Sunday, September 28, 2008

10 Tips For Networking

One of the biggest misconceptions I think many aspiring small business owners make is in thinking that by simply starting a business the money will roll in.This is often referred to as the "if I build it they will come" syndrome and quite frankly,nothing could be farther from the truth.

A new small business owner can expect to work more hours than ever before just to get the business name out there, after all, you could own 500 businesses but if nobody knows who you are or what you do, you don't own much.

Networking is an art in itself but when done correctly you can accomplish great things.Let me take a few moments and teach a little of what I have learned that has helped me grow my company.

1. Always have business cards on your person and when giving them out do not be stingy, pass along at least 3 to each prospective client.

2. Ask everyone you meet or are introduced to about themselves, people love to talk about themselves and by keeping your mouth shut and ears open you may learn very vital information that could help you.

3. Tell everyone you meet or are introduced to about your company and what it is you do but at the same time do not monopolize their time. Time is what? MONEY! Keep it short and to the point, if they have not offered you one of their business cards, ask.

4. Take time to follow up with a short phone call or email.Once again, do not monopolize their time.

5. Have and maintain a website - until you're on the internet you will not be taken seriously.

6. If you know anyone in need of a service offered by a potential client, refer that client and then follow up with a call telling them you referred them. They may decide to return the favor.

7. Anytime you are going to meet a potential client in person, dress for success. It doesn't matter if 90% of your business is web based, dressing like a bum will give off a bad impression as to how your business is run and people do not spend money on the product as much as they do the image. If your image is weak, so is your business. That is the main reason behind all the dating hotlines doing commercials with women that do not look like they should have any problems getting dates, if they were to use their actual female users instead of professional lingerie models, their business would fail.

8 If you have a meeting with a potential client, do not be on 30 minutes early, even if it means you have to wait, never leave a client waiting or they will think that is how you conduct all aspects of your business.

9 Treat each and every potential client as if they are the most important because at that moment they are. Do not take cell phone calls, that's what the ignore button and voice mail is for.

10. Never underestimate the importance of a client, they may only have one small job for you to do that may not bring in much profit however they may know someone with a lot of big profit jobs just looking for the right company to do them. A lost referral is bad but word of mouth alone can kill a company so be on top of your game always.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Excuses Not Allowed !!!!!!!!

One thing I learned in the Marine Corps that I believe can help anyone with any type of goal, be it personal or professional, is that excuses satisfy only the person making them.

I have found it far easier to correct mistakes than to try to pass off an excuse for why a mistake was made to an irate customer. At the end of the excuse, the mistake will still have to be fixed and if excuses become your calling card, you could run out of customers fast.

I have yet to meet the customer that really cared about why something went wrong and that's where they confuse you, what they should be asking and what you should be answering is what are you going to do to make things right.Nothing else matters.

Aside from business, excuses often keep people from achieving their full potential. People will think of a million reasons as to why they can not do something however they should be focusing on how they can overcome these obstacles and do them anyway.

Remember, creating an excuse is just your minds way of giving up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Business Plan

Recent changes are forcing me to once again rework my business plan which is fine as I have mentioned in earlier posts about how a business plan should be flexible and not set in stone. In the last 2 years I have had to constantly reevaluate where my business is at so that I can better guide it's growth towards my overall goal.

This has not always been easy as I have seen both the ups and the downs. I have seen times when I thought things were bad enough to just close down and other times,like now, when it seems as if there is an overabundance of work. As an entrepreneur I try not to get so focused on one plan that I allow an opportunity to pass me by and if you view your business plan as anything but flexible, you can get tunnel vision to the point of not recognizing what is the best path to take towards your goal.

I still have my personal goals written down and I view them daily to remind myself where I want to be.This keeps them fresh in my mind and also allows me to guage progress. When necessary, I add to those goals.

