December 23, 2011

Collaborating - Part One - Why Pay Twice - Getting Started

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The easiest form of collaboration comes in being able to share assets and ongoing resources.  What makes this easiest is that it requires the least level of trust with your collaborator.  You and your collaborator provide different services to different customers - the collaboration is on the back end; a shared office, a shared receptionist, even a shared lunch room or gym in the case of business with several employees.  The best example I ever saw of this was a shared kitchen between two totally different restaurants owned by two different restauranteurs; a high-end American Cuisine and a high-end Oriental Cuisine.

There have always been businesses organizing, managing and being made on this concept:  Executive Suites has always allowed for shared traditional business resources and common office areas.  "The Cloud" is probably the latest version or organized collaboration made into a business.

There are several stages to collaboration depending on what stage your business is in.  A start-up wants to conserve cash thus looks for shared assets and resources.  A more mature business may have empty office space, excess Internet/Telephony bandwidth or a receptionist they can share.  This form of collaboration is all about cost awareness and in many cases the first step in forming relationships that can go beyond cost awareness.

The key thing here is to remember that you should not go looking for these opportunities, as this is not what your business is nor is it what will make it successful (even though it will make it more successful), just have your eyes open and know they exist everywhere - and then take advantage of them when the occur - which they do all on their own.

The Time4 and LightsOn businesses are great examples of this as they have shared knowledge, assets and resources between the different companies - one of the reason we each can be so price competitive in the advertising, printing and technology businesses.  I believe this is actually the future of these businesses as the "McPrint" players can collaborate within themselves.  The Time4 and LightsOn offices match and beat the pricing of the "McPrint" players and more importantly, provide an expertise that benefits the buyer.  This is cost collaboration in its finest form.

Collaborating Part Two will be something I consider much more fun - about making more money by creating collaborative relationships that create more sales opportunities and sales.

 Back to "Collaboration and Collaborating; You Should Be" .

Stay Tuned for Collaboration through Collaborative Relationships.


December 20, 2011

Business Cards That Tell a Story – But the Story First - Then a Lenticular Look

Business Cards used to be, very simply, a calling card identifying who you were, who you represented and how to get in touch with you.  They may have had a standard logotype which may have been something as simple as a generic line picture of something related to the holders business; something as simple as a hammer, a horse shoe or even a set of teeth as seen here.  This card was printed, most likely with hand set type on a relief letterpress.
Old Business Card

Through the 80s and 90s Lithographic printing became more and more cost effective and we saw small card printing move from relief letterpress to lithography.  This transition greatly enhanced, arguably, the overall quality and increased the capability to print more intricate images.

Full Color Business Card
In the late 90s and early 00s, a mass of technology brought both short run and color to within everyone’s budget.  Today the two most common methods of business product printing are digital, for short run quantities less than 500, and offset lithography for quantities over 500.  Color turned the business card from a leave behind identifier to a product/business identifier.  Digital influence has brought the cost down for extremely short run.

Today we see very intricate products that may include holograms or lenticular printing; the costs of such have come down so much that today’s business card can tell a short story about a product or service.  Business cards printed with these technologies and features are as much a promotional item as a business card.  As a business card, they are somewhat expensive; as a promotional item, they are inexpensive; as a story teller they are priceless.

Since these Business Cards tell a story, a picture will not do.  This video demonstrates a Lenticular Business Card by LightsOn Graphics, used by a real estate agent to demonstrate what they deliver.

December 19, 2011

Sell, Sell, Sell – Part Two – It's a Game of Numbers

Non salespeople have the hardest time believing this one, but selling is simply a game of numbers.  Talk to X number of people and Y number will buy from you.  The bigger X, the bigger Y.  Yes there are techniques that will increase Y, but the biggest factor in making sales is talking to as many people as you can about what you do/sell..

Develop a strategy, a technique, a spiel – then go do it, don't rethink it until you have done it a few hundred times.  New sales people rethink their strategy with every person they talk to – don't - it slows you down – maybe that person just did not need what you were selling today.  Think about it – If I can close 1 out of 20 people I talk to – BAMM – I am a happy camper.  That is 19 rejections (as perceived in YOUR head).  In reality, those 19 rejections are notifications of the business you are in – remember, they just may not need a plumber today.!.!   It’s a process we call "Filling the Pipeline".  Leave business cards, magnets cards, sticker cards - again - over and over.

Watch the habits of great sales people and/or sales companies; watch how telemarketing firms operate – they are selling factories.

