Stay True to Your Own Path

Since my business launched I have been overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people and businesses that are in the market place. It is easy for time to fly by whilst checking out what is available and what they have to offer. It is also very easy to be taken off our own path because ‘everyone else’ appears to be doing something different, which is apparently much more successful than what we are doing.

There are various approaches which range from blatant manipulation and emotional blackmail to ethical and friendly. It really doesn’t matter what the approach is – each to their own. The important thing is that we don’t let the multitude of options and varying opinions take us away from our own path – the one that is ultimately right for us.

We need to look at what is appropriate for our own life/business. Just because something has worked for someone else, it doesn’t mean that it is applicable to us. We also have to remember that some of these seemingly amazing offers are about as real and true to life as a Photoshopped model.

Just because something isn’t working for us instantly, doesn’t mean that given time and consistency it won’t work eventually. I think it’s important to keep our eyes and ears open to keep ahead of what’s happening in the marketplace, but that it is a good idea not to chop and change strategies in the hope of a quicker return.

I don’t know about you, but I always listen to my intuition and how my body reacts to material that is presented to me. For instance, the approaches for business that leave me cold and heading in the opposite direction are the ones that use emotional blackmail such as the ‘Do you hate me?’ emails which often question why you didn’t take their course/buy their book, and aim to make you feel guilty for neglecting the person who sent it, who’ obviously’ has your best interests at heart. I have received a few of these emails from a variety of marketers so I assume they must work for some people, but they leave me heading for the hills.

The other approach which immediately crosses people off my potential ‘buy from’ list, is the one where the immediate assumption is that I am broken, I need to be fixed and they are the answer to my prayers. I’m not for a minute suggesting that I know everything, because I obviously don’t, but the assumption that they know me without even having a conversation, and that I need help, I find to be insulting to say the least. We never know why someone contacts our business – yes, it maybe for themselves, but it might also be because they are thinking of someone else and searching on their behalf – or we might actually be in the position of helper, not ‘helpee’! It can be business suicide to assume we are in the position of power or superiority.

I do feel that a number of these questionable practices stem from fear and a desperation to sell their products or services by whatever means possible. I think that the multitude of apparent success stories that invade the internet also have a lot to answer for. You only have to look at the before and after pictures relating to some magic diet pill or method. Some person or other has apparently lost 1.5 stone in 2 weeks with images attached – however, in the before photo they look at least 3 stone heavier than the after photo, and there is no guarantee that it is actually the same person. By the time someone has tried out this method, and then found that even if they lost the weight, they regained it all back quickly, they could have stuck with a sensible eating plan and actually have been in better shape. The story of the hare and the tortoise comes to mind!

Another thing that I believe is important is not to get too fixated on the numbers. They can be helpful in some circumstances as long as we don’t start obsessing about why someone ‘unliked’ us on Facebook, or ‘unfollowed’ us on Twitter. They could have made a conscious decision to disconnect because they didn’t resonate with what we posted, or we didn’t follow back, but it could just as well have been because they closed their accounts. We are never going to please everyone, so if we are in a business where we are going to be ‘seen’ – then we have to prepare ourselves for that eventuality. We don’t resonate with everyone, so we shouldn’t be disturbed when everyone doesn’t resonate with us.

We live in such an instant society that many people expect quick results, and anything worthwhile rarely happens like that. I follow a few people whose advice and guidance I find extremely valuable, but none of these people profess to have made it overnight. They have gradually built up their businesses (usually more than one) over the course of a number of years – what I am listening to now is the accumulated knowledge of many years of experience. How valuable would their advice have been to me if they had literally made it into the big time in a month or two? What would they have learnt in that short space of time? What is also apparent is that, though they also had people that they listened to and sought advice from, they ultimately forged their own path. They didn’t try to duplicate anyone else.

This planet is alive with unique human beings – why would any of us wish to be just like someone else? We have our own talents and opinions, based on our individual lives and experiences. We will be much more fulfilled and authentic individuals if we follow our own paths and, by doing that, we will have more to offer the people that come after us in terms of learning and experience, which might assist them in coming to their own unique decisions.

How to Get Corporate Social Responsibility Into the DNA of Your Business

Several years ago, two New York nonprofits decided to partner together and pursue corporate funding. One charity was an educational group that provided scholarship aid to students in the city so that they could attend schools that had a better performance record than the neighborhood public schools. The other organization took students from the same under-resourced communities in New York to spend their summers abroad learning and experiencing other cultures and expanding their minds.

As you know, New York City is the home of Wall Street, and there’s a lot of money that flows from those corporations. The two executive directors did not have any idea if their partnership would work, but they decided to pilot a small program, and their goal was to raise a modest amount.

The two executive directors teamed up and scheduled meetings starting with the board members of the educational scholarship group because they had a premier board of directors that included the captains of industry. The initial visits convinced the executives that they had hit upon something.

The first year was a great success raising much more money than they initially expected, and they were able to provide funding for the travels for double the number of students than originally planned overseas for the summer. The pilot became a partner program between the two nonprofits for many years. The corporate CEOs loved the idea of helping high school students who were living in poverty to have the experience, in a globalized world, to experience foreign countries.

