8 Things Entrepreneurs Need to Know
By Rieva Lesonsky
1) The Cost of Bad Customer Service
A poor customer experience can be really expensive.
How expensive? Consider this: 89% of consumers will stop doing business with you because of a bad experience. And…
95% of those customers will tell others about it.
Bad customer service is the fastest way to lose existing customers, and repel potential customers before they ever get a foot in the door. In fact, 86% of consumers will not purchase from a business if it has negative reviews.
Despite the costs, many businesses fail to make customer support a priority. More attention is given to acquisition, instead of retention.
The result: Companies pay 6-7 times the cost to acquire new customers, more existing customers jump over to the competition, and the bottom line gets burned.
Businesses slowly die.
To better illustrate just how expensive poor customer service can be, the team at JitBit have put together the infographic shown below. It takes a closer look at the financial costs, covers the top reasons why consumers switch to competitors, identifies the segments that are less tolerant of bad service, and provides some action items for improving support. If you want to dive deeper even deeper, check out the 11 costliest traits of bad customer service.
2) Get on The Good List!
The Story Exchange is offering women entrepreneurs a chance to be featured on its latest feature—The Good List.
They’re currently accepting applications to appear on The Good List, which spotlights women with exceptional businesses that are also fulfilling commitments to make the world a better place.
Apply between now and April 30—if your company is working to combat poverty, stem disease, promote fair trade, support a sustainable environment, or make a difference in another meaningful way.
For more information on The Good List, including qualification criteria, visit them online. Or, if you already know you’d be a great fit, go here to tell them all about your business — and how it’s changing the world — today!
3) 4 Easy Steps for Creating an Organized & Efficient Office
Is your office a mess, but you don’t have time to get it organized? The folks at Boise Paper say you should instead think about how all that time spent combing through files or searching for misplaced materials has a major negative effect on productivity.
Sarah Yedlick, office expert and inventory analyst for Boise Paper says, “It may seem inconsequential, but a messy, disheveled office space can dramatically reduce worker efficiency at every level of an organization.”
Ready to get organized? See if these tips from Boise Paper will help transform your (and your employees’ offices into a more efficient workspace.
Control the Chaos: It’s easy to let papers pile up. Get control of the mess by applying the “System of Three”—file it, work on it, or get rid of it—to every piece of paper in your office. File your important paperwork in a color-coded filing system and shred or recycle anything you don’t need. Once it’s organized—keep it that way. Create a “For Review” box where colleagues know to place documents that require your attention. Place items that need discussion with others at the end of the desk so you can grab them quickly. And place “hot” to-dos on top of your computer or chair so you don’t forget them.
Set Up Strategically: It may sound obvious, but it’s easy to overlook: Keep the supplies and files you use most within easy reach. Store lesser-used items and files out of the way. And pay attention to the way your office furniture is currently set up. It may not be optimal for your work style. Consider moving your desk and file cabinets to create a better, more efficient flow based on how you work.
Do a Virtual Sweep: Your physical office is only half the battle. Apply the same “System of Three” approach to your electronic files. What emails and files can you delete or file away? Create folders for each project, and make it a habit to save files in the correct place right away. Better yet, set up rules that automatically do it for you!
Set Up a Printing Station: No one wants to search for paper with a deadline approaching! Create a printing station near the office printer to ensure supplies are close at hand. Keep go-to items like Boise® X-9® Multi-Use Copy paper closest to the printer. Store toner and less-often used paper, like high-quality Boise POLARIS® Premium Color Copy paper, in a designated space with a “Supplies to Order” checklist to ensure replacements get ordered before you’re out!
4) Watch & Learn
Here’s a few classic questions for you: What makes the most successful business people different from the rest of us? Are they simply more driven, smarter, perhaps more ruthless or blessed with charisma? Are they born with a hidden talent that makes them a force of nature? Or was it developed?
Business journalist and best-selling author Farnoosh Torabi is on a mission to find out in here new TV show, FOLLOW THE LEADER, which premiers Wednesday, April 6 at 10PM ET/PT on CNBC. Torabi spends 48 hours embedded with a superstar entrepreneur to learn how these wildly successful business people operate. Her goal is to dig deep and discover the unique philosophies, methods and practices that earned them their status and their fortunes—and help viewers apply this knowledge to their own lives.
