tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:/feeds/all Flying Solo 2014-04-19T07:30:00+10:00 tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14629 2014-04-19T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-13T19:36:00+10:00 How to write sizzling sales emails <p>In the time it takes you to read this sentence, 20 million emails have been sent. Your sales email is probably one of them. Here’s four ways to get it noticed. </p><p>To write a sizzling email that resonates with the reader and grabs attention, follow these four simple tips.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Tip one: Stay laser focused on your reader</h2> <p>Remember, it’s about them, not you, so be sure that your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/email-newsletters/tips-for-better-email-marketing-campaign-results" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/email-newsletters/tips-for-better-email-marketing-campaign-results">email</a> communicates directly to your reader.</p> <p><em>Step by step guide </em></p> <ul> <li>Write your email.</li> <li>When you’ve finished, print it out and grab a red and blue pen.</li> <li>Highlight the following words in red: ‘me’, ‘I’, ‘my’, ‘our’ and ‘we’.</li> <li>Then highlight all the ‘you’ and ‘yours’ words in blue.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Is your page full of blue highlights? If so, congratulations, you’re connecting with your reader. If you have a lot of red highlights, you’re concentrating too much on yourself. Rewrite your email so that it focuses </span><a mce_style="font-size: 12px;" href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/its-about-your-clients-not-you" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/its-about-your-clients-not-you" style="font-size: 12px;">more on the customer and less on you.</a></p> <h2>Tip two: Personalise your emails</h2> <p>Emails are an effective way to communicate to hundreds or thousands of customers with just one message. However, that message needs to be personal.</p> <p><em>Step by step guide </em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Close your eyes and picture one of your best customers. Only one. Start writing your email to this <em>one</em> person. Be conversational and friendly without being overly familiar. And don’t be slack with grammar. <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/importance-of-proofreading" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/importance-of-proofreading">Bad writing isn’t okay! </a>&nbsp;People want to feel important – cater to that.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Tip three: Use your customers’ conversation style</h2> <p>Social media isn’t just a place to spread content, it’s also a great place to listen to conversations. If you use your customers’ exact phrasing, language and terminology, your emails will resonate with them so much more. Take the ‘you’ speak out, and put the ‘customer’ speak in.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Tip Four: Build trust</h2> <p>Before I write any sales email, I always pose the question: “What problem is this reader facing?” So instead of thinking about what I’ll gain from the email, I think about how I can assist the reader. This keeps me focused on a pure and genuine intention, and the reader is more likely to trust my overall message.</p> <p>Of course, the purpose of a sales email is to sell, so by all means ask for an order but start with the client’s problems first, and connect your solution to that problem.</p> <p>These simple email tips will help to increase your sales while also building trust.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your tips for writing a sizzling sales email?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Jenny Spring tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14637 2014-04-18T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-14T13:27:41+10:00 Your home office and capital gains tax <p>Do you work from home? With a growing number of home-based businesses, the tax office now has you on their radar, so know your capital gains tax.</p><h2>What is capital gains tax and why do you need to know about it?</h2> <p><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/capital-gains-tax-cgt-faqs" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/capital-gains-tax-cgt-faqs">Capital gains tax</a> is a tax payable when a gain is made on the sale of a capital asset, such as your home.&nbsp;</p> <p>Generally the sale of your home will be exempt from paying capital gains tax, unless your home was used to run a business.&nbsp; Where this is the case, the way you set up your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/working-from-home/working-from-home-cons-and-cures" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/working-from-home/working-from-home-cons-and-cures">home office</a> and claimed running and occupancy expenses will determine how much capital gains tax, if any, you’ll need to pay.<br /> <br /> If you run a business from home there are generally three ways you can claim a tax deduction for running and occupancy expenses</p><p><b><span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">1. &nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">You can use the ATO set rate of 34 cents per hour which covers gas, electricity and office furniture</span></b></p> <p>You would use this method where you don’t have a home office set aside exclusively for your business. You can be working from any room in the home as long as no other family member is using the room at the same time as you are. Under this method, occupancy expenses such as rates, water and interest on your mortgage will not be tax deductible and your home will generally not be subject to capital gains tax.</p> <p><strong>2.&nbsp;</strong><strong>Actual running costs</strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>If you don’t have a home office set aside exclusively for your business, instead of using the ATO rate of 34 cents you can work out the actual hourly cost of your electricity and gas in the room you’re working in. You will also be able to claim the actual cost of your office furniture.&nbsp;You won’t, however, be able to claim home occupancy expenses, and your home will generally not be subject to capital gains tax..</p><p><strong style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">3. </strong><strong style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">Claiming occupancy and running expenses&nbsp;using the floor area of your home</strong></p> <p>To use this method you must pass what’s called <strong>‘The Interest Deductibility Test'</strong>. To pass the interest deductibility test you must have part of your home set aside exclusively as a place of business and it must be clearly identifiable as such. You may then be able to claim occupancy expenses such as rates, water, interest on your mortgage, and rent based on the floor area of your home office. <br /> <br /> For running expenses such as electricity and gas you can use the floor area of your home office to make an estimate, or you can calculate the actual cost per hour.</p> <p>If you’re eligible to claim home occupancy expenses on a floor area basis, then a portion of your house will be subject to capital gains tax. But here’s the catch; many small business owners believe if they don’t claim any home occupancy expenses in their tax return they will avoid subjecting their family home to capital gains tax. Not true. Unfortunately if you pass the interest deductibility test the Tax Office can force you to pay capital gains tax regardless of the fact you haven’t claimed any expenses as a tax deduction.</p> <h2>If you run a business from home, consider the following points:</h2> <p>Get a valuation on your home as soon as you start using a separate room to run your business. Get another valuation when you stop using that room or you cease business. If you don't do this then the ATO will average out your capital gain over the period you owned your home, and this could result in you paying tax on a much larger capital gain.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Talk to your accountant. Find out how they are claiming your home office expenses. Discuss whether it's worth subjecting your house to capital gains or whether you may be better off sharing your home office with family, and claiming 34 cents per hour as a tax <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/tax-deduction-tips-for-home-based-businesses" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/tax-deduction-tips-for-home-based-businesses">deduction.</a>&nbsp;</li> <li>&nbsp;If using&nbsp;the&nbsp;floor area&nbsp;to claim your expenses,&nbsp;make sure it’s accurate and not just a guess. If the ATO come knocking they will expect to see exact measurements.&nbsp;</li> <li>Not everything revolves around tax. A separate area to run your business and shut yourself away is imperative for some people regardless of the fact that it may result in a capital gain.</li> </ul> <p>As you can see, capital gains tax is a comprehensive area, but if you know your ‘gains’ you’ll avoid a loss.</p><p> <strong><em>Do you have any capital gains tax tips? Share here.