The Happy Entrepreneur: 57 Tips and Resources to Make Solo Work FUN!

Tuesday, October 9, 2007 at 1:23pm by Site Administrator

Working alone has its perks: no annoying coworkers, fewer interruptions, and the option to wear fuzzy slippers. Of course, solo work means you’ll miss out on social interaction, entertainment, and networking. Check out these ideas designed to help entrepreneurs make working alone a happy experience.

Toys and Entertainment

Whether they’re fun tools or just a crazy way to conduct business, these resources will have you looking forward to work every day.

  1. Get a pet: Pets make great officemates–they’ll usually sleep all day, but are always up for a quick run in the park or just simple attention.
  2. Pandora Internet Radio: Rock out to your favorite music for a fun distraction.
  3. My Cyber Twin: Make your clients think you’re insane–in a good way. Set up a virtual chat twin that will answer your IMs with zany conversation.
  4. Ta-da List: Banish to-do lists from your life, and adopt a more fun and exciting way to organize: ta-da lists! Keep track of what you’ve got going on and all that you’ve accomplished while approaching them as items that are more fun than responsibility.
  5. Trizoko: Read this blog for business news with a side of fun.
  6. Monkey On Your Back: Harass others into doing your bidding by putting a virtual monkey on their back.
  7. Sing emails to yourself: If you’re the type that reads over your work aloud, why not sing it? It’s weird, but fun.
  8. Keep score: If your work is full of cold calls or responding to repetitive emails, come up with a way to keep records of what you do each day. Challenge yourself to beat your personal best every hour, week, or month.
  9. Trade your chair for a balance ball: Balance balls are good for ergonomics, and let’s face it, it’s hard to take yourself seriously when you spend the day sitting on a huge rubber ball.
  10. Googlism: It’s always important to keep an eye on your online reputation. With Googlism, you can take a funny look at what Google thinks about you and your startup.
  11. The Chief Happiness Officer: Read this blog to find out how to "love your job, love your life, and kick butt at work."
  12. Popularity Dialer: If you know you’ll be stuck in a boring client meeting for hours, sign yourself up for a very important fake phone call that will provide comic relief and a chance to get away for a moment.
  13. Make Fido your assistant: Give yourself the gift of amusement that saves time. Teach your dog to perform simple tasks like fetching a beverage from the refrigerator or grabbing your morning paper.
  14. NoteZilla: Put virtual sticky notes on your desktop with NoteZilla. These notes are really useful, skinnable and just downright fun for organization junkies.
  15. Watch Joost TV: If you’re not easily distracted, keep a small window open for Joost and watch TV all day while you work.
  16. Build an RSS feed library: News doesn’t have to be boring. Build an RSS feed library that’s full of fun blogs that you like to read.
  17. Put a pinball machine in your office: Everyone needs a little diversion at some point. Whether your love is pinball or cheap novels, keep them close at hand for a quick, fun break before getting back to work.

Connections & Feedback

If you’re working alone, it can be hard to objectively judge what you’ve produced. Use these tips and resources to get feedback from an outside source.

  1. Join the Chamber of Commerce: For networking opportunities and a fresh set of business contacts, your local chamber of commerce can prove to be a highly valuable resource.
  2. Join a sports league: Signing up for an adult sports league can be more social than you think. You’ll connect with others on the field, and likely enjoy a round of drinks after the game. You may even find that you’ll score some low cost marketing by supplying the team with jerseys that have your venture’s name on the back.
  3. Enlist friends and family: Your friends and family may represent some of the demographics that you hope to reach in your business, so their opinions are vital. Ask them for their honest take on your work, and you’ll be able to find out what the general public thinks of you.
  4. Take your laptop to the playground: Can you think of a better way to reconnect with fun than to hang out at a playground? Let the excitement of playtime rub off on you and your work, and be sure to take a moment to climb the jungle gym.
  5. Locate a marketing expert: Make friends with a marketing guru, and you’ll have someone who can both shoot the breeze and help you get the word out about your business.
  6. Connect with business owners online: Check out business forums like Idea Cafe to find other business owners online and learn about the way they work.
  7. Create an offbeat job title: Hey, you’re the boss–why not come up with your own job title just for fun? Handing out a business card with the title of Chief Happiness Officer or Marketing Maven is sure to spark an interesting conversation.
  8. Build a support system: Gather a team of advisors to get you through the tough times. It should include friends, mentors, and helpful business contacts. These are the people that can help you with your marketing materials or just take you out for a beer after a hard day.
  9. Party with your clients: Clients are people, too, and they like fun just as much as anyone else. Invite your clients over for a get together or simply offer to take them out for a casual, no-business lunch once in a while.
  10. Work at a coffee shop: Working in a coffee shop will get you out of your usual element and allow you to have fun watching the world go by.
  11. Start a blog: Whether you’re sharing breaking news about your developments at work or just sharing tidbits about daily life, a blog is a great way to have fun with words and get connected with others in your field.
  12. Use Meetup: You can use Meetup to find and get together with others who have similar interests. Find a group of people that work in your same industry, or just meet new people to have lunch with.
  13. Find a mentor: Whether you’re established or just starting out, you can probably use some advice and friendship from a person who’s been there before. Find yourself a mentor to meet with once a month.
  14. Join Toastmasters: Build your speaking skills and meet with others through Toastmasters. This organization will not only teach you to speak better, it will help you communicate more effectively in a friendly environment.
  15. Take up with coworkers: No, not actual coworkers, but other entrepreneurs that share space and ideas in a coworker community setting.

More Fulfilling Work

Work is always more fun when it goes beyond the daily grind. Follow these tips to get more from what you do and enjoy the process.

  1. Do what you love: This one’s simple–if you do what you love, you’ll always have fun at work.
  2. Pretend every day is the day before a vacation: You know that great feeling you get right before vacation when you know the bills are paid, you’ve returned everyone’s call, and every invoice has been sent out? Prioritize your work so that important things like these are taken care of and you feel on top of things.
  3. Make your customers happy: If your customers are happy, chances are you’re going to enjoy your work a whole lot more. With this in mind, do whatever it takes to make sure you’ve got a satisfied customer.
  4. Get something back: If you’re funding your own startup, chances are you’re spending lots of money on supplies, services and more. Consider signing up for a cash back credit card so that you can have fun watching cash back statements come in for money you were going to spend anyway.
  5. Fire problem clients: Although you want to keep clients happy, don’t kill yourself trying to do so. Make your work life easier and more enjoyable by getting rid of clients that will suck the fun out of your business relationship.
  6. Mark anniversaries: Remember and celebrate moments like the day you stepped out on your own, turned your first profit, or launched off your website. These are all little ways to make even a mundane day feel special.
  7. Create boundaries: If you’re passionate about what you’re doing, it can be hard to create boundaries between leisure time and work time. Unfortunately, when lines are blurred in this way, you can overwork yourself and not even realize it. Create a schedule for work time and stick to it. If you have the option to do so, use a home office and promise yourself that it’s exclusively for work.
  8. Give something back: Donate your time, service, or product to a worthwhile cause in your community. You’ll not only feel good about what you’re doing, but also get connected with free marketing, networking, and people who appreciate your efforts.
  9. Let unimportant projects fall: Be a lazy entrepreneur: start lots of small projects, but commit yourself only to the ones that grab you as fun and interesting. You’ll find that the ones that attract you are much more fun and fulfilling to work on.
  10. Celebrate your success: Goal-driven entrepreneurs sometimes have a hard time taking a moment to pat themselves on the back for a job well done. Create a brag list or simply plan small rewards to give to yourself when you’ve accomplished something good.

