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Atychiphobia fear of failure in small business

Atychiphobia fear of failure in small business

One of the most common fears I come across with my small business clients is the fear of failure, technically atychiphobia, and they often refer to it as “doing it wrong”. I’m not convinced that they are afraid of mistakes as much as they are afraid of actually failing. Failing themselves and worst of all failing others.

Most common reasons for atychiphobia in small business owners

Too often the reason that small business owners fear failure is the stories that they tell themselves. They talk themselves into believing they will fail. Some of them are so convincing they actually never even try so they never fail.

Imposter Syndrome is another common cause of atychiphobia. I tend to find they go hand in hand; the feeling that we’re not good enough and that we are likely to fail and afraid of failure.

Imposter Syndrome and the fear of failure

People with imposter syndrome work hard and are diligent. They work hard to meet what they believe the expectations are of the person that they’re performing the work for. The problem is, is that they can never live up to those standards because they’re actually not meeting the standards of the person that they’re providing the work for. They’re trying to meet what they believe the standards are.

They hate failing themselves and others, even when it’s only the potential of failing what they perceive the expectations are. They fear being caught out for not achieving these expectations that they believe are being set. It goes a little something like this:

I believe I am expected to do xyz I can’t meet these expectations. I’m not meeting them. I’m going to get caught out, I’ve got to work harder. I’m a fraud. I look I can’t even meet their needs. It’s not happening, I’m not going to do it.

The Imposter Syndrome fear spiral

fear failure Atychiphobia quote JK RowlingWhat happens next is a fear of failure and either:

– a need to cover up for not being able to achieve what they believe they should. They say what they believe is expected of this person that they’re delivering the word true. And they downplay their abilities so that they don’t get rejected. Or,
– they keep being working harder and harder hoping that if they keep this person on side, everything will be okay, they won’t be called out. Or,
-they use charm and perceptiveness. They try and win over the support of the other person to avoid that rejection, perceived failure and to ensure they are still liked and accepted.

The problem is that none of these expectations are real. That means that their failing is not a failure to the other person/people, it’s a failure to themselves and their own expectations. The person with Imposter Syndrome isn’t aware that these are false expectations and by default false failure and false atychiphobia.

Positive reinforcement, Imposter Syndrome & the Fear of Failure

So what do you do if you manage someone like this, you have a friend like this, or you or your partner is like this and you praise them or receive praise? When the good things come out of that other person’s mouth they don’t believe it because they believe that the other person is being nice or wanting more out of them through sweet talking. They also believe that the person offering the complements doesn’t really know what they’re like.

Then they downplay any positive reinforcement that they receive from this person. This is followed up with modesty. No, it wasn’t me. No, it was nothing. This is one thing that I did. It was nothing. It’s Okay. People do that so that they can’t be challenged; so they don’t get into an argument; so they can’t be criticised and feel like a failure.

The result

Results are put back on the other person, no one would be criticised for that and you look like you’re being nice.

The person with the Imposter Syndrome then believes:
– I’ve done a number on them.
– I didn’t achieve the level that I thought I caught short, or they expected me to achieve.
– Yeah, Look, they gave me some great feedback. But realistically, It was nothing.
– And plus, I was just charming them. I didn’t actually mean what I said was trying to keep them on side.
– Until next time.
– Until they actually catch me out.
– Until I fail.

What does the fear of failure do?

fear failure Atychiphobia quote Louise BooneLike Imposter Syndrome, the fear of failure keeps us playing small. It stops us from accepting and acknowledging our skills, our abilities.

We hide because of it because we don’t want to be caught out. For me, is it was I don’t want to be seen to be too big for my boots. So we downplay everything or play safe. Don’t stand up, don’t stand out. Then you can be caught out. You can’t be acknowledged for things you don’t deserve because you believe you’re a fraud, just waiting for the axe to drop.

In reality, you and your small business stays where it is, or worse goes backwards and proves your fear of failure. All because you couldn’t meet what you perceived were the expectations and didn’t want to be caught out. So you played it safe, made excuses, backed out, and avoided any action to avoid failure. And it worked, of sorts. But then sometimes you feel like the fraud and the failure you fear everyone is seeing you as. And you beat yourself up.

It’s a vicious cycle.

It’s tiring.

I’ve been there.

If you find yourself or someone you know in this position, I encourage you to download this free resource I developed for a local University at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The group was filled with fear and uncertainty and I took the larger toolkit I use to help clients overcome Imposter Syndrome and distilled it into a group of handy tools. I still use these tools today.

  • September 18, 2020

When small business growth isn’t all that it seems

In February 2014, I realized that I had the ability to support my friends in small business by teaching them what I knew about the psychology in social media. I ran live events, wrote blogs, live streamed, consulted. Business was great.

By January 2015, I mapped out my growth in my business with the numbers from the months and I was looking to crack the need to charge GST in my second year and the illustrious 6-figure business by my third year.

In September 2016, I did a Facebook Ads course with a well-regarded and successful coach and started to plan how I was going to retire my husband to work in my social media consulting agency. He would run the ads and I would consult on the psychology of engaging organic content.

In February 2017, I closed down my first and other business of 6 years to concentrate solely on consulting. I had also realized that my clients needed information on running a business. I had a number of ongoing business coaching clients and I had to close my books to new social media marketing clients.

