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How to achieve your best

Achieving your best is a personal thing. In the same way that success for you really should be defined by your lifestyle, family, financial and other goals – rather than what society says success “should” be – being “your best” works the same way. And from a work perspective this applies whether we are considering being your best in your business or someone else’s business. We know that measuring success simply by material possessions isn’t very holistic. Clearly there are other very personal things like health, happiness, peace and love that count as much or more. And if we fall into the trap of defining “achieving your best” as how close we can get to being the “perfect” man or woman” i.e. being the perfect provider, parent, carer, partner, friend or even global change agent, we go down the same slippery slope of unrealistic standards and expectations (cue Superman or Superwoman Syndrome). So what is the secret to achieving your best when it is so different for everyone? I think Leonardo da Vinci was on to something when he said “Make your work to be in keeping with your purpose.” In every person is planted the seed and the capability to make a difference. This seed is your purpose, mission, calling, genius or life’s work…  And when you say yes to your calling and start taking the appropriate action, you attract the resources so you can keep doing it. There is a revolution happening right now – the “Greed is Good” mantra of Gordon Gecko is now very hollow. There is a definite shift in global consciousness and awareness - away from greed, win/lose competition and accumulating for accumulation’s sake towards authenticity, integrity, compassion, connection and being of service. Everyone is part of this shift, some more conscious of it than others. Within this context work stops being “work” and becomes simply the way you want to spend your time. It inspires you, gets you up earlier and keeps you up later because it revolves around your personal values and aspirations. It also tends to be the place where you exhibit your genius. It frees you up to work on the areas of weakness that are holding you back and it also helps you play to your strengths so you can work in your sweet spot - to get into flow. This is the place where you can achieve your best. And working at your heart’s desire, at the best you have to give, will often be your greatest source of profitability - financial, emotional and spiritual. How much more personal can you get? Here are my Top 3 specific strategies to be your best: Resist the urge to be a “Superperson” and trying to live up to someone else’s unrealistic standards.  Keep a holistic attitude about being your best and about success. It’s all very personal. If in doubt, see #1 again. Invest in your growth. Get a mentor/coach/advisor, ideally someone who understands you but is also different from you. Also look for people who are further down the same track that you can learn from, model and be inspired by. Remember, the definition of a blind spot is that you can’t see it! Having someone to show you the way really helps. 

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How to achieve your best - part 2

"To tap the tremendous unrealized potential that exists in all of us, we must think of meaningful work as an essential ingredient of a fulfilling life. We can move past success to significance when we realize our purpose is found in serving others. Then we connect to something that goes far beyond the bottom line."                         ~ Laura Cardone The ancient Chinese view of symmetry is expressed via the concept of Yin and Yang. It is expressed for example in the dualistic nature of day and night, fire and water, active and passive, masculine and feminine. According to the Taoists all things have both Yin and Yang properties and business is no exception. And yet, modern business clearly exhibits very strong masculine (Yang) essence or energy. We see it manifested as a bias for action, goal setting, measuring results, hitting targets, dominating markets, beating the competition, carving up territories, etc. This is primarily because the “game” of business is a game created by men. However one of the inspiring things that women have brought to the world of business has been a much more overt examination of purpose and meaning. They will often join or even start businesses around their personal values, their families, their causes, their desired lifestyles, their passions and their natural gifts. The key to achieving your best in this revolution is a new model of heart based business and work which integrates both masculine and feminine. This is the essence of Yin Yang – unity not duality – where the masculine contains the feminine energy and the feminine contains the masculine energy. Politically, economically, in business, sport and at home we are seeing a rebalancing of masculine and feminine energies. Feminine energy is the intuitive, creative, heart centred approach that brings flexibility and flow. Masculine energy is the rational logic that gives the structure needed to make money and support yourself whilst you do what you do. We need both. And of course all of us inherently have both. Tapping into both is probably the biggest secret to achieving your best! And like most things, it’s the balance that is important. Use your feminine strengths such as empathic skills and ability to collaborate and at the same time apply masculine skills such as structure, focus, discipline, assertiveness and a fiscal focus. Here are the second group of 3 specific strategies to be your best: Maintain an attitude of learning at all times. Make sure that you balance your work on both your weaknesses and your strengths. Remember to nurture yourself. You already know that you need to put your own oxygen mask on first before helping others – this applies on the ground as well. Whether you are busy building a career or building an entrepreneurial empire, you still need to make time for self-care. And leave the guilt at the door please – it’s an investment in yourself. If you’re not already, get clear on your personal Higher Purpose and integrate that into whatever you do. Know that you have something of great value to offer the world. As Andrew Cohen said, “We are all capable of greatness when we know without any doubt that we are directly connected to a higher purpose.”

