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Q and A: Personalized Birthday Cards from Paul Leonard
Paul Leonard's BirthdayCards2Go.com paid greeting card service offers convenience when you're rushing to send birthday wishes. While nothing can beat a personalized poem to add that extra touch of thoughtfulness, we can all agree that in this busy world, any connection we can make with each other, even just to say "Thinking of you," is worthwhile.
Plus, when you consider the cost of gas, driving to the store, buying the cards, and buying the stamps, you can't beat the price of $3.16 and up including postage for handmade greeting cards that can be personalized. Poems for You founder Kristin Johnson sat down with Paul Leonard, founder of BirthdayCards2Go.com,for an exclusive interview.
Kristin: Paul, how did you develop this unique service?
Paul Leonard: Well, I guess the idea first came to me a couple of years back while sitting in a traffic jam! I'd just been to the store to get a birthday card for my sister at the last minute -- I always forget people's birthdays -- and was trying to fill in the address with the envelope balanced on the steering wheel. I remember thinking that there must be a better way! A couple of months went by and, on my birthday, I got a birthday card from my sister. It obviously hadn't been sent by her but by a computer via the web -- my name and address was laser printed on the back and it arrived in a window envelope. The message inside was laser printed in rather soulless black monotype. I can only say that I felt a bit offended, considering the trouble I had gone to 2 months earlier, but then I realised how much time and energy I would have saved by using a service like this.
The only thing that put me off was the impersonal 'junk mail' appearance of the card, so I began to search the web for a service that would allow me to send a card that would look like I sent it. After a couple of hours I gave up because I couldn't find what I was looking for. That's when it clicked -- there was a gap in the market that I could fill. As an IT professional specializing in Intranet systems myself, I soon had the website built and my brother-in-law, who is a graphic designer, came on board to help with the creative side. Through his contacts he also helped to source the cards that we use. After that, a lot of fine tuning and acting on feedback from our customers has got us to where we are now..
Kristin: Most of us do leave things to the last minute. That's why there's a proliferation of free e-card businesses out there. Blue Mountain Arts, which published two of my award-winning poems on its Web site, was the pioneer for this model, but changed to a login and fee-based service. You are also doing a fee-based service. But yours is not an e-card business, it's a unique greeting card business. Do you operate on the principle "you get what you pay for?"
Paul Leonard: I think the bottom line here is that you can't put an e-card on your mantelpiece! E-cards are definitely great fun and have their place, but you still can't beat a real card arriving in the post to tell you that someone is thinking of you.
Kristin: True! Can you describe the other benefits of sending a BirthdayCards2Go card?
Paul Leonard: I think our main objective is to make the cards we send out look and feel like the customer has sent them personally. We allow the customer to select a style of handwriting, which is used to complete the address on the envelope and message inside the card, and a normal postage stamp is used for postage. Making the process of sending a card as quick and painless as possible for our customers is also important, and a lot of thought has been put in to ways of reducing the amount of effort needed to do this.
Kristin: The effort and care you have taken show in the cards you see on your Web site! The designs from Paper Avenue look terrific. How did you select Paper Avenue as the designer of your cards?
Paul Leonard: We decided early on that we should offer something different from the rest. After getting samples from what seemed like hundreds of wholesalers we still hadn't found anything worth getting excited about. My brother-in-law knew of Paper Avenue and suggested we give them a try. We were so impressed by their designs that we took the plunge and haven't looked back!
Kristin: Sounds like a perfect partnership. How have customers responded to your cards?
Paul Leonard: As with any web site, a lot of people look before one buys! It can be a challenge trying to show the quality of your product on a web site -- after all your potential customers can't pick things up and touch them, they have to rely purely on images. Many people that have ordered cards from us are absolutely blown away by the look and feel of the cards and envelopes. Most are subconsciously expecting the type of thin, nasty cards that you get at your local 7-11 store, but we prefer to spend a few cents more and have our cards printed on one of the best quality Dutch Ivory boards available. This makes for a much more expensive and upmarket impression, and delighted customers!
