Source: unDraw

What is a PBC list?

PBC (Prepared/Provided By Client) is a request from external auditors to clients for the things needed to complete an audit. Usually, this begins as a preliminary list to start the audit process. As the audit progresses, the list dynamically increases.

What does a PBC list include?

A PBC list includes the financial documents of a business like its balance sheets and cash flow statements. It also includes any calculations or documentation needed to verify revenue, expenses, loans, and other contractual obligations. Basically, any and all items that impact the business’ finances.

Auditors request the PBC list to ensure that all necessary documents required to complete the audit are in place. This allows the audit to happen smoothly. It also drastically decreases the time the auditor spends conducting the audit.

Source: unDraw

How is a PBC list formatted?

Usually, auditors prepare dynamic PBC lists in an Excel sheet, Word document, or Google sheet. The people responsible for putting the materials together then complete it by circulating it amongst themselves. Each entry is given a specific identification code and description which includes the auditor and custodian name and the date by which it is required. The codes and descriptions help everyone keep track of what is happening.

The actual PBC list materials are shared with auditors through email or a file-sharing platform which the auditors are given access to. The status of materials is then tracked by audit teams. Additional ad hoc requests that auditors make are communicated to businesses through various mediums like email or text. Ad hoc requests form the “dynamic” part of dynamic PBC lists.

Source: unDraw

What are some PBC list challenges?

Challenge #1: Decentralization

Process decentralization is one of the biggest challenges which businesses and auditors face. Decentralization leads to disorganization and confusion, especially when there are many ad hoc requests. Issues like duplicate requests, unavailability of custodians, misplaced documents, and difficulty recovering past audit documentation or references are common. Also, updating the list by matching available items to their respective identification codes and tracking every ad hoc request is a challenge.

Challenge #2: Security

Security can be another issue when documents are shared through a public file sharing service. It goes without saying that financial documents are some of the most sensitive ones for a business. Therefore, sharing them over insecure or unreliable channels can put the business at risk of security breaches.

Source: unDraw

Obviously, there is a great need for auditors and businesses to streamline and centralize the dynamic PBC list process and mitigate security risks through technology.

How can technology address these challenges?

Feature #1: Process Automation

A good way that technology can help handle dynamic PBC lists is to have automated emails and alerts sent when a document is needed and received. Automatic updates to entries in the dynamic PBC list can also help alleviate inconsistencies. These features would mean that the entire audit team has access to all necessary information at all times. Thus, no one has to waste time and energy with repeated follow-ups.

Feature #2: Centralized Dashboard

Another helpful feature to have is a clear dashboard showing the status of multiple PBC lists. That way auditors can easily see what is coming in and what is still in progress all in one place. That will lessen confusion and improve the efficiency of their audits.

Source: unDraw

If a platform can provide the features mentioned above, it will be able to help auditors and businesses achieve the goal of easy, fast, and cost-effective audits.

What is a way to easily manage PBC lists?

AirSend is a digital workspace that allows for clear and easy collaboration. With AirSend, businesses can share files, send messages, complete tasks, and get work done in one space. The ability to create actions with automatic reminders and see alerts in one place make it an ideal option to manage dynamic PBC lists.

Send Messages

Auditors and businesses can have seamless conversations in secure, private channels.

Organize Files

They can complete PBC lists by sharing and organizing files using AirSend’s powerful file management system.

Track Open Items

They can also easily assign actions to track and complete the lists quickly in one place.

Find Everything Fast

No more endless searching for documents or requests. Auditors and businesses can files and open items in seconds.

Source: unDraw

As tax season comes around, its good to know a little about how audits work. As you can see, the right technology can make audits easier for everyone. So what’s your experience with PBC lists? We’d love to hear about it, so comment below.

You can also find out more about AirSend here.

“And here we thought he was a great general.”

Introduction

As previously mentioned before, Airsend is introducing our very own book corner. Here, we read, research, analyze, and write about book suggestions that are beneficial to all industries. From marketing to real estate, to plain business, we offer various types of books that are fascinating reads, and no, we assure you these are not textbooks.

This week we are covering a Stanley Bing novel, “Sun Tzu Was a Sissy: Conquer Your Enemies, Promote Your Friends, and Wage the Real Art of War.”

One of the most exciting novels to read, Bing provides a whole new perspective to the philosophy of a once-renowned Chinese General. However, this book is not a philosophy book. This book applies the everyday workforce philosophy with a  thrill of satire, dry humor, motivation, aspiration, inspiration, and ancient philosophy. It is like military tactics meeting the workforce.

Throughout the novel, Bing proposes a new perspective: apply Tzu’s core philosophy and essence of military tactics to the workforce. Wild, huh? But it works! Though the book feels like a how-to guide to becoming a great leader, there is plenty of useful and inspiring information for followers as well.

There are nine parts in the novel, however, I will only provide a brief summary to two parts that we believe are the first step in succeeding: leadership. This blog will focus on, “Part One: Preparing Your Bad Self,” and “Part Four: Quashing the Sissy Spirit.”

Part One: Preparing Your Bad Self

“Fate is both Yin and Yang. It is ice. It is fire. It is winter and spring, summer and fall, and then winter again. Go with it. Go against it. That is victory,” Sun Tzu.

Bing, Stanley. Sun Tzu Was a Sissy (p. 5). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

Analysis

Through each chapter in each part of the book, Bing provides a guided tour of self-improvement and conquering. Within these two categories, we felt that Part One was a calling. In the first chapter under part one, Beyond Yin and Yang: The Secret of Yinyang, Bing provides two real-person examples, Martha Stewart, who represents too much Yang, and Jerry Levin, who represent too much Yin.

