Overcoming Perfectionism in Your Small Business

Overcoming Perfectionism in Your Small Business
Perfectionism can get in the way of building or marketing a successful business.  It can prevent us from moving ahead quickly or from taking advantage of business opportunities.  We set ourselves up with unrealistic expectations or goals, which can be damaging to us personally or professionally.  Striving for perfection can damage our self-esteem because we never feel like we are good enough.  Instead, consider adopting an attitude of striving for excellence.  Look at failure as just another teacher.  Let’s explore how being less than perfect can move you ahead in your business!

1.  Get into action.  One of the best ways to overcome perfectionism is to get into action and do something.  In the case of your marketing, put yourself out there.  Show the world who you are through your website, business cards, brochures, or through giving a speech.  Don’t wait until you get all of these things perfected.  The truth is that they never will be.  Everything you do is a work in progress.  Do something now.  Get feedback, and then make corrections as you move forward.

2.  Say “no” to unreasonably high demands.  We often set high standards of performance for ourselves that would be difficult, if not impossible, to meet even under the best of circumstances.  Learn how to say “no” to yourself.  We always set much higher standards for ourselves than anyone else would and in the big picture, it really means nothing.  You would be surprised at how satisfied most people would be with average performance on your part.  I’m not saying that you should sacrifice quality in what you do, but what you’ll incrementally gain for large expenditures of your personal energy is certainly not productive.  Trying to be perfect in your marketing will only delay getting your message out to those who need to hear it most.

3.  Set realistic goals.  Unreasonably high demands go hand in hand with setting unrealistic goals.  You cannot expect to do everything at once or even at the same level of quality.  Creating a plan of what needs to be done in your business is a top priority.  For each major project or item that you need to accomplish, break it down into a number of goals that are easily doable.  A goal of creating your website can be daunting.  However, breaking it into a number of other goals including drafting a plan for your site, obtaining your domain name, and interviewing three web developers makes it much easier to accomplish.

4.   Find support.  Find others who will support you in the things you are doing.  You might consider asking friends, colleagues, or family members to give their sign-off of approval on some of the projects that you are working on.  While you might not think that something is perfect enough, the people on your support team can provide you with much a much less biased opinion.  Sometimes we get so caught up in what we are doing, we cannot see that it is perfect just as it is.  Recruit a supportive team to help you determine when enough is enough.

5.  Perfect as it is.  Consider adopting a mindset that whatever you do is the right thing to do and the best thing to do.  This powerful attitude can make all the difference in creating a successful business.  Not only will potential clients find your sense of personal strength attractive, but you will also have more confidence to make things happen and to make them happen quickly.  You’ll take more risks, ask more confidently for business, and work more effectively at everything you do.

6.  Failure is my friend.  Redefine how you look at failure.  Failure is a natural part of life and will inevitably impact your business to varying degrees.  Failure is not the end of anything, nor does it mean that you are incompetent.  Realize that failure is a teacher and that it can help you innovate in your business.  It provides you with valuable information that you’re doing something or going in a direction that isn’t providing the results that you want.  The sooner you understand that, the sooner you can re-orient yourself in another direction, which can lead to your success.

7.  Reframe your attitudes.  Perfection is defined as freedom from fault or defect, or the quality or state of being saintly.  What does it mean to you?  The words we use to describe what we do or who we are, make a tremendous difference in the success we achieve.  How would you define perfection for yourself?  What about adopting an attitude that you are perfect the way you are?  That you are enough.  Write down what perfection means to you and post it in a place where you can read it daily.

8.  Make lemons out of lemonade.  You might be surprised that when you’re not trying to be perfect, you may actually find the perfect opportunity.  For example, you might not be dressed appropriately for a networking event and you don’t feel like you’re “perfect enough” to talk to anyone.  But, you take the opportunity to chat with someone standing next to the hors d’oeuvre table and the next thing you know you’ve created a potential for new business.  Opportunities are everywhere.  In fact, take a look at the last few things you did which you didn’t think were perfect or which didn’t meet your high standards.  What were the results of what you did?  What other exciting things blossomed as a result?

