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Running A Successful Business Requires a Functional Business Model

Published on August 30, 2012 by in General

Entrepreneurs come up with ideas for products and services every day. Whether the ideas are good or not, many of them never see the light of day. Why? That’s because the person with the idea does not have a competent model to show that the product or service will be successful and in how the company functions. A business model is an important element in creating a successful company, small or large.

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How to Find Good Designers

Published on July 16, 2012 by in Design

Written by: Guest Blogger Zuhair Siddiqui

The task of finding the best designer for your requirements is difficult, but following a process can make it easier. While browsing through designer’s portfolios can give you a good indication of the capabilities of the designer, it can often be difficult to judge a designer on their website/portfolio alone, since many portfolios resemble each other. However, once you can determine the specifics of what you want the designer to work on, it can be a fairly simple task to browse various designers’ portfolios and find a suitable designer.

How to Find Good Designers

Finding a good designers for your needs doesn’t need to be difficult process if you know what you need and how to ask your questions.

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Being Your Own Media Outlet

Often when I meet with a new client, the first question that comes up is how they create awareness of their organization to interested parties. This is usually followed up with who I know at media outlets. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning just doesn’t apply anymore.

Find customers/donors where they want to be met. Develop a strategy for several media outlets.

Ten years ago, public relations work was all about calling up reporters you knew and pitching story ideas to them. This is still important, however, the growth of websites and social media combined with the seemingly consistent turnover of news staff means this approach doesn’t work that well. The decline of news coverage has left many organizations scratching their heads. With that kind of environment, what should you do?

I have always advocated that the key to success is being your own media outlet. To be your own media outlet, you need to compile stories that you spread to several outlets. Outlets include:

  • Website
  • Blogs
  • Social Media
  • Newsletters
  • Annual Report
  • Local Newspapers (such as YourHub)
  • Media Outlets (radio, TV, newspaper)

Sending a “completed” news story that is written to AP style (journalism style) rapidly increases your ability to have a news story printed. Plus you can re-purpose this story in many other ways to other outlets like those listed above.

The key to success then is finding your customers/donors were they want to be met. For some it is social media, for others it is video and for even others it is in the newspaper. By spreading your message across various outlets, you will find customers/donors that you would not have found otherwise.

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Finding Pricing for Creative Services

Published on December 2, 2011 by in General

When I first started my company three+ years ago, I searched for seemingly hours to try to determine a pricing structure for my services. Instead of finding specific prices for services, I read a lot of philosophy about “how to price” my services. That didn’t work for me.

Creative Services Pricing

A price chart of my creative services, learn more on my pricing page.

I am an old-school retail guy at heart who is used to have a price tag on items. I couldn’t figure out why then I couldn’t look at a design firm and distinguish their prices. I mean, they have done a thousand brochures right, what does it cost then to do one?

While I do realize that every client/project is unique, I needed an internal price sheet to go by. I work with too many organizations that need an estimate. I figured then, why not share this information?

I am pleased to announce that I recently launched a new pricing page. I feel strongly that this will help my future clients gain a better understanding of what I offer and how much it will cost. And yes, I know that sometimes I might lose a little money by pricing items too low, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

What do you think of standardized pricing? What do you think of my prices, are they too high/low? Take a moment and leave a comment with your thoughts.

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Multiple Resumes and LinkedIn

Published on November 17, 2011 by in General

As I was meeting with a job seeker today, we inevitably discussed LinkedIn as one of the pieces to finding a job. Interestingly she had decided not to have a Linkedin profile right away. Being the curious guy I am, I drilled away until I uncorked the reason and boy was it a good one.

Remember way back when we used to have several different resumes for different types of jobs we wanted. Well that is exactly what she has. She has graduate level college experience that she noted some job postings didn’t ask for. As she accurately stated that some jobs might be a perfect fit for her, but she might be over qualified. So, she would like to send them a resume without her high-level coursework.

What does that have to do with LinkedIn? Well… You can’t have it both ways on LinkedIn. If you list your graduate experience on LinkedIn, you can’t then hide it when say a headhunter looks at it. In essence you can’t tailor your ‘digital’ resume for the job. Either you list it and they see it all or you don’t list it and nobody sees it.

You might then think that it would be better for her not to have a LinkedIn profile. Well, you might be right except she also pointed out that she met a headhunter from Monster who point blank said if she didn’t have a LinkedIn profile that it meant she was hiding something. The thought goes along the lines that since it is so widely used, if you don’t use it then you have something to hide. And if you were thinking above that she could simply make part of her profile private then the headhunter would definitely think she was hiding something.

