But can you really be likeable and successful in business?

It’s nice to be liked. But can you really be likeable AND successful in business?“I’m not in business to make friends,” growled Alfie Sweet from the other end of Smokey Joe’s Business Bar.

“I’m not out to win a popularity contest. I’m not here to be liked. I’m here to be successful. And if you’re planning on being successful in business, you need to toughen up and get ruthless.
“I can’t afford to waste valuable time on being nice, and there’s no room for nice people in good business. Get over it.”

I’d only asked him if he wanted another drink.

It’s probably a good job that he’s not here to make friends, as the grumpy old business owner certainly hasn’t got very many of those in the bar.

But I’m worried about how many people may actually agree with Alfie Sweet.

Is it really true that you can’t make a big success of your business whilst remaining a perfectly agreeable sort of person?
Do you definitely need to evolve into an obnoxious monster before you can boldly lead your team to triumph?

I think there may certainly be at least some degree of truth in Alfie’s point about toughening up.
On the road to success, it’s likely that you will have to make some tough decisions based on business logic and reason rather than keeping everyone around you happy.

But does this mean that you have to become utterly ruthless, unpleasant, rude, and generally bad-tempered along the way?

It seems to me that not nearly enough is said about the advantages of being a genuinely good-natured character in business, and how you can be both likeable and successful at the same time.

It’s surely time to put that right…


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Your customers are ready to talk…but is YOUR business ready to listen?

A new report reveals just how much a typical consumer is itching to speak to you and your business on the telephone.
But how many businesses are choosing to hang up on this golden opportunity?
Here’s how to make the right call for your business and your customers…

PICK UP THE TELEPHONE! Your customers are ready to talk…but is YOUR business ready to listen?Ring ring!
Down in the local coffee shop, my brief lunchtime chat with fellow business owner Donald was interrupted by the sound of a ringing mobile phone.

It was Donald’s mobile phone. I noticed with silent approval that he’d opted for the more traditional ringing effect over a silly novelty ringtone.
Bit of a shame that our own conversation had been temporarily interrupted.
Or had it?

Ring ring!
Donald just continued with our own conversation as if he was completely oblivious to the sound emanating from his device. He never even raised an eyebrow.

“Yes Martin, it’s worrying,” he was saying.
“The business just seems to be slowing down at the moment. Not many email enquiries at all today. I may as well just take the rest of the day off and go fishing.”

Ring ring!
Well, I had to say something.
“Are you not going to answer that, Donald? It might be important.”

“What? Ah no, it’s fine, don’t worry about it. If it’s important, they can always call back. Fabulous coffee, isn’t it?”

If Donald’s business was backed up by an office full of employees poised to handle customer calls, I could perfectly understand his relaxed attitude to answering the telephone.

But Donald is the owner of a very small business, and his own mobile phone number is the only one advertised on his business cards and promotional leaflets.

“To be honest” he continued, “I wish more people would just send me an email, it’s so much easier…”


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But could we business owners be the worst offenders of all?

How to deal with late invoice payments from your customers. But could business owners be the biggest offenders of all?Hands up who enjoys hassling customers about late payments?

Hmm. It’s all gone very quiet.
It’s perhaps fair to assume that dealing with overdue payments is not exactly one of the biggest pleasures of running your own business.

But here’s a controversial suggestion;
Are small business owners amongst the biggest culprits of all when it comes to failing to pay suppliers on time?

In just a moment, I’ll reveal the facts and figures from a recent report which indicates that small business owners are just as likely to be the perpetrators as they are the victims.

I’ll also be taking a look at some quick tips and pointers on how you can increase your chances of actually getting paid on time for your hard work!

But first, I just want to tell you about Wonky Simon, my old entrepreneurial friend who supplies products and services to other businesses.
Last time I bumped into him whilst queuing down in the Sweet Pastry Shop, he was ranting and raving about how overdue payments were crippling his cashflow.

“How hard can it be for people to just pay for something on time like they agreed?” he wailed.
“I’m sick of wasting my time on chasing up money that should already be rightfully mine. And now I’ve been forced to put some of my future plans on hold because I’m still waiting for my own customers to pay up! It’s a ridiculous situation!”

