tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:/feeds/all Flying Solo 2014-07-24T07:30:00+10:00 tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14705 2014-07-24T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-04T13:52:37+10:00 How to start your blog <p>There’s too much angst around blogging. This is a beginner’s guide to building your confidence around writing and publishing. Let’s get cracking.</p><h2>Why start blogging?&nbsp;</h2> <ul> <li>It’s a great way to let clients know you’re active, articulate and thoughtful.</li> <li>It’s free and you have 100% control.</li> <li>Everything you write flows into the business and supports your sales and marketing.</li> <li>Writing takes you gently into creativity and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/innovation/six-ways-to-stimulate-innovation-and-creativity" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/innovation/six-ways-to-stimulate-innovation-and-creativity">innovation</a>, pushing you to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/how-to-be-a-bold-business-blogger" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/small-business-blogs/how-to-be-a-bold-business-blogger">voice opinions</a> and new thinking.</li> </ul> <h2>Katie’s five week blogging program&nbsp;</h2> <p><strong><em>Week One</em></strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>No writing this week (didn’t see that coming eh?). Each time you speak to a client, spend five minutes afterwards answering these questions:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>What were they most concerned about? </li> <li>What didn’t they know? </li> <li>What insights and suggestions did you offer?</li> </ul> <p><strong><em>Week Two</em></strong>&nbsp;</p> <p>Add to your diary: a regular two hour writing slot for weeks’ two, three, four and five.&nbsp;</p> <p>The day before your writing day, review your notes and decide on a theme or a subject many clients are affected by.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Writing Day</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>It’s finally here! Most of the effort here is mindset. “I am writing today. I will not get caught up or make excuses.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Give yourself a structure and make some bullet points under headings. This could take approximately 30 minutes.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Step One: Note the problem and how it manifests for businesses.</li> <li>Step Two: Note the misconceptions and presumptions business owners have about this issue.</li> <li>Step Three: Now be the expert. What do you know that clients don’t know about this issue?</li> <li>Step Four: Note recent trends with this issue. Is it a new problem or an old one?</li> <li>Step Five: What insights can you offer?</li> <li>Step Six: What are the benefits of getting this issue resolved?</li> </ul> <p>You are now ready to write.</p> <p>Rules:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Write 700-800 words. </li> <li>Do not quote anyone else, this is YOUR BLOG.</li> <li>Stay in writing mode for two hours before you quit.</li> <li>Put it away as soon as you’ve finished. Don’t look at it again until the next day.<em>&nbsp;</em></li> </ul> <p><em>Next Day</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Take fifteen minutes reviewing your blog. How did you go? Does it need a bit of tidying up or are you ready to roll?&nbsp;</p> <p>If it needs tidying up, do that right now.&nbsp;</p> <p>If it’s a disaster, leave it for now. You’ll be writing on a new subject next week and can always come back to this subject another time.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you feel good, share your article with one or two trusted people and ask their opinions. You want to know: Is it clear? Do I sound like an expert? Is it entertaining?&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Publishing - Getting it out there</em><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>If you don’t already have a blog site or a blog tab on your website, get one.</p> <p>Post the blog. Add a picture if you like. Congratulations, you are a published blogger!&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Share it widely</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>Include a link to the blog or paste the whole article into an email for some current and recent clients (choose 10-20 people and email them individually). Ask them to leave comments on the blog and to share it if they like it.&nbsp;</p> <p>Share the blog URL on your social media pages.&nbsp;</p> <p>If you have staff, remember to share it with them.</p> <p>Remember to send it to your mum, she will love it no matter what!&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Weeks’ three to five</em></strong><strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p>Refer to the notes under week two and do it all again!&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Writer’s block</em>&nbsp;</p> <p>We all get <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/beat-writers-block" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/beat-writers-block">writers block</a> so here are some prompts for new blog ideas. Make sure you keep it aligned to your key business offering:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Pick a trend you can talk about </li> <li>Comment on a well-known company or person </li> <li>Bust a myth about your service or industry</li> </ul> <p>Most of all, enjoy your writing!<strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p> <p><strong><em>Feel free to send me your blog URL or put it in the comments below. I’d love to read it!</em></strong></p> Katie McMurray tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14737 2014-07-23T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-07T15:09:56+10:00 Why you need to write your own Business Bible <p>Writing ideas and inspiration in a notebook may be the best business habit you get into. You’ll be creating your very own, priceless Business Bible.</p><h2>Business Bibles: Book in some time&nbsp;</h2> <p>Working for yourself can be daunting – especially when you are responsible for every aspect of business, from accounting to marketing. The great news is that you can easily source wide-ranging business advice from a multitude of places: <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/inspirational-books" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/inspirational-books">books</a>, business magazines, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/forums/index.php">forums</a>, seminars, LinkedIn, blog articles (like on Flying Solo) and even conversations with friends.&nbsp;</p> <p>The not-so-great news is that you might become <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/business-information-overwhelm-how-to-take-action" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/business-information-overwhelm-how-to-take-action">overwhelmed by the volume of available information</a>, and the difficulty in capturing it.&nbsp;</p> <p>But there’s a solution. I regularly take a few moments to write down the best tips and ideas in a notebook (and I don’t mean my laptop). After a few years, and countless entries, this book has literally become my own Business Bible.&nbsp;</p> <h2>A spot-on prediction I wrote in my Business Bible&nbsp;</h2> <p>A few weeks ago I attended the World Business Forum in Sydney. I took out my trusty notebook to jot down a few pointers from the session. I inadvertently opened to the first page and discovered my first entry in 2009. It was a business prediction that the future of retailing was online!&nbsp;</p> <h2>The benefits of having a Business Bible&nbsp;</h2> <p>My notebook may not be high tech, but it contains countless nuggets of business and marketing wisdom that has been collected over the past five years.&nbsp;</p> <p>Writing down ideas and tips has meant that for a few minutes, I stop working <em>for </em>my business, and instead think about how to improve it. The simple act of filling in a little book with handwritten words has often sparked a new direction, a great <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-tips-how-to-avoid-gridlocks" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/marketing-tips-how-to-avoid-gridlocks">marketing</a> campaign or a conversation starter with a potential customer.&nbsp;</p> <p>It may seem quaint but it has helped me make some major decisions, and also saved me hours of searching for something I’ve read somewhere.&nbsp;</p> <h2>If a notebook isn’t for you, use technology.&nbsp;</h2> <p>If writing in a notebook is too old-school for you, there are a multitude of note-taking apps for iPad/iPhone and Android, such as Evernote, One Note, Papyrus, Springpad and Drafts.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Tips for creating and maintaining your Business Bible&nbsp;</h2> <p>The biggest challenge is not letting the ideas and nuggets of inspiration vanish before you’ve captured them. Most people only remember a fraction of what they hear each day, and we forget about 50 per cent <em>immediately</em> after we hear it.&nbsp;</p> <p>How many times have you come across something brilliant, only to instantly forget it because you’ve been distracted by more urgent tasks? Here are my tips.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Grab your notebook or phone/tablet whenever you stumble on a great piece of information, or whenever your own inspiration strikes.</li> <li>Keep a pen and some paper (or your mobile phone) on your bedside table, just in case you wake up during the night with a brilliant idea.</li> <li>Set yourself goals to keep up the practice. For example, you might schedule a few minutes each day to capture anything note-worthy.</li> <li>When you’re on the internet, set a time limit or an alarm so you don’t get absorbed in blogs, webpages or social media – we are all time poor, so it’s important that you search with purpose.