Monthly Archives: January 2016

Business rules type on how to terminate your product or service


This business rules type is often forgotten or ignored. Not many want to think about terminating their product or service, hoping it will be there forever.

But it won’t. At least not in its first version. And your updates might be so crucial that you in fact will have something completely new than merely an updated product or service.

I can guarantee that at some point earlier or later you will need to discard one or more of your products or services.

What do you have to know then?

Again, the answer becomes clearer as soon as you put your customers’ interests in focus of your attention.

The following questions appear if you do this.

How will the termination of or change in your product or service affect your customers? Will they receive a new product from you instead, or do they have to go to one of your competitors? Or are you going to convince them that they don’t need that product at all? That they have that functionality with some other of your products, which they purchased as well? Will they need to invest something to use your new product? Will they receive more from the change? Will they have to change the links, addresses, data in their address- and data-bases because of the change you cause? Etc., etc.

Naturally you have to choose those methods, which will benefit your customers and will not cause any inconveniences to them. Sometimes it is not possible to avoid inconveniences. Then you need to provide as many benefits as possible, which will motivate your customers to stick with you during the change.

There will be rules and regulations on what you have to do or not do while terminating a product or service.

You can consider your product/service termination as an extraordinary termination of a contract. This is true even if you don’t have an active purchase order at the time when you want to stop your product line or service, especially if you did it over a longer period of time. Then you still terminate a contract, an unwritten one, but you do break a commitment. The one promising to your current and potential customers that you would continue maintaining your product/services for years. Even if you never made this promise in written or spoken way, your customers expect consistency and reliability. With the termination or change of your product or service you make a cut into the expected consistency.

You will know from various contract agreements that there are special rules on how to dissolve a contract, how long the notification time before termination should be, what kind of explanations can be expected and which must be given, etc. These rules are what you need to define about stopping or major change in your product/service here.

So ultimately you need to create a checklist of things you already know you have to do when discarding your product or service. It is easier to create such a list from a distance of time than when you are pressed with deadlines to do all at once.

And then there is one more challenge here. Some companies wait too long until they change or discard their product or service. They loose time and money by maintaining a dead stone. Thus, now as you are in the planning phase, create a list of criteria, which will help you identify the signs when your product need to be changed or discarded. The main indicator of course the diminishing interests by the potential and in the worse case also by current customers. So research, ask your colleagues and competitors, which are these criteria for them. And then draft such a list for your products, services and business in general.

As a conclusion to all the above we can say that you need to prepare the termination procedures as carefully as (or maybe even more thoroughly than) the implementation and production processes.

This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

“Nothing is As it Seems” Chapter 9

Ingrid and Alice stood up in unison, Steve’s head tilting after Ingrid. Alice took the mugs to the sink, while Ingrid released the brakes on Steve’s wheelchair. Before she pulled the wheelchair away from the table she patted Steve’s hand, which he seemed to have readily placed on his shoulder for her to reach.

The noise died as Alice closed the door after Steve, Ingrid and herself.

Elizabeth cringed. The silence was deafening.

This is not how she imagined a family reunion.

Not that she expected one.

Elizabeth didn’t think she would find anyone from her family here. She actually didn’t know now what she had expected. Had she ever grasped her wish into words? Elizabeth wasn’t sure.

Her father told her about her mother’s death when she was small. But he never mentioned a son.

And now Patrick, the “mad” mad, was her brother.

Elizabeth stole a glance at him.

He stood at the same spot, which he occupied after letting Alice, Steve and Ingrid out.

When he gazed at them a minute ago, he looked so scared. So lost. Like a small boy. Although by now Elizabeth was sure that he was older than she was. And she now guessed, whose elbow was touching her shoulder on the photograph she showed to Alice and Ingrid.

Oh no, the photograph! Elizabeth glanced at the table. How could she take it back without Patrick noticing?

She glanced up and discovered that Patrick watched her but in the next moment he seemed to check where her gaze had been the moment before.

Patrick froze.

Too late, he saw it.

Patrick made a step to the table and took the picture.

He gripped it with both hands, his jaw moving from one side to another.

Then he did something strange. He looked closer at the photograph. But not this was strange. The way he did it was strange. He bowed his body above the picture instead of bringing it closer to his face.

Elizabeth couldn’t make out Patrick’s expression. She saw only his high forehead, dense brows, pressed together, and skulls moving.

Shiver ran along Elizabeth’s spine in spite of the warm air full of chocolate aroma filling the large kitchen, which Elizabeth recognized being the living room when she was small.

Can’t Patrick say something? Should I say something?

“Sorry”, she said.

Patrick look up, his eyes glazed. He squeezed his eyelids shut and then released them. “Why.” He paused. “Why did you come?”

