How to Fix It When Things Go Wrong

What to do when things go wrongWhen things go wrong it’s so easy to blame someone … anyone … but yourself.

It can’t possibly be your fault … you didn’t do anything wrong … the wheels are all falling off because somebody else did something wrong … he (or she) made a bad choice and now you have to pay for it … they didn’t do the right thing and now you have to suffer … and on and on and on.

Blaming someone else is so easy … it takes no effort … it absolves you of all wrong doing … it’s painless and quick and takes away all the responsibility. You can complain … you can grumble … you can be the martyr … because it’s not your fault.

“Poor fella me … I didn’t do anything wrong but now I have to pay the cost (whatever that might be) of making things right. Feel sorry for me … I deserve your sympathy.”

It’s a lament that we often hear because blaming other people has become a national pastime. It’s something that we all do and we always want to tell anyone who will listen just how hardly done by we are because someone … anyone but me … made a mistake.

The only problem with that approach is that, by blaming someone else, you’re compounding the problem. You’re making it worse, you’re missing the quickest solution, you’re doing more damage to yourself, your business and to your relationships with those around you.

Accepting responsibility is the first step to making things right

You can only start to make things right … to recover from the mistake and move forward … when you accept responsibility for what you did to cause that mistake in the first place.

That’s something that I’m being reminded of right now. A problem has cropped up and my first inclination was to blame someone else and for over a week I kept thinking that I was right to do that.

How could it have possibly been my fault … I wasn’t even involved.

Fortunately I didn’t have to air my views on who was to blame to anyone … at least not right away. I knew that I would have to do that sooner rather than later and if I did the situation was likely to get a whole lot worse … but that was ok because it wasn’t my fault. It was some other guy’s fault and, as things would get progressively worse, it would continue to be his fault.

That made me feel pretty good. I was blameless … I could take the high ground and rest in the knowledge that it wasn’t my fault.

The only thing that bothered me was what I might be left with when the dust settled and the situation was finally resolved. Whenever I thought about the possible outcomes all I could see was a mess that could never be repaired … and that was definitely not an outcome that I was comfortable with …

… and then there was this niggling little voice in the back of mind that was telling me that the whole situation really was because of a decision I had made a long time ago.

Years ago I made a decision that I thought was the right decision to make in the circumstances and for years everything that flowed on from that decision was good. Even now I am sure that the decision I made was probably the right one.

Looking for immediate wins can have unwanted consequences years later

I have to admit that I hadn’t thought that decision through all that well. Back then I was only looking for an immediate win and not thinking of what might happen in years to come. Even if I had been thinking that far in advance I would not have foreseen anything like the situation that has arisen.

But now that I’ve woken up to the fact that my decision back then has brought me to facing this current situation … that this situation is my fault … I know what to do to fix the problem.

I know that there doesn’t have to be a bad outcome. I know that if I take the blame for what has arisen … if I don’t try and pass it off on someone else … the situation will be resolved and the outcome will be a much different outcome to what it will be if I keep on blaming someone else.

So if you have issues that have arisen in your business don’t look to blame someone else. Follow the trail back to the original decision that lead to this problem arising and see who started it all … and the chances are that that person will be you.

Why go back to your ancient history?

But why go back to what might be ancient history? Why not just suck it up and get on with life? Because back there, in that original decision that has lead you to where you are now, are the seeds of what will help you overcome the problem and turn a mess into a win.

It may bruise your ego … you may feel as though you have egg on your face … but it’s the only way to really move everything forward.

The Two Most Important Emails You Will Ever Receive

there are two emails that you should never ignoreIf you’re running an online business or a business that has an online presence, then there are two emails that are the most important emails you will ever receive.

The first is the email that arrives to remind you that you need to renew your domain name.

The second is the email that arrives every year to tell you that you need to pay for another year’s hosting for your website.

Those two emails are almost certainly the most important emails that you will ever receive because, if you ignore either of them, your website disappears and yet so many small business people either ignore them totally or simply fail to take them seriously.

