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// by Jennifer Kushell / Feb. 20, 2009 2 comments
success-tip-4-get-your-priorities-straight

“Get your priorities straight!” is typically a comment or barb that is hurled at you when you’ve done something wrong. But at YSN we’ve come to think of them as a source of clarity that empowers you, makes you happier…and of course, makes you more successful. In fact, we created an entire assessment to help people figure this out, but here’s one of its juiciest secrets. Having a clear sense of YOUR priorities is critical to making the right choices and keeping you on the right path. Think of your priorities as a personal decision-making filter. Any time you have a decision to make that involves allocating your time, money or energy, from where to spend the weekend to how to spend the next few years of your life, run the idea through this priority filter.

Take the next 3 minutes and a pick out your top 5 priorities from the list below:

  • ACHIEVEMENT (sense of accomplishment)
  • ADVANCEMENT (promotions)
  • ADVENTURE (new and challenging experiences)
  • AFFECTION (love, caring)
  • COMPETITIVENESS (winning, taking risks)
  • COOPERATION (working well with others)
  • CREATIVITY (being imaginative, innovative)
  • ECONOMIC SECURITY (financial stability, independence)
  • FAME (being famous, well-known)
  • FREEDOM (autonomy, independence)
  • FRIENDSHIP (close relations with others)
  • INTEGRITY (honesty, standing up for one’s beliefs)
  • INVOLVEMENT (participating, belonging)
  • LOCATION (city/country, near family/friends)
  • LOYALTY (duty, respect, obedience)
  • ORDER (tranquility, stability, conformity)
  • PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT (use of potential)
  • PLEASURE (fun, laughs, leisurely lifestyle)
  • POWER (control, authority, influence over others)
  • PRESTIGE (reputation, image, status)
  • RECOGNITION (acknowledgement of worth)
  • RESPONSIBILITY (accountable for results)
  • SELF-RESPECT (personal pride, identity)
  • VARIETY (diversity of projects, newness)
  • WEALTH (making money, getting rich)

Those top 5 are your own PRIORITY FILTER. Keep the list in your wallet, on your wall, in your desk--wherever you can see it often and refer to it quickly. But first, take it for a spin. Test it out on your current job or career path. It should tell you a lot! Jennifer Kushell is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime. As President & Co-founder of YSN, Jennifer has dedicated her life to helping young professionals and entrepreneurs in over 130 countries find success through powerful tools like the YSN Assessment. Jennifer Kushell, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Jennifer Kushell
// by Julie Brander / Feb. 19, 2009 7 comments
ife-balance-how-avoid-business-owner-burnout
Despite these concerns, you can schedule a revitalizing getaway with some careful planning. For example, empower those in charge with your major concerns and allow them to make decisions. In addition, offer a list of professionals that can be contacted for advice, if necessary. Learning to delegate responsibilities is vital if you want the business to run efficiently when owners are away. Another option may be to close for a few days and allow everyone time off. A few days or a week during a slow time may be the solution to an entrepreneur that does not feel their employees are capable of running the business effectively in case a critical decision needs to be made.

Other ways to avoid business owner burnout is to never be alone in decisions, always ask for help from other professionals including SCORE Counselors with the expertise that you need. You can also talk to competitors in other parts of the country or within the trade association that you are a member of to come up with new ideas and ways to deal with business issues. Always make sure that your family supports your hard work and understands the time it takes to run a business. The harder you work the luckier you get. Balancing life and work is essential for your mental health and wellness.

For more small business management ideas, contact SCORE "Counselors to America's Small Business." SCORE is a nonprofit organization of more than 10,500 volunteer business counselors who provide free, confidential business counseling and training workshops to small business owners. New Haven SCORE is located at Gateway Community College Call 203-865-7645 for an appointment or online at www.newhavenscore.org.

Julie Brander
Business Mentor
SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business.
// by SCORE Association / Feb. 18, 2009 0 comments
finance-know-how-makes-difference

Tips for Building Financial Bench Strength​

1. Get a CPA. Even if you only meet twice a year, once for tax planning and once to do your taxes--you gain knowledge, get good advice and your taxes are prepared properly. That is a whole lot of value for a reasonable investment. 

2. Put in place a standardized financial record-keeping system. At its most basic level, really know what's flowing in and out of the business. Pay your bills on time easily. And, track collections and collect payments. Quickbooks is a popular accounting software and the one used by many accountants, so you may want to pick a system your accountant uses. It makes it easier to transfer data & get your chart of accounts set up. 

