Tag Archives: business practice

Give Your Website A Boost Behind The Scenes

It’s easy to overlook things when you’re engrossed in the day-to-day events  of running a business or focused working on projects, so we’re just taking a few minutes of your time to share a few pointers and help you with your website:

Website health-check.
A website works while you sleep.  Barring DoS attacks, a cut cable somewhere on the ocean floor, or Skynet dropping the boom — or you forgetting to renew your  hosting subscription — your business website is up 24/7/365. An asset like that deserves proper care and maintenance to keep on working for you the way you have it designed to.

If you haven’t done it yet, just take the next three minutes to write down all the maintenance dates and details for your website  — and then put copies of the information where it makes sense to put them, whether as an extra page in your operations manual, an index card in your day-planner, or a laminated printout for your files.

For added assurance, reinforce the data with reminders on your preferred calendar app or your business planner.

  • When do you need to renew your hosting, domain name, and security certificates?
  • Are your security details updated for your hosting, security and domain authorities — down to the correct email address, updated contact numbers, and even the credit card expiration date, if it comes to that?
  • Are the charges for those items  on an auto-debit or automatic billing cycle?

Continue reading Give Your Website A Boost Behind The Scenes

Stay On Target: Planning For Business Growth

In a recent article, we touched on what you can do to make the most of your goals for this year. The sum of it, roughly speaking, was this:  Specificity and clarity —  applied to means and methods — practically guarantee a smoother journey.

You break down an over-arcing goal in stages to make it more specific and time-bound, and then break those stages apart in smaller steps. This helps guide you to make consistent, sustainable, and steady progress, and is also great help for when you feel the monotony wearing you thin.

  • You feel lost? Refer to your project ‘map’ to re-orient and guide you.
  • You can’t quite focus or decide on what to do? Just look at the next step to take.
  • You feel down? Look at the work you’ve already put in towards your goal. You are working on your dreams. Keep going!

Essentially, with this system you’ll be setting yourself up to win. Regularly, and in small ways.

Let’s say you want to do a better job — how do you plan on going about it? You want to keep your skills updated and sharp — how are you going to do that?

It’s like using the method, “Don’t break the chain.” Come up with a clear, specific goal and work it backwards.  You  write all the steps down, and every day you take a step. Just one.

We also touched on other things like:  Focus your energies on what would simply not happen without you.  Find sources you can trust, find mentors, find or create a focus group.  Test things out by making  small bets.  Test, try, work at it. You can only go so far with theoreticals. You have to do the actual work to learn first-hand.  Broaden your experience, and keep learning to think for yourself.

Continue reading Stay On Target: Planning For Business Growth

Keeping Skills Sharp: Is Online Learning for You?

You can’t ignore it. Competition is ever present in the business world, and you have to stay sharp and alert to deal with threats and to seize opportunities. To do both, you not only need information, but the understanding and discernment to use that information to check which way the wind is blowing.

One way to refine your mastery regarding your niche, your customers, and your market, is to study. Not just do research, but  using the path of deliberate, self-paced, self-directed education to promote your growth and experience inside and outside of your business,  to promote both depth and reach.

Fortunately, we have an over-abundance of choices now.  You  won’t even be strictly required to  enroll unless you think it’s the best option for you. With all the free resources available, at the most basic level, if you have stable internet access, the time, and the perseverance, you can start as soon as you want.

Things have become very much interconnected in our world today;  Even a small event happening far away can ripple out in unexpected ways. Change comes faster, and entrepreneurs are hard-pressed to keep up and manage all the shifts, side-steps, and set-backs that come from that. Continuing education is a great help in learning to use change to our advantage — but you still have to be the one to choose.  This isn’t high school any more.  No one can choose for you, and you have to do the work or it simply won’t get done. Continue reading Keeping Skills Sharp: Is Online Learning for You?

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 Protect Your Business’s Financial Health

The clear signifier that you’re running a business well is that you are making money.  What this post will discuss will cover common financial pitfalls and ways of thinking that can leave the business losing money.

Don’t bet if you can’t cover the loss — so have reserves.
When we get emotionally caught up in the moment of planning to start a business, or actually starting one, the excitement and thrill about this new venture often gets ahead of strong, coolly detached reason. There’s a lot to be said about being able to block out time to cool down and consider your decisions rationally and objectively.

Every business, bar none, has gone through the experience of lacking enough money, or will experience  that lack eventually. The lack of money can even be tracked back to the earliest days of the enterprise. Turning money over and putting it back in to keep the business operational is not the same as making a profit. There are so many potential pitfalls that can influence how you can create money streams that 100% get-rich plans can’t be a given.