</li> <li>Collect all types of information, like a useful business contact or an interesting comment you heard in passing.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Invaluable ideas, advice and tips are everywhere, so grab a pen or a tablet and write them down. The act of writing in your Business Bible can give you clarity and focus in a world of information overload.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Where do you capture your business ideas and inspiration? What are your thoughts on creating your very own Business Bible?</em></strong></p> Matthew White tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14715 2014-07-22T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-12T14:30:31+10:00 Soloist insights from the movie <em>Chef</em> <p>Recently I went to see the movie &lt;em&gt;Chef&lt;/em&gt; without knowing much about it, and was surprised when it turned out to be an inspiring soloist success story. </p><p>Excuse the pun, but here are a few of my takeaways.</p> <h2>Sometimes you need a push</h2> <p>The lead character in the film starts his own business after finding himself suddenly jobless, with no appealing opportunities in sight. This may not be the ideal way to kick off a new venture, but if chef Carl Casper signed up for Flying Solo today, he’d be joining many others whose businesses started for similar reasons – and who are delighted that the universe gave them a nudge in the right direction.</p> <h2>Social media can make or break you</h2> <p>An ill-conceived <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/twitter-tips-for-beginners-how-to" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/twitter-tips-for-beginners-how-to">tweet</a> is the catalyst that propels Carl from his comfortable existence into a complete and utter career crisis. Ironically, social media also turns out to be his saviour, letting the world know that he’s reinvented himself and is back on track. (As a bonus tip, the movie also demonstrates that if you haven’t got to grips with <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/which-social-media-platform-is-best-for-your-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/which-social-media-platform-is-best-for-your-business">social media</a> yourself, there may well be a younger person in your life who can show you the ropes).</p> <h2>Present your products in the best possible light </h2> <p>My tummy literally rumbled as I sat in the cinema watching such everyday events such as onions sizzling in a pan, cheese melting on a toasted sandwich and mustard being slathered on bread – and all around me I could hear people saying to their neighbours, ‘I am SOOOO hungry.’ If you were ever in any doubt, the footage undeniably demonstrates that making your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/promoting-your-product-turn-features-into-benefits" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/promoting-your-product-turn-features-into-benefits">products</a> look so good that people want to experience them for themselves is always worth the investment!</p> <h2>Getting started takes elbow grease</h2> <p>When Carl first lays eyes on the food truck that he hopes will solve all his problems, it’s so disgustingly filthy that personally, I’d have walked away rather than clean it. Luckily, he sees its potential so simply knuckles down and gets on with the job – like all determined soloists do.</p> <h2>Talent and passion are an inspiring combo</h2> <p>Carl is clearly a talented chef, and when he’s channelling his passion into food rather than having temper tantrums, people around him are inspired and enthusiastic – going out of their way to join his mission and to rave about his abilities.</p> <h2>Relationships are everything</h2> <p>On the surface, <em>Chef </em>is all about a guy’s relationship with his son. But for soloists, it’s also a reminder that our extended <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/personal-and-business-growth-tip-start-a-network" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/personal-and-business-growth-tip-start-a-network">networks</a> can sometimes be surprisingly valuable resources and allies. From his ex-wife’s ex-husband who donates the truck, to his sidekick’s cousin’s mate who does a spectacular job of painting and branding it; there are numerous instances where people outside Carl’s inner circle step up to help him live his dream.</p> <p><em>Chef</em> seems to be in limited release in Australia, so if it’s not on at a cinema near you, make a note to grab the DVD when you can. It’s definitely worth watching on a rainy afternoon when your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/accountability-whos-managing-your-mojo" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/accountability-whos-managing-your-mojo">soloist mojo</a> could do with a boost!</p><p> <strong><em>Have you had a taste of this movie too? Please share your business insights in the comments.</em></strong></p> Jayne Tancred tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14747 2014-07-20T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-17T13:15:40+10:00 How social media can get you in trouble <p>In this podcast, lawyer Vanessa Emilio reminds us that what happens online can end up in litigation.</p><p>To access all Flying Solo podcasts visit <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcasts" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcasts">www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcasts</a></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14728 2014-07-19T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-01T15:26:48+10:00 An introduction to financial reports <p>Do you understand the key financial statements available from your business accounts, as well as the information within each of them? If not, read on. </p><p>If you don’t have formal accounting training, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/why-your-financial-reports-matter" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/why-your-financial-reports-matter">financial reports</a> can be quite confusing, and may even deter you from looking at them at all, ultimately meaning that you’re ignoring the information they can provide.&nbsp;</p> <p>Here’s a simple overview of the key financial reports you should be looking at on a regular basis.</p> <h2>Profit and loss</h2> <p>A <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/profit-and-loss-statements" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/profit-and-loss-statements">profit and loss statement</a> (P&amp;L) is one of the key reports for any business to run. It records all your transactions for a given period, usually the financial year ending on June 30. Your P&amp;L tells you how much you’ve recorded as sales for the year, less what you’ve spent – the difference is your profit or loss for the year.</p> <h2> Balance sheet</h2> <p>Your balance sheet records the assets and liabilities of your business at any given date. It’s the equivalent of listing all the things you own (such as your house, car, other belongings and maybe some investments), less all the things you owe (your mortgage, credit card debts, car loan and so on).&nbsp;</p> <p>In a business you can’t just list these items, you have to keep records of them to satisfy the ATO. More importantly, knowing how to read a balance sheet can give you lots of information to help you run your business, such as a summary of the total amount of money you’re owed and that you owe others.</p> <h2>Accounts receivable and accounts payable reports</h2> <p>The accounts receivable and accounts payable reports are also sometimes referred to as trade debtors and trade creditors reports. While the balance sheet shows the totals due, these reports tell you who owes money and who you owe money to, plus how old the debts are.</p> <h2>Cash flow reports and forecasts</h2> <p>One of the difficulties with the reports above is that they’re prepared on an ‘accrual basis’, in which sales income is recorded when you raise the invoice, not when you get paid; and expenses are recorded when you enter the supplier invoice into your system, not when you pay it. It’s important to prepare your accounts in this way but it does mean that you can’t use those reports to forecast you cash position.</p> <p>Your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/need-to-increase-cashflow-look-inside-your-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/financial-management/need-to-increase-cashflow-look-inside-your-business">cash flow</a> report contains information drawn from a combination of the P&amp;L and the balance sheet, and tells you where the cash in your business has come from, and where it has gone.</p> <p>This is one of the most misunderstood reports of all. Whereas accountants traditionally prepare a cash flow report covering the past 12 months, most business owners don’t care about cash flow in the past – they want to know what is going to happen to their cash balance in the future. For this, you need a cash flow forecast – we will look at this in more detail in a future article. In fact, the next articles in this series will discuss each of the above reports in more detail.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>Do you have any questions or comments about financial reports?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Rhys Roberts tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14727 2014-07-18T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-09T12:02:06+10:00 Seven tips to boost productivity after lunch <p>Lunch is a good time to recharge your mind and body, but it can sometimes be followed by a slump. Here are seven tips to boost your productivity, post pie. </p><h2>Eat well </h2> <p>Try having two snacks after lunch to increase productivity. Foods like strawberries and blueberries are not only good for your brain and skin, they’re also great for lifting your mood and relieving stress.