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What Do High Growth Businesses Do Differently?

Over the past 5 years the importance of the “High Growth Business” and how this relatively small group of businesses disproportionally impa...

Wednesday 18 August 2010

Are you Working for a Madman?

As the owner of a small business you are responsible for everything. You will have discovered by now that running a business is a lot more complicated than you first thought and producing your product is only a small part of running a business.
Typically businesses are started for two reasons firstly because the owner was made redundant  and secondly because the you thought you could do better than your current owner in making it, delivering it  or providing the service.
Now that you've started your new business you really start to get stuck in. You've got to find orders so you go out and sell, process the orders arrange to have you product and or service made and delivered. Next you've got to arrange to invoice for it the to make sure you get paid, chase debt, provide information to the authorities on profit and earnings; take on and manage staff (never easy), set manage and review the company strategy. To keep the company successful you must keep this cycle moving 
Pretty soon you're actively involved in all these areas, yes you've employed staff but they don't seem to have the drive or the enthusiasm to get it all done, so you cover.
You've had your business now for 2-3 years its bigger but your working harder and harder to keep on top of things, your get a reasonable salary but probably if you dare calculate it you are the lowest hourly paid in the company. You get less time off and your working weekends.
If this looks like you -  then you're working for a madman: and the madman is you!
So how do you bring back sanity?
Well the first thing to do is to find a way to change “insanity” as they say “is doing the same thing today as you did yesterday but expecting different results”
Change is what is required and it starts with you.
So the first thing to do is to put some clear structure down for your business and do some business planning. Next identify which functions you are best suited to best and give those your least able to do to others. Third get some structure and processes into your business, yes but you say I already have that. Then ask yourself can this process run smoothly without your intervention and is there a step by step guide. If the answer is no which I suspect it will be then you don't have a process.
Fourthly, work your way out of jobs, that is to say once you've got a structure and a process mapped out give that work and responsibility to someone else, your job is to manage them not do it for them.
Whilst this is straight forward it is not easy, the day to day problems caused by your lack of structure will not immediately go away but if you're persistent you'll see tremendous benefits.
Exigent Consulting specialises in providing Business Turnaround, Sales, Marketing and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business.

Monday 2 August 2010

8 Steps To Successfully Dealing with Negative Online Reviews

Two coincidental events lead me recently to think about handling negative online comments. Firstly, there was a reference to it in a recent episode of the "Hotel Inspector"; and secondly one of my clients had a run in with a customer who subsequently orchestrated a campaign of negative comments across a wide array of  review sites. 

The risk of negative reviews is highest in retail businesses where customers can get very angry about perceived poor or downright bad service. It is often these businesses who are least able to effectively combat such publicity. So What should you do.

Well obviously the first thing is to monitor the web to see what reviews if any have been posted about you. Once you've identified relevant review sites bookmark them and review them every week. Now as the saying goes "you can't please all the people all the time" so you will at some point get some negative feedback- whether its justified or not. 

Your second action is to get some reviews on to those sites, so ask your friends and best customers if they could write a few words about why they like your business. This pre-emptive action will also naturally act as a counterbalance to any negative comments. 

When you finally get some negative feedback its vital that you "Stay Calm". I know if you're like me you take any criticism of the business personally but getting emotional and either slagging off the complainant or the review site in general will only make things worse. Certainly don't do what my client did and make direct contact concerning the complaint as far from calming things down it added fuel to the fire!

Don't expect help from the review site. They don't know who's telling the trust and frankly they don't care. There view is the more activity and controversy on their site the more traffic they'll get and the more advertising revenue they'll obtain. Shocking isn't it they're doing it to make money.

So how do you respond? 

1. Don't respond immediately. If you can copy the complaint into a word file for consideration later. 

2. Give yourself 24 hrs to reply, view at their complaints and comments as many times as you can but don't start to respond until you stop getting emotional when you read it.

3. Stopped getting emotional? Yes? Its only at this point you should consider responding as by this point you'll be able to view the review objectively and reply in the same manner. 

4. Draft your response and review it properly to make sure it addresses their concerns and also that it can't be mis-construed.

5. Get someone else to review it. Only ask a member of staff if you are confident that they will be strong enough criticise your response if they don't think its appropriate. Otherwise ask someone not connected with your business.

6 . Only now its been reviewed should you submit your response

7. Since review sites are set up like blogs, that is with the latest response first, try to get some of your friends to add positive comments to counter balance the negative reviews.

8. Learn from the experience

Oh and 9. rinse and repeat if and when it happens again.

Exigent Consulting specialises in providing Business Turnaround, Sales, Marketing and Mentoring to the Small and Medium Business. We help Business Owners improve the profit performance of their business.