The Fetch Blog

Curated reads and events for professionals

How to Keep Your Small Business Reputable — November 11, 2016

How to Keep Your Small Business Reputable

The margin of error for small business owners has never been as small as it is these days. Thanks to the web, the competition has never been this huge and the bad word travels further than ever before. Because of this, all small business owners need to be sure that at least their reputation is good and that it is something that will actually attract new customers, instead of pushing away the existing ones.

But, how does exactly a modern business owner keep his or her small business reputable.

Honoring Deals

Above everything else, it comes down to honoring the deals that you have made. This does not only work for service providers. If, for example, you run a very local bait shop, you have entered a deal with your customers and your potential customers that you will provide a certain product of a certain quality at a certain price. Honoring deals may be more obvious with services, but even small businesses that sell or manufacture products need to honor their deals. Not honoring your deals means letting down your customers and letting down your customers is the quickest way to a catastrophic reputation hit. A hit your business might never recover from.

Protecting Your Integrity

Over the course of a company’s life, there will come times when certain parties may question the integrity of your company and the way you run it. For instance, some parties may come forward saying that you have not fulfilled certain terms of a contract of some kind. This is where commercial litigation can rear its ugly but necessary head. You cannot have people putting your reputation in danger without responding. Hire a company that provides litigation support services and take back your reputation.

Improving Your Customer Service

Customer service is becoming more and more important as people are getting jaded due to a variety of reasons. Simply put, if your customer service is not stellar, it will be seen as sub-par. It has really come to this. Because of this, you should always emphasize the importance of great customer service within your organization. Your people need to understand that customer service lapses will not be tolerated. Also, in case you are automating any aspect of your customer service, make sure to allow your customers to talk to real people, too. Recent studies show that people still want a human customer service.

Monitoring the Web

These days, companies’ reputations can be destroyed online with just a few bad reviews or outbursts from dissatisfied customers. Restaurant owners have notoriously had to struggle with bad Yelp reviews that can easily drive people away from their door. With all the different social media platforms out there, there is no knowing who might badmouth your company. The important thing is to know how to deal with this by engaging dissatisfied customers, learning why they hated the experience and offering both your apologies and possible solutions.

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Admitting Your Mistakes

If you make a mistake, own up to it. There is nothing worse than companies trying to weasel their way out of something that was clearly their mistake. It makes them seem unprofessional or even incompetent. If you cannot admit you have made a mistake, your customer might think that you do not know what a mistake is. Why would they do business with someone who does not understand their business? It is all very common sense.

All of the world’s biggest companies admit when they make mistakes. Sure, they may sugarcoat their apologies and use vague language, but at the very core of it, they admit their mistakes. You simply have to do this. Companies that admit their mistakes and work towards remedying them keep their reputation.

In the end, it is all about that. Keeping your reputation intact.

About our writer // Dan Radak is a marketing professional with ten years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.

How to Increase Your Rates Without Losing Clients — November 5, 2016

How to Increase Your Rates Without Losing Clients

Whether you’re a solo-preneur, a small business, or a massive corporation, everyone has to raise their rates at some point. As the business grows, as experience is earned, and as things change, the needs of your business change as well. No one has ever said it’s easy talking about raising your rates with clients, but it’s not as bad as it may seem.

Today I’m going to offer you ten tips for raising your rates that won’t scare off your best clients. Follow these guidelines and you’ll find that the conversation is nowhere near as stressful as you thought it would be.

10 Tips For Raising Rates (And Keeping Your Clients)

As someone who has had this conversation more than once, I know how daunting it can be to talk about rates with your clients. That being said, it cannot be avoided if you want success and happiness in your career.

So, today I’m going to show you 10 ways you can make your next discussion about rates less painful for everyone involved (and keep your clients when it’s finished).

1. Be Honest

It may be tempting to sugarcoat your reasons or maybe downplay the changes in your rates, but neither of these are smart approaches to business. Your best clients have a relationship with your that is formed on trust, which is why honesty is key.

Tell them exactly what changes are coming, how the new pricing will be implemented, and ask them to voice any concerns or questions they may have. This will set the stage for a smooth conversation.

