You could call it a blog but I prefer actionable advice for local business owners
Using curated content isn't something I prefer to do very often (kind of like eating sushi), but in the event that I come across a juicy little nugget of insightful information, it really wouldn't be very nice of me to keep it all to myself.
This is a bit longer than my usual post so I'll give you the bullets and add the link below for the full article that came from Beatriz Estay writing for BigCommerce.com
1. Learn from your customers
2. Prioritize customer support
3. Stay focused on your niche
4. Deliver an experience your customers won’t forget
5. Be time-efficient
6. Think omnichannel
7. Find a balance
8. Don’t fear larger, more established competitors
9. Take an organized approach
10. Choose your battles wisely
11. Build a team
12. Learn to be flexible
13. Be true to your business
14. Data analytics are your friend
15. Be the best at what you do
16. Think holistically
17. Be passionate in everything you do
This is a great list and the details in each are very insightful (I wouldn't have posted them if they weren't, right)
You can read the Full Article Here and it even comes with the option to download it as a guide which is always nice for later reading.
Enjoy your weekend and we'll talk again soon!
As I was waiting for the train to pass yesterday, I small piece of metal outside my car window caught my eye.
I had a pretty good idea what it was, and just seeing it lying there on the ground made me feel a bit uneasy.
You're probably familiar with it too, and if you are, you also know what it does.
It's called a linchpin, and basically, it holds two things together - a latch to a door, a wheel to an axle, you get the idea.
I took a quick pic since I got lucky and was stopped at the very beginning of the 20 mile long train caravan and had more than enough time to kill.
Seeing this made me feel a bit unsettled because unless this fell out of the pocket of someone's jacket, there's a door or gate open or unsecured and something will probably be tumbling out of its holding container and on its way to dent my car.
But this got me thinking (as most small pieces of metal tend to do), who are the linchpins in small businesses? Can a person be a linchpin? Does this have anything to do with bowling?
OK, the last question is a bit dopey, but being a linchpin in business means being essential. Of course, a person can be essential. So this brings me to the Action Step for today: Find a way for you to be essential to your customers or clients.
This is especially relevant if you're a service provider like a plumber, chiropractor or landscaper.
How can you position yourself, so your customer NEEDS you? How can you make your service something worthy of coming back for more of...again...and again...and again?
When you can answer that question, you're put in a very valuable position.
It's going to take some strategic thinking, but that's what marketing is all about.
Go back to your USP, your unique selling proposition or unique selling point, and see how unique it really is.
If it is unique, how can you make your customers see this?
Once again, when you can answer this question, your business will never be the same.
This weekend I got an email from my goto business/tech/trends resource, The Hustle and there was an an interesting story (of course, there are always interesting stories, but this one was particularly interesting) that made me think of you.
It opens with some less than encouraging news:
Businesses today face more competition than ever. Five years ago, the typical business had just 2.6 competitors. Today? That number has almost quadrupled, to 9.7.
AWS, Shopify, and no-code significantly lowered the barrier to entry, which shifted the risk from, “Can I build this?” to “Will anyone care?”
So...yay, our job as business owners is even tougher than ever.
The solution? Well, the article say that it's "branding" but I gotta disagree with my respected resource...sort of.
While I don't think that branding is the answer, I do agree with a couple of the answers they call branding.
For starters, don't get too sucked into the "branding" thing.
This might ruffle feathers, especially for people who make their living as Brand Manager, but the word "branding" is sooooo nebulous.
They're probably all right to be perfectly honest, but for sake of how can you succeed in your business when your competition is huge and your audience's attention span is small, branding is about connecting with your potential purchasers so they CHOOSE YOU. Whatever it takes to do that, that's branding.
I told you it was tough to define.
The article gave four things to keep in mind when building your brand and I won't spoil the surprise in case you were interesting reading it along with the bevy of other juicy segments.
How about I give you the first two?
This really is about what makes you different and how that difference relates to your perfect customer.
You don't want everyone to be your customer, as blasphemous as that sounds, it's true.
You want the people that love you and what you do and what you're about and what you represent to be your customer. THOSE people will love you and buy from you for life.
Your ACTION ITEM is to define your business. Why should I be drawn to you? If the answer is because you have warm cookies waiting for me...you're off to a very good start.
What does your perfect customer look like?
Have a great week!
PS, Let me know if you like The Hustle. If you do, then I know we're connecting.
As we build our business foundation, it's important to know WHY you're doing what you do.
I know this may sound weird if you're already running a business (we'll get to that one in a sec), but if you're still in the creation stage, this is big.
I'm sure I'm not the first one to refer Simon Sinek and his book, Start with Why to you (yay me, if I am), but his TEDx Talk is actually what launched his career. YOU CAN SEE IT HERE and it's a more condensed version of his book but just as powerful.
He refers to the Golden Circle (spoiler alert) and at the center of the circle is the WHY you do something - your purpose, cause or your belief.
I really think this simple idea is rather profound and apparently a few hundred thousand people also think so based on his book sales.
