Set up Systems To Make Life Easier

Set up systems to make your business better - Authentic EdgeIn this blog we will have a brief look at the administrative side to your business – the back office, and probably the bit that most business owners hate the most and leave until last!

The disadvantage of doing that though, is that things accumulate, they become messy, and you never know where you are. By being well organised, and getting things cleared regularly you keep your whole business running smoothly.

There are all sorts of records that you need to keep for your business, and paperwork that you need to do. Make sure you know what has to be done and that it gets dealt with promptly and regularly.

To keep your business running smoothly the best thing to do is set up systems. That is a collection of instructions (systems) about how to do things, how to do everything you know about running your business, so that everyone in the business knows, and things are done consistently and perfectly all the time.

If you don’t think this is a good idea then take note, according to research, the key to making a business more valuable is making it LESS dependent on you the business owner… and MORE dependent on systems – so that when you eventually come to sell your business it works just as well for the buyer without you, as it ever did with you. This is also borne out by brokers who sell businesses.

Remember the word SYSTEM actually stands for Save Your Self Time, Earn yourself Money.

It is best to do your systems at the beginning if you can, it is easier and you will have more time. Also that way, your systems can grow with the business, rather than you trying to start a new way of working when you are up and running, and too busy doing the job to think about how it should be done!

(Taken From 101 Secrets of Successful Entrepreneurs – by Julia McDaid)

Coaching Cold Feet

CoachingAre you thinking of taking the big step of getting a coach or mentor?

Yes it’s scary, yes it seems expensive – I’ve been there, a few times!

The point is, you are choosing to invest in you and your business. What is more important than that?

It’s very likely you will get cold feet the next day, very likely. In fact I can almost guarantee it!

This is your ego kicking in, your ego likes to maintain the status quo, it doesn’t want you to grow and change and do things differently. Your ego likes safety and security, the comfort zone of same old , same old.

And that is the whole point, you are making changes because you are not listening to your ego, to the niggling doubts and fears, you have made the choice to listen to what your heart and soul is drawing you towards, your gut instinct is strong, if it felt right at the time it is. This is when it time to honour who you are and stick to your guns.

Believe me, I have committed around $9k for a coaching programme, I know the questions will come up, yet I also knew it felt right and I needed to make some changes. The reason I wanted to talk to someone and thought about taking on a coach at that time was because I knew I wanted to do more, and I also knew the benefits of having that accountability.

Because in all honesty very few of us are motivated enough when left to our own devices, are we? If I’m honest with myself I know I work better and more effectively with a coach, which is why I use them.

So the bottom line to me is, Just Do It. Trust your initial feeling. I know it works, and I know I will have doubts at first. Mainly I know I and my business do better as a result. Its an essential tool in the box.

How to Turn Moans Into Cheers

Turning around complaints Lets face it, nobody likes getting complaints. But the really successful businesses recognise that, if handled properly, the complaining person can be turned into a ‘raving fan’ who ends up even more loyal after they complained than they were before.

To turn those people from complainers into raving fans, they create a complaint handling system. And they make sure that it does these things:

  • 1 Always acknowledge complaints immediately
  • 2 Make the process human, so that customers never feel they are up against a faceless system
  • 3 Value every single customer, and take all of their complaints seriously
  • 4 Train staff in how to listen, empathise, defuse anger, and discover what it will take to make the customer happy again. And, having done that, also empower staff to do what the customer wants, and preferably a little bit more, without constantly requiring them to seek authorisation.
  • 5 Keep customers fully informed about what is happening – and never let complaints drag on
  • 6 Put things right willingly and gladly – not grudgingly
  • 7 Don’t just treat the symptoms, but also identify and correct the causes
  • Do you have a system for handling complaints? If so how does it compare to this checklist?

    If not will you consider putting something in place?

    When you think about a situation where you needed to complain, can you see areas where they didn’t do these things? I can and I know it was very annoying at the time, certainly didn’t make a fan of me!

    Working “On” Your Business

    Michael gerber, EMyth - tips learnt by Julia McdaidThe distinction between working ‘in’ and working ‘on’ your business is one that most business owners will recognise. And the related advice that, as leaders, we should spend more time working on our business is also widely accepted. But how exactly can we turn those good intentions into action?

    Some time ago I was fortunate enough to see Michael Gerber speak live, and this is one of the things he spoke about.

    The key learning points from Michael’s seminar were these:

    * Entrepreneurs should concentrate on seizing opportunities, and let their managers worry about how to solve problems.

    * The entrepreneur’s product is not what the business happens to sell, it is the business itself.

    *The role of an entrepreneur isn’t to merely change his or her business – it is to transform it. Change is still connected to the past. Transformation leaps out of the past into the unknown.

    * To help them with this transformation process, entrepreneurs should follow the example of Walt Disney by creating a ‘dreaming room’. A room where there are no rules. A room where they spend at least 10 minutes a day thinking about the future, not the past.

    * Ultimately there is no difference between a small business and a big business: a big business is just a small business that has done all the right things.

