Category Archives: Business

Figuring Out Trust Revisited

I’ve written about this concept of trust quite a few times on two of my blogs, which includes this one. The last couple of times I’ve specifically addressed the topic here here was when I wondered why we don’t trust sales people and then when I wrote about why it’s sometimes hard to trust people in general. Now I have another tale for you.


by Thomas Nes Myhre

For about six weeks my brakes had been squealing. I thought it was related to the brake job I’d had 3 weeks earlier at Midas (yes, I’m naming names). I waited 3 weeks, then took it back to them to take a look at the work they’d done. After 10 minutes the mechanic comes to me and takes me into the back to look at my back brakes, as I’d replaced the front brakes. He tells me that they’re metal on metal and that they’re in real bad shape. He also tells me that I need brand new tires. Then he gives me an estimated cost; I’m thinking “are you out of your mind?”

I decide not to do the work there, mainly because as I was sitting in the chair waiting for them to take a look, I started thinking that I’d just had my back brakes done last year, and remembered that I’d actually had them done at Goodyear. My thinking was that if it were the pads, I’d take it back to them and that should be that.

At the same time I started thinking about a few other things. I’d just had my car inspection in July and passed with flying colors. They had mentioned that at some point in the next year I should look at my tires, but there were no red flags. I wondered if my bad brakes were so bad why didn’t the inspection catch it, since that’s one of their checks. Then I wondered why these guys hadn’t said anything about my back brakes when I’d brought the car there weeks earlier. Frankly, things didn’t add up.

So I waited until one day this week and finally took it to Goodyear. Everything was still squeaking, but all I asked them to do was take a look at my brakes overall.

Less than 30 minutes later I got a call at home. The guy said they had taken a look at both my front and back brakes and that there were no problems with either of them. He said they weren’t sure why there was a squeak (more like a squeal), but that the brakes were fine. He then said I would need to replace some tires before winter and that there was a tire sale coming in October and that I should wait for that.

Wow, what to do? Who to trust? The Goodyear guy tells me my brakes are fine, but are they if they’re still squealing? I mean, since they’d have to replace the pads for free, are they pushing me back until something else goes wrong? And what about the Midas people? I’m still feeling insecure about them as well. At least I don’t owe any money.

Move the story ahead to yesterday. My wife’s brakes were also squealing, and she’d had her brakes done last year at Midas a week before I’d had mine done. She decided to take her car to Goodyear after hearing my story about Midas. I figured we’d see what they had to say about her car.

She calls them back after a couple of hours, as we’d gone out for awhile. They tell her they can’t find anything wrong with her brakes and aren’t sure what’s causing it. She’d also had her car inspected in July, and she had no red flags about anything, including her tires. So they didn’t charge her for taking a look and all is as it was.

Wow, talk about major differences. My trust level has gone way up with Goodyear and way down with Midas. I used to always go to Midas whenever I needed brakes, and that particular Midas for nearly 25 years. Of course it’s changed hands often, which means you never really know about the people running things after awhile. But there’s a major difference in $450 and zero, and zero twice against the possibility of close to a thousand dollars means a big deal to me. Guess who’s going to be taking care of my car from now on.

We don’t always get a chance to find out whether we’re being lied to or not. I got a major break this time around because I got to test the truthfulness and reliability of one company versus another company. I’m not going to say that all Midas stores are dishonest, but I’ve certainly just run into one that I don’t trust all that much.

With any business you provide, including your blog posts, are you always making sure you’re being as honest as possible? Have you visited blogs that make you feel like they’re lying to you, or being dishonest? Do you call out dishonesty when you see it? Would you have had the guts to write a post like this one? Go ahead, share your thoughts and your tales.
 

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Being Good In Business

I’m not a great business person. True, I did celebrate the 10th anniversary of my business this summer, so I have found a way to stick around for a good long time. But I’m not a great business person; sometimes I’m not even sure I’m a good business person. Let me tell you why.

Two weeks ago I had to go to small claims court to get money that someone owed me for work I completed. The thing is I made one of those crucial mistakes that probably hits all business people at some point in their life. I did the work before I had the person signed the contract, and then he decided that there was something about the work he didn’t like and he didn’t pay me all he owed me. I did the work because this is someone I’d known for a while and thought I could trust; Judge Judy would have chewed me out for this mistake.

