4 Tips To Succeed In Business I Picked Up at Garage Sales

Coolest @Lamp Ever by Tojosan via CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Four years ago, my family and I decided to host a multi-household garage sale. It was a great opportunity to pass on some of our lesser used wares and get together (mostly the latter). Of course, I decided to dig deeper to get the most out of our time and efforts. I was surprised by what I found.

Are you a garage saler (or sailor)?

‘Garage saling’ (or sailing) is a thing. There are people who plan their weekends (or day trips) around hitting garage sales and discovering hidden treasures. (Note that I have various hobbies that people find weird, so I’m not making fun of anyone here.) As I dug deeper, I discovered that serious garage salers (or sailors) handle their business like a business.

Here’s what I learned from them that you can use to succeed in business:

  • Have a plan: Garage salers like to browse the Friday paper’s Classified section to form a plan. Are some areas hosting multiple sales? Are they looking for specific items? There are a number of websites that promote garage sales now too, although I’ve received a bigger return on investment advertising in the local paper.

Know where your audience is, so you can target your marketing efforts. You’ll receive a larger ROI for your efforts.

  • Trust your gut: While serious garage salers have a plan, they also improvise. Maybe they pass a sign for another sale (or great local cafe) and decide to make a detour. You never know what you’ll find when you open yourself up to new experiences.

Planning for your business is necessary, but so is adaptation and flexibility. Because life and business rarely go according to plan…

  • Know when to negotiate: People think that garage salers like to negotiate everything. Selling something for 50¢? They’ll want it for a quarter. That’s not true, at least from my experience. Serious garage salers know when to negotiate and when to save their time and energy. Antique furniture? Let’s talk. An almost-new travel mug for 50¢? Consider it sold.

Don’t be an amateur. Know when to negotiate! Think value, not cheap.

  • Get your timing down: I would love to steal a line from our garage sale ads for my business meetings: “No early birds, please.” While the early bird may get the worm, people who show up at garage sales during setup get a cold shoulder and a frown. No, we have no idea where the [insert item from ad] is right now, but we’ll know in a half hour when we open for business.

If showing up for a business meeting 5 minutes early is ‘on time,’ then showing up 30 minutes early is unprofessional, not impressive.

In summary, have a plan but trust your gut. Know when to negotiate and when to save your time and energy. Be on time but don’t be excessively early. It’s amazing what you can learn about business from life when you open your eyes and take a look around.

Are you a serious garage saler (or sailor)?

What other tips would you add for successful garage saling (and business)?

p.s. The Shine Family Garage Sale has become an annual tradition. If you’re in the neighborhood tomorrow, stop on by!

p.p.s. Learn more about the awesome featured image for this post here.

Garage Sale Hostess with the Mostess,
Jaime

Let’s chat (on garage saling, business or otherwise):
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What Making Leg Lamp Cookies Taught Me About My Business

leg lamp cookies!
Leg Lamp!

Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian!

Yes, those leg lamp cookies. If you’re not familiar with the famous (or some would say infamous) leg lamp, then go see
A Christmas Story. And don’t shoot your eye out, kid! 

So back to the cookies. I made the dough on Sunday night and planned to cut, bake and ice the cookies on Monday
morning (along with several other items on my to-do list). Nothing like waiting until Christmas Eve!

Except something happened when I cut the first leg lamp cookie. I was taken aback by the detail. The beautiful high
heel shoe, the fine line of the fishnet stockings (Let’s be honest; that’s what makes the lamp!) … It was a thing of beauty, if I may say so myself.

Our opinions on beauty may diverge from here, but the important thing is what happened next. I decided not to ice the cookies. How could I cover up that detail?! That’s what made the cookies stand out and would be sure to give everyone at our Christmas Eve and Christmas celebrations a good laugh.

No matter how much we plan (and we should!), sometimes life throws you a better idea. Don’t rigidly stick to your plan (business, marketing or otherwise) and miss an opportunity to shine. Take a chance and follow the divergent path to see where it leads. It could lead to a brilliant new idea, unique product concept or branching off your business or marketing plans in a completely new direction.

Because I know you were wondering, the leg lamp cookies were a hit (even without the icing)! I may have started a new family Christmas tradition and reminded myself of an important point to remember at the same time.

leg lamp cookies!

Beautiful & delicious!

What seemingly unrelated task has reminded you of an important business, marketing or life lesson?
What’s your favorite holiday movie?
Favorite holiday tradition?

Image credits: Leg Lamp courtesy of A Christmas Story House & Museum; Leg Lamp Cookies – by author

I hope everyone had a Merry Christmas!
Jaime

Let’s connect (on business tips, marketing ideas or otherwise):

5 Ways to Spice Up Employee Appreciation

Most of us know by now how valuable it is to keep good employees. Knowledgeable, happy employees are valuable assets to a company, helping to reduce costs, maximize productivity (and revenue) and enhance your company’s brand or image.

There are a plethora of ways to thank valuable, hardworking employees. Following are 5 ways that you may not have thought about.

1. Bowl them over — A bowling outing can be a great way to boost morale and encourage bonding. Furthermore, many alleys also offer other perks, including a variety of food options to whet nearly any palate, arcade games, bocce, billiards, happy hours, karaoke, transportation to/from the event and variations to the standard bowling experience — black lights, special rules, etc.

cosmic bowling

A bowler enjoys the atmosphere of cosmic bowling.
Image courtesy of m4tik via Flickr

2. Cycle tours / special rides — A group bike tour or specialty ride can add some fun and memories to an otherwise typical day. These experiences can be turned into a team building event on their own or inject some serious fun into company picnics, appreciation days or a thank you for hitting key goals or metrics. Employees won’t forget getting out on the open road in an entirely different way anytime soon.

