Category Archives: Business

Figuring Out Who You Can Trust

My wife has this obsession with our roof. The problem first came to fruition during the worst rain storm the Syracuse area had in decades in 2002, when the entire area flooded. Our house was no different, and the roof didn’t handle things all that well; neither did the basement for that matter.

The issue with us was that when we bought the house, the realtor had recommended someone to do our roof for us, and we paid these guys $3,500. We had no idea what they did until later, and even now I’m not really sure what any of it means. This is the first real house I’ve ever lived in, so you can bet I’m not technically savvy.

We had to contact the attorney general to find this guy the first time, and he came back, did some kind of patch job, and fixed the ceiling in the master bedroom, doing a lousy job. A couple of years later we had another storm, not as bad as the first one, and it exposed a couple more spots, but by this time the guy and his partner was long gone. My wife took out a loan, we had some minor stuff done, and no more leaks in the house.

But we still have roof issues. She brought in one guy who did some roof work, but not the type of work I was expecting, and we probably paid him close to $8,000. We paid another guy $10,000, thinking he would take care of us because we knew him, and he did good work; only his work only covered one section of the house, which was about a quarter of the entire house. Nope, didn’t see that coming.

Over the past two years, we’ve had a bunch of people come to the house to give us estimates on what it might cost to get our roof taken care of. Last January, a guy came to the house to do some other work, took a look at the roof, and quoted us $18,000. Last summer another guy came with his wife, spent 3 hours with my wife (I didn’t want to be a part of it), and quoted a price of $29,500; we’re not quite that foolish anymore. We’ve had other people come by and never heard from them again; not a phone call, email regular letter, nothing; what the hey?

Last week we had two more guys come by to give us estimates. One guy said we needed so much work that he recommended a contractor to farm the job out to; that didn’t sound good. The second guy… well, maybe. He did his review, then came into the house, and I finally went out to sit in on the conversation. To be truthful, I’d never sat in on any of the other conversations because I always had a bad feeling about the people coming in to do the work, even the guy I knew.

His price; $8,800. He used a lot of terms I didn’t know, but my wife knew. Then he gave me a pamphlet which explained all the terms he was using; that was good. He said his company would guarantee the work for 30 years; that was nice. I asked him about the look of our roof, as it has a couple of places where it looks like it dips, and he said that had nothing to do with leakage and that it was common, and if that was a big deal then it would require a full reconstruction, which would get as high as $25,000, but that it wasn’t needed; I liked that answer also, and my wife said it was the first time anyone had ever said that.

Now, here’s the deal. At the end of the day, I still had to ask myself if I trusted him. With the wide array of prices, does the 30 year guarantee make one more trustworthy than the others? I can’t even say if the company is well known or not; I don’t know any roofing companies to say if they’ve been around a long time (okay, I know one, but I also know that one company is fairly steep, since they did the guy’s roof across the street, and they had to fix it 3 times before they got it right).

It’s the question I ask myself in wondering why I don’t have more sales on some of my other pages, or even here. Heck, my workshop next week doesn’t have as many people coming as I’d have liked, and I wonder if it’s a matter of trust, recognition, or just that people aren’t as interested in the topics as they seemed to indicate when we did our survey. I wonder if most of us don’t ask that question enough when we’re marketing to the masses. In today’s online world, where each of us has lots of people we’re competing with in some fashion, is there a way we can find to show that we’re trustworthy enough so that we might make more online sales?

Something to think about as you get on with your day.

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Why I Created A Facebook Fan Page

After over a year of thinking about it, I finally created my first Facebook fan page. Actually, officially Facebook has moved away from the term “fan” and just calls is a Facebook page. I like that also because thinking about having people become “fans” of mine, rather asking them to do it, just seemed so narcissistic; definitely not normally my style. Anyway, it’s under the name of my business site, so if you’re on Facebook and would like to take a look, check out T. T. Mitchell Consulting, Inc, which is my main business name.

Why did I create this page? After all, I’ve had to think about it for so long that you’d think anything I had to basically convince myself to do that I probably would walk away from it. That’s my normal pattern, for sure.

