Blog Archive

If you want to be totally balanced (in your job, with your friends and family, and in your life), it pretty much all boils down to the same basic set of rules. Here they are:

 

Life-balance

The 7 Key Strategies to Achieve Work-Life Balance:

1. Balance Family and Work Time.

When I was starting out, I was tempted to put all my waking hours into building my business. After a couple of months of this, my wife called me aside and told me I needed to make a decision. Did I want JUST a family, JUST a business, or BOTH? Since I certainly didn’t want to forsake either family OR business, I said both. She responded by saying that I needed to spend as much time with my family as I did on my business, about 40 hours/week to each (Ah-h-h, the wisdom of mothers). When I thought about it, it made perfect sense, though. Work days would be between 8:00 am and 6:00 pm. Family time would be in the early mornings and late evenings during weekdays and all day Saturday and Sunday. It turned out to be a fabulous arrangement, and though it took quite a bit of personal discipline at first, this division of work/family time served my business well and kept the home fires burning brightly.

2. Sleep. (That’s right, sleep.)

If you are the person who walks around bragging about how you only need four hours of sleep a night, you are fooling yourself. According to WebMD, just about everyone needs between six and eight hours of sleep to function at their optimal best. Too little sleep can make you ineffective, unhealthy, and overweight. To get your best night’s sleep, turn off all your electronics at least a half hour before you turn in and make sure your bedroom is cool, quiet, and dark.

3. Get up an hour earlier

Once you are getting enough sleep, it’s time to get up an hour earlier than you do now. Henry Ward Beecher’s quote: “The first hour is the rudder of the day – the Golden Hour” has become famous because it is true. If you start your day searching for your keys/papers/cell phone, rushing out the door, getting stuck in traffic, and arriving at your office already stressed out, there is a good chance that you will not have your most productive day. So get up an hour earlier and use that time to exercise, meditate, read something inspirational, or just sit and eat a mindful, leisurely breakfast. It will change the course of your day, and, in time, your life.

4. Eat Right

No, you don’t have to give up your wings and pizza. Just make sure you have five servings of fruits and vegetables with your daily meals. A serving is one half cup. It’s not an unreasonable amount and it will provide you with essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients and also leave you feeling fuller so you eat less of the other stuff. It will nourish both your brain and body.

5. Exercise

Exercise is essential if you want to have a sound body, mind, and spirit. If you’re one of those folks who hate taking time out for either exercise or meditation, try combining the two. I hope on my exercise bike almost every day, and while I’m on the bike I repeat affirmations using Louise Hay’s “Power Thought Cards.” That way I get a two-fer by combining the two, and you can too!

On the days when you think you have no time to exercise, remember – somebody busier than you is working out right now!

6. Never stop learning.

Information is everywhere. Don’t drown in it, use it. On the Internet, there are free online tools, books, and classes that can teach you everything from how to make the perfect cup of tea to how to program a computer. Take advantage of all that the Internet, continuing education, and your local library have to offer.

One great resource is Coursera, an education company that partners with top universities and organizations around the world to offer free online courses. They have over 500 courses that cover a broad range of topics including business, art, and science. Whether it is work related or strictly personal, the act of learning creates new neural pathways in your brain, exposes you to new ideas, and boosts your self-confidence. There is always more to learn about your profession, but don’t stop there — what have you always wanted to learn? learn A new language? A new sport? A new dance?

7. Practice.

In his book Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell puts forth the 10,000 hour rule that states: “to become an expert in a field of study, it merely takes 10,000 hours of focus and practice on the topic at hand.” So, if you want to become an expert at anything, it takes 20 hours a week for the next 10 years. Don’t have that much time? How about an hour a day for one year? You might not end up an expert, but if you spent 365 hours this year practicing the guitar how good would you be in a year? If you read one article each weekday about your profession, how far would those 260 hours take you in your job or your professional organization?

Bonus Tip: Cultivate Integrity.

Towards your family, friends, work colleagues, and, most important, yourself. Be true to your word. If you say the report will be finished by Friday, finish it. If you have a meeting at 9 am, be there and be fully present, not on your cell phone or computer. If you tell your child you will be at her baseball game, don’t let anything keep you from being there. Keep your promises. Especially the ones you make to yourself. If you say that this is the year you are going to lose weight, stop smoking, spend more time with your family or friends – then do it.