9.  Making it happen is more important than perfection.  Doing things, putting yourself into action, telling people about what you can do for them…all of these things are much more important than spending another hour or another dollar trying to make something perfect in hopes that it will buy you some increased level of success.  People aren’t attracted to perfection, they’re attracted to people that make things happen.  If you’re at the office trying to perfect anything in your business, the trade-off is that you aren’t somewhere where you can be making valuable business contacts.  It is important to surround yourself with people who like to take action.  Not only will they motivate you to do the same, but you’ll also be able to witness, firsthand, the results they are having by getting out there.

10.  Be kind to yourself.  Perfectionists often feel down on themselves for not achieving…well, perfection.  Perfection is an ideal, not a reality; it is humanely impossible to achieve.  Learn how to forgive yourself when you do something you don’t think is good enough or perfect.  Love yourself for being you and know that everything you do in your business possesses your personal spin.  Potential clients won’t be attracted to you because of your business card or website.  They will be attracted to you because of who you are.

Networking Your Business Locally

Networking Your Business Locally
Networking Your Business Locally. Owning your own business of any type is going to require some amount of networking. Networking is a method of building awareness of your business, among people who may be likely at one time or another to use your products, your services or to refer someone else to your business. Networking is all about getting to know other people, and locally your best bet in finding additional network contacts is going to be with other business owners.

You can find many types of networking opportunities around you. Every club and every association that you belong too is going to be a part of your network. From there, every person you come into contact with and every person you talk with is going to be part of your network. Networking Your Business Locally

Make a lasting impression
You can make a lasting impression on the people that you meet by talking about what you know best, and by talking about topics that are vital to your business. If you are not sure about a topic that is being approached during a conversation, ask questions. This will show you are part of the conversation and that you still want to know more. Just listening is going to keep you out of the conversation and will not make a lasting impression of you on any one.

Make your voice known
Join local chambers of commerce; join local men and women’s associations. Join the local PTA, the sports boards, and join clubs that interest you. If you don’t find a club locally that does interest you, create one and build your local network from that point. The more people that you can put yourself into contact with is going to increase awareness of yourself, of your business and what you have to offer. Even if you are selling online, you have to be proud of what you are doing, and talk about it as often as possible to build a network of people that will call on you when they need your products or services.

Once you have built a good network it is important that you maintain and set goals for yourself. As you have set goals, you need to keep them. This means, that if you strive to meet one new person a week, or to make it a point to call one person you know each week that is not a current customer, you are going to increase your business. Think about this, for every five calls you make, and only one turns into a sale, that is one more sale than what you had. Increase exposure for your business, and use this for your personal success. Networking Your Business Locally

Growing Your Small Business Sales Through Creating Connections

Growing  Your Small Business Sales Through Creating Connections
Your mission as a business owner is to develop a marketing strategy which offers your potential clients/customers a way to improve their situation in a certain way, solve a problem, provide more value, or open new opportunities for them which will motivate them to pick up the phone and buy from you. This requires that the focus of your marketing plan be placed on your customer – NOT ON YOU! Taken from The 90 Day Marketing Marathon Blunders from A to Z these ten powerful tools will support you in creating meaningful connections with your clients/customers and providing real time solutions to their challenges of the today.
1.   Custom Assessments.

By using a tool such as Assessment Generator you can build custom assessments which will allow the visitors to your website the opportunity to engage with you while providing value which is memorable.  With Assessment Generator you as the business owner will receive the basic results of the survey to see if clients are where they want to be in their lives or their businesses.
2.   Online Survey Tools.

