The Power of Reviews in the Digital Age

Everyone looks at reviews. Whether we’re trying to find a new restaurant or we’re looking for a contractor for a major project, most of us don’t go out on a limb without doing some due diligence. So what is your business doing to (1) make sure your happy customers are leaving good reviews and (2) manage sub-par reviews online? When was the last time you googled your own business to see what people are saying? If you’re not managing your online presence, you’re missing an opportunity.

Focusing Your Efforts

There are dozens of review sites out there and many of them come up when you search for businesses, so you’ll want to decide which sites are most important for your type of business. Reviews on your own website, on Google and on Facebook are important to start. If you’re in the restaurant or entertainment business, perhaps add Yelp, OpenTable or Foursquare. In a trade? Think about going after Angie’s List, Home Advisor and the BBB’s website. Focusing on a product? Look into Epinions and, if you sell on Amazon, then the feedback section of Amazon. Customers will review your business in whatever space they like best, but sending them in the right direction is the first step on your end.

Asking Your Customers

Asking for a review is a little like asking for a referral, except easier. You’re not asking them to stand up for you or put their name on the line with a friend or family member. You’re just asking them to tell the world about the positive experience they had with your business, often even under an online pseudonym. You can ask for reviews in a multitude of ways, but before you ask them to review, encourage that you and your business would appreciate a five-star review and ask if there’s anything you can do to ensure that they have a five-star experience. Often the difference between a four-star review and a five-star review is something pretty small.

You can ask customers to leave reviews when you’re working with them in person, through a note card on the counter or with their bill, but some of the most effective review asks come via email or social media. You want your reviews to be online and, by asking people while they’re already online, you’ve already won half the battle. If someone does leave you a physical note or calls with a compliment, it’s worth asking if they are willing to leave a review online OR if you can put their review on your website, where you can control which reviews are posted and what’s said. Just be sure to ask for permission!

Managing Negative Reviews

Of course, when you ask customers for reviews, you have to be ready for less than stellar comments. Some people are just tough customers and a normal-quality experience will come in at three-stars, but you have to be prepared to mitigate negative comments and complaints online. This does require some effort, but it’s worth it. If someone leaves you a terrible review, but people see that you’ve replied with a polite explanation, apology or way to make it right, they see that you’re focused on customer service. Negative reviews that are left unattended – or even worse, replied to in an angry or snarky way – are negative all around. Many review sites will notify you when you’ve received a review, but you may want to check on the review sites you’ve chosen to focus on a couple of times a month. Also, if you have a connection with someone who left a great review, this is a perfect time to thank them and maybe request a referral!

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Bridging the Gap with Millennials

Whether you call them millennials or young professionals, the younger members of today’s workforce want different things from their careers than their parents or grandparents did. For many, work isn’t just about clocking in, clocking out and taking home a paycheck anymore. Sure, they need to make money, but they want jobs they enjoy at companies that are invested in helping them learn, grow and give back. Since bridging the gap in the workforce all comes down to understanding each other, here are three important things we’ve learned about millennials. And remember, sometimes working with a new group of people means changing your mindset and reevaluating your policies.


Millennials don’t want to have to clock in and clock out. It’s not about accountability or time tracking… it’s about flexibility. Many of today’s young professionals don’t stop working when they leave the off – they check emails 24/7, work on projects in the evening when they’re inspired, they take calls on the weekends – and they want to know their time is being appreciated. Let’s face it: we don’t all do our best work between 8am and 5pm, so having some flexibility is essential. If your millennial employee is doing great work and not being unreasonable about hours or time, allowing them that flexibility will encourage them to do their best work and keep them happy.


A great workplace isn’t just location, parking and pay. It’s about having a great group of people to work with every day at a company that appreciates you and that shares your values. Thanks in part to social media, Millennials have a heightened sensitivity to social impact and political alignment. They want to work for (and do business with) companies that share their values, give back to the causes they care about and empower them to make a difference. They also want a business that shows they value their employees with benefits like family leave, donation matching and volunteer days.


