Archive for June, 2007

Jumpstarting Your Home-Based Business

Posted by at 28 June, 2007, 6:38 pm


I thought you’d enjoy this article. Summer months are a great time to reflect on your business. Plus so many are thinking of “holiday marketing.” Now is definitely the time for that. Thanks! — Diana Ennen

Can you believe it’s almost July already? The holidays will be here before we know it. Now is a perfect time to reflect on your business and see if it is all that it can be. Is it running at full speed and do you have all the clients that you need? If not, it’s time to get moving before the rush of the holiday season begins. At that time it gets too easy to say, “Well I’ll wait until next year to really get this business going.” Now is the time to look for those clients who need help with their holiday promotions. Now is the time to look for those clients who you can target with a “New Year” campaign. It’s also a great time to reconnect with ALL your clients and let them know how you appreciate them and perhaps how you can help them with other needs they may not even know you do. But of greatest importance, now is the time to say, this is my business and I’m going to make it SUCCESSFUL!!!

One of the first steps to take is to clearly define who you are and what your business stands for. I’ve seen too many businesses so scattered and going in so many directions that they have lost there clear focus. I speak from experience here. I have a tendency to take on too many projects or go off in too many directions. I then need to step back and reconnect to what I really want for my business. We work so hard to develop a niche and a reputation for being the best. However, it’s hard to be the best at too many things. Take a second and reflect on what you are the best at. Now write it down and decide if this is the direction that your business is currently going in. If not, it’s time to redirect and refocus.

Now that you’ve defined your business, where you want to go, you are ready to jumpstart it. It’s time to get active, get moving, and get reenergized.

1) First, you need to aggressively market your business. Read and research new things. Subscribe to newsletters and ezines from successful VA practices and other professionals. Read new books and find new tips.

2) Join the association that you’ve heard about by so many but haven’t made the commitment yet. Then start networking and ask — What are you doing to make your business successful? You’ll find that so many are glad to share that with you.

3) Get moving online. Take a look at your website and see if it is the best that it can be. The colors, the professionalism of the wording, everything about it would convince a client to work with them. Look to your site and spend the time to make it something that you can be proud of. Too often we throw together a website, just to have it done. Remember this can often be a client’s first impression of you. Is it selling you well?

4) Get your site listed. Research! Research! Research! What does it take to get to the top of Google where the clients will find your site. Are you on Yahoo Directories and different sources that businesses can see you? Spend an hour or so a day just to do this and see what a difference it can make in your business

5) Go looking for clients. If you specialize in real estate, then find out where you can find agents. Where are they online? That’s where you should be too.

Jumpstarting your business can be exciting and rewarding. Once you start seeing the results in your Paypal account and your business account starts getting bigger, you start doing this more often and finding ways to continue to do so. The results show it’s well worth taking the effort. Good Luck and Get Moving! **************

Diana Ennen,

Category : Virtual Assistant

Summer time blues

Posted by at 25 June, 2007, 5:42 pm

The girls are on a break from their “Mothers morning out” program, so there is A LOT of mommy-daughters time going on.? I know the program is only 9 hours a week, but I really think it’s just the break the 3 of us need.? I’m starting to feel like we are all driving each other crazy.? The girls are fighting more, mommy is a little more stressed, I’m trying really hard to keep them occupied with Story time at the bookstore, trips to the Aquarium, the Children’s Museum, and lots of crafts and cooking but I can’t help but feel like they might be getting sick of me!? As “mompreneurs”? we are always striving for balance with our work and our family and I can’t help but think that our children are also in need of balance between their work (work at being a kid) and family.? Maybe they are more edgy because they are used to a certain routine and since we are breaking from the “norm” they are acting out more.? Who knows!? I can figure out how to turn an idea into a physical product and bring it to market, but every single day I’m still baffled by the challenges of motherhood.? It really is the hardest job in the world… and even harder to do it “right”… whatever that means.? Boy oh boy, I hope I’m doing it “right”!?

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢?

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!


Posted by at 19 June, 2007, 6:13 pm

I am officially declaring my 2 year old potty trained!!!? We still carry the little potty around in the mini-van incase of emergencies but we have been accident free for about a week now!? Yeah!!!! ?

