Why You Should Embrace ‘Icky’ Sales and Marketing

If you’re in business, you’re in it to sell.

This is absolutely the first tenet. The whole purpose of being in business is to sell services or products to people who need them, allowing you to make profits in the process.

You’re in business to make money. To earn a decent living. To bring home a salary or an income that feeds your family. You’re not in this for back-pats or accolades or warm fuzzies. Praise is nice, but it doesn’t pay the bills.

Without sales, your business hits a dead end.

“But Jaaaaammes, selling is just so… so sleazy… so icky!”

Please. No it’s not. There is absolutely nothing distasteful about telling potential customers that you have something good they might be interested in. There’s nothing disgusting about promoting your products or services if you believe that what you sell is worth money.

Here’s the real truth of the matter:

If you feel uncomfortable selling, you lack faith in what you sell.

I learned this lesson long ago, and now it’s time for you to learn it too: If you don’t 150% believe that what you have to offer is worth someone’s money, then you’re going to feel unsure, uncertain and under-confident.

You’ll have trouble selling. You’ll have trouble telling people to buy – even if they really want what you have. You’ll feel awkward saying, “This is a good thing. You should get it.” You’ll feel uncomfortable asking for money because deep down, you don’t think that what you have is worth it.

Think about that a minute: If you felt 150% confident that you had an amazing offer that people should snap up right now because the deal was that good… don’t you think you’d step up to the plate?

“This is the best damned popcorn you’ll ever taste – and I swear after one buttery-sweet mouthful of this luscious stuff, you’ll never want that other crappy, over-salted dry cardboard again. Go on, try it! Have some and see for yourself!”

That’s convincing. That’s persuasive. That confident attitude makes people believe that yeah, this popcorn does seem to be better. And sure, they’ll have a try.


http://menwithpens.ca/ | Written by 

money in the hands

Icky. It’s a word that makes me shudder.

I shudder because this juvenile term is being used by fully grown adults. Business owners. People who should by now know a little more professionalism and who should speak words a touch above my 7-year-old’s current lexicon.

Really, people. Icky?

But using a childish term when you’re 40 or so isn’t what most turns me off. What really makes me roll my eyes is that some people equate ‘icky’ to a crucial aspect of business success. An aspect so integral to business survival that doing anything less than embracing it leads to fast, hard disaster:

Failure.

You see, if you’re in business, there’s really no room for ‘icky’ at all. In fact, if you start feeling ‘icky’ about an integral area of your business, you might as well just close up shop right now. Rip down your website. Turn away your customers. Because there’s just no hope.

What am I talking about? Sales and marketing, of course.

And there’s nothing ‘icky’ about it. Leer más “Why You Should Embrace ‘Icky’ Sales and Marketing”

Setting Goals to Succeed: Lessons from a Freelance Classical Musician


I never cease to be amazed by the number of players I meet who still believe in playing the classical music equivalent of corporate cubicle nation – clinging onto the notion that an orchestral job is fundamental to reputation and survival.

Those of us who have already escaped from the traditional straitjacket can assure you that life is infinitely more pleasurable and less stressful when you’re fully in control of your own destiny.

For classical music jobs, successful freelance musicians center their work around the concept of a “portfolio” career. In order to survive and thrive with such a lifestyle, just like learning to play an instrument, it is essential that you start with the basics in order to build solid foundations.

Following the method outlined below, I re-launched my classical music career after two decades out of the industry and have never looked back. It works! Leer más “Setting Goals to Succeed: Lessons from a Freelance Classical Musician”

7 Warning Signs Your “Big Idea” Is Going to Flop

By James Chartrand

Ever have a really great idea for a product?

You know, the kind of idea that leaves you slack-jawed and wide-eyed with wonder at the sheer potential of it all. You want to grab someone by the shoulders and explain the whole thing in a breathless rush, watching their eyes grow in wonder as they realize you’re going to be rich and famous. For the next few hours or even days, you find yourself revved up in high gear, eager to turn your big idea into reality.

Oh yeah. It’s an awesome feeling.

