The Interior Designer's Business Growth Strategy

Business Growth Strategy
The Cadence of Business Execution

Cadence is the rhythm that brings your strategic planning and business execution together

Picture a rowing crew in the Olympic finals with the coxswain calling out the tempo of the rowing strokes. Everyone in the crew is rowing in time and the boat is rapidly slicing through the water. The race winners have a plan. They stay focused on the execution of their race strategy even though they can see their competitors jockeying for position in their peripheral vision. They maintain their synchronous cadence – a fast, even tempo for the duration of the race, even when they are tired and don’t necessarily feel like it.

Just like the rowing crew, effective companies use a disciplined cadence to execute their strategy. The have a rhythm that keeps everyone in their company synchronized and executing the strategy at the optimum pace.

Quarterly Strategic Planning.

Strategic planning should be an ongoing process - not an annual event.

Effective companies have the discipline to stop and debrief their strategic execution every quarter and learn from it. They ask questions like: Did we achieve our targets this quarter? Did we execute our strategic priorities effectively? What did we learn this quarter? What will we start doing? What will we stop doing? What will we do better next quarter?

Then they use a disciplined strategic thinking and decision making process to confirm their key priorities for the coming quarter. This ensures the plan’s relevance with the competitive environment, and re-aligns everyone to the strategy.

Weekly Execution Meetings.

Just as you eat an elephant one bite at a time, strategic execution is accomplished one week at a time. It’s all about the “1 Thing”.

Every person in the company must commit to doing "1 Thing" each week. Not to be confused with their “business as usual” tasks – things which must be done every week anyway – rather it is the "1 Thing" that is going to move their quarterly strategic priorities forward a step. The "1 Thing" they will be held accountable for checking off as “done” by the next weekly execution meeting.

If you hold people strictly accountable for completing their "1 Thing"every week – they start to be very careful about what they promise to do. This is exactly what you want. Your job as a leader becomes much easier when your people get very clear on their number one priority every week – and you can count on them to actually do it.

Good progress should be acknowledged every week with positive praise and recognition.

Lack of progress should be confronted every week. The discipline of holding people accountable every week – drives strategic execution – and very quickly weeds out the poor performers on your team. Performance appraisals are not an annual thing. People should know every week whether they are performing or not.

Do you apply a discipline cadence to the way you set and execute strategy?

Quick test: What is your number one Action Priority this week? Do you know? Do your staff know?

By Stephen Lynch
Image by Christian Ferrari


Effective Marketing Strategies for Designers in a Weak Economy

Building relationships is the key that will throw open the doors to marketing success as quickly and as widely as possible in a tough economy. When marketing is a challenge it’s tempting to throw money at the problem (if you have the money to spend). I mean, haven’t we all heard that the last thing to cut back on is marketing when times get tough? But persistent, persuasive, and/or assertive marketing just won’t prompt enough people into action during times of financial uncertainty. Spending lots of money isn’t the key to marketing success.

It might even be tempting to "ride it out" – to do nothing until things turn around. This passive approach yields passive results. Nothing will happen while you’re waiting and when things do turn around, the business will go to the people who’ve been doing something all along. The people who will get the lion’s share of the business – both now and in the future – are the ones who work to build relationship.

So exactly how does someone "build relationships"? Building relationships does not mean becoming "best friends" with everyone. It doesn’t require taking people out to lunch or coffee. It isn’t about sending gifts to people. For the most part, building relationship is about being attractive and adding value. By "being attractive", I mean being likeable, having integrity, being a good communicator, and being passionate. (These are all important topics, but we’ll cover them in another article.) Let’s instead, spend some time talking about "adding value".

Specifically, let’s discuss how to add value to and create connection with prospective and existing clients. A real key to accomplishing this is to give without expecting something in return. The act of helping or giving without getting creates a very powerful dynamic. It establishes you as someone who cares about others. It shows you’re not just focused on yourself. It demonstrates an abundance mentality. It makes you even more likeable and respected. And last, but not least, it creates a feeling of obligation on the part of your prospects and existing clients.