This isn’t the first time it’s happened to me since I’ve been in business. It is the first time I was owed enough money to sue for. Luckily I won; yay! Or did I? What I agreed to is half that day and half the following Friday, and to also help finish the project, which this guy hadn’t finished even though in court he tried to tell the judge that he’d gone to somebody else to help him with it. Of course I knew better because there are very few people that do this particular thing I do. I did my part, and today if he does his part I should have a check in the mail. The thing is it’s five days later than I should have had this money. That’s being a bad business person.

On another front, I’ve been waiting to be paid by a company I did work for back in April. In this case I did sign a contract which said that I would get paid when they got paid. This was with another guy I have known for some years who told me that their clients usually pay them within 30 days so that I should have my money relatively soon. This could have turned out to be a very big contract so I went with it.

Instead, new players got into the game, the contract got cut short, and I have been waiting for my payment ever since. I had actually been told that I would have this payment a month ago and I’ve been looking for it for a while. Then last Monday the same guy contacted me and tells me there had been an error in the office that was finally corrected and I should have my check this week. Of course nothing has shown up yet.

If you’ve read this blog or my business blog for a while, you know that I basically have three tenets that I base my perception of every person I meet on. Those tenets are honesty, loyalty, and trustworthiness. Sometimes in business we tend to make allowances for things that we wouldn’t make allowances for in our personal lives. This sometimes impacts us negatively when it comes to business, whether we work for ourselves or for someone else. After 10 years I’m supposed to know better; I need to start proving it.

Here are five rules I’ve got to put into effect for myself if I’m going to stay in business. These wouldn’t hurt anyone else to follow if they needed business tips, whether your business is online or off-line, and in some cases whether you work for someone else or not. So here we go:

1. I will no longer do any business with anyone without at least getting a deposit up front. The amount of the deposit will vary based on how big the contract is, but it will be anywhere from 25% to 50%. Truth be told, on the first story I told you if I hadn’t got the amount of money I got up front I wouldn’t have been able to get the entire amount in small claims court, and I would have had to make a decision whether to take him to full court or not. That would’ve been really expensive based on the amount of money he owed me, and I could’ve lost out totally. So maybe I wasn’t such a bad business person at all.

2. I will stop lowering my price for most services I provide for someone else. I mainly do this for people I know, but that turns out to be a bad thing when I’m doing something that’s very technical. One of those things you start to learn is that people don’t respect you as a professional, even if they know you, if your price is too low. I was trying to do the first guy a favor which I thought could result in a lot of business on the back end, and he used it to his advantage by delaying the payment I deserved. Sometimes we need to realize when we do specialized services that we need to stick to our guns and our price and dare people to find someone else who can do the work for them. And if they go searching and can’t find someone, if they come back to you raise the price for their wasting your time.

3. I will better define certain terms of my contract so that there is a definitive as to when a project is completed. In this case I did the work in the time I said I would do it, but I never really indicated when I expected to be paid. I did write that I expected to be paid within two weeks of the end of the project, but that left him to interpret that the project ended when he thought it was over. That left me without being paid for seven months. That’s a mistake that won’t happen again.

4. I will better define what will be delivered and what the client can expect. When it comes to SEO work, clients need to understand that the only guarantee they can really get is that their presence on search engines will improve, probably a lot if they have no ranking, but if they have a presence already results might not be as drastic.

When it comes to the specific healthcare work I do, realizing that everyone can’t do it and those other people that do this type of work, which are mainly the very large consulting companies that charge upwards of three times what I normally charge, are someone that I can beat with a better price and better customer service attention.

5. I will not only work to maintain my integrity and the standards and tenets I’ve set for myself and people in my personal life, but I will hold people in business, whether it’s their company or themselves, to the same standards if I’m the one who’s going to be working with them. This is a concept known as “finding the type of clients you want to work with”. I will not work with just anybody for the sake of getting money. I have found that to be mentally draining and not much fun. True, work isn’t always supposed to be fun, but if work is beating you down get away from it and go do something else.

And those are my five things. Is there anything you’d like to add?
 

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An Important Blog Page If You’re Looking To Do Business

There’s an old joke that goes like this:

A woman is down on her luck and has been for a long time. She’s very religious and has always gone to church every Sunday of her life. One day she decides that she’s never asked for anything, and decides to pray to God to ask for a favor.

