Business – Constructing Efficient Systems – Having a System to Manage Information Overload

My adult children are disgusted when they noticed that I have several hundred emails in my Inbox or can’t find a computer report with ease. They are even more annoyed, however, when I print documents that they think could have been better left as digital records.

These children have grown up with computers and therefore have learned how to deal with things in a different way than I have. They also are used to protecting the environment and trusting electronic files whereas I tend to feel more comfortable with physical files and printed documents.

Because we live in a world in which we receive an overwhelming amount of information, it is important to learn how to manage it in an effective manner. Following are some tips for handling both electronic and printed data:

1. Set up folders in your email software to hold information that needs to be kept. I tend to use the name of the person who sent it to me and the folder name but you can use any method that will help you to file and then find it again.

2. Deal with things as they arrive. Organizational specialists often recommend that you only touch a piece of paper once. It’s act on it, file it, or destroy it. The same applies to emails.

3. Develop a system for storing reports or documents that you need to keep. It only takes a couple of minutes to properly label a file folder.

4. Ensure that all of your photos are downloaded from your camera and labelled properly.

5. Learn about specific techniques that you can use to search for information stored on your hard drive.

6. Get rid of everything you don’t need. If you can’t name the items in a box before opening it, you likely don’t need the contents!

7. Keep your voice mailbox cleared. Writing a list of caller names and numbers will allow you to delete the messages as you listen to them.

Managing information involves having a plan that includes responding to it, filing it or destroying it. Responding means you will deal with it right away. Filing it means that you will have a system which will allow you to quickly find it again when it is needed. Destroying it means that you will have a shredder, garbage can or trash folder available for immediate use.

Resume Structure – Playing an Important Role to Organize Information?

The resume structure or skeleton on which information is organized often comes ready made in the form of a resume format downloadable from the Internet. This tendency to rely on ready-made templates and formats has become dominant, and people no longer have difficulties when writing about their careers, if in search of a job. The thing is that before the appearance of the resume format patterns, job seekers had to handle resume writing individually and without much aid. Lots of companies actually provided their own set of documents to be filled with the information they were interested in. When the Internet became all powerful, things truly began to change for the better in the case of resume writing.

For the job seeker, the use of the resume format model simplifies things greatly and facilitates the access to a good position in a successful company. Standard forms include sections for work experience details, education and qualifications, skills, achievements and objectives, besides the opening personal details that are common to all sample resumes. The difference between a resume format and a resume example results from the absence of content in the case of the format, where you’ll only have some guidelines, while with the example the resume is fully written. You can in fact use both, the sample and the format, so that all tools necessary for resume writing be available.

Then, you would be wrong to work on a resume format without having read some resume examples. The idea is to be patient, and no matter how time-stressed you may be, you have to give yourself the chance of learning how a good resume needs to look like. When writing hurriedly, it is very possible to overlook important details and thus miss a promising job interview. Pay attention to the skills, qualifications and work experience sections, because these are the most heavily scrutinized by employers or recruiting companies.

Last but not least, use the resume format that best suits your individual situation. Under certain circumstances, adjustments and modifications may be necessary. Try to improve and improvise if there are further things you need to highlight about your work experience. Keep in mind that patterns, formats, samples and templates only function as standard schemes that help you organize your career information with a higher accuracy level. Besides these aids, you can combine tips, suggestions and examples from various sources in order to create a good resume that does you complete justice.

The 3 Necessary Steps to Make Money Selling Information on the Internet

There are three main steps to selling information, and with a little practice (and sometimes a little help) it’s something anyone can do.

Step #1 – Research

The first step in selling information is the research or gathering step. If you know a lot about something or have a core expertise, a good part (but not all) of your research may lie in determining that the information you have is something other people want. In the upcoming paragraphs, we’ll discuss how you research, discover, acquire and/or organize your ideas.

