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20 5 Things You Know But Don’t Do Enough

I travel all around this world and speak to thousands and thousands of small business owners about the challenges of growing a business.

get more done

photo credit: magro_kr via photopin cc

If I had to sum all the problems and questions I hear into just two common threads I would say it is this – “I don’t make enough money” and “I don’t have enough time.”

Oh sure, stated other ways it might come out like, “how do I use social media?” or “what should I do about that pain in the rear customer?” but in the end, it’s mostly two things that business owners desire – more money and more control of their lives.

On a flight from Tampa to Tulsa (not really but I’m listening to a song from the Jayhawks by that title) I pondered the things that keep me from moving my business in the right direction, making more money and having more control and I was able to find a pattern that involved a handful of simple things that I know no one does enough.

Of course, none of the things on this list are going to shock you, but the reminder just might help you think about your own habits and routines and traps and, in doing so, rethink a few of the things you already know, but don’t do enough.

Say No enough

This is a tough one for me because I’m a people pleaser. Over the years, I’ve gotten talked into doing things I knew I shouldn’t or, worse still, couldn’t, because I feared saying no would shut off other opportunities. You know what shuts off future opportunities? – saying yes and doing a lousy or unfinished job.

People will respect you when you say no in the right way. Bob Burg’s latest work, Adversaries into Allies, has some great practical advice for this.

The key to saying no is to have a clear picture of what and why you do what you do. Understanding your true value and letting go of constantly considering what others think about you. I think that last point is why saying no causes so much stress for some. I read a great Wayne Dyer quote recently that is such a great reminder of this idea, “what others think about you is none of your business.

Say Yes enough

Okay, I know, I know, now I’m just being mean, but saying yes is not simply the flip side of saying no. Most of what we need to say yes to more often is the stuff that scares us.

In fact, think about that thing in your business right now that you don’t want to do, you fear could be too hard, too risky, too big – that’s what you need to say yes to. That resistance, as Stephen Pressfield calls it in the War of Art, is a big fat call to say yes and you need to charge in eyes wide open, like now!

Ask enough

This is something I struggled with early on as a business owner and I know it to be one of the greatest traps for most business owners – charging too little for what you do or remaining in the vise grip of hourly thinking.

Hourly thinking is rampant in pretty much any service business and it’s a bit like quicksand as it will suck you under faster than any other business dynamic. You can’t make more time, so you’re only option is to fill every minute and charge more by the hour.

As a business owner the value of what you are capable of delivering goes up with each passing day. As you build more experience, more audience, more wins and more results to draw from, your fifteen minutes of brilliance on behalf of a client is worth thousands – so why are you’re still giving it away like it’s oxygen?

Here are some of the things your mind is telling you – I’m not worth that much or if I don’t ask much, they won’t expect much or the worst, worst, worst of all – that’s all they will pay.

My friends at Freshbooks created a wonderful little free eBook on this topic called – Breaking the Time Barrier.

Here’s my advice – double your prices. Now, what would have to do, who would you have to become, what would you have to create and who would you need to start hanging out with to make that move work? That’s all there is to it.

Follow up enough

Back when I started my business, back before we officially had something we called social media, (yes, we somehow managed to have thriving businesses back then) I had a Friday habit that always paid off in a variety of ways.

Each Friday I would go through my Roledex (this is an 80’s reference) and pick out at least five people I had not spoken with or heard from in a few months. Then I would pick up the phone (when I still had one of those in my office) and try to connect. Even if I got voice mail I would leave a message stating I was just checking to see what was up. I continued this practice for years via email as well.

The thing that was always amazing was about 25% of those “reach outs” turned into a “I was just thinking about calling you, I need . . .” Now, I may have gotten that call sometime later, but I wonder.

Today I have a list of close relationships in Nimble CRM and settings that let me know when 30 days have passed since my last contact. We have to stay in touch with and nurture our networks with intention. It’s where the greatest opportunities lie.

