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All Change For 2011 By Chris Day
 
Speaking from experience, one of the most frightening phrases for a man to hear when he gets home is for his partner to say “Well? Haven’t you noticed?”, this challenge could refer to a new hair cut, the painting of the outside of the house whilst you went to the shops, the fact that the dog is now pink, or indeed any one of a thousand things that might have changed and that have escaped your attention. I suppose it is a Man Thing that we are single minded and focused, but that is no help in these circumstances.
 
On the basis that I don’t have a clue what she is talking about, and a quick glance round reveals nothing, I know that whatever I say from this point on will doom me for the rest of the day. It is just the way it is.
 
But it is not just at home that we don’t see change. In the world of work and business, change is slowly happening all around us, all the time. It’s just that we don’t necessarily notice it. It is like staring at the minute hand of a clock which moves so slowly it is difficult to notice any movement. But get busy with something else, and when you look back at the clock, it is always a surprise to see how much time has moved on.
 
2010 has seen some changes which have been so dramatic and impactful that even a man could not fail to notice them. Coming home to find the dog is pink would have been the least of our worries!
 
Many people are breathing a sigh of relief that this challenging year is over, and a new one is opening up before them. A New Year and a New Start. But is it as simple as that? What is to say that this year will be any different than the last? The year itself has nothing to do with what happens next. That is completely down to us and how well we adapt to the reality of continuous change.
 
A wise person once said that the first sign of madness is to do the same thing again, and expect different results. And yet, if we have found a business formula that has worked in the past, why wouldn’t we go on repeating it, even if it may not currently be producing the same results? As Scottie once said in Star Trek, “Ye cannae beat the Laws of Physics!” and he is right. But a formula only works if all the components remain the same. If some have changed, the results will be different. And the one thing that has changed is the marketplace.
 
All of a sudden people’s buying habits have changed. Instead of going to their usual supermarket, people are shopping around more. On the internet, it is the same. No matter what product or service you require, a Google search will instantly provide you with a list of thousands of businesses who can supply it. Many businesses might view this competition for business as an insurmountable obstacle and feel helpless to compete; whilst others will view it as a wonderful opportunity. And both will be right, because the way you think is what will shape your reality.
 
So it is not true that “if you keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep on getting what you are getting” because if your customers have changed what they are doing, it is not going to happen in the same way. So, as we enter this New Year with trepidation, here are some strategies to help.
 
Firstly, communicate better. When customers can be fickle, and shop around, maintain regular contact with them and demonstrate you care. Whether you use an ezine, or a newsletter, or even telephone them from time to time, stay in touch. In challenging times it is all about relationships. Put it another way, if you don’t regularly stay in touch with your customers, what message does that give them?
 
Secondly, every month look closely at everything you do or offer and ask yourself “What is working and what is not working?” Focus on doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Simplistic I know, but this simple formula has turned round some of the largest household names in the market!
 
Thirdly, split test everything you do. Test the result of one advert or campaign against another and see which works the best. Track the source of all your customers so you know which is the most productive. Then do more of it!
 
Fourth, if you haven’t changed your website in living memory, it has become a “Cob Web” site. Things are changing on the web faster than anywhere else. If you are to be able to quickly fine tune your message, your site needs to have a content management system to enable you to edit and update it regularly.
 
Fifth, if you offer a range of services or products, you might be better to create a group of satellite mini websites on each on them, if you want customers to find them easily on the search engines. Your mini sites, would then link to your main site to make the transaction.
 
Sixth, do you want to make a sale or create a customer? There is a difference. A sale is a one-off transaction and a customer for life could be worth thousands to you. One of the main purposes of your website is to build a list of people who are interested in what you offer. It is then up to you to develop a relationship with them through regular contact. People buy from those they know, like and trust. They don’t necessarily buy from you just because you have what they need. Right now, building long relationships with your customers is what will give you the edge over the majority of businesses that don’t.
 
Finally, you are the most valuable asset in your business. Invest in your personal development and develop a positive outlook on life. The year ahead is in your hands. Make it a great one!
 
 
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