I had to stop the screaming.
That is what I was doing after all. Screaming.
For an entire year, I shouted my company message at would-be customers like an activist with a megaphone... And got zero results.
Project management is among a top skill to master in any business; especially one wanting to grow.
Because without project management, business owners will unnecessarily run into common issues:
You often get derailed by "the unexpected.”
You get interrupted an unexpected number of times daily. Those interruptions come at unexpected times. They each take an unexpected amount of time with which to deal.
That’s why it’s "the unexpected."
These interruptions kill your flow, destroy your focus, and force you to work on the urgent instead of the important.
So how do you deter, prevent, and deal with the problems these unexpected interruptions incur?
I was shocked, hurt, and felt like my idea had been stolen. Though I had the idea first, Nintendo would be the star. Nintendo would make $millions. It took years before I was old enough to recognize the important lesson in this experience...
Are you second-guessing your next great idea? Are you downplaying the value you could provide to others? Are you upset that you found a competitor in the market who seems to be offering everything you want to (and seems to be finding great success doing it)?
It might be time to step back and realize a few important things.
There’s no question about it.
A bad employee drags company standards through the mud. A bad employee distracts management and leadership from their most important tasks. A bad employee drives good employees to gossip and great employees to other companies.
Bad employees have to go.
But what about bad customers?
I couldn't get out of the car fast enough.
The mountain view outside my windshield at Glacier National Park was stunning and, being a self-proclaimed amateur photographer, I felt compelled to capture the scene.
I walked out onto a small dock, past the trees and into the open. A panorama of magnificent natural beauty, unlike any other place I've seen on earth, came into sight. The blue sky, the green trees, the mountains rising out of the horizon and reflecting on a shimmering freshwater lake, all free for my eye to see and my camera to capture.
But I had to wait my turn.
At 35,000 feet, it’s unnerving when your 737 spins sideways like a fighter jet dodging a missile. On a routine flight, you don’t want to feel your commercial airliner shudder, violently, as if the pilot drove you through a field of boulders in a convertible.
But that’s what happened to me on a recent flight, halfway between Washington Dulles and San Diego.
The theme on Charles Street was hard to ignore, though most did. Hundreds of locals passed dozens of storefronts by the hour, largely oblivious to the marketing efforts of each business, silently trapped in their own heads. Their feet carried them mindlessly to their destination. Few stopped to shop.
I, on the other hand, couldn't help myself. Every window display captured my attention. Every smell from every bakery turned my head. The very bricks of the sidewalk, now cracked and gnarled and settled from over 200 years of foot traffic, guided me from one store to the next. While others were lost in their thoughts, I was captivated by the intersection of history and modern-day small business... and I wondered of the story for every small business on the street.
Knowing from experience how difficult it is to start, run, and build and grow a business, I wanted to hear how they did it. How did they get started? What gave them the most success? How did they deal with the daily challenges of keeping their (literal) doors open?
If only they could tell me, and I could share their experiences, the challenges they've faced and the problems they've solved could help thousands of business owners like themselves.
The following article is that help. Not from the handful of brick-and-mortar stores in Beacon Hill, Boston, but from business owners running every kind of business throughout the world.
Let’s keep this simple.
There’s one month left in 2017 and we all know we should be looking ahead to our goals and activities for 2018…
But the end of the year is a busy time for small business owners, and it’s all we can do to survive and thrive. So we wanted to help you think about 2018 by listing some upcoming trends.
These small business trends can hopefully help motivate you to take your operation to the next level in the new year!
With my body aching from head to toe and hands covered in fresh blisters, the thing that hurt the most was my pride.
I tried to hide the pain from my two sons. But they could see right through my stiff posture and a fake smile.
Anybody could have.
When you run out of strength and have to ask for help, it hurts.
When you hear people laughing at you, it hurts more.
When you realize that you were rowing a boat with the anchor dropped while dragging 75 pounds of seaweed through the mud, you feel like a complete and total dunce.
3 Hours Earlier…
The rising power of consumers is perhaps the biggest game-changer in the world of modern business.
People are well-informed, less tolerant of shabby service, and more specific in their demands. Digital technologies have empowered them and transformed the way businesses perceive and deal with them. Nowadays, attracting customers is just one part of the success equation.
The real work starts once you need to keep their attention and win their trust. ..
If you're reading this, you may have dealt with angry and difficult customers too. Maybe you’re dealing with one right now?
These customers seem to suck all your time, energy, and happiness right out of your business. They complain, make demands, and force you to spend an inordinate amount of time fixing their problems so nasty word doesn't spread about your customer service.
