To trust or not to trust?

To trust or not to trust?

You’ve started your business and you are so excited and want to share your wonderful concept with the world.

two rocks posing as people holding hands

Immediately the fears creep in.  What if someone else thinks it’s a good idea and tries to steal it.

When is it right to trust or not to trust that instinct?

The wrong tone

That spirit of fear, or distrust, is now contaminating your copy.

You temper your tone and are careful who you mention, keeping the attention firmly on yourself and not crediting anyone else.

Perhaps you are a bit cagey about exactly what’s on offer – you don’t wish to give too many secrets away. 

The right energy

There is an art to gaining attention and drip-feeding content for momentum and a big reveal.  Done with fear your energy will be off.

Trust in yourself and your product or service and be open to sharing.

Ask yourself, what is that fear really about?

It is doubt about whether you are good enough? Do you have a fear about someone else being better than you?  Are you feeling the dreaded imposter syndrome?

Recognise this for what it really is.  Take some time before you write, post, call and share your news to get in the right positive energy.

Get over yourself

Usually your business concept will be done by someone already – there is very rarely a completely unique idea. 

Do some market research.  Who is the competition and what are they offering?  Don’t go down that rabbit hole of not being as good as them.  Remember, you are the unique element of what you offer as nobody can do you. Get over yourself and own that talent that got you here in the first place!

Competition can be a good thing.  Coffee anyone?  How many artisan coffee shops are in your local town?  Which ones do you visit?  The one or two that resonate with you, that have the friendly barista or your favourite cake?  So everyone comes to your town for great coffee – not everyone chooses the same coffee shop. People will choose you, the others are not the enemy.

What are you missing?

Could you collaborate with another outfit that is similar to yours?  Do you offer an element that they don’t and visa versa, meaning you can offer a bigger or better package to your clients?

What about the possibility of sending work to each other when you are too busy?  Have a grown-up conversation at the outset about the arrangement and keep a note of what happens.  If you are willing and open to try it may work out really well for both parties.  If not, you can politely withdraw from the arrangement at any time.

Act with fear and shut others out and you may damage your reputation in the community.

You can get burnt

There is always a risk in working with others – but that attitude of mistrusting everyone will not serve you well in business.

Work out the upside and the potential downside.   

Go back to your strategy.  Can this relationship/arrangement help you achieve your goals?

Obviously we have all had a bad experience, one that we wish we had not allowed to happen, but you will learn so much more from the odd mistake.

With experience you become more confident about your decision-making process and know when it’s right to trust or not to trust that opportunity or person. 

Are you ready to start your own business (with or without chocolate) and feel that fear but do it anyway – trust yourself and put your faith and trust in the good ones out there. Good luck.

It’s all about you

It’s all about you

The airplane analogy is often used. We need to put on our oxygen mask first, ahead of our loved ones, to be able to help them.

Air hostess in a cabin wearing a mask

So how well do you look after you?

If you push on regardless it can become too much, you may find yourself unable to carry on in the same way.  

I thought it timely that we take a moment to focus on ourselves. Yes, this is all about YOU, because you matter and when was the last time you focused on what you need?

Where are you now?

If you are reading this quickly before dashing off to do something else which needs to be ticked off the list. Stop, really take a moment. Sit quietly, slow the breathing down, turn off distractions (if possible) and tune into yourself. This requires a little bit of your precious time, some concentration, and honesty.

How are you feeling? 

That’s a bit of a big question, so let’s break it down into three areas:

  • Stress/busyness/commitments
  • Worry/anxiety
  • Feeling low/depressed

Stress/busyness/commitments

I need a bit of busy in my life – I find I thrive on it (mostly) and it makes me feel alive. Some stress I find necessary to keep me focused and motivated. In those moments I’m saying yes to everything, I can take on the world. Suddenly something changes and a bit of stress tips into stressed out, over-committed, and overwhelmed.  

On the flip side, if I find myself with not enough to do, that’s demotivating. The less I do the less I want to do until it drives me a bit bonkers, and I take action.

Be honest and work out where you are taking on too much and where you might want to put more energy instead.  

Worry/Anxiety

This is a biggie. With recent and current life events, our world seems more worrying and anxiety-inducing than ever.

What’s normal for you?

Can you manage the level of worry and anxiety that you are experiencing, or it is stopping you from leading your ‘normal’ life?

