Tuesday, January 25, 2011

There is no such thing as procrastination!

That's right, I said  it! Procrastination really doesn't exist. It's just misplaced energy. Why? As entrepreneurs when we have a project to complete, then we keep moving quickly and decisively.  We plow through any and all obstacles ensuring that our project will be successful. We are working towards a goal and we won't stop until we hit our target.  There are moments of indecision, but not procrastination!  Usually, I'm asking myself,  What's next? What do I need to do now?  Here a few quick tips to help you move forward:

1) Change something! Anything! Your clothes, perfume, your chair. Just make a change. If you have been reading nothing but biographies, financial statements, press releases and self-help books, it's time for a change. Pick up some good ole' fashion trash. Go to a discount bookstore and buy a book for a dollar and read it, then throw it away.  This will get your mind off of your business for a bit and help you laugh a little. If that's too much excitement for you, then switch your industry up a bit. Let's say you are focused only on service industry businesses, read a marketing book from a tech company.  Switching your industry focus will give you fresh eyes to your own company and will help you see it differently.

2) Look at your business from a different perspective.  If you are doing the majority of the sales for your business, imagine you are the company accountant looking at your sales report.  What will your accountant say when she notices an expensive lunch with a client that didn't buy?   Or imagine you are the janitor in your business, what ways could you improve the facility, upkeep, and operations.  Making mental switches with your entire staff will allow you to refocus on what is important and take into consideration all of the voices on your team, (not the one in your head).

3) Let's say you are  married, imagine your business from your spouse's perspective or even think about your children.  Do you eat, sleep and breathe your business? Do you use your children as advertisements? Do you think that going to your kids game will get you a seat at the table with your potential clients? Has your family become tools to success instead of keys to long lasting happiness?

4) If you think you are procrastinating, start making it a practice to write everyday. You may want to stagger this process. For instance, consider writing about something for 10 minutes at a time. You may think that's not a long time, but if you are not in the habit of writing, then it may take time to get used to it.
Once you build your stamina, you can start writing more things about your business or responses to things that you may have read.  Either way, writing your thoughts out can motivate you and allow you to work out ideas before you speak about them.

5) Go on vacation. Now, you may think, I'm starting a business, I don't have time for vacation. Take one anyway. A vacation doesn't have to be to a far off place, it could be a nice drive to a town you have never been to. You can pretend to be a tourist. Go to your local library and pick up a guide book for your city and explore.

6) Find things to laugh at.  Laughter relaxes your mind and body.  Personally, there are some videos on youtube that I can watch repeatedly and laugh. If I am in a rut, I may watch one of those to clear my mind.  One thing about youtube, it can be used as a procrastination device, so beware!

7) Play this song and you'll be fine!

Monday, January 24, 2011

How to create a Website for a Cheap Entrpreneur

You are an entrepreneur with a low budget, lack of experience, and limited time.  You want to create a website that would rival Coca-Cola and make Apple quiver! You only know how to use the internet to search for your horoscope, you don't know what CSS or HTML is!  You want your customers to buy from you after one glance.  How do you create a website that will be effective and stand out in the crowd? That is a question that many entrepreneurs have and don't know how to answer.

First I will regale you with my mistakes!  I thought creating a website was easy.  I thought that I could just go on line and press a button and that was it.  That's how I ended up with Go Daddy.com.

Go Daddy.com
They lured me with their cheap domains and colorful graphics!  They also tricked me with a quick way to create a website with a program called Website Tonight.  I tried it, but my page looked static.  After I finished, it looked like I had purchased a cardboard box instead of something that was breathing life.  But the worst part of it all was the customer service department.

Customer Service
Usually when I called customer service I had tried everything I could to figure out how to change a graphic or design to the page. I never called customer service as my first line of defense. Customer service was often my last resort.  I don't know if I was calling at the same time and speaking to the same customer service rep, but this guy spoke to me in a very condescending tone and kept using words like, obviously, or phrases like, It's really simple, didn't you see.... Unfortunately, it wasn't obvious to me nor did I see whatever he was talking about.  I thought the template would work automatically. It didn't.