A well-designed online survey can greatly empower business, academic, and charitable organizations by finding out quickly what is on the minds of your current and prospective customers/clients. Creating an online survey can be extremely simple and convenient with a free survey tool such as Advanced Survey or Zoomerang. By designing a survey and sending this to your database, you can poll targeted groups quickly and in detail while obtaining real time results.
3.   “Feedback” Hot Links.

As you update your website, author articles, or launch new products and services, add a “feedback hot link” to your site or to your e-mail signature. This link can state “Send me feedback” or “Send me your comments” and will automatically link to an e-mail which can be used for your website visitors to provide you with insight into what is working and what is not with your products and services. The key is to make communicating with you as easy as possible.
4.   Weblogs With Comments.

A weblog is a simple yet compelling online environment, which will allow you to put your thoughts, ideas, and experiences on the web via a journal, photo album, or diary. With a tool such as Typepad you can provide your clients and customers with access to your online journal AND allow them the ability to comment to your posts. If you are blogging around a topic which creates discussion or a topic which can generate ideas for your new products and services, you will find that blogging with a tool which allows for comments will take your products and services to a more advanced and sophisticated level quickly and with the support of your customers/clients.
5.   Client Scenarios That Create an Emotional Tug.

What are the typical challenges of your clients, what do they complain about to others, and what do they really want in life? Do they say things such as:
·    I am a CEO, and I cannot seem to motivate my team.
·    I am a pet owner, and I am looking for a Veterinarian I can trust.
·    I am a Solopreneur who is working for a lunatic.
·    I am a business owner who is looking to invest my money to double my financial wealth.
·    I am a new college graduate, and I am looking for the career of my dreams.

By honing in on what’s most important to your website visitors and actually posting these for the world to see, you will begin to connect with these folks in a way which calls the emotions to be tapped.  List these client scenarios in bullet form on your website, and link each scenario to a very tangible benefit of what you can offer.

Example: If you are marketing to pet owners who are looking for a Veterinarian he/she can trust, link this client scenario to a special report on “The Top Ten Questions to Ask When Hiring a Veterinarian for Your Pet.”
6.   Data Driven Landing Pages.

Landing pages, also known as “jump” pages in the world of marketing, are self-contained web pages that visitors are driven to for a specific purpose (usually for the purpose of collecting e-mail addresses.)  Landing pages are very focused and usually contain a message, in most cases to allow you as the web host to determine what visitors click on as well as other statistics.  A data driven landing page contains a form requesting the user to enter contact information, usually in order to get something, such as a free special report, newsletter, or to register for an upcoming event. By including a question on this page such as “What is the thing you most want in the area of _______________” (fill in the blank) you will be able to see trends of what folks most want, which can be key to the growth of your business.
7.   A Research and Development Team.

A Research and Development team is a group of people you invite to join you in developing your products, programs, and services.  Your R & D Team may be as small as ten people or as large as 1,000 people. It is recommended that you call on your R & D team at least two times per month, as they will provide you with valuable information about what is working/not working in your business, and they will tell others about what you are up to.  As your business grows, you will want to continue to add people to your list so that you have a cross section of people, ideas, and perspectives from people from all walks of life and all corners of the globe.
8.   A Mastermind Group.

The purpose of a mastermind group is to share thoughts, ideas, opinions, and information.  To be successful in business, it is important for this group to be supportive and to care enough about you and your business to provide you with honest feedback about what they see is possible for your business.  Spend at least one hour per week with your mastermind group, and use the feedback gained to grow your life, both personally and professionally.
9.   A Product/Service Development Team.

Are you ready to develop a new product or service, and you just don’t know where to begin or how to make it happen?  If so, invite ten of the coolest people you know to support you in developing the new product or service in exchange for a slice of the pie once the product/service is launched.  People love to share their wisdom, especially when they know that they are involved in development of something that will be financially rewarding in the end.
10. Risky Business.

