eBusiness Blog

Communicating to maintain effective client relationships

Communicating to maintain effective client relationships

How you communicate directly impacts your client relationships

How often do you get yourself in trouble because a situation has been misunderstood?

How often do you have to tell people what you “really” meant or that you didn’t like how you learned about a situation?

How upset do your clients and customers get about a product being unavailable?

How much do you dread letting them know that the product isn’t available because of how they will react?

All these scenarios often have nothing to do with what you need to communicate but rather with how you deliver the message.

How you deliver the message plays out both in what I like to call big “C” communications – big corporate announcements and organizational strategy – and in little “c” communications – emails and difficult conversations for example.

Believe it or not, much of the way we think and behave is unconscious. What we value, what we believe, our memory of a situation and past behaviours all feed into how we receive and deliver information.

When we become aware of how we come across we can take control of how we communicate with others.Click To Tweet

And this isn’t just the “soft stuff” of business.

Neuroscientists have been studying human behaviour for decades. I turned to Neuro-linguistic Programming for Dummies by Romilla Ready and Kate Burton to provide some scientific backing for what has been intuitive for me for a long time.

Here are four ways neuroscience tells us we can help our audience be receptive to our message. To conclude, I’ll give you five practical tips to put this science into use.

  • Mirror your audience’s actions and behaviours

    Have you ever walked into a restaurant or bar and noticed how people are interacting with each other?

    Have you noticed groups of people who seem to dress similarly, or how married people seem to come to even look alike over time? Matching and mirroring is when you take on someone else’s style of behaviour as well as their skills, values, or beliefs in order to create rapport.

    This will make your audience feel comfortable and more likely to listen to what you have to say. You can deliberately match and mirror someone by:

    • Body postures and gestures
    • How quickly you breathe
    • How quickly you speak or move
    • How your voice sounds

    CAUTION: You don’t want to mimic people. There is a fine line between moving in rhythm with someone and fitting in, or mimicry. People will know if you are being insincere.

  • Listen so you know what people are looking for

    If you want to really have people buy into what you are saying, then you must truly be present and LISTEN. And that means making sure they know they have been heard.

    Acknowledge their point of view, understand where they are coming from and above all, be patient.

  • Build rapport when communicating virtually

    To build rapport in today’s age of virtual offices, make sure you:

    • Speak more slowly to ensure people can hear you
    • Make sure you have people’s attention before you make your point
    • Use people’s names more often than you might in face-to-face meetings so they feel included and heard
    • Visualise the person at the end of the phone line as you listen to the conversation
    • If you are in a video-conference, look into the camera and appear to be visually present (no escaping to Facebook during teleconferences here!)
    • Summarise the meeting afterwards and confirm via email what was decided upon
  • Use multiple ways of communicating to make sure your message gets across:

    Find out who your audience is. If they are audio listeners, the words you use will be important. If your audience is more visual, then graphs, charts and pictures will help them remember information.

    Kinaesthetic audiences will focus on the tone of your voice and the feeling they experienced upon receiving the information.

So what does this mean for your daily interactions with your clients?

  1. Ensure you have their attention before sharing your message.
  2. Did they understand what you had to say? Ask questions to probe their response to your conversation.
  3. Use language and mannerisms your clients can relate to – use mirroring to deliver messages in a way that makes them feel comfortable.
  4. Follow-up with email after decisions are made to ensure you’re both on the same page.
  5. Have you inspired them to act? Find out what they care about so you can better motivate them to participate in your desired outcome.

Following the tips included in this article will shape how you deliver your message and guarantee improved communications with your clients.

Take some time to truly understand and internalize these techniques and you will be well on your way to avoiding difficult situations.

About the Author, Susan Elford

Kathryn Wilking

Susan Elford, PR Strategist & Leadership Coach, works with start-ups and seasoned entrepreneurs to help them get real about their strengths and celebrate them so they get more of what they want; clients, exposure and success, while living a life of balance.

Visit Susan at www.elfordcommunications.com for traditional PR support and www.susanelford.com for a look into how she works with her coaching clients.


How Great Customer Service Gets You Business Referrals

Have you ever been frustrated by the lack of customer service from another company and vowed to never do business with them again? And most certainly never told anyone else about them?

This is why customer service is so vital to business success as I explain in this eTip episode on why it’s the primary reason we have such a high referral rate.

We get a lot of new customers based on the quality of our customer service.

Our referral rate is around the 90-95% range so I wanted to share our secrets for good customer service.

For us that means things like answering our phone, responding to emails quickly, and making sure our customer’s needs are taken care of.

Obviously you can’t do that 24/7 but having a solid response time is good business practice and your customers will appreciate you for it.

Respond to them in a timely manner and appreciate that their brand may be affected by what service they need you for.

People want to get information fast so making them wait is not good customer service.

If you don’t respond in a timely manner you risk pushing them towards your competition.

By providing a high level of customer service you demonstrate to the potential client that they can expect good work out of you if they commit to your business.

Sometimes your needs might need to be set aside while you put the customer first.

Dealing with difficult clients and mistakes wisely

No matter how much someone upsets you always make your best attempt at being professional and polite.

Even if you’re having a bad day consider they may be as well and the additional stress of bad customer service can really put them off your business.

If you do make a mistake own up to it and make it right. Mistakes happen and if you take responsibility for the error and solve the issue then your client will appreciate you more.

Let them know what steps you’ve taken to ensure those mistakes don’t happen ever again.

People don’t get mad about mistakes.

Your customers won’t get mad if you make a mistake. They will get mad if you don’t acknowledge the mistake or don’t take steps to address the mistake and prevent it from happening again.

Don’t lay blame with somebody else and by taking responsibility you show the customer you respect them, which will go a long way when they start looking for who to refer their friends to.