In his analogical examples, Bing simplifies the concept. “Yang never drops its sword until death has made its decision who to take. Yin hopes that the other guy will die of a heart attack while he’s stabbing you,” ( p.6). However, if you combine the Yin and Yang together, you obviously get YinYang, which in its essence is winning, “It is Oneness, Sureness, Obnoxiousness. It is your warrior attitude. Beyond Yin. Beyond Yang. That’s so Old School. It’s YinYang. Get some,” (p.8).

After elaborating on Yin and Yang, Bing carries you into the next topic with a question that is also the chapter title, Are you Worth Dying For? (I’m Guessing Not). In summation, you must remember, you are your own army. You are not part of anybody else’s army, You create followers/supporters, not join them.

The last three parts of the chapter are dedicated to understanding the concept of “self-love,” and having people love you. The People’s Fate Star: You! Essentially, companies are usually deemed successful based on the quality of leadership. With leadership comes with having supporters- i.e. a company’s CEO who has loyal workers who are determined to achieve overall success. Why? Simply because they have respect for their leader.

Part One is a great starting point for readers as it is the focal point of the novel, and sets the overall tone of how this book turns out. Bing first tells you indirectly that you are not worth dying for, along with the secret of success, and then transitions to qualities of a leader through admiration of yourself, and then finally concludes that with becoming a leader, general, or CEO, you determine the outcome of your life and work. 

Part Four: Quashing the Sissy Spirit

“If it is not to your advantage, do nothing,” Sun Tzu. 

Bing, Stanley. Sun Tzu Was a Sissy (p. 86). HarperCollins e-books. Kindle Edition.

Analysis

The first chapter to part four is titled, Angry You, Invincible You. With a reference to the Three Stooges, Bing highly emphasizes that “other than patience and a hollow leg, anger is the single most important personal attribute that a warrior can possess. On a business terrain, the player who fights without anger is at a distinct disadvantage, because the real guns out there are furious all the time,” (p. 89-90). Anger, of course, is done best in moderation, which leads to Bing’s next topic, Finding your Button.

Through the process of finding your button comes the five-step progress of producing a sustained amount of anger.  A particular statement I found interesting and believe to apply to everyone is that “anger,” which in the professional terrain is transposed into competitiveness and determination, is sustained through the idea of having a competitor. The idea that company adversaries have the possibility to become more successful than the other, is, put simply, outraging. However, this concept of anger and competition has been around for a long time. We have just failed to use it to our ability.

The remainder of the chapter deals with relishing in competitors’ weaknesses, and what it takes to bust a move so to speak. “Great warriors may also lurk before they leap—but they have the capability, the need, to bust a move and make something happen,” (p.101).

Summation

As reiterated before, much of this book is dedicated to creating an excellent leader. However, there is also plenty of information on how to become a successful person in a company for those who do not aspire to be leaders by giving them the qualities of a leader. In other words, confidence. Bing’s analogies, references, and philosophy could be applied to entrepreneurs, aspiring leaders working under someone else, or the one-man-band type who carries their own clients.

We believe the purpose of this novel is to provide qualities of leadership to every aspect of society.

“Sun Tzu Was a Sissy,” is a comical, enlightening, and intrinsically knowledgeable book that enriches and inspires each reader to become their own leaders one day. What do you think society would like if all we had were leaders?? 

AirSend helps entrepreneurs create a versatile digital workspace to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you.

” Are you ready to feel satiated?? “

Alrighty, folks, you got your top three productive podcasts, now it is time for the top three marketing podcasts. If you are new to the marketing team or just looking for some insight into the marketing world, these podcasts are great. From basic marketing strategy to stories that retell the experiences of do’s and don’ts to marketing, these top three marketing podcasts will leave you satiated with knowledge. 

Marketing Over Coffee

Marketing Over Coffee is a podcast that covers both classic and new marketing. Hosts, John Wall and Christopher Penn cover 20-minute long episodes that are filled with various marketing tips and tricks in a casual setting. According to the homepage of their website, the topics they routinely cover are: 

  • Staying up to date with social networks
  • Search engine optimization and search marketing
  • Email marketing, multivariate testing, and copywriting
  • “Old school” offline marketing campaigns
  • And answer fantastic questions from listeners like you!

Episode Suggestions

The episode we suggest taking a gander at is “Jocelyn Brown on Branding and Return on Intent.” In this episode, Jocelyn discusses the essence of tracking marketing- which campaigns are working and not working, the idea that ROI (return of intent) is not everything, and Allocadia. They also discuss the timing of budgeting and spending money, and more importantly, the relationship between branding and the demand generation.

The second episode we suggest listening to is, “Special Interview with Simon Sinek, author of, ‘Start with Why.’” The purpose of this episode is to share the idea of pushing a crusade to create new leadership. According to Sinek, we lack leadership in today’s business. Leaders no longer act from the “why,” but from “what” and “how,”-  What do we do and how do we do it. There is no longer a question of “why we do it,” which is the essence of starting a business: why. In the episode, Sinek argues that due to the loss of “why” there is a loss of passion, which then leads to a lack of leadership. In other words, ‘why’ creates passion and passion creates leadership.

Key Topic

A key topic that is worth paying close attention in the episode with Sinek is the discussion of the golden circle. The golden circle is an idea. Sinek explains that businesses and brands think, act, and communicate the exact same way, however, their approach is lacking, and therefore could be done better. The golden circle consists of three levels: the bullseye is why, the ring outside of that is how, and the outermost level is what.

From there Sinek asks, “why do some marketing techniques work and others do not?” His answer, in addition to the golden circle, is manipulation and inspiration, and more that I could write a 15-page essay on, but this is a blog post people. Listen to the episode to find out more.

In summation, “Marketing Over Coffee” packs a mouthful of information on the essence of marketing and asks and provides insights on important questions that define what marketing and business are. This is the appetizer course, let’s move on to the dinner course. 