Go Daddy.com has McDonald's beat when it comes to upselling. As soon as you decide to leave, they have so many pop-ups and additional things to purchase that you can easily be confused into thinking you need all of that to start your website.  You don't. Focus on the basics and the rest will come later.

The Web Designer who will do it for cheap!
In my neighborhood there was always a street mechanic who could change your car oil for 10 bucks or put in an engine for $100.  We all know what happens next...the street mechanic will puncture the oil valve or the engine would take a week to drop.
Customer Service
A lot of times this designer will not call you back when you want them to.  They will insist that they know what they are doing.  They will argue with you about small things like photo placement.  The site may look good, but they won't test it out to see if it will work.  If they aren't doing this full-time or they don't really need the money to live off of they will put their 9-5 first.  You will have to wait in the background. They will miss deadlines and dates and you won't be able to do anything about it.
A lot of times, they really can make a site look great! The problem is do you have the time to wait?
Expensive! It can be very frustrating to ask a lot for a little. If you are just starting out, why waste time trying to work with someone who is in the same boat as you.

I found Wix.com while I was searching graphic design pages.  It was listed as the best free site online. It is great! All of the files can be uploaded easily with point and click buttons.  The website is bright, cheery and the range of options is amazing.  But there are some things you should know! Especially in the android world!
Wix has loads of pictures to choose from and a variety of styles to make your page stand out.  If you want child friendly pages, then you can design it one way, if you want a serious photo blog click another button.  I know two people who I suggested this site to and they are using it for their business.
Customer Service
I never called customer service with Wix. I started the site, but didn't finish it.
It's free! Unfortunately, you have to deal with banner ads and other things floating across your page, but if you want something cheap, then Wix is a good place to start.
I have to add a cons section because this one is a biggie! As of January 2011, you can not read a wix created website on an iPad, iPhone, or any other android.  The flash based content makes it difficult for android devices to read. I currently reside in Japan and most people use their mobile phones to search for things before they use a home computer.  In the second incarnation of my website it was all designed in flash.  Unfortunately, I had a lot of complaints about the site being unreadable.  I even tested it out myself at a variety of internet cafes, Apple stores, and other places and I couldn't access the flash site on a regular basis.

Site Build It!
Have to be honest, I haven't used this method. However, Lisa, from How 2 Create A Website has loads of information on her youtube channel! Watch this video and all of her other ones for more info about Site Build it!

I'm using WordPress to create my current site. It was very easy to upload through BlueHost and start using the templates. But there is a catch!!!!!! Wordpress has lots of templates, but you have to customize them.  When I say I am a computer novice, I am not exaggerating.  I tried to use a template called Arras.  It was difficult for me. I spent nights trying to figure out CSS and HTML code. I was trying to customize my page and make it look like the demo. That was too much work!!!!  Fortunately, a friend suggested I download a template that still uses the functions of WordPress without reading any code. I downloaded Elegant Themes and got to work!
Graphics from Elegant Themes
Looks great and easy to use! See for yourself Camp Roadless Summer!  My friend Alan uses Elegant Themes for his website Real Talk Japan.  Alan is a lot better at designing websites than I am.  If you look at my header, that was done in Photoshop.  Alan designed it, I didn't.  The images look vibrant and sharp.  I used a regular camera to take the pictures for the site and they look pretty good to me.
Customer Service
Fantastic! I designed my website over the New Year's holiday. Now you and I know that in any country, New Year's is party time!  Fortunately, the moderators at Elegant Themes doesn't know that.  f you post a question in the Forums section of your theme, the moderators will respond pretty quickly.  I still had a few problems with setting up the site. Sometimes a link didn't show up properly or a page would disappear.  Luckily, the moderators would give me or anyone else, step by step instructions on how to make the changes.
You can't beat it! You have to pay for Blue Host which was about $84.  Then I paid an additional $34 for the theme. The membership fee gives you access to other templates and the moderated forum! If you are a small business owner like myself. Then you need support that you can get at all times.