One time per month, add one product or service that is out of the norm or a little bit risky for you and your business.  Why?  Because it will keep your mind moving and will allow your customers to sample something which is cutting edge and exciting!  Example: You are a bookstore owner, and you host a “Mystery Night.”  Invite the public to preview the 12 hottest mysteries by attending a masquerade party on the premises of your bookstore – loads of fun, intrigue, and excitement.  A suggestion/comment box can be situated near the door, inviting guests to contribute feedback and ideas for the next big event for your biz.

Entrepreneur’s Worst Nightmare | Entrepreneur's Worst Nightmare

Entrepreneur’s Worst Nightmare
Gone: Customers, sales, profits. Following is a simple little tale about how it happens.

“Jones was a typical entrepreneur who worked long hours and wore many hats.

“The problem was that all the hats screamed for attention. Jones solved the problem by wearing the hat that screamed the loudest.

“Unfortunately, this was only a temporary solution since all the hats kept screaming until they were worn.

“There was, however, one hat that never screamed. It never complained, whined or whimpered, even though it was lonely. It knew it was important, whether or not it was worn. That hat was right.

“One day the customers quit coming. The other hats became quiet; they no longer were needed. It was then that Jones noticed the hat named Marketing and how little it had been worn.

“‘Why didn’t I wear the Marketing hat?’ thought Jones.

“For one thing, Marketing hadn’t screamed for attention like the other hats. The other reason was that Jones was afraid the Marketing hat was too expensive to wear and would drain profits.

“But now there were no profits; the customers were gone.

“Jones put on the Marketing hat. It was time to get the old customers back, and to get new customers, too. It was time to wear the Marketing hat regularly.

“Even the other hats perked up.”

(c) 2005 Neil Sagebiel

Google’s New Algorithm Search: How it can affect your business.

Hold on to your hats, small business owners. Everything you thought you knew about SEO and making sure your customers could find your business online may not be true anymore. That’s thanks to Google’s recent adoption of Hummingbird, its new, more dynamic method for improving search results.

“The Hummingbird algorithm is significant as it changes Google from being a search engine to an information engine,” says Mert Sahinoglu, a partner in Chicago’s Falcon Living Real Estate. He has been a digital marketing consultant for over a decade and says that for the small business owner, “This means that they will have to provide more information and multimedia content to their Google+ profile.”

“It’s important to state that Hummingbird is not just an algorithm update,” adds George Zlatin, director of operations at Digital Third Coast Internet Marketing, a Chicago-based SEO consulting and marketing firm. “It is a structural update to the algorithm that affects 90 percent of search queries. To put that in perspective, when Google releases a normal algorithm update, that usually affects anywhere from one to three percent of queries. So this is much, much larger.”

Widespread smartphone and tablet use led to Hummingbird

“In mobile search, thanks to technologies such as the iPhone’s Siri, customers are asking more questions rather than typing keywords,” Sahinoglu explains. Keyword-based searching is still practiced by the majority of desktop users, but Sahinoglu expects this to change. “As Google improves Hummingbird, questions will replace keywords as customer confidence in getting the right answer for the question increases.”
Hummingbird may already be helping your small business

“If you create a lot of good content on your website that is relevant to your business you are more likely to get more traffic from that than pre-Hummingbird,” says Zlatin. “Hummingbird does not mean that Google doesn’t use traditional ranking factors anymore, such as keywords, backlinks to your site, or content. It is just a new framework put on top of it.”

Best practices for small businesses

It’s very important to understand that Hummingbird places a high value on information from Google+ profiles and social media platforms. This means your business may have some more work to do besides the creation and sharing of keyword-rich, unique content on your website and social media platforms.

“You should provide as much detail as possible in your Google+ Local profile, including opening/closing hours,” Sahinoglu says. Images are also becoming increasingly important. Sahinoglu recommends that profile photos should always be selected with marketing in mind. “Photos are definitely becoming the first impression a new customer sees about a business in the new Google.”

