How to Fire a Customer

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Is it ok to fire a customer?

Anyone that’s been in business for any length of time has had the unfortunate experience of working with a customer or client that’s a poor fit for their business. Despite your best efforts you just can’t make that customer truly happy. The truth is that sometimes people want to do business with you even though they’re not a good match for your business, and you know in your gut that it’s not going to work.

You may want the income from that customer or you may be worried about confronting them, there are times when the best thing you can do for your business is to let go of customers that you can’t serve well. It benefits your employees, your own mental health, and in the end, it serves the bottom line.

So, how do you know when it’s right to fire a customer? Is there a way to do it without damaging your reputation or creating ill will?

One of the more interesting things about business is that more often than not, your best customers or clients are the easiest to work with and tend to be the most profitable. I’m not sure why that is, but I hear it all of the time from business owners that have figured out that their most profitable customers are usually their favorite customers to serve. These customers aren’t overly price conscious, they don’t need excessive hand holding, they tend to follow the rules, and they’re enjoyable to work with. Some of them even become great friends.

On the other hand, sometimes you get customers that you truly dread hearing from. They beat you up on price, they may be rude to your employees, they are overly demanding, and they are never satisfied. Not coincidentally, they also tend to take up more than their fair share of your time and resources.

When it comes to firing a customer, the first thing to consider is whether you own a part in creating the situation. Do you set expectations in the beginning so the customer knows exactly what to expect? Are you crystal clear on what you can and can’t provide? Spell everything out including such things as how long they can expect to wait to hear from you by email or return phone call, your available hours, and what you will and won’t provide. Don’t fall into a trap of giving too much to satisfy a customer because you weren’t clear in the beginning what the working relationship would be like.

Once you’ve established that you did your best to set expectations, but the relationship still isn’t a good fit, it’s time to decide how to let the customer go without damaging your reputation.

5 Tips for Firing a Customer the Right Way

Tip # 1 – Be Crystal Clear on Your Ideal Customer

Know who your ideal customer is and make sure your marketing attracts the right people. If your marketing is trying to reach everyone, you could be attracting customers that aren’t a good fit. Bring in the right people from the beginning.

Tip # 2 – Take the Emotion Out

Don’t wait until the point you become so frustrated that you react with emotion. Take the time to put your thoughts together and decide what is the best way to communicate with the customer in a professional manner. Write it out or rehearse what you will say in advance. Reacting in the moment when tensions are high rarely leads to a great outcome.

Tip # 3 – Call or Visit

Once you know what you want to say, reach out to the customer by phone or in person. Ending a professional relationship by email doesn’t give the customer a chance to respond. If they didn’t realize there was a problem, it could feel like it came out of nowhere. Severing professional ties is best done when there can be two-way communication.

Tip # 4 – Stand Your Ground

Don’t be surprised if the customer tries to “negotiate” with you. They may realize they need you more than you need them. However, if you’ve already decided that it’s not going to work, it’s best to stick with that decision. Keep the conversation professional and respectfully decline.

Tip # 5 – Finish What You Started

Don’t just abruptly end the working relationship. Have a plan to make the transition as smooth as possible for the customer. Give the customer the time he needs to find an alternative. Provide whatever documentation they might need. Finish what must be finished and wrap things up as neatly as possible.

In the end, letting go of customers that aren’t a good match for your business is not only the right thing for you but also the right thing for the customer who is now free to find another business that is more suitable for their needs. Done the right way, everyone is better off.

My Top 10 Free Online Tools

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Top 10 Free Online Tools

Small business owners are blessed these days with a vast array of online tools to help them grow and manage their businesses.

Here’s a list of some of the tools that I use regularly that I think is an unbelievable bargain at $0 cost to use.

1) MailChimp - There are a number of email marketing programs available in the market at many different price points, but for the small business owner getting started with email marketing with a very limited budget, you can’t beat MailChimp. You can use MailChimp for free for up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month.

2) Wave Accounting - If you’re a solo entrepreneur or a small business with just a couple of employees, then Wave Accounting is a great solution for the entrepreneur that needs to get started keeping their books and getting those receipts out of the shoebox. Wave offers invoicing, basic accounting, and receipt scanning for free.

3) Goo.gl - Google’s free URL shortener will allow you to not only shorten lengthy URL’s for use on social media, but it will also track how many people click on that link and where they’re coming from. This can help you understand which sites and posts are drawing in traffic, and which are not.

4) Canva - Canva is a free graphic design tool that uses an easy drop-and-drag interface to help even the most nonartistic entrepreneur create great looking social media posts, headers, presentations, posters, logos, flyers, and more.

5) Boomerang for Gmail - With the deluge of email that we get every day, it is way too easy to forget to send important emails or lose important emails and contacts. Boomerang lets you schedule when emails are sent, keeps you from losing track of important messages, and reminds you if you haven’t gotten a response from emails that you’ve previously sent.

