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How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking
There’s something about standing up in front of a group of strangers and delivering a speech that, for many people, seems like a nightmare they’ve had since childhood. The fear of public speaking keeps some small-business owners from reaping its benefits, such as using the opportunity to build credibility Read More . .

How to Get Over Your Fear of Public Speaking


There’s something about standing up in front of a group of strangers and delivering a speech that, for many people, seems like a nightmare they’ve had since childhood. The fear of public speaking keeps some small-business owners from reaping its benefits, such as using the opportunity to build credibility, gather referrals, and generate sales.
A popular method for overcoming the fear of public speaking is to join a local Toastmasters group. If that’s not practical for you, here are five ways to overcome your anxiety and make a great impression the next time you step up to the podium.
1. Prepare thoroughly. The more you prepare, the less nervous you’ll feel. Know your material and be excited about it. Put something about yourself in the speech, such as an anecdote or a favorite quotation. If what you’re talking about means something to you, the audience will pick up on your enthusiasm and respond in kind.
Familiarize yourself with the venue where you’re presenting. Before your presentation, walk around the room. Stand at the lectern and speak into the microphone. Sit in the audience. Take a “practice walk” to the podium. Getting a sense of your surroundings can help to reduce your anxiety.
2. Practice, practice, practice. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? The same principle applies to the Rotary Club or Chamber of Commerce. Rehearse your speech out loud in the privacy of your home or office. Keep revising it until the flow feels right, then give the presentation to a select group of friends or family members. Use their feedback to refine the script and then practice some more. This gets you comfortable with the material and moves you toward that place where you’re no longer reading a speech, but — with the help of a few cue cards — comfortably talking to the audience.
3. Do stress-reducing exercises. The stress of dreading your presentation can tie you up in knots well in advance of the event. When you’re in a state of anxiety, your breathing accelerates, your chest and throat muscles tighten, and you deprive yourself of oxygen. Deep breathing is the solution: Sit in a chair with your back straight and breathe in slowly. Hold your breath for five seconds, then slowly exhale.
Visualization is another great stress-busting technique. Unfortunately, many novice presenters visualize in ways that psychologists call “negative anticipation.” It takes some work, but purge those images of failure from your mind. Like an elite athlete, visualize a presentation that leaves the audience enthralled and hungry for more. The more you believe you’ll be successful, the more likely that’s the outcome you’ll get.
4. Make yourself look as good as possible. “Dress for success” is never more relevant than when you speak in public. If you’re unsure about your appearance, talk with an image consultant for some valuable, objective tips.
Check your posture, too. Like your mother always said: Stand up straight with your feet slightly apart and toes pointed outward. Place your hands on the podium (or keep them by your side) unless you feel comfortable enough to include gestures that accompany your speech.
5. Get support from the audience. Keep in mind that everyone who’s come to hear you speak wants you to succeed. Seek out friendly faces and focus on them. (Some speakers introduce themselves to people seated in the first row beforehand, so they feel at ease making eye contact with them.) Whenever possible, ask questions and encourage interaction to keep everyone’s interest level high.
With some preparation and practice, you can transform your public speaking anxiety into an enthusiastic, well-received presentation.

4 Areas Where Your Business May Be Leaking Cash
As a small-business owner, you probably have a good idea of what your company’s month-to-month expenses are. But have you taken the time to evaluate exactly where your cash is going? Doing so could make a big difference to your bottom line. Here’s how to handle this type of tough customer: Read More . .

4 Areas Where Your Business May Be Leaking Cash


As a small-business owner, you probably have a good idea of what your company’s month-to-month expenses are. But have you taken the time to evaluate exactly where your cash is going? Doing so could make a big difference to your bottom line.
For starters, scrutinizing your expenses on a periodic basis will help you keep tabs on your budget and reduce your company’s risk of failure. It can also reveal areas where cuts can be made, thus saving you money.
Here are four areas in which your business may be leaking cash — and how to reduce those expenses.
1. Events — Attending trade shows and industry conferences can afford you many opportunities to learn and to network. These events, however, are often costly when you add up registration fees, airfare, and lodging and meal expenses, notes Erica Wiley, co-founder and president of ProfitGeeks, a marketing agency.
Before you sign up for any event, consider its benefits: Will you learn about a topic that’s vital to your company’s growth? How many of the other attendees may represent potential customers or partners in the market you’re targeting? Being intentional about the events you attend will save costs and increase the number of leads you can obtain and convert, Wiley says.
2. Insurance — Your business most likely needs some basic insurance and possibly additional policies to cover risks. If you haven’t evaluated what you’re paying for your business insurance policies in the past year or two, now’s the time to do so. Although reducing the amount of coverage you carry may not be an option, you may be able to save money on the overall price of your policies by shopping around.
Contact insurance agents in your area and ask whether a better price is available. Check online for quotes that fit your insurance needs. Before signing up for a cheaper option, check the insurance company’s financial information (provided by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners) to make sure you select a reputable agency.
3. Office space and equipment — If you rent an office that’s bigger than what you need, consider relocating to a smaller, less expensive location. You could even share an office with another business.
Meanwhile, even if going completely paperless is impossible, you may be able to decrease the amount of paper and ink your company regularly uses. Consider storing more files digitally or making office communication strictly electronic.
4. Marketing — Consider moving more of your marketing efforts online. For instance, do you send out a monthly bulletin to clients through the mail? Try replacing the print edition with an email newsletter.
If you currently pay for press releases or other advertising services, think about taking on those activities yourself or having an employee oversee them. Or seek out a colleague you can barter with: Setting up a trade may be as simple as offering one of your services in exchange for marketing assistance.

