WOW eNewsletter

Vol 6 Iss 6 Jun 2011

Quote of the Month

"Success seems to be connected with action. Successful people keep moving. They make mistakes, but they don't quit." - Conrad Hilton



Was that a hiccup I just heard? Yes, even the large corporations experience down times. Take for example the recent headline dated May 16, 2011, "PSN working after hiccups, says Sony." Did Sony quit; did they give up and go hide under a rock when they launched the new Online PlayStation? Not only did they have one hiccup, but two in a row!


On Saturday, Sony announced that after almost four weeks its entire portfolio of online games, game forums, and Web sites would go back online. After service resumed in the Americas, Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and the Middle East, however, heavy traffic on the network caused it to be inaccessible again. Sony said it had to "turn the service off for 30 minutes in order to clear the queue" of too many password resets submitted at once.[1]


So, what can you do to keep your business on track when you too experience a dreaded case of hiccups? Don't give up the ship! There is always your waiting public, those customers and clients who faithfully cheer your return as did the Sony customers who, themselves, unknowingly caused the second hiccup. Keeping this fact in mind will help you continue to seek solutions.


To avoid some of the hiccups other business start-ups have experience who have gone before you I will list a few things that you can and should do at the appropriate time.


1. To Inc. or not to Inc.?


When you first start your company your focus should be on getting off the ground. Once you have a stable business and you can afford to there will be plenty of time to consider whether you should become a corporation, LLC, or simply a DBA. Each has it's own advantage so, consult a competent attorney to help guide you. But do consider protecting yourself and your family when the time is right.


2. Get to know your customers


Your customers are the best source of information. Do you know why they use your services? What are their wants and what are their needs? Did you know there is a difference? They will be happy to help you to find out what service you should be offering them. Ask them. E-mail, surveys, or even a phone call will do the trick.


3. Hire competent help


As your business begins to grow you need to learn to let go. Hire your competition. Often those whom you have come across in your business development path who have similar skills are thought to be the enemy. They are NOT! They are potential partners for you. Rather than stunting your business growth by trying to 'do it all yourself', consider outsourcing some of your workload for a small referral fee. On the other side, why not let your competition know you are available if their plate gets too full.


4. Be prepared


Know that in business you will experience lulls as well as challenges. Being ready with a backup plan already in place will help ease these situations immensely. Sometimes, this means a monetary backup and sometimes a procedure. Either way, these should be plans set in place prior to the event.


A good rule of thumb, on the financial side, is to have three months working capital set aside in case of an unforeseen expenditure arises.

When I was in the medical field I often referred to the hospital or business procedure manual. This is something that every business owner should develop. If something unforeseen happens to you what would happen to your 'baby'? So, at the very least, write a procedure manual if not a policy manual as well.


5. Ask and you will receive


Get payment upfront; at least a deposit. No matter what you buy online you always have to pay for it before it ships. So, what makes your business any different? Your customers are used to having to pay first. Therefore don't be afraid to ask for a retainer, deposit, or even full payment prior to providing them your product or service.


If your business offers services, consider developing an ongoing relationship with your customers. Set up a contract for services on a reoccurring basis for a discount. That way, each month you can count on a steady income. This also lets your customers know your business is sustainable and professional.


6. Manage your relationships


Show your customers they are valuable to you. Always communicate in a polished, professional manner. Sure you can laugh with them, be friendly and open, but don't spill your challenges onto them, unless you are seeking their advice or help.


When was the last time you simply said, "Thank you" to your customers? After your first business transaction is complete do you just go on to the next or do you take the time to send a note of thanks? In today's instant gratification society, we often forget that snail mail has more impact than does e-mail. Consider sending a REAL card, rather than an e-mail. Send-Out-Cards is the program I use to do this. I can easily maintain a database of customers and for a fraction of the cost for the card and of the time to go shopping I can send out numerous types of cards at the click of my mouse button. If you don't have an account yet I can refer you to a representative that would be happy to give you a free trial run.


7. Tackle problems head-on


This is part of managing your relationship. However, this is also one of the most important things any business owner needs to do to continue to flourish. I remember a time when I had an issue with a customer who didn't like what they received from my design services. They had asked for work to be done a certain way, which took me extra trouble to create because it went against the norm. I had to spend time searching for a whole new program that would allow me to give them what they asked for. Learn that new program and design their product. Once they saw it in print they were very upset. I was supposed to know what they meant and this wasn't it.


Well, rather than argue and avoid this person, I offered to redo the work and refund their printing cost. They said that wasn't necessary, but I knew it was the right thing to do. So, we agreed that I would give them back half their printing cost and do the layout again for free. After all, the way they wanted it was the standard way of doing things and was a whole lot easier than what they originally received.


Now I have a valuable customer and they have not only been back for additional work, but they have become one of my best referral sources.

So, the next time you have an unhappy customer why not turn it around? Listen carefully and do the right thing. You too may develop this customer into one of your raving fans.


8. Know when to draw the line


Develop a work/life plan. Find a balance that you and your family can live within. Devote the time to develop your business without losing focus of your family's need for your time as well. When you forget you have a family not only does your family suffer, but you do as well. You need refreshing and your family needs to know you haven't forgotten they exist.


Be firm about your business time too. Set a schedule and rules that fit your need. Tell your family when you are on the phone to respect your conversation and you will respect theirs when they are on the phone too. A business owner with a crying child in the background or a harping teen is no way to do business. Set some ground rules and abide by them.


In closing I offer one last word of advice. Be ready for change. Nothing is ever constant. So, as your market changes, as it most certainly will, be ready and willing to change with it. As your business develops you may find you need to add or remove services. For example, I started DocUmeant years ago as a writing service. I now have three businesses with a focus on design and publishing.


Wherever your business takes you, listen to your customers, offer them the services they need, and enjoy the ride.




[1] PSN Working After Hiccups, says Sony,Erica Ogg, Circuit Breaker, May 16, 2011 Accessed: May 30, 2011

© Copyright 2011 Ginger Marks


Ginger Marks is the founder of the DocUmeant Family of Companies, We Make YOU Look GOOD! For more information, visit Her 2011 annual edition of Holiday Marketing Guide, Your business-marketing calendar of ideas is now available at



Tip of the Month

Chose to Succeed

Failure presents and option. Either give in to it or go through the opening door.

Until next month...