Thursday, November 1, 2012

Applying Improv Comedy Principles to Business

Improv comedy is a form of theater where a group of performers take the stage with nothing prepared in advance and use audience suggestions to instantly create comedy. If you've ever seen the TV show, 'Whose Line Is It Anyway?' you've seen improv comedy. Improv is fast, funny, and quite often ridiculous.
The first reaction people have to hearing about improv comedy being applies to business is, 'Come on now, business is serious. How can improv comedy apply to that?'
Well, the answer is quite simple. The key to successful improv is the willingness to take risks, the understanding of how to tap into your own creative resources, and the ability to listen to and work well with other people. Show me a person in business that wouldn't benefit from having the willingness to take risks, the ability to tap into their creativity, and the skill to listen and work with others.
An improviser must constantly take risks. The primary risk is stepping on stage with nothing prepared and trying to create something entertaining. Without embracing this risk, the improviser does nothing. In a similar fashion, a person in today's work force must push forward and try new ideas and methods. Without risk, there is no progress or innovation. Businesses that want to stay competitive require their people to keep pushing forward with new ideas. This can never be accomplished if people are not willing to take risks.
Creativity is often misconstrued as 'artistry.' In improv, it is clear that the performer needs to be creative. An improviser needs to generate interesting ideas immediately, without a moment's hesitation. While most artistic people are creative, creativity is about much more than art. Creativity is simply the ability to create. It is the ability to come up with something from nothing. It is the ability to create new ideas. These new ideas could be solutions to problems, innovative products, or new ways of handling clients. Just because artists are creative doesn't mean that other people can't benefit from creativity.
Unlike stand-up comedy, where the performer is alone, improv requires cooperation between two or more players. When one performer ignores his partners and does not involve them at all, he creates a disharmonious environment that tears at the group. The best improv happens when everyone is involved and there is a free flow of ideas that are supported and built upon by everyone. This attitude is the heart of communication. Whether talking to a co-worker, client, friend, or family member, the ability to openly and honestly listen to another person and incorporate their ideas is the key to building strong relationships.
The keys to effective improvisation are the same as the keys to success in just about any other area of life. It really should not be that surprising though; life, after all, is the ultimate improvisation.
Avish Parashar is a dynamic professional speaker who shows organizations and individuals how to get what they want using the Art and Science of improv comedy. He weaves together humorous stories, witty observations, and interactive exercises from improvisational comedy to get people laughing, learning, and motivated!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Making Money Without Being Perfect

Making Money Online Without Being Perfect (or Spending A Fortune!)
I've always been fascinated that you can make money in business without being perfect. Like horseshoes, just being close can make you a big winner.
I wish they had taught me this in a business class. I would have succeeded sooner. I've learned this from long experience.
I understand now that taking action makes me money. Trying to be perfect just makes me frustrated!
I think new people are often intimidated as they start a business, especially an Internet business. They're trying to learn everything and struggling to understand mountains of information. In the face of all that, it's easy to be overwhelmed and never really get started.
After all, if you can't understand everything and do a perfect job, you probably  shouldn't get started at all, right? (Sure... just give up on the idea of your own home based business and financial freedom and independence!)
Wrong! Very, very wrong.
The old saying, as I'm sure you've heard, goes like this: "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right." The implication is that you should not attempt anything unless you can do it perfectly.
I am adamantly opposed to this idea. First, because I know there's a ton of things I do that are less than perfect, but are important to me anyway.
Some I do for pleasure - like playing golf. I'm nowhere close to perfect, but I enjoy the game.
Others I do for business - many of these pursuits don't work perfectly or, sometimes, even well. But, most of them make me money in spite of the imperfections.
My second objection is that the idea of never attempting anything unless we'll achieve perfection simply boils down to never attempting much of anything at all. Truly, achieving perfection in any one pursuit is the achievement of a lifetime.
One of the many reasons I love doing business on the Internet is the huge margin for error that exists. I can make a lot of mistakes and still profit. Your overhead (fixed costs) to be in business online is a $100 or less per month including your web hosting, merchant fees, etc.
To break even, we just have to make back that $100. Of course, all the money above the $100 mark is profit that goes in our pockets.
When we advertise our business, we won't always get it right the first or second time. But, even a bad ad will bring in some money. If you spend $100 to run an ad, you'll rarely lose the entire $100 unless you have a horrible ad being run to a completely incorrect list. A marginal ad will usually make you a profit.
A good ad will bring you huge profits. A great ad will bring you riches.
We all have to work to refine the good ads, but we get to make money even when we are testing and refining.
To make money, we don't need to be perfect. We just need to be taking consistent action to build our businesses.
Yours in success,
Shawn M. Casey