</p> <p>Although it’s ideal to avoid processed sugar like soft drinks and candies, if you have a sweet tooth, eating chocolate has some benefits: dark chocolate increases your focus and milk chocolate improves visual memory.</p> <p>If you’re stuffed like a turkey, instead of snacking, try smelling basil or chamomile, it can reduce tension and helps to increase mental clarity.&nbsp;</p> <p>A study found that 65 percent of workers eat at their desk, so when lunch time arrives, take the opportunity to chat to someone or sit outside.</p> <h2>Exercise</h2> <p>Research has shown that raising your heart rate and working up a sweat for 15 minutes can achieve the same effect as a 60 minute workout. Exercising allows you to return to work recharged. Stick to what works for you, whether it be a 20 minute walk, some light aerobic exercises, 30 minutes of yoga or even deskercises!</p> <p>If finding the time to exercise is too difficult, start with some deep breathing exercises and work your way up from there. Mediation heals and gives you a sense of inner peace.</p> <h2>Skip the mid-afternoon cup of coffee</h2> <p>Yup, I said it. Stop chain-drinking and turn your focus to the right sources of energy. Drinking more water will <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/effects-of-dehydration-why-you-should-drink-more-water" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/effects-of-dehydration-why-you-should-drink-more-water">increase your fluid intake</a>, reduce your anxiety and irritability, and help you feel perky.</p> <h2>Take a cat nap</h2> <p>Sometimes the best way to combat fatigue is to take a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/how-can-an-afternoon-nap-be-good-for-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/how-can-an-afternoon-nap-be-good-for-business">power nap</a>. Turn off your brain and relax for 15-20 minutes, it’ll rev you up for the rest of the day.<em>&nbsp;</em></p> <h2>Save the mundane tasks for last</h2> <p>By evaluating your workday earlier, you can set yourself up for success later. Try working on the harder (or worst) tasks earlier in the day.</p> <p>When you first come back to your desk after lunch, don’t check your emails. Try to work on the worst thing that requires completion, then move on to the more mundane items like checking emails or following up on projects.</p> <h2>Get some sunshine</h2> <p>Walk outside for 10 minutes and let the sunlight hit your face. Being exposed to dim light can make you feel sleepy and stressed. Sunshine is essential for boosting your serotonin (or happy) levels. If you have an appointment, schedule it for lunch time to help break up your day. This also forces you to stop eating at your desk!</p> <h2>Turn up the music </h2> <p>Listening to your favourite music can help you focus and feel more energised. Jamshed Bharucha, neuroscientist and musician, states that music allows us to connect and work together in a more synchronised way. Depending on what <a href="http://lifehacker.com/5365012/the-best-sounds-for-getting-work-done" mce_href="http://lifehacker.com/5365012/the-best-sounds-for-getting-work-done">type of music</a> you’re listening to, music can actually help you complete tasks faster!</p> <p>The above tips will help you to fire on all cylinders rather than experiencing post-lunch <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/improving-business-productivity" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/productivity/improving-business-productivity">productivity</a> problems.</p><p> <strong><em>What are your tips for boosting productivity after lunch?</em></strong></p> Leah Rise tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14688 2014-07-17T07:30:00+10:00 2014-05-23T13:53:46+10:00 Nerve-busting tips for media interviews <p>Media interviews can be daunting, but with these seven tips in your soloist suitcase, you’ll be a media pro in no time. </p><p>The more media interviews you do, the less nervous you’ll get. Until that point though, let’s look at seven tips that will help you to manage your nerves.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Be prepared&nbsp;</h2> <p>Put simply, the more <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/public-relations-pr/how-to-prepare-for-media-interviews" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/public-relations-pr/how-to-prepare-for-media-interviews">prepared</a> and practiced you are, the more confident you’ll feel.&nbsp;</p> <h2>2. Reframe your thinking</h2> <p>Rather than focusing on the fact that you’re about to be interviewed, consider that you’re about to have a friendly <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/the-lost-art-of-conversation" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-networking/the-lost-art-of-conversation"><em>conversation.</em></a> Treat the interview as though you’re having a cup of coffee with a friend, and don’t focus on the fact that others are listening or watching. I especially do this when being interviewed on television. I say to myself “I’m just having a chat”.&nbsp;</p> <h2>3. Believe&nbsp;</h2> <p>It’s important to believe that your advice and opinions are of value to others. When you truly believe this, you’ll be passionate and fired up. People will hear the enthusiasm in your voice and they’ll love it!</p> <h2>4. Stay hydrated</h2> <p><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/effects-of-dehydration-why-you-should-drink-more-water" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/effects-of-dehydration-why-you-should-drink-more-water">Having a drink of water</a> about five minutes before you speak will help to moisten your throat and reduce coughs and splutters.&nbsp;</p> <h2>5. For radio, consider standing up</h2> <p>When I’m being interviewed on <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/coaching-couch-radio-sample-the-best-of" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/coaching-couch-radio-sample-the-best-of">radio</a> I like to stand up rather than crumpling up in a chair somewhere. It helps me feel more energetic and confident.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. Get rid of all distractions</h2> <p>Focus 100 per cent on the person who is interviewing you. The audience will pick up if you’re distracted and it won’t come across well. On radio, it can also help to close your eyes so that you can <em>really</em> focus on the question.&nbsp;</p> <h2>7. Put fears into context</h2> <p>Are you afraid that you’ll be asked questions you can’t answer? The reality is that you know more about your topic than the interviewer and the audience, so believe in your experience and ability. The interviewer simply wants to extract useful information from you, so smile and share.&nbsp;</p> <p>Preparation and positivity can go a long way in helping to manage your interview nerves. Practice makes perfect, so go forth and be interviewed!<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p><p> <strong><em>Do you have some nerve-busting tips for media interviews?</em></strong></p> Andrew Griffiths tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14710 2014-07-16T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-04T13:53:55+10:00 Top tips for writing top marketing emails <p>Despite the popularity of social media and content marketing, email marketing is still a force to be reckoned with. Here are some tips for email success. </p><h2>Ditch the pitch and offer valuable content</h2> <p>Email marketing is all about building trust with your audience, not hard selling. Constantly bombarding subscribers with marketing messages is likely to make them reach for the unsubscribe button. Instead of using your marketing emails to flog your wares, try providing readers with valuable content that helps them solve a problem.</p> <p>If you do this well, over time your audience will start to see you as a trusted source of help and information. By regularly engaging with them you can stay fresh in their minds, especially when they’re ready to purchase.</p> <p>It’s okay to mention the occasional special offer, but when you do, make sure you use the right kind of language. Benefit-driven language and words like ‘receive’ and ‘get’ are more compelling than wishy washy language or a long list of terms and conditions.</p> <h2>Make it clear</h2> <p>Be clear and brief when writing your marketing emails. Avoid overly cluttered layouts and long rambling passages of text, and remember to keep things simple. You don’t want to leave your audience scratching their heads and wondering what your email is all about. Your point should be clear in the first couple of sentences and your tone should be conversational and friendly (no <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/the-woes-of-web-copy-waffle" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/website-content/the-woes-of-web-copy-waffle">waffling!</a>).</p> <h2>Make it easy to skim</h2> <p>Think about how many marketing <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/managing-email/confessions-from-an-email-addict" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/managing-email/confessions-from-an-email-addict">emails</a> you receive in one day, chances are you don’t have time to read them all. You probably glance through the first few lines and then decide whether to keep reading or move on. Your readers are doing the same, so make sure you use skim-friendly short paragraphs and plenty of <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/writing-headlines" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/communication-skills/writing-headlines">eye-catching headings.</a></p> <h2>Learn what works</h2> <p>No two audiences are the same and what works for someone else’s business might not work for yours. How are you going to know whether your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-write-sales-emails-that-sizzle" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-write-sales-emails-that-sizzle">marketing emails</a> are hitting the mark?