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B2B: Your Best Customer is a Successful Business

by Hassan del Campo of Micro Business Monday™

Business-to-business (B2B): only approach businesses that are profitable. Businesses that are not performing cannot necessarily be assisted by your service or product (there are some exceptions, such as a business consultant who specializes in generating profits for other businesses).

Consider for a moment that business is largely psychological. In the world of business-to-business you aren’t dealing with “entities” or robots. You are engaging people. People have emotions that trigger predictably irrational decision-making. The good news is we all do this. During my career as a nonprofit professional I worked for one organization that was nearing the end of its cycle. Out of desperation to keep doors open and payroll current, we pursued funding disguised as proverbial life-jackets. We abandoned our strategic plan (actually, we never used one) and acted out of fear. We were so jaded from the stress of salvaging the organization that we wouldn’t have seen a window of opportunity if a bird flew through it.

You need to work with a business (owner) that has the resources, time, and desire to commit to growth and looks forward to utilizing your service or product to advance their bottom line. Let businesses that aren’t ready to use your service, but that you desire as a client, know that you have interest in working with them when it makes sense (pun unintended).

Find commonality with your prospects. Instead of highlighting your differences; why your business stands out from the competition – you need to find commonality. Saying we’re the best because we do X and nobody does it , and you should hire us because you don’t understand X…just alienates you from and the other person. Deepen the connection by establishing a relationship built on trust. Show you’ve been in their shoes and give yourself permission to highlight your vulnerabilities as opportunities for strength and change.

LinkedIn is an essential tool for nurturing b2b relationships. Consider your audience and give special attention to the opening summary. Here are some tips we ran across.

If the success of your business is dependent on other businesses (as customers) then it makes sense that your best customer would be a successful business.

Businesses that are struggling indicate a mechanical issue that should be resolved by the business and the owner(s) before they consider taking on and paying for additional obligations. The premise is not to be critical of businesses that aren’t producing profit. The idea is to identify your “best-fitting” customers and discern from those that in this moment in time have not reached a stage appropriate for what you have to offer. You can revisit these businesses later after they have made some adjustments. Remember, it is a two-way street. Ideally, the interaction should be rewarding and enjoyable for both parties involved. And, if you have the dedication and some particular personal interest in the business, you can always offer to get involved in a more profound way.

/business–to–business.

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You Need to give customers an experience, not customer service

by Hassan del Campo of Micro Business Monday™

To deepen the understanding of this term, first swap the term customer service for customer experience. What type of experience do you want your customers to have? It is important to think of interactions in this way, for the simple fact experiences, whether good, bad, or neutral, can linger for quite some time. In fact, we all use these previous impressions for all future decisions, judgement, and choice.

Every time you interact with your customer, you create an experience of varying intensity for that person that can be an extension of an old experience. Consider that the customer may channel past experiences in order to make a decision. While we can’t step into the minds of our customers to understand how to approach, there may be clues – shared experiences that  are essential to understanding how to effectively serveour customer.

While developing a strategic marketing plan for a client with a growing plumbing business I had to consider common misconceptions of plumbers and experiences the average customer may have likely had. Like the popular image of the “sleazy car salesperson”, there may exist an equally negative connotation to challenge before winning over a customer. Remember, even a neutral position on a product or service is enough to turn away a potential sale. This can be especially true when you offer something truly unfamiliar to that customer.

In 2014 I, along with two business partners, launched a social enterprise cafe. As you know, running a customer service-intensive business such as a restaurant, one in which the customer receives several “touches” from the business, requires an understanding of how to best frame that interaction.

Activity extends the experience.

