Taking Meaningful Action

Productivity. Priorities. Planning.

There are a lot of buzz words right now (and they all seem to start with the letter P!) that are intended to help us make the most of our time and efforts.

But in all the buzz about how to get more done, there is surprisingly little talk about what, exactly, we should be doing. Are all “to do” items created equal? Checking things off a list doesn’t guarantee that we are moving ourselves forward.

Growth Activities

Some things on our list need to get done, and you could argue that they are “important.” Many people fill their days doing client projects and customer service. After all, we have to deliver on our promises. But those are not growth activities.

Of course, we also fill a surprising amount of our time with “distractions.” Some are more obvious than others. Many of us lose hours in reading and responding to e-mails, which might feel like “work” but how productive are we really being?

How many of your activities are true “growth activities.” What things will grow your business? Expand your impact? Allow you to make a bigger difference? Really fulfill your purpose?

When you really look at it, those things happen primarily in two ways. When you create things. And when you connect with people.

Create

As a Content Creation Coach, these types of activities are dear to my heart. I see the power of creating new things. Of putting your ideas into tangible pieces. Whether you are writing a blog article or a book, creating a program, shooting a video, making a new presentation… creating things generates value.

You are increasing the assets of your business. You are putting valuable things into the marketplace (even if they don’t cost money). You are giving value that expands your worth and inevitably returns to you.

I often ask people, “What are you creating next to grow your business?”

The most powerful thing about creating content and other pieces in your business is that it gives you something new to share. Creating something new doesn’t mean anything if others don’t see it.

Which leads me to the second type of growth activity…

Connect

When you connect with other people, that is when all sorts of magical things happen. You might end up with a new client. You could find out about a fantastic opportunity. You could impact that person and create a ripple effect in their life and beyond.

The incredible web of possibilities that exists in a conversation with another person is huge. There is a real art to finding the places where your interests, needs, and capabilities intersect. That’s why it’s called “networking”!

Being able to impact someone else is at the core of our purpose. Each of us brings our own area of expertise and focus to each interaction, of course. But if we approach it openly, each conversation is an opportunity to live out our purpose.

That’s real growth.

And business growth follows real growth.

I’ve been spending a lot of my time recently connecting with others. And I often share things that I have created with the people I am connecting with. Sharing value and making a difference. Win win!

Looking at your task list, how many items involve creating something new or connecting with others?(And sitting at your computer writing e-mails doesn’t count!) Identify some real growth activities to put into your schedule.

Best Strategies for Saving on Flights and Hotels

As a business owner, you always look for ways to save money when running a business. Amongst all areas business travel is one key area where you can find savings on flights and hotels. By following the best booking strategies and utilizing affordable options, travelers can reduce the cost of their business trip.

Here are a few ways to save on hotels and flights:

Saving on Hotels

Book hotels and flights together

Online travel booking sites offer price breaks for purchasing a flight and hotel together. Combined packages are mostly used by vacationers but also offer great value to business travelers with flexible preferences.

Surf online, book over phone

To get the best deals, browse through various online booking channels and figure out your preferred option. Get in touch with the hotel and ask them to reduce the rate further. This works as many hotels will go lower to avoid paying third-party booking fees.

Advance fees

If you are sure about your travel plans, nonrefundable hotel reservations offer the best price. Paying advance can save up to 20% on bookings made directly with hotels.

Take advantage of refundable bookings

Alternatively, you can make a refundable booking by looking for the best prices online. Hotels usually don’t have any cancellation fees like airlines.

Use corporate discounts

Businesses often negotiate with preferred hotel vendors and get discounts up to 40%. So, using corporate booking tools can give you the lowest possible fare when booking.

Last-minute travel

If you are booking in last-minute, you can find deals on unused rooms. Talk to your preferred hotels to know about possible cancellations. Also, searching last-minute booking sites such as Hotel Tonight can help you get other options.

Say no to cookies

Travel sites maintain cookies to identify customers with strong intention to buy. Clearing your browser history might give you more favorable prices.

