5 Steps To Improve Your Quoting Process

5-steps-to-improve-your-quoting-process

If your business is constantly hitting bottlenecks or dead ends when it comes to quoting, it’s time to look at your processes as it will save you daily frustration and hours of wasted time.

In previous posts we spoke about the difference between systems and processes and how to create business systems for a new product launch.

Leads, sales and customers can easily fall through the cracks if we don’t have the right processes and systems in place and your business won’t thrive.

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Business processes don’t happen by accident. It takes practice to get it right and they need constant tweaking. 

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INEFFICIENT BUSINESS PROCESSES WILL CAUSE…

  • Bottlenecks
  • Delays
  • Loss of sales
  • Duplication of work
  • Communication breakdowns
  • Dissatisfied customers and staff, and
  • Potential legal issues.

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“If you can’t describe what you are doing as a process, you don’t know what you’re doing.”

~ W. EDWARDS DEMING

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HOW QUOTING IS DONE IN MOST COMPANIES

Let’s say you have a web design, copywriting, photography, virtual assistant or any other services-based company.

You received a request in your inbox from a potential customer who are interested in your services. They want more information and a quote on a specific package.

You need to deal with the request and send out a quote to the customer.

This is an example of what the process flowchart for quoting can look like. Yours can be different as every business operates differently.

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quoting-process-flowchart

OK let’s look at what happened here:

STEP #1 – WEBSITE

A customer browsed your website and a website form has been completed to start the request process.

There a 2 options:

  1. You have a generic “Contact Us” form on your website where you get a name, email, telephone number and a short generic message OR
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  2. You have a form that’s linked to a specific product/service on a specific page with a few additional questions in a drop down box, so you can get the best possible information to prepare a quote with, without having to contact them first.
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STEP #2 – PEOPLE

The enquiry is received via email by yourself or a staff member while you’re busy dealing with other important things. A note is made to deal with it later or it’s simply left in the inbox to come back to it later.

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STEP #3 – POSSIBLE PROBLEMS

  1. The day stays busy and no one deals with the request till the next day or late that night.
  2. If more than 1 person is involved in the process, Person A can assume Person B is dealing with it (or visa versa) and no one deals with it.
  3. Both people involved in the process deal with the request and try to contact the potential customer/ lead.
  4. The request is remembered, but when the potential customer/ lead is called, they are not available so a voicemail is left.

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STEP #4 – POSSIBLE OUTCOMES

  1. The potential customer/ lead has found another supplier by the time you get back to them.
  2. Nothing is done as everyone assumes the other person dealt with it and now a lead and possible sale is lost OR
  3. Both contacts deal with the request and confuse the potential customer/ lead, especially if the message or pricing differs.
  4. Telephone tag is played for several hours or days until you speak to each other OR
  5. You phone and get hold of the potential customer/ lead, you discuss their needs and promise a quote (with or without a timeframe).

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STEP #5 – QUOTE = MONEY IN THE BANK, RIGHT?

  1. A quote is prepared.
  2. The quote is sent to the potential customer/ lead within 1-2 days from the first time the request has been received.
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2 POSSIBLE OUTCOMES:

  1. You never hear back from the potential customer/ lead.
  2. The quote is accepted.

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IF YOU DON’T HEAR BACK, 2 THINGS CAN HAPPEN:

  1. Nothing happens – you don’t hear back AND you don’t follow up because you’re too busy or you forget OR
  2. You don’t hear back and you DO follow up.

In the second option, you get another opportunity to answer any questions or objections, make a sale or at the very least you’ll learn why they didn’t accept your quote so you can improve your product or service.

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STEP #6 – OPERATIONS

IF the quote has been accepted, the following will happen:

  1. Create an account or invoice depending on your business model
  2. Check availability for services and timelines for the requested products from your inventory and communicate any issues
  3. Prepare the order
  4. Deliver the order
  5. Issue the final invoice (if applicable)
  6. Follow up on payment if it’s not received within terms stated.

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This is where the process stops for most businesses. Be smart and make more money than your competition.

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5 STEPS TO IMPROVE A YOUR QUOTING PROCESS

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At least this company HAS a process, so that’s a great start!

However, you can clearly see all the inefficiencies in their quoting process like the bottlenecks, delays, potential loss of sales, duplication of work, potential for communications breakdowns and disappointed customers.

So let’s look at how you can improve your quoting process:

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STEP #1 – WEBSITE
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Ensure:

  1. The form is linked to a specific Quotes Page VS a generic form on the Contact Us Page. Get a name, email and telephone number at a bare minimum.
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  2. You get as much specific information about their needs as possible e.g. which products/services they’re interested in, quantity required, by when it’s need it, budget available and anything else relevant to your business.

Give a preliminary estimation from the info they provided, if possible.

Use the information they provided to be better prepared for the call, by having the right product/service info and pricing available when speaking to the potential customer/ lead.

Include any suggestions of other products your business offers that the potential customer/ lead might need. Think about Amazon’s suggestions “You might also like…”. 

Great questions to include in your website form:

“Where did you hear about us?”

“When is a good time for us to call you?” or have an online calendar link where they can book themselves in for a call with you.

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STEP #2 + #3 – PEOPLE + PROBLEMS
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  1. Create an automated email reply to the enquiry form to notify the customer that the enquiry has been received and give them an indication of when they can expect to hear back from you.
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  2. If you are the only person dealing with enquiries, set up your email so that all enquiries go directly to a dedicated folder in your inbox. Plan your day to ensure you check this folder at least 3 times a day and have time to deal with enquiries.
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  3. If there are more than one person dealing with enquiries use a system that can track who dealt with the enquiry and when it happened, to avoid any duplication. Set it up that if one team member cannot reply within a set time, then the enquiry will be passed on to the next available team member who can respond.
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  4. Voicemail – Call but don’t leave messages as they can be can be lost or missed. Instead set a reminder and call back again in 10-20 mins or in the dedicated times you planned for. Never leave it up to a customer to call you back.

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STEP #4 – POSSIBLE OUTCOMES
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  1. They already found another supplier: Improve your business’ response time immediately. Ask them politely to share with you the reason why they chose the other supplier. Use any information to improve your products/ services.
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  2. You got hold of them and speak to them about their needs: Really listen what they need instead of only trying to sell your stuff. Ask for any details that will help you serve them better e.g. their timelines, etc. Have they also considered XYZ and upsell them on any other items your business offers.
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  3. Quote: Get all the details needed to prepare the quote, say by when they can expect the quote and stick to that time.

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STEP #5 – QUOTE = MONEY, RIGHT?
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  1. Quote: Always try and send out the quote before the deadline you promised it by, as this sets the tone for the relationship.
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  2. Follow-up: Always follow up! Contact the potential customer/ lead the day after the quote was sent to confirm it has been received (emails get lost in junk folders). If they have time to talk, ask if they have any questions or need more information on the products/services, pricing or timelines. Then close the sale.
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  3. They aren’t interested: Be brave and ask why not, in a friendly, non-threatening way. What can you do better next time to win their business?
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  4. Regardless of the outcome, ask their permission to add them to your mailing list for future promotions, announcements of new products/ services or events as it can lead to future sales. If they’ve had a pleasant experience with you there is no reason why they should object.

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STEP #6 – OPERATIONS
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  1. Create Account/ Invoice: If you often have to chase payments start invoicing 50% upfront before any further work is done and then 50% before delivery.
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  2. Communicate often. Whether there are problems or not, keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis and let them know how their order or project progresses, what the next step in the process is and manage their expectations. People are far more understanding of delays or mishaps if you’ve been in touch throughout the process.
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  3. Orders: Always try and deliver the order before the promised deadline as it’s bound to wow your customer, lead to more sales + better Word-of-Mouth (WOM) for your business. If you run into problems, see point #2 above.
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  4. AFTER CARE:* Most businesses don’t give their customers a second thought the moment the order has been delivered. This is your most important time to make an impression and stand out from the crowd.
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  5. Add all details to your database and set a follow-up date in the future 2-3 months from now to call them.

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*AFTER-CARE QUESTIONS TO ASK:

// Was everything as expected?

// Were they happy with the customer service?

// Any suggestions for improvement?

// How likely are they to recommend you to other?

// Who else do you know that you can refer me to?

// Will it be OK with you if I touch base in 2 months’ time?

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MOST IMPORTANTLY:

// Get their feedback over the phone and use it as a testimonial (with their permission). Record the feedback call and then get it transcribed. Then use the testimonial in your marketing material.

// Always ask for MORE BUSINESS – who else do they know that you can talk to and do they themselves need anything else?

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 YOUR TURN

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Create or refine your quoting process in your business.

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QUESTION:

Do you have a documented quoting process in your business? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Bad Business Habits (Part 2) Procrastination

bad-business-habits-procrastination.

We went into business to be our own boss, earn more money and have the lifestyle we only dreamed about while working for someone else. However, most business owners I speak to complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • always having a fire to fight
  • worrying where the next customer and dollar will come from
  • missing out on events and having very little to no free time.
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I find that it’s our bad business habits that get in the way of having a successful business and another bad habit is procrastination – a slow but lethal business and dream-killer.

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PROCRASTINATION 

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When it comes to bad business habits, not doing anything or consistently choosing to do the wrong tasks, are just as bad as chasing too many rabbits which was also covered in the bad business habits series.

When we procrastinate on the important but non-urgent tasks in our business, it’s normally because we’re afraid.

Deep down, we know the task will help us get more clients, make more money, set us free or help us to be seen, but:

  • we’re afraid of the consequences of taking the action – fear of failure and fear of success OR
  • we dislike doing the task or find it boring like accounting OR
  • we don’t know how to do the task, so we put it off.
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Whether we stay busy with the wrong things, do too many things at once or do nothing… the results are always the same. We’re left disappointed in ourselves for not reaching our goals, growing our business or starting to live our dream.
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“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” 

~ CHRISTOPHER PARKER

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Bad Business Habits (Part 2) Procrastination

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TRACK YOUR TRIGGERS

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Procrastination can be triggered by any task that scares you on some level e.g.

You may dread:

  • making follow-up calls to potential clients
  • calling a client when a problem arises
  • developing a new product or service
  • preparing quotes
  • doing marketing
  • making sales calls
  • reaching out for help…

So instead of doing the tasks that will grow your business, you do low-level tasks that keep you busy, but also stuck.

Start tracking what triggers your procrastination habits over the next week or month to look for patterns in your behaviour. Once you know this, you can start working on a solution.blog-image-key-ideas1

You can:

  • outsource the task
  • learn the skills needed to perform the task with confidence and ease e.g. enrolling in sales training or engaging a consultant to help you with a specific business area like marketing
  • get accountability to keep you on track – get a buddy or a business coach
  • face the underlying fears that keep you from doing the task e.g work on your mindset to address a fear of failure or success.
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Popular go-to procrastination habits are checking email, scrolling social media or having a meeting.

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KNOW YOUR EXCUSES

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Business owners justify their compulsive checking of email and social media feeds by saying “my customers need me”.

Yes, your customers do need you to…

  • communicate a problem on a project
  • communicate an extended deadline
  • send them the quote you said you’ll send ASAP
  • improve your customer service, and
  • improve your products or services.

Over the next 30 days, identify when and how you tend to procrastinate when you’re trying to do important work. Notice the excuses you use to justify your behaviour to yourself or to others.blog-image-key-ideas1

Remember, by not doing the important work in your business, you hurt your confidence and your business.

  • Note the tasks you struggle to get done
  • Pinpoint your go-to procrastination habits when you face these tasks
  • Come up with a few simple steps to help you overcome the urge to procrastinate
  • Schedule enough time to get the tasks done each day
  • Remove all temptations when you sit down to do the work e.g. turn off all notifications during this time.
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CLARIFYING QUESTIONS – ASK YOURSELF:

  • Which tasks do I regularly avoid doing on a daily/ weekly basis?
  • What is my go-to procrastination habit when I’m faced with a difficult task?
  • What steps will I put in place to curb this bad habit?

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QUESTION:
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What is your Top Tip for overcoming procrastination? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

3-easy-steps-to-plan-your-business-goals

 

Most small business owners complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • not being able to consistently reach their goals, and
  • constantly worrying where the next money and clients will come from.

This slowly kills the passion they have for their business and leave them doubting their ability to succeed in creating a lifestyle business. A main reason for this is…
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… the GAP between PLANNING our business goals and strategy, and what we DO on a daily basis.