If one of your team members makes a mistake it’s still a reflection on you and your business.

Let them know you’re tackling the mistake and you’ll find they respond well to your professionalism.

When you’re in business you are in the people to people business so the more respect you pay to them the better. Treat your customers with respect and they will in turn refer their friends to you because they’ll know their friends will experience the same high level of customer service that you’ve provided to them.

If you have your own stories about how providing great customer service has helped you or has gained you a great new lead that turned into a client then please share them in the comments below.

Until next time,
Susan Friesen

Social Blast for Entrepreneurs

What If You Could Learn Social Media and Online Marketing Each Month With Ease?

If you are new to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing, my monthly group coaching program, Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs is a perfect way for you to incrementally learn the best strategies and tactics to help you grow your business online.

  • Uncover what it takes to execute a successful, revenue-driving social media strategy
  • Learn how to build relationships, trust, and brand awareness with your ideal customer
  • Discover actionable strategies to engage followers online
  • Master creating compelling content that’s always on target
  • Discern how to authentically differentiate your brand in a crowded marketplace
  • Find out the best times to post for higher readership
  • Stay abreast with the latest prospecting techniques to grow your list, groups and more…
  • Learn ways to engage through social media monitoring and listening

It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.

› CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Customer Service Strategies in a Digital World

Customer Service and PR in the Digital World

How to get your social media presence set up right so you can deal with customer complaints like a Pro

With social media being so prevalent, users often take to their favourite channel with their complaints.

75% of users surveyed said they include social media when evaluating a purchase.

32% want a response within 30 minutes and 42% expect a response in under an hour!

When you set up your social media keep that in mind.

How to use social media for customer service

Using social media to manage customer complaints may seem like a burden but the payoff is repeat business and happy customers.

Users often take to the majors like Twitter and Facebook.  Don’t shy away from either even if you’ve received some nasty feedback in the past.

When you initially set up your accounts you entered an email to register and you’ve probably noticed unless you changed the settings you get an email every time someone is active on your page/profile.

If you find this bothersome try creating an email like customerservice@example.com that forwards to your own account or the account of an employee whose job it is to monitor your online presence.

If it’s directed to your own email create a folder or label specifically for customer service or PR that these emails automatically go to. Don’t let it get lost in your emails though or you’ll miss alerts.

*Depending on your email setup this will vary in execution*

These alerts will let you know when you have a new comment or message on your profile.

When you get one have a response protocol ready. You don’t want to jump on a complaint and then have to wait 2 days for a decision-maker to draft their response.

One single meeting with your team on customer service/PR protocol on social platforms can save you a lot of headaches.

Have canned responses ready

Use Social Media to make your customers happy. Learn how to use social for customer serviceClick To Tweet

Canned responses refer to an automatically generated response that is prompted by the user contacting you. You may have seen these in the past and wondered how they get set up; now you get to set them up for yourself:

Twitter

Twitter rolled out some great tools last year for users who operate their business online:

https://business.twitter.com/i/settings/support

That link allows you to upgrade your account with messages that will automatically send to anyone who messages you directly and will show users that you provide this option.

You account will show your support hours and users will see that you take their feedback seriously.

This is a great signal to Google too – that you’re serious about your business and helping customers.

If you want more help using Twitter try our section dedicated to using Twitter for business.

Facebook

Facebook also allows you to set up your account to help communicate with customers via instant messaging. To turn on instant replies to any instant message to your business’s page follow these instructions:

To turn on Instant Replies for your Page:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click Messaging in the left column
  3. Below Response Assistant, click to select Yes next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page
  4. To change your instant reply message, click Change, update the message and click Save

To turn off Instant Replies:

  1. Click Settings at the top of your Page
  2. Click Messaging in the left column
  3. Below Response Assistant, click to select No next to Send Instant Replies to anyone who messages your Page

You can direct users in both instances towards a contact email or simply let them know you’ll review their message within the next 24 hours and respond.

Once you have these set up, how you use them is entirely up to you. Each were only available within the last 2 years so not all businesses have adapted yet but those that have done it have set user’s expectations.

For more tips on using Facebook look at our section all about using Facebook to grow your business.

Monitor your reviews

Whether it’s Yelp (who’s results are now actually trending in SERPs) Google reviews, or Facebook reviews (if you have them turned on) it’s very important to stay on top of your reviews. There could be even more players in your niche so be on the lookout for sites dedicated to reviewing your products or services.

If you get a bad one you don’t want to remove it. That would defeat the purposes of the reviews.

Instead use the platform’s response option to address the reviewer’s concerns.

By demonstrating to users you take their feedback and complaints seriously you show them they can trust they’ll be treated with the same respect should things go wrong between you and them.

The point of PR and customer feedback should not be to defend yourself outright.

While some users may be serial complainers or even thieves always assume the best in the customer.

Use their complaint or question as an opportunity to possibly address something within your business you should have paid attention to a long time ago.

Often you’ll find the customer has either made an error or there’s a genuine issue you need to address with your business.

Whatever the case, keep in mind what you post will be what users see when reading up on your company. Not only that but Google looks for signals of a bad business in online engagement and reviews as well.

Position yourself as a responsible business owner who will address their concerns, so whenever someone reads about your business they get the right impression.

Just because a lot of customer service has moved online doesn’t change the fact that your business needs to give a good impression to potential users/customers. Put a smile on people’s faces as much as possible and your social media can really help you grow.

To your ongoing success,
Susan Friesen

P.S. New to Social Media and online marketing or find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.
>> CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS

P.P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Customer Service in the Digital WorldClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

The True Costs of Not Having a Customer Loyalty Plan

Customer Loyalty Plan

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series – L is for Loyalty

As the old expression states, “people come and people go.” In your personal life, it can be easy to shrug off a person and move on. However, when it’s your business, this can be a very costly attitude to adopt.