“My…father died and I…”


“I wanted to find out…”


“What happened when I was small. I don’t remember anything from here. I mean…inside. I remember how the house looked from outside. But not exactly how it used to be inside. How…we lived here.” She looked at Patrick hoping to ignite at least a little compassion in him. “I must have been old enough to remember something. But I don’t.”

“Oh that’s simple.” Patrick’s cold gaze returned, however mixed with something undefinable, as he took a chair at the opposite side of the table. “You fell of the roof.”

Elizabeth felt her eyes opening as never before. “I fell…of the roof?”

“Yes. I pushed you.”

“What? You…” Elizabeth found all her face muscles gathering somewhere around her nose. “But why?”

“Because you were stupid and I hated you.”

Elizabeth took a deep breath and looked at Patrick in disbelief. His look was on the picture, which he still held in his hands.

“I don’t believe you,” Elizabeth said.

“That’s your problem.” Patrick shovelled the picture toward Elizabeth along the table top. “Now, that you know what happened, you can leave. You are not wished here.”

A lump of something appeared in her stomach and started to raise inside her. No, not tears. It was anger. And a very strong one.

No, dear brother, you won’t get rid of me so easily.” She crossed her hands in front of her. “What did I do as a child that made you hate me. And as it looks still make you hate me?”

“You were just stupid. That’s all. There is nothing more to that.”

“I don’t believe you.” Elizabeth drew a deep breath. “I don’t believe a word you said. And…I want to know more. About our parents. About our mother. You owe me this much.”

“Owe you? Since when? Since our dear father took you away from us…from here? You probably used to idolize him, right?”

Elizabeth drew another deep breath but didn’t manage to answer, because Patrick hit the table top with his forearms as he supported himself on the polished surface.

“And I bet you still do,” Patrick said. He leaned back in the chair. “So just go back to where you come from and live further in your fairy tale of a story. What was here is none of your business.”

“It is my business and I bet I have a right to this house as much as you do!” Oh-oh, this didn’t go out well.

“Is this is what your visit is about? To get money out of the house? Not the honourable”, Patrick grimaced, “finding and reconciling with the long lost family. Ha! You know what? Just go to the court and claim a part and let the lawyers do the talk.” Patrick stood up. “I’m done with you. I guess you will find your way out.”

“Patrick, wait! This is not what I meant.”

“It doesn’t matter.” He took a step to the door and was surprised as it almost hit him in the face.

Alice stood at the other side. “Oh, I didn’t see you. Sorry!” She measured him with a concerned look. “Are you all right? Did I hit you?”

Patrick grabbed the door knob. “No, no, I’m fine. I was just finished here and wanted to do some urgent things and—”

“Claire wants to talk to Liza.”

Blood left Patrick’s face.

Elizabeth frowned. “Who is Claire?”

Alice looked at Elizabeth, at Patrick, then back at Elizabeth. She put her left hand on Patrick’s covering the door knob and the right arm on his other arm. It was as if she knew what just happened here and as if she was trying to stop him from leaving. Then she said turning back to Elizabeth, “Claire is Patrick’s and…your mother.”


Picture: Snow in our garden.

P.S. Chapter 10 will be written and posted latest in two weeks time.

P.P.S. You can find the complete story written so far at the page “Free Online Books”.

P.P.P.S. If you think you have friends who could like this story, then let them know about it and forward it to them.

Everything except one paragraph  (1st paragraph in Chapter 1) of “Nothing is As it Seems” is under copyright © 2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Elevator pitch for Optimist Writer


The last blog post I published this week (before this one here) was about making products and services attractive and how to attract customers to them, or in other words how to market them.

I have also mentioned that I am a avid beginner in marketing for a self-standing business.

So, today I start a challenge to create a habit of taking action everyday to improve and to market the products and services I offer, the core of which are my knowledge and the resulting content, as both steadily grow.

I learn from many great resources about marketing for an online business. One of these is the workbook “31 Days to Build a Better Blog” by Darren Rowse (

For the first day of the challenge to build a better blog Darren suggests to create an elevator pitch for the blog. I found this very intriguing, because this will allow me to be more clear about what I want to serve my customers with, and also help them understand what I am up to and what I can help them with. So I decided to create an elevator pitch not only for my blog but for my business in general. And I decided to do both (as Darren suggested): to create an elevator pitch and to write a blog post about it.

So here goes the elevator pitch for the Optimist Writer.

In front of the elevator:

Optimist Writer is about project dis-entanglement and cheerleading for businesses, writers and S1000D lovers.

When elevator pitch goes to floors 1 to 5:

Optimist Writer is an independent writing and consulting company. It is devoted to project dis-entanglement and cheerleading for businesses, writers and S1000D lovers. Giving back to the communities that nurture me, I offer content and services to businesses, writers and S1000D-implementers, and help them discover an array of perfect solutions to each of their challenges.

