Nothing stings quite as much as losing a valuable staff member, especially if they head over to your competitor.   It is like a break up.   For a lot of us (especially female business owners) we go through the five stages of business loss grief.

 1. Denial 

“Oh no they haven’t really left me.  I bet they are just having a bad day.  They love me, everyone loves me.  They love their job, every one here loves their job”

“They can’t live with out me…. I know they will be back!”

 

2. Anger

“That b@!*^!#d, how could they leave?  Don’t they know who I am?  Don’t they know what I have done for them?  Good, I am glad they are gone.  I hated their stupid dog stories anyway.   I will find someone better!”

 

3. Bargaining

“Lets give them more cash, bucket loads of the stuff.  Lets give them flexible work hours and let them bring their weird dog into the office.  Anything, we will do anything regardless of how ridiculous it is”

 

4. Depression

“I am a crap boss, no one likes me.  I don’t want to do this anymore, its just too….(insert sniff sniff)….too hard…blah blah blah…poor me!

 

5. Acceptance

“Well losing one of our team sucked, but onwards and upwards.  Time to evaluate what we need and get an add on Seek”

 

Be mindful that you will actually grieve the loss of an employee.  It is normal and human to feel disappointed; especially if you had no idea the employee was not happy.  Remember that employees leave for many reasons, some you have control over, some you don’t.   So how do you avoid the pain?  Read on…

Here is a question I ask all business owners about their staff.  “If (insert name of staff member) left would you be:

a) relieved

b) disappointed

c) devastated?”

If the answer is a) relieved – it is time to do some serious thinking and time to start some uncomfortable conversations around performance and expectations. 

Quarterly reviews with staff are invaluable.  They take away the “Uhoh I am being hauled into the bosses office” fear.  It is a meeting to discuss the employer as much as they employee.   Lets call it “airing time” for everyone!

If the answer is b) disappointed – this is the reasonable response! Funny enough, I rarely get this response.

If the answer is c) devastated – whooaaa baby!  You have far too much invested into this relationship.  It is not a marriage, you do not get to expect “till death do as part” fidelity and commitment.  Ask yourself why you would be devastated?  If that person has become so integral to your business that the loss of them would be devastating you might want to rethink your business fast!

 

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching

Gold Coast

 

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So you have tried sending newsletters to your database because everyone else is doing it… but you can’t figure out why no one ever reads them?  It is probably because they suck.  There are a few mistakes businesses make that will have your data base “opting out” as fast as you can say…well… my newsletter sucks!


Mistake 1 – Irregular as Grandpa’s toilet habits

Newsletters are about building trust and loyalty with your database.  If you are expecting to send one out and be swamped with responses you are likely to be very disappointed.  You need to be consistent but not overwhelming.  That means sending one per week or month, not one every time the phone stops ringing and the leads start disappearing.

Mistake 2 – As boring as Grandpa’s old stories

Have a bit of fun!  Add some colour and maybe a pretty picture or two!  Share something about your business that they might not know.  One of my most read newsletters featured Molly, my fat old dog! Who knew people would be so interested in my office assistant/foot warmer/fat old dog?  Feature a staff member that perhaps is behind the scenes, or add photos of staff that your clients might talk to regularly but have never met.

Mistake 3 – Stop selling me stuff

Be gentle, build a relationship with your database.  Share some love (this means some free advice or information that is useful to them).  I am constantly getting feedback on the Small Fish newsletters we send out.  We offer useful information about building your business – we are nice like that!

Mistake 4 – Let me escape if I chose to

You must must must have an opt-out link!  Nothing frustrates me more than not being able to stop a newsletter that is not relevant to me.  It is not personal, people might come back!  Give them the option to stop receiving your emails so you don’t annoy them!  Having an “opt out” is newsletter law!

Mistake 5 – Being to chicken to sell me anything

At some point you are going to need to put a sales message or call to action in your newsletter.  Here is the golden rule – 80% information 20% sales!  Give me a big chunk of great hints, tips, ideas, info or fun stuff then a small chunk of sales messages.  If you want people to respond to an offer, ask them to respond!  Be specific!  I have been receiving emails from an amazing business for a year now.  They are full of great tips and stories, but I still don’t know what they sell!  Weird…but true!

