Tag Archives: #Small Business Owners

5 Ways You Can Turn A Mistake Into Money!

28 Jan

Customers Service 6

 

No matter how hard you try to prevent it, we all make mistakes. When it happens to you or a member of your staff you will have two choices. One is to minimize your personal or business culpability and expense. The other, to use this as a golden opportunity to build your brand and a lasting relationship with your customers. I recommend the later approach and that you make it your standard of how you do business. Here is a five steps to get you started.

 
Step One:
Take full responsibility for your mistakes. This will result in lowering your customer’s defenses and help the process of amicably resolving the issue. This simple act will go a long way towards building a bond of trust between you and your customer and we all know that there is no more valuable business or personal asset than trustworthiness. Don’t make excuses! Just make it right….and then make it more than right.

 
Step Two:
Let your customer know that you genuinely care about their frustration or disappointment. That means that you will have to talk less and listen more. Then sympathies with them by genuinely caring about their experience. As they are talking try mentally putting yourself in their shoes and experience on an emotional level what they have just gone through. Next and most importantly, ask what your business could do differently so that they or any other customer may never have to go through this again. You may be surprised at the answers you get back to this and it could be invaluable to taking your business to a whole new level and setting you above and beyond the rest of those in your same industry by guiding you how to provide an exceptional customer experience.

Step Three:
Go the extra mile to make it right. It is easy to make a simple return, but it is important to make sure that your customer is also happy. Look for any opportunity to meet even an unspoken need like offering an additional solution to your customer’s need that may have nothing to do with you or your business, but saves them time, money, extra steps, etc… That means you will need to be fully engaged with your customer. Do they look tired and spent? Ask a co-worker to provide them with a refreshment while you continue to process their return. If your business is online this may be more difficult to do. I highly recommend the use of Skype or Face Time as a way to make their experience more personal. Ask questions about how and why they were using your product or service. This may give you insights how you can serve them more in unexpected ways.

Step Four:
Add some extra and unexpected value in the way of extra products or services that are relevant to your customer. This could be in the way of a free sample which is a great way to introduce your customers to your new products and services.

 
Step Five:
This is key! Follow up about a week later just to make sure your customer is happy and ask if they have had a chance to try out the free gift you provided them and how they liked it. Take it old school and send them a personal hand written note sent by snail-mail. The idea is to fully convey to your customer how important you think they are and how much you value them. And let’s face it, we could all use a bit more of that. Your customer is no different. This is the final and key step in this process of turning a mistake into an opportunity to create a personal relationship with your disgruntled customer and then with skill and care turn them into a raging fan!

With Valentine’s Day quickly approaching, this is a great time to focus on your customer relationships. If you would like more step-by-step help to grow your business and generate more sales, then you are going to need my Small Business Toolkit! It’s packed full of tips and tools that my small business clients just like you have successfully used to grow their business. These are the same techniques that have helped me build my own business development company from scratch into an international corporation with clients around the world. This comprehensive Small Business Toolkit 1s usually included with membership in the Small Business Academy. However, I am going to make it available to business owners like you for a limited time only. And yes, we ship anywhere in the world! Get yours now while it is still available!

Small Business Tool Kit Offer 1

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5 Signs You Have What It Takes To Be A Successful Entrepreneur!

21 Jan

 

Starting your own business can be a life changing experience, but how do you know if you have what it takes to go the distance and build a successful company? Yes, you need passion, determination, persistence, and the ability to bounce back from the unexpected that would give the Michelin Man pause. However, there are some subtle personality qualities that nearly all successful entrepreneurs share and if you have or are thinking of starting your own business it might be a good idea to see if you are a part of this selective group. So let’s take a look at 5 of the most common traits of successful entrepreneurs.