“Please God, let me win the lottery so that my life will improve.”


not a service I’m providing

She makes this request every day for a week, a couple of times more than once. Finally, the following Sunday, she gets down to pray but says “Please God, why won’t you answer my prayers. I’ve always been a loyal follower, and now you’re my last hope. Won’t you allow me to win the lottery?”

Out of the blue comes a voice that says “Lady, you have to meet me halfway; go buy a ticket.”

Trust me, it’s funnier when said out loud. lol

Anyway, I lead with that joke because I was talking to someone about this blog. I’ve always said that I had never really expected to make money off this blog, but that it wouldn’t depress me. I said that I’d written more than 1,100 posts on many different topics, many addressing things I could do for others, but I’d gotten very few responses. I said I wasn’t sure what else there was I could do other than continue to write every once in awhile about things I could do for people.

My friend listened and then asked “Do you have a services page on your blog telling people what you do?”

Out of the mouth of the uninitiated, I realized it was something I’d never added to this page. Sure, I talked about my business to a degree, but I had never thought about creating a Services page to go at the top of this blog along with all those other pages.

Goodness folks, it has to be one of the goofiest things in the world to forget, but the easiest and one of the most important pages to create. I know I’ve been to other people’s blogs, and some of them have this page. Why I had a mental block about it is beyond me. Anyway, I now have one; it’s fairly simple right now, but as time goes on I’m sure I’ll flesh it out more. After all, it’s mainly to serve a function, not to be overly conversational.

Just something to think about if you’re ever hoping someone will like what you have to say on your blog and then start thinking about maybe hiring you for something.
 

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Why Is Everyone Busting On A-Listers?

There seems to be something new going around these days. I call it the “build yourself up by busting on someone else” syndrome. Frankly, unless you have a good reason for busting on someone in particular, I find it distasteful. However, when the only reason you’re busting on someone is because they happen to be successful, you look petty.


via Flickr

In this case I’m going to talk about the concept of A-list people. On the internet we know who these people are; Chris Brogan, Darren Rowse, Matt Cutts, John Chow, on and on and on. These are people that have and are making pretty good money online, get invited to speak here and there, and end up talking about how they make money and the like. Okay, maybe Matt Cutts doesn’t belong on the list for that reason, but I’ve seen people saying things about him that aren’t all that nice either.

In the book Secrets of the Millionaire Mindicon by T. Harv Eker, he talks about how people perceive those who seem to have made it as stuck up and only into themselves and how the hatred eventually comes to them, and how he used to think the same way until he started seeing things in a much different light. He saw how many of these people were really generous with their time and their money and saw how just because someone had money and success and influence (did I use that word again?) and it didn’t necessarily make them bad, and there wasn’t anything wrong with them actively trying to pursue these things. By the way, that’s an affiliate link to a book I highly recommend you check out; it’ll illuminate your mind.

What got me initially thinking about this was a guest post on Danny Brown’s blog titled Why The A-list Conversation Hurts Us that I totally disagreed with. In essence, the author stated that we the people should just stay away from these guys and break them down so everyone else has a chance at some kind of success. I totally disagreed with the premise because in my mind if these folks fall someone else will eventually become the A-listers and then another person will come along and say we should beat these people down as well. It’s a cycle I hate, one that I not only refuse to be a part of, but in a perfect scenario I know that most of us, if given the chance, would love to have the opportunity to get there.

Yeah, I know, I hear all of you now saying “oh no, I wouldn’t want that.” Please, let’s be truthful. We write because we want our words out there. We want someone to read them and react to them. We’d love to have more and more people see what we have to say, agree with what we have to say, lament because we don’t say enough of it, and then start throwing money and accolades our way to get us to write more, give them more, and let them love us. Okay, a bit extreme, but you know what I mean. I’m not saying everyone wants this, but I know the majority certainly do.

We want to share our knowledge, do it the old fashioned way. We want to be honest with our message, whether we entertain or pontificate or garner support or whatever it is we do. We want to get there on our words and our passion… just like the A-listers did. We want to be of the people, but we want the people to elevate us… just like the A-listers did.

Just so you know, this isn’t a new thought of mine. Our friend Sire wrote a post back in 2009, the most visited post of his blog ever, titled Why I No Longer Link To The Likes Of ProBlogger And John Chow, where he stated that those folks get enough love from others so he’s not going to give them any, and I stated (first comment actually) that I would be continuing to follow those blog because they gave good information, and they occasionally respond to people as well. As a matter of fact, on that post Sire had a nice conversation with Darren Rowse, which I thought was pretty classy of Darren to show up. Sire actually promoted my blog on that post, which was also cool, but he also had to deal with a few people who thought he was using the other people’s names just to raise his own profile, which may not have been fair but man, it definitely worked as his blog took off from there.

