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Some people that read this blog have school kids and look at this as an opportunity to start spending more time on their business. Some people reading this might go “OH DARN” that means traffic …
But most small businesses forget one really special event at this time of the year.
BACK TO SCHOOL $ALE$
That’s right, even if you don’t have kids, or your kids are well before or past the age of school, you can still take advantage of all those school supplies being on sale. There might be some back to school items you don’t need, but most “office” supplies are covered in the back to school sales. For example, mini staplers that can fit into a middle school locker can also fit in a purse or briefcase. Unless you have a locked office, I’m willing to bet that sometimes your pens wander off your desk. (Okay – even if you’re the only one that touches your desk I’m still willing to bet ballpoint pens disappear – see note below*). Every time I give a client a report or a contract, I put it in a two pocket folder. I rarely pay retail for those (they are either $0.10 or $0.15 during August). I know some consultants (I’m looking at YOU Michelle Smith at Z & B consulting) that often make use of colored markers and easel pads. Even if you don’t explore every sales flyer to find the “best” deals, you can’t walk down a school (office) supply aisle at this time of year without deals jumping off the shelf at you.
“Tips” image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
*In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams has a theory that ballpoint pens slip off to their own planet and live (the ballpoint pen equivalent of) the good life. For their sake, I hope it’s true, because the ballpoints never stay on my desk.
Have you ever tried to arrange a meeting time with several people and had difficulty finding a time when everyone was available? Sometimes it feels like herding cats (which is extremely difficult to do). We’re all busy and our calendars are filled.
Fast forward to 2015, and yes there is, in fact, an app for that, and it’s called Doodle.
Doodle is a free app that you can use to manage a simple schedule for multiple people. There is, of course, a version where you can spend a bit more money and get more features if you find that works best for your business.
Basically speaking though, Doodle is great time saver and you can use that time to work on your business, make follow up calls, get dinner started, or pick up a pen and paper and doodle. Don’t we all love free things that free up our time?
Every month I will be doing a posting on timely tips and tricks. For the most part, these will be guided by the questions I run across from clients or while networking. In other words, if I have to dig out information, I’ll pass it along instead of having others need to look up the same information.
Scheduling multiple people. Okay — first I have to admit that I didn’t find this on my own. I found it on the blog at barrymoltz.com. Doodle is an easy scheduler. You create a poll, invite participants, and then confirm the date and time that the most people are available. Instead of having multiple emails flying back and forth, you can get all of the information in one place. And it’s free. The only question I have is, “Where was this when I was trying to arrange meetings for multiple professors when I worked at the University of Illinois?”
Emailing multiple people. Every now and then you’ll want to send the same email to more than one person. Some email programs allow you to do this automagically, but Google doesn’t have a “mail merge” button (like Microsoft Access does). However, if you know where to look, Google does have a way to do mail merge. This 8-minute video gives a clear step-by-step how to. (Thank you Anson Alexander).
Limit your reading time. There are quite a few blogs that I follow. I get resourceful and timely productivity tips from Evie Burke at One Insight Closer. As mentioned above, I find useful information at Barry Moltz’s blog. It would be nearly impossible to keep up with the social media industry without reading Social Media Examiner. There are others. But I do not have time to visit all the blogs I read every day. I do spend a few hours a week checking all the postings by using Feedly. It took a bit of organizing to group the information I read into different categories, but now I can take a few minutes to an hour with a cup of coffee and read all of my news or short bits of it.
Comparing email Services. There are many email service providers out there. I have used MailChimp and AWeber, but those are the only ones I have first hand experience with. I found this article from April 2013 (before the MailChimp change) that describes some of the providers.
“E-troducing” people. One way to be known as a person that is a valuable resource is to help connect people. You may often meet someone that you think would be a great client, provider, or power partner for another person (for instance, a realtor and a mortgage broker). I spent some time struggling with the right “formula” for doing email introductions. One day I decided that I was going to write a template for doing introductions, but (as I often do when trying to figure something out) I wondered if someone had already done this. I did a search and found a great article on the Forbes site about email introductions.
Image courtesy of Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Doodle Saves Time (barrymoltz.com)
Create a Mail Merge with Gmail and Google Drive / Docs (YouTube.com)
Comparing email services: Aweber, iContact, ConstantContact, MailChimp, and MadMimi (changetheworldmarketing.com)
How to make the perfect email introduction (forbes.com)