learning

Dec 302014
 

fearFear is a natural feeling.

It told cavemen and women to run away from something dangerous. But we’re not cavemen or women now and having some fear is healthy. We should feel afraid when a gun is pointed at us. It’s only unhealthy when you feel so much of it that it stops you from acting.

It’s normal to be afraid when you’re starting or running your business. Fear acts as your guard at the gate of your comfort zone. But getting out of your comfort zone especially in business is a good thing.

Letting those fears stop you is a bad thing. Using them to transform your business and you IN your business is good. Here are some ideas of how to use them

1. Fear of being judged. Needing approval from family, friends or clients in order to do something is bad.

Each time you catch yourself wondering what others would think than try what I learned from Jack Canfield in 1992. Look into your eyes in the mirror and say “I approve of me.” It works.

2. Fear of rejection. This can happen with every sales call, newsletter, followup or offer – the core activities of business.

Rejection is just a no. Don’t take it as being a rejection of you. You actually want rejection as a business owner so you can learn from it. If you’re not experiencing rejection, you’re probably not getting clients.

3. Fear of embarrassment. Think of a public mistake someone else made. Did they acknowledge it? What happened? You probably said or thought that it was nothing and then carried on. Be easy on yourself too just as you were to them.

4. Fear of the unknown. This is probably the biggest fear of all for a business owner.

Remember that business builders have had fears and failures, and then needed to dig deep to find the courage, motivation and willingness to keep moving forward with their dream. Even when it wasn’t easy. Remember that you’re not alone.

Don’t let fear stop you from moving forward.

Take small steps and take actions which move you toward your goals.  Don’t let yourself wallow in your fear and tell yourself scary stories.

Do this …

one stepPick one of your goals for the next year. Now think about one step that you can take over the next week to get started now and start building positive momentum immediately.

Don’t worry about thinking beyond that one step. It will inevitably lead to a second, then a third. Just take the first one. You’ll already be way ahead of the alternative – which was the inaction that your fears caused.

Go from fear to triumph.

What have you tried that worked? Tell us so others can benefit from it.

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 December 30, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Sep 032014
 

Words are everything.

wordsWords make books worth sharing, movies worth watching, stories worth listening to and blog posts worth reading.

When I was in elementary school I always won spelling bees (I would “see” the word in my head and then read the letters). To me words are integral to my love of reading. Words make speaking and writing inspiring, flowery, dramatic, funny, mysterious, entertaining, or help one to understand a concept.

That’s why we need to choose them carefully. Have you seen the spoof that “Weird Al” Yankovic did? It’s called “Word Crimes“. Watch it now. Good, isn’t it.

It really bothers me when I see spelling errors or the wrong use of a word anywhere. Since as business owners we all have a website and many of us blog we must learn what words to use that make sure our posts are read. I read the content but am distracted by spelling or incorrect use of a word or words. I guess it’s “in my genes” or maybe because I attended school in the 50s and 60s or …. enough excuses. It’s just bad editing. People rely on spellcheckers too much or they don’t review before they hit the “publish” button.

Nowadays (since texting on cell phones and twitter became so popular) young people use u instead of you or ur instead of you’re. What is the world coming to?

The words we use reflect us – our culture and what we want to project. What do you want people to see? We’re careful with our clothes because people make judgements of us based on them so why don’t we do the same with the words we use?

Here are a few pairs of words to look at.

  • Can or will. If you use can it implies ability. Use will.
  • Community or associates . What do you mean?
  • Consulting or coaching. This is a big one. When I look at coach I assume you know it already and a coach draws it out of you. A consultant however tells you what to do.
  • Work or job – People see different meanings for each and that depends on their experience, doesn’t it?
  • Member or attendee.
  • Network meeting or gathering or …

A word’s meaning depends a lot on how you want be seen and on the reader’s experiences. Choose your words wisely.

What has your experience been? Are you a careful writer?

photo credit: navets via

 September 3, 2014  Posted by  Books I'm reading, Business Basics Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Jun 062014
 

business coachThe other day I was at a networking meeting and someone was talking about having had a business coach and how that person helped her grow her business. I thought about how to choose the right coach for you.