Here’s a starter list of things you can do to add value to and to create connection with prospective and existing clients. Use it as a starting point for your relationship building efforts. Be creative with relationship building approaches which reflect your personality.

• Create and send out a useful, timely report. (make sure it’s not self-serving, though)

• Offer ideas and information that are fun, useful, and/or interesting (most of them will not be related to your business, although some could be)

• Have conversations with prospects and clients to get to know them (people love to be heard)

• Send specific things of interest to specific prospects and clients (it shows you were listening to them and that you care)

• Offer free workshops of interest (but remember, no selling or pitching!)

• Send out personal letters (handwritten is best, but definitely hand signed)

• Personally call to say Hi! or Thank You! (dropping by in person is even better)

Especially when things are tough, it’s more important than ever to build relationships as the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. It will cause people to act sooner and will cause more success to flow to you as things turn around. And besides that, it’s just plain fun.

By Michael Beck
Image by 


Michael Beck is "Head Zookeeper" at, a website dedicated to getting more clients, making more money, and having more fun!  Mr. Beck's credentials include an MBA from the Wharton School of Business along with degrees in Engineering from the University of Pennsylvania. Michael has held a variety of executive positions including CEO, COO, CFO, EVP, VP of Finance, and VP of Business Development. In addition, he worked several years overseas as a Business Advisor to a member of the Royal Family of Saudi Arabia. He is a Founding Member of the International Association of Coaches and a Past-President of the Denver Coach Federation. Read more:


Niche Marketing: 3 New Years Resolutions For Success

Niche marketing fact: Over 97% of the people who see your ad, sales page or offer will not respond. Here's the shocking reason.

It's not always the fault of your ad copy (or copywriter). Most of the time you can't even blame it on your format, offer or price.
You failed to differentiate your product or service from your competition. Result? They bought from your competition, spent their money on something else or kept their money in their pocket (or purse).
One of the top challenges businesses face in 2012 and beyond isn't price wars, quality control or even the cost of doing business. It's separating or differentiating their product or service from competitors.
The average consumer gets bombarded with hundreds and sometimes thousands of ad messages each day. That's why the business who can clearly differentiate themselves from the crowd will enjoy a powerful advantage.

Here's 3 Niche Marketing Resolutions To Help You Separate Yourself From The Competition.

I. Resolve To Find What Your Competitors Don't Like To Do... And Do It
Here's a proven guerilla marketing tactic for small businesses to exploit. When this idea is used properly it's a thing of beauty. This technique can help you level the playing field with larger competitors.
If you're smaller you can start quicker, make faster adjustments and react to market changes easier than your larger competitors. Here's how to use this powerful tactic.

- Make a list of your competitors weaknesses.
For example, what are the things they don't like to do?

- What do they neglect, avoid or overlook when it comes to serving your target market?
After you've created your list choose the best one to start with. After you've conquered the first one on your list go to the next one and so on. You'll soon enjoy a wall of competitive niche advantages that's hard to beat.

II. Resolve To Give Fanatical Customer Service
In this tight economic climate more businesses do just enough to get by. Many by force and others by choice. This makes an open door opportunity for the alert niche marketer.
One of the best values you can offer your prospect is "extra mile service". Or doing more than they expect. I call it "wow service". Giving your prospect the kind of service that makes them say wow, instead of oh!
People remember companies that can do that, no matter how competitive the market. Don't you? And here's the good news. Giving fanatical customer service doesn't require a large financial investment. All that's needed is commitment.
So, find out what your customers expect and make sure you always give them more. Do that and they'll not only come back, they'll bring others.

