SMBs: An Unhappy Staff Will Kill Your Marketing Efforts

UN HAPPYAs Dr. Phil would say, “How’s that working for ya?”

You spent a fortune on marketing, but you have a disgruntled staff. Yes, the hiring pool is high, but do you really want to sabotage your marketing efforts and business stability with an unhappy staff?

  • A simple thank you goes a long way.
  • An occasional perk (like a reward of free product or a healthy employee discount) never hurt in lieu of better wages you can’t pay.
  • Incentive programs boost morale, and therefore, productivity.
  • Birthday and holiday recognitions may seem trivial, but they provide a loyalty ROI.

If you are not recognizing and appreciating your employees, you are placing the health of your business at risk. Unhappy employees are less productive, more prone to error, and may begin to pilfer.

A pat on the back, a thank you for extra effort, an occasional free lunch, recognition at a staff meeting and on your social media for a job well done…these simple efforts can mean the difference for your continued success as a business.

Why is this so important for Marketing?

Your awesome marketing may bring those new customers in the door, but what if your employees don’t shower those new customers with love and loyalty for the biz?

You’re budget is tight, but your wallet will be tighter if you lose your best assets – faithful and loyal employees.

Being an Entrepreneur Means Showing What You are Made Of

Jill Abramson, Former Executive Editor of New York Times giving Commencement Speech at Wake Forest University

Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor of the New York Times, gave the 2014 commencement speech at Wake Forest University. Quite appropriately, Wake Forest requested she speak on resilience. Her controversial firing from the NYT just the week previous made the topic most meaningful.

As a Small Business consultant, I am often energized and inspired by my clients’ resilience. Some of them are franchisees facing years of decline of the franchisor. Many of them are hoping the franchisor will stop rearranging the deck chairs and let the ship sink because It is hard for them to continue to pay royalties for so little support in return from a struggling company. And in light of their contractual bonds, they have amazing resilience facing each day in limbo, wondering when and if the other shoe will drop.

But if there is one thing I have observed in serving only small business owners; it is their incredible resilience in tough times. As an entrepreneur, whether franchisee or independent owner, you are already taking enormous financial and personal risks to run your own business. But, the reward is immeasurable.

I, too, am an entrepreneur, and face the same sense of the mystery of the next day, month, and even year, in regard to my future. But I am grateful everyday for the resilience I have gained through being my own boss.

So, for me, and I am sure many others, listening to Jill Abramson’s commencement speech today was an inspiration. Her smile and confidence spoke volumes in terms of the positive reaches of upset and challenge. She spoke of her father’s words of wisdom in times of failures: “Show what you are made of.”

Well said.

“The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something.”

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something. It’s as simple as that. A lot of people have ideas, but there are few who decide to do something about them now. Not tomorrow. Not next week. But today. The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer. – Nolan Bushnell

I got my LLC today!

What’s the big deal? The big deal is calling your business official. It’s all well and good to say you are a consultant, but being able to have an official status means it’s real. And that creates new energy!

I got laid off in August 2010. Best thing that ever happened to me. I was crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t jump puddles for me… and it took a layoff to recognize it. So now I’m crossing my own oceans. I knew I had skills that i enjoyed using and there was no reason to not create my business to do it. And it feels great!

I’m thrilled! There’s nowhere to go but UP! What a great month to make that change – November, a month of gratitude.

Thank you to all my family, friends, colleagues, clients, followers, fans….. everyone who always gave me a high-five with every step forward. Man, it’s true, you can’t do it without that kind of support.

 

Is KMart Abusing Employees with No Time for Thanksgiving?

This is just a quick poll to get your opinion on the insanity around Black Friday.


In case you aren’t aware, KMart recently announced they were opening at 6 am on Thanksgiving and remaining open for 41 hours through Black Friday. I tweeted them about it and later learned this is their standard reply for any negative social media comments around this decision.

@KMart replied:

“Our decision to extend hours is based in part on fdbk from our Members, who sought more flex holiday in-store shopping times.”

This is a case where the customer is not always right. Businesses must consider the impact on employees.