Kristin: I would be delighted to receive a card that doesn't look like 99 percent of the cards out there. In addition, you offer value-added services, such as the delivery system in which customers can receive their cards at home to send out later. Talk about that.
Paul Leonard: Some people may want to give their cards in person, or maybe get everyone at work to sign it -- you never know. It's mainly a case of covering all the bases. If someone orders 10 or more cards like this in one go, we pass on the savings in postage and transaction costs by giving the customer a 40% discount on the total.
Kristin: What a deal! Talk about the convenience of selecting the date to send cards for birthdays. It seems that we all have endless to-do lists, and sometimes calendar dates just slip by. It must be a relief for your customers to have their own secretarial service for greeting cards.
Paul Leonard: I have got to be the worst person in the world for forgetting my relative's birthdays and anniversaries, and I'm sure I'm not alone! It's certainly a weight off your mind when you can schedule a card to be sent when you're thinking about it and have the time, instead of having to remember to do it some day in the future. A lot of our customers seem to do all their cards for the whole year in one hit! And no, I don't forget about sending out our customer's cards -- our system (and mailing people) takes care of them for me. I must confess, though, I DO put all the cards I have to send to MY friends and family through the system too!
Kristin: Sounds like a great way to energize/organize your life and help other people in the process! Is there anything else you would like potential clients to know about you?
Paul Leonard: Keep an eye on our site -- we have a shed load of new cards to be added over the coming months, covering many specialist themes that would be hard to find elsewhere. We are also working on some free reminder software to help customers keep track of their friends and family's special occasions -- this will be like nothing ever created before and it will be available for download from our web site when it's finished!
Kristin: Paul, I will definitely recommend your service.
Kristin Johnson is co-author of the "enthusiastically recommended" Midwest Book Review pick, Christmas Cookies Are For Giving: Stories, Recipes and Tips for Making Heartwarming Gifts (ISBN: 0-9723473-9-9). A downloadablemedia kit is available at our Web site, http://www.christmascookiesareforgiving.com, or e-mail the publisher (firstname.lastname@example.org) to receive a printed media kit and sample copy of the book. More articles available at http://www.bakingchristmascookies.com
Top 7 Small Business Resources for 2005
If you want to start a business in 2005, and start making money almost immediately, the sites listed below are some of the best I have found. I've chosen each site because it is absolutely outstanding in providing the tools you need to get started, as well as taking you through the steps you need to get started immediately.
Presentations and Sales Automotive Detailers
Many auto detailers fall short in their sales presentations. I have often shopped the competition to see what their knowledge base was to gage their worthiness as a formidable competitor in the market place. What I have found is that many auto detailers lack the specific knowledge needed to help their business grow and to present themselves as experienced in their work to the customers.
Keeping your Business Alive
As long as you eat and breathe you will stay alive. But is that really living? In a crisis that may be enough. If your business is in crisis - deal with it. But the secret to keeping your business alive is growth.
The PR Commitment to Small Business
We're birds of a feather, public relations and small business. Wonderfully compatible and a perfect fit. Usually makes it easy to commit resources to small business success.
What Help is there for Veterans Starting a Business?
Some of the very qualities that attract people to the military life are what make them good candidates for an internet based home business. What are these qualities? A sense of adventure, an attraction to signs of leadership and the ability to discern what constitutes a good leader, courage and idealism and an understanding of the joy of testing one's own limits.
Debt Collection Techniques
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Banking and Company Credit Card Policies for Small Business
Does your small business have a banking and credit card policy? If not, perhaps you might wish to think on it. Developing such policies and procedures is not a difficult task. It will not take you long at all to make a relatively simple operations manual to cover your banking and credit card strategies. Below please find an outline or guideline to assist you in developing your own small business banking strategy.
In Home Daycare Businesses for Profit
To have one of the popular in home daycare businesses. Many people think all you have to do is love kids and have a home. But to have a successful daycare business, it takes a little more than that. Actually, it takes a lot more.