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Recent studies in corporate companies have shown that up to two-thirds of decisions made in annual strategy sessions are never implemented! In my experience, the stats would be very similar for small businesses.

You see it’s easy to sit in a planning session (even only with yourself) and decide on the annual business goals to pursue but it’s 10X harder to execute on those business goals when you’re in the thick of things and:

  • taking customer calls
  • preparing quotes
  • answering emails
  • doing marketing
  • managing a team and many other things on a daily basis.
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We get distracted by every squeaky wheel in our business, instead of sticking to our plan.

So our biggest struggle is to link our yearly business goals and plans to what we do day-by-day and hour-by-hour in our business. Here are 3 easy steps to turn your business goals into successful completions.

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“Vision leads to proper planning and proper planning leads to successful completion.”

~ FARSHAD ASL (The ‘No Excuses’ Mindset Book)

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3 Easy Steps To Plan Your Business Goals

There is a difference between being effective and being efficient. When it comes to executing our plan we want to make sure that we’re as effective as possible.

This means being laser-focused on working on the right things in our business that will move us forward and make the biggest impact.

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THINK QUARTERLY

It’s crucial to know what success looks like for you. Effective business owners know what they want to achieve and then set business goals that will help them achieve their vision while taking the daily action to get there.

Let’s say you want to lose weight and you’re not clear on what you want to achieve… you could lose one kilogram and be successful because you lost weight or you could lose 10 kg and fail if you wanted to lose 20 kg.

It’s the same for your business goals e.g. let’s say you want to make an extra $50K this year, there are many ways to reach that goal.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Identify the 1-2 high-impact activities that bring in the most money in your business and that will get you to $50K the quickest

2. Commit to doubling or tripling the amount of time you spend on these 1-2 activities every week

3. Schedule non-negotiable blocks of time in your diary to work on these activities every day.
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EXAMPLE: PRODUCT LAUNCH
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One of Your Annual Business Goals:
Generate an extra $50K from an existing product/ service this year to a new client base.
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Quarterly Business Goals:
You identified one of your high-impact activities as a very profitable and time-efficient online program or physical product or service, and you decide to launch it in 3 months’ time. You estimate you can make an additional $20K from this activity this quarter.
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Example Main Activities: (not a comprehensive list)

// Research the new market to determine viability
// Adjust your marketing material to suit the market
// Create a marketing plan
// Market the product
// Launch the product

Estimate the amount of time needed to complete each activity and the people needed to complete the activities. Work it into the planning and set milestones to track progress along the way.

Use a software like Trello, Asana or any other project management and workflow software to lay out your project and assign activities to team members.
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Example Tasks: (not a comprehensive list)

// Create a survey for the new market, send out the survey + analyse the results
// Update website e.g. create a new landing page + shopping cart item
// Plan out social media posts, etc. etc.

Allocate time every day to work on the most important activities to move the project forward and work towards the set milestones. Schedule weekly progress check-ins with yourself + your team.
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There are many moving parts (activities + sub tasks) that need to be completed to achieve this quarterly goal.

That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused every day and to say No to any other distractions that come your way.

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PLAN WEEKLY
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Once you’re clear on your business goals and identified the 1-2 high-impact activities that will help you reach that goals, it’s time commit to doing these activities ‘no matter what’.

We’re all busy and life throws us curve balls all the time but unless we see these activities as non-negotiable, I can guarantee you that something else will come up to throw you off course, within a week if not days.

And that’s a hallmark of successful and effective people – their ability to be clear about their goals and their unwavering commitment to making it happen ‘no matter what’.

Let’s go back to our weight loss example:
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Would you be more motivated to lose weight in situation A or B?

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A. It would be nice to lose a few kilograms before I going to that wedding next month, or

B. The doctor just told you that unless you lose weight immediately you only have 6 months to live…

Of course your motivation will be higher in situation B, because your life literally depends on it.

And you’ll make time to exercise and eat healthy every day instead of making excuses like, “I didn’t have time today, I’ll do it tomorrow.
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Unfortunately we don’t always experience this drastic urgency in our business…

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That’s why it’s sometimes harder for business owners to move from making-a-living into a full lifestyle business.

Because as humans, unless we face a crisis, it can be a real challenge for us to only focus on the important activities while saying No to any other distractions that won’t help us to achieve our goals.

The only way you can ensure it will happen is by planning your weeks and scheduling it in your diary.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT

1. Be clear about what needs to get done this week to reach your quarterly business goals e.g. research the new market to determine viability
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2. Open your diary and schedule blocks of 1-2 hours of uninterrupted time every day of the next week to work on these activities e.g.

// create survey questions for the new market (1hr) – Me
// create the actual survey in Typeform or SurveyMonkey (30min) – John
// send out the survey (1hr) – John
>>> who will it be sent to?
>>> do you need to create a list of contacts?
>>> will you use ads to promote the survey?
>>> how + when will it be send?
// analyse the results (2hrs) – Me
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3. Estimate the time each activity will take you to complete. This is a great exercise, as we tend to underestimate how long things take us to do (see example in #2)
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4. Note the people needed to help you complete the tasks and remember to give them access to the project plans and calendars (see example in #2)
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5. Outline your success factors – how will you know if you’ve been successful by the end of the week? e.g.

// Week 1: survey has been created, tested and it’s ready to be send out
// Week 2: 50 people completed the survey successfully
// Week 3: all results have been analysed and a decision to either market the product to a new market or not, is made.
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ACT DAILY

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To act daily on what’s already been decided and planned for, is really the hardest part of everything.

It’s because it’s so easy to be distracted by a hundred little things every day. Studies have shown that on average, we’re interrupted every 3 minutes in the office! 

Between notifications pinging, emails coming in, a team member asking for help, phone calls and social media it’s no wonder that we’re busy all day without much to show for it by the end of a day.

My clients who started planning their weeks, reported feeling much more in control and more organised, but nearly all of them struggled for the first couple of weeks to stick to their blocks of uninterrupted time because of all the distractions.
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“Planning is easy. Execution is hard.”

~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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It takes courage and perseverance to stick to your plan every day.

Most of my clients reviewed and tweaked their plans several times before they found a routine that worked for them. Some started their day with a block of uninterrupted time, while others did a block between 11am-2pm or even later afternoon.

Your success in reaching your business goals depends on your ability to constantly review what worked and what hasn’t, and to be able to change direction quickly and daily if needed.
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WHAT TO DO NEXTblog-image-key-ideas1

At the end of each day take 5 min to review your day and ask yourself and/or your team:

1. How well did I stick to my plan today?

2. Which distractions kept me from working during my uninterrupted block(s) of time?

3. How can I minimise these distractions tomorrow?

4. How long did the actual tasks take vs. my estimations in the planning?

5. Did everyone involved in the activities performed up to standard? If not, what I can do to improve this?

6. Compared to the success factors for this activity, was I successful today?

Reviewing and tweaking as you move towards your business goals, is like a heat-seeking missile adjusting course while trying to lock in on its target.

The missile doesn’t stop trying until it found its target… and neither should you. Continue to review and tweak until you find a way that works well for you and your team.
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QUESTION:

Which part of sticking to your daily plan do you find most challenging? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 Ways To Be More Confident

What would you try or change in your life right now if you felt more confident?
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If you believed more in yourself and in your business, would you:
  • increase your prices or be more selective about the clients you work with?
  • speak at a networking event, make a video or publish an article?
  • expand your team or invest in a mentor?
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You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you stop to look fear in the face…. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

~ ELEANOR ROOSEVELT

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Alicia Menkveld recording videosIt took me about a year to pluck up the courage to record my first video from the first time I had the idea to make videos to engage with my audience.

It took me at least another six months before I actually posted one of those videos on Facebook. I wasn’t confident that they were good enough.

For some people it’s the easiest thing in the world to record and post videos. I break out in cold sweat and look like a deer caught in the headlights.
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And that’s the thing with confidence… it all depends on the activity we do and how often we’ve done that activity in the past.

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It’s different for every person – what’s easy for you, could be completely nerve-wracking for me. I find speaking in front of a live crowd easy, but I had to flex my confidence muscle when I recorded videos on green screen in a studio for the first time.

The videos were for the Business Confidence Academy, a 7-week program for business owners ready to streamline their business so it supports the lifestyle they want to live.
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When was the last time you did something for the first time?

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Confidence, like any other skill can be learned with practice, and it’s crucial to your success in both life and business.

The more you do something you think you cannot do, the more you build an unshakable belief in yourself and your abilities. And it gets easier over time to step out of your comfort zone and be more confident.
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3 Ways To Be More Confident
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ASK BETTER QUESTIONS 

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When we face our fears it’s easy to get lost in a vague paralysing fear that we can’t define, instead of being clear about what exactly could go wrong.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” you effectively do an informal risk assessment which forces your mind to come up with realistic scenarios of what could happen when you pursue the opportunity.

By getting a clear picture, we realise that our minds mostly let us chase ghosts that don’t exist, and we discover what’s really holding us back from taking the next step. Now we can plan for success and manage the risks.
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Case In Point: My Videos

I didn’t want to make videos because my monkey mind told me that:

  • I didn’t have anything interesting to say
  • No one will watch my videos
  • I don’t like how I look in videos
  • People will think my videos suck.

By asking: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I realised that the worst thing that could happen was that no one watched the video or liked it. There’s no risk in that!
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So why wasn’t I making the videos?

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By asking: “What’s so bad about that? I realised that my ego was afraid of being rejected and not liked, and it was afraid that people would laugh at my ‘bad’ video.

The role of the ego is to keep us safe, but that means that new situations with unknown outcomes are perceived as being dangerous. Sometimes situations are dangerous, but 9 times out of 10, there is nothing to fear but a slightly bruised ego.

In my case, none of my fears came true as many people watched and liked my videos, and even made nice comments! And the more videos I made, the more confident I became…

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BE CURIOUS AND LEARN

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Have you ever caught yourself starting something with great enthusiasm but when you hit road blocks, you start to doubt yourself?

It’s easy to get stuck in the Why-cycle:Why is this happening? Why is it so hard? Why always me?“. From there, it’s a short downward spiral to quitting the project and moving on to the next shiny object with renewed enthusiasm.

When you ask why-me-questions it’s an indicator that you find yourself in victim territory where confidence dies a quick death.
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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1

Instead of asking “Why“, rather ask:

  • What’s really going on? What’s the real problem?”
  • “Is there an opportunity for me to learn something from this situation?  
  • “What is the one thing I can do differently to change the situation and get the results I want?”

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This technique replaces our negative thoughts with solution-focused thinking and helps us realise that we are in control and that we can choose what to do next.

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MY VIDEO EXAMPLE:

With the questions above, I’ve identified that there were no detrimental risks involved in making a video and posting it to Facebook, except maybe a bruised ego.

The opportunity was to learn more about my insecurities and to learn a new skill (making videos). I was able to change my results because I chose to face my fears, record the videos and post them.

Asking what-questions put you back in the driver’s seat and boost your confidence because you know you have the ability to figure things out. It’s powerful to know that you can change the outcome of your situation to whatever you desire.

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alicia-menkveld-point-3a

 PRACTICE UNTIL YOU BECOME IT 

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Fake it till you make it” is one of the biggest confidence myths ever!

After studying highly successful people for several years, Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers  says that it roughly takes 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in any field. Mastery and confidence always go hand-in-hand.

There was a direct statistical relationship between the hours of practice and achievement of the people he studied. Especially when it comes to achieving big dreams like becoming a master pianist, a famous performer, TV presenter, a professional speaker or a successful business owner.

The study found that not even natural talent really played a role. There are no shortcuts or ‘naturals’ in life or business – only people who focus, put in the work, take risks and then ‘get lucky’.
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Maybe she was born with it… no it was NOT Maybelline! It was hard work, focus and not quitting!

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And that’s what I’ve done with videos in the studio.

I wrote scripts and rewrote them several times until I captured the essence of the message I wanted to get across. Then I practiced the scripts. Over and over and over for a few days.

I’ve learned so much from my experience in the studio. I realised that I’ll need to increase my practice time even more before the next video recordings to improve my delivery efficiency and presentation style, and to save money on fewer studio hire hours!

It’s also encouraging to know that even high profile speakers and TV personalities use scripts, and that they too practice a lot. So hopefully after 10,000 hours of practice, I’ll also sound as polished as Oprah in my videos.