As we get older, we can find ourselves concerned over details we would never have given a second thought to in the past. Perhaps there is an element of extra worrying we are willing to accept. If this tips into catastrophising about what might happen and affecting our mental health, then it may be time to seek help.

I suffered from anxiety in the past, which was becoming a problem and difficult to cope with. My GP offered some CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which I found very helpful.  

Two strategies that I took from the process were:

Set aside worry time each day 

Acknowledge each worry or fear as it occurs. Park that thought but give it proper worry time at the allotted time each day. (Don’t do worry time just before bedtime.) This seems unlikely to work, but I found it helpful as instead of being overwhelmed with worrying thoughts and not dealing with them, I knew I would spend time each day thinking about those things that concerned me most.

Worry Tree

What are you really worried about? If you can identify each worry and write it down then think about all the things that could happen, drilling down into the worst thing you can imagine. It may be that there is nothing you can do to stop the worst thing from happening but acknowledging this can be helpful.

You may find that your worry, when drilled into, is not as bad as you originally thought it was.

Feeling Low/Depressed

We all feel low and a little depressed at times.

If it feels like it is ongoing and not improving, it’s important to talk to someone and/or seek help.

I’ve often found that those low moments are the true turning points of life.   

Happy Place

If I were to describe an amazing happy place it would be wild swimming in the most beautiful location, looking up at a vast blue sky, the mountainous landscape surrounding me, the gentle sound of the water as I floated along, opening my arms wide to the world and being so thankful to be present in that very moment.

What’s your happy place? Please pop over to my Facebook page and share.

Treat time

Now you have thought about good things, what small treats can you build into everyday life to fill up your tank?

  • Quiet time/reading
  • Breathing/meditation
  • Exercise/sporting activity
  • Spending quality time with friends/family
  • Diet/water consumption
  • Sleep
  • Laughing at comedy or the TV
  • Dancing/listening to music

Here’s a list of ideas – 100 Ways to Unwind if you need some inspiration.

It’s all about knowing ourselves, acknowledging where we are and putting on that oxygen mask to give us energy and ensure we are the best for those that are dear to us. We owe it to ourselves too.

Let’s give ourselves permission – make it all about you for a change!

What’s your why?

What’s your why?

When did you last take a moment and think deeply about what motivates you, what’s most important to you, and what makes you tick?

It does not have to be profound and/or huge (although I’m sure we could all agree on world peace and an end to suffering). The smallest things can be so important. Whatever is real and meaningful for you matters most.

If you want to start your own business, then it’s imperative to work out the reasons behind your decision for doing so. Without being tuned into your ‘why’ you will lack focus, drive, and ambition to realise your dreams. So, what’s your why?

Where do you start?

Break down your life into general segments and review each to see where you are on a scale of 1 to 10. 

1 being it’s not working well at all to 10 being just perfect for you. Think about where you are now and be honest. This will help you score more accurately.  

  1. Work
  2. Home
  3. Health/Fitness
  4. Family/Friends
  5. Money

What’s your dream?

Do the exercise again, this time daring to describe each category as a true dream scenario for you. 

What would absolutely fantastic look like for you?  

I would like to pass on the wise words of a well-read coach I worked with (Paul Webb), which is ‘suspend disbelief’. If we use our logical brain, we will be telling ourselves all the things we can’t achieve, if you are able for the moment to suspend disbelief then surely anything is possible!

Focusing on the work element – what would having your own business mean for you? Really spend some time imagining working in a way that you want to, doing what you love and earning some money too.

It will not just be about the money. There will be so much more to it than that. The freedom, the chance to be creative, to be able to spend more quality time with family or friends, to pursue passions whether within or outside of work.

Mind the Gap

What life elements are furthest away from where you want to be?  

Where in your life need some focus and attention?  

Can you start to take some small steps to achieve more balance? You may not be able to tackle everything at once, but acknowledging where you are and taking small steps to improve or change a given situation (or even to acknowledge that there is nothing you can do right now to change it) will help.

What did you notice?

So which bits about your life filled you with the most joy?  

What did you find easiest to think about, dream about?  

What fired up your passions? 

Or maybe, what came so easily that you hardly realised it happening – because that bit is where your personal magic lies! The stuff that comes to you with ease, that doesn’t ever feel difficult, that gives you pleasure, where time literally flies – that is where you need to send some focus.

Watch this Space

Keep a diary, make a note, reflect and record. Now you are tuned in to what is happening, try and find out the bit that makes you sing more than anything else.   

