Building a Business on YES

YESPicWhen you say “no” to a customer the customer really hears “go somewhere else to get your solution.”

Creating a spirit of YES in your company all starts at the top. As the leader, you have to encourage your entire team to be focused on excellent customer service by setting a great example. You need to succeed in getting all of your employees to remove phrases like “that’s not my department,” “that’s not my job,” “it doesn’t work that way” and “maybe if you call back someone else can help” out of the company vocabulary!

That might sound obvious, but even great employees can fall into a rut of saying no instead of focusing on satisfying each and every customer. At The Growth Coach, we know growing a business all starts with making sure you’ve built a strong foundation. So if you need some help creating a culture of YES, here are a few tips:

  1. Set the example: Your employees look to you, even subconsciously, for guidance on how to operate in the workplace, including how to treat customers. Do your best to provide excellent service and treat customers the way you would want to be treated.
  1. Relay the story: As the leader of your company, you need to tell stories of YES. If you spend your time telling employees horror stories about customers and talking about how customers are taking advantage of you, that will stick with your employees. Keep it positive and encouraging!
  1. Encourage YES: Take every opportunity to encourage your team to focus on customer service and even consider starting each shift with a reminder about doing your best to meet the needs of each and every customer.
  1. Reward and Recognize: Sometimes providing an excellent customer service experience means someone on your team has to go above and beyond the usual job. When that happens – and when the result is positive – ask the customer for a review and then reward the employee with at least a pat on the back in front of the team.
  1. Focus on YES from the beginning: Bringing on the right team member is always challenging, but next time you have a position to fill, focus on more than the resume. Hire for YES and hire for ATTITUDE. People can learn how to do the job, but they can’t always learn how to be a positive person with a focus on excellent customer service. Look for that in your job candidates!

– Growth Coach President Nathan Owens

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Building Relationships and the Art of Pinging

pingingAt The Growth Coach, we’re frequently telling our telling our coaches – and their clients – that building a successful business and a balanced life often starts with creating and prioritizing relationships. Not all of your clients or the people in your life should be ranked equally and it’s important to spend more time with the most important people, but that certainly doesn’t mean you can ignore the rest of your contacts!

So how do you balance and track who you reach out to and when? There are services out there, like 22Touch, that can keep you on top of this list, but even if you’re doing it on your own, it’s all about prioritized networking. Or, as a blog we read this week puts it, The Art of Pinging.

The idea of pinging is making sure that you stay in touch – and top of mind – with the people important to you and your business. That doesn’t mean you have to schedule lunches with people every day of the week or dedicate your entire day to hour-long phone calls, but it does mean you need to specifically set aside time to send a hand-written note or leave a comment on their blog.

Read the full blog post from Mark Shead here: http://www.productivity501.com/the-art-of-pinging/9155/. Are you pinging your network? Share your best practices in the comments!

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Building Integrity by Doing the Right Thing for the Right Reasons

integrityblogThere’s an old adage that says: “Wisdom is knowing the right path to take. Integrity is taking it.” It’s easy to say that you have integrity and are trustworthy, but actually having integrity – and just doing the right thing for the right reasons – is something we don’t always actively think about in business.

Of course you WANT to do the right thing, but it’s not always the easy choice. Honestly, when was the last time you let the bottom line keep you from making the right decision? When did your emotional investment sway you to act in a way you regretted later? But doing the right thing is about more than making the right decision for your business; it all comes down to doing the right thing because you should. And the kicker? NOT expecting recognition for doing the right thing. The right thing should be the default – not something that earns you a pat on the back.

That said, just because you shouldn’t expect acknowledgement doesn’t mean you should forget to recognize others. If everyone was always out for themselves, what kind of world would be live in? As a business exercise, think about the best boss you ever had. Chances are that you felt you could trust that person and they treated you fairly, complimented you on work done especially well, corrected you when needed and encouraged you to grow personally and professionally. That individual was a good role model for you because they did the right thing and they had integrity. Do you run your business and manage in a way that would make that boss proud of the business person you’ve become?

So what decision are you facing this week that could pull you away from doing the right thing? How will that decision affect you and your business next month or next year? It’s easy to be cynical and take the well-traveled road, but it’s always better to be the light in a sometimes dark business world.

– Nathan Owens, President of The Growth Coach

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Meeting Your 2015 Goals?

GoalsAt the beginning of 2015, we challenged you to grow your business this year by writing a better future. By evaluating your progress in 2014 and being honest about your challenges, we handed you the pen to create your story for the New Year.

So how is that going?

