Business Tips from the brownDog

What’s involved in Running a small business?

 Chanin’s personal copy of “The E-Myth” by Michael E. Gerber.

Chanin’s personal copy of “The E-Myth” by Michael E. Gerber.

After 10 years of running a small business and mentoring hundreds of other entrepreneurs, the one thing I know is most people go into business because they are good at something. The challenge is that you also need a sense of the business aspect in order to succeed. Yes, you could open a store on Etsy and sell your knitted wears but be honest with yourself about whether it’s a hobby or a business. Strive to look at the big picture from the beginning and understand that there will be ebbs and flows. Stick with it, don't skimp in the beginning, and find a mentor. It’s important to open your eyes so you are ready for it and know what to expect.

I keep a copy of “The E-Myth” (audio version) in my desk drawer and lend it out frequently. This is a great read if you are considering hanging your own shingle—there’s nothing more rewarding than building a business from the ground up.   

Chanin mentors and has spoken about entrepreneurship frequently. If you are interested in having her speak to your group, contact us today!

 

 

Hello, this is google…

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 The other day, my human got a phone call from Google!

Or I guess I should say, she got a phone call from someone saying they are Google. At first she was alarmed, but eventually we got to the bottom of it. My human is very smart! Apparently it wasn’t actually Google who called, but a Google reseller. Basically this company will help you “claim your business” on Google, something you can do for free on your own. Now what they’re doing is not illegal, but they made it seem like if something we had to pay for. If you want to pay someone to help you use Google to market your business, go for it! But know that it is not something you have to pay for. Here are a couple of ways you can safeguard yourself from scammers pretending to be Google:

  1. Google will never make an unsolicited sales call. In fact, Google wants to make sure that no one is scamming you using their name. They have an area on their website to help you identify scams and report them if you do feel you are being scammed.

    https://www.google.com/safetycenter/everyone/start/report-robocall-scams/

  2. If a company is claiming to be an authorized reseller, you can verify that! Google has a directory where you can look up the company that is calling you to see if they are authorized. This is something you should do, especially if you are planning on using their services.

    https://cloud.withgoogle.com/partners/

All in all, it is best to be cautious and not agree to anything over the phone. Luckily, my human was smart enough not to fall for this. It is okay to pay for someone to help your business become more popular on Google, just do your research first. Until next time! Woof!

 

 

Pricing Tips for Freelancers

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I have frequently been asked about pricing for freelance work.

There are multiple ways you could go about pricing, but in my experience the best way is on a “project basis”. By this I mean deciding on how many hours a project will take you and charge according to your hourly rate. This may take some guessing in the beginning, but after you have a couple projects under your belt it will be easier to gage how much time it takes you to complete each project.

Ultimately, pricing comes down to two things: (1) how much time it takes you to complete the job, and (2) how much is the market price.

1) Time

               Always keep track of your time on projects. There are apps and plug-ins that you can install to your phone or computer to help you do this. The more accurately you track your time, the more accurately you will be able to quote your next client. The hardest thing to do is quote a job and then try not to overthink the design. The goal is to do your best work in the shortest amount of time. And DO NOT forget to include communication time with your client. Time is money!

2) Market Price

               This will vary based on the type of project you are working on. For example, the printing cost for a brochure might be $100 to $300 depending on size and quantity. A lot of printing companies will have price breaks based on quantity, so it’s best to work with your client to find out what quantity will give them the best bang for their buck without having too much left over.

At the end of the day, pricing is a learning experience. In the beginning you will struggle to estimate correctly, but don’t stress! With every new project you work on your pricing will become more and more accurate.

 

 

It’s Time for an NDV

(No Device Vacation)

 Chanin's dog Jaxon on his first NDV!

Chanin's dog Jaxon on his first NDV!

Hello again, it’s me the BrownDog!

My human just got back the other day from an NDV. At first, I was confused. I had only ever heard her talk about NDAs (non-disclosure agreements), but not NDVs. She went on to say how refreshing it was to disconnect and take a break from technology. After saying that it hit me…

No Device Vacation!

