Tag Archives: advice

6 Principles Behind Superior Customer Service

Whether you got it from books, had a mentor tell it to you straight, or  learned from a bad experience as a customer yourself,  it stills bears repeating: Businesses need to respect their customers — these people are their lifeblood.

Customers don’t stay where they don’t feel welcome or heard. Customers won’t stay when they feel that they’re being mistreated, cheated, or used. Entire libraries have been written about taking care of customers, and in the course of human error, we still fumble when it comes to providing good customer service.

There are basic steps that all businesses should take to give better customer service than the competition. There are also right and wrong ways to handle customer complaints, as well as some misguided ways of thinking that can lead to poor service.

Here are 6 principles to help you handle the customer relationship well.

1) Take the long view for your business and build for it.

Have you ever thought of cultivating customers relationships like an orchard?

One-time purchases are one thing, but people know that selling once doesn’t automatically beget a relationship, and for businesses to survive and thrive long-term, they have to be about relationships.

Think about all the money and labor that goes in converting leads into sales. Consider the effort invested in identifying and channeling high-value sales-leads into your most frequent, loyal customers — your ‘raving fans’.

Cultivation in this sense means paying attention and taking care of the customers you’ve earned through your hard work. You want to keep them,  you have to take care of the ones you’ve got. You planted the seeds of trust, you nurture the relationships you’ve built, and you grow an ‘orchard.’

It’s not just “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” and all. Build enough customer relationships and you also build a community. A community take time to grow and to maintain, but when you take care of it, it can also offer you support in return.

A supportive customer community is also your best advertising and marketing tool. They can promote you with recommendations and word-of-mouth advertising.

Based on the phenomenon of “raving fans”, all  businesses serious about their survival need to build strong, long-term customer relationships, and their business practices and philosophies need to reflect that.

Business isn’t just about closing sales — not if they want to to be great ones. Businesses can also be change agents. when you keep making good products and work to maintain good relationships with your customers, you can make a real difference. Continue reading 6 Principles Behind Superior Customer Service

How To Level Up In Your Business Relationships

Anyone who’s ever built a successful business, or is on their way to doing so, would recognize the truth that relationships are important.

Very probably, these people’s  business started from an idea inspired by watching or seeing something that was created by others. Then these entrepreneurs joined the dots in their own fashion, and came up with the concept for their business.  And they got the ball rolling.

  • They did the research, tapped resources, reached out and emailed, called up or posted in forums, asking for help.
  • They worked on  getting the start-up capital, maybe even through setting it up through crowd-funding, or even the good old family loan.
  • They set up their online presence: a website, the shopping cart, the payment system, the blog, the works.
  • The business  went from an idea, to a business plan scratched out during a session in a coffee shop somewhere, to a real, working entity online.

At this  point, it’s easy to hazard a guess that you’re reading in the hopes of getting helpful information …and it’s already in the first paragraph: Relationships are important. Continue reading How To Level Up In Your Business Relationships

YOU: Taking Care Of Your Biggest Asset

Aside from the daily operations that business-owners and entrepreneurs need to handle, there are a lot of things that can interfere with the overall health and stability of your enterprise.  What this post will focus on are the business-related things that can affect you —you— personally: these are things like stress, balance, health, burn-out, and time-management.  We’ll also discuss support strategies that can help you handle these issues you and your business will gain from the positive effects.

Take care of your health.
In the start-up stage of a new business, you can easily be  pulled into a whirlwind of planning, adjusting and execution. It’s exciting. It’s challenging, and it definitely stretches your boundaries.  Once you get used to it, it can become a habit , even when the business has stabilized and is doing well.

This habit  can also let you lose sight of taking care of your own physical health as you spend the majority of your time and energy focusing on the business, and that’s a mistake you cannot afford to let slide.

If you don’t take care to rest, encourage, and replenish your reserves, the stress and exhaustion can affect your reaction time, your judgment, and the clarity you need to make good decisions. If you keep tiring yourself out, you will eventually run yourself down, and that’s not good for anyone.

Being and keeping in robust physical health enables you to stay sharp and focused, able to bear the strain longer and recover from stressful events faster, and gives you the  stamina to keep running the business. You need a clear head and a healthy attitude to lead, to work, and to carry out your vision. A healthy body helps you in keeping both. Without health, your business will be a poor consolation, and an even poorer substitute.

You are, ultimately, your best investment. The business is  an extension of you, but it’s not you, understand? Take care of  your health.