The first quarter of 2015 is already over! Time is flying by and, as they say, there’s no time like the present. Don’t let yourself fall into summer without having made significant improvements to your business. You can learn from your experience and there’s still plenty of time to make 2015 the best year yet. Here are five tips to get you on the right track:

Evaluate the Past: Take an honest look at the last 12 to 24 months as it pertains to your business and your life. What’s working and what’s not working? Are there problems or issues you’ve refused to face? How about decisions you put off or refused to make? What things would you like to change about your business or personal life, what would it be? And what’s holding you back?

Focus on Owning the Business: One of the easiest traps for business owners to fall into is becoming the most important person in the company. They are the main technician, the answer for all the questions, and the heart and soul of the business. Can you take a month off work and come back to a business? If you’re spending every waking hour RUNNING your business instead of OWNING your business, it’s time to focus on becoming less important. Learn to delegate jobs, train staff members and trust your team to do what’s best for your business.

Implement Team Huddles: It’s crucial to take time to meet with your managers and employees throughout the week. Try having 15-minute team huddles two or three times a week to discuss the goals, challenges and accomplishments of the week. Having everyone on the same page will provide the whole team with clarity and empowerment.

Focus on Marketing and Selling: Even the very best technician can’t run a successful business without marketing and product/service selling. What are you doing to best market your business? Consider what affordable marketing strategies you can implement. Here are a few low cost ideas to get you started: http://growthcoachblog.com/2013/02/28/5-low-cost-marketing-strategies/.

De-Clutter: Take a look at your business AND your life. It’s important to clear your office and business of useless clutter, but it’s also important to de-clutter your schedule. Are you focusing on unimportant tasks? Are you unable to say “no” to people and tasks that aren’t important to you or your business? Is that holding your business back? Figure out what tasks you need to focus upon and which you need to delegate to someone else.

 – President of The Growth Coach Nathan Owens

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Spring Challenge: Battle the Business Owner Blues

BluesWhen you launched your business, you had a grand dream. You wanted to sell a particular product or service, make enough to live the lifestyle you’ve always wanted and have the freedom to do whatever you wanted with your life. So… how is that going?

Launching a small business is extremely tough work and it takes time to get your company on solid ground, but after a few years, many small business owners suffer serious emotional and motivation burnout. You still want to be an entrepreneur and you don’t want to give up on your business, but you’re working 80 hours a week and you haven’t taken a real vacation in years. In other words, you might be dealing with a bad case of the “business owner blues.”

As we embrace Spring – a time for renewal and spring cleaning – I want to challenge you to dust off your dreams of being a successful business owner. You don’t have to be overworked, overwhelmed and a prisoner to your business. Your dream does NOT have to be a nightmare. Turning this corner and reacquiring the fire all starts with reconnecting with your WHY and working smart instead of just hard.

Answer the following questions:

  1. What was the initial purpose of your business?
  2. Why did you want it to exist and bring it to life?
  3. What was the spark that led you to open your business rather than just dream?
  4. What were you seeking – freedom, flexibility, free time, creative expression, money, security?
  5. How does your business serve others? How does it make their lives better?

Now take 15 minutes to really lose yourself in your answers. Take yourself all the way back to the beginning and remember what it felt like to cut that grand opening ribbon. No matter how many years you’ve been in business, you should still be able to reconnect with the emotional outcomes you wanted before you even considered your first customer. THAT is your WHY and THAT is what will keep you strong moving forward.

Once you’ve found your happy place, ask yourself two additional questions: Where did you think your business would be today and where do you want your business to be a year from now? Consider what’s been holding you back and create small, timed goals to overcome those challenges. If you are having a difficult time with this level of accountability, it’s time to talk to a Growth Coach about being your accountability partner: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

 – Nathan Owens, President of The Growth Coach

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10 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Michael NeuendorffFor this week’s blog, The Growth Coach is proud to welcome a guest post from Michael Neuendorff, our franchise owner in San Mateo, California. Michael recently shared an article on his own blog about the value of setting goals we thought our readers would find especially helpful. Here’s the post:

Now you know I’m not a fan of resolutions. However, I am a fan of goals. The concrete decision about what you want to have happen in the future written down and worked on with a real plan really can work. I’ve seen it happen for my clients numerous times and I’ve seen it happen for me.

I found a study online that was created by a PhD student at Dominican University that supports the value of goal setting (in writing) for achievement.

Now let me give you 10 tips to add a greater degree of likelihood to the achievement of the goals you write down: 

  1. Write them down every day when you wake up
  2. Look at them each night before you go to bed
  3. Affirm yourself often as being capable of accomplishing your goals
  4. Share them with someone
  5. Create a written plan for how you’ll achieve the goals with clear action steps you can follow – or – just keep plotting out what the next action is on each goal and get it done one by one

To see the full list and for additional information, visit http://www.buildandbalance.com/blog/.

