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controlling your in box

Technology is supposed to make life easier, but it doesn’t seem that way when you’re struggling to wrangle 289 new e-mail messages, dealing with a hard-drive crash, or suddenly realizing that you left an important file on the office computer. Thankfully, plenty of tools can help. We’ll tell you which ones are worth trying, and we’ll also suggest some practices that you can incorporate into your workday to use tech tools more effectively and efficiently.

Beat e-mail overload once and for all by emptying your inbox completely–and keeping it that way. The “Inbox Zero” philosophy says that e-mail messages are just calls to action–not clutter that we need to hang on to. Create three folders or labels in your e-mail client: Action, Later, and Archive. Each day when you check your e-mail, make a decision and do something with every new message you’ve received until you’ve moved them all out of your inbox and reduced your message count down to zero. Ruthlessly delete the messages you don’t need, on the spot. Respond to the ones that will take under 2 minutes. File messages that you want to keep for future reference in the Archive folder, those that will take longer than 2 minutes to reply to in Action (and add those to-do items to your list), and messages you need to follow up on at a subsequent date (such as Amazon shipment notifications) in Later. Then breathe a sigh of relief when you see that glorious declaration: ‘You have no new mail.’

small business get a leg up in health insurance

Rep. Don Cazayoux (D-La.) on Thursday promoted a bill (HR 6210) that would allow the establishment of statewide or nationwide health insurance purchasing pools for small businesses and self-employed individuals, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports.

The Small Business Health Options Program would provide small businesses with annual tax credits of as much as $1,000 per employee, or $2,000 per family, provided that the companies cover more than 60% of the cost of health insurance premiums for workers. In addition, the legislation would provide self-employed individuals with annual tax credits of as much as $1,800 per employee, or $3,600 per family (Chacko, Baton Rouge Advocate, 8/8). Under the bill, health insurers could not increase premiums in the event that small-business employees become ill or file more claims. The legislation also would establish a Web site to allow the comparison of information about various health plans (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 6/11).

Cazayoux, one of the more than 45 co-sponsors of the bill, said that the legislation would reduce health insurance costs for small businesses through the expansion of risk across a large pool of employees. According to Cazayoux, small businesses on average pay 18% more than large companies for the same level of health insurance for employees. He added that small-business owners, employees and their dependents account for more than 28 million of the almost 47 million uninsured U.S. residents

an great example of network marketing

The divide between presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama doesn’t end with years and ideology. It also exhibits itself through the Internet. According to an MIT Technology Review article written by David Talbot, Barack Obama has managed to create the best online political machine the nation has ever seen. John McCain, on the other hand, doesn’t use email.

Highlights from the article:

Many of the 2008 candidates had websites, click-to-donate tools, and social-networking features. But the Obama team put such technologies at the center of its campaign–among other things, recruiting 24-year-old Chris Hughes, cofounder of Facebook, to help develop them.

(During the crucial Texas primaries), 104,000 Texans had joined Obama’s social-¬networking site, http://www.my.barackobama.com, known as MyBO. The month before, the freshman senator from Illinois had set a record in American politics by garnering $55 million in donations in a single month.

McCain’s site is ineffectual for social networking. In late June, when (the author) tried to sign up on McCainSpace–the analogue to MyBO–he got error messages. When he tried again, he was informed that he would soon get a new password in my in-box. It never arrived. “His social-networking site…was very insular, a walled garden. You don’t want to keep people inside your walled garden; you want them to spread the message to new people.”

Social networking has already proven itself to be the early 21st Century’s great equalizer. Could it effectively be expanded to the White House? I hope so.

I also hope that big corporations like GE and AT&T embrace social networking as a means to dialogue with their customers. Can you imagine a customer service desk where issues and solutions are displayed on Twitter? Or a government that networks in its citizens above and beyond sterile updates?

It could be a different world. But in the meantime, it’s all about politics.

society of word of mouth conference

Minimum wage went up today

The federal minimum wage increases by 70 cents on Thursday, to $6.55 per hour from $5.85. The increase is the second of three increases to take effect under legislation enacted last year that raised the minimum wage after it had remained unchanged at $5.15 an hour for nearly a decade. The increase will raise the minimum wage in 25 states; the other 25 have minimum wages higher than $6.55.

resources on small business blogs

Small Business Blogs

It stands to reason that budding businesspeople would be attracted to Weblogs, those do-it-yourself publishing sites that embody the very spirit of entrepreneurism. What do blogs add to the small-business dialogue that a whole host of magazines, cable channels and Web sites don’t? In addition to transmitting news, industry gossip and occasional rants, the best small business blogs offer interactivity, allowing readers to chime into the dialogue with their own bright ideas. There are, unfortunately, too many small business blogs peddling the same prosaic resources you can get from a simple google search. The better ones at least offer fresh insight on the mundane and first-hand accounts from the entrepreneurial front lines. — Lea Goldman


Forbes Favorite – Forbes Favorite Forbes Best of The Web pick – Forbes Best of The Web pick
Read our Review for: Visit:
Duct Tape Marketing Forbes Favorite www.ducttapemarketing.com/weblog.php
All Business Blog Center Forbes Best of The Web pick www.allbusiness.com/blog/metablog.asp
Church of the Customer Forbes Best of The Web pick customerevangelists.typepad.com/blog
Fresh Inc Forbes Best of The Web pick blog.inc.com
Small Business Trends Forbes Best of The Web pick www.smallbusinesses.blogspot.com
BusinessWorks businessworks.blogspot.com
Entrepreneurial Mind forum.belmont.edu/cornwall
Small Business Brief www.smallbusinessbrief.com

marketing the invisible

The transformation from a manufacturing-based economy to one that’s all about service has been well documented. Today it’s estimated that nearly 75 percent of Americans work in the service sector. Instead of producing tangibles–automobiles, clothes, and tools–more and more of us are in the business of providing intangibles–health care, entertainment, tourism, legal services, and so on. However, according to Harry Beckwith, most of these intangibles are still being marketed like products were 20 years ago. In Selling the Invisible, Beckwith argues that what consumers are primarily interested in today are not features, but relationships. Even companies who think that they sell only tangible products should rethink their approach to product development and marketing and sales. For example, when a customer buys a Saturn automobile, what they’re really buying is not the car, but the way that Saturn does business. Beckwith provides an excellent forum for thinking differently about the nature of services and how they can be effectively marketed. If you’re at all involved in marketing or sales, then Selling the Invisible is definitely worth a look.

From Library Journal
“Don’t sell the steak. Sell the sizzle.” In today’s service business, author Beckwith suggests this old marketing adage is likely to guarantee failure. In this timely addition to the management genre, Beckwith summarizes key points about selling services learned from experience with his own advertising and marketing firm and when he worked with Fortune 500 companies. The focus here is on the core of service marketing: improving the service, which no amount of clever marketing can make up for if not accomplished. Other key concepts emphasize listening to the customer, selling the long-term relationship, identifying what a business is really selling, recognizing clues about a business that may be conveyed to customers, focusing on the single most important message about the business, and other practical strategies relevant to any service business. Actor Jeffrey Jones’s narration professionally conveys these excellent ideas appropriate for public libraries.?Dale Farris, Groves, Tex.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. –This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.