Friday, February 28, 2014

How to Name Your Business

If you’re selecting a business name understand there are a few strategies to consider in order to make your company compete better.

You don’t want to select a business name that only appeals to you. You need to choose a name that appeals to the kind of customers you want to attract. If you want a younger demographic, pick a name that could trend on Twitter. If you are going after a more corporate demographic, select a name that isn’t too edgy and acceptable within the corporate culture.

You also want to create a name that helps customers connect on a more emotional level. You don’t want a name that is confusions or based on a pun. You also don’t want to add the term “Inc.” unless you are actually incorporated.

Don’t forget to check out the completion, either. You don’t want to pick a name to find out months later there is another business already established with the same name and serving the same customers.

Until Monday,

Twyla N. Garrett

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Art of Nasty Emails!

Before email you would have to look your boss, client, friend or coworker in the eye when telling him or her how upset you were. This factor alone made throwing a verbal punch hard to do. However, since email- the ability to throw verbal punches as become easier than ever and nasty emails are just a click away. Yes, a simple click will let everyone know exactly how you feel about something. The downside? It lasts forever. There is no delete button once it is sent. So, if you’re upset with someone and you want to write them an email about the issue- practice my tips to a “nasty but not nasty” email first.

1. Write the email you want to send but leave the “to” section blank. After you write it, don’t edit it. Save it to drafts and revisit the issue after a three hour cooling offer period. You will be less emotional and more point orientated after three hours and then you can edit your email properly.

2. When you do go to edit the email, figure out a way to end it on a positive note. Offer some suggestions to correct the problem or talk about how you value the other person and want to address the issue but move forward as friends or professionals. Don’t be outright nasty with no room for positive resolution.

3. Get a second opinion before you hit send. Your head is in the game and directly related to the issue at hand. However, you can be sued if you are an employer and send the wrong type of an email. Plus, it is good to have someone from the outside read the email and give it a level-headed once over.

Finally, if you don’t receive a response within 24 hours of sending the email- call the person or invite him or her to talk it over while having coffee. You don’t want to look like a jerk- even if you are right- by sending an angry email with no opportunity for recovering or without extending the olive branch.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Homeland Security : Federal Air Marshals No More?

I saw a story earlier today via CNN that stated the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is going to cut plain-clothed Federal Air Marshals. WOW! In fact, double WOW! The past three years was spent focused on protecting our planes at an increase from terrorist via this resource. Now, all of a sudden, we are cutting back. Why?

The Department of Homeland Security declined to say how positions have been eliminated because they don’t want to give potential terrorist a number of how many potential Air Marshals are employed.

According to CNN, “critics, including some air marshals, say the secrecy allows the government to cut the workforce without acknowledging it, as happened in the years leading up to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. At that time, fewer than 40 people were in the air marshal workforce and none were on the hijacked planes.”

Air Marshal Director Robert Bray said in an e-mail, sent Friday, that the agency's budget has been cut from $966 million to $805 million in the past three years. He outlined plans to close six of the agency's 26 field offices in coming years.

This exact situation is what I address in my current book, which you can preview on Amazon by clicking here:

Sustainability is a real thing. While budgets may go up and down, the threat by terrorist is continual. We shouldn’t have to make these choices and preparing for real sustainability to ensure critical positions and programs aren’t cut is a must!

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Productivity – How to Cheat

I don’t condone cheating under normal circumstances. However, if you find yourself getting overwhelmed with everyday tasks- don’t panic. Use my tips!

While these tips aren’t really “cheats” , they are shortcuts to help you become more productive. Please try them for a week and then write me back on this blog and let me know how they worked for you!

#1. Don’t answer the phone unless it is an emergency. Yes, don’t be customer orientated while you are working on major projects. In the long run, customers will appreciate this when they receive a product that is comprehensive and outstanding versus a product that is half-put together because you were busy taking phone calls.

#2. Mange anxiety, plan your scope of work for the day, and stay fit at the same time by making sure you walk for a half of an hour before going into work. This is crucial for staying productive.

#3. If you write proposals or any emails for work, write terrible first drafts. Yes, terrible first drafts lead to great final products. Make this a daily practice and your clients and bosses will love you! Just remember to revisit the draft before you turn it in!

Until tomorrow,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, February 24, 2014

When You Yell At Employees.

It happens. We, as leaders, tend to get passionate about our companies. We will snap on our employees from time to time. Regardless if it is warranted or not, it isn’t nice. If you want to recover from being mean, stressed or really upset about a failure on your staff’s part- consider the following steps;

1. Walk away. It sounds simple, it’s not. If you are upset the hardest thing you can do is teach yourself to calmly walk away after saying something you may have regretted. Make sure you work at this as it will save you from embarrassment and a lawsuit.

