Archive for 2012

Effective Ways to Build on Mistakes

Effective Ways to Build on Mistakes

Although we all try to avoid making mistakes whenever possible, it is important to accept that they are bound to happen eventually. In the best interests of your business, embrace your mistakes as learning experiences and build on what you’ve learned to move forward. The following is a list of ways that you can build on your mistakes to minimize damage and prevent them from happening again.

  • Accept full responsibility for your mistakes. It may be tempting to play the blame game and make someone else the scapegoat. Aside from creating tension in the workplace, it also keeps you from recognizing the real problem. Every aspect of your business falls back on you, so demonstrate strong leadership by holding yourself accountable for your mistakes. You will be setting a good example for your employees, and everyone involved in your business will respect you more for taking control.
  • Work as a team to fix the problem. Act quickly to gather the appropriate people who can help rectify the problem caused by a mistake. For example, if a marketing flier with incorrect information has been distributed to customers, choose the people who are best equipped to handle the problem right away. Delegate someone to create a new flier with accurate information, someone else to contact clients about the error, and yet another person to make arrangements with the printer to deliver the new order as quickly as possible. Always demonstrate a professional demeanor even in the most stressful of situations, and show your team that working together is the best way to move forward.
  • Implement a process to deal with mistakes and ways to learn from them. How you handle mistakes will of course vary depending on the situation. However, you should absolutely have some kind of support system in place, especially if you find yourself in unchartered territory. Support groups, mentors, or even informal advisors can provide you with guidance you may need to not only deal with the mistake at hand, but also to learn from it. Think of your support system as a disaster preparedness kit. You hope that you will never need it, but if you do, it will be a lifesaver.
  • Share your mistake with others. It is human nature to want to cover up our mistakes so others don’t see our weaknesses. This is counterproductive, as it enables you to avoid getting to the root of the problem and gaining new wisdom from it. First, own up to it using first-person statements like, “I neglected to approve the final draft that contained inaccurate information.” Second, talk about it with people you trust, even those who are not involved in business at all. Venting to a confidante will make you feel better and help you identify where you may have gone wrong. Third, listen to the advice of others. You will benefit from getting advice from a variety of perspectives. Talking it out with others will maximize your learning.

When dealing with mistakes, keep your cool, take responsibility, act quickly, and reflect on the problem by talking it out with others. You won’t be able to avoid every possible misstep, but you will certainly take away a newfound wisdom that allows you to move your business forward. How do you build on your mistakes? Please share your ideas below!

How to Improve Face to Face Meetings

How to Improve Face to Face Meetings

In this digital age where much of our communication is electronic, etiquette for face to face meetings is becoming more and more relaxed. Stand out from the crowd by taking steps to ensure you are taken seriously and can be productive when interacting with someone in person. Many of the following suggestions also apply to virtual meetings, but they are especially important when conducting a face to face encounter.