If the travel with an elevator goes above floor 5, I add the following:

The content is offered both on-line and in form of books, and the services are both in form of training courses and consultancy using written exchange methods. The techniques presented in the content are implemented and tested in my function as a writer and business owner. Books (fiction and nonfiction), resulting from these experiences and lessons learned, are also accessible from this site.

If you want to find out more, then do one, or better all, of the following:

  • Explore the content on this site offered on various pages
  • Subscribe to my blogs and news
  • Contact me at to arrange a meeting or an interview with me and discuss possibilities for our collaboration.

Business rules type about making your product or service attractive and how to attract customers to it


Creating a product or service is not enough. As in all previous types of business rules, you need to think about the customer while creating it.

In general it is natural to think about the purpose of your product and what customers expect from such products and services, while thinking of how you product should look and feel like when it is used.

But there is more about attract-iveness of you product.

First of all there are many perfect ways of how a product can look and feel.

A good example here are on-line banking applications. I think I have used more than five so far and all of them had various ways to present lists of transactions, and various transaction forms. Some attempt to present as much information on one screen as possible, so that scrolling and additional clicking can be avoided and some make the fonts large, buttons big, making the transaction forms resemble a computer game for small children (especially because of the bright colours they use) than a screen where you are about to give out some money.

But there are also similarities between them, which show that there are also commonalities in preferences of different customers. I have yet to see an on-line banking program with a black (or other dark colour) background. All of them have white backgrounds, or at least the text and lists are presented on white. There are colourful frames around, but the actual information is always on the white background. It makes sense to me. This resembles the transaction lists and forms on paper, to which most of us are used to. And in this way they are probably best readable.

So, the way your product looks and feels like is a blend between your customers’ and your preferences. It helps when you consider yourself as a customer too. But you need to think of various preferences of various people and consider, which group of people you target.

In Denmark more and more aged population is using Internet, including on-line banking. We have volunteers in Aalborg, who help retired men and women to learn how to handle their finances using the digital post and on-line banking. My guess that large fonts and bright colours are targeted very much toward them, so that they can better distinguish various data on the screen.

But even if your product or service is likable and usable and has a perfect layout and is very easy to handle, it still doesn’t necessarily mean that you will immediately have success with it.

You need to make it visible and you need to attract various potential customers to it.

Yes, I am talking about marketing.

Many fear it, especially when it comes to small businesses, and to starting freelancers especially. Most of us grew in the cultures saying, “Don’t boast, be modest, don’t be arrogant.” Only recently we started to hear the encouraging words like “You have a lot of potential. Don’t be afraid to show it. Be yourself. Be bold, do what you want most. Go for your dreams.”

I am also a beginner in marketing since my business is young and I am learning a lot about it right now.

Here are the main lessons I learned so far.

There is no unique recipe for successful marketing. There are tendencies, like on-line presence, sharing of information and most important, taking care of ones fans and customers by communicating with them and offering them valuable content in your niche. But there are no absolute ways, which tools and approaches work best. Some swear that Facebook marketing boosted their business, some deny social media and rely on word of mouth or only on e-mail marketing. Many combine various methods adjusting their approaches as the time progresses and technologies evolve.

There is no better way to learn it than to get hands “dirty” and try out various things. And yes, we need to learn how to boast. You might frown about this statement. But I noticed an interesting thing about myself. When I try to boast about what I do it turns more like passionate telling about things I did with all my heart. And this infects with motivation those who listen. By marketing what we do, we don’t only praise a product and try to sell it, we have a potential to ignite creativity in others, a wish to create and share something on their own.

There are no wrong ways in marketing (as long as you follow the laws of the country of your residence and the countries you sell your products and service to). Some methods might work in certain circumstances, some not. And the circumstances change quickly. Depending on the environment, customers’ age, their interests, time of the year, weather, time of the day, and many more. So you can try the same methods in various conditions or you could try various methods in the same circumstances with the same public. But don’t take the results for absolute. Your judgment also depends on circumstances. And your mood.

Marketing is a game with infinite possibilities for the next move. And it has a great potential to be fun playing it. I realized this by following some of the successful independent authors. There is a growing tendency of them offering many free and paid training courses of how to market books in various genres. Yes, these activities do bring additional income, but I have a strong feeling that they don’t do it solely because of the income. Try joining some of the free Webinars by Joanna Penn and other writers, or read their books on business of writing. The main and glaring feature of all these, although it is often overlooked and I overlooked it for quite some time, is that they have enormous fun doing it (even if they claim that they fear it a lot. They might fear it, but my guess it that this fear only fuels their wish to succeed). Some of these successful (both in writing and marketing) authors even take time from their fiction writing in order to pursue these marketing strategies and to find out more.