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How to Boost Your Online Retail Sales Using These Proven Strategies

Technology and globalisation are forever changing the way we do business.  The good news is that Australian business was ranked at the top of The Economist’s and eBay’s inaugural index that tracks G20 nations’[1] preparedness for the global online trading boom. While this is great, not all local retailers know how to go about boosting their online sales or identifying the right technology to achieve this. In fact, where to start is the biggest issue for many. To get the most from the booming digital marketplace, you need to be willing to embrace an end-to-end approach to how you do business rather than compartmentalise the digital component. If you do, there is a big opportunity to drive higher sales and promote stronger customer loyalty. To take full advantage, here are five key areas you should focus on to really be successful: Make Online a Priority Compared to other markets, Aussie retailers still have more to do to integrate bricks and mortar stores with online channels. With digital technology for business growing more than 20% a year, the most reliable strategy for retailers is to embrace e-commerce while using stores as the hub of an omni-channel shopping experience. Competition is tougher than ever in the digital age, with customers able to ‘go shopping’ anywhere in the world (even while they’re in your store) just by picking up their phone or tablet – so thinking carefully about a consistent in-store and online experience is really important. Be Personal -- Get to Know Your Customers Keeping spreadsheets of customer details was once thought to be "customer relationship building 101." Today, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is the most effective way of managing your customer details. By segregating them by product, geography and even demographics, the more you can effectively target them with personalised marketing for products or services that are likely to be of interest. Open the Conversation It’s one thing to manage customer details, but far more important to interact with them in the ways they want to interact with your business - and usually at a time that suits them. In other words, for successful retailers, gone are the days when the ‘closed’ sign on the shop front door meant a missed sales opportunity. Email, social media and SMS – have replaced that sign, so that you can always be ‘open for business’. Using these tools enables you to build a digital relationship with your customers 24/7. However, it’s important to remember that just as more traditional means of communication carry legal requirements. So do SMS, email and other electronic messaging. As such, when you extend your communication with customers, don’t forget there are still some legal obligations. ​The Socially Savvy SME It’s relatively easy these days to make noise on social media platforms, but there’s a lot more to it if you want to establish an online presence where customers are connecting on a meaningful level with your brand. While Social Media is a simple and cheap way to build direct links with your customers and the wider local community, it also has the potential to extend your customer reach and brand visibility well beyond your immediate geographic location – and with people who are most likely to be interested in your products or services. Social media needn’t be daunting. Fundamentally, it’s about having genuine conversations with your customers, just as you would in-store or at their premises. Think of it as word of mouth for the 21st Century. Consider the conversations you’d have in person and encourage those conversations in social media: put effort into providing the best possible answers to customers’ questions and keep people up-to-date with what’s happening in your business. The key is to choose the best platform for your business that connects with your audience –most commonly, LinkedIn for professional services, Instagram for visual merchandise, Twitter for creative industries or Facebook for socially-connected consumers. Customer Oriented Online Presence The best way to make yourself known to customers is via your website and social media page(s). As a rule of thumb, always make sure your online presence is designed with your audience in mind. Clearly explain your products and services and include easily updatable content so that you can remain fresh and reflect your latest offerings and specials. Customers are often looking for simple details –Where are you? When are you open? What do you have in stock? What’s on special? Where and how fast do you ship? Can they complete an order online? How can they pay? What have other customers said about you? Of course online in today’s world mostly means smartphones and tablets. A huge number of customers are now using these devices to look for products and services – and often do comparisons while they are in your shop! With this in mind, it has never been more important to have a website that is optimised for mobile and tablet devices and to have a ‘click to call’ link. These digital strategies and tools are the keys to help you boost online retail sales by reaching customers and suppliers around the world, and keeping pace with the ever-evolving world of digital marketing. The most successful businesses are already taking advantage of the great opportunities available online, and this will fuel their success into the future.  

