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How to Accept Feedback with Grace

How do you respond to feedback from others? Do you cringe when someone shares personal advice to improve your business, or makes a suggestion about your product or service? Believe it or not, the comments you receive can help you to make beneficial changes for your business. Below are some simple ways to help you successfully handle the feedback you receive:

1. Choose to be neutral. It’s easy to become emotional or defensive when hearing people critique your business, especially if you disagree with their recommendations. When you can allow people to express
their opinions without taking it to heart, you’ll find it easier to put your personal feelings aside. Remind
yourself that it’s just an opinion. You can practice being neutral by writing down the feedback you
receive. This helps you to stop thinking about what was shared. Review this information later and focus
on what’s truly helpful to your business.

2. Let go of self-judgment. When you feel that your business is going well and someone comes along
to give you advice, you might think that something is wrong. Even worse, you may feel that “you” are
doing something wrong. This can cause you to make changes based on one person’s opinion. If left
unchallenged, you may also start to doubt yourself and question your ability to make sound decisions.
To keep doubt and judgment at bay, trust that you know how to run your business better than anyone
else. Take ownership as the head of your business!

3. Use it or lose it. When someone makes a suggestion, take some time to consider what’s useful to
you. How can the suggestion help your business? How does it relate to your vision and goals? If you
find the feedback helpful, then it’s favorable to use it. However, if you fail to see a connection between
the advice offered and your business goals, it’s time to lose it. Remember that you are in charge of your
business, and it’s essential that any changes you make support your vision.

As a business owner, it’s important to learn to appreciate feedback. While it may be difficult at times
to hear people critique your product or service, you can receive some great ideas to help your business
grow. An open mind coupled with the willingness to entertain some of the advice shared by others
could also mean a big payoff for your business!

Stacey L. Brown, Certified Life Coach & Facilitator
Owner, Self Reflections – Minot, ND
Stacey offers coaching services and workshops to help women discover their strengths, build confidence, and improve their lives. To learn more about her work, please visit www.atrueyou.com

Featured Artist – Judy Bell

Judy Bell is a North Dakota artist who designs each painting to be one of a kind. She paints traditional and contemporary watercolors of elegant flowers and landscapes, in colors both clean and timeless.

We are proud to have Judy as our next Featured ND Woman Artist. Judy’s artwork will be on display in the CTB office until June 30 and all are invited to stop by to see the paintings at 3333 East Broadway Ave Suite 1219 in Bismarck.

She is represented in galleries and fine gift shops with original paintings and miniature reproductions, in print (wildflowers, birds, fruit & Christmas themes).

For more information on Judy’s work visit

www.etsy.com/shop/judithbelloriginals or

www.judybellwatercolors.com

Leaving a Lasting Impression

Ever meet someone and automatically feel as though they are someone you want to get to know?  They are the kind of person you instantly want to do business with.  As business owners, you want to give that impression the first time and every time you interact with others. It will help you drive new business, retain existing customers and build an engaged employee culture.  The following steps should get you started on leaving a wonderful and lasting impression.

1. Smile - Always have a smile on your face when you first meet someone. It makes you look friendly and confident. People like someone that smiles, because they seem approachable and easy to talk to. This makes others feel at ease as well, especially your staff and potential customers.

2. Be a good listener – By listening attentively to others, you open the doors to trusting you. People love talking about themselves so ask them questions and listen. When devoting your attention to others instead of talking about yourself, it shows that you are truly interested. This will make you stand out because everyone appreciates a good listener.

3. Look them in the eye - To show others you are easily approachable and feel comfortable, shake their hand firmly, look them directly in the eye and smile. This never fails! It creates a connection between the two parties meeting. Everyone loves someone that looks confident and friendly.

4. Remember names - People love the sound of their own name, therefore, it is important to remember names. It is not always easy to remember someone’s name, especially if you are meeting a group of people at once, but try to remember. It shows that you are paying attention and interested in what they are saying.  A good way to do practice is to repeat the name out loud after meeting someone. Try to mention the name several times in the conversation so it remains in your mind. Another way to remember someone’s name is to find a connection or characteristic between the name and the person.

