise just to go to sleep.
 
Maybe this is why God told David, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). It's hard for us to be still.  Frankly, it's hard even to see the point of it.  In our lives today it doesn't make sense because it's just the opposite of what we need to keep pace with the scramble of schedules.
 
Being still is a state of peace in God-a peace that gives you supernatural calm in the middle of chaos.  It's as much a mind-set as an actual action.  It's what the Bible calls the peace that passes all understanding, a peace that guards your heart and your mind.
 
One way that this kind of peace comes is by having a regular be still appointment with the God who created you-a short, specific time when you take the world off the hook and take a respite with the One who knit your heart and soul together while you were yet in your mother's womb.  It is a time to read His book.  It's a time to talk with Him like you would a friend, sing a song to Him and worship Him.  And maybe most importantly, it's a time to listen to Him.
 
But who has that kind of time?  You have deadlines, commitments, and responsibilities.  Contemplate the irony of saying that: you're too busy for God, who can give you what you need to deal with the busyness in your life.
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Next Week: Practical ways to put some be still into everyday.   
 
 


 

WE NEED WISE HUNTERS
 
Sin will entice you off the path and take you places you don't want to go, and often those places are sticky pits that are hard to get out of.  If you do happen to fall into one of these pits, the temptation is to be prideful and think, I can get out of this myself.
 
In reality, you're not only stuck; you're embarrassed.  You don't want to expose your failure to others, but you are lost unless you get over that terrible pride and simply call out for help.  When you do, you'll almost always find help from someone who has already been through what you're going through-someone who can help you get back in the quest.  James says, "Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed" (James 5:16)
 
Everyone needs a wise person to depend on and follow.  A mentor, a strong Christian, a person who has been there and done that.  These are the types of people you want to find and to follow.  Not only because they can lead you off of Skinny Rabbit Trails and lift you out of pits, but also because once you're back in the race, they'll lead the way to the real life you've been longing for.
 
A wise person is one who knows the way.  He or she is someone who will come alongside you and is consistently committed to your finding your very best.  A wise person is someone who walks with a kind of confidence that comes from having led others well.  Wise people have figured out that life works best when people stay on the track of their quest and don't get led astray.  This track may be long, arduous, and sometimes tiring, but it leads to life and purpose and to waking up every morning without regret over the night before.
 
The best thing about a wise person-and the thing that makes him or her a dependable help-is the fact that wise people do not depend on themselves for their knowledge and wisdom.  They have learned the trails and pits and bogs from someone far above themselves, whose ways and wisdom are absolutely infallible.
 
When you choose a mentor for yourself, it's crucial to be sure this person does not depend solely on his or her own wisdom, experience, and ability, valuable as those attributes may be.  You want to be sure that your mentor-helper is depending on nothing less than God Himself.
 
A good and valid mentor will always point you towards God. A mentor can be a friend, a spouse, or a coworker.  What you must have is someone who helps keep you on track with God's purpose and moves you toward God's very best for your life.
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Next Week: When Was The Last Time You Felt Rested?   
                                                             

 
FINDING THE LADDER OF ESCAPE
 
God always provides a way of escape.  If you find yourself trapped in the pit of depression, follow these steps to find that ladder.
 
1.  Find someone to pull you out.
 
It's very hard to pull yourself out of the pit of depression.  It's just like being in a physical pit; you need someone else to pull you out-whether it's a recommended therapist, a friend, a family member, a family doctor, a pastor, or a mentor.  Find this person and make a commitment to meet with him or her regularly until you're out of the pit.
 
2.  Do something
 
Improvement won't happen if you just sit and wait for it to come.  The word life in Greek means movement.  Move toward a goal.  Physical exercise is often helpful.  Calling a friend is doing something.  Visiting the family doctor is doing something.  Going for a walk around the block with the dogs every night is doing something.  Whatever it is, do something.
 
3.  Forgive
 
If depression is anger turned inward, then you have some forgiving to do.  Forgiveness dissolves anger.  It's a vital step toward healing.  Forgive the person who has wronged you. (When you forgive him, you're saying you no longer hold anything against him.)  Forgive God.  And it's also important that you forgive yourself.
 
4.  Read the Psalms
 
David, the author of most of the psalms, is a guy who wrote  from the heart and gut.  It's real; it's raw.  David is brutally honest-sometimes mad at God, sometimes frustrated at his circumstances, and sometimes down on himself.
Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why
so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God,
for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.
Psalm 42:5-6
In the middle of his mess, David praises God-a perspective echoed by the prophet Isaiah, who talked about putting on "a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair" (Isaiah 61:3)  David tells us in no uncertain terms that God is the answer to depression: He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. (Psalm 40:2)
 
As you read through Psalms, you'll discover how David chronicles a legacy of God's faithfulness in the middle of battle, betrayal, depression, and despair-the same kinds of obstacles we face today.
 
5.  Be grateful
 
Take a moment and write down three blessings-three things that went well today and why you're grateful for them.  Do this for a week.  Then think of three people who have touched your life in a positive way-a grandparent, teacher, a friend. or someone else.  Write each of them a letter expressing your thanks.  Then deliver the letters, reading each one to the person yourself.
 
According to noted University of Pennsylvania psychologist Martin Seligman, an uncontrolled study revealed that 94 percent of severely depressed people who focused on being grateful ended up happier and less depressed.  The people who continued to do these acts were measurably happier and less depressed as much as three to six months later.
 
6.  Get your eyes off yourself
 
Start focusing on genuinely helping others-especially those in worse shape then you.  It's healthy and helpful, both to them and to you.
 
It's tough to be lured off course by a Skinny Rabbit.  It's embarrassing to fall into pits, bogs, or swamps, or to hole up in caves.  It's especially tough when we find ourselves despairing in the pit of depression.  But there's something even worse...waking up one day to discover you have become that Skinny Rabbit for someone you care about-even yourself!
 
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Next Week: Wise Hunters To The Rescue 
 
 


 
 
THE PIT OF DEPRESSION
 
You've chased the Skinny Rabbit and fallen into the pit of depression.  It's a deep, dark place where grievous ponderings echo in the emptiness of your heart.  And the only hope is a tiny circle of light up above-a light that seems to be fading.
 
Chasing Skinny Rabbits can lead to depression for several reasons.  Maybe you've spent time pursuing the wrong thing, and you've come up empty or with a prize not worth the effort-all the while you've been diverted from the path to more rewarding goals.  Or you're still chasing the rabbit and dog-tired from the endless trails that seem to have stolen from you any sense of purpose.  These are significant losses, and when the reality of them hits, it can easily lead to depression.  It steals years from your life that can never be recovered.
 
A good definition of depression is anger turned inward. You are angry over these losses-angry with your own culpability in causing them and frustrated with the impossibility of undoing the past.  Or maybe you're angry at a person who led, pushed, or deceived you into following a Rabbit Trail.  Or maybe you're angry with God for letting bad things happen to you when you were trying so hard.  All of your anger is eating away your life and hope.
 
Of course, other things can cause depression as well, such as the loss of a loved one or even a chemical imbalance.  Whatever the reason, most all of us will wrestle with depression at some time or another as we deal with anger, loss, or grief.  It's a dark and terrible pit, and one that can take you down-permanently.  If your symptoms persist or if you think about harming yourself or someone else, seek help immediately from your doctor or other qualified mental health professional.
 
Here's a Scripture passage that gives us the key to getting out of the pit of depression: Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves not regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (2 Cor. 7:10)
 
Notice that this verse mentions two kinds of sorrow.  Worldly sorrow brings death, Paul tells us.  That's depression.  Sorrow without hope.  Sorrow over losses and ruin that can't be changed.  On the other hand, he tells us that godly sorrow brings repentance and leads to salvation.  Instead of being sorrowful over what's already happened and can't be changed, be sorrowful for what you've done, and resolve to turn away from it and do it no more.  That's the difference.  When you turn away from your errors and sins and give them to the Lord with a commitment to place yourself in His hands, He pulls you from the pit and sets you back on the correct path.
 
That is the first step.  The second is to look for that ladder of escape.  God always provides a way of escape.
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Next Week: Finding the ladder out of the pit of depression.
 
 
 
 
THE TAR PIT OF LITTLE WHITE LIES
 
 
It starts as a little sin.  You try to cover up for something by telling a little lie.  And it gets a bit worse.  Now you try to cover the sin and the little lie by slightly larger dishonesty.  You try to ignore the whole mess and put it behind you, but it comes back again.  More lies.  Bigger lies. The problem gets deeper. Messier.
 
You have just fallen into the tar pit of little white lies.  The more you fight to get out of this tar pit, the more stuck you become.  The more you try to hide sin with lies, the stickier the situation gets.
 
Chasing Rabbit Trails makes us vulnerable to this tar pit.  Usually when we take the quick, easy route and go after less than the best, we're not too proud of it.  We don't want others to know what we are up to.  The easy way to hide these pursuits?  Lie about them.  Make up a story.  Then suddenly we're in that pit that requires stories to cover the stories to cover the stories, and soon we're stuck in a muck of lies.
 
The only way to get clean.... is to come clean.  Face the embarrassment of exposing the lie, confess the cover up, be honest about our dishonesty, allow healing to begin, and repent of ever doing such a thing again.
 
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Next Week:  The Pit Of Depression 
 
THE PIT OF ISOLATION
 
Remember. Skinny Rabbit Trails move you farther and farther from anything that brings you life and purpose.  The bogs, caves, and pits along these trails can trap you and keep you from ever finding your way back.  One of the most insidious of those hazards is the pit of isolation.
 
It starts by being so busy that you have to cut out time with friends.  Even a short time to work out or have coffee or attend church or a game together.  Your e-mail in-box bulges, and you don't care.  Your phone rings unanswered.  Church becomes optional.  Even family gatherings become, at best, a chore.  That's the first step. 
 
The pit of isolation is one of the scariest perils lurking on the trail of the Skinny Rabbit.  Why?  Look up the word isolation in Greek.  It's the word thanatos.  And its translation? Death. Isolation is death.  The more you isolate yourself, the more you die inside.  No matter what Rabbit Trail you pursue, you are vulnerable to falling into this pit of isolation that can result in death.  I don't mean death in the sense that you'll keel over and someone will call the undertaker.  I'm talking about isolation from real life, from nourishing relationships with real meaning.
 
Fall into the pit of isolation, and you're cut off from any taste of living water that could sustain you.  That living water flows through relationships-your relationship with others and your relationship with Jesus, the "realest" of people.
 
We need interaction with others.  "As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another" (Prov. 27:17)  Also, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy" (Prov. 27:6)
 
The more you hang around quality friends-friends willing to support you and confront you in love when you need it-the sharper and safer you'll be.  Real friends are like guardrails: they'll do anything they can to help you stay on the path of purpose and life.
 
But when you isolate yourself from friends-when you don't have those guardrails-it's easy to drift off the highway.  The consequences can range from a rough ride on the shoulder to a plunge off the cliff.
 
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Next Week: The Tar Pit Of Little White Lies
 
 
 

 
THE CAVE OF FANTASY
 
God gave each of us an imagination-a playground in our minds on which to consider ideas.  But this wonderful place can trap you.  You can tell you're in danger of being trapped in that cave when you find yourself spending more time in your imagination than in the real world.  You like it there because in your imagination everything is perfect.  You can have excitement with no risk, possessions at no cost, power with no responsibility, pleasure with no consequences.  So once you've gone through that door, why go back when there's so much to see and do and experience here in this alternate world?
 
The door to that cave can be the lure of your computer screen.  I'm not about to tell you that all computer games are evil.  But when you find yourself spending hours and hours playing each day, something has shifted. 
 
For many this fantasy door leads to an even more sinister place.  In this day and age, it's hard not to know of or to have been affected by someone in our circle of friends or family who hasn't gone through a fantasy door marked Pornography.
 
Don't believe the lie that says you're strong enough to handle it.  It's powerfully attractive-as any fantasy door is.  But it's a cheap thrill that's actually very costly-sucking the very life out of you and trapping you in a cave that is hard to get out of.  This cave darkens your conscience, drives a wedge of duplicity into your being, and contaminates your marriage bed.
 
That fantasy door may look to be a tempting respite from the grind of the trail, but if you expect to be successful on your quest, you must avoid it.  You could easily enter that cave and never emerge again.  As Mark Twain said, "It's easier to stay out then to get out."
 
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Next Week: The Pit Of Isolation
 
 
 

 
THE SWAMP OF BUSYNESS
 
Any of us can get lost in the swamp of busyness.  We can get caught in that hamster wheel that up close looks a lot like a ladder.  It appears that you are climbing fast.  Moving up.  But you're really not going anywhere.  You're running in a circle.
 
Often a husband will be running hard on his hamster wheel while his wife is running just as hard on her own hamster wheel.  It appears that they're doing life together.  It appears that they're going somewhere together.  Well, sure! They're in the same cage.  But it's a cage all the same.  And the only place they're going together is nowhere.
 
You'll find hamster wheels of busyness not only at work but also at school, at church, in volunteer and civic organizations-they're everywhere.
 
Please understand, there's nothing wrong with hard work.  In fact, Proverbs-a book penned by the wisest king who ever lived-praises diligence.  "All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty" (Prov. 14:23)
 
The problem comes when you're so entrapped by busyness that you don't have time for the truly important things-things more significant and rewarding but usually less urgent.  Your devotional time with God rarely seems urgent; neither is a date night with your spouse or play and talk time with your kids.  But the urgent things scream for your attention now !  That's when the important but quieter priorities are frequently shoved aside.
 
It's a good thing to step off the wheel and ask yourself, Where am I really going?  Am I missing out on the important things?  Is everything I'm doing worth it, or am I chasing a Skinny Rabbit?  Is there a way to incorporate the important things into my busy life?
 
The last question is actually a trick question for busy people.  When you're too busy, you're trying to fit too much into a finite schedule.  The secret to incorporating the important things is not to find some technique for fitting even more in but rather to let go of the busy things that matter less.  Weed out the urgent and keep the important.
 
If you have trouble discerning the urgent from the important, take the 10/100 test.  Ask yourself, will this matter ten years from now?  Will this matter one hundred years from now?  This test will help you tell the difference between the Skinny Rabbit Trails and the trails that truly matter.
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Next Week: The Cave Of Fantasy    
 

 

THE CAVE OF FEAR
 
Fear is a lie.  Fear keeps you cowering in a cave, afraid to join in the pursuit for dread of failure, harm, ridicule, or some other imagined bogey lurking out there in the forest.  Fear says, "Stay inside, stay safe," when faith says, "Go! Get on the right trail.
 
The only fear is the fear of the Lord, which is the gateway to wisdom.  All other fears-including the fear of failing, fear of the future, fear of what others think-are all part of a debilitating lie that keeps you hunkered down in the back corner of your cave while others take the risk, follow God as their leader, and go for the prize.
 
"Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe"  Proverbs 29:25
 
.............................................
Next Week: The Swamp of Busyness 
 
 

 


 THE BOG OF FALSE HUMILITY
 
On the flip side of pride is false humility-thinking lower of yourself than God intended.  Humility is desirable, but self-flagellation is not.  Humility is admirable; wimpiness is not.  Humility is commendable, but, self-condemnation is not.  False humility will keep you thinking small and living small.  "Why should I think I can achieve anything grand?  I am not good at anything".
 
If you travel with your head hanging like this, you'll lose track of your quarry and wind up in a bog.  And once you land there, you're likely to remain hopelessly stuck, because you'll use your false humility as an excuse to wallow in hopelessness, never getting back to the path of your worthwhile dreams and goals.
 
False humility is actually a backhanded kind of pride because, like pride, it does not look outside the self.  Pride says, "I have it in myself to cut melted butter."  But notice that the thing in common with both attitudes is the insistence on looking only to the self.
 
The key to avoiding-or getting unstuck from-the bog of false humility is to look outside yourself for the strength you need to accomplish worthwhile dreams and goals.  The apostle Paul gives us the source of that strength: "I can do everything through him who gives me strength" (Phil. 4:13).  True humility isn't about being a doormat. It's about knowing where your strength comes from-from God, not from yourself.
 
........................................................
 Next Week: The Cave of Fear
 
 
THE BOG OF PRIDE
 
You figure that you're doing all right.  Better than that, you're doing great. It's taken a while, and you've worked hard to get where you are, but now you're pretty much there. To prove your unselfishness, you'd like to train others to achieve the kind of success you've achieved.  Thank God you don't have a problem with pride!  In fact, you're thinking you could probably skip this section altogether.  But maybe it would be good to read it anyway, just in case you ever get the opportunity to help someone else with his or her pride problem.

 



rabbitus skinnies, v. To think only of and too much of yourself.  See pride.
 
Pride is like a pair of designer sunglasses.  They make you think you look cool, but they cloud your vision to where you can't see the light of truth. 
 
In fact, pride eventually blinds you. With pride, you're so focused on yourself that you can't see where you're going.  And since you're blind to any faults you may have ("Faults? What faults?"), you're vulnerable to tripping up.  That's why pride comes before a fall. 
 
Where pride blinds, humility opens up your eyes to see the truth.
 
"For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted".
Matthew 23:12
 
You have a choice.  You can humble yourself or you can be humbled.  You can recognize your pride and come down off of it, or you can fall flat.  Be assured, you'll eventually come down, one way or the other.  If it's pride that pushes you on your quest toward your goal, then don't wear those sunglasses!  Have the humility to take them off.  Then once you can see clearly again, look around to see if you've gotten off the trail of your quarry and wandered down a Rabbit Trail.  If you find that's what you've done, then turn around ( what the Bible calls repent).  Moving away from death starts with taking steady steps back toward truth and life.  And you can't do this wearing the sunshades of pride.
 
The problem is that prideful people don't like the idea of backtracking (anymore than they can stomach the idea of apologizing to anyone they may have hurt).  But prideful people also hopelessly stay on the trail of a Skinny Rabbit, never realizing they're not on the right path.  Never seeing their need until it's too late and they are mired up to their sun-shaded eyeballs in a deadly bog.
.................................................
Next Week: The Bog Of False Humility   
 
 
SKINNY RABBIT TRAIL TRACKER
THE "TEST"
 
Before we move on to talk about how to get off of Rabbit Trails and how to get out of the pits and bogs you find yourself in, lets pause a minute.  You may be starting to wonder whether or not you are currently chasing any Skinny Rabbits.  You may be on a Rabbit Trail and not know it because it's one that  hasn't been specifically identified.
 
HOW CAN I KNOW IF I'M ON A SKINNY RABBIT TRAIL?
 
Maybe your not sure that you are chasing a Skinny Rabbit.  Perhaps you're vaguely aware that something is out of kilter in your life, but you can't quite put your finger on what it is.  So how can you tell whether you're on a skinny Rabbit Trail?
 
No one who pursues a goal thinks it's unworthy.  If we did, we wouldn't pursue it.  So obviously when we chase rabbits, we're momentarily deceived into thinking we're onto something good.  What we need are early clues to warn us that this is nothing but a Skinny Rabbit Trail.
 
Feelings are not generally valid guides to real truth.  As you know, feelings can deceive you if you depend on them for the wrong purpose.  "If it feels good, it must be right" is one of the most dangerous things you can say.  Your feelings often deceive you because they lure you to do things that promise glittering, immediate benefit, ignoring the cold, hard fact that there is a grim payoff at the end.
 
On the other hand, bad feelings-feelings of depression, tiredness, forgetfulness, disappointment, isolation, or irritability-can be like warning lights on the car dashboard, indicators that something is not right and needs immediate attention.  Just as a flashing engine light or a knocking sound in a running car can tell you something is wrong inside the engine, those bad feelings listed above-especially if they persist-can be signs telling you that something is wrong inside your life.  They may be strong indications that you are on a Skinny Rabbit Trail and how far down it you may have traveled.
 
SKINNY RABBIT TRAIL TRACKER
Read the following statements and put a check mark beside each one that applies to you in the past three months.  Then tally up the results at the end.  Whatever your score, remember that it's not where you are today that counts but it's where you can be when you get your life back on the right trail.  So be honest.
 
*I get tired easily
 
*I get upset when others tell me, You don't look so good lately.
 
*I feel that my prayers are getting no further then the ceiling.
 
*I feel that God has abandoned me.
 
*I sometimes find myself crying for no discernible reason.
 
*I feel discouraged and disappointed in the world around me.
 
*I've been getting more forgetful.
 
*I seem to be doing more but enjoying it less.
 
*I find myself saying (again and again) Oh, he'll change or Oh she'll change.
 
*I feel that I've lost my sense of purpose.
 
*I have periods of extreme doubt that life is worth the effort.
 
*I have trouble feeling happy.
 
*I'm not able to laugh at a joke about myself.
 
*I have very little to say to people.
 
*I feel lonely most of the time.
 
SCORING
 
If the number of boxes you checked are:
 
0-3  congratulations!  Looks like you're not on a Skinny Rabbit Trail at all. 
 
4-6  You've taken a few steps down a Skinny Rabbit Trail.  You're not headed toward a major disaster yet, but make sure you are not being lured onto a Skinny Rabbit Trail.
 
7-9  Sure enough-you're on the trail of a Skinny Rabbit
 
10-12  Red Alert!  You're not only on a Skinny Rabbit Trail-you may have stepped into a bog.
 
13-16  A Skinny Rabbit has gotten you so far off course, your having trouble finding your way back to the right trail.
 
Don't despair if your score reaches into the stratosphere.  We will talk about how to get off of the Skinny Rabbit Trail next week.
 
Think of this exercise as preliminary.  It is designed to help you begin assessing your own situation.  At this point you're not necessarily trying to identify or determine your Skinny Rabbit, but merely to realize that you may be on the trail of one.
 
The Skinny Rabbit:  Anything that pulls you away from a path of purpose and life and leads you into a wilderness of exhaustion and regret.
...................................................
 
 
 
 
A SHRINKING BOG
 
A shrinking place is a bog where small thinking tries to keep you small too.  It's a place that tries either to "cubicle-ize" you in a little gray box or chain you to a perpetual treadmill of busyness.  You'll find shrinking places at work, even at church.  Entire towns can be such shrinking places.  (Nothing wrong with small towns, but there is something wrong with small thinking.)
 
 
If you are in a shrinking place, you are on The Skinny Rabbit Trail.  This trail will put you on the trail of burnout.  Studies show that stress and burnout affect your immune system and can cause migraines, digestive maladies, high blood pressure, skin problems, and heart disease.  For some of these problems, the dead end is death-you become roadkill on the Skinny Rabbit Trail.
 
These Skinny Rabbit Trails draw you off God's path and dump you in the wilderness of wilted hopes and bankrupt dreams.  Don't kid yourself.  The more steps you take down any of these trails, the more you'll find yourself  isolated, lost, bogged down , and crushed.
 
So is that it?  Just avoid all-take-and-no-give people and triple-your-possessions schemes; cross off the quest for a skinny body and perfectionism; keep from looking to future "When I get..." positions?  Then will  you be safe from the Incredible Shrinking Place?  Are those the only Rabbit Trials to stay alert for?  Not at all!! These are just a few in a forest full of them.  Do you suppose you might be on one of those trails?  Hmmmm.  Maybe we'd better pause and check that out.
 
............................................ 
Next Week: How To Get Off Of Rabbit Trails  
 
 
TRAILS, TRAILS, AND MORE TRAILS
 
The "When I Get That"...... Trail
 
The "When I Get That" Trail...that could be a promotion or position or grand award or exalted title.  That's when everything will be better.  That's when our dreams will come true.  There's nothing wrong with promotions that lift us up higher or positions that allow us greater influence or awards that open doors or titles that open even more doors.  But if more is our goal-more influence, more power, more money-then we have a very shallow goal, and we are chasing a very Skinny Rabbit.  
 
All kinds of people chase after prizes or positions, awards or titles.  These people who picture themselves finally standing on that award platform or sitting in a corner office with their name on the door, not knowing that they're on top of a laundry chute that can drop in an instant, sending them into a free fall all the way to the bottom.
 
Let's be clear. Gaining that promotion or that degree or that award is great, if it's not your life.  But no honor or position or achievement will be enough to become the real life you seek.
 
Here are some of the thoughts of this Skinny Rabbit Trail:
 
* When we finally get debt-free, then I will be happy.
 
* When we finally get a housekeeper, then I can finally get some rest.
 
* When the kids are out of the house, then we can have time for each other.
 
It's healthy to look forward in life.  The problem is, if we keep putting all our happiness, our rest, and our time for each other out there in the future, we'll miss valuable opportunities to live life in the now.
 
Jesus said, "I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full".  (John 10:10)  That means fullness of life today. Not someday.
 
The Bible also says, "Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment" (1Tim. 6:17)  This life, this abundance from God, this enjoyment is not just financial.  It's about a quality that encompasses all of life.  And it's not just a life someday in heaven.  It's about God's kingdom and His will here on earth as it is in heaven.  To depend on some future achievement or condition is to chase a rabbit that is not only too skinny to be worth the effort; it may never be caught at all.  After all, tomorrow never comes.  If you want life, you must find it in the today.
............................................  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
TRIALS, TRAILS, AND MORE TRAILS
 
The Perfectionism Trail
 
We've seen how possessions or even people can be Skinny Rabbits.  But did you know that even doing good can turn into a Skinny Rabbit, tempting us down a dead-end trail?  Lets take a look at Eloise (who like a lot of us) is driven by her perfectionism.  Because of her perfectionism she is driven to be the perfect wife, the perfect mother, the perfect volunteer in four different groups, and the perfect alto with the perfect pitch in the church choir.  Plus being the perfect daughter to care for her aging mother, plus being the perfect friend to help Mary deal with her family troubles, plus, plus, plus.  The problem is, too many of these plusses can add up to a big negative.  It's great to be  committed to excellence.  But when you fail to leave even a square inch of space in your life for flexibility or forgiveness or grace, you may end up getting committed.
 
Perfectionism puts us in a position of trying to do it all and to do it all in our own strength.  Yet rarely is the all we have to give really enough?  The opposite position to perfectionism is that of grace.  Yes, we give life our absolute best, but we rely on God to fill in the gaps.  For there will be gaps.  And He's the one who gives us the strength we need to find rest, even when we're less than perfect. "My grace is sufficient for you," He promises (2Cor. 12:9)  Where we fall short, His grace fills in-it suffices.
 
Following God's paths will lead to life, rest, hope, and a real reward for real excellence.  Following God breathes life into our own life and into the lives of others.  Perfectionism stands on our air hose and refuses to lift its foot.
 
By trying to be excellent in everything and with everyone, Eloise was exceeding others' standards but never measuring up to her own.  She longed to hear, "I've made it....I can sit down...I can rest.  But those words never pulled up the chair.
 
As energy, life, and even her faith drained away, life for Eloise became all duty.  Deep inside she had come to the place where she didn't even like the friends she was performing for or her family for who she was sacrificing.
 
If truth were known (gasp!), she had also grown weary of all the people depending on her to do so much, so well, at her church.  In fact, while she hated to admit it, she liked them least of all.
 
Eloise wasn't alone in following the exhausting Skinny Rabbit Trail of  perfectionism.  Charlotte had also headed down that trail but in a much different way.  Her garage was a mess, and her desk drawers a jumble, but there was one area that had to be just perfect for Charlotte.
 
It always started with a Norman Rockwell picture in her mind-the kind of picture Charlotte had missed out on as a child.  Charlotte's childhood family had been a shambles.  There wasn't a single birthday or Christmas or vacation memory that Charlotte wanted to remember.  That's why her own family's scrapbook of memories was so important to her.
 
Her children's memories would be different from her own...the family huddled together around a campfire by the tent, roasting marshmallows and sharing stories...the family fishing together on the lakeshore under a sprawling oak tree...the family gathered around the Christmas tree as the snow fell softly outside the frosted-pane windows.  She might have grown up with Nightmare on Elm Street, but it would be It's a Wonderful Life for her family.  their pictures would be perfect.  She would see to it.
 
And then it really set in.
 
Nothing worked out the way it was suppose to. The last Christmas memory was Charlotte yelling to everyone "We're going to have a great Christmas memory if it kills us!"
 
The problem with Charlotte? She was making each of these cherished family times-these perfect, soft-focus photos in her mind-the big events designed to build perfect memories for her family and make up for the terrible pictures of her own past.  These special moments had to be perfect because she depended on them to define family relationships instead of focusing on the quality of day-to-day interaction.
 
Her mind-set of big event perfectionism clouded her perspective.  And what's more, the further down this trail she went, the less anyone in the family wanted to go with her.  Or anywhere at all.
 
The fact is, life is lived in the everyday.  It's in the rough and tumble of daily life where relationships are worked out, where we truly learn about becoming a family.  Then vacations or fishing trips or Christmastime can be relaxing and truly become celebrations-celebrations of the growth that happens in the everyday.
..................................................
Next Week: That "When I Get That" Trail   
 
 
 
 
THE MOST COMMON
SKINNY RABBIT TRAILS
 
It's not just the big temptations that lead us down
Skinny Rabbit Trails; it's most often the normal choices
in life that we face everyday.
 
We'll look at five of the most common Skinny Rabbit Trails.  It's amazing how these five trails can quickly branch out to become a spiderweb of dead-end trails-any of which can get  you lost or trapped in a bog or pit.
 
THE ALL-TAKE-AND-NO-GIVE TRAIL
 
Your doorbell rings. Twice.  You already know who it is. Your next door neighbor who has been "between jobs" for about five years now.  And he needs some cash. Again.
 
You have a soft heart for him because he has been hit hard in life.  You frequently give him money to help him get through the tough times, as any good friend would.  You have suggested a couple of jobs you know he could do, but he just rolls his eyes, saying those jobs just aren't his calling.
 
Hearing that doorbell, the guilt starts, you are half-tempted to pretend your not home.  But, as always you open the door.
 
If you're on the All-Take-And-No-Give Skinny Rabbit Trail, you'll find yourself being drained more and more while your friend (or relative) is growing more and more dependent and even less motivated to get moving.  In an All-Take relationship neither party gains more purpose or life, and the stage is set for significant losses of all sorts.
 