Here is what to do to pick the ideal coach for you and your small business.

  1. Choose the kind you need. There is a business coach, a life coach, one for marketing, social media, technology, for finance and more. What do you need?
  2.  Ask people you trust for referrals. Who have THEY used?
  3. Interview at least three coaches. Remember to ask for names of their clients and permission to call them and then do it. It’s just like getting a job. Would you take the first person you meet?
  4. Do you have anything different or unusual about you? For example, I’m disabled now (in 2005 I had a stroke which meant I can’t do public speaking as I used to) so I ask if they have any experience with my type of disability.
  5. Trust not only their credentials, education and experience but your heart and your “gut feeling”. When I had small businesses with employees and there were two with a very similar resume, I went by how I felt about each one.

These five ideas will get you started. What’s YOUR experience with coaches been? Have they helped or hindered you and your business?

Image courtesy of Omhega1982 / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 June 6, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Coaching Tagged with: ,  2 Responses »
May 072014
 

garden centerThe other day I went out with a friend to get some plants for my balcony. It was a simple task … and as always I was watching and learning what I could (for business and life).

Three things I learned that can be used in business

1. learn by doing it yourself. There was a child of about 8 or 9 putting three letters he had in the post box. He could barely reach the opening but his mom stood by and let him put each one in by himself. (use in your training – both in person and in webinars)

2. ask for what you want. We talked to a saleswoman outside at a garden centre that the grocery store puts up each year about pots to put our purchases in. She said they had none. We asked if she had clear saucers to put under each pot and she said yes, but we’d have to go inside the store to the plant section and get them there.
While we were inside the store we asked another saleswoman for these ‘plant saucers’ which we bought. We then told her about our need for pots and that they had none outside. She told us that the store had a program whereby people could bring in their used pots and get a credit against plant purchases. The outside salesperson hadn’t told us that — poor staff communication. My friend went back and got three pots ‘for free’! (use all the time for whatever you want. People can say yes or no – you never know.)

3. go out of your way to be helpful. The woman inside the store (unbeknownst to us) went outside to the plant centre to remind the woman working there about the returned pots. And you can see that we had got three! (use in customer service)

Whether you’re out personally or doing business remember these things.

Do you? Tell me what can be added.

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 May 7, 2014  Posted by  Business Basics, Client Service Tagged with:  2 Responses »
Apr 022014
 

art or scienceThe question should be asked as often as possible. I think Seth Godin‘s blog posr (I get them delivered to my inbox regularly) answers this.

He begins by writing “It’s both, and that’s the problem. ….Some marketers are scientists. They test and measure. They do the math….The other marketers are artists. They inspire and challenge and connect..” We need both, don’t we.

Read what he has to say … Is Marketing an Art or Science?

Good. It makes you look at your marketing in a new way? Tell me what YOU think!!

 

photo credit: Capture Of Dreams via photopin cc

 April 2, 2014  Posted by  Marketing Basics, Marketing Mindset Tagged with:  No Responses »
Feb 052014
 

hairdresserMen will look at this title and say this is a post for women but there are some very good customer service activities ANYONE can do in their business.

Know and use the client’s name

I take a taxi to the hairdresser from the same company each time. I chose this company because it didn’t charge a fee for using their wireless device when I use my credit card. Now I have found more reasons to keep using them.

The dispatcher knows my name and address when I call from home (I know that this is available to everyone now – a technology feature). She says “Hi Trudy. Is that a pickup up at (my address)” which is  friendly.

But when the hairdresser calls in for me when I’ve finished and the dispatcher asks “is that for Trudy?” she and I smile broadly at each other. That’s why I stay with them.

Ask if the client would like a coffee or tea

Someone asks, “Would I like a drink of something?”  This is another way they show me friendliness. They remember what I had last time, too. They bring me back a little something extra. In the case of my hairdresser it was a “sweet treat”. (They also remember that I have a sweet tooth.)

Listen

I know this is one of the reasons I (and many other women) go back to the same hairdresser for years. She listens – with interest. And not only does she listen to me but I do to her. We become “part of the family”. My hairdresser truly cares about what I do.

