Posts Tagged ‘sales’

5 Steps to Sound Growth for Small Businesses

by Matthew Carmen on July 4, 2011

Over the last several months, I have mostly written about the financial, strategic and operational needs of mid-sized and large companies.  What about small business?  Companies with, say, 10-150 employees…what in these areas can best serve them?  Of course there are the obvious: the ability to track expenditures, report on company spend, rudimentary budgeting, payroll, etc. Certainly these are very important, but really, the owners and stakeholders of the small business should be able to handle this on their own – or with minimal help.   The most important need for small business owners is to work with someone well-versed in things financial, who can offer a growing business the ability to formulate strategy and then develop sound finance processes, procedures and who can offer the right tools to turn strategy into practice.  In this way, the finance person participates in the growth of the business and helps take the company to the next level.

This resource discussed above is the hardest to articulate to small business clients.  They usually want someone to tell them how much they are spending, on what, and how they can spend less on the same services.  These are important questions, but somewhat short-sighted.  What the client should be asking, (and I like to ask questions to get them thinking this way) is:  How can I get my company to the next level?  The proverbial next level of course means something different for each company: it may be $10 million in sales for one, higher margins for another, or opening up new markets for another still. Regardless, I’ve found that there are 5 key steps that must take place in order to reach ‘next level’ status:

  1. Decide what the next level is, specifically.  What is the direction in which your company wants to go?  There will be some type of desired growth, what is it?  Does this growth match the company’s mission and values?  Formulating your goal is most important; if the goal is unclear, there is no way that a strategy can help achieve that goal.  Sure, some goals are reached anyhow simply by dumb luck, but as you probably guessed, it is not a scalable process.
  2. Develop a strategy to reach a clear goal.  This takes true leadership from within.  Once a goal is formulated, a well-thought-out strategy or detailed plan is needed to get there.  What will it cost to reach our goal? What skills are required (marketing, product development, operations, etc)?  How much time with this endeavor take?  Once these large questions are answered, a program or project management team should be able to take over and develop a detailed plan of action.
  3. Plan of action. The program team in a small company (usually 1 or 2 people) will need to develop the timeline for the actions that need to take place, and who will actually perform the work.  This program team may be made up of internal employees or outside contractors/consultants.  There are many tools which help in this area as well, including Microsoft Project and others, that can help organize tasks and timing.  Once a plan is developed and approved, the real work starts.
  4. Communication:  The plan and assignment of roles must be clearly communicated to the entire organization.  This serves multiple purposes: it lets those that will be involved understand their roles and what their expectations are, and it also lets those not involved know what the future state of the organization will look like. Finally, it lets management know how they should start planning for future roles in a fashion that will evolve along with company goals.  Expectations of everyone will change during this process, typically for the better.
  5. Reporting and Tracking:  This step entails reporting on the progress of the strategic implementation.  The best tools for this are a balanced scorecard and separate financial reports.  A balanced scorecard will track the inner workings of the strategic implementation – what is going on at the operational, leadership and learning levels, how the organization is changing and ensuring it is on track to meet goals on time.  The financial reporting piece will let leadership know if they are spending what was approved and in the right areas.  Analysis of both these reporting mechanisms will allow for operational changes as the external environment changes (competition, products, legal, etc.)

The process is finished once the project goals are met.  (Have the new systems been put into production, etc.?) Now the claims made by the new strategy need to be monitored closely, and the results examined likewise.  Is there progress being made towards our goal?  If yes, is this progress happening as planned? Faster? Slower? Perhaps the new systems now in place allow for amending goals upward, or results in better returns on investment. If so, what a great problem to have, right?  Continued reporting and vision are also required – and once new goals are established, the process should ideally begin anew.

So you see, the finance person at a small company must wear many more hats than his/her counterpart in larger organizations.  In the scenarios above, there is a good chance that the finance person will also serve as the program manager for the strategic implementation, or at least play a key roll in that implementation.  The risks are often greater for a small company, but the rewards for the company can be greater as well – and isn’t that what owning a business is all about?