6) WordPress - This free, open source software can be used to create a website, blog, or app. I absolutely love WordPress for website design because it has tons of features and a large number of plugins to customize your site and increase its functionality. There are affordable themes available if you’re on a budget, but for the entrepreneur looking for something custom, a web designer has almost endless options to choose from. (www.wordpress.org)

7) Google Keyword Planner - Google’s Keyword Planner can help you identify what phrases your customers are searching for online so that you have a better understanding of what to blog about, what keywords to use in your online advertising, and what phrases and words should appear on your website to help you drive more traffic from Google search.

8) HelloSign - If you need to have documents signed by your customers or clients, HelloSign will allow you to send out legal agreements by email and receive back a legally binding, digital signature. You can send up to 3 documents per month with their free version. This is a perfect solution for the business with clients that don’t live nearby.

9)  Grammarly - As a small business owner, you have to do a lot of writing. While spell checkers can pick up basic misspellings and punctuation, they still miss a lot. Grammarly is a plugin that picks up errors that spell checkers leave behind. It works with Microsoft Word, email, and many other programs. There is a free version and a paid version, but the free version will pick up most mistakes.

10) Google Analytics - Do you know who your website visitors are or how many people are visiting? Google Analytics can provide insights on your website visitors like how many people are visiting your website, their age range, sex, where they came from, what pages they visited, and how long they stayed on your site. This information will help you determine what to focus on to get more people visiting your site.

How to Set SMART Goals for Your Business

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If you haven’t been setting goals in your business or you’re convinced that setting goals for your business doesn’t matter, check this out:

In 1979, Harvard surveyed their MBA graduates and found that 84% had no specific goals, 13% had goals but had not committed them to paper, and only 3% had clear, written goals and a plan to accomplish them.

In 1989, Harvard researchers went back to those graduates and found that the 13% that had basic goals were earning twice as much as the 84% that had no specific goals. Amazingly, they also found that the 3% that had clear, written goals were earning 10 times as much as the other 97% combined!

The key to setting goals that get results is to make sure they’re SMART.

1)      Specific – Define your goals with no ambiguous language. This is where you answer the Who, What, Where, When, Why, and Which as it relates to your goals. Who will do what? What do I want to achieve? Where will it take place? Why am I doing this? Which requirements do I have?

 

2)      Measurable – How will you measure your goals? Setting specific goals that can be measured helps keep you accountable. This is the how. How much, how many, and how will you know when your goal is accomplished?

 

3)      Attainable – Your goals should absolutely push you beyond your comfort zone. What new skills do you need to learn or what new processes do you need to put in place to reach a challenging, but attainable goal?

 

4)      Relevant – Does this goal fit in with your immediate and long-term plans? Is it worthwhile and will it meet your needs?

 

5)      Time-bound – Your goals should have a clear time limit. This helps establish a sense of urgency and keeps you on track. Ex: I will complete this step by this date.

 

Once you have your SMART goals established, it’s time to take action and implement your plan!

The Fastest Way to Get Clients

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Did you know that one of the fastest ways to get more customers and clients for your business is through building relationships with influencers?

Influencers are people that have an existing audience or customer base that is in the same target market that you want to reach. They can be other business owners, radio, podcast, or tv hosts, group organizers, heads of organizations, or anyone that has a large network of people that are your target customers

When those influencers promote you to their audience or customers, you get the benefit of transferred trust and much warmer leads. This means faster sales and less marketing expense.

Building relationships with these influencers, however, takes some time and the right approach. The best way to build relationships with influencers is to add value to them first before you ever ask for anything in return. The more relevant you are to them, the more likely they are to want to help you in return.

One way you can create value for them is to make it incredibly easy for them to refer you by offering them something of value to pass along to their audience. Most influencers want to be of service to their community, so they are always interested in easy ways to do that. You could offer a free report, a high-value interview, or a complimentary service that the influencer could pass along to their customers or audience.

If you have an audience or customer base of your own, you may be able to do a promotional exchange. They promote you to their audience and you promote them to your audience.

There are many ways to make yourself relevant enough to an influencer that they will be happy to refer you to their audience or customers. Use your creativity and come up with some ways to create a win-win situation for both the influencer and you.

Do you make this mistake?

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Is your website just an online brochure? Then it’s time to kick it up a notch!

Many solo entrepreneurs have websites that are online brochures. They create websites that give out lots of information about the company and what they offer, but they miss a critical step.

Most people that find your website may be interested in what you have to offer, but unless you have a strategy to capture their attention, and permission to follow up with them later, they’ll likely never go back to your site. This isn’t because they’re not interested in what you have to offer, but often people forget to check back or can’t remember how they got there.

