Tag Archives: entrepreneur

When you start your own business you have a lot of roles: You are everyone: From your own PA to the cleaner to the expert and business development manager. You need to learn about marketing, leads, work with new tools and you neglect your personal life. Those of us who thought they will have a better work-life balance when starting their own business either have another source of income or inherited millions from their parents OR they are not making enough money. They might get by but they are not saving for retirement nor do they spend money like employed professionals.

There will be a time however, when either you go bankrupt or you finally see the traction in your business, where you finally feel like all your efforts were worth it and you are suddenly making a lot of money. (For everyone the definition of “a lot of money” is different but in the context of Switzerland I would say if you reach a turnover beyond 100’000 CHF per year that’s already pretty good.)

In the last few years I have been building up a business and believe me there were many occasions when I wanted to give up and get back into a regular employment again. I have a secret to share: I only got this far because a) I had a financial reserve to cover my normal living expenses and b) whenever I had a “crisis” I spoke to a coach.

Most of my business issues were and still are internal issues. Once I “cleaned up” my inner house, I got a chance to work on the inner garden and enjoy the sunshine.  I might still be in this process but I would say that the sun shines a lot more often now.

I feel like a CEO* when:

  1. I am in control of all aspects of my business,
  2. I have a good team behind me that delivers continuous results,
  3. We have a trusted cooperation with our clients and they are happy to come back to us,
  4. I can afford to pay myself a regular salary as the Managing Director, which pays my rent, insurances, bills and groceries.
  5. My diary is rather full but at the same time I have the freedom to block a full day for creative retreats in the mountains or a business strategy meeting in Goa.

What do you do to make yourself feel like a CEO?

Do you have any CEO rituals you’d like to share?

 

Have a powerful week,

 

Angie

 

*PS: In Switzerland the Managing Director of a Ltd. is not called CEO. It would give the wrong impression if I called myself CEO.

 

Powerbreakfast #1

In March I had the honor to talk to a group of highly motivated female entrepreneurs at the #Powerbreakfast of the Powerhouse Zurich (Follow @Powerhouse_ZRH).

A key quote they selected was “Your Mood defines your Business”.  I know that mood can be influenced and as an intercultural executive coach I help you to reach a state of “relaxed attention” from where you can follow through your plans while at the same time keeping your energy level. However, being an entrepreneur I can tell you that I also sometimes fall out of my state of relaxed attention into either creative-overengaged–workaholic or phlegmatic-I-cannot-deal-with-all-of-this-at-the-same-time (staring into the empty space as if I was looking at someone). 

I had to accept as a manager, leader and business owner that there will be times when I am losing it.

Did you ever feel like you lost the overview, lost the focus or lost yourself?

Usually this is the time where I consult either my male coach or my female coach (depending on what I need). No, you are not calling your father or your mother, because honestly when you are beyond 40 you deal with this sh** professionally. And then once you paid your 350 CHF per coaching session and worked out your limiting beliefs and a few not-very-helpful-behaviors you get back on track. And then (whoo-hoo) success flies at you at rocket speed. (It’s true…after every crisis my business takes a leap).

In my talk on 5 March 2015 I went through nine rules I have developed over the last three years of running my business Global People Transitions GmbH.

They have been kindly summarized by Mirka Schaller in this one-pager. Let me know if you have questions.

 

Powerbreakfast #2

GPTSocialMediaGuest Post by Nabeha Latif

People often don’t understand what I do when I say I am social media engagement specialist. They think that it is only about posting on Facebook and Twitter but why will anyone need to hire someone to do that? What type of job is it?

Let’s explore what is social media to business and why is it important for success in this age. Guess what business owners are using right now to connect with clients? Yup. Social media!

When we googled the question “Will social media help me?” we were greeted with 1.6 billion suggestions. Had we added the word ‘business’ to it, they would still be few millions. Many of those will be repeating the same thing. Still it’s clear that getting started on social media is a question that business owners are looking for an answer to. Facebook campaigns, blog posts, news articles, corporate videos and more – again, everyone is looking to find the right way to do the social media.

What is the secret ingredient?

If you ask me, the secret is simple: You might want to start right away just like everything else that you do in your business. It is helpful to have a plan with measurable milestones and results. I was always amused by the idea of connecting with so many people virtually. I got more and more interested, every time I explored a new aspect of social media. I have a hobby to try new networks which I come across, just to study new ways of spreading virtual messages. Not kidding! Now being a social media engagement specialist, I know it’s not a myth or exaggeration that your social presence online is a representative of your company.