Matthew Carmen launched Datacenter Trust along with Marc Watley in February, 2010 and serves as Co-Founder & COO as well as Managing Partner of their Financial Intelligence practice. Datacenter Trust is a recently-launched consulting and services delivery firm, providing outsourced server hosting, bandwidth, cloud services, and IT financial intelligence and analysis services to growing businesses. Follow Datacenter Trust on Twitter @datacentertrust
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Week In Review – Jan 30 – Feb 5, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on February 6, 2011

Pop-up retail, meet pop-up office

by Marc Watley, Jan 31, 2011

Pop-up retail stores is a recent concept that’s enjoyed immense success. This is applicable to B2B focused organizations too. For example, consider a SaaS company in Dallas needing exposure in Silicon Valley in order for the new product to succeed. They should consider setting up a pop-up office in University Avenue in Palo Alto or Castro Street in Mountain View, for example, which are both hotbeds of Valley activity – with everyone from Googlers to Facebookers to VCs constantly rushing along these thoroughfares to coffee/lunch/dinner meetings. Despite the recent corner-turning of the economy, most cities’ central business districts like these still have plenty of empty storefronts and ground-level offices. Right now is a particularly good time to consider a pop-up office. more…

Project Reality Check #7: Cage Wrestling – Project vs. Operations Management

by Gary Monti, Feb 1, 2011

Inherent conflict between projects and operations might be called white-collar cage wrestling. Participants are focused, strong, and may carry the belief – winning means dominance of their approach. Who’s right? They both are. What is at stake is delivery of a product that performs well and is sustainable. more…

Social Media and Tribes #28: Social Media on the GO!

by Deepika Bajaj, Feb 2, 2011

In today’s world, we are no more rooted to our computer for staying connected. This is largely because of the advent of smart phone and mobile apps. If you have an iPhone and a friend of yours complains about your delay in responding to his/her email…you better NOT say, “I was away from my computer”. Similarly, if you are a smart phone user and you say to someone “I don’t have time to Tweet or FB”; most likely they are wondering if you are using any smarts of the smart phone! more…

Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude

by William Reed, Feb 3, 2011

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. There is away to flexibility, based on a Mandala Principle from Buddhism, the Principle of Gratitude (慈悲喜捨 Jihi Kisha). You can download the Mandala of Gratitude, and start using it in your daily life. more…

Leader driven Harmony #10: Don’t Be a Baby Bird (Part II)

by Mack McKinney, Feb 4, 2011

You can spend an (enjoyable) lifetime in anything, if you get all the way IN IT. Business, retail, real estate, banking, dentistry, chiropractic, farming, nursing, appliance repair, EVERY FIELD can provide you with a lifetime of thought and involvement if you will just dive in and commit to being the best at it. Do you have a “fire in the belly” to stop being a baby bird? more…

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Pop-up retail, meet pop-up office

by Marc Watley on January 31, 2011

Gap did it next to their flagship 5th Avenue location in New York.  Method did it in San Francisco’s Union Square shopping district. (Method, those funny teardrop-shaped bottles of good eco-friendly soaps and cleaners found at stores like Target and Whole Foods).  You’re likely most familiar with Boo! – The Halloween Store that ‘pops up’ every fall.  Right – now I know you’re with me.  Pop-up stores are seemingly everywhere these days, and if retailers can enjoy success with these temporary locations, why not B2B-focused organizations?

The beauty of a pop-up office is the ability for a growing company to take full advantage of high-visibility retail space, making a high-impact presentation and increasing exposure to prospective customers in a particular market. Think of it as your booth at a 90-day-long trade show.

Last November, BusinessWeek did a story on pop-up stores and interviewed Erik Joule, Levi Strauss’ Sr. VP of Merchandising. “Success is exposure.” Erik said.  His Levi’s ‘workshop’ pop-up space in Manhattan reportedly draws 3,000 visitors each week.  Procter & Gamble apparently enjoyed similar success with their pop-up initiative, drawing some 14,000 visitors in just ten days!