</em></strong></p> Jasmine Kidd tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14628 2014-04-17T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-17T10:19:17+10:00 Online stores: Avoid delivery dramas! <p>Online store owner? You can only satisfy customers if you efficiently and reliably deliver your products. Here are some tips to help you over- deliver.</p><p>Excellent delivery and fulfilment are crucial for online retailers. A great website, great products and great pricing can only make your customers happy to a point. If you can’t deliver seamlessly to their doors they’ll simply look elsewhere, and may <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/customer-reviews-rise-of-the-consumer-spruiker" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/customer-reviews-rise-of-the-consumer-spruiker">complain publicly</a> in the process.</p> <p>If tales of sloppy delivery become common, it could mean the death of your business, so keep these delivery tips in mind.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Overcome ‘Proximity Anxiety’</h2> <p>Australia is a big country so it’s important to find suppliers who deliver to both local and far flung places.</p> <p>Our business delivers large, bulky items to our customers’ door, and often the next day. But we have had our fair share of challenges delivering to remote places such as Nhulunbuy in Arnhem Land and Pannawonica in the Pilbara region in WA. The remotest place we’ve delivered to is an island in the Gulf of Carpentaria. It was a challenge, but we did it.</p> <h2> Give a good indication of delivery times </h2> <p>Australia is a geographically challenging market, so you may be reluctant to commit to or communicate delivery times in case you don’t meet them. However, if you’re vague about delivery times, people may not proceed with the order.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Avoid #fail with communication</h2> <p>When it comes to providing customers with important information, more is definitely more!</p> <p>For example, since the introduction of online delivery tracking services, customers expect to know the whereabouts of their parcel at all stages of transportation. Sure, there will be margins for error, but with so many channels of communications available, managing expectations is not difficult.</p> <p>If your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/three-tips-for-improving-your-business-communication" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/three-tips-for-improving-your-business-communication">customer communication</a> is limited or poor, this is regarded as poor customer service, which is bad for business.&nbsp;</p> <h2>How to improve online delivery and exceed customer expectations&nbsp;</h2><ul><li>Under-promise and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/the-cheats-guide-to-exceeding-expectations" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/the-cheats-guide-to-exceeding-expectations">over-deliver</a> rather than the other way around.</li> <li>Communicate well and be proactive about any delays. Text messages or emails are fast and efficient, and can even be automated, but nothing beats picking up the phone and giving an explanation.&nbsp;</li> <li>Ask customers to be specific about delivery instructions to avoid&nbsp; problems.</li> <li>Partner with a good supplier who you feel comfortable with; one that understands home delivery and online retailing. Not all courier companies focus on and understand the needs of the Business to Consumer (B2C) market.</li> <li>Eliminate headaches and save time by using a clear, accurate tracking service.</li> <li>Offer 'premium' delivery options that provide more flexibility or speed. People are often prepared to pay more, and this option may even add an intangible value or <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/finding-your-point-of-difference-without-competing-on-price" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/finding-your-point-of-difference-without-competing-on-price">point of difference</a> over your competitors.</li> <li>Don’t make excuses for poor communication, even if the customer shares the blame.</li> </ul> <p>Meeting customer expectations by over-delivering your promises is a crucial step in creating a successful and sustainable online store.</p><p> <strong><em>Is delivering your products a source of anxiety for you and your clients? How do you deal with delivery dramas?</em></strong></p> Matthew White tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14627 2014-04-16T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-16T10:20:42+10:00 Top ten attributes of a great soloist <p>Working as a soloist is rewarding but it can also be lonely and challenging. So how do you know if you’re solo-suited? Read on.</p><p>Have you always dreamt of going it alone? Although many people think about setting up their own business, not everyone can do it successfully. Here are ten attributes that I think make a great soloist.</p> <h2>1. Passion</h2> <p>Without a boss standing over you to make sure you meet your deadlines, how will you keep going? Working for yourself can be a thankless job, and without someone chaining you to your desk, chances are it’s <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-motivation/staying-motivated-when-starting-your-own-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-motivation/staying-motivated-when-starting-your-own-business">enthusiasm</a> that will keep you going through the long nights and weekends.</p> <h2>2. Diligence</h2> <p>A good work ethic is an essential part of successful soloism. Great soloists are the ones who can resist temptation to slacken off, no matter what’s happening on <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/time-efficient-social-media-management" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/time-efficient-social-media-management">Twitter!</a></p> <h2>3. Ability to multitask</h2> <p>As a soloist you will need to juggle multiple clients and deadlines while doing your own bookkeeping, marketing and admin support. It’s unlikely you will get the chance to focus on one thing at a time, so you need to be good at <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/multitasking-good-or-bad-for-productivity" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/multitasking-good-or-bad-for-productivity">multitasking.</a></p> <h2>4. Laser-sharp focus</h2> <p>Distractions are all too common when you are a soloist, particularly if you work from home. The ability to focus on a task and block out the lure of the fridge, laundry pile and Facebook will most likely mean the difference between a thriving solo enterprise and one that collapses in a heap.</p> <h2>5. Versatility&nbsp;&nbsp;</h2> <p>As a soloist you’ll probably have to take on jobs that would normally be given to different departments: accounts, invoicing, marketing, customer service and just about everything else. So it pays to be versatile.</p> <h2>6. Self-motivation&nbsp;</h2> <p>A successful soloist knows they need to be proactive even when the work isn’t flooding in. Nobody else is going to make you work, so you need to be self-motivated.</p> <h2>7. Ability to learn fast</h2> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">There is no soloist training program and you’ll likely be taking on roles you’ve never done before, so you need to pick up new skills quickly in order to hit the ground running.</span></p> <h2>8. Ability to keep things in perspective</h2> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">As a soloist there is no time to sweat the small stuff. A sense of perspective is essential, along with a sense of humour.</span></p> <h2>9. Collaboration skills</h2> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Although you will be taking on a lot yourself, chances are you won’t be able to do everything. Being able to collaborate effectively is essential to avoid </span><a style="font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-size: 12px;" href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-plan-tips-avoiding-business-burnout" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-plan-tips-avoiding-business-burnout">burnout.</a></p> <h2>10. Good understanding of business</h2> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Having a solid understanding of business and how the commercial world works is important. You will be more respected and appear more professional if you can approach things from a commercial perspective.</span></p> <p>Being a great soloist takes more than an inspired idea and an internet connection. Hopefully these attributes have helped you to discover whether you’re cut out for soloism.</p> <p><i><b>Do</b></i><b style="font-style: italic;"> you agree with these top ten attributes? Would you add some more?</b></p> Jo Macdermott tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14633 2014-04-15T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-16T15:39:32+10:00 Dear Business, we need to talk about ‘us’ <p>We've shared some incredible times, you and I. What a rollercoaster! But – and I know you’ve noticed too – things have changed. We need to talk.