She mentioned that every business should have assigned NDV. It’s important to unplug for a moment. Your mind will be clear, and you will be more productive when you come back. The only thing is, you must make sure you prepare enough for your vacation so you can fully unplug without letting things fall behind while you’re away.

Now that my human is refreshed, I better go make sure I get some play time in before she gets busy again! Woof!

 

 

The importance of Taglines

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Hello, it’s me the BrownDog!

My human and I were on a walk through Doylestown the other day, enjoying the town and its local businesses. She started telling me how important taglines are. Apparently, the challenge starts when new companies get creative in the initial business naming process.  Not that creativity is bad but names like Hulu and Uber meant nothing before the millions invested in marketing them.  As a dog, I have no idea what a Hulu is! She made it seem like everyone knows them. I think that was the point she was trying to make. If you want a creative company name (and don't plan on spending millions to market it) you need to have a tagline that explains what your company does. So if I wanted to start my own dog salon called Mr. Fancy Pants, I would need a tagline like “Premium Dog Salon”.…That’s actually a great idea! Well now I gotta go work on my new business. Good luck brainstorming your new taglines!

Woof!

 

 

Designing Resumes

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Design has the ability to influence.

Every year, approximately 1.8 million youth graduate with a bachelors degree. This means that every year 1.8 million people are looking to enter the workforce once they graduate in May. And with that, 1.8 million resumes are being distributed to millions of companies worldwide. The problem is, how do you STAND OUT?

First of all, your resume needs to be more than just a Word document. You have to sell yourself  through one page of information. It has to be readable and informative, but also elegant and intriguing to the reader. In recent years resumes have been crunched into an algorithm. A lot of businesses have even taken away the creativity by making you apply online using their format, but there is always a way around this. Do some digging and find an email! Then you can email your well-designed resume and make an impression. Remember, there is always a way around the system. Even if you can’t find the direct email of the recruiter, email anyone you can find within the company and ask if they could point you in the right direction. By showing initiative you are already taking a step in the right direction. Depending on who you email, they may put in a good word for you and help you stand out among the crowd. You’re more than just words on a paper!

 

 

Is Print Dead?

 An old-fashioned printing press.

An old-fashioned printing press.

Hey guys! It’s me the BrownDog again!

The other day my human and I were out for a walk and we stopped to pick up the mail. She’s just nuts sometimes  - constantly thinking about ways to help her clients.  When she leaned over to me, I thought there was a treat coming – but nope – she showed me the lack of good advertising in the mailbox!  Since technology has caused print prices to drop so drastically in the past 8 years, she told me now just might be the perfect time to put eye-catching messages in the mail again.  

Have you heard of EDDM?   I think it stands for Every Door Direct Mail, a new program from the post office that lets you mail to a small “postal route” instead of an entire zip code.   You don't even need a bulk permit anymore!  If you want to know more, call her up – she loves to talk about it!   All I really care about is the opportunity to bark at the mailman—here he comes now! Woof!

 

 

Looking back on the past 70 (dog) years...

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Sixteen years ago I attended a conference in New Orleans about creativity.

At the time, I remember being struck by the speakers and how centered they seemed. Most of the topics revolved around how to find the physical time and mental space to allow your mind to think creatively. Today, as I reach the ten-year anniversary of my business, I find myself thinking back to those speakers and what      they recommended. 

It’s simple really, the answer is: allow yourself to STOP.  O.K., I hear you saying, "How…when I am SO busy?". We hear it from others, we know on some level its healthy, but how can we possibly put it into practice? Eckhart Tolle, in his book, The Power of Now, states that all artists create from a place of stillness, even if they are not aware of it and even the greatest scientists in the world have had the biggest break-throughs when they stepped away from the task at hand. If you have ever had an idea in the shower, you have experienced this!

