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Business networking 1-2-1 meetings 10to12 Business club

Unleash The Power Of Your 1-2-1 meetings

Here at 10-12, we are big fans of 1-2-1 meetings. So much so, in fact, that we include a special slot for them in our networking events, right at the end. This means that everyone has had a chance to find out who is in the room and what they do, so they can figure out if they want to talk to them further. 1-2-1’s are arguably the most powerful tool we have as networkers, but why?

Why We Have 1-2-1’s In Our Meetings

One of the things our visitors and new members always comment on is the fact that we hold 1-2-1’s within our meeting. For many networking groups it is a bit unusual, as most spend that time doing longer pitches, feature presentations or passing around slips of paper. But we prefer to dedicate time to having short 1-2-1s because it creates a stronger bond between our members and allows us to get to know each other a little better. For visitors, 1-2-1’s allow you to get 10 minutes of someone’s attention and ask them all the burning questions you thought of during their 40 seconds. For members, they help you reconnect and find out new things about your fellow members. The thing that networking is famous for (and women’s groups in particular) is creating meaningful relationships that generate business for everyone involved, and the way to really maximise the chances of that is by utilising those 1-2-1’s.

Taking It Outside

10-12 meeting 1-2-1 meetingsOf course, within the confines of our monthly networking meetings, you only really get 10 minutes to chat – 5 minutes each really. And while that’s really useful for building a foundation and understanding of someone’s business, it’s the external 1-2-1’s they lead on to that are truly powerful. You see, there’s a reason most structured networking groups encourage 1-2-1 discussions and meetings. During these external meetings you have more time, are often in a more comfortable environment and can really dig deep into meaningful conversations about you and your business. The power of 1-2-1’s isn’t really about business – it’s about getting to know someone and making a deep connection that strengthens trust and builds a rapport. All sorts of things can come out during a good 1-2-1, and many friendships have blossomed from them as well. In getting to know other business owners, you get to know who you like, who thinks in the same way as you and really come to understand how you can help each other. Without 1-2-1’s, all you would have to go by is your 40 second pitch and a few brief moments of casual networking, and not much business comes out of that. But with that added trust and bonding that only comes from a one on one meeting, you have a much more powerful tool at your disposal – a networking partner who actively wants to get you business.

10-12 Business Club Networking ReadingUltimately, everyone who comes to our networking group is there for the same reason – to build connections and do business. But expecting someone to want to do business with you and refer people they know to you when they don’t really know you themselves is a bit like expecting to be able to swim after reading a book on it. You can apply all the right techniques and still end up floundering. But by taking the time to get to know someone, showing an interest in their life and business, you can start to build up the trust that leads to fruitful business. Want to see the power of 1-2-1’s in action? Come along to one of our meetings and discover just how good 1-2-1’s are for relationship building.

 


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Tips on Increasing your Profitability

A 10-12 Guide To Increasing Your Profitability

Category : Blogs

Anyone who goes networking is there for the same reason – to gain new business. But at 10-12, we like to take the opportunity to share some knowledge within the room and help all of our lovely members and visitors improve the way their business works. This month, following a fantastic talk by Judith of M-Four Productions, the buzz was all around how you can increase the profitability and revenue of your business. Now I know what you’re thinking, increasing profitability is easy – just increase your prices and sell more, right? But while that attitude might help you make more money in the short term, it’s not a long-term strategy for a more profitable business. So instead, try some of these tips for permanently increasing revenue and profit the 10-12 way.

Make it easy to buyMake It Easy To Buy: One of the easiest ways to increase your profitability is to make it easier for people to buy from you. Look at packaging your services or offering a web shop for products. If it is simple to buy, you will stop losing business.

Monitor Your Sales Activities And Results: Unless you are monitoring what you’re doing and how it performs, you might as well not be doing it. So for every sales activity, track it’s progress and analyse the results at strategic points. This will help you figure out if it’s working or just a waste of time. 

Celebrate Success: Motivation is an important element of good teamwork and successful business. So when you close a big sale or hit a profit target, get your team together and celebrate doing well. This will help motivate them to perform better and solidify relationships. 

Set Goals and rewardsSet Goals And Rewards: Work out where you want to get to in 5 years, and set yourself a series of goals that will help you get there. Break those goals down into actionable points and you will find your yellow brick road to higher profits much easier to walk.

Learn And Develop Yourself: Donald Rumsfeld has a real point when he talked about known knowns, known unknowns and unknown unknowns. The point being, we don’t know what we don’t know, so it’s important to keep trying to learn. By developing yourself and your skills, you will find your productivity and profitability dramatically increase.

Network, Network, Network: Getting your face out there and building up a presence in the market is essential to success. But more than that, everyone you meet will know hundreds of other people – some of who might be your ideal clients, so don’t miss out on the opportunity! 

