by Emily Leye | Jan 3, 2023 | Advice, Business Tips, New Blogs
“Breaking Up is Hard to Do.” – Neil Sedaka
As small business owners that provide services, it’s safe to say that clients are critical to our livelihood. We invest money in marketing, assess pricing to incorporate overhead, contingencies, labour, professional services, and taxes, and join networking groups to meet possible clients.
It’s always exciting to start a relationship with a new client. Relationships, like everything else in life, have expectations. No matter how clearly defined the policies, procedures, and contracts may be, those of us who provide services to others are frequently met with unrealistic expectations, demands, a lack of boundaries from clients who expect service 24/7, and an attitude that because they are paying for a service, they should be “the boss” of the business relationship.
As business service providers, we strive for collaborative relationships in which we partner with our clients and their team members to ensure that we are all heading in the same direction. Of course, we want each of our clients to be successful! But because we are all human, there are instances when a relationship fails to succeed in the way we had hoped for, and a breakup is unavoidable. But breaking up is hard to do, Mr. Sedaka. We agree.
It’s inevitable – as a business owner – for you to encounter clients who are more trouble than they are worth.
We all have had experience with a difficult client or two. They are the ones who constantly question the work you perform for them, instigate conflicts with you or your team, put pressure on you to complete unrealistic tasks, and refuse or forget to give you the information you require. When the relationship becomes tumultuous, they may discredit your work, blame you, and even refuse to pay in some situations.
When a customer becomes more of a headache than a financial benefit, it’s time to make the difficult decision to end the business relationship. The following are five indicators that it might be time to fire a client. If you notice three of them, it’s time to take Ray Charles’ advice to “Hit the Road Jack” to heart.
#1. The client’s behaviour is unprofessional.
Actions such as using foul language, spreading rumours or gossip about colleagues (yours or theirs), sharing private and confidential emails, and disregarding your boundaries (which may lead to an insulting invasion of your personal time!) is a huge red flag. Perhaps they routinely reach out to you through your personal social media profiles with inappropriate messages. This could lead to additional stress that seeps into family relationships or negatively influences people within your circle. In this situation, there is reason to be concerned about slander and defamation of character; however, lean in to your own reputation that you have already built with integrity and put an end to unacceptable conditions.
#2. When a client’s poor behaviour and unreasonable demands divert your attention away from your company’s goals and timetable, you may find yourself neglecting your good clients and staff.
The difficult client who constantly contacts you about their newest drama or overreacts to trivial concerns can easily steal too much of your time. This is especially true when they anticipate a quick response or your opinion, thus dragging you into their chaos. Remember that your company will be more successful in the long run if you nurture your relationships with your fantastic clientele and show thanks to your excellent staff and team members more frequently.
#3. Money, money, money.
When a client refuses to pay an invoice for work completed and time spent, or when they decide to use it as a tool or form of leverage against something that has already occurred, it’s probably time to consider terminating them. You may choose to work harder to win their favour, beg them for payment, or suspend your services before taking the last resort of a collection agency. Neither action ensures that you will get paid, though. In the meantime, your cash flow is affected and trust within your business relationship has been broken. Perhaps the client consistently requires multiple reminders before they pay. This is also a time-wasting activity that contributes to the same negative results.
#4. The blame is getting out of control.
It is time to move on when the blame is always pointed at the service provider, and the client refuses to accept responsibility for misunderstandings, mishaps, or dropped balls within their team.
You may worry about the impending reality of lost revenue. It can be scary to say goodbye and part ways since there is a financial impact and the other person might turn hostile and spout vitriol in retaliation. A character assassination effort might be made. If you think about it, though, what is the actual price? Your tension, effort, and attention may be more expensive than you realize. When the time comes, sending a well-written letter or email of termination is the best way to go about it.
#5. Simply put, you catch yourself complaining about the client.
When is the right time?
- When you feel unhappy.
- When you don’t want to talk to them.
- When you procrastinate doing their work because you don’t want to spark interaction.
