Keep Your Business Nimble

Jack is Nimble - Jack is quick!
Jack is Nimble – Jack is quick!

One of the biggest benefits that we, as micro business owners, have over large businesses is the ability to be flexible and to change quickly.  We can respond to market changes and trends.

We can change something, test it to see if it works, and if it doesn’t, change it again.

If you’re an online business, as I am, you can make changes daily on your webpages.  If you get a great price on something or a new item comes in, you can tell your customers about it immediately on your website or by sending out an email message.

Michael Gerber, author of The E-Myth tells us that “the difference between great people and everyone else is that great people create their lives actively, while everyone else is created by their lives, passively waiting to see where life takes them next.  The difference between the two is the difference between living fully and just existing.”

The same statement can be applied to our businesses.  We can wait as the economy and our customers determine where we’ll go next or we can get off our duff and take charge.  We can exist or grow our business to its maximum capacity.

Regardless of what kind of business you’re in, there are only four ways to grow that business:

  1. Get new customers
  2. Increase the dollar amount per transaction
  3. Increase the number of transactions per customer
  4. Increase the length of time your customer stays loyal to you.

One of the biggest mistakes that entrepreneurs make is focusing their entire energy on getting new customers.  Not only does this cost more than keeping existing customers, but it takes more effort because you have to be constantly looking for new ones to replace the ones you lose.

The other three options depend on your staying in touch with your customers on a regular basis and ALSO on continuing to think of reasons for that customer to buy from you either more often or spend more when they do buy.  Creating systems (something I’ll discuss in a later post) makes it much easier to stay on top of this and make it work effectively for you.

For example, you sell a baby gift.  Contact the sender 11 months later and suggest sending a one-year-birthday gift.  Your Realtor customer orders a closing gift.  Suggest that they stay in touch with their customers (and get those listings and referrals) by sending a six-months gift and a one-year-anniversary gift.

Add-on gifts can increase the dollar amount for a transaction.  Think outside the box and look for new and different products that they “simply can’t resist.”  Or how about creating a Costumed Delivery for an extra charge.  A jolly leprecon could deliver a St. Patty’s gift.  Santa or one of his elves could make those Christmas deliveries.  Or, if you’re one of the fortunate few who can carry a tune (and that’s not me!), provide a singing delivery service.

Being a micro-business is what enables us to be Creative Gift Entrepreneurs.  So put on your creative thinking cap and think of some ideas that would enable you to be nimble and test some new and different marketing ideas.  And while you’re at it, share some of those ideas with us.  Just click on “comment” below and share.

What Was Your Last Investment?

What did you last spend money on as an investment?   Was it the stock market?  A new car?  An update of your kitchen? Or something else?

Let me tell you a simple story.  I had a winter that was on an emotional roller-coaster due to some family issues.  First October, then came November, the busy December business rush, and finally January and a hectic Valentine’s February.  I was busy.  Busy running my gift business.  Busy getting out the November-December issue and then the January-February issue of GiftRetailersConnection magazine.  Busy with family.  Busy with all sorts of stuff.

wild-hair-birdBut too busy to get a haircut.  It was fine in October.  But when I looked in the mirror the other day, I suddenly saw what others had been seeing for several months.  The hair was down to my shoulders and looking pretty bad.  Reminds me of the bird in this photo.

It was then that I decided that it was time to invest a little bit of time and a few dollars in something as important as everything else I had been doing.  It was time to invest in myself.

When I looked in the mirror at the beauty salon and saw the difference, I silently asked myself, “What took you so long?”

But what has been even more surprising to me is that a simple haircut made a complete transformation of my whole attitude and how I felt about myself.  Not a big deal?  Perhaps.  But I saw it in others as well as they reacted to this new attitude.

So let me ask you:  When was the last time you made an investment in yourself?  In making you a better business owner?

The haircut was a personal investment.  But I have also made an investment in making myself a better business owner as well.  I’m taking a very advanced writing class from a very special writer.  It’s not inexpensive.  But I know that it is going to be worth it.

Why?  At my age, why would I want to be a better writer?  What can it accomplish for me?  For my business?

