March 5, 2013
On one hand I was thinking…
Tribe Research is really busy with new projects that are the full spectrum of our services. classikON hasn’t got a fully trained team and as it is still new I don’t yet completely follow a system myself. Sydney Business Month feels like it it just around the corner.
On another, I was thinking…
It is a week, I have many systems developed. Breath – it will all be okay.
A few things I did in preparation for a technology free week.
- looked back – thinking about the known things that happen in the business and checking there are systems for them and people who know how to do them.
- the progressive look – while I was working in the two month lead up I was always thinking ‘is there a procedure for that and someone who can do it in my absence?’
- the future look – thinking about what is coming up that I know about and are the systems in place for smooth sailing while I’m away?
- what to schedule and do before I go away so they can seamlessly continue?
What I realised.
- The new business which doesn’t have a business partner and hasn’t got procedures and systems developed, as I’ve been still working out what way I like to do it myself, was the easiest to sort out.
- I could schedule quite a lot.
- I developed some procedures and trained someone in time for other aspects.
- Most other aspects could wait a week.
- The oldest business, while it had the most going on, also has a knowledgeable and trained team who had most aspects covered.
- The new business with a business partner, I had a meeting with just before I left and we hashed out a plan for developers to be working on while I was away so there was less planning and more doing and the business partner could easily steer the development.
The technology free week away
While I like my connected life, a week with no mobile or internet was bliss. We talked, walked, swam (with fish), ate and slept our way through the week and I didn’t miss it at all (until we were stuck there – then I started trying to recall what I actually had planned the few days after I was due to land and who I had to contact).
I received feedback that the scheduled content was interesting and a habit I should continue, rather than the ad-hoc ‘I need to post something’. I should also definitely schedule for longer – there was a gap the week before I went away and the week after I got back.
Completely stepping away really tests which team members ‘get you’ and know when to be proactive and how to be proactive that fits with your way of doing business. And more importantly, those who don’t.
I’ve tried to maintain some barriers around the technology interruptions. Social media aren’t always on, monitoring your Skype status and having the mobile on silent. It isn’t that I didn’t know they were distractions before, but it is easy to wind yourself into a loop of ‘being always connected’ until you completely step away and take a deep, week long, breath.
It is a sharp reminder of the lack of necessity to be constantly switched on.
Have you taken a technology free holiday? How did you cope?
December 17, 2012
This December seems crazier than usual for many. Maybe it is time to acknowledge that this isn’t the time to try to fit more in. Give your brain a holiday so you can be fresh and re-energised for an excellent 2013.
Are you thanking your clients?
End of year messages can get lost in the end of year craziness. It isn’t a good use of your time and might annoy rather than engender a positive relationship with your clients. Wait until the new year, when you and your clients are fresh. It is a positive way to connect with people at the start of the year and you can write the messages when you have the time to do it well. Your clients are also more likely to notice and appreciate the contact.
Use this time of year to thank your supportive team. If you don’t have staff, perhaps it is that reliable group of friends on the other end of the phone when you’ve had a stressful day.
Is now really the best time for reviewing the year?
It is a natural instinct to ponder and reflect on how the year went when you’re coming to the end of it. Evaluate the wins and mistakes.
It is essential to take time out to review your business, but delay it to when you’re not worn out. Taking notes in December is good because it allows you to switch your brain off rather than churning it over, but doing a full review when you’re exhausted won’t give you the opportunity to see the wins and mistakes with perspective. Use your quieter January to review and plan.
I’ve previously had the Tribe Research planning day in December and while it seemed at the time like a great way to finish the year with my team and then go out for dinner together, I then spent the holidays working out how we could implement all the ideas, rather then giving my brain a break. Simply moving the planning day to January allowed me to switch of during the break much more effectively and had much more energy when I returned to work.
Where do you get your best ideas?
Remember the phrase ‘you don’t get your best ideas sitting at your desk‘. I think this also applies to not taking breaks from work. You need to give your mind space. Your brain can do an amazing amount of processing if you give it the space to and not force it to keep going.
Happy holidays! Kate
November 15, 2012
As you may know, I’m an advocate for finding out 3 words that people use to describe you or your organisation. It allows you to assess whether they’re consistent with your marketing and whether you want to do something to change the perception. It also allows you to understand how integrated you are with your organisation. Sometimes some separation is needed and useful.
I recently heard Geraldine Cox speak about her life, work and being “mum” to 400 children in Cambodia at Sunrise Children’s Villages. Currently Geraldine needs to raise $80,000 each month to care for over 200 children in her two existing centres. She will be opening a 3rd centre for a further 200 children with HIV.
There were great insights and lessons, one story in particular I wanted to share.
