Small Business Marketing Solution – Let Brand Guide Your Staff

Your employees should know your Brand–what you stand for. We’ve written on this before, but it is just a vital concept for small business success. As we discussed in an earlier article, following process and procedures is important, staff training is a must, but there comes a time when you must trust you employees “in the field” to do what is right and make a decision on their own that is in accord with what the company brand stands for.It’s at this critical point that their training in proper procedures is most helpful, but sometimes they are faced with questions outside of strict training or procedural guidelines. Here they need to make the right decision–for the customer and the company. It’s at these junctures that a solid working knowledge of what the company stands for can help them make the best choice.And understanding the company brand starts with your Achievers.Your junior staff will follow the example they see the Achievers set. The Achievers must intimately understand what your company’s Brand represents–they need to also recognize that this knowledge can help them make a decision.It sounds basic, but your customers’ impression of what your Brand is–what your company stands for–will be far more influenced by what your staff does during a tough situation than through all your advertising. This is especially true for a small business on a limited marketing budget.When customers and staff agree on what your Brand means, then you can trust that decisions your staff makes will truly be in the best interest of the company. Will those staff decisions be exactly what you would do? No, but they’ll be close enough.Occasionally they will even be better.Remember: Brand (who you are) + Package (your Face to the Customer) + People (customers and employees) = Marketing Success.© 2006 Marketing Hawks

Dysfunctional Environments: What Is A Dysfunctional Environment?

When it comes to describing a dysfunctional environment, it might help us to also look at what a functional environment might look like.Functional EnvironmentA functional environment then; would be an area that is conducive to growth. Somewhere that not only supports and encourages an individual to be themselves, but also allows them to.Here, one can express who they are and feel safe doing so. Positive feelings and thoughts are also more likely to occur in this environment.Dysfunctional EnvironmentThe dysfunctional environment on the other hand would be somewhere that doesn’t allow for the above to happen. Where the individual doesn’t feel supported or acknowledged in anyway, let alone in a way that honours who they are. This might be an environment that forces one to constantly compromise their values and themselves.The word door mat comes to mind here; with boundaries being nonexistent in this environment. Feeling and thinking negatively is also something that might seem to just happen; coming on like a parasite, without reason or warning. Despair is also another common consequence from being in this type of environment.Conscious And Unconscious EnvironmentsWith both of these examples we can see that one is an environment that could be classed as conscious and the other is an environment that is the complete opposite.By this I mean that the dysfunctional environment is an environment where behaviour and the effects of that behaviour go unnoticed. The people in the environment have little, to, no awareness of their actions or to the damage, which is being carried out physically, emotionally or mentally.


Standing UpPerhaps if one were to comment or mention how they felt to the person or persons in the environment, they might be dismissed or ignored. This of course all depends on how dysfunctional the environment is.The Frog MetaphorThis is a story that is helpful in explaining the insidious nature of the dysfunctional environment.It is about a frog that is put in a pan and is cooked so gradually that it doesn’t know or notice the difference in temperature. And after this slow rise, the frog dies. It was oblivious to what was happening and its imminent death. It became comfortable and numb to what it was experiencing.So How Does This Relate To Dysfunctional Environments?Within this environment one will notice at first that it is draining to them. However unless one takes the steps to break away or steps out of the environment so that it can be seen from another perspective, they might start to feel comfortable within this environment. With their original state of mind and aliveness; fast becoming a distant memory.Now this could be because of a gradual drip feed approach or the slow cooking approach mentioned above. It might also be because it is an environment that feels comfortable and safe to them; as absurd as this sounds. It is reminding them of their history and what hasn’t been looked at.Is This How It Is?One might have never been in a functional environment. This makes it difficult in seeing contrast and in being able to compare it to other environments in their life. One might believe that this is how life is and that there is no such thing as a ‘functional environment’ or that it’s not possible for them.HistoryWe all have our own history, some parts that are likely to bring us feelings of happiness and other parts that might cause feelings of anger or resentment. This is history that won’t just disappear; it has to be faced in some way. That could be by directly facing something or by the assistance of a therapist for example.Pulled To Our PastWe will naturally be drawn into environments that are mind unconsciously associates as being what is safe to us. These environments won’t always be places that empower or honour who we are. They will be environments that mirror the behaviours, feelings and thoughts of our childhood.AssociationsThis is because of the nature of the mind and how it gets attached and creates attachments. What was experienced as a child becomes what is familiar and safe to the ego mind; regardless of if it is functional or not. If these associations are functional and beneficial, then what will subsequently happen is one will usually end up in environments that are at least moderately healthy and functional.Unhealthy AssociationsHowever if these are associations that are not so healthy or functional; one is likely to find that they are ending up in the same environments. Environments that are disempowering and don’t reflect what they consciously want or what their heart calls for. Where their energy is being taken and no energy is being returned.The Childhood EnvironmentAbove I have mentioned about our later environments mirroring the behaviours feelings and thoughts of our childhood environment if they have not been processed.


