19 Feb 2017

Why Isn't It Working?

How often have you said to yourself -

"I've identified my target market"

"I'm doing all the online marketing stuff"

"My market message is exactly what they need to hear"

and still no-one buys your product or service?

One of the scariest things that can happen to you as a small business owner is when your marketing efforts to your chosen niche is not working and this is why we asked Sean Kaye of CasualMarketer.com back to BookPals Business Sanity to discuss what you can do when your niche goes quiet on you.

Sean has spent decades helping small business owners market their products and services online and in today's discussion you are going to hear things that may not make you feel comfortable, but will give you a clear understanding of what to do to re-spark your marketing efforts with your chosen niche.

Or whether or not you have a chosen niche at all!!! (Now that's got you thinking, hasn't it?)

There are times in a small business owner's life when they have to hear it exactly as it is - and this discussion is one of those times - so sit back and get ready for a serious dose of small business reality after listening to this episode of BookPals Business Sanity.

17 Feb 2017

What's The Best Bookkeeping System For You?

I had a conversation with a customer of mine today who is looking at upgrading the bookkeeping system he uses for his business and this discussion highlighted aspects of choosing a bookkeeping system that every business owner should think about to help them with this (often) mundane aspect of running their business.

There are a myriad of bookkeeping solutions on the market these days and many small business owners believe (incorrectly) that they are all much of a muchness, but here's the thing - if you stop thinking about what type of bookkeeping system you should use and think more about what bookkeeping system allows you to collate your financial records the quickest you will find that this aspect of running your business becomes much - MUCH - easier.

Let me give you some examples of what I am talking about -

If you're a sole trader - or a sole proprietor - who runs the business on your own and will never have staff, why do you need a bookkeeping system with all the "bells and whistles" like payroll, inventory management and the like?

You're never going to use these aspects of a bookkeeping system, so why would you waste time trying to learn them and money on a system that has them?

If you don't understand accounting principles - in other words all this "debit and credit stuff" that you hear about all the time - why would you choose a bookkeeping system that is accounting based?

Wouldn't it be easier to use something as simple as a spreadsheet - or if you have (or need) to use a bookkeeping system, wouldn't a really simple bookkeeping program that doesn't bamboozle you with all the accounting jargon be the best option for you?

Let's come at this discussion from the other direction - if you have just started a business and you know that as soon as you can you will be employing staff (or you have to employ staff from the moment you open your doors), why would you buy a "base level" bookkeeping system when you know that in the not-too-distant future you are going to have to upgrade your bookkeeping system to a more complex one?

Here's something else to think about - if the only reason you are doing your own bookkeeping is because you can't afford a bookkeeper, but you know that as soon as you can afford one you will be getting someone else to do the bookkeeping for you, why would you choose a bookkeeping system that "sits" on your home computer instead of having a system in the Cloud so that when it's time to hand over your bookkeeping to someone else, the process is quick and seamless?

And while we're going down this rabbit hole - if you are always getting hounded by your Accountant because they are constantly chasing your receipts to check against your financial records, why wouldn't you choose a bookkeeping system that could give your Accountant direct access to those receipts instead of you having to rummage through boxes of paperwork trying to find that one receipt that you have been asked to produce?

Bookkeeping is a fact of business life - as much as you might want to avoid it you can't - so when you are thinking about the best bookkeeping system for you, spend time thinking about which system is just right for your business - and your business alone - so that you can get this aspect of running your business done quickly and easily and get back to those things in life that are most important to you.

13 Feb 2017

How Effectively Are You Marketing Your Business?

I saw something yesterday and have to share it with you because it's a great example of what not to do when advertising your products and services!!!

This big 4 wheel drive vehicle towing a trailer was heading down the road towards me and as it got closer I could see that there was signage all over the trailer.

Advertising on vehicles has always fascinated me because I think it is a great way for small, local based businesses to get the word out about their products and services so as the vehicle approached I waited in anticipation to see what type of business it was.

