Posts Tagged have fun in business

When business gets fuzzy

Perhaps you know what I mean just from reading the title, ‘When Business Gets Fuzzy’. Those moments when it’s all a blur, you can’t seem to get much done, but you are busy enough.

Image courtesy of stockimages from freedigitalphotos.net

Image courtesy of stockimages from freedigitalphotos.net

Your to do list looks like a scrawl of badly drawn doodles, your planning efforts with others become more like a blah, blah, blah session and nothing much seems to happen. You do alright chatting with your team, they like the time out and get some of their own doodling done.

Your business seems to continue on okay with work coming in and going out, but the details seem to be fuzzy at times. You get the sense you are turning up but not much is motivating you to be there, It’s like the light is on but no one in home. Perahps it’s not a big deal for now, but if this continues you could be setting your business up for a difficult time.

Let’s explore some ways to get the clarity and motivation back so the ‘fuzzies’ don’t wipe you out and flatten the business..

Make a list – The list shoud be about what you love about the business, why you got started, what you hoped to achieve. Go searching for what motivated you in teh first place, you might just find a solid answer amongst the list.

Get inspired – Other people in your busness or your industry will have good reasons for doing what they do, if they are inspired start asking them questions to search for answers that might just suit  you too.

Check the foundations – Just as a building needs solid foundations so to does your business. Have a look at the mission and vision, if you have one, and the values that underpin these. Are any of the values inspiring? If not why not… Ask your team about them and how they work with these or not. Now do what you can to shore up teh foundations and get things right again, the key to your ‘fuzzies’ could well be here.

To do list – Make it big bold and ‘bodacious’ make it so you want to work on it. In the age of techno gadgetry your to do list is probably buried alive in a bunch of ‘apps’ and while it can link to calendars, cook your eggs just right and hail a taxi for you (well almost)… Becuase it’s hidden, it becomes ‘out of sight out of mind’. Generally others can’t see it and that might be useful for some things on the list for others that’s a nuisance. Try a written list on brightly coloured paper for a change.

Set gnarly goals – You know goals can work in some situations, as  a milestone, as a point to aim for as a device to rally the troups with. Select goals your teams can achieve and ones that they can have ownership of, but what about you… what goals are you setting for yourself? Whatever the goals are, gather people around you that can assist you to make them happen. These people can become unreasonable friends or associates who can hold you to a higher performance level than you might be used to, it’s a sure fire way to beat the ‘fuzzies’!

Passion systems are go! – If you were once passionate about your business you might now have some pointers to get you back on track, kow that passion only really works if you have a system to make it work. All of the above points could do that.

Now you have read the six points, what comes to mind for you… A counselling session, a few new ideas, some ‘ah ha!’ moments or soemthing else? Let’s hope that whatever it is it makes sense to you and can provide a solid way forward so you can take the fuzzies on and make some clear decisions about what you want to have happen next.

Regards

Steve Gray

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Retail therapy…

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital photos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles freedigital photos.net

As we come into winter in Australia there are going to be plenty of businesses finding their retail stores are not full of people and hope they can make it through the leaner times with the profits they (hopefully) made during the peak summer months.

On many occasions I have spoken to retailers who say “Oh well what can you do, it gets quieter and you hope for the best, you get on the phone and have a chat to friends, get the juniors to clean up a bit and even open a bit later.”

I have seen many retailers in shopping strips sitting waiting and hoping… some survive some fade away.

How do you get around this issue and ensure your business can make it through tough times and perhaps thrive even though the temperature outside is telling you this really is “the winter of our discontent”.

Add to and ‘milk’ your database – If your business is interesting and has had customers come to your store for those one of a kind items you are known for, then you probably have a database of interested persons. If not then start building one! Make contact and start inviting them in for a fantastic shopping experience. Email and snail mail them AT LEAST 4 times a year (although you can readily do more with Email). Add a subscription service to your website, blog and online store then do everything you can to get people signed up and steadily build your numbers.

Shopping experience – You have a shop… what’s the ‘experience’ like… Do people love your service, your personality, the extras you add on, the items you sell? Or do they just come in because they have to and hate every minute of it. My view… Go for a stunning experience. Figure out how to do that with some brainstorming, internet research and KICK BUTT! – BRILLIANT service should be the first step, great displays, fast transactions, wonderful Staff, acknowledge all people who enter the store with a solid heart felt “Hello!”

