Tag Archives: Sparkle On

TTPD – June is for Vendor and Contractor Review

June is Vendor Contractor Month

Greetings Sparklers!

Summer is inching its way towards us, but work goes on year-round and it’s time to take another peek at our monthly topics. We’re up to June!

In my book, Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents), June is devoted to vendors, contractors and consultants. Now is the time to double check all your current agreements to see that you’re getting the best service for the best price while considering which vendors you no longer need or others which you do.

This can be a tough month for some people while others enjoy the challenge. Some people like to negotiate. Others will pay full price no matter what. Some business owners will nickel and dime their suppliers to the tenth of a penny but balk at their own customers requesting a discount for early or all cash payment. Other business owners are afraid to call for service or necessary meetings because they know a sales pitch will accompany them, forgetting that their own businesses depend upon the same such sales calls. I think most of us fall somewhere in between.

Here are a few steps to getting through the month and hopefully saving some money.

  1. Review all current vendor/consultant agreements. Are you paying for something you don’t use? Are you unhappy with a particular supplier? Are you receiving the best price for what they have to offer? Make a list of questions for when you contact the vendor.
  2. Pull out your June folder and review others who have contacted you and piqued your interest. Is there someone in the folder you’d like to interview and request a quote?
  3. Pick up the phone and call all your current vendors. Tell them you’re doing your annual review and you’d just like a few minutes to chat. Then, ask all the questions you have and remember one of them should be, do you have any new services or packages that might better suit my needs?
  4. Gather the results of your research and decide who you plan to use for the next year and at what price.
  5. Work your new figures into your budget for the next 12 months, or the terms of the contract.

It doesn’t take much effort to save money. In the last few weeks, I received a sizeable credit from one vendor just for doing an annual review with them. I didn’t change my contract because they no longer offer the package I have and any changes would incur higher fees. However, just by calling them and doing a review, they give me an invoice credit for being a loyal customer.

Another vendor has reworked their offerings and, with a few minor tweaks on my part, I saved $50/month on my agreement. Might not seem like much, but it only took a few minutes and it resulted in saving $600/year. If I can do that with five vendors, that’s $3,000/year savings just for a few simple phone calls. It all adds up.

I’ve also replaced one vendor with another, finding one that does an excellent job for my needs at a lower price.

One of my pet peeves is not offering a discount or perk to a long-term, loyal customer. Many businesses only offer them to first time customers, hoping to build their clientele. While I think that’s a good strategy for them, there should also be some reward for those who stick around a long time, something like an Anniversary Discount. I talk about my own experiences in my book, How to Screw Up a Good Idea: Insights for Entrepreneurs (Aunti Cindi Presents). I’ve been on both sides of the equation and hopefully, I’ve learned.

It’s nearly impossible to be successful in business by yourself. Whether you have your own staff or a team of vendors, contractors and consultants, it’s important to have the right people at the right price providing exactly what you need.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions are our own.

Emergency Preparedness: Backup Your Backup- 3 Tips to Keep Your Data Safe

Backup Your Backup

BACKUP YOUR BACKUP: 3 TIPS TO KEEP YOUR DATA SAFE

Greetings Sparklers!

Whether you own a business or keep a lot of personal data on your digital devices, the truth is, it can all be gone in a flash. After my own personal experience with a quickly dying computer about a year ago, I’ve been on my soapbox about reminding people to back up their data. The sad part is, I continue to find people who have never even thought about backing things up. And, once again, I had a weird technical event that reminded me to remind you to backup your backup.

There is nothing more frustrating than investing hours, days, months, years in creating a project and having it all disappear when your computer suddenly does a crash and burn. I had a situation recently where I was working on a document and when I went to save it, the program crashed and restarted but there was no autosave file to recover. I looked everywhere and even contacted a community forum where respondents were very kind but could not offer a solution for file recovery other than the steps I had already taken.

While the loss of a file in that manner is a bit unusual, the most common culprit is not backing up your devices. I feel I cannot remind people often enough. Every time I bring up the subject I meet people who lost some important part of their lives because they didn’t back up their stuff.

