It’s amazing how many solopreneurs will repeatedly say how slow the economy is and yet not look at their part as to why they may not have as much business as they would like.
Case in point: There are two services I need that make my life easier and safer. One is the service of delivery of firewood for the winter.
The other is getting our chimney cleaned for the season. Not just the base but an actual sweeping of the entire chimney.
Last year we were extremely pleased with the gentleman we purchased our wood from and the gentleman who cleaned our chimney.
Prepared to make the same purchases this year with both these men we ran into one small problem – we don’t have contact information for either.
It really is this simple
A simple phone call, postcard or email from these solopreneurs would have resulted in instant business. Rather, we will have to search them out.
Which leads to the question, “Is business slow because of the economy or due to lack of systems which include keeping in contact with customers?”
Granted, there are industries in which the economy has hit hard and heavy. Yet, there are plenty of entrepreneurs who would not be struggling if they had the good sense to keep in touch with their customers.
This is true for both offline and online businesses. If business is not where you want it to be is it really that the economy is slow or is it that you have not done everything in your power to acquire business?
Quit blaming others
It’s amazing how many solopreneurs are quick to blame outside circumstances for less than desirable revenues rather than look at their part in the situation.
A few days ago I was contacted by a gentleman I have purchased several products from over the last year. His email read, “Wanted to let you know I have XYZ. I know you have an interest in these. Are any of the products listed of interest?”
Within minutes I was sending him money for my product of choice.
Had he not contacted me he would not have made an immediate sale. A sale that resulted in a more profitable bottom-line.
Consider this; assuming your products and services are stellar, are you truly doing all you can to make sure your name is in front of your market? If you offer seasonal products or services are you making sure you contact customers before they need you to make sure you are first on their mind when it is time to purchase?
It’s your responsibility
Do you have systems in place that assure you will minimize your risk of being among the countless other men and women who are saying, “The economy, it has to be the economy as to why my business is slow.”
The fact is, you have more control over your revenue than you think. Another fact is, you must be very honest about how much responsibility you are assuming in your success.
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WOW! This is super Kathleen! Harold (my hubby) and I just had this exact conversation this past week.
Our businesses are very different but both have had the best year ever this year. I really think that it goes back to the systems, like you mentioned. The better our systems are AND the more we use them 🙂 the more likely we are to be profitable, prolific, and very successful. Our systems have always set us ahead of the pack. Of course, we learned that from the time we were kids. We both grew up in family businesses, so we know that this recession, even though it is more widespread, it is not the real culprit behind the failure of so many businesses. The lack of good systems and good character cannot be underestimated in their contribution to so many businesses flailing and failing.
I love what I see and experience with your business. 🙂 Your systems are on the cutting edge. Plus, I love that you are sticking to those old fashioned values like CARE, COMMITMENT, and OVER-DELIVERING. These are qualities that have been neglected by so many of the self-proclaimed gurus. I love that you are the real-deal. Let’s rock-it this year! 🙂
Thanks so much for your input Cindy. And for sharing the fact your business and your husband’s business is doing so well specifically due to your systems. You go girl!
Let me start first by saying that I look forward to what you have to share with us coming up. But I’m also moved to tell you that I disagree with your assessment above, at least in part.
Here’s my assessment. I once heard some idiot repeat this old saw to a friend: “Let ’em pull themselves up by their bootstraps…” to which my friend replied: “Yes, but first they have to have boots”
I notice in myself how easy it is for me to tell someone else how to be successful when my rent is paid and there is food on my table.
I’m certain that you are right when you say that often people don’t succeed because they don’t try hard enough but I respectfully submit that if someone is reading anything about how to market themselves, they are making an effort.
Some people reading the same information will be smarter, more aggressive, more ambitious, more able to figure out which actions to take and which to see as a waste of time, money or energy, more undeterred by failure and rejection. Good for them. They are a little ahead of the curve.
On the other hand, if someone is searching, there is a good chance that they are open to learn, change, take action, to at least some degree. We have differing abilities and we have differing resources and circumstances.
I have to say that when I hear this kind of attitude preceding any kind learning, I walk again, knowing that this person has the wrong information for me.
If I come, in time, to find myself wrong in this, I will come and apologize, but for now, you just lost me anyway. I don’t need pushing or prodding to get things done. What I need is to be able to clearly see the action I need to take to move forward.
Anything that doesn’t satisfy that need is not good information for me. Perhaps critical declarations of laziness or lack of ambition is what some folks need, but it is my belief that more flies are caught with honey than with vinegar.
Just a random response on a Saturday afternoon from someone who spends most of every day looking for the next piece of the puzzle towards my success.