THE POSSESSIONS-THAT-POSSESS-US TRAIL
 
"Triple Your Money in Just Three Months!"  Your imagination starts to carry you away: I'm in the Bahamas... No, I'm driving my Lamborghini in the Bahamas... No, wait.  I'm driving my Lamborghini around my private island in the Bahamas.
 
You read that there is a "Money Seminar" coming to town for one day only to show you how to triple your money.  And the seminar is absolutely free!  WOW!
 
All it takes is a simple headline to lure you down this Skinny Rabbit Trail.  This Rabbit Trail alone is responsible for the destruction of an incredible number of marriages, not to mention railroad cars full of derailed dreams for the kids in those homes.
 
Walking down the aisle of your favorite store you see so many things you want, and why not, they are on sale.  Yes, money is a little tight, but no problem, in a blink of an eye and a flash of the plastic, it all yours.  In reality, most of the things we have are not ours, they are owned by the credit card company.  What a deal!!  For the credit card company.
 
Through impulse buying, through the entrapment of "gotta get it now", you have just gone down a Skinny Rabbit Trail.  A trail where you can triple your possessions in no time.  But you don't possess any of these things.  They possess you.  
 
 
THE PERFECT-BODY TRAIL
 
As you stand at the check-out, idly gazing at the magazine covers placed there to lure shoppers waiting in line.  The photo of the trim and slim beauty in a bikini smiles her assurance that the headline above her is true: "I lost 50 pounds in five weeks.  And so can you!"
 
Millions of people are chasing a skinny body without realizing it's another Skinny Rabbit.  We see air-brushed models in magazines and makeup-plastered stars on television, and we get an image fixation.  We believe we have to fit into a certain size or have guns for arms from pumping iron night and day.  
 
Certainly, staying in shape, and eating healthy is a good thing.  But when your shape dictates your life, your emotions, your happiness, your marriage, your future, and whether or not you're old enough to have your grandchildren call you Grandma  (and you are), you're on a Skinny Rabbit Trail.  No, it's not fair that so many people today place so much stock in certain body types, looks, or labels.  But you don't have to go down that trail.
 
You can't hold back the clock or the calendar, and as many aging movie stars and singers have painfully demonstrated (with excessive plastic surgeries and eyelids that are so tight, they look as if they can't blink!), age will eventually win out over tummy tucks and face-lifts.  Muscles eventually yield to gravity no matter how much you try to pump or Botox them up.  Exercise and staying in shape are important.  But the pursuit of an ever youthful body is chasing another Skinny Rabbit.
 
We have looked at three of the five Skinny Rabbit Trails.  There are more trails ahead.
.....................................................
Next Week:  Trails, Trails And More Trails  
 

 
 
 
 
PLEASE MEET
THE SKINNY RABBIT
 
rabbitus skinnius, n.  Anything that pulls you away from a path of purpose and life and leads you into a wilderness of
exhaustion and regret.
 
Skinny Rabbits have been with us for a long time, almost always quite appealing and offering more than they deliver.  You'll probably recognize some of the famous Skinny rabbits in the following list:
 
The Hare.  At the starting line, this Skinny Rabbit looks like the winner already.  He starts off in a burst of glory, but he's all show.  He's cocky, and he conks out in the long run.
 
Br'er Rabbit.  It's tempting to take up with this little guy because he seems smart and resourceful.  But stick with him, and you'll end up stuck in a tar pit of little white lies with no way to pull yourself out.
 
The Magician's White Rabbit.  This Skinny Rabbit is illusive.  He looks appealing, but chase him, and he'll disappear at the drop of a hat.
 
The White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland.  It's always tempting to follow a critter that seems to be going somewhere.  But he's always "late, late, for a very important date,"  and when you get there, you'll find the door closed and locked.
 
Peter Rabbit.  This Skinny Rabbit looks awfully cute, but follow him and you'll lose more than your jacket and your shoes.  You may wind up on the trophy wall.
 
Bugs Bunny.  This clever Skinny Rabbit is smart, and it's natural to want to follow someone smart.  But chase him and he'll outwit you.  "What's up Doc?" Your blood pressure. Your debt.  Your frustration.
 
Playboy Bunny.  This Skinny Rabbit is seductive, seeming to offer mouthwatering pleasure but never telling you the terrible price... until you're hooked and your soul is bone-dry.
 
Energizer Bunny.  This Skinny Rabbit keeps going, and going, and going.  Question is, where is he going?  More importantly, where is he taking you?
 
Chasing a Skinny Rabbit is actually quite exhilarating.  It's the blur of the fur, the thrill of anticipation, the dream of the quick fix.  But it's a mad dash to oblivion.  Because once you finally catch the Skinny Rabbit, you'll see that it has nothing to offer that is worth the effort.  And to make matters worse, you'll find yourself far off the road you intended to travel.  In fact, that's the time when most people realize they've made a big mistake.  When they're isolated and alone and full of regret and sorrow over how much time and life they've wasted...not to mention the people they've hurt.
...................................................
Next Week: The Most Common Skinny Rabbit
Trails. 
 

 
 
 
 
 
BEWARE OF SKINNY RABBITS
 
Beware! There are Skinny Rabbits all around you.  They lurk at work and hide in the bushes along your career path.  They can lure you away from anything worthy-a great marriage, a career goal, a lifelong friendship.  They can wreak havoc in small groups, workplace teams, and even churches.  Chasing a Skinny Rabbit does worse than just get you off track; it will lead you further and further down a path that will drain the very life from you-killing your excitement, your creativity, your drive.  Skinny Rabbits separate you from your money, kill precious time, and can even destroy your life.  And the pursuit of them leaves you exhausted-physically, mentally, emotionally, and finally, spiritually bankrupt-more empty than you ever thought you could possibly be.
 
The tragedy is that most of us won't realize we're pursuing a Skinny Rabbit until it's too late-until we've lost precious months or even years in the chase.  Until it dawns on us that we've lost our chance to catch the Great Stag we set out to find.
 
A Skinny Rabbit is anything that pulls you away from a path of purpose and life and leads you into a forest of separation, exhaustion, and even (if you don't stop the chase) the death of a dream, relationship, or chance to reach God's best.  It is any pursuit that distracts you from a worthwhile goal that, over time, would lead to great reward for a far lesser one that gives you little but bare bones.
 
We've all been had, to some degree, by this "wascally wabbit."
 
Maybe it was that promotion we sought that we just knew would change everything...but instead of giving us anything, it took every ounce of our time and energy, nearly ruining our families in the empty pursuit.  A Skinny Rabbit may have been that best friend or trusted business partner whom we just knew was leading us to success, only to be left alone and betrayed in the end.
 
Or a Skinny Rabbit may be that investment opportunity that we just knew was going to triple our money...NOT!
 
The goal of this book is to help you recognize these Skinny Rabbits and their traps and trails before they divert you from better goals and before they lead you to emotional, physical, and even spiritual exhaustion.
 
The goal is for you and the people you know best and love most-to know the importance of asking the question, Is this a Skinny Rabbit?
 
You'll soon see that question is crucial to ask both of the good things that suddenly pop into your life and of those trails you may have been following for years.  This will help you determine whether or not you're on a Skinny Rabbit Trail and will equip you with a Skinny Rabbit Detector, which can be of great practical and immediate help.  And perhaps of most benefit, you'll be able to spot real potential to reach the places God intended when He first dreamed of you.
...............................................
Next Week: Our First Look At The Skinny Rabbit   
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Jeffrey Gitomer's
Little Red Book of Selling
 
 
 
It's Not Work
It's Network
 
*Get face to face first
*Networking eliminates cold calling
*Networking leads to referrals
 
How important is networking?
Real Important
 
What can networking do for your relationships?
Build them
 
What can networking do for your sales?
Make them
 
What can networking do for your success?
The right contacts and connections
can make or break it
 
If you're trying to be successful, it's the difference between mediocre and big.  If networking is so important, why aren't you out there doing it?
 
Here are the big four reasons:
 
*You think it takes too much time, and you are unwilling to dedicate time.
 
*You have a "they don't pay me enough money to do this" attitude, and you are doomed to negativity and mediocrity.
 
*You think cold calling is a great way to prospect.
 
*You want to, but you don't know how or where.
 
 
Networking is life skills and social skills
combined with sales skills.
 
It's business leisure conducted before and after work-as opposed to business frantic, which is conducted from 9 to 5 (the exception being lunch).
 
Networking is a mandatory function of business for salespeople and entrepreneurs.  But everyone in every segment of commerce and career networks.  Great scientists, electrical engineers, and surgeons all have their annual meeting of some kind where they get together and "talk shop".  Giant trade shows attract buyers and sellers from all over the world.
 
What are the principles of networking?
 
*to get known by those who count
 
*to get more prospects
 
*to make more contacts
 
*to make more sales
 
*to build relationships
 
*to make a career advancement
(or just get a job)
 
*to build your reputation
(and be seen and known as consistent)
 
What do you need to be
a successful networker?
 
*A Great 30-second commercial
that engages and asks questions that qualify the prospect, and gets to the next step in the sales cycle if there's an interest.
 
*Your willingness
to dedicate the time it takes to do it and be excellent at it.
 
*A plan
of where and when.
 
....................................................

 
How much is it?
Answer: Doesn't matter
if the value is there.
 
What your customer REALLY wants-it may have nothing to do with your product or service.
 
Your customer wants:
 
*More sales
 
*Greater productivity
 
*More profit
 
*Better image
 
*More customers
 
*Loyal employees
 
*Better morale
 
*No hassles
 
*More free time
 
*Notoriety
 
If you are able to get him or her those or even one of those items, how significant is price?  The more value you provide, the less price matters.
 
 
Understand this...The sale is emotionally driven and emotionally decided.  Then it is justified logically.  The head is attached to the price. The heart is attached to the wallet.  Here's what you need to start:
 
*Stop thinking of your product as a commodity.
 
If you tell yourself you're selling a commodity, you are doomed to selling price.  Wireless phone, commodity.  Not.  Office supplies, commodity. Not.  Computer hardware, commodity. Not.
 
It's all about the relationship.  It's all about the perceived value.  Let's get one thing straight before we go any further. Not everyone will buy value.  Thirty to forty percent of all customers will buy price.  That's the bad news.  The good news is 60-70% of all customers will buy value if you provide it to them.
 
*Don't focus on the sale, focus on the lifetime use of the product or the service.
 
Get your probable purchaser to visualize what life will be like after they take ownership.  If you can concentrate on use and ownership, then you can focus on cost and long term value as opposed to price.  The key is that the customer must visualize this at a time when they are also focusing on "how much it is?"
 
 
Here's the problem. Your workload has been doubled.  You now have to go into the sale with productivity ideas and profit ideas.  The good news is not only will your workload double, your sales will double along with it.  The better news is most salespeople will not do the hard work that it takes to make selling easy.  There's not much competition at the top of the sales ladder.  But the best news is you will be in control of your own outcomes.
 
Sales and Marketing
 
I put myself in front of people who can say yes to me,
and I deliver value first.
.................................................
Next week:  It's Not Work... It's Network
 
 
 
 
 
 
Success Tactics of Free Speech
 
*Don't give a sales pitch, but do speak on your topic.
 
Speak about interesting stuff to the audience that teases your stuff-BUT give a great speech.  If you sell burglar alarms speak about home safety, if you sell copiers, speak about image and productivity. Get it?
 
*Pick a great audience.
 
There are groups and there are groups-pick the best ones.  Highest profile, most likely to have influential people.
 
*Give a handout.
 
Even just a few pages, a handout will help the audience follow along-and precludes you from having to memorize the talk-and gives every member of the audience a way to contact you.  WARNING: Give out the handout when you start to use it-NEVER BEFORE YOU BEGIN.  If you give the the handout before you start your talk, people will read one thing while you're speaking about another, and (worse) you lose audience control and the impact of your message.
 
*Ask for audience evaluations.
 
Read about your impact if any.
 
*Give value, get leads.
 
At the end of your talk, offer something additional for free in exchange for their card.  The cards you get are LEADS.
 
*Hang around after the meeting.
 
That's when you find out what your impact was and who your best prospects are.
 
DON'T SELL YOUR STUFF AT THE MEETING.
Make a lunch appointment or breakfast meeting, and avoid making a sales pitch or bragging about your company.
 
No matter who you are or where you are in your sales career, free speech can impact learning and earning.  Free speech isn't just a right-it's an opportunity.  Exercise yours.
...................................................
Next week: Price vs. Value
 
 
 
 
 
 
Free Speech.  The Legacy You Leave To Yourself.
 
Want 50 new leads a week?
Give a free speech at a civic group.
 
Many salespeople looking to emerge are frantically trying to "market" themselves from brochures to direct mail to cold calling to networking. Expensive frustration.  The best way to market yourself is give yourself to the market.  Expose yourself to your prospects.
 
My advice: Free speech. Or to put it a clearer way-speak for free.  Free speech pays.  Big pay. And free speech has rewards. Big rewards.
 
NOTE WELL:  I said "speech" not "sales pitch."
 
When you show up at a civic organization to deliver a free 15-20 minute talk, here's the gold you receive:
 
* You get to give a live sales presentation to sell YOURSELF, not your product or service.
 
* You get to do an audition--right in front of the decision maker.
 
* You build (and strengthen) your network.
 
 * You (re)establish your presence.
 
* You help the community.
 
* You build your speaking skills, your presentation skills, and storytelling skills.
 
* You get to try out new material.
 
* You will attract new customers. (all leaders)
 
* If you're just starting out in your business--you will have a great opportunity to move up the ladder.
 
* You get a chance to have meaningful impact on someone through your words.
 
Now, to some of the above "rewards" you may want to add the prefix phrase, "if you're great," to get the real meaning and make the most impact, but I think the message is clear.
 
Interested? Just contact any civic organization in your city.  They are dying for a good talk.  Every week they go looking for GOOD  speakers.  And it sure beats cold calling.
 
..............................................................
Next Week: Want the best strategy of approach?
 

 
 
 
 
 
It's All About Value, It's All About Relationship,
 It's Not All About Price
 
Where is "value' in the sales equation?
 
What role does "value" play in building customer loyalty?
 
How does "value" help build solid business relationships?
 
The word "value" has a difficult time being defined and understood.  Giving value and adding value are words that many salespeople and sales executives have a difficult time in understanding, let alone providing.  Most people think that value is all about something the company adds.  Some small additional service, something tacked onto the product, a slight reduction in price, even something "free". Wrong.  These thing are promotions, not values.  Value is something done for the customer, in favor of the customer.
 
It is most effective to give value first.  And give it without expectation, and give it often, and give it without expectation and give it to your best prospects.  And did I mention give it without expectation?
 
Principles Of Giving Value And Being Valuable
 
* Market with stuff and information about prospects and customers.. not about you.
They will never read your brochure-in fact they'll probably throw it away.  Send them information about how they profit, produce or succeed, and they will devour EVERY WORD.
 
* Write (good) stuff in journals, newspapers, e-zines, and newsletters.
Writing creates a perceived leadership position (your picture in print), and is a value positioning statement at the same time.  It also allows those who agree with your ideas or philosophy to connect with you.
 
* Create response vehicles or mechanisms in everything you write.
If they agree with you and want more, offer it.  It's a great way to connect with business. Lack of response is also a report card.
 
* Earn you  way onto every broadcast media possible.
Try to get on a talk show with information everyone can use.  Tie your expertise to a timely topic or holiday.
 
* Get known as a person of value.
Get known to get business to come to you.  Leading a group or committee at the Chamber of Commerce, charity volunteerism. ( Hint: Pick one you really like.)
 
* Send your stuff after they ask for it, and make sure it has something they will keep.
Proactive mailings rarely work.  If you really want to test the viability of your information, offer it and see who wants it.  I send nothing until someone calls and asks for it.  (Note: what is the value of your brochure?  If it's stated in terms of you, you could put the words "could really care less about you" anywhere in the middle of it, and no one would ever find it.)
 
* Speak in public or cold call?
I say speak. Why?  Want 50 new leads a week?  Give a free speech at a civic group.  Many salespeople looking to emerge are frantically trying to "market" themselves from brochures to direct mail to cold calling to networking. Expensive frustration.  The best way to market yourself is give yourself to the market.  Expose yourself to your prospects.
 
Note:  I said "speech" not "sales pitch".
....................................................
Next Week: What you receive when you give a free speech and what is the best strategy of approach. 
 
 
 
Brand "Me"
 
What's your brand?  Not just your company brand-I'm talking about your personal brand.  In sales, prospects buy the salesperson FIRST.  If they buy brand-you, then they may buy what your selling.  How do you get a brand?  How do you create a brand?
 
It's how hard you work, how smart you work, and how dedicated you are, combined with your self-belief, that will help your brand proliferate more than anything.
 
Personal branding is....
 
* Create demand for your product or service indirectly.
(Through means other than direct advertising)
 
* Get the business community to have confidence in you.
(As a respected high caliber individual)
 
* Get the business community to have confidence in your business.
(Earn a reputation for quality performance so good that it's talked about)
 
* Establish yourself as an expert
 
* Be seen and known as a leader.
(Stand in front of the group, and tell them or get involved in a group and lead them. Show up where everyone is-all the time)
 
* Be known as an innovator.
(Be known as a person or business of value.  Be known as a resource)
 
* Separate yourself from competition.
(Get in front of the pack and set a standard)
 
* Gain professional stature.
(Your outreach determines your image )
 
* Build your image.
(and the image of your business-by being a consistent positive performer.  By associating with quality things and people.  By delivering what you promise.  Get talked about in a positive way.)
 
* As a result of your total branding and marketing outreach-make your phone ring with qualified prospects-then convert them to sales.
 
Developing a personal brand...
 
* Register your name.com
 
* Be willing to give of yourself...first
 
* Dedicate time to make it happen
 
* Get others to help you
 
* Do everything with a creative flair
 
* Get the best business card money can buy.. it's your image
 
* Stay in front of the people you want to do business with
 
* Become a resource
 
* Persistence and consistency are the secrets
 
* Have a good time doing it
 
* Strive to be the best at whatever you do
 
* Ignore the people who want to rain on your parade
 
Become known as a person of action....
The result of these actions will be a person who is known for getting things done- a leader.  It's not a reflection on you-it's a reflection on your company, the products and services you offer, and your personal brand  It's something you can't place a value on or buy, but it's the difference between sale and no sale.  And the difference between having to sell, and people wanting to buy.  The result of these actions will be a brand new you.
 
................................................

 
 
 
 
 
Prepare To Win, Or Lose
To Someone Who Is
 
Be Prepared!
 
What do you need to know about the prospect's business to engage?  I mean if you just walk in the door and say, "tell me a little bit about your business" how unprepared does that make you look?  Answer: TOTALLY UNPREPARED.  Prepared is going to their website and printing out several strategic pages, reading them, and making notes so you can ask about what you don't understand, or need elaboration on -not ask about them from total ignorance.
 
 
And it's not just Internet preparation.  It's other research like finding mutual friends, calling a few vendors, maybe a few customers.  Getting VITAL information as it relates to the buying of your product or service.  One more thing in preparation.  Be prepared with an objective or two about what you want to accomplish in the meeting.
 
Proper preparation takes time, but I assure you it's impressive to the prospect.   He or she knows that you have prepared, and is silently impressed.  It's an advantage that very few salespeople use.  They make the fatal error of getting all their own stuff ready,  PowerPoint slides, samples, literature, business cards-you know, all the same things the competition is doing.  Biggest mistake in sales.  And almost every salesperson makes it.
......................................................... 
 
 
 
 
A Prescription to Help Cure Sick Sales
 
*Study basics- Usually what's wrong is not complicated. In fact, you probably know what's wrong.  Your problem is that you think it's someone or something else's fault.  Wrong.  List two or three areas that need immediate care.  Have the guts to take action.
 
*Revisit your (or make a new) plan for success-Today.
 
*List 5 things you could be doing to work smarter AND harder.
 
*Change your presentation-Try a different approach.  Take the customer's perspective.
 
*Talk to your five best customers-Ask them to evaluate your situation.
 
*Get someone you respect to evaluate your presentation-take them with you on sales calls.  Get a coach.
 
*Visit your mentor-And have a new plan to discuss when you get there.
 
*Get to work an hour before everyone-Put in more productive time.
 
*Stay away from pity parties- Don't make a slump worse by whining or hanging around a bunch of underachievers.
 
*Hang around positive, successful people-The best way to get to success.
 
*Have some fun-Go to the comedy club, do a little extra of what you like to do best (unless too much fun is the cause of your slump)
 
*Spend 30 minutes a day (in the morning is best) reading about your positive attitude-Then listen to attitude tapes and sales tapes in the car ALL DAY.
 
*Listen to your favorite song just before the presentation-Go in to your next call singing.
 
*Take a day off-Chill out, take stock, make a plan, re-group, re-energize, and return with renewed determination and better energy.
 
*Rearrange your office-Shake things up a little, make them look new.
 
*Audiotape your presentations live-then listen in the car immediately afterwards.  Take notes. Act to correct.
 
*Take the best salesperson you know out on calls with you for a day-Get a written evaluation after each call.
 
*Take your boss with you on calls for a week-You'll get more feedback then you can handle, but it will help.
 
*Avoid negative talk and negative people like the plague-Find people who will encourage you, not puke on you.
 
Other random notes on the truth about slumps:
The best way to get out of the rut is keep the slump in perspective.  Once you accept the fact that you can change it, you can begin to recover.  Be cool-you're the greatest, if you think you are.  Believe in you!
.....................................................  
 
 
 
HELP! I'm Slumping, and I Can't Get A Sale!!!
 
In a slump?  Not making enough (or any) sales.  Feel like you're unable to get out of the rut?  Is it the economy or is it YOU?
 
* Don't panic.
 
*  Don't press too hard.
 
*  Don't get down on yourself.
 
*  Don't get mad.
 
*  And above all-don't quit.
 
HERE ARE THE PRIME CAUSES OF SALES SLUMPS:
 
*Poor belief system...  I don't believe that my company or product is the best.  I don't think I'm the best.
 
*Poor work habits... Getting to work late, or barely "on time".  Not spending your time with people who can say "yes".
 
*Misperceptions that lead to sour grapes... I think my prices are too high, or my territory is bad.
 
*Outside pressure... Caused by money problems, family problems, or personal problems.
 
*Poor personal habits... Too much drink, too much food, or too much after hours play.
 
*Boss not giving you support... Someone who says, "You better do it, " instead of, "I know you can do it."
 
*Events that go against you... New salesperson passes you, someone else gets promoted and you knew it should have been you.
 
*Customer cancels a big order... Weakening your personal belief or causing severe money problems-or both.
 
*Getting depressed... From any of the above.
 
When you're in a slump, you begin to press for orders instead of working your best game plan... which is to "sell to help the other person " and let your sincerity of purpose shine through.  When you have the pressure to sell, the prospect senses it, and backs off.
 
Then things get worse. You can't seem to sell at all, and begin to panic.  Oh my gosh, I can't sell a thing, I'll get fired, miss my house payment, can't pay my bills- Aaaahhhhhh!  False fear. Relax, you're better than that.
 
What causes a slump?  You do.  Therefore, you are the best (only) person to fix it.  Next week, we will give you a prescription to help cure sick sales.
 
................................................
 
 
 
 
WHAT IS YOUR BIGGEST FEAR.....
SPEAKING, REJECTION, OR FAILING?
 
We live in a world of negative conditioning.  The three big motivators are...fear, greed, and vanity.  They drive the American sales process-and they drive the American salesperson.
 
Our society preys on the fear factor.  It's in 50% of the ads we see (the rest are greed or vanity).  We are constantly reminded to carry mace, get a burglar alarm.  Once society gives you fear, it's natural that you take it with you into the workplace.  It transmutes into a fear of failure.  This fear intensifies in workplaces with hostile environments.  Bosses and managers who threaten, intimidate and ridicule.
 
Over the years of my failures, I have developed a great way of looking at it (lots of practice)  I learn from it, or ignore it.
 
There are degrees of failure in sales.
Here are some external ones:
 
*Failure to prepare
 
*Failure to make contacts
 
*Failure to make a sale
 
*Failure to meet a quota
 
*Failure to keep a job
 
External (outside) fears lead to internal (inside) fears-fear based on what happens when you fail or are close to failing.  Your reaction to internal fear determines your fate.  It's not what happens to you, it's what you do with what happens to you.
 
Here are the five typical reactions to rejection or failure:
 
*Get angry
 
*Deny it
 
*Avoid it
 
*Make an excuse about it
 
*Blame others
 
*Quit
 
Failure actually only occurs when you decide to quit.
 
Here are a few simple things you can do to avoid getting to the "quit" stage.
 
*Look at failure as an event, not a person.
 
*Look for the why, and find the solution.
 
*List possible opportunities.
 
*Ask yourself, what have I learned? And try again.
 
*Don't mope around with other failures.. go find a successful person, and hang around them.
 
Here are a few complicated things you can do to avoid getting to the "I quit" stage:
 
*Create a new environment.
 
*Cultivate new associations.
 
*Access new information.
 
*Get a new mind set..  create new background thoughts.
 
It's always too soon to quit.
 
 
So the question is: afraid to speak, or afraid to fail?  Which is the greater fear?
 
........................................................
 
 
 
 
 
Finishing up from last week here are some more ways to become a sales success.
 
*TAKE ADVANTAGE OF OPPORTUNITY
 
First, recognize it (often it shows up disguised in the form of adversity).  Second act on it.  Opportunity is elusive.  It exists all over the place, but very few can see it.  Some people fear it because it involves change; most don't believe they are capable of achievement.  Do you seize opportunity?
 
 Print Inspirational: 8 "X 10" Inspirational print, typography, office decor, bedroom decor, girls bedroom decor
 *TAKE RESPONSIBILITY
 
We all blame others to a degree.  Blame is tied to success in reverse proportion.  The lower your degree of blame-the higher degree of success you'll achieve.  Take responsibility for your actions and decisions.  Do you blame or take responsibility for your actions?
 
*TAKE ACTION
 
Just do it (Nike) was the expression for the '90s.  Actions are the only way to bridge plans and goals with accomplishment.  Are you action or B.T.N.A. (big talk, no action)?
 
*MAKE MISTAKES
 
The best teacher is failure.  It's the rudest of awakenings, and the breeding ground for self-determination.  Don't think of them as mistakes-think of them as learning experiences not to be repeated.  How willing are you to make mistakes?
 
*WILLING TO RISK
 
This is the most crucial factor.  No risk, no reward is the biggest understatement in the business world.  Taking chances is a common thread among every successful person. If you want to succeed, you'd better be willing to risk whatever it takes to get there.  How willing are you to risk?
 
*KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE PRIZE
 
Post your goals. Stay focused on your dreams and they will become reality. Too many foolish diversions will take you off the path.  How focused is your success effort?  As focused as your play effort?
 
*BALANCE YOURSELF
 
Your physical, spiritual and emotional health are vital to your success quest.  Plan your time to allow your personal goals to be synergized with your work goals.  How balanced are your?
 
*STICK AT IT UNTIL YOU WIN
 
Most people fail because they quit too soon.  Don't let that be you.  Make a plan and stick to it-no matter what.  How many projects have you abandoned?
 
*MAINTAIN A POSITIVE ATTITUDE
 
This is not a common characteristic. Positive attitudes make success much easier and more fun.  How positive is your attitude?
 
*IGNORE NEGATIVE PEOPLE
 
These people will try to rain on your parade (discourage you) because they have no parade of their own.  Avoid them at all costs. 
 ...............................................
 
What's the difference between failure and success in selling?
 
 
 jennifer fisher's glam /cool office with lucite fixture, wood/metal desk and huge pinboard wall
 
There is no quick fix, magic wand, or potion that will give you the success you're dreaming for.  So what's the secret of sales success?  Here are a few of the success secrets.
 
* BELIEVE YOU CAN
 
Have the mental posture for success.  Believe you are capable of achieving it. This belief must extend to your product and your company. A strong belief system seems obvious-but few people possess it.  Believing that you're the best and that believing you're capable of achievement is the hardest thing to do. It requires daily dedication to self-support, self-encouragement and positive self-talk.  How much do you believe in you?
 
 
*CREATE AN ENVIRONMENT
 
The right home and work environment will encourage you.  It's up to you to create it.  How conducive is your environment to attitude and success?
 
* HAVE THE RIGHT ASSOCIATIONS
 
 
Hang around the right people.  Network where your best customers and prospects go.  Join the right associations.  Stay away from the poison people.  Have a mentor or three.  Who do you hang around with?
 
EXPOSE YOURSELF TO WHAT'S NEW
If you're not learning every day-your competition is.  New information is essential to success.  How much time are you spending each day learning something new?
 
PLAN FOR THE DAY
 
Since you don't know on which day success will occur, you'd better be ready every day.  Prepare with education.  Plan with goals, and the details for their achievement.  Learning and goals are the surest methods to be ready for your success.  Are your plans and goals in front of your face every day?
 
BECOME VALUABLE
The more valuable you become, the more the marketplace will reward you.  Give first.  Become known as a resource, not a sales person.  Your value is linked to your knowledge and your willingness to help others.  How valuable are you to others?
 
HAVE THE ANSWERS YOUR CUSTOMERS AND PROSPECTS NEED
 
The more you can solve problems, the easier path you will have to sales success.  Prospects don't want facts, they want answers.  How good are your answers.
 
RECOGNIZE OPPORTUNITY
Stay alert for the situations that can create success opportunities. The little known key is to get and maintain a positive attitude.  Attitude allows you to see the possibilities when opportunity strikes-because it often shows up in the form of adversity.  How well do you spot opportunity?
.............................................. 
 






 
  
 
 
 Home office organization using Ikea bookshelf + boxes, bins & baskets. / Bureau à domicile organisé avec étagère Ikea + paniers, bacs et boîtes de rangement
"Why They Buy"
 
1. I like my sales rep.
 
2.  I understand what I am buying.
 
3. I perceive a difference in the person and the company that I am buying from.
 
4. I perceive a value in the product that I am purchasing.
 
5.  I believe my sales rep.
 
6.  I have confidence in my sales rep.
 
7. I trust my sales rep.
 
8.  I am comfortable with my sales rep.
 
9. I feel that there is a fit of my needs and product or service.
 
10.  The price seems fair, but it's not necessarily the lowest.
 
11.  I perceive that this product or service will increase my productivity. 
 
12. I perceive that this product or service will increase my profit.
 
13. I perceive that my salesperson is trying to help me build my business in order to earn his.  My salesperson is a valuable resource to me.
 