I received an email yesterday from my sourcing agent and he said we are a little ahead of schedule on the first samples.? I am so excited!? It still seems like a long road before me until I can get to selling, but I am plugging along over here…one slow, small step at a time.? It’s a pretty cool feeling!!!?

There has been some talk on the board about licensing and while I have a short explaining on the post, I figured I’d spend a LITTLE more time on the subject here.? As with most subjects, entire books are dedicated to licensing your product, so by all accounts this will still be a VERY abridged version of the topic, but it might shed some more light.? ?

To recap my post in case you missed it here is the gist of it, along with some added information.? If you are not interested in manufacturing your product yourself and building a business around it, licensing your product to an existing manufacturer is something to consider. A licensing partner is basically another company that you “sell” the rights of your IP / invention to.? The licensee will then develop and sell your product for you and in return you get a percent of sales or possibly an upfront sum or both. The initial steps for going the licensing route and manufacturing the product yourself, are still the same. The product or invention must not infringe on someone else’s IP, it really should be patent pending at least (a full patent will sweeten the deal) and you should be prepared to show working prototypes or at least engineered drawings. This is not always the case, but it is typical. Your licensing partner then “buys” the rights to your idea, patent, copyrights or trademarks, whatever it is that you have to sell. Licensing deals vary from industry to industry, but in general you can expect 1-5% of sales.? There are reports as high as 15% but that is not “typical”. There are so many nuances regarding negotiating the licensing agreement that I HIGHLY recommend an IP attorney that specialized in licensing help you with it.? To give you some things to think about, in your agreement are your royalties based on gross sales, net sales, gross sales minus returns, gross sales plus shipping minus taxes etc…? How will you protect yourself against “creative accounting” on the part of the licensee?? What kind of reports will you be entitled to review and how often? You should probably negotiate a minimum in case the licensee for whatever reason isn’t selling your product well or has put it on the back burner.? Are you going to give one company exclusive rights or will you leave yourself open to multiple licensees? ?(There are benefits to both)? ?If you receive an advance (which is common) is it truly an “advance” on royalties, meaning you are just receiving money you would have gotten in your monthly or quarterly check, but you choose to take a lump sum upfront or is it money “given” to you when you sign on the dotted line, no strings attached?? Both are common. ???

The dance between licensee and licensor is a complicated one, so I feel hiring a professional is money well spent.? Licensing one product is not the way to make millions. You might get a little check each quarter, but you certainly will not be rolling in the moola… okay, maybe not CERTAINLY NOT, but it’s highly unlikely.? Being a serial licensor however, is a great way to make good living! As with most things, you just have to be good at what you do, so if licensing your patented inventions is your thing, know your stuff, know your industry, present professionally, research research research and be the BEST!? ?

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢?

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!

So sorry, more UPC 101: GS1 vs Resellers, as I understand it

Posted by at 15 June, 2007, 11:30 am

Recently someone said to me “Why do I have to pay an “annual membership fee” to belong to the GS1?? Why wouldn’t I go with one of these website’s I see offering “real” GS1 UPC’s for as low as $89.00 or lower!?” ??Here is what I have to say about that…?

There is only organization that can issue “real” UPC’s specific for your company as the manufacturer, that is recognized by the GS1.? I’m not sure why you have to pay your moola every year, but you just do.? If you do not, your company prefix (and therefore your UPC’s) will be null and void.? The services they offer (and I’m just reading the stuff they gave me, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong… as a matter of fact, I REALLY wish I didn’t have to pay this every year) but included in your annual membership to the GS1 is:?

Unlimited tech support, UPC’s, a bunch of “supply chain” management stuff that I don’t understand yet because I’m not there, newsletters, access to the GS1 “online membership center” with resources for managing your supply chain practices, access to supply chain education opportunities and access to (with more $) the annual “U Connect” conference, which is the “one conference to learn about the supply chain best practices and business process solutions from successful companies of the GS1 US.? This year speakers include J. Alexander Douglas of Coca-Cola North America, Craig Herkert with Wal-Mart International division and Randy Mott of Hewlett-Packard”? (there are a bunch more, but this post is getting too long already… Sorry!) ?