  • Set a specific goal. What is your desired outcome of this meeting? Perhaps you’re there to make a sale, land a client, or brainstorm a new marketing strategy with a colleague. In an effort to make the most out of the allotted meeting time, you should always have a specific goal in mind. Furthermore, this goal, when appropriate, should be communicated to the other party. Doing so prevents misunderstandings and keeps everyone involved focused and moving forward.
  • Prepare an agenda or written notes. There may be a few things you want to make sure are addressed or perhaps questions that need to be answered. Take some time before the meeting begins to write down an agenda or some notes that you can easily refer to while you’re meeting. Prepared notes also facilitate a smooth transition from topic to topic instead of relying solely on your memory and risking forgetting an important talking point.
  • Adopt a professional appearance. You should not only be dressed appropriately, but make sure you are well-groomed and demonstrate a professional demeanor. When possible, avoid lugging your morning coffee and donuts with you into a meeting as it can be distracting to others and may even convey a lack of time management skills.
  • Arrive early. Whether your commute is an hour’s drive or a walk across the office to a conference room, get there early to prevent making others wait for you if unforeseen circumstances occur. A flat tire, a forgotten document, or a disruption of internet service can all hamper productivity. These occurrences may be rare, but arriving early will make you better equipped to handle the problem and keep the meeting going smoothly and seamlessly. This practice also communicates that you respect the time of the others you are meeting with, which creates a positive impression.
  • Practice humility, positivity, and politeness. Avoid bragging, focusing on negative people or circumstances, and other rude behavior. Be humble when discussing your accomplishments, keep a positive tone in even the most stressful of situations, and always be polite even if you aren’t receiving the same courtesy. If you possess these three qualities, you won’t give anyone a chance to say a bad word about you. A good reputation will follow you just as easily as a bad one can.
  • Listen with a purpose and be responsive. Just as you should have a goal set before the meeting, listen to the other person with a purpose as well. What should you take from his or her message? What is the other person looking to get from you? Part of being an effective listener is knowing how to show the other person that you are, in fact, listening. Make eye contact, take notes if appropriate, ask follow-up questions when given the opportunity, and respond when needed.
  • Know your product/service. You don’t want to waste your prospect’s time, or your own, for that matter. Familiarize yourself with the product or service to the point that you are an expert. Doing so will instill confidence in both the other party and yourself. You should be able to talk freely about what you have to offer, and have to refer to notes or literature as infrequently as possible.
  • Always follow up. No matter the outcome of the meeting, take a few minutes to follow up. Depending on the situation, a thank-you email or handwritten note will suffice. In other situations, a phone call to touch base or schedule a subsequent meeting is needed. Decide your best course of action and make it a priority to follow up promptly.

What do you find is the best way to handle face to face meetings? Please share your ideas below!

Conversations that Increase Sales

Conversations that Increase Sales

The ultimate goal in a sales meeting is, of course, to close the deal. Depending on your individual style, there are several paths from which to choose that lead you to a final sale. By focusing on your clients’ perspective, you are giving yourself a better chance at succeeding. Here are some conversations you should be having with customers that will lead to an increased number of sales.

  • Discuss how your client perceives the problem. You may have your own ideas about how your product or service would serve as a solution to a problem, but the client may have a completely different perception of the problem itself. Find out what that is, and in your presentation, appeal to that need. Let’s say your client wants to simplify his financial software program. Without discussing why, you could be trying to solve a problem that doesn’t really exist. Does his current program have too many extraneous features? Does he like the features but finds the program hard to use? The more specific you can get, the better equipped you’ll be to provide a real solution.
  • Use simple, clear statements that appeal to your client. There really is no need for you to use overly technical language or business jargon in a sales meeting. Clients really only want to figure out if your product will be valuable enough to them to spend their hard-earned money on it. Back to the above example, the customer states that he needs the features of his financial software, but is spending too much time navigating the program. A simple statement like, “The simplicity of our software will cut your usage time in half,” is clear and appeals exactly to the client’s problem.
  • Establish credibility. Why should a client take the time to listen to your pitch? Why should someone consider doing business with you instead of a competitor? You need to establish yourself as someone worthy of a client’s time. Make sure you are dressed appropriately and come prepared not just with your pitch, but with smart, client-specific questions. It’s a good idea to research a prospective client so that you can open with some questions that demonstrate your expertise and genuine interest in your client’s specific needs.
  • Prepare for objections. Don’t let yourself be caught off guard when a client objects to closing the sale. Anticipate possible reasons for such objections so you can respond quickly and confidently. People often take comfort in knowing that others have already thought of possible issues and have taken steps to prevent them. Listen carefully to the client’s concern, ask follow-up questions if necessary, and then respond appropriately.
  • Always leave with a good impression. This is especially true, even if you don’t ultimately make the sale. You never know when you will be doing business with this client in the future or in what capacity. If you’ve left with a positive impression, a client may recommend you to a colleague or friend, or perhaps think of you later on when a different need arises. Even failed sales meetings are opportunities for further networking, so always conduct yourself professionally with a pleasant and sincere demeanor.

Your dialogue with clients forms the basis of your professional relationship. Knowing how to focus those conversations will help you increase your sales.

What conversations work for you? Please share your ideas below!


Here’s to Your Success! DSEF’s Latest Resources

Here’s to Your Success! DSEF’s Latest Resources

Every direct selling company knows that the foundation of a successful salesforce is a successful mindset. Teaching new business owners how to overcome challenges and turn self-doubt into positive, actionable plans is critical for building thriving businesses. So, too, is learning how to properly balance work and family life. It’s one of the biggest challenges entrepreneurs face—and one that can quickly derail even the most promising business venture.