I have given you some answers as to why customers buy.  But the bigger question is: Why do YOUR  customers buy?
 
YOU NEED TO ASK THEM.
..............................................
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
FROM THE BOOK:
GETTING BUSINESS TO COME TO YOU
Paul and Sarah Edwards
&
Laura Clampitt Douglas

Office
Focusing-Clearly Defining What You Do.

Your Goal
Let Others Know What Business You're In

Why You Must Focus
Lack of focus is actually quite common among self-employed individuals.  At some point you have to realize you have to make a commitment to one business. That can mean making difficult choices of letting go of some possibilities that seem appealing.  Self-employed individuals in patchwork careers have a significantly more difficult time getting business than those who are focused.
 "Learn how to make easy money using your computer" <- That is called counterfeit, and it's not advised that you do that.


Not Being Taken Seriously

Often those who are trying to do a variety of things complain that their clients, customers, suppliers, friends, family and/or relatives don't treat their businesses with respect. Generally when people choose to do business with someone who's self-employed, it's because they believe the individual will have more in-depth knowledge and background in a particular area and will provide more personalized and individual attention than a larger, more impersonal company.  So doing a multiplicity of things shatters one of the most appealing assets that gives us an advantage as self-employed individuals or very small companies. 

Painting a wall with different tones of chalk paint and using it as a calendar.  Great home office idea from http://www.decorating-ideas-made-easy.com/home-office-decorating-ideas.html
The constant expectation of low, low prices.

While those who are more focused can command significant fees and prices, people who are patching together a variety of businesses report that they have trouble charging more than the most modest of fees.
 Home Office Decoration Ideas and Great Samples..like stool and desk.
 
Not enough time or money to reach a critical mass.

People providing  multiple products and services have to divide whatever time, money, and energy they have among the various things they're doing so it's more difficult to get enough momentum going for any one activity to really take off.
 
Confusion about who you are and what you do.
 
It's not uncommon that whatever aspect of one's multifocus business is mentioned, people say "Oh, I thought you did..."  This can happen even when someone is successfully established in one focused business and then decides to launch new ventures.



..............................................................................................



 
WORKING FROM HOME
From the book: Working From Home
Paul and Sarah Edwards


What To Do About Children
When Working From Home

Looks like a Play Date - Kids Wall Art Baby Girl Decor Children's Room Decor by vtdesigns, $14.00
Goals

* Learn how to introduce your working from  home to your children

* Know what reactions  you can expect from your children and what steps you can take.

* Choose among a wealth of child-care options

* Use checklists to hire the help you need

* Balance parenthood and work

* Protect  your children and avoid interruptions

Many parents first begin to think about working from home as a way of pursuing both parenthood and a career. Studies show that 40 percent of men and 80 percent of women with children  would stay home to raise their families if they could.  And nearly half of all children with working parents say they wish their parents were at home.
 
Certainly bringing work home holds the potential of making juggling these demands easier for both mother and fathers.  Yet parents and others who want to work from home often worry whether they'll be productive enough, working with children in the house.

 
Giraffe Elephant Baby Boy Nursery art print Children Wall Art Baby Room Decor Kids Print set of 3 11" x 14" birds yellow gray
WHAT TO EXPECT

Children's reactions to your being at home will vary greatly, depending upon their ages, personalities, your family, and the nature of your work situations, children are glad to have a parent there more often, but they probably will not fully comprehend what it means to having a parent working from home. To them you are Mom or Dad, and that's it. They probably don't know you as a lawyer, doctor, bookkeeper, or whatever else you happen to be.  If you want to make working at home with children both enjoyable and productive, you'll have to introduce them to your professional side and show them how to relate to you now that you're more than a mom or dad at home.
 



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Whatever their ages, kids will be kids.  Don't expect your children to act like grown-ups just because you're working at home. Don't expect them,for example, to be quiet.  Remember, by nature children are not quiet, and to be so for more than short periods is unhealthy for their development.  Constantly trying to hush them will be a losing battle for you in the short run and not good for them in the long run. 
 
15 Cool Ideas To Use Your Children Artworks In Your Décor. #kids, #parents
CHILD-CARE OPTIONS
 
* Call on other adults in the family: spouse, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters, grandparents
 
* Have siblings over twelve years of age watch younger children
 
* Have a baby-sitter or nanny come into your home
 
* Take the children to a private baby-sitter
 
* Place the children in a child-care program
 
* Join a child-care co-op
 
* Trade baby-sitting with a friend
 
The type of care you arrange for your children is a highly personal decision.  What suits some people will not suit others.  For working parents, having a wide variety of creative and flexible child-care options is one of the real advantages of working from home.  You are no longer limited to those arrangements that can provide care from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. while you commute to work in a downtown office.
.............................................  



Cleaning Up:
Sixty-Second Housecleaning
a place to write letters
Goals

* Fit keeping your home and office clean and tidy into your busy schedule.

* Cut cleaning supplies to a minimum and make using them convenient.

* Avoid messes you won't have to clean up.

* Get family to pitch in.

* Use cleaning services strategically.

Now that you're home, unless you hire a cleaning service, keeping your home both livable and workable falls to you.  But who has time to keep things up the way the woman of the house once did when she was a full-time homemaker?  You don't.  And if you take the time, you probably feel as though you're stealing it from yourself or your work.  Let's face it, the demands of our schedules today simply leave very little time for cleaning.
 
SEVEN STEPS TO SIXTY-SECOND HOUSECLEANING

Weekly house cleaning! :)

Step One:  Adopt A New Attitude Toward Cleaning

First throw out all your old ideas about what you have to do and should do.  Instead start thinking about what you want done and how you can do it most efficiently. For some people "clean" means there isn't a lot of "stuff" around.  For others, it means an absence of dust or dirt.  Take notice of what bothers you and what makes you feel good.
Housecleaning tip 

Step Two: Think In Terms Of Preventing Messes Instead Of Cleaning Them Up

Half of the housecleaning is unnecessary because a lot of the messes we have to clean up never need to happen in the first place. Just as in running your office, a little effort now can save lots of effort later.  You can cut the time required to clean your home and office in half by avoiding some of the biggest messes in the first place.  You won't need to clean the stove if you wipe up spills as they occur.  You will rarely need to clean the refrigerator if you clean up spills and stains when they happen. You'll rarely need to scour pots and pans if you wash them the moment you empty them.
 


30-Day Housecleaning Plan - Daily, Weekly, Monthly chore schedule.
Step Three: Clean As You Go Through The Day Sixty Seconds At A Time

Don't wait until you can set aside a block of time to clean.  Face it, chances are you don't have a day or a morning to set aside for cleaning every week.  Most repetitive cleaning tasks can be done by following the "sixty second rule."  For example, to clean your whole master bathroom might take a whole half hour.  But, let's say that while you're brushing  your teeth, you notice that the mirror needs cleaning; it will take only sixty seconds to clean it. Or if you notice that the bookshelf is dusty; it will take only sixty seconds to dust it.  This "do it when you see it" approach is the heart of the Sixty Second Housecleaning Method.
 

Make Your Own Housecleaning Products- Everything from window cleaner to fabric softener

Step Four: Put Your Cleaning Supplies In Multiple Places Throughout The House

The sixty-second approach works best if all the supplies you need are virtually within arm's reach.  Having to traipse back and forth to a central cabinet where you keep your cleaning supplies and then having to rummage through an assortment of bottles, cans, sprays, polishes, waxes, and other cleansers is another hurdle that makes cleaning too time-consuming.  Instead limit your supplies to the bare essentials and keeping a set of them in a convenient place in every major cleaning area of your home or office.
 VINTAGE KENMORE VACUUM-RARE MID CENTURY ATOMIC AGE SPACE SHIP VAC
Step Five: Let Technology Clean For You
 
As with running your office, the right appliances will do some of the worst cleaning tasks for you, and definitely worth the investment.
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MANAGING INFORMATION AND OTHER STUFF:
GETTING RID OF CLUTTER

GOALS:

*Know what to keep

*How to find it

* When to throw it away

* When and where to get help

Some people have felt pressured by information overload since the 1970's, but now most realize information is proliferating so quickly that we all feel as if we're probably missing something that's important....maybe a lot that's important.
 

Teaches you about toning down mail clutter and even opting out of those pesky credit card apps!
Just compare the amount of mail we receive with what our parents did; the size of the newspapers, the number of magazines, newsletters, and the various media that bring information to us-broadcast television, the Internet with its millions of Web sites, cable TV, satellite TV, and more.
 
So no matter how small your home-office operation, it's helpful to have a system for processing the array of information you need at your fingertips.  You must have a way to easily process your mail, handle phone messages, and store addresses, business cards, and mailing lists.  You need a system for recording upcoming events and keeping track of subject matter of interest to you as well as key information relating to your clients and projects.  And sometimes you have to track information in both paper and computer files.  You also need a way to conveniently store reference materials from magazines, books, you want to keep.
 
Got clutter? A collection of posts to help you cut the clutter in your life | OrganizingMadeFun.com
FIVE STEPS TO HAVING THE INFORMATION YOU NEED AT YOUR FINGERTIPS.

Because you probably don't have anyone to whom to delegate these administrative tasks and you're undoubtedly operating in limited space, your system for managing these details needs to be simple, easy to use and compact. Having an effective system requires that you do five things:
 

* Know what information you need to have access to.

* Have a proper place to keep the information you need.

* Set up a regular and convenient time for putting information where it belongs.

* Establish a familiar routine for processing, storing, and using information.

* Use equipment and supplies that make storing and information easy.


Much of the information you receive in your home office isn't of sufficient value to devote precious time and space to addressing and storing it.
 

Lirenda Floral macbook decal mac decal macbook by williamandcindy. $12.99, via Etsy.
WHY YOU SHOULD BEGIN BY COMPUTERIZING YOUR INFORMATION

Certainly we haven't reached and may never reach the paperless office, nor would most of us want to.So much information flows through even the most low-tech home offices, and most of us have few if any employees to help us manage it, that we really need electronic help to keep track of the most vital information that we need to have at our fingertips.  Be it correspondence we're sending out, forms we must generate, update and use regularly, marketing materials we must design and forever customize, we need a way to create, change, store, and locate information as quickly and simply as possible.

 home happy home: Office clutter and a new gallery wall
 SOFTWARE

* Word-Processing and Desktop-Publishing

* Information-Management

* Mailing-List

* Contact-And Information- Management

*Database-Management

USING WALLS AS INFORMATION ORGANIZERS
Want to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions this year? Get organized with a chalkboard wall calendar!
BLACKBOARDS OR WHITEBOARDS
You can turn walls into calendars, project planners, and information organizers.... columns and lines for permanent headings can be drawn with indelible markers, paint, or tape.  Different colors of chalk or markers can be used to highlight different types of information.
 
PLEXIGLASS PANELS, PLATE GLASS, OR SEE-THROUGH PLASTIC.
 
Clear panels of these materials can be mounted on the wall and held in place by a wood molding.  Use grease pencils, crayons, or felt-tip markers of various colors and wipe them off easily with a moist cloth.
 Turn a glass cabinet door into a message board! I was noticing how many abandonded frosted glass cabinet doors they have in the As-Is section at IKEA, so I picked up a few. They make great glass message boards for a really great price!
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CLOSING THE DOOR ON WORK
 

If you have more work to do than you can possibly get done in a regular workday (and who doesn't?), how do  you put it aside if it's always there with you?  At an outside office, you can close the door and go home, but some people who work at home find that's not enough when the door is right down the hall next to the bedroom.
 
Short of moving the office out of your house, there are several things you can do to get away from the work around you.
 
 
 
Peacoats and Plaid: 5 home offices I'm lusting after 
SEPARATE YOUR OFFICE SPACE
 
When you have an office space or work area that's as remote as possible from the rest of the  house, it's usually easier to "close the door"-literally-the way you would when working away from home.
 
SET UP AN END-OF-THE WORKDAY RITUAL
 
Here are some rituals people use:
 
* Taking a walk around the block
 
* Running errands
 
* Taking an exercise class at the end of the day
 
* Taking a shower and changing clothes
 
* Picking the kids up from the baby-sitter or from school
 
* Having a snack while watching the five o'clock news
 
SET A FIRM SCHEDULE
 
If possible, set a fixed "closing hour" and do not compromise except for emergencies.  This is usually easier to do when you're salaried than when you're self-employed.
 
PUT NONWORK EVENTS ON YOUR CALENDAR IN ADVANCE
 
Use your calendar to prepare yourself to take time off.  Most people reserve their appointment calendars for work-related activities or special social occasions.  Personal or family activities are usually fit in around business.  Writing these activities on your calendar helps you give them equal time.
Getting organized in 2014 with calendars and planners.
GET OUT OF THE  HOUSE
 
When work is home and home is work, people sometimes find they have to get away from the house to really get away from work. This isn't always easy, however.  Home-business owners frequently complain that clients, knowing they're at home, call or even drop by at any time of the day or night.  If this sounds like your situation, you must create ways to protect yourself from business intrusions into your free time.
 
....Relaxing spot in garden
* SET ASIDE THE MORNING OR EVENING OF EACH DAY AS "FREE TIME" DURING WHICH YOU DO NOT WORK.
 
Some days are more hectic than others, but to make this system work, you have to be fairly rigid about this rule.  It is crucial to learn to say "NO". That this time is already filled. And it is. It's filled with time off.
 in Maine
* ALLOW AT LEAST ONE FULL "FREE DAY" PER WEEK.
 


 For most people this is Saturday and/or Sunday; but it can be any day of the week.
 
*Don't be too busy to get together with other people.
 
* Don't work at your play.
 
* Don't think of non-goal-directed fun as frivolous.
 
* Don't let the clock run your life.
 
* Don't take everything so seriously that you miss life.
 
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A SUREFIRE DAILY PLANNING PROCESS

STEP-BY-STEP PROCESS FOR PUTTING THE SYSTEM TO WORK

1. Use your daily planner to build on "to-do list.
Find time either at the end of the day or first thing in the morning to fill out your daily planner, listing all the tasks you need to do in each category: appointments, correspondence, phone calls, major projects, errands, reading.
 



2. Screen your items.
Once you have identified the things you need to do, screen them to be sure they need to be done.  Ask yourself these kinds of questions: Does this have to be done today? What will happen if it isn't?  Can someone else do it?  Is this task worth the time required to do it?  If not, could I do a scaled-down version that will take less time?
 
3. Assign all tasks an "A" or "B" priority.
"A" priorities are tasks that should be done today; "B" priorities are those that might well be done today, but are not crucial.
 
4. Identify your top-three "A" items and rank them first, second, and third.
The top-three "A" items are those tasks you feel are most important to get done before the end of the day.  They will take priority during the day.
 
5. Plan to do your top-three "A" items first.
Block out your day around these three tasks and indicate on the planner the times during the day you will spend completing them.  Leave larger blocks of time for creative work.  When possible, schedule these creative tasks to coincide with your peak energy periods.
 

10 ways to declutter your day - time management tips from a mom
6. Plan to do the remaining "A" tasks next.
You can save time by doing the "A" tasks in each category together: making all "A" phone calls at the same time, running all "A" errands together, and so on.
 
7. Plan to move to the "B" tasks after you've finished all the "A" items.
Again saving time by doing those in the same category together when possible.
 
8. Check off the items as you complete them.
 
9. Carry over to the next day tasks you didn't have time to do.
List the tasks you didn't get done on the daily planner for the next day.  If you carry over tasks more than a week, consider whether you should drop them.
 
Time Management Tips #getorganized
MAGIC TIME-SAVERS
 
AN ORGANIZED INFORMATION SYSTEM
 Keep track of names, addresses, phone numbers, and files. The number-one time-waster is not being able to find the information you need when you need it.
 
USE TECHNOLOGY TO SAVE TIME
That's what it's here for, after all.  A computer, fax, and high speed printer are musts in almost any home office. 
 
LEARN TO SAY "NO" 
A simple "no" can save you hours of time.  Evaluate the requests for your time from clients, family, and friends.  You may find that many requests are in keeping with your goals, while others are clearly at odds with them. Although saying "no" may be difficult at first, with practice you will find  it easier to draw the line tactfully and protect your time.
 
MAKE USE OF IDLE TIME

 
Take advantage of idle moments, like the times when you're waiting for a call, an appointment, a Web site to load, a fax to go through or a printout.  Read the journal articles you've highlighted, take a mini-mental break, or slip out to put on dinner during these down times.
 
BUILD A TIME CUSHION INTO YOUR PLANS
In estimating how long it will take to do something, include the time it takes not only to do the actual work but also to get ready, set up, drive to and from where you're going, and put it all away.  Then add in some leeway for the inevitable delays in getting the job done.
 

 time management tip: using a timer by Leah on October 8, 2012
MAKE QUICK DECISIONS ON SMALL MATTERS
Decisions take energy.  When the stakes aren't high you can afford to make snap decisions.  So, when deciding things like which brand of paper clips to buy, save your energy and act impulsively.
 
MULTI-TASK
Do two or more things at once.  This is the time-saver of the era.
 
KEEP A LIST OF FILL-IN JOBS OR FIVE-MINUTE TASKS
When you're between projects and waiting on hold, there are myriads of mini-tasks you can do: jot down the agenda for a meeting, write a note, clip an article, sort incoming mail, proofread a letter.
 
This is not to say you should be working every minute of every day; breaks and idle time throughout each day and week are important to refresh your mind and spirit.  So never get so organized that you don't have time for spontaneity and relaxation.
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NEXT WEEK: CLOSING THE DOOR ON WORK  

 
 

STICKING TO BUSINESS
AND WORKING EFFICIENTLY

Once you get started, your work can develop a momentum that keeps you going all day.  But sometimes it can be as difficult to keep working as it is to get started in the first place.  Household distractions and interruptions, poor work habits, lack of planning, or procrastination can thwart your efforts.  Before we consider these problems, however, let's take a new look at what it means to "stick to business."
 Creative space—office and bookshelves.
Traditionally, it meant sitting at your desk riveted to work tasks without interruption and looking busy even if you weren't.  Actually, once people start working at home with no one looking over their shoulders, they're often surprised to find they work better when they don't "stick to business" in such a traditional way.
 
Freed from sticking to business in the strict sense, people generally find shortcuts that get the work done more efficiently.  The secret to doing this, however, lies in being able to make the distinction between breaks and distractions, and between shortcuts and diversions.  Supervisors can't make these distinctions, because to an onlooker they often appear the same.  But you you can tell the difference, and when working from home you will probably have to.
 


great colors
Nine Steps for Maximizing Your Efficiency

Taking the following steps can dramatically improve your work habits while still providing for the flexibility that makes working from home so appealing.

* Plan the workday

* Safeguard your work from unwanted distractions and interruptions.

* Recognize and sidestep procrastination.

* Set reasonable work goals.

* Praise yourself frequently for your work.

* Reward  yourself for a job well done.

* Take frequent, regular breaks.

* Schedule work so it won't conflict with your favorite extracurricular activities.

* Arrange for a change of scenery

Love this! #procrastination #humor | http://funnycommercialadsphotos.13faqs.com
PLANNING YOUR DAY

Planning your workday at home is not much different from planning a day at an outside office, with one important exception.  Since your home and office are so closely interwoven, we recommend planning your entire day at one time-work, household responsibilities, social activities, and so on.  Otherwise it's too easy for one to interfere with another.
Using a planner specifically for classes, a planner specifically for apointments and work shifts, and some type of organizer for going to the store and getting needed items wether food or something for a class is a really good idea. Yeah, you would have a ton of journals but its really helpful planning wise. I may be in highschool, but I think I need a planner from urban outfitters or something
In selecting time-management tools, make sure that the one you choose is more than a simple monthly calendar and address book.  Time management involves much more than just entering appointments. A time-management system should include a calendar for the year, month, and week, a daily planner, a place for setting goals, building and prioritizing "to do" lists, and planning projects. If you are using a paper system, it should allow you to add, subtract, and rearrange pages to suit your needs.

............................................
Next Week: A SUREFIRE DAILY PLANNING PROCESS

SETTING YOUR GOALS
Steps to Better Goal Setting

Picture 48
 
1. Set specific goals
 
To create a workable system, first establish what you need it to do.  In creating a system for managing both your household and your office,  ask yourself questions like these:
 
* What does success mean to me?
 
* What are the five  most important things in my life?
 
* What do I want to accomplish in my work?
 
* What is important to me about my home? My family? My friends?
 
Make a list of goals you have for your career, your personal development, your relationships, your children, your home.  Be specific. 
 
* How much money do you want to make?
 
* How large do you want your business to be?
 
* What skills do you want to develop?
 
* What do you want to provide for your children, or for yourself in terms of your own personal development?
 
* When do you want to have achieved these goals?
 
* What do you want to accomplish this year? Next year?
 Make the most of every day and go after your goals that will take you to your dreams.  Get my FREE Goal setting report here!
2. Turn Your Goals into Specific Tasks
 
The more specific you are about what you need to do to achieve your goals, the easier it will be to create a system that will help you meet them.  In designing a system for your office, identify the specific tasks you will need to do in order to achieve each of your goals.  Ask yourself questions like these:
 
* What will I need to do to get this accomplished ?
 
* How much money will it take?
 
* How much time will I need?
 
* When do these things need to be done?
 
 
High school days with @Maggie Danowska Chlopek @Marceline Tempesta
3.  Set Priorities
 
The principle of setting priorities is expressed by the familiar adage "First things first."  It involves putting the tasks you have to do in logical order.  If for example, you have to run errands, make phone calls, do paperwork, and hold a meeting, decide which of these activities needs to be done first, second, third, and so on.  If you have ten phone calls to make and only a half an hour to make them before you must leave for a meeting, order the calls in terms of importance and make the most essential calls first.
 
Or when you're organizing your filing cabinet and have ten different types of records to keep track of, decide which ones are most important and which you will use most often. Then place them so they will be accessible in order of importance and frequency of use, saving the lower and more-difficult-to-reach drawers for the infrequently used and least-important files.
 
When you have a series of errands to run, save both time and gasoline by ordering the errands in terms of their location in relation to one another.
 
Awesome post on time management with 5 steps that will change your life.  Also includes a free printable goal setting worksheet! 
 
4. Put Like Things Together
 
Putting like things together can be called the "combining principle."  It's not a new idea. I heard it expressed as "killing two birds with one stone."  It's a matter of figuring out which similar things could be done together.
 
Whether you're planning your day, organizing files, or setting up a way to handle your mail, put similar tasks together.  For example, when you have to go out of the house for a business meeting or to make a bank deposit, carry out all other activities that need to be done outside the house on the same trip.  You can go to the post office and the print shop while you're out, or you can arrange your outing to correspond to the time you have to pick up a child from school.
 

Make your plan--Skinny Ms. Total Body Transformation!  It really works!  #skinnyms #transformation #program
5.  Create Routines
 
Quite contrary to the popular belief that following routines is dreary, routines actually bring your system to life.  A routine is only dreary when it becomes an end in itself rather than a vehicle for taking you toward your goals. By structuring your activities into regular routines, you save the time and energy spent making hundreds of little decisions every day and trying to remember today what you decided yesterday. Once you've discovered when, where, and how best to do something, turn it into a routine and you'll find you can operate more easily through your day according to your goals.
 
Once you've implemented a routine, set up ways to remind yourself of it.  Use calendars, timers, to-do lists, poster, index cards, or computer programs to help you remember specifics of the routines you've set up.
 Discipline~This is something I am still working on. Free spirited arsty folks often have difficulty with setting realistic goals and assessing what priorities are most important in the "now" to assist them where they want to BE. So this quote reminds us that life is a juggling act of choosing our priorities wisely than acting upon them consistently over time.
6.  Remain Flexible
 
Although you will need to follow your routines consistently to make a system work, you will soon find yourself wavering from a system that is too rigid.  Life is simply too unpredictable for any system to operate flawlessly without at least occasional changes.  So allow yourself leeway for emergencies and unanticipated events.  But then resume your routines the next time around.
 

People with goals succeed because they know where they are going.. It's as simple as that.  #life #goals #quotes
7.  Evaluate the Results
 
 At least one a month take a look at the system you've designed and see if it's working.  Are you achieving your goals?  Can you see daily progress?  Are you feeling satisfied with your business and your lifestyle?
 
SIGNS YOU NEED A BETTER SYSTEM
 
* Feeling as though you never have enough space
 
* Never having enough time for what most needs doing.
 
* Finding too much paper lying around and working its way into the rest of your home.
 
* Not having any time away from work.
 
* Not finding what you need when you need it.
 
* Being late for appointments or deadlines.
 
* Doubting your ability to manage your work.
 
* Feeling things are getting out of hand.
 
* Discovering overdue bills.
 
* Not knowing your bank balance.
 
* Failing to return phone calls because you feel embarrassed that it's been so long since the person called you.
 
* Feeling that you have to do everything yourself.
 
* Procrastinating
 
* Not getting important things done because of endless interruptions.
 
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GETTING ORGANIZED and STAYING THAT WAY

Goals
* Become a self-organizer

* Evaluate what's working for you and what's not

* Organize your home office

* Set goals and priorities

* Create productive work routines

John Derian's inspiration wall

Although the single most frequently mentioned advantage of working from home is freedom and flexibility to do what you want when you want the way you want, when one actually lives with the joys of near-total freedom, it's not uncommon to hear comments like the following.
 
"My work is taking over the house.  There are stacks of paper everywhere and I can't find what I need.  I'm not getting as much done as I should and I'm always behind.  There's so much to do, I don't know where to start!"
 
This common refrain has led a few who begin working from home to move back to an office before drowning in overdue projects, missing receipts, and backed-up paperwork.  For some, just the fear of such havoc is enough to keep them from thinking they can successfully work from home in the first place.
 
Its important to keep in mind that most of us have had little or no experience in running our lives with complete freedom.  No matter how much we think we're ready for 100 percent control of our lives, when we actually get the opportunity, it can be somewhat overwhelming.
 


Those who have faced the chaos of total freedom, however, and gained experience working from home find that success comes from creating a system for managing work and life.  With a system tailor-made to your needs, goals, values, and preferences, you can get both your work and your home organized and keep them that way.  You'll be able to find the things you need when you need them.  You'll have the time to accomplish your priorities. And you'll be able to enjoy the extra time you've saved by not commuting to work.

To work at home successfully without the familiar office routine, you have to become a self-organizer, someone who can create and operate your own systems.
 
BECOMING A SELF-ORGANIZER
 

1.  PEOPLE WHO ARE ORGANIZED REALIZE THEY CAN BE IN CHARGE OF HOW THEY DO THINGS.
 
Self-organizers,  have discovered that even if it doesn't seem so, they're free to choose how they do things.  They also live with the consequences of their choices.  Often self-organizers only gain this wisdom after they start working from home.
 
2.  SELF-ORGANIZERS KEEP THEIR PRIORITIES IN MIND AND ORCHESTRATE THEIR WORK AROUND THESE GOALS 
 
Knowing what's really important to them pervades everything self-organizers do, from which hours they spend working to their choice of tasks.
 
3.  SELF-ORGANIZERS TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR WHAT HAPPENS IN THEIR WORK
 
 Because they realize that they can usually structure their work the way they want to, self-organizers have also learned that they're responsible for whatever results they get.  If they aren't getting what they want, they realize it's because their approach isn't working.  They take responsibility for problems as well as solutions.
 

 

 
4.  ALTHOUGH SELF-ORGANIZERS OFTEN DON'T REALIZE IT, THEY HAVE MADE A HABIT OF FOLLOWING THE BASIC PRINCIPLES OF GOOD SYSTEMS ORGANIZATION
 
Natural self-organizers have learned the principles of good systems organization by osmosis.  They picked it up from their parents, a teacher, or on the job.  The most common way people learn organizing habits is from the way they were taught to clean up their rooms as young children.
 
 
.........................................
Next week: Setting Goals 
 
 
 




KEEPING YOUR WORK and PERSONAL LIFE SEPARATE

A peaceful marriage of home and office depends on establishing effective boundaries.  The office, with its phone calls, mail, paperwork, noisy equipment, and business visitors, can invade the sanctity of the home.  In the same way, friends, neighbors, kids, barking dogs, soap operas, and peanut butter sandwiches of home can clutter up the halls of business.  Creating effective boundaries preserves the character of each.  Fortunately, the boundaries you set up to maintain the privacy of your home will also help create a professional business atmosphere.  Recognizing the boundaries you need to create is a first step in making practical decisions that will ultimately affect the success of your home office.
 
  
Blog author found this desk and chair at a flea market for $100.  What great luck!!
SETTING BOUNDARIES BETWEEN YOUR HOME AND OFFICE

There are many tools and techniques for setting boundaries between your home and your work.  Walls, doors, windows, lighting, furniture and clothing are all material means you can use to define the boundaries your want to create.  How you organize your time and arrange your space-your office location, work schedules, and household rules-are other more subtle means at your disposal.
 
Let's  consider some of the basic decisions you need to  make about the boundaries of your home office.  If you answer "yes" to seven or eight of the questions, you'll want an office that is separate structure or at least a separate entrance for business guests.
 
* Do you close the door when you work?
 
* Does the sound of music, television, children's activities, or people talking in the background distract you from your work?
 
* Do you prefer to work independently and autonomously?
 
* While you're working, would you rather not see what's going on outside your office?
 
* When you're concentrating on a particular task, do you ask people not to disturb you?
 
*Do you have phone conversations or business meetings that should not be overheard by others in the house?
 
* Is it important to your business visitors that they not be seen or overheard by one another while they are in your home?
 
* Do you have information in your files or records that must be kept confidential?
 
 
 home office decorating ideas. Great idea I'm trying to go for a mini office area this is perfect!
If you answered "yes" to just four to six of these questions, involvement with people and other activities is important to you, yet a separate work space might still be required.  You'll likely want a door to your office, but you'll also want ready access to what's going on outside the door at different times during the day. If you work alone at home, arrange at least weekly contact with colleagues, co-workers, friends, or clients.
 
