Posts in ‘Entrepreneurship’

6 Ways to get Your Customers Saying – Please take my Money!

by Himanshu Jhamb on December 10, 2012

Right. You don’t hear that very often. In fact, you probably don’t even think it! In fact, the reverse is usually what we hear – in stories, from our friends, from our colleagues and pretty much every where from customers.

“Please don’t take my money”

“It was not worth it”

“It’s too expensive”

… and many variants of the above.

But, this post is about great customer service. No, wait! It’s about excellent customer service.

I was recently in Peru with my better half and it was the first time I had set foot in the continent of South America – different people, different language, different food – everything was different and yes, being that it was a self planned trip, the “different” was expected. We had planned to be in Lima for a couple of days and like typical tourists, were looking to do the touristy things – experience the food, the people, visit the historical landmarks ‘et al. Yet, at the same time, we wanted to do something that would give us a taste of Peru; something the locals would do. And that happened on our 2nd day when we met a local couple – Sam & Lucas. OK, it was no accident that we met them; they run a culinary tour company, called Capital Culinaria Lima Gourmet Tours and I found them from their almost perfect TripAdvisor reviews.

It’s true that there are many lessons in business one can learn from others, only if we observe them. And observe I did  and here is what I learnt about great customer service:

  • Make a promise… and then keep It. They promised on the experience (which, I believe is what the adventurous traveler seeks the most) and then delivered on it… multiple times over in the tour.
  • Listen. And get to know your customer. Their tours are designed to listen to the customer. For instance, they do not take more than 6 people at one time so that they can create the space to listen to the customer.
  • Give Personal Attention. Lots of it. Well, there is no dearth of that given that they run quite a few tours themselves and I am sure the ones they are not able to, are no less personal!
  • Run Smooth Operations. Given that it’s a 5-6 hour culinary tour, it can be a bit of a tricky proposition to time 3-6 touristy stomachs for that time! Also, since they visit quite a few establishments in the tour – the timing needs to be exquisite with the local providers, too.
  • Be Nimble. They are immensely flexible. Even though they hit an issue in the morning and had to quickly readjust plans – Lucas was right on time to pick us up.
  • Win the Customer. Yes, with the great stories (they have a fantastic entrepreneurial story on how they started off), the mouth watering cuisine, and (ahem) the fabulous Pisco – it is a sure shot recipe to win the customer.

To be brutally honest, they had won me over as a customer half way through the tour. The rest of the time, they were just winning a friend! Now, how do you put a price on something like that…

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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We, at Active Garage had run this promotion for the free eBook earlier in the year and we are running this again, now. If you find yourself wondering that if the eBook has been available for free download since then, why are we saying we are “running the promotion again”? Valid point.

Here’s why.

The author of the eBook, Mark McGuinness, is opening doors to folks interested in Creative Success, once again, for his amazingly valuable course “The Creative Entrepreneur Roadmap”, for a limited period and seats are limited.

Before you go ahead with making a decision of if this course if for you or not, I would suggest reviewing the blog I had written in January about what being Creative means and who this book (and subsequently, the course) is for (yes, it is not for everyone… ).

There are some great success stories form real folks who have taken this course and produced magical results by directly applying what they have learnt from the course. For instance, there is:

Since the course is now open for only a limited time, you could also directly go to the opt-in page to check it out and register.

To your Continued Success…

Himanshu JhambThis article was contributed by Himanshu Jhamb, co-founder of ActiveGarage and co-author of #PROJECT MANAGEMENT tweet. You can follow Himanshu on Twitter at himjhamb.
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Over the last three years, I’ve asked hundreds of business owners this question:

What’s Been Harder in Your Business Than You Expected?

More than 95% of the time, the answer was immediate and unequivocal:

The People!

Jason Colleen owns Colleen Concrete and when I interviewed him he employed about 50 people.  Jason’s response to the question captured the essence of what I heard over and over again.  He said,

“I didn’t expect so many headaches to come from the employees.  Every little problem they have somehow becomes my problem.  People are just so high maintenance.”

