I T’S NOT T YPICAL to get small-business guidance
on a ski slope, but one of the most useful pieces of
advice I ever got came when I ;rst learned to ski
years ago: “Commit yourself to the turn.” Whenever
you want to go in a new direction—in skiing, small
business or life—you need to follow the same advice.
Skiing is all about turns. If you go slowly, there’s
a moment in each turn when you realize you’re facing straight downhill—not a comfortable feeling.
;at’s when you get scared. But here’s the interesting
part: If you stay committed—if you don’t let fear get
the best of you—your body moves you around,
safely completing the turn. If you waver, thinking,
“Oh my gosh, I don’t want to go straight down,” you
stop turning and end up facing downhill—exactly
what you wanted to avoid.
Business, too, is all about making turns. When
you start a company, you have a pretty good idea of
where you want to go, but you can quickly ;nd you
have to change your plan—you need to turn. In current terminology, we call it pivoting.
You may be timid as you set o; on a new course,
;dence level at the beginning, as you start to deal
with the consequences of the choices you’ve made, it
can be scary. It feels as if you’re facing downhill.
;at’s when you have to commit yourself to the
turn. Whenever you’re developing a new direction
for your company—a new project, expansion, different technologies—you have to follow through
with enough support, resources and, especially, time
to give it a reasonable chance of success.
That doesn’t mean you can’t examine and
readjust the details of the choices you’ve made.
You can and should. But be careful: I’ve seen many
companies that either pull the plug on a project
too soon or, more o;en, commit only hal;eart-edly to new undertakings.
As you make a change in your business life—
indeed, in any part of your life—follow through suf-;ciently to give it a chance to succeed. Give your new
direction enough energy and commitment to create
the momentum to carry you through the inevitable
rough spots. Commit yourself to the turn. C
BY MINDY CHARSKI
HAVING A WEBSITE is great—in fact,
today it’s essential—but merely having an
online presence isn’t enough. You also
need to o;er visitors a good experience.
“More and more, your website is the
;rst impression and interaction a potential
customer will have with you,” says John
Turner, a Costco member and the founder of
usersthink.com), a website feed-
back tool. “A bad interaction leaves a poor
impression, making that person less likely to
convert into a customer or refer others to you.”
One way to frustrate users quickly is to
have a site load slowly. Many factors can be
to blame, but bulky images are among the
biggest culprits. Turner recommends first
compressing ;le sizes with a free image opti-
When pages do load, they shouldn’t trig-
ger a scavenger hunt. Be sure visitors can eas-
ily ;nd basic information, such as your hours
and how to contact you.
Likewise, make it simple for users to per-
form the actions you desire. ;e résumé writ-
ing service TopResume (
starts a conversation with job seekers by o;er-
ing free résumé critiques, and its home page
prominently features a box that reads,
“Upload Your Résumé,” which removes
guesswork about how to submit a résumé.
Sometimes taking actions can be tricky
for mobile visitors if small buttons are
involved, so make clickable elements on
mobile sites friendly for big ;ngers.
Pay attention to your checkout
process, too. High cart abandonment
can signal that checkout might be
too arduous or confusing.
You can uncover hidden
problems with your site by con-
ducting tests, requesting customer
feedback and analyzing anonymous
It was through testing, for instance,
that TopResume learned that to start a con-
versation it’s sometimes more e;ective to ask
for a résumé before asking for an email
address, rather than the other way around.
Patrick Butler, chief product officer of
TopResume’s parent company, Talent Inc.,
says people may be more hesitant to provide
an email address in an initial interaction.
;at’s a reminder that cra;ing a good
user experience is about more than just o;ering ease of use: Generating positive feelings
like trust and satisfaction is important, too. C
Dallas-based freelancer and Costco member
Mindy Charski ( mindycharski.com)
specializes in business journalism.
to the turn
Rhonda Abrams is the author of
19 books including Successful
Business Plan: Secrets &
Strategies, now in its sixth edition. Connect at facebook.com/
and Twitter: @RhondaAbrams.
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