Baltimore and Business

How my time in Baltimore and nearby cities helped me understand business better

1.) Hustle

When I walked in the streets of Baltimore, I immediately noticed something different. There were people walking in traffic shouting something.

At first I didn’t understand what they said, but when I concentrated I heard the words “ice cold!”. It dawned on me that there were people selling ice cold water in the streets of Baltimore in the noon heat.

There were also more people that jaywalk in not so busy streets, and sometimes even busy ones. A friend of mine told me this “Time is more important than breaking a few rules”, and that stuck with me.

What I got: Time is a very finite resource that affects all of us, and it is up to us to utilize that resource or squander it. It reminded me that now is the time to improve my business and processes.

2.) An attitude of gratitude

I live in a place called Edmonton, Alberta which is located in the country Canada. The tap water here is fine tasting and certainly potable. (At least at the place I reside in)

When I drank filtered water at my friend’s place I tasted something like rust in the water even though it was already filtered.

What I got: It turns out that I take something like water for granted. But what of other things like my abilities, skills and talents? I took water for granted and it seems there are also very important things that I take for granted without an attitude of gratitude.

I will try to view my network, my business partner, my family and friends in a more thankful and appreciative manner.

3.) There are opportunities in places you might not see

In Baltimore my friend rents a place for $650 U.S dollars and he has a room mate who pays the same amount. The house is not that new nor is it a very big place, so I estimate the house to be worth around $50-80,000.

The total for rent results at $15,600. Let us take the highest price in my range of $80, 000 and divide the amount obtained from the renters.

80,000/ 15,600 = 5.13

So in 5 years you can pay your house already! I am not in real estate, but paying a house in 5 years of rent seems like an absolutely great deal to me.

There were also some small businesses near the place I stayed at that were still in business, which indicates that they were still making profit.

What I got: Try to contemplate once in a while about your business and what your market is in. There may be opportunities right in front of you that may not be obvious.

I will struggle to find new and current opportunities for my business.

4.) Culture changes quickly

There are some things that are the same in Baltimore as in Edmonton.

Things like language, similar food, and businesses like McDonald’s.

There are plenty of differences too, like how the english is spoken, used and the accent is not precisely the same.

The demographics were also different, but it was a welcome change for me. I did not have the luxury of staying for too long, but I would have liked to understand the culture there at a much deeper level.

All I can say for certain is that the culture and the people have their own quirks, just like in any place.

What I got: If you are expanding, or trying out a different market then be aware of the business nuances in that culture.

I will adjust Vidi Studios to fit more with the clients I want to deal with rather than just anyone I come across.

5.) Adapt with the trends

There were places I visited besides Baltimore.

One of which was Annapolis, which was just a 45 minute drive from Baltimore.

But it was very different. The place had the small town feel, which was to be expected from a place with only around 39,000 people. The people that I saw also seemed to have a more relaxed pace than in Baltimore.

Another place I visited was Washington, DC; also a 45 minute drive from Baltimore.

It was my first time there and I was quite surprised at the sheer amount of activity. There was some kind of festival thing near the white house and there were these people who called themselves Juggalos.

We didn’t even come to look at the white house because something was going on there with many more people.

What I got: You will have clients that are very different from yourself and it is up to you to adjust yourself to them. Just like how people’s attitude change you will also benefit from becoming adaptable and swift in business.

Final thoughts: I really liked Baltimore. There are some things that aren’t as great as I would like, but there are also things that I like.

Keeping your eyes open and thinking about business seems like a never ending quest. I thank my friend that I stayed with because I had a great time overall at your place.

5 Ways to market you or your business without breaking your bank

5 Ways to market you or your business without breaking your bank

Written by: Tim Ulidan | Co-founder of Vidi Studios

First, let me get some definitions out of the way. What do I mean when I say market?

Marketing: the methods used by a business or entrepreneur to attract more customers.

Before you roll your eyes and say: “another click bait content”. I say this to you: the ways covered here are easily usable and implementable. I will not write about email marketing, telemarketing, television marketing, video marketing… you get the point.

What I hope you will get from this is some new insight or perspective once you get back to building your business.

As a side note, you can choose to use one, two or all of them for your business. The ways discussed here are independent of one another, although some are closely related.

Without further ado, the five ways to market your business are:

1.) Prepare

“Why bother about the winter?” said the Grasshopper, “we have got plenty of food at present.”

-Taken from The Ant and the Grasshopper, by Aesop

If you haven’t read the fable above, let me spoil it for you; The grasshopper died.

I hear this a lot.

“Why invest?” | “Why bother having a plan?” | “Why bother preparing?”

Preparation can mean success or failure for your business.

From my experience, it is difficult to prepare for something that is not specific enough or clear enough. It is your job to find out the best course of action for your business. If I remember correctly, it was Peter Drucker who mentioned the three major challenges for businesses: Change, Complexity, Competition

Find out which of these three challenges is most relevant to you and craft a strategic plan based on that knowledge.

