eBusiness Blog

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.


5 Tips to Loving Working in Your Business Again

5 Tips to Loving Working in Your Business Again

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series: H is for Happiness

Do you remember Winnie the Pooh and his long-eared, gloomy, and very pessimistic donkey friend Eeyore?

Just like Eeyore, retail store owner Jane is always sad and gloomy. She may get up in the morning, put on her public face and go to work, but she is just going through the motions.

No longer happy with her role or contribution to her company, Jane is missing the fun and the excitement of growing a new company. She is also sure she is never going to get these feelings back.

Jane feels guilty for feeling this way.

She has built a highly successful retail business with 2 stores and revenues of $3M. Jane has set up online shopping, has a loyal clientele of over 5000 customers, and great staff.

Jane’s staff love working for her, she trains them well, rewards them financially, and publicly applauds their efforts. She knows she should be happier.

Jane’s employees are beginning to notice that she isn’t the happy business owner she used to be. She is aware of this, and is afraid her moods will soon affect her staff.

So what’s gone wrong?

For years, Jane had committed everything she had to building the business and now she is feeling wrapped up in the day-to-day and no longer enjoying the work.  She has lost sight of how valuable she is to her company and she is also so busy rewarding others, that she forgets to reward herself.

Do you ever feel like Eeyore (or Jane) in your business?

Here’s 5 tips to help you love your job again:

  1. Step away. Take an extended holiday.  Owners don’t do this often enough. If you can’t take an extended holiday, at the minimum take a regularly scheduled couple of weeks off.
  2. Work with a business advisor/coach. Redefine your role as the owner and create a new vision for the company while establishing new and unique goals.
  3. Pass work along. Remember, it will be new for someone else and can add interest to their job.
  4. Find new projects. Free up time to research new projects or services, create new marketing, assess company performance, and get out into your community and build new relations.
  5. Know what makes you happy and do more of it. Is it a weekly spa trip, a golf game, time with children?  Block out small blocks of time for personal reward.

If you are a business owner and find yourself feeling like Eeyore, give yourself a happiness check-up. Identify what you’re missing, then create a plan that will give you reward and purpose.

Commit to you. You owe it to your staff and your customers to be happy. The money will naturally follow.

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.


ABC’s of Business – Gratitude

ABC’s of Business – Gratitude

Merci.  Mucho gracias.  Grazie.  Danke.

No matter what language you speak, the words ‘thank you’ means the same thing; being grateful and appreciative.

Children are taught from a very young age to say thank you.  We say thanks to mom for the cookie, or to our Auntie for the gifts.  We give our teachers presents at the end of the school year to show appreciation for the learning.

We are taught that it is better to give than receive.  No matter the occasion, gratitude is an integral value that is instilled in us as children.

So why, then, as adults do we sometimes lose sight of this all-important childhood value?  Even though we might feel bad, we miss opportunities to show gratitude.  It is no longer a priority in our lives.

In business, we can’t afford to miss opportunities to say thank you.  Gratitude makes us money.  So today I’m sharing with you, 4 ‘Gratitude Tips’ to ensure your clients know you appreciate them.

  1. Small gestures make big impacts. I received a box of cookies and gift card from my car dealership for a referral I sent them.  This gesture was low cost to them, but was I impressed?  You bet!  Will I continue to refer them?  Of course. ‘Thank you’ gifts are cheap marketing for any company.
  2. Gratitude is a core business value. When a business owner takes a few minutes to publically celebrate an employee’s efforts, they are saying to the world, “We are a caring company.”
  3. Elephants have long memories…and so do our customers. Good or bad, they remember.   What do you want your company to be remembered for?  Include ‘gratitude’ actions in sales scripts, marketing activities, and customer follow-up.  Appreciate your customers, and they will return.
  4. Consistency is key. Show gratitude unexpectedly and regularly.  Don’t let the plan fall off the radar.  Hold everyone (including you) accountable to one another, and to the customer.  Be grateful daily, weekly, and monthly in action and words.

While the 21st century business model is fast-paced and aggressive, many companies are choosing to return to the ‘simple’ business model.  Consumers are demanding companies be ‘real’, transparent, and work to their core values.

