Category Archives: Business

How Do You Work Projects?

First, I’d like to point to another guest post of mine, this time on Rose’s Blogger Talk blog, the topic of which is Why Have A Business Blog. Thanks for the opportunity, Rose.

I’m presently working on a big health care project. It’s a short term project, but there’s a lot of technical numerical information that I have to get through to get it completed. I actually love working on things with this kind of detail, and I’m glad to have another big project after such a long time.

There’s always the question of how people work projects. I’ve changed up from how I’ve done things in the past this time around. Usually I plow my way through things, not giving any time to anything else, until it’s done. This time around, I’m spacing things out somewhat, giving my mind some mental breaks here and there. I’m doing that because not only do I want to make sure I don’t make any mistakes, but I know there are a couple of areas that are going to take me longer to get through than other parts.

This isn’t a project of my own doing, however. In May, I’m going to be doing a presentation on customer service, one day a regular seminar, the next day a webinar on the same thing. I’ll be advertising it once we’ve solidified where we’re having it. Anyway, I had to put together an outline for what I wanted to talk about, which was going to help with advertising.

This was one of those times where, once I started, I had to get through the entire thing, and, me being me, it took just about an hour to actually write the entire outline, which was 80 lines or so. Outlines are my way of doing most things when I get a chance. When I’ve created my websites, I’ve always written an outline first, as well as sketched the design. When I wrote my books and ebooks, I went with an outline. Every live presentation I do starts with an outline.

Thing is, I know people do all sorts of things. For instance, I know a writer of fiction who, before he starts writing, always writes biographies for as many people as he figures he knows are going to be in his story. If he ends up introducing new characters, he’ll stop writing the story and write a biography on the new character.

I also know a lot of people who don’t plan anything. They just start projects and believe that things will come together. Of course, those are the people who most often end up having to start all over, but if that’s their way, so be it.

How do you work on projects? I’d really like to know if there are other ways people get things done.

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Expert, Specialist, Professional Or Hack?

Last night I went to a local networking event that turned into a presentation. It was put on by a group called Syracuse First, an organization whose initiative is to get people to buy and spend their money locally to enhance the area. Supposedly, studies have been shown that when you spend your money with local companies, they tend to put 73% of it back into the community, whereas spending money at large places such as Walmart sends money out of your state and into other people’s pockets. It’s a great initiative.

Anyway, the networking event also turned into a presentation on social media, which I wasn’t expecting, but it wasn’t all that bad. One of the presenters, a buddy of mine named Paddy (no, not his real name), who runs a company and blog called ODX Fusion, began his portion by saying he wasn’t an expert, because most of social media was new and there were so many outlets that there was no way one person could actually know them all. He announced that instead he was a professional because he helped his clients figure out how to use certain social media outlets to their advantage.

My wife was there with me and she asked me if I was an expert. I told her I wasn’t an expert, but considered myself as a specialist. However, I realized that on my SEO website I list myself as an internet marketing consultant for small businesses, and that I do a lot of what my friend Paddy does. And yeah, he’s higher than me on Google for the term locally; have to work on that (I’m higher on Yahoo and Bing, though). lol

Overall, I was thinking that, in a way, it doesn’t matter all that much what we call ourselves. There are really two things that matter. One, how proficient are we in the things we do know, so that we can tell our readers and potential customers how to use these things to their advantage. Two, can we live up to whatever perception it is that we decide to allow others to have of us, whether we say we’re this or that or not.

For instance, among my friends I’m the computer / internet / social media expert; there’s not even a question in most of their minds. Yet, I’ve never told anyone I was an expert at anything. Sure, there’s a lot of stuff I can do. I’ve fixed a lot of computers and come up with some ingenious things every once in awhile, but there are things such as never replacing a motherboard or power source that I’ve never done. I don’t consider those as acceptable risks I want to be liable for, even though I’ve pretty much done everything else. Last week my wife’s hard drive just up and quit, and none of the tricks I knew worked, including putting it in the freezer. No information retrieval, and unlike my computer hers had never been backed up; I wasn’t feeling all that much of an expert last week.

Every once in awhile I wonder how I can call myself a social media specialist when there are so many new things out there that I don’t even know about, let alone know how to use. I mean, have you checked out Ching Ya’s blog and seen some of the things she talks about? Wow!

Then I come back to the reality that I know about a lot of them, at least in passing, and made a determination that it wasn’t a direction I personally wanted to go. Kind of like in my post the other day on creatures of our generations, I’ve determined that my own sensibilities just don’t fit certain things. Yet, I do know about them, and if I’m talking to a client or potential client I mention these things, give an unbiased opinion on them unless they ask me if I use them, in which case I tell the truth, and let them make their own decisions about it.