Preparation can help mitigate the threats that strike at your business, even when you least expect them. All it takes is pen and paper.

Suggestions/hints

  • Look at the current technological trends and adapt accordingly
  • Build a brand versus being a follower
  • Think like a military commander

2.) Simplify

“Physical Exercise Prevents Stress-Induced Activation of Granule Neurons and Enhances Local Inhibitory Mechanisms in the Dentate Gyrus”

-Title of a study in Journal of Neuroscience

I don’t know about you, but my brain pressed the snooze button after “Granule”. A simpler title, my version, sounds like this: Exercise helps brain against stress.

How simplifying is useful for your business:

No sleeping person has ever bought anything from me.

Ask yourself one question: “Does my audience get what I am saying?” If not, then there is much work to be done. In the book, Made to Stick, a formula for simplification was:

Simple= Core(idea) + Compact(message)

The bracketed words were added by me. I do know that not all messages need to be simplified, and certain standards met. It is your choice on which messages you want to be simplified.

In my opinion, simplifying is key in communication especially if you know your target audience. Once again, this only takes pen and paper at first.

Suggestions/ hints
  • Simplify does not mean water down
  • Take your time when trying to shorten a message
  • Take walks to clear your mind

3.) Connect

One day I felt a vibration in my pocket, I accepted the call and hear:
For privacy, I’ve taken the liberty of changing the caller’s name.

Caller: Hello sir, how are you doing today?
Me: I’m good
Caller: My name is Nems and I am calling on behalf of TD insurance
Me: …(I know where this is going)…. OK .. (Find an excuse HURRY!)

**Hangs up because excuses take too much effort**

Long story short, Nems attempts to use a scripted sales spiel on me while saying I absolutely needed insurance.

Have you ever had telemarketers call you before? What did you feel? I know not all telemarketers are like that, but I usually just get irritated whenever one calls. I have to be honest with you, I sometimes want to take all of my money away from TD and dump it at a competitor’s place just because of that one phone call.

Connecting with your customer appropriately can make or break a sale.

I’m sure that telemarketer who called me wanted to connect. The problem is the connecting part, sometimes the whole well gets poisoned because of very few incidents.

Try to use pull tactics, when it comes to your communication, instead of push. Connecting the right way can help you attract recurring customers. The connecting part starts with you first, and then your team later.

Suggestion/ hints
  • Listen in an active way
  • Try to rephrase and clarify with your interlocutor eg. “If I get it correctly, what you meant was ….”
  • Always provide an exit strategy eg. “Did I catch you at a bad time?” or “Hi, my name is so and so. I’d like to talk to you about stuff do you have a minute?”
  • Empathize, imagine if you were the one on the other side of the conversation

4.) Be genuine

Here’s another story of mine that happened at the end of 2016. Again I’ve changed the name of the person to protect their privacy.

Me: Hey Zelk, have you tried the shoulder press exercise?
Zelk: No.
Me: That combined with a good dumbbell weight is helpful to gain strength.
Zelk: I might come over sometime and workout at your basement.
Me: Bang on! I look forward to that.

It is now May of 2017 and Zelk has never come to exercise with me. I am sure you know someone like Zelk. Someone who just says something for the sake of saying something.

What did it make you feel when someone didn’t follow through? For me, I feel salty when I remember AND it sticks to my memory like glue.

Being genuine helps you build something as priceless as reputation.

Genuineness encompasses the full length and breadth of your company. It means all of your staff members must also be genuine. It also means being truly genuine because integrity is a very popular word nowadays.

People buy more from those they know, like and trust. Being genuine helps build that trust. Start with an ideal and then work from there.

Suggestion/ hints
  • Mean what you say and say what you mean
  • Keep a daily planner and be very rigorous with it
  • Do not promise what you can not deliver

5.) Act

Fill in the blank. “I will start a business if I __________.”

– Common excuses 2017

If you have read this far, I congratulate you. This section will be the shortest of the five. The excuse I gave way back in the day was: ” I will start a business if I knew how.” Fast forward that to now (May 2017) and I am still struggling with the “how” part.

How can action be useful for your business?

Nothing happens when you don’t move.

If you own a business, you probably know that it is very difficult. What I can tell you with certainty; however, is that moving and making mistakes changes you in a fundamental way. Thus far, I have gotten better at speaking, organizing and task managing since starting business and it is likely that I will gain new skills in the near future.

Doing something will let people know of you and your business, it’s scary at first but you will get used to it with time. Big actions can be divided into smaller moves, and those small moves are what matters.

Suggestions/ hints
  • Start small
  • Write down what happens everyday with relation to business
  • Evaluate what happens in your business consistently

Conclusion

I hope you have learned something from this, and if I do meet you in person I would be glad to help your business. I think there is something you can use here, whether you are a solopreneur, or a team of one hundred.