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KEY IDEAS:blog-image-key-ideas1
  • Practice until what you want to master, comes as natural as breathing to you
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  • Use your imagination to practice scenarios before an actual event – e.g. an important meeting with a big client which you feel nervous about.
    • Plan the structure of the meeting and what needs to be said
    • See how well the meeting goes; see yourself smiling, feeling confident and listening to their needs
    • See how your solution can help them, and
    • See the signed contract on the table.
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  • Practice your pitch in front of the mirror, with a business partner or a colleague to iron out any kinks and make your vision a reality!
    .

To accomplish great things we must first dream, then visualize, then plan… believe… act!

~ ALFRED A. MONTAPERT

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QUESTION:

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What do YOU do to feel more confident when you face a new situation? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Business Performance Review

business-performance-review

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On a scale of 1-10*,  how happy are you with consistently reaching your business goals?

*1 = lowest, 10 = highest

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onefivesevennine

 

 

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More importantly, do you know what to change to improve your results by 1-2 points in the next 90 days?

You can choose at any time to do things differently and start hitting your goals for the quarter. You’ll achieve this through doing a business review which will give you clarity, help you with planning and then it’s about taking daily prioritised action.
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A Business Review is super important because it:

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  • Gives You Control + Peace of Mind
    A large percentage of business owners don’t have a clear picture of how well their business performs at any given time. What you don’t know about your business is a blind spot that keeps you from reaching your goals.
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    A business review look at the facts and will show you the level of efficiency the business is performing at and if you need to make any adjustments to reach your goals.
  • Helps You to Work ON Your Business
    We all get caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and that’s why you need a chance to lift your head, reconnect with your vision and see the bigger picture. It’s like zooming out on a Google Earth map.
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    Zooming out will give you a helicopter view of where you’re at, if you’re moving in the right direction + how far you have to go. Small tweaks on a consistent basis in all business areas are the key to success.

 

business-strategy-flow-diagram

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The aim of a business review is to perform a health check and take your business’ pulse as it is, right now.

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alicia-menkveld-point-1a

BUSINESS AUDIT + VISION REVIEW

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The first section of the review is about assessing your current situation, looking at your vision and deciding how you’ll get there.

Questions To Consider:

  • What’s your 3-year business vision?
  • What is your definition of success?
  • What are your 3-5 main main goals for this year?
  • What worked well for you over the last 6 months?
  • What needs to be improved?
  • What resources do you need to succeed? (staff, training, systems, equipment, cash flow)
    .

alicia-menkveld-point-2a

MARKETS + PRODUCTS REVIEW

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In this part of the review you’ll look at who you serve, what you offer and how profitable your products/ services are. Then you’ll look at how to improve your results over the next quarter.

Your marketing plan will outline your target markets, positioning, customer demographics, message, offering, marketing strategy + tactics.

Over the years, I’ve found very few business owners who have any marketing plan whatsoever and it’s key to your success.

Without a plan, you’re bound to fall prey to the bright shiny object syndrome, waste money on strategies that won’t work for your business and make other marketing mistakes.

  • How effectively are you matching your products/ services to your customer’s needs?
  • How effective is your marketing? (leads coming in + conversion rates)
  • List your best performing products/ services – what percentage of revenue are they responsible for?
  • Can low performing products/ services be improved or phased out?
  • Products/ services costs – direct costs, overheads, brainstorm ideas to lower costs, negotiate better deals with suppliers
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alicia-menkveld-point-3a

MONEY/ FINANCIAL REVIEW

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If you’re using accounting software like Xero, MYOB, Cashbook Complete or Quickbooks all your financial reports are in one place and it’s easy to print out or view them online. Or contact your bookkeeper for up-to-date information.

Business Numbers To Review:

  • Budget
  • Targets vs Actual Revenue generated
  • Costs/ Expenses – keep costs under constant review
  • Profit
  • Cash Flow
  • Borrowing – credit available, loans
  • Growth/ Investments
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alicia-menkveld-point-4a

BUSINESS OPERATIONS REVIEW

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Operating your business in a short-term reactive way costs you time and money in the longer run and isn’t sustainable when growing the business. A clear strategy will guide you in your overall decision making process and help you avoid costly mistakes.

Technology

  • In which areas of your business do you use computerised systems to be more efficient?
    (cloud applications for storage, remote back-ups, to work from anywhere + increase productivity)

 

Processes/ Systems

  • How do you manage repetitive tasks in the business?
  • Is your marketing + sales process documented?

If not, start the documentation process through outsourcing or record the process on your phone and send the audio file to be transcribed.

Continue to add instructions to the document every time you do the task, even if it’s one sentence at a time.

 

People

  • Do you have the right team (management, staff, suppliers, outside consultants) in place to achieve your goals?
  • Do you personally have the skills you need to succeed e.g. leadership, sales, IT, HR?
  • Are you clear on which tasks to delegate and outsource?

 

Productivity

  • Which tasks are most time consuming?
  • Which tasks generate the highest income?
  • What are the lowest income generating (but necessary) tasks in your business?
  • How productive are you (working only on high level activities) vs busy (working on tasks you’re not good at or where you can hire someone at $20 p/h to do the task)?
    .

Success is a few simple disciplines practiced every day;

while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day.

~ JIM ROHN

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QUESTION:
Which area of your business will you focus on most in the next quarter? Leave your comment below.
#smallbusinesssuccessskills

 

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION AT WORK

3-steps-to-effective-delegation

 

If you’re rushing every day to get it all done, falling behind on project deadlines and still have an ever-growing to-do list that keep you busy in the office till after dark…

… then it’s time for the D-word that let most business owners break out in cold sweat… DELEGATION!

The biggest problem I see with most business owners I work with is that we’re capable, resourceful control freaks who can do too many things well enough to get by…

It’s is a deadly combination for anyone trying to master delegation, because we’ll look at a task and think:

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This task will take me at least two to three times as long to explain it properly to someone else, so why not just do it myself? … and I bet the person won’t do nearly as good a job of it as I would!”

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And this type of thinking is exactly why most business owners work longer hours than they ever have in a job and they end up overwhelmed, frustrated, disillusioned and burnt out.

The ‘let me just do it myself’-mindset enslaves you to your business.

Delegation is one of the hardest things to master in your business but it’s also one of the most rewarding and freeing things you can do for yourself and your business, because it will help the business grow + keep you sane.

Mastering the art of delegation will free up your time and give you space to think, plan, implement and actually spend time on money-making activities instead of low level activities that keep you busy spinning your wheels + stuck in the weeds.

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“Deciding what NOT to do is as important as deciding what to do.”
~ JESSICA JACKLEY, CO-FOUNDER OF KIVA

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No one wakes up one morning and start recruiting or outsourcing tasks. Like most things in business, delegation and building a team are processes that take time to develop.

The delegation process involves various decisions, preparation + systems to work effectively before delegating your first task.

In this post, we’ll focus on the preparation needed for effective delegation.

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3 STEPS TO EFFECTIVE DELEGATION AT WORK

alicia-menkveld-point-1

TRACK + MEASURE

Do you know how you spend your time each day?

I’m NOT talking about the few things you schedule in your diary…

No, I’m talking about all the unaccounted hours where we’re really busy but can’t say what we’ve been busy with at the end of a day or week. Those hours that seem to slip away unnoticed and unaccounted for…

Unless we are super clear about what we spend our time on every day, we’ll won’t know which tasks can be delegated and who we need on our team of in-house and outsourced staff.

When you track your time, for at least a week but ideally a month, you’ll easily be able to spot your time wasters like a few ‘quick’ website fixes or ‘quickly’ designing graphics in Canva.

Perhaps for you it’s ‘quickly’ fixing your IT issues, doing all the marketing yourself or spending hours to find the ‘right’ image for your social media post?alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

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PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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Start today – track + document:

  • Every single task you do in your business for a few weeks including ‘quick’ fixes, meetings, training, planning, client work, etc.
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  • The time it takes you to complete each task from travel time, lunch time (or lack thereof), how long meetings + calls took, etc.
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  • Via paper, with an Excel spreadsheet or using a free online tool like Toggl. I explained the tracking exercise in detail, here.

Tracking how you spend your time will help you realize how effective you are in your business and whether the bulk of your time is spent on money-making activities or low-level, routine activities that could be automated or delegated.

Assuming you work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week with a revenue of about $100K per year, an hour of your time is worth at least $48 p/h.

Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $48p/h?

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If you’re spending a huge amount of hours searching for images, going to and fro to set up meeting times or returning phone calls and fix IT issues, it’s a sign that elimination, automation or delegation is needed in your business.

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KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK:

// Which tasks/ activities can I completely eliminate from my schedule?

// How can I automate routine tasks?

// What can I delegate?

That’s the order: Eliminate, Automate + only then do we Delegate.

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alicia-menkveld-point-2

DOCUMENT IT

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We certainly hope for the best, but what happens if the bus hits you on your way to work?

  • Can a team member or any other person walk in + run your business?
  • Are your business processes recorded?
  • Are your business systems clear + easy enough for someone else to follow?

If you answered No to the above questions, it’s time to get things out of your head and onto paper before you can even begin to think about delegation.

Remember, not even the most capable or highest qualified consultant/ employee in the world can read your mind or be expected to do a good job without access to the right information!

That includes clear objectives, super clear instructions, recorded processes + the responsibilities and timelines for each task.

Most business owners are quick to complain about incompetent staff, and yes sometimes we get a bad egg, but in my experience a lack of clear instructions + a lack of systems and/or processes account for up to 80% of project misunderstandings and work that business owners feel are ‘not up to standard’.

Yes it will take a few months to set everything up + train people to do the tasks correctly, but the reward is your freedom… to grow the business, to take a holiday or to spend more time with your partner, your kids or causes close to your heart.

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EFFECTIVE DELEGATION IS ABOUT:
  • being clear about the task + what the end result looks like for you
  • documenting the way you want the task done and specifying the templates or tools to be used to do the task
  • effectively communicating your expectations + giving clear instructions to the person who will do the task
  • being available to help where it’s needed and to make time to review the work + give feedback.

.alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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  • If you come across an undocumented process in your business, start today!
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  • Open a Word document, name it + write down the first few steps of the process
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  • Schedule a deadline to complete the document if it’s only you in the business OR flesh out the details every time you do the task until it’s complete
    .
  • If you have a team, nominate the person responsible for completing the document + set a deadline
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  • As the business owner or manager, schedule a date in your diary to review + tweak the document.

For a detailed blog post about creating business systems, click here.

.alicia-menkveld-point-3

 PEOPLE + TECHNOLOGY

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Now that we know what to delegate and we’ve put processes + systems in place to assist the delegation process, we can finally look at who we need on our team + what technology we can use to manage our projects better and streamline our communication with the people involved.

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PEOPLE

Your people needs will largely depend on your  business needs, the stage your business is in + the longer term vision you have for the business.

When tracking your tasks you possibly noticed several hours wasted on trying to fix a website problem or creating a graphic for your social media. Perhaps you noticed that you never get time to do any marketing or planning.

If the time waster you noticed is something that cannot be eliminated or automated, it’s time for delegation.

You can:

  • hire an employee
  • outsource work to an independent contractor like a consultant or virtual assistant
  • or you can use a combination of both options for different types of work.

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I like to use different experts for specific things in my business e.g. Facebook Ads or Bookkeeping, and I want to be location independent, so I only use independent contractors in my business.

I always outsource to my weaknesses or dislikes:

  • I don’t like bookkeeping, so I outsource it
  • I’m not great at doing my taxes, so I have an accountant
  • I can spend hours wondering what to post on social media, so I outsource it
  • I cannot design logos, so I get a graphic designer
  • I dislike cleaning but love a clean organized home, so I get a cleaning company to do it for me.

If you’re not sure, remember to ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now, making me money and worth $XXp/h?” (whatever you earn per hour). If the answer is No, it’s time to delegate.

Although none of the people I mentioned above work exclusively for me, I still refer to them as ‘my team’ because they know my business, perform tasks the way I do it in my business and add tremendous value to me and my business.

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TECHNOLOGY

Technology will greatly simplify the delegation process and help to streamline communication between team members.

These days, technology can be used for nearly everything from file sharing, online appointment scheduling, project management and online training platforms to bookkeeping, invoicing and databases or CRMs (Customer Relationship Management Systems).

Technology will assure that each team member, whether in-house or remotely, has access to the same information in real time.

