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Success Formula

One of the easiest methods for being successful in whatever you do is a simple technique. We share it because of its simplicity, so give us credit if you use it.

First, get in the habit of making a daily list of the ten (10) things you want to get done each day. After coming up with the list that might include meeting a deadline or choosing the best option for hiring a sub-contractor and simple tasks such as inviting an old client to lunch, prioritize the list.

The number one prioritized item on your Top Ten list should be the “must get done” task. You get to prioritize number two through number ten. Items toward the end of your list should fall into the category of “maybe get done.” An example would be a proposal that is not expected for two more days but would make a good impression if you delivered on it early.

As you go through the day and line out the accomplished tasks, you will have visual proof of how your day is going and the more you finish without adding them to the next day’s list is your success formula.

Here’s how you can rate your success:

If you’ve accomplished the number one (#1) item on your To Do list, consider yourself one hundred percent (100%) successful. It was the priority and had to get done.

If you checked two items off the list, rate yourself ninety percent (90%) successful. If you cleared three, you are at eighty percent (80%). Four moves you to seventy percent. Five, you would think, is fifty percent but you’re really getting things done, so rate it sixty percent. And if you take care of the remainder of items on your daily list, you’re still at one hundred percent!

Beyond five simply doesn’t matter because you’ve already been successful.

Spending Money to Save Money:
Cost-Saving Tech Solutions for Small Business

Guest article courtesy of Gloria Martinez

Image via Pexels

When you’re looking for ways to cut costs at your small business, investing in new technology probably isn’t on the radar. Business technology has a reputation for being expensive. For most companies, it’s something to invest in when things are going exceedingly well, not leveling off.

If your company’s growth has slowed and you need to save money, don’t go straight to hiring freezes and departmental cutbacks. Instead, look for ways that spending a little cash could save a lot, like these affordable tech solutions from Brand Irons.

Shift Your Software to the Cloud

The purchase price of new business software is only one part of the picture. According to Network Alliance, 80 percent of IT costs happen after you buy. On average, that comes out to $700 per user per month for small and medium businesses.

Switching to cloud-based software offers immediate savings to small businesses. While there are costs associated with implementing any new software, most of the leading software-as-a-service, or SaaS tools, cost under $50 per user per month, with many as low as $10 per user per month. Not only are these tools cheaper to purchase and maintain, but they’re also accessible online, allowing your staff to work from any location.

Look to Ecommerce

If your business is in a position to join the ecommerce revolution and you have yet to take the plunge, NOW is the time. Especially if you have a product or service that is constantly in demand. By not joining in this trend, you could be missing out on thousands of dollars in revenue. Ecommerce might sound complicated, but it can be fairly straightforward, particularly if you already have a top-notch, mobile-friendly website. You can also work with knowledgeable ecommerce experts to help you get this part of your business up and running.

Give Employees the Option to Telecommute

Cloud-based software presents another money-saving opportunity: remote work. Telecommuting saves on office overhead costs, reduces employee absences, and boosts productivity. While even occasional telecommuting saves money, businesses also have the option of shifting to a fully-remote team and eliminating office costs entirely.

Get Creative with Employee Perks

In addition to saving the business money, telecommuting is also great for employee morale. Allowing remote work leads to a 25 percent reduction in employee turnover, according to a survey by Owl Labs and TINYPulse. When replacing an employee costs anywhere from 16 percent to 213 percent of their salary, that’s no small benefit to your business.

Get Smart About Utility Costs

There’s one more painless way that small businesses can save money: Cutting energy usage with smart technology could save thousands of dollars per year in office utility costs. Smart devices, such as learning thermostats and motion-activated smart lighting, are the best choices for businesses since they don’t require ongoing effort once set up. If security isn’t a major concern for your business, you could even swap your professionally monitored alarm system for a self-monitored smart security system.

When your company’s growth slows, it’s tempting to start slashing costs wherever you can. However, cutting back in the wrong places could hinder your ability to get ahead. Before making drastic changes, consider how low-cost technology solutions like these can help you save money today and enable your company’s growth in the future.To ensure you’re helping your business grow and thrive, turn to the business and marketing experts at Brand Irons. We are here to help you succeed

The 3 A’s of Customer Service

Some might think customer service was as simple as A-B-C. I suppose a creative mind could come up with some aspect of taking care of customers using those letters. My preference that I will share here are the 3 A’s of Customer Service.


