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Mantras for Happiness, Confidence, and Self-Love

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Do you ever struggle with life’s daily challenges? Have you ever felt like you wish you could be happier? Well you truly can be happier and you can become empowered to handle challenges with ease. Mantras are the magic carpet ride that will get you there!

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10 Referral Tips for Bagging Big Business

Need to grow your business?

Is marketing taking too much of your time? Want a powerful way to increase business with low resistance?

Check out my guest article today at Dumb Little Man for some tips on how to get referrals and how to ensure that you never forget to ask for one!

DumbLittleMan.com: 10 Referral Tips for Bagging Big Business

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What are your best tips for getting referral business? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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5

How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business

elevator speech

Crafting a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business

My debut guest article over at DumbLittleMan.com has just been published!

Have you ever wanted to nail down a great elevator pitch? Maybe you just haven’t gotten around to it or maybe you’re not sure where to start. Either way, look no further than this article for straightforward step by step guidance.

Find out what it’s all about and how it can make a big difference for you in your business success:

Dumb Little Man: How to Craft a Killer Elevator Pitch That Will Land You Big Business

Please Share!

What’s your elevator pitch? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

 

If you found this post valuable, perhaps you’ll be kind enough to vote for this article over at DLM with a Stumble, Digg, or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!

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7

How to Be a Great Salesperson


How to Be a Great Salesperson
This article is for everyone, even for people who are not technically in sales. Why? Because we are all in sales. Anytime you are trying to influence someone’s actions or thoughts, then you are selling. The best selling happens when you are trying to meet someone’s needs. This is when you will be most successful. This guide will outline the top ways to become a superstar sales person.

I’ve condensed my greatest sales learnings from 17 years of sales experience and combined it with the very best tips from the best sales books all into this one article. I’m a big fan of reading books and I reference several of them at the end of this article. At the same time I’m a bigger fan of absorbing some quick basic information and then immediately applying it in real life.

Sales Concepts for Success

1. Be Organized. This is very important. Planning is absolutely crucial to success:

  • Establish your Yearly Goals (free guide) and break them down into quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals so that you know what you need to be working on. Post your Goals in plain view so you see them all the time, especially your daily goals.
  • Be sure to do a Weekly Review of your Sales Funnel. Check to see that your results are matching up with your goals. If they’re not, then it’s time to recalibrate your strategy.
  • Plan your day everyday for maximum productivity and success.
  • Very Smart Practice: On a yearly basis (and quarterly basis too if you can), analyze what activities or clients brought you the most business? What activities were the least effective? Adjust your plan to do more of the high revenue producing activities and spend more time with clients and prospects who bring you the most business. Eliminate the less effective practices. Work smarter, not harder. Reviewing your results and adapting your strategy over time brings the sales process full circle.


2. Planning is Good, But Remember to Be Action Oriented. Makes your calls. Set appointments. Meet with clients. Have lunch with power networkers with whom you can learn and work for mutual success. Inspire prospects to take the next action. Be bold. There is no failure, just learning experiences. Balance your planning time with action time. Your plan doesn’t have to be A+ perfect. You can hone it over time. Plan and then get moving!

3. Uncover Needs. This is your most important task. If you don’t understand your prospect’s needs, you’ll never sell anything except by accident. So much could be written on this one point alone. But here is what you need to know in a nutshell:

  • Start with more open-ended questions where the prospect can talk a lot.
  • Make sure you keep quiet while the prospect is talking!
  • As your meeting is closing down ask more closed-ended questions which will be answered with one word such as yes or no questions. Be creative with uncovering needs.
  • Be direct when you can and be indirect when you sense resistance.
  • Don’t hold back because you think you’re prying. Remember you’re here to help. You can only do this if you understand your prospect’s needs.

4. You’re Here to Help: Meeting Your Clients’ Needs. The reason sales people get a bad rap is because of the ones who try to force feed their clients. That is not selling. That is bullying. Your true role as a sales professional is “Needs Consultant,” helping your clients meet their needs, solve their problems, ease their pain, and bring them joy. Sometimes you need to help clients become aware of what their true needs are. Many people go through life thinking they want X. Sometimes you need to help them turn on the light to illuminate their real needs which may be better served by product/service Y. Always confirm that you understand a need. Then match it with a benefit from your product or service that solves your client’s need.