</p><p>I remember dreaming about you before I even knew your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-branding/my-business-name-blooper" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-branding/my-business-name-blooper">name</a>. I’d talk endlessly about you to my friends, hoping that maybe one day we would get our act together.</p> <p>After the introductions, I’d spend Sunday mornings lounging in cafés doodling your name. Making plans for what we’d be together.</p> <p>We were so young. Bursting with potential. It was so exciting!</p> <p>Do you remember when we made it official? I’ve still got the certificate. It was on my third bedroom wall for a while. I’ve even kept a folder documenting our time together – plans, friends, receipts, long-forgotten events, activity statements! Did you know that?</p> <p>I still love you madly, of course I do. But you’ve changed. Or I’ve changed. Or both.</p> <p>You used to wake me up early with coffee and a smile. Now you often shake me awake in the dead of night waving forecasts, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/tax-invoices-too-taxing" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/tax-invoices-too-taxing">invoices</a> and showing me ‘new techy stuff’.</p> <p>I used to love our fun little chats. It was a thrill to hear from you. Now we seem to have an obsession with staying in touch – calls, bills, invitations, texts, emails…dozens every day, even on weekends. Where’s the mystery gone? Are we both a little too needy?</p> <p>You <em>know</em> I wouldn’t do anything to hurt you. But sometimes I sneak a peak at the lean little startups in the co-working hub next door. Shiny eyes peering over glossy Macbooks. Tom Ford eyewear. Eight hours sleep. Global apps. Yoga mats. Responsive design. Mint-coloured bicycles.</p> <p>It reminded me so much of you, of us, of what we thought we wanted. Don’t worry, I know it’s not us. But do you ever, even fleetingly, wonder what it might be like to register a brand new domain name up north somewhere and start from scratch?</p> <p>We’ve built this beautiful life together now – it’s different, yet also way bigger and better than we could have ever imagined. It makes me realise that we’ve got so much more to lose these days. But it can be bloody hard work.</p> <p>Of course it’s not just you. I admit, I sometimes don’t give you the attention you need. I don’t listen when things need to change. I take you for granted. I get distracted with busyness and lose sight of the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/business-plans/business-vision-remember-your-big-picture" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/business-plans/business-vision-remember-your-big-picture">big picture</a>.</p> <p>Maybe you deserve someone braver, smarter and more experienced to let you reach your full potential. Are we still right for each other?</p> <p>I definitely think we are, and I just know we’ll work this out…if that’s what you want to do.</p> <p>Right now I want to run off into the sunset with the business I fell in love with all those years ago.</p> <p>How about we get away somewhere, just you and me? We can dream up a bold new future. Relight the fire.</p> <p>I’ll be back on Monday, let’s chat then. <em>Let me know what you’re thinking.</em></p> <p>Love always xxoo<br /> Pete</p> <p>PS: There's some Pad Thai in the fridge for you :) &nbsp;Don’t forget to put the bins out!</p> Peter Crocker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14574 2014-04-14T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-11T12:37:49+10:00 Flying Solo Meetups have a new home! <p>We're excited to announce our meetups are now live at Meetup.com/FlyingSoloAU, where it's easy to start, manage and join a group.</p><p><br /></p><h4><span style="font-weight: normal;" mce_style="font-weight: normal;">Learn more and join in at&nbsp;<a href="http://www.meetup.com/flyingsoloau/" mce_href="http://www.meetup.com/flyingsoloau/" target="_blank">www.meetup.com/flyingsoloau/</a></span></h4> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14601 2014-04-13T07:30:00+10:00 2014-03-20T10:44:28+11:00 Podcast: A $60M business in two years <p>Health.com.au is the first health insurance company to enter the Australian market in more than 36 years. Tim Ried chats with this start-up’s founder and CEO Andy Sheats about how his team built a $60M business in the space of two years.</p><p>Andy Sheats reveals the importance of a one word domain name and branding for your business, hiring staff who can empathise with your customers, and how to cut through in a crowded market.</p> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">In this episode of </span><a href="http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-podcast-174/" mce_href="http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-podcast-174/" style="font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-size: 12px;">Small Business Big Marketing podcast</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">, you'll discover:</span></p> <ul> <li>Why small businesses can’t (and shouldn’t try to) build branding over many years in the way that a company like Apple or Amazon might.</li> <li>What makes people choose and, more importantly, stay with a particular brand.</li> <li>What agile methodology is and how it can help your business processes.</li> <li>How to build a strong culture around what your brand stands for.</li> <li>Understanding where your customer is in the buying cycle and customising their online experience around their attitude.</li> <li>How a one word domain name could be a gold mine.</li> <li>Telling your business story in a way that your customers can relate to.</li> <li>How a crowded market is actually a GOOD sign.</li> </ul><p> <strong>PLUS,</strong>&nbsp;Tim's five tips on how not to sound like a schmuck when describing what you have to offer your clients customers.</p> <p><strong>About these podcasts: </strong>The <em>Small Business, Big Marketing</em>&nbsp;podcasts are characterised by plenty of chit chat from Tim who'll typically kick off with nuggets of advice and tell shaggy dog stories before diving in to the episode's topic. Sit back, relax and enjoy!&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Duration:</strong>&nbsp;48:29 minutes&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Links to resources mentioned in the show:</strong>&nbsp;<a href="http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-podcast-174/" mce_href="http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-podcast-174/">http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/marketing-podcast-174/</a>&nbsp;</p> <p>To subscribe to this show in iTunes, please head <a href="http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/itunes" mce_href="http://smallbusinessbigmarketing.com/itunes" target="_blank">here</a>.</p> Tim Reid tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14626 2014-04-12T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-13T19:32:17+10:00 Four easy ways to get client feedback <p>What do your clients think of your business? If you don’t know, it’s time to get some feedback. Here are four easy (and free) ways to do just that. </p><h2>Take a tip from the tax department</h2> <p>Apparently the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) is feeling unloved or unappreciated, so they’re spending $350,000 to find out what businesses think of them.</p> <p>Like all good <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/using-surveys/customer-feedback-ten-steps-to-great-survey-design" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/using-surveys/customer-feedback-ten-steps-to-great-survey-design">surveys,</a> the sample is already selected, so those of you who want to express your opinions – bad luck! Hopefully the chosen few will be able to identify the key issues and frustrations of dealing with them.</p> <p>Although you may not have the same budget as the ATO, you can still find out what your clients think. Here are four easy ways that won’t cost you a cent.</p> <h2>1. Talk to your clients</h2> <p>This sounds obvious and I would hope you’re already doing it, but talking to your clients in a structured way will increase the value of their feedback. By <br /> routinely asking for their views, you can take action on the negative feedback and keep improving on the positive. In some cases, you may be able to save client relationships before they’re irreparably damaged.&nbsp;</p> <h2>2. Conduct a survey</h2> <p>I know that typical response rates are low for surveys, so the practicality of conducting one may be suspect. Nevertheless, if you make it easy for people to respond to your short, simple questions you will improve response rates.</p> <p>According to research, the following question is a reliable indicator of customer satisfaction: “On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our business to your friends and family?”</p> <h2>3. Encourage complaints</h2> <p>Maintaining an <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/selective-hearing-getting-feedback" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/selective-hearing-getting-feedback">open process</a> for your customers to voice their frustrations and, more importantly, fixing their problems will enhance your reputation.