Are you getting in your own way?  This often the most misdiagnosed challenge for a small business.  You have a vision of where you want to be, but you are using rusty tools to get there.

The business world has changed drastically in the last fifty years. Many of us are still sticking like glue to old wisdom or systems.   The internet is probably the culprit.  Ideas and lessons can now spread so quickly that it is difficult to stay ahead of the curve.

We often live in our comfortable bubbles and not taking advantage of changes.  This is not surprising since most people don’t like change very readily. Change can be a very good thing and a powerful tool for advancing your business if you embrace it. If you must question change; ask yourself “what is the worst possible outcome if I take this action?  Can I live with the consequences?”  You will be surprised how much smaller your problems will seem when you take the steam out of them.

Stand in front of your mirror and take an honest, objective look at yourself.  Do you see the same things that your clients do, or are you living in a different reality?  If you can’t see the differences yourself, get a coach or neutral friend (rare) to help you see reality.

It is important to review your goals, mission and vision and change them if necessary on a regular basis.  Participate in continuing education opportunities within your field.  Carefully look at the leaders and competition to see what they are doing better, what they are doing worse, and how you can do better.

Business today is run more on brain power than brawn.  Use yours to help you grow your business.

 

 

You have heard this mantra, “there is no such thing as a stupid question,” a lot of times in your life; from teachers, parents, coaches and friends. However, the second half of this bad advice is that the only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.

Does your ego make you avoid questions because you may be laughed at, or ridiculed, or thought foolish?  If someone takes this stance with yoImageu you are probably asking the wrong person.  Respectful, knowledgeable people will not laugh at you; they will answer you or tell you where to get the answer. If it is a subject that they are passionate about you might even get more information than you could ever use; take what you need and remember this person if you ever need more details. Most people are honored that you have asked for their advice and are happy to share it with you.

There is no way to learn if you don’t ask questions.  You may ask an associate or friend, or you may ask Google, either way you are taking the opportunity to increase you knowledge base.  Conventional wisdom says that it is wise to learn something new every day.  That equals over 27000 new tidbits of information in a lifetime; that is a huge data base to have at your fingertips.

How could your life be different if you were able to recall facts or other data whenever you needed it?  Would it be easier for you to make decisions?  Would you be more comfortable with life; less stressed, more productive?  Are these good reasons to ask more questions?

Avoiding questions hampers your growth and keeps you stuck.  Asking questions can lead you to grand ideas and success.  Consider your requests as tools in your toolbox; just as you would pull out the appropriate screw driver for a project, the answers you get from asking questions are the tools you can use for personal or business growth and development.  Using questions, and the information that you get from them, are important tools to have in your toolbox.

       “The only stupid questions are the ones you don’t ask.”  They represent missed opportunities and keep you trapped in the now instead of enabling you to go forward and celebrate a full life.

 

 

 

According to John Donne, “no man is an island”; we are all dependent on each other.  In the overall scheme of things, business or personal, we should all ask for help and offer help to others.

The challenge for your business is recognizing that you do need help. Leaving your ego at the door is the first and most critical step to successful analysis.  You need to take a hard look from the client’s point of view; your personal choices do not count.  This is where asking for help may be necessary.

Having a mentor, someone outside of your business, is a good source of information.  There are a number of other choices that are also available to provide insight.  Employees, co-workers or associates may have good ideas or insights that you can refine and implement.  Hiring a consultant may be the best answer.

Consultants are free of any other connections that may taint a call to action. Many people are reticent to hire a consultant because they don’t recognize the need, and they think of it as an expense.  Most Consultants will give you a complimentary half hour, or so, to assess what you may need; because they are entirely neutral they can bring very useful information to the table. As far as being an expense goes, nothing could be farther from the truth; A good Consultant is an investment in the future of your business.  You need to put systems in place that can calculate your return on investment (ROI). Your Consultant can help you with this.

If you take advantage of your Consultant’s advice, act on her suggestions and follow your progress with your ROI system you will see a significant growth in your business.  If you just invest the money and do not take action, your investment will become an expense and a waste of valuable resources.

You have to take the action, but having help in determining what that action will be is a very good idea.