When a customer or prospective client comes into your store, E-mails or calls you, the first impression you get to make with that person is to acknowledge them. How many times have you walked into a grocery or some other retail establishment without being greeted by anyone? A cordial greeting on the phone is also appreciated, much more so than a gruff Hello! Remember those clients or prospects have come into your store or called you because they have money to spend with you.


The second A is to offer whatever assistance you can to customers. How much more are they likely to spend if they are treated with courtesy and true intention to be helpful. Every employee should be trained to assist every customer the same…whatever their nationality, gender, or skin color. A good phrase to teach your employees that has remarkable results and is non-offensive: “How may I be of service?” Employees should also be knowledgeable enough to know where to take a customer to find what they are looking to spend their money on…and advise them to the extent they are comfortable.


Far too often customers are sent on their way with a simple “Thank you!” repeated as though it is a chore to say it. Clerks should be trained to engage with customers–even those who spend but a pittance–and show appreciation for purchasing from their employer. Keep this in mind if you are the owner and clerk wrapped in one. If the queue is shorter, engagement might include asking the client what brought them in today or where they’re from or how they heard about your business. Appreciate their answer and the fact your cash register is ringing.

Owning A Business – Part Eight

If you’ve been reading the first seven installments in this series, you probably realize owning a business is more complicated than most people believe. Yes, you can just hang a sign and get started, but becoming as successful as  you dream you can be takes more than that.

One bit of advice we offer clients is to build key relationships. Yes, you need capable, qualified people around you within your organizational structure. They are the backbone of your corporate culture. You also need professional people as counselors outside of your company.

Your banker or financial institution comprises one piece of that advisory board. That person needs to know what’s going on within the business so they can be supportive during lean times and offer suggestions to enhance your margins. For that to happen, you need to communicate with them on a consistent basis.

Same goes for your Certified Public Accountant (CPA). This individual may not need to meet with you on a monthly basis, but he or she is available to provide guidance on cash flow and other aspects of your financial statements.

A third piece of your advisory panel is your legal counsel. Attorneys are there to minimize your risk and protect your assets. Have yours review legal documents such as contracts, non-disclosure agreements, and yes, even your advertising to prevent any legal liability. It’s better to pay legal fees up front than to lose your company over a technicality.

Your insurance agents are part of your team as well. Meet with them whenever something changes in your business, such as acquisition of a new piece of equipment. Make sure you have adequate coverage for eventualities, and trust that person to scale back on premiums when they can (as President Reagan often said; Trust But Verify!).

We would be remiss to not include your marketing and business consultant. Engaging the right people saves you money, and helps you make money in the process. Ask for recommendations and interview the candidates for your comfort level instead of taking the first one you meet.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Owning A Business – Part Six

Business owners often struggle with financial issues. Examples are finding additional sources of revenue to keep cash flowing, and controlling cost factors that can prove crippling. In some cases with owning a business, the vicious cycle is unending.Revenue streams

Consider soft drink companies that discover revenue streams with certain products or market areas. They carve niches in those areas and pursue market share against their competitors. At some point, market saturation occurs and while the revenue stream doesn’t dry up, it doesn’t produce at the same level consistently. In fact, it may slowly ebb.

The solution is to look for alternatives. This is where professional consulting advice can prove valuable in assessing market acceptance. Adding new consumers in different markets is one option. Adding different products is another option that involves the risk of diluting the existing market. Instead of owning 40 percent of market share, the company has divided that percentage into – perhaps – 30 percent for one product and 10 percent for the other.

The company has also incurred the cost of developing an additional brand, adding production capacity to get the product into the consumer’s hands, labor, and the marketing expense of advertising. Those costs may be justified if market research verifies the need to diversify and identifies consumer demand sufficient to warrant the effort. The hard decisions come when market research shows the demand doesn’t exist or diversification is not a viable option.

If a business owner has commissioned sales people, cutting back on those costs is often one of the first considerations, when it should be the last. Remember how revenue is generated: Sales! Look instead at more efficient production or distribution methods. Consider changing processes or procedures to trim waste and enhance margins. People should come before profits, and most business owners realize that – but without profits it’s hard to stay afloat.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Owning A Business – Part Five

Now that you know who your customers are, what they’re buying, and the value you offer them, it’s time to consider the message delivery channels. This is generally considered to be the area where you advertise your business, and it is one of the most challenging aspects of business ownership.

