Archives: Business

Space is valuable…don’t waste it.

It’s true. Supermarkets are much smarter than the average professional…doctor, lawyer, writer, photographer, and on and on. Supermarkets know the value of space. If something doesn’t sell, they won’t keep it on the shelf. Every foot counts.

Professionals on the other hand, give away valuable space…on their business card. The backs of most business card are empty. For a few extra dollars they can have more information that could be a value to your customers. Don’t waist the back of your business card…space is valuable.

Is there another way?

If you look in you aren’t getting in. Looking in is like procrastination and complaining. All you accomplish is wasting time. In order to get in you might try one or more of these paths. Sometimes creativity is the most important skill you can have. Creativity is all around us if you know how to look.

  1. Make a plan. A realistic plan…not something that you’ll ignore tomorrow.
  2. Seek out advice. You may be smart, but others may have the information that you need to succeed.
  3. Look for another path. You may be looking for the wrong entrance.
  4. Maybe you are trying to get into the wrong place. Sometimes, starting something new is better than continuing to do the wrong thing. Being wrong could be a good thing, if it points you toward being right.

How many ways have you tried?


Marketing Advice from Lucy, Ralph, and George

The Web’s evolution as a medium of communications reminds me of how another communications medium started out too…television. Some of the evolution that took place almost 60 years ago may be applicable to the Web today. Three of the legends of early television may have relevant help for us. Here are some Web tips from Lucy, Ralph and George.

Early television experimented with formats. In the beginning, only one camera was used. Later on two, and finally three became the standard. If you look at early episodes of I Love Lucy, The Honeymooners and Burns and Allen, you’ll see how much could be done with simple camera setups. Perhaps Web designers, who think that using the latest plug-ins is effective, might learn a little from those old techniques.

Lucy, Ralph and George (Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, and George Burns, respectively) also might serve as models for what they said. They all used comedy. Perhaps more Web sites should include some humor. Another aspect of their comedy was that they didn’t use, or apparently need, profanity. Good clean fun was what they were able to achieve.

The story lines on each show were also simple. There were usually only the regulars who appeared…only four per show. They kept the story short (half-hour segments) and simple. Folks could understand the plot, and it would be over within the attention span of most viewers.

Another good point for Web creators…simple and short makes sense.

Another aspect of the old time television shows was that they were in black and white. As photographers like Ansel Adams would prove, black and white works. Colors often divert attention away from the content that you are trying to achieve on the Web. Dazzling sites may only be remembered for the glitz, not the message.

When creating a Web site it may be a good idea to remember these communications pioneers. Their programs are still being viewed.

Although it may appear that I’m a bit old fashioned in my taste (which I usually am), it’s also good to remember that some old-fashioned concepts are equally valid today. Learning from the past can save a lot of time, effort and even money.

Ben Franklin’s Views of the Web and … Today’s Business

Although Ben Franklin lived a few years before the Web started, many of his observations can be applied to the Internet today. Here is an ”interview” with Franklin, using his own words.

Joel: Mr. Franklin, how can we help those who don’t seem to want to work hard and follow common sense when it comes to starting a Web business?
Ben: They that will not be counseled, cannot be helped. If you do not hear reason she will rap you on the knuckles.

Joel: Can one read a book and succeed in business?
Ben: Read much, but not many books.

Joel: Should a person mortgage their house if they think that they have a great business idea and go for it?
Ben: If you can’t pay for a thing, don’t buy it. If you can’t get paid for it, don’t sell it.

Joel: What about the speed that things are changing now, if that bad?
Ben: When you’re finished changing, you’re finished.

Joel: How do you know when you have a good idea in business?
Ben: If passion drives you, let reason hold the rein.

Joel: How much does luck have to play in business success?
Ben: Diligence is the mother of good luck.

Joel: What about those who are deceptive in business?
Ben: Tricks and treachery are the practice of fools, that don’t have
brains enough to be honest.

Joel: Should one go with the latest software, gimmick, or advice?
Ben: Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

Joel: What about business failure? Many fear it.
Ben: The things which hurt, instruct.

Joel: How important is it to be rich?
Ben: Money never made a man happy yet, nor will it. The more a man has, the more he wants. Instead of filling a vacuum, it makes one.

Much of what Franklin said still applies to us today, on and off the Web.

Alternatives to the Résumé in the Hiring Process

How valuable are resumes in the hiring process? No one is going to say bad things about themselves. Most will describe themselves in the best possible way. Some lie about themselves. So, what can be used as an alternative?

Many years ago, I answered a want ad in the Sunday New York Times. They were looking for an editor for one of their photography oriented newsletters. Instead of asking for a résumé, they asked three factual questions about picture taking. Since this was long before the advent of the Internet it wasn’t as easy to look up the answers. You had to actually know the subject matter. I answered the questions, via snail mail, and waited for an answer. About six weeks later, I got an interview. Although I didn’t get the job, they did offer a book deal. The Amphoto Guide to Wedding Photography was the result.

By asking questions, instead of requesting a resume, they were getting information about my writing ability and knowledge of photography. A résumé would not have been the same.

Could asking questions work for all jobs? Probably!

Instead of asking questions about facts that are now easy to look up, questions would be asked such as, “What would you do if…?” Another question might be, “If a customer complained and it was our fault, how would you answer the complaint?” Finally, I would ask, “How would you improve our company?”

Unfortunately, not all who apply for a job can write a basic sentence or paragraph. Asking questions is also a subtle way of judging the literacy of a potential candidate.

If I were hiring, I’d also call the candidate and speak to him or her, before a potential face-to-face interview. Again, this is a way of checking the verbal abilities of a potential worker.

A resume is helpful, getting a writing sample and hearing what they sound like makes more sense to me as a way to begin the hiring process.

The Best Way to Get a Raise

When my father was a teenager in Poland, he made shoes. He would take his horse-and-buggy and go from town to town getting orders for shoes. He would then go home and make the shoes from scratch. Once he came to America, he worked in shoe factories for his entire life. After decades of work, he retired.

After being home a few years, his brother, also a shoe maker, told him about a job offer. They both agreed to help a young factory owner and went back to work as shoe operators. Operators were the workers who worked on sewing machines making leather shoes. The other operators were young men, mainly Hispanic, who were making minimum wages.

My father and uncle worked for a couple of years and decided that the travel was getting to them. Getting up at five in the morning was too much for them. The problem was that they felt funny about quitting. Their old fashioned sense of loyalty made it difficult to tell the boss that they wanted to retire…again. So…they came up with a plan. Instead of quitting, they decided to ask for a raise that they knew the boss would not agree to because they were asking for a 30% raise. My father went in to speak to the boss. He came out with a 30% raise!

Another six months went by and they really wanted to stop working. They asked for another raise. Again, they got the raise. Now they were making about 60% more than the workers who were doing the same work!

After about three months, you guessed it, they asked for another raise. They really, really wanted to stop working. Again, they got the raise. Now, they were earning twice what the other workers were making!

Within a few months they finally quit! The travel finally got to them.

At about this point, I asked my father why he got the raises. He smiled and said, “When they needed to make a new shoe style, I was the only one who could make the sample, without a form.” His experience in Poland, fifty years before, was the reason he was worth the pay.

You never know … when your education and experience will pay off … big.