It's easy to tell someone WHAT you do and HOW you do it, but WHY you do it...that's personal, and that's the action step for you today Aspiring Entrepreneur - discover your WHY. Once you have this written down, you'll be surprised how many decisions are affected by it.
If it doesn't follow your WHY, you might have to ask yourself if you should do it. Will it advance your mission? Will it take you away from your WHY?
"But Chris, I already have a business!"
I hear you and it's not too late. Your action step is to pinpoint your WHY, and then work your way back to it. Hopefully you're not too far away, but it's never too late to work with integrity and that's the part of Start with Why that I like the most. It's not a roadmap, per se, but more of a tool for reflection and inspiration.
Of course, this principle is huge for service-based businesses but what would happen at your dry cleaner or restaurant if your customers and employees learned why you started your business. It would give everyone a better appreciation of your situation.
THIS is the power of good story. Whether it's a story that guides your future or a backstory that defines your past, YOUR story is worth sharing.
Your WHY is worth sharing.
Enjoy the video and we'll talk soon (Thursdays are the day, from now on, if you're keeping track at home)
PS, give me a shout if you need a little help telling your story. You can use it in a lot fun ways to connect with your customers and clients.
PPS, I thought I was pretty darn clever with the title of my post today, but suspected that someone had already said it. In fact, not one but two different podcasts are using that title for their show. Not so clever anymore are you? Sadly...no.
Since we're still at the beginning with this "conversation" I think it might be good to let you know where I stand on this one important topic.
Once someone realizes you've been running your own business for a year or so and are actually making a living, they want to know how you're doing it or better yet, what's the "secret sauce?" I've been asked a lot and I got it down to a pretty simple formula:
But this does bring up an important element I must warn you about. I know you love what you do. You love it SO much and you're so talented at it that you want to do it for a living, especially because everyone tells you should. Here's the rub. When you're performing your brilliance for a living, you have to do it even when you don't want to.
This is important to know because when you get bored at your hobby, you can just set it aside and go do something else. When you're doing work for a client or to pay off that refrigerator, you don't always get to take a break when you want.
As a wedding photographer for over 20 years, I loved shooting weddings, but I won't lie to you. There were times late in the evening when I didn't want to hear The Cupid Shuffle played to delight of the dancing wedding guests. You might say that after hearing that song a few hundred times, I had earned the right NOT to hear it, but I did not get a pass. I had to suck it up and photograph the gyrating guests loving every moment of the loathsome song...and do it with a smile.
Are you ready to take the leap, from passion to professional?
It's completely OK if you're not. I once heard someone describe amateurs as those who do what they do for love whereas professionals do it for money. It's a pretty accurate sentiment, but if you can find that sweet-spot where you're doing what you love AND getting paid for it AND you keep loving it even when you're NOT loving it at every moment, THEN you'll be in a really special place.
“A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between his work and his play; his labor and his leisure; his mind and his body; his education and his recreation. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence through whatever he is doing, and leaves others to determine whether he is working or playing. To himself, he always appears to be doing both." – L.P. Jacks
I really love this quote!
One of the most basic (remedial, for those who prefer more substantial words) parts of starting and running a business is determining WHO your best customer is.
Now I say "best" customer because you deserve the best...nah, I'm kidding. I say best because best is another word for ideal and that's how you need to think, "Who is my ideal customer?" Now THAT is a good question!
When you determine this, you can then play part-time psychologist and dig deep into their persona. You can pinpoint who they really are:
When you do this you are creating the avatar of your perfect customer and if you know how your customer ticks, you can appeal to them in a way that no one else can - especially your competitions connect with them and they will feel like you GET them...because you do!
So the big question is, are you doing this? Do you know who your IDEAL customer is? Do they like the movie Avatar? Sorry, scratch that...or do...?
Now when you're creating marketing materials (ads, mail, social posts, etc.), think of them and ask yourself, "What would Neytiri think of this? Would this get her to buy?"
When you know this, you'll serve them better...and that's why we do this, isn't it?
The future of publishing is about having connections to readers and the knowledge of what those readers want. – Seth Godin
Let's set the ground rules here:
I LOVE to help entrepreneurs and small "local" businesses, so that's going to be the focus here.
Your business is where my attention is now and will always be.
I can't explain it, but I just love the idea of individuals taking that leap and turning their passion into a career path, no matter what their age. It's exciting...but it's also ridiculously scary at the same time.
Being a successful "micropreneur" for over 20 years, which is one of those new words that means I intentionally kept things small and local, I know what it means to take responsibility for everything.
I understand the struggle of getting clients, keeping them satisfied, and then waking up the next morning and doing it again and again.
I also know the joy of doing a job well, and having my client appreciate it so much that they give me what Rabbi Daniel Lapin calls "certificates of performance."
This page is for you, the small business owner, the mom and pop operator, the hopeful upstart, the new entrepreneur, and the aspiring business owner.
My focus is on making a connection. Taking decades of business books and distilling down the nuggets into actionable items to help your business - making a connection with you so you can make a connection with your customers.
That's the beauty of a local business CONNECTION. We're all working together.
If you have a question, send it over to me directly via the contact form.
I'll answer it if I can or find someone who can if I can't.
Let's get it started!