Featured entrepreneurs include:
John Paul DeJoria: cofounder & Chairman of the Board, John Paul Mitchell Systems and The Patrón Spirits Company
Lyor Cohen: cofounder 300 Entertainment
Gary Vaynerchuck: cofounder and CEO of VaynerMedia, and partner in Vayner/RSE
Katia Beauchamp: CEO and cofounder Birchbox
Neil Blumenthal and Dave Gilboa: Co-CEOs and cofounders of Warby Parker
Tracy Anderson: Founder & Creator of the Tracy Anderson Method
I’ve know Farnoosh for years—this is sure to be compelling and educational viewing.
5) Identity Theft Thrive at Tax Time
According to Experian, consumer awareness of identity theft and tax-related fraud is on the rise this year, as are increased concerns about becoming a victim.
In a recent survey Experian found the number of survey respondents familiar with identity theft and tax fraud has risen almost 20% over the past two years, to 76%. And, 42% are now concerned that someone could access their personal data through their tax returns. Indeed, 28% of respondents have either been a victim or know someone who has of tax fraud. Those who have been affected most commonly file a police report (59%) and place a fraud alert on their credit reports (58%).
What’s fascinating is 45% aren’t aware of the IRS-issued Identify Protection PIN (IP PIN), which is a unique number assigned to eligible taxpayers that helps prevent the misuse of their Social Security number and protects against thieves attempting to file fraudulent federal income tax returns.
Even though the concern over tax fraud has grown significantly, a majority of survey respondents aren’t planning to take the IRS recommended steps to protect themselves. Only 12% plan to check their credit reports, an important first step in monitoring for fraudulent activity that could indicate identity theft. Also, a mere 6% will file their taxes on a computer with up-to-date antivirus software.
If you’re worried about identity theft Experian says you can protect yourself:
- Thoroughly research any paid preparer or tax-preparation software. Scammers set up fake websites and software downloads solely designed to trick consumers into providing their personal information.
- When filing electronically, ensure that the computer used is on a secured network, and is protected with the most up-to-date anti-virus and anti-malware software.
- Ask potential tax preparers to explain how they file and what steps they take to protect their customers’ information.
- Enroll in credit monitoring and take action by filing a fraud claim if an alert indicates potentially fraudulent activity.
- Don’t respond to any emails or text messages from anyone who says they’re with the IRS, as the organization contacts individuals via mail and phone only. Also note that no IRS representative ever will ask for immediate payment via phone.
For the survey report, and to learn more about tax identity theft and other credit topics, please visit the Ask Experian blog.
6) Maintaining Business Growth
Guest post by Sean Rudner, owner, owner of business resource StockPKG
Once the dust settles after a successful company launch, one common question comes to mind: Now what? Maintaining a company’s growth can be an intimidating task. Businesses must constantly be thinking of new and unique ideas while simultaneously fostering current relationships.
So, how do you successfully balance both? Here are four simple principles to help you be successful in growing a business.
Tip #1—Don’t Get “Shiny Object Syndrome”: Many companies become so focused on acquiring new business they completely forget about their existing customers. It is much less expensive to maintain an existing customer than it is to replace them. At StockPKG, we’ve implemented systems requiring us to stay in constant contact with our customer base. We make a point to call every single customer—large and small—on a regular basis. This helps maintain those solid relationships that are so necessary in the industry.
Tip #2—Goals, Goals, Goals: At StockPKG, we set monthly goals like many other companies, but have three specific aims outside of revenue and profitability:
- Total number of orders:We don’t concentrate on the size of orders, but simply the number of orders placed. If the job is done correctly, order size will grow in time.
- Total number of repeat customer orders:Since our priority is to maintain existing customers, the number of repeat orders from one customer holds extreme importance at StockPKG.
- Total number of new customers:Our team sets definite goals for our sales and customer service departments, placing them high enough so our employees work diligently. At the same time, we ensure they are fair and attainable. We provide daily assistance to our customers, helping them with their own businesses—truly believing in the notion if they succeed, we succeed.
