Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heartache & Heroism In Small Business


A recent discussion with a friend who is a life coach brought to my attention the plight of a mutual colleague. As is often the case, this person was struggling in their business, and especially struggling with a feeling of overwhelm and despondency, that is very common and yet is strangely missing from the mountain of articles and blogs written about small business each week.

There are a couple of things here that are interesting, not just on the circumstances of the distress, but in the actions to move out from 'overwhelm' - to reaching out for help. This is a small step with potential for big consequences, and it is in this pivotal moment sometimes, that action can lead to decisions that change lives. Sometimes for the better.

Getting Unstuck

What makes for the impetus to ask for help?

Sometimes it is the presence of someone who generates an air of 'approachability' and makes available the context for the person in crisis to feel able to confide. In this case it is certainly so. In the absence of such a person being available, many will just continue to 'bottle it up' and continue their downward spiral. This is a bit of a worry when looking at it from a strategic point-of-view.  Again others might seek help from someone without the ability to listen objectively, or offer constructive input.

Rather than leaving it to chance, a better approach might be to set in place a kind of 'early warning detector' to use.  When we are heading toward feelings of overwhelm, at the heart is often a belief that we sometimes carry around, that we should not ask, or not even need to ask, for help. Especially in business.

For our 'early warning detector' to be effective, we need to align it with the belief that yes, we can ask for help should we feel the need and that asking for help is a good thing to do.

Then of course, we need to have someone to ask, so preparing the ground for this, might be surveilling the environment and making a list of people who could be in a position to help in some way, should the need arise. Scoping them out while things are going well lets us be better prepared, for when we are not feeling quite so resourceful, or thinking quite so clearly.

Who do we know who can listen objectively?
(A sounding board sometimes is all that may be needed)

Who do we know who has knowledge around this matter?

Who do we know who has influence in a way that would help in this situation?

And if we don't have anyone like this who we know...

Who should we get to know who could be a help in this case?

People set up a business and very often put everything on the line in the hope that it will be successful. Sometimes the thing that is missing is having good support from outside the business to help when we face something that is outside our ability to resolve, or are just feeling 'stuck'.

There is help available. Finding and accessing that help is good for us to do and importantly, it is good for our business.

We can learn from these occasions and become more resilient and open up a variety of additional resources and skills that we can use to drive our business forward.

That's what heroism looks like in small business.

Thinking Of Getting A Business Coach?

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach & Social Media Development
Design Business Engineering

Online Coaching Available All Locations!
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Networking Imposters

Okay it seems like time to raise an issue that's been on the periphery forever but never seems to be brought into clear focus or get a mention. Networking is about more than just following people, or getting on their mailing list or showing up as a connection.

Networking - For What Purpose?

There is really only one reason that people network. To enhance their business opportunities. Yet the reality is that a lot of what passes for networking is about swapping cards and telling people about what we do. Often... and I might say most often... to people who are not there to advance your opportunities, only their own.

You see the problem.

Without a willingness to be of value to others, we are pretending to be networking. If we are not genuinely interested and willing to find some way to add value to those with whom we are networking, then we are really impersonating networkers and that leads us to being little more than networking imposters.

Imagine a network or an event for networkers... where 90% of the people have no plan or strategy for helping other members present.

What would you call that? I call it a waste of time. And it is happening at network after network, at event after event.

Lots of glad-handling. Lots of talking big. Precious little actual energy going into taking some proactive steps to advance the relationship in a practical way.

I don't know the reason for this lack of action but I have a hunch that for many, the reason is that there is no clear strategy for people to take to do something useful to advance their networking relationships.

Even in highly structured networking groups, where we are called to remember to "give first" this can often play out as "You give first" and that's really not the intention.

There are some myths that get trotted out too, from time to time.

A favourite Grand Myth, is that of "The Big Opportunity"

People love to tell you about their wonderful plans and how you can be involved, and you can be part of it too... Just spend your time getting involved in helping them to bring their grand plan to life and you'll be there in the thick of it when it comes to fruition.

Guess what?

No you won't.

And the chances are neither will they.

There will probably be nothing come of this and in the meantime you'll have wasted untold hours putting effort in to someone else's dream for nothing.

If what you do is valuable, then it is worth getting paid for. Something.

There is no business that you need to support above your own business.

That's the first rule to set for yourself.

Business Or Charity?

If they have nothing to pay you, in money or in kind that is valuable to you, then consider this a donation to charity.

It will be your donation to charity, and if you think this worthy to donate to, then go ahead, but don't for a moment confuse it with business.

Or expect a return on your investment.

And of course, this applies to you too. Don't expect people to work for you on a promise. Be better than that. If your business or your idea needs help to get going, pay the money. That's just a cost of doing business.

Of course I would... BUT

Perhaps the greatest networking myth of all is this one.

"I have to get to know you before I can refer business to you."

While that is true to a point, we don't want to refer people to known crooks, it is also a great excuse to do nothing.

How do you really get to know how good someone is?

You do some business with them or introduce them to someone who might be a good connection for them or might need their services.

Until you do that, it doesn't matter what you know about them, you won't know how they handle that situation, till you give them one to handle.

Until you do that, nothing happens.

When you collaborate effectively and with full intention, and actions to match and when you all do that... nothing can stop you.

What strategy will you use?

Considering Business Coaching?

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach & Social Media Development
Design Business Engineering

Online Coaching Available All Locations!
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Sunday, July 25, 2010

Social Media For Business Survey

Social Media and the way the online world works is a hot topic right now but for many business owners it remains a bit of a mystery and can seem like an overwhelming proposition for a small business to start to use as a regular part of their operating strategy.

Is it good for business?

Do you know if your website is working for you, as well as it might?