Relax & Recharge

As an entrepreneur, it’s vital that you work hard, but it’s equally as important that you get some downtime, too. Follow these tips and you’ll have more fun working solo–if only because you’re awake enough to enjoy it.

  1. Power nap: Take a brief afternoon nap to recharge and pretend that you’re playing hooky.
  2. Take a mini-vacation: If taking off for two weeks could prove fatal to your business, consider getting away on a mini vacation of 3 or 4 days. It’s just long enough to disconnect, but short enough that clients won’t get ticked off.
  3. Laugh: Laughter is fun, plain and simple. So make an effort to laugh at work every day. Whether it’s a ridiculous email from a client or a funny video on YouTube, take a moment to loosen up and smile.
  4. Learn office jargon: Find out some of the ridiculous things office workers are saying, and you’re sure to get a laugh. Bonus points if you’ve ever been confused by one of your corporate clients who used one of them.
  5. Earn travel from your work: Make all of your business spending add up to something fun by using a travel rewards card. With this sort of credit card, you can earn a free vacation while making purchases that are necessary for your business.
  6. Schedule playtime first: Build your schedule around what you really want to do, and you’ll always have time for the fun stuff.
  7. Perk up with coffee: Most entrepreneurs already know this, but a healthy dose of morning caffeine can give you the boost you need to have an enjoyable and productive work day. It’s loaded with health benefits, too.
  8. Exercise: Take a spin around the block and say hi to your neighbors, or hit the gym with a friend. Either way, you’ll give yourself more energy and a chance to get out and connect with others.
  9. Stretch your brain: If you’ve been working hard all day, your brain is probably burnt out. Give it a chance to exercise itself in a new way. Read a book, learn a language, or just play a game of solitaire.
  10. "Relaxify" your workspace: Feel good in your workspace by making it more attractive and functional. In a revitalized space, you’ll be more relaxed and positive.
  11. The four-day week: Challenge yourself to get more done in less time, and force yourself to take a break every week by simply cutting out Fridays.
  12. Enjoy a tasty adult beverage: For most responsible adults, enjoying an alcoholic drink during the work day can help you unwind, find the humor in your work, and maybe even get your creative juices flowing.
  13. Stay healthy: If you’re not feeling well, you’re probably not going to have a lot of fun and happiness anywhere, much less while you’re working. Commit to health, and better enjoy life at work and beyond.
  14. Take a joy break: For 10 minutes or so, promise yourself to do something brief, but enjoyable. Whether it’s gathering flowers from your garden or an impromptu dance session with your dog, take a moment to do something fun in the middle of your work day.
  15. Enjoy procrastination: Procrastination isn’t evil. In fact, in can be fun, unless you spend all of your procrastination time thinking about the work you’re avoiding. Throw yourself whole-heartedly into putting off work in the name of fun and you’ll be better prepared to jump back into work when you’re ready to do it.

15 Gadgets to Turn Your Car into a Mobile Workstation

Monday, October 8, 2007 at 1:55pm by Site Administrator

Whether you’re constantly on the move for your business or just like to get some work done while you’re stuck in rush hour, working in the car can be a dangerous, messy ordeal. Fortunately, there are loads of gadgets out there that can help you turn your car into safer, more functional mobile office. Check out these gadgets that will allow you to work effectively.

  1. Parrot Easydrive Bluetooth Car Kit: Bluetooth is a necessity for the businessperson on the go today, and this car kit from Parrot makes it easy to simply plug and play. It also makes doing business on the road safer, as it keeps your hands free to hold onto the wheel. This system can be used with any car and any Bluetooth-enabled phone. Simply plug the speaker into your car’s cigarette lighter and you’re ready to get to work anywhere.
  2. Sony VGN-TXN15P/B: While laptops by nature are meant to be portable, some are more portable than others. If you’re in the market for a new laptop, consider getting one that won’t be a pain to lug around everywhere with you. The Sony VGN-TXN15P/B fits the bill: at only 3 pounds it’s light enough to carry without giving you a backache, and it won’t take up much room at only 1 inch thick. It may not be versatile enough for the hardcore computer nerd, but for those looking for portability, it can be a great solution. If that’s not your style, try one of these other ultra portable models.
  3. CarGoDesk Mobile Workstation: Stop tossing your work gear into the seat next to you and get organized with a mobile workstation. Simply secure it in the passenger seat next to you with the seatbelt and it provides easy access to all of your business necessities. The non-skid surface on top keeps your laptop from sliding around and side compartments organize all of your files. You can even mount your PDA, GPS and cell phone for easy access. At $149 for the basic model, this solution is one that will do the job without maxing out your credit card.
  4. Fellowes Micro Trac Mouse: For those who can’t stand using the touchpad on their laptop, but don’t have the room for a standard mouse, the Micro Trac Mouse can be a great solution. Users hold the mouse in their hand like a water pistol and move the trac ball with their thumb, eliminating the need for a flat surface. It works well for computing in small spaces.
  5. The Tripp Lite PV600 inverter: Keep your electronics powered while you’re out of the office with the Tripp Lite Inverter. It harnesses the power of your car’s battery to supply power to up to three AC outlets at once. This makes it possible to keep your laptop, cell phone and PDA up and running even if you can’t make it home to plug them in.
  6. TomTom GO 700: Never get lost on your way to a business meeting again with the TomTom Go 700 portable GPS system. Voice directions will guide you from address to address, and if you don’t have a separate Bluetooth system, the TomTom Go will allow you to make hands free calls. With this gadget’s real-time traffic updates, you’ll never get stuck in traffic. Best of all, it’s portable to any car you use.
  7. Logitech IO2 Digital Pen: While typing notes is ideal, it isn’t always practical when you’re on the go. The IO2 Digital Pen allows users to quickly archive their handwritten notes on special digital paper and transfer them to a computer automatically. You can add items to your to-do list or calendar simply by writing them down, and the pen comes with numerous tools to help you organize your notes.
  8. PLANon DocuPen RC800: Recording handwritten notes is fine, but what if you need to scan something on the go? The DocuPen is a fully functional handheld color scanner. It can store up to 100 pages of information in its memory, and it takes only seconds to scan a page. Now you can scan, upload and send documents no matter where you are.
  9. Targus Wifi Scanner: Don’t lose your connection to the Internet just because you’re not in the office. With a wifi scanner, you can find hotspots anywhere you are. Tiny enough to be carried on a keychain, the Targus Wifi Scanner will detect hotspots and tell you their strength before you even turn on your computer.
  10. Kingston Technology DataTraveler Secure: Keep your data safe and secure when you travel with this USB drive from Kingston Technology. In fact, when you’re on the move, this USB drive might even be a more secure place to store your data that your computer, with its data encryption and password protection. This security powerhouse is can take a beating, too. The titanium case can withstand repeated drops and water, keeping your data intact evenif you accidentally drop it into a puddle or your morning coffee.
  11. Otterbox: Your gadgets can take quite a beating with frequent travel, and some of your more delicate electronics may not be able to take it over the long haul. Protect them with Otterbox. You can get protective gear for everything from BlackBerrys to laptops, keeping your gear safe from water or crushing damage.
  12. iGo everywhere130: Keep your laptop and mobile gear charged anywhere with the iGo everywhere130. This power solution allows you to charge and power your electronics from the office, your car, or even an airplane. Best of all, it’s tiny enough to fit in your pocket.
  13. Palm Treo 700w: If you don’t already have a smart phone or a PDA, you should seriously consider investing in one if you’re doing business on the road. The Palm Treo’s Windows operating system allows you to edit Word and Excel documents, view PowerPoint presentations, and check your email when you don’t have the time or space to whip out your laptop.
  14. Canon Pixma IP90: Sometimes you just don’t have time to run by Kinko’s to pick up some printing so bring a printer along with you instead. The Canon Pixma will allow you to print important documents in full-color for yourself or clients on standard 8.5 x 11 paper. The printer also has optional Bluetooth interface allowing you to print wirelessly from your laptop or PDA.
  15. Think Geek Roll-Up Keyboard: If you’ve got an itty bitty laptop, you might want to bring along a full-sized keyboard to make typing extended letters and projects easier and more comfortable. This roll-up version is as portable as it gets. Simply unroll it and plug it in to start typing. When you’re done, stow it away almost anywhere.