Flight Saving Strategies

Travel during off-peak hours

Flights are cheapest between 5 am to 7 am and after 8 pm. Businesses can save an average of $116 per flight by flying at peak times.

Fly on specific days

Reports from recent studies revealed that Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays are the low cost days to fly. Flying on these days can save you money.

Take connecting flights

Direct flights are convenient, but flights with layovers will cost you less. Taking connecting flights is one of the strategies that can help you save money.

Check out from less expensive airports

When you search for flights, check the box “include nearby airports”. You can choose alternative airports that cost you less than others and not necessarily farther away.

Make early bookings

Tickets booked fewer than seven days before departure will cost you an average of 44% more than if they had been booked 15 or more days in advance.

Book on the right time

Airfares fluctuate throughout the week. Studies revealed that the best time to book air travel is Tuesday at 3 PM ET, the time when airlines will release their discounted seat inventory.

Leverage refund rules

Bookings made at least 7 days in advance can be canceled within 24 hours. This creates a grace period in which you can cancel your bookings if your travel plans are not final.

These strategies can help you save money while booking flights and hotels.

Entrepreneurial Mind Frame

Entrepreneurs make up only about 15% of the working population in the US. Far fewer actually succeed than those who attempt to become self employed business people and venture out on their own. So what makes people decide to take the entrepreneurial path, when so few actually make it a reality?

Is the American dream a possibility for anyone, or, does it take more than most to become a successful entrepreneur?
The success of an entrepreneur does depend on their mindset. A large percentage of business owners will quit in their first five years in business. What is needed is the fortitude and belief that goes with attaining success.

Entrepreneurs are risk takers and dreamers. The difference between the dreamer and the entrepreneur though, is that the entrepreneur takes actions based on their dreams. They persist through the hardships and never give up! Many entrepreneurs start with an idea. Their success is determined by their belief that they can create something greater than simple monetary success. Often, it is about creating something which will benefit the world.

James Dyson, for example, came up with the idea of the bagless vacuum cleaner. Despite multiple set backs, over 5000 prototypes and not being able to get any manufacturers or distributors to accept his idea, he persevered. It was over a decade after his initial idea when his concept came to fruition. Even then, it was after a lot of difficulties and hardship due to the vacuum replacement bag industry, which was worth £100 million in the UK.

In Simon Sinek’s book ‘Start With Why’, he suggests that the biggest companies in the world are so because of their “why?” – their reasons for building a business in the first place. In all cases, it wasn’t just to make money, or make technology better, or some whimsical ideology.

The Wright Brothers, for example, became known as the pioneers of the first manned flight. But their competition was much better funded and well connected – Samuel Pierpont Langley had worked at Harvard, had a number of powerful connections, including Andrew Carnegie and Alexander Graham Bell. The War Department funded his project with a $50k grant, a seemingly massive advantage to the unconnected Wright Brothers who had no money or influence. However, their passion and devotion to change the world with this new technology drove them to attain the first flight in history in 1903.

Desire for material things and monetary wealth can only carry someone so far. Unless you have a goal or passion which is bigger than that, you may lose the momentum and fail to maintain your enthusiasm for any length of time.

The entrepreneurial mindset is one which taps into your purpose. Without a purpose driven goal or aim, it can’t take long before disillusionment kicks in. With a mindset which takes into account a larger purpose, entrepreneurs can build huge businesses because they ‘saw’ a vision of what they wanted to create. If the purpose is greater than the obstacles which lie in the path of attaining it, no amount of setbacks will stop you from achieving your goal.

On the other hand, if you set out to do something and something gets in the way and stops you, your initial reason, (your “why?”), may not have been strong enough to endure all the battles along the way.

Entrepreneurial mind frame (or mindset) therefore, must be aligned with both your vision, your values and your purpose. If your values are not in alignment with your purpose and vision, you’ll come up against road blocks which will stop you from achieving your goal.