- When you see their email come into your inbox and you don’t want to read it.
When you reach this stage, it’s time to let them go.
Release the albatross! Think about the time you’ll get back and have available for clients who will interact professionally with you and value and respect your work.
Over to you
When you fire a problematic client, you have done the right thing for yourself and your business… no regrets! After the dust has settled, it’s a good idea to reflect on what went wrong while you were working with this client and consider what you can change to prevent it from happening again.
Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger
by Emily Leye | Dec 12, 2022 | Advice, Business Tips, New Blogs
Nonverbal communication is “the act of conveying information without the use of words.” It’s safe to say that nonverbal communication accounts for a large amount of our total communication. According to some researchers, the amount of nonverbal communication is four times that of verbal communication, with 80% of what we communicate through using our actions and gestures versus just 20% being conveyed with the use of words. (Source: Verywell Mind). In other words (no pun intended!), we can say a lot without saying anything out loud.
Our body language and other nonverbal clues convey a wealth of information to people in our daily lives. These signals reveal important information about our moods, thoughts, and emotions. And now that many of our professional interactions take place in “virtual” conference rooms, our nonverbal cues frequently speak louder than our words more than ever. You may not have even realized that your messages were largely transmitted through nonverbal clues before most communication migrated online. As video chats become the norm, you must make a concerted effort to consider the message you are delivering with your on-screen body language and presence.
Unfortunately, many people approach their virtual conferences far too informally, behaving in ways they would never do in person. Eating during a virtual call may be perceived as unprofessional and unpleasant, especially if you are not muted. And what are you saying if you keep turning off your camera? It could make people wonder what you’re doing that you suddenly don’t want us to see. Either way, it’s quite distracting! And if you don’t turn the camera on in the first place, it might seem like you just rolled out of bed and look terrible. That seems disrespectful, and we would never get away with being disheveled in a face-to-face meeting.
Here are some ways to help you develop trust and enhance engagement in the digital world.
#1. Maintain steady eye contact.
Align your gaze to the same horizontal level as your camera. If necessary, place a book underneath your laptop. Looking into the camera is the same as making direct eye contact. Since eye motions can be easily noticed, avoid looking down, away, or reading other items on the screen.
#2. Sit back from the camera so that all your gestures are visible.
Few people want to engage with a “talking head.” Check to see if your top torso is in the center and if your hands frequently extend beyond the screen. If they do, move the camera back even more.
#3. Remember to smile and nod when appropriate.
On-screen, it’s much more difficult to convey focused attention, so reinforce a positive presence and that you’re listening by smiling and nodding, just like you would in person.
#4. Sit up straight while leaning your head slightly toward the camera.
Avoid slouching in your chair since it makes you appear lazy or bored. When people meet in person, they may lean in to show interest in the speaker. The position you take at a virtual meeting is an excellent method to demonstrate a similar level of enthusiasm.
#5. Keep your hands away from your face and hair.
It’s downright distracting to watch as someone constantly touches their face or flips their hair, whether in person or a virtual meeting. There is also a widespread belief that people who touch their faces when responding to questions are dishonest. While this may not always be the case, it is better to refrain from playing with your hair or touching your lips or nose while on camera.
#6. Mirror the other speakers’ nonverbal cues.
To connect and comprehend one another, we instinctively use the powerful skill of mirroring. Mirroring the other speaker’s posture, gestures, and even the tone of their voice allows us to connect with them, even on virtual calls.
#7. Keep your background simple and quiet.
A sloppy background can give the impression that you are disorganized or uncaring. Some people use virtual backgrounds, but they can make a meeting feel even more “cyber.” Instead, the on-screen experience will feel more authentic if you participate in a tidy space at home and preferably one that does not display your bed. And finally, choosing a distraction-free space without outside noise, children, or pets will also help make the meeting run more smoothly.
#8. Prepare for potential interruptions.