</p> <p>If a dissatisfied customer doesn’t give you the opportunity to fix the problem, chances are you’ve lost that customer and possibly many more.</p> <h2>4. Monitor social media</h2> <p>We can’t ignore it! These days social media provide an opportunity for everyone to contribute opinions, so you need to be aware of what is being said, and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/responding-to-negative-feedback-online" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/responding-to-negative-feedback-online">respond appropriately</a>. While you may think some opinions are misguided at best, you simply can’t stick your head in the sand.</p> <p>Being aware of your market’s perception of your business will pay dividends for you. Maybe we should offer to set up a Facebook page for the ATO and charge $350,000?</p><p> <strong><em>How do you seek out customer feedback? And what are your clients saying about you?</em></strong></p> Sarah-Joy Pierce and Allan Johnson tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14625 2014-04-11T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-14T11:35:35+10:00 Cloud accounting apps that rock <p>Cloud accounting apps for Xero can be accessed and modified from any internet-enabled device. Let’s look at some of the best.</p><h2>The benefits of cloud accounting apps</h2> <p>I recently highlighted the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/cloud-technology/benefits-of-cloud-based-accounting-packages" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/cloud-technology/benefits-of-cloud-based-accounting-packages">unique advantage Xero has over its competitors</a>,&nbsp;particularly as they’re the only providers that have designed a platform which seamlessly integrates with third party applications (apps).</p> <p>The benefit of this integration is that it give you access to over 300 real-time business software products and apps, many of which were previously only the domain of large companies with huge IT budgets.</p> <p>These apps mean that you have an easier way to tackle arduous tasks such as inventory, payroll, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/business-invoicing-steps-to-avoid-bad-debts" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/business-invoicing-steps-to-avoid-bad-debts">invoicing</a> and reporting. They can be incorporated into your individual Xero installation design, creating a streamlined accounting system for your business.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The short-list of apps (also known as add-ons)</h2> <p>At first glance the library of cloud accounting apps/add-ons can be overwhelming, so with this in mind I have created a short-list of my favourites. They’re also the ones my clients ask me about the most.</p> <p><strong>Add-on: </strong>Receipt Bank<strong>&nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</strong></p> <p><strong>Benefit: </strong>&nbsp;Less data entry</p> <p>This app eliminates the need to enter supplier invoices into your system. Copies of your invoices are submitted to Receipt Bank by email or iPhone app, which then creates the corresponding transaction in Xero, and attaches a copy of the invoice. All you need to do is approve the expense allocation.</p><p><img mce_src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting1.thumbnail.310x210.jpg" src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting1.thumbnail.310x210.jpg" width="309" height="209"><br /></p> <p><br /></p><p><strong style="font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-size: 12px;">Add-on: </strong><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">Vend &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</span></p> <p><strong>Benefit</strong>: Real-time sales and inventory data</p> <p>This cloud-based platform enables retailers to accept payments and manage inventories in real-time. Simple to set up, it works with a wide range of point-of-sale devices and all internet-enabled devices. It also records daily sale totals automatically in Xero, ready for bank reconciliation.</p><p><br /></p><p><img mce_src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting2.thumbnail.369x171.jpg" src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting2.thumbnail.369x171.jpg" width="368" height="171"><br /></p> <p><br /></p><p><strong>Add-on: </strong>Float &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Benefit: </strong>Flexible, real-time forecasting</p> <p>This simple cash flow forecasting and budgeting tool automatically syncs with Xero, keeping your forecast up to date and business projections consistently accurate. It enables you to forecast different financial scenarios and understand the potential impact of issues like seasonality and capital outlay.</p><p><br /></p><p><img mce_src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting3.thumbnail.352x227.jpg" src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting3.thumbnail.352x227.jpg" width="352" height="226"><br /></p> <p><br /></p><p><strong>Add-on: </strong>Workflow Max &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Benefit: </strong>&nbsp;Better productivity and profitability measures</p> <p>This application allows you to track time, manage jobs, create quotes, purchase orders and invoices. Advanced reporting capabilities measure how well you are meeting <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/prioritising-taks-stayin-alive-on-deadline" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/prioritising-taks-stayin-alive-on-deadline">deadlines,</a> productivity objectives and more importantly, how much money you are making on each job.</p><p><br /></p><p><img mce_src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting4.thumbnail.293x181.jpg" src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting4.thumbnail.293x181.jpg" width="293" height="181"><br /></p> <p><br /></p><p><strong>Add-on: </strong>Quotient &nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Benefit: </strong>Integrated quoting and invoicing</p> <p>This application allows you to create a quote which, once accepted by your customer (with the click of a button), prompts Xero to generate an invoice. It also creates a permanent link back to your quote for future reference.</p><p><br /></p><p><img mce_src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting5.thumbnail.319x222.jpg" src="/uploads/Article Specific/cloud accounting5.thumbnail.319x222.jpg" width="318" height="222"><br /></p> <p><br /></p><p>Whilst the benefits of these and the other add-ons are numerous, ultimately it is their ability to deliver a flexible, efficient and user-friendly accounting system that will give you more time to focus on your business.</p> <p><strong><em>What are your favourite invoicing apps and add-ons?</em></strong></p> Craig Jackson tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14576 2014-04-10T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-13T19:30:43+10:00 Hiring contractors: Four questions to ask <p>Need to hire a contractor? There are four questions you need to ask first. Find out what they are; as well as what to include in a contractor’s agreement.</p><h2>Question 1: Are there rules for hiring a contractor?</h2> <p>Yes! Both the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and the Fair Work Ombudsmen have guidelines to help you understand when your contractor may be considered an employee.</p> <p>It’s important to know what these rules are, otherwise, if you have contractors who are deemed to be employees, you could end up with a nasty bill in back taxes and employee benefits.</p> <p>There is also a <a href="http://www.ato.gov.au/calculators-and-tools/record-keeping-evaluation/" mce_href="http://www.ato.gov.au/calculators-and-tools/record-keeping-evaluation/">Decision Tool on the ATO website</a> that helps you to determine whether an individual would be considered an employee or contractor. It generates a report that you can keep on file for your records. But remember, this is not definitive for any argument with the ATO.</p> <h2>Question 2: What if my contractor ends up being deemed an employee?</h2> <p>It can be expensive! There are a number of consequences if the contractor is properly classifiable as an employee. You’ll be assessed to pay: taxes (PAYG, Payroll etc.), <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/government/employing-people-taxation-and-superannuation-obligations/employing-people-superannuation" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/government/employing-people-taxation-and-superannuation-obligations/employing-people-superannuation">superannuation,</a> sick and annual leave entitlements, and insurances for the period they worked for you. In some cases, where you may be seen to be intentionally avoiding hiring an employee, Fair Work inspectors can also seek penalties.</p> <h2>Question 3: How do I ensure I hire a contractor not an employee?</h2> <p>There is no fixed test or set rules to decide if a worker is properly classified as an employee or contractor. Just because you call someone an independent <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/government/independent-contractors/how-do-i-know-if-i-am-an-independent-contractor" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/government/independent-contractors/how-do-i-know-if-i-am-an-independent-contractor">contractor</a> doesn’t mean the ATO considers them as such.