15 May 2017

The Unsung Heroes Of Small Business!!!



Ok, so if you are based in Australia and you're reading this post the day it goes out, many (most?) of you are just starting the day after celebrating Mother's Day yesterday.

It may have been taking your Mum out for a picnic or a nice meal - or it may have been as simple as a bunch of flowers and a quick phone call (as was the case with me as my Mum lives hundreds of kilometers away from us) to say hi and show her your appreciation and love.

While I'm here I want to give a huge shout out to the "Unsung Hero Mums" that don't get anywhere near as much acknowledgement as they deserve - and that's the Small Business Mums!!!

I tend to categorize these Mums into three groups -

1. Those Mums who run their own small business.

2. Those Mums who are the partners of small business owners.

3. Those Mums who are the partners of small business owners AND run their own small business.

The reason why these Mums need to be acknowledged is that in many (most?) cases these Mums are also co-ordinating the day to day running of homes/children/their own parents - and all the other chaos in our lives and I - for one - often stand their amazed at how they can do it (and I can speak from experience because my wife is a "Category 3 Mum" above!!! LOL).

To all you Small Business Mums out there, I say "Good On Ya" - I don't know how you do what you do and it will never cease to amaze me how you get through the days without ripping your hair out!!! LOL

30 Apr 2017

What Are You Doing To Surprise Your Customers?


The last couple of weeks have been insane and I want to share the experience with you because it is a wonderful example of why you should surprise your customers and how this surprise can result in more sales.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this before, but my wife Annie runs a business called Krondorf Trading Co where she sells gourmet condiments to customers throughout Australia.

Anyone throughout Australia can buy Annie's products online, but there is only one physical location where you can buy her produce and that's out at Rockford Wines in the Barossa Valley of South Australia.

Anyway, Annie was approached by staff at Rockford Wines some time back asking her if she would set up a stall at the winery to sell her products during the Barossa Vintage Festival.

I had better clarify a few things here - Annie bought Krondorf Trading Co from her Mum a year or so ago and when her Mum was running the business she used to have a stall out at Rockfords each weekend.

Annie works four days a week and runs her produce business as a "side hustle", so when she took over Krondorf Trading Co she decided not to continue the stall - nowadays her produce is in at Rockford's Cellar Door Sales so that visitors who go to Rockfords to sample their wonderful range of wines can also buy Annie's produce while they are there.

The problem here is that visitors can no longer taste the produce and this is why she was approached by staff at Rockfords to set up a stall for the Barossa Vintage Festival - so that visitors to Rockford Wines over the festival period could also sample her produce while they were there.

Of course the answer was "Yes!!!" - staff Rockfords have always been wonderful ambassadors for Krondorf Trading Co, so how could we refuse?!!!

The festival was last weekend, so out we all went (it was a family affair with Annie, myself and our son Ben all "pitching in" to help) and we had a fantastic weekend out there, meeting people from all over Australia - and the world - and enjoying the feedback we received on how good the produce was after these visitors sampled Annie's wonderful products.

While we were out there a number of "regulars" to Rockford Wines commented on how good it was to have Krondorf Trading Co back and we explained that it was not going to be a regular thing, but we would definitely be out there to say hi again whenever Rockfords hosted other "special events".

The end result was that Krondorf Trading Co had a very good weekend sales wise and what was more interesting were the comments that came from Rockford management and staff later in the week.

A number of Rockford staff approached us and commented on the positive feedback that they had received from visitors about the fact that Krondorf Trading Co had held a stall over the festival and these same people were asking to be informed when we (Krondorf Trading Co that is) would be out there again because they would be making the trip back to sample Rockford's wine and Krondorf Trading Co's produce.

Why am I telling you this story?

We - as small business owners - all do our best to provide our customers with a high level of service, but how often do we do things that actually "surprise" our customers and make them feel "special"?

What I mean by this is that "quality service" does not surprise our customers because this is what they expect (and rightly so) from every business transaction that they do with you, but if you can provide these same customers with something that surprises them - and through this surprise they feel special - then not only do you have a loyal customer, but you also have a raving brand ambassador for your business.

What kind of surprises can you give your customers that will make them feel special?

26 Mar 2017

The Essence Of Integrity ----



Isn't it funny where you can get business inspiration from?