Entrepreneurship is all about the personal freedom to leave the office when you want to. But along with that freedom comes an obligation to see essential projects through to the end at unexpected times. The 15 tools identified in this article will help you turn your car into a mobile workstation which will help ensure that even when you aren’t in the office, the essential tasks still get done.

Should You Bootstrap While Employed?

Monday, October 8, 2007 at 12:00am by Site Administrator

Shawn Hessinger of BoostrapMe blog had an article last month about how you can bootstrap a business while you’re employed. This article is actually Shawn’s reflection of a similar article written by Penelope Trunk at Brazen Careerist.

Penelope emphasizes something very important by making it number 1 (whether she meant to or not): Don’t tell your co-workers.

And let me re-emphasize that: Don’t tell your co-workers. Do I need to repeat that? Don’t tell your co-workers. Even if you’re putting in extra hours at work, out of your own time, to balance your guilt, and even if your side business is losing money, those the least ambitious of all will make your life hell.

While those ambitious like you will praise you, it’s not worth discovering the other type of workmate to tell anyone at all. Jealous people will assume everything wrong in any action or activity you take. And they’ll spread bull about what you’re doing because it’s easier for them than trying something on their own. It’s harsh, but it’s the truth. Commiserate with like-minded types outside of work, not at work.

In a similar vein, most companies have rules against using their resources for anything not related to your job. And believe it or not, that includes email use, even if you use your free Hotmail, Yahoo, or GMail. At any rate, they can see every email you send and receive anyway, so best you get email/ mobile web access on your personal cell phone.

When I was still contracting offline, and even before when I was employed and bootstrapping on the side, I used my own pagers and cell phones for my business. When mobile web access came along, I jumped on it early out of necessity. I’ve had far too many encounters with the jealous type of workmate. Don’t find yourself in that position.

Still, this all means that you can still bootstrap your startup while you’re employed, but that you should be very cautious about anything to do with it. It’s also tough to assess objectively whether your “bootstrap time” is interfering with your work. But keep in mind that even in states where there are labor laws protecting you, there are ways to get rid of you, to discredit you, or simply make you quit.

My feeling is that you should weigh out these consequences for yourself before jumping into your startup during work hours. What do you think? Have you bootstrapped a business while you were still employed? Did you encounter these problems? How did you cope?

Digital Entrepreneuring: Start an Online Publishing Business From Scratch – Part 1

Saturday, October 6, 2007 at 4:30pm by Site Administrator

Domain/ sub-domain structure





Sending web traffic from main blog to subdomain minisites

As more people get drawn to the online space for business, they’ll be looking for online opportunities. Most of the time, to promote whatever you’re doing online you need to write/ buy content – possibly by blogging. Well why not start a small online publishing business? You can bootstrap one for very little initial capital, as a side venture to other online ventures.

Below is a formula that people I know have been successfully employing for the past couple of years. However, you should also read Dosh Dosh’s article Mini Sites vs Flagship Websites has Maki has a contrarian viewpoint there. Not everyone can make minisites work. I’m only touching upon the setup lightly, and will expan in later articles – based on what I’ve gleaned talking to successful webmasters.

1. Identify Hot Topics.
Identify 10-20 issues/ topics from TV that will be on consumers minds for the next 2-3 years or beyond. TV can drive search traffic. This is very, very important. Minisites are not blogs, so they will not have regular readers. However, see below about adding forums.

2. Take Your Pick.
Pick the 5 or 10 topics that interest you the most and set up a mini-site for each. Usually, people focus in a single niche that interests them, and build sites for sub-niches. E.g., health is an umbrella niche and a particular set of diseases might be the topic sub-niches for which you’d set up individual sites. Note that no matter how many hot topics you stumble across, it’s best to focus on a few, build up the sites, and then later consider expanding.

  1. Register domains for each, or if they’re related topics (say health), get one good domain and use subdomains. (I’ll cover the domain architecture for unrelated topics in Part 2.)
  2. For each topic, produce a list of 10-20 questions that searching visitors might have. TV shows surrounding these topics will help, as will FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sites. For business, health and other topics, the U.S. government often has this sort of content online.
  3. Write or buy articles – one article per question. Don’t use too many outbound links to other sites but do have maybe a page of references for each minisite. Make sure that if you’re covering sensitive topics that you offer well-researched, accurate content and that you publish a disclaimer, for your own protection. It’s better to put in the time/money now, to build each site up as an authority, if you want long-term results. Crap content for the sake of making money isn’t going to fly for long.
  4. Publish the articles on your sites. Some blog platforms such as WordPress are versatile enough to act as a general CMS (Content Management System).
  5. Decide how you want to monetize the minisites. You have several choices:
    1. Ads – CPC (Cost Per Click – paid per click).
    2. Ads – CPM (Cost Per Mille – paid per thousand pageviews).
    3. Affiliate programs (typically the same as CPA ads or Cost Per Action)
    4. Other content (e-books, newsletters, DVDs)
    5. Services.

    What you use depends on the nature of the topic and what you have available to you, or what services you can offer.

3. Adding Forums.
Optional: If something is a hot topic and you have the traffic to support it, consider adding a forum for each minisite. Either that or a way for vistors to post or answer questions. If the subject is sensitive, allow for some anonymity.

4. Maintenance.
Maintain the sites by occasionally adding new articles. The frequency is up to you, and might be determined by how well the site is monetizing.

5. Send Web Traffic.
Now drive traffic to each site, either from other blogs you write, purchased traffic (e.g., Google AdWords), or suitable social media sites.

