Monday, February 23, 2009


Do you know what you will be doing five years from now? That was a question I was asked this week, and it was one I found difficult to answer. Not because I don’t have goals or a vision of what I want to achieve, but more that five years is a LONG way out.

In today’s economic unrest, we don’t know what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, let alone five years down the road. When I worked in the non-profit sector, we actually stopped doing five year- strategic plans, because with swings in funding priorities, who knew what the future would bring. It seemed like a wasted exercise, so instead we focused more on the short term – often planning one to three years out.

But there is another reason that I think it is a mistake to plan too far ahead – it can make you too locked into what is down on paper, and you could lose the ability to be nimble when an opportunity arises. To me, it is more important that you are clear on your mission, your focus and target audience – because then you are less likely to get pulled off track.

Now don’t get me wrong, I have operational plans and I’ve found putting my goals down on paper, makes it more likely that I will achieve them. It’s like setting off on a road trip, you are more likely to reach your destination if you’ve set out knowing which direction you are headed.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Cold Calling

Do you like cold calling? No? Well, you’re not alone. It’s not easy to contact a stranger to sell yourself and your product.

However, as Theresa Syer of Syer Hospitality Group pointed out at our workshop last week , if you’ve done your homework, drilled down to who you should contact and researched to see if you have a contact in common – it doesn’t have to be so intimidating.

Her first piece of advice is to make the calls at your best time of the day – no point in making the call when your energy level is low. You need to block of time for prospecting every day, she suggests, and plan your list of questions to uncover future opportunities.

Listen for opportunities within their answers so you can refine your questioning based on their specific information. And don’t jump in if your prospect doesn’t answer immediately. All too often we can’t stand the silence, and leap in, instead of waiting for an answer, she observed.

By the time Theresa finished running through her ten steps to finding new customers it struck me that sometimes we miss the obvious – like asking for referrals. There was much discussion about social networks, but that is clearly a topic for another day.

As Theresa emphasized, develop a positive attitude and persistence. Without regular prospecting, you run the risk of your revenue sources running dry. To learn more, you can always check out our upcoming teleclass on building your customer base.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Tough Decisions

Do you have pets? As many of you know, we have two dogs who come to work with me every day.

Last week we faced a tough decision – Sophie, the younger dog, was sick and we either went with expensive surgery which may or may not work, or we put her down.

As we weighed up the odds, it struck me that this type of decision is somewhat like the ones being faced by business owners across Canada. Do we let staff go or do keep everyone on and run the risk of not making it? Do we close down one office in order to save the rest? Business owners have to do the math, weigh up the pros and cons of their decision, and in some cases may well decide to cut their losses, and close their business.

It’s not easy. I always remember Cora – of Cora’s Breakfast and Lunch, telling us that she made decisions with “her head and heart” sitting side by side on the sofa. Good advice.

What did we decide? Well, the heart won over the head and next week she goes for surgery. At the end of the day, we decided that we owed her that, and if it doesn’t work, we know we’ve done our best by her.