</p> <p>However, some factors can help to guide you:</p> <ol> <li><em>Invoicing and Tax.</em> Contractors invoice for their services, pay their own superannuation and tax.</li> <li><em>Contract term is for a fixed project or timeframe</em>. A contractor is contracted and paid for a set project or time period, not paid hourly.</li> <li><em>Control of working conditions.</em> A contractor may decide their hours and working conditions, i.e. when they work, how long they work and where they work.</li> <li><em>No Leave Payments.</em> Contractors do not get paid holiday or sick leave.</li> <li><em>Risk and Responsibility.</em> Contractors can decide what work they do, carry the risk for defect in their work, have their own insurance and control the performance of the work.</li> <li><em>Skills and Tools.</em> Contractors normally have specialised skills, organise their own training and provide the tools necessary to perform the work. </li> <li><em>Delegation of work. </em>Contractors can delegate their work to other colleagues or sub-contract to a third party, and are responsible for the output if they do. </li> <li><em>No Exclusivity.&nbsp; </em>Contractors can work for other companies and businesses, not exclusively for you.</li> </ol> <h2>Question 4: What else can go wrong when I hire a contractor?</h2> <p>If you have decided to hire a contractor, there are still a few things to consider. You are exposing your business to a new person who will have access to your business, that’s a huge risk. So you need to ensure you <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/office-admin/subcontractor-agreements-contracts-for-sub-contractors" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/office-admin/subcontractor-agreements-contracts-for-sub-contractors">protect your business.</a></p> <h3>Three things you need to include in your Contractor Agreement:</h3> <ul> <li><em>Confidentiality is key <br /> </em>If you hire a contractor, ensure you have a good confidentiality clause to cover your client list, the work they’re doing, and the information they come in contact with or have access to.<br /><br /></li> <li><em>Ownership of work</em> <br /> Make sure it’s clear in your contract that you own <strong>all </strong>the work they do for you, including the software code, the website, and all intellectual property developed during the project.<br /><br /></li> <li><em>Clear timelines</em>: <br /> Have clear and defined timelines, payment terms and expectations. This will help ensure a good working relationship and outcome.</li> </ul> <p>Once you have sorted out the contractor arrangement, the agreement and the understanding, you can move on and grow your business. Best of luck!</p> <p><strong><em>What has been your experience when hiring contractors?</em></strong></p> Vanessa Emilio tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14617 2014-04-09T08:30:00+10:00 2014-04-13T19:29:51+10:00 Business Survival: How to adapt to change <p>Having run my own business for 25 years, I’ve had to adapt to change in order to remain competitive. Here’s how I did it. </p><p>At first, like many others, I was reluctant to change. The business was going well and we were making a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/boost-business-by-managing-your-profit-margins" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/boost-business-by-managing-your-profit-margins">profit</a>, so I was thinking along the lines of the late Bert Lance: “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.”</p> <p>However, as time went on I realised that day-to-day business operations weren’t the same, and it was harder to adapt to changes within my business industry.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Understand change and be aware of your current situation</h2> <p>Flexibility and a willingness to embrace change is the first step to successfully adapting to change. The world of technology and business competition constantly force you to reevaluate your business operations.</p> <p>I have found that in today’s economy everything changes faster: supply, demand, product and service prices, inventory, investment, employment and interest rates.</p> <p>The Global Financial Crisis of 2009 is a great example. Whilst the effect of the crisis on Australia was considerably less than in many other countries, it required businesses and individuals to assess their current situation and understand the changes that were happening in the economy.</p> <p>Growth slowed to around half a percent and the unemployment rate rose. As a result, I had to reevaluate the current position of my business situation and establish a sense of urgency to adapt to the change in the economy.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Know your market</h2> <p>As your clients grow older their needs and wants change, so you need to be able to anticipate and prepare for these changes.</p> <p>Developing a healthy business relationship with clients is invaluable for many reasons; most notably that we’re able to act on the provision of services in terms of quality, cost and reliability.</p> <p>As a chartered accountant and lawyer, my job is to provide services to clients. To do this, I need to understand my clients’ needs and then go out of my way to fulfil them.</p> <h2>Keep learning and build up your skill base</h2> <p>I can’t stress the importance of continued learning and skill building. Sign up to online blogs, attend seminars and broaden your reading. To be prepared to deal with change successfully, it is important to build as many skills as possible so you are well educated with adapting to change. Hearing and reading other people’s ideas and points of view really helped me in dealing with change.</p> <p>Remember that change is a process and does not happen overnight. Taking shortcuts may be of benefit in the short-term but never produces a satisfying result in the long-term.</p> <h2>Change is good</h2> <p>My experience has shown me that whilst change creates many <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/problem-solving/the-solution-to-small-business-challenges" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/problem-solving/the-solution-to-small-business-challenges">challenges,</a> it also opens up a whole new world of <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/attracting-new-business/evaluating-potential-business-opportunities" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/attracting-new-business/evaluating-potential-business-opportunities">opportunities.</a> Each person will adapt to change differently depending on their business industry; just be sure to prepare for the change beforehand, and take action.</p> <p><strong><em>How do you prepare for change?</em></strong></p> Michael Quinn tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14575 2014-04-08T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-07T11:47:56+10:00 Confession: Why it’s not easy being me <p>This year I made a commitment to be me. Strangely enough, it’s one of the most difficult challenges I've faced since starting my business. Here’s why.</p><p>When I talk face-to-face with my clients I’m completely myself, but for some reason when I correspond with them, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/does-your-business-sound-like-an-idiot" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/does-your-business-sound-like-an-idiot">I become formal</a>. I've thought about this, a lot, and I've come up with the following <strike>excuses</strike> ummm reasons.</p> <h2>It's not my fault, it's how I've been trained. I’m a scientist.</h2> <p>I'm a scientist, and as a result I trained for many years to improve my analytical skills and ability to interpret data without bias. Yep, that's how I roll.</p> <p>As a forensic scientist my writing also had to be 100 per cent accurate in case it was relied upon as evidence in court. So as you can imagine, there wasn't much scope for injecting my sparkling personality into notes on blood swabs.</p> <p>I've been trained for almost 20 years to report the facts. It's a hard habit to break.</p> <h2>I'm a chicken</h2> <p>The written word is kind of permanent. The broadcasting effect of the internet takes it to a whole other level. What if I write something stupid? What if I ruin the reputation of my business? There are plenty of ‘what ifs’.</p> <p>Instead of just writing naturally I've become so paralysed by the fear of stuffing up, that my writing is so beige, making it impossible for my personality to shine through. Yes, I need to start taking risks, one grammatically incorrect sentence at a time.</p> <h2>I want to be liked</h2> <p>I care what people think, my family, my friends and people I haven't even met. I worry that if I’m myself, people won't like me. Funny thing though, since I started being more myself on Twitter, I'm getting more interaction. Who'd have thought?</p> <h2>I don't want to show weakness</h2> <p>I'm working really hard to establish myself as an authority in my area of specialisation. For some reason I’ve decided this means I need to appear that I have all the answers, which is rubbish – no one has all of the answers.