Tag Archives: small business

You’re in the Business of Happy


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




Celebrating My 100th Post: Who Would Have Ever Thought…

I am excited to announce that today marks my 100th blog post on this website. As I look back overCluster of colourful fireworks the past year and a half since I started this blog (and my own business), many exciting things have happened. It truly is amazing to see how my small business has evolved as a concept and through relationships with new and existing customers. And I have so much more to look forward to in the future – all because I simply started a blog.

Because today is such a momentous occasion, I think it’s necessary to look back on what has been accomplished since my first post. Without trying to sound like I’m to0ting my own horn, here are the top five things that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by and am proud of having experienced since my very first blog post.

1. Meeting and connecting with amazing people in the Canadian digital media industry who share the same passion and drive for entrepreneurship and a better digital world. Again, I don’t want to brag but Canada has a remarkably close-knit community of startups, freelancers and consultants who all want to see our nation become a global leader in the digital economy.

2. Either discovering or being discovered by new customers who also share the same interests as I do and using my blog and their blogging platforms to share that enthusiasm and knowledge.

3. Being inspired to go back to school to get a Certificate in Freelance Writing at U of T to continue my new-found passion for writing and discussing digital media trends and key issues that shape my world.

4. Working with creative and intelligent Canadian startups, small businesses and small business supporters in the digital space who seek to tear down walls/barriers and replace them with their own unique solutions.

5. Continuously being pleasantly surprised that where I initially thought I’d be at this point in the game is much different from where I thought I’d end up. However, I am ecstatic and optimistic that where I am is exactly where I should be.

Thanks to everyone who reads my blog and for your encouragement via e-mail, Twitter/LinkedIn and in-person comments. I appreciate your support and will continue to share my thoughts, tips and ideas with you on this platform.


Image source: iStockPhoto.com

Four Elements of a Good Brand Story

In his presentation at the Small Business Summit in Toronto this week, Tony Chapman, CEO of Toronto creative agency Capital C outlined the four elements ofTypewriter spelling the words "Once upon a time" telling a really great brand story.

These elements include:

1. Framing your story. It’s important to help your audience identify your brand/business as “the ones who…” Your story should make it easy for customers to understand who you are and what you do.

2. Problems solved. Your story should help the audience to understand what consumer or business problems your product helps to solve.

3. Characters. Your should have clear characters which help to tell the story. This can be a spokesperson from your company (think Galen Weston in the Loblaws commercials), or fictional – like the Mac versus PC characters in the Apple commercials.

4. Plot. This is essential to making your story relatable. Chapman showed a video clip from Mad Men, where Don Draper introduced his agency’s brand concept for a new Kodak product. See the video via this link (the network has disabled embedding on YouTube). Notice that Draper makes a grown man cry – that’s when you know you’ve humanized your story!