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Monthly Archives: April 2017

Why Henry Ford’s Most Famous Quote is Dead Wrong

Why Henry Ford’s Most Famous Quote is Dead Wrong

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Most folks are aware of my love for Harley Davidson motorcycles. Most folks know Henry Ford was a 4-wheeled entrepreneur, but they may not know he was involved in Harley Davidson’s formative years. And being from the south where “Spanish Moss” grows heavily, I have a quirky tickle that Ford used this natural resource to stuff his automobile seats. And so, when I saw Henry Ford in the title of this article, I had to click it and read more. In particular, I found this paragraph thought provoking:

“While your customers may not know the form factors available to them (that’s where you as a business can innovate), they often understand their problems, or can, at minimum, communicate enough information so that you can use customer feedback appropriately to grow your business.”

As an Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, my clients come to me knowing they need help in this, that, or the other area; yet they don’t always know what’s involved in making their vision come to life. This is actually the best part of my job – taking a client’s vision and surprising them with exceptional results they didn’t even know were possible.

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Henry Ford was one of the world’s great innovators and a quotable gentleman at that, particularly in the realms of business and innovation. Perhaps the most famous quote attributed to Ford is this: “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”

While there’s no real proof Ford ever said this, the words are still applied to him as proof that true innovation is done without customer input. But, even if one of the most successful businessmen in American history had said it, it wouldn’t make the maxim any more applicable.

In fact, customers would probably have told Ford exactly what they wanted — specifically, a faster mode of transportation. They might not have mentioned the need for a combustion engine, but that’s part of the art and science of understanding customer feedback.

While your customers may not know the form factors available to them (that’s where you as a business can innovate), they often understand their problems, or can, at minimum, communicate enough information so that you can use customer feedback appropriately to grow your business. Here’s how.

Ask good questions.

Often, customers know what they want, but don’t know how to articulate it. So, ask specific questions that allow you to glean insights to use for your innovation. For example, using multiple-choice questions (with an option for “other” and space to write in an answer) is a good way to survey your customers. Studies show that giving a customer too many choices often nets you poor feedback, but it’s also important to give them the opportunity to bring up something you haven’t anticipated.

You should also ask about their personal or business problems. If you are selling and innovating with technology for small businesses, don’t ask features-based questions, because most small business customers aren’t thinking about technology features. They are trying to make more money, save time, save costs, etc. So, ask questions around their problems and then bridge the gap with your innovation — much like Ford did.

Study behavior and numbers.

Numbers and behavior are more reliable feedback indicators than words alone. If your customers say they love a product in green, but they keep buying blue, stick with the blue. Be relentless in studying your data and behaviors to make sure that their words match their actions.

Beware of the vocal minority.

While it’s important to look at feedback, including from online channels and customer service, you need to delve into who is giving that feedback. For example, if you are getting posts about a problem, make it’s a real problem. If it doesn’t exist, ignore it.

The same goes for wants. A handful of people may be squeaky wheels about a personal want, but that doesn’t mean the broader base of customers wants it, so do more research.

Also, check for minions. Are the same group of people always asking for something or complaining together? If so, they may be just a co-dependent group of trolls. If you are seeing different customers giving feedback and input around the same issues, that is more likely to be reliable than many posts or asks from the same group of people. The exception to this is when the group is considered influential among your customer base.

It’s usually a good trick to solicit your feedback through private polls instead of public ones so your community isn’t swayed by the vocal minority.

Sample a relevant group.

Reach out to your best existing and desired target customers to get a broader scope of feedback. If you aren’t sure what your customers think, ask a meaningful number of them. Shockingly, customers are more likely to give you feedback if you actually ask them (and if they feel like offering it will ultimately benefit them). But, make sure that they are truly buyers — if responders aren’t going to buy your product, their responses don’t help you or them.

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Posted by on April 24, 2017 in Entrepreneurship

 

5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

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5 Habits of Successful People Before 8 a.m.

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I found this article and while it has some useful information, I do believe that effective habits are not “one size fits all”. As an Online Business Manager and Virtual Assistant, I practice these basic habits but with a little different approach. I hope you find value in these tips and tweak them for your own success.

The difference between successful people and everyone else is the way they utilize time. With only so many hours in a day, you need to maximize those hours. The best of the best are up early and getting to work before their peers have rolled out of bed. So, what are the top five habits of successful people before 8 am?

1. Use a real alarm clock.
You might look at this tip and wonder what difference it really makes. A real alarm clock forces you to get out of bed. For example, if you use your phone as an alarm clock all you have to do is reach over and press the screen. Unsurprisingly, most people take five more minutes.

But if the alarm clock is on the other side of the room, you’re forced to get out of bed. Furthermore, using a real alarm clock discourages you from checking social media and wasting precious time.

I don’t know about you but I haven’t owned a ‘real alarm clock’ in ages. I do use my iPhone as an alarm, not only for waking up, but as extra insurance to really important meetings, calls, or actions I need to take. I set my alarm 15 minutes before I dedicate my foot to hit the floor. Yes, I do snooze but I am not falling back to sleep. I use a tone that is loud enough to wake me but not a shrill or obnoxious noise (like nails on a chalkboard).