Think about it: Let’s say your business is a Software-As-A-Service (SaaS) company, and you’re launching a software development and testing application focused on growing technology companies.  You’re based in, say, Dallas, but you desperately need exposure to – and presence in – Silicon Valley in order for your new product to succeed. You also know that University Avenue in Palo Alto or Castro Street in Mountain View, for example, are both hotbeds of Valley activity – with everyone from Googlers to Facebookers to VCs constantly rushing along these thoroughfares to coffee/lunch/dinner meetings.  These are the exact folks you need to reach, and ideally you’d like to have a company presence with proximity to one of these two areas.  Here’s how I’d go about this:

  1. Location. Find a small, high visibility vacant storefront on one of these streets and arrange for a temporary lease (with an option to extend if possible). With luck, I might be able to negotiate down to 50% of the market lease rate.  I might also consider reaching out to the local Chamber of Commerce, whose goal is to have zero vacant spaces in these busy areas and who might offer leverage during negotiations with the landlord.
  2. Strategy. I’ll work with a retail design professional to create my ‘storefront’ for maximum impact. (A local art college would be a good place to start, given they typically employ ‘working’ faculty.) Ideally, I’d want to have an open, inviting area for all passers-by, perhaps with large monitors looping mini-commercials of my new product.
  3. Move in. Gather one or two of my Dallas team, hop on a plane, and ‘move in’ to the new location. I might also consider bringing on a local sales rock-star with a solid track record of winning SaaS deals in the Valley to help with lead generation.
  4. Marketing. With the location and team in place, we’ll need lots of PR for the new pop-up shop. Enter social media: Facebook page. Press release. TechCrunch story.  Tweets galore.  I think you get the picture.
  5. Launch! Now to invite as many folks as we can find to our launch party (yes, with cocktails), barking on the street if I have to.  We’ll schedule and host regular interactive lunch-n-learn product demos, offering something a bit higher-end than pizza for lunch.  The door is always open, presenting a standing invitation for all puzzled-looking pedestrians to come on in.

Right now is a particularly good time to consider a pop-up office. Despite the recent corner-turning of the economy, most cities’ central business districts still have plenty of empty storefronts and ground-level offices. Aside from taking long walks through central business districts of prospective cities (which you should do), there are several online resources available to help find available retail spaces for lease; a couple that immediately come to mind are Rofo and Pop Up Insider.

Imagine your delight in giving directions to a prospect: “We’ve taken over the old Kenneth Cole location – you know, at the corner of Fifth and Main?” Oooh…was that a light bulb I just saw illuminating above your head?

Written by Marc Watley, Co-Founder & CEO of Datacenter Trust and CMO at Reppify. Datacenter Trust is an IT consulting and services delivery firm, helping growing businesses make smart decisions from sound financial analysis and business intelligence. Reppify is a leading-edge technology company pioneering the use of social media data to drive better business decisions. Follow on Twitter: Datacenter Trust @datacentertrust and Reppify @reppify
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Before I talk you into shelling out $1,000 for this e-book (just kidding – it is Free to download!), a little bit on what this book is about:

  • Creative Success and
  • More Freedom, Money and Time for you.

Being Creative

Are you a creative person? Well, before you answer that question, it stands to reason we first define what being a “creative person” means. In the author’s (Mark McGuinness) own words:

“By creative people, I mean people who take creative approach to work and life. People who work hard, but because they love what they do, it doesn’t feel like work.

They may be artists, writers, musicians, actors, filmmakers, coaches, scientists, cooks, entrepreneurs, healthcare professionals – or tackling complex, meaningful, inspiring challenges in other fields.

If this sounds like you, read on.

Why do creative people need Freedom, Money and time?

Creative people need three things to be happy.

  1. Freedom – to do what you want, when you want and how you want it. Not just in holidays and spare time – but also doing meaningful work, in your own way.
  2. Money – to maintain your independence and fund your creative projects. Of course you want a nice place to live, but you’re not so worried about a bigger car than the guy next door. You’d rather spend money on experiences than status symbols.
  3. Time – to spend as you please, exploring the world and allowing your mind to wander in search of new ideas.

Usually, you’re lucky if you get two out of the three. But if one of them is missing, it compromises the other two.

Without money, you don’t have much freedom, because you have to spend your time chasing cash.

Without time off, money doesn’t buy you a lot of freedom.

And if you’re doing something you hate for a living, it doesn’t matter how big your salary is, or how much holiday you get. You still feel trapped.

Surely there must be a more creative solution?

If this still sounds like you and you’d like a little more freedom, money and time in your life, read on.

What I got from this book?

