Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

What's your biggest frustration in business?

Last week I asked you what's your biggest frustration in business

We've had a few good responses, but we are still collating data. That means we want more!

I told you I'd reveal my top three this week. 

I've been involved in (or told about) similar surveys before.

Top were:

1. Getting more customers
2. Staff

Apparently by a long way.

Personally, I like both of those things but I currently don't employ anyone so that might be why.

When I was managing a large (25) team of franchisees, their individual annoying complaints and the (often perfectly legitimate) reasons for not doing what I wanted but instead doing what was important to them (who'd have thought?) pissed me off mightily.

I'm also no fan of admin and fiddly things that get in the way of the fun stuff like cutting deals or the next project. I hear I'm not untypical of entrepreneurs, business owners and salesmen.

And GST. I don't like that much.

And rules, especially compliance based rubbish like "got to have a bullying policy". I hate being told what to do and I hate that government puts this overhead of compliance on me when I should be out doing what I'm good at and trying to make money out of it.


What about you? Go to the survey now and tell me what's your top 3 frustrations in business.

There is still a bottle of bubbly in it for one lucky respondent!

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Biggest Frustration in Business

We thought it might be fun to do some comparing. 

What pisses you off the most about your business or in your business or about being in business? 

Click here to tell us your answers. 

I'll tell you mine next week, as I don't want to pre-empt any of your answers :) 

We'll publish the results of this little survey when we're sick of waiting for more responses.

PS - If you respond to our survey, one lucky person will be sent a bottle of bubbly as a thank you!

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Northern Rivers

You Can’t Keep Your Customers Happy If They Can’t Remember Who You Are

How did you go with your F*%k Up Repair Strategy? If you didn’t do it last week, you’d better do it now.

There’s this little thing in business psychology called ‘top-of-mind-awareness’. Basically, when you’re top-of-mind to your customers, you are the first person they think of when they need a service or business like yours. You’re at the top of their mind when they’re sorting through their memory banks.

This is a good thing if we want customers to keep coming back to us and to refer new business to us.

How do we stay top-of-mind?

We stay in touch.


There are lots of different views on how often is enough but I bet ‘enough’ is more than you feel comfortable with. This is where it’s good to get creative with how you contact your existing customers.

It helps to know who your customers are and what they want. (Remember back to Part 2?). If you know what your customers want then it’s easy to contact them regularly with things that they’ll appreciate.

No-one wants to be contacted with “hey, when are you going to buy from me again?” We all have WIIFM (What’s In It For Me) Syndrome. Customers especially. So offer them what they want. Give them something they’ll value that doesn’t ask for anything in return. Maybe it’s quick, easy to use information and strategy to improve your business via weekly emails - see I’m on to you ;) Maybe it’s hearing about your upcoming specials (maybe even as a VIP before the general public find out). Maybe it’s simply “I was just thinking of you the other day and thought I’d see how you are.”

Our customers’ brains (and ours so make this a habit) like familiarity and consistency. It breeds trust. If you stay in contact regularly with your customers, you are seen as familiar and trustworthy, which makes your business the one they will stay loyal to over trying someone else.

Brainstorm new ways to keep in contact with your existing customers keeping WIIFM Syndrome in mind. Then contact them. This week. More good bossy business coaching from me. I’ll be checking on you - accountability :)

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Keeping Customers Happy - Even When You F*%k Up

Did you get personal with your customers last week? I hope you did!

Let’s face it, we all f*%k up sometimes. Surprisingly, a good f*%k up can be an opportunity to build trust and loyalty with your customers.

Let’s take a little lesson from love. If you’re anything like me, you can remember back to the last argument you had with your partner. If you’re lucky like me, you would have heard a genuine, heartfelt “sorry, how can I make it better” from your partner. If you’re anything like me you will always be right and should hear this a lot ;)

How quickly did a heartfelt apology and desire to rectify the problem make your anger fall away? It’s the same for your customers. If you f*%k up with your customers, apologise and try to fix it. Immediately. Even if you think they’re wrong. Bad news travels fast and if you piss off an already irate customer, that news will travel faster than all f*%k to a LOT of other potential customers.

Genuinely trying to fix the problem and taking a no excuses approach (“sorry, I f*%cked up” rather than “I f*%cked up because of…..”) will help your customer see you’re human (like them), you make mistakes (like them) and you know how to make everything better. They may remember your f*%k up but how you repair it will be foremost in their mind and will be the story they tell other people.

Think about how you handle customer complaints and how you handle your f*%k ups. What do you need to change about how you deal with it? Do you need to learn to swallow your pride? Do you need to respond to them faster?

Set a plan in place about how you will deal with them in future. Make sure your team is on board with your F*%k Up Repair Strategy. DO IT!

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Keep Your Customers Happy By Getting Personal

Did you set up your database last week? Told you I’d be checking on you!

To keep customers happy you need to know what they want. And you get to know what they want by getting to know who they are.

When was the last time you asked your customers for feedback on your service or business? If you have face-to-face contact, when was the last time you asked them about their lives and things they enjoy?

When you know more about your customer you have more opportunities to keep them happy. Whether it’s purely for marketing purposes – these customers buy this stuff only so I’ll only send marketing materials for those products rather than bug them with everything. Too much in-your-face contact can put people off.

When you know more about your customers on a personal level you can help them in ways that may be unrelated to your business but builds trust and gratitude, both of which release feel good chemicals in the brain. Giving more than customers expect is a great way to keep them loyal. Givers, rather than takers or matchers, are over-represented in the ‘successful’ category. Isn’t that the category you want to be in? Then be a ‘giver’ to your customers.

Can you find a way you can help your customer? Can you make an introduction that would help them with an issue they’re facing? Can you solve a problem they have? Can you recommend a resource that might be useful to them?