Environmental Boat Washing and Detailing
Some marine biologists feel that the concentration of dead marine growth on boats and in boat harbors can create hypoxic zones or a lack of oxygen. This causes a decline in the water quality and may at times cause adverse effects on living marine life such as salmon in the case of the State of Washington. Also some paints have heavy metals in them, which come off with the use of pressure washers. If you coat the boat with our glass-coating product and wash it with our readily environmentally biodegradable soap, we can actually re-oxygenate the water.
Is Your Business Profitable?
What's your job profitability? Do you know?
Keeping Business Alive
Who is responsible for maintaining the business relationship?
The Role of the Business Model and Strategy for Business
People will always stress that having a well researched business plan is key before you start your business. Although creating a business plan is often an important step in the evolution of a business, particularly if you need financing or you are not experienced at running a business, it is not necessarily the essential first step. There are two key elements that should be completed prior to the business plan:
Postcard Marketing ? Low Cost Visibility
You need to be visible to attract customers, right? But how do you get that visibility when you're short on cash? Here's an idea that's worked for many businesses. It's postcard marketing, and it's very affordable.
Speed Kills on the Web!
I only have to point to the 555 plus failed .com companies (according to Web Mergers) as the poster children of the "speed at any cost" business mantra that clearly doesn't work. And these were companies who burnt through significant amounts of capital (in the millions, tens of millions or hundreds of millions in many cases) while they were rushing to get to market.
Why You Need A Virtual Assistant
How much is your time really worth? Is it worth £50 an hour or £100 an hour? YOUR time is most valuable because it is your responsibility to generate new revenue for your business. Doing small and often trivial admin chores yourself does not really add value to your business and the sensible solution is to delegate those less profitable tasks by hiring someone more than capable of carrying them out, but who's hourly rate is somewhat less than your real financial worth. So what's stopping you?
A Gift Basket Home Business is an Easy Way to Wrap up Profits
You want to know more about making money with your own gift basket home business. You are a creative person and want a career that you can control and find rewarding at the same time. What better way to do this then to start a gift basket business in your own home.
Small Business - Is The Accounting Profession Ripping Them Off?
My 16 year-old daughter said, "Gee Dad! You look just like an accountant" And she wasn't being complimentary. Accountants are perceived to be boring, stodgy and conservative. Over the years we've been the butt of many jokes. I've heard them all. Why did the accountant cross the road? Because he looked up the file and that's what they did last year! Ha Ha! What do accountants use as a contraceptive? Their personality! Ha Ha!" Why do accountants become accountants? They don't have the charisma to be undertakers! Ha Ha! What do they call an accountant at the bottom of the sea? A bloody good start! Ha Ha! I think I am the exception. That's why I've begun to call myself a business strategist and counselor. "You're still an accountant," says teenage daughter. I am still an accountant and I'm still as passionate about it as the day I started. Because accountants have an impact on people's lives. The advice we give changes people's businesses which in turn changes their lives. I'm excited in my role of accountant. Accounting is not stodgy. Accounting is exciting. Accounting is cool! My ambition is to become the "cool dude of accounting". (do they still say "dude", do they still say "cool". Remember that song: When I say, "cool, man, cool, I don't mean cool, man, cool, I mean you leave me cold, Jack") We were throwing some ideas around with some of our clients as we do from time to time, looking for that unique benefit that our firm gives to our clients. That unique something that distinguishes us from other accounting practices. One said, "You have helped me to improve my business. Not only am I making more profits and have more to spend, but I also have more time to spend away from the business. The more time I spend at home with my family the happier my life is. And the happier I am the happier my wife and children seem to be. When my wife is happy all sorts of good things happen ? even our sex life improves. That's it! You can advertise that using Kelvyn Peters CPA and Associates improves your sex life" I don't think so! Sorry, we haven't accepted his idea. You're completely on your own in that department, but we can help you improve your business and consequently your life. And your goal might not be extra profit but extra time for living! We know we can because we are doing it for others. We repeat ourselves so often because the truth is the truth and there is only a limited number of ways to tell it. You've heard this before. If you are spending every waking moment in a hassle about your business, there must be a better way. There is! Accountants have been ripping off their clients for years In 1973 I attended a