Message from CT...
Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Tuesday, December 30, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
2. I'm not going to order anymore magazines! Online internet reading is it for me!
3. I promise to save printer paper by saving the info in word and not printing anymore!
Could you borrow instead or go without? Send me your green resolutions/goals for this year. I would love to hear from you and what they are to add to my list. We can make a difference - CT
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
The year is winding down and things are "wrapping up", so we want to wish you a wonderful holiday time with your friends and family. We also want to take this time to thank you for all your comments and support. Hope the holiday season brings you joy and happiness! Happy Holidays! - CT
Thursday, December 18, 2008
To save on lighting, consider using compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs). They cost a little more than regular bulbs, but in the long run CFLs can last up to 10 times longer than the tradition lightbulbs. To save a little more, try installing dimmer switches and timers to lower your electric bill inside and out. You'll not only be saving money but goin green, so lighten up. - CT
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Why should you keep records of your business operations? Two reasons, first they are required by law and secondly they will give you a full picture of your small business venture at any given time. It will also help to identify and correct any cash flow problems before they become major issues. Regardless of the type of system you use, the records must be accurate, complete and permanent.
There are four basis types of records that you will have and must track; sales records, cash receipts, cash disbursements and any open accounts receivable:
Sales records will include any income from the sale of your products or services you may provide. These can be grouped together or into separate sub groups so you can monitor what areas are doing better than others.
Cash receipts equal any monies generated by cash sales and the collection of accounts receivable. In a cash and carry small business your cash receipts will match your sales records.
Cash disbursements are your operating expenses or accounts payable disbursements. All disbursements should be done by either check or a business credit card and make sure they are well documented for tax purposes. Personally, I prefer a business credit card because typically all the expenses are itemized and I only have to write one check at the end of the month. And by paying timely I do not pay any interest so I am using and floating their money for 30 days.
An important note: this business card should “only” be used for business purposes…do not mix business expenses with personal expenses and keep a mental note of your running monthly tab. There’s nothing more discouraging than spending more than your sales for the month and being in the red. Your goal is to always be in the black!
If you must pay cash for something, always ask and keep your receipt. Put a comment on the back of the receipt of what the expense was for and for what reason. A small $25 or $50 petty cash drawer is helpful for these small cash expenses. Maintain good records as well for these expenses by listing the date the item purchased, the amount and why the item was purchased and balance it at least monthly.
Accounts receivable are sales from the extension of credit. Keep monthly records of any outstanding balances. If your customer becomes more than 60 days past due you will need to start following up on these accounts to make sure you receive your payments timely (I will cover collection activities in another article down the road.)
Keep all your expenses and records filed in an orderly manner and stored in a safe place. Every month you should reconcile your checkbook with your bank statement and make any necessary adjustments immediately. These supporting records should typically be kept for three years and you should keep your federal income tax returns forever. As always check with your professional accountant for expert assistance. - CT
Friday, November 28, 2008
Many people throughout my career have told me that I missed my calling. They have said, “You need to be in sales”, or “You’re some sales person”. Well the truth be known I don’t really like to sell. Sure I worked in the retail industry part-time many years ago while I was going to college and it was fun, but to do it full time…no way. What I do know how to do and feel do fairly well is to be myself at all times and promote the things I enjoy and love in life.
Selling and promoting have more in common than you may think. Both take the ability to communicate, persuade and influence. Plus you must be passionate and believe in your product. As time goes on and you start feeling confident with promoting your product you’ll find that selling really isn’t so hard and you’ll start enjoying the process.
There are however several key steps to selling that have stood the test of time. They are prospecting, presenting, listening and closing. To prospect effectively you will need to determine who your customer is and what sets you apart from the competition. Ask yourself what would make a prospecting customer buy your product? Why would you buy your product over some other product?
Then you must have the ability to present well. All that really means is that you need to tell a good story. This is the fun part (the part I love…promoting). Everyone loves a good story especially an artisan story. Buyers love to hear what the inspiration was, what materials were used and how long it took to complete. They want to hear the features of your product that is relevant to them. Be honest and sincere with your story and be careful not to bore the customer with all the little details. A quick 30-60 second summary will do.