Not only does my hairdresser do these things – listen, care, remember, ask – but every one of her staff does, too. Could you add this kind of customer service to your business? It makes me a loyal client who goes back over and over.

 

Trudy Van BuskirkWhat do you do to care for your clients?

This is a photo of me at the hairdresser’s in Sept 2008. I was trying to look “professional”.

photo credit: Wm Jas via photopin cc

 February 5, 2014  Posted by  Client Service Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Aug 222013
 

Margaret PenderMargaret Pender of Doggone Right  and I met in the 1980s when we were both members of the Elmwood Club for Women here in Toronto (It’s now the Elmwood Spa). We were on committees together and got to know each other quite well. She was a real estate agent then. Years passed and we met again at the Beaches chapter of the now defunct Women in a Home Office networking group at the Ashbridges’ Bay Yacht Club. I was surprised to learn about her current business as a dog obedience trainer – I never knew :-) (There’s networking again!)

We of course had a lot to tell each other but as old associates do, we connected quickly and easily.

She’s always been an animal lover and owner. She told me that her home when she was growing up was like a menagerie. She searched for her passion and took what had been just a hobby, made it a business and became a business owner again. You’ll hear a lot more detail in our interview recording.

Click below to hear our interview. If you want to save a version to listen to at a later time, click where you see “Download MP3″.

Margaret can be reached via phone at 416-690-2793 here in Toronto or by email at info@doggoneright.ca

Her website is doggoneright.ca . You may ask her any questions about her services and you may even use her. She’s very accessible and will call or email back right away. If you have a dog and want humane training (self esteem for your dog) – call her.

I interview these women business owners to demonstrate to you that YOU CAN DO ANYTHING!

Who would YOU recommend I interview? Who is an inspiration to you?

 August 22, 2013  Posted by  Women Business Owner Interviews Tagged with: ,  No Responses »
Jun 132013
 

The world has changed – as it always does and we in business must keep up if we want to be successful (no matter how we define success for us). Offline marketing has become online marketing – or has it? Do you need both? I think so.

Technology has REALLY changed. I remember (I’m 63 now in 2013) co-owning an Apple computer dealership in the 1980s and a conference company in the 1990s where we held events for people who used what were then called hand-held computers (PDAs). We were always at the “bleeding edge” of technology (just before the “leading edge” – always in the red and not making money but always the first to know about things).

When we had the computer dealership we had:

  • one of the first fax machines (as big as a small photocopier but with very few others having one and therefore no one to send things to),
  • one of the first cell phones (the battery for this was the size of a car battery and the handset like that of an “older” phone

And when we ran the conference company we were:

  • one of the first to use the internet to market with our “email blasts” which were formerly “fax blasts” (some people had email addresses but most companies didn’t have websites yet)

Times continued to evolve and with this came what was then a revolution (we even produced a print booklet called A Revolution in the Making which in 1984 took 6 weeks to produce even though we had the latest desktop publishing software at that time) that caused all of us to transform ourselves and our thinking.

In fact my nephew who is 23 now and studying at Ryerson University and producing art by paint and on computer, films on his Macintosh and photos with his digital camera and his cell phone is a great testament to this transformation. He is of the generation who grew up with and used all technology. He even had access to my brother’s Macintosh when he was a baby. 

(From left to right: my brother Phil, his son Jake – the one I write about here and my other nephew Josh who’s 30+ now and has been in the computer business since he was 17.)

But I digress :-)

There are at least 6 ways in which online marketing is different from offline marketing and here they are. One just needs a computer, a hookup to the Internet and a browser such as Firefox or Internet Explorer.

  1. Speed – one can do EVERYTHING faster. Once you have set yourself up, input some data you can send it at the “touch of a finger”
  2. Cost – EVERYTHING costs less or is free (do you know of the book   Free: The Future Of A Radical Price )   – audio and video production and even payment processing
  3. Reach – one can make contact (for free) with many contacts both locally and globally
  4. Measurement & Tracking – one can easily get access to key metrics with ad trackers, newsletter openings, website analytics etc.
  5. Easy to do marketing –  one can “do it yourself” (if you’re not a technophobe AND have the time)
  6. “Abundant”  information at your fingertips – with most search engines like google or Ask one can search for and find anything – anywhere in the world. Remember that this info has the caveat of buyer beware as does any info you find online)

How has this blog made you think – you “technophobes” who didn’t grow up with technology?

