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The Natural Way to Save Money

You may especially enjoy listening to today’s show. We had some fun with sound effects throughout, most which can’t be translated to print!

"We recently saw a study that showed that nature-based recreation in the US has declined about 25% in the last 20 years, after increasing in the 50 years before that."

 

"So we did our show today in the middle of nature – we camped out! We recorded the show in front of a nice fire while we roasted marshmallows."

 

Nature comes with benefits

Studies have shown that being outdoors has some incredible health benefits. In fact, even just SEEING the outdoors is beneficial. A little while ago, we saw a study that showed that hospital patients with a window recover much faster from surgery than those without. Isn’t that amazing?

This same study cited numerous sources that showed that spending time outdoors can lower stress and decrease mental fatigue.

Born to be wild

We’ve been talking about the benefits of being outdoors. Now let’s look at what the outdoors can do for one specific group of people – kids.

This same study we mentioned earlier showed that kids who spend more time outside pay attention better and are less demanding. It’s even been shown to reduce symptoms of Attention Deficit – Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

But going back to where we started, Americans are spending less time outdoors. Miracle-Gro, the garden fertilizer company, just conducted a survey. Nearly 70 percent of the parents who responded said their kids spend less time outdoors than they did when they were kids.

"My parents wouldn’t let my sister and me inside until it was dark. They wanted us to run off all that energy!"

 

"Now I know why Mary-Lynn brought me out here!"

   

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Before Going into Business with Friends, Consider These 8 Scenerios

One thing people often don't think about when going into business with a friend is the relationship itself. You’re going into business as friends. You want to remain friends.

Business is full of surprises. Discuss the possible surprises upfront, before you mix friendship and business, so you can keep your relationship strong while you’re in business.

You may think your friendship is really strong … and you’re probably right. But when you go into business together, your friendship will be tested more than it ever has been before. It’s wise to prepare for it beforehand, so you already have a lot of the answers when you’re in the middle of a tough situation.

Look at it this way – a business partnership is like a marriage. You need a pre-nuptial agreement! So find a good attorney to draw up an agreement for you.

8 “What if …” scenarios to discuss with your attorney

#1 – What if the business fails?
According to statistics, if the business fails, it’s most likely that no one will be owed any money. But what if that’s not the case – what if the business does owe money? How will you resolve that?

#2 – What if it succeeds wildly?
That may not sound like a problem, but you’d be surprised. Sometimes when a business succeeds at this level, greed enters in. Then comes the power struggles. Discuss the dream scenario upfront to avoid a nightmare.

#3 – What if one of you is incapacitated?
What if one partner is no longer able to do his or her part? How will the others handle this? Will this person get bought out? Is there formula for the price? There’s a lot to think about if this unfortunate situation happens.

#4 – What if one of you dies?
Obviously this is even more extreme than the last scenario. There’s the human side – your friend has passed and you’re grieving. But you also have business to attend to; work still needs to get done.

Many of the same questions from Scenario #3 apply here. But there’s more. For example, does the deceased partner’s family now have an ownership stake? Or do you buy them out?

#5 – What happens when one of you gets married?
Or you may already be married. What say does the spouse have in the business? Can the partner’s interest be jointly owned with a spouse or do you want to restrict ownership to your original group?

#6 – What if one of you gets divorced?
The business interest may be a significant asset. You probably don’t want a former spouse having a say in your business – even as a minority stakeholder. It can really muddy the waters, as the saying goes. What restrictions will you place on ownership?

#7 – What if one of you wants out?
How will you determine a price? What kind of notice will you require? What is the process?

#8 – What if one of isn’t pulling his or her weight?
How will you determine that this is case? What can, and will, you do about it?

These aren’t pleasant things to think about, let alone talk about. However, you’re more likely to find good solutions now when you’re thinking logically than to try to work them out in the heat of the moment.

We can’t stress this enough – get a good business attorney.
Then sit down with your partners and your attorney and work through these issues. Your attorney will probably have even more situations to discuss. Work through these issues before you start – for the sake of your friendship … and your business.

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Customer Disservice: Policies That Repel Customers

We've been thinking about customer service lately, inspired by a trip and a book.

 

I was in Chicago recently and I had to use the restroom. I saw this little hot dog place. I thought that I could grab a dog for lunch and use their bathroom. As I approached the door, I saw a sign. The sign said, “No Public Restrooms.” So I stopped, looked around, and noticed a McDonald’s down the street. So I went to McDonald’s.

 

I could see a business limiting the use of their facilities to patrons, because some people will just use the bathroom and leave. But to not even let your customers use it … that seems a little extreme to me.

 

I learned this lesson the hard way. One of my earliest businesses was a Ben Franklin store – the old “five and dime.” We didn’t let the public use our bathrooms. There was one particular day every year when the town held a huge community sale. We got tons of traffic on that day, many needing to use the bathroom. People would come in and walk out because we said, “No”. Why wouldn’t they? We hadn’t served their immediate need. So we changed our policy – and most people who used the restroom did buy something.