Use these tips to create a memorable impression on all those around you!

Michelle J. Wall
People Performance Igniter ~ Business Results Orchestrator
Dale Carnegie Business Group of North Dakota
www.northdakota.dalecarnegie.com

Move Out of Your Comfort Zone and Let Your Business to Shine!

To create a successful business, it is essential to establish your presence and share your message with people in the community. By doing so, you can find potential customers, partners, and supporters. While you may be excited about making new contacts, fear and doubt can make it difficult to take the first steps. Here are some ways to move out of your comfort zone and connect with others:

1. Join a local club or organization. Your membership will allow you to meet like-minded people who share your interests and passions. The club may also provide a platform for you to speak about your business and how you can serve fellow members. There are many groups to choose from, including educational, social, recreational, and human service. Doing a little research will help you to find groups that fit your interests.

2. Become a volunteer. Serving as a volunteer is a great way to interact with local residents. You could spend a few hours each month working at the local community kitchen or become a mentor. You might also consider providing free services to benefit a specific organization. As a result, people can see you in
action and refer you to others in their network.

3. Make business presentations. Contact heads of local organizations and companies to introduce yourself and your business. Request to make a complimentary 20-minute presentation about your services. You may be invited to attend a staff meeting or serve as “speaker of the day.” Be sure to prepare a professional presentation and have plenty of business cards or brochures available.

4. Create partnerships. Find people who do similar work or whose businesses compliment your own. Offer to discuss ways that you can work together to reach prospective customers. Collaborating with others often gives you more confidence, energy, and motivation than working alone.

5. Visit fellow business owners. Stop by to introduce yourself to other business owners in your area. Ask questions to learn more about their products, customers, and goals. As you build these relationships, you also create a network of friends and associates who can help.

The more you venture out to meet new people, the easier the process becomes to make meaningful connections. You’ll begin to build relationships in no time and create alliances you never expected. Know that there are people waiting to meet you and use your services. Now is the time to get out there and help them find you!

Stacey L. Brown, Certified Life Coach & Facilitator
Owner, Self Reflections – Minot, ND
Stacey offers coaching services and workshops to help women discover their strengths, build confidence, and improve their lives. To learn more about her work, please visit www.atrueyou.com

2013 Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day

April 25th, 2013, Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work® Day.

Center for Technology & Business encourages business owners in North Dakota to participate on April 25. Whether you are employed at home or in a small to large company, each person can make a difference in the future of how America works.

It’s never too early to start encouraging youth to have an active imagination, to set goals, and to take more control of their future.

By inviting children into the workplace, you can help them learn about career opportunities and life options in a positive way.

 

Planning Tips

The most successful days are creative and productive. Think about what makes your company unique, and most importantly use your resources!

  • Create a Planning Committee: Involve different departments and employees at every level of your organization. At least two months before the Day, spread the word to let your colleagues know that your company will be participating in Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work®. Extend an invitation to all employees encouraging them to assist in planning and participating on April 25, 2013.
  • Children can learn from every employee and department: Ask employees from every level and department within the organization to share their work experiences, and encourage girls and boys to ask questions. For example, ask the payroll department to demonstrate how employees get paid, explain why deductions are taken out, how time off is factored in, etc.
  • Keep Activities Short: Interactive activities that are 45 to 55 minutes in length are best.
  • Recommended for girls and boys ages 8-18: Younger children may have a shorter attention span during activities.
  • Incorporate the official Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® activities into your Day. Download the activities from our website.
  • Encourage your company to ‘adopt’ a group of girls and boys on April 25, 2013: Contact a local school, public housing authority, shelter, Big Brother/Big Sister chapters, Girl/Boy Scout Troop, etc., about hosting a group of children at your workplace.
  • Introduce children to technology: Show girls and boys how important technology is to your business. Schedule time for them to work on computers or other office equipment. For example, let them view your website and see how business is conducted through the site or have them participate in a conference call with another office that is participating in the program.
  • Talk to school officials about Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work®Work with your child’s teachers to let them know that she/he will be spending the day doing educational activities.
  • Create a participation form or checklist: Children can take this back to school to demonstrate their participation in the educational activities at your work place.
  • Keep children safe: Provide adequate safety and protective gear for girls and boys and be sure to have a range of sizes available. Learn more about safety and insurance issues.

