Subscribe to our Newsletter for first access to:
* New arrivals, catalogues, and special sales
* Upcoming book fairs (plus free or discounted passes!)
* Book collecting news
* Rare book trivia
We send our newsletters once per month.
Subscribe to our Newsletter for first access to:
* New arrivals, catalogues, and special sales
* Upcoming book fairs (plus free or discounted passes!)
* Book collecting news
* Rare book trivia
We send our newsletters once per month.
Ahh, year end… time to run your profit-and-loss statement, tidy up expense logs, and otherwise close the financial book on your 2012 year. While traditional accounting gives us practical ways to evaluate our performance, the numbers don’t always show the whole picture. Schedule a year-end meeting with yourself to review your successes and failures. Here are some ways you can make the most out of a year-end evaluation:
1) Make a List of Your Accomplishments – Maybe a new location in a risky area did not perform well, but its mere survival was your year’s biggest success. Your register won’t reflect this, but achievements like these are just as important for your long-term success. Take the time to revisit these triumphs, and make sure to share this list with your co-workers and staff. Recognize them for their contributions and motivate them for the coming year.
2) Evaluate the Effects of the Unexpected – A chance encounter with a new client, the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy…every year brings something you could not have predicted. These events account for huge changes in your revenue, but they can also help you troubleshoot your business practices. Increase your odds of landing those big deals by understanding the circumstances that led up to them. Make necessary changes after a calamity. And no matter the impact, you now have more experience under your belt and can be better prepared for the future.
3) Learn From Others’ Mistakes – Is there something that another company does that drives you crazy? Examine the practices of other businesses and brainstorm ways they could improve. Then apply these changes to your own business. As a young company starting up, this was something we did on a regular basis. We considered all the ways other businesses treated us, and identified what made us feel valuable and what made us feel trampled upon. We developed our customer service policy from there. Learning from your own mistakes is crucial, but pay attention to the examples all around you.
4) Examine Your Customer Service – Your treatment of customers and clients is easily the most important thing about your business. Identify your best and worst customer service moments over the past year. Was there a complaint that was never remedied? How can you apply lessons from your biggest success to all of your customers? For more details on evaluating your customer service, see my other posts here: 5 Ways to Improve Your Customer Service, Building Relationships for Your Business.
Your registers and analyses will tell you what worked and what didn’t, but not necessarily why. Reflecting on your past year can give you the insight you need to understand 2012 and think creatively for 2013.
* Click here for our electronic catalogue
* Email or call if you’d like to receive a copy in the mail –
firstname.lastname@example.org * (646) 652-6766
We are exhibiting at both Boston Fairs!
36th Annual Boston International Antiquarian Book Fair
Sponsored by the ABAA – Booth #126
Hynes Convention Center, 900 Boylston Street.
Boston Book Print & Ephemera Show
"The Shadow Show"
Back Bay Events Center, 180 Berkeley Street.
We hope to see you at one or both!
Our business increased its sales by 400% this year on Small Business Saturday. This isn’t typical; our rare book company doesn’t normally benefit from promotions, and our website sale last year was a flop. We are obviously delighted with the success, but also eager to understand it. What went wrong last year? How can we continue to use the Small Business Saturday event to our advantage?
We realized that we didn’t put any thought into last year’s web sale. We were a small business merely mimicking a large retailer’s Black Friday event. We didn’t customize it to our needs, and it failed.
Taking a day off from business as usual gave us the opportunity to assess our business’s strengths and weaknesses. We came up with multiple promotions, different sales and marketing techniques, and then chose the ones we believed would work the best.
Here’s how you can tailor a Small Business Saturday event to meet your needs:
1) Think About Your Customers – Before you announce your promotion or sale, think about your audience. Who are you trying to sell to? New customers looking for deals, or current customers that you can reward for their loyalty? If your pitch is attractive for your intended audience, you’re more likely to get results.
2) Think About Your Advertising – How will everyone find out about your promotion? For some, the use of Facebook and Twitter will be helpful. Networking with other retailers or people in your community will help others. The delivery of your message will be crucial to its success.
3) Try Something New – Is offering deep discounts or complimentary services scary to you? If the answer is yes, then do it anyway. The deals we offered for SBS were definitely not things we would do year-round, but for one day, we were willing to try something different. Again, it worked: our sales increased, as did traffic to our website, and we were able to connect with customers that we hadn’t heard from in a while.