If you have told a good story now it’s time to listen. If you aren’t already, learn to be a good listener and remember that you will not sell anything if you don’t listen and understand the needs of your potential buyers.
Ok the final part…the closing. The best way to close a sale is to ask a simple question, “Can I answer any questions for you?” If the customer says no, you can ask for the sale, “Well, then why don’t you give it a try?” If the customer appears to be unsure you can say, “I really think this would be ideal for you.” You would be amazed at how many people just need an invitation to buy.
Understand that a sale is always being made, so either you will make the sale or your competition will. So promote yourself and be passionate about your product, even if you don’t make the sale that day, you have left a positive impression on them…they will remember you and will typically come back. - CT
Wednesday, November 26, 2008
As you know the site is free for artisans, it's new and it is still in Beta. Personally I like Beta's. You get the opportunity to submit ideas or features you would like to see on the site. Plus Art Fire is a green community. As a member of Art Fire you are making an impact on the planet and supporting causes and organizations that help us all.
Artfire is an interactive artisan community designed to help artists promote and sell their crafts.
Here, check out the features:
• Customizable studios
• Studio statistics
• A backend control panel
• Unlimited shop categories
• Promotional Tools
• And much more!
There’s also a host of interactive features including:
• Artifacts - Participation Badges
• Custom groups (on the way!)
• Personalized blogs (on the way!)
When you join Artfire, you get the opportunity to help make a difference, since they have pledged to plant a tree for very new member at no cost to you. They planted one for me and I didn’t even get my hands dirty. :)
While basic membership allows crafters to sell 10 of their creations at a time for completely free, verified membership level allows for unlimited listings with full access to all of the features listed above. Currently they are offering a special deal for the verified membership level—only $7 a month for the rest of your stay on Artfire. That’s right, only $0.23 a day for unlimited craft and supplies listings with full access to all Artfire has to offer.
If you want to take a peek at my Artfire Studio Click Here
If you interested in more Art Fire information or want to sign up feel free to Click Here
Or feel free to send me a message and I will try to answer your questions. If I don't know, I will try to find out for you. Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! - CT
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Monday, November 24, 2008
These roads are goals that will get you to your outcome. Don’t confuse goals with outcomes. Goals are conceptual as they guide your actions. Outcomes are what really happen which often times aren’t always how you envisioned it. Sometimes the outcomes can be even better than what your original goal was. Your ability to adapt and stay flexible is extremely important, so don’t be ridged.
Goals should be an extension of your values. Life becomes meaningful and exciting when your goals support what you believe in. Set challenging but realistic goals. They should be very specific with an objective and a deadline so you can measure your progress.
Keep in mind that setting goals is hard work. It requires time and soul searching. Many people have a fear of failing. Others feel if they don’t set goals they can’t fail. While that may be true they won’t succeed either. Then there are those who have a fear of success because they don’t value themselves enough to feel they deserve success.
Don’t be afraid that you won’t reach your goals. The first step in reaching your goals is deciding which road you want to follow. Then get on the road and follow it. Chances are when you arrive you’ll want to go even farther. - CT
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Hold a charitable holiday party. Instead of having the same old party during the holidays, make it a special event by linking with a local charitable organization. This will establish a good corporate citizen image and raise your visibility in the community.
Donate a portion of your proceeds. The holiday season is a great time to let your customers know that you care. One way to do this is to donate a portion of sales from a particular type of product or service to a charity. Or better yet, let your customers choose from a list so they can donate to the charity of their choice.
Create a holiday promotion. Offer a unique promotion on a specific product or service. Promote a buy one and get the second item for 50% off for someone else on their list. Another well received promotion is offering free gift wrapping or free shipping during the holidays.
Preferred customer rewards. Reward your top customers with special discounts or perks on certain products. Offer double rewards points for spending more.