I can see his point. Very clearly, in fact.
Wonky Simon’s payments for his latest custom projects from Martin Print have just gone overdue.
His order included Transparent PVC Business Cards, Brochures, and, ironically enough, Invoice Books!

I was going to bring this up with him, but I could tell he was already having a bad day.
I knew he would get the polite email reminder tomorrow anyway.

But whilst small business owners can be hugely impacted by the hassle of late payments, a recent report from Vistr reveals that we’re also amongst the biggest offenders…


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How your business could face a big fine for breaking the tough Australian Anti-Spam Laws.

Nobody likes Spam Marketing. But could your own business be in danger of breaking the rules and facing a fine?Nobody likes a Spammer, do they?

It’s an accusation that gets tossed around far too freely these days, though.
You may even have been branded a Spammer yourself by an aggrieved reader who was less than happy to receive your well-intentioned marketing content.

In the past, I’ve been accused of ‘spamming’ just because I’ve written a post on Facebook seen only by people who willingly chose to follow my updates!
It sometimes feels as if you’re always going to upset somebody out there every time you stick your head over the parapet.

However, if your business sends out regular Emails and Newsletters or you make use of SMS Marketing, you could be in bigger danger than most of crossing the illegal line into Spam.

Still, it’s nothing to worry about, is it?
Nobody really gets into serious trouble just for getting a little bit too spammy, right?

Breaking the tough Australian Anti-Spam Laws can now land your business in financial hot water, and some pretty hefty six-figure fines have already been dealt out right across the board, from the tiniest of small businesses to the biggest of corporate giants.

In many cases, a business owner has faced a harsh financial penalty simply for making a careless mistake or failing to spot a tiny technical error in their marketing.

Starchy Steve is an entrepreneurial acquaintance of mine who’s had more than his fair share of accidental spammy headaches, although this may have quite a lot to do with his deeply unusual line of business…

With Starchy Steve’s help and wisdom and painful experience, let’s take a look at The Big Three Rules of Anti-Spam Marketing which should be considered very carefully if you’re keen to avoid crossing the line and making a potentially costly mistake… CONTINUE READING

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The tough new guidelines and penalties for business owners who cross the line on Review Sites.

Fake reviews of your business on independent review websites could land you in trouble with the ACCC. Here are the tough new guidelines to follow if you want to stay out of trouble.Glowing testimonials from happy customers on independent Review Sites can certainly help to drum up confidence in your business.
But positive AND negative bogus reviews are threatening to shatter the consumer trust in these sites.
The ACCC have introduced strict new guidelines to combat this unscrupulous activity, and even a business owner with good honest intentions will need to know the score.
Here’s everything you should know to avoid falling foul of the law…


Review Sites were such a good idea.
When a customer needs convincing that your business is going to deliver the goods, he or she is hardly likely to ask you for an unbiased opinion!
A genuine customer recommendation on a completely independent website is likely to carry far more persuasive power.

Unfortunately, the credibility of Review Sites has taken a battering in recent times, thanks to a flood of dishonest postings from business owners who think they can score some crafty extra points by writing a ‘fake positive review’ or even a ‘fake negative review’.

It must seem temptingly easy to pretend to be a genuine happy customer, and post a quick online review which praises your own business to the skies.
A particularly fiendish business owner might even prefer to take on the role of a genuine unhappy customer, and write a scathing review of a competitor’s business which tears the whole outfit to pieces.

People have been getting away with this shady behaviour for far too long, and consumer confidence in these review sites has dipped to an all-time low as a direct result.
Hardly surprising.
How on Earth is anyone ever supposed to know if a supposedly genuine review is the real deal or a fraudulent fake?

Thankfully, the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) has come to the rescue with a set of tough new guidelines which deliver strict penalties to those business owners who are not playing the game fairly.

And it’s worth taking a good look at these guidelines in detail, as even a business owner with the very best of intentions could potentially slip up and suffer the consequences if they haven’t brushed up on the rules… CONTINUE READING

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How to avoid demolishing your chances of picking up Business Referrals.


Could you be demolishing your own chances of picking up valuable business referrals? Here’s how to stay on track and encourage happy customers to spread the good word.There’s no force in the marketing universe that can beat the power of a Word-of-Mouth Referral.

