Saturday Musings – When Life Brings Changes

Saturday Musings – When Life Brings Changes

Our house has been in the midst of a lot of change over the past week. Tim and his girlfriend flew down from up north for a flying visit and our daughter Sarah is in the process of moving into her own place.

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Life’s been a little bit chaotic with people coming and going. Come Tuesday next week and there will just be Roselyn and I with eighteen-year-old daughter Elise rattling around the house built for a lot more than just us.

When life throws you a whole lot of changes you can either resist what is happening or go with the flow.  I’m an eternally optimist so I like to look on the empty bedrooms as an opportunity.

I recently had a person tell me that I’m too optimistic and that I need a dose of reality. I responded by saying that I like to make my own reality so it may as well be a positive one. I must admit that I get tired of people that always seem to point out that donuts have holes…..for heaven’s sake you’ve got a donut. Enjoy it!

I’m now in the process of turning one of the spare bedrooms into a video/sound studio with a green screen and all. I love messing around with being creative with that type of stuff and my “donut” is looking better every day.

I’ve now bought a high-end microphone, mixing console, and some sound software so that I can record an audio version of my book, Battleframe. I’ve always wanted to do this and now I have the space to do it in…..so get ready for some audio and even video action!

When life brings changes your way remember that not all of them are bad. It seems to me that when your children get older and leave the nest they inevitably bring back someone else with them. You can either view this as a threat to the way things were or an opportunity to get to know someone your kids really love.

Sarah had her birthday this past week and we had all the boy and girlfriends around for a great celebration. It was fantastic seeing them laughing and interacting with one another….it’s one of the many blessings of being a parent.

So decide what you're going to do in your life, look at the donut or grumble that it's got a hole.

Have a great weekend!

Michael

 

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Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Part 5 - How To Get New Customers

Many readers are aware that I recently launched a new business and that I was having trouble enticing customers to the service. It just so happens the business is a new bird bath outside my study window and the customers are birds (the flying ones).

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Although there’s been a lot of funny anecdotes there has also been a serious thread of discussion about how to attract customers to a new business. Every new business has a vision of their ideal customer and a “full proof” plan on how to attract them. The problem is that years of experience has proved plans look great on paper and reality is something else entirely.

For example, I had a great vision of birds flocking to my wonderful bird bath and I would enjoy them singing away outside as they happily splashed away. My reality was a bird bath that was entirely ignored.

The one thing that a start-up has to their advantage is their ability to quickly change direction. If the plan isn’t working, then change the plan. Don’t burn more cash…..move!

In my case, I tried to entice the birds with bread. They loved the bread on the ground and completely ignored the bird bath. I then moved the bird bath. That still didn’t work so I moved it again. I constantly tweaked my “business” with the end goal of attracting my customers (ie. birds).

If a start-up is to succeed, then it must get customer feedback as fast as possible. There is no point in building the ultimate product that no one wants. For those people who tell you they love what you’re doing then ask them the same question with a charge attached.

I’ve seen so many businesses give their products/services away in the name of “market share” only to find that once they try to charge no one wants what they’ve built. A sale isn’t a sale unless ultimately there is a financial transaction attached. Anyone can give a service away…..it’s much harder to sell it.

So where am I at? As can be seen by the pictures I now have multiple different species of birds enjoying the bread and the bird bath. This is important as the different species indicate that I’ve now tapped into not just a single market but multiple different market segments.

Magpie

A start-up needs to quickly classify what customer segments are buying their products/services. This means really paying attention to what customers are buying versus the time wasters and then focusing your efforts to exploit the revenue opportunities.

I should say that my feathered customers are also paying customers. The other day, Roselyn and I woke up to a magpie warbling beautifully outside our bedroom window. That was payment enough for us both. For me, it was wonderful to know that I’d managed to successfully launch another little start-up business.

Battleframe

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Saturday Musings – What Goals Do and Don't Do…

Saturday Musings – What Goals Do and Don't Do…

Having a goal to aim for can be one of the most motivating things to keep you going during the good and bad times. How many of us have made a New Year’s resolution only to give up a week later?