2. Explain Your Reasons (And How You’re Offering More Value)

The reasoning behind your increased rates could vary across a number of factors. Ultimately though, you should be prepared to explain these things in a way that shows your client how they are getting more value as part of the increased pricing.

This could take the form of additional features in a product, or more availability for your services, but always keep in mind that you should add value for your clients when you decide to raise your rates.

3. Offer Multiple Pricing Models

Depending on the work you provide for your clients, you should consider giving them several methods of payment. For example, instead of charging per hour, you could switch to an agreed retainer that covers a specific amount of work.

By doing this, you can increase rates, but also offer a different and perhaps more efficient means of tracking and paying for your services. Depending on your industry or craft, one pricing model may be more beneficial for everyone involved.

4. Expand Your Skill Set

Clients are more willing to pay a company a premium than a single freelancer. As you grow, look for ways to expand your personal brand and your online business. For example, you could start a blog and create unique and informative posts while also polishing up your writing skills.

If you have a professional website or blog, then you can argue that you’re expanding your brand and your business. This is a perfectly valid reason to raise rates as you take on new clients.

5. Offer Multiple Tiers of Services

Instead of offering a standard option for your services, you could introduce multiple tiers under your new rates. The older rates could now be charged for a standard level service, while the new rates are for a “premium” level of those same services.

In some cases, clients will stay with the standard rates, but in most cases they will want the best version of your services that you can offer. Using a word like “premium” to describe this level of service will also be enticing for them.

6. Stay Confident and Courteous

When speaking to your clients about something sensitive like raising your rates, remember the tone that you take. This applies to your wording and your voice if you’re speaking over the phone. Remember to maintain these characteristics during the conversation:

  • Explain your reasons in a confident and non-defensive tone.
  • Showcase any investments you made into training or additional availability to justify the increase.
  • Provide real examples of how you’re offering additional value.

Remember to have these conversations at least two weeks before you implement the new rates. A month is more ideal, but the idea is that you shouldn’t spring your new prices on the client. Give them time if needed to decide what they would like to do going forward.

7. Throw in a Freebie

If your client seems like they are looking for the exist when you mention higher rates, give them a reason to stay. Offer them a free sample of something they’ll be getting as part of these new rates. In some cases that could be a small service or a portion of your new product.

Either way, this is a good way to pull them back into the fold and play off of their curiosity and their desire to see what value they could be getting if they stick around.

8. Give Them Fair Notice

The worst thing you can do in this situation is spring the news on your clients. Let them know well in advance that you plan to change your rates. Reach out to them several weeks before the change and explain everything in detail.

This will help ease them into the new model without making them feel like you’re throwing them a curve-ball.

9. Enter a New Market

If you find that your current client base isn’t responding to the new rates, you could consider branching out and trying to enter a market with more affluent clients that will readily accept your new pricing.

You’ll need to network and possibly revamp your services, but it could lead to a more diversified client selection and ultimately better rates for your growing business.

10. Offer Entry-Level Discounts

If you have clients that prefer your services because of competitive rates, you can ease them into this new pricing model as well by giving them a discount for the first few weeks or months in the new pricing model. This way they can see the improvement and the value and decide if they want to continue paying at the new prices when the promotion is over.

More often than not, your clients will see the value being offered to them and happily spend the extra money to continue using your services.

Final Thoughts

Raising your rates is a fact of business, but you also don’t want to lose clients. Follow these tips when you are planning on raising your prices and you’ll find that your best clients are extremely understanding and willing to work with you.

How do you discuss price changes with clients? Let us know in the comments!

About our writer // Ralph Scharf is an experienced freelance writer and blogger with over a decade of experience writing online. You can follow him on Twitter @ralphscharfllc1

Why San Francisco Isn’t The Future of Tech — January 31, 2016

Why San Francisco Isn’t The Future of Tech

San Francisco has been dubbed the ‘7×7’ because it’s a grid area of 7 miles by 7 miles. Because of this, there are often many insanely successful tech companies concentrated in the same spot. Amazingly, Twitter occupies the same building as Square and Uber on Market Street. Airbnb, Zynga, Pinterest, Dropbox, and Yelp are all located in SoMa. With so much happening in a single city, can San Francisco continue to be the epicenter of the tech startup world?