I can build website, but I know nothing about flash. I’ve often wondered if that negates my claim of being able to do all sorts of websites until I realized that the reason I’ve never learned flash is because I’m not a designer. In other words, I can create functional websites and I can suggest colors and maybe a few different layouts. But if someone wanted a fancy splash page, or wanted a cool template, that’s beyond my mental capabilities.


Rolling Hills
Rolling Hills

As a kid, I drew two types of pictures all the time. One was my belief of what an idyllic scene would be, with a rolling hill, a sun in the corner, V-birds in the sky with a couple of clouds, a few trees, a pond, maybe a couple of flowers, and a house with one door and one big window in the middle on the second level; that’s what comes from never living in a house. The other was where I’d take my ruler and just draw straight lines, sometimes intersecting, sometimes not, then coloring each box I had left with different colors until every box had a new color. And there was a mathematical progression in it all, such that one day I put 5 of them together and was amazed at how close they all were to each other. Shame. 🙂

In your normal day, no matter what you do or how many things you do, how do you look at yourself? Do you even try to classify yourself? How do you perceive others see you? And finally, what are you ready to try to live up to?
 

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The World’s Shrinking… Localization And The Foreign Language Web (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Christian Arno, the founder and managing director of Lingo24, a company that owns translation services. It’s a very interesting article, and I’m glad she’s asked to post it here. I hope you enjoy it, and comment if you can.

The world’s getting smaller. Not literally, of course, but in the sense that digital communications has helped bring down the barriers that time and space had inherently created. Thanks to the internet and affordable means of mass communication, we are closer than ever before towards living in a true global village.

However, there is still one remaining barrier: language. It’s unlikely that Earth’s six billion+ population will start speaking a single communal language any time soon, so this leaves global businesses with two options:

• Assume English as the international language of business

• Translate, localize and communicate in a language that international clients understand

The first option becomes rather redundant when you consider that three quarters of the world’s population speak no English whatsoever. So that means that localization is the name of the game for companies seeking to tap into new and emerging markets. To go global, businesses must think local.

Localization is the art of tailoring communications towards a specific cultural, linguistic and geographical group. It’s not good enough to simply consider the language alone – words can mean different things between, for example, the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish spoken in Latin America. The same applies to the French in France, Switzerland, Belgium and Canada. There’s even key differences between German (Germany) and Swiss German.

Similarly, seemingly trivial points can affect international communications significantly. The conventional way of writing ‘one million’ in English-speaking countries would be: 1,000,000.00. In many European countries, this convention is reversed, so in the likes of Germany, Italy and Denmark, it would be written as: 1.000.000,00. Some countries – such as France and Finland – don’t use any thousands separator at all: 1 000 000.00.

Closer to home, there are significant differences between US English and UK English, to the point where each dialect is often treated as a separate language within marketing companies. The last thing any international marketer wants is to assume that a colloquial term used in Scotland will be understood by their target audience in Texas.

The internet has helped bring equilibrium to the world of commerce. Businesses of all sizes can now ‘go global’ with little more than a networked computer and a touch of entrepreneurial savvy – big companies with big marketing budgets are now facing stiffer competition with small to medium-sized businesses getting involved in the international arena too.

And this can only be a good thing as increased competition normally means a better deal all-round for the customer. However, it’s worth remembering that a global mindset must go hand-in-hand with a local ethos. The customer is all that counts.

Launched in 2001, Lingo24 now has over a hundred employees spanning four continents and clients in over sixty countries. In the past twelve months, they have translated over thirty million words for businesses covering every industry sector and their turnover in 2009 was $6m USD.

I thank Christian for this article, and I hope y’all have learned as much about this topic as I have.

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Survey Says…

Two months ago I posted a survey here and asked y’all to complete the survey and earn some free tips.

For those of you who didn’t see it, the survey was about training and how people would like to receive training, and many other questions concerning it. Along with a friend of mine, Renee Scherer of Presentations Plus, I did my first webinar earlier this year, which you see the advertisement for there in the second spot at the top left. We plan on doing more, and each of us has certain talents that we give presentations on, as well as a couple of shared things.

For instance, Renee gives presentations on anything Microsoft Office related. She recently gave one to an organization on Microsoft Office tips, and I’ll be giving one to that same group in either April or May on social media.

My topics are a bit more broad because I’m all over the place, as you know. I’m not going to start spouting them all here again, but if you want to just take a look at my one business website and then my other business website to see some of what I do.

