Monday, 29 October 2007

Normal Service has been Restored

You may have gathered that last week was rather fraught due to the computer printer saga! I'm pleased and relieved to report that the new (second replacement) printer is operating beautifully and I've caught up with most of the backlog now. And my blood pressure is settling down nicely.

The workshop I've written for tomorrow evening is all set to go and I'm looking forward (a little nervously) to seeing how it is received. Then, there's another new workshop to write for delivery the following week - no signs of slowing down yet!

The latest post fiasco has decided me to send more virtual Christmas cards this year (and make a larger donation to charity). Most of my business runs on email these days - it's hard to understand how the postal system survives, especially when it's workers take action that can only damage it further. I'm lucky that I've got a really good postman, whom I've taken the time to get to know. However, whenever he's off, it really is pot luck whether I get my mail.

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Technology strikes again

Another day has been completely disrupted by my ongoing computer printer problems. The result is that I still do not have a printer that works. It's a long story but I won't bore you with the details. Let's just say that the printer that was delivered yesterday is being sent back because it's faulty. Hopefully the replacement they've promised me will arrive in time for my next workshop deadline.

One thing I'll say about is that they do come up with solutions. Their staff have been authorised to make decisions about actions that will resolve the problem fast. This is great customer service (and made me feel that someone cared - ahhh).

So, once again, not a lot achieved towards my new workshop to be delivered next week. Fortunately I always allow plenty of time to prepare so I'm not panicking - yet!

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Trials & tribulations in the office

So far this week has not been as productive as I would have liked. When you haven't got a functional printer, it's amazing how many pages you want to print out. However, I got notification that delivery should be today and arranged to stay in the office.

While waiting, I decided to battle with online technology today, and get linked to the social networking sites such as, digg, reddit etc. After spending far too much time on this, I still can't get the 'buttons' where I want them and feel that now is a good time to stop before I completely lose what's left of my sanity.

Imagine my surprise when, at 4.50 pm, the doorbell went and my neighbour told me that the printer had been delivered to her doorstep and left there (she wasn't in). You can bet that Amazon will be getting a note from me about that! I can understand leaving a couple of books on the doorstep but a higher value item? That reminds me, I'm always asked to sign for books - but obviously this printer doesn't warrant the same standard of delivery care.

My day hadn't quite finished with me. Eagerly opening the printer box and hoping to catch up on some printing jobs, I find that the USB connecting cable does not come as part of the package. No mention of the need to order this as a separate item. So tomorrow, I'll need to visit Staples and buy one. More time spent doing non-productive stuff.

If there isn't steam coming from this post, there should be!

Friday, 19 October 2007

Talks and Workshops

This has been quite a busy week, hence no posts since Tuesday. On Wednesday I gave a talk to a group of business women in Southampton that was very well received. In fact, they want me back again next year! Thanks ladies, I look forward to it.

This lunchtime meeting took place at a large, very busy hotel, Jurys Inn Southampton. I arrived early and was shown to the room by a very helpful young man who took the trouble to ask if I'd like a coffee while I waited and brought it to me straight away. He was also responsible for making sure that lunch was served on time. Nothing was too much trouble for him. Excellent customer service.

The following day I delivered a workshop on my Business Action System. Here's the room all ready for the delegates.

I really love running this workshop. The delegates always go away with a workable plan they can put in place straight away and you can see the light bulbs go on as they discover a particular step that is going to make their time poor day easier. As part of the aftercare, I'll be following up with some phone calls over the next few weeks to see if the System is working for them and answering any questions they might have.

On the technical side, I've ordered a new printer today that should arrive next week (fingers crossed). I'm already feeling as though a limb has been removed through not being able to print stuff out as and when I want to. I just hope the machine (and new cartridges) arrive before my next deadline!

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

Save me from technology!

My patience has been tried today, and I'm sure my stress levels have been higher than usual! My printer has expired. It was working fine this morning, but after lunch, without so much as a by your leave or asking permission, it has simply given up the ghost. (I tried changing the fuse and then a completely new power cable - both to no avail).

This would normally just be an irritation. However, tomorrow I am addressing a group of business women in Southampton and cannot now provide a handout. And on Thursday I'm presenting my Business Action System workshop - thank goodness I printed out all the workbooks yesterday!

Technology is so wonderful - when it works!

This experience got me thinking. Most of us solo-preneurs are very time poor. We're always working to tight deadlines and trying to fit too much into our days. Something like printer failure or anything to do with computers (!) can suddenly eat away at our precious hours and minutes.

One way to lessen the impact of the unexpected is to factor in some contingency time. We're notoriously bad at this but it really can make the difference between being merely an annoyance and being the cause of cries of anguish.

Tomorrow, on the way back from the lunchtime talk I shall pop into Staples and see what printers they have.

Anyone need a supply of Epson compatible ink cartidges (for a Stylus C62) very reasonable prices?

Friday, 12 October 2007

Motivation can be hard work!

How do you get a small business owner motivated? No it isn't a joke question, unfortunately! I've noticed a distinct lack of motivation in some of my coaching clients lately. They're comfortable with what they're making and they don't feel the urgency to get out there and hustle. It's really difficult for me to find out what their future goals are.

Anthony Robbins talks about needing a 'big enough Why' and he's absolutely right. Unless you have overwhelming reasons to go for something (either in your personal or business life), why should you bother? Far easier to stay in your comfort zone and go with the flow.

