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

The Fallacy of the Small Sample Size

Posted by

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 down in popularity, to be replaced strongly by 12:00 – 2:00 afternoon 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.

Comments Off on The Fallacy of the Small Sample Size for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Just Three Tasks a Day

Posted by

A colleague of mine in one of my mastermind groups shared a great tip with us a few months ago: instead of writing a huge to-do list every day (and never completing all the tasks), focus on just three tasks a day.

I’ve been trying this technique now for about 2 months, and I’m happy to report it is a winner!

Truthfully, I don’t know “how” it works; I just know that it does. Each day I choose three tasks that I will complete. If I finish them, I can always do a fourth task.

For some reason, having only three tasks a day feels so much more empowering that I’m able to do them easily, without stress and overwhelm. My to-do list is dwindling and I’m moving forward in my business at a faster pace.

Try it and see if it works for you, too!

7 comments for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags:

Increase Your Productivity: Institute Quiet Time

Posted by

Are you getting everything done on your To Do list?

No?

Join the crowd.

More and more self-employed entrepreneurs are complaining that email, phone calls, social media, and their beeping-buzzing smart phones are constantly causing interruptions, increasing stress and reducing productivity.

These constant interruptions are costing you productivity — and ultimately income.

In my blog post Choose One Project, I talk about the myth of multitasking. Talking on the phone and answering emails at the same time decreases your overall productivity. So does popping into social media sites while you’re trying to focus on an important project or task. It causes twice the number of errors when you multitask or allow interruptions to your task.

By allowing all these interruptions, you are losing TWO hours a day of productive time. Ouch!

The Solution

Many large corporations like Intel, IBM, and Deloitte & Touche are instituting something called Quiet Time: a block of time in which you cannot send or read emails, and may not make or receive phone calls (unless they are related to the specific project you’re working on).

Small business owners can do this, too!

I started to do this last year:

  • Core Productivity times are 9AM – 2:30 PM. All private client calls, group mentoring calls, classes, and project work are done during these hours.
  • Every Friday was “class design and book writing day.” No client or prospect appointments, no emails from 9:00 – 2:30, no phone calls at all.
  • Emails are handled twice a day – at 8:00 and 2:30.
  • Each day, return phone calls are handled after 2:30 PM (which is great because of the time zone differences between East and West coast).
  • When I really, really needed to work on a project in a deeply focused way, I’d bring my laptop to the lake, park or library, taking my work to a quiet environment without possible distractions. (I particularly like the lake because there’s no Wi-Fi there! :))

The Results of My Quiet Time Test

In a 12-month period, I designed and launched three new classes (including a 9-week class which was a whopper to design), wrote one new ebook, designed two new websites, and overall had a much happier and more satisfied lifestyle and work environment. Awesome!

Lest you think that you will be less productive in getting through your emails and phone calls if you institute Quiet Time in your business, think again. Having fixed times each day for email and phone calls increases your productivity, actually reducing the amount of time you spend on emails and phone calls. (I found I could get through 30-40 emails in a solid, planned hour, which would have taken me two hours if I had answered them in a scattered fashion throughout the day.)

If you are frustrated because you’re not accomplishing your projects and tasks, you need to schedule Quiet Time into each day. You will be happier and feel more fulfilled by your work if you do.

How About You?

Do you regularly block out time to get projects done? What are you doing to increase your productivity without getting burned out? I’d love to hear your stories and ideas!

21 comments for now



Category: Managing Projects, Tasks & Time, Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags: , , ,

How to Get 300 Hours of Education a Year

Posted by

I made an amazing discovery last month. Like you, I’m a busy business owner. Yet I need to continually learn new marketing techniques, new business ideas, etc. in order to maintain my expertise in my field.

Where was I going to find time to do all that reading, listening, and studying???

As with most successful projects, lifelong learning is about two things: structure and discipline.

If you took six hours a week to learn something new (read a book, listen to an audio program, take a watch a video tutorial, take a class), you’d have completed 312 hours of learning new material a year. That’s equivalent to over SIX college-level courses.

To be be known as an expert, you must be willing to invest six hours a week to “sharpening the saw” of your knowledge.

The way I do it is this: I’m taking off every Friday for the next year, to read, take classes, learn. From 9:00 – 3:00, I’ll read a book to read, listen to an audio program on MP3, watch video lessons, read websites, or take classes.

A colleague of mine uses her treadmill time to listen to audios. Another colleague signs up for one class a month, each and every month of the year. One of my clients takes a weekly trip to the library (“The only place I can find some quiet!” he says) and reads a book for a few hours.

You can do this, too. Maybe you take one hour a day as your Learning Time. Maybe you schedule one day per week. It doesn’t matter how you do it, as long as you schedule the time into your calendar and religiously adhere to your learning schedule.

When you think “300 hours” it’s overwhelming.

When you think “1 hour a day” it’s empowering!

3 comments for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags: ,

Avoid Pricing and Discounting Mistakes

Posted by

In 2008, Pizza Hut saw its sales drop because of the Great Recession. Competitors were lowering their prices and offering discounts — and Pizza Hut figured they had better offer a discount if they wanted to compete with Dominoes Pizza and Papa John’s Pizza for a dwindling market.

So in 2009, Pizza Hut began to offer a large cheese pizza with three toppings for $10 (the normal price was $15). Then they sweetened the deal by offering unlimited toppings for the same $10 price.

And sales rose.

That’s a good thing, right?

Fast forward to 2011. The economy was easing and Pizza Hut (and the other pizza competitors) now wanted to reinstate their normal pizza price of $15.

