Friday’s Motivational Sermon: How to NOT Fail

woman hiking photo

Motivation is the key to success. And sometimes I firmly believe we need to be inspired again, as in, refueled with reminders of what it means to be motivated. So sometimes, in my darkest hours, I watch videos which inspire me.

This is an old favorite I lean on. It is called “why do we fail?” It really pumps me up.

You control whether you succeed or whether you fail. It is your choice. And know this, if you give yourself no option to fail, you won’t.

From everyone here at Check Issuing, we wish you the absolute best weekend! Enjoy it! Get outside, get some sunshine if at all possible. Enjoy friends and family.

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The Business of Being a Freelance Contractor (explained)

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The world of freelance is as complicated and trying as it is invigorating and freeing. Everyone loves to work by their own rules, from their own homes or destinations; it’s the complicated portion that makes it all too often, undesirable.

But for many of us, freelance is a way of life. Our skills, our core competency, lend themselves perfectly to the freelance world. Freelancers typically operate alone, so they call the shots. But that can also lead to issues.

So let’s uncomplicate the world of freelance.

Manage your money: The term “freelance” also doubles for “sometimes you might be broke.” Because freelance work is fickle and has many ebbs and flows, you must know how to manage your cash accordingly. What you are making NOW shouldn’t adjust your lifestyle. Your lifestyle’s spending should be tied to what you think you make over a long stretch of time. This will prevent unnecessary spending that will haunt you during downtime. Often times freelancers dig financial holes and due to their cash struggles, have to take jobs they don’t want at prices they don’t normally accept. That’s called desperation. And that’s no good for any freelancer. So manage that cash.

Don’t give up on the future: Often times, freelancers get comfortable when they have “enough work.” But what if that work goes away? Being prepared is everything. You don’t want to take on more than you can accomplish, but you also never want to stop looking at future opportunities to help you replace clients who may drop off.

Be disciplined: Learning to deal with “freedom from clocking in” can be pretty exciting. It can also be a trap. It is always important to make sure you develop real schedules so that you don’t get lost in “missing work.” Set time aside for projects. Make use of calendars. Set goals. Achieve goals. You catch my drift?

Ask for help (sometimes): This is one of the biggest mistakes I see freelancers make. They want to do everything themselves because that means they keep all of the earnings. Sounds good, until the quality of your output suffers and you lose clients. Having a client for two years and paying out extra contract help is better than keeping all that cash for only one month’s time.

Freelance work is very fulfilling, but if not managed correctly, it will turn out to be a fleeting experience and put you right back to where you started (clocking in). Learn to manage it correctly and you will end up living a life more free than you ever anticipated it would be.

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4 Inexpensive Ways to Advertise Your Brand

speeches photoBusiness owners are always looking for the cheapest solutions to get the most bang for their advertising buck. These days, low costs advertising is at a premium. Running ad campaigns can be incredibly expensive. Some businesses like to either supplement advertising with low-cost ways or even just live completely from low-cost advertising methods.

No matter which way suits your business, you need to know how to find that lower cost advertising so that you have the option.

Create Viral Content: This is always one of the most popular low-cost advertising methods discussed. But here’s the thing – it isn’t always low-cost. Some viral videos can cost a lot of money in production and post-production. Not all viral content is low-cost, in other words. So first things first: figure out creative ideas which lend themself to very little overhead. Your ideas should be something you can do in-house with equipment you already own. iPhones have great video cameras. In order to make something viral, you really need a launching point. Maybe your employees would be kind enough to share on their own social media?

Give Speeches: Speeches are the newest, trendiest way to spread the word about your product. If you are in the web design business, you might want to look for venues, trade shows, and ask them if they need free speakers. This will help brand your business. There is also the Ted X option if your industry expertise is that interesting.

Attend a Forum: Forums can be costly, between hotel, flights, and buying passes. However, some forums may be in your area. Some may have networking events which don’t even require passes, such as happy hours. If you are savvy, you can find opportunity to spread the word about your business this way.