Don’t let business demands turn you into a pod-person.
It’s very easy to slide into workaholism without really noticing. A small emergency here, a  little dispute there…from putting out small fires you can slip into the mindset of 24/7 vigilance, and let the business take over all of your time. What happens next? Continue reading YOU: Taking Care Of Your Biggest Asset

For The Worst-case Scenario: Do You Have An Ops Manual?

Have you ever thought of what would happen to your business if you were suddenly taken out of the picture? And that morbid thought doesn’t even touch yet on what would happen to your family.

Not to be a drag, but part of business continuity planning is thinking of worst-case scenarios so back-up plans can be established, and well,  the sudden loss of the business owner certainly qualifies.

That’s where a well-thought out operations manual — the combination detailed instruction manual and Bible of your business– is priceless.

The ops manual can help keep the foundation, processes, work and structure of the business steady and strong even without you. On a much brighter note, if your business grows so successful that you can sell it,  the ops manual would still be an integral part of your business’s success, and a necessary component of the transfer. And if you need a vacation, or have to take on a sudden trip to the hospital, the people left in your stead can readily cover for your unavoidable absence.

An operations manual simply explains how your business works.
It details all the aspects of the business (operations, finances, production, etc.) as well as covers the information that’s needed to make it– and keep it– running smoothly. Even the details like the account numbers for utilities, or contact numbers for your  CPA, or lawyers, and your suppliers, etc. The ops manual is a controlled, concise data-dump of every detail of your business.  The business is your baby, the ops manual is your guide to taking care of that baby.
Continue reading For The Worst-case Scenario: Do You Have An Ops Manual?

The Difference Between Professionals And Amateurs

The question is old, and the answers are too, just varying with time and culture. The Greeks preferred to live a life of leisurely exploration of the mind, looking down on labor as necessary but beneath them, while in Indian culture work belonged to the first half of life, the next half meant for pursuing generosity and enlightenment.

In the hard-hitting Western culture, work is mostly about money: earning it, going after it and making more of it. That’s why when you ask what the difference is between a pro and an amateur, the most obvious answer in America is: “One gets paid, the other works for free.”

Aside from getting paid, what else marks the difference?

  • Pros do the ground work long before they need to roll things out. They keep their skills fresh, updated and relevant to the times.
  • They focus on the bottom line because they know it’s an important marker of their effectiveness, and as the result of their labor, they want it to count for something, in both financial reward for themselves and its utility for the people it’s meant for.
  • They know the value of their work and set its price accordingly

Pros and amateurs can possess the same basic knowledge in how to do what they do, but knowledge of the process does not equate to doing the work.

Professionals do the work, which includes reading the fine print, delivering what they promised, and keeping business relationships cordial, respectful and strong.


The uncertain economic climate has driven hundreds of thousands into a near-permanent state of anxiety and faith in a bleak future. While we’re told to “Keep going! Take charge!” going full-steam ahead won’t take us anywhere good without a definite direction, the experience to weigh choices under stress, and the discipline to handle the unknown.

Taking control helps alleviate anxiety because this time you are choosing the consequences of your actions. It’s no longer a question of If-this, Then-maybe. It’s “I choose this, this is what I’m going for.” Professionals go for it. They take calculated risks.


Everybody starts out as a novice. The fastest and most basic ways to learn is to copy someone who already succeeded at doing what you want to do. When you can do that well enough and understand the reasoning (the how’s and why’s) behind the process (the skill), you push yourself to go beyond the basics.

You go beyond the guided learning stages to develop a riff of your own. That development process asks you to accept that you’ll make mistakes, and that those mistakes will grow your experience more than rote study.

The biggest difference between amateurs and people who are good at what they do is that amateurs primarily think of what’s in it for them. The professionals go beyond that simple mindset and push themselves to provide things that are unique, valuable and useful for the people and the market they’ve put themselves to serve. Professionals get out of the way of The Work. Continue reading The Difference Between Professionals And Amateurs

Set Yourself Up For Success

Setting yourself up to succeed
When you read the following sentence: “I was framed,” what do you imagine?

Something criminal going on, right? There’s this poor guy going about his business, when all of a sudden, he’s taken in by the authorities because all the evidence points to him as the perpetrator of a crime. Exciting to watch on TV, but nothing you’d want to go through in real life…

Or would you, if it means success?


We’re not advocating criminal acts here. We’re just asking you to think of frames differently.

  • Picture frames showcase and pull attention to the picture they hold.
  • A framework makes the support for something, a structure, an outline.
  • To re-frame something means to present it from a different perspective.

So setting yourself up –to win, to accomplish things, to get done what you want to get done, mind you– shouldn’t be that hard to wrap your brain around, right?