What do you know that we don’t? Or who do you know that knows something that the rest of us need or want to know? You don’t need to spend years becoming an expert in something. You do however need to borrow, license, acquire or rent the expertise from someone. If you don’t have an expertise that you can write or speak about, the easiest way to go about finding someone who does is to look for an expert who is under marketed. Then ask them if they would consider letting you repackage their information and take it to the marketplace. Negotiate a way to split the profits that will be mutually beneficial; then they’re happy, you’re happy and you’ll both have more money in the bank. Here’s an example:

You go to a PTA meeting at your kid’s school there’s this guy there speaking on how to influence your children to form good study habits. He really seems to know what he’s talking about and is selling an under-priced Saturday seminar on the subject. You could approach him with an offer to either market for him on a commission based basis, or better yet, take his information and repackage it in the form of a self help book, ebook, audio or video disc, or anything else for that matter, then split the profits with him.

No matter whether you yourself are the expert, or you are using someone else’s expertise, proper research is essential. No matter how much you know, or how great your expertise, you need to be able to back what you have to say up with facts, studies and real world examples. Take some time to make sure that what you’re saying is correct and can be verified. Nothing ruins your credibility more than when a customer catches you saying something that is not true. If they catch you just once, how can they know that everything else you say is correct? Check, and double-check the facts before you put anything to print.

There’s been a saying that’s been floating around for quite a while; it goes like this: “Copying from one or two books is plagiarism, but copying from many is research.” That doesn’t mean to copy anything word for word, or to take other’s ideas and call them your own. But it does mean that you can learn from the experience of others, form your own conclusions, then put them to print, audio or video. Take any non-fiction book for example; most of the concepts and ideas in the book have surfaced somewhere, sometime in the past; everything is not by any means a completely new idea or concept. The key is how you package them. How you put them together into something that is concise and easy to apply and understand.

I believe it was Jay Abraham who said “All the notes had already been discovered long before Mozart came along.” It’s not the notes that are important, but how they are packaged together (into a song) that matters. Information is much the same, you can take the same information, repackage it into something that is easier to understand and implement and you have a whole new product. It’s a simple concept called repurposing or repackaging information. An ebook could easily become an audio CD set, or a home study guide.

In conclusion, make sure you take the time to produce quality work, and that means researching your information. Be sure others back up what you have to say, as a mistake can be drastically costly to you or your business. Don’t forget that once you publish your information, there’s no taking it back — it’s out there forever.

Researching the Market

Before you even start creating an information product, or make a deal with an expert to use his or her expertise, you need to research the market. An easy way to do this is to look for other people that are selling similar information. If there isn’t anyone selling it, there’s probably a good reason – there’s no market for it. That doesn’t mean there’s no one who wants your information, it just means no one wants to pay for it, or not enough people want to pay for it to make it profitable. It would be very rare that you come across a category of information no one else has tapped, and in my opinion you’re better off with something that is tried and true than something new. There’s no reason to try and reinvent the wheel.

Determine who your potential customers are and then determine their needs, wants, and expectations; figure out if there is a demand for your product. Get their opinions about it. Find out how they would like it packaged (book, audio CD) and how much they would be willing to pay for it. Then take a look at who your competitors are and how well they are doing. Find out what they’re doing, how they work, then do it better. It’s as simple as that.

While market research may appear to be a tedious, time-consuming process, it is often necessary if you want to be successful. It is an invaluable tool that can save you time, effort and money.

Step #2 – Packaging

Packaging isn’t limited to fancy graphics and showy slogans on the package of your product. Packaging is how your information is organized, including the form you sell it in, at what price, and how easy it is to use. The main goal of packaging is to make sure that your product is desirable to the consumer. That means everything from choosing the right format for selling your information, to making sure that it is organized in a fashion that is easy to understand and simple to implement.

These are the three steps which are essential to proper packaging:

1. How you physically package it

2. The way you organize the materials

3. Selecting the best price to sell your information for

Packaging Information

This isn’t what color or type of packaging you should use, but the format that you use. The format is the medium which you convey your information through. This could be anything from an ebook, to a DVD, to hosting a live seminar.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects of information marketing is how the information is packaged, or put together into a format that is easy to follow, can be quickly accessed, and can achieve fast results. That is what makes the information that you have to offer so much better then that of all the other information floating around out there. There is tons of raw information swarming all around us. But most of us don’t have the time to sit down and decipher it into something that is easy to understand, and easy to use. Not only do you need to provide the information, but you must provide the tools for the user of the information to integrate it into his or her business and/or life.