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

5 Ways to Boost Your Business Income

Profit in any business comes from your business turnover multiplied by your margins. In simple term,
Profits = Turnover x Margins
Turnover, in turns, is determined by the number of customers you have, multiplied by the number of transactions each customer had with you and the average dollar sale. Thus,
Turnover = Number of Customers x Number of Transactions x Average Dollar Sale
The number of customers you have depends on your lead generation and conversation rate of these leads. Thus,
Number of Customers = Lead Generation x Conversion Rate
By breaking down the process into small chunks, you will see that your business profit is governed by 5 variables, namely
1. lead generation
2. conversion rate
3. number of transaction
4. average dollar sale 5. margins
These experts worked out the formula and found that by doubling each of these factors, you can boost your business profits by an incredible 67%.
Putting Theory into Practice
When I first learned this formula, it seemed so simple that it was incredulous no one has taught me this before. Yet when I put the theory into practice, the result was truly remarkable. I started by making minor changes and adjustments to my normal practice and within 6 months saw a 20% increase in my turnover.
Summary
How much increased profit you can generate for your business depends on your ingenuity and creativity in improving your lead generation,conversion rate of your lead, the number of transaction per customer,the average dollar sale and your margins. Only these 5 factors,nothing else.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

How to Perform a Site Inspection Like a Pro

When a professional meeting, event or conference planner goes to evaluate the suitability of a venue for a client this is called a site inspection. There are three basic areas to be considered:
  • Appearance and accessibility of the location

  • Service and quality of catering

  • Amenities and special features.
  • Without a doubt, choosing a venue for your affair is the most significant aspect of the event planning process. No venue=no event. Choosing the proper setting for your organization is of paramount importance. If you find yourself in a position where you are unable to have a professional planner perform a venue inspection for you, the following checklists should get you started.
    Appearance & Accessibility (Outside)
  • When you initially approach the building, is the fa├žade well maintained and pleasing to the eye? Is there someone available to greet you at the door and direct you where you need to go?

  • Is the location centered and roughly equidistant from the areas from which your guests will be traveling?

  • Is parking available for all of your guests? If not, is there a parking alternative outside the facility?
  • Appearance & Accessibility (Inside)
  • As you move inside, what is your impression of the inside of the facility? Wallpaper and paint well maintained? Carpets and floors clean?

  • Are there tables and chairs lying about from previous functions? At the very least, tables and chairs should stacked neatly and out of the way.

  • How far is the actual room where the event will be held from the entrance?

  • Will the room itself be spacious enough to accommodate all of your guests and still have room for at least ten more should your count unexpectantly increase?

  • Does the room have a built in sound system (if applicable)? Does the facility have in- house audiovisual equipment or will you need equipment from a rental agency?

  • Is the room clean and in good repair? Wallpaper and carpets well maintained? Any visible cracks, stains or tears?

  • Is the room well lit? If you need to darken the room for a presentation, make sure that the lights are adjustable.

  • Is there room for a registration or display table if applicable?
  • Service & Catering
  • What entrance do the waiters use to come in to set up the food? Make sure to stipulate that the catering tables be placed in a position where the waiters and guests will be able to have access, but also in a position where the wait staff will not have to pass in front of your speaker if they need to set-up during your program. (If you don't have a speaker presentation, this, of course, is a moot point.) The facility manager can assist you in making a decision.

  • How receptive was the staff to your request to view the facility? Were they pleasant and courteous? Did the facility manager greet you with a handshake and a smile upon your arrival at the venue?