Get your message through

Choosing the right method to deliver your message is important.

Where do you spend your advertising dollars? You need to know what you want your ads to do:

  • Create exposure
  • Increase brand awareness
  • Get paying customers in the door
  • Generate a return on the investment
  • Build brand loyalty

Modern advertising theory holds that customers must first know you exist. They will then investigate and vet you to determine if you’re legit and how you’re different. Then they purchase. Age, gender, lifestyles, and other consumer demographics determine how best to deliver your message.

When you think about texts, most people respond almost immediately when they hear the text message alert. Whether it calls them to action on your behalf is another matter.

Consumers will vet your company by checking out your website or social media presence, so take care to ensure it achieves your goal and purpose of being relevant to the message.

TV commercials can build brand awareness and create a sense of urgency, but remember most consumers with a DVR (digital video recorder) fast forward through commercials.

Direct mail and other print channels can be effective if targeted to specific consumers and delivered with a definite call to action. Newspaper and magazine ads can work if the message resonates with the readers and are designed for maximum impact.

As the business owner, consider engaging a professional marketing firm to manage your advertising, but you must make the ultimate decision on how much to spend and where. If your ads fail to achieve your objectives, make the necessary changes.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Owning A Business – Part Four

When you have clarity on your products and/or services and know your target audience, take the time to go back to the reason you wanted to own your business. This is the foundation of the value proposition you, your company, and its products and/or services offer to consumers.

What is your value proposition?

Clients want to know what makes you different.

Your value proposition identifies what makes your business different.

One of the most common questions business owners are being asked today: What makes you different?

What the consumer is asking, in essence, is why should I buy from you?


Let’s look at the example of what a value proposition might look like for owning a storage facility as your business venture. In most communities, there is usually more than one storage facility because we humans have accumulated stuff we don’t have room for in our homes.

So what are distinguishing features of your facility that appeal to potential customers?

Do you offer 24-hour access? Is it lighted outside and in each unit? Is it paved or gravel? Are there concrete floors? Are units insulated? What do you charge per month? Do  you offer discounts for longer rental periods? Are pallets available to raise items off the floor?

Once you have answers to questions your prospective clients are likely to ask, compare your facility to the competition and you should wind up with a fairly solid value proposition that differentiates you from those competitors. Maybe it’s location and convenience or ease of access for trucks and trailers.

When a prospective customer asks what makes you different, you need to give them a succinct value proposition. In the case of storage units, it might be that you offer clean, safe, and economical protection for their assets.

Take the time to think it through, and when you have your proposition, see how it resonates with customers. Modify it if you must. We’re here to help if you need assistance.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Take Time

There’s a Moody Blues song with these lyrics:  “Time waits for no one.  No, not even you.”

Moody Blues coverWhile the Moody Blues are an amazing group and the song is wonderful, the line is profound and poignant, especially in this era of smart phones and instant gratification.  Even though the instant gratification term is seldom used any more, the syndrome remains.  We, as human beings, want answers and information right now.  We want to act now and be done with whatever it was we were doing so we can move on to the next project or activity.

Through it all, time does not wait for anything; the clock keeps ticking.

Stop for a minute or two and answer these questions:

1) Did you make any mistakes today because you were trying to move too quickly?

2) Did you ignore an important person in your life because you didn’t have time for them?

3) Has your day been extraordinarily stressful because you can’t seem to get everything done?

If you’ve been honest with yourself and answered “Yes!” to any of these questions, it’s time to slow down a bit and take time to think.

Consider whether you have too many tasks on your “To Do” list and how many of them are simply “crap” you put on the list so you don’t forget to do them.  Checking your E-mail is a good example.  Does it really need to be on the list when you know you’re going to check it several times a day any way?  It’s like putting “Take a Shower” on your “To Do” list.  It’s routine and a task you’re not likely to forget, so why stress yourself out by adding it to the daily tasks?

Here’s the key:  When you make up your list of priorities for the day, take the time to think about what are the top five that MUST get done.  It might only be one or two tasks, and that’s okay.  You will have accomplished your objective if those two to five items are finished by the end of the day.  Think, too, about what’s most important.  It might be taking your son or daughter to a ball game.  Yes, that’s important, even to a busy corporate executive.