In September 2017 I attended my first international conference that was paid for by my business. I attended my second in March 2018.

small business growth quote February 2018, I relaunched my organic Facebook Course as an online drip-fed course.

Looks pretty good huh?

What if I added in the following:
September 2015, I had my first session with a business coach who I knew and trusted and they told me not to focus on the psychology of social media because no-one understands it and just to focus on organic Facebook because I was good at it.

January 2016, my Dad was diagnosed with stage 4 Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive and terminal brain cancer, and so began my time supporting my parents through his disease and treatment.
March 2016, I put myself under the care of a psychologist.
August 2016, my Dad’s cancer metastasized to his spine.
December 2016, my Dad passed away.

January 2017, I realized that I didn’t want to run a Facebook Agency as I didn’t enjoy the repetitive work.
June 2017, I had a meltdown about my business. I hated it. I realized that the work I was doing on organic Facebook wasn’t being true to myself. I was competing with other businesses and I bringing on new clients was difficult because they had been burnt by other social media consultants who promised the stars but didn’t deliver. I had to get back to the psychology of social media and neuromarketing (not that I knew what that meant then).

September 2018, I was away on a business retreat and I again realized that my business still wasn’t where I wanted it to be. I needed to start to look harder at what I actually wanted my business to be and that I had to undo the damage done by confusing my audience with the bad advice I’d received in 2015. I knew that I didn’t want to offer social media marketing services, the main part of my business and what gave me ongoing income.

October 2018, I put my home on the market in preparation to build a new home and moved my family in with my Mum. What I didn’t know was that this would be for 2 years and would see me supporting my Mum through a number of health issues.

January 2019, my son had a series of accidents that saw him hospitalized.

June 2019, I realized that I needed more tailored and focused support for my business and I had to seek support outside my existing network.

January 2020, after 12 months of planning and issues with our builder our house build started.

James Arthur Ray quote small business growth personal growthThat brings us to today where:
– my income is still where it was in 2015
– I’m in my new home
– I’m still supporting my family through health issues
– I have fewer clients
– I’ve moved to more speaking events to lead to consultations
– I’ve turned my back on the hype of social media coaches
– I’ve had to differentiate myself on psychology and become ok with being on my own in this space as it applies to social media and business
– I’ve had to challenge my mindset about how psychology in business is becoming popular and those without qualifications start to see that it’s a growth market

So why am I telling you all of this?

All is not what it seems when it comes to business growth

If all I’d told you was what I had outlined in the first list you’d think my business was an incredible success. If all you’d seen was my financial growth you’d consider me a failure.

Many years ago, when listening to an influential Australian business coach, I realized that not all was what it seemed. Her 7-figure business was built on debt and 6-figures of advertising costs.

Small business growth is personal

As small business owners we are so much of our business.

So why is it that we ignore the importance of personal growth in business growth?

Had it not been for me breaking down and having to become very clear on my drivers, especially my values, I’d either be stuck with a business I hated or not in business at all!

Financial growth isn’t all there is to small business growth

I have two money quotes that stick in my head, “rich people don’t get there by spending carelessly” and “you need to spend money to make money”. You might think they contradict each other, but I think they are complementary.

Every overseas business trip I’ve taken, I’ve grown. I’ve learnt more about my chosen field, I’ve learnt about which field I want to be in and I’ve learnt the most about myself.

Working with business coaches and specialists to help me grow my business, I have learnt a lot about the field I want to be in.

Both travel and coaching have been large expenses to my business and have provided me with great personal growth and allowed me to position my business appropriately so it can grow.

While all of my growth has been an inside job, using my skills and working on me, I do appreciate that it’s not always.

What I do know is that my clients who have broken glass ceilings have done it on the back of personal growth. And that’s where I come in.

So how do you account for personal growth when it comes to being part of your business growth?

  • September 11, 2020

7 tips to improve your perseverance in small business

I hope by now you know me for providing frank advice and I have to be honest, some days persevering in small business is just hard. The majority of the time our friends and family just don’t get it and there are days where it all seems easier to pack it all in and get a J.O.B.

The other day I asked the members of my Facebook Group how they persevere in their small business. I’ve taken some of their responses and my own tips and made this list of seven tips for persevering as a small business owner.

It’s not personal

Can I be honest? This is the hardest one for me. I take things to heart. I’m a recovering people-pleaser. Not taking things personally is a muscle I’m learning to flex.

When things get hard, there’s knockbacks, it’s hard not to take it personally. To feel like a failure. To doubt ourselves. To talk harshly to ourselves.

The thing is, there are a lot of things which influence our small business success, we are not the only one. You could have done all that was possible and it still could have gone wrong. If it’s a bad interaction with a client, staff member, contractor or supplier; remember that they all have their own drivers and own influencers and we all have bad days.

In the end, it’s about business, it’s not personal. (Even though we are so much of our business)

Take responsibility for your actions

Ok, so it’s not personal but we all have a part to play. Part of persevering is understanding the role we play. That can be for good or bad.

When I asked my group what persevering was to them and their small business, taking responsibility for their actions was one response.

The other part I see to taking responsibility for your actions and persevering in small business is that it’s taking a step up. It’s backing yourself. It’s backing your business. It’s being objective. It’s being the business owner your business needs you, and your clients deserve, you to be.

