Is Honesty Still the Best Policy in Business?

I love the internet and the infinite possibilities it offers people like us who do business online.  But I also know there is a dark side to the internet world where the bad boys reside with their friends – malware, spam and others.  An innocent click can lead you down the wrong path, taking up your time and money to put things right.

As much as the internet is an infinite world where customers may never meet supplier, I think we need to remember the basic moral value called Honesty.  A lot of people are actually internet adverse because they have been burnt a few times. Who’s to blame them?  There will always be those businesses that use scrupulous means to get a few sales. I hope you will never be one of them.

Do you need quick sales? Are you going to join the bad boys or hold on to your integrity?

A lot of businesses online are in it for a quick buck. Customer relationships means nothing to them, if they sell to you once, they believe another naïve person is just a click away.

If you are starting out in business, do not build a business on promises you cannot deliver.  If you can only offer two of your services/product deliveries a month, start with that until you are able to manage your schedule better.  Do not book ten deliveries and end up disappointing nine.  It will be harder to win them back a second time around.

I believe it is better to have one customer over time with good referrals, rather than 100 customers who never come back.  That is what gives business longevity.  I delivered a seminar recently and promised to send the presentation notes to those that were interested. After I sent the notes out, I could not believe the responses. Most of them were just surprised that I delivered what I said I would since there was no exchange of money.

Consider this, even if you do not get to see your clients face to face, still maintain honesty in your dealings with them.  Deliver on your promises and if you can’t, communicate with them and let them know. They will appreciate you for it.

Being a small business is a challenge in the fast paced world of big businesses, franchises etc.  We can’t offer the huge discounts the major chain stores can, but we can offer added value products/services supported with excellent customer service.

You job is to ensure all your products and services have the honesty tag attached to them.

I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo.

Free Two Hours Parking

I know this might sound strange but I always dread parking in those free two-hour parking bays.  Some of them will state free two hours parking limit, no return within three hours.  I question if I return later than two hours whether I will be booked for my tardiness? Does anyone actually set the timer for cars parked in two-hour limit free parking bays?  I really will love to know the answer but not at the expense of a parking fine.

The parking sign got me thinking (as I do) about business start-up and development.  A lot of us park in these bays with the notion of just staying for two hours and we end up staying there for much longer than we anticipated.  Ok, we probably will not get a physical parking ticket for hanging out in our ‘comfort zone’ bay longer than we want.  But life does pay back to those that do take action and those that don’t – in the long-term.  The question is what payment will you prefer?

  • You may be in a job or career with five years’ time limit
  • Your business idea may still be on the ‘two year limit’ back burner
  • You may have even started a business but there is no noticeable growth to show for your efforts.
  • The number of your customers are still the same after so many years.
  • Products or services are still the same range.
  • Someone else has done something similar to that business idea you have been nursing for a while.

My question is “have you exceeded your parking limit” in your current bay.  What happened to the goals you set at the beginning of the year about the things you wanted to do with your idea or your business?

Have you moved from the parking bay, drove around for a while and ‘returned after three hours?

Ok so the first business idea or new product didn’t work out after putting in so much effort, time and resources. I understand the disappointment but please do not return to the same old bay.  Why don’t you explore other parking (business) opportunities instead, for all you know you might get a better spot with little or no restrictions.

I know what it’s like to be charged up momentarily, ready to face the world but feel dejected when challenges crop up forcing you to go back to your old bay.  It is so easy to get caught up with life and what it brings, but to succeed we just have to fight to achieve our goals or we will never get to the right destination.   No successful business owner will tell you that running a business is an easy feat.  To excel and go beyond the thought stage of your idea, business, products or services, we must push beyond the barriers.  We need to set realistic goals and achieve them through consistent and persistent actions.

Find a Better Parking Space

If you have been working on a new product or service for your business, how can you accelerate the process?  Do you need to set realistic goals and deadlines, get help or a mentor, get more resources or gain more knowledge?  Do you need to set time aside, reduce your workload so you can work on your business rather than in your business?

