Tag Archives: building relationships

O Captain, My Captain: What To Look For When You Need A Business Team

When you’re the one heading your own business, that means you’re in charge. But being in charge doesn’t always equate to being in control. There’s a certain threshold of detail and work past which you simply can’t cover everything all by yourself. Beyond that threshold is where a team can come in handy.

A team is simply a group of people committed to working on common goals. The smallest one you could have could be a duo, whether it’s a partnership with two people supporting each other, or an assistant-ship, with one helping the other manage the load.

The bigger the team gets, the more work can be spread out, and the more a definite leader is needed to help make sure everyone’s responsibilities, work project deliverables, and actions are aligned with the overall goals of the team.

Leadership has to come from somewhere, and since it’s your business, you should know what you need to do to get it to where you want to go. It’s your ship, you be the captain.

What’s more, whatever your particular leadership style, whether it’s authoritative,  more like a coach, or leans towards consensus-seeking (or a shifting mix of all three), there are points you need to be firm on when it comes to your style.
Continue reading O Captain, My Captain: What To Look For When You Need A Business Team

Back To The Drawing Board

Okay. You reviewed your performance for last year. You went over what planned changes went right,  which ones fell through, what surprises happened, how you handled them, and worked through the new things and experiences you were presented.  You want to do a better job this year. Going from the top-most level and branching down (and outward):

What are your core goals?
Where do you intend to focus on personally and professionally? Think of the “Four Burners theory.” There are things you can only do yourself if they are to be done, and if you want them done, then they have to be high priority, e.g, you must willingly give these items the attention, actions, and time they demand.

Then there are things a little lower on the list and stuff you can push around, delegate, or outsource. These are the items you fit around your Very Important Priorities.

Think about how you handled things last year. Where did you experience the most discomfort? How were you surprised? What are you going to do with the new layers of experience you gained getting through these rough spots? How are you moving forward?

How do you want these core goals done?
What are your standards for “done?” Your answers determine when and how will you know to stop working, which are very important factors in making consistent, sustainable progress. Being stubborn about ‘how’ can act as a straight-jacket for when life throws you into a corner. When you build some margin into your plans, and have back-up options in place,  the peace of mind this  gives helps you recover faster when you encounter delays and sudden changes of circumstance on the way.
Continue reading Back To The Drawing Board

Enjoy The Quiet

The ribbons and gift-wrapping have been cleared away, and the kitchen and the dining-room table cleaned up. Hopefully you’re all enjoying the lull of The-Day-After-Christmas. Whether you’re sleeping off the big meal from last night or  simply savoring the quiet, in  just a few short days, this year will be over.

Kind of dizzying, isn’t it? Where did the time go? Seems like it was just two months ago that you were making plans to make 2016 your year, and boom —  2016 happened. Hard.

Now we’re almost done and here we all are, looking around at our lives. Where are you now? How are you doing? How far have you come from the start of the year? How much do you want next year to be better? Are you ready?

Take a good look at who helped you through, and don’t forget the people you helped, too. Give yourself credit for pushing through and making it. There may have been times you broke down and you had to crawl until you could get up, but you made it. You made it here, now. And for that, you get to stand at the start of a whole new year.

Maybe you’re already in the thick of carrying out the plans for making next year your best one yet. Maybe you’ve decided not to harp so much on getting everything done and made a resolution to pare down and focus on what really matters to you. Whatever you’re planning, whatever your goals, we here at Jrox.com wish you all the hope, success, and joy in all your endeavors.

Happy New Year, everyone.

Flawed Design and Gracious Recovery: How Colette Patterns Fixed Their Oversight

Everybody makes mistakes. The real lesson reflects in how you deal with yours, and what you do to help yourself and anyone else affected by them. For this article, we’re touching on what happened after one business  realized that one particular product they’d already  shipped out had issues.

Colette Patterns is a popular website among dressmakers and sewists in the DIY crafts and hobbyist market.

The business, established by Sarai Mitnick in 2009, sells dressmaking patterns — and among their many relationship-building activities, hold sew-alongs with their followers,  doing the sorts of active communication you would expect of a company whose market is composed of people who like working with their hands — mainly DIY-enthusiasts, ranging fron beginners to expert sewists.

By giving their customers a chance to show off their work, talk to their peers about their processes, share and commiserate over their sewing flubs, and by providing an open platform for discussion, critique, and exploration, Colette has established a very good customer base.

They also do solid cross-promotion with their various partners, affiliates, and brick-and-mortar crafts stores, as evidenced by the many articles in their blog and in their online magazine, Seamwork.

