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Commit To It Or Lose It Forever

ID31140737 © Tim Hester | Dreamstime.com

I recently read a quote attributed to novelist Will Self that reads “Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.” I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Self, having suffered through recall of ideas I thought I would remember. If you are an individual with a voracious aptitude for generating ideas, consider starting an idea journal. It may be an idea on how to prepare a meal better, to improve a process, for a business product, starting a business or writing a short story or novel. There is no limit to the number and types of ideas that you generate. Some will be zany, some will be brilliant, some half-baked; it doesn’t really matter as long as you capture the moment for yourself. For 2016, my mantra is “freeing ideas onto paper,” and here are three reasons I encourage you to do the same:

Brainstorm at your pace. In most instances, journal writing is a daily practice. But let’s be real, ideas and thoughts shouldn’t be forced but more organic and intuitive born. When you journal ideas, you have the ability to brainstorm and more fully develop the idea as you think through it over time. Having an idea journal allows you the convenience to revisit your thoughts and make revisions or move in a completely different direction.

May inspire future action. Timing is everything. Just because an idea manifests into your consciousness doesn’t mean that it’s time to take immediate action (or take action at all). However, if write it down, it may be the catalyst you need when the opportunity presents itself for you to act.

Shows the power of potential. When life takes a turn, it can be challenging to find your bearing. With a bevy of written ideas, it can serve as a go-to source and reminder of potential for past creativity and inventiveness to give you that boost you need to continue moving forward.

Now that you realize there is value in writing your ideas through a journal process, the next step is to take action. There are many ways that you can journal, you can write it in a physical or online journal (my favorite is a journal book), audio record, or videotape yourself. All of these options can be found using pre-installed apps on your smartphone, like Notes, Voice Recorder, and Camera video feature. And if you audio record or video tape, consider hiring a transcriptionist to turn your verbal thoughts into words onto paper.

The point is to pick what works best for your lifestyle and just begin. The best way that you can endeavor to free your ideas and own your magnificence is to begin somewhere other than your memory, and what better way than in your own written words.

Using Gmail’s Email Template feature – It’s FREE

©Aldorado10 | Dreamstime.com - At Or Email Button

©Aldorado10 | Dreamstime.com – At Or Email Button

Efficiency and effectiveness are key strategies for entrepreneurs and small business owners. There is little time, often tight financial resources, but lots to get done.  That is why when working recently with a real estate business owner to manage client communication, I sought out a way to use Gmail more effectively for initial communications, and wanted to pass along for those still building their lists and not using CRM or auto responder systems, as of yet.

If you are initially responding to your clients with the same message, why not set up Gmail email template. This will save you time from looking for an old response and doing a copy and paste each time.  It is very simple to do; took me less than five minutes and became a great time saver.  And the even better thing about this is its absolutely FREE.

So here are the steps.

1.  Open your Gmail Account.

2.  Access the “Settings” option (looks like a gear symbol in top right left).

3.  Click on the “Labs” option on menu banner.

4. Scroll to “Canned Responses” and select “enable.”

5. Click “Save Changes” at the bottom of the page; Gmail will reload.

6.  Compose a message as you normally would.  However, this time, select “more options” located in the bottom right and click “New canned response” from a drop-down list, and give the response a unique identifier that  you’ll remember.

7. Type (or cut and paste) the text into the email message leaving the “To” field empty.  You can add a Title into the “Subject” field and it should save.

8. Save as a canned response and exit out of message.

9.  To use, click “Compose” and a regular message will appear.  To access the appropriate canned response, go to the menu option identified by an arrow in the bottom right and select “Canned Response” and pick the appropriate response.

Numbers Don’t Lie…The Value of Business Data

Having a solid grasp and understanding of information is a key element for achieving business success. In today’s guest post, Heridev Business Solutions offers insight on the importance of tracking and interpreting business data for the entrepreneur, home-based and small business owners.
© Stevanzz | Dreamstime.com - Business Data Financial Report Print Close Up. Blue Toned. Photo

© Stevanzz | Dreamstime.com – Business Data Financial Report Print Close Up. Blue Toned. Photo

It was 3 pm and Susan’s Sandwich Shop was closed for the day. The staff was gone and the proprietor, Joan, was planning an early departure too to spend the evening with her daughter after whom she named the shop. It was a slow day as there were no throngs of office workers and students lining up for the inexpensive gourmet sandwiches.

As Joan checked off the receipts from the point of sale machine that was leased when she opened the business four years ago, she noticed that something else was also very different. The sales were a quarter of the regular daily intake.

While reviewing the cash and card receipts, Joan wondered if her plan to close all weekend was the right one. So as to soothe that nagging fear, she decided to look at the sales history for the past two years around the Easter and Passover holidays. She also pulled up her bank statements for the same time last year.

Upon viewing the historical data, the proprietor became less worried as it was apparent that the numbers were typical for the shop during those holiday seasons. Whew, what a relief.

Like Joan, many small business owners have invested in technology and software that store a lot of historical data about their business’ sales, purchases and performance. For some of these entrepreneurs, this data can be found in point of sale systems and for others it is in their accounting software. Even the shoeboxes filled with receipts and invoices hold valuable information that, if analyzed, can help the entrepreneur to make better business decisions.

Data Efficiency and Interpretation

What though is the most efficient way to capture information?  Automated systems are able to produce detailed reports quickly which is why Joan was able to see the numbers for a three year period within a few seconds and make the necessary comparisons. Automation also improves efficiency by recording and tracking information about sales, customers, purchases, returns, etc. that, if done manually, would take hours to complete. ZDNet, the business technology news website, opines that obtaining a good point of sales system is a worthwhile investment for small retailers and restaurants.

However, data by itself is of little value to the entrepreneur if it is not interpreted to identify relevant trends and patterns. If she wishes to, Joan can easily identify her best selling items for the past four years. She can also effortlessly know which product is the cash cow for the business based on data from the sales margins report.

The small business magazine Chron argues that it is critical for small businesses to analyze the information that is available to them so that they can use it to react to changes in consumer preferences and adjust their strategies in response to the opportunities and threats that are present in the external environment.

Information is a vital resource for any entrepreneur and technology makes it easy to harness and use the data gathered. So then, what will you do with your business data today?