It was a challenge for me to make others understand that posting JUST anything on social media isn’t social media marketing.   You need to be specific to attract right kind of people. You can’t afford to say ‘what’s in your mind’ without thinking. It should be what others want to read because people will judge you accordingly!

Step 1: Why should your business want to be on Social Media? > Define your Social Media purpose

From having discussions with clients to monitoring conversations online, the overarching theme that prevents businesses from using social media is lack of understanding about why they NEED to be here! The typical responses we get include, “Our competitors are here,” “Because everyone’s talking about it”, “We want to be on everywhere.” The problem is that they fail to dig deep into bigger questions they need to answer:

  • What are your competitors doing on social media?
  • How can you differentiate yourself from the competitors with social media?
  • Will you be able to identify impact it will be have on your business?
  • Will you measure increased awareness, number of new leads through social media, heightened participation of potential clients and will you find out if it changes your bottom line?
  • Are you reaching your target audience?
  • Have you identified who that is?
  • Will you enjoy working with social media or is it just an extra chore for you?

Being able to answer these will allow you to move to next step.

Step 2: Where do you need to be? > Determine your Social Media channels

There are literally hundreds of social networks online along with power hitters Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. Not to forget the forums, niche networks, community blog networks and more. No wonder so many businesses have trouble spotting the right path.

  • Define your market segment – Where is your target market in social networks? Are the business professionals on LinkedIn or every day users on Facebook?
  • Who do you want to be connected with? – Unless you are selling coke or pampers, you don’t need mass audience! Be specific. The closer you stick with your offerings, the fewer followers you will attract. But they will be delighted to connect with you.
  • Stick with maximum 3 to 4 networks – Work only with a number of networks than you can consistently maintain. Only if you can add meaningful content publish your business page on that network.

Step 3: How do you measure success= > Map out goals and success metrics

Try to define your goals and measure the success of your social media use. What do you want to achieve out of it? Quantitatively measure your efforts in terms of Likes/Follower growth or increase in frequency of engagement or brand mentions or amount of content to be shared etc.

  • Set up a calendar – Set up a social media calendar and break it down into results pattern like monthly, quarterly, biannually, annually .
  • Analyse results periodically – Study the difference in website traffic. Does traffic increase and which channels bring more traffic. Google Analytics will do the job!
  • Determine acceptable growth vs. ideal growth – Compare if you are at least reaching the former i.e. minimum growth you expected to achieve through social media. And how far behind are you lagging from ideal growth? An indicator could be your turnover that is generated through Social Media or leads you receive through referrals on Social Media (email does not count!).
  • Analyse the cost of implementation – Compare cost of implementation to the expected return (increased customer loyalty, word of mouth marketing, brand perception)

Remember content is the key! Stand out from the crowd through your content.

What is your greatest challenge when it comes to Social Media Marketing for your business?

 

 

 

 

...you need to have built trust to your clients before you launch new ideas.
…you need to have built trust to your clients before you launch new ideas.

As a business owner you have a lot of chores and tasks but your main task is to fulfill the needs of your clients. What frustrates me is when my bank, my supermarket or my other service providers do not seem to “get” what I need. What frustrates me even more is when I give feedback that they are just defending the status quo. When I invite them to have a conversation with me they do not listen…

But ACHTUNG: As entrepreneurs we might fall into the same trap.

We are often convinced that what we do is relevant and helpful for our clients. A few of our clients will not be 100% satisfied because we fail to notice the signs that scream “Hello, you are not giving me what I need.” Sometimes they simply had different expectations.

When is an idea ready to be launched?

When you are planning to launch your business for the first time or you are planning to launch a new service or product you might want to get together a small group of clients to “pilot” the service or product.

What type of relationship do you have to have to your potential clients?

Before you invite your clients to “pay” for anything you need to have built your credibility and a relationship of trust.

Why is it so hard to spend time and money on a course?

I know from my own experience that even though I would like to participate in a lot of courses the decision about spending time and money on learning and growing is often not a priority when we have to pay rent, food, children’s needs. Think of how much you would be willing to pay and under which circumstances. What would you need to go through or suffer from before you spend money on your own learning or a service? (It is a different story when your employer pays for it.)