  • Sometimes catering or banquet halls have an adjoining restaurant. This is a perfect opportunity to sample the facility's cuisine. Observe the attitude of the wait staff towards their customers. Do they seem pleasant and attentive? Are their uniforms neatly pressed? How often do they come back to check on your table? This is a fairly reliable indicator of the service that you will receive on the day of your event.

  • If the facility does not have an adjoining restaurant, you are perfectly within your rights to request a small sample tasting. Most facility managers should be happy to oblige.
  • Amenities & Special Features
  • Amenities may include any number of items such as a built in sound system, in house audiovisual equipment, valet parking, complementary floral arrangements, a mystery dinner theater or any special perk that sets that venue apart from others. It may be helpful for you to make a list of these features, so that you can compare the various sites that you have inspected. No facility is perfect. If you look hard enough, you are bound to find some small flaw in service or in the maintenance of the building. Use the following checklists as a guide for evaluating the facility as a whole. Don't drive yourself crazy looking for every rip and tear! Only you can decide what type of venue is right for your event. If you are fortunate enough to find a venue that meets all of your requirements and fits within your budget, you've hit the goldmine! However, this may not always be the case and some form of compromise may be required. For instance, you may choose one venue over another because it is more conveniently located for your guests, although you may have felt that the other site was more elegant. Only you can determine what factors will come into play when making your final decision.
  • Just remember the basics. The following should never be compromised:
    1. Cleanliness and proper maintenance of the facility both inside and outside.
    2. Convenience and accessibility of location.
    3. Attentive and courteous service.
    4. Quality and presentation of catering.

    Andrea Pellettiere has over ten years of experience in the events and hospitality industry. She is a small business owner and the founder of Eleganza Meetings, Events and Conferences Inc., a full service agency providing a wealth of meeting, event and conference planning resources.

    Wednesday, October 3, 2012

    What is an Acceptable Response

    Many online marketers work odd hours, with no beginning of the day and no real end. How does this impact support and customer service inquiries? Some small businesses are afraid to reply to customer queries off-hours, fearful that the message time-stamp will betray them as a small business. The Internet however is timeless. The fact is customers appreciate a quick response.
    With the globalization of the Internet federal holidays are blurred. Customers expect timely responses and often make little note of the time zone the vendor they are working with. While large corporate businesses have a large amount of resources (staff and money) for sales, customer service and marketing are often tied to traditional methods of communication with customers. Sales are in person; customer service is over the phone and marketing by advertising and mail. Email is often used to funnel customers into these traditional channels of communication. When emailing often the reply back is to call back or a request you show up in person. More so in the past then recently, many companies do not respond to email at all. While communicating by telephone and mail is important, email is part of the fabric of how people interact and companies often do not take this into account.
    As many small main street businesses are offering a more personalized service, email can be more personalized than large corporations are able to provide. Since customers have become accustomed to looking on the Internet to either make or research purchases email is an easy way to communicate. Besides an easy way to get an answer, some customers want reassurance there is a human behind the web page, and not just some wizard speaking out of a microphone.
    Service and forum queries are typically handled by online businesses within 24 hours; rarely do weekends or holidays alter response rates. Customer demands and the 'need' for instant answers have driven the standard. If you do not respond in a timely fashion a competitor will.
    Customers are used to surfing the web and emailing. They want instant information whether it is 4pm or 4am. They want an immediate response. Many companies provide 24-hour customer service.
    While some people expect responses immediately, others will think business is slow if you respond right away. This is difficult to gauge, if the answer is simple respond as soon as possible. If research is required then at least email a response that you are looking into and will get back to them.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2012