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How to Efficiently Grow a Small Business on a Tight Budget

Small businesses that are just starting out have to use their money as wisely as possible, getting the best value for the lowest price, and cutting off all extraneous costs. Marketing strategies have to be strategic and aim to make repetitive customers. Branding is essential; be known for something.                         Every single day the number of entrepreneurs is increasing at an exponential rate. Most start their business without knowing the best way to manage their sales in the market. Sales are considered to be the most important element in any business since it’s the key ingredient of your profits. Statistics suggest that most new entrepreneurs fail to succeed in their business due to a budget deficit and lack of proper planning. To build a business from scratch, you need to be wise in using your resources, especially if you are running with a tight budget. As a starter, you can’t afford unplanned spending since you need to use every penny constructively. If you look at the most successful businesses in Australia, then you'll notice they have a solid forecast and know what they want to achieve within a specific time frame. So, let’s discuss how to run a business efficiently with a tight budget: Use resources efficiently The first thing that you need to learn in your business is how to use your resources. As an entrepreneur, you need to put people in the right departments. They can never be productive unless you assign them to a sector they specialize in. Doing so will save you lots of time and money. And most importantly, managing a smaller team is much easier than handling a big team in your business so focus on building a small team at the initial stage. Cut your business cost To grow your business, you first need to cut down any extra costs you may be incurring. For instance, you might be buying low-quality equipment to save money, but in reality, you are paying more as you have to bear the additional cost of the service and replacement of low-quality equipment. So if you bought high-quality equipment at the initial stage, then you won’t have to pay this extra cost. As a startup businessperson, you can learn lots from a professional forex trader. They wait patiently and eradicate all the false signals in their trading platform and wait for a high-quality trade setup. Just like the professional trader you need to focus on efficient staff. Always make sure that their output is at least three times more than their pay at the end of the month. Convert the potential client into a repeat customer As a businessperson, you must have a vision and project objective. When you have a perfect project objective, this means you know your target audience (clients). Without studying your clients demand you can never increase your sales. And your main vision should be focused on turning the potential customers into your repeated customers for continuous sales. So what do you need for that? The answer is pretty simple. You need to assess your competitors in the market and make an offer to customers which others don’t. There are many small businesses which have turned into huge, profitable ones just by following this simple rule. Develop a strategic marketing plan A strategic marketing plan is very vital for the success of a small business. For instance, you need to know how much money you will spend in a certain promotional campaign and what will be the result regarding sales revenue. If you want to see yourself as a successful entrepreneur, then make sure that you have a strategic marketing plan which drives your sales at an exponential rate. You might have the best service to offer clients, but if you don't reach out to them and let them know about your service, they won't buy. Many brilliant business ideas remain unnoticed due to poor marketing. So make sure that you place a portion of your business budget to drive sales with the perfect marketing strategy. Highlight your brand identity Brand identity is extremely crucial for the long-term success of any business. For instance when you hear the brand name "Apple" you are well aware that they create one of the most elite smartphones in society. Similarly, you need to create your brand identity from the very beginning even though you are running on a tight budget. New entrepreneurs often ask how to create the brand identity in the market. You need to assess your market competitors and based on that give some special service to your customers which others don’t. The service must be high quality, and no one else should provide it in the market. It’s true that providing such a service with a tight budget business is extremely difficult, but if you follow all the other mentioned tips, then you can use money in the most efficient way. And this will allow you to use a portion of your hard-earned investment for developing your brand awareness in the market. Stay on Budget Growing a small business from scratch requires strategic implementation of your business plan. You need to be extremely careful about your business. Always stay focused and utilize your budget in the best possible way. As a businessperson, you need to have a clear forecast regarding your achievement for a definite time interval. Make sure that you assess your business performance very frequently and make the necessary adjustments.