If you answered "yes" to only one to three of the questions, you'll probably prefer your office in the midst of plenty of activity.  In fact, you may want an open office space in the heart of the household.  If you work alone at home, occasionally try to take your work out to your clients' sites or to a public place like a restaurant, library, or  hotel lobby.  Try to have contact each day with customers, clients, co-workers, family, or neighbors.  If there's nothing going on at  home, you may even want to create activity there by turning on music or the TV.  
...........................................................
 





BRINGING YOUR CURRENT JOB HOME

Salaried work at home grew at an estimated 20 to 30 percent a year during the 1980s.  In a study of corporate plans for the nineties, it was reported that 56 percent of corporations plan to allow home-based work in the future.  Increasingly, companies are finding it makes more sense to move the work than to move people.  Some companies institute formal work-at-home programs for which you apply in order to work at home; however, the majority of companies that allow employees to work at  home do so on a more informal basis.
  

home office ideas | ... -Home-Office-For-Two-People-at-Wonderful-Small-Home-Office-Ideas

 
The extent to which you can work from home without a formal program depends on what arrangement you can make with your supervisor.  Whether done on a formal or an informal basis, being able to work at home means first proving that you are capable and reliable self-starter.  Even then, you can still expect to have some convincing to do.
 


 home office make over - Google Search
HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER YOUR JOB CAN BE DONE AT HOME
 
* Does your job require little face-to-face contact?
 
* Can needed face-to-face contact be scheduled into a weekly time at the office?
 
* Are the expectations for what you produce and when you produce it clear? 
 
* Is your performance easily measurable?
 
* Can you work without physical access to resources and materials at the office?
 
* Does the job require a great deal of concentration without interruptions?
 
* Is there adequate security at your home for your work?
 
 

love the layout but not all the pink
Salaried Jobs You Can Hold at Home

Accountant
Advertising sales representative
Architect
Auditor
Bookkeeper
Computer programmer
Computer systems analyst
Desktop publisher
Editor
Graphic designer
Instructional designer
Insurance agent
Insurance claims adjuster
Lawyer
Market research analyst
Marketing planner
Medical transcriptionist
Patent searcher
Real estate agent
Researcher
Reservation agent
Secretary
Social worker
Speech writer
Stockbroker
Technical writer
Telemarketer
Travel agent
Webmaster
Web site designer
.................................................






 

Why I Choose Kangen Water Business Over Franchise Business.
HOW TO DETERMINE WHETHER FRANCHISING IS FOR YOU

When you buy a franchise, you are buying a successful format and the assistance to use it effectively.  To help decide whether you are interested in owning a franchise, ask yourself:
 
* How much structure do I need?
 
Are you already proficient at most aspects of running the type of business you are considering?
 
Do you prefer to operate with a lot of flexibility and few rules?
 
Do you work best when you make your own rules, or are you new to this business and uncertain about how you should proceed?
 
Do you like to rely on the guidelines, policies, and procedures of someone with greater experience than yours?
 

Getting a Right Franchise Business.
How much am I willing to pay for the support?

Could you almost as easily learn what you need to run the business from books, seminars, college programs, or consultants, or does the franchise offer a superior or proprietary method of doing business that will give you a clear-cut advantage in attracting and satisfying your future customers and clients?
 Top trends for franchise business in 2013
Do I  have enough working capital to make the business work?
 
Generally you need at least three to six months to generate a profit.  Could you start such a business for less than what the franchiser wants as a down payment?  Would you be able to arrange for such financial backing if you were on your own?
 
TYPES OF FRANCHISES YOU CAN RUN FROM HOME
 
Alarm and security service
Balloon Delivery
Bookkeeping service
Business consulting
Business networking organizations
Carpet cleaning and dyeing
Carpet restoration
Catering service
Cleaning service
Computer classes for children
Computer consulting
Dance classes for preschoolers
Elder care
Financial planning
First-aid training
Holiday lighting and decoration
 
50 Simple Holiday Decor Ideas {Easy Christmas Decorating} Saturday Inspiration and Ideas - bystephanielynn
Home inspection service
House-sitting
Interior decorating
Lawncare service
Newborn announcements
Party planning
Payroll services
Pet-sitting
Photo IDs for children
Prenatal education
Furniture Restoration
Furniture painting 
Dresser Painted with "Flow Blue" Milk Paint. The details on this piece are gorgeous!
Skin-care products
Photography
Tax preparation
Upholstery cleaning
Wedding planning
Window-cleaning service
 
The criteria you apply when picking a franchise should be similar to those you'd use to select any business.  Ask yourself the following.
 
* Will this franchise let me do something I enjoy?
 
* Am I knowledgeable about or interested in learning more about this field?
 
* Is this a business that people in my community need and will pay for?
 
* Is the franchisor reliable, reputable, and financially solid?
 
.................................................
Next Week: Salaried Jobs You Can Hold at Home
    



FINDING OPPORTUNITIES RIGHT UNDER YOUR NOSE


Hobbies for stay-at-home moms. Not sure if this will ever be me, due to workaholic tendencies ;) but who knows, maybe one day! 
 
If possible, turn your favorite hobby or interest into a business.  There's nothing better than getting paid to do what you most enjoy. 


Wash your windows the fastest way with crystal clear, streak-free results. Try washing windows with a squeegee and I bet you'll never go back to a spray bottle and paper towels.

Start a Business Doing Things Other People Hate to Do

* Income tax service

* Investment counseling

* Estate planning

* Real estate management

* Inventory or mailing-list management

* Selling (as an independent rep)

* Cleaning service

* Window washing

* Van and RV washing

* Shopping and gift-buying service

* Equipment repair and fix-it services

* Pickup and delivery service

stopping by the country store.


Use Your Van or Pickup Truck to Start a Business

* Gardening

* Carpentry or house painting

* Swimming-pool maintenance

* Home maintenance and repair

* Mobile lunch wagon

* Party-plan sales (clothing, cosmetics, computers, housewares)

* Plant-care service

* Hauling or moving service

* Mobile computer-repair service

There are a lot of special people in my life & The time to Connect & Celebrate is NOW!!!Celebrating Friendship (Old & New).
Use Your Kitchen to Start a Business

* Catering services

* Homemade cakes and cookies

* Pet-food products

* Specialized candy

* Healthy snack food

* Hot sauces

* Cooking service for specialized diets (macrobiotic, vegan)

* Cooking school

* Herb and spice packages

* Canning gourmet fruits, jellies and preserves

"Piano Lesson" I want this piece of art!! So perfect for above my own piano! I love it!!
Other Ideas for Putting Things Around the House to Work

* Use your piano for lessons, or rent practice time on it

* Give swimming lessons in your pool

*  Turn a family room into a day-care center

* Convert a side porch into a hothouse and sell exotic plants

* Turn your yard into an organic vegetable garden and sell the produce

* Dry the flowers growing in your yard and create gift sachets

Enchanted garden, green moss with pink florals for the guest book table
Turn What You Know into a Business

* Plan parties and weddings

* Become a consultant (management consulting, wardrobe or color consulting, interior decorating, home and office organization consulting)

* Write and sell "how-to" books (how to find a job, how to grow prize-winning azaleas, how to coach Little League soccer).

* Teach classes, give seminars, or tutor in your areas of expertise

* Put your knowledge on the World Wide Web and solicit advertisers and sponsors, or charge for the content you provide

* Publish a specialty newsletter (backpacking organic gardening tips, guide to summer camps)

.....................................
Next Week: 66 Types of Franchises You Can Run from Home
From No Fee to $50,000


WHAT IT TAKES TO GO OUT ON YOUR OWN


Love the half circle mouse pad looking idea on desk top.
What is the "right stuff"?  What does it take to achieve a successful home-based business?  The answers were almost as varied as the people themselves.  However, our interviews do indicate that those who achieve success have several things in common.
 
* They enjoy what they're doing enough to keep going when times are rough.
 
* They are good at what they do.
 
* They specialize, providing a product or service that a particular group of people wants or needs.
 
* They have learned how to market themselves and their businesses. They know they measure up to their competition.  This helps them explain why their prospective customers should come to them and informs them how to get the word out about their businesses to just the right people.
 
* They stay in charge of their money.
 
* They are flexible enough to adapt to unforeseen circumstances and adjust their workday to the demands of the business.
 
* They believe in themselves and are sufficiently committed to their work, persisting until they get the job done right.
 
Success depends on finding the right combination of your personal preferences, talents, and skills that meet real-life needs people will pay to have met.  The next step is to clearly define your business goals and develop an effective plan for reaching them.  It's like putting together the pieces of a puzzle, starting with selecting the right business for you.
 
 
Home office idea...above the desk...could use large envelopes for stuff like paper, etc.  MAYBE use green room for office and jut in for desk area with his chair in front of window. Blue room for other bed and small table only! Use baby  cradle in front of window with plant in it!
Will you succeed?  That, of course, depends on you, but the odds are surprisingly in your favor.  Contrary to the myth that nine out of ten new businesses fail within five years, home businesses do much better.  Why do home businesses do better then office-and store-based businesses?  Probably because the risks of loss are fewer.  There's no lease, and there probably are no employees, so the cost of staying in business is less.  Add to this the fact that if you choose a business that you like doing, you're more apt to persist even if success is slow in coming. 
 
TURN WHAT YOU ENJOY INTO A BUSINESS!
 
If possible, turn your favorite hobby or interest into a business.  There's nothing better than getting paid to do what you most enjoy.  Here are some ideas...
 
* Creating arts and crafts
 
* Becoming a travel guide
 
* Selling antiques or collectibles
 
* Selling cosmetics
 
* Interior decorating
 
* Teaching dance and exercise classes
 
* Offering tennis lessons
 
* Breeding, training, and grooming dogs
 
* Giving singing or instrumental music lessons
 
* Appraising collections (stamps, coins, art )
 
home office make over - Google Search
TURN YOUR EXISTING JOB SKILLS INTO A BUSINESS
 
Accountants, communications specialists, engineers, graphic artists,care personnel, lawyers, programmers, sales and marketing professionals, scientists, secretaries, teachers-people from all walks of life-are turning their salaried jobs into profitable independent businesses.  What job are you doing now?  Consider how you could turn it into an entrepreneurial venture.
 
Here are some questions to help identify what you enjoy most:
 
* What do you get involved in and intrigued with that you lose track of time?
 
* What do you do first when you get to a new city you've never been to before?
 
* What are you doing when you feel most like yourself?
 
* What are you doing when you like yourself the most?
 
* What are you doing when you feel most alive and energized?
 
* What do you like to talk about? What are other people talking about that draws you into the conversation?
 
* What do you take immediate action on? What do you delay doing?
 
* What do you do during your time off?  When you're on vacation?
 
* What do you read?  What newspaper or magazine headlines catch  your eye?
 
* What do you collect? What mementos and photographs do you keep around your home and office?
 
.................................................
 
Next week:  Different kinds of start up businesses.




DECIDING WHETHER WORKING FROM HOME IS FOR YOU

Home office idea. Don't love the colors, but like the basic desk & monitor setup and large photo wall behind.
Despite facing the common problems, experience clearly shows that the difficulties you may encounter need not be roadblocks if you are sufficiently motivated to find a way over, under, or around them.
 
How will you know if working from home is for you?  Who is suited to work from home?  Indeed there are certain personal qualities that seem to make working from home easier, particularly at first.  As a general rule, those who are most successful are self-starters who like the line of work they're in, know what they want, and are determined to achieve it.  They enjoy working independently and are comfortable with minimal structure and ambiguity.  They are capable of establishing and following their own schedules and deadlines.
 
Surprisingly, however, we find that although these attributes make it easier and less stressful to begin working from home, they are not prerequisites for success.  Many people now successfully working from home did not have these attributes when they started out.  Apparently, the ability to work from home and to find it rewarding is not the result of having a certain disposition or unique talents; it's more a matter of wanting to do it enough to find ways to make it work.
 
The Perfect Office - Adata DashDrive UD320, JBL Pulse Speaker, Fujifilm X-M1 Camera and Office Ideas 
 
 
 Most of us do not initially have the mind-set or knowledge set to work successfully on our own because we've had so little opportunity to acquire them.  But research indicates that achievement is one human quality that's not determined by innate capacities; it's something we can learn from the experience of doing. Instead of asking yourself whether you are already suited to work from home, ask how much you want to work from home and to what you are willing to learn how to do what it takes.

When You Probably Shouldn't Work from Home
 
* If working face-to-face on a daily basis with team members is required or preferred.
 
* When you really don't like your work or would rather avoid it.
 
* If you're someone who starts lots of things but never seems to be able to complete them.
 
* When you live in a discordant or otherwise unpleasant household.
 
* If you're severe, chronic workaholic.
 
* If you are an obsessive, perfectionist housekeeper who can't stand seeing a little dust build up, a crooked picture frame, an unwashed dish in the sink, or a pile of papers scattered on the coffee table.
 
* When you're struggling with a severe addiction or serious domestic difficulty.
 
Home office ideas
Whether you find working at home a pain or a pleasure will depend primarily on you.
 
Here are some questions to answer when deciding to make the move home.
 
* Do you enjoy spending time in your home?
 
* Is there adequate space for your work?
 
* Do you like your neighborhood?
 
* Do you get along with your neighbors?
 
* Are the business resources you need available within a reasonable distance?
 
* How will others you live with react to your working from home?
 
* Will you enjoy being around them more often?
 
* How will your customers or clients, your boss or co-workers feel about your working from home?
 
*Can you replace the benefits you receive from your job, such as health and life insurance, disability insurance, retirement plan, paid vacation time, etc.?
 
homegirllondon:  http://homegirllondon.com/home-office-ideas-reclaiming-vintage-industrial-design-ethics/ 
 A trial week or even a weekend of working at home can help you discover what you need to do to make it practical for you.  Once you start experimenting, you may find you'd rather fight than switch back to an outside office.
 
..................................................
 


 

COMMON PROBLEMS
Home Office Decor by zomoc.com, via Flickr

Even with these many advantages, working from home is not without its challenges, at least initially.
 
Expectations and Reality May Vary
 
Often the problems people anticipate they will have when working from home are not the same as those they actually encounter.  The good news is that problems occur much less frequently then people fear.  Overall, the most common problems were these:
 
*separating work and personal life
 
*lack of space
 
*not being taken seriously
 
*distractions from family and friends
 
*lack of privacy
 
*lack of time
 
*missing support personnel
 
*childcare
 
*staying away from the refrigerator
 
You'll notice that many of these common problems arise from the freedom, flexibility, and autonomy working from home provides.
#homeoffice 
 
Separating Work from Personal Life
 
Since the whole day is spent under one roof, some people report they have a difficult time juggling the demands of both home and business.  They're bothered by family interruptions, housework that needs doing, deliveries and service calls, friends who drop by, barking dogs, and not having a transition period between work and play.  They find it hard to switch gears from the computer to the Cuisinart and back again.  The inverse is true as well.  Clients may call during family time, sometimes even insist on stopping by.  Deadlines are often tight and temptation to work long hours may be difficult to resist.
 
I like the a lot about this photo - the desk, photos, wall color, even the yellow chair is kinda cool!
Being Taken Seriously

In our survey, slightly fewer than one in five home-business people reported a problem with being taken seriously by customers, clients, supervisors, co-workers, colleagues, family , or friends.  To some, working from  home raises the fear of missing out on promotions, losing touch with the grapevine, and being forgotten when special projects that could advance a career. Entrepreneurs worry about their professional image and whether clients will consider a home-based business a substantial one.
 
Although a few horror stories of lost clients and missed promotions are enough to cause anyone to panic, concerns about credibility are usually much more of a problem initially then in the long run.  If you take yourself seriously and project a professional business image, others will take you seriously, too.
 Home, Office, Decorating, Ideas, Pictures
Self-Management
 
Although research consistently indicates that productivity goes up when people work from home, without the structure of a formal office routine about one in ten people in our survey has had a hard time with self-discipline.  They report problems with getting out of bed, getting to work, and sticking to business.  Some find sneaking in too much TV and taking too many trips to the refrigerator. At the other extreme, the survey shows that 15 percent have difficulty closing the door on work and leaving it behind at the end of the day.  Work becomes all-consuming because it's always there.
 



One of my absolute favorite styles is industrial chic. It's all th rage right now and I can't get enough! This style incorporates vintage and modern pieces (hence the oxymoron "industrial chic") and more specifically vintage pieces that seem to have a mechanical flair.
Feeling Isolated
 
While nearly a third were concerned about isolation in the Roper study, only 10 to 12 percent of those in the other surveys reported actually feeling isolated and lonely.  They said they missed the social contacts of an office setting. We've found problems with feeling lonely are more likely to occur under three circumstances.
 
1. A shaky start.
 
Problems with isolation are more common in the beginning, when new open-collar workers aren't fully clear about the direction their work is taking.  They don't know whether their business or job at home will work out, and there's an initial lack of structure.  Once business routines get going and they begin working with clients and colleagues, this problem disappears.
 
2. Solitary work.
 
Sometimes problems of isolation are related to the fact that the nature of the work involves virtually no personal contact.  When your work demands long hours alone, however, feelings of isolation can arise whether you are working from home or in an outside office.  So, it's important to take "people breaks".  People working from home also need to create a support network of friends and colleagues they can readily call on.
 
3. A social personality.
 
About one-sixth of the American population is primarily motivated by the social interaction of their work.  For these individuals, talking and dealing with others is the central focus and highlight of their day and working from home can become a problem indeed.  Knowing this, few such people are attracted to working from home.  They're only tempted to do so when illness, child-care needs, or some other necessity requires them to consider becoming home based.  If you fall into this category, we recommend that you do whatever you can to stay in an office setting or, when that is not possible, arrange to have partners or employees who work with you at home.
 
Next Week: Deciding whether working from home is for you.
.......................................... 





PUTTING AN END TO NINE-TO-FIVE


 
Hoping to visit Sequim again this year during the Lavender Festival!

WHAT TO EXPECT
 
For those with creative business minds, working from home can be the ticket to realizing their potential.  For single parents, and many women, working at home facilitates juggling family and career.  For fathers, it can lead to more time and involvement with their children.  For others, it's a step toward goals like financial independence, relocating to an idyllic locale, or simply escaping from the exhaust fumes, crowded trains, and congested freeways that bedevil most commuters.
 

Highway Congestion Linked To Adult Asthma
Working from home can provide the means for stretching a tight budget or maintaining an accustomed lifestyle in difficult economic times.  Couples who have invested time and energy in building meaningful relationships find that their investment pays greater dividends when they work from home.  For the retired, or the increasing number of people considering early retirement, working from home becomes a way of contributing, of staying alive and vibrant.  And for many with disabilities, it's the door to self-sufficiency and a productive future.
 
Working from home can be the answer to many dreams.  But what can you really expect?  What are the actual benefits you may enjoy and what problems might you encounter?
 
Office at home 
MOST PEOPLE LOVE IT!!
 
Although working from home is not for everyone, most people doing it are quick to recommend their lifestyles.  Tom Miller of Link Resources, who has been conducting the National Work-at-Home survey for years, finds that about one out of five people has a "complaint"; the rest are happy.
 

YOU HAVE GREATER FREEDOM, FLEXIBILITY, AND CONTROL

When we ask people what they like about working from home, they tell us over and over again it's the freedom.  They cherish the flexibility, convenience, and control it gives them over their lives.
 
Freedom means different things to different people, however.  Freedom to set your own hours, freedom to be able to do socially meaningful work, wearing pajamas until late in the afternoon
 
Your control extends to when you work and what you believe is the most important or pressing task.  No longer do you need to react to a boss's urgency like a fire department responding to an alarm.  You're not a captive of modular office systems.  You have the freedom to create an office with the lighting, color scheme, furnishings, music, and noise level of your choice.  And even though you might have family and household distractions, there are fewer interruptions than at an office.  You're away from office politics, backbiting, and the disagreeable people you would never invite into your home.
Creating a small office
YOU GET MORE DONE
 
Research consistently indicates that productivity rises 15 to 25 percent when work is done at home in telecommuting programs.
 
It is also well established that the self-employed are the most productive people in the economy.  With fewer interruptions and meetings and less office politics, it's not surprising that both the employed and the self-employed get more done at home.
 
Psychological factors contribute to the productivity gains of working from home.  People experience a sense of ownership of their work, gaining a new feeling of pride in accomplishment.  They work at their own pace.  If you're a morning person, you can begin your work bright and early to take advantage of your peak hours.  Or, if you mind functions best after the sun goes down , it's your choice to burn the midnight oil.   When you feel better, you do better.
 
Post your #PrayerRequest on Instapray. #Pray with the whole world ---------> www.instapray.com 
 *  If you operate your business from home, you can usually keep your overhead down so that your break-even point is achieved far more quickly.

*  You can save money on the obligatory office collections, luncheons, and purchase of candies, and cookies from other people's children.

*  Even when they cover equipment costs, companies, too, usually save money by allowing employees to work at home. 

*  For the self-employed it means only one monthly rent or mortgage payment.

*  The sky's the limit when you run a business from your home.  How much you make depends on your own ingenuity, determination, and willingness to work at it.

"One quarter of home businesses earn over $75,000 a year."

Although most home-based businesses don't reach six-figure incomes, the financial gains can nevertheless be substantial.

Best Way To Get Fit And Healthy 

STRESS GOES DOWN, HEALTH AND LIFESTYLE GET BETTER

Would you like to feel more relaxed, eat a healthier diet, have more time off, exercise more?  That's what the top five positive effects of working from home were, according  4,100 Making Money with Your computer at Home readers.
 
In contrast, nearly half of American workers worry about their jobs and feel pressure.  Two in every five workers find their jobs to be "very" or "extremely" stressful, and 35 percent are thinking about quitting.
LEADING CAUSES OF STRESS
 
*  Job security
 
*  Heavy traffic
 
*  Interruptions at the office
 
*  For women, having to balance work and family demands
 
Working from home reduces or eliminates all these major causes of stress.
 
COMMON OFFICE-RELATED STRESS FACTORS
 
*  Fluorescent lights
 
*  Ringing telephones
 
*  Clattering equipment
 
*  Buzzing conversation
 
*  Cafeteria junk food
 
It is well established that lower stress means better health.  Stress lowers the white blood cell count and the immune system's resistance to disease.  Heart disease and high blood pressure, are acknowledged to be stress-related diseases.  Not only do people working from home experience fewer of the major causes of stress; they also have more time to exercise and more control over what they eat.  Better health is one of the greatest benefits of working from home.
 
Next Week's Topic: Common Problems of Working From Home
 
............................................
 

 


PUTTING AN END TO NINE-TO-FIVE

Provence
Imagine your workday beginning with a brisk walk from the breakfast table to the den.  The extra time you save every day by not commuting to work is available to do whatever you want: sleep late; work out; spend extra time with your children; garden; or get a head start on the job that needs to be done.  Think of it.  Even if you have only a twenty-minute commute each way, ending your daily commute is like getting an additional four-week vacation every year.
 
Interested?  You're not alone.  According to repeated surveys, one in three American workers would prefer to earn their livelihoods at home.  Today we have that choice, and more and more people are choosing the work-from-home lifestyle.  Of course, for most of us, going to work from nine to five, or a version thereof, has been the story of our lives.  But for many, it's no longer a very satisfying way to live.  For others, like the handicapped, the elderly, or parents with small children, working away from home isn't always feasible.  Until recently, they had few choices.
 
Home office ideas - wall storage 
Working from home is not a modern invention.  During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, European merchants set up shops and artisans their work areas on the main floors of their homes.  Family living was done in a single shared room upstairs.
 
In the late 1800s, the Industrial Revolution's demand for workers drew people from their homes and farms to staff factories and offices. The advent of the automobile helped make working at home unfashionable except for writers, artists, and some salespeople.  However, history has a way of repeating itself.  In 1980, Alvin Toffler, in his book The Third Wave, was predicting an upsurge in what he called "electronic cottagers," people who would be working from home in a computerized information age.  And indeed, today's information-centered society has opened many opportunities for people to work at home, with or without computers.
 
Office people
 
 
AFTER-HOURS WORK
 
The largest number of people with home offices are corporate employees who bring their work home after normal working hours.  They are generally referred to as after-hours workers, and their numbers continue to grow.  A recent Fortune magazine poll of five hundred chief executive officers revealed that the majority expect their subordinates to put in more hours than they did ten years ago. Fifty and sixty-hour weeks are common.  The result is that legions of overstressed survivors of downsized corporations are thinking  about another way of living and working.
 
Once someone starts taking work home and has set up a working office, it becomes tempting to spend more and more time there.  So we find that after-hours work often leads to taking office work home during the daylight hours as well, and even more frequently, to a growing number of sideline home businesses.
 
  ARTICLE: The Plain Wood Table | A Tribute, Great idea for our new business office space :). Inventory on the back wall a table as a desk love the lighting over the table/desk
 
Home-based business owners refer to themselves in a variety of ways: as small businesses, home businesses, self-employed, independent contractors, entrepreneurs, freelancers, or consultants.  If you're already working from home or seriously thinking about it, your definitely in the right place at the right time.
 
IS WORKING FROM HOME FOR YOU?
 
When you venture into working from home, familiar routines are no longer.  You get up in the morning and with just a few steps, you can be at work.  Unless you have somewhere special to go that day, you don't even need to get dressed.  When do you actually start working?  Where is it that you'll work?  Your desk?  The couch?  Chances are you'll be the only one there, unless your kids pop in or a neighbor drops by, and then what do you do?  In every case, it's up to you.  No wonder people have such diverse reactions!  The whole experience is different from everything we're used to.
 
Have toddler-will work! Essential tips to working from home with your children-MUST READ!
Some people flourish with the freedom, and others flounder.  Some handle the change matter-of -factly while others find it profoundly upsetting. 
 
Reporter Duane Tompkins's experience was quite different.  "When the editor told us we could work from home and send in our copy by computer, I was excited.  It sounded great.  But it wasn't what I expected.  I became disillusioned right away.  I missed the hustle and bustle of the pressroom and everyone being up against the deadline together.  Without anyone else around I found myself goofing off, and I was always at the refrigerator.  I think I gained twenty pounds before I finally decided to move back downtown."


NEXT WEEK PART 2
WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT

.......................................................


 
SO YOU WANT TO SELL YOUR CRAFTS?
 
From the book:
You Can Make Money From Your Arts And Crafts
Steve and Cindy Long
 
WHOLESALING YOUR ARTS AND CRAFTS
 
"Most people begin wholesaling on a small scale."
 
PART 2
 
The purpose of doing wholesale trade shows is not to make a lot of over-the-counter sales as is the case with retail shows. Rather, the purpose is to "chum the waters" and stimulate wholesale business.  The ideas is to develop accounts that will continue to be profitable for you year after year.  To have any chance of success, you must present yourself as a professional business person who is capable of handling large volume orders.  Your retail show experience will prepare you to feel at ease when dealing with wholesale buyers.
 
Rachel Riley Wholesale Clothing & Trade Shows
Make it easy for these people to buy your product.  The buyer must be convinced that your product would be a good-selling retail item.  It should be easy to display and be well-packaged.  A retailer will not have the time or the desire to demonstrate your product as you might do at retail shows.  Therefore, your packaging must do this work for you.
 
Pharmaceutical Distributors and Drug Wholesalers
Have plenty of free sales literature on hand.  It should be complete with quantity discount pricing. Get the names of potential contacts so that you can get in touch with them following the show.  setting up a drawing for a free sample of your product is a good way to do this without directly asking everyone who stops by your booth to leave a business card or sign a register.  (Actually, a free drawing makes collecting business cards easy; just put up a small sign asking people to drop their business cards into the "ballot" box from which the winning entry will be drawn at the conclusion of the show.)  Remember, these individuals are potential wholesale customers, and a single name could represent thousands of dollars a year.
 The ENK Children’s Club show continues to prove itself to be one of the top notch wholesale trade fair events in the United States. Specializing in kids’ apparel and accessories the show provides an enormous range of product lines and collections from some of the most talented designers in the world – all under one roof.
Be sure to offer an incentive to encourage buyers to commit to orders at the show.  As with any buyer, you must aim to close the sale while the buyer is hot and before he cools down.  A buyer in the hand is worth ten "be-backs" in the bush.
 
When you finally do meet the big-time buyer who likes your product and who wonders aloud if you are able to handle an order of 10,000 units for starters, will you choke?  We hope you will look them in the eye, reach for your order book and say, "Sure, I can handle that.  when would you like them?
 
5 Reasons Why You Should Attend A Trade Show| Signworld Display Wholesale
Because of the potential for a chance at big bucks, these fairs are professional and competitive.  getting accepted to one of them is an achievement worthy of celebration.  If you decide to try selling at wholesale shows, enter only the larger and better-established trade fairs since they are the ones that attract department store buyers.
 
 Our Thyme is a manufacturer and wholesaler of note cards and gift cards that feature the owner's artistic photography. The Homer Group design and printed all of the cards in their series, and also design and produced this booth display that was used at wholesale trade shows.
Wholesale business can also be generated by contacting wholesalers through the mail.   Because you are not dealing with these businesses face to face, it is especially important that you look good on paper.  Use good-quality letterhead.  While at the printer's shop, have some legal-size envelopes, shipping labels, and sales invoices printed with your name and address.  Other business forms that are used less frequently may be purchased at an office supply store as needed.
 
The way you look on paper, your telephone manner, and your service all influence the way that potential customers feel about doing business with you.  After all, they are professionals and expect you to be the same.
 
Made in America, our trade show is the largest national wholesale market with 1,000 studios and 7,000 retailers committed to qualify American Made designer products.
When you and your product are ready for the big time, consider developing a network of sales representatives.  You can market your product at very little initial expense through companies that provide national sales representation.  These companies employ sales representatives who cover different territories and present products to retailers.  They show your samples and distribute your literature.  Best of all, they pay their own expenses, and ideally, they will also write lots of orders for you. 
 
