As regular readers of this blog will surely attest, small-business owners love to share tips about everything from launching a company during a recession to creating a great customer experience. JJ Ramberg (pictured), host of the MSNBC-TV program Your Business and an entrepreneur herself, knows how to cater to our crowd.
Her new book, It’s Your Business: 183 Essential Tips That Will Transform Your Small Business, offers actionable, practice advice that she’s gleaned from interviews with thousands of successful entrepreneurs during the past six years for her program.
Here are five tips from the book that strike a chord with us.
Tip #12 — “Be ready with a photo pitch on your phone.” Ever been in a situation — say, on a plane or at a cocktail reception — in which you wished you could show someone the product you’re talking about? Go for immediacy and keep a visual or two on your smartphone (or at least the link to one).
Tip #30 — “Swap jobs with your business partner.” It could help prevent burnout and be a source of great new ideas, because each of you will bring a new perspective to dealing with the challenges and opportunities faced in that role.
Tip #71 — “Fix performance issues by rewarding the whole team.” By motivating a department to work together to solve a problem, it may be resolved more quickly. Ramberg cites the example of Ann Arbor, Mich. Zingerman’s Delicatessen. Co-owner Ari Weinzweig promised the entire staff $50 each if they fixed scheduling problems related to catering events and
went at least 50 days without a late delivery.
Tip #105 — “Never put down competitors.” Take the high road when a potential customer asks you to comment on the competition: Concentrate on talking about why your products and services are the best option. You’ll come off as both professional and credible.
Tip #119 — “End customer interactions on a positive note.” You’ve heard that old adage about first impressions. It turns out that the last ones are just as important. You can also make an impact by guiding customers to focus on something positive during your interaction. “Studies show that endings are incredibly important in determining how we remember experiences,” Ramberg writes.
What advice resonates personally for Ramberg, who founded the five-year-old startup GoodSearch.com, a Yahoo-driven site that makes a charitable donation for every search you request?
She offered these two tidbits in an interview with the Intuit Small Business Blog about the book:
“The first comes from my mom, who was a very successful entrepreneur. Her favorite book was The Little Engine That Could, and she always taught me and my siblings that you have to believe ‘I think I can.’ You need that faith to get you through the moments when you’re up at 3 a.m. worrying about something!
“My favorite practical tip is you should not give performance reviews at the same time as salary reviews. If you give someone a stellar review and then a small bump in salary, they’ll walk away upset, rending that praise you just heaped on them useless.”