Posts Tagged ‘business’

When it’s Time to Retire

March 15, 2018

RetireYou’ve worked hard for many years and its nearly time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. Retirement! Some people talk about it all the time and others insist that they will never leave work, but too few people talk about what their plans actually are. I don’t mean saving money – I’m fairly certain you’ve done that. I’m also not talking about the trips you’re planning or the pastimes you hope to catch up on. I’m talking about what you’re leaving behind at work.

Some people talk about it all the time
and others insist that they will never leave work

Where do your clients go? Have you given any thought to who will be taking on your clients? Are you handing them all to a junior partner or another colleague? Not so fast – unless you are incredibly specialized, your client list isn’t “one size fits all.” It may be wise to divide your client list into different groups and consider which of your peers is best suited to handle the needs of each. Have a few different people in mind. Your clients will appreciate this extra care and attention.

Have you given any thought to who
will be taking on your clients?

What happens to your business? Maybe you are a small operation. Maybe you have a small staff. Regardless, you have some sort of entity that you are moving on from. Is your business something that you can sell? Will that decision serve your clients? Perhaps you share your firm with other colleagues who might may wish to “buy you out.” Family businesses have their own unique considerations; are your relatives ready to take on what you’re leaving behind? Whatever your situation, think carefully about how your business survives this transition – assuming that it continues after your retirement, at all.

Family businesses have their own unique
considerations; are your relatives ready to
take on what you’re leaving behind?

Are you really looking to stop working entirely? Or do you just want to scale things back? There’s no harm in simply reducing the hours that you work. Yes, you might want to either transfer some of your clients, or find someone to relieve you of some of your responsibilities. But you might also want to keep a hand in the game in order to maintain your income or just remain active. Whatever your reason, making that extra time can be done in whatever way suits your needs.

Retirement takes many forms. Like a sculptor looks at a block of marble or a mound of clay and produces a work of art, so must you look at your professional life and decide how to transform it into your retirement. It bears careful consideration and planning so that you may fully enjoy the result.

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New Beginnings, Dos and Don’ts

January 31, 2018

Blog Image

Getting to know a new community

Have you relocated to a new area, new town, or even a new neighborhood within your city? If your career or business has moved with you, you may go through an adjustment period. Some Dos and Don’ts to bear in mind:

DO go out to lunch. You’ll learn a great deal just by observing your new environment. If the weather is nice, maybe take your lunch to the park. If it’s rainy and you have a time crunch, grab a cup of coffee and do a little grocery shopping during your lunch hour. Your observations can teach you a great deal about the people in your community. Also: bulletin boards at cafes, restaurants, and grocery stores will have tips on local activities and organizations.

DON’T hide online. Of course your business has a presence on social media, but there’s no exchange rate between a “like” or a “tweet” and being an actual presence in your new surroundings. If you are going online, augment your time with accounts on Meetup.com and Nextdoor.com. Meetup.com is a great resource for real life networking with people and professionals in your area. Nextdoor.com is a private social media feed that helps you encounter people who live in your immediate vicinity. Both are excellent ways to help you get to know your new home.

DO be an active parent. Attending school events with your kids is an excellent opportunity to make new connections and a low-key way to let people know what you do for a living. It’s like being a doctor – you mention it once at a party, and pretty much everyone has a sore throat they want you to look at. Maybe someone you meet doesn’t have an immediate need for your service, but they may remember you and tell their friends and family who do – especially if you make a great impression.

DON’T have expectations. While you probably researched your move, your new community may surprise you. If you are moving from an urban area to a more rural one, or vice versa, you might find that certain customs or norms – things you took for granted – may no longer be in play. Be aware and improvise.

DO say “Good Morning.” It may seem corny, but people will enjoy a warm, friendly “Good morning” when you pass them, or a “Good afternoon” later in the day.

As you get your bearings, remember to focus first on listening and observing. Keep an open mind, avoid snap judgments, and take some time to get the “lay of the land.”

Working From Home When the Big Snow Comes

December 13, 2017

December

The heavy weather is coming. While that may be big business for The Weather Channel, it’s not so great for getting to and from the workplace. Rather than risking the big commute, you might want to spend a day or two working from home, if you are able. Here are some rubber-meets-the-road ideas for when the highways are icy…

  1. Be sure that all your household work is done before focusing on business tasks. Get the laundry and the dishes finished in the morning or the night before. Seeing tasks in need of completion around the house might motivate you toward productivity of a different kind.
  2. Heavy weather can mean power outages, internet blackouts, and other disruptions of the tools we take for granted. If your power is out, make an effort to keep the day productive anyway. Reach out to nearby clients and contacts. Chances are they are snowed in, too. It’s a good opportunity to be neighborly, ask if they need a hand, or just catch up a bit. There may be volunteer opportunities in your vicinity that you could take part in, too.
  3. Social Media outreach is key. If folks have power and are at home, you can bet that they are going to be online. Today might be the day for an extra post or to find a couple of relevant articles to share.
  4. Catch up on the detail work. Since you’re unlikely to make a meeting, it would be a great time to update your contacts and consider how you’re going to be reaching out to them this year.

