Tuesday, December 21, 2010

What to do during the holiday distraction?

Have you noticed how trying to conduct business now is almost impossible?  I had a meeting today and the person didn't show up.  Not because they were being rude but because they were focused on the North Pole ... Christmas, shopping, making sure everything was perfect for their family.  Ugh...

Keep up the fight!  Although some of you may be distracted by the same theme, don't forget to use this 'in between' time to catch up on your list of follow-up items, letters that need to be written and your game plan for 2011 and how you're going to get the business, grow your business and make sure you are clear and concise in how you sell your product or service.

It's a time for you to build momentum by knowing that you are poised and ready to go for the new year.  Remember, next week won't be any better because people have New Years on their minds and the potential parties they may attend.  It's just two weeks of no serious business that provides all of us self-employed, business builders with free time to re-group, revise and put together new strategies.

Use this time wisely and productively and don't forget to assess how your efforts turned into business.  That's an important part of being a good business owner.  You always evaluate, get feedback and make the necessary changes as you move forward.

Happy Holidays to All !!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Customer Satisfaction...or not

Something we all want is customer satisfaction.  Customers are the reason we are in business.  Whether you are a consultant or a retail business or an artist or writer...you are doing what you do (because you love it..hopefully) and ultimately you are hoping someone else will too so it is important that you place "value" on your customer to be sure your attitude matches.

It has always been interesting to watch clients manage their customers.  Some work very hard to provide high quality products and services and get very few complaints.  They are enthusiastic about their business and value their customers.  In fact they proactively seek out feedback so they can continue to provide top service or products.  However, there is a fraction of businesses that perhaps have gotten tired or are struggling and their anxieties & fears come through when their customers complain.  I have witnessed business owners getting very angry and critical of customers who dared to complain or voice dissatisfaction.  They respond in a combative manner and suggest to the other employees that the customer is the "real problem" - this is never a good sign on many levels.  Note to reader:  if you find yourself feeling this way about your customers...it's a good time to step back and consider talking with someone about these feelings.  It means that there's something else going on that needs to be addressed.

Some customers or clients are absolutely demanding and hardly enjoyable to deal with but there are ways to manage these people and create a win-win result.  In some cases it may be time to fire a customer because no matter how hard you try they are not going to be satisfied.  The key is to know when you've reached this point.

Here is an article that will hopefully be helpful to you with customers issues Handling Customer Complaints.  It's always good to consider the many options available and to check your own attitude regarding these ideas.  Remember, getting a good result has as much to do with your personal feelings and attitudes as it does with the person in front of you complaining.  Remember, it is a good thing that they came to you because they are giving you the opportunity to fix the problem.  Unfortunately for every one that comes to you there are probably some that don't but if you  'listen & learn' from these folks, you are minimizing further issues going forward.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

No one cares as much as you do -

If you've been working hard, trying to make contacts, networking like there is no tomorrow and expect that others are going to care as much as you do about building your success, stop now...NO ONE cares as much as you and probably no one is thinking about you or your business like you are.

I've joined a networking group and have met some great people who have very successful businesses.  They're established and doing well, even in these economic times.  One in particular has more business than expected in a time that is usually quiet.  She is a wonderful individual who has built a very successful business.  But she cares the most about it's success.  Another man has the same thing going for himself.  He's a wonderful person who has worked hard to build a successful business.  Like the other, he values his customers and employees and both know it but no one cares as much as he does about the success of his business.

Networking is an art and process that almost takes on a life of it's own.  In some respects it's another 'job' that people do in order to get customers.  It's really about building relationships that may, over time, MAY result in a business connection but it's not necessarily the way you're going to build you business base.  

In my recent experience I've not gotten any referrals but I've met many wonderful and qualified professionals.  This is always a good thing but on a few things that I've asked for help on, the responses didn't come.  How many times do you follow up and remind people before it becomes a futile attempt?   This is what I mean about 'No one cares as much as you do.'

People are well intentioned but busy.  Everyone is trying to focus their energy on keeping the business they have and building from that so they are not thinking outside their box - they are focused in their box so they can sustain themselves through these rough times.  However I do get disappointed and you will too but you can't let these experiences shade or taint your own optimism about what it is you want to accomplish.  In fact, I'm believing that it may be a sign that the 'fit' just isn't right for getting the business that I want.

Those of us in service businesses are competing against equally qualified people who (also like us) are trying to make ends meet.  It is your job to distinguish yourself from the others and set out to sell that which is unique about you to your potential clients.  For me, although I do bookkeeping, it actually is a small part of the overall services I provide for my clients and that part is what I need to get better at when I'm talking about what I do.  

Remember that no one cares as much as you do about your success ... so, start each day with that idea and work towards developing the personal strength to make your business happen!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Just where have I been?

I would like to say that I've been away on a European vacation but that is definitely not so.  I've had some personal matters to attend to that took all of my focus.  Funny how things that involve our deep emotions are so labor intensive.  I just couldn't focus on anything and realized, anything I wrote would have the wrong under tone attached to it.  I so appreciate all of you readers who hopefully find value in what I write, so thank you for your patience and know that I have returned.

I'm busy reading the NYTimes and INC Magazine to see what gems of info I can pass on to you.  It's Sunday - have a good one and I will be writing more shortly.