The creation and implementation of a customer loyalty plan is necessary for all small businesses.

Look at the costs of customer acquisition vs. customer retention. While sources vary, they do agree that it costs between 4 and 10 times more to find new customers than it does to keep the old ones happy.

First, let’s look at the cost of acquiring new customers.

Do you know how much your company spends on attracting new customers and getting them to buy? It’s called the ‘Cost of Acquisition.’

There are varying ways to flush out this important number. You can look at what it costs to send out an email, an advertisement, purchase Google Ad words, or arrange a visit from a sales person.

However, you also need to look at other costs such as training, agency costs (if you use one), or internal costs for marketing. Once this number is added up, owners are usually surprised at how high the initial costs of acquiring a new customer can be.

How about the customers you attract through the door or by getting them to click online and shop?

Here’s the reality for you. It can take several transactions with that customer before they become loyal (Source: www.refresher.com/the-real-costs-of-losing-customers/).

How much is it costing your company every time you attempt to draw them back?

If you are unsure of what to review, look at performance indicators like marketing and advertising costs, employee costs, cost-of-goods, the hard costs of keeping your business open such as rent, hydro etc.

Customer retention is the name of the business game. Here’s a statistic that should give you incentive: “A 5% increase in retention yields profit increases of 25% to 95%” (Source: Bain & Co. 1990).

So, in the big game of business and profit, it’s all about loyalty.

About the Author, Pamela Chatry

Pamela Chatry

Do you work too hard? Is your business in chaos? If you are struggling with business issues, contact Pamela Chatry for a complimentary assessment. Pamela has been a trusted and highly respected Business Consultant, Mentor for Women in Business, Self-Employment Advocate, Trainer and Keynote Speaker for over 25 years.

Visit www.pamelachatry.com or call her at 778-856-8970 for help in getting your business to its fullest potential.


Don’t Be a Jack (or Jill) of all Trades. Be an Industry Master

Don't be a Jack or Jill or All Trades

Why focusing on your core competency will get you greater returns and more referrals

Have you ever hired someone to do a job believing they were the expert you needed to fix the washer or repair your car?

When the washer leaks again or the car breaks down within 24 hours of having it fixed, it is incredibly frustrating.

You thought you had the right company to do the job but instead, you find you hired a ‘Jack of all Trades.’

Unfortunately, the world is full of companies who pass themselves off as experts, but they are really generalists in their trade.

Now, I’m not saying most businesses do a lousy job.

I’m just saying that if a company is a ‘Master’ of their industry and knows their business, it can help that business to stand out from the competition.

And who doesn’t want to stand out?

Becoming a ‘Master’ in your field also leads to making better business decisions when hiring the right people and identifying the necessary up-to-date training.

It also incites innovative thinking by setting the performance bar higher. We ask, “How can we do it better, faster or more efficiently?”

Masters of the business game want, and more often than not, success in turning customers into raving fans.

Here are a couple of additional benefits to discarding the ‘Jack (or Jill) of all Trades’ label:

  • It becomes easier to create a clear marketing message. Once a business has identified its special differentiator, the messages can focus in on what your company does best.
  • The customer may demand a higher quality of work from you, but you can charge higher rates.
  • You don’t always need to chase new markets. Referrals will come naturally as the standards of excellence are established and delivered. This may save marketing dollars.

So, is it time to do a business review?

Is your business a ‘Jack (or Jill) of all Trades’?

If so, perhaps it is time to shift the vision and examine how your organization can become a ‘Master’ or more of a Master of the business game. It’s worth the effort it will take to get you there.

The added bonus? More money in your bank!

About the Author, Pamela Chatry

Pamela Chatry

Do you work too hard? Is your business in chaos? If you are struggling with business issues, contact Pamela Chatry for a complimentary assessment. Pamela has been a trusted and highly respected Business Consultant, Mentor for Women in Business, Self-Employment Advocate, Trainer and Keynote Speaker for over 25 years.

Visit www.pamelachatry.com or call her at 778-856-8970 for help in getting your business to its fullest potential.


5 Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation in Your Business

5 Ways to Create a Culture of Innovation in Your Business

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series – I is for Innovation

What’s one really big advantage a small company has over a large one?

The smaller company can adopt innovation and introduce change quickly.   Innovation can result in increased revenue, cost reduction, better client relations, improve your competitive edge, and create an exciting work environment.

Let’s not confuse innovation with creativity. WhatIs.com defines ‘Innovation’ as, “an organization’s process for introducing new ideas, workflows, methodologies, services or products.”

As Siyana Sokolova states in her blog:

“Creativity goes hand in hand with innovation.  And there is no innovation without creativity. While creativity is the ability to produce new and unique ideas, innovation is the implementation of that creativity – that’s the introduction of a new idea, solution, process, or product.  

Creativity is the driving force behind innovation and the incorporation of looking at things from a different perspective and freedom of restrictions by rules and written or unwritten norms.”

Here’s a recent example of a simple, but impactful innovative idea. 

I recently took a WestJet flight on my way home from Costa Rica.  After boarding the plane in Liberia, the plane was reversing, preparing to taxi to the landing strip.  I looked out the window and saw 5 men walking towards the plane, all in a row.

They all stopped and unfurled a banner with a WestJet logo on it.  The banner was held and directed towards the plane.  It read, “Thank you for visiting Costa Rica.  Come back soon.  Pura Vida.”

The whole planeload of people laughed, smiled, waved and took pictures to post on social media when they arrived home.  What a powerful way to make a lasting impression!

Someone had come up with the idea, and then a team had created a plan to carry out the farewell message for every WestJet flight that left the country.

