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  2. 2. Is your business card costing you business? By Ruby Bloom/Joe Startup April 2008 – Ezine Articles Your business card is the most practical and personal tool to promote your product or service. Here are 15 unspoken ways your business card can hurt your business. 1. DIY business cards. Perforated edges, thin card stock and ink that bleeds say "amateur" before your card is even read. Invest in professional printing and have your business taken more seriously. 2. Unique card stock. Cards made of plastic, highly-textured materials and other unique materials are eye-catching, but if they are oversized or you can't write on them, that cool card may be discarded. 3. Colour selection. Too many colours with too much contrast overwhelms your information. Choose colours that harmonize and are appropriate to your industry. 4. Font uses. Too many fonts styles, sizes and formats take away from a professional image. Try to limit your fonts to no more than two for a polished look. 5. Typing errors. Spelling errors imply you don't pay attention to details! Have someone proofread your card - and test your email and phone number too! You may have looked at it too often to notice errors. 6. Irrelevant images. If the image doesn't connect with your client, convey an attribute of your service, or have some relevance to you or your business name, it's time to change it! 7. Cluttered info. Too much information takes the eye everywhere and nowhere at once. Use an attractive, flowing layout with "white" space for a greater impact. 8. Missing tagline. A benefit statement captures your offer and distinguishes you from your competitors. Give people a reason to choose you over all the others! 9. Business type is unclear. Unique business names are great for branding, but a business card without a description of your services, industry or tagline, your company may be forgotten. 10. Multiple businesses on one card. It's great that you design websites AND manage investments, but having both on the same card can discredit you. Invest in your livelihood and create separate business cards. 11. Missing email address. Even if you aren't web savvy, some of your best clients might be! Make it as convenient as possible for everyone to contact you.
  3. 3. 12. Written info. Manually updating your card with a pen or label is convenient for you, but implies you take short cuts in your business! Instead, request their contact info and send a fresh one by mail - and throw in a brochure as well. 13. Recycling cards. Saying "Ignore what I wrote - I no longer need it" doesn't make anyone feel special! Everyone you meet deserves a clean card. 14. Stained or dog-eared condition. If your wallet is stuffed out of shape, keep your cards pristine in a business card holder. Take pride in your business! 15. Nothing of value to the recipient. Referring to a free article, a list of benefits or some useful tips on the back of your card encourages people to make that first call. Details stand out more than you think! Just like a sharp suit and clean shoes, your business card should convey a positive image. Use these tips to create a card as professional as you are!
  4. 4. How to Escape “Must-opia” When Starting Your Business By Ruby Bloom/Joe Startup June 2008 – Ezine Article When you're bombarded with well-meaning advice considered "critical" for new start-ups, it's hard to know what will help your bottom line. Here are 10 "musts" that are really "maybe's" when starting your own business. 1. You must have a unique idea. You can be creative without re-inventing the wheel. Try: ◦ a high-end or cheaper version of a current product/service ◦ improving a current product/service ◦ a different spin on a current product/service. One company re-packaged work boots and tool belts to target women - by making them pink! 2. You must have a complete business plan. A brief outline of your services, ideal clients, marketing plan, operations and budget is usually enough for a sole proprietor to get started. 3 - 6 months later you can make changes - which you would do anyway with a completed business plan. 3. You must do everything yourself. You'll probably have more time than money at first, but you can still use both wisely. Find new technology, free resources and/or hire a virtual assistant to dedicate as much time as possible on marketing and billable tasks. 4. You must make cold calls to get clients. If you hate cold calling, don't do it! Out of 50 or more marketing techniques, put enthusiasm into the remaining 49. Focus on your strengths and track the results of the most profitable activities. 5. You must spend 1,000's of dollars designing a logo, business cards and stationery. Start off with more affordable materials that still look professional and allow you to start up quickly. After 6 months you'll be clearer on your services, target market and position in the industry; even your business name may change! Waiting a few months allows you to make a wiser investment. 6. You must advertise where your competitors do. Your competitors already have the advantage of name recognition. As a new business, advertising may turn out to be expensive with low results. Promote your business in unexpected ways to help you stand out from competitors. 7. You must be in business for years to charge the market rate. Large companies can afford to under-cut the market price; small businesses rarely profit with this approach. Start pricing in the mid-range or slightly higher, leveraging the benefits of your smaller size. Putting more emphasis on your value and less on the price builds a better business.
