I’ve been thinking a lot in the past year of how much more confident I was when I was younger. By younger, I don’t mean a child, I’m talking about just a decade ago. Trying new things, stepping outside of my comfort zone, public performances – they were all part of my life. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as a comfort zone!
Sometimes I believe it’s media that causes us to have more stress and anxiety. When you are constantly bombarded with the same messages on television, the internet, everywhere you are, it’s bound to affect you eventually. Most of the messages we are getting seem to revolve around our health; whether it be what we’re eating (or not eating), our alcohol intake, exercising, whether or not we smoke. I remember a time when all of the above weren’t things we were much concerned about and we were happier and healthier!
You’re probably wondering what this has to do with your business. Self confidence is very closely related to what many call charisma, that certain compelling attractiveness and sense of power that draws people to those who exude it. It can inspire loyalty in your customers, transfer itself to your products and services to have them appear as more appealing and of higher quality while also helping you to succeed.
Your self-esteem is based upon how much confidence you have. When you come across as calm in all situations it shows your ability to handle the most difficult of tasks and this, in turn, inspires confidence in others. It’s a win-win situation. New areas of business become challenges that you enjoy, self-doubt disappears and you no longer compare yourself to others or care too much about what they think.
Modern advertising would have us think the opposite. That everything we do in both our business and personal lives has to fall in line with a certain standard, and that standard has to be the same as those of everyone else. Standing out is not an option. All businesses must cater to the same clientele within the same demographics. Our businesses must toe the line politically, socially and in every other way that might mean someone would speak up about it and say it doesn’t fit in with how they feel a business should be run.
Never forget, that your business is just that – your business. In order to be maintained efficiently and to grow successfully, the owner of a business has to believe that what they selling meshes with their lifestyle. When you’re pushed and pulled in so many different directions because of what you’re told in the media and through other advertising, you become self-critical. You lose your ability to make a decision and act on it.
Forget about comfort zones, the constant bombardments of what others think is wrong with you, what is good for you, what is not good for you. Make those decisions for yourself. You know what causes stress in your life. You know when you’re out of shape and what needs to be done about it. Quit letting others tell you what is right and wrong with your business and your decisions. Decide for yourself and watch your confidence grow.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of kzntopbusiness
Our small businesses are important to us and one of the greatest signs of success is expansion and quick expansion if possible. Is it possible that many of us are expanding too quickly, taking on too many responsibilities and financial obligations?
The ability to focus on what are the most important aspects of our business lets us concentrate on the essentials and still have time to ourselves while watching our business grow in a more managed way. Simplification is becoming more popular as we finally realize that bigger is not better, more is not the way to go.
Be realistic. Take into consideration the economic outlook, particularly in your niche. Learn to plan for further downturns while still being optimistic. Consider where your business is at presently, who purchases from you and also, at what point you would like your business to be part-time because as you get older a full time business will no longer be something that should be a priority.
Make plans. Looking at when you would like to start downsizing, if not immediately, pinpoint which areas of your business are the most costly. These are the areas you need to start reducing if possible. If this isn’t possible, why not? Are there some functions of your business that are spread out among various employees, if you have them? Could these be consolidated into one job? Would it be more financially viable to outsource these tasks?
Change your policies. If, until now, you have made it a habit to deal with certain suppliers, hold onto certain employees or any other long term habits, change them. Once you’ve identified where your business needs to go, implementing change is going to be difficult, especially if it affects others, but necessary to your financial future.
Downsizing any business takes preparation. Always take into account any promises made for future projects, how your reduction of services and products will affect your most loyal customers and keep in mind that you can always specialize in your most popular items. Having more doesn’t necessarily equate into dollars, it’s how satisfied you are with the life you have created.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of linkedin
There are some businesses that once you walk in the building or speak with one of the employees or the owner, there is an immediate feeling of comfort, ease and luxury. It’s as if every possible attention to detail has been covered and once you leave, you know that you will return. What is it that makes these businesses stand out from the others?
Impeccable manners. The ability to build relationships, small and large, important and unimportant, has been put at the top of this businesses must do list. They treat everyone with the same degree of politeness, no matter who they are. The owner, the employees, everyone associated with the business has been brought up and had it bred into them, that under all circumstances, you must be polite.
Humbleness. Nothing is worse than dealing with someone who thinks so highly of themselves that they have no time to think of you. The belief that the customer is always right may not necessarily be right, but you wouldn’t know it by speaking with anyone at this business. They are always ready to hear what you have to say, correct any mistakes and take responsibility.
