Monday, July 28, 2008

Turning Your Office into a Green Place to Work

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, a typical business office employee generates 1.5 pounds of waste paper every day. With the emphasis on "going green" it is more important than ever to adopt a "paperless office". Here are ten steps to reduce your impact on the environment

  • Use both sides.
    • Make double sided copies, which will cut consumption in half.
  • New life for old paper. Use shredded paper to pack materials.
    • Use sides of paper that have not been used for draft paper.
  • Don't have a nervous breakdown.
    • Breakdown boxes and reuse them for sending packages back out.
  • Choose the draft.
    • Print in "draft" mode. It saves ink.
  • Go black and white.
    • Save ink and print in black and white as often as possible.
  • Donate outdated computers and supplies to schools or nonprofit organizations.
  • Buy refillable ink cartridges and recycled toner. Consider trying some papers made with recycled products such as hemp, bamboo or organic cotton.
  • Build virtual filing cabinets.
    • Don't distribute paper. Encourage emailing and organized digital filing.
  • PDF
    • Put handbooks and manuals online.
  • Power down.
    • Turn your computer off at the end of the day and on weekends. You can save as much as 50% of energy use.

Inspired by Smart Business Ideas Magazine, July 2008

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Four Tips to Create Opportunities for Yourself

Recently I was reading the latest copy of Entrepreneur magazine. In it was an article by Barry Farber entitled "It's Always Your Lucky Day". This article basically shared tips on "creating your own luck every day". Although I don't believe in things happening because of luck, I do believe that you can do things that will help create opportunities for success, and so this is what I took Farber's tips to be.

  1. Charm 'em – Each day when run in to people who have the ability to make a decision. It is our responsibility to leave a great mental picture of ourselves and our companies on their minds. When meeting such ones, it is important to have an enthusiastic and positive attitude.
  2. Steer clear of situations that cause you to waste your time – Qualify your prospects quickly.
    1. If someone is doesn't see your value and has an issue with your price then that is not the customer for you.
    2. If you spend a great deal of time on particular clients projects yet don't see the return on your investment; let them go.
    3. People who don't really have the opportunity to benefit from your product or service.
  3. Visualize success – Live your vision everyday. Live as if you already are where you want to be. Look, the part, act the part, dress the part. Change your mind set. If you can see it, it can be.
  4. Be different and daring – What separates you from your competition? How can you create unique products and services for your customer? Of these other things you can be doing to get their attention?

You must set boundaries for yourself and your business in order to attain success. Most importantly, you must see that it is within your reach. These four tips, if done correctly can help you create opportunities to grow your business.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

What do you do in your “slow periods”?

Although none of us are happy about it, all business owners go through "slow periods" in their business. It's all about what you do to benefit your business in other ways during those periods. Even in busy times there are challenges with using time wisely; this is even more important in slow times. According to Peggy Duncan a personal productivity expert, "The biggest time-management mistake people make is not knowing how much time they waste." When there is a slow day, it needs to be approached differently in order to make it a productive use of time. During the busy times it might be a good idea to start a file of projects that you can do when times slow down. For example, promotions or marketing strategies, new contacts that would be beneficial to your business, or new business processes to implement. In a recent Entrepreneur (August 2008) magazine articles, it was suggested that multitasking when doing tasks such as developing relationships, organizing or designing new systems could hurt efficiency. By systematically approaching these during an inevitable downtown turn those times into ones of productivity.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Starting a Business?

As many of us begin in business, we contemplate what we need to do NOW to get up and running; thinking we will worry about the other things later. In most cases, these basic THREE pieces are of great importance to providing a clean professional look for your business.

  1. A logo: This brands you as an actual company. When you name is not attached, it should still be clear what type of company you have. Is this true of your logo? Perhaps it is time for a redesign.

  2. A Business card: Since we all know how important networking is, a business card is key for these types of social gatherings. These new contacts, must be able to get in contact with you regarding either a direct connection with you or someone that you know. This business card must also have your logo on it so that the marketing strategy of "branding your business" is further manifested.
  3. A website: Who would have thought years ago that web presence would be so important to commerce in general – not just e-commerce? If you do not have a website, you can best believe potential clients will question the legitimacy of your business. Obviously a website has many benefits.
    1. It is available 24 hours/7 days a week (times when you aren't)
    2. Has the potential to provide general information about your business.
    3. Increased your chances of branding your business.

Many of these aspects of starting a business may take some time to develop, but ultimately they will make a huge difference in how progressive and profitable your business becomes.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

The Search for a Laptop - Where Do I Begin?

Its been a while since I’ve owned a laptop and I am looking forward to the freedom to move and work in different environments. I recently decided that I needed to purchase laptop as my others, an elderly MacBook and a Dell have both completely died. I had no idea where to start.

No doubt, all of us know “techies”, so I figured I would start with them. Well they asked me all types of questions. What operating system would I like on it, memory, speed, battery life; basically, what are the uses going to be for my laptop? This helped me to realize that I really hadn’t thought this through. The only thing I knew was that I didn’t want Windows Vista because I had heard so much about the bugs and computers crashing, etc. from other users and I didn’t want to go through that. So I had to try and figure out if all new laptops have Windows Vista? Can I still purchase one with Window XP? If so, from where? Can I change the operating system once I get it? Do I want a MAC or PC? What are the benefits to either?

This has indeed been a learning experience. The first thing I learned is just like when choosing a target market, you must begin with the end in mind. I guess Steven Covey’s rule transcend multiple levels of business. What are you going to be using the laptop for? If it is for basic web surfing and word processing, there are certain things you don’t necessarily NEED in a laptop that affect the cost (i.e. paying for more memory). However, if you feel your use of the laptop might increase, you can purchase one that has the ability to grow with your business.

If you like the sleek stylish look of a MAC, does that mean you will not be compatible with your clients who may be Windows users. Not necessary, MAC has many add on products that make the transition and use of both platforms seamless.

Yet, I am still deciding. MAC vs PC. Windows Vista vs. Windows XP. The search continues.