Like proud parents with their children’s drawings and a big refrigerator door, Colette also has  galleries where subscribers can send pictures of their finished works, and host sewing challenges as well as having “featured seamstressess” pieces showing the many varied people who used Colette patterns.

They let people take an an inside look at their workings and see how things get done in the Colette Studio.

They also keep updating their tips on building a personal wardrobe.

They also solicit input and stories from their readers, conducting “Sew-alongs” whenever new patterns go out so people can follow step-by-step and see how it’s supposed to be done.

All these areas of sharing and interaction with their market has resulted in a vibrant community for Colette. They have 15,000 followers on Twitter,  16,000 on Pinterest, over 40,000 on  Facebook, and 55,500 on Instagram. Colette Patterns built a solid  support system in their niche with their  fans, followers, and customers  from all their consistent hard work.

A while back they posted an announcement to their website regarding a mistake in a new pattern that had already been selling for a few weeks, in response to feedback about the results of the patters from sewists who used it. Continue reading Flawed Design and Gracious Recovery: How Colette Patterns Fixed Their Oversight

Top Tips To Getting New Customers

When you are faced with a jaded audience who’ve been informed of every scam on the planet, have been burned by bad customer service, and know horror stories of substandard products and service contracts from hell, what can you do to keep drumming up fresh business in the form of new customers?

You start with a clean slate.
Running an online business is hard work, and part of that is developing foresight and proactiveness. You think of the most possible and probable issues coming down the line and take the steps to prevent them from happening, or work to weaken their impact.

One way to do this is to treat each visit or customer interaction as a start to something good.  You can’t go into a business automatically distrusting the people you’re planning to serve — that’s crazy-making. Continue reading Top Tips To Getting New Customers

Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

If you’re not paying attention to where you’re going, you can get seriously hurt. News programs and entertainment programs often showcase the people who make the spotlight by not paying attention to what they’re doing and getting themselves into trouble. Check out the following videos for proof:

If you’re not paying attention, you’re depriving your  feedback system of half of its function. Say you’re busy refining your  marketing  program and you’re getting frustrated with the non-improvement in sales, or sign-ups. What does your data say?

Paying attention is part of the feedback cycle.  Feedback in this sense  is intimately tied to awareness because awareness demands paying attention and interpreting the information that comes in.

Navigation systems  and the code that runs them both undergo rigorous testing protocols to ensure that these machine are pin-point accurate and the codes run flawlessly.  Lives depend on getting the most accurate feedback possible, because the information is used to plot  — and navigate– the real life conditions of transport: airplanes and air traffic, ships and shipping lanes, cars. It works the same for businesses.

It’s remarkably easy to revert to surface-level thinking when you’re doing everyday activities — the demands on us habituate us to be hyper-vigilant about the new things that come in, and so all our attention goes to assessment and handling — not exactly to deep processing. When you’re deluged with incoming emails, phone calls, requests for your help, time, input and presence, sometimes it’s all you can do to just ‘go with the flow.’ Then, in what ever time you have left over, you try to recover. In the long run, this is an unsustainable  practice to keep doing to yourself.

In life, as in business and bingo, you have to actually be present to win. You win by being present and paying attention.
Continue reading Pay Attention: Using The Power Of Feedback In Business

Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Life is all about negotiation. We do it every day in ways we don’t even recognize as negotiation. For instance, internally, we bargain with ourselves all the time. Five more minutes and then we’ll get up. Finish these last three pages and then we can go get coffee. We weigh our needs against our wants, and try to work things out to get the best possible result that we can out given the requirements of a particular situation.

Externally, we do this all the time. We just don’t think of it like the formal sort of negotiations we see in media. It could be as simple as asking if someone is available to talk to, for example, then suggesting alternative times or ways to communicate, like sending a follow-up email, or leaving a voicemail.  Basically, we ask if something is possible, then we find a way to work with the information and the reactions that we get.

The goal of negotiation is to work things out so that the people involved get what they need amicably, without feeling cheated or taken advantage of. Everyone with a stake in the proceeding gets to have their time, and during it, consensus and concessions are made and given.

At times the word “compromise” can come off in a rather bad way because sometimes we take it to mean “Everyone walks away unhappy, and not with all of what we want.” That comes from seeing all the dramatized negative spin in movies and popular media, and from how we’re socialized to believe winning is the only way to succeed, and for someone to win, someone else has to lose.

We have to understand that that’s not what compromise is about. Compromise is not ‘capitulation’, which is giving in. A compromise is the result of people coming to an agreement on the results they want out of the negotiation, where both parties can move forward.

Negotiation is an incredibly valuable  skill to develop and the more you practice it, the easier it gets .