To benefit small business owners, including your salesforce, the Direct Selling Education Foundation has made two new tools available: the Creating Your Success Mindset e-book and the Balancing Work & Life PowerPoint series.

Creating Your Success Mindset

New E-book:

What does it take to build a successful, thriving business?

One word: mindset.

Successful business owners know that responding to each and every situation that comes along does not guarantee success. What does is setting each day’s agenda so that it corresponds with your goals. Successful business owners choose the tasks and the direction most in line with their goals. And if you want your business to succeed, you need to do the same.

How? DSEF has produced Creating Your Success Mindset, a free downloadable e-book that will help your salesforce with this process. The activities included in the workbook are designed to help your salesforce focus their business efforts in the right direction. Readers will learn how to:

  • Define your why
  • Tune out negativity and committing to positive self-talk
  • Make a plan
  • Build in accountability
  • Use visualizations
  • Make a plan for when you fall
  • Focus on excellence instead of perfection

Balancing Work & Life:

New PowerPoint Modules

DSEF partnered with the Direct Selling Association to create four narrated PowerPoint modules that help small business owners effectively manage their day-to-day personal and business activities. The Balancing Work & Life modules include:

Managing All Aspects of Your Life
If you don’t take care of each part of your life, you run the risk of burning out, putting yourself and your family at risk, creating more stress, and not achieving your dreams. So how do you create a work-life balance that allows you to achieve all your personal and professional goals? In this module, you’ll learn how to manage your life through self-assessments and goal-setting in health, career and professional development, spiritual growth, relationships and family, finances and responsibilities, and fun and personal development.

Getting & Staying Organized
Clutter and disorganization, ineffective systems, bad planning, and self-sabotage—they can prevent you from building a strong foundation for your business. The key to combating them is to get and stay organized so you will be less overwhelmed and more focused and creative. In this module, you’ll learn tips on how to deal with clutter, create effective systems, allocate time appropriately, and fend off those nagging doubts and fears.

Working Successfully from Home
As an entrepreneur, you have the ability to build your business from the comforts of your home. But are you prepared to tackle the challenges that come along with that? Can you effectively set boundaries between your home life and work life? In this module, you’ll learn the pros and cons of maintaining separate personal and business space, working around family members, establishing boundaries, and avoiding distractions and temptations while working at home.

Reducing Stress and Building Resilience
Running a business is not easy. In fact, it can be extremely stressful at times. And stress can have a tremendous impact on both your personal and professional success. It can lower your immunity, create poor moods, and lead to strokes and heart attacks. The key minimizing stress is to maintain a good level of health and energy and learn the necessary skills for coping with change and overcoming problems. In this module, you’ll learn stress relievers and how to build a resilience roadmap to deal with life’s demands.

Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program: Start Spreading the Word!

Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program: Start Spreading the Word!

At the National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship’s (NACCE) annual conference in Chicago last month, Robin Diamond and Nancy Laichas introduced DSEF’s new community college curriculum—the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program (DSEP)—to an enthusiastic group of nearly 500 community college administrators, instructors, and staff. The Pampered Chef’s Founder and Chairman Emeritus Doris Christopher gave DSEP a ringing endorsement from the stage during her conference keynote address, calling it a “win-win-win” for community colleges, for the direct selling industry, and for the country’s 16 million direct sellers.

“The Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program is an acknowledgment from the higher education community of the important entrepreneurial contribution of direct selling,” says DSEF Executive Director Charlie Orr. “The Direct Selling Education Foundation contributes and supports a range of meaningful activities for an ethical marketplace that promotes fairness, economic opportunity, and independence. The same values and influences that drive many individuals to pursue a direct selling entrepreneurial opportunity will motivate them to pursue the education that will bring them even greater success.”

The program—a direct selling curriculum to be offered through community colleges across the United States—provides direct sellers with management and entrepreneurial skills to help them increase their business acumen. Two community colleges will offer the course this month, with more to follow in 2013. Read DSEF’s August newsletter feature for more details.