Time Efficient in your businessBecome Time Efficient: A lot of business owners complain that there aren’t enough hours in the day, when really they just aren’t using their time efficiently. If you start changing the way you work to be more time efficient, you will see a rise in profitable activity without the extra work.

Copy Successful Competitors: Obviously not in every way, because that would be plagiarism and very damaging. But look at their activities and see if you are able to do similar things. For example, if a successful competitor gets a lot of business from shows, look into displaying at one yourself.

Hire An Industry Sector Mentor: A mentor who is familiar with your industry can help you vastly, because they understand how everything works and the best way to get things done. They will be able to tell you where your time is best spent and help you avoid running down unprofitable roads.

Business, CoachFind A Business Coach To Push And Motivate You: As a more general tool, a business coach can help you refine your business model into something slick and successful. They help you trim fat, hone down processes and plan for success, and coupled with an industry mentor they are a force to be reckoned with.

 

Follow Up Enquires In A Timely Manner: Hundreds of opportunities are lost by businesses every day because they forgot to follow up with customer enquiries. They get busy or just forget, and by the time they remember the customer has moved on to someone who will value their business. Make sure you are following up leads quickly to secure more sales.

Keep Customers Up To Date With What You Do And What You Offer: Even existing customers may not be aware of everything you do. Newsletters are a fantastic way of letting your customers know what’s going on, what offers you have running and how else you can help them. It’s much easier to increase your profits from existing customers than finding new ones – so use them.

Customer DisputeAvoid Customer Disputes: – Sometimes it can’t be helped, but where you can, avoid customer disputes. An unhappy customer will tell their story to more people than a happy customer will, and just a handful of dissatisfied customers can ruin your reputation within that circle.

Work ON Your Business Rather Than Work IN Your Business: This is the first thing your business coach will tell you. Schedule some time and take a step back from your business. Stop doing the physical jobs or services you offer to your clients and take some time to work on your business itself – how it runs and what you could do better.

 Give Away Things For Free: If there’s one thing people love, it’s free stuff. Whether that’s information, services or even a goodie bag full of free trinkets. People respond well to free advice and tend to remember the people who give them free things.

Contract Work That Drains You Of Your Time to others: Finally, know where your skills lie and what you’re not good at, and outsource the things you don’t want to or can’t do, because these are nothing but a drain on your time. Not good with numbers? Hire and accountant. Awful at marketing? Hire a marketing team and copywriter. Learning to play to your strengths will cut a lot of dead time out your schedule, leaving it free for more profitable activities. 

Be your biggest fan in businessAnd above all, be your own biggest fan. This is sometimes the most challenging part of being in business for yourself, and one small knock can easily lead into a spiral of self-doubt. Instead, try and remind yourself that you can do whatever you set your mid to, and you are the best at what you do. After all, if you don’t believe it, how can you expect anyone else to? At 10-12 we are a supportive group of women all helping each other to succeed in business. We act as sounding boards, mentors, friends and advisers, creating a strong network of trust and, ultimately, stronger businesses. If you want to be a part of it, all you need to do is come along and see for yourself. Just book on to one of our monthly meetings as a visitor – we can’t wait to meet you!

 


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Robert burns

What’s Burns night all about?

Category : Guest Blogs

What is Burns night all about? Well for those that have no idea, it is a celebration that happens once a year and is mainly celebrated by Scots people throughout the world. However the intrigue of it all is rubbing off and more Burns nights are appearing every year. Many associations such as Golf clubs love to use Burns Night as an excuse to get their clan together and celebrate the event with Scottish food, songs and poems as well as dancing until the wee small hours, which they call The Burns Supper

In short, Burns Night is the celebration of the Scottish Poet Robert Burns, who? you may ask. Well if you did already know, here is a brief history of the man of the moment for you to make up your own mind if he was a talented poet or just a rouge and womaniser as some have claimed. Whatever your thoughts, he certainly made a lasting impact.

Robert burns

Born on the 25th of January 1759 in Alloway Ayrshire to William Burness a tenant farmer and Agnes Broun. He was one of seven and brought up to work on his father’s farm.  At the age of 15 he penned his first verse “My handsome Nell” which was an ode to one of   the subjects in his life – Scotch women! 

 Burns had several illegitimate children including twins to the woman who eventually became his wife Jean Armour.

 (The poor woman gave birth to 4 children before he married her and 5 more after that and that still did not stop him straying).

  They say that most of Ayrshire is related to him due to his infidelities with the local ladies.   Just look at the poems he wrote on the women of his life, if your name was Anna, Alison, Katie, Mary, Jeanie, Chloris, Clarinda, Nancy, Nell, Molly, Polly, Peggy, Bessie, Jessie, Eliza, Maria, Delia and – rather weirdly – Davies…. To name but a few!

 Burns died at the age of 37 on the same day as his last son Maxwell was born.   There were more than 10,000 people attended his funeral to pay their respects, however his popularity then was nothing compared to the heights it has reached since.  