III. Resolve To Find More Successful Niche Marketing Role Models
Niche marketing is a living, breathing thing. Many people have heard, studied or even done various niche marketing strategies. But most neglect keeping up with the fast niche marketing changes taking place around them.
Competition keeps growing stiffer. Using the most effective niche marketing strategies can mean the difference between profit and loss. So, what's the best ways to keep up with the most effective niche marketing strategies?
Answer: Find successful niche marketing role models. They're hidden in plain sight. I'll show you a simple way to spot them. But first here's what you do when you find them. Subscribe to their mail list, newsletter, visit their website, even order from them if possible.
Put them under your research microscope. Soon you'll see what makes them successful. The good news you'll soon discover ways you can adapt some of their strategies.
Here's how to find successful niche marketing role models. Look for small successful companies in competitive markets. Why? Because they know how to survive because they've found a competitive niche their bigger competitors can't touch.
The economy is expected to remain flat through 2012. But the market will remain competitive and crowded. The small businesses who can perform the most effective niche marketing strategies will quietly replace those who don't.
By applying the 3 niche marketing resolutions, you'll increase your chances of success and growth in 2012. Happy New Year!

By Roy Primm
Image by Guy Shapira 
Roy Primm has written hundreds of articles showing othes how to live better on less money with his power shopping secrets for smart shoppers. For readers of this publication get his free book "199 Ways To Live Better On Less Money" at []


Marketing Research Process for Interior Designers

What is Marketing Research?

Marketing research process is a descriptive, step by step study and analysis of customer behavior, its purchasing trends in specific demographics, changing business trends, competitiveness in the market and various other factors that indirectly or directly effect the success of product and eventually the firm.

Step By Step Marketing Research Process

Marketing research helps management in effective decision making. It is necessary that marketing research process is effective, systematical, logical/analytical and it should be in alignment with the objective of the project. Basic steps of marketing research process have been discussed further.

A Problem Well Stated is Half Solved

The very first step in a marketing research process is to define the problem. Once the problem is identified, the research question is formulated. More intense scrutiny of the problem may require several marketing research tools or marketing research methods. These methods will help you to define your problem in a more better way. Data mining reports already available with the firm and through external sources like newspapers, TV, media, the exact problem can be presented in a very crystal clear manner. This paves the path for systematic action plan.

If You Fail to Plan, You Plan to Fail

Next in the pipeline after problem identification task has been done is to design a plan to achieve the task of eliminating the identified problem. Based on a comprehensive view of industry experts, higher management and of the marketing team, the firm zeros in on a particular plan. Several factors like financial resources, man power available and marketing environment are taken into consideration before choosing a plan.

Not Only Plan, But Also Believe; Implement

Give your plan the final touch. By extensive customer feedback, qualitative/quantitative analysis, let the plan shape into a concept. Strategies on the implementation of the marketing plan and the ways you will tackle any discrepancies must be well thought over.

Knowing is Not Enough, You Must Take Action

In this step of marketing research process, you've got to complete the tedious task of data collection and survey. This is the most crucial aspect of marketing research as all information regarding the product, survey campaigns, outdoor reviews has to be collected by the marketing team. Through Internet, TV, group discussions, shopkeeper reviews - a huge data base is maintained.

Culmination of All Action

In the second last step of marketing research process, you have to analyze all data. Preparing statistical graphs and presenting all the information collected in a systematic manner, for the final presentation is done in this part. The marketing team is done with its role and is ready to submit all research.

The Final Documentation of Efforts

All the tasks and hard work carried out by the marketing team would go waste if final results are ambiguous. Hence, to make the information analysis easier for the management, documentation and report preparation is very important. All research findings have to presented adequately and clearly.

Importance of marketing research can be attributed to the fact that it forms the core of marketing strategies a marketing team chalks out to meet its business objectives. To survive the competition and maximize profits, marketing research process must be carried out properly. Marketing research helps in understanding of customer needs and so the marketing team will always be in a better position to work on improving the sales. In general, marketing research gives a holistic understanding of customer, business competitors, industry needs and the changing business trends. This can eventually help a management to take very effective decisions and increase the prospects of launching the products successfully. Any marketing plan can be complete without an effective marketing research.

