How to choose a career-The Simple Dollar way

2009/03/18 at 11:26 am (Article)

There are a lot of ways to choose a career. Most of them are bad.

Someone tells you, “Hey, you know, you should be a ….” Bad.

You started a job and just kind of stuck around because nothing better came along. Bad.

You pick out a college major because it seems interesting at first glance, without really knowing the kind of work it entails. Bad.

Your parents always had some particular dream for you. Bad.

You took a job because you needed some quick cash and never left because you got hooked on the paychecks. Bad.

Although they might all seem like different paths on the surface, these methods all have one big thing in common. None of them take you into account. Your passions, your talents, your interests — none of them matter in any of those cases. Instead, they’re all driven by the opinions of others or a paycheck.

Instead, I suggest the following. This is the exact advice I’ll give to my kids as they approach graduation age.

The Simple Dollar plan

Throw your preconceptions out the window. So many people block out what they should be doing because of something they’ve been told or something false they’ve come to believe about themselves. “I’d love to do X, but ….” is a statement that keeps you from choosing the right career.

Don’t worry about income when choosing a career. Most career paths are littered with “average” people — people who jumped into a career because of the reasons above and aren’t pursuing it with passion. The people with passion are in the top 10%. Thus, you’ll make more in the seemingly lower-end career that you’re passionate about than you will in the more high-end career that you’re more ho-hum about.

Listen to your heart. Don’t listen to anyone’s blather about what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, or what you should be interested in and what you shouldn’t. I watched one boy’s artistic impulses get crushed by a family that thought boys shouldn’t be artists. I watched a woman’s ability to paint be brushed aside by a husband who thought it wasn’t lucrative enough for his tastes. Ignore those people. Listen to what your innermost heart is telling you.

Be realistic about your skills. Most jobs require some skills to get your foot in the door. For example, I’m never going to be a Major League Baseball player (although I dream of throwing out the first pitch at a Cubs game). That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t be able to find some job in the baseball world. There are lots of jobs associated with baseball, from concession stands and sports management to physical therapy and sports writing. Don’t give up on your baseball-fueled dreams just because you can’t pitch like CC Sabathia or hit like Ichiro Suzuki.

Got all that? What’s left is figuring out what your skills are (your actual vocation) and what you’re passionate about (the subject of your vocation). Find a way to match the two, and not only will you be happy for a very long time, but you’ll also find yourself naturally rising in your career path.

How do I figure out my skills? There are lots of indicators for this. Not all of these will match perfectly, but many of them will.

  • What classes come easier to you? Do you find math easy? Do you find English easy? How about foreign languages? Maybe you excel at sports/physical education, or perhaps at the sciences.
  • What are you drawn to doing in your spare time? For example, if you are sitting at a desk with a pen and paper for 15 minutes, what winds up on that paper? Math equations? Doodles of baseball players? What else do you do in your spare time?
  • What areas do you test well in? Take some standardized tests. Where are your scores high? Those are areas you likely have a natural aptitude for.
  • What careers match your personality? Take a Myers-Briggs test like this one and see what areas you’re naturally drawn to. Such tests aren’t perfect, but they are good guides for general areas to look at.
  • What do others perceive you as an expert at? Perhaps you’re a great matchmaker, or maybe you’re the best at solving algebra problems. Whatever you’re good at, others often identify it and begin to think of you as an expert at it.
  • What career paths make you feel happiest when you imagine yourself following through with them? Picture yourself in 10 years doing what you envision as a normal job in a career path. Do you seem happy there, or unhappy?

Remember, none of these will individually point you to where your skills and talents lie, but together they’ll give you an indication of some general directions.

How do I figure out my passions? I’ve written extensively about finding your passion. It really boils down to a few basic things.

