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Op/Ed

3 business tips subtly offered in bingeworthy series, Stay Here

(EDITORIAL) Stay Here is not only our new favorite Netflix show to binge, it will subtly educate you about business along the way.

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stay here netflix

Thanks to the dawn of Netflix, we’re all accustomed to binge-watching our favorite shows, then feeling dead inside when there are no more episodes left, and going in search of a new series to obsess over. My newest favorite is Netflix’s Stay Here, starring America’s Sweetheart (sorry, Paige), Genevieve Gorder, and former-DJ, current broker, Peter Lorimer.

They’ve tapped into the wildly underserved (by HGTV, TLC, and others) short term rental market and help owners transition to mini-hoteliers. We watched the entire series in one night, thinking it would be another lame home makeover show, finding ourselves surprised by the quality, and eager for a second season.

Meghan O’Keefe at Decider similarly asserted that she was skeptical going into the series, but said, “I was soon transfixed by the show.”

What stood out to O’Keefe is that their motives are ultra clear (to promote these properties) while traditionally, makeover shows promoting designers’ brands are more opaque with their intent.

What stood out to us is how universal Gorder and Lorimer’s business advice was, with four consistent themes woven into each episode:

1. Focus on what sets you apart.

Every professional is scared of losing any opportunity, so it is common to keep your marketing broad. For example, if you ask a Realtor what their ideal referral looks like, almost everyone says, “I help people buy and sell homes.”

Uh, which people? Which types of homes? Do you focus on buyers or do you focus on sellers? If you say you’re a Realtor, we already know that you help people buy and sell homes, but we’re not going to refer to you over the 8,000 other agents int he city.

The fear of missing out on opportunities overwhelms entire industries, but saying “I help first time home buyers in downtown Dallas” or “I love working with people that are downsizing” is far more memorable, and plants a seed of need in peoples’ head. In two years after meeting you at a networking event, if they hear of a first time buyer in Dallas, they’re going to recommend you in a heartbeat whereas they would have already forgotten you by now.

The same can be said in Stay Here. The duo grooms every homeowner to understand what makes them stand out, and focuses squarely on that with every ounce of their effort. And every business professional should do the same.

stay here firehouse

2. Refine your model.

Many of the owners in the show frequently treat their short term rental as a hobby. But Lorimer (whose focus is the business) coaches every homeowner into understanding that if you’re taking someone’s money for something, you must deliver.

But what are you delivering?

Many people enter an industry and don’t set up any sort of business model, it’s more like throwing spaghetti at the wall and hoping something sticks. And this tip is one of the most subtle offered by the show.

Without spoiling too much, one episode of Stay Here had an owner that ran out of budget for furniture, so in the town that is a destination for antiquing, they went to a few shops the owner knew, and curated fine furniture and art in the rental that is for sale in the actual unit. I was blown away at the creativity and how they not only helped design an interior, they gave the homeowner a business model (short term rental owner acting as a boutique hotel owner with antique and art curation).

Brilliant. What are you doing in your industry that is different than your competitor? How are you partnering with ancillary services in creative ways that no one else is? Consider your model and how it can be refined (and trust me, after watching that episode, you’ll be inspired to do just that).

3. Create a social media moment.

Every episode has a “social media moment” in the form of a bold interior design choice that offers a space that is so photogenic people will insist on taking selfies there.

And for the first time ever, a show understands hashtag activation, giving each property a unique (albeit verbose) hashtag that is woven into each property visibly, on the website, and throughout social media efforts.

The point is that they empowered the renters to do the social media FOR the homeowner.

How does that convey to your business? Obviously, if you have a storefront, is there a spot that is selfie-worthy that includes a visible hashtag? Whether it’s a mural on the side of your building or a unique display, if you have a standard store with no “social media moment” offerings, you’re not giving people an excuse to photograph your shop and share it.

Maybe you’re a Realtor – is there something in every listing that is worth photographing, and a hashtag that goes along with the property? Hair stylists – is there a post-design space that is luxurious and all about taking selfies, even if it’s a simple backdrop in a well-lit corner of your salon?