</p> <p>Tracking the results is essential for any marketing campaign. Plenty of email marketing platforms allow split a/b testing options so you can experiment with different headings, formats and layouts, to see what works best for your individual audience.</p> <p>There are so many benefits to email marketing and it’s the ideal platform for soloists who are looking to market and grow their business. It’s worth taking the time to get it right.</p><p> <strong><em>What are your top email marketing tips? Have you found a strategy that you want to share?</em></strong></p> Jo Macdermott tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14736 2014-07-15T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-07T15:07:11+10:00 Why I fired my client and what I learnt <p>Today was a bad day. I love my clients and protect them all fiercely. In my 19 year legal career I’ve never had to fire one, until today.</p><h2>What drove me to fire?&nbsp;</h2> <p>Having an online business means that clients sometimes expect more for less, sooner rather than later. Client X was a startup entrepreneur who required several telephone discussions prior to deciding to become a customer. He purchased a package legal template from our site, and then started phoning on the pretext that his query related to the template, which unfortunately it wasn’t.&nbsp;</p> <p>When Client X first started contacting us, he was very polite and courteous, but every call was over an hour, just to ‘check something’. It began draining our time so we advised him that any further ‘quick’ questions would be billed on legal time costing.&nbsp;</p> <p>Then one day Client X contracted us to complete some custom legal work. We conducted the normal work <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/how-to-deal-with-project-scope-creep" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/pricing-strategy/how-to-deal-with-project-scope-creep">scope,</a> agreed on a project work outline, and provided a time estimate for each piece of the work.&nbsp;</p> <p>As the work progressed, Client X added in ‘just one more thing’ at each level, which we advised would cost more. When it came time to issue an interim invoice, the investment was naturally higher, but our client didn’t want to pay it. So after a lot of discussion with the team, we decided to cut the cord, pull the plug, fold the hand, cork the leakage (everyone had a different description for it), and fire our client.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The lessons I learnt&nbsp;</h2> <ul> <li><em>Manage expectations early</em><em>&nbsp;</em></li> </ul> <p>Establish your working parameters with your client early in your relationship. Agree on the project scope, phases and payments, and make it clear that anything outside of this detailed plan will cost more.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><em>Identify and manage any issues immediately</em>&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>The earlier you identify issues, the better. You can save time, energy and money, while possibly preserving the relationship. So address any issues directly and quickly.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><em>Have clear written Terms and Conditions</em>&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Ensure you have very clear <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-start-up/a-guide-to-website-terms-and-conditions" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-start-up/a-guide-to-website-terms-and-conditions">Terms and Conditions</a> for any agreed project or work.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><em>Regularly update clients on costs</em>&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Keep your clients informed so that there are no nasty surprises. Interim <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> are an excellent way to help your clients understand and manage expenses.&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li><em>Know when to walk away</em><strong>&nbsp;</strong></li> </ul> <p>Protect your business. If not managed correctly, issues like this can pull your business down. It’s okay to say goodbye to a client.&nbsp;</p> <p>If a client is firing you up for all the wrong reasons, it might be time to fire them for all the <em>right</em> reasons. Just do it early, politely and cleanly. And move on.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Do you have your own story, tips or advice to share? Have you ever fired or been close to firing a client? Or have you salvaged a rocky relationship?</em></strong></p> Vanessa Emilio tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/13523 2014-07-13T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-11T13:57:08+10:00 Past fave: We are the soul traders <p>Describing a ‘typical’ solo business owner is like trying to describe an ‘average’ person. But as diverse as we are, those in the flourishing soloist movement share many tribal similarities.</p><h2>We are the soloists.</h2> <p>We are the third bedroom dwellers, the kitchen table perchers, the café lurkers. We are the CEO, CFO, CIO, COO, cleaner, accountant, IT fixer, debt collector, sales manager and strategist. We are front of house, leading role and backstage hand.</p> <p>We are the name on the van, the bottom line, where the buck stops.</p> <p>We are the corporate escapees, the mogul wannabees, the little doers, the big talkers, the quiet achievers, the hired guns. We are top of our game, but under the radar.</p> <p>We are plan A, B and C. We have no safety net, no expense accounts, no war chests, no slush funds, no parent companies, no casual Fridays and no fall back positions. We are familiar with the smell of oily rags.</p> <p>We are proposals at midnight, invoices at dawn and mowing on Mondays. We are the soul traders – one email away from elation, one phone call from dejection.</p> <p>We are the red hot go. The crazy dream. The shot at the title. We are the epic fails, the rising from the ashes, the self-made stories.</p> <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/working-alone/" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/working-alone/">working alone</a> section.</em></p> <p>We are the outside of the box, the other side of the coin, the path less trodden.</p> <p>We are something from nothing. Mind over matter. We are masters of our own universe. We are the nimble fish in the shark-infested pond.</p> <p>We threw in the day job and made the bed that we lie in. We are the boss they bitch about.</p> <p>With more than 1 million of us across Australia, we are the nation’s largest business sector – and the stampede to soloism gathers pace every year.</p> <p>Welcome to the soloists' century. You may be Flying Solo, but you’re not alone.</p> <p>I am proud to be part of the soloist movement. Are you? Tell us below why you love it!</p><p><i>PS: A huge thanks to&nbsp;<a href="http://www.scarlettrugers.com/" mce_href="http://www.scarlettrugers.com/" target="_blank">Scarlett Rugers Design</a> who very kindly created this brilliant 'soul trader'&nbsp;<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/uploads/Page%20Images/SoulTrader_PosterImage.jpg" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/uploads/Page%20Images/SoulTrader_PosterImage.jpg" target="_blank">poster image</a> and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/uploads/Page%20Images/SoulTrader_a3_poster.pdf" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/uploads/Page%20Images/SoulTrader_a3_poster.pdf" target="_blank">PDF</a>, and&nbsp;<span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px; background-color: #ffffff;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px; background-color: #ffffff;">to&nbsp;</span><a style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px; background-color: #ffffff;" mce_style="font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px; background-color: #ffffff;" href="http://www.davidstanleyguitar.com.au/" mce_href="http://www.davidstanleyguitar.com.au/" target="_blank">Dave Stanley</a><span style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px; background-color: #ffffff;" mce_style="font-family: Arial, Helvetica, serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 17px; background-color: #ffffff;">&nbsp;who created the audio version embedded above.&nbsp;</span>Love your work!</i></p> Peter Crocker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14723 2014-07-12T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-30T17:01:50+10:00 Four tips for soloist stress management <p>Australians are a stressed out bunch, and it seems our stress levels are rising. Find out why you might be stressed, and how to get your life back on track.</p><h2>We’re stressed out </h2> <p>According to a 2013 survey conducted by the Australian Psychological Society, Australians have been experiencing increased levels of stress and reduced wellbeing over the past 12 months.</p> <p>The <a href="http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/Stress%20and%20wellbeing%20in%20Australia%20survey%202013.pdf" mce_href="http://www.psychology.org.au/Assets/Files/Stress%20and%20wellbeing%20in%20Australia%20survey%202013.pdf">Stress and Wellbeing in Australia 2013</a> survey looked at the stress levels of Australians, unearthing a variety of worrying statistics. Almost one in seven people reported depressive symptoms in the severe to extremely severe range, while one in three Australians identified work issues as a source of their stress.</p> <p>Those registering high stress levels listed many contributing factors, including long work hours and unrelenting deadlines, resulting in reduced productivity.</p> <p>That said, it can be difficult to spot the warning signs of stress and it is wise to remain attentive to your own mood and motivation.