Okay, that’s some of the stuff I got when I joined.? I’m not at the point in my biz where I see the value in all this yet, but I do know if I ever want to run with the big dogs, I don’t have a choice… I need my GS1 Company prefix to make my UPC codes or I don’t get in to the major retailers period.? I’m not agreeing with it, it’s just one of those necessary evils and expenses of being a manufacturer so plan for it.? It’s not going away and it’s not getting any cheaper.?

About the cheap UPC offers online, I’m no expert but this is my understanding of the UPC reseller thing.? It is possible that the cheap UPC offer may be the best decision for some product developers, inventors, and manufacturers so I’ll try to show both sides. In my case, going with the GS1 is my only choice, but it might not be for everyone.? ?

Here’s how the reseller/cheaper UPC thing works.? ?A UPC is made up of a 10 digit company prefix (which is yours and only yours) then you’ve got the rest (it is a little more involved then that, but for the purpose of this resell issue that’s all we need to know).? Resellers are most of the time members themselves of the GS1 so you are using their 10 digit company prefix.? They ?then can make tons of UPC’s and resell them.? When you buy wholesale UPC’s, they are “real” GS1 UPC numbers, but they will not represent you as the manufacturer in the eyes of the GS1 or the big retailers.?I don’t think there is anything illegal about the practice what-so-ever, BUT I don’t think you’ll get very far with your bigger players when you use them.?

A lot of these UPC websites are very careful in their wording, so just know what they are talking about.? I’ll give you some examples of claims made and then translate.

“XYZ company barcodes are UPC codes and they originate with the only legal source, GS1 (formerly know as the Uniform Code Council or UCC).”?

Yes, UPC codes are only issued from the GS1, so?they are “real”.
“XYZ Company’s UPC code is unique and GUARANTEED to be authentic. There is no danger of cross-over, duplication, or expiration of your barcodes.”?

Yes, if it is issued through the GS1, there is no chance of duplication, however I am not sure how they can say there is no danger of expiration because as soon as that company stops paying it’s annual membership or goes out of business the company prefix and every UPC code bought with that company prefix will be null and void.
“With XYZ Company you OWN your UPC barcode outright. It can be registered in your name and re-issued by you for future products once you have sold out or discontinued your current product.”?

Yes you?OWN the barcode because you bought it from a reseller.?As far as “registered”…?they don’t say it’s registered with the GS1.?

“With XYZ Company we even have a certificate available stating that the UPC numbers have been assigned by us to you and only you.”?

What is “a certificate”? And okay, so it’s a piece of paper saying “the UPC numbers have been assigned by us to you and only you”.? That’s probably EXACTLY what the certificate says.? I have a certificate saying I’m “Mother of the Year” from my 2 year old, but that doesn’t hold much water against my best friends… they too think they are mother of the year.? Unless you have THE “GS1 Company Prefix Certificate”, it’s about as good as my “Mother of the Year”…?Which is pretty fantastic if you ask me!!!?BUT Wal-mart cares as much about my Mother of Year as they do about XYZ’s assignment certificate.? ?I have actually heard of a large retailer asking for?your “Company Prefix Certificate”?and if you don’t have it, you’re out of luck.? ?

Today’s supply chain management and EDI stuff is so complicated and precise, if you’re not playing by the rules, you can’t play. ?Another thing to consider is let’s say I was a t-shirt manufacturer and I had Small, Medium and Large in 3 colors… at $89.00 a pop from a reseller, that’s 9 UPC’s I need.? Not a great bargain now.? One more thing to be aware of when going with a reseller is that sometimes these resellers go out of business and when they do, YOUR barcode is no longer valid and you have to start all over again.? ?

Having said ALL THAT, you can actually go your entire product life cycle without having UPC codes.? Online, specialty stores, local boutiques, no problem.? You will run into trouble as soon as you hit the big time and since I WILL be hitting the big time, this is a decision I have made for my business.?