So many small business people ignore these emails

Hardly a week goes by in our office without at least one phone call from a client who complains that their email has stopped working, their website has disappeared or there is something about being suspended appearing where their website used to appear.

Some think that they’ve been hacked while most of the others are keen to blame us for doing something terrible to their website.

Some of them get quite upset when we explain that their problem has arisen because they haven’t paid an account. They seem to think that hosts and domain name registrars should carry them until they get around to paying their account … or that we should pay these accounts for them and wait for them to pay us.

Unfortunately the world doesn’t work like that and never has. If you don’t pay your accounts then you are expecting others to carry your business. You’re basically saying to them that you want to go on making money at their expense.

And yet some businesses expect to be carried, they don’t believe that they should have to pay their accounts on time. They certainly expect it of those who owe them money but they don’t believe that they have the same obligation to keep their accounts up to date.

Ignore them and the consequences can be dire

So don’t ignore those two most important emails when they turn up. Don’t forget about them or hope that some benevolent web host or domain name registrar will carry you till you get around to paying the bill because they won’t.

If you don’t pay for your domain name then it will expire and no one will be able to see your website. If you still haven’t paid it after 30 days your domain name will go back on sale and someone else can buy it and then where will you and your business be?

If you don’t renew your hosting then your website is taken offline the moment the hosting becomes due. It’s automated and it happens in the blink of an eye. If you still don’t pay your account your website will be deleted and all the files, all the databases, will be gone.

How will your business function then?

 

That’s why I can say that the account for your domain name and the account for your hosting are the two most important emails that you will ever receive.

If you ignore them and don’t pay those accounts your business could take a hit that it will never recover from and I’m sure that you don’t want that.

Do You Need a Big Name to Promote Your Business?

influencer marketingDo you need a big name to promote your business or product? A recent survey in the US by Altimeter found that 71% of marketers rate influencer marketing as a strategic or highly strategic area of marketing.

So what is influencer marketing?

One definition is that “influencer marketing focuses on using key leaders to drive your brand’s message to the larger market. Rather than marketing directly to a large group of consumers, you instead inspire / hire / pay influencers to get out the word for you.”

Is there a better way than paying someone to talk about your business or product?

But does that really work? Well it certainly does seem to be a way of getting your message out to lots of people that you may struggle to reach but does that really encourage people to buy your product?

Katrina McCarter, a leading expert on marketing to mums suggests that finding big names to promote your business … and that includes things like celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing … does not work if you’re trying to sell something to the most powerful consumers on the planet.

Wives and mothers are the ones who control the money in most households. They are the ones who have the final say in whether or not a purchase is made … and they’re not fooled by celebrity endorsements or influencer marketing.

They know that most of the people who are promoting a product are being paid in some way to do that promotion. They know that most of those people who are promoting a product probably wouldn’t even think of it if the maker of the product hadn’t contacted them and sent them one to review.

The most effective form of marketing may not cost you a cent!

So what does work when it comes to promoting a product to those who control the money? A simple heart-felt message from a genuine buyer does more to encourage a person to buy a product than any celebrity endorsement or influencer marketing.

A genuine testimonial from a wife or mother who has bought your product, and is clearly satisfied with it, and the sharing of that testimonial, will do far more for your sales than all the celebrity endorsements and influencer marketing that you can afford.

You won’t have to pay a cent for that genuine testimonial and the word-of-mouth marketing that may follow.

If you want to read more about marketing to wives and mothers I suggest you get a copy of “Marketing to Mums” by Katrina McCarter. While the book talks about what she calls “Australia’s most powerful consumer” the same principles apply to every western country.

 

Reaching Small Business Owners Who Don’t Know

reaching small business people who don't knowHere is an interesting puzzle.

How do you reach out to small business people across the country … and even around the world … who need help but who:

 Don’t listen to podcasts – they don’t even know what a podcast is.

Don’t know how to search Google to get the results they need.