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How to Free Up 2 Hours a Day as a Busy Entrepreneur

Sparing two hours in a busy workday is possible for entrepreneurs if they employ time-saving tips for each task throughout the day.  Distractions, urgency, and priorities are the common reasons that prevent business owners from having free time on their hands.  It takes time to find the right tips that will boost productivity. For starters, try these ones. Being an entrepreneur can be quite stressful. Everyone looks up to you, your schedule is filled with all kinds of responsibilities, you spend long hours in the office, and you feel like you don’t have time for anything else than work and chores. It’s a fact, most new entrepreneurs have difficulties finding time and resources to cross all the tasks off their lists, and finding some additional time for fun, family and rest seems impossible.  “So many tasks, so little time” This mentality is often the only thing that prevents us from achieving our goals and freeing up some time for ourselves. Here are some general tips, which can help every busy entrepreneur free up to 2 hours a day if you’re lucky. Get rid of distractions We are blessed to live in this modern era, filled with all kinds of comforts. Unfortunately, our world is also filled with all kinds of distractions. In fact, we are so used to the distractions on our computers, that it sometimes feels like our heads and hands have different priorities. For instance, you’re ready to work on a project, you have everything sorted out in your head, but your hand starts scrolling through Facebook posts instead of working. This is how productivity dies and in order to avoid that you need strong motivation and focus on the task at hand. If you limit your access to social networks during your work hours, you will save at least half an hour every day. If you lack the self-control, then you can use a program or application, which limits your access to these websites on demand. Follow a defined timeline A big part of being an entrepreneur includes being chained to a desk trying to figure out better solutions for some projects. However, spending prolonged hours forcing ourselves to work doesn’t mean that everything will happen faster. On the contrary, scientists have proven decades ago that this affects our productivity in a negative way. Instead of wasting hours on pointless head banging, you should consider the Pomodoro Technique. It’s a very simple technique that can be broken down to 5 simple steps: Choose one task to work on. Set the timer to 25 minutes. Work until the timer rings. Take a 5-minute break. Repeat the previous steps 3 more times, and then take a 10-15 minute break. The approach is named after the classic tomato-shaped timer, and its goal is to help you take advantage of bursts of focus by removing distractions and providing you with a time limit. Once you start employing it, you will notice that some tasks will take you less time, allowing you to save a couple of minutes from every project. Learn to delegate It’s amazing how many tasks can be done by practically everybody in the company, but we are still the ones who do them. Most entrepreneurs are just so protective of their projects, that they don’t think anyone else can finish the task the same way or with the same quality. This is all part of some delusion, which keeps us from having more time to ourselves. So, to free up some time from your schedule, you need to revise all your tasks and delegate the least important ones to someone you trust. This process can be both scary and refreshing, but it’s for a good cause – you will have up to an hour to yourself, and you’ll give someone else the opportunity to grow and develop. Evaluate your priorities Being an entrepreneur doesn’t have a clear job description, and in our strive to find and learn new things. We often get caught up doing something non-essential, which just takes our precious minutes away, like reading some interesting publication or catching up on mail. This is why if you want to save those 2 hours a day, you need to learn to prioritise. Make a list of the essential tasks that need to be done right away, and leave everything else in the background. Once the important things are done, you can get back to those secondary tasks. A good tool to help you organise your online resources is Pocket. It allows you to save everything you find online across all your devices – laptop, tablet, smartphone, etc. Batch tasks together Batching your tasks together will allow you to not only perform them quickly but also mindfully and time-effectively. The most successful entrepreneurs in the world use batching both in their professional and personal life. First, you’ll need to divide your tasks into categories according to skills and resources needed to finish them, as well as the logistics involved in each of them. Then it’s just a matter of combining the tasks together, so they can happen faster and without any additional effort. An example from personal life – when you go shopping, you also think what else can be done while being out – paying bills, taking clothes from the dry cleaners, etc. You just need to apply the same principle to your work.