Here’s 5 ways you can create a culture of innovation in your company:

  1. Hold regular idea generation meetings and involve your staff whenever possible. At each meeting, pick one area of the business to concentrate on.  Pose a pre-planned question or two. 
     
    For example, if you are a retailer you might ask the question, “How can we sell more at our POS?” or “How can we get our staff excited about the new fall line-up?” Be sure and give everyone an opportunity to share ideas. 
     
    Remind your staff that there are no bad ideas.
  2. Hold follow-up meetings with your leadership team. Use the terms, ‘feasibility’, ‘desirability’, and ‘viability’ as your guidelines to evaluate ideas.
  3. Keep the great ideas stored somewhere. Not every idea can be adopted right now, but you never know when they can be used.
  4. >Once an idea is adopted, create an action and implementation plan. Examine current practices and brainstorm new ideas for improved efficiency, increased revenue, or better client relations.
     
    Identify who will be involved and what specific steps need to be taken, then attach working deadlines.  Hold everyone accountable to the process.
  5. Book time in your management meetings for discussion around innovation. Create a culture of research.  Encourage information sharing, both from a local and global perspective.  
     
    Monitor trends, and be open to new ideas.  Encourage outside the box thinking.

Business innovation is crucial in our fast-paced world.  Technology often demands response quickly. 

Be brave.  Be unique.  Be innovative.

About the Author, Pamela Chatry

Pamela Chatry

Do you work too hard? Is your business in chaos? If you are struggling with business issues, contact Pamela Chatry for a complimentary assessment. Pamela has been a trusted and highly respected Business Consultant, Mentor for Women in Business, Self-Employment Advocate, Trainer and Keynote Speaker for over 25 years.

Visit www.pamelachatry.com or call her at 778-856-8970 for help in getting your business to its fullest potential.


What it Takes to Create an Award-Winning Business

14 Strategies We Attribute to Our Recent Business Excellence Award

What it Takes to Create an Award-Winning Business

Out of the blue, I received an email from the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce one day notifying me that eVision Media was nominated for a 2016 Business Excellence award.

Say what?

Once I got past my shock and disbelief that they must have the wrong Susan… it began to sink in that someone out there thought we were worthy enough of this nomination. Wow, what an honour!

Part of the nomination process consisted of a 30-minute interview in front of a 3-judge panel. Imagine being forced to actually brag about yourself for a half an hour!

Talk about squirming in my seat!

winning Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce business excellence award 2016Fast forward to last week where the awards ceremony took place. Much to my relief, our category was  up first so I could relax the rest of the evening.

To be honest, I wasn’t all that anxious – I knew the odds of winning was only 1 in 7 so I waited patiently for the winner’s name to be announced, not at all expecting it to be us.

But it was! eVision Media was declared the winner!

SAY WHAT???

Shock and disbelief once again came over me as I took a moment to grasp what just happened. Walking to the stage was quite the blur but I managed to do it without tripping up the stairs to get our award. 🙂

In the aftermath of winning this wonderful recognition, I reflected some more about that judge’s interview and how they deemed us the winner from the other worthy nominees in our category.

With that in mind, I wanted to share some of the attributes I feel helped us win this prestigious award.  Without further ado, here’s what it took for us to create an award-winning business:

  1. Be Passionate About What You Do

    eVision Media is not the first business I’ve created; there’s been plenty others ranging from creating craft pieces to faux finish painting. But no matter what I did, I was very passionate about it.
     
    Don’t waste your time trying to run a business just to make money. You’re going to tire of it very quickly and it will be harder to make sales.
     
    But when you’re passionate about what you do, others will immediately see that and will be drawn to you like a magnet.

    When you’re passionate about what you do, others will see it and be drawn to you like a magnet.Click To Tweet
  2. Love Working With the People You Serve and Offer Exceptional Customer Service

    One of the truest joys I receive is the knowing how much we are able to help a new business owner get their online presence up and running. Being a part of their joy at seeing their dream materialize into something tangible gives me just as much joy.
     
    If you avoid answering the phone or responding to emails because you dread having to talk to a client, then you need to adjust your marketing so you attract the right people to work with.
     
    If you don’t love who you’re working with, then it’s hard to establish a successful business that needs to cater to your clients by making customer service a #1 priority. And that means answering the phone, responding to emails in a prompt manner, and treating every person as if they were your only client. And when you’re attracting your perfect ideal client, then this should be easy to do.
     
    Make your business about them, not you. Just remember, if you had no clients, then you’d have no business.

    Make your business about your clients, not you. If you have no clients, you have no business.Click To Tweet
  3. Know Your Stuff

    Before even thinking about starting a web development/digital marketing business, I ensured I got the education I needed first. I attended the Vancouver Film School in their Multi-Media program and then later earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a concentration in Computer Information Systems (with an A+ GPA).
     
    Not to mention the countless online courses I’ve taken over the years to ensure my skills are kept up-to-date with this ever changing industry.
     
    Sadly, I see a lot of entrepreneurs wanting to start a business with not a lot of skills or experience under their belt and then they wonder why they’re struggling.
     
    Reading a book or taking one on-line course is probably not enough to reach award-winning status. But if you’re passionate about building a successful business, you’ll find a way to ensure you become as qualified as needed.

    Reading a book or taking one on-line course is probably not enough to reach award-winning status.Click To Tweet
  4. Be Committed

    Is working 15 hour days, 6-7 days a week committed enough? Yep, that’s what Daniel and I do every week. We have to in order to fulfil points 2 and 3 above.
     
    It takes a lot of time and effort to ensure your clients are taken care of properly. You also need a “do whatever it takes” level of commitment.
     
    You might not need to work such long hours as us and trust me, we’re continually working towards lessening that kind of volume but until then, we are willing to do whatever it takes to ensure our business is successful. Are you?