As community colleges across the country begin to offer DSEP, you can help us spread the word in a variety of ways:

  • Share DSEP’s Facebook page with your field so they have access to the most  up-to-date course information
  • Put us in touch with your salesforce training and development team to collaborate in reaching direct sellers near community colleges offering DSEP
  • Contact us for help in asking your local community college to offer DSEP
  • Share the upcoming course schedule with your company, employees, and salesforce

For any questions about the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program, please contact DSEF Director of Marketing & Communications Nancy Laichas.

Donors Make a Difference: Orville and Heidi Thompson

Donors Make a Difference: Orville and Heidi Thompson

For DSEF, the difference between what we would like to do and what we can do is this: your support.

Scentsy co-owners Orville and Heidi Thompson know this. That’s why they, like so many other industry leaders, are committed to helping the Foundation reach its vision of creating a global marketplace that respects and appreciates direct selling.

In the coming months, we’ll profile those donors who have helped us execute our programs through their corporate and personal financial contributions. You’ll learn why they believe DSEF is important to the success of the industry and, ultimately, your business.

This month we speak to the Thompsons, who in addition to running a growing international party-plan company also serve on the DSEF Board of Directors.

DSEF: How do DSEF programs help Scentsy, its salesforce, and the industry?

Orville: The great benefit of DSEF is the credibility it helps build for all direct selling companies, including Scentsy. Direct selling is ideal for people who want flexible work hours, to control their financial destiny, or to replace income from a job loss. By partnering with organizations like the Council of Better Business Bureaus and the FTC, DSEF not only increases understanding and awareness of direct selling, but it also promotes the industry’s strong commitment to consumer protection and business integrity—and that helps everyone in the industry, Scentsy, and especially our Consultants.

DSEF: What specific programs are you most excited about?

Heidi: We’re especially excited to see the launch of the Direct Selling Entrepreneur Program with community colleges this fall. We know a lot of people enter the direct selling industry with no prior business experience, and it can be very intimidating. This new, 30-hour community college course helps new and even experienced direct sellers gain more confidence, learn better strategies for their business, and experience greater success. Having access to this kind of a class at the community college level will open doors for many people to launch a successful small business, while reinforcing that direct selling is not only legitimate, but a preferred way of doing it.

DSEF: What is most rewarding about your Board involvement?

Orville: I believe direct selling solves the business conundrum of our day. Traditional brick-and-mortar retail stores can’t store inventory like online retailers, but online stores can’t build brands effectively. So there’s a challenge that needs to be met. Traditional retail is not efficient, and online retail can’t build brands. Direct selling companies like Scentsy are creating businesses that distribute product as efficiently as online giants like Amazon, yet build brand loyalty through personalized shopping experiences as well or better than any traditional retailer. As a member of the DSEF Board, it’s gratifying to help people see the enormous possibilities of our sales model.

Heidi: By serving on the Board, I know I’m creating awareness of the direct selling opportunity and giving hope to people to reach their personal and financial goals. As just one example, at the Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting in June, we were proud to support the walkathon which benefited the Dallas chapter of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. We met some great young people who are learning how to be successful entrepreneurs, and there’s no limit to what they can achieve. That’s the best part for me—giving people hope and then watching them achieve their dreams.

DSEF: Why is DSEF support so important?

Orville: For years, direct selling has endured unfair press, prejudice, and misunderstanding—keeping it from the level of acceptance and support it deserves. How else would so many people start their own business and achieve their financial goals without extreme risk and heavy investment? The Direct Selling Education Foundation helps build a strong reputation for our business model by promoting ethical business practices, overcoming misperceptions, and establishing the value of direct selling among traditional thought leaders.

Heidi: I support the Direct Selling Education Foundation because I’ve seen so many examples of the difference direct selling can make in people’s lives. It certainly transformed our lives as entrepreneurs, and we’ve seen it transform our Consultants’ lives as well. The Foundation creates awareness that direct selling can be a great source of income and even a full-time career for many people.

To join the Thompsons in supporting DSEF, donate now.

DSEF & BBB: Shop Small on Small Business Saturday

DSEF & BBB: Shop Small on Small Business Saturday

After such a close U.S. election, it’s hard to imagine 93% of Americans agreeing on anything! But that’s the percentage of consumers who think it’s important to support small businesses in their community.