13 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Customer
The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Some people approach conflict resolution with the goal of being as squeaky as humanly possible.
Here’s how to handle this type of tough customer: Read More . .

13 Ways to Deal with a Difficult Customer


The squeaky wheel gets the grease, right? Some people approach conflict resolution with the goal of being as squeaky as humanly possible.
Here’s how to handle this type of tough customer:
1. Don’t fight back. A loud, rude, or unruly customer may expect the same from you. Don’t take the bait: You’re likely to lose his business. Remember that other customers and your employees may be watching, too. Handle the upset customer with poise. Be de-escalatory.
2. Ask for the solution. Instead of offering a fix of your design, ask the customer what would make them happy. This lets her know that you are serious about righting the wrong.
3. Restate the problem. In your own words, tell the customer what you believe has upset him. People who are angry often ramble or add unrelated issues to the complaint. Before any fix is possible, you and the customer must agree on the nature of the problem.
4. Empathize, don’t sympathize. Empathy means that you understand the feelings of another person. Sympathy, on the other hand, offers only comfort — and is usually insufficient when someone feels she has been wronged. Restating the problem is one form of expressing empathy. Others include “I understand,” “I want to help,” and “I’m sorry.”
5. Ask for direction. Some repeat customers are hard to please. If they always seem to have a problem with your product or service, use the next job to discuss that. Let them know that you want to get it right the first time and that you would like more direction from them.
6. Don’t hide behind the rules. When customers are upset, the last thing they want to hear is that their solutions are against “company policy.” You can uphold the spirit of most rules and still offer some flexibility. If a given customer is worth saving — and most are — do not be afraid to make a small exception to defuse a situation.
7. Call back when you say you will. You took verbal abuse the first time. The last thing you want to do is call back and take it again. But you need to deliver on your promises. Remember that even if a follow-up conversation is less than pleasant, customers will respect you more when you keep your word.
8. Educate customers. If some customers always complain about high prices, educate them. Make an infographic about the costs associated with your products. Take the “we think our prices are fair and here’s why” approach. You may not win them over, but chances are they will better understand your position.
9. Seek the truth in all things. You can’t control the way an angry customer raises an issue. However, a perceptive small-business owner quickly looks beyond that anger and listens to what the customer is saying. Buried in the complaint may be an issue that really does need your attention. In other words, just because a customer is rude does not necessarily mean that she is wrong.
10. Follow up and follow through. A few days after you believe you have resolved a customer’s concern, call him to make sure you solved the problem to his satisfaction. More important than his answer is the fact that you cared enough to call.
11. Wipe the slate clean. The next time you interact with a customer whose prior complaint has been resolved, do so as if nothing happened. Labeling someone as a “problem” will make you defensive when dealing with her. It will also make her uneasy in your presence. Once a problem is solved, move on. If you can’t do that, say goodbye.
12. Know when to say goodbye. Sometimes a customer is so offended, rightly or wrongly, that you can’t please him. Know when your investment of time and energy is probably not going to yield positive results. Thank the customer for his business and wish him well.
13. Don’t lose perspective. One negative, rude, and upset customer is enough to ruin your day. But try to remain focused on the rest of your business. For every problem customer, there are many more positive and uplifting patrons to assist every day.

Five risks associated with not using accounting software
April 18, 2013
How do you deal with your accounting? Are you all paper and folders, a spreadsheet fan or do you prefer to keep it all computerised and backed up? You may even do a mixture (it’s tricky to go completely paper-free, especially if you deal with receipts).Read More . .

Five risks associated with not using accounting software

April 18, 2013


How do you deal with your accounting? Are you all paper and folders, a spreadsheet fan or do you prefer to keep it all computerised and backed up? You may even do a mixture (it’s tricky to go completely paper-free, especially if you deal with receipts).
The trouble with being completely paper-based or even using spreadsheets is that you are taking risks which could cause problems for your business.

1. Time and hassle

Manual accounting means regular tasks may take longer than they need to, and you may have to duplicate your efforts later. Accounting software like QuickBooks can automate tasks, so you can set up invoices in seconds, and generate reports at the click of a mouse, instead of fiddling with spreadsheets and word processing documents.
Accounting software allows you to slot accounting into your working day, rather than letting the admin build up.

2. Errors

Human error is more likely than computer errors, so doing everything manually can open you up to the risk of making costly mistakes. You might slightly miscalculate an amount, or pop something in the wrong column and everything could be thrown out.
Accounting software not only makes it easier to avoid these issues, but can also alert you when something looks unusual.

3. Reporting

One of the biggest advantages of using accounting software is that you can create reports at the click of a button – reports that would require a lot of work and fact-finding using manual systems. Reports are essential for reviewing and forecasting, and spotting anything that might cause problems if left unchecked.
As well as helping avert disasters and spot opportunities, this report function will save you a lot of time, which is time you can use more effectively elsewhere.

4. Back-up

Paper-based accounting means you have just one copy – which leaves you in a difficult position if anything is spilt on it, or if it gets lost or stolen. Using spreadsheets could see you in trouble if your computer breaks or the file gets corrupted.
Accounting software is safer, particularly cloud-based options like QuickBooks Online. With cloud-based accounting software, all your data is automatically backed up and stored safely on servers, so you can always log in and continue working from another computer if your computer gets lost or stolen.

5. Access

You can’t access paper-based accounting systems or spreadsheets remotely that easily. Cloud-based accounting software can be accessed from anywhere – check how you’re doing and even run off invoices through your mobile or tablet.

InformatIon rIsk management: Aligning Your records, Privacy, Cybersecurity, And e-discovery Management Programs
PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP
Information is an organization’s most valuable asset. However, the law of diminishing returns applies: the more data an organization retains Read More . .