The program became a success and was marketed by the corporate funders and the two nonprofit groups as a successful corporate social responsibility partnership (CSR). The corporations promoted the program both to their employees and also the New York City public as something good they were doing for the students of the city.

Why Corporate Social Responsibility Matters

Most businesses in the U.S. are not the corporate titans of Wall Street or Silicon Valley. However, it still makes sense for any business to get involved in philanthropy and figure out ways to raise their CSR profile.

The digital age has forced unprecedented levels of transparency for businesses. Consumers want to patronize companies that are socially responsible.
According to a study by Cone Communications, nine in ten customers want to purchase products and services from businesses that are socially responsible.
Millennials, which is now the largest generation (and consumer group), is highly attuned to patronizing businesses that are socially responsible.

How To Get Your Business Recognized in Your Community for Its CSR

Any business, large or small can become a CSR leader in their community. All it takes is a little bit of planning, and it will provide dividends by letting your community know that you are a socially responsible group that seeks to partner and make your part of the world better for those who live in the area.

Authenticity Matters: When you’re considering what organizations to support, the first thing you must keep at the top of mind is that we live in a world of authenticity and transparency. The public can quickly sniff out opportunism. Don’t do it. Align yourself and your company with organizations that have similar values or interest you. You should feel passionate about the cause because if you don’t, it’ll show.
Assign a CSR Quarterback: Think about it, when you do any project, you usually assign a point person to spearhead the efforts. The quarterback as the responsibility and accountability for the success of the project. The same thinking goes for implementing a CSR program for your business. Get a volunteer or assign a quarterback within your company to have the responsibility for developing a plan and executing a CSR effort.
Get Your Team Involved: When you’re thinking about how best to approach CSR in your community for your business, get your team involved. Ask their opinions and make it a team effort. If you get your staff participating in the decision-making, they’ll have ownership, and they will be advocates, using their social networks as well, in helping you spread the message about your efforts. Once the decision is made, develop ways for your team to give their time and resources to the company’s cause.
Provide In-Kind: If your small business does not have the financial ability to give money, it can still make an impact donating goods and services. Your marketing team can give of their expertise to nonprofits that are in need of digital marketing expertise. If you run a retail shop, you can open up your business for an event at your location. If a charity is running an auction, you can donate some of your products as items to be auctioned. The sky’s the limit; all you have to do is think creatively.
Make Philanthropy Part of Your Plan: Many corporations are excellent at corporate social responsibility because they have made it a point of integrating CSR right into their business plans. If you want to have philanthropy become part of the DNA of your business, you have to have it become an element of your company that is just as important as making a profit. Consider the metrics that you use for making money and develop measurements for the philanthropic efforts that your business will do so that CSR is integrated into your company.

Once you’ve started to execute your CSR program, it’s essential to get the word out, just as you would do any marketing regarding your business. You want to make sure the community becomes aware of your work as a good corporate and business citizen. If you consistently make CSR part of the culture of your business, including incorporating it into your business meetings and team updates, you will empower your team to help you spread the word in media and through social networking.

6 Tips To Find A Good Purchasing Agent

Are you looking for a good purchasing agent for your business? If so, you should know that many of the agents may not be qualified. You need to keep in mind that purchasing agents play a great role as far as international trade is concerned. They act like a bridge between buyers and sellers. If you want to choose a good sourcing or purchasing agent, we suggest that you follow the tips given below.

1. Language

The agent you are going to hire should have good command of the language spoken in the target country. This includes both written and spoken English and other languages. You know that language plays a great role in communication between business owners around the globe. Therefore, a good command over the desired language is a quality that your agent should have. If the professional is not well versed in the language that is spoken in that country, how can they be able to talk to the sellers in that country? They won’t be able to communicate and bargain well, which will increase their chance of getting ripped off.

2. Good morality

Your desired agent should know how to behave and protect the interests of foreign buyers in the target country. They should not take you to the scammers in the target country. Aside from this, they should be true to their words. In other words, they should have a high standard of morality. If you know that an agent asks for commission from both the buyer and the seller, you should stay away from them and look for some other agent. A good purchasing agent will never indulge in such acts.

3. Knowledge of import and export

A good sourcing agent should have good relationship with local authorities of the target country. They should be familiar with the policies of that country regarding import and export. Moreover, they should be familiar with the regulations related to import and export, which is very important to avoid lawsuits.

4. Purchasing methods

Your purchasing agent should know how to source or buy different items without killing a lot of time. They should know the best markets where your desired products can be purchased. Aside from this, they should know how they could get the best prices. And if you get a product at the lowest price, you can make the highest profit.

5. Familiarity with the product or industry

The agent should be familiar with the product or service you are interested in. For instance, if you want to buy ductile iron castings, we suggest that you look for an agent who is familiar with these products. There is no doubt that this field has certain terms and they should be familiar with these terms.

6. Knowledge of the international laws

Your sourcing agent should be familiar with international laws and other practices, such as quota issues, anti-dumping issues, tax issues and certification issues, to name a few.