3. Learn more about finance. Get a basic understanding of key financial decisions for your business. Learn what different accounting reports tell you and why it matters. Most of all get a handle on the relationship between sales, expenses, cash flow and net profit. This is where SCORE can really help. SCORE mentors both the corporate execs. and entrepreneurs have a good understanding of cash flow, business finances and how to plan systems to make it easier to succeed. 

For articles, templates, tips cash flow/cash reserve visit Accelerate Your Cash. You can meet with a SCORE mentor in your community face-to-face to have the conversation that helps provide know-how in business finance. Find SCORE near you. Online you can Ask SCORE questions about finance and cash flow that can help answer a burning question and give you some perspective that can aid you in managing cash flow. Christine Banning, SCORE View more posts by Christine.

SCORE Association

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals through education and mentorship. Because our work is supported by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and thanks to our network of 11,000+ volunteers, we are able to deliver our mentoring at no charge and our workshops at no or low cost.
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// by Jennifer Kushell / Feb. 13, 2009 2 comments
success-tip-3-brand-yourself-don’t-embarrass-yourself

How many times have you found yourself walking through a store, scanning hundreds of items a minute, disregarding most of them, but occasionally stopping to touch something or pick it up to get a closer look? Now picture that same store - whether a supermarket, department store, warehouse or club store - and replace the sea of products with people. You heard me. Imagine every box, can, pair of pants, video, book, and bag of candy replaced with a person just like you. Visualize thousands of them, maybe more, maybe a million in any given store. Now, do that visual walk through again. Would you notice you? Let's be honest, most of us look a heck of a lot alike.

While we're all certainly different and special in our own ways, at first glance we blend into a sea of countless others. Whether you’re looking to launch a new business, build your reputation, earn a promotion, attract a great new client, or to be considered for a special opportunity, standing out - in a positive way - is essential. But what do most people see if they come in to take a closer look? How often are you putting your best foot forward in person, or online? Now that the economy has taken a downturn and great opportunities are getting harder and harder to find, this is the perfect time to build (or refine) your professional brand. Odds are, when someone goes to look for you online or learn more about you, they come up with little or nothing you would want them to see. If you fall into either of these categories, it’s time to do something about your online persona, or lackthereof, and build a professional identity.

At YSN, we happen to call it a PROJO – your professional mojo. After helping thousands of people around the world build theirs, I can assure you that building a professional profile that you can truly be proud of will not only build your confidence, but your business too! Do yourself a favor and also conduct a personal and professional brand audit of yourself . Analyze everything that the outside world could find out about you with a simple online search. Objectively consider the kind of impression you’re portraying, then clean it up. Start being more intentional, purposeful, and proactive about the kind of image you’re projecting online. Don't assume others are going to take the time to "get to know you". It's your responsibility to grab and hold their attention. Because just like being one in a sea of products on shelves, you too have a matter of seconds to impress upon others that you’re worth a closer look.

Jennifer Kushell is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime. As President & Co-founder of YSN, Jennifer has dedicated her life to helping young professionals and entrepreneurs in over 130 countries find success through powerful tools like the YSN Assessment. Jennifer Kushell, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Jennifer Kushell
// by Peggy Duncan / Feb. 10, 2009 1 comments
sales-youve-sent-proposal-now-what-pt2

End the Dilemma of the Dangling Proposal

Continued from last week's post.

The real solution lies in what happens BEFORE you ever submit the proposal.

The real solution lies in you controlling if, when, and how you submit a proposal.

The real solution lies in you asking all the right questions BEFORE you agree to submit a proposal.

What are the right questions to ask?

Here are 10 essential (although not necessarily easy) questions to ask that will certainly illuminate the seriousness, the readiness, and intent behind your prospect's interest in working with you. Will asking all of them eliminate the dangling proposal? Unlikely; but you will most certainly decrease your danglers by a hefty percentage.

You can control your business instead of allowing prospects to leave you feeling like you are a hamster on a wheel, running after that piece of fruit you can never quite reach.

