Posts tagged "back to basics"

The Case of the Killer Squid

November 17th, 2017 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “The Case of the Killer Squid”

Most mistakes that we make in the normal course of business are not killers. And that’s a good thing of course. If most of the mistakes we made were killers, we wouldn’t be around to learn from them.

As a matter of fact, since most of our mistakes (squids) are not killers, our survival lulls us into a sense of complacency and acceptance. We make a mistake and we think, “well, the last mistake/series of mistakes didn’t hurt us all that much, so let’s just put this behind us as fast as we can and get on with the rest of our lives.”

That’s a dangerous mindset and one of the reasons why I wrote Killer Squids. Your complacency/accepting mindset of your mistakes can be fatal in the long term. As Bob Newhart would say, “Stop it!”

But some mistakes can kill you. Some mistakes are so big and so bad and the consequences so dire…there are Killer Squids.

I extended credit to a friend who was starting a business. Over the objections of my long-suffering wife, I allowed him to rack up bills of $20,000. When his house of cards came crashing down, we were stuck with big paper bills and labor costs. This was not a killer squid, but it could have been. The loss was great enough that it jeopardized our ability to stay in business.

My takeaways from this Squid?

  1. Listen to your wife.
  2. Don’t let friendship cloud your judgment when it comes to extending credit.
  3. Don’t extend too much credit to start-ups.
  4. Don’t let anyone go past a pre-determined amount of credit. Limit your potential losses.
  5. Have your credit policies in place before you encounter a problem.
  6. Know your policies and stick to them no matter what.

These are the lessons I learned (I hope).

This was not a Killer Squid, but it could have been. And there are mistakes that you can make that will kill your business, or your job.

I remember well a Killer Squid that took out a client of mine. Sad.

It was a big project for us; the client requested a bid for scanning and printing a 500 page book; the quantity was 2000. We won the bid and started scanning the pages. Early on in the scanning process, our production expert came to me and said, “hey Kevin, this project is not 500 pages…it’s 500 sheets, front and back. It’s actually 1000 pages.

Uh oh. Our client did not know the difference between pages and sheets. Of course when you are dealing with a 1,000 page book vs a 500 page book, the price is going to go up, a lot.

We quickly communicated the problem and a new quote back to our client, and then it went quiet. Real quiet. Crickets.

But the deadline was fast approaching, and still we heard nothing. We knew our price was good and we were prepared to proceed (not many other printers could knock this job out fast enough), and our client was in a bad situation. And so, our client authorized us to proceed.

We finished the project on time and on the newly approved budget, but our client lost her job. Painful. Killer Squid.

Takeaways?

  1. Double check your specifications.
  2. Understand the jargon of the industry.
  3. Slow down and think through ramifications of not understanding all the specs before you begin.

50 + 2 Improperly Used Words in Writing

August 28th, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “50 + 2 Improperly Used Words in Writing”

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Using the wrong words in business communications can be more than just embarrassing, it can damage your credibility and could even be a cause for rejection of your proposal. I taught middle school grammar for two years and LOVED it. I came out of that experience with an even deeper love for the English language.

The way we speak is different than the way we communicate the written word. Check out these 52 frequently misused/abused words in business writing. Some of these may surprise you.

accept, except
accept – (verb) To agree with, take in, receive. Example: We accept your proposal.
except – (preposition) Apart from. Example: All committee members are present except for Ms. Brown.

acute, chronic
acute – (adjective) Sharp, intense, critical. Example: The company has an acute shortage of skilled workers right now.
chronic – (adjective) Constant, habitual, long lasting. Example: She is unable to work because of a chronic illness.

adverse, averse
adverse – (adjective) Unfavorable, opposing one’s interest. Example: They found themselves in adverse circumstances.
averse – (adjective) Antipathy, repugnance, having the feeling of being opposed. Example: She is not averse to increasing her workload.

affect, effect
affect – (verb) To influence something. Example: How will that affect the bottom line?
effect – (noun) The result of. (verb) to cause something to be. Example: Her speech had the effect of motivating the listeners.

allusion, illusion
allusion – (noun) A casual reference of mention of something. Example: Was that an allusion to Hemingway?
illusion – (noun) Something that gives a false picture of reality. Example: He believes democracy is an illusion.

all right, alright
all right – Fine, OK. Example: It’s all right to leave early.
alright – Incorrect spelling, but often shows up in informal writing.

apprise, appraise
apprise – (verb) Give notice to. Example: Please apprise me of the situation.
appraise – (verb) Determine the worth of something. Example: The ring was appraised before we purchased it.

assure, ensure, insure
assure – (verb) To state with confidence, pledge or promise. Example: I assure you the check is in the mail.
ensure – (verb) To make certain. Example: Following the instructions ensures you won’t get hurt.
insure – (verb) To purchase insurance. Example: Insure the package before you mail it.