1. You are always looking for what’s next.
When most people reach a goal they think, “I did it! Time to sit back and enjoy it for a while.” An entrepreneur thinks, “Great, what’s next?” A dear friend of mine is mega author Debbie Macomber. When she first started out she wrote one book that turned into a series, which turned into several, that turned into a hit movie made for television, which turned into her own television series. Debbie has taken the opportunity to build a few of the storybook businesses that are the backdrop for her books into actual businesses that her corporation owns in the little town where she lives and she has plans for even more enterprises. Entrepreneurs like Debbie Macomber don’t stop with one big achievement. They’re always looking forward to their next challenge.
2. You have control issues.
It has taken me awhile, but many years ago I made a conscious choice to strike a balance between closely monitoring the inner workings of my business and letting the talented people who work for me, do what they do best. It turns out I am not alone. It seems quite a few of my friends who are also business owners have been confronted with the same challenge. It is important to be fully aware of what is going on within your company. However, most control issues are based in some sort of fear, and fear can be a death sentence to most businesses. Hovering over every aspect of your business can become detrimental to getting things done and impede creativity and innovation from your staff. It can also stress out employees, who have been brought on precisely so you don’t have to make each and every decision. If you fall into this category it may give you some comfort to know that both Steve Jobs and Bill Gates have been described at one time or another as control freaks.

3. You are fiercely determined!
As an entrepreneur, you’ve got to love hard work, long hours, and be willing to take a lot of risk. Understanding that 75 percent of new businesses fail, only an entrepreneur who is unbelievably determined will knowingly and eagerly face those kind of odds. In the beginning you will struggle financially and work unbelievably long hours. You might even feel a bit lonely, because while everyone else is out enjoying their evenings and weekends, you will be toiling away, usually on your own determined to overcome your next hurdle and reach your next goal.

4. You started early.
Generally speaking entrepreneurs show an innovative interest in making money at a young age. As a youngster I pestered my parents to allow me to work in berry fields, caring for children, even as a life guard at a local community pool so I could have money of my own. Like many entrepreneurs, as time went on I became less driven about the money and more driven by freedom, independence, opportunity for unbridled creativity, and the ability to operate my own company at a higher level of integrity than the business owners I had worked for. Eventually, my driving force became focused on how I could offer the best quality products and services in my industry to my customers.

5. You don’t fit the mold.
Many entrepreneurs describe themselves as not fitting in with the crowd. While it’s not always easy to be the outsider, thanks to notable entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Sir Richard Branson, Sheryl Sandberg, and Coco Chanel, we now generally recognize that the ability to see things from a different point view from the rest of the world is an attribute that can help move society forward and drive innovation. None of these individuals would strike you as socially comfortable. In fact, nearly all of then identify themselves as introverts. It is this quality that tends to make them better listeners, a key asset in leadership and a successful business.

If you identify with any of these classical characteristics chances are you may be a natural entrepreneur. Share your story and which attribute you most closely identify with. Then tell us about your business and remember to include a link to your website.

What are the best ways to successfully grow my business?

10 Dec

Customer-Service

 Probably the number one question I receive is “How do I get more customers?”  Without a strong customer flow as a business owner you also don’t have a strong cash flow and that can cause anxiety and stress on a number of levels.  But what if you could turn that around starting today?  I bet that would make you feel reinvigorated wouldn’t it?  You would enjoy your business more because you were actively growing it.  To help you do that I have put together some simple step you can use right away to help you build your customer base no matter what type of business you are in.  So let’s get started.
  80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers. This is simply fact for almost all businesses. This means you need to make it a priority to find out which one in five of your customers are those who keep coming back for more of what you have to offer and then make every effort to keep them happy and buying.
   Focus on long-term customers.  Repeat customers are the holy grail of sales. They advertise your business for free to their friends, they help you forecast, they save you marketing money, and most importantly, they buy your product or service.
   Repeat customers cost less than new ones.  Studies show that it’s less expensive to bring existing customers back than to attract new ones. It makes sense, considering the expense of advertising, marketing, media, and other tools necessary to lure new customers.
Repeat customers are walking billboards.  If a customer comes back to your business, chances are pretty good that he liked what he saw the first time around. And, from there, chances are they’re going to spread the word which is free publicity for you. To build repeat customers, be consistent. On the surface, a solid base of repeat customers might seem little more than a matter of providing excellent service or products. While there is truth to statement, your quality of service must be consistent to keep them coming back.
   Hire the right people. Since your employees are on the front lines, their demeanor and interaction with clients can cement relationships that bring customers back to your business. Individuals who are positive, friendly, and really care about doing a great job is the first step. Anyone who is going to interact with customers—from the receptionist through to the collections department—has to understand the importance of creating a positive interaction with the customer.
   Keep it personal. By definition, a repeat customer is someone you get to know. Nurture that by keeping your relationship as personal as possible. For instance, get to know customers by name. Connecting on a personal level with customers is one of the best competitive advantages there is. Everyone loves it when they go into your place of business and you remember their name and their favorite item or service.
  Stay in contact. Encourage repeat business by staying in touch with your customers through a blog, newsletter, or some other vehicle that affords ongoing communication. A handwritten thank-you to customers with orders over a certain amount that includes a discount on their next purchase is a spectacular touch in today’s world of all things digital.
  What is your favorite tip for growing your customer base and your business?