You’ll notice I didn’t say “blog”. Mini-sites take less work to maintain, though they do take much longer to build up traffic, unless you’re proactive about it. So they don’t necessarily monetize “immediately”. Some may take six months to a year, but on a long-term basis, if you’ve selected a niche that enjoys a lot of search traffic, you might start making $200+/mth long-term.

To speed up the process – though not guaranteed – you might add a blog to supplement each minisite, but that is a lot of work/cost to maintain. Instead, if you’re setting up 5 or 10 sites in the same umbrella niche, then you can have a single active blog drive traffic to all of them. I’ll expand further in part 2.

Note: Illustrations are copyright 2007-present, Business Credit Cards.

10 Businesses Facing Extinction and 9 Options for Coping

Friday, October 5, 2007 at 8:00pm by Site Administrator

Entrepreneur magazine had an eye-opening article last month about 10 businesses facing extinction. The writer, Geoff Williams, suggested that the following ten businesses are facing extinction within 10 years:

  1. Record stores.
  2. Camera film manufacturing.
  3. Crop dusters.
  4. Gay bars.
  5. Newspapers.
  6. Pay phones.
  7. Used bookstores.
  8. Piggy banks.
  9. Telemarketing.
  10. Coin-operated arcades.


Premise

If I’m reading between the lines correctly, Williams is not saying these businesses will all go, but the odds are not good for any of them.

Now, I happen to know business owners that fall into some of these categories, or some in peripherally-related niches and they have been hugely affected. With some, because they didn’t roll with the proverbial punches, they are in situations where they’re miserable. One guy won’t talk to his wife nor one of his best friends of 20+ years. Another guy’s used bookstore was kaput a few years back. My mother’s business makes very little on newspapers and calling cards, but they bring in customers for other items. She’s on the verge of selling her business.

The Game Plan

Are you in this extinction boat? What do you do about this impending doom? What are your plans? Here are the options, as I see them.

1. Cry about it.
But expect defeat. You have to take a pragmatic approach and do it yesterday. Emotional attachment is no justification for not doing anything. Still, some people prefer to cope in this way. Maybe someone will take pity on you and give you business for a while.

2. Fight the good fight.
You might succeed, but if your business’ odds of survival are low, there is no “good fight”. You’ll be KOd if you don’t get proactive now.

3. Pour money in.
This is similar to the last option. You’ve heard the saying “throwing good money in after bad”? If your niche is going towards extinction, that’s exactly what’ll happen if you borrow money to pour in. Put that money into either adapting or investing in competitve technology – both discussed below.

4. Sell.
Instead of struggling you could sell your business – just be aware of the tax issues. However, with articles like the one in Entrepreneur magazine pointing that you’re in a dying niche, it may not be so easy. Whatever you get for it might not be enough to retire on.

5. Retire.
You could retire from your business – if you have saved enough, sold for a nice price and/or have a sufficient pension. Few small business owners do. Factor in your age and health. If you expect to live a long time, will your money hold out?

6. Change careers.
If you can’t/won’t favor any of the above options and there’s no easy way to adapt (such as for a variety store owner), then there’s little choice but to change your career. Maybe there’s something you’ve enjoyed doing for a long time and didn’t realize until now how much you know about it. For more information, also see Career Journal and Career [email protected].

7. Invest in your competitor.
That is, invest in the reason/ technology that will be putting you out of business. It’s probably a far easier transition than changing careers.

8. Adapt.
There’s somre future hope of adaptation for, for example, newspapers. There’s ongoing research by Philips, Sony and others to produce paper thin, flexible electronic displays of various sizes. Mos of these displays have data ports so news and data can be downloaded and displayed.

After these are tested in smaller markets, they’ll likely become commonplace. The problem is, can a paid model for news survive? Probably not for news but for niche information, yes. In the meantime, newspapers can go online and try for ad revenue.

9. Go online.
Start moving your business online before you start to go under, so that you still have some branding power. Set up an ecommerce website (if your market research proves this worthwhile), print up small flyers and display them in your store. Tell everyone about the site. Don’t be shy; be shameless about promoting your new venture. Your livelihood depends on it.

Obviously, this won’t work for cropdusters but it will for, say, record store owners. There is still a market for vinyl, and it’s much easier to target it online than from some nondescript storefront in a small town. Ditto for used books. There are still people who prefer print over digital content. (I’m one such dinosaur, despite my technical background.)

On the other hand, you also have to deal with the new business model of free music from the likes of popular acts such as Radiohead, Prince and Nine Inch Nails.

Conclusion

These are not your only options, but they’re the key ones. Likewise, there are more than those ten businesses facing extinction. If you feel that yours is in this category and you don’t know what to do, check out our  100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs resource list. The sites and blogs listed there might just spark some ideas. If you want an easy way to monitor new articles from that set of websites check out the Monster Mashup feed. Tell me, did I miss anything? Do you have some other options that I missed?

Bootstrapper.biz Business, Entrepreneur and Marketing Portal

Thursday, October 4, 2007 at 11:00pm by Site Administrator

If you’ve been reading Bootstrapper for a while, you’ve probably seen all the resource lists published here. They triggered an idea for a handy resource based on the very popular Popurls site.

What I’ve done instead is skipped all the popular news and social media sites and essentially aggregated some of my favorite business, entrepreneuring, startup, bootstrapping and marketing blogs into one place. I initially did this for my convenience because with a scrolling glance, I can keep track of what’s going on in this broad range of blogs. Thus my research time is reduced, helping me one step closer to a shorter work week. The site is not directly part of my case study media sites, but rather a supplement.

So I thought I’d share this new tool with you, built just this evening: Bootstrapper.biz Business Portal. The code is still buggy and occasionally that’s visible when viewing this site. But my hope is to add back the Google videos and some other currently secret features.

Hopefully you’ll find the Bootstrapper.biz portal as useful as I’ve already found it this afternoon. If you have any suggestion for features or would like your blog added to it, drop me a comment. Your blog must fit into the categories of business, entrepreneuring, startup, bootstrapping and marketing, and I reserve the right to accept a site or not. In the meantime, you can also check out our 100 Daily Must-Reads for Entrepreneurs and its Monster Mashup Feed.

Bootstrapper.biz business portal


12 Creative Ways to Monetize Your Body

Wednesday, October 3, 2007 at 2:49pm by Site Administrator

Raising extra money for you or your business can be tricky. You’ve exhausted your investors, you’re fresh out of ideas for fundraisers, and you probably shouldn’t ask to borrow any more money from your neighbors. What can you do, then, to earn enough dough to keep yourself afloat? Use your most basic natural resource– your body! We’ve come up with 12 creative but effective ways to monetize your body, from earning extra cash to maximizing unlikely advertising opportunities.