Burns Night is a celebration of the birth of Rabbie Burns held on or as near to the day of his birth throughout Scotland and all over the world and would undoubtedly have made him proud.  The first Burns night was reputedly held ten years or so later in Tarbolton in Ayrshire of which Burns himself once wrote :

I’ve been tearin’ oot ma hair

Ye’ think ah’d been multin

Trying tae think o a word,

That rymes wie Tarbolton

Burns night celebration

As well as all the poems that he penned there are more than 400 songs in existence written by Burns of which it is said that some of the songs were what he had heard sung in taverns whilst collecting taxes during his days as an excise man.  It is claimed some he did not compose but was just the first to actually write them down! His most famous is Auld Lang Syne and my favourite is:

Cock up your Beaver

When first my brave Johnnie lad came to this town

He had a blue bonnet that wanted the crown

But now he had gotten a hat and a feather

Hey, brave Johnnie Lad, Cock up your beaver!

 Cock up your beaver, and cock it fu’ Sprush!

We’ll over the border and gie them a brush:

There’s somebody there we’ll teach better behaviour –

Hey, brave Johnnie lad, Cock up your beaver!

and the key to a good Burns night is to get a group of friends together, read poems and sing his songs, dance some jigs and most of all enjoy, with losts of toasts!

A History of Robert Burns by Issy Wiggins-Turner

Images Source Burns Scotland


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Is there such a thing as free networking?

I often hear people saying that they will only use free networking rather than a paid membership group as they feel it is better value! Which I totally understand when you are a new start business and funds are limited. However, I have to  say that once you factor in your time, your expense to get there and possibly parking costs, you have to admit that it’s not free.

Ascot Networking for womenAs a small business owner and a start up your time is the most precious thing that you own!  Trying to manage it effectively to produce your work and create sales leads can often be more like a juggling act.  In all of the networking events that I tend, when I speak to people about where their customers come from, the majority will say word of mouth.

Which is great as that’s free advertising? Well Yes and No as you need to first get yourself out there to get that referral in the first place. If you don’t network either online or in person, then no-one will know who you are or what you do.

Free Networking v Paid Networking

So it then comes down to Free networking versus paid networking which can be online or in person. So is Free Networking actually free? Possibly no as free networking takes time out of your day and often with free networking the organisers wont know how many people are going to turn up. After all its free so there is no cancellation fee if someone decides to no longer attend.

House 28 Sherfield On Loddon NetworkingThere is often some hidden cost in “Free Networking” as you have to get there in the first place. If it’s not walking distance then you will need to drive or take public transport so that’s the first hidden cost to you. Once there the event normally will be for a duration of at least 2 hours so your going to want to have a drink of something. Most events that I have gone to have water available so you could save on the cost of a coffee and just drink water, but you will more than likely buy a drink of some kind, be it tea or coffee. Add to this your time out of the office and you can see how Free networking is not actually free.

Of course a paid membership has all those costs too but what more does it offer you? For me it is always about the relationships that you build when networking with the same group, it takes time to get to know people and to find out their strengths and establish who you can recommend to use their services. In return people will get to know you better, your strengths and skills so that they can recommend you and your business.

Paid Networking with Structure

At the 10-12 Business Club, we know that our members and visitors time is precious so we have designed a structured networking event of 2 hours that ensures it is all about business.

We start with 20 minutes of open networking where you can meet new visitors to the group, chat to regular members and build relationships. We then have the opportunity to share your business details with all of the group both in a 40 second pitch and printed materials such as business cards or flyers.

Our business section includes an informative presentation by a member or visitor followed by a Business breakout session on a business topic for that month. The 10-12 Business club have covered many topics from finance, to finding more customers or planning social media campaigns.

The highlight of the meeting ends with 3 x 1-2-1’s which gives you lots of opportunity to get your business in front of everyone at the meeting and possibly talk to most of the people at the meeting.

Is Free Networking worth it?

I have never found with free networking that you have time to build relationships as some people attending these events use it as a business card collecting event.  Some people don’t even want to listen to what you have to say and are more than happy to tell you all about them, even when it is obvious that you have no synergy with each other. However they still want to collect your business card and add you to their mailing list or LinkedIn contacts!

One video that highlights the possible downsides of networking your business is this one which I am happy to say I have never met anyone quite as bad as this man. One thing I can guarantee you as a 10-12 Business Club member, you wont meet him at a meeting, as we don’t allow men! Now there’s one reason as a women business owner to try the 10-12 Business Club


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Storytelling brand image christmas

Storytelling – ‘Tis The Season To Build Relationships

It’s that most wonderful time of the year, when the trees go up, the lights are twinkling and kids are shaking the presents under the tree, desperate to know what’s inside. Christmas means something different and special to every one of us, and it’s because of the relationships we build that every Christmas celebration is so unique and wonderful. But how do you build these relationships with prospects and help turn them into clients? Simple, with brand storytelling and good relationship building. Let’s take John Lewis, the kings of Christmas, for example. 