Most respectfully, grateful for the chance to express my feelings,
Thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts Susan. I am in total agreement that before we pull ourselves up by the bootstraps we do need the boots. The point I am addressing are those people who are not doing good follow up. The two people I mentioned in my post would have my business with one simple call.
Yet, they are not making the call. Even those who are doing great in business, paying the rent (or mortgage), putting food on the table, etc., must still learn. If we ever reach a point where we are not learning and don’t think we need to we are already in a decline.
I very much respect your feelings and yet, I respectfully disagree that all it takes is information. More times than not we do have to get out of our comfort zone and make choices that move us closer to the outcome we seek.
Thanks again for your input.
OHHH, BOY, Kathleen, did you hit the nail on the head about blaming the economy for slow business, when, in fact, there are many many opportunities to increase our value to the local customers we serve. In our chimney sweep business, we have instituted a reminder post card system. Just asking if he or she would like a reminder each year has kept our schedule steady. In the seasonally driven market that we are in, putting out a coupon and mailer in the summer with a special discount has kept Barney as busy as he wants to be. Our current focus is to develop trust in the customers that find us. There is never a dull moment in creatively exploring ways to increase revenue by doing things that are hi-value and lo-cost.
Thank you for sharing your experience, Kathleen – hope that you find the chimney sweep and the firewood guy, since our search is ongoing for good seasoned wood! You may find him at the Chimney Safety Institute of America (csia.org) which lists all certified chimney sweeps across the country.
Wow Mary! Little did I know I would get a response from someone who knows the Chimney Sweep business inside out. Are you close to the Eugene area? I would love to give you my business. Thanks so much for sharing your insights and expertise.
Thanks for this article Kathleen. I like to have a reminder once in a while to keep following up and keep using great systems. It absolutely does make a difference. It is also very easy to slack off and lose momentum and have to start from square one to build it again. Appreciate your insight and for saying it like it is!
All the best,
Keep that momentum going my friend. I know you are.
I have done the billing for the landscaper who mows my grass and late one summer when I suggested adding a flyer to their bills to remind them to get their home ready for winter – he looked at me like I had 2 heads. Then he thought for a minute and asked what I thought we should add to the flyer. But after several years in business and after working with his dad in landscaping for years — they had never done that before. It also drastically increased his firewood sales 🙂
So the short comment is — I totally agree 🙂 Stay in touch and make it easy for people to reach you — I’m just having that debate this evening with another client…..
Some people do view marketers as monsters with two heads. LOL Seriously though, thanks for your input Nikki.
Years ago I worked with many dentists who offered cosmetic dentistry services to their patients. My job was to teach them how to effectively market their practices and services.
It was amazing how many dentists assumed the client should know what services they offered without being told. When the patient would get cosmetics from another dentist their comment to their dentist when being asked why they went to someone else was, “I didn’t know you offered this service.”
It’s essential for us to stay in touch and keep our market informed.
As a matter of fact I was just thinking about a new training I am going to be offering and what I need to do to inform my market that I have a special webinar for selling products back of the room at live events. Hmmm, I daresay, I just did the first bit of marketing by mentioning it in this thread. (It’s my blog, I can do this LOL)
Next comes the targeted marketing. It’s all a process.
When we resist what is the question we might ask ourselves is, “So how’s that working for you?”
Thanks again Nikki for excellent input.
I for one like hearing the “good news” that there are people out their making a good living in this bad news economy. My business has been put on hold for a few years due to personal matters. It excites me to know that now that I am getting my company off the ground again, that good systems will set me on the path towards success!!!
Blessings and Good Cheer,
ps. Be on the look out for your “Cheer ~Mail” to start coming again! (-:
It will be so nice to see Cheer Mail again LauraBeth. During one of the most difficult times personally (my father passing on and my mother becoming deathly ill) I knew I had to do something different in my business or I would not be able to keep it going the way it was. By asking the question, “What can I do to continue to serve my market and take care of personal affairs?” I found the answer in membership programs and two years later I am thrilled to say, my mom is doing great, my business flourishing and I am continuing to serve my market.
Was it tough during the time I had to reinvent myself? Absolutely. Actually, it was one of the most difficult times of my life, but I either had to buckle up and figure it out (thank God for great friends, colleagues and mentors) and take the steps I was being guided to take.
Thanks for another great post! A year or so ago, I may have been tempted to agree with Susan above and felt slightly beat up on by your post. But, since I know who you are and what you are about from being in some of your programs and having a bit of personal interaction with you . . . . even a year ago — I would have stayed on your list.
BUT — what I know NOW — NOW that I have found MY mission, MY purpose with my new Plus Size Inner Peace Network, is that there is only so much information seeking and reading that you can do before you reach the point where YOU HAVE TO TAKE PHYSICAL ACTION and IMPLEMENT what you’ve learned.