When you’re working from home, occasional disruptions are inevitable. Other interruptions might include someone knocking, ringing the doorbell, or receiving a phone call. When you’re not speaking, one solution is to put yourself on mute. If an interruption is due to a child or pet, it’s also acceptable to politely excuse yourself when necessary because most people appreciate the needs of young children or pets. Be as professional as possible if you must leave the meeting unexpectedly.
Over to you
Remember that the adage “it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it” applies just as much in the digital world as in the real world. Now that you understand you need more than just your words to effectively convey a message, remember these simple ways to improve your nonverbal communication skills and enhance your next virtual meeting.
Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger
by Emily Leye | Nov 28, 2022 | Advice, Business Tips, New Blogs
“Despite the fact that they’re paid in another way, everybody has to really feel appreciated.” – Roger Staubach
In today’s workplace, many employees have one main requirement that’s higher on their lists than compensation; they want to be appreciated. They would like appreciation from their managers, supervisors, business owners, and perhaps even their customers.
What does it mean to feel appreciated at work?
It can be lonely at the top, and owners and management can occasionally feel worn out, fatigued, and overwhelmed. They also crave appreciation! It may be tough to show appreciation to others on your team if you do not feel respected as an owner, CEO, or manager. You want your employees to recognize the sacrifices you make to manage the business as you provide them with job security and flexible lifestyle options. At the same time, you hope your customers recognize and appreciate the excellent customer service they receive. It’s a vicious cycle.
In not-for-profit organizations for example, the front-line staff, especially the Executive Director, desire recognition. But the volunteer board members, who regularly put in excruciating hours, want the staff to recognize THEM. Sometimes, both sides end up feeling disregarded and misunderstood. What is supposed to be a win-win situation may end up being everything but.
Why is it important to make your people feel valued?
There may not be a one-size-fits-all strategy for ensuring that everyone (including the “boss”) feels valued; however, there are many benefits to feeling appreciated. Here are a few of them:
- Feeling appreciated at work can help enhance productivity.
- If you receive praise for your efforts, you will likely feel more productive in your position and be able to do more.
- You will cultivate a sense of belonging, which boosts your mood as well as the morale of your company.
- Feeling appreciated will help motivate you to achieve your own goals while boosting your confidence and that of your employees and customers.
How can managers help their staff feel appreciated?
Several years ago, Karen, the CEO of Mind Your Own Business, was on a “recognition team” at a previous job. As a gesture of gratitude to the workers, this team decided to bring donuts to work every Friday. She was surprised by the overwhelming number of folks who were offended because they were on a diet or couldn’t eat a donut for some other reason and felt excluded from the “appreciation.” Next, they tried including more people by ordering pizza for lunch. Once again, there was pushback; not everyone ate pizza, or they didn’t like the toppings, hated cheese, were lactose intolerant, or had scheduled that Friday off as a vacation day and missed “being appreciated.” It’s impossible to please everyone all the time. They eventually gave up, and the whole recognition team approach fizzled.
So, how can you make sure that your staff members feel valued and heard? Leaders and managers are both accountable for this. Giving employees meaningful experiences is a terrific place to start. Here are some ideas to consider:
#1. Create and manage a recognition program that is open to all staff.
Recognize your staff’s accomplishments and hard work to ensure they feel appreciated for their efforts. Begin by asking your people what kind of recognition they most want.
#2. Celebrate work achievements.
Celebrating professional development and career accomplishments is key. A new opportunity or achievement, such as a promotion or new skill development, or recognizing weekly wins, such as finishing a challenging project or getting a new client, are just a few of the many reasons to celebrate! These events will energize and motivate your people.
#3. Provide opportunities for learning, development, and growth.
Encourage your staff to stay and thrive inside your company. Allow them to learn new things and build new talents that will help them advance.
#4. Set aside time for your team.
Spending time with your people will help you build trust and connections with them. Seek to understand their ambitions and what they want to achieve in their jobs by getting to know them on a personal level. This will help them feel heard and respected as individuals.