As any fun game, marketing can become an addiction. But as I see it, as long as the customer interests are the centre of this game (and the customers want more and more good products and services satisfying their needs and wishes), then there are only winners at every stage of this game. And there is no end to it as long as you have a business.


This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels

Business rules type on legalizing the product/service and the business rules


If you offer something for sale, you always need to consider legal issues connected to it.

There are three types of these issues to consider in respect to your product/service.

    1. The ones connected with the information and regulations of its use needed for production/creation of the given product or service,
    2. those related to the certification of the product/service itself, when it is ready to be launched, and
    3. the information about the product displayed to the customer, which includes the price.

I would say that all products and services need to take into account all these three factors.

Let’s take a novel as an example. Even in the “fictionest” case of fiction, you would have certain standards to adhere to. Both in respect to the genre you write in (there is always a limit to the weirdness of the genre mixture that even the “craziest” of the readers would accept and be willing to pay for), and also to how you use the works of others in your fiction. Even the tiniest attempt of plagiarism cannot live and bring any profit for too long. In the growing transparency of our world all stealing attempts become more and more obvious.

If you want to follow a fair play, then there are rules to this game. For example, here is how The Chicago Manual of Style, the guide, which most respectable writers and editors follow and refer to, defines the “Fair Use” of the information created by someone else, as following: “Fair use is use that is fair — simply that.”

There are of course more details to the definition and more rules to follow.

Let’s consider the second aspect of legal matters listed above. When you publish a book, you claim copyright, have an ISBN number given to it, put the corresponding title and attributes, like publisher name and couple other.

Not all of the details attributed to your product or service will be visible to and needed for the customer to see. In case of a book, a customer can access such information as ISBN, or publisher name or other, but they rarely do consider it. The most important they look at are the book cover, the title, the author’s name, the book description, and among some additional other of course the price.

Even standards themselves follow the same scheme.

For example, my favourite technical standard to date, S1000D® (International specification for technical publications using a common source data base) lists to all the other standards and specifications it refers to in its definitions. Then there is a certain and official way how a new Issue of this specification is released. Each change goes through the review of national and international groups, panels and boards, then it is approved by the Steering Committee, the decisions of which often need the ratification by the Council.

The users of S1000D do not have to pay anything to get hold of a package with the specification text and all the data structures intended to facilitate its implementation. But they have to follow certain terms and conditions in order to be able to download one or another issue of the specification. They are obliged for example to agree to those terms and conditions by typing a generated code and clicking a confirmation button.

The same is true for many on-line services. And for many personal services with a storefront as well.

Many service providers will need to provide upon request the certificates confirming their professionalism. Lawyers, accountants, and translators are just some of the numerous obvious examples.

And as often in the articles describing business rules types in this blog, here is a surprise. Not only the products and services have legal issues to be clarified for them. The business rules describing them need to be legalized as well.

If you consider the contract you sign with your customers and partners as a part of your business rules documentation (which they are!) then this need becomes obvious. But even the parts meant for “mere” guidance of the personnel responsible for fabricating the whole or part of your product or carrying out the service, need to be reviewed and approved. Again, communication is vital here.

Business rules are a dynamic (not static!) set of documents. But you still need to release (or at least decide upon) them in first version and review and update them on regular basis.

Even for a self-publisher setting up the rules is very helpful. I didn’t record clearly all the parameters of formatting and publishing my first novel, so that I had to research some of them anew and re-read the books and articles in order to find the information needed. In some cases this didn’t cost too much time, in some this time could have been saved, have I recorded them somewhere. So for the second book I took more notes, although in some cases my mind did trick me into thinking, “Since it won’t take so much time until I publish my third book as it took me for the second, I will remember this and therefore I don’t need to record this.” I bet now that I will forget and research again. And maybe with the fifth or fifteenth book, I will have all my major and common business rules in place.

This is not so critical in case of a sole player in a small project and business. But as soon as you have partners, you need to share and agree upon certain rules. For example, if you are also a self-publishing author, then your cover designer must know what dimensions the cover will have, and also remember that the proportions for the e-book cover will differ from the proportions of the front cover of a paperback. Simple rescaling might not be enough, rearranging of images anew might be necessary to achieve a presentable result. You as the product/service originator and provider have the responsibility to take care of this.

You might not need a stamp from each of your partners on the rules, upon which you agree, but I join into the common advice and recommend keeping all the rules and the agreements upon them in written form. Even just an e-mail exchange with an OK as the final answer is better than no record at all. It is human to forget, so it is a part of being kind and taking care of all participating in shaping up your product/service (including yourself and the customers) to have all recorded comprehensively and correctly, as well as, as accessible for reference as possible.


This post is a part of “Business rules: General”, copyright © 2015-2016 by Victoria Ichizli-Bartels