Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Law of Productivity

The law of productivity is simply this: Get things done. If you've been working all day (or all week), and you have nothing to show for it - then you lack productivity. You are not a productive worker.

Every single day, you should have something tangible to prove to yourself (and to others) that you are productive. Being productive doesn't mean that you have to have the most pivotal role in the company; It simply means you need to be contributing to the company's advancement to the next level.

Many Black-owned businesses lack productivity. People show up for work, and they're doing something from 9 to 5. They're just not "producing".

If what you're doing at work is not "producing" for the company, then you're wasting time and company money. Everything you do should be producing more revenue for for the company - whether it's directly or indirectly.

Black CEOs must learn to keep their teams focused on this. Do not allow employees to work on meaningless tasks that aren't productive. Find something for them to do that will contribute to the company's bottom line.

For instance, I noticed that many restaurants make waiters and hostesses wrap silverware in napkins in between dealing with customers. For what? This is a meaningless task. Do the people who eat at restaurants care whether or not their silverware was wrapped up? I'm willing to bet they don't.

From what I understand, a waiter can waste up to 2 hours a day doing this. These restaurants need to find something more meaningful and valuable for their employees to do.

I think you get my drift: Get stuff done, and get it done with a purpose.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

What You Should Know About Trademarks and Patents

When first launching a business, many Black entrepreneurs put a lot of emphasis on trademarks and patents. In most cases though, they are wasting a lot of time and money. Here's what you need to know:

Trademarks: Trademarks are needed to protect your company's or product's name. There are two types of trademarks - a federal trademark and a state (or local) trademark. A federal trademark can be obtained online through the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for about $300. A local trademark can be obtained through your Secretary of State's office (usually the Department of Assessments and Taxation) for much less.

In the beginning, just get the local trademark. You can get the federal trademark later on when and if your company becomes profitable.

Also, don't make the silly mistake of paying someone to do this for you. It's extremely easy to do, and anyone offering this as a paid service is pretty much ripping you off.

Also, make sure that your trademark doesn't expire on you. It does need to be renewed from time to time.

Patents: Patents are needed to protect your design or invention. However, patents can be very expensive. Even though you can file for a patent yourself through the USPTO, it would be wise to hire a company to help you. This process can be very tricky.

Sadly though, patents expire after 10 years and you can not renew it. That's why you currently have tons of companies who make cars, TVs, DVD players, etc - because they all now have access to the original patent.

So, when you invent something - you pretty much have 10 years until someone can legally steal the idea from you.

Despite having a time limit, you should wait before you spend a lot of money on a patent. Again, try to make sure that your idea will be profitable first!

How To Know When They Are Lying

Entrepreneur Magazine recently published an article by Ken Osborn, founder and executive director of The CIA Institute. The article reveals seven subtle cues that often mean a person is lying.

Looking for these cues can help you detect a dishonest employee, contractor, business partner or client. Here they are:

1) The Nose Touch - Humans have erectile tissues in our noses that engorge with blood when we lie. This causes a tingling or itching sensation that requires a nose touch to satisfy. The absence of a nose touch doesn't guarantee truth, but the presence of a nose touch often means deception.

2) Speech Disturbances - When people lie, they force their brains to pretend that the lie is true. This confuses the brain, and taxes their cognitive ability to think efficiently. So when people lie, they pause longer and speak slower than normal and often experience speech disturbances that serve as gap fillers, such as "um," "er" and "uh."

3) Incongruent Behavior - When someone's words don't agree with their body language, their communication is incongruent. Watch to see if the words being spoken match up with the person's facial expressions and hand gestures.

4) The Neck Rub - People rub their necks because of the stress they experience when they feel that an obstacle may be insurmountable. If you're interviewing a potential employee who is constantly rubbing his neck, he probably doesn't feel confident about the position.

5) The Eye Rub - An eye rub is an indicator of disbelief. Let's say you are training a new employee. The employee begins to rub her eyes even while verbally affirming your statements. This probably means that he/she doesn't believe you or disagrees with your instruction. Many subordinates feel uneasy about disagreeing with the boss, but their bodies don't hesitate.

6) Upward Inflections - People upwardly inflect their words when asking a question. You may have noticed that some salespeople will upwardly inflect certain statements of fact. This is a red flag that should alert you to potential deception. The salesman might say, "Your competitors have seen their profit margins increase by 30 percent by using our product." If you notice that he upwardly inflected the words, "30 percent," you should disregard this statistic and be suspicious of him altogether.