  • Ask questions. Whenever something interests you and you have a question in your head, ask it and seek the answer.
  • Ignore what’s “cool.” Instead, listen to what you like. The definition of cool is often just the reflection of other people’s interests mixed with some clever marketing. It’s not a reflection of what you enjoy.
  • Dabble in everything. Try new things all the time. Don’t get stuck in a rut doing the same thing over and over. Try doing a completely new activity every weekend.
  • When something really piques your interest, try it again — and again. If something was truly enjoyable, try it again in a few days. Then again, and again. Find out if it was just the thrill of something new or something that actually engages you.
  • Associate with people who share this new interest of yours. Surround yourself with people who also enjoy this passion. Join a club — or form one. Seek out friends who also enjoy these things.
  • Don’t keep pushing it if it starts to die out. Sometimes we’ll feel a flare of interest in something, then it’ll dry out. If it does, don’t let that bother you.

If you spend a consistent period of time doing this — a few years, for example — you’ll likely stumble upon the areas you’re passionate about.

Think of ways to tie your skills to your passions. If you’re lucky, they’ll naturally coincide, but quite often they won’t. That means you’ll have to search. Don’t be afraid to ask for help in thinking of ways they overlap in a way that appeals to you. If you have genuine talent in one area and deep passion in another, there’s almost always something out there to bridge the gap.

Find out more about specific careers. At this point, you’ll probably have some worthwhile ideas. Maybe, if you’re really lucky, you’ll already have figured out what you want. At this point, seek out people who are already working in that area. E-mail a few and ask them what their career is like. Quite a few will be happy to answer, and their answers will likely clue you in even more as to what’s right for you and what isn’t.

Find a mentor in that area — or near that area. Once you’re close to or beginning to engage in a career path, find a mentor — someone who has already succeeded on the path you’re facing. Ask lots of questions of people who are strong in the field and seek one or two with whom you really click. Let those people mentor you and guide you to success.

This post comes from Trent Hamm at partner blog The Simple Dollar.



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Milwaukee Funny ads

2009/03/17 at 10:59 am (Creative Ads)

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Seven Tips for Creating a Successful Print Ad

2009/03/17 at 10:03 am (Article)

1. Headlines at the top, not logos!

Many small business owners make the mistake of thinking that advertising their business means putting a great big logo or business name at the top of their ad. Sure it might make your friends comment that they saw your ad, but the hard truth is no one else cares. What will grab people’s attention is a headline that creates interest or is relevant to them. Leave names logos, and contact details for the bottom of the ad.

2. Don’t make it all about you!

As a general rule using words and phrases that personalize a message will create more interest in what you have to say, this goes for headlines and body copy. Using words such us you and your will get more interest than words like us and ours. For example you might want to say:

“We have the best pizzas in town”

But you will be more likely to get people paying attention if you change it to:

“Have you tried the best pizzas in town?”

Always remember people are unconsciously thinking “what’s in it for me” when they skim past ads, and if it’s all about you there is nothing to catch their attention.

3. Less is more.

Don’t think that just because you are paying good money for your ad space that you should clutter it with huge amounts of information about your business. Often people will find more than a few lines too overwhelming, especially in a small ad and they just won’t bother reading it. Keep it simple and relevant to the message that you started out with in the headline. Just because you offer a range of services doesn’t mean you need to explain every single one in your ad.

4. What next?

Give people a reason to respond to you ad, it’s called a “call to action”. This can be as simple as saying “call today” or “visit this website”, but a really effective call to action could be a time limited special offer. You see big retail chains using this all the time, you know the ad, “ Up to 50% off this weekend only……”

Anyway the point is; give your prospects a prompt as to what you want them to do next, because if they get to this part of an ad they must have some interest.

5. A picture tells a thousand words…..sometimes.

If you are using a picture in your ad there are some simple things to remember to help make it work.
– Don’t put text over the picture, this obscures the photo and makes the text hard to read.

– If using a picture of a product, try to use one of the product in use, this helps to paint positive mental pictures, e.g. photo of a group of friends laughing and chatting over coffee is generally more appealing than a photo of a cup of coffee.
– Don’t use pictures unless they are good quality and relevant to the rest of the ad. If the picture is a bad piece of clipart or something irrelevant to your ad it will put people off or confuse them.

6. Getting Artistic.

When it comes to colours and fonts, keep it simple, in general a good old white background with black text is going to be the easiest for people to read, and will look more professional than a bunch of fonts and colours. If you are using coloured backgrounds make sure that the font you use are clear enough to be read easily.