workshop for accountants at the Finance Management Research Center then headed by Dr Keith Cleland. The workshop was intended to drag participants into the 20th century. "Accountants have been ripping off their clients for years", he told us. The 25 participants were shocked. These represented vibrant accounting firms from all around Australia, both large firms and small. They were at the cutting edge of the industry. Otherwise they would not have been at this kind of workshop. To a person they resented that comment and one fellow wanted to punch him on the nose. (It wasn't me, but I would have held his coat). By the week's end we discovered how we were charging high fees for things that our clients couldn't understand, couldn't use and didn't need. At the same time we were neglecting the information that they did need to increase their profits and safeguard their businesses. 20 Years Later what's Changed? I attended a week long seminar hosted by CPA Australia in 1993 which was to train us in "client based accounting". Dr Cleland presented the initial module. He did not openly criticize accountants this time, after all, it was the CPA's hosting it, but he gave almost the same speech (same jokes, too) as he had 20 years before. "These things aren't taught in Universities", he said, "so the accounting profession has mostly ignored them. They have let small business down but things are changing". Know-it-all, Kelvyn Peters had to jump to his feet and say that the doctor had said exactly the same thing 20 years ago. Where were the signs of change? Universities were still not teaching accountants how to help their clients. "This seminar with CPA Australia and the suggestion they might make client based accounting a speciality is a good sign", he replied. 10 Years Later? Nothing has changed. Our hopes have withered on the vine and small business must look elsewhere for help. Recently I was called in to assist an ailing restaurant. We were happy to work with their existing accountant. We'd rather do the fun stuff and let the accountant do the boring tax returns and compliance work. In this case the client insisted we take over the whole of the accounting function. The accountant was most unhappy. "They are difficult clients", he said, "I have kept the fee lower than it should be and I have done extra to help them". Indeed, he had! The financial statements were beautiful to behold with colored graphs and key ratios compared against industry average. (most accountants still don't do that. I had advised that both wages costs and cost of foodstuffs were too high. Our focus was to form tactics to reduce them. "But I had already told them that", said the Accountant, "what do they need you for?' I told him that the client knew the kitchen wages were too high and what he wanted was for someone to show them how to reduce the wages in the kitchen. "I can't do that", he said, "I'm an accountant". I would have to camp down there in the restaurant to see what's going on. And they wouldn't pay the fee". Yes they would. They were going to pay me. Most accountants see their role as being the provider of financial statements, cash-flow projections and tax returns, and there's the rub. Each of these is a tool not an end in itself. It's like giving the client a hammer and saw and telling him to go build a house. He needs more than the tools, he needs to be shown how to use them. Of course the client will complain about fees whatever the level if all he receives are not useful to him. Accountants generally are flat out preparing financial statements and tax returns. Meeting dead-lines. They haven't the time to 'smell the roses'. Anything that doesn't help meet a dead-line has to wait until later. Often its too late. I may still look like an accountant, even the cool dude of accounting, but there is nothing I like more than talking with a business owner about his business. There's nothing a business owner likes more than discussing his business and planning to make more money. It's great fun and he loves to pay me for it.
Small Home Business: Ad Copy Secrets
So it's time to invest some finances into advertising your business and you are considering producing a flyer to advertise your business. Rather than sweat all night on writing the perfect flyer, first take some time to consider what the experts have found to be effective.
Why Do Most Online Small Businesses Fail?
Search Engines account for almost 90% of all web traffic!
How To Create A Business Note That Is More Attractive To A Note Investor
You are selling your small business (business value under $1 million for this article). You would like the buyer of your business to come in with an all-cash offer, or be able to qualify for an SBA guaranteed loan. However, in many cases the owner of the business ends up taking back the financing because the buyer is not able to make an all-cash offer or does not qualify for an SBA guaranteed loan. So you create a "business note" and you now become the "bank". At first that may seem okay, but after a couple of years of receiving payments you may decide you want to get back into business and you need the cash that is tied up in your business note on which you are receiving payments. So now you want to sell your business note to raise cash for your next business venture. What is it worth? That will depend a lot on how you structured the note.
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