Are you a start-up?  Consider what you need to do to actualise your business idea.  Make a list of the things you need to change and start taking action to make headway with your idea.  What are your roadblocks? Identify the actions that are keeping you in that parking bay and work toward eliminating them.

Be uncomfortable in your ‘comfort zone’ and choose to make conscious efforts to grow – it offers great dividends and rewards in the long run.

Till next time

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps – personalised and practical business start-up services

Photos courtesy of bigstockphoto and johnridley sxc.hu

Commitment to Good Service

As part of my decision to Automate, Delegate and Outsource, I decided to outsource my laundry load to a laundry service.  My first trial went very well, even though I did not know much about how they operate.  I wasn’t sure if I should count the number of items I send it, check it afterwards etc.  Anyway the service has been going very well untill the last weekend when I discovered some clothes were missing.  I wasn’t sure of what could have happened as I expect them to take an inventory before and after washing them.  Anyway I stopped by on Monday to find out if the remaining clothes had been discovered and luckily they were.

What I learnt today as well was that there were four ladies who provide the laundry service on a shift basis.  The lady who attended to me today is always in high demand and I also learnt that people specifically wait for her shift before they bring their laundry in.  Now that got me thinking….even as a laundry lady, you can distinguish your service from others through dedication and perfection of your skills.

Lady A – her customer service was impeccable, I was quite impressed with how attentive she was when I came in for the first time.  She educated me about her services and what they offer.

Lady B – she is just superb, she is not only friendly but also shows you what she has done when you come to pick up your laundry load.  She pays attention to detail and this is evident in the way she handles the clothes.  She folds the clothes with such care, making them wardrobe ready. I was so impressed with her skills.

Lady C – not very attentive and haphazard with her work.  Forgot to pack some of the clothes for pick-up.  Quite careless with her folding and packing.

Lady D – never met her.

So the question I will like to ask you is which one of the ladies are you?  I never thought there was anything extraordinary about a laundry service until last week.  It reminded me that you can distinguish yourself by the service you provide or the products you sell, if you commit to mastering your skills and going the extra mile.

You never know who is watching – so always keep your game on and treat each and every customer like your first.

Enjoy your day.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps

Pushing Beyond The ‘If Onlys’

I have had a lot of ‘if only’ moments in my life.   Sometimes those moments stretch into days, then weeks, months and even years.  If only I went to a certain school or a certain college, lived in a certain neighbourhood, had a certain friend or mentor or whoever I needed to influence me to take certain steps in the ‘right direction’.

Then came a time when I had enough of my ‘if only’ moments.  I decided that I had to rid myself of the excuses of not stepping out to do what I wanted to do for so long.  Ok I can’t change the past but I can stop wallowing in self-pity and determine my future.   Even if I had done all those things on my ‘if only’ list, I still have to work hard to make a success of my own life. Who says anything good will come easy, even if we got certain things right from the start.

So in 2009 I decided to bury my ‘if onlys’ and start Business First Steps – doing what I love.  Since I started my business, the ‘if onlys’ are fading into insignificance because God is causing all things to work together for my good, even those things that I thought were accidental.  Yes, I was scared of the unknown when I started but I did it afraid anyway.  A few years down the line and I am still surging forward – sometimes afraid.  In those few years, I have fought some really tough mind battles – the battle to stay or to quit, to fight or to give in to defeat.  Undeniably it takes a lot of courage and other traits to start a business.  It takes even more courage and the ability to win the battles of the mind to keep on doing that business.  If you can stand up to fight and win those battles, then you are surely on the right track to Success Avenue.

So if you want to take a step in the right direction today and start your own business, do what I did in 2009.  Take a moment to consider some of the successful people out there doing what they love every day of their lives. Find out how they started, did they all have an easy start…I don’t think so.   Then think of the small steps you can take to start creating your own pathway to a future with very few ‘if onlys’ in it.

