Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Secret to Spotting Hidden Opportunities

"That is one of the tricks of opportunity. It has a sly habit of slipping in by the back door, and often comes disguised in the form of misfortune or temporary defeat." Napoleon Hill - Think and Grow Rich

Want to pounce on the next opportunity, but keep missing them until you spot them with 20/20 hindsight? The solution is simple.

Stop looking at life the way you always have done. Change your perspective, change your view of the world and the opportunities will show up.

Take a basic example. You decide to buy a new car. You spend some time considering your options, number of seats, capacity, estate/saloon/mpv/sports model. You even think of a preferred colour. You make your choice, go out and buy it. All of a sudden, you find similar models to yours everywhere, when previously there were none to be seen.

Take another example - moving house. As soon as you privately decide to change where you live, you will be inundated with To Let and For Sale notices, even before you've let an estate agent know your requirements.

Now apply that to your future. Make a decision that you want a better life, and opportunities for advancement will appear. They just may not be in the form you expect them.

I've proven this to myself over the past few months. I applied for two jobs where I work, both promotions. In one case, I made it as far as the first part of the selection process. In the second case, I'm still waiting to be told "Thanks, but no thanks", let alone invited to interview. In both cases, there were two common factors - the internal recruitment process is skewed towards whoever the management see as the "obvious" candidate and the HR administration process is flawed. I'm still waiting for the feedback I requested over 3 months ago for the first interview, for example.

Now, I could bitch and moan about bias, sexism (I was the only female applicant in both cases) and blinkered corporate thinking. That wouldn't get me anywhere.

Instead, I took a good long look at what I wanted out of my life and realised that, if I want to steadily build up my own business until my business income can replace my salary, I'm actually in the best position to do so. If I got promoted, my day job workload would increase and I would be expected to put more hours in. Staying at my current level frees me to do more after work and allows me to organise my day so I can do more in my breaks.

I found my hidden opportunity, right in front of me.

What hidden opportunities are waiting for you?

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Kleeneze's Break Free Option Goes Global!

I was more than a little intrigued to find that the third most popular search term used to access my blog is бизнес леди (that's business lady for the non-Cyrillic readers). That search led to my Break Free Route to Retail Success post - which in turn has a link to my Kleeneze website.

Has news of our amazing product range and business opportunity reached the Cyrillic-speaking parts of East Europe, or has it just triggered a query from the Cyrillic communities here in the UK? Who knows? But it's nice to know our fame is spreading.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Hurt by Budget Cuts? Don't Protest - Build!

On Saturday, around a quarter of a million people travelled from all over the country to protest in London about the cuts to public services needed to reduce our national debt.

Many of those, travelling from as far away as Cornwall, Edinburgh and Yorkshire, spent over a hundred pounds each on travel and food. A quick check of train and bus fares online will show just how expensive supporting a protest can be.

That money could have been spent on joining Kleeneze and taking the first steps to building a lasting business, one that would insulate them from whatever budget cuts are affecting them for years to come.

I'm not making a judgement on the necessity or speed of these cuts. Protesting does little to improve our future prospects - British governments don't have a great track record when it comes to listening to demonstrators. Given that fact, isn't it better to take advantage of a low-cost startup, such as the Kleeneze business opportunity, to finally begin to take control of your own future?

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Not Interested? Help Us to Help You!

I was tidying up my business paperwork this evening when I came across my collection of rejection notes.These are the notes that people leave with the catalogues to let me know not to leave another set the next time around. They can range from the terse to the downright loquacious, encompassing rudeness and sweet politeness along the way.

Since I started my Kleeneze business, I've received notes scrawled on my day slips, my order forms, and in one case, on every single catalogue cover (front and back).

In all but a few cases, though, there is one common denominator. Nobody puts their address on the slips. That's great when the catalogues are collected in daylight, but when they are collected at night, as is usually the case, it can be difficult to read notes that are written in coloured ink, or pencil. Needless to say, not being Superman, it's also pretty difficult to read the notes tucked inside the collection of catalogues.

So, every so often, we miss recording where the "do not bother" note came from. This then irritates the resident when I deliver the next set of catalogues, and irritates me when I don't get the catalogues back because the resident has decided I'm not paying attention and throws my catalogues away to teach me a lesson.

Please, if you're not interested, add an address to the "no more" message. It helps us to help you.

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Facing Redundancy in Coventry? We Can Help.

It's not been a good week for Coventry workers - 563 jobs axed by AXA and voluntary redundancies requested by Bullivant Media. My deepest sympathies are with all affected. I've been made redundant twice, and suffered the stress of being "at risk" - which is a horrible euphemism for spending weeks wondering whether you still have a job or not.

If you're facing redundancy, reduced hours and/or a pay freeze, there are options you can look at right now to enhance or replace your current income.

I'm currently expanding my team of distributors in the Coventry area. I'm looking for 5 hard working, enthusiastic people who want to earn £50-£250 per week part time, or £10,000-£50,000 per annum full time.