This Old Marketing Podcast

Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose co-host the Content Marketing Institute podcast, a 60-minute show rooted in the power of storytelling. From digital marketing news to real-life examples of campaigns that you can learn from. From the Content Marketing Institute podcast comes various other “sub-podcasts.” This Old Marketing podcast being one of them. Of course, all their content is valuable, so we highly suggest you check out their other podcasts, but, for now, we will be focusing on, This Old Marketing podcast. One of the oldest marketing rules in the book is retaining customers through storytelling. Pulizzi and Rose abide by this rule throughout their episodes. Found on the homepage of their website is a simplified outline of what their episodes cover:

  • Content Marketing in the News: We’ll cover three or four stories that hit the marketing scene each week, and give our perspective on the happenings — and how they impact our industry.
  • Rants and Raves: A one-minute rant on something that we feel is “hard to swallow” about the current marketing landscape; or a one-minute rave on something epic.
  • This Old Marketing Example of the Week: Digging into the vast archives of CMI, we will discuss an amazing content marketing example from the past that we can all still learn valuable lessons from.

Episode Suggestion

Allow me to indulge you in one episode that I find particularly fascinating. Episode 221: Marketing Always Works (If You Leave Out Certain Data). Combined with dry humor (which is the best kind of humor), Pulizzi and Rose discuss the launching of Disney+, including the stock market, users, and tech issues. Further into the shoe Rose discusses the current marketing bubble- online advertising.

Finally, Pulizzi and Rose further discuss the concept of cognitive bias; if you want something to work, you will put the methodology to show that it works. In summation, This Old Marketing provides a hole for you to jump in. Throughout the podcast, the hosts expose your mind with storytelling, hypothesis, what-ifs, humor, and of course the idea of advertising/marketing and the trends that go along with it. Ready for dessert?? 

Duct Tape Marketing

In addition to having a podcast, Duct Tape Marketing provides services to small businesses. Their tagline, “Let’s Talk About Growing Your Business,” which essentially is the foundation of their podcast. Additionally, they have a variety of book suggestions that also advise on how to become successful. A particular episode that is a great listen for first-time beginners is, “Paving the Path to a Purposeful Hustle.” The guest speaker is Deanna Singh, speaker, author, and founder and Chief Change Agent at Flying Elephant.

Throughout the podcast, host, John Jantsch proposes several questions: Why is it important to discover your own purpose? How can you find it? Once found, how do you start fully living it. In summation, this episode provides insight on how to find your purpose and transpose that into business. Deanna Singh discusses her purpose, defines impact in a business context, implement self-therapy, and inspire positivity and change. These attributes pave the path to a purposeful hustle. A refreshing outlook, Duct Tape Marketing is a wonderful podcast to listen anytime throughout the day. Like I said, this is a wonderful dessert podcast. 

Conclusion

These podcasts are great for those inexperienced, experienced, curious, everyday-knowledge absorbers, and marketing teams. These marketing podcasts provide splendid insight on how to become better at marketing. Of course, there are many, many, attributes, however, listening to these three podcasts is the first step in becoming better, not just in marketing, but in life as well. Bon Appetit. 

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you.

Hiring is one of the hardest parts of running a business. It has a big impact on not only your business but also your mental health. Hiring the right person can be the difference between being excited to get to work every morning or dreading the frustration of dealing with a difficult employee on a daily basis.

So how do you choose the right person for your team?

The Thirukkural can help.

The Thirukkural is a 2000-year old classic Tamil text written by Thiruvalluvar on every aspect of life, from leadership to love. It is considered one of the most important texts in Tamil literature and has been admired by many influential people over the years, including Leo Tolstoy and Mahatma Gandhi.

Over 40 translations of the Thiruvalluvar exist, but many are outdated and difficult to apply to modern times. That’s why we chose the easily relatable modern rendition of the text written by Kannan to use for this post.

The key principles of life transcend time and place, and the principles of personnel hiring and management are no exception. Here are three proven tips on how to hire well.

Tip #1

வாரி பெருக்கி வளம்படுத் துற்றவை
ஆராய்வாஞ் செய்க வினை.

“Let him do that task – he, who has multiplied the sources of income, generated revenues, and analysed and overcome hurdles.”

– modern rendition of the Thirukkural by Kannan
Source: GIPHY

Look for someone who has accomplished measurable results in their career and has overcome difficulties.

Measurable results are something you can look for on a resume, but it also helps to ask questions like, “What is something you’ve done in your career that you’re most proud of? What where the results?” While not a fail-proof way to hire the right person, choosing someone with a track record of success reduces the risk of ending up with someone who is incompetent.

Not only do you want someone with a positive track record, you want someone with a positive track record when it comes to handling difficult situations. Rising tides lift all boats. Most people can do good work in easy times, but what about when the going gets tough? The road of entrepreneurship is filled with challenges, and someone who can help you navigate those challenges is invaluable.

To determine how a person handles difficult situations, a good interview question is: “What is a challenge that you’ve encountered, and how did you overcome it?

Tip #2

அன்பறிவு தேற்ற மவாவின்மை யிந்நான்கும்
நன்குடையான் கட்டே தெளிவு.

“Love, wisdom, fearless analytical mind and lack of misdirected desire: go for a person who scores high on these.”

– modern rendition of the Thirukkural by Kannan
Source: Pexels

Hire someone who is driven, knowledgeable, clear-headed, courageous, and disciplined.

  • Love is passion, and passion translates to drive. Trying to motivate someone who doesn’t want to work is one of the most difficult challenges a business owner can encounter. To prevent putting yourself in that situation, hire a person who is driven and self-motivated.
  • Wisdom is knowing how to do things right. You want to work with someone who knows what they’re doing, so this is definitely a trait to look for.
  • A fearless analytical mind has the ability to analyze facts, come to accurate conclusions, and face those facts and conclusions with courage. Such clarity and bravery is rare, so if you do find someone with this trait — hire them.
  • A person with discipline, or lack of misdirected desire, is more likely to be able to provide high-quality work, meet deadlines, and accomplish targets. That makes discipline an important trait to look for as well.