And see, that’s one of the points here. I know it’s not what Sire did on purpose, but it’s my belief that so many other people are really just trying to drag someone else down by going after them to inflate themselves. In my mind, if they can do it to those people, they could come back and do it to me. And I don’t want it done to me I don’t know that I could stand on the sidelines and take it without griping to a degree; I’m like that. lol

But maybe I’m just the sensitive type, so I’ll ask you these three questions; this will prove who reads and who just posts drive-by comments and moves on. One, if you were on the fast track to being an A-lister, would you turn it down, shut down your blog and never write again? Two, would you go out of your way to beat someone else down just to build yourself up, no matter what? And three, if you were succeeding at something that you’d worked for, would you like it if someone came along and suddenly started putting you down mainly because you’ve made it, even if they said it was something else (trust me, you’d know)?

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Criteria For Hiring – A Rant

I’m going to admit something up front; I’m writing angry right now. I’m angry for a business reason, not a personal reason, and I don’t believe my anger is misdirected. However, it’s something to think about overall, which is why I’m writing about it.

For close to two weeks I’ve been working on landing a project out of state. It would have been a big project that could have lasted upwards of six months or so. Overall it’s the kind of project that can make or break a good financial year.

It started out strangely, seemed to end but didn’t, then picked up steam once more. I have the credentials for the job. I have the skills for the job. It was supposedly me against one other person, and the other person’s skills turned out to be lacking; seems she’d never done any of the work they needed to have done.

But I have, multiple times. I’ll tell you that it was a health care project, and I do have the skills for it. Let’s just say that I helped one hospital earn an “extra” $736 million in one year, and I actually created the product that was needed in my field for a 5-hospital system in another country some years ago. I’ve been doing this particular type of work for almost 25 years; I’m easily qualified.

On Wednesday I spoke to someone about the gig and it went really well. You know, whenever you speak to candidates about something you just get a feeling on how it goes. I knew my stuff; heck, she knew my stuff. We discussed tactics and the like and what the overall scope of the project was. She said it was a lot and she couldn’t handle it; I said I could.

Once that happens you have to wait. And I did, all through yesterday and into this morning. I knew that if the call came through I was going to have to scramble to get everything collected because it was going to be kind of far away. But I was mentally prepared for anything.

Except not getting it. Just a little while ago I heard that I didn’t get it, and for what I’d have to say is a very stupid reason. My qualifications aren’t in question as to whether I can do the job. What’s in question is whether my skills can translate to a larger organization like theirs.

And you know what the kicker is? The person that made the ultimate decision has no clue what I do. He works in a department that has nothing to do with what I do, but since they’re missing the person in the position that would normally make this decision he made it. Pure idiocy, and I’m angry.

I get it; people make decisions every day on stuff they don’t know anything about, or may not know much about. The reasons we do this is because we need stuff but can’t know about everything. I know nothing about plumbing, roofing, electricity, etc. So I have to hire someone I don’t know, whether I get a recommendation or not.

At the same time, I understand that there are sometimes other, outside factors that might lead us to not want to hire someone or to work with someone. If they’re unkempt and work a job that doesn’t keep them that way we might be hesitant. If they smell or seem creepy, and y’all know that happens, I got it. If you get a bad vibe and the Spidey senses are telling you to beware, that makes sense as well.

But if you don’t have those issues, and all things are equal, at least make sure your criteria is sound. I’ve given leadership presentations to as few as 10 people and as many as 250 at a time. Does that mean I’m not qualified, if I got lucky enough, to speak in front of 500 to 1,000 people at a time? If the message is the same and the information is the same do the numbers really mean all that much?

So let me ask you this. If you needed services and a person’s qualifications were sound and you checked references or previous work and it all came back stellar, but you didn’t really fully understand what these people were going to do for you (kind of reminiscent of our SEO discussion some months ago) would you just make up criteria based on a flawed perception or would you take into account what someone with the skills and knowledge (like the woman I talked to) had to say about it?

Yeah, I’m at the end and I’m still mad, but less so now. lol

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