In general keep away from script style fonts as they are harder to read and will put people off. Also try not to use more than two fonts in an ad as it makes it look to messy.

7. When in doubt…

Hopefully tips 1-6 have given you a basic understanding of print advertising. But if you have the resources I always recommend consulting a professional. This is especially true for the graphic design stage; a good graphic artist will be able to turn your rough layout into a really professional ad.

Some print publications will offer graphic design for free when you buy ad space. If this is the case make sure you are clear with the layout as this staff artist might be overworked and underpaid and could get a bit lazy with the layout of the ad unless they have something to follow.
If you don’t have the time or you are not a confident writer it is always advisable to get professional help with the complete advertising concept. After all your investment in advertising space is wasted if the ad you put there is not up to scratch.

By:Saadi Allan,

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Creative Advertisement

2009/03/17 at 9:34 am (Creative Ads)


An advertisement by Jung von Matt/Alster for watchmaker IWC. Bus straps have been fashioned from images of IWC’s Big Pilot’s Watch to allow bus travellers near the airport to try before they buy at Berlin, Germany. 16 more advertisements after the jump.


Creative Advertisement 02 

A print of a cup of Folgers coffee was placed on top of manhole covers in New York City, USA. Holes on the print allows the steam to come out. Wordings around the cup reads ‘Hey, City That Never Sleeps. Wake up.” from Folgers.


Creative Advertisement 03 

An innovative idea on a large billboard in Amsterdam, Netherlands. It really makes you want that ‘Heineken’.


Creative Advertisement 04 

This is a great advertisment campaign at Unicenter Shopping Mall in Buenos Aires, Argentina for Valentine’s Day. It magnifies the romantic ambience with a simple idea.


Creative Advertisement 05 

Life-size stickers of people were stuck on automatic sliding doors at a mall in Mumbai, India. When someone approaches the doors move apart and it feels like the people on the door are moving away. The person enters to find the message ‘People Move Away When You Have Body Odour’.


Creative Advertisement 06 

A sticker has been placed on the high voltage box depicting that Duracell’s batteries were used. Cool advertisement found in Malaysia.


Creative Advertisement 07 

An ambient exercise to promote Eatalica burgers. A ‘Caution Wet Floor’ board was placed near an Eatalica burger signboard. The copy on the board reads ‘Oogling at the burger may involuntarily cause drooling which may in turn lead to a wet floor. Issued for your safety by the management of Eatalica restaurant’. Eatalica is an American-Italian Food Joint in Chennai, India.


Creative Advertisement 08 

A life size sticker for the horror movie ‘The Maid’ in Singapore placed near the toilet round the corner. The kind of advertisement that makes you pee in your pants.


Creative Advertisement 09 

A giant mirror was built that allowed passersby to stop and look at themselves wearing Indivi clothes at a shopping mall in Tokyo, Japan


Creative Advertisement 10 

An advertisement for a job recruiting company in Berlin, Germany. Depicting people working in the vending machines, ATMs, it delivers the message that ‘Life is too short for the wrong job’.


Creative Advertisement 11 

Stickers were placed in selected car park locations and car workshops where the product is sold in Malaysia. It delivers the message that M-Tech Plasma HID Lights are 300% brighter than regular headlights. The burn effect sticker from the headlights really leaves an impression.


Creative Advertisement 12 

This controversial idea was done in Dubai by Sandeep Fernandes and Husen Baba Khan for the male deodorant, Axe. The mouse pad that every guy needs.


Creative Advertisement 13 

This is an advertisement found in Vancouver during the National Non-Smoking Week. The car was placed at the Vancouver Art Gallery and the message reads ‘Death from car accidents: 370, Death from smoking-related causes: 6,027, Quit now before it kills you.’


Creative Advertisement 14 

Life size images were stuck on glass doors at shops, airports in South Africa for the advertisement of glass and window cleaner I.C.U. The expression on the face is priceless.


Creative Advertisement 15 

Another creative idea by The Fitness Company. Heavy Weights were placed at various subways in New York City which creates an illusion that the person holding the safety bar is doing weights.