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching

Gold Coast


Just thinking about debt collection makes me feel anxious.  I HATE it.  Asking people for money is just not something I want to spend my time doing.  It played a huge part in my decision to join Small Fish Business Coaching, where someone else does it for me! 

Just so we are clear your debtors are the people that owe you money, your creditors are people that you owe money to. I have had a few people look a little confused when I start talking “debtors” to them.  Sometimes you will hear debtors referred to as “ageing receivables”.   

 

Don’t underestimate the effect your debtors can have on your cash flow.  If you have never thought too much about it then I want you to do the following;

1) Find out how much you are owed in total

2) Find out how much is overdue

3) Think about what you would do with that money if you had it in YOUR bank account

Sending out Invoices

It may be stating the obvious but the accounts can’t get paid unless the customer has an invoice. How you do is not as important as the fact that you do actually do it! 

  • Make sure the invoice is hitting the desk of the person responsible for paying it. Try to cut out the middle man where possible.
  • Send the invoice as soon as humanely possible.  Don’t leave it a week or two before you get the chance to invoice.
  • Give people the option to pay on the spot if they want.  This depends on the type of business of course, but if you can offer mobile credit card services then do it! The cash is better in your account than someone else’s.
  • A 30 day account may not work for your business.  You can offer the terms that suit you!

Follow up on outstanding accounts

  • The longer an account remains unpaid the less chance you have of recouping the debt.  Some unscrupulous businesses know that small debts are often too expensive to chase.  If they can put you off long enough you may give up.
  •  If an invoice remains unpaid at the end of the month get on the phone!  Better to find out sooner rather than later that your invoice was misplaced.
  • Any conversations should be recorded in your accounting program (MYOB has a notes section).  Make sure you find out when the debt will be paid and make a note in your calender. If the debt has not been paid on that day, call again!

Have a Debt Collection Policy and Timeline

  • Write up and implement a collections’ policy that includes strategies for what to do when the customer won’t pay. Documenting business rules surrounding debt recovery will give clear direction in  knowing when it is time to hand the matter over to a collection agency.
  • Dedicate time every week to debt collection.

Monitor Ageing Receivables or as I like to call the “Debtors” ( the money people owe you!)

  • Know what you are owned on a weekly basis. Don’t wait for your bookkeeper to arrive for your quarterly BAS.
  • Consider how much time you are spending chasing small accounts that are always behind.  At some point these become unprofitable for your business.  Stop offering them terms if this is the case.  Yes, they may go elsewhere but who cares!  You are not making a profit from them anyway!

One last point for consideration!

Why offer 30 day account terms for people who don’t request them? 


Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching

Gold Coast

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Are you in a bad relationship where you can’t meet the other person’s needs?  Is the relationship leaving you wondering why you deal with them at all?  Have you worked out if that one customer is actually costing you money as opposed to making you money?  Worse still, has the relationship become abusive?  Nasty behaviour, foul language, hurtful accusations?  It may sound extreme but it happens more often that you may think.

I will never agree that “the customer is always right”.  It does not sit well with me at all.  A lot of small business owners that I speak with feel that they have no right to let a customer go.  If you wish you knew how to end a bad relationship then consider the tips below. 

1) Assess the situation – has someone’s patience been pushed to the limit?  This can often happen if your customer feels they have not been heard.  Take the time to listen, be objective and address any issues.  Have they loss confidence for some reason?  If they are a new client is this just a “nurturing” period.

2) Think about your history together – if this is a long-term customer have they always been difficult or has something changed?  Ask the question! You may find you have someone with more on their plate than they know how to deal with. Perhaps it is just bad timing and you are on in the firing line.  Is it a workable situation?  If they have always been difficult it might be time to cut the relationship right now.  Leopards don’t change their spots!

3) Consider the value in keeping their relationship – would severing this relationship put your business with any other supplier or customer in jeopardy?  If so, tread carefully.  The relationship still needs to end, but perhaps it needs to happen with more caution.

