Mind Your Good Business Manners

Posted August 29, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Uncategorized

handshake agreement-3546008_1280Even in these days of hurry up, get it done, and move on to the next project, good manners are important to your business success – even more than you may realize. Still, many of us forget that these small details like saying “please” and “thank you” can go a long way to creating positive results. When they are forgotten, we can appear unpolished, rude, and even disrespectful. We all know that every aspect of what we do can affect the final outcome and impression we give of the way we run our business.

This article contains a few reminders of those little pleasantries that can leave a positive impression. Practicing a few common courtesies should not be difficult. However, if you have grown rusty and can’t remember what those courtesies are, a reminder of some of them include:

  • saying “please” and “thank you.” These three words are some of the most important in the dictionary. Saying them frequently can have a dramatic affect on how you are perceived even during adversities,
  • not interrupting. Always let the speaker finish their thought. When you interrupt, the implication is that what you have to say is more important than what anyone else may have to say,
  • offering to pay the tab. If you did the inviting insist on picking up the tab. In fact, arrange in advance to pay for the meal to avoid any confusion,
  • arriving on time or slightly early for appointments. Nothing says you consider the other important the way being on time does,
  • practicing proper introductions. That includes providing your full  name and properly introducing those with you, as well,
  • saying the others’ name during conversation. Be sure not to overdo it; be natural,
  • ordering last if you are the “host” of the group. If asked early, simply tell the server you haven’t decided,
  • never ask for a “to go box” at a professional gathering,
  • leaving a good tip, whether at a business meal or one for pleasure,
  • dressing professionally unless the event is clearly casual, like the company picnic. Even then you don’t want to be too casual. If in doubt, ask what the dress code happens to be,
  • perfecting a good handshake, one that is not too limp but not the death grip, either,
  • and standing when you shake hands or meet someone.

A word of caution: If you are doing business in another country, don’t assume that the common practices in one country are the same in others. A little research on the other country is certainly recommended in order to avoid a minor or, maybe, a major gaffe.

There are many more niceties you should practice. There are also many good books on the topic of good business manners. The Essentials of Business Etiquette: How to Greet, Eat, and Tweet Your Way to Success is one and Emily Post’s The Etiquette Advantage in Business: Personal Skills for Professional Success is another. Don’t hesitate to pick up one or two.

Minding your good business manners can only be to your advantage in both business and other settings.

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Is Fear Blocking Your Success?

Posted July 23, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , ,
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Do you understand just what it is that is holding you back from achieving the success you work so hard for? While you may not be fully aware of it, FEAR may be at the core of the answer to that question. Fear may be preventing you from seeing phenomenal success.

I hear many friends and colleagues discussing the ups and downs of their business. If they are asked what is standing in the way of being successful, or even just starting a business of their own, I hear things like:

  • I don’t have the funds I need to be really successful.
  • I need to keep my current job because I need healthcare coverage.
  • I just don’t know what it is or have the tools and time it takes to keep the business running smoothly.
  • Now is not the time to build the business.

However, if any entrepreneur or business owner were to analyze what is truly holding them back, they are sure to find fear at the heart of most of the reasons and the excuses. 

Fear actually takes many forms and some of  those fears may involve legitimate concerns. However, that very concern can be your catapult to success. Here is what fear blocks on your road to success:

  • abundance,
  • exuberance,  
  • a healthy outlook on your business and life,
  • collaboration with others,
  • expansion of your business,
  • authenticity,
  • action/motivation,
  •  change.

When you operate from fear, you often engage in and embrace “worst case scenario” thinking. At the appropriate times this may be good, but when it takes over your thought process and you become immobilized, fear has blocked your way to success.

Visualize fear like a tree and just as the tree is rooted to the ground, fear can be fixed solidly in your minds. Again, like the tree has many branches, you may have many fears that contribute to success or failure.

There are solutions to avoid or overcome fear. I’m not saying they are easy solutions, but they are solutions that will help you become unstuck, nonetheless. These are just a few of the things you can do or attitudes you can adopt to help harness those fears:

  • Be aware when fear has reared it’s ugly head. Be honest with yourself and don’t rationalize that what you are feeling or experiencing is legitimate if it really isn’t. Most people have a fear of public speaking, but is it always grounded in any real danger. Meditation and prayer can help you recognize what is legitimate and what is irrational.
  • Embrace success as your “just deserts.” You deserve to succeed in your business but you must claim that as your right.
  • Be specific about what your fear is and look at the root cause. Is it rational or is it irrational without basis in reality?
  • Keep your vision and goals in the forefront when you are confronted with fear. Look at the small steps that you need to take. This will help mobilize you and help drive out fear.
  • Let go of perfectionism. This is one way of thinking that has it’s root cause in fear, but is often masquerading as an ideal to achieve. Yes, you want everything you do to reflect the best, but recognize that if you wait for everything to be perfect, for every moment to be perfect, you may be left waiting a long time.
  • When in doubt, take some kind of action. Even a little action can move you past your fears.