5. Match needs with benefits. How do you do this? Complete this exercise so that benefits roll off your tongue easily when talking with actual prospects. Here’s what you do:

  • Title a sheet of paper horizontally or use a spread sheet with the columns: “Features” “Benefits” “Needs” “Benefit statement.”
  • Write down all the features of your products/services. Next to each feature, write down the answer to this questions “So What?” The answer to that will be your benefit. (You’ve heard about doing this before, but have you really done it? Don’t rely just on what the company puts out either. Be creative and come up with lots of benefits.) Example: Feature: Web access on your phone. So What?! => Benefit: You can access any information from anywhere.
  • Next take tiny yellow stickies and write down all the different problems, pains, desires, your clients and prospects have.
  • Under each problem write down what the need is. Example: Problem: Getting lost finding addresses when showing clients real estate. Need: Instant direction information.
  • Next take all your clients problems and match them to the appropriate benefit.
  • Write in the needs in the “Needs” column.
  • Last, write out a Benefit Statement for each feature that you can practice. Example: “You’ll never get lost again with the XYZ phone because it allows you to get information anywhere anytime.”

This exercise takes some time but it is one of the most powerful things you can do to prepare yourself for success. The best salespeople I know do preparations similar to this.

6. Tap into Feelings. Many people will start with a rational approach to making a decision, but in the end, how a person feels in their gut will often determine their final choice. Make sure you find out how they feel in addition to their rational needs. And it is important to use the language of feelings and to demonstrate that you understand. Examples: “How does it make you feel that your current advisor never calls you?” or “What was your feeling about that house we just toured?” A handy phrase is “I know how you Feel. I’ve Felt that way too. And what I’ve Found is..(insert helpful advice here)…” I call this the 3F’s.

7. Get a Read on Your Prospect. Here’s where you need to listen to your intuition a bit.

  • It’s helpful to assess the level of desire a client has for meeting their need. Where do they fall on the spectrum from desperate (will buy anything) to confident (their awareness and feeling of need is not high enough to spur action)? Use this analysis to decide how much time to spend with them. Don’t knock your head against a brick wall trying to convert someone who feels no pain. But if you see a need that they don’t, then be sure to follow up with them in the future. Be there when they start to feel the pain of their need. Example: Prospect who is looking at new cars, but is very emotionally tied to his old clunker. You can see that he needs a new car, but he can’t see it as clearly as you yet because of his satisfaction with his current car. Be in touch with him so you can be there when his beloved car bites the dust.
  • The other thing you want to read is your prospect’s personality and style. You will do well to somewhat mirror that style so that he or she will feel comfortable with you. Be too bold with a conservative person and you’ll lose them. Be too “soft-pedal” with a type-A person and they’ll be gone before you can blink. Be yourself, but be aware of how your prospect likes to interact and accommodate them.

8. Know What Your Goal is with Each Sales Interaction. This is important so that you will know when your interaction is finished. In sales you need to be efficient for both your sake and your clients’ sake. This will keep you from wasting time. The best way to do this is to actually write down your goals ahead of the meeting.

Example: I want to:

  • confirm my client’s top 5 “must haves” in a home.
  • get their 10-scale rating on each home I show them today.
  • know their favorite and least favorite thing about each home we see.
  • schedule our next meeting.
  • If there is a home they love, I want to establish next steps to keep the momentum moving forward.
  • ask if I met all their needs for this meeting.

9. Asking for the Sale and Closing. Closing is not just about asking for the sale, but continually moving towards that point. An example is asking for the next appointment and setting mutually agreed upon next steps for both you and the prospect.

Closing, of course, also means asking for the sale. It is amazing how many sales people climb the sales mountain and then fail to take this last crucial step. Don’t be one of them! Ask for the sale! What have you got to lose?

When should you ask for the sale? Once you’ve confirmed that you correctly understand a client’s needs and you’ve explained how the benefits of your product or service meet their needs, then ask for the sale. There are many ways to do this. This is where the art of sales comes in. Read your prospect and ask in the way that will get you a yes. This takes practice. So go ahead and practice, practice! Consult with other top sellers to learn how they speak and then use what will feel natural to you.

If you get a “no,” find out why. Are you dealing with a misunderstanding, an objection, a concern, or perhaps indifference? Explore the root reason for saying no. If the client still has a need and wants to meet it, and if you have a product/service that meets this need, then continue on. If one or more of these elements is found to be missing then it is time to move on to the next prospect. But at least you tried!

10. Follow-up and Service. Follow-up is your continued communication with prospects. Service is your continued relationship with clients.

  • Follow-Up: Unless there is no need to meet or unless the prospect tells you to not contact them anymore, make sure you find a way to follow-up that not only keeps you in contact, but also provides value, whether via phone, email, newsletter, etc.. This is almost like your audition to show how you will provide service once they become a client.
  • Service: Once you’ve made the sale, the relationship is just beginning. Make sure that your client gets the best service. Set reminders for staying in touch. It’s easier to make a new sale to an existing client than a prospect. And with a happy clients, you’ll be more likely to earn a referral.

