Weathering Business

Now that L.A. has finally dipped out of that ridiculous heatwave we were in for the past two weeks — in spring, no less! — it’s time to get back to business.  And speaking of business, how many small companies out there were able to sway customers from leaving their air-conditioned cars, homes and offices into their place of business?  What were some tactics business owners employed to negate the heat and still turn a profit?  Mind you, this is Los Angeles, and the weather forecast has much to do with the business forecasts as all the other elements — natural or otherwise…

One local business in LA lures customers in with the promise of cooler temps

One local business in LA lures customers in with the promise of cooler temps

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The Seahawks Won!

…and frankly I don’t care.  That’s not to say that I wanted the Denver Broncos to win.  It’s just that I’m not a football in the least and definitely not someone who clings every year waiting for the next Super Bowl.  There’s something about freely giving up my precious time to hours of inactivity — especially watching television — that produces no return that boggles my mind.  It’s borderline absurd to know that millions of people do this everyday.  Well, not watching the Super Bowl because that’s an annul event, but throwing time and money away.  The winning team gets the rings and the fans get to fight traffic or clean up the house.  Sorry, but that’s not the kind of return I’m looking for on my time.

Listen, I watch TV too, I understand the need to unwind and let your mind not be “on” for awhile.  I also understand that time is my greatest asset and money is not too far down the list.  And I’m not special when it comes to that fact.  Time and money is valuable to everyone.  So, how is it people are willing to spend thousands of dollars (if they’re out of state, think of the travel, board and food as well as the tickets) to see a game in which no matter what team is the victor, they gain nothing –expect for being there. I’m not trying to be condescending here, I really want to explore what makes people give up — willingly, mind you — two very important aspects of their livelihood for nothing in hand.

Seahawks

I’m gonna simplify this in a manner that any football fan will hate my guts for — oh, well.  Deal.  What is the Super Bowl?  What makes the event so exciting that there’s buzz before, during and after it’s airing?  People will be talking about the game for weeks.  But why? Because of another wardrobe malfunction or Illuminanti suspicion? No.  Honestly, I think it’s because everyone wants to be a winner, even vicariously.  How many times have we heard “my team won” or “my team lost”?  Nobody I know owns a sports team unless they happen to know Mark Cuban, in which case, some elbows need to be rubbing right about now.  But attaching ourselves to a team or an organization gives a sense a victory when they win.  We see ourselves as winners too.

So how does the business owner rally fans like a Super Bowl team?  Do we have to create a buzz  or find well-known brand ambassadors?  Or do we simply just share our victories with our supporters?  Every time we win, our clients win, our customers wins.  Our employees should win too.  Success is shared.  Kicking butt is always fun, but so is winning.  And that’s what people gravitate towards — being a part of a winning team, winning by association.

But even the teams that don’t make it to the Super Bowl have fans.  Because they’re favorite — over another team, over another state — what have you.  Their fans believe they possess something no other team has and it’s more than the potential to win.

Be a favorite, rally fans and share your victories.  It seems easier in writing, but so does going to the Super Bowl, right?

Write Outside The Lines

There is no trick or secret to blogging for your business.  There’s no formula or magic keywords or tags that will make your business blog be the most searched source on the internet. But it isn’t hard to blog either if you got something to offer and something to share.  Normally, I would say practice till you get it right, but sometimes it’s best to hire a freelancer or someone with much more experience.  And if you’re not a strong writer, don’t know your voice yet, or don’t have the time — someone else can do it for you in the meantime, right?  But if you wanna take a crack at it, review all the rules you’ve heard before: blog at least once a week, blog consistently and spread the word around through your other social media platforms.  Sounds easy enough.  But don’t forget the add-ons — the extras that make a blog a bit better: include video, photos and links whenever you can and appropriately, share more information that can help your customer or client rather than yakking it up about how great your company is and include links to your website.

But just like the tech companies, out there, there are some rules you should break —

  • Blog inconsistently consistently — What does that mean?  I try to blog every week, up to 3 times a week.  But I don’t have select days of the week when I blog.  I blog when I have an idea, or the time to devote to an entry.  Being flexible without a set schedule also allows me to add information as I get it — event dates, the latest news or what have you.  Decide how many times a week you’d like to blog and then go from there.  Your time should dictate when you have an opportunity to blog and share, not the calendar.
  • Play with the titles.  You’ll hear copywriters discuss the importance of a good headline or tag… I say, have fun with it.  Personally, I love innuendos for titles.  There’s something about misdirecting the topic that I enjoy all too much.  A (sexual) innuendo is more likely to stop people long enough to skim the article you wrote than a straight forward boring title.
  • Trade shoes when you write.  Think of the person who you are writing this blog for.  Think about what they would to get out of it, think  from their point of view.  Then give it to them.  Be that irate customer who doesn’t understand why the store won’t take back his purchase after 31 days even though his receipt says no returns, refunds or exchanges after 30 days.  Give him solution or a loophole to working with businesses and people like yourself.
  • Vent.  Here is that opportunity to tell the world about the awful no-paying-on-time client that won’t stop calling you whenever they feel like it. Here is the chance to spill how you (and most likely every other business owner) feels about that annoying client.  You can say it all, get it off your chest, be brutally honest without ever saying their name.  Think of it as a form of therapy.  Whoo-sah!