Great sales people are always selling – selling is socializing.  That plumber we mentioned earlier should be socializing and networking as much as possible – no one needs a plumber until they NEED one – the plumber's name should be in the customer's head when need strikes – who wants to flip through the phone book when the pipes burst - I wanna call a friend.

I know two very successful landscapers, one in Florida and one in California – both are "involved" - a fancy way of saying "well connected" through a variety of networks and their networking efforts (Parties, Chambers, Mixers, etc..).

So let's start getting rejected - You will be amazed how little you care on your way to the bank!!!!

Stay tuned for Part Three – Sell, Sell, Sell – Technique.

Go back and Read Part One - Sell, Sell, Sell – Business Does Not Occur Until Transactions Occur.


December 18, 2011

Collaboration and Collaborating; You Should Be.

I need to go back into my early professional career to find my collaboration roots and knowledge source.  Large companies and smart people have been collaborating and training collaboration with their peers for as far back as my past brings me – even though they may not have called it such.  Collaboration is not a technical skill, it’s a mindset and attitude that can be used to more effectively achieve objectives.

Collaboration could be:
  • Sharing business tools with a non-competing business; like a lawyer and accountant.  Benefit being half the capital needs.
  • Sharing office space and costs with a non-competing business; like a lawyer and accountant.  Benefit being half the recurring cash needs.
  • Sharing marketing and sales expenses with a non-competing business; like a lawyer and accountant.  .  Benefit being half the exposure and risk.
  • Referring businesses based on their needs and your knowledge.  This makes you social and “in the know” by giving you the ability to talk to a prospect (not yours yet) about their needs and someone else’s expertise/service.  This goes to the point that people do business with people they like.
  • Sharing clients and referring clients to collaborative partners.  This being possibly the most difficult form of collaboration, but also the one with the greatest potential return.

I will expand on each of these different forms of collaboration over the next week or two as I roll out my newest/latest business venture(s) whose objectives may not be apparent by “just looking”.

read Next: Collaborating - Part One - Why Pay Twice - Getting Started


September 13, 2011

Sell, Sell, Sell - Part One - Business Does Not Occur Until Transactions Occur

I used to do volunteer counseling and training work for an organization called SCORE, the "Counselors to America's Small Business".  I primarily talked to start-up businesses about the ideas.

What amazed me about many budding entrepreneurs is that they make "going into business" more complex than it needs to be.  Going into business is not about finding a good accountant, not about having a lawyer nor is it about finding the right computer, right sign or right office location.  It is about selling and selling and selling some more.  I don’t need a plan but I need an idea and a set of business cards. Then what are we going to do – sell, sell, sell that idea! I make only one assumption here, that if you are planning on going into business, say the chocolate business, you know something about chocolate.  If you are lucky enough to be successful at selling, it then becomes time to think (while you are selling more) about those other things you need to do when you are in business - a plan.

So then, I should tell you more about selling.  Yes I will do so will in the very near future.  The thing to remember is selling is a Game of Numbers much more than technique.

Read my blog post Sell, Sell, Sell – Part Two – It's a Game of Numbers 

Happy Selling.


SCORE is a nonprofit association consisting primarily of retired executives and business owners (almost all volunteer) dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small business start, grow and succeed nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

September 11, 2011

Starting a Business Again

Even though I have not started a business for myself in years, the excitement and thrill is so there.  It’s not that I have been out of it for long, or even at all, but it has always been for someone else.  Over the last 4 years, I have done technical consulting; advertising consulting and volunteer consulting though SCORE as well as assisted my kids with their businesses when they let me.  Oh yea, I have had a little fun too; a few cross country motorcycle trips, summers in Maine and Saratoga, autumns in New England and springs in Austin.  Did I mention 5 grandchildren?

LightsOn is nothing new, the business is really the same as our Time4 operations ( in Maine, in Austin, in SoFla and www, in, well, it’s obvious); local products and services utilizing the Internet, rather than, in spite of the Internet.  We all provide the highest level of service and knowledge for our customer because that is what they are really buying from all of us; they are buying our knowledge and talents in helping them increase their business.

LightsOn Graphics has, what I believe is the most advanced, technically thorough and complete website for local printers there is.  We have considered selling it, but realized that the price would be higher than any local printer could afford (including us if we had not had the technical know-how in-house).

We don’t provide online design tools like some of our competition – this is choice, not the level of sophistication.  We believe in “touch” and today’s business person needs help at costs that will make them more money and waste less time; we don’t make anything from a template, we make YOU for REAL.

We believe in things like, BNI, LeTip, everyCircle, Successful Thinkers, and chambers as YOUR network makes YOU money.

Here I am, no traffic, no readers, no followers and no Likes - See you all soon.