4) Try Some Variety – This is a “Something for Everyone” approach. As you’re thinking about your customers, remember that a variety of promotions could appeal to more people. For us, it helped to view Small Business Saturday as an experiment: we tried multiple strategies with the hope that a few would work. We will repeat the successful ones next year, and try again to think of new ones.
5) Create Urgency – In this respect, what works for retailers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday can also work for you on Small Business Saturday. Decide how long your promotion will last, and make sure that your customers know too. The psychology behind supply and demand can work to your advantage.
The concept of Small Business Saturday is brilliant: increase revenue for small businesses, while raising awareness for these entrepreneurs and their communities at the same time. The event is gaining traction every year—make it work for you and get a piece of the Holiday Sales pie.
As small business owners working in lower Manhattan, we’ve spent the month recovering from Superstorm Sandy. We were without power, heat, and plumbing for a week, but we count ourselves lucky. We thought we would tough it out— until Day 3 when we lost cell service and realized that things were much worse than we could have imagined. We decided to flee, if we could. We dreamt of a faraway land with cell towers, hot showers, and fresh food. After a long hike, we realized this fabled kingdom was just above 40th Street. We crossed the Great Divide, made contact, and figured out a plan.
We ended up at the house of a generous colleague—another bookseller who, along with his equally generous family, put us up and let us charge our many iThings. While we warmed up, contacted our loved ones, and even (gasp!) got some work done, the following points occurred to me:
Lesson One: Have Insurance.
Like other business owners, the number one thing we worried about outside of our health and safety was the safety of our inventory. As we made our escape to higher ground, I had visions of our rare books floating away. Melville’s Moby Dick and Conrad’s Nostromo drifting into the distance until they were ripped apart by the whitecaps. Knowing our insurance was up-to-date and accurate, I was able to relax a bit. Truth be told, we didn’t always carry insurance. As a fledgling company with limited start- capital, we were keen up to save money any way that we could. We came to our senses when we realized the premiums were such a small price to pay to ensure that a disaster wouldn’t bankrupt us. If you’re still skeptical, ask for recommendations from colleagues. And pay heed to any and all “Uninsured Horror Stories”.
Lesson Two: Listen to the Powers That Be.
The day before Sandy hit, we didn’t take the threat too seriously. It wasn’t until we learned of the expected 12-foot storm surge and Zone A had been evacuated that we started to prepare. By this time, supplies at local stores were already starting to dwindle. We picked up a few more emergency items, but knew we would ultimately have to make do with what we had. We gathered blankets, collected our flashlights, batteries, and candles into a bin, and put all of the food into the freezer. Then we hunkered down prepared for the worst.
Lesson Three: Rely on Your Relationships – Colleagues.
When we regained cell service, we had half a dozen messages from business associates offering us places of refuge. It was a wonderful feeling knowing that they were thinking of us and willing to help out. It was also beneficial to stay with a colleague who understood exactly what we needed to do for work. After three very long work days in exodus, we sent our new catalog to press, partnered up on a new collection of books, and signed up to share a booth with another firm at an upcoming trade show. Out of all the trauma and destruction, I remembered how powerful we all are when we work together.
Lesson Four: Rely on Your Relationships – Customers.
We also received quite a few calls from customers. As a business that relies on the strength of our relationships, these were just as powerful and touching as the calls from our colleagues. Whether selling or not, every contact with a customer strengthens the relationship.
Lesson Five: Give Back.
Having survived Sandy, we are lucky to be able to donate our time, resources, and money to the relief effort. And in the event of another disaster, we would readily open our doors to displaced colleagues or friends.
Preparing for a disaster is more than just collecting supplies. Keeping your financial records and business relationships in good order will help you to get you back on your feet faster. November has been a lean month thus far, but again, we count ourselves lucky. And I know we can rely on our loyal customers for a stronger December.
One customer, one deal, or one sale can sometimes be the difference between a good month and a bad one. As a business owner, I was reminded of this a few weeks ago when a new client called to order an expensive item. Sales like this usually happen with a customer we’ve worked with for a long time, but it’s always exciting when it happens by phone or email sight-unseen. Seemingly out of nowhere, it’s a reassuring to know that our online campaign is working.