    I am a great believer in learning to work on your business, and its one of the things I help my clients with. If you would like to chat about this please get in touch

    Crafting Your Unique Selling Proposition

    Unique selling propositionDo you already have a great USP? Or are you struggling to nail it? If you want to create or improve yours, these tips will give you a start point.

    Below are seven steps for creating a powerful benefit statement to truly differentiate you from your competition.


    •Identify your customers key frustrations

    •Redesign your products/services and systems in line with these findings
    (or at least the way you present them)

    •List the reasons why someone should buy from you

    •Turn that list into Unique Selling Propositions

    •Create a powerful positioning statement

    •Incorporate your USPs and key benefits into everything you do

    •What frustrations do your customers have in life?

    On top of this learn how best to resolve key frustrations, and give your potential customers exactly what they want so that you attract many, many more customers.

    If I can help you in any way, please do get in touch .

    Wednesday Words of Wisdom

    Are you chasing too many rabbits?

    There is an old Chinese proverb that says ‘man who chases two rabbits catches neither’.

    Al Ries’s book Focus (Harper Collins) contains 300 pages of examples suggesting that it is exactly the same in business. Success, he says, comes from narrowing our focus so that our people, our customers and our targets have a clear and uncluttered understanding of what we are, what we do and what we stand for.

    According to Ries ‘If there were nothing but general surgeons and you were the only brain surgeon, you would have an incredible business and you could charge outrageous prices’.

    So why shouldn’t it be the same for other businesses too?

    It’s a question that many of the world’s most successful businesses have already answered eg Intel’s CEO Andrew Grove once said ‘I’d rather have all my eggs in one basket and spend my time worrying about whether it’s the right basket, than try to put one egg in every basket.’

    Seven Questions to Kickstart Your Week

    7 questions to kickstart your week - Julia McdaidI thought I would jot down a few things that might help when you want to focus. By asking yourself questions you will naturally start your brain looking for answers.

    This is one way to tap into the subconscious mind, and can be used very powerfully.

    So here are seven questions to ask yourself

    1. What do I most want to create this week?

    2. Who do I need to speak to this week?

    3. How will I choose my attitude to impact how I deal with stressful circumstances that arise today?

    4. What am I doing that I know isn’t helping my business?

    5. How do I really want to serve my clients?

    6. What choices will I make today that align my purpose and passion with the tasks awaiting my attention?

    7. What can I work on right now that would change everything for me?

    Give them some thought, either ask yourself at the start of the day, or the start of the week, or before you go to sleep and let the answers come overnight.

    And do let me know how you get on, I’d love to hear what worked for you, and what difference it made.

    10 terrific self motivating tips

    Guest blog written by Mike Moore

    Tips for self motivationNo one can motivate anyone to do anything. All a person can do for another is provide them with incentives to motivate themselves. Here are ten very effective strategies to help you get up and get moving toward actualizing your enormous, untapped potential.

    Be willing to leave your comfort zone. The greatest barrier to achieving your potential is your comfort zone. Great things happen when you make friends with your discomfort zone.

    Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Wisdom helps us avoid making mistakes and comes from making a million of them.

    Don’t indulge in self-limiting thinking. Think empowering, expansive thoughts.

    Choose to be happy. Happy people are easily motivated. Happiness is your birthright so don’t settle for anything else.

    Spend at least one hour a day in self-development. Read good books or listen to inspiring tapes. Driving to and from work provides an excellent opportunity to listen to self-improvement tapes.

    Train yourself to finish what you start. So many of us become scattered as we try to accomplish a task. Finish one task before you begin another.

    Live fully in the present moment. When you live in the past or the future you aren’t able to make things happen in the present.

    Commit yourself to joy. C.S. Lewis once said, “Joy is the serious business of heaven.”

    Never quit when you experience a setback or frustration. Success could be just around the corner.

    Dare to dream big dreams. If there is anything to the law of expectation then we are moving in the direction of our dreams, goals and expectations.

    The real tragedy in life is not in how much we suffer, but rather in how much we miss, so don’t miss a thing.

    Charles Dubois once said, “We must be prepared, at any moment, to sacrifice who we are for who we are capable of becoming.”

    Secrets of Pricing For Profit

    Profit from good pricing strategyLooking at research it has suggested that many business owners believe “Lower Prices = Higher Sales = Higher Profits.” Which is just not true.

    Yes customers care about prices but they are not the only thing they care about. Ask yourself how often you switch allegiances from a favourite supermarket, garden centre, pub or restaurant just because a new one has opened up offering slightly lower prices? The truth is, it is more convenient to stay faithful.

    So how can your business and marketing strategy mirror that fact? Sell to your customers on the basis of “best value” rather than “lowest price.”
    Most importantly, make sure your products and services are exactly what your customers need and want and present your prices in the best possible light.