Remember small business owners; for growth there must be change so keep your business plan as flexible as necessary

Monday, September 15, 2008

10 Quotes Every Businessman Should Read

1. "The Golden Rule for every business man is this Put yourself in your customers place" .....Orison Swett Marden

2."There is only one boss. The customer, and he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down,simply by spending his money somewhere else.".....Sam Walton

3."Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning".....Bill Gates

4."Success is a lousy teacher, it seduces smart people into thinking they can not lose." .....Bill Gates

5."Obstacles are things a person sees when he takes his eyes off his goal." .....E. Joseph Cossman

6."The most valuable thing you can make is a mistake, you can't learn anything from being perfect." .....Adam Osborne

7."Too many of us are not living our dreams because we are living our fears" .....Les Brown

8."The only place where your dream becomes impossible is in your own thinking" .....Robert H. Schuller

9."It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that,you'll do things differently" .....Warren Buffett

10."Yes, you can be a dreamer and a doer too, if you will remove one word from your vocabulary; Impossible" .....Robert H. Schuller

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Success Should Not Come Easy

Someone once said that "Success is getting up one time more than you are knocked down!"

Reading those words, I know they go hand and hand with business. This year started fairly well with all of my goals (for the year) being met the first quarter which now that I look back was really a bad thing, it forced me to re-evaluate how high I had set my goals, or perhaps how low would have been a better way to describe things. When I strived to double my business, it quadrupled with little to no effort which in turn caused me to start believing I could not lose. Everything I touched was turning to gold or green (the color of money) as the case was.

When things come too easy for us we often don't appreciate them as if we had struggled for the same level of success.As things got better and better for the business, I became more and more unprepared for a decline in the economy. When business began to face problems with not only over demanding customers but also under performing workers, I was not prepared to make the best decisions so I hesitated hoping things could be fixed with minimal effort.

Things began to get worse to the point I dreaded waking up. I just wanted to either go to sleep until things improved or just not do anything and allow the collapse. This feeling of hopelessness was severe until I pulled my head out my ass and took a look at things more closely, as bad as things were, I had still accomplished all my goals for the year. I began to realize that this could all be turned around. I fired customers and workers alike, removing all that brought me stress. Breaking my company down to the very basics, I set new goals and quit taking excuses from workers as to why they weren't being met.

I now operate on a smaller yet more productive scale with a lot more hands on at the job sites and will continue to do so for as long as it takes. I feel the hunger again that I first felt when I opened my business. My stress level is down and my business is up. This may not be a bad year after all.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Does Your Past Define You?

How often have we watched as famous and wealthy Americans did things so asinine it left us scratching our heads thinking where their brains could have possibly been. From Michael Vick to Martha Stewart. I often wonder is it possible that you can get so comfortable that you think you're untouchable?

That has been one of my biggest challenges when running my business, not with myself, I know everything I have could disappear overnight, but with finding and keeping people around me that are as hungry as I am. It really makes me mad to see someone with a ton of potential throw it all away because they can not see the big picture.

I try to pass on wisdom when I can to my employees even though I know most are so limited by what society has taught them they can do, they will never go anyplace and as they stay in their respective places, chosen so long ago when they were taught to get a job, work until you're old and retire on Social Security, I constantly strive for more. I may have been born poor but I refuse to simply settle into the position society has chosen for me.I urge every reader to do 3 things if you really want to make it in business.

1. Always strive to be greater today than you were yesterday

2. Never forget where you came from and unless you want to return there... you better follow #1.

3. Never let your past define your future

Now I am headed out to the job site, just wanted to leave the readers with some things to think about.

Monday, September 8, 2008

A Busy Week

This has been my first real chance to post anything lately. Business has been hectic and I just had to let a few workers go because they had gotten to the point that they thought they couldn't be replaced and had begun either not doing jobs correctly or just not showing up for jobs at all.I think they forgot that I started out without them and had already made it when they were hired. Either way, they got a good dose of reality hurled at them this past week.

Building a very strong reputation for a company is hard enough without the people around you adding to the issue and one thing I have learned is you can do 1000 jobs perfect but you will only be remembered for the one you screw up. A companies reputation is only as good as the last job performed by them. I draw the line when my businesses reputation is at stake.

Hopefully next week will be back to normal and I will find time to post more and return a lot of dropped entrecards.