What do you believe about how social media will affect your business?

Rather than guess what business owners are thinking, I've set up a survey so you can tell me what you think about social media and your local business, and more importantly, have your say about what worries you or excites you or has you a bit confused about the whole thing.

I welcome your feedback and I will be posting the results when I have a good sample of responses. Please pass this link to any business owners you know who have expressed an interest or are confused about social media and business so they can air those concerns too.

 Go To Social Media For Business Survey

To thank you for participating, I've included a section where you can request my
7 Steps To A Healthy Growing Business as a gift. Just check the box for that and I'll send you details on how to download this report.

Talk To A Business Coach.

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach & Social Media Development
Design Business Engineering

Online Coaching Available All Locations!
Follow Lindy At These Social Networks
Contact Me LinkedinFacebookNingTwitter

 Need to get marketing?
Download your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Building Your Mailing List For Business

Have you ever thought "I must do that!" and yet never get around to it?

I find that has been the case for me with things like sending out cards to people I've met to thank them for their time when I've enjoyed meeting them, or just to say 'hi' to someone I have not seen for a while. Definitely I should have sent more cards to my mother, in between my visits to see her, when she was in aged care before she died. (People in care are so bored and a regular card would be like a miracle to many).

Keeping in touch with clients and customers is often overlooked in the rush to keep up with the 'urgent stuff' that comes up in a business on any day. And yet this attitude to how we keep in touch with our customers is a key to letting them know that we appreciate their business and we care to keep a relationship with them.

Using Email

Newsletters are one way that we can keep our clients informed of topics that will interest them around the business we are in, and additionally, to make available special promotions just for them. Too often, businesses create promotions to reward people who have never supported them, and yet do nothing for the customers who come back time and again and show their loyalty and support for the business. Sending a newsletter is a relatively easy thing to do and to send it professionally means that you need to use a service that is geared to proper distribution and has all the elements necessary to make it easy to keep on the good side of regulation aimed at stopping spam. This means amongst other things, that there is an opt-in, an easy way for people to opt-out or unsubscribe and that you have tools available to be able to monitor how many of the newsletters are opened, what links they click on and ensure that your list is always clean and up to date. As well as keeping in touch with clients, an opt-in box (special code to add to your website and emails) lets others know about your business and offers and lets you spread word of your business even further.

Some Email Tips:

Don't use Outlook for mailing your newsletter.
Don't send your email as a .pdf file or attachment
Do have an easy way for people to opt-in
Do start building your mailing list
Do collect email contact details from customers as a way to reach them
Never automatically put people on your mailing list without permission
Create a template so you can easily fill the different section for a consistent look
Make it easy to read, and not too long! Consider a short summary and links to more detail.

Building Your Mailing List

Building a list is an important step for any business, and it is a big deal to have a list of subscribers who have opted-in to agree to receive your newsletter. This should be valued as it is an asset to your business and one that you can build over time, and can be a combination of customers as well as people who have never bought from you yet but may in the future. You can build a mailing list if you have a retail business, a manufacturing or service business, or even if you are a work-from-home-mom. What matters is that you build your list and people with an interest in what you do are able to find you and be kept up-to-date.

Using Snail Mail

While many people are taking up computers and social media... or perhaps because so many people are now using technology... something tangible that we can hold in our hand and read from paper suddenly has a new novelty. Not everyone is using online communication so remember to consider those people in your business network, customer database and personal relationships who would like to get something from you in a way they can touch. A quality piece of mail, written to the individual has the potential to be a very compelling item. It is also - if crafted with care - something that WILL get opened and something that will often be kept. Sometimes for an amazing length of time.

The Greeting Card Is In The Mail

Even though I have known for years this is a good thing to do, I have still been bad at getting to the shops to buy a card... finding a card I liked enough to want to send, then getting to the post office to send it out in good time. Just too many hoops to jump through and why I prefer to use an online service to send out cards via the post. I can personalise them to suit me, and make sure the message is completely on target and I don't have to bother going to the post office to send them out, or be limited to doing it in business hours. It is not uncommon for me to be sending out cards at 2am for mailing. ;-)

Some people who send Christmas cards and birthday cards to clients have told me what response is like when they speak to someone who may have received a card on their birthday - and it was the only one they got! But don't just stick to the Usual times for cards. Send a message 'Just Because' or to welcome a new customer or to thank them for something. Or just because you know they are having a hard time with something. They will appreciate it and you will too.

Your connection with your marketplace is a vital component your business needs to market effectively. And since marketing is to your business, like breathing is to your body, it is worth spending some time to create a strategy for doing this well, and with intention.

And it's a lot of fun too!

Your marketing plan should include actions and strategy for your communications with customers and prospective customers.

ACTION: What do you need to do now to get your mailing list up and enrolling people?

Get started!

Send Your First Email Newsletter Today - AWeber Communications

PS. Let me declare I have an interest here, but if you are looking for solutions, you can test drive Aweber here for email marketing and this great greeting card service for sending cards. This one has option for retail or wholesale. And if you need to get cracking with your marketing plan download your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook!

Thinking Of Getting A Business Coach?
Lindy Asimus

Lindy Asimus
Business Coach
Mobile: 0403 365855

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Actionbites Blog The Power Of A Story

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Power Of A Story

A story has the abililty to convey a complex array of concepts and really has the power to affect those who experience it, if it is well constructed and aimed well.

Presentation is also important, so that the message can get through with the least amount of resistence.

Here's a nice visual on the topic from

Thinking Of Getting A Business Coach?Lindy AsimusDesign Business EngineeringGet Help For Your BusinessDownload your free 24 Page Action Plan Marketing Workbook! Subscribe to Actionbites Blog