Facing the knockbacks head on

Ok, so it’s not personal, we’ve taken responsibility for the role we had to play, what about next time? When it comes to knockbacks and rejections in small business sometimes persevering and tacking the knockback head-on. And this is why this was one of the skills my group identified as necessary to persevere as a small business owner.

The first part to tackle is any fear of rejection. Fear is our most basic driver and it needs to be in check before we can progress. I have identified six steps to handling a fear of rejection, review them and then come back.

When we face the knockbacks head-on, and live to tell the tale, we are adding to our success story and growing our resilience. It boosts our confidence, self-esteem, and self-worth. All necessary parts of our mindset as a successful small business owner.

Pushing back against the inner voice

I hinted to it earlier with the fear of rejection. Our brains hate gaps and love filling them with stories. That’s our inner voice.

Our inner voice speaks to us with the stories we have heard, been led to believe, or makeup ourselves about ourselves. Pushing back against our inner voice was the most common way my group identified to persevere in business.

To get through some things we need to quieten that inner voice, sometimes that means pushing back, sometimes it means challenging it. It’s a process. Done well it will stick with you for your lifetime and the inner voice will only fill you with good and encouraging stories. Your own person sheer squad.

One day one step

Just do one thing that gets you closer to your goal. Some days you just don’t want to. This is one place my group and I agreed. (On not feeling the love and the solution) We all agreed that persevering in our small business came down to doing one action every day that moves the needle, no matter how small. We also agreed that sometimes persevering in small business also came down to taking it one day, one step at a time.

Values

For me, one of the things that keep me going in my business when things get tough is my core value. I really love values as I find that they are my guiding principles. When I feel bumped off course or swayed my core values restore me to my path. If I feel doubtful, they guide my action. Being clear on and keeping my actions consistent with my values helps me to persevere in my business.

Have a community around you that lifts you up

It’s lonely at the top. It can also be lonely as you work your way there as a small business owner. I mentioned at the start that friends and family often don’t understand. This is where a community comes into play. I have been a paid member of a few and have my own communities I foster. Either way, owner or member, having a community to help you celebrate the good times, pick you up in the tough times, and answer your questions when you’re stuck. (Yes, my group does this for me as an owner)

The caveat is that they must lift you up. They don’t have to be in your industry (or they can be). They don’t have to be the same gender (or they can be). They just need to lift you up. It’s the people who lift you up who help you to persevere when you run a small business.

What I’d love to know now is which of these you rely on and which you will bring in to your business?

  • September 3, 2020

Organic Facebook engagement (neuromarketing case study)

Penny (not her real name) was the owner of a children’s business. She had 10 000 fans on her Facebook page but low organic engagement. With that many fans she expected to at least get some likes and comments on her page, but no.

Penny had tried ads to increase her sales numbers and to engage more of her audience, but it didn’t work. All she did was make Facebook richer and increase the costs of her business. Not what she needed or expected for her business.

Penny’s business wasn’t new. It had a solid client base and was well regarded in the marketplace. She had good like numbers. She ticked all the boxes of what most people would expect for a successful business but her social media was letting her down. She needed her social media to gain new clients and to engage existing clients for new products and services.

How we increased the organic Facebook engagement

There were four main problems to fix to ensure we had high engaging organic Facebook content. There was the most common mistake I find business owners make, so don’t feel bad if you are doing the same. Then there was meeting the three key scientifically proven parts to engaging social media. Finally, I sprinkled some neuroscience magic over it all to seal the relationship with the new fans.

Customer neuromarketing assessment

Too often, businesses forget that it’s a person they are connecting with online. That means that we need to understand and appeal to what engages the audience. When it comes to business, even a competitors’ audience can have a slightly different psychological approach needed to engage an audience.

Previous research shows that to have highly engaging content you need to appeal to the self-image of the audience. What I did with Penny was a comprehensive psychological profiling of her audience to ensure that when we used a neuromarketing approach to her content, we were delivering highly effective posts.

Once the profiling was complete, I was able to develop a social media content calendar to meet the various marketing objectives.

 

Timing of content to increase organic engagement

Posting at the wrong time is the most common error businesses make with their organic content. While you may see various infographics touting “the best time” to post online, the best time is actually found in your Facebook Page Insights.

In Australia, Yellow have previously produced reports detailing when the various age brackets of the Australian population are online. If your page is new and has limited Insights, or if you’ve previously bought fans, or you’re trying to target a different audience, I strongly suggest reading the findings of their reports.

In Penny’s case, I took the various content types we’d uncovered in the psychological profiling and scheduled the content accordingly. Doing it this way meant that we were appealing to the differing audience behaviours through the day and providing them with relevant and engaging content to match these times. (Perfectly in line with what Facebook wants for the platform)

Organic content planning

I have to admit, until recently I never planned out my content. I was the kind of person who scheduled from one week to the next but it never aligned with my strategic business objectives.

For Penny, we planned out content to meet the strategic objectives of the business, to incorporate lead times, and to promote community involvement and thereby appealing to the core audience psychology and the scientific principles of engaging content.

Organic Engagement on Facebook posts

The final piece was to trigger the audience’s neurochemicals and to create a stronger bond between the audience and the brand.

By engaging with the audience on the page’s content, I was able to use my understanding of how our brain works when using social media to improve the relationship and feeling of the audience towards the company.

A client who feels closer and more aligned with a brand, the result of these neurochemicals, is more likely to buy from that company.