  1. Become a walking advertisement: The article "Body Billboards" discusses a new trend in body advertising. The author focuses on how large corporations pay regular people to walk around painted, tattooed, or sporting large billboards to advertise their products. If you’re an entrepreneur, you may not be able to afford to pay someone else to advertise for you, but you can do it yourself. Wear a billboard the next time you go to a parade or sporting event and where you know TV cameras will be scouting out interesting, if not odd, characters.
  2. Go logo loco: Fashion designers are constantly throwing couture gowns at celebrities for their walk down the red carpet at shows like the Oscars and Emmys. The number of people those designers can reach through television, magazines, and websites is staggering, and they recognize the investment. No one can buy that kind of advertising. If you’re an entrepreneur, you can also reach a bigger audience than the one you’re currently attracting, by making the most out of your everyday outfits. Print your logo on t-shirts, hats, backpacks, and anything else you can get your hands on. CafePress.com is an excellent resource for creating promotional items. Create enough designs for you and your friends to maximize your company’s exposure.
  3. Sell your plasma: Selling your plasma is an easy way to make money quickly. Plasma, according to eHow.com, is the "clear yellowish fluid portion of the blood that transports water and nutrients to all the cells in the body and is used for transfusions to people who have suffered shock, burns or trauma." You can sell your plasma up to twice a week since your body is constantly producing more plasma. Most medical centers pay between $20 – $35 each time you donate. Visit BloodBanker.com for a list of centers around the country.
  4. Tattoo Advertising: Believe it or not, companies are actually paying consumers to get all tatted up with their designs and logos. The company TatAD connects advertisers, consumers, and tattoo artists, as a way to provide "companies with loyal promoters and providing people with the compensation they deserve for being loyal all these years." LeaseYourBody.com recruits people to wear temporary tattoos, or logos, to advertise for certain companies. According to the TatAD’s company profile, "We’re all walking billboards anyway, so why not get paid to do it?"
  5. Become a sperm donor: In order to donate sperm, men have to undergo a screening process, but if you’re approved, the financial benefits are worth it. AskMen.com estimates that "you’ll earn between $50 to $200 per specimen," but the agency Building Your Family pays $250 – $500 for each sample. Click here to view an official sperm donor checklist.
  6. Have your eggs harvested: Donating your eggs isn’t quite as easy as donating sperm, but it does pay well. If you’re accepted as a donor, you will have to take certain hormones to increase the amount of eggs your body produces. A short, non-surgical procedure will then be conducted to retrieve your eggs. Check out the Integra Med America Web site for more information on egg donation and a link to fill out an application. Payments usually begin at $2,000.
  7. Sign up for a medical study: Participating in clinical research studies is a popular way of earning some extra cash. You can sign up for psychiatric studies, sleep studies, pharmaceutical trials, and even programs that study smoking habits and diabetes. This article discusses different types of clinical studies and how they operate. Visit Clinical Trials Listings to access a directory of all U.S. medical research studies. Search by disease, such as lung cancer, or keyword, like weight loss and migraines.
  8. Sell your platelets: Selling your platelets is a lot like selling your plasma, though you can only go once every two weeks. According to AskMen.com, you will undergo "an initial screening followed by the double-needle aphaeresis, which takes from 90 minutes to two hours." Volunteers usually earn around $50 per visit, so it’s still worth your time.
  9. Roll over and play dead: Who says you have to be able to act to get a TV gig? The popular show CSI is in constant need of new bodies to play their corpses, according to the article "Calling All Corpses for CSI," published on Wired.com. The article claims that "pay is lousy" but if you’re in desperate need of money, $136 isn’t too shabby for kicking back and putting your feet up for a few hours.
  10. Sell Your Hair: In Little Women, Jo nobly sells her hair so that her mother could buy a train ticket to visit her wounded father during the Civil War. Selling your hair nowadays can result in a lot more cash. The Web site TheHairTrader.com operates like a classifieds section for hair: users post the length and type of hair, along with an asking price. Buyers pay anywhere from $100 – $1,500.
  11. Check out Chibi Vision: This marketing concept hasn’t hit the mainstream quite yet, but it’s still worth checking out. Chibi Vision, "a U.S.-patented brand new advertisement method, is a digital walking billboard that you can fashionably wear as a backpack," as described in Japan Today. The idea is that companies will create their own commercials or other marketing footage, broadcast it on the backpack, and pay people to carry it around.
  12. Sell your body parts on eBay: Don’t worry, it’s not as grotesque as it sounds. GossyNews.com published an article which sheds light on another clever, albeit alternative way to monetize the human body. How does it work? According to the article, "Everywhere, people are getting into the act. Charles Hamburg, a software engineer from Dallas, Texas, is going to spend the next month with the Kotex Tampon logo emblazoned boldly across his back, for a reported sum of $48,998…Full-body advertising has arrived."

Making money by maximizing the potential of your own body is, well, priceless. These 12 ideas require little or no startup fees and can help get you back on your feet in no time.

Digital Opportunities: Can You Monetize Web Mashup Tools?

Tuesday, October 2, 2007 at 3:30pm by Site Administrator

Look around online and you might be surprised at the plethora of web mashup tools. These web applications allow you to take the data from one web app and send it to another to get “mashed up” data. It’s the era of the “plug’n'play” web application, and the general consensus must be that there’s money in it – or so you’d think from the quantity of such tools.

Why Mashup Tools?
My own personal favorite is Yahoo! Pipes because I get some of the functionality of programming without having to write actual code. Of course, it’s limited to mashing up mostly RSS feeds (witih some new modules now that handle CSV and text files), but for what it does, it’s a fantastic tool. It’s great for fast prototyping of some types of data manipulation applications.

The question is, though, is it any good to the masses? I thought it was, and produced several video tutorials about Yahoo! Pipes over at Tubetorial, but a few colleagues think Pipes is too technical. As a programmer for 30 years, I’d beg to differ, but it’s all relative I guess.

Is There a Market?
What about other mashup tools? Are they any good? Can you produce anything useful with them? I believe so, but Rob of BusinessPundit says:

… 99.7% of the time, these mash-ups strike me as useless and uninteresting. Most mashups reflect the mediocrity of the minds thats created them.

Well maybe it’s true, but so what? Let people have their fun. Although, if you have to wade through the mediocre to find the proverbial diamond in the rough, then it’s a chore I don’t want. I simply produce my own mashups.

At last count, I think I had 150 Yahoo Pipes mashups. Are most of them mediocre? Absolutely. Did I unleash most of them on the public by “publishing” them? No, I did not. Did I publish any of them? Yes, only the ones I thought were very useful, in tandem with either or both of a blog article or video screencast tutorial.

Can Mashups be Monetized?
The fact is, there’s a potentially big market in web mashups in terms of monetization. I’m not sure if anyone has discovered it yet, but it’s lurking there somewhere. Possibilities:

  1. Publish advertising on the application site – either CPM (Cost per Mille, pays per thousand pageviews), CPC (Cost per Click, pays by the legitimate ad click), or text link ads.
  2. Build a large user base then sell on a per-head basis to someone that wants to later leverage paid subscriptions, services, or other offerings.


Where do You Start?
The digital entrepeneur that comes up with a “killer” web mashup that makes it easy to do one thing well, and can be used plug’n'play fashion with other apps stands a very good chance of scoring a long-term ROI. It’s getting there that you have to be able to weather monetarily, since hosting costs might sink you until you can find a buyer. (While it goes against bootstrapping principles if you incur interest charges, a good  business credit card with %APR and a long payback duration will do wonders for getting you through.)

Conclusion
Geting back to what Rob of BusinessPundit was saying about the reuse of code in mashups… mediocrity comes from not fully understanding what one tool or another really does, or not realizing how two tools can be integrated. A good mashup tool site with a tutorial blog to aid users will win return visitors. Yahoo! Pipes has a blog, though they don’t post as frequently as I’d like.