Huffington Post has a screenshot of a Facebook thread with this discussion.

As a Retail Career Dog, I remember that Thanksgiving and Christmas Days were the only 2 days a year I could promise my family I’d be there. Not the case for today’s employees… Soon they’ll be open on Christmas Day. Oh, wait, I think they did start that in 2012… :(

(Note: Sorry to pick on just you, KMart. Yes, I know many retailers are open on Thanksgiving. But that doesn’t make it right in a day and age when family ties are so fragile and family traditions that help hold them together are disintegrating.)

3 Small Business Technology Resolutions for 2013 (pt.2)

In my previous post, I tried to drive home the notion that if you didn’t collaborate in your business in 2012, then you didn’t see growth. And 2013 isn’t going to be any better if you don’t change something.

Labor of Sisyphus
Labor of Sisyphus

I also promised a list of tools to help you make real world productive changes that are also HUGE time savers…

So without further ado…

1.  USE a Shared Calendar:

Having an item posted on a calendar makes it REAL for all involved. It also eliminates the need to send out notices, reminders, make calls, etc.

Google calendar, Microsoft Outlook, and others can create a separate or existing calendar for shared use. You can also configure them to send a notice and reminders to all invitees.

It’s a one time task of entering meetings/events with all accessory tasks automated – notes, additional information, agenda, etc. can be included in details and everyone has all the information instantly accessible in one location without having to print or search the inbox. Even telecommuters, out-of-state hires, … anyone can have access without a separate function to be performed.

2. Save Everyone’s Time via Teleconferencing:

You don’t have to have an on-site meeting every time to be productive (although I would suggest an occasional face to face helps with bonding). Giving your people the freedom to call in to the meeting from the comfort of their home or office is a huge win-win. And this may sound crazy but, record, but do not share the option for your attendees to listen later. If people know they can listen to a recorded version, they will have an excuse not to attend and therefore won’t be participating or providing valuable input. Furthermore, they may never get the time to listen to it later or they will get time sensitive material too late. Have well-planned mandatory monthly meetings with an agenda that include anyone who “touches” a customer.

Options: These are just a few that have both free and priced options:

freeconferencecall.com/

join.me

skype.com

webex.com

3. VIDEO onsite meetings:

Yes, make a video of your meetings. Give a friend or family member a perk to do the job – or hire a college intern or fix a mount or tripod.  If attendees desire, you can conveniently post the video to a DropBox or SugarSync shared account for all who attend these meetings (too large a file to email). All can use it to self-critique performance, review feedback, and monitor success.

Keep your meetings short – 30-45 minutes max – and stick to that time frame for every meeting. You’ll have better attendance and better attention. (Videos will help you see why meetings run amuck!)

Options:

For file sharing – yes, Virginia, this is the cloud…:

dropbox.com

sugarsync.com

For Video:

Your SmartPhone

Countless new inexpensive palm-size video devices (that can be placed on a tripod).

YouTube Capture

Vimeo

YouTube Channel

OBVIOUSLY, there are many other options out there and many more to come. But those above and many like them have the benefit of being accessible with most any device you (and anyone else) may already own – and often free!

Now go hit some of these links and make 2013 better!

Damn! I don’t want to go back to my office to remember why I’m here in the kitchen!

English: Unit diagram for the free-forgetful a...
I have no idea what this all means …. but it looked like a good match for my post today! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does all this multitasking fry the brain?

I work from my home office. I have 2 monitors, a big desk, a computer desk, files, bookcase, everything to keep me focused and organized.

hahahahahahahaha :)

So with all these tools, why do I still lose my brain occasionally!?%#(*^)#*

And since my home office is in the back of the house – supposedly to help keep me distraction free :s – when I think of something I need elsewhere in the house, I tend to wait until a good time to break from working to go get it.

Why don’t I just get up and go get it? I work for myself… at home… no boss but my clients… and yet I don’t like to stop my work to do it. Can we say OCD?