7) Stabbed Hollows - In the study of graphology (or handwriting analysis) hollow letters represent honesty. Anything that disrupts a hollow letter could indicate deception. Let's pretend you enter your office to find a note from your top salesman on your desk. His note indicates that he had to go out of town to visit his sick mother and won't be able to go to the annual trade show. You notice that every "o" in his note has some sort of mark interjected into the hollow space of each letter. You would be right to be suspicious of the facts in the note.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Business Travel 101: Save Time and Money

I recently became aware of two web sites that can save you tons of time (and money) when planning for business travel. And no, I'm not talking about or or Such sites are helpful, but very limited. They only tell you the rate that THEY can offer you.

If you really want to find the best deal fast, use or These sites are extremely powerful travel search engines that will crawl EVERY airline and travel agency's web site (including Orbitz, Expedia, and Priceline) for the cheapest deal in about 15 seconds.

Using these two mega-sites to book airline tickets, hotels, and rental cars will save you time because you get to look at everything all at once. You don't have to visit several web sites to get quotes.

You don't have to wonder if Expedia has a better deal than Priceline, or if JetBlue has a better deal than American Airlines. You will know because its all there in one place.

Plus, its 100% free to use. Give it a shot, and be sure to sign up to their free email lists that will alert you about travel deals from your local airport.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Miller Urban Entrepreneur Series

The award-winning Miller Urban Entrepreneurs Series competition was launched to respond to the needs of minority entrepreneurs ages 21 and older seeking to achieve economic empowerment.

One winner will take home a $35,000 business grant to jumpstart his or her small business. Up to six runners-up will each take home a $15,000 business grant or five runners-up will take home a $5,000 business grant, seed money to take their dreams to the next level.

The competition is open to all adults between 21 to 35 years old. Entries are due no later than 5:00 p.m. CST, Friday, November 30, 2007. (Winners will be announced in April 2008.)

This is a great way to reach towards starting and maintaining a successful business and giving you a competitive edge to thrive in today's urban business world.

For more details, visit:

What NOT To Do When Negotiating

Here are some great business negotiating tips from Richard Parker, a professor at Trump University (Donald Trump's online business school).

Parker bought his first business when he was 12, and sold it for a profit when he was 13. He has since spent many years buying and selling many other businesses, and is an expert negotiator.

Here are his 16 negotiating tips:

1) Don't beat an issue to death. If you can't agree, move on and come back to it.

2) Don't quote facts that you can't back up.

3) Don't try to be something you are not.

4) Don't think you have to give in on one point because you won the previous one.

5) Don't hold a grudge. Once a point is agreed to, move on to the next one, and don't bring it up again.

6) Don't fight on every point for the sake of "negotiating".

7) Don't become emotionally attached to a business (or any other deal) simply because you are getting closer to an agreement.

8) Don't get so wrapped up in the moment that you forget what you are there for. Take a step back and see what is happening.

9) Don't be insulting.

10) Don't interrupt.

11) Don't give up.

12) This isn't war; don't treat it as such.

13) Don't argue over pennies.

14) Don't threaten to walk away from the deal unless you are fully prepared to do so and never return.

15) Don't let the amount of time you have spent on the deal influence any of your decisions (even if it is to walk away from the deal after a lot of hard work and time).

16) Don't let lawyers or anyone else control the deal or take hard stances on your behalf. If you hit a wall, get everyone into a room and hammer out a resolution.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Beware of So-Called Traffic Boosters

"Boost Your Traffic Fast." "Get 10,000 visitors for $49." "Triple your traffic in 24 hours." These are some of the ways that these web site traffic boosting services are promoting their services.

Anytime you hear a claim like this, stay away. 99% of these guys are fraudulent, dishonest, and essentially scams! These companies typically prey on new-to-the-game entrepreneurs who are very gullible. They also prey on minority businesses with newly established web sites, knowing that many of them are anxious to get more traffic.

In most cases, they don't send you traffic at all. However sometimes they do send you traffic, but it will be completely untargeted. You may end up having 10,000 visitors who live in China visit your web site (only because they've been tricked). This does not help your business in any way!