Anyway, something that doesn’t happen all that often when someone does a big survey is that they don’t share any of the results of the survey. Y’all know me; I’m all about sharing, thus Renee and I are sharing the results of the survey with you, which I found very interesting overall. And, if you put your name and email in at the bottom to get on our mailing list, you’ll receive two free little gifts for your trouble. Hey, it’s the holiday season, right? Just so you know, the mailing list will be private and protected, and will only be used whenever we’re doing a webinar or seminar of some type, and then to mention the product created from that process. Otherwise, you’ll never hear from us; that’s my guarantee.

By the way, y’all know how I’m always trying to get more publicity. Well, this time around, I’m in a magazine article, the first one quoted, and I even got my picture in it, though it’s in black and white; hey, you take what you can get. If you’re interested, I turned it into a pdf and you can download it. The story is called Webinar Anyone? Enjoy that as well.

And remember, if your group or organization needs a speaker on any of the topics in the survey, and pays, reach out to me; will speak for pay! 😉

Deciding When To Go To A Paid Model

I’m not going to lie. I love finding free stuff on the internet. If it’s applications I can use that will handle little stuff for me, it’s all good. If it’s information that I’m looking for, even better. It’s not that I’ll never pay for anything, but I find most of the time that the free stuff addresses my specific need and nothing else. Most of the time that suits me just fine.

I also recognize when I have to be realistic and pay for something. Depending on what it is and how much it is, I will look around for a bargain. But sometimes there’s only one place, or one way, to get certain information. if I need it bad enough, I’ll pony up the cash and get it done.

Sometimes it’s us who are giving away a lot of free stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but every once in awhile we have to look at what it is we’re giving away, how much of it we’re giving away, and whether it’s time to start charging for at least a portion of it. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’ve started out establishing that you’re doing a lot of things for free.

Such is the case with my Medical Billing Answers site. Many of you know that I’m also a healthcare finance consultant, centering on revenue cycle issues. That’s charge capture and billing for most of you. Anyway, I set up that site to try to give information to people in terms that were fairly easy to understand. I add articles to that site from time to time also.

I actually created the site for people who wanted to learn some things about insurances and the like and to get some information on how medical billing works as far as getting their bills paid. I also said that I would answer medical billing questions, one per customer, for free.

What ended up happening is the people who were asking me questions were people in medical billing. And some of the questions they were asking was some pretty technical stuff. I had answers for everyone, but sometimes I had to do a bit of research. That didn’t trouble me all that much; however, when more of them wanted me to provide links to prove that my information was correct, I figured that was the last straw, so to speak.

About 8 days ago, I decided it was time to go for a paid model as far as answering questions. I set it up on my consulting services page that I would now answer medical billing questions for a fee, $4.50 per question. I would also entertain as many questions as people had, as long as they paid for it, which obviously was a change in the business model. And, while I was at it, I set up a monthly consulting fee that I don’t think is overly high and is a pretty good deal for smaller hospitals or physicians offices that don’t the money to bring in a high priced consultant to help them out.

Then, while I was at it, I figured it was a fairly good business model to add to my business website also. After all, if I can provide consulting services and stay home, all through email, and can get enough people to pay my monthly fee, why not take a shot, right?

So, how have things progressed thus far? First off, no one has paid for anything, but it’s still early, and we had the holiday. As a matter of fact, I figure that all the bad stuff I’m going to mention can be blamed on the holiday week, so I’ll probably have to check the stats after another week to see how things really are. Anyway, second, I haven’t made a penny since last Monday, and this is my biggest Adsense money making site. However, my consulting services page is also the 5th visited page over the course of the week, which means people are at least looking at it. And they’re reading it, as they’ve spent an average of a minute and 55 seconds on it.

How about on my business site? My new consulting services page was the 8th most visited page for the first week, and people stayed there an average of 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Now that’s a bit of overkill if you ask me, but in my mind it’s telling me that people were at least thinking about it, even if they didn’t pull the trigger. Maybe it was because of the holidays; I can only hope. Since I only have Adsense on a couple of pages on my business site, I didn’t expect it to bring in any money.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to make money from your specialty. I can honestly say there are a few blogs I visit where I know they have some stuff that they should probably be charging for. Not everything, of course; I’d never charge anyone for reading my blog, like Garry Conn did at one point for certain posts (I’m not sure if he’s still doing it, but it looks like he’s started accepting comments again, and he has good stuff so give it a look). But I have been asked why I’m charging for my webinar when many people use theirs as freebies to help promote themselves. And I answer because I didn’t give a fluff presentation of nothing to entice people to pay big money for something later on, I gave real information that people could immediately use and thus I charged for it.

It can be a struggle in deciding what, and when, to start charging for certain things. If any of you have tried it, or have thoughts going to a paid business model of some sort, please share them, because I think it’s something valuable that many people should think about every once in awhile.
 

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