Don’t Mess With Your Business Card

It is estimated that changes have been made on 35% of all business cards presented on any day. These seemingly innocent changes are made with pen, marker or, gasp, a stick- on label. Get out that stack of cards in your drawer with the rubber band. At least one will have a change, penciled it. Not too impressive, huh?

Your business card is perhaps the most important tool in your marketing arsenal. It is like a miniature billboard starring you. Commercials on TV don’t have flubs, ads in the paper don’t have mark-throughs. Your business card should be perfect, too. If it’s not, don’t fiddle with it, get a new one.

Several years ago, in the Northwest Airlines Terminal building at the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a clever worker patched the terrazzo floor. Since I am not there every day (although it seems like it with all the traveling I do), I don’t know the reason for the patch. But nonetheless, it was a patch. You can see it 12 gates away.

The workmanship is fine and as time has passed, the patch has aged to blend with the floor around it. I am sure as more time passes; I will be unable to see where the work was done. A patch in Detroit was probably the right choice, given the hundreds of thousands of square feet of floor to replace, and the patch seems to be disappearing with my every visit. The patch route was the right road to take. Too expensive to replace the whole floor, so patch it, but make it a really good patch.

The too-expensive argument doesn’t hold when a tightwad spends an hour carefully marking out the email address on a stack of business cards and painstakingly penciling in a new one. Yuk!

What’s it gonna cost to buy a new box of cards? Not much, but even if it was really expensive, I venture to predict the negative impression of the “mark-out, pencil-in” change will cost more in lost, or compromised, future business. If you thought you might lose a good account, would you pay twenty bucks to save it? Of course. Spend the money for new cards and you may not have to find a way to save the account.

Ever see a broken door handle in a hospital fixed with duct tape? How about a broken chair in the examining room at your doctor’s office? It just doesn’t happen. It is not professional. It sends the wrong message. Same with your business card. The fix-on-the- cheap route doesn’t work for people in business, especially if they need to make a favorable impression. Business cards are like that. They can make, or break, the impression you and your business make.

If one itty bitty snippet of information on your card changes, the cards are obsolete and should be pitched and new ones printed, pronto. There is no excuse for keeping old cards around. I read a chapter in a book someone had written that listed 29 things to do with outdated business cards. One of them was to glue them together and give them to Grandma so she could prop up the kitchen table and get her New Testament back.

A crisp, clean, professional looking business card printed on white glossy stock, with no errors or changes is the best foot you can put forward in your business.

Business Tip – Help! I Made a Mistake – Now What? Best Ways to Handle Mistakes

You did it this time. In your haste to get your marketing campaign out and announce your next big event, you sent the wrong link or contact information. No one is going to sign up now because there is no way to get to the sign-up page or contact you. Or perhaps even worse, you have a teleseminar scheduled with dozens expected and realize at the last minute, while YOU are calling in, the number you sent out in your reminder emails is off by one number. Now what?

First, realize these things happen all the time. Don’t panic! Instead, take control and fix the situation calmly. Even though it might not feel like it at the time, no one is going to bolt and not show up over a simple mistake. However, if this becomes more of a habit than a one-time occurrence, things need to be changed pronto. Also, understand that how you handle this mistake will often determine the effect it will have on the situation. So let’s talk solutions.

Here are our best tips for handling mistakes:

Get over it already – Believe it or not, you are not the first person to make a mistake. (I know-go figure!) You need to let it go. Fix what needs to be fixed and then move on. So many, once they make a mistake, dwell on it for days or even longer and just can’t let it go. What happens then is you lose your focus on new work and more mistakes happen. You might even be so unfocused the teleseminar you’ve been preparing for months takes a negative turn. Then the mistakes just keep piling up one on top of another. Not a good thing. Realize your mistake, make plans to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and move on.

Reassess your processes – Are mistakes happening because your foundation is lacking? Oftentimes, this is the case. The reason things keep going wrong is because you aren’t properly set up in the beginning. It’s time to review your processes and make changes. Go over your procedures and steps you take and see if changes can be made to run more smoothly. If you don’t have regular procedures in place, now is the time to do it. It’s also a good practice to set up templates for the things you do on a regular basis. Say for example you host numerous teleseminars a year; you should have templates set up in advance with all the vital information so it’s a breeze to set them up and get going. However, you might see you are just too busy in your business and it could be the time to look for an online support specialist to take over these tasks.

Don’t Cover Up – Often when we make a mistake, our first instinct is to run and hide. Some even try to blame others (really bad form!). The best approach is to acknowledge what happened, admit to the mistake, and speak directly to whom it affected and let them know you will do everything you can to correct it if possible, and ensure it does not happen again. You can even outline new processes to show you are on top of things. Most will value your professionalism in the way you handled things.

Feel confident in your business and know every mistake can also be a stepping stone to more success. From most of our mistakes, we’ve learned something positive and were able to grow and make changes that made our businesses better. And if you realize you are just too busy to handle everything, contact us to see how we can help. We take the stress away so you can enjoy more and do more.

Reducing Costs With Creative Small Business Medical Insurance Solutions

Most employers recognize that an attractive small business medical insurance package promotes loyalty as well as generates better productivity amongst the company’s employees. On the other hand, it also can easily be one of the most expensive costs an employer has to consider. Like most businesses in our tough economy, you are probably looking at ways to cut benefit premiums, pronto.

Creative Insurance Alternatives

As premiums continue to increase, insurance carriers are offering more creative benefit solutions. The strategy is to offer valuable benefit coverages, with premiums affordable to average income earners.

Some insurance carriers have experienced increased growth in their alternative health plans, such as a High Deductible Health Plans (HDHP) compatible with a Health Savings Account (HSA). An HDHP plan allows for participants to have the richness of a traditional PPO plan, with lower premiums. Participants are more cognizant of the cost of their care; in part due to the plan’s higher deductible and also the ability of participants to retain any unused portion of the employer/ employee contribution from their HSA to use for future medical needs. Furthermore, many participants under this plan take a more proactive approach when it comes to their health. They are more likely to maintain a healthier lifestyle, seek generic alternatives to brand pharmaceuticals and visit urgent care facilities linked to their plan, lowering their healthcare costs to preserve assets in their HSA.

This creative insurance alternative not only benefits the overall health of employees, but also helps mitigate renewal increases to employers, as many HDHP plans tend to see a decrease in utilization. As a result, these lower costs allow employers to reward employees participating in the plan (some HDHP plans cost less than a HMO coverage) by increasing their employer contribution towards an HSA account.

What is an HSA?

An HSA, or Health Savings Account, is medical savings account wherein the funds contributed to the account are not subject to federal income tax at the time of deposit. Unlike a flexible spending account (FSA), funds roll over and accumulate year over year if not spent. HSAs are owned by the individual. The amounts put into an HSA are not only federally taxed exempt (HSA’s in California are NOT tax exempt), but employees are also able to take the money with them when they leave their current employer.

This all may sound a bit complicated, but it is not as bad as it seems. The point is that there is a world of options for small business medical insurance plans, beyond the traditional HMO and PPO plans that most employers offer. If you are looking to reduce your benefit costs, consider alternative options and you may be surprised what you find!