    Are you willing to do whatever it takes to ensure your business is successful?Click To Tweet
  5. Be Consistent

    Consistency shows up in many forms when running a successful business. For me, it’s being consistent with my message, my brand, my Social Media presence, my newsletters, my team management, and the level of quality we bring to our clients.
     
    Do I miss sometimes? Absolutely. But being consistent in these areas are very important to me, and I do what needs to be done in order to show up the best I can for my team and our clients.
     
    Without consistency, it’s hard to create brand ambassadors (such as the ones who nominate you for an award), loyal team members, and a steady flow of clients.
     
    Whatever you have decided to commit to, be consistent at it and you’ll be amazed at how things start to flow your way.

    Whatever you decide to commit to, be consistent and you’ll be amazed at how things flow your way.Click To Tweet
  6. Surround Yourself With a Dedicated and Knowledgeable Team

    I started off as a one-woman show. Because of my educational background, I was able to do the design, build and marketing of a website quite easily. I’m what you would call a “generalist”, someone who knows a lot of about a lot of things and is a specialist in a few areas.
     
    But my one-woman show was not going to create a successful business. Especially in this technologically-driven industry. It quickly became apparent my skillset was only going to get me so far.
     
    So my first hire was someone who could offset my biggest weakness. Warren was a student at UFV and applied for my part time programmer position. He was a perfect complement to eVision Media and the moment he came on board, I was relieved of having to do all the site builds myself. I could then take that time and focus on building the business instead.
     
    It’s tough to try and do everything yourself when it comes to running a business. Sure, there are expenses involved in hiring but if you hire smart, keep an eye on your bottom line, and know when to let go of those that aren’t serving you best, your business will escalate far quicker than if you try to struggle with everything yourself.
     
    This topic is worthy of a whole article itself so I encourage you to read How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level for more.

    It’s tough to try and do everything yourself when it comes to running a business.Click To Tweet
  7. Have Honesty, Authenticity and Gratitude be a Part of Your Daily Life

    It’s sad I even need to list this as an attribute but I’ve been in business long enough to know not everyone adheres to these principles.
     
    To me, this is a no-brainer – I’m not certain I could live any other way?
     
    But judging from the stories I hear from new clients about how they were treated by their previous web developer, it sounds like many people need to be reminded of this.
     
    No business will thrive without honesty and integrity. And a little secret: gratitude will not only make your business thrive, but your whole life too. Give it a try and see what I mean.

    No business will thrive without honesty and integrity. Plus the secret sauce: gratitudeClick To Tweet
  8. Persevere

    Every business, including ours, has its ups and downs. The key to success is to not let those “downs” overcome your enthusiasm. Pick yourself back up, learn from whatever lesson there was to be learned, and keep moving forward.
     
    If we had quit when we only had $20 credit left on our credit cards at Christmas time just a handful of years ago, we wouldn’t be award winners now!

    The key to business success is to not let your 'downs' overcome your enthusiasm.Click To Tweet
  9. Invest in Your Business

  10. Building eVision Media has been one investment after another. It never ends really.
     
    There’s always something that needs to be worked on. Here’s a short list of my recommendations on where you need to invest in your business:

    1. Branding & Website
    2. Marketing
    3. Education
    4. Building a Team
    Building your business means investing in it continuallyClick To Tweet
  11. Understand You’re Running a Business, Not a Hobby.

    I think this is an important distinction to make and one many entrepreneurs aren’t differentiating.
     
    I’ve always looked at eVision Media as a business and that’s mostly due to my business mind and having a business degree.
     
    But for those that simply are passionate about something and have a dream to make money off of it, it’s hard to know exactly HOW to turn that dream into a business.
     
    They end up blindly doing what they think they should be doing, all by themselves, in order to save money (or not spend money they don’t have) and hope for the best.
     
    If this sounds familiar, I’m adding another business investment to consider as your top priority: A business coach or mentor. ASAP. Otherwise, you’ll probably end up just running a hobby.

    Entrepreneurs: It's important to differentiate if you're running a business or a hobbyClick To Tweet
  12. Set up a Systemized Business Structure

    I’ve worked with a lot of clients over the years. Some amaze me at how organized and systemized they are. And others, well, not so much.
     
    Having a systemized business structure in place is the only reason I haven’t gone insane with my daily workload.
     
    Here’s the tools we use to be more organized, efficient and less stressed.

    Having a systemized business structure in place will keep you sane.Click To Tweet
  13. Get Comfortable With Sales

    Sales. It’s a dirty word for many entrepreneurs and business owners alike. Me too. I hate to think of myself as a “sales person” but at the end of the day, if we’re not selling our wares, we don’t have a business.
     
    Now that’s not to say you need to become a pushy, in-your-face predator. Far from it.
     
    Remember attribute #1 about being passionate? That’s what you need. People will trust your passion and will respond to it. But be careful, sometimes passion can be too intense and will turn people away.
     
    Find your sweet spot as to what resonates with your ideal clients and keep working at it. But do embrace the fact you’re selling your wares and learn some strategies that fit with your personality and comfort level that will work.

    When it comes to sales, people will trust your passion and respond to it.Click To Tweet
  14. Give Back

    Giving back is an imperative attribute to have when building a successful business. We give back in several ways, here’s some ideas to consider that we do:

    • Offer discounted prices for non-profits
    • Volunteer your services to community groups
    • Send cash donations to worthy charities you believe in
    • Make purchases that support worthy causes
    • Donate door prizes and/or silent auction items for fund raising activities
    • And support your own clients whenever you can

     

    Giving back is an imperative attribute to have when building a successful business.Click To Tweet
  15. Be Accessible

    When new clients approach me due to being disenchanted with their existing web developer or marketer, the most often complaint I hear is they can never get a hold of the person. Either they take forever to respond to an email or never answer their phone.
     