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I was speaking to a person this past week that was so excited about what they were trying to achieve. As the conversation progressed I watched as their shoulders slumped forward as they despondently recounted that they didn’t expected to have to do so much work.

The first thing that goals don’t do is the work. If you expect that once you’ve set a goal that everything will just magically happen then you’re going to be in for a surprise.

Roselyn and I have had a goal to go away for our thirtieth anniversary. If we didn’t book the plane tickets, accommodation and work out some semblance of an itinerary then I can guarantee it isn’t going to be much fun. It’s taken a lot of time and effort to do these things…..and in our case, it’s for something fun!

If you’re constantly hitting your goals, then challenge yourself to dream bigger. Make your goals big and audacious! The whole point of a goal is to stretch you and inspire you to move into places where you haven’t been before. Having a goal is not the end game, it’s the start of a journey so make it a worthwhile journey.

Roselyn and I have a dream of completing the Milford Sound walking track. It’s a five-day hike through the mountains of southern New Zealand (think Lord of the Rings) and it’s a fairly challenging trek. Due to other commitments, we can’t do the hike for just under two years. Despite this, we’re already training and focusing on our overall fitness.

Having our goal doesn’t take away the pain of hunger from a sensible diet nor does it take away aching muscles after a weekend’s walk. What it does do is keep us centered on why we are doing what we are doing and along the way we feel a lot better 😊

Goals don’t inspire you if you don’t feed them. Every time we go walking, put on our hiking boots or pick up some new equipment from a hiking store we are reaffirming our goal and getting a little excited. Sitting on a side table in our family room is a photographic book of the Milford Sound trek and every now and then we pick it up to feed our goal.

Be honest with yourself and manipulate your own emotions (yes, I said manipulate) by feeding your goals. Talk about them with friends (not too much) and have things lying around that remind you why you’re on the journey. If you don’t do these things, then your goal will die and you will wonder why you’re looking at a documentary of someone doing a hike rather than experiencing it yourself.

Many people believe that goals should be inspirational and yet they feel burdened by them. How many times have you said that you’ll lose an amount of weight and it never happened? You end up using your goal as a whip to chastise yourself after you eat yet another cream puff. For me, these types of goals are really bad…..I just start to feel crushed by them.

Rather than talking about losing weight, have a goal of the type of lifestyle you would like to achieve. For example, it could be that you want to run around the backyard with your kids without puffing and panting. Now ask yourself, what needs to happen to achieve this goal? Losing weight is boring but playing with the kids is awesome!

As you may have guessed, I’m not a big fan of diets. The problem I see with them is people go on and off them and their weight goes up and down like a yoyo. Rather than going on a diet, quite some time ago I decided to make a lifestyle change for the better.

When I turned fifty it suddenly dawned on me that if I kept abusing my body the way I was with no exercise, bad diet and working crazy hours then I wouldn’t be around for Roselyn much longer. My first journey was to my doctor to get a physical to ensure there wasn’t any problems. The next was regular exercise and a complete dietary change.

Does it mean I don’t eat chocolate or anything like that? Not at all…..but I look on it as a special treat rather than a nightly munch. I’m well on my journey and my goal is not to lose weight (although that is nice) but as I said before, to trek the Milford Sound hike with Roselyn. We also have a lot more adventures lined up.

My goal would be meaningless unless I did something about it…..it’s also good to add a little spice every now and then on the journey. In my case, in a few minutes we’re off to the local hiking store to check out some gear.

So remember what goals do and in many respects that they don’t do.

Have a great weekend.

Battleframe

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Saturday Musings - I'm a Failure...

Saturday Musings - I'm a Failure...

I recently launched a new business and it’s been an abject failure. The service I was selling was great and I was sure that customers would absolutely love it but no one has even looked at it. My marketing efforts even went as far as involving some giveaways and I still didn’t get a result…..although the potential customers loved the trinkets.

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So my shiny new bird bath is still sitting forlornly outside my study window with not a bird in sight. The birds loved the bread that I put out for them each day. I even placed the enticing morsels ever closer to the bath with the hope that I could watch them splash around on a hot summers day. But my customers have rejected all my efforts…..sigh….