Ambitious employees of any generation are going to be hungry to learn, but millennials really want to work for companies that give them opportunities to grow, cross-train, be mentored and, eventually, be promoted. However, they also don’t want to be singled out as millennials for special trainings or events. They want to be included, trusted with important tasks and given an opportunity to shine. If you want your young professionals to be happy and productive, they need to be challenged.

Millennials are some of the most creative, innovative and resourceful employees companies can have, but you need to understand what they’re looking for in an employer if you want to keep them around to make your company bigger and better in the future. If you are having trouble bridging the gap with your younger employees and keeping fresh talent at your company, it might be time to talk to a business coach. Our programs – including a new Bridging the Gap program – can help you and your millennial workforce find a happy medium that helps everyone succeed.

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Want to be Wealthy? Pick Up a Book.

Successful and wealthy people come from all walks of life and their individual experiences have shaped who they are, what they do and how they do it. But most of them have something in common – they read. A lot.

In Steve Siebold’s book How Rich People Think, he points out that a packed library is something many wealthy people have in common. And they’re not usually picking up mystery novels. They’re focused on reading non-fiction books – especially biographies and autobiographies – to learn and build knowledge.

“Walk into a wealthy person’s home and one of the first things you’ll see is an extensive library of books they’ve used to educate themselves on how to become more successful … The middle class reads novels, tabloids, and entertainment magazines,” he says in his research.

Many of the world’s wealthiest people aren’t quiet about their reading habits. Warren Buffett has regularly said that he spends 80 percent of his day reading. In a 2013 interview with The Week, Buffett said the key to getting smarter is reading. In fact, he challenged people to read 500 pages a day.

Obviously Warren Buffett isn’t the only bookworm – Bill Gates’ dad told Forbes that Bill was a huge bookworm and, in a 2016 article, said “Just about every kind of book interested him–encyclopedias, science fiction, you name it. I was thrilled that my child was such an avid reader, but he read so much that Bill’s mother and I had to institute a rule: no books at the dinner table.” In a 2016 New York Times article, Gates said he reads about 50 books a year. Elon Musk, Richard Branson and Mark Zuckerberg are also self-proclaimed avid readers.

Here are just a few of the books you’ll find on our shelves:

Business Adventures by John Brooks

The Effective Executive by Peter F. Drucker

The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton M. Christensen

The Pumpkin Patch by Mike Michalowicz

Think and Grow Rich by Andrew Carnegie

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale

What books would you recommend your business colleagues read? Are there books or publications that have had a dramatic impact on your life or how you do business? Tell us in the comments!

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Success Starts with Discomfort

shutterstock_384355429Taking a chance is uncomfortable. Even if you think you’ve done all the research and you are confident about the destination, it takes guts to venture into the unknown. Just like with sailing… you know your boat, you have the skills to sail successfully and you’re prepared for a day out, but there’s always a chance of rain. But if you want the experience, you can’t stand on the shore. You have to take action, even when it’s uncomfortable.

Wealthy entrepreneurs and other successful professionals have undergone that same challenge in business – some many times over – but if you want to grow, you have to be comfortable with being uncomfortable. You have to know when to take action, even when you’re afraid or faced with uncertainty. Living in your comfort zone will NOT help you build a successful business or build true wealth.

At The Growth Coach, our coaches around the world see many small business owners every year who are uncomfortable with being uncomfortable. Some let their fears stall their progress and, even if they’re making money, they’re not experiencing the kind of business growth and wealth they dream about. Others take a deep breath, prepare themselves and take action. In spite of fear or being out of their comfort zone, they still get moving.  Once moving, their fears and discomfort dissipate.  As an owner and leader, do you take action despite your fears and mental discomfort?  If not, what could that be costing you and your business?