The past 3 years have been a GREAT training ground for me and I have learned A TON of information from you, Denise Wakeman and many others, and NOW — ALL OF THAT is getting implemented into systems and content and design of my new site, membership community and products and programs! Even a book has come out of all of this training time.
So both serve their purpose — and I am thrilled to finally be DOING what I have been LEARNING!
Thanks for all that I have learned from you and that I will continue to learn from you!
I am humbled by your kind words Stephanie. Thank you
Thanks, Kathleen. I really needed to hear that. My systems are not where they should be and the economy has NOTHING to do with it. I just need to go back to the basics and the little things, like a phone call, a handwritten thank you card to let my customers know that I’m still around and to offer genuine help for their businesses.
Please keep advice like this coming.
You said it as it is Wyteria. It’s the basics and the little things that make all the difference. For some reason, we do tend to forget the basics and I for one know that when I am off target it’s usually the basics I need to get back to.
I completely agree with you. I have people trying to hire me all the time, because they want their phones to ring. Some people have such a fear of rejection that they do not ASK for a sale. They don’t want to appear “salesy” or “pushy” but by doing this, they wind up appearing scattered and ineffective. Excellent customer service includes keeping in touch with your ideal client. Remember you are in business to fill a need. Let people know how to find you!
Thanks for the reminder
When I was new to the speaking industry (back in the early 90’s) lots of speakers wanted to find bureaus to do the booking. Same with authors. “Find someone to sell my books for me,” is the battle cry of so many. The fact is, whatever we sell, whoever we are, whatever business we have, we must take responsibility for being a huge part of getting the word out. After all, if we believe in what we are doing and what our products and services can do for our clients wouldn’t we WANT to get the word out?
You have hit the nail on the head, Kathleen. It’s a self-esteem and confidence thing. I find so many people don’t believe in their own value, or they think their material has to be perfect to be helpful to anyone, when in reality “in the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is King.” You only have to know a little more than your prospect for them to want to buy from you and to be grateful for what you have to offer.
Often reminding and convincing clients of this is of even more value to them than the copywriting I do for their sales letters and email campaigns.
When you believe in your offerings’ ability to help people, you’re no longer selling, you’re actually serving. My coach/speaker/guru clients are much more comfortable with this reframing!
And you are right, follow up is key and all of us fall down on it sometimes. Remembering that we are actually supporting our clients (not nagging) helps in picking up the phone.
Great point and article Kathleen, its only recently that Ive started to focus on systems – great at getting the clients to do it but invested much more in technology and outsourcing this year plus more focus and its working. Repetition is the mother of skill and getting these fundamentals in business are ESSENTIAL!!!
Thanks for your comments Amanda. Amazing how essential our systems are. And yes, technology and outsourcing are a part of this.
As always, you keep me on my toes.
As product owners, we often rely on sales people. And the first rule of being a good sales person is to stay in touch. My ex-father-in-law who now has a law firm with more than 500 attorneys in four cities told me that when he decided to open an office in D.C., he went to the potential clients and sat in their offices until they had work to be done. When they did, they looked up and saw him sitting there and he got the work.
He didn’t send an e-mail and say call me if you need me. He wanted their business and would do what was necessary – being available and accessible and easy!
Back to sales people. Whether it’s an in-house sales force or an army of affiliates, helping them stay engaged with customers first and prospects second is key. Customers who’ve bought will buy again easily. And prospects who want your seevices will need you to be available when they are.
That’s why arming sales people (and affiliates) with a REASON to contact those people is essentially. For example, I’ve been running a sales incentive program at my membership site this month. And at the same time, I’ve created an offer that can’t be beat! Both are great reasons for my sales people (affiliates) to contact their prospects. Win-win! It’s generated a lot of recurring income for both of us and an awesome opportunity for people to get a sweet deal.
But contact is the key! People have to reach out.
Thanks for being one of those and thanks for this post. I need to go create more contact opportunities.
Love ya! David
Love that lawyer story David! I’m going to have to share it with the lawyers I train for sure.
Kathleen, your examples are right on. I get so frustrated when I talk to someone who has recently worked with a lawyer and I ask them who it was and they cannot remember their lawyers name. It’s impossible to refer work to someone whose name you don’t know!
So yes follow up and even before that make sure your clients know and remember your name! 🙂
The other day we searched for a chimney sweep. Not only did the gentleman show up as scheduled (timeliness is another area we could talk about), he up-sold us into doing a major cleaning of our clothes dryer and did such a great job we hired him to do a family members dryer. The best part was he asked if we would like him to contact us next year as a reminder. He then gave us tips on keeping your home safe on a refrigerator magnet that had his contact information. Amazing what a little enthusiasm by a vendor can do.