Creative Advertisement 16 

A very cost-effective advertisement in Hong Kong for a yoga school. It showcases the prowess of a yoga practitioner on the flexible stems of drink straws. A surge of enquiries and enrollment went after up this promotional stunt.


Creative Advertisement 18 

Creative Advertisement 19 

This is a creative ad by Mini Cooper placed at the Zurich, Switzerland train station. It gives the perception that the Mini Cooper has a large space.


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6 steps to being your own boss

2009/03/14 at 9:49 am (Article)

Young entrepreneurs have to work hard to overcome inexperience and gain credibility. These tips increase your odds of success when starting out and starting up.

 Got that entrepreneurial spirit? You aren’t alone. In fact, two out of three teenagers who completed a recent Junior Achievement “Interprise” Poll on Teens and Entrepreneurship said they hope to start their own business one day. But it takes more than a good idea and a desire to be your own boss to launch a successful venture.

Just ask Max Durovic. At 18, he increased his odds of making it with formal and thorough business planning. By taking the right steps, he built a booming business before he even graduated from college.

While a sophomore at Georgetown University, Durovic founded the inventive street-advertising company Aarrow Advertising. He began hiring 14- to 24-year-old students to carry sandwich-board sign ads for nearby retail chains and to perform trademarked tricks, spinning and tossing the signs to attract attention. The sign spinners received hourly pay with a 10-cent increase for mastering each new trick. Durovic turned the idea into a booming livelihood by crafting a complementary team with an expert mentor, meticulously writing a business plan to focus his vision, following the financial feedback and continuing to plan. By age 22, he was leading 200 employees in five cities, and revenue was growing at an average rate of 10% per month.

Early on, Durovic faced one of the biggest challenges of enterprising young adults: the credibility gap. Most entrepreneurs endure long hours, challenging management decisions and months without income, but young entrepreneurs may face larger hurdles. With minimal work experience, limited financial resources, fledgling credit histories and no start-up experience, they often have difficulty convincing people to take their business ideas seriously. Startups are already risky — inexperience adds more risk. In fact, one in three new businesses fails by their second year.

How can you minimize your risks? Use our checklist to get ready. We’ll help you carefully weigh whether to trade valuable years of traditional work experience for your new business dream — and then how to pull it off when you’re ready.

Get some experience

If you’ve never clocked a day of work in your life, you might consider taking a job before striking out on your own — even if the thought of doing time in a cubicle makes you shudder. Work experience in the field you want to break into may be the most productive use of your energy.


Think of it as a paid research position. In a couple of years, you can give your business a go. By then, you’ll have learned the ins and outs of the real world and reduced the risk of total inexperience.

“Financial literacy is the language of owning a business,” says Irwin Rudick, the vice president of the San Diego chapter of SCORE, a nonprofit firm that gives advice and training to small business owners. So, if you’re still in school, take classes in business, management or entrepreneurship. If you’ve already graduated, sign up for night classes. Durovic, an international-business and marketing major, says that his formal business education has been integral to his success. “Nothing brings the classes to life like running your own business,” he says.

Build a winning team

Bring on people who complement your skills and fill in the gaps. Mary Beth Metrey, a 24-year-old Spanish-literature master’s student at Georgetown University, had always dreamed of opening a boutique, but her short stint in retail didn’t provide all of the details of running a shop.


But Heather White, her hometown friend from Wyckoff, N.J., had studied fashion design and merchandizing. Naturally, Metrey asked White to be her business partner when she opened a shop in Georgetown.

Fight inexperience with advice

Universities and alumni networks are great sources for mentors. Durovic found business-plan help in a Georgetown entrepreneurship class and consulted with his former professor on business decisions. Ryan Comfort, a grad of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and founder of the online art sales business also found cost-cutting connections through his school’s alumni network.