In return for their services they are given an exclusive right to handle marketing within the specified territory, and they are paid a commission on all orders they write.  The commission is calculated on the basis of the total of the wholesale invoice, less freight costs and any allowance for returned merchandise.  Generally, they are not held accountable if a retailer's account is past due.
 
By building a network of sales representation through setting up agreements with several companies that work in different territories, your product can be sold nationwide with almost zero cost to you.  Naturally, it's smart to go slowly at first and test these waters before you jump in with both feet.  By contracting with only one or two representative organizations at first, you allow yourself some time to get your wholesaling education.  Your product, packaging, literature, and display may need changes in order to be retailed successfully.  Make sure everything is being done in a first-class manner before trying to go national.  If you do this, retailers will be able to sell your product in volume, and everyone will make money.

 
Wholesale Jewelry Industry business Insights http://www.polygon.net/jwl/public/trade-resources/jewelry-insights-en.jsa
Your choices for wholesaling your products are not limited to attending wholesale trade shows or contracting with sales representatives. You can also contact retailers on your own.  Department stores, mail-order houses, college bookstores, gift shops and museum shops all represent good possibilities for wholesaling your arts or crafts.

 
........................................ 
 
 
 
It is important to understand the difference between wholesalers and retailers.
 
A retailer sells to the public in small quantities and charges full price.  Discount stores operate with lower margins but still are considered to be retailers. A retailer usually buys his stock from a wholesale distributor or, less frequently, directly from the manufacturer.
 

Basic Hints To Help You Make Money Reselling Wholesale Boutique Jewelry
 The wholesale distributor buys merchandise directly from the manufacturer.  Wholesalers work on very small margins, usually about 10 percent.  This margin varies, but the point is that wholesalers buy and sell at wholesale prices.  The retailer, on the other hand, buys at wholesale and sells at retail.   All of this may be old news, but we have found that these basic differences between retail and wholesale are often misunderstood by artists and crafts people.
 

Amazing site to get wholesale craft and party supplies!
When an artist or crafts person is considering wholesaling, the following questions need to be answered:
*Can I produce enough to sell my product in volume?
 
*If so, what kind of production capacity can I handle at present without additional help? Next month? Every month?
 
*At what production level would hiring employees become necessary?
 
*How much more would I have to make and sell to justify the cost of hiring additional help?
 
*Am I able and willing to sell my product for half its normal retail price?
 
The answers to these important questions should help determine if wholesaling is right for you; and , if so, at what level.
Wholesale Craft Supplies for Crafters - list of links for crafting supplies of all kinds
Getting into wholesale exclusively will probably require a little more money then you first think.  This is because most wholesale accounts do not provide cash with their orders.  You may have to wait from 60 to 90 days before the checks start rolling in on a regular basis.  It is important to develop a realistic wholesale strategy.  In the wholesale market place, products that can be easily reproduced have a tremendous advantage over products that are labor intensive.  Remember that a product cannot be delivered to a retailer unless it is ready for sale, which means well-packaged and complete with instructions.


Have you ever wondered what's the difference between a wholesale trade show and a retail show? StudioKat Designs- A Work in Progress: Ask Kat: Wholesale or Retail Show? Whats the Difference?
 
WHOLESALE TRADE SHOWS
 
Doing wholesale trade shows is the best way to get started in wholesaling.  When you show your work at these shows, you get to meet and talk with the big-time buyers. This allows you to develop insights about how they think and what they expect.  If arts and crafts shows are like high school, then wholesale trade shows are like the university.  Although you might be able to take university courses online, you certainly get more for your money by attending classes in person.
 
 

The ENK Children’s Club show continues to prove itself to be one of the top notch wholesale trade fair events in the United States. Specializing in kids’ apparel and accessories the show provides an enormous range of product lines and collections from some of the most talented designers in the world – all under one roof.
Wholesale trade shows are advertised in the trade magazines.  As with art and craft shows, we suggest that you consider only the bigger and well-established wholesale shows.  They are the ones that attract the buyers for major department stores. 
 
 The ENK Children’s Club show continues to prove itself to be one of the top notch wholesale trade fair events in the United States. Specializing in kids’ apparel and accessories the show provides an enormous range of product lines and collections from some of the most talented designers in the world – all under one roof.
Preparing for wholesale shows is much like preparing for retail shows.  The main difference is that in retail shows you must rush and serve many people to get a large number of smaller orders.  Wholesale shows require that you pay much more attention to fewer customers with the expectations of writing volume orders.
 
Some crafts people do the bulk of their annual sales by exhibiting at just one or two shows of this type.  Wholesale shows are usually restricted to members of the trade, and business cares are required for admittance. Show participants are given a catalog listing the artists and sales representatives.  As they walk through the show, interesting booths and artwork are noted for future contact.  Some orders are actually written at the show, but most orders are placed afterwards.  The obvious advantage of exhibiting in person at wholesale shows is that if someone likes you and your work, they will buy lots of it!
 3 tips for using wholesale or trade shows to boost your biz
You might be able to share a space if you cannot get a whole booth space for yourself.  The larger shows fill very early. Sometimes taking half of a space may be your only option.   another possibility is to have your products shown by a sales representative who has already reserved space in the show.  Still, nobody can or will sell your product like you can.  If you are going to play in the big leagues, send in the first team and represent your product yourself.
 
Part two next week!
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From the book
Selling Your Crafts
Susan Joy Sager
 
CRAFT FAIRS
 
How do you know if craft fairs are the right market for your work?  Do your customers shop at craft fairs?  Should you do wholesale or retail fairs?  What does a jury look for when selecting work?  How do you design a great booth?  Or make a sale?  Craft fairs can be a great way to get the word out about your work, try your pricing, get feedback on a new product, as well as get some valuable tips from the other exhibitors.  Each weekend, hundreds of craft fairs take place across the United States offering the country's more than 10,000 fulltime crafts people the opportunity to make a living from their craft.  How do you find the right fair for you?
 

 Need lots of handmade signs. Craft fair display ideas
Keep in mind that there are different types of craft fairs that cater to different types of clientele.  For example, a free craft fair at  your local school will draw a different crowd than a juried fair in a rented hall with an entrance fee. There are local fairs in which anyone can participate, juried fairs that are very competitive, and every type of fair in between.
 
Knitted birds - love them!  Somebody makes these at a craft fair I go to and seeing them here, I'm definately going to get one, as they're so cute!
No matter what type of craft fair you do, how will your potential customers hear about it?  Will they see an ad in the local paper, hear about it on the radio, see a TV commercial, or receive an invitation in the mail?  Is it an annual event that they mark on their calendars where they plan to do their holiday shopping?  Finding out how well the fair is advertised and the type of people who attend are very important factors to help you decide whether or not to participate.
 
Market Stall craft show fair booth design with furniture instead of craft tables---I like this as a wedding display
There are several ways to research fairs and make an informed decision about which fairs are the best for you to attend.  Before writing a check for the application and booth fee, and sending in your application, do a little research and consider doing the following.
 
*Subscribing to a magazine that lists and reviews fairs.
 
*Calling your local or state craft organization for suggestions of fairs in your area.
 
*Asking other crafts people for ideas-many craftspeople not only have firsthand experience doing fairs, but will share valuable tips and information with someone just starting to do crafts fairs.
 
*Visiting the fairs you are interested in.  Keep a copy of the fair's advertising book so that after the show you can call the promoters and a few exhibitors with a few questions.  Although a fair may be good for one exhibitor, it may not be as good for another, so you will need to draw your own conclusions.
Mortimer Fun Day Craft Fair 03 by OddSoxUK, via Flickr. Another great idea to target craft customers is to leave out a nice notebook so that passersby or shoppers can leave their email addresses. Make sure yours is on your business card and website if applicable.
HERE ARE SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK THE FAIR PROMOTERS
 
*What type of people come to this fair?
 
*How do customers and buyers find out about the fair?
 
*Is the work usually contemporary or traditional?
 
*What is the booth fee?  Are there other fees?
 
*Can you tell me what the average sales are for exhibitors in my medium?
 
*What price range seems to sell best?
 
*How are exhibitors selected?
 
*Is there an application deadline?
 
*What is the notification date?
 
*How many applications do you usually receive for this fair.
 
*How many booth spaces are available?
 
*How are space assignments made?
 
*Is this an indoor or outdoor fair?
 
*What is the average attendance?
 
*Do you have volunteers to help?
 
*Do you send exhibitors information about lodging, restaurants, and directions? 
 
*Do exhibitors need a special sales or tax license?
 
*Where do I call?
 
*Do you have any suggestions for me?
 
 Love these ideas for making your site more appealing. @Katie Hrubec Hrubec Schmeltzer Kelley
Before you call promoters or exhibitors for information, make sure you can briefly describe your work and your customers.  Remember to thank them for their time.  Once you have done some research on fairs, it will be clear which fairs are right for you.


 
ao with <3 / DIY inspiration for craft fair table to sell your crochet / brown paper stamped with big golden spots /  think I might have to spice up my craft fair display. This is pretty adorable.
One important question you need to ask exhibitors.  Will you exhibit in this fair again?  If they say yes, then you can assume that it was a profitable show for them or at least good enough for them to try it again next year.  If they say no, ask why.
.........................................  
 
 
From the book:
Crafty Superstar
Grace Dobush
 
 
BE YOUR OWN PR PERSON
 
"Self-promotion has been the most difficult thing for me.  I'm a very shy person, and painfully so when it come to talking about my own work," jewelry maker Samantha Lopez says, Perhaps the most valuable lesson I've learned is to have the ability to see what I do as not only my passion but also my job.  Detaching myself from it in a way has made everything much easier to handle."
 
The first step to becoming your own PR person is to develop your elevator pitch.  How would you describe your business, in just a few seconds, to someone you've never met? 
 
  
Creativity without strategy is called art, Creativity with strategy is called advertising! #advertising #quote
ONLINE TACTICS
 
Start a blog, if you don't already have one.  It's a great (and free) way to show your work and create relationships with your customers.  It's a good way to build a following, especially if you post freebies like tutorials or desktop wallpaper and pretty photos of what you're working on.
 
If your going to do the blog thing, keep in mind .
 
* Post at least once a week-but several times a week is even better.
 
* Let readers get to know you.
 
* But don't get too personal.
 
* Use lots of pictures!
 
* Don't use the blog solely for self-promotion.
 
* Always spell-check.
 
Public Relations | Advertising is saying you're good. PR is getting someone else to say  you're good.
OTHER PR OPPORTUNITIES
 
An awesome way to get noticed is to contribute to the Sampler, a monthly mailer started by the indubitable Marie Kare and now run by Etsy. 
 
DIRECT MAIL
 
Direct e-mail is perhaps the best and easiest way to drum up sales.  Collect the e-mail addresses of anyone who buys stuff from you and have a sign-up area on your Web site and a sheet at craft shows.
 
Make it clear that you won't sell their addresses or use them for anything other than periodic messages from you.  If someone asks to be removed from your list, do it promptly and without argument.
 
Send out a message every month or so to remind people that you're still around.  Let readers know what you've been up to, what new projects you've been working on, the newest items in your shop and where you'll be selling this season.  Make it personal-don't just blatantly market to them.
 
   Inspirational Quote "Excellence Is Not A Skill It Is An Attitude" Poster Print 8x10
 
WEB SITE ADVERTISING
 
Another cheaper option is to advertise on magazines' Web sites.  The rates are generally lower than they are for print ads.  Craft-focused Websites and blogs also offer ad space for businesses.  Which of the sites you visit on a daily basis are ad-supported?  Do a little digging to find their rates or at least their ad coordinator.
 
The real grassroots route is to trade links with other crafters.  Most crafters' Web sites have a page for links to other like-minded shops. (If you don't have one you should make one!) Usually, if you e-mail crafters you admire and ask to trade links, they'll be happy to oblige!  Some crafters even use banner or button ads for trading.
 
10 WAYS TO KICK-START YOUR SALES
 
* Give an item to a popular craft blog or Website for a give away
 
* Put your store URL in your e-mail signature.
 
* Offer coupons to repeat customers.  Keep them coming back for more!
 
* Give a gift certificate to the fan who creates the best You Tube video about your products.
 
* Create a tag or a pool on Flickr for customers to use to post pictures of themselves with your goods.
 
* Put links to your store in all your social networking profiles.
 
* Offer free shipping for a limited time with a minimum purchase.
 
* Include cool items with every shipment (buttons, stickers, stuff like that.)
 
* Create a coupon code exclusively for your friends on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter or Flickr.
 
* Post about new items in your blog once a week. ( If it's regular, people will come to anticipate your latest offerings!)
 

Nothing is more relaxing to me then being creative. Creating things for other people that make them smile brings me such joy!
..................................................... 
 
 
ARE YOU READY?
Selling At A Show
 
 
TABLE DISPLAY
 
First impressions are everything at a craft show.  If your table is cluttered without a visible business name and no prices to be found, it's the aesthetic equivalent of bad BO.
 
If you've been to any craft shows, you know that the most popular sellers have the most eye-catching, pretty or unusual table displays.  It doesn't take big bucks to make a great setup-all you need is a good imagination and a little planning.
 
Practice your setup on the kitchen table before you unveil it at a show.  Ask a friend to give you feedback , and take pictures so you can replicate the layout on the day of the show.
 

 
Craft fair booth idea//whoever thought of this is soooo creative & thanks for sharing///
It's key to think vertically.  A table with everything laid out flat doesn't catch anyone's eye from across the room.  Use shelves, boxes or stands to create height.  Some sellers turn down the table and use room dividers or other completely vertical displays for their wares.
 

craft fair set-up idea - but i like it to display CD's or band promo stuff - flyers, stickers, business cards. yes.
 Assuming you're working with the common 8-foot folding table, the cornerstone of  your display is the table covering.  (Nobody wants to see all that scratched up Masonite.)  It  should match your biz's look.  Try plain kraft paper or corrugated cardboard.  Go with a patterned bed sheet or curtains.  Try something unusual like some Astroturf or bubble wrap.
 
Go through your closets and kitchen with new eyes.  What could you use for a display?  Try a coat rack, clean off the dish rack, or use a stack of cool-looking books as props.
 

Craft fair tips and display ideas but many craft ideas in her blog as well.
Thrift stores are also full of things you can turn into killer table displays.  Wooden crates...sanded and painted. Picture frames, shelving, baskets, get creative.
 
One thing to keep in mind as you're devising a table display is the fact that you'll have to be able to set it up, tear it down and transport it.  Also make sure your display is weatherproof if you're going to do outdoor shows.
The Southern Stamper: Craft Fairs
CREATIVE TABLE COVERINGS
 
Tablecloths
 
Astroturf
 
Kraft Paper
 
Burlap
 
Designer Fabric
 
Sheet Metal
 
Old Newspaper
 
Bed Sheets
 
Old Curtains
 
 Tips on selling at craft fairs by Hello Harriet : Renegade London 2013
Renegade Craft Fair, London
 
Boxes - LOVE this! so simple, neat and eye catching, it would all pack down into each other too
Ladder display!  Very creative!
 
Pretty neat idea if you have a larger display space  by LuckyDuckyDesigns, via Flickr
 
jewelry display ideas | Recent Photos The Commons Getty Collection Galleries World Map App ...
jewelry display ideas | DIY: Craft fair and jewellery display ideas | Jessica Joy
 
Would this be the thing that gets the girls to put their hair bows away?  We have the perfect lamp to try it out.
 
........................................
 
 
 
 
 
THE APPLICATION
 
Most of the big craft shows are juried, which means the organizers decide who makes the cut based on an application.  The competition is stiff-some shows have acceptance rates rivaling those of Ivy League colleges.
 
Organizers have a lot of things to consider when choosing who sells at their fair.  Is there a good balance of different kinds of crafts? (Jewelry is notoriously over-represented in most application pools, for example.)  Is a crafter doing something really unique?  Some shows set aside a certain number of tables for newbies each year.  Others really love focusing on local talent.
 
Cute Display! I love the bright colors and how everything is organized...
If you're new to the craft show scene, consider sharing a table with a friend.  It can boost your chances of getting in because it's less risk for organizers to have two new crafters share a table then to give an entire space to someone who's never sold at a show before.  Plus, it boosts the overall diversity of the show. 
 
Liz Rosino, who started Craftin' Outlaws in Columbus, Ohio, has developed a precise process for selecting crafters.  "After the deadline, all the complete applications are sorted into categories, such as jewelry, handbags and paper goods, " she says.  "It's really important to me to have a large variety of types of items-there are only so many booths for jewelry or bags.  Those are probably the most popular categories, so they're the hardest to get a spot in.  We even divide it down to people who make beaded jewelry, silver jewelry and so on, to make sure we have no duplicates."
 
Craft Fair Booth Ideas | BOOTH/ CRAFT FAIR IDEAS / Mooresville 005 | Flickr - Photo Sharing!
Cooper says she looks for people using unique materials with a special focus on sustainability-economic as well as ecological.  "We give extra points to recycled or fair trade items, and look for people who are being paid fair wage," she says.
 
If you really want to get into a show, the most important thing is to follow application instructions to a T, be on time and use photos that really do justice to your work.
 
REJECTION
 
Got turned down by your dream show?  Don't get discouraged.  Some big shows get up to four times the number of applications they can accept.  That means the judging committee has to reject some really good crafters.  If you have 500 applicants or more, organizers get nitpicky.
 
So if the show organizers ask for attached photos, don't send a link.  If you have to pay the table fee when you apply, don't let yourself forget!  (Table fees are generally returned to non-accepted crafters after the decisions have been made public.  Whether there's a nonrefundable fee varies from show to show.)
 craft fair display ideas for cards | Craft Show / Display Ideas / Switch cards to soaps!
If you do get the dreaded "thanks but no thanks" e-mail, be gracious. 
 
TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS
 
Getting that first congratulatory e-mail from the craft show organizer is an exhilarating feeling.  And now the real work starts!  Aside from tons of your crafts, a table display and other odds and ends, you also have to figure out your travel and lodging arrangements if it's not a local show.  Often the organizers will send info on affordable lodging-some even try to match up crafters with local hosts or hotel roommates.  It's a good idea to reach out to your Facebook friends to see if any wayward relatives or college buddies live in the area you're visiting.  Check the list of crafters selling at the show to see if any live near you, and send them a friendly e-mail to see if they're interested in carpooling.  If you've got to go it alone, check sites like Priceline and Kayak for airfare and hotel deals. 
Craft Fair Idea:  Create several paper flower/button ribbons to put on presents. 
 
........................................................ 
 
THREE HOME-BASED BUSINESSES FOR WOMEN
 
PET SITTING
 
This business generally involves visits to clients' homes to feed and exercise their pets.  Your services may  include a home security check, watering plants, or collecting mail or newspapers.  Most owners of pet sitting services are bonded.


 
PET TRANSPORTATION
 
This business involves transporting dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, and other animals to veterinarian visits, grooming appointments, boarding facilities, or other destinations the owner wishes.  You provide a useful service for people who are not able to transport their animals, who have busy work schedules, or who just like the convenience of the service.
 
ANSWERING SERVICE
 
This is an excellent niche for home-based businesses.  Even though answering machines, cellular phones, voice mail, and call forwarding abound, many businesses still prefer a personalized answering service, and customers often prefer talking to a person when they have a question, problem, or complaint.
 

If you are interested in any of these businesses, start researching!
............................................. 
 
 
FINDING A  GOOD WORKSPACE
 
 again, a very functional space! small shelves on the wall hold smaller jar and can items, drawers under the counter top in short reach makes it easy to find everything or put stuff away as soon as finished with it.
It's no fun to have to tear down your kitchen table workshop every time you  need to eat. This is a good time to finally clean out the attic or take over the guest bedroom.  If you're in a small apartment or are otherwise strapped for space, you can always get crafty with it.
 

A scrapbooking workstation. Pros: very clean and straightforward.  Cons: Small worksurface, not much room to set aside an in progress project while you work on a different one.
 
Think of your setup like a Murphy bed: Create something that you can stash away as is without a lot of fuss.  This could be a low table that fits under your bed or boxes of materials that you can pull out of the closet when it's time to get crafty.
 
Friday Pinterest Round-up: Office/Craft Room Ideas - Debbie Does Creations
Taryn Hipp used to have a dedicated crafting room but now just sets up shop wherever she can.  "If I can find a flat surface where there's not a person or an animal, I will fill it with stuff," she says.  Hipp runs the online consignment shop My My out of her bedroom.  "I have all the My My inventory on this shelving rack, that takes up an entire side of my room.  the only sign of it being a bedroom is the bed.  Otherwise you'd think it was an office.  I am completely OCD and love to organize-but I'm also a pack rat.  I have a detailed filing system, with a folder for each consigner where I store contracts, invoices, correspondence and payment receipts."  The inventory she separates by category and organizes alphabetically.
 


small space craft organization
 
Holly Klump recently bought a house and turned part of the basement into a studio for herself."  I painted it how I wanted to, and there's no computer down here, so I'm not distracted.  I think that's important, she says.  "In the last apartment, I had a craft room, but this is like my craft dungeon."
 
 

using vertical space; buckets and hooks on rods - these are from ikea but could use what you have with curtain rods & big curtain hooks.  i like the long oval buckets - bigger space but flatter against wall.  Also like: mirror with magnetized small containers & row of clips for artwork
 
Kati Hanimagi has a well-lit room in her house dedicated to Oddball Press.  "It's crammed with my cluttered desk, computer, all my inventory, filing cabinets, a work table, flat files and miscellaneous bookcases," she says.  "This is where I design, correspond, pack up orders, store products, and tend to the daily accounting tasks.  It's not a picture-perfect organized office-it's full of mismatched bookshelves exploding with stuff, abandoned filing cabinets, an old-school teacher's desk covered with paper trays a sewing table that the fax machine's on, and three different receptacles to hold recycling."  The basement holds her small, tabletop letterpress, but the ceiling is low and there's not a lot of room to work.
 
 
 craft room armoire that contains equipments on shelves and hanging from the doors
If your living space doesn't lend itself to craft production, you might be able to find an artists' co-op or art studio that offers space for a monthly fee or help with maintenance.  Asking around and googling may turn some up in your area.   If there isn't anything that fits your needs, DIY!
 

FYI
Let your insurance company know that you're running a small business out of your home to make any necessary changes to your homeowner's or renter's policy.  If  you don't have the appropriate riders, the losses to your business might not be covered if a disaster strikes.  On the plus side, there are some tax deductions you can claim for a home office.  Check with a tax adviser to find out if you qualify for any.
 
WORKSPACE IDEAS
 
I must do this!!    Attach a small magnet to the bottom of each glitter glue/paint bottle.
 
 
Attach a small magnet to the bottom of each glitter/glue/paint bottle
 
craft closet - organization in a small space.  love.
 This is so clever. If I had a closet this large in my home, I would definitely try this! I need an organized space to set my sewing machine up in, but yet have it out of the way at the same time.
Great organization in a long narrow room.
 
Leuke kamer voor alle hobbyspulletjes
 
HOME BASED BUSINESSES
 
FLOWERSCAPING SERVICE
 
In this business you buy flowers from a wholesaler or raise them yourself, then plant them in your clients' flower beds.  Give advice on what kind of flowers should go where.  After you plant the flowers, you can either let your client maintain them, or for a weekly fee, you can do the weeding, watering, and pruning.
 
GARDEN CONSULTING
 
The popularity of gardening as a hobby-one of the biggest in the United States-has created a demand for gardening information of all kinds.  You help people plan and design their gardens, suggesting the best flowers, shrubs, trees, and even decorative structures for the area.  
 
GROWING HERBS
 
Herbs in the past few years have become popular for use in home remedies, in potpourris, in gourmet cooking, and by gardeners who want to grow them for their beauty and practical uses.  You can make money growing herbs by selling them wholesale or retail or by making and selling your own herbal products.
........................................ 
 
 
 
PRICING!
* What are you going to make and sell?
 
* Where do you want to sell it?
 
* Who's your competition, and what are they up to?
 
* Who are your customers?
 
* How much money do you need to get started?
 
* How much time do you expect to devote to the business?
 
PRICING
 
Pricing is a terrifically tricky area. When you're first starting out it's tempting to charge just what you spent on materials, but don't sell yourself short.  Charging for the time you spent making each item might make your sticker price seem high, but a person who makes things by hand can't compete with 
big-box stores' prices. Most people are so far removed from the manufacturing process that they have no idea of what making something really costs.

 How To Become A Craft Vendor At Festivals!    http://niftyat50.hubpages.com/hub/So-You-Want-To-Be-A-Craft-Vendor#
CUSTOMER PERCEPTIONS
 
One thing's for sure: If you price  your work too low, customers will wonder if it is cheap, and that's no good.  In crafting, pricing your work low isn't going to increase demand. Honestly, at a craft show  you'll see more people buying $5 letterpress cards than flimsy cards that cost 50 cents.  Generally, the misers who complain about high prices at shows don't appreciate the hard work it takes to make something by hand.  Pay them no mind-they weren't going buy from you anyway.
 
When your selling at craft fairs or through Etsy, you can start a dialogue with your customers about pricing and why you charge what you do.  Instead of being afraid, look at the crafters who are established and are charging what they're worth.  Ask them how they set their prices, if for no other reason than moral support. If you're going to a big craft show where a lot of people's prices are lower than yours, practice your answers about why your prices are so high.  Have fun with it-make a little FAQ and put it on your table, even.  Explain that you use sustainable materials, or that your stitching is time-intensive and impeccable and long-lasting.  Engaging with your customers is what gives your product value, because they care about the item, but they also care about their relationship with you.
 

 Customers wanted. Experience - not necessary.
There are always going to be people whose bottom line is price.  They're not your target market, and that's a hard thing for people who love their work to let go.  "You'll make  your compromises, and excuses to keep doing what you love, " Bacon says. "But look at yourself as an employee and ask, "Is it reasonable to be paying myself $7 an hour for this?
 

 
Face Fear.
OVERCOMING PRICING FEAR
Lauren Bacon
 
"A lot of us work from a place of fear that no one's going to pay us what we're worth.  When you're running  your own business, you should come up with a list of reasons why you are worth that much.  Figure out exactly what  your costs are, calculate a price and have a friend tell you what they think, because you're probably still undercharging.


 



 
HOME BASED BUSINESSES FOR WOMEN
 
1.  CURTAINS, DRAPERIES, AND SHADES
 
Sewing custom curtains, draperies, and shades is a profitable home-based business.  Some began by using their sewing skills to decorate their own homes and then expanded to doing window treatments for friends, relatives, and eventually customers. Start off your business part-time before you invest in expensive equipment.
 
2.  CUSTOM APPAREL
 
If you are talented with a needle and thread, then consider the three examples of custom apparel businesses that follow: wedding gowns, accessories, and headpieces; christening gowns and prom gowns; and clothing for people with special needs.
 
3.  CUSTOM CUSHIONS AND PILLOWS
 
In this business, you make custom cushions of all sizes and shapes for the following: dining room chairs, Adirondack chairs, boat seats, window seats, patio furniture, rocking chairs, and benches, to name a few  You can also make pillows to match your clients' furniture
 
4.  UPHOLSTERY
 
A good upholsterer is always in demand because many people have a favorite piece of furniture they do not want to throw away.  Your customers can include individuals as well a small businesses.  One mother home schooled her two sons and also had a steady home-based upholstery business.
Side note:  As an Interior Designer...I am always having people ask me if I know someone who does upholstery.
 
................................................... 
 

WHY HANDMADE?
 
Aside from the simple satisfaction that comes from making something yourself, there are a couple major reasons for craft's popularity.
 
* People appreciate the personal relationships they have with makers.
 
*Buying handmade is also a stylish alternative to sweatshops and mass-produced goods.
 
"The exciting thing about craft and DIY is that everyone can do it." says Faythe Levine, whose documentary, Handmade Nation and its accompanying book have gotten rave reviews. "There's no one saying that you have to do it one way; it's about having the creative urge and following through with it.  Deciding what you want to do with it afterward is up to you."
 
PART OF THE JOY IS THE AWKWARDNESS
AND OBTUSENESS OF THE WORD CRAFT.
TO SOME PEOPLE, IT MEANS POM-POMS
AND PIPE CLEANERS, AND TO OTHERS,
A PERFECTLY MADE WOODEN ROCKING
CHAIR BY SAM MALOOF.
Garth Johnson
 
Before you decide to cross over from casual crafter to crafty superstar, you should consider two things: your motivations for selling your stuff and your expectations of what will happen when you take your wares to market.
 

The most awesome thing about crafting is the fact the you're your own boss and get to decide what's important to you.  Buying and selling handmade gets us further off the grid with each ironic tea cozy and every made-to-order pair of mittens. 
 
WHAT DRIVES YOUR CRAFT?
 
Try this checklist on for size....check as many motivations as apply.
 
* Making a profit
 
* Making a living
 
* Having fun
 
* Creating a brand
 
* Serving a cause
 
* Helping the environment
 
* Growing your local economy
 
* Other
 
These are all good reasons to try to take your crafting to the next level.  One of them or some of them may apply to you.  Or you  can make up your own motivation. Just be sure your biz matches up with your motivations.
 
EXPECTATIONS
 
After you've chewed on your motivations for a while, it's time to take stock and think about what you'd like your business to look like and if you can really make it happen.
 
* Would you have fun crafting for others instead of yourself?
Can you bear to never see it again?
 
*Would you have fun making similar things over and over?
That's why finding joy in crafting is so important.
 
* Do you have the cash to beef up your output?
Buying more fabric, paper and rickrack might not be so bad, but what if you need a heavy-duty sewing machine, a ginormous printer or an industrial-revolution -size loom?  These are things to consider before you bite off more than you can sew.
 
* What makes you product stand out from the crowd?
Little details are what can make a product go from being just another mustache-on- a-stick to the must-have novelty of the summer.
 
* Is there an audience for your work?
The great thing about the Internet is that even the wackiest stuff will find a buyer, but there's a certain level of appeal required to be able to sell your stuff with any frequency.
 
