Category Archives: Business

How to get people excited about what excites you…

People get excited about what excites you.  When a keynote speaker is jacked up about a topic, it’s hard not to be jacked up as well. If your pastor is passionate about a Sunday teaching, you’re more likely to remember it and absorb that teaching.

Passion

As a marketer, small business owner, or salesperson, remember that people will listen when you’re passionate about whatever it is you do. Someone once told me, “you can’t sell it if you don’t love it.” If you truly love your product, business, website, blog, whatever, then people will be infected by your passion.

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Evidence of Progress

I have the pleasure of having a group of educators as a client. Educators have a fascinating way of looking at the world. Typically, they talk and think about the same things as people in the business world do, educators just have different ways of describing those things.

Return on Investment

Take ROI (Return on Investment). In the business world, this typically refers to the expectation that you’ll receive a fair value for a service/product that you purchase. There can be positive ROI – you received equal or greater value. There can also be negative ROI – you received less value.

As marketers, we are constantly looking for ROI. To do so, we measure the analytics. How are our social channels performing? How is the website performing? How did our recent sale do? How did the [name your paid advertising campaign] do to increase sales? The analytics help us collect dots and hopefully paint a picture that defines the ROI.

Educators do the same thing with their students. They want to make sure that the time invested in their students is producing a positive result. They don’t call it ROI, however, they call it “evidence of progress.” Educators are constantly looking for evidence of progress. This is such a positive way of looking at things.

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Pinch vs. Punch

The difference between a pinch and a punch is as simple as preparedness. Being prepared for obstacles and setbacks means that your business will feel a pinch, rather than a punch.

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Do you have a client(s) that makes up more than 25% of your revenue? If so, losing one would be a gut punch to your bottom line. If each client took up no more than 15%, that punch would be a pinch. Uncomfortable, but not impossible to overcome.

In the personal finances realm, this is called rainy day funds or emergency fund. In the business realm, it’s called being smart.

Action Steps:

  • Know your business and where you make your money.

  • You’ve heard the saying “hope for the best, plan for the worst.” I prefer to plan for the best, be ready for the worst.

  • Make a plan to avoid being – or move away from being – beholden to single or limited sources of revenue (clients). A golden goose is great, for a season, but being ready for the day the goose flies, is greater.

  • Be flexible and nimble.

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You can’t win them all

You won’t close every deal. You won’t convert every visitor to your website. Not every person that passes your trade show booth will love your product. And that’s ok.

I’ve said this before – and it’s an idea I’ve been borrowing for some time – that every “no” gets you that much closer to a “yes.” What does that mean? It means that if your success rate is 4 out of every 10, or 40%, you’ll need at least 6 people to tell you “no” before 4 people can say “yes.”

This should encourage you. Don’t worry about every lost deal. Do what you can to learn from that interaction – was your price too high or too low, were you too aggressive or not aggressive enough, etc. and then get ready for the next potential customer.

You can’t and won’t win them all. Stay focused on the success rate, and always try to leave everyone in better shape than you found them.

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Tips for Buyers at a Trade Show

1. You don’t have to buy, but that doesn’t mean you have to be rude.

Look, I know attending a trade show as a buyer can be tough. All the exhibitors are looking for their big break, and when they see someone walking by with a buyer badge they think their ship has come in. That said, it doesn’t mean you need to be rude when someone offers to show you their product. Instead, be honest.

I’d rather a buyer tell me that they aren’t buying or that they aren’t looking for new products than have them be rude. At least I’ll know there’s no shot and I’ll move on to the next prospect.

Which leads me to my next two tips…

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The Best Business and Marketing Tips Ever

So, maybe not the best business and marketing tips ever. But certainly very good tips. And most likely the best tips you are reading right this very moment.

1. Have a pretty URL (web address)

I know that it is becoming harder and harder to buy the perfect URL (MyExactBusinessName.com), but that shouldn’t keep you from getting close (MyExactBusinessName+City.com). I’m also a believer in avoiding the .net and .biz whenever possible. Consumers expect to see .com. They expect to see your business name in the URL.