2. Listen to your mentors. If you explode on employees, call a friend in your industry right away. This will help you obtain a fresh perspective on not only your reaction but why you reacted in such away. The insight you will gain will help you realize the root of your anger and how to proactively move forward.

3. Don’t bring up the issue again at work. Let sleeping dogs lay in place and move forward. Revisiting the issue is embarrassing and will not accomplish anything. Instead, you move forward and be the example of how to move on from a bad day at the office.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Friday, February 21, 2014

To work on the weekends or to not work on the weekends – that is the question!

There are many schools of thought when it comes to working on the weekend. Some people don't even have a choice, it is just a matter of fact. However, if you are a business owner for an executive you are prone to work on the weekend. The question becomes is it effective.

Why when it working on the weekends fee effective? Many studies suggest not being able to unplug and relax from your work can cause you to become spread too thin, stressed out, and eventually ineffective. While it is good to take vacation days and mental health days, business owners and executives feel that this is time lost and not spent effectively. Not working, for many business owners, is the equivalent to losing profit. We become obsessed with work.

It is my suggestion business owners strive to find a happy – medium when it comes to working on the weekend. You will have to work weekends, there is no getting around this fact. I don't suggest you work every weekend. It will wear you out, stress you out, and cause you to be ineffective.

It is my suggestion that you pick and choose the opportunities for working on the weekend when you can, and I understand this will not always be a point of choice. So, if you can't take it day here or there – regardless if it is a Saturday or Sunday – do so. It is beneficial to unplug when you are not at risk of losing profit or clients.

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, February 20, 2014

When and why to approach the media.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, businesses within this country that deserve the attention. However, not all of them will achieve coverage. Why is this? Well, I am going to use tonight's blog to provide some pointers on achieving media coverage using the right approach.

The first step you want to take it familiarizing yourself with the standards implemented and utilized today via the Associated Press. The Associated Press, otherwise known as AP, offer several interactive online tools that can help you write in the style preferred by many reporters and journalists. Learning how to format your approach will help you remain competitive when seeking media coverage.

The second step is to understand how relevant your company is in direct relation to media value. I suggest visiting Google News and type in a keyword directly related to your industry. The first page of Google News will reflect what is trending irrelevant within your industry and help you decide what slant to use when approaching media or writing a press release.

Finally, you want to make sure you are reaching the right reporter for editor. For example, if you offer a product that is related to the technology industry – contacting the general editor of the New York Times is a mistake. It is a mistake because the general editor is not in charge of assigning technology and computer pieces to the covering reporters. You should spend time researching which reporters and editors write for your industry – related news before you approach any newspaper or news outlet. Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Homeland Security and the Ukraine.

Today President Obama made a statement calling for the violence in the Ukraine to cease or we may have to intervene. While this is a scary thought, our Homeland Security Department has to address this very real, and every escalating, issue. So, what is going on with the Ukraine?

Well, the Ukraine remains divided around residents that want to remain Eastern and aligned with Russia. The other side of the coin? Other residents want to venture into greater independence from Russia and thus into Western civilization. There is a virtual tug-of-war between Russia, Brussels and Germany directly relating to exclusive economic and political union of border states. The fight is an issue of topography and finance. It is also a cultural issue. Many people believe Ukraine and Russians to be one in the same- the truth is they are not!

Russian President Vladimir Putin has interjected that the West should stay completely out and about from meddling with the internal politics of Ukraine; which only adds fuel on the fire related to President Obama’s words today. The trade deal that Ukraine’s President Yanukovych signed with Putin before the riots started, puts the needed loans of a Ukrainian economy in shambles and allows for the Russian military base leases and geopolitical security interests to grow.

Ukraine splitting from the rest of Europe and Russia will depend on how the Russians will economically let go of the Ukraine versus an economic opportunity. The Russians make a massive monopoly on the 28 state EU natural gas supply and better trade opportunities in the Ukraine, and with money loaned and the border divide become more and more of a point of contention- I don’t see things getting better anytime soon!

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tips to creating a successful crowdfunding campaign.

If you're thinking about starting a crowdfunding campaign consider the following tips to help elevate beyond your fundraising goals. More important than the copy you create for your campaign is the brand recognition you want to stimulate through the fundraising campaign.

Creating brand recognition means you have to have a quality marketing campaign as a component for your fundraising campaign. This is typically hard to do for new business owners are entrepreneurs looking to grab money for their ideas. You also have to make sure you have the capability to deliver what you promise as incentives for your fundraising campaign, otherwise the long-term branding impact story your business.