Dealing with employees seems to be a universal challenge.  The truth is, people have issues and the more employees you have, the more issues you have.  But there’s another truth as well, and that is:

Great Companies Grow One Person at a Time

Or more precisely, great companies grow one great person at a time.  One of the things I’ve discovered in my own business and in the experience of the owners I’ve interviewed is that you can’t stack enough good people up to make a great one.  Good simply isn’t good enough.  Great people are far more likely than good people to do three things on a consistent basis:

  1. Initiate: Fundamentally, initiative is thought or action that is not prompted by others.  It’s the ability to assess independently and the willingness to take charge before others do.  The soul of initiative is an intensely active engagement – engagement with the company, client, problem or opportunity.  Initiative requires thought, which as Henry Ford said, is probably the hardest work we do.
  2. Stretch: Stretch is about setting your sights higher, much higher, than what seems reasonably achievable. Unless there is a critical mass of people in your company that are willing to reach for incredible, you’ll never achieve incredible.  When you stretch, even if you fall a bit short of incredible, you will inevitably wind up doing better than you would have if you didn’t stretch.
  3. Grow: Employees usually have an expectation that you’ll pay them more next year than you paid them this year.  But why would you?  The only logical reason would be that they contribute more next year than they did this year.  Great employees get that.  They’re always looking for ways to make themselves more valuable.  They improve their skills; they learn how to use new tools; they take classes to expand their knowledge.

That’s what great people look like.  Now, I’m not saying these great people won’t also have some issues.  But if I have to deal with people issues, I’d prefer to be dealing with the issues of highly productive contributors as opposed to the issues of the mediocre, uninspired or disengaged.

Jack-Hayhow Jack Hayhow is Chief Executive Servant of Opus Communications in Kansas City. Opus provides tools and techniques to help business owners build their business. Jack is also the author of two highly acclaimed business books, The Wisdom of the Flying Pig: Guidance and Inspiration for Managers and Leaders and, Breaking Through the Barrier: What Companies That Grow Do Differently
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Week in Review: May 02 – May 06, 2011

by admin on May 8, 2011

Use a Manifesto to build your brand, grow your list & sell more books

by Roger Parker on May 2, 2011

If you’re a business owner or an author using a sample chapter of your book, a report, or a tip sheet as a list-building incentive, consider replacing it with a manifesto. A well-written manifesto can do a better job of helping you build your brand and grow your list, paving the way for you to sell more books.

Manifestos are better list builders because they take a stand. Because manifestos strongly advocate a position, and are usually passionately written, they operate on an emotional level, tapping into the power of commitment. Read more…

Project Reality Check #20: Beware of Addiction to Agile

by Gary Monti on May 3, 2011

Can Agile cause damage?

Yes.

Is Agile a good method?

Yes.

How can both statements be true?

Let’s look.

First, let me say I have a great respect for RAD, Extreme Programming, Agile, etc., because the methods reflect acceptance of and dealing with a common reality. Read more…

As the Paradigm Shifts #D: Dignity, Denial and Detachment

by Rosie Kuhn on May 4, 2011

Whether self-employed, employed by organizations, whether retired or unemployed, we all engage with companies and organizations that support us or we support them. In our interactions with these organizations, what we are wanting is to experience qualities of dignity, first and foremost. This means being treated as a sovereign individual of value, worthy of respect. I want people to communicate authentically, with curiosity and interest. Read more…

Flexible Focus #52: A sense of Significance

by William Reed on May 5, 2011

Stephen Covey provided the world with a significant dimension of perspective when he proposed the Time Management Grid in his book First Things First (1994), using a 2×2 Matrix juxtaposing Urgency vs Importance. Though it has now become common parlance, it was revolutionary at the time when Covey made this distinction, and plotted it in four Quadrants. Read more…

Leader Driven Harmony #23: Five Stressful Behaviors and How to STOP them – Part 3

by Mack McKinney on May 6, 2011

In our last post we looked at two scenarios where, even though other people were causing us stress, we did not ask them to stop because we could not do so safely.  Here is the last scenario before we move on to subject of “is it worth your time to intervene”?  What would you do here? Read more…

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Week In Review : Apr 17 – Apr 23, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on April 24, 2011

The Origin of Leaders #6: Focus. Eliminating Distractions

by Conor Neill, Apr 18, 2011

The truly scarce resource of humanity is Attention. Distractions are overwhelming in the current Web 2.0 world. Context switching is an expensive operation and had detrimental effect on productivity. Great leaders posses the ability to focus. Read this article to learn some great tips on how to eliminate distractions and improve your focus. more…

Project Reality Check #18: Humility

by Gary Monti, Apr 19, 2011

Francis of Assisi had some excellent advice on what it means to lead a good life. He stated “First do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and you will awaken to doing the impossible.” In order to put this to practice in project management today, you need to posses humility. If you stick to this moral and consistently deliver on your promise, your reputation will spread. Your trustworthiness increases and leads to an environment of abundance. more…