    I think I’m going to write a book on how NOT to run a successful business based on this alone. It boggles my mind when I consistently hear stories like this. How are these people keeping a business going with such poor service and accessibility?
     
    I have a policy to answer emails within a day of receipt. I often exceed that policy but sometimes the volume is too much and I get delayed in responding. Same thing with the phone. If we’re available to answer, we do so. If we’re not, we’ll call the person back right away.
     
    Being accessible provides peace of mind to our clients; they know we care enough about them to take care of their needs in a timely manner. ‘nuff said.

    Being accessible brings client peace of mind; it shows you care about them and their needs.Click To Tweet

There you have it. My honest take on what created eVision Media to be an award-winning business. Maybe I need to write a book about this because, honestly, I could have added more but, it’s coming into the 15th hour on this Sunday night of working so I’ll leave it at that.

What about you? What would you add to the list? Please leave a comment below, I’d love to hear from you!

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here's What it Takes to Create an Award-Winning BusinessClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level

How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next Level

5 Members Every Growing Business Needs on Their Team

Many businesses begin as a solo-entrepreneurship. With one person who has a vision, passion and skill that compels them embark on a journey so they can make a difference in the world and build a successful business along the way.

But the truth of the matter is, no one can build a successful, thriving business singlehandedly.

No one can build a successful, thriving business singlehandedlyClick To Tweet

One person can’t possibly possess all of the skills needed to carry out day-to-day business and marketing operations. Not well anyway.

As solo-entrepreneurs build their business, it’s a natural progression to surround themselves with a support team in order to avoid becoming stagnant and making costly mistakes.

After all, they simply don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to charting new territory in the business world.

When I began building my team years ago, I started by hiring people who offset my weaknesses.

Being a generalist in the web development/online marketing field made that a bit tricky because there was a lot that I could do myself. But as technology evolved and I got busier, it became clear in order to expand my business, I needed to bring in qualified resources so I could provide more value to my clients.

We all have strengths and weaknesses and if we want our business to be successful, it’s important to have others on our team who are more capable at certain tasks than we are.

The challenge is to be honest enough to be able to admit where our skills fall short and where we could use help in offsetting them.

Be honest enough to admit where your skills fall short & where you need help in your businessClick To Tweet

I had a conversation with a visionary client the other day after he realized his business was in a state of disarray due to him trying to manage it all himself (or hiring the wrong people for the wrong reasons to help him). He was asking who he needed on his team so he could better focus on what he was good at. So below is a resulting list of what I shared with him.

Here’s 5 essential team members and resources every solo business person needs when they are ready to grow to the next level:

  1. Financial Person

    Someone to take care of the bookkeeping, tax filings, payroll etc. This person doesn’t need to be on the payroll, just have someone available that you can outsource this work to so they can free up your valuable time and let them do what they do best.

  2. Legal Representative

    It’s always good to have access to legal advice, especially when it comes to creating contracts and even for debt collection.

  3. Administrative Assistant

    This type of person can end up being a hugely valuable resource on your team that will free up a ton of your time so you can focus on your business instead of all of the little details.
     
    Here’s a brief list of what this type of assistant can help you with:

    1. Calendar management. Have your assistant set up your appointments for you (or use an automated service like Acuity.)
    2. Team or project management where they are responsible for ensuring delegated tasks are done accurately and on time.
    3. Customer service liaison where they take care of all client questions and concerns.
    4. Email management where they can manage your inbox for you and delegate to appropriate team members instead of you being the middleman.
    5. Affiliate management. If your business includes selling online programs where affiliates and other partnerships are involved, an affiliate manager can keep everything organized and running smoothly.

    Depending on your type of  business, you can probably think of many other areas that an assistant could help you with including doing personal errands if they are local.

  4. Social Media Manager

    Let’s face it, social media is a big time drainer. But in today’s marketing world, it’s a necessity for every business to have a social media presence.
     
    Even though you do not want to delegate all social media activities to others, a social media manager can help by creating and scheduling daily posts, being a customer service representative, posting news and updates, sharing blog articles, uploading YouTube videos and much more.
     
    Qualified social media managers can also take on the marketing tasks of creating and fulfilling promotional campaigns including Facebook ads.

  5. Website & Marketing Team

    Notice I didn’t say a “website guy or gal” as in a single person. There are many different components that make up a website and it’s rare one single person can be really good at them all.
     
    So having a website team as a resource will ensure all of the areas that are needed to create, manage and promote an effective website are in place such as:

Every business is different and these roles are the essentials for new entrepreneurs but can easily be added to depending on the industry you are in and the type of business you want to create.

It also doesn’t hurt to have a business mentor or coach to help guide you through all the different areas that you might not be thinking of too.

So if you are a solo-entrepreneur and are getting overwhelmed or too busy at trying to learn and do everything yourself, perhaps it’s time to consider the benefits of having someone on your team who can support further growth and sustainability for your business.

If you're overwhelmed or too busy, consider the benefits of a team to help grow your businessClick To Tweet

The first step is determining your weaknesses and finding suitable people to offset those.

The second step is to take action. And if you’re wanting a web and marketing team who will be your trustworthy champion every step of the way, consider eVision Media as that valuable resource you’ve been needing.

I’d love to hear from you: have you started to surround yourself with a team yet?

To your success,

P.S. If you found this article helpful, please share it with your Twitter followers:

Here's How to Take a Solo-Entrepreneurship to the Next LevelClick To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

Is Social Media Really Worth it for a Small Business?

Is Social Media Really Worth It for a Small Business?

As a business owner and solopreneur, it’s really important to know that the time, energy, and resources you invest in your business provides a generous return on investment.

Social media platforms are a powerful tool that can help you market your business, but unless you know how to use it to generate tangible ROI for your business, is it really worth it?

