Thinking of launching a business or product? You’d be surprised how many vital steps get missed by the dreamers and schemers. Think about it: love is blind. When you’re really attached to an idea, maybe even in love with it, there are things you overlook. Unfortunately, these can be pretty big things. So, save yourself time, hassle, and frustration, and do these six things before you invest a ton of time and effort.
- Make sure there’s a market. You may be in love with your idea, but if there’s no market for it, it may be better left in your idea journal. Do some quick market research, ask around, do a Google search for similar products and businesses, and see if people want or need what you have to offer. Doing this upfront can save you a ton of time and money and keep you from investing your resources in something that’s not going to do well.
- Come up with a list of names. The name of your business or product is so important and will set the tone and give a first impression of your business. Choose wisely! We’re in the age of information overload. If your potential customer or consumer can’t glance at the name or see it in passing and know something about what the company or product is or what it does, they’re not going to go out of their way to investigate further. Your name should be easy to understand, convey something relevant, and pique the curiosity. If your name is something completely irrelevant or non-descriptive, even if you think it’s cute or catchy, it’s probably not going to be memorable or effective.
- Google the names you’ve come up with. There are few ‘creative’ and ‘unique’ business names in the home services industry. Whatever your industry, make sure you Google the name ideas you have before falling in love. If you’ve slapped your first name in front of the words “chimney services,” “plumbing services,” etc., you’d better be sure there isn’t a business in your area with a similar business name or you’ll have a whole host of nightmares once your business is launched.
- Check the availability of the domain name. Even if you’re not 100% sure which name you want to go with yet, go to godaddy.com and check the availability of the domain names for each of your ideas. If they’re available, buy them right then and there. If they’re not, scratch the names off your list unless you’re willing to pay top dollar to buy them from someone. Most available domain names cost around $12, and even if you’ve only whittled down your list to five and can’t make up your mind, the cost to buy all five domain names will be a lot less than the cost of wasted hours because you didn’t check the availability of the domain name before you fell in love and started branding.
- Check the availability of the social handles. Almost as important as the availability of the domain name for your new business or product is the availability of the social handles. Go to Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. and make sure the handles for your new business or product idea are available. The last thing you want is to have inconsistency across your social platforms or some impossible to remember or figure out handle, all because you didn’t check to see if the one you wanted was taken on each of the major social platforms.
- Talk with others in your trusted circle. Remember our earlier conclusion: love is blind. When you’re in love with a product or business idea, you may miss things, important things — that’s why it’s a good idea to involve others early and get their input. Different people in different age groups with different perspectives who are less attached to the idea than you are may see things you don’t or think of things you overlook in the excitement. If you bring trusted people in early in the game, it will only save you time and frustration. After all, two heads (or three or four) are better than one.
The year is coming to an end, and it’s time to reflect. It’s time to ask yourself: Do I want next year to be different or do I want more of the same? Do I want to grow or stay at this level? Is there something I’d like to work on that could make me a better leader? Are there classes or certifications that could make us a better company that offers better service? Is there a recurring issue in our company that we need to nip in the bud? Is it time to put systems in place?
Asking these questions and reflecting on the answers can bring enlightenment and awareness, but don’t stop at reflection — commit to the change you want to see. Don’t make a resolution — make a commitment. Don’t decide that you’ll try to do something, decide that you will do something.
We’ve heard the greatest minds say this, including our little green friend, Yoda: “Do or do not. There is no try.” But knowing this doesn’t stop us from pretending, does it? It doesn’t stop us from half-heartedly setting resolutions or goals, without any sincere or thoughtful plan for execution. We do it all the time. We say “I’m going to start eating better.” But do we clean out the fridge and make sure that the house is filled with healthy food options? Or do we keep the bag of Cheetos conveniently within reach and justify ordering pizza “before the coupons expire?” There’s a difference between committing to change and hoping for change.
Intention Vs. Determination: What’s The Difference?
Think of a time when you really wanted to do something; when you felt like you’d just die if you didn’t do it. Did you do it? Now think of all the New Year’s resolutions you’ve made and not kept over the years. There was a difference in your mindset and your level of commitment, wasn’t there? What was the difference? One was a determination, while the other was an intention.
Intention will get you through the easy times, but when things get hard, you need more than that. You need resolve. You need commitment. You need determination. Intention only gets you halfway there. With intention, if it’s easy you may do it; with determination, even if it’s not easy, you’ll do it, or at least give it everything you’ve got. And really, that’s what determines your success: whether you push through in the hard times.
So put some thought and purpose behind 2018. Think about the changes you’d like to make, the goals you’d like to reach, and the things you’d like to accomplish, but personally and professionally — but take it further. Plan how you’re going to get there and put safeguards in place to help you maintain determination and drive when the going gets tough.
Tips To Help You Succeed This Coming Year
Here are some tips as you head into 2018 with intention and commitment:
- Brainstorm and write out some actionable steps you can take to get you closer to your goal. Start small and detailed. Breaking a goal down into actionable steps can take time, but the thought and planning invested up front will pay off greatly over the long run. If you only give yourself big, vague steps, you’ll feel overwhelmed and a bit aimless and unsure of what to do next. Visit this list regularly.