In a blog post Growth Coach Co-Founder Dan Murphy wrote back in 2011, he pointed out that wealthy entrepreneurs have figured out a secret: a person’s comfort zone equals their wealth zone. To get to the next level of success, wealth and happiness, a person must continually leave their comfort zone (status quo, habits, limiting beliefs, knowledge base, skill level, etc.) and try new activities, learn new things, meet new people, take reasonable risks, and seize opportunities.  They must stretch. There is no additional financial growth unless there is personal growth. If you stop growing, so does your business. Put bluntly, if you aren’t willing to get uncomfortable at times, you are not growing and neither will your wealth, Murphy wrote.

If you have trouble taking action and living with discomfort, it might be time to find a mentor, business coach or someone else who can help you be accountable for your successes, failures, progress and procrastination!


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Having a Successful Year Means Focusing on Your Commitments

kurtheadshotJanuary is tough. December is so busy with holiday festivities that, by the time you get to making those New Year’s Resolutions, what you really need is a BREAK. Maybe that’s why so many resolutions end up on the cutting room floor…

So now that we’re into February, it’s time to take a step back and really think about the goals and commitments you’ve set for yourself – and your business – for 2017! This blog post features Kurt Treu, the owner of The Growth Coach in Cleveland, Ohio. Treu is a former Market President and Executive Vice President for US Bank and, in addition to his 32 years in banking, Treu has more than 20 years of coaching experience and transformational leadership training. Treu was a perfect guest for this blog because he not only offers his advice, but also discusses his own personal approach to the idea of goal setting.

Although people think a lot about goals at this time of the year, Treu likes to focus on commitments.

“In believe the most powerful goal setting starts with one big goal and one big ‘commitment’ and that is: Who are you being and who do you want to be? We need to decide this first: who do we want to be showing up in the world and what are we ‘committed’ to? We need to drop self-talk that says anything like ‘I just can’t grow my business, I’m not sure this is going to work…’ For me, that means replacing self-doubt with a commitment like ‘I am an extraordinary coach who can make a difference for anyone I meet with and I am going to create the most extraordinary coaching practice in this market to the point where I will be unable to keep up with the demand’. Once you have that statement in mind, or a statement of your own – you have to ‘show up’ every day with this commitment,” Treu said.

Once you decide on that commitment and you start each day on your “A” game to make it happen, you’ll also realize that every action you take must be in service to and consistent with this commitment.

“This is when you start to break down your actions into smaller goals. For me, it sounds like ‘I am going to hold X number of small business workshops, I am going to have X number of prospects or COI meetings, I am going to put together X number of strategic business owner workshops or 1:1 engagements… you then take action on what needs to happen for these to become a reality,” Treu.

Of course making sure you’re staying on top of your commitments also means constantly evaluating your progress and holding yourself accountable. Although some people like to have a formal way or set timeline to revisit their goals, Treu recommends keeping your goals and commitments top of mind throughout the year.

“At The Growth Coach, we teach the power of accountability. That means holding ourselves to whatever actions and activities we have set for ourselves. Or, better yet, finding a coach to help hold you accountable,” Treu said.

“It’s also important to be open to making changes based on what you are learning from your efforts – if something is not working, you need to ask yourself ‘what is missing’ from this effort and then be open to supplying what is missing to perfect your approach,” he added.

Above all, having a successful year – and a succesful  business – means combining patience with passion, Treu said.

“If you have ever attempted to learn how to play a musical instrument you know that you don’t get great at it in a month or two. You have to practice – a lot – you have to take the steps necessary to build the muscles to be great at anything! So, decide what the steps are and start taking them – do not be discouraged – remember who you are being and what you are committed to and put in the work!” Treu said.

If you need help with any of these steps, it may be time to call your local Growth Coach. Find your coach here:

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Love Your Business by Letting Go (a Little)

shutterstock_77979076Is your business driving you crazy? It’s easy to get frustrated with your business – especially if being at work kept you from enjoying the holidays… But you don’t have to be a slave to your business! You can break free and learn to love your business again! It won’t be easy, but it all starts with learning to let go and take a step back. You have to create systems, learn to delegate, build your team and free up your own time so you can focus on business growth and have a more balanced life.