101 Little Hacks to Help You Get Your Work Finished More Quickly

Monday, October 1, 2007 at 1:54pm by Site Administrator

No matter how much you love your job, chances are you’d still like to be able to get out of the office a little earlier each day. While your boss (or your entrepreneurial work ethic) may require you to stay chained to your chair up until 5:00 on the dot, there are ways you can finish your work more quickly, letting you shuffle around papers and pretend to look busy for the last half hour of the day in peace.

The 101 little hacks included in this article are all designed to shave seconds or minutes off your day. Taken together, these tiny tips can add up to make you a whole lot more productive.

General Computing Tips

Following is a list of simple tips you can use to cut down on aggravating word processing actions. Instead of constantly switching from typing to clicking, keep your hands centered on the keyboard for maximum productivity.

  1. Ctrl-S: Okay, we’re pretty sure everyone knows that Ctrl-S will save your open document, but do you really take the half second to do it every so often? Saving your work when you finish a paragraph or important thought will save you tremendous amounts of time if you accidentally click out of your unsaved document, your computer freezes, or there’s a networking problem that shuts down your system.
  2. Ctrl-H: The Find and Replace tool is a godsend when you’re forced to reformat an entire document or discover you’ve made a simple, but grave typographical error.
  3. F1 for Help: Typing in F1 will bring up the Microsoft Help assistant. Type in your question or a few keywords, and a list of options will appear. Don’t waste your time getting buried in all the different toolbars or looking up your problem on the Internet.
  4. Ctrl-0: This easy application adds an extra space between paragraphs and will save you the headache of trying to re-format your entire document.
  5. Ctrl-K: Add a hyperlink when you type Ctrl-K. Your document will look much neater than if you simple copy/pasted the Web address.
  6. Auto Hot Key: The Productivity Ninja recommends downloading the Auto Hot Key to increase your productivity when plug in your favorites: favorite documents, folders, Web pages, etc.
  7. Customize your toolbars: Click Tools, then Customize. Customizing your toolbars will allow you to view only the applications that you use most often and keep you from getting bogged down in the ones you don’t.
  8. Get rid of the Office Assistant: No matter which Office Assistant you have — the paperclip, the dog, or the cat — it’s way too easy to get distracted at all the extra information it spits out at you while it bounces across the page, wags its tail, or curls up in a ball and goes to sleep. Click here for a how-to on hiding the assistant.
  9. Winword.exe: This file allows you to control the startup of Microsoft Word. For detailed instructions, read the guide under the headindg: "How do I control what happens when I start Word?"
  10. Ctrl-A: The select all command lets you change the font style and size, margins, and other formatting settings with one click. Just make sure you save the document beforehand in case you accidentally delete everything.
  11. Make your printer the default print option: This tip might seem obvious, but if you’re in an office with several other printers, there’s a chance that your documents may end up printing across the room. Go ahead and make your printer the default setting to save you extra time each time you type in Ctrl-P.
  12. Ctrl-Z: Ctrl-Z lets you undo your last application, whether it was a formatting change or a sentence you typed. After a day of deleting each letter by hand, you’ll notice the difference.
  13. Don’t look for synonyms in the thesaurus: A faster way to look for synonyms is to right-click on the world you want to replace, and then select the Synonyms tab.
  14. Mail Merge: Use Mail Merge to set up a generic form for creating letters, envelopes, or labels.

Data Entry Time Savers for Excel

Plugging in numbers, names, and addresses can be unbearably tedious. These easy time savers will help your data entry assignments go a little bit faster.

  1. F2: F2 will let you edit a cell without having to double click on it. This is especially helpful when you editing a cell that contains a hyperlink, since clicking on the link will open your Internet browser on top of your Excel file.
  2. Ctrl-Page Up or Ctrl-Page Down: When your Excel file becomes a massive list of hundreds of contacts or data, using your mouse to scroll up and down takes way too long. Ctrl-Page Up and Ctrl-Page Down is a faster application that is more appropriate.
  3. Insert Row: If you’re working on a spreadsheet that needs to be in a particular vertical order, you may realize that you need to add an extra row somewhere in the middle. Right click the box in the left hand column that you wnat to be below the new row. Select Insert, and then select "Insert Entire Row."
  4. Ctrl-1: Ctrl-1 allows you to format the cells by font, alignment, number, and more.
  5. Ctrl-Semicolon: The Productivity Ninja reveals that typing Ctrl-Semicolon enters the date in the selected cell.
  6. Ctrl-Colon: Ctrl-Colon enters the current time in a selected cell.
  7. Ctrl-D: Instead of re-typing an entry over and over again, highlight the item you want to repeat and drag down to the appropriate cell. Lift your finger off the mouse and type Ctrl-D.
  8. Ctrl-Home: According to the Productivity Ninja, "Ctrl-Home selects A1 on the current worksheet."
  9. Insert Formulas: Follow the directions at ExcelTip.com to learn about inserting formulas, which will automatically compute mathematical and financial data.
  10. Auto Outline: Set up Auto Outline so that you don’t have to waste time agonizing over your own amateur designs.
  11. Ctrl-Tab: If you’re working on more than one spreadsheet, Ctrl-Tab allows you to swiftly move back and forth between each one.
  12. Ctrl-A: After typing in a function, Ctrl-A opens the Function Argument window
  13. Selecting a large range of cells: ExcelTip.com offers two options for quickly selecting a range of cells: either "select the first cell, press Shift, select another cell and then click the mouse" or "select the first cell, type the address of the last cell in the Name box, and then press Shift+Enter."

General E-mail Tricks

From Gmail to Outlook, these e-mail tricks will keep you better organized and more productive.

  1. Continue the e-mail chain: No, we do NOT mean send chain letters via e-mail. If you and a colleague or contact are sending e-mails back and forth about a particular subject, keep hitting Reply each time you write back. Beginning a fresh e-mail each time may cause confusion, and you won’t be able to easily file away confirmations and other important details.
  2. Flag important e-mails as urgent: Most e-mail servers provide the option of flagging a message as high priority or urgent. Doing so will increase your chances of receiving an answer much more quickly and allowing you to move on with your day.
  3. Voice-to-text mobile e-mail: Many cell phones like the Blackberry allow you to e-mail from your phone. Others technologies, like the Vlingo, feature voice-to-text capabilities, which types in whatever messages you literally tell it. This system cuts back on frustrating manual texting time.
  4. Create a filing system for e-mails: Organize your e-mails by moving them to folders in your account. Separate them according to priority or client.
  5. Be aware of other industry’s deadlines: Your industry’s timetable may be completely different from someone in another industry. For example, the media works on a different schedule than teachers and schools. If you need information from someone in an industry other than your own, educate yourself as to when the best time to contact them would be. That way, you won’t be waiting around for a response on a Friday afternoon, when everyone else has already left.
  6. Stay away from e-mail subscriptions: ITSecurity.com discourages subscribing to "dozens of free "tips" sites if you don’t have time to read the items." You’ll flood your inbox and lose time on frivolous sites.
  7. Use a spam filter: Clearing junkmail out of your inbox will let you focus on the important work-related duties you have ahead of you. Just make sure client e-mails aren’t being directed to the spam file.
  8. Break apart large attachments: Unless you want to freeze up your e-mail account (as well as the person’s you’re sending the file to), break up large attachments. The e-mail will transmit more quickly, allowing you to move on to something else.
  9. Spamproof your Gmail account: This article from Digital Inspiration guides readers through the process of spamproofing Gmail accounts.
  10. Program a custom e-mail reader: ITSecurity.com discusses the benefits of a custom e-mail reader, which "can come in handy for custom batch filtering, and even for auto-separating emails into folders."
  11. Sign up for a Gmail account: You have to be invited by an existing user to set up a Gmail account, but chances are you already know someone who has an account. "Reply" messages are saved as conversations, which saves you time when you need to find a particular thread quickly.

