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Measure Twice, Cut Once: The Importance of Project Planning

Measure Twice, Cut Once: The Importance of Project Planning

    Over the weekend, I completed a repair on an XBOX 360 with red rings. The project was a success and I thought a lot about how I approached this project — and how it could have gone better.

    Take stock of your tools

    Do you have what you need? Just as a good chef looks over the entire recipe before they begin, it is important to look through the entire process before you start.

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    In my case, I neglected to see if we had any solvent around so when I got to the step where I needed to remove old thermal paste, I was unable to proceed without a trip for rubbing alcohol.

    The other danger is there could be a step that says “let this sit for a couple hours*.” In cooking, it can be a step reading “place in the fridge for 8 hours” but in my case, I needed to re-flow the motherboard with a heat gun then allow the board to cool undisturbed

    Many times a project will have a step that requires you to do nothing more than wait. It could be waiting for glue or paint to dry, a motherboard to cool down, or your cake to rise. It’s important to know where the delays are and plan accordingly.

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    Allow plenty of time

    This is one I always struggle with. I am tempted to start projects at 10pm or midnight thinking it won’t take that long. Then, around 2am, when I’m overtired and frustrated, I make stupid mistakes.

    Resist the urge to start a project planning late in the day. Start fresh the next morning and make the time to complete it successfully. I completed my project over the course of about a week. I started on a Saturday afternoon and dismantled the console, then ran into my problem of no rubbing alcohol so I had to stop. Then I got busy and didn’t return to it until the next weekend. I picked the project back up Sunday afternoon when I had 4 hours free and completed the project without needing to rush.

    Have a clean and stable place to work

    I cannot stress the importance of this step. I needed to leave the Xbox dismantled for five days on our kitchen table. If I was trying to do this on my desk, or on the dining room floor I could have lost pieces or it could have gotten broken. It is vital to have a safe, secure place to work that won’t be disturbed.

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    Take special consideration if you have kids or pets. There is no assured defense against children and cats are infamous for their love of sitting places where they’re not wanted. To say nothing of those tiny screws making perfect play things.

    Organize your parts

    When taking apart something with multiple sets of screws or other small pieces, have a system for separating and organizing them. Many small screws can look nearly identical, until you get halfway through the project and realize you’ve used the wrong screw in the wrong place and now have to back track and replace them.

    I have a screw organizer, but you can use anything with different compartments. I’ve even used an empty egg carton in a pinch. If you don’t have anything handy, grab a piece of paper, and apply some double-sided tape or make a loop of tape and stick your screws to it, especially if they’re very small.

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    For this project, there were only three steps requiring screws so I used a blank sheet of paper and drew circles and wrote down the step number of the walkthrough I was following and placed the screws in that circle.

    With a little project planning, you can save yourself a lot of extra time, effort and making a silly mistake which could cost you. Make the time and plan out your next project. I always hear my father’s advice in my ears when I start any new project:

    “Measure twice, cut once.”

    (Photo credit: Measure Twice, Cut Once via sxc.hu)

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    Published on December 18, 2018

    How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

    How to Brand Yourself and Make Your Business Stand Out

    You’ve been in business for years and have finally hit your plateau.

    The tactics you’d implemented for your customers aren’t working as they’ve used to. You feel like your business has fallen out of the spotlight and now you’d have to settle for any business you get. It’s how businesses work, right?

    The truth is that some brands will fade off the business world–while others will adapt well and continue to grow. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself for where your business currently stands. After all, you’d kept applying tactics that provided predictable results.

    Instead, decide to not settle for average results and spend more time building your brand. To make your business stand out from your competition, you need to be unforgettable. But how can you?

    In this article, I’ll cover timeless tactics that have worked for other businesses. If you apply these tactics correctly your competition won’t be able to copy them. Here’s how to brand yourself and make your business stand out:

    1. Win Your Audience’s Hearts with Authenticity

    The truth has always shined.

    Even without the technology we have today, people always had a way of finding out if someone was lying. And, with everyone engaging in social media today, it’s hard to hide from the truth. Yet, this seems to be what many businesses fail to do.

    For example, companies like Listerine have been fined for lying.[1] A quick buck today won’t be worth it in the long run. Instead, practice being authentic to your customers and they’ll eventually rely on you.

    Allow your customers to buy your products with a money-back guarantee – then deliver on your promise. Be consistent with the content you provide and stay true to your brand.

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    For example, if you provide coaching services for entrepreneurs, don’t sponsor irrelevant brands. If you stop caring about your brand’s mission, your audience will notice. They’ll question your integrity with your business and stop trusting your brand.