Add in the elements of trying to find more balance in your whole life and it’s from there that you can start to identify your why.

It’s not just about you

I was training someone recently to start their own chocolate workshop business where they live. They asked me what’s the point of what I do. 

I thought it was a good question, without hesitation I showed this photo:

Two ladies smiling and laughing with chocolate smeared on their faces.  Having fun on a chocolate workshop experience.

This picture sums up exactly what I want for my customers.  

It really matters to me that everyone has a good time. I spend time creating the best possible customer experiences with chocolate that I am capable of delivering. The fact that people are spending their hard-earned cash with me is something I would never take for granted.

Although I need to own the responsibility for my business and what I offer, it’s not just about what I want. What do my customers want or need and how can I deliver that for them. How can I meet and hopefully exceed expectations?

What’s next?

Good luck with discovering your why. Will you dare to take the next steps and put a plan into action?

You will start to experience some fear, that’s normal, when faced with change we are bound to experience fear, but it will hopefully also be mixed with excitement! Now it’s time to take some action.

Your why, the thing that makes you tick, may just be something that helps, inspires, motivates or brings some joy to another.

Be a Better Speaker

Be a Better Speaker

Are you one of those that hear the word speaker and run for the hills?  

If you can overcome that fear and use speaking in your business, it will do wonders for your confidence, offer opportunities for growth, and mark you out as the expert in the room.

Your comfort zone will kill you…….so here’s how to be a better speaker:

Get out of your own way

Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Do they want to watch you on stage dying of embarrassment and being too nervous to deliver your message? Imagine what that experience would be like for them. They will feel uncomfortable on your behalf, and your message might be lost.

That may sound rather harsh, but if you are able to get out of your own way and think about the experience of the audience listening to your message, it really does help overcome some nerves.  

Think about your speech in terms of the need to share your message. Why not give the audience the best chance to hear what you have to say and benefit from what you have to offer?

Fake it ‘til you make it – act more confident than you actually feel, and you may just find yourself feeling far more confident in the process.

Study the experts

Pick someone you admire who speaks from the stage and watch them intently. What is it about their delivery that really speaks to you? How does their delivery method work and resonate with the audience? Can you notice any tricks they employ to keep engagement and interest?

Ted Talks are a great place to study the greats – Brene Brown is a personal favourite of mine. Don’t despair or think you can never achieve such levels as those on Ted, use it as a learning opportunity and something to aspire to.

There are plenty of courses on offer too should you wish to invest in training.

Tell your story

Stories really sell, people are interested in other people, what bought you here, what do you have to share about your journey to get there.  

You may think it’s insignificant and other people might not be interested, but it makes it real and human and will definitely resonate with someone (if not many) in the room.

Weave stories into your business, anecdotes, something funny, real-life examples of how your product or services has impacted your clients.  

This will make you and your business far more memorable in the minds of the audience.

Be authentic

Don’t read from autocue or cards, this is not a corporate presentation where you have to stay on message. That’s totally boring and never interesting for the audience.  

This is you, your business, your way with your personality and that is what makes the experience unique.

Yes, you have to bring more energy and life than a conversation around the water cooler, but you are still you. 

Try and be as natural as possible. 

Fake a little confidence (to yourself) until you start to feel that confidence grow.

Once this happens, you will notice how you are able to play with the room a little. Suddenly you are able to access that wealth of information you hold in your head, even banter with the room as you are able to ditch some of the nerves and start to enjoy the experience (I promise).

Have some tricks up your sleeve

Bad luck, they gave you the graveyard slot (after lunch) and everyone has had a slump in energy. You feel you are losing the room.

Keep your own energy up. 

Have you seen Tony Robbins? He bounces around on a mini trampoline before hitting the stage.

What can you do to change the energy? A show of hands, standing up, changing places, high-fiving your neighbour? Judge the room, it can easily be over-done and become a bit too cheesy (I’ve definitely been on the receiving end of a very American-style vibe, which was just too much).

Here’s something to help if it feels like it’s all going wrong.

Know your stuff

Once you have decided what you are going to say, practice, practice, practice.  

If you are comfortable and confident with the content, it will help your delivery.  

People are giving up their valuable time to come and listen, you owe it to them to give it the best shot you have.  

If you have not taken the time to study, practice, understand your audience it will show.

Your position

By standing at the front of the room, or on the stage, you are seen as the go-to expert.  

