Have you ever had to decline a customer request?
How do you respond when someone makes a request that is not normally something that you do? Do you instantly say no, not possible? Or do you take a moment to consider whether it is something that you would consider helping them with?
Rather than just saying no, consider saying that you will look into it for them and get back with a response at a later time. This has two benefits.
The first is that you show them respect for their request by not dismissing them instantly. This can have a far better lasting impression than a straight out no that leaves them unsure of where to go or what to do next.
Too many businesses refuse to stray from the straight and narrow and therefore miss opportunities that are lying right under their noses. They are too quick to say no, we don’t do that and leave the enquirer feeling dismissed with care and consideration.
Even if you decide that the request is not something that you can deal with, you can go back and let the person know that you have taken the time to consider it, but it is not something that you can personally help with.
It may, however, be the case that you can refer them on to someone else who can help. This provides value to the person and also to any businesses that receive a referral, all of whom may remember you for your help in the future and feel the need to repay the compliment. There may even be an opportunity for starting up collaborative working with another business that will pay future dividends to you both.
The second benefit is that by considering requests that are outside of your normal remit gives you an opportunity to consider whether it is something that you could actually incorporate as a product or service into your business. This could become another revenue stream that you had not previously thought of.
We get all too caught up with our day to day running of our businesses and can sometimes not see the wood for the trees. By listening to requests, and dealing with them in the appropriate manner, we can find opportunities that may have otherwise passed us by.
Next time you get a request for something that you don’t currently offer, rather than instantly decline a customer, stop and think for a moment as to how you can turn it into a future opportunity for your business whilst providing great customer service at the same time.
All too often I come across people who want everything for free or on the cheap. Whilst there is nothing wrong in trying to keep costs low and to get what you can, there is also a time when as a small business owner you need to make the decision to invest in your business.
If you are not prepared to do this what message does it send out about your business? Possibly it sends out the message that perhaps you don’t really believe that your business will work and you are just testing the waters but won’t stick around if everything doesn’t run smoothly and go according to plan.
The law of attraction
I firmly believe in the law of attraction. Therefore, if we are not prepared to invest in your business and pay for the products and services of others, then why should people pay us for ours? If we project out to the universe that we should get the services of others for free, then that is what we should expect back. Why should we expect our customers to pay us if we won’t become a customer of others?
You get what you pay for
Remember the saying ‘You get what you pay for’? This is true when running a small business. You will not get the best service or best results from always going for free. Think of a car. It may be cheaper to buy that old banger to get you by, but I bet it will cost you more in the long run when it constantly needs repairs or breaks down at a crucial moment on your journey. (been there, done that and got the tee shirt!)
If you firmly believe in your business and are determined and passionate about making it succeed, then there will be a time that you need to make an investment. Yes, this needs to be balanced against the means to pay and the timescale in which any payment needs to be made, but taking the cheap or free option will only slow your business success down.
Save time and money in the long run
You can continue to run a handwritten sheet of your income and expenditure but for a small monthly cost you could invest in your business and have a specialised accountancy software package that will save you hours of time and likely quite a bit of money from potential mistakes in the long run.
You can slog away for weeks or even months trying to self-teach yourself how to do effective marketing or you could pay someone to set up a marketing plan within a day or two and teach you how to manage it.
You can waste valuable hours and make many expensive mistakes trying to work everything out on your own or you could pay a business coach who has been there and done it to help you avoid those mistakes (blatant sales pitch coming up!) – like me
Think and act like a professional
If you truly want a successful business you need to start to think and act like a professional. Be prepared to invest in both yourself and your business in the way of having the right tools to do the job and getting the right support when you need it.
If you decide to carry on looking for free, then that is your choice but progress will inevitably be slower and lead to frustration and lack of motivation.
Sit back and really consider your frame of mind. Are you running a ‘let’s see if it works or not’ business that can take as long as you like to get off the ground or are you a serious business owner who wants to achieve their goals as swiftly as possible?
Maybe time to consider that investment!
I really cannot stress enough the importance of having the correct working environment and getting into the right frame of mind when you are working from home in order that you work at your best. By having a well laid out and organised workspace that feels comfortable and welcoming will help you be more focused, organised and productive. By thinking about what you wear and how you look can get you in the right mindset for creating your best work.
Even if space is of a premium in your home, really make the effort to create a harmonious working environment rather than grabbing a spare inch at the end of the dining table or working from your sofa without putting any thought into your surroundings.
Wherever you have your workspace, you need to keep it organised. Make sure you tidy your desk at the end of each day and block out an hour or two once each month to do a declutter. It is incredible how quickly unnecessary items find a way of taking up residence long term if allowed to. Don’t leave piles of paperwork in the corner of the room if you don’t have a designated working area. Get a storage box and put everything neatly back into it at the end of each day.
Ensure that your work area is a pleasure to look at and work at.
- Get a vase and keep it filled with freshly cut flowers.
- Light a softly scented candle whilst you work.