The campaign also has to focus on visual, audio, video and creative imagery. It is worth the investment to hire a professional company to create an intro video about your campaign and your brand. Using stock photography for unprofessional photos will harm the campaign. You want people to relate to your brand and your cause and buy into your vision. Furthermore, ensuring you have flawless copywriting and informative graphics will help.

If you are seeking more information on crowdfunding, and how it can help your company, send a question or comment at the end of this blog.

Friday, February 14, 2014

How Your Mornings Are Not Yours!

Ever feel stressed out from work the second you open your eyes in the morning? You are not alone. Many people wake up, check their smart phones and realize all the emails that have been able to sneak into their inboxes sometime between 10pm the night before and the now 6am staring them back in the face. This is how your mornings are getting away from you. Stop checking emails as soon as you wake up. Period!

Simply don’t check your emails in the morning. Make it a rule and stick to it, which will be hard. If you aren’t due unto work until 9am, make sure you stay away from emails until 10am. You will be more productive than answering emails from the time you wake up until the time you go to sleep. You do need you time, which is hard in today’s multi-media and social media culture.

Start with Monday. Set a rule for your phone to disallow emails until 10am. Try it for two days and see how you feel. I promise, you will feel as if you have your mornings back!

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, February 13, 2014

The #1 Thing Business Owners Will Not Share About Entrepreneurship!

Business owners share a lot of advice. What they don’t tell you is between the networking events, overseeing employees and interacting with clients- there is a real sense of isolation. Yes, entrepreneurs are often lonely people.

Business owners tend not to share this “dirty little secret” because there is a sense of shame often associated with the lone wolf type of personality. I’m not even sure most business owners like to be alone at the end of the day, but it happens more often than not. Why? We’re busy and we are constantly working. That is just the fact of who we are and what we do. We are our companies.

Relationships fail because we are tied to work. Family commitments get put to the back burner more often than they should because we are closing deals or traveling often. We, as entrepreneurs, learn to embrace this job factor and fill the time reading, being quite or (dare I say it)- eating a meal not at our desk!

I think we should , as entrepreneurs, address this fact with aspiring business owners. We owe it to them to be honest. You are investing in yourself, which means you are truly submersing yourself , and 95% of your time, in your business. You will be busy. You can feel lonely. It is a job hazard , but when the company takes off and you can build a legacy for your family- or family to be- the sense of accomplishment often outweighs the years of loneliness.

Until tomorrow,

Twyla Garrett

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Sochi ; Did We Overreact?

You can’t always win with the media. This time last week, the major broadcast stations were busy noting how many opportunities terrorist had when it came to the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. While there are always concerns about safety and the Olympics, it was a particular hot button issue for many reporters.

Today, the concern isn’t as strong and things seem to be going smoothly. This is when we, as a country, shouldn’t let our guard down. The media reporting on how safe everything is right now sets a tone of lax and could open us up to security issues. There is, it seems, no middle ground with the press.

As the owner of a Homeland Security company, I would like the media to really start thinking about the tone they develop with their reporting. We should have honesty, accuracy and a straight-forward approach. Over-hyping potential incidents can equate to crying wolf when nothing happens and leaving us less likely to take future threats seriously. Stating the security concerns are not as validate as they were the prior week is also dangerous. It can instigate a potential security threat, or worse yet- an attack.

As we head into the final days of the Olympics, I truly hope the media uses their power to help maintain an honest, open and level-headed approach when filing their future reports.

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Communication Plan

In my business, communication means everything. You are either responding to or creating important communications. Regardless of your industry, being able to communicate is important.

Someone sent in a question asking about the main components to a good communication plan. Well, first there are two types of communication plans, external and internal. Do you have either one? You do need both.

Your external communication plan is all written collateral that you don’t mind sharing with the public or the media. The internal communications plan is more tricky. This is what you need to communicate amongst your staff and supporters.

To create a great internal communications plan, develop these statements;

Company mission

Crisis communications chart

What you are willing to talk publicly about and what you will not comment on

Your social media goals and topics for the next three months

What press releases are needed

Start with these components and then move forward. I promise, this will help you develop a great communications plan.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Embrace Creativity; Here's How

The more creative the project, the more we need to work on it first. We have been trained to get the small stuff out of the way first and then work on bigger projects. While this may work for some people, it doesn’t do anything for those in the creative field. Creativity requires you to think more than just working on data entry tasks. Thus, putting small tasks first eats up the energy needed to work on creative projects. Make sure you are starting your creative tasks first and working on them right away.

Studies show people do 90% of their best thinking outside the office and early in the morning or late at night. Schedule your creative tasks accordingly- preferably early in the morning.

Turn off the electronics. We are trained now to ignore people as they talk to us in order to check our cell phones now. Not only is this rude, it is a way to debunk our creative juices and tendencies. If you have to work on a creative project, ditch the cell phone and other electronic devices.

