The Art of Bartering

Bartering is an age old solution for people to get what they need, but also offer something of value in return. When bartering is effective, two sets of people are pleased with what they receive and are equally as pleased to offer their goods.
In business, bartering is one of the quickest ways to make solid connections, build relationships and decrease your expenditures. A business can barter services, products or even time– all depending on what its needs are.

Solid bartering relationships are based on two key factors. First, you should only barter for things you actually want or need. And secondly, the exchanges should be of equal value and importance. Thus, bartering a vacation to Europe for a year’s worth of basic office supplies may not be a favorable barter.
Here are a few strategies for creating a solid bartering strategy:
1. Know what your needs and wants are— Create a list of your regular business needs and wants which you wouldn’t mind bartering for. Avoid listing services or items that are critical to your productivity or general success because those things should never be bartered. Instead, list things such as courier services, meeting space or vouchers for entertainment activities that you can pass along to clients. Knowing what your business can actually benefit from allows you to make better decisions on whether or not to accept a barter proposal.
2. Understand the real value of your barter— When you’re entering into a barter agreement, one of the most important things to consider is the value of the services or products rendered or received. It’s very easy to assign a price to an item, but it doesn’t make it of value to you or the other bartering party. Know the value of the exchange. Will bartering this item save you time or money? Will it create better opportunities? Will it improve a situation? These are things you should give hefty evaluation to before entering into a bartering agreement.
3. State your contingency plan— It’s dreadful when you’ve entered into a bartering agreement and the other party doesn’t fulfill their role–especially when you’ve fulfilled yours. Make the other person aware of the contingency of your bartering agreement with clear outputs for each party. Perhaps you’d state that for every 5 restaurant vouchers you receive from the other party, you’d provide 5 hours of event space in your facility. The contingency in this agreement is that 5 hours of space would be scheduled in advance, but can not be confirmed until the vouchers are received at least 48 hours before the event takes place. This contingency option gives both of the parties the option of canceling or rearranging their offerings without compromising the agreement.
4. Keep accurate records--Barter agreements should be treated like a regular payment transaction or business deal. Keep receipts of your activity within the agreement to ensure that both parties are receiving a fair exchange.
5. Put your money where your barter is— If you have a concern with a full barter agreement, consider a partial barter agreement. Offer certain products, services or phases of a project under a barter and then agree to exchange cash for the rest. In this method, neither party overextends their resources, whether it’s time, money, space or otherwise. Just make sure to state those terms at the beginning of the barter agreement and clearly state what is covered under the exchange and when financial payment should be expected.

These are just a few tips on creating a successful barter agreement. For more tips, please contact me. Do you have a few tips of your own? Please share them. I’d like to have your feedback.

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There’s no “I” in Team

 

We’ve heard it all before– there’s no “I” in team. But how should business owners and professionals apply this cliché to their staff? It’s essential to understand that business is about collaboration- whether it’s B2B, B2C or internal. If you can’t create a solid team that is unified with one mission and a strategy to meet it, then how much success can you realistically expect?

Sometimes it seems easier to let one person carry the load or assign a task to one exceptional staffer. However, taking this route not only creates a sense of “favoritism” or isolation, but it also impedes the progress for growth within an organization. Utilizing your staff’s strengths and abilities is a great way to complete projects more accurately, prevent overwhelming your staff members and learn more about who can contribute in a time of need. Although you hire people to fulfill specific roles, allowing them to be a part of a team and work in a different capacity can build morale and open doors to new opportunities for you and your employees. So, although you may be tempted to delegate to one person, or even manage the task on your own, use your team to get the job done.  Here are a few tips on building a team and delegating responsibly:

1) Add variety in your team— A good team should have people that come from different professional backgrounds. This way, everyone can contribute to the team with their own expertise and strengths. Ask each person on your team to list their top strengths and their top weaknesses. Match this information to the requirements of your project to determine which person should handle a specific responsibility.
2) Make collaboration mandatory— If your team doesn’t know that they are required to work together, chances are they just won’t work together. Make it known that each team member is required to pull their own weight, but they’re also required to build project-based relationships with others. Just make sure you find the right balance between being an enforcer and wanting team spirit.  As a courtesy, have an open-door policy for people who don’t want to be a part of the team to feel comfortable expressing why. Their hesitation to play a role in the team’s success could be valid, in which case, re-evaluating a team member’s contribution may be necessary.
3) Create benchmarks for individual members: How will you know if every member is playing their part? Benchmarks! Establish a few deliverables at different intervals of the project that require your team members to prove that they are contributing towards the project’s success. The benchmarks don’t have to be huge, but it should be a recognizable effort or output that shows collaboration and progress.
4) Set rules: The most successful path from Point A to Point B involves adherence to some rules. Projects can get messy. You have egos, and slackers, deadlines, budgets and frustrations. The best way to get through any of this is with rules that promote motivation to get through the project. Create rules that enforce respect and togetherness, but also promote creativity, a comfortable environment, group activities and breaks.
5) Reward the team and the individuals— No matter if the project succeeds or fails, multiple people tried their hardest to get it off of the drawing board and they should be appreciated for their effort. Reward your team with an early dismissal, treat them to lunch, give them awards or something that lets them know that you appreciate their hard work and you would like to work with them again.