11. Ask for Referrals. The 80/20 rule applies here. 20% of your clients will provide 80% of your referrals. Find those 20% and cultivate them. There are certain people in this world who really LIKE to help others with referrals. You can ask every satisfied client for a referral, but usually it will only be a handful that actually refer you business. That’s ok. And don’t be afraid to be specific about the types of referrals you are looking for. Treat these clients like gold and watch the referrals stream in. There are many ways to ask for a referral. Here are some ideas:

  • Actually ask for a referral upon completion of a meeting.
  • Offer an incentive for referrals. Put this on your website and all your marketing materials.
  • Send out a survey to clients asking their opinion of your service and would they refer someone, “if so please fill in name or call me. If not, how can service be improved? What would make you want to refer business to us?”
  • Host a seminar for clients (make sure it is valuable and serve food!) and request, encourage, or invite them to bring a friend.
  • Offer an affiliate program.

12. Perseverance. Sales is a numbers game: SW³ = “Some Will. Some Won’t. So What!” You won’t win them all, and that’s ok. We all know the baseball analogy of how even the best batters miss the ball about 70% of the time. So don’t sweat the individual sales loss. Just move on to the next. With that said you do want to analyze your result patterns over time and adjust your strategy when you want different results. The idea here is to stay disciplined especially on bad days, stay focused on meeting needs, and keep evolving your strategy, tactics and skills. Slow and steady wins the race. Stay upbeat and when you’re down get rest and/or seek out positive people to help lift your spirits.

13. Look for Opportunity. Always be analyzing situations. Is there a local event you can leverage? Watch the news. Always ask yourself, “Is there a need for my business in this that could help me reach my goals? Can I fit it into my schedule? Will it be more or less effective than other activities I have planned?” Look for opportunity, analyze it’s potential, and if it is worthwhile then strike while the iron is hot! If you observe yourself shying away from a high potential idea because it’s something you’ve never tried before, challenge yourself to do it! Seek out helpers or partners! Go ahead, amaze yourself!

14. Become a Networking King. They say eating lunch alone is wasted time. Depending on your field, you should set a goal for 1-10 networking lunches per month. You should attend at least three networking functions per quarter. They don’t have to be obvious things. It might be going to a golf tournament. It might be going to an art gallery opening. Go to where your prospects and industry colleagues hang out. Include networking goals in your overall goals. Like any of these elements networking takes time to build so take it slow and build upon your successes. And by all means, have fun with it!

15. People Buy from Positive People. Be enthusiastic in your own way. Be authentic. Take responsibility if things go wrong. Watch how you speak in front of clients. Don’t blame others. Don’t complain. Don’t trash the competition. Life is Good! Life is challening, and that’s what makes it fun! Let your passion show! And, of course, on the inside, believe in yourself. You can do it!

16. Be Driven. Tap into what motivates you and connect to that everyday. Is it helping people? Is it helping your family? Is it a lifestyle you desire? A home, a car? Find ways to to get your energy flowing. The best way to do that is to move your body. Do some jumping jacks, do some stretching up to the sky, do some crazy facial exercises, and then laugh. Now you’re ready to tackle your cold calling block, or your seminar, your meeting, whatever.

17. Be Your Own Toughest Critic. Be brutally honest with yourself. Are you making real progress? In sales, the numbers don’t lie. Of course at first you need to build, but make sure you’re getting some wins. If you’re not, then don’t get sad or mad, just figure out a new way. The best sales people I know are always tweaking their strategy. Don’t let yourself get comfortable. The only thing that should stay the same is that you constantly seek better ways to improve your results.

18. Seek Guidance from Top Dogs in Your Field. This is one of the most important items. Leapfrog your knowledge by learning from those who’ve already made some mistakes. Offer to take them out to lunch. Ask to “ride-along” on their sales meetings so you can observe firsthand their magic. Ask them the secrets to their success. And offer to help them out in some way to repay their guidance.

19. If I Trust You, I Will Buy from You. Honesty, Integrity, Credibility. Build this with your actions. Do what you say you’re going to do. Answer the phone promptly. Return calls ASAP even if to say, “I got your call and I will be free to talk at this specific time.” Write down questions you don’t have the answers to and then get back to them promptly. Saying “I don’t have the answer to that right now” is not a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of honesty. Following up on that question later is a demonstration of reliability. Use these opportunities well.

20. What is Your Unique Selling Proposition? What is your “elevator speech?” This is the 1-2 minute answer to “What do you do? And, why should I do business with you?” Be outrageously creative. Be memorable. Be concise. Continue to work on this over time to get it just right. And have fun with it!

21. Use the Simplest Method Possible for Tracking Your Sales Funnel. You will have Unqualified Prospects, Qualified Prospects, Best Few Prospects, and Closed Sales. Most likely your company will have a system for this. But if they don’t or if you have your own business, find the simplest system that will do what you need. There are two major players ACT! (software based) and Salesforce (online). And now there’s a new online player from 37 Signals called HighRise. It is free for 250 contacts or less. Above that there is a monthly fee. Make sure you’re constantly feeding your sales funnel and that prospects are moving along through to closing. Analyze what is working and what is missing in your approach.