Are there more things you could do to balance your life and work? Sure. You can always focus your intentions so that you’re more positive, kind, bold, on time – the list is endless. There are very few truly balanced people in the world, but if you incorporate just the 8 tips listed above, you’ll be well on your way to becoming one of them.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

Free Career and Business Education
Ideas for Growing Your Influence Through Instagram
Combining Blogging and Social Media into a Truly Effective Strategy
5 Ways You Can Benefit By Using LinkedIn
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook

If you would like more information about our graphic and website design services, contact us. We’re pretty balanced in those areas, too!  😉

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of the best-of-the-best tips of each month by clicking here!

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How would you feel if a less-qualified competitor consistently ranks on page 1 of Google, while your company ends up on page 5 or 6?  If you’re like me, you’d probably think you’re missing out.

 

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Will Starting a Blog Help Grow Your Business?

When I redesigned my website about 18 months ago, my search engine ranking dropped from page 1 to page 3 or 6 depending on the search phrase. However, because I blog on business success topics at least weekly (sometimes more often), I very shortly noticed that I was back on page 1. That’s where you want to be to attract the most business too!

Clearly, starting a blog on your website can help you raise your search engine rankings. It will also help you increase your credibility and communicate more effectively with potential and current clients, staff, colleagues and even your competition.

Bottom line:

  1. If you blog regularly, people who are looking for your services will more easily be able to find you on the Internet, and
  2. Prospects and clients will appreciate the benefit of your wisdom.

What If You Can’t Write

As you may well know, everyone isn’t a writer. If your writing is not quite up to snuff it could actually harm your business more than help. However, there are plenty of solutions for would-be bloggers who can’t write. Three possible alternatives are included under the next point below.

Outsource Your Blog Content

This suggestion shocks a lot of people. It’s a little-known secret in the world of professional blogging that sometimes bloggers don’t actually write all of their own articles. Make a quick list of all the things you wish potential clients knew before they call your office. Each of those list items could be a potential blog post and it’s unlikely that you’re the only person in the world qualified to write those posts, right? Blogging once each week can increase your Internet search ranking and your credibility when you share helpful information. It doesn’t really matter who writes it.

Here’s a list of three of blog post writing services. I haven’t tried the others, but I’ve happily used BlogMutt for almost a year. They write 4 posts each month for me for $89.00/month. I usually have to do some minor (or major) editing, but they help me keep the ball rolling:

Blogmutt
Blog Hands
Writer Access

Hire a Good Editor

If you’re planning on writing your own blog posts but your writing is only okay and you have problems with grammar or spelling, consider hiring an editor. Even if you think you don’t have problems in this department, it’s a good idea to hire one. It’s no secret that even the best writers sometimes become blind to their own errors. (Me included.) Editing and writing are two separate skills and there’s no shame in getting a second pair of eyes on your work.

If you want your editor to provide commentary on the quality of the article, make sure you discuss this ahead of time because it’s generally outside the realm of editing to proofread for omitted details or content errors.

You Could Also Start a Video Blog

People consume a lot of video online. Are you more at ease in front of a camera than by the glow of a laptop screen? The important thing to focus on is keeping your videos short, under three minutes is a general rule-of-thumb; under one minute is even better. You can easily learn how to use a video editing software program or hire someone who does, because poorly edited (or non-edited) videos are less likely to be shared or liked.

Here are some tips to get you started:

  1. Track down a list of video bloggers in your field to see how their videos are edited.
  2. Adding music, special effects and scrolling text credits shouldn’t be your first concern.
  3. Focus on getting rid of awkward pauses and unnecessary off-topic rants.
  4. If your rants are off-topic but still interesting, consider turning them into separate videos.
  5. Include a copy of the text in written form with your video so that the search engines can correctly index your post.

If you’re thinking of getting a blog started to generate more business and increase your credibility, contact us to discuss the details. We can help you make this an easy process.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

Email Marketing: How to Keep Your Messages Out of Your Customer’s Spam Box
Five Marketing Questions You Need To Ask Yourself
200 of Google’s Website Ranking Factors [Infographic]
Combining Blogging and Social Media into a Truly Effective Strategy
5 Ways You Can Benefit By Using LinkedIn
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of the best-of-the-best tips of each month by clicking here!

”Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?

If your email newsletter is ending up in your customer’s spam box, your efforts at producing excellent communication are all in vain. How can you develop an email marketing strategy that will prevent this from happening?