In this economy, many people are taking whatever job they can. Unfortunately, employers aren’t always thinking along the same lines. They tend to think if someone is over qualified, no matter the economy, they don’t get the job. I have heard many a story of a highly qualified individual who simply isn’t hirable because they are over-qualified.

What would you do with type of issue? I, frankly, don’t know.

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Notes from the Fall Conference

The last two days I exhibited my business at the Colorado Nonprofit Association‘s Fall Conference and spoke with dozens of people in the nonprofit world. What did I learn?

1. “Good” Chocolate

I quickly became known as the exhibitor with the best chocolate since I offered Ghirardelli. Who would have thought with a demographic consisting mainly of women that chocolate would be such a big hit. Ha!

2. Nonprofits Need My Services

From the people I spoke with it became clear that many were balancing their current jobs with trying to do communications work as well. Quite often this was the case of those working in the development department. While I can how communications and development are complimentary business since I often present my business with MD Fundraising Services, a non-profit development contractor, it isn’t a one-person fits all. All too often the development person feels overwhelmed by communications or simply doesn’t have the skill set to produce articles and marketing pieces that attract donors. If you are one of those trying to do too much consider hiring me to be your partner in helping you succeed.

3. Nonprofits are Trying to Hire Jack-of-all-Trades Employees

I spoke with a lady who asked me if I did the IT side with hardware. I immediately responded “No, that is two different skill and mind sets.” She immediately nodded her head and said that the nonprofit had tried to hire an IT/Communications person, but that it only lasted 3 months. The person just couldn’t handle all the different aspects of the job. This happens all too often. I often speak on how difficult it can be to write and code websites. They are two different mindsets. I have been lucky that I can bridge that gap. This is what my business is for. Consider hiring me instead of trying to fill a large need with one full-time person. Break it down into pieces and let the experts help you meet your need.

At the end of the day it was a great conference. I hope that those who I spoke with were able to think about their communications efforts in a new way and I look forward to speaking with them again. See you next year!

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Prepped and Ready to Go!

TE Creative Services Advertising Poster, 11x17.

11x17 Poster.

Next week, after months of preparation and planning, I will have a booth at the 2011 Colorado Nonprofit Associations’ Fall Conference on Oct 10 and 11 . This will mark the first time in my 3-year history that I will be out selling my business. For the past several years I have relied on and received all my business through word-of-mouth advertising.  Quite frankly, this has been very successful for me. Now, I am ready to take it to the next level. What have I done to get ready?

Since I decided to purchase a booth way back in May, I have done a ton of work. I started with creating a new logo then I designed and printed brochures, posters and business cards. Also I had shirts made and have relaunched my website. It has been a great experience. I mean, I normally do all this work for my clients and don’t really produce much for my business. This is the first time I have turned my skills on my business. It has been a very rewarding experience and has validated my work to myself. I can’t wait until I get to the conference to see how all my work comes together.

Anyone who has spent time with me lately knows that this conference is a really, really big deal to me. I have spent hours agonizing over how to present my business, what exactly my business is and how I want potential clients to see my business. In the end, I feel like I have a really solid business plan. I have shared this plan with some close friends and clients. Everyone has been really positive with their comments. The reality, that my clients/friends have told me, is that I deliver a great service at a low price with lots of value for my clients.

Why write a blog about this? I hope potential and new clients see the effort I put into my work and how much effort I put into your materials. Also, I made the decision years ago to be a little more personal with my business. I have always felt that people buy from people and the more you know that person the more comfortable you are working with that person. My business is about trust and teamwork. Without these pieces the best laid plans will fall apart.

To all my past/current clients, thank you again for all the help getting me to this point. To my future clients, I look forward to hearing from you. Thanks and see you at the conference!

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New Website

Over the past several years, I have had 3 different website designs that have had various successes and challenges. As a single-person shop, I have always had the challenge of how to grow and maintain my website without spending a lot of time on it. This issue combined with the growth of my blog as well as presenting my portfolio has lead me to relaunching my site powered with WordPress.

If you haven’t heard of WordPress, you will. It is no secret that building websites are getting easier and easier. With WordPress, I can sign in through a browser and make website updates without needing expensive software. I don’t need to hand code anything nor do I need to deal with cross-browser issues.

While I contemplated making this change to WordPress for quite sometime, I do realize that I have lost all my old blog posts as well as lost some of the creative freedom from hand coding. Yes, I can still make color and layout adjustments with WordPress, it just doesn’t seem to be as flexible as say Dreamweaver was.

Thank you to all my past and current clients who have made this dream of TE Creative Services possible. I hope all of you will enjoy this new site, become a fan of me on Facebook and come back often!

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