I’ve never been one to participate in Black Friday, that day after Thanksgiving when all of the stores go sale-crazy and people flood in to try to get those good prices. I’m a bit more fond of Small Business Saturday, a spinoff that emphasizes supporting local businesses instead, although I still don’t do the shopping thing. Then there’s CyberMonday, where the big sales happen online. Although I don’t really participate in that one, it’s appealing to me because I’m a fan of online shopping.
Anyway, all of this is a prelude to introduce Giving Tuesday, which is all about de-emphasizing the purchasing of items for the holiday season and re-focusing on the giving nature of this time.
“On Tuesday, December 2, 2014, charities, families, businesses, community centers, and students around the world will come together for one common purpose: to celebrate generosity and to give. It’s a simple idea. Just find a way for your family, your community, your company or your organization to come together to give something more. Then tell everyone you can about how you are giving. Join us and be a part of a global celebration of a new tradition of generosity.”
December 2nd would have been my grandmother’s birthday this year.
Are you interested in becoming an entrepreneur? There is a fairly good chance considering that it’s predicted that the number of entrepreneurs is expected to climb to one billion by 2020. Anna Vital believe that those entrepreneurs will want to get information through infographics instead of traditional means. Check this out:
Anna Vital was inspired to write a book via infographic format in part because she has always loved to learn but she struggles with dyslexia and so finds traditional reading to be very difficult. She didn’t let that hold her back; she knows multiple languages and completed law school, but she wants to reach the kind of people who have difficulties like hers with the information they might want about becoming an entrepreneur. She tried to get funding on Kickstarter to create this book but failed, which is too bad because she did get more than $16,000 but she was asking for $100,000.
Anna does a lot of other work with visual information for startups, though. Check out San Francisco-based Funders and Founders to see more of what she does.
I’d like to introduce you today to Lo-Lo by Bar Maid, a sponsor of both this blog and my other blog, Crochet Concupiscence. And I’m also happy to say that as part of the sponsorship we’re running a giveaway to give one lucky winner a free large Twisted Light Candle, which is my favorite product from this great company.
About Lo-Lo by Bar Maids
Lo-Lo by Bar-Maids is a family-owned business. They are eco-friendly and use natural ingredients to make all of their artisan skin care products and the other products like these candles. You can experience a touch of nostalgia and a sense of timelessness when enjoying this brand’s products. There are no gimmicks here; just good natural goods.
About the Yarn Lover’s Candle
“Shed some good light on your surroundings! Made from 100% pure beeswax, Twisted Lights look exactly like a ball of yarn. Each one dyed by hand, like yarn, no two alike. The smaller Twisted Light burns for approximately 20 hours, the Large over 50 hours. Like all of our products, Twisted Lights are individually made by hand. They come packaged in a kraft box.”
It’s a Facebook Giveaway
You’ll have to have a Facebook account to enter this one. Here is what you need to do to enter:
- Go to Facebook and answer this question: “where would you put your Twisted Light candle if you won?” Feel free to include a photo of your studio or space where you’d place it although this is not a requirement.
- Include this link to the product in your post: http://shop.bar-maids.com/TWISTED-LIGHT-TL.htm
- Add hashtag: #yarn
- Must “like” Lo-Lo by Bar-Maids and Crochet Concupiscence and give the @mention to each in the post. This is how I know that you entered!!
That’s it. The giveaway is open through midnight PST July 15th, 2013.
Get it Now Coupon Code
Not on Facebook or don’t want to wait to get your candle? This sponsor is offering my readers a free coupon code for 10% off of your Twisted Light candle order. Just order your candles and enter the coupon code TWISTED. This code is good through July 15th, 2013.
My kid brother and I are both entrepreneurs. However, we’re very different in the way that we approach business. A fundamental difference between us is that he wants to start a business with a lot of startup capital from investors so that he can get in at the top level of the business as quickly as possible. In contrast, I prefer to invest as little money as possible in a business while exploring whether or not it’s what I really want to do. Either approach is fine for starting a business as long as you know why you feel the way that you do.
Thinking about this topic has brought up an interesting question for me – does it take money to make money? Ultimately, despite the fact that I approach the initial startup of a business different from my brother, I do believe that it takes money to make money. This doesn’t mean that you can’t start a business with no money but it does mean that I believe you have to re-invest your immediate earnings into the business if you want it to actually get off the ground.
What do you think? Does it take startup capital to make a business work or does a gradual process of starting with what you have and then re-investing regularly in the business work just as well?
I don’t really know anything about web design. Nevertheless, I was able to make a website that I like using a template and some basic creativity. It was even easier for me to make my blogs myself since I use WordPress which offers a lot of great free templates and widgets to customize the blog site. I’m fairly happy with how these things turned out. However, sometimes I do think that perhaps I should hire a professional web designer to re-do my design.
I think that there are a lot of benefits of professional web design services. Web designers can create unique websites that really enhance what you’re trying to say through the site. I also think a web designer might be better at organization than I am. I’m happy with the layout of the information on my site but I don’t actually know if it’s the best method of organizing the portfolio and links that I have. I’ve gotten some feedback on the site from others and it’s been mixed.