22. Stay on Top of Your Field. People like to buy things that are shiny, new, and sparkly. If your product or service isn’t new, make sure it is “sparkly” in your clients’ eyes. How? Simple. Make sure that you are meeting their most current needs. Your product or service doesn’t need to be new, but it does need to keep up with customers’ ever evolving needs.

23. It’s Not About Price, It’s About Value and Relationship. People want to solve their problems and fulfill their desires and they want to feel good about how they accomplished that. That’s value. Value is also giving extras to your clients with no extra cost and no expectations. There’s value in a relationship too. People like to be comfortable and trust the person they do business with. Show them how your product or service will meet their needs and give them something to brag about with their friends. Bragging Example: “I bought my new car at ‘Medium Priced Cars R Us.’ Anytime my car needs servicing, I get a free loaner car. And this dealership has been ranked 5-Stars by it’s clients consistently for the last 5 years. The sales person was helpful and patient with us insisting that we take our time. And when it came time to negotiate, they were very fair. And since we’ve bought the car, our sales person has called us to see how things were going with the new car.”

24. Please, Don’t Be Afraid. Really! If you feel the fear or hesitancy inside you, break through it! You have nothing to lose! Remember you are here to help. If someone doesn’t want your help, if someone is rude to you, no problem. Just move onto the next prospect. There’s billions of fish in the sea! Don’t be afraid to fail either. Learn from your experiences. Analyze them. How can you do things better next time? Sales is a big puzzle. You don’t fall apart when two puzzle pieces don’t match, right? Neither should you with sales that don’t pan out. Sales is fun! Enjoy the ride!

25. Celebrate Success and Cultivate Balance. (Balance? What’s that?) No really. Take care of your body, spirit, and personal relationships too. This can be difficult for real ‘Type-A’ personalities, which many sales people are. Make this part of your plan. Schedule it in. If this is hard for you, then enlist the help of people you know are good at this. They’ll love it and it will help you.

Getting It All Done


How do you accomplish all these elements? To quote Ghandhi, “Go slow to go fast.” This means focus on a few concepts at a time. Once those are firmly entrenched habits, then move onto the next few. Work on those until they are habits, and so on. And keep this reference handy. Refer back to it often and brush up on the ones you think could give your sales results the boost they need.

Resources:

Recommended Courses:

  • The Quantum CookbookAs a salesperson, just like a pilot, knowing where you want to go is the surest way to get there. Having a plan and taking action every day consistently is key. This course keeps your mind focused on your goals, using the power of intention to ensure you always follow through. And it has a 200% money back guarantee. (Yup, that means they’ll refund you twice your purchase price if you don’t find value in the course! You risk nothing!)

Online:

  • HighRise – Brand New!! Free Contact Management System from 37 Signals. Service plans for over 250 contacts has a monthly fee. The free program includes tasks with categoires and contacts with tags. There’s more and you should definitely check it out!!
  • BackPack – basic account is free. This is a to-do list program with multiple pages (each with multiple lists), calendar, reminders and whiteboards that are a group-type project application. There are so many uses for BackPack it’s pretty much limitless. For a sales person you could have a page for Networking Ideas, Marketing Ideas, Goals page, Funnel Summary page and so on. You’re only limited by your creativity.
  • ACT! – software based (CRM) customer relationship management application for tracking your sales leads and client relationships.

Books:

Please Share!

What are your best sales tips? What are you selling? Leave a link! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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70

Should You Start Your Own Work at Home Business?


Work at Home: The Dream

Ah, the dream of working for yourself out of your own home! What could be better, right? Well it turns out there are major pros and cons to having your own work at home business. This article will provide the elements of working from home that you should consider before making the leap. I have been working from home as a freelance writer and blogger for 3 years now so I have personal insights that you will hopefully find valuable.

Work at Home: The Reality Pros and Cons

1. Work in your PJ’s.
Pro: This is the ultimate, right? Getting up and doing your work in your PJ’s and slippers. Sounds good and sometimes it is good. Being able to do work anytime in any clothing is convenient.

Con: The reality for many people is that your level of productivity is often influenced by how you are dressed. Yes, you can work in your pajamas, but once you’re doing this for a while, you’ll probably find that you get a little more motivation from getting out and exercising first, showering, and putting on clean clothes before starting work.

2. No Boss.
Pro: It’s true that your boss is not in your home looking over shoulder.

Con: However, we all have a “boss,” someone that we answer to:

  • Bloggers have their audience to please.
  • Freelancers and service providers have their clients to please.
  • Product sellers have their customers to please.
  • Writers have their editors, publishers, and readers to please.
  • Inventors have their end-user to please.
  • We all have ourselves, family, and financial needs that we must live up to.