I admit that, on the surface, this is a rather simplistic approach. There can be so many layers and facets to fear that it is not easy to forage through and overcome them. Rather, I am giving you fuel to think over and that will hopefully propel you into action. Fear is a very difficult emotion, one that can be clearly standing in the way of your success or one that is operating as if it is a legitimate thought process. It can keep you stuck on mediocrity and even in failure. Fear is at the root of many unrealized and unfulfilled dreams and, without a doubt, it interferes with the success of your business.

The Ability to Change Is Good Business

Posted June 21, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , , ,
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Photo by Vojtech Okenka on Pexels.com

You’ve owned your successful business for some time, but have you made any changes recently? Or have you resisted change, failed to come up with new ideas, even looked at your competition’s latest innovation as a passing fad? The ability to change is good for your business success. On the other hand, failure to make changes can lead to eventual failure of the business. 

It is imperative that business owners remain alert for the emergence of new competitors that are in similar businesses or create innovations to make their products more appealing to customers. There are many examples of businesses that failed to respond to new competition or failed to institute changes.

For instance, the social network, Myspace was here before Facebook. However, Myspace faltered and Facebook took off. It is imperative for businesses to keep abreast of and act on new opportunities, technological or otherwise, that could add more value to your business and deliver more service to your customers.

Changes can be fast and explosive, generally a reaction to an external event, for example, a new competitor emerges, or an existing competitor changes focus. What would be your  response if technology is introduced that has the potential to bring about major changes within the business? Is your response negative or positive? Blackberry is an example of a company that failed to react to the emergence of a competitor with better technology within their product. The iPhone came in and virtually wiped out Blackberry’s appeal. All but those ultra-loyal Blackberry users switched and became loyal fans of the iPhone when Blackberry failed to introduce a phone of their own until much later. It was a slow and costly reaction to changes.

Changes can also be gradual. These changes are generally a part of the strategic plan ,  and anticipated as part of capacity building and growth. A strategic plan is the best attempt at forecasting what may be coming and also in setting up the company as a leader, introducing cutting edge innovations.

Let’s look at the demise of Borders Bookstores. Their strategic plan was to increase the growth of bricks and mortar stores. They resisted, even ignored, the obvious: books were selling online and people just weren’t going to physical stores, not as they had to in the past and certainly not in enough numbers to justify the growth of bricks and mortar facilities. Digital books were the hot item – convenient to read and carry. After all, the device you were reading on was probably literally in hand already. To top it off, digital versions of books were usually less expensive, making consumer choice even easier. Borders closed its doors.

Admittedly, if the business owner is embracing change, it is the employee that will often resist that change. Change can be perceived as a threat if it is not handled correctly. Smart businesses will be proactive and create a culture in which the perception of change is not a crisis, but is structured as an opportunity. This will reduce the stress and possible resistance of staff. Change can be instituted that much faster and certainly smoother.

There are many ways to introduce change. New employees is one way. Using the strategic plan is another. Further, staff should be urged to become change agents, using their imaginations, looking at the business from the prism of “what if?” This fosters acknowledging the inevitability of change as a positive. It is very important to build in processes to promote change and growth. Employees are better able to adapt. In short, adapting to change is the goal. Without it a business fails to change and the business is headed for eventual failure and, unfortunately, in this fast paced business world today, that failure will come sooner rather than later.

Toys R Us is an example of a business that failed to respond quickly enough to technological changes, i.e. Amazon and the Internet. While children may have loved the experience of shopping at Toys R Us, it was the parents who took them to the physical building and consequently made the purchases. Parents opted for convenience.

Charles Darwin was correct when he said, “It is not the strongest of the species that will survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one that is most responsive to change.” Failure to adapt in an increasingly fluid and unpredictable environment leads to a failed business. Remember, the dinosaurs were the strongest animals on the planet at one time. 

Running a business means change happens. To  insure you are flexible enough to survive, make change a part of your business strategy. When that happens, change is good because change means success.

