Do members of a team want a guided approach to complete a project, or be left to their own creativity?

Do team members want a guided approach?

Be absolutely, crystal clear on the problem to be solved by the project.

Be absolutely, crystal clear on what sorts of things matter and don’t matter on the project and what is flexible/not flexible, for example:

  • timeline
  • method for solving the problem
  • technologies used
  • processes used
  • people involved
  • team-level communication channel & schedule
  • what, specifically, constitutes success

Be absolutely, crystal clear on your level of commitment and your “why.”

Then let each team member know that you are (or whoever is) available for whatever degree of support they require to get the job done and enhance their own value.

If a team member wants checklists, provide checklists.

If a team member wants to be left alone to do the work with latitude and independence, provide a deadline and a problem to solve.

If a team member wants daily meetings, provide daily meetings.

If a team member wants to you to be available via IM, be available via IM.

If a team member wants you to review completed milestones, set up a system to be notified of those milestones.

Separating Business from Personal in Facebook

Do you love using Facebook with your friends but know you’re missing out by not using it in business? Do you feel guilty when you post a business promotion and would prefer not to bug your friends? The good news is there’s an easy way to separate Facebook personal use from business within your personal account.

The answer is to group your friends by lists. Once you do that, you can selectively post to the appropriate list(s). Here’s how to do it, step by step.

Log into Facebook and go to your Home page. From the left column, locate the section on Friends and click on More, which is just to the right. At the top right of this Friends page, you’ll see a button called Create List.

Create two lists: one labeled Business and one labeled Personal. You can create far more than two if you want, but for now, start with two. Click the Create button and it will then ask you if you want to add friends. Click that button and select the friends you want to add to each list. In some cases, you’ll want a friend to be on both lists, and that’s fine. Once you’re done, you’ll have a list of business friends and a list of personal friends.

When you post an item, you can select which list you want to see your post. If you’re showing private events like birthdays, weddings, drunk parties, and grandbabies, you may only want friends to see those posts. If you’re pitching a new product, your business list should see that post, but you might not want to bug your friends.

Enter your post as usual and locate the Custom button to the left of the blue Post button. Select the list of friends that you wish to see this post. Then click Post. You’ve now successfully separated your personal and business friends and posts on Facebook.

Almost every social media account has a way for you to separate business from personal, so don’t let this excuse be a reason to miss out on some great marketing opportunities for your business.

5 Ways to Delight Your Customers

Providing great service can make a huge difference in a small business. For companies like Zappos, Nordstrom, and Southwest Airlines, customer service is a differentiator from their competitors. Done right, good customer service can bring lots of referrals that lead to increased revenue. Here are five tips to improve service to your customers.

1- “Welcome Home” Greeting

Consider your business as your home and your customers as invited guests. No matter how they come to you, whether by phone, email, or in person, greet them like you would a guest. If your business has a storefront and customers walk in, have your employees greet them immediately with a welcome message that ends in “Please, make yourself at home.” If your prospect or customer calls you, greet them warmly with “I’m so glad you called.” If a customer or prospect emails you, personally email them back (no autoresponders) to let them know you received their message and when you will be replying.

A warm welcome every time your customer contacts you will make them feel important.

2- Throwback Thank You Cards

Be old-fashioned for a change and handwrite thank you cards to your top clients. You can get blank folding cards with matching envelopes from your local printer or paper shop and have your company logo printed on them. If you don’t have time for that, consider SendOutCards.com.

3- Apologize

Things are bound to go wrong. Be quick with a heartfelt apology whether it’s your fault or not. If your customer struggled with anything – your website, shopping cart, store display, out-of-stock item, and so on – teach your employees to apologize first, then own the problem and get it fixed for all future clients. You can also teach them the language, “thank you for giving us the opportunity to fix this for all future clients.”

4- Mystery Shop

Periodically hire a mystery shopper to evaluate the customer experience at your business. These customer service experts will provide you with a list of suggestions, from your initial voice mail recording to paying your bill. Everywhere your business touches a client should be streamlined, easy, and sealed with a smile.

5- Listen

Your customers can be the best source of ideas for your next new revenue stream. Listen to their feedback and incorporate their ideas into your business.

Try these customer service tips to delight your customers, and watch your revenue grow.

Will 2016 Be Your Best Year Ever?

If you want 2016 to be better than 2015, you have to do something differently in 2016 than you did in 2015. It’s a simple but profound realization. Change brings the opportunity to make things better; it can be scary yet exciting at the same time.

Ask yourself what you are going to do differently to have your best year ever. Here are some questions and exercises to consider:

Clarify Your Vision
What does the world look like after it’s consumed your product or service? A vision statement for a company helps to keep everyone on track and seeing the bigger picture of what they’re accomplishing day after day. How is the world smarter, more beautiful, happier, healthier, or wealthier after they’ve left your business?

If you haven’t written your business vision and mission statement, consider this exercise for 2016.

Create New Habits
What habits are holding you back? Which ones are propelling you forward? Choose one habit that’s costing you the most and make a commitment to drop it from your 2016 repertoire. Conversely, identify the habit that is brining you happiness and wealth and multiply it.

Let Go
Sometimes we need to let go before we can move forward. What do you need to let go of? Are there customers or employees in your life that sap your energy or your bank account?