If you agree, now’s your chance to show it! Small Business Saturday is November 24 (sandwiched in-between Black Friday and Cyber Monday), and everyone is encouraged to shop local and support hometown businesses.

Here’s a fun infographic to show just how important small businesses are to our economy.

NOTE: Small Business Saturday is sponsored by American Express, a BBB Accredited Business and a National Partner.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visit for more information.

7 Skills to Greatness

7 Skills to Greatness

We all have a vision of our ideal selves, a version that is hard-working, successful, inspirational, and fulfilled. You should always strive to achieve that level of greatness in both your professional and personal life, but it is also important to recognize and embrace your flaws. Only then will you truly become a realistic version of your ideal self. Here are some skills you can focus on to achieve greatness and make yourself proud.

  • Be punctual. For some people, this is an easy skill to master. However, if you’re one of those people who is perpetually ten minutes late, this is an important one for you to work on. Punctuality conveys a multi-faceted message to others; being on time shows that you respect other people’s time, that you take your commitments seriously, and that you are prepared and responsible enough to get where you need to be on schedule. Lateness, on the other hand, conveys exactly the opposite.  Even though you may not consciously mean to be disrespectful of others in any way, tardiness demonstrates a negative message. Find ways to make punctuality a top priority.
  • Be consistent. If you are consistent, it translates to others that you are dependable and can safely be relied upon to keep your word. This goes for everything from your adherence to company policies to your overall demeanor when interacting with team members and clients alike. People with whom you do business are more likely to trust you when you are predictable in the most positive way.
  • Be responsive. Whether you are listening to a customer’s complaint or a colleague’s concern, don’t throw on your poker face and make the other person wonder what you are thinking. Respond immediately, sincerely, and respectfully to the matter at hand. Demonstrate your desire to help others by addressing questions and comments promptly.
  • Be respectful no matter what. There is bound to be that rare occasion when someone acts in an unprofessional manner, perhaps by using inappropriate language or targeting you as the cause for dissatisfaction. Don’t worry about whether or not you are right; always act respectful even if you aren’t being shown the same courtesy. Later on, when cooler heads prevail, you will never have to worry about how you acted in the heat of the moment. Levelheadedness and decorum are never criticized.
  • Help others. There are several ways to help others while still running your business, such as performing community service, donating to local organizations, or becoming a mentor to a future business leader. Helping others is a great way to use your own success to give back to your community and its members. If you need assistance getting started, contact your local chamber of commerce, parent-teacher organization, or community college.
  • Be right as much as possible, but be okay when you’re wrong. With enough preparation, research, and knowledge of your industry, you will often be right. Equally as important, however, is accepting when you are wrong. Instead of trying to cover up your error or blame it on someone else, admit your mistake and act quickly to rectify the situation. No one expects you to be perfect, but you are expected to be honest and caring about your desire to satisfy your colleagues and customers.
  • Forgive yourself and others for mistakes. Just as you can’t expect to be perfect, don’t expect it in others. You should certainly expect professionalism and hard work, but forgive yourself and others when things don’t go as planned. Solve any problems that arise, identify how to prevent the same thing from happening again, and move forward.

If you are lucky enough to love what you do for a living, then make the commitment to master these skills. Not only will your business be more likely to thrive, but you will command the respect of those around you.

What qualities do you feel are evidence of greatness? Please share your ideas below!

DSEF’s 3rd Annual Pack a Present Toy Drive Is Just around the Corner!

DSEF’s 3rd Annual Pack a Present Toy Drive Is Just around the Corner!

In just a few weeks, many of you will be packing your bags to head to the Los Angeles area for DSA’s Communications & Marketing Conference (Dec. 5-7). Make sure you leave room in your suitcase for a gift for a child in need. To help make the holidays a little brighter for area kids, The Direct Selling Education Foundation is once again sponsoring “Pack a Present Toy Drive,” this year partnering with the South Bay chapter of the Boys & Girls Clubs.

“Now in its third year, DSEF’s Pack a Present event is becoming a December tradition for direct selling company and supplier company executives,” said Charlie Orr, DSEF Executive Director. “I encourage every conference attendee to “Pack a Present,” and help us demonstrate our industry’s giving spirit to the local community.”