Hummingbird will also push small businesses to network with their geographic area customers or with their niche group of customers more on Google+, according to Sahinoglu. Another key factor to consider is your Google + Authorship authority. Google + Authorship is a verification that links online content to the person who wrote it. The more published content you have out there, the more important you become in Hummingbird’s eyes. You will get a bigger boost from content that appears on sites you don’t actually control.
Content is still king

“The best advice I can give small business owners is to really focus on adding unique content to their websites.” Zlantin says. “Talk about what you know. Talk about what customers are asking you. This type of content is going to bring more traffic from Hummingbird.” He adds, “There is no way you can predict all of the search terms people will write, so it’s better to just focus on writing content that is important to them.”

“Start building an extensive Q&A library about your products or services,” Sahinoglu recommends. “This could be a brand-related Q&A or a non-brand product/service Q&A. Optimize a unique page for each Q&A.”

Going forward: Be prepared for change

Google is continually refining and adjusting all of the algorithms they use to determine search results. This upgrade to Hummingbird is sure to be followed by others in the future. As a small business owner, maintaining awareness of these changes and implementing recommended best practices is the best way to ensure favorable search engine rankings.

Getting Positive Reviews on Yelp

How can you get honest, positive feedback to appear on Yelp or review portions of Google, Facebook, or TripAdvisor? It may sound daunting, but some say all small businesses need to do is ask.

“If you don’t ask, the likelihood of it happening is almost zero,” says Adi Bittan, chief executive and cofounder of Palo Alto, California-based OwnerListens.com, a company with an online tool that gives customers a direct line to a business’s owners via an app or text messages. “People are actually much nicer than many people give them credit for.”

Where to start? Listen up the next time a customer pays a compliment for great service or expresses satisfaction about a mistake that was quickly fixed. Translating pleasant, in-person encounters into positive social media capital is a matter of reading the signals your customers are giving and being direct about a request for help, Bittan says. If clients praise an employee, service, or product, that’s a cue that they’re likely open to doing more.

Bittan points to a series of Stanford University studies that show people underestimate how likely others are to agree to requests for assistance. In one, researchers concluded those who are approached for a favor are under social pressure to be benevolent, because saying no might them look bad—to themselves or others. (After all, everyone is sensitive to reviews.)

It’s that perception of altruism that motivates some reviewers, and that’s some of the surprisingly good news that might make your own foray a bit easier than expected. Jon Hall, chief executive and founder of Bloomfield, New Jersey-based Grade.us, has written extensively on the topic of customer reviews and says the vast majority are positive, regardless of the product, service, industry or online community. “There is no need to ask for a ‘good’ or ‘positive’ review. Just ask for a review, ask for feedback,” he says.
Hall’s company, as well as Bittan’s, tries to steer customer reviews toward a company’s preferred online destination. Grade.us uses a platform that directs customers to a landing page, where a business owner can “funnel” their feedback to a review site they care about most, be it Foursquare, TripAdvisor, Google+, Yelp, or a dozen more. Bittan’s service provides a direct channel to the business owner, where compliments or complaints are acknowledged in real time. Both aim to take the steam out of the fieriest of missives from angry clients: first, by making the process of filing good reviews easier for happy customers and swelling those numbers; second, by giving unhappy clients the attention they need from those who can actually help them.

For businesses now, the stakes are particularly high on Yelp, in more ways than one. The site has more than 100-million unique visitors a month worldwide, via its website and apps, and a recent Nielsen survey reported four out of five of its users consult the site before they spend money. A 2011 Harvard Business School survey found that restaurants that boosted their rating by one full star on Yelp saw their annual revenue increase five to nine percent.

But there’s also a very delicate balance small businesses must maintain when soliciting glowing reports.

For its part, Yelp discourages businesses from asking customers for positive feedback on the site. In its FAQ, it says “These self-selected reviews tell only part of the story, and we don’t think that’s fair to consumers. We would much rather hear from members of the Yelp community who are inspired to talk about their experiences without a business owner’s encouragement.”