That’s a powerful position for you and your business and is a great opportunity to gain credibility, increase awareness and if relevant, make some sales.

Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale

If there is an opportunity to sell from the stage, take it.  

Keep the energy and language in the same tone, stay upbeat. Don’t suddenly start to falter or stutter because you are about to ask for money.  

Get really comfortable with your sales pitch and really make it sing.  

You may lose some of the room if they are not in the mood to buy, but don’t be afraid to mention what you have to sell confidently, if appropriate for the speaking gig.

Enjoy it

I was petrified of speaking. 

My only previous experience was from the corporate world, I disliked it and considered myself rubbish at it.  

Once I started my own business, I decided that I was going to tell myself a different story about speaking. I wasn’t following someone else’s script anymore, and I decided to bring my personality to the stage and get better at it.  

Now I speak lots, in fact, speaking is an integral part of my business. I still get nervous for some speaking events but know those nerves are good. Nerves help keep you on your toes and focused as to what you want to deliver.

I absolutely love it; the buzz, the energy, the ability to influence, help, guide and support a group of people through speaking is just great.  

Say YES

Start with small events and gatherings and work your way up to larger audiences.  

Say yes to speaking opportunities when you don’t feel ready or comfortable and challenge yourself to get better at it. Decide you can and will do it, and see what you can achieve through observation, practice, and experience.

I’ve had people fall asleep while I’ve been presenting (very off-putting – but it was in a care home and after supper) and made people laugh or cry as I’ve touched a nerve and resonated with them.  

It’s an honour to have the opportunity to speak to an audience and will reap benefits for you personally and for your business. Good luck.

Why I started my business

Why I started my business

 I usually tell everyone about my love of chocolate and people, I just put the two together and created The Melting Pot.

Of course, my reasons for starting run far deeper than that.  

Dawn Fry

Here’s why I really started my business:

I took a job to fit around the needs of the family and it was driving me mad. It was something beneath my skill set for the part-time element and often left me unfulfilled and bored. Trying hard to turn it into something else wasn’t working, which just added to my frustration.

Life’s too short

My Dad became ill with serious cancer, followed by my husband in the same year. The next months were a blur of sitting by hospital beds and supporting them both. It was a tough time, with both seriously ill at the same time and three young children to support too. Driving around the M25 day after day, spending hours at a bedside, sitting watching loved ones suffer, and getting home and trying to be something for the kids. It took its toll.

Eventually, I went back to work but being in that environment was the final straw for me. How could I continue to work in something that didn’t serve me when life was so short and precarious?  

The only way is up

After a gruelling time and against the odds, we received good news, both my dad and hubby survived and are still well to this day, touch wood.

However, I now found myself teary and upset a lot of the time. The past had taken its toll. Not only did I not want to be in my job, but I was also not coping that well at all. It was hard to believe that everyone was going to be OK, even though the news was good, and I certainly didn’t feel OK myself.

One day there was a passing comment made in the office. It typified everything about what was not going to happen for me in my current role. 

I found myself in the toilet crying and knew something had to change.

The lightbulb moment

It was getting to that really low point, that kicked in some form of survival instinct and finally got me to tune into my need to reinvent myself. Time to start my own business, be my own boss, set my own agenda…..but what could I do?

I did literally have a lightbulb moment – I knew my business had to be with people and some sort of food and one day I just went, “chocolate, that’s it”. Running chocolate workshops felt right; I had created my new business idea, now to make it happen.

Redundancy Cheer

Redundancy is no joke; I’m not trying to make light of how awful it feels for some to know that they are going to lose their job and security. For me, it was a cheery and fearful moment. I was called into the office to be told that my job was being made redundant (it was the height of a recession in 2009). My response was ‘hurrah’ as it meant I could focus on my dream. I’d not been there long enough to qualify for redundancy pay, but it did give me the opportunity to start creating a chocolate workshop business as there was no job to full back on. This was the catalyst I really needed to make it a reality.

I left the job in June 2009 and launched The Melting Pot in September 2009.  

Why stop at workshops

After many years since I took the plunge, I still offer chocolate workshops and now so much more….

Hot Chocolate Team Day

So many courses and bespoke events have been created for clients – I say yes, then work out how I’m going to make it work.  

My hubby was inspired too, and for some years has been offering ‘be a blacksmith for a day’ experiences from his forge. We’ve even collaborated and created ‘hot chocolate’ team days.