There are tons of different ways you can package your information. Thirteen of the more popular packaging techniques are listed below.

1. Publish a book or article

2. Host a seminar

3. Become a public speaker

4. Host a teleseminar

5. Publish a newsletter or ezine

6. Create a computer program or educational game

7. Produce a television program or infomercial (informative commercial)

8. Become a consultant

9. Teach or train

10 Publish a magazine or newspaper

11 Become a talk show host

12. Create a product (how to course, audio CDs, video etc.)

13. License your information

Put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What format of information would you want most? What would work best for your needs and lifestyle? Don’t stop at just one format though. If you start with an ebook, put it on CD. If you have a home study course, teach it in a seminar or teleseminar. Start with one format, then branch out and expand. Different people like different formats. Some people might like a home study course, then to go to a seminar and learn that way, then listen to audio CDs in their car as a refresher. Give some choice, but not too much or people will put off making a decision.

Organizing Your Materials

The big thing about organization in general is the fact that it keeps things neat and tidy and puts them in a place where you can easily find and use them. When you’re organizing information the goal is much the same. A good information product must be:

- Organized

- Simplified

- Systematized

- Personalized

- Interactive

- Ready to use, on demand, instantly

Most people don’t have the time to spend studying and reorganizing the readily available data into something that fits their unique circumstances. They want something they can use now, which is easy to understand and provides fast results. And the best part is, they’re willing to pay for it.

To illustrate this, let’s say you own a late model car that requires lots of love (think maintenance and repairs) to keep it running in tip top shape. You may have a decent knowledge of how cars work and enjoy working on yours, but you don’t know absolutely everything about everything, and might need a little guidance once on a while. When you need help, you have a few options:

Ask a friend or acquaintance for help who might possibly know something you don’t.

Plop yourself down in front of your computer and plough through webpage after webpage in an attempt to find something helpful (and correct) on the internet.

Or, you buy a readily available book for $29.95 at your local book bookstore that explains everything you’ll ever need to know.

Do you spend the $30 for the book, waste countless hours researching for credible information on the internet, or ask a friend who might know? Since I value my time, the choice for me is easy; I spend $30 for the book. Research shows that most other people feel the same way. Why? The book gives you access to immediate, credible, specialized information that you can quickly act on.

Price

A well-thought-out marketing strategy takes into consideration not only the marketing factors, but also pricing strategies. While it’s always important to make a profit, if the market won’t bear such a high price, it’s better to lower your profit margin than not do any business at all. You may actually be able to make more money with a lower price than you will with a higher one. Make sure your marketing plan combines marketing and pricing.

Also be sure your price is fair and competitive with the marketplace. If your price isn’t right, people will pass you by without even giving you a chance. Above all, always be sure you test different price points adequately to determine which will make you the most money, not get the most sales.

Step #3 – Marketing

When you’re selling anything, marketing is the absolute most important skill to have. If you wanted, you could market junk with right marketing campaign (not that you would want to).

Marketing information can be both harder and/or easier than marketing other types of more physical products. If you’re trying to convince people that they need the information you have to offer, it can be quite a chore to actually persuade them to purchase it; especially with all the free information floating around on the internet. However, simply find the right audience that knows the true power of properly packaged information and the impact that it can have on their lives and their business. If you find the right market and they’ll be begging you to sell them anything they can buy.

For Meeting Planners: Organizing Your Office for Less Stress and More Profit

If you discovered your speaking career depended on how organized your office was, your reaction could range from complete composure to sheer terror. Even the most successful professional speakers sometimes utter, “Some day I’m really going to get organized,” but purging files, organizing computer files, tackling piles of unread journals, or learning a new software program (even one that will help you get organized!), usually gets pushed to the bottom of your list of priorities while you handle today’s crisis.