What is a good price?

Price is a hot potato. You cannot undersell your service because you are running a business but at the same time you need to make it easy for your client to spend the money for what you offer. It needs to be reasonable but a no-brainer.

Global Mai 13 _071
Price can be a hot potato.

How well do you know your target market?

In order to judge what price is right you need to know your target market and their spending habits well. One example: I am happy to spend 100 CHF on a good manicure or a good wellness massage but I am not happy to pay 100 CHF for a credit card or to get my car repaired. Some expenses we are very happy to have as they make us “feel good”. Others just seem to be random and a waste of our financial resources. You get the idea?

How is Marketing related to this?

A secret of Marketing seems to be that it makes us “feel good” about the expenses that we do not necessarily want to have. You find tons of videos on youtube where Marketers will explain how they “sell” us a negative and convert it into a positive.

My advice is that you speak a lot to your clients in person and always have a pilot before you launch a product or service. Let me know what your experience is.

Don't believe everything they tell you online.
Don’t believe everything they tell you online.

Confession #2: I will never forget the shame and embarrassment when I had to collect my first ever payment summons from the “Betreibungsamt” (collection office).

You have to know that I am trying to be a “good” person in the roman-catholic sense of the word. I often disappoint myself. While I am doing a lot of the right work, serve my clients, help them improve their lives and run my own “charity” on the side, I sometimes get lost and slightly over-confident.

I tend to overspend. I learnt this the hard way. I never, ever in my life was really short of money. My life was always filled with luxury as long as I had a corporate role. Since I started my own business being short of money is the default.

I reached a point in year 2 of my business where I thought I had to “discipline” myself and ensure that all my expenditure is paid out of the income of my business account. In an effort to have it all I invested more than planned in office style and running costs. Some of my clients (large multinationals) suddenly adopted a policy of paying small business owners like me as late as possible and I had hired a few part-time consultant to work on “non-billable” work (so that I make faster progress on my work).

The cash slowdown and moments of Shame with a capital S

I ended up in this bottleneck of cash slowdown. (You have probably only heard of cash flow…so imagine a roaring, wild winter river that suddenly becomes a small trickle of water in a hot summer. Yes. That’s cash slowdown).

Do you feel embarrassed as a business owner? You do not have money to buy new clothes, you do not have money to go to the hairdresser? You avoid doctor appointments as your health insurance won’t cover those standard procedures? You have cut down on presents for your children, nephews and parents?

I know, it’s sad. You feel you need to justify and they look at you and ask “Why did you quit your job?”

I live in one of the most expensive cities in the world and my monthly rent is the same as the money I make running a four months career coaching programme. I work with dedication but I never seem to make “enough” and my pride forbids that I am asking husband or mother or friends (Oh the horror) for support. So I struggle on.. .

We do not like to hear these stories because the Internet is full of “success” stories. I believe though that people do not learn anything from success. We learn from failure. I never want to feel ashamed like this again. So I need to find a way to be able to pay my bills on time even if my clients are late with their payments. I can accept a certain level of embarrassment but there is a line. This line I will define for the future. As a business owner you need to juggle many balls.

  • You will face embarrassing situations.
  • You have to negotiate for good solutions.
  • You will work for “free” to win a client’s heart.
  • You will “volunteer” even though you do not have enough money to pay your rent.
  • You will meet potential clients for lunch or a coffee even if you cannot get cash from the bank machine.
  • You will stretch the limit of your credit card and get into a fight with your bank.
  • You will get angry and close your account and move to a different bank.
  • You will spend more time managing invoices than you ever did in your life.
  • You will pay an accountant more money than you can make in month just to make sure that you are not breaking a law.

Face it: That’s what it’s like to run a business (in the real world).

It’s part of the process. It’s also part of being a “good person”. It’s a part of growing up, of taking charge, of being independent and free.

You might think now: “I am not made for this.” And many people will tell you 1001 other reasons why you should not start a business and quit your well-paid corporate job for it. I tell you though that all the embarrassment is worth it. Freedom has a price. The price is that you will have moments of shame, moments of tears and moments of anger. What you win though is worth more than money can ever buy: You are free. You are creative. You change other people’s lives. You can spend time with your loved ones. You will have a smile on your face when you “go to work.”