I'm looking for two different types of people:

Firstly, those who wish to earn money by delivering and collecting our home shopping catalogues, either on a part or full time basis. This can typically earn you between £50-£250 per week part time, and £500+ per week full time.

Secondly, those who want to be team leaders, building their own team of distributors. This can typically earn you between £20,000 - £50,000 per annum, again on a part or full time basis.

Interested? Fill in your contact details on my website, and I'll call you back straight away.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Losing Your Distributors

This week I lost a distributor. I looked at my latest Group Analysis statement and she wasn't there anymore. I don't know whether her weeks of inactivity have caused her to be moved to a corporate reporting limbo zone or whether she's actually handed her kit back.

As always, my first response was to try and contact her. She's difficult to contact at the best of times, tending not to answer her phone, calling back very late at night if she returns my calls at all. There has been no response to either phone or email. This is all the more frustrating because, even if she no longer wants to be a Kleeneze distributor, talking with her could help me help others in the future.

Realistically, there's little I can do. Motivating team members in this industry is nothing like motivating people in a corporate environment, where team leaders have a captive audience who have to turn up for work. All I can do is stay in touch, one-way though that communication may be, and move on to supporting and encouraging others.

What would you do when this happens?

Thursday, 24 March 2011

How to Deal with Customer Complaints

I got a wake-up call yesterday, whilst I was out collecting straggler catalogues. I was told I wasn't professional enough. By a customer.

This customer used to be part of a Kleeneze distributorship, back in the '90s. Her comments on my professionalism stemmed from the fact I didn't knock on her door the night before to collect her order. She was also aggrieved about the fact that I hadn't fulfilled a previous order. Only one problem with that - she hadn't given me an order in the past 8 weeks, as I hadn't given her a catalogue in the past 8 weeks, as per her husband's instructions.

I could have got upset and let her know it - after all, if she ordered something from another Kleeneze distributor, there's not much I could do if the goods weren't delivered.

I chose not to. I apologised, promised I would always knock on the door in future, told her I'd no idea what had happened to her order and that I would not let her down again. I meant every word, and she realised that. I also opened up a little about why I was trying to build my Kleeneze business and why good customer relationships were so important to me. In doing so, I reinforced my own beliefs.

Sometimes it's good to tell others what your WHY is.

In return, she gave me some useful tips for managing my Kleeneze retail business and I will be implementing those over the next few weeks. Her husband joined in, with suggestions as to good areas to deliver catalogues, and I will follow up on his suggestions too.

We parted on friendly terms, and much of the potential damage has been dealt with. The rest can only be dealt with when I demonstrate, over time, that I am both professional and reliable.

What are your favourite ways of dealing with customer complaints?

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

How to Triple your Catalogue Order Value

My Kleeneze retail business is built up around blanket drops - I'm still building up my Kleeneze business and I have 3 hours per night after work to find potential customers, many of whom won't answer the door after dark. Many of them won't answer the door at all, expecting all callers to be warned off by signs like these:

 However, this week, I tried an experiment so that I could explain to potential team members the benefits of presenting the Kleeneze catalogues.

I put out 57 catalogues to customers who had bought from me in 2010, so I knew they would look at the catalogues. That's just over the number of catalogues you get in the basic Business Builder kit and would be the equivalent of somebody presenting catalogues to people who show an interest in looking at Kleeneze products.

Last night, after delivering my orders, I collected the catalogues in. As it was after 8pm, I just collected off doorsteps, rather than ringing and waiting. Of the 57 I put out, I got 41 back. Of those 41, I got 13 orders, totalling £140.

Normally, if I put out 200 catalogues, I get around 80% back in this area. Last night I got 72% back, so not much of a difference there. The difference is in the proportion of orders. Usually I get orders from 5% of the catalogues I put out, which equates to 6.25% of the catalogues I collect in. The order value per blanket dropped catalogue collected averages out at between 75p and £1 per catalogue in this area.

Last night I got orders from 23% of the catalogues I put out, or 32% of the catalogues I collected in. The order value per catalogue collected leapt to £3.41.

This just reinforces my belief that presenting catalogues is definitely the way to go. What I need to do now is work out how I can fit presenting in to my already tight schedule.

How do you prefer to build your retail business?

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Feel The Fear - It Works!

It seems like "Feel the Fear" is the buzz phrase right now - it's the subject of training videos, such as Eric Worre's, and Susan Jeffer's classic Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway has been republished for the umpteenth time.

Never one to stand in the way of a trend, I decided to take a chance and have my own Feel the Fear moment. I suffer from horrendous performance anxiety - I'm so scared of speaking, singing or playing solo that the mere thought will start me shaking. But friends encouraged me to sing a capella in a music festival class this year and, much to my surprise, I found myself sending off an entry form.

If I'd read the biography of the adjudicator, I wouldn't have dared enter. Having entered, I didn't want to let my friends down, so I spent the hour before my name was called, feeling terrifed and nauseous, trying to remember the words to my chosen song. I can't remember singing. I can vaguely remember applause. I didn't stop shaking for 20 minutes afterwards.