Here’s only a handful of example options of online software:

  • Accounting Software like Xero / MYOB
  • File Sharing like Dropbox / Google Drive
  • Appointment Scheduling like Acuity Scheduling / Appoint.ly / 10to8.com
  • Project Management like Asana
  • CRMs like Insightly / Capsule CRM / Zoho / Infusionsoft

Technology will drastically improve clear, consistent communication, effective delegation + help you build a team culture of collaboration and open sharing of information, even if team members are in different locations.

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alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

PREPARATION FOR EFFECTIVE DELEGATION

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  • Analyze the time + task tracking exercise to see in which areas of your business you need delegation right now
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  • Work out if you need in-house staff or independent contractors
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  • Get clear on the tasks to delegate or outsource that will deliver the highest ROI (return on investment) in the next 3 months
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  • Choose the technology options that are right for your business to help you manage your tasks + teams effectively.

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QUESTION:

Which three tasks will you delegate first if you had someone ready to take them over right now? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

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GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

Business Systems in Practice

business-systems-in-practice

 

Without systems and processes you’ll work longer hours than is necessary and won’t be able to take a holiday lest your empire crumbles.

You’ll have weekly team meetings but still spend a huge amount of time explaining things, discussing issues that keep cropping up and solving problems that could have been prevented.

In short, without systems and processes you’ll feel as if your business runs you and not the other way around.

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“A good system shortens the road to the goal.”  ~ ORISON SWETT MARDEN

(1850 – 1924: American Author)

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I wrote a full post about the difference between a system and a process here. Effective business systems and processes are the backbone of a successful company.

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Business Systems in Practice
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alicia-menkveld-point-1a

THE EXAMPLE

organic-skincareYou run a skincare brand that boasts organic ingredients.

The final products are assembled in-house.

Some ingredients are sourced overseas and labeling is produced by another vendor.

You have a new product you want to get to the market by a specific date.

Which systems and processes do you need to ensure your launch will go according to plan?

Think about the actions needed in each system, sub-system or process to reach the end goal.

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alicia-menkveld-point-2a

BUSINESS SYSTEMS EXPLAINED

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To achieve the goal of getting a skincare product ready for the market you’ll need all the core business systems and processes.

From a Marketing System, an eCommerce System to take payment to Admin Systems, Operations, Supply Chain Management Systems, etc.

In this explanation we’ll do a BRIEF OVERVIEW of the systems and processes needed to launch a new skincare product and it’s not intended to be a complete list. All the systems and processes needed will comprise of several detailed documents and checklists, which cannot be covered in a single blog post.

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STEP 1: PLANNING + COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEMS
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From a planning perspective you’ll take your planned delivery date and work backwards to identify by which date your orders need to be placed, when products need to be created and shipped.

  • What information is needed, from whom + by when? e.g. vendors + shipping companies
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  • Brainstorm possible issues or delays with your team and put measures in place to minimise the risks
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  • Agree and document the strategic plan, budget, roles + tasks, milestones, marketing, sales and delivery dates
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  • Consider your wholesalers’ timelines – they have to ship products they receive from you on to their own customers. Work these times into your overall timeline.
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Ask: What turnaround times are needed, if they need to repack + ship the products to their customers by an agreed date?

Share the documented processes with all parties involved e.g. staff, vendors + wholesalers via email, project management software or shared files in Dropbox or Google Drive to avoid confusion and delays.

Cloud-based project software systems like Trello or Asana are ideal to:

  • allocate tasks and job roles to various parties
  • keep track of all tasks, changes and deadlines in real time in one central location
  • schedule reminders and follow-ups, and
  • generally stay on top of the project.
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Unless you need specialised project management software, consider a low-cost options like Asana or Trello with free versions for small teams.

Keep all customer and supplier details in one central (ideally cloud-based) CRM system e.g. Capsule CRM where you can store up to 250 contacts for free.

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STEP 2: MANUFACTURING SYSTEMS
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POINTS TO CONSIDER:
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  • Forecasting (the number of units your customers will order)
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  • Timelines (your own and your customers’ timelines) in terms of ordering and shipping of individual ingredients
    (Consider the season, harvesting, packing, customs and shipping)
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  • Labeling requirements including printing and posting of labels
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  • Creating the products in-house within required timelines
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  • Picking*, packing and shipping to your customers
    (*This is getting your products from the shelf or warehouse ready for packing)
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Remember to have regular calls with vendors to check on progress and discuss any potential problems in the manufacturing process.

Continuously build strong relationships with vendors to ensure cooperation if you have delays and need help to stay on track.

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STEP 3: ORDERING SYSTEMS
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Ensure to order the correct quantities of everything needed (ingredients, labeling + packaging) to produce a finished product well in advance and account for delays in delivery.

Once orders have been placed with vendors, use some form of project software (Step 1) and weekly update meetings (online or in person) to review progress, resolve any issues and ensure everyone stays on track.

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STEP 4: MANUFACTURING/ ASSEMBLY PROCESS

On delivery, ensure that orders can be picked, packed and shipped to your customers as quickly and efficiently as possible.

This will ensure enough time to prepare sub-orders at the end of the chain and to minimize any losses if your product is perishable.

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STEP 5: PACKING AND QUALITY CONTROL

Put a process in place to do the picking and packing of the products before they are sent out.

Think like Amazon and ask – How will staff know…

  • which product to choose off the shelf for which order?
  • how to pack products correctly?
  • what a finished product should look like e.g. where labels go, etc.?
  • what a finished package should look like e.g. when is it ready to be shipped?
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Use checklists for quality control so anyone can do checks exactly as the manager or business owner would have done it themselves.

Create a process for faulty items and include guidelines to deal with it successfully.

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STEP 6: SHIPPING SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES

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Identify:

  • who is responsible
  • how many trips/ pick-ups are needed to ship all product
  • procedures for express shipping vs standard shipping
  • procedures to ensure tracking numbers reach customers or suppliers
  • procedures for lost packages, replacements and guarantees.

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At first glance it looks very complicated to set up the systems and processes for this product launch, and make no mistake, it WILL require thinking, planning, time and patience to set up and get it right…

However, the reward is a huge amount of value added to the business through smooth-running systems and processes that allow the business owner to spend time and energy on higher level money-making activities, like new deals or project collaborations.

Most importantly, once it’s done it will dramatically increase the overall effectiveness and efficiency of future launches while reducing frustrations, headaches and bottlenecks.

This will allow the business owner to step away from their business for a day or a month and still have a thriving business on their return which is priceless.

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In which business area will a new or reviewed system add the most value (time/ money), in the next 3 months? 

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Remember, as your business changes so will your systems change. Ideally all systems need to be reviewed at least twice a year if not quarterly. 

If it’s not working for anymore, it’s time for a change. This is a mantra I use for my life as well as my business!

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QUESTION:

Which system or process will make the biggest impact in your business right now? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

The Difference Between Systems and Processes

the-difference-between-systems-and-processes

Your business can have solid products + services, clear direction, great branding, strong leadership and dedicated staff, and yet if you miss this piece of the puzzle, time will be wasted and targets won’t be met.

I’m talking about systems and processes…. the glue that holds your business together.

Without systems and processes you’ll work longer hours than is necessary and won’t be able to take a holiday, lest your empire crumbles.

Without systems and processes, you’ll have weekly team meetings but still spend a huge amount of time explaining things, discussing issues that keep cropping up and solving problems that could have been prevented.

In short, without systems and processes you’ll feel as if your business runs you and not the other way around.

“It is not enough to do your best; you must know what to do, and then do your best.”
~ W. EDWARDS DEMING

(1900-1993: American professor, author + management consultant)

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THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES
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SYSTEMS help you run the business and is made up of several sub-systems, processes and technology.

In fact, your entire business is a system in itself with several core systems that help to make the business work.

Systems can be found in all business areas e.g.

  • Operations systems
  • Finance
  • Marketing
  • Sales
  • Customer Service
  • HR
  • Admin
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SOFTWARE SYSTEMS
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Are mostly, but not always, cloud-based computer programs used to perform a particular function e.g.:

  • Accounting: Xero, MYOB, QuickBooks
  • Admin: Dropbox for file storage + sharing
  • Marketing: Capsule, Infusionsoft, Aweber, MailChimp, Ontraport (Customer Relationship Management systems)
  • eCommerce: Paypal, Stripe, ConvertKit
  • Operations: e.g. SAP is an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system to help large businesses manage + control sales, delivery, operations, production and inventory.
    .

Think of business systems as the umbrella and business processes as the spokes that hold the umbrella up.

Most of the time you’re not even aware of the actions you take, until you need to explain it to a new employee or a business consultant like me coming in to assist the business.

A process is a series of steps or actions performed to achieve a particular goal and forms part of a larger system.

The steps are linked to each other, where each step affects the efficiency (success or failure) of the next step. The process can be manual or automated and should ideally be documented.

As a visual person, I find it very helpful to map out business processes as a workflow of steps e.g. the steps you follow when someone asks for a quote via your website.
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TYPES OF PROCESSES
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Like with systems we find processes in the areas of management, financial, sales, marketing, operations, product/service delivery, customer service, HR – basically in all areas of your business.

Here are only a few examples of business processes:

  • Financial e.g. the invoicing process or credit checking process
  • Operations/ Manufacturing e.g. a planning process, product assembly process or a quality assurance process
  • HR e.g. recruitment process, staff on-boarding process, complaint process, staff exit process, holiday/sick leave request
  • Marketing e.g. customer on-boarding process or follow-up process.
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BUSINESS SYSTEMS AND PROCESSES WILL HELP YOU:

  • troubleshoot day-to-day issues
  • streamline daily operations
  • increase efficiency
  • better evaluate client needs, and
  • on-board/ train new staff.
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FAMOUS EXAMPLE: AMAZON
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Famous brands like McDonalds, Amazon, Fedex, Apple, Microsoft, Virgin and Zappos come to mind as companies who make systems and processes look sexy.

Every second, thousands of customers are searching and ordering products on Amazon and depending on the product, delivery will be immediately (think Kindle or audio books) or within days.

All systems and processes need to be reliable, fast and secure e.g.:

  • Information Systems e.g. to collect, filter, process, create and distribute data
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  • Transaction Processing Systems e.g. 1-click purchasing system, secure payment system and a recommendation system
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  • Supply Chain Management Systems e.g. Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system with all customer information, automated communication systems like emails and an order fulfillment system.
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It’s clear from this example that effective business systems and processes are the backbone of a successful company.

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“94% of problems in business are systems-driven and only 6% are people-driven .”
~ W. EDWARDS DEMING

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Systems and processes become the framework for understanding how you run your business.

Once systems and processes have been outlined + documented, it shows everyone from staff members to stake holders how things are done in the business to get the desired results.

They also increase the value of your business immensely because your business can now finally run without you – nirvana for every entrepreneur on the planet.

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QUESTION:

Which system or process will make the biggest difference in your business right now? Leave your comment below.

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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

3 BARRIERS TO BEING PRODUCTIVE

3-barriers-to-being-productive

 

When you look at your calendar what do you see? I’m sure there are client calls and meetings, project deadlines, perhaps a team meeting, new inquiries to deal with and maybe a few supplier-related activities.

Do you see any dedicated blocks of time scheduled in for the important but non-urgent business activities like strategy, planning, marketing, sales, team training, product development, finance + admin?

It’s so easy to stay busy, fighting fires and ticking things off your to-do list but can you show any real accomplishment that added value to your business by the end of a day or even a week?

Busy work involves switching often between tasks and although it might feel as if you’re getting a lot done, research has shown the exact opposite.

In fact, a study by Professor David Meyer from the University of Michigan’s Brain Cognition and Action Laboratory concluded that by switching tasks often we lose 40% or more of our productive time per day.

The reason we don’t get to the productive work isn’t because we’re not trying or because we don’t have enough time, it boils down to a lack of planning, processes and a lack of discipline.

Let’s look at how we can overcome these three barriers to productivity.

3 BARRIERS TO BEING PRODUCTIVE
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POOR PLANNING + STRUCTURING OF DAYS
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Better planning and execution is key to being more productive and getting stuff done. I talk about quarterly and weekly planning and execution in more detail here.

Create blocks of 1-4 hours uninterrupted productive time every day to work on what matters.

These various blocks of uninterrupted time should ideally be allocated to the important drivers that will move your business forward, like:

  • client work
  • creative work
  • thinking time
  • planning + strategy
  • marketing + sales
  • staff time e.g. mentoring, progress catch-ups and training
  • admin e.g. finances, emails + phone calls.