In one word, Plenty! Here’s a list of the top 10 things I learned:

  1. Am I creative?: Creativity is not just a fancy label that only artists with long hair and thoughtful expressions carry – even though you might think you are not creative (or not creative enough), after reading the book, you might change your mind.
  2. It’s about Quality of Life: I want Freedom, Money and Time. Why? Simply to improve my quality of life.
  3. Don’t Compromise: It is OK to be Unreasonable about having all three – Freedom, Money and Time. Just one or two out of the three will just not do!
  4. Being skillful does not guarantee you money – Yes, you need to be skillful to make money, but, as Mark found out in his 2nd business, it’s not guaranteed.
  5. Your first love and the Market: In Mark’s own words – “Your market may be next door to your first love”. With poetry being his true love, he found “market-love” when he looked next door!
  6. Sharing adds; not subtracts: In today’s “knowledge based” marketplace, the more you share, the more you increase your chances of success. Why? Because it depicts your knowledge and people trust knowledge sources.
  7. Sales without Marketing is like surgery without an anesthetic:  Mark’s suggestion. Don’t try either. It’s way too painful.
  8. Your biggest enemy. Is sometimes (ok, most of the times), Ready?… YOU! Let go of your prejudices that limit your capacity. These usually start with thoughts like “I don’t think I can do that” OR thoughts that contain sentences that have the words “never” or “always”, in them.
  9. The wrong business model can crush you. Yeah, I know you knew this already. But, it’s these simple things that we neglect and overlook… until it’s too late. Mark shares his story about how this one got him!
  10. Never Give Up! – Well, before you take this too literally and rush to make some 2011 resolutions (you’re 17 days late!), there are some things that you should give up (like smoking?) … and then there are some that you should Never give up. I am talking about the latter – like pursuing your dreams. Persistence does pay! Keep creating and innovating!

About the e-Book

A few quick points about the e-book:

  • It’s FREE!
  • It’s a light read – 34 pages in all.
  • Describes Mark’s unconventional career journey, as a poet and creative coach, and the lessons he’s learned the hard way about finding the right combination of freedom, money and time.
  • It’s full of practical advice you can apply to your own situation, if you want to earn a living from your creative talent, or if you’re a freelancer or small business owner and want to make your business less stressful and more profitable.
  • Mark and his partners have also prepared an in-depth training program to accompany the e-book, and I’m pleased to be an affiliate partner for the launch. But the e-book itself is free to download, with no need to even give your email address.

Get your copy of Freedom, Money, Time and the Key to Creative Success by clicking here OR by going directly to the download page.

Also, please feel free to share the e-book with anyone who you think would find it helpful.

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Week In Review: Oct 3 – Oct 9, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on October 10, 2010

Project Leadership #1: 7 Ways to have a kickass kickoff!

by Himanshu Jhamb, Oct 4, 2010

A project manager’s real purpose is to provide CLARITY to a project. That happens when all the stakeholders are on sync regarding the purpose and outcome of the project. Project kickoff is a golden opportunity to provide this CLARITY to the team. If you follow Himanshu’s tips in this article, you can make your project kickoff purposeful and it will lay the foundation for a successful project. more…

Chaos and Complexity #4: Push on or Regroup?

by Gary Monti, Oct 5, 2010

A hallmark of a complex situation is unpredictability. One doesn’t know where things are leading. That’s why the situation is “complex” or worse yet “chaotic”. A good project manager (PM) should enable the team to identify possible solutions that will help eliminate the complexity. That’s just the first step. Coming up with the right schedule, dealing with the politics, etc can put the project at risk. Ideally the PM should avoid these situations by staying with reality. more…

Social Media and Tribes #25: A tribe of foodies – Connecting food to life

by Deepika Bajaj, Oct 6, 2010

Still in India, Deepika has been exploring the various tribes. Food is an integral part of the culture, but the tribe works differently. Food is not a standalone interest, but it is tied with other local flavors like Bollywood and roadside stalls. more…

Flexible Focus #22: New degrees of freedom with a digital mandala chart

by William Reed, Oct 7, 2010

Owning a car does not preclude you from using your feet. Similarly, you can print out a Mandala Chart and use it. Or, you can access an online program to create, save and share them. http://www.mandalachart.net is an eMandala Chart website that you can leverage. more…