The adjudicator, a multi-tasking teacher, academic, choir master, author, arranger and a capella expert (!) described my efforts as "a promising performance", with "a lot of vocal strengths, and a really interesting voice quality" (?!) and "good diction ... clearly felt and expressed emotions..." I was too scared to asked in what way my voice was interesting. Maybe next time.

There will be a next time. Scary as it was, I've proved to myself that I can actually stand in front of an audience and survive. Next year, I'll do a lot better.

Plus, I've got no excuse now with anything related to my Kleeneze business. The only thing that terrifies me more than performing in public is holding a live cockroach (and that's never going to happen!); business building fears are small by comparison.

How do you cope with your fears?

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

How to Track your 90 Day Plan

You cannot be successful in anything if you do not know how you are doing. If you were dieting and did not measure your inch and weight loss each week, how would you know if you were reaching your targets?

So why do so few track their own business performance?

Yes, it takes discipline and effort. It takes persistent action. It takes commitment. But the rewards are worth it.

Start simple.

In the case of a catalogue-based business, such as Kleeneze, or Avon, that would mean daily retail tracking of catalogues out, catalogues collected, number of orders received, value of orders.

For all network marketing businesses, daily recruitment/sponsoring tracking would include lead generation type (adverts, online adverts, flyers, personal contact, warm market, etc.), how many of each lead generation method out, number of response, first contact calls, follow-up calls, number signed up.

How you monitor this tracking is up to you. Some use spreadsheets, some buy CRM suites, some use a notebook/filofax. The method of recording your tracking is not important. What matters is that you track your effort every day and review it every week.

When you review it, be honest with yourself. Did you do enough retail? Did you do enough recruitment effort? What can you do to improve this week? Reflect, Revise, Refocus.

Tonight, I collected in 167 catalogues out of the 198 I put out on Sunday. Those 167 catalogues generated 6 orders to a total of £70. That's not enough to support a growing business and I will be revising my strategy and activity accordingly. This is the last time I spend hours placing catalogues in an area already saturated with Kleeneze distributors, just to see if I can generate additional customers. Time to concentrate my efforts on a new area. I won't neglect my existing customers; but I will be smart about how I distribute my catalogues here from now on.

Monday, 7 March 2011

The Secret of Successful Leadership

Consider this quote from St. Augustine*:

"Disturbers are to be rebuked, the low-spirited to be encouraged, the infirm to be supported, objectors confuted, the treacherous guarded against, the unskilled taught, the lazy aroused, the contentious restrained, the haughty repressed, litigants pacified, the poor relieved, the oppressed liberated, the good approved, the evil borne with, and all are to be loved."

He was describing the role of a pastor, or spiritual leader, in the 5th century.

It's also an extremely good description of a successful leader in Kleeneze in the 21st century.

A Kleeneze leader has to be able to teach the new team members, encourage those whose are depressed that their businesses aren't doing well, energise those who aren't doing enough to move their businesses forward, recognise those who are doing well and provide support to those who, through no fault of their own, have "poorly" businesses.

A leader also has to provide boundaries and guidelines for their team, so that disruptive members are controlled and brought back on track, whilst complaints are dealt with promptly and successfully.

Being a leader isn't about managing or micro-managing every last activity of the team. It's about being a mother - supporting, guiding, nurturing, defending and finally, standing back and allowing your team to fly the nest and set up their own teams. Even then, you still support, guide, nurture and defend when necessary. It's about caring more about your team than you do about yourself. It's about knowing that caring for others can mean "tough love" as well as praise. It's about doing what needs to be done, no matter how tired, miserable or stressed you might be, because you need to set a good example. It's about knowing that, when you do the job right, your main reward is the fact your team think they've done it all by themselves - and still doing that job.

I spent a fantastic afternoon in the company of established, new and proto-Leaders at the Kleeneze Live event at Warwick on Saturday. Everybody who was there, whether speaking, supporting, or attending, was a wonderful example of our entrepreneurial drive and humanity. I feel proud to be part of such an amazing family.

*Paraphrased, AFAIK by John T. McNeill

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

90 Day Plan - Day 1 - Getting Organised

For years, I've shied away from being thought of as "managing". That one word always summed up visions of the headmistress at my all-girls' grammar school; think of a slim version of Margaret Rutherford (the original Miss Marple) crossed with one of Maggie Smith's less endearing characters, such as Constance, Countess of Trentham in Gosford Park, and you've got the idea.

Trouble is, that means I've also avoided being organised, and that's not a good thing when you're a single mum with a 105 minute commute, a full-time career and a minimal social life who is trying to build up her Kleeneze business.

I have bought Eat That Frog! and Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivityand I'm working my way through both of them at the moment.

It has to be said, though, that the best thing I've done so far is set up my own CRM application. With a little self-discipline, I have all my customer and prospect documentation in one place, so that no matter where I am, I can access it easily. Not only that, but I have a 90 day plan drafted out. I'm putting the finishing touches to it tonight.

Next step, putting the plan into action. My enthusiasm's back, I'm fired up and ready to go!