I propose that gratitude be at the top of that list.  Conduct a gratitude audit today.  Plan some small, yet impactful action steps.

Remember the smile on Auntie’s face when you said thank you, and gave her a hug?  It’s time to pass that same good feeling along to customers and staff.

Remember, everyone benefits.

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.


Finicky Employees Could Be the Key to Business Success

Finicky Employees Could Be the Key to Business Success

Jane owns a retail store that specializes in glamorous women’s wear. She’s owned and operated the business for 15+ years. Jane will tell you, that the store has been successful because she oversees every little detail of her business.

She knows her customer’s tastes, personally greets them, and will step in on a sale when she sees that her staff could be selling more.

Jane does all the buying, receiving and is hands-on when it comes to design and merchandising.  

Her staff will tell you she has eyes in the back of her head. She notices every detail to ensure her store and staff are as perfect as possible every day.

Would you call Jane an obsessive micro-manager or finicky?

A definition of ‘finicky’ is: “Fussy about one’s needs or requirements, showing or requiring great attention to detail”.

Jane’s staff will tell you there’s a fine line between micro-managing and finicky. There are days when they feel disempowered because Jane gives them no opportunity to make even the simplest of decisions.

On the days when Jane isn’t in the shop, they find themselves enjoying their work more. It feels great to use their skills, intelligence and experience.

Yes, Jane may be a micro-manager and needs to trust and train her employees to think like her. And yes, Jane is also finicky; but being finicky is a great asset for business.

She is one of those fine-detail folks that in our highly competitive world, every business needs.

Let’s face it. As an owner, you’re likely like Jane. You want your business to be perfect, and so do your customers.

But why do it all yourself?

Take a step back and look at your employees. Who are your ‘Janes’; the employees that feel responsible for the small details of your business? The employees that look for dust bunnies, accounting mistakes, and ‘small stuff’ that no one else notices.

Do you have enough ‘Janes’ on staff? Have you appreciated them lately? Do you have a reward program in place for those who go the extra mile? Do you have the routines and procedures in place that support their ‘finicky’ efforts?

The message here? Hire finicky people.

Train your people to be detail oriented, to notice what you don’t need to notice. Get out of your staff’s way and let them step up for you. The payback will be loyal customers, raving fans and extra dollars in your pocket.

The bonus? You won’t need to work 24 hours a day fretting about the small stuff.

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.


ABC’s of Business – E is for Enthusiasm

Entrepreneur Sleeping at Desk

Do you have a case of the business blahs?

Have you lost your business mojo?

Are words like ‘enthusiasm’, ‘excitement’ and ‘fervour’ a thing of the past?  It can be a challenge for a business owner to keep the fire lit in the belly.

Remember, the antonym of enthusiasm is apathy.

Face it, after an owner has been in business for a few years, it can often be difficult to find passion for the job, once again.

Another scenario which is an enthusiasm killer is when business gets tough. Many owners think about walking away, rather than sticking it out.

If you’re a business owner and finding your enthusiasm dwindling, take a moment to think back to the days when you began your business.

Can you recall the feeling of excitement when you had a day of new projects to look forward to? What about that feeling of everything being so new that even though it was a bit scary, it made you feel happy?

Starting and operating a business is like deciding to take a vacation. There is the excitement in the decision to take a trip, setting the date, picking the destination, the trip planning, deciding who you will travel with, saving up for the trip, and in particular, the build-up of having it to look forward to.

Once you go away, you enjoy it. However, once you come home, all you have are the memories. 

It can often feel like a let-down unless you have another trip to look forward to and start the planning.

Your business is similar to trip planning. So why not treat your business like a holiday?

Here are 5 action steps that you can take that will keep your business enthusiasm alive:

  1. Have a 5-year vision in place, (the destination and the date).
  2. Look at it daily and plan your tasks around it. Make sure everything you do, takes you in the direction of the dream.
  3. Share the Vision with your staff, (your travel companions).
  4. Set financial targets, and track the numbers against the vision.
  5. Celebrate success every time!

Remember, human beings need exciting new opportunities to look forward to. Without it, life can become humdrum.