Microsoft Outlook Shortcuts

Most offices continue to support Microsoft Outlook for e-mail use. These items are valuable time savers for Outlook account holders.

  1. Ctrl-Enter: This action can be your best friend or your worst nightmare. Make sure you’re absolutely finished formatting, adding attachments, and writing your message before wandering over to these keys.
  2. Delete Messages: Scroll up and down with the arrow keys to mark message for deletion. Type Ctrl-D instead of constantly clicking your mouse.
  3. Escape: If your Outlook window is open, hitting the Escape key will only exit out of your current operation, so you don’t have to worry about losing any other documents.
  4. Ctrl-S: This universal Microsft saving tool will transmit your message into the drafts folder with two simple key strokes.
  5. Ctrl-Q: Highlight a particular message as Read or Unread, whether you’re in your inbox or one of your folders.
  6. Ctrl-Shift: Hit Ctrl-Shift to find items in your Inbox, Contacts list, or Folders.
  7. Ctrl-Shift-C: Add a new contact item in your address book wiht this command.
  8. Ctrl-F: Forward the highlighted message by typing Ctrl-F.

Organization Ideas

Keep your to do lists in order and your thoughts organized with these ingenious ideas. You’ll improve your focus, energy, and productivity levels immediately.

  1. Microsoft One Note: This software allows you to organize notes and research from any computer included in the network location. The fast search feature will "find anything in your notes in mere seconds, even across multiple sections, section groups, and notebooks."
  2. Journyx Timesheet: This time tracking software will help you better organize employee time sheets, payroll schedules and client invoices.
  3. Keep your office or cubicle tidy: File away loose papers, set up a "To Do" tray for items that need your immediate attention, and throw away items that you no longer need. Minimizing the mess on your desk will help you focus and tackle your work more quickly. Check out these simple steps for organizing your desk space.
  4. Invest in a scanner: Scanners allow you to cleverly transition your filing system to your computer. To avoid bloating your hard drive with too many documents, save "folders" onto a disk or USB port. You’ll free up tons of space in your filing cabinet and can print out hard copies whenever you want.
  5. Have a shelf, drawer, or container for everything: Whether it’s the mail, your pens, extra cartridges, or paperclips, have a specific place for everything in your office. And no, we don’t mean a certain corner on your desk. Buy an extra shelving system or nifty Tupperware containers if you need more space. Just don’t throw it all on your desk, where it can distract and irritate you.
  6. Color Code your file folders: Colored file folders are available at OfficeDepot.com. Organize your files by color for clients, projects, payroll, etc.
  7. Take inventory of your office supplies regularly: Nothing will slow you down more than having to run to Kinko’s to print out a proposal just because you forgot to order more paper. Avoid such catastrophes by taking inventory of your office supplies regularly. Skimping on major items like paper, ink cartridges, and pens because of price will cost you way more in the long run if you end up losing clients because of your shortcomings.
  8. Visit CableOrganizer.com: Tangled up wires and cables are an eyesore as well as a safety hazard. Organize your unwieldy cords to tidy up your office space.
  9. Maintain a thorough contacts list: Constantly update your contacts list with potential clients, vendors, and other important people. You’ll save yourself a lot of time keeping names, phone numbers, emails, and addresses all in one place. Keep one version saved on your computer or network and a hard copy in a binder to float around your office.
  10. Take a few minutes to prepare for every meeting you attend: Even if you’re not the one giving the presentation, organizing your emails, calendars, and even your thoughts before a meeting is a smart move. Remebering to bring along the appropriate documents and references, such as your planner, will save you from inconveniently darting back and forth to your phone or office to doublecheck details.
  11. FreeMind free mind mapping software: Download this free software kit to manage your daily duties, calendars, and more.
  12. Label everything: No folder or shelf should go without a label. You can find label templates at Avery.com or invest in a labelmaker. If you have to flip through the contents of every single folder in your cabinet to find anything, you’re wasting way too much time.
  13. Keep your employees organized. Keep your employees busy with assignments, encourage them to keep their own filing cabinets and deadlines, and maintain a strict payroll schedule. Asking them to turn in timesheets and proposals at the appropriate time will save you from putting in extra overtime hours.
  14. Think ergonomics: This article urges readers to "think ergonomics" by evaluating your physical comfort in your office. What are the key elements to think about? "Be sure you are working in sufficient lighting conditions," make sure your chair is comfortable and supports your back, and "if your wrist hurts from using the computer mouse, get yourself a mouse pad with cushioning." If your body is comfortable at work, you’ll naturally be more productive.
  15. Box: This free online file storage program lets you quickly share, rework, and organize files with clients, vendors, and colleagues, which saves your Inbox from clogging up with large attachments.
  16. Clean up before leaving at the end of the day: Spend the last couple of minutes of each workday throwing away discarded papers, deleting e-mails, and putting supplies back in your desk or on their shelves. When you come back to the office at 8a.m., you’ll be in a brighter mood when you see your organized space.

Prioritizing Hints

Sometimes all you need to get you going is a little perspective. Consider these hints that will encourage you to conduct simple prioritizing checks throughout the day.