What’s Great About The John Lewis Adverts – Storytelling

Since 2007, Year on year, John Lewis have been renowned for bringing us a heart-warming and adorable Christmas advert. It’s been something a lot of people now look forward to, and for many, marks the beginning of the Christmas season. But why?

presentWell, for a start they purposefully avoid images of excessive consumerism, which is what we expect at this time of year. Instead they focus on stories, creating narratives that viewers can become invested in. They tested out a few ideas form 2007-2010, but it wasn’t until 2011 that they fully embraced the full-blown narrative approach to advertising, with almost Spielberg-scale schmaltz. That year, their sales role 9.3% compared to the previous year. In the years that followed we’ve had the bear and the hare, Monty the Penguin, the Man on the Moon and Buster the Dog, all of whom buried their way into our hearts and keep the name ‘John Lewis’ in our consciousness. It appears that we can’t wait to find out what each years advert will be, and as soon as it’s released, social media goes into meltdown for the new story.

John Lewis found the perfect combination of brand values, storytelling and music to create perfect sales. Instead of trying to sell us everything they stock, they remind us of what it’s like to be a kid at Christmas by rekindling the emotions we felt when we were young. The themes of family, sharing and wonderment offer an authentic message we can connect and believe with. It’s advertising at it’s very best. John Lewis think so as their budget for advertising this Christmas will be in the region of £6m and they claim that since 2012 their Christmas sales have increased by more than 35 per cent due to the Christmas Adverts. 

But People Caught On… 

As with everything that’s even mildly successful, people caught on and started to try it out for themselves. This year in particular the heart-warming storytelling of John Lewis and this years Buster the dog are facing some heavy competition. From Boots celebrating working women over Christmas with this narrative driven promotion to Morrisons ‘makes it Christmas’ campaign, which shows a happy family together at Christmas, enjoying food – a homely image we all try to mimic at this time of year. For M&S, Mrs Claus helps Santa with his deliveries in a contemporary ‘Christmas with Love’ advert, promoting luxury, togetherness and the power of Christmas. And even Sainsbury’s has chipped in this year with their own storytelling of an animated Christmas musical tale of a busy father desperately trying to find gifts for kids.

Some companies, like fashion brand Burberry have been using Christmas as an opportunity to tell people about their brand values through short films (or long adverts, depending on how you look at it. With the 3 minute advert Burberry wanted to ‘tell the story of Thomas Burberry – pioneer, inventor, innovator, and the man behind the iconic trench coat – in our own words’ This powerful video has already been viewed 13,954,460 times on YouTube since being published, and sales of Burberry have increased this Christmas. Check out this companies storytelling and you will think it is the trailer for a new block buster film!

christmas-kids-giftsEven charities have discovered the power of storytelling adverts. In what has been daubed the most ‘heart-breaking’ advert of the year, Alzheimer’s Research UK teamed up with Stephen Fry to deliver you the story of when Santa forgot Christmas. They have tapped into an issue that plagues thousands across the country and, through this fictional character, have turned it into a story even those without first-hand experience can relate to. If you don’t get a bit teary while watching it, you must have a heart of iron. This advert has been up just 3 weeks, with 153,957 views on YouTube and millions more from TV sets everywhere. Donations are up and more and more people are aware of this disease than ever before. So even though all of these companies have used the John Lewis ideas, all of them are seeing results.

What Does This Have To Do With Relationships?

Everything John Lewis do at Christmas, is designed to create a relationship with their audience, and they do it perfectly. You develop a connection with their brand because of the emotions they evoke and the stories they tell, so viewers are more likely to trust and buy from them. Every business should be learning from this storytelling, regardless of size. For smaller businesses, it’s less about crafting a beautiful advertising campaign and more about telling an honest, genuine story that will help readers get to know you as a brand and trust you.

You can do this through your marketing and About Us page on your website, but a big part of that storytelling comes in the relationships we build during networking. Every time you meet someone for coffee or at a networking meeting, you will talk about something new and learn different things about each other, strengthening the connection between you and reinforcing the idea that you are trustworthy and worthy buying from or referring.

So this year, when you’re enjoying our Christmas networking lunch, make sure you take the time to have a meaningful conversation and get to know someone better. Those strong relationships are the foundation of great business relationships, and that’s how business gets done. From all of us at 10-12, have a wonderful Christmas and a fantastic New Year, we hope you have enjoyed our storytelling blog.

merry-xmas


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The Value Of Knowing What You Don’t Know

Category : Blogs

No matter how good we are at what we do, there will always be more to learn. Constant learning and improvement is something that all business owners should do, but there is always a problem – how do you know what you don’t know?