No one is perfect, but if you find someone who scores high on at least three of the four traits, they are worth looking into.

Tip #3

அறிந்தாற்றிச் செய்கிற்பாற் கல்லால் வினைதான்
சிறந்தானென் றேவற்பாற் றன்று.

“Assign the task to those who know it, can plan, execute and get it done; and not to the most prominent, or likeable, person.”

– modern rendition of the Thirukkural by Kannan
Source: Pexels

Hire someone because they can do the job, not because you like them or because they’re popular.

While it may be tempting to hire your friend because you think it would be fun to work with them — don’t. At the end of the day, you hire a person because you need to get a job done. And while a friend is great to go out to dinner with, they may not be the best person to get the job done.

The same reasoning applies to hiring based on popularity — don’t do it. Most of us learn this in high school with useless student body presidents, but obviously the most popular person in the room is not always the most competent.

Stay focused on your hiring objective and don’t be swayed by your emotions.

Are you ready to hire?

Deciding who to hire is a big decision that requires thought and foresight, but it doesn’t have to be a headache. These ancient, time-tested tips will start you on the right path so that both you and your business succeed.

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace for professionals to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you as your business grows here.

“We are bringing productivity towards you.”

Welcome to the productivity corner! In the blog posts, we break down our top three productive podcasts that are sure to leave you feeling, well, productive. For more insight on how to feel productive, check out our other blog posts. Surely, you are aware of what podcasts are and how they are beneficial, so I will not waste another sentence explaining why they are great for productivity. Instead, I am going to blow your mind away with the three podcasts that will change the way you live your life. Here are our top three productive podcasts.

Getting Things Done

Hosted by David Allen, author of, “Getting Things Done,” (how original), uses his GTD system to help listeners achieve what he calls a “mind like water.” Among the various topics discussed: technology, creativity, and improving mental flow. What is GTD you might ask??

Well, “GTD is a personal productivity methodology that redefines how you approach life and work,” (Allen, 2019). GTD is compromised of five-steps: Capture, Clarify, Organize, Reflect, and Engage. To find out more what each step is comprised of, click here. Here are some episodes we suggest for first-time listeners:

Episode #40: Best Practices of Email Communication

We all know that checking emails is murder to our production levels. I didn’t check my email for a day, and I had 40 unread messages, and I’m sure there are others who have more! It’s madness! Okay, well, it’s not that bad, but you get the idea. In this episode, “Coach Kelly Forrister focuses on the best practices of email communications with others,” such as writing and using appropriate subject lines and messages, for the ultimate efficiency, and therefore productivity.

Episode #36: Overcoming Procrastination

In summation, this episode involves David Allen outlining the sources of procrastination and talks about the ways to overcome it. Definitely worth a listen, as this episode gauges the levels of procrastination and how they disturb the levels of productivity. GTD is a great podcast to listen to during lunch, as that is usually when productivity levels plateaus. GTD is on Spotify, iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play Music, Soundcloud, and Libsyn.

Though GTD heavily promotes its content, it is still great content. Also known as efficient time management, GTD promotes the idea of recording planned tasks and projects. From recording the tasks, you break each task into actionable work items. Here at AirSend, we do the time management for you. We give you the ability to efficiently organize your tasks, create channels, and implement efficient communication. In essence, AirSend is the lifehack for the GTD system. On to the second podcast.

The 5 AM Miracle Podcast

Rated as the #2 Hottest Productivity Podcast by Inc. Magazine, the 5 AM Miracle Podcast is all about dominating your day before breakfast by developing powerful early-morning habits and rituals. Speaking of breakfast, you should also dominate the day with our top three breakfasts-on-the-go. You can eat while listening to this amazing podcast.

The 5 AM Miracle is a one-of-a-kind podcast that carries the duality of productivity and inspiration. For first time listeners, we recommend listening to the episode that defines the essence of productivity: The Castle I’m Building and Why You Need One Too. 

Episode #311: The Castle I’m Building and Why You Need One Too

Throughout the episode, Jeff Sanders, the host of The 5 AM Miracle, discusses the difference between a castle and an empire. From there he discusses the 10 components of a well-built castle:

  1. BluePrint for the ideal goal
  2. The belief that the end goal is possible and worth pursuing
  3. Alignment with your skills and interests with the castles requirements 
  4. Acknowledgment that takes years to complete
  5. Resources that you need today
  6. Implement a tracking system to monitor your progress 
  7. Network of educational materials to learn from 
  8. The willingness to evolve and change the plans as the castle is built 
  9. Willingness to start over and over again 
  10. Willingness to tear down the castle when the time has come

Think of your castle as your kanban or scrum board – effective for organization and production. Your castle is your comfort zone. Your comfort zone is where you peak at productivity. You can find this episode and more on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and Overcasts. Onwards to out last productive podcast.

TED Radio Hour

To end on a surprising and exciting note, the TED Radio Hour podcast curates the best TED talks and puts them together in an episodic format. Though it’s a show about ‘anything,’ there is an underlying theme that connects all the stories.

Consider these episodic podcasts to be full of information that can pass by the time or a substitute for relaxing music while doing work. TED Radio Hour is one of the few productive podcasts that incorporate informational storytelling. For beginner listeners, try out this episode: Inspire to Action. There you have it, folks. These are the three productive podcasts we believe will prove beneficial to get you through the day.

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you here.


“The ins and outs of having the right social media for the right business.”