Try one or more of these ideas and you’ll foster good will and more than likely increase your sales this holiday season. - CT
Sunday, November 16, 2008
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Now I know that while most of us have web based businesses and we’re not brick and mortar establishments, we use written media to get our point across, but there will still be times when we need to discuss items or issues with a customer over the phone. Our voice skills are often more important that the words that are used in print or face to face.
Research has shown that while our vocal skills are important in a face to face conversation, they only make a small impact on the total transaction. However our voice skills in a phone conversation have an enormous impact…remember they can’t physically see you so the visual body language is taken out of the picture.
Failing to pronounce words correctly or slurring words into each other make it difficult for the customer to understand what is being said. How many times has it happened to you? What is your perception of the establishment? Will you spend your money there? Put yourself in the caller’s shoes and make sure you are articulating the words properly. Use what I call the PTP principal: Pace, Tone and Projection:
Pace: The speed of what is being said can degrade the quality of a voice, besides in most cases the caller will miss half of what is being said and the information will just need to be repeated. So slow down and even more when you are providing information, such as account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, etc.
Tone: The tone of your voice will often say more than the words being used. If you use a dull monotone voice the caller will wonder why you still have a job there or worse why you are even in business. So use a bright, cheerful voice and smile as you speak. It will go through the phone as helpful and sincere and someone that has a lot of energy to help them. A bit of caution with this one, do not overdo it as the caller will pick up on that right away. You must be sincere and not fake it.
Projection: For the best sounding voice over the phone, project your voice to a point several feet ahead of you. You know the saying, “You’re talking to the wall,” it is case it is perfectly fine to talk to the wall rather than aiming your speech at your phone or headset.
Enlist a friend and test these new skills with them and ask them to be honest. Tweak your voice as needed and remember that your goal is for the caller to have a positive experience and have a comfort level with your business. So here you have it, three very simple skills to remember when you’re on the phone. Practice and you’ll be surprise how well your message gets across over the phone to your customer. - CT
Thursday, November 6, 2008
Typically prior to Beta testing there are rounds of Alpha Testing for system functionality, but Beta testing is actually the last phase of testing a site and it normally involves sending the product out for real world activity. This phase of user testing is critical. This is where improvements and current functionality can be modified for the user. This is also a great opportunity to suggest add-ons, but I am always reminded that it may take extra time to address these items as code must be written and/or reconfigured to make these changes work properly.
Needless to say, I’m always giving feedback usually in a constructive manner because I realize that folks that deal with computer programming live and breathe their craft just like I do when I’m designing a piece of jewelry. The last thing I want to do is insult them. They can spend countless hours, (sometimes forgetting to eat or sleep), and take in a huge amount of caffeine to perfect their art. They can spend hours, sometime days looking for just the right way to make navigating through a program, application or site easier for us, the user. They too are no different than sculptors or painters. They are perfectionist and artists in their own right.
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
There are several common factors that are used by the professionals to find your target market; they are customer attributes, geographic zones and product factors. Examples of the customer attributes are age, sex, lifestyle, annual income. Geographic zones divide the market into several regions as international, national, regional and community zones. Product factors revolves around usage, brand loyalty, pricing and benefit to the customer.
All these factors go into identifying your customer. The more specific you get the more specific your marketing strategy and message should be. So don't forget to do your homework when it comes to your customer. Armed with this data you will be able to uncover specific information about your customer and stand a better chance of selling your idea. - CT
Saturday, October 4, 2008
There are two membership levels. The "basic" membership allows you to list 10 items at no charge with 4 photos. From my understanding they can do this because they are sponsored by several internet suppliers and importers of craft and art products, but there aren't a bunch of busy ads on their site. And unlike other sites, you don't have to pay a listing or relisting fee each and every time a product is added or want exposure on the front page. If you intend to sell more than 10 items and want to get more perks and the full functionality of the site, you can become a "verified" member for $20/month. That's it, a little over 60 cents/day! Where else can you get that type of exposure for under a dollar a day? Plus, I received a sub domain for my studio ctjewelrydesign.artfire.com to use in our monthly newsletters, email specials and snail mailings, etc. It's still a fairly new site so for me it's a great opportunity to play a more active role on the ground floor...and guess what, the folks at artfire.com really do listen and follow up with you promptly and professionally.