 

 

Result

So what was the result of the neuromarketing assessment, content plan, scheduling and organic engagement?

When most pages have reach and engagement of between 2 – 5%, Penny’s page had the following:

Minimum average post reach by follower – 20%
Median average post reach by follower – 60%
Minimum average post engagement by follower – 76%
Median average post engagement by follower – 110%

Of course, there were posts that “went viral” and totally blew the numbers up. But to be honest, I never aim for viral posts because, where do you go from there?

I’d like to say that Penny is still with me; like many of my clients, I get them to a great place and they take their social media in house. I can tell you that she is not following the strategy or the neuromarketing we did. If only she’d done my course, she would have had all the skills at her fingertips (or her staff’s).

I can tell you that I achieve the same results regardless of the industry. I’ve got tradies to beauticians booked out for a month in advance with the same techniques. The beauty is that I can consult and train your staff, or you can learn the skills to use in your own business (or even start up your own social media agency) just reach out for more information or with any questions.

  • August 27, 2020
earing your competitor as a competitive advantage in small business

Fearing the competition wins is a competitive advantage in small business

One of my small business coaching clients is deathly afraid that their competition will beat them, that they will get the sale, win the contract, get over the line before them. They see it as a disadvantage to themselves that they lose out. But what if fearing the competition is actually a competitive advantage to running a small business?

Keeps you motivated

I have to be honest, I sometimes use fear of competitors as my competitive advantage, and ultimately theirs, to motivate my clients. It works particularly well when they are being indecisive and I know that missing out or disappointing people is a key driver of theirs.

Often we can become caught up in our own head, our own doom, our own moping. Sometimes we need something to take our attention off of ourselves and to put it externally to motivate ourselves to move forward.

I want to put in a word of caution, these tactics work best when used sparingly and when we need to quickly ‘flip the switch’ on our thoughts and behaviours.

Keeps you in tune with what the market wants

When we check in with competitors, we hope to see them delivering what the market wants. Sometimes this is true. However, if we dig a little deeper and look at their social media comments and reviews we can see if this is actually the case. I can tell you that fearing a competitor who isn’t meeting the needs of the customers is not a competitive advantage.

Quote on competitive advantage in small business When we look at the reviews and comments you can even see:
– what sort of customer service they offer
– if they are active on social media which indicates to customers their interest in marketing and growth
– gaps in product or service
– opportunities to improve market share, or
– places to focus efforts.

So when you watch a competitor you fear, remember to look at it as a way to achieve or get closer to your goals, and make sure that your actions align with your values (not theirs).

Keeps you focused on your end game or goal

When you’re worried about losing to your competitor, you better have a good idea of what you are actually losing. That means knowing where you’re headed, your goals, and how you planned on getting there.

There’s no competitive advantage in small business in doing things that don’t help you get to where you want to be. I’ve also been around enough underhanded competitors to know that they will throw outlines to see if they can reel you in but in reality, the bait you took isn’t actually part of their goals either. And there you’ve gone swallowing it hook, line, and sinker!

Do you know what your goals are? Do you have a plan? No! Then best get that sorted.

Lifts cortisol

Fear invokes cortisol, a stress hormone. While there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, a peak of cortisol can sharpen your attention and help increase your blood sugar (generally in readiness to fight or flee).

In small business, this surge of cortisol can awaken your brain and sharpen your focus on the situation. This could make it easier for you, when used with the earlier points, to make a decision on how to use your competitor as your competitive advantage.

Final word on fearing your competitor as a competitive advantage in small business

Pin quote Brian Tracy about competitive advantage in small businessThe best way to achieve a competitive advantage in this situation is when you are:
– you ensure that you’re not making the same mistakes (especially social media mistakes) as they are making
– you are acting with you and your business’ best interest at heart and not out of vindictiveness or jealousy
– incredibly clear on what you want for your business
your personal and business drivers
– you stay in alignment with your drivers, particularly your values.

I’d like to know if you use any of these strategies in your business? I admit that using social media to show gaps and opportunities is a handy competitive advantage.

  • August 19, 2020
why is risk taking important in small business

Why is risk taking important in small business?

The other day I polled the members of my Facebook group about risk taking in their small business. A resounding 80% of them said that they were risk-takers but took calculated risks (10% didn’t like taking risk and 10% were ‘go hard or go home’). It made me think why risk-taking is important in small business and what calculated risks look like.

Before I start, I want to clarify that this blog isn’t about legal, financial, strategic, operational, compliance, or reputational risk. These are specific types of risks. This article is about the process of taking calculated risks in small business, things to consider, and why it’s important as a small business owner.

Why is it important to take risks in small business?

Most often, I see small business owners taking risk when they are at a ‘growth edge’ and are about to do something new or expand. Without it, their business stays put and they can lose competitive advantage. Without it, they question what may have been.

Risk-taking is a step to growth. It shows confidence in your brand and your business. Risk-taking can act as a ‘shot across the bow’ to competitors. It can show customers that you’re dedicated to the progress and longevity of your business and will invest in a future relationship.

What happens when you don’t take risk as a small business owner?

I get it, change can be scary and taking risks gets a bad name – other than being risky. There’s comfort, surety and familiarity (and we know what’s said about the last one) in where we are and not taking risks. But what are the “risks” in not taking risks?

risk taking small business estee lauder quoteStay where you are

By not taking risks you avoid opportunity and stay where you are. Now that doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll never get to the same point you would have taking the risk, it generally means that it can take longer.

