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.

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7 Habits to Develop as a Successful Entrepreneur

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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Are You in Sync with Your Customer?

Posted December 19, 2017 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , ,

inside a restaurant 2598320_640What is synchronization or what is it to be in sync? It is when two or more things are adjusted to show or occur simultaneously and in harmony. Are you in sync with your customers? If you are not paying attention to your customer’s buying habits and their needs and problems, you risk falling out of sync with your customer. When that happens, you risk losing a customer.

Just what is it to be out of sync with the customer? It simply means you are no longer responding to the customer’s wants and needs. Let’s look at an example of a product that was ultimately out of sync with their customer – the Blackberry. At one time no-one, I mean no-one, could do without their Blackberry. In fact, Blackberry users began to be referred to as Blackberry “addicts.” It solved all of its customers’ needs in a compact palm held device: managing appointments, calls and more.

But then came the smartphone and instead of listening to what the customer wanted, the Blackberry continued to offer the same product. Maybe they were just slow at realizing their customer’s needs were changing as products offered in the marketplace changed. Whatever the reason, they began losing market share and when they finally looked up and saw what was happening, it was too late. Their customer had moved on. Blackberry was out of sync.

Don’t let that happen in your business. Your customer will not be dictated too, nor can they be taken for granted. At one point you may be just what they need, but you must continually listen; taking their pulse and  making adjustments to deliver the answer to their problems.

The end of the year is a great time to reflect on what your customer sees as their needs. After all, you are preparing to implement your strategic plan for the New Year. By now you should have examined your competition and who appears to be their customer. Have they added new products or services? Is their business outpacing yours? Hopefully, the answer to that is no, but if it isn’t, then why not? Make the needed adjustments to be the one to solve the customer’s problem(s).

Feeling overwhelmed? Don’t be. Luckily, there are ways to take the temperature of your customer. A few of those ways include:

  • Conducting customer forums or customer surveys. Find out out how your customer sees you.
  • If you are online (if you’re not you should be), access analytic tools to track and measure customer/audience behavior. These tools are not just for the big companies. You, too, can gather information about your potential customer.
  • Choose the right social media for your business. The temptation is to use as many of them as possible, but I think businesses are realizing you should only choose a few that are closely aligned with your business.
  • Explore programs that are available to help you manage syncing with your customer.

No matter the size of your business, you must focus on your customer or you will have no business. If you have a team working with you, you must all be in sync in your focus on the customer. To be in sync with your team communication is key.

It should be a no-brainer but take nothing for granted. Sales may be good today and tomorrow they are swept away by your competition. Keep your customer front and center in your strategic plan. Keep their wants and needs upmost. Customer needs drive customer purchases. Act, make adjustments to your products and services accordingly. Your product will remain relevant and essential and you will be in sync with your customer. The result? The customer will stay with you.

“Sometimes you are in sync with the times, sometimes you are in advance, sometimes you are late.” – Bernardo Bertolucci

Thanksgiving, Gratitude and Your Business

Posted November 21, 2017 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , , , , ,

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In United States and Canada, Thanksgiving is when we turn our thoughts to gratitude. It marks a time for reflection – when we look at the goals we have accomplished and we express gratitude for each day that we have been able to work in our business.

What better time than Thanksgiving to reflect on the goals you have reached and the ways your success has impacted your family?

The Pilgrims understood that their gratitude extended to everyone who helped them to survive the harsh land they found themselves in. They understood that they depended on the assistance of their neighbor and on the help of the Native Americans who showed them how to survive.  As with the Pilgrims, your thanks should not be limited to what you have accomplished yourself. It is important that you recognize what you have been able to do because there were others in your life  who helped you reach your goals. You have your family, your colleagues and your customers to be grateful for.

Your success is not solely all about the money, although money is an important measure of the success of your business. Rather it is also about what the money (and your business) has enabled you to do in your life; it’s about the impact your business has allowed you to make on your family and your community.

After reflecting on your business success for this year, here are a few things you should do before the year is over to help you move your business forward:

  1. Kick your business into high gear. Around this time many small businesses and entrepreneurs tend to relax. You should do just the opposite. Remember, most Americans are going into shopping mode. Don’t be left out of their good will. Your products and/or services may be just what they are looking for.
  2. If you haven’t already done so, begin work on your strategic or annual business plan. Start by analyzing (and being thankful for) the goals you have reached. Create next year’s goals with the end in mind. Where do you want your business to be at this time next year? Where do you want to be?
  3. Take the time to thank your customers. Send personalized emails or, better yet, send a “handwritten thank you” to those customers who are your “regulars.”
    Kick off the Season with a Holiday Thank You party. Invite your customers and even your potential customers to have a good time.
  4. Run a “giveaway special.” Give a gift to the first five (or the number of your choice) customers who purchase at a certain price point on Black Friday, Small Business Saturday or Cyber Monday.
  5. Most of all, don’t forget to share your good fortune with others. You and your staff should don your logo t-shirts and volunteer at your favorite charity. This is a great time to get to know the families of your staff or team, as well.

Let’s each give thanks, embrace the feelings of gratitude. Let’s reflect on how far we have come over the year. Let’s be thankful for those who have helped us to get this far and let’s proceed to look forward with continued gratitude. When you approach your business with gratitude and hard work, who can fail?

“Being thankful for all that [we have], we have paved the way for receiving even more…, this is the very essence of Thanksgiving!” Unknown

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