All small businesses involve a certain amount of crisis planning and management. The ability to make decisions that will affect your business in a positive way means that you can deal with unplanned events, from small problems to outright catastrophes.
Preventing problems relies on your being able to recognize a negative decision when you make one. Adding up the pros and cons of decisions you make can help with your perception of where you went wrong when you decided to do one thing rather than the other.
Most negative decisions come from not realizing underlying problems and issues that should have been considered. Most of the time, small business owners become excited over an idea and rush into opportunities without fully exploring the downside of their decision. An example of this would be expanding your business into a geographical market that already has what you have to offer and at a competitive or lower price.
Any major decisions within your business will be time consuming, so look closely at your objectives and realize you may have to give up something to get what you really want. Always have an alternative plan in place so you have something to fall back on if what you considered a positive decision turns into a negative one. Going back on a decision you made because it isn’t working out is difficult because it gives you a sense of failure, even if you haven’t failed. However, it does give you a lesson in decision making.
How do you ensure that the majority of your decisions are positive instead of negative? Start with information gathering and learn to dig through your information to find the parts that pertain especially to you and your business. The more experience you have with this, the easier it will be. Some people have a natural born ability to make decisions while others tend to respond emotionally rather than rationally. If that sounds like you, realize that the emotional factors come into play because you are so attached to your business personally. Putting things in perspective will mean looking at it from an outsiders view.
Dealing with major changes in your business and responding accordingly is a learned habit and as you gain more experience and your business grows, the positive decisions will far outweigh the negative ones.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014
image courtesy of emcguirldesigns
When you start to feel like the sharks are circling, regrets are piling up and being a victim is getting tiring, that’s when you realize that when it comes to your business, the opinion of others around you isn’t what counts.
Though it may look that way, other business owners aren’t really worrying about you, unless your business is the one that they are trying to outsell. Scarcity of sales, leading to low financial gains can have you realizing that paying more attention to other’s wishes instead of your own are what led to this situation.
Insecurity can cause a lot of business owners to second guess their own desires and what’s best for their business. If you find yourself anxious over what someone else may think of steps that you are taking to improve your business, then you are taking a back seat to what others think you are capable of. It’s fine for you to listen to opinions of the moves you are making but don’t let those opinions sway major decisions that can affect your business negatively. Acknowledge your own feelings in your business, thanks others for their opinions and stay on your own path. Decision making is part of the business process so don’t limit yourself to only the suggestions that are given to you. Have faith that your ideas are relevant and can solve customer problems.
One of your biggest regrets could be having others make decisions for you, rather than making mistakes (or great choices!) on your own. Creativity within your own business shows that you have the potential to make your business a great one and the stronger you are, the less you will be apt to rely on what someone else has to say about the choices you are making. We all like to be liked and have our decisions affirmed but step outside of the crowd and realize that originality is very important in business. It’s what counts with your customers and makes you unique and your products and services more sought after.
Realizing your value to your customers means taking responsibility for your business choices and offering them the best. What is of value to them is also of value to you as a business owner. We can sabotage ourselves when we over think our business decisions instead of going with what comes natural to us, not what everyone else thinks should be natural.
You won’t be able to please everyone with your business decisions, so please your customers and yourself first. Your approval should come from within, not from outside sources and opinions. Be who you want to be within your business and make your business stand out by putting your stamp on it. Taking control of your own feelings regarding your business will be a big step in learning that your opinions come first.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014
When first starting a business, most entrepreneurs take on all the clients that they can but once their business is grown, they need to learn that not everyone is the best match for them to work with. They need to spend more time attracting clients that have the same mind set and this in turn creates great work.
But how do you do this? Start with your website and advertising materials. Everything on them should reflect your personality and way of working, your beliefs and how they can work best for potential clients. This will avoid attracting less than ideal clients that can cause problems for you and are never happy.
Your ideal clients should be those who are focused on the same outcome as you are and the steps taken to get there. They are seeking great value with a fantastic outcome and realize that is what your business provides. They have a healthy respect for both your time and efforts and are results oriented.
You need to know who would work perfectly with you and which qualities you are looking for. Looking at your competition and what they offer is vital to this process as you could be vying with many others for the same type of client and pricing will make a difference.
Look closely at your business and that will help you figure out which clients you would like to work with. If you were them, what would you be looking for? Establish a reputation for that type of business client in order to draw more clientele that is compatible with you and the way you work, what you offer and how you offer it.