3. Flexible Schedule.
Pro: This is a major benefit. You can decide when you work. You can take time off whenever you wish. Doctor appointments? No problem. Your child is sick? You’re already home to take care of them. But there is a catch.

Con: You need to make up the time somewhere. The work must get done. You can make it up on nights and weekends, but then balancing work and home can become quite challenging. If you have a family you might run into resentment of the extra time you spend doing work. If you’re single, this is less of a problem in terms of people putting demands on you, but you certainly run the risk of work edging out your personal time. So you need to think about how you will define the line between work and home life. And it’s not as easy as you might think.

4. No More Office Politics.
Pro: You won’t have to schmooze for that promotion. You will make your own promotions. You won’t have to watch Suzy-Q and Dapper-Dan get ahead because they are good at working office relationships. But….

Con: You may watch competitors get ahead for the same reasons. You may lose clients, contracts, readers, deals, etc because you are not working smart enough on the relationship building front. The bottom line is politics is not good or bad. It just is. By definition it exists as part of all human interactions. The only question is how you navigate and leverage it. Politics is human relations. It doesn’t mean you have to bend your morals. But it may mean that you need to work with someone you’re not crazy about in order to bring about a mutually beneficial outcome.

5. No Limits on Income.
Pro: No longer will you have to wait some silly prescribed timeframe in order to be eligible for a raise. The quality of your work will determine your income. By working hard and smart, you’ll have unlimited earnings potential. Really.

Con: It’s not easy. You will need to have a smart business plan. You will need to adjust your plan as you progress, especially when you hit roadblocks and plateaus, which will inevitably happen. You will need to be super organized, focused, and persistent. Income is especially hard in the beginning, so what you gain in upside potential you lose in security of income, retirement plans, health insurance and other benefits.

6. No More Interruptions.
Pro: You won’t have to worry about Chatty Cathy stopping by your cubicle every day, interrupting your productivity. You won’t have to worry about endless non-productive meetings anymore.

Con: But you’re not entirely off the hook. There’s still two potential challenges:

  • First, if you have family or roommates, inevitably there will be interruptions. When you’re using some of your flexibility to work nights or weekends, they’ll be there either getting miffed about you working again or they will be tempting you to slack off. If you have children, forget it, especially if they are young. It’s a real challenge. You need to establish boundaries and you will likely find times when you want to keep working, but you must stick with your promises in order to keep a happy family.
  • Second, if you live alone, then you will face the problem of isolation. With isolation you have no “local” colleague with whom to bounce ideas, ask advice, or consult. You will need to develop these types of relationships elsewhere. No man is an island. You will gain strength from having a virtual “team” of people you can go to for guidance. The other problem with isolation is you must provide your own motivation. Whether we like it or not, we all need to be pushed from time to time. Without interruptions or a boss you must create this for yourself. Yes, interruptions can serve as a motivator at times! And they force breaks on us too which is good for productivity. You’ll want to consider how you’ll ensure that you take breaks.

7. I’ll Work Less Hours. It Will Be Easier.
Pro: Perhaps eventually you will work less and it may be easier down the road. Maybe you’ll become like Tim Ferris and design your life so you only work 4 hours per week. Or it may be that you choose to live on a lower income. In that case you might work less sooner rather than later.

Con: For most of us, starting a business means hard work and long hours! Of course those hours are all for your business so that’s a beautiful thing. But it’s also your time and money at stake too. Work is work and it must get done. The other good thing is that if you are choosing the right business, i.e. something you love, then the work will feel like play. That’s a great thing. But at the end of the day, you will be tired, you will struggle at first and wonder “Did I make the right decision?” You’ll need to stick with it, adapt your plan when necessary, and smile even when you feel like you’re not making any progress.

8. More Creative License.
Pro: You will be in charge. You’ll make the decisions in your business. Your creativity can run free and wild. There are, however, conflicting forces at work that you’ll need to content with.

Con: You must please someone in addition to yourself in order to make money. So you will need to balance your income goals, your desire for creative authority, and the desires of your clients, readers, vendors, users, etc. It may be that your creativity is right in line with what your clients want or it may be that you’ll need to sacrifice your creative freedom a bit in order to meet your income goals. The bottom line is that for most, the client’s needs and desires will highly influence how our creativity manifests in our product, writing, services, inventions and so on. It’s a matter of prioritizing your income goals in balance with your desire for maximum creative license.

9. No Selling Things I Don’t Believe In.
Pro: There will be no more product/service of the month that you’ll be required to sell. Sometimes you like the company you work for, but occasionally you squirm at the thought of selling this quarter’s featured product. Ugh. No more of this! Hurray!

Con: No matter what your business is, you will still need to sell. And boy will this be important to your success or failure. Selling is not hard if you believe in what you are selling. Presumably this will be the case with your own business. If not, then maybe you don’t have the best business idea yet. True “selling” means helping people meet their needs. Focus on meeting clients’ needs and you will sell a lot. But of course there is a lot more to it than that. Stay tuned by subscribing for an upcoming article on How to Be a Great Salesperson.

