I call BULLSHIT

Source

Source

Are you as tired of Change Your Life sales pitches as I am?! It’s like insurance quotes – you ask for one and ten appear in your inbox.

And they all have such tempting subjects – “5 Ways to Improve Your Life TODAY” and “Candice, this free ebook will solve all your problems”.  After you’ve read/watched more than one of these, you start to notice a pattern.

Down-in-the-dumps personal story about Sally Everyday or Tommy NiceGuy who had tons of debt and tried lots of self-improvement methods with no luck. Until one day they magically happen upon a miracle cure that changes their awful lives for good! Another 20 – 40 minutes of relatable “I was tired of working so hard and getting nowhere” and “rich people seemed to know something I didn’t”. But they are generously willing to share their valuable secret so that you too can settle your mortgage, drive around in a sports car and travel the world. You could pay thousands for this kind of advice, but if you act now –

You know how that story ends.

My question is, if these people are swimming in cash, then why don’t they just give you the secret? I tell you why – because they wouldn’t be getting rich off thousands of hopeful people who are already in debt up to their eyeballs.

So I call BULLSHIT.

Certainly there are people who know what they are talking about and do have helpful courses. Ramit Sethi for example has promised to have better free information than a lot of paid-for advice.

But as for the rest – shame on you. It’s like promising food to the starving and demanding to be paid in steaks. Or politicians who hand out free shirts and promise change but when they are elected they are as neglectful as ever.

Yes it is horrible to be skeptical in a world full of hope and possibilities, but you only have to watch one YouTube clip on Photoshopping to learn about some of the crap that is served to us every day. Made-up statistics, fake testimonials and hot Russian women who want to date YOU.. and all this before you even leave the house in the morning.

Back to promises from fake gurus: don’t get me wrong, true self-development is one of my favourite subjects. But as with everything, there is good information and there is misinformation.

“Successful People Do These 10 Things Before 7am”, “Do you have the characteristics of a millionaire?” – I’ll tell you what these people aren’t doing – wasting their time reading these stupid articles. All these do is reinforce the ‘us versus them’ lie.

Don’t buy into that nonsense, literally or figuratively. I read a powerful (free) ebook this morning that nailed it on the head. This guy says that he doesn’t read self-help books because they imply that there is something wrong with us and we need to change.

You know what needs to change? These feelings we have of not being good enough, and that successful people are inherently different to us. This is self-defeating bullshit. And no, I don’t mean go around berating yourself for every negative thought you have. That’s like smacking a child who is crying because you just smacked them. It’s just mind stuff. As Eckhart Tolle advocates, just watch these thoughts as they go by. Don’t judge, label or try stop them. You may as well try to change the direction of the wind by waving your hands around.

Pot-of-gold promises aren’t going away any time soon. As long as there are people who want money and others that have money, this industry will stay alive.

If you’re looking for resources that aren’t a crock of bull, I’ll be uploading a list of good reading as soon as I find an appropriate widget.

May the advice you receive always be free and sound x

PS: If I ever find out how to get rich without trying, I’ll let y’all know for free.
PPS: If you want to hear more rants from me with a smattering of design and business-related tips, sign up on the right.

DIY Fridays: Halloween-ify your emails!

Next week is Halloween, so while you’re thinking about what to dress up as, add some creepy character to your emails!

The easiest and best way to do this is to make your very own email signature. It is super easy to do, and can also be adapted for other holidays like Christmas and New Year.

Create a blank canvas

1. Open Publisher (or similar), choose ‘Blank Page Sizes’ and then find ‘Web Sites’ at the top of the page.

email-sig1

 

2. Click on ‘Create custom page size’

email-sig2

 

3. Choose a width and height for your page. 640px by 100px is a good place to start. Double click on the page size you just created.

And decorate!

4. If you want a background colour, draw a rectangle the size of your page and choose a pretty Halloweeny colour. You can also choose an AutoShape and fit it inside your page.

 

5. Find a cool Halloween-themed image to put in your signature. You can insert clipart or look to Google. If you have a coloured background, add ‘png’ to your search to look for things with a transparent background. Here’s mine:

 

email-sig4b

Add a greeting in a spooky font.