When it comes to marketing, it is important to create and maintain an online presence through social media. It is 2019, almost 2020, and society is continuously progressing towards an era of digital transformation. According to Salesforce, “Digital transformation is the process of using digital technologies to create new- or modify existing – business processes, culture, and customer experiences to meet changing business and marketing requirements.” 

One of the leading forms of digital transformation is social media. According to Google, the term social media means “websites and applications that enable users to create and share content or to participate in social networking.” Social media is the essence of customer interactivity, communication, building relationships, and diversified culture. Let’s begin with LinkedIn.

LinkedIn

I am sure everyone knows what LinkedIn is, however, for those who do not know, LinkedIn is an American business and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps- mainly used for professional networking. With LinkedIn you can make business connections, share resumes, and find jobs. Essentially it is the combination of Facebook and Indeed. Several of their mottos are, “Welcome to your professional community,” “Learn the skills you need to succeed,” and “Join your colleagues, classmates, and friend on LinkedIn.” So, what businesses are great for LinkedIn, and how can LinkedIn bring more traffic to your business?

The real power behind LinkedIn: Word of Mouth (WOM). The ability to tap into existing connections and grow your brand. Remember when I said LinkedIn is like Facebook and Indeed mashed together? I mean precisely that. Take realtors, for example. LinkedIn would be one of the perfect platforms to spread business and personality. Realtors can continuously update their feed with pictures of homes that are on the market or sold, have a complete “bio” page, like and comment on other clients’ feeds, and remain in contact with their clients.

Of course, LinkedIn is not entirely like facebook in the sense that LinkedIn is not centered on memes or what your cat is doing. Instead, it is a platform for professionals, businesses, and business to business relationships (B2B) to interact with other aspiring professionals, building a client base, and accumulate referrals. In summation, LinkedIn is the platform where you would want to grow your business in a professional setting( more business-like). Nothing like Twitter, where you tweet every Monday you wish it was Friday. But, Twitter is not all that bad for business, and here’s why. 

Twitter

Twitter’s call to action is pure genius: see what’s happening in the world right now. “Why is it pure genius, Miss AirSend, writer?” I’m glad you asked. The ability to keep up with what’s happening in the world is something like, “The Neverending Story.” The ability to search the world with trending hashtags, which are usually comprised of one word, and then receive thousands of posts related to that word, is honestly, something that is far beyond my imagination. Twitter is a gold mine for marketing and rhetoric. We have crossed the threshold of what we originally thought was rhetoric into a new form of rhetoric: 280 characters or less. It’s genius! Pardon the rant, let me go ahead and explain to you why Twitter is excellent for growing business. 

  1. Follow your Interests
  2. Here what people are talking about 
  3. Join in the conversation 

These three steps are on the homepage of Twitter, and subsequently, the key to growing your business through an online presence. Unlike LinkedIn, where a professional presence is the hallmark to success, Twitter actually cares about what your cat is doing. Or what you had for breakfast. Think of Twitter as your personality platform.

For marketing consultants, life coaches, and even mentors, Twitter is a great source of advertising. Or software company, realtors, public figures, etc. When viewers see your personality through your feed, it can lead to potential clients. Potential clients also use WOM to their followers to check out your business/twitter. Twitter is also great for interaction with followers. Customers and clients want to see personality when they research businesses. Twitter is one of the most versatile diversified platforms. Looking for more of a visual appeal for your business, try out Instagram!

Instagram

Whereas life coaches and realtors would find Twitter to be a great place to relay information in 280 characters or less, designers or make-up artists, for example, would find Instagram to be more advantageous. Why? Again, it is for visual appeal. With Instagram, there is the ability to create 24-hour stories, Instagram TV, upload videos and photos, and also explore like-minded creators. Much like Twitter and LinkedIn, Professionals can also keep in contact with potential clients, reply to comments, and maintain an active presence, which, thanks to the user interface (UI), is incredibly easy.


Further, Instagram is marketed towards creators,i.e. artists, who post captivating photos. Designers and make-up artists have a massive presence to the Instagram community, because, again, there is a personal connection between professional and client, and visual appeal in their market. Of course, Instagram is a place for foodies as well. Having photogenic food posted all over your feed is also a plus to freelance food writers (yes, other writers as well).

Instagram is a social media art haven. It is a platform that caters to the idea of portfolios. Of course, realtors, life coaches, and other professionals can have an Instagram as well; however, it is more beneficial for them to apply their rhetoric through words rather than pictures. 

Facebook Pages

Facebook made from concrete alphabet top view on green grass

“Create a beautiful online home for your business.” This is the motto for Facebook Pages. The benefit to facebook pages is that anyone can have one. It is a platform dedicated to a variety of content. Pictures, pictures with words, or words themselves. Creators, innovators, analyzers, and other professionals, can create an online presence with their business/portfolio. Facebook pages are great for building a community, promoting events, sharing offers, and selling things on Facebook Marketplace.

We are now in an era where technology has become our go-to marketing/business. With digital transformation, advertising has become more accessible than ever. There is now the ability to have user feedback, customer interaction, fast updates, and the innovation of marketing analysis, which ultimately improves business. The tricky part when facing technology is figuring out the right approach for the right business. In other words, the right social platform that conveys the right personality of your business.

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In our post about how to make your small business go viral, we talked about the importance of storytelling in personal branding. But clearly defining your brand story is just the first step.

Once you know what you and your business are all about, how do you communicate that clearly and effectively? In other words, how do you translate your brand story into material that attracts people to your business and converts them into paying customers?

Good copywriting.

In an episode of the podcast EveryoneHatesMarketers.com, Joanna Wiebe talks about the three steps to writing copy that converts. These three steps are actions that anyone can take right away to tell their brand story in a way that connects to potential customers. You don’t have to be a professional writer or marketer. Wiebe assures us that anyone can write effective copy.

