Are your customers getting on your nerves?

Are your customers getting on your nerves?

How dare a customer actually try to buy from you!!

Recently in an online group, a lady was complaining that she had contacted a number of small businesses and yet they hadn’t responded.  I can totally sympathise with this lady as I regularly get the same treatment.

Whilst a few agreed with her, there were far more comments from those that owned small businesses and went on the attack.

Comments included:

“When I’m contacted people don’t bear in mind I work over 40 hours, I can’t be on my phone all the time”

I have a family, and a home to look after, and they come first!

I don’t always have the information to hand, like when I’m on the school run or swimming lessons and usually I’m too busy getting tea ready to respond to messages when I get home.”

“I’m behind on our emails but that’s because I’m so busy”

“I’ve got too much work to do to reply straight away, … oh and I also have a life! I can’t stand the beck and call attitude of some customers.”

“I haven’t had a day off in weeks”

Wow!!!!  Really??

Do you feel like this?

Yes, we can all get frustrated by our clients at times but women with the attitude of these don’t deserve a business in my opinion.

After all, there are plenty of people out there desperate to have more customers contact them.  These women are obviously irritated.  How dare someone interrupt their life to try and place an order.

Running a home and a business whilst raising a family is difficult, but customers aren’t telepathic.  They don’t know how busy you are and to be honest, why should they care.  They have their money in their hand and they want to buy something.

If you’re too busy, they will just move on somewhere else, or perhaps not.

Perhaps if the customer was treated with a little common courtesy they may wait until you are less busy.  A simple holding email letting them know when you will be able to respond firstly acknowledges their enquiry, and secondly sets their expectations for when they will be responded to in full.

If you are running around like a headless chicken with a ‘woe is me’ attitude, sort yourself out.  Take a look at your business from a customer’s point of view.  Get in the right mindset of a successful business owner and change your attitude.  Streamline your business.  Cut the crap and work on effective systems.  Set expectations with customers through your website and autoresponders in busy periods.

Remember, the customer is in control of your business success, not you.  He can fire you by simply taking his business elsewhere.

I can hear the keyboards tapping away already, so go on, use the comments box and let me know your thoughts.

 

 

Do you seek to understand, or to be understood?

Do you seek to understand, or to be understood?

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

This is a quote in Stephen Covey’s book The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People that I’m currently reading.

When I read this, a memory immediately came to mind that happened about 20 years ago.  It was when I was in a meeting which was getting rather heated.  I was one of the vocal ones (surprise surprise!) and when one of the other people in the room was in the middle of arguing with me, I was eagerly leaning forward attempting to jump in with my response.

Suddenly, the chair of the group stopped us.  She turned to us both and said “I want you to both stop and listen to each other rather than waiting for your turn to reply.  And I mean really listen!”

This stopped us both in our tracks.  Well, it certainly stopped me.  I realised instantly that I hadn’t really listened to anything the other person was saying as I was so intent in listening for a gap in the conversation to jump into and take over.

I have never forgotten this moment and when I have a strong opinion on something and want to get my point across, I now have a totally different stance.  I now sit back.  And listen.

Why?

Because I may just hear a different perspective that I hadn’t considered before, and this may just change my viewpoint.  And if not, I can honestly and calmly say when I get the chance that I have listened carefully to all views put forward and would now like to put forward my own.  This commands much more respect than being the one who shouts the loudest.

If you really want to get your point across, take a tip from Stephen Covey.  Seek first to understand and then to be understood.  It makes a huge difference, I promise you.

If you want to read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People you can buy it here on Amazon.

 

How to stay motivated when you’re feeling stuck

How to stay motivated when you’re feeling stuck

How to stay motivated when you’re stuck in the day to day operations of your business.

You’re running your business, but you want to move it forward with your next big idea.  You have a lightbulb moment and know exactly what you want to do and how to do it.

But …..

You are so busy working in your business as it is there is no time to do anything different.  You end up feeling completely stuck which leads to feeling totally demotivated and losing the love.

Don’t despair.  There is a way.  But only if you want it badly enough.

Change your words.

When we find ourselves in a situation like this it’s all too easy to sit down and say “I can’t” and “I don’t have enough time”.  This negative chatter eats away at us and gets us starting to believe it.

Change “I can’t” to “How can I?”

Change “I don’t have enough time” to “How can I free up more time?”

These simple changes put us back in a feeling of control and create a positive mindset which will help get us motivated to find a way forward.

Create a plan

Make sure you sit down and write out exactly what your new idea is and when you want it by.  Create a plan and a timeline.  Start with the end in mind and jot down what you need to do by when.  If you want to take a course which will give you new skills in your business, when is the exam date?  How many modules in the course?  How much time will each module take?  Map it all out.

Breaking it down into small chunks will allow you to see realistically how much time you are going to have to put into your new idea each month or week.  It’s then up to you to find out how to free up this time to put ideas into action.

Manage your time

  • Get out of bed one hour earlier each day to spend on your new idea
  • Cut back on social media time which can literally waste hours each day
  • Forfeit mind-numbingly mundane tv that you have gotten into the habit of watching
  • Take an objective at your business. Are you working effectively or could something be streamlined?  Are you doing something out of habit which really won’t have much impact if you stop doing it altogether?
  • Do you spend hours cooking in the evenings? Find some quick and easy recipes that take just 30 minutes to prepare and cook.  Get the family to do the clearing up after the meal.