 

The important stuff

6. Now you need your logo and contact details. If your logo doesn’t have a clear background, insert another AutoShape with a white background. (Tip: it’s better if you choose ‘No Line’ for all your shapes.)

email-sig5

 

Remember all your relevant contact information. And put some personality in there. People aren’t interested in robots!

 

You’re basically done

7. When you’re done, save (remember to save often during this DIY so you don’t lose any of your hard work). Then Save As and select png (or jpeg) from the drop down menu and save.

 

Tada! Your very own email signature with a spooky flavour.

 

 

When telemarketers call (cue horror music)

Call me a sucker, but I never hang up on telemarketers. It’s their job to do, and it’s a tough one as it is, so they don’t really need you jumping down the phone at them or just being plain old rude.

Usually the worst thing that can happen is you waste two minutes of your time. Then you say “No thank you,” and move on with your life. But sometimes, bad telemarketers happen to good people.

You think it’s never going to happen to you until it does, and then you are trapped. Stuck in what I call The Infinite Telemarketing Loop. Yes, it is as terrifying and confusing as it sounds.

I was minding my own business, having just listened to all the ins and outs of lifestyle insurance when I was asked the question, “Can I sign you up for this?” or something to that affect. Saying no usually marks the end of the conversation, but not on this day! Instead, I was asked “But what if you become disabled?” for the second time and was subjected to the entire script all over again.

Has this happened to anyone else? I was shocked. Lack lustre monologues are one thing, but a disregard for the word no is very bad for business. It reminded me of that Austin Powers movie where he gets the truth out of Will Ferrell’s character by asking him the same question three times. (YouTube it, it’s hilarious.)

My other pet hate is being called repeatedly by the same sales person, who has forgotten they already spoke to you. Two minutes ago. Or yesterday. Or both…

If you sell your own services or products, you are probably awesome at it and don’t make these mistakes. But we must remember this for our websites and for Facebook as well – you don’t want to force things on people. Don’t sell more than you help, don’t fill their newsfeed with adverts and just don’t be annoying in general. Otherwise they might just do the online equivalent of hanging up and (cue horror music) never return…

moving

How Moving House 16 Times Prepared Me For Moving Websites

I hope you are having a wonderfully relaxing Sunday and are feeling inspired for the week ahead!

First, thank you to all my subscribers from my old site. If you would like to join me on the other side, click here and sign up to be on the new list. You will get my ebook – “10 Things Making Your Business Invisible” – for free, just to say thanks. You can unsubscribe whenever you want, I won’t be offended I promise.

Moving 16 times seems like a lot, considering I am only 27. On the plus side, I have lived in four different cities, and I can wrap and pack like nobody’s business.

Moving is always exciting, even though you know you are going to miss your old place. However, if you intend to do it yourself, you also know it is going to be a hell of a job. This is exactly how I felt about moving my website to my own domain.

Sure I could have got someone else to do it, but I wanted to do it myself. (I have always been like this. When I was a kid, I refused any help and put my own bicycle chain back on, thank you very much.) I had done my research, knew why I needed my own domain and had a pretty good idea how to do it. Being told that I should get an IT expert or ‘brother’ to help me only made me more damn determined!

It helps to think of your website as a house. The pages (rooms) are where you store your content (stuff). The menu and submenus (passages), are how you get to your pages (rooms). Everything should be easy to find and in the appropriate place (no fridges in the bathroom, etc).

So, before I kill this metaphor, let’s look at what helps when you are moving domains or creating a website for the first time:

Have a plan of attack

Research what kind of website is going to work for you, and how you are going to do it. What is the structure of your site going to be? How many pages, what is going to go where and so on. This will probably change, but you need a clear vision.

Make a To Do list

Keep adding as you think of new things you have to do. Do you need to contact your service provider to set up a new email? Or take new photos of your team? This will help you with the next step.

Collect and mark content

Get together your logo, promotional material, products, prices, clients, testimonials and whatever else you need. If you group things in well named folders, everything will be easier to find.