* What do you expect to happen when you put your crafts out in the world?
There are always going to be haters.  Can you take the heat?  What makes a crafter successful depends on your definition of success and how you want to achieve it.  The three following characteristics will be useful no matter you M.O.: self-confidence, self-motivation and killer organizational skills.
 
Running a crafty biz means being a Jill of all trades, and you have to be a real self-starter.  The wonderful part of being your own boss is that the biz becomes your baby-you want it to flourish and strive, and I think you'll find that nurturing it comes naturally.
 
IF YOU WANT TO BE SUCCESSFUL, 
FIRST YOU MUST BELIEVE IN
YOURSELF WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT
Jenny Harada
 
The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing." ~Walt Disney #entrepreneur #entrepreneurship #quote
10 MORE HOME-BASED BUSINESSES FOR WOMEN
 
1. Child Care
With millions of preschool children in need of day care and a shortage of spaces in day care centers and preschools, the need for in-home (at home) private child care businesses is great and will continue to be so for some time to come.  Most home-based child care businesses care for four to six children, who may come full-time, part-time, or as drop-ins.  Some businesses specify the age range of the children they feel most comfortable with and can handle.
 
2. Elder Care Services
Many adults cannot take care of their elderly parents.  Elder care services can encompass a range of needs to include transportation to stores and medical appointments; running errands and shopping; daily monitoring of those who live at home; handling security checks, arranging visits by nurses and other professionals, and providing respite care workers when families go on vacation.
 
3. Errand Service
This business is as varied as the many errands individuals or businesses need to run almost every day.  Trips to and from day care centers, pharmacies, grocery stores, post offices and mailing centers, bill payment centers, and libraries are just a few of the errand-running possibilities.
 
4. Inventory Service
This service business involves taking a one-time or periodic inventory of an individuals possessions or a business's stock merchandise that involves counting and cataloging merchandise and analyzing and computing the figures into reports.
 
5. Personal Concierge
A personal concierge service differs from an errand service in that, with personal business, you work as a personal assistant for individuals-executives, busy professionals, wealthy individuals-and shop, plan meetings, , make travel arrangements, and perform other tasks that they are too busy to do.
 
6. Professional Organizer
Professional organizers assist clients in their homes and offices manage their time, papers, space, clutter, and other aspects of their personal and work lives that need order.
 
7. Resume Writing Service
No matter what shape the economy is in, resumes are always needed by job seekers-in slow economy, people downsized or laid off need a resume to look for new employment; and in a good economy, people need a resume to find a better job within or outside of their companies.
 
8. Tutoring Service
With cutbacks in funding for education, crowded classrooms, and rising numbers of students dropping out of school every year, tutoring and remedial education services are needed in almost every area of the country.
 
9. Alterations
Today, many people don't have the time to make alterations to their favorite or used clothing.
 
10. Costumes
Costumes are worn at dances, ceremonies, and parades and to celebrate holidays and special events.  Many school, community, and college theater groups need costumes for their plays and musicals but do not have the funds to purchase costumes outright.
 
If you see something that looks interesting....start doing research on it...research doesn't cost, its free.
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SO YOU WANT TO BE AN ENTREPRENEUR?
 
Being an entrepreneur isn't something I'm trying to do. I am creating and doing the things I enjoy, whole using my passion to build the business from and around them. Creating a business around my passion is natural to me. My ideas fuel my energy and drive my ambition. I am constantly creating at my business and at home. I don't know how not to!!!
Gail Smith-Peterson, Buckingham Mercantile,
Cardiff by the Sea, California
 
From the Book:
Turn Your Passion Into Profits
by
Janet Allon
And The Editors of Victoria Magazine

CHOOSING THE BEST BUSINESS FOR YOU

Do you have the right personality for a Home-Based Business?

Many financial experts note that successful small business entrepreneurs have certain characteristics in common.  How do you compare to their findings?

* Are you an independent-type person, not afraid to go in one direction while others go in another?

*Do you believe in yourself? When others ask, "Why?" do you ask, "Why not?"

* Do you know how to set goals for an objective and persist until you have achieved them, even if you make mistakes along the way?

* Are you well organized? Can you juggle numerous projects simultaneously? (Most mothers and women do this very well)

* Do you have experience and/or knowledge in the business you are pursuing? If not, are you willing to take the time to learn the needed skills?

* Do you know where you can get professional help in running your business? 

* Were you or one of your parents ever self-employed before? Many people have a fear of starting their own business. Those who have grown up with self-employed family members usually understand what it means to run a home-based business.

* Are you a good money manager? Are you willing to start small and expand as you go along, instead of overextending your business before you become established?

* Do you have good people skills?  Even though you work by yourself, you may be in the business of satisfying other people's needs.  Do you have the ability to understand, communicate, and deliver what each customer wants?

* Are you flexible and adaptable with your business goals?  Many entrepreneurs start out in one direction with their business, only to go in another, unexpected direction later.  Successful business owners are wise enough to recognize a promising trend and follow it.

* Do you have the energy, drive, and patience to make your business work?  The SBA estimates the average small business takes one to two years (or more) even to show a profit.  Most likely you will have to make time for your business while trying to maintain your other activities (another job, family matters, and so on)  You may end up working many hours over the  "normal" 40-hour-a-week job!


Will it be easy



FROM THE BOOK: 101 BEST  HOME-BASED BUSINESSES FOR WOMEN
PRISCILLA Y. HUFF

1. GIFT REMINDER SERVICE

In this business you get paid for reminding clients of important dates for special days-birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, and so forth-and for shopping for appropriate gifts.  If you are knowledgeable about fashion and trends, you could shop for the best buys for men and women executives who have little time to comparison shop.

2. PARTY AND EVENT PLANNER

A party and event planner hires caterers, florists, and decorators; rents party supplies; reserves halls or banquet rooms; books entertainment; and helps with just about anything the client needs for a special occasion. Might organize an entire event or just a part of it.

3. REUNION PLANNING

Reunion planners arrange get-togethers for high schools, colleges, or other institutions, as well as for families and members of former military units.  Reunions may be held annually or every five to 10 years.

4.  CLEANING BLINDS

Residences, shops, offices, companies, and corporations will always need their blinds cleaned.  Because blinds are difficult and time-consuming to clean, demand for this service is high.

5.  CLEANING HOMES AND APARTMENTS

With so many couples having full-time jobs today, the need for a high-quality cleaning service has grown.  Many home and apartment cleaners are sole proprietors, but some hire a staff and then manage the business 

6.  ESTATE SALES

This business involves organizing and selling the entire contents of a house or property while striving to get your clients the best value for their items to be sold.  Profits are made on a set percentage of the sales.

7.  GARAGE SALES

In this business, you sell the household goods and clothing of people who are too busy or do not want to go through the process of holding their own garage sale.

8.  REFERRAL SERVICE

This service refers potential customers to businesses that offer various products or services to consumers.  Clients might include small home remodeling contractors, hairdressers, special event and wedding planners, house-and-pet-sitting services, and professional services offered by dentists, doctors, day care services, nannies, home health care experts, and tutors.

9.  WALLPAPER AND PAINTING

Women of all ages and former occupations are finding painting and wallpapering to be a creative and lucrative home-based business, and one that will be in demand as long as people want to remodel or redecorate their homes. 

10.  WELCOMING SERVICE

In this service you welcome new homeowners to your community by introducing them to banks, stores, medical services, day care facilities, private schools, recreational facilities, and other community businesses.

These are just a few ideas...next week I will add some more to the list.
If any of these might be something you are interested in, start doing some research on what it would take to start a business like this.
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WHERE AND HOW TO SELL YOUR PRODUCT

The moment you decide to start your own business, you have also, like it or not, opted for a career in sales.  Sales is an inescapable part of business and an art in and of itself.  If you are in the business of making something, whether it's cookies, furniture, baby clothes or pottery, or if you are buying items for resale,  like antique jewelry or linens one of the first decisions you must make is where and how you are going to sell it.  The fundamental choice is between direct sales and indirect sales, or retail and wholesale.
 
In retail, you sell your merchandise directly to consumers. Retail venues include flea markets, catalogs, stores, appointment-only businesses, and web sites.  Many businesses these days combine several retail-sales methods.  When you sell wholesale, your customers are other merchants and businesses who then sell the goods to consumers.  In wholesale, you can generally find the businesses that will buy your goods at industry trade shows or through industry publications.  You can also directly approach the buyers for stores and catalogs that you think would be interested in carrying your products.
 
Where and how you sell your product will depend on what the product is, what kind of business you want to run, and on your personality, predilections, and style.
 
Generally, when we think about going into retail, we think about opening a store.  But if you are not ready for that big step or don't have the financial resources to rent a space and stock it with inventory, you can start retailing your product(s) on a much smaller, less costly scale.  Just about any town has church bazaars, street fairs, craft fairs, or flea markets.  If your product is ideal for a gift, you might investigate renting a table at a fair around the holidays.  Another low-cost option is hosting a party, or showing off your wares, at your home, perhaps with other crafts people. You could also introduce your product at a garage sale.
 Have a couple of extra ladders in the back room? Use this display idea to paint a pretty picture with your personal-care products.
Whether you decide to try selling your product at a fair, bazaar, or private showing, the biggest advantage these events offer you is the chance to interact with potential customers to see what they are drawn to and to determine whether there's a market for your wares.  Don't put too much emphasis on how much money you make....it's more important to gauge people's reactions.  Another plus for the entrepreneur who is just starting out and is on a tight budget is that these fairs are a great opportunity for some inexpensive advertising.
 vendors
Not only do you get to learn about  your customers at fairs and markets, you also learn about yourself.  Do you like this kind of customer contact?  Do you like chatting it up with people who happen by?  Discovering your own predilections and temperament will help you make an informed decision down the road about whether to open a shop or to sell your product in a less direct way.
 
You can find a listing of crafts fairs and markets in your area at your local Chamber of Commerce.  While you don't need much inventory, and the overhead is low, there are still some costs associated with fairs and markets.  You'll need to rent a table or booth from the people running the show.  Carting  your wares and setting up an appealing selling area also takes time, labor and ingenuity.  Make sure to bring colorful signs, flyers, tablecloth/covering; business cards or literature that is specific about what you do, so customers can easily remember and find you; a receipt book and lots of change; and a mailing list sign-up sheet. Eventually, you'll become more selective about the events you attend or decide to move on.
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THE IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING

YOU SHOULD NOT EMBARK ON A BUSINESS WITHOUT A PLAN
A business plan is your map, your compass, and your route all wrapped in one.

Planning is essentially a process in which we set goals and identify our ways of reaching them.  Planning a business is all about setting measurable and realistic goals or targets and figuring out the steps we need to take to hit them.  While it is disappointing to set goals and not reach them, it is down right treacherous not to set goals at all. 
 
WHY YOU NEED A BUSINESS PLAN-AND WHEN
 
Some experts hold the view that you need a business plan only when you are seeking outside investment or a loan to expand or start your business.  While this is certainly one of the main purposes of writing a business plan, it is not the only one.  A business plan is much more than a tool for raising capital.


business plan outline
First of all, a business plan forces you to evaluate your business idea, to determine whether or not your product or service fulfills a need in the marketplace; in other words, whether the idea is viable as a business at all.  Secondly, a business plan gives you a valuable tool for operating your business.  Failing to write a business plan at the outset is one of the most frequently cited mistakes entrepreneurs say they have made.
 
While it is true that some entrepreneurs, even wildly successful ones, do not write business plans,  no business can succeed without having a plan, at least in someone's head.  There is simply no substitute for thinking your business through on paper.
 
Although there is lots of paperwork involved in owning your own business, the business plan is the single most important document.  It's your dream rendered in concrete and offers a chance to think about your business in a deeper way.  The process of writing a business plan gives  you the opportunity to face the hard and inevitable questions about your business.  It is also a chance to anticipate problems down the road and to develop strategies to deal with them before they arise.  finally, a business plan is an essential tool for communicating to others your vision of your company.  It is a document you will refer to often, as well as share with potential investors, bankers, potential partners, accountants, employees, and possible customers.
 
In general, a good business plan should be twenty-five to thirty pages long, and will take you three to six months to write.  It is, of course, possible to write a shorter, less thorough one ( a five-page plan is better then none at all), but you will only benefit from a more in-depth analysis of the business opportunity before you.  It is also possible to write a much longer one, but conciseness is important as well.  If you are writing a plan to raise outside capital, there is no question that you need a comprehensive plan that lays out all of the potential risks and obstacles to success in your chosen business, and the ways in which you think you can surmount them.
 
It takes work to write a good business plan, but it will save you a lot of unnecessary work later.  Those who have gone through the process of writing a business plan wholeheartedly recommend it.  There is no down side to this effort.  Some parts of the process will be fun, some will be a chore, but all of it will prove immensely useful.  Need another reason?  Business experts say that there is a higher rate of failure among businesses with no business plan.  Even if you are an inexperienced entrepreneur, a well-thought-out business plan can make the difference between getting start-up funding and not.
 Business Plan
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WORK AT HOME OR GET A SPACE?

Home is not just where the heart is, it may also be where the money is.  According to Money magazine, some 13 million Americans own and run home-based businesses, 25 million if you count part-timers and moonlighters.  Full-time home-based entrepreneurs earn an average of $58,000 a year after taxes.
 
For mothers who want to be home with young children yet still earn a living and pursue a career, working at home can be both a flexible and inexpensive solution.  If you are starting a business on a shoestring, a home-based business offers much lower overhead.  Working at home is not an option for every type of business, but advances in technology, including computers, e-mail, web sites, and telephone voice-mail, have enhanced people's ability to conduct business easily and professionally from home.
 
You can always start your business at home and make the decision to move out and rent a space once it  takes hold and expands.
 
ADVANTAGES OF WORKING AT HOME
 
Financial:  Your overhead is substantially lower and you have the benefit of writing off a portion of your home expenses on your taxes.
 
Flexibility:  Your hours may be just as long as or longer than a job outside of the house, but you can structure and have more control over your time.
 
DISADVANTAGES OF WORKING AT HOME
 
Separation:  Separating your work life from your personal life becomes tricky.  You may end up working all the time.  Your family also has to adjust to the fact that although you are at  home, you are not always available.  This is especially difficult for young children.
 
Professionalism:  Working at home requires more self-discipline-it's very easy to procrastinate by doing chores or puttering.  If your business is one where you need to see clients, the at-home business can seem less professional to them.
 
Isolation:  Some women find working at home to be lonelier than they anticipated, especially those who have just left a job outside of the home.  When home and work are in one spot, there is the danger that you will find yourself getting out a lot less often.
 
Audits:  The IRS is slightly more likely to audit small, home-based businesses.
 
If you do decide to operate your business from your home, you need to look into any zoning restriction that might apply and your state's laws regarding work certificates or licenses.  Call your local zoning board, community development office, or planning department for information on what kinds of home-based businesses are disallowed.  Like any other business, a home-based one needs to be registered with the county clerk and to have a sales tax number.  In addition, it is wise to be as unobtrusive to your residential neighbors as possible.  Keep work-related noise, traffic, and odors at an absolute minimum.
 

 
 
  TIPS ON WORKING AT HOME
 
*If at all possible, set up a separate room or area of  your home just for business.  This will help you keep your business and personal lives separate and allow for the home-business tax deduction.
 
*Get an insurance policy to cover your equipment and inventory.  Ask your broker about an in-home business policy.  If you are seeing clients in your home, you need a home office rider in case they hurt themselves while in your place of business.
 
*Whenever possible and if appropriate, arrange to see clients and customers outside of your house, at a local restaurant.  It might not be wise to invite strangers into your home.
 
*Keep detailed records (especially in case of an audit).  Daily appointment books are good for jotting down daily expenses as well as meetings with clients.
 
*Keep separate bank accounts for business and personal uses.
 
*Set up a dedicated phone line just for business.  Consider getting voice-mail; it makes your operation sound bigger and more professional.
 
*Consider getting a mailbox for your business at Mail Boxes Etc. or other such storefront service. This is better than a post office box because it has a street address.  These commercial mail centers also take deliveries, mail packages, and help you keep yourself organized.
 
*Expect to spend from $3,600 to $8,500 for basic business equipment, including a computer with modem, a fax machine, and a laser-quality printer.
 
Here's what Gail Pittman, who started her dinnerware and table accessory business at home when her kids were small, advises about running a home-based business: "Have a good work ethic and be professional about managing your time.  Set boundaries.  Decide when home life begins and don't take business calls or make appointments during that time.  A separate phone line with voice-mail is a must.  Also, remember that if you were working outside the house, an eight-hour day is all you would be required to work."
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WHAT'S IN A NAME?

Names create impressions and are often the first thing your customers know about you.  It can help to have an accessible and memorable name. Many businesses are simply named for their founder and creator.  It both personalizes the business and suggests that it is a reflection and an expression of a particular person-you. 
 
The disadvantage of naming a business after yourself is that people will not at first know what it is you are selling.  Not until you become better known.  Another approach is to choose a name that tells prospective customers exactly what you are selling. 
 
Still others take a more whimsical approach to naming, and who is to say they are wrong?  Even apparently nonsensical words can become part of the popular lexicon if the product is good enough. 
 
The common thread in naming your business is that the name should have some meaning to your business and link to your overall philosophy and the mission of your business.  You should be able to explain why you named your business as you did, since people will certainly ask you and your employees about it,  if the meaning is not immediately clear.
 .
TIPS ON NAMING
 
* Research the competition.  What kinds of names catch you? Which are hard to remember?
 
* Bounce your name ideas off friends and strangers.
 
* Make the name easy to understand, say, spell, and remember
 
* Make sure the name you choose for your company is connected in some way to its overall mission and philosophy, in a way that both you and your future employees can explain.
 
* Make a list of several names you like when you go to register yours, in case some are taken.
 
* As soon as you have selected a name, look into whether you can reserve it as a web domain as well.  Even if you are not going to put up a site immediately, it costs very little to hold a web domain name.
   
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INSPIRATION

Entrepreneurs get ideas for businesses from just about every aspect of life. Some get them from hobbies, others from some recollected childhood passion. Some get their ideas from entering a new stage in life, such as motherhood, and discovering a niche or a need.  Some savvy businesswomen start businesses to fill a need that they as consumers have not been able to fill elsewhere.  Then there are those creative souls who find themselves starting down a path of setting up their own business without realizing this was where they were headed.
 
You gain strength, courage and confidence 
by every experience in which you
really stop to look fear in the face.
 
Eleanor Roosevelt
 
 
TIMING YOUR BUSINESS
 
NOW OR LATER?
 
When is the right time to start a business?  The decision is not unlike the decision of when to start a family.  Each is a huge life-changing commitment that is likely to consume a significant part of your energy and time at least for the first couple of years. But since so many factors must come together in order for a business to launch, some would say seize the opportunity whenever you can.
 
Timing is a personal decision; there is no one right answer for everyone about when it is best to start.  There might, however, be some collected wisdom about when not to start a business. It might be wise to postpone a launch in the wake of energy-draining or upsetting life events, the loss of someone very dear, a move to a new area, or the birth of a baby.  Since you may be unable to draw a salary from a fledgling business for the first six months or so, launching at a time when you have some saving to fall back on, or another way of paying your bills, is recommended by many.
 

www.heaveninthehome.com
PART-TIME OR FULL-TIME: THE VIRTUE OF THE GRADUAL START

Some savvy entrepreneurs test the waters before they jump all the way into a new business.  If your business idea lends itself to a slow and gradual start that will enable you to test and research your market, gain confidence, tweak your product, make a little money on the side, and keep your income and benefits coming, the gradual start is worth considering.  But at some point, you'll have to decide whether or not to take the leap. Then, there's no looking back.
 
SERVICE OR PRODUCT
 
Make no mistake, service is an important part of any business, and customers gravitate to businesses where great service accompanies quality products.  In a true service business, your customers become clients, people with whom you have an ongoing relationship, and your product is you: your labor, your expertise, your vision, your time, and your creativity.  Your involvement with your clients is much more intense, and the job is only complete if they are satisfied.  You need to be able to sense their desires, tease them out in conversations, anticipate them, and quench them.  Some of your clients will be easy, some will be tough and demanding, but regardless, you'll still have to deal with their myriad personalities.  If this degree of ongoing people-reading and people-pleasing is not for you,  you might want to rethink starting a service business.  When you are offering a product for sale (either one you make yourself or one you buy and sell),  you still need customers to like what  you do enough to spend money on it, but ultimately, they are buying a thing, not renting you.
 
Of the approximately eight million women-owned businesses in the United States, more than half, or 52 percent, are service businesses.  The service industry is booming.  In general, service businesses,  ( especially home-based service businesses) have lower overhead and lower start-up costs.  Relationships, creativity, and contacts require no storage space, and you don't need to lay out any money for inventory.
Amen!!!
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RESEARCH

You will have to do a great deal of research in order to maximize your chances for success. You need to be the expert in your particular field.  If you are genuinely passionate about the item or service you are selling, then this research will not seem like a chore, but rather like a labor of love. Passion is a good start, but it won't carry you all the way through. You need to do your homework.  Research the competition, the field, the costs. Who else is doing what you do? How can you do it better? You will need to research locations and suppliers.  Finally, you will need to research the mechanics of owning and starting a business.
 
MENTORSHIP
 
Many entrepreneurs who are just starting out fail to take advantage of a resource that is both precious and free-the advice of other, more seasoned businessmen and business women in their industry.  Seek out veterans and business people who are well-enough established so they won't be threatened by you.  Consult with organizations of women entrepreneurs to find people who can advise you. The Small Business Administration has counselors who are formerly successful retirees who are happy and flattered to offer their advice and hard-won wisdom through a program called SCORE.  No one understands running and growing a business like another entrepreneur, preferably one in a similar industry.


FINDING A NICHE
 
It really is not enough to say, "I want to open a dessert business, or a jewelry business, or a cosmetics business." You and every other entrepreneur need to find a niche.  If you intend to start a business selling something that you make yourself, something beautiful and unique, then part of your niche is built in, since  presumably no one else is making and selling precisely the same artistic creation you are.  But you still need to find out if there is a market for your designs, products, or service. Finding a market and a niche is not an exact science; even seasoned designers find themselves sometimes designing and making things that just don't sell. 
 
MARKET RESEARCH
 
Finding a niche leads you directly into market research.  Market research is a term for figuring out who your customers are, whether there are enough of them to make your business really viable, and who your competition is.  Market research does not end once the business starts. Far from it. It is an ongoing process vital to keeping a business healthy and growing.  Successful entrepreneurs urge people who want to start businesses to listen carefully to their customers and their needs, which is an ongoing form of market research. 
 
QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU HONE IN ON A NICHE
 
* What need does my product or service fill?
 
* What is my competition?
 
* What advantage does my business hold over the competition?
 
* Can I offer higher-quality service?
 
* Can I create demand for my product or service?
 
   Positivity :)
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INNER AND OUTER

Being an entrepreneur is a curious combination of inner and outer. It means finding the place where your passion and the needs of the marketplace meet. First,  you need to discover or tap into your deepest dreams, loves, and desires. Only something you are passionate about will carry you through the inevitably tough times involved in running your own business.  If you are not doing something you love, you will become discouraged all too easily, and succumb to the temptation to give up before you have given your all.
 
But here's the catch: It is not quite enough to fulfill your own dreams and fantasies. And not every hobby or interest can be turned into a successful business. You also need to find the people who will share them. That is, there has to be some need to tap into for what you are selling. And if the need does not quite exist, then you have to ferret it out and help create it.
 
Chances are that if there is something you genuinely enjoy offering, there are people out there who would love to receive it. The trick is finding those people. That, in a nutshell, is marketing.
 

great tips for working with and sewing burlap...
ASSESSING YOUR SKILLS
 
You may have skills that would be useful in starting and running a business that you have never thought of in this way. Keeping a household on a budget, planning for a trip, shopping for a family of four, for example, all demand organizational skills that are helpful in running a business. Having an eye for bargains or color, having good instincts about people, having good communication skills-like being able to write a good letter-are all strengths you may be able to draw on. In your professional life you may have discovered and cultivated talents you can draw on in the service of your own business. Perhaps you know graphic design, are a good negotiator, or are a born saleswoman.
 
In fact, as an entrepreneur, you will find yourself drawing on your previous life experiences in ways you never suspected.
 
Setting yourself up for success through thorough research and profound self-knowledge is a great way to start. Not to mention a great way to live.
 
Remember, many skills, especially business skills, are learnable. If you lack some skill that you think would be necessary for running a business, chances are there is a course, web site, book where you can learn it. Skills that aren't learnable are often hireable.  On the other hand, just because you have never done something before does not mean you won't be  good at it.  Many entrepreneurs recommend a very hands-on approach to all aspects of the business, especially when you are starting up. The education is invaluable, and you may discover skills and aptitudes you never dreamed you had.
 



TAPPING INTO YOUR SKILLS
 
SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF
 
* What are your main strengths
 
* What are your more serious weaknesses?
 
* How would someone else answer those two questions?
 
* What are  your talents?
 
* How much do you know about the business, industry, or field you are considering?
 
* What entrepreneurial skills do you have?
(initiative, risk-taking, self-confidence and the ability to learn from mistakes)
 
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THE PERSON

Entrepreneurial skill is a curious combination of traits and smarts and desire-it's the ability to see and seize an opportunity where others might not, coupled with the yearning to run your own show. It is certainly not the same as having earned good grades in school or possessing advanced degrees. In fact, many of the world's most successful business people-male and female-have been far from A students. The entrepreneurial urge and inspiration can be fed by the everyday lives women lead.
 
SUCCESSFUL ENTREPRENEURS
 
Successful entrepreneurs tend to have a determination, passion, and a positive attitude that helps carry them through the toughest times. They have the heartfelt  conviction that their product/service is the best and that they are just the person to offer it. They are willing to take what to some may seem like a risk but to them feels more like a very good bet. And they like to win.  Some of the traits that psychologists say are found in many entrepreneurs include persistence to the point of stubbornness, a strong personal need for success, a certain rebelliousness against authority, an ability to learn from mistakes, an overall optimism and willingness to see problems as challenges to overcome, a willingness to make short-term sacrifices for long-term gains, a desire to be in control, an enjoyment of being alone, curiosity, flexibility, and a certain visionary and experimental approach to things.
 We gonna make us some waves.
But just because you don't think you possess all of these traits does not mean you shouldn't start your own business. It may mean you will need to find a way around some of your weaknesses, perhaps get a partner who complements them. The important thing is recognizing your strengths and your weaknesses so you can develop strategies to either capitalize on or overcome them.
 

IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR YOU?
 
Are you good at making decisions? You will face decisions every day as a business owner. Can you make them quickly and independently?
 


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THERE ARE ALWAYS BUTS....WHEN OWNING A BUSINESS

Starting a business, entrepreneurs emphasize, is far from easy and the farthest thing from romantic. Women entrepreneurs have to laugh when they hear about someone who wants to start her own business, because she envisions being able to take it easy, work shorter hours, and enjoy longer lunches with friends. Joyce Ames, a veteran entrepreneur who handcrafts exquisite fabric-covered lampshades, puts it bluntly. "The advantage of owning your own business is that you can't get fired."


looking forward to being a PA!
Owning your own business requires more knowledge, time, planning, resources and energy than working for someone else. One rule of thumb, say experts, is to estimate the amount of time  you think you'll spend on your business, then double it. The payoff, say entrepreneurs running businesses that stem from their true passions in life, is that the time spent is among the most satisfying in their lives.

Love <3
The pride of ownership is exceeded possibly only by that of raising a good and happy child. And so, though work-and a lot of it-is very much part of the entrepreneurial equation, it somehow seems less grueling than other work. It is truly a labor of love, and the potential rewards, go way beyond profits. Though profits are nice too.
 best quotes
As Debby DuBay, owner of Limoges Antiques in Andover, Massachusetts, puts it: "Your business will be successful because it is  you. You thrive because of the gratification that success and your accomplishments bring. Now, that does not mean that it is not a lot of work. On the contrary, it just means that you are fulfilled, happy and content when you fall into bed from exhaustion.
 Bible Verse
IS ENTREPRENEURSHIP FOR YOU?
Do you get along with different personalities? When you own your own business, you need to work with a wide variety of people: vendors, service people, customers, staff, the press, bankers, etc.
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WHY GO INTO BUSINESS FOR YOURSELF?
 
Starting your own business is exciting, exhilarating, creative, and not a little terrifying. Few of life's experiences offer the thrill and variety of a new business venture. It takes both courage and conviction. As an entrepreneur, you are putting your vision and yourself on the line in a way that is vastly different from working for someone else.
 
Many women who start their own business are attracted to the independence, flexibility, and freedom to follow their own instincts and take their own risks that owning their own business affords.
 
Some entrepreneurs just have problems working for other people. They have more confidence in their own judgment than in that of others, and bristle at authority.
 
Some women entrepreneurs fall into their businesses as inevitably as rain in the tropics. Creating or collecting something beautiful comes as naturally to them as breathing, and leads inexorably to selling it. Some simply followed a lifelong passion that seemed to blossom naturally into a business of their own.
A QUESTION TO THINK ABOUT!
 
Are you a self-starter? There won't be any boss breathing down your neck when you own your own business. It'll be all up to you to initiate projects, make deals, clean up messes....
 
courage 






Sorry for the mess!!! I am changing some pages, thanks for being so patient.

 
THE 21 INDISPENSABLE QUALITIES
OF A LEADER

BECOMING THE PERSON OTHERS WILL WANT TO FOLLOW
Book By John C. Maxwell

TO IMPROVE YOU GENEROSITY, DO THE FOLLOWING

1. Give Something Away
Take something you truly value, think of someone you care about who could benefit from it, and give it to him. If you can do it anonymously, even better.
 
2. PUT YOUR MONEY TO WORK
If you know someone with the vision to do something really great-something that will positively impact the lives of others-provide resources for him to accomplish it. Put your money to work for something that will outlive you.
 