10 Essential Questions To Ask Before You Start Writing That Proposal

  1. What is prompting you to request a proposal at this time?
  2. What elements do you expect and need to see in the proposal in order to make the right decision for your company?
  3. What don't you want to see in the proposal?
  4. If all of the elements in our proposal meet your needs, will you be ready to sign off on it immediately? What is your urgency level?
  5. Are there any obstacles to our working together that we should know about before we prepare our proposal?
  6. If all obstacles are addressed, will you be ready to move forward with us at this time? What other decisions would you need to make first?
  7. To whom should we submit the proposal? Who should be copied on the proposal? Who will need to sign off on the proposal? Is there anyone else who will need to approve this? (This is a key question. You need to drill as deeply as possible here because very often the requester of the proposal is not the decision maker, and doesn't want to be transparent about this)
  8. Are you requesting proposals from any other candidates at this time? (I know - you don't want to ask this question, but it is a frequent source of the dangling proposal dilemma)
  9. How will you make your final decision?
  10. Are there any remaining concerns on your mind that we should know about? (If you were in the prospect's shoes, wouldn't you appreciate a professional asking you about addressing your concerns?)

Listen carefully to the answers to these questions and don't attempt to convince or sell the prospect. Then, if they really appear to be ready, proceed with proposal development.

If you get a sense there is hesitation or uncertainty or lack of true commitment to working together, you may need another meeting to deepen the trust and the relationship.

You have the power to decide if and when you want to invest in developing a proposal and go to the next level with your prospect.

--------------------------------------

This expertise is offered by Nancy Fox is President of Fox Coaching Associates, a coaching and training firm specializing in assisting lawyers, accountants, and business owners nationwide"make rain without the pain(tm)." She has worked with hundreds of legal and other professionals in leveraging contacts, building successful relationships in business, and making lots of rain. Nancy publishes a FREE acclaimed bi-monthly e-zine, The Rainmaker Review, filled with tips and rainmaking information and takes subscriptions at http://www.bizdevsuccess.com

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nancy_Fox

--------------------------------------

Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta
View more posts by Peggy

Peggy Duncan
// by Jennifer Kushell / Feb. 6, 2009 1 comments
https://www.score.org/blog/2009/jennifer-kushell/success-tip-2-what-happens-when
NOTHING TURNS UP If I Google someone and nothing comes up, my first thought is “haven’t they done anything notable in their lives?” At very least, I expect to see some type of an online profile (business or social) that says they’re engaged in the outside world. If they’ve reached a certain level of success, I assume I’ll find a bio, a Web site, or something that acknowledges their career, or journey so far. Finding nothing doesn’t really say nothing. In some instances, it actually says a lot.

STRICTLY SOCIAL or SCARY STUFF I don’t think we need to go into too much detail here, but anything that could possibly be construed as inappropriate, rude, mean, indecent, incriminating, or in poor taste can become a big problem for you. It’s not just your friends who can see this stuff (unless your profiles are set on private, but even that is no guarantee). People lose important opportunities and potential relationships every day because of what others find when they “search” them. If you’re not sure how others may interpret something about you, share it with some close friends to get their impressions. When you find something inappropriate, pull it down, and ask your friends to remove it from their profile as well. Write to companies that post information on you that’s too personal or erroneous. Clear the record. Make a real effort to clean up your online image. What you want people to find online is information about your PROFESSIONAL IDENTITY. Who are you and what have you accomplished? What are your aspirations? What do you really want employees, your employer, colleagues, educators, mentors, big contacts, and even your family to know about you? Jennifer Kushell is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime. As President & Co-founder of YSN, Jennifer has dedicated her life to helping young professionals and entrepreneurs in over 130 countries find success through powerful tools like the YSN Assessment. Jennifer Kushell, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Jennifer Kushell
// by Julie Brander / Feb. 5, 2009 0 comments
marketing-networking-tips

Here are nine networking tips to help you build relationships and your business.

1. First Meeting: Introducing Yourself and your Business “Elevator” speech which includes name, name of the business, type of business and unique features that benefit the customer/client.

2. Successful Networking The most commonly asked question is: “What do you do?” The answer has to be concise and compelling. Have a 20-45 second explanation prepared. Be enthusiastic and make sure to match your remarks to the audience, group or market you serve. You should inspire interest and actively ‘recruit’ a new customer or client.

3. Build Relationships Identify those who can refer business to you and treat them well: Invite them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, invitations to events and social occaisions; theater, sports tickets, etc. Remember birthdays and anniversaries, give gifts.

4. Using and Exchanging Business Card What do you do with those cards? • Always carry at least 10 business cards • Make notes on those you receive about the person you met, their company, the products that they sell, family names, etc. • Make an appointment to meet if you want to get to know them better. • Send a note after the meeting to follow up, or make the follow up call!