Anyway, the vehicle drives by and guess what the advertising said -


I laughed and shook my head in amazement - now I know their surname and now I know there is more than one of them, but I do not have the faintest idea what kind of product or service they provide and if it they sell something that I need, I have no way of knowing how to contact them.

Advertising is one of those expenses that many small business owners begrudge paying because they (often?) don't see the return on their investment - is your advertising giving you the best "bang for your buck"?

6 Feb 2017

How To Put The Mojo Back Into Running Your Dojo!!!

If you're a Baby Boomer small business owner are there times when it's really hard to drag yourself out of bed to open the business doors?

Lets face it, the daily grind of running your own small business can really wear you down if you've been doing the same old same old for decades, but what are you going to do if you close your doors - work for someone else or retire?!!!

Well, today you're going to meet someone who can help you put the mojo back into running your own small business, because on today's episode of BookPals Business Sanity you meet Lorraine Pirihi of relaunchyourlife.com.au.

Lorraine helps Baby Boomer business owners get that spark back into their lives so that they face the challenges of running their own small business with zest and vitality.

Best of all, after listening to Lorraine you'll begin to understand what you have to do to start reconnecting with the fun and excitement that is being a small business owner.

Get ready to put the mojo back into running your dojo after listening to this episode of BookPals Business Sanity.

30 Jan 2017

The Right Way To Run A Business!!!

Ok, so you will remember in a previous blog post that I was grumbling about not being able to get a coffee while on holidays in Halls Gap?

Well, all was not lost on our trip there because what I also saw there was a wonderful example of quality customer service that I want to share with you here today.

While we were there we found out about a restaurant called Spirit of Punjab that serves Indian cuisine and as we all love a good curry we decided to head down there for dinner.

To say that the service there was first class is an understatement!!!

When you first arrived at the address what impacted on me the most was that you were greeted by images, statues and notices of the cuisine, together with a brief history of the region in India where the cuisine originates from.

What you find - in the carpark of all places - are all these quirky little statues and signs about the history and origins of the cuisine, so before you've even gone inside you are smiling about the upcoming experience.

When you head in to the restaurant you are greeted by smiling staff who show you to your table and provide you with a first class level of service.

Now, I have to explain something here - the place was a hive of activity for the whole time we were there (probably because there was nothing else open in the area!!! LOL) - there had to be several hundred patrons at the restaurant, but the hosts never rushed you or made you feel like they were in a hurry to move on to the next table.

Why? Because there were so many waiters there that it seemed like every table had its very own personal waiting staff!!!

What made me smile most about the place was that some of our group fancied themselves as "Curry Hardened" and wanted to go for the "hot stuff", but when they asked for a meal that the host thought might be a bit too "warm" for them, this person would politely say "Are you sure? This dish is very hot."

Of course one of our group pipes up with the usual "I've been eating curries all my life - I'll be fine" comment to which the host politely smiled, accepted his order and walked off and it was most amusing to watch this guy's face look like it was about to explode a little later when his meal was returned to him - he took a mouthful - and it nearly blew his head off!!! LOL

As I said before, the place was packed the whole time but the service was second to none and I must say that the whole experience was a wonderful example of quality customer service at its greatest (what a shame we didn't order a coffee there ah?!!! LOL).

Are you providing your customers with quality customer service so that they rave about your products and services long after they've left?

24 Jan 2017

Staying Light On Your Feet

You'd remember in a previous post I was talking to that guy from the UK about how he had obtained that lucrative deal fitting out hotels in Britain and Europe.

Well, there was something else he said during that conversation that I want to share with you because I think it is so important to keep this in mind in business.

It's the importance of staying light on your feet.

What do I mean by this? You may know it as "pivoting" - or you may know it as "pirouetting" - whatever you want to call it, it is so important to be ready to change tact at any given moment while running your own small business.

Hand's up if you have been pigheaded - or dogmatic - in some aspect of your business where people around you have been saying -

"You need to change that"

and you have said (or at least thought) -

"Don't tell me how to run my business'?