By allocating dedicated time blocks for different activities, we won’t worry about missing things and we’d be less tempted to check things as they come in and stay in reactive mode.
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NO PROCESS TO STAY FOCUSED
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A process is simply a predefined way of doing something, it’s simple with easy-to-follow steps. You have a process for making tea or coffee, or putting the rubbish out.

Now it’s time to create a process to help you stay focused during your blocks of uninterrupted productive time when you work on activities that will move your business forward.

1. Schedule blocks of uninterrupted time

Schedule uninterrupted time in your diary every day and make it a non-negotiable appointment with yourself – see Point #1.
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2. Remove Bright Shiny Objects

  • Ensure you have everything you need before starting your uninterrupted productive time e.g. note pads, pens, reference guides, financials, client files, refreshments and set an egg timer/ phone alarm to track your time
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  • Turn off your phone, close all internet browsers and remove clutter that might distract you
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  • Let people in the office know how long you’ll be unavailable and appoint a person-in-charge to deal with emergencies
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  • Only have the document(s) you’re working on open in front of you. If you need to check something, make a note and do it after the dedicated time has ended.
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3. Be Smart

If you struggle to say no to temptations and notifications, try the SelfControl app on your computer that blocks distraction websites for a set period of time.
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4. Stop Worrying

  • Set-up a permanent email notification to let people know the times you check your email in a day e.g. 8am, 1pm and 4pm and when they can expect to hear back from you. It’s about setting expectations and communicating clearly.
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  • Provide an alternative way of contacting you in the email for real emergencies e.g. a mobile number or calling the office.
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When you respect your own time, other people tend to do the same.

Clients don’t have a problem with processes – they have a problem with their expectations not being met and vague communication.

Be clear at the start of a business relationship or new project about how things will work, agree deadlines upfront + provide regular status updates to stay productive and exceed your client’s expectations.
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 LACK OF DISCIPLINE
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Self-discipline is a learned behavior which requires practice and repetition. It’s like any learned skill e.g. confidence, learning a new language or playing the piano.

The right mindset and the discipline to keep a routine are two of the most important qualities needed for sustainable long term success in all aspects of life + business. They are also two of the hardest things to master.

When we try something new and fail, we tend to beat ourselves up about it. This makes us feel crappy about ourselves and what we’re capable of doing, which in turn could lead to more failure.

Here are a few ideas to help you when establishing new routines.
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1. Acknowledge That It Will Take Time

Change is not easy because our brains love operating on auto-pilot.
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Be prepared and know that it will take time for new habits to ‘feel right’ and become natural. Help yourself by creating a process to remove temptations + distractions – see Point #2.

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.2. Reward Yourself

Keep yourself motivated by scheduling rewards along the way e.g. plan ‘me-time’ into your weekly schedule and stick to it!
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Do something you love in that time e.g. a hobby, reading a book or sitting next to the river.

It’s your reward for working hard, making changes + building a great business.
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3. Forgive Yourself + Move Forward

There will be setbacks. Expect them, notice them + learn from them.

Ask: “What’s the learning opportunity in this?” 

Dissect the hiccup, forgive yourself (you’re still learning), tweak your plan and move on.
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Busyness is a disease that keeps us from working on the difficult-to-do but high-value activities in our business like planning, creating systems, building a team or doing marketing + sales.

Start saying Yes to being productive and focusing on activities that will move your business forward.
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QUESTION:
What do you do to overcome busyness and be more productive at work? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

5 STEPS TO SELL MORE TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS

5-steps-to-sell-more-to-existing-customers

 

It astounds my clients when I show them how many sales and money they leave on the table from not servicing their existing customers effectively.

Most businesses are obsessed with getting new leads and pour all their marketing money into lead generation while they literally forget about their existing customers.

I’m sure you’ve heard that it’s easier to sell to an existing customer than to land a new one. In a recent study Gartner said:

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65% of a company’s business comes from existing customers, and it costs

five times as much to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one satisfied.”

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Some sources say the cost to attract new customers is anything between 3 – 30 times more expensive than the cost of keeping an existing customer, depending on the business + the industry you’re in.

One would think that business owners will be obsessed with building a sustainable business model and invest in strategies to keep their customers coming back for more, but it hardly ever happens.

I would like to challenge you this year to focus the bulk of your attention + resources on your existing customers.

Actively search for ways to extend your customers’ lifetime value (CLV) by serving them better and WOWing them, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly your business grows – mostly through good old fashioned word-of-mouth referrals.

Existing customers already know, like + trust you, that’s why they buy from you but then after the sale… most business owners give them NOTHING…

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Not a thank-you-for-buying, not a follow-up call or email, nothing to wow them… not even an up-sell!
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Most business owners don’t bother putting a reminder in their calendar to follow up 6-12 months later to re-do services, offer replacements or upgrades and most certainly don’t do any consistent monthly marketing.

Now I know that not every industry is geared to make a sale every 6-12 months from the same customer e.g. real estate but I’ll show you in my example below how a mortgage broker managed to keep me interested for the last 6 years!

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You will sell more if you build relationships with your customers through small, consistent action taken over time.

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It takes a little extra effort to keep existing customers happy and to stay light years ahead of your competition:

// one extra phone call every quarter

// a personalized email with a heartfelt message

// planning your marketing at the beginning of the quarter to stay top of mind

// sending a handwritten note, postcard or inexpensive novel item to thank customers for their purchase

// for physical products, consider adding an unexpected item e.g. mints or toffees in the box.

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EXAMPLE #1 – PEST CONTROL

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We used a pest control service in 2015 to remove spiders around the house. They said the treatment would last about 12 months, and it did.

The easiest sell in the world for them would have been to email or call me 10-11 months later and ask me if I wanted to re-do the treatment. The answer would have been yes because they did a great job before and I was a happy customer.

Instead, I had to call them in 2016 to organize another treatment. This time they sent out an inexperienced person to apply the treatment who started spraying the treatment before all the windows were closed and he was “done” in about 15 minutes.

No one called afterwards to hear if I was happy or needed anything else. Two weeks after the treatment it was clear that it wasn’t working as I daily found new cobwebs + spiders inside the house.

Then the huge struggle started to get hold of them to redo the service as it was still under warranty.

It was just before Christmas and after many phone calls + emails with no reaction, I decided to wait till I was back from holiday in January. In January the owner told me they’ve been bought out by a larger company and said how tough the economy was.

Times will be tough if you treat your customers like crap, don’t deliver a quality service and you don’t apologize for incompetent staff or the inconvenience caused.

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HOW TO DO IT BETTER

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1. After-care service
Call customers after a project/ service has been completed for feedback and (hopefully) get a glowing testimonial in the process to use in future marketing material.

2. If your product/ service needs replacements or upgrades e.g. hardware/ software/ treatments make a point of using a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that can schedule reminders and follow up on the due date.

Capsulecrm.com is such a system and it’s free for up to 250 contacts with only a small monthly fee thereafter. It also integrates with MailChimp, a free bulk emailing system.

3. If a customer complains, really listens to what they say + apologize!
Then go above and beyond to fix the problem as quickly as possible and offer something for the inconvenience your company caused them e.g. discount voucher or a free lower cost product. People mostly just want to be heard + acknowledged.

Use the feedback to train your team better and to improve your processes + systems.

4. Don’t make it ‘mission impossible’ for your customers to get hold of someone who can solve their problem. It makes them angry and lead them to complain to other people or on social media.

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EXAMPLE #2 – MORTGAGE BROKER

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We met a lovely broker in 2010 when we built a house in Perth, Western Australia. Nadija was so friendly and knowledgeable, and a real pleasure to work with – if she promised us an email tomorrow, we received it today.

What could have been a frustrating process to organize a mortgage in a new country, became hassle-free and dare I say… enjoyable?

After our business was completed, we’ve received complimentary tickets to the screening of a new movie in the post which was a complete surprise + added to the WOW-factor of her outstanding service.

Thereafter we received the occasional postcard in the post, an email on our birthdays, a simple email with interest rate updates when applicable and a quarterly newsletter with actual useful information (gasp!) for six years in a row.

Because her marketing was always well timed and useful, I never felt the need to unsubscribe from her newsletter, unlike many other newsletters who bombard you with emails. (I once received 20 emails in 2 weeks from one company… WTF?!)

When she called us to let us know that she’s expanding her services to include real estate sales + rentals, we were happy to hear it as we were looking at moving at the time.

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Do you think we recommend her to everyone who wants to buy or sell a house? Hell yes!

And who do you think is the only person we use to sell a house or buy an investment property? Yes, Nadija!

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That’s the power of nurturing existing customers over a 6-year period! Be useful, provide VALUE + don’t be annoying.

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HOW SMART COMPANIES DO BUSINESS

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My hair salon, beauty salon, spa and dentist all use text reminders 2 days before an appointment with the option to confirm or to call back if you need to change a booking. This ensures that they’re nearly always fully booked and give them time to fill a spot if someone cancels.

They keep waiting lists of people to call in case of a cancellation and they all tend to book the next appointment at the end of your existing appointment.

The business who treated our patio locked in a date to re-do the treatment in 6 months on the day they finished the job and the business who supplied the water filter will come back to replace the filters.

Our gardening company set up a standing lawn mowing arrangement for every 4 weeks, come rain or shine. We’ve now used him for 4 years and he’s so busy with existing client work that he doesn’t have capacity to take on new clients!

He was clever to approach us to fix up our back yard flower beds too as my husband and I don’t have green fingers. After he fixed it all up and installed reticulation, he now maintains that area too on a regular basis for an additional fee.

As you can see there are plenty opportunities to be fully booked or sold out if you choose to focus the bulk of your attention + marketing budget on your existing customers.

 

5 STEPS TO SELL MORE TO EXISTING CUSTOMERS

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HERE’S HOW TO GET GOING

Sit down and work through the following items to see how you can grow your business by nurturing your existing customers.

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1. List all the products/ services you offer + all the target markets you service, then ask:

// Which existing products/ services can you up-sell to existing customers e.g. gardener asking if he can fix up the back yard too?
// Which new products/ services can you develop quickly + cost effectively to offer to existing customers?
// Where can you bring in retainer agreements to lock customers in on a longer term basis?
// Can you lock in future replacements or upgrades at a lower rate when you finish the work the 1st time round?
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2. Define your value and how you’ll keep your customers’ attention over a 6-12 month period in your marketing plan.

3. List 3 low-cost ways to WOW your customers and surprise them.
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4. Map out your sales process. Read this blog post on how to create a sales process including an after-care process.

// Decide how (call/ email/ postcard) + how often you’ll communicate with customers after they purchased?
// Which system will you use to schedule follow-up reminders + who will be responsible for doing follow-ups?
// Document when in the process you’ll ask happy customers for referrals + how you’ll train staff to do the same.
// Document when + how you’ll ask customers for testimonials to use in future marketing material.
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For appointments + meetings:

// Which reminder system will you use to save yourself time + money?
// Can you do more meetings/ appointments online e.g. Zoom or Skype to save travel time + money?
// Can you keep a waiting list?
// Can you charge for last minute cancellations?
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5. Decide how you’ll reward word-of-mouth referrals + encourage repeat business from existing customers e.g.

// special discounts
// special offers not available to anyone else
// something free e.g. buy 10 coffees and get the 11th free.
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Once you worked out how much one hour of your time really costs you, you’ll quickly find ways to save time because saving time IS saving money.

Start small and start today. Decide on ONE THING you’ll give attention to over the next couple of days.

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QUESTION:

What will you focus on first to start selling more to your existing customers? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

3 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MARKETING RESULTS

3-ways-to-improve-your-marketing-results

 

On a scale of 1-10 (1 = lowest, 10 = highest), how happy are you with the results your marketing produced for you last year? If it’s anything below seven out of ten, do you know why your marketing wasn’t effective?

More importantly, do you know what to change this year to improve your results?

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At the start of a new year we all feel energized about the opportunities awaiting us and the dreams we will realize this year.

Sadly, no changes or improvements in our business + lives will happen without:

  • asking better questions
  • being more strategic about our decisions
  • doing proper planning, and
  • being disciplined enough to execute the plan
  • measuring results + making tweaks as we go.

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“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.”  
~ MORRIS CHANG (CEO of TSMC)

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Let’s look at how you can improve your results and make the most of your marketing this year without reinventing the wheel.

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3 WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR MARKETING RESULTS THIS YEAR

alicia-menkveld-point-1

KNOW WHAT WORKS

With a new year well under way, now is the time to dig into reassessing your business marketing strategy and really understand what worked well and what did not perform up to your standards in 2016.

