Business Tips

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    • 20 Dec 2004 1:55 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      As we near the close of an old year and look with anticipation towards a new year, I challenge all of us to break the old habits and old beliefs, and open up to a new way of thinking.

      Many of us have been taught and raised using a very traditional business model.

      But the world is changing faster than we could have ever imagined, as are peoples attitudes and thinking. And we must learn to think ahead, and be innovative in all that we do in order to keep up.

      Over the past 6 months we have continually offered business information that is on the leading edge. Not everyone agrees with the changing face of business, but I can assure you that it is a better way to do business!

      Firstly, women are leading an ever increasing crowd of dissatisfied employees, to break out of careers and jobs that conflict with their personal values and family lives. These women are YOU. You are seeking work that has meaning, and is fulfilling to you. You are considering what it is that you do best and how you can offer this to the world. And you are creating businesses around your faith, your hopes your beliefs and your families. This in and of itself is changing the face of the business community.

      Secondly, in offering the world your work, you are building alliances that are forming ‘success teams’. Recognizing that we can all help each other to achieve our goals promotes good will within businesses and the consumer and client sees this. It encourages customer loyalty, and fills niche needs that are not being addressed by larger businesses.

      Thirdly, you are not allowing your businesses to define who you are. In fact you are defining your work by who you are. And this makes for truly unique businesses with ‘service’ as one of the main focuses. Everyone benefits from this- you, you families, your communities, and your clients.

      Finally, your contribution to the economy is staggering. Many of us do not immediately see the value we contribute to the economy. But when you consider the fact that as a business person you keep more of your before tax dollars than if you were employed full time, and then have them to spend, it creates a ripple effect. Even if it seems to you that you are not getting rich, or making a lot of money, you are also employing smaller businesses to help yours grow, and all of you are growing together.

      The challenge for all of us is taking the next step- change how you are thinking about your business. I encourage you to really examine what your are thinking about. Do you think success, or do you concentrate you thinking on the problems that you encounter? Are you actively looking for opportunities? Are you speaking positive things and repeating affirmations? It has been proven over and over that what we think, we manifest. It works in self healingand it also works in our financial well being. If we have success thinking, we manifest success. If we believe we deserve wealth and success, then we manifest behaviours that support the belief, and we reap the rewards.

      Are you taking the time to learn the things that you need to learn to promote your own success? Are you asking the universe to provide all that you need? It is there for your taking, you must just ask for and expect that you will receive it. Do you want to grow, or are you content where you are? If you do want to grow- I encourage to walk the walk.

      - Read books- we recommend great books here on this site
      - Take workshops and seminars- learn the things you need to grow. We offer 10 great workshops for your growth.
      - Help others, and encourage others in all that you do.
      - Look for win-win alliances.
      - Ask for help.
      - Hang around with people who challenge you, speak truth to you and who are mores successful than you.
      - Find a mentor.

      Success depends on you and your thinking. Break the old barriers that keep you in the competitive and needy mode. If you have not yet read, “The One minute Millionaire”, please order it from us. It started many on a journey that has propelled them into an entirely new way of thinking. Many of our teachings revolve around the ideas and beliefs of this great book.

      Have a great holiday season. We anticipate great things for all of us in this new year!
    • 13 Dec 2004 1:57 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      It has been said that people fear public speaking second only to dying. Speaking to one or more people though is often the way that we generate interest in our business- both products and services. In fact, unless you hire a PR person to do all of your presentations, it will be the only way that you get the word out.

      Last week we talked about telling people what we do in 10 words or less. It is very important that we present our information quickly in a way that is easy for others to understand. No jargon, no industry specific phrases.

      Finding just the right words that address the prospective client’s problem takes thought and learning to say it so that it comes naturally takes practice. However sometimes we are required to make presentations to more than one person at a time, and for some, that is a scenario they want to avoid at all costs.

      One of the ways to begin honing up your presentation skills is to offer to speak to small groups of people about your business. Church Coffee groups, small offices, social groups and volunteer organizations are but a few of the places that I advocate speaking and doing presentations for free. It is a great way to get the word out about your business, and many of the groups are grateful for the information that you provide for them.

      Another reason you may be required to make a presentation is for applying for a business loan, or offering investors an opportunity to invest in your business. Workshops are also a good source of income, and sometimes people would much rather take a workshop and learn how to do what you do rather than hire you to do it. ( Always be willing to give this information away in the form of seminar or workshop. In this way you capture the interest of people who may have never been your client.)