Step 1: Listen to Your Customers

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Even to an experienced writer, the blank page can be scary. Thankfully, you don’t have to come up with the words on your own. 

The first step to effective copywriting is to listen to your customers.

Good copy resonates with people because they think “That’s exactly how I feel!” or “I totally agree! In fact, I think I’ve used those exact words before!” The way to build that kind of rapport with your audience is to speak in their language — use their words.

So how do you collect words out of customers’ heads?

Wiebe gives two methods.

  1. Do Customer Interviews
  2. Read Reviews

Customer interviews give you the opportunity to find out exactly what customers are thinking. What was going on in their life that brought them to your product or service? When you’re interviewing customers, it’s important to ask open-ended questions and to dig deeper with follow-up questions when something piques your interest.

Reading reviews is the budget-friendly alternative to doing customer interviews. Even though you can’t dig deeper when you hear something interesting, reviews still provide insight into the language that customers use to describe their experiences.

With both customer interviews and reviews, don’t limit yourself to your own customers. Interviewing your competitors’ customers or reading competitors’ reviews can give you a gold mine of material to work with.

Step 2: Use a Proven Framework

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Once you’ve collected the words that you’re going to use, it’s time to organize. Using a proven framework to organize your material makes things easy. Wiebe says her favorite copywriting template is problem, agitation, and solution.

Problem

First you want to convey the big picture problem that’s being solved by your product or service. This is where the interviews and reviews come in handy. What problems did the customers talk about, and what words did they use to describe them?

Agitation

Next, you want to agitate the big picture problem by providing specific examples of the issue — again from the information you collected from interviews and reviews. Another form of agitation is to provide almost solutions. This solution almost works, but it doesn’t. That solution… never mind. That doesn’t work either.

You can agitate by using one or both methods, but always remember to stick to the customer’s words. Don’t try to rewrite what they said or polish it to make it sound fancy. Revision comes later, and it’s not what you might think.

Solution

Finally, after you’ve agitated, it’s time to present a solution that works. This is where you talk about your product or service, and show (still in your customers’ words) how it can solve their problems. This is also where you put your call to actions like “book your appointment now” or “click to schedule a free consultation.”

Step 3: Sweep It Up

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You should have a solid piece of copy by this point from finishing the first two steps. The last step is to do seven sweeps for revision. Wiebe makes it clear that they are called sweeps because they should be quick, and that the point of these sweeps is not to polish. You want to keep it as raw as possible. The only goal of the sweeps is to do some light clean up and make sure the customer language you’re using doesn’t sound clunky.

  1. Clarity Sweep — ask yourself, “Is the language clear? Is it clear what I’m talking about?”
  2. Voice and Tone Sweep — ask “Is this in line with my brand?” and “Am I feeling what I want my customers to feel when they read this?”
  3. So what? Sweep — ask “Why does this matter? Why do I care?” You and your customer should be able to easily find the answer to those questions within your copy.
  4. Prove It Sweep — after you’ve established the why, make sure your copy contains some proof. This could be social proof in the form of reviews, or demos of your product or service.
  5. Specificity Sweep — ask yourself, “Am I being specific or too vague?” and “Is there any way for me to be more specific?”
  6. Emotion Sweep — ask “Is this making me feeling something? Is it making me feel enough?” and “Will this make my customers feel enough to want to buy my product or service?”
  7. Zero Risk Sweep — finally, ask “When do I feel risk when I read this copy?” and “How do I reduce that risk by the end of the story so that customers feel that making a purchase is a safe choice?”

Tell Your Story

As you can see, good copywriting doesn’t have to be hard, and it doesn’t have to be outsourced. What has been your experience writing copy for your business? Let us know by leaving a comment below!

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace for professionals to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you as your business grows here.

“Karma? Yoga? What?”

That’s right, Karma Yoga. I’m sure you are thinking to yourself, “okay, Miss AirSend writer, you’ve officially lost it.” Fear not! I have not lost it just yet. But, really, Karma Yoga! It is an excellent practice to use when working with big or small business, or if you are simply a working professional trying to make a name in society. Karma Yoga is one of the four spiritual paths in Hinduism, one that is based on the “yoga of action.”

To a karma yogi, right work done well is a form of prayer. It is one of the paths in the spiritual practices, others being Raja yoga, Jnana yoga, and Bhakti yoga. So, how do we apply Karma Yoga in the Workplace? What are the principles of Karma Yoga? Well, allow me to first provide the introduction of what the principles are, and then I will tell you how to implement these principles in the workplace. 

Karma Yoga is about purifying the heart and counteracting egoism. It involves the dedication of all work as an offering, with no thought of personal reward. From this rule follows the four guiding principles: Right Attitude, Right Motive, Give up Result, and Serve the Self in All. Let’s begin with the first principle: Right Attitude.

Right Attitude.

The action of some kind or the other (Karma) is unavoidable. If we act as a participant in the cosmic activity of Nature, without expectation of personal gain, our actions become part of the ineffable goodness dwelling in all living beings. What binds us to phenomenal existence (known in Sanskrit as Samsara) is not the action but the idea of doing and enjoying. In other words, rather than thinking of personal gain, think of your work as a contribution to society of which you are a part of. 

Changing your thinking in terms of contributing to the greater good allows for better workflow mentality and alleviates the pressure of trying to work with personal gain in mind. It is always encouraged to have aspirations within society, but one cannot achieve aspirations without contributing.

Right Motive 

When action is done without the expectation of fruits, it becomes liberating – as the action itself is born from the space of selflessness. Karma Yoga can be practiced at all times, under all conditions, anywhere there is a desire to do selfless service and purify the heart. Right Attitude = Right Motive.