beside, besides
beside – (preposition) At the side of, next to, near. Example: Take a seat beside me.
besides – (adverb) Furthermore, in addition to. Example: Besides, several of us will be out of town next week.

compliment, complement
compliment – (verb) To give praise. Example: I complimented Steve on his speech.
complement – (verb) To complete something or match it well. Example: Her skills complement the needs of our department.

continual, continuous
continual – (adjective) Often repeated, very frequent – but occasionally interrupted. Example: They’ve received continual complaints.
continuous – (adjective) Uninterrupted. Example: We couldn’t hear over his continuous talking.

disburse, disperse
disburse – (verb) To pay, distribute, scatter. Example: They disbursed name tags to everyone attending the meeting.
disperse – (verb) To drive off, spread widely, cause to vanish. Example: The throng of fans dispersed into the stands.

farther, further
farther – (adverb) At or to a greater distance. Example: We are located farther down the highway.
further – (adverb) More or additional — but not related to distance. Example: We need to have further discussion on that.

fewer, less
fewer – (adjective) Of a small number, only used with countable items. Example: He made fewer mistakes than last time.
less – (adjective or adverb) To a smaller extent, amount or degree — used with quantities that cannot be individually counted. Example: If they made less noise, we could concentrate.

imply, infer
imply – (verb) To suggest. Example: What are you implying by that accusation?
infer – (verb) To deduce from evidence. Example: From the look on your face, I can infer you’re not happy with the decision.

its, it’s
its – (pronoun) Possessive form of “it.” Example: The machine has lost its ability to scan documents.
it’s – Contraction of “it is.” Example: It’s not a question of right or wrong.

lose, loose
lose – (verb) Fail to win, misplace. Example: Did you lose your file?
loose – (adjective) Free from anything that restrains. Example: Since losing weight, his clothes seem loose.

of, have
of – (preposition) Frequently confused with “have” since “could’ve” is pronounced “could of.” But “of” cannot be used as a verb.
have – (verb) Proper verb form for “could have,” “should have” and “would have.”

principal, principle
principal – (noun) Person who has controlling authority. (adjective) Something essential or important. Example: Let’s talk about the principal reason we’re meeting today.
principle – (noun) Basic truth, policy or action. Example: It’s important to stick to our principles.

regardless, irregardless
regardless – (adjective or adverb) In spite of. Example: We are leaving, regardless of whether you’re ready.
irregardless – This is not a word. (Yes, you may find it in your dictionary, but you’re only embarrassing yourself if you use it.)

than, then
than – (preposition) In contrast to. Example: I’d rather speak face-to-face than communicate by e-mail.
then – (adverb) Next. Example: We met for dinner, then went to a movie.

their, there, they’re
their – (pronoun) Belonging to them. Example: Where is their car?
there – (adverb) In a place. Example: Let’s visit there.
they’re – Contraction of “they are.” Example: They’re not leaving without saying good-bye, are they?

Who, whom
Who – (pronoun) Use ‘who’ when referring to the subject of a sentence. Example: “Who loves you?”
Whom – (pronoun) Use ‘whom’ when referring to the object of a sentence. Example: “Whom do I love?”

whose, who’s
whose – (pronoun) Possessive case of “who” or “which.” Example: Whose keys are these?
who’s – Contraction of “who is.” Example: Who’s going to the game after work?

your, you’re
your – (pronoun) Belonging to you. Example: Your briefcase is over there.
you’re – Contraction of “you are.” Example: You’re not going to believe this.

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How do you promote your business?

April 2nd, 2015 Posted by Uncategorized 0 comments on “How do you promote your business?”

 

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Do you struggle with ideas to promote your business? Rest easy; you’re not alone. Going back to the basics of press releases could be your best strategy.

Press releases have a long history of providing positive exposure for your business both on and offline.  Sometimes the hardest part of writing a press release is coming up with something to write about. Here are a few ideas for you:

  • Brag about an award or certification. Have you won an award lately?  Have any of your suppliers won an award? How about members of your team earning a new certification or professional designation? Being the best in an industry or category is always newsworthy.
  • Share an inspirational or success story. Has hiring you or using your product resulted in a success or inspirational story? Readers love a feel good story about people going the extra mile or overcoming adversity.
  • Upcoming event and past event. Hosting an event or a class of some kind is good for two press releases (that’s what I call a “two-fer.” Let people know about your upcoming event with an informational release about the benefits of attending and then follow up after the event with another release about how successful your event was.
  • Share industry information. Stats and survey results can make for interesting press release material. Whether the survey was specific to your customers and users or speaks to a larger audience, outline why the survey was conducted, what insights were learned and how they can apply to changes in the industry.

When writing your press release, be sure to include all your contact information at the end. Online press releases may live on in the archives forever, and you never know when someone might stumble across what you have posted. Make it easy for them to contact you regardless of when they read the post. 

So, what’s your next step?

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