- Tell friends and family about your plans and ask them to hold you accountable and provide encouragement and support. We all need encouragement and a little extra push from time to time, but if no one knows what you’re trying to achieve, no one will be there to provide that support and push when you need it. So, share your vision and your plan. Tell your employees, your family, your friends — someone you know you can count on to provide tough love and hold you to your word.
- Start and end your day with focus and intention. Whether you write it on your bathroom mirror or just take a moment to think about your goal when you first wake up, you need to make sure it’s front and center in your mind at the start and close of your day. Keeping your eyes on the prize will help you stay focused and driven, day in and day out.
- Do it for future you. It may seem kind of silly, but think of the future you when you don’t feel like working towards your goal. Think of, not just reaching your goal, but how that will feel and what it will mean for your life, your family, your employees, and your community. With that in mind, you’ll have an easier time seeing the hard work through.
- Celebrate milestones and successes along the way. Don’t just celebrate when you reach the big goal — celebrate all the little victories, too. Taking the time to reflect on the progress you’ve made and enjoy how far you’ve come will help prevent burnout and give you a real sense of accomplishment that you might otherwise lack. Even if you don’t reach your end goal in the time frame set, if you celebrate all the successes along the way, you’ll see how much closer your hard work is getting you to your goal and have the zeal to keep up the hard work.
Are you ready to get started? An old Chinese Proverb puts it this way: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” There’s no time like the present — get to work! Best wishes for a great year ahead. See you in 2018!
If you read a lot of articles on entrepreneurship and leadership, you likely see this question all the time. The question that’s designed to make YOU question whether or not:
- You have what it takes
- You’re in the right business
- You’re worthy of chasing down this dream of yours
- Your dream is even worth chasing down.
Here’s the question: Do you wake up excited about your business?
If this question triggers your inner critic and self-doubt, you’re not alone. But I’d like to challenge all the “experts” who sit behind their laptops all day (when they’re not working on a new Medium post, biking local trails, or drinking craft beer); those who encourage the rest of us to mistakenly believe that if we aren’t 100% excited, 100% of the time, we’re doing the wrong thing or we’re the wrong ones to do it.
Full disclosure: I’m not a traditional optimist.
The Reality Is…You’re Normal
Any realistic, transparent business owner will tell you that some days are the bees knees and they couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But they’ll also tell you that some days feel like nightmares that end with them lying in bed at night, eyes wide open, stomach in knots, with thoughts of calling it quits.
That’s normal. No matter what you’re doing – whether you’re living your dream and doing exactly what you were made to do or not – you’re going to have good days and bad days. When a day, week, or month kicks your a**, it’s normal to wake up feeling less than thrilled about getting to work. This doesn’t mean you lack passion, talent, or grit (the hottest word in business) – It just means you’re human and you’re in a rough patch.
Ask a Better Question
When you find yourself in the middle of a rough patch and read an article that asks “Do you wake up excited about your business?” it can be anything but inspiring and motivating.
What we really need in these tough times is a different question.
Carter (one of our co-founders) is famous for saying it’s all about the questions we’re asking. Our questions frame our answers. When you’re feeling discouraged, don’t ask yourself the question, “Do I wake up excited about my business?” You already know the answer is, “Not today.” And that’s ok.
Instead, ask yourself, “What can I learn from where I sit right now? What is this part of my journey showing me?” Push it further. Ask yourself, “What needs to change and how can I change it?” And if you don’t know the answer to this, ask yourself, “Why aren’t I excited about my business when I wake up?”
When we ask different questions, we get different answers. And the biggest difference between the question we see plastered across entrepreneurship blogs and the questions above is that the latter encourage learning, growth, and change, while the former encourage stagnation, discouragement, and complacency – the killers of many businesses and business dreams.
So next time you feel like you’re ready to call it quits, don’t buy into the delusion that you’re somehow cut from a different cloth and not qualified or justified in your pursuit – instead, ask better questions and see what you can learn from the bad days and how you can turn it around.
Do you know how much earning potential your business is wasting by not following up after service estimates? Think of a number…think bigger. We’ve heard successful businesses quote six digit figures in unfollowed up services. I don’t care who you are, that’s a lot of money.
So what’s keeping you from following up? Is it the fear of bugging your customers by not taking their silence as a no? Well, you’re making a mistake. The truth is, even if a customer says no, you shouldn’t always think of it as definitive.
Here are just a few reasons a customer may initially turn down a service or ‘ghost’ you after an estimate is provided:
#1 Timing isn’t right. We all want our homes to be as safe, efficient, and attractive as possible – but when it comes to home services, timing is everything. Perhaps your customer had family coming, a baby on the way, or a surgery planned when you provided the estimate for the work, and they simply couldn’t make time to have techs in their home. Life has so many variables, and when you’re providing a service that requires customers to open up their homes to the possibility of people coming in and out, or messes being made, you have to remember that timing is everything.
Does this mean that the service is unwanted? No. Follow up at a later date and you may find that the customer is ready to schedule. If you take their initial inaction as a sign that they aren’t interested in having the service performed, you won’t reach out to them when the timing is right.