If only you can step out of your comfort zone and act on your plan TODAY, you probably will be writing your own successful start-up story pretty soon.

I really wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo.

Business First Steps… Personalised and Practical Business Start up Services and Support

Business Reality Check

Musing about my business tasks today and the following realities of starting and running a business came to mind.  Just what I need to remind myself of my role as a business owner.

The Time Factor

Everyday we are bombarded with the miracle cure for whatever business ailment we may have. Whether it is procrastination, low self-esteem, lack of skills or imagination.  There is something out there prescribed to help you get results in an instant. Starting and growing a business takes a lot of time and effort.  Stop buying into those lies about the next best thing for your business that could make you an instant £100,000 profit with absolutely no effort on your part.  I spent a fair amount of money on some miracle start-up remedies some years back, they got me nowhere. Now I know better – one has to dig deep foundations for a business, so that when it grows it will not topple over.  Shallow foundations and quick solutions do not provide lasting results.

However, there are some great products out there that compliment your efforts – those are the ones worth buying.  They not only help your business but also make the job of running your business a lot easier to manage.

It’s Your Job

You can hire a consultant, an accountant or even cajole your mum to help.  If you want your business to succeed, then you need to do a lot of things yourself.  Even if you eventually employ people, you cannot ignore or shy away from your role as the business owner.    Yes you can copy systems off the internet or go to numerous seminars and get all fired up, you still have to put what you learn to work.  Take ownership of your business idea and push it till it becomes your reality.

The Dark Side

As the main decision maker in your business (if you are not a partnership) you should be ready for the dark and lonely days.  The days when the weight of the business decisions will be on your shoulders alone. When people will look to you for answers and to make decisions that will benefit the business. Create the right atmosphere you will need for those dark days; surround yourself with people who can uplift and motivate you to keep moving forward.

Eat the Humble Pie

There is no doubt in my mind that when you start your business you will be humbled.  Not everyone will think you have a good idea and not everyone will think you are smart. Be ready for criticism, irate customers, competitors who will steal your ideas, oh! be ready for all sorts.  The important point to remember is not to lose the values you hold dear when you face your business struggles.

Commitment

You can’t make a success of any venture if you do not commit to it.  You get out of your business what you put into it.  If you want it to grow then you have to commit to developing your idea on a daily basis. There is no short cut to business growth, be innovative and prepared for opportunities.  Set goals for yourself and commit to achieving them within a given time frame. The more you do this, the better you become and the more tasks you mark off your to-do-list. When you look back in a few years time, you will be amazed how far you have come.

Till next time, I wish you good success

Temi Koleowo.

Get the eBook: Bring your Business Idea to life and start the business of your dreams.

Photo courtesy of Bigstockphoto.

Business and Cobwebs

I don’t know about you but I have seen so many spiders this year than I have in the last few years gone by.  I am not sure if I have heightened spider sense (too many spiderman movies I guess) or I am just getting older.  Anyway since I am no longer afraid of them, I can deal with them quite easily.

Have You Got Cobwebs in Your Content?

I browse the internet a lot to read articles, blogs and other publications from a wide range of industries.  I do this to keep abreast of what is happening in other businesses for the benefit of my clients.  This way we can find gaps in the industry and set our businesses apart. Whilst browsing I came across so many dead links on great articles, blog posts and other publications that take you nowhere.  I must have come across at least 20 dead links in the last few days which is a real shame as I would have loved to find out more about the people/businesses behind the posts.

This is what got me thinking of cobwebs (I tried to make a joke out of this i.e. Websites and Cobwebs but drew a blank).  But the similarity between the two is uncanning.  This is the way I see it:

Spring Cleaning – If you do not dust your home regularly, there is a tendency that spiders will build a lot of cobwebs in every nook and cranny they can find which can be quite unsightly.