Before you starts a business you need to make sure that one, there are people who are prepared to buy your products (you have a viable, healthy market present) and two, there are enough people willing to do so to provide you a steady, sustainable market population to support you. You need enough customers to not only break even, but to turn a profit. Continue reading How To Protect Your Business’s Financial Health

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

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 First 3 Steps To Starting An Online Business

One of the biggest obstacles to starting your own internet venture is the inability to get started. You very likely have a clear financial target in mind: You want to make money with this business, and to a secondary extent, you don’t want to lose all the money you currently have trying to get it up and running.

What can really gum up the works are all the possible solutions you can come up with as to how, what, where and why the business will succeed. The choices are endless, and their possible combinations, near-infinite. You can’t quite settle on just one or two choices to consider, you keep rating and ranking and comparing choices —right into paralysis. Why?

Because it’s easy to dream big. Dreaming is free. Joint ventures. Teleseminars. Blogging, maybe, hopefully, towards an eventual book deal. Money, fame, authority.

The images are so seductive, so shiny, that we can spend hours immersed in what-will-happen-when-I-get-rich. In the blink of an eye, we’re at the grand finish. We have a thriving, successful e-business.

And without any solid, real plans to explain how we got it.

Dreaming is free, and the problem is when you come up against the reality of the things you need to do to actually start. Faced with too many choices, we can fall into the trap of endless comparisons, cost-to-benefits ratios, etc. and never really start.

So here’s a simple plan to start an on-line business: Continue reading The First 3 Steps To Starting An Online Business

Strong Networking : Building Relationships Of A Different Flavor

28 October 2013, by A. Cedilla

The level of technology accessible to people today has certainly let single proprietorships flourish. Solo-preneurs can make their mark on their own website, or manage sideline businesses on virtual marketplaces like Etsy and Artfire for the crafters, or eBay, Craiglist and Amazon for anyone wanting to sell particular items.

The other half of the paradox fueling this phenomenon is that nobody ever really does it alone. Businesses have always needed customers, yes, but nurturing successful customer relationships is only part of the whole network. Establishing the network itself takes all kinds — technical support from your internet provider, for example, and your web-host team. Then there’s stuff like suppliers, delivery services, payment processing, security in terms of information protection (back-up and encryption) and keeping financial details secured, then there’s financial services (yes, credit lines are important, even if you’re keeping it ‘in the family’ — if not also keeping one with actual banks.)

Nobody does it alone. In tough times, relationships help us keep afloat and somewhat sane. In tech times, relationships still help us survive, and when we use them to help others up, we end up helping the whole network get better.

Strong networking gets you the following:

  • More people in the pool of knowledge anchors (experts) and exposure to experiences that sharpen your own skills.
  • More exposure to practice your own people skills. One notable personal skill to have, one that many experts say ranks above technical skills (which can be addresses with training) is getting along with different types of people. Emotional intelligence is just as, if not more, important as the skill sets needed to run the nuts-and-bolts side of running your own enterprise.
  • More opening to help other people up, and get the chance to be helped up as well. It’s not ‘just business’, it’s personal. You take the risk of getting out there, and in learning things about people, you also learn about yourself. You can grow as a person as well as grow a sense of community and connection. This affects all the areas of your life, not just the facets covering making money.

Continue reading Strong Networking : Building Relationships Of A Different Flavor

Answer Other People’s Problems To Solve Your Own

15 September 2012, by A. Cedilla

No business can survive without customers. This is true whether you operate a brick-and-mortar store, or run a purely online enterprise.

The issue in the virtual world is that there are a myriad of business competing in various areas of e-commerce, and unless you’re in a very specialized niche, you’re likely to have a lot of competition. How can you make sure that the people in your target market can find you?

You have to let them know you’re there, and you have something that can answer their needs. That involves getting people’s attention – spreading information about your possession of something — a product and-or a service –that can help the people in your particular market.

For a business that physically services a particular community, it can mean posters, signage and flyers announcing your services, hours and rates.

For a business that’s virtual, it can mean using SEO and a targeted information campaign, as well as a well-designed website with an FAQ and a communication set-up that can process additional inquiries from people interested in your product.

Getting word of mouth around can be as simple as asking your readers or customers to forward your newsletter to people they think can use your services, or using social media to gather followers, or asking for ‘likes’ if they liked your post or article. Positioning your product on-line can take judicious SEO, while positioning yourself as a reliable expert in your field takes time and networking on the way to getting known.

Part of running a business is taking a professional approach to public relations from the ground up. Now, the following is a thinking exercise.Connect the dots and make your own story about the picture that comes out: Continue reading Answer Other People’s Problems To Solve Your Own