Knowing Our Knowledge Gaps

Everybody in the world has knowledge gaps – they’re just a part of what makes us human. It’s impossible for us to know everything. When it comes to running a business, the number of processes and elements that go into keeping everything running smoothly are mind boggling. At our last 10-12 meeting, we asked one another where we thought our knowledge gaps lay in business, and the answers were really interesting. While one person struggled with the finance side of things, another would mention that maintaining her website was what stymied her. Another mentioned social media as something that completely went over her head, while time management and marketing became an issue for another. Through this discussion we were able to share our knowledge and point people towards experts who could help shore up those knowledge gaps. I would highly recommend going through this exercise if you can, as it can reveal some incredibly useful gaps for you.

The Matrix Of Knowledge

In 2002, Donald Rumsfeld created something called the ‘matrix of knowledge’, which was split into 4 quadrants. These are

Amatrix-of-knowledge. What you know that you know

B. What you don’t know that you know

C. What you know that you don’t know

D. What you don’t know that you don’t know

For most businesses, quadrant A is really simple. We all know what we know. But for some business owners, an outside view (like from a coach, fellow business person or advisor) is needed to understand the other 3 quadrants – particularly quadrant D.

But why is knowing what you don’t know important? Simple, because it stops you making stupid mistakes. There is another theory called The Dunning Kruger Effect, which is defined as ‘cognitive bias in which unskilled individuals suffer from illusory superiority, mistakenly rating their ability much higher than is accurate’. That’s a lot of complicated words, but what it basically means is that when you don’t know what you don’t know, you can sometimes overestimate your abilities in a given area, because you don’t know any better. The only way to stop this from happening is identifying what you don’t know, and if you can, rectifying it.

When you look at the matrix of knowledge in the context of your business, you will realise that the most valuable knowledge for you lies in quadrant D – things you don’t know you don’t know. Things like a deep understanding of the true behaviour of your clients (instead of what you think they do), a new way of running your finances to save money or a better way to sell to a new market. You can find a lot of this information simply by gathering and analysing big data, or researching and examining information on your business, your industry, your market and the business sector in general.

Understanding what you don’t know is a critical step in improving your business. Doing this you can uncover any holes in your business and start down the road to fixing them, helping improve how your business runs and ultimately your profitability. If you want help identifying your knowledge gaps, or just want to discuss business with like-minded women, come along to a 10-12 meeting and get to know all of our members.


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A Guide To Dealing With Difficult Clients – That won’t Pay!

No matter what you do for a living, there is always one thing you can count on. Difficult clients plague everyone from time to time, and they never get any easier to deal with.  With that in mind we hope our guide To Dealing With Difficult Clients – That won’t Pay, helps you make some changes in your business process. Do any of these issues with clients and invoicing sound familiar to you?:

  • Asking for much more than originally agreed but  insisting the price stays the same.
  • Discounting because they don’t agree with what they have received.
  • Constantly refusing to pay your invoices on time. Or at all!
  • Saying the invoice never arrived, they haven’t seen it!
  • Promising payment that never arrives.

It can be difficult to stay in control of the situation and ensure you don’t end up out of pocket. At a recent 10-12 Business Club meeting this was our the topic of our brainstorming session. We came up with a few ways to keep your cool and deal with difficult clients.

Get Payment Up Front

A lot of the difficulties, we discussed as business owners tended to revolve around customers not paying their bills on time, if at all. Cash flow is a really important thing to all business owners, but even more so to smaller companies or sole traders. Getting invoices paid on time is crucial to your success as a small business!

Peggy_Marco / Pixabay

If you have dealt with a client previously who has missed payment dates, the easiest way to avoid the same issue happening again is to get full payment up front. If your client makes an issue of it, simply explain that due to the issues you experienced last time you worked together, up-front payment is required to ensure payment is received, and no work will be done until this is paid.

You can of course do this with new customers who you believe will be an issue, or instigate it as a general policy if this happens a lot. If you’re not comfortable with asking for so much up front, you could split the difference. Many companies operate on a payment basis of 50% with a confirmed order and balance due on completion or delivery, which helps you and the client with cash flow.

Make sure you have sent your invoice on time and that the client has received it. This can be the biggest delay for any small business in receiving payment for work agreed.

Start Using Service Agreements

‘Scope creep’ can happen during any project, but it tends to happen most in the creative industries, or any area where something is being built.

service-contractThe client will give you an initial brief, but as you go along they start adding things until the workload is actually twice the amount you quoted for. The client of course then expects all of this extra work to be done at the quoted cost, because it’s ‘all in the same project’.

To avoid this, service agreements will become your best friend. When you get the brief for the project, put it into a basic contract and have your client sign it before work commences. You can also include a pricing structure for extra work on top of the agreed brief, based on timescale, volume, whatever you want really. Always include your payment terms and what will happen if they fail to meet them. Summarise the potential costs of non-payment and state that you will take legal action.

You can use the same basic document for every client and simply substitute the brief in each time. By doing this you have it in writing (and signed) exactly what the quote you gave covers, so any extra work can be charged accordingly. Scope creep has become significantly less of a problem for us since we started doing this!

