Small Fish - Small Business Tips and the Latest News

The Corporation as a Psychopath - Not So Present In Small Business?

This article was prompted, as I arrived at Gold Coast airport this morning, skipping to Sydney to try to learn something, by the (new?) sign at the airport car park “Premium Parking”.

Premium Parking? $30 a day! First Class begins even before you board. Or some such crap.

I chose business coaching because I was sick of the corporate attitude - you’ve heard of the idea that the corporation is a psychopath? It has no soul nor conscience, it exists only to make money for its shareholders. 

This breeds, in the corporation and in its employees, an attitude that neglects the human aspects of business - caring about people, being responsible and having obligations to other people and to the environment and to community. The idea that people will pay extra (probably with their company credit card) for a special parking spot that lifts them above the ordinary plebs somehow is part of this rubbish isn’t it?

I know that it’s not always like this and that some large companies talk about their responsibilities but it’s also true that these kinds of discussion are almost always talked about in terms of the bottom line.

So I left the world of expense accounts and company cars, business lunches and jollies and became a business coach.

I chose small business, where the owners are real people who know their employees, live in the same community as their employees, whose children go to the same schools and whose community is the same one as the one they work in.

I like the way small business owners feel responsible for their staff and for helping them earn a living. I like the way we meet in local community groups and spend our money locally, how we (most of us) like to give back somehow - volunteering in community and business groups, networking, managing our children’s sports teams.

It doesn’t really matter what the contribution is and this little thought doodle doesn’t mean to suggest that employees of large businesses don’t contribute to society outside work or don’t care about their communities - they very clearly do.

And I guess that the world of small business is not free of pettiness or small-minded meanness either, because we come across that here, too.

But it’s still a nicer place to be - better for your soul, I think. Whatever you think your soul is.

Am I right? Is this your experience, too?

Is their joy in the community you live in and work in that makes up for the lunches and car parks? It’s true for me although I admit I miss the lunches. I liked the lunches.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching

Ultimate Survival Guide to Designing and Marketing Your Business

Announcing our friend's monthly webinar in Murwillumbah - only of interest if you are near there!

Design and marketing for a small business.

It will be interesting. See flyer below for all the details.

Stress and How To Handle It

It’s a rare person in small business who doesn’t feel stressed.

Let’s face it, as small business owners we have all the right ingredients to make us super-stressed. We’re more exposed to the reality of uncertainty. We have less predictability than someone who is employed. And we quite often don’t have the support of someone we can bounce ideas off or who will pick up the slack when we’re not ‘on’.

We’re not really built to be dealing with these stressors on a daily basis. We were designed in cave man days where almost nothing happened all the time. We mostly lolled about, dining on sumptuous local produce, and having hippy-commune style sex. We were only beset by the occasional sabre-tooth tiger attack or the more frequent stress of falling down after imbibing too much of the juice of fermented berries.

Life was predictable, fairly certain and we had the support of the tribe if we needed to make big decisions like ‘should I wear my bear fur over my left or right shoulder?’.

Luckily, these days you can hire yourself a Business Coach to help you manage these stressors. And I highly recommend you do.

Another thing you can do to deal with stress is change the way you look at it. Despite everything you’ve read or heard saying that stress is bad, there is new research that suggests that stress is rather helpful. We perform better at an optimal level of stress (not too much, not too little). Our concentration improves, we can stay more focused on tasks, and we can get more done in less time.

One way we can keep it at an optimal level is to see it in a different light.

If we perceive that stress is helping our performance, it helps. If we see stress as our body preparing us to face the challenges ahead then our body will go into a state of courage rather than stress. And if we can get excited about how our business is stretching us and helping us grow we can feel excited rather than stressed.

If you want to feel more in control of your business and therefore your stress, hire a Small Fish Business Coach. The faster you do it, the better your business will be and the earlier I can retire to a life of sex, sumptuous eating and serious lolling.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

Keep Customers Happy With Rewards

How many clients did you contact these past few weeks? It better be a lot, since we haven't been in touch for awhile!

Who doesn’t love presents? Or praise? Or some unexpected little treat? I know I do. Customers love these too.

I’ll give you a little scenario. your dog. What does he get everytime he does something good? A reward. A pat on the head. A doggy biscuit. Words of encouragement.

Customers do good too. They buy from you. They engage your services. They pay you money which puts food on your table and a roof over your head. I think they deserve a reward for that.

Lots of people respond better to recognition than they do to ‘things’. So try thanking your customer for their business. Show gratitude for them choosing your business. I can feel the warm-fuzzy’s radiating from them already.

Let’s not discount that presents are also nice. Is there something physical you can reward your customers with after they’ve been involved with your business? Can you send them a pen or coffee mug with your logo on it? (good top-of-mind awareness stuff there too (part 4) - every time they use the pen or mug they think of you). Ooh I’m good with the overlapping strategies today! Could you find something that is personally meaningful to the particular customer that shows that you know them (part 2)? Ooh I’m on fire! Maybe you could send them a reward on an anniversary (part 1). Ok now I’m getting carried away.

Anyway, you get the picture.

What would your customers want to be rewarded with? How can you start to implement the reward system? Next: Implement it.

Ps. I’m open to being rewarded for sending these awesome newsletters too. Champagne please. French champagne please. Thanks. You’re awesome.

Jon Dale
Small Fish Business Coaching Byron Bay

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