The Art of Connection – The Essential Key For Business and Personal Success

As a Life Coach and Trainer, I keenly observe how what I teach thousands of others, also provides opportunities for growth in my own life as well. 
Yesterday was a memorable for many reasons – one of them being that I met my neighbor for the first time. She pulled up to our farm wearing a big smile and carrying a massive flowering plant as an introduction.  In my usual style, I gave her and her daughter a warm hug, secretly wishing that I had acted on my original impulse the week before to welcome them to the neighborhood. But my reasons for not doing so had all made so much sense.  I had just arrived home from a four-week trip, the tractor had broken down, I had meetings planned with the architect and contractor for the new home we’re building, Michelle needed to purchase a new car after my brother had rolled hers down a mountain, my boys were wanting to go on a new adventure, and I still had two courses to write and what seemed like hundreds of calls to make. The list did not end there, however I think you get my point on how preoccupied I was!
How Many Opportunities to Connect are Being Missed?
Even though the thought of going next door and starting that unknown journey kept wandering through my mind, I simply did not do so. As I sat down to write this article I began to think of how my story with my new neighbor Kim is probably indicative of how so many of us have an endless opportunity to connect with the people that pass through our lives, but don’t. How often do we experience a fleeting thought to connect and share a bit of our time, but quickly dismiss it and relegate it to the bottom of a list of chores, right behind cleaning out the kitty litter? These chores keep us safely behind our desks shuffling papers or making calls that are so familiar in nature that they go on and on, eating through our precious time and keeping us happily distracted from connecting with someone new, which could potentially enrich and forever change both our lives in ways we can’t yet foresee?
Often through a seemingly insignificant action of initiating a conversation, of going first, of reaching out to a stranger, a new adventure is born.  An adventure whose destination is still unknown and whose memories are etched into the fabric of the unfolding story of my life. As I think now of many of my closest friends who have somehow woven themselves into the tapestry of my life, my mind floods with the memories that we have created together, the vibrancy and color that they have added to the chapters of my living story. I think back to the exact moment that we first met, the very second that one of us reached out to the other and decided to go first, giving permission for the other to follow.  I chuckle now at the prospect of how many possible friends or business acquaintances I have missed along the way because of some impending minor crisis or paper shuffling distraction, as I hid behind my desk. 
Learning the Art of Connection
As my new neighbor Kim and I chatted casually in my kitchen, I picked up a deep sense of relief that we had both scored a home run in the “great neighbor” category, as if it were pre-destined that we would indeed become good friends. Many people are looking for a deeper connection to others, to their own life, and are in physical and financial pain, desperately searching for an answer.  Some are simply looking for a new and exciting adventure that will bring a greater sense of contribution and purpose to their lives, and some will become close friends and you’ll both be forever grateful you took the time to put your chores and papers aside to simply connect. From their, the magic naturally unfolds.
Your pathway to success in all areas of your life begins with your ability to connect with others and have them connect with you.  In this age of cell phones and text messaging, our ability to deeply connect with others has been eroded to the extent that many social and business settings can make people feel uncomfortable, clumsy and even isolated. Are you finding that this loss of connection in your life is costing you financially, emotionally and physically?  What about the most important connection of all, your connection to Self, which is crucial to laying the foundation for a rich, vibrant and successful life and business? 
Every day is a journey of person-to-person communication and heartfelt connections, bursting with potential and opportunity for deeper personal and business success that impacts the tapestry of your life.  

Will Customer Service Ever Return to Business Owners

So last night, my wife wanted to go out and purchase a fire pit fueled by propane. We had seen these all over last year and this year, not so much. Along with that, her family is coming into town this weekend, so a chance for her to show it off. After going to a couple of different stores, we finally find something in what we are looking for. What got me was the help that we had received in making our purchase(s).

Now to put out there, we were at a regional home improvement store. Large enough in size and stature that they should put a little training into customer service. Maybe that is the problem, they only put a little training into customer service. Then on top of that, maybe they don’t go back and refresh that training? Still leads me to the question, what has happened to customer service?

Now, I am not going to take the cop-out answer here that it is the younger generation and they just don’t care. While they don’t have the same priorities that we do, they still have motivations and drivers that move them. Besides that, I still believe that customer service comes from the Management team and what they do. Case in points from last night.

Now, the kid that came walking past me last night with the vest that said Courtesy Patrol across the back was only responding to how he has been trained. Sure, he shuffled his feet in front of my wife and I and didn’t say a word. Then came back around, still shuffling his feet, and walked back in front of us. Then opens up the cage for propane tanks. Now his first words to us were, do you have your receipt? Then has a displeased / dismayed look when my wife had to dig it out of her purse.

With our conversation over, propane tank in hand and headed to our vehicle. We remark about the young man and lack of “courtesy”. This issue was actually set up minutes earlier in the night. Personally, I don’t find pleasure shopping at this store because much of the customer service is that way. Once we received help in the gardening area, he headed to the check out with our purchase. There, only 2 lines were open, with about 10 shoppers at each line.

