Ready to launch your business? Take a look at my 5-point check list to be sure:
- Build awareness of your business before you launch, ideally, three months before. Start telling people and build your social media profiles.
- Have a soft launch and receive some valuable feedback, especially if you are starting a consumer business. If your market is business, ask people you know to try it out for you. This will enable you to build some case studies and much valued testimonials.
- Work out who your customer and how to find them. Build a customer base by developing a mailing list. You can even announce the launch with a countdown to opening day, another great way to build awareness.
- Get your pricing right before you launch by getting feedback, seeing what the competition charge and checking all this against what will make your business sustainable.
- Plan a launch party! Invite friends, influencers, bloggers and press.
Galleries and shops are a great way for makers to gain exposure by having their work displayed and potentially sold. They need quality stock in their shops that they can sell at a profit and by having your products on a sale or return basis, it eases the burden on their cash flow.
Here are my pointers for SUCCESS in selling your products to them:
S ubscribe to their emails – find out everything you can about them so you know when to approach them, how and what you can offer.
U nderstand they receive lots of inquiries so do your research before you contact them so you can sound knowledgeable.
C ompetition – you are competing with hundreds of artists so always be thinking what makes you stand out? Your service, packaging, delivery promise, follow up or simply the product?
C reate – make sure you have enough stock of the products you promoting to the galleries. Or if bespoke, just make sure you have a variety of products for them to choose what they would like to stock.
E xplore who will stock your work regularly. What a great excuse for a day trip to the seaside and rural little towns that so often have gift shops, coffee shops and little galleries that will sell your work.
Find out what they stock and if you build a rapport, approach the owner there and then. Or at the very least leave a card and/or small sample to leave and contact them within 48 hours.
S ocial Media – while you’re engaging with potential direct customers here, also learn about potential stockists who can be wholesale customers. Making friends and supporting others is the fastest route to success here.
S ales – after all of that hard work, take action. Call them and use the famous AIDCA technique to find out who their audience is, what they need and can give that to them.
My favourite definition of sales is ‘a transfer of enthusiasm’. I learnt this many years ago, when working in the media industry and from that point I realised that if I love what I have to offer, it’s much easier to espouse its benefits!
Since then, I’ve been encouraging clients to utilise their enthusiasm as their main sales tool. That and the understanding to only sell something that the customer needs. Fulfilling a solution to a problem is likely to result in a customer – or friend – for life. Whereas a quick sale is just that, a lot of effort for a one-off sale that is unlikely to bring you repeat business or recommendations.
The Pain/Pleasure Principle
People want a solution to their pain or to take pleasure in your product. No good can come from selling snow to the eskimos – there is no need there!
So how do you get a conversation to the point where your enthusiasm for your product/service can come through? Here are the four simple steps:
1. Get to the point at the start
People like hearing about themselves, it’s just human nature.
Break the ice with something related to them - perhaps mention how you met, where you came across their name, that you saw them cited in a newspaper – anything that mentions them. A long drawn out chat about the weather is never going to go down well with a busy, prospective customer!
So practice your one line that will gain their attention to open the conversation.
2. Put yourself in their shoes
Remember, it's all about their needs. Does what you have to offer benefit the person you are pitching to? Do they aspire to own your product? If it’s an organisation, are you speaking to the right person? Please research before you make contact.
Although the best way to find out their need is by asking them!
Ask them a couple of key open questions about their needs or wants in relation to your business. You will gain more respect from your prospective customer if you take the time to ask them what they need and see if you can fulfil their wish. If the answer is no, walk away. If you are pleasant throughout, you are more likely to have them recommending you to someone else who will benefit!
By far this will be the longest part of the conversation, possibly up to 90%. This is about you asking the right questions and them opening up to you.
3. Paint the picture
Once you have a need, give them a concise picture of what they will gain when they buy from you. There are features and then there are benefits – they need the benefits.
Note: There is no point in selling denim jeans to someone who only wears tailored clothes. Just as it's senseless trying to sell website services to a company that offers this as a provision!
4. Take action
End the conversation with your plan of action. If there is a potential need, are you going to follow up with a proposal on an email or arrange a face to face meeting?
After all that work you have put into the call, come away with something that both parties commit to that will move the conversation forward. At the very least, you may pick up a name of someone else who would love to know all about you!
Would you like some tailored tips that will work on your business? I'd love to work with you! Email me or tweet @RickieWrites
I recall the time when the reason worked long hours was because I had to. Cut forward ten years and now I happily don't have to work every waking hour, but I want to! Now I have to force myself to step away from my laptop as I have too many ideas I want to put into practice.
I need to give my body and brain a break!