Yesterday I was at a judo competition with my son Ben (that's him in the photo here) and at the end of the day I came home so inspired by the things that I saw and how they can be converted into a business scenario that I had to share the experience with you here today.

Ok, so let's set the scene - Ben and his mate Phil are competing in separate weight divisions.

While Phil is waiting to compete one of the co-ordinators comes up and explains that there are no juniors (they're actually called cadets) in his weight division, so would it be ok if he competed against a senior who is only a couple of years older than him, but is a similar weight.

I ask Phil if this will be ok - he says "Yes" - so the game is on!!!

Phil steps on to the mat and starts wrestling with the other guy trying to get him in a position to throw him when BAAM - the other guy shoots in and throws him with a fantastic move!!!

There's only one problem - Phil wasn't expecting the move and did not have enough time to roll correctly when thrown - and was face planted right into the mat!!!

The room goes quiet while Phil lays there looking like he has just been sent on a one way trip to La La Land - and then one of the most wonderful things I have ever seen happened.

Before anyone else moves, the young bloke who threw him is down on the ground beside him really upset about what has just happened.

Now, you have to understand the whole situation here - the move that this guy pulled on young Phil was completely legal and was a really good throw, but all this kid was interested in was the wellbeing of his opponent and it warmed the cockles of my heart to see such real concern by such a young guy.

It gets better - most kids Phil's age would have said "That's me finished for the day" but not Phil - he gets up and is checked to make sure he is ok and then says that he wants to continue the competition.

He finishes this bout and when he comes off the mat he makes mention to me that he has worked out how to beat the other bloke and can't wait to get back on the mat for the second bout with him.

I'm just standing there shaking my head - guys twice (three times?) Phil's age would have called it a day after what just happened, but not this kid - not only does he want to get back on the mat with his opponent but he is now working out a way to beat him!!!

In the second bout Phil tries his heart out to pin this guy by getting him down on the mat (which he had decided was the best way to beat this guy) but the guy is simply too strong and wins the second bout as well.

Here's where the truly inspiring "stuff" begins - at the end of the competition the co-ordinators decide to give both Phil AND his opponent first place medals because of the courage and integrity of both kids.

And it was here that I got a lump in my throat - the young bloke who won the division actually wanted to give his medal back saying that he was a senior so Phil was the true winner and when the co-ordinators said that he could keep his medal he took a step back behind Phil - pointed to him in front of everyone - and started clapping him for his efforts!!!

As he walked past me I said to him "You are a credit to yourself, your club and your family mate - well done" and he bowed to me and said "thank you" and walked off.

Now it's my bloke's turn!!!

Ben had been up against his opponent about 6 months before and had accounted for him in no uncertain terms quite quickly the last time they had met - but to say that this kid had had a growth spurt is understatement!!!

I make mention of this to Ben who was not too concerned - until the bout started - where he found out that this guys was going to be a lot harder to move than the last time they had fought!!!

The fight went for over 4 minutes and Ben eventually got the better of the guy in the end but when he came off the mat to say he was distressed is an understatement.

He walked up to me and said "I don't think I can go back on Dad - I can hardly breathe".

He sits down and I get him to start taking some deep breathes and start encouraging him to settle himself down.

Slowly he settles down - he has a few sips of water and puts the cold water bottle to his forehead and the back of his neck to cool himself down and a minute or so later he begins to settle.

Once he has settled down he starts commenting on how much stronger the other guy has got since the last time they met, so while we are waiting for the second bout we start talking about strategies Ben can use to beat him taking into account his extra strength.

I say to Ben "Have a look at him over there mate - he still looks quite distressed after the last bout and he is not drinking much water - do you think he will be as refreshed as you when he gets back on the mat?"

Ben looks over at him for a minute and then says "Na!!!"

I then said to Ben - "Why don't you just keep focussing on your breathing - settle yourself down further - get plenty of fluid into you - and when you go out there the next time you should have a heap more energy than him don't you think?".

Ben nods - sits back - takes some really deep breathes - has a few more sips of water - focusses himself - walks out on the mat and pins the other bloke in about 20 seconds!!!

"What has this got to do with business?" I hear you say.

Have a think about the two examples above in the context of running a successful business -

Focus

Integrity

Determination

Dogged Perseverance

Honour

Consideration

Competition

Strategy

Winning

All these words played a huge part in both player's efforts yesterday - shouldn't they be an integral part of our business strategies?