So what else might stopping look like, other than a morning shower? For me, it means a bubble bath instead of a shower, treating myself to breakfast at my favorite diner with a few of my favorite trade publications, a stroll around Rices Market with my favorite BrownDog, allowing time to recognize what colors the leaves are.

The point is, all of these things are “Business Builders”. As entrepreneurs, we go full tilt, sometimes even in our sleep! So call this time your “Marketing Strategy Time” if it makes you feel better, but have confidence that your best ideas will come when you take the time to clear your mind and breathe.

Wish me luck in practicing what I preach as I embark on year eleven!

Chanin Milnazik

Creative Alpha- BrownDogDesign

 

 

Advertising for less

 An example of a creative presentation for a raffle basket.

An example of a creative presentation for a raffle basket.

The other day my person was talking about how expensive advertising is nowadays.

She kept going on and on about newspaper ads and TV commercials costing an arm and a leg, but what she is forgetting is all the other ways to get our name out there without shelling out the big bucks.

Just the other day she mentioned something called cause marketing. She was talking with one of her clients about how inexpensive it is to advertise your business this way. I thought the only way you could advertise is through newspaper and magazine ads or TV commercials! But she says that if you think outside the box you can get your name out there while staying in a tight budget. Here are some examples she gave:

1)     Sponsorship. When you sponsor local community events such as a 5K run or bike race, your company name and logo are typically promoted by the event organizers. You can choose the amount you donate so it will fit your budget. The only caveat is that you must be consistent with your sponsorship. For example, if you only sponsor the local bike race, then you’re only getting your name out once. You need to be present at multiple events in order to make an impact, gain familiarity, and reach a larger audience.

2)     Raffle Baskets. Donating a basket to be raffled off at events is a great low-cost option. One business that has done beautifully with this is our client Harmony Clean, Inc. For several events throughout the year they donate a beautifully wrapped bucket full of green cleaning supplies and a coupon for 4-hours of free house cleaning to be raffled at events. The basket reflects their brand, shows their community support, and creates more reach by placing a stack of business cards in front of the basket.  Not only does this make people familiar with their business name but the winner will be able to experience their service firsthand, potentially becoming a repeat customer. For them, it is worth the labor costs for the potential of building their image in their local community.

3)     Facebook Events. Another way to make sure your business’s name is associated with the events you are supporting is to create a Facebook event through your business profile. There you can tag the charity or nonprofit organization you are supporting so they can share it on their page. This is not only promoting your business, but it is promoting the event as well. Additionally, if you send out regular newsletters, make sure you mention what you are doing and include a link to the event.

There were also other ways she mentioned like supporting local school sports teams and musical groups by submitting ads in their flyers, but the one main thing she kept saying was CONSISTENCY! My person seems to think that consistency is the most important thing because of something to do with putting your eggs in a basket. I don’t know, but if my person is this excited about something you should probably give it a try.

Well I think I smell dinner cooking, so I’m going to go beg. Woof woof!

 

 

Why scotch tape should be banned from windows

 Real life example of scotch tape and handwritten words on a Doylestown storefront.

Real life example of scotch tape and handwritten words on a Doylestown storefront.

 
 

As a graphic designer who specializes in helping  businesses build brands, I notice the good and bad in other businesses.

 Everything you do when you own a business makes a direct impression on the business itself. This applies to the signs, the flyers you allow others to hang, and obviously the logo. I have seen handwritten flyers scotch-taped to storefront windows that look like a kindergarten art project! What the business owners don’t understand is that signage can either elevate your professionalism or kill sales. It is easy for things to go unnoticed and fly under the radar, but it’s these small details that will take your business from “start-up” to a professional business.

You may have heard the phrase “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. This could not be further from the truth. Every little piece of signage in your establishment adds to your brand image, so it should be consistent with your brand. No one wants their customers to think of their brand as sloppy and unprofessional.  Although you might have a great product, a low-quality sign or flyer will lead customers to believe you run a low-quality business. If you have respect for your company, as a business owner you need to be on top of your brand image. Start by throwing out your scotch tape!