How was your date with Irene?

You make disaster preparations, right?

If you live or work in the East Coast you know all too well that it was a stressful week. Between an earthquake and a hurricane people and businesses had their patience, emotions and business disaster plans tested.

You might be shocked to know that in a random survey conducted by Powerfeedback 63% of small businesses polled say that they have no formal disaster plan in place.

Does this describe your business? If so what will you do differently in the future?

Even if your business has a solid emergency preparation plan in place, now is the time to honestly critique how your business performed. Often when we talk about disaster planning we think of data backup and shoring up buildings. While this is indeed very important, it is also crucial to honestly evaluate how you communicated with your customers and employees during situations like this.

Communication before, during and after natural or man-made disasters is the key to maintaining a faithful following of customers as well as a loyal and dedicated staff.

Feel free to email me for more tips on how to minimize the impact of any calamity that may occur.

How do you start your day?

When you start your computer for the first time of the day what do you see? In a study conducted by Powerfeedback, 64% of the respondents said that the homepage on their web browser was set to a news site.

If you fall into this category I would like to ask you to change your homepage for a one week trial.

As we tune into the news we are overwhelmed with bad news. Hunger levels are worsening. Jobless numbers are growing. The economy is weakening. Crime is rising. Foreclosures continue to soar. More of our wonderful military service men and women are dying in the overseas wars that we are engaged in, not to mention that the suicide rate with our military worsens as I post this blog entry.

All of this and other bad news weighs heavily on our psyche and attitude. While we should and must remain well informed, I am suggesting that we don’t have to be pelted with bad news immediately as we start our day.

I know that one of my tips last week was to change the channel of any tv’s in your place of business from a news (especially cable news) channel to something food, sports or music oriented, but today I am encouraging you to consider a similar approach with the homepage on your browser.

I have done this personally and I notice that I have a much more positive attitude as I am drinking my coffee, or when I restart my web browser during the course of the day. If you are wondering, for now the website that I use as my default is the The Daily Motivator.

Please give this or another site an opportunity and take note as to what impact this has (or not) on your mental outlook.

How 3 things can improve your biz

It is very easy to blame a deep recession for the lack of business. While a depressed economy is tough on nearly every business, there are things you can do to make lemonade out of lemons. Here are three simple things that you can do now to have a huge and positive impact on your business.

  1. Even if you can not afford to engage a professional market research firm like Powerfeedback, regularly ask your customers what they think of the service, products and value they are receiving from your business. Whether you are a fan of former New York Mayor Ed Koch or not, he was very conscious of the importance of what they people thought of his efforts and he never stopped asking everyone, “how am I doing?”
  2. Like it or not, business owners and managers are largely dependent on their staff for their success. If you are not regularly seeking AND utilizing employee input to address issues, and to improve your business, you are being terribly short-sided and limiting opportunities of success for your business.
  3. If your business has a television(s) on premises, turn it off, or at the very least, turn on ESPN or the Food Channel. All we see on network and cable news channels are depressing, partisan and negative news. None of this helps our psyche (customers or employee) in a good way, and does much more harm than good. If you are worried about missing breaking news, fear not. In my experience, unlike good news, bad news always finds a way to your door without delay.

Let me add one more bonus tip. Step outside of your body for a moment and ask yourself how you talk to people, whether they are customers or employees. Are you the bearer of bad news? Is every word from your mouth about current business and economic conditions negative? Do people look at you as a beacon of hope or the person ready to drive the last nail into the coffin? Things may be tough but you don’t have to be the messenger. You can however be the person that people turn to for an upbeat tone.

Simple things like these can have a positive impact on your business right now with little to no cost. Before a flower blooms it starts with a seed and nurturing. Please make the time to plant the positive seeds your business needs to succeed.

Why I still get paper bills

A good friend decided to go completely paperless. An admirable goal, but not one without consequence.

Part of her action plan included converting as many of her bills to electronic delivery versus paper. The system worked until she changed her email address. Two things happened. First, some of her billers did not update their records with the new email address. Secondly, she missed changing the address on two of her accounts.

As a result of this, her credit rating suffered, which is always problematic but even more so in a tight credit market and where your credit score means so much.

If you have your personal and/or business bills delivered electronically, you may want to think twice about that plan!

Why today is a great time to start a business

"It might seem counterintuitive to start a new business when the economy is in the dumps. But a recession can actually be the ideal time for launching a company. In fact, many well-known and successful organizations were born during an economic slump."

This seems very odd to many people I suspect, but the fact is that many of our most successful businesses starting during recessions and other significant economic downturns as this story reveals.

"Recessions, however, aren’t advantageous only to start-ups. Pre-existing companies can also make incredible gains in years where the economy is down."

While the author is correct in that a big factor for triumph is recognizing a market need, never underestimate the power of determination, hard work, commitment and total focus.

If you enjoyed learning about these companies and how they made it, you should also check out this article as well. It too chronicles more entrepreneurs who took the leap and made it big.

While the names in these articles are big, please never forget that when they started out, they were unknown and certainly untested. At Confidential Counselor we work with start-ups and existing businesses who have the mindset for success but just need the direction to put all of the puzzle pieces of success into their proper place, which is what we do!

If you are thinking about starting a business or expanding your current business but fear is holding you back, please keep this quote from Dale Carnegie in mind:

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

Jobless rate is now at Zero?

Are you seeking work? If so, are you considering all of your options?

Very good friends of mine own an eatery. Business is booming and they need more staff. They posted help wanted signs in their establishment three weeks ago. So far, one person has applied for a job.

A client of Confidential Counselor runs a light manufacturing business. Here too they need more staff, and once again, despite signs, ads and word-of-mouth advertising, only two applicants have stepped forward in 9 weeks.

Can someone please explain to me what is happening here? I am not looking for avenues for these and other businesses I know to find employees, I need someone to explain to me how is it that we have double-digit unemployment and these and other businesses can not find people willing to work.

What did you say about me?

If you asked 10 people what they thought of your business, what would they say?

Seems like a simple question, right? Perhaps not so easy. Its open-ended and can range from the quality of products/services that you offer to what kind of management/employees you have.

The bottom-line of this very simple question is simple. Are you actively engaging customers/employees/clients for their opinion and feedback? If no, why? Do you like embarrassment and shock? If yes, well then I guess you would receive no nasty surprises from those 10 random people!

Please, take a Boy Scout mentality and BE PREPARED!