15 Moments When Your Business Needs Your Unconditional Love

Starting a small business is exciting. Fraught with novelty and excitement. While it would sure be great if every day from day one onward would be an awe-inspiring adventure,  not all of them will be. Eventually, the fiery honeymoon period ends and your sensible, steady love for your business and what you do will need to sustain and motivate you.

Your business needs your unconditional love!

You need to love your business even when…

  1. You feel overworked.
  2. You don’t have as much work as you’d like.
  3. Not everything is going your way.
  4. You miss out on a great opportunity.
  5. You take an opportunity that isn’t as great as you thought it might be.
  6. A client misunderstands you.
  7. You misunderstand a client.
  8. Payments arrive late.
  9. Your checkbook or credit card statement doesn’t reconcile with Quickbooks.
  10. People doubt you.
  11. You doubt yourself.
  12. You lose a good client.
  13. You gain a not so good client.
  14. Computer issues set you behind schedule.
  15. ________________________. [Insert business challenge here]

Although it’s natural to become frustrated and stressed at times, you can refrain from losing your cool by remembering what you love most about being in business for yourself. As you go about your daily routine day after day and week after week, you might have lost sight of that.

So take a deep breath, and remind yourself about how liberating it is to have the opportunity to do work that means something to you. Focus on the flexibility self-employment has provided you. Think about how running your own business has helped you grow and develop professionally – and personally.

There’s A LOT to love!

By Dawn Mentzer
Another Insatiable Solopreneur™ post

 

 

 

 

4 “Un” Words to Remove from your Small Business Vocabulary

Words wield power. While we pay a lot of attention to them in our marketing efforts, it’s easy to forget the words weUnnecessary - Un words to remove from small biz vocabulary (and sometimes others) use in our thoughts and when we talk about our businesses have an impact, too. Some words lead us to self-defeat. Some lead us to grandiose expectations of our capabilities. Either situation can indirectly and subconsciously cause us to sabotage our own businesses.

 

Four “Un” Words to Undo in Your Small Business

Unable
Get over it – you can do this! Especially when you’re in the early stages of starting your business, you’ll encounter people who are a constant source of dark clouds. They’ll make you doubt yourself and your abilities. Ignore the naysayers who provide no constructive criticism or suggestions. Assuming you’ve done your due diligence before starting your business, focus on the strengths you have and the opportunities available to you. Forge forward and prove you are able through your progressive success.

Unaware
While you can’t believe everything you read online, the internet hosts credible resources on every aspect of business under the sun and moon. Seriously, there’s no reason not to have a working knowledge (or find out who does) of marketing, tax responsibilities, business bookkeeping, social media, sales, productivity tools, etc. Read reputable business blogs to boost your awareness on topics, and reach out for expert assistance if you don’t have the skills or know-how to take care of certain aspects of your business on your own. With so many local experts online, you don’t need to consult someone six states away if you’d rather have a sit-down face-to-face meeting with a professional your friends and neighbors know.

Unafraid
It’s OK to sometimes feel a degree of fearfulness in business. Not paralyzing fear, but a healthy sense of concern can help keep you on your toes. Note that motivation can’t come from fear alone, but it can serve to complement your efforts to build a successful business. It can drive you to put necessary checks and balances in place to ensure your business is doing things the right way. And it can  push you to be ever vigilant about making improvements to serve customers better. Fear can make you feel grateful, not cocky, when things are going your way.

Unbeatable
Speaking of cocky…never ever get too comfortable in your position over your competition. Inflated self-confidence is the key ingredient in complacency. Complacency breeds laziness and lack of caring. Your business needs you to care no matter how much success seems to be on auto pilot. Regardless of how well things are going, you need to constantly look for ways to improve and take the initiative to do business better. Why? Because your customers deserve it…and your competition is!

What other “un” words do you think solopreneurs and small biz owners should unfasten from their business vocabulary?