Say thank you enough

I don’t think that it’s possible to say thank you enough, but it’s worth a try. (Click to Tweet)

My wife is such a great asset in my life (okay, for many, many reasons) as she holds me accountable for things like gratitude. It’s not that I ever mean to be ungrateful, but sometimes when you build things and do things that work in business you can fall into the trap of thinking you did it all yourself.

I know that I’ve worked my butt off the last few decades, but I owe whatever measure of success I’ve had to people who have both outwardly aided me and those many, many more whom I’ve never met that subscribe, share and promote my efforts.

You know this to be true as well, so make thank you a habit. Take gifts wherever you go. Publicly acknowledge the help you receive. And always remember what it felt like in the beginning before you were one of the cool kids.

3 The Most Potent Customer Experience of All

I was recently talking to a group of small business owners and marketers about the notion of creating a better customer experience and I asked members of the group to share what works for them.

thank your customersOne of the group members confided that while they do lots of things to wow their customers the most profitable thing they do is ask their CEO to write a hand written note of thanks to every customer’s CEO. Not only does this create buzz in throughout the organization it raises the profile of the sales and service people doing the work inside of these organizations.

Genuinely expressing gratitude is one of the best ways possible to create a positive customer experience and it’s such a simple thing to make part of who you are as an organization.

Recently the folks at HelpScout put together a fabulous free ebook with 25 great ways to thank your customers. Sometimes just a little creativity can spark tons of buzz and talk as so few organizations make saying thank you, you know that thing your mom probably taught you about the time you could walk, a part of their marketing follow-up.

We’ve partnered with HelpScout to bring you this important free resource – Go here and grab 25 Ways to Thank Your Customers today – you can thank me later!

Guide by Help Scout, the invisible help desk software for small businesses who care about customer service. Get more free Help Scout content by reading their customer loyalty blog.

1 Weekend Favs June One

My weekend blog post routine includes posting links to a handful of tools or great content I ran across during the week.

I don’t go into depth about the finds, but encourage you check them out if they sound interesting. The photo in the post is a favorite for the week from Flickr or one that I took out there on the road.

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My first computer!

Good stuff I found this week:

Red Pen – extremely simple way to get annotated feedback on any design.

Piwik – free, open source analytics software you run on your server. No more sharing your data with Google.

25 Ways to Thank Your Customers – free eBook from the folks at HelpScout with some nice ideas

15 How to Say Thank You

Last week I asked readers to share their stories of the best thank you they had ever received.

TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³ via Flickr

As expected, some of the stories were touching, but all demonstrated the power of a simple, often unexpected, show of appreciation.

It’s something that is easy to let slide in this always on, just send and email world, but the stories shared in this post should be a great reminder of the power of the words and acts of thanks.

I probably don’t thank you the readers of this publication enough, but rest assured I know how important your participation in things like this little project are.

I thought I would share five stories we chose from over 100 that were submitted. I hope you enjoy these then – I know we did. (Unfortunately we didn’t specifically ask for contact information, so if you see your story here, please contact us as we have a gift for you.)

Candi Forney
My Great Grandfather owned a fruit and vegetable store in a tiny town in Arkansas. Every Wednesday each summer he would close his store down and go to the houses near “the river” where the population was on the bottom end of the poverty scale. He was a brilliant business man and had made something out of nothing, but in this area of the county nothing is what the people had. He accepted payment via money, barter, good faith and a handshake.

Nearly 50 years later after he’d passed away and we had to put my Great-Grandmother in nursing care facility there was a nurse that was particularly amazing when it came to caring for my Great-Grandmother or any patient for that matter. As a family we decided to thank her for her kindness and wonderful care. She took our breath away when she said “No it’s my honor to say thank you..you’re Great Grandfather used to accept the crayola drawn pictures of a 5 year little girl as payment for those fruits and vegetables when that family had nothing. I was that little girl who drew those pictures. So no…thank you!” Amazing how the power of thank you can extend the tests of time…

Will Kelley
My “Thank You” came from a family that was grateful for our odor control services for a skunk under a porch. When we arrived onsite it quickly became apparent that this family could not afford our services, but I was overwhelmed with a call to action. We could NOT leave this family with their home smelling so putrid it gave you could stand inside for minutes at a time.