I’ve documented everything I did to create a ‘business in a chocolate box’ and sell this to others wishing to run chocolate workshops where they live.  

New Dawn start-up business training came out of mentoring and supporting those starting a chocolate workshop business. Not everyone wants to work with chocolate – can you believe that?

Lack of confidence seemed to stop the people I met from starting something, they didn’t believe they could do it. If I could surely others could too? A free creating magic challenge and building confidence course were born.

Who knows what might be next…..

What I’d like to pass on

  1. Don’t stay working in something that makes you unhappy. You can and deserve to be happier at work. If you find yourself having a cry in the toilet, please make a change.
  2. Be brave – stretching your comfort zone will feel uncomfortable at first but the rewards are enormous.
  3. Choose love – firstly learn to love yourself properly, this is so important if you want to support all those that are so important to you too. There is nothing like working for yourself to really explore you and your capabilities.

There it is, why I started my own business. I love being my own boss, flexible, challenging, interesting and you will be so surprised at what you will learn about yourself.

Why All Relationships Matter

Why All Relationships Matter

We are talking business relationships here, but it’s personal too.

The most obvious relationships are those we have with our customers. The customer is king in every business. However, there are so many more to consider for a successful business to survive and indeed thrive, including the one you have with yourself.

Let’s explore why all relationships matter:

What relationships?

Meeting at a desk, with notebooks, drinks and laptops (you can't see their faces, just there arms writing in their books)

Sometimes we focus so much on the obvious (our customers) we overlook other opportunities.

Who do you have relationships with?

Customers, employees, contractors, suppliers, competitors, family, friends – are all key relationships within your business.

Another thing to consider is your potential relationship with someone where you are simply making an enquiry.

Maybe you are looking at a business opportunity?

How you behave will reflect on how you are perceived by the vendor.

Do you ask, realise it’s not for you (right now) and then ignore all the follow-ups? What if you later change your mind. If you didn’t go back to them explaining not right now, have you burnt your bridges for a potential transaction in different circumstances?

Send a simple reply explaining it’s not for you and why, and come across as professional and considered.

Supplying the Goods

Think about the importance of getting your supplies for example.  

Cacao beans

You are spending money with your suppliers and may think that you need do no more than hand over your hard-earned cash. What about a shortage in supplies (something that we are often facing in these difficult times).  Your supplier may have to choose which customer to send limited supplies to.  

What if you need a rush job and will need a supplier to go the extra mile for you?

Might your supplier recommend your services/goods to another customer if you are great to do business with?

A good relationship can reap unexpected benefits.

Money Matters

How do you pay for your supplies?  

Pink piggy bank

Cash flow can be an issue at times, so you may leave certain suppliers waiting for payment.  

Is this something you accept personally?  

Are you willing and able to wait for payment from a service or goods you have delivered?

What are your terms, and do you act with the same integrity with everyone else you do business with?

If you do hit on difficult times and you need to speak to your suppliers about extending credit for a limited time, your payment history will come into play. Have you built credibility with your supplier to afford you some leeway when it might be most be needed?

The Competition

Hide your head in the sand, feel threatened and defensive, or completely oblivious – what is your attitude to the competition?

Competition can be a good thing. If more people are offering what you do, there must be a demand for it. Always check out the competition and keep an eye on what they are doing. Is there an opportunity to work together, to collaborate?  

No one can do things the way that you do them. You are what makes your business unique.  

Make friends with the competition where appropriate and explore ways of potentially working together. 

The team

If you employ people or use contractors, then they are representing you and your business.

Do they clearly understand and operate by your values? Have you adequately trained and equipped them to achieve their tasks properly?

If there is one big lesson I’ve taken from running my own business, it’s all my fault. If an employee/contractor makes a mistake, then the buck will stop with me. Choose good people (we need to part ways with those that are not the right fit) and train them well.

Build good strong relationships with all members of your team and it will reap rewards.

Customers are King

Without customers, we don’t have a business.  

Building strong relationships with your customers and providing the best possible service matters. I like to create sticky customers (ones I cover in chocolate, but also stick around for more). Working with chocolate is a good hook for building rapport, but you don’t need to work with it to use it to your advantage! Here are 100 ways to make your customers go WOW.  

You

Nothing will test you like running your own business. It is the best personal development programme you will ever encounter. You will experience highs and lows, but the benefits of being your own boss far outweigh the difficult bits!  