Give Employees, Clients, Customers some swag: Do your employees love working for you? Do your clients and customers enjoy your services and products? If so, they might be willing to wear some shirts with your brand on them, or even drink their coffee from your brand’s mugs. Often times, T-Shirts and coffee mugs can be created on the cheap, particularly using one of the many Internet resources, such as Cafepress.com.

Branding and advertising can be a costly venture, so learning how to take less of a financial hit is the essence of savvy, affordable marketing.

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How To Change Bad Habits That Harm Our Business Evolution

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Business is all about progress, creativity and an eventual evolution. We seek out brighter pastures always. We want to make our products and services better all the time. Unfortunately, that’s easier said than done.

One of the main hurdles business owners and executives face is….themselves. That’s right, as difficult as that is to admit, sometimes we are our own worst enemies. Even us guys and gals at Check Issuing have to “check ourselves” occasionally (I’m sorry, I had to).

Years ago, I realized that bad habits were holding me back. But I always underestimated bad habits because in the end, I never wanted to admit all my faults. Bad habits are different from person to person, but breaking them may be a similar experience for us all. For me, a bad habit was my use of social media. Sitting on Facebook all day just isn’t going to get it done! Another was not scheduling appropriately and feeling a sense of “chaos” whenever I looked at my days or weeks ahead. I allowed tasks and projects to sneak up on me. Procrastination is a big perilous bad habit for many executives.

So how do we break them?

First, we gotta recognize! Yep, figure out what they are. What behaviors consistently hold you back from achieving your goals. Own it. Once you diagnose behaviors you want to change, you can begin changing them.

Don’t beat yourself up. So you know your bad habits, the first step to curing them is to NOT get down on yourself, otherwise you will feel overwhelmed by the circumstances. You don’t want to make changing your behaviors feel like you are flying to the moon.

Write it down. Visually recognize the issue. “I spend too much time on Facebook.” Now you see the issue, you can begin solving it.

Research it. Don’t be afraid to ask Google. These days, people posts their issues alongside solutions all over the web. Believe me, many people spend too much time on social media. There are all kinds of solutions available, including software which can help.

Be attentive to the issue on a daily basis. When you wake up, recognize the issue. Be aware that avoiding the behavior for that day will help you increase productivity. If your bad habit is not going to be early enough, the morning might be too late! But you get the idea.

Don’t get discouraged when you fall back into old ways. You already admitted the issue. You diagnosed it. You wrote it down. Now all you have to do is jump back on the wagon!

We all have bad habits. And for some of us, those bad habits may dies slowly, but they do die!

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BUSINESS: Easy Ways To Learn What Customers and Clients Want

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Customers and clients are at a premium these days. As a business owner, you count every penny that comes through that front door. You want to make sure that you are not only growing with new customers and clients, but that you are optimizing the current client and customer base you have.

The true value in clients and customers comes down to knowing who the heck they are and what they like; oh, and what they think of you. Knowing this information is vital to your company’s evolution. When you know what your customers like and how they react to your products and services, you are able to repurpose, rebrand and rebuild. You waste less time and resources. You fail a little bit less.

But how does one “get to know the customer?”

Well, let’s have a look at a few good ways.

Do you mail checks to your customers or clients? If you do, you can always slide in a survey for them to complete. To help incentivize the completion of the surveys, you could offer them future discounts. At Check Issuing, our check writing service automatically allows clients to put memorandums, surveys and anything else inside the check envelopes. Everyone opens envelopes when they contain money, so viewership of your survey is really no issue. That’s not the same response when you email or mail (without a check). People simply don’t have to open their emails and many people toss mail that doesn’t seem important.

You can email them. Wait, didn’t I just say that wasn’t so great? No, I said using a check writing service to slide in a survey has better results per mailer. But that doesn’t mean email doesn’t work. For one, every person or entity that you do business with might not even get a check. And for two, email is expansive and broad. You can get a lot of messaging out to a lot of people using email. But when it comes to email, best practices matter. Be honest and succinct in the subject line. Make sure you are emailing people who would most likely be interested in your survey (current clients and customers). Maybe offer them something in return like a discount? People love discounts and free things…they just do!