Prepare for problems

When it comes to the actual ‘move’, things can and will go wrong. Don’t panic. Make sure you have the contact details for support beforehand. Or else, turn to Google. Also, make sure you allow enough time for all of this, because it will take longer than you think.

Take regular breaks

If you are like me, you will get completely absorbed and continue to fix ‘one more thing’ until you realise how many hours you have been staring at your computer screen. Take breaks to make sure you stay on track, and tackle your To Do list before doing the fine tuning.

Have a final look around

Before you launch your website, look through every page and click each link to make sure it goes to the right place. Also check your contact details are correct.

So if you are planning to tackle your own website, feel free to give me a shout – especially if it’s WordPress! If I can’t help you, I will put you on to someone who can.

Being self employed is a REAL job

Designed by Freepik

Attitudes about self employment need to change. Self employed can refer to freelancers, entrepreneurs, business owners or anyone who works from home.

The self employed are not taken seriously. People seem to think we are “basically unemployed” or just doing some odd jobs until we find something better. The perception is that working for yourself is not as important as working for someone else, at an office where you have a boss.

“Who do you work for? I’m sorry…”

If you are self employed, it is harder to get a loan, many banks won’t even accept your application and forget about getting a home loan. For some financial institutions, you have to work for yourself for five solid years before what you do counts for something.

In career terms, you are seen as a drifter – someone who has opted out of the daily grind for their own amusement.

Undercover No One

The self employed have to work much harder to be considered as “having made it”. Forget about earning the approval of the naysayers until you have achieved Richard Branson-like fame and fortune.

My coffee is better anyway

There are a variety of reasons why people turn to self employment for salvation.

  • Integrity. Some are unhappy at work, either because they are not challenged or it is not ultimately what they want to do. This may seem like a paltry excuse for abandoning a regular paycheque, but feeling fulfilled is an important human need.
  • Security. Strange as it may sound, some leave their jobs for financial security. Nowadays, there is no such thing as being an irreplaceable commodity in the workplace as more and more companies are forced to downsize. You can work for the same company for several years without seeing a permanent contract or the chance of a raise.
  • Flexibility. Moms may decide that rather than going back to work at an office they would rather stay at home where they can spend time with their kids and have more flexible work hours.
  • Opportunity. Many may leave their place of employment for what they see as an amazing business opportunity. The chance to work for yourself and control your own earnings is too tempting for some to pass up.

And then there are those who are forced into self employment because there really are no jobs out there. Even graduates find that they are so-called overqualified for the few vacancies that are out there.

“So are you looking for work as well?”

Being self employed is more than a flight of fancy. Just like everyone else, you have to wake up, get out of bed and get dressed, whether you like it or not. And even if you don’t have to make the commute to work, you do have to wade through boring emails, make phone calls and work, just like everybody else. And if there aren’t enough hours in the day, the self employed do not get paid extra for overtime.

If you work for yourself, you are much more likely to use a more diverse set of skills. You have to be the employee and the boss. If you don’t outsource these tasks, you also have to be your own marketer, designer, accountant and IT specialist. You have overheads, just like any other business. And you have to make enough to pay your employee(s) and you have to wake up and do it all again tomorrow. How well you do is directly proportional to how much effort you put in. If you work for someone else, extra effort is not rewarded and learning new skills is met with ever increasing responsibilities and a salary that stays exactly the same.

The self employed also have to be more disciplined. When you work from home there is no boss to look over your shoulder and catch you playing Solitaire or perusing Facebook. There is also a lot of pressure to put out very high quality work as it is your reputation on the line, and there is no one else to check your work or pick up on any mistakes.

The pros and cons

What about happiness? Have you ever heard someone say they hate working for themselves? Yes there are downsides, some of which have already been mentioned. Another negative is the social aspect. There is no water-cooler to hang around and no office gossip to indulge in. No one makes your coffee or cleans your keyboard or asks how your weekend was. But there are other places to socialise without cubicles.

Being self employed is challenging, time consuming and far from a walk in the park. It is also eye-opening, humbling and completely inspiring. If you are self employed, you take pride in yourself and in your work.