What one thing could you do this week to get to know your customers better? Think about it then DO IT!

Here are some ideas:

  • An email or survey asking for feedback on your business, what could be improved etc.
  • A quick call to a customer at the completion of a job with the aim of finding out how it went, what keeps them happy about your work, and what else might be helpful to them.

Ask these questions via your social media marketing.

One more thing – when you get feedback, make sure you act on it. Trust is everything in small business.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

How to keep customers happy

This is a series of posts about ways to keep your customers happy, both from personal experience and our client's experiences.

Part 1: How to keep your customers happy.

Apparently it costs 5 times as much to get a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Depending on what you’re reading at the time, it could be more like 8 or even 10 times more. Let’s say 10 – it sounds more dramatic.

So if it costs 10 times more to get a new customer, doesn’t it make sense to ensure that your existing customers are really, really happy?

When you consider that research says around 60% of people say they would pay more for a better customer experience and around 90% said they started doing business with a competitor after a bad customer experience, it makes sense to make sure your customer service is impeccable.

So what does that mean?

People respond to people. Especially in small business, giving your customers the personal touch makes all the difference. I’m not talking taking them for a candlelit dinner for their birthday. Sending a card or text will do. People like to know you’re thinking of them. It makes them feel special and important, which makes them feel more attached to you and your business, and therefore more loyal.

So here is my task for you today:

If you don’t already have one, set up a database NOW with reminders for birthdays or anniversaries you shared with the customer. 

There is a great service we sometimes use, called Sendoutcards. No, they didn't ask me to plug them, but I do use the service sometimes, and you can easily set up beautiful cards to be sent to your clients to say thank you, or wish them a happy birthday. It takes 15 minutes to set up and is quite easy to use.

I’ll be checking to make sure you’ve done it. I’d make a good business coach – strategy, tools, bossiness, and accountability.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

How to make your emails useful

Despite the obvious fact that this is an email and you are reading it now, most of us don't bother reading them.

How many do you get every day?

I get between 50 and 100 emails every day and almost half are stupid bulk emails from people like Groupon offering me cheap towels or something. I unsubscribe often but it seems (mysteriously) not to work....

So I get about 50 that require me to do something or respond somehow. I'm trying to do a days work as well as respond to emails so I have a (sort of) system for them. It goes like this (and I don't think I'm unusual or special):

Is it from someone I know and like or do regular work with?

If so, I'll read it quickly and decide whether to respond immediately or save it for when I'm back at my desk and not trying to type on a mobile phone.

(Sometimes I get to my desk, I forget the email - they drop below the fold and they might as well be gone forever)

Is it interesting or short enough to be dealt with in one go?

Well maybe I'll read it or deal with it while I'm between meetings or having that coffee, then.

Anything else tends to fall into the last category - perhaps I'll read it or deal with it later when I have time. Which is usually not soon.

Now maybe this just illustrates what a retard I am and that I need to rethink my email management (probably something there) but I suspect that email overload applies to a lot of us too.

20% is a good open rate for an email list that is opted in.

So rethink your communicating. If it is important - call them up.

Follow up with a confirmatory email if you need to reinforce something or give them info - they're already past the filter.

And, if your staff think that sending an email absolves them of responsibility for stuff, don't let them get away with it.

Hands up whose email marketing, or even direct email communications, sometimes (often) go unanswered?

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

How to make your team perform better

Last week, Jon gave a leadership talk at the Leadership Summit.  If you've missed it, we've got a free download for you here.

He talks about:
  1. the leadership process and how you can use it in a small business
  2. some recent psychological learning that can help you be a better leader.
  3. three simple things you can start doing right away to help you get your team performing better.
Get motivated on your way to work and listen to it in your car, or just put it on around the house while you're cleaning. You're bound to get some good insight into your leadership ways. 

After you've listened to the download, leave your comments in the comments below and tell us what you thought. We always love to hear your feedback.

Leadership Summit - Jon Dale Guest Speaker on Leadership for Small Business

Jon is talking at the Macro Recruitment Leadership Summit, next week.

Someone reckons he's one of the top 20 leadership experts in the world, which seems unlikely (how do you measure that stuff?).

Anyway, he believes he's got a few interesting observations to make about leading people and how important that is if you are a leader (and you are if you employ people).

He's drawing from leadership training he received when at Optus, from his experience during that time and from his experience as a business coach, where leading is a little more direct and close and real world.

Expect some simplified theory and some real world do-able initiatives for you to take in your business, to make your people perform better.

It's completely free, did we mention that?

So if you want to hear your daily dose of wisdom from Jon and maybe become a better leader, be sure to book your ticket here:

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

My business is killing me - responses and further thoughts

Last weeks musing on whether you should get out of your business before it kills you got some emotional responses.

I won't name anybody (that wouldn't be fair) but one guy has had a rough year or three and is hanging on by the skin of his teeth - selling personal assets to carry the business through until orders start coming in again in a few months.

I can feel his pain as I write this. He even had a business coach (spent $60,000 over 18 months) who failed to foresee the changing markets that made life so hard (that's a whole different conversation, isn't it? - more of that one next time, perhaps)

There's still no easy answer to the problem, either - if he holds on and the deals come through and he gets his (rather interesting-looking business) back on track, I'm sure he'll be pleased and feel vindicated.

If he stops trading or finds a buyer and they make it succeed, he'll always wish he kept going.

And if he sells his last assets and fails anyway, he'll have wasted those too and end up with nothing.

Interestingly, they say that most of our most successful millionaires have been bust twice.....

So what would you do? We are interested to hear your thoughts on a situation like this, so leave your feedback in the comments below, or email them to me.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay