Mistakes Are Opportunities for Improvements

Mistakes Are Opportunities for Improvements

As the speed of change continues to increase, it gets more and more challenging for us as small business owners to keep up with new ideas and innovations related to our work, let alone implement and master all these new things. We already have so much on our minds that striving to keep up-to-date and adopt new trends is bound to feel overwhelming. 

While it’s important to be aware of new ideas and embrace new ways of doing things, you don’t have to master everything. “Don’t let perfectionism be the enemy of good,” advised the French philosopher Voltaire. I take his advice even further: if you’re not making mistakes, you’re not learning anything new. If everything is always perfect, you’re probably doing the same things over and over again.

There are many things going on in the world that are new to me or that I find confusing, but I’m committed to learning. I give myself permission to make mistakes, because I know I’ll follow up my mistakes with learning how to improve.

How perfectionism inhibits growth

You may not think of yourself as a perfectionist, but it’s a tendency that sneaks up on us and influences decisions. Here are some ways perfectionism can inhibit growth: 

  • Discourages creativity, experimentation, and originality
  • Fosters procrastination
  • Reinforces rigidity
  • Eliminates excitement of discovery
  • Establishes unattainable goals

Being willing to make mistakes in the service of innovation can require patience and a thick skin. You may get frustrated with yourself or even criticized by others new things don’t work as planned. Actively adopting a more flexible and open mindset, and practicing empathy towards yourself and others, will help to create a work environment where things may not always be perfect, but they’re always getting better.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

How to Keep Your Business Top of Mind

How to Keep Your Business Top of Mind

No matter what kind of business you own, it’s important to have a strategy to keep your company top of mind. Even when your customers are not actively engaged with your business, you want to ensure they always think of you as their first choice. You can achieve this through regular interactions with them, reminding them of the unique value of your products or services, and offering them something special that your competitors aren’t providing.
The key to ongoing relationships is to figure out how you can be of value to your customers. Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • What do my customers need?
  • What do my customers care about?
  • How can we help them meet that need more efficiently?
  • Why reasons do I give customers to prefer my business over others?

Here are some ideas for keeping your business top of mind after the sale.

Send a personalized message

A handwritten thank-you note that acknowledges how much you appreciate their business provides them with your contact information to help them stay in touch with you.

Follow-up calls

Checking in to see that your customers are happy with their purchase provides that extra value and keeps that conversation going. Your follow-up confirms for the customer that they made the right choice and demonstrates that you’re there for them after the sale has been completed.

Surprise and delight your customers

Celebrate a holiday or a milestone anniversary with a special gift or experience to thank your customers for their loyalty. There are many events you can celebrate – the anniversary of the customer’s first purchase; the anniversary of the start of your business; your customer’s birthday; mainstream holidays, fun or silly holidays (think Groundhog Day) to name a few occasions that might provide a reason to offer something special to loyal customers.

Offer more information

Send your customers something relevant to their buying decision, like an ebook or a webinar invitation, that educates them on getting more value from their purchase.

Membership club or rewards program

A free product or service is one of the most powerful incentives you can offer to customers to return to your business.

Product/service lifecycle prompts

If your product or service has a lifecycle that requires repeat service or sales, such as parts replacement or contract renewals, offer your customers a reminder service so they know when it’s time to schedule a service visit, replace a battery or renew an agreement.

Be sure to consider all aspects of the experience when creating your interactions with customers. If you’re sending a message, design it so it looks inviting and appealing. If you’re offering a gift, wrap it up with a bow to make it extra special. These gestures make your customers feel valued, special, and important. They may be small acts, but they can yield big results.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Offer Choices to Retain Top Employees

Offer Choices to Retain Top Employees

One of the most attractive incentives a business owner can offer to job candidates and employees today is flexibility. Money is not the sole motivational factor. Employees are more likely to accept offers and stay with a company that gives them choices and a sense of control over their job satisfaction and quality of life.