Now you have asked yourself those questions it is time to take action! (The scary bit)

Be clear and concise – don’t even think about the old “its not you, its me” excuse.  Say what you mean and mean what you say. 

Stay calm – no amount of anger is going to make the situation any better.  The aim is to part ways amicably. 

Avoid the blame game – stick with “I” as opposed to “you”. I can’t meet your expectations is lot better than “You are a @#$! (insert your own insult here).

Remain professional – don’t leave a customer stuck in an expensive or unmanageable situation (half finished projects) unless you are willing to return any deposit they may have made.

Put your big girl/boy pants on – don’t allow a customer to talk you round.  The relationship has failed for a reason.  Let it go!  

Be respectful – don’t blab to everyone else before you have spoken to the customer (actually, don’t blab at all).  This is not an email or text situation.  It requires a conversation.  Put in writing the outcome of your situation after the discussion. 

Don’t be nasty – I have had someone say to me “If you don’t like it, then there is the door”.  That is one quick way of making a customer feel worthless.  You are a better person than that.

Business relationships are no different to personal relationships (except for the exchange of money of course).  If you could fulfil the needs of every man/woman that came into your life you would have married your kindergarten crush.  Where is the fun in that?  Don’t beat yourself up.  Don’t let the anxiety of dealing with a bad client hold you back.  You may find you make room for a good one to walk through the door.  Plenty more fish in the sea as my nana would say!

And remember, I rarely talk about situations I have not experienced.  I have had a few bad break ups in my time.  I expect there will be a few more and I will need to take my own advice! 

 

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching

Gold Coast

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Here is the last part of the Vintage Ads I managed to dig out with the help of CJ from GC Web

 

 

 

Cocaine Toothache drops!   Sure why not?  I could be wrong but they look like kiddies in that ad?  Cocaine for kiddies, even better idea!

If cooking is what “wives are for” then I am going to be single for ever.  I can’t boil water!  Uhohhh…. maybe I need a Kenwood Chef?

Mail order guns!  Quite funny that they would suggest you should buy yourself a gun for Christmas.  

Do you open before or after you have to spend the day with your nutty family?

Yet another “don’t get fat” ad that somehow also incorporates the idea of being a good housewife.  Yet another failing of mine…cleaning! 

Be the “You” he likes!  We may need the mail order gun for the guy who wrote this piece of marketing genius.

A gum massager! yeahhh….of course that’s what it is…. I  have nothing else to say about this one.  I can’t stop laughing long enough to type! 

Hope you enjoyed part 3!  If you did, make sure you share it around!  

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coach

Gold Coast

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As promised here are some more fantastic vintage ads to give you a laugh on Monday!  Let’s face it, everyone needs a little laugh on Mondays…..

So this of course is the preferred way to keep trim.  

I love that the selling point is that the cigarette will protect your throat from irritation!  

No smokers cough here……


Free for “chubbies”?  

Does this mean thin girls still have to pay for the fashion book (aka mail order catalogue)?  

Perhaps if the chubbies smoked a couple of Lucky Strike every day they wouldn’t need the chubbies fashion guide..

This one may be a favourite! 

In all of my “research” (yes, I was just wasting time googling “funny ads”) I did not find any advertising warning women of dirty men! 

Why are women the disease spreaders?  Could it be that only men worked in the advertising industry?


“Picked Up” clearly had different connotations when Blatz ran this corker of an ad.

Mum and Baby both enjoying a beer, that is almost criminal these days. 

I am not sure if you can see the text but basically the ad says

“Giving your baby Cola will make it less awkward at school”

Forget the fact that your cute kiddies teeth will be rotting out of their head, pre-diabetes will be setting in and a trip to “fat camp” might be necessary. 

Thanks again to CJ from GC Web

Now go do something productive till part 3 hits! 

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching

Gold Coast

Thanks to my BNI buddy CJ from GC Web I have come up with a heap of old advertisements that you will love (if you’re anything like me and think they are funny and not offensive).  I was first inspired to go on the hunt after CJ used one of the images in a presentation he did recently.  After “noodling” around (Jon Dales saying, not mine) I found a big old pile of them!   Just when I thought I had seen enough, CJ found more.  