But can you afford to ignore overstuffed files, unidentified computer files, unlabeled floppy disks, miscellaneous handouts, nebulous receipts, and a generally cluttered office? In years past, it was possible to postpone or even ignore “getting organized,” but today it is not, for three major reasons:

1. The amount of information you have to organize is greater than ever before. Although computers once promised us the paperless office, most of us are organizing more paper than ever before. With computer files, faxes, e-mail, voice mail, and on- line services, organization is essential. 2. The demand from meeting planners for a quick turnaround on information is increasing. Meetings are planned with less and less lead-time. As a result, meeting planners need information quickly. If they can send us a fax in 15 seconds, we can’t wait a week to reply, and expect them to hire us.

3. The number of people staffing businesses is decreasing. That means we have to do whatever we can to make meeting planners jobs easier. Managers and staff at all levels are required to produce more in less time, and it is to our advantage to help them accomplish that challenge.

So what is an “organized office?” Don’t confuse organization with neatness. Remember that old adage “A place for everything and everything in its place?” In my experience, it’s half right. A place for everything is very important, but everything in its place may not be. The stress comes, not from the clutter, but when you’d like to clean up the clutter, but don’t know where to put it so you can find it again! To put it another way, organization gives you the “ability to recover.” The reality of the speaking business today is that we often find ourselves in a crisis mode — flights canceled, meetings scheduled at the last minute, etc. Good organization makes it possible to recover from these inevitabilities in the least stressful way.

My definition of “organized” is very simple: “Does it work?” and “Do I like it?” If what you do affects other people, you should ask a third question, “Does it work for others?” If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” here are five suggestions to help you get started on the road to organization:

1. Remember that clutter is postponed decisions. The reason that desks and filing cabinets become inundated with paper — and our computers with files — is that there are decisions we have not made. In fact, there are only three decisions you can make about any document: toss (or, hopefully, recycle), file or act. In my experience, in the typical day’s mail, you can toss 40% and file 40%, which leaves only 20% to clutter your desk.

2. Use your wastebasket frequently and encourage others to do the same. When I first started as a consultant, I used to have nightmares that someone would call and say, “When you were here we threw out … and (something terrible) happened.” In 18 years, I’ve never received such a call! Research shows we use only 20% of what we keep, but how do you decide what you really need? For each piece of information (paper or electronic) ask these questions:

o Does this require action?

o Does it exist elsewhere?

o Would it be difficult to get again?

o Are there any tax or legal implications?

o Is it recent enough to be useful? If all the answers are “No,” but you’re still not sure, ask one last question: “What’s the worst thing that could happen if I didn’t have this?” If you can live with the results — toss it.

3. Implement a good system for keeping track of names, addresses, and telephone numbers. Many of the pieces of paper that clutter up your life are deemed valuable because of a name, address or phone number. Choose a system for tracking this information, and use it consistently. For most speakers today, a computer program, such as Telemagic of ACT, to manage your client database is essential unless your client base is limited, and you do little marketing.

Using the notes section of the program to track information you can use to build relationships, and to trigger important decision dates, can be the difference between booking and not booking. A Rolodex can be a very valuable organizing tool. Use it to keep track of services such as computer repair, graphics, etc., as well as quick access to frequently contacted clients and colleagues.

In addition, you can use it as a mini-filing system. A tidbit of information too small for a traditional file — for example, a note from an e-mail newsletter about what color print brings the best sales. When you want to file something in your Rolodex, ask yourself, if I wanted this information again, what word would I think of first?”

4. Create a paper filing system that works easily and consistently! If your filing system is not working, ignore it and start over! It is unnecessarily depressing and time consuming to spend time organizing information you are not using. It is much easier to start over than to try and fix it. Clean out your most accessible file space, and put those files into less accessible space if you are not comfortable throwing them. Begin your new system, and as you need information from the old files, incorporate it into the new system.