Don’t innovate

When taking risks involves trying something new, not taking them means that you don’t innovate. The joy of these risks is that they are often iterative; you take the risk, find that something needs to be changed, you innovate and perhaps take another risk.

Lose to competitors

For some business owners, the idea that their competitors will beat them to an innovation or new sector of the market is unbearable. For these business owners, they can become consumed by the ‘what ifs’ and ‘if only’ of what could have been theirs.

Steps to small business risk-taking

I have to be honest, sometimes I’m a seat of my pants/gut feeling kind of gal. But as you know, the majority of business owners interviewed said that they are calculated risk-takers. So, for those of us out there, I wanted to put together some key steps to taking calculated risks.

Know your drivers

Taking action out of the decision to act on risk comes from us having a clear understanding of what drives us and our business. It’s important to not only know our goals and how the risk will help us achieve or near them but also the fears and needs we may need to negotiate along the way.

Does it align with your values

I’ve said it before, values are our compass, they keep us true and when we fall out of line we have a feeling of dissonance. If you are clear on your personal and business values and how the risk, your feeling toward them, and the action needed to align with your values, then the decision can become crystal clear.

For example, one of my values is courage. Sometimes I’m unsure of taking a particular risk and it’s often through fear. However, when I act from my value of courage, fear disappears and action becomes simple.

Will it help you achieve or get closer to your goals

It seems odd to have to say this but in all honesty, we do get caught up in FOMO and wanting to be part of the crowd or jump on the latest thing. I liken it to buying something you didn’t need and will never use because it was on sale. Sure you saved money but you still wasted the money you did spend (and yes you could have wasted more but in all likelihood, the price helped you not buy it originally).

Unless the risk-taking will get you closer to your goal – so what?

Consider a SWOT analysis

Not heard of it? Think of it as an upmarket version of a pros & cons list. Except… you consider the:
– strengths
– weaknesses
– opportunities
– threats
of the risk-taking action to your business.

When I do this, I include financial and legal implications in the relevant sections. It’s important to include these as they form part of a calculated risk.

Go/No go

Finally, it’s a decision if you’re going to go through with it. No regrets! You’ve taken a calculated risk based on the best information you had on hand at the time.

I hope this has helped. The one place businesses get stuck is determining their drivers. If you need help with that, please email me. In the meantime, I’d love to hear about where a calculated risk has paid off for you and your business. (For me it was leaving my public sector career to set up this business)

  • August 13, 2020
ways small business owners need to feel support

Support for small business owners

One of the most common unintended benefits my small business clients get from coaching is feeling supported.  (But not in ways you’d think)

Types of support for small business owners

We’re so used to getting the financial and legal support and these are quite rightly needed and should be provided by an expert.

The thing is that there is more to running a business than making sure it’s above board and paying the bills. In fact, there’s a lot that we pour into running a small business that actually increases our need for support.

As individuals, we know that we most commonly need:
– physical
– emotional/mental, and
– spiritual support.

As small business owners, too often we get caught up with the first, draw on our personal lives for the last and forget the middle one. The thing is, it’s the mental and emotional self which can keep us going.

When my clients come to me, they believe they want the physical support (social media marketing knowledge or business coaching). What they don’t realise is that they also need the emotional and mental support (good thing I have a psychology degree on top of the business qualification).

Emotional & psychological support for small business owners

There are recurring themes with my clients, and I honestly don’t believe they are alone in their needs for emotional support with their small business.

feel support small business owner George Shinn quote

You want a safety net

Being a small business owner can be a lonely job, especially when no one else in your family or friendship group are small business owners.

Sometimes you want to know how to (and help with) solving the problems of your world and other times you want someone just to sit there and listen. No commentary, no solutions, just someone to vent at.

Sometimes you want to know that when you are at your lowest of lows, there’s someone there with the know-how of how to dig you out of that hole, dust you off, and set you on the path again. (Oh and to suggest ways on preventing it from happening again)

You want a mirror

As a small business owner, it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. A business coach or mentor can sit there and show you the ways that you can’t see.

When you’ve been knocked down or are beating yourself up, you want someone who will speak kind truth to you, just like you would to someone you cared for.

When you’re being stubborn and not considering all the possibilities and are looking to go in the wrong direction, you need someone who is prepared to stand up and make you reason your way through.

When you ignore advice and fall, you want someone who won’t rub it in your face but will instead walk with you out of it all.

You want a sounding board

As a small business owner part of having support is knowing that the person giving it has either been there, has expertise in the area, or has a good pool of resources to draw on and isn’t afraid to use it. Why? Because part of feeling alone and unsupported is not having a sounding board or the resources when you need them.

Some days, running a small business is like reaching into the junk drawer in the kitchen in the hope that the perfect tool will jump into your hand. You hope you’d bought it all those months ago but you’re just not sure if you really did or if it really exists.

Ok, so as a business coach I may have just referred to myself as a junk drawer and some days it’s like that. More often it’s pre-empting which tool is needed and having it ready. Sometimes it’s fostering links and connections in the knowledge that one day that thing will come in handy. (Geez, it really does sound like a junk drawer)

feel support small business owner quote steve jobsBut in reality, as a small business owner, you don’t know what support you’ll need until you need it. So that means that you need someone who is able to understand your needs and has access to the tools. Not race in and fix it for you but listens and gives you the tools to respond accordingly, it is your business after all.