Alternate Sales Partnerships #4: Ways to keep a healthy sales relationship (Part-2)

by Tina Burke, Oct 8, 2010

When the head of Sales in an organization changes, there will be radical changes. The new person will shake things up. This may lead to loss of revenue for agents. So, it’s very important to have good contracts and have them reviewed by attorneys. It may not be cheap, but in the long run it will help save tens of thousands of dollars. more…

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Week In Review: Sep 26 – Oct 2, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on October 3, 2010

Doing what is Right Vs. Being the Best

by Brian Beedle, Sep 27, 2010

Is it good enough to do the right thing? Certainly not. We as individuals and companies should constantly strive to be the best in our fields. This is necessary to survive in the highly competitive times we live in. For individuals it takes patient parenting from a young age and mentoring as adults to gain this ability. Companies achieve this via Six-Sigma, ITIL, etc.  more…

Chaos and Complexity #3: Managing Expectations

by Gary Monti, Sep 28, 2010

Project managers out there… this article is for you. When a project encounters a rough spot, the project manager is held accountable. Anybody expecting projects to be smooth and trouble free is living in utopia. But there are certain things which if you do consistently, you can manage such situations gracefully. more…

Social Media and Tribes # 14: Taking Dinosaurs Online

by Deepika Bajaj, Sep 29, 2010

Deepika is not irreverent when she uses dinosaurs as an analogy for our older generation. In fact the opposite is true and it is out of fondness for them. The past few decades has seen tremendous progress in technology and it has been especially tough for the older generation to keep pace with. But still they are a hardy bunch excited to adapt with the times and open up to social media albeit slowly and cautiously. more…

Flexible Focus #21: The 8 frames of life: Finances

by William Reed, Sep 30, 2010

Peter Drucker observed that people who chased money were all utterly miserable, without exception. Money should be part of the plan, a means to an end, not an end in itself. So pick a career in something you love and have some talent in. Then understand how economics is tied to everything else. You can do it if you view it with a flexible focus perspective. William’s Mandala chart can help you do it easier and better. more…

Alternate Sales Partnerships #3: The Sales Contract

by Tina Burke, Oct 1, 2010

Direct sales teams are expensive to maintain. Alternate sales teams do not cost any money up front. But there are challenges with either one. It may be an effective strategy to employ both channels, but there are thing you need to be aware of when you choose this path. more…

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Triple Constraint Sales

by Guy Ralfe on May 12, 2010

We had the opportunity to present our business offer to a potential client, whilst it was one client there were 8 delegates attending the meeting and each of those delegates represented an opportunity for future business.

I am a subscriber to the thinking that all employees are in sales; however as a project manager I never used to think of my role as having to conduct sales, yet reflecting back on it a very high proportion of the project management role was balancing the commercial interests of the company with the needs and desires of the customer.

As a project manager you constantly hear the mantra of the triple constraint being mentioned. For those of you not in the know it stipulates that for a successful project the Scope, Cost, Time(Resources) and Quality  (yes four not three axes) have to remain in balance. Any change to one of these axes will result in an impact to one or all of the others.

Since our offer is about sub contracted services it was not hard to think in terms of project management, and I then thought about how the triple constraint also applies to an effective and enticing sales pitch as basically every sale is a project.

Taking each of the axes and assessing them from a sales perspective:

  • Scope – the products and services you offer
  • Cost – the competitive advantage of your products, marginal utility and value to the buyer
  • Time/Resources – structure of your organization and its ability to fulfill on your commitments and obligations, ability to adapt and handle changes
  • Quality – what are your past accomplishments, how have you ensured that the quality will remain when taking on a new sale, your organizational structure, your organizational philosophies and practices?

Just like in a project you have to carefully balance these axes, it is vital that you do the same in managing your business. Customers are looking for good partners all the time, if you can demonstrate through your pitch that you are able to manage and deliver on these axes it provides a very compelling case for any prospect to engage with you.

You may have a superb product but if you have a poor supply chain and are prohibitively expensive you no longer have a balanced offer and you immediately become average.

Remember at all times though that you are presenting for the customers concerns, and in the marketplace average and mediocre are in abundance – there these four axes are not balanced. Just by performing these four key areas well with demonstrated success you will be differentiating your business and make any sales pitch enticing.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Pillars of Success

by Robert Driscoll on May 6, 2010

Recently I was listening to what I thought was going to be just another training class about how to be successful in business. Work hard; think differently; empower your employees. The usual.