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How to Launch a Start Up in Australia: 10 Tips to Get Your Start Up Started

1. Get Your Legal Affairs in Order Firstly you’ll need to decide what business structure you’ll have, whether a sole trader, partnership, company or trust. Secondly you’ll need to register an ABN (Australian Business Number), register a business name and trademark that name and potentially your product/s and service. Depending on the scale of your start up you may need to hire a lawyer (preferably a known start up lawyer) to make sure you have everything in order. 2. Money Matters To begin with you’ll need to set up at least a bank account in your companies name and from there keep an accurate and entirely up to date account of all of your finances. When the business begins to grow you may consider hiring an accountant or bookkeeper for this task. But make sure your business has all its finances and accounts in order right from the get go to make sure you won’t have any nasty surprises or difficulties later on. 3. What You Don’t Know CAN Hurt You Hopefully if you’re wanting to create your own start up, you’ve already realised that your start up needs to be in direct relation to your own skills and knowledge. You’ll need practical, industry-related experience in your start up field to succeed. A great plan and idea simply won’t cut it. If you don’t have the necessary experience, get it. Volunteer, do your research or get a senior role in your chosen field before progressing. If all else fails, bring on a co-founder with the necessary experience. 4. Technology Construction At the centre of all start ups you find the website, usually incorporating all required information and of course it’s usually the means for customers to purchase the company’s products and/or services. First you’ll need to purchase a domain name, a .com.au address is usually best as it lets Australian buyers know you’re local. Next you’ll need to host your website, you should spend some time researching what host will work best for you and your needs, whether requiring a simple static site or large ecommerce design. 5. Digital Designs If you don’t already possess great design skills, you’ll need to outsource a good designer to create a professional logo for your start up. You can also hire them to create images for your website, including headers, banners, buttons, social media icons, etc. They can also help you to create business cards, incorporating your branding and logo. If you haven’t already put together your website, your designer can create mock ups for you or your tech guru. 6. Blogging Begins After you’ve set up your main website you should set up a company blog. Blogging will help you gain potential customers and will show the world and of course search engines that you’re alive and well. You should start blogging as early as possible and write at least 2 posts per week with company news, industry goss, etc. This will keep your customers interested and updated and will help to bring new potential customers to your site through internet searches and links to posts. 7. Establish a Viral Component Your start up needs a viral component, that is, the spread of your service or product without relying solely on advertisements and promotions. A simple share button is great but shouldn’t be seen as your only viral service. An email company, for example, could have a line at the bottom of every email linking back to the company, meaning that every user becomes an active promoter of the service. 8. Test Marketing Before you truly commence your start up, you’ll need to do a lot of market research. You can test your market with services such as AYTM (Ask Your Target Market) to survey your target market and run a series of advertisements to establish the propositions and keywords that resonate with your potential customers. Now you’ll have the market research to integrate into your site for SEO purposes and initial leads. 9. Survey Your Customers Once your product or service starts to sell, survey your customers with services such as Google Forms or SurveyMonkey to learn more about your buyers, what drives them, what their interests are and what they did and didn’t like about your product and service. This will help you to create a better online service, functionality and of course product for your existing and future customers. 10. Start Up Success in Australia According to Google Australia and PwC, “The Australian tech startup sector has the potential to contribute $109 billion or 4% of GDP to the Australian economy and 540,000 jobs by 2033.” However, according to Dean McEvoy, the Entrepreneur behind Spreets, which was sold to Yahoo! For $40 Million, “Australia is not the best country in the world when it comes to government support for start ups, but just get on with things, its good enough. Be successful in spite of it.” 

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How to make closing a sale easier than ever