  1. Stop procrastinating: Procrastinating will make you succumb to a lazy mindset which won’t get you out the door any faster. The Better Life Forum suggests "replacing [procrastination] with a positive habit— the Do It Now habit" in order to "kick procrastination’s butt."
  2. Make several small lists each day: If you give yourself a 3-page list of things you need to do by 5 p.m., you’ll easily become overwhelmed. Chances are your list will have to be rewritten several times by then anyway. Start with a short list for the morning, and then re-evaluate your priorities in the early afternoon, and then again before you go home. This schedule will save you lots of time and frustration.
  3. Take care of your Most Important Task in the morning: Another helpful hint from the Better Life Forum is to complete your most important task as soon as you get to work, even before checking e-mail. The author writes, "no matter what happens after that, I’ve done something very productive today."
  4. Set personal deadlines: Your boss or clients have probably already put deadlines on your assignments, but give yourself very specific deadlines that fall before your time is officially up. For instance, if your boss needs a proposal from you by 5 p.m. Thursday, try to finish it by 10 a.m. that morning. You’ll be surprised at how much more productive you’ll be.
  5. Check in with your supervisor: If you’re having trouble prioritizing your work, consult your supervisor to gain a little perspective. Ask which project you need to complete first, second, and last. That way, you’ll feel more confident that you’re not wasting time on something that’s not as significant as another item.
  6. Sort your mail: Lifeorganizers.com: suggests pre-sorting your mail in "To-File," "To-Read," and "To-Contact" categories. Tackle the contact pile first. Take the "To-Read" with you to doctor’s appointments or other meetings where you might have to wait around.
  7. The Printable CEO: Freelancer David Seah has created the Printable CEO series, which includes task tracking and time tracking tools and calendars. Stay motivated with these resources and watch our productivity soar.
  8. Learn to say No: Lifeorganizers.com maintains that learning to say no is an effective method for prioritizing your duties. Within reason, remembering that "saying "No" sometimes is the only way you can "Yes" to what you really value."
  9. Tackle assignments that worry your first: It may be in our nature to put off assignments that worry us or fill us with dread, but TimeManagement.info suggests that "if you have a task that is weighing heavily on your mind, you may not be able to accomplish much until you complete it. When you prioritize, be sure to put these tasks near the top of your list."
  10. Keep a calendar: Whether it’s a wall calendar in your cubicle, a planner you tote everwhere, or an online calendar like Spongecell, calendars will keep you aware of looming deadlines. Seeing the order in which your projects are due will naturally help you prioritize better.
  11. Prioritize by location: This article logically deduces that "if your daily tasks involve traveling, then it is only right to prioritize your tasks by location." Don’t waste time and gas driving all over town when "grouping weekly tasks by location can save you a lot of time."
  12. Consider people constraints: Adam McFarland, writer for ezinearticles.com, advises organizing your priorities by evaluating people constraings. For example: "if you know that your manager can’t finish his proposal without your part, that’s more important than the thing that you always do on Wednesday that could just as well be done on Thursday."
  13. Remember the Milk: Use this free, attractive online to do list to help you keep track of all your priorities.
  14. Document your use of time: The Harvard Manage Mentor has a plan for documenting your use of time in order to expertly gauge and amend your work ethic.
  15. Create a short to do list for the following day: Right before you leave the office at the end of the day, create a very short to do list of items that MUST be completed the next day. When you walk in the following morning, you’ll be able to remember where to pick up exactly where you left off.

Internet Shortcuts: Firefox

These shortcuts will cut back on needless clicking and excessive research time. Most of the following tips are for the browser Firefox, so go ahead and set up Firefox as your default browser. Firefox tends to run more quickly than Internet Explorer, regardless of the type of connection you have.

  1. Ctrl-D: Bookmark a page with this simple two-touch application.
  2. Ctrl-T: Ctrl-T opens up a new tab instead of a whole new window. You can easily jump back and forth between tabs without worrying about slowing your computer down.
  3. Use the Spacebar to scroll down the page: If you’re wanting to skip several spaces down a Web page, tap the spacebar to find what you’re looking for super fast.
  4. Increase or Decrease text size: You can easily alter the text size by pressing Ctrl+ to make it larger or Ctrl- to make it smaller.
  5. Alt-Home: Alt-Home will bring you directly back to the home page without having to click back a hundred times or remember the Web address. If you’ve set Google as your default home page, you can get back to your search ASAP.
  6. Modified Tab Browsing: Custom design your Firefox settings with this tip from CNET. The "preferences allow you to control how tabs respond to certain types of events, "giving you total control over how your Internet operates.
  7. Ctrl-P: You probably knew that Ctrl-P allows you to print on command if you’re logged into Word or Excel, but this super time saver is also a direct print action in Firefox.
  8. Alt: This one key command highlights the File bar on your menu. Click the arrows to navigate across the list.
  9. End: If you search for contacts or company information on the Web on a regular basis, you probably know that the bottom of the page is the first place you should check. Hitting End on your keyboard will take you right to the bottom of page without having to go to your mouse.
  10. Greasemonkey: Customize "the way Web pages look and function" to save you a whole lot of time and energy reconfiguring your browser each time you get online.
  11. Ctrl-S: No matter where your mouse hovers on the open Web site, hitting Ctrl-S will prompt you to save the page in your documents file.
  12. Narrow your search: Narrow down your search just enough to eliminate completely irrelevant hits. Include a location, date, or publication to accompany the principle keyword. Don’t, however, hinder your search by adding tiny little details that will limit your results.
  13. Just Google it: If you haven’t caught on by now, Googling something or someone is the fastest way to gain information. Don’t waste time with MSN or any other search engines.
  14. Make sure your source is a reliable one: Sites that end in .com, .edu or .gov are generally suitable sources. There are, however, a lot of shady sites on the Web, so to save yourself from re-writing a fraudulent article or proposal, make sure you can verify your source.

Helpful Hacks for Connecting With Clients and Colleagues

These communication time savers will help you nurture your relationships with clients and coworkers without neglecting your other duties.

  1. Constantly check in with clients: Whether it’s a simple e-mail once a week or a quick phone call every few days, constantly checking in with your clients will actually save you time over the long run. Handling little tasks as they come up means that you won’t have to deal with huge problem later on because you weren’t attentive enough.
  2. Consider chatting online: AIM has long been popular with kids and college students, but it’s also acceptable for connecting with clients and work colleagues. Sending a quick instant message is even faster than e-mail, so what’s holding you back?
  3. Schedule low priority meetings towards the end of the day: Early morning meetings are only a smart idea if you’re trying to review for a presentation later that day, or if both parties have appointments directly following your timeslot. Otherwise, it’s too easy to let the meeting needlessly drone on and on, wasting your time. Schedule low priority meetings in the late afternoon: no one is going to want to sit around and chat when they could be on their way home.
  4. Hire a secretary. This tip may sound more like a hit to your overall profits than a time saving hack, but hiring a secretary or receptionist to screen your calls will keep you away from telemarketers, co-dependent colleagues, and even your clingy, unemployed brother-in-law.
  5. Download Highrise: This free CRM tool lets you easily keep track of client communication history, so that you always know "who said what when!"
  6. Send out project updates often: By contacting your client with a simple project update once a week, you’ll automatically cut down on the number of times they call you. ProjectStat.us lets you sign up for a free account and post your progress on any number on assignments. Invite clients to check in through this program, instead of dropping by your office or picking up the phone.
  7. Consider hosting a forum on your Web site. You can limit the users who participate in each forum. For example, only allow the client, the vendor, and a select group from your own office participate. You want to encourage discussion, but you also need to respect confidentiality agreements.
  8. E-mail to-do lists to your employees: Instead of meeting with each one of your employees each day, e-mail them with short to-do lists. They can ask questions if they need more guidance, but spending your entire day delegating won’t help you get any of your work done.
  9. Invest in a mobile e-mail device: An all-in-one phone, text, and e-mail device like a BlackBerry or the iPhone will keep you connected all the time. Catching up on your e-mails while you wait at the dentist’s office will save you major time once you get back to the office.
  10. Maintain an office message board and calendar: Post important functions, funraisers, universal office deadlines, employee birthdays, and other items that affect your entire office on a centrally located message board or calendar. Encourage everyone else in the office to check it each day and contribute to it if appropriate. This will save you from passing out flyers, typing up e-mail updates, or walking around the office repeating the same message to every employee.
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