When you’re growing a brilliant business, it’s hard to think of anything that could rival the impact of genuine recommendations from trusted friends.

But could you be in danger of sabotaging your own chances of picking up valuable Referrals from happy customers?

Here’s how to keep those recommendations flooding into your business…

“Oy, Martin! I’ve got a bone to pick with you!”
Another ‘quiet’ drink down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar already looked as if it was doomed to failure.
Wonky Alan had just barged through the door, and he didn’t look happy.

He had no hesitation in telling me exactly what was on his mind.
“How come you’ve never referred anyone to my businesses? We’ve known each other for years, and I don’t recall ever getting a referral from you. Not once. Don’t you like referring good services to your friends? What’s the deal here?”

I took a gulp of my Frothy Apple Fizz Fusion and quickly gathered my thoughts.
The truth is that I love recommending good businesses to friends. I’m well-known for it. I must have made literally hundreds of genuine referrals in the last few years alone, all based on the simple premise of sharing good service with good friends.

But in this particular case, I had a problem.
Or more to the point, I feel that Wonky Alan had a problem as he was the one destroying any hopes he might have of ever getting a referral from the likes of me.

Here’s where I thought Wonky Alan was going wrong, as I reveal how and why some business owners are ruining their own chances of picking up those crucial Word-of-Mouth Referrals… CONTINUE READING

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How to Avoid Breaking the 3 Simple Rules of Honest Advertising.

Could your customers end up feeling cheated or conned by misleading advertising from your business, even if the mistake is purely accidental? Here’s how to avoid breaking the rules of good honest advertising.Here at the Martin Print Blog, I often discuss new and creative ways of demanding attention from your Business Advertising.
But it’s all too easy to get carried away with compelling copy, and drift a little too far from the clear and simple truth.
Here are the 3 Rules of Honest Advertising to help you avoid accidentally misleading your audience and landing your business in legal hot water…

I invited Old Bert to have a drink with me last night, down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’m not usually so generous to Martin Print’s very own grumpy caretaker, but I was willing to push the boat out after spotting one of Smokey Joe’s new promotional posters in the window earlier this week;


It sounded too good to be true.
It was.

When I cheerily tried to claim our two free drinks at the bar, Smokey Joe swiftly drew my attention to the small print on the promotional poster, directly underneath the big bold headline.
He passed me a magnifying glass, just to make sure I could read it without too much eye strain.

It turns out that Smokey Joe was actually offering a Free Exotic Cocktail to everyone who walks through the door…and buys a Smokey Joe Mega Grill Meal for only $99.99.

There were plenty of disgruntled noises coming from my fellow customers, one of whom was even threatening to report Smokey Joe to the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) for false advertising.

If Smokey Joe had followed his usual route of getting Martin Print to professionally produce his promotional material, my team would have been very quick to point out the huge mistake he was making.
Alas, he got a mate to run off very low quality prints on the cheap, and he was now left to deal with a very unhappy crowd of customers.

Here’s how to avoid upsetting your own audience by following the 3 Simple Rules of Clear and Honest Advertising


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Why You Should Never Follow These
Mythical ‘Unwritten Rules’ of Business

False! Wrong! Bogus! Untrue! Let’s take a look at a list of some of the worst unwritten rules in Small Business and why you should never follow them…Are you following any of the so-called Unwritten Rules of Business?
If so, could you be making a very dangerous mistake and putting your business health at serious risk?

I was having a catch-up with my good friend Wonky Alan last week down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
I’d spent what seemed like two hours listening politely to his latest news, updates, and plans for the future.
In fact, I’d managed to get through four Fizzy Frothy Fruity Fusion drinks before it got round to my turn.

Eventually, I got the chance to share some of my own new stories and anecdotes from the continuing design-driven adventures of Martin Print.
However, I was only really starting to get to the good bits when I was abruptly cut short after less than ten minutes.

“Stop!” yelled Wonky Alan, dramatically. “Have you been feeling unwell or something? It sounds as if you’ve been breaking every unwritten rule of business in the book! Maybe it’s time you took a holiday?”