3. FIND SOMEONE TO MENTOR
Once you reach a certain level in your leadership, the most valuable thing you have to give is yourself. Find someone to pour you life into. Then give him time and resources to become a better leader.
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GENEROSITY PART 2
CULTIVATE THE QUALITY OF GENEROSITY IN YOUR LIFE

#4 DEVELOP THE HABIT OF GIVING
In 1889, millionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie wrote an essay called "Gospel of Wealth." In it he said that the life of a wealthy person should have two periods: a time of acquiring wealth and one of redistributing it. The only way to maintain an attitude of generosity is to make it our habit to give-your time, attention, money, and resources. Richard Foster advised, "Just the very act of letting go of money, or some other treasure, does something within us. It destroys the demon greed." If you're enslaved by greed, you cannot lead. 

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#3 REGARD MONEY AS A RESOURCE

Someone once said that when it comes to money, you can't win. If you focus on making it, you're materialistic. If you try to but don't make any, you're a loser. If you make a lot and keep it, you're a miser. If you make it and spend it, you're a spendthrift. If you don't care about making any, you're unambitious. If you make a lot and still have it when you die, you're a fool-for trying to take it with you.
 
The only way to really win with money is to hold it loosely-and be generous with it to accomplish things of value. As E. Stanley Jones said, "Money is a wonderful servant but a terrible master. If it gets on top and you get under it, you will become its slave.
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#2 DON'T ALLOW THE DESIRE FOR POSSESSIONS TO CONTROL YOU

According to my friend Earle Wilson, people can be divided into three groups: "Haves, have-nots, and have not paid for what they have." More and more people are becoming enslaved to the desire to acquire. Author Richard Foster writes, "Owning things is an obsession in our culture. If we own it, we feel we can control it; and if we can control it, we feel it will give us more pleasure. The idea is an illusion. "If you want to be in charge of your heart, don't allow possessions to take charge of you.
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#1 BE GRATEFUL FOR WHATEVER YOU HAVE

It's hard for a person to be generous when he is not satisfied with what he has. Generosity rises out of contentment, and that doesn't come with acquiring more. Millionaire John D. Rockefeller admitted, "I have made millions, but they have brought me no happiness." If you're not content with little, you won't be content with a lot. And if you're not generous with little, you won't suddenly change if you become wealthy.
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GENEROSITY PART 1
YOUR CANDLE LOSES NOTHING
WHEN IT LIGHTS ANOTHER

No person was ever honored for what he received.
Honor has been the reward for what he gave.
Calvin Coolidge, American President

1. PUT PEOPLE FIRST
The measure of a leader is not the number of people who serve him, but the number of people he serves. Generosity requires putting others first. If you can do that, giving becomes much easier.
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Giving is the highest level of living.
John C. Maxwell Starts In The Heart
Nothing speaks to others more loudly or serves them better than generosity from a leader. True generosity isn't an occasional event. It comes from the heart and permeates every aspect of a leader's life, touching his time, money, talents, and possessions. Effective leaders, the kind that people want to follow, don't gather things just for themselves; they do it in order to give to others.
 
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FOCUS:
THE SHARPER IT IS,
THE SHARPER YOU ARE

IF YOU CHASE TWO RABBITS, BOTH WILL ESCAPE.
UNKNOWN

WHAT PEOPLE SAY, WHAT PEOPLE DO, AND WHAT THEY SAY THEY DO ARE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT THINGS.
MARGARET MEAD

What does it take to  have the focus required to be a truly effective leader? The keys are priorities and concentration. A leader who knows his priorities but lacks concentration knows what to do but never gets it done. If he has concentration but no priorities, he has excellence without progress. But when he harnesses both, he has the potential to achieve great things.
 
So the important question is, How should you focus your time and energy? Lets start with the first of three guidelines to help you:

BRING IT HOME

*Shift to strengths. 
Make a list of three or four things you do well in your job. What percentage of your time do you spend doing them? What percentage of your resources is dedicated to these areas of strength? Devise a plan to make changes, allowing you to dedicate 70 present of your time to your strengths. If you can't, it may be time to reassess your job or career.
 
*Staff your weaknesses.
Identify three or four activities necessary for your job that you don't do well. Determine how you can delegate the jobs to others. Will it require hiring staff? Can you partner with a coworker to share responsibilities? Develop a plan.
 
*Create an edge.
Now that you've looked at priorities, think about concentration. What would it take for  you to go to the next level in your main area of strength? What new tools do you need ? Rethink how you do things, and be willing to make sacrifices. Time and money spent to take you to the next level are the best investment you can make.
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FOCUS 5 PERCENT ON AREAS OF WEAKNESS

Nobody can entirely avoid working in areas of weakness. The key is to minimize it as much as possible, and leaders can do it by delegating. For example, I delegate detail work to others. A team of people at The INJOY Group handles all the logistics of my conferences. That way when I'm there, I stick to the things I do best, such as the actual speaking.
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FOCUS 25 PERCENT ON NEW THINGS

Growth equals change. If you want to get better, you have to keep changing and improving. That means stepping out into new areas. Gwynn modeled that several years ago after he had a conversation with Ted Williams. The old pro suggested that learning to hit inside pitches would make Gwynn a better player. Gwynn, who preferred outside balls, worked on it, and his average went up significantly. If you dedicate time to new things related to areas of strength, then you'll grow as a leader. Don't forget: in leadership, if you're through growing, you're through.
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FOCUS 70 PERCENT ON STRENGTHS
 
Effective leaders who reach their potential spend more time focusing on what they do well than on what they do wrong. Leadership expert Peter Drucker notes, "The great mystery isn't that people do things badly but that they occasionally do a few things well. The only thing that is universal is incompetence. Strength is always specific! Nobody ever commented, for example, that the great violinist Jascha Heifetz probably couldn't play the trumpet very well." To be successful, focus on your strengths and develop them. That's where you should pour your time, energy, and resources.
 
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DISCERNMENT:
PUT AN END TO UNSOLVED MYSTERIES

BRINGING IT HOME....

Are you a discerning leader? When faced with complex issues, can  you readily identify the heart of the matter? Are you able to see root causes of difficult problems without having to get every bit of information? Do you trust your intuition and rely on  it as much as you do your intellect and experience? If not, you need to cultivate it. Value nontraditional thinking. Embrace change, ambiguity, and uncertainty. Broaden your horizons experientially. Your intuition will only increase with use.

To improve your discernment, do the following:

*Analyze past successes.  Look at some problems you solved successfully in the past. What was the root issue in each problem? What enabled you to succeed? If you can capture the heart of the matter in a few words, you can probably learn to do it with future issues.

*Learn how others think. Which great leaders do you admire? Pick some whose profession or gifting is similar to yours, and read their biographies. By learning how other discerning leaders think, you can become more discerning.

*Listen to your gut. Try to recall times when your intuition "spoke" to you and was correct (you may or may not have listened to it at the time.) What do those experiences have in common? Look for a pattern that may give you insight into your intuitive ability.

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Smart leaders believe only half of what they hear.
Discerning leaders know which half to believe.
John C. Maxwell

The first rule of  holes:
When you're in one, stop digging
Molly Ivins, Columnist

Discernment is an indispensable quality for any leader who desires to maximize effectiveness. It helps to do several important things:
 
1. Discover the Root Issues
Leaders of large organizations must cope with tremendous chaos and complexity every day. They are never able to gather enough information to get a complete picture of just about anything. As a result, they have to rely on discernment. Discernment enables a leader to see a partial picture, fill in the missing pieces intuitively, and find the real heart of a  matter.
 
2. Enhance Your Problem Solving
If you can see the root issue of a problem, you can solve it. The closer a leader is to his area of gifting, the stronger his intuition and ability to see root causes. If you want to tap into your discernment potential, work in your areas of strength. 
 
3. Evaluate Your Options for Maximum Impact
Management consultant Robert Heller has this advice: "Never ignore a gut feeling, but never believe that it's enough." Discernment isn't relying on intuition alone, nor is it relying only on intellect. Discernment enables you to use both your gut and your head to find the best option for your people and your organization.
 
4. Multiply Your Opportunities
People who lack discernment are seldom in the right place at the right time. Although great leaders often appear to be lucky to some observers, I believe leaders create their own "luck" as the result of discernment, that willingness to use their experience and follow their instincts.
 
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COURAGE:
ONE PERSON WITH COURAGE IS A MAJORITY

BRINGING IT HOME

To improve your courage, do the following:

*Face The Music. Go out and do something stretching simply for the sake of growing in courage. Skydive. Speak in front of an audience (most people's greatest fear). Perform in a play. Go white-water rafting. Rock climb. It doesn't matter what you do as long as it causes you to face a genuine fear.

*Talk To That Person. Most people are avoiding confrontation with someone in their lives-an employee, a relative, or a coworker. If that's true for you, talk to that person this week. Don't dump on him or abuse him. Speak the truth in love. (You won't be so afraid to do it if you've already skydived rafted, etc.)

*Take A Giant Step. Maybe you've been afraid to make a career move. If you've known in your heart that you should have changed jobs or started that new business, now is the time to face up to it. Take the time to really look at it. Talk to your spouse, your mentor, and a trusted friend or two. If it's the right thing to do, then do it.
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Courage is fear that has said its prayers
Karl Barth, Swiss Theologian

As you approach the tough decisions that challenge you, recognize these truths about courage:

1. Courage begins with an Inward Battle
Every test you face as a leader begins within you. The test of courage is no different. As Psychotherapist Sheldon Kopp notes, "All the significant battles are waged within self." Courage isn't the absence of fear. It's doing what you are afraid to do. It's having the power to let go of the familiar and forge ahead into new territory. 
 
2. Courage Is Making Things Right, Not Just Smoothing Them Over
Civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. declared, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." Great leaders have good people skills, and they can get people to compromise and work together. But they also take a stand when needed.
 
Courage deals with principle, not perception. If you don't have the ability to see when to stand up and the conviction to do it, you'll never be an effective leader. Your dedication to potential must remain stronger than your desire to appease others.
 
3. Courage in a Leader Inspires Commitment from Followers
"Courage is contagious," asserts evangelist Billy Graham. "When a brave man takes a stand, the spines of others are stiffened." A show of courage by any person encourages others. But a show of courage by a leader inspires. It makes people want to follow him. My friend Jim Mellando explains, "Leadership is the expression of courage that compels people to do the right thing."
 
4. Your Life Expands in Proportion to Your Courage
Fear limits a leader. What's ironic is that those who don't have the courage to take risks and those who do, experience the same amount of fear in life. The only difference is that those who don't take chances worry about trivial things. If you're going to have to overcome your fear and doubts anyway, you might as well make it count.
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COMPETENCE:
BRINGING IT HOME

To improve your competence, do the following:

*Get Your Head In The Game.
If you've been mentally or emotionally detached from your work, it's time to reengage. First, rededicate yourself to your job. Determine to give it an appropriate amount of your undivided attention. Second, figure out why you have been detached. Do you need new challenges? Are you in conflict with your boss or coworkers? Are you in a dead-end job? Identify the source of the problem, and create a plan to resolve it.
 
*Redefine the standard.
If you're not performing at a consistently high level, reexamine your standards. Are you shooting too low? Do you cut corners? If so, hit your mental reset button, and outline more demanding expectations for yourself.
 
*Find three ways to improve.
Nobody keeps improving without being intentional about it. Do a little research to find three things you can do to improve your professional skills . Then dedicate the time and money to follow through on them.
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COMPETENCE:
IF YOU BUILD IT, THEY WILL COME

Competence goes beyond words. It's the leader's ability to say it, plan it, and do it in such a way that others know that you know how-and know that they want to follow.
John C.Maxwell

Fleshing It Out

We all admire people who display high competence, whether they are precision craftsmen, world-class athletes, or successful business leaders. But the truth is that you don't have to be Faberge', Michael Jordan, or Bill Gates to excel in the area of competence. If you want to cultivate that quality, here's what you need to do.
 
1. Show Up Every Day
 
There's a saying, "All things come to him who waits." Unfortunately sometimes it's just the leftovers from the people who got there first. Responsible people show up when they're expected. But highly competent people take it a step farther. They don't show up  in body only. They come ready to play every day-no matter how they feel, what  kind of circumstances they face, or how difficult they expect the game to be.
 
2. Keep Improving
 
Like Benjamin Franklin, all highly competent people continually search for ways to keep learning, growing, and improving. They do that by asking why. After all, the person who knows how will always have a  job, but the person who knows why will always be the boss.
 
3. Follow Through With Excellence
 
Performing at a high level of excellence is always a choice, an act of the will. As leaders, we expect our people to follow through when we hand them the ball. They expect that and a whole lot more from us as leaders.
 
4. Accomplish More Than Expected
 
Highly competent people always go the extra mile. For them, good enough is never good enough.
 
5. Inspire Others
 
Highly competent leaders do more than perform at a high level. They inspire and motivate their people to do the same. While some people rely on relational skills alone to survive, effective leaders combine these skills with high competence to take their organizations to new levels of excellence and influence.
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COMMUNICATION:
WITHOUT IT YOU TRAVEL ALONE

You can be a more effective communicator if you follow four basic truths.
 
1. Simplify Your Message
 
Communication is not just what you say. It's also how you say it. Contrary to what some educators teach, the key to effective communication is simplicity. Forget about impressing people with big words, or complex sentences. If you want to connect with people, keep it simple.
 
A story about a junior executive gives a blueprint for effective communication. The young man was invited to speak to a large group for the first time, so he approached his mentor for advice about giving a good speech. the older man said, "Write an exciting opening that will grab everybody in your audience. Then you write a dramatic summary and closing that will make the people want to act. Then put them as close together as possible."
 
2. See the Person
 
Effective communicators focus on the people with whom they're communicating. They know it is impossible to effectively communicate to an audience without knowing something about them.
 
As you communicate with people-whether individuals or groups-ask yourself these questions: Who is my audience? What are their questions? What needs to be accomplished? And how much time do I have? If you want to become a better communicator, become audience oriented. People believe in great communicators because great communicators believe in people.
 
3. Show the Truth
 
Credibility precedes great communication. There are two ways to convey credibility to your audience. First, believe in what you say. Ordinary people become extraordinary communicators when they are fired up with conviction. Second, live what you say. There is no greater credibility than conviction in action.
 
4. Seek a Response
 
As you communicate, never forget that the goal of all communication is action. If you dump a bunch of information on people, you're not communicating. Every time you speak to people, give them something to feel, something to remember, and something to do. If you're successful in doing that, your ability to lead others will go to a new level.
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BRINGING IT HOME
TO IMPROVE YOUR COMMITMENT, DO THE FOLLOWING

Measure it....Sometimes we think we are committed to something, yet our actions indicate otherwise. Take out  your calendar and your checkbook register. Spend a few hours tallying up how you spend your time and where you spend your money. Look at how much time you spend at work, in service, with family, in health and recreation activities, and so forth. Figure out how much money you spent on living expenses, entertainment, personal development, and giving. All these things are true measures of your commitment. You may be surprised by what you find.
 
Know what's worth dying for...One of the questions every leader must ask himself is, What am I willing to die for? If it came down to it, what in life would you not be able to stop doing, no matter what the consequences were? Spend some time alone meditating on that thought. Write down what you discover. Then see if your actions match your ideals.
 
Use the Edison method...If taking the first step toward commitment is a problem, try doing what Thomas Edison did. When he had a good idea for an invention, he would call a press conference to announce it. Then he'd go into his lab and invent it. Make your plans public, and you might be more committed to following through with them.
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COMMITMENT
THERE ARE REALLY ONLY FOUR TYPES OF PEOPLE

1. Cop-outs...People who have no goals and do not commit.

2. Holdouts...People who don't know if they can reach their goals, so they're afraid to commit.

3. Dropouts...People who start toward a goal but quit when the going gets tough.

4. All-outs...People who set goals, commit to them, and pay the price to reach them.

What kind of person are you? Have you been reaching  your goals? Are you achieving all that you believe you can? Do people believe in you and follow you readily? If  your answer to any of these questions is no, the problem may be your level of commitment.
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COMMITMENT
IT SEPARATES DOERS FROM DREAMERS

If you want to be an effective leader, you have to be committed. True commitment inspires and attracts people. It shows them that you have conviction. They will believe in you only if you believe in your cause. As the Law of Buy-In states, people buy into the leader, then the vision.
 
What is the true nature of commitment? Take a look at three observations.
 
1. COMMITMENT STARTS IN THE HEART
 
Some people want everything to be perfect before they're willing to commit themselves to anything. But commitment always precedes achievement. I am told that in the Kentucky Derby, the winning horse effectively runs out of oxygen after the first half mile, and he goes the rest of the way on heart. That's why all great athletes recognize its importance. NBA legend Michael Jordan explains that "heart is what separates the good from the great." If you want to make a difference in other people's lives as a leader, look into your heart to see if you're really committed.
 
2. COMMITMENT IS TESTED BY ACTION
 
It's one thing to talk about commitment. It's another to do something about it. The only real measure of commitment is action. Arthur Gordon acknowledged, "Nothing is easier than saying words. Nothing is harder than living them day after day.
 
Someone told me about a newly elected judge who had won office in a special county election. During his acceptance speech, he said, "I wish to thank the 424 people who promised to vote for me. I wish to thank the 316 people who said that they did vote for me. I wish to thank the 47 people who came out last Thursday to vote, and I wish to thank the 26 folks who actually did vote for me." How are you doing when it comes to following through on your commitments?
 
3. COMMITMENT OPENS THE DOOR TO ACHIEVEMENT
 
As a leader, you will face plenty of obstacles and opposition-if you don't already. And there will be times when commitment is the only thing that carries you forward. David McNally commented, "Commitment is the enemy of resistance, for it is the serious promise to press on, to get up, no matter how many times you are knocked down." If you want to get anywhere worthwhile, you must be committed.

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CHARISMA:
HOW WOULD YOU RATE YOURSELF?

Are other people naturally attracted to you? Are you well liked? If not, you may possess one of these roadblocks to charisma:

*Pride.... Nobody wants to follow a leader who thinks he is better than everyone else.

*Insecurity.... If you are uncomfortable with who you are, others will be too.

*Moodiness.... If people never know what to expect from you, they stop expecting anything.

*Perfectionism.... People respect the desire for excellence, but dread totally unrealistic expectations.

*Cynicism.... People don't want to be rained on by someone who sees a cloud around every silver lining.

If you can stay away from these qualities, you can cultivate charisma.

To improve your charisma, do the following:

*Change your focus.... Observe your interaction with people during the next few days. As you talk to others, determine how much of your conversation is concentrated on yourself. Determined to tip the balance in favor of focusing on others.

*Play the first impression game..... Try an experiment. the next time you meet someone for the first time, try your best to make a good impression. Learn the person's name. Focus on his interests. Be positive. And most important, treat him as a "10." If you can do this for a day, you can do it every day. And that will increase your charisma overnight.

*Share yourself...Make it your long-term goal to share your resources with others. Think about how you can add value to five people in your life this year. They can be family members, colleagues, employees, or friends. Provide resources to help them grow personally and professionally, and share your personal journey with them.

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CHARISMA:
THE FIRST IMPRESSION CAN SEAL THE DEAL

How can you have charisma? Be more concerned about making others feel good about themselves than you are making them feel good about you.

Most people think of charisma as something mystical, almost undefinable. They think it's a quality that comes at birth or not at all. But that's not true. Charisma, plainly stated, is the ability to draw people to you. And like other character traits, it can be developed.
To make yourself the kind of person who attracts others, you need to personify these pointers:
 
1. Love Life
People enjoy leaders who enjoy life. Think of the people you want to spend time with. How would you describe them? Grumpy? Bitter? Depressed? Of course not. They're celebrators, not complainers. They're passionate about life. If you want to attract people, you need to be like the people you enjoy being with. 
 
2. Put a "10" on Every Person's Head
One of the best things you can do for people-which also attract them to you-is to expect the best of them. I call it putting a "10" on everyone's head. It helps others think more highly of themselves, and at the same time, it also helps you. According to Jacques Wiesel, "A survey of one hundred self-made millionaires showed only one common denominator. These highly successful men and women could only see the good in people."
 
Benjamin Disraeli understood and practiced this concept, and it was one of the secrets of his charisma. He once said, "the greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own." If you appreciate others, encourage them, and help them reach their potential, they will love you for it.
 
3. Give People Hope
French General Napoleon Bonaparte characterized leaders as "dealers in hope." Like all great leaders, he knew that hope is the greatest of all possessions. If you can be the person who bestows that gift on others, they will be attracted to you, and they will be forever grateful.
 
4. Share Yourself
People love leaders who share themselves and their life journeys. As you lead people, give of yourself. Share wisdom, resources, and even special occasions.
 
When it comes to charisma, the bottom line is other mindedness. Leaders who think about others and their concerns before thinking of themselves exhibit charisma.
 
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REFLECTING ON IT

If you've found yourself being sucked in by one of the four A's, call time-out.  Do what you must to step away from some of the stress of  your success, and seek professional help. Don't think that the valley you're in will pass with time, more money, or increased prestige. Unaddressed cracks in character only get deeper and more destructive with time. 
 
As you lead others at home , at work, and in the community, recognize that your character is  your most important asset. G. Alan Bernard, president of Mid Park, Inc., stated, "The respect that leader ship must have requires that one's ethics be without question. A leader not only stays above the line between right and wrong, he stays well clear of the "gray areas."
 
BRINGING IT HOME
 
To improve your character,do the following:
 
Search The Cracks
Spend some time looking at the major areas of your life (work, marriage, family, service, etc.) and identify anywhere you might have cut corners, compromised, or let people down. Write down every instance you can recall from the past two months.
 
Look For Patterns
Examine the responses that you just wrote down. Is there a particular area where you have a weakness, or do you have a type of problem that keeps surfacing? Detectable patterns will help you diagnose character issues.
 
Face The Music.

The beginning of character repair comes when you face  your flaws, apologize, and deal with the consequences of your actions. Create a list of people to whom you need to apologize for your actions, then follow through with sincere apologies.

Rebuild
It's one thing to face up to your past actions. It's another to build a new future. Now that you've identified any areas of weakness, create a plan that will prevent you from making the same mistakes again.

DAILY TAKE-AWAY
A man took his young daughter to a carnival, and she immediately ran over to a booth and asked for cotton candy. As the attendant handed her a huge ball of it, the father asked, "Sweetheart, are you sure you can eat all that?" "Don't worry, Dad, " she answered. "I'm bigger on the inside than on the outside."

THAT'S WHAT REAL CHARACTER IS-BEING BIGGER ON THE INSIDE.
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#1

CHARACTER
BE A PIECE OF THE ROCK

Leadership is the capacity and will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which inspires confidence.
Bernard Montgomery, British Field Marshal

Never "for the sake of peace and quiet" deny your own experience or convictions.
Dag Hammarskjolk, Statesman and Nobel Peace Prize Winner

How a leader deals with the circumstances of life tells you many things about his character. Crisis doesn't necessarily make character, but it certainly does reveal it. Adversity is a crossroads that makes a person choose one of two paths: character or compromise. Every time he chooses character, he becomes stronger, winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn noted, "The meaning of earthly existing lies , not as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul." The development of character is at the heart of our development not just as leaders, but as human beings.
 
What must every person know about character/
 
#1 Character Is More Than Talk
 
Anyone can say that he has integrity, but action is the real indicator of character. Your character determines who you are. Who you are determines what you see. What you see determines what you do. That's why you can never separate a leader's character from his actions. If a leader's actions and intentions are continually working against each other, then look to his character to find out why.
 
#2 Talent Is A Gift, But Character Is A Choice
 
We have no control over a lot of things in life. We don't get to choose our parents. We don't select the location or circumstances of our birth and upbringing. We don't get to pick our talents or IQ. But we do choose our character. In fact, we create it every time we make choices-to cop out or dig out of a hard situation, to bend the truth or stand under the weight of it, to take the easy money or pay the price. As you live and make choices today, you are continuing to create your character.
 
 

 
#3 Character Brings Lasting Success With People
 
True leadership always involves other people. ( As the leadership proverb says, if you think you're leading and no one is following you, then you're only taking a walk.) Followers do not trust leaders whose character they know to be flawed, and they will not continue following them.
 
#4 Leaders Cannot Rise Above The Limitations Of Their Character
 
Have you ever seen highly talented people suddenly fall apart when they achieved a certain level of success? The key to that phenomenon is character. Steven Berglas, a psychologist at Harvard Medical School and author of  The Success Syndrome, says that people who achieve great heights but lack the bedrock character to sustain them through the stress are headed for disaster. He believes they are destined for one or more of the four A's: arrogance, painful feelings of aloneness, destructive adventure-seeking, or adultery. Each is a terrible price to pay for weak character.
 
Part 2: Next Week
Reflecting On It
Bringing It Home
Daily Take-Away 
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ONLINE PR

One of the most cost-effective ways to publicize and market your business is to use the many PR tools, methods, and opportunities that exist online. Many of these are simple and either free or low-cost PR options. With online PR, you're simply taking traditional PR and extending it to the online community. This includes targeting online and traditional media that have a significant online presence. In addition to promoting interaction with individuals, online PR allows for a very wide distribution of news and information.
 
Online press releases are a great way for your authored content to spread without having to spend too much money. Several online press release sites will let you post your press release free of charge. Some of the more popular and user-friendly press release sites are www.prweb.com, www.pressbox.com, and www.webwire.com.
 
  

Putting PR information on your web site is another form of online PR. Once press releases are written and distributed, posting them on a separate Web page gives you more bang for your buck. You can take this a step further by developing keywords for each page these releases appear on and then registering them individually in search engines. Another advantage of posting press releases on your site is that you can add hyperlinks for additional information. Streaming video and sound may also be added to enhance communication of your information.
 
Because editors, web publishers, and site owners want fresh content, the writing and distribution of feature articles is another way to take advantage of the efficiencies of online PR. Feature article writing is one of the best online or offline marketing techniques. Sending well-written articles to various editors and publications is often done online. The following will accept your online article and publish it on their site or in their e-mail distribution list: editor@saintrochtree.com, Free-Content@yahoogroups.com, Newsletter@webpromote.com, and PublishInYours@onlist.com. For more leads, type "article submission" in any search engine, and you'll find additional choices.
 
Online press kits are becoming more and more popular. an online press kit contains the same items you'd find in a traditional press kit, but in an electronic, web-friendly form
 
Pr on the Internet is so widely used because of its ease of distribution, the broad potential of contacts, and of course, and its cost-effectiveness. Positioning it as you would your traditional PR will increase the bottom and top lines of your business.
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E-ZINES

An e-zine is an online newsletter. Publishing your own free e-zine can bring huge amounts of qualified traffic to your web site, while helping you increase your profits. E-zines are increasingly common on the Internet. Nearly all sites related to marketing offer them to their visitors.
 
The popularity of e-zines is based on the need for information and the offer of value by the publisher. The number-one reason people are online is because of the desire and need for information, which e-zines provide. E-zines are delivered via e-mail either as html pages or straight text.
 
An e-zine is a great mechanism to keep in touch with customers and prospects. Constant customer and prospect contact is vital to your marketing success. when considering the six to eight touches required to get prospects into a state of purchasing action, e-zines can be one more touch in an efficient and effective marketing world. Not only will an e-zine allow you to maintain regular contact with your web site visitors, but it also acts as a reminder to them to revisit your site.
 

 
E-zines can help build trust and start relationships online. E-zines that provide regular quality content of value to your readers will help them begin to trust your opinion and feel as if they know you.
 
An e-zine is almost a necessity today when selling products or services on your website. Keeping in touch, either online or offline, is a marketing action that brings in sales and profits. Think of your e-zine as a profit generator.
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E-MAIL

E-mail is the most popular online activity on the Internet. Just look at your own e-mail activity. It has exploded in size and use. It has also exploded in abuse. Operate within ethical parameters in all marketing, especially e-mail. Do not send spam messages.
 
For most small businesses, permission-based e-mail marketing campaigns are the most memorable and cost-effective way to reach new and existing customers. This can consist of e-mail newsletters or targeted personalized messages.
 
E-mail marketing can be a tool for branding, direct response, and building customer relationships. It's cheap,easy to use, and almost everybody surfing the Internet has an e-mail address.


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E-mail marketing is every e-mail you send to a customer or prospect. this includes sending direct promotional e-mails to interested prospects and providing information to acquire new customers or to sell to existing customers. E-mail marketing can also be used to keep in touch with customers, encourage customer loyalty, and further customer relationships.
 
This can be done as a direct e-mail message, an electronic newsletter (e-zine),  or an online advertisement. One difference between this contact and the print equivalent is that electronic mail must only be sent with permission. Some print marketing is interruptive and thus ignored. Another difference is that it can be interactive.
 
E-mail is a good marketing tool because it subscribes to the principle of using time, energy, and imagination. Sending e-mail is very cost effective and many times free. E-mail is very targeted. Using a hook, response can be higher then regular mail. Keep your promises and play by the rules. Doing so will make you a marketing winner through and through.
 
Marketing Tip: Your e-mail signature should include your name, contact information, and web site in order to drive interested prospects to you.
 
A NOTE ON SPAM: Responsible e-mail marketing is based on getting permission from the person you are sending it to. This is an issue currently under legislative and ethical review. The general view is that you need an e-mail recipient's permission before you can send them an e-mail marketing your product or service. If you don't get this permission, then you are sending unsolicited e-mail, known as spam. Do not send spam. At the time of this writing, there are legal consequences for bulk spammers. Play by the rules. Don't send nonpermission-based e-mails.
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WEB SITE

A web site is an address. It is your base. First, you want people to find your house. Then, you want them to be welcomed and comfortable enough to stay and chat with you. You want to get to know each other. You want to get to know each other to the point of wanting
 
A web site can collect the names of the people for this potential relationship exercise. Notice that all this interaction is much more effective and personal than a brochure. A web site is a tool to interact with a prospect and/or a customer. You want to supply enough information and value so that prospects leave their name (for you to follow up with later) or they return for another visit. Ultimately, getting a sale is your goal.
How to make a classic, inexpensive, architectural detail for your own home…
A web site is another marketing weapon used to create one-on-one relationships with prospects and customers and to keep customers forever. Loyalty and relationship building can be done with a marketing-oriented web site. Understanding what information your target market needs is  paramount when determining web site content.
 
Basically, your web site should be viewed as an effective and efficient communication tool.
 