 

By Dawn Mentzer

5 Action Words Every Solopreneur Needs to Act On

The only way to find success (however you define it) as a solopreneur is to take action. Being passive and hoping that potential clients happen to stumble upon you by chance won’t take you very far – if anywhere at all! Action is all about doing and here are a few action words (a.k.a. verbs) that solopreneurs and small business owners can practice every day to make sure they’re not keeping their businesses in an idle state.

Create
Let the eye rolls begin as I mention what you see and hear about 100 times each day. Content! Whether you’re in an inherently creative field or not, creating content in some way, shape or form to demonstrate your expertise in your industry is essential to expanding your reach. Producing – or not producing – your own content will differentiate you from your competitors. Your choice: create or become invisible.

Help
Every day, aim to do something to help someone else. Going the extra mile to assist a client, prospect or colleague doesn’t have to take up much of your time and it doesn’t mean you have to give your work away for free. Email an article that you know someone will find interesting or helpful, connect two professionals who seem to have synergy, refer someone looking for a service to someone you know who will deliver it well. It’s easy to help…and your good deeds will give you a reputation for being that professional who truly cares about others. That’s the type of professional I choose over others when presented with similar services – and I think most other people have that in common with me.

Interact
In this digital social world, it’s not enough to push your message; interacting is equally important. ALWAYS reply to comments on your blog posts and social media updates…even if just to say “thank you.” Also, when appropriate for your audience, reciprocate by commenting on and/or sharing others’ online content. And never let emails – particularly those from clients or prospects – go unanswered for more than 24 hours unless you’re on vacation. Social media has made it so very easy and convenient for solopreneurs to build good will, but it’s up to you to take action and harness that potential.


Reflect
In my opinion, this action is way underrated! While “reflect” seems passive, it’s anything but. As you work on building your business, take time regularly to review what is working and what is not.

  • Which social networks are providing the best exposure?
  • Which networking events and affiliations are leading you to the most prospects?
  • Which types of projects are delivering the best return?
  • What do you enjoy most and least about your work?
  • What process improvements can you make to serve clients better and use your time more effectively?

Adjust
Perhaps the most important verb all solopreneurs should put into practice is “adjust”! Clients’ needs and wants change, tools and resources change, the business climate changes…we change. To keep up and stay relevant in the dynamic world that is small business, you need to fine-tune your ability – and willingness – to evolve.

What other verbs do you think solopreneurs need to act on to be masters of their own destinies?

3 Ways You Should NEVER Treat Your Customers

Although customers aren’t always right, they are the lifeblood of your business. You need them. And though you think they need you in return, the truth is they can go somewhere else if they really want to.

Creating a customer experience that keeps them coming back can be done in many, many creative ways that suit your business and your clients. But there are a few things that solopreneurs universally should NEVER do when dealing with customers:

Take them for granted

With so many external variables (budget constraints, shifts in priorities, hiring talent in-house, etc.) that could come into play when working with a client, don’t assume they’ll be around forever – even if they’re happy with your products and services.  Always make an effort to maintain strong rapport with them, because that could prompt them to do their best to keep you on projects even when times are tough. And always think ahead about how you’ll replace the revenue from them if ever they meet unforeseen pressures and need to cut you loose.

Take advantage of them

True story: Not too terribly long ago, I trained at a martial arts studio that had a very closely-knit community of members. Eager to help the sole owner of the studio, members would freely donate their time to tasks like refilling the refrigerator with water bottles, helping with the kids’ classes, even cleaning the bathroom. Rather than show appreciation, the owner started taking members’ generosity for granted. He would get them to fill in for him when he didn’t feel like showing up to teach or when he wanted to step out for a cup of coffee. Rather than answer his own phone or greet prospective new members when they walked in the door, he instead expected his members to do it.

Bad move.

The members got fed up with it, and the vast majority left. In fact, many of them left to study martial arts at the home-based studio that two of the former members started on their own. All they had learned from essentially running the other guy’s business for him paid off. Now they are his competition.