      Any way you look at it, there is going to come a time when you must make a presentation.So instead of planning your demise, try using these helpful and hints ideas.

      1. Relax and think of the presentation as giving of yourself - not formal presentations. Really all you are doing is sharing your knowledge to help others.
      2. Dress comfortably and conservatively. No low cut blouses or uncomfortable shoes. Wear your hair up so that it is not falling in your face
      3. Practice your presentation in front of a mirror, or video tape it. Notice how often you move your hands or fiddle with your hair. Relax - your audience is friendly.
      4. Test your equipment several times before you use it. Be familiar with the technology you will be using
      5. If you are using Power Point to present use the 10/20/30 rule. 10 Slides. 20 minutes. 30 point font.
      6. Use a blue or dark background. It easier on the eyes.
      7. Do not hand out or write down all you are going to say. List the major points and then elaborate.
      8. Know your subject. Presentations go much more easily when you know what you are speaking about.
      9. Invite questions. Do not worry if you do not have the answers right away. You can offer to follow up and find the correct answer.
      10. Relax and BREATHE. Drink plenty of water before the presentation. This can be fun if you make the decision to have fun.

      The ability to get your message across is not easy for some to learn – but we all can do it. Face it, it is a lot easier to talk to 10 people at once then to speak to each one individually. What usually frightens people is that they think that what they do has to be perfect. In fact we are often striving to be as good as the last professional speaker that we heard at an event, not realizing that it may have taken that person years to get where they are now. Get rid of the perfectionism, and just decide to give good easy to understand information

      Giving presentations can be a lot of fun, and the more you do it the more fun it becomes. If you think of it as helping to educate people, and give them great information, it becomes so much easier.
    • 06 Dec 2004 2:00 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      Last week we talked about positioning yourself in the market, and briefly mentioned how you articulate that. Knowing exactly what you do and what you customer needs can help you ‘say’ what it is that you do. Can you tell me what you do in ten words or less? (And if you can, then what?)

      This is what is called your short pitch or your interrupt. It should attract attention, peak interest and help others to envision what you do in short order. It always helps if your business has a great name that describes your activities. For example: I help people get the best price when selling their home with my company ‘Staged For Sale’. Wow, now that really tells someone what you do. It leaves no doubt in your mind what the service is and helps the acquaintance quickly know if they need your services or not.

      This is where the conversation either begins or ends. If it begins, you can begin to relax and answer questions. However if after your brief intro, there is silence, pull out your card and hand it to the person and say, “My name is _____”, and what is it that you do?

      As uncomfortable as this feels, if you do it with a smile and friendly tone, you will be pleasantly surprised at the response. And a contact is made.

      After you know who you are speaking to, ask the next important question, “who are you looking for?’ or “who could I refer you to?”. This not only helps you to see how you can connect that person to potential clients, and shows them that you are not in the conversation to ‘sell them’.

      If they have not already given you their card, ask them for it. If they do not have one, get another one of yours out and ask them to write their business information on it so that you can have it for referral purposes.

      Many people have a lot of trouble with both introducing themselves and what they do. The second problem they have is learning how to begin the conversation to make the connection. Both take practice. The few people who are good at it, are good at it because they have practiced, over and over. Studies show that repeating your message 20 times makes you feel comfortable. Repeating your message 40 times makes it seem natural. People do not practice this short pitch often enough. They feel silly looking in the mirror talking to themselves. But it is what makes you the best.

      To perfect your short pitch:
      1) Write out exactly what you do in common terms.
      2) Reduce it down to the simplest of forms
      3) Use it in a sentence form to answer the question, “What do you do?”

      Practice until it feels like the most natural thing in the world to say.
    • 29 Nov 2004 2:02 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      How often have you really considered how you have positioned yourself? Most often when we hear such a buzzword, we think about the strategic positioning of a large company. However, positioning is critical to the success of a small business – even more so than a large organization that can ride the tide of changes in economy and trends in the marketplace. So what is positioning?

      Positioning represents:

      -Why you started your business
      -Why customers should patronize you
      -Why good people should work for you.


      Simplified, it is “what do you do?” and “how do you do it better?”

      As a business you should know what it is that you do. Can you state your business in 10 words or less, or do you have difficulty explaining what it is that you do? It is very important that you are able to state clearly your position. Forget about lengthy explanations with industry specific buzz words. People may nod and smile, but have you really told them what you do?