 Develop A Thick Skin

Sometimes no matter what happens, clients can get angry. They might be frustrated that something can’t be done in the time frame, that you won’t do extra work or that you’ve said no to their unreasonable request. Whatever the reason, angry clients can get pretty nasty sometimes.

To be successful in business you need to develop a pretty thick skin to deal with unsatisfied or annoyed people, no matter what they throw at you. Try to remember not to take anything they say personally, and let it roll off you like water off a duck’s back. If you struggle with this, a support network like one of our networking group of ladies is the perfect way to get things off your chest and let people help you, reassure you and get you back on your feet.

Don’t Be Afraid To Say No!

One thing we are all terrible at is saying no to work. When you’re first starting out you never say no to anything, taking on any work you can just to get by. As you grow and establish yourself as a business you can afford to be more selective about the clients you take on (though many of us aren’t).

noThis is an important step, as many of us get an idea of the ‘red flags’ for a difficult client. If you think a prospect will become a difficult client, don’t be afraid to say no! It’s better to spend time searching for a client who will be good to work with and worth what you charge than to accept a client who will be much more work for you. Sometimes, no price is high enough and you just need to walk away. And that’s OK!

Of course there’s lots of advice out there about dealing with difficult clients, search out some excellent blogs online. If you like what you have read then we have plenty more business topics to choose from.

This is the sort of issue we discuss in our meetings, allowing members to air their concerns and business problems and get advice on how to deal with them in a supportive and confidential setting. If you’re interested in visiting one of our groups, click here to book your place. We can’t wait to see you!


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Don’t Treat Networking Like The Gym

At one of our recent meetings, a member commented on the fact that many people would book places on her free workout sessions but not turn up, often without any notice that they weren’t going to be there. This is something of a trend across the fitness world, and I have noticed similar things happen for paid, pre-booked gym classes. It’s also something that tends to happen a lot with business networking sessions. Particularly over the summer months, when the number of no-shows soars dramatically and many meetings are postponed or cancelled so everyone can enjoy their holidays. But for the rest of the year, it’s important to remember not to treat your networking like your gym membership.

Commit Regularly

gym membership

Commitment brings results

There is common saying that nothing worth doing in life is easy, which for many things is true. Getting in shape, learning a new skill or starting your own business are all great examples of worthwhile things that are in no way easy. But there are some things, like networking, that fall into the ‘easy’ category while still being incredibly valuable.
The biggest issue people find with networking is not that it’s hard, but that it requires The biggest issue people find with networking is not that it’s hard, but that it requires commitment to see results. Just like you don’t do one session in the gym and expect a six pack, you can’t expect to go to one meeting and come away with dozens of new clients right away. In order to see the long-term results, you need to commit to turning up regularly and interacting with people. If you can do that, the rewards will soon follow.

Don’t Throw In The Towel

I read a very interesting article about gym memberships in the process of researching this blog. It turns out that a staggering 80% of new gym members don’t make it past the 5th month. So even if an average individual has neglected their body for years and wants that ‘beach ready’ body, they are only willing to commit 5 months of their life to trying to get in shape before giving up. This struck a chord with me, as it’s something I often see with networking and even business ownership in general. Business owners are willing to try out networking for a few months, but if they have not seen any results in that time they give up on the whole idea. Networking, just like getting in shape, is a long process that doesn’t happen overnight. So just because you’ve been going to a meeting a week for a month and not got a single referral doesn’t mean it’s time to throw in the towel. Stick with it and you will see those amazing results.

Tell Someone If You Can’t Make It

We all understand that life gets in the way, and sometimes something crops up at the last minute and ruins your plans. But no matter what the situation, it’s important to always tell the person or group that you will be unable to attend that day. You see it a lot with gym classes – you’ve booked in to a class at 7pm and you’re super excited, but by 6.30 you’re exhausted and don’t have the ‘get up and go’ that you did when you booked in that morning. After 5 or 10 minutes of pep talk, you realise you can’t get there in time anyway and just stay at home instead. Meanwhile the instructor at the class is waiting for you, irritated that she could have given your space to someone else if you’d just told her you couldn’t make it.
don't keep it a secretThe same applies for booked networking. Maybe you slept in because you had a long night, or had an emergency issue or your childcare fell through. When you realise you can’t make the meeting, whatever the reason, you should let someone in the organisation know you can’t be there. Often they will be able to find someone to hot seat for you at the last minute – so you can still have your pitch read out and reap some of the benefits of the meeting.

At 10-12 we believe in a structured networking approach combined with a more informal attitude to create the perfect networking environment. Our meetings are structured, but allow time for individual development and conversations to take place. Like all networking groups, it can take time to see results, but our members have all been extremely impressed after building strong business connections and friendships. For more information or to book your place, get in touch today.


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How To Network Like An Athlete

Category : Blogs , Networking

Could you learn how to Network like an athlete?