The client was considering our first edition of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice ($60,000) and would call back at the end of the day to confirm the order. Even though it wasn’t exactly sold yet, my mind reeled with ideas of where the new income would go.
Good places to reinvest money are often in marketing, advertising, or new employees. However, these ventures are often long term commitments that will increase your running expenses. If you’re not in the position to add to your expense column, there are other ways to reinvest in your company. Here’s a snapshot of where the money should go:
1) Save, Save, Save – A big sale is always a good time to augment your savings account. Along with leaving enough for taxes (you’ll thank yourself later for planning ahead), increasing your savings will make your company more secure.
2) Pay Off Debt – You can wipe out any large company purchases you’ve made lately, or pay off a portion of a business loan if you have one. Personal debt can be taken care of after you’ve already addressed your business debt. During our first few years of business ownership, we periodically made large payments toward my graduate school loans. Paying down debt will save you money in the long term, as well as help your credit score.
3) Reinvest – This is the most important thing you can do with your money, and it will allow your company to grow. With the sale of this book, we’ll buy several more, increasing our inventory in both quantity and value. If we’re confident and in the position to do it, we also might take a chance on something outside of our specialty area. Chances like these, which often pay off, have led us to grow our customer base by stocking material that can appeal to a wider audience. However you choose to do it, your goal is to keep your current customer, but to also attract more in the process.
After planning how to spend (and save) the money we would make with this sale, the client called and decided not to buy the book. While obviously disappointed, it also reminded me that our next big sale could be a phone call away. Business ownership is full of uncertainty, but with smart planning you can minimize the risks to make your company stronger.
“There isn’t a moment of the day when I’m not thinking about my business.” Does this sound familiar? Many entrepreneurs and business owners report that they work non-stop, day and night. Sure, it’s great for your business, but is it good for your life?
There are countless books and talk shows that are dedicated to the subject of work/life balance. We are told that we need to achieve this balance, otherwise our lives will be, well, unbalanced. Instead of viewing “balance” as some sort of end point, however, it’s more practical to see the dynamics of work and life as an ongoing journey.
After running my business for 9 years, here are some of the things that I’ve learned:
Challenge #1: If you work hard at your business, you will neglect your relationships and personal life.
Tips: Business ownership is often guilty of stealing from the “life” part of a work/life balance. I’ve seen entrepreneurs who are “All Work, No Play”, but I’ve seen (and tried to emulate) those that bring an equal energy to all aspects of their lives. You don’t have to volunteer for every carpool shift in your child’s soccer league, but having open conversations with your family about how your work affects them can be helpful (and a few of those carpool shifts couldn’t hurt). Remember: your family is facing all of the risks, stresses, and financial swings of your business with you. If they support your career and you’re equally encouraging of their endeavors, you’re all likely to be more satisfied.
Challenge #2: Even if you can “have it all”, you’re somehow burning yourself out.
Tips: Ask yourself: are you focused on tasks that will make you happy in the long run, or tiring yourself with busy work? Making a quick list of goals, both short-term and long-term, can help you to decide what is important. A long list of responsibilities is overwhelming, but you can feel more satisfaction in more areas if you’re focused on the right endeavors for you.
This question goes for relationships too, both business and personal. Cutting out relationships that are draining or dysfunctional will allow you to focus your mental energy on things that really matter. I know—drama can (and will) happen no matter what, but you’ll be more equipped to deal with it when you’re not constantly draining your energy elsewhere.
Challenge #3: A work/life balance is impossible to achieve.
Tips: Impossible, yes, without flexibility and proper time management. If the flexibility of changing hours or working from home isn’t an option, it’s up to you to be ultra-organized so you can juggle it all. Managing your time well will increase your productivity when you are working, and allow you to plan the hours and days when you can leave work behind for family time or “me” time. I learned this while trying to simultaneously plan a wedding and run my business. When I neglected my schedule and priority list, it was amazing how fast deadlines flew by tasks weren’t finished. Then stress crept in. If you learn to manage yourself and your time, you’ll be better at managing your obligations and interests as well.
Balancing work and life will be an on-going challenge. Your goals and struggles are constantly changing, so your approach to juggling it all needs to be just as dynamic. Innovative thinking and vision has helped your business to succeed—let your drive and creativity positively impact your personal life as well.