So here they are!  I have been very clever and cunning in my attempt to lure you back to my blog by splitting them into three parts.  Actually, if I am very honest I could not figure out how to get them all loaded so lets pretend I am clever and cunning!  Just make sure you check back for parts 2 and 3.  I will leave the more offensive ones to last so you can’t help but come back…..

I wonder if she used that vacuum to beat her husband as he slept?

 

Just what every lucky lady wants for Christmas, a Vacuum…  Forget the perfume, jewellery and chocolates.  Who needs that crap when you can get a shiny new vacuum! 

 

Of course! Vitamins are the secret to a good house wife!

The harder I work the cuter I look??  Huh??  No amount of vitamins are going to make me a) a good house wife and b) any cuter while I work.

 

Kids and lighters does not sound like a great idea to me?

Just what every little kiddie needs!  An extremely dangerous device capable of burning down not just your house but your neighbours house too! 

 

 

Next time you an ad “grabs” you think about what it might look like in fifty years from now.

Don’t forget that there are more gems on their way.

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coach

Gold Coast

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I have just been sent a blog by Seth Godin from one of my clients Natalie Alaimo from Natalie Alaimo International. Seth’s blog “No, you can’t pick my brain. It costs too much” is fantastic!  Click here for Seth’s Blog! One of our challenges for Natalie was to stop her from giving all of her advice away for free.

Image: Idea go / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 There is a huge commitment to gaining knowledge that people don’t see when you offer a service as opposed to a product.  I spend hours buying books, investing in education and researching business to be able to confidently call myself a business coach.  Natalie does the same!  Her commitment to keeping up on social media is really quite amazing.  She is even travelling to the US in a month to listen to other leaders in her field.  All of this learning is expensive!  What is in our heads is valuable (most of the time anyway).

Seth’s blog “Stop picking my brain” is great at explaining the frustrations with people who like to take advice without paying for it. Now don’t get me wrong, I actually like giving advice away for free.  Especially to new business owners and those who share their advice with me.  I also love the challenge of finding solutions and learning more about industries that I have no direct experience with. A perfect example is Larelle from Innovation Cleaning, she asks for advice but in return I get a fantastic referrals and as I am domestically challenged, plenty of cleaning advice.  I have also been able to use Larelles’ business as a case study to back up how small changes can make big improvements.  Plus she has now transitioned to the “friends” list!

I am quite good at only giving advice where there is a reciprocal relationship.  I have a big network of amazing people that I get advice on everything from law and accounting through to decorating and cake making (not that I have ever actually “made” a cake).  In return they benefit from my business wisdom.

How much information and knowledge do you give away for free?  How does it make you feel?  Do you ever say “now it is time to pay?”  This is not a rhetorical blog today!  I would actually love to hear from you all!

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching – Gold Coast

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I have been thinking about the need to get a will sorted for some time now.  My thinking has been that yes I do need a will, but no I don’t want to spend the cash!  I was also thinking that splitting up my stash of cash would almost be funny!  Five bucks for mum, ten bucks for my sister, my shoe collection to my niece Zoe….. Who knows what I may accumulate and not get a chance to spend on holidays and handbags before I go?   

Marie Fedorov from Fedorov Family Lawyers on the Gold Coast is now part of the Cancer Council Queensland’s panel of solicitors.  She can organise your will for you for NO CHARGE!!  Huh? I hear you say… Sounds too good to be true doesn’t it?.  Well it’s not.  Here is the deal; if your will is relatively simple and you are willing to make a donation to Cancer Cancer Queensland when you leave, kick the bucket, push up daisies… your will is free.  There is no set amount you need to leave to Cancer Council Queensland.  Five bucks or five million bucks!  If your will is a little more complex Marie can advise on pricing.  

I asked Marie why she would provide this service as she makes just enough to cover costs.  Her answer “cause it feels good”.  As a business coach my first instinct is to ask “why do things that don’t make you money?”  Marie’s answer was as good as any!  Now I want some of those good vibes, a donation to Cancer Council is perfect.  They are such an amazing charity.  