10. No More Nightmare Clients.
Pro: If a client is beligerant, unreasonable, or otherwise unattractive to deal with, you will have the decision power to say, “Bye, bye!”

Con: At the same time, you will never be free of difficult client circumstances. And in each of these circumstances you will be required to decide how to handle them. Some examples:

  • Freelancers: Your biggest client turns difficult with the addition of a new general manager. What do you do?
  • Writers: Your editor seems to have turned sour on your writing, finding fault all the time. How do you handle this?
  • Bloggers: How will you handle mean comments, blog hecklers, and the like? How will you handle a negative campaign against you?
  • Selling products: There can be shipping problems, returns, complaints, lawsuits and more. You’ll need to deal with all of these.
  • Inventors: If you produce your product, you’ll need to manage relationships with manufacturers, distributors, and marketing companies where you will face issues of trust, control, and quality. If you sell your idea, you will likely face tough negotiations if you want to get the most value for your invention.

How to Meet these Challenges

Two words: Business Planning. (Subscribe for an upcoming Business Planning article) The best way to meet these challenges is to have a business plan. It doesn’t have to be formal if you’re not sharing it with financiers, but you’ll do yourself a favor by having as much detail as is necessary to be ready to take the plunge. See the resources below for links to business planning help, most of which is free!

The Bottom Line

This article is not meant to discourage you from pursuing your dream of starting your own work at home business, but rather to prepare you for the realities, both good and bad, so that you can decide whether you’ll be comfortable with this decision. If you do make the decision you’ll be able to plan how you will handle these challenges. Having a home based business can be wonderful, but it’s not for everyone. The other thing to consider is that if things don’t work out you can always go back to working for someone else.

Further Resources

Here are some helpful business planning resources if you decide to move forward with plans to start your own work at home business.

  • SBA – The Small Business Association has many online resources, services, and tools to help you with your new business.
  • SCORE – check out this resource in your local area. They usually have free business planning seminars. Retired business people provide free guidance and consultation to aspiring entrepreneurs. Don’t pass up this free resource!
  • Free Business Plan Templates
  • Fast4Cast – a free online business planning tool.
  • Govt of Canada Interactive Business Planner – a free online tool that will help you create a 3 year business plan.
  • Links to several Business Planning Freeware
  • Business Plan Pro Business Plan Pro (highly rated by PC Magazine and Inc. Magazine.) There is a cost with this program. I have used it and it is excellent. It makes the process very easy. And it is handy to have it right on your own computer.

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Tell us about your business plans! You’ll get a link to your site! All comments big and small are very welcomed!

If you found this post valuable, please SHARE THIS below with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark. Votes are always appreciated!

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199

Groovy New Pocket Mods: GTD and More!

Pocket Mods

Many of you may already be familiar with Pocket Mods. For those who aren’t Pocket Mods are cool little 8 page booklets that you can create with one sheet of paper. You can go to PocketMod.com to create a modular paper calendar and to-do’s to your liking. The Pocket Mod folks have also made it possible to convert any pdf document into a pocket mod. Subscribe here to stay tuned for how to make your own!

Below are 5 Free PocketMods that I created for you to download. They help with Goals, New Habits, and 2 have condensed versions of my top posts for handy reference!


Shrek says “You know you want one! What are ya waiting for? They’re Free!”

5 Pre-Made Pocket Mods: Free Downloads

1) My New Habits
This booklet has one page to list your next 7 new habits you want to adopt this year, plus 7 monthly calendars for tracking the implementation of each habit. Simply put an X in each day of the month that you successfully do your new habit. When one month is done and your new habit is in place, add the next habit and track it in the next month. To read more about implementing one habit at a time read my guest post at ZenHabits.net, The Amazing Power of One.

2) My Life Goals – Simple
One page for listing your life goals, category (personal, work, home, etc) and target date for completion. Then there are 7 Goal Action Steps tracking pages.

3) My Life Goals – Near, Short, and Long Term
Pages for: Mission Statement, This Month Goals, 6-month Goals, 3-5 Year Goals, and 4 Action Steps tracking pages for 4 Goals.

4) Best of Life Learning Today 1
Keep these top posts at hand in your wallet or purse:

  1. Meditation Naps – How To
  2. 10 Steps for Maximum Energy
  3. You Can Do It!
  4. Do It Anyway!

5) Best of Life LearningToday 2
Keep these top posts at hand in your wallet or purse:

Folding Instructions Download
Download this document for instructions on how to fold these pocket mods!


Please Share!


If you found this post valuable, please SHARE THIS with your friends or with a Stumble or Delicious bookmark! Thank you!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or make a purchase at Amazon through one of my links. Thank you!