These are just a few tips on getting people to collaborate respectively in teams. For more tips, please contact me. Do you have tips of your own? Share them! I’d like to hear your feedback.

Bouncing Back from Rejection

Who knew two little letters could cause so much grief? Hearing the word “no” probably evokes the worst feeling, especially when it comes to a matter that was of extreme value to you. Perhaps you were pitching a new idea to your colleagues, asking for a raise or trying to close a sales deal. Rejection and the accompanying sentiment is enough to make you evaluate your skills, growth and sometimes, even your worth.
It’s important to remember that rejection is an important part of the growth and accomplishment processes. The word “no” provides you with the opportunity to re-evaluate and revise your approach to a situation. It also requires you to hone in on strengths and techniques that you may have overlooked or even dismissed initially. “No is a transitional word that demands that you persevere. Here are some tips to help you bounce back from the word  “no”:

1) “No” is not never— Rejection is temporary. In fact, as much as you were hoping for a “yes”, you only have a 50% shot of getting that answer. Think of it this way, no is not definite. It can also mean, not yet or maybe after a few improvements have been made. Don’t allow those two little letters to deter you from continuously pursuing your target. Who knows?  Your “yes” could simply require one more try.

2) Don’t shoot the messenger— Although the person bearing the bad news is just as discouraging as their negative response, remember, they are still a powerful tool in your success. So reconsider your thoughts about lashing out at them. Instead, ask them to give you feedback on improving your chances for next time. Figure out if they can help you achieve your goals through a stringent evaluation, constructive criticism, successful examples or even a point in the right direction. The messenger may have the information you need in order to get past “no”.

3) Narrow your focus— Sometimes “no” is the result of the wrong approach or the wrong focus. If you’re not completely qualified or capable of handling a task, you may be setting yourself up for failure in the first place. Make sure your target is aligned with your capabilities. As bold as you may be to pursue something out of your reach, you may actually be pushing it further away. Try narrowing your focus with your pitch– no matter what you’re pitching about– this should help you pursue the best opportunities that bring you more positive results.

4) Dust yourself off— Don’t wallow in self-pity. No can be a harsh word, but self-pity can make the sting last longer than it should. After receiving rejection, allow some time for it to settle in, vent appropriately, then dust yourself off and try again. You’re going to face a decent amount of rejection in your lifetime– even with tasks that you thought you were surefire to win.  It’s okay.  Don’t beat yourself up about it. Be willing to give anything you really want another shot.

These are just a few tips on dealing with rejection. For more tips, please contact me. Do you have ideas of your own? Please share them! I’d like to hear your feedback.

You’ve made a BIG mistake!

                                                                            Photo courtesy of thecoolwind.info

Mistakes happen everywhere, but in business, when a mistake happens it can cause system malfunctions, product recalls, brand crises and ultimately revenue decreases. These mistakes cause panic. However, it’s important to remember that mistakes are still a process in the way we learn. If we don’t accidentally do something wrong, how can we ensure to do something right? It is inevitable that a colleague or staff member will make a mistake that costs you time, money or resources. You may become frustrated having to report the mishap to a superior or possibly deal with the consequences on your own. But remember, you’re a part of a team and at one point or another, everyone will have their share of taking the blame or causing the mistake.
No matter the error, there are proper ways to deal with a mistake so that it is treated as a lesson well learned versus a an irreparable flaw. Here are a few tips:
1) Admire before you admonish: Take a moment to tell the person at least one positive thing related to their mistake. After you’ve genuinely discussed their effort and contribution, outline the mistake and what has happened as a result of the mistake. For instance, “Mary, you did a great job enlisting the team on this project. Everyone talked about your enthusiasm and willingness to assist them during this long process. I appreciate your effort. However, the client has stated that you omitted their updated contact information and slogan. As a result, they are asking us to redesign a new campaign in less than 24 hours for free. We have to accommodate this request.”