Well, I wouldn’t say no to a holiday. But I strongly disagreed with Wonky Alan’s reasoning.
I’ve always had a bit of a problem with ‘unwritten rules’ of anything.
If a rule is so good, why on Earth has nobody ever bothered to write it down?
Could it be because the rule in question is actually a bit rubbish?
Is there even perhaps a small chance that the unwritten rule could turn out to be completely wrong?

At this point, Wonky Alan pulled out a curiously named book from his pocket called The Definitive List of Unwritten Business Rules.
Hmm. Surely a contradictory title? Unless all the pages were blank.

But no, the pages weren’t blank. In my honest opinion, the pages were crammed full of very bad business advice which should definitely have remained unwritten and unspoken.
Wonky Alan seemed to have been absorbing all this nonsense recently, so I decided to postpone sharing my own stories and news until our next catch-up.

I felt our time would now be better spent on exposing the lack of logic in many of these mythical guidelines, and ripping up The Top Four Completely and Utterly False Rules of Business


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Why a Deceiving Headline Could Permanently
Wreck Your Business Credibility

Insert your amazing attention-grabbing headline here! But could a misleading headline lose long-term customers and damage your business in the long run?We’ve all seen them.
Completely over-the-top and frankly ridiculous headlines which were clearly designed to entice you into investigating further;




I’m pretty sure that most sensible people would be instinctively repelled by such crude attempts to capture your attention. We can almost smell the odour of rotting spam emanating from every word and exclamation mark.

It’s taken just a couple of seconds for us to pass judgement on the companies that throw this type of headline in our faces;
They’re crass, they’re sensationalist, they’re not to be trusted, and we wouldn’t ever dream of conducting business with such a dubious outfit.

But can even a perfectly responsible and intelligent business owner fall into the trap of delivering a misleading headline to an innocent audience?

Just how do we know for sure when we’ve crossed the line with a damaging headline?

I recently had an unfortunate experience of my own with a slice of marketing content from a fellow business owner.
I was initially very interested and in great need of the services on offer. But I was immediately puzzled by the baffling dramatic headline which suggested that I could take full advantage of these professional services for just a tiny, tiny fraction of the amount that I was reasonably expecting to pay.

Could this be true? How would that work? The business must surely lose a fortune on every deal it makes! That couldn’t be right.
Could it?


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Is it Ever Acceptable to Get Rid of Your Own Business Clients?

Giving your customers the boot…but is there a better way of waving goodbye to troublesome business clients?‘Letting go’ of under-performing staff members is a very unpleasant but often very necessary duty for a winning Small Business owner.

But how should we feel about ‘letting go’ of our actual customers?

Is it ever acceptable to wave goodbye to the very people that we’re supposed to be serving with our excellent products and services?

I was enjoying a drink with an old entrepreneurial friend of mine yesterday, down at Smokey Joe’s Small Business Bar.
Actually, ‘enjoying’ might be far too strong a word in this particular case.
You never really feel those welcome waves of euphoria when you’re in the company of Negative Nigel.

“Oh no, it’s him again!” he suddenly cursed as he glanced at an email which had popped up on his Smartphone screen.
It’s funny. A very similar thought had crossed my mind when I first walked into the bar and realised that Negative Nigel was the only other person in there.

“Trouble at work, Nigel?” I asked, politely.

“Yeah. This customer has placed another order with my business,” he replied, with an air of weary resignation.

It sounded like quite an odd thing to get upset about. I’m usually quite happy to see new orders rolling into Martin Print. That’s the whole point of business, isn’t it? Unless I’ve been getting it hideously wrong all these years…

“This customer is nothing but trouble,” he expanded. “He upsets me and my team. He’s always rude and quite offensive. Nothing is ever good enough for him. And he never even bothers to pay us on time. I hate it when he places a new order with us! Hate it!”

It sounded to me as if Negative Nigel may have reached the point where it made more sense to end the customer relationship instead of prolonging the agony any further.

But when I suggested this to Nigel, he looked at me as if I’d suddenly lost my mind.
“What?” he spluttered. “You mean I should fire my own client? That’s sheer madness! You can’t do that!”
He paused for a moment.
Can you?”


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