There’s only one problem: what comes up must go down, and sometimes big ideas do just that – they flop, hard. You could shrug it off and say that failure is really a learning experience, but wouldn’t you rather learn how to avoid those flops so you can save yourself time, money and heartache?

I know I would.

So here are seven warning signs your big idea is about to flop and seven ways to avoid landing with a splat:


Broken-Lightbulb

By James Chartrand | //blog.kissmetrics.com

Ever have a really great idea for a product?

You know, the kind of idea that leaves you slack-jawed and wide-eyed with wonder at the sheer potential of it all. You want to grab someone by the shoulders and explain the whole thing in a breathless rush, watching their eyes grow in wonder as they realize you’re going to be rich and famous. For the next few hours or even days, you find yourself revved up in high gear, eager to turn your big idea into reality.

Oh yeah. It’s an awesome feeling.

There’s only one problem: what comes up must go down, and sometimes big ideas do just that – they flop, hard. You could shrug it off and say that failure is really a learning experience, but wouldn’t you rather learn how to avoid those flops so you can save yourself time, money and heartache?

I know I would.

So here are seven warning signs your big idea is about to flop and seven ways to avoid landing with a splat: Leer más “7 Warning Signs Your “Big Idea” Is Going to Flop”

To Freelance or Not To Freelance, That’s The Question

Being a freelancer is serious business. This is why we’ve decided to make a collection of pro’s and con’s for you to help out a bit. Deciding if you’re going to keep that 9-5 job or dive into the world of freelancing can be quite tricky to figure out. There are many things speaking both for and against this. Many times, the positive aspects seem to be many, while the more “negative” or challenging sides can be more hidden to you until you’re actually facing them.

Here’s a list of 15 pro’s and 15 con’s of freelancing. We hope these tips can help you decide what to do, and also help you be better prepared for the future!
The Pro’s

Being positive human beings, we’re going to show you what we think are 15 of the biggest pro’s in choosing a freelance career.
Creative Freedom

Many freelancers best motivation to start up often is the chance to get full creative freedom. No boss to look over your shoulder and no co-workers that take all the best jobs. As a freelancer you will be able to choose what direction your work will take. It will be you and the client without anyone else. There have been studies to show that many people in creative jobs would actually accept a lower pay for the same amount of work given they get full creative freedom. This proves that it’s definitely important to many of us.


Copyright © 2009 – 2010 Onextrapixel.com. All Rights Reserved.
By: Hilde Torbjornsen

Being a freelancer is serious business. This is why we’ve decided to make a collection of pro’s and con’s for you to help out a bit. Deciding if you’re going to keep that 9-5 job or dive into the world of freelancing can be quite tricky to figure out. There are many things speaking both for and against this. Many times, the positive aspects seem to be many, while the more “negative” or challenging sides can be more hidden to you until you’re actually facing them.

Here’s a list of 15 pro’s and 15 con’s of freelancing. We hope these tips can help you decide what to do, and also help you be better prepared for the future!

The Pro’s

Being positive human beings, we’re going to show you what we think are 15 of the biggest pro’s in choosing a freelance career.

Creative Freedom

Many freelancers best motivation to start up often is the chance to get full creative freedom. No boss to look over your shoulder and no co-workers that take all the best jobs. As a freelancer you will be able to choose what direction your work will take. It will be you and the client without anyone else. There have been studies to show that many people in creative jobs would actually accept a lower pay for the same amount of work given they get full creative freedom. This proves that it’s definitely important to many of us.

Creative
Image credit: .lollo.

Setting Your Own Work Hours Leer más “To Freelance or Not To Freelance, That’s The Question”

Should You Charge Customers Late Fees?

When it comes to getting customers to pay on time, business owners typically use two approaches — carrots and sticks. Pay your bill early and you get a nice discount. Pay your bill late and you get smacked with a late fee.

The trouble is that neither of these solutions does the job it’s intended to do. Quick payers who’d pay on time anyway often take advantage of early-payer discounts, cutting into your company’s profit margin. Slow payers — often cash-strapped consumers or small business owners themselves — don’t have the money to pay late fees and may not pay you at all.

