Archive for the 'Running a Strong & Efficient Business' Category

Weather Emergency? Tips on Running Your Business Offline

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I wrote this blog post years ago, when Hurricane Sandy was upon us, and updated it for Katrina, then Matthew and Harvey. Now we have a new one coming our way: Irma. So I figured this was the perfect time to re-post this!

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Our offices are right in the cross-hairs of Hurricane Sandy. Here are some tips for running your office “offline” in case you lose electric or access to the internet, from all my wonderful Facebook Friends!

 

Karyn Greenstreet First tip would be: Contact clients and students to tell them the office might be closed.

 

Suzanne Hiscock This is a preventative tip:  Don’t skimp on webhosting/servers if you have an online business.

 

Shannon Cherry Power up everything you can before hand. If you have my-fi, know how to use it. Power up meaning- fully charge!

 

Maureen Flatley Back up batteries, camp stove for coffee, battery operated lanterns, drinking water, lots of simple snacks…….this is our approach.

 

Suzanne Hiscock Another prepare ahead tip:  get a hand-crank phone charger.

 

Christine Clifton be aware of what you access ‘in the cloud’ and take steps to backup files/data on your hard drive/a toast drive – so you can work ‘offline’

 

Suzanne Hiscock Oh, and make backups of your entire site if your website is hosted in the storm’s path.

 

Karyn Greenstreet Print out important files, so you can work offline even if your computer isn’t available. Include all important email addresses and phone numbers.

 

Maureen Flatley Internet based email has been a godsend too.  We live on the water, north of Boston and have a lot of flooding and power outages.  You can’t plan for everything but there are some basics.  When we have lost power for more than 24 hours and couldn’t access our technology it reminded us that you can’t completely eschew paper records and that we lived for years w/ out email or texting.

 

Christine Clifton set an out of office message on your cell/email, letting people know what’s going on and you may be offline.

 

Maureen Flatley I put all of my important documents into email so I can access them from anywhere for any reason.  So if I’m in midstream w/ something – which I am today – I can get to it if I decamp to another location.

 

Karyn Greenstreet That reminds me, Maureen…I use Evernote for the same purpose. I have Evernote on everthing so that no matter where I am, and what machine I’m using, I have everything at my fingertips.

 

Donna Soffen take care of any (in this case) end of the month autoship changes or additions before you lose power. and contact anyone in your upline/downline that isnt in the storms potential path & ask them to help take care of any customers/new recruits that might enroll or purchase from your site that they can see from their backoffice- on your behalf.

 

Karyn Greenstreet Another tip: get a blank journal. If your power is out for 5 days (like ours was last year), there’s nothing so scrumptious as writing “by hand” again.  🙂:)

 

Kathy Milici Have plenty of chocolate on hand! 🙂:)

 

Angie Robinson Keep a list of your nearest Starbucks – coffee, outlets, and wi-fi

 

Karyn Greenstreet Good idea, Angie, and Panera Bread has wifi and outlets, too … as does our local library.

 

Marlene Hielema Pen and lined paper to write with so that if your computer runs out of battery power, you can still jot stuff down. Books to read. Deck of cards to play manual solitaire. Scrabble game.

 

Karyn Greenstreet Another tip: backup all your files, preferably to an online backup service like Mozy, Carbonite or iDrive. That way you can access everything from a new computer, if yours gets damaged in the storm.

 

Sherice Jacob Invest in a UPS in case the power goes out, you’ll have a few minutes to save everything.

 

Carole Sevilla Brown I’m with Sherice. My power back-up gives me about an hour and a half reserve power. This is a good reminder that it would be a good thing to have a few evergreen posts in reserve for times like this. And I’ve got lots of batteries for my digital voice recorder because I do a lot of “writing” that way.

 

Lisa Wood have a car charger on hand to charge your phone, plus an adapter to charge other electronics

 

C.J. Hayden Give your clients and team members a backup email to reach you in case your usual one goes down. Has happened to me more than once with natural disasters and regional power outages.

 

Terri McMahon Zwierzynski Thanks for reminding me to backup my website (every Monday!) Honestly, I’d find it hard to focus on work, with kids and dogs and the whole differentness of the situation. So I’d go with a good book, candles/lanterns, a deck of cards and a few boardgames.