The gentleman speaking was the President & CEO of one of the world’s largest wireless companies. At first I figured he was your typical blue blood, Ivy League educated executive who would give us some words of wisdom and then he would be on his way. How wrong I was. This gentleman talked about his life story and the struggles he had to overcome just to simply get an education, let alone build the company he ran today. From his life lessons, he built the foundation of his work ethic that he has kept throughout his personal and professional life.

He stated that you learn to be a leader through your personal and professional experiences as well as your formal (high school, university, graduate school) and informal (training classes, certifications) education. This is your foundation. Continuous learning and the accumulation of knowledge is what helped him build what he calls his pillars of success which looks like this:

Everything starts with an idea, a dream, but don’t just dream, dream big. Believe in yourself and don’t limit yourself to what others say. But dreaming is not enough. You have to have a good strategy on how you want to execute your dream, a winning game plan. Hope is not a good strategy. Don’t just expect things to happen. You need to have a good understanding of how you are not only going to start your new venture, but how you will get your customers, areas to target, etc..

Developing a winning game plan is just the beginning. You have to be willing to take risks. Calculated risks. This is where you need to get out of your normal comfort zone. You need to start thinking and acting differently than others in your market space and creating offers that have marginal value in the marketplace. Don’t just do something simply because it feels like the right thing or even worse, introduce a “new” offer that is just simply another flavor of a similar product or service already in the marketplace. If you do, you will never be noticed. Be different.

As soon as you have a game plan and you start executing on it (and taking risks), you will most likely come across obstacles that you have never come up against before. Don’t avoid them. Tackle and embrace them and learn from them. These experiences will only make you stronger.

Overcoming obstacles, if approached properly and you learn from them, will only create new opportunities for you. Find the value in them and incorporate them in to your offer. This will only increase the marginal value in your offer. As you add more features or functionality in to your offer, go back to the first pillar and start the process all over again. This should be a continuous cycle in your business.

The foundation that holds up these pillars of success is the leader’s principles: teamwork, integrity, credibility, attitude, vision and excellence. These will be discussed in my next post, but I hope this post can help jumpstart your dream to start a new venture where you can build your own pillars of success.

robert_driscoll_color This article was contributed by Robert Driscoll, co-founder of Active Garage. You can follow Robert on Twitter at rsdriscoll.
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Are You Preventing Your House Sale ?

by Guy Ralfe on May 5, 2010

We are in the process of selling our house, the same house that when we bought it, we bought because of the opportunity we saw in the land and buildings to make it into the home we wanted it to be for our family – it was also at the time going to be our home for the foreseeable future.

When we negotiated for the house we were negotiating with owners that had spent the last 28 years in the house. They clearly had a lot of sentimental attachment to the house, but to me the buyer this sale was purely getting the homestead for as low a price as I could.

Fast forward 5 years and we have come to the end of our stay in the home and it is just now that the home looks like the home I imagined when we bought the house. Today we also received our first offer on the house – it was ridiculously low balled and our first reaction was that we had been slighted and victimized so in retaliation we rejected the offer.

… fortunately good help was close at hand and we were mentored through the errors we made.

Firstly we had to get to grips with what was happening – we were selling a piece of land and buildings, there can no longer be any emotional ties to this property otherwise we wouldn’t be selling it.

The buyer is looking at the property through their vision of what the property can be for them. The agent is responsible for identifying and selling the strengths of the property to enable the buyers vision. By virtue of the fact that we had an offer the agent had completed their obligation.

By us refusing the buyers ridiculously low offer closes the door and ends the conversation. Our response of a rejection may even have offended the buyer in the same way their low ball offer did to us.

The better response is to respond with a counter offer, at or very near to your asking price. This signals to the buyer that you are interested in working with them. Once this process begins the buyer is now in the thought process of getting the object of his desire.  In the majority of cases a common ground can be found and the transaction completed when you approach the sale in this way.

Another benefit of this is that even though you have not accepted the offer, the property is effectively under “negotiation”. What this does is it heightens the sense of urgency for any other potential buyer and with a right to first refusal, means that you could easily accept a better offer.