ADD and proud of it? Whatever…

Problem is… when I finally get up to go to the other side of the house to get that all important thing that I had to force myself to stop working for, by the time I get there, I have thought so much about what I want to do when I get back to my desk that I FORGET WHY THE HELL I WENT TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE HOUSE TO START WITH.

I have decided it’s not age. I have decided it’s not incompetence. I also have decided that it’s not … um, I forgot what I was going to say :D

At any rate, I have determined that it is simply the curse of multitasking. I wait and wait until I can take a break from all the things swirling around in my head to complete, and finally force myself to break away, and BAM! Mind block on my side mission because I want to think only of what I had to interrupt to get “whatever I needed” so badly to interrupt my work to go get it. HUH? And of course, the only way to remember is to go back to my office to trigger the memory of the need… And then the cycle starts again!

It’s obviously a habit, maybe a bad habit. I tend to refuse to break away to do what I need to do when I am on a good roll at my work – which is like, all the time and hard to stop. Like right now, my coffee cup has been empty for a while and I REALLY want some more. But, I am obviously on a roll here…. and don’t want to stop. The worst habit is not even stopping to relieve myself (i.e. PEE!) .

Is it addiction to my work? Is it hyperfocus? Is it just plain stubbornness?! Who knows.

I reallllllly need to stop and get some more coffee and … I reallllly need to make room for it! LOL

Thanks for letting me rant!

A Thanksgiving message: Thankful for my Clients and for Modern Technology

Update: I posted this in 2012, and the sentiment remains the same, EXCEPT that Whitfield Consulting is now SMB Smart Marketing! When I registered for an LLC, the name Whitfield Consulting was not available. I am grateful that this bump in the road caused me to rethink my brand and give it a fresh feel. I hope you enjoy the following Gratitude blog…

It has been an amazing journey of personal and business growth for me these last few years.

I remember in 3rd grade (many years ago!), reading a short story by Isaac Asimov set in the future. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the title. But I do remember a drawing of school age children sitting at the kitchen table in front of a computer monitor taking school lessons.

I remember so clearly looking at that picture, and hoping I live long enough for that scene to become a reality. You must realize that at that time, IBM’s computers filled entire rooms, there were no cell phones, no answering machines, no video games, color TV was just emerging, and central air conditioning was a modern convenience. The concept of the story seemed so, so far away.

And now, here I sit, at MY laptop, dual monitors, running a small business with clients from all over this great country from my home office! Arizona, Pennsylvania, Texas, California, North Carolina, Kansas, Arkansas, Illinois, Georgia, New York, ….

How did they find me here in Atlanta? Through that “magic” internet… on LinkedIn discussions, Facebook interactions, Twitter tweetchats, Quora discussions, Google+ hangouts, professional listings on various websites and affiliations, my email newsletter, and of course, personal and client referrals.

I had a colleague in disbelief when I told him I had never personally met some of my clients – that all our engagement was through the internet or phone contact. He couldn’t understand how anyone would hire me without meeting me in person!

I tried to explain they HAD personally met me – in a way!! I am more personally exposed on the internet than I ever have been to anyone in my lifetime. Details of my entire career and public interactions are all over the internet accessible by anyone at anytime.

So, back to my point: not only am I thankful for my clients, past, present, and future, but also for modern technology. Here I sit in my home office in Roswell, Georgia (Metro Altanta, GA) communicating with the world. Not only did I live long enough to see Isaac Asimov’s story, but I am living it.

It is such a pleasure getting to know so many entrepreneurs in so many different types of small businesses. They each have their own way of approaching business, but they all have such passion for their individual businesses and it rubs off on me – very inspiring. And for that I am grateful to you all.

I also have had the pleasure of acquiring new colleagues through social media. Professionals I have never met personally, but who check in on me and my progress as I check in on them. We share ideas, ask each other questions and offer moral support.

And of course, if it weren’t for my family and friends supporting me, I couldn’t have done it at all. I thank them and love them all.

So that is my message of thanks to everyone for this Thanksgiving day. I wish only the best for you and yours today. It is a great pleasure to be a part of your lives and your successes!

Sincerely,
Hania