Friday, 9 March 2001

Newsletter Issue 20, March 2001

Sam Young Newsletter

Issue 20, March 2001
Hi guys,
All you water babies out there must have birthdays coming up. Hope you all have a great time!
Next time we will look at some PC stuff again in the lead article, but this time we have a few "soft" subjects; what makes businesses succeed, the paper war and a short piece on seizing the day (I'm on my "life is not a spectator sport" soapbox). Check out Factoring Success into Business and Paper Plus below.
Carpe Diem   TLAs for SMEs        Short & Hot Keys        Hot Linx
Don't forget, if you want to be taken off my mailing list, click here to send me a reply e-mail and I will remove your name.

Factoring Success into Business

A bit of a spiel this month on what makes businesses work. In addition to there being a lot of articles on this subject in publications that I read, I have recently been to a performance excellence course; and the one most important factor is the one at the very top of the list. If you don't take time to plan, you will NEVER reach your goals.

And I am as guilty of this as I am sure lots of you are! Don't forget - this applies to individual people and employees just as much as business.

Business Focus
  • Plan for success. Know where you are going and how you are going to get there; in one, three and five years and draw up a plan of action. IF YOU DON'T KNOW WHERE YOU ARE GOING, HOW CAN YOU EVER EXPECT TO GET THERE?
  • Find your niche. Become an expert in your field and stick to what you do best. Don't do "everything for everyone". Spreading yourself too thin diminishes perceived quality.. and...
  • Always try to beat your best. Constantly strive to improve your products and services
  • Get it right first time. You never have a second chance to make a good impression, so you must "get it right first time". It is much better to introduce an excellent product a little later than planned than it is to release something that you know has problems. Hey, look at Microsoft! 
  • Build your reputation on integrity, quality and value. Don't do anything to compromise it. Once your reputation is tarnished, it is difficult to redeem yourself in the eyes of your customers

Time Management
  • Work smarter, not harder. It's not how much you do, but what you do and how well you do it. There are better ways to run your business than by brute force
  • Think about what needs to be done. Remember "there is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all"
  • Don't be all things to your business. Let go of the belief that only you can make decisions. Concentrate on the most important problems or issues facing your company and let others help you out - use your Accountant, your contractors, get an answer service; empower your staff with not on responsibility but also the authority to make decisions
  • Don't put up with inadequate skills. A common problem faced by successful companies is growing beyond employee skills. When change is necessary, don't lower your standards just to fill vacant positions - use job descriptions for the position and ensure prospective employees have them

Customer service
  • Sell solutions, not products. Success comes when you give your customers what they want; listen and react to your customer's needs. Ask customers  what you can do to improve your product or service
  • Always under-promise and over-deliver. Provide your customers with more than they expect. Go the extra mile to give exceptional quality, exceptional service or exceptional value. Your customers will remember and reward you with their continued business. 
  • Clearly define and understand your market, your customers, and your customers' buying habits. Who are your customers? You should be able to clearly identify them in one or two sentences. How are you going to reach them? Is your product or service seasonal? What will you do in the off-season? How loyal are your potential customers to their current supplier? Do customers keep coming back or do they just purchase from you one time? Does it take a long time to close a sale or are your customers more driven by impulse buying? 
  • Avoid over-dependence on a single customer. At first, it looks great. But then you realise you are at their mercy. Whenever you have one customer so big that losing them would mean closing up shop, watch out. Having a large base of small customers is much preferred

  • Anticipate and react to competition, technology or other changes in the marketplace. It is dangerous to assume that what you have done in the past will always work. 
  • Challenge the factors that led to your success. To meet new market demands and changing times find new and better ways of doing the routine work so that you can spend more time with your customers
  • Look at what your competition is doing differently and see what you can use

Research & Development
  • Be open to new ideas. Experiment. Those who fail to do this end up becoming pawns to those who do
  • Adapt and apply innovative techniques from outside your specific field
  • Take advantage of change. Changes in your market are inevitable use them to your advantage. Be a leader, not a follower. It is far better to err on the side of daring than to err on the side of inaction or complacency. 