It’s that time again, the 4-year point where everyone breaks out the flags and cheers their country on in the Olympic games. This year the games have headed to the stunningly colorful Rio. With many business owners taking time out of their day to watch the games.  Are you glued to the TV at the moment? Or maybe scanning the news to see how many medals Great Britain has won?

As business owners, we can’t help but admire the athletes, and not just for their outstanding performances and resilience. The commitment these men and women have shown to their goal of getting to (and winning) the Olympics is just staggering. Which has got us thinking – do you have the same commitment to your business success? How about your networking success? How could watching the Olympic athletes compete teach us how to network our business successfully?

Have A Clear Goal

Ask a pro athlete what their goal is, and they will always have an answer. It might be to move up to the next league, or to win gold at the Olympics. The point is they won’t even have to think about the question – the goal is clearly imprinted in their mind. Every action is designed to bring them closer to that goal. We have lost track of the number of people who have come to us saying that they didn’t see any results out of networking! Yet when we ask them what their goal was, they couldn’t precisely tell us.

Now you may get lucky a few times, but networking without a plan is a lot like trying to fish without bait. Your rod and line might be there, but no one understands what you want. The next time you go networking, have a specific goal in mind. Maybe you’re looking for a job, trying to connect with a certain kind of person. Or perhaps you want to get advice on how to handle a difficult situation. Having a goal in mind not only helps break the ice but encourages follow-up discussion and opens up a discussion.

female runners preapring

Preparation

Olympic athletes don’t just prepare for a few months in advance of the competition. They may up the pace and intensity of their training around this time, but in reality, they are training every day of the year, preparing themselves to tackle their goal. A pro athlete will never walk into a competition without having prepared thoroughly first. This is where a lot of business owners could learn a thing or two. Preparing for a networking event isn’t just getting some freshly printed business cards and turning up on time. If you can, look up in advance who will be there and choose who you want to speak to. If there is a speaker, do some research and have a few questions ready to ask. When you do your homework you can skip the small talk and get right into the meaningful conversations you are looking for, saving everyone time and making you look professional.

If you can, look up in advance who will be there and choose who you want to speak to. If there is a speaker, do some research and have a few questions ready to ask. When you do your homework you can skip the small talk and get right into the meaningful conversations you are looking for, saving everyone time and making you look professional. Make sure you check out the host’s website so you know the format of the meeting and the timings of the event. Structured networking, in particular, will only work if you are on time and stay until the end, that’s when you can make the right connections.

Performance

Professional athletes are under pressure to perform perfectly at all times. Sometimes they don’t manage it – everyone has off days – but most of the time they perform to the best of their ability. If you are networking, you should be thinking about this. If you go to a group regularly, you might get comfortable with the group, which can make you lazy in networking your business. Make sure that at every networking event you attend, you are presenting your business at its best and making the most of every conversation. Go out of your way to try to connect people and give as well as receive advice. If your performance and enthusiasm at networking events stays high, you are likely to see more results from it.

Never Give Up

swimmingIt’s silly to think that just because an athlete has reached the Olympics means they haven’t failed. Professional athletes get to the level they are by training, preparing and, perhaps most importantly, failing. Experimenting with new approaches and failing helps them to understand their limitations and how to perform better next time.

We often see failure as a very negative thing, but in reality it simply means you are on the stepping stones to success. As a business owner, there will be times when you fail – especially when it comes to networking. You may dedicate your time to a group and see no return, upset someone within the group or simply say something stupid without thinking (we’ve all been there).

The important thing to remember is that no one ever succeeded without failing a few times first. So if you go to your very first networking event and don’t work up the courage to speak to anyone, don’t worry. Just try again, and soon you will find yourself chatting away like a natural.

If you’ve never networked before – don’t panic! It’s often easier to start out with smaller groups, as these tend to be very friendly and understanding to newcomers, as opposed to bigger events that can feel a touch impersonal. If you are a woman interested in networking for the first time, or just looking to try out a new group, you can arrange to visit 10-12 at one of our meetings here, or to see the format of our meetings (to help you prepare in advance!) click here.


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10 Pricing Tips For Small Businesses

Category : Blogs

As our members may know, at each 10-12 meeting we have a breakout session. During these 20 minute sessions we can pick each other’s brains and share our thoughts on a selection of business issues. This month our topic of choice was pricing, mainly how do you choose what prices you should charge and how do you go about implementing a price rise? This proved to be a hot topic for everyone. As small business owners we often feel pressured to charge as little as possible in order to secure business, and this can create a cycle of undercharging that it can be difficult to break out of. Drawing on the points brought up in our breakout sessions, we have 10 top tips for anyone considering setting or changing their prices.

