Yearly Archives:2015

What Is Your Business Saying?

MGM smaller fileA Personal Note from Mary Grace Musuneggi

 

Because we work with small businesses, we often hear that it is difficult to run a small business in this economic environment. We sometimes hear from owners who say they are struggling because they can’t find enough customers. But what if it really isn’t the economy…what if their business’ image and the message it sends out to potential clients and customers are to blame?

When I think about the messages businesses send to customers, I’m reminded of the spring afternoon my business partner and I decided to visit some new shops near our offices.

The first shop’s name indicated it was a store for decorative household items. But on entering the store, we discovered it was a women’s accessories store…a bit confusing. As we looked around no one greeted us, and the woman we thought to be the owner stayed behind the counter talking to her friend about plans they were making for the weekend.

Feeling ignored, we finally left. By not acknowledging us, the owner gave the message that customers were really not important there.

The next store we visited was a flower shop, and the doorway was blocked by a small gate. We peeked over the gate and did not see any sales person or owner. But we did see two small dogs running around – obviously the reason for the gate. Although I had to assume the owner was trying to keep the dogs in and not customers out, the message she was sending was just the opposite.

I called out “Hello” and she finally came out from the back of the building. She told us to move the gate or step over it and come in. As I did, one of the dogs jumped onto my leg with his nails digging into me and my pantyhose. The owner’s response was a small laugh and a comment about how the dogs thought they owned the store. From all indications, they did.

To say the least, we left, with no plans to return.

When I returned to my office, I needed to call a company and place an order for a piece of equipment. A recording answered my call and said no one was available but to press 0 if I was in need of immediate assistance. I pressed 0, only to hear a recording tell me “0 is not an option.” I hung up and called a different company.

So in less than 24 hours I managed to attempt to do business with three companies who clearly were not interested in doing business with me—or anyone else for that matter.

So what were these businesses saying? Their messages were loud and clear:

“We don’t want to make it easy for you to do business with us.”

“We don’t want you to think you are important to us.”

If you own a small business or are planning to take a “leap of faith” and start a small business, you want to rise above the competition. To do this you need to do things to attract your buyers.

On a recent trip to a neighborhood dress shop, I was greeted very cordially by the owner who told me her name, asked what my size was, showed me a few things in my size and asked if these might suit my style; then she left me alone to explore the rest of the dresses she had for sale. On a recent business trip I was trying to find the restaurant in my hotel. When I asked someone at the front desk for directions, instead of pointing the way, she actually walked me to the entrance of the restaurant. These little extras give customers the feeling of being special and wanted. As customers, we love that and should never settle for less. If we all had those expectations it would raise the quality of service we received everywhere.

And as business owners great service should be standard procedure, business as usual; great service is one key way to prevent bad economic news or competitors from standing in the way of our success.

So what is your business saying?

To learn more success strategies for your small business, you can contact me at 412-341-2888 or mgm@singlestepsstrategies.com.

MGM signature
Founder and Executive Director

March 2015

 

Upcoming Single Steps Strategies Events:

Planning for Healthcare in Retirement
Thursday, March 12 | 6:00 – 7:30 PM

BOLD Webinar: 6 Steps Every Small Business Owner Should Know
Tuesday, March 24 | 8:30 – 9:00 AM

For more information about events, click here.

 

Surviving Valentine’s Day

MGM smaller fileA Personal Note from Mary Grace Musuneggi

 

It seems we have barely finished taking down the Christmas decorations, when in every store Valentines appear. And, although Valentine’s Day should be something to look forward to in the doldrums of the winter, for many women Valentine’s Day can bring the cold reality of defining themselves in terms of their romantic relationships…or lack thereof.

Remember how in elementary school, you would spend days decorating that shoe box, writing out your cards and choosing the best card for that “someone special,” only to watch that “someone special” walk past your desk to give his “someone special” card to that too adorable, too sweet, “teacher’s pet” little girl who wouldn’t have much as given him the time of day. She would take the card and put it in her box with the other 15 “someone special’ cards she got that day. By the end of the school day, the amount and size and shape of the cards we received defined us as popular…or not; in the right clique…or not; pretty…or not…and so on.