Until Monday,

Twyla Garrett

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Over Thinking Your Branding Approach?

My company recently redid our website. Now, it is more functional and offers interaction. I didn’t realize how bad my former website was until we changed IME’s brand and feel to the version found here:

Working with our branding firm, I learned a few things about an approach to branding most marketing companies refuse to share. Considering your own brand imaging, take a peek at the following tips.

#1. Are you treating your website like a garage sale? If you said yes, you’re doing it right. Great garage sales put their big items up front so people driving by can see the most popular items. Knick knacks, clothes, baby items - these are all small end products people could use once they get of of the car and into your garage sale. However, the small end products usually don’t attract business from the street and people tend to just drive on by if they are put out front. So, know what it is that sells your company the most (service or product) and feature it all of the first page of your website and social media efforts.

#2. Do you have the basics? Do you have a specific font to use for all of your collateral? What about color codes? If you don’t have specifics and you’ve been “winging it” - you are harming your brands viability within today’s market. Sure, you’re not losing any money directly as a result of this misstep but you could be making so much more!

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Sochi : The Mess Before the Olympics

I’m posting a photo below borrowed from NewsWeek’s recent blog post (today, actually) about Sochi, Russia. The photo of the brown water the reporter had come out of the hotel’s tap is below. The full story I read is here:

Here’s my issue with Sochi- and no, it has nothing to do with brown water, although that is pretty disgusting! Shaun White has already pulled out of the Olympics due to security concerns. Over 57% of Americans, according to a CNN poll, believe a terrorist attack will happen. And, despite the hotels’ diminished accommodations at human standard levels (water, really?) and the obvious security issues that have the hands of our FBI and CIA officials tied, we are still- as a country- excited to participate.

I love the Olympics as much as anyone else. However, there has to come appoint in time when we really look at how security is (or in this case, ins’t) being handled by our Russian counterparts for the games. Simple accommodations like shower or bath water aren’t available and we have professional athletes who are so concerned they are now boycotting the games. These reasons aren’t good for the morale of the games or the mindset of our concerned citizens.

I will be writing a blog during the Olympics with a more in-depth view point on what was done to establish security in somewhat volatile conditions and what we, as a country, could have done better when it comes to overall accommodations, communications and anything else related to this topic.

I have full faith in the DHS, CIA and FBI. Please don’t get me wrong on this point. It is how our needs are being met by the hosting country that has myself, Olympians, security officials and the media already present in Sochi concerned.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Are You An Ego Maniac?

Running a business will require you to wear many hats. Are you willing to do this and ask for help? The problem I have noticed in the past with new business owners is the issue of ego. We all have to wear many hats, but that doesn’t mean we are all experts in different fields!

You, as a business owner, will need help and you will probably have to meet with other business owners from time-to-time to seek out advice. Are you willing to do this? If not, you will run into problems with your day-to-day operations and you will have trouble with growth.

It is always great to be confident. It isn’t great to be egoistical and you will only harm your business and your brand. Even Sir Richard Branson still asks other business owners for advice. It is one of his strengths, not a weakness.

Here are three ways to discover if your ego may be getting slightly out of control.

First, ask yourself if you know how to follow and then site an example of the last time you did follow. If you can’t, you better start asking yourself why not.

Next, ask yourself if you are reading enough. When I say reading, I mean books on leadership. When was the last time you picked one up and finished it? If you haven’t done so in more than a month…. It is time!

Finally, do you volunteer? If not, start. Volunteering will help others and give you time to engage with people who can inspire, even possibly work for, you. Volunteering is a great way to give back and gain a fresh perspective on life and business.

Until next time,

Twyla N. Garrett

Monday, February 3, 2014

On the verge of success…. And then you quit.

I can’t tell you the number of times I have felt like packing things in. Life isn’t going to go the way we want it to. The same rule applies to business. We are going to have challenges as business owners. If you feel like packing it in tonight, don’t. Let me share some of my stress-busting secrets to help you feel re-inspired and motivated once again.

Don’t focus on what is going wrong. Instead, as hard as it seems, focus on how you are going to change what is going wrong into something that works. Put yourself in charge of innovation and start focusing on putting one foot forward and in front of the other foot.

Stay calm. Don’t become emotional about business issues. Not that our lives as business owners should be black and white and sterile, but because being emotional clouds our thinking and judgment. Remember, you don’t ever have to make a decision on the haste- so don’t. If there is a problem at hand, give yourself time to assess and then address it.

Seek help. There is no shame is asking for help. In fact, you will feel 200% better once you do obtain help. Taking on the world alone is a terrible position to be in for anyone. Take yourself out of this position by asking for help.

Until next time,

Twyla Garrett