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.
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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.

19 Easy Ways To Make More Sales

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

5x 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 are obsessed with building a sustainable business model and investing in strategies to keep their customers happy and coming back for more, but it’s most often not the case.

I would like to challenge you this year to focus the bulk of your attention and resources on your existing customers and extending their Customer Lifetime Value (CLV).
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Be prepared to be amazed at how quickly your business grows when you actively

search for ways to serve your customers better and wowing their socks off.

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Existing customers already know, like and trust you that’s why they buy from you… but then after the sale most business owners give them NOTHING… not a thank-you card, a follow-up call or an email.

Worse, business owners also don’t bother following up months later to re-do services, offer replacements, upgrades or up-sells but you’ll never run be stuck in the feast-famine cycle again, if you build relationships through small consistent action over time.

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19 EASY WAYS TO MAKE MORE SALES AND WOW YOUR CUSTOMERS

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Let’s look at 2 real life examples to explain how easy it is to get it right… or wrong. 

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How to get it WRONG – a Pest Control company.

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We’ve used a pest control company 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 and I was a happy customer.

Instead, I had to call them in 2016 to organise another treatment. This time they sent out an inexperienced person to apply the treatment who started before all the doors and windows were closed and he was finished in just 15 minutes.

No one called afterwards to hear if I was happy or needed anything else. Two weeks after the treatment I still found new cobwebs and 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 and emails without reply, 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 complained about how tough the economy was.

Are you kidding me?! Of course times will be tough if you don’t deliver a quality service, don’t apologise for incompetent staff or the inconvenience caused and if you let customers chase you.

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HOW TO DO IT BETTER

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1. Deliver a quality product or service. This should go without saying but I feel compelled to remind business owners to ensure that they themselves, their staff and suppliers know how to deliver a quality product or service. 

2. Care about your customers
Call customers after a product was sold (if appropriate), or after a project or service has been completed for feedback and to iron out any potential issues. If you did a good job, you might even get a glowing testimonial to use in future marketing material.

3. If your type of product/ service needs replacement or upgrades e.g. software upgrades, water filter seal replacements, patio or pest treatments, schedule reminders to follow up with customers at regular intervals.

To do this, you can use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system that links to your calendar or simply schedule reminders straight into your calendar. Capsulecrm.com is a CRM system with a free option for up to 250 contacts and a small monthly fee for more contacts.

It integrates with MailChimp, a marketing automation tool that allows you to send out newsletters and bulk email your customers. MailChimp also has a free version.

4. If a customer complains, fix the problem! Do it as quickly as possible and offer them something for the inconvenience your company caused them e.g. discount voucher or a free product or sample, if applicable. Mostly, people just want to be heard and acknowledged. Use their feedback to train your team and to improve your processes and systems.

5. Make it as easy as possible for customers to get hold of you or someone who can help them to solve their problem. Don’t hide your contact details or force people to complete a contact form. If people can’t get hold of you, they take their business elsewhere.

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How to get it RIGHT – a 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 – 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 organise a mortgage in a new country, became hassle-free and dare I say… enjoyable?

6. After our business was completed, we received complimentary tickets in the post to the screening of a new movie which was a complete surprise to us and added an extra WOW-factor to her already outstanding service.

7. Thereafter we received the occasional postcard in the post

8. A personalised email on our birthdays

9. A simple email with interest rate updates whenever applicable

10. 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 businesses who bombard you with emails. (I once received 15 emails in 7 days from one company… WTF?!)

11. Let customers know when you expand your product range or services. When she let us know that she’s expanding her services to include real estate sales and property management, we welcomed the news and told our friends.

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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 when buying an investment property?

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You guessed it, and that is the power of nurturing existing customers over a 6-year period – be useful and provide VALUE.

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HOW DO SMART COMPANIES MAKE MORE SALES?

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12. Smart businesses like hair salons, beauty salons, spas, doctors, dentists, restaurants, coaches, consultants and many others all use appointment scheduling software to make it as easy as possible for customers to book appointments 24/7. Most software has a free version to get you going – have a look at 10to8.com, Calendly, SetMore etc. 

13. They also use text reminders 1-2 days before the appointment with the option to text back to confirm or to call them if you need to change the booking. This ensures that they’re nearly always fully booked and give them time to fill a spot if someone cancels.

14. Smart businesses also keep waiting lists of people to call in case of a cancellation 

15. Salons, spas, doctors etc. also tend to book the next appointment at the end of an appointmentThe business who treated our patio locked in a date to re-do the treatment 6 months later on the day they finished the job and the business who installed the water filter lock in a date to replace the water filters every 6 months.

16. Create maintenance packages or retainer services. Our gardening guy mows the lawn every 3 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 unless he employs a team of people! This is a quality problem to have in your business.

17. Up-sell and cross-sell your customers. My husband and I don’t have green fingers and after all the plants in the back yard died AGAIN, our gardening guy asked if we would like a quote to fix up the flower beds. Of course we said Yes.

After he planted new plants and installed reticulation, he suggested we added the maintenance of this area to our existing lawn mowing services. We were super grateful and now have a blossoming garden like our neighbours.