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A Business and a Life – You Can Have Both

Judi CogenAt The Growth Coach, our process is all about helping people find their WHY, which, for me, is a mission that’s close to my heart. I’m Judi Cogen and before I started with The Growth Coach’s corporate team, I lived the struggles that many of you face every day. Let me start at the beginning…

When I graduated from Columbia Business School in the 80s, I joined a big consulting firm. I traveled constantly and I understood that was how it was supposed to be. But after a while, I realized my plants were all turning brown and I hadn’t had a date in 6 months. Something had to change. I took a job with Avon, got married, had a son, moved to Cincinnati and had a daughter. I had work and life balance. I was happy.

Along the way, Avon had some major changes and I left the company to rejoin the consulting world before opening my own retail franchise. I thought I was being smart by getting into a franchise early, but the system wasn’t strong enough and the economy was crashing. Even worse, it was retail, so I was working seven days a week. My kids had to call me to say goodnight. Even my marriage was falling apart, although I didn’t realize that until after we decided to close the store. Money was tight and I didn’t know what we were going to do, but at least I had my family. That’s when I joined The Growth Coach.

The Growth Coach is special because we help people get their lives back. I am here because I understand that no business owner – our franchise owners or their clients – should have to go through what I went through. No one should have to choose between owning a business and having a family. No one should be faced with having to choose between being able to feed their family and actually having a family to feed.

The Growth Coach is known for our Strategic Business Owner quarterly workshops and the thing we hear most often is that business owners don’t have time for the program. Let me tell you something I’ve learned – you don’t have time NOT to dedicate to being strategic about your business. If you don’t schedule time with yourself to make changes and improvements to your business, nothing will change. Everyone wants a business they don’t have to manage every day that can run on its own – and The Growth Coach can help you get there – but it takes time.

Sit down and think about where you are dedicating your time right now. Are there tasks you can delegate? Or errands you can combine to save time? Sometimes making time for the most important things takes making an adjustment in your life. A while back I read an article in the paper about a man who had written an email to his college-age children every day while they were away at school. It was a lovely article and, when I shared it with my son, he asked if I would do that for him. I accepted his request and decided to turn what could have been daily emails into a daily blog called Dear Kid, Love Mom. No matter how busy I am or how little I think I have to say that day, I make time to do this for my son because it’s important to him. We don’t usually talk about the posts or what he thinks of the topics (which are quite varied) but he always notices if a new post hasn’t been published, so I know he’s reading them and I know it’s important that I keep writing.

I’m hoping you can think of your business the same way. Even on days when you’re staring at the proverbial blank screen, take the time to figure out where to go from there. Make a conscious decision to make the business – and your life – better. Make time to make your business stronger and make time for your friends and family. You can have both, but you have to find the balance that makes it all work together. If you’re having trouble doing this on your own, The Growth Coach can help.

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Falling in Love with your Business Again

 With the upcoming Valentine’s Day holiday, it’s the perfect time to look at the relationships in your life and be thankful for the positive influences in your life. If you’re a business owner, that should include examining the relationship between you and your business.

As President of The Growth Coach, I want to ask you some tough, but potentially revealing, questions:

  • As a business owner, could you leave your business today for one or two months and come back to find it operating smoothly and profitably?
  • Could you even escape for two weeks?
  • When was the last time you had a work-free, guilt-free vacation with no work calls, emails or paperwork?
  • If you found yourself seriously ill or disabled, would your business survive?
  • When physically away from the business, can you be mentally away from the business?
  • Do you have systems in place that keep you out of every transaction, decision and problem? Or does every aspect of the business depend on you?

If you answered “no” to most of these questions, odds are that you’re a prisoner to your business. That’s not how it should be! You opened a business to OWN a business – not to RUN a business. You should have a business and not just a stressful, 80-hours-per-week job. Your business should serve you and your dreams, not keep you from them, and it all starts with having effective business systems in place!

Bottom line, you should run your business. It should not run you, your family or your life. Your business should work harder so you don’t have to. It should be systems-dependent and not owner-dependent or even expert-dependent for its success. Your systems should be consistently directing your employees on what to do and how to do it. Your business should have its own heart, mind, and soul – it shouldn’t steal yours!

Stop for a moment and think of the consequences. If everything in your business flows through you and is dependent upon you, then you are dramatically restricting the growth and profits of your company. As a single person, there are natural limits to the amount of work, transactions, problems and decisions you can manage in a given day. By being involved in every aspect, you will continue to restrict the development of your employees and business and ensure your persistent exhaustion. Stop missing out on greater personal freedom, money and happiness. You need to step back and manage the business instead of run the business!