Rarely is there a “no catch” offer.  This is one of them!  Marie is a fantastic lawyer – knowledgeable, discreet and professional and she is now a friend of mine.  I wouldn’t recommend her if I thought she was dodgy (I am not down with dodgy).  

Give Marie a call on 5562 0725 to book.  Let her know I sent you, she will be extra nice to you then! 

Melanie Miller

Small Fish Business Coaching – Gold Coast

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I had a full and exciting day planned today.  Lots of meetings, a nice lunch and even a quick hair cut.  Sadly everyone has cancelled due to things ranging from “man” flu to heavy workloads.  That is of course with the exception of my hair cut which has been cancelled thanks to a “glitch” with my bank.  Lesson learned – your nana was right when she said to shove some money under your mattress for a rainy day.  My rainy day was brought to you by Westpac. Their non-functioning air-conditioning has somehow muffed up my ability to pretty myself up (yes, I am well aware that I could walk into a branch but that is sooo 1992).

So now I need to fill my day.  Here are my top five idea’s for what to do at work when you have nothing to do.  

1.  Play Sudoku 

I would do this but am yet to figure out how.  I see six year olds playing a game that seems completely beyond me. Onto the next idea number 2…

 2.  Take a nap

It’s fine to do this if you don’t tell anyone. Also, it is considered bad form to do it at your desk if you are surrounded by others. If you are short like me you can just crawl under the desk (and pray that someone has vacuumed recently).  If your tall read tip 3.

3. Do some Yoga! 

Download a nifty app from iTunes and you are on your way to spiritual enlightenment and physical awareness.  Plus if you are tall you will be able to contort yourself into a pretzel thereby fitting under your desk for the next nap time. 

4. Take an online lesson in paper airplane making.  

Make your very own paper airplanes which you can then use to irritate everyone around you.  Who needs email when you can jot a note on paper, fold it into a missile and hurl it at your co-workers?

5. Send someone a love letter

If your married I suggest you send yours to your husband/wife not the random that serves you your morning coffee.  If like me you are single then you can send one to just about anyone! Hmmm who deservers a love letter….

Ok…so none of that was really all that productive and I am a business coach so it would be irresponsible of me not to give you 5 idea’s that might actually be beneficial.

1. Give your brain a work out

Is there something you have been trying to figure out for a while but never really have the time – for me it is understanding how to use a couple of functions in my accounting software.  If you have some spare time teach yourself something new!  

2. Take a break (not a nap)

Take a morning  out to sit in a cafe and plan out the next couple of months.  Have a quick scan over your business plan.  Are you still heading in the right direction?  Do you need to make some adjustments.  

3. Do some Yoga

Yes, I am sticking with this one.  Breath, relax, de stress and refocus.  Take some time for yourself to clear your head while you can.  Make sure you have the correct work/life balance in play.  Before you do have a read of this article on work/life balance, Kristian Reiss from Small Fish gives his two cents worth! 

4.  Learn something new

Hunt around for a webinar on increasing sales or check out some YouTube clips on pimping out your Facebook page!   Got a couple of books on business that you have been meaning to read?  Spend a couple of hours reading, get some new idea’s then plan how you would like to put them into action.  Here is a webinar I know you will love (yes, this is a shameless sales pitch).  

5.  Make contact

Snail mail is such a novel concept now!  There are so many occasions when an email just does not cut the mustard.  Want to thank someone who has done something really special for you?  Send a card!  Want to congratulate someone on a big achievement? Send a card! (not one of those cheesy e-cards either!). 

6. An extra tip for FREE!  

Book a free one hour coaching session with a Small Fish Business Coach.  Think about the last time you spent one hour talking to someone just about you and your business.  Best of all we are not emotionally or financially involved so you can tell us everything – there are not too many people you could do that with.  At the end of your session you will at the very least have some great idea’s to move forward with your business.  

Melanie Miller – Small Fish Business Coach – Gold Coast

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