They (Probably) Won’t Steal Your Secrets

Buffer values
The company Buffer values transparency: see the complete slide deck below

What’s your secret? Every business has secrets. These days however, rather than keeping them locked in the vault, you may want to share them.

TNW shared this:

“There are two rules to success:

Never tell everything you know.”

Roger H. Lincoln

Does that apply today?

Some companies are wary of sharing too much information, particularly with their writers. We could go trotting off to their competitors, runs the theory, and SELL their secrets.

Um… no. You’re giving us credit for an entrepreneurial spirit we don’t have. We don’t care about your secrets. We just want to do a good job of the piece of writing we’re creating for you. Pinky swear.

Writers are paranoid too. It’s a struggle to convince some of my writing students to blog, or to send detailed queries to magazines and websites. They think someone will steal their ideas.

What if you shared some of your secrets? What would happen?

Share more

I admire Buffer, a social media company which has a culture of transparency:

People don’t mind going public with their sleep habits?

No, and that might be because we’ve been unusually open in other ways. For example, something that was definitely very scary for us to do was make all salaries public within the company. We created a formula for how salaries are calculated and added it to our Wiki page for everyone on the team to see.

(See the slide deck on Buffer’s culture below.)

We share with our friends. So, if you share more, you’ll make more friends.

End Email Stress Forever: You CAN Have an Empty Inbox

Email

Is your email Inbox driving you crazy? I know it’s a real challenge for many people, and if it is for you, it’s worth taking a little time now, so you can enjoy an empty Inbox every day.

Try one of the strategies mentioned in Joe Kissell’s article,TidBITS: It’s Not Email That’s Broken, It’s You. He links to several excellent strategies, and says :

“So, even though I’m extremely fond of my own system, and even though I have strong feelings about some common habits (I truly can’t bear the idea of using one’s inbox as a to do list), I’m not trying to prescribe a particular approach to email.”

I’ve got my own strategy, and it’s simple. I’m with Lady MacBeth: Out, damn’d spot! out, I say! I keep my Inbox EMPTY. It would drive me crazy to have thousands of messages in my Inbox…

Batch-process your Inbox

Here’s a good rule for Inbox management: only do what only you can do.

That is, let someone else handle the “stuff”. Hire a virtual assistant to manage your Inbox. You can hire one on Craigslist, or on any of the outsourcing sites. Yes, you’ll need to spend an hour or two training your assistant. (Tip: create several training videos using Jing.) Once that’s done. you may get a few calls over the course of a week about messages your assistant isn’t sure of, but after a few short weeks, you’ll be well on the way to email nirvana… :-)

Once you’ve weeded out the messages someone else can handle, there’s a quick solution to the rest: batch-process your messages a couple of times a day. Keep your email closed the rest of the time, so you can focus.

Create folders in your chosen email client: Ideas, Review, Read… Your folders must make sense to you, no one else. It will take a few weeks to find a folder structure which is perfect, so be prepared to tinker.

Once that’s done, get your task and calendar apps ready to handle tasks which develop from your email. I use Things; I drag message into Things, so I can process the tasks.

You CAN have an empty Inbox. Once you’re used to an empty Inbox, you won’t want it any other way.

And if you’re stuck with 7,000 messages — delete them ALL. Yes, delete them. If there’s anything important you missed, you’ll find out about it. Start out fresh, and implement a system which ensures that your Inbox’s normal state is empty. You’ll feel much better, and you’ll get more done.

Memories Coaching Workshop

NEW: Memories — Writing and Selling Your Life Stories (coaching workshop)

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Business Disaster: Choosing a Trademarked Name — OUCH

Leica

If you own an online business — especially if you own an info products business — you think about names. You choose names for products, services, and campaigns; it’s so common that you do it without thinking.

Lack of foresight leads to disaster.

It’s well worth reading this article, Simple 5-10 Minute Task That Could Save You Hours – Learn From My Mistake! – Productive & Organized, to discover what a hassle it is when you infringe on someone else’s intellectual property:

“Why We Had To Change -> Trademark Infringement
You see, part of our program name was trademarked.  Not the entire name, just part of it.  The trademark owner contacted our office and suggested that we remove the site, directory listings and any other public reference we had to their trademark because we were infringing on their rights.”

Be suspicious when you’re inspired with the “perfect” name

Unknowingly (even if you’ve done searches) you can infringe on others’ marks and IP. If it happens to you, don’t feel bad. It’s easily done.

And yes, it’s happened to me. Around a decade ago I created a program, and did a couple of searches which turned up nothing… A couple of days after the launch I received an irate email message. Someone else was using the name, and had been using it for a couple of years.

Of course I was happy to take my medicine and rename my program. I couldn’t do anything else.

So these days, whenever I think of the “perfect” name for something, I’m immediately suspicious. I search immediately for anything that’s similar. I figure that if the name’s that perfect, someone else is probably using it already.

It’s horribly easy to make this particular mistake. Don’t make it. Steer clear of trademarks, and any which is close to anything that someone else is using.

Your Website: Should You Post Your Rates?

price list.jpg

I’ve had several queries this week about whether or not you should post your rates/ fees/ pricing on your website.

The answer? It depends on what you’re selling, what the demand for your product/ service is, what market you’re in, whether that market is B2B, or B2C, the length of the sales cycle, and much more.

As a general rule of thumb, if you’re getting too many tyre-kicker queries, you may want to post your rates on your site. You’re letting your prospects disqualify themselves, if they can’t afford you. Of course, you’ll be missing out on those who will buy, once they see the value that you provide.

Unfortunately, there’s no blanket, one-answer-fits-all solution to this one.

If you’re paying for traffic, you can do split tests, and you should. Send half your traffic to a page with your rates listed prominently, and half to a page which doesn’t mention your rates.

If you’re undecided, create a mailing list, so that prospects need to sign up to receive more information on what you provide, as well as your price list.

Mailing lists are always useful.

Beyond the obvious, which is promoting your offers, you can use mailing lists to:

* Survey your customers and prospects — create your own focus groups;

* Educate your customers and prospects on your industry;

* Create a buzz around new offerings;

* Increase sales with special offers, and subscriber-only offers;

* Etc.

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