BBJ Entry 020: The Dinner Party – Part 2

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Photo courtesy of Pexels

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

Last weekend was the premier of my newest workshop, First Contact: Engaging Potential Customers with the Heart of Your Business – YOU. The comfortable environment, a Zen-like living room at a local alterative health center, perfectly conveyed the tone that I had envisioned for the evening: an intimate and engaging dinner party.

I greeted each of the guests as they arrived, some I knew and some I would get to know throughout the evening. As we chatted before the workshop, we bonded quickly around a commonly shared topic: chocolate.

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BBJ Entry 018: Solo or Solution?

018 Photos courtesy of Pixabay and Pexels

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

Long ago, as a solo freelance writer just starting out, I quickly went on the hunt for what I thought were my primary revenue streams: direct customers. I did my best to get the word out that I was available. I informed all the people who knew me, and made cold-calls to lots of people who didn’t.

I tried this approach several times over the years, with the same results. I found no revenue streams, only a few trickles that always dried up quickly. I had hoped to embody the results I read from the stories of successful freelance writers. Instead, I embodied the phrase, “Nice work if you can get it” – which is why I was so skinny.

More recently, as a presentation consultant, I discovered that the solution to my business drought had come to me 26 years earlier from an unexpected resource: our wedding coordinator.

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BBJ Entry 017: Let Me Be Clear

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Photo by Janeke88

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

One of my favorite internet business experts, Ray Edwards, tells this story:

In his Master Mind group (a small team of like-minded business owners who meet regularly to help each other grow their businesses), Ray tried something new: instead of asking for advice on a specific issue, he told his group, “Talk about me and my business as if I wasn’t here. Discuss things I’m doing well, ways in which I could improve, and so on. I’ll just listen.”

What he got was a tremendous insight – not by what was suggested, but by what was asked. One of the members, who’d been a part of the group for years, shocked him by posing this question:

“What exactly does Ray do?”

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BBJ Entry 016: Not My Job

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[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

 

“Can you please help me?!”

I was a phone rep at a bank. Don was the father of one of our car loan customers. The customer, Lisa, had moved to Mexico shortly after buying her car. As a stipulation for the loan, customers were required to provide proof of insurance for their car. Since we had apparently not received proof from Lisa, the system automatically added our own insurance to her account, significantly increasing her monthly payment. This was the reason for Don’s call.

“I’ve sent in the documents I received from Lisa several times,” Don added in polite exasperation. “Every time I call, I get a different rep and can never get this resolved.”

Unfortunately, handling documents was not my job. There was nothing I could do as a phone rep.

So I changed my job title to customer service rep.

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BBJ Entry 015: Beauty or the Beast

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Photo by Emmy

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

 

While watching a business promotion video recently, it suddenly hit me: a fantastic idea for a new internet business. It incorporates my deepest passion, makes use of my favorite skills, is based on a simple but promising business plan, and targets a huge market.

“It’s a thing of beauty,” I told my wife.

“It’s a distraction,” my wife told me. In other words, she’d recognized a beast.

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BBJ Entry 014: “So Why Am I Here?”

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Photo courtesy of Pexels

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

I recently met with a potential new corporate client to discuss how my presentation consulting services might best help his team. Before I arrived, I reviewed the highlights of my method: creating a set of talking points based on the audience and a clearly defined topic; designing a slide deck to visually support the talk; and coaching for effective public speaking skills. I was ready to impress.

After the initial greetings and light chatting, my contact began the conversation. “Let me tell you what we’ve got currently,” he said. “We’ve been working with an outside presentation consultant for quite a while now.”

I see.

“He hosts all-day workshops on developing a set of talking points, designing a slide deck to support it, and coaching on public speaking skills.”

Imagine that.

“And he always does a great job for us.”

So why am I here?

I mentally checked my body language to make sure it wasn’t reflecting how I was feeling.

“With that in mind,” he wrapped up, “what sort of gaps do you think you could fill?”

In that moment, I had nothing.

*            *            *

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BBJ Entry 013: Ask and Ye Shall Succeed

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Photo by Jonathan Simcoe

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

 

“You have 3 months to get it right, or the deal’s off.”

This was the ultimatum a major client served us with when our software package turned out to be completely misaligned with their existing systems. While our development team worked frantically to meet the deadline, our training developer switched into snoop mode to find out what went wrong. The software team had designed and developed the package without ever asking about the customer’s needs. The team believed that since they knew the package better than anyone, they also knew what the customer needed better than anyone, including the customer.

That day, we found out they were wrong.

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BBJ Entry 012: Parlor Tricks

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An international tech firm I worked for bought a start-up that developed state-of-the-art test equipment. Their target customers were small telephone companies, known as telcos. The telcos were impressed with the new equipment – but never bought any. Despite the tech firm’s extensive marketing resources, the decision-makers apparently didn’t ask what their potential customers really wanted. The telcos’ own market was slow, so they said No to buying the new and better test equipment. Soon after, the test equipment division was closed down completely. There were a lot of lost jobs, and even a few tears from the original CEO.

Fortunately, as small business owners with far less resources than the big tech firm, there are some simple steps we can take to ensure that our own ventures don’t likewise sink into the mud.

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BBJ Entry 011: This Time, It’s Personal

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Left Photo by Gerd Altman        Right Photo by Kai Stachowiak

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

I opened the envelope and saw red.

For the 4th straight month, the cell phone bill was a mess. The revised plan we had requested several times was still nothing more than an empty promise. I grabbed my notepad and pen, dialed up the customer service department for the 6th time, and prepared for yet another 75-minute phone call.

This had to end. I couldn’t grow my own business while trying to fix theirs. I quickly prepared a get-it-right-or-else speech, armed with the most effective communication techniques I could think of for the situation. This was truly going to be a passionate presentation from the heart. It was time to get mean.

Then I had another idea.

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