Use your time – When it’s quiet in the store, develop your marketing plan and act on it. Devise a HEAP of ways to contact your database, build your database and keep them coming back for as little cost as you can. Email and facebook pages are one way, tweaking your informative and engaging website is another, adding to your web blog is yet another. Oh and here’s a critical one… do not vacuum the floor when people are in the store or anywhere near the store and see you  (or any staff) doing it, I hate it with a vengeance and will avoid the store at all costs (the noise is one thing, the tripping hazard of the cord is another and it’s just plain poor form!)

Get Excited! – If you are running a boring ‘old fart store’ with little life, a gruff disposition and a cold shoulder, prospects will find it hard to want to become customers, let alone repeat shoppers (clients). The more you can add excitement to cause people to want to shop in your store, more the more value you can get from them.

Cause people to take action – Ok so it’s quieter at certain times of the day. Can you run an event (an in-store demonstration or special display) or sponsor a catch up for a small group. Or perhaps you offer great package options you can make happen only at special times, to cause people to come in and stay there for a while. Or what about an in store treasure hunt… each day you could give people clues about where to find the treasure, perhaps online.

Give simple and effective reminders – Promo products can do this, drop a printed pen into their bag of purchases, give then an imprinted gift for purchases over $x. Chat to your friendly branding expert to get more ideas and ways to engage them more often. Add business cards in the bags each time (about 3 each time) people soon keep them for friends if the service is sensational and the experience and products are good.

Create an online shop – People like to buy, so sell to them in a way which fits for them, at home, anywhere in the world! Make it an easy to navigate online shop with Pay Pal as the payment device. And put on those things people can’t really get anywhere else. Avoid discounting the prices, buying is buying! then promote it on your FB page, twit about it, email people overseas and interstate (try to keep your locals shopping LIVE… They will find the online shop soon enough! are there other online or local shops you can connect with? Perhaps they can link to your shop too, you could have a whole community of connected businesses all working together feeding each other leads.

Get out there! – Sitting in your shop will cause  you to go nuts. Get you and your staff out in front and hand out goodies to prospective customers, give business cards,  chocolates “With the compliments of shop X”, a flier, an invitation to an event. (You can have them excited before they even enter the store!)

All of these tips are simply about loving people so they can love you back, and if you love your staff they will love you and the customers, Go on explore ways to give UNCONDITIONAL love to everyone you come into contact with. I think in an ideal world you could get so busy you would have to hire someone to keep this list of innovative connection options happening, as you could be too busy manning the till! Now that would be nice…

 

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What do You Need to be Doing in your Business?

What do you need to be doing in your business? It’s still early enough in the year to be thinking about planning and implementing.

Image courtesy of Kromkathog http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

Image courtesy of Kromkathog http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/

I often think about what I would WANT to be doing in my business, yet the need to’s cut through the wants and nag me to pieces… Often it’s the wants which cause us to go off on inappropriate tangents.

Should you be…

  • Getting more new prospects.
  • Streamlining systems.
  • Finding ways to make things more profitable.
  • Developing cash-flow projections.
  • Looking after existing customers better.
  • Checking OHS issues and risks factors.
  • Implementing a staff happiness program.
  • Developing a marketing plan.
  • Implementing the marketing plan with your friendly branding expert.
  • Tweaking your business plan.
  • Developing your customer service strategies.

You know there are a whole lot more options you need to be doing, so what stops you?

  • Hate to do things which are forced on you?
  • Figure it will go away somehow?
  • You want to hire some one someday who can look after these things for you.
  • Don’t know where to start because the list becomes overwhelming?
  • You refuse to delegate?
  • You like to chat to suppliers rather than face the reality your business might slowly be going down the “gurgler”?

Looking for excuses will not help, you should take control and get the team together and make a list of what needs to be done and hand over as much of it as possible, then get on with doing your part of it.

In the end your business is just that, your business, so it requires you to take on the responsibility which comes with the territory.

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Creative marketing for 2011, will your business win this year?

Its a tough time to be in business, GFC might be over to a degree, but buyers are holding back on spending, the following ideas are sure to get your friendly branding expert chatting and I am sure you will find ways to connect better with existing customers and excite new ones in the process.