Flexibility means different things to different people. Let’s take a look at some typical areas where employees may be able to make choices that fit their values and lives. 

Work schedule

For employees working in person, commute times can be an issue that just gets worse and worse with time. Commute times also can be a dealbreaker for a highly qualified candidate. These individuals will appreciate a schedule that allows them to beat the traffic by starting and leaving work earlier.
Another scheduling issue is childcare. Offering in-person work hours that allow a parent to be home after school for their children can help you retain a valued employee or gain a new one in this competitive labor market.

Remote working

Some people who were introduced to remote work at the start of the pandemic got used to it and are reluctant to give it up. For these people, a hybrid compromise might be a win-win solution. Some studies show an ideal ratio is two days in the office and three days remote working, but this depends of course on your business operations.

Floating holidays

Not everyone wants to take off every standard U.S. holiday as a paid day off; for example, some people may prefer to work on the Friday after Thanksgiving if that means they can take off the day of Christmas Eve. Floating holidays also allow employees to observe religious holidays that are not mainstream U.S. paid days off, without sacrificing any pay. A policy that recognizes individual differences demonstrates the business respects its employees and reinforces employee loyalty.

Recognition rewards

One size rarely fits all when it comes to selecting recognition rewards for your employees. For some types of milestones, some recognition activities make sense as company rituals, part of your culture. An example of this kind of tradition might be posting a photo on your business social media account when an employee achieves a milestone work anniversary. On the other hand, if a recognition award is involved, providing a choice ensures the employee feels valued and appreciated and that the positive reaction reflects back on the business.

Employee benefit plans

Check with your benefits advisor to explore what choices you can afford to offer your employees.

As a business owner, you want to ensure your top employees feel confident they can take care of their personal needs and those of their families. A flexible plan for benefits and rewards demonstrates you respect and value them as individuals.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

How to Support Your Team: Three Tips for Leaders

How to Support Your Team: Three Tips for Leaders

As a business owner, your employees are your greatest asset. That’s why it’s important to know how to get the best out of them — and in turn, help them get the best out of themselves. 

But being a great leader is about more than boosting productivity and efficiency.  Effective leaders create a supportive environment that allows individual team members to feel confident they are prepared to deliver outstanding work. Here are three tips for supporting your team members to succeed individually and as a team.

1) Support growth

Encourage employees to gain new skills and increase their expertise. Give them increased opportunities to engage with other employees, customers, vendors, or partners. If you have a new project, look beyond the usual suspects and see if you can appoint someone else who doesn’t usually volunteer. Pay close attention to elevating quality employees with introverted personalities who are ready to contribute on a higher level.

2) Get to know your team as individuals

Take time to connect regularly with individual employees on a “human” level and show you care about them. Learn about your employees’ interests, ambitions, and accomplishments. Make it a two-way conversation: share your passions and hobbies as well. Use this valuable time to learn what’s working and what’s not so you can reduce friction and tension before they evolve into bigger problems.

3) Recognize and reward

Celebrating achievements and acknowledging the impact made by individual employees as well as the team is a great way to instill pride in a job and reinforce relationships at work. Find meaningful ways to demonstrate appreciation for your employees’ dedication and contributions to your business’s success. 

Building a high-performing team takes time and hard work. By practicing these three tips, you can create a culture of support and excellence that empowers your employees to become leaders in their own right.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Spring Cleanup Tips for Your Office

Spring Cleanup Tips for Your Office

This is the time of year many people refresh their homes inside and out, but why not plan to thoroughly clean and organize your workspace as well? This will not only help you stay on top of the clutter that accumulates with time, but it will motivate you and your team to be more efficient and productive and will help everyone feel more inspired about their work.

Get rid of desktop clutter – Unsorted or unfiled paper documents, brochures you didn’t want to throw away but you don’t need either. Create a sorting system to help you decide what to read now, file now, or throw away now.