Maybe not, according to Darian Shirazi, founder of San Francisco technology company Radius. He reports in Forbes.com that, “Based on our analysis of over 27 million US businesses, we believe the next generation of small business owners will flock to cities not because of growing job rates and income levels, but because of community engagement and access to resources.”

Catherine Clifford of Entrepreneur.com also concedes to Shirazi’s assessment by listing the US metro regions with the highest ratio of tech startups compared to the national average:

  1. Boulder, CO
  2. Fort Collins-Loveland, CO
  3. San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA
  4. Cambridge-Newton-Framingham, MA
  5. Seattle, WA
  6. Denver, CO
  7. San Francisco, CA
  8. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  9. Colorado Springs, CO
  10. Cheyenne, WY

With thought to this issue, let’s take this theory one step further to compare Australian startup founder Alan Downie’s experience. Downie travelled to Silicon Valley to gain support from US investors and realized that the way Americans and Australians do business is quite different. “Australian founders, and the investors that fund them, seem to be more interested in growing big profitable businesses than they are growing what amounts to ‘get rich quick’ schemes. Perhaps we’re a more laid back culture that is more inclined to take our time to grow success than we are to try and generate it overnight. Perhaps the gap between the rich and poor is smaller here and therefore success isn’t quite as binary as it is in the States. Or perhaps, as a nation, we just don’t idolise the successful but are more inclined to view their wealth with cynicism rather than vicarious optimism.”

But one really can’t diminish the impact and growth of San Francisco’s prominence in the world of entrepreneurialism. In fact, private firms based in San Francisco received $10 billion in venture investment last year, which is a bit more than companies based in Santa Clara, San Mateo and southern Alameda counties combined. In addition, San Francisco companies received 79 percent of all mobile investments, making it a key location for thought leaders and budding entrepreneurs.

However, although San Francisco is on the cutting edge of online businesses, apps, and programs that attempt to ease the burdens of everyday life, is it possible the city could burn itself out? Is the future of tech perhaps not a location, but a shift in motivation? Could we be move away from the pressures and demands of high stakes venture capitalism into a more balanced life with sleep and intrinsic fulfillment?

While the overall adoption of this movement is highly unlikely, evidence does show that the tech industry and its tsunami of startups are evolving enough to separate the wheat from the chaff. The San Franciscos and Silicon Valleys will inevitably keep bursting with workaholics and stress maniacs, but a new entrepreneur is also rising up who will harness the power of the Internet and do business from Anywhere, USA (or Australia or India or wherever you randomly point to on a map), without compromising their quality of life to be the next billion dollar tech startup.

About our writer // Christina Morales is a freelance writer specializing in creating online marketing content. Her dream is to one day rule the world with just an iPad, a case of Cherry Coke, Twizzlers, and a glue gun.

5 happiness hacks everyone should try — November 24, 2015

5 happiness hacks everyone should try

Happiness has become one the sexiest yet most elusive products of our time. You could read the Internet for the entire of your existence and still find another million searches on how to crack the happy matrix. Indeed, happiness is a multi-billion dollar industry.

But what if happiness was a little easier to hack than you’ve been lead to believe? Here are five easy ways you can increase your happiness and lower your stress levels.

Admit you compare yourself to the next person

Most of us are familiar with the term FOMO (the fear of missing out). We feel anxious because we feel like we’re missing out on something wonderful online. And it’s starting to lead us closer to depression and anxiety as a result.

But this is not a new concept, nor is it only a social media issue.

In 1954, social comparison theory suggested we measure our worth against others for the first time. We check the validity of our thoughts, feelings and ideas in relation to other people. And that we can use comparisons to drive us forward to achieve great things, or it can be a source of envy.

Biologically and psychologically, we’re designed to compare ourselves with our peers. And it’s OK to recognize this trait rather than deny it. It could be the first step you take to move beneath the cloud of FOMO.   

Use comparison to your advantage

It’s one thing to know you’ll fall into the comparison trap on occasion. It’s quite another to allow it to fuel you towards great things. Don’t get caught up on denying someone gets under your skin — use it to your advantage! 