The key to marketing success is:

  • knowing your customers + your business
  • using with tactics that deliver results
  • planning your marketing at least 90 days in advance, and
  • consistently execute + tweak the plan as you go.

However, working with business owners, I find that too many businesses try their hand at a new shining marketing tactic without stopping to get all the facts or ask how it will fit in with their existing strategy or their customers’ needs.

To make things worse, a lot of people choose marketing tactics using their ‘gut-feel’, they hardly ever track the results they get and they only try a tactic once or twice before letting it fall by the wayside.

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Be smart about your marketing this year. 

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Reviewing your results + numbers will lead to making educated decisions about where to spend your money this year, making more sales and not being seduced by the latest trends because you know your customers + your business.

.alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

MARKETING REVIEW

  • List all the marketing activities you’ve done in the past 6-12 months
  • Decide what worked well and list the reasons why it worked well
  • Decide what didn’t work well and list the reasons why it didn’t work well
  • Inspect the cost of every marketing campaign + the sales generated from it
  • Review your products + services, and marketing numbers – I wrote a post with questions to ask yourself here.

These exercises will give you fact-based insights into what to repeat or enhance in 2017 and highlight poor-performing products / services + tactics that need to be retired. This will be a powerful foundation to start from this year.

Then sit down and create a 90-day marketing plan, outlining your objectives + sales goals and write down a maximum of 1-3 key marketing tactics you’ll focus on for the next quarter.

Set up the measurement criteria when you do the planning and put systems in place to track your results in 90 days.

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alicia-menkveld-point-2

MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS A PRIORITY

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customer-the-hero-of-the-storyThis sounds so obvious but if you look at the poor customer service we receive daily, I think it’s important to note that without customers there is NO business!

So make your customer the hero of the story this year and see how your business thrives.

Start by mapping out the typical journey your customer will take + who they will interact with at every point, from the moment they hear about your business until a sale is made.

The journey after the sale will be a separate process.

Review who truly is the ideal customer for you to work with and think about the problems you solve for them.

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Every interaction or touch point with your customer is a marketing opportunity.

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If your receptionist isn’t professional or knowledgeable enough about the business, start with training.

If your website isn’t mobile friendly, easy to navigate or invite people to leave their details and ask for quote, start making changes there first.

Make reviewing your customer’s journey part of your 90-day marketing review to ensure continuous improvement + involve the people on the ground in your review process even if you deal with the process yourself on a daily basis. Two heads are always better than one.

.alicia-menkveld-point-3

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ELIMINATE. SYSTEMATIZE. AUTOMATE. DELEGATE.

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Businesses want to better engage with their customers but they find they don’t have time to do it all. This is a sign that elimination, automation and delegation is needed in your business.

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#1 ELIMINATE

The first step is to get rid of all recurring tasks currently being done in your business which does not help the business to function effectively.

This could include ineffective use of email, several phone calls to set up a client meeting or too many steps in a process.

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#2 SYSTEMATIZE

The second step is to document step-by-step how you currently handle tasks required for your business to function.

For a detailed blog post about creating business systems, click here.

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#3 AUTOMATE

Once you understand an entire process and know it can be automated, you can start thinking about tools or a machine to do the automation for you.

A common task businesses automate is social media using services like HootSuite to schedule updates ahead of time.

Using the right technology for your business to run your marketing and to reach your customers with a more personalized approach, is a great long term investment of time + money.

Core areas to consider automating this year could include your:

  • enquiries + quoting via your website
  • social media
  • email newsletters
  • customer follow-ups via an integrated systems like Infusionsoft.

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#4 DELEGATE

The reason delegation is last is because you should only delegate tasks that have documented procedures, and only those that could not be eliminated or automated.

When handing over certain tasks to employees or virtual assistants be prepared to take the time to train them on how to execute each task successfully.

I talk in more detail about the preparation you need to do before being able to delegate tasks effectively in this post, here.

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KEY QUESTIONS TO ASK:

// Which tasks/ activities can I completely eliminate from my marketing?

// Which new marketing systems will give me the highest ROI in my business over the next 3 months?

// Which 3 routine tasks I can automate in my business? What technology or tools will I use?

// Which 3 tasks can I start delegating right now?

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QUESTION:

Which of these three tips to improve your marketing results will you focus on first this year? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

3 REASONS WE DON’T REACH OUR GOALS

3-reasons-we-dont-reach-our-goals

 

Have you ever said in January, ‘This year will be different‘?

Let me guess: you said you’re going to lose weight and get fit, get organized, spend less money, work on your business and spend more time with your family.

I have… on many occasions. And sometimes three to six months down the track I couldn’t even remember which goal I was supposed to work on!

The reality is that you have good intentions for the week or day, but then you get to the office, the phone rings and…  

  • an angry customer didn’t receive their order
  • a team member misunderstood the priorities so a project deadline won’t be reached
  • a key supplier is off sick
  • a piece of equipment broke down or
  • a family emergency pops up.

Sounds familiar?

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On a scale of 1-10*, how happy are you with the progress you’ve made towards your business goals?

(*1=lowest, 10=highest)

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If you scored yourself a 5 or below, you’re not alone.

Studies in both Australia and the US have found that on average close to 60% of people have given up on the goals they set 6 months later. And only a mere 8% of us achieve our goals in a year.

Let’s look at the three main reasons why nearly 60% of people don’t reach their goals and what you can do differently so you don’t become a statistic.

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“What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as who you become by achieving your goals.”  
~ ZIG ZIGLAR

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3 REASONS WE DON’T REACH OUR GOALS

alicia-menkveld-point-1a

HAVING TOO MANY GOALS TO FOCUS ON

According to Finders’ research, one of the top reasons people don’t reach their goals is because they have too many goals.

In this diagram we can see the main categories of goals Australians set for themselves. At 54% the biggest category by far is Health + Fitness.

The problem is that in January we feel refreshed and make a large wish list for the year including extreme improvements in both our work and personal lives.

We underestimate the various everyday competing priorities we’ll have to deal with and overestimate our available time, energy and willpower in a day.

We also don’t put enough thought into planning exactly how we’ll make the goal a reality.

So we take on more than we can handle, feel despondent after the first month or so when we fail to keep up and quit before we even really got started.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT
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#1 KEEP FOCUSED
Choose one life goal and one business goal that will make the biggest impact in your life and business over the next 90 days while moving you closer to your annual goal.

Focus all your actions and resources on that area for a full quarter. Set specific milestones that will indicate progress and tweak the results as you go.
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#2 KEEP IT SIMPLE
Whether you’re looking to boost your fitness or grow your profits, look at small simple changes you can implement in your daily and weekly routine that can easily become habits over the next three months.

Small daily increments will quickly add up to big transformations.
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#3 DO YOUR HOMEWORK
Whether your goal is to save money towards a vacation, to refresh your brand, try out a new marketing tactic or simply to cut costs in your business, it’s important to take time to brainstorm ideas and compare products or services before making a final decision.

Hire a professional to look with fresh eyes at your situation and identify any gaps in your plan to ensure you don’t waste time or money on something that’s not right for your business.

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alicia-menkveld-point-2a

FORGETTING ABOUT THE GOAL

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It’s easy to be enthusiastic about our goals when we start out but everyday challenges quickly erode that inspiration and six months down the line 15% of people reported that they forgot about their goal.

The main reason is a lack of visibility and accountability, so experts recommend keeping your goals front of mind.

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WHAT TO DO NEXT
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#1 Keep your goal list in a prominent place like the fridge or bathroom mirror, or use a more visual representation like a vision board.

#2 Share your goals with friends, family and on social media. Research shows that those who keep their goals to themselves are 64% more likely to fail than people who share their goals.

There’s a saying, ‘It’s not official till it’s on Facebook‘, so start posting.

People like Anna Newell Jones even took it a step further by starting a blog to help her get out of debt. It took her 18 months to go from shopaholic to paying off all her debt.

If social media feels too daunting, consider a fitness group, running club, weight loss group, individual coaching or business groups as the group dynamic helps to keep you engaged, motivated, on track and accountable.

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NOT KEEPING TRACK OF YOUR PROGRESS

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Achieving our goals takes more than good intentions. You have to take action and systematically track your progress.

One quarter of goals are abandoned because people fail to track their ongoing progress. According to the Finders study this is the #1 reason why people aren’t reaching their goals.

Setting a goal and writing it down, significantly increases your chances of achieving a goal.

The best way to keep your momentum as you start hitting bumps in the road is to track your progress on paper or electronically.

It’s important to choose a method that works well with your personality and lifestyle.

The last thing you want is for your goal tracking method to become another distraction standing in the way of achieving your goals.

A trend is to use apps that serve as reminders, track your goals progress and habits, and record your wins consistently.

Goal setting apps include GoalsOnTrack (paid) and LifeTick (free + paid). Habit tracking apps include Strides (free) and HabitList.

It’s not easy to change behavior and to make your goals a reality.

If you fell of the wagon, acknowledge yourself for trying in the first place, dust yourself off and try once more.

Remember, goals can be set any time of the year not just in January, so never wait for a new week, a new month or a new year to start over. Do it today because life is too short to not be everything you can be every day!

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QUESTION:

Which of these three reasons is the main culprit standing in your way of achieving your goals? Leave your comment below.

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#audaciousbusiness

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

3 COMMUNICATION MISTAKES THAT ENRAGE YOUR CUSTOMERS

3-communication-mistakes-that-enrage-your-customers

 

How many times have you contacted a business for a quote and they didn’t get back to you?

Or you waited an hour at the doctor’s practice for your appointment? Or your supplier forgot to tell you that your order won’t be there on time.

Poor communication is one of the main reasons businesses and relationships fail.

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“Unmet expectations and poor communication will sink your business.”  
~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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HOW I WAS DRIVEN CRAZY

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I finally arrived just after 8am at the hotel in Singapore. I’d been travelling for 17 hours, my flight had been delayed and I was tired, hungry, grumpy and hot. Not my best combination…

All I wanted was a hot shower, a dark room and crisp white linen to take me off to dreamland for a few hours. I checked in…

Only to be told that the room I had specifically booked as an early check-in, wasn’t ready!

I patiently explained that when I confirmed an early check-in the day before with Michelle (I always ask for names), she assured me that it wouldn’t be a problem.

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“Why isn’t the room ready?” 

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The receptionist on duty clearly also wasn’t happy to be there that morning.

She gave me an incoherent excuse, a half-hearted apology and I was informed with a dismissive look that the room won’t be ready for another two hours.

I know myself when I’m hungry, tired and hot so I took a few deep breaths and decided to make the best of a worst situation.

It was my first time in Singapore, so I decided to explore the area and get a decent breakfast to shorten my wait.

Back at the hotel two hours later at 10am, I was informed that the room now won’t be ready till noon.

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I have to admit… I made a scene.  I demanded to see the manager (which I should have done in the first place) and a room magically became available 20 minutes later.

As I gathered my bags, I heard a nearby couple complain that their room wasn’t ready either and I saw at least two other groups of people hanging around in the lobby playing the waiting game.

It seemed that whoever put up the biggest fight got the next room.

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The message was loud and clear. Customers are NOT important in this hotel.”  

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Think about it… How would this experience make you feel?

// Would you use this hotel again?

// Would you recommend it to friends, family, colleagues or clients?

// Would you feel that this hotel took pride in their operations + valued their customers?

I think not…
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Businesses need to remember that customers have more choice than ever before and they’re not afraid to vote with their feet, their wallets or their social media reviews.

It’s a death knell to your business when you or your under-trained staff communicate poorly with your customers.

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THE MESSAGE IS CLEAR

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Whether it’s in person or via email, effective communication serves as the very bedrock of business.

It can sway public opinion, give teams a sense of purpose, persuade shareholders to invest and boost your project success rates.

According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession™ In-Depth Report: The Essential Role of Communications companies that communicate more effectively have more successful projects.

pmi-successful-communication-statsOf the companies that are considered to be highly effective communicators:

  • 80% met their original project goals
  • 71% delivered their projects on time and
  • 76% delivered their projects within budget.

The companies with poor communication skills trailed dismally behind, with only 52% meeting their goals.

Only 37% delivered on time while 48% delivered within budget.

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“1 in 5 projects are unsuccessful due to ineffective communications.”
~ PROJECT MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE, INC

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Bad communication has a domino effect that very few business owners consider when they choose not to update their customers in terms of timeline changes, delays or bottlenecks.