Geraldine Cox’s 3 words:
Geraldine was told that after watching an interview on TV about her, someone described her distastefully as loud, pushy and aggressive.
“What do you mean – they are my attributes” was Geraldine’s response.
In the constant and relentless world of Not for Profit and fundraising, Geraldine believes that she would not have been successful in caring for so many children over the years without standing out from the crowd.
Let’s look at those words a little more closely.
- loud so she is heard in such a competitive environment.
- pushy so people support her goals and objectives through direct financial investment and organising individual fundraising events.
- aggressive in pursuit of the needs of the children of Cambodia, restoring their hearts, and protecting them.
In this instance, these words don’t distract, detract or create negativity. These words enhance Geraldine’s amazing story and align with her personality and brand, making her real, memorable, engaging and a success. They are a strength and very much part of Geraldine’s story, and the stories of survival of all the children who are fortunate to live at Sunrise.
August 9, 2012
In early May 2012, Monkey Creek Cafe opened at 227 Chifley Rd, Bell NSW on the drive down the mountains on the western side. I went there for lunch.
To enable Monkey Creek Cafe to work out their pricing structure, in the first period after opening, they asked their customers to say how much they’d pay. The menu was an A4 page showing the various meals with $_________ underneath. I’m sure that if we tried to pay nothing, they had a minimum price, but their approach had a several benefits.
We discussed what price we thought our meal was worth.
- The people I was there with had gone there for dinner previously, and they said how they valued the same meals at a higher price when eating it at night than during the day. I’m sure this isn’t uncommon.
- The cafe is self sustaining which had branding benefits, but there were disadvantages. The meal was on a special paper plate that breaks up easily in the cafe’s worm farm. Sounds great for the environment, but somehow your meal didn’t feel it has as high a value when we were eating it off a paper plate. The chef came and spoke to us about our meal and we raised the issue. She told us the story about how sustainability was part of the cafe and explained the various aspects to the sustainability. It was excellent to hear. I hope they now have the environmental features promoted at the cafe as it added to their appeal.
- We discussed how the wonderful view of the Blue Mountains added to our sense of value of the meal and were willing to pay for it.
- As a business owner myself, it was great to see what they were doing.
Great customer feedback cycle
From a market research perspective, where I value a customer feedback cycle, it was excellent. We learned more about the cafe from being able to talk to the chef and felt engaged with the experience. They received both qualitative feedback from their conversations with us and quantitative in terms of price of their menu at different times of day. This allowed them to understand the sense of value their customers saw in the experience. Also they didn’t have to collect the information using complicated statistical techniques.
In your business
How do you measure what your customers think your products or services are worth?
July 28, 2012
Cloud computing allows any business, no matter the size, to increase physical and mental freedom.
Cloud computing isn’t dependent on an office space, as Kate Tribe explains, it is when you’re switched on, you can work.
In this eBook, Kate explains how the Cloud provides you with the freedom to find a work/life balance so that your business can innovate and stay competitive.
“Cloud computing allows you to work in places or environments assisting the right headspace for the task – your desk, a café, a check-in when you’re far from home.”
Kate looks at the different ways that the Cloud can help your business find its flow, manage time and energy expenditure while still meeting deadlines.
In particular, Kate focuses on misconceptions around using cloud computing and team engagement. She explains how utilising a CRM, wiki for procedures, cafes and videos for team meetings and screen software for training allows your business to operate anywhere, anytime.
Download the Free Cloud Tips eBook
Is your small business taking advantage of the powerful project management, team collaboration efficiencies and technology savings the cloud has to offer? Download this free eBook, sponsored by Optus Business, to learn why working in the cloud is ideal for small businesses, including recommended apps your business should be using.
June 4, 2012
I’ve had heaps of fun using (playing) with the new Nokia Lumia 800.
First up, Apple is not for me. I can see it has great features and benefits, however my brain doesn’t work the same way, so I find it difficult to operate the iPhone. There have been times when I’ve wished it wasn’t that way. I like technology and have many interlocking programs that I’d like to be able to use across both computer and phone better — now I can with the new Nokia.
I was also once a big Nokia fan and had previously had the Nokia N8.
It was great to be able to use a brand I already liked with an operating system I know.
Like anyone with their own business, time is a precious commodity. I own and operate Tribe Research and at the start of this year, I have also been starting classikON, so mental space has also been a priority. The Nokia Lumia 800 was really fast to set up and it didn’t take long to get my head around how it worked.
The most wonderful feature is the way it has ‘people’, rather than ‘contacts’.
The Nokia Lumia 800 merges together your Windows Live, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google contacts, so they appear to be one person you can contact in many ways. Unfortunately, I didn’t have many of my phone numbers set up correctly, so I thought land lines were mobiles, but that wasn’t the fault of the phone. It would also be great if you could merge Skype in, or if it could run in the background, which it currently can’t do.