PS:The terms 'market research' and 'marketing research are often used interchangeably however, they have significant difference. Market research refers to a specific and fixed segment of market that is analyzed for reference whereas, marketing research refers to the analysis of broader group of market segment considering all factors at play, in the market.

By Kundan Pandey
Image by Stone

The HOW of Networking for Interior Design Success

The HOW of Networking and Interior Design Success

The number one complaint I hear from designers is the lack of quality clients. Most designers I talk to have tried everything to find them from, fancy websites, postcard mailings, and of course networking. I can tell you personally that every fantastic client I have ever met, was through some form of networking. You've probably tried networking yourself, and depending on your successes, I have a few new ideas and tips for how to make networking even more productive.

1. Who are you networking with? Don't forget, networking can mean many things from a friend of a friend, a fellow business owner, or an organized networking group.

2. What are you offering them in exchange? The best way to ensure quality, top notch referrals is from someone who respects and values you already. That means you need to give as much as you receive whether it's reciprocating with a lead for them, or a complimentary consultation.

3. Where one finds great clients takes a knowledge of who you're looking for, and a little strategy. Think about it; design clients are people who not only care about where they live, they're willing to ask for help (and pay for), from a quality professional.

It came to me when I learned where Helen, (my coaching client I was boasting about earlier) had found one of her new dream clients. She was networking on Linked-in with a professional organizer. Brilliant! People who are willing to pay a professional to help them organize their home, will probably need help making their home beautiful. So start brainstorming! Who else can you think of who offers services with the same criteria?

4. When should you be networking? (When shouldn't you be networking, is a better question.) One of the most profitable relationships I've ever made was from a store owner I met at a friend's birthday party. You really never know where your next great customer will come from. You never know where your next great customer will come from, so pay attention, or a great opportunity might pass you by.

5. How you network is a critical piece of this profitable puzzle. I know how much success I've had in my own design business through networking, so I know that it works. I've listened to other designers who think they're mining for great clients, and what I actually witness them doing is scaring away prospects by coming off as pushy or overbearing.

The "How" of networking is simply a form of sales, and we know how much designers love to sell... It may not be your strongest skill, but it's critical to your success. I recommend you start doing a little research and work on honing the art of sales. You'll be amazed how simple and fun it can be. Just by knowing a few simple phrases, adjusting your body language (while learning to read others), and understanding client psychology, can fill your design business faster than anything else you'll try.


Whether you are just starting out in the design world, or have years of experience, Chelsea Coryell can help you discover the confidence and tools for success in building the design business of your dreams. Drawing from over 20 years of experience as a professional designer and a, "failing business" consultant, she can help you today by visiting where you can download a free video series now.


How to Beat Invisible Interior Designer Syndrome

Your Interior Design Business

You've been networking, advertising and asking for referrals, but no new clients are coming in. No phone calls. No new appointments. No referrals. No signed contracts. Just... silence.

I hate to break this to you, but you may have what I call... Invisible Interior Designer Syndrome. Fortunately, this condition is curable.

Invisible Interior Designer Syndrome is an equal-opportunity menace. It doesn't just hit lazy designers, or those that don't care. In fact, it may surprise you to find out that every interior designer starts out this way.

Although some grow out of it quickly, others seem to get stuck there. And...being stuck with Invisible Interior Designer Syndrome is amazingly frustrating. Let's see what we can do to get you out of there...

1. Your prospects are looking. Do they find you? - Believe it or not, even with the hundreds of millions of designers out there today, not enough are putting much effort into being visible in the places where their prospects are looking.

Did you know 34 million Google searches are performed every single day? Do you know how many searches are for designers? What about interior designers in your specific area?

What if you knew there were 100,000 people per month searching for interior design information online?
Then let's be conservative and say just 10% were ready to purchase the kind of design related services you offer...that's 10,000 people looking and ready to buy!

And if just a measly 1% of those prospective buyers were in your area... that would be 1,000 buyers in your locale searching for you every single month! Do they find you?