The long terms benefits of a happy, loyal customer will always outweigh the short term discomfort of having the uncomfortable conversation.

Your business’s livelihood depends on you and your team getting it right.

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3 COMMUNICATION MISTAKES THAT ENRAGE YOUR CUSTOMERS

alicia-menkveld-point-1

OVER PROMISE + UNDER-DELIVER

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SOLUTION:

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At the hotel in Singapore, I was promised an early check-in when I phoned the day before arrival.

Now perhaps Michelle (in the office) honestly thought that the room will be ready or maybe she felt too uncomfortable saying No while having me on the phone.

Either way, the promise was a room on arrival (over-promise on their side) and the reality was no room when I got there (under-deliver).
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This makes customers hopping mad

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It’s the same when starting a new project with a client.

Set out and agree project timelines and milestones with your client right at the start, and be realistic in your expectations of yourself and your suppliers.

Don’t be over ambitious as it’s best to deliver a project on time or even early, rather than letting it run over.

If there are any delays or bottlenecks communicate it early + often.

Here a mapped out business processes will help you save face and save you a great deal of frustration.

Manage your customers’ expectations by being open + clear about what can and can’t be done in certain time frames or what the situation is really like, rather than over promise and under-deliver.

They might be disappointed today but they will respect you + your business in the long run.

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alicia-menkveld-point-2

TREATING CUSTOMERS WITH DISDAIN

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SOLUTION:

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It leaves a bad taste in your customers’ mouths when they feel that they or their business is not important to you.

This goes back to business processes and good staff training especially for your front office staff.

Everyone has a bad day, but it should never be taken out on your customers.

The receptionist at the hotel was in a bad mood and that’s possibly because she had to deal with several angry customers before me who were also promised a room on arrival and then didn’t get one.
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The problem is two-fold:

  1. a promise by a back-office person who either doesn’t know the hotel procedures well, didn’t check the system correctly or simply can’t say no
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  2. insufficient training for the receptionist in how to effectively deal with customers and not having a process mapped out to follow when dealing with disgruntled customers.

But getting angry at the customers and treating them with disdain is NOT the answer.

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Business reviews + testimonials are the lifeblood of your business, and customers want to feel valued + respected before they’ll give a glowing business review or choose to remain loyal to a business.

Everything you do in your business from the amount of training you give staff to how well they can communicate or manage expectations have a huge impact on customer relationships and whether customers will sing your praises or not.

Show your customers that you take their needs and expectations seriously and appreciate their business from the get-go.

That way in the event that things go wrong (and they do tend to go wrong), you’ll have a strong foundation to work from.

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alicia-menkveld-point-3

NOT COMMUNICATING EFFECTIVELY OR OFTEN ENOUGH

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SOLUTION:

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At 8am I was told that the hotel room will be ready in two hours but when I went back at 10am, the goal posts have been moved again to noon. I’m sure you can see just how infuriating this will be for any customer.

Given that we started off on a bad foot you would think that the hotel would now do everything in their power to rectify the situation + try and wow the customer.

Well not this one!

The moment they realized that the room won’t be ready on time (the promise), they should have called me or sent me a text to communicate this.
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This would’ve given me two options

// I could carry on exploring the area (and cool down) or

// I could choose to go back to the hotel but my expectations were managed.

Instead they did nothing, which meant I got back to the hotel to be angered + disappointed again.
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Can you blame any customer for making a scene at this point?

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On client projects
, you might feel that you don’t want to send updates or clutter up inboxes before you have ‘good news to offer’ but in my experience when it comes to updates, customers always want more communication than less.

At the start of a project, schedule project milestones + regular updates so everyone knows what to expect.

The hardest part might be sticking those agreed updates when things fall behind or setbacks need to be communicated.

It’s also important to document any changes (good or bad) in writing and then follow it up with a phone call.

A paper trial can come in very handy when there are disputes about services and what has or hasn’t been delivered by when.

Friendly check-in calls every couple of months are also welcomed and will keep your front of mind.

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Effective communication instills trust, loyalty and respect.

It builds strong relationships between parties and shows that you value your customers and put them first, and we all know happy customers = better business, so make your customers happy.

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“Happy Customers = Better Business.”
~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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QUESTION:
What is your biggest pet peeve when it comes to bad business communication? Leave your comment below.

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#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

3 REASONS BUSY PEOPLE DON’T STOP.

 

3-reasons-busy-people-dont-stop

Don’t you just love being busy?

You might say No when I ask you and you might even complain about it, but you won’t fool me!

The reality is that you’ll freak out if the fairy godmother pitches up at your doorstep this very second to take your busyness away.

How can I be so sure? I’ve been an addict myself and still fall off the wagon often.

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We’re all addicted to the Cult of Being Busy!!

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Here’s why I say so.

We love being busy because it makes us feel in demand and important. It became some sort of delusional measure of success to the outside world, especially among (busy) business professionals.

Listen to what people around you say over the next few days… or make that hours!

  • “I’ve pulled an all-nighter to get this done.”
  • “You have time to sleep 6 hours a night?! I operate on 2-3 hours a night.” (chest puffed out)
  • “Hustle is what it’s all about baby!”
  • “Who have time to eat? There are so much to do.”
  • “Sleep when you’re dead.”
  • ” I don’t know how I’m going to get through this week with everything I have to do.”
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Apparently the more we have to do in as little time as possible, the more important we are.

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Instead of bragging about being efficient + planning ahead to be more productive, we brag about our chaos and firefighting skills instead.

Not you? Listen closely when your phone rings or when you get an invite via email.

If you hear yourself say, “Sure, I’ll be there.” or “I can do that.” (and it won’t bring in money or is critical to your business’ success) and your calendar is already bursting at its seams, it’s time to stop.

You have a case of FOMO (fear of missing out) on your hands.

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3 REASONS BUSY PEOPLE DON’T STOP

alicia-menkveld-point-1

YOUR EGO


It took me forever to learn this lesson and my ego still trips me up.

Deep down we all want to be wanted, like the Chris Isaak song “I Want You To Want Me”.

We like to feel important and included in events. We love being needed by others + we love to “save the day”.

That’s why we keep on saying Yes when we’re already overflowing with other commitments.

There’s a huge difference between your ego and being confident. The ego gives us an illusion of importance + superiority while confidence is about knowing your worth.

Confidence says: “I’m valuable.” while Ego says: “I’m invaluable.” ~ 99u.com


The ego is also responsible when we play the victim or when we easily get offended, but more about this in a future post.

SAY NO.

In the beginning, I felt like a junkie deprived of her next fix every time I said No to a meeting, a coffee or a networking event.

I thought the world would come to an end without me being there… and the surprising reality was, it didn’t!

I started asking myself 3 questions when I felt a case of FOMO coming on.

HOW TO CHANGE

CLARIFYING QUESTIONS:

#1 On a scale of 1-10*how much do I really want to do this thing?  (* 1 = lowest 10 = highest)

I realized that there were very few things that scored a 7 or above… interesting.

#2 How will this thing move me personally forward or move my business forward?
Is this the most important thing I can do for my business right now? How will it help me grow as a person?

#3 Will money be generated (within 1-3 months) as a result of saying Yes to this thing?

Unless the answers were crystal clear, I said No, no matter how awesome I thought it would be and how hard it was to say No + possibly disappoint people.

Remember, when we say Yes to something, we always say No to someone or something else.
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Who Gets The Short End of The Stick Every Time You Say Yes to Something?

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Are you saying No to your:

  • self by not booking “me-time” to look after your health, fitness, energy levels + mental well-being?
  • partner or family because you’re always on the go and never have time to be with them?
  • business by not giving yourself a chance to work on important, but not urgent, tasks like planning + marketing?
  • clients when you have to extend a deadline… again because you have too much on your plate?

An overflowing calendar has a cost, either to yourself, your clients, your family or your team. It’s your choice.

Being busy is like a rocking chair, it gives you something to do but it doesn’t get you anywhere.
~ ALICIA MENKVELD

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alicia-menkveld-point-2

GUILT + JOY


How many times have you dreamed about your holiday for months and when you get there, completely exhausted after you’ve done three weeks’ work in a week to ‘make up for the time you’ll be away’, you struggle to unwind or enjoy yourself?

I’ve been there many times myself.

We feel guilty when we take a much-deserved break. We feel guilty for stopping and wanting to do nothing. We feel lazy. And we feel most guilty when we start to enjoy doing nothing.

Normally this is after more than half your holiday is over and you finally dared to step away from your laptop!

“Joy is the most vulnerable emotion we experience, and if you cannot tolerate joy, you start dress rehearsing tragedy.” ~ Dr. BRENé BROWN


Have you ever thought,“This is too good to be true.” or “This can’t last.” just after you’ve realized how happy or loved you feel?

It’s called “foreboding joy” and Dr. Brené Brown explains it as anticipating bad things to happen when in reality nothing is wrong.

Brené is an American researcher + speaker who has done very interesting research on vulnerability and she wrote an amazing book, Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent and Lead  that certainly changed my life and millions of other people’s lives.

The truth is, a break allows us to revitalize ourselves, be more creative + be a lot more productive.

Alleviate guilt + enhance your joy by implementing processes and systems that allow your business to run while you’re away.

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alicia-menkveld-point-3

SCARED OF FACING FEARS


Are you keeping busy to avoid facing fears? When was the last time you sat by yourself for 30 minutes with nothing but your own thoughts?

I love spending time on my own… being, dreaming or thinking. But we all know people who would rather be thrown in a glass box filled with their biggest phobias than spend 15 minutes alone with themselves.

Constant busyness could be a way of validating our own worth, not dealing with unresolved feelings or not having to face difficult confrontations.

Reflection is the answer to be stronger and smarter in yourself + better in business.

Once we press pause we can:

  • gain insight + learn from the past by seeing the full impact of our decisions.
  • deal with messy feelings + difficult confrontations (not nice but necessary for a happy, fulfilled life)
  • see new possibilities because we look with fresh eyes.

alicia-menkveld-key-ideas

HOW TO CHANGE

  • Stop saying Yes to things that keep you busy + distracted.
  • Stop saying Yes to things that don’t add any value to your life or business.
  • Give yourself time to reflect + figure out what you’re running from.
  • Get help if you struggle to face feelings, issues + fears.
  • Schedule daily quiet time in your diary to improve productivity + problem solving.
  • Try yoga or go for a walk if you struggle to sit still and think.
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Nothing ever stops unless you make it stop.

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Embrace the sound of silence. A study from Duke University suggests that it’s your brain’s best productivity hack, will improve your memory and enhance your awareness – all essential qualities in business.

QUESTION:
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What have you done to break free from the ‘cult of busy’? Leave your comment below.
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#businessconfidence

 

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

5 WAYS TO GET MORE CONFIDENCE

5-ways-to-get-more-confidence

 

Have you ever failed at something in life or business? Perhaps you failed at securing an important contract for your business, maybe you didn’t get the job you interviewed for, perhaps your relationship failed or you ate junk food on the second day of your diet.

We all fail, every day at various things in life + business.

The problem isn’t the failure but the meaning we attach to the failure – regret, anger, disappointment, shame or frustration – and the consequence is a blow to our confidence.

You might think that you either have confidence or not, but it’s not true. All of us operate on a sliding scale of confidence depending on the activity we do.

If you do something you’ve done before, your confidence will be higher in that activity. When you try something new, your confidence will initially be lower and you might even feel terrified to do it.

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HERE’S MY STORY
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I wanted to start making videos for my business as part of my marketing plan…

It took me about a year to pluck up the courage to record my first video from the first time I thought about it. Then it took me at least another six months before I actually posted one of the videos I recorded on Facebook.

You see, I didn’t feel confident that they were “good enough” and I worried about not looking polished enough in the videos I shot while I was on holiday.

For some people it’s the easiest thing in the world to record and post their videos or do Facebook Live sessions. I break out in cold sweat and look like a deer caught in the headlights when I make videos.

Here’s a photo of me recording video on green screen for the first time.
Alicia Menkveld recording videos

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What would YOU attempt to do if you had more confidence?

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When we don’t feel very confident about ourselves we might wonder…

Can I really do this?”  orWho am I to dream this big?”

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You’re not alone. Whenever I speak with business leaders about their greatest struggles in business or life, confidence always comes up as an issue in various activities.

So how do the confident people we admire like Richard Branson or Oprah accomplish bigger and better feats than most people?