If you want to utilize a legit traffic boosting service, my recommendation is to stick with Google Adwords, Yahoo Search Marketing, Microsoft Ad Center, and - I have personally used all of these services.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Stop Dragging Your Feet

Have you been working on your web site for 6 months, and it still hasn't gone live? Have you been writing your business plan for a year, and your business still hasn't launched yet? If this sounds like you, you are dragging your feet.

Building a web site or writing a business plan (like many other steps to starting a business) shouldn't take you longer than 1-2 weeks. If it's taking you longer, you're moving too slow.

You need to hurry up and get these items out of the way, so you can move on to the bigger and better things. The clock is ticking away, and you are losing time that you will never get back.

There is no need to rush when starting a business, as there is no race. However, you do need to have a sense of urgency. In other words, learn to keep it moving!

Building a successful business is already a long process. Don't make it any longer than it has to be.

Imagine going to college to earn a four-year degree, and taking only one class every year (not semester, but year). You just turned a four-year small project into a 12-15 year massive project.

Moral of the Story: Don't drag your feet!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Turn Your Contacts Into Contracts

As the great power networker George Fraser says, "Turn your contacts into contracts."

It's very likely that you have tons of business cards that you have collected from the last 5 (maybe 10) conferences you went to. It's also very likely that you never gave those cards a second look.

Now is the time to dig up those contacts, and start following up with people.

However, don't just call people randomly saying, "Remember me?" Instead, have an agenda. Be proactive, but also be productive. Ask yourself - "What are my immediate and long-term goals?" and "Who amongst these contacts can help me meet those goals?"

You may narrow it down to just 2-3 business cards, but don't be discouraged. These are the few contacts that you're going to focus on. These are the contacts that you will convert into contracts.

The money is on the table - whether it's long-term money or short-term money. All you have to do is take your seat at the table, and say something that makes sense.

Friday, October 19, 2007

50 Companies That Changed The World

I highly recommend that you read this book by Howard Rothman. Its a quick-read publication, designed for busy professionals like you and me.

The book offers a 2-3 page summary of each of the top 50 companies of our time, and describes how they all got their start.

Even more: For each company, the author presents a lively, historical sketch and discusses its strengths and weaknesses in the context of each company's individual operation, historical context, and specific industry.

You will find this really encouraging because it reminds you that everyone starts at the bottom. I think every entrepreneur can relate to this, and the other real-life elements revealed in this book.

Microsoft, Wal-mart, Toyota, McDonald's, and CNN are just a few of the many companies that you will learn about.

Don't hesitate on this one!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Are You Ready To Be "Googled"?

Every single day, millions and millions of people use search engines to find what they are looking for. It is very likely that at some point or another, someone will be searching for information about you.

Being researched or "googled" can be a very good thing or a very bad thing. It all depends on what comes up when your name is typed in. Fortunately, you do have some control over the matter.

Here are some things you can do:

1) Regularly send out press releases. Search engines love press releases and news content. Whenever you send out a PR, it will usually be indexed right away from the distribution company itself and any online news outlet that publishes it. and (one of my services) are great tools for this.

2) Get listed in online directories. Search engines will generally give content from business directories a higher ranking. This is because information from such sources are viewed as "official". Therefore, listing your bio and/or company description on these sites can help to authenticate what's "official" about you. Sites like,, and (another one of my services) are perfect examples.

3) Make sure your web site is search engine friendly. If you "google" your company's name, your company's web site should come up first. If it doesn't, you need to optimize your web site so that search engines are able to crawl through the content. (see my blog about SEO)

4) Be careful about Myspace/BlackPlanet blogs. Remember that if someone "googles" you, everything will come up - everything. So, if you have a Myspace page with pictures of you acting a fool - you may want to delete it or make it a private blog. You don't need a potential client to change their mind about your company, because they stumbled upon your personal blog.

What To Do If A Company Wants To "Partner" With You

At one point or another, every entrepreneur will get contacted by someone wanting to "partner". This means that somehow they want to combine what your company has to offer with what their company has to offer. The common goal is usually to generate more revenue.

Partnering with the right company can be a great idea. My company, Diversity City Media, has had a long 8-year partnership with HBCU Connect. We've complemented each other in many different ways, and the relationship has been mutually beneficial. Our partnership has resulted in more revenue, and less expenses. Ours is just one of many successful partnerships.