      A Printer may tell you that he can provide you with full color printing on digital equipment and name the industry specific process or he can simply state, “I make you look good on paper”. For a mortgage broker it can be as simple as “I help people buy homes.” This is language that everyone understands. Sometimes as you immerse yourself in your industry it is difficult to see that you are using jargon that people may not understand. Write out what you do, and then begin to simplify it, until you have it down to a simple appealing phrase.

      The next step in positioning yourself is identifying how you do it better, or why customers should buy from you. As a smaller business, the trick here is not to appeal to everyone. In fact by trying to be everything to everyone, you lose focus, and you lose your edge. As a small business find a niche market - somewhere you can specialize. You are then too small to worry the bigger guys and they are unlikely to seek out a small niche market. Become successful in that market, and then expand to a second niche market. This is how you can effectively grow your organization.

      Be specific as you target your customer.
      In one short sentence you should be able to address their needs. Your customer should know immediately that you are targeting them. For example using vague words like “We earn money for our clients by providing quality investments” how about “We help young families save for their retirement.” Now that is pretty specific about what you do and it also addresses your target market.

      If you are having difficulty understanding whether or not people know what you do, ask a friend or a peer what you do. Often many of them really do not know. If you have more than one person in your organization – ask them what you do as a company. They are often able to tell you in a much more simplified way what you are all about.

      Finally, remember, what you do – is for your customers, not yourself. Remember their role in the success of your company. If you are constantly telling them what a good job you are doing, you are not addressing their concerns. They do not care if you are the ‘leading’ organization or the fastest growing. They want to know what you can do for them. Leave the ego-centric conversations for after hours with your employees. (over a beer)

      Take some time this week and answer these questions:
      What do you do?
      Why should people buy from you?
      Redefining your position in the market place can give you a clear picture of how to better build your business.
    • 21 Nov 2004 2:05 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      It sounds simple- right? You are where you THINK you are! And it is simple but do we practice it? Of course we are where we think we are! The question is where do you think you are?

      It’s a principle I talk about all the time. Everything we do, we create in our minds before we do anything. The cars we drive, the house we live in all began as a thought in someone’s mind. Our minds are incredible tools, machines that are efficient and creative. But did you know that all the things we do, even things as simple as tying our shoes, our brain completes before we do them. It may be as simple as your brain replaying the tape that tells you how to tie your shoe, that we do not notice playing in the background of our consciousness. It is simple. We manifest what we think.

      How often have you struggled on your journey to reach a goal or a dream? Many of us spend time planning how we will achieve our ‘success’. And we trudge on, keeping our eye on the goal, or the reward of reaching the goal. We make progress, year after year we get closer and closer. However, what we do not realize is that instead of spending so much time concentrating on what is going on around us in each small situation, we need to realize and see that what we want to become we already are. And wherever we want to go, we are already there.

      \"I want to open a chapel where I can perform marriage ceremonies in a non denominational setting that is serene and beautiful, and reminds people of their creator\" is what my friend told me. We talked for a while about where she wanted to be. Then I looked her right in the eye and told her, \"You are already there.\" She looked at me at first in disbelief. She told me she could see the place in her mind, she could smell it, feel the breeze outside the chapel. There was no doubt she had the visualization part down pat. However, visualization is only part of it. What she need to do, was to involve her belief.

      And so I repeated to her, \"You are already there.\" We are where we believe we are. She continued to look at me and I could see her eyes well up with tears. She was quiet. She looked at me with the amazement and finally said \"I am! You are right I am already there.\" It is her belief that she is already there that will set into motion all the things that needed to happen for her to ‘be there’.

      In reality what happens here, is we place ourselves in our minds somewhere ahead of ourselves in reality. The universe will provide for us. However if we believe we are already ahead of where we physically appear to be - the universe must catch up. If we are there in our minds, and we have completed the journey, then the present time has to catch up with us. Things begin to fall into place that got us to where we already believe we are. In a way it is like time travel, or quantum physics. But don’t let those thoughts complicate things.

      It really is simple. We manifest what we think. If you think and believe you have reached your destination, you will be amazed to see how you really have. Don’t let yourself get caught up in the daily trials and tribulations and the struggles of the journey. They have already been taken care of. Begin to see what you are in the future, and you cannot help but manifest the behaviours that got you there! Now that is quantum success thinking!

