PAUL & SARAH EDWARDS: LIFESTYLES FOR THE MILLENNIUM
Paul & Sarah
Edwards are pioneers
in the home-business
field. They can be
reached on the Web
to do business
WANNA LOSE BUSINESS? Follow these three
easy steps, which are sure to help your competitors prosper and promote your own downfall.
Don’t do what you promise. Our post
office is a daily reminder of this principle. When
we moved to the small mountain community
where we now live, we expected our 439
change-of-address postcards to be delivered.
They weren’t. And recently, the license plates for
our new car were returned to the state, never
A similar thing happened to a man who was
in our post office the other day, clearly outraged.
He missed a state licensing exam he needed to
take because the notice never made it to him.
He’ll have to wait another half year before he
can practice his profession.
Overnight carriers have prospered thanks to
the fate of our mail being as mysterious as those
socks that somehow get lost in the laundry.
Don’t show up on time. We learned this
one the hard way more than 30 years ago when
Paul had a contract with the Army Corps of
Engineers. Being a chronic multi-tasker, he
always sought to squeeze in just one more
thing, resulting in rushing off late to meetings.
One such day, the contracting officer
said, “That’s it. No contract for you next year.”
Such lateness can kill a business. (Fortunately,
it worked out well for us because we moved
to California, became authors and have since
done our darnedest to do everything on time.)
Let people know how busy you are.
We can’t keep count of the many times we have
had to find another vendor, interview prospect
or radio-show guest because they didn’t return
a phone call or e-mail. Each time, someone else
prospered by replying promptly.
The 24-hour standard for returning a call has
been usurped by instant mail and communicate-from-anywhere technology, making those who
respond quickly the winners.
Here’s our point: Keep your promises, be on
time and respond quickly, and you’ll prosper—
not your competitors. C
work for you
THE ADVENT OF e-mail began
an era of immediate communication. It is also an era of shortened
attention spans and fierce competition. While technology allows
you to get your message through,
how can you be sure it’s receiving
In her book, E-mail: A Write
It Well Guide—How to Write and
Manage E-mail in the Workplace
(Write It Well, October 2005),
Janis Fisher Chan, a business
writing instructor for more than
25 years, offers the following tips.
■ Before writing an e-mail
(or a memo, letter or report), ask
yourself, “Why am I writing
this—what is the action or deliverable?” When you have the
answer, state it clearly and concisely, right at the beginning of
■ Use correct grammar and
punctuation, and proofread the
e-mail message for typos before
you hit “Send.”
■ Edit your message.
Make sure that you
have told readers what
they need to know to
make a decision or take
action and that
you have eliminated any unnecessary information.
■ If you need to include supporting information, use easy-to-scan bullet points or short
■ Craft a subject line that tells
the reader exactly what the message is about and allows the reader
to file or find the message easily.
■ Check the tone. Read over
the message to make sure the
tone is not likely to be too abrupt
or otherwise offend the reader.
■ Use active, clear, concise
language. Avoid passive language
that can weaken your message
and confuse readers, pompous
language that can get in the way
of your message, jargon that
IT’S A LINE
that has been
and Mae West:
rich and I’ve
rich is better.”
While the humor is clear,
the statement comes from
Many people aim to
be wealthy, yet not all
achieve it. Some attribute
that to bad luck, some to
attitude, some to opportunity, some to a combination of all three. Richard
Paul Evans’ The 5 Lessons
a Millionaire Taught Me
(available at Costco and
costco.com) suggests that
wealth is achievable.
The 83 pages of advice
anecdotes can be read in
a matter of hours. A resource section offers information and tools to get
your financial life on track.
It’s never too late
to start. C
THIS MONTH Microsoft
will host its second Small
Business Summit—a free
online event featuring
keynotes from successful
on the new Windows
Vista and Office products,
and expert tips on marketing and sales, finance,
security and accounting.
The dates are March 19
through 23. For more information and to register, go
and select “For Business,”
then “Small Business
readers might not understand
and unnecessary words that clutter up the e-mail.
■ Make sure the subject is
appropriate for e-mail. If the content is sensitive or confidential,
use another communication
method (phone or in-person
meeting). For example, if the
message is about an employee’s
work performance, e-mail is not
the right medium.
Chan and her business partner, Natasha Terk, both Costco
members, have a company called
Write It Well (
that offers books and training
programs to enhance all forms of
business writing. C