What’s the answer? Scrap this ineffective system of rewards and punishments and try to figure out why your customers are paying late and what you can do to make them pay you faster.


When it comes to getting customers to pay on time, business owners typically use two approaches — carrots and sticks. Pay your bill early and you get a nice discount. Pay your bill late and you get smacked with a late fee.

The trouble is that neither of these solutions does the job it’s intended to do. Quick payers who’d pay on time anyway often take advantage of early-payer discounts, cutting into your company’s profit margin. Slow payers — often cash-strapped consumers or small business owners themselves — don’t have the money to pay late fees and may not pay you at all.

What’s the answer? Scrap this ineffective system of rewards and punishments and try to figure out why your customers are paying late and what you can do to make them pay you faster.

For example, let’s see… Leer más “Should You Charge Customers Late Fees?”

Staying Motivated Through the Years

A reader once asked me a very interesting question–how do I stay motivated long-term when I don’t receive any raises or benefits as a freelancer? This got me thinking hard–just how do I keep myself motivated?

I was never really lucky enough to have a job with good benefits, bonuses or raises, so maybe the lack of these things doesn’t bother me as much as someone who did have them at a full-time job. Or, perhaps it’s because I feel like I do receive all of these benefits–and more.

There are tons of things that keep me motivated as a freelancer, so much so that I don’t think I would ever go back to any kind of regular job.

The trick is to reward yourself regularly for the hard work you do, much like a boss would. Here are some ways I’ve kept myself motivated through years of freelancing.


A reader once asked me a very interesting question–how do I stay motivated  long-term when I don’t receive any raises or benefits as a freelancer? This got me thinking hard–just how do I keep myself motivated?

I was never really lucky enough to have a job with good benefits, bonuses or raises, so maybe the lack of these things doesn’t bother me as much as someone who did have them at a full-time job. Or, perhaps it’s because I feel like I do receive all of these benefits–and more.

There are tons of things that keep me motivated as a freelancer, so much so that I don’t think I would ever go back to any kind of regular job.

The trick is to reward yourself regularly for the hard work you do, much like a boss would. Here are some ways I’ve kept myself motivated through years of freelancing.

Leer más “Staying Motivated Through the Years”

Better Time Management for Improved Cash Flow

We’ve all heard it: time is money. And as much as we sometimes hate to look at it in such base terms, it’s mostly true. As service providers (designers and developers), the time we spend on a project is directly proportional to how much we’re getting paid. How we spend our time also has a big effect on when money comes in.

Timeismoney in Better Time Management for Improved Cash Flow

If we want to get a better grip on our cash flow, we need to get a better grip on our time first. Sure, we all recognize that the time we spend working effects our overall income. But it’s often hard to see the relationship between time management and cash flow. Regardless of how muddy the relationship seems, there are direct ties between how you manage your time and how much money comes in when. Read on for more information on how to better manage your time so you can better manage your finances.
Take a Wide View

Wideangleclock in Better Time Management for Improved Cash Flow

Time management is often dealt with on a micro level. We look at our time in blocks of fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes, and assess how to best utilize those blocks. But when it comes to managing your time with an aim toward more stable cash flow, this micro-management doesn’t do much good.

What you need to do is take a macro view of how you’re spending your time, and manage it based on when you need to complete billable work. Rather than looking at time in blocks that make up a fraction of your day, look at it in terms of what you’re doing this week or this month.
Regular Billing Intervals

Regularintervals in Better Time Management for Improved Cash Flow

One thing you’ll want to consider when planning your long-term time management is the frequency at which you’ll be billing clients. There are a few things to take into account here. One has to do with how many projects you have going, and how staggered they are. Ideally, you’ll want your projects to overlap in such a way that you can send out bills on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. This means you’ll have money coming in virtually every week, which is a big plus for any freelancer’s cash flow.

The other thing to consider is how often clients are billed for work. Some designers might only bill their clients at the end of a project (in addition to a deposit up front, of course). While this results in larger payments, it also means payments are coming in less frequently. You’ll need to decide if you can justify billing more often during the project. Breaking down the project’s fee over three payments can not only aid your cash flow, but also your client’s.