I started my first business when I was working fulltime, doing my Masters, and had two toddlers. I was the first in my family to start their own business. It was early in 2011, I had recently signed up to Facebook, and I started showing my products on there as many of my friends needed what I had to sell. I did a lot of free courses and coaching sessions and eventually found myself a coach. The rest they say is history.

The thing is, I neglected my emotional and mental support. None of my friends, at the start, had businesses. It’s no surprise that my clients became my friends, I needed them but they weren’t always the best at giving advice because they could only draw on their experience and their junk drawer was all but empty.

Having a business coach or peer mastermind is helpful but you need to make sure that they take care of all of the aspects of support you need, not just the technical. I’m grateful that I have a few business friends now who have a background in mental health to offer me the support I need. But I’m curious if you’re getting the right mix of support to help you and your business? If not, I’m here. You can send me an email, book a quick (and free) coffee catch up, or you can organize more formal business coaching.

I’ve been here for a while, I’ve seen & heard a lot, I have a full drawer, and I want to support you as a small business owner.

  • August 4, 2020
Ways integrity is important to small business owners

Ways integrity is important to small business owners

When I bring on a new client I always ask them to detail their drivers. My favourite ones to look at aren’t their goals, it’s their values. I like values because it’s what makes us tick, deep down; it’s what keeps us on track; it’s what is often out of whack when things are going pear-shaped.

One of the common values my clients have on their list is Integrity.

Now I could rabbit on about why it’s important and how not having integrity can hurt your business. But you should know by now that I put people at the centre of your business & I want to show you how the different people around you and your business see YOUR integrity.

I want to build a list of words to help you engender integrity in your business because I believe that there are multiple ways of being and seeing and that means we benefit from multiple ways of understanding.

What is integrity?

Let’s start with a definition from the Meriam-Webster Dictionary:

Definition of integrity

1firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic valuesINCORRUPTIBILITY
2an unimpaired conditionSOUNDNESS
3the quality or state of being complete or undividedCOMPLETENESS

I like the sound of that way of being. Incorruptible, sound, complete.

What is integrity from a customer perspective?

When I think, as a customer, of what integrity is; I come to one thing. Doing what you say you’re going to do. No excuses, no reasons because I’m honestly not interested. You said you’d do something, so do it & if you can’t, just tell me.

As a client, it comes down to honesty & trust. As a business owner delivering these things, it comes down to courage. It also takes courage to admit that you can’t do what you originally said you could.

Let’s revise that list. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous.

What is integrity from your staff’s perspective?

integrity and values in small business quoteI’ve had many bosses and I’ve been a boss, as a boss I learnt the power of understanding my staff’s values and aligning them with those of the business. It was a more powerful motivator than any financial gain.

So drawing on that, and the conversations with clients who do have staff (because I swore I’d not have staff in my business), how do staff see your integrity over and above what has already been discussed?

The word I keep coming back to is Respect. And I don’t mean your staff showing it to you, quite the opposite. This is about you respecting them as part of having integrity. Why? Too often I hear boss’ saying that their staff are great with clients but crap with them. When I listen a little more it’s clear that the boss doesn’t treat the staff with respect and they have conflicting expectations between service to the business, owner, and clients. This impacts their perception of completeness and incorruptibility.

Let’s add to the list. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous, respectful.

What is integrity from a business owner perspective?

 

Because this is all about the business’ value of integrity and that is separate from your values as the business owner, we need to look at how you as the business owner sees the integrity of the business.

Here’s the irony, you need to be objective and you need to have integrity to do this honestly. The funny thing is that to do this, you need to be vulnerable. You need to be ok with honestly ripping yourself apart and looking at it piece by piece and putting it back together because so much of you is in your business.

You also need to be patient, patient with yourself as you pull this all apart but also understanding that this takes time.

Hmmm, there are a few extra words to add to the list. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous, respectful, objective, vulnerability, patient.

general sir peter cosgrove business integrity quote

Where small business can show integrity in their business.

Everywhere. (It had to be said)

I think we think we can only see it face to face but with so much happening online these days we need to show integrity online, websites, socials, email. We show it by showing our face (yup). We show it by sharing our voice. We show it by sticking to what we say we do and not confusing our audience. We show it by using a brand identity kit and sticking to our brand voice. If we want to show integrity, we must also be consistent and that means no matter who and no matter where.

And there’s the final word. Incorruptible, sound, complete, honest, trustworthy, courageous, respectful, objective, vulnerability, patient, consistent.

I’ve made up our integrity word cloud printable if you’d like a visual reminder.

I’m curious.

How do you feel looking at the list of words? Do they sound like traits you have? And how would you feel running your business knowing that this is not just how you were perceived but how you behaved? What would that do for your business?

Don’t forget that I can help you unpack not just your business values but the other drivers which make it a success. And I do that so you can use them across your marketing and to develop stronger and more profitable relationships for your business. Email me if you’re interested.

 

  • July 30, 2020
deliver exceptional customer service free checklist

20 ways to deliver exceptional customer service – free checklist

Some of you might know why it’s important to deliver exceptional customer service, some might pay it lip service. First up I want to explain to you why it’s financially important to your success.