  • You act and provide reliable evidence to prove that you were responsible for getting something done.
  • Do that repeatedly, you establish a pattern.
  • Build reliable patterns, you have a framework of positive habits that support you on your way to your goals.
  • Build the strong internal structure to support you in you choices. Make the external changes to manifest your will. Frame yourself to succeed. It sounds a little clunky, but can you dig it?

Continue reading Set Yourself Up For Success

Lights, Opportunity, Action!

12 February 2012, by A.Cedilla

“Making it” is a combination of luck, circumstances, choices and planning that decides where you go next. Action definitely counts as well. For good or for ill, when you commit to executing your plans, there will be consequences. And most of these things, unless you’re on reality TV, happen behind the scenes.

“Stop thinkin’ and start makin’ moves.”
– Dave Chappelle

You do something, you learn something.

  • You do something and it hurts — the result, at the very least, can be embarrassment and-or physical pain you can recover from, and you remember it.
  • In the best case, you you still learn something — not to do that thing again, or read the instructions first, you goofball.
  • You live, you learn — sorry to pull in Alanis Morisette, but if the song fits, use it.

Continuous stupidity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting the results to change just because you want them to, or expecting to be excluded from suffering the logical consequences because you’re you, you special, special snowflake.

Remember, when it comes to preparation and making choices, germination happens in the dark. Don’t be afraid of the dark.


When you’re fumbling and digging for answers and turn up all this other crap instead….don’t back away. Given enough time, all that crap turns into fertilizer for the rest of your life. Things you want to assign to the burn and bury pile — bad decisions, expired dreams, hardships and emotionally exhausting experiences…those are all things that are in your life. Continue reading Lights, Opportunity, Action!

The Bullet List: Here’s Why You Can’t Win (Not)

05 January 2013, by A.Cedilla

There’s something you’ve been thinking about. And you already know why you can’t do it anyway. For example:

  • You’re too old, or too young, and you’re always in the wrong place at the wrong time.
  • You have too much experience.
  • You don’t have the experience.
  • You don’t have the time to spare to get the experience.
  • Or the money. Or the training.
  • Or the money for the training. Or even money for the rent. (It could be food and housing, but not new shoes, or whatever the most urgent two out of three important things you pick. Your choice.)

There’s always something, you know.

And there’s also this one thing that you absolutely have to get done….actually, several things you have to take care of — pay off your student loans, take care of your kids, hold body and soul together under the weight of your responsibilities….Busy-busy-busy. Take your pick, I bet you have a whole magician’s hat-full of reasons you can pull out at a moment’s notice. Go ahead and write them down. I’m serious. Write them down. I’ll wait.

Why did I ask you to do this? Continue reading The Bullet List: Here’s Why You Can’t Win (Not)

Promoting Yourself Into An Entrepreneur’s Life

22 October 2012, by A. Cedilla

Here’s a thought: Did you ever think that the same strengths that make you promotable might also be the ones that can help you weather the demands of of an entrepreneur’s life?

Think of it. Getting a promotion means several things must have happened: You worked hard. You were recognized for your hard work. You were credited for it. And you were rewarded with a position of higher responsibility and more pay. (Yes, yes, I know, but still, stay with me.)

1. You act promotable. Other people in your sphere see you as trustworthy, competent and good at your job. You are the go-to guy when it comes to your field, and your recommendations, advice and proposals are accepted because of that.

2. You don’t let your time get away from you. While it can’t be helped that you have days that are longer than others, you don’t waste time. You make it count on the priority matters and know how to delegate, and you maintain a balance in your own life.

3. You don’t shy away from the hard parts of work. Making hard calls, having the uncomfortable conversations that have to happen, doing what it takes to get things done…and on the other hand, having good people skills to draw the best out of your co-workers without alienating them.

Continue reading Promoting Yourself Into An Entrepreneur’s Life

Shaping Up For Your New Business

29 September 2012, by A. Cedilla

When you’ve made your decision on the business you’re getting into, you have to commit to what you’re planning to do, because if it’s something you only tolerate, you’ll be crippled right out of the gate.

See, doing stuff only for the money is a very nice thing, financially speaking — nothing wrong with being able to cover the necessities, and a little sumptin’ sumptin’ to make you happy — but realistically speaking, how long will ‘nice’ hold up for you in the context of your life?

In the long run, if money’s the only thing you get, this leaves you with nothing but trouble in the places money can’t cover; sooner or later the imbalance will ripple out into the other areas of your life. What you do has to be a fit between your personality, your interests and your goals.

What business to get into depends on what your interests and strengths are. You also have to have some concrete plans that support your answers to the following questions: Continue reading Shaping Up For Your New Business