Again, the goal here is to have money coming in on at least a semi-regular basis. Many freelancers will want payments arriving on a weekly basis, so there’s less budgeting involved. Others might prefer to have larger payments coming in less frequently. You’ll need to work out which system works better for you and the types of bills you have and then plan your projects so deadlines and billing cycles correspond with your desired payment schedule.


By Cameron Chapman

We’ve all heard it: time is money. And as much as we sometimes hate to look at it in such base terms, it’s mostly true. As service providers (designers and developers), the time we spend on a project is directly proportional to how much we’re getting paid. How we spend our time also has a big effect on when money comes in.

Timeismoney in Better Time Management for Improved Cash Flow

If we want to get a better grip on our cash flow, we need to get a better grip on our time first. Sure, we all recognize that the time we spend working effects our overall income. But it’s often hard to see the relationship between time management and cash flow. Regardless of how muddy the relationship seems, there are direct ties between how you manage your time and how much money comes in when. Read on for more information on how to better manage your time so you can better manage your finances. Leer más “Better Time Management for Improved Cash Flow”

The modern business plan

It’s not clear to me why business plans are the way they are, but they’re often misused to obfuscate, bore and show an ability to comply with expectations. If I want the real truth about a business and where it’s going, I’d rather see something else. I’d divide the modern business plan into five sections:

* Truth
* Assertions
* Alternatives
* People
* Money

The truth section describes the world as it is. Footnote if you want to, but tell me about the market you are entering, the needs that already exist, the competitors in your space, technology standards, the way others have succeeded and failed in the past. The more specific the better. The more ground knowledge the better. The more visceral the stories, the better. The point of this section is to be sure that you’re clear about the way you see the world, and that you and I agree on your assumptions. This section isn’t partisan, it takes no positions, it just states how things are.


It’s not clear to me why business plans are the way they are, but they’re often misused to obfuscate, bore and show an ability to comply with expectations. If I want the real truth about a business and where it’s going, I’d rather see something else. I’d divide the modern business plan into five sections:

  • Truth
  • Assertions
  • Alternatives
  • People
  • Money

The truth section describes the world as it is. Footnote if you want to, but tell me about the market you are entering, the needs that already exist, the competitors in your space, technology standards, the way others have succeeded and failed in the past. The more specific the better. The more ground knowledge the better. The more visceral the stories, the better. The point of this section is to be sure that you’re clear about the way you see the world, and that you and I agree on your assumptions. This section isn’t partisan, it takes no positions, it just states how things are. Leer más “The modern business plan”

Are you an elite?

In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one.

In more and more societies, though (including my country and probably yours), I’d argue that there’s a different dividing line. This is the line between people who are actively engaged in new ideas, actively seeking out change, actively engaging–and people who accept what’s given and slog along. It starts in school, of course, and then the difference accelerates as we get older. Some people make the effort to encounter new challenges or to grapple with things they disagree with. They seek out new people and new opportunities and relish the discomfort that comes from being challenged to grow (and challenging others to do the same).


In the developing world, there’s often a sharp dividing line between the elites and everyone else. The elites have money and/or an advanced education. It’s not unusual to go to the poorest places on earth and find a small cadre of people who aren’t poor at all. Sometimes, this is an unearned position, one that’s inherited or acquired in ways that take advantage of others. Regardless, you can’t just announce you’re an elite and become one. Leer más “Are you an elite?”

Consumer debt is not your friend

Here’s a simple MBA lesson: borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Borrow money if it improves your productivity and makes you more money. Leverage multiplies the power of your business because with leverage, every dollar you make in profit is multiplied.

That’s very different from the consumer version of this lesson: borrow money to buy things that go down in value. This is wrongheaded, short-term and irrational.


by Seth Godin
Here’s a simple MBA lesson: borrow money to buy things that go up in value. Borrow money if it improves your productivity and makes you more money. Leverage multiplies the power of your business because with leverage, every dollar you make in profit is multiplied.