2. Take some time to breathe.
Successful people don’t leap out of bed and head for the computer. They understand the importance of reducing stress and relaxing. More often than not, they’re the people enjoying a cup of coffee or reading a book before they get started with the day’s work.
Rituals like this will enable you to clear your head and get yourself in the right state of mind for the day ahead.

I sort of giggled at this one… With only one leg, I don’t “leap” anywhere. I have by default slowed my roll so to speak. The routine of putting my prosthetic on allows me a couple of minutes to be thankful each morning, giving me motivation to make this day a great day. Then I usually head straight for the coffee pot.

3. Set out your clothes the night before.
Setting out your clothes for the next day is a sign of an organized mind. It means the next day is going to be all about what you’re going to do, rather than focusing on trivial matters. This will save you time the next day and enable you to maximize every single minute.

Being a Virtual Assistant I can work from anywhere and still be in my jammies. But when I was in the corporate world of proper dress, traffic jams, and shared offices; I did select my clothes the evening before. Now I will grant you that if I have a video conference, I do get cleaned up and dressed. Your appearance says a lot about you, so be comfortable and dress according to who your profession.

4. Get in a workout.
Fitness is important for your health. Successful people prioritize a workout for another reason though. Exercise is scientifically proven to get those endorphins racing. Endorphins are the happy drugs that your brain produces in certain circumstances, and one of them is exercise.

It doesn’t have to be a sweaty, exhausting workout. It could involve some gentle minutes on an exercise bike, a short jog or a yoga session. Find something that works for you.

I have a habit of doing 3 small workouts during the day and even sometimes a few stretches when I need a break from sitting in my desk chair. When I was in the corporate world I even learned a few stretches that can be done standing at a copy machine, standing in your office, and even sitting in my desk chair.

5. Read something you enjoy.
We mentioned earlier how successful people tend to read when they get up early. They don’t watch TV or catch up on work emails. Reading gets the brain working, and it improves comprehension. But reading something negative or something boring, such as that email from your boss, sets a tone for the day.

Consider starting off the day with a self-improvement book or something that you can learn from. For example, if you’re interested in financial news start with that.

I read for a living so it’s sometimes hard to really get involved in a good book or magazine. I do however like to spend about an hour each day reading online news and articles that relate to motorcycling, entrepreneurship and educational materials for marketing. I close out most of my days reading my Highway for Hope Bible but you can read whatever you like, of course. Perhaps consider closing your day with a self improvement book, an industry magazine, or something that makes you smile.

Together these rituals are going to keep you healthy and productive, setting a positive tone for the day ahead. Don’t try to implement these changes all at once. Some minor changes implemented gradually will help you to adjust to your new morning routine.

 

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10 Marketing Questions

10 Marketing Questions

10 Marketing Questions

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Every business should be in-tune with their unique marketing needs. This article was shared privately so there’s no link, but I sure hope you enjoy the content. And remember if you need help with your marketing, your online presence, accounting, or other services; keep our Online Business Management and Virtual Assistant Network in mind. At The Write Hand, LLC we strive to be your one-stop for all your business needs.

10 Marketing Questions

Here are 10 questions to consider before writing a marketing plan. Even if you have a marketing plan it is a good idea to review these questions on a regular basis. Hopefully, you’ll be able to make time to at least consider the questions, or better yet write the answers down. This week engage your employees and others (not necessarily customers) who know your business well. Take particular note of differences of others’ responses to your own.

We’ll take a look at 10 more questions next week.

1. Describe your business in 30 words or less.
Listen for: Other adjectives that you didn’t think of and specific skills/abilities that may make you unique.

2. SWOT Analysis – Outline your business’ Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats.
Listen for: Contradictions or misconceptions from your own perspective. An outsider’s view can be very helpful.

3. What is your mission statement/vision?
Listen for: Your employees to either mimic or say the opposite of your vision. This is an opportunity to get the staff on the same page.

4. Where was the business 10 years ago and where do you envision it 5, 10 and 20 years from now?
Listen for: No one can predict the future. What are your managers and personal contacts thinking?

5. Who is your clientele?
Listen for: Again, another point of view. Maybe your counter staff sees your typical customer very differently than you do.

6. What was is the best thing you have heard a customer say about your business?
Listen for: Something you’ve never heard before.

7. How about the worst thing you have heard?
Listen for: The thing you don’t want to hear.

8. How have you obtained most of your business?
Listen for: The unexpected. Unless you have been proactive in tracking new customers, you may be surprised.

9. How frequently do you communicate with your current customers and how?
Listen for: The comment that you don’t communicate enough and through the right channels.

10. Who are your competitors?
Listen for: Another surprise. It may not be the drycleaner down the street. It may be that there are consumers out there that don’t understand the benefit of using a professional clothing care specialist.

 

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