Work On Your Business, Not Just In It!

Russian Dolls
You can grow your small business into a big business by working on it.

Many big businesses began as a micro business. The owner in this small business did everything- take calls, do paperwork, find sales, and finally the work to make the product or service sold. As a small business owner you can relate to the long hours and the small pay! And if you don’t work you don’t get paid!

So how did these big business owners become big? how did they turn their small business into a big business? They no longer do everything, they employ people to do it for them. They still work hard, but not the same as they did when they started. Many big business owners became big, because they planned to become big. That is, they not only spent time working in the business, but took time away from it to work on it! this is an important part of any business growth story. You have to plan for your business to grow and start putting milestones in place to work towards.

But How?

  • Commit Time– Block out a few hours per week to work on your business. This means no interruptions or doing it here and there.
  • Jot Notes– Keep a diary or book that is dedicated to your Business Development. Then when you reach your Block Out time you can review your notes. This could be anything from identifying ways to improve production, a new supplier, a possible new product line or offering, new business alliances or venture opportunities- anything. Write it down!
  • Experts and Mentors– Many entrepreneurs who grew their business will tell you how important it is to have the input of others. Be willing to ask for advice and guidance. Experts such as accountants, solicitors and business consultants are a valuable resource. Mentors are a good sounding board for any challenges you have, acting as both guidance and support. Input and ideas from outside the business brings diverse thinking and new opportunities.
  • Self Sabotage– Sometimes the thing preventing your business from growing is you! A business owner can, mostly out of comfort and fear of the unknown, be the biggest hurdle preventing the business from growing. They could prevent putting in management or taking on new investors, seeing them as threat to control. They could view business growth as too risky when the business is fine the way it is. Fear is a big component of self sabotage! Be open to change.
  • Plan Ahead– Use your business development time to set goals and milestones. It is important to put when you want to achieve a goal or milestone. “A Goal not written down and without a deadline is a wish. A written goal with a deadline is a commitment!”
  • Personal and Professional– Not only plan for your business goals, but also your own personal goals. These could impact on your business goals. Making money is not the outcome, it is what the  money can  do for you that is the outcome. On a deserted island or in death, money has no worth.

These are just some of the ways to work on your business. In order to grow your business, you must dedicate time to achieving the outcomes you are wanting. Use experts and mentors to guide and support your business to grow. Don’t be your own enemy to success, be open to the change that will take place, don’t fear it. Plan where  you want your business to be in the future, but also plan where you want to be personally so there is no mismatch in goals.

~Damien Foley

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Business Relationships

two hands shakingI recently had a meeting with the Flagstone Junior Chamber of Commerce. The question was asked “what is business about?” The most obvious answer one can give is ‘Profit’. But how do you make that profit? When you look at business, you suddenly realise the success of a business comes from its relationships. Lets look at this from the starting point of profit and work back.

We make a profit by earning more income then what we spend on expenses. Income minus Expenses= Profit/(Loss)

We spend money on expenses and capital to produce the goods and services we sell. In order to purchase those goods we need to buy them from other suppliers, be it the owner or their salesperson. In order to sell our goods and services we need to sell them to other people.

The purchase of those goods and services happens as a result of your business creating a relationship with the supplier. You may have found them online or been introduced to them through another person. Likewise, you create sales by developing relationships with your customers. (refer to the article on Customer Service- “Retail V Online- Retails Secret Weapon To Win Customers“).

Internally you have people who you employ or owners in the business with you. Externally you have relationships with third parties such as government, industry regulators and organisations etc.

The business success can depend on how good the relationship is between all of these people. And like in any relationship, good communication is important. This is why Social Media is becoming such an important tool used by business to build relationships with current and prospective customers.

Business is a creation of man and as a result is built on our social interaction with one another. If your business doesn’t have a good relationship with someone or someone doesn’t have a good relationship with your business, this can affect the success of your business.

~ Damien Foley

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New Executive Committee of Flagstone Junior Chamber of Commerce

Flagstone State Community College Junior Chamber of Commerce
Flagstone State Community College Junior Chamber of Commerce- Article Jimboomba Times

The Flagstone State Community College Junior Chamber of Commerce has been going for 3 years. It just held its 4th Annual General Meeting to elect its new Executive Committee of Trent Bonner, Jessica Tracey, Natalie Holmes and Nick Eagles. The new committee is prepared for their roles ahead, with Trent, Jess and Natalie being re-elected from last years Executive Committee.

Succession Planning is something Bob Wiley (Logan Country Chamber representative), Jenny Krause (Teacher, Flagstone State Community College) and I as mentors have being working towards for the last 3 years since inception. This is just one of the many milestones  planned and met, allowing the Jnr Chamber to grow and mature over this time.

The Junior Chamber has run a Careers Expo at the school for the last 3 years. With planning for the Expo starting 10 months prior, this means as soon as it is over, planning for next years begins shortly after.