So here are four reasons why I make sure I take a break from those fun but tiring, seven day weeks:
- Ideas. I know I say I have too many ideas but sometimes, going away just means clearing my head of old ideas to make way for new ones. Every two months, I take myself away somewhere. That will be a trip abroad, a short UK break or occasionally, just a day out to another city. I still work but it's more about plotting and planning rather than regular activities.
- Refresh. For this, I need an actual holiday and I do this at least 2-3 times year. For my birthday, my tradition is to wake up in a new city and I never work on my day! I may do bits around the big day but the out-off-office is definitely on for this one. It's when I take a proper holiday, even for 4 or 5 days, that I return most inspired and looking forward to getting home.
- Family time. Christmas, in fact the whole of December is for family and friends. Traditionally this is because like August, December is a quiet month for business. Although in today's 24/7 culture that's no longer strictly true, I try and have less commitments during this wonderful month so I can catch up with as many people as I can. Then I go away for Christmas abroad plus a whole week away and I'm ready for a fabulous new year!
- Productivity. Yes sometimes I just need to get away from my regular home and coffee shop work environment and have a different view out of the window. It's kind of a break but I get lots done without any meetings, consultancy or training sessions and I do this every bank holiday. So despite having just come back from a holiday in Prague last summer, I headed out to Edinburgh for the August bank holiday with a list of things I want to do, albeit with a different view!
What are your tips for making sure you stay fresh and energised? Please share them below or contact me on @RickieWrites
If you’re in business, it’s a great idea to get out and about to meet fellow business owners. It gets you away from your desk/studio/laptop and you learn from others. Admittedly, when I started out back in 2004, it was no fun for me until I learned the following tips.
It’s so much easier now with social media so as I once wrote, use the internet to get off the internet! Here are the tips that work for me:
- Walk into a room smiling. Smile at everyone; the staff, the people you pass coming in just in case you see them later and everyone that's already at the event. A smile is the most inviting sign and people will gravitate towards you.
- Use social media to find out who you (vaguely) know that will be at the event and agree to look out for each other. Mentioning what you are wearing will help!
- Ask the host to introduce you to someone.
- Ask the first person you speak to introduce you to someone else.
- When you do speak to someone, a great conversation opener is ‘who can I can introduce you to?’ This doesn't just mean people in the room. You can connect them to your contact then and there via social media or drop them an email after the event. Another connection made!
If you have any other ice breakers, do share them below or vial @RickieWrites!
Keep the tweet short Remember when people RT the message includes your Twitter name. Under 100 characters is fantastic as people can RT from any platform without having to edit to fit.
Also, when people read it quickly they can make a faster decision on whether to retweet.
Say something topical
A tweet that includes words such as ‘breaking news’ or ‘NEW’ draws attention.
Or tweet about something very topical (or trending).
Include a link
Adding a link gives the tweet value as people can click for more information. Remember to shrink all your links to keep your tweet short!
Tweet at the right time
When is the right time?
That will depend on what your business is and when your following is watching. Safe to say, in most cases, tweeting late at night is unlikely to reach a lot of people. There are services available that will tell you when your followers are most active.
Run a competition that includes the line, RT this to enter!
What gets you most engagement on Twitter? Do add your comments below or tweet @BusinessFaves.
Is greed still good or are there more important aspirations?Do we still regard the old stereotype of having an abundance of money/cars/homes means success? Or does happiness equal success?
Is the freedom to choose the life you want to live the ultimate luxury? Be that a family life, living in the country or a life of adventure - or all three!
Yes, financial stability is important however, here is what makes me love life, every minute of it:
→The Fun/Fun balance
Being able to do whatever I want to do every day is my definition of happiness, which ultimately equal success. Waking up and looking forward to the day, whichever the day is, fired up with ideas (too many in my case!) is what inspires me to get up and going. My aim is to love what I do90% of the time – the other 10% is dealing with finances or fixing technical errors, never fun for me but obviously a joy if that’s what you love to do!
→Being able to travel
Travel is my main motivation, outside the need to eat, be warm etc! Over the years I’ve changed my business it works around my life and love of travel rather than having the other way around. In recent years, I’ve put my lifestyle first and everything else around that. It’s amazing how much more successful I feel now!
→Surrounded by fabulous people
Collaborating with and mixing only with people I want to is vital to my success and well-being. I strive to choose my clients, my colleagues and partners and surround myself with enthusiastic, happy and positive people.
→Fresh coffee. Good cake
Do I need to explain that one?!
People often comment on how lucky I am to do what I love, live where I want, travel and be who I want to be. I’ll share what I say to them – luck has nothing to do with it! We make our own luck and can change anything about our lives, anytime. If we want to badly enough.
What’s your definition of success? Have you already achieved success without knowing it?
