Great ideas

Written by Verne on October 18th, 2007

A friend and I always talk ideas. Not always big ideas, but certainly ideas that excite us. They’re usually business ideas, or ideas for businesses. It always starts with “you know what somebody should do…” or “this randomly came to me the other day…”. Then we start tossing thoughts back and forth. Then we get amped up about the idea. Really amped up. We even come up with the name for the business and pick out appropriate domain names. And if we could submit MSN conversations as business plans, we would.

Then at the end of the night, we get back to reality and realize we have no time. And even if we did, we acknowledge the fact that we already run a business.

Is it wrong to want to do something a little different sometimes?

Entrepreneurs are on the path they are on presumably because they desire a lifestyle that lets them do what they want to do – free of restrictions. But as an entrepreneur, how restricted are you from diverting your attention to other ventures? Is it a formal duty or a personal judgment call that holds you back? Do you create policies that govern these scenarios for you, your partners and your employees? Does that make things a bit hypocritical? Does that make you hypocritical?

Enough questions, back to work. I love what I do. We just have great ideas, that’s all.

I can see clearly now

Written by Verne on October 10th, 2007

Unlike the Johnny Nash song, it’s still raining here in Toronto. BUT I just picked up a new 21.6″ LG widescreen LCD monitor from Future Shop for a cool $249.99 which makes the world of a difference. Hello eye-burning large resolution.

21.6? LG Widescreen LCD Monitor

It kind of makes the rest of my room look like crap.

The first step in my home office plans and some new motivation to take more steps.

PS: FS also had a 22″ Samsung LCD for $299 that had a glossy shell and a 2ms response time (compared to my 5ms). Should I have shelled out the extra $50 for an additional 0.4″ and 3ms? My tech advisor Ben confidently says no. And I trust him. What do you think?

All show, no go

Written by Verne on October 7th, 2007

The for-hire industry is being damaged everyday with the existence of individuals who are all show but no go, ruining the reputation for those who aren’t, and the experience for those who hire.

So ask yourselves this:

As a hiring manager, have you ever hired somebody onto your team that greatly impressed you during the interview process but ended up a flop once brought on board? If so, how do you avoid this?

As a freelancer, do you put the same amount of effort into executing a project as you do to secure the project in the first place? If not, why?

The last question is a little more rhetorical than the others, but certainly the most important to consider for the well-being of the market.

As both those who hire and those who seek to be hired, we need to be aware that this phenomenon exists. When it happens, we’re all responsible. But no need to point fingers, let’s figure out how to avoid it instead.

What I’ve learned from 3 months of blogging

Written by Verne on October 4th, 2007

I’ve had the pleasure of running this blog for just about 3 months now, and as cliche as this sounds, it’s grown beyond any expectations I’ve ever had. As some of you may have noticed, this last month has been met with a slower posting rate, yet, to my surprise, my RSS subscriber counter has continued to grow with each passing day. To put things in perspective, on September 1, I had approximately 12 RSS readers. A few days ago, on October 1, I reached an new high of 40 RSS readers. I’ve posted my RSS trackrecord below.

creative briefing FeedBurner RSS statistics

This blog is far too young to tell what the count increase is due to, but it certainly challenges many big bloggers’ theories of needing to blog at least once everyday in order to build readership. Tim Ferriss’ school of thought seems more appropriate in this case. Whatever the case may be, I’m happy to have everyone here, and I hope to see the number continue to grow!

Likewise, over the past 3 months I’ve continued to grow as a blogger as well. I mentioned sometime before that the great thing about blogging is that it’s very forgiving. And because this has been mostly a touch-and-go experience, I’ve had my fair share of hits and misses. So in light of this blog’s recent 3-month milestone, I thought I would share with everyone a few things I’ve learned along the way.