How many of us have launched a new business only to discover that no one is interested in our services or products? With ever increasing frustration we put our hand deeper into our pocket to pull out more cash to throw at the market with the hope that someone will buy.

I hate to say this but someone has bought…..and that’s you. You managed to drink the kool-aid of your own business to the extent you’re no longer listening to your proposed target market. You could keep on shoveling cash out the door or you could do something a little more adventurous…..and that’s pivot.

When a business is in the process of failing, before you run out of cash, you sometimes need to take a close look at what you do and decide to do something else entirely. Maybe it’s completely revamp your product or target an entirely different market or even use your service as a loss leader for a different revenue model.

I’ve met many business people that have either killed a business too early or too late. In many instances, a little creative thinking is all that is required to rescue the situation. Maybe if you’re running a restaurant it’s as simple as taking the food to the people rather than waiting for the people to come to your food.

If you find yourself in a situation where you’re going out the back door then whatever you do, don’t keep on doing the same thing as you’ve always been doing and expect a different result. Pivot and pivot fast!

For me, I’m going to pivot and take the bird bath to my customers by putting it in the middle of the lawn rather than outside my window. With any luck, a few birds will hop in and have a great time. You’d think they’d realized that all of this was for their own benefit……and a little of mine. Wish you me luck!

Have a great weekend.

Michael

Battleframe

Recent Comments
Westerdal
My most successful businesses​ started with a great plan. However those businesses never succeeded by using the original plan. The... Read More
26 March 2017
vanclute
Perches are KEY! We have a bird bath in our back yard in perfect view of our bedroom window. No moving water or anything and on ... Read More
26 March 2017
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Saturday Musings – Saying Sorry When It’s Not Your Fault

Saturday Musings – Saying Sorry When It’s Not Your Fault

Many people have no problem with saying sorry when they’ve done something wrong but refuse to apologize when they firmly believe they're right. They take the stance, that since they’ve done nothing wrong (in their eyes) then why should they say sorry. What this behavior clearly demonstrates is their lack of understanding of the purpose of apologizing.

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Saying your sorry has less to do with right and wrong and more to do with hurt feelings. Being right doesn’t mean you haven’t hurt someone else’s feelings and standing on your dignity by not apologizing often just makes the situation worse.

This year I’m coming up to my thirtieth wedding anniversary with the most wonderful, patient and loving lady I could ever dream of spending my life with. Has it all been plain sailing? Heck no! Like any marriage, over the years we’ve had our ups and downs.

I remember one time when I knew that I knew that I was right and yet my wife was in tears in front of me. This was a bazaar situation for a young male who inadvertently poured buckets of gas on his wife's flaming misery by telling her to just “get over it”. It was after a number of these episodes that it dawned on me (with a lot of help from Roselyn) that because I did no wrong didn’t mean I was right.

Sure enough……it happened again. I took the superior position of being “right” and expected Roselyn to realize the error of her feelings. We males can be really dumb sometimes! It took a few minutes for me to work out that I was about to go on the merry-go-round again so this time I decided to step off.

I apologized. Not for anything I’d done wrong but for the fact that I’d hurt her feelings. Something magical happened in that moment…..peace was restored to our relationship.

So many of us are trying to win each and every battle with those that we “love” that we forget we’re actually not at war. A simple heart-felt apology is often all that it takes to restore the relationship and bring a little bit of heaven to your earth.

Like I said, I’m coming up to my thirtieth anniversary this year and when you’ve been around someone that long you learn a lot about them and yourself. It’s been an adventure that has led to a depth of love, respect and appreciation that has far surpassed my expectations when we first got married…..we thought we loved each other then. LOL! That was nothing compared to now.

Learning to say sorry when you’re not at fault is one of the many lessons that my wife and I have both learned over the years. As we look forward to the years ahead I sometimes wonder how we can love each other more than we already do……and then I look at both of our parents who have been married for 50+ years and smile.

If you want to build long last relationships with your loved ones then my advice is to humble yourself to say sorry even when you don’t think you should.

Have a great weekend!

Battleframe

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Wolftalker
Men are dopes until about 40 years of age.
19 March 2017
mgilmour
I was really young.....and looked younger!
20 March 2017
mgilmour
Thanks for that!
20 March 2017
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