#5. Show your appreciation by hosting company events.
Events are a great opportunity to show your people how much you appreciate them. Company events also allow staff to network, strengthen relationships, be recognized, and recognize others. Consider giving your team company swag as an additional way to show your appreciation.
#6. Keep a finger on the pulse of your organization.
Asking for feedback from your staff is a fantastic way to demonstrate that you value their thoughts and contributions, and it gives them a feeling of purpose, which builds a positive business culture. It is critical to provide a safe atmosphere for feedback, then acknowledge and act on it. Your approaches and tools should be consistent with your culture.
Over to you
As you can see, there are numerous advantages to having happy employees who feel appreciated and have a sense of belonging. Create significant moments that your people will never forget. Both your staff and the company will gain immensely in the long term!
Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger
by Emily Leye | Nov 15, 2022 | Advice, Business Tips, New Blogs
Here we go with holiday marketing again! We’ve been seeing it EVERYWHERE for weeks already. ‘Tis the season! We believe that businesses start planning for the following year’s campaigns while executing the current year’s marketing initiatives. In the past, you could begin your holiday marketing in December, but those days are long gone.
It’s only been a couple of weeks since Halloween and Santa is already in London Ontario! The battle for customer attention with a rally to boost year-end sales for 2022 has begun in full force. This is especially the case with brick-and-mortar retail. Restaurants are actively accepting bookings and aiming for sold-out crowds for the holiday season since many people are organizing family gatherings and office events.
With so many businesses vying for our attention, how can a small business capitalize on the holiday season and be the first one that comes to mind, even after the holidays are over? Before we begin, let’s discuss the importance of holiday marketing. Over the holidays, there are many opportunities for businesses to grow. Here are some ways those opportunities may present themselves:
- People often seek interaction more directly during holiday festivities.
- During the holiday season, there is an increase in demand for products or services.
- The holidays give businesses a chance to interact personally with their customers.
- It’s the perfect time to engage in branding initiatives that can encourage client loyalty.
- Seasonal holiday shopping periods are an ideal time to try new things and be innovative with your marketing approach.
How can small businesses leverage the holiday season to gain a competitive advantage?
Fortunately, there are more options than ever to keep your company at the forefront of customers’ minds. Here are a few things you can do to get started today.
#1. Post and advertise on social media.
It’s essential to provide quality content for your social media accounts at all times of the year. However, the holidays offer the chance to deliver useful material while also making it fun and festive! The objective is to create social media content that will put you on customers’ radars over the holiday season. Social media holiday contests or giveaways are also a good idea for driving engagement and raising awareness of your company! Another way to stand out on social is to mix up your content without always sharing sales or promotions. Instead, opt for publishing a team photo in Santa hats or a picture of your neighborhood decked out for the holidays to give your subscribers and customers a festive break!
When deciding which platforms to leverage for your holiday marketing initiatives, it’s important to evaluate where your target demographic spends their time on social media. Posting on the channels they frequent is the most effective approach to ensure they notice your holiday posts and ads. Start early to give customers adequate time for online orders and delivery before the holidays.
#2. Organize a value-added sales event.
Invite a large group of people to your store for an exclusive sales event on the same day and time, and let the crowd feed off each other. Everyone loves special holiday promotions! Another option is to hold exclusive crowd-controlled appointments at retail stores. This way, the staff can give the best customer service. Additionally, you’ll receive more purchasers through these appointments than browsers.
#3. Celebrate Small Business Saturday!
Every year, a promotion known as Small Business Saturday encourages customers to support local small businesses. This year, Small Business Saturday is on November 26th, 2022. There are various promotions, such as events, advertising, and public relations initiatives in many towns, so make sure your small business takes advantage of them. You can also participate on social media that day by using the hashtags #SmallBusinessSaturday and #FallinLovewithLocal. It’s an excellent approach to promoting your company over the holiday season. Visit https://www.smallbusinesseveryday.ca/ for more details!