What You Need To Know Right Now To Get Your Business Moving!

3 Dec

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Did you know that 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers?  This is simply fact for almost all businesses.  This means you need to make it a priority to find out which one in five of your customers are those who keep coming back for more of what you have to offer and then make every effort to keep them happy and buying.  There are several very effective ways of doing this and it is up to you to choose the one that works best for you and your business, but let me give you a couple of suggestions to get you started thinking.

 

One of the least expensive ways I know of as of this writing is using Social Media.  You can quickly set up a page on the site you think the majority of your customers will also be using and then engage them in “conversation” by asking questions such as “What is your favorite product?”  “What new product or service would you like to see in our (place of business)?”  “What is your least favorite product or service and why?”  “Have you or would you invite your friends to our (place of business)?”  Can you see how valuable this type of information would be to making sure that you are on target and meeting your customer’s needs?  This could quickly answer the question of why you have not been seeing the growth in your customer base and your bottom line that you have been looking for.  The anxiety and stress that you have been feeling could begin to be eliminated just by having a clear understanding of what your customers like and don’t like, of what is working and what is not.

 

Cultivate that special relationship with the 20% of your customer base by giving them a voice and an opportunity to connect with you in addition to your place of business.  As an example, I used my social media page to ask my fans and readers (that would be you) what was the one thing that they felt was holding them back from reaching their business goals.  Over the next few days I looked over the responses and found that the one thing that almost everyone wanted was to know how to get more customers into their place of business and that set the wheels in motion for me to write this book to help you do just that.

 

So your next step should be to set up a business page using the social media platform that best suites your business.  If you don’t know which one that would be, ask your customers.  Find out where they spend most of their social media time and then put up a page.  It usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes.

 

Once you have your page up or if you already have a business page begin to engage your customer base in conversation and ask questions.  Be prepared to take that information good or bad, and make the adjustments that will help you grow your customer base.  And by all means, make sure you let your customers know that you heard what they had to say and that you now have available what they needed or wanted.

 

Can you see by making this first step how it would positively impact your business and your bottom-line?  Would it increase in your customer base and ultimately your sales?  How would more customers and ultimately more sales, reduce the stress levels and worry that you have been experiencing lately and positively impact those closest to you?  Please leave your comments and questions below.  I look forward to reading each one! For more even help you can also get my FREE video series on “How To Get More Customer and Grow Your Business”.  Just go to: www.AlexzandraD.com

 

How Not To Commit Grand Larceny…..In Your Own Business!