  5. 5. 8. You must offer discounts to get clients. Why cheapen your brand just as your building it? Here are other ways to build clientele: ◦ Offer a bonus as a "limited-time offer" to add value rather than reduce your fees ◦ Do a small free job for a high-profile company. Their testimonial goes a long way in attracting quality clients. ◦ Target a higher end of clientele. They may have a "you-get-what- you-pay-for" mentality that sends them running from low prices. 9. You must offer as many options/services as possible. Just because you can provide 20 different services doesn't mean you should! Go "wide" with one or two services to many industries, or go "deep" with several services to a few industries. Either approach is a great start. 10. You must take every client who approaches you. Prospects who are overly demanding yet ask for discounts, pump you for information yet haven't hired you, or are rude or seem shady aren't worth the trouble. Trust your judgment and pursue clients you can take seriously. Your #1 priority is to prospect for business and provide the best service you can for a profitable rate. Follow advice that works for you and the rest will fall into place!
  6. 6. 8 Signs Your Child is Smarter than you think Written by Ruby Bloom for Excel Educational Group December 2009 Not all challenges in school are academic. There could be avoidance issues, internal/external distractions, different learning styles or unresolved issues that hamper your child's success. Regardless of their current level at school, they may not be reaching their highest potential. Here are a few signs to watch for: 1) Reports below the Ministry standard Academic struggles - poor achievement on any evaluations (i.e. tests, assignments, projects) are 2 levels below the ministry standard (Level 3 or a B) 2) They put off completing assignments Many kids dislike homework, but how do you know if they are putting it off because they feel they can't do it? It's hard to tell without investigating further. Your child may not be completing homework assignments or studying because they don't comprehend the lesson, and the avoidance is just making it worse. Make sure your child is equipped with the right tools to tackle their assignments year round and beyond. 3) Behavioral reports from school Behaviour referrals from school (teachers) in class(es) that the student is struggling in. Behaviours manifest because of students lack of understanding of the curriculum content and material being presented. They become disruptive and troublesome in the class and tend to bring other students into it as well. this may manifest in continuous office referrals and phone calls home.
  7. 7. 4) They respond well one-on-one Large classroom sizes, study groups or tutoring "classes" can make it difficult for your child to get the attention they deserve. Even one setback in part of the curriculum limits their progress for the entire term and discourages them from trying. Children that respond well in private sessions have their mistakes corrected immediately and the reassurance that someone is there to guide and support them. 5) Blaming the teacher for their marks Believing the "teacher does not like them" is one way a child may confuse the true reason's why their marks are suffering. This is a sign to look beyond the personal remarks and get help to work through the main issues that slow down their progress. 6) Lying about attendance/Skipping class Ongoing truancy issues and concerns where the student does not participate int he class any longer and does not "buy in" to the program 7) They see themselves as a failure Childhood is wrought with hurdles; even one challenge can seem insurmountable to a child. When they see themselves as a failure they see everything else through this lens of disappointment. Identifying areas that can be improved is a major step towards building their self-esteem, which in-turn helps them excel in school. As a parent or teacher, take the opportunity to help. 8) They excel in areas they're interested in Children are very much like adults - whatever they love they do well in, and do well in whatever they love. Your child can dismantle and re-build the VCR, recite Shakespeare or follow a map like an expert, yet refuse to open their math book. It's not about pushing them to be experts in everything - it's ensuring that they're competent enough to compete with their peers. Often it's not the subject or your child that's the problem - it's the approach. Is hiring a tutor really a luxury? Failing to address the symptoms when they arise only creates more struggles in the next grade, the next school or the next job. Addressing internal/external distractions, approaching learning creatively and providing a strong foundation for learning are some of the many ways Excel Education Group can release your child's potential.
  8. 8. With the right guidance from our experienced, personable tutors, we can take them to the next level - and give them tools to keep them there. Invest in their future and call us today at 416-274-9494. Help them down their own road to success! Positive Relationships - Positive Attitude - Positive Change