To contribute to society without expecting anything in return becomes liberating for the mind. Why? Because you are not continuously thinking which decision will lead you to the most rewards. You, yourself, alleviate the pressure on yourself by removing the expectation of receiving something. Think of it like this.

As a self-serving professional for example, one of their jobs is to maintain connections with their clients. If the professional delivers to the client without expecting anything in return, it is safe to say the job for the professional becomes much easier. There is a peace of mind for the professional, even if the client becomes upset, the professional knows they delivered their best, so they can carry on with the rest of the day with no worry. because they delivered to the client without expectation.

Take out the expectation of reward, and all you have is a selfless worker delivering the quota for their company. To clarify, Karma Yoga is not the same thing as having personal goals within the company. It is great to have the aspirations, however, how can you progress in life if you are always expecting something in return?

Give Up Result

Feel that you are only an instrument and that the inner peace is working through you. Much like an orchestra, you, yourself, are also an instrument that helps create the overall sound of the company. Imagine an orchestra with a first and second violin section. Now, imagine that all you can hear is the sound coming from the first violins. You strain to hear the second violins, but the sounds of the first violins take over. Now, you have an unbalanced orchestra. All you hear is the melody, but no harmony. 

This is the same for the workplace. Do not think of yourself as a tool, but as someone who helps create the overall sound of the company. Someone who enjoys working for their company, and does not expect anything in return. To work and not expect anything, I believe is the true happiness of working. 

Detachment from results also means detachment from the type of job itself. There is no job that is inferior or superior to a different job. Putting this into practice, you will be freed from the bonds of Karma and enjoy peace. Karma, then becomes Karma Yoga, preparing our heart and mind for the reception of Knowledge of the Self. An amiable, loving social nature will arise within.

Serve the Self in All 

In sum, Karma Yoga teaches us to be selfless. To work without expecting anything in return, to consider ourselves a vital piece to the orchestra we are playing, and to detach ourselves from the idea of rewards and the self. By detaching ourselves from the fruits of our actions and offering them back to society, we learn to sublimate the ego.

Work unselfishly. Each job is a teacher of some sort. You can learn different skills by doing different jobs. Each job has different requirements in terms of time, degree of concentration, skills or experience, emotional input, physical energy, will. Try to do whatever job you are doing, well. Be humble and free, rejoice in the welfare of others.

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Running a small business is tough. You don’t have a dedicated marketing team to get the word out, easy access to additional funding, or any of the other perks that come with size. Maybe that’s why 50% of small businesses fail within the first two years of opening according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So how do you launch your small business from the trenches of struggle to the heights of success with limited resources?

Go viral.

Going viral means people are sharing your business with co-workers, friends, family — who are sharing it with their co-workers, friends, family — who are also sharing it.

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And everyone is sharing it because they want to. Not because you’re spending thousands of dollars on ads or bribing them with freebies.

Going viral means exponential growth and exposure at no additional cost or effort from you.

If that sounds good, keep reading.

What do tribes have to do with it?

While not a fail-proof guide to breaking the Internet, Seth Godin’s Tribes contains some valuable tips on how to build a powerful brand — a key to viral success for any business, small or large. In the book, Godin reframes some basic marketing principles around the concept of tribes.

A tribe is a group of people with a shared interest and a way to communicate. Godin encourages people to make tribes and become leaders because the world needs tribes and leaders to encourage progress and enact change.

For a small business:

  • Leader = You
  • Tribe = Loyal Customers
  • Leader + Tribe = Viral Growth

So how do you attract and lead a group of loyal customers that are so excited about your business that they share it with everyone? Other than providing quality products or services, you need to tell a story.

Good stories make history.

Behind every powerful brand is a powerful brand story. Let’s look at how stories contributed to the success of two renowned brands: Apple (ranked by Interbrand as 2019’s most influential brand in the world) and Disney.

Apple

When Apple first entered the tech scene in the 1980’s, computers were seen as large, mysterious machines used only by governments, scientists, and corporations.

The company’s “1984” ad was not only a landmark moment in TV advertising but also a storytelling-as-branding masterpiece. In just one minute, Apple positions itself and its “personal computers” as the rebel — the little guy against giants like IBM and the “establishment” — who will save the world from an oppressive dystopia.

The computer itself isn’t even shown. But the point is clear, and the rest is history.

Disney

Disney as a brand epitomizes the power of great storytelling.

It does the opposite of most companies. Most companies create products, then spin stories around those products. Disney tells stories, then makes products to fit the stories.

First comes Mickey Mouse, then the figurines, mouse ear headbands and amusement parks. First comes Frozen, then the Elsa dresses, snowflake-shaped candy and skating shows.

It’s a unique approach that has led to great success and which exemplifies the possibilities that open up with great stories.

Source: GIPHY

In a world where attention spans are shrinking and people are bombarded with information from every direction, without a powerful brand you are nothing. And to create a powerful brand you need a powerful brand story.

Get Personal.

You might be thinking — I run a small business. What does Apple and Disney’s large-scale storytelling success have to do with me?

Branding is just as important for a small business as it is for a large one. But with a small business, you are the business. So it’s more about personal branding than anything else.

Personal branding is the practice of marketing yourself as a brand. You identify the skills, experiences, and passions that make you who you are as a professional and communicate that in a way that makes people want to work with you.

So how do you create an attractive personal brand? Same way Apple and Disney created industry-changing business brands — tell a good story.

What makes a good story?

Godin gives us two key points.

#1: Good Stories Upset People

Who are you upsetting? If the answer is no one — go back to the drawing board. Powerful stories take a strong stance, and strong stances almost always make someone uncomfortable.

Godin warns against trying to please everyone by diluting what you truly believe in. He stresses that opponents are GOOD. Their opposition strengthens your message and brand.

#2: Good Stories Are Authentic

Have you ever immediately disliked someone because you felt they were being fake? Or the opposite — clicked with a person because of their authenticity. The same goes for stories, brands, and businesses.