What to Read and When

Either you need information or you desire entertainment. In either case, a young person’s time fills with activity. Yet, young people stumble and fumble through their early lives because they have not experienced the pitfalls and rabbit path trails of work, love, finances, and real estate. Young people should read voraciously to get an edge on what comes next in their lives. An older person might have more time in the day, but less time in life. Older people possess the wisdom to be selective in their reading. Rather than seeking an edge of knowledge, an older person might juice more sweetness from life by identifying with a fictional character who came out on top by living a moral life in spite of torment and misfortune.

Consider this: regardless of your age, the media bombards you with plenty of information on daily news that will enable you to converse socially. Are you an online social media aficionado? You know that it only takes a few glances and a tiny bit of reading to keep up with current events with your friends. In your profession, yes, you should read to advance your knowledge, but realize that by only reading yesterday’s technical guidance, you neither prepare well for today’s technical problem, nor do you advance technically for tomorrow. Besides that, the technical go-to-person in a company receives visits from people who have technical problems. Unless that person interacts socially with the managers and employees, he or she will not be remembered for promotion. However, the technically astute person who brings fun, happiness, charisma, and stands like a moral rock, might slice through company politics like a hot knife through butter, to advance beyond his or her peers. Read fiction to learn how to be that person.

Why read a made up story? Most fiction writers create interesting stories based on what they know – things that have happened to them. The singer, Prince, famously said, “Before I dreamed it, I lived it.” He meant that he had a better story to tell through song because he sang about things that happened to him. You learn his story, appreciate his experience, and possibly get an edge for yourself while he entertains you with his song. You can get that by reading fictional stories too. Don’t limit yourself to stories that closely align with your life. It will do you little good to read what you have experienced. Instead, if a writer piques your interest in the first five pages of any genre: thriller, mystery, romance, science fiction, drama, history, or comedy, acquire and read that novel. Especially, if you feel a hook in your mouth that pulls you into wanting to read the rest of the story, do it. Don’t walk away with regret.

The time and setting do not matter. A 200-years-ago story on the planet Mars can be relevant to you today, as well as entertaining while you read it. You will perk up when you read about a character who faces a nasty experience similar to one that happened to you at work or at home, yet, he or she determined the effect wanted amid chaos, planned, then acted on a plan that switched them from victim to world-shaper. That information may be far more useful to you than today’s news story or your friend’s latest Facebook photo. Like Prince, you might live it, then dream it. Find a lifetime of free fiction novels online, but understand that inexperienced authors break into the writing business by giving their work away. Don’t deny yourself the better read by being stingy with vending machine snack money. #TAG1writer

How to Make a Good Flyer

Before we get to how to make a good flyer, we have to understand the strategy behind a high-quality one. Here’s a basic rundown of a door hanger. As you can see we don’t have much space to work with. This means we have to choose our words carefully. The first line you see is the largest and is meant to grab the attention of the viewer as well as qualify them.

Right away the person knows what we’re trying to sell here. Private Construction Management services. Right below it, you’ll see a picture of a house that would look like our target customer. Under that, there’s a brief description that reinforces credibility by mentioning the years of experience with all kinds of projects.

Anyone looking into renovating their homes will identify with this flyer right away. We ask them the question “Have a project in Mind?”, always qualifying them. The next line tells them what we want them to do, which is to call for a consultation.

Door hangers work really well compared to regular flyers. For one, you won’t have to worry about your message getting lost in the mail. The direct mail route is often pricey and your ad will compete with priority mail like bills. On the other hand, everyone has one front door and your ad will command their full attention.

Flyer Headline Examples
The headline is arguably the most important part of the flyer. Some people spend the most of their time trying to choose the right image that’s going to catch the attention of the customer and dazzle them with their creativity. It sounds nice. It just isn’t the case.

The reality is that we have 1 second to catch the attention of the person we’re trying to reach. We have to talk about what THEY want as opposed to what we’re offering. In the example above, Private Construction Management might not be an ideal headline. Instead, we could’ve said something along the lines of “Got a Construction Project in Mind?”.