Be YOU. People buy authentic, tell your story, be yourself. 

If you do not it will be exhausting and not something that you can sustain long term.

Set boundaries for yourself and stick to them. Respect yourself and others will follow suit. Treat everyone in the way you expect to be treated yourself.

The relationship with yourself will be tested and you need to know who you are and what you stand for.

All relationships matter.

7 reasons to just do it

7 reasons to just do it

What are you deliberating on right now?

It can feel so difficult to wrestle with a choice or change of direction. We might make a list of pros and cons, talk to all the people we know and trust, seeking answers elsewhere. At the end of the day, the decision is yours.

Sometimes we just have to bite the bullet and say yes to a situation or opportunity.

Here are 7 reasons to just do it:

Enthusiasm

You are obviously excited about this opportunity, or it would not be causing you the anxiety of deliberation. Listen to that emotion. What is it really telling you?

If you seek a new adventure of some sort, the reality is likely that you feel a bit stuck or stale with what is going on in your life at the moment. It’s time for a change or you would not have been attracted to the idea in the first place! Enthusiasm motivates you to take further action.

Momentum

While your energy is high, and you are in the mood to explore – act on it. Go and find out lots of information, speak to relevant people with a BIG caveat! Who you speak to matters! Some people, especially those close to you can be very cautious and negative about shiny new ideas.  

Seek out those that have relevant experience of what you want to explore. Use that momentum to really flesh out your idea in more detail. 

Energy and drive are required to make big changes.

Back yourself

You’ve got this.

Almost anything is actually possible if we put our minds to it. We tell ourselves we can’t do something as we have put ourselves in a pigeonhole. When we actually challenge ourselves to achieve something, it’s amazing the resources we find within ourselves.

There is also a whole world of experts, mentors, teachers, and coaches out there. If you don’t know how to do something go and find out about it from someone who does. If that’s starting a business, my hand is waving in the air!

Stretching your comfort zone

In a toilet in Shoreditch, there is some wallpaper that says, “your comfort zone will kill you”. 

Rather dramatic, but how true. We slowly shrivel up and fade away when we don’t challenge ourselves now and again. It can be just a small action, something that makes you feel a little uncomfortable now and again will work wonders for your self-esteem. Running a business stretches my comfort zone on a regular basis, there are some surprising things you will learn about yourself!

What’s the downside?

Is it losing face, fear of failure, scared someone will say no, someone will judge you? Honestly, how bad could the downside be? I think we can often overestimate the downside of something so be as objective as possible. If we fail, we have learned some valuable lessons. 

Can you afford to lose?

Putting my whole life, house, family, and the dog at risk from making a decision is not one I could live with. As much as I may dive in with a big decision and give it a go, I need to know the cost should it go wrong.

A default setting is often – I can’t afford that. That may well be because it’s a stretch financially. It is also about backing yourself to achieve something and that feels very uncomfortable. 

There are many ways to finance plans; business and personal loans, credit, etc – not just about what is currently in your piggy bank. Speak to a finance professional and take advice. Learn what the risk is to you and then make an educated choice on whether you can afford to lose or not.

 What will success look like?

Cork popping off a bottle of champagne with sparklers fizzing out of the top

You did it, took the plunge, and there you are sipping a glass of fizz reflecting on the journey you’ve been on.

What does success look like to you, what measures will mean that you have made it? Don’t just look at the numbers because it’s never just about the money. There will be financial goals, but what personal goals are there too? More free time, quality time with family and friends, holidays when it suits you and not the office rota?

Define your success criteria and if the decision means you are more likely to gain the success you seek, this life is far too short so………JUST DO IT!

Come and tell us your big news.

Do you have the KIT for business?

Do you have the KIT for business?

There have been some perfect examples of where the right KIT has resulted in sales this week.

In one case without the KIT a sale would have fallen through.

Do you have this in your business?

Dawn Fry

What’s KIT? 

KIT is simply ‘Keeping In Touch’ – do this properly and it will help your business no end. Let’s explore if you have the KIT for business

Firstly, I want to tell you a little story…….

How my KIT resulted in extra sales

A customer had been in touch regarding purchasing a gift voucher. They had lots of specific questions, which I answered but it had gone quiet. 

After a few days, I sent another email, asking if I had answered all the questions they had and could I help any further. For some reason, the original email had ended up in the junk folder and had not been read. 