A lot!  Because I know that “I” “ME” “MYSELF” will be what is successful.  It’s not going to be my websites.  It’s not going to be my magazine.  It’s not going to be my e-books.  It’s going to be me — using these things as tools — as I climb the ladder towards what I consider success to be for ME.

All of you who are on my forum at giftretailersconnection.ning.com and those of you who read this blog have had the opportunity to invest in yourself and your business by spending just $27.95 on our magazine.  That’s less than the price of that haircut that transformed my attitude.

Have you taken that opportunity?  If not, why not?  Are you telling yourself that you’re not ready for success?  That you’re not worth spending the money on?  That there are other things more important to spend the $27.95 on than growing your business and making yourself successful?

The question is a simple one.  It is simply, “How important are you to yourself?”

 

How is Groundhog Day Like Business?

groundhogRemember the movie Groundhog Day?

Bill Murray wakes up each day to repeat the same day over and over again. No matter what he does, he can’t make any significant changes to his future………..because tomorrow he will wake up and it will be the same day all over again.

Does this sound familiar to you?

Do you feel like each day that every day in your business is the same? You are doomed to repeat the same things over and over. In some cases, this might not be so bad. Maybe you have something working for you that you are glad to wash, rinse, repeat. But many of the things we repeat over and over in our business are not productive and can lead us to attaining results less than what we hope and plan for.

It’s all too easy for business owners to reach a plateau in their business. Often, this plateau is the result of doing the same things over and over again. Heck, some of us do the same things over and over again and expect different results (you know what this is the definition of, I hope). But how do we actually attain different results?

In a precious  issue of Gift Retailers Connection online magazine, we talked about this very subject. Some of the questions, we should ask ourselves are:

How should your business plan for 2013 be different than the one for 2012?

How should you allocate your time during the day?

Is your marketing making any kind of impact?

How are new businesses in town blowing past you?

What are the most common ruts that you, as a business owner, get stuck in?

By not looking at this now, you are doomed once again to doing the same things and getting the same results. And next Groundhog Day, you’ll be in the very same position.

Which One Are You?

I help teach a county small business class and always find it interesting to hear the attendees describe themselves and the business they hope to start during the first session of the class. Most are enthusiastic, even passionate. Many have already done much of the homework ahead of time and know the potential, the cost, and the drawbacks.

frownBut in each class, there is always at least one who has already convinced himself (or herself) that he can’t do it. In that first class, it’s already obvious that the negative person isn’t going to do it.

It’s all a matter of attitude.

When you feel negative, it shows! You can’t hide it.

Passion glows. And you can’t hide that either.

When you are passionate, you’ll do whatever it takes. You don’t believe those emails that you receive about how you can build a successful business in just four hours a day.

You know that it takes work — lots of it. It takes time — lots of it as well.

But if you believe in what you want and what you have to offer, the work and the time comes easy. You’re willing to get up an hour earlier or work until late at night if that is what it takes.

You’re willing to contact that customer who keeps putting you off. It typically takes five to seven ‘touches’ before a potential customer will consider buying whatever you’re selling. Successful salespeople know this and consequently don’t stop after a single phone call or email.

The negative person stops after that first call, telling himself (or herself), “They just don’t like me.” “My stuff isn’t good enough.” Or “They’ll never buy so why waste my time.”

There are even those who talk themselves out of ever making that first call. Trying is hard, and can even be scary. Spending the afternoon playing golf or going swimming sounds way more fun. Remember, you can’t get rejected if you never make an effort.

The negative person always tells himself that they’re rejecting ME!. If you call a potential customer and fail to make a sale, it’s not because they’re on a budget freeze. It’s not because you caught them at the wrong time or in the wrong mood; it’s not because they can’t see an immediate need for what you’re offering; and it’s not because they need time to consider your offer or consult their business partners. It’s because they hate you. If anyone else in the world had called, they’d have bought. They’re probably calling one of your competitors right now just so they can place a million dollar order with anybody but you.

The negative person will never succeed at business.

It’s not because they aren’t good enough.

It’s not because they don’t know enough.

It’s not because they don’t want to.

It’s because they don’t believe they can.

Which one are you?