DSEF will collect the toys at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, from Dec. 5-7. On Thursday, December 6, Boys & Girls Club representatives will bring a group of children to the hotel to have cocoa and cookies with Santa and receive the gifts.

“The holidays can be a tough time for kids in need,” said Tamara Ingram, DSEF Community Program Manager. “DSEF’s Pack a Present not only provides a memorable experience for the kids who join us for the event, it ensures hundreds of area children will feel the joy of the season.”

DSEF’s Pack a Present event is one of the many ways the direct selling industry gives back to those less fortunate during the holidays. In the past eight years, direct sellers have donated more than $85 million to the TODAY Show Holiday Gift Drive, according to Amy Robinson, DSA’s Chief Marketing Officer. “The TODAY Show Holiday Gift Drive is just one example each year of how direct selling serves as a force for good in our communities, across the country and throughout the world,” Amy said. “DSEF’s Pack a Present provides a heartwarming opportunity for direct selling executives to offer a personal donation, and we’re thrilled that the Foundation is hosting the event at our upcoming Communications & Marketing Conference.”

DSEF wishes to thank Pack a Present’s generous sponsors AmwayTeam National and 4Life, and extend our special appreciation to John Killacky of Bartha for portraying Santa Claus at this year’s event.

While donated gifts may be for children of any age, gifts for teens are especially needed. Cash gifts are also welcome and all gifts should be in their original packaging and not gift-wrapped.

If you haven’t yet done so, you may register here for DSA’s Communications & Marketing Conference. For more information about DSEF’s Pack a Present Toy Drive, or to inquire about available sponsorships, contact Tamara Ingram.

How Friends and Family Can Help You Start Your Business

How Friends and Family Can Help You Start Your Business

Starting a business with support from your loved ones can make all the difference in its ultimate success. Sure, you may be able to go it alone, but your chance of succeeding is much greater when you have the help of those who matter to you the most. The following is a list of steps that will help you gain the support of your friends and family.

  • Educate them about the business. If you sense some skepticism from your loved ones, it may simply be because they don’t know what exactly you’ll be doing. Talk about the industry itself and what you will be contributing to it by starting the business. What unique qualities do you have or what novel ideas have you come up with that will give you an edge over your competitors? Make sure you answer their questions as specifically as you can to not only educate them, but also to demonstrate your own expertise.
  • Tell them exactly what kind of help you need. Some people just need the peace of mind that their friends and family will provide them with moral support and encouragement. Others may need physical help to set up a retail space, for example. Still others may need financial help or even just some assistance spreading the word about the new business. Tell your loved ones what you need and how exactly it will help your business. It is so often the case that friends and family members want to reach out and help, but don’t know what they can do.
  • Put their referrals first. Did your mom refer her friend from her book club? Is your newest customer your best friend’s landlord? Make referrals that come from friends and family your top priority. Think of them as having VIP status with you; if your referrals feel appreciated and important because they “know the owner,” they will be eager to talk about your business with their friends and family, and provide you with even more referrals.
  • Show your appreciation for their help. Gratitude can be shown in a myriad of ways. The most important thing is to be sincere. Consider taking them out for a nice meal and making a thoughtful toast, sending them a gift basket with all their favorite goodies, or spending the time to write a handwritten note or letter telling them how much their support means to not only your business but to you personally.
  • Go above and beyond their expectations. Find ways, both big and small, to exceed the expectations of your friends and family members. They are the most important people in your life, so make the effort to show them in both your personal and professional life. Don’t take their support for granted; no one is obligated to help you just because of your relationship with them. Your efforts to go above and beyond will likely not go unnoticed, and you’ll feel good about doing right by those you care about.
  • Remember that relationships come first. Whatever you do, don’t let your business get in the way of your relationships. There may be times when you feel disappointed that someone hasn’t supported you in the way you had anticipated. Not everyone will be able to help you for a variety of reasons. Maintain the relationship regardless; your loved ones should come first in your life.

Having the support of friends and family is something we all want when it comes to big decisions, like starting a business. Be informative, unafraid to ask for help, and willing to return the favor. How do you enlist the help of your loved ones? Please share your ideas below!