Tag Archives: Business
Globe and Covid19

Starting a business (and keep running it) is hard work. I mean hard! But it is all worth the time, money, and effort invested in the end for those who have a passion, a plan, and a reliable support system. It’s going to be a rollercoaster ride, though. Between the rewarding highs of seeing the spark of interest in a student’s eyes or the genuinely thankful client, you were able to help. Then, there are the lows of the stress and responsibilities that come with being an entrepreneur, and you might wonder if you did the right thing or if you are going to make it. But the freedom to focus your energy on what you have most at heart allows you to grow, live for your purpose and live from it too!

It requires a lot of discipline, physical and mental fitness, and friends who will not leave you if you have not been in touch for more than a week. You need a life partner and family who is entirely behind your decision, and you need to be prepared to work harder than ever. After almost ten years of building and running an offline and online business with freelancers in different locations and a diverse client base, I consider myself a pro.

A few years ago, the business drained of resources, savings used up, and I had invested in two additional courses. 

I was ready to give up and get a full-time job.

I even had said “yes” to a full-time job offer. But then “fate” kicked in. In a very relaxed moment during our first RockMeRetreat, I knew the answer was a clear “No.” 

I was not ready to start a full-time job in a leadership role again, where I would spend all my energy on maneuvering politics, playing the game, coaching a team, and sitting at a desk for more than six hours a day.

Yes, I was very disappointed when the company told me that they wanted to hire somebody else. I was down and scared, but at the same time, I was relieved. And I knew this feeling. It was the freedom smell. 

Deep down inside, you know that you will always fall back on your feet and have all the skills within you to make a living. 

This post is not a pep talk on how we should leap out of our comfort zone and fight for survival daily because this adrenaline level is not suitable in the long run. We only need this kind of adrenaline in an actual emergency during a tornado or a Coronavirus pandemic but not every day for years on end. 

A job is great. A paycheck is wonderful. A sick day is sensational. A sponsored coffee is amazing. A paid holiday is fantastic. A burnout isn’t. 

You probably wonder how you keep the energy drainers out of your work environment, and my advice about this is a simple one: Focus on your well-being first. Focus on that as long as you need, stop eating junk food, walk regularly, stop working after six hours and change your routine to fit your life. Most of the issues we have at work come from our fear of not being enough. We overcompensate. You might think that you need to achieve that next level, subsequent promotion, or next salary band. Then you will have a wonderful life. But let me be honest with you: There is a price you pay for that. And this price might not be what you are looking for right now.

I am in favor of abandoning many of the typical HR systems. Let us give our people the benefit of the doubt again and help them find their intrinsic motivation. We should help them work in projects where they can thrive, help them develop client relationships they will find engaging, and above all, we should change lives. Passion is a better driver than security for entrepreneurs as employees. 

And if you doubt now how you can help your team get to that level, we should have a conversation. I would say that first of all: Everybody still has a ton to learn in this world. 

Understanding that we are always learning is the first step towards growth. Many people, especially women, need help to find the confidence to move ahead. In Switzerland, many women grew up in a male-dominated environment where they learned to work more than their peers to be recognized, and when they tried to move up the ladder and had to show their teeth.

Then a manager told them that they were too aggressive and too pushy. They started to have self-doubts and fell into a complacent state where moving up was no longer an option. I know many excellent women, but they neither sell themselves nor get enough credit for their work. They run departments silently in the background, while a male colleague gets the bonus and the honors. 

I committed last year to help more people outside of the “circle of trust.” My team and I started helping more diverse women. We worked with women in and from developing countries, women with more seniority, and women from minority backgrounds. 

Whatever their backgrounds, women with young children also face obstacles and prejudice in the labor market. Managers often assume they will miss work when their children are sick or that they will leave early. 

As an HR Professional, I’m ashamed to say that, but we diligently exclude certain people from the workforce here in Switzerland, depriving them of the fundamental right to work. It’s not always intentional, but we cannot always blame unconscious bias for our decisions. Some companies forgo excellent candidates because the humans who make up that company cannot move beyond their prejudice about women (even more so if they come from developing countries, have young children, have gaps in their resume, or are LGBTQ+, or disabled). 

It is frequent for people with a refugee background who cannot produce the required papers and certificates for specific jobs to face many challenges when accessing the job market. People suffering from mental health problems such as depression and talents who might be on the autism spectrum or have schizophrenia face numerous barriers when searching for a job. 

We might not be able to create a significant groundswell today and start a revolution, BUT we can change lives, one person at a time. Join us in our mission. We’re on a mission to bring the Human Touch back into Global Mobility.

Kind regards

Angie

 

P.S. 

Do you work in Human Resources or a closely related area? I’m giving away VIP passes to the HRMSummit in Bahrain. It’s an online event and geared towards HR professionals. Respond VIP to enter our raffle. We need to have your professional email address, professional title and employer in order to forward your details to the organizers.

Even though I started to prepare the steps needed for launching my business back in 2010 it still took me about two years until I dared to jump ship and leave my well-paid manager job at a large professional services firm and a long-term career in International Human Resources. Quite frankly, my ego was boosted by my work and starting a company you need to have a lot of self-confidence because you might lose everything: Money, status, your partner, sleep and a lot of your beliefs.

What no one tells you when you start out is how long it actually takes to be sustainable. I heard rumors but I did not believe everything. Also, I might have approached my business development from the wrong angle. I am not the cold-calling type and I am not the email marketer. When I look at writers or marketers from the US I see how they offer their services and I know now that I still have a lot to learn.