If you want your new idea badly enough you will find a way.  If you don’t, you will find an excuse.  The choice is yours.

 

 

Who is to blame if your business fails?

Who is to blame if your business fails?

12 months ago, my daughter got engaged and this past weekend, she finally tied the knot with the man of her dreams.

When they got engaged, I had a vision of how the day would go and the décor that would suit her relaxed style.  I knew it wouldn’t be easy to pull off so I spent a lot of time researching and planning to see if I could get together everything I needed.

It was stressful at times, there were tears, but I persevered and cannot tell you how happy I was the day was simply beautiful.  From the trees I hired in and had lit up, to the festival style food and the exquisite decorations, everything was perfect.

Dream Wedding

But why am I telling you this?

Fail to plan, plan to fail.

Because the same principle applies to building a successful business.

  • Research and planning are critical.
  • Having a timeline in place and constantly working towards that is what turns dreams into reality.
  • Not giving up when the going gets tough or when someone tells you what you want isn’t possible.

Only this week, yet another new business in the town where I live closed its doors after just a few short months.  Everyone blames the locals for not supporting it but I have to disagree.

I put it down to bad planning.  When building a business, you cannot expect to open your doors and have a flood of people come running through to spend their money with you.

  • You have to plan for the long term.
  • You have to work out your finances to see you through the early days.
  • You need to build trust and rapport with your ideal clients which is going to take time.

Blaming others for the failure of your business is burying your head in the sand.  If your business fails, I’m sorry, but it’s down to you!  Harsh but fair!  Yes, external factors come into play, but I have yet to see a business fail where the owner has planned, researched and stuck with it through thick and thin.

I know my thoughts may jar with some and await the replies with reasons beyond control why businesses failed. And I’m looking forward to them. Tell me if you agree or disagree in the comments box below.

Why Terms And Conditions Are Important For Your Business

Why Terms And Conditions Are Important For Your Business

Do you have terms and conditions for your business?

If not, go sort them out now!

Not only will this help protect you in the future in case of any dispute but they make you look more professional and can help you gain business.  Your clients need to know exactly what they are getting and feel protected from their end also.

Today, I was in the process of booking a photo shoot with a photographer who asked for a deposit up front.  I was more than happy to pay this but requested T’s and C’s with contract first.  And then came the silence …….

They didn’t have any!  This made me feel very aware that I was handing over my money with no protection on my side.  What if I needed to change the date or cancel?  How long would it take to get the photos after the shoot?  What if the photos weren’t good enough?

Hasten to say, I didn’t pay the deposit and cancelled the shoot.

As a bare minimum, your terms and conditions should include:

  • The scope of the work with a clear definition of what products and services will be provided.
  • Timelines for the work to be completed,
  • What it is going to cost and your payment terms
  • What happens if either party is unhappy and/or wishes to cancel.

Without clear terms and conditions, confusion can occur with the client thinking they may be able to pay at the end of a service but you need payment up front.  Or it may be that they think the service will be delivered to a different timescale than you can work to.

Have you ever encountered any problems with clients in the past?  What was that problem?  Think how to incorporate terms and conditions that will stop this scenario happening in the future such as a client having to supply you with information required within a given period (this is a huge problem for web designers where they are sat waiting for info before they can complete the project and get paid!).

There are plenty of templates online to use such as at SQL Legal but do make sure that you read them carefully to ensure they cover all you need for your specific business.

 

How to get your business back on track

How to get your business back on track

What to do when you wake up and realise you are going in the wrong direction and need to get your business back on track

Yesterday during another fabulous business group get together, more than one lady in the group had the same feelings.  They were feeling uneasy because their businesses weren’t fulfilling them as much as they had expected.

They weren’t full of excitement when they thought of doing what they are doing now in 10 years time.

They had come to the realisation that rather than following their absolute true passion, they had taken the easy option of doing something they were good at and brought the money in quickly.

Whilst this could be viewed a sensible option to start with, it’s just not sustainable.

Two particular ladies were going through difficult times and had lost all excitement and enthusiasm for their business.  They just felt as though they had fallen off track.

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.” Charles Darwin

What you need to learn in building a successful business, is to be adaptable.

You need to be prepared to amend your success plan and goals subject to mitigating circumstances.  We never know what is around the corner and how our plans may have to change.  If you aren’t where you want to be, you need to find a way to get your business back on track.

It is rare for a business to end up as it was first planned.  A fact that I heard personally from an ex-Dragon of Dragon’s Den fame is that nearly every business that starts out does not end up as initially thought.

And when I did a survey a few years back, this was the case in 100% of people that I spoke to.  You may find that you enjoy one particular part of your business more than another and so start to work in a specific niche area.

This is exactly what has happened to me.  I set up my business consultancy to support local independent businesses face to face in the North Devon area.

Slowly it transpired that I was working with a lot of women who found they were struggling in business due to external influences such as confidence, family commitments etc.  So, I adapted my business to just work with women and to incorporate lifestyle coaching.  I then started to get enquiries from outside of the North Devon area so set up online support and workshops for those who couldn’t get to me in person.  Hence, The Small Business Kit was born.

Luckily, the ladies yesterday had the support of the group and both left feeling motivated and inspired to move forward with some changes to their existing businesses.

If you aren’t feeling the love for your business anymore, dig deep to find out what your passion truly is and look for what changes you can make to keep your passion, and business, alive long term.