Treat them like crap

In a bad mood? Who cares! At all times, you need to treat your clients with respect and kindness. That’s not to say you can’t ever disagree with them or share when something doesn’t seem quite equitable. But you need to do it tactfully and in a non-accusatory tone. Your words and actions matter a great deal in building and nurturing business relationships. Nothing can spoil your brand reputation faster than being a jerk – word of mouth travels fastest when it doesn’t have anything nice to say!

Remember, as a solopreneur, you are your brand. And it’s on your shoulders to make that brand one with a reputation of excellence. Always put your best foot forward when working and communicating with clients.

 

Do you have any examples of businesses that have totally missed the mark in how they treat their customers? How do you approach your client relationships to make them stronger?

 

 

Making Your Personal Likeability Your Biggest Business Asset

When you’re in business for yourself, especially as a professional services provider, it’s evident that people do business with other people – not with a product, not with a service. They do business with YOU.

Of course, you need to provide something that they need and deliver quality at a fair price, but they’re only part of the buying equation. Bigger is the relationship component. All other things relatively equal, people will do business with you instead of your competitors because they like you.

Don’t underestimate the likeability factor. Don’t dismiss it as icing on the cake. As a solopreneur, it can be one of your biggest assets.

What being likeable means

Maybe it’s best to start with what likeability doesn’t mean. Being likeable doesn’t mean that you agree with everyone all the time. It doesn’t mean that you give your service or product away for next to nothing. It doesn’t mean that EVERYONE will think you’re the best thing since sliced bread. And it doesn’t require that you’re innately an extrovert.

It does mean that you exhibit personality traits that draw most people to you. It’s about being genuine – and genuinely caring about other people.

Ways to boost your reading on the Likeability Meter

  • Be yourself – You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so don’t try. Be real. People can spot a fake a mile away. But…
  • Be nice! – When you’re having a bad day, making it a bad one for everyone around you won’t make it better. Just be honest if you’re not at the top of your emotional game. No need to share the intimate details, but let others know that you’re struggling and are operating at less than optimum. They’ll understand and respect your candor.
  • Lend a hand – Literally or figuratively, helping a client or prospective client with something that they hadn’t expected you to will generate a ton of good will. It could be pointing them to a resource to solve a problem or question, offering advice (when asked) on a business process, or offering to help them move into their new office.
  • Show your support on social media – Go beyond just “liking” someone’s Facebook Page and following them on Twitter, interact with them. Don’t go overboard and “like” every post or retweet every tweet, but regularly check out what they’re sharing and make it known – via comments and sharing with your audience – when you find something interesting or helpful. What business owner doesn’t love it when someone acknowledges that her/his social media efforts are noticed and appreciated?

Being likeable can do wonders for attracting new clients, maintaining those you already have, and gaining referrals from others in the business community. Make it work for your business!

What other ways can you demonstrate your personal likeability through – and for the success of – your business? 

 

Fortune Cookie Friday: “Good news will come to you by mail.” – But you need to work for it!

The first Friday in June has arrived – and with it, another Fortune Cookie Friday! Time to explore the wisdom within…

 

“Good news will come to you by mail.”

Well, that sounds promising! But in business, good news isn’t generally something that comes from out of the blue without any sort of effort behind the scenes to make it happen. As solopreneurs, we have to give good news a jump start. We have to pave the way for good news to reach us.

How can you set the foundation for good news to come your way?

  • Do your homework to make sure your services and products are fulfilling a want or need in the market.
  • Network to build relationships and establish respect for – and trust in – your brand.
  • Be responsive to client inquiries and feedback.
  • Go the extra mile to be a source of information and tips that will help others succeed.
  • Make use of your social media channels and email to do all of the above, but don’t rely on them completely. Communicate through phone calls and face-to-face meetings whenever possible, too.
  • Be fair to your customers – and to your business – in your pricing.
  • Be patient.
  • Genuinely care about what you do every day; it will show, and people will notice.

Do all of these, and good news will surely arrive!

