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Op/Ed

Treat your business like your first born child — you owe it to yourself

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Researching endlessly before opening, vetting every idea and method, and constantly refining those methods shouldn’t just be practiced by new moms with their first child but also business owners with their businesses.

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Let’s start with a story. A friend of a friend has the Child Madness. You know what I’m talking about. She’s expecting, and she’s read or is reading every word ever written on the production and maintenance of very small people.

She’s got every child-rearing trend on lock, annotated with ten arguments for it and twelve against. She may be knitting things. And of course – to judge by my own online experience, I’m pretty sure this is federal law for parents-to-be – she’s Facebooking every last bit of the above.

Quite right, too. Having a child is a Big Deal. I don’t even have one of the little creatures. All’s I got is a considerably littler sister. It’s not even the same thing, and real talk: she’s got a great boyfriend (which, being the protective older brother, translates to “boyfriend I don’t want to tase unconscious and FedEx to space”), a job that probably paid more last month than I’ve made this year, and I still spend a solid 51% of my RWM – that’s Random Worrying Memory – on her wellbeing. Raising that to the level proper for a person you created? I can’t imagine. Literally. Wigging out is called for.

Thing is, FoaF is also a business owner. Roundabout the same time she was burning through baby books and cranking classical for her lower abdomen, she asked the friend we had in common how to put together a P&L sheet. She’d been in business ten years. Not long after, our friend asked what email client her business used. They do 40% of their business through email. She didn’t know. What?

I’m not equating the value of a child to a business. To my knowledge, I’m not a sociopath. But it did get me thinking, and I spotted a lesson.

Why not worry about one the way you worry about the other?

Is there a better example, anywhere, of all-out borderline compulsive prep work than expecting parents? Seriously, spend five minutes on Facebook. I’ll wait. Books and classes, diet and exercise, and it all starts on day one, part of the process the moment the appropriate thing turns blue. “Eh, I’ll wing it” ain’t exactly best practice. Say what you want about the Child Madness: nobody cares more about the creation of something new.

So if you want to build something, take the tip. Next time, instead of sighing or snickering when an unduly detailed update on somebody’s Child Countdown flits across the Internet, follow their lead. I mean, not Mozart and yoga, unless that’s your thing. But read up. Take classes. Get with people who have already done what you’re doing. And – this is the important bit – do all of that before you start.

You won’t know what’s coming until it’s come. Such is the nature of creation. Ask a parent, or an artist, or an entrepreneur. But ask them again and they’ll tell you, preparing the ground and learning best practices from people who have been where you are is your best shot at coming through the unknown with a happy result.

>When you want to build, give yourself a little Child Madness. It works.

Matt Salter is a writer and former fundraising and communications officer for nonprofit organizations, including Volunteers of America and PICO National Network. He’s excited to put his knowledge of fundraising, marketing, and all things digital to work for your reading enjoyment. When not writing about himself in the third person, Matt enjoys horror movies and tabletop gaming, and can usually be found somewhere in the DFW Metroplex with WiFi and a good all-day breakfast.

Op/Ed

Get off of Facebook and sell my friggin’ house already

(EDITORIAL) We all have to be online, but how do you balance dominating the web with farting around on Facebook?

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I’m not anti-social media

Yes, that was a baited title and No, no one said that to me.  But they could if I don’t do my job as a listing agent first and foremost.  I am NOT an anti-social media advocate (not at all, I <3 love social media!) but I AM a consumer advocate and if you are an agent your consumers are buyers and sellers, period.

Do you want to know what the awesome sauce of being a top listing agent is? It is servicing a listing as you would want your own home to be serviced.  Think about that for a minute.  If you had a home for sale, what would you expect the listing agent to do?  You may not have even thought about it in this perspective before, but it can be a pretty handy tool to up your game and build client loyalty and provide your consumers, your clients, with the type of service they RAVE about.

I would EXPECT my Super Star Ace Listing Agent to:

1) Dominate the Internet with my listing, including maps, pictures, details, school info etc.  I’d want to be able to Google my address and find my listing in many different locations.

2) I would want to be able to reach my listing agent quickly, in my preferred communications manner (text, email, phone).

3) I would expect detailed updates each time they showed the house (feedback) and monthly updates on all the marketing my listing agent has done that month for my property (and I’d like to know what is working and where the traffic is coming from, technically and geographically).

4) I for SURE want to be assured that when someone wants to see my listing, that the listing agent makes it very easy and accommodating for it to be shown.

5) If I saw my agent on Facebook, Twitter or other social media, I’d be cool with it as LONG as they were doing the above first.  If they haven’t had time to update me, show my listing or give me feedback, they sure as Heck don’t have time to be on any social media site.

6) I’d EXPECT my listing to be on my listing agent’s blog or website (I would not take kindly to the idea that my agent’s blog or website is NOT the place for my listing to be, so if you, Blogging Purist Agent, don’t have a main site where your listings are highlighted, I’d rethink that strategy, my main clients are my listing clients, not blog visitors who don’t want to see my listings, this is a REAL ESTATE BLOG and I SELL MY LISTINGS).

7) I would NOT want to know that my listing agent has a bad reputation for spamming anyone.

8) I would expect my listing agent to be fully abreast of my competition not only when they list the property, but monthly so that we  can make decisions together regarding price changes based on informed knowledge.