http://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=299

 

Sample Days

Need ideas? The Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Foundation has developed a host of fun yet educational activities for your Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work® Day at http://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org/wmspage.cfm?parm1=301. See how your workplace can incorporate them into your program! You will find everything from icebreakers to problem-solving activities that allow girls and boys to explore what they want in their future.

 

View a copy of S.RES.137 which specifically dedicates the 4th Thursday in April as Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day.

http://www.daughtersandsonstowork.org/user-assets/PDF/2012%20S.%20Res.%20408.pdf

 

Let us know how you participate – we would love to see photos and hear stories of your day on our Facebook page

3 Simple Ways To Improve Customer Satisfaction Today

As business owners, we’d all like to think of ourselves as providers of great customer service. As small business owners in particular, it’s quite possibly your biggest differentiator. After all, how often is it that you walk into a national chain restaurant and are greeted by name, handed your favorite drink and made to feel like part of the family?
But great customer service is also about knowing how to handle problems, responding to and resolving issues—something at which agile small businesses can often excel. If customer satisfaction is your goal, then great customer service will get you there. Here are three simple things you can do to embed customer service into your business philosophy and day-to-day operations:

Listen and Learn
Listening is key to effective customer service and it can also help boost your profitability. Here are two ways to prove to your customers that you are listening–and tips on how to make it count:

  • Everyday Customer Interaction – Show you are listening to your customers by taking notes or repeating back what your customer has said. Listen to their words and tone. Observe their body language. Provide them clear and concise communication. Ask clarifying questions to gain understanding before you provide a response. If you can’t respond immediately, be sure to provide a timeline for response and make a note in your calendar to do so. Follow up, confirm the resolution and check for customer satisfaction and completion.
  • Facilitating Feedback – If you don’t have a reason for face-to-face interaction with a customer, look for ways to stay in touch and show you are listening and eager to keep the lines of communication open. For example, follow up with a customer after a sale to prove to your customers that you want to hear from them. Hand out in-store or post-sale surveys to find out what they’d like to see from your brand—and stay active on social media (more on this below). Customer service is, after all, about meeting the needs and expectations of the customer as defined by the customer. By soliciting feedback and using that information to inform your business you will find new ways to ensure your business is relevant to them and hopefully open new lines of profitable opportunity.

In order to have effective customer service, you must know what your customers want, provide it to them on a consistent basis and ask them how you are doing.

Look For Ways to Treat Customers As You Would Like To Be Treated
Remember, how you and your staff communicate with your customers is just as important as what you communicate. Remember that your customer wants to see the sunny side of you and your business, so have your filter on and put yourself in their shoes.
A good way to instill this attitude among your staff is to do some simple role play in which they act out a few scenarios that involve both easy-going and difficult customers. Observe how they handle the situation and coach them on areas to improve.

For example:

  • How are customers being greeted? — Put them at ease and make them feel comfortable! This sets the tone for the rest of the transaction.
  • Demonstrate that your customers are valued — Let them know you think they are important. Your sincerity makes them feel good about you and the organization.
  • Ask how to help your customers — Find out what they want. It is important that each customer encounter makes them feel satisfied.
  • Don’t challenge disgruntled customers — Listen, reassure them that you’ll escalate or act on their complaint and follow through until resolution.
  • Help customers — Help them get what they want. Make it easy for customers to locate or obtain the information they need. Answer their questions in a timely manner.

Carry Customer Service Across All Your Customer Touch Points
Remember to carry through on your customer service goals wherever your business has a presence. This means both online and offline. More than ever, social media is a systematic part of your customer service model, so if you have a presence on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and so on, be sure you are actively listening, engaging, monitoring and responding to your customers online.

by Caron Beesley - SBA Community Moderator

Business and Commerce Very Much Encouraged in North Dakota

The ND Department of Commerce is a partner of Center for Technology & Business. In upcoming blog posts, we’ll be sharing a few exciting business features from ND Department of Commerce to show you what’s happening across the state.