Common themes of those years will continue to appear and play out in our present day environments. These might be themes that our unique to us; challenges that just seem to appear over and over again.A Recent StudyI recently read about a group of rat pups that were genetically predisposed to be more fearful than other strains of rats. If these rats were left with their biological mothers, they were likely to be fearful and stressed. However after placing these rat pups with other rat mothers that were not fearful; they grew up without fear.The Power Of The EnvironmentNow these might be rats that were talking about here, but what this shows is the power of the environment in shaping how we see ourselves and in who we become.There is always talk of nature vs. nurture and on the effect genetics have on life, however through the study of epigenetic’s genes have been found to require a trigger to be activated and that trigger is the environment. It is the environment that is making the difference.Choosing Our EnvironmentsChoosing our environments and therefore the people we have in our life and spend our time with is incredibly important to our own wellbeing and in achieving our dreams.The natural tendency of our mind will be to return to what feels comfortable and to what is familiar.Who We AreWhat happened in or childhood or what has happened in our past doesn’t have to define our life or who we are. That is something we can do in each moment of our life.

How IT Companies Can Effectively Manage Client Hardware

Despite the emergence of “The Cloud”, local hardware will always be required. Even the most basic small business client has a router, a network switch, a PC and one or more printers. Other clients may have Firewalls, Servers, Plotters, Multi-Function Units and any array of other hardware – most of it IP-enabled.Multiply that by multiple clients, and you’ve got an awful lot of hardware that becomes really easy to waste a lot of time and effort trying to manage – if you’re not organized.From Chaos to OrderThe first step in bringing order to the chaos is to buy a Label Printer. My personal favorite is the P-Touch Handheld range from Brother. Anything that you can easily carry with you, plug into the mains (battery operated is fine – but batteries run out, and you then start to forget to label things) and print labels will do the job. If you have more than one engineer, buy them all label printers and get them to label them with their own names – they’ll be more inclined to look after them.Next, organize a time for an engineer to visit client sites with his labeler at the ready – grabbing and labeling anything and everything with a power plug on the end and making a written note of each to take back to the office.(Talking of power plugs, get your engineers into the habit of labeling these too, especially servers. Clearly knowing which plug belongs to a PC and which to a monitor is a real benefit when you’re crawling under a dark desk on a dirty floor trying to work out what to unplug and what not to.)Why Labels?But why bother labeling things?


Firstly, you’re acknowledging the existence of a device. If it’s labeled, you know about it and can document it for future reference.Secondly, when new hardware “mysteriously” appears at a client site and a client calls you for support on it (probably outside your support contract) you can save yourself a heap of time trying to work out why Windows 7 Home Edition is installed on it rather than a Business O/S.Thirdly, labeling hardware speeds up the support process. If a user telephones the Helpdesk to say they can’t print to “That printer in the corner of the office”, then you can ask them to read the label and quickly identify which printer it is that they’re trying to print to.What to label?What the label says depends on the hardware, but the label should help you easily identify the hardware in question. Some examples:-PCs – Workstation name, Fixed IP address (if applicable)
Servers – Server name, Fixed IP address, Domain name
Routers/Firewalls – External IP address, Internal IP address
Network Switches – Internal IP address, Management IP address
Local Printers – Locally attached Workstation name
Network Printers – Fixed IP address, Queue Name (//Server/Queue)We’re not going to worry about Workstation and Server naming schemes, IP address ranges or any other standards just yet. Right now we’re focusing on documenting what’s already out there.In some cases the engineer won’t be able to identify network equipment. Rather than ignore the hardware, they should label it as “unidentified” and raise a support ticket or make a written note to investigate how to identify it later.This takes some time, especially if you have a lot of clients – but it’s time well spent. You should make this type of ‘discovery work’ a part of the on-boarding process of every new client, as the time spent discovering hardware now will pay dividends when you’re supporting that same hardware later – perhaps in a time-sensitive situation.Document your findingsGoing forwards, make it a policy that from now on, every piece of hardware you deploy to a client site should have a label on it.Document your findings. If you have an RMM tool such as GFI Max, then you’ll already be able to scan networks for devices. Supplement this automated information with your own findings.Pretty soon you’ll have a good overview of the hardware at all your client sites. It’ll make supporting the client, both remotely and on-site, a *lot* easier.The use of the labeler as a force of good doesn’t stop there.Hardware in the WorkshopWhenever an engineer brings a piece of hardware back to the Workshop for troubleshooting, it needs to be labeled. You might label it with the client’s name, a brief overview of the issue, and if you’re using a ticket system, the ticket number.This might sound obvious, but how many times do engineers walk back into the office, drop off some faulty hardware and then get distracted by something else? In this scenario, a colleague may be left scratching his head over who the hardware belongs to and why it’s here, or worse, think the hardware is “spare” and go and re-use it for another job they are working on…