 

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13

Cool GTD Applications – The Ultimate Resource List


Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done by David Allen details a fantastic system for getting organized, reducing stress and improving your productivity in a world full of To-Do lists that are too long. Another place to find great help daily is over at Zenhabits.net. I like his version: “Zen to Done” for its simplicity. For electronic tools, there are many to choose from. In this post I will provide links to some of the cool online applications available to help you keep track of your Most Important Tasks as well as Contexts, Projects, and more.
Getting Things Done
Paper Tools

Among the tools needed are a good filing system and good system for collecting, processing, and keeping track of your tasks. For many the best GTD system includes both paper and electronic tools. A simple notebook or, if you prefer, a fancy Moleskin is all you need for collection of your thoughts and tasks. For free printable PDF’s for paper calendars, to-do lists and much more check out D.I.Y. Planner, SVG Planner (for index cards), and 43 Folder’s Hipster PDA Wiki. And for the coolest paper based system, take a look at Pocket Mod.

Electronic GTD Applications – Online and Software Downloads

All the applications listed here are free unless otherwise noted. On all of these I give my opinion. If I don’t like one, that doesn’t mean you won’t love it. So explore. They are all good.

Simple To-Do Lists

My To-Do’s – Features – sharing, RSS feeds from friends, chat. Nice looking notebook style. Includes calendar planner, projects, and priority levels for to-dos.

TODOIST – Features: calendar, projects, keyboard shortcuts, gmail integrations, mobile access, quicksilver, iGoogle plugins, more. Wasn’t the one for me, but it is nicely done.

Joe’s Goals – for simple tracking of your gosls and daily notes. Good for your daily and recurring to-do’s.

Ta-Da List by the BackPack folks (BaseCamp ). I like this one because it is very simple, nice format, easy to use.

Mojo Note – Simple design. similar to Ta-Da List except it has more features such as sharing, linking, date/time due. Free up to 99 notes, lists, reminders. For $5/month you get: – 100 Lists– 100 Notes– 100 Active reminders– Email tech support– Ad-free experience. Lists have check boxes, but tasks don’t which seems weird to me. I like Ta-Da List better.

iPrioritize
– Simple minimalist to do lists. Easy to use. RSS, printing, mobile acccess, and sharing make this attractive. It’s a little slow and you have to enter your curser to make each new entry which is a pain. Can’t see all lists on one page like you can with BackPack (see below). For some people this is a feature they like so that they can’t worry about more than one list at a time. Still worth checking out.

Jotlet – todo list and calendar together. Very nice and simple. Can view by list, day, week or month. Reminders available.


Complete GTD Systems

ToodleDo – This one is very cool. Here are some features: To-Do List, Sharing, Calendar, Scheduler, Goals, Statistics, Learning, Search, Contexts, Import/Export, Connections, Booklet Printer. Some are free (i.e. to-do list & more), some are partially free (you can track life goals, but stats with tasks linked to goals is a paid upgrade) and some are only with the upgrade (such as scheduler). You can sync with Google calendar and more. You should check out this one for sure!

Simple GTD – I like this one a lot because it is simple and at the same time it is flexible.

Thinking Rock – I’ve heard great reviews of this one. I’ve watched the demo’s and it looks very comprehensive. If that is what you are looking for, you should take a look.

Nozbe – Free: limited contexts, projects and file storage. Upgrades cost $2.95/month and up. I haven’t used this much. Backpackit is similar and I like it better. If you want something very complete, you might like this. I tend to like simpler applications.

BackPack – This is one I keep coming back to because it didn’t take a lot of time to figure it out. I can have lists with different names (projects). It has lists, notes, reminders, and “Writeboards” (which can be accessed by multiple users). Calendar feature is a paid upgrade feature, which I don’t need. It has sharing. And you can have multiple pages (5 pages for free), each page with multiple lists, notes, writeboards (2 with free account) etc.

Foldera – “Foldera is a free and intuitive filing system of web-based folders that automatically organizes your work WHILE you work.” In Beta, aimed at teams. Has folders, file sharing, IM, task manager, email, calendar and more.

Stikkit – “little yellow notes that think” talk to the productivity applications you already use, as well as to friends, coworkers and family, giving you a universal remote for your life.” Not for me because it was a little too much work.

EverNote
– more than just GTD, it aims to have all your info easily at your fingertips including files, images, webclips (RSS), email, documents, sketches, to-do. You need to download this application. Seems like a computer within your computer and the benefit is that you can sync with other computers to “carry” all your “notes” on everything with you. Neat idea. I personally don’t need it, but it looks very cool.

Tasks – this is by Alex King. It is $29.95. The cool thing about this online application is that it can sync with your PDA to bring it with you. And it has a free 21 day trial to see if you like it.

Tasks Jr – free earlier version of Tasks. Here’s the feature comparison chart to see which one is best for you.