      \"To fly as fast as thought, to be anywhere there is, you must first begin by knowing you are already there\" Fletcher Bird from Jonathon Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach)
    • 15 Nov 2004 2:08 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      Business growth is often dependant on the application of time, effort and education. The application of time and the patience is the part many of us have the most trouble with. Effort is often the easy part! But what about education? Where do we find the right information to help our businesses grow.

      Many of us think of education in a limited context. We might take bookkeeping courses, business management courses or even industry specific type workshops and seminars. What we may not consider, is just learning something different. Yes, do something unrelated. Take a course in something that catches your interest that has nothing to do with your business.

      This is the best way that I know to challenge ourselves to grow and in the end provides a change of scenery that often gives us inspiration and outside input into what we do. In fact it is the first step to thinking outside the box. Who would even consider that a basket weaving course could help with out printing business, or that joining a running club would give us inspiration for a mortgage business!

      Doing something unrelated to your business does three things. It provides us with balance in out lives. It introduces us to new and diverse contacts. And finally it provides a bit of pressure release from the daily grind, gives us something different to think about and concentrate on. All three of these things can grow our business.

      Last week I happened past an open door, an opportunity, to take a ski instructors course. I thought, "Why not? I love to ski, I love to teach…maybe this will get me out of the office on the weekend and provide a little balance in my life." And so I took a leap and decided it was time for me to stretch. Three days into the course I experienced the 'what did I do this for?' feeling. And by the end of the fourth day, I was ready to quit. But on the fifth morning, I got up and my muscles felt better, and my brain was finally beginning to put together all the bits an pieces of information that until that point were like unrelated puzzle pieces. My confidence began to grow. And once again I realized, effort, time and commitment could pay off.

      These kinds of experiences help to build our confidence and raise our endurance level. It also helps teach us to take risks. We begin to realize that our fears are often unfounded and based on lack of information and understanding. Further benefits include learning to deal with frustrations and forces us to deal with people other than those we may come in contact with every day. We not only learn new tasks and exercises, we learn more about people and people skills.

      Next time you are feeling a little uninspired or worn out, consider doing something a little different. Try something new. Have some fun and learn to laugh. Understand that all work and no play can make you a very dull person. You will be surprised at what you learn and how that can help you grow and consequently you can apply some new growth concepts to your business!
    • 08 Nov 2004 2:10 PM | Mandie Crawford (Administrator)
      Nothing is more uncertain than tomorrow. And for many of us this makes it very difficult to make decisions today. I often hear many people worrying aloud about what tomorrow will or won't bring. They live from day to day or week to week grabbing all the business that they can - worrying that it will soon run out.

      "That was my last contract…I have no business waiting for me" is a common thought among those of us who may be just starting out, or whose businesses are not firmly established. What they fail to realize is that fear is what will stagnate their growth.

      Our businesses growth depends upon our vision and our belief, not our hindsight and our fears. It is important to step out in faith and in fact walk a little faster towards our goals as soon as we feel that fear of uncertainty creeping into our thoughts. We must have faith that we will have business tomorrow, the next day and the next. Fear will paralyze us and keep us from seeing reality.

      I myself have suffered form the fear of uncertainty. Expanding my business to a new town seemed riskier that I had imagined as soon as I arrived in town. I could have sat down and cried- and admittedly felt like it on several occasions. Instead I set out feverishly to open boxes, set up internet and get things up and running. I began to search out places to attend to network and even scheduled my first workshop. This gave me the opportunity to be pro-active instead of reacting to my fears. The rewards were almost immediate. That does not mean that I have completely eliminated doubt and fear, however, I did not choose to heed it.

      In order to grow both personally and professionally we have to challenge ourselves constantly. If we experience and overcome the fear of uncertainty- one thing is certain and that is that we are growing. It may involve risk, but we must have faith that we can overcome the obstacles that we will encounter. We must believe that we can do it. However will we convince a client that we can take care of things if we cannot even convince ourselves? It all begins with belief.

      If you are having difficulty with uncertainty and self belief or suffer from fears and cannot seem to take risks, here are a few tips:

      Surround yourself with supportive people- their belief in you will rub off.
      Take small risks to begin with and increase them as you become more comfortable.
      Map out your future- be where you want to be in your mind instead of putting yourself in the place where you are trying to be somewhere.
      Look fear and uncertainty in the face- what would be the worst thing that would happen if you failed- it can't be all that bad.
      Nothing is more uncertain than tomorrow- but we go to bed each night knowing the sun will rise, and we will get up an begin our day. We believe it will happen, and it does. Try using this philosophy in your thinking about your business. Take some risks and watch it grow!
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