Category Archives: Customer

Five Tips For Keeping Your Business Growing On Your Vacation

7.8.15It’s that time of year again.  Many solo entrepreneurs are ready to go on vacation.  They dream of white beaches, pleasant hikes, and hanging in a hammock on a tropical island.  They plan to come back to work refreshed and renewed, but often they return to work more stressed out than before they left.  Usually that’s because they didn’t plan how to manage their business while they were away.  And the result of no planning was tropical stress—there were no pleasant times spent lying in a hammock—there was work and frustration on a tropical island.

In order to help you avoid the stress of vacating, plan ahead and try these following five tips to insure that your vacation is just as you envisioned it.

  1. Plan to take your vacation during your business slow season; you know when that is for your business.  Stress will be reduced if you know that your potential clients aren’t really thinking about services anyway.
  2. Let your clients know beforehand that you will on vacation and how you plan to handle their requests while you are away.  You can send an email to your clients letting them know when you will be gone and how to contact you if there is an emergency.  If you write a monthly or weekly newsletter devote space in it to announce your vacation plans too.  Set your email to auto response with a similar message.  And remember to leave a clear voice mail message as well so that clients will be reminded that you are on vacation and the approximate times when you will return their calls.
  3. Set certain times each business day when you do intend to reply to urgent emails and business emergencies.  Usually, twice a day for a couple of hours is plenty of time to keep in contact with your clients.
  4. Find out in advance, if where you are going provides sufficient telephone and internet service.  If you are really going off the grid and there is no service, then have a trusted colleague set up to handle your business emergencies.  And, introduce that colleague to your clients in advance.
  5. Invest in a cell phone battery charger and computer charger so that you are not stopped by a dead battery and no way to charge it up.  Bring a travel power strip to eliminate the problem of a hotel room with not enough outlets.

Do these steps make sense to you?  Yes, it will take some planning ahead to insure that your vacation is relaxing and rejuvenating.  You will enjoy your time off more if you know that your business is running smoothly, and most importantly if you have been in communication with your clients and your potential clients regarding your time off.  They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and be impressed with how seriously you think about their well-being while you are taking care of your own.

Sharpen Your Focus

6.24.15Greatness doesn’t start with a market opportunity; it starts with a problem that needs solving.  The opportunity comes from marketing the solution.

-Simon Sinek

One of the things I know for sure is that business success is not built on an entrepreneurs desire to make money first and foremost.  It is built on the entrepreneurs’ desire to make a difference by providing services that offer a solution to a problem or pain point that their intended client has.  This desire to make a difference cannot be artificially created or conjured by the business.  It has to be real, authentic, transparent, and easy to detect.

You know that slimy feeling you get when someone is pitching a program or service that has been developed and marketed by someone who really doesn’t give a rat’s behind about the potential client’s problem but is acting as if they really care.  You can spot it a mile away and my guess is that you quickly delete the marketing pitch.  I know I do that and I would bet you do too.

By your spending the time to know your “one” person who represents your target market, you definitely get to know where the target client has pain and how they talk and think about it.  Also you have created a unique solution for alleviating that pain.  And you believe that your solution will bring them relief.

Your challenge is to design a marketing program (marketing mix) utilizing the 4 “P”s: product, price, placement and promotion.  One of the most effective ways to get ideas for an effective design is to have a series of focus groups work with you in creating the marketing program.  A focus group is defined by Wikipedia as “…a form of qualitative research in which a group of people are asked about their perceptions, opinions, beliefs, and attitudes towards a product, service, concept, advertisement, idea, or packaging.  Questions are asked in an interactive group setting where participants are free to talk with other group members.”

Utilizing focus groups may sound a little intimidating but actually it doesn’t have to be.  It can be as informal as getting your friends and acquaintances together for pizza and asking them questions about your ideas for a marketing program.  Or if you like, you can download an excellent PDF guide for running focus groups, prepared by Elliot and Associates: How to Conduct a Focus Group (control click to download the document ).

For impatient entrepreneurs who just want to get on with it and not do this research, I totally get what you thinking.  To you it might seem like getting ready to get ready which indeed is a time waster.  However, this type of research on your part will give you more opportunities to offer your solution to your target market. After all, that is why you are in business—isn’t it?



Call Me…

3.18.15Like most of us I like hearing good news, and I love hearing breakthrough news from coaching clients.  Yesterday, I heard breakthrough news that is so exciting and over the top that I am sharing it with you.  One of my clients just closed a quarter million dollar contract.  She was excited.  I was over the moon pleased for her.

This contract wasn’t just going to happen.  This was not a lucky break.  She made it happen.  And she made it happen just like you can with taking the steps that are necessary to provide world class service to your clients.