GMail GTD – this is a Firefox extension that turns your Gmail into a GTD application. I haven’t used it but I’ve read that people like it. If you love Gmail, this might be the thing for you.

Tracks – nice complete package, uses colors for organizing projects etc. It was more than I needed.

Free Mind – this is a mind mapping software that is free and opensource. It can be used for many things including as a task management system. I haven’t used it this way, but I’ve seen it done. It is worth having for any creative projects you need to think through.

GTD TiddlyWiki Plus – this one looks very cool, but I haven’t had time to really experiment with it too much. You save it on your own computer – client side application.

D3 – another wiki based system. I think this is for real techies. Correct me if I’m wrong. It looks way cool, but more complicated than I have time for.

TiddlySpot – using this “plain” wiki it is a neat tool for having an online journal that is only on your computer, not on the web. But you use this tool in a browser. Of course the uses for this is truly infinite. (This is the plain version of D3 and others that you can choose.)

Neptune – free for 15 day trial. After that it is $10 per year. I’ve checked it out. It’s nice. Not as fast as others. Simple GTD is just as good. But again, you never, know. You might love it.

TaskToy – I like this one too. Can view by Today, Week, or All. It has preset “locations” which are like contexts (home, office, shopping) which doesn’t seem like you can modify. And it has up to 40 projects to which you can color code and assign priority of Low, Med, or High.

Winners – Ones That I Like Best

The ones I use most are: ToodleDo Ta-Da ListJoe’s GoalsBackPack
The ones I plan to learn more about: TiddlySpotTudumo(see review)

UPDATE: Additional Applications Suggested by Commenters

Jello Dashboard: for use with Outlook
Tudumo– I checked this out. Very nice! Free software download.
IGTD for use with Macs
the upcoming OmniFocus
todo.txt: “For Mac and Linux there is the uber-geeky”
Accomplice
http://shrib.com “no-frills, no-gimmicks scratch paper for the ubiquitous little notes I want to take anywhere and retrieve anywhere else.”
Remember The Milk “offers great list management, smart lists, RSS, and Google Calendar/iCal integration. Plus you can email or IM new tasks.”
iCommit
MyLifeOrganized
Ghost Action “free Mac app, simple, syncs with iCal”
www.vitalist.com
Nexty – “a simple web based GTD tool”
www.paystage.net
Hiveminder
http://www.centraldesktop.com “GTD for business. Tasks lists, online docs and spreadsheets.”
http://kinkless.com/kgtd
pyGTD seems to be a more techie system.
Greendoc. “Which is a online text processing tool.”
MonkeyGTD “because is a really nice application that permit organize my “next action” paradigm very easy and it’s an online and offline application.”
Gubb. “To mantain lists, like: wish list, films to watch, books to read, list of the purchase,etc. I use ”

Lastly, you can search for folks using Excel templates for GTD.

UPDATE: April 2008 – More GTD applications

http://www.fruitfultime.com – Currently free. Looks very nice.

http://www.gtdagenda.com – online application. Very nice look and layout. Has free, basic, and premium versions. This is definitely worth a look!

UPDATE: June 2008 – More GTD applications

http://www.smarttodolist.com/ – Software. Free trial. Looks very user-friendly and clean.

http://www.taskwriter.com/ –  Online application. Free. Very quick signup and easy to use. In beta.

http://www.veetosoft.com/uOrganized.html – Software. Free trial. Looks very complete with folders, sub-folders and/or tags. Much more.


Additional Resources

If you’d like to see more productivity software including ones you can purchase, you can check out this GTD Software List from Listible.
Check out The Ultimate Getting Things Done Index for RSS feed of many top notch GTD websites all on one page.

Goals On Track – very cool online goal software that integrates well with GTD. “an easy to use, web 2.0 style goal setting, goal tracking, task and time management software that helps you accomplish any goals in life.” It is a pay service, but it’s got a 100% money back guarantee. Hey, if it helps you reach your goals, especially financial ones, it will probably pay for itself many times over.


Please Share Your System!

Please share your Getting Things Done System: ideas, testimonials, and experiences. All comments big and small are very welcomed!


If you found this post valuable, please bookmark on Delicious or your favorite social media. Votes are always noticed and always appreciated! Thank you!

If you want to Support Life Learning Today, you can visit one of my sponsors, make a donation, or visit Amazon on the side of this page. Thank you!

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101

10+ Powerful Sales Concepts for Blogging Success

I have written a guest post at Lifehack.org today.

If you are searching for success with your blog, I think you will find real value in this article.

This is a supercharged Mash-Up of “Top Dog” sales habits and how they can be applied for YOUR blogging success!

Please check it out: 

Lifehack.org: 10+ Powerful Sales Concepts for Blogging Success

Sales Concepts for Blogging

Please let me know if you find the ideas helpful for acheiving success with your blog!

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