12 Nov

MAN STEALING MONEY FROM A CASH REGISTER - MODEL

My long time business attorney and friend Keith Baldwin, gave me some good advice when I was first starting out. It is the same information I have passed on to countless clients of my own. So today I would like to share it with you. Keith has been kind enough to allow me to share one of his recent blog posts with you all that walks you through the do’s and don’ts when it comes to handling money from your own business.  This is so good you may want to take notes!
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Mixing Up Family Business and Personal Business: Pitfalls to Avoid  
By Keith Baldwin on October 3rd, 2014
In a family-owned business, there may be a fine line between the interests of the business and the personal interests of the individuals who own and control the business. Family business owner/operators can fall into the trap of thinking that whatever is in their own personal best interest is also in the best interest of the business. That is not always the case where the business includes multiple family members.
Take, for example, the case of a company we’ll call Friendly Enterprises, Inc., held by members of the Friendly family for 50 years. Its stock is now owned by Emma Friendly, two of her brothers and one sister. The brothers and sister are not actively involved in the business. It has been the habit of Emma as the president, senior member of the family and largest shareholder, to use cash from operations for her daily expenses, including leasing a car and paying for gasoline, buying lunches and dinners with and without customers as guests, maintaining her condominium in Palm Springs, and traveling around the country for both business and vacation purposes. She has turned over daily operational responsibility to her daughter and son, but she still maintains an office and comes in every day to manage her personal real estate holdings. Her long-time assistant, Wiley, spends most of his time managing Emma’s personal assets. When her son and daughter need cash for their living expenses, she recommends that they just remove it from the till to avoid having to draw up loan documents. She rationalizes that, since the family owns the business, everything that the business earns is there for the family’s use.
So, is there a problem here? Well, several. First, there are a number of income tax-related issues that any competent CPA or tax lawyer would recognize and advise the company to correct. Some of the personal benefits enjoyed by Emma and her daughter and son will likely be considered income or dividends for federal and state tax purposes and must be declared as such on their personal returns. Friendly Enterprises, Inc. needs a firmer-handed CFO and a competent tax and accounting professional to help it emerge from potential chaos. There should be financial controls in place so that no one—including family members, can simply remove cash from the till without accounting for it.
There are other issues that relate to the duties that exist among shareholders. Unless the shareholders have agreed that Emma’s use of company funds is acceptable as either personal compensation or legitimate corporate expenses, Emma may be required to defend herself against claims for self-dealing and breach of her duties as a senior shareholder to the junior shareholders. The board of directors has the authority to approve compensation to officers of the company, but it must be able to differentiate between compensation or dividends to one officer/shareholder and expenditures for the benefit of the corporation. And the board must determine whether Emma’s compensation is fair, given the limited scope of the services she provides to the corporation. The board needs to be aware that there are minority shareholders who may at some time expect a return on their stock ownership, and who may hire a lawyer or accountant to scrutinize Emma’s performance and the company’s expenditures on behalf of Emma. The board’s performance and process in protecting the corporation’s assets and applying corporate revenues to legitimate corporate purposes will undergo that same scrutiny.
Also, the family needs to ensure that the “corporate veil” remains intact that protects shareholders from liability for the obligations of the corporation. One of the best ways to eliminate the corporate veil is for shareholders to disregard the corporate entity by utilizing corporate assets for personal purposes. The loss of the corporate veil may hurt not only Emma, but also other family members who consciously permit corporate assets to be used for personal purposes without accounting for such uses as compensation or dividends.
Few family businesses are as aggressive in their self-dealing as our example of Friendly Enterprises, Inc. However, in family businesses, as in any other businesses, nothing beats documenting the financial and other relationships between the individuals and the business and ensuring that business revenues are utilized for business-related purposes. Even for family businesses that are not quite as brazen as the Friendly family, attention has to be paid to these matters. Those efforts will be rewarded in the event of scrutiny by tax authorities or concerned family members.
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As always, please leave your comments and questions below.  And if you would like to get in touch with Keith Baldwin yourself feel free to click on any of the highlighted links in this post.  Until next time….

Reclaim Your Freedom and Your Sanity, and Save Money Doing It!

5 Nov

Working Vacation

 

“Working at the home office” has a whole new meeting these days as more and more entrepreneurs, solopreneur’s, and even corporate types spend more and more time tele-commuting from home. According to Global Workplace Analytics, a San Diego-based research firm, that includes over 6 million of us.
So what is the reason behind this growing move from “Corporate Headquarters” to the “Home Office”?
1. Workers want and need greater flexibility, especially parents of young children.
2. Employers can save on average $11,000 annually for each employee who works remotely just half time.
3. It is good for the environment. Switching commuters to telecommuters helps to reduce traffic congestion and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

While working from home is a growing trend, there are a few things you need to know to do it successfully. Here are eight tips to get you started.

Set A Schedule  Set a Schedule
Setting a schedule helps you to get into a productive work mode and stay on task throughout the day.

 

 

DreWorking from home 2ss For Work
When you work from home, there is no dress code, but that shouldn’t mean you should stay in your PJ’s all day. Taking a morning shower and dressing helps you separate work time from personal time and keep a positive mental outlook. If you have a video conference or in-person meeting it is important that you look as successful as you want your career to be!

