• Your Attitude. With absolutely no cost to you, your attitude can be changed immediately! There is something very powerful about clearing your “fear brain” and breathing. Once calm, gently affirm what you want to be happening in your world. You may want to let go of some of the old ways of doing business. You may want to do it in a new way that is more efficient, more productive, or more fun. The important thing is that you move through your day with a feeling of emotional, intellectual, and spiritual wellness. It begins in silence and in breath. Then bring it into your thoughts – affirm what you want.

 

  • Remove Office Clutter. I marvel at how some people do business with junk on their desk and around their office. You spend more time in your office, often than you do enjoying your home. Remove anything that is not bringing you pleasure and making you money. Maybe that dying plant can be replaced by a vibrant healthy one, or maybe it is time to change the artwork; to give you work space some excitement. You should feel good in your work environment. This goes for your business too. Is the front door clean? That is where your relationship begins with your customers!

 

  • How do others experience you? When most busy professionals are in full throttle, there is little time to consider finesse points about themselves or the way they do their jobs. It usually feels like it takes everything just to get through the day. If you are slower, or even without work, it is an opportunity to think about how you work. Are you dropping important details like being a good communicator? Are your emails well written and clear? Do you answer the phone in a positive voice with a tone that says, “I’m glad you are calling me, I appreciate your business? Are you taking care of yourself and dressing well? Are you positive and upbeat? (I don’t mean vapid and mindless). Are you being a good listener? Are you thinking about truly helping your clients?

 

  • Human Resources. Have you considered your team? Are they happy in their position? Are they the best person for the job? I believe that people that are empowered and encouraged give 110%. People that are micro-managed, controlled, and monitored are resentful, not at ease, and therefore not productive. Have you told your key staff how much you appreciate them? Have you taken them to lunch? All people LOVE to be acknowledged and appreciated. All people.

 

  • New Customers. Most businesses find a core customer base and become myopic about serving that base. They forget that the core customers will pay your fixed costs and may even bring you good profits, but it is the expansion of markets that brings bigger profits. Sometimes it is as simple as asking a new group of people for the business. Try allocating a 25% percent of your advertising dollars to reaching out to a new demographic.

 

  • When is the last time you reviewed your marketing efforts? Again, small business owners (90% of all business) are often over wrought with responsibilities and if they don’t have a very motivated in-house marketing manager, often marketing is put on the back burner. Marketing is one of the cornerstones of any successful business. It is like wanting to be in Olympic shape and eating fried foods and only jogging on Saturdays. Effective marketing requires weekly meetings. You need to get feed back from all employees, and you need to aggressively seek out opportunities. Schedule a marketing meeting today!

 

  • You’re not that important. More than likely, there are plenty of people around that can provide the services that you provide. When times are tough, people will want to spend their money where they feel it is appreciated. Do you like going to a restaurant with a staff that is rude and inattentive? Consider moving through time and space with a big dose of humility and gratitude. You may find that it improves your relationships and feels really good!

 

  • Manners 101.  I am gob smacked by the lack of basic manners I encounter daily. When I lived in Japan it struck me as odd that the incoming corporate employees or “freshman”, as they are called, were instructed in “business Japanese”. Because in their language, there is a distinct manner of speaking associated with doing business – a very specific formality based on respect. I am tired of being addressed as “dude”, “hey man”, and “sir” with the most insincere tone by people half my age and for whom I am supporting their businesses. Polite and clear is the new cool as far as I am concerned. Do your employees need a Manners 101 class?  You can remind them that “you’re welcome” follows “thank you”!

 

  • Volunteerism. There are many opportunities for you and your business to get involved on a volunteer basis. If you can’t support your favorite charity by donating money, try donating manpower. This is good for your soul and good for reaching out to new people. Don’t under estimate the power of a good deed!

 

  •  Update your website. If you manage the content in-house and the information is   out dated, your potential customers are experiencing you as “out dated”. Give people a reason to return, give them news and meaningful information.

 

  • Create a Blog. Go to www.wordpress.com and create a blog. It is fun and within a couple of hours you are communicating your “thought leadership” to the world. You can go to www.google.com/submit_content.htm and submit your blog for the search engine spiders to find you. It is probably a very good idea not to write garbage. For business, try to write about things that will help or inform your end-users. Who knows maybe you will find your inner Hemmingway! This can also be used later, when budgets allow, as a SEO (search engine optimization) tool.

 

  •  Share what you do with people clearly. I can’t tell you how many times people have told me, “Oh, I didn’t know you did websites”. Or to my wife, “Oh, I didn’t know you could sell a home anywhere in Austin” (She is a broker and has sold homes all over Austin for over 15 years!). When people ask you, as they always do, “What do you do”? Don’t give them some cryptic vague message. I don’t tell people “Oh, I’m in marketing”.  I say, “ I am a creative marketing consultant and I provide advertising, design, and marketing to businesses. Share what you do in a manner that people can remember your skill or offering. For example, if you are my artist friend Jan Heaton, the painter. Don’t just say, “I’m an artist”. How about, “I am a painter. I am currently working in watercolor. My work is abstract, contemporary, and I employ very distinctive layering technique that gives the work a translucent quality with veiled layers of color. You can see my work in Austin at Wally Workman Gallery or in San Miguel de Allende.” Wow, now I am interested in you and your work! Now I feel like I can ask you specific questions. We can build a relationship!

 

  • Create a Facebook page showcasing your business. Facebook is no longer a college kid social networking community (more than 175,000,000 active users). Further, they have a global reach and will soon be finding even more inventive applications for members.  This is free and gives you a nice SEO benefit and allows you to reach out to your “fans”. Go to www.facebook.com to sign up.

 

  •  Customer Service. Do you move your butt to help your clients? Do you anticipate their needs? Do you communicate every step of the way to ensure that they are informed and participating in the process? If there is a problem – call them immediately and explain the problem and how you are fixing it and then do exactly what you said you would do.

 

  • Consistency. Without question, one of the defining characteristics of what constitutes a “Professional” is consistency. Easy to talk about and very difficult to deliver. Are you consistent in what you provide. Is the quality consistent?

 

  •  Read a book or an article related to your industry. I have never read an industry book that I did not get something useful and often useable. It is nice to get other professional’s take on what you love.

 

  •  How can you make it better? I once sat across the table from a friend that suggested that he had “mastered the art of visual communication”. Wow, what an ego! I think there is always room to make any business, product, or service better.

 

  • Think and daydream. That may sound funny, but I do mean simply that you should think about things. I find it helpful to create a context that will allow me to be able to expand and create. Maybe you could jot down a question like, “How can I make my business better? ” Let your mind explore, soar, and you will find little invitations to expand. I am amazed during these creative sessions what cool stuff can come to me. Invite this to be fun and it will be

 

  •  Make some goals. When is the last time you made some goals? It is very productive to have goals. Not the demanding tirades of a boss kind. No, the very gentle, “where do I want to go? ” kind of goals. You will find that once you have made peace and gained your own clarity about what you want, it is easier to walk toward and has a much greater chance of being realized.

 

  • Remove Fear. Fear is one of the most debilitating human emotions. Are you at your best when you are afraid? Companies that manage based on reaction and fear are doing themselves injury. It is much more effective to make choices based on pro-activity, than reactivity. Fear simply is an acronym for false events appearing real! Get out there and have fun!

 

 

 

 

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