Bonus tip: spell out your business name. No abbreviations. Potential customers don’t know how you’ve chosen to abbreviate your business name.

2. Get a professional email

If you have purchased your URL, you can get a professional looking email for very little cost. Google Apps for Work costs less than $5/month for a professional email.

What do I mean by this? I mean yourname@MyExactBusinessName.com. Having @gmail, @outlook, @yahoo, @aol, or @hotmail as your business email is not very professional.

3. Keep track of all your passwords

There are software programs that will help you generate random passwords. These programs also save and organize your passwords. One such program, 1Password, lets you generate random passwords for all your accounts while only needing to remember one password.

At a minimum, you could keep a spreadsheet of all your business accounts and passwords. I do that, however, I have the Excel spreadsheet encrypted with a  password.

4. Not good at marketing? Outsource.

Not everyone that runs a small business is a marketing guru. In fact, very few are. That’s ok. As I always say, there are people great at baking cupcakes, but terrible at selling them. You don’t have to wear every hat and do everything for your business.

Outsourcing your marketing doesn’t have to be expensive, nor does it have to be outsourced overseas. You might know of outsourcing marketing in terms of advertising agencies, PR firms, marketing agencies, design agencies, etc.

Finding a firm (shameless plug: like Tinderbox Consulting) to handle your marketing, can make life just a little easier. And hopefully, drive some more sales too.

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Why Do Organizations Move So Slowly?

Organizations move slowly because they choose to move slowly.

In most cases, moving slowly is a bad thing. Slow moving organizations are rarely proactive, and when they’re reactive, it’s typically too little too late. Additionally, they are usually unable to make adaptations or course corrections in a manner that allows for meaningful change or full implementation.

Maybe it’s the leadership that sets the example of moving slowly. Maybe it’s a long standing culture of moving slowly. Whatever the reason, it’s a choice.

What I mean by an organization “moving” is an organization’s ability to change, adapt, innovate or correct mistakes. I wrote a blog “Two Essential Components to Running a Business” and talked about being nimble and flexible:

“Nimbleness means your business is able to quickly and effectively make decisions that affect the bottom line. An employee needs to be hired (or fired); a piece of equipment needs to be ordered; a system or process needs to be changed.

Flexibility means you’re able to carry out those decisions, because making decisions and carrying them out are two different things.”

Organizations and businesses can move quickly if they want. But that’s the problem, many have made a choice to move slowly.

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Save Time and Do Less

The folks over at WeWork have put together a great blog post that features seven tricks and tips to save time by doing less. It’s a great article on productivity, especially as it concerns being efficient.

My favorite tip – although they are all excellent – concerns the delegation of certain tasks. From the blog post:

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I am My Worst Customer

I often joke that marketers – especially those who are also small business owners – are our own worst customers.

During the course of any given week, I give my clients all kinds of marketing and sales advice:
– Post daily on social channels. Post content that is valuable to your followers, not you.
– Have a marketing plan.
– Set sales goals.
– Be consistent.
– The list goes on…

Funny thing is, I am terrible at taking my own advice. In fact, I am my own worst customer.

I like to tell myself that I’m too busy to do certain things, like blog regularly, but the truth might be something scarier. Maybe I’m afraid. Afraid that my advice won’t work when applied to my own business. Afraid it will work and I won’t know what to do when it’s time to expand Tinderbox Consulting.

Those things you aren’t doing in your business, are you not doing them because you’re afraid? If it’s because you’re too busy, that’s a good thing. Find someone to do the things you’re too busy to do. Even if it means you hire an employee, or contract with someone like me. Just don’t sacrifice best practices on account of being cheap, lazy, or afraid.

 

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Find your next Everest

In business (or life, for that matter) it’s not enough to just climb Everest. Climbing Everest is a great goal that takes years of training and dedication (and money) to accomplish. But what do you do once you’ve climbed Everest? If you’re a serious climber, you find another peak. You find another Everest.

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Having a goal is great. Having a set of goals is great. However, you should always be ready with the next goal. What’s the next mountain you plan to climb?

Oh, and just a heads up, I’m pretty sure I borrowed this idea from John Maxwell. However, the Everest metaphor is all mine.

 

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