Business is no different. By constantly create new dreams, the enthusiasm for your business will come back naturally.

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.


Disaster Planning for Entrepreneurs

Disaster Planning for Entrepreneurs

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series: D is for Disaster

Living on the west coast of British Columbia, we hear all the time about being prepared for ‘The Big One’, the earthquake that ‘will’, not ‘if’, strike in the near future.

Everyone from Alaska to California knows that they are neighbours with the San Andreas Fault line. It runs up and down the coast.

From time to time, it reminds us of the risk with small tremors … There hasn’t been a year go by when we read the paper and see that another small earthquake has struck somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean.

Provinces and States have programs for Emergency Preparedness and advise us all to have at least 3 days of food, water and supplies on hand. Knowing what we know, we would think more folks would pay attention to the messages and have the cupboard full of supplies.

Nearly half of all those surveyed don’t have anything ready should the big one strike. Why not? According to the experts, they don’t think it will happen to them or they simply aren’t aware of the need.

It’s the same with business.

Disaster can strike in many ways:

  • The owner can get seriously ill
  • There can be a staff shortage.
  • We can lose our biggest customer and be left with a serious cash flow issue.
  • Partnerships can split up.
  • We can lose our business through fire, or even earthquakes.

Good business planning doesn’t just plan for the best of times.

It also plans for the worst of times. Damage/Disaster control for business is all about planning steps, taking out the right insurance and identifying important measures that will minimize or curtail loss or harm.

So, here’s three reasons why a business owner needs to be prepared, by identifying and planning for as many possible business challenges/disasters as they can. Create ‘Plan B’s’ by:

  1. Identifying every possible disaster. You will, at the very least, have acknowledged what could happen and have created some form of damage control plan to deal with each one. There will be fewer surprises.
  2. Acknowledging financial strengths and weaknesses. Budget for slim times as well as flush times. Just like your emergency preparedness kit, keep a contingency fund for your finances. If and when those tough times hit, you can still sleep at night and pay your bills.
  3. Assigning different staff for different roles. Involve and trust those people in your business who will step up when really needed. Know who they are and involve them in your damage control plan. Just like on an airplane during an emergency, you need calm, assertive people making sure the emergency doors get open.

The best reason of all for your disaster/damage control plans?

If nothing ever happens, at the very least, you are prepared. You will rest easy because you know your company has acknowledged possible disasters, faced them head on and created your ‘Emergency Business Plans’.

As the Boy Scout motto says, “Be Prepared”.

How does your business minimize risks and are you structured to recover quickly? Thanks again for sharing your tips in the comment section below.

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.


Why You Can’t Afford NOT To Take A Break

Why You Can't Afford NOT To Take A Break

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series: B is for Break

“I need a vacation.” As a business owner, how many times a month do you say that? Have you noticed that lately you are saying it more often?

So, what is stopping you from taking one?

Do any of these excuses sound familiar:

  • I don’t have any good staff.
  • I don’t have anyone to take over.
  • I’m way too busy to take time off now.
  • It’s bad timing.
  • I can’t afford it.
  • 7 days (or 10, or 14 etc.) is too long.
  • I’ll lose business if I go away.
  • My competition may get ahead of me.

If they do, take this next statement, write it out and put it on your bathroom mirror:

“I can’t afford to not take a break!”

Let me tell you why:

Breaks from our business give us fresh perspective, renewed energy, precious time with our loved ones and best of all, a clear head. Business owners who take regular breaks are better leaders. They are macro managers who inspire and excite.

They see the business from the top of the mountain looking down, rather than from the bottom looking up. The vision remains clear and the love of work stays true.

Here are 7 tips on how to plan for your next break:

  1. Breaks don’t have to be long time frames
    Take small steps and begin by scheduling short breaks. If you’re not doing it already, take a weekend off every month. Consider taking 6 three-day weekends a year. The important thing is to book them out.
  2. It’s never good timing
    Business has low times, high times and even higher times. You just have to work through it. If you’re a parent, you can probably compare it to your decision to have children. The timing was never right. When you become a parent, you adapted and they made your world a better place.
  3. Train your customers to work with your schedules and boundaries
    Apply structure to your hours of operation and your customer response times with email and phone. Let them know when your business is open and closed.