 

As many of us know, email is a great marketing tool, allowing you to engage your customers and keep them informed about things they might be interested in, and many companies put considerable effort into their e-newsletter content.

 

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Consider these three tips:

1. Obey the Rules

If you are sending emails that are classified as spam, even your legitimate communications are likely to end up in the recipient’s spam filter. Many companies don’t realize that an email doesn’t have to be regular advertising to be classified as spam. Simply put, spam is any unsolicited commercial email. In other words, you can’t add your contact list to your email distribution list without having them opt-in to receive your email newsletter.

Additionally, each email must comply with the CAN-SPAM Act. This means you must have a way for recipients to unsubscribe within the email and take care of those requests promptly. CAN-SPAM requires that you include your full mailing address as well.

2. Communicate Clearly

Sometimes customers simply do not remember adding themselves to a distribution list. It’s a good idea to send a verification email after the initial opt-in request. It can simply say, “click this link, or reply to this message to be added to our list.” This process reminds your customer who you are, establishes that you are a trusted sender and verifies that they gave you a correct email address. Lastly, it gives you two ways to prove to a service provider that the person requested your communication if you get reported as a spammer. On another note, people are unlikely to report you as a spammer if it’s obvious how to unsubscribe. Make sure this feature is clearly communicated and not hidden.

3. Be Proactive

If you do receive an email bounce indicating your message was classified as spam, be proactive. The bounced message will usually contain the name of the service provider that bounced you. Visit their website or call customer service and inquire about the process for being removed from the blacklist.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

Email Marketing Trends for 2014
Five Marketing Questions You Need To Ask Yourself
200 of Google’s Website Ranking Factors [Infographic]
Combining Blogging and Social Media into a Truly Effective Strategy
5 Ways You Can Benefit By Using LinkedIn
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of the best-of-the-best tips of each month by clicking here!

”Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?

Success Secrets from World Class Entrepreneur, Rick Goldberg

Interview with Rick Goldberg

 

On making it in business

  • Surround yourself with an advisory team of smart people who will tell you the hard truths.
  • Believe in yourself and trust your gut instincts.
  • If you believe you can become the best at something, even if its underwater basket weaving, you’ll find the opportunity and you’ll succeed.

I discovered I was a terrible employee.

I started my company in 1992. I saw an opportunity to reinvent an industry that was already in existence, the creation of demonstrative evidence and exhibits in the area of litigation. So I saw an opening in the market to build a better mousetrap and went for it.

Did you have a business plan or did you just sort of jump in?

I just sort of jumped in. I was a producer at a production company predominantly doing music videos, television commercials, and short corporate films and videos. An attorney asked me if I could do a couple of things in the legal arena, first in video, and then in the graphics design. I said sure, knowing I would need to learn fast

I started bringing some legal business into the company that I was working for. The owner of that company, however, didn’t see a good balance between the production of music videos and legal videos. So, we shook hands, parted company, and I went off and started my own firm.

Rick’s thoughts on achieving success

I was and still am relentless, fearless, and tireless. When someone hired me, even though I have a team of 14 highly creative colleagues working with me; they always get me and my creative input. I was very meticulous, especially early on, about never letting work be seen by clients unless I saw it, tweaked it, and approved it. Essentially, I was the client and the staff knew that when it left the building, the paying client would like it.

If I had to work all night or all weekend, I’d do it. I would never say “no” to any job. If my team didn’t know how to do something in particular software, we would learn on the fly. I realized that if I said no to a piece of business, (based on schedule, money or the skill) that the client would go find someone who could do the work, and I may never see the client again.

I never said no. That’s the foundation of what got me to where I am today.

On specializing in one area:

When I started, I was doing work for ad agencies and record labels. I found those clients were extremely difficult to satisfy. Attorneys on the other hand were very accepting of our creative approach to solving their problems. Only a very small percentage has any interest in doing our type of work. As a result, they are eternally grateful for our relationship.

Specializing in the legal arena made sense at the time. It put me in an environment that I’m very comfortable with. I actually love working with attorneys.

On selling his company:

I sold my company in 2004 to a national firm, and signed a 5 year contract to run my division. I’m 3 and 1/2 years into that contract and am grateful as I work with a very knowledgeable group of men and woman around the country.