Set up focus groups. Yes, this is much more complex, but there are services which can help you do this. This option is geared more towards companies which are already pretty profitable as such an endeavor might be costly. Focus groups allow you to see exactly how a customer responds and interacts and engages your product line. Such information is invaluable.

Maybe you want the help of Check Issuing? Sure, we aren’t going to run a focus group for you, but we can certainly help your company disseminate a survey or questionnaire in a check envelope (securely, we might add).

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Another Week Down. Let’s Recap. And Let’s … FUN

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Another wonderful week is in the books. So what did we learn this week? Well, lots, actually: On Monday, we learned how to become a better leader. Wasn’t that fun? Then we moved on to explore approaching new vendor relationships. That was pretty rad.  Are you type A and if so how bad is it? I would say that is a good thing to know and be aware of. But…

We don’t want to be all business all the time, though, that’s just not healthy. And Fridays as good of an excuse as any to have a little fun.

So instead, let’s watch what happens when a moon gets loose in a city in China (yep, that’s what I said).

That was fun, wasn’t it? I knew you’d love it.

Make sure you take some time this weekend for yourself. Enjoy the family. Have a drink with some friends. Don’t do too much laptop. DO too much Netflix.

And hey, if you aren’t already a Check Issuing client, how about we schedule a time to talk next week? That is, if you are free!

Photo by Jackal1

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Is Your Type A Personality Really THAT Bad? Find Out Inside.

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You often hear about the dark underbelly world of the Type A personality. The guy or girl you frequently grind with is “Type A.” But what does Type A really mean? Are you Type A? And is it a good thing?

Let’s explore.

You are often called a perfectionist by your friends: Sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. You are a perfectionist. And your friends darn sure know it. In fact, they often tell you that your way of life is a little “stressful.” But in the depths of perfectionism lies a resilience that is undeniably a strong factor when it comes to success. To be successful is to be always seeking to make things better. That’s what perfectionist strive for: something better. You product’s core infrastructure should always be moving to lighter methods. Your customer service should get more friendly and up sell more people. That’s perfectionism. And it sure is awesome.

You tend to be a little (or a lot) domineering: Type A people are often associated with overbearing personalities. While that can turn off friends and families, it can also help speed up production. Type A personality means you want to control scenarios. One must be confident in directives if they intend to lead the troops down the path of success.

You aren’t patient: “Good things come to those who wait.” That’s the mantra we so often hear. But how true is it really? In some business cases, patience just means you are pushing an idea way too late. And being late to the show never did anyone any favors.

You are competitive: You don’t like to lose, even at foosball or cards. Company game night has people not wanting to be near you. Wanting to win is a huge Type A trait. It means you won’t settle for second place. Because you know there is no glory for losers. That trait serves as your fuel to accomplish great things.

You are goal oriented: You set out on a mission with an end goal in mind. You are achievement-oriented. You are only satisfied when you achieve that goal. You believe that setting goals are crucial in terms of success.

The real downside to Type A personality is health. Heart issues such as heart attacks are known to be related to this personality trait. Type A people need to take their health serious. Don’t over caffeinate and make sure to eat healthy and exercise. Taking downtime, meditation and yoga are all great remedies.

Being Type A is a good thing. It’s a great thing. Well, so long as it is managed appropriately.

 

Photo by Gerry Dincher

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BUSINESS: How To Approach New Vendor Relationships

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Choosing a new vendor or third-party service, such as a check writing service (hint, hint), can sometimes be a complicated matter. Vendors and third-party services can be excellent partners, or they can serve to make your life hell. And no one wants the latter. That’s because hell is very hot (or so I’ve heard).

So then what’s the best way to find partners from the big scary outside world without ruining the decor?