 

C.J. Hayden Oh, and if your phone service is a landline, make sure you have an old-fashioned handset that requires no power to operate. You may keep phone service but lose power. Happened to us in the ’89 San Francisco quake.

 

Would YOU add anything to this list?

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

9 Must-Have Items to Put in Your Welcome Email

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Think of a new customer or a new person to your email list as a guest in your home. How will you make them feel welcomed and appreciated?

Your first email to them, your “Welcome” email, can begin that relationship, and turn a one-way conversation into a conversation that goes both ways between your business and your customer. Make it count.

Over the past several years, people have become accustomed to building personal relationships with a business via email. They reject companies and service providers where they don’t feel they’re being honored.

Send the first email out automatically, within a few minutes after a person subscribes and opts-in to your email list. It can be one email, or a series of emails, triggered by a person joining your list.

What a Welcome Email will do for you

A well-crafted welcome email – whether it’s confirming a person’s subscription or offering immediate access to your content – can build trust and a rapport with your audience. It sets the tone of future communication, starts a conversation, helps reinforce your brand and message and acknowledges how important they are to you.

Consider it your calling card; it’s your one opportunity to knock their socks off with meaningful content that solves their problems or answers their questions. You want them to open future emails from you.

Be warm, professional, helpful – and human.

Some tips on what you should put in your first email

  • Welcome them to your community. Remind them how they got on your list – did they sign up for a free offer, did they make a purchase from your online store, or did they hear you speak or teach somewhere?
  • Thank them. Acknowledge that you’re grateful they chose your content, or for their purchase.
  • Talk to them about what they’ve signed up for. What kind of content can they expect? If they bought something from you, let them know how to access that item or when they can expect to get it.
  • Give them more than they expected. Offer links to important and helpful content on your website, or links to audio files, documents or webinar and video content.
  • Tell them how often they can expect your emails. You should be sending email newsletters at least once a month, but once a week is better. Whatever you choose, be consistent.
  • Provide them with links to your social media accounts as another way to connect.
  • Answer frequently asked questions. Are there questions that pop up all the time which a list of FAQs could answer quickly?
  • Continue the conversation. If you promised something in return for their signing up, make sure they got it. Follow up with a survey asking them wha they think about your product or service. Remember: Even if it’s free, they’re still a customer. They’re consuming your content.
  • Tell them how to unsubscribe. It’s important that you give clear instructions on how to get off your list.

Doubling down with a double opt-in

Sometimes asking people to confirm their email address – known as a “double opt-in” – will be your first electronic correspondence with a customer. By asking people to double opt-in, you’re ensuring a quality list of real email addresses. The double opt-in is meant to get people to click on a link to confirm their email address. Some people don’t do this right away – or they don’t do this at all – so you might have to send a reminder. You can also check the list of people who signed up but didn’t confirm their subscription to check for obvious misspellings in their email addresses.

I’d love to hear from you

Are you sending out Welcome emails? Do you add anything to them aside from the 9 items listed above? Do you send them automatically or manually? Share your story, comments and questions in the Comments area below. 🙂

20 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business

28 Ways to Say No

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Would you babysit my pet tarantula next week? No.

Is it okay if I bring my twelve cousins to your birthday party? No.

Can we extend our contract for six months but not increase the price? No.

Sometimes saying No is easy!

Finding the right words to say No can trip us up. And without the right words, we sometimes say Yes when we don’t mean it, causing stress, frustration and bad feelings.

In one of my mastermind groups, we brainstormed a lot of ways to say No, depending on the given circumstances and what type of No we wanted to give.

Here are 28 ways to say No. While these are business-related, you can modify them for personal use as well:

When No means: No

  1. I can’t take on your project at this time
  2. I’m not accepting any new clients
  3. I’m not comfortable doing what you’re asking
  4. I’m not willing to do what you’re asking
  5. I’m not the right person for the job
  6. I have other commitments that prevent me from doing this
  7. We have a policy in our business that we don’t do that
  8. My schedule is so busy and I’m committed to work/life balance
  9. Right now my priority is X and everything else I’m declining
  10. I’m not able to take on that type of responsibility
  11. Our original agreement was for X; I’m not willing to change that agreement mid-stream
  12. I have an appointment that I can’t reschedule
  13. I want to spend more time doing (fill in the blank)
  14. I don’t enjoy that work
  15. My decision is final
  16. I won’t go

When No means: I can’t do X, but I can offer Y instead

  1. I’m not comfortable doing X, but I’m available to do Y within certain parameters
  2. I’m not really qualified to do this work, but I can recommend an excellent person who might be able to help you
  3. I’d rather work on Y
  4. I’d rather do it this way than the way you are suggesting
  5. I can’t do this myself, but I can ask my assistant to do it for you as long as it only takes 30 minutes like you promised
  6. That’s too little money for this type of work, how about Y?

