When I was in a coaching call with a client today I was telling him that he should be asking for referral business and testimonials from current satisfied clients. Why? Because a referral from a current client and testimonials on your website amps up your credibility. It shows potential clients that you have a stable of clients who are happy to attach their name to the goods and services you provide.
What is the best time to ask for a testimonial? When you’re in a face-to-face meeting with a client or when you’re on the telephone. You can also request one via email, but consider the more personal approach.
How can you ask for a testimonial? Here are some ways:
Just ask. It may seem more complicated than that, but it’s not. If you don’t ask, chances are they will never have considered offering. “Bill, I have loved working with you and I wonder if you’d offer a testimonial for the services we’ve provided.” Boom. That easy. He may be flattered that you’ve asked. Also, link to his business on your site in the testimonial — win-win for both of your businesses.
If your client seems hesitant, it could be because they think they aren’t “good with words.” If they don’t know what to say, offer to write up something on their behalf and send it to them to see if they will agree to it or if they want to tweak it. This could make it much easier for them.
Return the favor. If you receive a testimonial and you can return the favor for a client, do so. In fact, if you offer to write one for a client, it may prompt them to say, “Hey, let me do that for you as well.”
If you’re not asking you won’t receive. When, and how, will you ask?
Entrepreneurs typically burn the candle at both ends. This also comes with the impact of burning out. Even though I work all hours and many days of the week, I still find time to care for myself. Why? The biggest reason is that as an entrepreneur who is juggling many balls at once, I have to stay healthy and viable to keep juggling!
Here are some tips for the overworked business owner to help you take control of your life and work and get it back in balance:
Prioritize the week ahead. Write down everything you need to/want to accomplish for the entire week. Parcel those items out over the course of the week as a way to not be overworked on Monday and twiddling your thumbs on Thursday.
If you have deadlines approaching, work on the project in pieces, don’t put it off until the last minute because you “work best under pressure.” That is a lie many people tell themselves to justify procrastination.
What can you delegate? Is social media not your forte? Outsource it! Do you dread bookkeeping and accounting? Hire an accountant to take that task off your hands so you can focus on your core competency.
Do you need to say “yes” to everything? If a project comes across your desk you aren’t obligated to accept it. If, however, you want to build a relationship with that person, find business partners with whom you can team up to refer business to. It’s a great way to stay involved, but not having to do a project. Referral partners are a great way to grow a business.
Get an accountability partner or a mentor — someone who can help keep you on track, brainstorm with you and share triumphs and frustrations with.
What do you do to get out of the office and take care of your physical and mental health?
If you’re in start-up mode you need all of the help you can get and you also need tools that will help your start-up be successful. “Success” is different for each entrepreneur, but if you want to be a success you need to lay the groundwork and build a strong foundation. Here are the tools that I share with my clients as a way to get their entrepreneurial endeavors off to the best start possible.
Here are tools I recommend:
You should have a business plan in place. The business plan will guide your business growth from start up to selling. You also need to know the ins and outs of your business, what the goals are, what services you offer, what products you will make and have a plan in place for the growth of the business as it relates to potentially having to hire employees.
Work with a banker from the beginning of your business endeavor. You should have a business bank account and even a business credit card. Building a relationship with a banker will be of help when you look for capital for expansion.
What can you outsource? There are items that are likely outside of your area of expertise — social media, accounting, legal, etc. — and you might be better served to outsource these tasks to an expert in that field. Determine what you make hourly and if it’s a good use of your time to focus on areas that are outside of your area of expertise.
Establish an online presence. This could be one of those items that you outsource, but if you do, you need to determine where your ideal clients gather and have your social presence in those areas. If you jump onto specific social media platforms, make certain your profiles are complete and that you are being active on those platforms.
Make sure you know how to accept payments electronically. Today’s online world means that you should be able to accept payments online from your clients through your website. If you’re onsite at a conference, for example, you will want to be able to process payments on the spot.
Talk with your business coach or a colleague if you have any questions or concerns about whether your start-up is on the road to success.
Life and business is ever-increasingly being conducted online. In my business, my team is scattered across the globe and we communicate virtually, via video calls and share documents across multiple Internet platforms. Because of this and because of the importance of keeping our company and our client information protected, we have cyber-security measures in place. You simply don’t want to have a weak password lead to a security breach in your website or even having your website hacked.
Here are our top cyber-security tips:
Make certain your websites are up to date and that you have security measures in place to back up and keep the sites secure. Because cyber threats are continually changing, the method you used this week to protect your site could likely be obsolete next week.
Install antivirus software and update it regularly.
Make certain your employees are educated on your cyber-security practices. They need to use extremely strong passwords as a way to not allow a “back-door” entry into any of your sites or servers.
Don’t store essential or sensitive documents in areas that could be easily accessed by a hacker. If necessary, print sensitive documents to keep on site. At the very least sensitive documents should be password protected and only those who truly need access should have the password.
Don’t forget to encrypt and protect your mobile devices — smart phones and tablets included. All devices should be password protected.
If you’re not certain your sites and your servers are protected against cyber attacks you will want to work with a qualified, experienced IT firm to assure your security and the integrity of your information.