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DCEDC workshop: getting more out of your business

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX — Do you work “in” your business or “on” your business?

Do you find yourself working harder instead of working smarter?

Are you “doing things right,” or “doing the right things?”

Could you take a three-week vacation and know your business would be fine while you are gone?

These are some of the questions that were addressed at the workshop “Getting More out of Your Business and Your Life” sponsored by the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation September 26 in Colfax at A Little Slice of Italy.

Jon Fields, “The Growth Coach,” conducted the workshop which included a series of questions and exercises to help business owners identify their strengths and weaknesses and to find ways for improving their businesses and their personal lives.

One example about the importance of personal life was the story of an elderly man who found his son’s diaries in the attic from the time when the son was a little boy. The man remembered that he had kept a simple business ledger-type diary too. He decided to compare some of the dates. On one particular date he had written that he had “wasted” a whole day fishing with his son, and they had not caught anything. The little boy had written that he had spent the whole day fishing with his dad and that it was the best day of his life.

Business owners should “Stop and think. Where am I at? Where do I want to be?” Fields said, noting that working smarter instead of harder will leave more time for a personal life, and that instead of thinking you had “wasted” a whole day on your family, you could enjoy the day.

Another aspect of the workshop focused on sales and marketing.

“People buy based on emotion, and they justify it with facts … they buy from people they know, like and trust,” Fields said.

Selling generates revenue for a business, but marketing, which is a broad-based educational program for consumers to educate them about what a business offers, “opens the door” for sales, he said.

“The smaller the business, the more you have to focus on marketing and sales,” Fields said.

Most people have probably experienced a clerk at the checkout asking, “Did you find everything?”

The question leads to a “yes” or “no” answer and generally represents the end of the discussion, Fields noted.

For example, if a customer is purchasing paint, instead of asking “did you find everything,” a clerk might ask about the project the customer is working on and what else he or she needs to work on the project, he said.

Depending on what the customer needs, the clerk might be able to direct the customer to another area of the store or to point out that those items are in stock, Fields said.

If the clerks have, say, a half dozen customers ask for a particular item in a week that is not in stock, the store may want to consider stocking the item, he said.

The example shows the advantage of working smarter and also communicating with employees to track purchases or to find new items to keep in stock for which there is a customer demand, Fields said.

Three other workshops will be offered through the Dunn County Economic Development Corporation in October in Menomonie: “Making Sense of Your Numbers” (October 4; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.); “Learn How to Reduce or Eliminate Your Utility Bill by Embracing Solar (October 25; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.); 101 Marketing Ideas (Jon Fields; The Growth Coach), (October 31; 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.)