We ended up putting in our equipment at no cost, and two days later the smell was gone.

About a week after we picked up our equipment we received a letter from the family with personal pictures drawn by the children of the family expressing their gratitude. This gratitude touched my heart and reminded me that it’s not always about the dollar but rather serving those in need with the tools and talents we are blessed with.

Kimberly May
As an equine veterinarian, the harsh reality is that we can’t save all of our patients despite our best efforts. One of my most memorable patients, “Gracey,” was a foal (baby horse) with a broken leg. She wasn’t a purebred (and therefore not worth anything, in some horse owners’ opinions) and many people would have euthanized her because of the cost and intensity of the care she’d need, but her owners wanted to do everything they could to help her. We put a bone plate on the fractured bone and put her in a full-leg cast, and we spent much of the day helping her get up and down and around. She developed an infection in the leg, so her care became more intensive and expensive. The fracture healed, but the infection spread and caused the bone to be so weak that a different bone broke in the same leg. We were heartbroken, and we decided that the best thing for Gracey was to put her down. A few days later, Gracey’s people came by the clinic to drop off a homemade trophy that said “World’s Best Veterinarian” and a framed picture of Gracey.

That was 11 years ago, and Gracey’s picture still holds a place of honor in my office, despite several job changes. The trophy is on my bookshelf at home.

Bob McInnis
Our organisation,BB4CK, is fortunate to have thousands of volunteers helping us feed hungry kids. We try to be grateful and express our thanks for the assistance but I was blown away when I received a thank you card from a school teacher who had brought 12 junior high students to our facility for a morning of preparing nutritious lunches for other kids. She thanked me (us) for the powerful experience of making a difference that her students had received and for the generosity we had offered them in allowing them to come and make a difference. We are used to thanking our volunteers and being thanked by our recipient schools but to be thanked for allowing them to participate was amazing and unexpected.

Chris Horst
Once a year, my boss sends me a thoughtful handwritten note, sharing with clarity and specificity the reasons why she values my contributions to our team. It’s not sexy, nor is it costly (in hard costs, but the time she puts into it is certainly of high value), but the specificity and clarity with which she writes is something I deeply appreciate.

I am so thankful to know that my supervisor truly knows me, recognizes my work, and puts the time into thanking me with such care and thoughtfulness.

90 Let's Stop Being So Rude

jonycunha via Flickr

I have to admit this post is in response to something that happened last night and I’ll try not to rant too much.

In an effort to help a confused individual that requested our help via email (understand this was not a customer, just a weary traveler) we asked a couple clarifying questions to try to understand how we could help. What we received back was an insult filled rant about how we should apologize for not knowing what she wanted. Geez!

I’ve long since lost the temptation to respond to these kinds of oddities, but it did make me think how this real-time, I want it now, and I want it now free online culture we’ve developed is eroding basic manners.

To put a spotlight back on the art of appreciation for the gifts we all give and receive I’m going to run a little giveaway with the help of American Express Recognize and Reward Sweepstakes at ForEverythingYouDo.com (AMEX OPEN is a client)

I’m going to giveaway five $50 American Express Gift Cards to five people that leave the best comment to this challenge:

What’s the most over the top “thank you” you’ve ever received from a boss, employee, colleague, customer, supplier, friend, you name it.

And please, let’s recapture our basic manners and stop being so hard on one another.

Administrative Professionals Day is April 27th and Supervisors, bosses and business-professionals can also express gratitude by nominating a standout administrative professional, colleague or peer from their LinkedIn Network into the American Express Recognize and Reward Sweepstakes at ForEverythingYouDo.com.