Talking of spare hardware – it’s worth creating a process to deal with this too. I like to create an area of the workshop that is specifically for Hardware under Repair, Hardware under testing, and Hardware for disposal. Then, as hardware comes in…If it’s hardware that is to be sent back to a manufacturer under RMA, it’s labeled as such and placed in the “Under Repair” area of the workshop.If it’s hardware that may be faulty and required testing, a ticket is raised for this and it’s labeled as “For Testing” and labeled with the appropriate ticket number. The hardware is then placed in the “For Testing” area, and you can confidently give your newly employed Junior Technician something productive to do on his first day in the office.If it’s hardware for disposal, it’s labeled with the fault and marked as “For Disposal”. It’s placed in the “For Disposal” area of the workshop and once every few weeks you arrange for a specialist IT disposal company to collect the pile and dispose of it in an ethical and environmentally-friendly fashion.Save Time With LabelsThe amount of time IT companies can waste trying to re-use faulty hardware that has simply been left lying around, or re-testing known faulty equipment is mind-blowing.A simple system of labeling such hardware saves hours of wasted time.I hope this article has helped to describe how armed with a label printer you can build the basis of a series of systems that lay out how your business deals with client hardware.

Arcade Fun

An arcade often refers to an entertainment establishment or an area within an amusement park that houses different coin-operated machines and video games. It is a popular hangout for many teenagers and young adults alike. However, there are still a number of adults who still enjoy a game or two when visiting arcades. The different types of arcade games include video games, pinball machines, shooting galleries, ball toss games, crane machines, dance and music games, and simulated games, among many others. Most, if not all, arcade games are coin, token or magnetic card operated, and you can get a prize immediately or collect tickets or points for redemption of various items depending on the number of tickets or points.Arcade and video games’ origins can be traced back in early 20th century and grew in popularity in the 1970s with machines built mostly by Japanese companies such as Atari. However, coin operated games can actually be traced back as early as 350 BC during the time of Alexander the Great. According to one story, there was a man who presented Alexander the Great a game that once you placed a coin in it, the players would be able to bring balls up and down to disappear in several holes as controlled by the players. The winner could get twice what was given as a bet. Another coin operated machine used as a game of chance and to win some money was a slot machine invented by a jester in 1108. It was described similarly to the slot machines we know today – put in a coin, operate the level and get a chance to double your money.


Subsequently, other coin operated games were invented and introduced to the public with intention of providing entertainment and multiple chances of winning more than they betted. The rise in producing different kinds and types of coin operated machines for entertainment started around the late 1800s but reached its highest peak, including other arcade and video games, in early 2000. However, from 2004 until pretty much today, there was a decline in arcade games with the rise in popularity of portable video game gadgets such as Play Station and PSP, Xbox, Wii, PCs, and even mobile phones, among many others.Nevertheless, arcades in different parts of the country still have considerable following especially as part of amusement parks and inside shopping malls. Young kids and teenagers can still be seen hanging out in arcades to meet friends and to compete with others who have the same interest on playing arcade and video games. Nowadays, the most popular arcade and video games include Sega’s Extreme Hunting 2 Tournament (video kit), JVL’s Retro (countertop), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious (video dedicated), Raw Thrills-Betson’s Fast & Furious Super Bikes (video simulators), Stern Pinball’s Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean (pinball game), Skee-Ball’s Skee-Ball Too! (alley bowlers), Skee-Ball’s Super Shot (sports games), Rainbow’s Rainbow (cranes & rotaries), Betson’s Sponge Bob Jellyfish (children’s games), ICE’s Deal or No Deal (novelty games), Family Fun Co.’s Football Fortune (coin drop), Benchmark’s Wheel Deal (coin drop), Andamiro’s Hammer (bopping/stomping games), and LAI Games’ Stacker (prize vendors), among many others.