Website Cleaning – The same goes for our websites too.  If we don’t look after our websites and carry out regular housekeeping, visitors to your website or those who read your articles and other publications will end up clicking on dead links.  Most small businesses might not be able to afford the cost of paying someone to maintain their websites all year but these simple chores can be done in-house.  So rid your site of dead links as you know that no information = no customers = no sale.

The Cobwebs Cleaner

One of the solutions I will suggest is to link your articles, posts etc to your homepage. The likelihood of your homepage URL changing over time (except you close down your business) is unlikely.  If you are promoting a temporary offer, why don’t you add the details to your homepage too.  At least people will be able to find it via one or two clicks.  This helps avoid the dead-link syndrome after the promotion is done and showcases your attention to detail, care for your business and visitors alike.

You should also make it a habit to check your website links regularly especially the pages that are linked to your home page. Click on the links, check where they lead to and fix the dud ones.

Business Start-up!  If you are a new business, I know we all get excited of what is to come.  But try not to succumb to the desire to show off your website URL until it is operational.  It is quite disappointing to click on a hyped link and find nothing, so let the first click lead to an inspirational experience and not a deflating one.

So have you got a system in place to check your website links regularly?  If you do please share as a comment below.  I better get my spring cleaning hat on and carry out my maintenance routine too.

Till next time, don’t stop dusting.

Temi Koleowo

Business First Steps provides a range of tools and services for your business start-up and development.  Affordable, practical and result-driven services is what we offer.

The Gear Stick

I remember when I was learning how to drive and the thought of changing gears used to fill me with dread. I prayed to God that the traffic lights will always be green so I could avoid the notorious biting-point when moving on. Oh the pain of learning how to drive! I was so elated when I passed my driving test. Guess what! I was also quick to forget my driving fear, the neck pain and throbbing headaches from concentrating so hard.

How do I go from Gear One to Six? 

Getting the kids ready to go back to school today got me thinking of why I need to change my business gear too.  Every now and then I get restless with my business goals and it is always an indication that I need to do more to grow my business.

Lately it seems I have been stuck in gear three for a while, business is not slow but my speed is limited to a certain level on the speedometer. You might be familiar with this – getting enough clients to keep you motivated but not enough to stretch you. I had my reasons for travelling at that speed, one being family commitments but that excuse is fading fast  as my little one starts school this week.

My driving instructor once told me that if I keep travelling in gears 1,2 and 3 only, I will do some damage to my car. The same goes for any business stuck in slow.  So I got my pen and paper out to consider what I need to do to raise the bar and travel in gear six. After all there is no way I can travel in gear six if I move at 20mph.

If I want to grow my business and make it as big as it can be, I better get ready to travel fast.  So as I write my list, I will implore you to do the same.

So what controls do you need to put in place to grow your business?

  • Do you need to wake up a bit earlier in the morning or add more hours at night?
  • Watch less TV?
  • Reduce the number of personal phone calls you answer during the day?
  • Read more books or publications about your industry?
  • Get qualified or training?
  • Take your to-do-list seriously?
  • Find a mentor, a consultant or someone you can share your ideas and brainstorm?
  • Exercise more to be fitter so you can think better?

If your business is stalling because you are stuck in gear one, isn’t it time you change gear so you can accelerate and reach your destination faster?  It is going to be a gradual process to travel at 80mph and beyond. But first thing is to gain control of your vehicle so you can at least increase your speed.  Once you can establish how to do that, then press down those pedals and change that gear stick. It is amazing how the car/business responds to that.

That is my plan for the next few months. I am going to get my head down and improve my business systems so I am more effective and efficient thereby producing more profitable results.  I hope you do the same and if you have other ideas of how we can accelerate to 100mph, do share.

If you need help with your business start-up or development, I can help you make sense of your ideas with my Business Brainstorming Sessions and other services.  Get in touch for more details.

I wish you good success.

Temi Koleowo

www.businessfirststeps.co.uk

Photos by runrunrun and buryosiol