At the end of this month I'm running a workshop all about Motivation for Entrepreneurs. Apparently it's sold out already. I think the business owners I'll see there will be looking for ways of rediscovering the motivation they felt when they first started in business. It seems to me that, unless you nurture that motivation, it starts to wilt under the every day pressures of being a business owner. Before long, it's all too much effort (we start to think fondly of being a salaried employee!) and we look for a way out.

I firmly believe that it is possible to reconnect with your motivation - and I'm going to prove it to my workshop delegates! It's all to do with thinking big, very big......

Monday, 8 October 2007

Small Business Coaching just isn’t taken seriously

I don’t know what it is about small business owners but we must be the hardest people to convince to ask for help!

When, at a networking event recently, I described the sort of problems that can be eliminated through business coaching and the results that can be achieved, I saw a lot of nodding heads. But those nodding heads did not translate to leads, or even to enquiries!!

I’ve come to the conclusion that our culture regards asking for help as a sign of weakness or deficiency in some way. It’s that stiff upper lip syndrome. Fortunately there are some enlightened souls who understand that they can get ahead of their competitors by employing a business coach!

Today, I found myself struggling with a sales letter I want to write. Now, I’ve done a lot of research into copy writing - what to do and the steps to take but I still couldn’t put down on paper what I need to say. Then the thought popped into my head “Why don’t you get a specialist Copywriter to do this for you?”.

After arguing (with myself) that I could write the letter myself, I realised that my pride was getting in the way of my business. One phone call later and I feel such a relief knowing that I don’t need to struggle any more.

And it frees me up to do other tasks that are in my area of expertise.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Distance and Perspective

I swear the weeks are speeding up! Today I went along to someone else’s workshop (always a good idea to put a bit of distance between you and your business from time to time) and can’t believe that it’s the weekend tomorrow! I really could do with an extra day this week.

At the workshop, I had a ‘light bulb’ moment, a realisation of something I’ve been doing that is stopping me from being as productive as I could be. I’ve said before that I spend a lot of time researching subjects that can help my coaching clients – and workshop delegates. What seems to be happening is that I don’t know when to stop! I have to learn when enough is enough, so that I can move on to another, equally important, project.

As well as this insight, it was very useful to spend a bit of time looking at my future business plans. Somehow you get a different perspective when you’re out of the office.

Enough rambling, let the weekend commence. Where's that bottle of wine?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

A Cold Caller who ‘Gets It’

I run a workshop that helps business owners sell ‘without being pushy’, something we all dislike. I took a sales call this afternoon which was a wonderful example of not being pushy, rather surprisingly from our old friends BT.

Apart from being asked “How are you today?” (a question definitely to be avoided when calling a complete stranger), overall I was quite impressed. Not often I can say that of a sales call!

What this caller was offering was ‘a great deal on broadband’. However, he first asked did I have broadband (yes), was it a dial up connection (no) and was I satisfied with it (yes, very).

He then said, “Well, if you’re ever thinking of changing your provider, I hope you’ll give us a call.” I was a little taken aback. Usually cold callers have a script they’re determined to follow and they don’t bother listening to the answers you give them. Or they try to persuade you that their service is far superior.

None of that with this caller from BT! He found out the facts, realised he was talking to a happy customer, and ended the call gracefully. As a result, I felt listened to and respected. If only all sales callers were like that.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Learning and Technology

Today has not been brilliant because I didn’t get enough sleep! This was due to a long session in the dentist’s chair yesterday. I won’t go into the gory details but the work he did made it rather painful to lie on one side of my face, so I kept waking myself up.

As I didn’t have any meetings, I decided to have an easy day listening to teleclasses and studying some courses I bought a while ago and hadn’t got around to. The more I study, the more I realise I’ll never know everything I want to learn about.

One very annoying thing that happened today was that, after sending out my monthly newsletter, I got an email from a subscriber to say that the links weren’t working, despite testing them several times. I’m trying to get a few more people along to my Business Action System workshop on 18th October, but I can’t see them signing up if they can’t get to the website details. Technology is wonderful – when it works!! And it certainly tries your patience.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

A bit more about Goal Setting

As you might imagine, I subscribe to lots of blogs and newsletters. I like to make sure I’m on top of the latest coaching techniques and business ideas, so that I can pass them straight on to my business coaching clients.

Yesterday, I wrote about setting goals for the month. I was reminded in a newsletter of the importance of checking that the goals are truly yours. In other words, are you doing this for yourself (because you really, really want to) or could you be doing them for someone else?

You’ll know what the answer is. If the goal is someone else’s, you will feel a bit uncomfortable. You certainly won’t feel excited by it. If, on the other hand, it’s your goal, you will feel very excited and inspired by it.

Are you excited by your goals?

Monday, 1 October 2007

Try a bit of goal setting

Another month, another set of goals! I have to admit that sometimes they seem a bit daunting, but without them, I’d find it harder to stay motivated and on track.

The interesting phenomenon that happens when you write down your goals, is that your subconscious gets to work. Try it and see! Write down some goals that you’d like to achieve for your business (or in your personal life) this month. Put the sheet of paper somewhere safe. At the end of the month, look at what you wrote down. I bet that you will have achieved at least some of the goals you set at the beginning of the month.

Don’t ask me how it works, just believe that it does.

Now, imagine how much more you could achieve if you worked towards those goals consciously as well!

Let me know how you get on.