To get started, ask yourself a few questions:

  • When was the last time you took a real vacation? Could you leave your business unattended for weekend, week or a month without it suffering?
  • Are you able to “turn it off” when you’re not working or do you spend all your time thinking about your business?
  • Are you directly involved in every transaction, decision and problem or do you have systems and a team you trust to handle those without you?
  • As the owner, are you also the technician for your business? Have you trained anyone to do that work in your absence?

At The Growth Coach, we understand that many business owners struggle with these same questions. You’ve built the business – it’s your baby – and it’s hard to let go of even the smallest task. But if you’re going to love your business again and if you want to build a secure future for you and your family, you have to learn to let go a little.

A great way to step back from the busyness is to transition yourself from “business owner” to “CEO.” When you think of yourself as the business owner, it’s easy to make yourself personally responsible for every task within the business. But that busyness is hurting you, your business and your bottom line. If you start thinking of yourself as a CEO, you can treat your business like a separate entity and start to hire, train and build a team that can take on the tasks you were doing as the business owner. A CEO is an ultimate leader – not someone you call with every small problem or question.

Having trouble thinking of yourself as a CEO? Try this… If you’re a CEO, what should your hourly wage be? $50 an hour? $75 an hour? $150 an hour? Regardless of the number, you have to stop doing $10- and $20-per-hour tasks! That’s costing your business money!  What tasks are you doing that you could pay someone else to do so you can focus on business growth? Bookkeeping? Maintenance? Cleaning?  Let others in your organization or vendors do such tasks if they can do them better and cheaper than you can.

Transitioning into a CEO role takes time, but once you’ve gotten there, you’ll find that you are no longer prisoner to your business and that, when you’ve created systems, it doesn’t require you each and every day. And you know what? When you can spend that time building, growing and innovating, we bet you’ll fall in love with your business all over again.

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Four 2017 Challenges from The Growth Coach

shutterstock_520714927At The Growth Coach, we work with clients and companies to help them build stronger businesses and better lives throughout the year, but since January is a great time for resolutions, we thought it we’d come to you with a set of Growth Coach challenges to get 2017 off to a great start.


Resolve to Stick to Your Resolutions

When you make a resolution on New Year’s Day, it’s with the glow of a brand new year ahead. Whether your resolution is about your career – maybe breaking out on your own as an entrepreneur or earning that pay raise – or about your life, family or personal wellness, sticking to it means creating an action plan and holding yourself accountable. If you’ve created lofty resolutions for 2017, set small goals throughout the year to help you get there and to track your progress. Another tip: Go into the calendar on your phone and set reminders about your resolutions to keep you on track along the way.

Learn to Let Go
Even if you love your business, working 24/7 will drain your enthusiasm, make you less productive and, eventually, turn your sights elsewhere. Challenge yourself to focus on balancing your life and making more time for yourself and your family. If you’re a business owner, this means looking at the tasks you do each week, evaluating which ones are the highest priority and find ways to delegate the others. This blog we published in 2015 has some great tips on figuring out which tasks you shouldn’t be doing:

Think Boldly

Being your best and building a successful future means having the right mindset. If you can’t see yourself as a successful business owner and you don’t have a vision for an amazing business, how can you get there? For 2017, set aside time to create bold goals and dreams and get serious about focusing on them. As we said in a blog a few years back, you can’t get comfortable with good enough:

Make Your Mental Health a Priority

Many of us already have eating better or getting more exercise on our list of resolutions, so at The Growth Coach, we want to challenge you to think about your mental health. The stress of being a business owner or company leader can take a real toll on your mental (and, subsequently, physical) health, so taking care of yourself needs to be on your radar. Be sure to set aside time to recharge your emotional battery, whether that means taking a vacation with your family or finding a few hours to do something you love each week. Make yourself a priority in 2017.