I recall one day one of our regular customers came in on a particularly busy day. We were running a waffle-themed fundraiser for a local charity and I happened to be working the register at the time. Because we hadn’t discussed a system for handling orders along with the special fundraiser requests, I unfortunately forgot to put in the customer’s order. Several minutes later he reappeared asking for the status of his salad and almond milk latte. My face turned red and my chin dropped; “I’m truly sorry sir. I must’ve forgot to put your order in.” After he chewed into me with a verbal insult he left the cafe empty-handed and hungry. I offered a free meal on the house and apologized several times over, but the damage was done. I just created a very negative experience for him that day, which led to a scathing email sent to my partners about my performance.

It was embarrassing. I let my team down. I thought to myself, “Well, I guess I just caused us to lose a very good customer.” In my mind that experience was a lost cause. There was clearly nothing I could do to resolve what I had caused, or so I thought.

Looking back, I had used my negative association of that experience as an excuse to stop trying to reach out to that customer. Subsequently, the customer returned and I did my best to avoid him. Why? What I didn’t realize then that I realize now is that experience between myself and the customer was not left at the counter. In fact, it picked up where it began every time the customer walked through our doors. And each moment, each latte purchase signaled an opportunity to change the direction of that narrative to a positive ending.

Have you ever found yourself not putting as much effort to acquire a certain customer or client over another?

As business owners we must think ourselves the co-authors of our customers’ experiences. We have the ability to mold the experience so as long we can reach that customer.

If you’re seeking a guide on developing a system for great customer experiences (and what to do when things don’t go right), I highly recommend Zingerman’s Guide to Giving Great Customer Service. It’s an easy, short read. Don’t make the mistake of believing you’ve got customer service all figured out because you think it’s “common sense”. There is always something to be learned.

/customer service.

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Networking is the Art of Being Yourself in a Crowd

by Hassan del Campo of Micro Business Monday™

In its simplest form, networking is the ongoing process of nurturing relationships with people to advance a certain objective from a place of common interest. As an entrepreneur – as an agent of change – networking can be one of your most effective skills to cultivate. Why?

Relationships are essential. And in many ways who can vouch for you is a reflection of who you are as a person. The following are just five objectives (however, there are more) every entrepreneur should satisfy through their network:

  1. Build and protect your reputation
  2. Create strong connections…advocates
  3. Demonstrate your value
  4. Develop a support group
  5. Broaden your brand

In order to keep your networking effective and genuine you should first accept that every connection you make may not necessarily lead to a new job, a lucrative business deal, or any other self-interest. Here, the adage “the more you give, the more you receive” or any other variation thereof holds true. Networking gives others the opportunity to validate your worth and your work. A strong network is one in which the people within it advocate for you, especially when you need them the most. When you tap into your network you activate the power of relationships. Whether seeking a strong referral after a sudden job loss or establishing your business in a new market, with whom you shake hands and exchange smiles could be your ultimate asset. And in this digital age where long-lasting relationships can spark from a clever hashtag or a thoughtful Facebook post, we must be even more cognizant of the different ways these social interactions take place and learn how best to exploit them.

Need to grow your network? Start with LinkedIn, Meetups, and “small talk”

If there aren’t any organized groups available in your area you always have the option of creating one yourself. A co-working space, a neighborhood coffee shop (you should communicate with the owner beforehand), a shared community space, a living room – nearly any space can be formatted for hosting a networking group. If identifying a location is a challenge, online gatherings organized through a Facebook group can be just as effective.

Predictably, life happens unpredictably. It’s a wicked paradox that we must all observe and yet makes the perfect case for being seen and heard. At its core, networking reminds us of the value of relationships in every facet of life.

/networking.

#FinallyFunded | Yummy+Society

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If you’ve been following our Facebook page you may have noticed our campaigning for our most recent Kiva borrower Marieme Haynes and her emerging small business Yummy+Society. The business offers delicious, nutritious, healthy, and convenient alternatives for your morning food routine. Marieme set out for a crowdfunding goal of just under $10,000 through Kiva; a popular web-based platform that connects private lenders to aspiring entrepreneurs and families across the world. Kiva allows their borrowers to borrow at zero percent interest with no collateral or credit score consideration. It’s truly a great opportunity for those coming from communities were access to capital (for micro-entrepreneurs) and credit are out of reach.

