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Make 55 Percent More Money – Part 1

watch_time

We recently did a couple of posts about project selection – how to choose the projects that are best for you. First, we talked about knowing if you should invest your money in a project. Then we integrated the value of our time into the project selection methods.

Now we want to extend that concept. We hear a lot about the right mix of assets when it comes to investing in our retirement portfolios. But we don’t often think of the activities we perform – how we invest our time – as a mix of assets.

Investing time like a venture capitalist allocates money

We should because the things we do should add value to our lives or we shouldn’t do them. So we want to approach our investment of time like it’s a portfolio … specifically, a venture capitalist’s portfolio.

A venture capitalist invests in a bunch of companies. Then they see how they perform and make decisions. If a company is hitting its marks, they keep funding it. If not, they don’t. They are constantly allocating money to the companies that look like they will generate the greatest return.

We can use this as a model for how we invest our time.

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Who is More Accident Prone – Men or Women?

accident Statistics Canada, Canada’s national statistics agency, released a report on work injuries [PDF] a while back. There were a few things we found interesting. While four percent of all workers experienced some sort of work place injury over the past year, only two percent of the women had. So guys got hurt disproportionately to gals.

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You might hypothesize that perhaps men perform riskier tasks, on average, than women. However, the research showed that men have a higher rate of injury across all job categories.

Can women work harder?

Another point of interest was that, compared to men working less than 35 hours a week, men who work eighty hours a week or more were twice as likely to get injured. Men were forty percent more likely to get hurt if they worked between 45 and 79 hours.

It makes sense, doesn’t it? The more someone works, the more tired they are and the more likely they are to harm themselves somehow. Sounds good, except that it didn’t hold true for women. There was no noticeable difference among women based on the number of hours worked.

Women who worked more than one job experienced more injuries than women who only had one job. There was no difference for men. Finally, we found one in the men’s favor!

Why do we work so much?

Seriously, though, we see that whether we look at hours worked or number of jobs, there is evidence to show that chance of harm increases.

So we wonder: Why do we work so many hours? Why do we need more than one job? In many cases, it’s because of money issues. Might we be better off looking at our budget? Would we better served by adjusting our lifestyles? Then we might not have to work so much and we might not get hurt as much.

More hours. More jobs. Still a lack of money. No extra time. More stress. All of these come into play together.

Speaking of play

Here’s another thing we found very interesting in this report. Only 28% of all “activity-limiting injuries” occurred at work. Now think about that. We spend about half of our waking hours at work, if not more. Yet nearly three-fourths of the accidents that keep us from working happen in our personal lives. What in the world are we doing at home?

The study says that most accidents that occur at work are hand injuries and lower back strain. We don’t know what the accidents are away from work. Are we straining ourselves too much at home?

Maybe instead of a “honey do” list, we should start a “honey don’t” list! 

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Check in next time as we discuss how your estimates of future costs should affect your current decisions. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Directions that Discourage

twisted_directions We saw the results of a fascinating study over at Medical News Today. The researchers tested how the directions about a task affect the perception of the task itself. They started by trying to motivate college students to exercise.

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They gave the students directions on how to implement an exercise program. Half of the students got directions in an easy-to-read Arial font. The other half received the same directions in a Brush font (think paint brush), which is difficult to read.

Then the researchers asked these students:

  • to estimate how long the exercise routine would take
  • how easy it would be
  • if they would make it part of their regular routine

The “Arial” group thought that it would take less time and be easier than the “Brush” group, who also was less likely to make it a part of their daily ritual.

It’s amazing how something as simple as the font we choose could make so much difference. Just to be sure their results weren’t skewed by the students’ preconceived notions about exercise, the researchers performed a similar experiment with a recipe for sushi.

The outcome was similar. They concluded that if instructions are easier to read, people respond positively.

Enough about fonts, let’s put all the pieces together

We need to think about the directions we give to make sure they’re not discouraging our people. We don’t want to make a simple task sound complicated by our directions. Since people equate the ease of a given task to the ease of the directions about that task, we need to think about our:

  • Message
    Be sure you’re clear in what you’re saying. Also be concise. Eliminate the fluff. Focus on writing high-impact copy.
  • Design
    Obviously, the font you use plays a role. So does      white  space     . Graphical elements are always good. You should also use headers and bullet points when possible to make your directions easier to digest.
  • Words
    Sixteen-syllable words don’t impress many people; they have the opposite affect on far more. Jargon doesn’t help either. Use words that your audience will easily understand.