5. Identify Potential Clients Identify other customers you can do business with. Look for other markets that you can serve. Always think beyond the obvious. 

6.Loyal Customers and Repeat Business are Essential How do you ‘keep them coming back’? Your customers need to trust you! You are partners with them and help them and you are always helping them. Develop and build loyalty with your customers! Maintain your relationships and continue to build trust over time. “Always Exceed Customer’s Expectations!”

7. Business Success In our competitive economy, with business getting tougher and tougher You have to be the best! High-performing, positive and creative employees are essential. You and your people must take the initiative and always think of ways to successfully grow and expand your business.

8. Your Business Image The quality, content and ‘personality’ of your message in the media you create strongly affects how your customers perceive you and your business. That includes business cards, brochures, the look of your office, your overall appearance and the way you present yourself in verbal and non-verbal communications.

9. Finally: Networking and Building the Business Know, always: meeting ONE person can often lead to meeting others who will be contacts, resources, clients/customers and friends. This kind of perpetual and persistent networking helps you build the bases for a successful business and a strong network which will be built up over time. Good Luck! And, share what networking strategies work best for you.

Julie Brander
Business Mentor
SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business.
// by Peggy Duncan / Feb. 3, 2009 0 comments
sales-youve-sent-proposal-now-what-pt1

End the Dilemma of the Dangling Proposal

We've all experienced it: the elation of having the prospective client request a proposal as quickly as possible only to have it languish in the land of unreturned follow-up phone calls. What is really going on with these prospects anyway? How do we as professionals avoid the dilemma of the dangling proposal, and increase our proposal approval ratios? To get to the solution we have to look behind the curtain, and see what the driving forces are around the requests for proposal. For the purposes of this piece, we will focus primarily on one company's specific request for a proposal from your firm or company vs. the cattle-call RFP (I'd recommend staying away from those as much as possible anyway).

What is prompting the prospect to request a proposal in the first place? The usual assumption is they are moving one step closer to doing business with you and will buy once they see your offer, both in terms of service content and fees. The first error here is that this is only an assumption. It takes zero effort for a company to request a proposal of anyone. Companies know that in almost 100% of the cases, if they request a proposal, they will receive one. What is their liability in this request? Zero. They have everything to gain (information) and nothing to lose. We, on the other hand, have a moderate potential gain (50-50) and a lot to lose. According to the professionals I've surveyed, the minimum amount of time invested in a decently crafted proposal is 2-3 hours. Multiply that by the hourly rate of the professional composing this document and you can see how costly this document really is. But that is a minimum investment. In many cases, developing a well-honed proposal is an important marketing tool that requires careful consideration and maybe several people's participation. The cost multiplies quickly. All of this investment could be well worth it - if the prospective client is ready, willing, and able to engage or buy now and your offer will be a profitable engagement for you. But what if the prospect is just kicking tires, information gathering, using your proposal to improve his fees with his current professional or vendor? What if the prospective client thinks he's ready, but can't pull the trigger because change is too uncomfortable? What if you've drafted a proposal and didn't realize you didn't address the prospect's REAL desires? All of this could lead to the dreaded dangling proposal. What to do?

Check back next week to read the second part in this series. -------------------------------------- This expertise is offered by Nancy Fox is President of Fox Coaching Associates, a coaching and training firm specializing in assisting lawyers, accountants, and business owners nationwide"make rain without the pain(tm)." She has worked with hundreds of legal and other professionals in leveraging contacts, building successful relationships in business, and making lots of rain. Nancy publishes a FREE acclaimed bi-monthly e-zine, The Rainmaker Review, filled with tips and rainmaking information and takes subscriptions at http://www.bizdevsuccess.com Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Nancy_Fox -------------------------------------- Peggy Duncan, SCORE Atlanta View more posts by Peggy

Peggy Duncan
// by Jennifer Kushell / Jan. 30, 2009 1 comments
success-tip-1-your-industry-your-playground

Early in my career, after I'd helped my first few hundred people discover new career paths, businesses and organizations to launch into, I found myself wondering why different industries fascinated me so much. It didn't matter whether the topic was entertainment, finance, apparel, aerospace, publishing, technology, food service, fitness or stranger stuff like neutraceuticals, biofuels or nanotechnology! Every industry was a totally different world with different experts, jobs, media, events, publications, education centers, trends, definitions of success, terminology and even dress codes! And every single one is packed with opportunities as limitless as your imagination. As if all that wasn't intriguing enough, there are endless ways you can find or invent opportunities in any combination of industries. For example, take animals. With a traditional eye, you'd probably think your career options might include pet stores, veterinary medicine, breeding and boarding. But cross a love of animals with the many other ways you can serve them and their owners and you get: clothing for pets (apparel); gourmet pet bakeries (food service); organic health supplements (neutraceuticals); magazines and books (publishing), animal tracking devices (technology) and so on.