So, for each page of your website, you should ask yourself the following 3 questions.

1)      Who is coming?

2)      What do I want them to do?

3)      How will I get them to do it?

We want to first think about who is coming to each page of our website. You may have pages on your site that are for different audiences. For instance, a business coach may have a services page for entrepreneurs that are interested in their services, but she might also have a speaking page for organizations to find out more about hiring her to speak. That’s two different audiences with different objectives.

So, once we determine who is coming to each page of our website, the next thing we want to decide is what you want them to do. This could be to give you a call or send you an email, but if it’s a first time visitor to your site, they might not be ready for that step. This is why you should have an opt-in form on each page of your site that offers valuable, irresistible information in exchange for their email address. You should have a form on each page of your site. Many entrepreneurs will have a form on their home page, but not the other pages of their site. Visitors won’t always go to the home page of your site, so you have to capture their attention where they are. If you have different audiences for different pages of your site, consider having different opt in forms with different offers. Once you have their email address you can follow up with them over time.

Finally, you really need to think through how you will get the visitors to you site to take that step to call you, email you, or leave their email address. You have to give a really strong, compelling reason for them to do so. Test your offers until you find one that’s really compelling and drives your visitors to want to keep in touch with you. This is key. Please don’t think that’s it’s enough to have a free offer on your website that you haven’t tested. You could be losing a lot of subscribers without even knowing it.

Do you know why people buy?

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Do you know why people buy your services? They’re either looking to solve a big problem or to achieve a big result. However, as business owners, we usually like to talk all about the features of what we sell. It’s only natural. We know how great our services are compared to the competition. We know we offer more value.  We get caught up in telling all about how we work and the details of what we offer.

The problem is that the potential client doesn’t care about the features until she can answer this question for herself. “Does this person help me get what I want?” Until she really understands that you can solve her big problem or deliver a big result for her, the features are meaningless.

This means we have to be able to articulate the big result, or the big problem that we solve in clear, simple language. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve talked to business owners about what they do for their clients and failed to get a straightforward response. I urge you to stop trying to “pretty up” what you do with poetic language.

Whenever someone asks you what you do, just remember that one question in her mind and describe the biggest result that you provide. Forget the elevator speech and just describe the single biggest result that you get for your clients. You’ll be happier because you don’t have to deliver an unnatural sounding elevator speech and the people that you talk to will immediately know if you can help them.

Size Doesn’t Matter

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Ok, I know that’s a little bit of a provocative title, but hear me out. There’s a lot of emphasis in the online marketing community about building a large list. There’s so much emphasis on it that a lot of people worry about their list size and even experience a little bit of list size shame, as if anything under that magic 10,000 number just doesn’t cut it. This can cause some business owners to focus so much on list building that they fail to concentrate on building relationships with the people on their list, as if getting to a certain list size number will somehow solve all of their problems.

Now don’t get me wrong, you can and do need a list of prospects. Systematically building that list should be a priority for you. What should be an even bigger priority is building a relationship with the people on your list no matter how small. You absolutely can do amazing things with a small list if you have a good relationship with them.

I was just speaking to one of my clients about how much she’s grown her business this year. She has quadrupled her income this year. She will finish up this year with over  $116,000 in sales, more than 4 times what she sold last year. In case you’re wondering, this wasn’t just a few high dollar sales to some corporation, this was nose-to-nose, one at a time selling to consumers. She did it while working a fulltime job and she did it with a list of 200. That’s right, just 200 people on her list. How did she do it? She focused on the relationship more than the size of her list.

So if you’re feeling a little bit of list size shame, just remember this. A list of 200 people that you have a good relationship with can outperform a list of 10,000 barely interested people. Also, they’re a whole lot more fun to talk to.

 

 

Are you getting ready?

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I can’t believe how this year has flown by. Just think, soon we’ll be closing out the year and getting ready for the new year. I can’t believe how different things are in my business this year than they were this time last year. It’s amazing how fast things can change when you set an intention and start taking steps.

The process of building a business inevitably involves implementing change. If you’re not happy with the amount of money your business is creating, or if your business is not giving you the lifestyle that you want, it’s time to do something different.

We all know when we need to make a change. Very often, we even know what we need to do to create the changes that we want. The reason we resist the change is fear. Fear of failure and fear of the unknown can keep us firmly in place. The fear can be so strong that it keeps us from taking the next step that we know we should take.

We see how fear plays out in our business when we procrastinate. You’ll recognize it when you find yourself constantly “getting ready”. You stay way too long in a learning phase, waiting until you have all of the information you think you need. You keep tweaking things trying to make them perfect before you release it out into the world. You’re waiting for the “right time” to make your move.