As a former recruiter and hirer, I know that I spent no more than 20-30 seconds on a CV before I either rejected it or kept it in the ‘read’ folder. This is what made me keep hold of it: Call me
Ensure all your contact details are on, most vitally email address and mobile phone number. Address is not as important if space is tight but town/city and county is. Make it easy for us to contact you or we’ll just move on to the next person.
Mind the gap
Ensure the potential employer knows precisely what you have been doing for the last six years at least. If you have been unemployed for more than a month or two, say so, or better still say something like ‘undertook online Microsoft training while actively seeking employment’ or ‘volunteered to gain additional experience while seeking employment.’
It makes the CV easier and quicker to read which increases your chance of being put on the interview pile.
Be a Star
Under each job, add bullet pointed list of achievements. Find at least 2 for each role and up to about five looks good. Think hard about what you achieved in that role, especially anything that can be quantified by saving the organisation time or money. Even if you were the ‘social secretary’ that organised events that gave your colleagues the feel-good factor at work.
Stick to two
Really, just do that.
Book a Get AHead in your career session
Call time!Give yourself a deadline for each task and once the timer goes off, switch over to the next job.
- Plan your day, or whatever time you have, for the important tasks
- Give each task a time slot
- Include time slots for social media, emails, finances, telephone conversations and other essentials depending on the requirements of your business. I tend to check in with emails every 2-3 hours.
Needless to say, turn off phones/email/social media notifications during this productive period. This will give you absolute focus and you’ll have lots ticked off your to-do list. Promise!
To give you an example, here’s one of my laptop based mornings:
Urgent tasks will always get done so try this method for important projects, all those items on your to do list that you know will help grow your business in the long-term that get pushed to the bottom. Bring them to the top and watch your business grow!
If you finish early, try to move right on to the next one without distraction. Place any unfinished tasks into the next ‘productive period’.
Mix it up
Blend what you love with the vitals.
We love what we do but there are always joyless tasks to do. For me it’s anything to do with finances!
So how about mixing up the tasks? After you’ve completed a less enjoyable task, follow with something you relish. It will sure make you complete that first task faster too!
Work out what’s best for you; some people like to get all the tough assignments completed on one day, others like to just handle one a day and spread them out, but do alternate them with those you love.
Share the load
I’m a big fan of beg, borrow or barter. Is there a fellow business owner you canteam up with and swap tasks? Perhaps one person loves excel spreadsheets (where are they?!) and another prefers the joy of designing posters or the creative work on websites?
The result is two happy people who have the fun of doing the tasks they love and helping another business grow! A beautiful friendship is formed!
Whether it’s a coffee after a tough morning on WordPress or a new tablet to celebrate a major new client – presents are good!
More often it’s the simple pleasures of a good biscuit with your coffee or a hot lunch. Whatever keeps you going, have that as your own personal enticement to get those tasks completed.
Social media is in the main, free to use so it’s obvious we are all going to use this as part of our marketing strategy. Planning the times you set up your messages and engage with your potential customers is key.
The big tip here is to use a social media platform such as Hootsuite or Tweetdeck. These allow you to schedule messages♦and have multiple accounts on one platform so you can see and manage at a glance.
♦Of course, as I always advise, use scheduled messages with caution as people like to see that you are available to engage with after you’ve published an update.
Do you already use any of these? Do share your thoughts by adding your comments below!
Coworking is an excuse to work with other people for those who normally fly solo. As a aerial co-worker, here are my guidelines for perfect harmony.
- Background noise is a plus of co-working, the energy is contagious, but if it’s quiet and you’re taking a long phone call, it’s a good idea to step away from the group for a while so as to not disrupt conversation or their work flow.
- Similarly, if you need some uninterrupted time to focus, a subtle way of letting people know is putting some noise-reducing headphones in your ears, even if you’re not listening to anything. Just indicate when you back in the fold.
- If you’re say you going to attend, turn up as people will be expecting you.
- Make a point of saying hello to everyone, find out what their needs are and see if you can help or introduce them to anyone. If someone's helped you out, the simplest way of saying thanks (and making friends) is to offer to buy them a coffee!
- Keep the place tidy and just take up the space you need and everyone will get along famously!
What does your 'out of office' message say about you? We’re back soon!
This one says everything we need to know:
- Reason for out-of-office
- Duration that you’re away
- If you’ll check emails at all ie once a day
- When you are back and ready to respond
The permanent out of office
Can be good if you really cannot answer on a daily basis but really, is it good practise to avoid responding within 24 hours? If you must use, how about adding alternative contact details instead?
Out of Office on long after return
If your email system doesn’t allow you to set start and end dates for your out–of-office to be on, how about putting a reminder in your calendar to turn it off on the day you return? We know you’re back!
Lack of action point
- What should we do if we can’t get hold of you?
- Is there an alternative contact or any information?
- Does your alternative contact know their name has been given?
- We’re too busy to answer your email.
Great, so you don’t want my business then?