However, sometimes a business partnership is not a good idea. Just because someone approaches you about it, doesn't mean you have to accept their offer. Here are some questions to ask yourself before entering a partnership:

1) Is this "partner" bringing an equal amount to the table? In other words, will you be getting as much out of the relationship as they will?

2) Will my company be too dependent on this partnership? You don't want to be in a situation whereas if your partner pulls out, then that means the end of your company.

3) Is their company reputable? If you partner with a company that has a bad rep. People will associate them with you; So your reputation will suffer as well.

4) Does this partnership have long-term benefits? You want to determine whether or not this partnership will help your company 5-10 years from now. If not, it may not be worth your time.

5) How exactly will this partnership help my company? Many times a company will want to partner with you, but you may not see how that partnership will help you. If this is the case, don't give into pressure; Simply turn the offer down.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Need To Hire? Try Craigslist

Here's a great HR tip: If you're looking to fill a new job or internship position, consider using For most people, its a 100% free service. You only have to pay to use the service, if you live in New York or San Francisco.

Their web site looks very simple and plain. However, Craigslist is actually a very popular online marketplace used by millions of people worldwide looking for jobs, cars, housing, and much more.

Posting a job or internship position will almost guarantee you to get some qualified applicants from your local area. Resumes submitted will go straight to your email, and your email address won't be spammed.

While Craiglist is a great tool, I would still recommend that you use it in combination with another recruiting service - such as or These sites definitely have a bigger volume of applicants because of their extraordinary promotional power.

Also, consider using your local newspapers to post jobs. This can be a great way to filter out applicants who don't live in the area.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

The Basics of Affiliate Marketing

Surprisingly, most African American entrepreneurs are not involved with affiliate marketing. Many aren't even aware of what it is.

Affiliate marketing is when you promote an advertiser's services or products on your web site. In exchange, the advertiser pays you a commission every time a lead or sale is generated from your web site. The concept is called CPA (Cost Per Action) Advertising.

Sounds simple, but believe it or not: The affiliate marketing industry generates billions of dollars in annual revenue for people (like me and you) who have web sites. Because everything is on a pay-per-performance basis, it is completely free and easy to get started.

To get involved, you can sign up at an affiliate marketplace like or (my personal favorite).

The key is to find offers that match the content of your web site. For instance, if you have a web site that is focused on health - It would make sense to run offers from Health Insurance providers who will pay you up to $20 per quote that you generate.

If your web site focuses on education, it would make sense to run offers from colleges who will pay you up to $35 every time a student requests more information.

Affiliate marketing is a great way to generate revenue from your web site, especially when you're having trouble convincing advertisers to pay you upfront.

To stay informed about the affiliate marketing industry and the latest developments therein, I highly recommend that you subscribe to Revenue Magazine.

In addition, I recommend that you attend the next Ad Tech conference (held annually in New York, Chicago, Miami, or San Francisco) and the next Affiliate Summit (held annually in Las Vegas and Miami). These events are free to attend, and should help you to better understand why affiliate marketing is so huge.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Make Sure You're Getting The Best Price

When searching to buy a new computer or office furniture, make sure that you're getting the best price. You can check your local Office Depot and Best Buy, but also check popular online retailers such as and is a very popular online destination that sells overstocked brand name items at clearance prices. They can literally save you 40% - 80%. is basically a blog of the latest deals that various retailers are offering. For instance, they will give you all the weekly sales and specials running at stores like Office Depot, Wal-Mart, and more.

Another great site is - an online marketplace of items that have been recently liquidated. This site, though, is for bulk buyers.

It's definitely worth your while to look at these sites before you make a small or large purchase of office furniture. You could easily save yourself a couple hundred dollars.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Why Tyler Perry Will Always Be In Business

In the last 5 years, Tyler Perry has gone from producing local plays to producing internationally-distributed films to now producing a television show and talk show. Everything he has done so far has worked! What is his secret? Does he have good luck?

There are no secrets, and there is no such thing as luck. Put simply: Tyler Perry has a formula, and has stuck to it in everything he does.

Like in science, a particular formula yields a particular result. If there is one drop too much or too little, there will be a different outcome and a completely different product or chemical mixture. It can mean the difference between creating a solid and a liquid.

Formulas in business don’t work much differently from formulas in science. When you find something that yields a particular result, desired or undesired, you either stick with it, or swiftly depart from it. Perry has found a formula that works.

