Q&A Topics — Liber8me

Business Mentoring in the Cloud? A discussion on protecting your business in face of disaster…

Had another great Q&A session on Skype with some members from my online Liber8me programme yesterday.  I love these sessions.  Participants all email me a question beforehand and then the group provides thoughts to the business owner on their issue/question.  I am really the facilitator of the session but of course I throw my 10 cents worth in too! 

One of the questions this time was from a client who has a business based at her home in Christchurch.  Her question was this:  “I’d like to discuss resilience strategies for small businesses.  The recent earthquakes have really highlighted to me how much will fall through the gaps with even comprehensive insurance, so I want to discuss ways how I (or others) might set things up to be better able to survive events like these in the future”.

As you can imagine, some pretty robust discussion poured forth.  We are all now acutely aware of how real an impending disaster could be for any of us.  Seeing the devastation in Christchurch, right on our doorstep, has brought this threat even closer to home for us.  Many businesses have gone under because they just could not reach their premises, access their stock, sell their wares or find their IP/data/critical information.  Could be us next right?

So great question.  What should we be doing?  The small group on Skype all got stuck in with ideas.  Not least of which was that someone should start a business called ‘What if?” and start working with small businesses all over the world on their business protection strategies.  We talked about having your valuable IP, information and working systems based in the internet Cloud rather than (or as well as) on local servers or hardware.  Which of course led on to a quick meander around the likelihood of a worldwide internet crash, or perhaps government regulation on internet access that could threaten businesses in this information age.  We talked about insurance and how policies will be changing now after Christchurch earthquakes.   It seems insurance agencies are talking about making home-based business related equipment insurable under separate cover, so people who can currently claim for loss of stock, computers/laptops, filing cabinets etc under a normal household contents policy may not be able to in future.   Careful analysis of what might be buried in the fine print of all new documents will be needed to ensure we’re all covered under the right policies. If you actually do have to fall off a cliff, its helpful if there IS an ambulance at the bottom…

As I said it was a robust discussion with the main agreement being that all of us need to ask the ‘What if’ questions around every aspect of our business risk in the face of disaster.  Look at every thing your business does to make money and how it would be impacted if there were an earthquake, tsunami, nuclear reactor melt down, mass evacuation… whatever you think relevant to you.  Identify risks and make changes to protect.  Would love to hear any other thoughts on this one.

How do I decrease my clients’ dependence on me?

Your clients believe that you are the only one they want because you have created that perception. Read that sentence again. Your clients believe that you are the only one they want because you have created that perception. Why have you created that perception? Because YOU believe no-one can do what you do as well as you do. This is the fundamental reason why small business owner operators fail to grow their business… they won’t let go. I have talked to an osteopath who believes that his particular method is unique and he has to be there. I have talked to a graphic designer who believes her unique style is what her clients come to her for. I have talked to a landscape gardener who is convinced that her clients would leave if he wasn’t working directly with them. And I’ve talked to an interior designer who believes that her clients love HER more than the technique she has. Do you see a pattern here? If you believe that your business cannot exist with you, you will never create leverage. You will never create systems that set you free and you will never employ talented people you could train to be better than you. So the answer to the question ‘how can I wean my clients off their dependence on me?’ is firstly to check in with your ego and challenge your own belief system about what your clients really want. Do they want YOU or do they want the end benefit your talent brings them? When you are willing to let your clients love your business more than they love you, you are ready to learn how to create a leveraged business and the Liber8me online programme can show you how.

Life’s too short to have bad clients…

Had another great Q&A Skype session with a small group of clients on Friday. It is very pleasurable to be able to facilitate business people in good healthy discussion about some of their business issues. This week the group talked at length with the owner of an accounting franchise who found herself with an unhelpful number of ‘difficult’ clients. By difficult, she revealed that these clients don’t want to pay, want a cheap job and have even tried to bully her into charging lower fees. Her question was “how do I attract more quality clients?” We asked her to define a quality client, and really her needs were not unreasonable. She wanted clients who wanted to pay a fair price for good work, who provided quality information in a timely fashion and with whom she enjoyed working. We then asked her if she had many clients like this already and she was happy to answer that she did. So we suggested that she survey her top client group, the ones she’d like to have more of, and ask them for feedback on her business – the good, the bad, the ugly.. and the lovely stuff they felt they could rave about. We suggested she offer a prize draw to increase participation in the survey and also to develop a referral incentive so that she could also ask for referrals from these clients. The best way to get more like-minded clients is to ask your existing ones if they know people just like them. And to reward them for their effort.

You cannot underestimate the power of a good survey. My business partner in Pet Angels, Lisa and I surveyed the 2000 people on our database last month. We used survey monkey (www.surveymonkey.com) which made it easy for clients to complete and very professional, with multi-choice tick box answers as well as space for comments on various themes. We had impressive participation in the survey and were thrilled with the positive feedback we received, which we were able to then use as testimonials. We learned what our clients love and where we can improve on a few things, and we had a dialogue with our clients which gave us a human, caring face too.

Our accountant friend left the Q&A session with some clear action steps to help her re-engineer her client base into one she would profit better from and enjoy a whole lot more. The first of those steps of course was to fire the whiners, scrooges and bullies to make way for the myriad of good, reliable and fair new clients just waiting to hear from her. We asked her if she felt OK about writing to those clients who didn’t come up to scratch and politely informing them that she would no longer be able to help them. We could hear the smile in her voice when she replied, “Yes, I feel very OK about that!” Good job!