#4. Decorate your website, too.
It’s always enjoyable to decorate for the holidays. Consider updating your website for the season with a holiday vibe as you spruce up your restaurant or retail space! Even if you don’t make digital sales, seasonal themes can help you imprint your company’s brand in the minds of customers. This is an excellent time to update your website and Google Business Profile with your current business hours, especially if you have a different holiday schedule. If you’re managing a restaurant’s website, be sure your online menus are up to date.
#5. Do door hangers still work? Yes, they do.
Team up with another business and share the cost by each of you advertising on one side of the hanger. Offer a discount or special deal code for ordering. There is still value in putting print advertising into the hands of your potential customers. Our client ordered hangers recently and was able to get thousands in his hands within a couple of weeks – a week for design and a week for ordering.
It’s also a fantastic time of year to give out logo swag! Throwing out a lovely pen or pad of paper is difficult. When potential clients are searching for you, you can make it easy for them with a nice little gift that helps keep your logo in their minds.
#6. Send them a card!
In this day and age, sending anything via “snail-mail” may feel weird. However, sending a physical holiday card can help your business stand out, especially since mail is so limited. Plus, many of us still value a physical token of appreciation. Send out your cards early and avoid a sales pitch. Simply being in the mailbox with a personal touch will make your clients happy!
Over to You
Holiday marketing for small businesses should be fun and does not have to be tough. Of course, we understand that many small business owners are extremely busy and lack the time to even think about holiday marketing. Why miss out on all the fun, not to mention the advantages of holiday marketing? We are here to assist – call or contact us today!
Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger
by Emily Leye | Oct 3, 2022 | Business Tips, New Blogs
Colours elicit emotions and evoke strong feelings, whether we are aware of it or not. It’s no different when it comes to choosing colours for your business. Choosing the appropriate colours for your marketing efforts could mean the difference between your brand standing out from or fading into the crowd. By strategically employing colour in your marketing, you may influence your audience’s perception of you and help them see your brand the way you want them to see it.
A few months ago, we shared a series of branding colour choices and the meaning behind each colour when it comes to your logo. Here is what we found:
Red is said to stimulate senses – including appetite! When designing with red, keep in mind the meanings behind it: energy, power & danger, passion, and love.
Orange is a friendly colour that offers youth, vibrancy, fun, energy, and enthusiasm. It combines the warmth of red with the playfulness and joy of yellow. As 99Designs notes, it is not typically associated with luxury.
Yellow is happy, fun, and youthful but it can also indicate low prices. Different shades of yellow can indicate different things: bright yellow is attention-grabbing and functions as a great brand accent (think McDonald’s, or Best Buy!) whereas a pale yellow may imply health or nature.
Green can take on many meanings. When it comes to eco-based branding, it’s a natural choice; it is the colour of leaves on the trees, healthy grass, and Spring gardens. Green is also associated with money offering an instant feeling of prosperity and stability. Many businesses will choose green because it incites action – green means go! We love green for all these reasons and chose it for our branding.
There are many different shades of blue which can offer different meanings. For example, light blue may invoke feelings of peace and relaxation (spas for example!) whereas dark blue often invokes depth and power. Many tech companies will use blue for their colours, as well as a number of social media networks! (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook…) Blue is one of the most popular and versatile colours when it comes to branding.
Purple is a unique colour when it comes to branding. It combines the energy of red with the calm of blue. This is one of the factors that contributes to it provoking mystery. Historically, purple is associated with royalty. Purple dyes were expensive and thus only royalty could afford them. Purple is also a colour associated with spirituality and holds special meaning in many religions.
In today’s marketing, pink is automatically thought of as girly, feminine and in many cases has become an indicator that “this is for women.” Pink also has a place in conveying fun, sweet, romantic, and sensitive messaging. Some companies that come to mind with pink branding are traditionally girly companies like Barbie, Victoria’s Secret, and sweet and delicious companies like Baskin Robbins and Dunkin Donuts!