His formula (Comedy + Family Values + Morals = Revenue) has yielded him years and years of success, with millions of fans worldwide.

What is the formula for your company? Or do you even have a formula?

Finding the right formula for your company can yield positive financial results. Know your audience. Know who it is that will be utilizing your product or service, and find out what they want and how. Once you discover that need, you fill it - and keep filling it.

The process of filling the need can be done in various ways. Find out what these ways are, and exploit them in every way possible. Be creative and innovative. Reinvent the wheel if you have to.

The right formula will transform your business into an invaluable product or service that your customers can not do without.

So find what works, and don't ever deviate from what keeps you in business. Tyler Perry knows this well. If he ever changes the format and content of his productions, his success will be over.

Yes, liquid and can easily turn to solid.

Does Your Web Site Have SEO?

SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. This is the process of enhancing your web site so that it "naturally" or "organically" ranks high in search engines.

This is different from pay-per-click services through Yahoo Search Marketing or Google Adwords. We're talking about natural placement in the search engines - something you do not have to pay for.

Is your web site optimized for this? If not, you could be losing a lot of business and wasting more money than you have to in pay-per-click campaigns. Here are some tips:

1) Implement unique META titles and descriptions for all of your pages. Use only the popular keywords that describe your web site best. If you don't know what this means, your webmaster should.

2) Add an HTML sitemap to your site. This is a single page that includes links to the main pages of your websites.

3) Describe all of your images with the use of the alt tag.

4) Develop meaningful and original content on your web site. Search engines place great emphasis on how well-written and resourceful your content is.

5) Minimize your usage of Flash animation. Search engines can not read this, and will penalize overly-animated sites.

6) Hire an SEO firm if you have to. There are tons of them out there, and some are very affordable.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Does Your Company Need Prepaid Legal Insurance?

Maybe, maybe not. There are definitely times when having legal insurance can be a better option for your business, opposed to hiring a law firm. Other times though, having such is a waste of money.

It all depends on what your company's legal needs are. If you only need occasional quick consultations, then legal insurance could be a convenient solution.

However, it does not give you your very own attorney who works with you proactively.

When signing up for legal insurance, ask questions and ask for references. In addition, shop around. There are at least two reputable companies that offer these services: Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. and ARAG Insurance Company.

Don't Just Download Anything

If you want to really mess up your computer, keep downloading software from unreputable companies. In no time, your computer will be infested with harmful viruses, spyware, and adware programs.

To be safe, always download your software from - a free directory containing just about all the available software from reputable companies.

If you can't find it on their web site, my suggestion is to ONLY download from the following companies: Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Adobe, and Apple.

It is also safe to download products (such as drivers and updates) directly from hardware companies including: Sony, Toshiba, Gateway, Compaq, HP, etc.

The point is to be extremely cautious when downloading. If it seems suspicious, then don't do it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Look For Patterns

Try to find patterns or consistencies in your business. For instance, are most of your customers located in the midwest? Do most transactions on your web site happen on Mondays and Thursdays? Do you get more new customers during the summer? Do your customers spend more money when it's raining outside?

Making such determinations will help you understand your customers, and should allow you to serve them better. This, in turn, will increase your revenue.

Here's a true story and a great example: In 2004, Wal-mart noticed that before a hurricane devastates an area where one of their stores is located - they would consistently sell out of Pop-Tarts. So now, when a hurricane is approaching, they rush ship more Pop-Tarts and are able to sell 7 times as many.

The moral of the story: Learn Your Customers' Habits.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Make Your Own TV Commercial

There is a new company called Commercial Creator, Inc. ( that claims to have a one-of-a-kind system that allows you to create your own custom TV commercials. I can't personally vouch for them, but they have created quite a buzz.

Their prices range from just $399 - $699 (which is very reasonable), and customers can choose from thousands of video clips and music tracks to add and write their own voiceovers. In addition, your order comes with a tape for TV broadcast, along with digital movie files and DVDs.

Again, I have not used this company before and am not endorsing them in any way. However I do think that they are legit, and would encourage you to look into it.

On their web site, they claim that they specifically cater to small businesses with low budgets.

Don't Just Hand Out Business Cards

Stop being a business card distributor. You know who you are. You go to all the networking events with a stack of business cards, and you just pass them out like flyers.

