Category: DIY Business

Should You Hire a Professional Organizer or Do It Yourself?

A lot of people ask me if it’s really worth hiring a professional organizer or if you’re better off doing it yourself.

Both are valuable options, but either way you should understand the specific steps and strategies to having a more organized home, making little changes gradually to simplify life at home.

Well at first glance having someone do things for you can certainly seem better than doing it yourself. But there are some big IF’s that need to be considered.

Remember, you are typically going to pay by the hour (the going rate for a professional organizer can range anywhere from $35 to $250 an hour. So you have to be selective in which small part of the process they’ll help you with.

Just a few weeks ago I got an email from a customer of mine who recently hired a professional organizer and paid her for a full day.

And all she did was hang pictures for 8 hours!

Which brings me to another point … how do you know, once the service is complete, you are going to be satisfied or if you are even going to be able to maintain organization beyond a week, a month or a year from now?

Now here’s the thing.

If you really, really want to make changes to the way you live in your home, you need to start living your life a little differently.

You should be able to manage your “stuff” and understand what it really takes to start enjoying the benefits of home organization.

Learn what it takes to get organized from the inside-out and discover the basic and simple rules of home organization so you can enjoy more time, more space and a better, happier life at home.

Then, even if later down the road you decide to hire someone to help you, you will be more knowledgable, you will understand the process more and — combined with a few changes — you will be living in an organized home before you know it.

No budget for PR? Do it yourself with the help of technology!

Not so long ago, small businesses and non-profit organizations across the board were faced with a tough question: do we need a Web site? We know the answer to that as the majority of small businesses and non-profits offer effective sites that not only provide information but can sell products, accept online donations, and raise awareness.

The new question facing them now is: Do we need to hire a PR agency?

Unfortunately, though many small businesses and organizations would like to retain a PR firm, the cost just doesn’t fit into the budget. Well, that doesn’t have to be the case. Small businesses and non-profits can manage their own media relations with the help of a few tools of the trade.

Online Press Kits: Everything a business or organization’s press kit contains can be published and distributed on the Internet with online press kits. Now, an online press kit is not a Web site. Don’t be confused by the term “online.” Though an online press kit can be displayed online and present information like a Web site, it is really a virtual folder or briefcase that allows an organization to upload and store press materials on the Internet.

Once in an online press kit folder, these documents and images can be distributed as links – not attachments to e-mails. Most e-mails with attachments never reach their designated recipient in the media due to firewalls and anti-virus protection services. With an online press kit, documents are added as links within the message.

An online press kit can be linked directly to a Web site so that when the media visits in search of news and background information, they’ll know exactly where to go. Changes and edits can be made instantly, preventing outdated or incorrect information from being distributed. Plus, some online press kit services are so simple to use and manage; an organization won’t need to hire an “IT guy,” another budget-friendly feature.

Online press kit services vary greatly in terms of price and features. Take some time to research your options and identify your needs before committing to one service over another. Some services include features you probably will never use (but pay for), while others may not provide enough services, such as training or support.

Web-based Media Lead Services – One of the greatest benefits of the Internet is the ability to rapidly obtain information. What used to require a hard copy media guide or CD is now available from a number of providers online. An organization can reach virtually hundreds of thousands of media contacts with one click by listing spokespeople as experts, offering timely quotes on current events, or responding to the hundreds of media leads that come in daily from journalists on deadline. There are many providers out there that vary in cost and quality. It is worth the time and effort to do some research on which service is best for your budget and your needs. Some services are even free. Services that are used by the most media professionals will likely cost more than ones with lower membership.

Web-based Media Databases – Your business or organization has hot news and you want to let every daily newspaper in the country know about it. First, you must visit each paper’s Web site individually, record their contact information, compile a list and then blast that news out there. However, by the time you did that, your news would be at least a month old. Ouch.

Media databases to the rescue. There are many services available online that provide up-to-date media lists from every medium and market you can imagine. Most require a membership or subscription fee, but it is well worth the money if the alternative is to compile a list manually. Services of this type include BurrellesLuce Media Contacts program (www.BurrellesLuce.com), Bacon’s (www.Bacons.com), and Contacts on Tap (www.ContactsOnTap.Com).

Press Release Distribution Services – Got a press release that the world needs to see? You could compile the list as we mentioned above (the hard way), or use a media database – but you could also leave it to the experts and submit your release to a distribution service, or “wire.” There are many services available at various costs. One service is PR Web (www.PRWeb.com) which not only can run your release for free (limited distribution), but allows you to specify Internet search terms, making the release easily accessible to Web users.