If you're not online... get online!
If you are online... expand your reach!

2. Blog. Blog. Blog. Even if you don't know what to write. - If you have a solid understanding in the basics of your specialty, but not the world's foremost expert, you're in luck.

Most people, are beginners in any topic. So start writing to prospects on your blog, as if they were beginners.

Teach them the basics that you've mastered. Go back and teach them as if they were the newbie you used to be.

You'll understand the newbie perspective far better than the 10,000-hour genius ever could. She's too far removed from what it's like to be new.

In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. Go find a kingdom of blind people to help. Become an expert by helping people who know less than you do.

3. Stay with it. Give it time. - It amazes me how many designers gripe about being invisible when they have an outdated website, no blog and no email newsletter - standard advertising methods in today's business environment.

Get on board with today's savvy clients and get online. Yes, it takes time. But no, it doesn't have to take years to get noticed and recognition. You do however, have to be persistent and continue to diligently pursue your prospects online.

Remember... every successful interior designer started out with an audience of two... yourself and your other email address. How far beyond that you grow depends on how well you apply yourself to these principles.
How about you? Have you been through Invisible Interior Designer Syndrome? How long did it take you to break out? Or are you still stuck there now?

Barbara Deckmeyer works with Interior Designers in business for over 5 years who want more clients or are ready for more big-budget clients.Visit for FREE Marketing Tools or for More Information Today! (c) Copyright - Barbara Deckmeyer. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


Why Your Design Talent is Not Enough

Everyone fantasizes about achieving success, but some of us are relentless about making sure that we get our chance to shine. Regardless of whether we want to be a successful musician, model, designer, athlete, executive or entrepreneur, we have to fight to make our dreams a reality.

There are people all over the world competing for the same opportunities we seek. What are you going to do to claim your spotlight? How hard are you willing to work to show that you are on top of your game and ready for the success you've been dreaming about?

Everyone has talent, skills, and the desire to succeed. It is your unique style, your determination and your willingness to work smarter and harder than everyone else that will help you reach your goal.

Too often we compare ourselves to the wrong group of people. We think that just because we are the best singer, ball player, or model in our neighborhood- we deserve to get put on. You have to constantly remind yourself that there are millions of talented people, throughout the world, who are on a mission to claim that same golden opportunity you've been dreaming about. Talent alone will not cut it. In order to achieve success today, we have to emerge as the all around MVP in a room full of all-stars.

You can't sit back and expect success just because a few people are singing your praises. Make sure you have the preparation, the packaging, and the promotional tools in place to be recognized as the best.

The stakes are higher, the competition is tougher, and the road to success is more crowded than ever. Raise the bar that you set for yourself -- so that nothing and no one can stop you from getting to the top.

By Tia Jackson Harley
Photography by  Viktoriia Kulish

Tia Jackson is a Brand Strategist and Personal Brand Coach with 10 years experience in branding, marketing and promoting small businesses, Fortune 500 companies, and high-profile personalities. She also helps entrepreneurs maximize their success by training them to build and manage their business and personal brand. For personal branding tips, trade secrets, and coaching from Tia Jackson and other leading brand makers, visit, the ultimate resource for building your brand.


The Proper Format for Writing Your Press Release

Press Release Format - Learn How to Properly Write One Today!

Aside from the tips on how to make a good press release that gets published, there is actually an effective press release format that you can follow as your guide in making a press release of your own. Following this press release format will ensure you that you will get your press release published and have it read by the people you wish to get the information that you have. So read on and learn about this press release format that will give you the advantages of a low cost yet high success probability of making your events known and victorious.

First of all, you have to keep in mind that you are targeting two audiences. These are the media and the public. The media is composed of the people who are behind the tools that you need to use in order for you get your press release reach the public. These are the editors, reporters and the journalists. You need to pass through them before you get the chance to reach your second target audience which happens to be the public. The public is made up of the people you want to get informed by the event or affair that you have. I believe that I have made it clear that you need to pass the qualifications of the media in order for you to get through the public. These people are busy, stern and pressured toward work. And their job happens to be to assess if your press release is newsworthy or not. In order for you to earn the approval of the media, this is how your press release format should go.