It's a firefight. And since you’re the business owner, someone handed you the hose.
Say the wrong thing, and it just adds fuel to the fire. Let it burn too long, and it spreads.
So how do you keep it from spreading? More importantly, how do you keep the next one from starting so you can focus on building a business instead of controlling damage?
That's what we're going to look at today. And it all starts with creating a customer focused organization, from the top down...
Half of us were annoyed. The other half were pissed.
“We have to let users ‘undo’. Our product is useless without it," I argued (I was on the pissed off team in case you’re wondering).
“But nobody is going to NOT buy our product just because there’s no undo," came the response.
We argued far longer than we should have, debating the intricacies of an undo button and whether our engineering team should develop this one feature for our customers.
After multiple meetings, half a dozen arguments, and hurt feelings all around, a decision was finally made.
It's mind-boggling, isn't it?
You have a great meeting with a potential customer. Your presentation is on point. You answer all their questions. And they show all the buying signs.
Before leaving, you end with a hearty handshake and promise to send more information.
Only when you do, they don't respond.
You leave them a friendly voicemail. You shoot them another email. You remind them about your great meeting. And what do you get in return?
You follow up again. You ask them to call you back. You try anything to get them respond. And what do you get?
At some point, you give up... figuring your prospect was never interested to begin with. Enough with them. On to the next client.
Sound familiar? It's happened to me dozens of times.
Unfortunately, I learned later, I had left dozens of sales on the table.
There's good news, though. With one simple technique, you can drastically increase the number of silent prospects that return your calls. Case in point, when I implemented this technique, my response rate increased by over 60%!
I’m a big believer in looking back, reflecting on what has gone well, and building on that in the new year to get closer to my goals.
When I look at Modern da Vinci, the growth we’ve seen is incredible. It’s a sign that we’re on the right track, but more importantly, it’s a sign that the small business community is as vibrant as ever.
Here are some incredible statistics from 2016:
These statistics are obviously exciting for Seth and me here at Modern da Vinci. But more so, these statistics should make you proud. Proud to be a small business owner. Proud to be part of an ongoing conversation with owners like yourself, all learning and growing together.
We’re excited for what’s to come in 2017. We’re looking forward to growing more with you and finding new small business owners like yourself to learn from.
But before we end 2016, it’s worth reviewing the top posts in each of the five areas for a growing, thriving small business.
It's Small Business Saturday, and today's the day when small businesses like yours get to fight for your share of the pie.
And the pie is quite large.
In 2015, over 95 million people spent $16.2 billion (with a B) in small businesses and more than 55% of Americans were aware of the holiday! This year, some project small businesses can look to claim nearly $18 billion in receipts, a 10% increase over last year [Grasshopper Blog – Small Business Saturday Statistics].
Whether you've prepared for this day or not, it's too late to adjust course now. It's too late to develop a new marketing campaign, and too late to create flyers for some new sale.
But it's not too late (even if you are reading this at the end of the day) to do a few simple things that will delight your customers, getting them spending more money, getting them to share the word with friends and family, and ultimately attracting more customers to your business.
One of the biggest struggles small business owners have is generating leads.
Sound like you?
Even if you're not "struggling," you'd probably like to have a few more. I know I would.
That's why I went on a voyage across the Internet, searching for a cheat sheet, an ultimate guide, or any enlightening article on lead generation ideas. But after reading more than 50 articles, listening to dozens of podcasts, and skimming the highest rated sales books on Amazon, here's what I found:
Sure, some articles had a few good tips, but most were incomplete or misguided. No single article had it all. No single article was full of quality ideas for generating leads. So, I set about creating this article—a collection of the best tips on the Internet for generating quality leads—first for myself, and now for you.
Look, there’s no way around it. Delivering bad news sucks.
When you’re receiving bad news, you sit back, you listen, and you react.
But when you are delivering bad news, your mind races with possibilities: What will I say? How will I say it? How will they react? What if they get angry? What if… what if…
It doesn't get any easier as a small business owner. With your customer's satisfaction and the revenue they generate at risk, delivering bad news can be downright stressful.
If you've never had to deliver bad news to a customer, congratulations. This post is for you. Because inevitably, you will.
If you have had to deliver bad news to a customer, I feel for you. This post is for you as well. Because I've been there a few times before. So many times, actually, my business finally figured out how to do it well. In fact, after delivering the worst news in our company's history, the customer literally called us back to thank us for it.
I’d like to tell you that story, and help you craft a “bad news message” for the next time you need to do the same.