I hope some of my tips helped you! There is no need to go out there and make the same mistakes that I did. There is a lot more I could say on this topic, but I'll leave that for another time.  Just remember, just because you are a cheap entrepreneur doesn't mean you have to keep stumbling and falling.  Do your research! I didn't and it cost me a lot of time and money. Check out the links and the different services I highlighted and let me know what you think!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

5 Games to play that will lead to Financial Freedom

It's 2011 and getting the jump on your financial future is more important than checking your facebook updates! How can you create wealth and have fun at the same time?

I'm sure many of you played Monopoly when you were a tiny tyke, but how many of you looked at the real lessons that the game taught?  Buy three houses then put a hotel on it. Buy an entire block and you are on your way to real wealth!!!

Pros: It's cheap. If you play with the idea of teaching someone the possibilities of buying property you can turn it into a learning game. Monopoly has developed a variety of games that you can play online, on your phone, Nintendo DS, etc. The online Monopoly World version encourages you to trade, make deals and counter offers to players for their properties.

Cons: The message is a bit cutthroat. For example, the objective of the Property Management game is, "Make as much money as you can, and drive your opponents into bankruptcy." (http://board-games.pogo.com/games/monopoly) For some of you, this may sound like a grand way to teach someone, but for me, it doesn't seem to make sense. Why drive all of your opponents into bankruptcy? Why not teach them about philanthropy instead?  I played the online world version and it was a bit too much for me.  The money remained in the millions and as an instructional tool it moved too fast for me. 

Real Estate Investment Game
This game takes buying real estate into a whole new territory. You can play this game with Real Money or Virtual Money. If you scroll over the properties you will get information about the selling price and more. 

Pros: If you want to play games online about real estate, then this may be for you. It offers you a chance to learn how to examine properties online. 

Cons: Why play in  a virtual world and put up real money, when you can play in the real world and put up real money. I have heard of cases where people are making real money while living in a virtual world, but it just doesn't appeal to me.  

Find out more at Real Estate Investment Game!

B.E. Publisher
This website offers a variety of educational games that instill real world learning techniques for children. 

Pros: They offer textbooks and other curriculum support materials for the classroom.They have a free newsletter with information and updates. 

Cons: I went online to test it out and I couldn't. You have to buy the product to get a real look. 

Bizz in a Boxx

This program supports our youngest entrepreneurs! It teaches them how to set up and operate a small business.  I love this site because it encourages children and teens to create their own destiny.  One highlight on their website is their Featured CEO section.  In this section they show real kids and teens who have created their own businesses. 

Pros: Great way to encourage children to grow into an entrepreneur in an easy to use system!  They provide a workbook that helps children create a business plan.
Cons: I currently reside in Japan so I emailed the creator about bringing the product here.  She was a bit hesitant because she said the content is American based. I really don't think this is a problem. Business is business. Let's just teach the kids the basics!

Cashflow 101 and Cashflow for Kids

I have to admit I love playing Cashflow! I play at least once a month with Sequoia Entrepreneur Group!

Pros: You learn how to complete an Income Statement,  calculate your rate of Return on an Investment or ROI,  how to identify a good investment vs. a bad investment. Robert Kiyosaki, the creator, has tons of books that support his teachings from, Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Rich Dad's Guide to Investing, Before You Quit Your Job and a treasure trove of more educational materials and supplements to help you become a real investor.

Cons: The game is a bit expensive.  I found mine on an online auction site.  It is up to you to apply it to the real world. Many people play the game over and over again and sit on the sidelines instead of jumping  into the action. Some people who study business feel as if the content is over simplified.
This list compiled just a few resources that are waiting for you to jump in with both feet! Now, more than ever, there is no excuse not to be rich! Unless you spend more time checking your facebook status than building your future to financial freedom!