My new book Fix Your Business, features top business experts at the end of each of the chapters. Each expert was selected based on the advice they could share based on my 12 Ps of Running a Successful Business: Preparation, Purpose, People, Profit, Processes, Productivity, Performance, Product, Presence, Prospects, Planning and Perseverance. They are all at the top of their respective fields. This week you’ll have the opportunity to learn from Misty Young, Stephanie Chandler Jay Baer, Barbara Weaver Smith, Tim Berry and Twyla Garrett. I have grabbed one question and answer from each of them just to give you a sneak preview of the resources in Fix Your Business. These are success secrets from America’s Top Business Experts.
SmallBizLady: How can you build a great customer service program and train your team to implement it?
Misty Young: Training is the ultimate fulfillment of your brand promise, no matter the business you are in. Find your industry’s best books and buy them for your team. Pay them to read or listen to the book as part of their weekly duties and have a mastermind session weekly to brainstorm ideas and hear feedback. Ask your team to serve each other first and foremost. When they have an internal service focus, they’ll automatically want to help the clients even more. When your entire team knows the goal, the direction, and isn’t trying to read your mind, your customer service will vastly improve. Be sure to celebrate wins to help team building – use every client downfall as a training opportunity to build your team.
SmallBizLady: How does a business owner redefine their niche?
Stephanie Chandler: I like to start by asking a series of questions about your ideal clients:
- What industries or demographics do you most enjoy working with?
- Are there any specific industries or demographics that you would like to work with? For example, maybe you are passionate about health and wellness and you’d like to work with people in related professions.
Once you’ve identified some potential niche audiences, next you need to evaluate the opportunities.
- Is this a niche that is growing, flat or declining?
- What is the competitive landscape for this niche? Is there a lot of competition or is there room for you?
- Try conducting surveys with people from your niche audience to determine their needs and challenges to ascertain how you might be able to serve them.
SmallBizLady: Does old school branding still work, business cards, brochures, direct mail etc.?
Jay Baer: Yes, if you do something that defies expectations. For nine years, my business card has been a metal bottle opener. People come up to me at conferences and say, “Jay, you gave me your card in 2010, and I still have it. It’s in my golf bag.” If you know exactly where my business card is among your possessions, my work is done! Same thing with direct mail. There’s a new tactic where you send direct mail only to people who recently visited your website. Huge impact and very relevant. That kind of thing works because people don’t expect it. But doing the exact thing that people expect is a waste of time and money.
SmallBizLady: Should the business owner ever give up having a sales role in the business?
Barbara Weaver Smith: The smart owner will always have a sales role, but not always be a seller and definitely not always be the main seller. If you always do most of the selling, you really can’t build value in your company. Too much depends on you always being involved and maybe rests on your personal charisma.
But you always need to understand your sales process and how it works. I’ve seen owners hire a sales team and turn sales over to them. Soon you don’t understand their sales jargon, you can’t track their numbers, you can’t hold them accountable, you’re not making money, but you’re afraid of them. They always have an excuse, a reason. What will you do if they leave and take your customers and leads with them? Truth is, nothing bad will happen. But owners are afraid. You have to own your numbers and your sales process. Delegate sales, eventually delegate sales management, but never delegate sales strategy.
SmallBizLady: How often should a business owner think about the future of their business?
Tim Berry: I strongly recommend taking an hour or two once a month to review your plan, track progress towards milestones, look at plan vs. actual results, and revise the plan as necessary. What matters is the process, not just the plan. If you don’t use the plan as a regular management tool, you’re missing the main benefit.
SmallBizLady: When a business owner faces a major setback such as losing a biggest client or key employee, where should they start to rebuild?
Twyla Garrett: Every business will have setbacks. If you lose a key employee or a big client, the first thing you have to do is regroup. Bring your key leaders, your CFO, marketer, sales manger etc. and figure out your next move. If you don’t have any of these folks yet, sit with some peer partners or mentors and figure out a strategy to move forward. Diversify your portfolio of clients so that you’re not relying on one particular customer too much. And make sure that your employees are cross trained so you’re not at the mercy of any one employee.
I hope these inspiring words have encouraged you through this journey we call entrepreneurship. If you are ready to make a change in your business, and want more great advice grab my new book Fix Your Business. Inside, you’ll read in-depth interviews with these industry experts and learn my 90-day turnaround plan so that you can live your dream life as an entrepreneur.