Friday, July 25, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Searching for ideas for a new business opportunity can be an overwhelming task. However new markets open up every day with individuals trying to build a better mousetrap. There is nothing better than having your own idea and setting forth as your own boss, but will anyone buy your product or use your service? That’s the million dollar question.
The first thing to do is evaluate your idea. Ask several potential customers in the related market what you’re thinking about. Don’t go into too much detail but give them an idea of what you are planning. Ask for their honest opinion. This will not be 100% fool proof or accurate but it will give you a good idea if your idea is worth pursuing without spending any upfront money. If at least two or three say they would purchase your product or use your service then it’s time to get on a search engine of your choice and search for your competitors.
What you want to do is find out the following:
Who is your competition?
How many competitors are there?
How much are they selling their product or service for?
Can you tell if they are making sales?
Can you sell your product for slightly less?
Then consider these additional factors:
How durable is your market?
Is your product or service truly unique, a niche or a fad?
Will you be able to generate a large customer base or a selective few?
Do you have the knowledge to develop your idea or will you need additional resources?
Researching your idea may take you a week or longer, but it will help you in evaluating your business idea and may save you from making mistakes along the way. Above all choose an idea that you are passionate about and love…sell what you know! - CT
Saturday, June 28, 2008
1. What is your number one customer related goal?
Your customer related goal is your top priority because “Your customer” is the life-blood of your business. Do you want to identify your ideal customer? Do you want to attract new customers? Sell more to your existing customers? Add new products and/or services? Or serve more customers? Answering these questions will help you to benchmark your short term and long term goals.
2. What must happen to achieve your goal consistently?
What you do to achieve your goal consistently will help you meet or exceed your goal. Summarize the activities and factors you feel are important for the success of your business. Where will you get your referrals from? Do you need software to manage your referrals or will you just use a manual process? Summarize why this is important to your business and then add to it as your business grows.
3. What resources do you need?
Decide on what equipment, technology, skill-sets or space requirements you need to meet your goals. Then establish a budget and determine if the funds will come from operations or outside financing.
Taking these first steps and writing them down will help communicate your brand identity to your customers and identify what sets your business apart from other businesses in your target market. - CT
Monday, June 23, 2008
Do your homework. Use the Six P's, "Proper prior planning prevents poor performance". Research your ideas and trends to form the foundation of your new venture. Find out who your customer is. What marketing research, legal forms, licenses and startup financing will you need prior to committing to a new business? Develop a business plan. You have the ability to influence how successful your company will be, but you will need to be focused on these items first before you embark on the most important and challenging times of your life! - CT
Friday, June 20, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
For many years I wondered what pushed me into trying new ideas and finding creative ways to help me attain my goals in my personal and professional life. I finally figured it out one day when I was having a discussion (disagreement) with an ex-boss (who will remain nameless). He said to me, “You’re just too passionate! Let it go…it just can’t be done.” I’m too passionate? Let it go? It can’t be done? How could I not be passionate when it was so important to the patients, the staff, and to the organization?!? Well needless to say I lost that round, but I learned something very important about myself that day, I am a very passionate person and it has been fueled by people who use the excuse that “It can’t be done!”.
Sure it can be done…there’s always an opportunity to be passionate in everything we do to be successful. Passion is a strange thing; it's a deep, powerful, almost overwhelming emotion that overcomes you. You can’t hide it or even dismiss it. But you can harness it to use it to your advantage in starting or running your own business. Passion is a tool that provides you with a competitive advantage. No, it won’t pay the bills right away, but it gives you the energy that is crucial to move forward in any venture. It will help you create new ideas and view failures as opportunities for success. Passion is what all successful businesses are made of.
So ask yourself…how passionate are you about your product or your services? Have you done your homework and researched the pros and the cons? Can you take the disappointments along the way and turn them into opportunities? When it comes to your business are you willing give it your all? Can it be done…or can you “Let it go?” I know I can't. - CT