Look at the following two sentences:

You’ll save money if you buy gas today.

Buying gas today could be economically advantageous.

Which one conveys the message better to you? Which words do you like? Which structure if preferable?

We often make the mistake of thinking “fancy” words said in our passive voice make us sound smarter or more professional. Usually it’s the opposite. We’re deemed smart when we connect with the audience we’re trying to reach.                

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Next time, we’ll discuss how to be a good winner (or loser). Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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Direct link to The Bigg Success Show audio file:
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How to Get Your Employees to Own Their Job, Not Just Do It

employee As business owners, we’re told that we should work on our business, not in it. But how do you do that when you’re just getting started? How can you do that if you don’t have any employees? Here’s the secret …

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At first, you work on your business by working in your business.

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george
Mary-Lynn’s always trying to get me out of the business!

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Seriously though, you begin working on your business by documenting your procedures, position by position, as you work in your business. Before you hire your first employee, it’s essential to put this structure in place so that, when you do hire someone, you can train him or her them effectively.

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marylynn My favorite General Managers in radio had worked in all areas of the business. They had been on the air. They had produced commercials. They had sold commercials. So they knew the business because they had worked the whole business.

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As a new business owner, you do that anyway, right? All you have to do is document what you do, position by position. Maybe you don’t do it all – you’re not comfortable with accounting, for example. So you get a partner who documents the procedures for those positions. Or you outsource them.

You’ll work through each position that your business will need. As you do, you will document every task that your business performs.

This leads to your employees OWNING their jobs

Now you’re going to build upon the work you’ve done. Put together two or more procedures and you have a process. Two or more processes start to build your system. You’ll end up with a full-fledged Operations Manual.

You get there by working on your business as you work in your business. Because while you’re doing that, you can test your procedures to make sure they are effective and efficient.

Assume you own a retail store. You would want to greet your customers as they come into your store. Here’s a typical conversation:

You: “Hi, may I help you?”

Customer: “No, I’m just looking.”

End of conversation.

Michael Gerber, in his great book The E-Myth Revisited, said he has consulted with retailers who increased sales by 10 to 16 percent when the following question was asked:

“Hi, have you been in here before?”

Now, if the customer says “Yes”, you can offer a special program for repeat customers. If the customer says “No”, you can make another offer for new customers.

So you set up one procedure to greet your customers. Then you test it. That’s working on your business. You’ll have a separate procedure to promote your special offer for customers. These two procedures are the beginnings of your process.

Keep doing this, procedure by procedure, process by process until you have a complete operating system. Document that and you have your Operations Manual.

Now when you hire an employee and start to train him or her, you can involve them in the process because you have it in writing. You’re ready for the five step process for training your employees.

Since you’ve tested your procedures, you can tell your new employee why you do things the way you do. This helps them understand the idea behind the procedure which helps get their buy in.

You’ll also tell your employee that your testing isn’t over yet. In fact, you want them to help you test new ideas. You’ll emphasize that it’s important to follow your system, but you also want them suggesting ways to improve how you do things.

That’s how you get employees who don’t just do their jobs; they own them!

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Next time, we’ll look at an inexpensive way for families to connect and compete. Until then, here’s to your bigg success!

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How to Get Better Results When You Train Your Employees

loveFor anyone starting a business, we highly recommend reading Michael Gerber’s The E-Myth. In the book, he tells a story that goes something like this …

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The Master Baker

There’s a young woman who loves to bake cakes. Her friends raved about her cakes; they told her that she should go into business. So she opens a little shop. She mixes each cake with tender, loving care. She is meticulous about her craft. And her customers love it!

So they tell their friends who tell their friends. Before she knows it, she has more orders than she can handle! So she hires her first employee. She shows her employee how to make the cakes. Then she turns her new employee loose.

Freedom! Now she has time to work on more important things. But it doesn’t last. Before long, she’s getting complaints from her customers about the quality of her cakes. That never happened before. She’s hearing from her customers that they’re not getting the same kind of service she gave them.

So she steps in and starts closely supervising her employee. But she still has her own work to do. Now she’s busier than she was when she didn’t have an employee. This just isn’t working out like she planned.

Show and tell doesn’t work

So it goes with many of us when we hire someone for the first time. We hire them because we’re so busy. We often find that we spend more time once we have them.

We’re all familiar with on-the-job training. The new employee watches as someone else performs a task. We expect that they’ll just pick it up, almost by osmosis.

