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Showing posts from February, 2009

What's Your Inspiration II

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Lou Bortone Lou Bortone is a long-time marketing consultant and branding coach who helps entrepreneurs build breakthrough brands on the Internet. As an online video branding specialist and award-winning marketer, Lou provides services such as video production, brand development coaching, creative support and web copywriting. Lou is a former television executive who worked for E! Entertainment Television and later served as the Senior Vice President of Marketing & Advertising for Fox Family Worldwide, a division of Fox in Los Angeles. Lou is an author and ghostwriter of six business books, a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach and a Book Yourself Solid Certified Coach. Lou also produces a light-hearted videoblog called LouTube and a website .
What was the inspiration for starting your business?For me, the reason to leave the corporate world and start my own business was not a question of why, but why not?! I’ve had the entrepreneurial bug for years, but the timing never seemed right…

Working at Home Part III

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ph0to courtesy of Erica Marshall of Muddyboots.org

And just when you think I couldn't talk about this any further:Still more to say.
Why do I have more to say? It's because there are so many people working at home, I'm always hearing about their issues, just in casual conversation.

Top 3 conversations:
I feel like my spouse is on the computer all the time. I don't know if he/she is working, hanging out, or playing. If I interrupt at the "wrong" moment, I'm in trouble. On the other hand, do I always have to prioritize my needs every moment of the day before talking to him/her? It never ends. Any time of day or night!!!What's going on with the actual "space" I'm working in? It's becoming a dumping ground! Should I move to a more private area and try to keep it together?I walk by the computer and keep getting pulled in. I know I'm not taking enough breaks. I thought that by working at home I would actually get more breaks. I think that…

Working at Home Part II

Last post I touched on a bunch of questions you should ask yourself about what it means or would mean to work at home. The life/work balance thing could really go both ways, and for each of us it may do that over and over again. We may find ourselves back and forth on that spectrum.
Let's say that each of us is working on a computer. That in itself is so many things to us now:
Communicating with friends.Business communicationWeb-surfing for work or pleasureSocializing on networks like Facebook or Twitter for business or pleasureBookkeepingCreating for workWatching video for pleasureDocumenting our lives through blogs.As I write this, I am being drawn in different directions. A problem? Sometimes, sometimes not. Honestly, if I had to do all the writing I do, just straight up, over a period of many hours, it wouldn't get done. The downside is that I am fostering a short attention span.

So, we would get more done in an office outside the home? Probably. Would we be happier? Probably…

Working at Home

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The idea for this little series has come from some readers. For many of us, having our own business means working at home. On the other hand, if may be the one reason people do or do NOT want to have their own business. There's some questions about how this will affect discipline and work/life balance. Here are some things to consider:
What kind of room do I have available and would it physically work for me?How will this affect the people I live with?Do I have the discipline to stay focused at home?Do I have a hard time creating separation between life and work?Will I have clients coming to my home office?Will I meet clients at their workplace or a neutral environment?How does this change my professional identity (if at all)?Our homes are most often the incubators for our business ideas and sometimes they turn out to be a great first home. Whether they continue to house our business as we grow and change is up to you and your business and personal needs.

I'd love to hear some …

What's Your Inspiration?

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Ken Kaufman
Ken is the Founder and CEO of CFOwise, the premier CFO firm for start-up, emerging, and medium-sized companies. He is a proven senior-level executive experience who enjoys helping companies grow and improve.
What was the inspiration for starting your business?
My initial inspiration to start my business came from three different sources – my boss, my wife, and entrepreneurs in general. Allow me to explain…I was serving as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for a $100 million dollar company when I approached the President and asked him to allow to take over and turn around our only struggling division. I was confident it could be done in 6 months or less, and I would be able to keep many of my CFO duties through the process. His response became one part of my inspiration: “You are too valuable where you are.” I was looking for a challenge, and he was looking for stability. I knew I would not be happy there long-term, and this became part of my inspiration.The second part …

What's Next?

That seems to be the big question with everyone I'm in contact these days. There's this ultimate goal in the distance and then there's the here and now. The energy balance between those two poles is the place that I am most frequently working between. I really want to start out by saying that this is always going to be the case. These days though, it's a struggle to make peace with those two places.
I suggest a good old pie-chart. Two, really. One is a chart of what your values are. The second pie-chart is a graphic representation of how you spend your time. Ideally of course, they would be the same. They won't be. Just having those two charts around is going to give you a daily reminder of where you are and where you need to be.

Are Your Ears Burning?

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You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymore.
You finally admit to 'yourself and another person' that you may not be reading your P&L correctly.(!)You've stopped having regular Company/Employee meetings.
You wonder how your physical space is working or not working for you
Since when did your marketing plan end up on the back burner???Are your ears burning? Well, they should be! Give 'em something to talk about!
This post is coming on a day when I am particularly fired up about this. (Puns everywhere folks)
For those of you who know my other blog, you know that I'm trying to mix things up in the marketing department right now.

A marketing plan is the thing that needs to being going on, no matter what. One of the biggest downfalls in the business world is when you …

Meeting our Challenges

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This is the start of a new series that will appear from time to time. I'm asking professionals in various fields what their challenges are on a day basis.I'd love to hear what other questions my readers would like to hear covered.