Self negotiation and self-discipline — psyching yourself into doing something hard or uncomfortable now and rewarding yourself or enjoying the pay-off later, trains you to put the long-term good over the short-term boost, and the more impactful returns over shallower ones. Continue reading Why You Need to Learn Negotiation Skills

Why Giving Negative Feedback Is Part Of Good Communication

Communication is key to success in any enterprise. In joint ventures and partnerships, in groups, departments and teams, it helps keep the trust and cooperation flowing freely. And when inevitably we also screw up, or see others fall below standards,  good communication skills can help us find our way back to steady ground and improve a floundering performance.

Even with all the automation going on, businesses aren’t run by robots. We work with other people all through out the business life-cycle. We work with people, and people, including us, make mistakes.

We can work with suppliers, designers, landlords, legal advisers and accounting professionals. We can work with partners, co-workers, answer to a board of directors, or shareholders… and still, we work with people.

Sooner or later something will  come to light and show that some of them aren’t performing up to standards with their  duties and responsibilities.  When you’re responsible for talking to them about it, what do you do to address the situation, and how would you do so?

Soft skills when delivering bad news are needed in every area of life where we interact with others. We move in a network of relationships, and for the bulk of the web to work harmoniously then we ourselves need to develop those difficult skills so we can navigate delicate matters without deliberately causing insult or injury. Continue reading Why Giving Negative Feedback Is Part Of Good Communication

How to Communicate Value To Your Customers

Customers are the bread and butter of any business. They make up your market.

Whether you’re involved in business-to business or business-to-consumer (B2B or B2C) sales,  you have  products or provide a service tailored for a specific market.  Without a market, there won’t–can’t–be a business. You use marketing and advertising to inform your customers that you have  products that can provide them with what they want, and help them with what they need.

Customers buy things to fulfill a need. Customers buy thing they believe will give them what they need, or help them get what they want. Customers want value. If they believe your product doesn’t have that, they won’t give it another thought, and move on. How do you tell them that your product has that value?

You communicate it to them.

Marketing and advertising influences the perceived value of things. Think about the all-important Unique Selling Proposition (USP), which uses, well, a unique selling point to hook people’s attention in and get them to buy into the product with that USP.   You can check out well-known examples in the articles below.

As an example, think of the booming  exercise and diet  industry.  Remember the many promises, guarantees and statements you’ve ever witnessed in commercials, whether in print or video. Think of home TV shopping and all their infomercials,  and the many sales spiels you’ve heard.  That should drive the point home.

Marketing is reaching out to your customers and informing your market of the value of what your business provides. That’s it. That’s the goal.

Whether it’s services or products, regardless of the platform you use to connect to them, that’s the goal.

To get back to our example, home TV shopping segments may come across as hard-selling to you, but they certainly know how to put the product benefits forward for the viewers, right?

And get this: QVC and HSN, the two biggest home shopping channels, have been running since 1985 and 1986, respectively. Any business that survives and lasted for the past thirty years and successfully adapted  to the massive industry changes brought about by the internet knows how to reach out to its customers.

What about you? How do you communicate with your market? Continue reading How to Communicate Value To Your Customers

Getting People To Buy Into Change

You’ve probably had moments in your life when you stopped to take a good look at where you were going, then shook your head and picked another direction. Let’s talk about what happens after you pick a heading.

When you want to move in a new direction, who else will be affected?
You’ve seen the signs and did the research. If things don’t change, if you don’t make things change, you’ll end up a long way away from where you want to be.

  • Something’s been eating at you and you need to make things better. It’s change or get run over, change or be left behind.
  • Something needs to change, and you’re planning to take charge of the process. You’re doing this for very important reasons.

If you built a business all by your merry lonesome, well, hey, congratulations. But there are two things to consider when you’re fixing to make changes.

  • Are you really doing it alone?
  • Who else will be affected by the intended change?

A business not just a legal entity. Anything involving people brings relationships into the picture: When you’re planning changes like shifting directions, it’s not as easy as turning the steering wheel. All the parts need to work together to move a car where you want to go, and it’s the same with business.

  • What about reactions from family, partners or employees?
  • You also have people you work for and with– suppliers, for example, and customers/clients, for sure. What about them?

 

Even if you’re a sole proprietor, you work in a network of friends, family, partners, suppliers, clients, advisors and customers. You’re a member of several social groups withing your business network. You are influenced and have more influence than you think, and actions ripple out in consequences, in the networks you’re a part of.

When you want to make a change in the organization you created, you won’t be the only one affected by the change. To make it easier for everyone involved, you can to have them buy into your intended changes. But how? Continue reading Getting People To Buy Into Change