As the Paradigm Shifts #B: Business, Breakdowns and Breakthroughs

by Rosie Kuhn, Apr 20, 2011

Common assessments that business is ruthless, unethical, etc are incorrect. Big Businesses have contributed incredibly to the society and the world is a much better place. But the practice of bad business is still a challenge. Breakdowns in business like daily life are inevitable and we are in a huge global economic turmoil now. While breakdowns are not looked forward to they bring out new thinking and invariably a lot of good comes out. The breakthroughs they engender are things we will rejoice. more…

Flexible Focus #50: The Art of Idea Capture

by William Reed, Apr 21, 2011

Capturing your ideas on paper is the first step to capturing your dreams. While there may be many methods of capturing ideas, the age old pen and paper is the most effective. You can draw inspiration from Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book, The Wish List, which contains close to 6,000 wishes as an inspiration, a virtual to do list for life. Capture your ideas on paper in a notebook or wish list, organize them on a Mandala Chart, and share your dreams with those who can help you, and whom you can help in return. Don’t simply admire the Dreamcatcher, become one. more…

Leader driven Harmony #21: Five Stressful Behaviors and How to STOP them – Part 1

by Mack McKinney, Apr 22, 2011

The actions of some people often cause you stress and frustration. Interacting with certain colleagues, bosses and/or direct-reports in the workplace cause your blood pressure to sky rocket. We have identified at least five distinct types of stress-producing behavior:  Day Dreaming, Comparing, Time Traveling, Gut Reacting and Grade Schooling. Mack illustrates examples of each and in upcoming posts will provide ways to deal with these behaviors. more…

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Week In Review : Mar 27 – Apr 2, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on April 3, 2011

Business Intelligence in a Wiki World!

by Linda Williams, Mar 28, 2011

Often the development of Business Intelligence insights is closely guarded within the company to ensure at least a temporary advantage in the marketplace. Secrecy in all areas of analytical review is no longer possible or even preferable in a world that is increasingly transparent with the pervasive use of social media. But the decision to tap into the networked intelligence to speed up problem solving or make breakthroughs cannot be rote, but must rest with the complexity of the use and the expertise of internal resources to meet that need.  more…

Project Reality Check #15: The Requirements Game

by Gary Monti, Mar 29, 2011

Nailing down requirements is the number one complaint of project managers. Addressing this requires two skills: political adroitness and finding a balance point between exploring solutions and exploiting what is known and available. A mantra regarding project requirements goes something like this: “Requirements are stated needs, expectations are unstated needs. Clients tend to judge based on expectations.” So, in order to be a successful PM, it isn’t enough to simply say the client should be realistic. The PM and team need to push as far as they can working with the client in developing a realistic solution – one that will save reputations, relationships, and pocket books as well as produce the desired deliverable. more…

How to create your own good moods?

by Vijay Peduru, Mar 30, 2011

Whenever we meet certain people, they trigger a mood within us… Anxiety, flow, joy, fear, exhaustion, etc. Is there a way where we can choose our emotions? Yes, just like we choose to enter any room in our house, we  can choose our moods ourselves instead of getting triggered. This is a key skill for all, especially entrepreneurs when dealing with situations that might trigger default moods. more…

Flexible Focus #47: Clearing your Clutter

by William Reed, Mar 31, 2011

One of the things that prevents us from seeing life in this way, that shields our eyes from the wisdom in natural simplicity, is that we are surrounded by too much clutter. The recent events in Japan has triggered going back to basics and clearing the clutter. It has brought out the goodness in people. Mandala Chart can help us shift our focus. You can start by answering the following questions:

  1. What are 8 ways in which I can serve the most important people in my life?
  2. If I had to keep or choose 8 things, what would they be?
  3. What are 8 things I can do to clear the clutter in my life?
  4. What are 8 goals or values by which I choose to navigate my life?  more….

Leader driven Harmony #18: Gen-Ys need Special Handling when entering the Workforce – Part 2

by Mack McKinney, Apr 1, 2011

Upon arrival at a new job, every new employee is judged.  They will be scrutinized by established members of the organization in three areas: Talent, Reliability and People-skills. Give them the strongest possible start in each area. Basically, sharing of values and standards, repeated and demonstrated over time, is how individuals are brought into a team with shared goals, interdependencies and mutual rewards. more…

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How to create your own good moods?

by Vijay Peduru on March 30, 2011

Whenever we meet certain people, they trigger a mood within us. Same with objects, places, smells and a lot of other things in our life.   Anxiety, flow, joy, fear, exhaustion… different moods are triggered. We human beings are hijacked by our surrounding emotions. When we watch a movie, we laugh, we get tensed, bite our nails etc i.e we get deeply involved in the movie and allow the same emotions to be in us as the actors. If you look at these situations the common thing is we allow emotions to be triggered in us.

Is there a way where we can choose our emotions?