</p> <p>I don't pretend to have all the answers in person, but when I correspond, I don't want to admit to any lack of knowledge, no matter how minor. This article is one big confession of weakness, so I'm ripping off the band-aid!</p> <h2>Surely my clients will want me to be serious?</h2> <p>&nbsp;I have two main client groups: people from small business and people from scientific facilities.</p> <p>While initially these groups seem quite different, they have one important thing in common – they are all people. People who are sick of reading the same boring copy and hearing the same bland promises. People who wouldn't mind a laugh. So I have to remind myself that as long as my copy or article contains useful information, it's okay to switch off formality in favour of being me. I'm currently working on a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/uniqueness-your-websites-secret-weapon" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/uniqueness-your-websites-secret-weapon">revamp of my website</a> to reflect this.</p> <h2>Thinking that I'll never be as good as other writers </h2> <p>I'll write an article, slowly revealing a skerrick of personality (baby steps), I’ll be so proud and look forward to my publishing date, only to find that my article fades into obscurity between <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/member/54640" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/member/54640">Kate Toon</a> and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/member/12" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/member/12">Robert Gerrish’s</a> articles. Uurgggh! It's alright, I now concentrate firmly on my articles, my writing, and my improvement – and I love the satisfaction I get from writing.</p> <p>So that's why it’s so difficult to be me.</p> <p>However, I’ve resolved to change. This year you will see the <em>real</em> me.</p><p> <strong><em>Do you find it difficult being yourself? How have you overcome this?</em></strong></p> Mary Gardam tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14624 2014-04-06T07:30:00+10:00 2014-04-03T11:07:03+11:00 Podcast - The 30 min quarterly review <p>As we hurtle past the first quarter of 2014, Robert suggests we pause and ask ourselves three questions. And as a bonus, he shares three from Harvard researchers.</p><p><br /></p> <h4>Listen to the&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/coachingcouch" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/coachingcouch" target="_blank">Coaching Couch Podcast</a>.</h4> <p><br /></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14616 2014-04-05T07:30:00+11:00 2014-03-19T12:43:10+11:00 Biz Growth: Solo to micro without headaches <p>If you’re going it alone but getting busier, there are cost effective ways to bring on help. Let’s look at the options available to you.</p><h2>1. Volunteers</h2> <p>When I first started my business, one of my friends volunteered her time to help get my business off the ground. She is now a paid employee. At the start I didn't have money for salaries – not even my own.</p> <p>Taking on volunteers is a great way to kick start your business, and friends and family are usually happy to help. However, be aware that you are still legally required to provide a safe place of work for them.</p> <h2>2. Temporary employees</h2> <p>Temporary employees are usually <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/hiring-tips-for-soloists-and-micro-business-owners" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/hiring-tips-for-soloists-and-micro-business-owners">hired</a> through a recruitment agency for tasks such as reception, finance or administration. You typically pay a marked up rate of between 30 to 50 per cent on their hourly rate, but the advantage is quick access to skilled individuals who start and stop work as required. You only pay for what you use.</p> <h2>3. Elance or oDesk</h2> <p>The world is getting smaller and it is much easier to get tasks such as <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/creating-effective-powerpoint-presentations" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-writing/creating-effective-powerpoint-presentations">PowerPoint presentations</a>, video editing or even copywriting done in the virtual world. You still need to read reviews and supply carefully-prepared briefs, but this type of resourcing is growing, and fast. It enables you to get work done at a much cheaper rate than you’d pay in Australia.</p> <h2>4. Independent Contractors</h2> <p>Independent contractors are usually brought in for a set piece of work, but remember, these individuals are not <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/employee-awards-what-you-need-to-know" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/employee-awards-what-you-need-to-know">employees</a> and are legally able to outsource your work to one of their team members or even externally. You are paying for an outcome not <em>how </em>the work is completed.</p> <h2>5. Part-time permanent</h2> <p>I believe that there is generally a negative feeling about part-time employees, with some people thinking that it’s more hassle than it’s worth. I disagree. Depending on your business, having a part-time employee enables you to tap into skills that may otherwise opt you out of the market.</p> <h2>6. Full-time fixed term</h2> <p>Full-time fixed term gives you the ability to bring on someone with all the benefits of a permanent role, but with a contract end date. For example, if you’re not sure that you can fund someone long term, simply offer a six month contract at which point the contract expires, or you extend with another fixed term or a permanent role.</p> <p>Growing solo can be tough, but these options may help you grow faster while keeping your sanity! Remember, think about your workforce mix – it is not restricted to only permanent, full-time employees.</p> <p><strong><em>Do you hire employees or outsource work? Share your experiences here.</em></strong></p> Natasha Hawker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14615 2014-04-04T07:30:00+11:00 2014-03-18T17:36:46+11:00 Need more business? Look to your lovers <p>The people who have supported me the most are the people who already know and love me. Your strongest advocates are close at hand, stay in touch with them.</p><p>Your strongest advocates are:</p> <h2>1. Past clients</h2> <p>This group of people know and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/the-one-thing-customers-will-always-love-you-for" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/customer-service/the-one-thing-customers-will-always-love-you-for">love you so much</a> that they paid you to work on their business. Past clients are not just a source of future work, they’re also a source of business development.</p> <p>If they’ve moved to the next level, then continuing to work with them means you’re expanding your offerings. They may need your advice more than ever. Call them. Ask what their recent challenges have been and offer a free Skype session.</p> <h2>2. Allied industry referrers</h2> <p>This group of people send you paying customers. Do you regularly talk to current and past <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/attracting-new-business/generating-word-of-mouth-referrals" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/attracting-new-business/generating-word-of-mouth-referrals">referrers</a> or just presume the referrals will keep coming?</p> <p>Send them a thank you note for their support. Offer an advice session just for them. Let them know where you are at right now, because your business is developing all the time.</p> <h2>3. Friends</h2> <p>I can’t count how many friends have become referrers. Friends know and love you so much they find themselves telling others about you. Give your friends the option of being in your communication and connection loop and always be ready to offer support when they need your expert (or personal) advice.</p> <h2>4. People who knew you in past lives</h2> <p>No, I don’t mean when you were Cleopatra! These are the people you worked with in years gone by. Perhaps you raced against the clock to pull a project together or suffered under the same boss. Nobody worked more closely with you in your formative years than these people. What are they doing now? Would they like to know about what you’re up to? You’ll have no idea unless you get back in touch.</p> <h2>5. Your Mum and Dad</h2> <p>I hope you have a fatherly or motherly presence, if not your actual parents, cheering you on. My mum champions my every post on Facebook. She’s my number one fan and always ‘likes’ my posts…so does her best friend, who I call Aunty Liz.</p> <p>It’s different with my dad. We have a tradition of monthly sushi. At over 70 years old he still travels overseas for business. Here’s how his sushi check-in typically goes: “How’s business Kate? Are you busy? Good, let’s eat.” The support and concern of my mum and dad means a lot.