7 Habits to Develop as a Successful Entrepreneur

Posted May 23, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , ,

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Ok. Take a bow and give yourself kudos and high fives if you are an entrepreneur. You are one of those special people who see the world from the prism of “what if” and who holds a strong belief in your own abilities to control your destiny. Being an entrepreneur calls for “true grit” and a set of habits that could help you succeed. Here is a list of 7 of those habits:

  1. Put your customers first – always. Your customers are your success (or failure). You need them just as they need your product. Make your product indispensable. Go the extra mile to help them. When they need your product, they will turn to you.
  2. Establish a routine including setting regular sleep hours. Sleep deprivation is helpful to no one, least of all to the entrepreneur. It dulls your thinking and your reaction time. Creativity is dulled. Health can become compromised and without good health, you cannot expect to be successful. In addition, that routine should include some form of exercise whether it’s yoga in the morning or a brisk walk in the afternoon or both. And set aside quiet time or meditation as a part of your routine.
  3. Practice continued education and constant reading, especially of nonfiction. Attend conferences, workshops or classes. Continual learning opens the mind and leads to new ways of thinking. The consequences?  New innovations and improved products.
  4. Promote your business wherever and whenever you can. Cultivate an instinct to see opportunity everywhere and in every encounter. Act on it. Discuss your business, leave a memorable business card.
  5. Develop “thick skin.” There will be failures and rejection. You must be able to understand that failure can sometime be a part of great success. Just realize there is often great reward in perseverance and determination
  6. Practice informed optimism. Don’t blindly believe you will be a success. Definitely believe in your ability to be a success but put some study and information to it. Study trends; analyze profit and losses – yours and others. Look at your threats and opportunities. Create a strategy around those. This is what could be called informed optimism.
  7. Take care of yourself. Take regular vacations. Reconnect with your family and yourself. Really unwind. Visit a spa; go to a ball game. Take a break from the routine. There is validity to the old saying, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Literally, your mind will not be as sharp and you will not be as interesting a person to be around when your entire focus is always work.

None of these habits are complicated, but habits must be developed and cultivated to be of any use. You have to put them into practice on a routine basis. Your enterprise, regardless of what it is or how large it is, will benefit and thrive from the beneficial habits you follow. After all, you are in business to succeed and to make money. Adopting a few sensible habits can put success in your reach.

Review (or Create) Your Business Strategy in Spring

Posted April 16, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , , ,

pexels-photo-936127.jpegYou take a hard look at your business at the New Year (or at least you should) and formulate your strategic, but do you review your progress at springtime? Or, if you did not developed your plan at the New Year, have you considered that the spring is an excellent time to evaluate where you are and strategically plan where your business is headed? 

A change of seasons, particularly spring, is an excellent time to examine the goals you set in January. The first quarter is at an end and, because it is spring, your mindset is probably on rejuvenation. Three months into the year is also a good marker to determine whether the goals you set at the beginning of the year are reasonable, doable, and attainable and your methodology is sound. Will your actions result in attaining your goals?

A good guideline to follow when evaluating your goals (or creating new goals) is to think SMART. Yes, I know. You are already nodding your head and saying this is not exactly new to you. But sometimes we are aware of what to do but fail to act on it simply because of its familiarity. So, again, think SMART. Make goals that are simple/specific, measurable, attainable, realistic/relevant, and timely.

Here are a few simple suggestions for fine-tuning and accomplishing your goals:

Declutter – the Chinese method of feng shui or The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo are not only great guidelines to follow for getting rid of clutter in your home but those techniques can be applied to your business, as well. Clutter can actually be detrimental to growth and progress in your business. It has been proven to be a source of stress and chaos.

Organize – once you have decluttered it is easier to organize your office and it makes it easier to apply clear and creative thinking as approaches to your business. Let your organization expand to your computer, as well. Archive or bookmark what you want to keep; delete what you don’t. With a little research you can find many tools to help you. 

Marketing/Networking – pay particular attention to energizing your marketing plan with attention to strategic and consistent networking. Referral business can be one of the most useful tools to a business, especially small businesses. Without networking it is difficult to obtain referral business.

Mindset – embrace the new: new technology, new products or services, new marketing techniques that could fit your business.

Education – include continued education in your plan. This insures that your products and services are always fresh and relevant to your customers. Take classes, attend conferences, and read. What better way to discover the new that could be applied to your business? And conferences and classes are excellent opportunities to network.

Use the spring as your time of rejuvenating, re-energizing and reconnecting with your business and customers.

Don’t forget that Exceptional Transcriptions and Business Solutions is here to help you achieve your goals.

5 Trends to Look at for the Small Business 2018

Posted March 16, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions, Writing

Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-541525.jpegWithout question, if you own a small business you must keep up with current trends for small businesses. I’m not advocating that you try everything that seems to point to a good idea – some things may not be right for your business or they may be just transitory. What I am saying is that you should stay on top of what is available and the direction or opportunities that may be there for your small business because of a growing trend.

Once you have a handle on what’s trending, make a plan to strategically incorporate some of the trends into your business. It’s a good idea to explore a few of the trends for 2018.