Social Media can be a powerful marketing tool if you know how to get a ROIClick To Tweet

This article will provide you with a clear breakdown of all the information you need to make the best decision for your business.

How Much Time Does Social Media Require?

Even though having social media accounts is free (unless you spend money on ads), that doesn’t mean there are no costs associated to using these platforms to your benefit.

Since time costs money to business owners, let’s look at the amount of time the average business owner spends on social media.

According to a survey by Vertical Response, about 43 percent of small businesses spend about 6 hours per week on social media.

Writing and posting a weekly blog post can take 1-3 hours to do. So this means it takes a full day to write, schedule, and post to social media plus write and post a blog article each week.

It can take 8 hours a week to focus on social media for small businessesClick To Tweet

This is assuming you, the business owner would be doing everything required to fulfil these two marketing tasks.  If you decide to hire someone to help, then the money you pay out needs to be the ROI factor as opposed to your time.

The Benefits of Social Media

On the flip side let’s look at the advantages of social media for your business.  In general, there are 5 benefits a business owner can count on if using social media marketing:

  1. Relationship Building: Social media is an excellent way to build relationships with prospects. It provides an opportunity for multiple exposures to your fan base by using a mixture of information and calls to action.
  2. Lead Generation: Add followers to your email marketing list by sharing links to downloadable freebies on your social media accounts. This allows you to send follow-up emails and information that can lead to sales.
  3. Traffic Generation: SEO optimized blog posts can help your website rank higher for important keywords in the search engines. Plus, when you post blog articles, you can tell your social media followers about them and share the link to your blog to read more.
  4. Consistency: Staying top of mind requires frequent marketing touches. With many people spending hours a day checking their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts on their smart phones, social media gives you lots of exposure to your target market.
     
    Sharing daily social media posts and weekly blog articles keeps the relationship with your customers strong.
  5. Customer Service: Social media offers an easy way for customers to reach you with questions, problems, or complaints about your products and services.

    This gives you a chance to respond immediately to address the issue.  Plus, giving the VIP treatment to customers in need shows that you are a company who cares and goes a long way towards building your reputation online.

Social Media Tactics That Drive Results

What actions should your business be doing regularly on social media to generate the best results?

Here are just a few of the tactics you should be employing on your social media channels:

  • Strategically planning social media content in alignment with sales goals
  • Curate content on a regular basis
  • Promote LinkedIn Pulse and blog posts on social media
  • Interact with other social media pages and groups to attract new followers
  • Create and share social media graphics, photos, videos and infographics
  • Listen and respond to comments on your own social media posts
  • Engage in social listening and respond to those who mention you
  • Promote high engagement posts with social media ads
  • Review analytics and reporting on engagement posts and reach
  • Plan opt-in freebies to share on social media for list building
  • Write and post blog posts
  • Look for guest blogging opportunities
  • and so on…

So you can see to really stay ahead of the game, realistically, you need to have a dedicated social media person or hire some help to do it right.

The ROI of Social Media

Because the benefits of social media efforts are often intangible, such as the amount of brand exposure your business would get, it’s often difficult to put an actual number to the ROI of your social media efforts.

But if you look at it this way, just a few new customers every month (depending on what you sell) would more than likely pay the costs of doing social media marketing for your business.

Plus, if you hire someone to manage your social media, it frees you to focus on other revenue-generating activities.

Bottom line, if you aren’t on social media, you are missing out on business. The opportunity cost of not marketing on social media is with lost visibility, less website traffic, slower list building, and weaker relationships.

To your success,

P.S. New to online marketing or you find it overwhelming and confusing? Check out Social Blast: eMarketing for Entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly group coaching program for those just starting out or wanting more advanced strategies to help with their online marketing and social media efforts.
CLICK HERE: www.socialblastcoaching.com

P.P.S. if you found this article helpful, please share it with your followers!

Is Social Media Really Worth it for a Small Business? This article helps decide:Click To Tweet

About the Author, Susan Friesen

10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum ResultsSusan Friesen is the founder of eVision Media, a boutique web development and Digital Marketing firm of over 15 years that specializes in designing, building and marketing professional, unique websites for entrepreneurs, businesses and organizations.

Visit www.ultimatewebsiteguide.ca and grab your FREE "Ultimate Guide to Improving Your Website's Profitability - 10 Critical Questions You Must Ask to Get Maximum Results".

7 Essential Keys to Developing Self-Trust

7 Essential Keys to Developing Self-Trust

Reflecting back on my life, I remember feeling so envious of people who felt comfortable in their own skin and radiated self-confidence at the time when I felt like a shrinking violet.

A vivid memory that stands out is when I was in my early 20s, sitting in the audience watching a man on stage giving a lecture about the benefits of meditation.  I was mesmerized, not by his words, but by his presence.

He wasn’t particularly good-looking, nor did he have a ‘killer’ body; it wasn’t even that he was charismatic.  So what was it about him that utterly riveted my attention?

He was relaxed and comfortable in himself. He trusted himself completely.

Observing him sharing his thoughts and personal stories, and later fielding questions from the audience, I knew that my first step was to learn how to meditate and that more would be revealed.

Practicing meditation calmed and released my stress, supported my composure under pressure and heightened my awareness.  I noticed that:

  • I said, “Yes” when I wanted to say, “No” or, at least, “I don’t know, can I get back to you?”
  • I caved in to others’ ideas and suggestions, letting my own input bite the dust.
  • I watched how I undermined my own decision-making, second-guessing myself.
  • I routinely put other people’s needs and desires before my own.
  • I tried so hard to be perfect or what others seemingly wanted me to be.
  • And, I realized that I didn’t trust myself.

I came to understand over time that you cannot be trusted unless you trust yourself completely, and you cannot trust others if you do not trust yourself!