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YOUR TURN

TAKE 10 MIN TO BRAINSTORM IDEAS 
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It takes so little effort to keep existing customers happy and to stay light years ahead of your competition, take 10 minutes right now to brainstorm what you’ll focus on in the next 90 days.
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1. Call your existing customers that bring in 80% of the revenue once every 90 days to touch base and hear where they are at. (if applicable to your business)

2. Send existing customers a personalised email with a heartfelt message once every 90 days or at least on their birthdays (use marketing automation tools if you have a large database)

3. Map out the marketing activities you plan to do to stay top of mind at the beginning of each quarter. This will help you stay focused and be more organised. 

4. Send a handwritten note, postcard or inexpensive novel item to thank customers after a purchase.

5. Consider adding an inexpensive (and unexpected) item in the box of a physical product e.g. chocolate at the bottom of your Nespresso order, a material shoe bag for your leather shoes, toffees with your book order.

Start small and start today. Decide on ONE THING you’ll give attention to over the next 90 days.

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QUESTION:

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

Alicia-MenkveldAuthor: ALICIA MENKVELD  Creator of: BUSINESS CONFIDENCE ACADEMY Alicia Menkveld, an award-winning entrepreneur for the last 17 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. Streamline your business to support your lifestyle.

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

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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.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE

THINGS TO DO BEFORE YOU DIE

Before I Die I Want To

Are you fulfilling the hopes and dreams your younger self had for you?

What would you still like to do before you die?

As a teenager I dreamed about traveling the world as a flight attendant, meeting interesting people, doing business and having fun.

We all start out bright-eyed and bushy-tailed with big, big dreams. Anything seems possible and we believe in the magic of life.

Then society’s prescribed recipe for life kicks in – study, work, mortgage, marriage and having kids.

When you blink, you wake up in your 40’s or 50’s and wonder how you ended up here and if there’s still time to live the life you’ve always imagined.

“To live is the rarest thing in the world. Most people exist, that is all.”
~ OSCAR WILDE

I’m extremely blessed and grateful to have fulfilled a few dreams my younger self had for me:

  • I’ve traveled to 20+ countries and various cities (but not as a flight attendant)
  • I’ve met very interesting people along the way and a few became dear friends
  • I’ve lived on three continents to date
  • After a few false starts I’ve managed to find love and settle down in my late 30’s
  • I’ve set up successful businesses in South Africa + Australia
  • And I most certainly had some fun along the way.

However, there are still so many things I would like to do.

Over time I’ve compiled a list of 101 goals that I would like to achieve in my lifetime, an exercise I learned from Jack Canfield, famous co-author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul book series, and I revisit my list often to ensure it stays front of mind.

My 101 Goal List includes goals from all areas of life – personal, professional, emotional, wealth, health, social, contribution and spiritual. The aim of the list is to dream the seemingly “impossible” dream.

For the most part, I have no idea how I’ll achieve all my dreams but I believe that if you have the desire to do something, you also have everything you need to achieve it.

“If you believe in anything, believe in yourself and the power within you,
to realize your dreams.”

My goals + dreams are based on what matters most to me and range from mastering my mind + emotions, living a happy + harmonious life and having a fulfilled relationship, to a few more challenging ones.

I thought I’ll share a few of my big ones with you. Before I die I want to ___________________:

  • Travel the world more extensively
  • Impact the lives of six million people
  • Write a New York Times best seller
  • Spend time on Necker Island with Richard Branson + other change makers
  • Speak in a stadium of 50,000+ people.

It doesn’t matter if your dreams look different to mine. All that matters is that it’s something YOU want and it’s meaningful to YOU.

Now take a moment to think about the hopes and dreams
your 20-year old self had for you.

Write them down as you go and start your own 101 Goal List today.

Great Questions to Ask Yourself:

  • What dreams did you have for yourself?
  • Have you realized any of them?
  • Is it still something you would like to do?
  • What new dreams would you like to add to your list?

 

“You can get anything you want. It doesn’t take talent or luck to succeed, you just need to decide.”
~ MARIE FORLEO

 

Before I die… Walls

I thought I’ll quickly share the story behind the Before I die… walls with you, as I love the concept.

After losing someone she loved and experiencing deep depression, artist Candy Chang created an interactive wall on an abandoned house in her New Orleans neighborhood.

She created the wall with chalkboard paint and stenciled it with a grid saying, “Before I die I want to _______.” Anyone walking by could pick up a piece of chalk, reflect on their lives, and share their personal aspirations in public space.

Before I Die Wall - 2011, New Orleans, LA. Photo Credit: http://beforeidie.cc/

Before I Die Wall – 2011, New Orleans, LA. Photo Credit: http://beforeidie.cc/

 

It was an experiment and she didn’t know what to expect. By the next day, the wall was full of responses and it kept growing:

Before I die I want to… sing for millions, live my best life, own my own housesee my daughter graduate, abandon all insecurities, change the world with love + compassion, own a boat, learn French, be completely myself, explore the world, find my purpose, be famous, follow my childhood dream…

Photo Credit: http://beforeidie.cc/site/about/

Photo Credit: http://beforeidie.cc/site/about/

 

After posting a few photos online, the images spread and she received hundreds of messages from people who wanted to make a wall with their community.

She created a website with resources and now over 1,000 Before I Die walls have been created in over 35 languages and over 70 countries.

QUESTION:
What is one of the things you would like to do before you die? 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.

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.”  

.

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…
.

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).
.

This makes customers hopping mad

.
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.
.

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
    .
  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.

.

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.
.

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.
.

Can you blame any customer for making a scene at this point?

.
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.

.

#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.

GET IN TOUCH

P: 0425 177 897
E: alicia[at]aliciamenkveld.com

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