Tip #3—You Can’t Save Your Way To Prosperity: Don’t get me wrong; we focus on controlling our costs. However, we make it a point to be a customer-oriented company. We are in a consumable business—we don’t look to generate our money on just one order. We keep our margins tight and review the customer’s worth over the lifetime of our business together.
Tip #4—Use Your Spare Time Productively: Many entrepreneurs choose to spend their spare time talking to their suppliers because it “feels good.” Instead, I spend that time talking to prospects and existing customers to learn more about their businesses (how they’re perceived by customers, ways to improve, etc.). Be sure to make the effort to pick up the phone and ask your customers specific questions on how you can improve as a supplier. You may be blown away with what you’ll discover.
7) Does Your Business Have a Video Void?
BlueJeans Network, a global leader in cloud-based video communication services, recently released global research revealing businesses are at risk of alienating their next generation of tech-savvy employees if they do not change their approach to new ‘live’ technologies.
Although 85% of employees use video as part of their everyday lives, only 28% say their employers are proactively encouraging them to use video at work to communicate. The majority (72%) think live video has the power to transform the way they communicate at work and 69% believe that increased use of video conversations would help employee retention.
The research also found only 14% of employers were considered good at providing communications tools at work that mirror what employees use at home. Almost two-thirds (63%) say their employers could make better use of live video, pointing to culture, collaboration and training as examples. Furthermore, 63% say that younger employees now expect to use live video as a communications tool when they enter the workplace.
Other findings include:
- Talent magnet: 51% would rather work for a company that embraces live video as a way to communicate, and 73% believe hiring of new staff could be transformed with video, changing relationships between employers and candidates as well as between bosses and employees at a cultural level (75%)
- Longing for live: 72% of employees admit they have higher expectations of information being readily available than they did two years ago, and 82% see live video playing a useful role within their companies over the next two years whether in training, troubleshooting customer issues or product collaboration
- Transforming meetings and inboxes: Seeing people rather than just hearing them is seen as a key benefit of video communication (60%). Furthermore, 68% see live video saving time spent in unproductive, long face-to-face meetings in the next five years, while over half (54%) see it significantly reducing the volume of email traffic
Almost 80% of American employees say collaboration and sharing is one of the most important ingredients to a successful company. And, over a third view the shared experience video conferencing provides as one of the top benefits.
For more information on the power of live video, download the BlueJeans Love Live report.
8) 6 Tips to Help You Succeed
Bill Lerner took his family business from the side of a gas station for parked vehicles to nearly 150 locations across New York. As a 40-year veteran in business Lerner offers six tips for those with an insatiable hunger for success.
- Be perceptive to the always-changing landscape of your industry. Before making any decisions, financial or otherwise, make sure you are aware of the fluctuations that can and will be happening in your industry. There should be a strong sense and vision for what might transpire as a result of that decision. Here at iPark, using perceptiveness (you can call it intuition) has been an invaluable tool when it comes to making big choices.
- Commit to your mission. Without commitment and confidence in your company’s mission, it can prove to be difficult down the road due to lack of passion. If there’s something missing from your business, work to edit or alter it until you are satisfied with your idea and prepared to share it with the rest of your team.
- Choose solid people as your team members. Speaking of your team, having a strong group of people working with and behind you is vital when it comes to an [running an] effective business. Choosing key players who are hardworking, creative and trustworthy can make an immense difference.
- Be willing to work harder than everyone else.It is no surprise hard work is on this list. To avoid sounding cliché, working diligently, digging deeper and exhausting all your efforts into your business is crucial. Your devotion coupled with perseverance will undoubtedly shine through thick and thin.
- Make every experience, even the negative ones, count. All too often it is easy to get discouraged when a plan does not yield desired results. Instead of regretting your mistakes, take the most valuable aspects and learn from them. Doing so will benefit you both professionally and personally.
- Get involved with your community. If and when you can, it never hurts to take a step back and be a part of the community by volunteering or [doing] charitable acts. Making an impact can strengthen not only yourself, but those around you. Billy4Kids has especially brought an incredible amount of joy, perspective and humility that have proved to be beneficial in and outside of the business world.