We've all done it, but the one thing to always keep in mind is to stay focussed on the environment that you're trading in.

Let me give you an example -

If you are over the age of 50, remember this -

Black and White TV

AM radio (i.e. no FM radio)

Push button cash registers

Telephones with numbers on a circular dial

Envelopes and stamps

VHS videos

Now - with this in mind - how much did your life change as each of the above went off in search of the dinosaurs as they wandered off into extinction?

If you're true to yourself, you'll agree that many of these changes had a profound impact on your life (I hated not being able to record movies on TV when DVDs took over from videos, didn't you?!!!) so if these changes impacted so profoundly on you, why won't the same thing happen to your business if it simply "marks time" instead of pirouetting to meet the changing world around it?

Well, this exact topic came up in the discussion I was having with this guy from the UK.

Colin (his name) made mention that when they first started their business they were focussed not on refits for hotels in a specific chain, but for repairs and maintenance to the existing fittings on hotels in the British Midlands, however, during the process of tendering for work it became obvious that refits were not only the most cost effective way to upgrade the hotels, but it also gave hotel guests a more luxurious experience in the form of more modern and comfortable amenities.

Once this became obvious, Colin's business did an immediate "pirouette" from marketing their services as a repair and maintenance business to one that did complete refits.

The "downside" of this change in direction was that many of the smaller independent hotels throughout the British Midlands could not see the benefit of complete refits, but this one hotel chain immediately saw the benefit of giving their guests a more luxurious experience and as a result hired Colin's business to provide the service.

The moral to this story is to always stay "light on your feet" when you are running your own small business - we are living in a time where things are changing at an extremely fast pace and your ability to change direction quicker than your opposition can put you at "the front of the class" very - very - quickly.

22 Jan 2017

The "Secret Sauce" To More Sales

While we were on holidays over the Christmas period I got to meet a couple of my relative's mates who had travelled to Oz from England to celebrate his upcoming 50th birthday.

I got chatting to one of these guys and during our discussion he made mention that he was a partner in a business back home in the United Kingdom.

My "business brain" immediately kicked into overdrive because part of the BookPals rollout includes introducing the BookPals bookkeeping system to small business owners throughout the UK.

He and his partners provide fit out services for a large hotel chain throughout Britain and Europe and it was fascinating to listen to how the business had originally started and the process that they went through to obtain this most lucrative contract.

During our discussion I posed the following question to Colin (that's his name) - "So, what was the "Secret Sauce" to getting the contract?" - and his reply was so profound that I have to share it with you here -

Just Keep Knocking On Doors!!!

My reply was "That's it?" to which he replied "Yep!!!"

He then went into detail about how they had tried all the "marketing tricks" we all hear about to source new clients but when it all came down to it, success was achieved by identifying the exact customer avatar that needed their services and once they had done this it was simply a matter of finding and "hounding" these leads until they got in front of the key decision makers to show them how their products could help them.

Colin is in charge of the partnership's marketing and he outlined exactly what had to be done to obtain the contract - let me share it with you here and now -

Phone calls

Door knocking

Identifying the key decision makers

Getting past the "gate keeper"

Talking to the key decision makers

Arranging a time to present to them

Presenting to them

Getting their approval

Obtaining the contract

Providing the service

We just sat there smiling at each and agreed that it would be great if there was some kind of "secret sauce" that could allow you to bypass the majority of this process - but there isn't!!!

One thing Colin said later in our conversation that I thought was fascinating was the flow-on effect his efforts had - as a result of him "grinding it out" to get this business, the hotel chain had hired him as a consultant to source more business for them because they were so impressed with his tenacity and perseverance that they decided to hire him to source more corporate customers for the hotel chain itself!!!

The "Secret Sauce" to generating more sales is that there is no secret sauce - find people who need your product or service, contact them, show them how your product or service will make their life easier and they will buy from you - that's it!!!

So there it is - the "Secret Sauce" to generating more sales - off you go!!! LOL