Here are the qualities that produce breakthrough results:

  • A passionate belief in yourself and your ability to provide the services.
  • A clear vision of the core services you provide.
  • The ability to communicate clearly about your core services.
  • A continuing dedication to education about the latest developments in your field.
  • Knowing your target market like you know your best friend.
  • Keeping your word.
  • Planning your work and working your plan.
  • Communicating fully and honestly if you cannot keep your word.  Renewing a new “by when” for keeping your word.
  • Being willing to create a measurement for your results which includes “by whens” and promises and “go fors”.
  • Being willing to fail and to learn from the failures.
  • A refusal to be a victim of failure.
  • An unstoppable tenacity and persistence.
  • Having someone you trust hold you accountable for results.

Again and again I see these qualities in clients.  They are the people who have extraordinary results in their lives and in their businesses.

If you feel stuck.  If you feel like you can’t reach high enough for the breakthrough results you are longing for, please call me.  Together we can make your intention come true by clearing away what is holding you back from making that same kind of excited triumphant,” I did it!” telephone call to me.

I will look forward to hearing from you.


– Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at


How To Make Lemonade Out Of A Sour Lemon – A Business Lesson

2.25.15The disaster began with a telephone call.  The caller told my client that the primary insurance product my client sells, was not paying the caller’s claims.  He went on to say that the insurance company was being black balled by a major medical service provider.  When he asked the caller, “Why?” all he got was, “I really don’t know.”

My client was devastated.  Almost immediately, several users of the service started canceling their memberships.  He was presiding over a train wreck.  And with each cancellation call, he was losing money.  He did what he knew to do—he started writing emails to the insurance company to see what happened.  They did not respond.  He then began a chaotic downward spiral of useless activity.  He started looking for a new product sell.  Then, finally, he contacted me.

After listening to what happened in detail, I suggested that his first step was to step back.  There was something about this scenario that didn’t make sense to me.  It was all too sudden.  What I suggested that he do is to check out the current ratings of the product’s performance on the internet.  And, talk to someone who could make a difference at the company to see from their point of view what happened to make the end user blackball the service.  His reply was that he did email them.  I repeated what I said, talk to a decision maker at the company.  Stay on the telephone line until you reach a decision maker.  Do not leave a message; stay on the line.

My client did what I asked him to do.  He talked to a decision maker at the company.  The man was aware of the problem; however he did not know that his company was being blackballed by the user.  My client’s action caused a turnaround in the company.  The decision maker could see that he needed to take immediate action in order to resolve the end users complaints.

There is not yet a conclusion.  However, there will be a change in the relationship between the two companies.  It was caused by my client.  He was willing to take a stand for his product, and he had the courage to demand that attention be paid to the problem.

So what’s in this for you?  You have the right to stand for what you believe in.  When something is not right, you have the right to bring attention to the problem and ask that it be fixed.  This is how good business practices happen.


What’s Your Plan?

121014Plan“If you don’t know where you are going,
you’ll end up someplace else.”
Yogi Berra

Yogi Berra makes sense.  And yet, although we all know it is essential to make a plan for our business, we hesitate to do it.  Or we do it haphazardly at best.  So what is your plan for 2015?  If that question seems a little too intimidating to you and you are frankly left speechless, let’s begin with an easier question.

What do you want to contribute to your clients in 2015?  Surprised?  It’s not the typical question about how much money do you want to make in 2015.  That question is useless unless you think of your clients first.  To enlarge on the question about contribution to your clients, first you have to trust that if you make a contribution to them, you will be fairly compensated for the contribution.  This is not some airy-fairy “build a field and they will come” type of thinking.  It is solid in that people are willing to pay for what they want.  It is up to you as a business person to provide the answer to a problem that a client has.  You already know how to make a contribution to clients, if you didn’t you wouldn’t be in business.

Doing some thinking about what problems clients have is a very valuable use of your time.  It’s useful to brainstorm about what problems you solved for your clients this year.  Write them down and then project into the future about, what is the next predictable problem the client will have upon solving the present problem?  This is called “getting out ahead” of a problem.  You are presenting a solution to the problem that the client doesn’t yet know he will have.

Of course, to solve the next, yet to be presented problem, will take planning on your part.  You can’t solve all of their problems, and you can solve some of them.  Pick 3 problems that are predictable for your clients.  When you list 3 major problems that your client will have, and that you can solve, that will become the foundation of your plan for that client for next year.

In the comment section below, please tell me about 3 problems that your clients have that you plan to solve in 2015.  As always, I look forward the hearing from you.


If Profit Isn’t the Purpose, What Is Its Cause?

mapProfit isn’t a purpose, it’s a result.  To have purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.

-Simon Sinek

The passing of Labor Day has signaled the end to summer and perhaps, for most, the end of summer holidays, leisurely passing time in the vacation mode.  It is time to ease our way back into the business of our business.  September allows us to transition to a more focused back to work mode.  It is a time to consider what it is that we have accomplished so far this year in our work and what it is that we still want to or will accomplish before the end of the year.

It is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the quote from Simon Sinek about purpose and the place profit has in examining our purpose.  For some entrepreneurs, profit is the all-encompassing measurement of our entrepreneurial success.  For some it is as if profit is synonymous with purpose.  However, as Sinek points out: “Profit isn’t purpose, it’s a result.”