  • Keep your business profitable. Check income against expenses regularly. If, even though you generate lots of activity, the profits wont sustain you, talk to your Accountant sooner rather than keeping the "hope" hat on. 
  • Have adequate cash reserves. When setting up, consider both business and personal living expenses when determining how much cash you will need. If you don't have enough cash to carry you through the first six months or so before the business starts making money, your prospects for success are not good. 
  • Price your product or service correctly. You must clearly define your pricing strategy. You can be the cheapest or you can be the best, but if you try to do both, you'll fail. 
  • Anticipate cash flow requirements. When you are just starting out, suppliers require quick payment for inventory (sometimes even cash on delivery). If you sell your products on credit, the time between making the sale and getting paid can be months. This two-way tug at your cash can pull you down if you fail to plan for it. 
  • Plan your growth. Slow and steady wins every time. Dependable, predictable growth is vastly superior to spurts and jumps in volume. It's hard to believe that too much business can destroy you, but the textbooks are full of case studies. Going after all the business you can get drains your cash and actually reduces overall profitability. Don't leverage yourself so far that if the economy stumbles, you'll be unable to pay back your loans.
Paper Plus

Here is some bad news: If you plan on being a functioning member of contemporary urban society, paperwork will be part of your life until you croak. You can't avoid it, delegate it, or eradicate it. Unless there is a revolution in world philosophy which drastically effects the way we all live, we're stuck with paperwork. Live with it. 

We might be forced to deal with it, but we can at least make it bearable. Here are a few things you can do: 

  • Simply reduce the amount of printed material you have to look at. You can't avoid paying bills or doing your job, but you can cut back. Use direct payment for your bills, and only use one or two credit cards. Use the Internet as much as possible. Email makes it much easier to manage your incoming tasks. 
  • Filing important data in your email program should be as easy as a few mouse clicks. 
  • File all of your important paper away in clearly marked folders (use folders with multi-colored tabs) so you can find things when you need to. You probably need to buy hanging folders and plain manila folders. If you need more than four drawers, you probably need to throw some of that stuff away. 
  • In order to keep your home or office free of paperwork clutter, schedule a weekly time to exorcise the paper demon. If you've let things pile up, just grit your teeth and do it all at once. If you don't get it done, the paper will just continue to pile up. 
  • Just as your computer needs the right components to function properly, so do you need the proper equipment to tame the paper beast. Buy a large 4 drawer filing cabinet. It could be the best purchase you ever make
  • And archive old materials away from your work station so you feel free from it - at last!
Carpe Diem

Work should be fun, right? 

Well for an awful lot of people, that's not so. Just remember that wasting 30 or more years of your life in a job you hate is sad, mad and bad!

If you make your job more enjoyable, you'll be happier and FAR more productive... and a better person to be around. Other people will enjoy coming in to work with you. 

If you can't make things better where you are - change your employer or your line of work. 

Life is not a spectator sport. So carpe diem. And let's make that EVERY day.

TLAs for SMEs

Here are this newsletter's TLAs for you;

  • i-Mode, Probably stands for internet-mode. This is the NGT in cellphone internet access
  • NGT, New Great Thing. You guessed it. The newest greatest thing!

Please feel free to email me with any TLAs that you want to get the bottom (meaning!) of.

Short+Hot Keys... and now tips
This time we look at wildcard searches in Word with the wildcards box checked.  When you search using wildcards, upper and lower case matter. 

Searching for a ? matches any single character, and searching for a * matches any string of characters. So, for example, with the Use wildcards box checked;

  • searching for gr?n matches grin but not groan
  • searching for pa*l matches both pal and pall
  • searching for j*n matches john but not John
  • abc] Matches one and only one of the indicated characters. Searching for l[aei]g matches lag and leg, but not log
  • [A-Z] Matches one and only one of the characters in the indicated range. Searching for H[A-O]G matches HAG and HOG but not HUG
  • [!abc] Matches any single character that is not on the list. Searching for m[!ou]d matches mid and mad but not mud
  • [!a-z] Matches any single character that is not in the indicated range. Searching for h[!a-m]m matches hum but not ham orhim
  • < Means that the next character must appear at the beginning of a word. <[m-z] matches might and reason but not back. Means that the preceding character must appear at the end of a word. [m-z]> matches lop and oz, but not ball
  • {n,m} Means that the preceding character must appear between "n" and "m" times. Bo{2,4}m matches boom and boooom but not boooooom. (If there is no "m", it means the character must appear at least "n" times.) 
  • @ is the same as {1,} 
  • \ Makes Word search for the following character, even if it's a wildcard. Searching for sh\*t will match sh*t but not shot.
Hot Linx
Want to know how many calories there are in a Big Mac? Check out the calories by clicking Diet & Nutrition on the sidebar, then selecting Fast Food on the page that comes up at... 

Find out how international business people are being advised on business protocol in New Zealand at the New Zealand Business Practices and Protocol Page at 

The Greenwich  site gives you the time low down that's hard to beat, so visit them at; 

World history archives covers all continents with greater detail on the Americas, Europe, Asia and Oceania and Africa at 

If you are up to the cuisine challenge, or just wish to try something with a hint of Kiwi traditional difference, check out 

                                Catch you again soon!! E-mail your suggestions to me here