As a business owner, some people are only connected on some networks, however some are friends and professional contacts so I’m connected to them in many ways. With the People Hub, I can go to a person’s profile and:
- Call or text
- Send an email
- Write on their Facebook wall
- Mention them in a tweet
- View a map of any address they’ve put in a social media profile or one I have already
- View any website they put on a social media profile
- See their work as they’ve listed it on Facebook or LinkedIn
- See their birthday and family they’ve listed on Facebook
- Their latest social media post
- Pulls a photo from one of their social media profiles
When it is all merged together, it becomes very clear how much information you put out there, and can feel a little stalkerish, but it is also very convenient. The iPhone tribe I showed it to were also impressed!
Similarly, your own profile shows your notifications from your social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn) in one place which is very useful. It doesn’t show personal messages on these networks (which would be a great addition), so you need to have the individual social media apps if you want to keep up with them while away from a computer. You also get notifications for pages you’re an admin for, so it is very useful when you have a few things on the go. Although, you only have one Twitter account.
The Nokia calendar shows appointments from your existing systems, such as Outlook and Google, and it will show you the full Facebook events.
I found this very useful, particularly for events where you might put in your calendar only topline information, but there is detail in the Facebook event that you can read while travelling to it.
While the camera is not quite as good as the Nokia N8, it is a good camera. Afterwards you can easily share the photo in a range of ways. It would be great if you could share to your page easily, rather than your personal Facebook account, particularly for classikON (it might be possible, I just haven’t worked it out). I could then take photos at classical music concerts and post straight to the Facebook page for classikON, while at the concert.
With so much entertainment going on in Sydney at the moment, I’ve also taken quite a few videos, especially at Vivid Sydney. It will also be useful for interviews when classikON is more developed as the image and sound quality is really good.
I really like the Nokia Lumia 800.
It is fast to get operational and there is still heaps more I can explore. I like that possibility.
April 6, 2012
This week, I went to the AWS (Amazon Web Services) Lean Cloud event.
At these events, I often find the examples are about startups with funding behind them and a team of programmers. You try to think about how the examples could apply to you and it doesn’t match your reality. Eric Ries had great examples and comments that instantly connected.
You’re running a scientific experiment
A startup is an experiment in a scientific sense. You have a hypothesis that needs to be tested.
This really resonated with the scientist within me and it applies to any new business (even one that has been around for a few years).
- A supposition or proposed explanation made on the basis of limited evidence as a starting point for further investigation
- A proposition made as a basis for reasoning, without any assumption of its truth
Think of your business as a proposed explanation or trial solution, which (if you’re honest) is based on limited evidence and needs to be tested, just like a scientist tests their hypotheses when conducting an experiment.
Experimenters may test and reject several hypotheses before solving the problem. As a scientist, you’ll think, well I proved that hypothesis wrong, so I’ll move onto the next one. You might apply a few different tests to make sure, but after a few tests have come up wrong, you know you have to develop a new hypothesis.
Just as a scientist throws away many hypotheses when testing solutions for a problem, most startups fail. However, scientists seem to be better at moving on than most business owners or entrepreneurs who keep trying to prove that their hypothesis is true.
Make many small experiments
Do micro scale experiments to see if you’re getting closer to the product market fit.
Instead of completely building everything then going live to see nothing happen, do little steps and test reactions. Set up accountability measures early so you have numbers to test.
Listen early to customers and their suggestions. Move on to your next micro scale experiment and test the outcome.
Putting your scientific hat on:
What is the hypothesis your business is testing?
Fill in the blanks: If _____[I do this independent action] _____, then _____[this dependent outcome]_____ will happen.
Is it testable in terms of being able to measure what you do and what will happen?
What small experiments are you doing to test whether your hypothesis is accurate or not?
February 15, 2012
Last week, Amy Lyden wrote about Disneyland still being the benchmark for exceptional service. One of her tips for offering better service is to survey customers about what it is that bugs them, and raises the excellent point that people often forget when starting a feedback survey:
It doesn’t have to mean changing complete systems though. It could be a small annoyance that is easily handled like fixing a navigation problem on your website. The important thing is to get outside of your own business and hear other viewpoints.
Here are three observations:
How is the phone answered?
In helping a client to understand at what stage prospects were in their buying cycle, we found the main block was the receptionist. She wasn’t professional. In addition, they’d developed a process to protect themselves from calls they didn’t want to receive that was so rigid many legitimate calls couldn’t get through.
How is the phone answered at your business? Have you called it recently not using your caller ID to see how other people get welcomed to the business?
Have you developed systems to provide you with time and space to run the business that stops prospects and customers from reaching you effectively?