Well done guys - it was a honour to be a part of yesterday's proceedings and I am so proud of you both.

14 Mar 2017

Systems - Another Name for Freedom!!!


Ok, things have been a bit "down" recently with the posts I have been putting out there, but a couple of things have happened over the past week that have put a real positive "slant" back on running a business and I want to share them with you here today!!

Let's get started - last week my son got his first job!!!

He has been applying for everything he could find advertised ever since he found out that businesses would start looking at kids his age for employment and two weeks ago he came running out of his room to tell me that he had just got a text from one of the potential employers who wanted him to come in for an interview to see if he would be a good "fit".

I am not going to mention the employer concerned at this stage (to be truthful, I am in the process of trying to get them on to the BookPals Business Sanity podcast to talk about their business) but what I will say is that their processes for vetting and checking to see if a potential employee is the right for their business are out of this world.

I suppose I have to put something into perspective here - I applied for my first job 40 years ago and I still remember how daunting and laborious the whole process was - sitting down in front of a panel of "Oldies", wearing a suit and tie for the first time and thinking I was in a court room being questioned over a murder case - and to compare this experience to how the business conducted my son's interview and vetting process was so refreshing to me.

What impressed me most about the whole process is that it is set up to cater specifically for the demographic that they are targeting as employees - in other words young kids who are just starting out on their business careers.

The whole process was very casual and laid back, but at the same time it was run to a very tight system, with all the checks and balances in place to ensure that when a person was chosen as a new employee the employer was confident that all the requirements needed by the candidate had been "ticked off".

Why am I telling you this?

Many of us - small business owners that is - think that adhering to "tight" systems is something that only the "Big Boys" have to do, but this can be no further from the truth.

Systems are there for a very simple reason - to give you a very clear "path" on what needs to be done under certain circumstances - so doesn't it make sense to incorporate systems into everything you do in your business so that others working for you don't have to keep hounding you with questions on what they should be doing?

Running your own small business takes up enough of your time as it is without having the added hassle of staff constantly hounding you for instructions on what to do in their job, so think about systems as the freedom you need to successfully run your business.

Gotta go now - time to teach the "Young Bloke" how to iron his new uniform!!! LOL

6 Mar 2017

Please Please Please - Pick The Right Crew!!!



Well, what a week last week was!!!

I have to share what has happened with you because it highlights the importance of picking the right people for your business.

As you will shortly find out, this example is probably at the extreme end of the scale, but I am certain that after you hear about it you will think long and hard about the people you are considering as potential employees.

Ok, so here we go ---

I am working with a business who - due to tragic unforeseen circumstances beyond anyone's control - had to employ the services of a new manager.

The person who was chosen for the role was an old family friend of the owners, so you would think that the business was in good hands.

How wrong you are!!!

Within a month of taking over the role, "mysterious withdrawals" began to take place from the business bank account.

"So why were these withdrawals not immediately picked up?" I hear you say -

The reason for this was twofold -

1. The owners were dealing with the tragic events that led up to the loss of the old manager and

2. The new manager placed road blocks between the owners and these "mysterious withdrawals" to prevent them from becoming suspicious about what was going on.

Just so you can understand the amount of damage that was done, let me give you an overview of the consequences of this person's actions -


  • Ten of thousands of dollars have vanished from the business.
  • Hours of productivity time have been lost as a result of the initial investigation and subsequent police interviews.
  • The business has had to front the executive management of it's biggest customer to explain what has gone on and why they should be allowed to continue providing this customer with their services.
  • Staff's confidence in the business has hit an all time low because a number of them have not been paid due to "cashflow issues" (this is what the new manager was telling the staff).
  • More resources are being lost because the business has now been forced to employ the services of a business consultant to help them re-establish the business using much stricter policies and procedures.
  • The potential for many more lost hours exists due to time being taken up in what could potentially be a lengthy court case.

The moral to this story is very simple - PLEASE  PLEASE  PLEASE  pick your staff very  - VERY - carefully!!!

What may - on the face of things - be a perfect candidate for a role in your business may turn out to be something completely different after you "scratch the surface" just a little, so take the time to set up thorough processes for vetting potential employees to your business.

