This quarter I read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People and really enjoyed the content I read. In each section, broken up by the 7 habits, I took away plenty of leadership and personal/professional development tools.
For the first couple of habits I learned goal setting and how to write a personal and professional mission statement. These tactics will enable me to visualize where I’m going and how I’m going to accomplish it proactively. By creating goals and giving myself a vision for where I want to be, it will make it easier to move forward into the place I’m trying to go.
Other things I learned while reading through habits 3-6 included time management, delegations, active listening and synergy. Learning to prioritize what is important in order to weed out the unimportant tasks while achieving a goal is critical for developing leadership skills and moving towards my goals. Listening to those around me in order to be a strong leader, instead of a dictator and learning to work with others through delegation and teamwork are all important skills that are learned from these habits.
Habit 7 you learn to evaluate your progress and decided if you stay the course or change it up a bit, in order to reach your goal. Checking in with myself while I’m on this long journey is what ensures my success instead of being caught off guard.
I enjoy blogging when I am given a prompt for a post as opposed to having to come up with my own content. I think it can be easier to blog for a class than it is for personal or professional because it’s much easier to follow guidelines for so many words and an exact topic that we’re learning about.
Entrepreneurship – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly?
Begin with the End in Mind– Habit 2, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
This habit is based off of thinking about your life up until the very end, then spending each day with that idea in mind. Are you living up to your potential? Are you living each day by your meaningful values and your vision? Do you have a clear destination? If not, what could you be doing to be living that way? And how can this apply to being an entrepreneur?
In the section All Things Are Created Twice, Covey outlines first a mental creation, then a physical creation. When put into perspective of business it means first coming up with the idea of your business, the target market, the financials, and so on, then creating the physical business that is up and running. If you’re doing this without considering the end, failure is likely. If you don’t have a clear idea of where you are going with your business, how can you succeed?
This helped me visualize a better planning process when it comes to running my own business. Instead of being bogged down only by what is in front of me, looking at the bigger picture, planning for the future and creating long term goals with the end in mind are what will help lay the foundation for success. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the little things that can add up when you are an entrepreneur, but keeping that vision for the future, and creating goals will help move forward.
I still have no desire to own my own business again anytime soon, but I wish I could have had these insights when I was running my business before. I was easily caught up in all of the tedious little stuff that piled up, or put too much time and energy into the fun stuff that didn’t need immediate attention, and completely neglected looking forward into the future and creating goals and plans for where I should be going. While I did manage to do alright for myself for a period of time, it became obvious that how I was approaching my business wasn’t something I could do for the long run. Ultimately I ended my business and have since moved forward, but having these tools and insights will help me do it better if I choose to try again some day.
As a graphic designer focusing mostly on branding start-up companies it was essentially my job to create “something from nothing”. I’ve met and designed for some really great businesses that created their companies out of what seemed like nothing and often used their passion and motivation as an inspiration when trying to translate who they were into a visual representation.
I often had a process when creating a logo or branding a company. First, getting the owner to write down all of the words, phrases or feelings they had associated with their business was the most important step. From there I could have a better understanding of where they wanted the design to go, without asking them WHAT they wanted designed. More often than not, asking someone who isn’t design-minded to describe what they wanted designed ended up in failure on both ends.
Second, I would look in art books, at photography, in readings or anywhere else to get inspiration for the words and phrases I was given. I often visited color pallet sites (like colourlovers.com) and looked up colors within a range I was visualizing, to help me focus my creation.
Next was brainstorm-style sketching. Maybe I had an idea, at this point, of what I wanted to sketch or maybe I was just going to try out some different things. I usually tried to do a 50/50 with typography based sketches versus image based to see which direction I wanted to go.
Last, before sending off at least 2 separate designs for the first round of proofing, I would do focused sketches. These would be a direct translation of what I was working out with all of the previous steps. Sometimes I would send the client actual sketches and sometimes I would render them on the computer if I thought they would be able to visualize the end result that way.
After that I would do up to 2 more rounds of changes before the final product was delivered.