Any savvy Internet user can spot the obvious inside jobs. But along with filters that try to weed out phony reviews, Yelp has been active in pursuing those attempting to game the system. In late 2012, the site launched what it termed a sting operation, and exposed dozens of businesses that solicited positive reports from undercover “elite” Yelp users with offers of cash payments. In September, the New York state attorney general fined 19 reputation management companies for fake online reviews on several major sites, including Yelp, Google Local, and CitySearch.

All of which makes a genuine rave more meaningful. So what’s the right way to ask for a review?

Bittar says do it “in the moment,” when the goodwill is fresh and top-of-mind. Here is some advice from her and Hall on how to approach a customer:
1. Explain why you’re asking. Put it at the bottom of receipts or in signage in your shop, and say something like “Please let the rest of the world know that we did a good job. Online reviews are one of the most important drivers of our business.”

2. Link it to a customer’s identity as a local shopper, or just a good person. Use messages like “We’ve been serving the [town name] for more than two decades” or “Please show your kindness and support by letting your social media followers know.”

3. Have a tangible reminder, and try to stay unbiased. Hall’s clients hand their customers a postcard asking them to write a review. It reads: “Help us. Help others. You’re invited to review X.”

Social media has given everyone a voice, for better or worse, but for small businesses, it’s how you deal with it that matters, Bittar says. “It still all comes down to giving great service,” she says. “And the way the world is going, the bar has been raised for everyone. You have to wow them. And it’s that much harder.”

Simple Sales Strategy: Define What Selling Is!

Simple Sales Strategy: Define What Selling Is!

imple Sales Strategy:  Define What Selling Is!Simple Sales Strategy: Define What Selling Is! How do you define selling? A lot of people think of selling as persuading/convincing people to buy things they may or may not want or need. To some, selling is all about closing a deal. Thinking of selling like this is not very empowering to you. Frankly, if you have this perspective on selling, it’s no wonder if you hate it. I would too!

So what perspective can you take about selling that will make it enjoyable, exciting and something you look forward to? Sounds like a bit of a tall order doesn’t it? Read on. 

Hopefully by now, you have made the list of all the problems that you can solve for your target market. You’re going to be surprised how long that list grows over time. So really, if you look at your list and you think about it, you are a master problem solver. What you’re really doing is helping people. Correct?

So try on this perspective about what selling is: Selling is helping people. Selling is serving. Selling is a process of identifying and solving people’s problems. 

See, feel and know that selling is serving. This will cause a big shift for you. With this perspective, you will really become passionate about wanting to help people. Find this passion and let it shine through.

It is your purpose, your moral obligation, to have as many sales conversations with people as you can so you can help as many people as possible. If you’re not having these types of sales conversations, you are holding back the gift you have to offer the world. You owe it to people to be there for them with your expertise and wisdom.

Next time you’re talking to a potential client, think about how you can help them, how you can serve them. Forget about trying to sell them something. If what you have to offer does solve their problems, and you facilitate the conversation using the strategies we are covering, people will sell themselves and will subsequently buy from you.

If you have a perspective on selling which is one of service and helping people, how do you think the people you’re talking to will feel? Think about this: people hate to be sold. The minute they feel they’re being sold, they often want to get away – fast. Don’t you? On the other hand, if they feel you are sincerely trying to help them solve their problems, they will relax and open up to you.

If you have a perspective on selling which is one of service and helping people, how do you think you will feel? Does energized, excited, relaxed, and natural come to mind?

This perspective is simple but powerful and very attract-tive to clients. imple Sales Strategy: Define What Selling Is!

This article is sponsored by Apple Capital Group, Inc. If you are looking for business financing, please call Apple Capital Group’s offices at 866-611-7457 or go to www.applecapitalgroup.com. #applecapitalgroup #thecorecorebusinessshow #timjacquet