B&B Rare Books and Forbes!
Visit HOME OFFICE, Sunday’s blog on Forbes.com. It features posts on small business ownership and working in the rare book trade.
Find Home Office here:
Follow her on Twitter:
Thanks to all of our followers and supporters!
Join us in Baltimore the weekend before Labor Day - Baltimore Convention Center, 1 West Pratt Street (Downtown at the Inner Harbor).
A Farewell to Arms, Reloaded
A new edition of Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms was published by Scribner’s last month. Along with the full text, it includes the novel’s alternate endings, all 47 of them, and early drafts of other passages. The newly published material was procured from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston.
You may recognize the cover of this new edition: it features the iconic artwork by Cleon that graced the 1929 first edition. The new edition will likely attract aspiring writers, who will seek insight into the novelist’s process by combing through his re-writes.
A large part of Hemingway’s genius is how successfully he brings the reader into the times in which he lived. His reactions to the changing world, from his social circle to modern culture at large, dictated not only the content of his writing but also the tone. Consider the “Fitzgerald” alternate ending, inspired by his good friend F. Scott: “[The world] kills the very good and very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”
The pace of technology is ever-quickening. Feel like your business is struggling to keep up? We do– It’s no secret that the online marketplace and popularity of e-readers have forever changed our business of bookselling. Whenever we feel the push of technology, along with getting the push we need to learn something new, we remind ourselves to focus on what has always helped us to stand out—our customer service.
Offering second-to-none customer service could help your business to succeed no matter what the economic climate or latest technology craze. Here’s how:
1) Let Customers Get to Know You – If you’re running your business from an unknown (or internet-only) location, it makes you more anonymous. This is common nowadays, but adding a “face” or an address to your business could help assure customers that you won’t disappear overnight. You don’t have to rent office space if you don’t really need it; just be upfront about where you operate from and consider ways of contacting customers aside from email. A little personal information can go a long way, and could minimize concerns of accessibility, trust, or safety.
2) Be Available – If a customer can’t get hold of you when they need to, you could lose them forever. We recently changed both our insurance provider and web developer, and the decisions were based on availability and accountability. With the new companies, we get the owner on the phone every time, and they’re there day or night if a catastrophe happens. In our own business, we value face-to-face interaction with customers, which is often a rarity these days. Whether it’s traveling across the country for trade shows or taking time for a quick coffee or Skype session, our strongest relationships are with the customers we know personally and keep in contact with regularly.
3) Specials Services / VIP – Are there special discounts or services you can offer that your competitors don’t? Can you offer something special for existing customers only? Could your services be considered “luxury”? Offering special treatment to your customers will help them to feel taken care of, and it’s also something they might be willing to pay more for. There are so many “bait and switch” offers and promotions “for new customers only”– reward the customers that have been with you the longest.
4) Offer Knowledge – Building strong relationships with our customers is great, but we also get to offer and trade knowledge with them. In our trade, a customer can compare several competing copies of a book online, but they won’t get a conversation about the title’s complicated printing history. When we’re speaking with customers, we spend the majority of time talking about the merchandise itself, trends in the market, and the customer’s own collecting habits. Afterward, we negotiate a deal. A customer can even know more than you do on a particular topic! Take advantage of this opportunity to learn more.
Trade shows are another great way you can offer knowledge to your customers. Organize seminars with expert speakers to draw potential customers interested in your product or services.
5) Offer Community – Bringing face-to-face interactions, special services, and knowledge together could help you to create a unique community for your customers. This could be an interactive part of your website, a weekly or monthly webinar, or an open house at your physical location. Better yet, organize with similar or local businesses to set up an event, street fair, or convention that could draw a large crowd.
Creating a community is also possible when you’re on the road. Our professional organization works hard to make trade shows part of a larger destination for attendees. We collaborate with other institutions and events, and even plan the location of shows according to the weather (who doesn’t want to go to Southern California in February, when there’s also an exhibit at the local museum?) Not only will traveling make it easier for customers to find you, but coinciding events could be a bigger draw for their attendance and encourage them to spend more time with you.