When No means: I can’t do it now, but I can do it later

  1. I’m not accepting any new clients until September
  2. Can we schedule this for next week instead?
  3. I’m booked solid for August
  4. This Wednesday is really bad for me
  5. I don’t work on Fridays
  6. I need to leave work by 5:00

And, of course, there’s the always-useful, plain old fashioned No. As in, Just Say No. Without preamble, without excuses, without guilt.

7 comments for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

What I Learned from the Airport Customer Experience

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customer service is everythingI usually fly out of either Philadelphia or Newark airports. They’re both “okay” airports, better than some, worse than others.

But when I flew into Las Vegas airport, I was unaware that I’d have the airport customer-centric experience of my life. I’m not naive — I know that airports are all about moving people and luggage as efficiently as possible. But they’ve created a system that works both for the airport as a business AND for the customer.

First thing that happens, as you’re exiting the plane, they display for you which luggage carousel your luggage will arrive at. What a relief! Many airports make you search for this information instead of handing you the information at exactly the logical time you’ll be wanting it.

Next, the bathrooms. If you’ve been in airport bathrooms, you know that they’re not the cleanest or best maintained places on earth. Not true in Las Vegas. The bathroom was sparkling clean and in perfect repair. The faucets work, the soap dispenser works, the towel dispenser works. I’m in bathroom heaven.

Luggage is picked up in a central location for all terminals. The airport has an efficient system for moving lots of people to the luggage area without delay or long walks. (Well, “long walks” in any airport is relative, but you get my point.)

Finally, to my delight, there was an employee at the luggage carousel, lifting up each piece of luggage as it arrived and putting it handle-up so that people could easily grab their suitcase without struggle.

Each step along the way, I was delighted by these simple things. And it reminds me how my customers deserve the same treatment. From the way we answer emails or the phone, to how we invoice customers, every step, every contact matters.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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My Favorite (Office) Things: Post-It Dispensers

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I wanted to share with you some of the office supply items I use — especially those items I use daily (almost hourly) and make my work day easier.

Today’s favorite: Post-It Pop-Up Dispensers.

I’m always losing my small pads of post-it notes. They get lost under other papers, or get pushed behind the desk. Then when I finally clean up my desk, I find a half-dozen of these pads scattered about.

Solution: Dispenser.

These are regular Post-It notes, in a weighted dispenser you can keep on your desk. You purchase special pop-up post-it note paper to put in the dispenser, and whenever you need a Post-It note, there it is! It never falls off the desk and it never gets lost among the papers.

It’s an inexpensive solution to one of life’s little annoyances. You can purchase them at Amazon.com.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
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The Fallacy of the Small Sample Size

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When asking your customers for their opinion, do you ask enough people?

I recently asked my customers (all small busines owners) for feedback about what time of day, and day of week, they prefer to take virtual classes. When the first 10 or 20 responses came in, it was clear that everyone wanted classes on Wednesdays at 7:00 PM. Wow! Who would have guessed?

I should re-schedule all my virtual classes to the evening time slot — right?

Wrong!

When I re-discovered my patience and waited to get the full response from 300 or 400 people, the results were completely, totally different.

When I waited for a larger sample size of survey results, new and important facts emerged: Wednesday was still popular, but of equal popularity was Tuesday and Thursday. More importantly, because I waited for a larger response group, I discovered the 7:00 PM timeslot slide in popularity, to be replaced strongly by 12:00 – 2:00 timeframe.

Had I made business decisions based on the first 20 responses, I would have created a disaster.

When you have a business idea or decision to make, do you just ask five or ten people? Stop destroying your business by using small sample sizes in your surveys! The more people you ask, the better quality of results you’ll get.

Read more about the fallacy of small sample sizes, also known as “hasty generalizations.

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Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

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