Ask yourself 3 simple questions:

  1. What do they do better than me?
  2. What do I do better than them?
  3. What can I learn from their approach?

Turn your comparisons into intelligence gathering. Convert that envied enemy into a valued peer. Or use their impact on you to re-design a strategy that works for you.

Think about what excites you about the other person. Now ask yourself why you’re less excited by your own ideas and change it. Don’t copy them. Find out how you can zig to their zag.

If someone motivates you that much they live in your head, there is always some value you can derive from it.

Focus on accomplishment

We’re so often pre-occupied with what we have ‘to do’ that we forget the amazing things we’ve done.  Yet accomplishment is one of the best sources of happiness. 

So how do you focus on the great things you’ve done between major milestones?

Here are some ideas:

  • Capture what you’ve completed as a ‘done list’
  • Have a chalkboard that displays what you’ve done in a month, quarter or year
  • Save up the things you’ve ticked off your ‘to do’ list in a jar on a scrap of paper and watch it grow
  • Write a thank you note to the people who have given you another great week- and don’t forget yourself in that!

Whatever the mechanism, enjoy the difference that comes with seeing what you’ve achieved. Focus on progress. 

Step outside yourself

Our culture spends a lot of time focusing on what we can get out of life for ourselves. But we’re actually happier when we’re giving to others.

Happiness hacks everyone should try

Volunteering is good for us. It gives us the opportunity to step outside ourselves and think of others. Volunteering and giving doesn’t just give us the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing good. There’s even proof that helping others helps us sleep, make friends and generally feel fitter and stronger.

So if you want to increase your happiness, helping others is a wonderful way to do it.

Go back to the basics

Getting enough sleep, taking enough breaks and exercising all contribute to our happiness.

Working too hard impairs your thinking. We know we have to sleep to reset the clock. Time spent daydreaming and idling helps us with the creative processes. 

Stress also has a productivity cost. Thankfully, exercise is a great stress antidote. Several studies have shown exercising aids in the management of stress and mental health conditions.

There’s no point in squeezing extra hours in the day for work if the work isn’t the best quality.

So if you’re feeling under pressure, sleep, rest and movement can help. Don’t pack each minute with project work. 

The bottom line on happiness

You won’t find happiness at the bottom of a bag of diamonds or at the drinks at an expensive conference. But you can find it in the little things. Being kind to your body, mind and what you achieve is a big part of being happy. 

Give yourself a break and be happy to be you.

About our contributor // Rebekah Lambert is freelance content marketer, Unashamedly Creative. She founded Hacking Happiness to remind busy individuals stress has a productivity cost.

Coffee talk: Jordan Bishop, flight hacker and founder of Yore Oyster — October 12, 2015

Coffee talk: Jordan Bishop, flight hacker and founder of Yore Oyster

He turned a love of flight hacking into a successful business; he crowdfunded a wildly popular mystery product; and he recently launched a beautiful content site designed to share inspiring travelers and their stories. Today, we talk to Jordan Bishop about his personal journey and how he turns ideas and dreams into reality.

How did you get to where you are today?

I think it’s important to first define “where I am today”, which I think is a curious person who refuses to accept the rules and self-imposed limitations that govern most of society. With that in mind, to get to this point, I try to do everything backward first, and then only revert to the norm when its opposite has been proven wrong. I think it’s an effective, or at the very least, an interesting, way of living.

What was the hardest thing about leaving Toronto in pursuit of life as a digital nomad?

I think my undying love for Toronto is what made it so easy to leave. I grew up in a small town a few hours outside of Toronto, so seeing how quickly I fell in love with the city when I first moved there at the age of 19 gave me the confidence that I would have similar experiences in other places, too. A few months later I moved to Manhattan on my own, and since then I’ve lived in a couple of different cities each year all around the world.

Toronto, Jordan Bishop

It sounds crazy, but sometimes I miss the cold, and more specifically, the fresh feeling of cold air running through your nostrils on a wintry morning. And I miss a few people, but not as much as I thought I would. I’m pretty good at living in the moment, and I try to keep my relationships of the moment as well.