Plus we worked hard to get where we are, wherever that may be.

There are a lot of good reasons not to do something. Fear is not one of them.

 

 

Does Your Business Stand Out in a Crowd?

Designed by Freepik
Designed by Freepik

Forget complicated marketing strategies. If you ever feel like you’re in over your head, remember it all comes down to one thing – visibility.

People need to see what your business is all about without having to work hard for it. No one can concentrate for more than three seconds any more so you have to get your message out there before a beeping phone or floating thought distracts your audience. (I use ‘audience’ and not client or customer as the purpose here is not to sell but to communicate.)

Hello… is it me you’re looking for?

In years gone by you could get away with a sign outside your shop and an advert in the local paper, but this is not the case anymore. With our technology-obsessed culture, an online presence has progressed from a novelty to a necessity. “If you can’t Google it, it doesn’t exist”. Sad but true.

However there is more to it than that. Ask yourself the following questions about your business:

  • Does my logo communicate what we do?
  • Is my logo used consistently?
  • Can others find my business through social media?
  • Is my business ‘Googleable’?
  • Is it easy for others to contact my business?

I will be answering these questions in detail in my upcoming ebook which will be free to download, so follow this blog* if you don’t want to miss out.

What businesses want

In the meantime, consider what you want to achieve. Set out goals so that you can measure the strides your business has made. Have you been meaning to update your website? Do you want to update some details on your Facebook page but haven’t got around to it? Don’t worry about tackling everything today. Space out your goals and seek help if you need it. Talk to others that are in business or contact a professional if you need expert advice on some part of your plan.

Remember that your ultimate objective is to stand out from the crowd, and that the only way to do that is a whole bunch of little steps.

 

*To follow our blog, click the ‘+’ at the bottom of the page to open the media tab. Here you will find the “Follow” button.


 

CB Designs provides a range of services including logo design, personalised stationery designs and also offers affordable self management websites
Visit our portfolio or have a look at our competitive prices.

When Cheapest isn’t the Best Deal

Source
Source

Everyone loves a bargain. Why pay R300 for a pair of jeans when you can get them somewhere else for half the price?

Here’s a reason: the next day, you drop your keys at lunch and when you bend down to pick them up, the seat of your pants rips for all to see. How lovely.

You get what you pay for

Now I’m not knocking reasonably-priced clothes or debating the price of a good pair of jeans. My tirade is inspired after I was undercut for a graphic design job by R200.

Technology is wonderful. Thanks to Skype and the internet in general, you can talk to people from all over the world. You can promote yourself throughout your own country and overseas. A whole world of opportunity is available to you. Working in South Africa is great because we can accommodate smaller budgets and promise fantastic savings to other parts of the world.

However, all is not gold and cotton candy. While we can offer better prices without cutting off our own noses, so can countries like India, Pakistan and Brazil.  And even though there are millions of opportunities for hard working individuals and firms, there are so many more competitors.

You may have the edge in your own way, but this isn’t always so easy to communicate via a few images and cleverly written proposals. And no doubt, a ridiculously low price may seem too good to be true. Chances are; it is.

Lowering the bar

I chose English over Economics at university so my grasp of this is superficial. However, I do know that if too many bakeries undercharge for their cupcakes, others will have to follow suit so as not to lose business. Soon, the drop in the price of cupcakes will mean the bakeries have to close their doors because they can no longer keep up with the low prices and cover their overheads. Now everybody loses out, and even worse – no cupcakes.

Extremely trivialised but you get my point. Sure we can all do our best to offer quality services at reasonable prices, but prospective clients have a responsibility too.  Yes you have a business to run and you understand more than anyone how far a Rand (or a Dollar) needs to stretch. However, consistently choosing the cheapest option regardless of what is on offer, can be detrimental to everyone. Creatives will starve, competition will drop and quality will be hard to find.

Hope is out there

Business owners and service providers are in the same boat. We need each other. And this is why I have some advice for both.