The dos and don’ts when offering your services to potential clients I’ve been looking for a great marketing consultant for a little while. The last two I met with didn’t work out. The conversations went well, but somehow at the end when they presented their service offering to me -- I immediately knew they weren’t the right fit. I politely told them I needed to think about it. I wasn’t lying, it’s just that I was 99%, not 100% sure they were the right fit. I didn’t think about it too much more until recently while I was helping some clients create products and packages in their business that would enable them to increase the average fee per client. My clients had the basic packages done which was great, and then it struck me that they had no idea HOW TO PRESENT it to their clients. This meant that at least one of these things inevitably happened at every sales meeting: They had to justify why their packages cost as much as they did (even though they were great value!) Potential clients would leave meetings with a lot of questions on how it would work and/or whether or not it was the right fit for them. Potential clients would ask to be sent a brochure or something they could take home. And then it hit me. That’s the experience I was getting with the marketing consultants I’d been speaking with.  It wasn’t necessarily that we weren’t the right fit, it’s just that the way they offered their services to me didn’t give me the experience that I was making the right choice in deciding to work with them! So many service providers are losing sales because of this challenge right at the end. In the Licence to Bill 12 Step Sales Process, each step is equally important. The offer process takes up 3 out of the 12 steps - meaning that it's a significant part of the process.  I’m going to share with you the basic idea so you can stop losing potential clients who would actually be a fit to work with you. When I do, you’ll realise it’s not about “closing the sale” as many sales people talk about. Rather, it’s about giving clients confidence and certainty. The “trusted formula” principle You’re all experts at what you do, and you’ve probably got a lot of experience doing it. That’s why so many of you say things in your bio like “I’ve got in excess of X years experience” or “I started in this industry X years ago”. But clients don’t really buy years of experience. Rather, they buy into what the years of experience have taught you. That is, they want to know “is there a tried and tested way of doing things that will help people like me create the outcome I want?” And most of you could answer YES to that question. Think about all the clients you’ve worked with through the years of experience you’ve had. There is a way you’re doing things that help clients achieve specific outcomes. The only thing you haven’t got is documentation on how you do it. And that’s exactly what clients want. This is the secret to a great offer process – the “trusted formula”. Think about the purchase you make – take baby formula, for example. You buy the brand with the trusted formula to help your child’s growth and development. Or just think more generally – would you buy from someone who tells they’ll fix your problems by seeing how they go, or from someone who has a 5 step process for solving your problem? Imagine if you could present your services to your clients in a way that showcases your trusted formula, created by simply putting onto paper everything that’s in your head.  By doing this, your clients will: Better understand what it is you’re proposing to do for them; Have confidence that you know what you’re doing; and Remember more of what you said about the service – when you help someone understand and give them confidence, the brain likes it! Actions for you to implement Choose one service that many clients buy Document the steps you take to help clients get the result they want Turn it into a simple “trusted formula” you can easily explain to clients – use the 30 second test (can I explain it in 30 seconds or less?)

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How to Not Be a Jerk if Your Business Fails

If your business venture fails, how would you cope? It depends of course on details and circumstance, but how do you see yourself handling it? Many small businesses and new ventures fail, and often quite soon after first opening their doors, so to speak. The high likelihood of this happening makes it pertinent to think about how you might cope with a loss. It's not what anyone wants to consider when planning their venture, or when you're actually doing it and running your own business. But the stats are not in your favour; you may have to try your hand at being a business owner a couple of times before it sticks. American Express report "Shop Small" showed that SMEs run a large risk of folding within five years of setting up shop.   It's not just you If you have staff it's definitely something you want to consider seriously. A failing business is a real blow to you, but if others have invested their time and money you owe them something in return. Or do you? Maybe you feel that this is all self-evident, and when you sign up for a job anywhere you do so with the implicit knowledge that it might not work out. But even if that's your view, it seems that some basic decency is still required. At the very least you owe them some honesty.   Dealing with your customers When Australian company My Baby Warehouse got in over their heads recently they quickly closed down all their social media accounts. Their Twitter and Facebook were abruptly silenced before they customers had a chance to comment, or even just to ask questions. Possibly this decision was made to put a halt to the already mounting pile of bad press about the company and its owners, Arora Group, but it could have been handled much better.   Some of the worst PR-disasters to ever hit any company anywhere have been successfully negated by the firm going out in front and facing their customers. Not just to apologise but to discuss, and to the extent possible, make amends. More than one study shows that customers care more about the response than the original issue. Consider the many examples of cars being recalled due to faults in the last five years or so, from minor issues to more severe ones. This doesn't seem to do much in the way of decreasing sales. Perhaps that's because in Australia the car companies have pre-empted any serious injuries, but it's also likely that consumers feel that there are enough government and consumer bodies watching out for their interests that they can relax. They are appeased by the effort and their trust in the company is strengthened rather than irreparably damaged.   How does the little guy cope? So how do you handle bad press when you're an SME? Large companies have the finance to fix issues and recoup their losses, but not everyone is fortunate in that way. You could hide from your customers or clients but you might be burning a lot bridges that way. A better tactic would be to take a leaf of the big companies' book and face the ones affected by your failure. You will undoubtedly get up again and have another go at running a business and you don't want to alienate people who might be useful to you. A failed business isn't the end of your career but it can be if you don't take some care to be gracious in defeat.  

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