Are so computer illiterate that they rely on their kids (who know a lot about Facebook but very little about searching the Web) to find any information they need and

Who may have such poor Internet connections that even getting online is difficult.

Are there really people like that and should we waste our time reaching out to them?

Well, for some reason Toni and I seem to run into people like this all the time and we think that it’s very important to reach out to these people and try to help them.

These small business people fall into three categories:

They are finding it almost impossible to get a job so they think that working for themselves is an easy solution.

They have a job but desperately want to run their own business or

They have had a job but are now retired and need to supplement their pension with some form of part-time business.

They come from a range of educational backgrounds, their ages vary from young adults to very old and their skillsets vary widely and there is no one out there that really does want to help them.

Small business people are failing because no one cares

Sure, these people fall into the small business category and there are lots of experts, gurus and key persons of influence out there who make a living from “helping” small business but these people who want to help either don’t know … or don’t want to know … about the very small end of their potential market.

Just last week one of the better-known small business gurus in this country posted on Facebook about a new initiative by one of the major telcos or banks that was designed to help small business grow.

I think it’s a great initiative but when I asked him on FB if there was anything in this new initiative for the smallest end of small business he blew me off with a derisory comment about how these people could find what they needed to know by using Google.

And of course he is right … they could if they had the skills and the decent internet connections to spend time searching for what they don’t know that they don’t know.

In many ways what he said to me was similar to the French Queen who suggested that, when the general populace was running out of bread, they could always eat cake.

Our thought leaders are out of touch

I guess it just goes to show how out of touch with reality some of our small business experts, gurus and key persons of influence really are. They don’t seem to realise that there are lots of people out there who have started a small business but have missed important steps along the way.

“What’s an ABN?”
Take for instance one client here in Australia who came to us just this last week. This client has already invested thousands of dollars in her business and yet she now finds that she has hit a wall because she didn’t know that she had to register for what is known as an Australian Business Number (ABN).

Every small business here in Australia needs an ABN and without one you can’t register an Australian domain name … you will have issues if you want to start a bank account for your business … and there are tax issues if you don’t have one.

Applying for an ABN isn’t too difficult … if you know where to go online to lodge your application.

“I don’t own a mobile phone yet.”
Another person came to us a few months ago because she had begun investing money in a new business that was going to require her to have a major online presence. Sadly she knew absolutely nothing about doing any sort of business online … she barely knew how to use a computer … and she thought she could do it all from her mobile phone.

But before she could do that she was going to have to buy her first mobile phone.

How successful will she be if she can’t use the tools that she will need to run her business?

“I’ve got to drive down to the front gate to get a signal on my phone.”
Late last year we finished a website for a couple who had started a new business selling specialised items to the construction industry. They needed the website to showcase their products and to provide a point of contact for people who wanted to buy their products.

There were no problems there until we discovered that there is only a very patchy Internet connection where these people live. There is no phone line, no hope of better wifi and no provider who could set them up with a satellite connection either.

They must drive quite some distance down to the front gate of their property just to get enough phone reception to make a phone call so how are they going to reach out in a reasonable time to any clients that might come their way?

And how are they going to update their website? Yes, they wanted to do their own updates.

Real issues the “experts” don’t want to know about

These are all issues that you don’t encounter in cities and major towns. These are not issues that the experts, gurus and key people of influence encounter and yet it is very much a part of small business outside of major population centres … a part of small business that these experts don’t want to know about because it’s all too hard to find a way to work with these people.

It’s easier to ignore them and hope that they will just go away … but of course these people are not going away. The smallest end of small business is actually growing at a huge rate as the way we work and the way we are employed changes.

Many of those experts are quite vocal in telling people that the world is changing and within 10 years many of the jobs that exist today will be gone and people will be self-employed … but the experts don’t want to know about those people who don’t know what they don’t know.

They don’t know how to reach out to people who don’t know what they don’t know and don’t know where to look for the answers so it’s easier to pretend they don’t exist. It’s easier to ignore them than to find a way to reach out to them.