I would like to reiterate,?there are times when it might be appropriate and even the “right” thing to do for some people.? For example if you only need 1 UPC because you want to get an item into a small individual retailer or an internet company, this probably would be the best way to go.? Just make sure you are aware of the limitations and potential problems.? MY choice is to go with the GS1 as it is required for my market.?? I have spoken with a reprehensive from the GS1 in gathering the above information (I have more if you’re interested) so if there is something you are not clear on, please email anytime!? ?That’s all for today class!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢?

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!

Hurt Me-I Can Take It!

Posted by at 15 June, 2007, 10:27 am

I have a lot going on…no question, but I just took on a major undertaking that has brought me into this dark place of wanting everything to be perfect! After several months of careful review and tracking of my web statistics and lots of feedback from customers and peers, I have come to realize that the website I had so carefully and lovingly nurtured was not meeting my needs. I have had the site for 2 years….it was my baby….i thought is was pretty-and so did everyone else….but it did not work at making me money!!!!

300-400 hits a day with TARGETED keywords…I have mastered SEO and feel confident in my abilities, but why am I STILL after 2 years only getting a couple of sales a week? I KNOW these people are coming to site looking for what I have…but why is my bank account then still empty?

Here is what I have found (through some painfuly honest feedback!):

-Just because YOU like you site doesn’t mean others will.

-Your site may be easy for YOU to use-after all you have seen it every minute of everyday for how many months now? Have you really figured our a navigation system that works? I cannot tell you how many people have made comments to me like”I wish you sold so and so….”….guess what, usually I DID sell so and so they just couldn’t find it! Learn about HOW your customers shop. Places like are really great about helping you find these “magical” words.

-IMAGES are the SINGLE most important thing to sell you products with the description pulling up right behind. It does not matter how flashy or pretty your site may be, if the pictures of your products do not showcase them at their best-your sales will suffer.

Funny thing is that I am a photographer too—and after really looking at my site I am almost embarassed of some of the images up there! I will do a post at some point about how to best photograph your images..there are a few tips and tricks out there to help you!

-Descriptions of the products MUST be witty and fun. This is where I really suffer-my mind is NOT good at writing….but I will be working hard at this one. I want my website to be FUN to read. I want my customers to imagine themselves with my products. Give them ideas of “alternative uses” and things like that. The layout of the description is just as important. I cannot tell you how many sites I have been to where the description is this one long paragraph that I have to sift through to get information-well I don’t ever actually do it…I jsut look for a website that is laid out easier for me!

These are just a few of the major things I am working on with my new website so I thought I would post them here to share and hopefully to get others to evaluate their websites with their “hardhats” on!

One thing I have learned is that I want TRUTHFUL responses to my requests for feedback. I think the Mompreneuers team is one of the best resources for honest feedback and it should be utilized! I have in the past given feedback to people only to be told my opinion was “wrong”….I NEVER look at any opinion as wrong…but I take all the opinions and combine them to see where I can strengthen my business.

So you know what….post a thread for a quick look at your site….you may be surprised to hear all the good stuff and your bank account may be much happier to hear about the not so good stuff!

We are all here for the same reason right…….to run SUCCESSFUL businesses! Now go to your own website and shop….what do you REALLY think…..

Category : Search Optimization | Websites

Balancing Work and Life is an Art

Posted by at 11 June, 2007, 9:25 pm

Since I’m finally getting back to writing a blog post again, it seems like balance is the perfect topic. Balance is an art that I work hard to master everyday, and that’s because it takes a lot of work. I’m sure I’ll forever being striving towards better balance, because just when I get the knack of something, something else changes.

I’ve tried numerous different work schedules, from late-at-night to early-in-the-morning. Those few hours while the kids sleep are usually very productive. But sometimes I’m too tired for the late nights OR the early mornings, and I opt for sleep instead. I tell myself there will always be work to be done, but if I let myself sleep, I feel stressed by the lost time.

There are two things that are working well for me right now. First, if I at least update my to-do list every night, then I feel prepared for the next day and it helps me to rest a little easier. I put the highest priority task at the top and work my way down each day. I mix all of my to-do’s on one list, from kid stuff to house stuff to business stuff. Anything that is my responsibility and HAS to get done goes on that list. I can’t believe how much it’s helping my sanity level.