With a little creativity you can have a field day coming up with ways to play in this world. One day, my good friend Bob Cohen from the Harvard Office of Career Services explained to me the difference between "function" and "industry". Simply put, function is what you do, industry is where you do it. Your industry, he explained, is your playground. It's the world where you can have the most fun doing what you do best. I realized right then that one of the biggest things holding people back from loving what they do is not knowing what industries they should (or should I say want to) be in. And the simplest way to figure this out, if it isn’t already obvious, is to think about what you love to do. . If you love playing video games, consider working in the video game industry. If you love music, there’s a whole other industry to play in. What you do in that industry is again a question of function. You can be a writer in any industry, right? You can be doctor in many industries. An accountant. A teacher. A marketer. A salesperson.

The world really is like one big candy store of options and opportunities! You just need to find your industry…then dive in. Once you’ve identified your playground then it’s just a matter of getting yourself into the middle of all the action. Join the trade associations, subscribe to the blogs and newsletters, buy the top magazines, attend the conferences and events, follow the hottest experts and stay on top of the trends. For more information on how to Master Your Universe, check out the 10 min podcast from my NY Times Bestseller, Secrets of the Young & Successful. Think of your industry as your playground and this powerful secret will cause a paradigm shift that can instantly turn your career exploration into an adventure. Jennifer Kushell is the author of the New York Times Bestseller Secrets of the Young & Successful: How to Get Everything You Want Without Waiting a Lifetime. As President & Co-founder of YSN, Jennifer has dedicated her life to helping young professionals and entrepreneurs in over 130 countries find success through powerful tools like the YSN Assessment. Jennifer Kushell, Guest Blogger View more posts by SCORE’s Guest Bloggers

Jennifer Kushell
// by Julie Brander / Jan. 29, 2009 2 comments
7-helpful-tips-for-understanding-your-market

Do you know who your customers are and what they need and want? Do you notice trends in what people are buying, or how and where they are buying those goods?

Determining the marketability of your business is done when writing a marketing plan. This valuable exercise helps you to explain the products and services that you are selling, who your customers are, what the overall market looks like, who the competition is, and your strengths and weaknesses. You will also include how you are planning to promote your products and services in your marketing plan. This requires research. Here are some ideas that will help you identify who your target market is and why they will buy from you and not your competition.

1. Consider whether your business offers a new solution to an old problem or complements an emerging trend. Always think of ways to increase your business by knowing what your customer needs and wants.

2. Understand who your customers are and why they will buy from you. Identify all of your potential customer and make sure your company is visible to them.

3. Understand the benefits that your product or service offers. How much money will a customer save by buying from your company? What do you offer that is different from the competition? Knowing the benefits will help you generate ideas for all promotions. If gives your customers a reason to buy from your company.

4. Understand the industry and determine if there is a growing demand for your products or services. Are their economic factors that may impact your market? All publicly held companies have annual reports that are public information that can be found on their corporate website. You will find out what the annual sales are in that particular Industry. You can also find information online from the trade associations and government agencies.

5. Consider how realistic is your pricing. Customers want the best value for the price. How can you position your products or services to potential customers so that it appears to be a good value, while still allowing a healthy profit margin? You need to know your competition.

6. Contact your competition and know what their strengths and weaknesses are. Know where they are located, how long they have been in business and what they are charging for their products or services. You may find that this exercise is unethical asking the competition for information but understand the sooner you know the answers to these questions, the faster you can create your position in the marketplace.

7. How are you going to promote your business? Products and Service? The quickest and easiest way is with face to face promotions, networking, handing out business cards and word of mouth. Referrals from happy customers can be your most profitable business. If you pay for promotions always track the results to make sure that you covered your costs. This information is essential in understanding your market niche and will be included in your marketing plan. For more information www.knowthis.com.

Julie Brander
Business Mentor
SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business.