Rocket Ship Car

The Rocket Ship Car
“The Happiest Ride on Earth”

3.  A spa-like experience — Reward hardworking employees for pulling off a complex, last minute        project, crushing their quarterly goals or successfully making it through a crazy time of the year (i.e. tax deadline for accountants, a national convention). Various packages are available for many different budgets, and your staff will enjoy being pampered and waited on. From express massages to full service pedicures (yes, gentleman too), your relaxed employees will be grateful and energized.

4.  Casino night — Bring the thrill of Vegas to your staff! Employees will receive chips and move throughout the casino to play a variety of games. Friendly dealers will show less experienced players how the games work and bring an air of excitement to the festivities. Players redeem chips for raffle tickets and use these tickets to win prizes. Everyone has a chance to win, and best of all, there are no losers because no real gambling is involved. Hit the jackpot!

5.  A breath of fresh air — Nature has amazing restorative tendencies and employees will relish an opportunity to get out of the office. Thank your staff with a special trip to a zoo, an amazing retreat at a national park or a day trip on a scenic railroad. Attendees can unwind to a beautiful backdrop and rejuvenate for the next big project.

Hocking Hills Resevoir

Hocking Hills State Park is a great place to soak in the beauty of nature.

Remember, a fun experience can be had by all in a number of settings. Employees will appreciate your efforts to recognize their hard work and dedication and be inspired to continue to give their all to your organization.

What’s the most memorable employee recognition

experience you’ve had?

Enjoy your weekend,

Jaime

Stop. Breathe. Take Stock. Repeat As Necessary.

My 30th birthday was one of the best days of my life. It also turned out to be a pivotal moment.

My 30th birthday cake - the first one!

My (first) 30th birthday cake from my fellow staff working an event. Made my day!

Between going for a morning run, having my Facebook page and phone inundated with well wishes, working an event for my employer, blowing out candles on two cakes, enjoying a quick massage, dining outside by candlelight, being serenaded with Happy Birthday twice and hanging out with industry friends (some of the coolest people I’ve ever met) deep into the next morning, I took stock of my life and didn’t necessarily like what I saw.

Don’t get me wrong; the day itself was amazing. But after pausing a moment, I finally admitted to myself that I wasn’t happy. That can be one of the hardest things to admit, especially to yourself. In the past few years, I had become a workaholic and had little time for family and friends, some that I had known for years.

Only a rat can win the rat race

Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Credit: denniseagles

While some people excel in the corporate rat race, I was suffocating. I missed the nature I had grown up in despite living minutes from a beautiful series of metro parks. I was trying to cram working out and somewhat healthy meals into what little time I had outside of the office and my commute. I love to cook but had no desire to do so at 9 or 10pm after coming home from the office. I knew I needed a change.

After much planning and thinking, I decided to open my own business. It wasn’t an easy decision, but ultimately, I knew it would allow me to align my personal priorities with making a living. It certainly hasn’t been easy (and it’s still early), but it’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m excited about the future and building my business while enjoying nature, making time for those important to me and having a more flexible schedule.

Poolside in Scottsdale

Capturing some brief pool time and utilizing our fabulous branded towels at an event in Scottsdale.

Similar to your personal life, it’s also helpful to stop and take stock of your business or career as well. It can be easy to veer off course and start heading down a path you don’t like. Perhaps you’ve moved away from your sweet spot, have some clients who drag you down or you don’t even recognize your marketing anymore. Whatever it is, remember to stop and take a deep breath every now and then. It can really help you stay on track, whatever your track to a happy life is.

I would love to hear about your moments of taking stock of your personal life or business. How did you discover that you weren’t where you were supposed to be? What made you decide to take a risk to correct course? [And if you’re looking for any marketing or branding assistance, I’d love to help!]

Cheers (and keep smiling),
Jaime

Event Planning: You Need to Have a Plan

Have you ever tried your hand at event planning before? Even the most basic party or get-together (in your mind, at least) can turn into a stressful occasion when you’re in charge of all the details. Now think about putting on a conference or tradeshow for 500 or more of your closest friends.

No matter the size, the key to event planning is having a plan.

The most mundane details can pop up to haunt you onsite if you haven’t tied them down ahead of time. Trust me, I’m as spontaneous and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants as they come, and I’m serious about having a plan for any event I’m putting on. Masking drape color, onsite inventory and task lists, personnel schedules and dress all need to be thought of before the big event.

Dress as in the clothes you’re going to wear? Yes, the last thing you need to worry about while running around onsite is not having appropriate shoes or forgetting formal clothing for that big Awards Dinner. Think about each day or event and what you will be doing in order to avoid wishing you had packed a whole lot differently (or any embarrassing moments).

Don’t assume that you’ll remember anything onsite. If you do, it will be a bonus. If you’re giving a speech, at least have note cards on hand in case you draw a big blank when looking out at the audience.

Another reminder that applies to any event you’re throwing… have any contact information you could possibly need on hand (preferably in your phone). Then you’ll be able to quickly get a hold of your hotel contact, colleague, caterer or sister-in-law when something comes up — or goes down — that you need help with.

Events can be fun to plan and rewarding when done well, especially when you plan to perfection.

I hope that everyone enjoyed the Memorial Day weekend, and a sincere thank you to all who have served, and continue to serve today, to protect what makes America great.

Jaime