That’s very different from the consumer version of this lesson: borrow money to buy things that go down in value. This is wrongheaded, short-term and irrational. Leer más “Consumer debt is not your friend”

Four Cs of The Scale Challenge


by Shefaly

”Let us try.
To-morrow, how you shall be glad for this!”

Robert Browning

Businesses want to scale. It is especially true for ambitious entrepreneurs. It should be easy, should it not? After all, the smart view is that it is ambition that scales, ’stuff’ does not. But the reality is not linear, not bi-modal, but nuanced. The road to hell is paved with a surfeit of ambition and a shortage of what it takes.

So what does it take to scale successfully?

Here is what.

Cardinal check: The core issues

Is the core of the business profitable? If it is not, then there may be a problem to solve already. There could be many reasons for unprofitability from bad strategy to poor execution. But one big outcome is that the business has little money to spend on dreams.

Is the business amenable to scaling? Not all businesses are. Some personality driven businesses and hourly chargeable careers may not always scale. The entrepreneur needs to take a dispassionate look – or ask someone else more dispassionate than she is to take a look – at the possibilities in and limitations of his business. That will also help think about strategic pathways to scaling. For instance, Nicky Clarke, who is a well-known hairdresser, can give only so many haircuts himself. Can he scale? Yes, possibly by personally training other stylists, or by launching haircare related products. But only he can decide if it is acceptable to him to scale that way.

Does the business have the capabilities required? A firm may be looking to open a new market. But it will be difficult to service a demand it actively creates if, for example, its manufacturing capabilities do not scale, or do not scale easily. For one of my clients in biologics manufacturing, we are doing our sums and readjusting our timetables because  the manufacturing plants must obtain regulatory approval. In other cases, a firm may not have the capabilities but may be willing and able to source help from outside.

Above all, will the added scale enhance the value of the business? If the answer to that is ‘no’, the project may not be worth the hassle.

Capital: do your sums!

Does the business have the money it will take? Nearly all scaling activities require money. Lots of it. There are both monetary and opportunity costs associated with raising money. One could approach one’s bank, assuming it is willing to lend. One could go to investors who have expertise in one’s industry or bring other non-financial value-add. However with both these sources, tough questions regarding the profitability of the core business must be answered.

If one’s ambition really does scale and if there is confidence in other organisational capabilities, then one could bootstrap, as one of my clients – a serial biotechnology entrepreneur – is doing! He understands the risks and that if he must use leverage or raise money, timing is all important.

Regardless of how one raises capital, the balance sheet will change. So will the nature and scope of control as we see next.

Control: See, letting go of.

Can you let go? For ambitious entrepreneurs, one of the hardest things to do is letting go of absolute and full control: control of the company ownership and sometimes, of strategic pathways to propel the ambition forward. It is however a necessary risk, since the entrepreneur himself cannot scale.

Scaling also requires organisational and process redesign. And empowerment of people who buy into the vision of the business and have the capability to make the right decisions. If a robust core business and a basic but clear structure exist, letting go of control enables emergent structures that suit emergent needs. Leer más “Four Cs of The Scale Challenge”

The 5Cs of Choosing the Right Client


Previously on Onextrapixel, we’ve looked at the 5 Cs of Hiring a Freelance Designer. Today’s article will turn the tables around and explore the 5 Cs freelancers should look out for in a client.

The 5 Cs is not an unfamiliar subject to those of us living in a busy metropolitan regardless of which continent or country. Living in this modern and fast paced society, the need for the 5 Cs (Cash, Credit Cards, Condominium, Career and Country Club Memberships) is a confirmation of the high standard of living we have today.

5Cs of Choosing the Right Client
Image credit: Shutterite Co. /Kelly hofer

Although many have goals to attain all 5 Cs, this article explore 5 very different attributes that are also important especially for freelance web designers.

As freelancers, many times, the power is out of your hands. Clients are the ones with the upper hand because they have the option to choose from various candidates vying for their project. Although you have no control over whether clients will choose you over others, you can work on the things that you have control over to put your best foot forward and give it your best shot.