- Have your favourite motivational quote printed off and put in a small picture frame to sit where you can see it.
- Buy yourself a special mug or glass for your drink.
- Treat yourself to a beautiful desk lamp.
- Get a gorgeous cushion for your chair.
Even if you do have to work from your dining table you can still spend a few minutes each morning setting these things out to get you in the right frame of mind.
Don’t forget yourself and how you dress. It is all too easy to pop on those comfy tracksuit bottoms when working from home but dressing in the right manner can help get us in the right mindset for working effectively. Treat yourself to some clothes that are both comfortable but that look smart and you wouldn’t be embarrassed a client seeing you in. For the ultimate luxury get a pair of cashmere lounge pants. Pricey but worth it. Don’t scrimp on the make-up either. Look your best and you will feel your best and work at your best. Give yourself a spritz of your favourite perfume in the morning, don’t just save it for when you are leaving the house.
All of these are small things but can make a big difference in how you feel when you are working.
Try them out and see how you feel and then let me know in the comments box at the bottom of the page.
Tips for organising your home office
A few alternative home office ideas
Further to my previous blogs on constantly watching webinars and attending workshops, what do you do when you finally come across one and think that maybe you would actually like to sign up for an online coaching course?
The obvious answer is to go ahead and sign up, but this could turn out to be an expensive mistake! What if after all the hype they don’t live up to their promises? It really is a minefield out there to know who to trust and spend your hard earned money with (and I have had my fingers burnt in the past so I am talking from personal experience)
To help you decide what is best for you, here are my tops tips for choosing the best online coaching course for you.
How is the course delivered?
Is the course delivered just by pre-recorded video? Are you happy with this or do you prefer to learn by reading? If so, does the course also offer transcripts?
How often do you receive new material? Is it all sent out at once and you are left to work at your own pace or will you receive new content on a weekly basis? If weekly, does this fit with you or do you want to work at a faster pace?
Check any dial in call costs
If part of the programme is delivered by a dial-in call, check out what the call cost per minute is, particularly if you will need to make international calls. A 90-minute coaching session by phone with Q&A session afterwards can soon add up.
What level of personal support is offered?
This will likely depend on the cost of the course but if you feel you need someone to turn to if you stuck or have a specific question, is this on offer? If the facility to ask questions is just in a group, are you comfortable with this or is better to find an online coaching course where you can ask a direct question in confidence?
Is there a group element?
If yes, you may want to ask how big the group is. Sometimes a group can be so large that it is difficult to connect, especially, if you are on the shy side or it could be too small that there isn’t much interaction. Is there a limit to how many people can join the course so it will be small and intimate or is it an open-ended course where anyone can keep joining and members are left to support each other? If you are wanting support from a group, consider the size and if it’s right for you. Also, ask how active the group is and how often the moderator is present.
Send an email
Following on from the above, email the course provider a question relative to your business and see what response you get. If you get ignored, then expect the same level of service if you sign up. You are likely to be just a number and will get lost in the masses, or alternatively, once they have your money, they stop caring.
If you get a vague response that doesn’t clearly and simply answer your question, I would look elsewhere for support. It may that you are not a good fit for each other and they don’t understand or connect with you and your business, or it could well be that the front person hands over enquiries to a team who do not possess the knowledge your require.
If you get a response and a follow up with all your questions answered, this could well be the right online course for you. If someone takes the time to respond and gives you access to their direct email and phone number, you know they are taking you seriously and are likely to provide you with the support you need.
What time zone is the course provider in?
This may not matter if everything is pre-recorded and you contact them via email for support, but if the course offers live coaching calls which you want to be part of are you seriously going to sit up until 2am in the morning to listen in? And as the earlier point, what will the cost be if you need to contact the course provider by phone in another country?
Check out their testimonials
I don’t mean simply read the testimonials on their site, I mean check out who these people are and contact them to get their real feedback.
If you discover that there is no link back to a website or contact details for the person leaving the testimonial, be a little suspicious. If you do find a way to contact them and get no response, again be a little suspicious as to how much that person really rates the course or its provider.
If however, you contact someone who has left a testimonial and they are full of enthusiasm and give great feedback, you could well be on to a winner.
Ask in forums
If you are in a group on social media such as Facebook or LinkedIn or in an industry forum, ask the question if anyone has had personal experience from joining this course and what their thoughts are. You can gain some really valuable insight here and may just be pointed towards something that is a better fit for your needs (as happened to me).
Check for a money back guarantee
Any online course provider worth their salt should be happy to provide you with a money back guarantee if you find the course isn’t for you. This doesn’t mean that if you sign up and then just take notes and don’t implement any of the work you should expect to get repaid, but if promises aren’t kept and you have put in all the work as instructed with no results, you should be entitled to that refund.
So there you have it. A few tips for choosing an online coaching course that is right for you.
If you would like to know more about my own online coaching course for small business owners, get in touch now by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
And if you know of a particular online course that you would happily recommend to others, leave a comment in the box at the bottom of the page or post on the Facebook page