All of these things protect you from the fear, but they won’t move you any closer to your goals. Yes, people will sometimes say “no” to you. Some people might not like what you do. Some things you try might not work. However, some people will happily say yes. Some people will absolutely love what you do. Some things you do will work amazingly well. How will you know if you don’t push through that invisible barrier of fear?

I challenge you to take the next big step to finally achieve your goals. Don’t look back a year from now and wish you’d done something different. You’ll know you’re on the right track when it feels a little scary. It’s supposed to.

If you’d like some help taking that next big step in your business, click HERE to send me an email and tell me what you’d like to achieve

What’s the cost?

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What’s the cost of not getting enough clients?

I’m a numbers girl. Whether it’s sales, conversion rates, opt-in rates, open rates, or click through rates, I love to track numbers. I never was a stellar math student, but I do love benchmarks. It’s how I know I’m making progress.

One of the “fun with math” things I like to do is “what if” scenarios. They can be a real eye opener and motivator. So, let’s take a hypothetical example. Let’s say you made $40,000 in your business this year. You haven’t quite figured out how to get enough clients in your business yet, so you keep trying to figure things out on your own. You’re hoping to get to $100,000 per year but you don’t really have a plan. You’re not sure if you’re on the right track and the clients aren’t coming fast enough.

What if you woke up three years later and you still hadn’t figured it out and $100K is still out of reach? What’s the cost of that?

An extra $60,000 per year over the three years would be $180,000. Let’s say instead that you do accept help to achieve your goal, you reach $100k per year, and you keep your business for just 12 years. That’s an extra $1 million in just 12 years if you factor in a low and reasonable return of just 4% on the extra money. Chances are you wouldn’t stay at $100k per year, though. Once you get your business to $100k, you’ll likely keep growing your business. Over time, the cost of not figuring out how to get clients could be in the millions.

The whole reason we go into our businesses in the first place is to enjoy our lives, spend more time with our families, go on vacation, and splurge a little. Perhaps you have goals like paying off bills or doing some improvements around the house. What’s the emotional cost of not being able to do that? Are you prepared to wake up three years from now not having done those things?

Now is the time. You owe it to yourself. Think of the things you could do.

I can help you get filled to capacity with clients. You just have to take the first step. Send me a message and let me know what you’d really like to achieve in your business.

Can you handle rejection?

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Entrepreneurs face rejection a lot. It’s part of the deal. Even if you’re out there every day being completely giving, open, and honest, you’ll still face some rejection. Everyone won’t buy from you. Not everyone will want what you have to offer. It’s what you do with that rejection that will decide your level of success.

In “The Four Agreements”, Don Miguel Ruiz suggests that whatever happens around us, we have to not take it personally, even if we’re faced with scathing criticism. You take it personally when you inwardly agree with the rejection. This means that you believe when someone says “no” to you that it has something to do with you personally rather than something to do with them.

Your prospects live in their own world. They are dealing with their own fears, frustrations, and beliefs that have nothing to do with you. It’s just the way that they see the world.

Now, having said that, I know that’s really hard to do. As social creatures we are wired to seek approval and avoid rejection. However, it’s really important to not let that cause you to avoid situations where you might be rejected or told “no”. In order to be successful as a solopreneur, you have to put yourself out into the world in a big way. You have to speak your mind, write about what you believe in, and sell your services.

Not everyone will agree with you. Not everyone will buy. That’s okay.

So, what can you do to take the sting out of “no”?

# 1 – Turn off the unsubscribe notifications.

If you get an email every time someone unsubscribes from your list, contact your email marketing software company and find out how to turn those notifications off. Yes, you do need to periodically check your overall unsubscribe rate to make sure it’s not too high, but can you really stop yourself from feeling a little rejected every time you get one of those notices? It’s too much of a mental distraction. Turn them off.

# 2 – Turn the tables.

Instead of wondering what you did wrong and blaming yourself when a prospect says no, try to find out what belief, fear, or frustration they have that’s holding them back and address it directly. Remember, it’s not about you.

# 3 – Delete the nasty.

If you get a nasty email or social media comment from some stranger in internet land with an axe to grind or anger issues, delete it immediately. Don’t respond and don’t save it.

Now, I’m not talking about legitimate complaints, I’m talking about the emails that attack you personally and are clearly from someone wrestling with their own personal demons. Don’t engage in that sort of dialogue no matter how much you want to defend yourself. That’s just what they want from you. Don’t give it to them.

# 4 – Change your mindset.

Each “no” is a step closer to “yes”. Every time someone unsubscribes from your list, you know that your list just got a little more awesome because the people that value what you have to say are still there.

Each time a prospect says “no” is an opportunity to ask questions and find out more about what your prospects really need and want, making you a better marketer.

When you can reframe rejection in this way, you’ll understand that rejection is just a way to move you closer to building a better tribe of friends, followers, and clients. After all, isn’t that what you really want?