How does your routine vary while traveling? Do you have tips for staying healthy, productive and focused while moving around so much?

I try to keep my morning routine as stable as I can, since that sets the tone for the rest of my day. I start every day by making my bed, followed by 21 minutes of meditation, and then a high-protein breakfast. If I’m in a good writer’s groove, I’ll also write for as long as I can before eating breakfast. Eating makes me think differently and often distracts me from my first few clear thoughts of the day.

I don’t normally go to a gym since I’m often in a place for less than a month at a time, so instead I do bodyweight exercises to maintain good blood flow and athleticism. Push ups and sprint training are my two favorites — the two of them combined make for a good full-body workout that requires no equipment and challenges both endurance and explosive power.

You turned your love of flight hacking into a business by founding Yore Oyster, a company created to help travelers get the best flight deals. What’s been the most rewarding part of working on it so far?

Helping others to explore the world.

Rio de Janeiro by Jordan Bishop

It’s extremely rewarding to hear from clients, many of whom become friends, how life-changing their trips were. I get nostalgic every day when I send people to places I’ve been and loved.

You also just launched How I Travel, a brilliant site that focuses on sharing travelers’ stories. What do you hope people will get from it?

As humans, we’re hardwired to learn most effectively when information comes to us through a story, so the obvious solution to accelerate our own growth is to document and transmit as much information as possible through highly compelling stories. How I Travel is my answer for current and prospective travelers.

Jordan Bishop, Yore Oyster and How I Travel

Columbia, by Jordan Bishop

How I Travel is also designed to inspire people to get out and take the trips they’ve always wanted to take. Travel is a gift that benefits you for a lifetime, and I want everyone to discover it in the ways that I have.

A man of many ideas, you’ve even tried your hand at crowdfunding. With your unique campaign, you got more than 1,000 people to buy something before they knew what it was! What was the secret to drumming up buzz?

I read, write, and think a lot about human psychology, and at that time I was curious to see if any of my friends trusted me enough to buy something I had created before I told them what it was. I never intended for anyone but my closest friends to get involved — but when others did and strangers started trusting me, I realized something much larger was happening.

We are witnessing an early indicator of how trust is quickly becoming a new global currency.

Strangers trusted me not because I had “won” their trust, but because they knew that with the way information travels today, I couldn’t afford to breach their trust. The Internet is no longer the place where you can betray someone’s trust behind a veil and get away with it, but actually the opposite; somewhere reputation is easy to discover and matters more than anything else.

What’s the best advice you’ve been given as you continue to push yourself out of your comfort zone and experiment with ideas? How have you applied it to your life and work?

I was at a really low point when a guy I know told me, “Blow kisses to the haters.” The more you achieve and the higher you rise, the more people are going to try and break you down out of jealousy, a lack of understanding, or a generally negative attitude toward life. It’s not easy, but I try my best to ruthlessly eliminate any negative people from my life.

You’ve obviously done your research when it comes to travel; which sites and social accounts do you look to for inspiration, reliable information, and trip-planning tools? Where can we find you online?

My flight hacking company Yore Oyster, which has saved hundreds of travelers tens of thousands of dollars in the past year. I also love the Mike & Jay Explore YouTube channel; they always manage to perfectly balance beautiful cinematography with unique travel insights. I have a list of my go-to travel resources on my site. And I’m a huge Airbnb fan. I’m going to do an Airbnb tour of Asia soon — there will be lots of pictures from that on my Instagram account.

Jordan Bishop, traveler

Which global events, meetups, and groups do you love and recommend?

I’m a part of hashtagnomads.com, which is hands-down the best way to meet other digital nomads (people living abroad and working online). It’s how I’ve made my closest friends over the past 12 months.

I’ve been trying to push myself way outside of my comfort zone, and that’s how I’ve met skateboarding buddies in São Paulo, philosophical adversaries in Chiang Mai, and lifelong friends in Cartagena.

I’m a big proponent of meeting friends of friends (discovered through Facebook) around the world, as well as meeting others spontaneously — wherever you are. 

Last, how do you like your coffee?

I don’t drink coffee! But I’ve never turned down a cold chocolate milk. 🙂

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