Midas Touch – Book Recommendation

goat with bad hair

Proud yet ridiculous

I’ve never paid much attention to Donald Trump; he’s always seemed a bit like a goat on a doghouse to me. But I recommend his book, Midas Touch (written with Robert Kiyosaki), to every business owner.

It’s an easy read, full of anecdotes and examples, and it makes total sense. It will help you to focus on the things you should be doing, and it will point out any problems you are trying to ignore. Some of the things covered are:

  • Strength of Character – You will never be successful if you spend money on things you don’t need and you waste your time. If you can keep your temper in check, force yourself to do the things you don’t want to do, and learn to spot quality people, well, then there’s hope.Midas Touch Book
  • Focus – If your job for the morning is to call potential clients and you hate that job, you will magically find twenty other things to do. Noon comes and you have checked e-mail 18 times, stared into space, interrupted your employees and changed your facebook status. Not productive.
  • Brand – Your brand is what you stand for. Are you honest, family oriented, kind, competent? Let that shine through; people respect those things. If you are insecure and quick to anger, that will hurt your business. Get ahold of that.

There’s a lot to be learned from these two successful entrepreneurs. They’ve both made some whopper mistakes and had incredible successes. In Midas Touch they tell all.

A Word of Caution to the Thumb Typers

Angry message; poorly writtenCan you imagine my reaction when I saw this scrawled on top of an invoice I had sent out for a client? Did I think, “OMG. Am I an idiot? I must be; it says so right there”? No, I did not. I thought, “Wow, that Aaron is a hotheaded brat. He’s too young and stupid to run a business. And he can’t spell.”

Now, I know that this younger generation just entering the workforce grew up abbreviating and typing with their thumbs and incessantly sending out pictures of their cats. I’m fine with that (especially the cat pictures). But here’s the sad truth: people judge you by your writing. Before you send out that next email or memo or handwritten note, please take heed.

  • Abbreviations are fine if your meaning is clear, but ONLY if you would actually write the words out. I don’t think even hotheaded Aaron would think it was really OK to spell out that phrase on a piece of business correspondence.
  • Exclamation points have no place in business unless they express a positive message: Great!  Thanks!  See you then!  I’m on board with any of these. If you are so upset that you need an exclamation point, you should not be communicating by writing. You need to pick up the phone and discuss the matter. But calm down, first, please.
  • Spelling still matters. I know none of us is perfect, but please pay just a bit of attention to the combinations of letters you are throwing out into the Universe with your signature on it.

That concludes my lecture. You may go back to playing Candy Crush.

Honesty is the Best Policy

Million Dollar MondayAs The Office Manager For Rent, I have been a part of a lot of small businesses during the past 18 years, and I’ve noticed some patterns. Million Dollar Monday is my attempt to analyze what my most successful clients (over a million dollars in sales per year) have had in common.

The Man of Honor

Sorry about the sexist title: it turns out there is no noun in the English language that describes a person who is honest in his/her business dealings, so I had to go with an outdated phrase. (There are plenty of nouns to describe a dishonest business person: charlatan, cheat, con artist, crook, hustler, swindler, but none to describe an honest one. Hmmmm.)

Anyway, along with taking care of themselves and spending most of their time promoting their companies, my most successful clients have always gone out of their way to be honest. They keep their word to their vendors and employees, by paying them on time, and they honor the agreements they make with their customers. If some hazy situation arises, they always err on the side of honesty.

A good example is when a check comes in and I can’t find a corresponding invoice in Quickbooks. Some of my clients over the years have told me to just deposit the check and if their customer overpaid, they’ll figure it out and we’ll refund them. I guess when you are taking in thousands of dollars a day, it’s hard to keep track of who owes what.

My most successful clients, however, always tell me to investigate. They have me take the time to contact the company and determine if the check is actually a valid payment. If it’s not owed to us, they have me return it. It takes some time and effort, but it’s the right thing to do.

It doesn’t sound like a big deal, but the company that gets my phone call knows right then and there that they are dealing with an honest company. The entrepreneur who is in charge has passed his good ethics down to his whole company. Wouldn’t you love to know that about a company you deal with? And wouldn’t you continue to deal with them? Not only is honesty good for your soul, it’s good for your business.

Below are some related posts:

You Schmooze You Win

Work it Out

You Reap What You Let Grow

A green pumpkin that looks like a watermelonI am an amateur gardener: just how much of an amateur will soon be clear. My organic vegetable plot, fortified only by kitchen compost, grows whatever fruits and vegetables reseed themselves. This year I have slicing tomatoes, grape tomatoes, plum tomatoes: all in colors from yellow to red. But the best surprise was this watermelon vine. By early July it had this 6 inch fruit and I was psyched. EVERYONE in my  house likes watermelon.

A cat and 3 orange pumpkins

Tiners thinks pumpkins in August are stupid.

I let it take over. It climbed over my precious tomatoes and stunted my peppers with its shade. By the time I realized it was a pumpkin vine, it was too late. It’s mid August and I’m harvesting jack-o-lantern pumpkins at an alarming rate.

What does this have to do with your business? As an entrepreneur, you need to tend to your workers better than I tended my garden. You need to pay attention to the dynamics of your staff. If one employee gets disgruntled or insecure, discontent can fester faster than it took a pumpkin vine to strangle my garden. Pay attention to your employees’ interrelations and be prepared to step in. Nip it in the bud, as they say.

GOALS

  • When your employees interact, they should talk in a respectful manner, be willing to listen to differing opinions, and be tactfully honest.
  • When things go wrong, your staff should focus on fixing the problem instead of hurrying to assign blame.
  • Compliment your employees when you see them doing a good job. Ideally, they will pick up on your positive reinforcement and do the same with each other.