*More effective communication-Individual web site pages allow you to communicate more information than then traditional print marketing and for much less cost.
 
* This communication can be interactive, in the same way that direct sales calls and the telephone are interactive marketing weapons.
 
*Interactivity starts and furthers relationships and persuades prospects to become paying clients.
 
* Anything you can do to further interactivity in a web site will increase its effectiveness. This could include signing up for an e-zine, a newsletter, a free report, or other information.
 
*More efficient communication-All of this communication can be done without the costs of traditional printing and reprinting. Communicating more information faster and cheaper is the epitome of marketing efficiency. Keeping this communication fresh and valuable will keep customers and prospects coming back to your site.
 
*Search engines are one of the web's major resources for driving qualified, targeted traffic to web sites. Getting listed in a search engine listing is not difficult. Getting ranked high in those listings can be challenging.
 
*Pay-per-click search engines pay for a particular ranking in search engines. These are a highly effective way to attract cheap, targeted traffic to your site.
 
*The most popular pay-per-click engine is www.overture.com
 
*These search engines connect you with customers who are searching for what you are selling. Prospects and customers arriving at your site via search engines are highly targeted and usually motivated to buy. This is the ultimate in target marketing.
 
*Reciprocal Links are another highly successful way to get traffic to your web site. These are links with other sites, which are generally related to your business or organization. The concept is that you put a link to a particular web site on your site and vice versa.
 
*Online marketing should be integrated with all other marketing activity.Driving
 

Look again
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TELEVISION

You might be thinking, "I'll skip this section because I'm too small for TV advertising, or it costs too much, or TV advertising is for the other guys." Mention television and immediately people think big-company advertising. With the growth of cable and regional TV, however, a small business can benefit from advertising, just like the big guys. Look how cable stations have popped up everywhere over the past few years. All these channels need advertising revenue to remain on the air. Because of the increased competitiveness in this arena, many stations are offering very affordable rate packages, within easy reach for small businesses and organizations.
 
TV advertising is powerful. Used incorrectly, this power becomes negative power. A bad ad will cause you to lose customers. A bad plan or execution of the plan will cause you to lose money.
 
People pay attention to marketing in the following order: graphics, headlines, bullets, and text. Television uses headlines, too. You only have a few seconds to grab a viewer's attention. The headline must be the strong opening along to a simple and clear message that stresses benefits. This all has to be done visually. Show rather than tell, and don't forget that call to action. Television has made the term "Call today!" a very popular call to action in all advertising.
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Last week you learned the importance of headlines in radio advertising. Television advertising is nothing more than using the same headlines and the same marketing message while adding on television graphics and visuals. That's what skyrocketed MTV to success. They added visuals to songs. Your marketing message is your song. The dancing video represents the graphics that tell your story.
 
Television advertising can be expensive. Make sure you evaluate the ad budget needed to generate your expected profit level. Return on television ads take time. Factor that into your budget. The time required to break even in television advertising may be longer than a year. Television ad people may not tell you that if they are looking for a quick-hit sales commission.
 
Television advertising works, shouldn't be intimidating, and could be just what your business needs for marketing your products and services. Heed caution in this arena. You don't want to end up with a small (or no) fortune from a big fortune because of TV advertising that is done wrong or that is too costly.
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RADIO ADVERTISING

Ninety percent of men, women, and teens listen to radio, which is a good medium for a very mobile society. Consumers have less and less time for fixed attention media. Your radio ad can be heard while people are driving, jogging, walking in the park, dining, or in their own backyard.
 
Consider this question as you decide whether radio is right for your business: How can I sell, promote, brand, and continue to make targeted prospects aware of my product/service in 60 seconds? That's the standard length of a radio commercial slot. Crafting your marketing message to fit that slot is the challenge of using radio.
 
Radio marketing strategies should accomplish the following:
* Increase customer traffic to your location
* Identify building and positioning
* Promote special events (clearance sales, celebrity appearances, or open houses)
* Generate leads from a wide target audience
* Forge a closer relationship with prospects/customers/listeners
* Help communicate emotions (emotions sell)
* Reach prospects and customers you otherwise might not be able to reach
* Act as a direct response mechanism for the purchase of your products and services.
 
Radio can be very targeted. Not every radio station has the same format. Stations target certain demographical groups with different programming. Each radio station's format and programming is designed to meet the needs, want, tastes, and preferences of specific listening audiences. The mere turn of a dial can present your message to listeners who prefer talk radio, rock "n" roll, or easy listening. You need to pick the right station. What programming do your prospects like? If these demographics and genre targets match up with your targeting, then radio advertising will be a win for you.
i love a good awning
 
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ADVANTAGES OF DIRECT MAIL

In addition to the fact that direct mail is so direct, there are other unique characteristics of this marketing weapon that are true strengths. Direct mail is efficient and cost-effective because of these strengths and the many advantages associated with them:
 
* Personalization. Communication and messages can truly be one-on-one. People like to see their name and personal information in print or in writing. Using personalization extends the potential relationship further and faster.
 
* Targeted and focused. Direct mail allows you to target according to your own specifications; demographically, geographically, by prospects or customers, and a combination of all of these along with your desired quantity. Other marketing does not offer this same "targetability." Your message goes right to the person, company, or organization that is interested in you.
 
* Call to action. Direct mail inspires action and is sales oriented. Direct mail has a purpose. That purpose is to inform, educate, or persuade a prospect. Designed and distributed correctly, direct mail can be nonintrusive compared to the other 3,500 marketing messages a prospect receives each day. Prospects read it at their own pace and, if targeted right, will be interested in the information. Direct mail can be reread, studied, and thought about as the prospect goes through the decision process. Action is requested by the sender. The receiver taking the appropriate action fulfills one objective of direct mail.
 
* Sales oriented.  Direct mail breaks the ice for sales people. It may announce an upcoming visit or a follow-up or gently and cordially introduce the sales person. This warms up the prospect for the subsequent sales call.
 
* Measurable. Direct mail is one of the easier marketing methods to measure. You always know how many pieces you send, how often you send them the cost of each printed piece, and the associated postage.
 How to make a classic, inexpensive, architectural detail for your own home…
 
 
KEY COMPONENTS
An effective direct mail campaign includes four key components.
 
*Message
* Vehicle
* Target
* Frequency
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BROCHURES

One of the main pieces of your company's collateral collection is the brochure. Before saying you need a brochure, make sure you can answer the question of why you need one. Some of those reasons are: your prospect is difficult to contact, your product or service information borders on being complex, graphics tell your story of benefits, and collateral warms up a prospect before a sales call, acts as a leave-behind after a sales call, or is used as a follow-up mechanism after a sales call. Many companies have a story that does not translate well in display advertising, but becomes brilliantly clear when the details are communicated in a brochure. This communication can be verbal or graphic. Combining the two, your brochure becomes a tool to:
 
* get the attention and interest of prospects to the point of requesting more information and more contact or to the point of a purchase.
 
* provide information and answer questions that help prospects in their purchase decision. This includes plenty of detailed descriptions.
 
* communicate in a way that is consistent with your company identity.
 
* use as a handout on sales calls, a direct mail piece, a response mechanism for more information or inquiry, or a part of a press kit.
 
A brochure alone is insufficient to fulfill your total marketing plan; however, it can bring you closer to a goal of cost -effective communication with your target market. Brochures should be created for your high probability of using the information disseminated. Who cares about the details communicated in a brochure? Your real prospects do.
 Love the built in window boxes
You have seen many brochures in your business life. Some you liked, some you didn't. Those that you liked and those that worked were designed to tell potential clients exactly what they want to hear in just a few seconds. If it doesn't, it's on the way to the proverbial recycling bin. Next week we will look at brochure guidelines and tips.
 
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ADVERTISING COMPONENTS
What Should Be In Your Advertising

HEADLINE
On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. It follows that, unless  your headline sells your product, you've wasted 80 percent of your money, according to David Ogilvy, advertising great. The headline markets your ad; it is the attention getter, designed to grab the reader or listener.

BODY
Who are you, what's special or different, where, when , and what are described in the body of  your ad copy. Ad copy is not like a school essay. It is short, succinct, and to the point, sometimes using incomplete sentences.

OFFER
This is why you are advertising; remember your purpose.

HOOK
This is an incentive for a response.

CALL TO ACTION
Tell the prospects what to do; make a decision for them so they don't have to.

AD GRAPHICS
The goal for good design is getting attention, creating interest and desire, in a visually appealing manner.  
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ADVERTISING PART 3
Creating High Quality/Where To Advertise

Just like lack of frequency, spending too little on advertising is ineffective. Unlike too much frequency, spending too much on advertising is ineffective. How do you know what is too little or too much? We know that a bad marketing expense is one that doesn't show a return on the investment. Likewise, a bad advertising expense is one that doesn't show a return. Spending $50 on an ad and getting nothing in return is a bad advertising expense. Spending $1000 on an ad and getting $2000 in return is a good advertising investment. Be careful of the "advertising bargain." You don't know that it is a bargain until the response measurements and sales conversion rates are known. Once the numbers are in,  you can determine if you did get a bargain. Bargain shopping is not always spending the least amount of money possible.

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Advertising is another chance to show identity. Far more people see your ad than will see you, or your place of business, so their opinion will be shaped by your ad. Your identity will too. Because of this, you want to be careful not to put your identity in the hands of an amateur designer. Make sure that your ad is professional, conveys the identity you want over and over, and is "you".
 
You want to be seen in those places where your target market is-where they hang out, what they read, where they view, or what they listen to. Your goal as a savvy advertiser is to pick the most frequent vehicle that fits your budget and that hits your target market. Advertising in places that are too wide for your focused target market is considered one of those bad marketing investments, or at least wasteful.  Statistics say that someone in your target market notices one out of nine advertisements. How many times an ad must be seen before it sinks in or creates action to make advertising effective, is a multiple of the "one out of nine" phenomena. If it takes three ads to affect a consumer, then the "effectiveness formula" becomes one out of 27 times. If you are not prepared to advertise 27 times to a target market, your whole program may be ineffective and your marketing dollars will end up down the drain.
Note: Just because an ad works in one place doesn't mean it works in another!
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ADVERTISING PART 2
Advertising Investment

Most businesses advertise heavily at the outset. Savvy marketers advertise last. Because marketing is made up of many, many things, there are many other areas where you should focus your resources before any advertising takes place, especially with a business start-up.
 
Good advertising is used to build share of mind. If you know exactly what you want to gain from your advertising, where to direct the message, and how to say what you want your audience to know in the most cost effective manner possible, then your advertising will be effective.

 Clipboards as a craft show display
So many times businesses confuse marketing with advertising. Marketing is not advertising.  Advertising is a set of clear, creative messages with a budget of time, energy, and imagination.
 
FOUR COMPONENTS OF GOOD ADVERTISING ARE:
CONSISTENCY
REPETITION
FOCUS 
POSITIONING
 
Prospects don't have good memories, especially with thousands of marketing messages being thrown at them everyday. More next week. 
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ADVERTISING
It Shouldn't Be Intimidating

Mention advertising and the first thought that comes to mind for many is the plethora of television commercials we're exposed to. Others think of the lineup of billboards along an interstate highway, glossy magazines at local newsstands, and jingle-laden radio ads. These are advertising methods most often used by traditional mass marketers.
 
Advertising may or may not include these. Advertising should be more focused to a target market, less on the masses, and more personal, resulting in more sales conversions.
 
Advertising is the most visible form of marketing. It is also referred to as the most elusive, seductive, and expensive branch of the marketing tree. Unfortunately, it is also the one small businesses misunderstand the most. It is just one of the many marketing weapons.
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Media exposure and advertising can build a business, but if not planned right and executed correctly, it will eat up a marketing budget faster than you can say mass market. The advertisement shouldn't be creative...it should be so interesting that you buy the product. This happens so many times. You see a great commercial, but you can't remember what was being advertised or who the advertiser was. Just watch TV any day and see if the ad is designed to be entertaining, or if there is a clear advertising objective present.
 
The most common form of advertising used by small businesses is in newspapers and magazine. Before advertising in these publications, you must understand who and how many people read the publication and the geographical distribution. Wise marketers obtain more profits from advertising with less investment. Advertising is not a lot of bells,whistle, and coins leaving your pockets.
 
Advertising is a potent weapon, but it is not the only weapon. It is one of the many weapons in the arsenal. Advertising helps make the other weapons work more effectively and visa versa. Advertising works best and feels best when it is balanced with all other marketing.  More on this next week!
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MARKETING COMMUNICATION
The Importance Of Communication

If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, is there still sound? This age-old prophetic question has been a subject of debate by many. The same philosophical slant applies to marketing communications. If a company has a great product, service, or message and no one ever hears or knows about it, does the company really have a great product, service, or message? Can they even sell anything?
 
By this time you have identified your benefits and competitive advantages. You know who your target is and what it wants. Now these benefits and advantages have to be communicated to your prospects and customers. You have to make noise in the forest. Your advantages need to be communicated in a compelling and convincing way. Your message has to be articulated well and stated often. You have to get the word out.
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COMMUNICATION ESSENTIALS
 
MARKETING COMMUNICATION INCLUDES SUCH THINGS AS ADVERTISING, SALES PROMOTION, DIRECT MARKETING, PUBLIC RELATIONS, SPECIAL EVENTS, SIGNAGE, TRADE SHOWS, AND MORE.
 
The messages associated with these and the vehicles used all seek to place information in the customer or prospect's mind that will influence future purchase decisions. Communication influences the purchase process. This communication can be verbal or visual.
 
TARGETED MARKETING CAMPAIGNS
 
Targeted marketing campaigns are an essential component of many overall communication strategies. the goal of these campaigns is to communicate your message and appeal in a systematic, recognizable, and persuasive manner.
 
People do read marketing materials, that is, people in your target market that are interested read them. People who are not prospects will not read your materials. The real reason you use marketing communication materials is to sell your prospective clients on your company, your products and services, and yourself in the clearest, most efficient way possible. Clarity is just one of the primary considerations when developing your marketing materials. Other considerations are: Focus..your message on what your prospect receives, not what you do. Message...Provide enough content and information to persuade. Design..this includes layout and "the look". Credibility...Testimonials, case studies, correct grammar, and type-free content all lead to instant credibility.

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ESTABLISHING YOUR BRAND

Branding is not only your logo, your identity, tagline, or mascot. Although these contribute to your brand, there is much more to it. Advertising is an important part of branding; however, you cannot build your brand solely through advertising.
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Your goal in establishing your brand is to communicate to your target market what your brand stands for when people see it, use it, think of it, or refer it. PR introduces your brand to the market place over and over. Advertising and visual points of contact maintain your brand.  Related to PR are word-of -mouth advertising, referrals, and recommendations. When you start hearing the "buzz" of your brand and start noticing it is preferred, you will know that you have established your brand.
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CLEAR, CONSISTENT, AND CREATIVE

Identity is not image. It bears repeating. Business identity and business image are clearly two different things. Image is usually a perception. Images can be accurate, inaccurate, or illusions. Magicians deal in images and illusions. Images can put a company in a good light or a bad light. Identity, on the other hand, is a visual reality. This visual reality may or may not enhance "image". There may be confusion with images. There is no confusion with identity.
 
Identity is the accumulation of all the visual elements of a company's communication to the outside world. Your identity clearly
 
Whether a one-person entrepreneurial company or a ten-person service organization, every business needs a strong identity to be successful.
 
Consistency in application is important for your identity. You want to make a lasting impression on your target market and help your prospects instantly recognize you. Just like your personal identity, you want those that have seen you before to recognize you. A professional, up-to-date, appropriate identity makes that crucial first impression.


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IDENTITY AND BRANDING

An identity with clarity is the name your parents gave you when you were born. People know you by that name. When they see you, your name immediately registers in their mind, and they greet you by that name. They associate what they see, hear, and remember with the name they know you by. When they think of what you look like or what you sound like, they think of you and your name.
 
This describes the ultimate marketing identity. This is exactly what you want to happen with your product, service, company, and identity.
 
Who you are and what you do is the basis of all your marketing. Having your clients and prospects know who you are and remembering what you do is the ultimate in marketing communication.
 
Part of your identity is your primary marketing message-what you want people to remember and know you as. Your marketing message can take many forms.
 
* A logo
* A tagline
* A 30-second synopsis
* A radio jingle
* The look of your place of business
* Your signs
* Your brochure
* Your business card
* Your on-hold message
 
Much like the definition of marketing, identity is everything a customer/prospect sees and hears about you and, most of all, what they remember about you.
 
Notice the word image is not used here. Identity is based on truth and honesty. Image is often phony and something that you are not. Customers and prospects are very good at knowing which is which. In the world of marketing integrity is at the top. Your identity is what you really are.
 
There are a few common characteristics of successful identities:
 
* First, the identity needs to be clear and free of confusion
There should be no confusion as to who you are. A consistent identity is a successful identity, the same identity, everywhere, over and over. Change the identity and  you change customer perceptions. Change your perceptions and you collapse your marketing. The consistent use of your company's identity is critical to effective marketing communication and the eventual building of your company's product, service, or brand awareness. An identity plays a part in grabbing attention, getting interest, creating desire, and causing action, all goals of successful marketing.
 
Your brochure, presentation folders, ads, letterhead, and business cards, not to mention your products and services, all represent your identity. Your identity is valuable and one of the most controllable assets you have.
 
Because it is so valuable, you should take the right amount of time to make sure that the identity is clear, consistent, and has the "personality" you want it to have.
 
 
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 COMMUNICATING BENEFITS
&
COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGES

Chances are that when asked what they do, most companies would have trouble reciting something that flowed. Most would stumble and not have information explaining why they are different from their competitors. Typical responses are, for example, "We sell computers" or "We sell insurance" or "We are financial planners." Ask another company in the same business and you get the same response-no differences and no competitive advantage communication.
 
Finding and communicating unique competitive advantages will place you over and above the competition.
 
Those that do not know their competitive advantage or how to communicate it generally fall back on price, quality, and service pitches to customers.
 
In today's world, competitive pricing, good quality, and service with attention are givens. In today's markets, you have to show service that is above and beyond. You have to set new standards with your quality and show that price includes more than numbers on an invoice. Doing business with you has to be advantageous to the customer.
 
If you find it difficult to find that real competitive advantage, try to focus on the things you do in excellent fashion, including your responsiveness and reliability, and try to find factors that differentiate you from your competition. sometimes this is as simple as putting candy mints in the billing envelope to your customers, giving a gift to the receptionist, or sending news clippings about your customers' children to them.
 
If you still are challenged, ask your customers why they do business with you. Perhaps you offer benefits that you don't know you're offering. Knowing why they do business with you will help you market to others like them and turn them into paying customers. 

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TARGET MARKET
 
Sometimes marketing boils down to the point where it is easy to market if you know what to market and to whom to market. The last part of this statement is more than half of marketing. The right marketing with the right products to the wrong target is like a hunter shooting into the wind without hitting anything.


 
EVERYBODY IS NOT A NICHE
 
 
One danger of entrepreneurial planning and execution, whether strategic or marketing, is trying to be everything to everybody. "Everybody" is not a target market. No one company can effectively service everybody.
 
As in defining a target market, everybody is not a niche. Concentrating your marketing efforts on a specific segment of people in a target market will allow you to build a stellar reputation. Stellar reputations are magnets for prospective buyers.
 
*A niche market is simply a very specific portion of a much larger target market.
 
*Niche marketing allows you to target a very specific audience.
 
*Niche marketing gives them exactly what they want and need.
 
A niche market is a limited, crystal clear range of products or services sold to a tightly focused target group, all with particular wants and needs served by the niche products and services.
 
WHAT'S DIFFERENT?
When considering the target markets that you operate in, you must consider what you offer that's different. The products and services you offer that are the same as everyone else's cannot be marketed or sold as effectively as those that are unique.
 
If  you don't have differences, you must find them, develop them, or create them. This is the basis of niche marketing.
 
Finding your niche will give you an identity that a competitor doesn't have.
 
The bottom line is not only uniqueness in your product or service, but uniqueness in the customer  experience.
 
The most successful marketers look for and strive for a more unique experience for the customer than the competition offers.
 
JUST LOOK AT ANY MARKET LEADER. SOMETHING IS DIFFERENT. SOMETHING IS UNIQUE. SOMETHING MAKES MORE PEOPLE BUY FROM THEM THAN THEIR COMPETITORS.
 
WHAT IS UNIQUE ABOUT YOU?
 
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NARROWING YOUR SCOPE
You have to know to whom you want to sell your products and services before you can successfully zero in on them with your marketing efforts. Clearly identifying your target will help you create marketing materials that hit the right market.
 
 To succeed in targeting does not mean you have to invest in specialty equipment or exotic service delivery. The important thing is to know what business you're in and what your typical customers want and need. Product and service offerings can then be planned around ideal clients. That's target marketing.
 
HOW CAN I COMPETE WITH LARGE COMPANIES
 
The best way to compete is to narrow your niche, then market and sell to it aggressively. The secret to cultivating a niche is that the more time you spend in it, the more expert you become, the more you expand your territory, and the more people you can expose to your expertise. People like to buy from experts. Being an expert is a tremendous positioning strategy.
 
 
TAKING AIM
 
The key to targeting is planning ahead. Start by asking, "Who will benefit the most from my products and services? Begin building a detailed profile of your current customers. Why do they do business with you? What do they have in common? How can you best service their current and future needs? Then, think about the "perfect customer". If you could magically create the ideal client, what would he or she look like?
 
Analyze the profiles of your most successful accounts and then devise a plan to reach potential customers who share their traits. 
NARROW YOUR NICHE AND SELL AGGRESSIVELY
 
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OPPORTUNITY RESEARCH

A marketer that has done their homework, knows who the ideal customers are and what the competition is doing to go after them.
 
Your intensive research will uncover the potential market in which you will work and play, the customers within, and what is appealing to them now-appealing enough for them to pull out their wallets to spend money on your products and services.
 
Today, we are blessed with the technology to help with our research. The internet is a tremendous research tool.  The internet allows a marketer to carry out research in the following ways:
 
*Visit a competitor's website.
*Visit a customer's website.
*Visit a prospect's website.
*Participate or visit newsgroups and information forums.
* Mine sites for information.
*Extract and explore databases.
* Purchase competitive products and services.
* Find and contact strategic alliances.
* Communicate quicker than ever with customers, prospects, and employees.
* Conduct surveys.
* Test market products, surveys, headlines, and advertising.
 
The more information you gather, the better equipped you are to compete. This bears repeating and is the whole essence of research. The more information you gather, the better equipped you are to compete.
 
Research is most valuable if it is done regularly. Do your research before your competition does. 
 
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CUSTOMER RESEARCH

At the same time you research your marketing and competition, you must research  your customers:
 
* What problems do they have that need to be solved?
*How do they want them solved?
* What is it worth to them to have their problems solved?
 
The answers to these questions are not only a basis for your marketing plan, they are also major components of your business model.
 
You must really nail down what is important to your customers. If it's not important to them, it's not important to you.
 
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YOUR COMPETITION

Like it or not, competition is all around us. In the spirit of free enterprise, competition is a good thing. In the spirit of a competitor eating your lunch, it is not so good. If the latter is the case, you must research your market and your competition more to see what problems they are solving that you are not, what benefits they are offering that you are not, and how the marketplace views them compared to you.

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DO YOU HAVE MARKETING GOALS?
 
What is your marketing goals?  Do you have a marketing vision?
 
Your marketing goals are nothing more than a statement of what results you want to achieve with  your marketing. What is the primary reason your marketing?
 
1. Marketing goals should fit into and support your overall business goals.
2.Marketing goals should be measurable.
3. Goals must be specific and realistic.
 
You must define your marketing goals in the most specific terms possible.
You want to know where you are going. 
Your goals are the building blocks of  your marketing plan, the starting point of the plan.
 
If you have not set any marketing goals, its time to sit down and write out at least three marketing goals. Remember they need to be specific. This might take a little time..think this out. Its that important!!!
 

 
 
 
 
whoo hoo!!!! we're talking networking
 
 

7 QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF TO SEE IF YOUR MARKETING PROPERLY RIGHT NOW!

You can be pretty certain that the answer is a resounding no! if any of these seven danger signals is present.
1. My sales are driven mostly by price.

2. Customers cannot distinguish my products or services from those of my competitors.

3. I use disconnected sales gimmicks.

4. I do not have a unified plan for imparting my message to my customers and to the trade.

5. Most sales leads come from my sales staff.

6. Longtime customers say, "I didn't know you offered that."

7. I do not have a customer or prospect database.

So how did you do?   I think we all need a little polishing on our marketing skills. It is so easy to get stagnant, lazy, hurried, forgetful about marketing. Lets get that marketing mindset.
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TO MAKE THE MOST OF A NETWORKING EVENT, SPEND 75% OF YOUR TIME WITH PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW

Last week I gave you a list of some places to start, I hope that you found the list useful. Anyone who is trying to promote either a business, organization ,idea etc. needs to have a specific group of net workers you meet with on a consistent basis. With these groups you have a one or two time opportunity to visit before committing financially.  Not every group is going to fit. Its important that you know that. Shop around, see where you feel the most comfortable, like the style of networking they use, convenience of their meeting time, friendliness...remember this is the place you will want to make friends. PEOPLE WANT TO DO BUSINESS WITH THEIR FRIENDS   this applies to networking also...they will tell others about their friends business before someone they don't know very well. With that said;



WHAT NOT TO DO;
O.K. I know this is going to sound like the opposite of what I just said, its not. If you noticed I said FRIENDS plural. You need to make a room full of friends. We're not talking the BFF kind.
 
MISTAKE: You go to a networking group...find a couple of people you really enjoy talking to...sit with them every time...look forward to seeing them and finding out whats going on in their life...say a casual HI! to others...do your thing...leave. 
 
You wonder why its not working!  Your mindset is wrong. You paid very good money to get your business out there...it won't happen with that kind of mindset. You have to look at this networking time as part of your WORK. A very important part...the part that will help to make your business successful.  If people don't know about you, your products, or your services, they can't buy from you.
Energy, enthusiasm and passion come from a mindset.  You can't do this without the mindset to "think marketing all the time." 
    ......................................
 
 
Last week I said we would talk about the best places to network. Some I am sure you have already tried, some maybe you have thought about trying and maybe some you have never even thought of. The one most important thing to come out of this with is DO IT!!!  Why is it that we back away from networking?  My humble opinion is that it makes us nervous...it takes time...don't know where to start....too busy, conveniently forget about it.   I'm sure I could come up with some more reasons, but you know what I mean. So lets take a look at some places to start.
 
1. CHAMBER OF COMMERCE..business event after hours. Tried and true. New contacts and maybe renew old friendships. Great place to try our your 30 second personal commercial.
 
2. HIGH LEVEL CHAMBER OF COMMERCE EVENT..Board of directors or advisors meeting. Annual dinner. The Chamber is your best local networking resource, IF you take advantage of it.
 
3. ANY BUSINESS JOURNAL EVENT..power breakfasts, seminars. Places where movers and shakers go. The Business Journal reader and event attendee demographics are staggering. They are ALL people who make things happen.
 
4. NETWORKING CLUB OR BUSINESS ORGANIZATION...where solid business contacts belong and participate. The more you attend the more you get known, grow, and succeed in your market.
 
5. SOMEPLACE WHERE LIKE- MINDED PEOPLE BELONG....college club, alumni club..having common ground always gets a conversation going.
 
6.ANY TYPE OF CLASS YOU TAKE TO LEARN MORE AND MAKE YOURSELF BETTER...
it can never hurt to learn something new.
 
7. CIVIC ORGANIZATION...Rotary, Kiwanis, Elks, Moose, Lions. Any civic animal will do. Meetings are a great place to build relationships with others, and help the community at the same time.
 
8. COMMUNITY VOLUNTEER...everything from the Cancer Society to the symphony society have people who help behind the scenes. Be one of them.
 
9. TRADE OR PROFESSIONAL ASSOC...best place to learn about your product, your competition AND  your customers at the same time.
 
10. HEALTH CLUB..exercise and network at the same time.
 
11. SPORTS EVENTS...games and tailgates
 
12. AIRPLANE...casual networking conversation
 
ALWAYS BE PREPARED TO NETWORK!!
 
 
 
 
 
If any one of these sound like you then its time to put Networking in its place...Networking is not work...it's Network. It's a mindset not an action....although you do have to move some.What I mean by that is Networking should become almost as natural as breathing. It is an all the time event. Everyone you talk to , places you frequent, counters you pay at...in other words Networking is every day all day long. Sometimes you don't even have to say a thing....just lay that business card down. Why is your business cards at the bottom of your purse? Why are you digging for one? Why is it all bent and what is that sticky stuff?   You don't have one with you?  Why did you leave them at home? No! I won't walk with you to your car to get one. This is not a successful mindset. You need some polishing up on Networking. Right Now!!! 
 
 
Take a deep breath...take a minute...picture a relaxing place..ahhh!!
 
 
O.K. lets get busy!!!
 
 
 
HOW IMPORTANT IS NETWORKING?
 
REAL IMPORTANT
 
 
WHAT CAN NETWORKING DO FOR RELATIONSHIPS?
 
BUILD THEM


 
 
WHAT CAN NETWORKING DO FOR YOUR SUCCESS?
 
MAKE IT OR BREAK IT
 
 
What Are The Principles Of Networking?
 
  •  To Get Known By Those Who Count
  •   To Get More Prospects
  •   To Make More Contacts
  •   To Make More Sales
  •   To Build Relationships
  •  To Make a Career Advancement
  •  To Build Your Reputation
 
What Do You Need To Be A Successful Networker?
 
 
  1. A GREAT 30 second commercial....fun, interesting, casual but informative conversational little diddie that tells others about what you do.
  2. Your WILLINGNESS to put yourself out there.
  3. A PLAN to change your mindset....everyday.
 
The next time we will discuss some of the BEST places to network. Meanwhile get your " Networking Mindset" on...get those business cards where you can get to them easily...we can do this!!!!
 
Have any questions or comments...would love to here from you. LEAVE A COMMENT!

Check out the books on marketing on this page...you might want to order.
     
 
 
 

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