The bottom line there is to give people a reason to do your social media marketing for you.

No matter what you do for a living, be sure to go stream Stay Here – it’s great brain candy with so many actionable pieces of advice that can be translated to so many other types of businesses!

Op/Ed

Kakeibo: The Japanese art of spending wisely

(EDITORIAL) If regardless of how much money you make, it seems like you’re always short a buck, take a hard look at how you are spending. It could save you a lot.

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control your spending

Raise your hand if you have cash in your wallet.

What is a wallet you ask.

I jest. I know you know what a wallet is. (I hope.) But, sometimes I wonder if cash will go the way of the rotary phone. Seems most folks I know use debit cards, Venmo or their phones to pay for things nowadays.

Ever notice when you go to the store and have a debit or (worse) a credit card at your disposal, your plan to spend $20 ends up more like $50-$100. For example, anyone who shops at Target knows that when they ask you at the checkout, “Did you find everything you needed,” the answer is “ugh… Yes, and then some.”

Living in a plastic economy has made us less cognizant of how we spend money. But, leave it to the Japanese to have a system for putting the thought into buying. It’s called Kakeibo (pronounced kah-ke-boh) and it translates to “household finance ledger” and it’s something most Japanese folks learn to use from the time they are wee children.

The system began in 1904 and was “invented” by a woman name Hana Motoko (also known as Japan’s first female journalist), according to an article on MSNBC. The system is a no-frills way of approaching finances, whether personal or business.

Now, some folks are great at keeping a budget and knowing where the money is going. My mom, for example was the best bookkeeper. Unfortunately, her skills with money didn’t pass down to me. So, I actually purchased a Kakeibo book to try and get my finances in better shape.

You don’t need some special book (save your money), though you can find lots of resources online, including these downloadable forms, but in actuality all you need is a notebook (preferably one to take with you) and a pen. No Technology Required.

If you have been spending money and not knowing where it is going, then it’s going to take some work to change your habits around money.

In her article on MSNBC, Sarah Harvey says what makes Kakeibo different than using an Excel spreadsheet or budget software is the act of physically writing purchases down – it becomes a meditative way of processing spending habits. “Our spending habits are deeply cemented into our daily routine, and the act of spending also includes an emotional aspect that is difficult to detach from,” Harvey says.

As a business owner or entrepreneur, it is also easy to get sucked into believing you have to have new technology, systems and bells and whistles that maybe you don’t need – just yet. Spending goals for a business, just like a personal budget, are important if you plan to stay on track and not lose sight of where your money is going. Lord knows the money flies out the door when starting any new project.

Based on the Kakeibo system, there are some key questions to ask before buying anything that is nonessential (whether for your home or business):

• Can I live without this item?
• Can I afford it? (Based on my finances)
• Will I actually use it?
• Do I have space for it?
• How did I find the item in the first place? (Did I see it in an IG feed? Did I come across it after wandering into a store, am I bored?)
• What is my emotional state today? (Calm? Stressed? Celebratory? Feeling bad about myself?)
• How do I feel about buying it? (Happy? Excited? Indifferent? And how long will this feeling last?)

For Harvey, who learned about Kakeibo while living in Japan, using the system forced her to think more about why she was making purchases. And, she says it doesn’t mean you should cut out the joy of buying, just possibly making better choices when needing retail therapy on a crappy day. She found the small changes she was making were having a positive impact on her savings.

How to be more mindful when spending:

• See something you like, wait 24 hours before buying. Still need it?
• Don’t be a sucker for sales.
• Check your bank balance often. Can you afford what you’re buying?
• Use cash. It’s a different feeling having that money in your hand and letting it go.
• Put reminders in your wallet. What are your goals? Big trip. Then, do you really need new headphones, a bigger TV, a new iPhone, etc.
• Pay attention to what causes you to spend. Are you ordering every monthly service because of some Instagram influencer or, because of some marketing you get online. Change your habits, change your life.