Years ago when we started exhibiting at trade shows, we would prepare to fend off a hostile takeover. Seasoned sellers, who had been doing the shows for years, would swoop into our show booth and tear through our stock, looking for diamonds in the rough. They assumed, and sometimes correctly, that we were young and inexperienced enough to price items too low, giving them a great deal on a rare item. They would go so far as to unpack our boxes for us. This seemed rude when it first happened, but we realized down the road that it is just a quirky part of bookseller etiquette. We learned: if you’re a new face in the room, prepare to be looked upon as fresh meat.
So what can you do to earn the respect of your colleagues… and customers?
1) Be an authority – If you’re new to the scene, you can’t feign experience, but you can make up for it with your knowledge. Do your research and become an expert. Decide whether you want to specialize or generalize your knowledge. Generalizing will allow you to offer a better variety to different customers, but it can take a very long time to become known as an expert in many areas. For us, it was more productive for us to learn a specialty first. We studied British and American literature, which is rather narrow, but customers learned to come to us for this area of knowledge. Now we are able to branch out into other fields.
2) Hold your ground – We work in a business where prices are negotiated. Early on, this meant that sellers would ask for, and expect, deep discounts. I’m assuming they thought we would be desperate for the sales, but they were also trying to push us around. This is where the old adage “You teach people how to treat you” will come in handy. Know how far you’re willing to negotiate, then hold your ground. If someone asks you for your best price, and you proceed to agree to more discounts, they’ll learn they can push you even further. With us, it may have just been stubborn pride, but we practiced this from day one. We would question our judgment if our sales ended up being a little low, but it has absolutely paid off in the long run.
3) Bring something new and different – So you look and act differently than the seasoned professionals around you… why not back that up with something else new and exciting? When we started on the bookselling circuit in 2003, booksellers were slowly converting to online methods of selling. We took advantage of new technology and gave the book-buying public what they wanted – a professional website, hi-res photos, and a secure online shopping cart. The internet has absolutely changed the book business, but no matter what your industry, your goal will be to anticipate change and put your customers’ needs first. Bonus: if you can adapt faster, or better, than your competition, you could earn a new following of customers.
4) Join a professional organization – Joining our pro organization, the ABAA, has made us more credible and reliable in the eyes of the public. We have even had customers tell us that they only buy from ABAA-member dealers, or only attend ABAA shows. Being members has allowed us access to new and savvy customers.
5) Persevere – If your colleagues or co-workers don’t give you the credit you deserve right away, they might just be waiting to see if you’ll stick around for a while. Embrace the adversity you are facing, and let it motivate you to become better at what you do. If you’re successful, they might even have to learn something from you someday.
After many years of attending trade shows, we not only have more knowledge about our specialty, but we also have more confidence. We spend more of our time walking around a show during setup, looking for those diamonds among other sellers’ stock. We make sure not to actually unpack others’ boxes, though, just to avoid bad form.
How can you keep your work fresh and relevant in today’s information-bombarded world? Take a tip from the estate of Ernest Hemingway, who authorized the release of a new edition of the author’s masterpiece, A Farewell to Arms. Originally published by Scribner’s in 1929, the edition out this month includes the novel’s alternate endings, all 47 of them, and early drafts of other passages. This new edition will sell more volumes, but also keep a celebrated writer’s body of work current, relevant, and fresh. The process of renewal is essential for success in any business.
Here’s how A Farewell to Arms benefits from a new edition, and how a re-boot could be helpful for your business:
Advantage 1: Timing
The republication of Farewell will capitalize on the attention Hemingway has been paid recently in numerous productions, such as Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” and HBO’s “Hemingway and Gellhorn”. The 1920’s era in general is also in the middle of a revival (pre-prohibition cocktails, anyone?)
This will require you to have your finger on the pulse of popular culture. Is there something trending on Twitter that you can comment or advise on? Can you market yourself as an expert in your field during a conference or on another public platform? These opportunities may be difficult to come by, but could hugely benefit your business. Better yet– can you predict the next trend and capitalize on it before anyone does?
Advantage 2: New Features
The alternate endings alone are a draw: There were really 47??? Was Hemingway optimistic or dismayed by the world around him? Readers will look forward to answering these probing questions. The new edition will also attract aspiring writers, who will seek insight into the novelist’s process by combing through his re-writes. New features plus a new target audience? Jackpot.