</p> <h2>Stress signs to look out for </h2> <ul> <li>Insomnia</li> <li>Sleep disturbances and trouble getting out of bed on work days</li> <li>Fatigue</li> <li>An upset stomach</li> <li>Anger</li> <li><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/managing-anxiety-with-mindfulness" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/managing-anxiety-with-mindfulness">Anxiety</a></li> <li>Irritability</li> <li>Depression and feelings of being overwhelmed</li> </ul> <h2>Strategies to get your work and life back on track</h2> <p><em>Identify warning signs and stressors</em></p> <p>The first step is to identify any triggers or situations that make you feel stressed, angry, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/managing-anxiety-with-mindfulness" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/managing-anxiety-with-mindfulness">overwhelmed</a> or deflated. You need to evaluate the top list of things that heighten your stress levels so that you can try to avoid them and move in a positive direction instead.</p> <p>For example, are you feeling burnt out from trying to complete too many projects on tight deadlines? Do you work long hours regularly?</p> <p>Once you identify the warning signs, you can start putting a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/tips-for-staying-calm-under-pressure" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/tips-for-staying-calm-under-pressure">positive plan</a> into place.</p> <p><em>Change your routine </em></p> <p>It might be time to either establish or change your routines; or strengthen your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/the-time-management-plan-that-worked" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/time-management-tips/the-time-management-plan-that-worked">time management</a> skills so that you can boost your productivity.</p> <p><em>Ask for help</em></p> <p>To avoid burnout, ask someone for help, or <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/outsourcing/the-pros-and-cons-of-outsourcing" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/outsourcing/the-pros-and-cons-of-outsourcing">outsource</a> as many tasks as possible.</p> <p><em>Take time off</em></p> <p>It’s important to give yourself a chance to regularly recharge by taking breaks. During the day, stop what you’re doing and stretch, go for a walk, breathe deeply or exercise. Give your brain and body a chance to relax. Don’t eat lunch at your desk and make sure you take some time off on the weekends.</p> <p>It’s also vital that you book in annual level and take advantage of <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-styles/do-working-holidays-work" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/work-styles/do-working-holidays-work">holidays</a>, rather than feeling a need to work all year round.</p><p> Try some or all of these tips and you’re sure to feel rejuvenated, energised, and less stressed. <br /> <strong><em></em></strong></p><p><strong><em>Do you have any soloist stress management tips?</em></strong></p> Andrew Morris tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14708 2014-07-11T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-04T13:57:19+10:00 What you need to know about ATO audits <p>If you’ve been audited, you’ll know that it’s a stressful and time-consuming process. Here’s what you need to know about ATO business audits. </p><p>A tax audit is an examination by the Tax Office to determine if you’ve done what you’re required to do under the tax law. This includes whether you’ve declared all your assessable income, claimed your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/small-business-tax-deductions-claim-tax-return" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/small-business-tax-deductions-claim-tax-return">tax deductions</a> correctly and met all your regulatory obligations.&nbsp;</p> <h2>How the tax office chooses businesses to audit&nbsp;</h2> <p>The tax office uses a broad range of indicators to help select businesses for an audit, including:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>Comparing a business against other businesses in their industry. This is often referred to as checking <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/business-benchmarks-how-to-audit-proof-your-biz" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/business-benchmarks-how-to-audit-proof-your-biz">small business benchmarks.</a></li> <li>Allegations of tax evasion from members of the community. The Tax Office has a special number that you can phone anonymously if you think someone is avoiding their tax obligations.</li> <li>Sophisticated data matching technology that matches data reported on your tax return against information supplied from government agencies, banks and trade suppliers.</li> <li>Watching business owners who are reporting net income on their tax return that appears to be too low to support their personal living expenses.&nbsp;</li> <li>Random and unannounced visits to your business premises to check your processes and staff numbers. This happens more than you may realise. You just never know when your next customer could be an undercover Tax Officer.</li> </ul> <p>Once selected for an audit the tax office won’t necessarily launch into a major review of all your business records. To begin with it may only involve a phone call or a letter asking the business owner to provide specific information to verify a claim. If the Tax Office is happy with what they find there will be no further action.</p> <h2>What happens in an audit&nbsp;</h2> <p>If the Tax Office decides to subject you to a thorough investigation of your business records you can expect the following:</p> <ul> <li>You will need to provide tax officers with full and free access to buildings, premises, records and documents.</li> <li>You will be formally interviewed by the Tax Office, sometimes more than once.</li> <li>The audit will last anywhere from six to 12 months, and depending on how messy your records are, it can cause considerable disruption to your business.</li> <li>Expect a large bill from your accountant while they act as the middle man between you and the ATO.</li> <li>You may be required to fill in a comprehensive personal living expenses form. This form will tell the Tax Office whether the income you’re reporting for your business is enough to cover your daily living expenses. You can obtain a copy of this form on the ATO web site.</li> <li>The ATO may perform a personal asset betterment test. This test measures the increase in your net wealth over a year. It will help the ATO determine if you have been paying large amounts of money off your home loan or you have been buying personal assets with cash such as cars and boats.</li> <li>The ATO may contact your suppliers, customers and banks to verify the accuracy of data.</li> <li>If the tax office is satisfied that you have not been reporting all your income they will use your industry benchmarks to amend your tax return and bring your profit back to an acceptable level.</li> </ul> <p>If you do get selected for an audit it is important that you do a complete review of your bookkeeping records before the audit begins. If you find any discrepancies or income that you have failed to disclose you should notify the ATO immediately. Voluntarily disclosing errors before the audit begins may significantly reduce the penalties you may be required to pay.&nbsp;</p> <h2>Prevention is better. Audit-proof your business.&nbsp;</h2> <p>At the end of the day, audits place unnecessary stress on a small business so it’s best to avoid them altogether. The best way to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/business-benchmarks-how-to-audit-proof-your-biz" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/finance/business-tax-tips/business-benchmarks-how-to-audit-proof-your-biz">audit-proof your business</a> is by doing the right thing. Report all your income and make sure you’re meeting all your obligations as an employer. Ensure your bookkeeping software is balanced and up to date and your benchmarks are being monitored. And if you’re at high risk of an audit, consider taking out audit insurance. This will cover the cost of your accounting fees in the event of an audit.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>Have you been audited? Care to share your story? How do you audit-proof your business?&nbsp;</em></strong></p> Jasmine Kidd tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14724 2014-07-10T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-10T10:48:52+10:00 Boost sales with Platform Thinking <p>While individual products solve individual problems, platforms extend products and improve revenue. Platforms are products on steroids. Find out more.</p><h2>Examples of Platform Thinking</h2> <p><em>Nestle’s Nespresso</em></p> <p>Most of us know and love Nestle's Nespresso products. Before the Nespresso revolution, the standard single-product approach was to sell coffee through <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/how-to-attract-customers-into-your-retail-store" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/how-to-attract-customers-into-your-retail-store">retail</a>, either pre-packaged or takeaway. Nespresso changed all that by taking their products and moving sideways.</p> <p>They created a series of branded capsules and coffee machines with complementary accessories such as crockery sets, capsule organisers, even coffee-scented candles; and distributed them via direct channels to hotels, businesses, retailers and consumers.</p> <p><em>Google Chrome</em></p> <p>The Google Chrome web browser is another example. The stand-alone product would be a web browser that just operates on one device and doesn't even know if you own other devices (think Internet Explorer).</p> <p>A more platform-oriented approach, like Google Chrome, is a browser that knows your bookmarks and your browsing history across all your devices, allowing you to pick up exactly where you left off from device to device.</p> <p>You can also extend the functionality of the browser with a suite of third-party extensions (similar to apps for your smartphone) to enhance your browsing experience, such as a presentation viewer to view slideshows or a reader to read large chunks of text.