The media savvy and expertise of media relations professionals is worth the money, but when the money just isn’t there, small businesses and non-profit organizations can tap the talent they have within and combine it with technology designed to make communication easier.

If you need some help developing your press documents, take a look at the press kits of other businesses or organizations in your area. There are also many Internet resources available that can provide tips to writing your own press releases and news announcements.

Managing media relations in-house is not impossible and can be a fantastic way to reach the media as a small business or organization grows.

Do It Yourself Sales Tools

After falling in love with the Hipster PDA and Levengers Shirt Pocket Briefcase,I started becoming more and more dependent on 3″ by 5″ index cards. They are great for note taking on the go and keeping organized at my desk, so I naturally started thinking of ways to use the cards to automate my sales process. From this, the “3X5″ was born. I may not be the first person to use index cards in this way, but I do think a lot of salespeople will find the system easy to use and very effective.

You will need the following items to create your own 3X5 sales tool. I found everything I needed at my local Staples and everything cost me around $25.00.

* A box to store the index cards
* Monthly 3″ by 5″ index tabs
* Daily (1-31) 3″ by 5″ index tabs
* Alphabetical 3″ by 5″ index tabs
* A ton of white ruled 3″ by 5″ index cards
* A bunch of colored 3″ by 5” index cards
* A small case to carry cards in your pocket

Once you have purchased the required supplies, you can organize your 3X5. For the sake of simplicity, let’s assume that you are assembling your 3X5 on January 1st. If this is the case you would first organize your tabs in the order below (front to back):

* January tab
* Daily tabs 1-31
* February – December monthly tabs
* A-Z alphabetical tabs
* Blank index cards – white and your favorite color

All of your cards should now be in the file box and the first thing you should see is the January tab.

Next, you should start creating cards for your leads. In the beginning, this is going to take some time (assuming you have a lot of leads). I use white cards for leads and colored cards for my customers. You can do whichever you prefer, but I think it is helpful to break down leads and customers.

The system works like this.

Let’s imagine it is January 1st. and you attend a networking event where you meet a potential client. You get this lead’s business card at the event and you want to contact him/her on the 2nd., so when you get to your office, you staple the leads business card to a white index card and drop it behind the “2” tab and then go home for the day. After all, it is new years day and you have been working hard to create your new sales system and you attended a networking event.

So, you arrive at work on January 2nd. and open up your 3X5. The first thing you should do is move the “1” tab back behind the February tab. You will always be rolling the system forward like this, so that the first tab you see in the box represents the most current month, then the most current day.

Now, you go to the tab for today (Jan 2nd.) and find the card for the lead that you met at the networking event yesterday. You call the lead and learn that he/she is out of town until January 6th. so you make a note which says, “1/2/05 – Mr. Lead is on vacation till 1/6”. Now you drop the card behind the “6” tab for the month of January.

You will continue to roll this lead forward in the system, making notes at each step, until the lead either turns into a customer or asks you to leave them alone.

When the lead turns into a customer, I staple their business card to a colored card and place it behind the appropriate alphabetical tab. If their is another opportunity with this client, I move the colored card back to the dated section and move them through the process again.

Of course, as you add more people to your pipeline, you might not get to contact everyone on the day you have them slotted for. Just move them to the next day’s slot at the end of the current day so you contact them tomorrow.

You will not want to carry around a huge metal box full of index cards, which is why you want to have a small index card wallet or box, so if you are going to be on the road or out of the office, you can simply grab your cards for the day and go.

Not just for salespeople.

While the system is great for salespeople, it also is a great tool for those of us who are focusing on networking. I actually use three different colored cards and use white for leads, blue for clients and red for my networking contacts (patriotic, I know). On the red cards, I write either 7, 14, 30, 45, 60, etc in the upper right hand corner of the index card to remind myself how frequently I want to contact the person, so I simply move the card forward based on the number on the card. If I want to contact someone every seven days, I move the card ahead a week after I make contact.

This really ties in well to Keith Ferrazzi’s book Never Eat Alone, which recommends you regularly ping your network. By the way, if you have not read the book, you should. You can get book notes for free from the Never Eat Alone blog.

Options / Enhancements.

I have been considering adding daily tabs to each month so that I can move people ahead to a any specific date (IE. August 11Th.) in the future.

You could also keep some sticky tabs handy so you can add a tab to the top of any index card for the contacts birthday. If you do this, you could just put an August tab on the card for every contact whose birthday is in August so you could quickly compile a birthday list each month. Again, this is probably overkill and you could probably just add the contacts name to a calendar and keep it separate, but what fun is that?