Blogging is the content marketing your business is going to need to keep it’s edge in 2014.  Anybody with a laptop and internet can blog, which means anyone with a business too, should be blogging.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t write outside the lines when you do.

 

 

 

Basket Vendors

Street Side Business 3What you see here are a few women on a side street corner and some bags on the ground.   You would assume there’s nothing of mere importance happening.  Just a few Angelinos going about their day.  Maybe they’re carrying on conversation, maybe they ran into each other and it’s been a while.  Or maybe this was their meet up spot.  But no.  These women may or may not know each — they do seem awfully friendly to be complete strangers, but it’s 8:10 in the morning.  And they haven’t finished going shopping or were merely catching up.  They’ve purposely stopped on this particular corner for a reason.  And no — these are not women of the night who are putting in overtime.  But business is still taking place….

 

 

You’ve seen this around town before.  I know you have.  And I’m sure these “pop-up vendors”, if you will, aren’t only in L.A.  People with their baskets selling hot food and cold drinks to the masses. You may not think 3 or 4 people would be considered the masses, but this is just a snapshot of a minute.  One minute in which a customerStreet Side Business is being served.  Not in a restaurant, not in line of a food truck, and not by a delivery person.  But by someone who knew they could sell their product without a middleman or red tape or limitations.  Let’s not look at this as would you or would you not eat from someone selling food out of a basket.   I’ll be the first one to admit I’m a little cautious about taking food from someone who’s also handling money, but that’s just my thing.  Look at this as GUMPTION.  As INITIATIVE.  As in talking your walk.  Someone thought highly enough of their product to take it to the people without waiting for the right time or having everything they’re “suppose to have” in place. Our opportunities aren’t always going to be perfect.  And the resources will not always be there.  So, what are you going to do when you only a few of the puzzle pieces?  Wait for things to line up and hope for the best?  When you have an idea that you can no longer sit on anymore, what are you going to do about it?  Let it waste away like so many other people do with their ideas or are you going to grab you a basket and do something about it?  Yeah, you can go ahead and criticize these people for all being too alike in what they’re doing, saying they don’t have a permit or license for handling food and transacting business.  But do you really think the give a damn?  They’re working on theirs while you’re thinking about yours…

Opportunities are no good without action.  Better grab a basket and get in motion.

Defining Gratitude

Gratitude

It’s what keep’s customers and clients coming back.

It’s what keeps the doors open and the foot traffic moving.

It’s what ships out the inventory and keeps the orders coming in.

It’s what keeps relationships between suppliers, vendors, colleagues and connections going.

It’s not a sign of weakness to be grateful and it doesn’t make you less capable of achieving bigger and better things.

There’s nothing wrong with showing a little humility and gratitude for the things you have…

and the rewards that are coming your way.

Often it’s shown to us inside of a tip jar, a suggestions box, in an email or a thank you note.

It’s not fancy or well endowed.

It’s not flashy or gaudy.

It is GRATITUDE.

For the business given, the business you have and the business to come.

It’s not expected but it’s always welcomed.

To Be Great Is To Expand Your Scope

You wanna be a great writer — read.

You want to be a great actor — explore emotions.

You want to be a great singer — study music.

You want to be a great athlete — train your body. 

You want to be great in business — know your customer.

Expand Your Scope

So often what we think it takes to be great and successful is all about expansion.  A bad writer should never just keep writing.  They should also read; read the works of published and prolific authors and writers.   An actor/ actress should not just keep acting, but tap into as many emotions as possible.  Go to an actor’s studio and take classes.  The same applies for those in business.  We can’t keep opening up the store, setting up shop, and making transactions thinking one day our business will great.  We got to learn as much as we can about our customers, their preferences, their dislikes and their needs.  To be great in business is not coming up with the best invention, product or design, but convincing our targeted market it is the best because it’s what they’ve been looking for.  But we can only tell them it’s what they’ve been looking for if we already know what they want.  We have to know our customer.

But before you start a business at full speed heading no where fast, think about what it’ll take for you and your business to be great and successful.  Doing the same thing over and over again– we’ve already identified — is crazy!  How do you get better when the technique doesn’t change?  To be great, you have to expand the scope of your normal activity.  It can be life altering or it can present enough of a challenge.  It may mean reading, studying, training, taking classes, taking notes or starting over.  But to be great, doesn’t mean repeating useless tasks and detrimental patterns.  It’s means going further, looking farther.

 

{photo credit: seaskylab via freedigitalphotos.net}