BARRIERS

  • Insecurity can wreak havoc on relationships. An insecure person will pick on others, often in the guise of “just messing around.”
  • Negative people are exhausting. People who can’t shut up while you are trying to think are exhausting. Often they are the same person.
  • A lazy worker in a group of hard workers will foster discontent.

Check in often with your employees. Focus on your goals for the team. Reinforce the good habits, and when you see employees who are fostering discontent, let them know. Likely they have no idea of the problems they cause. Like my pumpkin vine – they are just doing what they do.

Puff the Magic Dragon

ice scuplture dragon lit with blue light

Ice Dragon sculpted by Dawson List

I don’t have to look at a Profit and Loss statement to spot weakness in a business. All I have to do is listen. Any time I hear an employee shoot out a sharp exhale of breath, I know there’s a problem in that cave. That puff of air indicates frustration, and frustration is the fire-breathing killer of productivity.

Almost everyone wants to be productive. Your employees all WANT to do a good job and do it efficiently. They become frustrated when their efforts at productivity are thwarted. The problem is: most people don’t seem to see frustration as an indication that change is needed. Either they don’t realize how frustrated they are, or they know they’re frustrated but don’t think they can ask for a solution. . . I’m not really sure where the disconnect is. I have noticed that the source of irritation is often easily fixed. Some of the most common productivity-killers I have noticed are:

  • a lame stapler – if you have to use a stapler 40 times a day and it jams every other time, that’s a lot of frustration and time lost. $20 fixes the problem.
  • a bad mouse – if you see an employee slapping their mouse against the mouse pad in exasperation, tell them to order themselves a new mouse. They will love you forever.
  • running out of ink – we all have printers and they all need ink. If you keep a constant back up supply of said ink, there is no problem. If you wait until the ink runs out and then have to have someone run to the store in the middle of the day because all operations have ceased due to the lack of a printer, frustration will ensue. Your employees can’t work without the proper supplies. Keep the supply cabinet filled with ink, paper, envelopes and stamps. It’s just good business sense.
  • slow computers – I know – this one is a bit more complex than purchasing some ink. But slow computers are brutal to work with and something must be done. The good news is: some teenager you know can likely disable your cupcakes or add some rams or clean up your cache or some other thing that speeds everything up like magic.

These are just the things I have noticed lately. What drives you crazy at your job? Can you fix it?

Work it Out

Million Dollar MondayAs the Office Manager for Rent, I usually spend a couple of days a month in each of my clients’ offices. This gives me a good feel for their business and their lifestyle, but I’m not entrenched in the day-to-day grind. I see enough to evaluate their practices, and yet I still have the clarity of an outsider. Million Dollar Monday is my attempt to analyze what my most successful clients (over a million dollars in sales per year) have had in common.

The Athlete

Along with being the main face of their business, see my post on that here hyperlink to similar material every one of my million dollar clients is/was very fit. As busy as they are, they take time to care for themselves. They exercise; they eat well (lots of fruit and almonds and slimy green drinks). Does this have anything to do with their success as entrepreneurs? I believe that it does.

Athletes know how to push themselves. If they go out for a 5 mile run, they know that at some point they will likely think about quitting. Maybe it’s too hot or their iPod stops working or they just start thinking about all the other stuff they should be doing. But they keep running. They made a commitment to do a hard job and they follow through. That’s what athletes do. That’s also what successful business people do. They don’t quit.

Also, when you care for yourself, it shows. You move easily; you have energy; you’re not bogged down by aches and pains and inertia. Fit people tend to have a confidence in themselves and their abilities. They make the hard choices every day. (Do I go to the gym or do I go to Pizza Hut?) And when you do the hard thing every day, you feel good about yourself. It sounds subtle as I am trying to describe it , but I think it’s significant.

People want to respect the people they work with. If you are a business owner who is fit and confident, that’s going to be an asset. If you look like you have your life and habits under control, people will be more likely to trust that your business is also under control. My most successful clients ARE in control: of their habits and their businesses and their lives.

 

 

You Schmooze, You Win

Million Dollar MondayOver the past 18 years, I have been the office manager for up to a dozen entrepreneurs at a time. I work with their employees; I see their spending habits and work habits and social habits. But I’m also objective. I’m not entrenched in the day-to-day chaos of their business, so I am able to view things clearly. I am the ultimate insider/outsider and I see it all. Million Dollar Monday is my attempt to analyze what my most successful clients (over a million dollars in sales per year) have had in common.

The Schmoozer

Every one of my million dollar clients is/was a salesperson. I don’t mean they are salesy in that annoying used-car salesman type of way. They are relationship builders, or what I affectionately call “Schmoozers.” They talk on the phone; they go to events; they take people out to lunch; they stop by for a visit: In their every waking moment (it seems to me), they are connecting with someone.

What they DON’T  EVER do, is they don’t produce the product or service that they are selling. That’s the only way they have the time for all of this schmoozing. (I need to work on this one BIG TIME.) They can be away from the office/job site because their team is doing the actual work.

So there’s our first hurdle: If you’re a business of one, like I am, you will likely not hit a million dollars in yearly sales without help. The problem is, it’s scary to get into payroll and employees and TAXES. That’s why my Office Manager For Rent  business makes sense to a lot of entrepreneurs. They have me work on an as-needed basis, and at the end of the year they give me a 1099 (actually, most times, I give myself the 1099.) No payroll service needed.

Lots of freelancers are available on a 1099 basis – especially now, when unemployment levels are high. You can hire graphic designers, house painters, blog writers; I bet that any kind of help you need is out there on a temporary/as needed basis. It might not be what you are ready to do right now, but it should be on your business bucket list. If you want to make a million dollars in sales next year, you need to get some help. A small business grows best if its owner is out there selling its services.