After this little episode, I cannot impress upon you enough how important this is to your business ----

28 Feb 2017

This is how you Rank Videos in Google and YouTube

A quick small business owner's public service announcement!!!

As you know just about everyone is talking about video marketing these days…

The only problem is virtually no one actually tells you what you need to do to get RESULTS…

Well…
I’ve come across this AWESOME YouTube SEO Cheat Sheet that’s jam packed with a ton of simple and actionable tricks you can implement immediately to boost your rankings with video…

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If you want to drive traffic with video, this YouTube SEO Cheat Sheet can really help you out…

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Specifically it reveals:

– A Proven formula for writing VIDEO TITLES THAT GET CLICKS.

– The 3 TAGS YOUR VIDEO MUST HAVE to maximize video traffic potential.

– The single BIGGEST FACTOR THAT IMPACTS VIDEO RANKINGS, and how to nail it by “opening a loop” at the start of each video.

– 7 simple tricks for generating NATURAL INBOUND LINKS.

– 3 “psychological video triggers” that PUT PEOPLE IN A TRANCE-LIKE STATE glued to your video till the very end – and why this is essential for earning STABLE rankings…

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DOWNLOAD your Video SEO Cheat Sheet Here (For FREE) - http://www.contentsamurai.com/c/BookPals-the-ultimate-youtube-cheatsheet

All the best and let me know how it helps your business.

26 Feb 2017

Who Really Is The Most Important Person In Your Business?


There is only one word for this week and that's INSANE!!!

I can't go into too much detail about what happened specifically at this stage but one thing that has been driven home is the realisation that we - as business owners - must remain extremely aware of how important every person - and I mean EVERY PERSON - is inside our business.

It also reminded me of an incident that I was a part of nearly twenty years ago now and even though business practises have changed dramatically in this time, this is one aspect of business that has remained a constant.

Let me share it with you ---

Going back to the 1990's I was working for a large corporate organisation - I'll refrain from naming the organisation to protect the guilty!!! LOL.

As a part of this job I was asked to attend upper level management meetings and these meetings often included representatives from other organisations.

Anyway, on this particular day I was going to be a part of one of these meetings and we got to the conference room early to set up in anticipation of our guest's arrival.

When we got there we found that one of our cleaners was still in the conference room putting the finishing touches to the daily clean of the room.

I can't for the life of me remember the cleaner's name but I do remember that he was by far the best cleaner the organisation had - he was meticulous with how clean he would leave a room and took great pride in his work.

Anyway, one of the managers with us had a reputation of "looking down" at staff members lower on the "corporate ladder" than him and when we walked in this same guy was very quick to give the cleaner a bollocking for still being in the conference room with 15 minutes to go before the meeting started.

After being told to pack up his gear and get straight out (in no uncertain terms) by this manager, the cleaner quietly looked up and said "I'll only be a minute or two longer - I'm almost finished" and turned back to finish his cleaning.

The manager did not like this response at all - how do I know? - because his face turned a livid shade of red and he started stomping towards the cleaner.

I'd seen this guy (the manager dude) in action before and knew this was not going to end nicely, so before he had a chance to get at the cleaner I quietly walked up alongside him and whispered "I wouldn't do that".

The good news is my comment stopped him - the bad news is that I now became the centre of his attention!!! - but before he could start on me, I quietly whispered "You do know that the CEO who we are meeting today is an absolute clean freak and if everything is not completely clean, this whole meeting could fall over?"

That stopped him (perhaps it had something to do with if this deal did not get over the line he was going to fail his KPI's!!! LOL) so he just stood there with that beautiful shade of red making his face glow while the cleaner finished his work and promptly exited the room.

The meeting took place - the deal went through - and everyone went home happy, but this little incident highlighted just how important everyone is in your business.

I say this because I'm confident that regardless of how good our presentation was, if that conference room had been left even a little dirty, the visiting CEO would not have agreed to anything (I'd seen him in action before - and it was ugly!!!).

It's so important for you to keep this in mind as a small business owner - particularly when the majority of your focus is on driving your business to greater levels of success - there are times when you are not the most knowledgable person in the room (have a look at the team around you - are you ever the most knowledgeable person in the room?) so it's very important to be willing to take feedback from all the members of your team - and that means everyone from your trusted secretary right through to your office cleaner - because the information you will glean by listening to these people may very well give you the answers you're looking for to drive your business forward.