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Five Last Minute Holiday Marketing Ideas

unnamedThe holidays are a great time to grow your business, but it’s also hectic and easy to get lost in the shuffle of big box stores’ email campaigns and huge sales. Fortunately your focus on providing excellent customer service and a better shopping experience combined with the uniqueness of your small business is what will help you bring in those last minute holiday and year-end shoppers!

Here are five marketing ideas you still have time to put into place before Christmas and 2017:

12 Days of Christmas

Plan out 12 small things you can do for your customers – one each day – before Christmas Day. Create shareable images on social media and promote one each day to encourage customers to do business with you. By sharing one each day, you can keep people coming back for the next day’s deal!

Focus on the Customer Experience

People are swamped during the holidays and, for many, shopping becomes a real challenge. If you have an in-person retail store, you need to crack through the lure of online shopping and get people out to your business. Consider decorating your business, making your business family-friendly by offering a kids corner to entertain the little ones and offering snacks for hungry customers.

Offer Something Special

You don’t have to offer huge discounts to make your customers happy, but you might want to think about stuffing their stockings with a little something extra. Consider giving away sample sizes of new or under-advertised products or services, coupons or other future discounts with purchases during December. Giving your customers something they’ll actually use – like including some nice tissue paper (complete with your business card) for any purchase over a certain amount – can also be a great way to stay top of mind.

VIP Hours

Do you have a list of emails from your loyal customers? Or a dedicated social media following? Consider offering extended hours – advertised specifically to those people – to help them wrap up their holiday shopping without the usual crowd. This is a great way to say “thank you” to the people who have been supporting you AND bring in some extra sales without much extra work.

Send New Year’s Cards

If your company isn’t necessarily focused on holiday shopping, consider sending Happy New Year’s cards to encourage business in January. Your marketing efforts may have gotten lost in the holiday shuffle, so New Year’s is a good time to get back in front of your customers early.

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Drive Success by Driving Sales


Growth Coach Lisa Hudson

Many entrepreneurs are leaders in ingenuity and innovation, but sometimes they forget about one crucial element of business – sales. Whether you’re a chief-everything-officer handling the entire business alone or a company leader looking to strengthen the numbers from within the ranks, sales is an essential component in businesses of all shapes and sizes.

For this blog, we spoke to Growth Coach Lisa Hudson, President and Owner of The Growth Coach of Carmel. Lisa has been serving business and sales professionals in Carmel, Noblesville, Fishers, Zionsville, Westfield and the surrounding areas in Indiana since late 2015. Prior to The Growth Coach, Hudson was with Macy’s for 26 years, including Vice President Store Manager for 19 years. She worked with team ranging from 60 employees to 450 employees and was charged with using strategic leadership and development skills to drive business results.

Hudson offers the full suite of Growth Coach services, including Sales Mastery, a year-long program aimed at helping business owners, sales professionals and sales teams learn how to turn leads into prospects and then into clients.

“Sales Mastery is a strategic approach to helping participants to drive stronger sales results.  In that program, we learn and practice how to turn leads to prospects to clients at an improved time frame and with a stronger closing percentage.  I like to think of it like taking the swirling clouds you might see at the beginning of a storm and watching it explode into a tornado!  Do you really need more leads or do you need to be more strategic with the leads you already have? Can you learn to maximize and close more often?” Hudson said. “Anyone who drives their business results with a sales focus can benefit from sales coaching, including business owners who started their business and now realize that selling their services is critical to the growth of their business to sales team members that have goals to exceed and want consistency in their sales results.”

Although individual coaching is available, sales coaching – like The Growth Coach’s cornerstone Strategic Business Owner program – is best done in a group setting through the Sales Mastery program. Hudson said working in a group, whether as a company team or as a group of strangers coming together with a shared goal, has a great impact on learning.