Organize physical and digital files – Depending on your current system, this may be a big job. If you are starting over, first spend some time outlining your system on paper, then determine what steps are necessary to get the job done and who will do the tasks. Set weekly goals if it’s a big project.

Update important records – Update your important information folder. Check that account information and account representative information for banks and other financial services are still up to date.

Deep clean carpet and window treatment – If your workspace has carpet and window treatments, they’ve been gathering dust and dirt all year. Plan to have them professionally cleaned.

Update social Media profiles – If you’ve created social media profiles for your business, take a look at the images and “About” information and see if they are up to date. If you’re using a headshot from more than 3 years ago, or you’ve got a non-professional photo as your headshot, schedule a headshot session with a local photographer. A fresh profile image keeps 

Clean shared office food prep appliances or kitchen – Does your workspace have a coffeemaker, microwave oven, refrigerator, or other food prep appliances.? Beyond weekly wipe-downs, give them a thorough cleaning.

Safety check – Check expiration dates for smoke and carbon detectors — they don’t last forever. 

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

How to Reduce Risk When Taking Business Risks

How to Reduce Risk When Taking Business Risks

If you already own a business, you know you have to be willing to take risks to achieve your goals. But once you’ve established your business and are successful, you may be less willing to risk what is, after all, working just fine.

However, if you just keep doing the same thing, you will end up with the same results, or possibly worse outcomes. By doing nothing different, you may lose opportunities to grow beyond your biggest dreams. If you do too little too late, you put your business at greater risk of falling behind competitors who are evolving their business offerings to expand their market.

Managing risk is a fundamental part of the entrepreneurial journey, but you want risk-taking to help you advance towards your goals, not set you back. How do you reduce risk when you’re taking risks to grow your business?

Here are four ways you can minimize risk as you pursue growth for your business.

1) Make a list of pros and cons

Convince yourself why this move is the greatest idea you ever had and then tell yourself it’s the worst idea you ever had. Put this all in writing, with pros and cons side by side.

This technique is particularly useful if you are so fixated on risk you can’t see the rewards. The idea is that when you see negatives side by side with the benefits you stand to gain, you may realize your worst possible fears are just not that bad. You may conclude the potential gains outweigh any possible risks.

Another benefit of this technique is that it forces you to be more objective by laying out the facts in writing. It’s easy to overlook the importance of a consequence if you can push it aside in your mind, but it’s much hard to deny the reality of a risk once you see it in writing.

2) Identify and work to reduce external risks

You can control most if not all risk factors within your business, but do you know what you can’t control? A benefit of anticipating external risks is that once you’ve identified them, you can explore solutions and possibly implement safeguards before you implement changes.

3) Be flexible

There’s more than one way to achieve your goal, so don’t get stuck on your first idea. Pivoting is a term that describes a strategy that allows you to change direction if your initial plan fails to advance you towards the outcomes you envisioned. The idea behind pivoting is you begin with small steps, doing what you can as quickly and as cheaply as possible, so you can evaluate your idea before you’ve gone too far down one path. Knowing before you start that you might pivot – and planning for that possibility–gives you permission to fail and try again.

4) Do your research

Talk to people who have done what you want to do so you can benefit from their experiences. Planning a growth strategy is an ideal time to consult with a seasoned business coach who can share their expertise and draw on a broad spectrum of business experiences to define concrete steps for growing your business and mitigating the risks.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Happy Customers Are Repeat Customers

Happy Customers Are Repeat Customers

As a business owner, you know that providing excellent customer service is key to keeping customers happy and coming back for more. But no one is perfect. Even businesses that offer the best customer service can have a bad day. What’s important is that you – and your employees – make things right and keep customers happy. These three tips will provide a “customer first” mindset that keeps customers happy and helps solve problems when they do occur.