For those last two points, Marketing.Pro might be the best thing to happen to you on a Snow Day. All of your contacts in one easy-to-use interface. Why not sit down and schedule the next year’s worth of outreach? It’s simple with MarketingPro’s onboard automation tools and a huge library of content at your fingertips, including social media posts, letters, eNewsletters, financial articles, greeting cards, postcards, and more.

Four Ways to Strengthen Your Client Relationships

November 16, 2017

November

We’re all looking for ways to turn client relationships into a lifetime of mutually beneficial business. For some, it seems to come naturally. But best practices require conscientious effort from the naturals as well as the newbies. While by no means a comprehensive list, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Accentuate the Positive
While it may sound corny, maintaining a positive attitude is incredibly helpful. Imagine you’re going to see your insurance agent. When do you go see them? When you buy a policy, when you make changes, and most importantly when you need to take advantage of that insurance. Not all of these are good days, so knowing that your relationship is with a positive person who builds a real connection with you is helpful. The same thing works in reverse, so keep it positive.

Build and Share Knowledge
If this seems like another no-brainer, you’re probably already on the right track. You have to know what you’re talking about and convey it correctly. This is more than just what you’re offering. Keeping up to date will not only help you serve clients better, it will also provide ways to stay ahead of the curve, and anticipate their needs.

On the Spot
When a client calls or emails you, respond as soon as you can. Be someone they feel they can turn to anytime, and show them you value their business by providing prompt replies. Become a presence in your clients’ lives, not just a voice on the phone or a person who returns emails. Do you Skype? That can help, if an in-person meeting isn’t possible or convenient for them. Be present and helpful, whenever possible.

Give It Time
If you think about your closest friends and confidants – maybe your spouse or partner – your connection took time to reach the point of trust. The same is true of your professional relationships. The thing to keep foremost in your mind is that the good work that you do will be the bedrock those relationships are built upon. Be the person that you would want to have working for yourself and, with a little patience, you can build lifelong client relationships.

 

Five Referral Secrets

January 28, 2014

Referrals can be so important to your practice. If you’re not sure how to get them, or what to do once you have them, hopefully these tips can help. If you’ve had a little experience in this area, this may be a good refresher for you. I’m labeling this a list of referral “secrets,” but the truth is that once you make them your practice, you’ll think of them as common sense.

Leaders Don’t Have to Ask for Referrals
Don’t be the person who confuses “leadership” with being arrogant. You likely had someone in some aspect of your life who you’ve looked up to as a trailblazer and a leader; they led by being an example and by becoming a hub for professional activity. Organizing groups, events, and being the sort of professional with a reputation for bringing people together is the sort of thing that will cause your colleagues to want to make referrals to you, unsolicited, because getting people in touch with you will make them seem connected and important by extension.

Follow Up the Next Day
Would you buy fresh bread, leave it untouched on the counter for a few days, and be shocked to find it growing stale or moldy? Referrals don’t stay fresh forever, either. Strike while the iron is hot. Following up quickly shows that you value your referrals and that you’re attentive when it comes to building business. The referral will see that you’re on task, and the person who gave you the referral will appreciate your attentiveness. Don’t leave it on the shelf!

Remember… Referrals Are People
Don’t give your colleague a name and number on a slip of paper. When giving a referral, you’re making an introduction between two people, so be sure to have information about that person handy to replay to your colleague. Inform them about their family, their professional life, and their interests. Conversely, when you get a referral, be full of questions about this person; ask anything you might want to know. Everyone has a story, and part of your job is to learn that tale.

Closing “Tricks” are for Amateurs
You might see the blogs and videos online with so-called business gurus offering you the sort of “Jedi Mind Tricks” designed to turn a referral into a business contact. Far be it from me to argue with success, but this sort of thing feels like a hollow victory, and more than a little disrespectful. Your business is in people, not symbols on a spreadsheet. Build your business on substantive human interactions and integrity rather than flimflam and illusions. There’s a reason stage magicians “retire” their tricks after a while; people figure them out and get tired of seeing them.

Ask Questions
I think this is a good tip for life in general, not just in dealing with referrals. Building any kind of relationship requires personal knowledge. Make it your goal in every conversation to learn something new.