Archives for February 2014

You are allowed to make a profit

English: PROFIT systemI have had my share of run-ins with very large service and utility providers, but we do have to recognise that like all businesses they need to make a profit for their owners and shareholders, and to have money to reinvest into their trade. In the course of some more energy company bashing we hear that their newly announced annual profits represent 5% of turnover. That seems quite modest really.

In a small business and especially in a professional environment, only 5% profit on turnover is not going to be enough unless we have a huge turnover. That is going to be difficult unless we have had a brilliant new idea in the way of say a product for drop-shipping. However, in the real world we have to sell on the value of what we provide and have our customer buy in to what we are giving them.

Do not let your prospects drive you down. Get them to commit to you as much as you commit to them to provide a great service. We all have to live and if we are not making a good profit out of each client we are wasting time and resources which could be used to make a much more profitable customer very happy.

Do not under-sell yourself and your business and never be afraid to turn a poor prospect away. You are allowed to make a good profit.

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Petty dictators

I remember when I was an employee working for a boss who was always right, even when he was wrong. There was no reasoning with him. We underlings were not allowed to have an opinion as to how things might be done better. We had to follow orders. It was no way to work, so of course staff turnover was high. The business suffered because of this and also because all suggestions made for improving the way business was done were ignored. Petty dictators are control freaks.

As independent business owners we should not be surprised that such petty dictators are hard to sell ideas to. After all, they are convinced they know better than us what is good for their business. They know more about web design than my cleverest designer friends. They know more about tax than I do; at least that is what they think.

Of course we may find out that we have clients who think they know best. From our point of view, we can let this ride unless they think they know better our value to them, and their idea is lower. In that case there may be a parting of the ways because we should never be intimidated. We cannot afford it.

Just because our client is a petty dictator does not mean we should not offer advice. After all, it is up to them whether they take it. We just have to remember that some people never listen.

Do you know any petty dictators?

Small business and stress

It does not matter where it comes from. Stress is bad for you. Whether you do not organise your business so that you do not have to work all hours of the day, or whether you have family problems or people are simply being nasty to you, stress will cause you trouble.

If you are stressed

  • You tire more easily
  • You probably cannot sleep well without taking pills
  • You have difficulty concentrating on business
  • You are liable to make bad decisions or you cannot make decisions at all

So how should you deal with your stress?

  • Perhaps you should ask a business friend to suggest how you should use your work time in a better way.
  • Go out for a walk for up to an hour every day – I do, come rain or shine.
  • Get a hobby or a distraction from thinking about work for your spare time – I am photography mad.
  • Read a good book.

No, I know it is not easy. I cannot make out that life is that simple. Just the same, useful relaxing distractions combined with a little help from your friends can help relieve your stress and show your path more clearly.

How do you cope with stress?

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Falling down


Looking towards Shoeburyness

Looking towards Shoeburyness (Photo credit: Jon Stow)

I fell over the other day. I do not make a habit of it and I was rather surprised. My first reaction after finding myself on the ground was to check for damage. Because it was a cold windy day, I was wearing several layers of clothing. I reviewed my body and limbs and concluded I had got away with it, and without even a bruise. I was lucky.

The next stage in the process was to review why I had fallen down. In this case, it was because I was looking too far ahead (out to sea) and was not concentrating on what was in front of me. There were two steps down where I had been walking, and I missed them.

The third stage was to get up, which I did. The whole process took less than a minute. I noted to myself that I should be more careful.

All this got me to thinking about my business. Things have not always gone well. I do believe we should all have a dream as to how our business should be, and to remember it. That is looking far ahead, or perhaps not so far, but if we think only of that we will not see what is right in front of us.

Maybe our marketing stops working. Perhaps we have clients who pay us late and we are endangered by lack of cash flow. It might even be that we should have anticipated that our business client would become insolvent.

Perhaps we have allowed one customer to make up the lion’s share of our business, and now on a whim they go elsewhere. There are all sorts of accidents. If we do not look our businesses may fall down. Often we can get up and learn, but not always.

We have to keep our eye on the ball. We need to be aware what is going on around us. Our goal is there for us to aim and our dream is attainable. We just need to dodge those obstacles, avoid tripping and do our best not to fall down.

Have you stumbled? What did you do?


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