They consistently face their doubts and fears head on, they take risks and they put themselves through anxiety-provoking situations to stretch their comfort zone and grow their confidence.

Luckily, studies proved that confidence is a skill that can be learned and practiced like any other.

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HERE ARE 5 STRATEGIES TO HELP YOU GET MORE CONFIDENCE 

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First off you need to identify where in your life or business you need more confidence.

Ask: “Where am I holding myself back because of a lack of confidence?”  or  “What would I do if I had more confidence in this area?”
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alicia-menkveld-point-1

GET CLEAR

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Get clear about the outcome you would like to achieve and what’s at stake.

Outline the milestones, identify the people + resources you’ll need to achieve your goal.

Preparation is key and it will give you focus and ultimately the confidence to continue forward and win.

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alicia-menkveld-point-2

GET A GROWTH MINDSET

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Many people have created a false belief that they are just not good enough.

Whether you’re asking for someone’s business or asking someone on a date there’s always a chance you could be rejected.

If we don’t actively control our thoughts and the critical voices in our heads, we could say:

I’m so bad at sales, I’ll never make it.” or “What does it help to go on a date, my relationships always fail.”

Confident people take the risk of being rejected, they focus on how far they’ve come instead of judging themselves for not being further along and they are kinder to themselves when things don’t work out as planned.

Every day, they choose to focus on what they want to achieve because they know that where attention goes, energy flows.

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alicia-menkveld-point-3

GET INTO ACTION

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When you face what scares you most and stay the course, you’ll grow your skills and capabilities.

Most people wait to feel confident before they take action, but ironically it’s taking the action and getting through the experience, that gives you confidence and a belief in yourself that you can do it again.

Everyone wants to quit at some point but successful people never give up and the reward is confidence and a life and business most people only imagine.

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alicia-menkveld-point-4

GET SUPPORT

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Leaders might feel that they need to have all the answers or can’t admit a weakness or vulnerability.

Confident leaders know they need others to help them reach their goals and they’re not ashamed to ask for help or admit when they were wrong.

Getting the right support will keep you motivated, help you get better results, keep you accountable and help you stay clear and focused.

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alicia-menkveld-point-5

GET SUCCESSFUL

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The more often we try new things and succeed at it, the more confident we become in our ability to pursue bigger goals.

As we achieve our goals, it’s important to stop and celebrate our wins.

Confident people use the positive feelings and sense of pride they experience because of their win, to spur them on to reach new heights of success.

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Use these five strategies to get more confidence and start believing in yourself and your ability to turn your dreams into a reality.

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QUESTION:

Tell us about something you’ve achieved once you’ve improved your confidence? Leave your comment below.

 

#businessconfidence

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 16 years, loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to successful business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and effectiveness for individuals and teams. Design your business to live the life YOU want.

business-performance-scorecard-preview

ON A SCALE OF 1-10* HOW HAPPY ARE YOU WITH YOUR BUSINESS RESULTS?

(* 1 = lowest, 10 = highest)

Score your business against the 7 Signs of a High Performing Business to pinpoint problem areas.

Learn how to optimize your business to improve your revenue + results this quarter.

.

GRAB YOUR SCORECARD NOW.

Bad Business Habits (Part 1) Multi-Tasking

multi-tasking-is-killing-your-business.

We went into business to be our own boss, earn more money and have the lifestyle we only dreamed about while working for someone else. However, most business owners I speak to complain about:

  • working longer hours than they ever imagined
  • always having a fire to fight
  • worrying where the next customer and dollar will come from
  • missing out on events and having very little to no free time.
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I find that it’s our bad business habits that get in the way of having a successful business and one of these bad habits is multi-tasking – a huge business and productivity killer.
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CHASING TOO MANY RABBITS 

Does this sound familiar? You’re on a client call and it’s been going on for a while so you text your next appointment to let them know you might be 5 min late.

Then an email notification pops up so you decide to quickly check it that out before you need to wrap up this call and go….

But there’s silence on line… because the client is waiting for you to respond to their question. Oops! Has this or something similar ever happened to you… because it has certainly happened to me!

More frightening… studies have shown that people distracted by incoming emails or text messages (multi-tasking) have seen a 10-point drop in their IQ, which is more than twice the effect of smoking weed!

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“You can do two things at once, but you can’t focus effectively on two things at once.” 

~ GARY KELLER (Book: The ONE Thing)

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THE COST OF MULTI-TASKING TO YOUR BUSINESS
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The problem is, that by doing several things at once, we trick ourselves into thinking that we’re getting more done when in reality, study upon study has shown that our productivity decreases by at least 40% or more while we’re switching tasks.

That’s because we’re not actually multi-tasking – we are simply switching tasks – and while we’re shifting from one thing to another we lose time in the process.

After many studies, researchers have concluded that on average it takes 12 minutes before you get back into a state of flow once you stopped working on something. For more complex tasks, it can take up to 24 minutes to get back to your state of flow.

Let’s put this in perspective… if you switched tasks 5 times in an hour, and on average it takes 12 minutes to get back into a state of flow, you wouldn’t have done any productive work in that hour because you were multi-tasking! e.g.

  • you work on a client project (task 1)
  • an email notification catches your eye so you check your email (task 2)
  • while you’re doing that the phone rings, so you take the call (task 3)
  • you get back to answering that email (task 4)
  • you decide to get a coffee or check your social media before getting back into the client work (task 5)

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Poof! One hour of potential productive work gone… Can you business afford these distractions?

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HOW TO DO IT DIFFERENTLY

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As business owners, we’ll always be juggling various roles, tasks, projects, deadlines and ideas at the same time… perhaps it’s lots of client calls, employees interrupting you or maybe you have various client projects on the go.

But unless you find a better way to work, you’ll end another day, week or month disappointed with your results. 

You’ll wonder why you haven’t reached your goals and why there wasn’t any time for marketing or making more sales… again!

Luckily all isn’t lost! Here are a few ways to stop multi-tasking and be more productive.
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FOCUS

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Many business owners are stuck in their busyness instead of getting on with business.

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A lot of business owners aren’t very productive or highly leveraged in what they do in a day. If you want to reach your goals, stop multi-tasking and start focusing on the high-impact activities that will bring in money and create leverage in your business.
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NEXT STEPS
  1. Decide on the quarterly goal that will drive the biggest growth in your business
  2. Break the main quarterly goal down into monthly + weekly tasks and activities
  3. Schedule daily/ weekly progress check-ins with yourself and/or your team to ensure milestones are reached
  4. Say No to every invite, activity or distraction that won’t help you to achieve this goal
  5. Stop being reactive – do the work that will grow your business first before you do anything else – and stop multi-tasking.
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CLARIFYING QUESTIONS:blog-image-key-ideas1

  • Where is my biggest opportunity for growth right now?
  • What is my ONE main goal for this quarter?
  • Which activities can I do today and this week to help me achieve that ONE goal?
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e.g. a Product Launch

  • Annual Goal: A main goal could be to generate $50k from a new product this year
  • Quarterly Goal: Launch the product in 3 months’ time
  • Main Activities: Finish the product >> market the product >> launch the product
  • Tasks for the Month: Create Module 1 + 2, create a sales landing page + shopping cart, create ads, post on social media, etc.
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In this example, the main rabbit is to launch the product, but there are many moving parts (activities + tasks) that need to be completed for the launch to actually happen.

The example above is only a glimpse of what needs to be done for a product launch.

That’s why it’s crucial to stay focused, stop multi-tasking and say No to any other distractions like new marketing tactics or revamping your website while you’re working on catching that ONE rabbit.

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KNOW YOUR DISTRACTIONS

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Over the next 30 days
, identify when and how you tend to keep yourself busy and distracted when you’re trying to do important work.

Come up with a few simple steps you can take when you catch yourself being distracted or multi-taking, so you can quickly get back to the tasks that will make the biggest difference in your business and to your bottom line.

Work on developing your self-discipline and the habit of catching only one rabbit at a time. It’s not easy, as I know so well, but I promise you it will make a world of difference to your business!

You’ll stress less about missing deadlines and start making consistent income because you’ll focus weekly on income-producing activities and not only when you run out of business.

You’ll feel more organised and in control of your days, and you’ll make things happen in your business at a pace you’ve never experienced before – you’ll experience tremendous growth and satisfaction not only in your business but also in your life.

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Starve your distractions. Feed your Focus.

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QUESTION:
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What is your Top Tip for staying focused during the day on one task? Leave your comment below.
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#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

Avoid These 5 Common Marketing Mistakes

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[Article originally published in Business News]

The key to success is planning and consistency, so reassess your marketing strategy today to avoid these five common marketing mistakes that can stand in your way of success.

In general, business owners know they need to do marketing but it’s often coupled with urgency and no plan. In most cases, many marketing activities have been attempted but not on a consistent basis and results have not been tracked.

Enthusiasm without a plan will put any business at risk and result in thousands of dollars spent on marketing that doesn’t deliver results.

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NOT KNOWING YOUR POSITION 

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Knowledge really is power because you can’t improve what you haven’t measured.

Not taking stock of what you’ve done or knowing what results you got means you’re throwing darts in the dark. Start by knowing your position.
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WHAT TO DO NEXT:
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  • Make a list of all the marketing activities you’ve done in the past 6 months.
  • Decide what worked well and why it worked well.
  • Do the same for all the activities that didn’t work well.
  • Use your current results as a benchmark to judge future marketing performance against
  • Set realistic goals for the next quarter for each marketing activity.

With the right knowledge, smart decisions can be made and you won’t be caught off guard by the latest trends or bright shiny objects.
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NOT HAVING A MARKETING BUDGET

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Most business owners believe that creating a marketing budget is “too hard to do” and that it will limit you, so they don’t have one. The reality is that a budget will empower you and help you make smarter decisions.

If you’re clear on which marketing activities performed best and what needs to improve over the next 90 days, you can budget for the training and implementation needed to improve your results.

Allocate a percentage of the budget to activities according to its performance.

You’ll also be less prone to bright shiny object syndrome when you know what delivers results and you’ll know how much is available to spend in the next quarter.

Having a budget will give you peace of mind, lower your stress levels and keep the business on track to reach its goals.
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 NOT KNOWING YOUR TARGET MARKET 

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If you’re not super clear on who your target market is, what their biggest pain points are and where to find them, how will you be able to target them effectively with your marketing?

Get clear on the media your target market uses, both online and offline, and gain an understanding of when and how they search for businesses like yours.

A good way to get this information is by phoning existing clients and asking them a few questions or creating an online survey with SurveyMonkey* and posting it in Facebook Groups or directly to your email list. (*It’s a free online survey tool where you can create and publish surveys in minutes and view results graphically and in real time.)

By knowing your target market and where to find them, you can fine-tune your marketing message in a way that will really speak to your ideal customers and compel them to interact with your brand, products and services.
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 NOT REVIEWING YOUR MARKETING PLAN 

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A 90-day marketing plan encourages you to sit down and review your business and marketing numbers in a formal manner at least once a quarter.

This simple habit will put you streets ahead of the competition and anyone else who only think about doing marketing when the business dries up.

Reviewing the marketing plan with your team or an outside consultant will help you: blog-image-key-ideas1

  • be more effective in your business
  • focus your efforts to achieve specific goals
  • be more diligent about how you spend your marketing dollars
  • track the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns, and
  • create a road map of where to tweak and improve for the next quarter.

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NOT BEING CONSISTENT 

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Every marketing strategy has several key components that need to be executed successfully to ensure overall marketing success and reaching your sales goals.

Although this is a simple and logical concept, it seems to be human nature to get side tracked by everyday life in the execution of our strategies.

We tend to start with enthusiasm, a great idea and a plan but then before we know it, we find ourselves working on something else. We forget our aim and we lose our direction.

Stay consistent and on track this year by writing down your plan and using it as a blueprint for all your marketing activities.

Schedule time on a weekly basis to work ON your marketing, and use outside support and accountability like this business community to stay on track and combat procrastination.
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Small steps every day win the game, and marketing success is simply a collection of small steps.

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It’s never too late. Make a decision today to start spending time every day on marketing and other income-producing activities and you’ll achieve all the goals you set for yourself each quarter. It can be done.

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QUESTION:
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Which one of these marketing mistakes are tripping you up most often? Leave your comment below.
#smallbusinesssuccessskills

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld is an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 years who loves to travel and lived on three continents to date. She is an international speaker, author and a trusted adviser to small business owners and leaders. Alicia is an authority on business strategy, mindset and productivity for individuals and teams. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.