#2 Priorities aren’t favorable. As a homeowner, you want everything to be perfect NOW. But sometimes that’s not possible. Sometimes you have to prioritize the services you want done and the projects you want to take on so that perfecting your home is manageable.
Is it possible that when you provided the estimate for the service, your customer was getting estimates for other services as well? Is it possible they had an internal priority list and your service simply didn’t make it to the top? Reach out to them. If you don’t keep the service at the forefront of their mind, it may continue to fall below other home improvement priorities. You don’t have to be pushy – just reach out!
#3 Finances aren’t right. Did you ever want something that you just couldn’t swing financially? Of course you have! We all have! Sometimes it’s the same for your customers. They know they need the service, they want the service, but they just can’t make it happen within their budget at the present moment. But finances change. Just because they can’t swing it today doesn’t mean they can’t swing it a few months from now. Recognize that finances play a big part in our choices and keep in touch with your customer. Everything may align with your next customer touch. But if you aren’t following up, you’ll never know.
#4 The service was unplanned. Did an inspection reveal the need for some major repairs? There’s a good chance your customer wasn’t prepared for that news and just couldn’t manage it at the time. This is an example of when the service denial may have been a combination of timing, priorities, and finances. If the need for repairs came as a surprise, you have to allow your customer time to figure out when timing and finances may be favorable, and where on their list of priorities the service may lie. Give them a little space and then reach out.
#5 They forgot. Life can get pretty crazy sometimes, and it’s easy for some things to slip between the cracks or get forgotten. So if you haven’t heard from a customer after providing an estimate, don’t assume they’re not interested. They may simply have forgotten to reach back out to you to schedule the job. By following up until you get a yes or a no, you’ll prevent customers from letting a little forgetfulness keep them from getting the great service you offer.
Take Time To Follow Up – Who Knows What You’ll Learn
Are you following up on service estimates? Make it a regular part of your sales process. At the very least, you’ll get an idea of why your customers aren’t scheduling, which may help you improve your business.
Looking for a seamless follow-up process that makes it easy and effortless for you to cash in on open estimates? Check out Closing Commander.
Every day, we encounter problems and hiccups that cause annoyance and stress. Even the most minute and trivial problem can decrease joy when repeated and multiplied – especially when you’re having “one of those days.”
Take your phone, for example. Have you ever had an app shut down on you while you were in the middle of doing something? What about the view flipping between landscape and portrait while you’re trying to show someone a photo you took? Or what about when you’re too fast for your unlock passcode and think your phone has registered four numbers when it’s only registered three? These are little, meaningless annoyances – #FirstWorldProblems in the grand scheme of things. But when you’re having a bad day, every one of these can be the “last straw.”
What if you could put a stop to all of those little annoyances? As small as they are, wouldn’t that make you just a tinge less stressed and more content? Of course it would. And the same goes for your customers. What may seem like a seemingly small problem or annoyance can compound into major frustration for your customers. And when you, as a company, are committed to pinpointing those little problems and hiccups in relation to your services and eliminating them for a more seamless and pleasant customer experience, you have the power to reduce the stress levels and boost the contentment levels of your customers. You have the power to create a more pleasant customer experience and keep the association positive and stress-free.
And in many cases, eliminating those little problems is easy. But you can’t eradicate what you can’t see – and you can’t see what you aren’t looking for. Are you looking? Here are a few tips to help you identify where you can eliminate little annoyances and make your customers’ experiences and lives just a little bit better…
Read into reviews and feedback. Feedback and reviews aren’t just for other customers – they’re for you! Really analyze what your customer liked about the experience and what they didn’t like about the experience. Sometimes the wording used and the things your customer chooses to mention or leave out can reveal so much. Pro tip: look for the big “but” in each review. What follows will usually let you know where the customer felt discomfort, stress, or disappointment.
Ask your customers, family, and friends. I know it’s crazy, but have you considered asking your customers and others in your life what little problems or hiccups in service reduced their overall satisfaction? Maybe they found it annoying that the service provider didn’t ask before using their restroom. Maybe it bothered them that no one mentioned the service charge when the appointment was made. These are things that, as the business owner, you may not think about. Asking those on the customer side of things can reveal what’s hidden to you, but obvious to the customer.
Hire your own company or another company to perform the service in your home. If you can be objective, take things a step further and actually spend some time in the customer’s shoes. Hire your own company or another company to come out and do a job in your home. The perk of hiring your own company is that you’ll get a true idea of what type of experience your customers are having, given that the techs really do treat you just like a normal customer. The perk of hiring another company is that you’ll see what they do better or worse than you, which may open your eyes to opportunities to improve and surpass their level of service.
Read the reviews of your competitors. So many business owners are obsessed with their competitors, but they don’t take the time to really use their competitors for their own growth. When you read your competitors’ reviews, you can see what their customers liked and disliked about their experience. Use that to better your business. After all, you don’t have to be the best, you just have to be better. So look for where your competitors are succeeding and failing and use that knowledge to improve your business and win over new customers.
You have a lot more power than you may think. So don’t just perform a service – improve your customers’ lives, every little way you can.