What I would like to tell you is that you will eventually get rewarded and you will eventually have a better life altogether but you need to be persistent, patient and pragmatic.

What I wish someone had told me in 2012:

1) Prioritize your clients. Use 70% of your time for delivering an outstanding product or excellent service to your clients. 20% of your time you should network with current and future clients, 10% you need to do accounting, marketing and other business development work.

2) Build and maintain your network. In the beginning work with your personal contacts before you start traditional business development.

3) Analyze your niche. Understand your competitors, their products or services and price structures. Define your ideal costumer. Focus on where you stand out.

4) Market, market and market. Spend time and money for Marketing, especially in a professional website. If you have zero money but time start with Social Media. Facebook still creates attention. Know where your ideal clients hang out. It might be LinkedIn, Pinterest or Twitter. Go there.

5) Get the basics right. I know too many business owners who have never made a business plan. If you do not know the meaning of cash flow and break even your work is a hobby not a business. Cash flow is a constant challenge in the first two years so learn to manage your invoices and hire an accountant. >> Work with your business plan.

Angela Weinberger

 

6) Limit your financial risk. Start with a limited financial risk by opening a limited liability company. If you want to sell handmade socks you might not need to do that but in general it is better to protect your personal assets. Most business advisors will tell you that you need to be able to survive the first year without income. Check as of when you need to do a proper annual statement.

7) Learn everything about running a business. Work in all areas of a business from Accounting to Social Media Marketing. Then when you have done it once you can outsource the areas you have no passion or patience for. Study all the time. Challenge yourself by asking yourself questions outside of your comfort zone.

8) Find your strategic “friends” in the market and build partnerships. Build strategic friendships with business owners you like and who support and motivate you. Find likeminded peers and use each other as a support group.

9) Plan what you give in exchange for “favors”. Offer time exchange and internships if you cannot afford to hire someone. Respect other people’s time commitment and aim for balance between giving and taking. Give more and go the extra mile.

10) Enjoy your profession and build your life around your business. Get a cleaning person and other support for your household, childcare, shopping because this will give you more freedom to focus on your profession. I try to shop online only (but I regularly buy my groceries in the neighborhood). I had to minimize expenses but I love to buy gadgets that are tools for my work.

#1 Psychologise* your Price

Price in the professional services industry is nothing else than a value we give to an experience. I have already mentioned that when we spend there are pain points (like repairing the car) and there are pleasure points (like a manicure). Sometimes spending money on an experience that gives us a good feeling about ourselves or improves our general well-being feels like a treat. You probably feel great when you can buy a bottle of champagne on a weekend trip or book a wellness spa instead of an ordinary hotel. Today we slave away so we can have more luxury in our lives. We are normally way beyond the basic needs of the Maslow pyramid.

But wait. You are an entrepreneur. You just started your business a year ago? You still can’t pay the bills? You still depend financially on your spouse, your parents or in-laws or the state? Well that’s normal but remember: You are not your clients. You have to separate your sense of worth from your clients. Usually we serve clients in a higher income bracket than us. We solve an issue that they cannot or do not want to solve themselves because either they are too busy with other stuff or they have enough money to buy your services so they can have more free time to play golf, hang out with their children or go on spa weekends to de-stress.

#2 Create your Client

So, before you even think about service packages and pricing create your clients. Imagine you can decide how your client functions. Understand what bothers them. Understand how they would love to spend their time. Understand what their pain and pleasure points are. Keep an inventory. (I run a regular list of the 10 most annoying items when moving to Switzerland and one of the 10 most cherished items. These lists are discussed in trainings. Most participants instantly get it, some don’t. I prefer to work with the ones who connect. I also prefer to work with clients who get my humour BTW.)

#3 Target the Threshold

For some reason it is always easier to pay an amount that is slightly lower than the next bigger amount (even though the price might be ridiculously high in the first place). For example I accept to pay CHF 95 for a manicure but if it was CHF 100 I would not buy this service anymore. So target the next big number but then stay slightly below. Obviously you should do market research and find out what competitors are charging for similar services but your clients normally don’t just come to you because of your price. Often it is a mixture of trustworthiness, competence that you are eluding, recommendation and good reputation. If your service was interchangeable they would get it online for free.

#4 Package the Pain

The pain is in the beginning. In the meantime I prefer to pay for packaged deals. Slowly I am introducing this idea to my clients as well. For you it means: Less minute-counting, less invoices, less hassle and better cash flow (if you can agree advance payments). BUT for your client: It means that they have the pain once and then for a long time they feel good and enjoy your service. J

#5 Reduce the Rebate

In the beginning of our business we tend to work with a small group of people we already know. We give them better prices than our usual clients. While it is natural that you want to give a favourable rates to your family members and their friends consider the impact this will have on your annual turnover. Over time you need to reduce those rebates and freebies. I prefer to work pro-bono once in a while and clearly call it charity to having clients that cannot afford me. Also, if you feel insecure about your own performance or if you test a new service you can run a pilot and ask people to spend their time giving you important feedback and suggestions in exchange for a free ride. Make sure that you always communicate the real price value of a free service. If you get squeezed by clients let them know on the invoice which services you provided in addition to what you got paid for. (Don’t let them squeeze you all the time though.)

 

Task: How will you create a good pricing model for your business?

 

*I do not think “psychologise” is a commonly used verb but this is actually what you need to do.

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?