August 4, 2014
How many times have you had this conversation with your kids:You: “Here try this” Your kid: “No, I hate that” “Have you ever tried it?” “No” “Well then how do you know you hate it, if you’ve never tried it?” “I just know”
We all have them: preconceived ideas about people, places, and things. Maybe we decide we don’t like someone before they ever utter a single word, or immediately dismiss a new idea based on who-knows-what, or refuse to try snail larva (is there even such a thing as snail larva???) because it just sounds disgusting. We all do it; it’s primal and instinctive in us – part of our survival instinct. We used to (and maybe still do) depend on being able to make these unconscious snap judgments to sense and ward off danger.
But now, in the 21st century how often do these preconceived ideas hold us back from trying something that could be fun, tasty, or profitable? (Who knows maybe snail larva tastes like chocolate, with a fraction of the calories!)
I started questioning this at a trade show in San Francisco recently. As the Marketing Consultant for the event I walked around talking to exhibitors and taking pictures to post on Social Media. I approached one vendor and asked if I could take their picture for a Facebook or Website post and their response was, “NO”. Taken aback, I replied, “Really??? Why not?”
“No, I’m not comfortable with that.”
WHAT? I was dumbfounded. You aren’t comfortable with what exactly? Promoting your business? Getting more exposure? Potentially reaching thousands of new customers? WTH? (Ok, in all fairness, maybe they were former mob informants and part of the witness protection program. Or maybe they felt they were having a bad hair day.. Who knows?)
This surprising response got me thinking: we all do it. Everyone judges things before trying them. Then I started wondering: what things am I judging without trying that could be holding me back in business? Or what fears or insecurities or doubts do I have about things that are preventing me from being the success I could be? Then I realized, I can probably name 10 off the top of my head – how about you?
So maybe it’s time we get honest with ourselves about these things. Inventory them. Examine them. And get real. I’m not saying this small business should be on Facebook and I’m not saying that every pre-judgment, concern, or fear is unwarranted. What I am saying is that as business owners we need to be aware of these things to make sure they aren’t holding us back form true success in business.
So I encourage you to write down the things about marketing that you judge, condemn, or dislike and then examine your real reasons for not trying them. What scares you the most may be what you need the most!
January 2, 2014
We’ve all done it: taken on that client we knew we should walk away from. But whatever the reason, we took their money, did the work, and regretted every second of it. We constantly felt like we weren’t doing enough, our resources were stretched, and our profit margins eroded to practically nothing.
For many of us, we only did this once. For others, we do it again and again. Why? I think it’s important to dig deep and ask ourselves this important question. However, if you’re faced with a new project or client and your gut is doing a yes-no push and pull, I’ve created a checklist to help you out.
- Their values don’t match your company’s values. If you’re faced with an opportunity to work with a company or a person who embodies everything you stand against, you might want to reconsider taking the job. Are you going to be able to sleep at night? Are you going to feel like you’re selling out? I say it’s best to work with people and companies whose values align with yours to avoid any internal conflicts or employee morale issues that could lead to stress and doubt.
- They treat you like a vendor and not a partner: They’re always late, they cancel, come unprepared, or don’t bother to show up for meetings. These things are signs that they don’t respect you or your time. If they don’t respect you now, they’ll certainly not respect you once they start paying you.
- They don’t appreciate your value. They’re nickel and diming you to death over the contract or sale price or they keep asking for you to throw things in for free. If they don’t understand your value now, they probably never will and you’ll constantly feel like you have to justify your fees.
- The work isn’t really what you do. It’s a great contract worth a lot of money, but it’s not really what you do, so you won’t’ be as effective as when working with the right partner/project. It’ll take extra time and resources to make it work and you and your staff will end up feeling ineffective and frustrated. Do everyone a favor and walk away.
- You’re feeling desperate. Every business owner has been there! The bank account’s looking a little low and the pipeline is pretty empty so you’re willing to take on anything just to get paid! But that nightmare job staring you in the face is not the answer!!! Walk away!!! NOW! This one requires a good honest gut check and a little faith. But trust me, giving up the wrong client and waiting for the right one is always the right thing to do. For one thing, if you’re spinning in circles trying to make the wrong client happy, you’re probably missing out on opportunities with the right prospects!
The bottom line is, like anything else in life, if it just doesn’t feel right, don’t do it! Walk away! If you follow these guidelines, I promise you’ll be happier, your employees will be happier, your good customers who value will be happier, and your profits will soar!
Do you have any other signs that it’s time to walk away? If so, please share them with us!
October 31, 2013
Whether you’re a business owner like me, an independent consultant or you’re responsible for a company’s bottom line – our jobs are really hard. We have a ton of responsibility. We work really long hours – and even when we’re not working, we’re thinking about it. And for those of us who are business owners, on top of all that, we have no security net; no regular pay check, no vacation days, no sick leave, no 401k…. nothing. Yes, it’s really f****ing hard!
And lately, things have been especially difficult. The whole country seems to be in a funk – and who can blame us? With health care reform confusion, government shut-downs and a congress that acts like a bunch of spoiled 4 year olds, who feels secure? No one is spending, and we’re all feeling it.
Despite all this economic and political turmoil, as the entrepreneurial go-getters we are, we tend to blame ourselves when things get tough. And I’m going to share a secret with you – I’m no different. My critical demons sit on my shoulder and taunt: “You’re not doing enough; you need to be selling more, speaking more, writing more, emailing more, networking more…More. More. More”. Honestly, it’s exhausting.
We work extremely hard for every customer and every sale. We know the big wins don’t come every day. In fact, they can be few and far between. So when I got an email this morning from a contact I made last week, that can potentially lead to some business, asking ME when we can meet (instead of me having to chase him down), I took a moment to recognize the victory – and I celebrated. I got up from my chair, voiced a victorious “YES!!!” (Even though only my dog Capone was here to hear it), and I even did a little happy dance. I won! It was small, but it was an accomplishment! This contact saw something in me – and Fortune Marketing Company – that made him want to follow up with me– I didn’t have to chase him down and beg him to meet with me – that’s HUGE! Yet all-too-often we miss these. We take them for granted, we move on too quickly. We forget to stop and recognize it for what it is – an accomplishment - a shimmer of hope amid a sea of let-downs and disappointments!!! A WIN!!!
As small business owners the big wins can be few and far between. We’re not going to land every new contract, nail every presentation, or reach all of our sales goals. So it’s absolutely crucial that we celebrate even the smallest accomplishments. If we don’t get in the practice of recognizing and celebrating the little victories, it’s too easy to get down on ourselves and feel like we’re not accomplishing anything while we’re waiting for that next big win.
So if you need a win – here are 5 things you can celebrate:
- You didn’t give up today. It was hard, but you kept on going! Give yourself a pat on the back!
- You didn’t let a client down today. Despite all your stresses and struggles, your clients are happy! Congratulations on a job well done!
- A new colleague / strategic partner asked to meet with you (because he/she obviously admires and/or respects you). Wow, that’s awesome!
- You did something that took you out of your comfort zone because you knew it would be good for business. Way to go, you brave soldier you!
- You did something kind for someone else today. You’re busy and stressed, but you still took the time to volunteer, make an introduction, or give someone a compliment. You rock! Celebrate it!
What are some of the small victories you celebrate? Please share them with us, so we can all recognize our own accomplishments. After all, being a business owner is F***ing hard and we could all use more reasons to celebrate!