9) I would want to know that my listing, regardless if it’s lower than the rest of my agent’s inventory, is getting the same treatment that all of the others do.  If they wanted my business, then respect it. Don’t just take my listing to build your inventory book and treat me like a red-headed step child.

10) Finally, I’d want to know that my agent is knowledgeable, approachable, professional and dedicated to selling my listing as quickly as possible for the highest the market will bear.

Have you done your job?

If you, fellow agents, have some disgruntled listing clients or clients who don’t want to reduce their price even when the market indicates it should, look at the above and see if you have done your job as you would have expected it to be done for your own property.  Where did you fall short?  What can you rectify now?  Build your business around the desired consumer experience and expectation and you can’t go wrong.

You might do all of things, you might do more, and they might seem elementary.  If so, Great, go have a blast on Facebook and bring in more great business from great clients, but if not, get your own house in order before looking for more houses to sell. No pun intended.

PS: I have seen agents (and even myself in moments of weakness) not provide the service above, and when I look back at my less-than-perfect self, I just shake my head, pull up my bootstraps and get back to being that agent that I want to be.  Where I most often fall down is simply letting the clients know what is going on.

I somehow forget that they don’t KNOW their single property site has been viewed 5,000 times, or that there is a foreclosure in the neighborhood that wasn’t there before, etc.  I need to always keep them as informed on their listing as I am so they can feel secure and up-to-date.  That is exactly what I would want to be if it were my home on the market….

This editorial was originally published in 2010 on The American Genius by Janie Coffey.

#giterdone

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Op/Ed

Is Instagram really anything more than a narcissism engine?

(EDITORIAL) The more Instagram followers we have, the more likes we average, and the more we want. Let’s discuss.

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Social media platforms are, I would postulate, some of the most significant contributors to our rapidly-developing culture of narcissism. This is especially true of Instagram, which is basically the social media version of a self-promoting picture book.

Full disclosure: I love Instagram. Between all the dumb crap that my cats do, and a weird recent obsession with trying to start up a fitness channel, I have plenty of self-validating content to post around the clock — and the subsequent “likes”, follows, and comments make me feel like I, a single participant in one of the largest social media platforms around, matter. That’s what’s so great about Instagram.

Unfortunately, that’s also what’s so dangerous about the seemingly innocuous platform. Everything we post — and I truly challenge you to find a counterexample here — is from a validation-seeking standpoint. While you can certainly make a case from this perspective for almost any social media contender, I believe that Instagram is the worst offender here.

Here’s why: rather than “asking” others to validate our words (and maybe an occasional meme or selfie) a la Facebook, Instagram is sheer self-promotion.

We use our bodies, our pets, our food, our surroundings, our belongings — basically any attractive asset available — to fulfill our insatiable need for validation.

The more followers we have, the more likes we average, the more we want.

Don’t get me wrong, this makes IG completely invaluable from a business standpoint. We can use our accumulated follower bases to influence and control our brands, which – while still self-serving — can have positive effects outside of our own personal growth.

Unfortunately, these factors also make Instagram downright devastating to that same personal growth.

Now, I’m certainly not going to stop using (and abusing) Instagram for my own personal gain — and neither should you.

I’m also not going to pretend for a second that anything I say or do on IG is for a purpose other than validating the superficial qualities of my own existence, be they trivial or otherwise.

And, should you agree with me, I would encourage you to do the same.

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Op/Ed

Morning rituals of highly successful people – do you have one?

(EDITORIAL) From start to finish, the daily life of each successful person is very much dictated by their family and job. But there are definitely some patterns that we can all incorporate into our own morning rituals to achieve higher success and order.

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Fleximize took a look at the morning habits of 26 of the country’s most successful individuals to include the President of the United States Barrack Obama, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steve Jobs and even Oprah Winfrey.

What was discovered? Well, each of the men and women on their chart start their day early with time blocked out for exercise and meditation, breakfast and family. In short, things that are important!

Someone, somewhere coined it best: “If it has to happen, then it has to happen first!” Everyone has an “it.” Anyone who has managed to find professional success is surely embracing this philosophy. The first hour(s) of the day are used doing whatever is one’s top-priority activity. And no sooner do you start you risk the priorities of everyone else creeping in.

Interestingly enough, exercising in the morning is one of the group’s top priorities. It’s been said many times that exercise helps keep productivity and energy levels up and better prepares us for the everyday challenge of achieving all we can.

From start to finish, the daily life of each successful person is very much dictated by their family and job. But there are definitely some patterns that we can all incorporate into our own lives to achieve higher success and order.

An Insider article found that “the most productive people understand how important the first meal of the day is in determining their energy levels for the rest of the day. Most stick to the same light, daily breakfast because it works, it’s healthy for them and they know how the meal will make their mind and body feel.”

The Fleximize chart demonstrates that successful people consider the quiet hours of the morning an ideal time to focus on any number of things: important work projects, checking email, meditation. And what’s more, spending time on it at the beginning of the day ensures that it gets complete attention before others chime in.

So check the chart and find someone you can relate to.

BI points out that planning the day, week, or month ahead is a crucial time management tool designed to keep you on track when you’re in the thick of it. Using the mornings to do big-picture thinking helps you prioritize and set the trajectory of the day!

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