A far more powerful option than closing the door by rejecting the offer – if during negotiation a mutual agreement cannot be reached you can still easily walk away from the offer – remember it is just a piece of property.

Guy RalfeThis article was contributed by Guy Ralfe, co-founder of Active Garage and co-author of the upcoming book ProjectManagementTweets. You can follow Guy on Twitter at gralfe.
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Many authors find that finishing their book on time, and avoiding writer’s block, is easier than they expected. This is one of the reasons that successful authors spend a lot of time in the planning stage, positioning their books and preparing a detailed content plan.

The more you plan, the easier it will be to write and finish your book on time!

As a result, once you have created a content plan and have committed to daily progress, you’ll find finishing your book is mostly a matter of “work” rather than stress.

Keeping on schedule

Comfortable, stress-free writing is important because it’s essential that you finish your book on time. You simply can’t afford to get behind schedule; too many people are depending on you to finish your book on time.

If you’re working with a trade publisher, they have already committed to a publication date, and have scheduled numerous staff and freelance resources like:

  1. Cover and inside-page designers
  2. Developmental editors
  3. Technical editors
  4. Layout and production
  5. Proofreaders
  6. Sales and promotion resources

If your manuscript arrives late, it can lose its place in the publisher’s production cycle.

Worse, if your manuscript delays your book’s publication, it may not be available in stores when previously-scheduled marketing and promotion events take place. Delays also make bookstore owners and buyers question their previous purchase commitments, which can lead to canceled orders before your book even appears!

Keeping on schedule is primarily a matter of:

  • ŸStarting with a detailed content plan. Ideally, by the time you start writing, each chapter in your table of contents contains Level 1 and Level 2 subheads indicating what you’re going to be covering, and where it will appear in the chapter.
  • Prioritizing your time. Which involves recognizing the importance of your book to your future and committing to as little as 30-minutes a day to finishing your manuscript. Pages quickly mount up!
  • Avoiding distractions. Distractions can take many forms, including unnecessary self-editing while writing. Your immediate priority is to complete the first draft as quickly as possible, so you and your editors can make it all it can possible be.
  • Delegation. There are probably some tasks which you consider “writing” that you may be able to delegate, such as listening to, or transcribing, interviews, researching quotations, and checking for minor spelling errors as you go along.

    Writing out of order

    One of the most important ways you can keep your writing on schedule is to write out-of-sequence. Or, as I prefer to think of it, “Write the easiest stuff first!”

    Specifically, instead of starting by writing the introduction and chapter one, start in the middle, with an “easy” chapter- -one with lots of detail you can just about finish in your sleep.

    Not only that, you don’t have to write entire chapters! Instead, write an easy section, or subsection, then go on to another “easy” section or subsection of a different chapter.

    There are two points involved:

    • ŸFinish it! First, its essential that you finish the first draft, so it can be massaged into shape.
    • Build up speed. Second, progress builds upon progress. Even if you feel like a cat who’s stayed out all night when you begin writing, once you’ve written that first paragraph, or two, you’ll find yourself writing faster and faster. Once you get started, and into the rhythm of writing, it’s easy to keep going.

    In fact, it seems that writing a book is primarily a matter of “starting to write” each time you sit down for a writing session!

    Of the more than 500 nonfiction authors and book coaches I’ve interviewed, a large percentage state that the introduction and Chapter l of their books is usually the last to be written.

    What about writer’s block?

    A lot is written about writer’s block. Writer’s block refers to an author’s sudden inability to make any progress writing their book. It’s characterized by extreme stress that gets worse the closer it gets to submission deadlines.

    Many new authors fear writer’s block is “part” of the writing process. However, here are a few observations about writer’s block:

    • ŸWriter’s block doesn’t have to be a part of the writing process. Although writer’s block gets a lot of press, it’s not a given! It’s doesn’t have to happen. It’s not “part” of the writing process. Writer’s block is more a symptom than a cause. There are things you can do to prevent it.
    • Writer’s block isn’t forever. It can be cured! There are strategies and workarounds you can choose to restore productivity to your writing sessions. As you become a more comfortable writer, you’ll find yourself knowing the warning signs and can take immediate action.