Rick’s reflections on the past:

Can’t go back, can I?   I would have done it the exact same way. I made tons of mistakes, but those mistakes shook up my life in a very meaningful way and got me here.

The “shake up” woke me up and helped me grow up. As a result, I started living my life consciously. I wouldn’t rewrite the script at all, I think it turned out great.

I’m reading a book right now. It’s called “Leadership and Self-Deception: getting out of the box” by the Arbinger Institute. In it, they talk about living inside the box versus living outside the box. Up until 3 or 4 years ago, I was living inside the box. Now I can clearly say that I’m awake, living life consciously, taking responsibility for my own actions, not blaming other people, and living, as the book says, ‘outside the box.’ I think you would enjoy the book. It’s a good metaphor.

Success tips for people just starting out:

Surround yourself with an advisory team of smart people who will tell you the hard truths. I’d also tell folks to believe in themselves and to trust their gut instincts.

In all walks of life, there is what I call people that comprise the fraternity of discouragement.

They drink from the glass that’s half empty. These people do not want to see you succeed. I say, do it and do it with love and passion. If a person believes they can become the best at something, even if its underwater basket weaving, they’ll find the opportunity and will succeed.

Distinguish between negative forces that are trying to discourage, deflate, and bring you down versus positive forces that wants’ to provide you with insightful feedback.

Contact The Sherwood Group if you’d like more information on how to make your goals a reality.

If you enjoyed this article, check out these others:

Why Your Company Doesn’t Need Online Marketing
4 Social Media Goals That Can Supercharge Your Business
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Bother Starting A Blog
3 Ways to Increase Your Business Without Resorting to SEO
How to Target Large Clients with Little to No Money
3 Lessons From The Entrepreneurship of Lemonade Stands
The 10 Most Watched Ads on YouTube in 2014
15 Website Mistakes You Should Avoid (Part 1)
5 Tips for Successful Business Networking
Is There Still Gold in Cold Calling?

The Sherwood Group, Advertising, Graphic Design & Website Design: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (including Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising, graphic design, and website design that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years after it’s done. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering, Now what do we do?” Give us a try on your next print advertising, graphic design, or website design project

Sign up for our monthly email newsletter of the best-of-the-best “Work Smart” tips of each month by clicking here!

”Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor!

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

The BIG question we sometimes find ourselves asking is, “How do I  bounce back from this business reversal?” We all find ourselves in this situation at one time or another. It’s something we prefer not to think about, but it eventually impacts all of us.

 

Graph of a business decline

 

Some reasons for a business reversal are:

  1. A change in a client’s management team.
  2. Acquisition of a client by a competitor.
  3. A client relocates to a distant location.
  4. You loose a key client.

How did you get there?

One way to manage a successful turnaround is to know how and why you got there in the first place. Once you pinpoint the cause of the reversal, you should be able to find a solution that will help you rectify the current challenge and avoid the same problem in the future:

  1. Have you been too busy for new business development?
  2. Do you you need a new list of prospects?
  3. Are your clients demanding related services that you don’t offer?
  4. Have you fallen behind in the tech requirements of your industry?

Some strategies for bouncing back after business reversal:

  1. Call old clients.
  2. Upgrade your skills.
  3. Call on new clients that can utilize your current skills.
  4. Consistently devote 20-25% of your time to new business development.

One key to bouncing back: market research.

Once you’ve experienced a business reversal, the last thing you want to do is continuing to do more of the same things. Remember: the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, and expecting different results. As such, it may be imperative that you change course. But how do you know which course to take? You can start by doing marketing research, and possibly working with a business coach or new business marketing team.

Apply the Vector Principal.

The Vector Principal states that if you offer new services to a new group of prospective clients, you’ll encounter all the problems associated with starting a new business. The only way you can avoid these sorts of start-up problems is by growing your business through either of the following strategies:

  1. Expanding the services you offer to your existing client base.
  2. Expanding your client base through the services you currently offer.

The bottom line:

The way to bounce back is to manage change as you would anything else in your life: no more of the same old status quo. Frankly, that’s what put you in a turnaround situation in the first place. Here are some ways to help you get going:

  1. Take some time to contemplate or meditate on your situation and its solution.
  2. Make a list of 20 different ways to correct your situation. (Don’t stop at 2, 3, or 4, ideas! Keep going until you have 20 ideas.)
  3. Trust your intuition when it comes to choosing the right strategy.