From the customer’s perspective, it looked like I had not bothered. A follow-up and the customer was completely apologetic about not seeing my original response. The result – gift voucher purchased. Very gratefully received and all because I bothered to go back and check-in.

KIT for business

There are a few simple things you can do to keep in touch with your customers, build good relationships, and hopefully help to boost sales.

Rapid Response

If someone sends you an enquiry, get back to them as quickly as possible. When you are in the mood to buy something, you want to achieve your goal. 

Go back to a customer quickly while they are in buying mode. Leave it too long and they may have gone to someone else or changed their mind.

The number of times I hear ‘thanks for coming back to me so quickly’ backed up by the booking – it’s worth a rapid response.

Keep it Simple

How easy it is for someone to get in touch with you? Is it obvious and simple for someone to hit a button, drop you a line, DM, email or call whether it’s your website or social media?  

Sometimes we overlook the absolute obvious. Check your customer’s journey and ensure they can easily make contact if they wish to enquire or buy from you.

Make a Note

Who has been in touch, and have they bought from you yet? If not, have you gone back to them to help further? Can you send them something relevant and useful that will help build your reputation with them and encourage them to purchase in the future?

Whether you keep a database, have a sophisticated system, or simply put a note in your diary – keep a note to touch base.  

Newsletter

A great way to keep in touch is to drop existing and potential customers a line with all your news, or relevant information that they would find interesting. A newsletter is a fab way to do this.  

Be mindful of data protection and do things properly. If you subscribe to a proper newsletter service, there will be an opt-in and unsubscribe service in-built. There are some free services for this too, such as Mailchimp. Act professionally and respectively at all times, but do tell people about what you do regularly. It’s not their business to remember, it’s your business to remind.

NO often means not now, it’s not the right time. Keep in touch and you will be around when the time is YES.

KIT Opportunities

What other opportunities are there in your business to keep in touch?

Mum’s book children’s parties with me. I offer pre-printed invitations, which I send to mum on booking. That ensures that all the mums/dads or carers of the attendees have my details. When their little one comes home full of chocolate and asks if they can have a chocolate party – it’s easy to get in touch and book.

Recipe cards are another keep in touch tool I give out at my adult parties.

If you wish to up the ante a little, here’s how you can work in some WOW.

Daily Disciplines

It takes effort and energy to run your business, and you need to set yourself some daily disciplines to ensure you make keeping in touch a priority.

Explain to your potential customers when you are around, and when you might be taking a moment for family, leisure, or pleasure.  

It’s your rules and you can run your business how you wish, as long as you communicate clearly and act exactly how you say you will.

What would you add to the KIT – do come and share any extra tips with us over on my Facebook page.

If this has made you want to run your own business, here are some potential ideas for you. You might even consider working with chocolate!

10 tips to keep them coming back

10 tips to keep them coming back

As a small business owner, you have a unique opportunity to provide a passionate and dedicated service for your customers.

Get this right and your customers will sing your praises to others. Most importantly, they will stick around to do more business with you too.

This is why you need sticky customers. Read on for 10 tips to keep them coming back for more…..

Great customer service will make the world a better place

Imagine all those happy customers.

Maya Angelou quote "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you make them feel."

You have helped create a warm glow for them instead of the usual huge frustrations. Too many of us are treated poorly, without respect, and just not listened to. Become their ear, make them feel better, just simply CARE.

There will be less moaning (except for the weather perhaps). Customers will start to share their feel-good stories instead.

Little by little it may help to lift the mood of the nation.

Let’s start the customer service revolution

Great customer service has such massive potential.

Exceptional service makes you stand out from competitors. You will gain loyal followers, repeat business, build strong relationships, and subsequently grow your business.

I believe it’s more than that, it’s our bigger purpose.

We have a duty to get good at this because your customers really do matter. Be thankful they choose to do business with you. Without them, you don’t have a business anyway.

We can set the tone for others to follow in our footsteps. By doing this well, there will be no choice in the end. It will become what consumers expect. Do or die for businesses!

Here’s what I recommend you need to think about…….