Additionally, research demonstrates how important colours are and how they play a significant role in all our visual experiences. Here are some interesting facts:
- Colour increases brand recognition by up to 80 percent.
- 76% Believe that the use of colour makes their business appear larger to clients.
- 90% Feel colour can assist in attracting new customers.
Over to you
As you can see (no pun intended!), colour choice plays a crucial role in branding and design. The colours you choose for your brand can create certain impressions that might help or hurt your business. Just remember that colours influence customers’ perceptions and behaviours, so be mindful of how you use them in all your marketing!
Written by: Jennifer Hanford, MYOB Blogger
by Emily Leye | Sep 6, 2022 | Bookkeeping, Business Tips, Interview, New Blogs
On Thursday September 1st, our CEO, Karen Try met with Tyler Jeffery who is an Account Manager at The Business Development Bank of Canada [BDC]. In his role, Tyler works with small to medium-sized businesses to provide guidance and assistance in all areas of financial management so they may increase profitability and boost the value of their company.
The Business Development Bank of Canada [BDC] complements the charter banks and is a financial institution devoted to Canadian entrepreneurs. It is a Crown corporation that operates at arm’s length from their sole shareholder, the Government of Canada. The mandate of the BDC is to be the bank for all entrepreneurs, offering support for the business life cycle and making entrepreneurs’ well-being a priority. The BDC provides funding and advice to small and medium-sized firms in all industries and stages of growth.
Industries such as manufacturing, wholesale, construction, transportation, food, and beverages have been hit hard by the pandemic and have reached out when they have reached their line of credit. Because of flexible financing, advisory services, and smart capital, the BDC can often support businesses when charter banks cannot.
If you have additional questions about the BDC, you can visit their website: www.bdc.ca or contact Tyler directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. During their one-on-one, Tyler and Karen discussed various topics that small business owners may find useful. Read on to learn more.
Q&A with Tyler Jeffery
Q: What is the most common challenge that leads a small business owner to seek advisory services?
A: Business owners are good at what they do but often find they are lacking in financial management. Owners get consumed by the day-to-day business management. Tyler’s role is to assess the business’s current financial situation, identify gaps, and then help them to prioritize processes to improve cashflows and avoid financial pitfalls in the future.
The duration of the program is 8-12 weeks. During this time, Tyler advises his clients on the available funding opportunities, either in the form of financing at a reasonable interest rate or grants that are currently available. One example is the current grant referred to as the CDAP [Canada Digital Adoption Program] that was implemented by the government in January 2022. This grant helps small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) build their digital plan and adopt digital technologies to increase their competitiveness.
The CDAP covers items directly related to the digital plan, such as the following:
- Acquiring IT equipment
- Installation of new technologies
- Updating and/or expanding IT equipment
- Training staff on onboarded technologies
- Materials and support services directly related to onboarding the technology
- Further advisory services on particular aspects of the digital adoption plan
Q. Do you have general tips to help all business owners avoid financial pitfalls in their business?
A. The ability to analyze cash flows and maintain regular financial oversight is crucial for business owners. Developing financial acumen can reveal more opportunities to boost cash flow for a better and healthier organization.
Q. At what stage in a business’s life cycle would you recommend that a small business owner get in touch with you?
A. Tyler works with business owners at all stages of their business life. A new business owner that brings experience, a solid business plan, and cashflow projections can benefit from the services of the BDC. Generally, a small business would go to the BDC after 24 months in business with demonstrated growth and $250K – 350K (CAD) annual revenue.
Q. Since many small business owners relied heavily on rent and salary subsidies to survive the pandemic, they agreed to take out a loan that now must be paid back in full by the end of 2023. Can the BDC help those already cash-strapped businesses?
A. Where a chartered bank generally requires securities for lending, the BDC can be more flexible in financing a business with strong cash flow projections and a solid business plan. In other words, if a business is currently operating with positive cash flow and is solid overall, the BDC may be able to help as financing is typically more flexible.
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