In the last few months alone, I’ve heard of someone who lost nearly 10,000 digital photos, an author who lost his entire novel, someone else who lost years of contacts and business data, another who kept everything on a portable drive until the drive died. I could go on, but you get the point.

In the IT world, there’s a belief in redundancy. In the prepper world, the saying is two is one and one is none. Whichever mantra you prefer doesn’t matter, as long as you’re taking the time to REGULARLY back up your digital devices.

Here are three tips to help you to keep your data safe and secure:

  1. Do your research.
    Take the time now to research and decide what is the best backup routine for you – and stick to it! I copy files every night to the cloud, then once a week copy to an external drive. I would recommend at least one external drive and a cloud backup of some sort. If you can do two external drives and keep them in different locations, one offsite, plus the cloud, that’s even better. Of course, it all depends on how much space you need.
  2. Back up all your devices.
    Desktops, laptops, tablets, phones, flash drives, memory cards – copy all of it. Check with your cellular service to see if there is a secondary way to backup your phone. You might also want to download your contacts from your phone on a regular basis…just in case.
  3. Don’t forget about your website.
    Check with your ISP/host company to verify that your entire website is backed up. In my case, the database is backed up but any external items I’ve added, such as images, videos and files are not. Twice in the last couple of months, I’ve updated my website and it completely crashed. It hadn’t happened in the previous decade but suddenly it happened twice in a short period of time. If something bad happens to your site, you want to have as little downtime as possible. I use FileZilla to transfer all my files monthly, then back them up to the cloud and on external drive.

Weird things happen when it comes to technology, so always, always, always be sure to backup your backup! I’d love to hear how you keep all your digital data safe. Please share in the comments below.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

TTPD – May is Education Month

Aunti Cindi Presents

Greetings Sparklers!

We’re up to May as we follow along with the book, Tame Those Pesky Details: 12 months of business tips and tasks (Aunti Cindi Presents). May is the month for education.

I put education into this month because we’re finally past the craziness of the New Year, past tax season and before the summer heat makes us not want to work at all! However, we have to take the opportunities when they arise.

I had a number of items on my list to learn this year (yes, even Aunti Cindi needs to grow some new synapses), and when February arrived, my inbox received emails from several different webinar providers that really looked interesting. All of the webinars were free, and in all cases, once I registered, I would have access to the replay to listen on my own time. This was really important to me as I was not available for the live webinars.

Now, February isn’t Education month, but I took advantage of the webinars and I am now extremely grateful that I did. Each one got my mind functioning in an enhanced direction. Now that May is here, I’m working hard to implement many of the concepts and tools that I learned in February.

Some things to consider when it comes to education:

  1. Education doesn’t always come in the form of a formal classroom setting. You can learn a lot on the web on your own time and often for free or low cost.
  2. The same topics may be offered several times a year, so if you’re unable to attend a particular session and a replay isn’t offered, check with the provider to see when they’ll offer it again.
  3. Free webinars do come with a sales pitch at the end, but generally there is enough information provided during the free webinar that you may not need to sign up for more. It also gives you a chance to see the presenter’s style and see if it works for you.
  4. The sales discounts can be well worth the listening effort and generally bonuses are included. I took five free webinars, and purchased from three of them. The discounts were exceptional for the material received. I purchased one set of follow-on materials for only $17! Yes, that’s correct, $17! Many pitches will require hundreds or thousands of dollars for their material so be sure to do your research and know that that’s the best way to spend your money.
  5. Most purchases allow you unlimited access to the materials for as long as that person or company is in business. Many times it will include add-ons or upgrades in the future. I would access the contents as soon as you can in the event things change.
  6. Don’t feel that you have to follow everything to the letter when you sign up for a program or take a webinar. You have to apply the information to your business and how you work. Start with the program then adapt.
  7. There will likely be more educational opportunities as the year progresses. Don’t ignore them simply because they didn’t occur during May. The focus this month is really to determine what you need to learn and to find ways to do just that. And, sometimes you discover that there’s something you needed to learn that wasn’t even on your radar!

Learning helps us to respond to market changes but also to create new opportunities for our businesses. The more we know, the stronger we can grow.

Sparkle On!

Your Aunti Cindi

This post contains affiliate links. However, all opinions are our own.