There’s a Chinese proverb that says:

“Show me and I’ll forget; tell me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

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Use this 5-step process

Step 1 – Tell them what they need to do. Explain to them how to do the task, step-by-step.

Step 2 – Show them how to do it. You perform the task step-by-step, talking about it as you progress.

Step 3 – Review and repeat as needed. Keep repeating Steps 1 and 2 until your trainee says he or she completely understands it.

Step 4 – Involve them. This is the part we often forget or pass over. We assume Steps 1 and 2 are sufficient. But they’re not. You want your trainee to actively participate.

So have them tell you how to do it, step-by-step. Then have them do actually do it, step-by-step, explaining the process as they go through it.

Step 5 – Review and repeat as needed. Discuss what went well and what didn’t. Then repeat Step 4 until you’re satisfied that your trainee knows how to do it.

But there’s something you should do before you do any of these steps. We’ll discuss that next Thursday! Come back and see us again!

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Get Your Prospect’s Permission to Persist for Success in Sales

By Bigg Success Staff
04-02-08

Career Builders

prospecting 

Being persistent is good. Making a pest of yourself is bad. But how do you know when you’ve crossed the line?

Get your prospect’s permission to contact them again!
Take a hint from internet marketers – they get permission to send e-mails to their prospects. It’s called permission marketing. You’ll practice permission selling!

If they ask you to contact them, you’re not being a pest by doing so, are you? So getting permission is the key.

It’s easily done in two-steps:

1. Ask them when you should check back.

2. Then do it!

Most sales people do great with Step 1. Many fail miserably on Step 2.

In order to execute Step 2, you need a system that alerts you that it’s time to follow-up.

You may use advanced contact management software or simple index cards.

It doesn’t matter as long as it works!

As long as you follow-up when your prospect asked you to do so, you’ll have a leg up on many, if not most, of your competitors.

It sounds so simple, but apparently it’s not. Because if it was, more people would do it! So it’s not easy, but it is effective.

3 reasons why follow-up is so important


#1 – Test

Your prospect may be testing you. After all, if you don’t follow through as requested before you make a sale, how can you be expected to perform after a sale has been made?

#2 – Sales cycle

The length of your sales cycle depends on your product or service. However, many items require multiple calls to even give a proposal, let alone make a sale.

If you stop following up, on average, before you’ve reached the number of calls it takes to sell a typical prospect, you won’t succeed in sales. You have to persist, persist, persist.

But keep this in mind …

#3 – Busy, busy, busy
Your prospects are as busy as you are. Perhaps even more so. Your conversation may hold a higher priority in your mind than your prospect’s at that point in time.

That has nothing to do with you, your company, or what you sell. So you need to contact your prospect on the date they requested until they buy from you. After all, they’ve given permission to do just that!

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4 Pointers for Praising Your People

By Bigg Success Staff
04-02-03

Leadership skills

trophies 

Research shows that employees are attracted to, and stay with, leaders who recognize them for good performance. Everybody loves to be part of a winning team. That’s why great leaders willingly share the glory. It’s one of the greatest motivational tools at your disposal.

As you lead your troops to success, one of the most fulfilling parts of your work should be recognizing people who have made the most significant contributions. Yet many leaders fail to take full advantage of this opportunity.

Here are four pointers for praising your people:

Timely
Let’s be clear – recognizing an employee for good performance at any time is better than not recognizing them at all. However, if you want the greatest impact, you should acknowledge the performance as soon after it happens, or gets reported, as possible. You’ll get an immediate boost from these people (and others), so why wait?

Publicly
You should praise your employees publicly. Tell anyone and everyone you can about the wonderful things they’ve done. Make it as public as possible in every way possible. When you recognize people publicly like this, others will notice. Some will get jealous. Your best troops will be challenged to step up so they can get the same attention.

Fairly

You should recognize people for contributing to the goals you’ve defined. Period. Don’t play favorites in praising your people. You’ll discourage your other troops who are making honest efforts to contribute. If praise gets political, it will cease to be effective. That’s one of the worst things that could happen to you as a leader.

Generously
Great leaders dish out too much credit. You shouldn’t recognize people for things they don’t do; that won’t accomplish anything. However, when in doubt, spread it out – spread the praise so as many people as possible feel like they’re part of the progress.

You’ll find that keeping credit to yourself doesn’t accomplish much in the end. Recognizing your troops generously will!

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