Customer service with a smile. So few people who deal with the public have the true ability to actually look at the people they are dealing with and even less have a sense of humor. That business that you envy makes sure to only have people around with the right attitude. It makes their customers comfortable and also makes it a fun place to work.
Sharing resources. Smart business owners know that to stand out above other companies like theirs, they need to be the “go to” business for their products. They aren’t afraid to share information with their customers or other businesses and this makes them trustworthy. Providing services that educate your customers and a website where they can ask questions or give opinions and suggestions helps your business to be seen as one that is smart and knowledgeable.
Filling a niche. While many businesses offer the same thing, it’s the smart business owner who looks around and finds out what is missing in their market. They ask their customers questions and their answers and feedback help with innovation within the business. Who can your business help that up until now has been ignored or not thought of? What niche can you fill by innovation of your products? The opportunities are there.
Next time you deal with a business online or walk in a store, take the time to really notice how you feel when dealing with the companies you purchase from. Make it a habit to reward the outstanding ones by giving them your loyalty.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of bekahbrunstetter
All businesses come with a set of built in or implied promises. Fair treatment of all customers, availability of advertised products and services and honest advertising are the three most important and are expected by your customers and by other business owners. Any commitments you make as a business owner, either to your clients or those you work with in your business field are promises that should be kept at all costs. These are also called brand promises.
But what of the promises that are broken? Do they undermine the believability of your business and cause your customers to lose trust in you? A good example of a broken promise is when a company strays from its original strategy and confuses its customers. This causes anger toward the business and also leads to lack of trust. The customers you lose because of this may never return.
Products that don’t match your brand or are aimed at a different market or age group, services that don’t offer what your customers need and seem to be very expensive for what the customer will receive, anything that causes your customers to lose trust will be seen as a broken promise by them.
To ensure your company keeps its promises, first, track your commitments and make sure they are worthwhile and as few as possible. Promises to others that take up little of your time and cost you the least are of the greatest value to your business. Ask for promises in return. Asking for something while giving something is a time honoured way of creating trust between two businesses.
Update your promises. A business promise made when first starting your business may hold no value for you or others years later. Products and services have changed, innovation has led to newer and more valuable ways to interact with your customers and improve your offers.
Your promises to your customers are the most important commitments you will ever make. Your customers are your bread and butter, your future and what keeps your business alive. Though some promises are inherent and expected of business owners, others, such as total reliability make your business stand out from others and help your customers to become loyal to you. Your loyalty and promises to your customers give them confidence in your ability to serve their needs.
Last and definitely not least are the promises you make to yourself. Holding yourself responsible for your business decisions, appreciating what your business does for you, dedicating yourself to providing excellent service, these are all promises that are not made to be broken. Your image of yourself depends on them and they must be acted upon.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2015
image courtesy of jimbastion
At some point, as your business continues to grow, all business owners need to rethink their priorities. Will they continue to put in the amount of hours needed to assure that their business grows even more successful or are they content with what they have now?
In North America, the mindset is that bigger is better, more and more means success and happiness but the truth is, bigger and better and more equals more work and less time for yourself and what you really want to do.
While your personality may be the driven type, which is typical of a workaholic, others are looking for a way of life that will support what they want to do and they aren’t living for the sake of working. It isn’t that they are lazy and lack ambition. They have opted out of the stress filled days and decided that they only need a certain amount of income that will provide them with the necessities and a little extra. They would rather their lives were centred on enjoyment than a career. They know that their work is simply a means to living and each dollar that they make provides a certain amount of freedom.
Your expectations of your life and where you’d like your career to lead will help you to determine whether you are working to live, or living to work. At different times in your life, your circumstances may also dictate how much time you are spending on work. Having children, owning a home, debt; these can all lead to working extended hours but as you grow a bit older, the children are gone or you aren’t interested in home ownership, the amount of hours you work can be fine tuned until you know just how much you need in order to enjoy more time for yourself and still have enough.
It is up to you to decide just what you want to do with your life and where you’d like to centre your attention. Does your life revolve around work or leisure, family, friends and your own personal pursuits? Do you find happiness through your business or does your satisfaction come from what you perceive as a life well lived, one that encompasses not only business or a job, but also lots of time to spend on hobbies, reading, gardening or other interests?
While this compares to life balance, the difference is that your life may be heavily balanced in one direction or another and for different people, with different priorities, this can work out either way. Deciding what you want your life to revolve around is up to you, your personal set of circumstances and your needs and desires.
Whichever way makes your life better and results in your contentment is the style that work for you. Make sure that you have time to enjoy what you have and leave time to create a life, not just the pursuit of making enough money to purchase more things to add to your life.
© Chris Draper, DemGen Inc. 2014
image courtesy of pinterest