Read the rest of this entry >

Why you need a sales guy

Written by Verne on September 28th, 2007

As with every entrepreneur fostering the growth and development of a blooming company, you inevitably find yourself splitting more and more of your responsibilities to other individuals. Ask Evan Carmichael of YoungEntrepreneur.com and he’ll tell you that delegation is one of the key elements to master for any young go-getter. And it’s not so much the idea of taking the load off your own shoulders, but the concept that you should better focus your strengths in one area rather than wear yourself thin that makes delegation a strategic move.

Since the spawn of my creative agency almost 4 years ago, I’ve naturally fulfilled this process by bringing on great partners along the way to take on different faculties of the business such as finance/accounting, IT, and strategic marketing. Whether it was to pass on the responsibility to more experienced hands or to add extra hands to my personal expertise, this growth strategy has worked well for us.

Naturally, the next step in this progression is to branch out our sales efforts. Like most small companies, we’ve believed all along that sales is one of those areas that can be kept within the available stream of people to manage along with everything else (sadly, marketing is thought of in the same fashion for many organizations). However, during an interesting conversation with two of my best friends tonight, one of which happens to be one of the best salesmen I know, I started thinking about the importance of a dedicated sales guy within the roster of any organization. More specifically, I got to contemplating why my business needs a sales guy and why others in the same position would need one (or two, or three…) too.

Here’s what I came up with:

  1. Focus on your strengths
    Going back to my point about delegation, focusing your efforts on one or a few areas will always be more effective than spreading yourself thinly across a lot of them. I’m a marketing specialist (so says my degree) with an eye for creative work. As much as sales is related to marketing, they’re not the same. I’m not a salesman and I will probably never be one completely. Rather than working on perfecting my sales skills while also trying to perfect my marketing instincts and creative senses, why not let someone else take it on? For the same reason that you know those all-in-one machines won’t do each task as well as a machine that is dedicated to that task will, dedicating someone to selling will greatly improve your sales strategy and allow you to better apply your area of expertise.
     
  2. Sooner or later, referrals won’t be enough
    Our agency has been fairly fortunate up to now and have survived almost purely on referrals and word-of-mouth marketing. But since starting this gig full-time, I’ve realized that with more time comes a work capacity that is greater than what referrals can fulfill. With most freelancers, this is a familiar territory that calls for the need to perform some active sales tactics. The problem is, the more time spent on selling, is the less time spent on other areas, like execution (and we return to the problem noted in the first point). So, if you’re like us and have depended on referrals to maintain your flow of revenue, then get ready to face a dose of reality: you’ll need to do some selling eventually. Who better to tackle this responsibility than a sales guy?
     
  3. Keep the pipeline full
    If you’re a freelancer or are part of a small organization that doesn’t have a dedicated sales person, it can be difficult to balance the projects you’re working on and the projects you’re hoping to win. You’re caught in a difficult position because if you don’t fill up your pipeline with upcoming projects you’ll run out of work. Yet, if you spend too much time closing deals, your current projects may suffer. On the other hand, if you had a sales guy, he or she could focus on bringing in the new clients while you can maintain your focus on keeping them happy through quality work. Ah, an equilibrium is reached.
     
  4. Have a bigger piece of pie
    Of course, the number one concern with bringing on an extra head is money. “Why would I take a chunk out of what I’m currently earning in order to pay a sales guy?”, you ask. Look at it this way: while the percentage of earnings that you gain will decrease, the amount of total earnings will increase. In other words, you are sacrificing a larger percentage of the pie for a larger pie in general (which inevitably gives you a bigger piece of pie!). That’s the target anyway. It may not be this way at first, but once ramped up, having a sales guy could essentially increase your revenue stream by bringing in more clients and projects.
     

Naturally, adding a sales guy to the team isn’t for everyone. If you’re comfortable with the current flow of work and your capacity is being fully utilized, then you’re probably still okay to not take this route. Otherwise, consider adding a sales guy as part of the next evolution of your org structure for the reasons stated above. I know I will.

Note: the terms ‘sales guy’ and ‘salesman’ are used purely as a traditional industry term and is meant to include both males and females in sales roles.икони