Meet Anne Bean
Anne Bean is the owner of AnneBeanVA.com, which assists retailers, designers, and manufacturers in the NeedleArts industry with their marketing and technology needs. Formerly a public school band and choir director, she has turned her knitting and computer expertise into a profession. She lives in rural Paris, Arkansas, with her husband and an elderly dog. Anne enjoys being with her sons and their families, music, knitting, being on the internet, and traveling with her husband.

What is your greatest daily business challenge?
I challenge myself every day to use my time wisely. When I don't have a clock to punch, it's easy to get sucked into spending too much time on one task at the expense of another. Along with that is the challe…

Twittering About Twitter

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I spend a lot of time on Twitter these days and everyone has something to say about the new Social Media. They're all experts. I'm not. I'm just going to tell you what I'm doing there, how I do it and what I'm getting out of it so far.
The software I use for my interface is Tweetdeck. It allows me to track various levels of conversation in columns.
I run Tweetdeck in the background of my day, everyday and at different times of the day, and when I can, I devote time to being "active" on it.I follow people who I can help professionally, who can help me, have valuable information, expand my notion of the world or who I find entertaining.I maintain a positive "face" on Twitter without being inauthentic. If I'm not in a good place, I read and keep quiet or retweet other people's content that IS worthwhile.I find people to follow a variety of ways:I run a search on a phrase like "business plan" to find everyone who's talking about …

Don't Get All Spacey on Me!

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You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymore.
You finally admit to 'yourself and another person' that you may not be reading your P&L correctly.(!)You've stopped having regular Company/Employee meetings.
You wonder how your physical space is working or not working for youThis one can speak to your employee issues or you working at home. I'll take the first one right now. Some questions to ask yourself:
Is your space too big because you have to walk too far to see other people?Is your space too small and it's too noisy to have professional phone conversations?Do you generally find your space a little sad but believe it's the least of your priorities?You know you want to move but how can you afford it?Stop me here if I'm off-base, but generally woman are…

No News is Good News?

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Don't jump!

You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymore.
You finally admit to 'yourself and another person' that you may not be reading your P&L correctly.(!)You've stopped having regular Company/Employee meetings.Oh, this is a huge one right now!
Quite often what I do with companies is help them rebuild their relationships with their employees. Especially in the case of their being one "Captain" at the helm, the relationship with one's employees can be the first thing to go in a stressful situation.

When things are difficult or not working well within a company, I've found that owners often shy away from employee meetings. Perhaps they want to wait until they have "good news" for everyone. Thing is, people just want news! Any informati…

Those Tricky Reports

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You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymore.
You finally admit to 'yourself and another person' that you may not be reading your P&L correctly.(!)We can replace P&L with any financial statement. Are you asking yourself if there's something wrong with your ability to read a statement or is it the way it's constructed? Well, it could be both. Every business owner tells me that they have a sense of how they're doing financially without the reports, but it acts as a confirmation.

Your financial reports and how they are constructed are important for you, possible investors, and lending institutions. Making sure that all of your assets are in there will help tip the balance, in a Balance Sheet. (Ummmm.... that's poetic justice here, you can never unbalance…

Moss Growin' on You, Part II

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As a prelude to my post, let me tell you first that my Peach of an Offer is Still Available. I am offering incentives for free sessions for referrals as well. Ask me!

You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymoreYesterday I took one case study and today I'm going to take another, dramatic example:

This particular company brought me in during the Mother of all Crisis: Embezzlement. Yes, the CFO ran off will a million dollars by cooking the books for two years. I was brought in to find out what the "real" books were by re-creating 2 years of activity for a multi-million $ company. Yeah, fun right?

The owner then 'fessed up to allowing himself to not know parts of his business because he'd rather be selling, and hey, that's why there's a CFO. This was a sor…

You've Got Some Moss Growin' on You?

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You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymore.I can guarantee there's at least ONE system that you have running that's not working for you:
Are sending your office manager out to the post office?

With that example, some of you will shudder, some of you will say "what office manager?" and some of you will say, "please, that's stupid." I have a feeling that most of you are going to be relating to the first two comments. There's always something. Some weird little process that only one person knows how to do, doesn't want to teach to someone else and it's inefficient and costing you time and money.

You quite possibly may not know what "systems" you have. Let me give you an example of what you can do to identify and update what you hav…

Where Are You Now #2 Rocky?

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You have a business and things are kind of okay but employees are nervous and so are you. You wonder how you can streamline and get your "back burner" marketing plan back up to the front.
You're not sure if your systems are working anymore.
You finally admit to 'yourself and another person' that you may not be reading your P&L correctly.(!)You've stopped having regular Company/Employee meetings.
You wonder how your physical space is working or not working for you
Since when did your marketing plan end up on the back burner???Let me know if I left something out!
Seriously, I think there are very few small businesses, even the ones who are "flush" right now who are NOT asking themselves some of these questions. Each one is indicative of yet other issues. They may all play out differently, but one thing is certain, the road continues to move beneath us and how ready we are for the speed bumps has to do with how we have the everyday under control.

What I …

A Peach of an Offer

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I'm going to take a little commercial break here between topics.

I'd like to offer new clients a deal: Book two 50 minute sessions with me and get the second one free. Two hours for the price of one! The calls can be from anywhere in the US or Canada and you can contact me Monday via email to set something up.

I guarantee you, it will be cheaper than therapy and perhaps more of what you need right now!

To quote my mother, "But that's just me, Dear...."