</p> <p>Iggy Pintado suggests in his book <em>The Connection Generation</em>, it’s our task to discover which are the best <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/how-to-communicate-effectively-using-technology" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/how-to-communicate-effectively-using-technology">communication</a> channels for each person, and to keep in touch with them.</p> <p>I agree, these days you have every opportunity, reason and method to stay connected to your biggest advocates.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>Who are your strongest advocates?</em></strong></p> Katie McMurray tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14614 2014-04-03T07:30:00+11:00 2014-03-19T12:41:31+11:00 What successful people do in the morning <p>Using the mornings to get more done could be the key to success. Here’s what successful people do at the start of each day. </p><h2>Wake up early</h2> <p>One of the most common traits of a successful person’s daily routine is <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-styles/benefits-early-riser-night-owl-to-early-bird" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-styles/benefits-early-riser-night-owl-to-early-bird">rising early.</a> By the time the average worker sits at his or her desk at 9am, many successful people have already accomplished personal <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/setting-business-goals/setting-goals-for-success" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/setting-business-goals/setting-goals-for-success">goals.</a></p> <p>It may not come naturally to you, but getting out of bed before (or at least by) 6am offers a fresh supply of willpower, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-psychology/are-you-an-optimist-pessimist-or-realist" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/business-psychology/are-you-an-optimist-pessimist-or-realist">optimism</a> and restfulness.</p> <p>Once you build habits into your morning routine, you’ll find everything else falls into place.</p> <p>One prerequisite for rising early is having a good sleep the night before, so try to get enough sleep in order to wake refreshed.</p> <h2>Exercise</h2> <p>Exercising at any time of the day is a good thing, but exercising in the morning has so many benefits: it reduces stress, provides an endorphin rush and energy burst, improves sleep, and gives you a great feeling of accomplishment before you even hit your home office.</p> <p>Find the exercise that’s right for you, be it yoga, running, Pilates, lifting weights, doing a gym class or a combination of them all. Whatever exercise you choose, just make sure you stick with it.</p> <h2>Eat a healthy breakfast</h2> <p>Ask any CEO or senior leader how he or she starts the day and most will report that eating a healthy breakfast is high on the list. Fuelling your body with nutritious food pays dividends throughout the day. Your attention is more focused, your energy levels remain high and you’re more likely to choose healthy foods for lunch and dinner. Eating breakfast also kick-starts your metabolism.</p> <h2>Read the news</h2> <p>Catching up on the current state of affairs before the day begins is a common activity for successful people. It’s important to know what’s going on in the world, to keep your knowledge up to date and to get your brain into gear for the day.</p> <p>Whether it’s sitting at the breakfast table reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, checking blogs or scanning LinkedIn and Twitter from smartphones, most successful people have a pre-work ritual for staying across the latest headlines.</p> <h2>Plan your day</h2> <p>Use the morning quiet time to map out your schedule for the day. Leaders may have assistants to do this for them, but there’s no reason why you can’t do this for yourself. If you have not properly prioritised your to-do list, or there are problems that need solving, schedule in time to complete these important tasks.</p> <p>And don’t forget about your mental health. Taking time out brings perspective and renewed vigour to the rest of the day, so go for a quick coffee with a friend or a walk around the block.</p> <h2>Connect with loved ones</h2> <p>For successful people, the mornings offer a precious opportunity to connect with their families, especially if they arrive home late and feeling tired.</p> <p>Capitalise on the mornings by reading to your children, chatting to your partner, cooking breakfast together, planning school projects and so on. It might only be for 30 minutes, but it can be the most cherished time of the day.</p> <h2>Meditate</h2> <p>Successful people meditate because they need time to disconnect from any mounting pressures.</p> <p>Meditation is an opportunity to calm your mind, focus your thoughts and practise deflecting all the distracting inner talk. People who meditate report feeling calm and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/live-a-healthy-lifestyle-and-reduce-stress" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/live-a-healthy-lifestyle-and-reduce-stress">less stressed</a>, with a heightened sense of awareness.</p> <p>Every hour is not created equally, so use the energised morning time to do your best work.</p> <p><strong><em>What do you do in the mornings? Do you agree that mornings are the best time of the day to achieve your goals?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Andrew Morris tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14586 2014-04-02T07:30:00+11:00 2014-04-10T13:11:12+10:00 Two solopreneurs in one family - Good or bad? <p>My husband and I are both solopreneurs and both work at home in the same little office. So is this a recipe for marital bliss or a marriage breakdown? </p><p>My husband took the leap first. After years of living a rather hippy lifestyle he arrived in Australia (to be with lovely me) without a job or any real career plan. So he bravely decided to start his own French tuition business and seven years later it’s going great guns.</p> <p>Then four years ago, when I got pregnant, I knew that I’d have to make a choice. If I actually wanted to spend time with my baby I’d have to give up my high-flying career running digital agencies and find something else to do. So my small copywriting business was born.</p> <p>After trying various office spaces, working in cafés, squatting in libraries and sharing desks with chums, we now both work at home. This means we spend on average 30-40 hours a week in a confined space together. Sounds fun, right?</p> <p>Well, yes – and no. There are pros and cons to having two solopreneurs in one family; let me explain:</p> <h2>The pros</h2> <ul> <li><strong>Someone to talk to:</strong> Working with my husband means there’s someone to get advice from, whine to about bad clients and share a giggle with over some funny YouTube clip. </li> <li><strong>Sharing:</strong> We’ve been able to share the cost of things like web development (both our sites use the same template), accounting software (the one we use gives reduced rates for a second business) and expensive technical bits and bobs. </li> <li><strong>Cross promotion:</strong> Although our audiences are largely different, there are occasional opportunities to cross-promote our services. </li> <li><strong>Together time:</strong> Unlike many couples who see each other for a few minutes each day and at the weekend, we get to spend a lot of time together. </li> <li><strong>Just down the end of the hall:</strong> I think it’s nice that our son knows that, even when working, both mum and dad are close by.</li> </ul> <h2>The cons</h2> <ul> <li><strong>Someone to argue with:</strong> When you’re having a bad day and looking for someone to blame, the poor beast who’s just a chair roll away sometimes bears the brunt.</li> <li><strong>Stress sharing:</strong> <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/ten-tips-to-help-you-manage-stress" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/ten-tips-to-help-you-manage-stress">Stress</a> seems to spread like an airborne virus in our tiny office.</li> <li><strong>Together time:</strong> Although we spend time together, it’s not really quality time. Also, since we know everything about each other’s working day, there’s not much to talk about come six o’clock.</li> <li><strong>Feast and famine:</strong> It would occasionally be nice if one of us had a full-time, grown-up job that could pay for the big important stuff – rather than both suffering from an uneven <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/five-tips-for-managing-cash-flow" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/five-tips-for-managing-cash-flow">cash flow</a>.</li> <li><strong>What did your last slave die from?</strong> My husband would happily admit to being a technical Luddite, and I think he asks for my help before really trying to fix the problem himself.</li> </ul> <p style="text-align: center;" mce_style="text-align: center;"><em>Want more articles like this? Check out the <a href=" http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-and-family/" mce_href=" http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-and-family/">work-and-family</a> section.