Build Your Support Structure
Are you short-staffed? The way you manage your time has everything to do with your success or the lack of it. If you are taking up your time with a lot of low-dollar tasks, it’s going to be hard to boost your income and get ahead. Surround yourself with support to do everything that can be delegated, including personal tasks such as grocery shopping, housekeeping, cooking, and lawn maintenance as well as tasks such as filing, bookkeeping, appointment scheduling, and routine customer service.

Make a list of areas where you could use support, and fill these gaps. In today’s world, you don’t need to hire full time people to fill these slots; you can simply get responsible contractors, other small businesses, and virtual assistants to build your support team.

Focus
What project or task would make a huge difference in 2016 if you could pull it off? Focus on the high payback projects and commit to one, even though it might be out of your comfort zone. Imagine the difference in your business once it’s completed, and get inspired to get started.

Choose just one of these areas to start your 2016 out with hope, intention, and excitement.

How Pinterest and Instagram Can Make You Money

There’s a visual side to every business, and Pinterest and Instagram, which are social media applications, can show your customers and prospects what your business looks like form day to day. Plus, you can have some real fun with it.

Pinterest allows people to post graphics to online bulletin boards and share them with others. In Pinterest, graphics of all kinds are allowed, including photographs, screen prints, logos, and more. In Instagram, photos are posted and shared among users. Here are some tips you can implement in your business to take advantage of Pinterest and Instagram.

1. Take pictures of your work.

Even if you’re a plumber, work can be interesting and artistic at times. Take a picture of the child’s toy that was clogging the toilet, and you could have an entire pinboard of “Things that we’ve pulled out of toilets.” If you’re in personal service, you can photograph your client’s new manicure or hairdo (with their permission of course). If you’re in landscaping you can snap the cleanup job you just did. If you’re a webmaster, take screen prints of your clients’ new webpages and post them to Pinterest.

2. Take pictures of the happy client.

Before leaving your happy client, grab a photo of them showing their new product. With their permission you can post these to both Pinterest and Instagram. As an added plus, use the client’s testimonials or review as your caption, and if they are a small business owner, include their URL to help them out a bit with their marketing and social media.

3. Grab before and after shots.

Before and after photos are great for your portfolio and work well in both Pinterest and Instagram. They can show a future customer what’s possible with your service.

4. Shoot daily scenes at your office or place of work.

Do all your employees hangout in the morning before going their separate ways? Do you ever have all-hands staff meetings? If so, you can add these photos to your growing collection at Instagram.

5. Create topical pinboards.

Even if your job isn’t very funny, you can make funny pinboards about it (exceptions possibly being hospitals and funeral homes). Accounting humor, attorney jokes, and engineering humor can make for a fun Pinterest board. Other ideas include:

  • A pinboard of people you look up to or who have mentored you,
  • Favorite books you’ve read or like,
  • Inspirational quotes,
  • Favorite places,
  • Your team of employees, and
  • Any of the categories mentioned above.

Go wild with photos and screen shots in your business, and your business will get noticed on social media.

Eight Ways to Save Time You Might Not Have Thought About

Time is money as they say, and if you can save time, you’re also saving money. Since your time is limited to 24/7, both personal and business time saved is profitable. Here are eight ways to save time (and money) for your consideration. Go through all of them with an open mind, and see which one might work best for you.

1. The trip to the grocery store

If you’re making several trips to the grocery store throughout the week, this one is for you. Cut down on those trips by taking inventory of your kitchen and seeing what you’ll need for the week (or longer). Shopping once a week will save precious time throughout the week.

Better yet, have your groceries delivered. Some shops will also pick and bag your times so your selections are ready for pickup. Even better, hire an assistant to shop for you so that your refrigerator and pantry is stocked when you get home.

2. Appointment scheduling

Automate your appointment scheduling and you’ll free up weeks of admin time for either you or your staff. There are dozens of apps, many industry-specific that can help you save time making appointments. Once you’ve set it up, send the link to the people you’ll be meeting and voila, it will appear on your calendar.

Here are a few to check out:

For field service companies in the home repair or maintenance industries that serve commercial and residential customers, Google “field service scheduling” to get the right software for your business.

3. Office supplies

Order your supplies online and have them delivered.

4. Email interruptions

Turn off automatic send and receive in your email software to get rid of that nasty interruption. Mark your calendar to check and answer your email three to four times a day. You’ll go home happier and feeling more in control of your work with this one change.

5. The commute

If you can manage it, working from home one to two days a week can save you commute time. You may also be able to avoid rush hour by altering your work hours if you have some flexibility. After all, it’s your business.

6. Those errands

Batching your errands all into one day will save precious start and stop time on your other work days. Better yet, choose one day a week for outside errands and personal appointments so that you can get into the habit of this for the long term.

7. Takeout

Do you go out for lunch every day? You may need the break or you may need to have that power lunch with a new business partner or client. But on days you don’t, have takeout delivered so you don’t have to waste time ordering and standing in line.

8. The bank

Are you going to the bank constantly? If so, you can avoid it in a number of ways:

• Take credit cards, and have clients pay online.
• Ask your bank about remote or mobile check deposit options.
• Hire a company to transport your cash deposits – Google “Cash logistics” to find companies with armored car services. It won’t hurt to find out how much it costs and you might be surprised.

Did you get an idea on how to save time? If so, it’s your turn to implement and reap the benefits.