Hello from Dillanos! I’m the CEO, David Morris. When I started Dillanos Coffee Roasters in 1992 I didn’t ever think it could become what it is today. We pride ourselves on our amazing coffee, but we’re even more proud of the company culture our employees and our customers have helped create. It’s important to us that each of our customers, new and existing, understand and feel like part of the Dillanos family. This is our most important goal and why our mission statement is simply: HELP PEOPLE, MAKE FRIENDS, AND HAVE FUN!
EMAIL EXCLUSIVE DEAL: Spread The Love! Reply to this email with the name and email address of 3 friends or family members, and each of you will receive 40% off your next Dillanos purchase! Act fast though because this offer is only available through Valentine’s Day! This includes all whole bean and syrup flavors, as well as coffee accessories such as mugs and Dillanos branded merchandise.
Only 3 friends per person, please. Offer excludes brewing equipment.
Check out our write up in Roast magazine for 2011 Roaster of the Year!
“DILLANOS COFFEE ROASTERS is downsizing. That’s right, the company-which is housed in a 45,000-square-foot facility in Sumner, Wash., with plenty of room to grow-decided to go mini with its latest purchase. “We know a lot of roasters who started out small, but built up and bought bigger roasters as they grew,” says Dillanos co-owner Chris Heyer. “We did that, too. But in the last year, we also purchased a 25-kilo Probat, which is way smaller than the other roasters we have. We’re almost going in reverse.”
When it comes to getting new clients or business for the company I chose to follow, Pepper Pot Polish, I think the three most important things to do are networking, then making sure to follow up, using social media to reach a larger audience and take advantage of communities, and offering periodic deals and specials to entice new buyers.
Networking can be tricky, but making connections wherever you go, making sure to have an “elevator pitch”, carrying business cards and then following up each introduction with a “nice to meet you” letter or email can be a very important tool to grow this small business. So many times people say one thing and do another, and especially in business, keeping your promises or referencing something you talked about with a potential customer will create a bond and help establish a long lasting relationship.
Exploiting social media for its vast reach to otherwise out of reach customers for a small business is an essential tool for a start-up trying to make a name for themselves. Even better, joining a community within social media and creating a bond with others in your industry can help to push your brand out even farther with co-advertising.
Offering deals to new and established customers can act as a thank you, but also entice new buyers to try your brand. If your product is good, but they just needed a deal for the extra push to buy, then you have the ability to gain them as a life-long customer from that point forward.
Habit 6 in the book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People talks about Synergy. This relates to serving the customers of my micro business on the basis of trust. The core of this habit is creating trustful relationships through communication in order to create a bond that is “greater than the sum of the parts.”
Steven Covey writes “Synergy is everywhere in nature. If you plant two plants close together, the roots commingle and improve the quality of the soil so that both plants will grow better than if they were separated. If you put two pieces of wood together, they will hold much more than the total of the weight held by each separately. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Simply put: working together to create a relationship built on trust and communication is the foundation of what synergy is.
Because my company is such a niche business, it is extremely important that I build my business off of relationships and being transparent to my customers. When dealing with anything from sales to customer service issues, building and maintaining mutual trust is the key to success. The only way I can truly succeed in this business is if I have the ability to synergize with my customers.
When we are communicating through synergy, we are allowing ourselves to be open to what the other is saying and suggesting. We are allowing the mutual trust we have built to solve a problem and help my business grow. It starts with believing that everyone involved in the communication is there to help and grow and support one another.
Synergy in business allows everyone involved to be authentic and gain a mutual respect for each other. It allows for all parties to encourage communication through our differences and understand that we all have different opinions and values. Within my business I choose to celebrate the differences between me, my customers and any other people I come in contact with as my business grows and evolves.
As a growing small business Pepper Pot Polish always seems to be pushing the boundaries to grow and move forward based on trial and error and customer reviews. A big part of the success of the company has been the transparency of the creation process. Not everything has been a home run, but letting customers in on a little of the behind the scenes action always helps build brand loyalty. The top three methods that Pepper Pot Polish is using to enhance the brand are:
1. The Pepper Pot Mystery Bag-
When a customer orders a mystery bag they get 3 colors that are unknown to them. One color is a current brand favorite or top seller, the other is a new color that the company is testing out and the last color is a discontinued color that was being sold at a discounted price. By doing this, she is adding a fun element, creating a trust based relationship with her customers and testing out the newest colors to see if they’re popular.