File information according to how you will use it, not where you got it. For example, file seminar handouts you received at an NSA convention under the topic of the seminar. To determine where to file a piece of paper, ask yourself: If I need this again, what word will I think of? The answer to that question is the file title. Arrange the files alphabetically. The key to the continuing success of your filing system is a File Index — a list of your file titles. Use your File Index to determine where to file a piece of paper just as you would use a chart of accounts to determine which account to charge an expense. Keep a copy near the filing cabinets and see that co-workers have a copy.

It is easier to locate where a paper might be located by quickly scanning the File Index than by thumbing through drawers of files — and possibly missing the very one you needed. The File Index not only helps you locate a particular document, but will avoid creating a file for “Car” when you already have “Auto.” Remember to keep it an active document. Handwrite changes as you add or delete files, and print out new copies as necessary.

5. Manage your paper on the road as well as you do in the office. Every piece of paper you collect on the road can be divided into three categories: toss, file or act. Play a game with yourself to see how much you can get in the wastebasket before you get back to the office!

Carry file folders labeled by specific action. For example, “Act” is for papers, which require action when you return. Note in the upper right hand corner the specific action you want to take. A “Call” file makes it easy to use the 15 minutes before a flight to make one or two quick calls. “Discuss- (your assistant) contains papers she can handle. Finally, be sure to include one labeled “File” — with a copy of your File Index. As you get papers along the way that you want to file, check the File Index for the keyword, write it in the upper right hand corner. When you return, filing will be easy. (Consider hiring your 10-year- old!)

So, you want to get organized? “Where do you start?” A good place in most offices is a “File Clean-Out Day” with all the members of your staff. Get plenty of trash bags, wear comfortable clothes, and order pizza. People often ask me, “How long will it take to get organized?” It doesn’t matter — just start somewhere! The longer you wait, the more time it will take, and the more difficult it will be. And remember, human behavior is not like a computer program — it cannot be installed. It has to be nurtured. Learning new a behavior pattern takes time, but the rewards will be worth your effort!

How to Organize Your Internet Business

When you start an internet business one of the keys is organization. Staying organized may sound simple but do not underestimate how productive spending some time organizing can be. Simple steps like devoting time to organizing, setting up a system for handling orders, having a system for ongoing projects, and organizing email contacts can save you hours of time down the road.

The saying that time is money may be an old one but it is true. Being disorganized costs your business time and money. When you cannot work efficiently because your desk or business computer is disorganized then it will take you far longer to complete what would otherwise be simple tasks. This time spent looking for lost files is time that could otherwise be spent filling orders or growing your business.

Before taking your first order, set up a system for handling those orders. Try to come up with a consistent system for setting up your invoices, have a way to track orders and expenses, know when to place orders with suppliers, estimate how much to order, etc. You may want to invest in a copy of Microsoft Office to get Excel or find another spreadsheet program. They may take time to learn but they can be great at tracking and organizing information. Excel is a powerful program that many businesses and accountants around the world use to keep their information organized.

Have a system for tracking what you are doing now and your plans for the future. Sometimes you may get a large order that takes several weeks or even months to fill. Having a way to check and share information about the progress of these orders is good for both you and your customers. Also have a system for jotting down ideas for expanding your business. An idea notebook, either online or on paper can help you to keep track of all of your great ideas so that you can follow up on them as time and resources allow.

Spend some time organizing your contacts and e-mail addresses. The days of the Rolodex in every office may be over but that is no excuse for having a shoe box full of business cards and other contacts. You can use an organizer, a digital organizer, or even a smart phone like an iPhone or Blackberry to track your contacts. If you want to sore business cards digitally try taking a snapshot of them or scanning them in as picture files. Programs like OneNote or Evernote can read print off of these files and find the information you need quickly. These tools should allow you to find information about suppliers, repair people, and customers more quickly. This means that you can spend more time working on increasing sales.

Set aside a little time each day or week to get and stay organized. At first this may be a larger portion of the day while you are getting used to a system and routine. Even after you are well organized spend some time each day or week cleaning your workspace, organizing, and filing important documents. Remember that time is money so less time wasted by disorganization means more time spent on sales which generally means more money. Cleaning out the drawers of your desk every week may not seem worth it until you spend 3 hours one day looking for a particular receipt that isn’t where you thought you left it.