</p> <p>The browser can also be applied to different scenarios/<a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/promoting-your-product-turn-features-into-benefits" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/promoting-your-product-turn-features-into-benefits">product</a> lines. For example, Chromebooks are super-cheap ‘light’ PCs with minimal memory and hard disk capacity, which only allows you to browse the web or run web applications.</p> <h2>How can Platform Thinking benefit your business?</h2> <ul> <li>Better opportunities for recurring revenue and growth <br /> <br /> You can have your core product(s) earning income in many different ways.<br /> <br /> </li> <li>Expanded brand <br /> <br /> Since you're solving multiple problems, you will get more exposure and recognition, possibly in different markets.<br /> <br /> </li> <li>Differentiation<br /> <br /> Chances are your competition isn't thinking sideways. And even if they are, there are many different approaches to take when building platforms. There's no one-size-fits-all.</li> </ul> <h2>How to get started with Platform Thinking</h2> <ul> <li>Think sideways by thinking of other uses, applications and <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/know-your-features-and-benefits" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/know-your-features-and-benefits">benefits</a> that your product can provide in different contexts.</li> <li>Try breaking your product down into individual components that can be sold separately, however, remember that they should complement each other beautifully when combined.</li> <li>Consider complementary partnerships. Who else can already stand on your shoulders to improve their own products?</li> <li>Consider alternative distribution methods for your product.</li> <li>Start with a basic prototype and test your thinking as early as possible. Solicit feedback and continue tweaking before rolling out your platform more broadly.</li> </ul> <p>As you can see, Platform Thinking is not only profitable, but it can help you rise above your competitors. Happy platforming!</p> <p><strong><em>What are your thoughts on Platform Thinking?</em></strong></p> Paul J. Morris tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14726 2014-07-09T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-14T11:29:31+10:00 Wonderful webinars: Seven tips to prepare <p>The key to a wonderful webinar is in the preparation. Here are my seven tips to prepare for one. </p><p class="Body">I had mixed emotions about my first webinar. Excitement and anxiety were two of them. Excitement because I love new experiences, and anxiety for the very same reason – it was a new experience and I wasn't sure what was involved.</p> <p class="Body">By giving some thought to what I wanted to achieve, I enjoyed this new experience in both its preparation and its delivery. Here are my preparation tips.&nbsp;</p> <h2>1. Know why you are running the webinar&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">You’ve made a decision to host a webinar. What is your purpose? Is it to inform or <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-websites/five-myths-of-selling-online" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/business-websites/five-myths-of-selling-online">sell</a>? Or is it a combination of both? If you know your purpose then you can design your material to meet it.</p> <h2>2. Decide upon the outcomes&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">What do you want to achieve as a result of the webinar? Be clear on your desired outcomes so that your content is geared toward achieving them.</p> <h2>3. Prepare your key take-aways&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">As the name suggests, your take-aways refer to the main points that you want your audience to be able to use or reflect upon.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">In my case, I wanted my attendees to take away tips on:</p> <ul> <li>How to connect with their audience</li> <li>The power of the story through imagery</li> <li>How to use colour to add impact</li> <li>Where to find great online resources&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p class="Body">To help you determine your take-aways, ask yourself:&nbsp;</p> <ul> <li>What is my message? </li> <li>What value will I give my audience for their time? </li> <li>How will my slides support and enhance the message?</li> </ul> <h2>4. Find ways to engage your audience&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">It's important to consider how you will engage your audience.</p> <ul> <li>Will you use polls? </li> <li>Will the visuals be interesting enough to capture their attention? </li> <li>What questions will you ask?&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p class="Body">By keeping your audience actively involved you are more likely to have their attention for the whole time. Otherwise, it’s only a click away to disconnect.&nbsp;</p> <h2>5. Learn the system</h2> <p class="Body">Ensure that you are familiar with the <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">platform</a> you’ll be using during the webinar. Do a trial run so that you are comfortable with the options available and feel confident using them. These include knowing how to go from slide to slide and how to conduct polls.&nbsp;</p> <h2>6. Prepare yourself&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">Have a good night's sleep before the webinar. You need to be alert and sound refreshed because your audience will pick up your enthusiasm in your voice. Have a glass of room-temperature water available, you’ll be speaking for most of the hour so you need to stay <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/effects-of-dehydration-why-you-should-drink-more-water" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/health-and-wellbeing/effects-of-dehydration-why-you-should-drink-more-water">hydrated.</a>&nbsp;</p> <h2>7. Prepare your environment&nbsp;</h2> <p class="Body">On the day of the webinar, give yourself enough time to check that everything works, such as your computer, microphone and your internet connection. Organise your notes and anything else you need.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">By following these tips, you will feel more confident and be able to present yourself in a professional manner.&nbsp;</p> <p class="Body">When the day came for my webinar I felt prepared and ready for the experience, in fact, excitement had overtaken any feelings of <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/five-steps-to-managing-anxiety" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/live-smarter/stress-management/five-steps-to-managing-anxiety">anxiety</a>. I enjoyed sharing my tips and connecting with people from around the world. The feedback following the webinar was very positive and I've learnt a great deal from the process.&nbsp;</p><p> <strong><em>How do you prepare for webinars? Or what are your thoughts on webinars you’ve attended?</em></strong></p> Maria Pantalone tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14734 2014-07-08T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-08T10:01:58+10:00 The power of less: Four things to stop <p>Since reading ‘The Power of Less’ by Leo Babauta, I’ve been intrigued by the idea of minimalism in business, and life. Its promise: Do less. Get more done.</p><p>In music, design and architecture, minimalism is a method that strips things down to only their essential elements.</p> <p>It is also applied to lifestyle. However, the big difference is that minimalists don’t focus just on living with less, they focus on <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/business-plans/spring-clean-your-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/business-plans/spring-clean-your-business">making room</a> for more – more time, more fulfilment, more passion and more freedom. Less ‘stuff’ is just one step in the process.</p> <p>Before you picture me cross-legged on a polished floor with no furniture, green tea and 22 worldly possessions, know that I’m far from being a minimalist. However, there is a lot to learn from the ‘less is more’ philosophy.</p> <p>The lessons that appeal to me most are: quality over quantity, defining what is genuinely important, eliminating anything that doesn’t add value, and focusing on the things that make the biggest difference in life.</p> <p>Here are four <em>to-don’ts</em> that I’m applying to my business, and life:</p> <h2>1. Stop piling stuff in corners</h2> <p><a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/office-organisation/improving-performance-by-clearing-clutter" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/office-organisation/improving-performance-by-clearing-clutter">Clutter</a> and unfinished business. It’s hidden behind the office door. Filling the drawer under the printer. In piles under the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/office-organisation/in-a-mess-its-time-to-declutter-your-desk" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/office-organisation/in-a-mess-its-time-to-declutter-your-desk">desk.</a> Lurking in dusty corners. Splattered in files on the desktop. <br /> <br /> Committing to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/office-organisation/decluttering-take-it-away" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/office-organisation/decluttering-take-it-away">decluttering</a> is the most obvious first step, but it’s also the fastest way to simplify, focus and re-energise.</p> <h2> 2. Stop flogging dead horses</h2> <p>Troublesome clients, faltering projects, energy-sapping friends, cold sales prospects, flaky suppliers, non-flowering Frangipanis … there’s only so much pushing you can do. If it’s not working, it’s time to bring it to a head, fix it or end it. All these things drain energy that’s needed elsewhere.