What do you do to boost the volume of good news that flows your way? 


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Fortune Cookie Friday: “Your principles mean more to you than any money or success.”

Friday at last! And time for another Fortune Cookie Friday interpretation of a folded confection’s inner wisdom.Fortune Cookie wisdom

 

“Your principles mean more to you than any money or success.”

By definition, according to Merriam Webster, a principle is “a comprehensive and fundamental law, doctrine, or assumption.”

We all have principles, but I doubt that most of us give them the attention of our conscious thought. In fact, I don’t recall ever really sitting down to take inventory of the “comprehensive and fundamental laws, doctrines, and assumptions” that guide me in my personal and professional life. What about you?

Principles run in the background for the most part. They subconsciously keep us on track ethically and they drive our motivation. As solopreneurs and small business owners, most of us strive for some level of money and success. But obtaining either of those is far greater if you’ve got principles like these guiding your efforts:

  • Work hard to achieve.
  • Welcome new ideas and approaches.
  • Treat others with respect.
  • Accept responsibility for your mistakes.
  • Aim to deliver excellence in all you do.
  • Always look for ways to improve and grow.
  • Be involved to make a difference in your community.

Your underlying principles might be similar; they might be different. Either way, you’ve got some whether you’ve pointedly thought about them or not. Why not take a few minutes to reflect on them and how they’re driving your efforts at work and at home?

I’d love to hear from you! Comment here to share your guiding principles. Do we have any in common?


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4 Ways Emulating Tupperware Can Seal In Success for Solopreneurs

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In general, I have an aversion to in-home product demonstration gatherings, but last night I went to a Tupperware party. Why? Because the hostess bought Girl Scout Cookies from my daughter last week – and it was a Tupperware party.

Emulate Tupperware to be a successful solopreneur

Tupperware has been around since 1946 for a reason; the company has applied some core business principles that have successfully given it staying power. As a solo-professional, consider the following to help make your business stand the test of time:

  1. Provide a superior product or service – As a solopreneur, you don’t necessarily have to be the very best, but strive to provide high quality with some sort of unique twist that differentiates you from your competition. If the services you provide are on par with those of your competitors, find other ways to make yourself stand out…better customer service, faster turn-around, extras etc.
  2. Evolve – Be aware of your market’s changing needs and adapt to meet them. Tupperware has been in the food storage game nearly forever, but even their legacy products have been tweaked to improve their performance. Don’t ever conclude, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Sometimes something that works perfectly well can benefit from enhancements to keep the market interested. Plus, Tupperware has expanded its product line to include all sorts of state-of-the-art kitchen gadgetry. Give some thought to how you might better serve clients by offering services that naturally complement what you already provide.
  3. Offer a guarantee – Tupperware isn’t cheap, but the company minimizes the risk of investment with a promise to replace a product no matter how long ago it was purchased – and without a receipt. By giving customers a safety net in the event that you don’t deliver on your promises to them, you’ll build trust and show that you have confidence in your offerings.
  4. Focus on delivering value, not the lowest price – Again, Tupperware isn’t cheap, but it’s reliable, of higher quality than other storage products, and you never have to worry about haggling with the company over a defective product. People are willing to pay for those things, and they feel good about spending their hard-earned money on products from a company with a solid reputation. Not only could charging bargain basement prices leave your business in a financial hole, it will also leave the impression that you’re not confident about your abilities and services.

In summary: Be great at what you do, change with the times, stand by your work, and demonstrate confidence in the worth of your services – and don’t ever bring your credit card to a Tupperware party!

What other long-time businesses set great examples for solopreneurs? What qualities have made them lasting institutions?

Related Reads:

Three Guarantees That Will Grow Your Business

Small Business and Value Proposition: What Are Your Customers Buying From You

The 6 Best Words in Customer Service


Dialing 8 Project

Consider joining the Dialing 8 Project! A forum for learning, sharing & getting the most out of your social media efforts for your small business.