Blaise Energy

When oil is pumped from the ground, excess gas surfaces and is currently burned off through flaring. Few profitable options exist to capture and transport that oil drilling by-product; however, Dickinson-based Blaise Energy, Inc. is studying ways to reduce flaring and generate energy from the excess gas produced during oil drilling.

The pilot project places generators at oil production well sites to transform wellhead flare gas into high-quality, three-phase electricity, which is then sold to the local rural electric cooperatives. The modern, natural gas-fueled generators burn cleanly with “ultra low” emissions ratings that exceed state and federal emissions standards.

“There is a different feel here. Business and commerce is very much encouraged in North Dakota,” said president Mark Wald. “There are a lot of programs available within the state to encourage new business and new business ideas and new business methods.”

Blaise Energy

Blaise Energy has received $375,000 in state stimulus research funds to continue this project. Following the North Dakota Industrial Commission approval, the North Dakota Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency in conjunction with the US Department of Energy provided a $2 million Recovery Act award for the company to implement five megawatts of generation to recycle approximately 600 billion BTU (British Thermal Units) of gas annually. This will provide enough power to supply 5,000 homes per year.

This “recycled energy” helps better utilize the state’s natural resources while reducing emissions. By working directly with state leadership, Blaise Energy is providing real solutions to address the challenge of flaring in North Dakota.

To learn more about doing business better in North Dakota visit www.NDBusiness.com.

Eastern ND Becoming Hub for Biopharmaceutical

The ND Department of Commerce is a partner of Center for Technology & Business. In upcoming blog posts, we’ll be sharing a few exciting business features from ND Department of Commerce to show you what’s happening across the state.

Diligence, precision, adaptability, and efficiency are the trademarks of Aldevron, a North Dakota-based organization that specializes in plasmid DNA, protein production and antibody technologies.

“We make DNA,” says Michael Chambers, President and CEO of Aldevron. “DNA is used for many applications: drug development, biotechnology, pharmaceutical sciences, agriculture and many other applications.” The company’s core product is used to support vaccine and oncology research. “A lot of our material is used in diagnostic kits around the world, detecting diseases before people get sick,” says Chambers.

As a student at North Dakota State University, Chambers studied biotechnology and a course in DNA vaccines led to the development of Aldevron in 2000. The company now has three facilities in Fargo with additional facilities in Madison, WI, and Freiburg, Germany. As the biotech industry continues to grow, Aldevron is capitalizing on its strong reputation and long list of regular clientele with expansions in both Fargo, ND and Madison, WI.

Aldevron

Although Aldevron is a global company, the decision to remain headquartered in Fargo was an easy one for Chambers. “The business costs are low, and we have a good work ethic. The educational system in North Dakota, and especially the relationships with the universities, is good; it’s nice to have access to those groups.” Aldevron has worked with the North Dakota Department of Commerce’s Centers of Excellence program, which partners private businesses with the research capacities of the state’s university system to generate jobs and new business opportunities. Presently Aldevron is working with a Center of Excellence program to develop antibody therapeutics for infectious diseases like West Nile and avian flu.

With eastern North Dakota becoming a hub for biopharmaceutical research, Chambers sees the company’s location in the state as a key aspect of their continued growth. “Residing in North Dakota is central to our success,” says Chambers. “This is a state like no other. I don’t think we could have done what we’ve done anywhere else.”

To learn more about doing business better in North Dakota visitwww.NDBusiness.com.

North Dakota’s Pro-Business Culture is Key Ingredient

The ND Department of Commerce is a partner of Center for Technology & Business. In upcoming blog posts, we’ll be sharing a few exciting business features from ND Department of Commerce to show you what’s happening across the state.