The music and film industries benefit from this time and time again, and Apple keeps releasing new $500 iPhones, knowing we will buy again for the purpose of trying out new functions. Find a way to make your product or services new or unique by adding something they didn’t have before. We are constantly trying to do this in the rare book business—we’ve sold multiple copies of A Farewell to Arms, but in today’s tight economy, we’re trying to find editions of the book that are truly rare (we’ve found a first edition signed by Hemingway to Captain Harrington, who drove the boat between Florida and Cuba.) Offering one-of-a-kind items has helped us attract new customers looking for something unique; selling these items has allowed us to thrive.
Advantage 3: New Packaging
The new Farewell boasts the original artwork of the 1929 edition, thereby capitalizing on a new look and a revival of 1920’s Art Deco design (see Advantage 1 above). Although customers respond well to things that are recognizable, something shiny and new can also get their attention (or in this case, something vintage– notice I didn’t say “old”).
Does your website need an update? Could your employees benefit from a polished new look? Get inspired by what is currently popular, but don’t merely emulate someone else’s work. Invent something striking and memorable. Then consult outside opinion through a focus group or a design or marketing team. Don’t be sentimental: the best (and crowd favorite) should always win.
Advantage 4: New Advertising
The established names of Hemingway and Scribner’s (now Simon and Schuster) procured a plug from The New York Times and The Huffington Post. Enough said.
You’ll probably need to work a lot harder on this one, or just more creatively. It could be time to re-evaluate, or re-invest in, your advertising campaign. Are you dumping hundreds or thousands per month into CPC advertising but not getting any sales? Consider new forms of ads, but keep in mind what type of media reaches your customer. Can you run a campaign on your own (saving money and having more ‘reach’ with your customers), or should you trust a professional to revamp your campaigns?
As you read this, another business is trying to attract your customers. By keeping your focus on renewal, improvement, or uniqueness, you can better compete with the constant data that customers are presented with on a daily basis. Have you made recent changes but your customers are not responding yet? Keep trying– 47 times if you have to.
Running your own business can feel a lot like gambling. It’s risky, but successful business owners understand that the rewards can far outweigh the risks. Learning how to play your cards right will maximize your potential for success.
Nine years into owning my business, a rare book company, I’ve realized that self awareness is perhaps the most important ace I can have up my sleeve. Knowing your personality, strengths and weaknesses, and risk-tolerance can help you to make better-informed decisions in the business world. Do you build your stack conservatively or aggressively? Do you let it all ride on a stone-cold bluff because you love the thrill? Are you betting your life’s savings chasing a weak draw? Or did you flop the nuts and you’re biding your time, hoping other players will bet into your winning hand? There are pros and cons to every style, but see if you can identify which poker player/business owner you resemble the most:
A) Tight and passive – “The Amateur”
This player can most easily be identified at the table, and will likely be bullied by more experienced players. Perhaps you’re working a 9-5 while dreaming of business-ownership, but in reality you never take any real steps to get there. Going off on your own represents real risk, and is downright scary: it’s safer not to bet, definitely not to bluff, and to ultimately rely on a safer way of earning and keeping your money. You can’t lose what you don’t put in, right? On the other hand, you’ll never win big either. The extreme swings of business ownership might not be for you, but if you’re looking forward to playing a hand one day, take some tips from the other player types below.
B) Loose and passive – “The Calling Station”
This player is eternally optimistic: always wanting to stay in the hand, curious to see the next card, never eager to let go of what is already invested in the pot. You are a “Maniac’s” worst nightmare; they keep raising you, and you keep right on calling, refusing to succumb. While this does keep you in the action, the downfall is that you continue to play whether your hand is strong or weak. It’s an OK way to get you out of your comfort zone, but your inexperience and inability to spot risk could eventually get the better of you. Once you’re pot-committed, you’ll have to go all in on a risky venture even though you know your hand got cracked. Worst case scenario: your business idea doesn’t succeed as planned, and you don’t have an exit strategy.