Your work will always be there, unless you can delegate it to someone else (remember, you still have ultimate responsibility), but your children grow up and leave the nest before you know it.

Think about what’s most important to you, personally, as well as professionally.  Time with your spouse doing what she or he likes to do.  Time with your children doing whatever.  Time with yourself just thinking, reading, napping, hiking, exercising, enjoying time alone, or listening to the Moody Blues.

Time is not going to wait for you to make up your mind.  The time you took to read this blog is gone, and it’s not coming back.  We hope you found some value in it, and that it was worth the time spent.  If you’d like help managing your time, click on the slogan below and give us a call.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand

Missionary Zeal

If you lack passion for your business, it’s time to give some thought to why you’re doing what you’re doing.  Missionary zeal is essential for business owners to ingrain into their company or organization.  It becomes the defining element of their corporate culture, the reason for your existence.

150px-USS_Benfold_DDG-65_CrestThere is an excellent book on leadership by Captain D. Michael Abrashoff called It’s Your Ship and sub-titled Leadership Techniques from the Best Damn Ship in the Navy.  Abrashoff created the best ship in the United States Navy by realizing that the destroyer he commanded, the USS Benfold, was more than “his” vessel.  It belonged to every sailor on board and the standard military protocol of command and control was less than ideal as a management technique.

The captain found that the more every member of the crew knew they had ownership of their ship and that he cared about them and their role on it, the higher the level of performance could be expected from everyone.  His vision was to reinforce that the ship’s mission was combat readiness.  Pure and simple.  That vision was communicated with the expectation that every sailor on board was important to achieving that mission.  It was, without a doubt, their ship!  The fact the USS Benfold became the best damn ship in the Navy proved his approach.

Does that same missionary zeal apply to your organization?

Do your “sailors” feel as though they can help accomplish the mission?  Do they even know what the mission is?  Do they care?  If they don’t, the reason may be that they don’t believe you care about them or what they do.  Do you listen to their suggestions?  Do you implement those recommendations, or sweep them under the rug?

More importantly, do your sailors understand the corporate mission?  Do you, as the business owner or CEO, convey your vision for the company’s success?  If you are unsure or unclear, it may be time to seek professional counsel and re-visit your corporate culture.  It’s okay to embrace change if it is warranted.  Insanity has been defined as continuing to do the same thing and expecting a different result.

Your mission needs to clearly define your reason for existence, cutting through all the verbosity.  Are you in business to provide a service or a product to consumers?  Or to make money?  It should be both, but if you answered “Yes” to only making money, you need an independent third party to help you figure out how to do it.

Brand Your Work – Work Your Brand



Communication: Critical

Communication is critical to business success.

When you look at business plan formulas and study different models, there are two key ingredients woven through every one of them,   One is the reason for existence, or the corporate mission and vision.  Without a mission, success is hard to define and largely a matter of luck.

The second essential that is critical to whatever plan is put together is communication!Communication Diagram

Communication is the thread that is woven into and through the success of any organization.  If it is weak at any level, the message can be lost and the consequences will be seen on the bottom line.  If lines of communication are strong throughout the company, substantial profits can be gained.

Communication starts with the corporate mission.  It should be clear why the company is in business.  This falls on the owner to know the reason for the company’s existence and to communicate that vision throughout the entire organization and to the consuming public.  If the ownership has a hard time defining that vision, imagine the impact that has on everyone else involved with the company.

A consistent message must be communicated within and throughout the company, from management to employees and back as part of the culture.  All levels of the organization must sing the same song.  Managers must be open to suggestions from staff, especially those on the front lines of production or customer service.  Staff, especially those involved in sales, have a direct line of communication with customers, so their voices must be heard.  What they can communicate to the organization as feedback from consumers can mean the difference between long-term profitability and going out of business fire sales.

Everyone is part of the same ship and can make the difference between sinking or sailing.  The owner’s vision also defines his or her leadership style.

The company must communicate clearly with its customers and potential consumers.  If the customer is getting conflicting messages, often generated by word-of-mouth from other consumers, the likelihood of continued sales goes down dramatically.  Consistency is important in the message delivered to the public, but so is the value of consumer perception, whether it matches the company line or diverges.  Despite what business owners may think, people do talk about companies and ask what makes them different.

The key is to facilitate open and honest communication throughout the organization.