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Monday, February 28, 2011

There's No Business Like Slow Business

After the holiday season, sales can be daunting, to say the least.  If you find yourself in a slump, use it to clean up your business, including your presentation. Take the time to find new clients, call customers you've been putting off, sending out a "personal" hand held earthly mailed flyer, reminding people you are here for them and what your current specials are.  Believe it or not, sometimes, you only need to offer yourself and a new angle to get new business.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Avon Calling? Anyone calling?

Do you dread cold calls?  Dread most any business calls?  Why?  It seems the reason behind cold calling is not the call, nor the person at the other end, it's you.  Not in a bad way, mind you, but in that you do not trust you know what you need to talk about. Don't worry what they think of you or that they do not want the opportunity you're offering, worry only that you know your product, service, or self inside and out.

If I was selling a car and someone called me, I'd be sweating. I don't know anything about cars! If they ask me more than how old it is, what condition the body is in, or how many miles it has, I'm not going to know and I'm going to stress about it. Heck, I'll probably start talking a lot just to cover up my obvious nerves and lack of knowledge.

Smart Calling: Eliminate the Fear, Failure, and Rejection From Cold Calling
If I was calling someone to babysit... no problem. I know what I need, when I need it, how long I need it, what I'll pay, etc. I know everything there is to know about what I need in a babysitter and what I offer in return.

Before you call, take a deep breath and think about why you are calling. What is the purpose?  Regardless of whether the person is expecting your call, requested your call, or you're about to ask for a few minutes of their time, know why you are calling.  Then, using only a sentence, sum up the reason for the call.  Make that sentence count, get their attention and make it short and sweet.

If it helps, take an index card and write any points you want to make in the most basic terms so you can see it as you talk. You may end up reading it off the card and sounding a little as if you are, but the main thing is that you don't waste your time or theirs and that you do get to the point right away. 

Pause a moment so they can talk and hear what they have to say. If you don't know an answer, be honest and let them know you aren't sure, but it's a great question and you'll get back to them with the answer in the next two hours or the next day, and go from there.

If there are too many questions you cannot answer, brush up on your business and all the nuances and make the calls at another time.  You must know your business or you can't help someone else make any type of decision and of course your calling others will be more than uncomfortable.

Other than all that, what's the worst that can happen? 

Sunday, February 20, 2011


Working from home works for me and for our family. I LOVE it.  Even though everyone here drives me nuts, and they don't take my "job" as seriously as ANY OTHER PERSON who works in our home, I'd do it again if I had to do it over.

The main struggle is self-motivation when it comes to effort.  I'm motivated, however without a "for sure at the end of the week" paycheck, I tend to feel as my family does:  it takes the back seat to pretty much everything.

It's true.  Evaluate your decisions, your time, and how you run your business.  Be honest.  Do you take hours (or days) to do something that could be done in mere moments?  Do you often set something down, knowing you'll get to it soon or later? 

Even my begging for recognition from my family can be seen as procrastinating when I'm honest (of course, it's possible--I've owned my own business since February 15, 1997--the lack of acknowledgment I never got/get that someone who leaves the house gets/got, could have come first, but I digress...).

Here's the chuckle, I realized this while working out, after having added a new extension to True Crime Fanatic (because I have so much time, I need MORE to do). I've always loved exercise and sports, therefore it really hit hard when I got COPD and couldn't do much physical because even making a bed wears me out.  It's HARD for me (but very important to us all to exercise).  That means, to workout 2 hours a day is tough.  Sometimes I want to throw in the towel because no one expects me to try hard, so why bother?  Then it hit me... as I'm running on the machine, I'm telling myself, why are you in such a hurry? What else do you have to do?

It never occurred to me that it wasn't even the pain from moving that made me antsy, call off a workout, or leave early; it's my impatience. I'm in such a hurry, to take the TIME is what was negative. I never feel like I have enough time.

Asking myself what else I had to do saved me.  Because here's my life in a nutshell:  my husband, our kids, writing, business.

And that's it!  That's all there is. Why am I in such a hurry? And that led me to wondering where all the time is going. Why am I always behind?  It's like I'm running to stand still (thanks Bono) and I've been doing it all these years. Just running and doing and never satisfied.

That moment gave me permission to finish what I started and at one "sitting" AND it allowed me to ask the same question when I need to make a cold call or I get online to research.  Call, because there is nothing else you need to be doing at this moment.  Grab the daily research list and do it because there's nothing else you need to be doing.

You see the beauty of it all, right?  Once I realized I CAN finish and nothing's going to fall apart or go missing by my doing so, I not only did "it," but I became more organized because I could finish and put it away (physically or mentally). By default, I also came up with a great new and natural attitude, which in turn, made me more productive, which is the second biggest need in running a successful business.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Life and Business

Working at home presents unique situations, such as the one where you have to put off your work in order to handle little everyday changes in plans.  