Advice for service providers/freelancers/creatives or any sort:

  • Never give up
    You have a gift to give. No matter what you do, not everyone can do what you do. Times will change and things will be tough and there will always be a demand for your skills or services.
  • Don’t compromise of quality
    It might be frustrating but never let the quality of your work suffer in order to compete with others. If your competitors are unable to provide this, you have the upper hand.
  • You can’t buy a good reputation 
    While the demand for your work may fluctuate, if you consistently do your best then your reputation will not suffer. This is a case in point for the old adage – “your work speaks for you”

Advice for business owners/entrepreneurs/buyers:

  • Don’t be blinded by the best ‘deal’
    Even though it looks like a bargain at first glance, it may not be. Ask about their policy regarding changes, look at other work they have done and ask for testimonials. You may find they have been unwillingly to cooperate with other clients in the past.
  • Try not to choose the cheapest price, on principal
    If you have list of possible providers to choose from and one is much cheaper than the rest, it might be worth giving them a skip in the long run. Even if all seems alright, think about the other providers. What would you expect to pay for this service? Besides, many businesses will be willing to negotiate a better price with loyal clients.

Bottom line: cheap cupcakes are not good for anyone.

BIG Logo Ideas for Small Businesses

What’s this?

A short informative slideshow for businesses looking to create or update their logo.

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Kat Cole: From waitress at Hooters to president of Cinnabon

Kate Cole in an interview with CBS News  [Source: www.businessinsider.com]
Kate Cole in an interview with CBS News
[Source: www.businessinsider.com]
Meet Kat Cole. She started working as a waitress at Hooters at the age of 15 to help her divorced mom pay the bills. At the age of 32, she became the president of American baked goods chain Cinnabon.

Her job at Hooters was already her second. Her mother was raising her and her two siblings on an administrative support-role salary, so Kat helped out by working while she wasn’t at school.

She took opportunities as they arose.

“When the cook quit, I learned how to run the kitchen, and when the manager quit, I learned how to run a shift,” she said in an interview with Forbes.

After Kat finished school, she started studying at the University of North Florida with the intention of getting a degree in engineering and then go to law school. At the age of 19, she was asked to open the first Hooters in Australia.

“I’d never been on a plane. I didn’t even have a passport. I realized that in Miami you could get a passport in one day, so I flew to Miami, got a passport and flew to Australia the next day,” she told Forbes.

After 40 days in Sydney she returned to the United States and 10 days later she was asked to open the first restaurant in Central America, and then in South America, Asia, Africa and Canada.

By 20 she had opened the first Hooters on most continents outside the United States and did not have time for her studies, so she quit and became the head of Hooters corporate training.

At 26 she became the vice president of Hooters. Three years later she was advised to start studying again. So without a bachelor’s degree to her name, Kat applied for the executive MBA program at Georgia State. She took the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), went through a lot of interviews and got letters of recommendation from every CEO she knew. She was accepted and attended classes nights and weekends for two years. Two months before she graduated, she started working at Cinnabon.

She had met Cinnabon’s current CEO Russ Umphenour and was asked to lead the company’s liquidation at the time.

Four years ago, Kat was made president of Cinnabon which last year had over a thousand stores in 56 countries.

Attitude seems to be the key to Kat’s success. Just because things aren’t worse, don’t be afraid to make them better, she says. Helping others is also very important to Kat.

“When you do the right things for the right reasons, it always pays you back,” she says.

Sources:
– “A 35-Year-Old Former Hooters Waitress Now Runs A $1 Billion Company” by Ashley Lutz, Business Insider, 30/09/2013 [http://www.businessinsider.com/cinnabon-president-kat-coles-biography-2013-9#ixzz2z21P6qcz]
– “From Hooters To Hot Buns: How Kat Cole Turned Cinnabon Into A $1 Billion Brand” by Jenna Goudreau, Forbes, 11/27/2012 [http://www.forbes.com/sites/jennagoudreau/2012/11/27/from-hooters-to-hot-buns-how-kat-cole-turned-cinnabon-into-a-1-billion-brand/]
– “How Kat Cole Went from Hooters Girl to President of Cinnabon by Age 32” by Catherine Clifford, Entrepreneur, 19/08/2013 [http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/227970]