Just like we choose to enter any room in our house, we  can choose our moods ourselves instead of getting triggered. We humans have the amazing capacity and ability to think before we respond but most of us are not aware of this. How do we use this in our everyday life?

  1. Be aware that there is always a mood that is triggered in you, in any situation. All of us have this – it is one of the things that comes along with being human.
  2. Decide our mood before-hand: We can choose our mood prior to our encountering something, like beginning of the day or beginning of an interaction. In the morning, we can say to our self that today I choose to be optimistic, happy etc. When we encounter any situation or person the default emotion/mood is triggered, but we can stop it and remind ourselves about the choice we made and immediately choose the mood we desire.
  3. Consistent Practice: The difference between a Pro and an amateur is the pro practices his skill everyday rain or shine.  If we treat this habit like a game and practice it daily, it will eventually become a habit.  It will initially be difficult, so, we can try this for an hour or so every day and slowly increase it for a day, then week.. months and then years, until this practice becomes second nature to us.

This is a key skill that entrepreneurs stand to benefit from. Why? Well, lets just say that entrepreneurs have their share of “Situations” to deal with that might trigger the default moods.

Vijay Peduru is an entrepreneur in the bay area and is the co-founder of a bootstrapped startup. His interests are bootstrapping, leadership and spirituality.
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Guy Kawasaki’s Finishing School for Entrepreneurs!

by Roger Parker on March 8, 2011

While reading an advance copy of Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions, it struck me that what Guy is providing is a “finishing school for 21st Century entrepreneurs.”

According to Wikipedia, finishing school originally referred to “a private school for girls that emphasizes training in cultural and social activities.” Intended to follow ordinary schooling, finishing school is “intended to complete the educational experience, with classes primarily on etiquette.”

Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is much more than shallow etiquette, as it references many of the most important and influential current books on marketing, psychology, and social behavior, such as Robert Cialdini’s Influence: The Power of Persuasion.

Yet, at heart, Enchantment is an etiquette book; its a 21st century behavior book, a guide to the subtleties and nuances of daily business life that determine whether or not others—bosses, co-workers, customers, employees, prospects, and website visitors—will like us and trust us…or simply tune-us out.

Image versus reality

Enchantment fascinates me because—on the surface–it looks, and reads, like a “simple” book. It’s a fast read because sentences, paragraphs, and chapters, are short. Topics inside chapters are short and to the point, broken up with frequent subheads, lists, and quotations that keep readers engaged and moving forward.

There are also enough graphics to reinforce important points.

Look behind the apparent simplicity and easy reading, however, and you’ll find a wealth of carefully organized, up-to-date information. Enchantment’s bibliography may only include 20 titles, but they’re the right 20 titles, and Guy Kawasaki obviously carefully read each of the contemporary business classics before skillfully weaving them into the narrative.

You’ll definitely want to read Enchantment with pen in hand, so you can underline the many ideas you’ll want to revisit.

Importance of balance

Most business books fall into the trap of either being too abstract or too practical.

  • Abstract books, often the ground-breaking books that introduce new ideas and perspectives, are often too research-oriented to be useful. They may define a new way of approaching a problem, but they don’t provide the daily nuts-and-bolts, “do and don’t” advice, that readers need to efficiently implement and profit from the new perspective.
  • Practical books, on the other hand, are often so distilled down to the “how to’s” that readers don’t understand the background, or the context, of the recommended advice.

Enchantment is one of the rare exceptions. It defines a “code of behavior” that will encourage others to like, respect, and trust you (and your ideas) and also provides the specific advice and recommendations you need to create the daily habits that will enchantment those whose approval you need to achieve your goals.

Is Enchantment for you?

Basically, Enchantment is for you, if :

  • You’d rather read 1 book, instead of 20 other books.
  • You’re interested in stories, rather than ideas. Enchantment is filled with examples from Guy Kawasaki’s own experiences plus personal stories contributed by a variety of successful entrepreneurs.
  • You’re part of the personal computing and Internet age. As a well-known Silicon Valley participant and investor, Guy Kawasaki writes from a privileged “insider” perspective about the past. This also makes him the perfect guide to introduce you to ways to achieve your enchantment using the latest online and social media technology.

