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Dare to Suck and Other Tips for Bettering Your Business

Take the fear of looking foolish out of the creative process.

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Dare to suck

BRAINSTORMDare to Suck

Here’s a perfect theme for a weekly meeting with staff: Dare to Suck. The idea, courtesy of Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, is that every band member would have to come to the meeting and present an idea they thought was probably terrible. “And nine times out of 10, the idea is actually terrible,” Tyler told a MasterClass. “But one time out of 10, you get ‘Dude Looks Like a Lady’ or ‘Love in an Elevator.’” The brilliance of this idea is that it takes the fear of looking foolish out of the creative process.

MERCHANDISINGWhat’ll Ya Pay?

Want to shake things up on your “last-call wall” — the area of your store with all of your heavily discounted slow-moving items? Remove prices and put a sign on it that reads “Make me an offer!”

COMMUNICATIONGive It Straight

Now may be a particularly hectic time for your business, but don’t make the common management mistake of trying to bolster staff morale by downplaying the unpleasantness ahead: changing processes, demanding customers, tough sales targets, etc. If anything, tell them that the road ahead will be tougher than they actually think it will be. According to Marcus Buckingham, author of The One Thing You Need To Know, being told a task will be difficult helps us brace for it and get in the right mood to tackle it.

FINANCENo Good Deed …

What’s the single biggest thing that prompts an IRS employer audit? According to Eva Rosenberg, author of Small Business Taxes Made Easy, it’s when a non-employee you were paying in cash is let go or gets sick, and files for unemployment or disability insurance — something millions of workers are doing this year. Maybe it was even a friend you were helping out. But when they realize they need to have been formally employed to get government assistance, they will often file — and turn you in. To protect yourself, you need to be able to prove the person was an “independent contractor.” That means a Form W9 (a request for taxpayer ID), business card or contract.

NETWORKINGDress For Success

Want to stand out at your next business networking event? Entrepreneur Magazine’s Ultimate Small Business Marketing Guide recommends you follow the example of the scuba instructor who attended a networking event in full scuba gear. In a sea of blue and brown suits, he was the most talked-about person there. Pet store owners have an even better — and less ridiculous — option: Come with a pet, especially if it happens to be an exotic breed, like a Bergamasco, or a parrot on your shoulder. Then join the party and watch every eye turn your way.

CHARITY1-Percent Solution

Want a formula for making charitable contributions that will really impact the community in which you live? At internet software provider Salesforce.com, the company uses the “1 percent” formula: 1 percent of company profits, 1 percent of company equity and 1 percent of employee hours all go to the communities it serves.

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EMAIL MANAGEMENTStart Fast

If you’ve got an opt-in list for your email bulletins, don’t just start them off with a boring, generic “thank you for signing up” message. Instead, give them a taste of what they’ll be getting: your most recent bulletin or a message filled with special offers. Give your readers something to act on while they’re thinking about you.

SALESOffer to Order

If a customer asks for a product you don’t/can’t carry that Amazon sells for lower than you would charge anyway, offer to order it for the customer and increase the price by just a bit. Jennifer Larsen of Firehouse Pet Shop in Wenatchee, WA, now does this after hearing from customers, “’I get that you need to mark it up, but I like supporting local and want to be sure you are around in five years.’” It doesn’t hurt to offer!

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 16 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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