 
Make An Office Work Space
A laptop does not an office make! You need a dedicated space in your home that you can call your own when it comes to work and it doesn’t need to be much. When I first started out I worked from one end table in my living room and grew my company into what it is today! But, you do need someplace to start.

 

 

 
fast-internet-connection-660x369Communication Essentials
If you’re working from home, it’s essential to have a reliable phone and a fast Internet connection because they are your connections to the outside world as well as to your company. I also recommend a dedicated phone number just for your business. It adds a layer of security for your home and family as well as being more convenient and professional.

 
Get Out Of The House young woman working outside on computer and drinking coffee
Every time I visit my favorite local coffee shop I see an army of telecommuters conducting business meetings. For some, working at a local coffee shop or a library is simply a nice change of pace from being cooped up at home. If you need a break, take one. If the sun is shining, work on the back patio.

 
Mid day choresAvoid Mid-day Chores
One upside to telecommuting is the ability to do midday chores like cooking or cleaning. But while it’s tempting to use work time to get ahead on the household tasks, you need to reserve that for after-work hours.

 

Do you have tips of your own? I would love to hear what you do to be more productive and more successful working from home. Have a question? Post it below. I read every comment and answer as many as I can.

How You Can Grow Your Business Using Social Media and Email Without Getting a Migraine! (Part Two)

29 Oct

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Just how important a role does email marketing play in the success of your business? 

The most valuable assets your business has is your email list. Email marketing definitely gives most entrepreneurs a little unease because we know that every blog post or email we publish or send will be sent out to more people than you will ever probably meet in your entire lifetime.

The more your business grows, the more important it is to make sure that you’re editing correctly and that what you are writing not only makes sense, but is of value to those who are going to read it.

Sending Direct Email.jpgSending direct emails to your list can generate greater results in the form of revenue than just posting blog articles.  However, both play a key role in growing and sustaining your business.  Are you just sending out marketing emails when your offer a new promotion? If your frequency has been once or twice a month, I encourage you to up that to once a week and make sure your content is valuable.  In other words, that it provides information that provides a solution to one of your customer’s or client’s current needs, not just when you want to sell them something.

Sharing Information.jpgWhen your customer’s find information they think is awesome chances are they will want to share it with other like-minded people within their network.  This is a very effective way to build your brand awareness and your customer base.  However, be careful not to send too many emails or you will find yourself being unsubscribed from annoyed potential customers and that directly affects your bottom-line. When people sign up for access to a free video series on how to successful solve a business problem or tips on growing their business, they also receive an email from me usually on Wednesday with a link to my current weekly blog post covering answering that week’s most frequently asked question. Not only does the email and blog provide information that my customers can implement immediately to make their business more successful, but it also lets them know that I am listening to what is bothering them the most at the moment and responding accordingly.  It lets them know in a concrete way I think they are important.

I definitely want to encourage you utilize email marketing more. It’s something you should always be trying to do better and utilize it more effectively, be in better communication with your readers, customer, and increase your profits.

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Tips for small businesses and entrepreneurs who want to get started with email marketing and social media.

  • I would encourage people to set up a plan and framework for your integrated marketing. Sit down and write down your vision of who your target audience is. Focus on “How am I going to build my list?”
  • You want to build your list through excellent content first, and then social media channels and then drive them to your email list. Offer them great value in your content and extend an invitation for them to sign up on your list to get even more.
  • Analyze social media networks and consider how effective they are for the niche you’re working in.
  • Focus on two, three or four social media networks and leave it alone after that. Don’t spread yourself too thin publishing to every social media network around.  Use the ones that are good for your type of business and where your audience spends most of their time.
  • The bigger your list, the more lucrative it is. It’s really beneficial and it’s the most valuable part we’re able to hold on to. With social media networks, you don’t really own that content. With email, you do.
  • I think people setting up new businesses should definitely focus on that. Start capturing emails, give your people the option to subscribe.

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As always, if you have any questions about your own email marketing or building your list please post them below.  I read everyone and will answer your questions just as quickly as I can.  You can also join my own email list and get full access to my video series ” How to Get More Customers and Build Your Business”  Just follow this link: www.AlexzandraD.com