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Is Your Business Ready for a Do-Over?

Joanne Victoria
Jul 29, 2008
Let's say the business of your dreams allows you a comfortable income, enough money for contributions, more than enough for retirement purposes and a little bit of fun along the way.

However, your clients get in the way.

They may contact you too much, not follow up on their commitments, cost you too much, drain your energy or may just be the wrong clients for you at this stage of your business.

Maybe it's time for a Business Do-Over.

What does a Do-Over require?

First, review your client list.
Second, check out how you are acting in your business.
Third, evaluate, eliminate, elevate and expand your business.

For either long or short term clients, depending on how your business operates; you always want the best business fit.

What does a good fit mean to you?

A good fit is your Ideal Client.
An example of a good fit is someone:
  • Ready to pay your fees.
  • Prepared to respect your ideas and input.
  • Willing to do whatever it takes to be successful.
  • Able to commit to the process of success.
  • Willing to be satisfied with the process and its outcomes.
  • Ready to ask you the right questions that push them to where they want to be.
When you are signing up prospects, what they are called prior to becoming clients, the prospect may seem excited, ready to go forward and say Yes! To everything.

Then things change.

Clients may turn on you and themselves; the client may be late with fieldwork, consistently cancel appointments, stretch out the contract, (especially if is time dated) and do many other things that make you question your abilities, commitment and theirs as well.

What do you do?

Step One: You Evaluate the process.
  • Did the problems occur because the client does not fit your criteria?
  • Did you bend your own rules?
  • Did you become too attached to your clients' outcomes?
No matter the cause, you must reevaluate.

Operating your own business does not mean you were meant to suffer. It is time to take stock of your existing client base, your criteria for new clients as well as where your life, and business are heading.

Reassess the client:

1. Is the client following through, creating success and satisfied with the outcomes? If the answer is No, time for a conversation.

2. Is the client lazy, unwilling to stretch themselves or unable to take directions?

If the answer is Yes, again, time for a conversation.

If the results of the conversation are that the client will not change, or transform, time to let them go.

This is also the time for you to evaluate your process.

Reassess yourself:
  • Are you using sales techniques from years past?
  • Are you satisfied with your initial presentation?
  • Do you want to quit and start all over again?
Maybe it's time to go back to the beginning.
  • Why did you want to start your own business in the first place?
  • Has your niche been empty for a while?
  • Do you like what you do?
When looking at everything you do as if you are a beginner, you will get the opportunity to see with more clarity.

Step Two: Eliminate anything standing in the way of your success:

What is the one true thing bothering you about your business?
  • Do you work longer hours than necessary?
  • Are your fees too low? Too high?
  • Do you have the time in your schedule to complete the required business tasks?
First, STOP! Wasting Time.

Small business owners, entrepreneurs and independent professionals who are not successful can waste loads of time on inconsequential tasks.
  • Give up answering your telephone. Hire a service or only answer your phone at specific times. Leave a voice mail message that says: "I will return all telephone calls between the hours of 11 a.m. and noon, and 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. during weekdays."
  • Clean out your office.
  • Do only tasks of high value, and then go for a walk.
  • Review your clients and friends and eliminate those who do not support you.
  • Answer your email in the afternoon only. Use the morning time for high-level tasks. If any message requires an immediate response, wait until the next day to attend to it. Always let issues settle for at least twenty-four hours.
If possible, hire an assistant to do these tasks for you. It is time to create a clean plate, to go back to the beginning.

Then, fire your lowest paying clients. Yes, I said fire. Trust yourself that you will be able to attract higher paying clients, train them better and make you more money.

If you work strictly on commission, as in sales or real estate, stop working with losers. If a prospect has not purchased or listed in over a year, reframe your contact time to once every three or four months. Send a letter, postcard, email them or pick up the phone.

Just don't spend unnecessary amounts of time pushing them. It doesn't work, you will get frustrated and letting them go will give you more time and energy to find newer, better prospects.

Step Three: Elevate Your Standards

It is time for you to raise the bar, as far as you, your business, your clientele and your values are concerned.

First, you. If you are not living up to your own expectations, take a survey of clients and friends and get feedback.

Ask them questions like:
" What five words define me?"
" What do you know about what I do?"
" What do you think I do?"

You may be amazed a how your clients and friends perceive you. Be willing to listen to them and adjust your own evaluation of yourself.

Are you providing Nordstrom's service?

One thing Nordstrom's subscribes to is: "Act as if it is your name on the door."

If you own your business or are an independent professional, this goes without saying. But does it show?

The other motto from Nordstrom's is: "Respond to unreasonable requests."

These statements go hand in hand with your business. Also, do you have an assistant? Without an assistant, your success may be limited. We were not meant to work alone. Reassess the technical aspects of your businesses. You may need just to hire someone to submit your articles, redo your website or handle your mailings.

Do you have a business vision or are you just going from day to day, client to client?

With a true business vision, all your decisions are easily made, because all your decisions are in alignment with your vision.

Create a vision for your business, align it with your goals and mission and start anew.

Also start anew with your choice of clients. Make sure that the criteria you have established is criteria you stick to. The more allowances you make for new clients, the more you will pay in the end.

The right fit, your ideal client, is the only way to go.

Step Four: Expand Your Business

To expand your business can mean many things. It could indicate more clients, higher fees, or fewer clients. My strong suggestion would be to fire the troublemakers. If not fire, do not re-up the contract. Be clear in your determination to expand your business by expanding your marketing.

If you already speak, write articles and have written a book, it may be time to conduct seminars or teleclasses on a consistent basis. It may also be time to expand your geographic area, possibly going virtual.

This would mean you would need a good website, blog and a hookup to Skype in order to speak to people throughout the world.

Check your market for comparable fees. Customers like to pay a more than the other guy for many reasons. It could be for bragging rights or just thinking that if you charge more, you are worth more.

Maybe that is something for you to ponder. Are you charging enough for your services? Consider: you are not selling time, you are selling know-how.

Like the plumber who comes over, fixes the leak, and five minutes later charges for a full hour

The plumber knew what to do.

So do you.

Do not accept clients or customers who only buy on price. You will not want them. What is the value of the solution you are providing? Price is derived from understanding the value to be provided to the client, not hourly or cost pricing. If price came from cost, fee per hour for service, then Starbucks coffee would cost about fifteen to thirty cents a cup. What is the value to the customer or client? It is risk versus reward. What is the cost not to solve, versus the benefit to solve the problem?

Bottom line, stop charging hourly fees.

There are many things you can do to expand your business. Determine that the business of your dreams provides you with the income, enough money you desire, the clients that work the best for you and time to enjoy your successful life.

© 2008 Joanne Victoria, All rights reserved.
About the Author
Joanne Victoria offers both one-on-one coaching and MasterMind Group Coaching for continuing success. Joanne can be reached at joanne@joannevictoria.com or (415) 491-1344.

http://www.joannevictoria.com/
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