First point of emphasis is that you are comfortable with those clients you choose. If it doesn’t feel right, then move on and look for others. The longer you are in business, the easier it will be for you to recognize those who will work best with you and that you will be happy working with.
Realizing that not everyone will be a good match for your business and continuing to look for a great fit in a client will help your business grow larger, not only because of results but because of word of mouth.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014
image courtesy of actuallywecreate
Though we are more relaxed as a society in general and don’t tend to follow the strict manners and protocol of previous generations, etiquette is extremely important to your small business. Your customers notice it and talk about it with others. It can often make the difference between a good business and a great business.
Many small business owners make the mistake of not adhering to certain rules, which even in our technological era, are still expected. If they have employees, the employees are not trained to deal with customers over the phone properly and know even less about how to deal with clients in person.
When greeting customers, it is expected that you will shake hands and listen when you are introduced. Remembering your customer’s names and greeting them by name shows you care about them and their business. If they have called you and left a message, always reply as quickly as you can and the same goes for business email.
One of the most noticeable and unprofessional examples of bad manners, is to use the expressions “no problem”. It’s “you’re welcome”, “please” and “thank you” that are necessities. When you are running a business, service is expected as it is your job. Be careful of your language. Leave out the overdone slang and of course, leave the swearing elsewhere. Your customers are paying attention and expect you to act like a business professional.
Another example of unprofessional behaviour is to accept cellphone calls or texts while in conversation or meetings with others. Turn the phone off unless the call is so important that you can’t risk missing it, in which case it’s best dealt with before important meetings.
When dealing with international customers and those of different cultures, make sure you are aware of their customs. It is easy to insult a customer when their business behaviour is much different than that of the country you live in. Be aware and be considerate.
Be honest and don’t cheat. This involves all members of the business community, social media and your customers. People like to deal with businesses that are direct and honest in their dealings. Any dishonesty in your company will quickly be picked up on and you will lose customers.
Lastly, treat others as you would like to be treated. Customers want to deal with you as a person and not just a business entity. Building a rapport with them and learning about them while following proper business etiquette can mean a lot for your business.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014
image courtesy of hdl-uk.co.uk
As an entrepreneur, you are used to stress and the areas of your business that make you unsure of your future. When that stress starts to get out of control, it affects not only your business but your physical and emotional health. Unnecessary worries don’t need to be added to your day to day concerns. Learning to deal successfully with stress caused by being a small business owner and not dwelling on perfection takes strategies that you need to incorporate into your everyday life.
As a small business owner, you know which fears are normal and which are not. Anxiety over problems which may never arise can be dealt with in the same way as other worries in your life. Exercise has always been promoted as a great stress reliever. It doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time and you don’t need to go to a gym. Just getting out and walking every day can help.
While you are busy focusing on your concerns over your business, you aren’t thinking about other things or other people. A great way to fight this is to look outside of yourself. Try to concentrate on what is going on around you; other people, your pets, nature – anything other than what is going on inside your head. Irrationally focusing on what is going on with your business – and this includes the good things too, may be difficult but you need to keep your perspective on your problems.
Successfully combating business related stress means you have to look at the whole picture, not just the parts that aren’t working at the moment. It helps you to remember that some stress is actually good for you. It’s impossible to live a totally stress free life and just knowing that is a help to some business owners. Try to turn your negative thoughts around and look at them in a different way. Focus on what is working in your business and find a way to relate those processes to where you are having problems.
Realizing that entrepreneurship and unpredictability go hand in hand and that you have chosen this way of life will help you to feel less like a victim and more like you are the one in charge. It’s the loss of control that most of us fear and that causes the most stress. Accept responsibility for where you are in your business and find the tools that will help you to overcome stress related problems. Find the routines that work best for you and look at how much progress you have made so far.
Accepting the uncertainties of being a small business owner and realizing that stress will always be with you is one of the most important things entrepreneurs will ever learn. Dealing with it in a healthy way while remaining optimistic is a lesson that all of us need to learn.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014
image courtesy of the guardian
September is a time for reflection and re-birth.
It’s a time to take a deeper look at your business, partnerships, clients, revenues and operations…
If you’re happy about where you are currently, apply your successes to achieve even more!
If you are not satisfied about where your business stands currently, evaluate what’s holding you back and requires improvement.
How will you make the last few months of 2014 count to improving overall results and expectations for the year?
If you need support in reaching your goals or further defining your vision – it is never too late to strategize and visualize, I’m always available to discuss how the DemGen team can support you!