Content creation on your website etc is one thing, but getting your target to see it is another. here are a few ways to explore a few pieces of the puzzle and develop a few answers. If nothing else this should be a spring board for your people to come up with some new options, share those in the comments!

  • Build digital communities people want to go to and stay at…. Give them reasons to stay, a gift, a prize and offer, an alliance, a chance to get tokens to build towards a bigger gift. along the way, they get your message.
  • Word Of Mouth as a way to get people to check out your social media information, blogs etc… so make a  you tube video of some people telling each other about your service. Imagine an office where two people are filmed by an apparently “sneaky camera” they talk about some of the benefits of using your biz, they say the biz name poorly at first (so you can’t quite hear it) then it gets clearer over time. have an anonymous you tube acct so it’s not your biz acct, then as they walk off the camera sneaks up and your biz card features on a desk..
  • Hand out your branded gear in an area where you are more likely to get to the sorts of companies which might use your services. Chat to your friendly branding expert for ideas and options.
  • Link a series of approaches together, your linked in group, with your face book page, with your blog, with your website, with your email’s and links on faxes out and adverts with QR codes to a starting point on your website.
  • Have fun doing suitable “stunts” and get media attention which features your website, a “mob event” for example try a creative dance group for some ideas.
  • Provide a suitable enticement via a promotion to get people to head over to your blog and sign up… If they are your target market then great! if not just give them the thing and move on… its a number game.
  • Create a PDF of value to your target market, they can only get after signing up to your blog. advertise it on  your facebook page and linked in group, while twittering about it a few times.
  • Create self qualifying adverts, “When you want what we have go here…” then lead them to your website and give them a reward for doing so.
  • Fortune cookies with a pr code in it to link to a specific page on your website.
  • Create a you tube video with your website featured in it, make it interesting, like have a home movie, or show  a calm and beautiful scene of rolling waves make it short and to the point, heck make a bunch of them, then send links to them via your email list, of course the videos have your website details across the bottom.
  • Load your autoresponder email outs with great tips, hints, ideas and links to your various resources. keep adding to it with brilliant information so they want to stay subscribed.
  • Develop strategic digital partnerships with others who can link to your target market, this way you can get more leverage and be seen as a go to person for resources and ideas.
  • Repetition, repetition,REPETITION!, some things just don’t change! Your adverts need to be seen by people multiple times to be effective… So will it be a branded product, a link to your site, PR codes (more linking…) emails to your targets or all of them! yep do the lot, one of them will be the one which connects!

More ideas you want to share? Use the comments section in the  header for this post to let us know..

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Who’s in… Who’s out? Your business politics.

In your business you will have politics (if you don’t like politics get out of business…) it’s all about who jostles for what position, who has power, who wants what and does what.

Politics is great, as long as it has positive aims and ideas (Check out your mission vision and values, it should reflect these.) Where it goes wrong is when people get a little off centre and the positive aims and ideals get shoved off the agenda (not officially, nor formally) but the various thoughts, discussions and notions taking place have “Hidden agendas” happening.

In the end the negativity connected with this level of “philosophical thought process” ends up down the drain. People get hurt, egos get fractured, casualties can be seen from the front to the back door in a “trail of blood” (more in theory than in reality).

I figure the aim of a leader, manager supervisory type is to curtail the pain before it begins. Let’s take a look at some of the issues you might explore:

  • Is there an “Inner Sanctum”? – This is a group on the “inside” outsiders can not penetrate, even though your values and ideals purport to provide a “fair go” for all. The upshot might be great ideas are not getting past the barrier created by this,  your loss… Take a look and see if there is any, then plot to break it down.
  • How transparent is the organisation? – From providing financials showing the state of play in the org, through to clear systems aiming to support your team (rather than your team feeling unsure about a system and how it works). Making things more transparent shows you are willing to chat about things and let the team know they are a part of the “organism” you have created.
  • What communication does not take place? – Things not discussed are things missed which perhaps should have been chatted about. Ask what are the things the staff chat about… Now take a look at what’s not being said. e.g. if they talk a lot about their favourite team sport but not about the how well the manager is doing, then in the background they could be stabbing them in the back.
  • How are they chatting? – These days email, SMS and the like means the backchat can be happening but you don’t know about it. I know “no news is good news”, and “You never hear good things about yourself” while these are interesting clichés, they are not always true and do you want to live your life by clichés?. Oh and avoid trying to cut out texting at work and private emails, they will do it anyway after hours or at lunch on their smart-phones. The aim, to allow them to do it with the aim of it being constructive.
  • How are they anyway? – The people on the “outer” that is, one or two casual chats will be met with a degree of scepticism “what do they want?” rather than an open conversation where they tell all. Your aim is to have all of your team “Onside” so it’s up to you to build an open and trusting relationship so they can feel comfortable sharing with you in a way which means you will not “rat” on them or use it against them. Keep your chats light and breezy, show you care and remember details (names, places and the like as reference points) and chat about them not so much about you! (that’s a gem!)