Clients have a right to choose. So do freelancers. You can choose to politely reject the job offer if they do not meet your own expectations. The idea is to meet each other half way and come to a mutual understanding and agreement. It’s time every one played by the rules; fair and acceptable rules.

The 5Cs of Choosing Clients

Before you go ahead and accept a job offer, these are some guidelines you can follow to determine if the client is worth working for. The following is a characteristic scan on five key areas you should take note of when you consider taking up a project from your clients.

Lack of Condescension

Respect is a key component in every good working relationship. Money isn’t everything; and money shouldn’t be used to make others feel small and inferior. If potential clients treat you with condescension and think that they are cut above the rest, working for them will be a rather unpleasant experience. They will not be open to equal and fair communication and discussion and this will greatly affect the process and the end product of the project itself.

Condescension Leer más “The 5Cs of Choosing the Right Client”

Freelancer Custom Quoting: How to Quote per Project by Secretly Charging per Hour


As a freelancer, one of the things you’re faced with figuring out is whether you’re going to charge by the hour, or by the project. There are two sides to the discussion and both sides will make valid points for the decision to charge one way or the other. But, what if I told you that you didn’t have to choose?

Freelancer Secret Custom Quoting
Image credit: Ben Zweig

What if you can charge people for the project, while quoting secretly by the hour? Would you want to do it? Would it benefit you in the long run? That is the issue we will discuss in this article. There are both pros and cons to either method you choose.

The Benefit of Charging Per Hour

Charging by the hour ensures that you will not face the problem of a scope creep because you get paid for how much time you put into the project regardless of the changes. This is especially beneficial if the projects you’re working on are not set in stone in terms of the process and the details of the project.

The Benefit of Charging Per Project

Quoting your clients per project allows you to pad the prices a little to cover any possible scope creep you might encounter with the project. Clients favor this method of cost quotation because they feel safe and do not need to worry about any additional hidden costs they have to deal with later on. They know right from the start how much to budget for the project and what they can expect to receive at the end of the project.

The result is a tie between the two methods. However, fret not; you do not have to choose between the two. You can quote your clients based on the project while still charging by the hour. If we’ve got your attention, read on.

The Best of Both Worlds

It really isn’t hard to have the best of both worlds when it comes to providing quotations that will satisfy you and the client. Outlined below are some key points to take note as to how to get the best of both worlds. So pay close attention and soon you’ll be able to enjoy the benefits of both per-project quotations and charging by the hour.

Having Best of Both Worlds Leer más “Freelancer Custom Quoting: How to Quote per Project by Secretly Charging per Hour”

How your blog can make the world a better place


This is a guest post by Jason Ulsrud, at Forty2Fifty.

I have found myself asking this question a lot lately. Am I providing purpose to the world?
Your blog can effect humanity in one of three ways:

  • Make the world better
  • Not change the world at all
  • Make the world worse

How your blog can make the world a better place

good_world Simply put, provide solutions. Every single person who comes to your blog is there for a reason, even your most avid readers, mom and dad. If you can provide even one person with a solution to their problem, then you’re making the world a better place. However, providing solutions without making money is not good business for a Problogger.

Capitalizing on the solutions you are providing to readers with products and services that will support your purpose or add to your readers lives can take you from hobby blogger to Problogger.

Leer más “How your blog can make the world a better place”

Applying the 80/20 Rule To Get More Done With Less


The last week or so, I’ve been having to balance out work and family even more so than usual. For obvious reasons. ;) And family has mostly won. But, it really brings to mind the whole balancing act.

Over at TheInfoPreneur.net, I talked about the 80/20 rule briefly in a post and I thought I would expand upon it somewhat today. It is otherwise known as the Pareto principle. Simply put, it says:

bullseye80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Now, the exact 80/20 ratio is immaterial here and it may not hold exactly true in all cases. However, I think you will find, across the board, that most of the benefits in your life come from roughly 20% of your work.

The “trick” is simply to focus on the 20% and not get so worked up over the 80%. When you do that, you’ll find that you can work less, but make either the same amount of effect or more. Leer más “Applying the 80/20 Rule To Get More Done With Less”