</p> <h2>3. Stop ignoring opportunity costs – set limits and say NO</h2> <p>So you have a product to create, a book to write, good friends you haven’t seen in weeks, a lucrative project to deliver, things that are important to your future … but you find yourself having coffee with a <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/using-linkedin-for-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/online-networking/using-linkedin-for-business">LinkedIn</a> contact you met last week. How did they jump the queue?</p> <p>By recognising that every single thing you say YES to unquestionably means saying NO to something else, you can set the boundaries that you, and those around you, will respect.</p> <h2> 4. Stop chasing new shiny objects</h2> <p>New clients, new websites, new opportunities, new business ideas, a Newbery cricket bat … if your plate’s already full, don’t cram more on it. Either make room by getting rid of junk activities, or focus on completing your current objectives.</p> <p>Each year at Flying Solo, we spend a day going through our objectives and projects for the year gone and the year ahead. Like all businesses, limited time and resources require that we’re ruthless about opportunities we take on as well as the opportunities we let go.</p> <p>After some debate, we create two documents. One is the ‘work in progress’ where we list just three or four major projects that we’ll focus on for the year. Then we have our ‘future projects’ where we shelve solid ideas that didn’t quite make the cut.</p> <p>While it is very tempting to start working frenetically on all the good ideas at once, fully completing a handful of quality projects adds more value over the long term, so that less becomes more.</p> <p>That’s enough from me. What’s on your <em>to-don’t</em> list?&nbsp;</p> <p>PS: Want to know more? Check out <a href="http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/" mce_href="http://www.theminimalists.com/minimalism/">The Minimalists</a> and <a href="http://zenhabits.net/about/" mce_href="http://zenhabits.net/about/">Zen Habits</a> blogs.</p> Peter Crocker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14735 2014-07-06T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-03T14:26:06+10:00 Building a scalable product business <p>In this podcast, Tim Dwyer takes time out from his role within KPI's Entrepreneur Brand Accelerator event to explain how a service business can scale through products.</p><p>To access all Flying Solo podcasts visit <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcasts" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcasts">www.flyingsolo.com.au/podcasts</a></p> FlyingSolo tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14712 2014-07-05T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-02T10:50:54+10:00 Hiring woes: Five common recruitment mistakes <p>If you’re about to hire an employee, make sure you’re aware of these common mistakes. Hire correctly now and you’ll prevent a lot of headaches later. </p><p>Many years ago I was interviewing a guy in his early 20’s who, on paper, looked good except for one thing. In his ‘Interests’ he listed ‘Women’. Yes, <em>women</em>.&nbsp;</p> <p>Interests are often an opportunity to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-build-rapport-with-new-clients" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/sales-strategies/how-to-build-rapport-with-new-clients">build rapport</a> with a candidate, so I politely asked what he meant by that.&nbsp; He responded slowly and calmly while staring intently at me: “I like to watch them.”&nbsp;</p> <p>Needless to say, the interview was professional but short! My point being that had I not thoroughly read his CV, I may have missed this point and potentially made a bad hiring decision.&nbsp;</p> <p>It is critical, especially in small business, to <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/four-steps-to-hiring-an-employee" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/growth/four-steps-to-hiring-an-employee">hire</a> the best you can afford and to know exactly what skills you’re buying in the transaction. The challenge is that most small business owners have never been formally taught how to interview. One of the most common mistakes business owners make is to talk too much. Remember the 80/20 rule. You need to listen 80 percent of the time.&nbsp;</p> <p>You also need to excite the candidate about the opportunities of working with you while also being realistic. Ideally you are looking for a 60-70 percent skills match to allow for growth and tenure in the role.&nbsp;</p> <h2>The five most common recruitment mistakes&nbsp;</h2> <ol> <li><strong>Lack of preparation.</strong></li> <p>You need to read the CV in detail and write notes or questions around the areas you’d like to know more about.</p> <li><strong>Lack of certainty about the role you want filled.</strong></li> <p>Before you commence the interview process you need to be really clear about the role you want filled. Use a job description to clarify the role, write the ad and attract the best candidates.</p> <li><strong>Poor questioning technique and the inability to probe effectively</strong>.&nbsp;</li> <p>You need to use questioning techniques to review technical ability, behavioural match and cultural match. Most interviewers tend to skim over the questions and therefore receive prepared and standard answers. Use probing questions such as: “What happened next? What do you think? What did you do? What did you say? Can you give me an example?”</p> <li><strong>Lack of consistency and rigour of approach.</strong><strong>&nbsp;</strong></li> <p>When you’re running a recruitment campaign it’s important to ask each candidate the same or at least very similar questions, that way you can compare ‘like for like’.&nbsp; Try to interview each candidate twice so that you can assess each person more effectively.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <li><strong>Sales pitch </strong></li> <p>All too often interviewers forget the sales pitch. Like your competitors, you are seeking to <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">hire the best</a>, so make your offering as appealing as possible. Talk about the development opportunities and the culture – what it will be like to work with you.</p> </ol> <p>If you mess up the recruitment you may need to have a more difficult conversation later, which is, “You are not performing to expectations”. To be honest, I have not met many people who enjoy that type of conversation.</p> <p>Recruit to the best of your ability and you’ll hire the best you can afford.</p> <p><strong><em>Do you have any thoughts to add? Have your interviewed for your microbusiness recently? How did it go?</em></strong></p> <p><br /></p> Natasha Hawker tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14709 2014-07-04T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-06T14:49:28+10:00 Products: Six ways to rock the retail world <p>Would you like retailers to stock your products? If so, your products need to be outstanding. Here are six steps to help you rock the retail world.</p><h2>1. Quality and performance</h2> <p>It goes without saying that your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/promoting-your-product-turn-features-into-benefits" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/promoting-your-product-turn-features-into-benefits">product</a> should be top quality. This does not always mean using the most expensive materials, but that your product is created with skill and finished to a very high standard. This reflects its true value.</p> <h2>2. Branding</h2> <p>Your brand is the heart and soul of your product. It’s your style, your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/public-relations-pr/industry-expert-developing-a-voice" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/public-relations-pr/industry-expert-developing-a-voice">voice</a> and the feelings your customers experience when they think of your product. It’s a combination of tangible (logo, <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/how-to-write-a-business-slogan-for-your-small-business" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-marketing/how-to-write-a-business-slogan-for-your-small-business">taglines,</a> colour, fonts) and intangible elements (an emotion or aspiration).<span style="line-height: 1.5em;" mce_style="line-height: 1.5em;">&nbsp;</span></p> <p>The key to your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-branding/your-personal-branding-checklist" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/marketing/business-branding/your-personal-branding-checklist">branding</a> is consistency. Branding is your story, marketing is your communication.</p> <h2>3. Pricing</h2> <p>Correct pricing is a key element of long-term growth for creative entrepreneurs. Getting it right in the beginning saves heartache down the road.</p> <p>There is no cookie cutter pricing strategy and your pricing will be unique to your business. However, as a start at least, follow this basic formula:</p> <p>Cost price = Your hourly rate + cost of materials + overheads</p> <p>Cost price x2 = Wholesale price</p> <p>Wholesale x2 = Retail price</p> <p>Get your pricing strategy correct in the beginning and you can build and expand on your solid foundation.</p> <h2>4. Packaging</h2> <p>From a customer’s perspective, packaging should be pretty, eye catching and fabulous. From a retail perspective, a buyer also considers how durable your <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-start-up/up-and-away-marc-wittenberg-perfume-bottle-designer" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/startup/business-start-up/up-and-away-marc-wittenberg-perfume-bottle-designer">packaging</a> is and if it will withstand merchandising and handling. The packaging must protect the beautiful product inside while allowing customers to handle and admire.</p> <h2>5. Amazing photographs</h2> <p>You’re not expected to be a professional photographer but you <em>are</em> expected to take great product shots, or source someone who can. Photographs are a key influencer for retail buyers, especially when they don’t have your product samples.