Truthfully, it was an impulse decision. There was some research and thought over all this time, and the truth is that I’m now looking to push all aspects of my business just a bit further than I already have. After all, with my other site, I talk about helping businesses find ways to maximize their online presence. Turns out that, for SEO purposes, creating a page to link to your business is more effective than creating a group page. I don’t know why, but there’s some history out there, so it makes some sense. Kind of like some folks and Squidoo pages.

However, Squidoo just doesn’t work for me personally; can’t really say why. I wasn’t sure Facebook would work for me either, but I have more than 300 friends there, or do I believe, and that’s more than I would have on Squidoo.

I also know you’re probably remembering what I had to say about Facebook group pages, but since the focus is much different, and what I’ll be doing is much different, I don’t really need participation on that page as much as people just seeing what’s going on with me.

What do you do? You go to a page like this, where it tells you what you’ll be getting, kind of, and then there’s a link that says “create a page.” You click that, and follow the instructions, which is to answer a few questions, and you’re on your way.

Okay, that’s not quite it. I wasn’t sure what to do with my page once it was first created because unlike a group, you can’t just start writing all sorts of stuff in free form. Groups aren’t supposed to be for advertising purposes anyway, and since pages are, they’re trying to keep you in some kind of format. What did I do? I contacted one of my friends, Shirley Frazier of Solo Business Marketing, for some assistance.

Basically, what she said was to add all my business and product links to the page so people would know what to follow and look at if they came to the page. Also, you can write something on your wall, and I also wrote a message in the discussion area. I’ve told people they can write comments, ask questions in the discussion area, and I’ll answer whatever I can. I added all my business links, which consisted of three websites and 3 blogs. I have other sites, but I’m not considering any of those business related, per se, so I won’t be adding those. I added a link to my newsletter page and my books and CD, and samples of my articles.

Then, instead of doing a blast out to all my friends, which just didn’t feel right for me to do, I wrote on my status wall that I’d created it and asked people to take a look. Yeah, I know, I get tons of page suggestions all the time, but I just didn’t want to do that back to anyone. My friend Kelvin says I’m not thinking like a business marketer, since I am talking about my business, and he’s probably right, but so be it. I’m writing about it here, I put it on Twitter, and I’ll put it on LinkedIn, and I think that’ll be enough.

Anyway, I hope you check it out, if you’re on Facebook; thanks.

Prioritizing Your Projects

Well, this is rare for me. I haven’t written a new blog post since Monday, and here it is Friday. What’s going on?

I have many projects going on at this time, so much so that I’ve neglected this blog for the time being. As some of you know, I was out of town many days last week, even though I was able to keep up with blog posts at that time. I wrote a few posts ahead of time so I could concentrate on my big paying project.


Time Flies
Time Flies

Well, this week I’ve been working on catching up on all my other projects that bring in money, along with trying to finish up the big project so I can get paid for that and move on. Many of my other projects involve writing, which means research at the same time, and while researching that stuff I was able to keep up, to a degree, with my other blogs in some fashion. But I’ve kind of missed out on this one, so I apologize for that.

However, it brings up the point of how people prioritize their projects. For me, it starts with what’s paying, and how much, and how fast. Just to throw some false numbers out, if it comes down to working on the project that not only pays multiple thousands of dollars, but faster than the multiple hundreds of dollars, even if the hundreds has been more consistent money, I’m going with the big bucks first. Next is the consistent money, because one doesn’t treat anyone as second class clients. After that you take care of yourself, because, if you’re me, taking care of myself could end up bringing in money also.

Right now where I’m lacking is that I don’t have my PDA anymore. It broke, and I haven’t purchased a new one yet. I’ve been balking because when I bought the thing two years ago it only cost me $130, and now that they’ve discontinued it, but still have it on the market, some places are charging upwards of $399 for it; no way! However, I used to use it for all my planning and note taking and portable record keeping and address book, and now I have none of that. It makes doing much of what I want to do harder to keep up with.

How do most of you handle your projects overall, since I assume most of you don’t have a PDA? Or do you just work haphazardly? Something to think about, and I’d love reading your answers.
 

Sunday Question – How Far Will You Go To Be Successful?

First, I hope everyone who’s celebrating whichever holiday you believe in has a good one.