Using the Kakeibo system of a notepad and pen or a Kakeibo book for the process can help you identify goals you have for the week, month and year and allow you to stay on track. Remember, cash is still king.

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Op/Ed

5 Things your home office may not need

(EDITORIAL) Since many of us are working entirely from home now, we are probably getting annoyed at a messy desk, let’s take a crack at minimalism!

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desk minimalism

COVID-19 is changing our behaviors. As more people stay home, they’re seeing (and having to deal with) the clutter in their home. Many people are turning to minimalism to reduce clutter and find more joy. There are many ways to define minimalism. Some people define it as the number of items you own. Others think of it as only owning items that you actually need.

I prefer to think of minimalism as intentionality of possessions. I have a couple of dishes that are not practical, nor do I use them very often. But they belonged to my grandma, and out of sentimentality, I keep them. Most minimalists probably wouldn’t.

They say a messy desk is a sign of creativity. Unfortunately, that same messy desk limits productivity. Harvard Business Review reports that cluttered spaces have negative effects on us. Keep your messy desk, but get rid of the clutter. Take a minimalistic approach to your home office. Here are five things to clean up:

  1. Old technology – When was the last time you printed something for work? Most of us don’t print much anymore. Get rid of the old printers, computer parts, and other pieces of hardware that are collecting dust.
  2. Papers and documents – Go digital, or just save the documents that absolutely matter. Of course, this may vary by industry, but take a hard look at the paper you’ve saved over the past month or so. Then ask yourself whether you will really ever look at it again.
  3. Filing cabinets – If you’re not saving paper, you don’t need filing cabinets.
  4. Trade magazines and journals – Go digital, and keep your magazines on your Kindle, or pass down the print versions to colleagues who may be interested.
  5. Anything unrelated to work – Ok, save the picture of your family and coffee mug, but clean off your desk of things that aren’t required for work. It’s easy for home and work to get mixed up when you’re working and living in one place. Keep it separate for your own peace of mind and better workflow. If space is tight and you’re sharing a dining room table with work, get a laundry basket or box. At the start of the workday, remove home items and put them in the box. Transfer work items to another box at the end of the day. It might seem like a little more work, but it will give you some boundaries.

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Op/Ed

5 Consumer behavior shifts caused by the pandemic

(EDITORIAL) COVID-19 has changed the way a lot of people look at and act in the new world. These are the biggest 5 changes you should be aware of consumers.

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consumers priorities

COVID-19 is affecting businesses in multiple ways, depending on the industry. One thing that affects every business, regardless of industry is customer behavior. It’s no surprise that customers are changing behavior to meet the challenges of the pandemic. Google just released information that should help your business. It’s estimated that over 4 million people are staying home around the world to slow the spread of coronavirus. Use this information to help you shift your marketing efforts.

  1. Consumers are using multiple devices more than ever before.
    With kids home trying to do school, parents who are working, and people who are furloughed, content is being consumed at record rates. According to Google, Americans are watching 12 hours of media content each day.
  2. Increases in search for critical information.
    Online grocery shopping and cooking videos are top searches these days while Americans are staying home. Telemedicine is another hot search topic. People are looking for ways to stay home and protected.
  3. Consumers want to stay connected online.
    Google announced that in April, Google Meet hosted over 3 billion minutes of video meetings. YouTube has seen an increase in “with me” videos. People are filming themselves going about their day to connect with their friends and family. Virtual events have changed how people meet up.
  4. Routines are changing to be “internet-first.”
    Telecommuting is a top search these days as consumers try to find ways to work from home. People are looking for exercise options that can be managed at home. Consumers are using the internet to find options that keep them socially-distanced but connected to their routine.
  5. Self-care is taking a higher priority.
    Meditation videos are being consumed at a higher percentage than before. People are looking for books, games and puzzles to stay occupied at home.

Consider Your Business Against Consumer Behavior

COVID-19 restrictions may be easing, but consumer behavior may not change much until there is a vaccine. Your business can use this information to change your marketing to meet consumers at their point of need.

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