Not only are you wasting your time, but you're also wasting your cards. Instead of randomly passing out business cards, talk to people and find out if they are actually interested in your service.

In addition, focus more on getting others' business cards so that you can follow up with them later. Don't depend on people to follow up with you.

The average person will not keep your business card (no matter how nice the design of it is), so it is your responsibility to keep theirs. Doing this will enable you to contact this person via email, phone, and even through direct mail marketing.

I promise you that you will close the deal more often if you implement this strategy.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Become a Government Contractor

According to Entrepreneur Magazine, "the United States government is the world's largest customer. Each year, the federal government and its various agencies procure more than $300 billion of everything from airplanes to zippers."

This means that their are plenty of contracts coming straight from the White House. Oddly enough, very few minority entrepreneurs actualy pursue these opportunities.

$300 billion a year is definitely worth taking a look at. Available government contracts are all listed online at

However, first you must register as a contractor at Then, you have to get certified by the National Minority Supplier Council at

Sounds like a lot of work, and it is. So you better get started!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Reinvent The Wheel

Black Enterprise Business Report recently met with Lisa Price, the founder of Carol's Daughter, for an exclusive interview.

For those of you that don't know, Carol's Daughter is a $10 million skin care/fragrance company endorsed by Mary J. Blige, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett-Smith, and Jay-Z. But before the money and celebrity endorsements, Lisa Price was just a start-up entrepreneur like many of us. In fact, she started the company in her kitchen.

What amazes me about her is that what she's doing is not very revolutionary; She just reinvented the wheel. Keep this in mind when coming up with new ideas for your company!

You do not have to be the next Bill Gates to be successful in business. Just find a better way to do something that someone else is already doing.

Congrats to Lisa Price, and anyone who thinks like her!

(video may not show up in your email)

Beware of the DROA

Be very cautious of a company called Domain Registry of America ( They are domain thieves, and they are out to get your domain name(s). They are especially targeting minority businesses, but other businesses as well.

This company will send you deceptive letters through the postal mail, urging you to renew your domain. The deceptive part is that when you renew your domain through them, they will transfer it away from your current registrar without your permission.

This can cause great confusion when you want to manage your domain, and may result in downtime for your web site. It can even cause you to lose your domain name.

The solution is to only deal with YOUR registrar (GoDaddy, Network Solutions, etc) regarding your domain name. If any other company contacts you about your domain name, ignore them completely.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Blame Yourself

In order to move forward in business, sometimes YOU have to accept the blame. The moment you realize this, your company will flourish. Entrepreneurs who don't admit to their mistakes, will likely make the same mistakes over and over again.

I've seen many musicians blame their record labels for lack of promotion when their CDs don't sell. However, most of the time its their music that just wasn't good enough. So their CD flopped because their music sucked!

I've seen tons of Black entrepreneurs blame their lack of success on "the industry", or "the timing", or "the location". Some people will even blame the targeted consumers who didn't buy into their ideas. "People are stupid for not seeing the benefit of what I'm selling," they say.

When things go wrong in business, you have to realistically assess what happened. If all fingers point at you, then accept the blame and learn from your mistakes.

Every business owner will make bad decisions, and will take a loss. This is a completely normal and necessary learning process. Accept it, absorb the damage, and move on!

The Customer Is Not Always Right

Some may disagree with this, but I just had to make this statement. For some reason, many people like to say "the customer is always right." My rule is this: The customer should be valued, and should be treated with respect. But the customer is not always right.

These days, customers will try to manipulate your company policies so that they can get "special services". This may include unwarranted refunds, exchanges, discounts, or even free stuff. A smart business owner will not put up with this!

Whenever you are dealing with a "problem" customer, handle them respectfully but do not deviate from your policy.

Have a detailed company policy in writing that is easily accessible to the customer. Your strategy of defense is to refer them to that policy. There will be nothing to debate about because you have everything in writing.

Now there are some cases when the customer is right. In these situations, it would be wise to compromise.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

There Is An Easier Way To Earn Those Points

You don't have to be that frequent of a flyer to earn frequent flyer miles. In fact, nowadays you don't have to fly at all to earn frequent flyer miles.

You already know about the credit cards that you can use to earn points, but now they have debit cards that earn points too. I personally recommend using the debit card, over the credit card - because you will use the debit card more often, and will earn more points faster.