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As a Kiva Trustee, RISE can endorse any local borrower using the Kiva platform. Additionally, we assist in promoting the campaign by reaching out to our network and asking for support. Successful campaigns are ones that use the power of great story-telling across social media platforms to tell a story and get people excited enough to participate.

 

We brought ‘Drake’ and more ‘Tacos’ to Kiva

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We’ve been toying with the idea of either creating or joining a Kiva Team for at least a year now. Yesterday, we finally made the plunge. Why Drake? Why tacos? Well, for starters, there were several other names considered – among them; Kiva South LA, Capital Partners, and other variations. We finally decided on something that would attract some attention…and hopefully, make you smile. So, Less Drake, More Tacos was born. Sometimes in the middle of this endless battle to save the world and bring change to  your community , you gotta remind yourself to smile..laugh..and enjoy the little things. Or as Drake would say “the little tings”.

If you’re a casual Drake fan and lover of tacos (who doesn’t love tacos?) then you can show our team some love and join. The more, the merrier.

 

Block Party & Job Fair comes to South LA

“Good Jobs, Good Health, Good Life”

(A New Kind of Block Party & Job Fair for People, Veterans and Community!)

Coming To This Community On

Saturday, November 12, 2016

9:00 am to- 4:00 pm

RSVP at http://bit.ly/goodjobsgoodhealth

 

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This Job Fair (and first block party to come to South LA in recent memory) is designed specifically for the unemployed and underemployed that desire the latest information about current jobs, workshops to get resumes ready, getting “on-line” access points up-to-date, mock interviews to prepare “for the real interview”, on-site interviews and employers that are “ready to hire”!

Unlike anywhere else in the City of Los Angeles, South Los Angeles has sorely lagged behind the economic recovery everyone else is talking about. RISE Financial Pathways strives to support its surrounding communities with programs that meet their needs. As you may know, RISE Financial Pathways‘ mission is to create and enhance community development programs that create wealth in disinvested communities. We believe it is the time to deliver on the promise of jobs and employment in a new way.

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This one-of-a-kind event will be held at RISE offices, located in the heart of South Los Angeles, will be held outside in the surrounding space of the offices. There will be on-site “healthy” access points including workshops on healthy working environments, how to be healthier in your workspace and on-site blood pressure and basic health check-ups.

We endeavor to bring the latest information, people, speakers and health points to our neighborhood, and we would like you to join us! Your participation is the partnership we are looking for. Please mark your calendar and assist us in making this job fair everything it can be! Sponsorships are available by calling our Business Development Consultant, Faye Geyen, at (323) 944-8356; apersonneltouch@yahoo.com or our offices at 323-233-1900. We look forward to working with you on this spectacular event!

RSVP at http://bit.ly/goodjobsgoodhealth

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Click graphic above for sponsorship opportunities

Sponsorship Form

Booth Reservation Form

WOVEN LA…Returns for second round in September!

Calling All Women Veteran Entrepreneurs yourmission

 

The popular WOVEN LA (Women Veteran Entrepreneur Network) program returns for its second round, starting the first week of September. Participants can expect to be connected to a myriad of small business and social services resources, in addition to in-class training, guest speakers, and networking events.

First begins Saturday, September 3rd from 10 am to 2 pm. Follow the link to register.

Making a Website for Your Micro Business Part 2

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We had such a great discussion that we decided to add a part two! This time around we’ll be building a sample website together. If you have a laptop, please feel free to bring it! We have free wifi for you to use during the session. Last session we looked at real-world examples of how entrepreneurs are using Wix, Instagram, Facebook Pages, Twitter, Tumblr and other platforms as an alternative to the “traditional” website platforms. The second session will delve into one web platform followed by an in-class demonstration of building a homepage from scratch!