I don’t know who originally said this, but it is very, very true. We are all learning to focus on building our businesses, sometimes to the exclusion of other activities. We plan our strategies, we plan our timelines, and we plan the activities we need to accomplish to achieve our goals.
Our inboxes are inundated with jokes, spam, offers and other stuff. Rarely do you find a “real” letter from a real person. The best way to encourage wanted email vs. the other stuff is to write a good email yourself. Here are some tips that might help.
MANNERS: Just because you are no longer using a pen and ink you are not exempt from good manners. A short, but pleasant greeting, even if it’s just “hi”, will alert the reader that you have something important to say. Don’t forget to add a “thank you” after your call to action.
THE TEXT: Keep it short. If you have a lot of information to share put it in a word document and attach it. People read their email at lightning speed; they won’t even bother to read more than they can in a few seconds. Just preview the attachment in your note and ask them to take whatever action is indicated. This will let them know that they have something to do, but not at this very minut. If you are forwarding something be sure to take out all the previous addresses. There is nothing more frustrating than having to scroll thru multiple addresses to get to the message. And, it is improper to forward or use the addresses of other people. This is one of the things to remember to avoid identity fraud; and it is illegal to send unsolicited email.
THE LOOK: I learned in graphic design that most people can easily read a 4 inch line of text very comfortably. They tend to lose continuity with a longer line of type and are likely misread a shorter one. Consider your audience and your intention before adding any clip art or pictures; these may be perfect for a chatty note to a friend, but are very unprofessional in a business letter. The same advice goes for uncommon colors and fancy fonts.
THE FOLLOW UP: If your message included a call to action it is OK to send a reminder if the project is taking more time than you expected. If the delay is causing a problem pick up the phone; this is still the fastest means of communication.
Even with newer technology we are still generating gazillions of emails per day. Treat your reader to respect, and it will be returned to you many fold.
At the most recent annual meeting of Berkshire Hathaway, Warren Buffett assured their shareholders that the Company is prepared to continue if anything happens to him. Considering his age and medical condition, this is a valid question. Many companies that have been created and controlled by one strong person are not as prepared if anything should happen to the principal.
There are many lessons to be learned from this kind of challenge. Sometimes the leader, especially if they are younger, doesn’t realize that they are as susceptible as anyone else is to disaster; some just don’t recognize their own mortality.
It is not uncommon for a business owner, especially leaders of smaller companies, to assume that one of their children will step in and carry on in their place. Without prior discussions and confirmation, this assumption can spell the end of the dynasty. Often the kids just don’t want to step up, or they are not prepared.
Being not prepared is probably the least favorable situation. The heir assumes that they are going to become the leader and the business will continue running as it always has; the business owner assumes that the heir has been paying attention and has the tools they need to continue the business. This can be wrong on both accounts.
It is important that both sides have serious discussions, maybe with an impartial advisor, to determine if family succession is really the best answer for continuing the business or a Plan B should be developed.
Changes will happen in time; a plan should be in place as part of your business plan to insure continuity of the family legacy. This is a part of estate planning that often is left out, and may be critical to the future of your family.
Kids with Crayons
What is that little black and white square that is popping up on all kinds of advertising? That little box that looks like a child’s artwork is called a QR code. QR is abbreviated from “quick response”. With a bar code app on your smart phone, you can scan the square to get more information on a particular product or service.
QR codes were first developed in 1994 by Toyota for inventory tracking in their truck plant. Because it can store a lot more information than a standard bar code, its use expanded to other industries. The code may contain information about product details, contact details, offer details, event details, or a link to your Website, Facebook page, or YouTube video.
Your code should appear on all print advertising, on your website leading to special offers or events, and your business card. This will allow potential customers or clients to find you easily from their phones. You can even use the application for online coupons or loyalty specials. All of the major app stores have QR Readers available, usually at no cost. Just download it and you are ready to scan codes wherever they appear.
Making it as easy as possible for your clients/customers to connect with you will help you build your business. No longer will they have to type in cumbersome URLs and trip through several pages to find you. Your marketing information is at their fingertips; which puts ahead of the competition who haven’t yet embraced the new technology.
Do you wonder what would happen if your computer crashed? Will you have to start all over again if you throw something in the trash by accident?
There is nothing to worry about. For the last seven years, Carbonite has been able to retrieve anything you lose, including all your family photos, research material, and communications.
All of this piece of mind will only cost you less than $5.00 per month. Don’t think of it as an expense, think of it as an investment in the security of electronic World.
Do you remember the days before cell phones? Cell phones seem to be everywhere these days. They are helping us stay connected, but they are also breeding a culture of disrespect. We have all seen instances of people dining (not) together where each person is holding their own phone conversation, or texting, and ignoring the person across the table from them.
Occasionally answering the phone is not avoidable, but for the most part, we should all learn to let it ring. If the call is important, the caller can leave a message and you can get back to them at a better time. There is very little that can’t wait. For those rare calls that just can’t be ignored, like a parent or boss, it is possible to set distinct ring tones for those numbers. Excuse yourself, and make the call as short as possible.
Rudeness and bad manners are having a negative impact on our Society. We are losing our ability to have meaningful conversations and maintain connections. Cell phones are a major part of the problem. You can do your part to reduce it by being selective about when and where you answer your phone.
There have been cases reported of people receiving thousands of text messages per month. Texting is becoming the preferred means of communication, which makes little sense. If you are texting, you have a phone in your hand; why not just call the texter and have a real conversation?
Smart phones can be a very useful tool, or they can cut you off from society. Used responsibly they can help you stay in touch and grow your business; irresponsibly they can pull you down and destroy your credibility.
Your passwords are the lock on the gate of your computer. It takes more than a simple lock to protect your yard and it takes more than a recognizable password to protect your personal information. Brion of Plus It suggests the following ways to keep strangers away from your gate.
- Use long passwords
- Misspell something
- Include numbers and punctuation
- Capitalize a couple of letters
- Each site should have its own password
- Change passwords occasionally and regularly
Using these tools is the first line of defense against computer intrusion, and will go a long way to keep your pictures and files safe.
The fantastic opportunities we have today with technology have also opened the field to tech savvy unsavory types. It has become very easy for thieves to steal your identity and do unimaginable damage.
One of the most common schemes is called “phishing”. The thief sends out emails that look exactly like those from legitimate companies asking you to click a link to confirm your profile information. They can then use the information to clean out your bank accounts, or worse. DO NOT ever respond to these emails. If you are concerned contact the company directly and confirm that you information is safe.
You may also get these requests for information on the phone. DO NOT respond. Again, contact the company to confirm that your information is safe.
The key is that you should NEVER give out information unless you have initiated the call. Legitimate companies will ask you to contact them—don’t click on the link—make the call yourself to be sure, you aren’t giving away your security.
A fairly new concept in the credit card world is the concept of Universal Default. This means that credit card issuers can follow your credit scores and if they are declining, indicating that you might be a higher risk. They can then impose the option of raising your interest rate, even if you have a perfect record with them. If any of your accounts, not just theirs shows
- Being late
- Going over your limit
- Carrying too much debt
- Having too much available credit or
- Getting a new mortgage or car loan
they can legally up your interest rate.
The easiest way to avoid this challenge is to practice money/debt discipline. It may be necessary to transfer your balances to a 0% interest account so you can pay the balance down faster to put yourself in a better position.
Check your credit agreements annually, and whenever there are changes look to see just what their policies are so you can avoid the unearned punishment of increased rates that can really skew your financial health.