</em></p> <h2>How we keep the love alive</h2> <p>For us, maintaining a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-and-family/working-with-your-loved-one-a-survival-guide" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-and-family/working-with-your-loved-one-a-survival-guide">happy working relationship</a> is a lot about leaving each other the hell alone.</p> <p><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px;">We work at desks facing away from each other (back to back), we plug in our headphones and stick to a ‘do not disturb’ rule. If we have questions, often we email them so that we don’t break the other’s flow. We take our telephone calls in the front garden; if we need to spread out, we migrate to the kitchen.</span></p> <p>Of course there are days when even my husband’s breathing gets on my nerves, but there are other days when I’m so appreciative of having him a few metres away.</p> <p>We’ve been working in the same small space for three years now and both of us are still alive and still together, so we must be doing something right!</p> <p><strong><em> Do you work with your partner? How do you keep the love alive?</em></strong></p> Kate Toon tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14621 2014-04-01T07:30:00+11:00 2014-03-26T14:19:37+11:00 Are you a maker or a manager? <p>Between sales, marketing and admin, soloists often talk about the challenges of wearing many hats. But for me, only two matter: my maker hat and my manager hat.</p><p>The concept of the conflicting needs of the maker and the manager originates from an essay called <a href="http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html" mce_href="http://www.paulgraham.com/makersschedule.html">Maker's schedule, manager's schedule</a>, published in 2009 by Paul Graham, one of the founders of the famous Silicon Valley startup incubator <a href="http://ycombinator.com/" mce_href="http://ycombinator.com/">Y Combinator</a>. In it, Graham observes that there are two different sets of timetables in use in the business world.</p> <h2>Managers work in bite-sized chunks</h2> <p>People whose work predominantly revolves around attending meetings and managing others tend to chunk their days down into 30 to 60 minute slots. They measure progress by ticking off lots of small tasks and discussions and making sure that other people involved are keeping things moving.</p> <h2>Makers need big blocks of time</h2> <p>On the other hand, those whose work involves producing something often need a much longer timeframe to find their flow. Achieving meaningful progress may require a few hours, a full day, or even several days at a time of uninterrupted focus.</p> <h2>Trying to blend both doesn’t work</h2> <p>As a writer, I’ve long recognised the need to reserve big chunks of my calendar for the purposes of actually writing. My least productive days are those that have <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-conduct-effective-meetings" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-conduct-effective-meetings">meetings</a> in the middle of them, so for the past few years I’ve tried to cluster my meetings in the early morning or late afternoon.</p> <p>For the most part that works well, but understanding the conflict between these two different approaches to time clarified an issue I previously hadn’t been able to put my finger on. It explains why trying to stick to a manager’s schedule at times when I’m also trying to be a maker turns me into something entirely different: a procrastinator.</p> <p>It prevents me from starting projects (or smaller tasks within bigger projects) because, as Graham puts it, ‘<em>If I know the afternoon is going to be broken up, I'm slightly less likely to start something ambitious in the morning… And ambitious projects are by definition close to the limits of your capacity. A small decrease in morale is enough to kill them off.</em>’</p> <p>Reading that made me realise I need to become much more disciplined about protecting the writing time in my calendar, because all those seemingly little interruptions that creep into my schedule actually put huge pressure on the timelines of my big writing projects. Equally importantly, they deter me from moving forward on ambitious projects I have in mind for my own business.</p> <p>I actually love meeting with my clients<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/tips-for-networking-at-a-business-lunch" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/tips-for-networking-at-a-business-lunch">, networking</a> with others in my industry and many other aspects of managing my business, so I have no plans to abandon my manager’s hat altogether.</p> <p>Instead, I’m test-driving taking the same approach to managing that I do to making, and setting aside a big weekly block of time in which to get things done, rather than trying to tick off a few little tasks each day.</p><p> <strong><em>Are you a manager or a maker? And what method of slicing and dicing your schedule works best for you?</em></strong></p> Jayne Tancred tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14049 2014-03-31T07:30:00+11:00 2014-03-31T11:10:59+11:00 Need some expert help in your business? <p>If you’re looking for support, check out Flying Solo’s directory where you’ll find more specialists than you can poke a stick at. </p><h1><a href="/directory" mce_href="/directory" style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px;" mce_style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px;">Visit the Flying Solo directory</a></h1> <p><br /></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14613 2014-03-29T07:30:00+11:00 2014-03-19T12:41:00+11:00 Seven ways to slash your accounting costs <p>In the current economy, cost cutting is vital for the survival of your business. Luckily, accounting is one area where it’s surprisingly easy to cut costs. </p><ol> <li><strong>Look at your internal controls.</strong></li> <p>If you don’t have the right systems and procedures in place when it comes to bookkeeping, then you’re never going to save money.</p> <p>Analyse your strengths and weaknesses and if bookkeeping is not your strength, consider outsourcing it. You might have to pay for a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/outsourcing/do-you-need-a-bookkeeper-or-accountant" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/outsourcing/do-you-need-a-bookkeeper-or-accountant">bookkeeper</a>, but consider the expense as an investment because you’ll have more time to work on your business.</p> <li><strong>Ask your accountant.</strong></li> <p>Let your accountant know that you’re trying to reduce your expenses, and ask him or her what you can do to decrease your accounting bill. Unless your accountant is aware you’re trying to cut costs (even if you tidy up the paperwork and records you send them), they may not pass the cost savings on to you.</p> <li><strong>Review your software.</strong></li> <p>With the help of your accountant, do an analysis of your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-technology/choosing-accounting-software-do-you-really-need-it" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-technology/choosing-accounting-software-do-you-really-need-it">accounting software</a> to determine if you’re using the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/cloud-technology/benefits-of-cloud-based-accounting-packages" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/cloud-technology/benefits-of-cloud-based-accounting-packages">best program</a> for your business, and more importantly, whether you’re using your software efficiently. Ask your accountant to set you up a chart of accounts and make sure you only use those accounts.</p> <li><strong>Look at your balance sheet.</strong></li> <p>The more accounts, loans and credit cards you have, the higher your accounting bill is going to be. Close any unnecessary bank accounts and keep personal transactions running through an account that is separate to your business. Streamlining your accounts will save your accountant time, and save <em>you</em> money.</p> <li><strong>Package your information.</strong></li> <p>At tax time, look at the way you present information to your accountant.</p> <p>Your accountant should be supplying you with a list of everything they require to complete your return. Make sure you supply all the necessary documents and only include information that relates to the current tax year. Accountants will review all information that you send to them, so providing irrelevant information will increase your accounting bill.</p> <li><strong>Be efficient. </strong></li> <p>Provide information to your accountant as soon as they ask for it. If your accountant phones for additional information, supply it as quickly as possible.</p> <li><strong>Ask questions.</strong></li> <p>Once your yearly tax return is finished, a good accountant will sit down with you to run through your financial statements and to answer any questions. Plan for this appointment in advance. Start a list with questions for your accountant, and add to this list during the year. By making the most of every appointment you’re helping to reduce your accounting bill.</p> </ol> <p>Try implementing these seven tips and your accounting costs can be slashed in no time.</p> <p><strong><em>How do you slash your accounting costs?</em></strong></p> Jasmine Kidd