Milk Your Cash Cow

There’s been a lot of talk lately about diversification, but I’m going to talk about the opposite view. When you have a cash cow, keep milking it! What got me thinking about this is some projects I’m working on, or have worked on in the past, that are now almost dead.

The title of this post comes from Jeffrey Gitomer who says, Go milk your own cows first for new business. You can go to your neighbor’s cows and milk them or you can milk your own cows.



Business Cards that Get Noticed

If you’ve met me at Affiliate Summit in either Vegas or NY City this year, you’ve probably gotten one of my nice business cards. In Vegas I made custom playing cards by Bicycle and for ASE in NY, I made up credit cards (I was going to do metro cards, but they didn’t provide much space for creativity). The credit cards were printed by, complete with rounded corners, embossed numbers, magnetic strip with encoded data, and a signature panel.

ASE09 Card - Front ASE09 Card - Back

I was rather bummed when I saw a credit card design in Shoemoney’s business card contest, especially since I had ordered mine before that post… and then the credit card design was chosen as the winner! Well I saw Jeremy at Affiliate Summit & gave him one of my cards, and asked for one of his. While he didn’t have any on him, he said they were simply printed on paper. I expected so much more from him!

I had some data encoded on the magnetic strip, and in the fine print on the back of the card, stated that if someone finds out what it is, they’ll win a prize (well, I said “maybe” because I don’t want to give away 100 prizes). So far, nobody’s stepped up to claim that prize. Apparently the cards do NOT work in credit card terminals, but I verified the cards do have data on them, as I bought a USB reader off eBay to test a few of them. However, you don’t need a card reader: there’s a hint on the back of the card. 😉

ASW09 Card - FrontIf you’re going to make up fancy cards, only get about 100 of them, and keep some traditional cards on you for fish-bowl drops and to exchange with people you don’t need to impress.

I feel like I have to out-do myself for Vegas in January. I’m not going to copy Peter Shankman‘s poker chip idea (especially after the TSA gave him a hard time about bringing on so many poker chips in his carry-on baggage!). I could always go back to playing cards.



Paperless (and Clean!) Office

For years I’ve struggled to keep my office clean. See, with so many projects, and the family stuff, and the Cub Scout stuff, it was just a mess. I’d clean up, but when I’m in my office, I want to work, not clean. One of my goals was to get as much as I could digitized, so then it’d only reside in my laptop.

A couple weeks ago I came across EverNote, a way to capture information and save it in a digital file. I have yet to unleash the true power of Evernote, but I’ve started.

Fujitsu Scansnap S300To get my files scanned into my computer, I picked up the Fujitsu Scansnap S300 Color Mobile Scanner. This is one of the most important pieces of hardware I now own. In terms of productivity, I’d rank it right up there with the second monitor. This scanner is truly amazing.

First, I configured the ScanSnap to save the files right to Evernote. You have to create a new profile, and select the Evernote application in the profile preferences. Then left-click on the icon in the toolbar to chose the profile, then either press the scan button on the scanner or right-click on the icon and choose a Simplex (single-sided) or Duplex (doubled-sided) scan. That’s right… this scanner will scan BOTH SIDES of a document AT THE SAME TIME. Oh, and did I mention it does this in FULL COLOR, and it’s FAST?!?!

Here’s a video I took showing how fast the ScanSnap is:

So anything on my desk, I scanned, tagged, and then either shredded or recycled (by the way: you can recycle shredded paper. Save a tree). Right away my desk was cleaner. Then I attacked the pile of business cards from the last couple Affiliate Summits.

The business card software is clunky, but it works (most of the time). I still have to figure out how to export it to GMail, but that can wait. I rarely use these cards, but felt like I had to save them. Now they can go, as I have the data in a database, along with the image of the card (front and back, if applicable).

Looking for more to scan, I thought it’d be a good idea to scan my articles of incorporation, so I’d have a digital backup of them. I created a new journal just for these papers, and in a few minutes had them scanned in. Now I have a digital copy of the papers (convenient to send to my accountant or attorney if I have to), a copy saved with Evernote, and they’re backed up with Mozy (my online backup provider).

What’s nice about the files is that when they’re scanned, they’re PDFs. I haven’t played much with the OCR functions, but that’d make it easier to search & find things (right now, searches are limited to my titles & tags).

Then I figured, since I could use the ScanSnap with Evernote, why not set up a profile for Picasa. So I did. I set the profile to save to Picasa as a JPG, and scan at a higher resolution. Then I took a packet of photos that a Cub Scout parent had given me about a year ago, stacked them about 8 at a time in the ScanSnap, and hit the button. In about 10 minutes, I had all of the photos scanned. Now the quality isn’t the best, but that’s the fault of the disposable camera, not the ScanSnap.

I’ve also used the ScanSnap to quickly make a PDF to then fax with MaxEmail and to make a hard copy of a paper document.

There’s so much more I could probably be doing with my ScanSnap and Evernote, but I have to learn all of the functionality. At least my office is now considerably cleaner.