Category Archives: Entrepreneurs

You’re in the Business of Happy

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It doesn’t matter what business you’re in; your number one goal should be to make customers happy. Happiness brings customers back again and again. It makes business relationships easier and makes your work more meaningful. It gets people to talk about your product or service with others.

In turn, it means higher profits for you and satisfied customers who are grateful to you for making their jobs easier, more efficient, and profitable.

It sounds so simple and straight forward. But how do you know if you are doing a good job at making your customers happy?

For large corporations, you can measure happiness through customer satisfaction surveys, CSAT (customer satisfaction) scores and Net Promoter Scores (NPS). You can also monitor customer sentiment on social media, via your customer service team, or online user forums.

But for small businesses, especially if you are selling a service, these best practices can be costly and require resources that you just don’t have right now.

Instead, the fastest way to measure if you’re customers happy, other than repeat business, is through word of mouth.

As a freelancer, my business is 100% reliant on my clients being happy with my work for them. The best leads I get, no matter what other marketing initiatives I am working on, come from my happiest customers — simply passing my name along to a colleague.

Positive word of mouth is paramount. If you have to prioritize one marketing initiative above all else while you boot up your business, start there.

It costs a lot less than investing in social media and a beautiful website. Yes, you need a web presence but it doesn’t have to be perfect to start making money. And you can grow a lot faster as a small services business if you just make your existing customers happy.

So, if you are getting calls from your customers’ contacts, you know you’re doing something right. If not, it’s time to start asking yourself and your customers (an old school phone call or face to face meeting will do the trick) what’s up?

If they are happy but not passing your name along, you can be so bold as to ask them to do so. Just be sure to reward them in some way for their efforts. A Starbucks gift card, thank you note, or lunch will all do the trick. It doesn’t have to be fancy or cost a lot.

If they’re not happy, it’s time to rethink how you run your business. Can you scale down services to focus on what you do best? Can you do more to make your customers feel valued? Again, simple and scrappy solutions to determine how to fix them problem are fine in the beginning.

Nothing is perfect when you first launch a business. But you’ll be a lot happier, and less stressed, if you focus on what’s most important. After all, “happiness is a by-product of an effort to make someone else happy.” — Gretta Palmer

 

 

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My Post-Mat Leave Plan

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Going on mat leave for the second time this past winter was bitter sweet for me. On the one hand, I was very excited to meet my new daughter and looked forward to spending time getting to know this brand new person. On the other, I was anxious to leave a business and job/clients with whom I loved to work.

Would my clients be angry that I was going on leave? Would they be willing to take me back after almost a year off? How would I cope with two kids this time around? All of these questions were swirling around in my head.

Well, it’s been almost 8 months since my daughter was born and I am so thankful that self-employed women in Canada are able to contribute to EI (employment insurance) and take mat leave just like women who work for someone else. I have truly enjoyed this time with her and with my son who is so proud to be a big brother.

So, now I’m facing another bitter sweet moment. I am planning to start working again in a few months and have a million more questions about how things will change for her and for me.

To prepare my family and my brain (which I feel like I haven’t used in a while) for what’s to come, I’ve devised a strategy to make the transition smooth for everyone.

Here it is for other self-employed moms to see:

  1. Make a plan with my child care provider for how I’d like the transition to go with my kids as I build my business back up.
  2. Reach out to clients a few months in advance of my return to work — so they have time to figure out if, how and when they’d like to begin working with me again. I’m happy to say that one of them has already confirmed that we’ll be working together again. I want to give them enough time to get budgets approved so I can hit the ground running as soon as my mat leave is over.
  3. Develop a new marketing strategy to get my name “out there” again.
  4. Work with my accountant to plan for the year ahead and develop a budget for future expenses.
  5. Build out a schedule for how I’d like my workdays to flow — knowing that things need to remain flexible because, let’s face it, life is unpredictable when you have kids.

Since this is the second time I’ve built my business back up after a mat leave, I feel more confidant this time around that I can make it work. The biggest challenge is always managing my time wisely and ensuring I build in enough of it to spend with my family and integrate my home life with my work life.

Do you have any tips for transitioning from mat leave back to work — especially as a small business owner? If so, I’d love to hear it. Please share your sage advice below.

What 5 Years of Content Marketing Has Taught Me

I can’t believe that 5 years ago, I started this little blog in the hopes of cms-265127_640promoting myself (back then) as a digital ad sales consultant.

Fast-forward to the present and I am now a full-time B2B content marketer who has worked with brands like the Canadian Digital Media Network, TELUS, Influitive and Shopify.

And I’m proud to say that they are all Canadian brands that I am thrilled to support.

Never in a million years did I think this is what I’d be doing when I started by own business.

But I am so glad that I am exactly where I am today.

So, to celebrate my love of writing and working with customers to tell their brand story, I thought I’d share a few of the hard lessons on blogging and content marketing that I have learned over the years.

  1. Never stop writing and never stop learning

    Even if I am not constantly writing on my own blog, I write at least 3 posts a week (in addition to working on ebooks, case studies, etc.).

    So, I keep trying to perfect my craft. Likewise, I read at least 10 blog posts a day from other writers who I admire.

    There is always room to improve, so I want to see what the pros are doing try to incorporate it into my own writing style.

  2. Only write for brands that you believe in

    Although I also do a lot of ghost writing for companies, I choose to only write for industries and brands that I am passionate about.

    That’s because I only want to put my name on something that I am proud of and I believe that passion is a huge motivator.

    Why bother writing about something you aren’t passionate about? If you aren’t passionate, it will certainly show through in your writing.

  3. Case studies: The customer is always the hero in the story

    This is something I’ve learned over the past few years in writing case studies for clients.

    It’s not the client/software solution that needs to be the protagonist in a story, it’s the customer who has been through some sort of struggle, which led them to that solution, that needs to shine as the hero.

    Basically, the customer is the rock star and the software solution is the roady or sound technician behind the scenes who makes them shine on stage.

  4. Have coffee with your target audience

    Ok, so it doesn’t have to be coffee, but you need to speak (in person) with the people who are likely to read the blog, ebook, whitepaper, etc. for which you are writing.

    You need to understand their pain points and what messages might resonate with them or get them to move from the awareness phase to the consideration phase of the purchase funnel. And that takes some time and experimentation with your content as well.

  5. Let the trolls keep on trolling

    I think I’ve said this before but you can’t please everyone with your writing. Ultimately, if you get more positive comments than negative ones, you are doing just fine.

    That being said, you can always learn something from what the haters are hating on – even if it’s just how to be the opposite of what they are as a human being.

    But sometimes there is a shred of truth to what is being said and you can always use that information to improve for the next piece that you write. Just don’t let the negativity get you down for too long.

    Thanks for continuing to follow my blog and I look forward to share more of what I have learned in the years to come.

    Have a question about blogging or content marketing? Please share in the comments below.

Image via Pixabay