Finding better ways: Gratitude and remembering the basics of business development

home alone
The "Home Alone" movie home -- at 671 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, IL (Wikipedia photo)

It’s a wonderfully quiet Saturday morning and I’m experiencing something rare in my life — a day home alone. Our son is visiting friends and my wife is taking a few days personal vacation in Montreal. It’s an unusual feeling for someone who has generally been with his family for most of the past quarter century — generally the only times I’ve been “alone” have been away, in the evening, perhaps during a business trip.

These quiet hours allow time for reflection and thankfulness. There have?been plenty of ups-and-downs in my life, but overall it’s been quite good so far, with the right combination of adventure, love, independence, security and creativity.

And that leads some messages about business development, as I strategize some initiatives and view the world’s changes.

There are new rules regarding online marketing and communications, and we should remember them carefully.

Last night, at 11 p.m., I decided to make some progress in the evolution of the “smart home” (we have a Google Home device in the family room now) by purchasing a couple of light sockets, which will then be controlled on-and-off for timers and the like by the intelligent home systems.

Fair enough. I picked my selection and then (shockingly) discovered that “next day delivery” would be free. Wait, it’s 11 p.m. on Friday night. Indeed, the package will arrive today, on Saturday.

Talk about instant gratification without needing to go anywhere near a crowded store . . . and you will realize the power of Amazon, Google, Facebook and the other online giants. You can elect to ignore these major forces, fight them, or align yourself with them.

I’ve chosen the latter, and am reaping the rewards, both in my personal investment account (with some GOOGL shares) and annual invitations to Google headquarters in California because I help out as a voluntary moderator on the company’s publisher’s ad serving forum.

The world is truly small: You should consider how you can connect diverse international elements to succeed locally.

A few minutes before writing this post, I put out a RFP assignment to fulfill a website design requirement for a client. I’m using a service called for this.? Prices for offshore support have increased significantly in the past three or four years — previously you could connect with talent, even after paying fees, sometimes for as little as .50 to $1.00 an hour. But I can still achieve results for fixed price and hourly paid tasks well below $5.00 CDN an hour, including high level IT and English writing responsibilities.

Does this work threaten competent Canadian or US employees or contractors? Not really, because the savings with offshore support allow me to contract with higher-priced talent here to handle jobs that need to be done locally, and still remain viable. Regardless of what you are doing, you should strategically consider offshore connections to achieve results.

If you don’t enjoy it, why are you doing it?

I realize not everything in life is fun and there are tasks that are simply work. And there are things we do that are work yet provide rewards that make the effort worthwhile. Take physical exercise for example. I can’t say it is “fun” to lift weights at the gym, and it certainly requires quite a lot of effort to cycle 30 to 50 km a day — but the rewards are worth the pain. Same for what I’ll be doing in a few minutes — raking the leaves and cutting the lawn as part of the autumn household preparations.

However, there are plenty of cases where it is folly to do the work yourself, and you should delegate/contract these tasks wherever possible. Almost always, if you manage your time and tasks right, you’ll have more freedom to do what you really want to do.

Finding business: Get systematic about it

It isn’t that easy to find new business, until you get your systems in place. You might use leads services; and find you are chasing to the bottom to rush to answer the initial tire-kicking inquiries. Or you might “rely” on repeat and referral business. This is easy enough to do, but sometimes the business doesn’t come when you need it the most.

The best approach to marketing is to build a program/system to generate a reasonable number of new leads to allow for growth and replacement of some of your old-time customers who will leave, along with a systematic program to induce repeat clients and foster referrals and testimonials. This takes some up-front effort and patience, especially in long-sales-cycle businesses like architecture, engineering and construction. But it pays off in the long-term.

There . . . a lengthy posting for a quiet Saturday morning, at home alone.

If you would like to get started on implementing any of these ideas, you can reach me at or through this link.

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