1. Hourly, Monthly Or By Project?

clockThe first big decision you need to make is how you want to structure your pricing. Are you going to have an hourly rate, set up monthly contracts or price everything by project? Each approach has its upsides and downsides, and with each structure you will need to build in a little flexibility. For example, if you are charging monthly, you need a way of allowing clients to upscale or downscale as they need to per month. If you are charging by the project, then you need to have a way of calculating the prices for each project and what happens if the project turns out to be bigger than originally specified. Some job roles work better on an hourly rate, particularly if the time is dependent on the clients speed (for example de-cluttering alongside the client, a younger client may take less time than an older one for the same job). Rolling contracts are great for clients who have the same requirements every month, as this allows you both to be flexible. Or you may want to try and package your service into ‘products’ so that they are easier to price and sell. Try thinking about how your business would use each structure and if they would work for you.

2. Cover All Of Your Costs

When deciding on your pricing, it’s important you cover all of your costs and make a profit, however small. The downfall of many small businesses is that they don’t take into account all costs when setting their pricing. Even a small business offering online services needs to think about the cost of online subscription services and licenses such as Word, the cost of inks, promotional materials, phone lines, power and much more. If you calculate your total monthly costs for running the business before you set out your prices, and this will give you a good base to start from.

3. Experience Or Profit? 

With certain business models you need to build up a portfolio of work before you can really get started. Photographers, graphic designers and writers will all come across this problem, as clients want to see examples of their work before they commit to use them. For businesses like this, it may make sense to start with much lower prices in order build up your portfolio, or to implement a ‘try before you buy’ policy before increasing the prices later. You might not make any profit at this stage, but the experience helps you secure business later on. Just make sure you don’t get stuck at this low price rate, as will be impossible for your business to grow.

4. Research Your Competition

If you are drawing a complete blank on what you should be charging, a great place to start is with your competition. Take to Google and start looking up what businesses like yours are charging. Be prepared to make some phone calls if you need to, as some businesses don’t display their prices on their websites. Be sure to take location into account, as this can dramatically influence prices. For example, a business in Fleet might charge £50 an hour for their service, while a business in London might charge £300 an hour for the same thing. Stay local if you can, and build up an idea of where you would like to position yourself. Sometimes the best place to start is in the mid-price range, as you can always increase at a later date.

5. Have An Annual Price Review

 Instead of just choosing a random time to change your prices, instead consider an annual price review. January is a good time for this, as it’s a new year and a good chance to refresh relationships. It’s easy for your clients to understand that you have a price review once a year and will avoid sudden, unexpected changes in price. Another good time to implement a price rise is when you introduce a new product or service, even if the price rise only applies to that product.

6. Set Boundaries 

We’ve all felt the despair of scope creep. That moment when we realise a simple project has morphed into something far more complicated and bloated because the client keeps asking for more and more things that weren’t in the original brief. These projects can become sprawling and end up being far more time consuming or expensive than you originally planned – and often there’s nothing you can do about it. That’s why it’s important to set out clear boundaries for each project at the beginning. If you’re writing blogs for someone, only allow them 3 free changes. If you’re pricing by the hour, specify the number of hours budgeted for the project, and the cost per hour for exceeding that time.

7. Flexible Pricing

There is always that 1 client you can tell doesn’t care about your prices. You could quote them anything and they would happily pay it. But then there are those who are scraping together every penny for your service because they know they need it. How do you make sure both of those people are happy? Many people swear by flexible pricing in these situations. Use your best judgement and quote based on the customer, rather than the project. If you are willing to be flexible, the extra money you make on the bigger jobs will easily cover the concessions you make for the smaller ones.

shh8. Ensure Client Confidentiality

When implementing flexible pricing, your own customers can somehow cause issues all by themselves. For example, if someone ask them about your service, they may say you are great value for money because you only charge X. That new person will come to you expecting that sort of price also. The problem comes when the first customers is on a discount or deal under your flexible pricing, and you have to explain to this new prospect that your prices are actually Y. That’s never a nice conversation for anyone involved. To avoid this awkward encounter, add a disclosure paragraph into your contract asking your client not to discuss the rates they are paying. If you are giving them a discount from day 1, explain in the contract that this price is at a discounted rate, and specify what the original price would be.

9. Tell Your Customers

Never spring a price increase on your clients without telling them first. Put your prices on your website and send them an email or a letter explaining why you are putting up your prices, and what to. If you can, give them some notice of the change so that they can get everything prepared. A snap price increase with no communication is a quick route to a lot of unpaid invoices.

10. Don’t Sell On Price! 

Finally, remember that price isn’t everything! Sure, there are people out there who will buy solely on price. But there are many more who care about quality, and will be willing to pay that little bit more for good service. You might not end up being the cheapest option, but you are probably the best  one, and that’s what makes all the difference.

Pricing can be a tough subject for any business owner to tackle, which is why so many of us under-price our services. The overwhelming reaction to this topic was to stick to your guns and charge what you feel your product or service is worth. We all have an idea in our heads about what our time is worth, and we should never be afraid of saying it. If your clients are telling you that you are amazing value or you should be charging more – believe them! If you want to chat to our members about pricing or take part in one of our breakout sessions, contact us to book your 10-12 meeting.