And somehow 20, 30, 40 years later, nothing has changed. Unless our current relationship is with our prince charming, soul mate, life partner–or we are the adult version of the “teacher’s pet”–Valentine’s Day defines us as single, divorced, widowed; unhappily attached; sadly attached; in the wrong relationship with the wrong person; or living with the guy who just will never think to buy us flowers and candy, but he will get our car washed. No matter what, we will define ourselves in terms of our relationship on that day. This holiday can attack self-esteem, produce anxiety, create confusion over lifestyles, and cause a sense of inadequacy for women who are normally intelligent, successful, self-confident and self-assured.

The whole reason for this is that we all have the need to be loved. And thanks to Cinderella and “Pretty Woman” Julia Roberts, we believe that romantic love is the ultimate form of love. And Valentine’s Day is all about romantic love.

So how do you survive this if you are not currently in a romantically loving relationship?

You can begin by focusing on who you love and who loves you. Even if this is your kid sister or your mom, you can be reassured that you are a lovable person. Hang out with your mom. Take your little sister shopping. Spend some time being grateful for who you are and what is special about you. These thoughts will reassure you and remind you of your self-worth while restoring your self-esteem. Plan to spend February revisiting the goals you had set for yourself going into the new year. Concentrate on the things that are important to you.

Do something special for yourself. Go to a spa, get a professional pedicure, or get a massage. Send Valentine’s cards to everyone you know. You will feel good for doing it and they will feel great for receiving it. And for some people, this may be the only card they get. Write on each card, “For Someone Special.” Prepare your favorite dinner, have a glass of wine and watch your favorite movie. Use this time to become the kind of person you would love or the person you would love to be. Use the day to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Create a special memory. Valentine’s Day will come and go. Memories can last forever.

Up! Up! And Away!

MGM smaller fileA Personal Note from Mary Grace Musuneggi

 

On a recent pre-Christmas vacation to the Arizona Biltmore, I had the opportunity to enjoy a ride in a private plane to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, to go hot-air ballooning over the desert, and to cheer on my daughter-in-law while she hiked up Camelback Mountain. Then as I returned to the hotel, I was greeted with its Christmas decorations that were surrounded by blooming flowers. Each one of these experiences gave me a totally different perspective on the area. I was still in Arizona, but I saw snow-capped mountains, gleaming canyon rocks, desert sand and cactus, and colorful spring-like foliage. Some up close, some from far away, some while floating in the sky…and each view was a picture of awesomeness.

On my flight back home, I couldn’t help but think that the next day, I would return to my normal routine. Not a lot of difference each day. Awake. Go to Work. Go Home. Sleep. Awake. Go to Work. Go Home. Sleep. A little more like walking on a treadmill than soaring above the clouds. Even though I love my work and I love my home, the perspective each day is much the same. I also hear this theme echoing from many of my friends, family members, clients, and associates.

Now this is not to say that routine is not a good thing. For some of us it is the system for a well-organized and rewarding way of life. But what if each day we just added a few moments where we would see life from a different perspective? What if we went to work a different route; started the day with an inspirational reading; went to the gym before work instead of after? Or even more adventurous…set time to go zip- lining, segwaying, snowboarding?

I read a story recently about a couple who decided to take a “honeymoon” every month for a year. Some were costly, but some were not. If you have never really explored Pittsburgh, there are so many things to do that cost nothing. View the city from the top of Mt. Washington. Walk along the river. Ride your bike on a one of the city trails. Take your dog to a dog park. Sit by the Point State Park fountain. Walk around PNC Park on the North Side.

Change your perspective! Seize the day! Make 2015 all that you want it to be!

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MGM signature
Founder and Executive Director

January 2015

 

Upcoming Single Steps Strategies Events:

Tuesday, January 27 and Thursday, January 29:

Empowering Today’s Woman: A Guide to Enhancing Social Security Benefits

The Musuneggi Financial Group

 

For more information log onto http://www.singlestepsstrategies.com/calendar/