What’s your idea of a great out-of-office message? Do share it below or tweet us on @CraftySkills1
Once upon a time, emails were a revolution. They single handily diminished the need for time consuming phone calls, short texts and slow snail mail. Now we have so many other methods of communication in the form of social media, emails have a hard time. We hear of people battling with their in-box like it’s a task they need to do before they get on with more productive work. Surely they are a means to get work done? To me, emails mean engagement, business growth, productivity or delivering an efficient service. So here are some tips to help you learn to love email again!
- Set up folders, tabs or labels. This enables you to pop emails you don’t need to react to immediately away from your inbox, out of eyesight. That leaves you with a clear, inviting inbox.
- If it takes less than a minute or so, respond to the email immediately and delete if you no longer need it. If it takes more than two minutes, set up a reminder to act on it at a realistic time through your email system.
- Have a system; for the emails that don’t need an immediate response pop them into folders or mark with colour coded labels. You could do this by project or the day of the week you will work on them. If you just need to keep confirmations emails as proof of purchase or a booking, it can go in another folder so you have for reference until it’s OK to delete. You can do this automatically from some email platforms.
- Make the delete button your friend.
If you don’t need the email, delete as soon as you see it. If your settings are correct, it will be in your ‘delete’ folder if you change your mind. It’s all about keeping your inbox as clear as possible to make you more productive. How about setting yourself a goal of how many emails remain in your inbox when you close down for the day?!
- Ensure your emails are synchronised with your phone so you can maximise time spent in queues, waiting for the bus or on the train. Imagine how many emails you can work on if, on average you are ‘waiting’ even just for an hour a week?
- How many of those newsletters do you really read? If you do, pop them into a folder and read them say once a week with a nice drink and really make that time productive by learning from them. If you find you routinely delete the newsletter or just don’t read it, unsubscribe. It’s helpful to tell the sender the reason why if they ask as, in future, they may send them less frequently and with more relevant content.
How about unsubscribing from one newsletter a day to begin with? Think of how much time you will be saving by this time next week!
- Finally, the most recent tip I have put into practice is to only refresh emails to come through when I’m ready to receive rather than them coming through constantly. No notifications or flashing lights to distract you giving you complete control of your emails!
What are your email management aims? Do share them with us below!
If you need help with managing and loving emails again, book a one2one email management workshop with Rickie here and you’ll soon be back to growing your business! For help with choosing the right email system and other digital tools to make you more efficient talk to Tim from indieLove here
If you work mainly on your own, co-working is a great way to exchange ideas, share knowledge and meet people. If an excuse was needed, it’s the perfect one to get out and have some banter! Here are our top tips to ways to make it fun and productive and be the go-to co-worker:
- Plan your work for co-working days. What short, simple, tasks can you do that will withstand interruptions and background banter? Research, writing your action plan or goals or creating new website contact are great jobs to do with people around you to help. Or use it as a day to catch up on responding to and clearing all your emails.
- Being able to brainstorm ideas in real time is enough to spur you on to take that new project forward. Now people know about it, they will be asking you for an update, encouraging you to doing it!
- If you’re spending a few hours at the co-working venue, take your meetings there. It breaks up the day, stretches your legs and is an excellent opportunity to fit in those coffee-catch-ups with people who want to meet with you all in one. Bonus, you don’t have to go outdoors or make the coffee!
- This is also the place to ask questions; need an app to help organise your time better? Someone here will know one and not only recommend it, but happily show you how to use it, saving you time and sealing a new friendship into the bargain.
- Lock in to your tasks in hand and only get up to get another drink/lunch/bathroom break when you deserve it!
- Coworking is a fantastic way of keeping abreast of business news, contacts and technology.
Moe information about the co-working event Birmingham Jelly can be found here.
To improve your time-management skills and work productively, book a one2one and learn how!
A few weeks ago we featured fantastic 5-9er Yvonne from Kake and Cupkakery. [gallery type="circle" ids="2807,2843,2839"]
This week, she has kindly agreed to share her 'top tips to starting up a cakey biz':
- Research you area, find out about the competition, what they do, what they charge and build a local network. Just because another business is competition doesn’t mean you cannot support each other.
- Know your skill set and limitations, if there is an area you’re not confident in practice, go on course. YouTube is amazing for free tutorials as is Facebook.
- Know your cost and be honest with yourself regarding quoting and charging for cake. You have to earn some money!
- Find your niche, is it wedding cakes, cake pops, novelty cakes, macaroons or cupcakes?
- Use social media, it is absolutely free and remember you get out of it what you put in.
- Network! I have met and made some amazing contacts through networking.
- Get friends and family to recommend you and get them to keep their ear to the ground about any events where you can get to promote your business.
- And remember people buy from people. It’s your character and customer service that will play a big part in your business.