    In Business, Image Isn't Everything; It's The Only Thing

    We have all heard this lament, but how much do we practice it. With all the relaxed rules today, do we really present ourselves in the best light. It seems all the articles I see today are about how old fashioned today's workers find their supervisors or bosses to be in the way they dress, the policies they implement and the old fashioned ways in which they conduct their business.
    I am of the belief, and will continue to believe, that the first impression I make is the lasting one. Whether it is by phone or in person, I want to present myself in the best possible light. But then again, I am from the old school, the one today's workers are complaining about.
    Let's look at the companies that are still standing. After all the hoopla has passed, the companies that have used the fundamental principles of Business 101 are the ones still among us. The Intels, IBMs, Burger Kings, AT&Ts, Sears, Microsofts, Dells, Gateways, etc.
    I am not advocating living in the dark ages. I believe for a company to survive it has to move with the times, but the basic structure and foundation on which we have built our business - image, courtesy, ethics, the customer being right, are the cornerstones to running a successful business, whether it is home-based or not.
    Too many home-based business have taken the pajama mentality into all of their business practices. I have called on businesses that have cute messages on their machines, music that is obnoxious, children answering the telephone, screaming televisions, radios in the background. This does not inspire confidence in me to do business with this person.
    That is not to say I have not had reservations about companies that have offices outside the home. In fact, it was a call placed to one that inspired this article. When I called and spoke to the owner of this business, she had no idea on how a particular process worked or what it's cost would be. Wow, it's her business and she doesn't know how it works or what it costs. Guess who I didn't do business with. I am not saying you have to be an expert, but at least know the basics and tell me you employ an expert in that area that will be better able to help me, don't hem and haw and tell me you don't have a clue. This does not give me a good impression of you or your company.
    There are businesses in corporate offices that are more fun houses than companies...and they don't inspire any confidence in me either, so I am not picking on home-based businesses.
    The purpose of this article is to remind all of us (home-based and non-home-based) that how we present ourselves is of paramount importance.
    When you answer your telephone, answer it in a professional manner. When you go to an outside meeting, if you are home-based, dress for the meeting, not for home. If you have clients come to your home, be sure it is presentable, and that you are too. Just because you work out of your home, does not mean, shorts and a T-shirt are appropriate for meeting a client. Have your identity package (business cards, letterhead, brochure) done professionally, proofread and spell check any correspondence that leaves your office.
    Your first impression, whether in person, by phone or correspondence is a lasting one. Make it a good one and you'll have clients for life if you treat them right - the old fashioned way.
    The only place I've ever found I was wrong is with restaurants. Some of those little holes in the wall have turned out to have the best service and the best food, so I guess when it comes to businesses, you can't judge all books by their covers, just most of them.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2012

    Small and Homebased Business Owners

    The homebased and small business owner is the "Unsung Hero".  Why? The small business owner and today even the homebased business owner are the cornerstones of our society. The homebased business owner employs a number of independent contractors. Small businesses account for a large percentage of our economic work force.
    Think of the homebased and small business owner as the leaders of a team. They organize their team, tell them the strategy they want to be followed and  how to implement that strategy. The business owner takes their responsibility of that team very seriously. Why? Because it they don't, they won't have those people working for them very long, in fact they won't be in business for very long.
    The small and homebased business owner are - Unsung Heroes! Why? Because people do not realize how important they are to our society.
    They not only take care of their business and their family, but the families of all their employees. Think about it. Look around at the town you live in. Sure there are Walmarts, Targets, and other large businesses, and malls. However, our malls are not only comprised of corporate franchises but also a lot of small business owners.
    Those small business owners are the backbone of your local economy. You might think, Oh, they only employee 6 people. However, multiply those 6 people by 100 small businesses in your area, and it adds up very quickly.
    The homebased business owner is also of major importance to your local economy. They contract with other homebased and small business owners. Think of the local contractor. Many contractors are homebased. That contractor needs supplies from the local hardware store. They might have to employ a plumber or an electrician to complete a project, because they don't have expertise in that area. All of these people make up the business spectrum of your local economy.
    People are leaving corporate America everyday. Either because they want to run their own business or due to a layoff. These folks are discovering that the only sure thing is to run your own business,  that they only have themselves to rely on.
    So while yes, the large corporations are important, REMEMBER, the backbone of our society will always be "the small and homebased business owner".  They are what keep our society going. More UNSUNG HEROES are joining our ranks every day. Let's  give them a HEROES WELCOME!