    Do not respond to emails on the nights you have insomnia or up with nothing to do. If you don’t provide boundaries, they may come to expect responses during your personal time.

  4. Find good people
    Finding your business support can be a challenge, but it can be done. Create job descriptions for both your staff and contractors. Hold them responsible for expectations and outcomes.

    Teach them what you know and value and hold regular reviews to keep them accountable.

  5. Let go of control!
    This is the biggest barrier to walking away from any business. Business owners who don’t trust, don’t take breaks. So take trust in yourself that you have set the proper foundation to vacate for a short time.
  6. Believe that they can do the job better than you
    You won’t find this out until you take a break. By giving your employees the opportunity to rise to the occasion, they may surprise you and demonstrate that they are capable of even more responsibility.
  7. Review upon return
    Spend time reviewing what worked and what didn’t. Exam the deficiencies and make a plan for improvement. Be sure and include the people who can help you implement change.

Do yourself a favour;  schedule your break today!

Do you have a hard time taking a break from business? What are your reasons and after reading this article, can you see yourself taking breaks more often now?

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 for Entrepreneurs to Boost a Slumped Attitude

The ABC’s of Business Basics Series

Woman entrepreneur feeling down

In grade 1, we learnt to read by starting with the alphabet and then slowly putting the letters together to make words.

Business isn’t much different. There are a lot of business basics entrepreneurs learnt in the beginning and forget about when the newness of being an owner wears off. The business honeymoon is over.

So, how do we keep the excitement flowing in our business?

Do you remember why you wanted to start a business and be self-employed? Do you remember the joy and excitement of getting up in the morning and knowing you were doing something just for you?

You were passionate about creating new products, closing a sale and thrived on the feelings of success.

So, if some time has gone by since you started your business, how do you feel now? Do you struggle with your attitude?

After reading this article, you will discover 5 new ways that you can use to turn that around, using the ABC’s of the alphabet!

Our first letter of the business alphabet is ‘A’ and this stands for Attitude.

Let’s examine five ways you can change your attitude, and keep the enthusiasm and fun in being an entrepreneur alive.

  1. Surround yourself with a small group of like-minded entrepreneurs. Meet with them at least once a month. Talk or email weekly. Be honest when you need a change of attitude or a boost in spirit. If you’re happy, spread the word.   Business owners need one another.

  2. Take breaks. As Michael E. Gerber of e-Myth fame says, “The point is:  your business is not your life. Once you recognize that the purpose of your life is not to serve your business, but that the primary purpose of your business is to serve your life.”

    Review how the business is serving you.  Do you take time off every week?  Go for a walk at lunch time?   Leave the office at a regular time? Book a holiday? Remember that a break gives us a different perspective and attitude improves.

  3. Grumpy all the time? If you’re not happy, your customers and your staff know it.  You will lose business.  Quit sabotaging all you have built. Hire a life coach or go for therapy.   You do no one any favors by staying miserable.

  4. Find a new vision. Get creative. The world of business is very logical.  Use the other side of your brain. Hold brainstorming and vision sessions.  Allow your brain to free-flow.  Get excited about new products, selling, networking and setting goals. Ignite you and you will ignite your team to reach higher!

  5. Finally, remember that attitude is a part of being human and temporary. As Dr. Benjamin Spock says, “A human being is happiest and most successful when dedicated to a cause outside his own individual selfish satisfaction.”

    Remind yourself that your business makes a difference in your life, your community and the world. Think bigger purpose. Change your attitude and remember that your business can change lives.

So, when you find yourself with a good case of ‘Entrepreneurial crankies’, take a moment and remember why you started this business. Think of a time when you had fun at work and focus on that period in the business.

Reach out to your peer support group and be honest. Ask for support. Get out of the office, book lunch and believe you can love this business again.

How do you choose to change your business attitude when you are unhappy in your work? What activities do you enjoy that help you to enjoy your business again? Thanks for sharing your tips in the comment section below; we can all learn from one another.

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.