And customers resisted.

Why? Because of two psychological triggers:

  1. People had gotten used to paying only $10 for a pizza with unlimited toppings. When you increase the price back to the “normal” $15, people see that as a raise in price of 50 percent, conveniently forgetting the pre-2009 pricing.
  2. When you lower your prices, you devalue your product or service. You’re basically telling people, “It’s not worth $15, it’s only worth $10. We’ve been overcharging you all along.”

What do you do when sales are sluggish and you want to offer a discount, but you don’t want to imply that your products and services are worth less by lowering the price?

Enter the Concept of Adaptive Pricing

Here’s the psychology behind the concept: Customers have different needs, and place different values on the various aspects of your products and services — price being just one aspect they consider.

For example:

  • Many customers value access to a live instructor above learning on their own, so if they have questions they can get help immediately from the instructor. Therefore, they’re willing to pay more for a live class than a self-study program.
  • Some customers place value on group brainstorming and sharing of best practices to shorten the learning curve, and are willing to pay to be a member of a mastermind group.
  • Other customers value private one-on-one services and are willing to pay a premium price to get your total attention to find solutions to their problems and think strategically.

By knowing what your customers value — and creating pricing and discounts based on those values — you can increase customer satisfaction and sales at the same time.

But My Customers Want Low Prices!

Be careful of your own psychology: you might be a budget shopper yourself, but not all your customers are. If you constantly offer things for a discount (or for free!), it’s more about your own feelings about money and pricing than the needs of your customers.

For every customer who wants things as cheaply as possible, there are customers who demand extraordinary quality and are willing to pay for it. Just look at the different price/value levels of department stores (from Wal-Mart to Neiman Marcus) and you’ll see that there are huge ranges of quality, service, experience and price needs among customers.

Don’t assume your customers want cheap prices and are willing to take a lower quality service or product in order to get the lowest prices. Price based on the value of what you’re offering, and on your branding strategy. Are you the Wal-Mart of your industry or the Neiman Marcus? (Or somewhere in between?)

So, You Want to Offer a Discount

Great! Offering a discount has a lot of benefits for your business. Pay attention to your strategic purpose behind the discount — to increase sales, to increase demand, to test a pricing strategy, or to get the word out about a new product/service — and price accordingly.

When you offer your discount, test to see if your goals have been met. You may be assuming a discount will produce a certain results, and you could be wrong. Tracking your results is the only way to know for sure. (The numbers don’t lie!)

Three Adaptive Pricing Techniques to Use in Your Business

Versioning

For customers who are concerned about price above all else, offering them your product or service in a different version at a lower price-point will serve them while still keeping your sales up. Here’s an example:

  • I teach a 5-week class where students submit their homework assignments to me for review and analysis, and have access to me during class to ask questions. That class is priced at $499.
  • For the budget-conscious student, I offer similar material in a self-study version $299, (and they don’t have access to me at all if they purchase the self-study version).
  • For customers who want more private access to me to learn the topic and apply it specifically to their own business, they join an ongoing mastermind group that includes the class plus the group access. Each customer has a different need and by creating three versions of the service, I meet the needs of each type of customer.

Additions for Free

Another adaptive pricing technique is to offer an “extra” or “bonus” for free, but keep the base price of your product and service the same.

For example, you could offer your mastermind group to your customer at full price, but then offer them a free additional hour of your time. Walt Disney World theme park had a great success with offering their Buy Four Entry Tickets and Get Three Free package.

But don’t offer pseudo free bonuses unrelated to the product or service that customers are buying. Customers are now savvy to the free bonuses that many internet marketers offer (like: Buy Our Ebook and Get $40,000 Worth of Bonuses Free), and it just makes people think you’re trying to fool them, lowering trust and harming the relationship.

Unbundle

Everyone is telling you to combine a whole bunch of your offerings together, then give the customer a special price. But what if your customer doesn’t want everything in the bundle?

Consider offering your main product or service at full price, and then offering upgrades at a reduced price.

  • You could offer your live event for $1,200, then offer an hour of private consulting time for an additional (discounted) fee to those who are attending the live event. Or you could offer them an ongoing mastermind group for an additional fee.
  • Or you could offer them recordings of the live event for an additional fee. That way, customers can choose which upgrades are valuable to them and you can clearly see which upgrades are the winners in the eyes of your customer.

The key here is to know your customers, and know what they value when it comes to purchasing services and products. If you’re not sure, test out several pricing strategies and see which one pulls in the most revenue.

It’s also important to stop offering discounts when they are no longer needed to boost sales. Be strategic and think through your pricing ideas before implementing them so they don’t come back to bite you later!

25 comments for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business

Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: How to Fire Your Assistant, Website Designer, etc.

Posted by

There must be something in the air. Three of my clients called me this week to talk about firing a subcontractor. One client asked me, “Can you please write an article about this so I know what to do?” And thus this article was born.

We hire people to help us grown and run our small business: assistants and virtual assistants, website designers and graphic artists, copywriters, coaches and consultants, and bookkeepers. But what do you do when their work isn’t up to par or they are constantly missing their deadlines?

These issues can lead to other problems, so even if they seem small they can blow up on you in the future. Your reputation relies on the quality of the work you do and all the people who you hire need to have the same level of excellence. If you demand it of yourself, demand it of your subcontractors.

Read full article.

Comments Off on Breaking Up Is Hard to Do: How to Fire Your Assistant, Website Designer, etc. for now



Category: Running a Strong & Efficient Business
Tags:

« Prev - Next »