I have two friends I’d like to talk a little bit about today. Both are very successful people, both are millionaires a few times over.

My one friend is a really interesting case. He has a Ph.D. in Nursing. He owns a hotel, two restaurants, two buildings, two houses in the same city, another house in Mexico, and two other businesses. He might have another house somewhere; I’ve never asked. He works hard and he plays hard. He travels all over the country and lives in hotels most of the time. When he goes on vacation, it’s not to resort cities like Cozumel for relaxation. He vacations hard; he takes 3 week trips and goes to places like the jungles of Costa Rica and Vietnam, or rides rickety trains like the Orient Express into places like Mongolia and many of the former USSR countries. He’s a very engaging guy, very knowledgeable, but sometimes doesn’t know how to turn it off and just relax and talk about other things.

My other friend is actually more interesting, if that’s possible. She was born in another country whose name is no longer known by most people, and came to America with little money and a couple of little kids. She’s had two businesses that made her wealthy, and is now in real estate, where, despite all the troubles the industry had last year, she actually made out very well and had a multimillion dollar year. She has houses in multiple states as well, and is another person who puts in tons of hours working. She also pays for a life coach, very big dollars, who she talks to every day because he holds her accountable for everything she does. And for the most part her work day, every day, runs from 6AM to 9PM.

These two people are driven, that’s for sure. I like both of them; I just don’t know that I could be like both of them. Sure, I want to be rich, but I also kind of want to do it on my own terms. I don’t mind hard work, but I’ve found that, after many years of working a lot of hours for others, that I need a bit more work/life balance. Both of these people are exhilarated by what they do, but I have to tell you the truth; just thinking about it makes me tired.

It begs the question I asked in the title; how far are you willing to go to be successful? In a weird way, I guess I should talk. I’ve been working for myself since 2001, and there are days when I put in 18 hours on the computer. In January and February of 2009, I was working on a project that consumed 20 hours a day, and in one stretch I didn’t go to bed for two days, trying to complete the project on time. I got paid well for that, but I knew that wasn’t a pace I’d ever be able to keep up for long periods of time.

At the same time, there are also some major compromises that one sometimes has to give up to be that kind of successful. I’m not one who genuflects well; I need the same kind of respect that I’m giving, or else I’m out of there. After all, I’m an incorporated business; I’m legitimately the CEO of my company, which has multiple divisions. No, I’m nowhere close to millionaire status, but by title and by having given my own version of sweat and blood to the cause, I feel that I’m at least the equal of anyone else I meet, financial background notwithstanding.

Now to you; how do you answer this question on this Sunday that’s so special for so many, while also being the 42nd year of the assassination of Dr. King?

The Assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King JR.








Different Degrees Of Gaming The System

Suffice it to say, many of us write our blogs and hope to find a loyal audience. To get a portion of that loyal audience, something else we do is visit each other’s blogs and, when we can, we write comments on those blogs. It not only helps us in potentially getting people to follow the link back to you, but it helps them because not only are you contributing to the community, but you’re also helping their community grow. It seems that people love commenting on blogs that show some kind of activity.

If you wanted to, you could say that’s a way to “game the system”. I don’t necessarily believe it, but the truth is that it’s nice knowing there are some people who have your back from time to time.

However, I’m betting most of us can’t compare to what’s been reported about the Chinese government. It seems that China wants to change its reputation around the world in the worst way (so many ways to go on this one). So what they’ve done is hired 280,000 people to write good things about the country. Not only on their own blog, but on other websites that even mention China:vacation sites, political sites, product sites… you name it.

This isn’t new, really. How many folks remember the tale of Belkin, a company that was caught having its own employees review their products in many places, including eBay and Amazon, favorably, until someone found an internal memo and leaked it? It’s that sort of thing that brought about the FCC’s new policy on disclosure.

At the same time, who can compete with 280,000 people being paid to say nice things about you, other than India? That’s really gaming the system, and that’s just not right. I mean, almost no one here would be upset to get that kind of great press for their blogs or websites, but at the end of the day, it’s disingenuous, false, and no one benefits from it, including the person being talked about.

How do you feel about this one? Am I wrong?

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