Make sure your brand story reflects your beliefs and values. Customers will be able to tell whether or not you’re being genuine, especially in a small business where you interact with them on a regular basis. And no one likes a fake.

It starts with one.

Building a small business can seem daunting, but remember it only takes 1,000 true fans to be successful and much less than 1,000 loyal customers to go viral.

In fact, it starts with one. One person who shares your business with co-workers, friends, family — who share it with their co-workers, friends, family — who also share it.

So tell your story. Create your tribe. What are you waiting for?

AirSend is a versatile digital workspace for professionals to share files, send messages, and complete tasks. See how AirSend can help you as your business grows here.

“It is not just a book, it is the guidebook to facing the unknown  fear.”

Please note that this blog will be discussing two chapters that we believed carried the most significance to our topic. The whole book is a wonderful read, and as much as we would love to discuss the whole book, the magic should be left for the reader to experience.

The purpose of Fields’s research is to convince readers that having fear of the unknown is necessary for business. Additionally, Fields provides wonderful examples and strategies of how to combat uncertainty when starting a business.  Uncertainty is fear. Fear can be anything when starting a business, such as the unspoken judgment when a project launches, the unpredicted feedback, or simply the fear of an idea being successful or not.

The two chapters we will be focusing on are, “Chapter 1: Why Uncertainty Matters,” and “Chapter 4: Find your Certainty Anchors.” Found in the introduction, Fields discusses filmmakers and CEO’s who turned their life around with fear and an idea. Additionally, he also provides a general layout of what the book will cover and their significance. Every professional is afraid to start their own business, expand on an idea, etc. But, according to the author, we shouldn’t be afraid of uncertainty. The Uncertainty Matters, and here’s why. 

Chapter One: Why Uncertainty Matters

Probably one of the most significant and meaningful inspiration can be found in the first chapter, “When you begin, nothing is certain save the drive to create something worth the effort. The more certain you are of the answer or the outcome in advance, the more likely it is to have been done already- to be derivative- and the less anyone will care, including you. Anything certain has already been done,” (Fields, p. 15). 

Consider this quote to be a Business 101 Guide to learning how to start your practice. To find certainty in an idea means to create something innovating. In other words, the idea should only speak uncertainty. The question then remains, how do we use the uncertainty to our advantage?  

“Creators need data. They need judgment, feedback, and criticism. Without them, there’s no way to know whether what you’re creating is working or not. When you base your actions on random guesses, rather than on relevant information, growth and movement towards brilliance slow dramatically or grind to a halt. Kill constructive judgment and you retard growth, adaptation, and evolution,” (Fields p. 18). Judgment, feedback, and criticism are all uncertain elements that we dread to hear when testing out an idea. Why? Because we do not want to be told our idea is a failure. As leading innovators, our ideas represent who we are, and what we stand for.

Additionally, Fields has taken the opportunity of including subsection that eases the reader into the topic of uncertainty. For example, there is a subsection titled, Amplifying Uncertainty, Exalting Uncertainty, It’s Not Just for Start-Ups and Tech, and Hailed But Reviled. Through each subsection, the author provides amazing examples of other like-minded creators. These creators, much like us in the beginning, had an uncertain idea and ran with it. As reiterated before, when facing uncertainty, it is almost always best not to face the unknown empty-handed. Chapter four is the first step in creating your arsenal.

Chapter Four: Find Your Certainty Anchors 

The purpose of this chapter is to prepare your arsenal for uncertainty. First, we must ask the question, “What is a certainty anchor?” Under the subsection, The Power of Certainty Anchors, the author explains the definition. “A certainty anchor is a practice or process that adds something known and reliable to your life when you may otherwise feel you’re spinning off in a million different directions,” (p. 46). In other words, the concept of certainty anchors is routines or ideas that remain with you at all times.

Certainty anchors could be ideas, rituals, routines, or positive thinking. We find it best to think of Certainty Anchors as routines that help expose my creative process. The reason being is that routines are always there. They are grounding experiences to which you can always return to. In other words, no matter how successful or unsuccessful business is, you can always return to my routines.

Steven Pressfield, author of “The War of Art,” opens a window into the power of ritual in creative work. “Broader lifestyle routines serve as a salve to calm a bit of the anxiety of creation and to drop an anchor to which we can tether our creative lines, knowing we can then float higher up in the clouds and stay there longer, trusting that we will be able to find our way down,” (p. 47).

Routines, i.e. certainty anchors, help overcome the fear, anxiety, and discomfort of uncertainty. Routines are one of the symbols of familiarity (the other is knowledge). Familiarity helps take on challenges that make you feel productive. You wouldn’t try something new unless you were positive you had the knowledge to do so. Why? Well, again, it is because we know that our familiarity (routines and/or knowledge) cannot be taken away from us.

Conclusion

The first step in dealing with uncertainty is to first acknowledge its presence. The second step is Certainty anchors. Accept the fear (i.e. uncertainty). You can always acknowledge that something exists, but to accept it as a part of creation is different. After acknowledging and accepting the uncertainty, Fields uses the remainder of the book to discuss how to apply uncertainty to your practice.

Throughout the book, there are many examples, advice, and knowledge of how to start a business. Fields’s research revolves around facing uncertainty in the business/professional world. His goal is to provide insight and inspire like-minded entrepreneurs to face fear rather than run away from it.

Fields once said, “Snuffing out uncertainty leads to a sea of prematurely terminated mediocre output…if only we’d had the will to embrace uncertainty, risk, and judgment, and hang on a bit longer. If only we’d learn how to harness and ride rather than hunt and kill the butterflies that live in the gut of every person who strives to create something extraordinary from nothing,” (p.27).

Image result for Uncertainty book

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