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.

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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.

 

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: , , , , ,

thanksgiving white pumpkin-2903166_640

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

Visit the new look for Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions. Explore the ways we can help your business or enterprise grow!

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Your Virtual Assistant

Posted October 18, 2017 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions, Uncategorized

Tags: , ,

phones new-years-day-2781454_640I don’t know about you, but I feel busier now than ever. This wonderful age of technology seems to have added to the sense of “too much to do and not enough time to do it.” Add to that is the feeling that I should be doing more: more volunteering, more vacation packed with more activities, more work. Arghhh!

Of course, we know that this sense of overwhelm can lead to stress and stress is the foundation for health problems. In steps the virtual assistant that is as close as your nearest smartphone. In other words, when you can’t afford the services of a virtual assistant, then take advantage of the many ways your smartphone can help you better manage your time and your business.

Here are some tips for using your smartphone as your virtual assistant. I am mostly referring to the Apple iPhone, but other smartphones do pretty much the same thing. Use your phone for the following:

  • Call your ride by giving the name of the destination. Uber and Lyft (or any car service) are your friends. When you “catch a ride,” you eliminate your need to pay attention to the road. Now, you can handle needed phone calls or catchup on your emails while riding to your destination.
  • Pay for goods and services from your phone using any of your debit or credit cards. No more pulling out the wallet, then pulling out the card. In addition, you can use the phone to send money.
  • When expecting a reply to a message, but you must move on to other tasks before the message gets to you, on the iPhone, tap notify and you will be alerted when the message is in.
  • Don’t forget to add extensions to your contacts in your phone; this can save a lot of time and hassle.
  • Facilitate collaboration with colleagues via your smartphone.
  • Manage your calendar by including reminders, alerts and even timers. (Do I really need to remind you of this?)
  • Scan your documents from your smartphone. There are apps that will take care of that for you.
  • If you are using Siri on your iPhone, you can voice text on command and you can ask for your texts to be read. Invaluable if you are trying to find out the last text that came in while you were driving.
  • Of course, you are using your phone for searches. It’s always a hand away!

There are so many more opportunities to put your smartphone to work as your virtual assistant. Take the time now to explore your options. There are specific apps that will enhance what you are doing. It takes some effort before the many ways using your phone as a virtual assistant becomes habit. But believe me, you will save time in the long run.

If there are other business solutions we can help with, don’t hesitate to contact us at Exceptional Transcriptions and Business Solutions. Got a problem you can’t handle because there is just not enough time? We can help you with that!

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Important Resources for the Small Business

Posted August 29, 2017 by Exceptional Blogs
Categories: Business Solutions

Tags: , , ,

business team ID-10066165Do you have everything you need to succeed as a small business? In this complex world there are many resources available to the small business owner. The trick is to fully use these tools in order to realize the greatest success for your business. After all, most small businesses can have access to a global market providing an even greater opportunity to reach your goals.

Listed is a sample of some of the resources you can tap into  for your business:

  1. Your local Chamber of Commerce – contacts and networking opportunities in the area you live in.
  2. The US Chamber of Commerce – national networking and information site.
  3. SCORE – a cadre of mentors waiting to assist you as you grow your business.
  4. SBA – Small Business Administration – access to knowledge and funding resources.
  5. Social Media – schedule regular posing to maximize the benefits of this marketing tool; don’t forget your regular email marketing campaigns.
  6. The Internet – with a little research you can find content in the form of blogs, podcasts, webinars.
  7. National Federation of Independent businesses – NFIB.com
  8. Online social networking sites – there are numerous sites, some are paid memberships, others are free.success written in sand pexels-photo-261630
  9. Books and conferences- new books are released and conferences scheduled every day. The point is that you continue to educate yourself and keep abreast of any new information that could help your business grow.
  10. Smart Outsourcing – determine the parts of business that you can relinquish to another expert that will consequently help you manage your business more efficiently and effectively.
  11. Lead Generation Software – leads are your potential customers, you should always be alert to finding new customers and lead generation software could augment your search.

Growing your business is your most important task if you want to be successful. But you can’t grow without the right tools and resources. Some resources directly impact your business, like lead generating software. Others offer indirect, less immediate results like social media activities.

Don’t leave money on the table! This is a list to stir your thinking and provide possible resources for you to take advantage of.

When you are looking for ways to add more time to your day, consider contacting the Exceptional Transcription and Business Solutions team.

 

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