Are You Using a Customer Relationship Management Tool for Your Small Business?

If not, you definitely should consider it.

On the show yesterday, I mentioned the Streak Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool.

I firmly support the use of a tool like Streak, and encourage any startup that will be building and maintaining relationships with customers through email to use Streak or something like it.

Streak integrates marvelously with Google’s Gmail, if that is your email tool. It’s free to start, and it’s very powerful at that level.

If you have a customer relationship team, it handles that, too.

Streak also does Work In Progress (WIP) or Kanban pipelines for project management, too.

If you want to try it, please use this link. Any funds I get through this will directly benefit, so it all goes for good.

It Starts With The Customer

Every business needs them. Let’s talk about the customer first.

Every business needs them and can’t exist long without them, so let’s think about them first.

The key questions are:

  1. Who are they, specifically, sometimes even by name or single organization?
  2. What problem are you solving for them?
  3. How much are they willing to pay to solve this problem?
  4. What is the timeline or location expected?
  5. How do they measure quality, progress, or success in buying a solution to their problem?
  6. How is this customer solving this problem today? Is it with your competitor, and if so, what will you do to differentiate yourself from that competitor?
  7. How does the customer pay for the solution and how will you deliver your product or service to them?
  8. What relationship will you want to form as you serve that customer at each stage of the purchase from initial contact, sales, delivery, and support?

All of these questions could effect how you structure your product or service and could also affect how you run your business.

In the end, without happy, paying, lasting customers, you have no business and you won’t be in business for long.

The other elements of the Business Plan are important, but none are more important than knowing your customer.

There’s more to know, so look for more in you competition’s publications and in how your customer satisfies THEIR customer, too.

Entrepreneurial Habits of Mind

Wondering what an entrepreneurial mindset includes? Here’s one guide.

In our program we’ll be talking a LOT about many habits of mind around entrepreneurship. These habits, in general, have been heavily documented in the excellent text, “Students At The Center“, and in a separate post, Cameron Herold in a TED Talk also discusses his perspective on these habits as they apply to entrepreneurship. We’ve attempted to align them in the table below. We hope you find enlightenment in them.

Habits of MindEntrepreneurial Mindset
PersistingEntrepreneurs are nothing if not persistent. Often taking persistence past the point of rationality, but few successful entrepreneurs have reached success without persisting past significant negative reaction. Negative responses almost become a badge of honor like a rite of passage.
Thinking and communicating with clarity and precisionFor reasons of efficiency and risk management, entrepreneurs must make clear-headed plans that are communicated to others effectively, yet simply
Managing impulsivityThis goes with responsible risk-taking
Gathering data through all sensesYes, and through their network of communications
Listening with understanding and empathyYes, as part of getting to know their customers needs better than their customer does
Creating, imagining, innovatingYes, but not randomly
Thinking flexiblyYes, and looking for similarities and connections with other ideas
Responding with wonderment and aweEntrepreneurs go beyond awe and ask why and how to make something better
Thinking about thinking (metacognition)Entrepreneurs have to know their customers better than they know themselves.
Taking responsible risksNo good entrepreneur is reckless
Striving for accuracyYes, but not at the risk of missing an opportunity by demanding perfection at every step. Entrepreneurs understand the benefit of being a first-mover.
Finding humorRequired to persist past the negativity and challenges
Questioning and posing problemsYes, part of the systematic creativity process
Thinking interdependentlyYes, they don’t need to DO everything
Applying past knowledge to new situationsGoes with thinking flexibly
Remaining open to continuous learningMaking mistakes is the key to learning and a willingness to take responsible risks imposes a natural learning process.
And Entrepreneurs are much more
PlannersGood entrepreneurs understand sequences of effort and are able to communicate these plans
OrganizersEntrepreneurs know how to find and bring talent to them
StrategistsEntrepreneurs study their environments and make choices that take advantage of weaknesses while protecting their strengths
The Entrepreneurial Mindset

The Startup Checklist – The Business Canvas

There are no guarantees in starting a business, but one thing that is mostly guaranteed. Unless you have a sound business plan, your chances of success are slim, so take the time and build your network of support.

Originally documented by Alexander Vanderwalder, the Business Canvas is now a standard for initiating any new business startup concept.

Now, you can find all sorts of versions of the concept, so just search for it, and find a version that you like, but know that if you AREN’T thinking about all of the aspects of your startup that align to this concept, you are not ready to move out.

If you want one right now, use this simple Google Doc to start your own. It has all the elements to get you thinking.

Get help. Get lots of eyes on your business plan BEFORE you spend a lot of money implementing it.

There are no guarantees in starting a business, but one thing is mostly guaranteed. Unless you have a sound business plan, your chances of success are slim, so take the time and build your network of support.

And listen in, and let’s talk about YOUR business plan!

Chester Masterminds is live on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday at 5pm.

5-Step Business Start(r) Program

Entrepreneur Works has announced a new program called 5 Step Business Start® that simplifies the process of starting a business.

Entrepreneur Works has announced a new program called 5 Step Business Start® that simplifies the process of starting a business.

It is a straightforward, easy to implement, and proven system that anyone, even if you have no previous business experience, can understand, implement and launch a business… successfully.

ACT NOW and REGISTER for the 5 Step Business Start

A Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal

Want to know our vision for this program? Read on.

[Jim’s opening comments from our first show.]

Fundamentally, we’ll discuss the techniques for business startup and help build a network of entrepreneurs, leaders, and supporters in Chester and the surrounding area.

We hope to hear and share stories from successful entrepreneurs and organizers that become the knowledge base for future entrepreneurs.

Our show is for every practiced or budding entrepreneur in the Chester area.

We’ll talk about the challenges of creating business while helping new entrepreneurs and civic organizers work on their own business plans.

Our BIGGEST goal, however, is that we want everyone involved, young and old.  We want to create and nurture a mindset — a mastermind — around introducing youths to entrepreneurship through seeing the community, their family, their friends, and others moving forward becoming entrepreneurs. 

And to cast the widest net, know that you don’t have to own your own business to be an entrepreneur, you can be an entrepreneur within your company or your organization, too.

Finally, education is so important, but it is only a foundation to generating ideas.  The skill to generate ideas is in us all, and we can nurture it for lasting benefit.

And to punctuate the point — screw all those who say you can’t.  We believe in you.