Why it’s important to deliver exceptional customer service

The biggest reason I can ever think of is that it’s easier to retain a client than to acquire a new one. The benefit of keeping a client is that it grows their lifetime value and your profit margin on that client. Then that client will go on and refer others, with no marketing cost to you. Can you see the $ you’re making just by keeping one client?

Then there’s the fact that some customers will pay more for better customer service, don’t you want a customer who will pay more? This becomes your competitive advantage and what represents your brand.

So now you know a little more about why you and your business should care about delivering exceptional customer service, how do you make it happen? Well, I’ve outlined 20 ways to make it happen.

20 ways to deliver exceptional customer service

1. Know your product or service

While most of us can excuse a new staff member not knowing the ins and outs of everything, we are also pleasantly surprised when they do.

Education is empowering and teaching your staff and yourself about how the features and benefits meet the needs and other drivers a customer has makes their lives easier. If you can understand why product A is a better option for client A but can listen and discern the subtle differences each client brings, you’re in front from the start.

2. Personalise your service

Even fast-food chains allow you to personalize your burger. But there’s more to a personalized service than this.

Almost half of your customers want more from you. That means they want to feel like more than just a number. Let’s face it, no one likes to feel used or unimportant. You know that people want to do business with people and this is where personalizing your service comes in. For some businesses it’s the hand-written note, others it’s a birthday discount or gift, for some it’s a parcel out of the blue!

3. Give them ways to help themselves

In a 24/7 online world, questions come when shops are closed but clients still want answers. It’s one thing to enable online shopping it’s another to have online helping.

Giving customers ways to help themselves through online shopping, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), chatbots with their automated answer sequences, and online chat all provide different ways to meet the customer service needs of your audience.

4. Help without expecting a sale

This is my favourite way to provide exceptional customer service because I can do it to anyone, it costs my time, and I never know where it will lead (to the law of reciprocity would disagree).

While I have been doing this for many years in my business, it was the book, Youtility by Jay Baer, that really taught me the financial benefit to my business. It also helped me overcome the misgivings I had about people “stealing” ideas or never buying from me. Boy how I was wrong.

5. Remain positive

I first came across the science behind what I had done with my staff during my Masters study. I read an article which said that positive staff were happy staff and happy staff made for happy clients.

A few years later, while researching the psychology of social media, I learnt that happy clients buy more.

Time to put a smile on your dial and a spring in your step!

6. Do what you say

When you say you deliver exceptional service, it’s not you who determines what that is, it’s your customers – they set the bar. So when you say you do something, you need to at least do it and preferably do more.

TIP: The extra mile is never crowded – Wayne Dyer

7. Anticipate

Do you know what the logical next step is for your client? What is the normal progression? Remember it’s cheaper to retain a client than to make a new one.

Proactively help your client through their next steps and thereby to the next level in your sales funnel. It’s exceptional service and proactive sales. (It doesn’t have to be pushy either)

8. Tell them how you’ll meet their expectations

Your client comes to you with a set of expectations, save yourself some time and potential heartache by taking the time to understand them. Simple active listening techniques of saying what general expectations are of clients and asking them if theirs are any different and repeating their answer back to them can often be all that’s needed to clear a situation before it occurs.

It shows that you understand what your general client expectations are, that you are prepared to and can potentially personalize their service, that you listen, value their input in the situation and look for a way forward.

I have recently read Peak by Chip Conley and in it he goes into the Client Expectation Hierarchy. This hierarchy marries drivers, expectations, and what results when expectations are met. It’s a fabulous read if you’re serious in delivering exceptional customer service.

9. Model it in your actions and for your staff

You want and expect your staff to offer exceptional customer service, you not only need to do the same to the customers but your staff too. Not only will it make the staff happier, and happy staff = happy clients, but it role models the behaviour to staff and helps it to become ingrained.

employees exceptional customer service10. Know and leverage touchpoints

It can take 7-12 touches to create a sale. Do you know where all of yours are and do you use them to maintain the client relationship and customer service after?

Social media, email, newsletters, and after-sale service are as important as leverage up to and sealing the deal as they are afterwards in maintaining the client relationship and continuing a profitable relationship. Remember, it’s cheaper to maintain than acquire a client.

11. Respond ASAP

Customers understand that businesses can be busy and they hope that they’re not your only customer, but as a customer, our time is as valuable as yours or the next customer. Please show that you understand that and let us know when we can expect a response or admit to a delay. It allows customers to plan their time effectively and it shows that you care for our time.

12. Good listener

Listening is what the other person does and feeling heard is what we want and how we feel when we believe they’ve listened. Both rely on the perspective of the person doing the listening or wanting to be heard.

Customers like to feel heard because it validates us and what we’ve said, plus it validates the drivers behind what we said.

Looking for tips on how to become a better listener and improve your customer service, then I suggest reading this article with many tips on improving your listening skills.

13. Encourage feedback

Not just reviews and testimonials but warts and all stuff too. It’s not personal, it’s business. Getting feedback from clients allows you to assess and improve your product, service, or customer service. Acting on the feedback, and especially letting the person know that you have, validates their feedback and the drivers which brought them to giving the feedback in the first place.

14. Own your mistakes

Customers know you can’t get it right all the time and admitting that you make mistakes doesn’t show weakness it shows humanity. It also doesn’t mean that you were wrong, sometimes we miss things or have bad days and that’s ok – I’m fairly certain your clients aren’t always perfect either.