Making cold calls today?  Great, that means Johnny got sick at school and the school nurse will interrupt your call.  Right?  I'll bet you need to mail out several important and time sensitive papers.  You guessed it, the washing machine broke and it was in the draining cycle; it drained all over your floor.  You won't be mailing anything before the post office closes.

The thing is, just plan for the unplanned. Daily. It WILL happen. Daily.

When I drew up my general daily plan (I keep ONE list for everything-kids, work, house, etc.), I put five hours of work and chores on the list and I NEVER put a time on it, though I do mentally push through time slots the evening before, that way I have a road map of sorts to accomplish it all.

Five hours isn't much, considering the majority of people work more than eight hours a day (that and the fact you OWN your business), but if you concentrate, do it all RIGHT the first time, and focus, then it will be worth more than all the hours of the day.

You work from home for a reason, schedule in that something will happen and tighten up your commitment to your business.  If you say you'll work five hours, work it. Who knows, maybe by planning for an accident, it will all go smoothly and you'll end up with free time.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Bust Out of Your unCOMFORTable Zone

Let’s get to the heart of the matter. You are uncomfortable and tend to stay where you feel safe and secure. The first step to break out of the mold and step into your comfort zone, is to know what’s going on with you. Why are you uncomfortable? Many of us start businesses without the full knowledge of all that’s involved, regardless of the planning. We don’t know, until we get uncomfortable, that we’ll have any problems.

After talking to successful professionals and extensive research, the biggest problem appears to be making phone calls or asking for an audience (interviews, consultations, etc.). Therefore, we must figure out why. If we believe in ourselves and our products, why is calling on someone to check us out or asking for a sale so uncomfortable?

Business is about selling. Period. If you are a writer, you are selling. If you are a home party consultant, you are a seller. If you are a victims’ advocate, you are a seller.

What you sell is important. If you can’t tell someone how you can help them or how your product can solve their problem, you’ll be of no use and you’ll lose the sale.

But aren’t we jumping the gun? Isn’t YOUR problem that you aren’t even ASKING (calling, meeting)? That’s my problem. I don’t want to mistake me staying within my comfort zone for you, but if it’s not you, why are you here? The least you can do is leave a comment and give us some wonderful suggestions that make us want to jump up and change our evil -sell-less- ways! Come on, do it. Or read on.

First off, what are you selling? If you don’t know, you can’t offer it, can you?
Since I can only vouch for me, let’s go with my businesses as examples. In as few words as possible (get a paper and do this at home with your own work, will ya?), I’m writing what I’m selling. Complete sentences are no-no’s; unnecessary.

Writer — Information, entertainment

Victim’s Advocate — Hope, help, publicity

Do I believe this? All of it? Yes. That is a relief. Now, I already know if I call on someone and they are not as excited as I am, or not at all, it’s NOT me or my products.

But it can be how I present them.

Writing: Know what you are writing about, write the best you can, and presenting it according to present industry standards and revising as necessary. I can tell you my problem. I’m afraid to fail, so I do not sell. That’s my big problem. I have to figure out how to get around this, but you (and I) get the gist.

Solution: Because you cannot write first and then sell, for most writing, I’ll query at least one market once a day and follow up. As for writing, I’ll continue the five minute process and work five minutes or more every single day on writing.

Solution: We recently purchased a new computer with the operating system that will work with our previous website program and will recreate a website WHILE learning more coding, especially understanding CSS-which we’ll learn by reading books and watching training videos. A great alternative is to hire someone, but we produce zero income; my writing income supports True Crime Fanatic.

Victim’s advocate: Be available. They have to know how to find me without even knowing I exist. This is where writing comes in and publicizing. I am great at marketing, because I love it, however, the past few years, I am frustrated about not being able to market in the way that WORKS and in the way I always have since 1997, via True Crime Fanatic. It’s that we changed our operating system and our website program; all the XML/HTML/CSS knowledge I possess is just not enough. Without this website, there is not a lot I can do for anyone, it’s imperative I get it back up and running properly and updated in a timely manner.

Decide what you do and what you are selling. Then, make yourself an easy doable list. Figure out what’s holding you back and work on it. Take a leap of faith in yourself, step out, and just do it.

From today forward, come back to this list when you’re a bit behind and feel the old pain of being uncomfortable sneaking up on you. IYou can make a change and break out of your comfort zone, easily. Remember why you’re in business in the first place, why you chose the businesses you did: because you believe in yourself and your products.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

How's Business?

Business in February and March is supposedly slow.  How's your business?

If you rely on customers and they aren't there or you are stuck in snow, make the most of your time. Reevaluate what works and what doesn't, make new plans and goals, reorganize anything that's not working and straighten up everything that is working.

If your business has you making phone calls, the slow time is the best time.  It keeps your energy high and focused, making it easier for when business does come calling to jump into high gear.

Slow business is just a way to remind you to do the little things that keep the bigger things going, things you don't find time for when your business is full throttle.