If what Sinek says is true then it is best to look at what your purpose is in business.  Is it, as he says, to provide “real value” to others?  If so, what is real value?  Only our specific target market can speak to what they see as valuable.  That is why it is very important to get to know your target market to the point where you see that market not as a group but as a person, who, at least to you, has a name, gender, marital status, a specific income, certain worries, concerns, and lives in a specific place.  If you pass over this step in doing your target market research, and developing the target market profile, your intention to be of service or to provide real value will be diminished.  And mostly likely, since profit is a result not a purpose, your profit will also be smaller than you had hoped.

Fortunately, we have the time now in early September to make changes in our business that can impact our bottom line for the year.  If you find that your target market isn’t defined enough, now is the time to do that.  There is plenty of information about doing so on the internet.

What is your response to the Sinek quote?  And what exactly is he pointing to, from your point of view?  I look forward to reading your comments about this topic.

When Is The End Not The End?

82014The ENDEverything will be all right in the end so, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.  -Deborah Moggach, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

One of my clients contacted me this week, downhearted and very sad.  “I thought I did a good job with my guest event but I failed.”  Why?  He only registered two people immediately after the event.  The gloom was palpitating through the email.

And if that was the end of the sales opportunities, that certainly would be a failure, however, it wasn’t the end.  It was only the beginning of causing a success to occur by addressing the alleged failure.

In looking together at the statistics of the event, we found that only a third of the people who attended qualified for registration.  What is meant by qualification for registration is: have the money to pay for the offering and hadn’t already taken the program.  The number of participants at the event was inflated by a majority of alumni of the offered course.  They were not taking it again but got so much value from working with the client, they came to hear what he had to say.

Next we looked at how to reach out to the people who qualified to take the program and didn’t immediately register.  We decided on offering an incentive discount to those people for a limited time.  That offer resulted in more registrations.  Now a little light was showing in the original gloom.

However, there were still people who could register but didn’t, so how could he reach out to them without seeming too pushy?  We brainstormed some ideas, which were quickly rejected and gave us some laughs about how absurd we were being.  But, we did come up with one idea that sounded sane and would be of value to the remaining non registered guests.  We decided that perhaps they were confused about the program and had questions about their individual needs to see if the offering would work for them.  The client sent out a third email offering to talk to them in person to answer any questions that they had. This idea was a winner.  He now has appointments to talk to each person and discuss their individual concerns.

The project is not finished yet.  There is more to go.  However, this is something that is sure: “Everything will be all right in the end so, if it’s not alright, it’s not the end.”

I am looking forward to hearing from you.  When have you not accepted the end as the end?


Photo courtesy of


What is the purpose of your business?

hay rollsGreatness doesn’t start with a market opportunity; it starts with a problem that needs solving.  The opportunity comes from marketing the solution.

Simon Sinek

If you are struggling getting your new business venture off the ground, it’s time to visit with one of the masters of business success, Peter Drucker.  He was the leader in the development of management education and invented “management by objectives”.  He wrote dozens of books about business and management.  Drucker was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002.

The article by Eric Wagner, contributor to Forbes Magazine, lists Drucker’s 12 Keys to success (

Today, we will continue to consider the next three keys to success as defined by Peter Drucker.

He delineated the following as the first and second key.

Key 1: “Those who perform love what they’re doing.”

Key 2:Successful entrepreneurs do not wait until “the Muse kisses them” and gives them a bright idea; they go to work.”

Let’s exam the next three keys.

Key 3: “What is our business?”

In the eye of the daily working storm we often forget why we are working.  What is the purpose of your business?  Why did you start it?  What happened that pointed you to this particular business?  Has your purpose changed?  How will your business make a difference?  Do you intend that it does make a difference?  These questions are reflective, of course.  And it’s useful to pull yourself back into yourself and look at your purpose newly.  In order to maintain your passion for your business you really have to be clear about your purpose.  If your purpose is to only make money, I assert that you have lost your way.  Keep your purpose alive.

Key 4:  Who is the customer?”

Knowing who your one and only one customer is, is the key to pointing your business marketing to that person.  Notice that I say “that person” not to them.  Your business is intended to provide a product or service to one person.  Who is that person?  Can you see him or her in your mind’s eye?  This is not time for generalizations; it’s time for specifics.  Be specific about your one and only one client.  It is important that you take the time to define that one person down to what that person likes, who he admires, and how smart she is.

Key 5: “Neither studies nor market research nor computer modeling is a substitute for the test of reality.”

Ah, yes, reality.  This is where your efforts in marketing and selling become the check for “is it working?”  I recently began advanced training to improve my business marketing acumen.  This program is a Master course with lots of homework and requires a great deal of thinking.  I love the challenge and notice that I have to prick the balloon of my own magical thinking that just by excelling at the homework doesn’t mean anything.  The reality check will come when I apply what I am learning to marketing my business and see how my customers relate to it.  As entrepreneurs we must rely on reality and be able to pivot and switch our approach when reality tells us to.

Now, it’s your turn.  Please tell me in the comments below how these next three keys to success relate to you and your business.  I am looking forward to hearing from you!