TIP: It’s one thing to have high expectations of yourself it’s another to judge yourself when you don’t achieve them through no fault of your own. You’re allowed to cut yourself some slack for bad days.

15. Apologise for your mistakes

So you’ve admitted a mistake, please apologise for it. While you may not have made the mistake intentionally (that’s why it’s called a mistake), apologising is acknowledging that there may be hurt on the part of the other person and you regret that. It starts to repair a relationship, which may not be badly damaged and strengthens relationships. Most people respect an apology.

16. Fix your mistakes

So you’ve messed up, apologised, now’s the time to set it right. I don’t mean sucking up and going OTT. Just do what was expected in the first place. If you did point 8 then you will know what they are and can restore the wrong.

17. Don’t complain & don’t explain

A former boss told me, “Don’t complain & don’t explain”. When it comes to fixing mistakes, your customer rarely wants to hear you complain about what went wrong or why it happened. We want to know that you’re sorry, that you’re taking steps not to have it happen again, and that you’ll fix it. We don’t particularly want or care to know why it happened, that’s information for you. To us, it happened and now we’d like it fixed.

customer service quote18. Go the extra mile

As I mentioned earlier, the extra mile is rarely crowded. And the little extras can make us feel important. Better still, refer to point 2 and personalize the way you go the extra mile. So few businesses take that extra step but it’s these unexpected things which show our custom is important to you.

19. Front and centre

Put the client at the centre of your business, without them your business ceases to exist.

20. Understand their drivers

Understand what drives your customers as it relates to you, your staff, your business, and your product or service. You can read more on why understanding customer drivers are important in this post, you can read more about the driver theory in this post, and you can learn how to embed customer drivers in your marketing over here.

Now you’ve read my 20 ways to deliver exceptional customer service, I’d like to hear which one you’re going to bring into your business and which one you appreciate most as a client. Leave a comment below.

  • July 23, 2020
Fear of rejection in online business

Fear of rejection in online business

One of the most common places my coaching clients fear rejection is online posts for their business. I get it, this is their baby and they don’t want it hurt. We put a lot of blood sweat and tears into our work and the last thing we want is to be trolled or ignored or just hated on.  But this is where it can get tricky.

You see, we need to see you promote your business and that means putting it (and yourself) out there.

Some of the things business owners say to me, but are really hiding this fear of rejection are:

  • I’ve tried it before and it doesn’t work (when they posted infrequently and came up blank)
  • I don’t want to seem pushy or slimey salesy
  • I don’t know what to say
  • No one will see it anyway

What they are often also saying, to themselves, is to:

  • Play safe
  • Stay small
  • No one can reject me if I don’t put myself out there.

TIP: By not promoting your business you’re saying ‘No’ for us when we are just as likely to be saying ‘Yes’

So how do you promote your business online when you’re afraid of rejection?

There are two ways to approach this. The first is addressing how to promote your business online and the second is how to address your fear of rejection.

Simple ways to promote your business online when you have a fear of rejection

fear of rejection in small businessThe things I recommend are very similar to businesses who are afraid of asking for the sale. They are:

  • Outsource your social media or all of your marketing
  • Automate your social media so you’re not online when the posts go live
  • Take a systemised approach to social media so it’s not so personal and you’re in control

These tips are there to keep your business gathering the leads and sales it so dearly needs and deserves and also to put mental, emotional, and physical distance between you and the physical act of putting ‘yourself’ out there. Some people might even consider these recommended options acts of self-care, there’s nothing wrong with admitting you’re not the best person for a particular job and asking for help or handing it on.

How do you overcome that fear of rejection in your business?

If you’re like me and prefer to tackle the root cause of the issue, perhaps because you’re not a fan of fixing symptoms, perhaps because you see it creep into more areas of your business and/or personal like than you’d like; then you might look to how you handle the fear.

I have to admit, it’s one thing knowing that you’re holding yourself back in some way and it can be a whole other thing to work on it. So, kudos to you for making the decision not to be directed by fear.

TIP: Overcoming a fear takes time, persistence, courage, vulnerability, being ok with being uncomfortable, and being honest with yourself.

When I tackle my fears and help others with theirs, the first thing we do is uncover the thinking behind it. It’s the ‘how’ you got to this place. Then it’s the ‘why’ behind it. Then it’s looking at ‘when’ it happens. Then it’s ‘what’ is really meant to be there (love the mind and how it tricks us to believe stories that aren’t really real). Then it’s ‘how’ to address the fear if it comes up again, and yes they have a habit of doing that.

ear of rejection online business“Hang on”, you say? What do you mean “if” it comes up again, you say? Yup, some people are totally done with their fear after 2 sessions with me. Some however, need some tools in their back pocket for those days when we’re just not feeling it, not on top of our game, or we’re back in the situations that got us to that place in the beginning.

Want to hear the good part? I’ve got these tools here for you, right now. I took the best tools and popped them in a little checklist so that when fear is getting a grip, you have something to get you through. It’s not there to replace the 1:1 of actually addressing the fear, but it is an effective set of tools to help you through a rough patch.

If you’ve used my toolkit, I’d love to hear your feedback. If you have tried my tips to promoting your business when you have a fear of rejection, I’d love to hear your feedback on that too. Please email me or leave me a comment below. Thanks x

  • July 16, 2020
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