Here is access to the other post I wrote  13 Ways Offline and Online Marketing Are The Same

Compare the two and tell me what you think. I’m VERY interested in what everyone has to say!

Jan 092013
 

For those who don’t go to a “bulk grocery store” you’d be surprised at what they sell there. They have the usual – nuts (did you know that here in Ontario if you buy the unsalted type there is no sales tax?), raisins, coffee beans, tea bags, flour, etc in bulk – but they have other groceries as well. Where I go they sell organic cereal and baking materials!

OK. My anecdote ….

Recently I got some things at the “Bulk Barn” – a chain in Toronto. I  had spent a bunch of money (as you do) and when I was at the checkout, the girl there gave me a gift certificate. I wasn’t expecting it and therefore didn’t spend/ buy accordingly – it was a surprise!

I knew it was to get me to come back (a type of marketing) but because I wasn’t expecting it, and the checkout person smiled as she gave it to me, it was a joy.

I smiled as I received it :-)

Do you give your customers gifts even if they have “strings” attached? This event made me think  about my own business and what I could give to my clients to get repeat business — or referrals — or even to  have clients remember me and talk about me.  HMMMM ….

What do you do to get your clients to keep coming back?

P.S. One Christmas my hairdresser gave me a gift certificate for a haircut at her shop. A very welcome surprise :-)

 photo credit: st_gleam via photopin cc

Oct 232012
 

school teacherYou’ve probably been a schoolteacher if you’re a boomer woman over 55.  I was born in 1950 when women had three career choices. You could be a school teacher, a secretary or a nurse. I chose to be a teacher since I knew that I wouldn’t be one forever.

From university on, I wanted to have my own business. Little did I know then that teaching would give me the skills I’d use as a business owner. I taught for 8 years from 1972 to 1980. in the summer of 1978 I taught how to use computers in the classroom as a course BEFORE you needed credentials to teach it to other teachers. Nancy Murray a Superintendent in the Windsor Separate School Board took a risk on me. I had 40 teachers in my class that summer. That was the beginning of my self employment journey. I’d started.

Being a teacher is one of the best things you can do. Many of us have been teachers and most don’t know that teaching prepares you to become an entrepreneur who starts and runs your own business. Here are some of the many skills that teaching gave us.woman business owner

  1. being “teachable” and therefore learning what you need to know through professional development.
  2. short term and long term planning. (Do teachers still create “day plans” and “weekly plans”?)
  3. running a large group. When I started in 1972 I had 42 students in my first year. Did that ever prepare me!
  4. risk taking
  5. persistence
  6. patience
  7. goal setting. You set goals not only for yourself each year but especially if you taught special education as I did, you set goals for each individual student as well.
  8. speaking to a group. You know how to speak to a group and if you had the courage you also spoke to larger groups of your peers.
  9. educating!!!
  10. how people learn (3 modalities). As a teacher it was automatic for you to know this but those who didn’t teach learned it later — if they were lucky :-)
  11. how to research offline and online
  12. “reading, writing and of course arithmetic”
  13. creativity. You had to “make do with what you had” and therefore if you didn’t have something you used your creativity to make what you needed from what you had.
  14. listening to and knowing the individual needs of your students/ clients
    … and of course …
  15. being your own boss (I guess that’s why I liked Special Education so much.)

I could go on and on. Do you see how as a teacher you have the skills needed as a business owner? What you don’t know yet is how to start a business but you know how to learn, don’t you? Well that’s all you need. I and most entrepreneurs didn’t take courses on how to start a business. They (and I) learned what we needed as we went along by trial and error. Sure we made mistakes. Didn’t your students when they were learning? We read books, took classes, attended conferences and hired coaches.

Take a risk and start your own business. Ask for help when you need it. And keep learning. That’s what keeps us young!

Just do it as the Nike slogan says. What else would you add to this list?

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