Unfortunately, I only know of one check/debit card that allows you to earn airline points on your everyday purchases: It's the Chase Continental Airlines Business Banking Card.

To get the card, you have to bank with Chase and (of course) they have to be in your local area. So, not everyone can benefit right now - but I'm sure other banks will soon jump on the bandwagon.

Anyhow, for every dollar you spend, you earn one mile towards a Delta, Continental or Northwest Airlines flight. So if you use the card for all your business purposes, you should be able to earn at least one free airline ticket every month.

If Chase banks are in your area, I would give it a shot. If not, I would ask your bank if they have a debit card that can earn you some airline points. If they don't, be patient because eventually they will.

Learn To Have "Thick Skin"

Any successful person will tell you that you need "thick skin" (like that of an elephant) to survive in business. Having thick skin means you have the ability to withstand criticism, handle confrontation, and put your foot down when you have to.

This means that as an employer, you have to be able to fire people when necessary, and turn down unwarranted requests for raises. There is no room for emotional attachments or relationships in the workplace. This is exactly why many people don't recommend hiring family members.

Business is very cut throat. Your clients will come down on you in a heartbeat if they aren't happy with your services. Your creditors will come down on you if they aren't paid on time. So you have to come down on your staff when their performance is unsatisfactory.

You don't have to be mean or rude, just tough.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Junk Mail Has A Purpose

You ever wonder why you keep getting the same old junk mail in your postal mail box? That's because advertising through junk mail actually works!

Think about it: Direct mail marketing to millions of people every single day or week can be very expensive. Why would companies continue to do this if it wasn't effective?

The truth is that people (at home or at work) actually look at junk mail, and will respond if they see fit to. So why not launch a small postcard marketing campaign to your potential or existing customers? It only costs $0.26 to mail a postcard, but through bulk rates you can mail them out for as low as $0.19 each.

Why not run a small test to see what happens? That's what I did 5 years ago, and now I'm a postcard marketing addict.

If interested, I recommend using or - both are fast and have reasonable prices.

Monday, October 1, 2007

If It Doesn't Make Sense, Don't Do It

The picture above is a great depiction of a gullible person. What you see is a businessman who has just sold a refrigerator and freezer to an Eskimo. Of course, an Eskimo wouldn't need either one. Somehow though, he was convinced to buy something that he didn't even need.

The moral of the story: If it doesn't make sense, don't do it.

For some strange reason, it is very common for people to make business decisions (or life decisions) that even they agree don't make sense. In many cases, the reason why was: intimidation, pressure, being thoughtloss, and/or just being gullible.

I think people also resort to doing things that don't make sense, when they feel they have no other options. Well, you do have an option: the option to not do it.

Here are some tips to avoid making unwise business decisions:

1) Don't fall for the sales pitch. Don't allow sales people to pressure you into buying something your company doesn't even need. Be abrupt, and hurt their feelings if you have to!

2) Don't be gullible. Stop believing everything people tell you. Question everything - especially business advice. So what if he's a lawyer or an MBA or a Ph.D? Lawyers, doctors and other reputable people give bad advice every single day. Double-check what people are telling you.

3) Be realistic. Does it sound realistic that you can get two million email address for only 100 bucks? Any far-fetched claims like this are likely to be untrue.

4) Stay focused. Don't take your eye off the bottom line. If you're getting ready to make a business decision that is not going to help your bottom line, then it's probably not a good decision.

Have The Courage To Be Courageous

Its good to have a healthy fear of failing in business; This will keep you from making unwise decisions. However, don't allow fear to inhibit your ideas. In other words, don't allow the fear of failing to be the reason why you never gave it a shot.

Here is the dictionary definition of the word 'entrepreneur': a person who takes the risk of organizing and operating a new business venture.

Yes, business is a risk. If you call yourself an entrepreneur, then you are a risk-taker. You can not be an entrepreneur if you do not courageously step outside your boundaries to pursue a business idea.

Successful business men and women are courageous. They understand that business is risky, and are willing to move forward despite this. Potentially losing money doesn't hold them back from pursuing their goals.

You must understand that every business will assume risk of some sort, and will suffer sometimes because of it. This may very well mean losing money. But also understand that risk has led to tons of success stories.

Grasp what I'm saying here, and your success story will be next! Fully understand what it means to wear the "Entrepreneur" shirt.