“The group setting experience encourages great discussion and allows us to share ideas and best practices, brainstorm and learn the Strategic Mindset approach.  Everyone has successes and, often times, the people in the group are all struggling with many of the same challenges. It is great to see the participants thanking one another for an idea or process that they can try to help ease their workload and results. The group feels a sense of accountability to have met their commitments and share successes with everyone at the next monthly workshop,” Hudson said.

Working with a sales coach isn’t just about learning new skills, it’s also about finding new ideas and inspiration, figuring out how to motivate yourself and hold yourself accountable, and being more strategic about goals and actions – skills that can help you learn to build trust relationships that turn into sales. In addition to personal coaching, Hudson recommends that her clients spend time reading industry expert-written business and sales books to keep the inspiration and motivation flowing. Learn more about Sales Mastery here: and visit Lisa’s site here:

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Business Owner Checklist: Your 2016 Goals

goals-blog-picThe stores are packed with Halloween decorations, some early shoppers are starting to check off that holiday list and the weather is turning colder… which means we’re into Q4! But don’t panic, we still have almost three months left in 2016, which means you still have time to work on your 2016 goals.

We know, in January, many business owners and company leaders took out a notepad and started to think about three things: (1) What were the biggest achievements and challenges of 2015 and (2) What should we do differently in 2016 and (3) What goals are we going to set for the year. Some of those goals might have been specific, such as a sales goal, while others may have been more nebulous, like finding more time to spend with your family. So today, since we’ve crested into the final quarter of the year, we want you to take a few minutes to be brutally honest and ask yourself: How are those goals coming? And did you make the changes you said needed to be made?

If you’re meeting your goals and things are going well in your business and your life, then we just want to remind you to celebrate! It’s important to recognize your progress and the work you’ve put into making things better. And if you’re struggling to meet those goals, here are a few suggestions from The Growth Coach:

Get Busy Being Less Busy

Whether or not you’re a business owner, time is always a convenient excuse. We are all busy with work, life, family, friends… so how can you find time to work on your goals? If being up against the clock has kept you from meeting your 2016 goals, then it’s time to evaluate your life. Look at your calendar and your bank account – where are you spending the most time and money? Do those answers align with what you want in life? If not, then it’s time to re-evaluate your life and make decisions about what’s important and what’s not. When you’ve got your priorities in line, weigh those priorities against your goals and decide what to work on for the rest of the year.

Focus on Owning the Business

Many small business owners are trapped in their business because they’re the most important person on staff.  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 healthy company? If you’re spending every waking hour RUNNING your business instead of OWNING your business, you can’t possibly find time addressing the challenges of the previous year, which will mean falling behind in achieving those goals. Before you can make headway on those 2016 goals – many of which you can probably still accomplish before the end of the year – you have to learn to delegate and get your head out of the everyday operations.

Amending Your Goals

Sometimes we all have to admit that our goals may be out of reach in the timeframe we’ve set for ourselves. Of course we want to encourage you to do better than your best to meet your original goals, but we also know that life happens. If your goal honestly required a year’s worth of work and you’re now stuck at three months until 2017, it’s OK to make changes. You have to hold yourself accountable for reaching your goals and, if those goals need to be amended to make the most progress in Q4, then that’s OK. Beating yourself up over lost time won’t help you build a stronger business OR a more balanced life.

Set aside some time today to dig deep into your original goals, evaluate what you needed to be doing for the last nine months and decide what you can still accomplish in 2016. Just keep in mind that, if you’re changing your goals to meet your expectations for what you can accomplish this year, be careful not to set the bar too low. It’s OK to amend your goals, but don’t do it just so you can put a checkmark next to the line items in January. Your goals should be achievable, but challenging to keep you at your best!

If you’re having trouble reaching your goals or holding yourself accountable, or if you’re ready to talk about next year, then it’s time to chat with a Growth Coach. Find your local Growth Coach here:

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