The next sanity-keeper is devoting small spurts of time with each of my kids. I’ll even set the timer and tell them they each get to choose what we’re going to do for 5 minutes. It makes nice refreshing breaks for me, and makes me take those breaks. We all truly enjoy each other’s company, and just devoting those few minutes to my kids everyday has decreased all of our stress levels tremendously.

Even though I’m learning little tricks to help balance my work life with my family life, it’s still a struggle. In business, “fires” come up all the time, and in life “fires” come up all the time, so at times, it’s nothing short of nutty. Luckily, everything goes in phases, and there are times when things just flow.

Category : Blogging Mom

Being the sole provider

Posted by at 9 June, 2007, 8:49 am

About a year ago, we made the jump into self employment as our sole income stream. It was a huge decision, something I pushed much more than my husband, who was tired of his job (loved the work and employees, hated the boss) but was still worried about trying to live on just my business income. The idea was that I’d work and he’d tackle the home side of things, easing himself into the business little by little, until eventually we were partners.

Well, here it is a year later, and that hasn’t quite happened. Though he does help with the finances, he really doesn’t fit into that web business mold nearly as much as we had originally hoped. But it still really works out well – mostly because hubby is an incredible house keeper and is a terrific project manager, so I still have someone to run ideas by.

I’ve learned a lot from the experience too! Here are some of the key things I’ve discovered after making a business our sole income.

1. Insurance is expensive! We used to think we paid a lot when we had a hundred dollars a month taken out for health insurance. Wow, were we wrong! We pay nearly six hundred a month, and still don’t have great insurance. Needless to say, we’re looking at other options constantly.

2. Hubby is better than I am at housekeeping. I used to balance doing 90% of the housework, child care, errands, cooking, etc. with a full time business. Needless to say, we ate a lot of convenience meals and the closets were never organized. Hubby is a much better cook and does a better job keeping the house deep cleaned – because he has a lot more time for that sort of thing.

3. I feel jealous sometimes. As much as I hate to admit it, I do feel a little jealous that hubby’s main priority for the day is getting the laundry done, or he can head out to the park with our little girl while I have to stay back and work. He’s wonderful about talking to me about it, and thankfully that doesn’t happen often, but it does creep up. There’s a flip side too; hubby misses his career sometimes, and it’s hard on him when he talks to friends about their jobs, especially past co-workers.

4. There’s a lot of pressure. If something happens to my business, we could lose our house. That adds a whole set of stress to the mix! Of course, as hubby points out, I have backup plans and we do have some saved up just for this type of thing. Plus there’s no guarantees in any job – you could be fired after 20 years of service in a stable job. Life’s always a risk! Imagine how hubby must feel though – he’s banking our entire well-being off his wife’s work.

5. Family life is great. Hubby and I have always been very close. But being around him 24/7 is really awesome! We talk more than ever, are working as a team in discussing the business growth, and I feel a lot less alone now. Plus I’m there for our kiddo when she needs me, so I can spend the time helping her with math instead of worrying about getting dinner done.

It takes some getting used to when you make a business your sole income. And we’re still going through the ups and downs and learning what we need to do to make it work. But it’s a great experience, and I am really glad we moved in this direction.

Category : Programming Mom

UPC’s…All that hype for nothing!

Posted by at 8 June, 2007, 11:11 am

FINALLY I did my UPC codes…. OMG it was the easiest thing ever!!!? Once you download the data driver from disk to your computer…(thank you Dear Husband), all you have to do is plug in some info like packaging type such as box, bottle, tube, can etc…, input the packaging dimensions, packaging weight, pick a category for your product and you’re done!? Out spits a nice neat “Product Identification Detail Sheet” which has the assigned UPC number for that product.? That can be given to a printer to make UPC labels, or in my case, a packaging vendor so it can be printed right on the package.? WOW!? Talk about a lot of angst for nothing!? ?