  • You need to provide your release date. This will let the media know when your press release should be published.

  • Next to the release date is your headline. This needs to answer at least three of the WH questions. The headline in your press release format needs to be catchy yet short. It should be catchy to make the media stop from scanning and pay attention to your press release. It should be short for the media not to get pissed and tired of reading what you are trying to say.

  • What you should have next is your contact information. Your contact information must provide to whom should the media contact after they have concluded that your press release is newsworthy enough to be published.

  • Next to the contact information is the body. The body needs to provide all the information about your event. The first paragraph must have the basic information while the succeeding paragraphs must provide supporting facts about your event.

  • Your company profile should be the next. This should contain a sentence or two that provides information about your company and your company's mission. This is also known as the boilerplate for others.

  • The pound sign is few of the last things that you need to indicate in your press release. This will serve as the cue to the media that your press release has ended. It usually goes as the word "END" or the sign "###".

  • Lastly, you should provide a more detailed contact information at the very bottom of your paper for additional information in favor to the media. Having a logo on the paper you will use will add formality and sense of credibility to your press release.

By Paul Hartunian
Photography by Doreen Salcher

Ready to really learn press release format? Paul Hartunians free publicity information center will teach you and many other aspects of publicity. Visit now to get powerful profit-producing publicity tips!



5 Strategic Planning Models for Design Firms

The 5 Strategic Planning Models - Which is Right For Your Company?

Strategic planning can be very important to the success or failure of a company. However, there is no one model that can be used for every for every company. When choosing a strategic planning model, companies need to take into account which model fits best with what they are trying to accomplish, then modify if need be to better suite their specific needs. Here are the five strategic planning models, as well as what they are best used for.

Basic Strategic Planning
This basic process is often utilized by small companies who are simply too busy to engage in other kinds of strategic planning. It is also common with companies who have not engaged in this kind of planning previously. Basic strategic planning involves identifying a purpose, often referred to as a "mission statement," then identifying the goals that must be met in order to achieve this mission. Strategies are then put in place to achieve the goals, along with action plans that can be followed. The overall plan is monitored and updated as needed, until success is achieved.

Goal-Based Planning
Goal-based planning is often the second step a company takes after initially working with basic strategic planning. This kind of planning explores specific goals in a more in-depth fashion, and is often used to identify and prioritize some of the major goals within an organization. Strategies and action plans are then devised, and the necessary roles and responsibilities required for implementation are established. While similar in many ways to basic strategic planning, goal-based planning is generally more formalized and structured in its approach.

Alignment Model Planning
The alignment model is often by companies in order to fine-tune and adjust strategies that are already in place. It can be very useful for determining why certain strategies are not working for a company, and what should be done to remedy the situation. This method can be very effective when dealing with internal efficiency problems. The process involves outlining the overall mission, evaluating the programs that are already in place, the resources that are currently available, and the need for any additional support. The existing problems are identified, then adjustments are devised and incorporated into the strategic plan as needed.

Scenario Planning
Scenario planning can be very useful to determine "what-if" situations. This kind of planning is often utilized to evaluate the effect that external forces may have on an organization. For each possible scenario, strategies are developed which can be used to help a company respond to the potential changes.

Organic Planning
This style of planning is more ongoing in nature, as it focuses less on specific methods and more on "lessons learned." Using this planning method, an overall vision is determined, then there is an ongoing dialog about what processes may be necessary in order to achieve the vision. By its very nature, this style of planning often returns slower results, but it can also be quite effective when used properly.