It became my imperative to develop self-trust.  On the one hand, it is an ongoing project but, on the other hand, it really is doable. Here’s how I did it:

  1. Developing self-trust begins with the daily practice of grounding and centering.

    One of my biggest obstacles was that I developed a preference as a child for being out of my body. It felt safer to be out than in; after all, if I were in my body, I would have to feel all the pain I was in.
     
    I now call this “faulty problem-solving.”  That is, you ostensibly solve one problem but, in actuality, are creating another.  Not only does being out of your body leave your body unattended and defenseless but all of your resources like your intellect, intuition, feelings and innate body intelligence and strength can only be experienced when you are in the body.
     
    And, there’s more: when you are ungrounded, you are scattered, feel overwhelmed, anxious, run late, and will say anything in the moment (because you are not connected to your truth).
     
    I saw that this was the core of my own lack of self-trust and that, in truth, I was not trustworthy.  I became highly motivated to become a woman of integrity.
     
    There are many ways to get grounded and centered.  The one we teach is a simple breathing and visualization process.  Some people are naturally grounded, others spend time in nature or in their garden.
     
    For those whose childhood was challenging, getting back into your body is the way to protect yourself going forward and to release the pain of the past, so it no longer holds you back.

  2. Say what you mean, mean what you say and don’t say anything if you are unsure.

     
    This takes discipline and practice, but is essential to developing self-trust.
     
    At first, I only noticed that I had just committed to do something I had no desire to do after the fact.  Although I was horrible embarrassed, I forced myself to clean it up, apologizing for wasting the person’s time.
     
    After doing this several times in a row, I was able to catch my words mid-sentence in the moment, and take them back.  “Oh, just listen to me!  I have no business saying, ‘yes’ to this request.  Excuse me, please.”
     
    Finally, I was rewarded: I was able to catch the habitual pattern of giving myself away before I spoke.  Although I couldn’t bring myself to say, “no” right away, I would let the person know I needed to think about it, check my schedule and would get back to them by a certain time.
     
    This is such a great technique: buying some time versus acting from a programmed response was liberating!  It allowed me to renew my grounding and then to see what was my truth?

  3. Be self-loyal: keep the promises you made to yourself

     
    When you have a pattern of giving yourself away piece-by-piece, you put your own goals at the bottom of your priorities. You keep telling yourself that you will take a walk or a nap to renew your energy when it slumps, but somehow it always slips your mind or you rationalize that you are too busy today (and every day).
     
    How often do you ‘forget’ to go to the ATM or even to go to the bathroom when you need to?
     
    A word here about making and keeping your promises to others. It’s not a good idea to make promises to others if you haven’t kept the ones you previously made!
     
    Pull the rug on yourself!  Share that you are mortified that you broke past promises and while you are working to rectify that in yourself, you will let your actions speak louder than your words.
     
    Then make sure that you do.  Trust is earned.

  4. Be responsible for handling your own needs, without drama or depleting others.

     
    Consistently handling your own needs, with no muss or fuss, is the way to show up responsibly.
     
    Making sure you are grounded before you show up at work or deal with problems in the home, allows you to be your best self. Neediness pushes others away.  Running drama is toxic and completely out of integrity as you are compromising and depleting others.
     
    Years ago, I made a new agreement, that I have kept, to handle my own needs at the beginning of the day, even if it meant getting up a little earlier than usual.  Handling my own needs, supported me in being able to give focused attention to my clients, without resentment.

  5. Decide what integrity means to you, what it looks like and sounds like and be in integrity!

     
    Your integrity is your own code of ethics, no matter how the people around you behave, it’s how you behave. Your self-esteem flows from your integrity.

  6. Avoid people who support you in keeping the old patterns alive.

     
    These are the people who undermine your self-trust; they are the ones who try to talk you out of what’s best for you, make light of the issues that you are working on, so that they can still run their own energy-sapping behaviors around you!
     
    When you are ungrounded, you make other people work harder – you forget key details and need to be reminded, you show up late for appointments and sessions with professionals, perhaps without your checkbook!
     
    When you clean up your own act, the behavior of others comes to the fore. Do the individuals who surround you support you? Do they add value?  Do you really want them in your life?

  7. Remember that building self-trust is a journey: if you screw up, forgive yourself (and clean up your mess.)

     
    Developing self-trust also includes treating yourself like a best friend. A best friend is patient when they see that you are really committed to new behavior.  They will even partner you in gently catching the old programmed responses and question them.  “Is this really what you want to say?  Is this your truth?”
     
    So, the next time you make a mistake and criticize yourself harshly, catch yourself, and instead say, “Oh, there’s that old pattern again,” or “Oops, let’s try that again.”  Creating a safe internal environment for embracing change is essential, so do yourself a favor and start today!

    I know that many people are looking for the instant fix, to pop a pill as it were, and as such I was tempted to call this article, The Fastest and Easiest Path to Self-Trust,” or “Three Shortcuts to Developing Self-Trust,” but I would be out of integrity in doing so.
     
    No, it is a journey.  Somedays you feel triumphant and exhilarated as you demonstrate a new behavior; other days, you feel as though you haven’t made any progress at all.  But even two steps forward and one backward is progress.  You will succeed if you keep on, keeping on!

If this article touched a chord in you, or if you would like to share what works for you, we would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

Aimée Lyndon Adams

About the Author, Aimée Lyndon-Adams

Aimée Lyndon-Adams is both a seasoned corporate executive and a metaphysician practicing spiritual energy healing. She has provided coaching and healing sessions to individuals, couples and groups and has offered an energy management curriculum of training classes for many years. She is an articulate and charismatic speaker and facilitator.

Visit www.WhatTrulyMatters.com to claim instant access to your free gift for your juiciest life EVER!