1. Practice good listening skills

Give your full attention to what your customer is saying to clearly understand the problem. It sounds simple but it’s more than just hearing what the customer has to say. Read body language, note tone of voice, and study facial expressions to provide an appropriate response. Don’t interrupt and be sure you’ve heard everything the customer has to say before responding. Then, summarize what you heard and articulate your next steps. Making a customer feel heard maintains a good relationship and keeps a problem from escalating.

2. Show empathy and understanding

Try to see the problem from your customer’s perspective to gain an understanding of how they feel and what might make them feel better. The customer will appreciate knowing you are on their side, rather than on an opposing side.

3. Provide solutions not excuses

A common urge when confronted with an angry or upset customer is to provide excuses for why something went wrong or why you can’t solve the problem immediately. Don’t waste time blaming others or getting upset at yourself. Simply apologize, accept responsibility and find a way to make things right with that unhappy customer. Leave the customer with a positive impression, not a memory of a bad experience.

Cultivating the habit of practicing these three customer service tips in every interaction will improve all your customer relationships and set you up for successfully resolving problems.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Training Sets Up Your Employees and Your Business for Success

Training Sets Up Your Employees and Your Business for Success

Over the past two years, your employee training program may have taken a back seat to the urgency of keeping your business going in the face of the daily challenges resulting from the pandemic and the labor shortage. But ongoing training and development are increasingly important for positioning your business for success now and in the future, especially if you have new hires. 

Benefits of Employee Training

Training is a key driver of customer satisfaction and employee retention. It improves overall productivity, boosts confidence and instills pride. Employees who share a common training experience work better together.

But for all these benefits and many others, employee training sometimes gets a bad rap. From the employer’s perspective, training may seem too expensive, a luxury they can’t afford. To employees, training may seem boring, uninspired, and irrelevant.

Tips to Optimize Your Training Program

Don’t let these obstacles hold you back from starting or continuing a robust employee training program. Here are tips to ensure your program is effective, instructive, and enjoyable for all.

  • Explain the “why” for the training — let your employees know how their successful training benefits them and the business
  • Set clear, attainable goals — accomplishing goals will instill a sense of achievement and pride
  • Keep to a consistent schedule of training sessions — reinforces the importance of training
  • Be sure training materials are legible, clearly understood, and in overall good condition — whether they physical materials or online programs
  • Tap senior employees to train new hires — your longtime employees can help new hires fit in better

I strongly believe that a mix of continuous learning, formal training sessions, and individual accountability is the best way to develop the skills of your employees. If you need guidance developing a program that fits your business goals, please reach out for a complimentary consultation.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Are You Recruiting Right?

Are You Recruiting Right?

“You can’t teach employees to smile. They have to smile before you hire them.”

– Arte Nathan, Wynn Las Vegas

As businesses compete to fill positions and offer potential employees better compensation packages, business owners find themselves with a mounting number of open positions. In this market, candidates often have more options than employers. To attract qualified candidates and hire right takes more planning and resources than during the pre-pandemic era.

Define the Opportunity

Follow these guidelines to create an appealing ad:

  • Be specific about must-have requirements
  • Make the open position and the business sound appealing
  • Write in a conversational team rather than using formal, impersonal language
  • Create a strong headline and consider framing it as question to engage interest
  • Get to the point quickly
  • Be honest and authentic about the job description
  • Keep sentences short
  • Explain next steps for interested candidates

Keep an open mind

Traditionally job candidates have been screened in terms of how well they matched up with requirements in three key areas: education, experience, and skills. But according to Brad Sugars, founder of ActionCoach, “Skills can always be learned, improved upon, or acquired, but passion, personality, and heart are the things that will give any team a winning edge” (Sugars, 2006). You can teach skills, but candidates have to bring their own passion, enthusiasm, and motivation to the table.

Employers who think this way about assessing candidates are open to a broader pool of applicants. They don’t dismiss a promising applicant who may not be a perfect match with the job requirements.