 

Let’s Go Shopping

Have you ever “shopped” your own business? Are you aware of how your customers are treated, are your products displayed in an appeasing and inviting manor, is your shop warm and welcoming?

Secretly shopping your own business will open your eyes to all new possibilities.  You do this by having someone pose as a potential customer and come into your store as a regular customer to assess all of these items: plus more depending on your needs.

An easy way to create a “secret shopper” is to contact the marketing department of a local University. A co-op between you will give you the information you need and it will be a good project for a student. Follow up with a referral letter for the student to her/his teacher.  A “win-win” for both of you.

You may be very surprised at the findings of you “secret shopper”.  No longer can you be in denial of the reality of your marketing efforts. You may find that your employees are lazy, your stock is haphazardly displayed, or your restrooms are dirty.  Each problem they find is an opportunity for you to update and make changes to improve your retailing.

Just having this extra set of eyes can help you keep fresh and relevant for your customers. Because you see it every day you may miss things that your “secret shopper” can see.  Remember that this is what your customer sees; you want it to be fresh and inviting, and calling out to be bought.

The better your shop looks, the higher your bottom line.  A clean, well-run store tells your customers that you really care and will do your very best to make their shopping experience rewarding.

 

Our Kitchen Table

 

Listening to the radio today I was reminded of the special times we had around the dinner table. Fifty years ago we didn’t have the type of distractions we have today.  Now there are so many people don’t know what the kitchen table is. Even though we were all busy with other activities, like Scouts and groups, we were required to be at the table Monday thru Friday and Sunday morning.  There were no excuses.

There is a lot to learn around the family table. Ours was the kitchen table. This is where we had our family time. We discussed events of the day, what was happening at school, what was happening at my parent’s work.  If we had the luxury of not running off in four directions we played word games, or puzzles, or my Dad’s quizzes.

We learned a lot about each other, and our individual views of the world just being together.  The table was where we discussed dreams and made plans for future events; anything from next week to next year.

I distinctly remember one evening where we were playing with the dictionary.  We were trying to remember the name of the mystical beast that was half man and half horse.  We turned to the dictionary, but with no clues it was useless.  Finally I decided to call the reference desk at the library.  As the librarian answered I blurted out “what do you call a centaur?”  She must have thought I was crazy, and I can still hear my mother rolling with laughter.

Were you aware that the library reference desk is a wonderful tool?  You can call them with just about any question and they can find the answer in their books, or at least a solid clue to where you can find your answer.  Librarians are anxious to share their knowledge and guidance.

Another time we played Daddy’s dictionary game.  He could find the word you had chosen anywhere in the book with less than 20 yes or no questions.  I don’t know how many years it took me to figure out that trick.  He was also good travel puzzles where “trains left opposite stations, where would they meet?”  Those drove me crazy; I never did guess most of them.

In my opinion we have lost a valuable resource to technology, the dictionary.  Sure, it is easy to just type something into your computer and maybe get a right answer; but that is the only information you get.  When you look up a word in an old fashioned dictionary you will also catch other words or concepts out of the corner of your eye, which you can explore or not. This is one book that is a true treasure chest, and always should be included in your everyday life.

The kitchen table was where we were all comfortable, relaxed, and happy.  Negative was not allowed, unless it was a lesson that had to be learned. It was the only time that we could all be together to laugh, share and just enjoy each other.  Families that that don’t have family tables are missing out.  The family table is the hub of the life of a happy family.

Debit or Credit?

Debit or Credit?.

       You hear this question several times a day when you are out shopping.  Why do they ask?  Doesn’t sliding my card solve the problem?Image

       Although the transaction may seem the same to you there is one key difference. When you use your card for a debit purchase the money comes directly out of your checking account and you have no recourse if you have a problem with the purchase. The bad guys will always use your stolen card for debits because they can’t be tied to the purchase; this gives them direct access to your account.

       If you use your card for a credit purchase instead, you can refuse to make the payment and dispute the charge. If the purchase was fraudulent it will be removed from your bill and you will not be held responsible.

       Debit card fraud is still a possibility, but by checking you bill regularly for errors you will have a very important level of protection.

 

 

 

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