 

This makes me think of the book, Our Toilets are Not for Customers by Floyd Coates. He tells the story about shopping for light fixtures. His house had been severely damaged by a tornado. He had to buy lights for his new house, so he went to a lighting store. He was about half done with his list – having already selected about $2,000 worth of merchandise – when he got the call of nature. He asked a clerk where their bathroom was. She said, “Our toilets are not for customers.” She went on, “There’s a place a couple of blocks down the street.” So he left … and he didn’t return – they didn’t get a dime out of him.

 

One of my professors, who became one of my mentors, said that most policies are created for 3% of the people – the exceptions – rather than the 97% who are responsible for the success of the business.

 

The #1 … and #2 … ways businesses flush money down the toilet

#1 – Create policies for 3% of their customers
The hot dog place in Chicago is the perfect example of this. Would more than 3% of the people who walk through the restaurant’s doors do their business without doing business with the restaurant? Yet all of their customers are affected by this policy.

#2 – Create policies for 3% of their employees
The renegades, you might call this 3% of employees. But the other 97% suffer for it. This results in lower morale among all the employees – especially the ones who did nothing wrong. Lower morale leads to lower productivity.

What’s that sound? Oh, that’s the sound of money getting flushed down the toilet!

This 3% rule is a good thing to think about before making any policy decision that affects customers or employees.

We’ve given one example, but there are so many more. What have you seen – as a customer or an employee? How do businesses flush money down the toilet?

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How to Get Noticed in Job Market 2.0

Today on The Bigg Success Show, we welcomed Phil Rosenberg. Phil is the founder of reCareered, a career coaching service that helps job searchers get past the biggest challenge in today’s competitive jobs market – to get noticed.

 

Phil, what does reCareered mean?

 

 

It means someone who is seeking a job change, or trying to revitalize their career, or someone who is between jobs and wants help with how the job markets have changed in the last eight years or so.

 

How has the job market changed?

 

 

Eight years ago, the majority of resumes were delivered on paper. Around 2000, it changed to where most resumes were delivered digitally.

 

And how does that change the resume itself?

 

 

It changes it completely. The paper-based resume had to be static. The only way to customize it was by a cover letter. A digital resume can be searched. It also increased the number of resumes that went into most companies, by as many as ten-fold.

 

We always hear about search engine optimization and how you want to rank at the tops of the pages for Google. But apparently you can do the same for your resume … it can be optimized?

 

You bet, and it’s especially critical in today’s world. Most major employers get thousands of resumes for each job, but they only staff to look at twenty to thirty. That’s two to three percent. So your goal, in submitting your resume today, is getting to the top two or three percent. Through resume search optimization, you can manage that process rather than have it be random. My strategy with my clients is to make a resume a single-use document – to have it infinitely customizable so that you’re gaming the search engine and forcing it higher up the search page.

 

How do we make a good impression right upfront?

 

 

There’s been research from the University of Toledo and Stanford University that states that interview decisions are made within the first two to thirty seconds. That blew me away. The rest of the interview is just somebody justifying their initial decision. So it’s a “gut feel” decision that may occur even before you shake hands. It’s all about preparation. Learn about your client – how they communicate (verbally and non-verbally), how they dress, how they look. If you want a job, go to a place that’s close to their office and sit there during lunch. Talk to people from that company who are getting lunch there. On a Friday night, go to Happy Hour at a bar close to their office and talk to people from that company. When you talk to them, watch their body movements. What’s the tone they use? What’s the speed they use to talk? You can also do that with their written communication – their web site, annual reports, press releases. The key to all this is communicating to your audience that it seems like you already work there.

 

It reminds me of the book, Guerilla Selling. It’s all about learning about your customer, in that case, but in the case the employer you’re going after – getting as much information as you can, wherever you can. It’s amazing how much information you can gather.

 

Sure. That’s also an effective way to use LinkedIn, Facebook or your own personal network. Chances are you have contacts within that company. A lot of people only use those contacts to see what jobs are available and to ask them to pass their resume along. They leave out some of the greatest uses of a network – talking to people within an organization to find out what an organization is like and what the communication style is like. Listening for how they’re answering questions rather than just what they’re saying.

 

This is fantastic advice because you do want to fit in. It’s all about mimicking. When you’re at an interview, should you sit up straight and lean forward or should you try to have your body language be similar to the body language of the interviewer? From what I’ve read, you should try to mimic that person.

 

That’s exactly what you’re doing – it’s called mirroring. You’re trying to show that you fit in. You speak the same language. You’re really trying to act like you already work at the company. It takes a ton of preparation. A lot of people aren’t willing to put that preparation in, but the people who do get a huge, almost an unfair, advantage.

Phil's links

You can get free daily job tips from Phil at his blog or visit his main site, reCareered, the place for resume search optimization and job search 2.0. 

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