    Here are a few tips for achieving this:

  • Offer guarantees: Customers will part with their money more readily, and pay a higher price, if they know that they can get their money back if something goes wrong.
  • Provide sensational service: Study after study has shown that customers are willing to pay more if you give them great service.
  • Justify your prices: Know the prices of your most expensive competition, demonstrating the savings and benefits from your product and demonstrating that your product is hugely superior and therefore slightly more expensive because…

    For more information on how you can sell almost anything to almost anybody at almost any price, ask for your copy of our report “Beating The Price Cutters”.

    10 Ways To Find Inspiration

    TFind Inspirationhis list was originally published in a previous newsletter of mine, but I think its worth sharing again.

    Here are ten suggestions for finding inspiration when you’re feeling stuck.

    If your head seems full of cobwebs and your can’t think straight, go for an aimless walk. A rhythmic pace helps
    you to enter a state of flow and allows solutions to surface – quite literally, a breath of fresh air.

    Whether it’s a museum, park or concert, indulge in something you love which will open your mind to creativity. Make the most of your self-employed status and go mid-week when there are no crowds.

    When you read something in a magazine or book that inspires you or makes your think, cut it out or write it down. Keep clippings and notebooks in a ‘inspiration’ file so that when you’re feeling down or stuck, you can dip in at will.

    An older, more experienced peer will have been in a similar situation to yours before, so if you’re really stuck on an idea, talk it over with a mentor or good friend and get a second opinion. To find a mentor, try asking your contacts or your industry association.

    Be proactive by doing a chore that’s been nagging you for ages – whether it’s sorting through piles of receipts
    or clearing out your filing cabinets. It will make you feel organised and clear your head for other tasks.

    Help someone else who needs advice, whether work-related or otherwise. It’s easier to see a solution for other people’s problems and in doing so you activate the problem-solving part of the brain.

    Read a biography or watch a programme about someone who has succeeded against the odds, whether it’s a sporting hero or a software millionaire. It’ll inspire you to similar heights.

    Write your five-year plan in reverse: think about where you want to be and work backwards to the present to find your next step.

    Talk to people outside your social and professional spheres, whether it’s your partner’s friend or your neighbour. They may have things to say that could challenge your preconceptions and offer fresh perspectives.

    Hit the mattress in the middle of the day with your loved one. Apparently scientists have proved that adrenaline and seratonin – which can promote inspiration – increase sharply during, and remain high after, lovemaking. Best excuse yet.

    (Disclaimer – I didn’t write this list 😉 )

    Always Aim High

    Authentic Edge, Empowering dynamic women entrepreneursAt a sell-out conference a few years back, Sir John Harvey-Jones argued that every company, no matter how small, must aim to be world class in its marketplace. ‘The risks of aiming low’ he said, ‘are far greater than the risks of aiming high’. According to Sir John, the keys to becoming world class include:

     Recognising that, while there is no such thing as a sustainable competitive advantage, competitive disadvantage is self-accelerating. So the only way to stay ahead is to carry on moving faster than everyone else.

     Studying and learning from everybody and anybody, and continuously looking for new ways of doing everything and differentiating ourselves in the marketplace.

     Finding new ways of getting the best from the creativity and energy of our teams. ‘People are capable of incredible things if they are given a chance. Our problem is that we don’t give them that chance.’

     Competing by being smarter, not by being cheaper – because ‘there is no future if the only way we can compete is through cheapness’

    Which of these keys do you already implement in your business, and which might you look at implementing now?

    I’d be interested to hear what you do to stay world class, and what you believe makes a business world class.

    Dancing Lessons For Business

    Lessons from dancing for businessAfter several years without dancing regularly I took myself back to salsa lessons when I was in London, and it prompted me into pondering on a couple of things that seem appropriate in the business world too….

    Firstly, having a buddy. A friend and I uncovered a mutual love of salsa when chatting on the phone, and were both in the space of wanting to get back into it but not “getting round to it” – as you do…………. So we decided to arrange to go together.
    And what this did was make us both accountable, because like anything you haven’t done for a while, the hardest thing is getting yourself there. (The main reason I hadn’t been since I moved away from my regular haunts).

    And this is so true in the business world too, by having a buddy you really serve each other, both in supporting and holding accountable. By connecting regularly with others I stay on track and am regularly getting coaching type input so keeping me moving forward on this journey. I get this from mastermind groups, as well as one to one connections.

    The other thing that has jumped out at me the last couple of weeks is to stay out of your head! Dancing works best when you are in flow, the role of the lady in salsa is to follow the lead of the man, therefore thinking is not required. Yet going to lessons where the moves are quite complicated, for the first time in many years, and being very out of practice, I found myself constantly watching to see what the next move was and make sure I had it right, and one of the guys, quite rightly , told me I didn’t need to watch the instructor, I just needed to keep in time with the music and follow his lead.

    Dancing when you just flow with the music and have fun is easy and smooth, just like being in your heart and following what you love, dancing when you are constantly thinking and worrying what comes next becomes hard work……. hmmm, isn’t that just like our egos? !! How often do you do that in your business life?

    I find I am seeing these metaphors all over the place, more and more. Which I guess is good as it’s a constant reminder of where I want to be compared to where I will be if I stay stuck in that stuff 🙂