In time you can build an organisation which can stand on it’s own feet, knowing the right people are supporting everyone to be their best. Not a team of “Cronies” who aim to create more “Jobs for the boys” and exclude information and ideas. It will take work, it will take a critical eye, it will take you out of your comfort zone, hopefully the end product will be great for all concerned.

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Elegant service communication

I love it when I meet people who chat about things of instant interest to me. Recently I got chatting with a person about service, particularly the first few delicate moments when you connect with people in that all important exchange where you aim to connect and attain an idea of what they want from your business.

The chat started with the difference between “May I and Can I…” May I assist you, or Can I assist you, what happened next was a BFO, (Blinding Flash of the Obvious).

You see it was so simple when he explained it. “Imagine you are at the top of a cliff and your task is to push someone off, would you say “Can I push you off or may I push you off…” ” Can I”, relates to skill and “May I” relates to permission to do a thing.” I was engaged in the conversation now, what a great hook! Yes he clearly knew his English and the lesson was simple but so good. Actually on thinking about it none of the above would get you far in the pushing stakes but it makes a point also about service being more about offering, rather than demanding. Chances are you would not ask a person if they wanted to be pushed!

I asked him for a view on my old favourite, “help and Assist” he agreed, Help is needed when you are in dire straits, assistance is softer and more readily taken up unconsciously. So many people will say “Just looking thanks” when you offer help, but more people take up an offer of assistance “May I assist you…”

It could go further you could say “May I assist you to find what you are after today?” That way you are being specific about what you are offering. Without the specifics it is so open you might get in a bit of a bind, like this… ‘May I assist  you?” asks the store attendant… “Oh yes, you can give me a million dollars, that would be great assistance…” replies the customer.

Take the time out to consider the small things like this which may impact on people  you deal with so the service you offer is as elegant and correct as possible. We also chatted briefly about G’day as a greeting, I will leave that one for another article.

Well time got the better of our conversation too quickly and circumstances meant we had to part ways, all I can hope is that I said goodbye in an elegant manner!

On providing great service, “I don’t know if you can but you may…” 🙂

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Is your business happy?

Yes it’s a serious question, is your business happy, when you get there at the start of the day are you happy about being there? Are the staff happy too…

If not what’s missing?

– Great projects to work on.

– Great clients.

– Great workspace…

One way or another things may not be quite what you want to make the business a happy place to be. Insert a happiness officer and invite them to find out how things could be happier in the workplace.

Perhaps start with the list above and see if things evolve from there.

Take Action!

Get the happiness officer and perhaps a few others to figure out some ways to break the “sad” cycle.. and get happy.

  • Try a google search of ideas for a happy workplace, make a list of a few you can implement now (at low cost).
  • Ask how to make meetings fun, then have one just for the hell of it and see if you can get people to laugh (for all the RIGHT reasons…)
  • Have a fun morning tea (no need to get elaborate just yet just have fun).

Guidelines

  • Having fun at someones expense is only short term and useless, one’s pain is NOT another’s gain.
  • Keep it cheap and “cheerful”, quick and easy… Organisation should take the shortest time possible to keep it hassle free.
  • Try moving the job about so the whole team can be the happiness person.
  • Jokes sent via email is not really a bonding option, it’s more localised but funny quotes might be a different option, sparking debate perhaps.
  • Give out laughter awards, simple and easy a great way to keep the team engaged in the whole idea and boost morale!
  • Push for creative and innovative options, you might just find some great ways to lighten the mood at work and keep things pumped and effective.

That’s it for now, let us know what sorts of things you come up with in our comments…

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