Now the store manager, decided to open a third line and run it himself. So, here you have a manager tied up in checking people out. One of his employees comes up with a report and request. To which the manager tells her to put it on his desk and he will get to it. To which she replies that it has been there for a week with no movement. Lines are still backed up for the 2 open registers and he decides that he has helped enough. So now, he is logging himself out to go on break. The cashier at our register has to ask three times for him to have someone come out and pull a propane tank for us. I wasn’t quite sure we would get anyone there…

Why would the manager of that store, expect that his people would treat his customers any better than what they got treated by him? So here are 5 items that I think improve customer service:

1. Treat your employees like you want them to treat your customers. They are your intangible assets. They can make or break the customer experience. Treat your employees like they are important to your business and they will treat your customer like they are important to your business.

2. Catch employees doing the right thing. When you see employees treating your customers correctly or doing something right in the store. Be specific with your praise on what they did. They will repeat that.

3. Doing the wrong thing? OK, I know not every employee is going to do the right thing 100% of the time. When they are doing the wrong thing, don’t chastise them in front of the customer. Try and correct the issue while taking care of the customer and allowing the employee to save face. None of us like to be shown that we are idiots, so don’t do it. Allowing them to make mistakes and learn from them will make a stronger person and allow them the ability to act. If you support them, they will take initiative instead of waiting to be told to do something.

4. Know your people, how can you relate, talk or carry on a conversation with someone if you don’t know anything about them? Show interest in them, they will in turn show interest in your customer.

5. Don’t think that customer service is a once and done skill. It takes evolution, reinforcement and persistence to turn an “OK” team into an exceptional customer service team. Will take longer if you weren’t at the OK part. Even the strongest performing teams need reminders and refresher. So make it an ongoing habit, you will be rewarded.

Customer service is not a dead trait for those of us in business. Some of us perform at it better than others because we realize that we are always working at it.

Business Plan Software – How Do you Know Where to Even Start Creating Your Business Plan

Every business in its conception has the same chance at success. The determining factor however depends highly on the business owner and their ability to plan strategically from day one how they’re going to transform their business from an idea, into a highly successful business within its industry.

Many people have the idea that starting a business is a simple matter of having a product, putting up a sign, and away they go…as if the business is going to run by magic just from their grand idea. That’s wishful thinking and it’s really too bad that it’s not like that, but the truth is that if you want a business that’s successful and not another failure like the majority of them, then you’re going to have to do some detailed planning before you even dare to venture out.

Most businesses that fail do so because of the lack of a good, detailed business plan. Your business plan is essentially your blueprint to get your from point A to point B, as well as to take care of all the turns and obstacles in between. In essence it’s like the difference in the individual who has well defined written plans for life as opposed to those who languidly float along through life. Which individual do you think is going to have the most success? Well, studies have actually shown that the person with the written plans has a much, much higher chance of success. Same goes for a business!

Now the part that actually gets most people is not that they’re all lazy and just don’t want to take the effort to design a plan, but the fact that they simply don’t even know where to begin with the creation of their business plan. They have no idea what needs to be included and what doesn’t, or even how to format it so that it’s not just a mess of papers in a binder that they’ll never look at again.

In fact, the best business plan should be one with all of the essential elements as well as one that’s fluid and not static, because if there’s one thing that’s for sure in life it’s change, and that change usually comes from twists and turns and obstacles in the road of life itself, and your plan has to have a way to take in account for those changes.

There are a number of things that you can do to actually learn how to create an effective business plan that’s going to get results. You could go to the library and do tons of research, or you could even spend the same countless frustrating hours at home online, and be shuffled from website to website trying to figure out which information is right. However one of the smartest things that a person can do is to take the quick and easy way out and invest in business plan software that is known to get results.

Of these, probably the best, most used, and most trusted business plan software available is Business Plan Pro from a company out of Palo Alto California called – appropriately enough – Palo Alto Software.

Business Plan Pro is a software designed to help you in as easily and smooth a process as possible to create an effective and efficient business plan that gets results, either with making your business a tremendous success (who doesn’t want that?) as well as setting you up with the best possibility of getting funding for your business if needed. No lender, capital venture firm, or even Angel Investor is going to even consider giving your business funds if you don’t have a well thought-out business plan. It’s that simple.

The software basically gives you exactly everything that you need in a simple step-by-step format to create your business plan, whereas it takes you by the hand, asks you simple questions about your business, and as you answer them it guides you to the next step in the process. It doesn’t get much easier than this.

You’ll have access to over 500 different business plan templates so that you can duplicate the most effective ones for your industry.

As well, and this is a huge part of planning a business since your customers are the life force of your business, you’ll be able to access market data for your business as well as cross check for nine thousand other industries. This is powerful stuff alone.

You’ll be able to print out your completed business plan so that you can refer to it over and over, as well as have it on your desktop to quickly make changes when necessary as previously mentioned.

Having business plan software is easily one of the most important steps that a business owner could possibly take for the probability of success of his or her business, and with Business Plan Pro you’re getting the best of the best. In fact, frequently lists it on their top ten bestsellers list…and it’s the same software that 50% of top Fortune 500 companies use for their businesses. If it’s ideal for these businesses, why wouldn’t it be for yours?