The Internet is another great place to get free advice. SCORE, for example, boasts a mentor network of more than 10,000 mostly retired entrepreneurs nationwide. You can search by related background and meet the mentor locally or by email. You can also get feedback online from 12,000 peer entrepreneurs at

And seek out local organizations. At 27, New Yorker Leah Alani founded, an online boutique for stationery and gifts for special events. She gained the confidence and the practical skills to accelerate the start-up date after taking a four-week class with Ladies Who Launch, which has local chapters in metropolitan areas.

Write a bulletproof business plan

One of the biggest mistakes a young entrepreneur can make is simply failing to write a business plan. There is no other single process that can be more useful in beginning business problem-solving than addressing the risks and thoughtfully forecasting by writing the plan. Don’t fall into the excuse that you have the business plan in your head. “That’s a fantasy,” says SCORE’s Rudick. “It only becomes a reality when you put it into writing because when it’s in your head, no one else can see it.”


Not only is it a good planning tool, but a solid business plan is also your key to raising capital — the money you need to get your show on the road. Although you may not have had time to build a long credit history to show that you are financially responsible, you can demonstrate your penchant for using sound judgment by crafting a document that sells your business and lures financers on board. It’s your greatest opportunity to fill the credibility gap.

A business plan will showcase your product or service, how you plan to make a profit and the exceptional team who can bring the business to success. It should include market data and tests to show the service or product will sell, the essential skills that will drive profits, estimates for startup costs, projections for sales and profits, a break-even analysis and long-term goals for the company.

If, while writing the business plan, you decide from your research that the business isn’t as sensible or profitable as you originally thought, the plan has served its purpose. Rather than cost you money and effort, you’ve spared yourself any loss. Once you’ve crafted a plan that satisfies you, show it to your mentor or entrepreneur friends and ask for their input on how to improve it.

Find inspiration from sample plans at But be sure your plan shows your original thinking for the unique situation so that readers can see how the team problem-solves and relates to the business, says Stever Robbins, a business consultant and start-up veteran of nine companies.

The top-rated Business Plan Pro 2006 ($100 and up) from Palo Alto Software will walk you through the entire planning process. It includes cash-flow projections and a useful tool to help you understand when you’ll break even. With the $200 Premier edition, you can collaborate with other teammates and split up specific parts of the plan to streamline the process. Best of all, it includes freebies like a company logo crafter and a guide to small business law.

Raise money

Your business plan should overestimate how much money you will need from the beginning because it’s easier to raise money before the launch than it is after you’ve failed to meet projections. To minimize risk, limit the amount of personal money that you put into the business, says H. Irving Grousbeck, a co-director of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies at Stanford Business School. Also, you’ll be tempted to use credit cards, but credit-card debt is the most expensive debt you can have. Try to steer clear.


Clutching a business plan that sells, go first to a bank to request a loan. “Banks are conservative, and they’re still in business,” says Robbins. If you have a FICO credit score of 680 or more and you’re seeking a loan for less than $50,000, you’ll likely be granted the loan, says SCORE’s Rudick. Even if the banker can’t offer you a loan, ask for his or her advice about how to improve the plan so you can try again.

If your credit history is too short, friends and family may be your best shot. But tread carefully: Set the loan up like a formal business transaction that explicitly states when it will be repaid. A smart way to manage a loan between family or friends is with a professionally administered loan from CircleLending. The company will send statements and track payments, and provide healthy distance.

Follow the money

Count on a cash cushion to live on for at least the first six months because you likely won’t have an income. Conserve your money before you start. (See Build Your Financial Foundation to learn more about how to build your stash — and where to keep it.) Once the business launches, regularly compare your actual income and expenses to your original forecasts to take the pulse of your company. Intuit’s QuickBooks software ($200 and up for Pro and more advanced versions) features many bookkeeping tools and services such as expense tracking, check printing and payroll managing. Another plus is that you can export your information to Business Plan Pro to simplify your comparisons.


And stay focused on your financial goals. One of the biggest causes of failure is diffusion of focus, Grousbeck says. The first year you should have two overarching goals: meeting or exceeding your projections and treating your customers right.

This article was reported and written by Elizabeth Kountze for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance Magazine.

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Local Search and Internet Yellow Pages – A Whole New Vocabulary for Small Business Sales

2009/03/12 at 5:16 pm (Article)

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