One of the trends you may consider adopting is outsourcing or using freelancers for some of your workload. You and your staff don’t have to do everything. There continues to be an uptick in home businesses and freelance workers that can handle specific projects for you. According to incfile.com, there are 38 million home-based businesses in the US. And Balance, another popular freelance site, states that in 2014 one in every three Americans had done freelance work within the year. With those kinds of statistics there is someone out there who can manage your special project whether it’s completing a Request for Proposal (RFP) or managing your social media.

Another trend that is not likely to go away is digital payments, both in receiving and invoicing. For example, consider those freelancers: many may work online or remotely. They never see a paper check. Checks are quickly becoming relics. In addition, your mobile device is an increasingly popular swipe for payment at bricks and mortar sites.

Also, stay on top of the demographics of your consumer, as I’m sure you already do. Millennials are a powerful spending block. If your product is of any interest to that age group, it would be wise to understand their values. They don’t want to be sold to and honesty and transparency are important to them, consequently your marketing must be subtle and show the human impact. Think of the Publix commercials with it’s clearly human, emotional aspect. They stress that you are buying experiences, not just products. Building rapport with them is clearly important.

Next on the list is cybersecurity. Hacking and cyber theft are not going away. You must include in your plans ways to protect yourself and ways to rebound if you are hit. Explore the various companies that offer protection. Protect your passwords and make them difficult for others to decipher. The very last thing you want to do is pay a ransom for your company information.

Last, but actually first in importance, is taking care of your employees, whether you have one or 100. Be aware that the minimum wage may change in some parts of the country. Be alert for any changes in legislation that affect your business and employees. This may be more crucial in some states than others. Invest in education; explore inexpensive perks for your employees.  Constantly hiring new people is not a desirable pastime.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg of trends for the small business in 2018. It is imperative that you are strategic when you consider the changes to embrace and those to ignore for the growth of your business. But it goes without saying that you must keep abreast of what new innovations are available, what is changing, and what is becoming obsolete. Do your homework, stay informed, make changes as needed and warranted. Don’t let your small business lag behind because you failed to evaluate the impact of a growing trend.

Don’t forget, at Exceptional we can help you with your load. Don’t hesitate to contact us at exceptionaltbs.com.

And if writing  a book is in your future, a few guidelines may help. Pick up a copy of my book.

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Words Matter in Business Communication

Posted January 18, 2018 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions, Writing

Tags: , ,

pexels-photo-374899.jpegThere is power in words, more power than some understand. The way you use your words can work to either enhance your business or words that you use can harm your business. If you are an entrepreneur, business owner or someone fully engaged in the success of your career, it is important to be mindful of the words you use. If this sounds a little “woowoo,” let me explain why words really do matter.

You can see just how much words matter as you watch marketing machines change vernacular to put a spin on a situation. The words they choose to use can change situations in the listener or reader’s mind. For example, a recent plane incident on a runway in Turkey the press release stated that the “flight had a Runway Excursion Incident during landing…” A far more innocuous, less ominous statement than saying the plane skidded off the runway and landed nose down, hanging precariously on the side of the cliff a mere 737 feet from the Black Sea.

Speaking negatively and doubtfully only adds impediments to success. Just as you should be mindful of your thoughts, you should choose your words carefully in any communication, either written or verbal. There are words that should be avoided, if at all possible, in business. Here is my list:

Can’t
This should top anyone’s list. Once you have put in your mind that something can’t be done, you set up that there will not be an attempt at whatever it is being asked of you. But don’t use my next words either…

Try to…
This gives you an escape from actually putting in that extra effort to make something happen.

Busy
Your customers are not interested in knowing that you are not solely devoted to servicing them. While they know this to be a fact, they don’t want to hear you verbalize it. Avoid the words.

Impossible
Really? Is that task or situation that far out of reach? Give an honest assessment and even say that it is outside the scope of what you do, but don’t use the limiting word impossible. Circumstances may change that make it possible.

Wait
Waiting may be a reality in certain situations, but your customers don’t want to hear that. Give a specific time frame to the situation such as what many automated answering services  give now when you call customer service. Far better to say “Your call will be answered in approximately 5 minutes (or whatever the time frame)” than for a customer to be waiting without any idea of how long that wait will be. That leads to frustration, hang ups and a general dislike for the company.

Tomorrow
This is a word that habitual procrastinators use to fool themselves into thinking they will do a tasks that could have been done today. The saying “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today,” still stands.

These are just a few of the words that can have a negative impact and send a message you don’t intend. Choose words that produce action – positive action – in the present, not projected sometime in the future. That means when writing, limit the use of the word “to be.” Again, this is very passive and does not set up a positive outcome in your mind nor in the mind of the listener or reader. Using an active voice eliminates “wiggle room” or ambiguity in the listener or reader.

Be mindful and focus on using positive language. Change the way you use negative or limiting words. Better yet, don’t use them at all. Words matter when it comes to having or establishing a positive mindset in your customers and colleagues.