Your new partner should “get you:” Make no mistake about it, just because they are a third-party service doesn’t mean they should be aloof to your company’s philosophy. They should be up to speed on what your corporate goals are. They should have an understanding as to the temperature of the current climate.

How does one do this? Well, through meetings, of course! Meetings aren’t the most thrilling part of anyone’s day, but it sure does help when it comes to getting to know new folks. Going to dinner is another way to make the situation of a “meeting” much more bearable and may allow for a more loose environment.

Don’t overcommit: Hey, maybe you don’t need to sign that 10 year deal with a Keurig coffee cup provider. Trial runs can be your best friend when you are just getting to know a new business. It shouldn’t seem like an insult to them either, because hey, they should want to get to know you as well.

Beware of big promises: If someone is making grandiose promises as a way to attract your business, then “buyer beware” as the saying goes. If they can’t even be honest with you to start, why would they be when they have the account? The moon is unavailable my friends, so move on from anyone who is promising it to you.

Check references: Don’t be afraid to ask them for references. If they have them listed on their site as clients, reach out and kindly ask how the relationship has been. The new vendor will respect you for it. If they don’t, well, we are back to the old “buyer beware” saying.

New vendors are like new love interests. It’s best to start with coffee and shoot from the hip. Confusion down the road will only serve to create stress which could have been avoided.

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How To Become a Better Leader

leader photo

Photo by thinkpublic

Being a leader is essential if you want to create innovation. Leaders start businesses, they don’t follow along as the road is being paved. But being a leader is a trait all on its own. Being a leader is a skill. Much like any skill, the foundation is built through practice and refinement. Some people are natural leaders while others need to practice and learn.

So how does one become a better leader? Well, not easily, but nothing is easy.

Get Confident: Stop consistently second guessing yourself. Waffling, as it is loosely termed, leads to a lack of respect among peers. Educate yourself on matters and then be assertive when it comes to your time to discuss ideas, thoughts and direction. You don’t want to be assertive over matters you know nothing about, rather, over matters you do understand. People who lack confidence often fold up like a lawn chair even when they are fully versed in a subject.

Admit when you need help: When a leader needs help, they become expert delegators. You never want to steer a ship to the bottom of the sea. Leaders know when and who to go to for help. Realize the skill sets of those who surround you. Understand when you should utilize your networking contacts. Don’t hesitate to get third-party help (like Check Issuing) when you feel overwhelmed. Decision making is the key to leadership.

Take Martial Arts: Jiu jitsu, muay thai, boxing. These are all physical arts which build confidence. You learn to endure. You learn to compete. You learn that a loss is OK, but only if you get up and bounce back from it. No, I am not talking about getting your teeth knocked out. Nice jiu jitsu or boxing clubs aren’t “meathead” gyms. They understand you aren’t their to become a professional fighter. Some light sparring, maybe, but not injury. This is also perfect for losing some daily stress.

WATCH this guy.

Leadership is a skill. Practice and refine, then practice some more.

 

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Apple’s iPhone 7 is here. But is it a Mistake?

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Apple’s latest version of their famous iPhone has been introduced and will hit store shelves in less than a couple of weeks. But not everyone is incredibly thrilled by the new version (because of course they aren’t).

Have a look for yourself.

So why is everyone so darn mad? Well, they’ve removed headphone jacks and instead, give you wireless headphones which look like this:

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I won’t ever lose those. I mean I will always lose those. That’s almost a given. Now, the phone will allow you to use headphones, you will just be limited by an adapter. Apple feels strongly they are making the right move pushing out the wire laden headphones. Hey, they’ve been right before, haven’t they? Some people thought it would be crazy to buy a phone that also played music on it.

Maybe Apple is just ahead of the game? That’s quite possible. But they also possibly shot themselves in their proverbial foot.

All the same, we don’t suggest you run out and buy one just yet. Maybe let a few friends test them out, if you catch my drift.

Oh and hey, have a wonderful weekend my friends. Take it easy. Relax. Sleep in. Watch some Netflix.

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