This brings up an interesting topic… Fear.? Fear is a funny thing.? It paralyzes us at times from doing things in life and business that we feel we really want to do.? Conquering this fear of the unknown is what sets entrepreneurs apart.? Almost everyone has had a great idea, a new concept, a location in mind for the perfect store, a gadget that would make life easier, a vision of a product line, the list goes on and on.? The thing that stops most people from going any further then daydreaming is fear of the unknown.? To be an inventor or entrepreneur you have to overcome the fear of things of which you know nothing about.? Once you begin to put one foot in front of the other and actually take those steps towards making that daydream a reality, the unknown because knowledge and the fear dissipates.? ???

I can’t BELIEVE I was so worked up over something as silly as those silly UPC codes!

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢?

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!

What home-based business is right for you?

Posted by at 8 June, 2007, 5:58 am

Hi everyone!

As you know, I like to submit articles here to give you additional information on working from home and your mompreneur journey.? I get so many e-mails asking me “how to start.”? I love helping out and often find that just providing some of the basics (such as below), can get them started and on their way to success.? I hope you enjoy it too.? Thanks —

Home Based Business Success – Start Yours Today?

So many today want to start their own business and fortunately businesses are constantly looking for guidance.? One home based business I recommend is starting a word processing or virtual assisting business.? It can make a great work-at-home career and the potential just keeps getting better and better.? You will now find many famous authors, actors, businesses, and even political candidates beaming about how a virtual assistant is a must have for business success. In fact, in many books now, some are citing that having a virtual assistant is one of your most important keys to success.? ?Getting started is easy.? Fortunately, it’s not expensive either.? First of all you need a complete plan of action set out in advance.? This ensures that you don’t leave any vital steps unaddressed and will have a solid plan of action to succeed.? You don’t need anything technical, just how you plan to operate your business including advertising methods, pricing, business hours, equipment and supplies needed, goals, etc.? ?You want to clearly define your business.? There are so many different areas you can go into as a home based word processor or virtual assistant so you need to decide with your skills and your experience what is the best for you.? For example, do you want to do strictly word processing or do you want to do marketing too.? How about transcription?? I highly recommend considering that.? Most businesses today do dictate their work and now virtual assistants can transcribe dictation from anywhere in the world.? You’d be amazed how easy it is to learn too.? ?Now, that you have your business plan you need to decide on the name of your business.? One thing you need to make sure of is that you can legally have that name.? Often I’ve seen word processors start their business and just grab a name and call it their own.? That doesn’t work well when someone else has already chosen that name, registered it, perhaps trademarked it, and has been using it for years.? First check and make sure that no one already has it, then test it out.? Is it easy to pronounce when you answer the phone? Does it sell you well?? Does it limit you?? Five years from now will you still feel proud of that name? Try it out on friends and ask their honest feedback.? Also, go to the various boards and mention it too.? For such an important decision it’s worth the effort.? ?To operate a business you are required by law to have the appropriate licenses.? This is your permit to do business locally. It’s a simple procedure that doesn’t require a considerable amount of time.? Contact your city and county officials under occupational licenses for complete details or go online.? Most VAs start out initially as a sole proprietorship and then might change later into either an LLC or S Corporation.?Now it’s time to set up your bookkeeping. You will want to keep track of all your income and expenses.? Save all receipts and pay all your expenses out of your business checking account.? A software program such as Quickbooks is ideal for our type of business.? Not only does it allow you to keep accurate records, but it also enables you to track exactly where the most money is coming from.? This enables you to target your marketing efforts more in that area.?Now you must decide how much to charge.? Don’t undercharge your services.? The Virtual Assisting Industry is a very proud bunch and we want our clients and others to know that when you hire us, you are getting a professional and one capable of making your business better.?? Clients will pay well for making their business succeed.? Determine what is being charged in your area, but also take into account what you are bringing to the table.? When you offer specialty services such as web design or say expert proofing or publicity, you can charge more.?It is also important to have an impressive marketing piece. Your brochures, letterhead, flyers, business cards, etc., should look sensational.? I personally love VistaPrints at I can afford to get matching business cards, mailing labels, magnets, and even postcards cheap.? This makes me look more professional as I have everything the same layout and because it’s so reasonable, I even have different styles for different clients.?Now you need to get those clients. The key to successful marketing is to tell clients what benefits they will receive by answering their main question, “What’s in it for me?”? Keep in mind, you’re not selling your services, you’re selling the benefits of your services.? What can you offer them that would make their business run more successfully?? An example of this would be accurate dependable service done on an “as needed” basis.?? ?One of the most important things is to get a professional website.? This will enable you not only to get clients through your SEO efforts, but also to show your clients your services and everything about your business.? Look around at other word processing or virtual assisting websites and get some tips.? Don’t copy-just get ideas.? You can see mine at, Also, get listed on the various directories and with the various VA forums.? ?Now that you’ve got the clients, you need to keep them.? The best way to do this is to always provide them with more than they ask for.? Go the extra mile on all assignments.? Let them know that you value their business and are eager to help them succeed.? ?Wasn’t that easy?? If you’d like additional information on starting a business, e-mail me or stop by my website at I have free information available, such as a sample chapter of Virtual Assistant the Series, and marketing letters to send to clients, and also excellent books that can help you succeed quickly.