If you have questions about any of the above, you can ask me. I’m always willing to help.

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

How To Get The Business You Want
Email Marketing Trends for 2014
Five Marketing Questions You Need To Ask Yourself
Ideas for Growing Your Business Through Instagram
Combining Blogging and Social Media into a Truly Effective Strategy
5 Ways You Can Benefit By Using LinkedIn
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of the best-of-the-best tips of each month by clicking here!

”Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?

The first question most business owners ask themselves is, “If the key to building my company requires working with clients that I have great relationships with, how can I get the business from more of those kinds of clients?”

 

Business-you-want

The secret is in identifying a target market that resonates with you and your business style and going after them to get the business. To help you figure this out, complete the following exercise:

  1. On a sheet of paper list your current clients down the left side.
  2. Then across the top list the kinds of project you do.
  3. Put an X wherever the client and the type of project coincide.

Here’s one I did for my company to give you an example:

Biz-analysis

Download a pdf and AI version of the above form.

Notice that Client #5 uses almost every service that my firm offers. (BTW, all of the above are real clients.) Client #5, a manufacturing company, is clearly the type of client that will generate the most business for us. In addition, though websites top the list, advertising and brochures have substantial numbers too. This indicates that my firm has a strong affinity with clients who want websites, but from experience, I would market to clients who need all three if for no other reason than websites tend to be one-of projects whereas ads and brochures are constantly changing in a growing company such as Client #5.

Target your best prospects through research

Now that you’ve done the above exercise, you’ll have a good idea of your best types of clients and you’ll know what business segments to target where you’ll find your greatest success. Now you can go after your ideal clients and focus your advertising to them. In other words, you can now do Focused Targeted Marketing.

Here are some online resources for finding lists of viable prospects:

InfoUSA
Hoovers
Business Mailing Lists
The Business Journals
Your local chamber of commerce

What’s Next?

We recommend a 1-2 punch: A phone call followed by an email if you have the email address. Don’t take the easy way out and just email everyone or you’ll end up like the 50 to 100 solicitations that I receive every week… deleted without being read. Some years ago I had lunch with the creative director for DirecTV when they were still based here in Southern California. He made a comment that I’ll never forget. He said, “Do you know why I’m having lunch with you instead of any of the hundreds that are emailing me weekly soliciting my business?” I shook my head “No.” He responded, “It’s because you’re the only one who calls me to check in every couple of months.” That said, let’s move on to point #1 below:

1. Make a phone call to each prospect. And repeat this every 6 to 8 weeks with the most viable. Chances are when you call, you’ll be transferred to their voice mail. If so, leave a message like this:

Hello Bob. This is Will Sherwood calling from The Sherwood Group, Graphic Design and Web Design. We work with Iris Diagnostics and Advance Bionics, and as you may know, they do similar work as your company. I’m calling today to ask if you might have any projects in the works that we could estimate for you.

Since I have your email, I’ll send you a note in case it’s easier for you, but if you’d like to call me, my number, I’ll say it twice: 661-287-0017.

Thank you and I look forward to working with you in the future.

2. Send them an email with essentially the same message:

Hello Bob,

Sorry I missed you when I called today. You’ll recall that we work with Iris Diagnostics and Advance Bionics, and as you may know, they do similar work as your company. I wanted to ask if you might have any projects in the works that we could estimate for you?

Alternatively, might you have a few minutes when we could brainstorm ideas for your company’s success?

Thank you and I look forward to the possibility of working with you in the future.

Best regards,
Will Sherwood

Are You  Living the Good Life?

Every now and then we all get stuck in a rut. Generating the business you want involves some effort and time. More importantly, it involves working with people outside of your comfort zone. However, it’s worth it. So, pick up the phone and make those calls!

If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to check out these others:

Email Marketing Trends for 2014
Five Marketing Questions You Need To Ask Yourself
Ideas for Growing Your Business Through Instagram
Combining Blogging and Social Media into a Truly Effective Strategy
5 Ways You Can Benefit By Using LinkedIn
How To Amp Up Your Visibility With Facebook

Sign up for our monthly newsletter of the best-of-the-best tips of each month by clicking here!

”Like” us and/or “Follow” us at these social media sites and we’ll return the favor:

Google+ | LinkedIn | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest

Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?


© 2013 - The Sherwood Group
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