By Eric Douglas
Photography by Adam Borkowski

Eric Douglas is Leading Resources, Inc. principal consultant with expertise in strategic planning, leadership development and change management. Eric has authored two books. The first is Straight Talk: Turning Communication Upside Down for Strategic Results. The book, a main selection of the Executive Book Club, offers a powerful approach to communication, decision making and leadership. His newest book is titled Leading at Light Speed. Eric, who has been recognized by the Institute of Management Consultants (IMC) for his work, serves on numerous boards of directors and devotes considerable time to charitable and community projects. He lives with his wife and family in Northern California. Eric Douglas can be contacted at


Brand Management Tips for Designers

Everything You Need To Know About Branding and Brand Management

Let's find out more.

If we want to understand what brand management is, we first need to understand what branding is. Anytime a company or business brands a product, they create a promise to their customers. Nike, for example, brands their products with the slogan "Just Do It". It is simple, it is memorable, and it communicates a message to the audience as to what their product is all about. In creating their brand, they have given their audience something to remember them by - and remind them what they do! Branding is much of the reason why large companies such as Nike, McDonalds, and Hallmark are so successful. Your company may not be as big as these ones, but small business branding is still just as important.

Understanding what a brand is, we can now understand what brand management is. When it comes to small business branding, developing a good brand can capture your customer's attention and make you memorable. It is important to remember that people can have positive or negative memories. Just because your business is memorable, doesn't mean that people have a positive memory of it. It is your job as a business owner to make your brand name memorable in a positive way. This is where small business branding management comes into play.

Brand management, as the name states, involves the management of the brand. It involves managing both the tangibles and intangibles. The intangibles are usually related to the emotional connections that people have with your product or service and can usually be related back to your branding tagline or logo. Hallmark's tagline, for example, is "when you care enough to send the very best". A tagline such as this develops an emotional connection between the customer and the product. And when you have an emotional connection, you have a loyal customer.

Aside from the intangibles, brand management also involves managing the tangibles. If you want people to associate your brand with positive memories, you need to create positive memories. You can do this by providing excellent customer service, ensuring timely delivery (if applicable), offering fair prices, providing high quality products, and simply doing anything that you can to ensure your customer is happy with your business.

Small business branding is extremely important in gaining and maintaining customers. Through branding and brand management, a business can convey a message, establish an emotional relationship with customers, and establish connections with loyal customers. Keep in mind, however, that a successful brand is only as good as your management techniques. If your management techniques are poor, a negative memory will be associated with your brand - and a negative memory can be even worse than no memory at all.

By Silvia Pencak
Photography by Michael Ransburg

Silvia Pencak is The Magnetic Look Expert and Mentor. For over 7 years Silvia kept building successful venues in Europe and Canada. She became known as the expert in building a powerful brand and is often asked for advice in management, marketing and organizational areas of building a personal and business brand. Over the years she started to notice that power of branding, authenticity, relationship building and marketing efforts can make or break a successful business. Silvia shares her expertise online at to help other women entrepreneurs build successful brand and extraordinary lifestyle and to support those who don't settle for a mediocre business and average lifestyle. Join Silvia and others for the Stand Out and Thrive Teleseries