I think that I’ll stick with the free templates for my blogs for now. I’m happy enough with them and I don’t really feel like I need anything fancy with the site. However, I do think that I might consider redesigning my actual freelance writing website at some point in the near future. It’s something to think seriously about anyway, especially since I’ve been changing some of my writing goals and may want a new site to reflect that. I suppose that I don’t have to make a decision until I know exactly what I want though.
As a freelancer, do you recommend getting someone to do your website for you are you happy with doing it on your own?
When you choose to operate your own small business, you are probably thinking primarily about your own interests. You want to do work that you enjoy and you want to be your own boss. However, every business is part of a bigger picture. That’s something that a smart business person is going to realize and work with.
Some of the ways that a single business is part of a bigger business include:
- There is a chain of events that occurs before a product reaches a customer. When you provide a product or service to a customer, you are not participating only in the simple transaction that you appear to be participating in. You are also participating in a small section of the chain of events involved in the bigger picture. This chain includes all of the businesses that came before you in the transaction and any that the customer will then continue on with. For example, Maverick Hammers sells hydraulic hammers to businesses that do mining. All of the people involved in the invention and construction of those hammers come before them in the chain. All of their customers (such as mines) and the customers’ customers (such as jewelry designers) follow them in the chain. If any of these people don’t do their jobs, the chain breaks.
- Every business contributes to competition within the industry. The chain of events requires that businesses work together. However the nature of business is competition between similar businesses. The amount and type of business that one company does directly affects the other companies with which it is competing.
- Each business is a part of a global industry. The choices that the business makes affect the rest of the Earth. For example, if the business decides to outsource its labor to a developing nation then it may improve job prospects in that nation but will contribute to unemployment problems at home. Likewise, a company that pollutes during manufacturing is contributing to global environmental problems. The company doesn’t exist alone but affects the entire world around it.
Even small businesses have to realize that they play a role in a bigger picture. The independent jewelry maker may not think about who manufactured the hydraulic hammers that allowed for the mining of the stones used in the jewelry but that doesn’t mean that the chain of events is irrelevant to the business. Recognizing this encourages every business owner to do their part as well as possible in order to maintain high standards across the industry.
If you have your own website then it’s really important that you know what your website says about you. Many people create a design that they like only to learn later that it’s sending the wrong message about them and their business. It might be worth it to take a survey of others to find out what message is really coming across with the website that you’ve created.
There are a few ways that you could do such a survey:
- Ask your family and friends to share their opinions with you about your website. The downside of this is that they may not be honest because they won’t want to hurt your feelings.
- Put the word out on your social networks that you’re seeking feedback on your website. You reach a broader audience than family and friends this way.
- Post an ad online looking to trade website feedback. This is a good way to get feedback from other people who have websites.
- Pay people to take a survey about your website. You can advertise a job online giving money to people who take your short survey.
The survey should give you an idea of what you need to improve on your website so that it says what you really want it to say about you. Since most visitors won’t spend long on your website you really want to make a good first impression!
One of the best things about the Internet is that it allows you to rapidly read up on a topic that you don’t know much about. I love this because it means that I can explore new interests without having to invest a lot of money (or even much time) in finding information about them. I think this lets me learn about things that I wouldn’t take the time to learn about otherwise.
One of the things that I’ve been researching recently is hydraulic hammers. Just a few short weeks ago, I didn’t know anything about hydraulic hammers. Now I have a really good understanding of the purpose of these tools (which are primarily used in the demolition of large buildings).
The hydraulic hammers that I’ve been looking at recently are Maverick Hammers. This company seems committed to providing high-quality demolition equipment at a fair price. They also provide tech support which I’ve learned is important since the average buyer wouldn’t know what to do if this type of heavy equipment wasn’t working properly.
What’s been really interesting for me about this research though has been the chance to learn about the issues related to manufacturing heavy equipment. One of the biggest issues seems to be the fact that a lot of this work has been outsourced to developing nations. This has put local workers out of jobs and created changes in the industry.
Maverick Hammers has been active in bringing the business back to the U.S. Reading about that has allowed me to learn about the things that U.S. businesses can do to reduce their own costs so that it’s cost-effective for manufacturing to take place here rather than being outsourced.
See what happens when you start to research something online. You start with one topic and end up learning a lot of other great information. Without access to the Internet, I might never have learned about these things!
People sometimes ask me how I manage to stay on top of all of my work when there isn’t a boss at home telling me to do so. I joke (half-joke, really) that I can’t stomach the idea of having a boss hanging over my shoulder so I’m motivated to stay productive!
The truth, however, is that I’ve learned a lot of little tricks over the years that keep my productivity on track. Here’s a few of those tips:
- Stick to a schedule. One of the things I love about my work is that my schedule is flexible. Despite this, I try to stick to one more often than not because that’s the way to stay productive.
- Set goals. It’s so cliche but setting your own goals really helps you to stay on top of productivity.
- Hold yourself accountable. Do productivity checks throughout the day to make sure you’re meeting your goals. Make a phone appointment with a friend to touch base about how productivity you are (or aren’t) being.
- Use technology in a productive way. Your mobile phone, social networking sites and access to the Internet are all great tools for productivity but only if you’re careful not to let them distract you.
- Cut yourself some slack. Sometimes it’s okay to slack off a little bit. If you beat yourself up when you do, you’ll actually reduce your productivity.
Mostly being productive is about knowing what you want to get done and finding a way to motivate yourself to do it. Do you have any specific productivity tips that have helped you out?