2. Brand Specific Hashtag-
When a customer uses a Pepper Pot Polish, the company encourages taking pictures of the color, commenting on what they think and using the hashtag #PepperPotPolish. This not only creates a community for the customers to come to, but also helps the business gauge how successful certain colors are.
3. Adding Complimenting Products to the Pepper Pot Line-
Just before Christmas Pepper Pot Polish rolled out a line of cuticle oils to compliment the nail polish offerings. There were multiple scents and they were being sold in gift bags with polishes to help promote the all of the products the company creates.
At Dillanos, video is a pretty common marketing tactic used across all of the social media platforms. There is usually at least one video posted each week to each of the separate social media accounts. Typically video is used for either education or entertainment. On the education side, video is often used to showcase farming practices, roasting, alternative brew methods or a cupping presentation to give customers an idea of what goes into creating the product they are purchasing and drinking. On the entertainments side, videos are usually posted of office or employee shenanigans. The Dillanos company culture is a point of pride and sharing that family and fun mentality with customers is very important to the business.
I believe Dillanos is doing a great job with video, but could absolutely do more. The problem is less about the frequency, but instead, like most small businesses, more about the time and the man power involved in creating things like that. Because there is only one person involved in the digital marketing it becomes more difficult to be able to capture a video of every worthy moment to share with the customers. This could be combated by having employees share their videos of things they are involved with around the business or by doing a call out to the customers to share their Dillanos videos and either select a winner or simple showcase one or two videos a day that use a certain hashtag to post on their personal social media site.
There are two specific UX problems, for me, that always seem to make or break whether I will use a website again. The first one can ruin an online shopping experience if I am trying to buy multiple items during one visit. Companies that don’t have the foresight to include a simple notification when you add an item to your cart, or the ability to visually see how many items are in your cart without leaving your current browsing page and going to your cart, can create a very unpleasant and time consuming problem for shoppers. Usually if a customer has to navigate back and forth from different pages just to make sure they are able to purchase an item properly customers will be less inclined to continue visiting that site.
The simple and obvious fix would be to have your website developer write in code to add a notification for when items get added to a cart or to add a design function that shows your cart count at the top or to the right of the page where the customer can easily see it.
The second, and, in some ways, biggest problem a website can run into is a hidden call to action button. If the whole goal of your website is to have customers call your business to move forward for a service, or to purchase an item, but the phone number or “buy” button isn’t obvious and easily accessed on your page, people won’t spend a lengthy amount of time searching for what they need.
This is another pretty simple fix buy adding a large and obvious “buy” button in a place that customers are already looking for it, such as the the right/bottom of the page with the product on it, or for a phone number at the top of the page in a large font.
For my bad dog event poster I created for the week 4 discussion, I found it to be a fun, easy project. After designing for other people and businesses for the last 10 years it’s always nice when I have full control over a project I’m working on. Especially when I can interject some humor and talk about my ridiculous dog. 🙂 The challenge of creating something that is visually pleasing while fulfilling certain parameters is one of the main reasons I became a designer. I love it when I’m forced to think outside of the box and push the boundaries to make something visually appealing. Or even better, when I have parameters that are lacking in creativity (i.e. name, date, location) and make them into a fun and artistic creation.
I didn’t struggle too much with this project anymore than I do with any new project. The initial brainstorming of an idea is always the biggest hurdle for me to get over, then deciding on only one of the ideas I’ve come up with. The next big challenge for me is always layout. I will move type around two million times in the smallest increments until I feel like the design is balanced and visually even. I have spent over a week just moving around tiny elements on a page to make it look right. It’s even more pronounced with typography based designs because the littlest bit off kilter a word or even a letter is, it will throw off the entire design. I usually have to budget the most time in the small details in order to make an end product I’m proud of.