7 Signs That It's Time to Fire a Client

It's an issue faced by business owners worldwide -- having to let go of, or "fire" a client. When I started my business, it's not a situation I ever thought I would face, as I was happy to take on almost anyone that wanted to hire me. However, over time, my client scrutinizing skills became more acute, and I began to realize that not every client is a perfect client for me. In fact, more than 50% of the people I speak with are not a good fit for one reason or another. Just like Donald Trump in "The Apprentice", sometimes you just have to say, "You're fired!"
What happens to your business when you keep clients that are PITA (I'll let you figure out that acronym) clients? All of your time and energy is drained in serving these clients, you lose any enthusiasm you ever had for your business, and you no longer have the time or desire to go out and market yourself and continue to fill your client roster. You become angry and resentful of the clients that are dragging you down and begin to question yourself about why you started a business in the first place.
Disengaging from a poor client choice can be painful, and often it's not easy. However, given the alternative, letting go of that client is a healthy route to follow. I found a great quote on the topic of "letting go" by author Benjamin Shield in his book, Handbook for the Soul: "Letting go is one of the most difficult challenges human beings ever face. I've always pictured letting go as transformation moving from a closed fist to an open hand. As we take an open-handed attitude toward life, we can be free of the self-made obstructions that litter our path. This process requires a willingness to shed our persona--those inauthentic trappings we hold onto for identity but that no longer serve us. The choice to let go frees us to follow the pathway to our soul."
I can very much relate to this quote -- freeing yourself from a bad client choice does provide the pathway to follow your soul. Finding the perfect clients with whom you resonate will bring joy back into your life and business once again, thus putting you back in touch with your business and life vision and reconnecting to your soul. Life is too short to work with PITA clients. Check your client roster against these 7 signs -- is it time for you to shake out your client roster?
1. You dread every phone call from the client. If you're constantly ducking someone's call because you find it painful or exhausting to speak with them, or the conversation invariably makes you angry or resentful, it's time to take some action to remedy the situation. How much more would you enjoy your day-to-day client interactions if you looked forward to taking your client's calls?
2. The client nitpicks every single expense and insists that tasks should take anyone else as long to do. I've had clients who "knew" I was shortchanging them and insisted that what I was doing for them wouldn't take others in my field as long to complete, and I should adjust my bill accordingly. I've discovered that this lack of trust is about the client, not about me, and that I'm more than competent and skilled in what I do. Don't let a "nitpicker" make you doubt yourself --there are other client fish in the sea.
3. Emergency requests are the only type of requests your client makes of you. No one likes to be under the gun, and trying to do something quickly and under pressure stifles all creativity and thoroughness. Some people are addicted to adrenaline and like to stay in the urgent all the time. However, living the urgent is a high-stress way to live your life, and the toll it takes on body and spirit is substantial. A better client choice is someone who adequately plans and prepares his time, so that emergencies are rare.
4. Lack of client follow-through prevents any progress from being made. Do you spend all of your time with a client in review of plans and what's supposed to be done, yet seldom ever get to the point of completion so that you can move to the next stage? Nothing is more frustrating than a client who says she wants to achieve a certain result, but seems to be immobilized in the planning stage. Consequently, you spend all of your time with the client in review rather than in action. Perhaps you're able to put on a "coaching" hat and help the client see the roadblocks she's facing. However, if she's unwilling to discuss what's stopping her and your frustration level is growing at her lack of action, it's probably time to cut her loose and let her go.
5. Your client loves to micromanage. Typically, when I'm hired by a client, they have a problem to solve and I offer the perfect solution to their problem. However, I've had clients who don't let me solve their problem in the way that I think is best. They insist on having to approve every step along the way and must be involved in every single detail. In many cases, they are accustomed to having employees and erroneously believe that good management entails micromanaging each step an employee takes. A great client is someone who hires you to solve a problem and doesn't really care how you resolve it -- they are willing to give you the room and latitude to bring your experience to the table and help them resolve their issue.
6. Delegation is a skill completely foreign to your client. Most business owners know that in order to be successful in your business, you can't do it all alone. A successful business owner has a great team to which she consistently delegates tasks that she doesn't have the time to do, while she is out there looking for new business opportunities. If your client refuses to let go of anything and insists on doing the very things you were hired to do, your client hasn't grasped the notion of "lost opportunity costs". Sometimes it's simply easier for a business owner to work "in" the business rather than "on" the business, as the latter usually means that you have to be in the marketing and sales mode -- a mode that many business owners hate. A great client does what she does best and delegates the rest.
7. Money issues plague your client. Can your clients really afford to hire you? Sometimes they're in a start-up phase, or they're just experiencing a cash flow crunch. They obsess over your fee in every conversation that you have, and are usually slow to pay your invoices. The time and energy you spend in chasing their payment is very draining. A better client is one who understands your payment requirements and is easily able to afford and pay your fee.

By Donna Gunter
Copyright 2006 Donna Gunter
Photography by Leloft

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