As a mentor and seeing the current Executive Committee achieve what they have, I can say I am truly proud of them and what they have achieved. They are definitely growing and becoming professional in their roles and responsibilities.

Article by the Jimboomba Times released on the 29/08/2012

~ Damien Foley

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Retail v Online – Retails Secret Weapon To Win Customers

Folder marked "My Business Strategy To Win Customers- Private and Confidential"I recently visited a small art gallery. I asked the owner how business has been. “I have been busy but sales are slow. We have a lot of tourists come through and I can have 300 people in a day. We have them sometimes complain that I don’t speak to them but I can only talk to so many people, telling them the exact same thing. I am also competing with cheap prints from online.” There are a number of points made in this but we will look at retails greatest secret weapon- ‘Customer Service’. Customer service is what you can use to differentiate yourself from online sellers, as well as your competitors.

You might say customer service is no secret. I will give you actual examples of how it is still not being used by big business and how your business can use it to win customers.

I have a client with a business they’re about to start. I went to research bank accounts for them. Dressed in business shirt and pants, I went to 4 banks in walking distance of each other in a multicultural suburb (this is relevant). This is the following customer service I was given when asking for information;

Bank ‘A’:

– I walked in and was met by a lady dressed in a nice blouse and dress pants.

– She pulled out the relevant brochures and asked me to contact them if I had any questions.

– She was friendly and polite. I said thank you and left.

Bank ‘B’:

– I walked in and was promptly met by a lady with a friendly smile dressed in a very professional looking, neat and tidy business outfit, with blouse and scarf.

– “How can I help you today sir?” I told her I wanted some information on their business accounts as I had a client looking to start a business. “If you have the time would you like to come in to my office sir and discuss what your client needs? My name is ‘Jane'”.

– She showed me into a private office with a tidy desk and brochures lining the wall. She had me explain the business, asking what its needs were, while taking bullet point notes. She then took from the wall several brochures, marking the different facilities as she explained how each would suit my clients needs. She placed these in a clean glossy folder to hold them together.

– She then contacted another department by phone who could discuss another facility she was not trained in. On speaker phone, the call took 15 minutes to be answered. During this time the manager made small talk and brought me a glass of water. It finally answered. The manager mentioned to the operator how long we waited.

– I spoke to the customer service person who asked questions and took my email contact to send me the information.

– Returning to the business manager she asked if she could have my details to follow up later how I was going. Leaving with brochures and email to be sent, the manager showed me out with a courteous smile.

– I arrived home to the email as promised. I was called a week later by the business manager asking if I required any additional information or had any questions.

Bank ‘C’:

– I walked in and a ticket dispensing machine was my first contact. I took a ticket, sat and watched television until my number displayed 8 minutes later.

– The desk area was separated from the public seating area only by a thin shoulder high petition.

– I spoke with the customer service manager who asked me several questions. She took down the details in a form. Giving me several brochures slipped into an everyday envelope, I would be contacted by their business manager, who was out, to discuss my details further.

– I received a call the next day. He asked me several questions with his only finishing reply “well you have the brochures. If you have any questions call me.”

Bank ‘D’:

– I walked upto a lady in an open space customer service area. I was after information for a client who was about to start a business. Her reply was “We can only give you information if you have an ABN. I have some booklets but they are old and we are waiting on the new ones with the up to date information to arrive.”

– Deciding against giving me the booklet, she asked me to wait while she brought over the business manager. The business manager came over wearing an ill fitting knitted button up cardigan that looked faded and stretched. She spoke with her arms folded, pulling the cardigan across herself.

– She also told me she couldn’t give any assistance unless we had an ABN. But she did offer the booklet. The booklet was thick, in grey and white with the words “Terms and Conditions” the most visible words, marking the pages with the possible accounts to be used.

– Still standing in the open area she then asked some more questions on other facilities. She could only give me print offs from their website. I waited as she went looking for each page online to print and give me.

– In leaving, she said she could help more once we had an ABN. Then they could customise a package.

Result

The customer service at each of these banks was very different. I left the 4 banks with first impressions. Each an impression of their customer service my clients would receive as a customer of that bank. I hadn’t even read the brochures for their fees and rates yet and I was already leaning towards a particular bank based on the service I just received.

Which bank do you think I was leaning towards- Bank A, B, C or D?

If you made a choice, remember you were making a choice based on the above service I received. You haven’t seen the fees and rates either. Customer service is incredibly important, leaving an impression greater than price alone.

What Your Business Can Do

Retail has the secret weapon of customer service. Something a website cannot offer. The lady from the art gallery meets 300 people a day. A website owner never meets the potential owner of their product, the client only has the information to read. The website owner never has the opportunity to ask questions to provide personal service. The retailer does.

So ensure customer service is a priority to you and your staff. It might not be that customer that returns for business, but a friend of that customer who has heard about your service!

~ Damien Foley

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