    But if you gain your customer’s trust, you’ll start standing out from your competition. Your customers will feel safe purchasing from you since they’ll know you’re honest.

    2. Share a Story No One Will Be Able to Copy

    A few decades ago, a brand would’ve gotten away without being unique. That’s because back then starting a business was not accessible to most people. You’d either need enough money to launch your business or have the credentials. And even if you had all these qualifications, you needed to get past the gatekeepers.

    Today, technology has disrupted many of the barriers that were present a few decades ago. For example, today a college student can launch a Podcast within a week. He can create a website in a few hours and record a few Podcast episodes. If he’s persistent, he can build a large following overtime and get paid by sponsors.

    This is great news for aspiring entrepreneurs but there’s more competition than ever. You can only do so much before other businesses begin to copy you. But what no business can copy is your story.

    That’s why you need to share your story with your audience.

    For example, if you have a money blog, share how you’ve overcome your financial struggles. If you run a freelance writing business, share how you’ve overcome writer’s block. The more your audience can relate to you the better.

    Without a story, your business won’t stand out. And if you copy what’s working for other businesses, you’ll experience short-term success.

    Take some time to share your story with the world, your audience will love you more for it.

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    3. Stop Reinventing Every Single Thing

    “Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign it.” – Anthony J.D’angelo

    You may have heard that being original is the way to stand out. While this is true to an extent, you also shouldn’t be original when something is already working.

    For example, if your competition has a successful Podcast in your field, then so can you. Don’t search for better alternatives to a Podcast if it’s already working.

    Why?

    Because this is a waste of time. Instead, copy what’s already working and make it your own.[2] If your competition has a Podcast, figure out which areas you can improve and tailor it around your brand.

    Knowing this you can now spy on your competition and determine which areas you can improve. But, know that it also works the other way around. Others will view your business and copy what’s working for you.

    That’s why it’s important to stay true to your brand and be authentic with your audience. When you do, your competition won’t be able to copy your unique traits. Have an abundant mindset and feel confident for what your business has to offer.

    4. Shine Because of Your Uniqueness

    Stop trying to help the entire world and focus on helping a specific group of people instead.

    I get it, you’re willing to help almost everyone because you want to bring in more business. But the truth is that if you resonate with everyone, you resonate with no one.

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    Take, for example, a marketing agency that helps businesses promote their product. This business doesn’t speak to anyone but gets occasional sales throughout the year.

    But what if there was a similar marketing agency dedicated to helping real estate agents? If there was a real estate agent looking for help in marketing–who do you think they’ll choose? That’s why niching down is necessary if you hope to stand out from your competition.

    Determine which customers you enjoy working with the most and determine which customers bring in the most revenue. Once you’ve gathered enough data, focus on servicing your ideal customer.

    Don’t expect immediate results since this won’t be an easy transition. If you’re currently helping a narrow audience, slowly transition into a niche audience. Niching down is crucial to building raving fans.

    5. Be the Brand Everyone Can Depend On

    Being the brand your customers can depend on is important. How many times have you bought a product that’s failed on its promise? Or have settled for an average service?

    Exceeding your customer’s expectations is a sure way to make your brand stand out. In the book Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, studies on human psychology prove that when you give to others, they’ll reciprocate. Offer your customers free consulting, a free ebook, or free quality content. Eventually, they’ll be happy to reciprocate after receiving value from you.

    View what your competition is doing and surpass their offers. For example, if your competition offers a free 15-minute consulting call, offer 30 minutes. When you focus on helping others more, your customers will notice.

    Make it your mission to serve your customers first and then worry about making a profit. Other ways for your business to be reliable is by inspiring your customers. That’s right, a business isn’t only about selling, it’s also helping customers achieve their goals.

    For example, you can write content that will inspire your audience to take action. You can interview guests that will push your audience to break bad habits. Get creative and look for more ways in which your audience can depend on you with.

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    The Bottom Line

    Imagine serving fewer customers and getting paid more than ever.

    Despite the fierce competition, you’ve got fans wanting to buy your products and services. Although this may seem impossible right now, it’s not. If other brands have been able to stand out in a crowded industries, why can’t yours?

    The truth is that standing out from your competition isn’t easy. There’s no secret formula that’s available to the rest of the world. The trick is to do what most brands are unwilling to do.

    Many businesses don’t want to niche down because this will mean a loss in sales. But that’s sacrificing short-term gains for long-term success. Niching down is necessary to build a brand your customers will love.

    Many businesses will spend a lot of money looking for ways to innovate, but won’t apply what’s working. But, not you.

    You’ve got what it takes to stand out from your competition. Start slowly and master each principle covered here. Now go and make your business stand out like never before.

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    Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

    Reference

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