</p> <h2>6. Legal responsibilities</h2> <p>If you manufacture your own products it’s important to find the correct labelling standards that you need to comply with. This will depend on your product type and location.</p> <p>You may also need to take legal advice on product liability insurance, as retailers cannot risk their customers getting hurt. Research the legal requirements for your product category in your part of the world.</p> <p>If you implement these strategies, you may just have retailers forming an orderly line to stock your products in their store.<strong><em>&nbsp;</em></strong></p><p> <strong><em>What are your thoughts on rocking the retail world? Are your products stocked in stores? Share your story.</em></strong></p> Helen Roe tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14707 2014-07-03T07:30:00+10:00 2014-06-04T11:55:21+10:00 Tough love: Why I hired a business coach <p>My business and I needed a good kick up the you-know-what, some tough love. This is why.</p><h2>I lost direction&nbsp;</h2> <p>I love positive feedback, especially from those in the Flying Solo community. The encouragement I receive from people I respect is invaluable, but unfortunately I lost direction and wasn’t moving forward.&nbsp;</p> <p>I needed tasks with deadlines and I needed outcomes that would support the vision for my business, rather than simply doing my favourite tasks.&nbsp;</p> <h2>I changed, and not for the better!&nbsp;</h2> <p>Not so long ago I was a ‘completer finisher’ with obsessive attention to detail. Since running my business though, I have changed. I found that I kept generating ideas but there wasn't much actual business going on, let alone selling. As my coach pointed out to me, about 85 percent of what I was doing was creating. I needed to narrow my focus and concentrate on what would bring results for my business, I needed to channel my inner completer-finisher again.&nbsp;</p> <h2>I needed objective guidance&nbsp;</h2> <p>I've loved creating my business, but being so personally invested has meant that it’s hard to make tough decisions. I needed a trusted, impartial advisor who could cut through the emotion and help me make the right decisions.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Help me take action&nbsp;</h2> <p>I remember thinking when I started my business that <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/the-benefits-of-a-business-coach" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/professional-development/the-benefits-of-a-business-coach">coaches</a> aren’t necessary, however, while I understood what I should be doing in theory, I wasn't capable of applying it effectively to my business. I needed someone to help me take <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/business-plans/steps-for-putting-your-plan-into-action" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/business-plans/steps-for-putting-your-plan-into-action">action.</a><strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>A global perspective&nbsp;</h2> <p>In business we are exposed to the opinions and advice of our families, friends, business connections and various experts. Some of their opinions are valid, but the problem is that they most likely don't understand your entire business, your vision and your goals.&nbsp;</p> <p>The difference between a coach and everyone else is that they are looking at your business from a more global perspective, they know where you are now and what you're aiming for, and it's their job to help you get there.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> <h2>Want a coach?&nbsp;</h2> <p>You may have heard a horror story or two about business coaches, so <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/performance/how-to-choose-the-right-small-business-coach" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/working-smarter/performance/how-to-choose-the-right-small-business-coach">choose carefully.</a> My advice is to find someone you feel comfortable with so that your relationship will survive.&nbsp;</p> <p>Get a referral, or if you have trust issues like me, take baby steps. I followed my preferred coach on social media for a while before participating in a one hour free webinar, and then signed up for an eight week live webinar program. In my view this was an eight week job interview, but in reality she reeled me in. Yes, she's good.&nbsp;</p> <p>Is your business in need of some tough love? If so, find a coach you gel with and get started on your homework. Some tough love will get you back on track.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong><em>Have you worked with a business coach? What prompted you to work with one? Coaches, do you have any advice for those seeking tough love but don't know where to start?</em></strong></p> Mary Gardam tag:www.flyingsolo.com.au,2010:Media/14682 2014-07-02T07:30:00+10:00 2014-07-02T10:42:22+10:00 How to outsmart your online competitors <p>In this article find out who you’re competing with online and what useful insights you can gather from their marketing strategy.</p><p>Whether you’re a front runner or an aspiring soloist, half the battle is keeping an eye on your competitors. Here’s how to stay competitive online.</p> <h2>How to find your online competitors </h2> <p><em><b>Keywords</b></em></p> <p>If you haven’t done too much <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/are-you-suffering-from-search-engine-optimisation-seo-overwhelm" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/are-you-suffering-from-search-engine-optimisation-seo-overwhelm">Search Engine Optimisation</a> (SEO) before, complete some <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/basic-keyword-research-for-beginners" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/basic-keyword-research-for-beginners">basic keyword research</a> using the <a href="https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner" mce_href="https://adwords.google.com/KeywordPlanner">Google Keyword Planner (GKP)</a> to get an idea of which keywords and phrases are potentially lucrative for your business. Even if you’ve done research before, it’s always a good idea to look out for new opportunities.</p> <p>Go into GKP and type in a few general keywords for your industry. This should give you a list of relevant keywords and their monthly search volumes. Using a spreadsheet, make a list of all the keywords and phrases that you think would attract potential customers to your business.</p> <p><strong><em>Know thy offline enemy</em></strong><em> </em></p> <p>Visit the websites of all your known offline competitors. These are the bricks and mortar businesses you probably already know, who exist outside of the internet. For example, if you’re a plumber based in North Ryde, go into the yellow pages and look for other plumbers close by.</p> <p>On their website, note down in your spreadsheet a list of keyword(s) and phrases they are targeting on each page, within the <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/meta-tags-and-seo-a-beginners-guide" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/meta-tags-and-seo-a-beginners-guide">title tag</a><u>.</u> A title tag can give you a lot of insight about a competitor. Are they using the same keywords in your spreadsheet list? If you come across some new keywords that seem relevant, do a search in GKP.</p> <p>With the list of keywords generated from your GKP research and offline competitors, it’s time to see who actually ranks online. Go through the list and search all keywords in Google. Make sure you sign out of Google and put your browser in <a href="file:///C:/Users/Lucinda/AppData/Local/Temp/incognito%20mode" mce_href="file:///C:/Users/Lucinda/AppData/Local/Temp/incognito%20mode">incognito mode</a>.</p> <p>In your spreadsheet, create a list of the top five ranking websites for each particular keyword. These are your online competitors!</p> <h2>What can you learn about your online competitors? </h2> <ol> <li><b>Get a bird’s eye view: </b>Get an overall snapshot of their online marketing efforts by entering their URL in the <a href="http://www.semrush.com/" mce_href="http://www.semrush.com/">SEM Rush tool</a>. You will be able to get an idea of how much website traffic they receive, what keywords bring them the most traffic, and whether they are spending money on online advertising.<strong> </strong>This insight can motivate you to explore new marketing channels and techniques that may be working for your competitors.</li> <li><strong>Backlinks: </strong>Enter the competitor’s URL in <a href="http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/" mce_href="http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/">Open Site Explorer</a> to see which external sites are linking to them. This will give you an idea about how competitive they are from an SEO perspective. A competitor with lots of links, a high domain and page authority means that it’s going to be tough to outrank them.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Content Marketing: </strong>Pay attention to the quality and type of content they are creating. Can you make a new and improved version of their content? Are there topics with significant search traffic that are not being covered by your competitors? <a href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/hummingbird-how-to-keep-your-seo-alive-in-the-post-hummingbird-era" mce_href="http://www.flyingsolo.com.au/technology/seo-techniques/hummingbird-how-to-keep-your-seo-alive-in-the-post-hummingbird-era">Creating quality content</a><u> </u>for relevant long tail keywords can be a powerful way to gain an advantage in today’s SEO climate. </li> </ol> <p>Paying close attention to your competitors can be a motivating and tactical exercise that will help you discover new and interesting ways to market your business online.</p><p> <strong><em>How do you keep an eye on competitors?</em></strong></p> Adam Binstock