Beach Reads for a Business Owner

In one week, I’ll be at the beach. My out of the office message will be set on my e-mail, but like many business owners, my mind will be still very much focused on my passion — building my business. So in addition to sunscreen and sandals, I’ll be packing a stack of books that I’m hoping will inspire me. Here’s what I’ve picked, and why. Have tips for others? Leave them in the comments below. Happy reading!

Rework
by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson

No venture capital. That’s how 37Signals has built their business, and it’s how we plan on building ours. We’re already avid readers of the 37Signals blog, and use this humbled-beginnings software company as a beacon for where we want to go.


Do More Great Work.
by Michael Bungay Stanier

This was a recommendation when I purchased Rework, but the subtitle got me — “Stop the busywork, and start the work that matters.” Having just come back from my corporate-world stint, I haven’t quite shaken the busywork bug. I feel compelled to be doing something all the time, almost like I have  a looming mid-year review over my shoulder. I’m hoping this book will give me ideas of taking control over my own schedule, and to, well, do more great work.


Making Ideas Happen
by Scott Belsky

When I freelanced, it was simple. If something needed to get done, I did it. In corporate, the team was so big that I knew my myopic role and did just that. But now, we have a small team, and a long list of things we want to do. I’ll be looking to this book for ways to get our ideas off of our index cards and into the hands of our customers.


The Official Scrabble® Brand Word-Finder
by Robert Schachner

One of the first things I do every morning is play a game of Scrabble on my iPhone. I find it’s a great way for me to wean in the day (I’m naturally a night-owl). Lately, I can beat the Normal setting without a challenge, but I’m stuck when it comes to Hard. I plan on using this study guide to beef up my Scrabble skills not only for my own enjoyment, but to ensure that I win at family game night (I have a slight competitive side, too.)


Ladies First: History’s Greatest Female Trailblazers, Winners, and Mavericks
by Lynn Santa Lucia

Stories of others who have risen to a challenge are most inspiring. So what better fodder for dreams than a collection of women who have changed the course of history. From Christine de Pisan, Europe’s first professional female writer, to Dorothy Levitt, the first woman to compete in a motor race in 1903, I can’t wait to read the seventeen mini-biographies and maybe find a piece of myself among them.


Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr Lilian Cheung

Mindful living has had a profound impact on my life. It helps me make better decisions in both business and in life. One aspect of mindfulness is around how we consume our food. Too often, I find myself gobbling down a breakfast bar because I’m running to a meeting. This book, written by one of the world’s preeminent Buddhist authors, shows how you can maintain a healthy weight and attitude simply by paying attention to your food.

Put Your Mind In the Gutter (Or Else Your Clients Will)

Browsing through Reddit today and ran across this post of Worst Business Name Ever with this photo:

kidsexchange1.jpg

Hopefully you see the obvious problem here.

It reminds me of when one of my friends was pregnant. She and her husband were considering names for the baby and this was the conversation:

Wife: What about Regina? It’s my grandmother’s name.
Husband: Nope. She’ll get teased and get called “Vagina” in school.

Every name my friend threw out had to pass her husband’s “what will kids call her” test. Brilliant! Way to think ahead and catch a potential problem early.

Business owners should apply the same test when naming their business. What will clients call you? And put your mind in the gutter before you spend all the time and money on a name that only gets plastered all over the blogosphere as the worst business name ever.

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Andrea Morris is the Chief Idea Officer of Write Ideas Marketing and specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Too Clever For Your Own Good?

ice-cream.jpgMrs. Mogul posts on the following stores that went out of business in what she thinks is due to their poor naming.

Candle Store – The Almost Edible Candle Gourmet Shop

Ice Cream Store – The Marble Slab

Pet Store – Doggy Style

Your business name is the most critical piece of your branding. How do you know if your clever name will be worthless or a winner?

Try test marketing with these short questions (with strangers for best results).

1. What images does this name make you think of?

2. What feeling does this name give you?

3. If you purchased something from this store, who would it be for?

4. What product/service do you think this company offers?

5. What if I told you this company sold _________? What do you think now?

An effective brand is congruent with the company purpose. If you find the answers to these questions out of whack, revise your name until it’s right. There’s a lot at stake – so it’s worth the investment.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com

Professional Millennial: My life in Gen Y

I have a secret…I’m a millennial.

I knew how to operate a computer before I knew how to write. One of my first “real” dates was with someone I met Online. Every research paper I wrote started with an Internet search.

Maybe this explains my ridiculous work ethic, my uncompromising idealism, my unwaivering integrity – it’s a part of my generation.

As Claire Raines explains in her article at generationsatwork.com, Millennials (born between 1980 – 2000) are the

“hottest commodity on the job market since Rosie the Riveter. They’re sociable, optimistic, talented, well-educated, collaborative, open-minded, influential, and achievement-oriented. They’ve always felt sought after, needed, indispensable. They are arriving in the workplace with higher expectations than any generation before them—and they’re so well connected that, if an employer doesn’t match those expectations, they can tell thousands of their cohorts with one click of the mouse.”

And you know what – she’s right. Here’s my story…

In high-school & college I graduated near the top of my class, was in too many extracurriculars to mention, and earned a darned good living working part-time as a telemarketer for an insurance agency.

After college, I entered corporate America and was severely disappointed by the “do-what-I-say-because-I’m-the-boss” attitude that many of my employers exhibited.

Like many Millennials, I job hopped until I found a company that operated with integrity and purpose. Within three months I was the top selling rep in my office. Within eight months I was #3…nationally.

I was wooed away by a company that shall remain nameless and was slotted to earn well over $100,000 a year before I was 26. Because of my ethics and integrity I made a tough choice and walked away because I refused to “sell out.”

Without skipping a beat I started Write Ideas Marketing – which has been profitable from day one. I now get paid to think of ideas that my prior employers not only had at their disposal for free, but actually told me “would never work.” Funny how things work out, isn’t it?

Are you managing a millennial?

If so, I can tell you from personal experience that most of what I’ve read about our generation is true. We are driven, confident and won’t settle for anything less than ideal.

The secret? Keep us challenged. Mentor us. Inspire us to dream bigger. And make things fast-paced. We’re used to instant gratification and find it hard to “wait in line” or deal with bureaucracy. If you don’t, you may see your top talent walk right out your door.

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Andrea Morris is a marketing coach who specializes in helping visionaries, entrepreneurs, consultants and small businesses use high-ROI strategies to get the right message to the right people. For more information, please visit writeideasmarketing.com