Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals

With the year’s end around the corner, it’s time to take stock of everything you accomplished in 2010 and set new goals for 2011. At the beginning of each year, I write out at least three ‘big’ goals (professionally and personally) – something that has been proven to be a huge help when focusing my priorities.

The S.M.A.R.T. method is an effective way to help you set inspiring and achievable goals for the next year.

Specific: If you don’t know whether your goal has been completed or not, it’s not specific enough. The goal must be concise, tangible and simple. It should explain what you want to achieve in simple language – so that anyone else would be able to see your goal and immediately understand it. For example, “Find happiness” is not a very specific goal – but “find a boyfriend/life partner” is.

Measurable: Your goal should be measurable, so determine the numbers that are important to you! For example, “Exercise a lot” is not a goal. “Go to the gym 3x per week” or “Average 30 sales per month” are measurable targets you can benchmark and compare your results against throughout the year.

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Happy Holidays from CityMax.com

From all of us at CityMax.com, happy holidays and a joyous New Year! Thank you for another great year.

It might be the holiday season but things are still busy here, between our annual ‘We Care’ Night (where we join up with the local community to give out 1500 bags of warm clothing and food to the underprivileged) and our own visit from Santa… check out the new addition to our office and our crazy Christmas challenges!

How to Create Perfect Product Photos

Woman taking photograph.You already know that first impressions are everything, which is why your product photos and images can make or break your online store. If your website images look like they were taken in your basement, people are probably going to think twice before buying from you.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to get great shots – you just need a digital camera and a little practice. Here are some tips to get you started:

Lighting

  • If you can, use natural light – either take your item outside or take your shots near a window.
  • Play with the white balance setting on your camera.
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Website of the Month: CalgaryPolarExpress.com

polar-expressA standing ovation for Cynthia Johanson, owner of CalgaryPolarExpress.com: our Website of the Month!

When Cynthia, scientist/mother of three, heard on the news that 4500 children in Calgary would not be able to celebrate Christmas this year, it broke her heart. She decided to help create holiday memories for these underprivileged kids and their families – with the Calgary Polar Express. Based on the classic children’s book (and Tom Hanks movie), families board buses – as giant steam trains for the Christmas ride of a lifetime – before meeting Santa, Mrs. Claus and his Elves at his Workshop in the North Pole.

But why listen to us? Click to hear Cynthia share her story:

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When Were You Last Creative?

artAs an entrepreneur, you’re probably a pretty creative person by nature – but when was the last time you did something creative outside of your small business?

Most small business owners just don’t have the time to pull back from the business and do something for themselves. When you have ten or more hats to wear (sales, marketing, production, etc.) it’s hard to find time to take them all off. However, according to Shelley Carson, those creative endeavors you take on just for yourself can have a positive impact on your business.

It seems that the more you engage in creative activities the more you can transfer that kind of thinking to your business endeavors. Creativity breeds more creativity – so your ability to see a potential picture frame in a pile of scrap wood is the same ability that will allow you to identify an idea for a powerful viral video campaign.

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Are You Missing Out on Extra Profit?

money1As a business owner, you’re probably familiar with the term “upsell.” It’s when you take the opportunity to offer extra products or services after a customer is already committed to a purchase. A great example is the age-old McDonald’s classic: “Would you like fries with that?”

The impressive truth about upselling is that you can add a HUGE amount of revenue with simple suggestions or recommendations.

Upselling is easily done in person. After all, when you’re watching a customer peruse items in your store it’s easy to see what catches his or her attention. But what can you do when your small business is an online ecommerce store?

Here are three ways to add a few extra dollars to each order:

1. Offer Gift Wrap & Cards
Many people would love to spend a buck or two extra to avoid the hassle of wrapping a gift. This especially appeals to those who want to ship a gift directly to the recipient, without being a go-between.

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KIVA.org: Giving Back to Entrepreneurs Globally

It’s the season for giving! No matter what religion, race, or denomination you belong to, if you’re reading this you probably share our belief in the entrepreneurial spirit.

This winter, why not help someone else achieve the same dream? KIVA.org supports entrepreneurs all over the world through a micro-loan system – based on the same idea that Muhammed Yunus, recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize created. This concept is based on funding entrepreneurs through the concept of microloans, rather than donations. Since 2009 Kiva has helped raise over $160 million in loans with a 98.90% repayment rate. For as little as $25 you can help fund an entrepreneur’s dream – so please join our CityMax.com giving team.

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Why Does Your Business Exist?

At the end of the day, every business is trying to make money. But what is your ultimate purpose – why do you exist?

Before you think we’ve been smoking the patchouli, John Warrillow of the Globe and Mail recently explored this issue with Randy Komisar, venture capitalist and best-selling author of The Monk and the Riddle.

In his interview, Komisar asserts that there are but two types of entrepreneurs: mercenaries and missionaries. According to Komisar:

Mercenary entrepreneurs – are typically younger and ambitious but missing a larger goal. They possess excellent qualities to succeed but may not be focused on delivering any genuine value: “getting a product out… a lot of hype… raise a lot of money and sell out.”

Missionary entrepreneurs – have a bigger cause beyond just making money. They are building “something sustainable to have the kind of impact (they) want and accomplish a greater purpose.”

Komisar goes on to explain this goes beyond black and white – it’s not necessarily a philanthropy vs. profit discussion. Most highly successful companies have clearly outlined missions explaining their greater reason for being.

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