Enchantment contains additional subtleties that enhance its value as a “finish school” for entrepreneurs. The table of contents, for example, provides topic lists with check-boxes for you to track your progress as you read. In addition, the Conclusion contains a self-scoring quiz you can take to test your mastery of Enchantment powers. There’s also a fascinating story, (that word, again!), describing the origins of the book cover and how it was crowd-sourced and market-tested before committing to it. (Guy practices what he preaches.) All in all, Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment is a book that deserves your attention. To learn more, view Guy’s Enchantment slides and speech, take an online quiz, read online excerpts, or view (or embed) the Enchantment infographic.

rcp-heming-picRoger C. Parker helps others write books that build brands. He’s written over 30 books, offers do-it-yourself resources at Published & Profitable, and shares writing tips each weekday. His latest book is Title Tweet! 140 Bite-Sized Ideas for Article, Book, and Event Titles
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Should you always persist?

by Vijay Peduru on March 7, 2011

We all have heard many successful entrepreneurs and successful people talking about persistence and how persistence is one of the main ingredients for success.  The famous quote by Vince Lombardi “Winners never quit and quitters never win.” Has perhaps been quoted many times by many people!

But if you look at any successful person – along with persistence comes also the wisdom to quit if something is not working out well.  In fact, business laws like chapter 11 and Chapter 7 are setup for this, Chapter 11 just means “We are going to stop doing what we were doing because it is not working out well for us and start with something new.  Chapter 7 means “We give up”

Declaring bankruptcy is sometimes good, so we can continue without the baggage from before. Here is a good example of a  19-Year-Old kid taking On Google. If you read his story, this kid Daniel Gross worked for 3 months on several ideas but nothing satisfied him and when he had 48hrs left he built a new one and continued to work on it for the next several months.  This is a good example of when to persist and when to quit.

This “quit or persist” works in anything in our life… A startup idea, a habit, an addiction. At any point of time, we can decide if we need to quit or persist.

Quitting is painful and is not fun, but perhaps it is better to acknowledge the failure, so we can start with fresh ideas and fresh perspectives.  When we know where we want to go and if what we are doing now does not seem to get us there, it is good to quit and maybe just maybe we will discover a better future than we anticipated.

Vijay Peduru is an entrepreneur in the bay area and is the co-founder of a bootstrapped startup. His interests are bootstrapping, leadership and spirituality.
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Week In Review : Feb 27 – Mar 5, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on March 6, 2011

5 Reasons why IT Outsourcing may not be living up to the hype!

by Matthew Carmen, Feb 28, 2011

Large and small companies alike find out very often that their own cost savings due to outsourcing do not match the case studies they were sold on. Several reasons can result in your company essentially leaving dollars and services on the table with respect to outsourcing.  There’s no such thing as too much thought when evaluating an outsourcing initiative.  If you need help, there are many experts available to you who can provide guidance. more…

Project Reality Check #11: Frame of Mind

by Gary Monti, Mar 1, 2011

“Everything is simple” if you have the right frame of mind. “What happens when you follow the rules?” is the question that will determine the frame-of-mind appropriate for a project. Gary describes 6 of them in this post. The reality and challenge are the fact that all 6 frames-of-mind or some subset can be present on a given project. The goal, then, is to make sure the project terrain is gauged accordingly and the style(s) adapted are appropriate. more…

Ready to be Enchanted?

by Himanshu Jhamb, Mar 2, 2011

Enchantment is Guy Kawasaki‘s 10th book and according to him, “Enchantment is about transforming situations and relationships to invent new possibilities; ones that you probably did not think were possible.” There is something in this book for everyone and is full of practical advice. An actual review of the book will be coming out on Active Garage, on March 08, 2011 – the official release date of Enchantment. Go ahead and pre-order your copy right away! more…

Flexible Focus #43: 8 Levels of Consciousness

by William Reed, Mar 3, 2011

There are 8 levels of consciousness. The first five are the five senses: VisualAuditoryOlfactoryTaste, and Touch. The sixth is Ideation, our conscious thought. These six levels of consciousness then make up the conscious mind, the part that we are mostly aware of. The next two layers are part of the sub-conscious mind, which are the Ego, and the Seed (Storehouse) consciousness at the core. Our subconscious mind is a garden, which bears fruit according to the seeds which are planted and cultivated. The practical application with the Mandala Chart, is to cultivate a flexible focus and select positive and harmonious seeds to plant in our unconscious. more…

Leader driven Harmony #14: If you are Civil, you will get (more) beer – Part I

by Mack McKinney, Mar 4, 2011

People listen more attentively to civil persons than to rude or boisterous people. Humans seem to be drawn to calm, collected people.  They have a calming effect on persons around them. Cultivate the ability to always be civil even (maybe especially) to people with whom you totally disagree.  This is a powerful skill. In our next post Mack will talk about the remarkable benefits of following the Desiderata. It is a powerful document that will show you how adding just four simple rules at the dinner table will get you labeled diplomatic and get you invited to dinner parties a lot more often! more…

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