      Tips for avoiding writer’s block

      Here are some of the ways you can keep writer’s block from appearing:

      1. Planning is the best way to prevent writer’s block. Stress is caused by the unknown, but when you know what you’re going to be writing, you’ll become comfortable with the writing process. That’s why a detailed content plan is so important; when you know, down to the subhead level, what you’re going to write about in each chapter, finishing your book becomes more a matter of “doing it” than “creativity” or “inspiration.”
      2. Consistent daily progress prevents writer’s block. Stress is often caused by overly-ambitious goals, like trying to write a book in sequential order during holidays, vacations, or weekends. By expecting yourself to write during “marathon” writing sessions creates a great deal of stress. It is infinitely less stressful to write 30 minutes every weekday, hoping only to write a page or two of double-spaced copy, than it is expect to spend a day in isolation and anticipate writing 25-50 pages.
      3. Progress builds confidence, preventing writer’s block. Your confidence and enthusiasm will increase to the extent you track your progress and can view a constantly growing number of completed pages. This is why it’s so important to print your latest pages on 3-hole paper and save them in a 3-ring binder, at the end of every writing session.
      4. Reasonable expectations prevent writer’s block. As a result of the way writing is traditionally taught, authors tend to compare themselves to impossible standards- -often, their own favorite authors. It’s important to keep things in perspective; few authors write perfect first drafts! Often, the perfection that appears in a book is the result of months of extensive writing, rewriting, and editing involving several specialists. Writing is a team effort, and your job isn’t to prepare the perfect first draft, it’s to write a good, solid first draft and be willing to work to make it as good as it can be.
      5. Frequently review what you’ve written and what you want to write the next day. Immediately before going to bed, for example, review what you’ve written that day, and go over your writing goals for the next day. This engages your mind; while you’re sleeping, your brain will be processing and organizing information. As a result, when you sit down to write, you’ll be amazed at how quickly you get up to speed.

      Basically, give yourself a break! Give yourself every advantage possible, beginning with a firm content plan, a realistic commitment to daily writing progress, and don’t compare yourself to your favorite authors. If you get to talk to them, chances are, your favorite author will admit that they depend a lot on their editors to get the job done right.

      What to do if writer’s block occurs

      Here are a few of the strategies that I, and my clients, depend on to defeat writer’s block.

      1. Write something else. Don’t prolong the agony; if you are stuck at a particular point, temporarily put it aside, and write something that’s easier to write. If you are stuck getting started in Chapter One, for example, jump ahead to an easy-to-write bullet list of resources or recommendations in the middle of Chapter Five.
      2. Change the format you’re trying to write. If you’re having trouble writing about a specific topic for your book, try describing what you’re having trouble writing in a letter or a memo. Tell your wife, a friend, your co-author, or a trusted customer what you’re trying to write about.
      3. Write less. Instead of trying to write a complete chapter, or section of a chapter, give yourself a 1-page limit! Force yourself to cover the topic in just one page! Reducing the amount you feel you have to write takes away a lot of the stress.
      4. Give yourself a time limit. Another way of overcoming writer’s block is to give yourself a 5-minute deadline; get a timer and see how much you can write, as quickly as you can, in just 5 minutes. Once you start writing, of course, you’ll probably find it difficult to stop…and your writer’s block is a thing of the past.
      5. Pick up the phone! Most people find that it is easier to talk than it is to write. So, invest in a digital voice recorder, or voice recognition software, and your pick-up the phone and call a friend or a trusted co-worker, and simply tell them what you’re trying to write, and why its so relevant. Have the call transcribed, and you’ll have the first draft of your book.
      6. Offer a free teleseminar. Teleseminars are great writer’s block fighters; they provide a deadline for action, and make it easy to share the information you already know. There’s little, or no, cost involved, and you can schedule them at the last minute, i.e., 24 or 48 hours in advance, thanks to today’s e-mails and social marketing tools. Don’t worry about the number of participants; the event is primarily for you, providing an audience, a deadline, and a limited amount of time, for sharing your ideas and creating a recording you can later transcribe.

      These are just a few of the simple steps you can take to cure writer’s block. The important thing to remember is that writer’s block is a result of stress; stress caused by unrealistic goals and/or a lack of planning your writing before you start to write.

      Like for health issues in general, for writer’s block – prevention is the best cure!

      rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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