Diana Ennen is the author of numerous books including Virtual Assistant: the Series, Become a Highly Successful, Sought After VA and accompanying Workbook, (, Corel Word Perfect Office Ready, Virtual Assistant Solution Pack, and the President of Virtual Word Publishing Free to reprint article as long as the bio remains intact.

Category : Virtual Assistant

Sales vs. operations (a tale as old as time)

Posted by at 4 June, 2007, 11:26 am

We were on a potty roll for a few days there, but today our winning streak ended.? Thank goodness store owners are sympathetic to a mommy in need of an extra plastic bag or two!!!? ?

Today I received an email from my new sourcing agent.? As you know, not too long ago I put in my first
PO for my tooling and 100 samples of 1 design to insure the quality.? Today I got an email from Mr. New Sourcing Agent saying that the factory was concerned with the detail in the piece so they submitted via email a revised drawing of a simplified version of my design.? It was not acceptable.? I emailed him back explaining this and reiterating my needs both now and in the future for this product (which he is very well aware of).? Mr. NSA called almost immediately saying of course I was correct, that he completely understood, agreed and that he would get back to me tomorrow morning after talking with overseas.? Oh, not sure if I mentioned this, but with Mr. NSA my product will be made in Taiwan, not
China.? Regardless, due to the time difference, communication is always 1 day later.? I’m curious to see the outcome of this latest hurdle.?

This brings to mind a topic I think we can all relate to in any field.? Sales VS Operations.? In my previous career working for the same company for 9 years, I played for both teams, so I know that of which I speak.? The sales rep comes in and promises the customer that everything will be exactly the way they want it and then some. ??The order goes to operations and ops comes back and says, “We can’t do any of this, are you NUTS!”? What you get is usually something in between.? As inventors dealing with manufacturers this age old struggle is something you should be well aware of.? When trying to have a product manufactured, most of the time you are dealing with one of the manufacturer’s sales reps, be it a sourcing agent for an overseas OEM (original equipment manufacturer) or a domestic company directly.? You are usually not in contact with the person that is on the line doing the tooling, cutting the pattern, pouring the molds, wiring the circuits or sewing the stitch.? These people are indeed the experts, but it is also your job to educate yourself to some degree in the materials and processes that your invention involves.? Operations can probably do a little more then they say they can do, and sales probably can’t do EVERYTHING they say they can.? You need to have some sort of idea where that line should be.? When Mr. NSA forwarded me the new drawings from the factory, if I didn’t’ understand this dichotomy between sales and ops AND had not educated myself in metals and the various processes, I might have put my tail between my legs, hung my head low,? said “okay” only to find myself with a product I was not happy with.?? I don’t know much, but I do know enough to ask the right questions and when I get the answer, I can actually follow what they are saying.? You can’t be an expert at every aspect of the invention to market journey (nor should you, your time is better spent elsewhere) but you need to know a little bit about almost everything. ?Advice for the day:? Expect a little more out of operations then they are telling you they can do, and don’t believe 100% of everything your sales rep tells you.? If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know approximately where that line should be drawn.???

Leslie Haywood, Founder and President of Charmed Life Products, Inventor of Grill Charmsâ„¢?

Category : The Journey of Grill Charms!