It might or might not get a good reception. The key is to grab attention and eliminate anyone who wouldn’t buy from us while selecting those that would. We could write a whole book on choosing the right headline but adhering to some guidelines should put you on the right track. The following are some good headline examples for flyers or for any ads in general.

How-to Headline: People like to learn and the how-to headline is found everywhere. How to hire a good construction management company. How to make a million bucks in 20 min. You’ve seen it before. It works.

Question Headline: Just like the one suggested above. Asking a question engages the reader and causes them to answer it subliminally or consciously. Either way, we’ve got them communicating with us just through the headline.

Testimonial: Testimonials are great anywhere. They reinforce your brand and its authority. No one wants to buy from the new guy on the block. They want someone tried and tested.

Crazy Offer: A crazy offer can go a long way. A really long way. You should always have a crazy offer on your flyer regardless. If its good enough, it should be the biggest and first thing they see.

Choosing the Best Image for Flyers
As we said previously, finding the perfect image for your flyer isn’t as important as some people might think. A funny or creative image will get a positive response, but it won’t necessarily get us the exact response that’ll bring us sales.

Our picture should flow well without our headline and service. If we’re advertising for a taekwondo school, you might use a picture of children wearing their G.I uniforms.

A picture like that will help people identify quickly what your service is and if its for them. The image should be able to work independently from your headline, and vice versa.

The Elevator Pitch
Flyers have limited amounts of space for words and pictures. We want to get in as much as we NEED to, not as much as we CAN. This is where a lot of people go wrong. They design their flyer to include every single detailed explanation of what they do.

You should remember that the flyer shouldn’t serve as an alternative to your website. Your website is where your customers will go if they want a more in-depth understanding of your company and services/products.

The next section you should include in your flyer is a short description of what you do and why they should choose you. In short, it’s a small elevator pitch about your company.

“We manage construction projects for homeowners and have been doing it for over 20 years”. Simple, yet effective. At this point, we have a headline, a photo, and a small elevator pitch that’s going to help us land the knockout punch.

How to make a good flyer or offer
How to make a good flyer is based on the offer you give. An amazing offer has a time limit and simply cannot be passed by. These flyers receive upwards of 8-10% success rate. You really must be able to give tremendous value, or you won’t get too many replies.

A simple flyer with no offer can expect a 1% conversion rate. This means that we’ll turn 1% of the people that see our flyers into paying customers. You send out 10,000 and you get back 100 customers. Pretty simple stuff.

If you put a great offer, you can see 800-1000 customers out of 10,000 flyers. Suddenly, it makes a lot of sense to give away a great offer. Restaurants, for example, would benefit greatly by offering a free appetizer. They might lose out on some short-term profit but they’ll win in the long term.

Strategizing a Flyer Campaign
A good design is useless without a good strategy for distribution. We know flyer advertising is a numbers game and so we have to choose our target customers carefully. A restaurant might benefit better from delivering to homes instead of street promotion. That isn’t to say that a restaurant shouldn’t use street promotion as part of their campaign. However, if you don’t have enough foot traffic near your restaurant to justify it, you’re better off just targeting the homes in the neighborhood.

These customers are going to be your loyal regulars. The cost of acquiring one of them is inconsequential to the value that they’ll bring as a lifetime customer. For homes, door hangers work best. The reason is that other flyers have to be stuffed in other places near the home. They might be stuck on the mailbox or squeezed between the door frame. On the other hand, a door hanger is going on the doorknob. Basically, to get into their home they’re going to take it off the door and they’ll look at it for about a second.

They should be able to see exactly what you’re offering, how much, and what they have to do to redeem the offer. For example, you’re advertising a pizza restaurant. A really good flyer for this type of strategy would be “Get a free pizza slice with an order of a pizza and a soda”. The customer picks up the flyer and sees that they’re getting a free pizza slice and all they have to do is to go buy 1 and a soda.