Do you actively provide opportunity to buy?
I know this one seems a little unusual. Many businesses ‘sell’ too much, but some, in an effort to not appear like aggressive sellers they don’t like, end up under-selling.
More than once when collecting feedback, we’ve been told by engaged customers that they’re looking for ways to buy, be reminded how you can help and solve a problem they’re having, and be told about new products and services you offer.
Is it simple for all types of feedback to be given?
Many websites and businesses have channels and processes for complaints to be taken and processed, but not all feedback is a complaint. Sometimes feedback is a compliment or an idea. Not providing these other types of feedback gives a message about your brand that you may not want people to have. They also want to know that you’ve received the feedback and have acted on the content.
A simple way to gather feedback
If we could do one thing differently to improve your experience, what is it?
Kate Tribe will be speaking on the upcoming Australian Businesswomen’s Network webinar: Designing Effective Customer Feedback Surveys. **This webinar is open to ABN Growth Members Only**
November 30, 2011
I just got back from the Huntington Estate Music Festival. A great five-day program, organised by Musica Viva, is performed by musicians from all over the world in the wonderful barrel room at Huntington Estate in Mudgee NSW.
Over the last two decades, they have been building an audience that continues to come back each year (and invites friends and family to come along as well)… they’re a loyal tribe!
Each year, I notice how they do many little things to help foster the loyalty.
Here are five key things they do:
It all starts with a great product
No matter how lovely you are, you need to have a great product that people will buy, again and again. Mostly trusting the quality of the key component – the program. This year the festival sold out before we knew the program or musicians. Carl Vine regularly puts together a great program that is mixed with a range of music and instruments. The food is good quality, but not overdone. The wine is excellent and free flowing. As an audience, you rarely feel limited in experience and you have the trust that it will be the same or better the next year.
Start the festival with feedback
If the previous festival had feedback forms, they communicate back to the audience at the start of the next festival how they listened and changed. At the end of the 2010 festival, they said how they needed to grow the audience. This year had more than 100 new patrons, mostly generated by the 2010 audience introducing friends to the festival. As an audience, we were thanked.
The host, Nicky, includes in her introduction how she knows everyone’s name (from organising the tickets and seating) and many of the faces (from seeing them over the years), but doesn’t have all of them connected. She invited people to come and chat to her so she can join the names and faces. It means that many people at the festival feel they know her, connected, and integral to the festival rather than an attendee.
The musicians wander around the festival and sit with the crowd to eat, so you can easily chat to them. This creates a greater connection to the music than you usually have when you attend a concert and it is quite magical.
The Musica Viva staff all had name tags so you knew who they were and could easily talk to them. The Huntington Estate & catering staff all wore branded t-shirts so you knew who to ask for help.
Listen & adapt during the festival
Each year and each day during the festival, they are adjusting so that it is constantly improving.
Feeding 500+ people when they flood out of a concert is no easy task, especially when the clouds above have also opened and it is an outdoor eating environment. The process was regularly adjusted through the festival to be more efficient. New tents sprung up, seating was changed, extra staff appeared to assist in the more difficult situation. The continual adjustments made during the festival showed their focus on the experience for the audience.
Apologise for issues & show how they were fixed
Whenever something went wrong (which is always going to happen at an event that size), they fixed it, apologised and explained how it was fixed. They were upfront and honest about what was going on.
What little things can you do to foster loyalty and build your tribe?
November 2, 2011
How are you connecting with your tribe for the end of the year? It is time to start implementing some ideas. Here’s four of my tips.
Find a way to support a core segment of your business
At the end of last year, I wanted to help other small business owners. I took on a Christmas mission to buy all of my family’s presents from Australian SMEs.
- It allowed me to think creatively about what to buy because I wasn’t just walking into a department store to find the best option. I needed to think about the business owners I knew and if their product or service would be great for one of my family.
- It helped me to understand the buying process of my friend’s businesses and give them feedback about it.
- I advertised the purchases along the way so that they were promoted at the same time.
- I had a story to tell my family when I gave them their gift.
I wrote about my Christmas mission at the time.
Individual presents for clients
Don’t select one item and give to every client. It might be quicker to select one item, like wine, and give it to all clients that you’ve decided to give a present to, but it isn’t as special. Another way to give a special thank you is to make it. You can do it in a way that shows them another side of you and is generous.
Connect clients together that could help each other
Instead of going on individual lunches with various favourite clients, take two or three out together so they can meet and network. It will educate your clients about other work you do and allow them to find out some of the other amazing people you know. A slightly larger group makes it more fun and saves you time.
Find a way to reconnect in the new year
Instead of sending end of year cards, utilise the quieter period in January to write new year cards. It will allow you to enjoy the end of the year and you’ll be top of mind at the start of the year.