Here are some resources to help you stop feeling like a prisoner to your business:

 – Nathan Owens, President of The Growth Coach

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Don’t GAMBLE with Your Business

compassStarting a new year is always about new beginnings and starting fresh, but it’s been a few weeks now, so are you sticking to those resolutions? Because if you’re not planning ahead, building a business on strategy and just reacting to the changes your business faces, then you are gambling with your business. Don’t sit back and HOPE that things will change or tell yourself that THIS TOO SHALL PASS – create a plan for making improvements!

Instead of gambling with your business, try this G.A.M.B.L.E. to build a stronger company:

Growth: Your business can only grow when you, the business owner, grow. Are you focused on personal professional growth? To face reality about where you spend your time and money, check your bank account and your calendar. Did you make personal growth and development a priority in 2014? Did you work with a coach? Buy coaching books? Take a class? Great wealth and fulfillment await you, but you have to leave your comfort zone to grow. Challenge yourself to identify ways you’re going to grow for the next 90 days and for all of 2015.

Accountability: Are you spending your time making money? Or just excuses? You can’t spend precious time blaming the economy, the competitors, the customers or anyone else. Your business can only soar if you take 100 percent responsibility and ownership of your results. You cannot be the victim of your business because that means you’re giving away the power to change and improve. If you’re not holding yourself accountable, consider hiring a coach or building an accountability partnership with someone in your life like your CPA, banker, attorney, business partner, etc.

Marketing: It doesn’t matter what product or service you’re selling – every business owner is in the business of marketing. If marketing is not one of your top three priorities, then you won’t be in business for long. Go back to your calendar and your checkbook to find out if you’re truly making marketing a priority. Spend time in the next 90 days thinking about how to generate and close more qualified leads and how you can be more of a go-giver in your community. Decide to become more than a technical expert so you can be successful.

Beliefs: Take a strong look at all aspects of your business and your belief system and ask yourself, “what’s holding me back?” It’s your fears, uncertainties and doubts. Don’t let your limiting beliefs build a ceiling over your business. If you could do one thing to improve your business today, what would it be? What’s holding you back? Just because something is scary doesn’t mean it’s not the best option. You have to step outside your comfort zone to build a great business.

Leverage: Every business owner needs greater leverage, which means finding ways to get the greatest results/return with the least amount of time, effort, money and risk. Learn to leverage your employees, marketing, best practices, technology, business systems, referral sources, strategic alliances, etc. As a business owner, you need to be the CEO of your business, not the person working the front desk. By leveraging your resources, you can create time for you to focus on growing and running the business.

Enjoyment: If you’re not enjoying the journey of being a business owner, you’re letting the business steal your life. Did you get into this to work 80 hours a week? Or did you become a business owner to build a better life? Step back and learn to balance work with life – for the sake of yourself and your family, but also for the sake of your business and your employees. Consider this: Are you really the best version of yourself after 80 hours of the continuous grind? Probably not. Disconnect from work, reset your emotional battery and learn to balance life with work.

If you’re having trouble with any of the elements of G.A.M.B.L.E, the Growth Coach can help. Find a coach here: http://www.thegrowthcoach.com/locator.aspx.

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Grow Your Business in 2015 by Writing a Better Future

rising arrowCan you believe we’re already more than a week into 2015? What actions have you taken to write the story of your business for the year? The future of your business – and your life – all starts with you. You are the one who holds the pen and nothing will change if you don’t. Embrace this New Year as a new opportunity to do things differently. Make a resolution to improve your business and your life in 2015 by making more effective decisions moving forward.

To get started, take a look at 2014. What were your goals for business growth in 2014? How close did you come to meeting those goals? Go through all the decisions and actions you made last year that may have kept your business from growing and hold yourself accountable. Making tough decisions always includes embracing risk, but you have to start making changes to build a more successful business in 2015. If you aren’t willing to take risks, you can rest assured that this year will be just like last year. So take a step back, evaluate 2014, learn from your successes and failures, and make the appropriate changes for 2015. You can start with these questions:

  • What didn’t work in my business in 2014?
  • What do potential buyers see when looking at my business? What are the concerns and fears?
  • Were there any problems or issues I refused to face?
  • Did I put off making decisions or making changes?
  • What worked well last year and how can I replicate that?
  • If I could change one thing about my business or personal life, what would it be?

Once you have the answers to these questions, you have a place to start from on writing the future of your business and personal life. You have to understand what’s wrong so you can fix it. The New Year is an opportunity for you to reinvent yourself, but you have to be ready to embrace these changes as a way of life and not just another resolution. Schedule monthly and quarterly meetings with yourself this year to ask these questions, reevaluate your goals and create a strategic plan for success.

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