Great River Energy is a generation and transmission cooperative that provides reliable, competitive and environmentally friendly electricity to about 1.7 million people. Although all of the cooperative’s customers are primarily in Minnesota and northwest Wisconsin, the company has three power plants located in North Dakota for two primary reasons: North Dakota’s ample energy sources and its business friendly environment.

Although Great River Energy generates electricity from multiple sources, including renewables such as wind and biomass, a majority of the company’s 2,650 megawatts of electricity come from coal-based power plants. According to Al Christianson, the company’s North Dakota Manager of Business Development and Government Affairs, the company is committed to generating power in an environmentally-friendly manner.

“We are trying to take every ounce of energy out of our coal by using new technologies such as DryFiningTM to improve power plant efficiencies and reduce emissions, and by utilizing by-products from the process,” Christianson says. This is being done, in part, through the development of an energy park concept. For example, the newly constructed Spiritwood Station, a combined heat and power plant, will use DryFine (a refined lignite product), and also provide steam to users adjacent to the plant. “The energy park concept is very exciting,” Christianson explains, “because you don’t have to build a billion dollar power plant to have a project that’s very economical and very good for our members.”

GRE

Christianson cites North Dakota’s pro-business culture as a key ingredient to the company’s success. When the company was exploring a new energy development project, the North Dakota Department of Commerce assembled a team from various state agencies to review the project and to discuss how they could assist in its success. “We had meetings with the Bank of North Dakota, the tax commissioner, Job Service and the Secretary of State to review programs available through the state,” Christianson says.

Great River Energy has received a high level of support from the state of North Dakota, according to Christianson. “North Dakota is such a great state, from the Governor on down, because they ask how they can help with a project. It’s the North Dakota spirit, the North Dakota way.”

To learn more about doing business better in North Dakota visit www.NDBusiness.com.

Agriculture is Still King in North Dakota

The ND Department of Commerce is a partner of Center for Technology & Business. In upcoming blog posts, we’ll be sharing a few exciting business features from ND Department of Commerce to show you what’s happening across the state.

United Pulse

Although the growing oil industry has been getting a lot of attention in North Dakota lately, agriculture is still king as the state’s largest industry. For United Pulse Traders, North Dakota is a prime location to capitalize on the growing market for dried peas, beans and other products known as pulse crops.”We are the number one producer of dried peas and lentils,” says Eric Bartsch, general manager for United Pulse Traders, a value-added pulse crop processer. “In 2000 we had less than 100,000 acres in North Dakota. Now we are close to 700-800,000 acres of dried peas, lentils and chickpeas.”In 2007, the company opened its processing facility in Williston, ND, close to the source of the crop fields. The pulse crops are processed, cleaned and color sorted, making them ready for the table. The company packages and ships the products to over 100 countries, including India and countries in North Africa and the Middle East.

Bartsch sees North Dakota as one of their key factors of success. “We have facilities located in six countries around the world. We have a pretty far reach. Of all the areas where we’ve expanded, North Dakota has really been one of the best places.”

United Pulse

United Pulse Trading received assistance from the state of North Dakota to get the Williston facility built and operating. “We used the North Dakota Development Fund from the North Dakota Department of Commerce, and the PACE loan program through the Bank of North Dakota. It’s really programs like these that have made North Dakota a perfect environment for expanding business.”

United Pulse itself is growing and looking to expand. United Pulse currently employs 35 people in Williston with additional staff in Bismarck. In November 2011, United Pulse Traders announced plans to build a processing facility in Minot, milling split peas and chickpeas. The Minot facility is expected to be in operation by first quarter 2013 with approximately 40 new jobs. “We will be adding value to another 100,000 metric tons of area producers’ agricultural crops and introducing new, added-value food ingredients product lines worldwide as a result of this new facility. “The programs and the environment in the state are pro-business,” Bartsch says. “It really gives a company an advantage to expand here.” The North Dakota Department of Commerce worked closely with United Pulse and the Minot Area Development Corporation to assist United Pulse with several finance and tax incentives available to the company.

To learn more about doing business better in North Dakota visit www.NDBusiness.com.

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