C) Loose and aggressive – “The Maniac”
This player will bet constantly and aggressively, and will also probably bluff quite a bit. You’re purposefully trying to make other players uncomfortable so you can run them down. You might also be a bit of an adrenaline junkie: always seeking new ventures, learning new strategies, taking the risks that excite you. This style is best employed when you are deep-stacked: perhaps you already have a small fortune or other businesses, and can play around with new ventures a little more loosely. The advantage here is that you are able to spot opportunities that most others would not see (and you have the guts to pursue them.) A lot of successful business owners could be categorized as “Maniacs”, or at least have some Maniac tendencies. If you’re not trying to grow and advance your business, competition could easily swoop in and take the pot that is rightfully yours. Contrarily, of course, this can be the most dangerous way to start or run a business. If you don’t have the funds, knowledge, or confidence to back yourself, you could wind up busted and broke on the street corner.
D) Tight and aggressive – “The Solid”
These players pick their spots- they watch carefully how others play their hands and wait patiently for advantageous situations. In business, you are able to pick good stocks, identify solid start-ups to back, and can even predict swings in the market. The key characteristic here is good judgment: you know when to go all in on a big pot, but also (and equally important!) when to fold your hand because you know you’re beat. When working as a “Solid”, you’ll heavily research any opportunity before jumping right in, or even continue working a 9-5 job while you steadily grow your business venture on the side. Working this way in business can be a great way to experiment while minimizing your risk.
There are successful business owners representing every style, but the key style to emulate is “The Solid”. In addition to the strengths listed above, this player can work comfortably in any situation, and can even employ strategies from the other styles as they see fit. There will be times when it pays to be a Maniac, and times when your business will benefit from more passive moves. The business world is competitive and unstable by nature; you will always be safer when you have hidden strengths to rely on when you’re on tilt.
Once you’ve identified your playing style, you’ll more easily be able to arm yourself with skills that will set you apart from others. Are you ready to play? Shuffle up and deal!
As a business owner, it can be really tempting to work all day, every day. Forget about weekends or vacations—it’s up to you to keep your business running 24/7, to continually improve, and to expand your reach to new customers. Attending to your growing business can make it difficult to walk away, even for a short summer vacation.
Sure, you can probably get more done when you do everything yourself, but taking a break can be restorative. Nervous about how things are running while you’re away? Consider the following:
1) Use – But Don’t Overuse – Technology: You have your Smartphone, and Wifi is available pretty much everywhere (even on cruise ships!), so it’s easier than ever to keep up with real-time tasks like email and customer contact. Just make sure not to take it too far– you’re on vacation, remember? Set a schedule and, more importantly, a time limit for cell phone or internet usage before you leave. Stick to it so you don’t end up answering emails while you’re catching waves.
2) Improve Your Time Management Skills: I’ve been running my business full-time for 5 years, and make it a priority to visit my family at least 5 weeks per year. When I have a visit coming up, I’m motivated to complete extra work before I leave, so I don’t end up working when I’m there. Think ahead: what tasks could interfere with the time you will be away? Attend to these ahead of time, and plan your trips strategically around your busy times. Avoid traveling any time when a crisis is more likely to happen, one that you will have to personally attend to. This will allow you to be physically and mentally present when you’re with family or friends.
3) Delegate: A close friend of ours owns a business with about 15 employees. On a short vacation with him recently, we asked what happens when he returns from breaks. Is there a lot of catch-up to do? Have the customers been attended to? Are there messes to clean up? His response: “If things didn’t run ‘business as usual’ since I’ve been way, people get fired.” As a business owner who loves having a hand in everything, this really resonated with me. Sometimes you really need to take a step back and let others run the show. You trained them, so sit back and let them do their work. Don’t have minions yet? An independent contractor or assistant can be hired per diem. You can even find a virtual assistant online (ivaa.com) or go to taskrabbit.com- an online community where screened assistants will bid to complete tasks on your To Do list.
It might be difficult to take a break from business life, but it is certainly possible to enjoy a vacation with the right resources in place. So go ahead – take that trip, and be rested and relaxed (and inspired!) to grow your business upon your return.
Joshua is a New York City native. He received a degree in Biology and Psychology from SUNY Geneseo. Before working full-time with rare books, he did clinical research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Joshua’s specialties include Victorian literature and Modern American literature. His favorite book is The Picture of Dorian Gray.
Sunday grew up south of Buffalo, NY. She attended SUNY Geneseo and New York University, receiving a Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a writer and a Forbes Small Business Contributor. Sunday specializes in the Bloomsbury group and the 1920's Lost Generation literary expatriates. Her favorite book is Mrs. Dalloway.