10 tips to keep them coming back:

  1. Be YOU. People want authentic – customers will spot bullsh*t a mile off.
  2. Get in the right mindset. Care about your customers and about the service you provide to them, no matter what is going on for you.
  3. Map the whole journey a customer might take with you (including before you know who they are) and do exactly what you promise you say you will. Just doing exactly what we promised can be a win-win situation. Imagine the possibilities if you can exceed expectations.
  4. Provide something useful/helpful/interesting for them – think about what they need, want, have to solve, and try and be a solution.
  5. Own it. It’s all your fault. Even if it was your employee that did the wrong deed. You didn’t train them properly, or you hired the wrong person. Tough, but in the eyes of the customer none of that matters to them.
  6. Gain testimonials and/or press coverage to help build credibility. Ask for feedback to understand what you can hone and improve.
  7. Act quickly. If you can’t, get in touch and explain when what and why.
  8. Keep in touch. It’s not your customers’ responsibility to remember to do business with you. Let them know about what’s coming up, special offers, loyalty schemes. Provide more value to help them.
  9. Demonstrate your values. Display and explain them if relevant. Be charitable and the reasons behind your choices.
  10. Be energetic, can-do – say YES.
A group of people at a hen party
I don’t just cover mine in chocolate, but it helps!

If you want to get a head start in the customer service stakes adding chocolate into the mix is a great idea. If you want some more, try my 100 Ways to WOW.

What I learned from saying YES

What I learned from saying YES

Not long along I gave you 5 reasons to say NO, and here I am encouraging you to say YES!

Confusing, maybe? The thing is both are valid, and it will be about building confidence in your decision-making.  

Firstly, having a clear ‘why’ will matter the most, as that helps you decide if it’s worth your time or effort. Are you someone who gets a gut feeling about things? If you are, trust yourself and act accordingly. Sleep on something rather than make a snap decision and see what comes up the next day. Write out a list of pros and cons and make a proper evaluation.

Sometimes you just need to have a go – here’s what I learned from saying YES:

Grow your Confidence

I can't written on a piece of paper with someone cutting off the 't to read I can.

An opportunity presents itself and you immediately say no. That’s it, opportunity over, do you ever examine why that was your response?  

Are you scared of change?  

Do you find it easier to stay within what you know, and prefer never to challenge yourself?  

Many of us do prefer to play safe but say YES once in a while and you will be forced out of your comfort zone. We all know that’s where the magic really happens. 

In a toilet in a bar in Shoreditch the wallpaper read “your comfort zone will kill you” and while that’s a bit dramatic, there’s a lot of truth in that. You will find it does amazing things for your confidence in the end.

Hidden Opportunities

Once upon a time, there was a blog about sheds. I tweeted the guy responsible and told him I made chocolates in my shed, so what was the most interesting thing he’d discovered people doing in their sheds? He said I was pretty interesting and did I want to be featured on his blog. Yes please, I said!

Large shed in the garden with the double doors open

 A few weeks later I was contacted by The Sun newspaper and formed part of an article on what business people did in their sheds (they had seen my feature on the Shed Blog). Some months after that I was contacted by The Independent on Sunday and had a full-page feature on my shed for a gardening article.  

I also won an iPad for a social media competition using this story and of course gained credibility and awareness for my business.  

You will find a way

Someone makes a proposal to you. At the time of speaking to them, you don’t know how you are going to deliver what they are asking of you. If the answer is no, it’s job done, no further thought is required. Say yes and then your brain needs to work out a way.

It may be you need to have a conversation with someone who does know a way. They may be able to help, or certainly point you to where to find out more. A bit of research is undertaken. Sometimes it’s as simple and sleeping on it and in the morning you have a solution! Once you have said yes to something then you will find a solution – even if it’s not quite what was asked for in the first place!

New Possibilities

People at the forge.  Once hammering on an anvil and one in the fire on a team day experience

You simply can’t think of everything, even if you thought you have covered off all bases in whatever context that might be. I guarantee someone will ask you something that you had not considered. Is that a better option for you? Might it be something worth exploring further, a new avenue or offering?

When I started my chocolate business, I always intended to offer workshops to adults and children

I still do that to this day, but my events have evolved so much over the years. I’ve added in workshops specific to hens, schools, teams, customer service, running a business, and collaborations with my blacksmith hubby. Usually, because I’ve been asked by a customer to deliver a specific theme.   

Shiny new object syndrome is a real thing – you can end up going down the wrong path from time to time, but being open to explore new possibilities is worth consideration at least.

Good Vibes

Being willing to consider ideas, saying yes to opportunities creates a can-do positive attitude to life in general. I think that’s a really good thing.

What are you going to say YES to? Come and tell us your story.