The benefits of being a business owner are, in some ways, immeasurable. Off the top of my head, here are a few: you are responsible for your own success, you create your own schedule, you are your own boss and the sky is the limit when it comes to your income.
Here is some advice we’ve gleaned from the entrepreneurs with whom I’ve working in my coaching business as to why they love their self-employed life and some tips to make it viable:
Put your life experience to work.
Share your expertise
Embrace a niche and use it for your business start-up.
Having a business plan helps visualize whether your idea is viable, who your potential clients are, what you can charge for your goods and services and your potential income.
Understand what you want your corporate culture to be before that first employee comes on board.
Determine your company’s core values and its mission. This helps with decision-making. Making decisions based on your values and mission will help you make better decisions.
Follow these steps, especially if you’re in the start-up phase, as a way to give your business a head start. If you’ve been in business for a while now, it never hurts to go back and revisit any of these items above and get back on track, if necessary.
Attending a networking event is not a race to the finish line of “who has collected the most business cards.” Instead, networking and attending events should be about meeting potential clients, getting to know them, building a relationship that takes you beyond the initial meeting.
Networking is not a one-way street. It is something that should be mutually beneficial. A better way to look at networking is to approach it from a “what can I give back that will matter to the individuals I am meeting.” Here are some tips you can implement to be more of a giver at your next networking event:
Be inclusive. If you see someone standing off on the sidelines, invite him or her into your conversation or strike up a conversation between the two of you.
Be authentic. Business people are savvy and they will know if you’re showboating.
Introduce individuals you’ve met with others in the room with whom you believe they will have a connection.
Reach out after the event. If you have a solution to a problem that one of the attendees mentioned, reach out and offer your solution — no questions asked.
Volunteer your time. If the group you’re attending has an opportunity to be a volunteer, take it. Become invaluable.
Be social after the event. Connect with people on social media. Share their posts, comment on their blogs.
Do you find that networking events help you grow your business? What is your best-networking tip?
Whether you run a business with a virtual team or you have a brick and mortar location, communication is key to a healthy workplace environment. As an entrepreneur who has virtual staff, I am highly cognizant of the need for effective communication, especially as the team typically “talks” via email and instant messaging. Without the body language to go along with the words, there is no tone or frame of reference and this can make virtual communication a murky water to tread. I believe my team and I understand each other well enough to know that if there is miscommunication, we will stop the conversation, ask for clarification and hash it out.
Here are my tips for good workplace communication:
Assess and define the problem. Without understanding the root cause of the misunderstanding, it is difficult to address it and communicate more clearly.
Work with the individuals involved in the miscommunication to get to the underlying issue and resolve it. Your managers may take this role on with their own staff, but if it cannot be resolved, you as the business owner, will want to step in.
Don’t design a solution to resolve the problem until you thoroughly understand what caused it originally. You will also want to get everyone involved as a mandate from management to “communicate better” will not be effective.
Evaluate the success of the solution you’re attempting to implement. Give it a time frame of, say 60 days, reconvene and see whether it’s been effective.
If the solution you tried originally is not achieving the desired results, you will want to sit down with all parties involved, open up a dialogue and not leave the room until it’s addressed. There are times you will find when personalities simply don’t mesh and there may not be a “fix” to the communication issue other than to reassign individuals — it is a drastic, last step measure to be sure, but one that shouldn’t be completely ruled out.
Entrepreneurs are sales people. There are many business owners that I speak with who will tell me what they do, what they sell and the services they provide. What they fail to say that they do is “sales.” Think about it, though, every entrepreneur is a sales person — he or she has to be or how would the money come in? When you think about making sales in your business, remember sales is about relationship-building. Who would you rather buy from… someone you “know, like and trust” or someone who comes knocking on your door and says, “hey, buy my stuff?” I’ll bet it’s the entrepreneur with whom you’ve built a relationship, right.
If you look at the law of averages, you have likely figured out if you make enough cold calls, someone will buy. If you connect with enough people on social media, someone will make a purchase from you. However, if you look at the time it takes you to reach out “blindly” as compared to how much time it would take to nurture a warm lead you will easily see that relationship building will lead to deeper, longer lasting business connections.
Going to a networking event shouldn’t be looked at as a contest to see who can collect and who can hand out, the most business cards. If you attend a networking event and you connect with a handful of people enough so that you can set up a meeting outside of the event, you are much further ahead than the person who isn’t taking the time to build a relationship.
Once you have sold yourself and your services to a client, keep in touch and keep building that relationship.
What are your best sales relationship building tips?
“We go above and beyond.” “Our customer service is second to none.” Who says that? Which of your competitors utters those phrases to their prospects? Do you utter those phrases? What do they mean… really? Every business tries to set itself apart but to really do that, you need to be consistent, memorable and unique. How can you do that? Here are my top ways:
Always be professional. It may be easy to think of saying how you’re “better” than the competition, but bad mouthing a competitor will leave a bad taste in a prospect’s mouth.
Connect and stay engaged with your customers. Whether you send out enewsletters, pick up the phone or pay personal visits, you want to stay front of mind with your clients. Don’t take them, or their continued patronage, for granted.
Set the tone for your staff. If you are in a good mood and are positive when you come to work, that will trickle down to your staff.
Make it a habit to check in with your customers on a regular basis. Set aside a day a week to pick up the phone and reach out. Even if you don’t connect with them every time, leave a message to let your clients know you appreciate them and are there if they have any questions or concerns.
Remember, everyone who comes in contact with a client or a prospect is the “first impression” or even the “good-bye” of the day and each interaction needs to be memorable and leave your clients happy to be your clients! What can you do to make your customer service experiences memorable and unique?