2) Ask why the mistake may have happened: The best way to revise a strategy is to figure out what went wrong in the first place. Ask questions that don’t directly place blame on a person; uncover their reasoning or oversight instead. The mistake may have been completely out of their control. In which case, fixing the problem may involve other people or resources. For instance, “Mary, would you happen to know why the updated contact information was omitted?” The reason could be because the client sent the information after a critical deadline. This would change the situation drastically.

3) Allow the person to accept the mistake: Most people feel bad when they’ve made a mistake. So don’t rush into scolding them or creating a hostile situation. Let them be forthcoming with information that may not only create a resolution, but helps them deal with the embarrassment, shock or consequences.

4) Allow the person to reject the mistake: Most people who honestly feel they are not at fault for a mistake, will openly reject any association with the blame. Allow them to express what they feel has happened and work with them to discover facts about the situation. If they are not at blame, offer a sincere apology and follow-up with them to let them know the status (not details) of the situation. If they are, in fact, at fault show them how you’ve come to the conclusion.

5) Give them an opportunity to assist with correcting the mistake: Putting someone “in charge” of their mistake allows them to accept responsibility to fix the mistake as well. Pulling from their strengths and understanding of what went wrong, work together to develop a strategy to resolve the issue. Create an open door policy to facilitate feedback and discuss progress or concerns as they work to fix the problem. Don’t forget to congratulate them after the mistake has been successfully corrected.

 

These are just a few tips for dealing with a mistake. For other tips, please contact me. Do you have tips of your own? Share them! I’d like to have your feedback.

A Plan to Succeed

How to develop the ultimate to-do list

Planning is an essential part of getting the most from any task or goal. This is especially true for running a business, charting a professional path or managing a project. Planning, although initially time consuming, allows you to dissect a situation, prepare each step and monitor the growth and development of your goal.
When it comes to planning, the number one strategy is to use a to-do list. A to-do list normally outlines a number of tasks to be achieved in a specified time frame. The great thing about to-do lists is that you can reference them to determine your progress. However, if your list doesn’t provide you with a brief but detailed path to an end-result, you may end up with a dysfunctional course or unreachable goals.
A highly functional to-do list can contain a few elements to keep your momentum going and gage your success with a task. Here are a few tips about creating a meaningful to-do list for your next project, task or schedule:

1) Decide what your ultimate goal is: You can create a bunch of tasks that have no relationship to each other. That’s not a to-do list. That’s a regular list or an act of brainstorming. An effective to-do list should be tied to an objective and should be quantifiable such as “Get 100 registrants to XYZ event” or “Get 5 new clients from my sales presentations”. Defining your end result first will help you create a list of actions that are designed to help you achieve your goal.
2) Time should be of the essence: Every goal is tied to a time frame. Otherwise, you could spend days, weeks or even longer trying to achieve something. Put a time stamp on your goal, but make sure it’s realistic. If your goal is “to get 100 registrants to XYZ event” and you’d like that to happen in 2 hours, is that realistic? If you limit your opportunity to achieve a goal, you’re going to frustrate yourself and determine the goal to be unreachable. That’s counter-effective planning. Give yourself wiggle room, but put a definite (short-term) end to a solution.
3) Gather your materials: You can’t possibly achieve a goal within a specific time frame without having everything you need. Make a list of essential items that aid in getting the task done. If your goal is “To get 100 registrants to the XYZ event in two weeks”, what materials would help you achieve this goal? Materials could include technology, printed items, people, resources, personal items, etc. List only what you absolutely need to get the job done.
4) Figure out your priorities: Some lists can go on and on with action items. Some lists have tasks that can be reserved for later goals. Make sure your list contains action items that are critical elements in achieving your immediate goal.
A trick in establishing a priority item is
a) Can this goal be achieved if I omit this task from my list? (Your answer should be NO)
b) If I don’t start this right now, will it prevent me from reaching my goal? (Your answer should be YES)
c) Can I get this done with a few simple steps or in a short period of time? (Your answer should be YES)
d) Will doing this task free up additional time or resources? (Your answer should be YES)
e) Do I need to wait on other people to get this done?  (Your answer should be NO)
5) Proceed with enthusiasm: Once you have a goal, a time frame, a list of materials and your priorities are in order, you should eagerly pursue your goals. There’s no need for trepidation or wondering if you’ll achieve everything on your list. If you face your tasks with an optimism about achieving the bigger goal, you’ll have all of the momentum needed to accompany a well-planned list.

These are just a few tips on creating the ultimate to-do list. For more tips, please contact me. Have you put these tips to use? Do you have a few tips of your own? Share them! I’d like to hear your feedback.