This doesn’t mean ignore the must-have skills for the position, but take into consideration these personal qualities:

  • Enthusiasm
  • Promptness
  • Respectful of others
  • Attentiveness
  • Positivity
  • Appropriate appearance
  • Self-motivation
  • Common Sense
  • Honesty

Get your team involved

You’ll have a better chance at making a strong hiring decision if you engage your team in the process. Have several key employees meet candidates individually or in a group, or ask candidates to complete a written questionnaire that you can share with your team. A candidate who appeals to all or the majority of the team is more likely to be a good fit than if just one person evaluates the candidate.

Use a number-based evaluation system

To increase objectivity in comparing candidates, use a numerical system. Rate the candidate on a scale of 1 to 5 for each of the position qualifications and attributes you are seeking in the ideal employee.

For more information about best recruiting practices, reach out to me for a free consultation.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Hot Off the Press: Your Business Newsletter

Hot Off the Press: Your Business Newsletter

Newsletters are a highly effective marketing channel for small businesses. The opportunity to reach and connect with your customers on a regular basis is invaluable. But starting a newsletter can be challenging when you’re new to the process. I’ve sent out our fair share of newsletters and know what it takes to build an engaged list of subscribers. Here are some things we’ve learned over the years.

Benefits of a business newsletter
Reinforces customer relationships. A steady schedule of email newsletters keeps your business top of mind and is one of the most effective and cost-efficient ways to maintain an ongoing relationship with customers and prospects.
Builds your credibility. A business that commits to sending out a newsletter on a regular basis has more authority and credibility than a business that doesn’t communicate and doesn’t show interest in engaging with its customers.
Adds value. Relevant, informative articles elevate your customer service. You’re sharing your expertise and giving away advice – that makes you look good!
Increases traffic to your website. Insert links to your website in newsletter articles to make it easy for your audience to find your website.
It’s your real estate. Unlike social media platforms that employ algorithms to control who sees your posts, you control the entire environment around your newsletter: how it looks, what it says, who sees it and how often.
Drives business. More times than I can count, I’ve received a call about my services right after I’ve sent out a newsletter. My topic sparked interest in the reader and they acted immediately to inquire about my services.

Tips for developing your newsletter
What’s in a name? A lot depends on the name you give your newsletter. In itself, the name is a marketing tool that can capture the attention of your audience. There are different approaches to naming, but they all have the same objective: to stand out in the daily tsunami of emails delivered to inboxes. Here are some naming strategies:

  • Explore catchy, fun wordplays
  • Use your personal name or your business name
  • Use your geographic location
  • Incorporate the day of the week: Tuesday Tips
  • Incorporate a description of your audience or a word relevant to the service/products you offer, such as Knitters News, Organizing Oracle, Plumbing Pipeline, etc.
  • Pro tip: alliteration – starting each word in the name with the same letter sound – makes the name more memorable

A picture is worth 1000 words. This old saying has never been more true. Images attract attention, reinforce your message and make readers feel something.
Aim to please. Consider your format from your audience’s perspective. Would they prefer bite-size bulleted information or perhaps practical, in-depth articles? Be sure the font is large enough to be read on a mobile phone – which is where most of us read email these days.
Serve up a smorgasbord. Include a mix of articles to keep readers’ interest. Not every article has to be relevant to every individual in your audience, but over the course of a few issues of your newsletter, there should be something for everyone.
Keep your streak going. In the same way that habit streaks – doing a behavior every day without fail – reinforces the making of a new habit, distributing your newsletter trains your audience to anticipate your newsletter. If you’re going to pause for an issue, let your readers know in advance.
Plan in advance. Plan a list of topics one business quarter in advance to avoid falling behind your publishing schedule.
Don’t go it alone. If you’re new to newsletters, connect with me for guidance in launching an effective and engaging newsletter.

If you would like to learn more about how this might apply to your business, let’s talk:

Schedule Meeting

Posts navigation